The temperature had plummeted, and Emma Swan shivered a bit, despite being clad in her warmest lined coat. She wrapped both arms around her waist in an attempt to conserve body heat, and anxiously surveyed the long folding table that she and Killian Jones had set up on the foredeck of the Jolly Roger. The table was covered by a crisp white cloth, and loaded with a tempting array of goodies: Organic crackers and canapés, gourmet cheeses, fresh strawberries, and two big chrome ice buckets filled with bottles of wine, ice tea, and flavored spring water. Clustered at the table’s center were votive candles in clear glass holders, their golden flames flickering like stars against the dusk sky. Tall crystal wine flutes sparkled in the candlelight, and nearby were stacked colorful pottery plates and linen napkins.
This get together was her idea; she just prayed that everything would go off without a hitch. She stared for a moment longer at the table, a frown creasing her forehead, before finally asking, “Do you think it’s too much, Hook?”
“Well, there’s no rum…” Killian began, with a smirk.
The pirate leaned over, and kissed his exasperated beloved. “All joking aside, Swan, it’s fine.”
“Do you think they’ll even stay once we make our announcement?”
“Well…it's free food and booze, so it will be their loss if they don’t. Besides, it's been a tough year for everyone - I think they can all do with a little merriment.”
“True,” she replied, and smiled at him. “I just want everything to go well, Killian. I want all of us to finally be happy.”
“Please don’t worry, my love.”
Privately, Killian cared naught what any of them thought; his skin was thick enough to take whatever they might wish to dish out. But for Emma’s sake, he hoped that people would at least hear and acknowledge their announcement with some modicum of grace. He smiled grimly. What he would not tolerate was any rudeness or unkindness directed toward Emma. Anyone who berated her would have him to deal with, and it wouldn’t be pretty.
Storybrooke - One Day Earlier
The Jolly Roger sailed majestically into Storybrooke's little bay, a graceful shape silhouetted by the late afternoon sun. Dark clouds scudded across the sky, heralding a storm, and the wind was rising. As Killian docked the ship, he thought those shadows also seemed to be lingering over some of the well-wishers awaiting them on shore.
The three of them disembarked. Emma stood on the pier, one arm around their son, staring nervously at the small crowd that had gathered to meet them: Her parents, Regina, and a tall, brown haired man with a small boy in tow.
"Not much of a turn-out," Emma said to Killian in a low voice. "I don't see Neal or Gold, or for that matter, anyone else from the town. Wonder where they all are?"
"I don't know, beloved," Killian replied. "But I've heard that strange things have been happening in Storybrooke. Perhaps it would be prudent to keep a low profile until we learn more." He took her hand in his, and gave it a reassuring squeeze.
"Good idea," Emma agreed softly, as her parents rushed forward, and joyously embraced first her, then Henry. David shook hands with Killian, but Mary Margaret made a point of ignoring the pirate, one hand resting protectively over her belly. Emma sighed. While she loved her mother, such behavior irked her. Glancing down, she noticed Mary Margaret's very obvious, and very round, protruding stomach. She was definitely expecting, and by the looks of things, it wouldn’t be too long now.
Regina waved at the arrivals. With a grin, Henry raced toward her. "Mom!" he cried excitedly, then stared curiously at her companions.
Emma walked over to the little group. She greeted Regina with a hug, at the same time whispering something in the other woman's ear.
Regina’s head came up, her expression wondering, but she quickly smiled, then introduced Robin Hood and his young son. Turning to Henry, she said, "How about spending the night with me? Emma and your fath...uh...Hook are fine with that."
Henry beamed, and embracing Regina, asked hopefully, "Lasanga?"
"Of course," Regina said. "I know it's your favorite." Glancing at Robin Hood, she added softly, “Robin - Would you and Roland care to join us for supper tonight? About eight o’clock? It will be a nice opportunity for Henry to get to know you both.”
“We'll be there, Regina," the outlaw replied. "I’m always in the mood for your…um...cooking.” And the gaze he directed toward her promised a world of delights that were anything but culinary. Regina, blushing a little, reached out, and took Robin’s hand.
Mary Margaret put her arm around her daughter, and smiled. "Emma - why don't you and Henry come to our place for a little celebration? Nothing special, just drinks and some snacks - we can relax and play catch-up. After all, It's been a whole year since we last saw you." Her invitation, rather pointedly, did not include the pirate captain, or anyone else.
Sighing, Killian attempted to keep his expression neutral, while Regina rolled her eyes, and Henry and Robin pretended a sudden interest in the whitecaps foaming against the supports of the pier. Emma’s reaction was more visceral. She shook off her mother’s arm, her expression frosty. “Mary Margaret, David - I love you guys, but if Hook isn't welcome at your home, count me out. We're a couple - Deal with it!"
Her parents stared at her for a long moment. She could also feel the rest of the group, all suddenly grown very quiet, their attention focused totally on her.
Finally, David, always the gracious prince, murmured, "Understood." His glance shifted toward Killian, and he smiled. "As far as I'm concerned, the captain is always welcome at our home. Snow is just being a little over protective." He chuckled ruefully. "She is your mother, after all."
Killian thought that “over protective” was an understatement, but gave a little nod to the prince. "Thank you."
"But Emma," Mary Margaret sputtered. "This man is not worthy of you - He's committed all sorts of crimes! How can you even trust him, much less love him? He's a pirate!"
"Captain," Killian said wearily.
"What?" Mary Margaret snapped.
Emma took a deep breath, her lips set in a determined line. "Look, I'm only going to say this once - My heart and my home are with Killian." She slid a possessive arm around Killian’s waist, and tilted her chin to a belligerent angle. "He and I are the only ones who decide our lives. I love Killian. I always have, and I always will. That’s never going to change." With a challenging expression directed at her mother, she added, "I don't give a damn if he's a pirate - What of it? That's such a bigoted remark, Mary Margaret. We’ve all done things in the past that are better left unsaid, so I don't think anyone here should be throwing stones. I'll remind you that in Neverland, this particular pirate saved my father's life, and risked his own to bring Henry and me safely home, and to help save this damned town."
Killian smiled tenderly at his beloved. Raising his voice, so that everyone on the pier could hear him, he declared, "I love Swan - She is my life, my very soul. I'm not proud of some of the things I’ve done in my life. Though pirate I may be, I'm one who has been healed by Swan’s love, and who would willingly sacrifice everything for her, and for Henry. I made a vow to Swan to do all in my power to protect Storybrooke, and everyone in it. And I always keep my promises." His glance traveled from face to face. "When I say everyone, I mean, everyone - Friend and former foe, alike. This last year has been hard on all of us, and just like in Neverland, we have had to put aside our differences, and work together for the greater good. It hasn't been easy. Now that we are re-united, I implore you all to finally let go of any old lingering hatred and bitterness, as I have done."
"Please," Emma pleaded. "For everyone's sake, listen to Killian. He's right, it's time we all moved on." She smiled hopefully. “Anyway, while we appreciate that you guys all came down here today, Killian and I have been through a lot - We need a little privacy. We'll spend the night on the Jolly Roger. And Henry will be staying with Regina - They have a lot of catching up to do."
"Beloved, it will be okay," Killian commented sotto voce to Emma, and to the group, said, "Everyone - Tomorrow morning - Please meet us at the town hall at ten o'clock, and we'll discuss the situation regarding the Witch, and also strategy for the defense of our community. Suggestions and input are welcome."
"Please, Emma, come home with us tonight," Mary Margaret cut in.
"Snow..." David shot a warning glance to his spouse, and shook his head. Turning to his daughter, he said gently, "Tomorrow is fine. Get some rest, sweetheart. We'll see you then."
"We'll be over in the morning to pick up Swan's things," the pirate ventured in a conciliatory tone.
There was a distinctly rebellious gleam in Emma's eyes, as she suddenly blurted, "Killian and I are engaged!"
Her handsome fiancé, while admittedly startled, flashed a pleased grin. "Aye, that we are. Swan has made me the happiest of men, and agreed to be my wife." Indeed, she had accepted his marriage proposal eleven long years ago. He was thankful that her feelings toward him had not changed. Ah, my darling, you were never shy when it came to our love!
This little bombshell was greeted with dead silence.
Regina was first to break the ice. With a wide and very genuine smile, she stepped forward and hugged them both. “Congratulations, you two! I suspected as much – and - I’m very happy for you!”
“Thank you, Regina,” Emma said gratefully.
Killian inclined his head. "My thanks also."
"True love is always to be treasured," Regina murmured. Eyes sparkling, she glanced at her outlaw companion, who winked back at her.
“Tomorrow evening," Emma said, "We would appreciate it if all of you would please drop by for drinks and hors d'oeuvres, here at the Jolly Roger. Hook and I have something to tell you.”
"There's more?" Mary Margaret muttered under her breath, while Regina and Robin Hood, still holding hands, promised to attend.
The only one who was unsurprised was Henry, as he already knew what his parents were planning to discuss. He tilted his head, and eying the others, wondered what their reactions tomorrow night would be.
"That works for us," David said. "Well, I guess congratulations are in order." He clapped Killian on the back, and embraced his daughter, while Mary Margaret, arms folded tightly over her chest, stared with decided hostility at the pirate captain. Her jaw was still sitting somewhere on the dock.
And just wait until they hear the rest of our news, Killian thought. He smiled sardonically.