Dreams of Stars (A Once Upon a Time/Jiminy Cricket fanfic)

This is a New Character fanfiction of "Once Upon a Time", and it's written to be parallel with the original show. It adds backstory to Jiminy and Geppetto.

I've added my own character to "Once Upon a Time"--the girl from this old English fairy tale, "The Stars in the Sky": http://www.essentia.com/book/stories/skystar.htm

In the Enchanted Forest, the little girl--named Kaelin--became friends with Jiminy Cricket in her quest to reach the stars. In Storybrooke, she's 17 and named Bridget, and she has to see Dr. Archie Hopper for her serious struggles with feelings of failure and lack of confidence.

Recommended for people who have watched "Once Upon a Time", but if you haven't, this might get you hooked on it. Just be careful--there are spoilers. ;)

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32. Enchanted Forest

            Time dragged on in Cinderella’s pantry, and Kaelin found that she couldn’t keep track of how long it had been. Before long, she began to feel useless to Cinderella too. Yes, she was there and she could sew a bit, but the abuses of the stepmother and stepsisters were relentless. Kaelin felt helpless to do anything about it, but that—that was surely what Cinderella needed to escape from. Having an understanding friend wasn’t enough. If things went on like this, her soul would still be crushed.

            Of course, Kaelin didn’t transfer her discouragement about herself to Gus, and she didn’t speak of it either. Gus seemed invulnerable to any discouragement, and he still knew how to make Cinderella laugh. He was surely more help than she was. Though Kaelin began telling herself that she was worthless, she couldn’t bring herself to think the same thing about Gus—despite the fact that Gus couldn’t get Cinderella out of here either.

            The need to find a way for Cinderella to escape this horrible place became a desperate, continual longing in Kaelin’s gut—like her mouse’s need to gnaw on something. She began to look for ways. But what ways were there? Cinderella could simply run away and try to live on her own, but she had tried that once before, and her stepmother had sent men to bring her back. It had been a terrifying experience for her. Once, Kaelin had suggested that Cinderella might wish to become an animal too, but Cinderella didn’t want that. Becoming an animal, she had decided, was the one thing worse than remaining here. Cinderella had always dreamed of finding true love. It was one of the reasons she wanted out. She felt that, if she became an animal like Kaelin, that dream could never happen.

            Kaelin hadn’t thought of that. While she was in the orphanage, she had been too absorbed in waiting for the return of a cricket to think about finding true love. It hadn’t been a factor for her then, and it still wasn’t. Cinderella, on the other hand, would always watch the fireworks from the palace on the hill and dream of finding her own prince. It didn’t have to be a literal prince, of course. Just someone for her to love. Perhaps that person—wherever he was—could be her escape.

            During her time with Cinderella, Kaelin had started on a regular schedule for seeing Jiminy. She had discovered how to hitch a ride on a merchant’s cart to travel from Cinderella’s village to Geppetto’s, and that ride only took a day. Every other month, then, Kaelin went to spend a day at Geppetto’s workshop, and in the months in between, Jiminy came to see her. It kept her from having to miss him too much, and she was able to keep up to date on how Pinocchio was doing.

            Though Pinocchio seemed to become continually more wild and naughty, Jiminy was surprisingly less discouraged every time Kaelin saw him. Jiminy was becoming calmer and more sure of himself. His character and his understanding of life were deepening beautifully. Kaelin felt that this was from his friendship with Geppetto. Ever since Jiminy had achieved what was most important to him, he had been flourishing under this newfound freedom of forgiveness. Even Pinocchio’s constant failure to listen to his conscience couldn’t overcome the encouragement Jiminy had from being forgiven.

            One month, however, Jiminy didn’t come to Cinderella’s house. Worried about him, Kaelin headed off for the workshop on the first day of the following month. When she arrived, there was no sign of anyone. Her heart pounding, Kaelin scrambled all through the house, looking behind every beautifully-carved toy, trinket, or piece of furniture in the workshop and store. “Jiminy!” she called, “Geppetto! Pinocchio!” There was no one there.

            Calm down… she told herself, They may just be on an outing. Perhaps they’ve gone to the olive groves. Yes, perhaps Geppetto wanted to take little Pinocchio to see the silver olive trees. She curled up beside the door and waited the rest of the day for them to return. No one came.

            Distressed, Kaelin stepped out into the night and looked out across the sea. There was a tall, grassy hill sloping down from Geppetto’s workshop with broken, stone stairs leading to the shore. The beach was made of chipped, gray stones, and there were rock islands just off the coast with pine trees growing on them. A cold breeze blew up from the darkened waters, making Kaelin shiver. “Where are they?” she whispered.

            “Kaelin…” said a voice from behind her. She turned around. It was Nova.

            “Do you know where they are?” Kaelin asked, tears coming to her eyes.

            Nova nodded, but the worry in her face was frightening. “They’re gone,” she replied, “N-not dead, but…somewhere dangerous. Pinocchio was tricked. He was enticed to a place called ‘Pleasure Island’, and Jiminy went with him to try to convince him to change his mind. When Geppetto found out they were gone, he sailed out to find them.”

            “But they’ll be all right, won’t they?” Kaelin pressed, “They won’t die?”

            “I don’t know,” Nova said, shaking her head quickly, “I only hope they’ll be all right. As I said, it’s dangerous. I don’t know much about this Pleasure Island, but I do know it’s not what it seems.”

            “What should I do?” Kaelin pleaded, frightened, “Should I go after them?”

            “I don’t know how you can,” Nova said regretfully, “I think the only thing you can do for now is go back to Cinderella.”

            Kaelin bit her lip. Nova was right. There was nothing she could do. Early the next morning, she took the first merchant’s cart back to Cinderella’s town. Fear for them churned in her stomach—fear especially, she had to admit, for Jiminy. He was in danger. What would she do if he died?

            When she returned to Cinderella’s house the morning after, however, Kaelin was immediately caught up in a whirl of excitement. There would be a royal ball tomorrow evening—a ball to see who would have the prince’s hand in marriage! Cinderella’s two stepsisters were nagging her more than ever. She had to make sure their dresses were clean and perfect for the ball, and that everything was in place. Of course, when no one was looking, Gus would be the one making sure the dresses were in tip-top shape. It was his specialty.

            Cinderella wanted to go to the ball more than anything. “If I could go,” she whispered to Kaelin, “I might meet my true love there. I know it’s…a silly, girlish notion…But you meet people at balls. Maybe one of them will love me and take me far away. If only I could go!”

            In fact, Cinderella wished so much to go to the ball, she even managed to work up the courage to ask her stepmother. Upon hearing the timidly stated idea, the stepmother flew into a rage. “You? You want to go to the ball?” she demanded, “And in what? Those rags? Aren’t you even thinking, girl? You need to have a nice dress to attend a ball! You at least need to be clean, and you can’t even do that! Don’t bother me!”

            The tone of the stepmother’s explosion had been so horribly familiar to Kaelin that she wanted to run away and curl up in a corner, but instead she listened. The stepmother hadn’t simply forbade Cinderella to go. Instead, she had basically said it would be impossible on account of her lack of a nice dress. The stepmother probably hadn’t meant she would let Cinderella go even if she did have a dress, but Kaelin saw a glimmer of hope nonetheless. She ran to find Gus.

            Upon hearing Kaelin’s excitedly whispered plan, Gus looked at her aghast. “What? You want us to make a dress for her? In one night? You’re crazy, Kaelin.”

            “Yes, but…it might give her a chance,” Kaelin urged, “You’re great at making clothes. You helped me make that outfit for Jiminy.”

            “I helped you make a cricket-sized outfit,” Gus pointed out, “What you’re talking about is a full-scale, human-sized project. In one night.”

            Kaelin lowered her head, embarrassed. “You’re right, I’m being ridiculous,” she mumbled, “Sorry. I just…wanted to give her a chance…” She began to turn away.

            “Wait, I didn’t say we weren’t going to try it,” Gus said hurriedly, catching her shoulder and making her face him again, “I said it was crazy. And that…is what makes it a challenge.” He grinned. “It’s a challenge I’m up for. You give up too easily, Kaelin.”

            Kaelin smiled in surprise. “You mean…we’re going to try it?”

            “It’s probably going to end horribly, but we are,” Gus replied with a grin, “Now, where can we get some fabric? Those dresses the stepsisters plan to wear are ghastly—way over the top. Ours will charm with simplicity.”

            Kaelin stared at him in amazement. This kind of attitude was foreign to her, but she liked it. It’s probably going to end horribly, but we’ll do it… She wished she could have that kind of attitude. Well, for now, she’d just follow in Gus’s pawsteps.

            Though night had not yet fallen, Gus and Kaelin crept through the house, keeping hidden and scouting out the materials they would need. There was a sewing room in the house where the torn clothes were repaired. Most of what they needed was in that room, including a roll of pale pink silk. Gus seemed to have no qualms about using it, and though Kaelin was worried, she didn’t voice her concerns. Aside from that, Gus decided they needed pearls, perhaps, and a ribbon—not an elaborate ribbon, but just a thin, plain one. These they snuck from the stepsisters’ rooms. “Look, they have so much, they won’t notice a few missing,” Gus said.

            After everyone was asleep, including Cinderella, they set to work. They worked tirelessly, cutting out patterns and cloth, stitching, aligning edges, cinching. Slowly, surely, the dress came together: a lovely, simple, pink silk dress: tight around the waist but not too frilly, and not too bold. Once it was done, Gus pulled the pearls off their string and had Kaelin sew them in a pattern on the front of the dress while he took the gold ribbon and wove it through the waist so that it could be tied in the back. It was beautiful. “You see?” Gus said proudly as they stepped back to survey their work, “If anything can get Cinderella to that ball, this can.”

 

 

 

 

            Early the next morning, when Cinderella woke up, Gus and Kaelin eagerly led her to the sewing room where the dress was laid out on the floor. She could hardly believe her eyes. “You made this?” she whispered, “For me?”

            “Yes, so you can go to the ball,” Kaelin replied.

            “But…” Tears came to Cinderella’s blue eyes, and she blinked them away hurriedly. “I can’t. She said I needed to be clean too—I…I could never fit in at a ball.”

            “Well, then, wash yourself up,” Gus told her, “Before they wake up. Get as clean as you can, put on the dress, and impress them. They can’t refuse after they see that.”

            Cinderella shook her head fearfully, but she decided it was worth a try. She drew water and took a bath, making sure she cleaned her face particularly thoroughly. Then she put on the dress. While she prepared, Gus and Kaelin did what they could of her morning chores. She was still able to finish preparing breakfast before the stepmother and stepsisters woke up—there was no need for them to know that mice had sliced the apples and scooped oats into the pot with their paws.

            When her stepmother and stepsisters came into the kitchen, Cinderella calmed her trembling as best she could and turned to them gracefully with a smile. They stopped when they saw her, momentarily speechless with astonishment.

            “What is this?” her stepmother whispered, looking her up and down.

            “You told me…I needed to be able to present myself well to go to the ball,” Cinderella replied levelly, “I will finish all my work for today. I promise. I won’t bother you. I won’t let anyone know I’m with you. I won’t cause any trouble. Just…let me ride along. Please.”

            “And where did you get that dress?” the stepmother asked coldly.

            This time, an involuntary tremor shook Cinderella. “I…made it,” she replied softly.

            “Yes, with my ribbon!” spat one of the stepsisters, shoving past her mother and tearing the gold ribbon from around Cinderella’s waist.

            “And my pearls!” shrieked the other, “You beast! You tore apart my string of pearls!” She grabbed at the neck of Cinderella’s dress and ripped it, managing to pull off several of the pearls in the process.

            “And you stole the material, you wench!” the stepmother exclaimed in horror. She seized Cinderella’s skirt and tore it as well. “I can’t believe you! Unbelievable! Not only are you lazy and stupid, you’re also a thief! Why should I ever let you attend the ball after this? No! You will be punished for this, young lady!”

            Kaelin choked on a sob. Pressing a paw over her mouth, she turned and fled. She couldn’t watch. This was all her own fault. If she had never suggested making that dress, this wouldn’t be happening to Cinderella. Things were so much worse for Cinderella now—because of her! She should have known this would happen, should have seen the warning signs. It reminded her of when she had bitten through the strings of Francesco’s puppets. Whatever idea she had, whenever she tried to help someone, she was wrong. She only ended up hurting them in the end.

 

 

 

            Later that night, Rumpelstiltskin accomplished what Gus and Kaelin could not: getting Cinderella to the ball. With a wave of what used to be her fairy godmother’s wand, he clothed her in a beautiful, blue ball gown, lovelier than anything Gus and Kaelin ever could have made. Then he turned the two mice into horses (thankfully not recognizing either of them), and he turned a pumpkin into an elegant carriage for them to pull—an interesting experience, to say the least. At midnight, they changed back, but by then Cinderella had met her prince—the king’s son himself, Prince Thomas. The very next day, he came looking for her, and they were engaged. Cinderella left her stepmother and stepsisters behind, taking Gus and Kaelin with her to the palace.

            However, at the palace, all Kaelin could think about was whether Jiminy, Geppetto, and Pinocchio were safe. Ella was free now. Her dreams were coming true. Did she truly need Kaelin anymore? At night, Kaelin Mouse went to the window and called softly for Nova. After speaking to the Blue Fairy, Nova told Kaelin it was all right for her to go back home. The next morning, Kaelin said goodbye to Ella and Gus, and she traveled back to the workshop. Yet when she arrived, there was still no one there.

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