Wendy wholeheartedly believed the impossible dream as she laid a plate of freshly-baked chocolate cookies, a glass of cold milk, and fresh linen napkin on the window ledge, stared up into the clear starry sky with a look of hopeful longing before retreating to a chair to take up her sewing. Leaving the window wide open despite the late December chill, she turned on a single gas light before beginning her lonely work, wondering what kind of fun her brothers were having in the nursery down the hall.
"I know I have my own room now, Peter," she spoke as if he was in the room with her, "But, please don't think I've stopped believing in you. I could never do that. Not after really meeting you and the Lost Boys and seeing Neverland. You were so brave to save us from Captain Hook; I shall never forget that." She paused, gathering her courage, then continued in a breathless voice, "But I'm really hoping you might come again tonight. We-the boys and I-would very much like to wish you a Merry Christmas. And, oh, do please remember that I've only had my own room for a very little while now."
A soft knock sounded on her door and, for a moment, she was sure that Peter had really come. Then she remembered herself and knew that he would come via the open window not from the door that led into the hallway.
"What if Santa eats Peter Pan's cookies, Wendy?" her youngest brother asked meekly when she opened it, teddy bear in hand and great tears in his eyes.
"Oh, don't worry about that, Micheal," she knelt and took him into her arms, "I made two batches. Santa has his milk and cookies downstairs, by the Christmas tree, and Peter's are on the window. Santa won't make a mistake. He is very smart."
Seeing that he looked a little reassured, she continued, "Where is John? Didn't he come with you?
Micheal shook his head, "He said we can't bother you at night, now that you're a grown up."
She gasped, her face flaming, half afraid that Peter would hear, "Well, you march right back to the nursery and tell him that I want to see him this instant!"
He turned back, nodding obediently, then hesitated, "Would you come with me?"
"Oh, well no, I'm afraid I can't," she shook her head, mindful of her expected visitor, "You see, I'm terribly afraid that Peter might not come if I'm not here. Or that he won't stay if I'm gone, even for a moment."
"Why would he do that?" Micheal was horrified.
"Well, he might think," she started to explain, "That is to say that he might think that I'm, well, um, uh, well, occupied, now that I have my own room and all."
"Occupied?" he echoed, scrunching his nose in confusion.
Her face turned beet red, "Well, you see...that is to say—"
Fortunately Nana appeared in the hallway and, marching up to the little boy, she hauled him away like a little lost puppy.
"Thank you, Nana," Wendy muttered under her breath, then called to her brother before retreating back into her room, "Don't forget to tell John."
"Peter!" she gasped, jumping in surprise as the door clicked shut; she ran across the room to where he sat on the window ledge, stuffing cookies into his mouth, demanding, "Where did you come from?"
"Neverland." he answered, barely glancing at her, "These cookies are cold."
Her face flamed again, "Well, they wouldn't be if you'd been here when I first laid them out. I brought them straight from the oven." Then she caught herself, remembering how much she'd longed for this moment, "But never mind. I'm so glad you're here! Merry Christmas, Peter!"
"What's that?" he stopped eating and gave her a quizzical look.
"What's Christmas?" she was taken aback, "Why...don't you know?"
"But, everybody knows about Christmas."
"Well, I don't. We don't have it in Neverland."
"Oh, but that's impossible!" she protested, looking more and more horrified every moment "Christmas has to be in a place where you can never grow up because it's adults that stop believing in Santa. Oh, Peter, you must let us go back with you now so we can teach the Lost Boys about Christmas!"
"But you're a grown-up now," he frowned, hands on his hips. He sprang back into the air, posed to fly away now that the cookies were gone, "Goodbye, Wendy."
"Oh no, Peter!" she caught his foot and held on for dear life, "You mustn't go. Oh, you mustn't! Why, I'm not at all grown up yet and I've only had my own room for a couple weeks. And-and, what would John and Micheal do if you came and didn't show yourself to them?"
"Alright, Wendy," he suddenly relented, "You and the boys can come back to Neverland."
"It's Peter Pan! Peter Pan is here!" John and Micheal suddenly burst through the door.
Wendy whirled around, chastisement on her tongue for their barging in, but the words that came out were utterly different.
"We're going to Neverland again! Isn't it wonderful?" she ran to her brothers and threw her arms around them, spinning them in a little jig, "Oh, just think! We're going to teach the Lost Boys about Christmas!"
"Hooray, hooray!" the boys cheered, as they danced together.
"Why don't they already know about Christmas?" John suddenly broke off, pushing his spectacles back up on his nose with a perplexed expression.
"Oh, Peter say they don't have it there." Wendy explained.
"Oh, no!" tears sprang up in Micheal's eyes, even as he stoically scrubbed them back.
"We'll have to bring them presents too!" John said, "You can't have Christmas without presents."
"Oh, you're right, John!" Wendy gasped. Spinning towards the open window, she mused about what they should take with them, "I should think they would need new clothes because they don't have a mother to sew for them and, let's see, what else…perhaps I should run down to the kitchen and prepare a Christmas dinner. Mother would have to help me, of course, because I've never actually done it, but I think she would. And the Lost Boys don't have a mother so they've never had a proper Christmas dinner."
"Toys!" Michael cried, raising his teddy bear in the air then quickly lowering it, "But not my teddy." He glanced at John, wordlessly suggesting that his older brother could donate to the cause.
"Yes, of course, Michael," Wendy murmured, too preoccupied with her own planning to really hear what he'd said, "Now, John, I think some of the big boys would fit into your clothes, but you have to pack something decent or our family will get a bad reputation for giving junk to the less fortunate."
"Yes, of course, Wendy," he answered seriously, pushing his glasses back up on his nose again as he took his younger brother's hand, "Come on, Micheal, let's go pack some stuff to give to the Lost Boys."
"Yeah!" the little boy agreed with a happy smile, almost dragging John as he skipped towards the door, "It's too bad there aren't any Lost Girls in Neverland. Wendy won't be able to give any of her clothes."
"That's because girls don't get lost," John reminded him philosophically, "Who you be the mother if girls ever got lost?"
They returned a few minutes later, arms laden with with everything they could possibly hold, to find their sister aggravated about Peter for not letting her go downstairs to fix a Christmas dinner to take with them, but John quickly remind his sister that they didn't have time for such a thing and that they couldn't wake mother and to help her while Peter was with them anyways.
"Well, alright," she sighed, looking forlorn, "though I shall miss having our Christmas dinner while we're away in Neverland." But she quickly forgot about it as she set about packing her brother's gifts into baskets for them to carry.
"Tink, Tink!" Peter called, remembering that the Darling's needed to be sprinkled with pixie dust in order to fly, "Where are you? We're ready to go, Tink!" He tried to open some of Wendy's drawers, but she shooed him away. Then he looked under her bed and behind her drapes, asking, "Where'd she go?"
"I haven't seen her." Wendy looked concerned.
"Me neither." the boys agreed, hanging their heads, "I guess we won't be going to Neverland, after all."
"No!" Peter's face turned savage and he smashed his fist into his palm, "You're going to Neverland! You will bring Christmas to the Lost Boys and the mermaids and the Indians. Tink, this is your last chance. Come out now, or I'll banish you from the hideout forever!"
There was a moment's pause then suddenly the sound of little bells came from behind Wendy's nightstand and a little light flew into the air.
"Hooray, Hooray," the children cheered again, their hope rising once more.
Peter seized her quickly and shook pixie dust on the children, "Now, remember what you have to do."
"Think happy thoughts," Wendy immediately replied, "I'll think of seeing the Lost Boys again. Can you imagine their faces when they see what we've brought them?" She was already rising off the floor, "What will you think of, John, Micheal?"
"I'll think about Captain Hook's face when he sees us again!" Micheal giggled.
"Oh, don't worry about that." Wendy shook her head, "We defeated that old codfish last time, remember? And took his ship."
"Well, actually," Peter answered, "I gave the Jolly Roger back to the pirates."
"What?" Wendy whipped around in the air, hands on her hips.
"But…" he added, waving away her concern, "I made them sign a contract that they would never hurt us again. Capt'n Hook himself signed it."
"I'm thinking about Tiger Lily!" John said, his face rosy with curious delight.
"John!" Wendy's jaw dropped, but the boys were beginning to float.
Peter leaped to the open window, "Alright, everybody, do you remember how to get to Neverland?"
"Second star to the right and straight on until morning!"
"Then here we go!"
They lifted off and zoomed into the inky blue sky, soaring over London as they headed towards the end of the world. Flying over over great cities, small villages, thick forests, hot deserts, snow-capped mountains, lush valleys, wind-swept steppe, icebound lakes, and wide deep oceans. Wendy's eyes misted with tears as she recognized the same grand castles, magnificent churches and mosques, bountiful gardens, windswept old battlefields, lonely cemeteries, and deep dark mines that they'd seen on their first trip so she didn't even notice when her hair clip had fallen out and her long light brown curls were blowing loose in the wind.
"Look, look!" John cried out pointing, bringing his sister's mind back to the present.
"There it is!" Micheal celebrated, almost dropping his teddy bear.
Peter swooped to grab the beloved stuffed animal and returned it then waved them forward, "To the hideout, everybody! Come on!"
Wendy plunged after him, her heart more endeared to the boy who would never grow up after watching his care for her youngest brother's coveted toy. She was so eager to be able to share all the Christmas traditions with the Lost Boys that she almost outpaced him.
"Pan in sight!" the pirate in the crows nest bellowed, spyglass to his eye. The Jolly Roger lay at anchor in Cannibal Cove, just off the mouth of Crocodile Creek, "Tell the Captain he's heading towards Hangman's Tree and he isn't not alone."
Mr. Smee hurried to deliver the message but tripped over his own feet when he looked up to catch a glimpse of their longtime nemesis and slammed headfirst into the captain's door just as his venerable old boss opened it.
"Mr. Smee!" James Hook bellowed, failing to notice his first mate lying on the deck at his feet, "Mr. Smee, where are you?"
"Right here, Cap'n!" the portly man raised his hand, scrambling to his feet, "Right here. At your service, sir." He looked hopeful, thinking about how much his boss would like the current news, "The crew has sighted Peter Pan, sir, circling up to the north for Hangman's Tree, sir."
Hook raised an eyebrow, "Oh?"
Smee danced in place, thrilled by the reaction, "And he isn't alone, Capt'n sir."
Hook instantly leapt forward, grabbing a spyglass to search the sky, and small cruel smile formed on his mouth when he recognized the Darling children.
"It's Wendy!" he gasped, eyes bulging with surprised delight. Whirling around, he almost crashed into first mate as he stormed back to his cabin, bellowing, "Smee! Where are you, Smee!"
"Right here, sir! At your service, sir!" the smaller man waved to get his attention.
"Mr. Smee!" Hook grabbed him by the shoulders, "I want you to take me and some of the boys to Hangman's Tree to find out what they're up too." He shoved the portly man into the ship's dingy as other pirates hurried to obey. Then he gallantly lowered himself into a seat and they dropped into the water, arriving at Hangman's Tree in time to hear Wendy telling the Lost Boys all about Christmas and lamenting the fact that they had no time to set up a proper Christmas tree.
The Lost Boys pleaded with her to let them open their gifts right away, but she firmly held out by saying that Santa was sure to bring them more gifts once they were asleep tonight and then they could open them all tomorrow morning. It had been many years since any of the pirates had celebrated Christmas and hearing the girl's words now brought back fond memories. But, while his crew's eyes welled with nostalgic tears, Hook's eyes held a greedy gleam and he immediately began orchestrating a new scheme.
"But, Capt'n," Smee whined, plucking at his boss's lavish red coat, "What about the contract Pan made you sign?" He pulled the paper out of his shirt and pointed, "We can't hurt them. It says right here. And it's bad form to break our word."
"Ah, so it is, Mr. Smee." Hook acknowledged, patting the portly man's head patronizingly, "So it is. But we won't harm a hair on their heads."
"We won't?" Smee smiled with hope.
"No." Hook smiled evilly, "We're going to steal their Christmas presents."
Wendy settled onto the floor of the hideout as John, Micheal, and the Lost Boys gathered around her, having been convinced to tell them a bedtime story before they all went to bed; Peter flew to a branch near the roof with Tinkerbell pouting on his shoulder.
"Twas the night before Christmas," she recited by heart, "and not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse." Casting a quick glance at the skinny little socks that John had hung next to the entrance slide, she was grateful that he had thought of them as she said the next line, "The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there."
At the next line her face clouded, wishing that she'd had time to make the Lost Boys a proper Christmas meal, "The children were nestled all snug in their beds while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads." Then she hesitated, realizing anew that this poem had been written by a father and wondered if her sleepy audience would notice, "With mother in her kerchief and I in my cap, we settled in for our long winter's nap when out on the lawn there arose such a clatter—"
It was at that very moment that several heavy footfalls sounded above their heads. Everyone sat up a little straighter and, in that moment, even Wendy couldn't have been convinced that it wasn't Santa himself.
"Oh, you must go to bed now!" she gasped, scrambling to her feet while the others remained stupidly motionless, "He won't come down if you're awake! Oh, hurry, boys! Hurry!"
"Snap too, men!" Peter barked, quickly soaring into the air with resolution on his face, "You heard your mother!"
The boys launched up, woken by their fearless commander, and pandemonium ensured when they all tried to outdo everyone else in getting to bed.
"Hey, that's my hammock!" Slighty pulled on one of John's legs as he was climbing up.
"Yeah!" Cubby joined his friend, pulling John's other leg, "You're going on the Naughty List now!"
"John!" his sister called crossly, "Don't-"
"I'm sorry," he apologized quickly, horrified that they might be right, "I didn't mean too!"
"And that's our bed!" the Twins tackled Micheal, grabbing his teddy bear as he went to his knees.
To Wendy's relief, Peter swooped in and angrily snatched her brother's bear away from them; he used it to smack the thieves across the face before handing it back to Micheal, "What are you guys? Coon Goons? You know stealing is against the rules. Now I'm gonna have to hand down a judgment on Christmas Eve!"
But before he could say another word, a familiar laugh echoed at the top of the slide and the next minute Captain James Hook was among them. His laugh was sinister, "Merry Christmas, Pan!"
"Hook!" Peter immediately drew his knife as the Lost Boys and Darlings joined him in the air, "You signed a contract!"
"Oh, I didn't come here to harm anyone." Hook bowed to them.
"You didn't?" Peter was suspicious.
"Why no, my boy," Hook laughed again, "Why no. We came to steal your Christmas presents!"
"Why, you-you, codfish!" Wendy balled her fists, her face flaming, "You can't do that!"
"Stealing ain't allowed here!" the Twins suddenly launched themselves at the pirate, surprising him enough to knock him to his back, "Hook, you're going on the Naughty List!"
Peter and the rest of the Lost Boys quickly followed up and other pirates fled anyway they could.
"Well, Hook," Peter said, landing in front of their only captive a few minutes later, "It looks like your crew deserted you. But since it's Christmas Eve, I'll let you go on one condition."
"What's that?" Hook asked miserably.
"You gotta say you're a codfish."
Author's Note: This story is entered into the Fellowship and Fairydust Winter Writing Contest. The judging is ongoing but I will post links to our website and Youtube channel so you can read the stories we have posted there.