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With This Ring

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Emma groaned, stretching this way and that, attempting to work the kinks out of her back. Squinting a little at the bright morning light pouring through the windows, she turned towards Killian, who was sprawled beside her on the bed. He was awake, although his blue eyes looked a little bleary. She leaned forward, the diamonds of her eternity pendant sparkling like miniature rainbows against her skin. With a sexy smile, she trailed a finger down his bare chest, savoring the firmness of his muscles, then kissed him full on the mouth.

Using his left hand, Killian playfully pulled on a strand of her long hair. It had been months since John Dee had restored the hand to him with his magic, and even now, the pirate marveled at its miraculous return. "Good morning, Swan - Feeling better?"

She nodded. "Much better - It's amazing what a good night's sleep will do - among other things." She kissed his shoulder, and sighed blissfully.

The pirate winked. "Aye, t'was wondrous indeed."

She laughed, although a trifle unsteadily. "Although, you'd think I'd had enough of sleep, what with being unconscious for two entire days."

"Aye," he agreed. "But natural slumber is different, and very healing." He touched her cheek. "I'm glad that you slept well."

"Yeah, I did - although I had the creepiest nightmare."

"A nightmare?"

"Yeah - not surprising, huh? Considering the last couple of days."

Killian suspected just what her "nightmare" had been - no doubt the same one that he'd sent packing the night before. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"I dreamed there was something hiding in the darkness. I couldn't see it clearly, as whatever it was kept slithering away from me - but it felt oddly familiar. Then I was alone, walking down a long dark corridor, lined with black mirrors. I was searching for you. I kept calling your name, but when you didn't answer, I started to panic. Next thing I know, I'm running through the darkness, with something pursuing me. As I ran, I heard screaming." She shivered. "It was horrible."

The pirate drew Emma closer, and hugged her. "I had hoped you had not heard it, beloved - but 'tis apparent that last night you sensed our enemy."

"You mean - it was really here?"

"Aye, Swan - It was here. Although the wards I set around the Jolly Roger - and an additional magical blast from me - soon sent it elsewhere." For a moment, he hesitated. "Although it has attacked all of us, I fear its real focus has always been you."

"Me?" Emma looked appalled. "But...why?"

"That I don't yet know, but I intend to find out. My suspicions were first aroused when Regina awakened right away, but you did not - and it was our home that was attacked last night."

"But it also tried to kill all of you on the boat," she pointed out. "And Regina and I were both attacked in the astral. When we tried to defend ourselves, neither of us could get our magic to work."

"'Tis too early to divine our enemy's ultimate purpose, but I agree that it wants us all dead - or at the very least, out of the way. How it was able to block your magic is another mystery entirely. Do you recall anything else about your experience?"

"Well - I'm not entirely sure - But I thought I felt something rush past me, as we fell through the portal."

"That would explain our unwanted visitor from last night," Killian replied. "I believe the attack on Leroy's boat was a ruse, its true purpose to divert you and Regina to the astral. Once there, it managed to follow you through the gateway, thus gaining its freedom." He took her hand in his. "Beloved, I don't want to alarm you, but when you were in the astral, I couldn't sense your presence. Usually, your ring alerts either of us if the other is in danger. But with your spirit in the astral, and the ring on your physical person only, its magic could not function."

Emma stared at her engagement ring, its carved onyx stone gleaming faintly in the sunlight. She could sense its hidden magic, linked to the power of their love. For a moment, she focused on their fingers, his large ones entwined with hers. How right it felt, and how perfectly their hands fit together. She lifted her eyes, staring intently into his. "But there's more, isn't there?"

The pirate nodded. "Aye, Swan - there's more. While it was to be expected that the ring's magic wouldn't work under such unusual circumstances, I should still have been able to sense you through our bond. But when I attempted to connect with you psychically, I couldn't find you - there was only silence from your end. That was when I truly began to fear for your safety."

"Do you think the presence cast some sort of nulling spell on us? But why was I able to sense you and Henry? It was by visualizing the two of you, that I was able to find my way home."

"We may never know, but all things are possible where there is love." He reached out, gently tracing the exquisite contours of her face. "I will not allow this thing to harm you or Henry - or the rest of our family. We must stay vigilant, with all our defenses at the ready, no matter where we are, or what we're doing. And none of us should be alone at this time - 'tis too dangerous. This may prove difficult, being that we're about to get married tomorrow."

"I know what my parents will say."

"What, Swan?"

"They'll tell us to postpone the ceremony until the threat is ended."

"That certainly sounds like them." Tilting his head, he fixed his brilliant eyes upon his bride-to-be. "Our enemy will certainly attack again, and soon - perhaps even at our wedding, where everyone will be at their most vulnerable. It greatly pains me to suggest it, but with such a potentially dangerous situation, postponement might indeed be the wisest course of action."

"No!" she exclaimed. "Thanks to that damned Cora, we were forced to wait eleven years - and since being reunited, it's been one crisis after another. I refuse to let this latest one ruin our happiness." Her eyes glittered with unshed tears. "All I want is for us and Henry to live our lives together, and be left the hell alone."

"As do I, my love." He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "Please don't cry. You're right, of course - we'll not let this beastie keep us from our nuptials. Besides, with the life we lead, there's always another crisis, so I suppose there's no real point in delaying things."

She offered him a tremulous smile. "We've been waiting so damned long."

"Indeed we have, and like you, I am weary of the wait." He kissed her again. "Now, my lovely princess, while I'm very tempted to dawdle in bed with you, duty calls. I suggest we get dressed, wake up Henry, and have breakfast. Afterwards, we'll drop the lad off at your parents, and then do a little sleuthing, and see if we can find Leroy."

She sighed. "Okay, but dawdling with you does sound like a lot of fun." As much as she longed to spend the entire day in bed with Killian, she knew they had a lot on their plate. Besides the search for Leroy, they had an urgent council meeting to attend, as well as a few final wedding tasks to complete. "With everything that's going on, it's a damned good thing we didn't plan a big wedding." The pirate agreed, as despite his public swagger, he was at heart a very private man. He was thankful they had decided upon an intimate ceremony, with only family, and a few close friends in attendance.

With a mercurial change of mood, Emma suddenly smiled, and threw back the covers. "Killian, just wait till you see my bridal gown." She slid out of bed, and with a graceful little pirouette, headed towards the tall rosewood armoire that held her clothing and other possessions. "But of course - no peeking until tomorrow."

"Oh, I'm quite looking forward to seeing it on you, Swan," he replied, entranced by the sight of her nude form. He smiled wickedly. "And later, of course, taking it off you."

With a pleased smirk, she turned to face him, a lacy brassiere held in one hand. "And I'm looking forward to you doing just that." She watched him climb out of their berth, and pad naked across the room to her side. With a sigh of pure contentment, she melted into his arms, her lips eagerly seeking his. After a long moment, the pirate regretfully released her, so that they could get dressed. He was glad that his lighthearted comment had taken the edge off Emma's anxiety. As he pulled on a clean pair of jeans, he mulled over the distinct possibility that their wedding was likely to be crashed. Killian bared his teeth in a feral grin. Let their adversary come if it dared - this particular groom would be waiting, fully armed, and prepared to do battle.