Captain James Hook, scourge of Neverland and habitual kidnapper pirate, sat across from you on his high backed throne of a chair. His long curling hair framed his face in a voluminous cloud of blackened silk. His glacial blue eyes were glossy with memory and weariness as they bored straight into your own. When he spoke his words were very slow and deliberate, "Listen carefully to my words pet, for what I'm about to tell you I'm afraid is the absolute truth and because it is the truth, I fear it will hurt you greatly, but nevertheless you have to face it because I don't want your fate to become the same as hers. I can see the suspicion in your eyes and that is perfectly well with me, I'd be worried if you believed me easily," He flashed the briefest of wry smiles before continuing, "Just listen to what I have to say and then make your own judgement on what to believe or whom to believe. That is all I ask."
Hook's words sounded so perfectly reasonable that you wanted to beg him to tell you everything he knew right then, and the curiosity he had piqued within you was dying to be satisfied, but still a smaller deeper part of you, the part that held George's memory as well as your love for Peter and The Lost Boys kept you from telling him to go on. That special part of your heart where you carried them around with you cried out silently for you to leave, to cover your ears, and run, but the more logical part of your brain kept you still seated in your chair. You were at war with yourself. Your heart which was now slightly wounded with the thought of Peter having already loved another before, wanted nothing more than to escape and to hold true to your already pre-conceived notions of who Peter really was, but your head was already busy testing the pieces of information Hook had already given you and it was having a hard time ignoring the glaring discrepancies between Hook's account of events as to those of Peter's account. No matter how much you wanted to you couldn't just leave and blindly trust in Peter's word alone, especially when it seemed like Hook knew more about your own boyfriend than you did. You had no other choice than to at least hear what Hook had to say.
A solemn nod towards the self proclaimed centuries old sea Captain was all he needed to proceed, "As I was saying, at first Neverland was a dream for Wendy and her brothers, but then as it always does, love complicates things. Despite the time paradox of Neverland one thing remains the same in the normal world as it does here and that is the fact that girls always mature much faster than boys. Thus was the case of Peter and Wendy. After being here quite some time Wendy began to fall in love with Peter and as I'm sure you well know, first loves are always the most crushing. But when you add a little magical interference to the mix they can become completely soul consuming."
Hook paused for a moment and taking you in with his gaze, seemed to be deliberating something with himself. His handsome brow furrowed into a worried line and his pillowy lips pulled down into an almost pouty frown. You had seen that look before. It was the look people got when they had bad news to tell but weren't sure how much to say or how well the other person would handle it.
A few days ago you would have admitted that you were a person who couldn't handle bad news very well. However Neverland had since cured you of that with it's relentless line of one blow after another. Twice already you were sure that you had breathed your last breath and so now while the looming threat of your heart maybe breaking was a big concern, you were positive you would survive it just as you had survived so many other things here in Neverland already. The softness you had, had before your arrival was gone now as well as the constant anxiety of what the future held in store for you. You were not the person you once were, you were stronger now, and in some respects harder, but you didn't feel bad about losing that softness. In losing your softness you had gained a new appreciation for yourself and for your life in general and in place of that softness, a backbone of steel was beginning to form. Despite the sickening churning in your gut that said your relationship with Peter might not ever be the same after this conversation, your new found strength reassured you that it was better to face your problems head on then to run from them. You were scared about what you might learn here tonight and your heart clenched at the thought of maybe losing Peter, but you had to push ahead through these feelings and find out the truth of what happened to Red Handed Jill... or rather Wendy Darling. If you ever wanted to have a future with Peter, if you were really going to stay in this brutal world with him forever, then you needed to know everything about his past and since he had never offered it up himself you would just have to take this chance to hear it from another.
And so even though your mouth was currently going dry as sandpaper, you motioned for Hook to continue the story. He hesitated for a split second before rolling his shoulders in an elegant shrug that said, "you asked for it". With a dramatic wave of his good hand he carried on where he had last left off.
"You see my dear girl, Wendy had developed very strong feelings towards Peter, but Peter at his age was completely oblivious to them. All the Lost Boys for their part had come to think of her as a kind of a mother figure and consequently as their leader Peter was delegated as the father of their little makeshift family. Precocious and rash as Peter was he quite liked the idea of playing house, especially when it put him as the head of it. So they continued on like that for some time, she the doting mother who tucked her boys into bed every night while telling them fanciful stories to fill their dreams and Peter the father who called all the shots, kept order, and administered discipline whenever one of the boys stepped out of line. To him it was a long standing game, a running joke if you will, but to Wendy what started out as pretend soon became all too real indeed. And so before she was even aware of it herself she had become victim to the pains of unrequited love. What was supposed to be innocent make believe soon turned into a desperate yearning of hers to become real. Yet as I mentioned before, the Peter you know now is a man, but the Peter Wendy knew was only ever a boy, and not just any type of boy, a boy without supervision, one left to do as he pleased when he pleased with no one to question him or to properly teach him about the more subtle nuances of life. This made him impulsive, obnoxious, thoughtless, and unbelievably selfish. He was like a gust of wind who came and went as he pleased, blind to all the things he stirred up in his wake."
Hook took a moment to take another sip of wine from his goblet. You hated to admit it, but he cut quite a dashing figure. His impeccable manners and posture hinted at a higher brand of education and breeding than you were used to. Then again if he really was centuries old it would make sense if he had been raised as one of the privileged elite at one time. The thought led you to question what kind of life Hook had, had before he came to Neverland and that led to even more questions about how exactly he had came here in the first place. Did a pixie take a liking to him too?
You studied the mysterious man before you as he took his time gingerly dabbing his mouth with a white cloth napkin. He wasn't exactly behaving like the villain everyone had painted him to be, well at least not yet anyway. There was still no telling how this little meeting was going to end and you couldn't trust that what he had said about Peter and The Lost Boys being fine earlier was entirely true. You gave him a once over, starting with his perfectly coiled dark locks, down over the sharply cut planes of his broad shoulders and narrow waist. The table blocked the view of the rest of him, but really it was enough on its own. Despite being dressed and poised like a gentlemen he had the dark sensuous features of an accomplished libertine. He actually looked like he belonged on the cover of one of those historically themed romance novels that moms liked to secretly read. Although your heart beat only for Peter, you couldn't help but appreciate the beauty of such a rare male specimen.
Hook's plush lips pulled upwards into an arch smile as his eyes twinkled with a knowing light. A wash of heat rushed into your cheeks at having been caught openly gawking at him. You let out a strangled cough as you pointedly turned your gaze towards your lap. Mortification and instant regret were no doubt flitting across your features. Despite his obvious grin, Hook mercifully decided not to make any comment and spared you from any further humiliation by going back to telling his story.
"Being the straight-forward type of girl that she was, Wendy confronted Peter about his feelings one night as they were participating in the annual Fairy Dance. She asked him what he felt when he thought about the word love. To her misery, Pan callously told her that he had never felt love and that even the sound of it offended him. Wendy tried to reach out to him, but when he realized what her true feelings were for him he threw a terrible tantrum, yelling at her and asking her why she had to spoil everything."
You were a bit taken aback by this part of his story. Peter never having felt love? That sounded so strange, especially since it really hadn't taken him all that long to warm up to you. And then there was this business about tantrums. The Peter you knew was a strong leader who took his responsibilities seriously and who cared about his people more than he did his own life. You couldn't even imagine someone like him throwing a temper tantrum just because a girl fancied herself in love with him.
The Captain must have seen the disbelief in your face for he smiled drily and said, "Oh yes it's true, he had quite a temper when he was younger and he threw it at anyone who challenged his own ideas. But like I said in the beginning, the young Peter of the past was a far cry from the capable and level-headed man you and I know today. He has done a lot of growing up in the past century or so whether he liked it or not." Here Hook paused and his casual expression seemed to turn bitter, "Our Neverland has a cruel sense of irony in that way. You come here with a promise of one thing only to end up receiving the exact opposite later."
Hook was quiet for a few seconds, once again having retreated into some place very deep inside himself. It was in moments like these that you could believe his claims of being over two hundred years old. Most people didn't get that glazed-over haunted look in their eyes unless they had seen a lot of terrible things in their lives. You sat patiently, letting him retract himself from whatever dark place he had gone to. When he had managed to draw himself back to the present, he blinked rapidly and turned those piercing blue eyes towards you. "My apologies, I tend to get lost in my own memories sometimes. Speaking of which why don't we go back to Peter and Wendy again. Shall we?"
You nodded your assent even though the painful tightening in your chest was telling you that you really didn't want to hear the rest of the story. You ignored it. You were tired of running away from the things that scared you. However this tale of Hook's ended you would bring it up to Peter as soon as you were reunited and saw that everyone was safe. Then you would let him tell his side of the story before you made up your mind about anything.
The Captain having regathered himself wasted no more time in returning back to the matter at hand, "As I mentioned to you before, girls mature so much more quickly than boys do and so having grown up just enough to realize that she no longer didn't want to grow up, our darling Wendy confessed to Peter that she thought love was something you could only realize when you grow up. Pan, who was unable to comprehend this theory, told Wendy that he would never grow up and that he absolutely refused to and that no one could make him. Then he threatened her that if she tried he would banish her."
You felt a sharp twisting pain in your heart at his words. Banishment. Now that was something the Peter you knew would do because he had already done it. Peter had banished Tinker Bell when she had tricked The Lost Boys into shooting you out of the sky your very first day in Neverland. The succulent grapes you had been nibbling on earlier suddenly seemed unappetizing and they turned into ash in your mouth. Hook was blind to your sudden discomfort and so continued on talking.
"Now, though our Wendy was a sweet tempered child by nature, she would not let anyone, even the boy she loved, tell her what to do. So she stood her ground and yelled right back at him that she would not be banished. Peter was not used to being stood up to, especially by someone his own age, and so he screamed at her in anger to just go home and grow up and to take her feelings with her. Then he flew away and left her stranded there alone in the Forest of the Faeries. It is one thing to have your heart rejected by someone, let alone your first love, but it is quite another thing to have it thrown back at you so spitefully. As strong as Wendy was she was not strong enough to withstand such a blow and so after a night of crying her eyes out she decided she would do just as Peter said, and that she would gather her brothers and go back home."
"Then what happened?" you asked leaning a little inwards towards Hook. His deep melodious voice had managed to draw you into the story. Hook faintly shook his head back and forth with his eyes downcast. "It took her a long time to convince her brothers to go back with her. You see the longer one stays in Neverland the memories that one wishes to forget will suddenly become forgotten. The two boys, Michael and John, had begun to entirely forget their mother and father and the life they had left behind. I'll prove it to you. When was the last time you thought of your family or the life you lived before you came to Neverland?"
The simple question struck you like a bolt of lighting. You had been in Neverland for only a week or two, but it dawned on you that in that brief period of time you hadn't really thought of anyone or anything you left behind, only about yourself and who you used to be. You pushed at your memory which used to be clear as a bell, but now when you tried to remember your loved ones' faces there was nothing but a faint, blurred silhouette of a person. A prickle of anxiety began to shoot up your spine as you desperately tried to pull things from your memory that seemed to no longer be there. What was the name of your best friend? Who was your favorite childhood teacher? What street did you live on?
You couldn't remember any of it. It was like everything and everyone from your life prior to Neverland had been erased and now there was this big empty void in your brain where they all should be. Sheer panic started to well up within you as you frantically tried to probe your memory for some little scrap of your former life, some tiny insignificant shred of recollection that hadn't been taken from you. Your mind had forgotten every one and every thing you used to love, but your heart still knew that there was something, someone that you did very much love before, but now you couldn't tell who or what that was anymore. Fat tear droplets began pouring from your eyes in no doubt a hideous waterfall. You had forgotten your own parents and huge chunks of your childhood were ripped out and missing leaving only faint impressions of events that were once monumental to making you the person you were now. How could I forget them?
Hook's large warm hand lightly rested atop your own over the table top. Your brought your still dripping eyes up to his in horror. "What's happening to me?" you whispered in a pleading tone. His cool blue eyes were pinched with compassion. He started to gently rub the top of your hand with his thumb as he answered in a tone that people usually used to calm animals, "It is one of the effects of living in this world I'm afraid. If at some point you ever decide that you don't want to remember something, even subconsciously, Neverland will erase those memories from your mind without you ever being aware of it. When you came to Neverland you didn't want to grow up yes? This was probably because there was something in your former life that scared you, something you wanted to run away from and forget, and so when you came here the more you stayed, the more Neverland erased."
"How do I get it back?" you begged as your body began to shake with this new found information. When Peter had come into your window all those nights ago he hadn't mentioned anything about forgetting who you used to be... or had he? The memory of the night you first met Peter was still there and crystal clear though everything before his appearance was lost. Did Peter know about this effect? Did he know that when he promised to take you to a world where you never grew up (possibly not true). that you would also never remember anything from your previous life again? If he did how could he not tell you? Did he not know how important some of those memories were? Precious moments of your life that you may never be able to get back again...
A sob broke free from your throat as you realized that you may never know who you used to be ever again. It felt as if your very identity had been erased. You had a strange feeling of having been violated in the worst way. Neverland had reached into your mind without your consent and it had taken all of who you used to be and love and the worst part of it all was that you hadn't even known it. It had all happened and you hadn't even felt a thing. In all your time here in this awful world only this one man who they called Hook had bothered to bring it to your attention, to let you know that you had been robbed blind of all you once had held dear.
Hook stood and slowly, carefully came around the table to stand towards your left. He leaned down, crouching on the balls of his feet as it brought your face level with his. "Oooh" he cooed, "there, there," he comforted you as he brought his one good hand up to gently brush away the tear tracks that had formed down your cheeks with a handkerchief from his robe pocket. You would have smacked it away from you and spat at him if it hadn't been for the sincerity in his eyes and the compassion in his tone. There wasn't a hint of patronization or calculation on him. His eyes met yours with a world weariness that seemed to understand the weight of your agony. He dabbed at your eyes gently like a father would do to a beloved daughter. "It doesn't have to be this way," he said as he used his hooked hand to tuck away a stray lock of your hair that threatened to fall into your eyes. You should have been afraid to have that gleaming cold silver close to your face, but there was nothing the least bit threatening about Hook in that moment. His muscles were loose and relaxed and his face seemed only to want to console you. "You can regain your memories again. All is not lost. At least...not yet."
"How do I get them back?" you desperately begged once more.
"I will tell you everything, but first you must hear the rest of the story."
To be continued…
Authors Note: You know what I like about the Peter Pan story? It's that to certain people Peter is a wonderful and exciting hero who encompasses everything that is magical and fun in the world, while to other's Peter, not Hook, is the villain of his own story. A boy who never grows up sounds really sweet and charming to some people, but to others a child that never grows up is just an insufferable brat. Lots of people like to point out that Peter is a selfish and arrogant kid with somewhat sadistic tendencies seeing as he cut of Hook's hand and fed it to a crocodile and seemingly had no remorse about it. And considering in the original version by J.M. Barrie there is that line where when the Lost Boys seemed to be growing up, which was against the rules, Peter "thinned" them out... Yeah, I don't like to think about that line very much...But I just really love the duality of Peter's character. He is both hero and villain and I think that's really cool. Now fear not my dear readers my Peter is not a sadist. Whether or not he is the hero or the villain though is yet to be seen. Stay tuned for the next chapter to find out what will happen next. Much love to you all!