I am not small, and I have never sparkled. I am a tinker - I mend things made of metal, all metal, except iron - and one of my names has been Bell, because I make them. I can fly, but I do not have wings. I need no children to believe or clap for me to remain, only shadows and thoughts and the dreams of humankind.
And Peter is mine, and always will be. And while he forgets, he will always remember. I will always remind him. I have made him immortal and I have made him invincible, and all the human girls grow and fade and pass away.
Here, I will show you how I made us into a story: it is a certain time and a certain place, and there is a man who holds troubles in his heart, and writes stories for children. I see him one day. I am wandering the world, thinking while Peter dreams and forgets his last sorrow. That is when I see the man, this writer man. Most importantly, I see in him his hunger.
The fae are hunger. For food and love and light and colour, for souls and life and everything thereafter. We see it in humans, and we know how to use it, so I smiled and I followed the writer man.
When he goes to bed, his head full of tortured dreams, I sit beside him and whisper a story. That is how we make humans our instruments: we whisper in their ears when they sleep. We make spells out of words and thoughts, weave them into nets and catch human minds to drag them where we will. We're very good at it.
But we are not the only ones who do so, and the girl's ghost is here, too. It followed me: it does that sometimes. It works itself into the net and twists itself into the story, tries to weave its own spells. In the end, I lose my temper and, becoming real for a moment, risking the man awakening, I curse the ghost and bind it to the story forever.
It has a little victory: in the story, I will disappear, and Peter forgets me, too. It's a paltry little thing, though, because that is only the story. I have the real Peter, and I always will.
The ghost rails and cries. It is trapped now. When the man wakes he will begin to compose it, and something that might have been serious and dangerous becomes simple and childlike with words that soothe and mock at once. I smile. That is what I wanted.
I will ignore the insult, the idea that Peter could ever forget me forever, and I step into the shadows again.
I made us a story. There is no greater thing to throw humans off, nowadays. It makes us laugh, sometimes, we fae: once stories were our bane, the things that told humans how to kill us, trap us, evade us, destroy us, bind us. Now there is no greater way to make something unreal than to have someone say, This is a story, and I made it up. If you pin the stories onto paper and put a name beside them, then nearly everyone knows they are lies.
Stories are safe for us now, and humans did it themselves.
The story calls her Wendy. That wasn't her name, but it doesn't matter now. The ending is a lie. You will have guessed that, with mention of the ghost. The real ending is much sadder but, you see, they almost stole Peter from me. I cannot allow that. I love him, and love is a terrible thing for the fae. We do not feel it often, and we most often run from it if we can: when it catches us, it has caught us forever, and we cannot die. She, and her daughter, and her granddaughter: they nearly stole him from me, leaving me empty to scream out my loss to infinity. I will not do that.
So I made sure I would not have to. I love him, you see. Not like girl to boy, or mother to son, or sister to brother, or any other thing that humans understand. I love him as a faerie loves a human, and that is its own thing, its own shape.
I have never been small, or winged, or sparkling. I have been many things, but now, as I find my sleeping Peter, to wake him again so that we can walk together, I look like this: my hair is pale and nearly white, my face is thin and pale-skinned with sharp, pointed chin. Are my ears pointed? You would never know. I wear clothes of the fashion of this time, and the hood of the sweatshirt covers much. Maybe they are sharper than human ears. My fingers are longer. My eyes would be strange to human eyes. Once I did wear clothes sewn of leaves, but now I wear spun cotton denim, ragged and marked here and there with holes. I am cold. We are always cold.
I look as if I am as young as he. I am older than many stars.
I made a bed for him in a wood that is still safe, for now. I covered him with leaves to keep him warm and set imps to watch him, demons to owe him protection if harm came and I did not. I shoo them away now, long since paid for their troubles. I brush the leaves away from Peter's body, and I dress him in the clothes I have brought.
There are different kinds of Neverlands now. He will need to look the part.
When I kiss his forehead and whisper, "Peter?" he stirs and his eyelids flicker. He lifts his hands to rub his eyes. Turns over and sits up. Looks around with his wide, beautiful eyes.
"Hello," he says, as he always says. He yawns and frowns and asks, as he always does, "What do I call you this time?"
I am still thinking of the book, and I am thinking of other things, so I decide, "Tink," because it is also the kind of name children who look like us might have. We can walk among them and live for a while again. Peter will love them, and think of them, and forget them, remember them and forget me, and remember me.
"All right," he says. "Tink. Who am I?"
"Peter," I tell him. "You're always Peter."