" She's like Wendy… s he returns to her childhood, on the night before her wedding, the night she's supposed to grow up. She's flown off with Peter Pan to have an amazing, mad adventure on a fairytale ship." – Steven Moffat
Amelia's five years old and still in Scotland the first time she watches the Peter Pan film. Her parents come home one night with a brand new video tape and a box of biscuits. She sits on the sofa in between her mum and dad with a big blue blanket wrapped around her. It doesn't even take her fifteen minutes to decide that this will always be her favourite film.
When she falls asleep that night, she dreams of her very own Neverland.
The days after that sort of blur together. They move from Scotland to a stupid, little town in England, and lose the tape along the way. And by the time she loses her parents, she can barely even remember the fairy tale.
She doesn't even think about it when a magical man in a blue box falls out of the sky and promises to take her away on adventures. She's too busy waiting for her Raggedy Doctor to come back to think about someone else's fairy-tale, after all. (And she knows he will come back. He said he would!)
That all changes two months after she meets the Doctor, when a girl named Mels joins her class. She comes and sits with her and Rory at lunch, and it doesn't take Amelia long to tell that she likes her: Mels is loud and funny and way cooler than Rory and doesn't think she's weird when she tells her the story of the Raggedy Doctor.
"He sounds like Peter Pan!" she tells Amy instead.
That afternoon, Mels and Rory come over to play. And that afternoon, for the first time in two months, Amelia wants to play something other than the Raggedy Doctor game. Well, sort of. She still makes Rory dress in an oversized shirt with a tie, and tells him that the Doctor is Peter Pan so he has to play the Doctor playing Peter. He doesn't like it – he whines that he wants to be Peter, not her stupid Doctor–but stops when Amelia pinches him and tells him to just shut up and do it.
It becomes one of their favourite games. Well, after the Raggedy Doctor game, of course. The Doctor (played by Rory) is always Peter, but Mels always changes her character. Sometimes she's Tinkerbell, sometimes Tiger Lily, sometimes she's even Hook. But she never plays Wendy; she never even asks. Amelia thinks it's because she knows better.
Mels likes to argue a lot, but even she knows that Amelia Pond is the only person who gets to be the Doctor's Wendy Darling.
When they're thirteen, they go to see the new Peter Pan film. Amelia doesn't know much about it except that it's called Return to Neverland and that it's the sequel to the film she first saw as a child. And really, that's all it takes, because she loves Peter Pan. She doesn't care that she's a teenager now and she's supposed to have outgrown fairy tales. After all, growing up's kinda overrated, don't ya think?
Only this film isn't about Wendy Darling and her adventures with her Peter Pan. No, in this film, Wendy's all grown up with her own daughter, Jane. (It's a stupid name, Jane. It's not nearly as magical as Wendy. Jane Darling is a rubbish name; Wendy Darling, on the other hand, is like a name in a fairy tale. Jane is a stupid name. A stupid, stupid name.) And in this film, Wendy doesn't run away with Peter; Jane does. It's Jane who Peter wants and who gets to have adventures in Neverland, not Wendy.
Amelia hates the film, but Mels and Rory love it. Mels even says that she likes it better than the original. They won't even change her mind after Amelia tells her that it was an awful film (and they always agree with her!) so she gets angry, screams at them, and storms home.
They're stupid, she thinks as she lies on her bed and looks up at the stars painted on her ceiling. Who likes a story where Peter doesn't come back for Wendy? She's his Wendy, after all, and she belongs in Neverland with him. Not Jane. Peter is supposed to come back for her.
Amelia hugs a pillow to her chest and rolls to her side. Her eyes land on her desk, where her favourite Raggedy Dolls sit.
He's supposed to come back…
He will come back.
He promised he would.
He has to!
But the stupid film plays over and over in her head, and she hates herself for going to it. More than that though, she hates what it's telling her – what it makes her think – because if Peter didn't come back for Wendy then the Doctor may not…
No. No, no, no! He has to come back. He can't not come back. He's her fairy tale, her magic story, her Peter Pan. He'll come back for her. He said he would. He promised.
But, Amelia realises with tears blurring her stupid vision, Peter never came back for Wendy. Wendy grew up and got married and had kids, because he let her. Because he never came back. And it didn't matter how much Wendy waited for her Peter, because he didn't care. He didn't come back. He didn't want her anymore.
That night Amelia Pond realises that her Doctor isn't coming back for her.
She spends the entire night crying and screaming. She throws her stupid dolls around the room and even tears one or two of her drawings. She tosses her Peter Pan film out her bedroom window and hits the stupid new-old shed in her garden. It breaks, shatters beyond repair, but she doesn't care. It's not like any of it matters now. It's just a (stupid, stupid) story, after all, one that she's too old for.
The next day she starts going by Amy.
Amelia Pond is a name for a fairy tale and there's nothing fairy tale left in her life now.
The night Rory proposes, Amy hides herself away in the library. Though it isn't really a library – more like a room with a table, a couple of comfy chairs, and a few piles of books. She thinks that maybe, once upon a time, there'd been some sort of plans to turn it into an actual library, but that never happened. Aunt Sharon's never home long enough to enjoy it anyway, and Amy's not much of a book person. Except for times like now when she desperately needs a distraction.
It's not that she doesn't love Rory or that she wants to be with someone else; it's not even that she can't see herself getting married. It's just so…soon, ya know? She's barely twenty-years-old. This is the time in her life when she's supposed to have fun and go crazy. It's not the time when she's supposed to get married. Because getting married means settling down, it means starting a family, growing up. Especially growing up. And there's no way in hell she's ready to do that just yet. So when he asked, she didn't give him an answer. It's a ridiculously huge decision and she needs some time to think about it.
So, of course, the first thing she does when she goes home is look for a distraction.
Not that there's much of a distraction in here. Really, this is the most rubbish library she's ever seen. It's mostly Aunt Sharon's awful romance novels mixed in with a few self-help books. She rolls her eyes and is just about to leave – maybe there's something on the telly – when a little blue book catches the corner of her eye. Peter and Wendy.
It's a bloody awful idea, she knows, but she can't help herself. It was her favourite story growing up, after all, even if it did turn into her nightmare at some point. And if one thing can distract her right now, it's Peter Pan and his adventures with Wendy Darling. So Amy settles into a big, red comfy chair and flips to the first page, and reads. She reads and reads and she almost makes it to the end.
"You won't forget me, Peter, will you?"
Next year he did not come for her.
That was the last time the girl Wendy ever saw him.
A few pages from the end, she stops. She slams the stupid book and throws it back on the table. It crashes into a pile of books and sends them tumbling everywhere, but she doesn't care. Tears blur her vision and she pulls her knees to her chest, hugging them close to her.
"Damn Doctor," she mumbles, trying to blink the tears back.
It figures – he would kick her when she's down. It's not like he's ever done any differently.
Her phone beeps and Amy welcomes the distraction. An hour or two ago, she would have ignored it, but not now. No, right now she needs a distraction from her stupid distraction.
She slides her mobile open, but pauses when she sees exactly who the message is from. She frowns and her finger dances over the button. Part of her wants to ignore it, but the knocked over pile books taunt her. She sits there for a moment, debating her options – the source or the distraction. Rory or the Doctor. Neverland or the real world.
Wendy waited in a new frock because the old one simply would not meet; but he never came.
Amy shakes her head and presses the read button. The message from Rory pops up.
I love you Amy. I don't care what your answer is. I just want you to know that I'm here and I'm not leaving. I'll never leave you. Not ever.
A small smile tugs at her lips and she rolls her eyes. "Idiot," she mumbles. A tear rolls down her cheek and lands on the phone. She doesn't bother wiping it away. Instead she pressed the call button and brings the mobile to her ear. It doesn't even take Rory two rings to answer. "Oi, dummy."
"Yes yes. Don't tell me you've gone deaf now."
"Yes…" She doesn't have to see him to see the wheels turning and clicking into place. "Oh. My. God. Yes!"
Amy rolls her eyes again, but laughs this time. Rory babbles on for a minute before he tells her that he loves her and he'll be right over. She smiles, shuts her mobile, and wipes away the last stupid stray tear. But the moment she looks up, her eyes land on the pile of books, and her heart stops. She doesn't know how long she stands there, staring at the stupid table, before she finally shakes her head. She walks over and straightens the pile into one nice, neat stack, but she doesn't let her fingers rest on that stupid blue book; she doesn't let herself linger and think the stupid things she shouldn't be thinking right now. No, she just fixes her mess and leaves. She leaves and she doesn't look back.
Maybe it's time for Wendy Darling to grow up.
On the night before her wedding, Peter Pan flies back. And, really, it shouldn't surprise her–for a Time Lord, he has rubbish timing. See, it turns out what's been two years for her was probably another stupid five minutes for him. He acts the same, looks the same, he even has the same stupid bowtie. He grins at her like nothing's happened and he hasn't just missed another two bloody years, and asks her to run away with him.
"You wanted to come fourteen years ago."
"I grew up," she tries to protest, but it comes out a whisper instead. The words don't sound at all believable, even to her own ears. She's too stupidly overwhelmed right now. Her childhood dream is coming true in front of her, after all, and it's pretty damn hard to focus on being an adult when Peter Pan is ready to fly away with you.
It's almost as if the moron knows exactly what she's thinking, because he grins. "Don't worry. I'll soon fix that," he promises. And, with a snap of his fingers, the TARDIS doors open.
She knows she's supposed to walk away now. That's she's meant to turn around and march right back into her house, because she's grown up now. It's not some sort of stupid cold or something she's accidently picked up; you can't fix being an adult. She has to grow up, even if he refuses to. It's just what people do.
Except she's never really been the sort to do as she's supposed to, now has she? Because, really, she's terrified of growing up, of being an adult. And what if he's right–what if it can be fixed? After all, the moron obviously hasn't grown up, so why should she? Who says she has to? All she's ever wanted, ever since she was a kid, was to run away from it all. And here it is. Here's her chance, standing right in front of her.
She knows she shouldn't do it, but a childish laughter escapes her lips, and she does it. She steps into the blue box; she walks away from her real life – from her responsibility, from her life, from the door to adulthood – and straight into her own personal Neverland.
The night before her wedding, Wendy flies away with Peter Pan.
He refuses to tell her where they're going, only that it's a surprise. Oh, and that she probably shouldn't wear one of her skirts. She puts her hands on her hips and asks why, but he just grins, taps her on the nose, and reminds her that it's a surprise. Part of her wants to refuse, not because she's so desperate to know where they're going, but because he never not tells her where they're going. But at the same time, she's insanely curious now and she knows that he'll never tell her if she doesn't change.
Amy sighs and agrees. He grins and she tries to glare back at him, but a laugh escapes her lips instead. By the time she changes and comes back to the control room, he tells her that they've landed. He doesn't miss a beat; he just grabs her by the hand and leads her out of a TARDIS.
And straight into Ucak, a forest planet without gravity.
He tells her that technically it does have gravity, just not nearly as much as Earth. But she doesn't really play attention, because he's just brought her to a planet where she can fly. A bright laughter escapes out of her lips and she drives out of the TARDIS and straight into the sky. It doesn't even take the Doctor a second to follow her.
Turns out that flying isn't exactly as easy as it sounds. It's not like what you see in films (then again, the more she travels with the Doctor, the more she realises that very few things are). It isn't smooth or easy. No, no. Of course it isn't. It's a bit like swimming, but in the sky and with even less gravity. They don't fly around, doing fancy tricks or anything of the sort. No, they bumble around, barely able to keep proper balance, and more than once they collide into each other. It isn't romantic or graceful or any of those stupid things, but that doesn't mean it isn't magical or fantastic, and Amy can't remember the last time she's ever laughed so ridiculously hard.
Later, when it begins to get dark, they make their way above the forest. They sit-slash-hover on the treetops; three deep orange moons linger in the distance. The best part, the Doctor promises her, is coming now. And before Amy can even think to ask, a small light flickers out of the corner of her eye. She turns to find a single, small ball of gold glow fluttering around. After a breath, another appears, and then another, and another, until she can't even count them anymore. A few flutter around her and Amy realises that they're butterflies – golden glowing space butterflies. One lands on her nose and flutters its wings open.
"Kelebeks," the Doctor says before she can ask. "That's what they're called."
"They're beautiful," she breathes. The Kelebek on her nose flutters its wings and flies off. A bit of golden dust trails behind it and Amy suddenly realises it's coming from all of them. "What are they doing?"
"Aah, the Kelebek dust. The townspeople believe that it's actually that that makes the gravity on this planet so unusual."
Magic dust that makes people fly? A smile tugs at her lips. "How Neverland."
She shakes her head. "Nothing."
The Doctor stares at her for a moment, but doesn't say anything. She laughs and he automatically grins back at her. They turn their gazes back and, without thinking about it, she rests her head on his shoulder. After a moment, the Doctor slips his hand into hers.
As they sit there and watch the Kelebeks, Amy realises that she has never felt more…Wendy than she does right then. Growing up she watched the movies, she played the games, she even read the stupid book, but none of it has ever felt as real as this. It's nothing compared to the real thing, ya know? Because this is it, this–sitting here in Neverland with her stupid Peter Pan–is really, truly, ridiculously the real thing.
And Amy Pond realises that maybe, just maybe, her life really is a fairy-tale.
One night, a week after they've left Berlin and left River at some future space hospital, sleep refuses to come to Amy. She tosses, she turns, she even counts a hundred stupid space sheep, but nothing helps. So she waits until she knows Rory is fast asleep before she slips out of bed and out the door.
She finds the Doctor hidden away in a corner of the library. He's curled up on a sofa with a fluffy blue blanket, watching a film. She opens her mouth to say something, but stops when she hears a boy call for Tinkerbell. She turns to the screen and a bright smile tugs on her lips and she doesn't say anything when she plops down beside her Doctor.
"Shut up," she shushes him, "this is my favourite film." Well, technically it isn't the cartoon version grew up loving. Still, she knows Peter Pan when she sees it.
Her eyes are glued to the screen, but she can feel the Doctor's gaze on her. After a minute he sighs and she can practically hear his smile. "Of course it is," he mumbles and opens his blanket for her. Amy grins and cuddles underneath it.
An hour later, the film ends and the credits flicker away, but the Doctor doesn't move. He doesn't babble about how much he loves the film or how he's actually met the boy they based Peter off of or any of his usual rubbish. Instead, he sits there with his eyes locked on the screen and she's willing to bet anything that the moron stopped paying attention ages ago.
"Hey," she mumbles, "Are you alright?"
His head snaps to her and a grin spreads across his lips. "Of course I'm alright. I'm always alright. Are you alright?"
He's lying. She knows he is. She doesn't know how she knows it, because his grin doesn't look fake and his voice doesn't waver, but she just knows, okay? She knows because he's her Doctor and if there's one thing in this world she knows, it's him.
Part of her considers calling him out on his rubbish lying, but she doesn't. Instead she gives him a soft smile and slips her hand into his. He stares at her with wide eyes, but she wraps her fingers around his before he can even think of pulling away. "She'll never forget him, ya know?"
"Wendy. She'll never forget her Peter Pan."
His eyes soften, but he gives her a bit of a guarded look. "Amy…"
"Okay, yeah, she grows up and she gets married and has a family, and you know what? Maybe she even likes it. But that doesn't mean she ever forgets him. He's her Peter Pan, after all. It doesn't matter how old she gets or how young he stays, that will never change. Peter will always be special to her, ya know?"
He doesn't say anything, but she feels his hand tighten around hers. A small smile tugs at his lips and he nods softly. She smiles back and squeezes his hand once.
She waits a few moments before her smile turns wicked and she grabs the clicker off the table and restarts the movie. She shushes him again when he complains about having to watch it again and tells him that she never caught the start. He laughs as she rests her head on his shoulder and he kisses the top of her the head. Amy smiles and drifts off to sleep as Wendy flies away with Peter.
One Mother's Day, years and years later, River shows up on their doorstep wearing a new dress and her mother's mischievous grin. She holds up a pair of tickets and tells Amy to get dressed because she's taking her to the theatre this year. Oh, and she should hurry, because the show starts in less than an hour. After that, however, River refuses to tell her what show they're going to or even see the tickets. But the moment they arrive and Amy sees the advertisements, her eyes light up and a childish laugh escapes her lips.
Of all the plays in the universe, Melody Pond would take her mum to see Peter Pan.
They arrive ten minutes before the show begins, so they take their seats and laugh about the old fairy-tale. They reminisce on their childhood games; about how ridiculous Rory always looked in that stupid oversized shirt and the time Mels got so carried away playing Tinkerbelle that she tried to jump out the window, because she was so convinced she could actually fly. They laugh so hard that it takes them a couple of minutes to even realise that the lights have dimmed and the play's begun.
It's different, seeing the play instead of watching the film. Not a bad different though, just different, ya know? The large stage, the bright lights, the up close faces of the actors. Not to mention the rest of the audience sitting around her. But, for the most part, it stays the same, Peter flies to Wendy's room, takes her on mad adventures in Neverland and teaches her to fight pirates, but eventually brings her home. After all, play or film or book, it's still Peter and it's still Wendy and some things never change.
Except some things do.
Thing is, this version doesn't end with Peter bringing Wendy home and flying off. No, this version's a bit different, you see. Because in this version, Peter does come back. He comes back for Wendy but meets Jane instead. Jane, Wendy's daughter. Jane flies off with Peter instead of Wendy. Jane goes off to fight pirates and have mad adventures in Neverland with Peter. Not Wendy. And suddenly it's sort of like she's thirteen-years-old and she's at the cinema with Rory and Mels all over again. And it breaks her heart all over again.
Only this time it's different. This time she isn't annoyed because Peter came late, she isn't upset because Wendy's married and grown up, she isn't even cross because Peter flies off with Jane instead. No, this time it hurts on a whole other level because she understands. This time, Amy knows exactly what it feels like to watch your daughter run off with Peter Pan.
Except what hurts the most isn't that Peter's found Jane, that it isn't Wendy anymore. No, what hurts the most is that Jane's found Peter. That Wendy has to stand there and watch her daughter fly away with someone who will never, no matter what you want to think, be there forever. Because this is Peter Pan – the boy who doesn't grow up. The boy who, as much as you love him, will always find someone else to have adventures with. He's the boy who will love you as much as he knows how to, but will always move on. You see, the thing that hurts the most is that Wendy can do nothing but watch her Jane fly away with him. And she thinks that she finally understands what it really means to be Wendy Darling.
Amy finally understands that being Wendy Darling is so much more than having silly adventures in your nightie.
It takes the Doctor two years after his supposed death to show his face again. Two stupid years without a note or a single sign that he's alive, save a story from River. But, eventually, he comes back – and on Christmas Eve at that. She huffs a bit, refuses to hug first, and pretends that she's cross with him. And really, she probably should be. After all, it's been two more years – weren't the first fourteen enough for the moron?
Except she's not cross, not this time. Not really. Because, you see, this time she's not a seven-year-old girl waiting in her garden, she's not that twenty-one-year-old girl scared of becoming an adult. This time she isn't sitting around and waiting for Peter to come and take her on amazing adventures. You see, this time she's already busy having her own adventures at home. This time Wendy Darling's too grown up to be cross with Peter for taking so long to come back. So instead of snapping at him, she laughs and welcomes him back with a grin and a place at the table.
That's not to say the he suddenly makes it a habit of dropping by more often, because he doesn't. Of course he doesn't. When has the Doctor ever made it a habit of sitting still? He had a hard enough time doing that when she was travelling with him. (She can't even begin to count how many times she woke up to find him having extra adventures without her.) So he pops in every now and then, when the mood strikes him, but then flies off quickly enough; he has too many adventures waiting for him.
It doesn't last that long either. Slowly, but surely the visits become shorter and further in between. And it does suck – it sucks a lot, alright? – but it doesn't surprise her. Not when she actually stops to think about it. Because, you see, the older she gets, the younger he seems. She has a different life now (a house, a career, an actual life – those are her adventures now) and he's still off doing the same things he's always done. And it may work for him, but she's not so sure she can do it anymore.
So as it turns out, no matter how much she cherishes her time in the Neverland, she still grows up. And it turns out growing up isn't so bad, not when you realise you're sort of ready for it. And it makes the sucking and missing the Doctor a bit easier. So, in the end, Wendy stops waiting for Peter Pan to fall out of the sky and take her away. In the end, she grows up.
And she's okay with that.
Amy's thirty-three when she meets her. Well, she doesn't so much as meet her as run into her a video shop. She's distracted, trying to decide which stupid Peter Sellers film to buy Rory for his birthday, and doesn't notice the other girl until she's already crashed into her and their DVDs fall to the floor.
She bends down to collect their fallen items and an apology dances on her lips, but she swallows it the moment her eyes land on the other girl's only DVD – Hook. Her eyes widen and her fingers linger on the cover for a moment. She smiles and she picks it up and hands it to the other girl and apologises for being a moron and not watching where she was going. The other girl grins and tells her not to worry about it. And Amy knows this is the part where she's supposed to walk away, but she doesn't.
"Peter Pan, eh? That was my favourite story as a kid."
"Yeah?" The girl grins. "I wasn't a fan of it until recently. It all just seemed a bit too impossible for me. I mean a boy who never who grew up? Come on." She rolls her eyes, but her grin never fades. "But I met this bloke recently and, well, Peter kind of reminds me of him. It sounds silly, I know."
"Not really." She smiles. "I'm Amy, by the way."
They don't chat much more after that, just a few friendly words as they walk to the register. Still, something about the girl stands out to her. She can't quite place what it is, but there's just something about her she likes, ya know?
It doesn't take her long to realise what. The moment they step out of the shop, Amy spots it – the blue policebox sitting across the street from them. The exact same stupid box she's known as a child and it stops her in her tracks for a moment. If Clara notices, she doesn't say anything. Instead, she grins, tells Amy that it was nice to meet her, and turns to run across the street. She makes it all the way back to the TARDIS before she snaps out of it.
"Clara!" Amy calls, stopping the girl just short of opening the door.
A million thoughts run through her mind, a million things she wants to tell her, a million things she wants to ask her. How did they meet? Does she know River? How long has it been? Where has she gone? How is the Doctor? Do they still think he's dead? Is he still wearing that stupid bowtie? But more than that she wants to warn her, remind her that no matter how magical the fairy-tale seems now, Peter never grows up. That even though she will have to one day, he never will.
He's Peter Pan, after all, and there's a reason they call him the boy who never grows up.
Clara turns back around. "Yeah?" she asks.
And she looks at her with these bright eyes full of excitement and adventure and all those other things Amy felt once upon a time. Back when she was off having the adventures she always dreamed of. And she realises she can't do it. How can she when she knows that she wouldn't have wanted to hear it? It's something she has to realise for herself, ya know?
So Amy smiles back at her. "Have fun in Neverland, okay?"
Clara stares at her for a moment with a slightly confused look. It fades after a moment and Amy can see the realisation in her eyes. Clara grins back at her brighter than ever. "I'll give Peter your love."
Amy laughs and waves at her. Clara waves back briefly before she opens the door and slips into the TARDIS. After a moment a familiar whooshing sound reaches Amy's ears and the police box fades away. She stays for a moment, her eyes lingering on the spot where the spaceship had just stood. And in that moment she remembers all of it, every adventure, every emotion, every ridiculous moment with that bowtie-wearing Doctor of hers. Every second of her time in Neverland.
But she doesn't stay long and after that moment, she shakes her head. The smile doesn't fade from her lips, but she turns and begins her walk home. And as Peter Pan flies off to have another adventure throughout space and time, Wendy returns to her home. To her grown up life.
And she realises she wouldn't have it any other way.