Chapter 1: Prologue
Every time something happens, there is always another possibility when something else could have happened. This story is about such a possibility. So far the story had been the same as it always was. The boy who was forever young lures the girl and her brothers to a wonderful island, far away from everywhere, a place where the most wonderful adventures existed. And the most terrifying dangers.
Then the story differs. On the ship's deck where the last battle between the boy and the pirate stands, it is not the boy who comes out victorious. No, instead an iron claw slashes down, there is blood everywhere and then a lifeless body of a child on the rough wooden planks. The girl screams, the rest of the children stare in shocked silence. No one ever thought this would happen. Peter is dead and the pirate captain casually kneels to make sure it is so. He wipes the claw clean on the leaves the boy is clad in, leaves that has already started to wither and die.
The pirate looks up and stares into the eyes of Wendy. She screamed once, but now her voice is gone and so are her feelings. She stares at the man and right now she doesn't know who he is, or why he looks at her with a mixture of triumph and sadness. For a moment she has forgotten her brothers and their friends, she doesn't even notice the little fairy weeping in the air above her.
James Hook regards the girl and thinks it will be best to kill her. He feels a pang of regret, but what use is she for him? He will, however, do her the courtesy and do it when they are alone, so her body doesn't have to be gawked at by his unwashed men. The Captain takes the short step that separates them and takes her arm. It's the first time he has actually touched her and it feels like a bolt of lightning goes through him when his hand touch her flesh. Suddenly he can see who she truly is, to him and to everything else in this place. And he understands that he cannot kill her, lest the world around them should crumble and fall to pieces. In his hand he holds the most precious treasure he could ever hope to win and he thanks whatever forces he recognises that he has not managed to kill her before this day.
So he gives orders to get rid of the body and lock the rest of the boys away. Hook is suddenly weary and doesn't want to think of what he is going to do with them now. That leaves the girl and still holding her arm, he leads her with him back to his cabin. Wendy follows him without resistance and the door closes heavily behind them.
Chapter 2: Chapter 1
When Wendy slowly regained a sense of the world again, she found she was sitting in a chair in Captain Hook's cabin. At first she couldn't tell how she had got there, or why, but then the past hour's events trickled back into her memory. Peter. Peter was - dead? It was a truth she didn't want to acknowledge, and she shut her eyes to close it out, but to no avail. The image of Peter's lifeless body could not be banished by such means, instead it became even more clear and she opened her eyes with a shudder. The Captain was sitting at the table with a glass close to his hand, watching her intently. He didn't seem very happy over his achievement, but she thought little about that, still feeling oddly numb.
Hook, in turn, noticed that the girl had roused herself into a state that more resembled her usual self. He was not fooled; he had seen shock before and knew she had not yet fully understood what had happened and the possible implications it brought. In truth, he did not look forward to the moment when she would become aware of them. He was tempted to dose her with laudanum and thus prolong this docile state, but if what he suspected was true, he needed her mind undimmed from drugs.
No, he corrected himself, it was not mere suspicion, he knew it was the truth. He held in his hand the sole reason for his existence and she didn't know it. For some reason he understood what she didn't; that Neverland and everything in it had sprung from her words alone. That he was certain of; she had no idea of who she was to this island and to those who lived there. So, how was he going to use it? Right now he didn't know, he was tired and though he knew the world was open for him, at the moment he craved sleep above everything else.
"Could I offer you some food?" he asked Wendy. "Or perhaps a glass of water?"
Wendy started at the sound of his voice, but then she just shook her head. Hook didn't pressure her. Eventually he would make her eat, but right now he let her be. What he really needed to do was to decide what he was going to do with her during the night. He didn't really trust his men not to try to dispose her if she was locked in with the other children. The crew didn't want a woman on board and Hook wasn't altogether sure that they wouldn't be prepared to face his wrath in this case.
Besides, who knew what Wendy would do without being watched. He really couldn't risk anything; he could not give her an opportunity to harm herself. In the end the Captain called for Smee to fetch linen and blankets to the daybed at the foot of his own large four-poster. It was not ideal, a girl, even if young, should not share a bedroom with a man, but for this night it couldn't be helped.
Hook looked at the girl in the chair. She was studying her hands, sitting unnaturally still for a child. Her white night-gown was not so white anymore, and the hem had mostly fallen down. He would have to find more suitable clothes for her, or rather, Smee would have to. And a bath. He watched her dirty feet with disdain. Children were such nasty critters, after all, they had no sense in keeping themselves clean and tidy. Well, she would have to learn.
When Smee told her where she was to sleep, Wendy made no objection, curling up on her makeshift bed and hiding her head in her arms without a word. She did react, however, when Smee conjured up a chain and proceeded to chain her to one of the posts of the Captain's bed.
Wendy's pleading became more insistent the more Smee tried to catch her ankle. Sitting in bed with her legs underneath her, he couldn't reach it and became more and more flustered. Smee was a kind man, despite his profession, and was ready to let it all be, but a low growl from the Captain finally made Wendy stretch out her foot. Hook was not going to have a little girl running around in his cabin and especially not one who could not be counted on to not try to kill him while he was sleeping.
As Hook found out, it proved to be more a trial to keep Wendy in the cabin than he had anticipated. He could not undress with a young female around and was forced to go to sleep in his shirt and breeches. Even after he had unscrewed the claw it was very uncomfortable to sleep in the harness. That night he did not sleep well, tossing and turning to try to find a more comfortable position. It was doubtful if Wendy slept much either. Somewhere after the witching hour she finally started to cry, and the Captain lay in the darkness and listened. For a moment he was tempted to get up and try to comfort her, but he thought better of it. He, who had no comfort for himself, how would he be able to comfort the girl he was going to separate from everything she held dear?
Wendy woke up when the Captain got up, but for a long time she pretended that she was still asleep. She wondered, not without cause, what he was going to do to her. Why hadn't he kill her yesterday; what use could he have of her? When Smee came and unlocked the chain and the Captain motioned her to follow him out of the cabin, she did so very apprehensively. There, bound together, their eyes red from crying, were her brothers and the Lost Boys. Hook waved his claw at them.
"I have in mind to be magnanimous, Wendy. I will let all the little boys go, I have no use for them. They will be returned to the island to live their sorry lives the best way they can." He watched the girl carefully as he spoke and saw that she was frowning.
"Why?" she asked and Hook smiled.
"It's so simple, my beauty. You will just promise to stay here. I'm not going to hurt you, if you do what I tell you to do. Obey me and you will have a pleasant life. But if you don't agree I will kill every one of the boys in front of your eyes."
Wendy didn't have to think about it long before she nodded, her lips white and trembling as if she is about to cry and she whispered: "I promise."
Everything happened very fast, then, as Hook was eager to get rid of the children. The dinghy was soon setting out for the shores of Neverland, filled with bewildered children who didn't really understood that those hurried embraces Wendy had given them were the last they would ever get from her.
Hook and Wendy watched it all happen; they saw how the dinghy returned empty save for the man rowing it. The Captain expected Wendy to cry, but she just stood there in silence. When he told her to come back to the cabin she followed him as docile as the day before. Once in there she finally asked him the another question.
"Why do you want me to stay with you?"
"Well, we could use a storyteller on this ship."
"I don't believe that is true." It was a statement said flatly and with conviction.
Hook met the girl’s eyes. Wendy already seemed older than she had before Pan died and he felt as if she could read his soul. All of a sudden he became afraid that she would understand what his true purpose was, and he quickly thought of another explanation, one she would believe.
"Well," he said slowly. "You are still very young, but you will soon grow up. You will be a woman in just a few years and then, then I will wed you."
As soon as he said the words he knew he was not completely untruthful. As a child she was of no interest to him, but her face was quite passable and held a promise of a woman to be who would be more than mundane. He had never considered a spouse, but to marry her would bind her even closer to him. She was, as well, of a respectable English family, not the unknown dregs one encountered in ports. In short, he concluded, it was not a bad idea at all.
Wendy did not agree with him. She sprung up, revulsion and horror mingling on her face.
"Never!" she cried. “I won't marry you, ever! It's disgusting! You are evil, and, and- old!" To Hook's relief she did not question his motives, probably because what he had told her had become the truth as he spoke the words, but it stung him nevertheless. His anger, which was so easily awakened, rose and without thought, he slapped her across the face. Still, he kept his full strength at bay, even if it there were enough power in the blow to send her sprawling on the floor. There she burst into tears, wailing sobs that grated on the pirate's ears. The whole scene was less than satisfactory in his view and he opted to leave the cabin, leaving Wendy alone with her tears.
"We will see," he told the closed door. "You created me, here I am, and I will not be rejected when the time comes."
Hook went to fetch Smee, ordering him to see that Wendy got a bath and something more decent to wear. When he returned to the cabin for his dinner he was pleased to see that his orders had been followed. Wendy was clean, her hair combed and braided. The clothes were ridiculous, but far better than a nightgown in Hook's opinion. She wore a man's shirt, but Smee had conjured up a skirt somehow. It was too long, but of a rather pretty blue colour and Wendy was not altogether indifferent to her new clothes. The soft silk of the skirt felt pleasant against her skin, and it happened she stole a moment to stroke it with her hand.
Wendy didn't want to eat. She adamantly claimed he was not hungry, which both of them knew was a lie. Hook quickly grew tired of the game. He was in no mood to coax and reminded Wendy rather bluntly that she had promised to obey. At that Wendy ate, and it tasted, despite her misery, very well. She had not eaten much for nearly two days and now she was suddenly ravenous and continued to eat long after the Captain had finished.
He, in turn, leaned back in the chair and while he slowly smoked one of his cigars, he mused over the peculiar things he had so recently learned. He was, Hook was sure, a real man, however he had originated. He had memories and urges and he doubted Wendy could have thought them all up in her stories. She was a child, after all, with no real knowledge of a grown man’s thoughts and urges. No, she may be the creator of this realm, her word the truth, but when she had spoken them, they became so much more. They became real, with all that contained. There was no need for Wendy to tell all the details, they filled in themselves. Though the Captain rather resented the fact that she had power over him, the possibilities of having her in his grasp, were enormous.
It made Hook's head hurt to think this and his attention returned to the girl herself instead. Wendy was now finished with her meal and was once again watching her hands. No doubt she was wandering over her new life and what would happen her on this ship.
"We will leave tomorrow," he told Wendy.
"Where to?" she asked and Hook realised to his dismay that he knew not. He was certain there were other places to go to apart from Neverland, but he had no names and no memories of them.
"Where do you think a pirate would go?" he asked her instead and to his delight Wendy took his question seriously.
"The Caribbean," she said finally, after some thought.
"Ah, yes. Naturally he would go to the Caribbean and so we will. Now, tell me what you think a proper harbour for a pirate would be. Tell me a story about it."
Wendy was a bit startled over the request but as the Captain seemed to be in a pleasant mood and she was afraid to anger him again, she decided to do as he said. As she spoke, the storyteller in her awoke and she felt the familiar joy of weighing words against each other, choosing the right one and linking the sentences together. She talked at length, elaborating what she knew with what she thought ought to be there, and Hook listened. The more she spoke, the more the memories unfolded in his mind, they were there as if they always had been there, though he knew it was just a matter of minutes. They were going to the pirate city of Fortuna, ruled by the infamous Captain Morris who even a fearsome man like Hook respected.
When Wendy had told him all she could imagine, she slumped back into the chair. She seemed oddly exhausted, almost on the verge of falling asleep. Hook watched her and in a sudden bout of inspiration he decided to make some amends for using her like this.
"Tell me another story," he said. "Tell me about an adventure your brothers and their friends will surely have in Neverland. Let it end happily, let it end with the children being home in their mother's arms again."
Wendy stared at the man. Had he grown mad? The only conclusion she could come up with was that he sought to torture her by making her think about her brothers and her parents whom she was never going to see again. The thought of her mother almost made her cry again, but Hook was determined to hear this story and did not hesitate with coming up with not so unveiled threats to make Wendy comply. Finally she started to speak again, reluctantly and slowly, about the adventures her brothers would experience.
When she was finished, ending the tale with how Mother embraced her sons, she did start to cry. She couldn't stop herself, even if she thought she had cried far too much recently. But she was just a child and the strain of the past days took its toll on her, so she cried for a long time, and eventually sleep claimed her as she sat on the chair. She could feel someone,- it must have been the Captain,- lifting her up and carrying her to her bed, where she quickly fell deeper into slumber.
Hook watched Wendy sleep. She looked pale and drawn to him and he suddenly felt sorry for her.. He could not tell her that her story would become truth as that would give her the tools of his destruction.
"Don't worry," he said to the sleeping child. "They will find their way home now."
For many days, how many Wendy didn't know, they sailed. She slept a lot these first days and ate little, growing thinner and quieter. Hook let her be, keeping himself out of the cabin as much as possible. Smee set up a bed in a small cabin close to the Captain's and provided a sturdy lock for it, a lock to which only the Captain had the key. Wendy spent her nights there, enabling the Captain to sleep better, safe with the knowledge that she was carefully protected from any crew members who wanted to harm her, and, not unimportantly, letting Hook have his cabin to himself during the nights. The days he let her spend in his cabin, leaving her to amuse herself with whatever she fancied of the keepsakes and books he had collected there.
So they sailed and one day they spotted land. Soon Fortuna lay like a glimmering pearl before their eyes. Hook smiled when he remembered the good times he had had there, but then he frowned. It was confusing to remember a thing he knew was just a few days old. He glanced at Wendy who stood by the railing, watching the island coming closer. She seemed totally oblivious to the implications her tales had, watching the town before her with interested eyes.
Hook planned to leave Wendy in Fortuna. He could not have her on the ship, it was too unsafe. It was not a solution he was particularly pleased with, but he could think of no other. Fortuna was as safe as he could ever hope for. The town was a haven for any pirate ship that was prepared to pay Captain Morris the fee. A safe place to leave your treasures as long as you paid for it. Hook was going to pay, handsomely, to ensure Wendy's safety. He knew that Morris was trustworthy as long as the promise to more riches were made and kept.
Captain Morris received Hook, and the tired-looking girl who accompanied him, very gracefully. They had met before and Morris knew about the ruthlessness the pirate possessed. He had not reached the position of ruler of Fortuna for being stupid. He provided everything a man could need when he stepped ashore and if what Hook needed was a place to keep the girl, Morris had no objections. He was well aware that Hook could be a very dangerous opponent, and Morris preferred to keep on his good side.
Wendy was wafted away by Morris's mistress who gave her sweets and lemonade and cooed over her clothing. Wendy watched the woman with some wonder, eyeing the colourful clothing and the make-up with wide-eyed surprise. Veronique looked nothing like any woman Wendy had ever seen before, but she was kind and maternal. She quickly felt at ease, allowing the woman to give her a bath and new clothes.
Morris didn't ask Hook any questions, but when the pirate had left in order to take care of whatever Wendy would need for her stay, he felt a bit uneasy. He was concerned enough to ask Veronique if Hook slept with the child as he could think of no other reason for a man to be so concerned over a child's welfare. But Veronique was convinced it was not so.
"No, no, the child is untouched," she said. "Perhaps she is his own child?"
Morris thought not. If Wendy was, then why hadn't Hook said so? There was a mystery there, but the amount of gold that Hook provided for Wendy's keep made Morris decide to let it be. He felt a vague relief that the child was still an innocent and left it with that.
Captain Hook saw to it that Wendy came to live in a pleasant house, with servants for her every need. When it came to possessions she didn't lack for anything. As he could not stand a woman with a blank mind, he took care to see she was educated. The beautiful women he enjoyed bored him the minute their beauty became old for him when he realised they had no words and no thoughts of their own. So Wendy was taught French and some Latin, how to sing and play the harpsichord. Tutors were sent to her to teach her to do sums, a scrap of philosophy and of course more ordinary women's skill such as sewing and embroidery. The books he read on his travels he brought back to her, making sure she read them.
Every year he visited her, talked to her for a few brief minutes, decided he was still a child and left. But before leaving once again he always made Wendy tell him a story. It puzzled her a great deal that he seemed to enjoy tales where he was the most important character, but she thought it a small price to pay as long as those stories were all he wanted from her. So she told him tales of successful adventures, never once suspecting that to do so ensured Captain's Hook growing reputation as the fiercest pirate on the seven seas. As the years passed she grew less frightened of him and if her tales about him sometimes showed him to show mercy, he never said anything about it.
Technically I suppose this fic is a cross-over. The pirate city Fortuna and Captain Morris comes from a Swedish YA novel called Veronika by Bengt Ingelstam. It’s a story about a group of pirates who end up helping a fictitious European country to re-install the rightful king in the late 17th century.
Chapter 4: Chapter 3
Captain Hook, of course, knew nothing about the frantic preparations Wendy went through every time a message came that the Jolly Roger had been sighted. She braided her hair severely in two long braids and viciously tied a cloth around her growing bosom to hide it. She chose the most demure clothes in her wardrobe, thankful she had never grown tall and still had a slight form. In this way she was able to maintain the illusion of childhood long after she had turned into a young lady.
As time passed and Hook seemed rather uninterested if she grew up or not, Wendy begun to hope he had regretted or forgotten his words. In fact, Hook thought little about it. As long as she looked a child he was prepared to accept she was. He had not forgotten his words and intended to keep them, but he was perfectly happy with thinking about it as an event set sometime in the future.
So Wendy became a young woman, and because Hook wished it she was kept apart from the rowdier aspects of Fortuna. He wanted a lady and that was what she developed into. Veronique, who had taken quite a shine to Wendy from the beginning, had started out in a much better position than she had ended up with. Now she did her best to recall those half-forgotten manners and teach them to Wendy. Veronique also took an interest in Wendy's looks and in time, Wendy grew just as pretty as one could ever have hoped for.
It was inevitable that Wendy didn't go unnoticed in Fortuna. Soon enough Captain Morris had to deal with a steady stream of men who displayed an interest in the young woman, and he started to consider Wendy as something of an investment. As long as Hook paid, she brought Morris a considerable sum of money every year. If Hook would cease to do so, then Morris would be able to sell her to the highest bidder, and in all probability, gain a small fortune for her. If he didn't keep her for himself, something he found more and more tempting.
Of this Wendy was happily unaware. She lived quietly, occupied by her studies. Her memories grew dim of the life she had led before, partly by choice as they hurt too much to think of. Sometimes she awoke from dreams about her family and she cried, but during her days she rarely thought about it. She remembered Peter and how he had died, but she could no longer recall his voice or the colour of his eyes. She knew she had lost something, and grieved some, but little by little the memories became mere shadows in her mind.
No one can say for how long Wendy would have been able to deceive the Captain. Perhaps forever, as time in this place was a fleeting concept, and who can tell how many years passed like this? Then one day the Jolly Roger sailed into port in the early morning hours. It was an unusually chilly and foggy day and no one took any particular notice of the ship. And no one noticed Captain Hook when he took the path to Wendy’s home, though he was not the first man to walk it this morning.
By the time Hook arrived the sun was shining and the morning had become pleasant. The house Wendy lived in had a garden, and as it was still early, the Captain decided to have a stroll there first. He was very fond of flowers and he missed them when he was out on the sea. As it were, he found Wendy there as well.
The first thing he heard was the laughter of a woman. He did not know that it was Wendy because he had never heard her laugh, but his curiosity was awakened and he went closer. He was met by the most delightful view and he stopped, partly hidden by a tree so he could watch unseen.
A young woman in blue was seated on a bench, and as she was a breathtaking creature for any man who saw her. Soft curls floated down her back, shimmering waves in the colour of honey. Her neck and the gentle slope of her breasts were milky white and seemed soft as velvet. Her face was as pretty as any man could demand with blue-grey eyes shining under dark lashes and her eyebrows, a shade or two darker than her hair, were beautifully drawn above those laughing eyes. The red lips revealed a flash of white teeth, lips that Hook thought were made to be kissed.
Only then did he realise that this lovely girl was Wendy, so much changed since he saw her last he could scarcely believed it. His recollection of her was a sullen girl who stared down the carpet, her face guarded and her body without shape. The Captain smiled, whatever she had looked like then, she was now very pleasing to behold and he decided it was time to make true what he had promised such a long time ago.
Far into his pleasant thoughts, he didn't immediately notice the reason for Wendy's joy. A young man was standing close to her and in his hand he held a long-stemmed rose. He was teasing her with it, a business she did not mind at all and rewarded with peals of laughter. His name, though of course Hook couldn't know it, was Nicholas and he had been sent to Wendy to teach her to dance. He was a young man with a very pleasant countenance and though Wendy had quite forgotten why, his green eyes and blond curls spoke to her heart very strongly.
Within seconds Hook's heart was filled with jealousy. Wendy belonged to him, he had claimed her long before this whelp had ever set his eyes on her. Steaming with rage he stepped forward to reveal himself to the young couple. For Wendy it was a shock of no small measure to suddenly behold Captain Hook. Her laughter died on her lips and without a thought she rose and placed herself between the enraged pirate and Nicholas.
She was terrified, but tried to hide it with a greeting where no words were more than the usual phrasing. The pirate paid no attention to her. He brusquely shoved her aside with such force that she lost her footing and fell. Then he strode forward and seized Nicholas by the throat. Wendy screamed; to her inner eye she could see the claw slash down and kill the young man and her scream was filled with terror.
But Hook didn't kill the Nicholas. Perhaps he understood that in doing so he would alienate the Wendy further, so he merely dragged the hapless man to the gates, where he was unceremoniously flung out. Nicholas had heard Wendy mention Captain Hook and what a savage he was, so he offered no resistance, something that probably saved his life. The gates were closed and locked but Nicholas remained at them for a long time, straining his ears to listen after Wendy. But all was quiet in the garden and he hoped that meant that Wendy would not fare ill in the hands of the frightening Captain.
Wendy had risen from the ground when Hook returned and in an effort to seem unconcerned, she held her head high and met his piercing blue eyes without a tremor. He watched her for a long time and his face was thoughtful, but the anger seemed to have left him. Wendy dared not say anything; she knew her ruse to hide her growing body had been exposed and she dreaded what was to come. Eventually the man before he reached inside his coat and withdrew a small glittering object.
"So, he said. "I see that you are no longer a child. I will give you three days in order to prepare yourself and then we will marry." He reached for her hand and Wendy let him take it without resistance. The ring fitted her finger, the sapphire glistening in the sunlight.
"I have kept it with me for a long time," he told her. "I thought it would suit you and I see I was right."
With that he took a step forward, his arm encircled her waist and drew her close to him. His hand cupped her chin and he bowed his head and kissed her. It was not Wendy's first kiss. She had allowed Nicholas to kiss her on several occasions, but this kiss was very unlike those rather sweet and tentative kisses. There was no hesitation in the Captain's actions. His mouth descended on hers, taking her lips prisoner in a wordless demand to open for him. She resisted for a moment, but to her surprise the kiss was not unpleasant and she complied to his wish. It sparked a rather pleasant feeling inside her, leaving her flushed and breathless.When he released her she quickly moved away from him, moving to stand behind the bench as if that barrier would have been enough if he had decided to pursue her.
For Hook himself it was all he could do not to take her then and there, but if he was to wed this young woman, he would do it properly. Her mouth has been a most pleasant thing to explore and he held no doubts that the rest of her form would offer the same excitement. All in good time. He could wait for three more days and perhaps by then she would have had time to see that it was not such an awful thing to open up her bedchamber to him. Indeed, she had not been totally reluctant when he kissed her and he felt quite eager to see if he could entice the smile she'd had for the boy to shine for him instead.
The Captain bowed for Wendy, bidding her farewell with the renewed reminder that the wedding was to be held in three days time. When he was gone, Wendy sat down, feeling faint. It had all happened so fast; the moment when she had first seen his angry face was still not more than twenty minutes in the past. She was determined that she was not going to marry him. The mere thought filled her with dread, but right then, she knew of nothing that could stop the event from taking place.
Chapter 5: Chapter 4
Wendy sat for a long time in the garden, thinking through the morning's events over and over again. Three days were not much time and she had never thought things would move so fast. Her first impulse was to leave the house at once, to escape. But she had done several attempts over the years and they have all ended with her be caught.
Veronique had told her years ago what would happen when a man slept with her and though the older woman had assured Wendy that it was quite a pleasurable thing, Wendy still thought it sounded more frightening than anything else. Especially if the man in question was to be Captain Hook. Somewhere in her mind she still bore a notion from her childhood: that the man she was to marry one day would be someone she loved. Not this pirate who, Wendy was sure, had no more warm feelings for her than she had for him. Why he wanted this she had never understood, not even now.
"He is old," she said aloud, but in the same instant, it dawned on her that he was not. She had thought so as a young girl, because for a child all grown-ups are old, and she had continued to think he was, out of habit. For the first time ever did she thought of Hook not as the pirate who had taken her from everything she loved, but as the man he was. Now when she recalled his shape, she could clearly see what she had never really seen before and was surprised to find his form didn't disgust her. Closing her eyes, she could envision him: a man with excellent bearing and looks. For a brief moment Wendy wondered what he would look like without the heavy layers of clothing. She opened her eyes and shook her head to get rid of this unwelcome but strangely tantalising picture. She was blushing now, ashamed she could think such thoughts about this monster who had so cruelly shaped her life around his wishes. Wendy rose from the bench, swiftly coming to a conclusion; she was not going to take this, she had no choice but to do her best to escape Captain Hook.
Wendy found her maid in her room, where Em was tidying up and she asked her to take a note for Master Nicholas. It was not a new thing, Em had brought him notes before when Wendy had requested it. Thus, the maid asked no questions, especially since no one in the house had noticed Hook's arrival and departure. That was what Wendy had counted on, and she quickly sent Em away. Wendy had no means of getting away on her own, so she sent a note to Nicholas, begging him to come to her rescue.
Nicholas was more than eager. When Wendy's note arrived he read it and hastened to make the preparations she had asked for. No one fought in Fortuna, those who couldn't keep themselves to themselves were heavily fined by Morris, and, if they persisted, they were forcibly banned. This did not mean you were among friends when you walked the streets of the town. The man Nicholas set out to see was certainly no friend of Captain Hook, having had his ship raided by the pirate. He was therefore more than pleased to assist, though the money Nicholas brought him certainly helped as well.
Nicholas made some other preparations, something Wendy had not asked of him, but that he found an excellent idea nevertheless. As evening came and darkness set in over the island, he set out, heading for Wendy's house. She had been waiting for him, pacing her bedchamber nervously. Claiming a headache, she had gone to bed early, begging herself free from any attendance. In the safety of her room she had packed a small bag, carefully including a few coins and every piece of jewellery she owned.
Nicholas alerted her by throwing some pebbles at her window. As silently as she could, she crept down the stairs. It was much easier than she had anticipated to get out of the house, but that didn't relieve her. Instead she felt small nagging doubts in the back of her mind.
"Wendy," Nicholas said, when they had walked for a while. He took her hand in his. "I've been thinking. And I think that the best thing is to get married."
Wendy stopped dead. "What?"
"We will travel together. Wouldn't it be so much easier if we could do that as man and wife instead of brother and sister?"
"Nicholas, Hook is the most dangerous man I know. I feel bad enough as it is to drag you into this. If he finds us, he will kill you, you know that. If he finds us married, it will be even worse."
"But Wendy, I don't care about the danger! Haven't I already proved that? I love you!" When Wendy didn't answer at once he added, sounding a bit petulant. "I thought you loved me as well."
Wendy felt uneasy. She had not expected this. Of course she loved Nicholas, she just hadn't thought about marrying him just yet. She frowned. To be absolutely honest, she had not even thought about marriage at all. She thought about Nicholas, his fresh face, his youth, the way he made her laugh. Sometimes he reminded her of someone. perhaps Peter, but she wasn't really sure about that. It had all been fun, but now, in this deadly serious situation, she didn't feel like she altogether trusted him. It was a horrible thought. Here he was risking everything for her, surely she loved him, and why shouldn't she accept this honourable offer?
Reluctantly she nodded. "I'll marry you." Nicholas smiled and tried to kiss her, but Wendy had already started to walk again. "We're in a hurry, Nicholas. Let's go."
Nicholas had spoken to a priest he knew was trustworthy and now he showed Wendy the way to a small chapel, not very far from the harbour. He had asked his best friends to meet them there to function as witnesses, but he had not told them that the intended bride was Wendy. He had hoped that by keeping it all a secret he could prevent Hook and Morris from hearing about it.
Nicholas's plan would have worked very well. The priest was indeed trustworthy, and so were his friends. What neither he nor Wendy had accounted for was the Captain himself. Hook was a man of cunning mind and he was aware that Wendy was not a willing bride. Though Morris had wisely kept quiet about her previous attempts to escape, Hook knew it was not unlikely she would try to fool him. Unknown to Wendy and everyone else in her house, Hook had put some of his men to guard it, and when Wendy left, she and Nicholas were followed.
Sadly, every bad feeling Wendy had over this venture were soon confirmed. That Hook arrived just minutes before the priest had finished the wedding ritual, and not after it had been completed, would have one important consequence, as that saved Nicholas life, at least for the moment. As Wendy knew, had the ritual been completed, it would not have stopped the Captain anyway. Now the door burst open, the lock broken and useless. In a few short steps he had reached the altar, and before anyone had had time to react he grasped Wendy's wrist, tugging her away from Nicholas. Hook's eyes burned red that night and if Nicholas had found him terrifying in the morning, he now realised it had been nothing compared to this sight.
Nicholas was not without courage, though it can be noted that between the two of them, Wendy probably surpassed him by far. To be fair, he would have tried to fight Hook, had he been given a chance, but in Hook's wake several pirates followed, and Nicholas was soon bound along with his friends. Hook would have killed them at once had Wendy not been present. Though Hook wouldn't have had any qualms about killing someone in front of her, it did not serve his purposes this night. Hook could be patient when it suited him. Then and there, it suited him very well.
I am sure that it comes to no surprise for anyone in learning that Wendy's wedding to the Captain was hastily brought forward in time. Hook was not inclined to let a moment like this slip through his fingers. Wendy could not refuse when several guns were directed at her would-be-husband and neither could the priest, who had almost fainted dead away when Hook appeared.
A very sorry wedding it was. The bride was almost incoherent with terror and the groom so furious he could do barely more than hiss the words required. Hook was angry, but he also felt humiliated and that was not a good combination. Wendy, who knew him best, if Smee was not to be counted, was aware of that and the panic she felt could only be equalled to her feelings the moment Peter had been killed. When the ceremony was over, Hook turned to his new wife and smiled. That served no purpose in calming Wendy, because his eyes were still quite red. He had not freed her wrist from his grip, but now he did, pulling her closer to him. With his claw pressing into the back of her neck Wendy was quite immobilised and she had to endure his kiss with the wicked tip pressing into her tender skin.
It was a kiss intended to torture Nicholas more than it was for Hook's pleasure. Even so, the Captain took a wicked delight in running his hand over Wendy's body as he kissed her. Then he broke it off and without any words he once again seized Wendy's wrist and dragged her with him into the night.
Chapter 6: Chapter 5
Hook dragged his new bride through the streets of Fortuna. Wendy stumbled; the only thing holding her upright was the iron grip around her wrist. Hook paid little attention to her while they walked, for he was still angry and did not trust himself to speak. Wendy's mind was full of disjointed thoughts. She was terrified of what would happen to her at their destination. Had she been given the slightest chance, she would have bolted and run without a second thought. All too soon they reached the Jolly Roger and the Captain pushed the breathless Wendy into the cabin. But instead of following her, he locked the door and left her alone.
Hook leaned against the door for a while, trying to calm down and collect his thoughts. Damn the woman to anger him so! He could not go into her until his anger was gone, otherwise there was a very real danger he would be unable to control his actions. To relieve some of his fury he gave orders for Nicholas to be found and brought to the ship. Hook had never intended to let his rival go unpunished, he had just not wanted Wendy to know about it.
Comprehension was slowly dawning to Captain Hook, finding himself with a new problem to grapple. As long as he had kept Wendy at a distance, it had been easy to maintain his power over her. He had always taken care not to overuse her talent, never giving her a reason to think the stories she told him were anything more than mere tales. In his eagerness to have more of her, he now realised he may have lost this advantage. After all, Wendy was his mistress, even if she did not know it. How was he to hide that from her if they were to live close together? She was not stupid and it would only be a matter of time before she put things together.
In the cabin Wendy was doing her best to calm down as well. The whole day had been full of turmoil, and her emotions were in such a whirl it was hard to overcome them. Her legs were shaking so badly she had to sit down. She sat there for a long time, forcing herself to breathe slowly. After a while she had calmed down enough to look around. Her surroundings looked much the same since she last saw them, giving her a strange feeling of coming home.
She didn't look at the large bed that loomed in the corner. Even when she only saw it from the corner of her eye, it felt like a threat. She knew she was going to end up there, though she had tried so hard not to. The only thing she had succeeded in was to get here sooner than she would had to if she had not tried to evade it. She thought about the Captain's angry face and the brutal way he had handled her. Tears welled up in her eyes. This night would be a nightmare.
Wendy swallowed hard.
"I am not going to cry," she said severely to herself. "I will not cry!"
Curiously enough the lump in her throat disappeared and after another minute or two, she felt well enough to get up and make a more detailed inventory of her prison. She realised quickly that the windows offered her one possibility of escape, as they were large enough to accommodate her. However, if she were to jump into the water fully dressed, she knew her skirts would become so heavy with water that she would be in danger of drowning. As she contemplated removing her clothes, the door opened and Captain Hook came in.
Wendy turned and met his gaze, trying very hard not to shake. Hook eyed her with some discomfort. He had bedded many women and, as he was a pirate after all, had not always been concerned if they were willing or not. Wendy was another matter altogether. It would have been easier if he had just had to regard his own pleasure in the encounter which lay ahead of them, but he knew that was not the best option.
The Captain sighed. Being an essentially selfish man, he had never cared for virgins. He had no patience to coax them into willingness, and he was too intent on having his own needs fulfilled to be prepared to explain them to a young girl. He had understood, however, that he needed Wendy's consent in this, and her scared face told him that she was not expecting any gentleness from him. Hook’s decision was undoubtedly more pleasant for Wendy, but completely selfish on Hook's part. He was concerned that if he scared or hurt her, he would be unable to take advantage of her stories. It may have been too late to do that anyway, but he was not willing to take that chance.
Wendy was completely unaware of this. She saw only that his height and bulk surpassed hers by far, and she was fully prepared that Hook would assault her. Therefore, it surprised her when he seemed reluctant to even come close to her.
"Wendy," Hook began, faltering a little. "You need not look at me with such frightened eyes. I don't seek to hurt you."
Wendy didn't acknowledge his words and for a moment Hook was totally at a loss as to how to proceed. He could see how his statement would sound laughable in her ears. Bruises were already forming on her wrist as a memory of their hurried walk from the chapel. He took a step toward her and Wendy stiffened a little, her eyes darting from his face to his claw, before she looked away with a shudder.
Hook looked down at his claw. He didn't think much of it, not anymore. He had grown used to it and it rarely hampered him in his actions. Sometimes it was even was a help. The constant pain had grown into a part of his life. Always there, sometimes stabbing him, but most often just a dull aching. He stretched out his arm and moved the claw so the light caught it, and Wendy gasped. The Captain glanced at Wendy, seeing that she was now staring at his claw. An idea came to mind.
He had to do it anyway, he thought, so why not now? The only person he had ever allowed to see him without clothes was Smee, but he could hardly expect to never undress in front of his wife. In a small flash of anger, an anger he quickly suppressed, did he remember that she was the real cause of his mutilation. The first time this thought had crossed his mind, Wendy had luckily already been left in Fortuna. Had she been near, Hook thought he would have foregone all resolves to let her live. At that moment he had not cared if the world he lived in would meet its doom if she died. He had wanted to revenge himself for the pain he had to live in.
He'd had time to calm down, long before he returned to Fortuna. Now he had to ignore an anger Wendy could not be made aware of it. With a small smile of satisfaction he turned away from her, calling for Smee to come help him out of his clothes.
Wendy's eyes widened a little at the sight of the heavy garments discarded for fine linen and then the Captain's naked torso. As she had lived in Fortuna for many years, she had grown used to see men working in the heat with their upper bodies bare, but she had never considered that very interesting. She eyed Hook with some interest. It was evident that his handsome face had its equal in his body and Wendy admitted to herself that he looked very striking.
Then there was the harness. At first it perplexed her. It was not immediately clear to her that this was a device to keep the claw attached. She watched the leather straps cutting into his skin and she wondered why a man would seek to torture his body in such ways. When his shirt was fully removed she could see how the straps continued down his right arm, ending in the heavy socket of wood that held the claw. Mr Smee unbuckled the harness and the red mark it had left on the Captain's skin made it clear that it was indeed strapped around Hook's body with a vicious strength.
When the harness was completely removed, Hook rolled his shoulders and rubbed at the mark across his chest. He did not look at Wendy, because he knew that she would see his arm for the first time. He didn't want to see her revulsion, knowing that if he did, that would make his anger rise again. So he ordered Smee to remove his boots and stockings as well. Hook watched the first mate leave before he turned back to his wife.
Hook had sought to use his injured arm as a means to get a reaction out of Wendy, and he succeeded admirably. At first she watched with horror. The arm ending so abruptly into nothing was a terrible sight. Even more terrible was that she had never thought it must be there. She knew his hand was gone. Peter had cut if off a long time ago. For the first time it occurred to her that losing a limb was something awful. A vivid picture of the Captain bleeding and unconscious came to her, so real that for a moment she thought she really saw it.
"How much does it hurt?"
Hook was surprised at the question. He had not expected Wendy to perceive that this kind of injury never healed properly.
"All the time, more or less, but usually not so badly."
"Oh!" Wendy's eyes filled with involuntary tears and she blinked. "I wish that there were something I could do."
The temptation to ask her to do so was almost too much for Hook. For a brief moment he contemplated throwing himself on his knees in front of Wendy, begging her to do something. To at least take the pain away, or even tell a story where his hand had never been cut off at all. He did not do this, however. he was not going to be fooled into revealing his secret. Instead of pouring his heart out to her, he sat down on the bed and motioned to her.
Not without hesitation did Wendy obey him and she sat down at the side of the bed. She was not very close to him, but not out of reach either. Her heart was beating quickly and she was less scared, but her nervousness had escalated instead. That she would be made to share the Captain's bed was something she had lived with since he had told her his intention to marry her. She had known she couldn't deceive him forever into believing she was a child. Now when her deception had ended, Wendy, being of a pragmatic mind, decided to make her best of her situation.
The Captain had, so far, not hurt her since he came into the cabin. He had said he wasn't going to do so and somehow Wendy was inclined to believe him. Added to that, the sight of his arm had softened her heart in no small amount. He seemed a bit less frightening to her now. Lastly, Hook was not unattractive to her, though she had so far been much too upset to pay much attention to that.
Now as she sat beside him, she gave herself the task of accepting the Captain. She tried to recall everything Veronique had ever told her about men, about the things a man and a woman could find agreeable to do with each other. She gave Hook a rather shaky smile and then she stretched out her hand and lightly touched his cheek. Hook, in turn, was very pleased with this small step from Wendy and he smiled.
“You don’t have to be afraid of me Wendy. I promise you I will do my best to make this as pleasurable for you as possible.
Chapter 7: Chapter 6
Hook did indeed succeed in not frightening Wendy anymore. In fact, he managed to be so patient and charming that Wendy found her wedding night unexpectedly pleasant, even thrilling. She felt no hesitation when he fell asleep with his arms around her, but lay her head quite contentedly on his chest and fell asleep as well.
This could have been the end of the story. The Captain, exceedingly pleased with his own conduct and Wendy's reaction to it, had every inclination to treat her well in the future. Wendy, despite the rather disastrous wedding, had found her wedding night very agreeable and had somewhat resigned herself to the notion of being married to Hook. Though certainly not the best foundation for married life, it was still much better than any of them had expected. But what had happened between them had nothing to do with love. Hook didn't love Wendy, though he didn't consider that a problem. He had never loved anyone and saw no point in it. Wendy's pretty face and alluring body were convenient and his greedy mind rejoiced in owning her. He had riches enough, so if he couldn't take advantage of her stories anymore, he thought he could be well satisfied with having her in his bed. In fact, the idea of settling down somewhere and enjoy what he had amassed seemed more and more tempting. Wendy certainly didn't love the Captain. She loved Nicholas, or at least, she thought she did. Despite that, Wendy and Hook could very well have come to a balance in their life and managed to live with each other. However, that was not to be.
Nicholas, who had managed to stay away from the men Hook had sent after him, neared the Jolly Roger in the last darkness before dawn. He was not quite such a paragon of virtue he had pretended in front of Wendy but rather a young man who had no taste for violence, but not much of morals either. He went through his life charming or tricking the women he met to give him money, but he was not an evil man and not without higher feelings. He was genuinely worried about about Wendy's fate as he climbed up the ornate woodwork outside the Captain's windows. Nicholas had expected his Wendy crying and distraught, but when he peered through the glass he could see that she was sleeping. Not only that, she lay in Captain Hook's arms and as the last rays of the moon fell on her face, Nicholas could see she was smiling.
Human nature can be a curious thing. Although Nicholas had worried, had pained himself imagining what horror Wendy must have had to endure with the Captain, he felt no relief to see she was clearly unharmed. Nicholas would never have admitted it, but in that moment he would rather have seen her abused and terror-stricken. Hook was not alone in the ability to feel jealousy. At that moment, Nicholas resolved to take Wendy from Hook, whatever the cost may be. To have seen her unhappy would have grieved him deeply, but to see her not so was unbearable.
Hook hadn't come to Fortuna solely for Wendy's sake. He also had the supplies renewed, his liquor stock updated, and he visited his tailor. Repairs too difficult to conduct at sea were also done and the pirates made sure to have a good time. The Captain now had the additional task to find Nicholas and make sure the young man saw the end of his days before he would be ready to leave again. So the next day the Captain left his bride to make sure everything went smoothly to ensure their imminent departure. Wendy fretted a little; she had not been allowed to go back to her house. Instead she had to tell Mr. Smee to make sure the belongings she needed were packed and delivered to the ship.
The Captain had a busy day and though night had fallen, he had not yet returned to the ship. He needed to end the contract with Morris for Wendy's keep, and as Morris was not very pleased to lose this steady income, Hook was made later than he had hoped for. He had to ply Morris with the best rum along with the last payment. When at last he made his way back, he found an empty cabin. Wendy was gone, an opened window and her discarded clothes were all that remained. And there, on the the bed, the last thing Hook noticed before rage consumed him, was a small sapphire ring, it's stone twinkling mockingly at him.
The first man Hook came upon when he emerged from the cabin didn't live long enough to notice the Captain's fury. Mr. Smee, who responded to Hook's bellowing, wisely kept his distance from the claw. He watched the Captain's eyes, red with fury, and it didn't take him long to figure out what had happened. Smee was a loyal man and as Hook wasn't really in control of his thoughts at the moment, Smee quickly made orders to search for Wendy on the Captain's behalf. At the time Hook calmed down enough to be prepared to listen, Smee could present him with the news that the Mermaid had sailed for London, just a few hours previously and though it was not certain Wendy was on it, Smee had learned that Nicholas was on board. Despite being unprepared, the Jolly Roger left Fortuna as soon as the Captain had digested Smee's words. Hook had been able to catch up with the Mermaid before and he had little doubt that he could do it again, but he knew where the ship was headed. Hook smiled and it was a smile that didn't bode well for his errant bride and the fool who had helped her.
What had happened was this: When dusk came, Wendy heard a faint knock on the window. When she opened it, Nicholas had jumped into the cabin. It scared her a great deal, knowing that the reaction from Hook, if he was to discover it, would be awful.
"Wendy," Nicholas began, speaking hurriedly as he was well aware of the danger he was in, "I've spoken again with the captain of the Mermaid. He is as willing to take us from Fortuna now as he was last night. He is ready to sail at once; we will be long gone before Captain Hook discovers it."
Wendy hesitated. Nicholas had come for her, despite the threat he was under, and that touched her quite a lot. True, the wedding night had far surpassed her expectations and she was more inclined to think of Hook in a more favourable light. For all she knew, however, it was not a sudden change of heart that had made Hook treat her well. She had heard it in his voice and in his words, small glimpses that made her aware of how thin the veil was that separated her from his vicious side.
"We could go to London, Wendy. When we're there, I'm sure we could find someone who could help us annul this marriage. It was a travesty; you were forced; surely there must be some way for you to be released from him."
London. A sudden and unexpected wave of home-sickness engulfed Wendy, though she know that the London Nicholas was talking about was not the London she had grown up in. As Wendy had discovered when she left Neverland, this world was so much more than the island. Very often the geography had the same name as in her own world, but they were not quite the same. Though Wendy did not know it, she had helped to change them when the Captain had asked her to tell the stories. It may sound strange that she never had an inkling of what she did, but how could she? Who believes they have the power to create worlds? The places Wendy had told tales about places she never had visited.
Nicholas's words tempted her. Only last night she had been fully prepared to leave with him and if she could get the marriage annulled, then she would be free to start life anew somewhere far away. A sudden glimmer of hope rose inside her. Neverland was still there somewhere and there were her brothers. If she could find her way back to the island, she would have them back! Her eyes started to shine at that happy thought and Nicholas, who was quite convinced that they shone for him, smiled and clasped her hand.
"Come with me, Wendy. You don't want to stay here. Remember what a monster he is? I had to hide all night to avoid the goons he sent after me. He wants to kill me."
Wendy was startled. She had believed Hook when he had said that Nicholas could go if she married him, but she could not doubt Nicholas. Indeed, it was not at all incomprehensible Hook could do such a thing. In that moment the scale tipped over in favour for Nicholas. The Captain was after his blood and it was her fault. She could not stay.
"I'll come with you."
Wendy quickly dressed in the men’s clothes Nicholas had brought with him. She paused when she noticed her ring, but though she had carefully packet all her other trinkets, she could not bear to take the ring with ehr.
“Throw it away?” Nicholas said, but instead she carefully placed it on her discarded clothes. Then she climbed out of the window and with a last glance at the cabin, jumped after Nicholas into the dark water.
Chapter 8: Chapter 7
Warning for attempted rape.
For the third time in as many minutes, the thread slipped out of the eye of the needle. Wendy sighed. Her eyes ached, but despite the fading light she hesitated to light a candle. Candles were expensive and there was little money left. She rubbed her temples instead, letting her sewing sink down in her lap.
It had not taken her very long to realise that their flight was a disaster. The first misfortune was her falling ill on the ship. Barely a day away from Fortuna she had succumbed to an odd fatigue and bouts of fever, leaving her dizzy and disoriented. They had arrived in London while Wendy was still feverish and despite the weeks that had passed, she had not fully recovered. Lack of proper food and the constant worry over money undoubtedly contributing to her continued ill-health.
Then it was London. Wendy found it a nightmarish place. It seemed to be a strange mixture of the city she knew, blended with every century in history she could imagine. She could remember making up stories that reminded her of this place. Sometimes she felt almost at home, but most of the time it frightened her and she didn't stray far from the room they lived in. Though she had recognised far more places that she thought she really would be able to, that strange familiarity scared her as well.
She and Nicholas had been forced to pay most of their meagre assets to the captain of the Mermaid. Even if Nicholas had managed to salvage her bag from the chapel, they still had very little to live on. They had found a cheap tavern in the quarter close to the docks and Nicholas could scrape by, earning some money from odd jobs there. Wendy took on sewing jobs, but the money they earned was used for their immediate needs and nothing were left to be saved. Her health, the lack of proper food and the strange city of London were not Wendy's biggest problem, however.
The problem looming over her with no way to solve was Nicholas himself. It had not been so bad on the ship were there had been little privacy, but as soon as they reached London it had became clear to Wendy that she had made a mistake. She had insisted, been adamant about it in fact, that they were to pose as siblings. Nicholas had not seen the point in it. No one, he claimed, knew about Hook, so why didn't they ignore her marriage? Wendy would not budge and eventually Nicholas had agreed on her terms, though not without grumbling.
It had been humiliating to admit it, but Wendy had had to do it in the end. She didn't want to pretend to be Nicholas's wife and didn't want him in her bed because she didn't love him. It had been easy to think she was in love, in the confines of her house when Nicholas had come to save her. Back in her garden it had been a game, a pleasant pastime. Before Hook had shown up and instigated the wedding, Wendy had never considered the option to run away with Nicholas. It had been her fear of the Captain, not love for Nicholas that had made her take that step. Then, like a foolish little goose, she had allowed Nicholas to use those light-hearted declarations of love to convince her to accompany him to London. She had been stupid and naive and now she found herself trapped in a situation which was quickly becoming unbearable.
Nicholas wanted to sleep with her and he nagged her constantly, but she continued to resist him. She couldn't picture herself naked with him; it brought her no excitement to think about him in those terms, not like it did when she thought about Hook. Somewhat to her shame, Wendy had found that their night together often appeared in her thoughts. She thought about his blue eyes, his body, the way his hair and skin had felt under her hands. She thought about what his hand and mouth had done with her body and these thoughts made her warm and aching to be touched again, but not by Nicholas. When he tried to kiss her she only felt annoyed, and his attempts to caress her brought no sparks.
It had slowly dawned on Wendy that her situation was in no way better here than in Fortuna. Worse, in fact, even if she had not been permitted to leave the town, she had been pampered and shielded. She thought she would be free when she ran away, but she was not; she was imprisoned in this dingy room as effectively as if the door had been locked. Without money and without friends, she could not leave, because she had nowhere to go. She could not return from whence she came. Even if she could have found a way to get back to Fortuna, she knew that Hook would punish her severely for this escapade. Perhaps there had been a possibility of making a somewhat decent life with him, but that chance was ruined now. Wendy held no wish to meet the Captain ever again and she prayed he would never find her.
Hook, in fact, was very close. He had arrived in London not long after the Mermaid, very put out that he hadn't managed to catch the ship at sea. The search for Wendy had taken some time, as it was not without danger for him to be in London. His savage plundering had earned a substantial price on his head, so his search had to be conducted stealthily and slowly. With his claw carefully hidden beneath his cloak and a well-filled purse, he had gained ground on Wendy. In the same moment as her thoughts were interrupted by Nicholas's arrival, Hook had paid handsomely for the knowledge of Wendy's exact whereabouts.
Nicholas was in a bad mood. He couldn't understand Wendy's continued resistance and a suspicion was forming in his mind. It had occurred to him that perhaps she did prefer Captain Hook instead of Nicholas himself. It angered him; hadn't many women fought for his attention, in Fortuna and anywhere else his rather erratic travels had taken him? Wendy had caught his attention because she was easily the prettiest girl he had seen for a long time, but also because the luxury the Captain kept her with, attracted him. He thought that she must know where Hook kept his treasure, but much to his chagrin Nicholas had discovered Wendy knew nothing about it. The only gold she had brought him was the small amount she had been able to take with her. So far the only pleasure Nicholas had derived from Wendy was the fact that he had managed to spirit her away from Hook.
Nicholas felt it was time to change this. He was tired of being denied and that faint look of dismay he spotted on Wendy's face as he entered made him angry. Nicholas wasn't a truly wicked man, but in his way he was as selfish as the Captain. It had hurt his pride to be bested by Hook and now Wendy had hurt his vanity with her indifference to him. So he walked up to Wendy, placed his hands on the chair's armrests and leaned down. Wendy straightened in the chair.
"Stop it, Nicholas," she said, before he had time to start talking. "I'm tired and I'm not going to change my mind."
"Why not? It's not like there is someone else, really. You can't tell me that you care what Hook would say? He doesn't love you."
Wendy stiffened a little. "I know that. I dare say that you don't love me either, so don't try that one on me again. If you did, you would care about how I feel, not just your own pleasures."
"How can you say that! I've risked everything for you and you deny me the slightest form of gratitude!" Nicholas's voice made clear that he had suffered greatly from this, but Wendy was not impressed.
"I see." She could hear her voice grow cold. " My gratitude can only be expressed with serving you my body, is that what you are trying to tell me?"
"No, no. Of course not. I just can't see why not... If you loved me..." Nicholas looked flustered and uncomfortable, but Wendy noticed the mulish way his mouth had set and his words failed to convince her. Despite that she would probably not have answered him quite the way she did, had she not been so tired.
"I don't. I'm sorry Nicholas, but I don't. I see you as my friend, but I don't think I ever loved you as anything more than that."
"You certainly made me believe that you did." He leaned closer to her, putting one of his hands on her arm. "Don't tell me that you have any warm feelings for Hook."
It was Wendy's turn to feel a bit flustered. "Of course not. How could I?"
"You slept with him."
"I didn't have much choice in that, Nicholas." Wendy shifted uncomfortably and when Nicholas suddenly grasped both of her arms and wrenched her to on her feet she felt very alarmed.
"What if I don't give you a choice either, Wendy? If I just do it, will you enjoy it? I'm quite sure you will. After all, you didn't look very upset when he was finished with you after all."
"You must be drunk. Go to bed and stop being silly." Wendy tried to keep her voice even, so as to not betray her growing fear. She tried to pry his fingers away, but his grip only hardened. "Stop it. Now. I don't have time for this silliness."
Nicholas didn't seem to hear. He swung her around so suddenly that Wendy lost her balance and fell against the wall. Nicholas pressed himself against her, pulling at her neckline. When the first shock of this sudden assault wore off, Wendy felt a spark of anger. He'd had to let go of one of her arms in his effort to tug at her clothes and now she blindly stretched her free arm back. She managed to get hold of his hair, yanking as hard as she could. Nicholas yelped and loosened his grip. Wendy ducked away, only to trip over her sewing basket. Before she had time to get up, Nicholas was over her again. Wendy struggled with his weight, then her eyes fell on her sewing scissors in front of her. Without thinking she took them, holding them tight.
When Nicholas tried to turn her around, she suddenly obliged, rolling over on her back. He had to let go of her arms, and suddenly he found the sharp tip of the scissors pressed into the tender skin just underneath his ear.
"Get off me and leave me alone."
For a moment Nicholas hesitated and the point dug harder into him. They stared into each other's eyes. Wendy thought it lasted an eternity, then Nicholas looked away. He rose and Wendy got to her feet quickly, still holding the scissors firmly in her grip. It was at this moment that Captain Hook came into the room. It was, needless to say, a shock for both Wendy and Nicholas, though of the two of them, Nicholas recovered first. In the Captain's burning eyes he could see his own death and he knew that this time the presence of Wendy would not help him.
Despite that the room was on the second floor, a considerable distance from the street, the window was a much more appealing prospect than an angry Hook. Nicholas threw himself at the open window, almost tripping in his hurry to reach it. He landed on the street with all the luck of a cat. He soon disappeared into a small alley with no thought of what would happen to Wendy. At that moment, he only wanted to survive and he ran off, and for us, out of this story.
For Wendy it felt like a hole had opened in the ground and was threatening to swallow her whole. With little hope of success she backed up toward the wall, and when the Captain came closer she stabbed at him with the scissors in an attempt to keep him away. Hook had very little patience with her effort. He was in a hurry and without any hesitation he grabbed at the scissors, easily plucking them out of Wendy's hand. Wendy opened her mouth as if to scream and he quickly knocked her over the head with the socket of his claw. He caught her unconscious form and wrapped his cloak around her. With her in his arms, he silently left the room.
Note that there is some violence in this chapter.
Wendy woke up to a pounding headache, disoriented and sick. She was laying on a bed. When she opened her eyes she could see Smee's friendly face hovering over her as he dabbed her face with a damp towel.
"She is waking up now, Captain."
Wendy blinked, her thoughts eluding her. Something had happened, something awful. Despite the headache, she tried to sit up. Smee was abruptly shoved aside and replaced by the Captain. Wendy stared up at him, a question forming on her lips, as he seized her throat and pushed her down into the mattress. She choked and her hands came up, first to tug at his hand, then to dig her nails into it, trying to make him ease his grip. Hook loosed his hold slightly and she drew a painful breath, but then it tightened again as he hauled her up on her knees.
Wendy desperately scrambled for some kind of balance, but the chokehold around her throat made black spots dance in front of her eyes. She went limp and was suddenly thrown face forward on the bed. She breathed in short, pained breaths. Her head was exploding, and for a moment she sank down into blessed unconsciousness again. When she came to she could hear Smee's worried voice in the distance.
"Easy on her, Captain. She only just woke up. Wouldn't it be wise to let her rest a little?"
The Captain's voice answered, equally distant to Wendy's ears, but the cold fury came through anyway. "None of your business, Smee.”
Wendy tried to rise, still feeling dizzy and disoriented. A weight on the small of her back forced her down again and Hook's voice came closer.
"Awake yet, my beauty? I think you are, enough to appreciate my attention, anyway. I've had enough of your running away, and I assure you, this is the last time you try any of your tricks on me."
Hook had had plenty of time to cultivate his anger and he had gone beyond the point where he was concerned about being too hard on her. Wendy had eluded him again and again, fooling him with her sweet face, and now she was going to learn a lesson. In his fury at Nicholas fleeing Wendy's room, he'd thought little of the position he'd found them in.
Over the years, Hook had practised the use of his claw to refinement. He knew exactly what force he needed to do any kind of damage, from the slightest cut to deep slashes that would mean instant death to the unlucky recipient. Now he wound Wendy's hair around his hand, making it impossible for her to move away. In preparation for this deed he had changed the claw to one with double hooks and when he sliced away her bodice, he did it so carefully that not a drop of blood was spilled. Yet.
Wendy went rigid when the claw tore into her clothes. She didn't need anyone to tell her what the Captain had in store for her and she pressed her lips together, willing herself not to scream when the claw descended on her back. It was no good, the sudden pain ripped a scream from her throat anyway. She expected another stroke, but it never came. Smee had caught the Captain’s arm, holding it back.
“Captain, please. Look at her.”
For a moment or two Smee was closer to death than he had ever been in Hook’s service, but then he lowered his arm and let go of Wendy’s hair. She sat up, her bodice falling aways from her shoulder and Hook took a step back and really did look at her. He saw her wan face, pale except from the unhealthy flush the fever gave her cheeks. She had lost weight, and there were deep blue shadows under her eyes. And where her shoulders and arms laid bare, the bruises Nicholas hands had left on her had started to blossom. Hook wasn’t used to feeling remorse, but now he got an uncomfortable feeling that perhaps he ought to actually talk to the girl he had married before metering out any more punishment. His anger didn’t completely abate, but it calmed enough for him to step away and let Smee continue to take care of Wendy.
She remained still when Smee took care of her raw JJ on her back; though she could not stop the tears from falling freely, both from exhaustion and pain. Smee brought a flask, pouring out a small amount in a cup and giving it to her.
"Laudanum," he said, with a nervous glance at Hook, who had supervised it all from his chair. Smee was not certain that his Captain would approve, but he didn’t say anything. Wendy swallowed and was soon able to drift off, momentarily forgetting the pain. She woke up again in the middle of the night, feeling terribly thirsty but not, she realised, without any fever anymore. It was dark around her, not even the moon shone through the windows, but she could still detect a dark form beside her. Hook was sleeping, forming a wedge between her and the cabin and she desperately needed to drink something. Slowly she tried to move, in hopes of sliding out of the bed unnoticed, , but a hard hand clamped down on her arm, and Hook spoke.
"And what, exactly, are you trying to do?"
"Please, I just wanted something to drink. Just some water."
Wendy could hear her own voice plead for such a measly thing as a drink, but she was too weary to be proud. Her husband said nothing, but he released her and got up from the bed. He returned with water that Wendy gratefully drank, then he let her have another dose of laudanum.
It was morning when Wendy woke up again and this time she was alone in the cabin. Despite feeling stiff and sore, she still felt better than she had for a long time. Unfortunately her mind was clear again and she could remember all too well what had happened between her and Nicholas in the room at the tavern. She started to cry, raw and painful sobs that wracked her whole body.
Nicholas had been her friend, at least she had thought he was, but he had turned on her and then abandoned her when Hook turned up. Wendy tried to console herself that Nicholas hadn't had any choice, he would have been dead by now if he had stayed. She didn't want the Captain to kill him, but it still hurt her that he had not even given her a last glance before he fled. As she cried herself dry, her present predicament became more prominent in her mind. She was back in the cabin, but if she had left the Captain in a better mood she had ever seen him in, his present one was terrifying. Hook returned and a quick glance at his face told Wendy that she had nothing good to expect from him.
"You have been up," he commented and when Wendy nodded he came up to the bed and looked down on her. A rather cruel smile played on his lips as he did so. "Already eager to leave my bed, hmmm? You won't come far this time, my pretty. This time you will stay because you will have no other choice."
He left the bed for a moment, opening a chest and procuring something that made Wendy crawl to the other side of the bed, despite the knowledge that she couldn't get far. She remembered how humiliated she had felt when Smee had chained her to the Captain's bed when she was a child. Even if this chain was much longer and she would be able to move around quite a bit in the cabin, the humiliation of being chained was still the same. Wendy had to endure the cool smooth iron being fastened around her ankle and when she heard the chain clatter as it was fastened to a bolt in the wall, she closed her eyes. To tether her like this was needlessly cruel because she had no other option than to stay in the cabin anyway. But she didn’t dared to complain, the prospect of angering Hook again terrified her and if this was enough to keep his wrath under wraps, then she would bear it.
When Wendy woke up the next day, her first thought was that she didn’t feel ill anymore. Her back was sore and she felt stiff, but the fever and the strange fatigue she had suffered from since she left Fortuna was gone. But when she opened her eyes she stared straight up into Hook’s face and she remembered she was back with him and that her flight had come to an end without her gaining anything from it.
Hook got up from the bed, wrapping a dressing gown around him and Wendy crawled up so she was sitting, so she could watch him better. He paced the cabin in silence, the terrible anger from the day before was gone, but he still looked grim. After an eternity he came to sit at the side of the bed, once again searching her face as if he could get the answers he wanted just by this intense scrutiny. She didn’t say anything and eventually he spoke in a low, deceptively soft voice.
"Tell me, Wendy, what did you and your lover do? What did he do in the bed to please you? I want to know, and you are going to tell me everything."
"We weren't lovers; we never slept with each other."
"It's not a lie. I never let him. We were fighting about it when you came. You have seen the bruises; he attacked me. Please believe me. I can't tell you what he did because we never did anything."
"Even so..." Hook began, sounding a bit uncertain. "Even so, you still ran away. Don't think this will make it easier for you."
His voice hardened while he spoke and Wendy, being scared that he would once again become angry, blurted out what she hadn’t plan to tell him.
"I just wanted to go to Neverland. I wanted to see my brothers again. I thought it would be easy, but it wasn't. No one seemed to know where it is and then we had no money to leave London anyway. I only wanted to see if my brothers were still alive"
Hook looked at her with some surprise. He had almost forgotten about the boys since they had left Neverland, but he realised it must be much more important to Wendy. He thought a little before he decided to tell her a half-truth.
“They aren't there anymore. I went there on my last trip and they are gone. I was told they found their way back years ago."
Wendy burst into tears and the startled Hook watched her with some puzzlement. He let her cry for a while, totally nonplussed as how to continue.
"I thought that would make you happy," he said after a while.
Wendy looked up and smiled.
"It does, it really really does. They are safe, they are home. It's the best gift I could ever have!"
She cried some more, gratefully accepting a handkerchief when the Captain gave it to her.
"Why didn't you sleep with him?" he asked her when she had stopped sobbing. He didn't sound angry, and Wendy felt comfortable enough to give him an honest answer.
"Because when I kissed him I only saw your face."
Hook looked surprised again, but this time he didn’t ask her anything more, but left her alone in the cabin. During the day Wendy felt better and better, but her mind was still clouded by the recent events. Over and over she went through what had happened between her and Nicholas, of what had been said and what, in the end, had happened. She blamed herself that she had not seen those less appealing aspects of his personality before she left Fortuna. Now Nicholas was gone and though she was glad that she didn't had to have his death on her conscience, she wished she had never seen him at all.
Then there was the Captain. He seems to have accepted her explanation, but that didn’t change the fact that she was back with him and that she was still married to him, with all that entailed. She had been truthful when she told him she had only thought about him when she had kissed Nicholas, but she was also aware that she had no choice than to do what the Captain wanted, and he would want to sleep with her again. It was not that she hadn’t enjoyed the night they had spent together, but that she, however pleasant it could be, was without any power to decide for herself.
And then there was the chain around her ankle which bothered her a great deal. It was so long she could move around without problems and it was smooth enough not to chafe, but it was still something that made her immobile. They were at sea and the cabin door was locked. She could not go anywhere and still she was kept chained to a wall like an animal. But she didn't dare ask Hook to remove it, still feeling things were too much fragile between them still.
Hook himself may have spoken little to her, but he watched very carefully. He went to bed beside her without touching her and she didn’t move nor talked. He couldn’t sleep, but lay there listening to her breathing. He was confused, he had not admitted to himself that he had missed her and now that she was back he wasn't sure what to do with her. Most of his anger had abated, but he knew it could easily flare up again, which was one of the reasons he stayed away from her. If he got angry at her again, he might not be able to control himself. He'd never had to try to curb his vicious temper before, because those who angered him had been disposable. Wendy wasn't, and even if he had not forgiven her, he felt very uneasy of the notion of harming her further.
“Can’t you sleep?”
For a moment he forgot to breathe, this was the first time Wendy had spoken to him on her own accord since he had found her. And though it gladdened him, he wasn’t prepared to actually talk with her yet.
“No. Could you tell me a story? Please.”
Wendy felt a small flash of pure joy. It had been a long time since she had told anyone a story and only now did she realise how much she had missed it. She had tried to tell Nicholas stories but he hadn't liked them and had asked her to stop.
"A story about a pirate named Hook?"
"Of course. That is my favourite kind of story."
"A story about adventures?"
"No, not this time. Tell me a story of what happens when the pirate grows weary of fights. Tell me how he finds a place where he can live."
Wendy thought about it for a while. "It has to be an island. A pirate can never be happy if the sea is not near."
She started to tell a story about a wonderful island. As she spoke, she thought about a place where she herself would like to live and it took longer for her to finish than she had thought. From time to time James came up with a suggestion and she added that into her story. Thus, it grew more complex. It was very satisfying, and made her feel a bit drowsy as well.
"This pirate," James said when she was done. "He had always been alone. Will he be alone on this wondrous island?"
Wendy moved a little so she could see his face in the moonlight. It looked serene and young in the pale light.
"Perhaps. Perhaps he wasn't alone anymore."
Wendy heard his sharp intake of breath, but he made no comment. Instead she could feel him take her hand in his, and she let him. No one spoke anymore that night and eventually they both slept.
Wendy woke the next morning to unusual sounds and gradually she became aware that something wasn't right outside. Agitated shouts were heard and then the loud bang of a cannon being fired and then another. Suddenly the door was yanked opened and Smee's head poked inside. He seemed mightily upset.
"We are under attack, Ma'am, so keep away from the windows."
Wendy's heart begun to beat hard. "Other pirates?" she asked, but Smee shook his head.
"No. Navy. With two ships. It doesn't look too good for us."
Wendy was left alone again. She sat on the bed listening to the sound of fighting outside. It seemed to go on forever and she couldn't tell if Smee's prediction was true or not. Then the door burst open and the Captain tumbled in, closely followed by the first mate. They quickly shut and bolted the door and almost at once Wendy could hear a frantic pounding on it. Hook's sword was bloody, and blood had spattered his face giving him a gruesome appearance. He threw his weapon on the table and strode up to Wendy, gripping her arm hard. To her surprise, his voice was filled with desperation, not anger.
"You have to tell me a story, Wendy. Now! Tell me how the crew of Jolly Roger managed to fight off an enemy ten times stronger!"
"What are you talking about? I don’t understand."
He shook her brusquely. "We are losing. Tell me a story. Now!"
Wendy just stared at him. She understood that this was a grave situation indeed, but his strange request was beyond her comprehension. She was at a loss for words. The assault on the door was increasing - the planks creaked ominously and would soon be broken.
"You don't understand, do you, Wendy? That is my fault and now I have to pay for it. It seems that you soon will be rid of me." He let go of her and turned to Smee. "Hold her."
Smee quickly seized Wendy, holding her arms behind her back. She struggled in his grip and when she saw Hook raising his claw she became even more frantic in an effort to break loose. Hook was going to kill her and she panicked. The claw came down, but it did not as much as touch her skin. Instead it ripped open the neckline of her nightgown, causing it to slip down over her shoulder. Wendy screamed in surprise, the Captain stepped closer to her and she tried to shy away, but Smee's firm hold of her arms forced her to remain still. He spoke quickly with a very low voice:
"I need your promise Wendy. Not a word that you are my wife. If they get me alive I will hang and if they think you mean anything to me, you will hang as well. I abducted you and used you, that is all you will tell them."
Something glinted in his eyes and Wendy wondered if it was regret she saw. "After all, that will simply be the truth. Just promise me that you won't say a word about me marrying you."
It finally dawned on Wendy that he was not going to kill her and she nodded.
James smiled briefly. "Good girl."
He bent and kissed her lightly and then he swiftly hit her over her face so hard that her mouth started to bleed. At that same moment the door finally gave way, and Smee let go of her so abruptly she fell to the floor. Hook threw himself after his sword as the first soldiers rushed into the cabin. Wendy scrambled away from the fighting men, curling up on the floor close to the bed and watching the fight with frightened eyes. It horrified her, but she didn't look away, not even when the Captain killed a man right in front of her. He fought with increasing desperation, evidently aiming to get himself killed, but the soldiers seemed disinclined to grant that. They held him at bay as much as possible and when more men entered the cabin, Hook found himself outnumbered and overpowered. The sword was wrenched from his hand. Along with Smee, he was bound and dragged out on deck.
An elderly officer with a kindly face knelt down beside Wendy. He looked at her bloodied face and the bruises shown through the torn nightgown with horror, a horror that deepened even more when he became aware of the chain around her ankle.
"Don't worry now," he said, tenderly helping her to her feet. "Your nightmare is over."
The Jolly Roger had been pursued since it left London. Despite the Captain's efforts to search for Wendy incognito, he had been spotted. He had been seen entering the tavern where Wendy lived. When he'd emerged carrying her, he had been followed and the authorities had been alerted. The cheek of it, kidnapping a young woman that openly for his own savage appetites! That was something that both horrified and tantalised the good citizens of London.
Soon Nicholas's jump from the window had evolved into a tale where the hapless man had valiantly fought to save his sister's virtue, then had been thrown out through a closed window. As nothing had been seen or heard of Nicholas since he had run from the tavern, it was soon a popular belief that Hook had sent men after him and that he was now resting at the bottom of the sea with his throat cut. Since Nicholas had left London as soon as he possibly could, this colourful tale was never contradicted. Besides, no one could believe that he was so cowardly to leave when the woman thought to be his sister had been abducted in this ruthless manner.
Colonel Williams, the man who had helped Wendy in the cabin, was a kindly man and deeply distressed over Wendy's fate. When he heard her story, he was filled with righteous rage. Had Wendy said but a word he would have marched down to Hook's cell and shot him like a dog, fully prepared to claim that the pirate had tried to flee. But Wendy said nothing of that sort and Williams had to make do with providing her with every kindness he could think of. When he returned to London, he took her with him to his home and installed her under the care of his wife.
Wendy was very grateful to be welcomed into the Williams’ home, where she was made very comfortable. But she was still at the mercy of other people for her well-being and she had neither money nor resources to change her situation. And once again her health deteriorated. The feverish spells returned, along with headaches and a fatigue she couldn’t sleep off. To be back in London did not help either. To Wendy the city grew more and more nightmarish the longer she was forced to live there. It was somehow disordered; it didn't fit. The Williams' home was in perfect order. So was the whole apparatus of the Captain's trial, but Wendy found that people, seemingly from different times and societies, co-existed in a manner no one else but her found peculiar. Neverland, with its wonders, had never had this feel to it, and even if Fortuna had been populated by pirates, it had been consistent in the way it worked. London confused Wendy and left her disoriented.
Captain Hook and his crew was brought to justice, but Wendy was not allowed to attend. There was no need for it as Hook freely admitted what he had done, not bothering to give any pretence of innocence. Mr Smee loyally kept the secret of Hook and Wendy's marriage and if any of the pirates had said anything about it - well, their thoughts were little considered. No one took notice of any ramblings that put Wendy into any other position than the one her rescuers had given her. But though Wendy wasn’t at the trials, she spoke to Colonel Williams about Smee and all the kindness he had showed her. In the end he was only sentenced to a long prison sentence, but all the rest of the crew was sentenced to hand along with their Captain. Wendy felt no joy in learning Hook's fate. If anything the world seemed bleak and the thought of him dead would make it bleaker still.
For the first time since Hook had found her grown up and had set her world spinning around her, Wendy had time to sit down and think. In the Captain's presence she had been in such a whirl of emotions that she had not been able to stop and ponder her situation. When she had run away she had been too preoccupied with survival and coping with Nicholas. Now, in the silent parlour of Mrs. Williams' house, she was left alone and could finally think.
She thought of her childhood, memories not forgotten, but for so long too painful to think about, emerged again. Her parents, her brothers, Peter; it all started to come back to her. But, more than these memories, she thought about Captain Hook. Somehow the notion stuck that she was unwell because she was no longer with him. Of course, she had spent most of her time in Fortuna, rarely seeing him, but she had been under his care all the while. Now when she was truly separated from Hook, as she had been when she ran away, she was ill. There had always been a connection between them, she knew that though she had chosen to ignore it. Now she wondered what that connection really consisted of.
The more she thought about it, the more certain she grew that Hook knew what it was. His reasons to keep her all these years - it couldn't have been for the sole purpose for marrying her. She had accepted that as a child because she had found it so vile and so very like a villain to plan such a thing. Now it struck her that his insistence to the marriage vows was completely out of character from a pirate who was used to taking and discarding. He had not needed to marry her. Had he merely wanted a woman in his bed, he could have made her his mistress, he would have been in no position to refuse him. Hook had kept her, provided her with everything and he had, until she ran away the second time, rarely exposed her to his temper. Wendy was sure that, had she stayed, he would have continued to treat her well. Despite this show of goodwill from him, she was equally sure that he had acted from his own selfish reasons. If it was not for the purpose of getting a wife, then it was something else.
What that something else could be, became something of an obsession. Wendy thought she ought to know what it was. Sometimes she woke up in the middle of the night, thinking she had dreamed the answer, but it slipped away as soon as the fog of sleep disappeared. Frantically she searched her memories for clues to this elusive secret. When she came up with nothing she began to wonder if she was losing her mind, that her thoughts were nothing more of delusions of a madwoman.
She had to see Hook before he died. She would have wanted that anyway, but now her resolve to make him divulge what he knew became an important issue. She asked Colonel Williams about it, and to her chagrin, she was refused. He could not comprehend this strange wish from Wendy to speak with the man who had abused her so. Williams, concerned with Wendy's obvious poor health, did not budge when she tried to make him change his mind.
The day of the execution came closer and Wendy decided that if she was not allowed to see Hook in prison, then at least she could see him at the execution ground. Early in the morning, she slipped away from the Colonel's house without being noticed. It was a long walk and she was unsure of the way, but she managed, despite being frightened. She was not alone; a vast crowd had gathered to see the end of the nefarious pirate. Wendy wasn't the only woman there either. The wicked Captain's good looks had been stressed as much as his evil ways and a large crowd of female onlookers had came to see the spectacle. It was crowded, but Wendy took advantage of her small frame to slide through the throng, and managed to get a place very close to the gallows.
Wendy had never seen the Captain looking anything else other than well groomed and elegantly dressed and now it shocked her when she saw how ill he had feared in prison. His expensive clothes were gone, as were his boots. He was only clad in a shirt and breeches. The claw and the harness were gone as well, the mutilated arm for everyone to see, and his arms were bound together behind his back. The black hair that had always cascaded down his back in perfect curls was matted and tangled and he was so unshaved his trim beard had almost been swallowed up. Hook didn't look beaten, though. He held himself as proudly as ever and only when he saw Wendy did his haughty masque fall for a second.
Hook spotted Wendy in the throng and his heart beat faster. He had wanted to see her so badly, had even humbled himself and asked to be able to do that before he died. The red-faced Williams, who seemed to have given himself the role of her knight, had just laughed at his request, asking him if he really thought she would want that. Hook supposed not, and he had not brought up the issue again. Yet, here she was, evidently alone.
She looked as beautiful as ever to him, though not as well as he would have liked. She met his eyes without hesitation, but her face betrayed no emotion. Was she happy over this event, or, though that would be the most wondrous of things, was she sad? Hook wished he could have presented himself in his usual splendour. It vexed him that she saw him so bedraggled. Still, he was glad to see her one last time.
It was no use, Wendy realised. She could not get close enough to talk with him. The crowd screamed and laughed and what she wanted to ask of him was something private. So she watched him, seeking out his gaze and holding it. Despite what he had done, to her and others, she didn't want him to die. For years he had been the only connection she'd had to her old life. Even if it had been by force, she had belonged to him. And if it was true, if it really was his absence that made her ill, what would happen if he died? Would she die too, slowly succumbing to an unidentifiable illness? Perhaps she would truly lose her mind and end up a raving lunatic?
In a sudden burst of determination, she ducked under the barrier that separated the crowd from the gallows, eluding the soldier that tried to stop her. She reached Hook, looking up at him.
"James!" she cried, and a sudden hope sprang into his eyes.
"Help me," he said and Wendy didn't think of how peculiar this request was to be given to an unarmed woman.
"How?" she asked as she was seized and dragged away. But his answer, shouted so she would hear it over the din, made no sense to her.
"Tell me a story!"
Understanding stirred inside Wendy, a knowledge she knew was nearly within her grasp. The noise seemed to die away; it felt like time had stopped when she finally understood.
She was aware of the soldier's grip on her arm when he hoisted her over the barrier. She registered that he pinched her behind and murmured into her ear.
"Not so eager, sweetie. Give me a kiss or two later and I'll give you a lock of that nice hair, eh?"
She saw Hook's angry scowl which would have been the soldier's death had the Captain been free. But in her mind she heard the Captain’s voice, over and over again, year after year.
"Tell me a story, Wendy. Tell me a story. Tell me."
And she had told stories; about London, about the vast sea. She once had told a story about a pirate town called Fortuna. She had told him stories, and not just because her obedience had once bought the boys their lives, but because she loved it so much. Telling a story brought her such pleasure that she had been eager to do what Hook asked. So many tales, except for the last time he asked her.
The Captain's desperate plea to her in the cabin was suddenly filled with meaning and Wendy felt an odd sensation come over her. It was not possible; it could not be possible, but somehow it made sense in a weird and twisted way. She looked up and met the Captain's gaze again. He nodded. A thousand thoughts rushed through Wendy's head. There were too many and with an effort she pushed them all away. She stared blankly at the man on the gallows. The noose was already around his neck when she began to speak.
"Wendy Darling and Captain Hook stood on the shores of Neverland."
There was no sense of movement, no sounds; they were just standing on white sand under a brilliant sun as if they had been standing there forever. Wendy stared at the Captain who was removing the rope that had bound his arms and she felt oddly numb. They were in Neverland and she had brought them there with just her words. Hook glanced around with a look of dismay on his face, but he showed no surprise over their sudden change of location.
"How long have you known I can do this?" Wendy asked and he shrugged.
"Since minutes after Pan died."
The numbness gave suddenly way for an emotion: anger. Wendy could not even recall being angry before. All her life she had been drilled to behave; a girl was not allowed to be angry. Now it welled up inside her, she felt hot and then cold, but when she spoke her voice didn't betray the storm inside her.
"You used me."
"Aye. Over and over."
This blatant admonition of what he had done made Wendy's anger boil over. She hit him across the face with an open hand, using all her strength. Hook's head snapped back and Wendy, ignoring the pain she felt from the blow, clenched her hand and tried to hit him again. This time he was ready for it and grabbed her arm. It made Wendy lose her footing and she fell down on the ground with Hook on top of her.
He had not planned it, being hit he had reacted on instinct, but now he realised he had a chance to act, before Wendy's words could bring down her revenge on him and he pressed his hand over her mouth so she couldn’t speak.
"Yes I knew. You didn't think I could have told you, could you? You were far too useful for me; your sweet voice has given me so much. I don’t need more and I could as well stop you from speaking ever again. I can gag you until I find something to cut your tongue out. Then you would be silent forever, my dear."
Wendy fought the panic the lack of air brought, and her anger came to her aid, though had Hook not been weakened from his time in prison she would not have succeeded. Instead of tugging ineffectual at his hand, her fingers went after his eyes, her nails raking like claws. Hook was forced to yank his head back, lest she would cause some real damage. In doing so, his hand shifted and Wendy took the opportunity to bite him as hard as she could. With a strangled cry, the Captain let go of her and she quickly moved away from him, but then Wendy didn't know what to do. She could run, but he would be able to catch her within a few steps. So instead she turned and faced him, breathing hard.
"I saved your life, mere minutes ago, and this is how you repay me? This is how you thank me? With threats?"
That was when she saw it. Only a glimpse in those blue eyes, but she suddenly understood what power she truly had.
"You're afraid of me!"
This man, whom she had feared so much, who had taken her freedom and her body, who had hurt her, he was afraid of her. Triumph mingled with the anger and she straightened up, speaking with a voice that held a tone of command entirely new for her.
"Go away James. Disappear from my sight. Leave me!"
For a moment she thought he would attack her again. He even took a step toward her. Then he stopped, and once again she could see the fear in his eyes, more pronounced this time. Without a word he turned and disappeared into the jungle, leaving her alone on the shore. For a while she stood there, looking at the place where she had last seen him. Then she left in the opposite direction, a walk that quickly developed into a run.
Wendy ran until her legs gave way under her. She felt sick. Her stomach cramped and she thought she was going to throw up, but she didn't. As the cramps disappeared and the pain died down, she became aware of another pain. All this time she could have gone home! She'd had the means, but she hadn't known it. She could have seen her family again, but now it was too late. How could she go back now? Wendy wanted to cry, but no tears came. Instead she started to scream. Again and again she screamed until her voice became hoarse. Then she just sat there, wrapping her arms tightly around herself and staring at nothing.
She sat on the ground for a long time, but when the day neared it's end, she shook herself out of her apathy. Whatever had happened, she could not stay here and grieve over events long past. It was too late to go home. She had grown up and her family would have long since have given her up for dead. It pained her that she could have returned had she but known it, but it was a pain she would have to learn to live with. But there was something in Neverland that she could do. Or rather, undo. She changed her position slightly; her legs had fallen asleep underneath her. Now that she knew, the first shock had quickly worn off. It was like she had always known, somewhere deep inside her and her mind quickly adapted to the possibilities. Now, by telling a story she wanted and no one else demanded, she took back her gift. Wendy went into her memory, searching for words she thought were long forgotten.
"All children, except one, grow up, and that child is Peter Pan..."
She told her story carefully and while she spoke she finally cried. It seemed as though her brothers were once again sitting close by, listening to her and Wendy could not hold back the tears that rolled down her cheeks. It hurt to tell this story, but it filled her with satisfaction as well. When she heard a slight rustle in the bushes, she wasn't surprised when Peter came into view. He looked the same: his clothes of leaves, the tousled hair and his mischievous green eyes were like they had always been. Wendy smiled and dried her tears.
Peter frowned. "Who are you?"
"I am Wendy."
Peter nodded as if that was obvious to him, but his next words told Wendy it was just a pretence. Her smile deepened. "What does a Wendy do?" he asked.
"She tells stories."
Peter's eyes brightened. "I love stories! Tell me one."
Wendy did. It was easier now. The more she spoke, the more memories of old stories came back to her. She told Peter about the Lost Boys and soon she could hear them gambolling in the distance. She told him about Tinker Bell and smiled when the small pixie suddenly hovered in the air before her, eyeing her with the same contempt as she always had. She told him of all the adventures that could be had in Neverland and of the wonders it contained. Peter listened in rapt attention, but when she was finished he rose from the ground.
"Well, that was nice, but now I have to go." With that he disappeared into the woods, not even bothering with a farewell. Wendy was left alone.
"Good-bye Peter," she said softly and then she rose to her feet. Peter was back and it healed a wound in her heart that never had disappeared, but he was not for her anymore. Wendy brushed back some of the hair that had fallen into her eyes. She had other things to face and they couldn't wait. For a moment she stood unmoving, looking around to figure out where she was. When she did, she nodded to herself and left.
Hook didn't go far after he left Wendy. He walked until he found a small stream and there he drank and doused his head. He carefully washed his face and hair, so at least some of the prison grime disappeared. He wished he could clean his whole body, but he felt too weary. Instead he sat down on the ground, resting his back against a large tree, ignoring the discomfort it brought him.
He was back in the place he hated most in the world and he had lost Wendy. For a long time he sat motionless, his head resting in his hand, his mind filled with the unfamiliar feeling of remorse. He wished he had acted differently from the very beginning, that he had wooed Wendy instead of forcing her. If he had succeeded in making her trust him, liking him, he could have told her what she could do a long time ago and this would never have happened. Remorse was an utterly useless feeling though. He could not have done things differently and even if he had tried, he would likely have failed. Had he not been appointed villain in this story, and had he not filled that role admirably?
When he heard the sounds of a boy crowing like a cockerel he raised his head and smiled a bitter smile. So this was the way it was going to be. Pan was back, and he would once again have to fight the little brat. A new round of eternal skirmishes, new battles, but Hook could feel no hatred toward his old enemy. The rage which has rolled inside him all his life, never far from the surface and ready to roar awake, seemed to have died down. The only thing he felt was a weariness of being pulled back into hell. It was, he thought, a very suitable revenge from Wendy, to bring Pan back like this.
At that point he saw a white shape emerging from the dusk. At first he almost thought it was a ghost, but then he realised it was Wendy. She had shed her heavy dress on this warm island and was dressed in a white gown, not unlike the nightgown she had worn as a child. Her clothes reflected the last of the sunlight and it almost made her shine like a light. Her face was pale and and serious and she watched him dispassionately for a moment before she beckoned at him, sounding as calm as she looked.
Hook rose, and as he did so a shadow materialised from the trees and came to stand between him and Wendy. It was a large wolf that growled and showed Hook its sharp teeth. The Captain met Wendy's eyes and he bowed slightly in acknowledgement.
"A wolf? Why not an armed guard?"
"He is mine. He always was and he was waiting for me. So why not?"
Hook followed her. What else could he do? They walked in silence and eventually they came to a small clearing where a small timber house stood, a light shining inside.
"My house," Wendy said in way of explanation. "It used to be made of leaves, but I thought this suited me better now." Once inside, she opened a door to a small bedchamber. "You'll find clothes in here, and then I will give you something to eat."
Hook stepped inside and looked around. Wendy was still standing in the doorway. She frowned, as she had noticed for the first time the stiff way the Captain held himself.
"Are you hurt?" She came closer. "Let me see."
Hook hesitated but removed his shirt with some difficulty. When Wendy saw the Captain's back, she could not help but make a small exclamation of distress. His frame was covered with whip marks, crisscrossing each other and obviously neglected as they were red and infected. Hook smiled at her horror.
"What did you expect? That they treated me like an honoured guest? This was a mere repayment for what I did to you."
"This is far worse than what you did to me."
"Oh yes. After all, I knew what I was doing."
Pity welled up inside Wendy, a feeling she did not welcome. Why should she care if he had suffered for her sake? She ought to be glad that he'd had to endure hardships as well, but she could not help it. Wendy's kind heart ached when she saw Hook's back. She quickly fetched some warm water and carefully cleaned and dressed the wounds. The Captain didn't wince, but she could see the muscles on his back tense in an effort to not do so as she proceeded. When she was finished, he turned toward her and put his hand on her shoulder.
"Wendy-" he began, but Wendy backed away.
"Don't touch me."
For a moment the veiled look on her face slipped away and he could see her anger. Hook watched the woman in front of him, feeling an almost unbearable sadness. He truly had lost her now. Even if he used his brute force to subdue her, she still would have the power to free herself of him. The threat he had given her was empty because he knew he could never go through with it. Especially not now, when his own anger had abated and she had further bound his hands by showing him kindness.
He removed his hand without saying anything further and she left him alone to clumsily wash and re-dress himself. Though Wendy had provided him with clothes, there were no sign of the harness and the claw. She may have felt empowered by her knowledge and the presence of the wolf, but she did not trust the Captain to provide him with a deadly weapon like his claw. So Hook had to go without.
Wendy sat silent and watched Hook as he ate the food she had given him. He ate with a speed that told her that had been another thing that had been lacking in prison, and the pity welled up inside her again. Why she had felt she needed to give him back some dignity? And why didn't she want to demand answers of him when he was dirty and hungry? She scarcely understood herself. It just didn't feel right to do so. At long last he was finished, and he pushed his plate aside, then met her gaze again. Now when she could finally start, she didn't know how to begin.
The Captain had used her thoughts and words - used them without her consent. He had raped her mind year after year and she had not known it. Wendy almost wished that he had never showed her the courtesy of seduction. Why couldn't he have violated her body as well? If he had, then it would have been easy for her to hate him now. As it were, she didn't know what she felt. Angry, yes, sad and tired, but she didn't hate him. She didn't hate him at all.
"I brought back Peter," she said after a long pause, and Hook nodded.
"I know. Is that what you want from me? That I shall fight him until he cuts off another of my limbs? Forever?"
"I didn't tell Peter about you."
For a moment the Captain was taken aback, but he quickly regain control over his features, hiding his surprise with a look of indifference.
"Why so, if I may ask? And what will become of me?"
"I don't really know why I didn't. It would serve you right, I guess. Now I would like to ask you about a few things." She stopped, giving him an uncertain glance. "That is, if you care to answer me."
"I can very well do that I suppose, though perhaps you will find that answers don't equal peace of mind."
Wendy ignored his cryptic reply. She wanted to know. There were things she didn't really understand in all this and if the Captain knew them, she would have him tell her.
"I understand that I, for some reason, am able to shape things in this world." Hook gave her a small nod and she continued. "In that case I don't understand why so much has happened to me that I didn't wish for. I didn't want Peter to die. I didn't want Nicholas to be the one he was. I never wanted to marry you."
She registered the hurt look in his eyes when she uttered the last sentence and couldn't help but feel a tiny bit glad over it..
Hook thought a little before he spoke. "It doesn't work that way. Your wishes have nothing to do with what happens; it's only your stories that have that power. The world is filled with people and you haven't dreamt up every one of them. They exist because you once decided that a town, or an island, was filled with people. They are not puppets, Wendy. I am not a puppet. We are real and with a free will. You can change what happens, but you can't stop people from acting in the manner they are shaped."
"I thought they would object to having their world changed. It must be confusing."
"They don't know it. Once you have told something it is as if it has always been."
It was quiet for a while as Wendy digested the Captain's words. It made as much sense as could be expected. There was one thing that puzzled her though.
"But you know. You know when I change things. Why, when no one else does?"
"Yes, why?" Hook's calm voice suddenly became eager and Wendy shivered. "Don't you know that, my dear? I can guess."
As he spoke he rose from his chair and the flickering lights from the candles made his shadow on the wall look enormous. Wendy rose when Hook came closer. The wolf growled and he gave the animal a quick glance.
"Call him off. I'm not going to hurt you."
A word from Wendy made the wolf lay down again, though it continued to stare at Hook as if to dare him to do something unexpected.
"I knew since I touched you the first time. I wondered why that knowledge was mine when no one else, not even you, knew. I have thought about it, long and hard, and I think I know why. Tell me, when you first told your stories, who did you spend most of your thoughts on? Who?"
Wendy felt cold. Her fingers were like ice and she absently rubbed them together. The Captain came closer still, his eyes boring into hers and Wendy found that she couldn't look away.
"You," she reluctantly whispered, her voice almost inaudible. Hook looked triumphant.
"Me! Not Pan. I knew it must be so. Can't you see what it all means?" Wendy shook her head. "It means that I am you. Much more than anything else here, I'm linked to you."
Wendy backed away. "No," she said, her voice shrill. "That's not true. I'm nothing like you. I'd never do what you have done."
"But still it is true, and you know it, even if you try to deny it. That is where it all began, with your words." He paused. "It's more now, however. I'm real and my thoughts are my own, even if you gave me life once."
Even if he had not moved, Wendy felt that Hook was larger and more menacing than ever before. She couldn't breathe properly. This was more terrible than the realisations of the morning. This certainly had not brought her tranquility. The Captain stood too close to her, looming over her, and Wendy backed away further, straight into her chair that fell to the floor with a clatter. The wolf was instantly on his feet and Wendy could finally break away from Hook's blue eyes. She needed to be alone.
"I'm tired. I think I need to sleep. Please go away, James."
He didn't budge. "Where to? Do you want me to sleep on the ground? I need my ship."
Despite her weariness her anger flared up again at the imperiousness in his voice. "In what position are you to make demands?"
Hook smiled, a smile more ironic than anything else. "You are right. But I need my ship. Please."
He didn't sound particularly contrite, but Wendy was too tired to start an argument. "You will find it by the shore. Now go, please."
He hesitated and for a moment she thought that he wouldn't leave, but then he did, closing the door softly behind him. Wendy didn't bother to undress. She curled up on the bed and when the wolf jumped up beside her she didn't push it down. Instead she wound her arms around it, seeking comfort and warmth in the animal's thick fur.
Now when she was alone, memories emerged unbidden. Her thoughts went back in time, back to a particular day. Father had decided that his sons should learn how to fire a gun. His sons. All three of them had looked so excited, John, Michael and Father. They had been talking about it for days, making up plans that Wendy had been excluded from. Wendy hadn't been allowed to go with them. Father had looked shocked when she had asked.
"This is not something for a little girl," he had said.
"But I'm the oldest, Father. I'm much bigger than John and Michael. Please, I want to learn as well!"
It was no use. Good girls didn't fire weapons and Father remained adamant. The whole day they had been away, she had sat in the parlour with Mother, fighting with crochet needle and yarn, disappointment burning inside her. Usually she loved being with Mother, but not that day.
When John and Michael had returned, giddy from their experience, Wendy's disappointment had turned to rage, an impotent frustrated rage. She had not said anything, but that night when her brothers had asked for a tale, it was then... Wendy hit her pillow so hard that the wolf became affronted and jumped down.
"No," she said aloud in the darkness. "No, no, no."
She tried to suppress it, but to no avail. Once released the memory became clear, as if it had happened just days ago. It was that night she first told the tale of the most dangerous of pirates: Captain James Hook. She had poured all her anger and frustration into that tale and it had scared her brothers. She still remembered the satisfaction she had felt when Michael had a nightmare about Hook and wet himself. Then she had felt guilty. She was, after all, a sister who loved her brothers. It had been naughty of her to be jealous and even naughtier to scare her brothers so. Wendy had tried to be more ladylike after that and she had never allowed herself to be angry since then. Not until this very day when she had realised what Hook had concealed for her all these years.
Hook. Wendy sat in the darkness, hugging her knees close. She had once poured her anger into him and he had become real, filled with a fury that belonged to her. In suppressing her anger, she had, literally, become its prisoner, in the proud form of Captain Hook. No wonder that she had wasted when she was away from him. She had not been a whole person without him.
However, as he had said, he wasn't simply a manifestation of her thoughts. He was a real man. Still, she had given him all her anger and he had acted upon it. Another thought struck her and she shuddered. She was responsible for his mutilation, not Peter. That menacing claw had been such a suitable thing for a dreaded pirate to have and she had blithely told her story without a thought of the pain and discomfort that brought.
"But I took my anger back," she whispered to no one. "What does that mean? Is his anger lessened now?"
It was the first comforting thought she'd had since Hook had left her and she lay down again. If she could be angry again, then perhaps he could feel something else. Wendy supposed she needed to talk with the Captain again, but not tomorrow. She needed to think this over, she needed to be alone. With that, the toll of the day overpowered her and when she slept, her sleep was blessedly free from dreams.
Hook found his ship just as Wendy had told him he would. Smee was waiting with the dinghy, as cheerful and unconcerned as usual. The Captain returned to the Jolly Roger with a sense of relief. The day had been a harrowing experience for him and he was exhausted. He had never thought Wendy would react with so much anger over the revelation of what he had hidden from her and, he had to confess to himself, he had not expected her to take control of the situation as she had. Lying in bed in the darkness, he gave a short bark of laughter. He had underestimated her and now she had redefined their relationship. He had nothing but empty threats to counter with. Before, Hook had always dealt with threats to his superiority with violent repercussions, but now the balance of power had shifted and the Captain tread this new ground with great uncertainty. Had he been the one wronged, he would have revenged himself cruelly. The fact that Wendy had not retaliated the way he had expected perplexed him.
He stayed in Neverland. If Wendy didn't intend for him to fight Pan again, he supposed it would be possible to leave, but he didn't even try in the hope she would seek him out again. Not daring to look for her himself, he stalked the ship in an increasingly foul mood, driving his men hard and not hesitating to punish the slightest wrongs severely. He would have liked to ask Smee about Wendy, but was afraid the first mate would stare at him blankly and ask who she was. Some of this gloom eased when Hook realised Wendy's belongings were still left in their trunks in his cabin. He was certain they wouldn't be there if Wendy had chosen to never see him again, and he started to hope he at least would get a chance to talk to her again. And one morning he spotted her, sitting very still on a rock at the shore, the wolf lying at her feet in the sand. He didn't waste any time and ordered the dinghy to be put out at once lest she would change her mind and disappear.
When Wendy awoke the day after her return to Neverland, she had first only felt bewildered. Then the memories of the previous day flooded her mind and for quite some time she lay still in her bed, letting herself remember the happenings before she even attempted to try to grasp the day. When she finally got up she found to her surprise she felt very well. The odd fatigue she had suffered from was gone. Not so surprising, she had to remind herself. Even if Hook was not at the exact spot as she was, he was in Neverland as well, and probably not very far from her.
That thought made her frown. Last night she had been too exhausted to think about the hazards of having the Captain loose in Neverland. What if he had come back for her in the night? Though she was sure the wolf would have warned her long before anyone could have forced their way into her bedchamber, she still felt a bit queasy when she realised how she so easily had forgotten the threat Hook might pose to her safety.
In the days that followed, Wendy wandered all over the island, re-exploring what she had once known so well. Keeping out of sight of the pirate ship, she still had made sure it was anchored close to the shore. Once or twice she spotted Peter diving in the air, but she made no attempt to talk to him. Most likely he had already forgotten her. But wandering the jungles of Neverland didn't bring Wendy the feeling of homecoming she had expected. As a child, Neverland had been a wonderful place, an island shaped for the most exciting adventures. Now Wendy realised that she had outgrown it. It was not a place to call home, and though she knew she could easily change the island to be more of her liking, she balked at the thought of it. It was not a very comfortable feeling to know she could do whatever she wanted with this world, and more or less subconsciously she had decided she wouldn't tell stories just for the sake of making things easy.
It surprised her that Hook stayed in Neverland. Knowing how much he hated the place she would have thought he would try to leave at once. If he had, she would have been forced to stop him, as she was sure she would fall ill again if he left. Somewhat belatedly it occurred to her that the Captain probably fared as ill as she when they were parted. Wendy had attributed his bedraggled appearance at the gallows to his imprisonment, but that might just have been part of it. She tried to recollect what Hook had looked like when he found her in London, but all she could remember was his terrible fury. At the time she had been too scared to notice anything else than his anger.
One day, the thought of the island he had asked her to tell him about appeared, and from then on she thought about it often. It had not only been a story of a place he would like to live, it had been about her dreams as well. That island could be home, but if she was to go there, she had to decide what to do with Hook. James. Her husband. If they couldn't be apart, then they had to be together, and that prospect filled Wendy with dread. Hook had hurt her so much and she didn't know if she could forgive him for all the things he had taken from her. Still, the realisation that he has sprung from her own anger had given her some understanding of his behaviour. She had gifted him with fury and could she really blame him when he had acted upon it? That thought brought to her mind all the people the Captain had hurt and killed. What was her blame in that? The idea was sickening. She had always prided herself of being kind hearted and she knew she could never wilfully do violence to anyone. She felt guilty, horribly so, and in desperation Wendy decided to tell a story that would free her from Hook. To tell a tale where he had never existed.
It didn't work. Even as she told the tale she knew it wouldn't work. The words fell flat from her mouth, and she had trouble finding the right words, something she had never experienced before. When she was finally done she could feel with every fibre in her body that she was still bound to the Captain. Evidently there was a limit to her powers, and this was it. One way or the other she had to learn to deal with Hook, and the turmoil of feelings his being brought her.
Then there was the matter of Hook's free will. He had used it - he was more than rage, she knew that. When Wendy first told the story of Hook she had given him more, the love for music and flowers, and a sense of fairness, but he was more than that. He could easily have treated her so much worse than he had. If he had kept her brothers on the ship, she would have been a slave. The merest threat to their safety would have chained her to Hook's will stronger than any physical restraints ever could. Yet, he had not. He had given her a comfortable life, albeit not a free one, and he had let her brothers go home. It was an act of mercy she could not dismiss, because he had not boasted of his good form. Hook had not needed to demand that story of her, and yet he had. Though Wendy almost wished she could deny it, there was some compassion in Hook and he had shown it to her more than once.
On and on Wendy thought about it, and finally, after a sleepless night, she set out toward the shore, to see Hook again. She saw the dinghy set out for the shore and she almost ran back into the jungle. She tried to look calm. When the Captain approached her, she watched him carefully. Once again he was clad in his usual elegance and the gleaming claw was in place. She stood up, but he loomed over her nevertheless and made her feel very small and defenceless despite the wolf. Straightening her back, she tried to look slightly more imposing herself. To her relief he took a step back.
To Hook, Wendy seemed changed. There was something about her that was different, though he couldn't say for certain what it was. Perhaps more - alive? The colour of her eyes and of her hair seemed deeper and she held herself differently as well. She looked more beautiful than ever, and though she didn't seem so angry anymore, he suddenly felt scared to approach her.
Alone, Wendy had had plenty of time to rehearse what she was going to say, but now the words disappeared and what she actually said sounded very blunt to her ears.
"I'm coming back. It seems that I cannot be without you."
The Captain looked surprised at Wendy’s words, then pleased, and finally suspicious.
"I beg your pardon?"
"I'm going with you. I know you don't want to stay here, and when you leave I will go with you."
He smiled, but not kindly. "You want to come with me? Are you so foolish? What will stop me from taking advantage of it? How can you be sure that I won't creep up at you when you sleep and silence you?"
He looked at the wolf who stared intensely back at him.
"Your wolf is very protective, granted, but can you really delude yourself into thinking that I couldn't kill it and take you before you had had time to scream, let alone speak?"
Wendy felt cold. He was right, but she had already thought about it at some length. She was putting herself at risk, but she couldn't see any other way around it. She didn't want to fall back and reduce Hook's being with one of her stories. Then she would win, but it would be a hollow victory - as would his be, if he cut out her tongue and made her a mute serf, bound to his will for the rest of her life. She took a deep breath before she answered.
"I know that, James." Wendy hesitated a little before she continued. "I trust you won't hurt me now. I trust I will have nothing to fear from you."
The Captain bared his teeth in a grimace. "I'm not a man to be trusted."
"But I will anyway. You spoke of free will. Then prove it to me. Make it possible for me to trust you. Prove that I will have nothing to fear. You have treated me well, after all, in the past."
James shifted a bit, looking uncomfortable. "If I treated you courteously, it was because it was the most useful way to do it. I did it for my benefit, Wendy, not yours."
"I know, but you still did it, you chose it. You could have disregarded kindness, because you know you could have got me where you wanted anyway, and still you didn't. I don't think that counts for nothing."
Wendy fell silent, chasing the rehearsed phrases in her head, but they eluded her.
"It seems I can't live without you." She looked out over the sea, avoiding his gaze. "I've not forgiven you. You stole me for your greed and for your pleasure and the only reason that you told me of what I can do was to save your life. Now, I have to stay here and then it seems that I must be with you."
She looked at him directly.
"Without you, I waste away. Is it the same for you?"
Whatever Hook had expected Wendy to say, it certainly wasn't this. He had not wanted to admit, even to himself, the enormous hunger he felt for her when she was gone and not just after her body. He had longed for her voice, her looks, her silent breathing when she slept. For her whole being. He could not tell her all that - it would expose himself too much. Instead he reduced all his feelings into a single word.
Wendy nodded, not betraying how glad this one word made her.
"I tried to tell a story to send you away. I could not. Even if we are, as you said, two different people, and we both have our own free will, we cannot part. Perhaps my soul isn't my own anymore, but ours."
He nodded, his face thoughtful. "Yes, I have wondered if that isn’t truly the case."
Wendy suddenly felt shy. She had thought this conversation would be much harder than it was.
"I was thinking," she said after a moment. "I thought about this island you asked me to tell you about. I wouldn't mind going there. Would you?"
Hook looked pleased. "I wouldn't mind that. I wouldn't mind that at all." Then he paused and added. "How?"
"By ship," Wendy answered with some force. "I'm not going to tell stories just to make things easy."
She went with Hook back to the ship at once. There was nothing left for Wendy on the island and when she asked the Captain if he was ready to leave soon, he quickly answered; “At once.”
Smee greeted Wendy in a perfectly natural way when he saw her, then he patted his thigh and called to the wolf;
Instead of being affronted by this degrading name calling, the wolf happily let Smee pet it and wagged its tail, much to the annoyance of the Captain. The wolf seemed undisturbed by the sudden allocation to a ship and sniffed carefully in all corners of Hook’s cabin before it jumped up on the bed.
"Oh no," Hook said. "Under no circumstances will I share my bed with this animal."
He gave Wendy a glare.
"You may be set to bring it along, but I draw the line here." With that he turned back to the wolf. "Down!"
For a second or two yellow eyes met blue and then the wolf jumped down to the floor again. It yawned to show it didn't really care for beds anyway and curled up under the harpsichord instead. For the first time in weeks Wendy felt a smile form on her lips and for a brief second, a corner of the Captain's mouth curled up as well. This moment of ease quickly dissolved however, when Wendy made it clear that even if she had returned to Hook, she was not prepared to resume their marital status. The Captain could not understand this reluctance and did not bother to conceal his wrath.
"This is ridiculous. Where would you sleep if not in my bed?"
"I will sleep perfectly well in the daybed."
Hook slammed the claw into the thick wood of the table, burying the tip deeply. "You are my wife. You will sleep in my bed. It's not like you didn't enjoy it."
Wendy wavered. Upbringing and conditioning nearly made her submit to him again, and the small shiver of pleasure she felt when she thought of him touching her again didn't help either. However, she didn't want to put herself in the vulnerable position of being naked in his arms.
"Whether I have enjoyed sleeping with you or not is not the question here. I don't want to sleep with you because you have hurt me and lied to me. I think- I think I wouldn't want that even if I had loved you."
"And you don't."
"No. You don't love me either, so don't try to imply that you do."
"I never said I did."
Wendy frowned. She had not expected him to say that he did, but still... "Why then did you want me? Why didn't you just keep me for the stories and seek your pleasure elsewhere? I don't believe you waited for me while I grew up and never sought the company of other women."
"You are right, I did not, but there is a vast step between love and the next convenient body. Would you like to know what the women I had looked like?"
Wendy shook her head, suddenly feeling very uncomfortable. Hook smiled in satisfaction.
"You didn't want to sleep with that pretty boy you ran away with. Why not? You felt no love for me, so why not sleep with a handsome lad such as he? I know why. For the same reason every girl I slept with could have been your sister. We may not love each other, but we don't really want anyone else. Can you deny that this is how it is?"
Wendy blushed, but then she shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. For now it will have to be enough that I’m here.”
Looking away, Hook concentrated on wrenching his claw out of the woodwork. Wendy's hands were tightly clenched and she looked determined enough to tell him that she was not going to relent. He could rave as much as he liked and the most likely result would be to make her even more stubborn in her refusal. He quickly retreated, choosing to keep his voice soft when he spoke again.
"I'm not the man you once envisioned would come to take you away, am I, Wendy? What did you dream about, all those years in Fortuna? About a hero who would rescue you from me? He didn't exist. He never did."
Wendy looked pained. His words touched the rawness Nicholas's betrayal had brought. Hook ventured a little closer to her, keeping his voice low, persuading.
"You could change me, you know."
Wendy flinched, and Hook knew she had thought about it, even if her words said otherwise. "What? What do you mean?"
"Tell a story. Make me into a man who is worthy of you. I know I have hurt you, and believe me Wendy, I regret those actions. I wish I had treated you differently. You could change me to be someone you would want."
Wendy didn’t answer at once and when she did she spoke very slowly. “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that. If I changed you, we would both know it was I who did it. If you are to change, James, then you will have to do it yourself."
Their days slowly settled into a routine. At first, their time together were mostly long stretches of awkward silences as both remembered vividly the eruption of emotions and events that had brought them to this point. It was not without difficulty for Hook, forced as he was to find new ways to conduct himself. It did not come easy for a man used to getting his way in everything, to restrain his actions, but he managed. Wendy held no wish to use her words to make the Captain behave differently, but neither of them forget power to do so was hers. Eventually they started to talk with each other, carefully steering away from any painful subjects. They found, to their equal surprise, that they enjoyed each other's company and little by little the atmosphere grew less restrained between them. After all, Hook had not wished for a simpleton for a wife and Wendy had been a diligent student under her various tutors. Now, when forced to talk about things without embarrassing connotations, they could explore subjects both of them found interesting, and those were more plentiful than they had thought.
No longer restricted to the cabin, Wendy wandered all over the ship to make herself familiar with it. She was not received kindly by the crew. Their ingrained hostility against women was tempered only by fear of the Captain, and of the wolf who accompanied Wendy. Wendy knew why she had not insisted on getting a cabin of her own. The possibility of someone in the crew trying to kill her in her sleep was not unlikely. It took Wendy several days to remember that she could easily have avoided any threats to her person, and when she understood that, she had to admit to herself that she probably hadn't thought about it because she somehow wanted to be near the Captain, even if he posed no small threat to her person himself.
The nights were difficult, though. Wendy slept badly, dreaming nightmares where she thought she woke up with the Captain's hand closed around her throat, the wolf a bloody heap on the floor. She woke up from those dreams choking, sitting up in her narrow bed and trying hard not to scream. One night she awoke, but from what she didn't know, and found Hook standing by her bed. With his back to the window he was just a shadowy shape to her. Wendy could not tell what expression his face bore, but she could make out the tension in his shoulders and she dared not move. It seemed like he stood there for hours, then he suddenly left, going back to his own bed. Wendy wondered how many nights he had been standing like that, but in the morning she said nothing about it, and neither did he. But somehow she felt safer knowing he had just been standing there, not trying to touch her and she started to sleep better after that night.
One evening Wendy sat in her chair and studied her hands. It had been a nice evening. The conversation had run smoothly, but there was something Wendy wanted to say. She had thought about it for a long time, but never found a good opportunity. Eventually she had realised the right time probably never would arise, so if she wanted to say it, she had to say it now. So now she sat there, looking at her own small hands, and then she looked at James's. His hand was large, to suit a large man, but his long fingers were well-shaped and surprisingly sensitive looking.
"I could," she started, but then she stopped, unsure of how to word it. After a slight pause she tried again. "You know I could, if you want, give you your hand back."
The Captain, who had leaned back in his chair, smoking, sat up, his body suddenly tense. Wendy, who was afraid that he would fly into a rage, continued hurriedly.
"I never meant to hurt you, I had no idea of what I did, how could I? I never knew how much it hurt. Then it was just a story... I didn't know."
She paused and James answered her, his voice sounding strangled, but not angry.
"But I can undo it now. Now, at once, if you want me to."
Hook just nodded, and Wendy, sensing she must leave him in peace for a while, said nothing further.
Hook looked down on his hand. This was what he wanted, wasn't it? To have two hands, to be whole. He stretched out his right arm, looking at the claw. To not have a misshapen stump which ached. To never have to wear the claw again, and the chafing harness. Despite that, he could not bring himself to tell her to do it, and for a long time he said nothing, turning her offer over and over in his mind.
"No," he said finally. He met Wendy's disbelieving eyes. "It's part of who I am. If it was something anyone could do, get one's hand back, then I would. But I don't want it because of the magic of your words."
"But it was my fault!" Wendy protested. "I made it so, and for no good reason."
"No," James repeated. "That is the way I am. I never really was anything else."
Another pause, while Wendy stared down on the floor. Then he continued.
"You can do it, if- If you would like me better with two hands."
She looked up sharply, and opened her mouth only to close it again. For a moment she looked like she would cry, but the she shook her head. "No. That bears no weight in what I think of you."
Hook would have liked to ask her what she thought of him now, but in the end he said nothing more, and the matter of hands were not raised again between them. Even so, both were secretly satisfied with how it all had turned out, and the ease between them continued to grow. However, despite that, Wendy's resolve to not share Hook's bed remained, to their mutual frustration.
One morning, as Wendy was standing in front of the mirror, combing her hair and Hook watched her. He suddenly decided to take advantage of her preoccupation with her hair. Wendy was frowning slightly as she tried to coax the last hairpin into place and she didn't notice him until his right arm had encircled her waist and drawn her close to him. She met his gaze in the mirror.
"No," she said, trying to wriggle out of his grip.
Much to her aggravation her voice sounded weak and her efforts to free herself was severely hampered by Hook as he took advantage of the situation and distracted her by kissing her neck. Small kisses, like a butterfly fluttering over her skin. The effect on Wendy was curious enough that her knees felt weak and she leaned against the Captain to seek support. His hand took one of hers and brought it up to his mouth and he kissed her palm, making her shiver, then letting his hand stroke her arm upwards, until it came to rest on the bare skin above her neckline.
"No," she said again, fighting to give her voice authority.
"Why not? I know I'm not alone in wanting this, so why do you fight it?" Hook's voice was a low purr and Wendy could not help but think of what it promised.
"Is it? How? I have-" He paused and corrected himself. "We have, every right to do this."
He let go of her, though he still stood as close to her as before. His hand caressed her neck, his thumb casually touching a spot just beneath her earlobe and Wendy could feel resolve melt and reason reduced to meaninglessness by his touch.
"See. I don't hold you anymore. Step away from me and I will let you, but I dare you to say that you really want me to stop."
As the moment seemed to stretch out into infinity, Wendy stood perfectly still. Heat radiated from Hook's body; she felt it as if even the light touch of his fingers burned her skin. Hesitantly she took a step forward and James' hand slid down from her neck and her body had no contact with his anymore. Wendy turned to face him, putting her hands on his shoulders so she could look steadily up at him.
Hook didn't move. He hardly dared to breathe while he waited for Wendy to make her decision. He could do nothing more, he had made his wishes clear, but though he stood unmoving, he was battling with himself. The impulse to take what he wanted with no regard to anyone else than himself was strong and he almost surrendered to the craving of getting what he desired without hesitation or thoughts about what Wendy felt. Instead he waited, telling himself that she at least was considering him, when she could have rejected him with a simple word.
Wendy searched James' face, his blue eyes, but she didn't know what she was looking for. Was it possible to fall in love with someone who had hurt you, like James had hurt her? Who you had just begun to think that you may forgive some day in the future? She had to admit that it probably was possible, more than possible actually, but if so, ought you? Should you not try to stop yourself before your feelings made you even more vulnerable?
This decision had to be made sooner or later, she knew that. It had been foolish to believe she wouldn't be affected by living so close to him. Wendy gripped the velvet of James' coat tighter in her hands and closed her eyes to try to collect herself. Then she looked up again and let her hand move up to his neck. Tugging his head down to hers, she kissed him. Wendy could feel James' arms wrap around her again and she happily stepped closer. She did want this and right now she didn't want to feel sensible.
They kissed, James' hand buried in her hair, making hairpins scatter as most of the knot that she had worked so hard to get nice and orderly dissolved. She didn't mind - it felt good to be so close to James again, good to inhale his scent and have his arms around her. At that point they were interrupted. The wolf had watched them with growing suspicion for several minutes and now it decided that it was time to interrupt this. Wendy wasn't in danger, the wolf could sense that, but it was jealous of her affections and if this large man was petted, and not the wolf, then it was definitely time to break things up.
The wolf growled deeply and tried to insert itself between Wendy and Hook. They broke apart and the wolf made a turn around Wendy's skirts, giving the Captain a triumphant glare. When Wendy made an attempt to step around it, the wolf sat down and omitted a pitiful howl. James tried to look grave, though it was evident that he had some trouble concealing a smile.
"I am not going to perform in front of a wolf."
Wendy stifled a laugh. "I don't think he'll let you."
"Well, then it has to get out I’m sure fresh air will benefit it for an hour or two."
Wendy hesitated. If she shut out the wolf, then she had admitted to trusting .the Captain. It was only a symbolic move, she knew that, but it was still hard for her. To be all alone with James, that did scare her a bit still. Frowning, Wendy bit her lip. She had already accepted him, but she could change her mind. Only she didn't want to turn back now. The wolf readily bounced to its feet when Wendy called, happily wagging its tail. Convinced Wendy had returned to her senses, it followed her to the door. When she opened it and told the wolf to find Smee, it trotted out, sure Wendy would follow. Instead the door closed and the wolf found itself alone on the outside. Inside Wendy breathed out, for a moment resting her head against the door. Then she turned back toward James and smiled.
Thank you for reading. I know the ending is open, but I kind of like it that way.