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Night Music

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Emma shivered lightly as she stepped out onto the deck of the Jolly Roger. The sea breeze at night was chilly, despite the humid waters of Neverland surrounding them. The cries of the Lost Ones echoing across the ocean had driven her from her bunk, but now that she was abovedecks, it was another sound that caught her ears.

   I dreamed a dream the other night
   Nev’land, Nev’land away me Swan
   My love she came, dressed all in white
   Nev’land away

The song was low, barely carrying over the sound of the ocean and the weeping children, but she’d recognise that lilting voice anywhere. Carefully she looked around the deck, hoping to spot him before he saw her. She much preferred his music to that of the Lost Ones and she feared he would stop if he knew anyone was listening.

   I dreamed my love came in my sleep
   Nev’land, Nev’land away me Swan
   Her cheeks were wet, her eyes did weep
   Nev’land away

She didn’t see him at first but then, there! Movement from the front - the bow, she reminded herself - and she inched her way to the left - port - in order to see around the masts. Sure enough, seated beneath the foremast mending rope, was Hook. He seemed to not even be aware of what his hands were doing, staring out at the sea as he sang his haunting melody.

   She came to me at my bedside
   Nev’land, Nev’land away me Swan
   All dressed in white, like some fair bride
   Nev’land away

Entranced, she leaned against the larboard rail. The chill of the night fell away as his voice washed over her, and she wondered briefly if he did this every night. Unbidden, she recalled watching Mutiny on the Bounty once in a seedy motel room she and Neal had conned their way into. It made her curious if, back when the Jolly had had a full crew, they had called shanties across her decks with much more cheer than their Captain was showing now.

   And bravely in her bosom fair
   Nev’land, Nev’land away me Swan
   Her red, red rose, my love did wear
   Nev’land away

His pitch rose ever so slightly, covering her faint sigh at the melancholy turn the song had taken. She shivered again, not from the cold this time, and hugged her arms to her chest to ward off the raw longing in his voice. She took a closer look, eyes bright as they raked over him. Slightly breathless, she realised that the man before her, throat bare as he stared up at the stars, simply couldn’t be the fearsome Captain Hook. She swallowed hard at the thought of seeing just how broken a man Killian Jones really was.

   She made no sound, no word she said
   Nev’land, Nev’land away me Swan
   And then I knew my love was dead
   Nev’land away

Killian’s voice cracked painfully over the last verse and Emma found herself stifling a sob of her own. She knew he’d heard her by the tilt of his head but his only acknowledgement was the brief glint of blue over his shoulder. Instead of stopping as she’d feared, he finished out the shanty as he coiled the rope neatly beside him, eyes back on the deep blue line of the horizon.

   Then I awoke to hear the cry
   Nev’land, Nev’land away me Swan
   Oh watch on deck, oh watch, ahoy
   Nev’land away

She shuffled forward as his voice faded into the night. She missed it immediately as the sobs of the Lost Ones once again rang in her ears. Slowly, almost afraid to break the spell his singing had cast, she lowered herself to the deck beside him.

“That was beautiful,” she murmured.

“I find it helps to drown them out,” Killian replied, voice rough with emotion and lack of sleep.

She nodded, drawing her knees up and wrapping her arms about them tightly. “I couldn’t… while you were singing, it was as if they didn’t exist.”

He eyed her solemnly. “Would you like me to sing another?”

Her lips twisted into a small smile, broken and aching at the edges. “Are they all as sad as that one?”

Killian gave a soft, rusty chuckle, fishing out his flask and shaking it at her teasingly. “Unfortunately, love, all we sailors know is drink and death. There are precious few songs that touch on neither.”

“Oh,” she sighed, shifting her gaze to the dark island looming before them.

He watched her a moment longer before standing abruptly. She looked up, startled at the sudden movement and the sight of his hand thrust out between them. “Well, I do know one, but…”

“What?” She questioned, even as she placed her hand in his and let him haul her up. His smile was bright as he caught her around her waist with his left arm and pulled her close.

“But you’ll have to dance with me if I sing it for you.”

“I can’t dance,” she protested, pulling away.

“Everyone can dance on the sea, love,” he teased even as his expression shuttered at her refusal.

Something clenched in her chest to see the light die in his eyes and before she could think about it further she’d stepped back into the circle of his arms. “As long as you don’t tell anyone how bad I am at it, I suppose,” she muttered with a mock scowl.

“Wouldn’t dream of it, love,” he murmured. “Now then, this one starts with ‘Come all you young saviors--’”

“It doesn’t,” she interrupted with a laugh, hitting his shoulder lightly with her free hand.

Killian raised his eyebrow with exaggerated haughtiness. “And just who’s the pirate here, lass? I think I know how the tune goes.”

“Alright, alright,” she grumbled, unable to stop the twitch of her lips.

He grinned, wide and free, and her breath caught to see how young he looked in that moment. Shifting his grip, he began to twirl her around the deck, seemingly unconcerned with the way she stumbled after him. His voice again rang soft and clear through the night and she couldn’t tear her gaze away.

   Come all you young saviors and listen to me
   I’ll tell ye a tale of the fish in the sea
   And it's windy weather, gels, stormy weather, gels,
   When the wind blows, we're all together, gels;
   Blow ye winds westerly, blow ye winds, blow,
   Jolly sou'wester, gels, steady she goes

Emma gasped, eyes wide as he spun her out expertly beneath the staysails and she had to concentrate on not tripping over her own feet on her way back into his arms.

   Up jumps the eel with his slippery tail,
   Climbs up aloft and reefs the topsail,
   And it's windy weather, gels, stormy weather, gels,
   When the wind blows, we're all together, gels;
   Blow ye winds westerly, blow ye winds, blow,
    Jolly sou'wester, gels, steady she goes

Killian shot her a wink as they wove around the main mast without missing a beat. His voice was as warm as his rum as he sang to her in the dark.

   Then up jumps the shark with his nine rows of teeth
   Saying, 'You eat the dough boys, and I'll eat the beef!'
   And it's windy weather, gels, stormy weather, gels,
   When the wind blows, we're all together, gels;
   Blow ye winds westerly, blow ye winds, blow,
   Jolly sou'wester, gels, steady she goes

He guided her effortlessly up the aftcastle stairs, never breaking stride. If she had ever harboured doubts that he knew the Jolly as intimately as a lover, they were dispelled in that moment.

   Up jumps the whale, the largest of all,
   'If you want any wind, well, I'll blow ye’s a squall!'
   And it's windy weather, gels, stormy weather, gels,
   When the wind blows, we're all together, gels;
   Blow ye winds westerly, blow ye winds, blow,
   Jolly sou'wester, gels, steady she goes

She laughed breathlessly as she sang along to the chorus, trying to ignore how it turned the look in his eyes to something close to wonder. He dipped his head close to sing the last verse in her ear.

   Up jumps the m’maid, the queen of the sea,
   Saying, 'All other fishes, now you follow me!'
   And it's windy weather, gels, stormy weather, gels,
   When the wind blows, we're all together, gels;
   Blow ye winds westerly, blow ye winds, blow,
   Jolly sou'wester, gels, steady she goes

The chorus came to a close and they slowed to a gentle sway that matched the swell of the sea beneath them. Emma still had a faint smile on her face and, as the melody fell away, she could see him drinking in her expression avidly. It was only when the last echoes died that she noticed something else as well: the Lost Ones no longer cried in the distance.

He seemed to sense her pulling away and let her go with a little bow. “I’ve another ready for when we rescue the boy. Quite fitting, I think, called Homeward Bound. For now, you’d best get some sleep.”

Emma stared at him, shaken by the absolute faith he had that they would find her son, but nodded at his directive all the same. Still, she hovered beside the helm for a moment longer, worrying her lip in her teeth. A brief, furious debate in her head ended with her stepping close and planting a chaste kiss on his stubbled cheek. “Thank you… Killian.”

She turned away before she could see the look that broke over his face but she firmly ordered her heart to stop its hammering at the fondness in his answering, “Anytime, lass.”

The last she heard as she slipped back below decks to her berth was his warm, lilting voice beginning anew, singing the ship to sleep.

   Come loose every sail to the breeze,
   The course of my vessel improve;
   I've done with the toils of the seas,
   Ye sailors, I'm bound to my love...