Work Header

Captain Swan.

Chapter Text

"Absolutely not!"

"But mother!"

"Enough! Regina I forbid it entirely!" Cora shouted, standing from her seat at the table.

"But mother how am I ever going to learn about anything going on in my future kingdom if I'm not allowed to explore it?" Regina argued.

"I haven't stepped a foot outside this kingdom and I rule just fine." Cora shot back. Regina resisted the urge to roll her eyes.

"But mother I'm not like you, I'm not happy just being told things! I want to see and hear them! The lord gave me my eyes and ears for a reason!" Regina tried to talk sense to her mother.

"Yes, so you could listen to your mother. Now enough. I'll have no more of this 'setting sail with the navy' business." Cora said.

"Mother it's just an expedition, what's the worst that could happen?" Regina asked.

"Pirates!" Cora cried.

"Oh come on." Regina did roll her eyes this time. "That's just fairy tale stories used to scare children."

"Regina I am not joking here, we've had reports that those waters are filled with pirates trying to take over land as well as sea!" Cora insisted. "That's why I'm setting out the expedition, to see what the damage is."

"Isn't your navy one of the best? I should be perfectly safe in their hands." Regina reasoned.

"No." Cora said curtly. "Now go to your room, and I refuse to hear this nonsense again!"

Regina huffed and left the dining hall quickly, going to her chambers and slamming the door angrily. She sighed and went over to the window, resting her elbow on the window sill and her cheek on her fist. Out in the view she could see the docks and the Galleon, the crew of it moving around and preparing everything. They would set off first thing in the morning-she sighed-without her.

Suddenly she got a plan in her mind. She was determined to get on the ship not matter what so she went to her wardrobe and found the outfit she kept hidden in the back. A pair of leather pants, a simple shirt and a leather vest. She pulled her hair in in a bun and put on a hat she'd kept there as well. Unless anyone knew her they would think her one of the young boys they hired to help on the ship. Thankfully, her mother kept her so far away from the navy boys that no one who would be on that ship would know her. She pulled on her knee high leather boots and moved again to her closet, where she kept a long length of rope. Safe to say, she'd planned this a long time ago, she knew her mother would say no, but she figured she'd give it a shot anyway.

She tied the end of the rope to the leg of her heavy writing desk. Solid mahogany, there was no way it would move under her weight, she wasn't exactly the heaviest person anyway.

She climbed down the rope as quickly as she could, jumping down and hiding in a bush out of sight of a couple of guards that were patrolling the castle grounds. Once they had passed, she quietly snuck out of the bush and down towards the docks. Once she had reached the ship in near pitch darkness, she picked up a random small keg (she wasn't sure what it was filled with, but it was on the pile she saw the other men carry into the ship) and followed one of the crew men down to the hold. She waited till he was gone, fiddling around with some rope and pretending she was making sure it was tight enough, before she found an empty barrel and crawled inside, making herself as comfortable as possible in the cramped space. She'd just sit out here for as long as she could. She didn't particularly have a plan for what happened if she were found, but her heart was racing all too much for herself to think clearly at the moment. She'd made it this far, all she had to do now was wait, and hope her mother didn't decide to try and talk to her before the ship set sail in the morning.

A crowd was gathered around the dock, the queen included. They were all there to see the sailors off. No one questioned why the princess wasn't there, Cora included. She figured Regina was still upset about their conversation that night and was holing herself up in her room. It suited Cora fine, she didn't have to worry about keeping her daughter in line.

Ambassador French walked up the pier, his daughter Belle in tow, everyone cheering as he waved to the people around him. He kept a bright smile on his face, despite his nerves. Belle was just excited.

"Gosh dad look at the ship! It's so huge." She beamed.

"It's a Galleon dear, one of our best." Maurice said. Belle was about to walk on ahead of him because she was anxious to set out to sea for the first time. "Slow down dear."

"Oh come on dad! I'd be excited if I were in your position, what's wrong with you?" she asked.

"I'm just a little anxious…the place we're going…it's…" he sighed.

"Infested with pirates? Come on." She rolled her eyes. "I doubt it's as bad as they say, besides we have a good crew. Don't you always speak highly of captain Gaston?"

"I do…and he speaks highly of you." Her father gave her a pointed look and she rolled her eyes again.

"I'm not interested." She said.

"It's only a matter of time before we have to decide who will be your husband my dear, and Gaston is-"

"A pompous-"

"Ambassador!" the queen interrupted.

"Your majesty." Maurice bowed, Belle curtsying politely.

"And young Belle, it's so lovely to see you. Here to see your father off?" Cora asked.

"Uhm…Actually…" The younger girl was about to say.

"Your majesty, I hope you understand, what with well, Belle being my heir and all. I thought it would be good for her to see the inner workings of things herself." Maurice began to explain. "She asked if she could join our expedition and I allowed her…I hope it's no problem with you. She'll be under my strict supervision of course."

"Of course Ambassador, it's no trouble at all." Cora waved him off and smiled at the younger brunette. "I hope you enjoy yourself dear. But do be careful, the both of you."

"I will Ma'am. Thank you." Belle smiled at the queen.

"Ambassador!" The captain called up from the ship.

"Oh boy." Belle muttered.

"Captain Gaston!" Maurice waved up to him. The Captain very showily grabbed a rope and swung down off the ship, nearly hitting the queen if she hadn't stepped out of the way and knocking off his hat in the process.

"Captain." The queen said slowly.

"Apologies your grace, I'm usually so smooth…I must have faltered in the sight of the beautiful Belle." He said with a smirk towards the young girl. Belle rolled her eyes.

"Well if you find yourself faltering captain, I would hold off on the stunts until you've recovered yourself." Belle responded. The queen laughed while Maurice and Gaston both turned red in the face.

"Right…well…" Gaston cleared his throat. "The ship is ready your grace, Ambassador. Only say the word and we will be off."

"Perhaps it is time." Cora nodded. "Are you ready Ambassador?"

"Yes, your majesty, ready as ever." Maurice said as he puffed out his chest. Belle rolled her eyes again. The man was terrified on the inside, but he wanted to look good in front of the queen, lest she think him a coward.

"Well then, right this way Ambassador, Belle." Gaston smiled at the two of them and directed them up the gang plank and onto the ship.

They boarded the ship and waved to the crowd as the dock crew began untying the ropes from the moorings. Once that was done captain Gaston stood at the helm, took hold of the wheel and shouted with all the force in his throat.

"Full sail men!"

He didn't realize Belle was right next to him and made her jump, and she had to fight off the urge to throw him into the harbor for it. But a minute later she was too awed at how beautiful the ship's sails - decked with the royal coat of arms - looked as they caught the wind beneath them and pulled the heavy wooden Galleon forward on the clear calm waters.

"Isn't it beautiful dad?" she sighed. Maurice smiled and nodded. Yes, he was fearful for having her here, he did not know what this journey had in store for them. But as long as he got to see that smile on his daughter's face, the Ambassador felt calmed.

"Yes, my dear, it sure is."

Beneath the deck, Regina tried to steady her breathing as her excitement gathered. She had heard Gaston's wail, and felt the ship move beneath her. Her adventure was beginning, she thought with a grin, she only wondered when she'd be able to get out of this damned barrel and see the open seas.

They had only been at sea for about an hour, perhaps more, Belle wasn't sure, she was far too enthralled by the view of the wide open seas and learning about all the inner workings of the ship. What she knew was that her water canteen was empty. After being shown where her cabin was, she quickly changed into more comfortable clothing, before she went up to the deck to look out onto the seas, where she met one of the crewmen who offered to show her around the ship. She enjoyed learning how the ropes work the sails and how it all worked in one grand harmony to make the giant wooden structure float on the water. She'd offered her water to the crewman after he'd worked up a sweat on one of the heavy ropes, and after she'd helped him coil a loose one, she decided to head below deck to re-fill the canteen. He'd told her they kept the drinking water below so it didn't heat up in the sun.

She smiled at him (to Gaston's annoyance) and went below deck, water canteen in hand, to re fill it. It took her some time to get settled from the bright sunlight to the dim lighting of the hold - lit only by sunlight that slipped through the cracks in the woodwork and spilled in from the windows. But eventually she was able to find the barrel sitting in the corner of the room.

She went up to it, her eyes still not fully adjusted, opened it, and dipped her canteen in. But she furrowed her brow when she didn't feel the water on her arm - nor on the canteen, which when she lifted it up, was no more full than when she lowered it. She blinked, her eyes finally adjusting to the low light, before looking into the barrel, and then letting out a yelp.

Regina jumped up and stood up - her lower half still in the barrel - as Belle recoiled backwards in shock. The younger brunette took a second to gawk at the princess, who for a moment she didn't recognize in her more common clothing.

"Regina?!" she asked, as if she still had trouble believing her princess, but also her best friend since childhood, was standing before her.

"Hi…" Regina said meekly.

"What are you doing in here? How long have you been in that barrel?" Belle asked, trying to wrap her head around the situation.

"Remember when I said I wanted to come with you on the trip?" Regina grinned innocently.

"Your mother said no, didn't she?" Belle deadpanned.

"Before I even had spoken half the sentence to her." Regina said, slumping her shoulders roughly, the movement causing the barrel to nearly tip before she held on to the sides and re-balanced it. "Help me out?"

Belle stood up straight and held her arm out to Regina, taking her hand and letting the princess support herself on her shoulder while she supported her waist. Between their combined strength Regina was able to lift herself out of the barrel and onto the solid ground of the ships floor.

With that done, Belle took one look at her friend and sighed.

"Do you have any idea what kind of trouble you'll be in when you get home?" she said plainly.

"Yep." Regina nodded. "But let's burn that bridge when we get to it, I wanna see the ship!" she said with a grin. Belle rolled her eyes.

"What are we going to tell my father?" Belle said.

"Oh, I'll just put some of my royal family charm on him, as always." Regina said with a wink before she headed towards the stairs to go to the deck. Belle rolled her eyes as she followed.

Chapter Text

"Princess! are you out of your mind?" Ambassador French demanded, red in the face.

"Even if I am, Ambassador, I am still your princess, you'd do well to watch your tone." Regina warned him. She was gentle and fair, unless you pissed her off, then all bets were off. Maurice French quickly reigned himself in, realising his mistake.

"My apologies your's just that...well...this is highly dangerous!" He said.

"Well I wouldn't be here if it was boring, now would I?" Regina rolled her eyes.

"We must turn back, Captain Gaston!" the Ambassador called.

"Roll up the sails, we're heading back to port!" Captain Gaston shouted to his men. But quick as she was, Regina climbed up next to him at the helm and took over.

"Belay that order! We'll keep our course." she shouted. The men stilled in their movements, looking between their beloved princess and their captain. Gaston gulped, looking to the Ambassador, who was at a loss for words.

"Y-y-your highness!" He said. "Please be reasonable, this expedition is far too dangerous for someone like you."

"And what do you mean by that, Ambassador?" she asked, her arms crossed, chin raised in defiance.

"W-well see...What I meant was...that is to say-"

"Could you perhaps try to mean that I have no place on this ship as a woman?" she asked.

"Of course not, your grace, I would never-"

"But you are." she cut him off again. Belle stepped up to her friend's side.

"Go easy on him before he has a heart attack." she advised. Regina smiled.

"My dear Ambassador, I know you to be a reasonable man." she began.

"Of course, your highness." he nodded, his chest puffing out.

"Then you'll understand why I am here." she said. "How can I hope to be a proper queen, and make proper decisions, if I am not allowed to see the kingdom I am to rule with my own two eyes?"

"Well...I suppose...yes I suppose that's true your highness." he said. "But still...I would feel much better if the queen-"

"The queen must never know." Regina said sternly. "That's a direct order."

And thus the Ambassador was thrown into a conundrum. To reveal the princess' location would be to defy a direct order. But to hide it would be to defy his sovereign queen.

"Your highness, the queen would want to know." he said.

"Did you receive orders to inform her of my location?" Regina asked.

", your grace." he said.

"Then shouldn't my direct order take precedence?" she asked.

"Of course, your highness." Ambassador French nodded.

"Good, then we're at an understanding. "You'll send no word to my mother."

"Yes your highness." He nodded. Regina then looked over the Helm to the crew.

"That order is extended to all of you." she called. "Any man that informs the queen of my location will be thrown to sea immediately."

"Regina!" Belle whispered.

"I know what I'm doing." Regina muttered back before speaking up again. "Captain Gaston, you'll see to it that the order is carried out. If you're found to break it yourself, you'll be stripped of your rank."

"Y-yes your highness!" the suddenly nervous captain saluted. Regina smirked at him.

"Have your men arrange suitable quarters for me captain." she said. The captain nodded and made a signal to his men as Regina, in full swagger, climbed down the stairs with Belle in tow.

"Can you do all that?" she asked.

"The question isn't whether or not I can, Belle, but whether or not they believe that I can, and the answer is yes, they do." she smirked. "Most power is an illusion dear, if you believe you have it, everyone will."

"You never cease to amaze me Regina." Belle shook her head.

"And I don't plan to." she smiled at her friend. "Now where can I find some food here? I haven't had breakfast yet."

 It had been two days at sea when Regina began to huff and complain to Belle.

"I thought sea travels would be a little more exciting." She said. Belle chuckled.

"You've heard far too many stories."

"Said the book worm." Regina teased.

"I might read fantasy, but my father tells me his stories when he's back, especially from the days he himself was a sea captain." Belle said. "Most of the excitement is when one arrives at their destination."

"Still, I thought there'd be more to do on the way there." Regina said. Belle rolled her eyes.

"Only if you're one of the men. They drink, they play cards, they tell stories which frankly I doubt anyone believes, but they tell them and even for that brief moment everyone believes it and they're kings of their own world." The younger girl said. "Gaston likes to say he was in a fight once where he fended off a bunch of pirates."

"Oh yeah?" Regina said. "How many?"

"Ten, no wait, twelve, no wait twenty!" Belle said, mocking the captain's voice from the fifth time she heard that story. Regina threw her head back and laughed, joined a moment later by Belle.

"Princess! Lady Belle!" they heard one of the crewmen call excitedly. As he knocked on their door.

"Come in!" Regina called. In the silhouette caused by the sun and the thin cloth screen of the door she could see the crewman taking off his hat before opening the door.

"Princess, Lady Belle, you must come to the deck…If you please that is." He fumbled. "It's just…dolphins! Have you ever seen one your grace? Majestic creatures, really, and they're everywhere."

"Oh!" Regina said as she got up. "Thank you sir! Come on Belle."

"Coming I'm coming!" Belle said as the girls followed the crewman out onto the deck where they could see Dolphins jumping in the water. Regina grinned excitedly as she went out to the banister to get a better look.

"Now now, Princess." Gaston said with a grin as he blocked the princess's way to the banister. "Don't get too close."

"Oh I'm sure you can defend me if twenty dolphins suddenly decide to attack." Regina rolled her eyes as she pushed his arm away and made her way to the banister to watch the dolphins. Leaving Gaston confused behind her.

"Oh aren't they beautiful father?" Belle said to Maurice as he came up next to them.

"Truly they are Belle." He smiled at her. "It's one of the joys of sea life, seeing nature's true beauties."

Belle smiled at him and turned her head to look back out onto the sea. The dolphins seemed to recede as something came up over the horizon.

"Is that a whale?" Belle asked.

"Too big." Regina said as she squinted her eyes. "It's a ship!"

"Captain Gaston!" Maurice called. "Ship-ahoy, Starboard! What colours?"

"Colours?" Regina asked Belle.

"Flag colours, to see where the ship comes from." The younger girl explained.

"Ah." Regina nodded.

"Sir!" Gaston cried in almost a panic. "No colours sir!"

Regina made a face as Belle looked worried.

"What does that mean?" Regina asked.

"Pirates." Belle said softly.

"Pirates!" One of the crewmen called out in a panic.

"Men remain calm, ready the cannons and guns, we'll see if they'll leave us be, we shall not strike first." Maurice ordered.

"Sir they're pirates!" Gaston said. "We should set them aflame and let their ashes flow to the bottom of the sea."

"My good Captain, we are here to try to deal with this sort of people. Violence will only bring violence." Maurice advised.

"Sir the only was to deal with pirates is violence." Gaston said.

"Belay that, we will only use it as a counter measure." Maurice ordered.

"As you wish sir." Gaston said.

"Take the helm Captain." Maurice said. "Be ready to meet them."

"This is exciting." Regina said.

"Regina pirates are dangerous, maybe we should go inside." Belle said.

"You can go if you wish dear, but I snuck aboard this ship to see some action, and that's what I will do." Regina said with a smile on her face.

"No if you're staying so am I." Belle said.

"Very well then."

They held back and out of the men's way as the crew ran about the ship, however they were still on deck and could see all that was happening. The ship that was slowly approaching them was just as large as theirs was, and for a moment Regina shuddered to think how they'd gotten a hold of it. From the distance, she could see the crew of the pirate ship running around, probably following the orders of their captain. She couldn't see the man clearly, but she saw a slim figure wearing a long coat that flapped about in the wind and wearing a hat at the helm. Even with no military colors, he certainly held himself in a way that resembled a sea captain.

Regina's attention was taken away from the mysterious figure by a shout. She looked up to the front of the ship to see a man go down. Shot by one of the swivel guns off the back of the ship…what did Belle call it while she was showing her around…poop deck? Regina shook her head, it didn't matter right now. The man who was shot staggered back, falling off the other side of the ship and into the ocean. The only thing that he left behind was a trail of blood.

"Cannons ready!" Gaston shouted.

"Captain!" another shout, and then the sound of rope cutting through the air and metal latching onto wood. Suddenly there was a rain of grappling hooks coming from the other ship.

"They're boarding the ship sir!" another man cried.

"Regina we have to get inside. Please." Belle said, tugging at her friends arm. Regina nodded and they were able to slip out of sight. Down the stairs into the lower deck.

"Princess, lady Belle!" the man who had called them earlier came up to them. "You can't stay here, too much gunfire and we're right in their aim. Go down below. Keep going to the pump room. Nothing of value there and they know it. I can't promise the ship won't go down but you'll be safe, if you're lucky you can sneak off in one of the sailboats."

"Thank you." Belle said.

"Godspeed." The man said.

"Be brave." Regina said. He smiled at her.

"The seas are no place for a coward, your grace. Now go. If I can I'll come get you. If not…gods be with you. You're both clever girls, you'll be alright." He nodded to them encouragingly.

Regina wanted to promise him a heroes funeral. She couldn't. She just grasped his hand tightly for a brief moment in thanks before she followed Belle down farther, into the very depths of the ship and into the pump room.

Regina would have loved to spend time exploring and wondering how the pump worked and what it did for the ship, she was sure Belle was an expert on it at this point. But she was too preoccupied trying not to jump at every slam, shout, or gunshot that she heard.

"They're getting slaughtered up there." She said. Belle looked up at her from where she was sitting with her knees at her chin.

"Regina…my father." She said fearfully. Regina sighed, kneeling beside her best friend and pulling her into an embrace.

"He's the bravest of all of them, Belle, Gaston included. he's probably been through this already he doesn't need to look where he swings his sword." She tried to reassure the girl.

"He's still getting quite old. He's not as fit as he used to be." Belle said, burying her head into Regina's shoulders. "If I lose him…"

"You won't."

Regina had been so sure in her words, she suddenly felt guilty when she heard cheering from the top of the ship that certainly wasn't her men. She heard arguing still, but she couldn't be sure of anything at this point.

"Did you hear that?" Belle asked in a hushed tone.

"What?" Regina asked, quieting down and holding her erratic breath long enough to hear something akin to footsteps. "Be quiet…if they don't hear us…"

"Cap'n wants us to look everywhere" a man said. "Cargo's not extensive, but it's still good."

"Where's the water casks?" another, rougher voice asked. "Omph!"

"Ye daft? It's the same kinda ship, where d'you think they keep 'em?"

"Errrr…" A long pause. This would have been comedic had they not been in certain danger. "OH behind 'em long loggy things eh?"

"The pumps, ye daft git." The other man muttered. Regina and Belle's eyes met each other. Wide and fearful. The knob rattled against the chain Belle had used to lock the door with.

"Eh, get over 'ere a second." The first man said.

"Err, what?" the dumber man asked. "Eh what d'you think you're-"

A loud smash, followed by a long groan of pain. They had used the fatter one to ram the door open.

"Well well…" a man looked right at the two young girls. "Looks like we've got a couple stowaways!"

"We're not stowaways!" Regina said, mimicking an accent Belle had never heard before. "We're the swab boys."

Then it clicked to the younger girl. They were wearing sailing clothes and could definitely pass for swab boys. Belle almost sighed in relief. She was intelligent sure but in the face of an adversary, Regina was as witty as they come.

"Well cap'n's gonna love meetin' the two o' you." The man said, grabbing Regina by the arm pulling her towards him. He could have carried her easily but she complied, so he held her arms behind her back and lead her out of the room. Belle followed the princess' lead, praying to the gods they could talk their way out of trouble. Maybe they would just take the ship and it's goods and set them off on a longboat and let them sail home. Attacks like this only got to be known of because a crew had survived the long trip back home, miserable and cast off. But they had survived, or well, most of them did anyway.

Regina had her eyes shut when they got to the main deck, not shocked by the sunlight. She kept moving forward and blinked a little to see that they had tied all the naval crew's hands and lined them up, on their knees like pigs to the slaughter. They dropped her down beside them.

"Cap'n coming aboard!" a man shouted as they dropped Belle next to Regina. They kept their heads down. As bad as it was, it would get worse if the pirates found out who they were.

The figure Regina had seen earlier was a silhouette against the sunlight that shone behind him as he stood on the other ship still, the gangplank dropping with a loud thud onto their ship. He was certainly quite slim for a man, and Regina for a moment questioned his health.

He walked across, hands behind his back.

"Well, well." A voice that did not sound male spoke up. Perhaps he was young. Regina chanced a look, just a glance, and was stunned.

The captain was a woman.

Chapter Text

"Please, captain…" Maurice spoke up.

"She's no captain." Gaston spat in anger. "She's just a little girl, playing around at a man's game."

"Temper, temper." The slender blonde woman said. She took a few slow, sure steps till she stood in front of Gaston. "I'm not the one on my knees here."

"You will be when I'm done with you!" Gaston threatened. He was about to stand, but a pirate crewman stomped his boot on his back and dropped him back down on his knees.

"I'd be careful with your threats if I were you." The female captain said. She unsheathed her long cutlass, tapping the bottom of Gaston's chin with it so he was forced to look up at her. "I'm not above ridding the world of a man who thinks he has any power over me simply because of the differences in our britches, captain."

"You know of me then." Gaston smirked smugly.

"I have no idea who you are." The pirate captain said. "But your hat clearly says captain…I like it."

She plucked the hat off of him, taking her own cap off and dropping it onto the head of one of her crewmen, who suddenly smirked like she told him she loved him. She placed Gaston's much bigger, much more ostentatious hat on her head with a smile.

"Look at that, perfect fit." She said. "Thank you, captain…"

"Gaston." He spoke his own name like it meant anything. "Naval Captain of the Kingdom of Misthaven under the great queen Cora."

"Oh you fool." Maurice muttered under his breath.

"Oh, I'm sorry, did you say Misthaven?" The blonde became interested, Regina shuddered to think why.

"Yes." Gaston said.

"Shut up." Maurice said under his breath. Emma rolled her eyes.

"I hate to break up this lovers' quarrel." She said, looking to the ambassador. "But you are?"

"Ambassador French, Captain…"

"Swan." Emma smirked. "And what would an Ambassador of such a fine kingdom be doing in my waters?"

"Well, forgive me captain but these waters belong to her majesty queen Cora." Maurice corrected. "I am merely here in her name so that we may strike some kind of agreement with…well…with your kind."

"My kind?" Emma said, a smirk on her face. She paced around, twirling her sword around in her hands gracefully as she pretended to think about it. "Alright, well then, let's strike a deal…I'll spare your lives, and in return…"

Maurice gulped as she stabbed her sword into the wooden board right in front of him, dropping down to his level and giving him a dangerous look in the eyes.

"…You tell that hateful bitch you call her majesty to keep her perfectly manicured hands out of my waters. I answer to no queen." She stood, a smirk on her face. "Because in my waters, I'm the queen."

"Cora's not the only queen who's a bitch then." Belle muttered under her breath. Regina froze.


"I hear talking." Emma called out, stepping towards them and stopping right in front of Belle. "What's your name boy?"

"I uhm…" Belle gulped, clearing her throat, deepening her voice exaggeratedly. "Christopher."

"Is that so?" Emma said with a smirk. "And tell me…Christopher…"

She suddenly flicked her sword, not hitting a single hair on Belle's head, but flipping her hat off her head and exposing her long braid.

"What would someone be giving a boy's name to a girl for?" Emma asked. Belle gulped as she looked up at her in fear. "Your real name?"

"Belle." She said meekly.

"Beautiful name for a beautiful girl." Another female voice said. Regina looked up. Another woman, dressed almost as nicely as Captain Swan. The brunette with mystifying eyes looked up, stepping towards Emma just then. Emma smirked back at her before she regarded her hostages.

"Allow me to introduce First mate Lucas." She said. A ship run by women. Regina wasn't sure if she should be less worried, or more.

"So what would a girl like you be doing on a ship like this?" Ruby asked with a smirk towards Belle.

"I could ask you the same thing." Belle said haughtily. Ruby cackled before she looked towards Emma.

"I like her." She said with a slight nod.

"Well that settles it then. Men." Emma snapped her fingers and two men made a grab for Belle, picking her up and dragging her towards the gang plank.

"No please, that's my daughter!" Maurice cried.

"Oh, well then you'll pay a pretty sum for her return." Emma said. "We'll keep her safe till then…Mostly."

"Stop, it's not her you want it's me." Regina shouted out as she stood.

"And who are you, lad?" Emma asked.

"I'm no lad." Regina shook off her own hat angrily, her wild brown eyes meeting Emma's bright green. "I'm the princess. Queen Cora is my mother."

Silence over the entire ship except for the sound of water slapping wood, ropes creaking against their strain. Emma smirked.

"I'd say you were nothing but a liar." Emma said before she roughly cupped Regina's chin. "But you're the spitting image of your mother."

Regina shook her off and Emma chuckled before she snapped her fingers again. Another two men came and grabbed her, taking her next to Belle.

"Release her." Regina nodded towards her friend.

"Now why would I do that?" Emma asked.

"Because you have me." Regina said. Emma laughed. Laughed.

"Let's see, your highness, how well you know your numbers." Emma said condescendingly. "If I have two valuable girls in my possession…how much more worth would they be than one?"

Regina gulped.

"The answer, your ever graceful highness." Emma said, stepping back into her space. "Is double…take them back to the ship."

"No, please!" Maurice cried again. Emma stood in front of him with a grin on her face.

"Your queen wanted a deal, ambassador, here it is." Emma said, her crew already going back towards their ship, carrying as much cargo as they could. "Tell her Captain Swan has her daughter. And yours. And in return, I want my entire crew's weight in gold. Careful now, we have a fat one."

"Hey." The dumb crewman from earlier complained. The captain rounded on him.

"Back to the ship you dog." Emma barked. He scurried away, the chest he was carrying jostling in his speed. She turned back to Maurice. "In the meantime, your girl and your beloved princess belong to me."

She sheathed her sword and walked off, stepping onto the gangplank.

"You won't get away with this you bitch!" Gaston shouted

"Tell Cora the queen of the seas sends her regards." Emma called back, turning as soon as she stepped back onto her own ship's deck to wave at the men who were still bound and left stranded on a ship.

Chapter Text

“Watch those crates, you moron!” Ruby shouted at a man who nearly tripped and broke a heavy box.

“Good haul today, men.” Emma called as she made her way to the helm. “We’ll be swimming in gold in no time.”

“In the mean time…” A man with a scraggly beard and maybe five teeth got too close to Regina and made her cringe. “We’ll have some fun with our bountiful loot.”

“Hold there.” Emma stopped him as he pushed the princess towards the stairs to the lower deck. He stopped in his tracks, his hands still on the younger girl’s shoulders. “She goes to my quarters. The other to Ruby’s.”

“But captain!” the man whined. “We haven’t had a woman in ages!”

Emma turned to the man, a dangerous glare in her eyes as she gripped him roughly from his scraggly beard, pulling him up and lifting his lanky body off the deck by a couple of inches, her face too close to his for his own comfort.

“Argue with me again, bug, and the only touch you’ll know will be the teeth of a sea dog before it eats you whole.” She nearly spit into his face as she spoke. “Now do as I say, or your next move will be your last.”

“Y-y-yes sir…sorry sir…won’t happen again sir…” he physically shuddered before her as she let him go. He meekly stepped towards Regina, turning her around and leading her to the elegant double doors directly below the helm, elegant carvings atop the doors read Captain’s Quarters. The last thing she saw before disappearing into the dim room was Belle looking back at her as she glanced over her shoulder towards her best friend.

“Cap’n!” a man called happily. Emma looked over as he opened a crate. Bottles of rum. She smirked. “There’s also ten casks of the stuff sir!”

“We drink our fill tonight lads!” Emma called. The men cheered like animals. “Tie that cargo down boys, we’ll be setting sail back home!”


It had been three hours before she heard footsteps coming towards the door of the room she was stuck in. Regina had her hands bound, and she couldn’t move. She was sitting on the edge of the large bed and had taken in the room quite well in the time she had been in there. It was lavish enough for a captain, that was for sure. There was a model of the very ship they sailed on standing on top of a small cabinet which, she could see through the latticed doors held a set of crystal decanters. Regina didn’t doubt for a moment what they held, given that apparently the stereotype that pirates loved rum was very true. The center of the room held a large round table with a map opened up on it, a compass and a divider as well as a set of other drawing tools sitting on top of it. There were chairs around the table and a few markers that she could only compare to the ones she’d seen in the armory of her palace the few times she was able to get away from her mother. She sighed. Getting away from her mother was exactly how she got into this mess. She wondered for a moment if Cora had been right.

She didn’t have a lot of time to think on that though, as soon the door was unlatching and the blonde captain of the ship was stepping inside. Her eyes landed on the princess for a moment before she stepped inside and closed the door behind her. She took off her long red coat that looked far too military, and far too big on her unless it was fastened by the leather belt around her waist and the golden laces that ran up and down it’s front. She dropped the coat on the back of a chair, lifting up the lacy sleeves of her shirt up to her elbows. Regina didn’t know what she was playing at. She knew the pirate was keeping her hostage for gold, but why did she want to keep her in her private quarters. She gulped for a moment as a terrifying thought came to her mind.

“You’re crazy if you think my mother will give up that amount of gold without a fight.” She dared to say. Emma raised a brow at her, looking her up and down before she stepped up to her. She reached down into her boot and revealed a dagger. Regina gritted her teeth and shut her eyes, but the only thing she felt was the tug at the ropes binding her hands, and then her hands were free.

“Forgive my men, your highness, they don’t know how to act around royalty.” The captain said, tossing away the bits of ruined rope as she sheathed her dagger. “As for what you think of my sanity, well, you wouldn’t be the first to question it. And I hardly doubt you’ll be the last.”

“What do you want with me?” Regina asked.

“Gold.” Emma answered easily.

“You could get that and still let your men have at me.” Regina said. Emma raised a brow at her. She reached into her coat pocket and pulled out a brown glass bottle. In one quick move, she turned a chair to face Regina, dropping down onto it and resting her elbows on her knees with a relieved sigh. She pulled the cork of the bottle out with her teeth and spat it out before she took a long swig of the liquid inside, staring Regina in the eyes as she swallowed.

“Well?” Regina said expectantly. Emma just stared at her, smirking for a moment before she took another drink.

“Let me ask you something, your highness.” Emma said. “What do you think my men would have done to you if I let them have you?”

“They…” Regina gulped. She didn’t want to say it because even the thought of it disgusted her.

“Exactly.” Emma said. “And you don’t seem the type to not fight them off. And I doubt the queen will give away good gold for damaged goods.”

“How honorable.” Regina narrowed her eyes at her accusingly.

“I may be a pirate, but I live by a code.” Emma said, taking another swig before offering the bottle to Regina, who sneered at her and waved her off. “Your loss.”

“I’m sure.” Regina rolled her eyes. “So I’m your personal prisoner then?”

“Make yourself at home, princess.” Emma said with a smirk as she got up.

“You’re a local.” Regina said suddenly. Emma stopped, her boots squeaking against the wood of the floor as she halted and turned back to her.

“What?” she asked.

“Misthaven…you’re from there.” The princess elaborated. “Born there, raised too by the looks of it.”

“I was raised by the seas, lass.” Emma said. “But yes, I was born in your kingdom. Don’t expect me to bow.”

“I never did.” Regina said. “As for your family…I’d say…noble.”

“You’re a quick one aren’t you?” Emma smirked at her. “What gave me away?”

“Well, you know what my mother looks like.” Regina said. “Only people who know that are the select few…the elite…The noble. The people who have had the pleasure of meeting with the queen personally.”

“Pleasure’s not what I would call it, princess.” Emma took another swig.

“So who are you then, captain?” Regina asked. “Daughter of a high naval officer? And admiral perhaps.”

Emma locked her jaw, gritting her teeth. Regina silenced herself. There was a line, she feared crossing it, even if she refused to let Emma know that.

“You wanna know who I am, lass?” Emma said, stepping forward and leaning too close to Regina for the princess’ comfort. “I am Captain Emma Swan, queen of the seas your mother thinks she owns. And until she pays the ransom I demand, I’m your master, so I would watch myself if I were you. My kindness only goes so far.”

Emma stepped back and moved to leave.

“Can I ask one thing?” Regina said quickly. Emma stopped and looked back at her expectantly. “My friend…Belle…where is she?”

“My first mate has taken charge of her.” Emma said.

“The other woman aboard this ship.” Regina noted. Emma nodded. “And is she as…accommodating as your kind self?”

“She’ll keep the men off her if that’s what you’re asking.” Emma said.

“Just like you’re doing with me?” Regina asked again.

“You’ve gone over your question limit princess.” Emma said, snatching her coat and slipping it back on. “Don’t worry, we’ll have plenty of time to chit chat tonight before bed.”

“I…uhm…” Regina gulped.

“They still sleep in Misthaven, do they not?” Emma asked.

“Yes…” Regina answered.

“Good, can’t have you returned to the queen exhausted.” Emma said as she left the room, closing the door behind her and locking it with a key. Perfect, Regina sighed, she was stuck here.

She wondered if Emma locked her door to lock her in or to keep others out.

Emma huffed as she moved to take the helm from Ruby.

“That was fast.” Ruby smirked at the taller woman.

“Please.” Emma rolled her eyes. “If I went in there with that kind of intention, I lost the urge as soon as she opened her mouth.”

“So why did you let her?” Ruby raised a brow.

“Ruby.” Emma warned. The brunette raised her hands in innocence.

“I won’t question your intentions.” She said. “You just seemed interested is all.”

“All I’m interested in is enough gold to bury myself in should I see fit to do so.” Emma said. “And for Cora to leave us the hell alone.”

“Hah. After we captured her daughter and left her men to die at sea?” Ruby shook her head. “Best prepare yourself for the locker, Captain, you’ll see that before you ever see yourself free from Cora’s hunt.”

“We’ll see about that. But for now, let’s just get back to the cape.” Emma said.

“Well we’re on course. Shouldn’t be more than a couple of days, the way the weather’s been.” Ruby noted.

“Let’s hope it stays that way.” Emma said, pulling out her bottle of rum and taking a swig before passing it off to her first mate.

“Relax, captain, your tension’s showing.” Ruby said as she took a drink. “Would have thought a victory like this would leave you happier.”

“I’ll be happy when we trade off the girls for the gold.” Emma said.

“Something happen in there you’re not telling me about?” Ruby asked.

“Let’s just say I showed the princess a hand I probably shouldn’t have.” Emma sighed. “Nothing to worry about, though.”

“Let’s hope not.” Ruby said.

The day droned on, but night came at last. And while the men seemed to be sitting around a fire enclosed in a metal cauldron and roasting some of the meat they had acquired through their earlier haul. They drank, ate and sang sea shanties Regina had never heard. She would have been interested in listening properly too, but Emma was coming back into the room.

“I’d think you’d want to stay with your men.” Regina said. Emma looked towards her to see her laying back on the bed. “Too merry for you?”

“I’m no stranger to merry moments, lass.” Emma said. “But it’s been a long day, besides, I have company.”

Regina sat up to see that Emma was holding a plate. The blonde put it down on the table along with a tin cup.

“Rum doesn’t seem to be your thing, so I got you some water from the casks below.” Emma said. “You must be hungry.”

She was, she realised as she smelled the cooked meat. At least she didn’t have to question it’s quality. She would have been eating the same thing had she still been on the Naval ship. She glanced at the blonde before she moved from the bed to the table, sitting down and trying not to gorge herself on the meal in front of her. She doubted Emma would care either way.

The pirate captain sat next to her and watched her eat. The moment the salty meat came in contact with her tongue, Regina realised how dreadfully thirsty she was. The cup before her was full, but even then it didn’t last long. She tried pacing herself with it, but the moment the cool water touched her lips she was a goner, drinking it down in one go in a fashion that would have made her mother cringe and yell at her, but made the captain next to her smirk. A moment later, Emma reached to the latticed cabinet, opening one of the doors and pulling out a decanter. She poured the dark liquid into Regina’s cup. Regina looked at her for a moment before she lifted the cup experimentally to her lips and tasted it.

“Wine?” Regina asked.

“I keep any I find.” Emma shrugged. “No man can live on rum alone.”

“You’re no man.” Regina pointed out. Emma rolled her eyes.

“You know what I mean.” She said. Regina nodded as she bit into the piece of bread in her plate. Fresh, or as fresh as it can be in the middle of the ocean.

“Why all this, then?” Regina asked, gesturing towards the plate.

“Have to feed you if I want you alive, don’t I?” Emma asked. Regina shrugged.

“I suppose.” She said.

“Then there you are.” Emma said.

“Though I doubt your intentions are as simple as you say.” Regina said. Emma rolled her eyes again.

“You read far too many tales, lass.” Emma said.

“I’m not the bookworm, Belle is.” Regina said.

“Your friend?” Emma asked.

“Yes.” Regina nodded. “Me…I just know people I suppose.”

“You suppose.” Emma nodded. “Suppose you’re wrong.”

“About people?” Regina asked. “I hardly ever am.”

“Doesn’t mean never though, does it?” Emma asked with a quirk of her brow. Regina raised one of her own and Emma smirked at her again. “Alright then, I’ll humor you, your highness. What do you think my true intentions are?”

“Well you’re a woman at sea, you saw opportunity for gold when you saw me and my friend, something you would have never even considered with any of the men on that ship.”

“True enough.” Emma said.

“But…you’re still a woman, regardless of what you might like to call yourself…sir.” Regina poked.

“A Woman I am.” Emma nodded.

“You just set names for yourself that put you up on the men’s level.” Regina said. Emma looked at her and Regina smirked. “You did say I was a quick one.”

“I’ll give you that.” Emma said. “Still doesn’t change my intentions.”

“You mean you didn’t keep me away from the men because they’re actions towards women disgust you?” Regina asked. Emma rolled her eyes and chuckled.

“You think I kept you from them as a form of what, solidarity?” she asked. “Please, like I care what they do. As long as they aren’t stupid enough to get themselves killed and show up sober in the morning to work on deck, they can do what the hell they please.”

“Even if who they’re doing it with is asking them not to?” Regina asked outright. Emma gritted her teeth. “You must have some experience-”

“Enough.” Emma said sternly. “You go too far, princess. Finish your dinner.”

“That’s a yes then.” Regina muttered. Emma kicked the chair out from under herself as she stood abruptly. She leaned over Regina, her stance dominant, one hand pressed to the table and another on the back of Regina’s chair, effectively trapping her in her sights. She was in her space again, her breath hitting Regina’s face.

“You want to know what happened, princess?” Emma said, clearly angry. “The first time a man put his filthy hands on me without my permission, I stuck blade right into his throat and stood over him as he bled to death.”

In one swoop, Emma pulled out her dagger and stabbed it into the table to drive her point home.

“Then when one of his mates tried to make a grab for me, I took his dead friend’s sword and stuck it right in his chest. Then I turned to the rest of the crew and I said ‘any one else feel like dying tonight?’ And they didn’t dare even speak, much less touch me. So no, I don’t have experience in that sort of thing. Because I’m not some princess, and I have no mercy for filth. I have no mercy at all. I’m a pirate. What you think you know about people doesn’t apply to me or anyone else on this ship. Now finish your god damned supper before you make me regret ever bringing you into this room.” She said, pulling away from the younger girl with a deep breath. “And do yourself a favour, stop asking questions.”

Chapter Text

After the captain had left her quarters again, Regina finished her supper and went to bed. She knew Emma would be coming back into the room to sleep herself, but by the time that happened, Regina had been fast asleep. The princess didn’t think she would sleep at all, but the bed was far more comfortable than she expected, and the exhaustion from what had happened that day had suddenly weighed down on her heavily. So the moment her head hit the pillow, she was out like a light.

She didn’t know how long Emma had been outside with the crew, or what time she came into the quarters and got into bed beside her. But when she stirred back to the waking world, she woke up facing the sleeping blonde. Regina was almost startled to see her laying so peacefully. The bed despite being made for two people was not exceptionally big, due to the small size of the room itself, and Emma was taking up quite a bit of space as she was laid out on her back, arms outstretched, one hanging off her side of the bed while another one, Regina realised, must have been tucked under her head. She blushed for a moment at the idea of being held by the blonde. But she shook the thought off, looking back at the sleeping captain’s face.

She was silent, the only evidence that she was even alive was the warmth emanating off her body, and the slow, steady rise and fall of her chest as she drew breath. Regina looked at her face, closer than she’d ever been to the blonde till now, and took the silent opportunity to examine her features. Days in the sun on open seas must have been the culprit to the freckles that decorated her fair face. She wondered what kept her from getting red and burnt under the hot sun, but from the way she held herself and her mannerisms, she must have spent years out at sea. So Regina could only chalk it up to her body simply becoming immune to the sun. She wondered if that were possible. Her lips seemed soft, or at least softer than maybe the captain would like to admit. It was only now that Regina examined her silently that she realised that, despite her masculine ways and clothing, the captain’s features were quite feminine. She wondered what she would look like, all dressed up like Regina always was in the palace. Beautiful, she’d imagine, for a woman who even when dressed as a man was, admittedly, quite stunning.

For a brief moment, Regina wondered what the captain’s lips tasted like…although the answer, she thought, could be seen sitting on the nightstand behind her in the form of a bottle of rum. Yes, Regina could smell the course liquor on the blonde’s breath, but for a moment it didn’t bother her as she chanced scooting just a hint closer to her.

The chatter outside got louder all of a sudden, and blonde eyelashes fluttered, a peak of emerald green looking right at her. Regina chanced a smile at her. But suddenly, the almost blissful silence was shattered by the sound of fighting outside. Regina moved out of the way just as Emma suddenly shot up out of bed, clearly angered at being disturbed. The yelling outside went on even as she stepped outside. Regina followed her, curious to see what the ruckus was all about.

“I’ll show you!” the fat dumb crewman was clearly upset, red in the face and holding up two fists. His friend, the one that had used him as a battering ram the day before was standing across from him, matching his pose and clearly waiting for an opening to strike. His cheek had a cut and was clearly bruising.

“What the fuck is going on?!” Emma roared her demand.

“He called me mother a pig!” the fat one said. Emma growled, suddenly striking the fat one with the back of her hand, surprising him and sending him tumbling to the deck.

“She is a pig!” Emma yelled before spitting on the wooden deck in anger. The thinner man was laughing at his friend’s degradation, but his face sobered and paled when the captain turned to him, her hand turning into a fist and colliding with his cheek so hard he went barreling towards the ground himself. “And yours was a bitch!”

She spat on the ground again in anger. “And I feel sorry for the both of them for having to put up with you lot! And if you ever wake me up like that again after a night of drinking I’ll hang you upside down from the bloody fucking crow’s nest till the blood rushes to your heads and spills out your fucking ears!”

“Don’t think that’s how it works cap’n…” the fat one said. But Emma slapped him again and he just whimpered in pain, holding his aching, red cheek.

Ruby came up to Emma, the blonde’s coat in hand. She held it open for the taller woman and helped Emma as she shrugged it on roughly.

“You.” Emma pointed to the fat one. “I want this deck swabbed till it fucking shines.”

“Yes Cap’n.” He said, trying to get off the ground without his weight tipping him over.

“And you.” Emma grabbed the thinner man from his shirt as he held his hands up to try and protect his face, whimpering in fear of another blow. “Go clean the cannons, and if I see a single speck of gunpowder anywhere it shouldn’t be, the next thing I fire out of ‘em will be your fucking head. Am I making myself clear?”

“Yes sir! Absolutely sir!” he whimpered. “I’m dreadfully sorry sir…”

“Save your apologies for the maker you sorry son of a bitch.” Emma dropped him on the floor again before she moved to the helm. Regina went back into the room quickly to pull on her her trousers, tucking her long shirt into it before she slipped on her boots and leather vest. She followed the captain out onto the helm.

“What are you doing here?” Emma asked, clearly still annoyed at her rude awakening.

“Even prisoners needs fresh air, captain.” She said.

“We’re on the open seas, princess.” Emma said grumpily. “There’s no such thing as stale air here. Go back inside, open a damned window if it’s fresh air you’ll be wanting.”

“Sunlight then.” Regina shot back. “Or perhaps just to enjoy the sights.”

“Sights? There’s nothing but sea and horizon for miles, girl.” Emma rolled her eyes.

“Something I don’t get to see very often from within the castle walls.” Regina argued. Emma huffed in annoyance.

“Fine, do what you want, see if I give a damn.” Emma said.

“Can I see Belle?” Regina chanced. Emma glanced over to Ruby, who shrugged and went back down the stairs and into her quarters. A few minutes later, she returned with Belle in tow, the younger brunette running off ahead of her keeper the minute she caught sight of her best friend. She engulfed her in a tight hug that nearly knocked Regina off her feet, but she held her just as tightly for just as long.

“You’re okay?” Regina asked.

“Yes.” Belle sighed. “One of the men tried to take me but…Ruby punched him.”

Regina raised a brow at the way Belle blushed. Emma glanced at her first mate, who smirked at her as she blew on her slightly bruised knuckles.

“Are you?” Belle asked Regina, who nodded.

“The captain’s been quite hospitable.” She said sarcastically. Emma just stared out onto the open sea, as if she were expecting something to come up out of the miles of nothing but water ahead of them.

“Did she…try to…” Belle trailed off quietly. Regina shook her head without hesitation.

“Wasn’t even in the room when I fell asleep.” She told her. “I think we’ll be okay.”

“I’m scared, Regina.” Belle said quietly.

“If you two wish to talk in private, go to my quarters.” Emma said. “Trying to keep a secret right behind my bloody ears is just ridiculous.”

“You’re just trying to get rid of us.” Regina crossed her arms. “What’s wrong, performance anxiety captain?”

“Careful now, princess.” Emma warned. Regina rolled her eyes, Belle raised a brow at the two of them. But Regina paid it no mind and nodded her head, leading her best friend to the captain’s quarters.

“Morning, your highness…” the fat pirate who was walloped by the captain earlier leered at her. He gave her an almost toothless grin and she cringed at him. “You sleep well? Cause if you need someone to keep you nice ‘n warm I-”

“Oy!” Emma called over the helm. “I hear talking and no swabbing, dog.”

“Yes sir!” he scampered away with his mop swabbing away and his tail between his legs. Regina rolled her eyes as she walked into the room, shutting the door when Belle stepped in.

“She’s in a mood.” Belle said as she looked around the room.

“She was just about to wake up when the fight broke out, also she stank of rum this morning so I think she’s hungover.” Regina said, dropping onto the edge of the still unmade bed.

“You smelled her?” Belle smirked.

“It was a strong scent.” Regina shrugged.

“Mmhm.” Belle said.

“What?” Regina looked her over.

“I saw the way you two bantered, Regina.” Belle said. “Not at all like a captor and her prisoner.”

“Oh?” Regina raised a brow. “And since when does a prisoner blush when their captor punches someone who’s trying to harm them?”

Belle blushed again and turned around, looking up at a shelf that held a few books and charts and pretending to be interested in them.

“Do you think the captain reads?” Belle asked. “Or knows how to, at least.”

“Oh, she definitely does.” Regina said offhandedly.

“How are you so sure?” Belle asked. Regina smirked, glancing upwards as if she’d be able to tell if the captain can hear her through the wooden beams.

“She’s nobility.” Regina whispered. “She’s from Misthaven. I realised as much by the way she reacted when she heard Gaston say that’s where we were from…and the way she knew what my mother looked like and how alike we looked?”

“You think she’s met her?” Belle asked. Regina shrugged as she lay back on her elbows to lounge on the bed.

“Or at the very least, she’s gotten close enough to her to know what she looks like.” The princess said. “And she clearly knows her well, judging by how much she hates her.”

“Do you blame her?” Belle asked.

“Absolutely not. God knows what my mother’s done to anger her.” Regina sighed.

“Well how can you be sure she’s a noble?” Belle asked. “For all we know she could have been a servant in the palace.”

“She admitted it when I said so. If she were a servant she would have just said I was wrong.” Regina shrugged.

“Suppose she’s lying to hide her true identity?” Belle asked.

“Then I guess I just have to get under her skin a little more.” Regina smirked.

“Just be careful.” Belle said. “And while you may enjoy getting under her skin, make sure you don’t get caught up in the warmth of it all.”

“I don’t understand what that’s supposed to mean, Belle.” Regina raised a brow.

“I mean, make sure that you don’t get too attached, Regina.” Belle warned. “They’re pirates. We have to be careful.”

“Belle, you choose to see this as a dire situation.” Regina said with a smirk. “It’s only as bad as you make it out to be.”

“Our lives are at stake here.” Belle raised a brow.

“Highly doubtful.” Regina said. “We’re incredibly valuable. If we weren’t we wouldn’t have survived last night without those men getting their dirty hands on us…although I can’t help but think the dear captain has other motives for that as well.”

“You’re actually going to treat this like, what…some kind of adventure?” Belle asked.

“Well, if there’s a risk of me dying regardless, why not have fun along the way?” Regina asked.

“I suppose I understand that logic.” Belle said. “Doesn’t mean I don’t still think you’re bloody mad.”

“Who ever said sanity was fun?” Regina said, laying back on the bed with a chuckle.

Chapter Text

The men sang as they worked, a sea shanty that seemed to keep their spirits up as they went about their duties. Although the fat one didn't seem to be in a singing mood, Regina noticed as she stepped out of the captain's quarters, but that would probably have less to do with the song and more to do with the fact that he got slapped down twice by a woman.

"They sound wonderful." Belle remarked. Regina smiled at her.

"I suppose even pirates have talents." She said. She stepped out further into the deck and looked up at Emma, still at the helm and seemingly more calm now than she was earlier. She wasn't singing along, but she seemed to be enjoying the fact that the other men were. The atmosphere was fairly merry. Regina had never heard anything like this, Belle hadn't either. She'd heard sea shanties being sung in pubs, but according to her father, naval captains very rarely allowed their men to sing while out at sea because of something to do with decorum and self restraint. But seeing the way the men worked happier and faster, she thought now it was just ridiculous.

"Your men seem to be happy, captain." Regina remarked to the captain.

"Out for more air, princess?" Emma said. Regina rolled her eyes.

"It's more fun out here." She said.

"Wind's blowing stronger, careful now, I wouldn't want you to be blown overboard." The captain said.

"I think I can handle myself." Regina said. "Besides I thought you didn't care?"

"If something happens out of my control you won't be seeing me jump into the depths to save you any time soon." Emma said. "But if it can be helped, I want my gold."

"That's it then, it's just all about your gold?" Regina asked. Emma half turned to look at her, unamused.

"Princess if I need to do something to prove to you how little I care about your safety, I will. Don't test me." She said.

"I'd be careful, your highness." Ruby said with a chuckle as she took a swig of rum. "Captain's not one to make light of her threats. I wouldn't either if I were you."

"Fair enough." Regina shrugged. The wind did seem to pick up all of a sudden, lurching the ship forward suddenly.

"Shorten sails!" Emma called.

"Shorten sails men!" Ruby stood suddenly and repeated the order. "Wind's picking up, we wanna be getting home in one piece!"

"What do you think, Ruby?" Emma asked.

"The way the wind's going…probably heading into a storm." Ruby said.

"A storm?" Regina asked. "That's ridiculous, there's not a cloud in the sky."

"You ever hear the phrase 'the calm before the storm' princess?" Emma asked. "That's because that's how it usually is."

"Are you sure-"

"Look, your highness." Emma rounded on the brunette, Ruby taking the ship's wheel behind her. "I understand you have your own opinions and you wish to voice them. Especially since you probably don't get to do that much at home with your mother bein' who she is and all that."

Regina sighed, looks like she wasn't the only one who could see right through the captain.

"But Miss Lucas and I have been out at sea for years. We know these waters and the winds like the backs of our hands because that's the only way we know how to survive them. So when we say there's a storm coming, we know what the fuck we're talkin' about. You wouldn't question a stable master on whether a horse is in heat or not, would you?" Emma looked at her sternly and for a moment Regina felt like she was back in her lessons.

"No." Regina shook her head.

"Then you'd do well not to question a seaman about the weather." Emma said. "Now I suggest you go back inside, I doubt your land legs are fit to handle a storm out on deck. But if you'll be refusing that as you so clearly are going to anyway, then you might as well help out."

"What can I do?" Regina asked. Emma smirked, as if the phrase was exactly what she wanted to hear.

The winds had become stronger in a matter of minutes, and in just as much time, the darkest clouds Regina had ever seen had come upon them. When it started to rain, it did so heavily. The men didn't seem phased, they adjusted the sails, kept hold of the ropes, and carried what they didn't need inside. Regina and Belle helped with the carrying, two extra hands to do the less important tasks could mean life or death for a few of her men, the captain thought.

Emma seemed to be taking this on with as much tactic as a battle would need, Regina thought. But then again with the way the waves were rocking the ship, she figured there was only a little difference. What a cannon could do to a man, she figured, a bad storm could do just as much damage.

By the time everything was settled below deck and in their proper stores, the storm had become heavier. The winds were blowing the ship and Emma was gritting her teeth and barking orders and the men were scurrying like rats in a fire to follow them out.

"Get inside!" Emma shouted at her and Belle. Regina shook her head.

"I can help." She said.

"I won't say again princess." Emma said. But the captain's words went to deaf ears as she heard a man shout as he struggled to pull a rope that seemed to hold something heavy. Regina ran over, grabbing the rope and helping him pull it in.

Emma was preoccupied trying to hold the ship upright, at the mercy of the wind and her wheel. She wasn't pulled away from her concentration until she heard a shout, and looked in time to see Regina get knocked over the banister of the ship as it tilted starboard and she lost her footing on the wet, slippery wood.

"Princess!" the lanky man cried. Regina was trying as hard as she could to hold onto the banister as the man tried pulling her up. But his grip was loose and she was slipping.

"Take the bloody wheel!" Emma shouted to Ruby as she jumped over the banister of the quarter deck and onto the main deck, running towards the man who still struggled to hold onto Regina's hand. But just as she got there, the man's grip was lost completely and Regina fell into the rough waters below.

"No!" Belle shouted.

"Ah dammit." Emma growled as she quickly took off her coat, tossing it to the floor with her hat as she hopped over the banister and dove head first into the water.

"Captain over board!" was the last thing she heard before her head hit the water and the sounds of the surface were lost to her. She saw Regina below, holding onto her breath and trying to kick up towards her. But the water was too strong for her.

Emma kicked and paddled towards her, fighting like hell against the current. She thought she was going to lose her, the limited light receding even further as she got deeper, but as she reached out, Regina reached back, grabbing her hand. The captain pulled her up roughly, using her strength to overcome the current and grab a hold of Regina, wrapping an arm strongly around her as she kicked them both back up the surface. Regina tried to kick as well, but her strength was fading as her lungs were starting to burn and beg for oxygen that she wasn't able to give them. The salt burned her eyes and soon she couldn't bear to keep them open.

The next thing she remembered was feeling the wind almost freeze the water as it blew it off her face. She took a deep breath, her lungs feeling relieved. She shot open her eyes to see the side of the galleon and a rope come down above them. Emma had gotten them to the surface and was grabbing the rope as three men struggled on deck to pull them up.

She wrapped her arms around Emma as tightly as she could, gripping at her shirt, terrified she'd fall into the sea again. When they got close enough to the top of the ship, Emma pushed her foot against the side and hauled them up, throwing Regina onto the deck floor before she pulled herself up over the banister.

"Captain's alright men!" the men cheered. Regina was on her knees coughing the salt water out. She was panting and trying to get her breathing regulated when she felt a strong grip on her arm, pulling her up to her feet roughly. She saw the clearly angry and frustrated expression on the captain's face as she lead her towards the captain's quarters again. She threw the door open and pushed her inside.

"Don't you fucking leave this room." Emma practically screamed before slamming the door shut.

Regina was freezing and wrapped her arms around herself as she tried to wrap her head around what had just happened.

It took three hours for the storm to finally pass. The rain seemed to stop, or at the very least calm down. And the darkness was less the fault of the clouds now, and more the fault of the sun which had just finished setting over the horizon. She heard heavy footsteps from above her come down the stairs, and suddenly Emma was walking inside. Regina gulped, sure the captain was still furious with her.

"I'm sorry about earlier…" she said meekly. She was still freezing, and Emma could see by the way she trembled. The blonde was silent, soaked to the skin right through her clothes thanks to the rain. She shrugged off her coat and hung it up on a coat rack to dry along with her hat before she opened the wardrobe. Regina realised then that she must have spare clothing, where she got it from the princess dared not ask. But if she could steal a ship this size from some kind of naval officer, she could obviously steal a few pieces of clothing as well.

Emma tossed a pair of trousers and a shirt onto the bed. Regina looked from them to the captain in time to see her holding a leather belt out in front of her and examining it before she pulled her knife from her boot and held it between her teeth. She turned to Regina, who gave her a fearful look as she approached her. But the blonde simply, silently, lifted the belt over and behind her, moving the shorter girl's arms out of the way and tightening the belt around her waist before she removed it again, laying it flat out on the table and stabbing it in three different places at around equal distance before she threw it on the bed along with the rest of the clothes.

"Put those on." The captain said roughly, her voice hoarse from how loudly she had to shout the orders to her men for three hours. Regina thought the fact that she possibly swallowed a mouthful of salt water as well had something to do with it. "And take a drink of rum before you catch your death."

Regina looked back, the bottle of rum still on the nightstand suddenly in her sights.

"I…" Regina was about to speak, but Emma looked at her with a raised brow, challenging her to defy her again. "I'm sorry."

"Save your apologies for your maker." Emma said as she pulled off her own soaked shirt. Regina tried to look away and give the blonde her privacy, Emma clearly didn't care either way. Years out at sea with a practically all male crew gave her little to be shy about.

"Thank you…Captain." Regina said as she slowly began to undress. She'd been undressed in front of handmaidens before, but this felt entirely different. "For everything…I'm glad to see that-"

"Stop." Emma said, pulling on a new shirt roughly. "Stop talking. Because all you've done up till now is talk your way into trouble. You talked your way into getting captured by a pirate, you talked till you had me considering stabbing you in the throat last night. You almost talked your way into the fuckin' locker tonight, princess. So do everyone a god damned favour and stop. Fucking. Talking."

Regina gulped, the captain's green eyes piercing into her.

"You think I'm some kinda sensitive sap, you wanna believe that that's on you." Emma said, stepping closer and closer into her space as she talked. "But don't be making the mistake of trusting a pirate, princess. Those who survive that plight are few and very far between. You're looking at one of them."

"I just…" Regina was about to say.

"Don't say a word." Emma said through gritted teeth. "You're causing more trouble for yourself, princess. And just so we're clear, if you think it's my men you have to worry about, you're wrong. Anything my men can do to you, I can do ten times as bad. Compared to me, they're nothing. You'd have a fighting chance with them at the very least. Me? I could do anything I wanted to you, and you wouldn't be able to stop me if you tried. I know you think I'll go easy on you cause we're both women but that's where you're wrong. If you think these men are hard because their pirates, then you can imagine what a woman who's had to fight her way to the top is like. I'm the stuff of your nightmares, princess. And you've gotten way too comfortable with me. Keep it up and I'll have to remind you what a nightmare looks like."

Regina stared into her eyes, unable to speak, unsure of what she'd even say if she could. Emma didn't want apologies, she didn't want her to thank her for saving her. The captain said all she wanted was gold, Regina could see a glimpse of something beneath even that. But she wasn't sure what…lust? Perhaps…but even beyond that a spark of the unknown stirred something in the brunette.

Regina bit her lip, glancing away from Emma's green eyes to her pale pink lips for a moment, remembering how peaceful the pirate looked in her sleep that very morning. She sighed, her hot breath hitting Emma's lips before she made a move bolder than sneaking onto a ship and bolder than announcing her royal heritage to a crew of pirates.

She kissed her.

Chapter Text

She kissed her.

The kiss was bruising, and it surprised the captain at first, but then she wrapped her arms around Regina's waist and pulled her closer. The brunette had been gripping Emma by her shirt and was now able to wrap her arms around the taller woman's neck. Emma deepened the kiss, slipping her tongue into the younger girl's mouth and smirking at the way Regina gasped at the entirely new feeling. She'd never kissed anyone before, though she'd seen people do it. But it usually seemed just a quick, gentle act. Perhaps that was just what the aristocrats allowed themselves when in public. This was deeper, stronger. It sent chills up Regina's spine the likes of which she'd never felt before. It wasn't fear, it wasn't because of the cold. It was something else entirely. Something very akin to excitement but warmer as well and it seemed to travel to her very core.

Her lungs burned, she was running out of breath like she had when she was being saved by the captain from the deadly seas. She pulled back suddenly, gasping for air. Emma chuckled and she opened her eyes to look at her.

"Well I certainly didn't expect that…" she blonde smirked at her.

"I…just…" Regina couldn't explain why she'd done that. Did she have to? Her mother always told her that an action on impulse was a stupid one. But she was so far from her mother and her teachings now, she wondered if they even applied. Nothing else she'd learned from her life in the palace seemed to.

"Don't worry, princess." Emma chuckled. "You wouldn't be the first woman wanting to do that."

"You're not upset that I did so without asking then?" Regina asked. Emma laughed.

"I'm a pirate. We're not used to asking for permission." Emma raised a brow. "Make no mistake, if you were a man or another pirate I would have knocked your teeth out already. But you…you're harmless."

Regina almost deflated. Harmless? She didn't know if she was happy that Emma didn't see her as a threat or belittled for the blonde thinking she didn't have the strength to take her on if she needed to. She shook her head free of those thoughts, that wasn't the point now.

Emma released Regina, smirking at her one last time before she stepped away.

"Best be getting dressed, princess. It's a cold night. Wouldn't wanna get ill now would you?" she said as she stepped up to her wardrobe again. She stripped off her trousers, pulling on a pair of new ones as Regina looked away. She was blushing, her face felt like it was on fire. She wasn't sure what else to do. And she was shivering because her clothes were still soaked and so was she.

"Dry yourself off and drink that rum. It'll warm you right up." Emma said.

"Right I just uhm…" Regina cleared her throat and Emma looked at her with a quirked eyebrow.

"Right." She said, stepping into her boots. She grabbed an older looking, shorter black coat that looked almost entirely made of leather with silver buttons. "Seas are calm now, if you wanna step outside. We'll be tryin' to fix up a supper soon but I don't know what kinda food we have in store. Don't be expecting much."

"Thank you, Emma." Regina said. Emma looked at her and she blushed as she realised she'd used her first name. "I uh…I mean."

"It's alright princess." Emma chuckled at the way Regina stammered. She didn't say another word as she stepped out of the room and Regina fell onto the bed with a sigh. She didn't know what the hell her heart was doing, but it sent her mind into a whirlwind. She suddenly remembered the kiss and almost giggled. Then she shook her head free of the thought.

"I must be losing my damned mind." She sighed before she moved to change out of her wet clothes and into the ones Emma offered her.

The clothes were slightly too big, even for Emma, let alone for the smaller princess. But she made do with rolling up the trouser legs to her ankles and stuffing them into her boots. She kept them up thanks to the belt Emma had fixed up for her. She realised what she'd done when she went to tighten the belt and found that it would have been entirely too big for her had the pirate not stabbed three new holes in it.

She was freezing when she stepped outside. The seas were calm, but wind was still blowing a little and the air was cold. So when she stepped up next to Emma, she was hugging herself and shivering slightly. Emma raised a brow at her, taking a swig of rum from the bottle in her hands before passing it to Regina.

"It'll warm you up." She said. "Drink."

Regina didn't think to argue, she silently took the bottle from the pirate and lifted it to her lips. She cringed as she took a mouthful of the sickly sweet, strong liquid. It burned her throat when she swallowed and made her break out into a cough.

"It takes gettin' used to, but it keeps you warm and sometimes it's the only thing that keeps our bellies full." Emma said. As Regina tried not to be sick.

"I'm not used to anything stronger than wine." Regina sighed as she handed her the bottle again. The alcohol suddenly coursing through her veins did suddenly warm her up enough to stop shivering. Her hair was a mess though, and she didn't have the towels she did in the palace to dry it off, so it was still cold. "I'm not used to anything at this point."

Emma looked at her before she drew her eyes back to her men, who were working on the ship silently again. She spotted the pirate who still wore her old hat like some kind of prize, wearing a coat which he'd taken off a seaman on the ship they'd taken Regina and Belle from.

"Ms. Lucas." Emma said. Ruby, who had been standing beside her silently up till now looked up. Emma released the wheel and Ruby took it immediately. Emma went up to the pirate she'd spotted, stopping him in his tracks and saying a simple word to him before he nodded and took off his coat, handing it to her and returning her hat. She stepped up the stairs again and wordlessly placed the hat on top of Regina's head, throwing the coat over her shoulders before she tapped Ruby's shoulder and took the helm again. Ruby raised a brow at her captain's actions but didn't question anything. One look at her and Regina could tell she was dealing with something else herself and didn't have time to worry about her captain's intentions towards the younger girl. Regina was surprised herself though.

"Uhm…Thank you." Regina said, pulling the coat on properly. "Won't he be cold now?"

"His work will keep him warm." Emma said with finality. Regina knew better than to question anything else. Emma had told her to stop talking and stop asking questions, and despite what happened earlier, she didn't want the pirate to lose her patience with her again, especially after she had saved her life after saying that she wouldn't. She doubted the pirate would refuse to save her, but she also didn't want to push her luck.

A man came up and whispered something to Ruby, she nodded and sighed, sending him back to his work before she turned to the captain.

"Bad news, Cap'n." She said. "Not much food left, no meat after yesterday's feast for sure, and little veg too. Most of what's survived is the potatoes."

"Make your slop, we don't have much longer out at sea, we'll live with it for one night at least." Emma said. Ruby nodded with a smirk and Regina raised a brow at her as she left the quarter deck to go below to the galleys. She stepped closer to the captain now, resting against the banister. She wanted to strike up a conversation. Silence between two people was not common for her. Social etiquette told her to always make conversation so as not to make the situation awkward.

"Been out a sea long then?" Regina asked. Emma raised a row at her questioningly and she shrugged. "I'm just thinking cause of the lack of food."

"We always take what we can, but we've been out three months and we've only had to miss a couple o' meals." Emma said.

"What makes a pirate want to go out to sea?" Regina asked.

"Jobs, usually." Emma shrugged. "People hire us to do the work they're either incapable or too afraid of doing themselves. Other times, we'll get word of a convoy making it's way through our waters and we take the opportunity."

"Your waters…" Regina said. Emma resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "What do you mean when you say that?"

"There's a collection of islands, a few leagues south of Misthaven." Emma said.

"The Celestial Isles?" Regina asked.

"That's what you call it, aye." Emma nodded.

"I heard there was a huge war over those islands, that my mother wanted to negotiate peace with the king and queen but they were ruthless, so war was the only option." Regina said, remembering her history lessons.

"Ruthless?" Emma almost spat. Regina looked up at her and saw her furious eyes. "You clearly don't know what you're talking about, princess."

"I'm sorry." Regina said, unsure what she was apologising for, but the way Emma was looking at her made her think that was the only acceptable response. "I only know what I was taught in my history lessons by my tutor. My mother doesn't let me question her on her own past."

"Course she wouldn't." Emma sighed. "I suppose it's not your fault then."

"But clearly what I know is far from the truth." Regina said, stepping closer to Emma. "According to what I was taught the king and queen of the isles refused my mother's many peace negotiations. All she wanted was their co-operation so that supplies to and from the isles would go smoothly, to ensure prosperity for the isles, and Misthaven at the same time. They refused because of greed, that's what the books say. What everyone at home is taught. Cora would go back and forth to the islands to negotiate and they would always refuse her. Then the next time a Misthaven ship requested to port, it was met with an attack. An act of war. Then Cora had no other option but to retaliate and it sparked a war. And after she won the people retaliated in piracy and a life of crime. They hassle any naval officers that come to the islands and rob their ships."

Emma gritted her teeth and shut her eyes. The princess realised that what the captain was hearing was just a long, elaborate string of lies created by the queen to keep her people from rebelling or sympathising with the islanders. Regina wondered for a moment if this story had anything to do with the captain's past.

"I'm sorry." Regina said. "I didn't mean to…"

"Save your apologies for your maker, princess." Emma said, it seemed to her catch phrase. Regina sighed.

"If what I know is nothing but lies, I want you to tell me the truth of what happened." She asked.

"Let's just say that your mother was the ruthless one and leave it at that." Emma said. "Don't believe what she tells you."

"I learnt that lesson already." Regina said. "She said something to me before I left that I've already learnt is a lie."

"And what would that be then?" Emma asked with a quirked brow.

"She said all pirates are dangerous." Regina said with a smirk towards the blonde captain. "I've come to see that's not entirely true."

"Princess…" Emma sighed.

"Excuse me, captain…" Regina said, walking down the stairs and going back into the captain's quarters. She didn't know why she left, to be entirely honest. But she didn't want Emma to be able to deny her again, to say that she is dangerous. She didn't believe so. If she were, Regina would have already seen it. Can she be rough? Yes, she admitted that. But she was a pirate, a female one among men. She figured she had to be rough if she hoped to survive. But at her very core, Regina knew the pirate wasn't as ruthless and merciless as she said. She dove into those waters to save her for a reason, and it wasn't gold. She didn't know what it was exactly, and she wouldn't jump to conclusions. But she wouldn't allow Emma to let her believe it was just her lust for gold.

She had been curious about the books on Emma's shelf since Belle pointed them out, so when she was at a loss of what to do while in the room, she decided to take a look at them. One of them was a history book, she was surprised to find. But it was just an older version of the ones she studied with when she was younger, and following the conversation she had just had with Emma, she didn't trust the book's accuracy. There were some books on sailing, how to read a map and such. The things you would expect to be on the shelf of a sea captain's quarters. But then, at the very end of the shelf she found an older looking book. It was bound with leather and had the golden words Once Upon a Time etched into it in calligraphy. She became interested and decided to take a look at it. When she opened it, it was about a bunch of fairytales. A princess who was destined to save her kingdom from the clutches of an evil queen. She found it interesting, amusing, even.

She didn't realise she'd been engrossed in it for so long until she heard the latch of the door open and she looked up.

"You hungry?" Emma asked, two bowls in her hand. Regina nodded with a small smile on her face.

"Will you be joining me?" she asked.

"I thought I might as well." Emma said, setting the bowls down. She looked up and raised a brow at the sight of the book. "You've been readin', I see."

"I uh…I hope you don't mind…I found it and I just looked at it out of curiosity but…it's actually a very sweet story." Regina said, hoping Emma wasn't upset at her.

"Only thing I've got left of my childhood." Emma said, picking the book up, flipping through a few pages before she closed it with a sigh. "I don't mind your reading it as long as you don't tear it. It's old."

"I'll take care of it." Regina said with a small smile. Emma looked at her, into her, for a long silent moment. The she nodded.

"Alright then." She said, handing her the book again. Regina took it and placed it gently on the bed.

"Thank you." Regina said. She sat at the table where Emma had set down one of the bowls and looked at the contents.

"It's not much." Emma said as she brought out the wine she'd given Regina some of the night before and two goblets.

"What is it?" Regina asked, looking down at the thick, lumpy, brownish grey mess in her bowl and trying not to cringe at the smell.

"Ruby's grandmother's stew." Emma said. "Old broad's still alive and kicking. And she cooks like an angel sings. Although, what she can whip up is way better than this. This is just a sorry excuse for a meal. It smells better than it looks, and it tastes better than it smells…Only thing is…"

Regina had taken a mouth full. She covered her mouth with her hand to fight off her reflex to spit it out, forcing it down and praying to whichever god might listen than she wouldn't vomit.

"It tastes bloody awful." Emma finished off, pouring Regina some wine and handing it to her.

"I think I don't hate rum as much as I did before." Regina remarked as she drank the wine. Emma laughed.

"Knew you'd come around." She said, shovelling a large spoonful and swallowing it down with a grunt before she drank some wine. "Yeah, wash it down fast and the taste won't bother you so much. Some men pour their rum right into it."

"I don't blame them…No offence intended towards Ms. Lucas but…" Regina trailed off.

"Mm, she knows it tastes awful." Emma said. "It's not her inability to cook, lass, it's the fact that this food's been at sea for three months and she's had to cut some maggots out of it."

"What?" Regina looked at her with wide eyes. Emma laughed.

"I've been eatin' it half of my life, lass, if I'm not dead yet, one bowl of the stuff won't kill you." She said. Regina looked at her up and down and shrugged. The captain seemed to be fit and healthy, she could trust her own eyes if nothing else. It didn't make it taste any better though. But it was a warm meal, and apparently that was the only important thing when it came to food on this ship.

They ate quickly, according to Emma the taste only got worse when it was cold. But Regina was happy that her stomach was full, and Emma seemed to be much calmer now too. Perhaps it was the mix of wine and rum in her system. But they were now still sitting at the table, drinking as Regina listened intently to one of Emma's stories.

"So you just let them dunk you head first into a cask of ale?" Regina asked.

"The bet was, I drink my way out or I hold my breath for five minutes." Emma said. "A hundred pieces of silver, easy pickings."

"You held your breath for five minutes?" Regina asked. Emma laughed.

"I found the cork at the bottom of the thing and drained it out. I drank some but I haven't seen a man who could drink a whole cask of ale and live to tell the tale." Emma said.

"But that's cheating!" Regina said. Emma shrugged.

"That's pirates, lass." Emma said. "Got my silver, and punched the sucker out of his wits when he found out what I did."

"Of course." Regina said as she finished off her wine.

"Hey, the silver went to a good cause." Emma said.

"Oh?" Regina teased.

"My men never had that much rum in their life, they were the happiest I've ever seen them." Emma chuckled.

"Ah." She nodded. "You love your crew."

"Love's got nothing to do with it, lass." Emma said as she leaned forward on the table. "They're good men and they've followed me for years. I can't imagine a better crew."

"Love doesn't have to be romantic captain." Regina said. "In fact most of the time, it isn't."

"You know a lot about love, then?" Emma smirked teasingly. Regina shrugged.

"Love's the reason I'm here." She said. "I gave myself up in the hopes you'd release Belle."

"Ah." Emma nodded. She sighed, turning somber for a moment. "Well then…"

Regina looked over at Emma with a raised brow.

"I know you took me with the intention of holding me hostage, captain. And you might think me mad for saying this but…" she smirked. "I'm enjoying the adventure."

"You're right." Emma said, finishing off her wine. "I do think you're mad."

"Well, you think my mother will give up that much gold without a fight…I suppose you're mad too." Regina teased. "But fret not, madness doesn't seem to be the worst thing in the world."

"I'm not one to fret over my own madness, princess." Emma chuckled. "Or anyone else's for that matter."

"Good, I'd hate for you to worry about me." Regina teased. Emma rolled her eyes. They seemed to talk for quite a bit, as she realised only now how tired she was as a yawn escaped her mouth.

"You should be gettin' to sleep, princess." Emma said. "If everything goes well, we'll be arriving tomorrow."

"To the isles?" Regina asked.

"Aye." Emma said as she picked up the plates and began to move to return them to the galleys.

"I'm interested to see them." Regina said. "I've never seen much outside the capital of the kingdom."

"Just keep your head down, and do yourself a favour, Princess. Make no mention of your mother. Locals of the isles don't take too kindly to her." Emma said.

"If what she's told me is the opposite of the truth, I don't blame them." Regina said. "Although, I still don't know exactly what happened."

"Perhaps it's better that way." Emma said.

"I'm afraid I disagree, captain." Regina said.

"That's your prerogative, princess." Emma said. "Sleep well."

She exited the room and Regina sighed. Emma had this shell around her that was hard to crack. And she seemed far too intrigued by the pirate to give up.

Chapter Text

Warmth. That was the only thing Regina felt as she slowly began to stir back into the land of the living. She wasn't sure if it was because of the bed, because of the sun that was pouring in from the windows…perhaps it was because Emma was keeping the bed even warmer than usual. She just felt engulfed in a comforting warmth. It took her a minute to realise that she was actually being held.

Yes, held, she realised as she moved her head and found that the soft cotton she was nuzzling against was different from that of the bed sheets. She looked up to see the sleeping blonde captain just above her, her arms were wrapped around her, strong, but gentle enough that she didn't stifle the princess. Regina wasn't sure how they ended up in this position. All she remembered was falling asleep soon after Emma had left the room…she seemed to recall stirring momentarily because she felt a dip in the bed, but nothing much after that.

She wondered for a moment if Emma was perhaps used to holding other women in her bed. She blushed at the thought of being Emma's bedmate for any other reason, but she couldn't fight off the smile that came to her face as well. She sighed. Emma was still asleep, and unless another fight broke out on deck, she seemed she'd be asleep for a while yet. Regina nuzzled back into the captain's chest, enjoying the feeling of being in another person's arms like this…It was all very strange…But ever since they kissed there was this connection between them Regina couldn't shake. She hoped Emma felt it too. She could see it, the way she got her the hat and coat from the crewman that now hung by Emma's long red coat and hat on the hanger. The way she knew she was cold just by looking at her. She'd tried giving her rum and it didn't go down so well, literally. So instead of just letting her deal with being cold, she made other arrangements. She opened wine that hadn't been touched in ages for her, or at least it looked that way, just so she'd have something to drink with her meal. From the very beginning Emma seemed to go out of her way to make her more comfortable, and then work just as hard to pretend it was for reasons different to what the princess had in mind. But if that were true, why wasn't Belle in here as well? Ruby's quarters were separate from the rest of the crew, sure. But they were still quite close. Granted the first mate seemed to have taken quite the liking to her best friend since the beginning. She wondered if that was the only reason Emma had even taken her in the first place. Ruby said she liked her, and Emma gave the order. That's all it took.

It didn't take long for Regina to realise that Ruby was to Emma what Belle was to her. They knew each other well enough, it seemed. Sure, the two relationships weren't totally identical, but even a pirate captain deserved a best friend. Didn't they?

Emma murmured sleepily above her, and for a moment she thought the blonde was waking up. But all she felt was Emma pulling her closer and nuzzling into her hair and she couldn't help but smile. She looked like she could murder you when she was awake, but when she was asleep…it was an entirely different story, apparently. Regina nuzzled into her chest again, the sound of Emma's heartbeat right against her ear and giving her a strange sense of comfort. She was more comfortable here than she ever was in the palace, despite the obvious lacking points. Perhaps she was meant to be out at sea…or…or with Emma.

She didn't want to jump to conclusions, but with everything that happened the day before, it was hard not to.

Maybe she really was as mad as Emma said.

Her thoughts were soon interrupted by another murmur, and then a groan. Emma's legs shifted position and she turned over onto her back, one arm still around Regina. The brunette looked up at her face, pulling her lower lip in between her teeth. It was hard to resist the urge to kiss her again. Especially knowing the blonde had clearly enjoyed the first one so much. But she didn't want to overstep. Emma was volatile in her feelings, and the last thing she wanted to do was upset her. She rested her head down on the blonde's chest instead, the heartbeat closer to her ear now and eliciting a sort of blissful smile on her lips. This was all so new to her, she was trying not to worry too much about doing something wrong.

Emma's hand suddenly went up into her hair and she gasped softly. It was a gentle act, nothing threatening. In fact she found it quite comforting.

"Mornin' lass." Emma muttered. Regina looked up at her, her eyes were still closed and she seemed to still be half asleep.

"Goodmorning, captain." She spoke softly. Emma's eyes fluttered open and she stared at her for a moment like she was trying to remember what happened the night before.

"Please tell me I didn't come in here drunk and do something stupid." She said. Regina tilted her head.

"N-no?" Regina said. "What do you mean stupid?"

"I didn't try to sleep with you did I?" Emma asked. Regina finally understood.

"No." She said.

"Thank the lord." She sighed as she sat up. Regina frowned. Why would that be such a bad thing, she wondered. She was about to ask, but a knock on the door interrupted her thoughts.

"Yes?" Emma said, still stretching.

"Captain." Ruby said as she opened the door, raising a brow immediately to how close the captain and her hostage were laying in bed.

"What is it Ruby?" Emma asked, pulling the shorter brunette's attention back to why she was in there in the first place.

"Land, sir." Ruby said with a smirk.

"Home?" Emma said, moving to get up suddenly.

"Aye." Ruby nodded

"Oh thank the lord." Emma sighed. "I thought we'd have to eat that slop another night."

Emma was putting on her boots in a second, getting up as soon as she could and pulling on her now dry red coat and hat as she brushed pass Ruby to exit the room. Regina got up after her, but didn't exit as quickly, she'd yet to get dressed.

"Sleep well, princess?" Ruby asked. The older girl looked at the pirate with a questioning look, but the smirk on her face told her exactly what she was insinuating.

"Yes, I slept quite well. Thank you." Regina responded with a brow lifted in challenge.

"Best be getting dressed, your highness." Ruby said. "We'll be on land within the hour by the looks of it."

"How's Belle?" Regina asked.

"She's well." Ruby said. "You'll see her sooner if you get dressed."

The first mate left the room and shut the door a second later, leaving Regina no time to ask or say anything else. She sighed, still trying to shake what Emma said earlier out of her head. Why would it have been such a bad thing if they had slept together? Despite the obvious, not being married and such. The thought of which made Regina roll her eyes. That wasn't the point.

She shook her head, concluding herself as mad once again before she moved to get dressed. Her clothes were dry now, thankfully, and she was able to wear them rather comfortably.

She stepped out of the room to see the men working rapidly, probably preparing to port.

"Regina!" She heard Belle's voice, looking over to the left side of the ship to see Belle waving at her as she looked at the sights. She ran over to her, giving her a quick hug.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

"I'm fine…look!" Belle pointed to the land they were closing in on. Regina looked over in awe. They were heading towards a vast array of islands, some nothing more than sand banks in the middle of the sea, others large enough you could fit a fairly sized kingdom. The largest of all had a great mountain, but not like the ones in the north of Misthaven that were covered in snow. These were covered in nothing but lush, dark forest that must have been crawling with wildlife. Even from the distance they held, Regina could see birds flying around with colours the likes of which she'd never seen. The colours of the islands seemed brighter. The sand was almost as white as the sails of the ship, and the waters looked as if they were a totally different hue to the seas she was used to seeing from the view of her bedroom window. Even the air somehow felt cleaner in her lungs.

They soon turned around the large mountain, allowing the girls to see even more of the islands. They could see the port they were heading towards, a small one with maybe one or two piers, but a good amount of ships and sailboats anchored around it. None as big as the ship they were one, although some came close. The land itself was covered in all kinds of huts and cottages. All made of wood, but some were white, some a light brown. Even though they were small, Regina had never seen houses made out of woods like these.

"Shorten those sails! Ready the plank! Ring that bell like you're gettin' married!" Ruby shouted orders. The girls looked up, Emma seemed to have a small smile on her face, Ruby was obviously more outspoken about the joys of being home.

"It's beautiful isn't it?" Belle said, her attention having turned back to the islands.

"Yeah, it is…" Regina's eyes were still fixed on that small smile on the captain's face. Perhaps the sun shone brighter here too, because her eyes seemed so bright at that moment.

It didn't take them long to port the ship, but by then a crowd had gathered on the port. The men had started gathering around the banister to wave. Some to women, some to other men, some to children. Some seemed to just be enjoying the revelry. It was then that Regina had decided to step away and step closer to the captain.

"So this is home?" she asked with a smile.

"What's left of it." Emma sighed. Regina tilted her head, but Emma seemed to focus on porting the ship.

"She's all set captain!" A man called.

"Weight anchor men!" she called. A loud splash was heard a second later, and the ship seemed to suddenly become immobilised as the heavy cast iron anchor dropped to the bottom of the shallow sea.

"Alright." Emma said, releasing the wheel and moving to go down the steps of the quarter deck. "Get the cargo out the hold, you know what's in those boxes and you know where it needs to go, so get moving men!"

"Aye aye!" some of then cheered before moving below deck. The crowd was still waving and cheering.

"Set that plank." Emma said to a couple of other men, who were moving a large plank of wood with what seemed like makeshift steps to the gap in the banister on the left side of the ship. They dropped it down, letting it slope over the side of the ship onto the pier, a passage way on and off the ship.

"You two." Emma turned to Belle and Regina. "Heads down, mouths shut. You mention where you're from and even I can't do a damned thing to save you, understood?"

"Yes, captain." Regina said. Belle raised a brow at her friend, who raised a brow back and nodded towards the blonde.

"Uhm…yes…captain?" she repeated.

"Good." Emma said.

"So where are we?" Regina asked.

"This." Emma gestured broadly towards the large island, the huge mountain standing tall over the wide, sandy space of land that seemed to make up a village. "Is Cape Black."

Chapter Text

There was something about the very air in this place. Regina felt invigorated, more alive than she'd felt in years and it had nothing to do with the fact that she'd just gotten off a pirate ship. She chalked it up to the atmosphere, and the fact that she'd never been out of the city much, let alone away from the country and on a new island. She could smell the salt of the sea with every breath she took and her eyes felt stimulated with all the different colours of the island. It was like she'd stepped into a completely new world, something out of a story book.

"Regina." Emma called. The use of her actual name rather than some nickname or her title felt as new as the island, but she realised it wasn't an unwanted feeling, so when she turned to look at the captain, she couldn't help but smile. "Don't stray too far, lass. Remember what I told you."

"Yes, captain." Regina nodded. "This place is beautiful."

Emma smirked, giving the cape a sweeping look before she looked back at her with something like nostalgia in her eyes. "You should have seen it in it's heyday."

"Before the war, you mean?" Regina asked. Behind her a seaman made a show of spitting on the floor. Regina's eyes widened in surprise, giving him a glance before she looked to Emma, who shook her head.

"Pay him no mind, that's the reaction you'll get from the locals for mentioning the war." She said. "It cursed this place."

"Cursed?" Regina chuckled. "I'm sorry, you believe in stuff like that?"

"One day, lass, you'll understand." Emma said. "Now come on."

She started walking towards a building that, after a quick glance, Regina could tell was some kind of pub or inn. She sped up her pace, catching up with Emma so as not to wander too far from her.

"Now don't you worry, no one here will do anything to you as long as you stick by me. I tell 'em you're my hostage and you're a goner, so you're a new recruit I picked up off a naval ship, understood?"

"Yes…sir?" Regina said teasingly. Emma looked at her and Regina smirked at her.

"Yeah, you'll get along just fine in here." She said.

"So why do you not want them to know I'm your hostage, then?" the brunette pushed slightly. Emma rolled her eyes, leaning down close.

"I tell 'em you're a hostage, and that means you're worth something. They'll try to take you for themselves and I really don't feel like getting blood on my coat." She said, making Regina roll her eyes. "They find out who you really are? You'll have a knife in your throat before you get the chance to see it coming. Your mother destroyed this land, damned us all to hunger, poverty and a life of crime. Why do you think there's so many pirates? Why do you think your navy's been targeted so frequently? Everyone wants a taste of revenge, lass. And they get it the minute they see your mother's crest. I'll protect you, Regina, but only while you allow me to do so. You damn yourself, you're on your own. Now stay close, and I hope you like ale."

"Is that captain Swan I smell?" an old voice shouted. Emma stood up straight and saw an old, grey haired, plump woman who Ruby was standing beside with a grin on her face. Belle was standing next to her silently, similar to how Regina was keeping close to Emma.

"Granny Lucas." Emma called with a grin. She stepped forward towards her. "You old bird, come here!"

Emma was suddenly hugging the woman tightly, Regina couldn't help but smile at the affectionate moment.

"What did Ruby tell you?" the brunette asked her best friend as they finally got a moment alone again.

"Nothing yet except to keep my head down and stick by her." She said.

"Emma's gonna play me off as a new recruit, probably has the same plan for you." Regina said, lowering her voice to just above a whisper. "This place and Misthaven have a terrible history, Belle. My mother waged war on this place years ago. That's why Emma hates her, that's why this whole island does. Apparently they were rather prosperous before then."

"Maybe that's why she wants the gold so much." Belle said. "I heard about the war against this place but the history books-"

"Were wrong." Regina stated. "My mother never allowed me to ask about it, now I understand why. It was easier for her to keep up the lie once it was written down."

"Lying takes effort." Belle nodded.

"And my mother's far too preoccupied to keep up with a lie that's years old now." Regina sighed. "I don't know the full details, but I think it has a lot to do with who Emma actually is."

"Her Noble heritage?" Belle asked.

"Yes." Regina nodded. "Which only makes me a lot more curious."

"Just be careful, Regina." Belle said. "I know this might seem fun and all but…it's still a perilous situation…Maybe we should just keep our heads down and our mouths shut."

"Oh Belle." Regina smirked. "When have you ever known me to do that?"

Belle sighed and rolled her eyes and was about to respond when Emma suddenly gave a shout.

"A round of ale on me!" she raised her hands. The punters cheered like it was the best news they'd ever heard. Emma turned to the two girls, giving a nod with her head for them to follow her to a table. Ruby poked Belle in the shoulder lightly to follow her and Regina made her way towards the table on the captain's heels. She was able to secure a seat beside her, a spot she found more comforting than any other since the previous night. One of the girls that worked in the tavern brought them fours flagons, filled to the brim with ale that threatened to spill out of them much like her breasts nearly spilled out of her corset. Regina had never seen anyone dressed like that, and she had a hard time looking away.

"See somethin' you like, sailor?" the girl winked at her before sauntering away.

"Looks like you fit right in lass." Ruby teased.

"I wasn't…I…" Regina's face turned a deep shade of red and Ruby nearly spilled her ale laughing. Emma just rolled her eyes.

"Never mind the first mate, lass." She said as she took a swig of her ale.

Everyone in the tavern was happy, talking and laughing like they just received the best news possible, but Emma still looked pensive, and Regina didn't know why. She thought coming home would make the pirate happy, or at least knowing that there was warm food. She couldn't put her finger on the blonde.

"What say you we find a couple girls tonight captain." Ruby asked in as quiet a tone as possible. Regina looked down into her ale to pretend she wasn't listening, but from her peripheral vision she saw Emma shake her head.

"I've got business to conduct, Ruby, you know that." She said.

"Yeah yeah…Don't bother checking in on me if you hear screamin' from the guest house." Ruby chuckled. Emma rolled her eyes. She finished off her ale in a chug and stood up.

"Come on lass." She said, nodding her head towards the door. Regina followed suit, her ale forgotten as she followed Emma out the door.

"Where are we going?" the brunette asked.

"Home." Emma said. "Or well, my home."

Regina followed the blonde up the sandy road of the island, noticing along the semi winding way the huts and the different people on the island. None seemed to be noble, but they all seemed to know Emma and respect her. She noticed the men all tipped their hats at her or nodded their heads respectfully. The only time Regina ever saw anything like that was when people were informally greeting a person of higher authority…could it be that Emma was that here? Regina bit her lip.

"You seem quite popular, captain." She pointed out.

"Take no mind, lass." Emma answered dismissively. "Keep up, will you?"

Regina jogged the two paces Emma was ahead of her and then matched her pace.

"So why not stay at the tavern and enjoy the warm welcome?" the brunette asked.

"Plenty of time for that later, I have work to do."

"Surely even a captain is entitled to a break." Regina remarked.

"I like to have my affairs in order first." Emma pointed out. "Anything else you'd like to comment on?"

"I didn't mean to pry…" Regina said apologetically.

"Well then perhaps ask less questions." Emma gave her a pointed look.

"Understood, captain." Regina rolled her eyes at the blonde. They continued the better part of the walk in silence, Regina taking in the sights of the island Emma had come to call home.

"Mind your step." Emma pointed out as they came up to a seemingly random set of stone steps that allowed access to what Regina assumed had been a steeper part of the path. The brunette looked ahead of them and noticed a few more steps coming up, and then a few feet beyond those, an archway that seemed to have a path that lead to a great white mansion that seemed to be made entirely of white wood.

"Is…is that your home?" the princess asked in awe. Sure, it was no palace, but it was beautiful, especially with the scenery of the forest right behind it.

"Not too shabby, isn't she?" Emma smirked at Regina's expression.

"Not at all." The brunette answered, impressed. "Tell me, how does a pirate captain come about owning such a beautiful home?"

Emma chuckled. "You assume I robbed some poor officer of his life for it to come into my possession. You wound me, lass."

"My apologies." Regina smirked towards the captain and rolled her eyes a little. "Inheritance then?"

"One could say that." Emma nodded.

"Or through marriage?" Regina suggested.

"Hah!" Emma barked a laugh. "No man in his right mind would even think of marrying me, lass, not if he valued his pride and self respect, at least."

"Yes, I can't help but imagine you'd be quite…intimidating." Regina chuckled. "To men, at least."

"So I don't intimidate you then?" Emma asked. Regina rolled her eyes.

"I think I've proved that quite a few times, captain." She grinned.

"Aye, you have." Emma rolled her eyes at the brunette. They passed the second set of steps and were coming up to the archway, beyond which Regina could make out another staircase towards the left of the mansion.

"So then I'll have to assume inheritance." Regina continued on their prior topic. "An interesting concept…Only a nobleman would own such a fine mansion…so then…"

"Hold your horses, princess." Emma cut in. "That's quite enough speculating."

"It's quite the story though, captain." Regina chuckled. "The daughter of a nobleman turned to a life of crime after the land she lived in was taken by an evil queen…"

"That's your mother you're talking about." Emma pointed out quietly. Regina shrugged.

"So I should be in the best place of all to make that judgement." She stated.

"What you talk about is only possible in fairy tales, lass." Emma said. "Besides, who's to judge on who's good and who's evil? We're all human, we all have our flaws."

"Some more than others." Regina muttered under her breath.

"Be that as it may…" Emma turned to Regina, stopping their walk. "A pirate can nary judge a queen on her questionable political decisions, just as a queen cannot judge a pirate on why they've become a pirate."

"Especially if it's in response to the queen's questionable political choices." Regina smirked.

"You're asking for trouble, lass." Emma warned. "Let it go."

"I'm stubborn, captain, you know that." Regina pushed. "If I wasn't I wouldn't have stowed away on a navy ship, despite my mother's rejection of my request to join their voyage."

"And now you're stuck here with a bunch of pirates, and with only me to protect you." Emma pointed out again. "So perhaps that wasn't the best decision of your life, hmm?"

"That remains to be seen." Regina smirked. "I'm quite enjoying myself."

Emma rolled her eyes and turned to continue their walk. "Only a fool would enjoy being held captive."

"Then you and my mother agree on something." Regina teased. "I'm quite foolish."

"The only thing of mine that agrees with your mother is the bullet in my pistol." Emma said. "And stop mentioning her unless you wanna get spit on. I told you to keep your head down, you're doin' a piss poor job of that so far."

Emma continued walking towards the mansion, and Regina stood in silence for a moment before she sighed and followed the blonde again. They came up to the arch, and Regina could see that is was matched with a stone wall around the perimeter of the mansion, which allowed quite some privacy. Whoever this belonged to before it came into Emma's possession was important, Regina could tell as much, and required security, especially when one considers that the mansion was not a great distance away from the heart of the village.

As they passed under the arch, the princess could see the contrast of the great, two storey mansion, and the poor condition it undoubtedly fell into in the fray of political upheaval. The grass just before it was unkempt, left to grow wild around the rubble that was scattered along what would have been the front gardens. Old barrels here, and old ship wheel there, a bench that had been broken, perhaps in a scuffle, and left unattended to for god knows how long. Were it a mansion of a nobleman still in power, the two paths leading from the arch to the mansion in a Y-formation would have been paved with stones. But these paths were of the same sand that the main path winding through the village was.

On the left of the mansion Regina could see that the large staircase lead to a terrace with what from afar seemed to be a long wooden table sitting out on it, a couple of chairs seemed toppled over. But the princess had little time to examine it, as Emma went right, towards another, smaller staircase and what seemed to be the main entrance to the building. The brunette followed the pirate captain silently, raising her brow at the sound of a bottle rolling off the platform and shattering on impact with the ground, the smell of stale rum bursting out of it and evaporating into the air.

"Oh, damn it!" she heard a man groan before he looked up. "Uh- mornin' cap'n!"

"Go get yourself cleaned up. And what have I told you about sleeping outside? You're not a bloody animal, even a drunk man has some dignity." Emma admonished calmly.

"S-sorry, cap'n…guess the boys and I got a l'il carried away." He drawled out as he balanced himself against the wall to stand. "Welcome home, cap'n."

Emma gave him a nod and a quiet groan that Regina figured on she'd heard and walked on, entering the door with Regina on her tail. The entryway wasn't large, perhaps a couple of meters. But it was wide enough to hold a couple of crates, some torn netting, and some rope on the right side of the door, and two upholstered benches on the left. When they passed it into the main room, Regina's eyes immediately fell to the massive dining room table that dominated the room. It could seat twenty-six people and it, as well as the chairs, were finely made - as if by the best craftsman. But it was a mess. There were chairs that were never placed back towards the table properly, and the amount of empty bottles and food trays that lay on the table were seemingly endless. The white table cloth was stained with food and rum and what might have been blood, but Regina decided it was strawberry jam. She felt better about it that way.

The room itself was fairly large, and held two seating sets of two sofas each, upholstered with beautifully embroidered blue and off-white striped fabric, with a few armchairs on each side matching them as well. There was a spiral staircase in the far left corner of the room, and two doors in the right wall, while across from her Regina could see the door that clearly lead to the back garden which was wide open and letting the bright sun spill into the house even more that the three high windows that stood beside it. But despite her desire to explore the interesting house, she followed Emma on to the left. This was when she saw the archway for the first time, which lead into a large, splendid study. Here, Regina stopped, taking in the scene before her as Emma's back retreated away from her and straight on. To Regina's left, the wall was completely lined with windows, the ones she had seen earlier outside, and just further up there was a table with multiple chests, crates, ropes, and some papers spilling out of one particular chest. On her right it seemed to follow the same pattern, but parallel to the table was a chest of drawers on top of which stood two wooden model ships, and further down there was a globe table. She'd only ever seen anything like it in the war room of the castle back home, the few times she managed to sneak in and take a look and just get an idea of the happenings in there.

Right in the far centre of the room, there was a platform which held a large desk, Where Emma was currently taking off her hat and coat. The sunlight that spilled in from the windows behind her made her blonde hair shine and her pale features almost disappear, an image Regina could only compare with an angel's. She must have been staring though, because the next moment she was being scrutinised by the blonde's green eyes.

"What's the matter with you?" Emma asked.

"Huh? Oh…nothing, captain." Regina looked away. "This is quite the abode."

"It serves it's purpose." Emma said as she sat down at the desk.

"And what exactly is that then?" Regina asked as she slowly approached Emma. Sitting at the desk atop that platform, she looked…almost regal, Regina noticed. Like she was running this whole island off a throne. Well, Regina thought, she did call herself a queen of the seas.

"Questions again, princess?" Emma sighed as she unrolled a piece of parchment that had been sitting on the desk. Regina could only see, through the sun shining from the window onto the paper, a bunch of numbers scrawled on it.

"Well…I was just-" Regina tried, but a knock interrupted them.

"S'cuse me cap'n." One of the men Regina recognised from the ship was standing at the door with an open crate full of what Regina could see were documents. "Your papers from the ship."

"What took you so long?" Emma put down the parchment she was holding on the desk and walked over to him. She looked around in the box, counting under her breath and looking at a few of the papers before she made a motion towards her desk, directing the man. He nodded silently and moved quietly to place the box by Emma's desk gingerly, as if he were carrying sheets of gold, rather than parchment, while Emma looked at the couple of papers she'd taken from the box.

"Don't forget to gather the papers from the men, I need to know everything arrived where it was meant to." Emma instructed.

"Yes ma'am- I-I mean sir!…sorry…sir…" the man mumbled and blubbered before Emma made a dismissive hand motion and he scurried off.

"Hmm, I was right about the intimidation then." Regina commented.

"Yet you remain to be outspoken, as if someone bloody asked." Emma quipped as she made her way back to her desk and sat down.

"Apologies, I was merely making an observation." Regina said, a small smirk on her lips.

"In the future, make them silently, I'm working and don't need distracting." Emma said as she began to pull out the papers from the box by her desk and spread them out, effectively filling up her workspace.

"How you get anything done with so much clutter is a mystery to me." Regina raised a brow.

"I feel the same about how someone hasn't shot you yet." Emma muttered under her breath. "Why don't you go explore the house and leave me alone hmm?"

"Not afraid I'll run off?" Regina asked. Emma rolled her eyes.

"Beginning to think I wouldn't mind that as much." She sighed. "Besides, it's a small island and you're a city girl. If I don't find you in two days I'll assume you either drowned or got eaten by a jaguar in the jungles…or you ended up abducted by one of the men on this island…Don't know which fate is worse."

"You don't think quite highly of the men on this island, for someone who clearly has all their respect." Regina observed.

"The work I had to put in getting their respect has lost them mine, ironically." Emma said with a sigh. "Now be off, I'm busy."

Regina observed the captain for quite a bit longer silence. Her process was quite simple. She would study one of the papers and take notes down on the larger sheet she'd been looking at before. With the princess' observations, and the way Emma muttered under her breath as she spoke to keep track of what she was doing, it didn't take long for Regina to realise she was actually keeping records and accounts of the supplies she'd had on board the ship, possibly comparing what she had on departure with what she came in with on arrival. But the desk was cluttered, and it was only a matter of time until…

"That would be…" Emma muttered before she began looking for a paper. "Where is it? Oh blast it…"

She would have turned the desk upside down looking for it, and she was about to start doing so, but Regina noticed a paper that had fallen off the desk onto the floor in front of it and she picked it up, looking over it and realising this might be the missing link the captain was distressing over.

"Looking for this?" Regina held the paper out to her.

"I told you not to-" Emma was about to yell, but she looked at the paper with familiarity in her eyes and Regina raised a brow with a small smirk at her and Emma snatched the paper out of her hand, clearing her throat.

"Thank you." She said quietly.

"Glad to be of service." Regina smiled at her. She managed, now standing closer to the blonde's desk, to look at all her papers. They were records. But not of provisions for her ship. Or well, not only. They were records of what Emma and her crew managed to steal off the ships they encountered and attacked, and then which provisions were given to which people in the village…Regina realised then what was happening. Emma was constantly resupplying the entire village with supplies. Cloth for the seamstress, flour for the baker, wood for the carpenter, and so on. The brunette's eyes fell on the busy captain for a moment in awe. She wasn't looking at the ruthless pirate Emma tried to make herself appear to be…she was looking at a woman who was doing her utmost to keep her community running.

"Shall I get a painter to draw you a portrait? It might last longer, lass." Emma quipped, finally looking up at the brunette.

"I'm sorry." Regina took two paces away. "I was just uhm…"

"Well if you're gonna speak, do so clearly lass." Emma sighed.

"I was just…wondering what the best was to organise your desk was." Regina said with a smile. "It might help you…keep track of all your papers."

Emma looked up at her with a quirked brow before her eyes scanned her desk. She let out a soft sigh.

"Alright then, what were you thinking?"

Chapter Text

"See? These ledgers are much better than loose papers." Regina said as she put another ledger into the crate. They had spent an hour trying to figure out the best way for Emma to reorganize everything. The pirate captain wouldn't admit it out loud, but Regina had singlehandedly made her work much less stressful.

"I suppose I never learned how to do this properly…one doesn't exactly plan for all this." Emma shrugged.

"It's never too late." Regina said, sending a smile in the pirate's direction. Emma looked up at her and they held each other's gaze for a silent moment.

"Aye…I suppose so." Emma said. She looked down and cleared her throat when she caught wind of what was happening. "Thank you for your help, lass."

"It's no bother, captain." Regina said. "Much better to have something to do, and it's for a good cause."

"You're helping a pirate." Emma chuckled. "How is that a good cause?"

"I'm helping a pirate who's whole reason for her life of piracy is to keep her home surviving." Regina said, looking up at Emma again. "I don't see any better cause."

"You don't think it would be better for us to surrender to your mother freely?" Emma asked. Regina rolled her eyes.

"And have you end up in the gallows?" she said. "Besides, I know too little of the truth of this place to make that judgment myself…perhaps if you told me more…"

Emma sighed. "It's not safe, lass…let's just say that your mother has more secrets than you think. Secrets you wouldn't do well knowing when you go back home."

"If I go back home." Regina said after a beat.

"Well when your mother finally sends word her message has been received…" Emma shrugged. "I'm a pirate but I'm no liar lass, I won't keep you here if my request is met."

"I never thought you would." Regina said. "But I'm not so sure that request will be met."

"You think your mother doesn't care enough for you to do so?" Emma asked. Regina sighed.

"I think she's too lost in her pride to let herself negotiate with pirates." She said. "No offence, of course."

"None taken." Emma said.

"So I think you'll find, captain, that I might be staying longer than you think." The princess said, putting another ledger into the box with a sigh. "Excuse me, I need some air."

She stepped out of the office and exited the mansion through the back door in the dining room. The gardens were and unkempt as the rest of the place. But the farther the gardens went, the closer to the jungle they were, and with no kind of fence or wall separating the two, it actually created a beautiful build up. The wild gardens of the captain's mansion something like a miniature version of the wild jungles of cape black. The only thing that reminded you that this was a habituated area was the small house on a hill overlooking the mansion, the path to which was made of stone and seemed to be connected to the left-most side of the mansion, and then a staircase to lead you up the hill and to the smaller house. Regina remembered Ruby mentioning something about a guest house. She figured that's what she'd been talking about.

Her mind wandered back to the captain and their conversation. Emma was so sure she would end up taking her back home, a logical expectation, considering that was the whole point of Regina's supposed 'abduction.' The brunette scoffed to herself. How could she possible be enjoying herself so much while she was meant to be a prisoner? She was certain that if it were anyone else besides Emma calling the shots, she would be locked up somewhere and left to starve until her mother answered the message left with the ambassador, enduring god knows what until then. She shuddered at the thought, and thanked her lucky stars for Emma.

That was another thing. What the hell was she doing with the captain? Trying to…win her over? Even she herself wasn't sure. Whatever it was, she was caught between finding the whole exchange exciting and downright foolish. Her mother's usual words drifted back to her just then. Naive, silly girl. She always hated her mother for saying those things to her, but for a moment she wondered if she were right. Perhaps she was naive in thinking that Emma was doing anything more than bear her presence until such a time came when she would give her back in exchange for a few chests full of gold. Perhaps she was silly to think that she and the pirate shared some kind of connection. Her mind wandered back to the kiss on the ship and she sighed. That was the first time she'd kissed someone, romantically, anyway. And it was done in the spur of a confusing moment, but thinking about it still sent chills up her spine like they had during the act. The way Emma wrapped her arms around her and pulled her so close. She'd never felt like that before, and despite her mother's attempts at sending her out with suitors, she'd never found one who made her feel as she does when she's near Emma.

"Regina!" Belle said. Regina was pulled out of her thoughts when her best friend's arms were around her.

"Belle." She sighed with a smile, turning in the younger girl's arms to reciprocate the hug.

"This place…It's beautiful…although it could use a serious clean up." Belle said. Regina rolled her eyes. Her friend had a penchant for being a neat freak.

"The captain's private study is magnificent." The princess remarked.

"You were in her private study?" Belle asked. Regina blushed for a moment at the implications of the question.


"Why are you blushing?" Belle asked. Regina suddenly felt a bit like a fool, having completely misinterpreted the meaning behind Belle's obviously innocent question.

"It…must be the heat." Regina fanned her face with her hand to play it off. "Anyway, yes, it's a total mess but it's quite…regal…one could say."

"Hmm." Belle narrowed her eyes. "How would a captain come to possess such elegant lodgings?"

"Not through marriage, she made that abundantly clear." Regina giggled. Belle joined in the laughter.

"You asked her if she was married?"

"It's a logical question for a woman her age, is it not?" Regina asked.

"Something tells me she isn't the marrying type, but I suppose you would know more about her than I do, considering you've spent so much time with her." Belle said teasingly.

"And just what might you be implying?" Regina asked.

"Oh nothing." Belle shrugged innocently.

"And I suppose you've spent no time speaking to Ruby at all?" Regina asked. Belle's cheeks instantly matched the shade Regina's were but a moment ago.

"I…well…yes, we have…she's quite…uhm…" Belle stammered.

"My my, I've never seen you lose your grasp on your vocabulary, Belle." Regina smirked. "Perhaps I'm not the only one who's enjoying herself more than I should be."

"I suppose not." Belle said quietly. "Regardless…we should both stop before we get ourselves into some kind of trouble or other."

"Belle, look at us, we're standing outside of a mansion on a remote island surrounded by pirates…I feel like the time for caution has passed." Regina sighed, her earlier conflict swelling up in her chest again.

"So what would you suggest, then?" Belle asked. Regina gritted her teeth, wrapping her arms around herself and stepping away to look beyond the gardens to the jungle again.

"I don't know…" she said quietly, her voice barely breaking whisper levels. "I don't think I know anything anymore."

"Regina?" Belle asked, stepping closer to the princess. "What's wrong?"

"Beyond the obvious?" Regina scoffed. "I don't think I have the ability to explain it just yet."

"You…" Belle placed a gentle hand on her best friend's shoulder. "You're not scared, are you?"

The way she asked the question wasn't in ridicule for Regina's fear…It was confirming that no Regina wasn't scared, at least not for the reasons she should have been…the fear of any possible danger or death or injury or anything else one might feel while being held captive, they weren't present.

"Are you?" Regina asked, finally looking back to the other brunette.

"I…don't know." Belle sighed. "I know I should be, I know it would be only logical for me to feel terrified of our situation…But…with Ruby keeping me by her side so closely…I don't feel what I think I should be feeling. It's foolish, I know…but I almost feel…"

"Safe?" Regina asked. Belle nodded to her, and the princess returned the nod, a silent way of saying she felt exactly the same.

"The captain does a horrible job of trying to distance herself." Regina rolled her eyes. "God…what's wrong with us?"

"Well…at least if I'm going mad, I'm glad to know you're there with me." Belle said. Regina looked over at Belle and gave her an amused smirk.

"Yes, insanity will be fun as long as I have you around…as it goes with just about everything else." She chuckled, getting the younger girl to do so as well.

"You never told me what happened between you and the captain after she saved you from drowning." Belle asked.

"Oh…" Regina blushed.

"Regina?" Belle gave her a knowing look.

"I uhm…" Regina cleared her throat. "Well…She was quite angry…"

"She didn't…hurt you or anything?" Belle asked.

"No." Regina shook her head with finality. "Nothing of the sort…she gave me some of her spare clothing because I was soaking wet."

"Yes…" Belle dragged out. "And then what?"

"I uh…" Regina gulped. "There's not much else to tell."

"Isn't there?" Belle asked, a knowing look in her eyes.

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you." Regina sighed.

"Regina I'm stuck on a remote island surrounded by pirates. You could tell me she grew wings and flew us the rest of the way here and I would believe you." Belle said.

"You really do read too many fairy tales Belle." Regina gave her a concerned look, all whilst trying not to imagine Emma sprouting wings.

"Stop trying to change the subject and tell me!" Belle insisted. Regina blushed again, looking down to the stone floor beneath their feet.

"I…I kissed her." She said quietly.

"You…what?" Belle asked. Regina sighed. "Regina!"

"What?" Regina asked. "I was caught up in this moment and she was looking at me so intensely and…sure, she was trying to convince me she was ruthless, merciless and as dangerous as they come. She was angry, she was trying to scare me…but she was staring at me so intensely and…I don't know what came over me…All I know is that it was…"

"What?" Belle asked. Regina sighed and looked at her best friend with conflict in her eyes.

"It was the most amazing thing I've ever felt." She stepped down off the platform and sat down on it with a huff. Belle followed suit and gently wrapped an arm around her best friend's shoulders.

"I know how you're feeling." Belle said. "Everything's so new and confusing…and despite everything it is a little exciting."

"It's like I don't know myself anymore Belle." Regina sighed. "Maybe my mother is right, maybe I am nothing but a naive…stupid girl."

"Enough." Belle chided. "I've always thought that your mother doesn't see you…not the real you. And now that I'm free to say it, I will. I can't wait till she's gone and you're on that throne. You're going to be twice the queen she is and everyone is going to love you for it, and you want to know what I think?"

"What?" Regina asked, a small smile appearing on her face.

"I think she knows it. And she's trying to break you down because she's jealous. She wants to be the most powerful being on this earth, you can see it even in the way she speaks. You said it yourself, she lied to everyone about the war between Misthaven and the Isles." Belle said.

"If Emma speaks the truth, then yes, she did." Regina said.

"And she wants to conquer you as well…She wants you to follow what she says and does blindly because she knows the people love you more than they could ever love her. Don't let her break you, you're stronger than her and her manipulation, Regina." Belle said, nudging the older girl playfully. Regina looked up at her with a smile.

"What would I do without you, Belle?" she said. Belle shrugged.

"We'll never have to find out." Belle grinned at her and the princess chuckled, wrapping her arms around her best friend's waist and rest her head on her shoulder.

"Never." Regina promised.

They sat in silence, basking in the sunshine and the sounds of all the exotic creatures they'd never heard before. What they didn't hear was the silent footsteps of a captain walking away from the garden door.

Chapter Text

Ruby had just walked into the mansion and was heading towards the captain's office when she saw Regina exiting and going to the gardens. She heard Belle follow her friend behind her but paid it no mind as she walked into the study.

"Captain." Ruby said.

"Ruby…" Emma sighed. Ruby opened the satchel attached to her belt and pulled out a thick roll of papers held together by a string, handing them to the blonde.

"The supply receipts." She said to her best friend and Emma took them and began inspecting them.

"I thought Johan was collecting them." Emma said.

"Aye, but I told him if he didn't bring them to me within the hour I'd give Granny his balls for her birthday." Ruby smirked. "Old bird could do with a new set of earrings."

Emma rolled her eyes and gave Ruby a bemused smile. "Something tells me those aren't the pearls she's looking for."

Ruby shrugged as she kicked a chair away from the table and dropped lazily into it, slouching and putting her feet up on the table as she pulled out her flask and took a swig. "Saw the princess stepping out of here."

"What about it?" Emma said, distracted by her paper work and trying to see how she would incorporate the receipts into the new system Regina had introduced her to.

"You barely want me in here, but she's welcome as she pleases? I'm almost insulted." Ruby teased.

"Yeah well, she didn't set a fire in my house last time she was drunk." Emma shot back.

"It was one time, get over it." Ruby scoffed.

"I keep important work here, Ruby." Emma reminded her as she made her way back to the desk and sat down.

"Yeah yeah, I know." Ruby sighed as she stood and followed her best friend. "What's with the books? You clean up for your guest?"

"It's easier to keep track this way." Emma sighed as she opened a journal.

"Nearly twenty years we've been doing this, Swan, I never saw you change your ways of keeping your papers." Ruby commented.

"Yeah well it's never too late to learn." Emma reiterated what Regina had said earlier. Ruby raised a brow at her.

"Look at you being all optimistic." The brunette remarked. "What changed the wind in your sails?"

"Why does something have to change?" Emma shrugged. "I'm a lot different than how I was when I was sixteen Ruby."

"Yeah tell me about it, I still remember that white dress of yours…you looked so…pure." Ruby smirked.

"Enough." Emma sighed.

"That princess kind of reminds me of you at that age." Ruby said. "A little naive but a hell of a mouth on you."

"I'm glad you're enjoying a walk down memory lane." Emma sighed. "I don't have time for such pleasantries."

"Oh come on." Ruby waved off. "You're gonna work yourself into an early grave the way you keep on."

"Unless someone shoots me first." Emma sighed.

"It'll be a cold day in hell when a single bullet gets strong enough to take you." Ruby laughed.

"No one's immortal, Ruby." Emma reminded her. "Not even those who've cheated death a hundred times over."

"Then keep cheating." Ruby said. "This cape will be lost the second you're gone."

Emma looked up at her for a moment before a small smile appeared on her face.

"I said I wasn't immortal, I didn't say I planned on dying anytime soon." She said. "But I'm glad to see you'd miss me so much."

"Oh fuck off." Ruby rolled her eyes and walked up to the window to look outside of it, effectively hiding the small smile on her face she always got when interacting with Emma. "So what of the girls? Do you think the queen will make the move now that it's hers?"

"Unless the ambassador and his crew are shark food." Emma said. "But we didn't do extensive damage to their ship, and Misthaven isn't too far off…unless that captain of theirs lost course somewhere along the way."

"Gaston…" Ruby scoffed, moving off the platform and to the model ships she loved to fiddle with far too much for Emma's comfort. "Sounds like the name of a pansy if there ever was one."

"As long as he gets the ambassador home, I couldn't care much less." Emma shrugged. "I just need the queen to respond to my message."

"And when she does?" Ruby asked.

"We move." Emma shrugged again, leaning back in her chair. "Simple as that."

"Is it now?" Ruby asked, looking a little over her shoulder. "You won't put up a fight for the princess?"

"Why would I? All I want's the gold." Emma said.

"Of course it is." Ruby rolled her eyes.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Emma asked.

"I don't mean to offend, captain." Ruby said, Emma rolled her eyes.

"Knock it off." She sighed.

"Emma." Ruby said, stepping up to her again. "You and I both know there's more to those girls than the gold they're worth."

"I know that's what you intended when you laid your eyes on the Ambassador's girl." Emma said. "The princess-"

"Is to you what Belle is to me." Ruby cut in. "You might be fooling the rest of the crew and the princess, Emma, hell you might be even fooling yourself into believing that…But you don't fool me."

"What do you mean?" Emma said, her jaw clenched.

"I see the way you look at her. I saw the fear in your eyes when she fell off the ship in the middle of that storm…If it were anyone else you'd let them drown." Ruby said. "Maybe even me."

"You wouldn't be thick enough to get yourself dropped off the ship in the first place." Emma said.

"Aye, that might be true." Ruby said. "But never the less, you wouldn't jump into stormy seas to save my drunken ass if I did."

"Yeah well we don't get the gold if we don't have the girl." Emma said, getting up and busying herself with her papers again. Ruby sighed and placed a hand on her shoulder.

"Just cause you're a pirate doesn't mean you don't feel things, Swan." Ruby said. "If it helps, I see the way she looks at you, too. Never saw a girl so smitten in my life."

"She looks smitten to you?" Emma asked with a raised brow.

"I said I saw a girl look smitten, I never said which." Ruby smirked at her. "I'll be off, captain, I have a guest to entertain…as do you."

Without another word, Ruby stepped out of the study and disappeared elsewhere into the house. Emma waited a moment before she got up and followed her, not wanting to leave the conversation there. But as she moved to go outside to the garden, thinking Ruby had left to go to the guest house, she heard saw Regina and Belle standing on the porch and hid beside the door. She was never particularly one to eavesdrop, and knew their conversation wasn't really any of her business, but something she chalked up to sheer and dangerous curiosity made her stay and sit in silence as she heard what they were talking about.

"I…I kissed her." Regina said quietly.

"You…what?" Belle asked. Regina sighed. "Regina!"

"What?" Regina asked. "I was caught up in this moment and she was looking at me so intensely and…sure, she was trying to convince me she was ruthless, merciless and as dangerous as they come. She was angry, she was trying to scare me…but she was staring at me so intensely and…I don't know what came over me…All I know is that it was…"

"What?" Belle asked. Regina sighed.

"It was the most amazing thing I've ever felt."

Emma wasn't sure just then what was happening to her, but her heart started beating faster. For a moment she wondered if she were having a heart attack, but she wasn't in pain, she wasn't having trouble breathing. She wasn't sure what was taking over her just then but it felt akin to the adrenaline she'd felt all those years ago when she had just started this life of piracy of hers. Back when it was all new and…exciting.

She didn't have the mind to hear the rest of Regina and Belle's conversation, she didn't even realise how long she'd been standing there, the only thing that brought her out of her rampaging thoughts was the sudden silence she heard. The girls had stopped talking. She stepped away, forgetting all about Ruby. She didn't want Regina to step back inside and find her standing there, so she went back the way she came and into her office. She didn't have the mind for paperwork just then, but at least she could put up the act of working if Regina walked back in there…she wasn't sure if she wanted her to or not, not because she was tired of the girl, like she'd tried to convince Regina she was earlier…but she didn't know if she could keep her facade up so well right then. Perhaps the heat was getting to her more than usual, because her palms were sweating and her face felt hot.

This couldn't be, she thought, there was no way in hell that princess could feel anything for her other than curiosity. She was young, and she had said it herself that her mother didn't allow her much freedom. She was just taking this on as an adventure. Emma gritted her teeth. She couldn't get caught up in the silly curiosities of a girl.

Ruby had shown up, and Belle went quiet and gotten nervous around her easily. But when the slightly taller brunette told her to follow her to the guest house, the younger girl gave Regina a parting smile and followed her host without question. Regina rolled her eyes at her best friend's behavior and decided she too should return to the captain.

She stepped into the office, just in time to see Emma slamming her hands down on the desk in apparent frustration. The blonde's back was towards the door, so the princess could not see her expression, but the cursing under Emma's breath was a clear sign of some kind of aggravation.

"Emma?" She asked gently as she stepped up closer, but not too close. "Is everything alright?"

"I'm fine." Emma said with an annoyed sigh.

"Are you su-"

"I said I'm fine." Emma yelled, rounding on the princess in time to see her stepping back in shock.

"I'm sorry…I was just-"

"You were just." Emma spat as she walked over, trying to make herself look busy. "Why don't you just mind your own damned business, child?"

"Have I done something?" Regina asked.

"You've done a great deal of things." The blonde huffed. "None of which involved keeping your goddamned nose out of other people's business."

Regina rolled her eyes. "What happened to get you so riled up? I thought we were…"

"You thought we were what?" Emma demanded, turning back to her.

"I…I don't know…" Regina sighed.

"That's right, you don't know." Emma said, stepping up to her again. "You don't know anything, you're just a lost, confused little girl. You think you know so much of the real world princess, you're still living in your fantasy stories. And for the record, there is no 'we' in any of this, don't get it twisted. There's me, and there's you, and I'm keeping you here until I can sell you back to your mother for the gold I need. And when that happens, you go back to being a prissy little princess and I go back to doing what I do best. Being a pirate. So do what I tell you and keep your head down, and your mouth shut."

Regina hardened her eyes and clenched her jaw, her fingernails digging into her palms as she held her fists shut to stop herself from slapping the pirate. She didn't know why Emma was doing this, but she knew that it wasn't as random and out of the blue as it seemed. She'd play the pirate's game, but only for a while.

"Fine, suit yourself, Captain."

And with that, she left the room.

Chapter Text

Regina had stormed out of the room and outside to the front garden. She wiped away the tears that had begun to sting her eyes angrily, she would not cry over some stupid…pirate. She owed Emma nothing, she was trying to remind herself of that. But despite how hard she tried to write the blonde off along with the rest of her crew as nothing but rotten sea dogs, something in her heart knew she was just lying to herself to try and make herself feel better.

It was this internal battle that was interrupted.

"Excuse me…Miss Regina?" a woman said in a cockney-like accent. The brunette turned around to find herself face to face with a woman who's skin had clearly been under the sun for too long. She had red hair and wore a dress that looked like it had seen better days and had been repaired numerous times.

"Uh, yes?" Regina said to her, trying to hide the redness around her eyes.

"I'm sorry to disturb ya miss…It's just that the cap'n's asked me to show you to yer room." The woman said.

"Oh…Alright." Regina said.

"If you'll just follow me please Miss." The woman said. Regina gave her a nod and the woman turned, leading her back into the house and through the dining room. They climbed up the spiral staircase and Regina looked around. While she knew she was in the same mansion, the upper level felt entirely different to it's lower counterpart. They stood in a narrow hallway, a long, old and faded rug running through the length of it. Looking towards the right, Regina saw a wooden double door, clearly indicating a room which held a bit more importance than the others that ran along the walls. Regina would chance a guess to say that that was Emma's room, but she wouldn't bother checking.

"Just down here, miss." The woman said, turning to the direction towards the master room. Regina gulped for a moment, unsure of what was happening exactly…was she being taken to Emma's room?

As quickly as her suspicions came, they were banished, because the woman stopped just a door away from the master bedroom. A single door. Regina sighed, she didn't know if it was in relief or disappointment, and she refused to dwell on it. The woman opened the door and Regina stepped inside, giving the room a quick scan. The bed was small, clearly only made for one. And it sat against the wall underneath a window which let the sunlight spill in beautifully. Along the wall across from the door there was a small writing desk and a wardrobe, and on the wall perpendicular to that, a vanity unit with a wooden chair sitting in front of it.

"Cap'n said she knows it's not what yer used to…but it's the best she's got." The woman said, breaking Regina out of her inner thoughts. "Not sure what she could be meanin' by that."

"It's alright." Regina nodded. She hesitated with her thoughts for a moment. "Tell the captain I said thank you."

"I will miss." The woman nodded. "Is the sun burning yer eyes miss? They look awfully red…"

Regina was startled for just a moment, mostly because she was used to obvious physical evidence of one being upset going blatantly ignored. It was just etiquette, apparently, to not point it out. But then, Regina remembered, she wasn't in Misthaven, things were far different here than back home, she supposed the common norms would be as well.

"I uhm…" Regina stumbled, unsure of what excuse to bring up.

"Pardon me for askin' miss, but 'ave you been cryin?" the woman took a step closer to her, sympathy in her eyes which is more than what Regina could hope for in her current situation.

"It's…been a long day." Regina said. The woman nodded and pulled out a small handkerchief, offering it to Regina.

"I heard the captain earlier…seemed upset with ye." The woman said.

"Apparently so." Regina sighed, giving her a grateful smile as she took the handkerchief and used it to gently wipe away the stray tears she could feel on her eyes.

"In my experience miss, you can't let 'er get to ye…she sometimes says things without meanin' to…" the woman said. "She gets tired ye see…off all the workin' and the sailin' and all that…It's not right o' course, yellin' at innocent crew like that. Most o' the time it's the men she yells at…I've nary heard her yell at a lady before."

"I must be special then." Regina said sarcastically.

"You might be." The woman said bluntly. "Only woman I can say she's ever been cross with 'as been first mate Lucas…and…between you and me miss, the cap'n wouldn't be able to live without 'er…it's funny…sometimes the people ye care about most is the ones you fight with…Strange things, feelin's are, aren't they miss?"

"Yes…" Regina said, mildly distracted as she took on the weight of what she was being told, and the implications they held. "Quite strange…"

"Oh well…I won't bother you no longer." The woman took a half step away before turning back. "If ye'll be needin' anythin' miss, all you's gotta do is ask…Cap'n's asked me to make sure you've got everythin' you need miss, so just say the word."

"Thank you…uhm…" Regina hesitated. "What's your name?"

"Name's Abigail, miss, but people 'round here call me Abbie if you'd like." The woman said. Regina smiled at her, gently passing back her handkerchief.

"That's a very sweet name, Abbie." She said. "Thank you, for your help."

"We all have our part in this world miss, I'm happy to play mine." Abbie gently took the handkerchief back and gave a slow nod as if bowing her head before she stepped out of the room. Regina sighed, unsure what to make of everything she'd just been told. It seemed to her that Emma's outburst was just another attempt to mask how she's been feeling about the situation. Regina could have understood that, but what bothered her was that it happened so quickly after she and the captain seemed to take a step forward. Well, she supposed, if the captain was going to try and dance two paces back, Regina would just have to lead another step forward.

"This is a beautiful place." Belle commented quietly.

"Thanks, love." Ruby smirked at her. Belle gave her a nervous smile before she looked away, pretending to take in the relatively small guest house. Ruby bit her lip and let out a soft sigh. This girl wasn't anything like anyone else and she wasn't as easy to talk to. She'd forgotten what it was like to be around aristocracy…

"So uhm…" Ruby cleared her throat. "I've only got one large bed in here…but I suppose if you want I could talk to the captain and see if she can spare a room in the main house…mind you she's only got one private room in there and I'd imagine she's given that one to the princess so…"

"Uhm." Belle swallowed nervously. "Well…we did share a bed on the ship."

"Well yeah." Ruby shrugged. "You…do what you want. I'll speak to the captain if that's what you really want but I don't care either way. Make yourself at home, Belle, I think you'll be here a while."

Ruby walked further into the house and sat down on an arm chair and began unlacing her boots. Belle bit her lip nervously as she continued to look around, spotting a bookshelf and stepped up to it. She examined the titles on the shelf, some she was only familiar with because her father owned copies but she'd never read them, others were totally foreign to her. But then her eyes landed on a title that made her heart soar and a gasp escape her mouth.

"You alright?" Ruby turned to look at her. Belle turned and nodded, biting her lip in excitement as she looked back at the book, her hands itching to grab it.

"Uhm…could…could I uhm…" she asked nervously. Ruby raised a brow and looked back at her again, looking at the way Belle was looking back and forth between her and the book.

"You can read anything you like, lass." She said. Belle flashed a happy grin at her before she picked up the book and began flipping through it like she knew it well.

"This is my favourite story." Belle said, stepping over to where Ruby was sitting and taking a seat on the armchair near hers. "Have you ever read it? It's so wonderful isn't it?"

"I haven't, actually." Ruby said.

"Oh you should! It's so wonderful and thrilling and-"

"That's great." Ruby said, putting her boots aside. "But I won't be reading it anytime soon."

"Why not?" Belle deflated. Ruby turned to look at her and sighed at the dejected look on the younger girl's face.

"Take no offense, lass, I'm sure it's a wonderful story." Ruby said, looking down at the faded carpet beneath her feet and sighing. "It's just that I can't read."

"Oh…" Belle said, gently closing the book. She bit her lip and swallowed thickly. "I'm sorry…I didn't mean to…"

"It's alright." Ruby nodded. "You read it, enjoy it for the both of us huh?"

Belle gave her a smile and nodded gently. "Thank you, Ruby."

Ruby gave her a smirk and a nod and ducked her head to turn away, sighing at the way her heart was beating from being smiled at. Get it together, Lucas, you're not a little girl anymore.

But gods did she feel like one in this girl's presence.

Belle immediately opened the book to a section of good progression, biting her lip in thought before some kind of realisation came onto her face and she flipped a couple more pages, before leaning back in the chair and reading leisurely.

"I know I said I don't read much so I'm by no means an expert…" Ruby smirked. "But aren't you supposed to start reading from the first page?"

"Oh…" Belle blushed a little. "I was actually reading the story at home before the trip…I wanted to bring it with me on the ship but I didn't want to risk damaging the book…I'd say it was a wise choice considering the state you and your crew left the ship in."

"It wasn't that bad." Ruby shrugged and she got up and moved to the decanter that sat in the corner of the room. "We left it intact enough for your father and his crew to sail back did we not?"

"Fair enough…" Belle drawled.

"It's not like they put up too much of a fight." Ruby muttered.

"They didn't?" Belle raised a brow. "From what I heard from where I was hiding, it was quite the battle."

"With all due respect love." Ruby smirked at her over her glass. "I've had harder fights in the tavern over grabbing the wrong flagon of ale."

"Hmm." Belle said. "And here I thought Gaston would be a tough match."

"HAH." Ruby blurted, covering her mouth. "Forgive me, love, but he was the least of our worries. I knocked the sword clear out of his hand into the ocean and he surrendered immediately. After that the crew slowly followed."

"Ah, the champion of the would-be battle then…that explains quite a bit." Belle frowned slightly.

"What d'you mean?" Ruby asked. Belle sighed.

"When we were on the ship…you made a comment of liking me…" Belle bit her lip. "And the captain gave the order for the men to grab me…I was your prize."

"That…" Ruby sighed. "That's not completely true."

"Isn't it?" Belle shut her book and sat up. "Seems like it from what I can see."

Ruby rolled her eyes. "You wanna believe that that's your problem."

"Then what is it then, because my father only said I was his daughter when they grabbed me…" Belle said accusingly.

"Look." Ruby slammed her glass down. "You can stay here, you can read all the bloody books you want. But you stop hurling accusations at me. Don't forget you're a prisoner here. However comfortable a prisoner you might be."

"You're starting to sound like your captain." Belle crossed her arms.

"And you're starting to sound like that prissy princess friend of yours." Ruby shot back. Belle sighed.

"Was I your prize?" Belle asked again. Ruby sighed in response.

"Usually, the captain let's us choose a prize, yes…The men tend to enjoy executing someone…Captain gave me that option, but she also gave me the option of…" she trailed off.

"Of what?" Belle asked.

"Well I'm no stranger to bedding a man." Ruby shrugged and kicked the floorboards aimlessly. "I go for the younger ones…older ones tend to be pains in my arse…they don't live very long when that's the case."

"You were…" Belle's face turned a bright shade of red and she looked away. "…Oh…"

"But then the captain took the princess I figured…for the sake of the ransom it was out of the question." Ruby shrugged.

"I see…" Belle gulped. Ruby sighed and they stood in silence for a moment. But then Belle moved. "Excuse me."

"Belle…" Ruby sighed as she brushed past her but Belle left the guest house without another word. "…perfect."

Abbie had gotten used to seeing girls crying around the mansion, though usually it was the men's fault rather than the Captain's or the first mate's. So when she spotted a young brunette leaving the guest house looking upset - something the former tavern girl got used to noticing in other girls even if they tried their best to hide it - she couldn't help but wonder what was so different about her. First Mate Lucas was no stranger to having girls around the guest house, some were even girls Abbie knew from Widow Lucas' tavern. But none of them ever left the guest house crying…some men did, but that was beside the point, Abbie thought.

Belle sat down on an old, weathered, bench with a frustrated huff and rubbed at her eyes to keep her tears at bay. She didn't even know why she was crying. She was a prisoner, whether or not it was for gold or for Ruby's personal entertainment shouldn't have mattered. She supposed it was better to have been taken prisoner than to have Ruby execute one of the crewmen. She wasn't close with any of them besides her father - Gaston included, because he wasn't the kind of man to talk about feelings or even admit he had any - but she knew most of them had families to take care of and mouths to feed, and she knew that most of them were the breadwinners of the family. So her being taken hostage wasn't the worst that could have happened on that ship…And she supposed Ruby taking her as her prize was only the natural outcome, considering the first mate's inclinations towards women. But the way she was so gentle to her…She spoke to her so differently from how she spoke to the men and even how she spoke to the Captain. She wasn't as rough with her. She wondered if she was like that with other women as well.

She was pulled out of her thoughts when she heard footsteps and looked up to see a dirty blonde girl who didn't seem much older than herself approach her with a small smile on her face.

"Evenin' Miss…" the girl said.

"Good evening." Belle smiled at her as best she could.

"Forgive me fowardness Miss…" Abbie frowned like she wondered if that was the right word to use. "…But you're the other girl they brough 'ere today, ain't you?"

"Y-yes…" Belle nodded. She knew Ruby and Emma wanted them to keep a low profile and not let on that she was a noble or - worse yet - that Regina was the princess. But this girl never specified what kind of girls she'd heard about and Belle could only assume she'd heard that two girls had joined the crew.

"It's funny…" Abbie said, sitting down on the bench by Belle. "Girls rarely ever join the cap'n's crew…and even then the cap'n asks them to stay on land…the other girls say it's to keep 'em safe at home rather than on the ship with all the men…But you're new ain't you? You joined the cap'n on her way here…"

"We did." Belle nodded. Good, their secret was safe for now.

"If you don't mind my sayin' miss…you and Miss Regina don't seem the type o' girls that need to join a life of piracy to win yer share o' bread." The girl observed.

"You've met Regina?" Belle asked.

"Aye, I have." Abbie nodded. "Nice girl…shame she was upset cause o' the cap'n at the time…I hope I managed to help…"

"What happened with her and the captain?" Belle asked, suddenly concerned about her friend.

"I'm not entirely sure miss…All I know is that the cap'n was upset with her about something…but I don't know what happened." Abbie shrugged. "Pardon my sayin' so miss but…you seemed upset yourself just now."

"Oh…" Belle looked down for a moment and shrugged. "I was just…talking to First Mate Lucas and…well…Let's just say that something she said got to me a little bit."

"Oh…" Abbie nodded. "You can't hold it against 'er too much miss…between you and me…first mate Lucas don't think too much before she talks…she says silly things sometimes…'specially if she's had a drink or two miss…and lord knows, she likes those quite a bit."

"I can imagine." Belle chuckled.

"She dances when she's drunk too miss." Abbie giggled a little. "Why it was just before they left for their last voyage in fact, she got into the rum a bit too much…she tried to waltz me around the dinin' room miss…you shoulda seen her…it was right fun too until she tripped and landed on the couch on 'er face miss."

Belle burst out laughing at the mere thought. "That does sound like fun."

"She can be sweet when she's sober too miss…She's definitely not like the men…not when she likes you anyway…she makes some of the men cry sometimes with the names she calls 'em…but that's the men miss…even the cap'n treats the men different…and I suppose it's only fair. None o' the men treat any o' the girls the way the cap'n and first mate lucas do…Some o' them are nice of course but you know how men are…they think women are weaker than they are…"

"Oh tell me about it." Belle scoffed, the sudden image of Gaston appearing in her mind.

"And that's it really, miss, why the cap'n and the first mate act the way they do. They're a little rough around the edges miss, but it's only because they have to be in the world they live in…But…give First Mate Lucas time, miss, you'll see she's not that bad once you get to know 'er. She's really sweet miss, she just don't like to show it too much cause she don't wanna be taken advantage of miss." Abigail said with a smile that Belle couldn't help but trust. She smiled back at her and nodded.

"Thank you…uhm…Oh dear I've been so rude…What's your name? I'm Belle." Belle said, holding her hand out to shake. Abbie looked at it for a second and took it gently.

"Name's Abigail Miss…but most folks 'round 'ere call me Abbie." She said with a smile.

"Thank you so much Abbie." Belle said.

"I'm glad to 'ave made you feel better miss." Abbie said. "I should be gettin' on now miss, work to do 'round the house."

"Abbie." Belle stopped the girl. "Could you tell me where Regina is?"

"'Course miss. In the house, up the stairs, walk towards the big double doors miss and then…she's stayin' in the room right before the captain's miss. A door on the left just before the double doors miss." Abbie explained, hoping she came across clearly and that Belle wouldn't get lost.

"Thank you, Abbie." Belle said as she stood up.

"Always a pleasure miss." Abbie stood with a smile. "Let me know if you'll be needin' anythin'. I must go now I'm afraid."

Belle nodded and Abbie gave her one last parting grin before she left to go about her work. Belle sighed, glancing at the guest house she knew Ruby was still in before she turned to the mansion and walked up the steps, turning to go upstairs and find Regina.

Regina had decided to stay in her room for a while. Some space away from the captain would be best, she decided, and she didn't have much else to do. She didn't exactly like the idea of staying cooped up inside her room, she'd much rather be allowed to roam the island and explore, but she knew the captain would never allow her to leave the house unsupervised. And she didn't feel like getting into an argument, especially when she knew that captain had a point - after all this was all uncharted territory for her and she didn't know how dangerous it could be.

About as dangerous as getting captured by a pirate, most probably. She thought, but regardless. She stayed in her room.

That didn't leave her very entertained, however, and it only took a few moments of sitting on the bed with her thoughts before she decided to look around. If she couldn't explore the island she could, at the very least, explore her new lodgings.

She wasn't sure where the writing desk came from. She figured it had either already been here when Emma had taken over the mansion, but when she opened the drawer she found a couple of empty leatherbound journals, a vial of ink, and a quill. She remembered her journal at home, her only safe place in writing what she actually wants out of life where her mother can't call her silly or naive or call her hopes and dreams 'Flights of fancy.' She knew one day she'd have to take the throne, and that that required a lot of learning. But that didn't mean that she had to be as strict as her mother. She shuddered at the thought. No. If there's one thing she could always aspire to be, it would be the opposite of her mother.

She shut the drawer and left the journals for later before turning to the wardrobe and opening the doors She was a little astounded to find it full of clothes. There were a couple of leather vests, and a few more made in fine, colourful velvet. She ran her fingers over them gently to feel their material. The velvet was soft - almost as soft as the kind used to make her dresses at the palace. And, Regina noted, they looked a little older. So perhaps the reason they weren't exactly that soft (though it only differed by a little bit) was their age rather than the material's quality. The colour was beautiful, and it didn't seem faded at all, which made her think that perhaps they had been stored away for a while. There were quite a few cotton shirts as well, and they all felt just as soft as the one she was wearing, only they looked much cleaner, seeing as she'd been in hers for quite some time now, save for the one Emma had loaned her when she'd fallen into the ocean and nearly drowned…

Moving along…She thought with a slight roll of her eyes at the memory of that whole night. There was also a black coat hanging behind the shirts, gilded with golden accents. It seemed to be a little faded, and was almost turning gray as a result. But it was still an incredibly beautiful piece, Regina thought. Behind the coat there were a couple of leather trousers that to the princess looked like the ones used particularly for riding or travelling. Still they seemed comfortable enough.

None of the clothes looked like they'd ever belong to a navy man…in fact Regina wondered if they belonged to a man at all. Given their size, and the accenting and decoration of the coat, they looked like they belonged to a young woman. The thought of being able to change her cloths sounded as close to heaven as Regina could probably get at this point, but she hesitated. She didn't know if Emma had left these clothes here purposefully for her or if she'd just…forgotten them here. She closed the wardrobe, deciding to leave everything as is for now. She figured if anything, she could just ask Emma about them…later…when the thought of talking to the pirate captain didn't make her sigh in slight frustration at the mere thought of her.

Taking the room in further, she realised that, although it was dated and a little worse for wear, it was actually quite nice…in fact one would have easily thought that perhaps this room belonged to a child of noble blood in a summer house.

It hit her just then that everything very easily snapped into place. She hadn't yet solved the entire mystery, but Emma Swan's story seemed just a tad clearer in her head. If she was of noble birth, a theory Regina was steadfast in believing until she was provided with proof to the contrary, then this mansion must belong…or had belonged to her family, whoever they might have been. And the clothes then in the wardrobe must have been…Emma's. Or at least they had belonged to her when she was younger. She was sure that the trousers, at the very least, were just a bit to short for Emma now. The woman wasn't taller than her by much but the trousers in the wardrobe seemed to be Regina's size.

It was then, when all the information she'd gathered on the blonde came back to her at once, that she turned back to the writing desk, pulling the drawer open again and picking up one of the journals. She figured, if she'd have nothing better to do while she was here, then she'd document the mystery that was Captain Emma Swan.

Chapter Text

Captain Emma Swan.

The title was simple enough, Regina thought, and it listed the first and most simple detail she'd learned of the older blonde. She thought back to their journey here, and what she was able to get out of Emma in that relatively short time.

1. She was born in Misthaven

2. She knows what my mother looks like. It is possible that she 's met my mother at some point in her life.

3. She can read and write, which suggests having received an education, which in turn suggests nobility.

4. She knows the truth about the war between Misthaven and the Celestial Isles.

5. She somehow is in possession of a beautiful mansion, and has made suggestions towards the fact that she did not procure it illegally.

Regina remembered the way Emma spoke to her earlier on and resisting writing in that Emma was an ass. It also took her a moment to decide that no, her abilities in kissing were not fruitful to Regina's investigation. She sighed, leaving the journal open for the ink to dry as she put the ink and quill away. Suddenly, a gentle knock on her door startled her.

"Uhm…yes?" she said.

"Regina?" The door opened just a crack and Belle peeked in. Regina smiled at her.

"Belle. Come in." She said, feeling strange about being able to say that in an unknown house. The younger girl stepped inside the room and shut the door behind her as she took in the room.

"This room is so…sweet." Belle gave Regina an enigmatic look. "Kind of reminds me of my bedroom in the summer house by the lake…"

"Does it now?" Regina smirked at her.

"Yes I…" Belle narrowed her eyes at Regina a little. "What are you thinking?"

"Come here." Regina beckoned to her and Belle stepped closer. Regina turned and picked up the journal to show her best friend what she'd just written.

"You're documenting all the information you have on her?" Belle gave her a look.

"It will help me keep track." Regina shrugged. "And it will provide me with something to do. I'm bored."

"Or it might just provide Emma with a reason to shoot you." Belle warned. Regina rolled her eyes and shut the journal.

"She's made it painfully clear that she does not need a reason…and that she already had one even if she did." Regina shrugged. "Alas here I stand, As alive as I've ever been."

"Even more alive than when you kissed her?" Belle teased. Regina's smirk fell.

"I've taught you too well in the ways of banter." She said. Belle chuckled. "So what brings you here, in my humble lodgings, as opposed to the guest house where Ruby can entertain you?"

Belle's eyes fell to the floor and her smile disappeared. Regina's expression instantly turned concerned.


"Did Emma tell you anything about…about the fight on the ship?" Belle asked.

"If it were up to Emma she wouldn't tell me anything and I wouldn't ask questions." Regina rolled her eyes. "No, she hasn't…why?"

"Apparently Ruby was the one to defeat Gaston…or…well according to what Ruby's told me, she knocked the sword out of his hands and he surrendered…" Belle explained.

"Oh…" Regina said, resisting an eye roll. "I can't say I'm surprised, honestly."

"Me neither, truth be told." Belle shrugged. "But that's not the point."

"Then please, enlighten me." Regina gestured towards the bed for Belle to have a seat and then dropped onto the mattress next to her.

"Well…" Belle sighed. "Ruby told me that…Apparently, when they commandeer a ship, Emma let's the champion of the fight have some kind of reward."

"Oh." Regina's brow furrowed.

"Ruby said that most of the time the men choose to execute someone." Belle cringed as she said it and Regina winced when she heard it.

"That's…piracy for you I suppose." She sighed. "But she didn't execute anyone…so what's the matter?"

"The matter is that…Ruby said she's no stranger to…laying with men. But she chooses them younger because the older ones annoy her." Belle explained.

"Oh." Realization dawned on the older princess. "She intended to…"

"She said that it's out of the question now, because we're being held for ransom…" Belle sighed. "It still makes the fact that I have to sleep in her bed tonight strange."

"You have to what?" Regina looked at her.

"W-well…ugh." Belle pressed the palms of her hands against her forehead. She was getting a headache. "She said she only had one bed in the guest house and said she could ask the captain to accommodate…She made a show of saying she didn't care what I did either way and I…I said it didn't matter because we shared a bed on the ship and I don't know what I was thinking alright?"

Regina's brow raised and then a scoffed laugh escaped her throat.

"It's not funny!" Belle protested and Regina laughed harder.

"Oh Belle." She said as she tried to stop giggling at her friend's anguish.

"At least I didn't try to kiss her." Belle shot back. Regina rolled her eyes.

"That was in the heat of a moment." She waved off.

"Something was in heat." Belle muttered. Regina made a show of looking offended purely for her friend's entertainment and joined in when Belle starting laughing so hard that she fell back on the bed. The younger girl let out a sigh when they finally stopped a minute later.

"Gods…what are we doing?" she asked.

"Having some twisted form of fun." Regina shrugged.

"Pirates Regina. We're consorting with pirates." Belle said.

"Does it not feel quite a bit like some of your stories?" Regina said.

"Well…" Belle tried to beg to differ but she knew she really couldn't.

"Think about it. The young, innocent heroine gets swept away on a thrilling adventure that's equally exciting and dangerous, sticking by the side of some…gruff, rugged rapscallion, until such a time where she ultimately and inevitably falls in love with him…or her." Regina went on.

"…Regina." Belle stopped her.

"What? I thought it would be your kind of thing." Regina said.

"It is but Regina you basically said we're inevitably going to fall in love with our pirate captors." Belle said.

"Belle I already kissed Emma and you basically want to cozy up to Ruby while you sleep." Regina said.

"I am not falling in love with a pirate." Belle said.

"Okay fine, we can go home and you can marry Gaston and live happily ever after with your…how many children did he want, four? Eight? Fifteen?" Regina asked.

"You're exaggerating to make a point." Belle called her out.

"You have fun with your twenty children and the blandest soldier in history." Regina went on. "But between you and I, Ruby is so much prettier."

"She is…" Belle sighed. "But you don't really think we're going to fall in love with them, do you?"

Regina shrugged as she sat up. "What does it matter? Either we do or we don't. If we don't then, fine…if we do well…then we do. There's not much one can do once they've gone through the painstaking process of falling in love."

"So you're saying it's in the hands of fate and we just have to…sit back and enjoy the ride?" Belle asked.

"Exactly." Regina grinned at her like it was the best plan ever. Belle sighed.

"I suppose there's not much I can do, at this point." She said as she sat up.

"There's something I can, however." Regina stood up.

"Wh-what? What are you going to do?" Belle sat up.

"I'm going to go downstairs and face the captain once more. I'm not spending however long we're going to be here holed up in my room pretending to be upset with her for saying something ridiculous when frankly, I'm bored and she's wonderfully entertaining." Regina said.

"Regina she keeps telling you to shut up." Belle said.

"I know, and I'm wonderfully entertained at her reaction when I don't." Regina answered.

"…You know it's almost refreshing to see this side of you if I weren't worried it would get you stabbed." Belle said.

"I'm sure I came close a couple of times. Now come, It's almost supper time." Regina said, leading the way out of the room. Belle sighed, rolling her eyes at her best friend behind the older brunette's back before following her out of the room and down the stairs. When they descended into the dining room, they were met with a few men sitting around on the couches.

"Evenin' ladies." One of the gave them a leery look. "You two seem mighty lonely over there. Why don't you step over here and join the fun?"

"Tempting." Regina rolled her eyes. "Have you seen the captain?"

"Oh I seen 'er alright. But don't you worry love, I bet you won't need so much holdin' down." He responded. Regina sneered at him while the men around him laughed. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, a small knife whipped through the air faster than anything Regina had ever seen in her life, and embedded itself in the wooden wall behind the leery man, only missing his ear by a hair.

"Mister Baker." The captain's voice followed the same path as the knife, much slower, but twice as deadly. The man, who Regina figured was Mister Baker, looked at the captain in pure pants-pissing fear.

"G-good evenin' Captain…" he stood up. "Care for a drink?"

He was holding out a bottle of rum which was shaking in his hands so much Regina could see it begin to form small bubbles through the glass. Emma smirked at him, stepping up to him until he had to step back and land back into his seat on the couch with a 'humph.' Emma pressed one hand to the wall, and the other grabbed the hilt of the knife that Regina was sure she had been the one to throw. She pulled it out of the wall and twirled it in her hand, just in Baker's peripheral vision.

"Only thing I care for from you is that you watch your bloody fucking tongue about me in my own goddamned house, Baker." She said. She didn't yell, though she seemed like she might start to at any given point. But that didn't seem to make Baker feel any better. "And just so we're clear about our position, if you ever tried to hold me down for anything, I can assure you that the last time anyone would see you, you'd be tied up to the figurehead of my ship and left there for the crows to feed themselves off of you until the only thing that would be left of you would be your worthless, shriveled bones. Alas, here you sit, covered in flesh and drinking my bloody rum. So how about you stop lying to make yourself sound like a big man, when in truth, you're pissing yourself in my presence."

Emma broke eye contact and glanced down at his lap, and when Regina did the same she realized Emma was right. The men around him immediately started laughing, and Emma smirked before she stepped away from him.

"Clean yourself up, dog, and then wash my fucking couch." She said as she walked back into the direction of her study. Regina looked at Belle who looked like she was in some strange mix of astonishment and downright fear.

"Are you coming with me to the captain's study or going off to find your-" Regina began with a small smirk.

"Stop that." Belle held up a hand. "She's not my anything. But yes, I'm going to find Ruby because there's no way in hell I'm going to face that."

By 'that,' Belle of course meant the captain's obvious rage and bloodlust. Regina smirked.

"She only gets that way around the men…and with a comment like that it's not like he didn't deserve it." Regina shrugged.

"Fair enough. I'm still not going in there." Belle said.

"Well then I suppose we must part ways for now." Regina said. Belle rolled her eyes fondly at her

"I'll see you later." She said before turning around and leaving the mansion through the garden door. Regina took a moment to watch her leave until she was out of sight, and then followed the captain's tracks into the study

"That was quite the spectacle." She said as she walked in, thumbs hooked into the waistband of her leather trousers leisurely.

"Hmm?" Emma looked up from her ledger with a raised brow at her and then rolled her eyes. "He's a piece of shit, just needs reminding of that sometimes. Pay him no mind."

"You say that as if I was waiting for you to tell me that he was lying through his disgusting teeth." Regina said. Emma glanced up at her with a soft chuckle.

"Seems like you've already gotten used to this place." she said.

"I know when I'm being lied to, Captain, be it from a pirate or a noble." Regina shrugged, pacing around a little as she talked. "Men's tactics hardly differ, even if the decorum they use for them does. He wouldn't be the first man to lie to my face about his strength or…achievements, for want of a better term. Besides it was obvious that it was a lie, even to the most naive person you could think of."

"And how's that then?" Emma asked.

"He's still alive." Regina stated. Emma's smirk could be seen across the room, and Regina's lips twitched to match it.

"Has Abbie shown you to your room?" the blonde asked, deciding not to acknowledge the sudden warmth in the room.

"Yes…she's a lovely girl." Regina remarked.

"That she is." Emma nodded. "How do you like it then? The room, I mean."

"It's cozy." Regina said with a nod. "And while it's not my chambers in the palace…well…one could say it's fit for a princess."

"I suppose one could." Emma agreed quietly, focusing on what she was writing into the ledger.

Regina hummed in response. "Whoever the previous owner was, they must have been of high status."

"I…" Emma trailed off and Regina looked up at her, noticing the way her eyes seemed to lose focus for a bit and her hand grip the quill so hard her knuckles were white. "I suppose they might have been."

"You're not sure then?" Regina asked. Emma's jaw clenched visibly.

"No. I'm not." She answered curtly. Regina nodded slowly, deciding it was better to leave it at that.

"Well then no sense in wondering." She shrugged. "How's the new ledger system working out?"

Emma visibly calmed, which Regina was glad for. "It's taking some getting used to, but it's fine."

"Good." Regina nodded. "I'm glad I could help in some way."

"A princess helping a pirate." Emma shook her head.

"Almost like something out of a story." Regina smirked at her. Emma rolled her eyes, but then something flashed in them.

"Speaking of which…" she said, getting up from her desk and going towards the large table. She reached into a crate as Regina approached, flipping through a couple of ledgers before she pulled out a thick book, turning to Regina a second later.

"You forgot this in my quarters on the ship…you seemed interested in it earlier, not sure if you'd want it." She said. As she held out the book towards the shorter brunette, Regina realized it was the storybook Emma had asked her to take care of on the ship when she found her reading it.

"Oh, of course." Regina said, gently taking the book. "I'm sorry…it must have slipped my mind when we docked…"

"It's no bother, lass." Emma shrugged. "Figured you'd get bored here, might as well have something to read."

"Well, thank you for your concern, captain." Regina smiled at her. Emma rolled her eyes at her, but the smirk on her face as she walked away betrayed the aura of indifference she had been trying to show earlier, though she didn't seem to be working as hard on that same task at this moment.

"I'm surprised to see you're still wearing your clothes." The captain said as she sat back in her chair.

"Uhm…" Regina's eyebrows raised at the statement and Emma looked up at her.

"I…I mean…I left you some other clothes in the wardrobe and I thought you'd want to change." She said, suddenly incredibly interested in her ledger. Regina decided she wouldn't tease the captain about the sudden pink hue her cheeks had taken on.

"I see." She nodded. "Well I wasn't sure if that had been your intention or if you, perhaps, had forgotten them there."

"I wouldn't leave things lying around if I didn't want anyone touching them lass." Emma said. "They're yours to use freely."

"Oh, well, thank you." Regina said.

"You're as welcome as one can be in this situation." Emma said.

"Captain, I think perhaps you need re-educating on how a hostage situation works." Regina teased. Emma rolled her eyes at her.

"To me you're a hostage I'm holding for ransom, to the rest of the people on this island you're a new member of my crew. And if I wanna pass you off as a crew member, I might as well treat you like one."

"And you always provide your crewmen with clothing then?" Regina asked.

"We share what we find lass…unless I find something to my particular liking." She smiled playfully.

"Like your red coat?" Regina asked, her eyes examining the red velvet garment.

"Precisely." Emma nodded.

"Well, it's certainly your colour." Regina said.

"Ah, well, thank you lass." The blonde said like she was flattered. Regina smiled at her. Bantering around with the captain seemed so easy, and yet the last time they'd done it, Emma had yelled at her after. She sighed, suddenly realizing how awkward this all was.

"If you'll excuse me then, captain, I'd like to change out of these clothes before supper." She said.

"Of course lass…supper should be out soon. Mind you, you'll have to deal with the men joining us at the table."

"Well I suppose I can survive, as long as you let me sit near you." She said. Emma gave her a gentle nod.

"Won't let you out of my sights." She said with a smirk, her voice so soft it almost broke Regina's heart.

"Well…I suppose you do know how to keep a hostage after all." She remarked as she turned on her heel and left the room, her heart nearly beating it's rhythmic way out of her chest at the sound of the captain's laugh. She turned and made her way up the stairs silently, ignoring any of the men she had to pass by before she shut the door to her room, dropping the book on the bed before she lay back on it and sighed. Whatever had been Emma's problem earlier, she was clearly trying to forget about it. Perhaps, Regina thought, something had just frustrated her and she released that frustration poorly. It was no excuse, Regina thought, but what had happened between them now in the study was a much more welcome interaction than if Emma had still been sore with her. The conversation had flowed so easily, and Emma seemed in good spirits, despite the fact that she'd just made a man piss himself for lying about having…eugh Regina groaned inwardly at the unwanted mental image. After an altercation like that, Regina thought the captain would not have been in the mood to talk to her, but clearly she wasn't bothered by her, at least not as bothered as she'd been earlier. The princess sighed deeply. Why the easiest and most comfortable conversation she ever had had been with a pirate would forever be a mystery to her. But she hoped to the gods that whatever other conversations they might have in the future would be that easy. Emma had smiled, and Regina was beginning to think that she liked when the captain did that.

Gods, what 's wrong with me?

Chapter Text

When Regina re-emerged downstairs she was in fresh clothes - having changed her shirt and trousers, and opted to put on one of the leather vests that were made available to her as well, since the cotton of the shirt was quite thin, but the descending sun and increasing wind meant that the temperature had dropped significantly since Regina first stepped off the ship when they arrived. But the vest kept her sufficiently warm.

She noticed that more men had started filling the dining room now, and some were already seated at the table. Regina didn't sit, or bother much with paying attention to them, she stepped towards the study and leaned casually against the arch.

"You look fine, lass." Emma said without looking up.

"Oh I'm sure you say that to all the princesses you lend clothes to." Regina rolled her eyes.

"Hey, quiet down." Emma looked up, gesturing to the men behind Regina. The princess looked at them and then rolled her eyes as she looked back at the captain.

"I'm sure the rum will filter out the details." She said. Emma chuckled and shook her head.

"Aye I suppose it might." She said.

"So, will you wait until the food is actually being served or…" Regina trailed off.

"Hmm? Oh." Emma sighed as she kept writing into her ledger. "Well I'm transferring everything into my ledgers now. You helped but you also created a tad bit more work here."

Regina sighed and gnawed on her lip quietly for a moment before she stepped further into the room for the second time that evening.

"Does no one help you with this?" she asked. Emma stopped writing but didn't look up, her eyes losing focus again like she was thinking about it, then she let out a soft sigh. "I only ask because…well you're doing so much for the people of this island and it seems quite the task for one to take on by themselves."

"Feels like that sometimes." Emma said through a sigh.

"Why doesn't first mate Lucas help you? Or one of the men?" Regina asked. Emma put down the quill and rubbed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose in one move, clearly exhausted.

"Because none of them can read or write." Emma said. "I was lucky enough to have gotten an education…before all this. Others weren't so privileged."

"I was right…you are a noble." Regina said quietly. Emma sighed, not out of frustration, the princess noted.

"Yes, you were…I am…I was." Emma corrected herself.

"Let me guess…before the war?" Regina took a couple of paces closer to Emma's desk. The blonde ran frustrated hands through her hair, effectively holding her head while she looked down at the desk. From the angle she was standing at, Regina could see her eyes were closed and suddenly her heart broke at the sight. Emma nodded, and the heartbreak felt bigger. Whatever happened in Emma's past to get her to this point…her mother had caused it.

The young princess wanted to curse her mother from the rooftops. She knew Cora had the capacity to be unforgivably cruel to her…but to her people? Despite herself, Regina let out a humorless chuckle. That would explain why she never wanted Regina to attend meetings and actually be involved while she ruled. She gritted her teeth. If Regina was as naive as Cora said, the princess now realized it was all her mother's fault. She looked up at the blonde captain, wondering just how their lives would have been intertwined and connected had her mother not destroyed her life. Emma spent three days making herself seem ruthless to Regina…she spent gods knew how many years holding herself up to that standard for the men. And Regina realized that what she was looking at now - Emma holding her head on her desk in this study all alone while the men sat, chatted, and laughed in her own home without her - This must have been what went on with the blonde while no one was looking.

Regina took a deep breath, stepped up onto the platform and approached the captain, quietly so as not to startle her, and then placed a gentle hand on her wrist. Emma looked up at her, emerald green eyes meeting dark brown in some kind of understanding. Regina smiled at her gently.

"Come have supper, take a break for the rest of the night…Tomorrow, I'll help you transfer all the documents to the ledgers…You can show me what it is you really do here. Because pillaging and terrorizing doesn't seem to be quite it, does it?" Regina gave her a wink and Emma, for the first time since they met, gave her a genuine, soft smile that stole Regina's breath for a moment.

"Pardon my interruptin' ye captain…oh…" Abbie's voice came in and Regina took a step back and turned to her. "Pardon me miss Regina…I didn't see you there for a moment."

"It's alright lass." Emma said. Her smile changed slightly, Regina noted It wasn't the same exact thing she'd seen only a moment ago, but it was kind, another type of smile Regina had yet to see on the captain's face. And despite herself, Regina smiled at the image while the captain didn't seem to notice. At least for a minute, she didn't, because in the next she looked at Regina with a raised brow and when Regina realized she was staring a little she looked away and blushed. Abbie smiled knowingly at her and cleared her throat slight. "S'cuse me captain, but supper's all ready for ya." The redhead said. Emma nodded to her and then thought for a moment.

"Oh, Abbie, would you bring some wine out of the cellar lass?" Emma said as she stood from the desk and stepped around it towards Regina.

"Oh, a special occasion then cap'n?" Abbie said with a smile. Emma smirked in Regina's direction and dropped a rather heavy arm around her shoulders.

"Our new mate here's not used to the rum yet." She said, manhandling Regina like the princess had witnessed a few men doing time and again…this, she figured, was camaraderie. She chuckled nervously.

"Oh, I don't blame her." Abbie said with a small laugh. "Right away captain."

She walked out of the room with a smile on her face like she'd just been let in on some top secret about the princess and the captain. Regina felt envious for a moment - she would love to be in on that same secret herself. Emma dropped the arm from around her shoulders when Abbie was out of sight and Regina sighed inwardly at the loss of the warmth. The captain turned to her fully and she responded in kind, noting the uncertainty in the pirate's eyes.

"I uh…" Emma cleared her throat. "Sorry about that…Keeping up appearances."

"Oh…right." Regina nodded, ignoring the ridiculous feeling of disappointment in her heart. Just appearances…right.

"Right." Emma nodded, turning away slowly, but then turned back, startling the brunette for a moment. "Did you mean what you said…about helping me with the records?"

Regina let out a chuckle at how nervous Emma seemed all of a sudden. "Captain, the only person I've ever been dishonest to is my mother, and I'm sure you of all people could understand why."

"Hmm…yes, I certainly can." Emma said, holding her chin in thought as she looked away. Regina, in a bold move, reached up and pulled Emma's wrist away gently, her other hand cupping the captain's fist.

"I will help you with the records, captain, I feel you've stressed yourself out enough for one…century." She said sarcastically. Emma let out a laugh and nodded.

"Alright then lass." She nodded.

"Good." Regina released her hand and stood with a smirk. "Because I've never been to a tavern and you hardly allowed me to experience it too much this morning. I should like to try it again after supper. What do you say?"

"Princess, I think perhaps you need re-educating on how a hostage situation works." Emma said teasingly. Regina laughed.

"Very good, Captain, you've used my own words against me. I see I've met my match." She said.

"Aye you have." Emma said with a grin that gave Regina the same warmth one might experience in the presence of the sun on a summer's day.

"But you have indeed also met yours." She shot back. "After all, we must keep up appearances, must we not?"

"You'll keep them up about as well as a single pole might keep up a palace talkin' like that." Emma teased. Regina pouted at her playfully.

"Well all the more reason then. I'm sure you only learned to speak in such a manner from hearing it among the people." She said.

"You got me there." Emma nodded.

"Well then, I must mingle if I am to integrate, must I not?" Regina said.

"Alright alright, you made your point." Emma chuckled. "Just bear in mind the men hang about there every night."

"Well I certainly won't worry too much while I'm under your very careful watch." Regina said. Emma rolled her eyes playfully at her and chuckled.

"Just do me a favor and don't get drunk on your first night in the tavern…gods help us all if that happens." The captain teased.

"I'll watch my liquor, don't go worrying yourself too much about me. It is your night to relax as well after all." Regina said.

"Fair enough, now come on, supper's gettin' cold." Emma made a gesture that told Regina to lead the way. "Oh…Regina."

"Hmm?" Regina turned, trying to ignore the way her heart fluttered in her chest at the sound of her name coming from the captain.

"I know we've had our fun and all lass but…don't go mentioning my past or the war with the other men alright? No one here talks too much about it unless necessary. Like I said earlier…"

"It cursed this place." Regina reiterated Emma's earlier words. Emma nodded with a sigh. Regina nodded back in agreement. She was about turn away but looked back at the blonde thoughtfully. "Captain…I know you don't like to speak of it but…I wish I could know the truth…After all I am the future queen…perhaps if I know the truth I could…perhaps attempt to make things right."

Emma sighed, shaking her head.

"That's sweet lass…but…there's some things some people lost in that war that no one could ever replace or bring back. The truth would only serve to make things worse for you when you get back home."

"Captain I assure you, there's little you can do to make things worse for me at home." Regina balled up her fists to calm her frustration at her own mother. "If you think Cora is a hateful bitch as a queen…you should try being her daughter."

Tears had begun to sting her eyes, and Emma must have noticed, because she was taking a step closer.

"I'm sorry lass…I…I guess you're right." The blonde said, her hands aching to touch the brunette in an attempt to comfort her. But there was a line and Emma knew she was already teetering on it. There had to be with Regina, otherwise they'd both just end up hurt. "Come on, let's go have supper, if I'm taking you out drinking, you're not gonna do it on an empty stomach, I'd be picking you up off the floor in a moment."

Regina, distracted from her thoughts, chuckled lightly. She blinked the tears away and found comfort in the soft smile Emma was sending her way.

"You certainly have your methods in making a girl feel better, captain." She remarked as she started walking out of the study.

"You should see me with a couple drinks in me, lass." Emma chuckled. Regina turned and began walking backwards.

"I bet you're the envy of every man on the cape." She said. She accidentally backed into Ruby and turned around with a slight blush. "Oh…pardon me first mate Lucas."

"Watch your step princess." Ruby muttered with a smirk as Regina walked away with a chuckle and approached Belle. Emma was laughing at Regina's blunder and Ruby just watched her best friend, arms crossed and her questioning smirk still in place as the blonde approached the exit towards the dining room. When she finally stopped laughing, Emma saw her first mate's questioning look.

"What?" she asked.

"You're laughing." Ruby said.

"So?" Emma shrugged.

"So the last time I saw you laugh this much you were drunk, and that was ages ago." Ruby said.

"Aye well…" Emma shrugged again. "Feels good to take a break."

"A break?" Ruby chuckled. "You haven't taken a break in twenty years."

"First time for everything." Emma shrugged. "Or do you want to be the one to watch Regina at the tavern tonight?"

"You're coming with us tonight?" Ruby asked in disbelief.

"Aye." Emma nodded. The back of Ruby's hand was on her forehead in an instant. She swatted it away. "What are you doing?"

"Making sure you're not running a fever." Ruby said.

"I'm not." Emma rolled her eyes.

"What changed then? You've been dodging the men and the tavern so long Granny thought you'd been shot." Ruby said. Emma rolled here eyes, and they somehow rolled in Regina's direction and stayed there.

"Something changed for sure…" she said distractedly. Regina was chatting with Belle, and the latter looked up, probably realizing the captain was looking at them. She gave Regina a look and then the princess looked towards her as well, the smile on her face matching Emma's. Ruby smiled at Belle, but then rolled her eyes at Emma (and herself.) and punched Emma roughly on the shoulder.

"What in the hell, Lucas?" Emma protested. But Ruby just grinned and threw an arm around the blonde's shoulders.

"Oi! Boys! The captain's joining us at the tavern tonight!" she shouted to the room. Suddenly every cup, stein, or fist was raised up as the men all cheered. Emma basked in it for a moment, but then her eyes landed on Regina again, who was holding up her own cup to the impromptu toast. (Which was basically all the men chanting "Swan! Swan! Swan!" over and over again while some banged on the table.)

"Alright alright." Emma waved them off. "Sit your asses down and dig in boys. Oi, Wallace, you save some for the rest of us."

Wallace, Regina found out when Emma pointed, was the fat dumb one who had already secretly been snacking on bits and pieces of the slices of white fish that had been served on the table before the captain showed up. He whined in protest and the men laughed, handed him another cup of rum, and clapped him on the back as Emma sat down. She gestured to Regina to take the seat next to her on her left, and Ruby sat on her right, with Belle right beside her.

Emma, Regina thought as she watched her, was quite the host. True enough that the men helped themselves (quite messily) to the food on the table, but Emma ignored them and actually served Regina a healthy chunk of fish before she did the same for Ruby and Belle. The men didn't seem to care, but then again Regina figured the blonde could do anything and the men wouldn't question it too much. Ruby didn't question the captain when she found wine in her cup, especially when with a quick glance she could easily see that Belle was drinking the same thing, and it took no time at all for her to figure that Regina and Emma must be drinking wine as well.

"This fish tastes wonderful." Belle complimented.

"Caught fresh this morning." Ruby said with a smile.

"I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised." Regina said, Belle nodding in agreement.

"Why would that be?" Emma asked.

"Well, captain, I don't mean to offend you or this wonderful island or it's people…" Regina began. "But I just didn't get the impression that the food would be so hearty."

"Fresh fish by the barrel full, fresh fruit and veg grown on the local crops." Emma shrugged. "Not everyone has Ruby's cooking skills, so we eat pretty well here."

Ruby laughed and made some kind of gesture to Emma that Regina didn't recognize but she figured it wasn't the sort of thing you'd see within palace walls. Belle covered her mouth and held in a laugh. Regina looked at her with a raised brow.

"What happened?" Regina asked.

"Oh well the gesture means that Ruby has suggested the captain should…well…uhm…" Belle blushed.

"Go fuck herself on the longest pole one might find." Ruby finished off for her. Regina blanched and then looked over at the captain who was chuckling and punched Ruby in the shoulder playfully and she couldn't help but laugh.

"It's just messing around lass." Emma explained. "Careful how you throw that sign around though, might get you shot."

"I assure you I will not be suggesting that anyone go…ahem…do that." Regina said. Ruby laughed loudly.

"Most polite pirate to ever sail the seven seas right there." She gestured to Regina with her cup before looking at Belle. "How did you know what it meant if miss prim and proper here didn't?"

"Well…" Belle looked up and saw that all three were interested in her answer, and she looked around carefully before she went on. "Well my father is usually around seamen, since he travels quite a bit for his work."

"Dogs in the navy aren't so different than us then hm?" Ruby chuckled.

"At least not until they start getting promotions." Belle shrugged and sipped her wine. "The captain would hardly be making such gestures, and the quartermaster would see himself swiftly demoted and transferred to another crew if he were to ever make one towards his captain."

"Hear that Lucas?" Emma teased.

"Kiss my ass Swan." Ruby responded. Emma just laughed and shook her head.

"I'm surprised the men dare to be so candid around you." Regina said. Belle shrugged.

"It's quite possible that they aren't always aware of my presence…" she said with a wry smile.

"You snuck around." Regina said with a grin. Belle shrugged.

"My father was having the most boring of boring meetings with Gaston and…well I would have rather eaten a rusty nail than have to listen to one of his superficial and obnoxious compliments." She rolled her eyes. "So when they were distracted I snuck off to were the rest of the crew were hanging about and drinking…it was quite an educational experience."

"Hah." Ruby laughed. "If you think Navy dogs are educational, wait till you see what goes on in the tavern. Now that's educational, eh Swan?"

"Indeed." Emma nodded. "You'll learn how to successfully impress a girl by doing the opposite of what Ruby does while she drunk off her ass."

Regina started laughing and Belle joined in when Ruby repeated the unseemly gesture with both hands and knocked her wine all over herself.

"Ah for fuck's sake."

Chapter Text

"Now don't forget girls…Heads down, no mentions of home alright?" Emma repeated for what felt like the millionth time.

"Captain if you tell us one more time I'll start singing the Ode to Misthaven just to spite you." Regina said before she turned to the blonde to reveal her teasing smile.

"If you get shot don't come crying to me." Emma teased back.

Ruby snorted. "It'd probably be her gun that shot the bloody bullet."

"Something makes me doubt that." Regina shot the captain a wink and Emma gave her a playful glare. The princess was becoming more and more outspoken…Emma had yet to decide if she liked it or not. Ruby chuckled as she jogged up the steps leading to the tavern door ahead of the girls.

"Just try not to get too drunk and lose your virginities tonight, eh girls?" she teased as she opened the door.

"We'll try." Belle shot her a look and Ruby sighed as she and Regina entered the tavern. Emma raised a brow and stopped over at her first mate.

"What's that about then?" she asked.

"I…may have upset her." Ruby said.

"Hmm…Ruby Lucas upsetting a girl…What else is new?" Emma teased.

"Oh fuck off." Ruby groaned.

"I'm just joking." Emma said, placing a hand on her shoulder. "You're not the only one who owes one of the girls an apology."

"Emma…you fucking kidnapped them mate." Ruby said. Emma rolled her eyes.

"I was unnecessarily harsh on Regina." Emma said.

"So…are you gonna do what you always do then?" Ruby asked. "Get drunk and apologize?"

"I'll try and stay sober." Emma said.

"Well, look at you, being all cordial for the princess?" Ruby teased.

"Just get in there." Emma shoved Ruby into the tavern. Ruby laughed and immediately started making noise.

"Hey everyone! Look who decided to join in the fun tonight!" she announced to the rest of the tavern's patrons. Once Emma stepped inside, the tavern lit up with cheers.

"Swan! Swan! Swan!" they all cheered in unison. Regina turned to look at the blonde, a grin forming on her face as she saw the almost bashful way Emma waved at everyone. Someone pushed an ale stein into her hand almost immediately and there was a crowd forming to shake her hand and pat her on the back like she was a hero.

"Well well captain." Regina said when she finally managed to push her way through the small crowd over to her. "Seems you're something of a celebrity around here."

"Somethin' of?" A man with a thick accent and an equally thick beard came out of nowhere, clearly overhearing the princess, he threw an arm around Emma and pointed a finger at her as he spoke. "Lass lemme tell you, if it weren't for this angel right 'ere, my family would 'ave starved to death. As it were, she saved me two little 'uns from bein' taken away as slaves or…gods above, I don' even wanna think about it…me point bein'…"

His voice raised up higher, his stein held just as high. "Captain Emma Swan is the hero of this cape! Three cheers for 'er! Hip hip!"

"HOORAH!" the rest of the tavern shouted. It didn't matter if they were her own crew, the girls who worked at the tavern, or the people who were playing music and singing to the patrons. They all stopped and raised their cups to cheer for the captain.

"Alright alright." Emma chuckled as she removed the man's hand. "Go back to drinkin' and makin' a ruckus, Widow Lucas' gotta make her living somehow!"

They all laughed but did as the captain bid them to, the music from the instruments starting up again. Emma picked up a stein from a tray a woman was carrying and handed it to Regina, a small smile on her face.

"Drink, act like a pirate, and stop drawing attention to me would you?" Emma said, almost embarrassed.

"They love you, captain, bask in it." Regina said, taking a sip from the drink she was still not used to. "You deserve it."

Emma sighed, a hint of pain flashing across her eyes for a moment. "I could have done so much better, Regina."

"Emma you saved that man's children." Regina pointed out. "Probably his whole world. One person can only do so much. Even if she has a whole ship's crew behind her. I may not know your past, Emma, but I can tell you're doing the best you can. One look at your records is enough to tell me that. You're keeping these people alive and your giving up your own life to do it with the work you put in. They're grateful. Enjoy it. At least for tonight, hmm?"

Emma smiled at her and gave her a small nod. It wouldn't have been noticeable if Regina's attention wasn't all on the blonde, but it was enough to get Regina to grin.

"Good, now come on, teach me how to drink like a pirate." Regina said, taking her hand.

"Hah." Emma laughed. "There's only so much we can do in one night lass."

Regina came up with a less insane idea; she wanted to try and get used to rum.

It wasn't working great.

"Don't let it linger in your mouth too much, just swallow!" Ruby insisted.

"This is vile!" Belle protested with a giggle.

"My throat burns." Regina said.

"Whuss." Emma teased, taking her cup and downing it in one go.

"Oh yes, of course, you who've had years to get used to this make fun of me. I only had my first taste of it a day ago captain!" Regina argued.

"You wanna try to get used to it how this one got me to?" Emma said, gesturing to Ruby. "Took her only a few minutes to convince me to drink it of my own volition. I promise you won't like it though."

"Try me, captain." Regina dared.

"Very well, your funeral." Emma looked at Ruby, who was stifling a laugh as hard as she could. Emma grabbed Regina's cup and stood up.

"What are you d-" Regina was about to ask, but didn't have the chance, because Emma pushed her forehead back and squeezed her nosed shut. Regina gasped at the action, and Emma took that opportunity to pour the hard liquor into her mouth. She forced her jaw shut by pushing her chin up and Regina's protests were muffled as she tried to fight off the captain's incredibly strong grip.

"Swallow or drown." Emma smirked evilly at her. Regina was looking at her with wide eyes but knew she put herself into this situation. She shut her eyes and swallowed and Emma released her as soon as she saw her throat bob. Regina coughed when her lungs tasted air again.

"That was awful. Why would you ever do that to anyone?" the princess' question was directed to Ruby.

"Only way to break a prissy little princess like you." Ruby winked at her. Regina gave her a questioning look and when Ruby looked at Emma with a chuckle she only received a glare in response. "I- I mean…"

"What does she mean captain?" Regina asked, looking at the clearly displeased pirate.

"Nothing, lass. She's just being Ruby." Emma said, pouring another cup of rum into her mouth and swallowing before she got up.

"Shite…" Ruby muttered. Regina ignored her and followed the captain, who had by then stepped outside. It took her a while for her eyes to adjust to the dark, but once they did, she saw a telltale red coat flapping in the wind on the dock's pier, right next to the ship that brought her here. She was standing looking out to the sea, her leg up on one of the wooden stumps. When Regina approached her, she saw smoke billowing up into the atmosphere in front of Emma's face, and when she came up beside her, she could see that Emma was smoking a pipe.

"I didn't know you smoked." Regina said idly.

"There's a lot you don't know about me lass." Emma said, the smoke leaving her mouth as she spoke.

"I'm sure Ruby didn't mean anything by what she said." Regina suggested with a shrug. "Or at least she didn't mean to reveal anything you clearly don't want me to know."

Emma sighed. "Every new detail you learn about me will lead you to the truth of the war…and about your mother."

"You act as if the world will crumble if I find out." Regina said.

"Yours will." Emma said.

"You're protecting me from the truth." Regina chuckled and shook her head. Emma sighed, because the comparison was not lost on her.

"I'm sorry…I don't mean to treat you like she does." She said.

"Emma…" Regina looked at her again. "You don't want to hold me here against my will, do you?"

The captain gritted her teeth a little. "I've never taken prisoners…in all the twenty or so years I've been doing this."

"Either you started young or you've aged wonderfully." Regina teased. Emma chuckled a little.

"I was…sixteen at the time." Emma said. "Almost feels like forever now…I barely remember what life was like before then…sometimes I wish I didn't just so I wouldn't have to miss it."

Regina sighed. "I know this is nothing in comparison to what you've been through, Emma, but…for all it's worth, I'm so sorry for what my mother's done to you."

"You don't even know what she did." Emma said.

"I can only imagine…The war…the way it's written in the books…made the islanders out to be brutes and savages…what that man said…about his children. That's what they did, isn't it? Took prisoners, enslaved the women and children…" Regina shook her head.

"And killed anyone who stood in their way." Emma said, a distant look in her eyes like she was a million miles away…or perhaps it was just twenty years into the past. Regina's heart broke.

"That's why you don't take prisoners." She nodded in understanding.

"I am sorry for taking you." The blonde said. "I just…"

"Need that gold." Regina said with a nod. "I understand…I would have probably done the same thing in your position. Hell I probably wouldn't even do it for anyone else, just myself…If it helps, I'm enjoying the adventure."

Emma looked over and saw the small smirk on Regina's face and couldn't help but chuckle.

"Enjoy it while you can, princess." Emma said. Regina grinned at her.

"Oh, rest assure captain I definitely am." She looked out at the vast horizon before them and they stood in silence for a moment, the peace only breaking slightly by the sound of Emma taking another drag from her pipe. "May I try that?"

"What, smoking?" Emma said, looking at her pipe for a second before looking back up at Regina. "You can't even handle rum."

"I doubt anything can be worse than rum." Regina said. Emma scoffed and shook her head before she shrugged, her foot coming back down as she stood straight and handed Regina the pipe.

"Don't suck, just put it to your lips, and breath in through it with your mouth." She guided. Regina did as she was told, a small smile of excitement on her lips. She breathed in deeply and suddenly felt her lungs protest, pulling it away and hacking out a strong cough.

"Nope…I was wrong…way worse than rum…oh gods." She turned away, leaning over a little as she coughed her lungs out. Emma gave a sympathetic chuckle as she went over to her and patted her back, leaning over to check on her.

"You're alright lass, just let it out…there you go." She soothed with her voice as Regina's coughing calmed down. When the princess turned her head to look at Emma, she found that their faces were incredibly close, and had the pleasure of finding out that Emma's eyes shone a lovely shade of sea green in the moonlight. They could have lost themselves staring at each other forever at that moment, but suddenly they heard the tavern music get louder and they looked up, seeing a man and a woman walk out of the tavern, before the man seemed to grab her by the hands and start dancing with her along to the sound of the faint music. Regina smiled at the sight.

"Captain…" She began. "Would you care to show me how they dance on the isles?"

"Seems you have a habit of saying the wrong thing." Belle said before she picked up her cup, taking a sip before realizing the drink in it was foul. Curse her attempt at sass. Ruby sighed.

"Belle…" she turned in her chair to look at the brunette, who looked back expectantly. "I'm sorry about earlier…I'm not entirely sure which part upset you but…I'm sorry for it."

Belle sighed, her shoulder slumping slightly, any sarcastic remarks she might have made dying a quick death on the tip of her tongue. "I don't even know which part upset me more."

"What do you mean?" Ruby asked.

"Well…" she groaned inwardly, unsure of how to place this. "You said you took me with the intention of…having your way with me…"

Ruby only slightly chuckled at how Belle put it before Belle gave her a look.

"I'm sorry." She apologized again quickly.

"And that's…well…I understand it although I don't want it to happen." Belle said.

"Oh…" Ruby sighed.

"But then you said it was out of the question once the captain had her intentions for taking us and that…I don't know." The brunette sighed. "It sounded like I was suddenly untouchable and all attraction you might have had towards me died and as strange as this entire situation is…that bothered me." Belle explained. "I suppose it's the idea that I'm a pawn in a plan…I never exactly liked other people deciding my fate for me."

Ruby let out a chuckle. "You know, Belle…I think you and I would have gotten along just fine when I was younger."

"What do you mean?" Belle asked.

"I hated the idea that you were born a certain way and you had to die in that way and do whatever everyone else expected of you." Ruby said with a smile "Ask Granny, I was a handful. Then when Emma came along needing a first mate? I jumped at the chance. That was my dream…not being a pirate mind you, though I don't regret the decision at all…But finding a way to take my life in my own hands and steer it whichever way I wanted. Granny had a thing or two to say about it mind you, but she came around when she saw that we were doing the island good by it."

"And I'm sure you love being second in command of a bunch of men." Belle teased.

"It's fun." Ruby shrugged and, bless her, tried to act as humble as possible. It wasn't much.

"I'm sure." Belle sighed.

"What is it lass?" Ruby asked, scooting a bit closer to her.

"Well…I don't know." Belle shrugged. "It all seems like so much fun, you all look so free…granted I know it was a war that brought you here and I'm sure it's not all fun and games. You're doing it for a good cause. But that's what I've always wanted…To live free and make a difference. Make my own choices…"

"And instead? What are you getting?" Ruby asked. Belle sighed.

"If I go home my father will try and marry me off to…Gaston." She said with a grimace. Ruby's eyes went wide and then she started laughing. "It's not funny!"

"Oh no I'm s- HAHA…I'm sorry lass it's just…" Ruby took a deep breath to try and calm her laughter. "Oh gods…you'd probably kill him the first time he sees you pick up a book."

"He…" Belle's face sobered and fell a little. "He says women shouldn't read because they start…'getting ideas and thinking.'"

Ruby ignored the hilarious voice Belle used to mock the sea captain, instead taking offense to the line herself. "Well that's a steaming pile of horse shit."

"Exactly!" Belle said. "I mean I didn't say that to his face…but I thought it."

Ruby laughed. "I admire you for being able to read and doing it so much you know?"

"You do?" Belle smiled at her. Ruby shrugged bashfully.

"Sometimes…sometimes I wish I was that smart…that I could read like that…I can't even write my own bloody name." She said. Belle saw the hint of pain in her eyes.

"I…I can teach you…if you'd like." She said. Ruby looked up at her.

"You'd do that?" she asked.

"Of course." Belle shrugged. "You've got loads of books at the guest house, I'm pretty sure Emma has some in the mansion. I know I saw some on the ship…Everyone should know how to read and write…at least…I think so."

"Yeah…" Ruby smiled at her. "I'd like that."

"Tomorrow then, we'll start small. Simple stuff." Belle grinned at her. "This is going to be fun."

Ruby plucked a beer stein off a passing tray and took the cup of rum that sat in front of Belle, placing the stein there instead.

"I have a feeling you like this better than rum." She said. Belle smiled up at her and picked up the stein, bumping it gently against the cup Ruby held up before they drank together.

When Emma and Regina walked back inside, Emma knocked Ruby's hat off her head teasingly, and Regina gave Belle and excited smile before they walked past them to a more open area of the tavern close to where the music players situated. They played and sang a quite upbeat song.

"Just follow my lead alright?" Emma said. Regina nodded and then Emma gently took her hand. She stood at the distance both their arms would allow without being totally outstretched, and then Emma took her other hand. Regina didn't take too long to realize that Emma was following the same style as a few other couples. Hand held, arms out, and dancing around in quite an upbeat fashion, doing a light jig from one side to the other, first with one foot, and then the other following only a second later. Emma and Regina easily fell into step with the beat, and then after a few steps, Emma released her right hand and gently twirled Regina around in time with the rest of the dancers. The dance then continued on the same style, but with one hand held rather than two and the pair remained on the same side, keeping the same rhythm.

"This is quite fun…nothing like the dances back home." Regina said as Emma twirled her again and they mirrored the same stance on the other side now.

"What are they like then?" Emma asked.

"Hah." Regina chuckled as Emma twirled her again. "We don't even touch hands!"

"Seriously?" Emma said. Regina nodded, though it wasn't very clear mid-jig, but Emma saw it anyway. "That doesn't sound like it would be much fun there lass."

"It isn't." Regina said. "It feels so…careful…You're almost afraid to accidentally brush up against your partner for fear of scandal."

"I assure you, we're nothing like that here." Emma assured the princess as she twirled her one final time while the song winded down to a gentle end.

"Is that so?" Regina asked with a raised brow of curiosity. Emma winked at her before she stepped up to the singer and whispered something in her ear. The singer nodded to her with a grin and suddenly a slower song started.

"Come." Emma held out her hand in offering. Regina gave her a questioning smirk. "This is a newer dance…definitely not anything the nobles would dance."

Regina took Emma's hand gently and the captain pulled her incredibly close, placing a gentle hand on her waist.

"What are you doing?" Regina asked warily. Emma gave her a gentle nod towards another couple. Regina turned to lok at them over her shoulder and saw how they were dancing. They held hands, the man's hand on the womans waist much like Emma had placed her own on Regina's. The woman had her free hand resting on his shoulder, and they danced quite closely.

"Oh…well that's certainly new." Regina said, a hint of excitement showing on her face.

"Would you like to try it?" Emma asked.

"I…" Regina turned to look at Emma and her heart skipped a beat. "Yes…I would."

She turned fully to Emma and the captain placed her hand on Regina's waist again, the princess placing her hand on the captain's shoulder as Emma held her close.

"When I step forward, you step back. It's fairly easy." Emma said. Regina nodded, watching their feet for the first few steps before she gained some confidence in their choreography and relaxed, her stance melting into Emma's perfectly as they moved around, gliding across the floor as one. It felt…so intimate.

"This is…really nice." She said, looking up into Emma eyes, only mildly surprised to see the captain smiling and looking back at her with just as much intensity.

"Aye…I have to say I can't remember the last time I had this much fun." The blonde said.

"I'm glad you're enjoying your break then." Regina said. "If I have to slave hours over those records tomorrow…well it would have been worth it to see you enjoying yourself."

"Regina…" Emma sighed.

"I mean it captain…I admire what you're doing here. You deserve to have fun." Regina said. Emma's eyes broke contact with hers and looked down for a moment, her smile faltering. "Is something the matter?"

"I just…" Emma took a deep breath. "I want to apologize…for how I spoke to you earlier...I-"

Regina's lips formed a smile, her eyes turning so gentle as she gazed upon the captain. "Emma…"

"Please let me finish." Emma said. "I thought it was the best way to keep you from-"

"Emma. Enough." Regina stopped her. "There's no need to apologize."

"I shouldn't have-" but a finger landed on her lips to stop her from talking.

"Save your apologies for the maker." Regina repeated the captain's catch-phrase. "Because you don't need to give one to me."

Emma chuckled and shook her head. "You're something else…princess."

The last word was whispered and inaudible to anyone else under the cloaking music.

"Well I certainly hope I'm something to your liking, captain."

"What are they doing?" Belle asked when she saw the captain and her best friend partaking in a very unfamiliar style of dance.

"Dancing love." Ruby said. "It's a new dance, it hasn't been here long."

"They're so close to one another." Belle looked on, partly amused at her friend's obvious attraction to the pirate captain and partly curious about the dance. "I've never seen anything like it…we're not usually allowed to touch our dance partner in…uhm…back home."

"That's nobility for you." Ruby muttered and rolled her eyes as she drank.

"…Could we try it?" Belle asked tentatively.

"I don't dance love." Ruby shook her head.

"That's a lie!" Belle said. Ruby looked at her, unable to actually lie again.

"How do you know?" she asked. Belle smirked.

"I'll tell you after we dance." She bargained. Ruby chuckled and shook her head, throwing back the last of her rum.

"Alright then." She stood and made a show of bowing to Belle and holding out her hand. "Milady."

Belle giggled as she took Ruby's hand and followed her to where Emma and Regina were dancing to join them in the merriment.

They danced a couple more times, and then Regina decided to try rum again.

"Smoking is much more foul than rum, I think I prefer the lesser of two evils." She decided, having a better appreciation for the liquor once it wasn't threatening to burn her lungs to ash. Belle still grimaced at the taste of it and stuck to ale.

Emma and Ruby had a good laugh when they spotted the tavern girl who Regina had eyed that morning, and convinced the girl to go and flirt with the princess when she volunteered to get them all the next round. She returned silent and her face red.

"How was it lass?" Ruby asked, trying to act innocent.

"She…uhm…" Regina's face seemed to get redder if that were possible. "She told me I should go to her if I should ever want to…uhm…'take a turn among the cabbages'…Does she think I grew up on a farm? She seemed very pleased at the idea…"

Ruby burst out laughing and Emma couldn't help but join in, no matter how hard she tried not to.

"No, love…that's not what she meant." The captain managed to get out.

"Then what could she possibly…" Regina asked, but Belle took pity on her best friend and whispered the phrase's meaning into her ear, her eyes going comically wide as she understood that it was innuendo. "Oh gods."

Regina dropped her face into her hands and Ruby and Emma laughed even harder.

"Regretting you missed your chance?" Ruby teased.

"No…Thank you…I'm just going to drink now." Regina downed another cup of rum and sat down because it shot up straight to her head.

"You alright lass?" Emma asked.

"Jusssst fine." Regina slurred a bit. Emma raised a brow at her, and then looked over at Belle, who was giggling like mad at just about anything Ruby was saying. Ruby herself was well on the way to doing something stupid - she always did when she got drunk, last time it was fight. - And Emma was just tired. With a sigh, and a slight smirk because Regina was looking around the room like the whole world was brand new - she realized it was probably time to call it a night.

"Ruby, girls, come on." She ushered as she got up.

"Oh but captain it would be lovely to stay a bit longer." Regina said, trying to shoot up out of her chair and wobbling to the side so that Emma had to catch her before she fell into the passing tavern girl.

"Indeed it would lass, but you need some rest." Emma chuckled, holding her by the shoulders to keep her steady.

"Oh noooo." Belle drew out. "Come…let's dance again!"

She took Ruby's hand, and tried to get up quickly, nearly tripping had Ruby not pulled her up close to her immediately. She just pulled her much too close and Belle ended up hugged tightly to her chest. The younger brunette looked up at the first mate in shock for a moment, but then gave her the biggest grin. Ruby chuckled.

"Ruby." Emma chided, the first mate looked at her and the captain glanced to Belle before back to her, and nodding with her head towards the door. Ruby realized with a sigh that Emma was right.

"Come on lass, let's get some sleep hmm?" she told Belle.

"Alriiiight." Belle drawled out again, resting her head on Ruby's chest as if the brunette meant right now. She didn't. That didn't stop Belle from going out like a light.

"Ah fuck." Ruby grumbled under her breath before she maneuvered to carry the girl bridal style. Emma laughed at her as she struggled not to drop Belle in her own wobbly state.

"That's so sweet." Regina slurred as she leaned onto Emma's shoulder with her full weight.

"Aye, sweet as honey and cake." The blonde rolled her eyes. "You think you can walk?"

"Will you carry me like that if I say no?" Regina gave her the biggest grin and the brightest eyes like it was the best thought ever and Emma was almost tempted to do it anyway because she seemed so excited. But she couldn't give the brunette the wrong idea, especially when she was drunk.

"No, I'll drag you by your hair up the road." She said, trying to give her the straightest face possible. Regina frowned exaggeratedly and attempted punching her shoulder. She missed.

"You're no fun, captain." She huffed.

"Come on, lass, let's get you home." Emma said with a chuckle.

"Hmph…home" Regina said, leaning on Emma as they walked. The captain took Regina's arm and pulled it up around her shoulders, placing her own around her back to steady the brunette. "I don't want to go homeMother would be furious if she saw me in this state."

"Well thankfully that's not what I meant." Emma rolled her eyes.

"No…" Regina tried to reason through the fog in her mind. "You mean the mansion…that beautiful place…I like it there."

"Do you now?" Emma chuckled.

"Mmmmmmhm." Regina drawled. "It's nice."

"I'm glad you think so love." Emma said as they slowly made their way up the road.

"How'd you get it?" Regina asked.

"You asked me that earlier." Emma said.

"But you played with words…you said you didn't marry anyone." Regina said.

"That's true I didn't." Emma said.

"You're noble…was it your parents'?" the princess asked. Emma sighed. Whatever she said, it would sate the brunette, and she possible wouldn't remember it either.

"Aye, it was." She said.

"Where are they?" Regina asked. Emma gritted her teeth. "What do they do?"

"Hopefully, they rest in peace." The blonde said. Regina gasped and looked up at her sadly.

"I'm so sorry." She pulled her other arm to give Emma a hug as best she could in their position.

"It was a long time ago lass." Emma said. "Put your arm down before you make yourself trip."

Regina obeyed the captain and they were able to keep on walking. The princess was quiet for a moment but her mind, it seemed, was not.

"Have you ever been in love?" Regina asked. Emma chuckled.

"Not really." She said.

"What kind of answer is that?" the brunette protested with a swing of her free arm.

"I haven't love." She answered instead.

"Why not?" Regina asked.

"You're worse with the questions when you're drunk." Emma laughed.

"Well…you know a lot about me." Regina argued. "It's only fair captain."

"Well I suppose lass, I just haven't met the right person." She chuckled. "Isn't that how it's supposed to go?"

"Mmm." Regina nodded. "I've never met anyone either…that I've fallen in love with I mean…I've met a lot of people…most of them old…"

Emma chuckled at the way she scrunched up her face at that remark.

"You will one day lass." She sighed. "A handsome prince I wager, will sweep you off your feet."

"Ugh." Regina groaned.

"You feelin' sick?" Emma asked.

"No…" Regina shook her head. "I don't think I want to marry a man."

"Is that so?" Emma said, grunting as she had to drag Regina back onto her feet properly so they could keep walking. They'd just barely reached halfway up the road.

"Women are prettier." Regina said lazily. "Prettier eyes…softer skin…softer liiiips."

She was trying to sing. Emma started laughing.

"I love the music here." Regina said. "It's so lively…even the men on the ship sing! I heard them once."

"Aye they do that a lot." Emma nodded.

"They're lovely." Regina said. "Everything here is so lovely…why is that?"

"What do you mean?" Emma asked.

"The air here feels clearer…lighter…the colours are brighter…there's barely any clouds…mist-uhmmmmmmm…" Regina held up a finger against her own lips and shushed herself before laughing. "That place is full of clouds all the time…And rain…"

"I suppose it's just the way it is." Emma sighed.

"But why." Regina whined. "You said this place was cursed…shouldn't this place be all drab and dreary too?"

"That's not what I meant." Emma sighed. "You're a talkative drunk love."

"S'not true!" Regina protested. "I can shut up any time…Watch…I won't talk…I won't talk at all. You'll barely know I'm here. You'll look around and ask 'where's Regina? I haven't heard her at all in a looooooooong time.' You'll think I'm dead cause that's how quiet I'll be."

"And when does that start exactly?" Emma asked with a laugh.

"Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight now." Regina pressed her lips shut between her teeth and Emma chuckled as they walked.

She lasted two minutes. Then she saw a bird.

"Oh it's so pretty!" she squealed. "I've never seen that kind of bird before what kind of bird is it? Does it eat fruit? Emma-"

"I don't know, love." Emma laughed. "I can't believe you saw it in the dark."

"Do dangerous animals live in the jungle?" Regina asked.

"Yes, and they eat noisy princesses." Emma chuckled. Regina gasped. But then frowned.

"That can't be true you're lying." She said. "You're lying so I stop talking. I have stopped."

"This is the noisiest form of 'not talking' I've ever heard." Emma teased.

"Hmph." Regina huffed. "Why do you hate talking?"

"I don't." Emma shrugged.

"Is it my voice, I bet you hate my voice. That's rude captain." Regina chastised.

"No lass, you have a lovely voice." Emma said.

"Awww." Regina tried hugging her again.

"Regina." Emma groaned.

They finally made it home, but Emma was trying to convince Regina that she shouldn't attempt the stairs on her own.

"I'm fine! Watch!" Regina climbed up three steps before missing the fourth entirely and luckily catching herself on her hands, her knee bumping on the step. "Ouch."

"Alright, that's it come on." Emma grabbed her, ignoring Regina's squeal as she lifted her up and carried her up the stairs.

"This is fun!" Regina giggled, holding on to Emma for dear life.

"I'm glad you're enjoying yourself love, now move your arm I can't bloody see." Emma said. Regina frowned at her and then move her arm when she realized Emma was right.

They made it the rest of the way up the stairs safely and Emma just went ahead and carried her all the way to her room before setting her down by the door.

"There we go." She sighed. "Goodnight Regina."

"Captain wait." Regina grabbed her hand and Emma turned when she felt the tug. Emma looked at her and Regina smiled up at her.

"What is it lass?" Emma asked.

"I…thank you…I had a lot of fun tonight…some of the best fun I've ever had in fact." The princess said. Emma gave her a smirk. "I'm glad I could convince you to come out tonight."

"I'm glad you did too, Regina." Emma said, her smirk growing into a small smile. Regina looked at her for a moment, taking in how beautiful her eyes were in the flickering candlelight.

"You should get some rest love." Emma said quietly, as if she were warding her off a questionable idea.

"Yes…" Regina said, enthralled by the blonde. She suddenly pushed herself up on her feet and pressed her lips softly to the captain's cheek. Emma froze at the action, her hands held up as if she were going to grab Regina, but she didn't touch her. She didn't know if she'd push her away or pull her closer. And in the second of her uncertainty, Regina pulled away slowly.

"I…" Regina was unsure of what to say. "Goodnight, captain."

Emma was too shocked to respond, and Regina retreated into her bedroom. The click of the door signaled and instant feeling of regret for our hapless captain.

"Goodnight, Princess." Emma whispered to the door before turning and walking away to her own bedroom.

Chapter Text

When Belle began stirring back into the world of the living, the first thing she noticed was the incredibly comfortable warmth that engulfed her. Though she had no trouble breathing, her face was buried in soft cotton and the thin covers that lay over her weren't the only source of heat warding off the cool island breeze.

She opened her eyes slowly, blinking away sleep as she adjusted to the sudden onslaught of sunlight seeping in from the window above the bed. She pulled away from whatever her head was resting against and looked up, her eyes going wide when she saw just what it was that was keeping her so delightfully warm.

Or rather who it was, seeing as she was wrapped up tightly in Ruby's arms.

"Uhm…Ruby?" she tried gently, unable to recall ever coming home or climbing into bed.

"Mmmm." The quartermaster groaned slightly and pulled her closer, burying her face in some slightly awkward spot between her neck and her breasts.

"R-Ruby!" she said louder, her face turning a shade of red bordering on the other woman's namesake.

"What." She groaned, opening her eyes and extracting her face from Belle's skin to look up at her to ascertain why her pleasant slumber was being interrupted. Her eyes went wide when she saw how she was holding the younger brunette, and how close her hands where to groping her inappropriately.

"Ah shit." She swore, pulling herself away and freeing the younger girl. "I'm sorry lass."

"How did I get home?" Belle asked, a suspicious look in her eyes. "All I recall is you telling me I should get some rest and then…nothing."

"Uh…yeah." Ruby chuckled nervously. "You…fell asleep…right there. I had to carry you home and into bed."

"I see…" Belle looked at her like she was expecting Ruby to tell her more. The older girl quickly took on a worried look.

"I promise I didn't…touch you beyond that." She said nervously. "I think I must have…rolled towards you in my sleep…I'm sorry."

Belle sighed in relief. She had no reason to disbelieve the pirate, especially since the clothes she wore last night were still in place on her. Except for the vest but she figured Ruby took that off of her for the sake of her own comfort.

"It's alright." Belle gave her a small smile. "I'm sorry I got suspicious…I suppose…"

"You can't be certain can you." Ruby shrugged. "I don't blame you…"

"Ruby." She sighed. Her intention was not to make the older woman feel bad for what she'd said the previous day…again.

"I can ask the captain if she can make arrangements in the mansion if you'd like." Ruby offered.

Belle bit her lip and then shook her head. "That's not necessary."

"Are you sure?" Ruby asked. Belle smirked.

"So much for not caring either way, Ms. Lucas." She teased, pressing a soft kiss to her cheek before she got out of bed.

"W-well I…" the pirate stammered uselessly. Belle found her vest and slipped it back on before she looked at the first mate.

"So, shall we start your lessons today?" she asked with a grin. Ruby took a second to realize what Belle was referring to.

"Oh…uh…Yeah." She smiled at her nervously with a nod. "Just go easy on me huh lass?"

"Don't worry, I'll be gentle." Belle winked, getting Ruby to laugh rather loudly.

Regina had almost refused to wake up. Her head hurt a little and her eyes protested rather noticeably when she opened them and was met, or rather, slapped in the face with sunlight pouring in from the window above her bed.

Memories of the night before started pouring in, and groaned at herself for the last one. Did she really have to kiss the captain again? Well she supposed one on the cheek was not that terrible. Still, the look the captain gave her was not exactly the desired reaction. Perhaps she hadn't seen it coming? Or maybe she was just too drunk to have given a proper response…then again it was Emma who had to carry Regina up the stairs due to intoxication…speaking of which.

Ugh …I will never drink so much again.

But thankfully her inebriation did not mean she forgot anything of the conversation that were had the night before…and suddenly all the extra information she'd received from the captain came back to her.

Her parents …this mansion…

Regina got up, groaning to herself when her head protested the quick movement, and then made her way over to the writing desk, pulling the journal out of the drawer, along with the bottle of ink and the quill. She revised her older notes before jotting down the newest date and updating the latest information.

6. She has since confirmed that she is of noble blood, and is in fact the only member of her crew with the ability to read and write.

7. During an interaction the previous night, she became sore with Ms. Lucas for making comments of her being a princess …I am not yet sure if this was perhaps just a playful taunt the likes Ms. Lucas is one to make.

8. She helped the people of this cape throughout the war, but still feels she has failed in some respect.

9. She is loathe to take prisoners due to the queen 's treatment of the people during the war.

10. This mansion belonged to her late parents.

11. She was 16 years of age when she became a pirate.

Some of the information might have been unnecessary, and it wasn't all in the order Regina learned it, but it didn't matter much to the princess as long as it was written in. It did feel strange to speak of her mother without making references to their relation, but she could move past that.

The only thing she couldn't seem to move past was the feeling of guilt that seemed to creep up inside her. What Emma told her had been in confidence, and while she wasn't going about spreading rumors, Regina did feel it was some strange form of betrayal to keep a secret diary keeping track of their conversation…especially the point about Emma's parents, which the captain had confided in her about while she was under the influence of alcohol. Regina took a deep breath and tried to push past her own sudden highly alert conscience. She shut the diary and put it away before she got dressed for her day. She did, after all, promise the captain that she would help with her ledgers.

She dressed quickly, slipping on a new cotton shirt (she was sure the one from last night had spilled rum on it, it smelled as though it did.) and the new trousers and vest that she had been wearing the night before.

She grimaced at the sight of her hair. She tried to braid it again after it had dried the night of the storm that nearly killed her, but it had been messy and had only progressed to an even worse state last night. She loosened it, her scalp already feeling much better for it, and prayed to the gods that the vanity in her room held a brush in one of it's as yet unopened drawers.

The gods were kind to her that day, and thankfully she managed to brush it until it was presentable. She smiled into her reflection at her success, and decided she'd leave it loose for now, after all it was a freedom she was hardly allowed at home. Her mother somehow had the impression that loose hair meant loose morals. She rolled her eyes. This was why the fun dances were on the isles and not in Misthaven.

She let her hair trail over her shoulder and in sight, and when she was satisfied with her appearance, she slipped on her boots and headed downstairs.

"Good Morning Miss Regina!" Abbie said brightly as she breezed out of the kitchen, a tray of what seemed to be pastries in her hand.

"Good morning Abbie." Regina smiled at her, sniffing the air as the scent of the treats hit her nostrils. "Ooh, what's that?"

"Well, Captain Swan managed to get some jams and things off a ship miss." Abbie grinned. "Oh I haven't baked in a while. Not since they'd left miss, but the captain loves 'er treats some times, so I made some jam scones…Would you like one miss?"

The tray offered to her smelled too tempting to resist.

"Don't mind if I do." She picked one off the tray gingerly and bit into it, unable to stop the moan that escaped her. She was hungrier than she thought, and the scone was perfection wrapped in dough. "This is lovely Abbie. You're a wonderful baker!"

"Oh, it's all thanks to Widow Lucas miss…she taught me everything I know. Between you and me miss, I think it's why Ms. Lucas enjoys havin' me here." The redhead giggled like a schoolgirl.

"A woman who knows her way about the kitchen wins the hearts of many dear. You should be very proud of your talents." Regina said with a smile. Abbie visibly puffed in instant pride, the grin on her face about as bright as the sun that shone in the sky.

"Thank you miss." She said. "If you're looking for the captain, she's in 'er study as usual."

"Somehow I'm not surprised." Regina chuckled and gave her a gracious nod before she walked towards the study. At the archway leading into the room, she stopped for a second. The captain sat at her desk, the sun glowing over her and making her golden hair shine. Regina sighed, a small smile appearing on her lips. It was odd to her that someone so rough in speech and manner could look so graceful.

"Ah, morning lass." Emma looked up, having noticed her. Regina had to shake herself out of her daze and gave the captain a gentle, nervous smile.

"Good morning captain." She stepped into the room. Emma gave her a small smile and picked up a cup from where it sat in front of her, a safe distance away from her ledgers.

"Care for a cup?" Emma offered. Regina held up a hand.

"Captain I truly do not mean to offend, but if I catch even a whiff of rum today, I might just vomit." She said bluntly. Emma laughed a little and shook her head, gesturing to the tea set on the table to the left of the room, which Regina had yet to notice.

"It's tea love, helps with the headache and settles the stomach." She said.

"Oh…well…in that case." Regina smiled at her and Emma made her a gesture which told her she could help herself. Regina approached the table and poured herself a cup before approaching the desk, cup held steadily so as not to spill a drop. "Hard at work already I see."

"No rest for the wicked." Emma sighed, looking from paper to ledger before she scribbled something in.

"Well, how might I begin to help?" Regina said.

"You sure you're up to it?" Emma looked up at her. "Not too hungover?"

"Captain, it's a headache, not the plague, I'll be fine." Regina said, looking over to the papers to try and discern the system Emma had worked on. She'd found some semblance of understanding the day before when she'd helped Emma create a new one for the ledgers, but the old system was still quite foreign to her.

"Suit yourself." Emma said, finishing what she was writing before she got up and made a gesture for Regina to follow her. The princess did as she was bid and the captain came up to the other end of the table, where a box filled with papers sat. Emma pulled a chair out and offered the seat to Regina, who sat down gently, putting her cup down a safe distance from the papers.

"Now it's simple, just write in the date and the amount of materials acquired, and then simply write down which materials went to who on which dates." Emma explained. Regina nodded in understanding and moved to pick up on of the papers. "Now be careful with them lass…some of these papers are twenty years old."

"I'll be gentle, captain." Regina grinned up at her mirthfully and Emma rolled her eyes at her, unable to hide her smirk as she turned away from her to return to her desk.

"Start from the earliest date you can find lass." The blonde instructed as she sat down. "And try to keep them in order, don't fret if you make a mistake, just cross it off and rearrange it as necessary."

"Will do, Captain." Regina smiled over at her before she looked back at the papers in front of her. She decided that sorting through them before actually writing anything down would help reduce any possible mistakes and ultimately mean that Emma's ledgers were as clean as possible. There were a few instances and she sorted that she had to push past the look of rage she'd undoubtedly receive from her mother for actually helping the captain. (As well as try not to smirk to her own thoughts.)

She picked up a parchment and opened it to inspect the date. It was then that a strange feeling of familiarity came over her - like something about the sheet she held in her hand was not new at all. Her curiosity piqued, she looked over the paper. It was an inventory list of supplies. Definitely not in Emma's hand, Regina realized. It denoted a date of departure from port, and a recorded date of nearly twenty years prior. She read through the list of supplies - wood, cloth, metal, rum, sugar, food. Standard voyage supplies for repairs, nourishment, and cargo that could be traded. In that it was similar to other records the princess had seen. But it was the penmanship, the precise lettering, the stops at the end of sentences that did not leak like others would have. She knew the hand that wrote this list. She looked below, hoping for a signature, and definitely not expecting the one she found.

Captain Maurice French.

Belle's father, back when he was a naval captain for her mother.

It occurred to Regina then that the date on this paper was the earliest one she found, and after some quick looking through the rest of the papers, she confirmed that there was no other date before this. She had a hunch, and hoped that she'd be able to get it answered without incident. She cleared her throat.

"Captain." She said, the scratching of quill against paper that was ever present from the desk now stopped, and the air seemed to hang thick as her nerves collected themselves in the pit of her stomach.

"Yes lass?" Emma asked. The parchment baring Maurice's name in her hand, Regina slowly stepped up to the captain's desk, holding the paper out

"This is the earliest date I found…do you perhaps have anything earlier you'd like me to include?" she asked. Emma gently took the paper to inspect the date and Regina's hand went behind her back so that the princess could hide it's erratic shaking. Emma smirked at the date, apparently ignoring the signature.

"No…" the let out a soft chuckle. "This was actually my first haul. There should be a counter document in my hand though, there was some cargo already used up and I wanted it updated. Check the box."

"Of course." Regina gave her a smile as she took the paper and went back to the table, pushing her nerves away. "Quite a haul…for a sixteen year old."

"I had quite a large sum of men behind me. It was the war, anyone who wasn't in the army was either rebelling against Cora in their own way, a prisoner, or six feet under the dirt." Emma said.

"And, were you already a pirate at this point?" Regina asked. She looked over her shoulder to see Emma's hand still, quill in her hand, eyes unfocused, mind a thousand miles away…or perhaps simply twenty years in the past.

"No…no this was my uhhh…my turning point, I suppose." She let out a soft sigh.

"I see." Regina nodded, silently memorizing the date in her mind. It was some horrible irony, she'd later learn, that Emma wished she could forget it.

"R" Belle said with a small smirk as she pointed to the letter she wanted Ruby to copy. The version that was written on the parchment was much cruder, but it was correct nevertheless.


"That's easy." Ruby said, still concentrating way too hard on forming the letters with her quill, the second letter far too far away from the first, but that was something Ruby would develop as she learned, Belle knew that much.

"B." She instructed.

"Shit…" Ruby muttered under her breath as she tried so hard to keep her hand steady as she created the side curves of the letter.

"Y." Belle said with a hint of finality.

"That looks like a U." Ruby said.

"No see…" Belle pointed at it. "It starts like a U but then it's got a stem at the bottom."

"…A U with it's cock out." Ruby joked. Belle turned a shade of red and slammed the book shut - not particularly caring that she nearly did so on Ruby's nose.

"What does the word you spelled say?" the noble girl asked, ignoring the comment.

"Uhh." Ruby looked down at the text version of her name with no sign of familiarity whatsoever. "Rrrrrrrrrrrrruhhhhhhbbb…eh?"

"Ruby!" Belle corrected.

"What? I'm trying." Ruby huffed.

"No, silly." Belle put her finger down on the paper. "That says 'Ruby."

"Oh…" Ruby looked at her name with the same novelty. "It looks funny."

"What do you mean?" Belle asked.

"I mean, I didn't imagine it would look like that." Ruby said with a shrug. "I thought it would look longer."

"Don't feel too self conscious because it's short, Ruby." Belle teased. It took the quartermaster a second to realize the double meaning before she started laughing.

"Oh piss off." She said. Belle rolled her eyes.

"Can you write that?" she handed her the quill with a cheeky smirk. The older brunette grumbled.


"Come on, let's try your last name." Belle picked up the book again.

"Why did we start with my name?" Ruby said. Belle shrugged.

"It's a fairly good place to start…unless you have an overcomplicated name, which you thankfully don't." She said.

"What's the most complicated name you've ever heard then?" Ruby asked with a smile. Belle thought for a moment before she gently took the quill from Ruby's hands and wrote the name 'Quixote' from one of her favourite novels.

"Bloody hell…" Ruby said. "What's that then?"

"A name." Belle said, pronouncing it slowly as Kee-ho-te.

"Uhhhh bless you?" Ruby looked at her strangely and Belle laughed.

"It's a name, silly." Belle said before handing the quill back to her. She opened the book again and put her finger down near a letter before she said "L."

Ruby began writing the letters again until she made it (rather painfully) through her last name.

"Lucas." Belle said with a smile, looking up from the word towards the person it referred to.

"See now that one makes sense." Ruby said. "You'd expect it to be that long."

"Do you try to imagine how words look?" Belle asked. Ruby shrugged.

"Sometimes, then I remember I don't have a fucking clue either way." She said. "My granny tried to teach me as a kid, but I didn't really give a damn…didn't give a damn about much at that point."

"Why not?" Belle asked curiously. Ruby sighed.

"My mother was sick." Ruby said. "And then she died and the next time Granny tried to teach me a word I threw the book across the room and told her to fuck off."

"You learned that one then." Belle said before she looked over at Ruby, unable to keep herself from empathizing with the older girl. "I lost my mother when I was young too - she was ill as well."

"It's shit isn't it?" Ruby said. "Having someone you care for so much and just…losing them like that…you don't even know why or how at that age."

"It is…rather shit yes." Belle said. Ruby snorted a small laugh at the usually rather proper woman and looked up at her, their eyes locking for a lingering moment. The younger girl opened her mouth, as if to say something, and then cleared her throat and broke the contact. She picked up the quill, passing it gently to the older girl again. "What would you like me to show you how to write next?"

Ruby looked down at the paper, losing focus for a moment before she looked up to Belle again with a small smile.

"Another name." She said. "Anita."

Belle nodded, and followed the process they'd been using. She noticed at that moment that Ruby was writing on the edge of the page, trying to paint each of the five letters as neatly as possible. When Belle finished spelling the name out, Ruby looked over at where she'd written her last name, and followed the letters carefully, immediately after the name Anita.

When she was finished, she stared at it like she was hoping the letters would start glowing, and Belle wasn't sure what to say to her. Before she knew it, Ruby was getting up and going over towards her wardrobe, opening a drawer in some kind of haste and pulling out a small wooden box.

"Ruby?" Belle asked, but the older girl didn't say anything. She pulled out a silver colored locket from the box, storing the container away again and stepping back up to the table. "What's that?"

"…My mother's locket." Ruby said. "I never wear it…mostly because I don't wanna lose it but…it just…always felt empty. We never managed to get a portrait of her. Couldn't afford it. It felt useless to wear an empty locket but…"

Sea-worn fingers brushed over the now dry ink of her mother's name and Belle noted the tiniest hint of an upward curl in the corner of Ruby's mouth.

"It's not a picture but…it almost feels like she's closer now…Like I can remember she was real and not just some kind of beautiful dream that ended in a nightmare."

Belle didn't know what to say, so she just watched on as Ruby gently picked up the paper they'd been using to practice her writing and very carefully tore off the piece of it that held her mother's name. She rolled it up, and opened the lock it, a smile on her face as she pressed a small kiss to the small roll of parchment and placed it inside the locket, pressing it closed until the clip made the telltale 'snap' that signified it was locked and safe. Then she held open the chain and pulled the necklace around her neck.

"Funny." She chuckled slightly. "It felt heavier when I wore it at her funeral."

Belle stood up, until now unaware that tears were prickling at her eyes, as she pulled out a gold chain from under her shirt and held it up, opening it to show a smaller version of the portrait that stood in her father's home - the portrait of her mother.

"That's my mother…" Belle said with a small smile. "Colette."

"That's a beautiful name." Ruby said, gently taking up the quill again. "Show it to me?"

Belle smiled at her, taking the quill and writing her mother's name for the first time in years. 'Colette French.'

"You look like her." Ruby said, looking from Belle's open locket to her face with a smile. "You have her eyes."

"Your mother had a beautiful name, Ruby." Belle said. "And I know that maybe she didn't have this in mind for you…but I'm sure that if she could see what you're doing to keep your people safe and your village running…I'm sure she'd be very proud."

Fingers gently found their way into Belle's palms and Ruby held their hands up in between them.

"You gave me something today that I thought I could never have again Belle." The pirate said, looking into the younger girl's eyes so intensely, Belle had to remember how to breathe. "Nothing I can do will ever be enough to thank you for that."

Belle's hand somehow found it's way to Ruby's cheek, cupping it gently as her thumb rested on her chin. She became all too aware that they were now closer, and that she was staring at her lips, rather than looking at her eyes.

"I…" Belle stammered. "I'm sorry uhm…I need to step outside."

The request came in a whisper, and the noble girl didn't wait for a response. The next thing Ruby knew, she was hearing the door close behind Belle as she left the guest house.

"Regina." The young princess looked up from the table to see her best friend standing in the doorway of the study nervously. "Oh…I-I'm very sorry captain."

"It's alright Belle." Emma nodded. "You can come in."

"Actually…I was hoping I could speak to Regina alone for a moment." The younger girl said to the captain nervously. Emma looked at her with mild concern.

"Did Ruby do something stupid lass?" the captain asked. Belle shook her head, the faintest hint of a pained smile on her face.

"No, Captain. But thank you for your concern, I appreciate it." She said. Emma nodded to her and then looked to Regina.

"Go on lass, take however long you need." She nodded her blonde head towards Belle's direction.

"Thank you captain." Regina gave her a smile as she got up and rushed to her friend, who, from the look in Belle's eyes, she could tell was more than a little distressed. She took her younger friend's hand gently and pulled her away from the study and up the stairs to her room. "What happened?"

"I hate you and your stupid theories." Belle blurted out.

"I love you too dear." Regina rolled her eyes. "Would you be so kind as to explain what I've done to earn such animosity?"

"I think I'm falling in love with Ruby." Belle blurted out again. Regina gawked at her and Belle let out a loud sigh, groaned in frustration, and threw herself on the bed dramatically. "I can't even think straight!"

Regina smirked to herself as a thought passed her mind, but it was not a joke that fit their timeline so she moved on.

"Dear, do calm down and take the time to explain everything to me coherently please?" she said gently as she perched herself on an empty spot on the mattress that was not taken up by Belle and her current accompanying drama.

"I was just teaching Ruby how to write!" Belle stressed.

"And then you fell in love with her." Regina nodded. "Your standards are horribly low my darling."

"Oh shut up!" Belle swatted her thigh lightly. "This is all your fault."

"Excuse you, I try to keep very high standards." Regina teased.

"Regina." Belle whined as she threw a pillow over her head and wondered for a moment if she could smother herself to death and save everyone a load of trouble. But Regina pulled the pillow away before she could make an attempt and she just frowned at her best friend.

"I'm only teasing to try and ease the tension dear, but I see you're too far beyond that." The princess said. "So, go one then, you were teaching Ruby to write."

"And she made a dirty joke." Belle rolled her eyes.

"As Ruby does." Regina nodded.

"And then…I made one." Belle added with a blush. Regina beamed at her.

"Sometimes I'm reminded why I love you." The princess said. Belle rolled her eyes at her again.

"I love you too, and then you come up with ridiculous theories about how we're fated to fall in love with pirates." Belle said, smacking her in the side with a pillow. "And then it happens."

"It's not my fault." Regina held up her hands innocently. "I am merely a vessel for the fates to do their work."

"Bite me." Belle spat in response. Regina just laughed.

"Alright well go on, what happened after the exchange of unsavory pleasantries." Regina prompted.

"She told me about how she was being taught how to read as a child and then she didn't have any motivation for it after…" Belle sighed. "After her mother died."

Having been there for the biggest tragedy in Belle's life, having held her best friend in her arms as she sobbed while they put Colette French in the ground, being possibly the only other person who truly knew what Belle went through, besides Belle herself, when she lost one of the three most important people in her life, Regina didn't take too long to discern the kind of connection that she undoubtedly formed with the pirate quartermaster.

"Belle…" Regina sighed, her hand coming gently over the younger brunette's

"She asked me to teach her to write her mother's name…so I did." Belle said. "And then she took the slip of paper and put it in her mother's locket."

Belle didn't miss how Regina's eyes fell to the centre of her chest, where the princess knew the locket would fall when hanging from her neck - which it always was.

"It seems you and Ms. Lucas have a lot more in common that previously thought." The princess observed.

"She thanked me…said I gave her a gift because now she felt closer to her mother than she ever could after her death…because she could see a part of her I suppose, in her name." Belle explained. "She was holding my hands…we were so close…"

Regina's eyes grew wider. "Did you kiss her?"

"No." Belle shook her head. "But…gods did I want to…Regina I've never felt like this before."

The princess let out a soft sigh, her mind floating for a moment to the captain.

"I fear we might be in the same…problematic boat." She said.

"What do you mean?" Belle asked, pushing herself up on her shoulders.

"I kissed the captain again last night…on the cheek, mind you." Regina clarified. "And it was after I'd had a bit to drink…but that's when inhibitions are removed is it not? When your true desires tend to motivate you."

"Yes." Belle nodded. "That's what they say at least."

"I wanted to do more than kiss her on the cheek." Regina shrugged. "My instincts were telling me to…"

"Oh gods." Belle fell back on the bed. "We've fallen in love with pirates."

Regina sighed and let herself fall very closely beside the younger girl, wrapping her arms around her in an embrace.

"It appears we have…"

Chapter Text

Emma was sitting alone in her study, trying to focus on her numbers. It was normal, really, for her to be alone in this study. So why she suddenly felt it was much emptier than usual was a mystery to her. Regina hadn't even been in there very long - a couple of hours at most - when Belle asked to borrow her. She closed her eyes and released a soft sigh, pressing the bridge of her nose in mild frustration. It must have been the hangover, she thought, that was truly distracting her.

How she wished she could believe herself.

A soft knock pulled her out of her thoughts and she saw Ruby leaning against the wooden jamb of the arch.

"Do you have a minute?" the younger pirate asked. She wasn't looking up, and her nose seemed to have a reddish tint. So either she was getting sick, Emma theorized, or she'd been crying.

"What's wrong?" the captain asked. Ruby stepped inside and sighed.

"It's Belle…I may have done something stupid." She said.

"She came in here looking for Regina…seemed upset, I asked if you had, she said no." Emma told her. Ruby rolled her eyes.

"Yeah well she probably doesn't know it does she?"

"If you could tell me before I die of old age that'd be grand." Emma said. Ruby sighed.

"I fucked up Swan…I think…I…might have fallen in love with her." The quartermaster admitted. Emma's brow rose, and she sighed.

"Not sure what to tell you Ruby." She scratched at her brow. "Except that I'm surprised, you don't usually give a rat's ass."

"I've never fallen in love with anyone Swan, you know this." Ruby said, stepping around the room and spinning the globe forcefully to watch it spin out of control.

"What about that boy peter who wanted to court you when we met?" Emma asked. "You never did tell me what happened to him."

"Army got him in the midst of the war." Ruby sighed. "Besides he was pretty but I've met trees you could have a better conversation with, I feel sorry for the fucker though."

"I'm sorry." Emma sighed. "I had no idea."

"It's been years." Ruby shrugged. "Haven't even thought about him in ages but…Belle she…She's different Swan…I never felt like I do about her."

Emma looked up at her best friend and then sighed. "You're not alone much there."

"What d'you mean?" Ruby asked, turning on her heel suddenly to look at her. Emma sighed and was about to say something when they heard rushed footsteps approach the study.

"Captain Swan! I need your help!"

"There's something I need to tell you." Regina said to Belle with a soft sigh. Belle looked at her in concern. "It's about the captain…and your father."

"What have they got to do with each other?" Belle asked.

"Well, you know how I was helping the captain sort out her papers today?" Regina said.

"Yes." Belle nodded.

"I found…a document. It was an inventory list off a ship, It's down in Emma's study and it's dated around twenty years ago…it's the original inventory of the first ship Emma attacked as a pirate." Regina explained.

"What does that have to do with my father?" Belle asked.

"Because…the captain of the ship at the time was…Captain Maurice French." Regina said. "The documents till bears his signature."

Belle could seldom recall the time her father bore the title of captain, she knew him mostly as an Admiral and then an ambassador when the queen promoted him specifically for his knowledge of the isles.

"You said the document had a date?" the younger girl asked. Regina nodded, brows slightly furrowed as she wondered why Belle would ask about that specifically. Belle suddenly shot up off the bed and towards Regina's writing desk. "Regina do you know what this means?"

"That your father knew Emma?" Regina asked. Belle picked up the journal she knew Regina was using as her log o f the captain's information.

"No! It means we know, roughly, the date when Emma became a pirate." Belle said. "You've got to write it in now before you forget the date…you do remember it right?"

"Yes, I do…are you not at all concerned for your father?" Regina asked. "He was attacked by Emma."

"I highly doubt she did targeted him specifically. Much like she didn't target us when she attacked our ship. He's fine isn't he?" Belle shrugged off.

"Well as long as you're alright with it then." Regina got up and went to the desk, finding the quill and ink bottle, following Belle's advice to write it down. It felt fitting, she thought as she opened the journal, that the date should follow the note that documented Emma's age when she began her career in piracy.

12: She sacked Maurice 's ship on 31st January 1700.

"That's…" Belle looked at the date with a furrowed brow.

"What is it?" Regina looked up at her, putting the quill down as she stood up straight.

"I…I can't be sure but that date somehow links to the war." Belle shook her head. "At least if my memory serves me correctly it does…I need to get my hands on a history book."

"From what Emma's told me, they're horribly misleading." Regina sighed.

"Yes but the dates aren't." Belle said. "It matters little to change the date of a specific event in history, once you've edited the details to your liking."

"Mother." Regina seethed. "I can't believe she would do this…actually no, to a point I can believe she would allow such suffering…I just don't understand. She can be a hateful bitch-"

"Regina!" Belle chided.

"Oh spare me, it's not like she can hear what I'm saying, and if she can it's her own fault." Regina sighed, crossing her arms. Belle placed a gentle hand on the older girl's shoulder.

"You really are in love with Emma aren't you?" she said with a teasing smirk. Regina shrugged her hand off.

"Stop that. I'm trying to loathe my mother for bringing famine on a whole populace." The princess said. Belle chuckled.

"Well, I think Ruby's got a history book in her guest house if you'd like, saves you from having to rummage in Emma's study and arouse suspicion." Belle suggested.

"If you can find a recent one, I saw one in Emma's quarter's on the ship but it was an outdated version, I doubt the war had been documented yet." Regina sighed. "We might not ever be able to find out what the date means."

"Not unless we ask." Belle said.

"Hah." Regina shut the journal. "Don't even try to bring up Emma's past to her…she's…guarded…To a point, I can see why, especially when it comes to the war."

"You slipped past her guard enough to know this mansion belonged to her parents." Belle gestured to the journal and Regina sighed.

"She...she told me that while I was drunk, and she might have been as well I'm not entirely sure." the princess said. "I feel a little bad writing all that down actually."

"Regina." Belle placed a gentle hand on her shoulder again. "I know this is all questionable, to gather information on another person like this in the hopes of finding the truth...but you said it yourself that she's a noble! If...if she's got some kind of birthright..."

"What?" Regina looked up at her friend when Belle trailed off. "What are you thinking?"

"She's a Misthaven noble. Is she not?" Belle said. Regina gave her a slow nod. "Well'd be able to-"

"Belle stop." Regina halted her friend in her tracks. "As enticing as the idea is to think that my love for Emma isn't doomed to the bowels of hell, there's no way. If my mother truly did what she did to Emma and her people, if she really does know who Emma is? Chances are the second she sees her she'll sentence her to death. And if I even suggest that I want to marry her? She'd sooner have me killed or locked up in some kind of asylum for the insane than marry me off to a pirate."

"Well what do you suggest then?" Belle said. "Because...because if we're both in love with pirates, at least one of us should end up happy."

"What are you talking about?" Regina asked.

"You and Emma." Belle sighed. "If she's a noble, well then you two have a chance...what chance have I got with Ruby?"

Regina took a deep breath and sighed, Belle was right of course, to a point. She had a better chance with Emma than her friend did with the quartermaster, that is if you took her mother out of the equation. She rolled her eyes.

"I'll tell you one thing...I'm not looking forward to going back home." Belle said with a sigh and something lit up in Regina's mind.

"Who says we have to?" the princess said.

"What?" Belle looked up at her.

"Belle I hardly doubt my mother will send that amount of gold and another crew of men here to collect us...and...and even if she does we could always..." Regina trailed off and Belle gawked at her.

"What? Have Emma and her crew steal the gold, kill off the men and we can live in lavish illegality for the rest of our lives?" Belle asked sarcastically.

"It's not the worst idea..." Regina shrugged.

"What makes you think Emma and Ruby would even go along with it?" Belle said. Regina smirked.

"I believe I have my ways of convincing Emma. You shouldn't have too much of a difficulty in finding what makes Ms. Lucas tick." she said.

"You're mad." Belle said through a laugh. "You're absolutely mad."

"So you'll do it then?" Regina asked. Belle rolled her eyes.

"I suppose if anything is worth trying, this is." she said, getting up and hugging Regina tightly. the princess returned the sentiment in kind, before they heard some kind of shout coming from downstairs.

"Did you hear that?" Belle asked.

"Sounds like someone's in trouble." Regina said, rushing to the door and down the stairs with Belle on her tail, the journal forgotten on Regina's desk. When they arrived at the foot of the stairs, they found a man with panicked eyes, long dark hair, and a thick beard looking into the captain's study. He wore a tri-pointed hat and a long coat with a sword at his hip, and for a moment Regina wondered if he was a man in Emma's crew she hadn't met yet.

"Come in Jack, what's wrong?" Emma said. The man stepped into the study and Regina stepped to the door, Emma waved her and Belle in and checked the immediate surroundings of the study to see if someone else was listening, but the house was all but empty.

"It''s..." the man quickly broke down into tears and Regina looked over at Emma, who had a grim look on her face.

"Bloody hell man, what happened?" Ruby asked.

"They took my ship...they took my crew...they...they killed Sally!"

There was a crash, the sound of a plate shattering into a thousand pieces, and all five pairs of eyes in the room moved to the doorway. Abbie stood there, eyes wide and face set in shock.

"No." she shook her head. "You don't mean..."

"I'm sorry Abbie." the man sobbed. "She's gone."

Abbie ran in, wrapping her arms around the man and broke down along with him.

"Captain." Regina spoke quietly as she stepped up towards the blonde. "What's going on?"

"Jack here is a captain much like myself." Emma explained. "Sally was his first mate...and his wife...and...Abbie's sister."

"Oh no." Belle said. Ruby had stepped over to her and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.

"It's the risk you take on the open seas lass." she said.

"They shot her right in front o' me..." the man sobbed. "took the fuckin' bullet that should'a killed me."

"She was always a brave one." Abbie sobbed, sniffling as she wiped tears from her cheeks. Regina stepped over to her and hugged her.

"I'm so sorry." she said quietly to her.

"Thank you miss Regina." Abbie whispered back. They held on for a moment before the redhead pulled away and looked to her brother-in-law.

"I'll 'ave to go tell pa." she said. "You should be there to tell Billy and Suzie."

"They're gonna be heartbroken." Jack sniffed.

"Who are Billy and Suzie?" Belle asked Ruby quietly.

"Jack and Sally's kids." Ruby sighed. Belle looked at her with a frown and furrowed brow. Ruby's hands clenched tightly into fists. "Jack, who the fuck did this?"

"The queen's privateers." Jack said. "The one's from the sweet shores...they took my ship and enslaved my crew on the plantation."

Regina recalled the lessons about the sugar plantations on the isles.

"I've got not a penny to me name Captain Swan." Jack looked up at Emma pleadingly. "I've no way to pay you now but...but I promise ye...if you get my ship and my crew back, I'll dedicate my life to repayin' you!"

"Where did they attack you?" Emma asked.

"'bout 20 miles off the mainland." Jack said. "I reckon they'd just set off from delivering a shipment. They targeted us. They knew we were coming...It was that rat Randall! They paid him off and let him go before they took off with my ship! I chased 'im down and slit the bastard's throat and stabbed him ten times!"

"Enough." Emma said, holding a hand up to pacify him. "You got your revenge on him, now we have to get your men and your ship back."

she moved to the table with the globe, turning it slowly to find the position she wanted on it. Jack stepped over to her and Ruby did as well.

"It was about here." Jack pointed to a spot on the map.

"That's three days." Ruby said. "To get to the sweet shores."

"Aye, but they'll have to cross our shores first." Jack said.

"That's two." Ruby said.

"We wait." Emma said. "We hold off, prepare for the trip, wait till they cross us, then follow them, but at a day's pace."

"Why the waiting?" Ruby asked.

"Because we wanna surprise them." Emma smirked a little. "At a day's pace, they won't see us on their scopes, won't see us coming, and they won't be prepared for a fight. We'll wipe them out and free your men, take what they've got and leave their bodies to the buzzards."

"Ransack the whole isle?" Ruby asked.

"Those fucking Privateers have given us enough trouble." Emma said. "They're nothing but traitors to the isles. Slave drivers and whoremongers and thieves with the queen's consent. I don't allow filth like that on my waters."

The blonde captain turned to the newly widowed man. "It'll be my pleasure to have you on my ship Jack, and by my side in this fight, but if you wanna stay here with your children you know I'll not hold it against you."

"No." Jack shook his head. "I'll not sit by and let someone else avenge my wife. If I die on that plantation I want my kids to know their father died with honour - I'd rather that than sit and sob about her death without takin' any action."

"Jack be careful." Abbie said. He looked at her and gave her a strong nod.

"They're with your pa?" Jack asked.

"Ma's with 'em while Pa works the fields, little Billy's gotten handy with the plow." Abbie gave a soft smile. Jack did the same.

"He's a strong lad." he said. "I'll be home tonight but...Your pa will be right furious."

"I'll go tell him." Abbie said again. "Captain...could I..."

"Take the time you need to be with your family lass." Emma said. "We'll be alright here."

"Thank you Captain Swan." Abbie said. Emma gave her a nod and Abbie disappeared from the room. the blonde turned to the older man.

"You should go too, be with your family. Get your things together for the journey and meet us here in three days, we'll set sail at night, keep any other ships from seeing us." Emma plotted out.

"Aye Captain." Jack nodded. "And thank you."

"You'd do the same." Emma said. "Now off with you, your kids need you."

Jack gave her a gracious nod - almost like a bow - before he put his hat back on and stepped out of the study, leaving the house to begin the walk home.

"Ol' Billy Riley's gonna be livid." Ruby sighed. "He hated those privateers. Told you they should be hanged for treason, remember?"

"We've got bigger things to worry about. Tell the men, send word to anyone who's not here. We'll need anyone who's willing and able to help. If anyone volunteers, take them on." Emma instructed.

"Aye Captain." Ruby nodded. She looked to Belle. "I'll be back in an hour, two at most."

Belle gave her a small nod and a smile, and Emma, who had only just now turned around and found that the younger girl was speaking to Belle rather than her, said nothing as Ruby walked away.

"Will you two be alright on your own while we go-"

"You're leaving us here?" Regina asked. Emma looked at her with a raised brow.

"You don't mean to come with us." she said.

"Well...I suppose..." Regina sighed. "We're technically part of your crew are we not?"

"Well technically." Emma rolled her eyes. "But by that way of thinking, these are technically your mother's men we're going to attack."

"You said it yourself, they're nothing more than thieves with a long standing pardon." Regina crossed her arms. "You said you'd take on anyone who was willing and able to help - I stand here as both."

Emma put her hands on her hips and sighed, before her eyes flicked from Regina to Belle.

"And you, lass?" she asked the younger of the two.

"If Regina's going, then so am I." Belle said.

"Alright, I'll give you two a sword and a pistol each, teach you how to hold them and use them. I'm not much of a trainer, but I'll show you what I can...but you have to promise to be careful alright? Last thing we want is someone else getting hurt." Emma said.

"Of course, wouldn't want you losing your chance at all that gold now would we?" Regina smirked haughtily.

"...Right." Emma sighed. "Well be off. I've got to stock a ship with supplies."

"Aye aye, captain." Regina winked before she turned on her heel and walked away, Belle following her a second later left wondering if she'd just walked through a hurricane.

"How come that was so easy?" Belle asked.

"I told you, I have my ways of convincing the captain." Regina smiled. "Pack your things dear, we're off on an adventure!"

Chapter Text

As Ruby leaned against one of the columns around the back-porch of the mansion, watching Emma and Regina spar while Belle took a break, she realized the past three days, preparing the girls for the trip and teaching them how to wield a sword properly, was the most active she'd ever seen the captain in a long time. Emma worked hard of course, Ruby knew this, and she always had been the type that would rather do something herself than sit around and command others to do it - despite what she knew of the girl's past - but she usually worried herself half to death over making sure the village was well supplied and plotting out the next ships to attack and haul so that there would always be a steady flow of supplies into the cape. Sometimes Ruby couldn't wait until they went out on another expedition just because she missed the blonde.

Her eyes wandered over to Belle, who sat perched on the stone wall that boxed a section of the garden that Emma had cleared so that they'd have sparring room. This expedition in particular had a purpose that pushed Ruby forward more than usual. This was more personal than the war and the village. Abbie was their friend, Jack was too - He'd been the one to help Emma and Ruby when they had first gotten into the mess that was piracy - and those bastard privateers had hurt both of them in a way that no amount of vengeance could ever recompense. Two children had lost their mother. Ruby gritted her teeth. No one deserved that if it could be helped. Sally was a good woman, she died to save her husband. Now the men that killed her would pay a hundred fold for what they did. And even though they never spoke about it, Ruby knew that Belle thought the same, she could see it by the way she'd been training. Emma had to tell her to take a break and she'd almost refused, but then Emma turned the offer into an order. The girl was becoming ruthless.

"Watch your footing." Emma instructed the princess again.

"I am." Regina insisted.

"You nearly just tripped on a stone." Emma pointed. "Gods know what you're gonna be like should a fight break out on a ship in the middle of a fucking storm."

"Well hopefully it won't come to that." Regina sighed, wiping the sweat from her brow. "Now would you mind lecturing less and sparring more? I won't learn this by reading a book."

"En garde." Emma said, taking her fighting stance again, Regina doing the same. They stood in place for a moment and Regina smirked when she realized Emma was waiting on her to make the first move.

Look for an opening the blonde's teachings echoed in the princess' mind as she eyed her tutor-cum-opponent. Emma, trained for years in the art of making sure she doesn't get stabbed, was of course not as easy to survey as Belle had been when the blonde captain had suggested they try against one another. (They barely clanged swords against one another, and Emma had groaned in frustration, told them they'd forgive each other for murdering each other, and wrote that off as a bad idea.)

"I suppose you won't go easy on me?" Regina spoke, her voice smooth and even as she tried to stall.

"If I were anyone else I would have used your undue hesitation to cut you down and turn you into shark food by now." Emma said rather gruesomely. "I can see your eyes flitting around, even if I had a weakness I'd have hidden it by now. What are you waiting for?"

Emma's sword lowered itself as Emma spoke, the captain having relaxed only slightly, but slight was enough, Regina resisted a beaming grin.

"That." She said as she lunged, taking advantage of the extra half-second it took Emma to lift her sword up to the right height. The captain jumped and dodged in time, but the element of surprise Regina had managed to grab hold of was enough for the princess to gain her footing faster than the captain, and she was swinging at her before Emma knew where she was. Thankfully the captain's reflexes were better than that though, her sword coming up to block the princess' swing. Regina was smirking like a thief as they stopped in that position and Emma chuckled.

"Very nice lass." Emma nodded approvingly. "Next time, don't wait so long."

"Patience is a virtue captain." Regina reminded her. Emma rolled her eyes and Regina spun again in that second, surprising the captain again. Emma skidded back and blocked the low-coming swing again. "So is focus."

"You're using your strengths." Emma was almost grinning at her and Regina's heart was warming more than her skin was under the hot, tropical sun. "Good, you'll need every single one of them in a fight. Never underestimate yourself - that's when your opponent has won."

"I don't think I ever told you captain, but I don't like to lose." Regina smirked. Emma used her sword and body weight to push Regina off, getting the princess to skid back on the dirt a couple of inches, giving Emma enough room to move, spin, and swing, but Regina saw it coming and lifted her sword to catch Emma's.

"Good." Emma nodded. "I don't want you to lose either."

Their eyes connected and suddenly the tension Emma was putting on the sword eased up.

"Funny." Regina gave her a soft smile. "I recall you questioning how I hadn't been shot yet."

"Yeah well." Emma's lips had the faintest hint of a smirk. "Things change."

"I'm glad they have." Regina said, her eyes gentle on the captain's. Emma let out a soft sigh, the sword lowering in Regina's peripheral vision. The princess expected Emma to say something, was silently urging her to do so. And Emma opened her mouth, Regina's heart started beating.

"I…uhm…" Emma didn't take her eyes off of Regina…but. "Lucas."

"Aye captain." Ruby approached from where she'd been watching. Belle turned her head around to look at her and gave her a smile. Ruby couldn't help reciprocating for a moment before she stepped into the ring and looked back at the captain in time to catch the blonde's sheathed sword.

"Train with them a bit." Emma said. "Give them a new opponent to work with, I need a drink."

"Aye, I bet you do." Ruby smirked as Emma walked past her, the quartermaster's eyes falling on Regina, who blushed slightly and looked down and away in disappointment as Belle approached them. "Pay her no mind lass, sometimes it's like she's not got eyes."

"She's not the only one." Belle muttered enough to Regina. The princess smirked at her friend and Ruby raised a brow, gritting her teeth for a moment.

"Right well… Listen." Ruby strapped the sword to her belt and took on the role of the tutor instantly. "Emma's teachings, they're worth all the gold in the world, but it's not the only way to go about it."

"Meaning?" Regina asked.

"I've seen how you two are. You work together like a sail works with a ship - you cut one off the other and the other won't budge until you put it back. A connection like that? Well…a friend is sometimes the only valuable thing a pirate has." Ruby put her hands on her hips. "I'm gonna teach you how to hold each other's back in a fight. With one person, you've got blind spots…you ever seen a flamingo?"

"A what?" Regina asked.

"Oh, those long legged pink birds." Belle explained. "I saw a flock on the shores of an island on our way here."

"Aye." Ruby nodded. "They never travel alone - always in flocks. Know why that is?"

"To keep each other safe." Belle answered. Regina was still trying to figure out what a flamingo looked like.

"They always look about, walking close together, each bird looking in a different direction. They see a threat, they let out a warning cry and the whole flock's off in a second." Ruby said. "If you learn how to fight like that, you'll keep each other safe. You trust each other enough, that's half the work already done."

"Emma says sometimes, you're the only one who you can trust in a fight." Regina said. Ruby rolled her eyes.

"Emma's got a list of issues longer than the ship's main mast lass." She said. "She doesn't trust easily. But between you, me, and the gods, we used to be like that. I remember we took down half a crew of men just the two of us together without even having to utter a word to each other about it. We trusted each other, that was enough." Ruby explained. "It's not that she doesn't trust me of course…But there were…extenuating circumstances."

"What happened?" Regina asked curiously. Ruby's eyes lost focus for a moment.


"Emma…I'm so sorry…"

"Don't fucking touch me…I'll have the head of whoever's done this on a spike or I'll die trying."

"We need to get you safe."

"I'm not going anywhere."

"I'm sorry…yes you are."

Belle looked at Regina in concern for the woman in front of her. Ruby cleared her throat and both girls looked at her again.

"Her parents died." Ruby sighed. "But don't go tellin' her I told you that…she'd probably shoot me."

"Can't have that." Belle smirked at the older brunette and Ruby smirked at her before she unsheathed the sword.

"Come on then, I'll teach you how to take advantage of a single opponent first, maybe when the captain's got her head back on her shoulders, we can take you two on together." She said.

"Sounds like you're enjoying that idea more than we are." Regina teased, picking up her sword.

"It's an enticing thought." Ruby said. "Now swords up, the both of you."

"Hah!" Ruby laughed as she pulled out her pistol and pointed it at Regina, stopping the brunette in her tracks.

"No fair." Regina pouted slightly. "You said nothing of pistols - this was a sword fight."

"You expect pirates to be fair?" Ruby asked.

"Well you're the teacher." Belle said. "How do we get out of this one?"

"You." Ruby gestured to Belle, who had been disarmed and had Ruby's sword pointed at her. "Should always have your pistol. You wait till I look at Regina, and then you pull it out and shoot before I look back."

"You'd be looking at me because I still have my sword, Belle would have to take advantage of the fact that she's not a threat - or not one that you know of anyway." Regina worked out.

"Very good lass." Ruby smirked. "That's how you take the advantage of a single foe against two."

Suddenly, two shots were heard and all three women jumped, Regina dropping her sword as all three of them looked towards the house, the direction in which the sound came from, and saw Emma standing, arms out and up high and holding two pistols that still had smoke coming from the barrels.

"And that." Emma smirked at them, "Is how I would have taken the advantage of you two not knowing I was watching, and saved Ruby's ass…ad how many times would that have made it?"

Ruby stared at her for a second and then began laughing, lowering her weapons away from the girls and putting them away.

"Decided to join us again then Swan?" Ruby said. "Only took an hour."

"Had to make the men were doing their job over at the ship." Emma said. "If we're to leave tonight."

"I'm nervous." Belle admitted.

"Don't worry lass." Ruby said. "You two stick by us on this eh?"

"Aye." Emma nodded. "This teaching you two how to fight, it's precaution. Ideally, I'd rather you two stayed out of the fight should one break out."

"But where's the fun in that?" Regina smirked.

"The fun's in the part where you don't lose a limb, lass." Emma smirked back. Regina rolled her eyes

"You two done?" Ruby asked. "Or shall you be takin' this to a private room?"

"Fuck you, Lucas." Emma said, pulling out another sword she'd taken from the house. "Come on, two on two - let's see how you lasses fare against two seasoned sea dogs."

"Sounds intriguing." Regina grinned, picking up her and Belle's sword and throwing the younger girl hers, Belle catching it safely and easily.

"Good catch." Ruby smirked at her.

"Learned from the best." Belle winked.

"You learned from Emma." Ruby said.

"That's what I said." Belle teased.

"I'll be getting you back for that one." Ruby teased back.

"I'll be looking forward to it." Belle smirked, stepping up to her.

"You two done or shall you be taking this to a private room?" Regina called them out, Emma laughing at the princess' wit and how she threw Ruby's comment back at her.

The four of them were sparring and clashing swords in a matter of minutes, Regina pulling Belle out of a trap, Emma saving Ruby's hide when she'd pretended to slip and fall and Regina tried to help Belle by sneaking up behind Ruby, only to get pulled to the ground by Emma who laughed. (the captain may have done it on purpose to see the princess roll around in the dirt. Regina kicked her for it.)

"That was unnecessary." Emma groaned at the bruise forming on her shoulder afterwards.

"So was dragging me around that little bit." Regina rubbed her arm where a stone had irritated her skin. "And now I have sand in my hair."

"Not the worst place for sand to get into." Emma teased.

"You're both silly." Abbie sighed as she gently took Regina's arm and rubbed a cooling salve onto it before she wrapped a bandage around it. "It's not each other you've got to be fightin'"

"It was just fooling around lass." Emma said. "We were in the middle of a spar, showin' Regina and Belle here how to use a sword and pistol."

"There." Abbie said after she fastened Regina's bandage. The princess looked at her and saw how red her eyes were and the slight puff around them. She pulled her into a hug silently. Abbie hugged her back tightly.

"You promise you'll be careful miss Regina?" Abbie said. "I don't wanna be losin' you as well."

"You won't." Regina said. "Belle and I are in safe hands."

Abbie pulled away and looked at the captain with intense eyes. "And you. If you come back dead, you'll have a lot to hear of it from me. So don't you dare."

"Yes ma'am." Emma nodded with a smirk. Abbie rolled her eyes at her. Regina was entertained by the redhead's antics.

"I'm bein' serious you git." Abbie sighed. "This island's had enough death and loss."

"I know, Abbie." Emma stood up from her chair around the dining table. "Don't worry lass, we're all coming home safe and sound. I take care of my men, you know that."

"So did Sally." Abbie gave Emma a sad look. "Look what happened to her."

"Hey, that's enough now." Emma put a gentle hand on her shoulder comfortingly. "You don't need to worry your head about us."

"I know." Abbie sighed. "It's just…easier to worry about the living I suppose."

"I know lass…I know." Emma nodded. Abbie sighed, wrapping her arms around the captain and holding on to her tightly for a moment as she hid her face in Emma's shirt and let out a few quiet sobs. "There there, it'll be alright."

Regina was awed, watching the captain ever so gently comfort the grieving girl. Emma held on to Abbie tightly and let the girl express her grief, not bothering who saw her or how it seemed. It was a side of the captain Regina had yet to see, and she was glad she was offered even the slightest view of it.

Abbie pulled away a moment later, sniffling and looking down with a slight blush. "I'm sorry captain."

"No need to be lass." Emma said gently. "How are the kids?"

"Suzie's been a mess." Abbie said. "Billy…he won't speak at all…he just seems angry all the time."

"He's trying to be a tough man." Emma nodded. "Need me to talk to him?"

"Leave him be for now." Abbie sighed. "But maybe if he's still like that when you're back, I don't want him thinking you shouldn't cry when you grieve. Men are so scared of showing their feelings…It's sad really, to think they deal with all that without showing it."

"He'll be alright." Emma said. "They both will, Jack will make sure of that - and if you ever need anything you're to ask me immediately, understood?"

"Yes captain, thank you so much." Abbie hugged her again. Emma reciprocated.

"You should get back to them." The captain said.

"Aye but…" Abbie moved back to where she'd brought the things she needed to tend to Regina. "I made you these captain."

She picked up a large white handkerchief that was wrapped up around something and tied with a knot to keep it's contents in place, carefully handing it to the captain.

"My scones, since I know how much you like 'em. You keep well fed on board alright? Don't be lettin' Ms. Lucas cook." Abbie said with a teasing smirk.

"Oy, I heard that." Ruby said as she walked in. Abbie smiled up at her and Ruby came up to her, giving her a gentle hug.

"Do be careful, Ms. Lucas." Abbie said.

"I'll bet my ass Belle won't be letting me have it any other way." Ruby said.

"You can count on that." Belle said as Abbie pulled away from the quartermaster and over to Belle, hugging her tightly.

"You as well, Miss Belle." Abbie said. "Don't let Ms. Lucas bully you around, she's a big softie on the inside y'know?"

"Oh I know." Belle chuckled, giving Ruby a wink over Abbie's shoulder. Ruby rolled her eyes.

"Will you not be coming to see us off tonight then?" Ruby asked.

"Oh I will." Abbie said. "I wouldn't be surprised to see the whole village there in fact."

"It's as they like." Emma said. "We're not going for praise."

"You never are, cap'n." Abbie said. "But you deserve it none the less."

"Yeah well." Emma shrugged. "Praise won't fill anyone's belly."

"A drink or two before we go would be nice though." Ruby said.

"Sure, I suppose there's no need to refuse that." Emma said. "But just one or two, I want you sober when we leave Lucas, that's an order."

"Aye, sir." Ruby rolled her eyes.

"I should be gettin' back then." Abbie said. "I'll see you all tonight."

"Thank you Abbie." Regina said. Abbie smiled at her and gave her one last hug.

"You take care of the captain Miss." Abbie said to her quietly. "She's ruthless but…she needs you."

Regina nodded against the red head's shoulder. "I will."

Abbie pulled away and gave her a smile before she gave one last farewell and left the mansion.

"Poor girl." Belle sighed. "And those children…"

"Aye…" Ruby sighed. "They'll be marked forever by this."

"So we help them through it." Emma said. "Have you all prepared your things?"

"I just have a few things left." Regina said.

"Well get to it then." Emma said.

"I'm all done, I can help her." Belle said. Regina smiled at her and nodded. Belle followed her up the stairs and shut the door.

"Did you check the book?" Regina asked.

"I did but it stops at your mother's coronation." Belle sighed. "We need an updated version."

"Dammit." Regina sighed. "I doubt we'll ever get one."

"Regina…" Belle worried her lip between her teeth for a moment. "Do we really want to find out what happened?"

"Of course we do." Regina said.

"It's just…it sounds like it could cause a lot of pain for Emma and Ruby." Belle said. "And I don't want them to be angry with us for snooping around where we shouldn't have been."

"I know." Regina sighed. "I don't want that either but…"

"But what?" Belle asked.

"Belle if there's even the slightest chance that maybe I can ever make some kind of amends for what my mother did to Emma, to everyone on this island, I need to know what happened." The princess said. "Emma thinks that can't happen, but I can't give up on the chance to make things better for her. And I can't do that until I know what happened."

Belle nodded. "Alright. So what do we do?"

"I don't know…" Regina sighed and fell on the bed. "We need to confirm that date."

"I could ask Ruby…but I doubt she'll remember." Belle sighed. "It's strange, the way they present the war in the books, it's like it was eons ago, like ancient history…truthfully…"

"It ended a year before I was born." Regina sighed. "At least if the date on your father's document is anything to go on. It's strange to think I was conceived in the middle of a war."

"I suppose emotions were running high…" Belle shrugged.

"Ugh I don't even want to think of what was going on in my mother's mind." Regina shook her head and rubbed her face in frustration. "Nothing good I imagine."

"She was the one who started that war, apparently." Belle shrugged. "So no, I can't imagine it was."

"Let's just pack and get ready, thinking about my mother so much is giving me a headache." Regina said. Belle chuckled and shook her head. Regina went over to her desk and picked up her journal, looking at it and sighing. "Did you see the look on Ruby's face whens he mentioned Emma's parents dying?"

"Yes." Belle nodded. "She looked so sad."

"Something tells me there's a lot more to their death than meets the eye." Regina theorized. "More than just your usual war casualties."

"How are we ever going to find out about that?" Belle asked. "Nothing documented I'd bet…Emma won't tell you that's for sure."

"I don't know." Regina shut the journal with a sigh. "But I refuse to give up on this. Not now, not after…not after I'm so deep into all of this already."

"You're also deeply in love with her." Belle said. "What happens when those two things collide?"

"A bridge we shall cross should we come upon it." Regina said. "As much as I love Emma, it's daunting to think about being in love with someone who refuses to tell me the truth about their life."

"The past can be something one leaves behind." Belle said. "Does it matter who she was in the past, considering you've fallen in love with her now, in the present?"

"Maybe not." Regina sighed. "But I don't like secrets…not after I found out this was one my mother kept from me all my life."

"It's not like you don't have secrets from Emma." Belle said. When Regina looked at her questioningly, Belle's eyes were on the journal and Regina sighed.

"I know." Regina took the journal and threw it into the small trunk Emma had given her for her things. "I do plan to tell her eventually…I just need time to piece it all together, otherwise she'll refuse to tell me anything else."

"Well maybe she'll open up a bit more on the voyage…after all…I suppose you two will be sharing her quarters again?" Belle asked.

"I…" Regina's eyes went a little wide in realization. "I don't know…"

"I explored just a little bit of the ship last time, but there didn't seem to be any other private quarters…and Emma doesn't exactly seem willing to let you sleep anywhere where the men could get to you." Belle rationalized. "It's not like she'll be sharing with Ruby."

"Hah, can you imagine?" Regina chuckled. Belle giggled a little at the thought.

"They'd kill each other sooner than they'd kiss each other…oh gods." Belle laughed. "No, I don't want that image in my head."

"Me neither." Regina said as she packed the few shirts and trousers that she had, packing away the leather vests as well. "I think that's about it, I don't have much here."

"Except this." Belle picked up the storybook.

"Oh." Regina smiled as she took it in her hands.

"Is it good?" Belle asked.

"It's a lovely story." Regina nodded. "A princess working with unlikely comrades to defeat an evil queen."

"And…you don't find that ironic?" Belle teased. Regina rolled her eyes.

"Well yes, I do." She said. "But it's not why the book is so dear to me…Emma gave it to me…It's…the only thing left of her childhood."

"I see." Belle nodded and gave her a knowing look. Regina looked at her and rolled her eyes and stored the book away in the trunk. Belle moved, picking up the hate Emma had given Regina when she'd fallen into the sea. "This suits you."

"Hmm, oh." Regina stood up straight and took it when Belle handed it to her. She placed it snugly on her head and took the sword that was still strapped to her belt. "Do I look like a pirate?"

"A sea dog if there ever was one." Belle teased. "Put that away before you hurt yourself."

Regina rolled her eyes and sheathed her sword. "I suppose that's all of it then."

"So then all there's left to do is wait until we set off…"Belle sighed. "I'm nervous."

"Why?" Regina asked.

"Because, what if someone recognizes you?" Belle asked. Regina rolled her eyes.

"I was never welcome to know or be involved in any of my mother's affairs, and privateers were never invited to the palace, they work with a noble with unofficial links to the navy. He pays them, they bring provisions, the navy pays him for those provisions, and then pass them off as goods that they were meant to deliver themselves. I suppose it's become easier after the war, transactions can happen in the middle of the ocean where citizens can't happen to come across them or spot them going into naval bases." She sighed. "To think, my mother destroyed several hundred lives and killed countless others for easier and cheaper trade…ugh."

She kicked the trunk shut in frustration. "No, Belle, I'm not nervous, I'm angry. These privateers think they can do what they want just because they're under my mother's protection. If the law won't do anything about it, then I'm glad Emma is going to. They deserve what's coming to them. Even if someone recognized me they wouldn't live to tell the tale. If I have to kill one of them myself, I will."

"Regina…" Belle sighed, but the princess had stormed out of the room too fast to hear her.

Chapter Text

"Heave!" a man cried.

"Oh blimey" another groaned as he pushed against a large crate with all his might.

"I said heave you bleedin' cunt!"

"I am heavin'! It's too fuckin' heavy." The other complained.

"If you can carry that wife o' yers across the threshold this should be like a feather to ye." The first man teased.

"Oy! She's pregnant you snot!" the second man shouted angrily, already pulling up his sleeve to get into a fight.

"Oy!" Ruby barked. "Quit yappin' around and get those fucking cannon balls on that ship before I die of old fucking age."

"Yes sir!" they both responded, their argument forgotten as they went back to heaving the heavy crate filled with heavy iron spheres.

"You gonna tell them they need to carry them in one by one any time soon?" Emma said, not looking up from her inventory list.

"Eh, in a bit." Ruby shrugged with a smirk.

The sun was just starting to set over the island, so they were making their final preparations. When it was completely dark, they would set sail. It was the safest bet, Emma thought, to ensure no one saw them.

"You sure we'll be able to navigate without lanterns?" Ruby asked.

"We're used to setting off from this dock, we'll have no trouble." Emma said. "After that we'll use the compass to navigate our direction, once we do that, we'll only need to be without light for a little while until we're far off enough from the cape that no one will link us to it. There's not a spot of land for miles beyond the cape, just enough time to gather some distance. By then, either the sun will begin to rise or we'll be able to light the lanterns."

"So you're saying will be alright?" Ruby asked. Emma rolled her eyes.

"Yes, Ruby, we'll be fine." She said.

"Where are the girls?" Ruby asked, picking up a crate and handing it to a man who was passing by empty handed.

"Still preparing I suppose." Emma shrugged.

"And you're not curious as to what's taking them so long?" Ruby asked with a smirk. "After all, they don't have much, just what we've given them."

"As long as they're on the ship by the time we set sail, they can take as long as they please." Emma said, looking at her list to try and distract herself from the conversation.

"And I suppose, you wouldn't mind a bit of space from Regina…considering the feelings she's been stirring up inside of you." Ruby teased.

"What are you on about?" Emma sighed.

"Emma, I'm not stupid." Ruby said, crossing her arms. "I see the way you look at her, I see the way you've changed while she's been around. I saw the way you got flustered and ran off earlier."

"I did not-"Emma tried to argue. "I had to come check on the ship."

"Of course you did." Ruby rolled her eyes. "In the middle of a spar with your sword still out and completely off schedule."

"Off schedule is how I make sure the men aren't slacking off." Emma argued.

"And that is excuse is how you get out of explaining why you ran off and broke the lass' heart." Ruby pointed out. Emma rolled her eyes at her friend again.

"Don't exaggerate." She huffed.

"I saw the way she looked at you, Swan." Ruby said. "She was hoping you were gonna say something…admit something."

Emma put her hands on her hips and sighed. "Even if I did feel something for her-"

"Which you do." Ruby insisted.

"Regardless. I'm not daft enough to go and tell her about it." Emma said. "It's dangerous."

"Dangerous?" Ruby laughed. "We're pirates! We've seen no end of dangerous situations! You and I have stood back to back while ten men rounded on us, and we killed every last one of them. You broke out of a royal fucking prison for gods' sake, and stormed a palace in the middle of battle. You kidnapped the daughter of the one person you hate most in this world - the one person who would do just about anything to have your head on a spike. And you think telling a girl how you feel is dangerous?"

"It's different, Ruby." Emma said. "The escaping, the fighting…all of it is different than what this is. If I get caught on the losing side of this one I can't stab and kill my way through it, you're not gonna be able to swoop in and save me on this. Besides, it's a little fucking rich hearing all this from you…I don't suppose you've gone and told Belle have you?"

"Well no." Ruby crossed her arms. "But it's only cause I know you'd fucking shoot me."

Emma sighed. "I wouldn't. And I wouldn't be angry with you. I'd understand it's just…they're gonna wanna go home soon enough, the queen could send for them at any moment…They're having their bit of fun here now but…that's all it is I suppose. It won't last. And nothing hurts more than convincing yourself you have a long future to enjoy with someone only to have them slip through your fingers too soon."

Ruby sighed, kicking a bit of rope that got loose from it's coil. "I know you miss your parents, Swan."

"Doubt they would have lived to see me at this age." Emma shrugged. "But it would have been nice…especially when I think of what could have been you know?"

"For all you know…your mother could have arranged a marriage between you and Regina." Ruby chuckled a little. "I'd still be tending at Granny's tavern."

"Maybe you would have met Belle and she'd have run off with you when she realized what a git that Gaston is." Emma teased, nudging the other woman's shoulder.

"Ah fuck off." Ruby said with a small laugh. A comfortable silence fell between the two, with nothing but the sound of the men working on the ship behind them and the gentle waves lapping at the bilge of the ship. Emma sighed, her eyes wandering over to the mansion which could be seen from the dock. Ruby looked at her again. "You really have gone and done it haven't you?…fallen in love with her, I mean."

Emma didn't answer immediately, and it was only when Ruby thought she never actually would, that she spoke.

"Yes…I have."

"Regina." Belle called. Regina was out in the training ring again, hacking away at a training dummy Emma had fashioned out of straw to teach them the differences between hacks, slashes, lunges, and stabs. Regina didn't stop attacking the defenseless dummy, and Belle decided to approach her. "Are you alright?"

"No." Regina sighed.

"Are you going to tell me why that is?" Belle asked again. Regina spared the dummy another slash and lowered her sword.

"Because…" Regina gritted her teeth and huffed out a breath. "Because I'm never going to be able to fix this am I?"

"What are you talking about?" Belle asked.

"This." Regina gestured around them. "This island, the isles, the life of their people…Emma's life…My mother has ruined so much for so many people. Taken so much from them. So much that no matter how hard I tried, I'd never be able to replace. Sure, I could reinstate Emma's position, hell I could make her duchess of the isles, she'd be free to command them. I could reinstate the isles to their former glory, building and trade wise anyway…But I'll never bring back the people who lost their lives in the war, or the aftermath of it…I'll never bring Sally back for Abbie and Jack…I'll never bring back Emma's parents…They're gone, forever. And it's all my mother's fault."

"I know." Belle sighed, looking the princess up and down curiously. "And I understand how it might be the reason you're so upset…I just can't figure out why…or why right now anyway."

"Because." Regina gave a humorless chuckle. "I'm in love with her Belle! It's a silly thought really, because I've only known her a few days. But I am. I've never felt this strongly about anything. And despite my mother's failure at it I'm no stranger to love. I had my father, I have you. I know what love feels like. It's warm and comforting and safe and at the same time it's exciting and fun. To love is to taste joy as if it were the sweetest wine but…But this…I've never felt this much love for one person. It feels like my heart is going to burst. It feels like no matter what happens to me or where I go in my life, I'll never be unhappy as long as I'm around Emma. It feels like the biggest tragedy possible could happen in my life and I'd be alright as long as I had Emma by my side. And it's completely doomed."

Belle was shocked at the tears that were now flowing down Regina's cheeks in little streams as she spoke. "Why on earth would you say that?"

"Because." Regina sniffled. "How can she love me when my own mother has caused her so much pain?"

"Regina." Belle sighed, pulling the older girl into a tight hug. "You can't think like that."

"Why on earth not?" Regina asked, her voice muffled by Belle's shoulder, but the younger girl heard her all the same.

"Because she knows it's not your fault. Didn't she say something like that to you?" she asked. "And…I saw how she looked at you. It's the same way my father used to look at my mother…Regina I think…I think she loves you as well."

"What?" Regina looked up at her but Belle's embrace never loosened. The brunette shrugged.

"It's as good a theory as any…but I know she doesn't hate you." She said, giving her best friend a small smile. "If she did she'd just keep you locked away and pray for the day your mother sends for you."

"Well you're right there I suppose." Regina sighed stepping gently out of Belle's arms.

"Do you…" Belle worried her lip between her teeth and Regina raised a brow at her.

"Do I what, Belle?" she asked.

"Do you think we should tell them?" the younger girl suggested. Regina's other brow joined it's sibling and they made the steady climb to the princess' hairline.

"I don't know, do you think we're crazy?" she asked sarcastically. Belle rolled her eyes at her.

"We crossed that bridge when we fell in love with them to begin with." She said. "I don't know, Regina…my instincts are telling me it's a good idea."

"Your instincts told you it would be a good idea to sass a pirate captain and draw attention to yourself!" Regina blurted out. Belle was taken aback for a moment.

"You…you don't blame me for all this…do you?" she asked. Regina visibly deflated and sighed, shaking her head and placing gentle hands on Belle's shoulders.

"No, no I'm sorry." The older girl apologized. "I didn't mean that I'm just…not handling this properly…And your question caught me off guard."

"I just…" Belle sighed. "I don't know how to deal with these feelings Regina…you said you never felt anything like this before, I haven't either. My mind is screaming at me to do something about it but I don't know what…and the not knowing…it's killing me, slowly, but surely."

"Yes, I feel the same." Regina put her hands on her hips and exhaled as she thought it through.

"And now we're going to be on the ship with them…in such close quarters all the time…I'm not sure I have the strength to play it off as if nothing's amiss." Belle said. "I don't want to do something impulsive and make it worse."

"Though frankly I think Ruby answers to impulse more than anything." Regina shrugged.

"Emma can be impulsive too." Belle said.

"Yes, usually with a weapon in her hands…let's hope it doesn't come to that." The princess said.

"So what do we do?" Belle asked. "Do we just sit and wait until we lose our patience and do something we may very well regret?"

"No." Regina shook her head. "But…Belle we're about to go off on a journey specifically to ransack a pseudo-royal plantation…it's dangerous."

"I know." Belle nodded.

"I think we need to hold off at least until after." Regina suggested. "You know how Ruby and Emma are…if their feelings get in the way of their judgment, it could be deadly."

"Feelings clouding your judgment are what got you here." Belle teased. "You wanted to give yourself up for me."

Regina rolled her eyes. "Well it would be very boring without you anyway."

"I love you too." Belle winked at her. "Now…Ruby and Emma?"

"We tell them when we get home." Regina said. "I mean…here-"

"Let's face it, Regina." Belle smirked at her again. "You're more at home here than you ever were at the palace."

"Yes…yes I think you're right." Regina smiled at her. "When we get home, we'll tell them."

"We both haveto tell them though, neither of us can chicken out of it. Deal?" Belle held out her hand and Regina shook it firmly.


It was another half an hour before Regina and Belle showed up at the dock, carrying the trunk between them.

"There you two are." Ruby said, pulling Emma's attention away from her papers in time for her to look up and see the girls dropping the trunk on the dock with a grunt and a heave.

"Sorry…This thing is heavier than it looks." Regina sighed in relief and wiped the sweat from her brow.

"Where's your things?" Ruby asked Belle.

"In Regina's trunk - we don't have enough between us to warrant two and…isn't there a limit to how much weight one ship can carry?" the younger girl asked.

"We have 100 cannons and five thousand balls to go in them." Emma said. "We would have managed one more trunk."

"We barely managed to carry one over here between us, captain, we're not exactly used to this." Regina smirked at her. Emma rolled her eyes and looked back.

"Oy, Smith, Fraser." She snapped her fingers and got the attention of two crew men. They stepped up to her and stood very straight.

"Yes cap'n." They said in unison.

"Take that trunk on board, my quarters." Emma pointed to the chest in question.

"Yes cap'n!" they said in unison again and moved as one to do as they were bid.

"We could have managed." Regina said to the captain.

"You said you barely did so from the mansion to here." Emma said. "Next time, just come get someone to help you."

"If we're to be crew members we should learn how to work like a crew should we not?" Regina teased. Emma rolled her eyes.

"Take the time you need to sort what's yours and what's Belle's." Emma went back to her documents. "Wouldn't want you two mixing up each other's bloomers."

"Oh, ha ha." Regina rolled her eyes at the captain. "By that argument you and I could mix up ours."

"You assume I wear any." Emma teased before she walked away.

"Well I…wait…what?!" Regina looked at the captain, who was walking up onto the ship, supposedly to do another count. Ruby followed her master, laughing at the princess' plight.

"Are you alright?" Belle asked, trying not to laugh.

"Never speak of this." Regina said, her face as red as the dusk sky above.

Regina stepped into the captain's quarters in time to see Emma and another man setting down Emma's own trunk.

"Thank you." The captain patted the man's shoulder and dismissed him. He tipped his hat as he passed Regina and left the room.

"Well…" the princess took in the quarters again. "It feels like it's been ages since I was last here…in truth, it's only been a few days."

"Such is the pirate life." Emma shrugged.

"Everyone was so happy when we arrived." Regina said. "Do you remember that morning?"

Emma looked up at her but said nothing. Yes, she remembered it, waking up with Regina in her arms, a warmth between them that seeped deeper than her skin and reached every crack that remained in her heart. It was strange, Emma thought, that even then she felt something for the brunette. Of course she knew that much…otherwise she wouldn't have yelled at her that very same day.

"Yes." She nodded. "I remember it well."

Regina almost lost her breath at how Emma was looking at her, but then the captain looked away and cleared her throat.

"Feel free to put your clothes up in the wardrobe." The blonde offered. "Not much space but it's only a few days. Think you'll be able to bare being in such close quarters with me for that long?"

Regina looked up at her with a smile, and they stared at each other for far too long to be considered normal.

"I assure you, captain, there's no one else I'd rather be sharing a bed with." The princess said, perhaps admitting too much too soon. But it was too late not to take it back. Emma looked down, and Regina wondered if she saw the hints of a blush creeping up her neck.

"Well…good…I suppose…Ruby snores like a leopoard in heat…so…" Emma shrugged.

"I do not." Ruby's head popped into the room all of a sudden, making Regina jump a little.

"Were you eavesdropping?" Emma asked.

"No, you're just a loud talker. Jack and the fresh meat are here." Ruby said. "Figured you'd wanna welcome them on."

"I…yes." Emma sighed, putting her papers on the table. "I'll be out in a moment."

"Before we die of old age, cap'n." Ruby commented before she left. Emma rolled her eyes. Regina chuckled.

"If this were the navy you would have shot her already." The princess said.

"Sometimes, I wonder why I haven't." Emma said, only a little serious.

"You'd miss her too much I'd wager." Regina smiled at her. "I'd be destroyed should Belle be lost to us, I imagine you'd be the same."

"Well I suppose…Loss isn't exactly a stranger to me." Emma sighed. Regina frowned for a moment.

"Yes I…Ruby mentioned, in passing, that your parents' death was difficult on you." The princess said gently, hoping she wouldn't anger the captain. Emma looked up at her, her features hardened but not in animosity.

"Yes." She said, her throat bobbing as she swallowed what Regina figured was the slightest hint of emotion in her throat. "I was crushed, in all honesty…thought the world was about to end right then and there…"

"I'm…so sorry." Regina said, her breathing halted for a moment at the way Emma opened up just that little bit to her.

"It's not your fault, lass." Emma sighed.

"No…it's my mother's." Regina said, getting the captain to look up at her with a raised brow. Regina faltered at that moment under her gaze, looking down in something akin to shame and guilt. She didn't know how to recover the conversation after that, or even if she should. When it came to her mother's past misdeeds, she didn't know if she should feel angry in the victim's place, or guilty in her mother's.

A slight, gentle weight on her shoulder pulled her attention from her thoughts and she looked up, Emma standing directly beside her.

"Lass. What your mother did was fucking awful. She killed a lot more than just my parents - from what I hear some orphanages ended up overrun. There was a small plague on one of the isolated islands afterwards from lack of food. If you didn't get sick and die, you starved to death anyway. Hundreds of families were made homeless and left to beg for scraps on the streets. That war was the most god-awful fucking thing anyone could have ever imagined. You know how clear the skies are here…imagine it being painted in red and black clouds from fire and smoke. I thought the world was going to end because my parents died, most people thought it was going to end because it looked like the ground might rip up under their feet and swallow everything whole. What your mother did was the most monstrous act of war I've ever seen or heard or read of in my whole life." Emma said, Regina looking up at her with wide eyes burning with tears. Emma leaned in a little further, her other free hand going up to Regina's other shoulder, the warmth emanating from the captain. "But whatever she's done, however many lives she's ruined or taken before their time…you're not responsible for any of it Regina. You weren't even born yet when it happened. They're not your sins to pay for, and it's not your guilt to carry."

Regina had no idea what was going on in her mind and in her heart at that moment, but whatever it is, the next thing she knew is that her arms were wrapped around the captain's neck and she was hugging Emma tightly. Emma's arms froze for a moment, but then Regina felt her return the embrace just as tightly.

"It'll be alright love." Emma sighed. "It'll all be alright in the end."

"Captain they're wait- ah fuck." Ruby popped in again to see them hugging. "Don't tell me you went and got married!"

Regina's face was bright red as she gently extracted herself from Emma's embrace. Emma looked annoyed at Ruby.

"Fuck you Lucas." Emma swiftly placed her hat on her head and followed the first mate out of her quarters. Regina followed to see Belle looking at the three of them in confusion.

"Who got married?" she asked the princess.

"No one." Regina was still blushing. Belle raised a brow at her.

"You didn't kiss her again did you?" she asked teasingly.

"I…hugged her." Regina's face was bright red.

"Ah…" Belle smirked at her. "How did that feel?"

"Belle the captain has guests on board, let's not be rude hosts hmm?" Regina said, raising her chin and standing straight and walking with all the grace and poise of a queen towards the captain who was standing with one boot raised up on a barrel. The newcomers were still filing onto the ship, some of the crew members greeting them, recognizing friends among the crowd. Regina was surprised at the sheer number of all of them, she'd seen large crowds before, and she was sure that there were at least a hundred men in total on board - she wasn't even aware the village had so many people living on it.

Every single man on the ship took a moment to remove their hat, or the handkerchief that they wore around their head, and shake Jack's hand, passing along their condolences. News of Sally's death took mere minutes to spread around the village, as did the captain's plan to get revenge on the privateers once and for all. Many men signed on, save for the widowers with children or the elderly. At the tavern the previous night, Regina heard a man who said he was worried what his wife would say, but when he mentioned the idea to her she'd told him to go herself, apparently, she'd been a close friend of Sally's.

After Jack, the men all shook hands with Ruby and the captain. Regina smiled, seeing Emma socializing with her people. She thought it was weird, however, how a few of them leaned down in a bow to her. She rolled her eyes whenever they did. Perhaps having been a noble, Regina thought, people treated her like royalty.

It took a while for Emma to greet all the men, but they still had time until the total darkness of night, the sun was still in the sky, although not for much longer.

"Alright men." Emma said after clearing her throat. "We know why we're all here, and you've done a noble thing for even stepping foot on my ship today. We've got good men being held prisoner. And I'll be damned if I let even one of my fellow sea-men live their life in slavery while I sit and drink rum and sing and toast about absent friends."

"Here here!" the men cried, some raising their fists in the air.

"But it's not just a rescue." Emma called out. "It's a message…these privateers. They gallivant about, wearing expensive clothing and diamonds the size of your eyeballs. Shoes that shine in the sun like the reflection off the fucking ocean, while good, hard working family men starve to death on their own fucking watch and they profit off their suffering and death! They betrayed our home when we needed every single man on the front. And they've lived like kings ever since under Cora!"

In one, swift, unanimous motion that would have baffled the most synchronized flock of birds, all the men sniffed loudly and spat, rather wetly, onto the deck. Regina steeled herself not to react - gods knew her mother deserved it.

"They act like they're better than any other pirate, in truth they're worse! They sold their soul to the devil herself, they steal from the hungry and downtrodden to line their pockets. And if that wasn't bad enough, if that wasn't damnable enough. They took one of our own. Sally Riley Moore. A strong, healthy, kind, and loving woman. Taken before her time from her family, from her two young children, for a few sacks of flour and sugar and a few coins of gold." Emma's voice was harsh, roaring as she spoke, riling the men up along with her. "Now I'm no saint, and I've always believed that the only ones who can judge us for our sins are the gods, and any man who's wronged you in the past, he'll be judged on his death by the gods…Now I'm not judging anyone men…but I say, let's save the gods some few years of waiting!"

"Aye! Aye! Aye!" the men cried, some raising their swords, some their fists, some their hats. A small army's battlecry to echo the cries of two children who lost their mother, a mother and father their daughter, a woman her sister, a husband his wife.

"For the Cape! For the Isles…For Sally!" Emma raised her sword in the air.

"For Sally!" the men cried back, Jack's voice roaring high above any other on board. Regina and Belle raised their swords as well, honoring a woman they never had the pleasure to meet - but would risk everything to avenge.

The cheers and roars calmed down, swords were put away, hats placed back on heads.

"We sail once the light's gone from the sky - hidden in the dark of night. It'll be a day for us to arrive, when we do - be ready." Emma said.

"Aye cap'n." The men said together.

"Until then, prepare what you need with you - we've readied plenty of space for all of you below deck. Make yourselves at home. Drink with your mates, kiss your wives and kids goodbye. We've got a few hours still, no need for rushing. Just make sure you show up sober on my ship and ready for your duties." Emma said. "Dismissed."

Emma took brought her leg down off the barrel and and approached Ruby and the girls, the rest of the men dispersing around to finish their duties, undoubtedly hoping to get a few rounds of rum before they set sail.

"That was a beautiful speech captain." Regina said with a smile.

"Thank you lass, it's not easy keeping the men eager for work. But this time…this time we all have a strong purpose." Emma said, Ruby giving her a nod.

"Are we all done then?" the quartermaster asked. "I wanna get a few rounds and say a proper goodbye to Granny before we set off."

"And why will you be saying goodbye then?" an older voice asked from beside them. They all looked to the side to see widow Lucas in a dress clearly made for sea-faring and a hat similar to Ruby's. A sack sat at her feet, clearly filled with what's necessary, but what caught Regina's attention the most was the crossbow she had slung over her shoulder.

"G-Granny…" Ruby said, approaching the older Lucas. "What in all the hells are you doing here?"

"Well I came to sign on of course." Granny said.

"Are you mad?" Ruby asked. "It's dangerous!"

"Oh dangerous." The older woman waved her off. "If you wanna see dangerous you should try changing your diapers."

"Granny." Ruby said through gritted teeth, her face turning a shade of red as Belle and Regina giggled, Emma trying to save face for her friend's sake. "No. You're not coming. I don't wanna be out of my mind with worry about you the whole way there and back."

"You mean like I've been about you every damn time you've set sail with this golden haired git on this godforsaken ship?" Granny said, pointing to Emma and then to the deck.

"Hey now, she's a good ship." Emma said.

"You hush." Granny waved off. Emma rolled her eyes, clearly not bothered by the older woman's name calling or chastising.

"Granny, you know I love you and I'd never offend you on my life." Ruby said. "But…your hay-day wasn't exactly yesterday."

"I'm the best god damned marksman on this fucking island." Granny argued. "Best barkeep too. And I won't have you feeding more than half the village men your shitty excuse for my stew and ruin my good name."

"Granny." Ruby whined.

"I'm serious." Granny said.

"So am I. This ship isn't setting sail while you're on board." Ruby crossed her arms.

"Is that so then, captain?" Emma asked sarcastically. Ruby shot her a glare and she raised her hands in innocence, stepping away from the argument.

"Now you listen to me young lady." Granny waved a finger at Ruby, getting her grand-daughter's attention once again. "I know you mean well, and you're being responsible for the people you love just like I taught you. But so am I. I helped ol' Betty Riley raise Abbie and Sally while Billy was in the army. When I heard she died well…Well damn it all Ruby I cried as much as I would if I were to lose you."

"I…I know Granny…I didn't mean…" Ruby looked down and sighed. "I just don't wanna lose you too!"

"It'll be a cold day in all the hells when I get taken down by a traitor. Now I won't go rushing into no sword battles. But I'll keep watch, and my crossbow's as silent as a grave. I can take down any guards before they know what's hit 'em and you'll be in the clear to sneak in." Granny said, clearly having this all planned out.

"Ruby…she's right." Emma said.

"Swan!" Ruby rounded on her friend. Emma shrugged.

"I'm thinking as a captain." The blonde said. "We said, when we made the call, we won't refuse anyone's wish to join in. Everyone loved Sally. Your Granny was one of the people who loved her the most…I won't refuse her if she wishes to play her part."

"Thank you, captain Swan." Granny nodded.

"Just don't insult my ship again you old bird." Emma smirked at her and Granny rolled her eyes back at the blonde.

"Aye aye, captain." Granny nodded. Ruby sighed like she'd lost a battle and turned around, pointing a finger at her grandmother.

"If you die on this journey I'll never fucking forgive you." She said to her sternly.

"Die?" Granny asked. "And leave my tavern and the girls there at your mercy? Gods help us all when that happens. I won't be dying any day soon. At least not until I've found you a husband or a wife or whatever tickles your fancy. Someone's gotta take care of you while I'm gone and if I leave it up to Captain Swan here she'll shoot you before I'm cold in the ground - can't say I'd blame her."

"Granny." Ruby groaned again, her face turning as red as her namesake. The other three women laughed.

"Oh I'm just teasing." Granny said, hefting her sack up over her shoulder. "Now, where am I gonna rest my head?"

"Come on. We got one extra room we've never used." Ruby sighed and stepped ahead of her to lead her below deck. "Don't want the men unable to sleep with your snoring."

Ruby's hat got slapped off and fell at Emma's feet as the captain roared in laughter at Ruby's howl of pain.

Chapter Text

The tavern was not usually so full at this hour, when the sun was just above the horizon. The men of the isle would be leaving their crops for the evening, closing their shops - or at the least preparing to do so - and their wives and mothers would all be preparing supper, calling their children to return inside from their playing so that they aren't caught outside after dark.

But most men on the isle were not tending their crops that evening, indeed, most hadn't even touched them all day. Some men were still kissing their mothers, their wives, and their children goodbye before returning to the ship. Some wives came with their husbands to the tavern, to see them off along with the rest of the crew.

The guest of honour, however, was still on the ship, below deck, counting supplies and making notes. Regina stood behind her, tapping her foot impatiently.

"The tavern is full of people hoping to give you their well-wishes before you leave, captain." She said casually.

"Hmm? Yes yes." Emma said without looking at her. "Soon."

"You said that half an hour ago." Regina said.

"I just wanna make sure we're well stocked." Emma said matter-of-factly.

"We are, Emma!" Regina said, a smirk of slight amusement on her face. She stepped up to the captain and took the hand with the quill in it to grab her full attention. "We're stocked enough, it's a two day journey to get there and back, and I doubt we'll be sticking around for too long after we've done what needs to be done."

"Well…yes…" Emma said, nodding her head around as she considered what Regina was saying.

"Then I don't think we're going to need much, and short of us ending up in a shipwreck, I'm sure we'll survive until we get home even if we do run out of supplies. We have fifteen casks of rum for gods' sake!" the princess chuckled a little as she spoke.

"A crew can nary survive on rum alone." Emma said. Regina rolled her eyes.

"Ruby had me fooled." She joked, getting Emma to chuckle a little. Regina's eyes turned gentle as she regarded the captain who was looking at her documents in thought. "You're nervous."

"These privateers have terrorized us more than a few times." Emma said. "We've been victorious each time…but luck does run out eventually."

"Well, it's not running out quite yet." Regina smiled. "I'm confident of that."

"Well I appreciate your confidence love." Emma smirked at her. "I suppose I've just gotten used to being prepared for everything and not leaving anything to chance."

"Sometimes taking a risk is what makes life exciting captain." Regina said with a smirk.

"I've taken risks in my life, love. But sometimes they can end in tragedy." Emma sighed. Regina's comforting touch on Emma's hand took a slightly tighter hold - just enough that Emma looked at her again, their eyes connected as Regina silently begged her not to worry so much.

"I may be young and still naive captain, but I do believe tragedy is a part of life…how can one appreciate joy if they do not know tragedy?" she said. Emma's features turned into a mix of wonder and appreciation.

"You're not as naive as you seem to think, love." She said. "It's true…I don't think I would be able to appreciate the good things in life without my past tragedies…I don't think I would have appreciated other people's tragedies either if I hadn't had my own."

Regina's eyes strayed away for a moment, going down to the document in Emma's hand as she took it gently. "You're so calculated captain…it makes me think you're trying to escape fate."

"Fate can be cruel - sometimes escaping it is the only way you make it out alive." Emma said. "I believe I've managed to escape a few times to date."

"That, or…" Regina smiled up at her again. "I believe it is possible for one to make their own fate."

"You think so?" Emma asked.

"I don't believe I was originally fated to end up here." Regina admitted. "But here I stand, conversing with a pirate captain as if we were old friends and on my way to a battle…I made that decision when I stood up for Belle, and as terrifying as it was at the time…I don't believe it was the wrong decision to make."

"And I took a hell of a risk when I dragged you and Belle on board my ship." Emma smirked at her, snatching the paper away and giving the princess a wink. "I'm still trying to decide if it was worth it."

The captain began walking off the ship and heard the princess scoff as she turned on her heel and followed her.

"Is it not worth the gold you'll receive then?" she asked, a smirk on her face and a brow raised on her forehead.

"Perhaps it's worth more than gold, princess." Emma said as she stepped up the stairs to the main deck. Regina stopped in her tracks for a moment, her smirk morphing into a full on smile.

"Well I suppose that remains to be seen, captain." She said, continuing to follow the captain. Emma turned to look at her on the ship, and Regina stopped to look at her as the red sky darkened overhead.

"Aye…It does." Emma smiled at her, nodding towards the direction of the dock. "Come on, let's get a couple of drinks before we set sail eh?"

"Finally." Regina groaned. Emma chuckled as she walked away and Regina, despite herself, let out a girlish giggle as she sped up her pace to catch up with her.

"I am not trying rum again." Belle giggled as Ruby tried to entice her.

"Aww come on lass, you wanna act like a pirate don't you?" the older girl teased.

"Oh no, Ms. Lucas, you're not going to corrupt me in that way." Belle waved a finger in her face. "You have to behave on board anyway, what with your Granny there now."

"Eh, yeah, I suppose." Ruby shrugged. "Never stopped me before though."

"Is that so?" Belle said, her tone teasing. "And just what sort of mischief have you gotten up to in the presence of your grandmother?"

"Oh…well…" Ruby blushed a little. Suddenly the barmaid that had flirted with Regina a couple of times showed, up, placing a flagon of ale in front of Ruby.

"For you Ms. Lucas." She gave her a sultry grin. "You be careful on the seas now, wouldn't want you fallin' off and gettin' all wet."

Belle raised a brow at her as Ruby cleared her throat. "Uh, thank you lass."

"Come back to us in one piece eh? I bet a lot of girls will be happy to see you home safe." The woman winked at her.

"Yes, I suppose they would." Belle said, giving the girl a smirk. "Don't you worry though, I'll make sure she's well taken care of."

"Oh…" the woman looked at Belle, looking her up and down before giving her a small, almost apologetic smile. "Aye, I suppose you will miss…safe journeys to ye both."

The barmaid walked away, and Ruby looked from her to Belle with a questioning look.

"Something on your mind then lass?" the older woman asked. Belle shrugged, picking up her own flagon and shrugging

"Just enjoying the festivities, Ms. Lucas." She said, taking a swig of her ale and looking away distractedly. Ruby rolled her eyes, unable to fight off the smirk on her face. Belle's jealousy was adorable and, Ruby admitted to herself no matter how much she'd deny it out loud, it was flattering.

The door to the tavern suddenly opened, and everyone stopped as they watched Emma and Regina walk in. Emma looked around at all the people who looked at her. It wasn't the usual cheering. Instead, everyone took off their hats and bonnets out of respect.

"Captain." Jack stepped up, handing her a flagon.

"Don't stop on my account." Emma said.

"We're honouring you tonight sir." Abbie said, slipping out from the crowd closer to her. "For what you're doing for us - what you've always done."

"Enough." Emma said, loud enough for everyone to hear her in the dead-silent tavern. "I don't do any of this for praise, and I don't want any of it either. If you wanna thank someone, thank yourselves. Every single one of you who've worked hard to keep each other afloat."

"We wouldna been able to do so without you, cap'n." Jack said. "You kept these people fed."

"I did what any decent person who had the opportunity I did would do." Emma said.

"You lost just as much as anyone else did in the war." Abbie said. "I think you lost more considering-"

"Enough." Emma said sternly, not in anger really, but firmly enough to stop the girl from speaking. "I swore when I took that ship and my crew under my command, when I took that house in my charge that I would work as hard as necessary to keep this village running. Besides, now's not the time for thanks and celebrations for anyone - thank me when I come back without a single man dead or injured and those traitors wiped out."

"Well then let's go and fuckin do it!" Jack said, raising his flagon, eliciting a loud YEAH from everyone in the tavern as they all raised their mugs and flagons. Emma did the same towards them before she drank, stepping over to Ruby with Regina in tow.

"Well, that was theatrical." Ruby said, drinking from her mug.

"These people appreciate you, captain." Belle said. "And I can see why."

"Indeed." Regina nodded, smiling up to Emma from beside her.

"Just take a seat and have a drink love, I can bask in their appreciation when we get home healthy, alive, and a little safer for getting rid of those privateers." Emma said.

"Yes sir." Regina said teasingly, accepting the mug Emma handed her which she'd just plucked off a tray.

They'd been sitting around and drinking for a good hour, Emma occasionally looking out the window to see if it had gotten fully dark yet. The sky was a darkening blue, and they were enjoying their last drink before they went on board again to prepare for their departure when suddenly the door opened and everyone went dead silent. Emma looked over to the door, standing up in time to see Jack turning and heading towards the person who'd just entered.

It was little Billy Moore…Jack and Sally's son.

"Billy." Jack said quietly. "What are you doin' here boy?"

Emma stepped closer, just enough that she could see the eight year old boy wearing a black bandana around his head and had a small sword strapped to his waist.

"I'm here to join the crew paw." Billy said. "I wanna come with ye."

"Billy…" Jack sighed.

"I wanna help ye get back at the men that killed mama." He said, looking up at his father with pleading eyes.

"Billy it's too dangerous." Jack said, his voice growing stern with the boy.

"I can fight! I can paw! Look, grampaw gave me me own sword!" he held up the needle like sword to show his father. "Showed me how to use it too, I can do this paw…I can avenge maw like you wanna do!"

"Son…" Jack sighed, but his son's face screwed up in determination.

"I wanna be a man like you paw!" he cried.

"You are a man." Emma said loud enough for the boy to hear her. She pushed through the crowd to step up to him and he looked up at her in awe like he was looking at a goddess.

"Cap'n Swan." He said, taking his bandanna off his head, ruffling his dirty blonde hair in the process. "It's really you."

"Aye lad." Emma gave him a small smile, going down on one knee in front of him, next to Jack who'd scooted away to give her enough space. She placed a gentle hand on the boy's shoulder and he turned to her fully.

"Cap'n…may I join your crew? Please! I wanna help…I wanna get back at the men who killed my maw." He said, tears brimming his eyes.

"Aye, I know lad." Emma said, her voice gentler than anything Regina had ever heard. "But…your pa's right. You can't come with us."

"But…but I wanna be a pirate like you sir!" he cried. "I wanna be a hero like you!"

"You are lad." Emma nodded. "And I'm honored to welcome into my crew."

"Really?!" he said, his tearful eyes paired with a smile.

"Aye lad." Emma nodded. "But sometimes, some of my men have to stay on land while we go off to sea…that's what I need you to do this time."

"But…But cap'n!" he cried, tears spilling from his eyes.

"Now hear me out lad…I need you to stay here with your family, with your sister and the village…I need you to help your grandfather and the other elders take care of this cape while I'm off at sea. I need you to be the man you wanna be, but I need you to do it here on your home land." Emma explained. "A man's gotta learn to take care of his home first and foremost - before he learns how to sail and fight and be a pirate. I need you to do that here for now…and one day son, I promise you you'll be on my ship with me and my crew."

"I…" Billy looked down, thinking carefully on what Emma told him and then he looked up at her, a sob escaping his throat. "I miss my ma cap'n."

"I know son, I know." Emma nodded. "I miss my ma and pa every day of my life. But that's what keeps me doing what I do you see…You will as well. You'll be a hero…for your ma."

The boy broke down, shrugging Emma's hand off his shoulder before he pushed forward and buried his face in her chest and coat.

"Billy." Jack sighed, about to take his son away, but Emma wrapped one arm around the boy and another stopped Jack's hands.

"It's alright." Emma said. "Let him cry…let him feel and grieve and then he'll grow stronger."

A lump formed in Regina's throat at the sight of the captain embracing the boy as if he were her own son. She saw the blonde blinking repeatedly and at one point clench her eyes shut and wipe at her cheek discreetly. The princess' heart broke for the captain and whatever she'd been through - because clearly it was something similar to what the young boy in Emma's arms was going through now.

It was time. The men were preparing to set sail, and the whole village showed up to give their goodbyes to the crew and the captain.

"Now you be careful" Abbie said to Regina and Belle, a hand on each of theirs and holding on tightly.

"We will Abbie." Regina smiled at her. "Please don't worry too much about us."

"Oh." Abbie sighed, her emotions getting the better of her as she pulled them into a tight group hug. "Ye two girls are incredible…and you're so brave!"

"You're incredible too Abbie." Regina hugged her back tightly. "And you've done so much for us."

"You have." Belle sighed, hugging the redhead tightly.

"What's a friend for?" Abbie said, pulling back to grin at them both.

"Well you've been a very good one, dear." Regina said.

"You have too, joinin' the cap'n on this trip's dangerous and yer doin' it for me sister and me family." Abbie said.

"You'd do the same." Belle said.

"I'm not as brave, miss Belle." Abbie said.

"You live with the captain every day, you're brave enough." Regina joked. Abbie and Belle giggled, the noise traveling to where Ruby and Emma stood.

"What do you suppose they're laughing about then?" Ruby asked. Emma shrugged.

"Whatever it is, it's their business." She said.

"All set Cap'n." Jack nodded.

"Let everyone say their goodbyes." Emma said. "We'll set off soon."

"Jacob Eustace Moore!" a loud booming voice shouted. Jack stood up straight.

"Shit." He hissed. "It's old Bill Riley…he's not talked to me since…"

The crowd parted, an aged, bald man with a thick grey beard stepped up towards the captain and, more importantly, Jack.

"Bill." Jack said, taking his hat off. "I…I wanted to come to you I just-"

"Enough." The older man said sternly, Jack's head bowed in shame in front of him. "I knew…I knew when I saw you that you'd be nothin' but trouble for me daughter. You're a bastard, Jacob Moore, and I wish Sally'd never fuckin met you."

"Bill." Jack sighed, fighting off the tears and pain his father-in-law's words were causing him.

"She wanted to marry you Moore…she begged me to let her. I was about to say no. If it weren't for me wife convincin' me you'd be at least a half decent husband I woulda never allowed it. I still wish I hadn't sometimes." His voice was raised, and Emma was calculating if she should intervene.

"I never meant for it to happen." Jack said quietly.

"Aye, you didn't. But it happened. And she's gone." Bill said. "She's gone cause she jumped in front of a bullet for you."

"I'm sorry." Jack said.

"As I said…you're a bastard Jack Moore…but damn it all to hell, I'd never seen my Sally happier than the day I agreed that you could marry her. I'd never seen her look so happy than she did on her wedding day…and fuck you, Jack Moore, but you were a good man and a good husband to 'er…so if she died saving yer sorry hide…well then I can only imagine she died with a smile on her face and love in her heart…and that's the only thing a poor sod like me can hope for 'is daughter."

Jack looked up at him in awe, his mouth hanging open but no words able to come out. Suddenly, Bill's old, weathered, rough hands landed heavily on Jack's shoulders and he pulled him into a tight hug.

"I miss her like I'd miss the fuckin sun but you made her happy." The old man sobbed as he embraced his son-in-law. Jack sighed in slight relief, hugging the man back tightly.

"I'm sorry Bill." He cried. "I'm sorry I didn't bring 'er back."

"Aye…but you will." Bill pulled away, pointing a finger at the younger man's face. "You'll bring 'er back…and we'll set her soul to rest. And then we'll live as a family as we have been for the last nine years. You go and kill the bastards who did this and lay my daughter to rest, sir, and then we'll heal together, as we always did, as a family."

"Aye sir." Jack said, tears spilling from his eyes. "Aye, I promise ye."

Their hands held onto each other's tightly as they shook, peace between the two men, and peace for a family torn apart by loss.

"That was some strange form of beautiful." Regina said quietly, having moved near Emma in silence to get a closer look at the scene.

"That's Ol' Bill Riley for you love." Emma said quietly. The old man turned to her and regarded her with a smile.

"Cap'n." He bowed his head. "Thank you, for all you're doin'…for all you've always done."

Emma's hand clapped on his shoulder. "I'll always do it, Bill. At least until I'm cold in the ground."

"May the gods prevent that for many years to come." He said with a nod.

"Aye, here's hoping." Emma said with a smile.

They all boarded, the ropes were tied or loosened as necessary, and the women, children, and elders of the cape were all already waving to their friends and family members.

"How much sail captain?" Ruby asked as Emma climbed the stairs to the upper deck and took the helm. She took off her hat, feeling the gentle breeze as it swept her hair forward over her shoulders. Regina had to fight her own instincts to stare at the image of Emma standing like a goddess in the moonlight. Staring at people wasn't proper, she was taught, but she was also taught to appreciate works of art, and gods, she didn't know which one she was looking at right now.

"Wind's gentle on us." Emma said. "Full sail, we wanna keep up our pace and make it in time."

"This is really happening isn't it?" Belle said to Regina quietly. The princess watched as Emma put her hat back on her head, whipped out her compass and placed it on the beam that supported the ship's wheel and watching as the needle turned until it pointed which way was north.

"Yes, it is." Regina smirked at Belle. "Off on an adventure we go."

Belle rolled her eyes and nudged Regina's shoulder with a fond smile on her face.

"You're so dramatic sometimes."

"You love me for it." Regina crossed her arms.

"Full sail lads!" Ruby called out to the crew "We wanna get there before Sully's wife gives birth!"

The men laughed and a few clapped Sully, the man who had just found out he was an expecting father, on the back and shoulder.

The ropes loosened, releasing the sails at their full glory, and the breeze pushed them forth but the anchor held the ship back.

"Loosen from the dock!" Emma called.

"Ropes loose men!" Ruby called louder, waving over to rail to signal to the men on the dock. The ropes tying the ship to the dock were loosened and reeled onto the deck. Regina, in her excitement went over and helped a man pull one in, Belle moving to help Ruby who was doing the same over the back of the ship.

"All loose sirs!" a man called from the main deck.

"On your word, captain." Ruby crossed her arms and looked over to Emma with a smirk - ready to face the seas again. Belle, standing a step behind Ruby, smiled at the sound of the older woman's voice as she stood in her element. Emma nodded to Ruby before she turned to face her crew.

"Weigh anchor, let her free, off we go!" Emma roared. The men cheered and the anchor was pulled up, the ship moving forward slowly as the villagers down on the dock cheered and waved their last goodbyes. Regina stood next to Emma, arms crossed.

"Off we go." She said, smirking up at the captain. "My first real pirate adventure."

"Excited?" Emma asked teasingly.

"Oh, definitely." Regina said. "After all, this journey seems to be promising to be quite…eventful."

Emma smirked at her before looking out onto the open seas, the moonlight making the waves shimmer like liquid silver. "They always are love, they always are."

Chapter Text

Belle yawned in her seat on a crate behind where Emma and Ruby stood as Regina pulled the leather vest she was wearing closer to her in an attempt to secure some more warmth.

"You two should get inside, get some rest." Emma said, rubbing her eyes as she looked at the compass in the darkness again.

"You're one to talk, captain." Ruby said. "Why don't I handle the ship?"

"No." Emma said. "It's dangerous, as able as you are Ruby, I'll take responsibility for my men and my ship. Take Belle and get some rest."

"If you're staying awake, so am I sir." Ruby crossed her arms.

"Here here." Regina said. "Besides I'm not tired…just…cold."

"Go put on your coat." Emma said. Regina looked down sheepishly.

"I didn't bring it." She said.

"Why the hell not?" Emma asked. She wasn't angry, of course, just curious.

"I'm not yet used to the weather here, captain." Regina said. "I didn't think I would need it. I didn't realize how bitterly cold it gets out on the open seas so late at night."

"Aye, we're usually wrapped up warm in bed at this point." Ruby said, looking at her pocket watch. It was late, much later than what most of them were used to, and the men were beginning to get sluggish. Their eyes were sore from working in the dark, and here they'd only been at sea three hours. Emma let out a soft sigh and pressed the bridge of her nose.

"Go inside before you catch a cold, Regina." She said again.

"I'll be fine. I survived falling into the frozen seas captain, remember?" she said. "I'll forget ever feeling this cold come sun up."

Emma's next sigh was a little more exasperated. "Ruby, take the wheel, I'll be back in a bit. Regina, come with me."

The captain released the wheel, Ruby stepping in to take it immediately. Regina looked at Belle, who shrugged in response to her friend's silent question, and then followed the captain, who was just now entering her quarters.

"Captain really I said I was fine." Regina said. Emma closed the door behind the princess and moved further into the room, pulling a chest out from under the bed and opening it. Regina tilted her head questioningly as Emma rummaged through the chest until she finally pulled out a coat, whipping it a couple of times to dust it off.

It was beautiful, was Regina's immediate thought. A navy blue exterior, with red cuffs and a high, red collar that matched the interior lining, and gold braiding around the buttons, and gold, tasselled epaulettes on the shoulders. It looked military, in fact it most definitely was, but not of any uniform Regina had ever seen in her life. Whoever it belonged to must have had an incredibly high rank.

"Here." Emma said, standing up and holding the long coat out to her. "Put this on before you freeze to death."

Regina's mouth opened and closed a little before she actually managed to speak. "That…that looks important. I can't take that from you."

Emma sighed. "It was…once…but now it's practically worthless beyond the sentiment it holds. I'd much rather you use it to keep you warm."

"What if I damage it?" Regina said.

"Then it would have lived it's life and served it's purpose, besides we can always mend it. Don't fret too much." Emma said, swinging the coat over Regina and draping it over her shoulders. She gave her a small smirk. "Besides, it suits you."

Regina thought she needed to say something, but Emma put the chest away and walked out of the room before she even had the chance to think of what it was. She stood in the quarters alone for a moment before she pushed her arms through the sleeves of the coat, basking in it's warmth before she followed Emma out of the room.

If she thought a few of the men were staring at her when she stepped outside, she ignored it, going upstairs and back to where she'd been before she'd followed Emma to her room. She didn't miss how Ruby's brow lifted at her before she turned to Emma though.

"That coat?" the quartermaster said to her captain quietly.

"Make nothing of it." Emma said. "She'll make more use of it than its previous owner can now."

"I'd wondered where you had put it." Ruby said. "Saving it for a rainy day?"

"Perhaps." Emma said. "Gods know what I was thinking back then. Regardless, it's hers now."

"And you're not worried about what will happen should you-know-who see it?" Ruby said.

"I'm starting to doubt she ever will." Emma said. "That's enough…go get some rest."

"Captain even my Granny's still up and about." Ruby said.

"I thought she went below deck an hour ago." Emma said.

"She is, she's playing cards with the reserve boys down below…taking them for all they're worth last I checked." Ruby chuckled. "Old bird still knows how to cheat."

"She taught you a thing or two, I believe." Emma teased.

"She taught you as well, you old sea dog." Ruby nudged her.

"Who're you calling old?" Emma nudged her back. Belle rolled her eyes at the two pirates from where she sat behind them before turning to Regina, who wasn't shivering anymore. She got up, stepping up beside Regina who was watching the moonlight bounce off the waves from the back of the ship

"That's a beautiful coat." Belle pointed out quietly, so that the captain and first mate wouldn't hear her from where she stood.

"Emma said it has sentimental value to her." Regina said. "If that's true then why did she give it to me?"

Belle smirked and nudged her. "Because you have sentimental value to her, silly."

Regina blushed in the moonlight. "Be quiet before someone hears you."

"I only speak what I know to be the truth." Belle shrugged. "I'm exhausted."

"I am too but I can't bring myself to leave her side." Regina sighed. "I'm nervous."

"About the sweet shores?" Belle asked.

"No…about what we'll do when we get back to the cape." The princess said. "I've never felt so deeply about anything Belle…what if it's met with rejection? Is a broken heart something someone can die of?"

"Oh now you're just being dramatic." Belle rolled her eyes. "Stop worrying so much and just enjoy what you can while you can hmm? You were excited about this adventure up to a few hours ago."

"I know…I suppose staying up so late makes you think too much." Regina gave her friend a small smile.

"On the bright side…Emma's hair looks beautiful in the moonlight." Belle said, turning to look at the captain.

"Go stare at your own pirate Belle." Regina huffed, only half serious, before she looked at Emma as well.

"Oh I am, I just wanted to make you look." Belle teased before she stepped away, picking up the flask Ruby gave her and going to offer the quartermaster a drink. "To keep you warm?"

"Thanks love." Ruby smiled at her, accepting the flask. Regina rolled her eyes at her friend before she stared at the back of the captain's head. With her hat off, Belle was right, Emma looked beautiful in the moonlight.

But then, Regina sighed, there were few moments where Emma didn't.

"Regina." She heard, jolting in her seat. She must have dozed off, she thought as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes. When she opened them, she saw the captain crouched down beside her.

"Hmm? I apologize captain, I fear my exhaustion got the better of me." She said.

"It's alright." Emma said. "I was thinking I would have to carry you to bed."

"Well you certainly know how to make a girl feel special." Regina smirked. Emma rolled her eyes at her, but couldn't fight off a smirk of her own. The lanterns were lit, allowing the princess to see her surroundings better. She must have been asleep for a longer time than she thought.

"Come on, off to bed." Emma said, standing up. Regina was about to protest but Emma held a hand up. "I'm coming too, lass, Jack's taken over for now."

"Aye." Jack nodded from where he stood at the helm. "Don't worry captain, I'll wake ye should I think it necessary."

"You know what to do." Emma said, gesturing for Regina to get up. "You taught me all I know after all."

"Aye, I suppose I did." Jack said, giving the captain a small smile. "It's clear I taught ye well too. But even a good captain needs 'er rest."

"Just don't sink my ship." Emma teased, handing him her flask. "Keep warm, it's cold tonight."

"I can see that." Jack said, glancing over at the coat Regina wore before taking Emma's flask. "Rest well."

"Wake me at sun up." Emma said.

"Aye sir." Jack nodded as Emma lead Regina down the stairs and into her quarters. The princess closed the door behind them as Emma took of her coat and began unlacing her boots.

"You have a long history with Jack then?" the brunette asked.

"He taught me how to sail." Emma said. "And how to manage a crew."

"Was this during the war?" Regina asked again.

"More towards the end of it but yes." Emma climbed up further on the bed. "He was in the royal navy before…when the isles still had a royal navy to speak of."

"I thought he might, from the way he stands." Regina said. "The military and nobility are often clear in a person's posture."

"Is that how you figured me out then?" Emma smirked at her.

"In part." Regina smiled at her gently. "After all we most likely went through the same lessons. Sit up straight…"

"Head held high." Emma continued.

"Speak only when spoken too." Regina sighed. "I didn't really like that last one."

"I can see why…I didn't have that one." Emma said. "Mine was…how'd she put it…'speak only when you've listened carefully enough to have a proper response.'"

Regina raised a brow at her. "Well, your mother was certainly more lenient than mine then."

"And here, you had me fooled." Emma joked. Regina rolled her eyes as she gently took the coat off and hung it up next to Emma's.

"If piracy doesn't work out for you captain, you have a promising career as a jester." She teased. Emma laughed. "Oh just go to sleep, it's late and we have an early morning."

"Yes, mother." Emma teased again.

"Ha ha." Regina said as she took her own boots off and crawled into bed. "If you were my daughter I would have washed your mouth out with soap far too many times to count by now."

"You'll be a brilliant mother then." Emma teased. "You don't learn how to swear in the palace."

"Most certainly not." Regina said, turning on her side, her back towards Emma. "Goodnight Emma."

"Goodnight love." Emma said, turning over and blowing the candle on her nightstand out.

The next morning, Granny had just finished passing around breakfast for the crew when she sat down beside Ruby, who was still trying to wake up, and handed her a plate with a scone and some buttered bread.

"Not much for breakfast." The old woman commented.

"Hah." Ruby scoffed, accepting the plate from her. "You should have seen what it was like on our way back from the southern isles. Three nights of no dinner, spaced out over the whole journey, and breakfast was rum."

"I told Swan to take more food, that Wallace can eat the whole crew's worth of food." Granny said. "You need to be eating more and drinking less yourself."

"I haven't died of starvation yet." Ruby said, biting into her bread.

"Hopefully I can keep that from happening a little longer then hmm?" the older Lucas said. She examined her granddaughter as she ate, her eyes landing on what hung around her neck. "Haven't seen you wear that locket in years."

"Hmm?" Ruby looked down at herself and held the locket up in her hands with a faint smile. "It felt useless to wear it up till now."

"What changed?" Granny asked. Ruby looked at her in silence for a moment before her eyes wandered over to Belle, who had been helping Granny feed the crew. "Ah…that would be it then."

"What do you mean?" Ruby looked at her.

"That girl…ever since she came along you've been different." Granny pointed out. "Mind you, I don't see you enough lately to know, for all I know you changed before but…no…it's something about her."

"It's not what you think, Granny." Ruby said.

"No I don't think it is, because what I thought when I first saw you two was that you were just doing with her what you do with all the other girls. I saw Winnie flirting with you last night before we left…I'm surprised it wasn't her laying in your bed this morning." The old woman said. "How long has that been going on?"

"It's only to keep the men away from her…she's not from the Isles, she's a learned woman." Ruby said. "The men wouldn't know the first thing of what to do with her. And…well when I met her she could have easily gotten hurt."

"I see…so you let her sleep in your bed to keep her under your watch." Granny nodded. "Doesn't explain while you were holding onto her like a hungry babe to its mother's teet."

"Granny." Ruby groaned. "Enough."

"You like her." Granny pointed out, ignoring her granddaughter's protests. "And more so than any girl you've liked thus far."

Ruby sighed. "She uhm…she's teaching me to read and write."

"I'm supposing you're not throwing books at her then?" Granny asked. Ruby smirked and shook her head. "Well, good, she's far too sweet a girl to be getting that kind of treatment."

"Aye, she is." Ruby nodded, staring up at Belle as she milled about. The younger brunette didn't realize she was being watched at first, but then her eyes caught Ruby's and she held her gaze for a moment, smiling at her before she went back to what she was doing.

"You love her." Granny stated.

"Now hang on-" Ruby was going to argue

"You do." Granny said. "You haven't smiled at anyone or looked at anyone like that since…well damn I don't think you ever have. Only person I've known you to love besides me was your mother. Even that sweet fellow who was courting you didn't win over that sort of smile."

Ruby sighed. "Don't scare her off."

"Scare her off?" Granny said. "And lose the one chance I have of knowing you'll end up with a good person? I'd have to be mad."

"You are mad." Ruby muttered, earning herself a punch in the shoulder.

"Not that mad." Granny said. "I just hope you're not stupid enough to ruin this."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Ruby asked.

"Don't hurt that girl Ruby, she's a sweet young thing…don't do anything stupid." Granny warned.

"I'm not going to, you and Emma need to have a bit more faith in me." Ruby protested.

"I do have faith in you, girl, but I also have the age and wisdom to know that sometimes faith ain't worth shit." Granny said. "Sometimes all you've got is your sword and your pistol and whatever's floating between your ears. And the rest can fuck itself to hell."

"Didn't ma used to yell at you for swearing around me?" Ruby asked.

"Yeah well your mother's not here is she?" Granny said. "Gods know everything would be different if she were."

Ruby clutched her locket again. "Aye, I suppose it would be."

"You haven't told me how Belle convinced you to wear that locket." Granny asked.

"No convincing needed." Ruby said, putting her plate down beside her and brushing the crumbs off her hands before she opened the locket and unrolled the slip of paper. "She taught me to write her name."

Granny took the slip gently in her hands and sighed, a small smirk forming on her weathered face. "Anita Lucas…You know your grandfather wanted to name her Marigold."

"She would have fucking hated it." Ruby chuckled.

"Yeah she would have." Granny handed Ruby back the paper and Ruby put it away. "Let's hope that girl can teach you to write neater, otherwise the tavern books are going to be shit when you take over."

"I'm just starting to learn Granny." Ruby protested.

"Learn faster." Granny teased as she stood up. "I'm not getting any younger."

"No you sure as hell aren't." Ruby muttered.

"I heard that." Granny called back. Ruby laughed before she continued eating.

When Emma began to stir into the waking world, she was warm. Warmer than usual when on board her ship, warmer than she had been when Regina had been laying on her chest the day they arrived Cape Black. She had warmth surrounding her body, her face, and her head. Her body was easy to answer, Regina was laying very close to her. Her head? She realised a moment later that there was a gentle hand cradling it from the back. Her face?

She opened her eyes and pulled away slightly and realized she was nuzzled into Regina's chest, the princess' chin resting on the top of her head.

She sighed, her heart telling her not to move a fucking muscle. And despite how much she didn't want to, she knew she couldn't just lie there with the princess all day. In fact, given how much light there was in the room, she knew for sure that she'd slept for longer than she intended.

"Regina…wake up." She said, clearing her throat from the remnants of sleep.

"Mmmh." Regina groaned as the captain pulled her face out of her neck a little bit.

"Wake up lass." Emma said again, her voice just a whisper.

"No." Regina pouted. Emma chuckled, her hot breath hitting Regina's skin.

"Last night you refused to sleep and now you refuse to wake up." The captain said. "I'll never understand you."

"Good, keeps things interesting." Regina mumbled before she pulled Emma closer and hid her face in the blonde's hair.

"Regina." Emma groaned. "Let go."

"Hmm?" Regina opened her eyes finally after a yawn, pulling back just the slightest bit to be able to look down at Emma, who, because of the way they were laying next to each other, was lower than her eye level at that point. "Oh."

"Oh?" Emma smirked.

"I didn't realize I was holding you…" Regina said.

"You still are, love." Emma said teasingly. Regina became all too aware of the hand on the back of Emma's head, and the other that was draped over her side and could almost cup the small of the blonde's back.

"I…I suppose so." Regina said hesitantly.

"And if you plan on ever letting me go, I'd be very appreciative of you sharing that information with me." Emma teased. Regina blushed, gently extracting her arm from under Emma's head.

"My apologies, captain…I suppose I just…" Regina trailed off, her eyes never wandering from Emma's.

"Got cold?" Emma raised a brow. The brunette smirked at her.

"Perhaps." She said.

"No worries, love." Emma said with a smirk of her own. "Between you and me, I'd much rather lay here with you than go outside and listen to Ruby's hollering and Granny's complaining."

"Well, you certainly know how to flatter a girl, captain." Regina teased. Emma chuckled as she rolled over pushed herself up into a sitting position, scooting down the bed to reach her boots. "Have we slept in?"

"I believe so." Emma said. "I asked Jack and Ruby to wake me up."

"I suppose I can't help but feel a little glad that they didn't walk in and see us like that." Regina blushed slightly. "Do you?"

Emma looked back at Regina with a raised brow. "Don't wanna be seen clinging to a pirate in your sleep, lass?"

"I mean no offense, captain." Regina said, throwing the thin cotton sheet off of her and swinging her legs off the bed. "It's not because I'd be ashamed of being seen with you in any way, of course."

"Of course." Emma said in a teasing tone. "But you don't want to be."

"I merely wish that people do not get the wrong idea." Regina said. "For your sake as much as mine."

"My sake?" Emma chuckled. "I'm neither a married woman, nor a virgin. It's not exactly like I have any honour left to protect."

"On the contrary captain." Regina pulled her boots on and stood up straight, hands on her hips and standing straight in front of Emma. "You're one of the more honourable people I've had the pleasure of meeting - there's more to a woman's honour than her virginity, is there not?"

"Most definitely." Emma said with a nod. "But I am a pirate."

"If you're lacking in honour for being a pirate, then my mother is lacking in honour for creating the circumstances which drove you to become one, captain." Regina stated, as if it were a scientific fact rather than a matter of opinion. "And I would be lacking as well for the simple reason that I'm standing on this ship of my own volition to aid your cause."

"Or well…" Emma smirked at her. "At least you are this time around."

"We can sit and chat about the intricate details of our current situation until the seas dry up under the hot sun, captain, I do believe there's a point to this journey." Regina teased again, turning on her heel and picking up her vest off the coat rack on her way out of Emma's quarters, Emma following her a moment later with a roll of her eyes. The princess went over to Belle immediately, but Emma went to take the helm.

"Morning captain." Ruby said.

"I thought I asked you to wake me at sun up." Emma said as she took the ship's wheel from her first mate.

"I did, sir, but you told me to fuck off and then buried your head too far between Regina's breasts to hear anything save her own heartbeat." Ruby said. Emma's jaw clenched as she blushed slightly.

"Shut your fucking mouth." She said.

"Aye aye, captain."

"Abbie's scones are delicious." Belle said as she bit into one.

"I'm surprised Emma's not angry and you and Granny for distributing them to the crew." Regina said as she bit into her own. "She loves these scones, I'd imagine she would have wanted to keep them to herself."

"We'll be home in another day or so and she can have as many scones as she likes." Belle said. "Don't worry too much about your captain."

"She's not my-" Regina was about to protest before Belle gave her a look and she blushed. "Emma deserves nice things."

"No doubt about that." Belle teased.

"So how did you get on with Granny?" Regina asked. "Did you ask permission to marry her granddaughter yet?"

"Regina!" Belle hushed. "She's a wonderful woman. A little blunt, but given the kind of world she's lived in and how long she's lived in it for I'd imagine you'd have to have a tough exterior to survive in it…she said she'd show me how to make her stew tonight…she said if I'm at least half decent the men on this ship won't ever have to live through Ruby's slop again and the world will be all the more better for it."

"With all due respect to Ruby and how highly you think of her." Regina prefaced. "That slop tasted god-awful."

"Agreed." Belle said with a nod. "And it also confirmed that Granny doesn't know who we are either…Regina the only people who know the truth are the two of us and Emma and Ruby…even the men who were here when we were taken seem to have…well either they've forgotten or they've been ordered into silence."

"And gods help the man who goes against Emma's orders." Regina smirked. "I think we'll be fine."

"Are we really going to propose your plan to them then? To sack the ship that comes for us, should it come?" Belle asked. "They might think us mad."

"Belle, I think we're far past the point of caring whether people think us mad or not." Regina said. "That being said…well…we said that we're going to admit our feelings to them, did we not?"

"Yes." Belle nodded. "Which I'm very nervous about - mind you."

"I am as well, but honestly I think I might burst if I don't tell Emma." Regina said.

"I feel the same about Ruby." Belle sighed.

"Then we stick to that plan. We tell them…and should they reciprocate…well if that's the case then I don't want to go home. Not when I have everything I want here, with Emma." Regina said. "If they reciprocate…then we propose the plan should the navy come for us."

"And if they don't?" Belle asked, genuine fear in her eyes. Regina sighed and took her hand gently.

"Then…we heal together." She said with a small smile towards her friend. "And leave the rest to fate."

Chapter Text

Regina had been quite adamant about the fact that she was not, in fact, nervous about this journey, or the projected outcome of it. But as the sun began showing signs of it's plans to retreat behind the horizon, that fact became less truth and more desire. She didn't want to be nervous - but she was beginning to be.

As the day wore on, Emma seldom moved away from the wheel, and Regina switched rather fluidly between helping the men on the ship, and standing close by Emma's side. She didn't know why, she didn't have a direct role on this ship, at least not yet. But she felt like her place was by Emma's side unless something came up that required her help, or Emma herself told her to go do something to keep her busy.

Now, caught in her own reverie and as a result of her own nerves, she was pacing back and forth behind the helm where Emma stood. Ruby was downstairs, taking a break after hours standing idly by the captain, and Belle was with Granny being taught how to make the famous Lucas stew. They were alone, and Regina felt like she needed to say something, but gods help her she had no idea what

"You alright love?" Emma asked.

"Fine captain." Regina answered distractedly.

"Then would you care to explain to me, Regina, why you're intending on digging a hole in my deck?" Emma said, looking over her shoulder. Regina looked up at her questioningly and then realized what Emma was talking about when she looked at her feet - her pacing.

"I'm sorry." Regina sighed, stepping up beside the captain and resting her elbows on the banister. "I didn't mean to be a nuisance."

"You're not love." Emma said. "Something on your mind?"

"I suppose there's quite a number of things occupying it currently, but…gods help I can't seem to make heads or tails of them." The princess brought her chin down on her arms.

"Hmm, I know that feeling well." Emma nodded. "It's like the whole world's lying on your two shoulders and you're trying to work out how to carry it all at once - gods forbid even a single bit of it crumbles in the fray."

"You have quite a way with words, captain." Regina gave her a small smirk. "Very poetic."

"My mother adored literature." Emma said casually. "Insisted I read at least a chapter of a book or one poem a day."

"Your mother sounds like she was an incredible person." Regina said. "I'm truly sorry she's lost to us."

"She was." Emma nodded. "Even though sometimes my thirst for adventure sent her up the walls with worry. She loved me…I know that much. My father as well…"

A moment of silence passed over them as calmly and as quickly as the slight breeze that made the black flag of the ship whip in place.

"Did you mean what you said to little Billy Moore?" Regina asked. "About your parents, that you miss them every day?"

"I did." Emma nodded. "Of course, the pain has…well it hasn't gone away, not completely, I suspect it never will. But…you grieve, you cry and scream and curse the world to the bowels of hell and then one day you wake up and…and it's not so bad. Breathing is a little bit easier all of a sudden…and you're no longer envious of the dead for being unable to feel pain."

Regina was silent, her jaw clenched as she tried not to imagine Emma, only a few years younger than her at the time, with her whole world being torn apart at the hands of her mother. She wasn't very successful, but at least she was able to push back her emotions.

"I'm so sorry, Emma." She said hoarsly.

"Hey, I told you, you've got no fault in any of it." Emma said. "Only person who does…well…I mean no offense to you of course but…she's well beyond forgiving."

"I dare say she is, no offense taken." Regina said, standing and turning so that she was facing the captain with her back against the banister and her elbows tucked in and resting on top of it. Emma averted her eyes from the horizon to glance at the princess in their silence.

"So, you planning on telling me what's got you so worried?" the blonde asked.

"How do you know I'm worrying about anything?" Regina asked. Emma smirked a little and stuck up her index finger, poking the spot between Regina's eyebrows gently.

"A crinkle of your brow, means a worry on your mind." She said. "I can read people, Regina, I wouldn't have survived as long in my line of work if I couldn't."

Regina rolled here eyes and looked at the captain. "Well I suppose you've got me all figured out then."

"Not completely." Emma chuckled. "I can read expressions, love, not minds."

"Could have had me fooled." Regina muttered sarcastically. Emma rolled her eyes.

"Suit yourself if you don't want to tell me." She shrugged. "You're under no obligation. I just want to make sure you don't worry yourself needlessly."

"I suppose I'm just thinking about what will happen when we arrive…what we want to happen is obvious, but whether that becomes a reality or not remains to be seen." Regina said.

"That's true." Emma nodded. "Whatever the fates have in store for us, they'll keep it to themselves until it plays out. And whatever happens after that - there's no taking it back…are you having second thoughts about joining?"

"No." Regina shook her head. "Whatever happens, I want to be there."

"Good spirit." Emma nodded. "That's the crucial part - you go in with a good spirit and a clear mind, you survive a little longer."

"Are you expecting a fight?" Regina asked.

"I'd be very surprised if there isn't one." Emma said. Regina let out a soft sigh. "Are you scared?"

"I think only the very foolish would knowingly go into a fight without being even the least bit scared, captain." Regina said.

"A very wise thing to say." Emma said. "Especially for someone who's never been in a fight…Don't you worry, just hold back, and if it gets too messy, stick by me. I'll do my best to protect you."

Regina looked over to Emma, her brow relaxing slightly under the warmth of her sentiment. "And if it comes down to your life or mine?"

Emma looked at her, eyes shining and intense under the reddening sun.

"There's worse things to die for." She said, not the slightest hesitation in her voice. Regina all but lost her breath. She pushed off the banister and stood up straight, turning to the captain fully.

"Emma, I know we're going over there with the thirst for victory and the expectation to quench it - I pray to the gods it comes to that." She began, gulping at the idea of the contrary. "But…if something does happen…to either of us…I want you to know that…that I'm incredibly honored to have met you…to have stood beside you as an ally - for however little time that was. And I know it won't change anything, but if somehow my being here has made any of the pain you've been through a little easier to bear - in any way - then…then dying for your cause would have all been worth it…"

Emma let go of the ship's wheel - which had been still for a while now anyway - and stepped closer to Regina, reaching up and gently lifting her chin with her fingers, surprising the brunette but not in any unpleasant way.

"I assure you, love…having you here has…well it's helped." Emma gave her a small smirk. "And I can't help but wonder what life would have been like had that war not happened…how our lives would have been intertwined in another world…another life."

Regina resisted every single urge to push herself closer to the captain and smiled at her. "Well I suppose, whatever happens on that plantation tonight, I'll have another life to look forward to, another circumstance in which to find you…"

"Not unless I find you first." Emma said with a teasing smirk. Regina opened her mouth, but-

"Cap'n!" a man cried down from the crow's nest. "Land ho!"

"Ruby, come here!" Granny called, getting a groan in response as Ruby stood up from her seat and entered the galley where Belle was stirring the pot over the cooking spit.

"The hell's goin' on in here?" Ruby asked, sniffing the air. "Fuck, what smells so damn good?"

Belle tried her best to hide a proud grin. "Mrs. Lucas is teaching me how to cook."

"Hey." Granny tapped Belle's shoulder with the back of her hand lightly. "Mrs. Lucas was that prude of a mother-in-law I had. Everyone calls me Granny. You might as well start doing so as well."

"Oh." Belle blushed a little at the intimacy of the title. "Sorry…Granny."

"There you go." Granny smiled at her before she turned to her granddaughter. "I'm teachin' this one to cook."

"It smells like your stew in here." Ruby said.

"What do you think I'm teaching her to cook? It's a ship, I can't exactly teach her how to make my roast hog." Granny said. "But she's a quick study, with any luck the crew won't have to suffer your slop ever again."

"They'll be better for it." Ruby shrugged, stepping up beside Belle and picking up a spoon that was on a small table close by. She dipped the spoon in and scooped up a healthy amount into it, blowing on it before she took a mouthful. "Mmmh…fucking hell…that's almost better than yours Granny- OW."

Granny had whipped her in the back with the rag that had been hanging off her shoulder. "I didn't raise you for thirty five years just so you can say that shit to me girl."

Belle bit her lip and tried not to laugh at Ruby's plight. "I think she was just trying too hard to compliment me Granny."

"Eh." Granny shrugged. "It's possible she's right. My taste buds aren't what they used to be."

"You could have fucking admitted that before you whipped me like a slave." Ruby muttered and grumbled as she took another spoonful. "Mmm…That's definitely better than mine."

"That's no compliment to give a girl." Granny said, stepping up on Belle's other side. "Girl's worked hard, I think she's shaping up to be one of my best students."

"I told you she's a smart one, eh lass?" Ruby nudged Belle's shoulder and Belle blushed under the warmth of the Lucas women.

"I enjoy learning new things." She shrugged.

"Atta girl." Granny wrapped an arm around her shoulder and gave her a side-squeeze. "Now you keep stirring while I go get the bowls and plates. Don't want it to clump up."

"Yes Granny." Belle nodded.

"See girl?" Granny said to Ruby, gesturing to her newest pupil. "That's how you treat your elders."

Ruby chuckled and shook her head as Granny stepped out of the room. "I'd be careful lass, I think she's considering adopting you."

"There are worse things." Belle shrugged.

"Aye, I suppose." Ruby shrugged and crossed her arms across her chest. "Well done, by the way, it truly is delicious."

"Thank you." Belle blushed a little as she kept stirring.

"Granny's right." Ruby nodded. "The men will be better for never having to eat my slop ever again…that is…if you're intending on sticking around that long."

Belle looked up at Ruby, who looked at her with a brow raised in question, and blushed slightly.

"Well…I suppose…" Belle sighed. "It is nice…feeling so useful to so many people instead of standing around and looking pretty while your father makes grand speeches."

"Yeah, I can imagine that would get boring." Ruby nodded. "After all looking pretty doesn't seem to take much effort on your end."

"P-pardon?" Belle stuttered. Ruby smirked, inching closer to her and brushing a strand of hair out of her face as Belle focused on the stew in the pot.

"Relax, love." Ruby said quietly. Belle tried her hardest to do just that, but it didn't help that Ruby's breath was almost hitting her hot cheeks. "So is that it then? Are you really intending on staying?"

"Well…" Belle bit her lip. "I suppose…that depends."

"On what?" Ruby asked curiously.

"Well I suppose we should wait and see if we survive whatever goes on on that plantation." Belle said. "After all as able as you, the captain, and the rest of the crew are, it's still quite an uncertain fate isn't it?"

"Aye." Ruby nodded. "But fate's never let us down before…or at least we've never allowed it to."

"And I hope with all my heart that that remains true for a long time, Ruby." Belle looked up at her, both of them stopping for a second at the chills that ran up their spines when their eyes connected.

"And if it does…you'll stay?" Ruby asked. Belle sighed, looking away for a moment before she gave a gentle nod.

"I want to." She said. "And between you and I, Regina wants to as well."

"Aye, but I figured that when I saw her with the captain this morning." Ruby smirked.

"Hmm." Belle smirked up at her. "I do recall something similar happening between us a few short days ago."

"Oh…uh…yeah." Ruby scratched the back of her neck. "If I ever bother you while I'm sleeping just kick me, lass, I'll not blame you."

"I assure you, Ruby." Belle tried willed herself not to blush as she spoke. "It was of no bother to me…and it wasn't any time it's happened after that either."

"I…what?" Ruby looked at her, her cheeks tinging red suddenly and Belle shrugged.

"I didn't want to embarrass you by pointing it out." The younger brunette said. "It doesn't matter either way."

"It doesn't?" Ruby asked. Belle shook her head slowly. "You're not disturbed by it then?"

"On the contrary, Ruby…" Belle smirked. "It provides an added comfort I didn't get to enjoy before."

"Comfort hmm?" Ruby nodded, crossing her arms and taking a deep breath. "Love…there's…perhaps there's something I should tell you-"

"Miss Lucas!" a man came running down the stairs.

"What is it Murray?" Ruby asked.

"Land ho, sir, captain wants you up at the helm." The man said. Ruby sighed and nodded, giving Belle a lingering look before she walked away and up the stairs. Emma was looking through her telescope with Jack holding a map beside her when Ruby stepped up to join them.

"You summoned me?" she said.

"Yes." Emma said, pulling the scope away from her eye and handing it to Ruby. "Land, are those the sweet shores?"

Ruby looked through the scope, focusing on the distant spot of land visible just beyond the horizon, noticing how even from that great distance, she could see that there was vast open land on the island, covered in small cane trees.

"Aye." She pulled the scope away. "That's them alright."

"They're far off…hours away still." Emma said, looking up at the setting sun. "By my calculations we'll be hidden by the dark of night by the time we get there."

"Have a plan, captain?" Ruby asked.

"Aye similar to how we got out of the cape." Emma nodded, turning to Jack who held the map out so that she could use it to explain. "We'll turn larboard. Come in under cover of the cliffs. We'll dock there where their watch won't catch sight of us and use the whaleboat to sail in as close as possible. Those cliffs are covered in shrubbery, we can use that to our advantage. If we can get Granny hidden at a good vantage point at the right distance she can knock a couple out with her crossbow before their dogs even catch our scents."

"Full crew on land then sir?" Ruby asked.

"No." Emma shook her head. "Us three, Granny, the girls, pick ten men. If we can sneak in and eliminate them silently we'll avoid a battle and win anyway."

"You sure that's enough? Maybe the girls should stay here." Ruby suggested. Emma shook her head.

"If they catch wind of us and attack the ship before we can get back ourselves I want them by our side. You and I can watch them…I don't trust anyone else to do that." She said. "They stick by us."

"Yes sir." Ruby nodded. "And the rest of the men?"

"They keep on standby on the ship. The minute our boots hit this deck, I want us gone and on our way back home. No prisoners, no survivors save Jack's men."

"Sounds good to me." Jack said.

"Aye." Ruby nodded. "Shall I hold off supper?"

"No, let the men eat and have their strength up." Emma said. "If this goes wrong it might just be their last meal."

"Let's not let it go wrong then." Ruby said before she turned on her heel and went back to the Galley. Emma turned to Regina, who looked at her in concern and curiosity.

"What do you think, love?" Emma asked.

"Sounds like a good plan captain." Regina nodded. "Not that you needed me to tell you that."

Emma shrugged. "You're involved, might as well speak your mind."

"The rest of the men don't get to do so." Regina raised a brow at her. Emma smirked at her.

"Aye…but you're no regular crew-mate are you?" she said, nudging the princess on her shoulder before she went back to the helm. "Three hours…four if the wind's not in our favour. You ready for this?"

"As ready as one can be, captain."

"Eat up men." Emma said, sitting on a crate in the circle of available seating the men always put around to group up for meals. Jack was at the wheel, having eaten before taking the dog watch (a shorter watch that allowed for meal times) to steer the ship and keep them on course while Emma, Ruby, the girls, Granny, and the men that were preparing to go ashore with them, as well as a few other crew men ate.

"Mmm." A man groaned. "Saints alive, Granny…this might just be yer best batch o' stew yet!"

Ruby snorted and Belle blushed as Granny raised a brow at him. "This ain't mine, Jackson. It's the girl's."

She gestured towards Belle with her head and the men looked up at her before looking at Granny. The young girl blushed under their scrutiny, but Regina grinned proudly and nudged her friend's shoulder and Belle had to fight off a giggle because even she wasn't immune to flattery some times.

"Beggin' yer pardon miss." Jackson said. "I meant no offense."

"None taken sir." Belle said with a smile. "I'm glad you like it."

"Well done lass." Emma said distractedly, her eyes fixed on the deck as she ate, her mind a million miles away.

"Thank you captain." Belle said before she gave Regina a questioning look. The princess shrugged and scooted closer towards the blonde.

"Something on your mind, captain?" she chanced in asking. Emma didn't answer and Regina looked at her in concern.

"Pay 'er no mind lass." Jackson said. "The cap'ns often stuck in 'er own 'ead just before a heist. Likely goin' over 'er plan an' makin' sure she's left nothin' to chance. We've not lost a man to a bullet or sword yet because of it."

"Let's hope it remains to be so." Emma said distractedly. "This is uncharted territory for us."

"For you, and many of the crew, perhaps, sir." A man with dark skin and a thick voice spoke up before he took in a spoonful of stew. Regina had noticed him, but he was quiet, and she thought him to be reserved. He stood tall above the rest of the men and while he socialized with the crew and the captain as any other man, he seemed to calculate his moves as much as the captain calculated hers. Much like a woman in a man's world, he was a fish out of water, and when Emma looked up at him, giving him her full attention, Regina realized that he must hold her respect more than the other men do.

"How's that, Agwe?" she asked. He smirked at her, swallowing his mouthful before speaking up.

"Have you forgotten? I escaped the clutches of those privateers and that plantation before I joined you, sir…sailed these very same waters for days on a raft made of driftwood and cane, with nothing but a torn shirt for a sail." He reminded her.

"Right." Emma's face dropped into her hands and she messaged the bridge of her nose. Regina wondered if she was getting a headache from stressing too much. "My apologies, Agwe, my mind's been on too many things at once."

"Fret not, sir." Agwe said with a nod. "After all, it's been ten years since I told you all of this."

"Has it truly been that long?" Emma asked him. He gave a single nod and a smirk. "Remind me sir, have you volunteered to be among my ten?"

"Truthfully, captain, I have not." He admitted. "I did not wish to face my previous captors, even if the idea of gaining my own revenge on them was tempting. The horrors I bore witness to on that plantation are something I wish to keep in my distant past. I fear seeing the land I once knew to be my prison would bring back too many memories. However, sir, it is a burden I will bear if you wish me to do so."

Emma sighed, resting her elbows on her knees and rubbing her hands together in thought. "You'd be invaluable to us on land, Agwe, knowing the land as well as you do…but you know me. I will not force you to step foot on that land if you do not wish to do so. The choice remains yours and yours alone - no one will fault you for choosing not to join us, I promise you that."

Agwe nodded, the muscles of his jaw flexing as he clenched it in thought. He ate the last spoonful of his stew, put the bowl down, and pulled out his flask, taking a swig of rum before he stood up, holding the flask out in Emma's direction.

"You are my captain. But ten years ago, when I arrived, starving, and nearly dead from thirst on your cape, with nothing to my name and nothing but a price on my head, you were my savior. You fed me, watered me, took me in as if I were a brother to you rather than an outsider. The horrors I faced on that plantation would still haunt me to this day if it were not you who gave me a new life and a new purpose. You gave me the freedom I was told I did not deserve, Captain. Today you sit in front of me with the power to order me to do something, and yet you give me a choice. And I choose, captain…to be by your side as I have been for ten years. My sword and pistol are yours to command, sir. My knowledge is at your disposal, and if need be I will use my life to save yours." He said, his jaw clenched as he awaited Emma's response. She stood up, pulling out her own flask and opening it. She held it out near where Agwe's was hovering in his hand.

"You are my brother Agwe, as is the rest of my crew. You do me a service and an honor and I promise you I will not forget it." Emma said. She tapped her flask against Agwe's and they drank together, the men sitting around them letting out a loud cheer as they did. The flasks were put away, and Emma nodded to lead Agwe up to the upper deck to explain their plan to him.

"That was…ceremonial." Regina commented, looking over to Belle and Ruby.

"It's a cultural thing really. When someone owes a debt of honour and the other collects, they drink together to signify a transaction carried out, and those who cheer have borne witness." Ruby explained. "Only thing is Emma never held a debt over Agwe's head, but he's an honourable man and he feels he had one to pay."

"So Emma just absolved him of the debt she refused to enforce." Regina nodded. "Are the two close?"

"They're kindred in similar experiences, but then Emma has a sort of connection with all of the crew." Ruby said. "It's a long history lass, but it started in the war and built up from there. Frankly, I can't imagine myself on any other ship, with any other crew, headed by any other captain. I'll tell you this, after everything that's happened in my life and everything we've been through together; I thank the gods for Emma Swan."

Ruby got up, picking up her plate and taking it back to the galley so that she could join the captain and Agwe up by the helm. Regina and Belle looked at each other with mirrored looks and raised brows as the men began clearing away their empty plates to return to their duties.

"Do you think Ruby knows everything about the captain? Who she is…" Belle asked.

"I've suspected so for quite some time now." Regina said. "She made some kind of comment at the tavern the first time we went, when Emma walked out."

"I remember." Belle nodded. "I doubt she'll tell me anything though…"

"I'm not expecting you to try and take any information from her mind." Regina shook her head. "As much as I would like to know the truth about Emma's past, I won't put her and Ruby's friendship in jeopardy for it…Besides, this isn't the time. I think our investigation will have to wait till we're back at the cape."

"Agreed." Belle sighed, looking down at her bowl, clearly thinking about something else entirely. Regina raised a brow at her.

"Is everything alright?" she asked.

"Earlier…before Murray called Ruby up near Emma when they saw land…She was down in the galley beside me." Belle said.

"I see…" Regina smirked. "And by the look on your face and the tint of your cheeks, I'm guessing Granny wasn't there to chaperon."

"Well she was and then she left." Belle said. "And…We were talking and Ruby said something that made me feel flustered and then all of a sudden she was very close."

"Oh gods, did you kiss?" Regina's face brightened.

"No." Belle deflated, Regina did as well with an exasperated sigh.

"Really Belle, you're verging on frustrating." The princess said.

"How do you think feel?" Belle huffed. "Honestly sometimes it's all I can do not to just grab her and do it."

"So why don't you?" Regina said. "I doubt it would be met negatively."

"She was going to tell me something but she got interrupted." Belle said, shaking her head. "It's like the universe is playing games."

"Fuck the universe!" Regina said.

"Regina!" Belle admonished. Regina rolled her eyes.

"Oh please, we're on a pirate ship we're past propriety." She waved off. "If the universe is trying to play a game, you need to win it. Honestly this is the second near-miss you've had. Not to mention the fact that only the gods know what goes on in that bed of yours."

"You're one to talk." Belle poked her arm. "Ruby told me how the captain was clinging to you this morning."

"Yes that was..." Regina smiled and blushed. "Definitely new."

"So what do we do? Because the terms of our deal were that we tell them when we get back to the cape, but you sound like you can't even wait that long." Belle asked. Regina shook her head.

"If something happens before we arrive, if for some reason we decide we should tell them sooner, then so be it." She shrugged. "But I won't be running to Emma in the middle of a fight to tell her."

"Although it would be very dramatic." Belle teased. Regina rolled her eyes.

"I think I've had enough drama for one lifetime." She said, standing up from her seat. "Come on, I want to hear if Agwe has any better advice on the plan."

"Fit for a captain's wife indeed." Belle said teasingly, earning her a slight glare from the princess.

"There's a cave right here." Agwe pointed on the map near the cliffs of the isle. "It's up high in the cliffside…about five fathoms high up…I believe if we were to grapple a rope to the side of the cliff, we would be able to climb up into the cave. It tunnels you see captain, through the cliff into the jungle. And from there one has the option to either climb to the top of the cliff, where there would be a good vantage point from where to see the whole of the plantation, or sneak down through the shrubbery and into the plantation itself."

"Aye, the cave would be helpful." Emma nodded.

"How's my Granny gonna climb that rope sir?" Ruby said. "Perhaps she should stay on board-"

"Like hell I will." Granny came up behind her, her crossbow rested on her shoulder. "I'll make the climb one way or another."

"If you'll allow, madam, I can help you." Agwe offered. Granny nodded to him.

"Sounds like a plan son." She said. "So the cave it is then."

"Aye." Ruby and Emma said in unison, Ruby with a sigh of exasperation.

"No one guards the cave, so we will not be seen leaving it. But we must be careful as we step through the jungle. Some men use it instead of a privy you see." Agwe explained.

"Classy." Regina rolled her eyes.

"They also bury unruly slaves that they have killed there." He continued, his jaw clenching. Emma sighed.

"Right." She said. "How high are the cliffs?"

"About ten fathoms, not very high." Agwe said. "I do believe the madam's crossbow would be able to hit a few guard from there."

"Finally. I haven't shot this thing in years." Granny smirked, inspecting her weapon to make sure it was properly maintained.

"How long will you take to reload it?" Emma asked.

"A minute if the rigging sticks." Granny said. "But I oiled it before we left, it should be fine."

"Good. Make every shot count." Emma nodded.

"I always do, captain." She said with a smirk, aiming her crossbow towards the rope that was hanging off the main-top of the ship. She pulled the trigger, releasing the bolt that zipped through the air and hit the rope, piercing it and bolting it to the mast. Regina's eyebrows lifted and Belle's mouth hung open in awe.

"How did you do that?" Regina asked.

"Years of experience." Granny answered.

"Wonderful." Emma said. "If you could put that experience to good use, instead of breaking my ropes and damaging the woodwork of my ship, I'd be very appreciative."

"Yeah yeah, pull that ramrod out of your ass." Granny grumbled as she walked away as Ruby laughed. Emma rolled her eyes and slapped the first mate's hat off her head.


"I see where you get it from." The captain said. "Go get that bolt out of my mast."

"How the fuck am I gonna climb up there?" Ruby complained.

"I'm sure you'll find some way." Emma went back to her map as Ruby groaned and trudged away.

Chapter Text

It was time, or almost time at least. The sky was dark, and Emma had just ordered the lanterns be turned off. The island was less than a handful of nautical miles away, the wind had picked up as night wore on and their speed meant that they'd be there in less than an hour. Regina's nerves grew more and more with each passing one.

She couldn't sit still, as Emma had discovered when she was sitting behind her and wouldn't stop tapping her feet and the captain came a second too close to threatening that she'd lose her foot if she tapped it one more time. She'd asked her to help the men prepare the cannons just in case they're spotted instead.

That managed to kill the time between then and now, when they were preparing the boat.

"Sword?" Emma asked.

"Here." Regina gripped the hilt for a moment.

"Pistol?" Emma asked. Regina went to put her hand on it where it sat in the holster on her hip, but suddenly Emma snatched it instead and pointed it at Regina's head.

"Woah-Emma!" she said, taking a step back.

"No hip holsters, that's how you reveal that fact that you've got a pistol." Emma said, lowering the gun. "Did I not tell you this?"

"You didn't." Regina said, snatching the pistol back from Emma. "And you can tell me things without being threatening, captain."

"Sorry lass, only trying to make a point." Emma smirked at her. She looked over at Belle who was coming up from below deck. "Come with me you two."

"Hmm?" Belle hummed towards Regina curiously. The older brunette shrugged, as unaware of Emma's goal as Belle was, and followed Emma to her quarters. Emma pulled the same chest she brought Regina's coat from out from under the bed and found two black handkerchiefs and two leather straps that seemed to form some type of harness. Regina raised a brow as Emma stood up and handed one of each to each girl.

"Put these on." She said.

"What are they?" Belle asked as she took them. Regina lifted the harness and turned it around in her hands with a confused look on her face and Emma rolled her eyes and took it from her gently.

"Like this lass." She said, lifting it over her head and letting one side of the harness fall behind her back as the longer bit of the strap came to rest on her shoulder. Emma tightened the belt of it around Regina's waist and poked a distended loop in the middle of the longer strap. "Holster your pistol here instead, and wear your coat over it. No one will see your pistol and it'll be within easy reach should you need it. Keep it cocked and ready to shoot. The element of surprise and speed is everything in a heist."

"Very clever, captain." Regina smirked at her, Emma's eyes linked with Regina's and the blonde realized how close their faces were and stepped back.

"Uh, thank you lass." She cleared her throat. "The cloths cover your faces."

"Why do we need to do that?" Belle asked.

"Because lass, we don't know who we're dealing with." Emma said. "These privateers are in Cora's employ, they work with the navy your father works closely with, not to mention some kind of nobility that facilitates their movements and maintains them. We don't know if anyone on that island's ever had the opportunity to see either of your faces, and we don't want your position and status increasing your risk of danger."

"Instead they make us look like bloodthirsty rapscallions with a hunger only gold can sate." Regina wiggled her brows at Belle who giggled.

"How exciting." Belle said, folding the square in two, forming a triangle and tying the two farthest corners together behind her head, effectively putting the bandanna on. Regina did the same, smiling up at the captain after she did so (even though she knew Emma couldn't see it)

"How do I look?" she asked.

"Absolutely terrifying." Emma deadpanned. "They'll shit themselves the second they see you."

"Let's hope it doesn't come to that." Regina cringed at the thought. Emma chuckled as she put the chest away.

"Captain. Belle. Regina." Ruby called, appearing at the open door.

"What is it?" Emma said.

"Agwe's spotted the cave, sir." She said, her features determined. "It's time."

Emma let out a breath and nodded, brushing past Regina as she stepped out of the room. "Come one girls. Don't forget your coats."

Belle was wearing hers already, and Regina moved to grab the ornate one that Emma had given her earlier, pulling it on as she walked out of the room.

"Do you have bullets and powder?" the captain turned to each of them.

"Yes captain." Belle nodded. Emma nodded back to her before eyeing Regina, who nodded to confirm that she was loaded too.

"As I said, stick close by Ruby and myself." She instructed. "Heads low, eyes open, mouths shut."

"Yes captain." The girls said in unison. Granny stepped up to the blonde and Emma turned to her.

"And you, you old bird." Emma said, pointing a finger right at her. "You've been the closest thing I've had to a mother since I met you. If you die today I'll never forgive you. You watch your head and shoot straight, got that?"

"Aye aye." Granny deadpanned and smirked at her. "Now get your ass on that boat captain, we're running out of nighttime."

"Come on lads." Emma said, stepping up to the boat that was suspended by two ropes and hanging by the gap in the banisters where the plank would have been laid out when they were docked. Emma stepped over the side of the boat and climbed into it with no problems. Ruby did so as well and Regina and Belle approached the boat. Regina tried climbing in first, and she did so successfully, at least putting the first foot in. But when she tried to pull the other one in as well, her foot got caught on the side, and she nearly fell face first into the boat, but Emma lurched forward and broke her fall, the captain's arms wrapping around her back and her face falling precisely in between her breasts. She felt a laugh vibrate against her face from Emma, and heard Ruby's as the quartermaster held Belle's hand as she climbed in.

"You alright lass?" Emma asked.

"Just peachy captain." She said.

"Aye, I bet you are with yer face right there lass." Ruby teased with a laugh, getting a light slap on her arm from Belle for tormenting her friend.

"If you don't mind I'd like to die of embarrassment now." Regina's words were muffled against Emma's chest.

"There'll be no dying tonight love." Emma said, pulling Regina up and making sure she was standing steadily before letting her go. "Sit down before we drop, don't want to have to pull you out of the freezing sea again."

"I'd hate to put you through that again." Regina teased.

"Or would you hate a repeat of what happened after it?" Emma winked at her before she turned towards the men on the ship. "Careful with those guns men."

Regina took a second longer than perhaps necessary to pull out of her daze from Emma's words and realise that the men were loading muskets on to the boat - at least one for each man. She stepped carefully on the boat towards Belle, who was sitting on one of the benches towards the middle of the vessel, and sat next to her.

"Are you alright?" Belle asked, noticing the expression on Regina's face.

"It's fine…" Regina said, looking over at the captain as she helped the men load the boat and carefully place the muskets before the men started filling the boat. They loaded a coil of rope with a metal grapple tied to the end of it. They paced it on the back of the boat, and then the men started climbing in. First Granny climbed in, fussed over by Ruby and Emma until she was on the boat and sitting down. Then Jack and Agwe joined them. When Emma had proposed the plan and the number of people to join them, Regina wondered how they'd fit on a small rowing boat. But the whaleboat was much longer and could accommodate more people than Regina thought it could.

"Murray and Johnson, take the back oars, Louis and Fraser the front." Emma said.

"Aye sir." The men nodded, taking their positions properly. The men all sat down, Emma and Ruby across from them and Granny behind Ruby beside Agwe, with Jack behind Regina, facing the captain.

"Alright boys, put us down gently. If any of you tip this boat over I'll fucking drown you." Emma called to the men of the ship.

"Aye sir." Two men near the ropes nodded and then a significant number of men helped lower them gently. Regina held onto the side of the boat with one hand and the bench underneath her with the other, but her fear was unnecessary as they were gently lowered onto the surface of the water.

"Row men." Emma ordered, giving them the direction towards the opening of the cave a few feet up the side of the cliff. The oars started to move up and down through the water, forcing the boat into the direction of the cliff. There wasn't any great distance, so it didn't take them too long to cross the space between the ship and the cliff. The men were careful to stop the boat right under the cave.

"Good to see you again, old friend." Agwe said up towards the cliff. "I hope you'll bless us again this night."

"Is he talking to the cave?" Regina muttered.

"It's a cultural thing I believe." Belle said. "Conversing with nature as if it were a person because it lives and breathes as if it were one, and if you respect as such, it will be kind to you."

Agwe turned and nodded to Emma. "Throw the rope."

Emma nodded to him, before gesturing to one of the men, who took the grapple and spun it in the air multiple times to pick up momentum and then threw it. But the rope didn't manage to go up high enough, and fell back down scraping the side of the cliff.

"Try again, don't miss this time." Ruby said.

"Give it here." Granny said. Ruby raised a brow at her but the man didn't question the old woman, handing her the grappling hook. She picked up her crossbow and removed the loaded bolt, pushing the back of the grappling hook into it's place - a perfect fit.

"You can make that shot?" Emma asked.

"Maybe if you stop yappin' and let me focus, I can." Granny said before she lifted the crossbow and aimed carefully. The tension built up on the boat until you could have cut through the air with a knife. Granny pulled the trigger, and the rope shot up so fast, Regina nearly got whiplash trying to follow the grappling hook on it's journey through the air. It narrowly missed the edge of the cave and then dropped into it.

"Let's hope it sticks." Granny said. Emma nodded, tugging the rope gently until it caught on something and Emma tugged as hard as she could twice to make sure it was in place.

"Alright men. Take a musket, strap it to your back and climb up." She instructed. The men nodded, moving to take their guns and preparing themselves for the climb.

"How shall we do this sailor?" Granny asked Agwe. The man nodded and handed her his musket.

"If you would be so kind as to carry this for me, I will carry you on my back and climb." He explained.

"I'm no scrawny gal, you sure you can handle that?" she asked. Agwe nodded.

"It was customary in my home for the women to be of approximately your size, madam, if I could carry my wife from the church to our home, I can do this." He nodded.

"Nice strong men where you're from?" she asked.

"You would be a wonder to them all, madam." Agwe smiled at her.

"Hmm, might have to go there sometime." She smirked at him.

"Granny." Ruby growled. "Just take the fuckin' gun so we can get on with it."

The older woman rolled her eyes and took Agwe's musket, strapping it to her back along with her crossbow. The taller man crouched down and Granny grabbed on as best she could.

"Careful with her." Ruby said.

"I'll protect her with my life, sir." Agwe said before he slowly began to climb the rope. It took all the man's strength, and there were a few moments that Regina felt Granny came too close to falling for anyone's comfort. But a minute later, everyone took a deep breath as Agwe hauled himself and Granny over the edge and into the cave. Agwe looked down to signal that they were alright and for the rest of the men to climb.

"Alright, up you get." Emma instructed as the men began climbing the rope. Some found it easier than others, and it took a while considering the amount of men they had. But eventually Emma was sending Belle to go up before her, and Ruby was watching carefully from above.

"You go before me." Regina said. "I'm nervous."

Emma looked at her and rolled her eyes with a smirk. "If Belle can do it you can."

"And I will…after you." Regina smirked up at her nervously.

"Alright, have it your way." Emma teased before she turned to the rope and looked up in time to see Belle being pulled up over the edge. She tugged on the rope to get a good grip on it and then put her foot against the side of the cliff, pulling her upper body up with her hands and the rope and using her feet to "walk" along the cliff face. It was a different way to how the other men had climbed, at least from what Regina saw. Truth be told, she was more fascinated by the ever present crease in between Emma's brows at the time.

A crinkle of the brow, means a worry on the mind.

Was Emma worried about the mission? Surely, any reasonable person would be. After all Emma herself stated that these privateers were long time enemies of hers…perhaps they knew who she was from her past?

Regardless, she spent enough time staring at Emma to have completely missed watching the other men climbing the rope - so Emma was her only reference to how she had to do it. Climbing down her bed sheet to escape her room was one thing - the fall is so much easier than the climb.

So she watched Emma intently, noting every last detail - how she held the rope, where she placed her boot on the cliff, the angle of the bend in her knee, and how much strength she was putting on her legs (or an approximation of it at least.) It didn't make the fear of the climb diminish in any way, but having a method made the idea of doing it so much better than going into it blindly.

Eventually, that bright red coat disappeared over the edge of the cave opening as Emma climbed into it. Regina gulped as Emma looked over the edge and signaled for her to start climbing.

She took a deep breath, stepping up to rope and tugging it as Emma had. It felt solid enough. She reached up to grab the rope from a higher point and placed her boot on the side of the cliff. She was fully hoping to have time to steady herself before she put her other leg up, but the boat started moving backwards - pushed away by the force she placed against it when she lifted her first leg, so her options were dangle helplessly with one leg up against the cliff or act fast and lift her second leg up - she went with the latter.

Thankfully she was stronger than she gave herself credit for - perhaps it was all the horse riding - and it didn't take her long to gather a proper footing even without anything to catch her should she fall, save the cold sea water which she wished so deeply to avoid ever again. She took a deep breath and looked up at Emma who watched her carefully. She took comfort in her gaze, smiling into the bandanna covering her face before she quickly patted her hat down tighter on her head and grabbed hold of the rope again to begin climbing. Her weight being pulled down by gravity didn't make the ordeal easy in any way - but she admitted to herself that she did overestimate how difficult it would be.

"That's it love." She heard Emma's whisper - wondering for a moment if Emma had meant for anyone to hear her or if it was just an inward thought that escaped her lips. "Nice and easy."

She was encouraged by the captain's words as she pulled up the rope. Her arms grew tired, but more than halfway through was no time to give up and have a rest. Before she knew it, she saw a hand come up at her eye level.

"Gimme your hand love." Emma said.

"I'm fine." Regina said, pulling herself up again once. "I think I've got-"

"Cap'n the rope!" a voice was heard as Regina lifted her hand to grab the edge of the cliff - just far enough to brush her fingers against the cave floor. It happened all too fast. Emma looked back at the rope and then towards here again, just in time to see the life drain out of Regina's eyes as the rope lost it's hold in her hand.

"Emma!" she yelped.

"Regina!" the captain called as she made a grab for the princess' arm. Regina's fingers brushed against her forearm as Regina began to fall. But suddenly Regina felt the bruise-inducing grip of the captain's hand wrapping itself around her wrist and stopping her fall in its' tracks. The breath she'd sucked into her lungs in both shock and the expectation of falling underwater again left her lungs as dramatically as it entered them. She heard Emma sigh in identical relief.

"I got you lass." Emma said, reaching down with her other hand and grabbing her other hand, which had let go of the rope before Regina reached up to give it to her. Once hands clasped tightly around wrists, Emma hauled Regina upwards and over the edge of the cliff. Regina pushed over the edge with her foot once she reached it, and launching herself into Emma and knocking them both to the ground as a consequence, but the captain didn't mind, her arms wrapping tightly around the princess once they were close enough to do so. And audience be damned, she held her there for a moment in her relief.

"You alright?" Emma asked.

"I feel I can't ever be the opposite with you here…you always seem to save me just in time." Regina said in a low whisper.

"I do…" Emma said before a chuckle. "It's getting fucking annoying too."

"And here, I thought you just enjoyed being chivalrous." Regina laughed.

"Ahem." Granny's voice from the very back echoed through the cave. Regina thanked the gods for her bandanna, and Emma thanked them for the dark, because their faces were bright red when they looked towards her. "If you two are done with your wedding vows, I'd like to get this over and done with. I'm not gettin' any younger and I'll be damned if I shrivel up and die on this god-forsaken island because you two are making love-eyes at each other."

"I don't make eyes." Emma grumbled under her breath as she stood up and walked further into the cave. Regina got up as well, brushing herself off.

"Are you alright?" Belle asked.

"Fine." Regina said, smiling under her bandanna. "Thanks to a certain captain."

"Indeed…isn't this the second time she's saved you?" Belle said, a teasing glint in her eyes.

"All part of the adventure." Regina said, tossing her long braid off her shoulder haughtily. "Come on Belle, we have a mission to get on with."

Belle rolled her eyes and followed her best friend as she moved to catch up with the captain and Ruby - who were following Agwe as he lead them through the cave.

"When we get to the exit, Ruby, you and Granny go up on that cliff and see if you can use that scope to take out some guards, the closer to the forest the better so that we can sneak in cleanly." Emma instructed. "Soak a piece of cloth in rum and make a torch, wave it to signal when the coast is clear."

"Yes sir." Ruby nodded, fidgeting in the satchel attached to her belt to find her scope.

"The rest of the men, spread out, I want us to sneak in at random points around the plantation - don't go getting your asses caught, but the element of surprise will be ours if they can't see us all at once." Emma went on. The men muttered and mumbled their agreements.

"What if someone does see us sir?" Murray asked.

"Kill him where he stands." Emma said. "No mercy men - remember what these dogs have taken from us."

"Aye." Jack said from directly behind her. "I find out one of you has let one of these bastards breathe any more air than he has to, I'll kill you myself."

"And I'll let him." Emma said. "Don't shoot your guns unless you have no other choice - I'm talking life or death boys. That bullet has to be the only things standing between you and the locker for you to shoot it, otherwise you'll tip them all off and our plan will be done for…and likely so will we."

"Am I to go with Ruby, sir?" Belle asked.

"No, stick with Regina." Emma said. "You two know each other in a fight better than anyone else by now, I'd rather have you two together. I can't have eyes everywhere."

"Captain-" Ruby said.

"Don't worry." Emma nodded to her, knowing what she was thinking. "They'll stick close to me, but they have each other in case I should…in case something should happen."

"I pray it doesn't come to that sir." Ruby said. Emma gave her a nod.

"I do as well."

"We're here, sir." Agwe said, stepping forward and moving some rather large leaves aside, revealing the lush jungle around the plantation that could be see in the distance. "There it is."

"Alright men. To your positions. Gods guide us." Emma said.

"Aye." They all whispered together, moving as one unit to spread out through the jungle, Ruby leading Granny out of the cave and up a slope as they climbed the cliff. Emma looked around to see where all her men had scattered around the jungle, or as best as she could anyway, before she stepped forward, signalling to the girls to follow her. She crouched down, unsheathing her sword to have it prepared. Regina followed closely, Belle just a step behind, and crouched down beside her.

"Can you see anything?" Emma asked in a low whisper. Regina squinted her eyes and saw shadows and figures holding and standing near torches at a distance. It wasn't too far that she couldn't see properly, but the dark and the distance, however slight, made it a challenge.

"Yes." Regina said. "Are those the guards?"

"Near the torches, yes." Emma nodded.

"I see shadows among the cane." Belle said.

"Those would be the slaves." Emma said. "They work day and night, and are seldom allowed to stop."

"Not for much longer." Regina said.

"Aye, love but in due time." Emma said, looking over her shoulder. "We should be making progress any second."

"What do you mean?" Belle asked. Suddenly, the man closest to then and the jungle dropped down, the torch in his hand falling into a puddle and going out, leaving nothing but a billow of smoke in its wake.

"What was that?" Regina asked. Emma grinned.

"An old bird with eyes of a hawk." She said.

"Granny." Belle smirked. A moment later, another man went down, and then a few more over the next few minutes. Enough to clear the path Emma intended for them to take.

"Move, slowly now." Emma said as she began to step through the grass and bushes. As they approached, more men were shot down, until all the men who were currently on guard duty had been taken out. Emma looked up and back towards the cliff, seeing a figure in the distance wave a lit torch.

"That's our signal, Jack, Agwe, move." Emma said to the two man a few meters away on each side. The five of them stepped through the grass and jungle into the plantation, finding the slaves and cutting them free.

"Captain swan!" one man recognized Emma as she cut the long rope that they used to anchor the slaves.

"Hush, quickly now." She said to him. "Do you know the cave in the cliff?"

"Aye sir." He nodded. "Saw it once."

"Go through it, careful now, and wave this." She pulled a bright red scarf from her satchel and handed it to him. "My ship is waiting to dock, they'll know to do so when they see you."

"Yes sir!" he said, taking the scarf from her hand. "Gods bless you sir!"

He ran off too quickly for her to respond, excited by the thought of freedom.

"The slaves have been freed sir." Agwe said.

"Good." Emma nodded. "Lead them to the docks. Have them wait there for the ship."

"Aye sir." He nodded, disappearing through the cane trees, the sounds of a small crowd of men and women following him. Emma lead them through the cane out into the open paths of the plantation.

"Sir!" a man called over, running up to her, holding something to her as he did. "I found this sir! It's the keys to the store house and the main house sir!"

"Ah brilliant." Emma grinned as she took them in her hands. "We'll steal them blind!"

"Not without me you won't." Ruby came up to her, Granny on her tail.

"There you are." Emma said. "Good shooting up there Granny."

"Thank you captain." Granny nodded. "If you don't mind, I'll head to the ship, my bad back can't really help you much with hauling."

"Go, Agwe's on his way with the freed slaves." Emma nodded. Granny tipped her hat and made her way past them and to the ship.

"Good, now we can get back to it." Ruby said. Emma fiddled with the keys on her hand before throwing one to Ruby, who caught it easily.

"Here, go to the house…take five men. Kill anyone who's in there." Emma ordered.

"Sir, if I may." Jack spoke up.

"Aye, go with her." Emma nodded. "I'll take the rest of the men and haul the store."

Ruby nodded and looked at Belle, who looked at her nervously. "Go with the captain lass, I'll wager you want to avoid the bloodshed."

"If I can." Belle nodded.

"Go with Emma and Regina." Ruby said, approaching her and gently placing a hand on her shoulder. "I promise I'll make it quick for them alright?"

Belle nodded once. She didn't know why Ruby was promising her something she didn't owe her at all, but she was glad for it.

"Alright, move, the less time we spend on this island the better." Emma said. "Come on girls."

"Be careful." Belle said to Ruby before she followed Emma off in the direction of the warehouse. Ruby couldn't help but smile at herself and the way her heart fluttered.

"Fuck's sake." She whispered to herself before she moved, Jack on her tail and collected five men before making her way towards the house.

On the other side of the plantation, Emma unlocked the warehouse and walked in, taking a look at what was in store.

"Mostly sugar, sir." A man said.

"That's fine." Emma said. "Take everything that isn't bolted down."

The men began moving, carrying crates and sacks and barrels out of the warehouse and to the ship. It was clearly going to take them a while to clear it all out. Halfway through, Ruby showed up, with Jack on her tail and a look of victory on their faces.

"Dead." Jack said. "The whole lot of them."

Emma let out a deep sigh. "I've wanted to hear those words for ages."

"The house was full of riches too, captain." Ruby said. "Might as well haul that as well."

"What kind?" Emma asked.

"Gold, silver, looked to be jewellery there too, and they have a whole library's worth of books." Jack said. "Rich bastards lived like kings off others' work."

"Well now they've died like dogs." Emma said. She looked over at Regina and Belle, the latter with a curious glint in her eye at the mention of books. The captain looked down and found an empty sack, probably waiting to be filled, and handed it over to them with a smirk.

"Here girls." She said. "Go to the house, gather all the riches you desire - it's all yours."

"Really?" Belle asked.

"As many books as you can carry lass." Ruby smirked. Belle looked at Regina hopefully and the brunette rolled her eyes with a smirk.

"Well it's rude to refuse a gift - as dishonest in its acquisition as it was." She said, taking the sack from Emma. "Thank you Captain."

"Get yourself something nice." Emma winked at her as she turned to lead Belle to the house.

"They'll be alright, you think?" Jack said.

"Aye, they'll be fine. Help us with this haul and we'll be off." Emma said, picking up a crate and handing it to him.

Over at the house, Regina gently pushed the door which Ruby had left unlocked open, peering into the house before she stepped inside, Belle following suit. The room was dimly lit, with a few candles here and there still lit which allowed the girls to see much better than the pitch darkness outside (save the few torches that were lit here and there around the plantation.)

"Let's not be long." Regina said.

"Do you think…" Belle gulped silently and looked over at her best friend, who raised a brow at her. "…They're still here aren't they? The men Ruby and Jack just killed."

"Just…" Regina sighed as Belle looked around the main room. "Just don't go upstairs or into any bedrooms. Besides, it's not an incredibly large sack so I think we won't have the space to do so either way."

"How much are you planning on taking?" Belle asked. Regina smirked at her.

"Oh me? Not much…you however…" the princess trailed off as she picked up a candelabra, lifting up beside her near the impressively large bookcases filled with books.

"Oh…my…gods." Belle said slowly as she looked at it. "Regina…look at all of them!"

"Yes darling, they're beautiful." Regina deadpanned, holding out the sack to Belle. "Start filling, I'll look around to see if there's anything else worth taking. If there's any gold I'd like to give it to Emma."

"Mmhm." Belle hummed as she began sifting through books, looking at the titles on the leather binding before placing them in the sack.

"I think she'd like it, it could help having the extra gold." Regina said, looking at the surfaces of the furniture, picking up a necklace from a jewellery box and pocketing it.

"Mmmhm." Belle hummed again.

"Are you listening to me?" Regina asked.


"I doubt that."


"I wonder if I have time to go split one of the bodies open and study the innards, I've always wondered what a human looks like on the inside." Regina said, a smirk on her face.

"Mmhm-Wait, what?" Belle turned and looked at her with wide eyes. Regina scoffed a laugh.

"That's what you get for not listening to me." She stuck her tongue out at the younger girl before she turned to the writing desk in the room and opened the drawers, looking through it. "Men hardly keep anything pretty do they?"

"Speak for yourself, these books are beautiful." Belle said.

"Oh I'm sure." Regina rolled her eyes. "Try not to sink Emma's ship by trying to shift an entire library across the ocean."

"Ha-ha." Belle rolled her eyes before she gasped. "Regina!"

"What?" Regina said, dropping a small coin purse she was about to pocket, forgetting that there wasn't any risk of her being caught stealing. She looked up and saw Belle holding up a book, rolled her eyes, and picked up the purse again, pocketing it as she spoke. "Oh Belle, just take the book, you can get excited about it later."

"No, come here!" Belle said. "It's an updated history book!"

"What?" Regina looked up again and stepped over to her, looking at the book Belle was handing her. She flipped through a few pages and took a look. "My gods, you're right! We found it!"

"Put it in the sack. I don't think Emma would be happy to see you with it but Ruby, bless her, hasn't learned how to read enough to be able to tell what the book's about. I can hide it in her bookcase with the rest and they'll be none the wiser - not until we're ready to talk to them about it anyway." Belle suggested. Regina sighed for a moment and nodded.

"This feels wrong, using their weaknesses like that against them." She said as she dropped the book into the sack. Belle nodded, turning back to the bookcase.

"I know, hopefully we'll be able to explain everything to them without it turning sour between the four of us." She said.

"I just don't know how I'd even begin to explain this to her." Regina said, sighing and resting her back against the bookshelf.

"To them but then again yes, you would only think of Emma in this situation." Belle smirked. Regina rolled her eyes and let hear head fall back against the bookshelf with a thump. The next thing she knew, a small weight thumped her on the head and slid off her face before landing on the floor.

"Ow what the f-" Regina exclaimed, cupping her head. Belle tried to suppress a laugh as she crouched down and picked it up.

"Serves you right for hitting the books." She teased.

"Oh ha-ha." Regina said, snatching the book from Belle's hands. "And what is the fiend that hit me about anyway?"

She flipped the book over in her hands, looking for a gold title embossed into the leather, but found nothing of the sort. She opened the front cover and raised a brow.

"The History of the Celestial Isles?" Regina read out loud.

"What?" Belle said, stepping over to her.

"It looks handwritten…like someone was planning on publishing it, but never managed to." Regina said, handing it over to Belle, who opened it and began flipping through the pages.

"Regina…" Belle said. "This…this has a full record of the war!"

"What?" Regina said, stepping up beside Belle and looking into the book. "By the gods, you're right."

"Do you know what this means?" Belle said.

"It means…It means we can know the truth." Regina said. Suddenly, she heard yelling outside and her eyes went wide. "Quickly put it away!"

Belle tossed it into the sack as Regina rushed over to the window to try and see what was going on. There was more shouting and yelling and it sounded like a fight.

"I don't understand, I thought the privateers were all dead." Belle said.

"I suppose not." Regina said, unsheathing her sword. "Stay here, I'll try to see what's going on."

"Be careful!" Belle said. "Maybe I should-"

"No." Regina turned back to look at her. "One person is harder to see than two and I don't want to risk you getting hurt."

"And you'll take that same risk then?" Belle said. "What if I don't want you to take that risk."

"Fine. I order you to stay here." Regina levelled her with a stern look. "I'm still your princess."

"You're a pain in the arse is what you are." Belle rolled her eyes. "Don't get hurt."

"I won't." Regina rolled her eyes and moved towards the door, unlatching the door and gently opening it, sneaking out, keeping her sword up and at the ready as she did so.

"Captain!" a man called and approached her as Emma handed a crate to another crew mate.

"What is it?" she asked.

"Come quick sir…Jack's found his ship at the dock and…and Sally." He said, taking the bandanna wrapped around his head off. "Or well…her body, sir."

"Shit." Emma sighed under her breath, speeding up to run the distance between the warehouse and the dock, climbing onto the ship and stopping her tracks as she saw Jack, kneeling over a body, his back shaking as he sobbed into his hand. Emma pulled her hat off and stepped up beside him, going down on one knee as she saw the body of a woman she'd come to know as a friend. She was as white as a sheet, not a drop of colour on her save for the dried blood from where the bullet pierced her chest.

"We'll take her home." Emma said, placing a gentle hand on Jack's shoulder. "Give her a proper burial where she belongs."

The sobbing man nodded and a man approached her.

"Pardon my askin' sir…but how would we go about that?" he asked. Emma sighed.

"Cut a sheet from the cloth we keep for the sails." She said. "We'll wrap her up in it as best we can, and find the biggest chest we have on board - empty it out if it's full I don't care. We'll not have her lying around like a rag doll."

"Aye sir." The man nodded. "Right away."

"It's the best I can do Jack." Emma said apologetically.

"Aye…aye." He nodded. "It's alright Captain…thank you…Any other sea dog would toss 'er into the sea and be done with it."

"Come…let's let the men take care of her hmm?" she suggested.

"Aye." He nodded, leaning forward and pressing a soft kiss the his dead wife's body. "Let 'er rest."

Emma nodded, standing up and giving him the time he needed to do so as well, leading him off the ship.

"I'd like to take me ship back so…" Jack said. "She can sail with me…one last time."

"Aye, and your crew is yours." Emma said. "We'll make sure they're healthy and fed and they'll sail with you - you can have a few of the new men too."

"Thank you, Swan." Jack said. "You've done me a kindness coming here, helping me. I don't think I'll ever be able to repay you."

Emma shook her head. "I had a debt to you as well I believe."

"That was my duty." He said. "No debt is owed to a man carrying out his duty to his crown and his cause."

Emma gave him a small smirk. "You've gotten a lot sappier since the day we met, mate." She teased. He gave her a small smile and nodded.

"I fell in love since then." He sniffled. "You have too, from what I can see."

"Don't make a fuss." Emma sighed. "I've yet to tell her…I doubt I ever will."

"Why not?" Jack asked. Emma shrugged.

"I just…don't think it's worth it. She's worth the world's weight in gold and diamonds of course…but I don't think we can be together. And I don't wanna cause either of us any unnecessary pain." Emma shrugged. "That's life I suppose."

"You know, I thought the same thing when I met Sally…I think I fell in love with 'er the second I looked at 'er eyes…but 'er father hated me. I courted her of course but at first it was behind his back, and then he told me to never lay an eye on 'er again…and then, bless him, the old git gave me permission to marry 'er." Jack recounted. "Point is, cap'n, you never know what the fates have planned for ye…sometimes all you can do is leap…and pick a flower off the side of the road and hand it to the lovely lass with the gorgeous eyes and hope that she don't laugh and throw it in yer face."

"That's a sweet story, Jack." Emma nodded. "It's doing shit to encourage me though."

Jack laughed and shook his head. "Just take the fuckin' leap, lass, I'd wager the pain would be worth it."

"I'd wager it would." Emma sighed, looking towards the house and then nodding her head towards the warehouse. "The men should be finished with the crates but let's make sure they didn't get themselves drunk on that barrel of rum hmm?"

Jack nodded, and they walked in silence, the both of their minds taken up with thoughts and worries and wonders of what's in store for them after they get back home. They had just reached a bend just before the warehouse when Emma saw a dark figure on the ground, illuminated by the nearby torch that was tied to a fence.

"What in hell?" she said, approaching slowly. "Murray? Murray! You drunk bastard, get up!"

The man groaned as Emma approached him. Jack crouched down and inspected him.

"He's not drunk, sir…he's been whacked on the head." He said.

"By who?" Emma said, her hand going to her sword as she heard a twig snapping in the bushes. "Fuck…an ambush."

Suddenly, a small crowd of men - not more than ten - came out at them, headed by a big lug with an axe. They surrounded them and Emma and Jack stood back to back, swords pointed at their opponents, teeth bared threateningly.

"Well, well, well…If it ain't cap'n Swan 'erself…" the big lug approached. "'Aven't seen you in a long time."

"Aye, if I recall correctly, the last we met, I handed you both your balls in a silk handkerchief and a pretty bow." Emma taunted. The men around them snickered and scoffed.

"Oy! Shut up you bastards." He whined. "You'll pay for that Swan."

"I think you mean, you'll pay for what you've been doing for years." Emma said. "You crossed the line too many times."

"I think, cap'n, you forget which one of us holds the queen's pardon and which one of us holds a price on 'er head." He said. "A price I'll surely claim after I'm done with you."

"You'll have your work cut out for you sir." Emma said.

"You've cheated death far too long lass…I think it's time I evened the stakes." He said, prowling closer with both his hands gripping the staff of his axe tightly.

Emma was preparing for him to take a swing at her, she was more than ready to dive to the ground and roll out of the way, but instead of him swinging, what broke the tension and triggered the battle, was the sound of Ruby, Agwe, and the rest of the men they'd brought with them charging the ambushers, effectively breaking their circle as the remaining privateer crew charged back, hoping to break their formation.

Emma and the big lug were still facing off, only now he was growling at her in his frustration and he began moving. Emma moving a step back for each step forward which he made, and soon enough they were circling each other like animals in a fight. But in the next round, something caught Emma's eye, and she made the error of glancing away. Her brutish opponent took that moment to swing, and Emma's instincts dove her to the floor to roll out of the way of the axe, which cut deeply into the ground. He pulled it up again, sand and dirt flying up into the air as he did and creating a cloud around them. Emma's instincts were running wild as she stood up, and it wasn't because she was fighting a long time enemy.

Regina crept low into the bushes, stepping forward as she tried to see what was happening. The yelling was obviously from a group of men, and over in the distance, she saw the battling crews. She gulped. Emma must have been among them. Or so she thought, until she heard a grunt from much closer to her and she saw Emma facing a big brute only a few meters away.

"Just stay still, Swan." He said, smirking ruefully. "Stay still…and I promise ye won't feel yer head comin' off!"

He swung a big axe at her, and Regina had to suppress a yelp of shock. The brute vanished from her view, and Emma popped up, her coat covered in dirt and her sword held up.

"You're a bastard, Abney, and I'll dig my way to the very bowels of hell before I let myself get killed by a sack of shit like you!" she growled, lunging forward and swinging her sword. Regina shut her eyes as the sound of metal scraping against metal irritated her ears and left them ringing. She used the noise of the fight to creep forward further. She could see the fight clearly now. Emma was using all her strength to keep Abney from pushing her, axe and sword pushing against one another.

"Give up Swan! You've been on the run for twenty fucking years…you'll get old lass…you won't have that pretty blonde hair anymore." He taunted.

"Aye, I'll get old and grey and my bones will creak like the planks of an old ship…but I'll be alive long after tonight." Emma vowed.

"We'll see about that." Abney said through gritted teeth. Suddenly he lifted a leg and kicked the captain in her stomach, launching her backwards onto the ground. The sword flew out of her hand as she landed, and before she could grab it again and get up, Abney came round the side and stepped a big boot down on her chest, laughing ruefully.

"Goodbye, captain Swan." He said, lifting his axe high above his head as he aimed for her neck. She sucked a breath as deeply as she could with the boot on her chest and shut her eyes, expecting all feeling to disappear with one swing, but then…


She opened her eyes, and blood dripped down from Abney's suddenly still body. He clutched at his throat as he lost all form of strength and rolled downwards, landing in the ground and painting the sand red.

Emma's breath was shallow, her chest expanding rapidly now that it had the freedom to do so, and she looked up beside her, where Abney had been standing previously, to see Regina standing there, with her pistol up and the smoke of the residual heat still billowing out of the barrel.

"Regina." Emma sighed, turning over, and pushing herself up onto her knees and catching Regina as she fell to hers.

"You…I…He was…I had to…" Regina tried to iterate through her shock.

"Aye, lass…you saved me." Emma said, her arms snaking under the princess' and cupping her upper back, Regina's hands on her shoulders. "It's alright."

"Is…is he…?" Regina tried to look over to the body laying a few steps away, but Emma's hands moved fast and cupped both her cheeks, not allowing her to look.

"No lass…don't look at his face…It's easier if you don't look at the faces." Emma sighed. "Just…look at me…"

Regina's eyes locked with Emma's and the blonde couldn't help but smile at her softly.

"He was going to kill you…" Regina said. Emma nodded.

"I know lass." She said. "But you stopped him."

"I…I had to…I couldn't…" the princess gulped, tears brimming and stinging her eyes. "I couldn't lose you."

"Lose me…" Emma chuckled. "You're that worried about losing me?"

"Yes…you see I…" Regina gulped again, a hand slowly pulling the bandana off her face and revealing her nose and lips.

"You what, love?" Emma asked. Regina's hands gripped her shoulders tightly and before Emma knew what was happening, the princess' lips were pressed tightly to hers.

The captain inhaled deeply, waking her own lips up and putting them into motion, returning the kiss with just as much fervor as her hands moved and she cupped the back of Regina's neck to bring her closer, deepening the kiss and gently slipping her tongue past the brunette's lips. Regina, only a little surprised at the move in comparison to the last time this had happened, moaned in response and gripped Emma's coat by the lapels, pulling her as close as humanly possible.

"Oy Swan! Swan, are you alright? I heard a gunsh-" Ruby ran up to them, freezing in place when she saw them attached at the lips. Regina jumped back and looked at her and Emma sighed, looking up at her quartermaster.

"Aye, Lucas, I'm fine." Emma said, getting up on her feet and helping Regina up as well.

"Aye…I reckon you are." Ruby smirked at the two of them, Regina going bright red under the older woman's scrutiny "And you, princess?"

"I'm quite…fine." Regina said. Ruby chuckled and looked around.

"Where's Belle?" she asked.

"I told her to stay in the house, to keep her safe." Regina said. Ruby looked at her and then moved without another word, rushing towards the house with a worried look on her face. She watched the first mate's retreating figure and then looked up at Emma. "Have I done something wrong?"

"No lass, but no one was expecting an ambush and we don't know if we got all of them." Emma said. "Come on, let's go check on the crew."

Regina nodded, matching her pace with Emma's as they sped towards the rest of the crew, which they thankfully found all alive and healthy, looting the dead bodies of their privateer victims.

In the house, Belle kept looking through the bookshelves, wondering for a moment if six volumes of one series of stories were too much to add into the already quite heavy sack. She shrugged, beginning to put them in one by one when suddenly a hand came over her mouth and pulled her towards its owner. She let out a muffled scream as a knife came up to her throat.

"Enough of that…your rotten mates killed my entire crew…and if I'm to make it off alive I need a prisoner…lucky for me, I found a pretty one. Now hold still and I promise this won't hurt as much as it could." The rough voice said into her ear, her stomach lurching in fear as she tried to pull away from his putrid smelling breath. She felt the cold steel of the knife on her back, threatening to rip open her clothes, but then…


The body behind her stilled, and then fell away and she looked over to the door where Ruby stood, pulling her gun to her lips and blowing away the residual smoke.

"Ruby." She sighed in relief. "Oh thank the gods."

Ruby stepped forward and pulled her into her arms as Belle sought out the safety and comfort the older pirate provided and gave freely.

"You're alright." Ruby said. "You're safe now."

"Thank you." Belle sighed. Ruby nodded.

"No need for that, come on, we've done what we came here to do and got all we wanted, let's get back to the ship and get off this island before the sun rises." Ruby said. Belle nodded and grabbed the sack beside her. Ruby took it out of her hands and hefted it up over her shoulder. "Anyone ever tell you you're kind of obsessed with books?"

"All the time." Belle shrugged with a smile on her lips. "Only I don't really listen because I'm too busy reading."

Ruby laughed as she lead the brunette out of the house and towards the ship. She explained as best she could what had happened before Belle actually saw all the dead privateers on the path towards the ship. As they were walking, Belle's boot caught something and she looked, reaching down and picking up the long chain and pendant that hung from it.

"Ruby…" she said. Ruby was about to look back when they heard a shout.

"Come on, Ruby, let's go!" Emma called.

"Coming sir!" Ruby called, picking up her pace to a run. "Come on Belle."

Belle pocketed the object and followed suit. It would have to wait till they were on the ship. The second the youngest brunette saw her best friend, she ran over to her, and Regina easily caught her in a hug.

"Are you alright? I'm so sorry I left you there I just…Emma needed help and I…" Regina began babbling. Everyone heard the gunshot from the house, and Regina hadn't stopped worrying since.

"It's alright…A man tried to take me hostage and…well…he was going to…" she sighed and physically shuddered under Regina's hands but shook her head against the princess' shoulder. "It doesn't matter. Ruby shot him and saved me."

"Thanks the gods." Regina squeezed her a little before letting her go. "I…I shot a man."

"What?" Belle's eyes went wide. Regina looked down in guilt.

"He was going to kill Emma." She said quietly. Belle cupped her cheeks to make her look up at her and nodded, pulling her into another tight embrace.

"I would have done the same thing for Ruby…or you." She said.

"We did it boys!" Ruby hollared from the upper deck. The men all cheered and raised their fists in the air.

"Aye, we did." Emma said. "Well done everyone…I thank the gods you're all in one piece."

"Mostly anyway." Murray groaned and rubbed his head.

"Let's be off then. Jack and his men and the rest of the crew will follow us on his ship." Emma said, climbing up the stairs to the helm. "Full sail boys! Anchor up! Let's go!"

They had been sailing for about two hours so far, Regina was sitting at the end of the bed in Emma's quarters, nursing a long cut on her hand she'd gotten when her arms scraped against the cliff when she nearly fell with a salve that Granny had given her. But it burnt like hell fire the second it touched it, and Regina wasn't tolerating the pain well. She was about to give up and just wrap her arm up without any salve when the door opened slowly.

"What are you up to, love?" Emma asked, Regina sighed as she dropped her arm to show Emma the cut and the captain's blonde brows lifted in concern. "What happened?"

"It was when I nearly fell." Regina said. "Must have scraped it against a sharp bit of the edge…I'm trying to put Granny's salve on it but it burns like hell."

"Hmm…Granny's salve is meant to soothe…let me have a look at that." Emma stepped forward and crouched down in front of the princess, her hands coming up to Regina's arm as one gently cupped her elbow and the other hovered over the wound. Emma's brow furrowed in concentration, a frown forming on her lips as she inspected the slightly swollen and red skin around the cut. She looked up at Regina for a moment before she gently used to fingers to press gently on the skin around the cut. Regina grimaced at the slight pain.

"It hurts?" Emma asked. The princess nodded. "I know what to do but…it will burn. At least for a bit, but if you let me do it then Granny's salve will soothe the burning and the pain and it'll heal up nicely."

"If you're sure it will work then do it…whatever it is." Regina said. Emma nodded, moving her hands to pick up the bandage Regina had ready and ripping a piece of it off. She rolled it up into a ball and pulled out her flask from its holster in her belt and opened it, pouring the rum out onto the balled up bandage in her arm. "What are you doing?"

"It's something Granny learned." Emma explained. "The alcohol I guess cleans up the wound much better than regular water or sea water."

"It's nice to see that rum serves a proper purpose, besides allowing Ruby to make an ass of herself." Regina joked. Emma smirked.

"Yeah, only one downside." She said.

"What would that be?" Regina asked. Instead of answering, Emma lifted her arm up a little and placed the rum-soaked cloth directly onto the wound. Regina's eyes went wide and she released a loud growl through clenched teeth. "Sweet. Fucking. Gods."

"It burns like hell itself's trying to swallow you whole." Emma said. "Sorry love."

"Ow…Ow…Ow…" Regina clenched her eyes shut and tried to breathe through the pain, tears welling up in her eyes as Emma gently dabbed the cloth over the length of the scar, staining it with blood in the process.

"I know, love, I'm sorry." Emma said softly. She made sure she cleaned the wound as best she could before she put Regina out of her misery and pulled the cloth away. She picked up the small jar of Granny's salve and pulled a healthy amount up on her two fingers. "If it's worked, this should make the burning go away."

Regina nodded and shut her eyes, allowing Emma to do what she had to do. Emma gently placed her fingers onto the cut, smoothing the salve into a thick layer over the wound. The tension in Regina's shoulders visibly disappeared and she let out a sigh of relief.

"It's working." She said, thankful that the burning had stopped.

"Good." Emma gave her a small smile, making sure the salve covered the entire wound before she picked up the bandage and gently wrapping it around Regina's arm, securing it with a knot. "There…all done."

"Thank you." Regina said almost shyly. "I'm sorry for swearing so crassly."

Emma chuckled "You're talking to a fucking pirate, love."

"I know. But that doesn't mean I should swear at you." Regina shrugged. Emma rolled her eyes, her smile unwavering as she cleaned the residual salve off her fingers by wiping them on her shirt.

"I've been on the business end of a rum-soaked cloth far too many times to count lass, I know how much it hurts." The captain said, standing up. Regina stood as well, her eyes stuck on the blonde's. "What is it?"

"I just…I can't help but think about…earlier…on the plantation." She said, her cheeks tinting pink. She looked down for a moment, suddenly nervous, and Emma smiled at her before she leaned down and kissed her on the cheek.

"I can't either." She whispered to her. "But I'd never bother you with such things."

"Such things?" Regina turned to look at her face again, which was still hovering close by. "What do you mean by that?"

Emma swallowed thickly. "I doubt you care about what's on an old pirate's mind."

"Considering that I just kissed that old pirate like it was my wedding day? I care immensely, captain." The princess smiled at her. "And for the record, I don't think you're old."

"Noted." Emma chuckled. "What's on your mind then? About the kiss?"

"Well…the predominant thought is that…well it's that I would very much like to do it again." Regina blushed slightly. "And a part of me wonders…what would happen after."

"Well…I suppose one would have to experience the first step to get to the second." Emma said. Regina's brows lifted up in question as Emma leaned in, gently pressing her lips against the brunette's and awaiting a reaction. Regina kissed her back, a peck at first, and then another, and then a long press of the lips. The back of Emma's hand gently brushed against Regina's as the captain smoothly wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her closer as they deepened the kiss slowly, lips dragging across each other as they explored one another, testing, tasting, finding the perfect way to lock together. Regina's arms moved upwards, first pressed against Emma's chest, and then snaking up and around her neck as she pushed herself forward to get even closer to the blonde. A gentle hand cupped the back of her neck and then she felt the tip of an ever-curious tongue drag itself across her lower lip, as if begging for permission. A shiver of excitement ran down Regina's spine as she opened her mouth, allowing entry. She felt the tip of Emma's tongue press gently against the roof of her mouth, and then run along it, eliciting a soft moan from the princess, her lips wrapping around the smooth muscle and sucking gently.

Regina's body began to heat up, shivers running down her spine and landing right into her core, causing wanton tension to coil up in the pit of her stomach, a new feeling entirely for the young princess. It shocked her, to say the least, because while she enjoyed whatever she was feeling, she didn't fully understand it. It felt like a rush of ecstasy that one could only imagine might come from such a kiss. She'd read it described in so many different ways in story books, but they all made it sound so sophisticated and easy. To her it felt…almost primal. Like she craved something, she was unsure as to what at this particular moment, but she wanted Emma to touch her and never let go.

If Emma hadn't pulled away to catch her breath, Regina might have just let herself suffocate on her lips. The princess blinked up at her, her eyes fully blown and dark, and Emma's breath hitched at the sight.

"How do you feel about that first step then love?" the captain asked.

"Like I want to see what the second feels like…whatever that second step is." The princess said. Emma sighed softly and nodded.

"I do as well…but…" the blonde hesitated, wondering how she'd explain this to the younger girl. Regina looked into her eyes and caught sight of the internal debate going on the captain's head.

"That would entail losing my virginity, wouldn't it?" She asked. Emma nodded slow and Regina looked away for but a moment as she thought.

"We don't have to, Regina." Emma said. "There's no form of obligation in any way, and I won't be angry or hate you for it."

"I know…I trust that." The princess nodded. "Nevertheless…"

Emma's brow raised at the hesitation. "What is it love?"

"Emma…I can't see the future - I can't even pretend to - So…while it's I think beyond obvious now how I feel about you, I can't promise that we have eternity together." She began.

"I know…I feel the same…In fact I'm fearful that we almost certainly don't." She admitted. Regina smiled up at her, a hand coming forward from Emma's neck and brushing her cheek gently with the backs of her fingers.

"But we do know the present…how we feel now in this moment…and I don't know about you but there's very little you or anyone can do to make me change how I feel." She continued.

"What are you saying, love?" Emma asked.

"I'm saying…that no matter what happens in our futures I want us to have enjoyed the present…and if I'm to give my virginity to anyone in this world…I want it to be you." Regina said. Emma looked at her for a moment to make sure that she was serious about this, and swallowed thickly when she realized that, yes, she was.

"If you're sure, love, then…then alright…" Emma gave her a gentle nod to go along with her vocal agreement. "We'll take it slow huh? There's no rush after all."

"No, I don't see how there is." Regina smiled at her, her hand descending from Emma's cheek to the hand behind her neck, lacing their fingers gently together to move Emma's hand to guide her forward as she moved back on bed, leaning back on her arms and looking up at Emma, excitement and lust in her eyes and her smile. Emma leaned down and kissed her deeply again, stealing her breath away before she pulled back.

"You're sure about this?" the captain asked in a low whisper.

Regina nodded slowly "As sure as I've ever been of anything."

Belle was in the room when Ruby burst in, and in the fright she'd gotten, she slammed shut the chest she was storing her books in.

"Where is it?" the first mate muttered under her breath, stomping towards the bed and messing up the sheets in her search for gods knew what.

"Ruby?" Belle asked gently, concerned at the older woman's distress, made obvious by the way she was current lifting the mattress up and searching under it.

"Fucking sakes where is it?" Ruby said, slamming the mattress down in place.

"What are you looking for?" Belle asked. But the other brunette barely even realized she was in the room as she opened a chest and nearly dove into it as she searched.

"I didn't fuckin put it anywhere where is it?" Ruby growled through her teeth.

"Ruby, calm down." Belle placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.

"Don't fucking touch me!" Ruby snarled as she pushed Belle off. The younger girl jumped back with a start as Ruby rounded on her. But the older woman realized her mistake, the rage on her face disappearing and melting into regret. "Belle…I'm…I'm sorry I just…Ah fuck I don't know what I'm doing."

Belle chanced taking a step forward towards her again as Ruby rubbed her face in frustration. "It's alright, what's going on?"

She was almost startled to see tears forming in Ruby's now bloodshot eyes, a result of how she'd just been rubbing them trying to stop herself from crying out in frustration and grief.

"My mother's locket." The pirate said. "I can't find it and I…I think I must have lost it in the fray of the fight…If that's true it's gone forever…I've lost her for good now."

Belle shook her head as Ruby wiped a tear off her cheek, trying not to cry in front of the younger girl and failing miserably because the pain in her heart was too much to bear at that moment.

"Darling." Belle said gently, cupping Ruby's cheek. "You didn't lose it."

"What?" Ruby asked, looking up at her. Belle smiled at her gently as one hand reached into her coat pocket.

"It's true you dropped it in the fray but…" the younger brunette lifted up the locket out of her pocket by the chain, dangling it for Ruby to see. "I found it on our way to the ship. I tried to ask you if it was yours but Emma called you and you ran ahead. Now I know it must be yours because you don't have it."

Ruby's eyes had gone wide at her and she silently cupped the locket in her hand, Belle still holding on to the chain as she opened it gently to confirm that yes the scrap of paper with her mother's name scrawled on it was still firmly in place. She shut it with a soft click and let out a huge sigh of relief.

"Belle…" she said.

"I'm sorry I didn't give it to you earlier and let you worry needlessly. I got distracted what with helping the crew so we could set sail and-"

The younger girl's words were cut off by a pair of lips pressed firmly against hers. Before she knew how to react, Ruby pulled back, her eyes still wide, only now it was in worry.

"I…I'm sorry…" she began. "I shouldn't have I just…I forgot myself for a moment I'm s-mmm."

A needless apology was swallowed away by a deep kiss, Belle's arms around Ruby's neck to hold onto to her tightly, the hand that cupped the back of Ruby's head also knocked her hat off and onto the floor. Ruby sighed into the kiss and reciprocated a second later, her arms wrapping around Belle's waist as a set of teeth gently bit into her lower lip, getting her to moan softly. Belle's hips pressed against Ruby's as the pirate tried to lean into the kiss further, met with Belle trying to do the same as the temperature of the room seemed to rise. Ruby's tongue pressed against Belle's upper lip, creating a small opening for her to breach through and slip it into her mouth, eliciting a soft moan from the younger girl, who then sighed deeply into the kiss as she seemed to lose herself in it.

Alas, man was cursed with the need to breathe, and so, only a moment later, they pulled away from each other with a gasp of air to fill their lungs and wide eyes staring at each other in wonder and lust.

"I…Uhm…" Belle gulped, unsure of what to say.

"Gods, love, where did you learn to kiss like that?" Was the first question out of the ever eloquent Ruby Lucas. Belle blushed and smiled, brushing a loose strand of hair behind her ear.

"Let's just say I read some very detailed books that my father would be very furious at me for reading, which is why he doesn't know." She said with a sheepish smile. Ruby chuckled and shook her head.

"You're a little minx, you know that?" she teased. "That was some kiss…I definitely didn't expect it…in fact I expected you to slap the air out of me for kissing you without warrant…or permission."

"Truth be told?" Belle blushed again. "I've been yearning to do it for quite a bit now."

"You have?" Ruby asked. Belle nodded, her left arm reaching across her midriff and holding onto her right as she toed the floor nervously.

"I didn't expect it to happen like that mind you…The whole trip here I thought…I thought I might be the one to do the unwarranted kissing." She admitted. "It's just that…I feel something when I'm with you, when we talk…when you hold me…something I've never felt before."

"Does it feel like a fluttering in your heart?" Ruby asked. "Like the whole world could go fuck itself as long as we're together? Like heaven and earth could come crashing together and it wouldn't matter?"

"Yes." Belle sighed out. "How…how could you tell?"

"Because fucking hell, love, that's how I feel too…It's been building up rather quickly since we met…I can't deny it anymore…" Ruby sighed. "I thought I might have to because I feared you'd laugh in my face if I told you."

Belle shook her head and closed up the space between them again, kissing Ruby gently on the lips. "Never…Ruby…I'd never laugh at you."

"Well you certainly know how to flatter a girl, don't you?" Ruby teased. Belle rolled her eyes with a smirk.

"I try." She shrugged. Ruby chuckled and kissed her gently again, encouraged by her smile and the warmth she offered at such a close proximity.

"You're a good kisser lass…" the older woman said with a smirk. "Makes me wonder what else these books made you good at."

Belle looked up at her and seemed to think something over rather seriously for a moment before her hands slipped into Ruby's gently and held them.

"Let me show you…" she said, her voice barely above a whisper.

"W-what?" Ruby asked. "Love…you don't have to for my sake…I know I mess around with other girls but…you're different, Belle…it's not about that with you."

"I know." Belle nodded. "But…I want to…I'm so…curious…about you, about…it…the act I mean. And I think if I want to do it with anyone in this life I want it to be with you."

Ruby gulped and gave her a slow nod. "As long as you're sure it's what you want…I don't want you to regret it afterwords."

"I'm quite sure that I won't." Belle smiled at her pulling her towards the bed and turning them around, giving Ruby a gentle push to get her to sit on the bed. Ruby looked up at her, watching her curiously as she took off her coat and her hat all while standing in front of her. The quartermaster couldn't help but get excited when she loosened her hair from the tight braid it was held up in, shaking it free before she looked down at her with a cat-like smile, one knee coming up beside Ruby's thigh, her hands gently sliding onto her shoulders to balance herself as she pulled the other one up one the opposite side - effectively straddling the pirate. Ruby's hands gently came up to her hips to hold her steady and she looked up at the younger girl again.

"You seem to know what you're doing so far." She smiled up at her almost nervously. Belle smirked at her as she leaned down and kissed her softly on the lips.

"Good, I want you to enjoy this as much as I will."

Chapter Text

There were few moments in Regina's life where the princess could truly say she felt exhilarated and without the slightest bit of fear in her heart even though she was experiencing something new. The first was when she was very young, and her father would play with her by tossing her up into the air and catching her every time without fail. It was there that she learned what real trust feels like.

The second was riding her beloved Rocinante. Her faithful steed could run and leap better than any other horse Regina had seen or heard or read of. But she never felt any fear when riding him. It felt incredible to her to be so in sync with such a majestic creature. Like he was an extension of her soul that wanted nothing more than to run and jump and roam free.

This moment was the third. On the ship, in the captain's quarters, with Emma kneeling down on the floor in front of her and her hands in long golden locks, holding her as close as possible, as if the world would crumble, fall out of it's orbit, and completely disintegrate into nothingness if she were to let her go for even a moment. She was nervous only a few moments ago, but then Emma kissed her, and her nerves melted into sheer excitement at the idea of what Emma would do to her…what she'd make her feel. The truth of the matter was that she knew very little about what one did when making love to another. Belle had told her about a book that explained it all, the details and sensualities of giving bodily pleasure to another, and receiving it from them in kind. It had been one of the many secrets Belle and the princess shared together. She'd even chanced at taking a peek at the book when offered. But she didn't get through much, and while she could understand what she was feeling and why…she didn't know what to do when clothing would start coming off.

"You're nervous." Emma muttered against her lips before locking them again. Regina moaned before she pulled back and shook her head.

"No…just…" she sighed softly, and Emma landed another plump kiss to her lips, stealing her breath for a moment.

"I can tell…" the captain said. "It's okay…what are you unsure about?"

"I want this so much." Regina sighed. "But I don't now…how…the intricacies. The details."

Emma smirked at her and nodded. "I understand. The first time is often filled with uncertainty."

"The fact that you're far more experienced than I am makes this a little bit more embarrassing." Regina admitted with a slight blush. Emma gave her a soft chuckle and kissed her cheek gently.

"Don't be embarrassed. The way I see it, it's always better when at least one person has experience." She said. "I promise I'll guide you as best I can, alright?"

"I trust you." Regina whispered against her ear softly before kissing a spot next to it. Emma smiled as she leaned her head down and gently placed a couple of kisses on the princess' neck. Regina gasped at the feeling and tilted her head, giving Emma more room to move. The captain cupped the side of her head gently, another arm around her back and holding her close as she peppered her neck with gentle kisses before she reached the bend where her neck and shoulders connected, and there gently pinched some skin in between her lips, sucking on it gently.

"Oh." The princess sighed, chills running down her spine in response to Emma's ministrations. The hand that was still buried in Emma's hair pulled her closer - if that were even possible - while the other reached for the hand on the side of her head, lacing their fingers together tightly as Regina's body began to react to Emma's touches and kisses.

"Are you alright?" Emma asked softly, her breath still hot on Regina's neck.

"I feel as if I'm only moments away from pure perfection." The princess chuckled at the absurdity of her words, but Emma just kissed her neck again, her tongue gently licking the spot she'd just been sucking on in small, soothing circles, before she moved on to a spot closer to Regina's chest, right on her collar bone in fact. "Captain I fear I…can't contain my excitement."

"What do you mean love?" Emma asked gently.

"It feels like I'm going to burst." Regina sighed, squeezing her thighs together to relieve some of the incredibly new kind of pressure building up inside of her. "I don't know how else to explain what I'm feeling…it's like there's a fire burning inside of me building up to an explosion."

Emma chuckled softly against her skin before kissing her again. "That's how it's supposed to feel love."

"To no end?" Regina asked, slightly worried that the feeling itself would drive her mad if she remained in this state for much longer.

"Oh no, I assure you there will be an end…a good one." Emma winked up at her before planting a kiss to the center of her chest. Between the way she was being touched, and Regina's curiosity, the princess was almost impatient to get to it. But the captain eased her by pressing a few more gentle kisses to her chest before dark, lust-filled green eyes looked up at her. Regina was a little shocked to catch the hint of nervousness in them. Emma cleared her throat. "May I…start undressing you, Regina?"

"I…uhm…" Regina sighed, her excitement and curiosity rising at the request. She gave Emma a quick nod. "Yes…you may."

Emma smirked up at her before her hands moved, meeting at the top button of her leather vest and slowly pushing and pulling to unfasten it. Regina's previous impatience seemed to melt away, fascinated with watching Emma undress her so carefully and gently as if she could accidentally break her in the process, a glint of excitement in her deep, green eyes as if she were a child unwrapping a gift.

The five buttons of her vest were loosened, and Emma gently pushed the garment back to slide it off Regina's shoulders when the princess pushed herself forward so that it could slide and fall off her arms. She pushed it out of the way and let it slide onto the floor carelessly as Emma's hands traced gently up her arms, cupping her neck gently as she kissed her again before they fell to the lace that kept her shirt fastened properly around the neck. She gently pinched the end of the string, pulling it and loosening the lace easily as she placed three soft kisses down the column of Regina's throat, feeling the younger girl's breath travel down into her lungs as she drew it.

When the lace was loose, Emma kissed Regina's jawline, and meandered off completely from her path. Sitting back on her knees, she gently lifted Regina's leg from the calf, loosening the buttons on her boot and gently slipping it off. Regina looked at her as if the act itself was something to be revered and Emma couldn't help the brow that lifted up on her face in question. The princess smiled at her sheepishly.

"I've been undressed by my handmaidens more time than I can count…but gods know if they ever looked at me like that while they did it mother would probably have them imprisoned for impropriety towards a woman's honor." She said. Emma chuckled softly, pressing a kiss to Regina's knee through the trousers that still covered it before she shifted to remove the other boot.

"Lucky for all of us, she's not here." The captain said, her voice husky and deeper than Regina's had ever heard it. It was thick with lust and made the little hairs on the back of Regina's neck stand to attention in anticipation.

"Yes…lucky us…she's far away and no one can stop us." She smirked at the blonde, her voice wavering in excitement. Emma's eyes looked up at her on some level between teasing and sinful, and she swallowed thickly. "Frankly…I'd shoot the bastard that tried."

The captain laughed and shook her head as she pushed forward and captured Regina's lips again. "You certainly know how to make a girl feel special, princess."

"I suppose I learned from the best, captain." Regina grinned against her lips and Emma kissed her deeply again. Regina felt hands at her waist, gripping the shirt that was snugly tucked into her trousers, and Emma released her lips again with a sigh.

"May I?" she asked again. Regina chucked softly.

"I thought I already said yes." She teased.

"It doesn't hurt to make sure that's still in effect." Emma shrugged.

"I'm hardly going to change my mind now that you've gotten this far." Regina said. A soft kiss on her cheek made her let out a soft, girlish giggle.

"You're well within your right to do so should that be the case, love." Emma whispered into her ear as if she were making a vow. "I'll not force you to continue should you decide to stop."

"How very noble of you captain." Regina sighed. "But if you do stop I might just go mad."

Emma raised a brow at the smirking girl who was obviously teasing her. She rolled her eyes and leaned in to brush their lips together.

"As her highness commands." She teased, biting down on the brunette's lower lip gently and pulling a moan out of Regina's mouth as she pulled her lip teasingly. She began to pull the shirt out from under the waistband of her trousers, and just as Regina felt it loosen around her, she felt warm, gentle hands slip underneath the thin, cotton garment and land on the expanse of her flat stomach. It felt almost silly that she should gasp as she did from a simple touch. But feeling Emma's skin against her own in such a new way - the first of many new ways in fact - only added to the rising tension coiling in the pit of her stomach.

Emma began lifting the shirt up slowly, and Regina, who was growing more and more impatient as the seconds ticked by, moved her hands to grip the hem of the shirt, her eyes locking onto Emma's for a moment before she began to pull the shirt up. Emma helped her, pulling it off gently when it almost got stuck around Regina's head and tossing it over by Regina's vest as she fell back on her knees and looked up at Regina's bare torso as if she were staring at the gates to heaven itself. For a moment, the princess blushed, and almost covered herself with her arms when Emma moved, gently lacing their fingers together as she pushed forward and kissed Regina's lips tenderly.

"I apologize for staring love." She said, clearly catching onto Regina's uncertainty. Their lips brushed in an almost kiss, but Emma seemed to be panting like she just swam the seven seas. "I just…can't remember the last time I laid eyes on something so utterly beautiful."

"Well…I suppose when you put it like that, I can't help but forgive you." The princess smiled against Emma's lips before the pirate captured them again.

"Oh good." Emma chuckled. "I was worried."

"Hmm, do put your mind at ease, dear captain." Regina said, running her hands gently over her coat-clad shoulders before slipping her hands under the lapels and looked up at the blonde again. "Surely you must be getting hot under that coat."

Emma smirked at her and gave her a nod, allowing her to push the coat off before she helped take it off completely, evening the stakes only by a little. But it suddenly didn't seem so daunting to Regina to have Emma in front of her like that. The coat made the woman look broader, and more intimidating. And though Regina knew different, it was difficult not to see her in that light until she'd taken it off. She liked the way Emma looked in it while holding command of a ship or in the middle of a fight, but here, in this moment, having them both on the same level was so important to the princess. Emma suddenly looked years younger - as if the weight of the coat signified the weight of the world she carried on her shoulders, and now she shed it off to focus on Regina. The princess bit her lip and reached up, gently pulling off Emma's hat as well, shedding a few more years off the woman's appearance as she gently brushed a few loose golden strands of hair away behind Emma's ears.

"You look…different." Regina smiled at her. "More relaxed…I like it."

"Hmm." Emma tilted her head and reached up curiously, fingers playing with the end of Regina's long braid before the other hand reached up as well. Regina gave her a slight nod and Emma gently loosened the braid, running her hands through her hair to free it from it's binds, brushing wayward strands out of Regina's face and cupping her cheeks, examining the princess in this new light. "Perfect."

"Emma…" Regina sighed, fingers trailing down the older woman's cheek and tracing her jawline gently. "Gods…I could stay here forever and never get bored."

Emma smirked at her and nodded. "It would certainly be a beautiful way to die."

"Ironically, I've never felt more alive." Regina chuckled softly. Her fingers slid under Emma's chin and she lifted gently, trying to coax her forward. Emma smiled at her and moved forward again, stopping just a hair away from her lips.

"Something you want, princess?" she asked teasingly.

"I think you know, captain." Regina chuckled.

"Aye but saying 'please' would be so much more polite." Emma said.

"Or perhaps you'd just like to hear me beg?" Regina retorted.

"It wouldn't exactly be sore on the ears." The captain admitted with a shrug. Regina rolled her eyes playfully and looked at her, their eyes locked and so focused on each other the rest of the world was drowned out, and all Regina could see was Emma, all she could hear was her heartbeat, all she could feel was the breath that hit her lips as Emma exhaled. She gulped.

"Please…kiss me."

Emma didn't need to be told twice, and their lips locked for the umpteenth time. With Emma's lips open around hers, Regina tested the waters and slid her tongue into the captain's mouth, licking the roof of her mouth as the blonde had done to her earlier before exploring her mouth in a way she never thought possible. Emma moaned around it and pulled Regina closer, her tongue twisting around the princess' for a moment before she let Regina continue.

When the need for air became too great, Regina pulled away, her eyes hooded and a smile on her face. Emma smiled back, kissing the corner of her mouth before her nose caressed the younger girl's cheek.

"You're a good kisser, lass." She said. Regina blushed at the compliment.

"I wasn't aware there was a bad way to do it." The younger girl admitted. Emma chuckled.

"It's one of the easiest things to muck up." She said. "You've yet to do so though, worry not."

"Let's hope I can only get better." Regina said. Emma nodded, kissing her cheek before she started trailing kissed down her jawline, to her neck. Regina sighed when Emma kissed the hollow of her throat and began moving even lower. Regina's hand buried itself in Emma's hair once again as the captain's lips landed on her chest, leaving a few soft kisses before continuing her descent. It didn't take long for Regina to realize what Emma's goal here was. She just wondered, as she pulled her lower lip in between her teeth, what it would feel like. Thankfully, she wasn't made to wait too long to find out, for Emma's lips travelled down the soft skin of her breast, kissing and sucking as she went along, until soon enough, the captain's tongue poked out of her mouth, gently licking around the firm, pert nipple of her right breast before her lips attached themselves around it and Emma began to suck gently.

Regina gasped loudly at the entirely new feeling. At first it was all just a reaction due to that particular spot in her body being much more sensitive than any other. But soon it felt like her whole body was responding to the new sensation, some kind of connection sent wave upon wave of pleasure through her spine down straight into her core, and for a moment Regina wondered what cruel world would restrict such pleasures and make those who relished in them seem immoral.

Emma's hand came up to her other breast, cupping it gently before she squeezed it, and then two fingers pinched around the stiff nipple and Regina let out a moan, her hand tangling itself in Emma's hair for fear that she should pass out if the captain were to stop.

"Emma…" she sighed. The captain pulled back gently, easing the contact off with a few swipes of her tongue.

"Does that feel good?" the blonde asked.

"Incredible." Was the only word Regina could utter. She felt Emma's lips curl upwards into a smirk against her skin as another kiss was pressed there. The princess opened her eyes, looking down at the captain who seemed adamant on worshipping her body. "I don't think I've ever experienced such a feeling."

"It's quite a unique one." Emma said, kissing her skin again. "If you'll allow me…there's something similar that I'd think you'd enjoy."

"Emma…" Regina sighed, brushing loose hairs out of the captain's face. "You could suggest swimming naked in the frozen oceans right now and I'd say yes in a heartbeat."

Emma chuckled, her hot breath hitting Regina's skin, before she kissed the centre of her chest. She felt Regina's heart beat against her lips and for a moment wondered if it was her own, beating so hard it was shaking her entire body. She followed that kiss with another one, just a hair below it, and then another, slowly trailing down the middle of Regina's torso until she reached the spot just above her belly button. Her hands now rested just above the button and laces that held Regina's trousers closed, and, whilst never breaking the contact between her lips and Regina's skin, she began to slowly unfasten them. It was when Regina felt her tug at the laces that she realized what Emma was doing and looked down at her nervously. Emma's eyes lifted up towards her and a brow raised itself in question.

"Everything alright love?" she asked. Regina smiled at her and nodded.

"Just the anticipation of a new feeling I suppose." She said, pulling her lower lip between her teeth. "Please don't stop."

"As you wish." Emma smirked, kissing lower down her abdomen as she undid all the laces and began tugging Regina's trousers down. The princess lifted her hips off the bed for a moment, long enough for Emma to pull the piece of clothing past them before she sat back down and Emma slipped them off her legs easily. Regina, for a single moment, felt vulnerable, completely nude now in front of the still clothed captain. But when Emma looked up at her, sitting back on her knees like she was in the middle of prayer, looking at her like a goddess had just appeared before her, the feeling ebbed and faded away, and instead Regina was filled with some kind of pride one could only get from being stared at like that by a lover.

Emma shifted forward again, her hands gently coming up onto Regina's thighs as she placed twin kisses on each of her knees.

"Gods you're beautiful." She whispered against hot skin. Regina blushed a little, unsure of how to answer under Emma's flattering observations. "I've seen gold and diamonds that are less perfect than you."

"Captain if you believe you need to flatter me at this point I think you've sorely underestimated yourself." Regina said. Emma chuckled softly, pressing soft kisses up Regina's thighs.

"If you believe all I'm saying is merely a means of flattering you into giving me what I want, love, I think you've sorely underestimated yourself, not to mention my opinion of you." The blonde smirked up at her. "I don't believe you're so easily bought with flattery and compliments."

"Oh I assure you I am not." Regina smirked at her. "It just so happens that I'm bought with rum and near-death experiences."

Emma let out a hearty laugh and shook her head. "Well lucky me then."

"I'd beg to differ on which one of us is the lucky one, Captain." Regina said softly. "After all…I must be the envy of every girl on the cape right now."

"Not as much as you'd think." Emma shrugged. "Regardless…none of those girls ever stood a chance the moment I laid eyes on you."

"Even when you consider how we met?" Regina asked. Emma sighed, placing a sound kiss on her right thigh.

"I suppose the moment you begin to love someone, and the moment you realize you do, are two completely different moments in time." She said, her lips brushing deliciously against Regina's skin as she spoke. "I was a fool to think I could fight whatever feelings were stirring up inside of me."

"I think love makes a fool out of all of us, Captain." Regina said, leaning forward and gently brushing the back of her fingers against Emma's cheek, before she cupped her chin and tugged gently so that the older woman would look up at her. "But if I am a fool for falling in love, then so be it."

Emma smiled at her, her heart swelling at the sentiment. "I didn't think an old bitch like me could ever feel something like this ever again."

"You're too hard on yourself, dear." Regina kissed her nose gently, the blonde scrunching her face up in response and then letting out a chuckle. "You're not old. And I've met noble women more fitting of the title of 'bitch'"

"Anyone I know?" Emma asked teasingly. Regina rolled her eyes.

"Don't you dare mention my mother while I'm sitting naked in front of you." She said, pushing her back by the forehead playfully.

"Fair enough…shall we continue where we left off then?" Emma asked, kissing Regina's knees again. The princess bit her lip and nodded, her thighs squeezing together in anticipation.

"Indeed…I'm curious, what did you have in mind?" the princess chanced in asking. Emma smiled against the skin of her thighs, gently nipping at it before she placed a kiss on the same spot.

"I don't suppose you've heard of many practices when it comes to fornication?" the captain asked.

"I've heard of exactly none of them." Regina stated with a shrug. Emma chuckled softly but then kissed Regina's thigh again to placate the brunette who was so obviously frowning at her.

"From my experience lass, it's better to feel it for yourself rather than hear about it." She said. "Besides I'm not so good at descriptions."

"Oh…" Regina sighed nervously. "Very well…what should I do?"

Emma kissed her knees again and looked up at her. "Not much love, just…spread your legs and let me do the rest. Relax, I promise none of this will hurt."

Regina nodded, taking a moment to inhale deeply before she parted her legs just a little. Emma ran her hands over the younger girl's knees gently to try and ease her into giving her some more room to work with, and when she was successful in that, she scooted closer placing soft, hot kisses on the inside of Regina's thighs, her eyes glancing at Regina's face as she moved ever closer to the apex between them. The princess let her head fall back as she relaxed, breathing easily as she tried to fight the anticipation that was building up inside her.

She gasped a little when she felt Emma's fingers come into contact with her nether lips and parted them gently, kissing the top of her mound a couple of times before she gently slide her tongue out and Regina felt it slither in between her folds and find her stiff bud.

"Oh…" the princess gasped at the entirely new and pleasurable feeling. Her hands gripped at the sheets beneath her as Emma began to move her tongue slowly from side to side. The captain easily transitioned her tongue's movement into a circular motion around Regina's clit, receiving a moan from the younger girl in response, her hips moving involuntarily in an attempt to get closer to the captain's face and mouth. "Oh gods…Emma…"

The captain fought of a smirk of pride at the sounds emanating from the younger girl above her, moving and tilting her head until she was in the right position for her lips to wrap around the little bundle of nerves that was her current focus and slowly begin sucking on it, the fingers of her right hand inching lower towards her weeping entrance as Regina let out a loud gasp immediately followed by a moan.

"Good gods…" the princess gasped, unsure of how to articulate what she was feeling at that moment. It felt like her body was being lifted and built up towards some kind of goal that Regina was sure had to be pure ecstasy itself, for anything else would fall too short at this point. The princess gripped the sheets so tightly she thought she might rip them, and her mouth let out a sob. "Emma!"

Emma sucked gently before she broke the contact with a pop and licked with a flat tongue to soothe, and then pulled away for a moment.

"Oh gods please don't stop." Regina sighed in loss.

"I won't love." Emma kissed her inner thigh. "I was just about to take it up a notch, but I want to make sure you're alright first."

"Captain 'alright' is a sore understatement of how I'm feeling right now." Regina chuckled and then sighed. "Your patience, though frustrating at this stage, is incredibly admirable."

Emma smirked at her. "It's possible I also enjoy being a tease."

"Tease me any longer and you'll have ripped bedsheets." Regina countered. "I'm fighting my body's instincts to pull you closer."

Emma raised a brow at her and then chuckled. "Don't do that, love, let your body have it's way - it's what makes all of this fun, being totally uninhibited in any way. When have you ever had the chance to do that?"

"Oh…" Regina smirked a little. "So you won't mind? I wouldn't want to hurt you."

"I've dealt with a lot worse than some hair pulling love." Emma kissed her thigh again and then grinned up at her in a way that almost seemed…giddy…and the twinkle in her eye suddenly made her seem several years younger as she challenged the princess. "Do your worst."

"As you wish, Captain." Regina bit her lip as she smiled at the blonde, who nipped at the skin of her thigh again and inched closer to her.

"Gods…" the captain whispered as she began pleasuring Regina with her tongue again. The older woman moaned at the heady taste in her mouth as her finger gently teased the brunette's entrance. Regina suddenly understood what the captain meant when she said she wanted to 'take it up a notch.'

"Will it hurt?" she sighed nervously.

"No, love." Emma whispered against her skin. "It might feel strange, being your first time, but it shouldn't hurt, and if it does I'll stop and just keep on as I have been so far."

"Alright." Regina let out a shuddering breath. "Do it."

Emma nodded, her cheek brushing against Regina's thigh as she did so before she moved her mouth forward and took the stiff bud in her mouth again, building Regina back up to the place where she was before the blonde had stopped, and used her middle finger to trace just around the entrance, stimulating her there before she gently used the same finger to slip inside of her. She could feel Regina tensing above her and focused on her clit again, hoping to take the girl's mind off of the strange discomfort of being penetrated for the first time. She stopped her finger's movement for a moment, giving the princess a chance to ease herself into the new feeling. It took a moment, but soon she felt Regina's inner walls easing around her finger and accepting it inside of her, allowing her to move gently. Regina gasped when she went in as deep as her hand allowed her to and she gently curled her finger upwards. It was then that she heard a moan coming from above her and then felt a hand suddenly tangle itself in her blonde curls. The captain tried to fight off a smirk as she began moving her hand, slowly pumping in and out of the brunette, curling her finger upwards every time she entered the princess and receiving some kind of vocal affirmation that yes it was exactly what Regina wanted.

"M-more." The brunette begged. "Please…"

On the next intake, Emma gently slipped her ring finger in along with her middle one and Regina threw her head back when then she met the sweet, soft spot inside of her.

"Oh gods…Emma….I…ungh." Regina groaned and moaned as her hips began to grind against Emma's face, the captain's lips tightly wrapped around her stiff clit while her fingers pumped in and out of her at a faster pace now. Whatever Emma was building her up towards she was incredibly close. Regina wondered, for a moment, if it might be fatal. It was a reasonable idea considering how fast her heart was beating, how hot she felt, and the way her mind was completely overtaken, no other thought being allowed to swim through the fog of pleasure that Emma's ministrations were creating over her mind. She was panting, and moaning repeatedly out of her own control, her body completely unhinged in ways Regina never even thought possible.

And then it hit her, her breathing became incredibly shallow, and her eyes slammed shut as her entire body tensed and she fell back on the bed with a long, loud moan. Her inner walls clamped down incredibly hard on Emma's fingers and her hands gripped whatever they could find - mostly the bedsheets - for dear life as she saw some kind of white light flash behind her eyelids and she wondered if the gods themselves have come to take her to the afterlife. She barely noticed her her legs had wrapped themselves tightly around Emma's head and that the captain was trying as best as she could to continue with her actions and let Regina ride her orgasm out.

It took a solid minute and a half before the brunette began to come down from her high and back to the world of the living. Her body buzzed with the after-effects of whatever the hell it was that she'd just gone through and she blinked up at the ceiling of the captain's quarters, a soft smile mindlessly finding its place on her lips. She barely noticed Emma's movements until the captain finally stood up, pulling herself up on the bed to hover over Regina and look at her with a smile on her face and a curious quirk in her brow.

"How was that?" Emma asked.

"Captain I have no idea what that was, but it was incredible…" Regina sighed.

"That, love…" Emma leaned down and kissed Regina's cheek softly. "…Is what happens when one knows how to properly please a woman."

"It should be illegal to not know how to." The princess stated with a sigh. Emma chuckled.

"And that would be your first decree as queen, now, would it?" the captain teased. Regina shrugged.

"It sounds as good a decree as any." She said, looking up into Emma's eyes, her hand coming up to her cheek, the tips of her fingers gently touching her skin. "That is…if by some cruel fate I'm ever torn away from you again."

"Cruel fate?" Emma asked. Regina swallowed thickly, nervous about what she'd said now.

"Oh Emma…" she sighed. "My heart is so full with you around…it could only be cruelty to pull me away and take me back to a place where I felt…like some kind of pawn in another man's game of chess."

"Aye…I can understand wanting to have your freedom…" the older woman looked away for a moment in thought. "But would you really want to give up your life, your luxuries and your riches…all for some old pirate who has a bone to pick with the world?"

"A simple life at sea with the woman I love…what other luxuries could provide that? Emma you could offer me all the gold and jewels in the world to go back home, I would still want to stay here, with you." Regina smiled at her, cupping her cheek fully and softly caressing it with her thumb. "I choose you, Emma…over all the riches and the glory and the power I might ever have as queen…In whatever time in whatever universe we might live in, in this life and the next, above all the gods…I choose you."

A single tear formed in the captain's eye, escaping and trailing down her cheek, only to be wiped away by Regina's thumb.

"All my life I never thought I'd know how to be happy again." Emma sighed. "After I lost my parents and my livelihood…After I lost so many who stood beside me no matter what happened. I thought for sure I'd be cursed to live, alone and bitter, for the rest of my days…how is it that that all changed the minute you stepped aboard my ship?"

"The world is a funny place." Regina shrugged. "You think you're meant to live one way and all of a sudden you make a choice, and it leads to a consequence, that leads to the most thrilling adventure of your life. And before you know it you're laying in bed with a beautiful blonde pirate who you love so much that words themselves fail to articulate just how much…And all of a sudden the world's colours seem that much brighter."

"Love, I think you've gotten into one too many of Belle's books." Emma teased. Regina rolled her eyes.

"Ha-ha." She said sarcastically. "Don't ruin the moment."

"Aye…let's keep it going as long as we can." Emma kissed her soundly and Regina sighed into the kiss when she caught the taste of herself on Emma's lips. It felt so intimate, to find a piece of yourself in any way on another person. And if Regina had felt connected to the pirate before, that was increased now that she'd given herself to Emma in such a unique way. When Emma pulled away, Regina took a second before she opened her eyes, and found the blonde staring at her in curiosity. "Is this what you want then? To stay…with me?"

"Yes…" Regina nodded. "You and me, on this ship, in that lovely mansion…just…being together…what more could I possibly want?"

"And you don't care how dangerous it is?" Emma asked, before another thought popped into her mind. "Or that fact that I've been less than hospitable more than once."

"Let me ask you this: Was you lack of hospitality because of the fact that you didn't want to get attached…because you were afraid of getting hurt?" Regina asked. Emma swallowed thickly, slightly taken aback at how Regina seemed to read her so easily.

"I…Yes, it was." The blonde nodded, a couple of strands of her falling out of place, only to be brushed back gently by Regina. "Damning myself to falling in love with a princess seemed a much more fearful task than it turned out to be."

Regina smirked at her. "The same can be said for falling in love with your pirate captor. But I suppose the beauty of life is that it tends to fully surpass your expectations."

"Hmm…" Emma hummed and smiled at her. "I suppose that's true."

"And now…would you distance yourself from me now, knowing how I feel for you?" Regina asked. Emma shook her head.

"There's no going back now that I've revealed my heart to you. I can act like this never happened but it would be nothing but a dirty lie and we would both know the full truth. Gods smite me if I should ever hurt you like that." The blonde said. Regina smiled at her as she leaned into the hand still on her cheek.

"Well then, my answer is yes. I want nothing more in this world than to be with you." She said. Emma's smile lit up the room as she slowly leaned down and kissed her deeply. Regina moaned into the kiss and sighed when the captain pulled away, only by an inch as she smiled at her.

"If that be the case, then not even the entirety of your mother's army and navy, nor the armies of any kingdom…nor the gods themselves could keep us apart. For I will always fight for us to be together…or die trying."

Regina didn't know how to respond to such a vow that made her heart swell in her chest so much, she thought it might burst. So instead, she slid a hand to the back of Emma's neck, and pulled her in for a deep kiss. Their lips and tongues danced together in a way that stole Regina's breath once again and she would have refused to breathe until she passed out, but Emma thankfully had more sense than that and pulled away gently.

"You must be tired." The captain said. "It has been an eventful night after all."

"But what about you?" Regina asked. "I haven't…reciprocated."

Emma rolled her eyes playfully. "There's no need to worry about me love."

A hand landed on her chest to stop her from moving and Regina looked up at her. "Every woman should get to feel what you allowed me to feel, Emma…and I would very much like to return the favor…I know I don't have any experience but…you could show me."

"Aye…I could…if it means so much to you." Emma said. Regina nodded with a soft smile.

"Go on, captain." Her smile turned catlike. "Show me how to properly pleasure a woman."

"When you put it like that, princess…" Emma sat up on her knees on the bed and pulled off her shirt, allowing Regina to bask in the image of her naked torso. "It makes it awfully difficult for me to deny such a request."

Regina smirked as she licked her lips. "Good, one should never deny my requests, captain."

Emma leaned back down and stopped just short of connecting their lips again. "Yes, your highness."

Chapter Text

As Ruby's lips brushed against hers gently, one hand running through her hair as the other trailed her spine gently, sending shivers through her entire body and getting her to shake in excitement, Belle silently cursed the author of the books that taught her about the intricacies of lovemaking. She cursed them to the depths of the deepest hell for not telling her how her heart would flutter in her chest, how her breathing would grow more shallow with every passing moment. How her body would shiver and tense up as the excitement grew in her lower belly, how her body heat would rise to temperatures that would be worrying had it not been a result of the way Ruby's tongue slipped past her lips and caressed the roof of her mouth in a way that almost made her dizzy with need.

But then, she wondered if instead of cursing them, she should feel sorry for them, for they might never know Ruby Lucas' touch. And then she thanked the gods for this moment as a moan escaped her lips, only to be muffled by Ruby's. She whimpered when the older brunette pulled back.

"I can hear you thinking lass." The pirate chuckled.

"Even you aren't that incredible, miss Lucas." Belle teased. Ruby chuckled.

"You wound me." She said sarcastically. "Are you nervous? Because we don't have to-"

Lips covered Ruby's before she could finish her sentence.

"If you even suggest stopping right now I might shoot you on reflex." The younger girl blurted out. Ruby laughed and Belle smirked, shoving her at the shoulders and making her fall on her back on the mattress. That didn't stop the pirate from laughing, but Belle didn't mind. Ruby, she found, had a beautiful laugh. Musical, though loud, and so carefree it made Belle feel liberated just by hearing it.

"It wouldn't be the first injury I've encountered in an endeavor…though it would be the first I've gotten because I suggested stopping as opposed to starting the act." Ruby admitted.

"Some poor girl hit you because you made lewd suggestions, did she?" Belle snickered.

"I fear I was the poor sod at that point, didn't see her bloody fist coming until it was too late." Ruby mindlessly rubbed at a spot just above her eyebrow, where Belle could make out just the slightest white line, probably where the girl in question had broken the skin.

"At which point it literally was bloody, I feel it's safe to assume?" Belle teased. "And she is the poor one."

"Oh, how do you figure?" Ruby asked with a chuckle. Belle let herself fall forward, almost on top of Ruby, but she caught herself on her arms just before their noses collided.

"She didn't take the golden opportunity that was standing right before her." Belle said with a smirk. Ruby chuckled softly as her hands went up on the small of Belle's back.

"In her defense, she was married." The pirated admitted.

"Hmm, fair point." Belle shrugged, leaning down and pressing another soft kiss to Ruby's mouth, pulling back with a smile that the older woman could feel against her own lips as their noses brushed. "I'm not."

"Thank the gods for that." Ruby whispered softly. "I think I would die of pure heartbreak."

"Oh now wouldn't that be a song to hear? The fearless, ruthless pirate. No soldier nor sea dog could bring her down, but she stopped living when the girl she loved showed her her wedding ring." Belle mused. Ruby rolled her eyes.

"Aye, a pure tragedy." She said, lifting her head a little to kiss Belle again. "If you don't mind, there's loads of things I'd rather we do than discuss my death."

"Hmm, such as?" Belle asked teasingly.

"I think those books of yours gave you that answer." Ruby teased back.

"Hmm…perhaps this?" Bells leaned in, kissing her deeply, pushing her tongue past her lips and taking a moment to explore her mouth, stealing Ruby's breath in the process. She pulled away, pulling the pirate's lower lip between her teeth in the process.

"Mmm, definitely on the list." Ruby sighed, her eyes still shut for a moment before she looked up at Belle through hooded eyes. The younger girl smiled at her.

"Or maybe this." Belle uttered again, her head tilting slightly as she lowered herself to kiss Ruby's neck, sucking gently on a spot of skin.

"Fucking hell." Ruby gasped, her hand going back up into Belle's hair. "I gotta say…I've never been the kind to lie back and moan while the other does the pleasing…"

"Shouldn't you get to enjoy yourself as well?" Belle said, her hot breath caressing Ruby's skin.

"I do it's just…" Ruby sighed. "Usually any other girl is just looking to receive. I've had a couple fall asleep on me before I got my share."

Belle rolled her eyes, pushing herself up to look into Ruby's, a smirk on her face as their noses brushed. "I think you've more than realized by now that I'm not just 'any other girl.'"

"You're damn right you're not." Ruby said, lost in the brunette's eyes, which usually were as bright as the sky, but now, Ruby noted with mild excitement, they more resembled the darker hue to the sea, her pupils dilated. "You're the most amazing girl I ever met."

"Well aren't you a charmer." Belle smirked, kissing her softly again. Ruby smiled into the kiss, sighing at the loss when Belle pulled away to keep doing what she was doing earlier, that is, making sure Ruby had a very visible hickey the next morning.

"Can I take off your vest?" Belle asked softly, her hands having been roaming Ruby's torso hungrily.

"Can I take off yours?" Ruby asked in returned. Belle chuckled against her skin. "I mean it love, I'm not used to being undressed in front of someone else who isn't."

Belle bit her lip and sat up, looking at Ruby with a slight head tilt as if she were trying to figure the girl out. The pirate raised her brow at her in question and the Belle nodded gently.

"Alright then, we'll do this together." The younger girl said. Ruby smirked at her and sat up on her elbows, tilting her head at her as well.

"You mean you're alright with not being completely in control?" she asked. "I figured you'd want to, being your first time."

Belle shook her head. "I just want to enjoy this. I want both of us to enjoy this. I can't enjoy it fully knowing you didn't."

"That…" Ruby sighed, shaking her head slightly at the fluttering feeling in her heart. "That's the sweetest gesture anyone's ever made for me, you know that?"

Belle leaned down again and kissed her softly. "Then I feel sorry for anyone else you've ever been with because they clearly didn't know the incredible girl they had in their arms when they had you."

"Pfft, you call me the charmer." Ruby smirked just before Belle kissed her again.

"Undress me, Ms. Lucas, and let me do the same to you." The younger girl whispered. "I want you more than I've wanted anything else in my entire life."

"Even a book?" Ruby teased. Belle nipped at her chin playfully.

"You're so much more entertaining and exciting than any book I've ever read." She said.

"Even the one about sex, then?" Ruby chuckled.

"Well I imagine engaging in the act itself is much more enjoyable than reading about it, is it not?" Belle asked. Ruby chuckled again and nodded.

"Most definitely."

"Hmm." Belle hummed and kissed her softly. "Prove it."

"As you wish." Ruby said, licking her lips as her hand gently reached up for the buttons of Belle's vest, quickly slipping them through the holes, the layer of clothing loosening around the younger girl. Once the lapels of the vest hung loosely around her torso, Belle sat up on her knees, hovering above Ruby as she took it off and tossed it aside. Ruby took the opportunity to sit up and start to unbutton her own, fumbling a little in their current position and due to the excitement running through her. Belle gently stopped her trembling hand, Ruby looked up at her in question and earning a soft kiss instead of an answer as Belle slowly, patiently, unfastened each button and pushed the vest off of Ruby's shoulders. The older woman grabbed it and tossed it aside with Belle's just as she felt gentle, almost hesitant fingers slip under the hem of her shirt and tracing gentle circles on her flat stomach.

"Go on then." Ruby smiled up at her and Belle bit her lip as she gently began to lift the shirt up. Ruby pulled the sleeves off, making the whole process faster as Belle pulled it up over her head and then off completely, adding it to the slowly growing pile of clothes in the corner of the room as her eyes landed on Ruby's naked torso, freezing for a moment as a flash of heat ran through her body and tinted her cheeks pink.

"Oh." She gulped, unsure what to do with the physical reaction she was feeling to seeing Ruby so exposed. The older woman tried to fight off the blush she felt creeping up her cheeks at being stared at in such a way. Belle noticed, and stopped herself, leaning down and kissing her gently. "I'm sorry…It's just…You're beautiful."

"Well." Ruby cleared her throat gently. "That's definitely not something I hear very often."

"You need to stop spending time with stupid people, honestly." Belle said bluntly, getting Ruby to laugh again, giggling herself out of the sheer joy the sound of Ruby's laughter brought her.

"Nicely put, love." Ruby said, leaning up and pecking her lips. Belle felt a tug at her shirt and saw a question in Ruby's eyes. "May I?"

"Fair is fair after all." Belle nodded with a teasing smirk and Ruby began lifting up the shirt, pulling it over Belle's head and arms and tossing it aside. Belle pulled her lower lip in between her teeth and tried not to squirm around due to the sudden chill of cold she felt, immediately warmed by the way Ruby was taking her in.

"Absolutely gorgeous." The pirate sighed, her fingers gently tracing lines up Belle's abdomen, inching higher with each passing second, though hesitantly.

"Do you…want to touch me?" Belle asked quietly. Ruby gulped.

"Please." She breathed out. All she got as a response was a single nod just as Belle took her hands gently lifting them up, Ruby's fingers brushing against her skin, until Belle gently moved her hands to cup her breasts fully, sighing as her stiff buds brushed against the palm of Ruby's hand and she arched further into her touch. She leaned forward, cupping the back of Ruby's head gently and melding their lips together in a hot kiss. Ruby moaned as Belle slipped her tongue into her mouth, and Belle moaned at the way Ruby's hands moved to gently pinch and roll her nipples in between her thumbs and forefingers, sending a shock of pleasure through her spine and down to her core.

"Can I…" Belle sighed against Ruby's lips, her hands slowly trailing down her shoulders. Ruby nodded against her forehead before their lips attached themselves to each other again. Belle's hands made contact with Ruby's soft breasts and she took a moment to enjoy the feeling of soft skin in her hands before she copied the older woman's earlier action, earning a moan from Ruby as her hips pushed upwards to meet Belle's.

"That's good." Ruby sighed, her voice made husky and low with the same lust that drove her brown eyes to almost become black.

"Ruby…" Belle sighed, her hips gently grinding down against the older woman's as her excitement grew and her patience wore thin. She heard the telltale thumping of Ruby kicking her boots off her feet and her hands trailed down to the laces of the pirate's trousers. "Please?"

"Just do it love." Ruby kissed her deeply. "You're always allowed."

"Mmh." Belle moaned into lips as her hands fumbled around with the knot holding them tightly. "How the hell…"

"Sorry." Ruby chuckled. "Never learned how to properly tie a bow."

"No, I'm sorry." Belle sighed, tugging the laces roughly and breaking them with a snap. "I'll fix that."

Ruby laughed as the younger girl began kissing her neck, her hands slipping under the waistband of her trousers. Belle couldn't help smiling and giggling against Ruby's skin as she shook her head.

"Quit laughing and undress me Ms. Lucas, you're driving me mad." she said almost teasingly.

"As milady commands." Ruby said, ignoring the order entirely in favour of kissing Belle deeply again. Belle moaned into the kiss as Ruby's hands trailed down in a similar fashion to how Belle's had, only she had a much easier time undoing Belle's trouser laces, tied in a perfect little bow that allowed Ruby to simply find the ends and slip the bow loose. Belle kicked off her boots - nearly falling forward and taking Ruby down with her in the process. Ruby slipped her hands past the waistband and Belle gave her a soft nod before she cupped her jaw and kissed her deeply, a hand running through long dark hair as the pirate's hands pushed to grasp at her thighs.

"There's far too much clothing present." Belle said with a sigh. Ruby tried to push the leather trousers down off of Belles' waist, falling back in the process and Belle sat up, pushing them down and then balancing from one knee to the other so she could shake them off her legs. "Finally."

Ruby was at this point lifting her hips up to push her own off. Belle looked down just in time to smile and pull them down for the older woman, down past her waist and then her knees, and then Ruby's knee made contact with Belle's behind in an attempt to kick them off, earning a surprised yelp from Belle.

"Sorry love." Ruby said. Belle simply chuckled, her heart feeling lighter than it ever had in her life. Ruby's trousers finally fell off her foot where they had gotten caught and she stopped jumping around and shaking the bed in the process. When they both stilled and their laughter calmed down, they took a moment to take each other in. Now bare and free to see and touch each other as they pleased. Something about the atmosphere in the room turned heady, like someone released some kind of aromatic drug that made them hungrier to have each other than before. Belle leaned down gently, attaching their lips and rolling her hips against Ruby's wantonly.

"I need you…" she whispered against bruising lips.

"I need you." Ruby sighed. "More than I've ever needed anything in my life."

"Gods just stop talking and touch me." Belle pleaded, pressing their lips together again as her hands roamed down Ruby's chest, stopping for a moment to revel in the feeling of the soft skin there again. It was something that Belle hadn't even thought about in regards to the woman currently beneath her. After all, Ruby put on such a hard front, it was almost unexpected that her body would feel this soft. It was something that one had to take their time to learn about the pirate, and it was a bittersweet thought for Belle to think that she was the only one who actually bothered to take said time.

Ruby's hands began moving up her thighs, periodically squeezing and groping the skin there and eliciting moans and whimpers from the brunette writhing above her.

"So, did these books tell you everything then?" she asked softly.

"They didn't outline the emotions and excitement properly but the physical aspects, yes." Belle said.

"...all...of them?" Ruby raised a brow and Belle smirked at her, her hand silently slipping down in between them and slipping gently through Ruby's soft curls and soaked folds, touching her stiff bundle of nerves. And eliciting a curse from the older woman. "Fuck."

"Indeed." Belle chuckled and kissed Ruby's neck when her head fell back against the mattress. "Now do stop worrying about me and my innocence and just touch me Ruby...please."

"Damn..." Ruby sighed, wasting no more time in granting Belle's wish and slipping her hand down to the younger girl's wet and hungry core, earning a moan of pleasure as two fingers pressed down in the perfect spot, taking Belle's stiff bud in between them and rolling it gently.

"Yes." Belle gasped, trying to keep her focus on the actions she was administering on Ruby.

"Fuck, love." the pirate sighed.

"Ruby…" Belle whimpered. "M-...more. Please...oh gods."

"Together love...just as you said." Ruby sighed. Belle nodded hastily and gasped when she felt Ruby's fingers slide upwards. She began moving hers in the same way through Ruby's hot core to find her entrance just as Ruby found hers. She gasped and tensed a little as she felt a finger slide inside her, her body thrumming as it got used to the new, though not unpleasant, feeling. She began moving, rolling her hips and moaning at how the inadvertent movement of Ruby's finger inside her made her feel. The pirate began slowly pumping in and out of her, curling her finger slightly upward as she pushed in and getting a moan of appreciation from Belle every time.

Pushing through the fog building up in her mind, Belle moved her hand again, gently slipping her finger inside Ruby the same way and getting a groan from the older woman in response. She tested the waters by curling her finger upwards the same way Ruby had, her finger coming into contact with a soft, almost spongy spot that made Ruby's eyes roll to the back of her head and moan when she touched it. The sight of Ruby's head lolling backwards against the mattress as she moaned her name so softly, Belle quickly learned, was her favourite sight and sound combination.

"More. Pease Belle." Ruby almost sobbed. Belle bit her lip as she gently pulled out and added another finger. "Yes…"

"Me too...oh gods." Belle sighed, moving faster above the older woman, her brow furrowing as she felt Ruby push in a second finger and stretch her out deliciously.

She knew, as they moved and writhed against each other, what she was building up to. She knew how she might feel physically. Slightly dizzy, hot, like her body could burst at any moment. But she'd sorely underestimated what she'd been reading at the time. And the book didn't elaborate on the fact that she would feel as if heaven itself was wrapping itself around her body. So when Belle finally reached that delicious edge and was thrown off of it, she didn't expect to stop feeling the movements of the ship around her, nor did she expect to see a bright flash of white light behind her tightly shut eyelids. She barely heard her own cry of Ruby's name over the sound of her own blood pumping in her ears. And it wasn't until after that Ruby would tell her that the very sight of her coming completely undone above the older woman was what pushed Ruby over the edge herself.

She rode out the euphoric feeling as long as she could, but soon her body turned to little more than mush and she rolled off of Ruby, and onto the mattress on her back, breathing heavily as if she'd swam the distance between the cape and the sweet shores rather than sailed it.

"You alright love?" Ruby asked, her own breathing just as laboured.

"I feel I shall never not be alright ever again." the younger girl chuckled. Ruby scoffed and shook her head.

"Yeah, it often feels like that." she said. A moment of silence washed over them - not awkwardly of course - it was blissful, disturbed only by the creaking of the wood of the ship and the sound of the sea outside. Belle had shut her eyes and let her mind wander, until she felt a pair of soft, slightly chapped lips press against her cheek. She fluttered her eyes open and smiled up at the brunette who watched her so carefully. "Sorry looked absolutely beautiful right always do of course I just…"

Belle huffed out a small laugh and turned on her side, her hand going over to the pirate's cheek and her fingers tracing the line of her cheekbone gently. "As do love."

Ruby's gradually-growing grin reminded Belle of an excited child upon receiving some kind of sweet treat. " meant what you said earlier then?"

"You'll have to jog my memory I'm afraid." Belle chuckled.

"About how you feel when you're with me? How you feel about me?" Ruby asked, her insecurities clear in her eyes as they reflected in the moonlight that spilled in through the small window above the bed.

"Ruby." Belle sighed, scooting closer and brushing a stray strand of hair out of the older woman's face and tucking it gently behind her ear. "I've never been in love...not truly...but if there's ever been a moment in my life that I came close, it's now, with you. I've read countless stories of people falling in love with each other and of someone being completely swept off their feet by another person and when I imagined what it would feel like...well I sorely underestimated it."

Ruby smiled at her and nodded. "When I hear of people loving someone so deeply it felt like they could die, I always thought they were being overdramatic. That they only said that to flatter the object of their affections but...Gods it feels like if I loved you anymore my heart would literally burst."

Belle smiled and pressed their foreheads together enjoying the warmth that being close to Ruby allowed despite the way the sea-breeze at this time of night cooled down the ship significantly.

"I'm so glad I mouthed Emma off on that ship." the noble girl said. Ruby chuckled and nodded.

"Aye, I am too." she said, earning a giggle from Belle. "If this is what happens every time you mouth her off than make sure you do it more often love."

Belle laughed a little louder and Ruby joined in because it was infectious. Suddenly there was a loud bang on the door.

"For fuck's sake keep it down in there, I'm old and I need my sleep!" Granny's voice followed the knocking. Belle turned and buried her head in Ruby's shoulder to muffle her laughter and Ruby slapped her own hand over her mouth.

"Do you think she heard us?" Belle whispered.

"Yes I fuckin' heard you girl. Ruby if you fuck this up you'll be meeting the business end of my crossbow. Belle, you take care of my granddaughter or you'll get the same!" the older Lucas woman shouted again through the door. "Now quit fuckin like rabbits and get some goddamn sleep so I can get some too."

"Yes Granny!" Belle called out, trying very hard not to laugh, Ruby was unable to speak because of her effort to do the same. "I suppose that means we have her support then?"

"Oh aye, as long as we go to sleep." Ruby chuckled again, finally quieting down. Belle nodded.

"Then I suggest we do that." she leaned in pressing a soft kiss to Ruby's lips before she got up to crawl under the sheets properly, the pirate following her suit. She sighed when Ruby wrapped her arms around her and pulled her closer. Belle brushed some stray hairs away from Ruby's face and kissed her again. "Goodnight, my love."

"Goodnight, Belle." Ruby kissed her again softly. "Thank you for reminding this bitter old pirate what love feels like."

Belle smiled against Ruby's chest as she nuzzled into her. "Thank you for giving this dreamer of a girl the best adventure of her life."

Chapter Text

The next morning, Regina smiled when she began stirring into the waking world, a comfortable warmth and pressure on her chest that made her feel full and complete. It was, of course, none other than Emma's head laying on her still bare chest. When Regina opened her eyes, blinking until she got used to the light, and looked at the still sleeping blonde, it almost seemed like her hair shone a bit brighter in the sun, like the room itself had more light in it than usual. Perhaps she was projecting her joy onto her environment, or perhaps she didn't see the world's full color until now. Or perhaps, she thought to herself with an eye roll, I should stop letting Belle loan me her books because I'm being made into a lovesick fool. But when Emma looked so beautiful and peaceful in her sleep, who could blame her?

It was the gentle way that Regina ran her fingers through the captain's golden locks that brought the older woman out of her slumber slowly.

"Gods." Emma sighed, her hot breath against Regina's skin. "If you told me I'd died on that plantation and woke up in heaven right now, I'd fuckin' believe you."

"Good morning to you too, dear." Regina chuckled, the sound rumbling beautifully against Emma's ear. The blonde turned her head, her chin resting in the middle of Regina's chest as she smiled up at her, a gentle finger coming up to brush a loose strand out of the princess' face.

"Aye, indeed it is." Emma said, barely above a whisper.

"And you're not dead, I believe I made certain of that." The brunette teased. Emma chuckled.

"Indeed you did." She said, pushing herself up on her arms and dragging herself up towards Regina so that their faces, and more importantly their lips, aligned so that Emma could place a gentle kiss on pink, plump lips. "You look good with a pistol in your hands."

"That is until I start panicking because I've just unloaded it into someone's head." Regina sighed. "Am I bad person for not being more remorseful about what I did?"

"No." Emma shook her head. "If you hadn't killed him he would have killed me, and I assure you he would not only lacked any remorse at all, he would have put my head on a spike and paraded it around like a trophy for all to see."

"Oh." Regina cringed, banishing the image that had popped up in her mind. "Well then I suppose a bullet through his throat was the merciful thing to do. The alternative wasn't an option."

Emma smirked at her. "My hero."

Regina smiled up at her and winked. "Don't go forgetting that anytime soon."

The captain laughed loudly and shook her head before she kissed her again. "I'll build a statue in your honor shall I?"

"I'll only accept the finest cut and polished marble." Regina said. Emma laughed again and the princess found that she wasn't able to refrain from doing so as well. It took a moment before a blissful silence fell over them like a comfortable sheet. Regina let out a soft sigh and Emma turned on her side on the bed to stare at her.

"Something on your mind love?" Emma asked. Regina shrugged.

"It feels like I should feel different." She mused. "But I don't? I mean I'm happier than I was yesterday definitely but that's not what I'm talking about…"

"Love." Emma chuckled softly and played with a strand of Regina's hair in between her fingers. "Everyone puts so much pressure on that first time. They make it seem like you'll change your appearance and suddenly be someone completely new and everyone will know why. Trust me, it's not that important. I mean it is to some, and that's alright too. But you shouldn't expect to feel any different than you have been before. And take it from me, it only gets better the more you do it."

"Better? Oh gods." Regina chuckled "It might just kill me."

"That's what anyone who's been lucky enough to have a good first time says." Emma chuckled. "There are worse ways to go."

"I doubt there could be better." Regina said, smiling as she turned her head to look at Emma, her heart immediately jumping in her chest when her deep brown eyes made contact with the Captain's bright, almost emerald green.

"True, love, but then again I could fade out of this world just staring at you like I am right now, I'd still be the happiest dead sod in hell." Emma said. Regina chuckled.

"Why do you always talk about dying in moments like these?" the princess asked. Emma shrugged.

"When you live a life like I have, that's all you can hope for. A life with as little regrets as possible, and dying of old age in the arms of the one you love." Emma explained, looking up at Regina again pointedly on the last note. The princess blushed a little and shifted closer to Emma on the bed.

"Well that may be true but…I prefer looking forward to spending as much time as possible with the one I love before I die in their arms." She said. "Surely there's something you'd like to experience in your life."

"Well I…" Emma sighed, looking away for a moment. "There was a time when all I wanted was to fall in love and be a mother."

"Oh." Regina smiled. "Emma that's beautiful."

"Aye." Emma sighed. "But I doubt it's possible now. That was the dream before my parents died, but after everything that's happened…"

"Even now?" Regina asked after a moment's hesitation. "…With me?"

Emma looked up at her and gave her a soft smile. "Love, I have no doubt that you'd be the best mother a child could ever have…But do you really think we could raise one living the life I do? The life you wanna stay in with me?"

"I understand what you mean." Regina sighed. "But there is the hope that things will get better."

Emma shrugged. "I suppose we can always change our minds if they do. But I'm not holding my breath."

"I understand." Regina nodded turning fully onto her side, mirroring Emma's position and reaching out to cover the blonde's hand with hers. "Please don't misunderstand me Emma…You're everything I've ever wanted in this world. Anything more than that is just another blessing. But it's you that I need in my life to be happy, and nothing more."

Emma's smile grew a little wider and the hand underneath Regina's turned over, taking hold of hers and pulling it towards the older woman so that she could press a kiss to it.

"Has anyone told you that you're the most amazing girl in this world?" The captain whispered like it was some kind of secret. Regina shifted even closer to her, her hand cupping Emma's cheek gently.

"Even if they had it wouldn't have meant as much from them as it does from you." She said with a grin. Emma shifted closer to her, an arm hooking itself over her side and pulling her closer to the captain before her other arm snaked itself around her neck to cup the back of her head.

"Well damn them all to hell for not telling you anyway." She said, making Regina swoon before she pressed her lips to the younger girl's. Regina moaned into it as Emma deepened the kiss and the princess wrapped her arms around the captain's neck. Emma was just about to push with her leg to turn them over when there was a knock at her door.

"Ah shit." She muttered as she pulled back. "What is it?"

"Get your sorry ass out of bed and come get breakf-oh." Granny's head popped in and raised a brow at the sight of the two naked women. Regina quickly pulled the sheet up over them protectively and the old woman rolled her eyes. "I swear it's like being on a farm in spring. Get your asses out of bed and come get some food before Wallace eats us into starvation."

"Coming Granny." Emma said. The older woman shut the door and left Regina to blush in privacy.

"That was embarrassing." The princess said. Emma chuckled.

"It could be worse." The captain shrugged. "Once she walked in on Ruby and that girl from the tavern stark naked in a pile of hay in her barn. Ruby turned as red as her name. Thought I'd choke to death from laughing so hard."

"You're horrible." Regina teased. Emma shrugged.

"Doesn't make you love me any less." The pirate winked at her, pressing a quick kiss to her lips before she got up from the bed.

"No, I dare say it doesn't." Regina smiled before her shirt was thrown onto her face. "You are horrible though."

"Come on, on your feet sailor." Emma smiled at her before she pulled her own shirt over her head. Regina could have made a snarky comment, but seeing the captain in such a good mood made her so happy she didn't have the heart to do it. Instead she climbed out of bed and slipped on her shirt before she reached for her trousers, realized she'd picked up Emma's instead, threw them at the captain and picked up the ones that were actually hers, pulling them on and ignoring Emma's laughter. When she was done, she picked up the captains red coat and tossed it over her head to stop her mockery.

"You put it on backwards!" Emma teased as she pulled the coat off her face. "You'd make a shit handmaiden."

"Well thankfully for me then, I'm a princess." Regina said, shrugging on her vest. Emma chuckled as she strapped her sword to her belt and opened the door, letting the sun pour in.

"I should teach you to sail. After all if you're staying here, you might as well learn how to rule the seas." The blonde suggested. Regina crossed her arms and tilted her head curiously.

"And will I become the second queen of the seas in time, then?" she said teasingly. Emma shrugged.

"I believe it's called queen consort." She winked at her before she stepped out of the room. Regina let out a satisfied sigh and followed her out. She was immediately handed a bowl of what seemed and smelled like porridge and a chunk of bread by Granny, who was doling out breakfast from a large pot.

"Morning missy." The old woman said.

"Good morning Granny." Regina smiled at her.

"That salve fix you up?" the old woman asked, slight concern in her eyes that warmed the princess' heart.

"Emma had to clean the wound first but the salve worked wonders after that, thank you." She said, getting a nod from the grandmother.

"Did she pour rum on it? I did that to her once, she swore like a damned sailor." Granny chuckled. "Mind you that's before she actually was one."

"Yes, it does induce that reaction." Regina chuckled, remembering the burn of the alcohol against her irritated skin.

"Better than that having to get your arm chopped off or having it kill ya." Granny shrugged. "Small blessings."

"Indeed." Regina said slowly, stirring her porridge in her bowl.

"She sleep okay?" Granny nodded towards the captain who was already on the upper deck, eating and talking to Agwe as he manned the Helm, having had his breakfast earlier. Regina couldn't help but smile as the images of the night before flooded her mind.

"I assure you Granny, she slept like a baby." The princess said. Granny chuckled.

"You made sure of that did you?" she teased. Regina blushed and the old woman waved her off. "Don't mind me, go have your breakfast in peace."

"Thank you." Regina nodded to her gratefully and stepped aside. She took a spoonful of warm porridge and sighed in satisfaction, not realizing until then just how hungry she was. She leaned against the banister of the ship, out of the way of the men who were working, and ate in peace with her thoughts. Her mind seemed unable to keep itself from wandering to the events of the previous night. And while the events that took place on the plantation were intimidating and memory - worthy indeed, what her mind decided to focus on wasn't that. In fact, Regina found that all she could think about was what happened in the captain's quarters only a few short hours ago. Her eyes wandered so very easily over to where the captain stood, now manning the helm herself, in her coat and hat and all her glory. It was strange for Regina to see her in this light again now that she had seen her in a totally different way. Here she held herself so stiff. Shoulders back and head held high, even her voice as she spoke out the orders seemed stiffer. But Regina couldn't help but think of how she'd seen her the night before. It had taken Emma a moment to relax of course, being that Regina had asked her to show her what she was meant to do, but that hadn't lasted long.

"Yes…just like that love…now-"

"Captain." Regina cut her off, pushing herself up on one arm to hover over the blonde, giving her a soft smile. "Emma…relax. I know I'm new at this but I want this to be just as good for you as you've made it for me."

"I…" Emma sighed, giving her a small smirk. "I've not relaxed in quite a while."

"Then you're long overdue to do so, I believe." Regina smiled, leaning down and kissing her gently. She moved her fingers, the ones that were currently snug in between Emma's folds and had just found that sweet, stiff bud that the captain had tried to guide her towards. She put a little pressure on it before she began moving her fingers in circles against it. She heard the low, steady rumble of a soft moan leaving Emma's mouth in response and smiled at her small victory. "There we go. Do you like that?"

"Gods…" Emma sighed. "You're better than you give yourself credit for…"

"I'm flattered you think so." Regina smirked, the happiness and satisfaction that she felt from pleasuring Emma in this way was almost better than what she felt when Emma had pleasured her. This beautiful and gorgeous woman, who Regina was convinced could have just about anyone that she wanted, this woman who seldom put her trust in anyone beyond a select few, was trusting her simply because Regina had asked, and chose her above all the other men and women who admired and loved her.

Regina bit her lip, the excitement from watching Emma sigh at her touch almost matched the excitement she felt when Emma had touched her, It was incredible how intoxicating it could be to watch someone come undone beneath you.

She moved her fingers slowly downward, towards Emma's entrance, and gently slipped her fingers into it, getting a louder moan from the woman beneath her. She recalled how incredible it felt when Emma had entered her for the first time, and smiled at the thought of Emma receiving such a pleasure from her. She bit her lip nervously as she decided to try something out, sitting back on her knees she reached forward with her now free hand that was previously holding her up and, while one hand was slowly increasing her pace as she pumped in and out of the blonde, the other now slipped in between her folds and rubbed slow circles on her stiff bundle of nerves. She gently curled the fingers working inside of Emma upwards, coming into contact with a soft spot that made Emma cry out in pleasure.

"Gods. Regina…yes…oh…oh Regina…Regina-"

"Regina? Regina!"

A bump on her shoulder shook her out of her thoughts and she turned to look over at Belle, who held a questioning gaze in her direction.

"Oh…Belle…Good morning." The princess said, her face turning a bright shade of red.

"Good morning." The younger girl said slowly. "Are you alright? You looked like you were a million miles away and your face is red. You're not getting ill I hope."

"No. No." She shook her head, waving off the hand Belle was lifting up to her forehead gently. "I'm fine."

"Uh..huh…" Belle said, uncertain. "Well what were you thinking about so deeply that you didn't hear me calling you?"

"I uhm…" Regina's face turned even redder. "Nothing."

"Lie." Belle said bluntly. "Come on, you know you can tell me anything."

"Well yes it's just uhm…" Regina stammered, her eyes wandering away and landing on the captain, who was currently talking to Ruby. She and Belle must have come up on deck together. Belle followed where Regina's eyes trailed, and then back on her friend with a gasp.

"You and the captain?" she whispered. "What happened?"

"Belle shh!" Regina shushed her, looking around nervously. She pulled Belle aside to a quieter spot and sighed nervously. "Alright, look…something happened last night and I…Gods…Please don't be angry with me."

"Why would I be angry with you?" Belle asked. "Look I have something to tell you as well just…tell me yours and I'll tell you mine."

"Okay…I may have broken our deal…because I told Emma last night…and then we…well…I laid with her." She said nervously. Belle's eyes went wide.

"What?" the younger girl asked.

"I know. I know. Gods. I know I shouldn't have I should have at least waited a little but gods Belle you have no idea how…" Regina trailed off and stopped talking when she realized that Belle was laughing. Laughing. "Stop laughing at me I'm being serious!"

"I'm not…oh gods." Belle shook her head. "Regina I'm not laughing at you. I'm just…well a little relieved to tell you the truth."

"Relieved? Why?" Regina asked.

"Because I…well…I told Ruby the truth. And then we kissed and then we…" Belle shrugged. "Well you're not the only one who lost her virginity last night."

"Belle!" Regina gasped with a smile appearing on her face. Belle laughed a little and shrugged. "How was it?"

"Incredible." Belle sighed. "Way better than what those books made it out to be."

"Oh…those books." Regina rolled her eyes. "I had no idea what I was doing. But gods Emma made it so that that didn't even matter."

"Did you ever think it would feel like that?" Belle asked. Regina shook her head.

"Frankly I always thought it would be painful." The princess admitted. "At least I feared it might be, the way everyone makes it sound."

"Like it's some ancient ritualistic sacrifice? Like someone's going to cut a part of your soul out." Belle rolled her eyes.

"Well frankly it did feel like my soul left my body for a moment but not in the way you mean." Regina chuckled and Belle shook her head at her.

"You're ridiculous." The younger girl teased. "Though I'm glad to see you're in a very pleasant mood."

"It's hard not to be after a night like that." Regina sighed. "And…I told her I wanted to stay. Here…or rather with her, wherever that might be."

"What did she say?" Belle asked.

"Well in short she said not even the gods would keep us apart if that's what I truly wanted." Regina sighed happily. "Belle I can't imagine being happier than I am with her."

"I know what you mean." Belle said, turning slightly to look over at where Ruby and Emma stood. The two pirates looked over at the girls, and two sets of matching smiles met each other across the ship.

"Come on, there's two empty spaces beside Ruby and Emma with our names on them." Regina said, bumping her shoulder into Belle's before walking towards the upper deck.

"Morning." Ruby said, an amused look on her face as she climbed the last three steps up next to Emma on the upper deck.

"You look chipper this morning, not hungover?" Emma asked, her out on the horizon (and sometimes glancing over towards a certain princess that was on board.)

"For once in my life? I'm not." Ruby chuckled as she pulled up another spoonful of porridge to her mouth. "So…what happened last night?"

"What happened? We finally slaughtered those privateers…you sure you were sober?" Emma asked. Ruby rolled her eyes.

"Not that you git." The first mate said. "I'm talking about you and the princess. You can't tell me nothing happened after I caught you two sucking on each other's faces!"

Emma rolled her eyes. "Aye, something did happen Lucas."

Ruby smirked at her and chuckled. "That makes two of us then."

"You and Belle?" Emma asked. "So you told her then."

"Nah. I kissed her when she least expected it and then thanked the gods when she didn't punch me in the fuckin' nose." Ruby explained, rubbing her nose absently.

"That girl Jenny always was a spitfire." Emma chuckled. "Shouldn't have kissed her while you were drunk."

"Problem was my drunk ass didn't think of that." Ruby chuckled. She looked off towards the other end of the ship, and Emma, knowing full well who she was looking at, was inclined to look in the same direction, her eyes landing on Regina as Belle's landed on Ruby. A shoulder bump from Regina, and the two girls began approaching them.

"Well, I suppose that doesn't matter anymore now does it?" Emma said with a smirk. "Gods bless Jenny, but what you and I have found here…that's worth a million punches in the nose I'd wager."

"Last night alone would be worth that Swan." Ruby said, crossing her arms and winking at Ruby when they made eye contact just before the girls reached the stairs. Regina looked up at Emma one last time before she started climbing.

"Aye, I agree with you on that." Emma said as Belle came up and unabashedly approached Ruby, an arm sliding around the first mate's waist.

"And what might you two be agreeing on so amicably?" Regina teased. "I get nervous when you're not tossing insults at each other."

"Just a moment of serendipity." Emma said, looking off into the horizon with a smirk on her face.

"Hmm…well how's this for serendipitous." Regina bumped her hip into Emma's playfully as she threw an arm up around the captain's shoulders. "You promised to teach me how to sail."

"Ah fuck." Ruby muttered under her breath. "We're all gonna die."

Chapter Text

"Okay, step here." Emma said, stepping back from the helm and waving her hand to guide Regina to take her place. Granny promised she'd show Belle how to properly spice a roast before putting it on the spit, and Belle was enjoying the cooking lessons (and the compliments Ruby paid her.) And Ruby had gone off with them, so Emma thought it was the opportune moment to begin Regina's sailing lessons. After all, the seas were calm and they were expected home a few hours after sun-down.

"Ooh, standing at the helm." Regina chuckled as she stepped into the space Emma had just vacated and took hold of the wheel. "How exciting."

"Oh aye, standing here and watching nothing but sea and sky for hours is thrilling really." Emma teased.

"Well if you hate it so much why don't you leave it to Ruby…I'm sure there are much more…entertaining activities you could do instead." Regina teased. Suddenly the captain's breath was hot on her ear.

"Well there are a lot more available to me now of course, but then again you always hate being stuck in that room for too long." Emma muttered softly so that only she could hear. A shiver ran down Regina's spine and she gripped the handles tighter, her lower lip slipping in between her teeth.

"I've found it's not so stifling when you're breathing in the scent of another woman's heat." Regina whispered back softly over her shoulder, earning a soft chuckle right into her ear from the blonde.

"Mmm…That's something to keep in mind." Emma said, her face coming closer to Regina's before the princess felt a pair of soft lips on her jawline.

"Captain if you keep this up I'll accidentally sink us all." Regina chuckled. "I thought you were meant to teach me the art of sailing…not seduction."

"Well, sometimes winning over the ship into your control is much like seducing a beautiful woman." Emma said, her hands coming up from behind Regina to grasp her hands gently and move them from the two handles immediately next to the topmost middle one to two handles much farther apart down the top curve of the wheel. "You have to know how to touch her just right and pull all the right strings."

"And sometimes a bit of rope is involved." Regina joked with a mirthful smirk, getting Emma to chuckle.

"Look at you." She said. "Give you some breathing room and you turn into quite the naughty one, don't you?"

"My good girl days fled the land when I took up with pirates…probably that night at the tavern." Regina shrugged.

"Well I for one enjoy seeing you feeling so free with your words." Emma said.

"Well that's good, I'm sure you're mostly to blame." Regina teased with a smirk.

"Well then I suppose I should say…you're welcome." Emma teased back, her hands falling to Regina's hips from behind while the younger girl laughed.

"Get back to the lesson captain, before I sail your ship into a rock." The princess said.

"Right, well, let's start off with the basics…first off, there isn't a rock for miles, so you'd be a pretty shit sailor if you succeeded." Emma joked. "Now, tell me the directions of either side of the ship."

"Uhhhh…" Regina shrugged. "Left and right?"

"No." Emma shook her head. "Larboard and Starboard."

"Why not left and right?" Regina asked with a quirked brow.

"Because you'd be left quite unsure about whether you heard that right." Emma said with a smirk. Regina's eyes narrowed a little as she pieced together the puzzle in her mind.

"They're common words used in sentences." The princess said. "And any man on the ship could misinterpret a regular conversation for directional orders."

"Correct." Emma nodded.

"So…which is which?" Regina asked. Emma nodded.

"Look here…" Emma thumped the palm of her hand on the pedestal the wheel was attached to and traced something out with her finger. Regina looked closer to see that there were two letters, an 'L' on the left and an 'S' on the right, carved into the top of the pedestal - but time had smoothed them out. "I suppose I should re-carve them."

"It's a good trick though." Regina said as Emma reached out her knife and dug into the wood with the tip to make the letters out clearer.

"Jack carved those out years ago when I started learning how to sail." Emma chuckled.

"So larboard is left and starboard right…" Regina nodded. "They sound so similar."

"Aye, not the first time a near-deaf sailor's made an error." Emma said. "I have no idea why they don't change it."

"And what would you change it to if you could?" Regina smirked up at the blonde over her shoulder. Emma shrugged as she put her knife away and gripped her belt.

"Well…Larboard is always the side facing port." Emma said. "They might call it that."

"Port?" Regina asked. Emma shrugged again and Regina nodded. "I suppose it's as good a suggestion as any."

"Aye, it will take a lot more than the random suggestion of a pirate to change it though." Emma sighed. "Anyway. How do you know we're going the right way?"

"Uhhmm because you handed me the wheel without turning it?" Regina smirked cheekily at the blonde. Emma chuckled and shook her head, reaching into her pocket and placing her compass down, open, in the middle of the pedestal.

"This is where maps come in." Emma said, moving to the table beside her and grabbing the map off of it, holding it out for Regina to see. "You see that dotted line?"

"Is that our course?" Regina asked.

"Right you are." Emma nodded. "How'd you know?"

"Apart from the fact that I've seen this map three times since we've boarded?" Regina chuckled.

"Fair enough." Emma shrugged pointing to a spot around just beyond the middle of the line. "Now we're somewhere about here but what I really wanted to show you was this."

She pointed up to the topmost right corner of the map, where a compass was drawn on it.

"This way we know which way is north on the map, pick up the compass." Emma directed, Regina doing as instructed. Emma's fingers pointed to where the map's compass pointed north. "Now see, this is north on the map. And we use the compass in your hands to orientate our direction. The needle will always turn to true north."

When Regina looked at the compass, the needle marking north faced the north-east of the compass.

"So we're going…west?" Regina asked.

"North-west, which means west but in a northerly direction rather than true west or south-west." Emma explained.

"Now I understand why sailors drink so much." Regina sighed and placed the compass back on the pedestal. Emma laughed as she put the map down.

"Well among many reasons." She said. "Am I overwhelming you?"

"It's just all information that takes getting used to." Regina shrugged. "If I can learn to play the piano I can learn this, I assure you."

"You play?" Emma asked.

"Mother insisted on it. Said a princess and future queen must care about the arts as she does about politics." Regina sighed.

"Well…that's a coincidence then." Emma said, turning so her back was facing the main deck and resting back against the wooden banister. "My mother said a similar thing to me before she forced me to sit in front of the piano and start playing."

"You play?" Regina asked, her face lighting up at the idea of Emma's deft fingers playing a soft melody.

"Haven't touched an ivory key in years, but I still remember the first time how good it felt to finally be able to play a full tune without hesitation or fumbling - my mother was proud as punch." The captain smiled, her mind clearly far off in another time.

"I bet you could still play if you tried." Regina said gently, giving the captain a warm smile that brought her back easily.

"Maybe." Emma said. "Ah well, what were we talking about?"

"You were teaching me how to man the helm." Regina said.

"Right right." The blonde nodded. "Now, you know the ship moves with the wind caught in the sails."

"I do." Regina nodded. Emma smiled at the look she gave her as she carried on explaining. Regina, of course, had to fight with her own wandering mind at certain points to pay attention - lest Emma's lesson be lost on the deaf ears of a girl who was too busy gazing up at the blonde's perfection under the slowly setting sun.

"So how do you manage a storm?" Regina asked.

"You hold the wheel as firmly as you can, try and keep the ship straight, and pray to the gods." Emma said. "The important thing to keep watch of in a storm is rogue waves. When one comes barreling towards you you gotta make sure your ship faces it head on. It's the best chance you've got. From the back, it might throw your ship to kingdom come and from the sides is how the ship gets rolled over and you and your crew drown."

"Noted." Regina nodded. Emma let out a soft chuckle and threw an arm around Regina's shoulders as Regina held onto the wheel.

"You look good with that wheel in your hands." She said. "You'd make a fine sailor."

"Hmm, well I suppose that's good then, seeing as that's the life I'm looking towards." The brunette smiled up at her and Emma smiled back.

"Aye, I suppose it is then." She said. The breeze blew her hair behind her like a majestic flow of gold as she looked at Regina, the sun reflecting in her eyes that reminded the princess of perfect emeralds, and with the ship moving forward steadily without guidance, Regina lost herself as she gripped Emma's coat by the lapels and pulled her in for a deep kiss. Emma moaned and pulled the brunette closer, ignoring the whistles and hollers from the crew men who were audience to it. Regina let out a girlish giggle when she pulled back, Emma chuckling along with her.

"I'm sorry I just…couldn't resist." The princess said, her breath hot on Emma's lips. The captain licked them to savor the taste of Regina's on them and shook her head.

"Never apologize for kissing me like that love." The blonde said with a grin. Regina bit her lip and smiled back, learning quite quickly that Emma's smile was infectious.

"Cap'n's in high spirits boys!" one of them men called, earning an eye roll from Emma.

"Give us a song Johnny!" Emma shouted off towards him. "Use those lungs for some good."

"Ye heard the cap'n boys!" he said, jumping up on a high crate so his voice would travel as he began to sing. A song about a sailor drinking, Regina rolled her eyes, because of course that's what the cheerful shanties would be about. When she looked back to Emma, the captain had a permanent smirk on her face, looking out to the horizon as she leaned up against the side of the ship.

"What's on your mind?" the brunette asked, getting a one-shoulder shrug as an initial response.

"Not much…it's strange." Emma said.

"What is?" Regina said, stepping closer to the blonde.

"For the first time in years…my mind feels at peace." She said, her smile widening before her eyes landed on Regina, who smile back softly and stepped into her space, her arms sliding around her waist before she gently rested her head on Emma's chest. A gentle hand pushed back a few hairs that had gotten loose from her braid and then soft lips landed on the top of her head before two strong arms wrapped themselves around Regina's shoulders in a warm embrace.

"I love you, Emma." The princess said softly. She felt the captain's arms tighten slightly around her, a cheek pressing against her head as Emma hugged her back.

"I love you too, Regina." She sighed. "I never thought I'd be able to love again…you had to prove me wrong didn't you?"

"I'm glad I did." Regina smiled.

"I am too, love." Emma kissed the top of her head again. "I am too."

The sun had completely set, and they'd just finished dinner, some men sitting around a metal cauldron with a fire isolated in it and having a few drinks while the night shift started their duties. Emma and Regina had taken to spending some 'alone' time in Emma's quarters, and that of course meant that Regina was currently straddling Emma on the bed, back arched as Emma's mouth left several marks on the skin of her neck.

They vaguely remembered hearing footsteps tumbling down the steps above them, but they were paying very little attention, especially when one of Emma's hands was slipping down past the waistband of Regina's trousers and grabbing a handful of firm butt cheek, making Regina moan at the touch.

"Oh, captain." She moaned.

"I like when you moan like that." Emma chuckled, her breath hot against Regina's skin before her other hand slipped up under her shirt and pinched a pert nipple.

"Oh c-"

"Captain! Ah, fuck." Ruby called as she opened the door, startling the both of them (Regina letting out a shocked yelp). Emma, on reflex, turned and threw Regina on the bed to cover her before she turned to glare daggers at Ruby. "Sorry captain."

"How many times have I told you to knock, Lucas?" Emma spat.

"I didsir." Ruby rolled her eyes.

"Oh…" Emma sighed. "Well what is it?"

Ruby held up her spyglass. "Land sir. About 5 leagues away."

"Home?" Emma asked.

"Seems to be so, sir." Ruby said as Emma took the spyglass and exited the room, Ruby right next to her and Regina following her out and up onto the upper deck as soon as she'd righted her clothing. By the time she got up there, Emma was looking into the spyglass out onto the dark horizon.

"Are you alright?" Belle asked the princess. "I heard a yelp."

"Ruby startled us." Regina blushed and thanked the gods for the dark covering it.

"But she knocked." Belle gave her a look. Regina rolled her eyes.

"We were…distracted." She said.

"Oh." Belle gave her a knowing smirk. "I see."

"Hush." Regina chided as Emma put the spyglass down. "Well?"

Instead of answering her, Emma her thumb and middle finger in between her lips and let out a shrill whistle, the wind carrying it over the ship and getting the crew men's attention.

"Hey boys! We'll be home in little over three hours!" she announced, getting cheers and whistles in response. Regina grinned and Belle grabbed her arm excitedly.

"I can't wait to see Abbie again." The younger girl told her. Regina nodded.

"She'll be happy to know her sister's been avenged." She said. "And given the new developments, things should be a lot more…normal, now."

"You're ready to make a home out of that mansion." Belle said.

"I wonder if Emma will let me command a clean up." Regina joked quietly, getting a giggle from Belle, the princess pulled her out of the captain and first mate's ear shot before she lowered her voice down to a soft whisper. "And let's not forget the books we found. When you can, bring them up to my room, better we talk in there."

"Will you stay in that room on your own now that you and Emma have…well…you know…" Belle shrugged. Regina shrugged back.

"I'm not sure, we share a bed here out of necessity - it's been that way since we met." She said, scratching the back of her neck nervously. "Though truth be told I can't imagine spending a night away from Emma unnecessarily now…we'll worry about that when we get home."

Belle gave her a nod before Emma and Ruby came up to them, handing them a cup each.

"Are we celebrating?" Regina asked.

"Any excuse to drink is a good one." Ruby shrugged. Belle scoffed and took the cup before she leaned over and kissed Ruby's cheek, the first mate thanking the gods for the lack of light as her cheeks burned a bright red.

"So, what's the first order of business when we get home?" Regina asked, a smile towards Emma.

"Get some proper sleep in a bed that doesn't move." The blonde chuckled.

"Or at least, it doesn't when you're sleeping." Ruby joked, Regina's cheeks tinting pink at the suggestion.

Three hours later, the bell broke the silent rhythm of the ship. The quiet, peaceful, repetition of the waves crashing against the ship, it's woods creaking with every move, the muttered conversations among men that were deemed silent by the soft breeze that filled the sails and kept the flag billowing. The spell that Regina and Emma were under as they kept each other company while Emma manned the helm was suddenly broken by the ringing of a joyous bell.

"Land Ho!" the man ringing the bell cried. Emma pulled out her spyglass from her pocket and extended it, looking straight forward before a smirk graced her face.

"Home?" Regina asked.

"Port is a few minutes away." Emma said, releasing the wheel and turning to her, pulling her in by her waist, getting Regina to release a surprised but happy squeal.

"Glad to be home?" Regina asked with a smile.

"Always love." Emma said, leaning down and kissing her softly. "You know you might find this funny but…I hated sailing before I became a pirate. Every time I used to go on a ship I used to get seasick."

Regina covered her mouth to stifle a laugh, trying to picture Emma barking out orders while vomiting over the side of the ship.

"So you don't actually enjoy being out at sea then?" she said through a giggle.

"Well you get used to it after a while and you learn to love the smell of the breeze and the wind in your hair." Emma shrugged.

"And the everlasting taste of salt on your lips." Regina licked her lips as if to make her point. "Though to be fair it helps make the rum taste less sour on the initial intake."

Emma chuckled and shook her head before she swept in and lay a kiss on the princess' lips once again, licking the bottom one softly as if to taste them. "Hmm, you make a good point."

"Captain." Ruby approached them and tipped her hand. "Shall I take the helm or do you plan to stand here and make kissy faces at Regina while we crash into port?"

"Well…It is my ship." Emma said in jest before she pulled Regina closer, tickling her subtly to get a giggle out of her before she laughed as well and turned back to kiss her deeply, before Ruby pushed her out of the way to take the helm. Belle chuckling as she stepped up beside her.

"Are we as sickening as that?" Ruby muttered to the younger girl.

"Well I suppose it's a matter of opinion…I think it's sweet…and I've never seen Regina so happy." Belle shrugged. Ruby let out a sigh.

"Yeah, I've never seen Emma smile like that." She said. "I suppose it's good then."

"Mmhm…" Belle leaned over. "And you're just grumpy because you have to man the helm so you can't do that to me."

Ruby was about to protest, but Belle kissed her cheek and her argument died to a muttered grumble.

And indeed as Emma said, a few minutes later they reached port, slowing to a stop as the villagers gathered, cheering and waving at their family and friends as Jack's ship pulled up on the other side of the port pier.

"Jack's got 'is ship back boys!" Regina heard a man cry and jump and cheer as the plank of Emma's ship was lowered to the ground. She heard footsteps behind her and turned to see Emma with a ready smirk on her face.

"I was wondering if perhaps…" the blonde captain bit her lip hesitantly. Regina raised a brow at her and smiled when she suspected what was coming.

"Yes, captain?" she asked, turning fully to the blonde with an expectant look on her face. Emma cleared her throat and held out her hand for Regina to take.

"I was hoping you'd do me the honor of walking off of this ship beside me." She said. Regina's eyes went a little wide, her suspicions, though confirmed, didn't account for Emma to make the offer sound like it were such a big step.

"For all to see?" Regina asked.

"Unless…you're not in agreement." Emma said, her hand wavering. But Regina stepped forward and took it, gently but quickly.

"Emma of course I will." She said, taking the proffered hand and using it to pull the captain closer, kissing her gently on the lips. "I'm honored that you want to let people know what we are."

"You're sure?" Emma asked.

"Are you?" Regina said, clearly blindsiding Emma with the returned question.

"Of course, love." Emma said, a small smile appearing on her face. "I haven't been this happy in years, I want the world to know exactly why that is."

"The world?" Regina teased. Emma shrugged.

"Well at least the people of this cape. Besides, it'll show the other men to stay the hell away from you." The captain said with a chuckle.

"Lest they fall victim to the perils of your jealousy." The princess teased again. Emma shrugged and gave her a soft peck on the lips.

"Indeed." She said, gently taking Regina's hand again. "Shall we then?"


And if a few people had gasped and started whispering among each other as she and Emma walked off the ship - arms linked - she didn't hear them among the cheers of the people who greeted Emma like a hero. Emma shook the hands of the men she could reach and greeted them, clearly glad to be home, and then made a show of kissing Regina on the lips when she had to let her go so that she could speak to Jack, who had just gotten off his own ship.

The princess didn't break out of her reverie until Belle bumped her shoulder from behind.

"Oh." Regina blushed. "I'm assuming you saw that."

"The whole village saw that." Belle teased. "It's alright, Ruby tried to one up you two by dipping me before we kissed, but something tells me no one cares about the obvious public displays of affection."

"You really think so?" Regina asked.

"Regina they're an island of pirates or pirate sympathizers, not to mention the tales the barmaids could tell I'm sure…" Belle rolled her eyes. "It's not that big of a deal."

Regina was about to answer but-

"Belle! Regina!" they heard, looking towards the crowd in the direction of the voice, seeing Abbie push her way through the crowd to run up and hug them both tightly.

"Oh thank the heavens you're all right!" she sighed in relief. "I don't know if I was more worried about you or Jack."

"Well there was a close call or two." Belle sighed.

"I shot a man." Regina shrugged.

"Regina!" Abbie gasped. "What happened?"

"It's a long story but the gist of it is it was him or Emma and I wasn't about to let that happen." Regina said.

"I'm sure." Abbie smirked. "I saw that kiss by the way, both of yours."

"Oh." Belle and Regina blushed a little.

"Oh you two!" Abbie jumped and hugged them again. "I'm so happy for you both!"

"Easy there boys!" Jack said to his men, pulling Abbie's attention towards him and seeing two men carrying a large chest.

"Yes cap'n…of course…" one man said gently, a somber look on his face. "Where should we put her sir?"

Jack sighed and looked at the chest mournfully. "Take 'er to the undertaker. I suppose we'll be making preparations as soon as possible."

"Is…is that?" Abbie said, her hands shaking as they came to cover her mouth. Regina and Belle each put gentle hands on her shoulders as tears sprang into her eyes.

"They found her." Regina said gently. "Thought it was best to bring her over for a proper burial."

"She loved the open seas. She wouldn't have minded being buried there." Abbie wiped at her eyes. "Even as children all she did was watch the ships comin' and goin' and go swimmin' when she could."

"I know I didn't know her Abbie but she sounds like she was very brave." Belle said. "The way she died certainly shows it."

"You're right." Abbie sighed. "She never feared death, she said it's what made life worth livin'…Excuse me girls, I should go talk to my pa."

"Please give him and your mother our condolences…For what it's worth, every man who had a hand in her in her death is rotting in some hell or other." Regina said.

"Thank you, both of you." Abbie gave them each a gentle hug. "I'll see you later at the mansion."

"Let us know if you need anything." Belle offered.

"You're too kind." Abbie said, giving each of their hands a quick squeeze before she left in the direction of her father, who was approaching Jack, his two grandchildren trailing behind him slowly, little Billy Jr. Holding his sister's hand protectively.

"Captain." A man approached Emma, interrupting her way back to Regina and Belle, Ruby in stride with her.

"What is it Horace?" Emma asked. The man took off his hat and bowed his head.

"Beggin' yer pardon sir…but you received a letter early this morning…I left it in your study…it says it's urgent sir…it's from…well…" the man eyed Emma nervously.

"Well spit it out man!" Emma said.

"It's from Lord Nolan sir…" he revealed, Emma's eyes instantly grew twice their size.

"My grandfather?"

Chapter Text

"Emma!" Regina called after her for the umpteenth time as the captain burst into the house and straight into her study. "Oh for the love of the gods, Emma!"

"What?!" Emma barked. Regina raised a brow at her and Emma gulped, calming down immediately. "Sorry love."

"Why are you in a panic over a letter from your grandfather?" the princess asked. The captain sighed.

"Mostly because I thought the old sod was dead for years." She said, turning on her heel and moving to her desk, picking up the letter with the all-too-familiar wax seal on it. She pulled it open, reading the contents twice over, because the first time she did it in a panic.

Dear 'Captain' Swan,

It's come to my attention that you very recently conducted a massacre of Privateers contracted by Queen Cora to deliver bi-monthly supplies of sugar to Misthaven.

In light of this, I kindly request a meeting with you in my Chateau on The White Isle. I pray your memory is strong enough at your age that you remember exactly where it is. Worry not, all I seek is to give you a business proposition I'm sure you will be very interested in.

Given the circumstances, I kindly request you treat the matter as urgent, and come to me within the week.

Safe Journeys,

Your Grandfather.

The signature at the bottom made Emma roll her eyes, crushing the parchment in her hand and tossing it onto her desk.

"What is it?" Regina asked.

"He wants us to go to his chateau and meet him." She said. "He said urgently."

"Captain." Ruby came in. "You wanted to see me?"

"I got a letter from my grandfather." Emma sighed.

"But he's dead." Ruby said.

"My other grandfather." Emma said.

"I thought he was dead too!" Ruby asked.

"Well so did I but the old sod's still kicking." Emma huffed. "He wants us to go to the White Isle!"

"The w-" Ruby's face hardened. "You'd dare step foot there?"

"I don't ever wanna see the place with my own two eyes for the rest of my life, but if he knows where to send the letter then he knows how to get here, and fuck him I wouldn't put it past him to bring his naval dogs here. We can't risk it." Emma sighed.

"Sir I just spoke with Jack and ol' Bill…Sally's funeral is in two days." Ruby said.

"I thought they'd want her buried soon…she's been exposed for far too long - what did the priest say?" Emma asked. Ruby shrugged.

"That the gods would forgive her delayed journey. They want to send out a boat of hay, send her out the way of the sailor." Ruby said. "Abbie said Sally always worshiped the sea god more than anything. She'd want to be buried out at sea."

"And they need the extra day to gather the hay and prepare her…of course." Emma sighed. "Well then old George will have to wait. I have a funeral to attend."

"Should we send a bird with a letter?" Ruby asked.

"Ah let him wait." Emma waved off. "He waited nineteen years to bother telling me he was alive."

"Fair point. So shall I tell the men not to get comfortable? It'll take us three days to reach the white isle, if he wants us within the week we'll have to leave day after the funeral at latest." Ruby said.

"Aye, make sure we're well stocked." Emma nodded. "And make sure the new men know they aren't oath-bound. If they don't wish to be permanent crewmen they don't have to be."

"Aye sir." Ruby nodded. "Anything else?"

"Tell Belle I need to speak to her and Regina together." Emma sighed. Ruby nodded and left the study in silence.

"The name Lord Nolan is not new to me." Regina said, having taken the time to remember. "He's…he's loyal to my mother."

Emma sneered. "He's been playing both sides for years."

"You thought he died in the war." Regina guessed, getting a nod from Emma.

"To be honest, I thought the queen beheaded him for treason." She said. "It's a long story, but technically he should only be loyal to Cora. He's Misthaven through and through, But during the war he secretly paid a crew of men to aid the isles. He tried to stay out of it…I thought maybe Cora found out."

Regina shook her head. "My mother made him governor of the isles because of his long standing history in-"

"Trade with the isles." Emma nodded. "I know."

"I recall somewhere among the family trees of the nobles that he had a son." Regina said. "Your father?"

"Aye." Emma sighed. "Let's not get into that but…"

"Well surely it's good news that you have some family left in the world?" Regina asked. Emma's jaw clenched.

"If he knows where I am and who I am, he can easily tell Cora, or a spy could. It's dangerous." She sighed. "You shouldn't come with me."

"I'll be damned if I let you leave this island without me." Regina said without a second thought. "If I have to wear a mask so be it but…"

"But what Regina?" Emma said, exasperated by her situation. Regina sighed.

"Well…when we arrived I thought maybe we'd get some more time together here before we have to go back out to sea." She admitted, wringing her hands nervously. "It's a slight disappointment that we barely get two days."

Emma looked at her and then stepped out from behind the desk, off the platform and gently taking Regina's hands, kissing each of them gently before looking at her. "I had hoped the same lass. But the fates' games never cease."

"But at least grant me the mercy of not having to sit and wait here alone while you're gone for more than a week. You have a six day journey there and back alone at least." Regina said.

"I won't be staying much too long in between I promise you." Emma said.

"That's irrelevant…I won't let you go without me." Regina said, turning her hands in Emma's to grip them gently in a show of resolve. "Please."

Emma sighed and contemplated for a moment.

"Fine…but you're to keep that bandana on your face at all times unless we're in private, and for the love of the gods don't speak in front of my grandfather." Emma asked. "If he has any inkling of who you are I…Regina I don't trust him."

Regina rolled her eyes. "Emma you don't trust anyone."

"The closer they are to the queen the less I trust them." The captain said. Regina raised her brow and gave her a small smirk.

"Certain exceptions notwithstanding of course." She said teasingly. Emma rolled her eyes.

"Of course." She leaned down and kissed her lips gently. "But I mean it, this is enemy territory and we won't be able to shoot and stab our way off that island if something goes awry."

"Let's make sure it doesn't then." Regina shrugged. "I promise I'll follow your every lead."

"You're a lot more willing to listen to me lately aren't you?" Emma teased. Regina shrugged.

"Well I've found the rewards of listening to you far outweigh the fun I had previously when I didn't." The princess teased back.

"Go unpack your things love." Emma kissed her gently. Regina was about to turn and leave but- "Oh, and one more thing?"

"Yes?" Regina looked at her.

"That coat I gave you…it's yours to keep but…please don't wear it on the White Isle…for all our sakes." Emma said. Regina raised a brow at her.

"You know Emma, one of these days I really hope you'll tell me the whole story of this war." Regina said.

"I hope that one day I'll be able to." Emma sighed. "Until then, please just trust that I'm taking every precaution to keep us all safe."

"You know I'd trust you with my eyes closed Emma." Regina smiled at her. "I wouldn't have followed you into battle if I didn't."

Regina left before Emma could respond, leaving the captain to wallow in her own thoughts as she went to unpack the chest that had been brought up to her room. She opened the chest to put away her clothes, but as she picked up a shirt, she heard a soft thumping of something falling out from among it. She looked down and found her journal, picking it up and sifting through to the first page. The date when Emma sacked Maurice's ship still struck a chord deep in her bones, and it wasn't just because it was so close to the day of her birth either. She knew she was born just a hair's breadth away from the war, her mother always told her to thank her lucky stars she didn't have to live through it. Once in the midst of an argument, Cora had told her she should thank the gods she even survived it. As she learned more about the war and how tremulous it was, she thought perhaps Cora meant that being pregnant in a time of war was quite a burden to bear, and that something could have easily happened, but she'd been blessed to live regardless. And of course back then she still thought it was her mother who was under attack, and not the other way around. She rolled her eyes, closing the journal and stepping across the room to put it away in the drawer of her writing desk.

She put her clothes away peacefully, trying to keep her mind off the overwhelming details of how Emma's life and hers are tied, in one way or another. If she was the daughter of a Misthaven lord, she would have a place at court. If the marriage tied Misthaven and the Isles together…

Her monologue was interrupted by a knock on her door at a rhythm and strength that had become familiar to her.

"Come in Belle." She said, closing her wardrobe as she heard the door behind her open and shut quickly.

"I have the books." Belle said. "And Emma asked to see me later, what's that about?"

"She received a letter." Regina sighed. "From Lord Nolan."

"You mean governor Nolan?" Belle asked. "George Nolan?"

"Belle, he's her grandfather, I just found out. Her father was his son." Regina informed her. "Her mother must have been a noble of the isles, or from a wealthy family. Their marriage must have been some kind of political alliance."

"A political alliance your mother destroyed when she waged war." Belle sighed. "And…Don't the Nolans have a distant claim to the throne?"

"Oh gods." Regina sighed. "If her mother was nobility…if she was any kind of royalty their union could have been seen as a threat to my mother's reign."

"A reign she's always been proud of…hellbent on keeping." Belle sighed. "But that's all just hypothetical, we don't know who her mother was. For all we know she could have been the daughter of a man who could secure a better trade route for Lord Nolan."

"Something about the date of when she sacked your father's ship worries me Belle." Regina said. "My mother once said I could have lost my life in the war but I was born after it ended. Any sympathizers against my mother's crown would have been executed for treason. And with a sea and the palace fortifications between me and any of them…why was she so worried about my life?"

"Gods know what your mother had up her sleeve…the war was before either of our time Regina. Only those who lived it know the truth." Belle said.

"You mean Emma and my mother." Regina sighed. "Well…there could be one other person who knows the truth…where are the books?"

"Here." Belle pulled the books out of her satchel and handed them to Regina. She moved from the formally published one to the leather journal, untying it's binds and opening it.

"A History of The Celestial Isles." Regina read aloud. "Unpublished and hidden from the world…gods know what happened to the person who wrote this book."

"I sifted through it quickly to see how far it goes…there's details of the war in it. It goes on till just before the end of the war. And then there's a note from the writer…he was killed for treason for writing this book but he had hidden it away before anyone could find it. The privateers must have ransacked his home and found it and kept it hidden." Belle shrugged. "I don't know why they would, being loyal to your mother."

"Because they were just doing it for money. They owed her nothing. Maybe they thought the book would lend them a pretty penny on the black market. That's irrelevant, it's ours now." Regina waved off.

"There's…some kind of family tree in the beginning, I didn't look at it for too long, I didn't want anyone to see me with it." Belle said. "It's on the first pages."

Regina flipped the title page over and then another - a brief note from the author one would read before reading the book had it ever been published, and came upon a family tree that was drawn over two pages.

"This dates back over two centuries." Regina said. "If Governor Nolan's son is in here it'll take some sifting."

She flipped another page and raised a brow when her eyes fell to the name 'King Leopold.'

"King Leopold had a daughter…of course, the last person to reign on the Celestial throne was a queen." Regina read aloud. Her hands trailed the line going down from the one joining king Leopold to queen Ava and down to the name of their daughter. "Snow White."

"It's a lovely name isn't it? Snow." Belle shrugged. "Though strange I suppose."

"Hmm, well sometimes a unique name brings something fresh to a royal bloodline." Regina said idly.

"You are the first Regina in yours." Belle said pointedly. Regina gave her a smirk before turning back to the book.

"Belle." She froze. Belle came up to her and looked at the book in her friend's hand.

"What is it?" she said, following the lines where Regina pointed.

"Snow White's husband." Regina said. "Was lord David Nolan."

"Their daughter." Belle pointed at the book. "Emma White."

"The royal family's name, if the father is not of the royal bloodline, any heirs take the royal name." Regina said.

"Emma…but her name isn't White." Belle said.

"If you were a pirate wanted by the crown would you keep your name?" Regina said.

"You're not saying what I think you're saying." Belle said. "Emma is quite a common name, Regina."

"Perhaps you're right, but how many lord Nolans can there be?" Regina sighed, shutting the book and throwing it onto her writing desk in frustration. It hit the edge, but flipped over and landed on the floor with a thud, some kind of paper falling out of it.

"What's that?" Belle asked, moving over and picking it up. She turned it over and her eyes went wide. "Regina you may want to see this."

"What is it?" Regina said.

"It's a small canvas portrait." Belle said, handing it to her. Regina took it and flipped it over. It was a portrait of a girl, not too much younger than she was. She wore fine clothing - regal, in fact, and bore a tiara on her head, which was covered in long, flowing, blonde curls. And her eyes were an almost piercing emerald green. Her features were undeniable, and made Regina's blood run cold.

The name under the portrait made it impossible to deny any longer.

Princess Emma White, heir to the throne of The Celestial Isles.

"It's true." Regina's voice went thick with emotion. "Emma is the rightful queen of the Isles."

Chapter Text


"Emma is the rightful queen of the Isles."

Belle had seen Regina go through many sad moments, the death of her father being the most tragic of them all.

But when Regina let out a strangled sob, and crumbled to the floor on her knees, Belle was shocked to say the least - she'd ever seen Regina break like that before. She rushed to her side, wrapping her arms around the older girl as she buried her head in her friend's chest.

"Regina?" Belle asked, trying to get through to the sobbing girl. "Regina what's wrong?"

"She ruined her life Belle." Regina sniffled, wiping the tears from her eyes and cheeks - tinting them red in the process. "She had a kingdom. A throne and a crown set to be on her head and she ripped that away from her along with her entire life and her family."

"Regina you need to calm down." Belle sighed, holding the other girl close. "We can't let Emma know we know all this."

"It all makes sense." Regina sighed. "Why she wouldn't tell me. Why the people here treat her like royalty…because she isor at least she should be if it weren't for my mother's hunger for power."

"Perhaps that's why Cora didn't want you coming." Belle suggested.

"Of course." Regina wiped her eyes with her sleeve. "Never mind my safety, she didn't want me finding out what she's really done. How she ruined the life of a girl who at the time wasn't much younger than I was."

"Regina I know you're upset but you need to keep a level head." Belle said. "You can't tell Emma you know."

"Why not?" Regina asked.

"Because she's spent almost twenty years hiding her identity from the world." Belle said.

"Everyone on this island knows who she is, everyone who's lived through the war anyway." Regina said.

"We can't know that for sure. Everyone addresses her as 'Captain.' Maybe they know she's noble but…Regina even in Misthaven not everyone would know if you're the princess. The poorer classes don't see portraits of you, that's probably true here as well. And if it isn't gods know what her reaction will be to us snooping around and gathering information on her." Belle reasoned out. "We can't tell her."

"And now we're off to meet her grandfather in a couple of days." Regina sighed, scoffing. "He's gained from this war and watched while his only granddaughter suffered terrible losses."

"Regina if your mother were to ever find her…she'd kill her." Belle said. "She's still of royal blood, there are still many who are loyal to her, war or no war. People knowing she's alive could very well incite revolution."

"And my mother wouldn't rest until Emma was dead." Regina dropped her head in her hands. "Is it bad that I regret wanting to know so badly who Emma really is?"

"Wanting to know the story of the woman you love is only natural…but perhaps everyone is better off not knowing." Belle suggested. "Emma seems quite happy just by having you around…does it really make a difference if she's royal or not?"

"Of course not." Regina said. "But I…we could have…Belle if she were a princess or a queen right now…We'd have a chance."

"You do have a chance. On this island and away from your mother's tyranny." Belle said with a smile. "Regina you never asked to be a princess, all you want is to stay with the woman you love, that's all I want to. If Emma can hide away for nearly twenty years and live a simple life on the high seas, what makes you think we can't?"

"Emma didn't have a choice." Regina said.

"But we do. And I for one am not willing to let Ruby go simply because the rest of the world says I should." Belle held Regina's shoulders gently. "None of this matters. You being a princess, Emma being the rightful queen…it doesn't matter as long as you're both happy together."

"You're right. There's nothing I can do about it anyway." Regina sighed. "Not while my mother is alive."

"What are you saying?" Belle asked.

"That I'll live my life with Emma and wait, and then when my mother draws her last breath I'll take my place on her throne and give Emma her kingdom back. Unite our nations the right way, and not through some horrible war." Regina said. "In the meantime I live my life with the woman I love."

"Sounds like a good plan." Belle smiled, pulling her friend in for a hug.

"In the meantime, Emma wants us to lie low when we go see her grandfather. Keep our bandannas on and be quiet. She doesn't want us to get recognized, but she should tell you all this herself later." Regina informed her.

"Okay." Belle nodded, looking at Regina for a moment. "So is that it then? The end of our investigation?"

"We found out who Emma is…we found out as much as we can about the war." Regina sighed. "I'm tired of keeping secrets from Emma. I won't tell her about this of course but, now it's time to live our lives with the women we love Belle. We finally have the freedom we dreamed of as children - no rules, no social obligations. Just us and them and the high seas."

Belle smiled at her. "I like the sound of that."

"Just lie low, I promise we won't be on the White Isle for long, I don't exactly have the fondest memories of the place, and it's crawling with Cora's soldiers. So we go in, talk whatever business old George seems to deem so important, and then get out. Something tells me his offer won't be as enticing as he believes." Emma explained to Belle, Regina standing beside her friend, a small smile on her face as she watched Emma explain the situation with a commanding stance.

"Yes captain." Belle nodded. "And in the meantime?"

"Prepare what you feel you'll need. It'll be a six day journey there and back. Longest you both have been out at sea for one trip." Emma said with a smirk.

"Good thing neither of us get sea sick, right captain?" Regina teased. Emma rolled her eyes.

"Off with you both, I've got work to do." The blonde waved off.

"I should go find Ruby." Belle said.

"You do that." Regina smiled at her, her voice lowering in volume. "I need to have a talk with Emma."

"Just make sure you take it behind closed doors if the conversation turns physical, don't want to give the crew a show." Belle teased.

"Get out." Regina nudged her, getting Belle to giggle as she left the captain's study. When Regina looked over to Emma, she was still standing, but hunched over her desk, looking at her documents with a quill in her hands. It was late, and she knew from what she'd overheard the crewmen saying that a lot of people were at the tavern, perhaps hoping to thank the captain for what she'd done. But Emma seemed to be thinking about business…and here Regina stood, nervous to speak to her about a certain detail regarding their relationship.

"Something on your mind love?" Emma asked, looking up from her desk at the way Regina paced around nervously, unsure of how to broach the subject.

"Just..." Regina gave her a small smile and naturally gravitated toward her. "I'm just wondering about something really."

"Care to share?" Emma said with a smirk. Regina bit her lip and Emma stood up straight, putting her quill down before she stepped off the platform her desk sat on. It felt almost symbolic to Regina. Off that platform she wasn't captain Swan. She was Emma, the same sweet blonde who she'd shared that wonderful moment with the night before.

"What is it Regina?" She asked, stepping up to her and gently taking her hand.

"It's probably silly but..." Regina gently played with Emma's fingers to distract her nerves. "I was wondering if perhaps there would be any new...sleeping arrangements?"

It took Emma a second to catch on, but when she did a small smirk graced her face.

"Forgive me love, I didn't even think of that." She said, pulling Regina closer and caressing her cheek gently with the back of her fingers.

"You have a lot on your mind most of the time, but I can't even think of spending another night without you...not now that we've been honest with each other about our feelings." Regina melted into Emma's touch.

"The feeling is mutual, love." Emma smiled at her gently. "I'm sorry I didn't think of it earlier."

"It's okay." Regina smiled at her.

"You can have your things moved to my room immediately if you'd like." The blonde said, cupping her cheek gently. "And please don't think you have to be nervous about talking to me about things like this Regina…I know we've had our differences in the past love, and I know I wasn't the most hospitable person at the beginning. But now I assure you things have changed. I don't feel the need to distance myself as I did before. And I know I captain the crew you're technically part of now but Regina make no mistake. I love you as my equal, even if you are technically my princess."

Emma gave her a mirthful smirk and Regina rolled her eyes.

"Shall I address you as captain then, or your highness?"

It was a joke from the younger girl's end, but not a very well thought out one, as Emma's eyes left hers as they dropped to the floor for a moment, the mirth gone.

Oh …right.

Regina bit her lip, feeling guilty for bringing up unwanted memories for the blonde. She stepped forward, taking Emma's hands gently in hers and pulling them up to her lips and pressing two soft kisses, one to each hand.

"Or shall we both toss away our titles? Because as romantic as the idea of royalty might seem, as adventurous as the notion of piracy seems from the outside looking in, it isn't who we truly are is it?" she said.

"What do you mean?" Emma asked softly, a slight hint of fear in her eyes.

Gods if she knew that I knew

"I mean that…the only thing my title gives me is the weight of the world on my shoulders, a future I was given without asking, a long history of being stripped of choice and being told what I must do, what I must say, how to dress…how to walk even. Like the most basic things cease to be basic when the title of princess sits on one's head in the form of a tiara." Regina explained. "And you…being captain gives you so much worry and strife…you have a whole different world on your shoulders but I don't believe it's any lighter in weight than the one I carry. You have men's lives and livelihoods in your hands and when you step onto that ship of yours with all your friends and crewmates you're never sure if all of them will arrive home in one piece. You were stripped of your life in the most cruel of ways and you try so hard to keep on going for the sake of the people of this Cape. Ultimately as wonderful and exciting our titles seem…the truth is far from that. But I don't love Captain Swan…I love Emma. The woman under the hat and coat that make you seem so dominant and commanding. Can you say that my title as princess makes any difference to how you feel about me?"

Emma shook her head. "Regina you could have been the lowest of the low-born. It's your spirit I fell in love with. The girl who refused to stop asking questions. The one who challenged my every move and nearly killed herself insisting she try my pipe."

They both let out a soft chuckle at that and Emma was finally smiling again and Regina felt whole again.

"Then let's do away with titles. When we're together they cease to exist. You're Emma, the woman I love. And I'm Regina…the girl who pushed her luck and found joy in you and this whole new world you've introduced her to."

Emma shook her head and cupped both her cheeks in her hands, leaning down to press their foreheads together. Regina followed suit, closing the space between them and wrapping her arms around Emma's neck.

"I love you, Regina." Emma whispered. Regina closed her eyes, basking in Emma's warmth and comfort, her very presence seemingly righting every wrong in Regina's world.

"I love you too Emma."

It took some mild convincing and a five-second puppy dog face, but Regina was able to convince Emma to join the rest of the crew, as well as Ruby and Belle, at the tavern. When they began to approach it, the four of them walking steadily, Emma and Regina's arms linked together, Ruby's arm tossed around Belle's shoulders, they could hear the sound of the musicians playing as loudly as their instruments would allow, the singer yipping halfway through her song happily as they opened the door and entered the humble building.

"Oy everyone!" a man cried, almost on cue. "It's Captain Swan!"

The larger-than-usual crowd cheered in unison, a proverbial roar of joy at the sight of the villagers' supposed savior.

"Looks like they're quite happy to see you." Regina smiled up at her.

"Aye…you'd think we had a wedding in two days as opposed to a funeral." Emma sighed.

"Captain!" a man called, rushing over to her. Before either of them knew it two men joined him, almost hoisting Emma up, an ale stein being pushed into her hands as she was hauled over towards the bar of the tavern.

"Steady on gents." The blonde said, unsure of what was going on. Before she knew it she was being pushed up onto the bar in a standing position.

"Speech sir! Give us a speech!" someone cried.

"Go on sir, let us hear ye!" another said. Emma rolled her eyes as the crowd slowly climbed to a crescendo with their repeated cheering.

"Speech! Speech! Speech!"

"Alright alright!" Emma raised her hands to silence them.

"Silence for the cap'n!" someone shouted. The whole crowd fell dead quiet. It was a marvelous scene, Regina thought, being handed a stein herself as she watched the blonde.

"Before I start folks I think there's something important we all have to do. Hats off everyone." She said, reaching up and taking her own hat off. "A moment of silence, for Sally Moore."

The crowd went even quieter, which Regina didn't think possible until she realized that even the whispering among people in the crowd died off. She could drop a needle a mile off, and it would break the peace that was in this room.

"May her soul find rest and peace, among the heavens and in the light of the gods." Emma carried on. "May her spirit live on in each and every one of us. The bravery of a warrior, the nurture of a mother, and the protectiveness of a wife. May we remember her, not only for who she was but for what she stood for, and what she died for."

She lifted her stein up. "To Sally Moore!"

"To Sally!" the crowd said, again in unison, joined together in a way that not even war could rip apart.

"Tell us about the fight sir! Tell us how you slayed those traitors!" a man said after a moment. Emma smirked at the crowd, who seemed enticed by the idea of a war story.

"Truth is folks, it's the men who stood by my said that did most of the slaying." She said. "I was caught in a battle with a brute carrying an axe as tall as Michael over there."

Regina looked over to where Emma pointed, to a ridiculously tall man who was laughing at the jab.

"You showed 'im not to mess with you I bet eh cap'n?" a man called.

"I stood my ground. I faced him head on, I dodged the bloody axe that's for sure." She said, the crowd loving her story. Regina figured it was common for war stories to go embellished, make the teller seem like a hero. So she wasn't expecting the next line.

"But uh…truth be told he nearly sent me off to whichever hell I'm bound for." Emma said. "He managed to knock me down. Had his boot on my chest, his axe hovering over my head, ready to lop it off with one strike…My head would be sitting on a spike on his ship right now…if it weren't for a very special girl."

"Regina." Belle nudged her, breaking her out of her shock as she stared at the captain. "She's talking about you."

"Who's the girl then cap'n?" a woman called. The princess' eyes met the captain's, and Emma smirked, gesturing with her hand for Regina to come closer.

"What do I do?" Regina whispered to Belle. The younger girl chuckled.

"Uh. Go, obviously." She nudged her forward. "Go on!"

"Uh okay." Regina moved forward nervously, the crowd parting to let her through, a straight aisle being formed as she walked over to Emma. When she got closer to her, Emma crouched, a hand coming down. Regina was hesitant for a moment, but then she took it, all of a sudden being lifted up by two men, one taking a leg each and pushing up to lift her up onto the bar beside her, a beer stein being handed to her again.

"Oh…thank you." She said, smiling nervously as the crowd eyed her with some curiosity.

"This girl, ladies and gents, is the reason I'm still standing here tonight." Emma wrapped an arm around her and held her close to her. "I looked up, saw that brute lift his axe above his head…And I'll be honest, I shut my eyes, and I started to pray to the gods for mercy. And they gave me more blessings than I deserve when they sent this one my way. I hear a gunshot, next thing I know I look up, and the brute crumbles to the floor, this one standing proudly…Gun aimed straight, a smirk on her face like the devil. Pulled me up, dusted me off, and off we went, taking whatever we could find along the way."

Emma mimicked the made-up proud stance that Regina had apparently stood in in the captain's version of the story, fingers held out to mimick a gun.

"Ain't that right lass?" the blonde pulled her close again as everyone looked up at her in awe.

"Uh, didn't I start shaking like a leaf in a wind storm and nearly cried because I killed a man?" Regina muttered quietly over to the captain.

"They don't need to know that." Emma muttered back before speaking to the crowd again. "This lass here is my hero folks, I owe her my life…and so much more."

Regina smiled up at her and Emma looked back, a devilish smirk on her face before she turned fully towards her, wrapping her arms around the princess' waist and dipping her down, kissing her deeply…and very publicly as well.

The room had broken out into a roar of cheers and whistles, but the blood pumping through Regina's ears, a reflection of the way her heart picked up speed at the way Emma kissed her, drowned the noise all out. With her eyes closed and her arms around Emma's neck, the tavern might as well have been empty - it made little difference to her, no one else mattered at that moment.

"She made her a hero." Belle smiled. "Incredible."

"She did more than that love, she won her the love, respect, and protection of the people in this village." Ruby said, smiling over the the younger brunette. "She also staked her claim. Any man touches that girl and they're dead - and no one would try and stop Emma."

"How romantic." Belle chuckled.

"Well it does give one ideas." Ruby said, turning and smiling at Belle, pulling her in by the waist and dipping her.

"Copy cat." Belle teased.

"We can't all come up with bright ideas." Ruby chuckled before she leaned in and kissed her deeply.

Sadly, the kiss between Emma and Regina had to end, and the princess finally registered the cheering.

"What's your name then lass?" a man called over to her.

"Regina…uh…" Her last name, of course, would be a death sentence.

"Regina Mills." Emma said. "Miller's daughter off of Misthaven - and a spunky one too - caught her stowing away on a ship here hoping to rob 'em blind and run away when they made port."

The blonde pulled her in rather roughly, laughing like it was the best thing she'd ever heard, a few men laughing with her.

"Well then, three cheers for Regina Mills!" A man cried, his stein up. "Hip hip!"


Chapter Text

The morning had turned out beautifully, without a single cloud in the sky above as the entire village gathered along the coast of the isle, the high priest dressed in his ceremonial garb while the rest of the villagers showed up in the most respectful clothing they had. Regina, for the particular event, had worn one of her black coats. To her surprise, so did Emma, out of the usual blood-red coat she'd become so accustomed to seeing, the captain donned a full black coat, shorter in length than the red one which reached down to halfway down her calves, this one stopped at the knee, and had silver trimmings instead of gold.

Even Ruby, who usually held no ceremony in her clothing, showed up looking her best. It wasn't until they'd seen the way the two pirates interacted with another when they saw each other that morning that Regina and Belle realized just how much they must have been mourning their friend.

Regina and Belle stood beside Ruby and Emma at the front of the crowd, along with Granny, who stood right beside Sally's parents and Abbie, followed by Jack, little Billy, and Suzie, a young girl who couldn't be older than six or seven, and had freckles and dark blonde hair that reminded Regina of Abbie. She wondered the two sisters looked anything alike, a sighed in a silent moment of sadness when she realized she'd never be able to see with her own eyes. That was the thing about death, she figured, even if you didn't know the person enough to mourn them, you'd mourn the loss of the chance to do so.

"And so it is time that with a heavy heat we send Sally Riley Moore off, unto her final journey. We pray her soul finds peace in the embrace of the gods as her heart found peace on the seas as she travelled." The priest recited, loud enough for all to hear. He began reciting a prayer when suddenly, Emma and Ruby moved, stepping forward, along with Jack and Bill Riley, towards the boat made of hay tied with twine that held Sally's body.

"What are they doing?" Regina asked towards Belle.

"Jack and Ol' Bill asked Ruby and Emma to be the other two bearers, they needed two more people and, well, they were the first two people they could think of." Granny whispered over with a shrug. "Last honour anyone can give to anyone - to carry them off for the last time."

"Oh." The princess said.

The four bearers lifted the hay boat, which so far had been sitting on the shore, resting it on their shoulders as they stepped into the water and placed it down on the surface, casting it off towards the horizon as the priest finished his prayer.

The captain and quartermaster walked sombrely back towards the girls, taking their hats off with the rest of the villagers as they watched the boat float away steadily, carried by the light breeze.

"Now the hay will soak up with water, and that, plus the weights on her body will be too heavy to float. And in a few hours she'll be at the bottom of the sea…" Emma explained softly to the princess.

"The send off she wanted, I suppose." Regina said. She reached over, placing her hand gently on Emma's, which were clasped behind her back. "Emma…I'm sorry."

"You didn't know the woman and you still risked your life to avenge her, because of what she meant to me and Ruby and Abbie. That's the greatest condolence you could ever give." The blonde's hands came loose and one gently wrapped itself around the princess'. Emma turned and gave her a small smile as the hand holding hers loosened and an arm came up around her shoulder, pulling her closer. "And I love you for it, and so much more."

Regina smiled, turning her head and pressing it into Emma's shoulder for a moment in their embrace. "I love you too Emma…and for the record, I'll always risk my life for anything that means anything to you."

"Mmhm." Emma smirked. "I don't know if you sound like a princess or a pirate right now."

"Funnily enough, I'm both." Regina whispered, getting a look from Emma that was much less a glare and more of a plea to not make her laugh at a funeral.

"Folks." Bill Riley's voice interrupted the silence. "Thank ye all for comin' it means a lot to me and my family…now Granny Lucas 'as been kind enough to host a wake at the tavern, yer all welcome of course. Let's drink and play some music…good ol' Sally'd 'ave a cuss or two for all of us if we were to just sit 'n' mope about 'er passin' on. Let's not disappoint 'er shall we?"

Most of the people in the crowd had a chuckle or two as people started heading up the coast towards the tavern.

"C'mon, I'll buy us all a drink." Emma said, leading the four of them along.

"Oh good, I was worried I wouldn't get to taste rum today." Regina joked.

"Pfft, that'd be a cold day in hell." Belle rolled her eyes, nudging Ruby's side. "Especially with this one in the room."

"Hey!" Ruby said, her flask a few inches away from her mouth. Belle cocked her brow and looked from the pirate to the flask and back, and Emma and Regina laughed at the poor brunette pirate's luck.

The next morning, Regina awoke in a bed, and a room, that felt unfamiliar even before she opened her eyes. She turned on her back, yawning and stretching her arms out, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes as she sat up in the large bed with soft cotton sheets, looking around the room. It was definitely much larger than hers - about as long as it as wide, and it seemed to be as wide as the whole of the mansion. The foot of the bed faced the door from across the room, a white double-door. That's when Regina's orientation of the house kicked in, because she'd seen that door before, only from the outside. This was Emma's room. Of course, she'd come in here with Emma last night, fully intent on falling asleep…but then they'd started kissing and ended up getting lost in the throes of passion.

A sudden sense of washed over her like the warmth one experienced when a fur blanket was draped over their shoulders on a cold night, now that she knew exactly where she was and had a rough idea of what happened last night. A few memories came flooding back of the night before, Of her and Emma sitting along with a crew of men, sitting around a bonfire on the same coast where they'd sent Sally off. The men had been singing songs, and Jack had suggested one that had been Sally's favourite. It was a sad shanty to be honest, about a man dreaming of his departed wife. It had brought tears to Jack's eyes…and when she looked over, she could see it had done the same to Emma. It was strange, seeing the stoic, fearsome Queen of the seas looking so mournful.

Queen of the seas …more like Queen of the Isles.

Regina sighed, falling back onto the pillows as she registered the mild throbbing in her head.

Pirates and their drink. They 're either going to make me immune to the effects of rum…or kill me in the attempt…

A soft knocking broke her internal monologue and she looked up, pulling the sheets up around her tightly because she was still bare as the day she was born underneath them - Probably Emma's doing she thought with a smirk, a slight throbbing soreness between her legs confirming her delicious suspicions.

"Come in." She called to whoever was knocking. She thought perhaps it would be Abbie, probably bringing her breakfast or fresh clothing at Emma's behest.

"Oh come on, you old fuckin'-"

Or Perhaps notRegina realized at the cursing. Suddenly the door swung open rather roughly, revealing Emma as she stood there, leg up because she'd just kicked the door open, a silver tray in her hands.

"Uhm…Good morning." The captain said rather sheepishly.

"Good morning…was this your attempt at gracefully surprising me with breakfast?" Regina teased.

"I can hold my own in a fight just fine but balancing anything on a tray remains a challenge." Emma chuckled. "But…I thought it'd be nice for us to have breakfast together…just us."

"And the only way to ensure no one barges in is by hiding away in your bedchamber." Regina nodded.

"Well there's no other place for two newlyweds to spend their first morning together." Emma shrugged.

"I'm sorry…what?" Regina asked.

"You don't remember? We had the ceremony last night…Oh sure we'd both had a couple of drinks in us but I asked and you said yes and the high priest was more than happy to…" Regina's face went white - her skin matching the sheets that were wrapped around her, but Emma's lips twitched as she tried to hold in a laugh - and then failed rather loudly.

"You're cruel." Regina accused as Emma moved closer to set the tray down on the night-stand beside the princess.

"You didn't think me cruel last night." She said, sitting beside Regina on the edge of the bed. The princess rolled her eyes.

"I was drunk, my powers of judgement were distorted." She teased as Emma leaned in a pressed a soft kiss on her lips. "Mmh…gods…remind me never to drink so much again, my head feels like what I imagine a cannon ball feels just after it's been fired."

"That's rather specific." Emma chuckled, reaching over to the tray and picking up the teapot, carefully pouring a tea of fragrant herbs out into the cup, placing the teapot back down and taking the cup and saucer, handing it to Regina. "Here, this will help."

"Thank you." Regina said with a smile as she took the cup and saucer.

"You were quite the celebrity last night." Emma said. "Pretty sure everyone in the tavern bought you at least one drink, some even two."

"Well I suppose when the hero of the village hails you her savior that's to be expected…why did you do it by the way?" Regina asked as she took a sip of her tea.

"What do you mean?" Emma asked.

"The night we came back, at the tavern…You told everyone I was the one who saved you." Regina pointed out, not that she needed to.

"It was the truth wasn't it?" Emma shrugged.

"For the most part. You embellished the bit where I damn near fainted at the sight of blood…not to mention the fact that everyone expected you to be the hero who annihilated those privateers. So why did you tell them you'd be dead if it weren't for me?" Regina asked bluntly again. "So far all you've told me to do is to lay low, keep my head down and not draw any attention to myself…now you're getting ma hailed a hero and…well it goes without saying that that kiss caught quite a few people's attention."

Emma nodded, understanding what Regina meant and why she was asking, and gave her a small shrug. "Thing is, love, before a few nights ago, I didn't know you'd be staying. Before we…well…you know…"

"Pulled our proverbial heads out of our asses." Regina elaborated, getting Emma to chuckle.

"Well put. Yes, before then, I thought you'd be going home. Back to Misthaven I mean. And when that was true, keeping your head down and not drawing attention to yourself was the best course of action." The captain explained, a small smile taking over her features. "But as we both know, plans change. And so we had to adjust our course accordingly. Now not only do the villagers know who you are - or at least they think they do - but they know you're loyal to our cause, not your queen, and that I trust you enough to let you into my heart, not just my crew and my home."

"And the fact that you got to kiss me in front of the whole village was just…a fringe benefit?" Regina teased. Emma shrugged non-chalantly.

"I'll take what I can get." She chuckled.

"Fair enough." Regina said, putting her cup down on the tray beside her and shifting forward a little. "I think you might get a little something now if you come closer."

"Oh is that so?" Emma raised a brow and smirked at her.

"Mmmhm…try it." Regina challenged. Emma leaned forward, inching closer slowly before their lips finally met and she kissed the brunette soundly. Regina's hands gently cupped the captain's cheek and the back of her neck to bring her closer, deepening the kiss as one hand moved slowly up into her hair.

A knock on the door.

"Fuck." Emma sighed. "Not my chambers…they're not supposed to come to my fucking chambers."

She'd shouted the last bit in a frustrated huff as she swiftly got up and swung the door open, finding Ruby there, leaning against the side of the door, looking unimpressed with Emma's show of rage.

"I wouldn't have to come to your fucking chambers if you were downstairs getting ready for the journey like you should be doing…captain." She answered.

"Watch your fuckin' mouth." Emma rolled her eyes. "The fuck do you want?"

"You're using that word a lot…something on your mind?" the first mate teased.

"Answer me, Lucas." Emma glowered at her. Ruby took her turn to roll her eyes at the grumpy captain.

"Granny's brought the food, figured you'd want to do that pedantic list thing before we crate it up and haul it onto the ship." The first mate said.

"The pedantic list thing? Oh. You mean that thing that keeps my men from stealing more than they're allowed to have each night and keeps us from starving to death on the open seas as a result?" Emma said.

"Gods, it's up there deep today, is it captain?" Ruby asked with a smirk.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Just the stick that's permanently embedded in your arse-hole. Sir." Ruby flicked the tip of her hat in a lazy salute. From behind the captain, Regina covered her mouth and a snort slipped out as she tried not to laugh, getting Emma to turn and give her an incredulous look. She turned again when she heard Ruby stepping away and slapped the hat off her head.

"Oy!" the first mate's complaint was muffled the door sound of the door slamming shut.

"She's become a lot more annoying since Belle's been teaching her better vocabulary." Emma huffed.

"Well at least if someone's going to insult you they have the decency to use a vocabulary suited to your rank and station." Regina teased.

"You're not helping." Emma complained.

"You're not close enough for me to help." The princess said. Emma lofted a brow and looked at her, but it fell when she saw the 'come-hither' look Regina was giving her, a seductive smile on her face and her hooded eyes fluttering.

"You little minx…" Emma smirked, stepping forward.

"Don't take too long captain, lest one of your men steal a loaf of bread." Regina teased.

"I'll cut the bastard's hand off if I have to." Emma chuckled as she straddled the princess on the bed.

"Mmm, give him a hook to replace it?" Regina joked, plucking Emma's hat off her head and placing it on her own. Emma leaned in and shut Regina up in the best way possible - by kissing her passionately enough to take her breath away, her hands eagerly trailing over the sheet that covered the princess' bare body, gripping it to pull it away and finally reveal-

Bang bang bang the door shook violently.

"Emma Swan you get your fuckin ass down here and count this food, I have a tavern to run and I'm not dying of old age waitin' on you to have your nookie with your sweetheart! Now open this gods-damned door, I'm not gettin' any younger!" Granny's angry voice came from behind the door. Emma sighed in defeat, reaching up and snatching her hat off of Regina's hat.

"You're not supposed to come to my fucking chambers!she shouted in frustration, throwing the door open and storming out of the room in a huff, leaving Regina to push the stray hairs out of her face and try very hard not to laugh at her captain's plight.

"The hell are you smirkin' at missy?" Granny said to her, looking into the room from the doorway.

"Nothing Granny." She said, trying to keep a straight face.

"Eat your damned breakfast and put some clothes on…still in bed at this time of the day honestly, the hell d'you think you are, some kind of princess?" the old woman complained. She walked away too fast to see Regina's reaction, and the young brunette was thankful, because as soon as the innkeeper was out of earshot, she stuffed her face into a pillow and burst into a fit of giggles.

She arrived at the dock, fully dressed and already packed for the journey, to see Emma and Ruby overseeing the stocking of the cargo.

"Morning captain." Regina said with a smirk.

"Mornin'" Emma said, engrossed in her list.

"Pssht, the girl puts on clothes and you completely lose interest." Ruby teased, looking over to where Belle was carrying a box that looked heavy and jogged off to help her.

"Hmm?" Emma looked from a retreating Ruby to her other side, where Regina stood with an amused smile on her face. "Oh…there you are lass."

"Have been, love." Regina teased. "But you seem really interested in your list all of a sudden."

"A week's journey requires a lot more preparation than a two-day journey love." Emma sighed. "And we haven't had the amount of time I would have liked for it."

"Emma." Regina said, a hand going on the blonde's forearm gently. "Are you nervous?"

"I'm…" the captain sighed. "I'm not nervous…just…anxious."

"Yes the difference between the two is as different as heaven and hell." The princess rolled her eyes.

"It's not about seeing the old sod again." Emma said. "It's the isle. It's crawling with enemies."

"But with he governor's invitation to come and go in peace, they can't touch you." Regina said.

"I know…but your mother's army isn't always one to stick by the rules…I learnt that the hard way." Emma sighed. Regina bit her lip and looked down for a second.

"We can take them if we need to." Regina said.

"That's what worries me - needing to." Emma sighed. Regina took a step closer, a hand going up to the captain's shoulder and a kiss landing on her cheek.

"You worry too much, love." She said.

"I find it's the best tactic towards staying alive." Emma said pointedly. Regina chuckled.

"In my experience, it's making sure your gun's within reach and loaded." She said.

"You killed one man love, don't get cocky about your gun." Emma chuckled.

"Only if you promise to stop worrying so much." Regina smiled at her. The blonde rolled her eyes and raised a brow at her.

"Fine." She said. Regina's smile grew into a grin and she kissed her cheek.

"Thank you love…now make me useful." She said. "How can I help?"

"Take your things to my quarters and-"

"Our." Regina corrected.

"What?" Emma asked.

"Our quarters, I believe." Regina smirked at her. "This is the third time I'm sharing that room with you and now that I'm staying I'll safely assume that will be a permanent fixture on any journey we go on."

"Alright." Emma smirked back, leaning in and giving her a soft kiss on the lips. "Take your things to our quarters and unpack."

"I'm sure there's some way I can be of actual use." Regina said. Emma chuckled.

"Well…you could clean the cannons." She teased.

"Be serious." The princess rolled her eyes.

"Swab the deck?" the captain smirked.

"Emma…" Regina warned. Emma stepped closer and wrapped an arm around Regina's waist, pulling her in closer.

"Or you could go and unpack and then come below deck and help with the final count." She said. "It'll certainly be refreshing to have someone else do the writing for once."

"I can do that." Regina smiled at her. "In fact I can help you with any writing you need from now until I take my last breath."

He blonde gave her a warm smile, leaning in and kissing her on the lips softly. "There's not that much cargo love."

"Terrible." Regina slapped her shoulder playfully while Emma chuckled.

"Go on, I'll meet you below deck." The captain said, releasing the princess so that she could go.

It took them three hours to finally count all the cargo, but Regina didn't mind, in fact she barely felt time passing at all as she worked with Emma, document and quill in hand as she watched the pirate move through the process of counting all the cargo.

Emma, on her part, found that the job was much more enjoyable when she had her favorite companion along with her.

"Did you really have to doodle all over the page love?" Emma laughed as they walked off the ship together.

"They're hearts!" Regina said like that mattered. "It'll remind you which document was the first one you let me handle."

"Yes, shall I frame it as well?" Emma teased. Regina feigned offence and slapped her shoulder lightly.

"You be careful now captain, a week is a long time for you to have to go without." She teased. "Especially since you've been unable to keep your hands off of me since we started our newest adventure."

"Oh, that's a dangerous threat to make love." Emma smirked at her. "You know we pirates are persistent about our treasure."

"Perhaps I should make you work for it then, to prove yourself." Regina said.

"Oh? And how do you propose you'd do that?" Emma asked with a quirk of her brow. Regina smirked at her, stepping closer. She pulled Emma in by the lapels of her coat and brought her close, pressing their bodies together until the only space left between them was half an inch between their lips.

"Catch me." She whispered. Suddenly, the rolled-up document in Emma's hand was snatched away and Regina took off on a mad sprint.

"Oy!" Emma cried, an amused smile taking over her face before she took off behind the younger girl. "Get back here!"

"Put some good ol' pirate persistence into it captain!" Regina teased, running off the dock and past the tavern, Emma on her heels. She rounded the corner, slipping into the space between the tavern and the general goods store. When Emma rounded the corner after her, she arrived in time to see Regina collide with someone's back and fall to the ground with a thump on her ass.


"Oy!" the person she crashed into complained. Regina looked up in time to see Ruby giving both her and the captain an odd look, Belle looking equally surprised and…flushed. "What are you two doing?"

"Just messin' around." Emma said, coming up to Regina and giving her a hand to help her up. "You alright love?"

"Fine…what are you two doing?" Regina gave her best friend a suspect smirk as she narrowed her eyes, catching sight of a red mark on Belle's neck.

"I…we…" Belle blushed.

"Ah fuck, we didn't think we'd have time to go back to the house." Ruby sighed.

"In public?" Regina asked her best friend with a shocked grin. "Belle!"

"It was Ruby's idea." Belle blushed brighter. "I just…agreed."

"Solid defense." Regina nodded, unable to stop giggling. "And here I thought was the bad influence on you."

"You're the one who got us captured by pirates." Belle teased.

"Yes…and you're welcomeapparently." Regina giggled.

"Enough, girls." Emma chuckled.

"Since when do you fool around, Swan?" Ruby asked. "And weren't you off counting? Or have you really lost your mind and decided it was a waste of time?"

"We're finished." Emma said, snatching the document from Regina and showing it off with a proud smirk.

"Are those…hearts doodles all over it?" Ruby asked with a snort. Emma blanched and rolled the paper up, putting it away quickly.

"Just shut the fuck up and call the men Lucas, we're ready to go." She said.

"Aye aye, Captain heart eyes." Ruby teased, earning her a slap that knocked her hat off again. "Oy!"

"On the ship you two, come on." Emma nodded her head towards the dock and started making her way there. Regina let out a soft sigh.

"Something wrong?" Belle asked.

"Just…well we're off on another journey…I know it's her life but I wish we'd have time to settle down here…properly settle down, you know?" Regina said.

"I'm sure we will Regina, have faith in the captain." Belle gave her a gentle hug. "I don't think the next journey will be quite as spontaneous."

"Oh don't get me wrong, I love the spontaneity…It's just that now that Emma and I have finally decided on what we want from each other and with our lives, now that there aren't anymore lingering questions…well now I want…" Regina sighed. "I don't know, I feel like there's a next step we should take."

Belle smirked at her. "Don't worry, you'll be wearing a wedding dress any day now."

"That's not what I meant!" Regina answered hastily.

"I'm sure it's not." Belle winked. "Go on, I'll see you on the ship."

"It isn't Belle." Regina insisted, but her words fell on deaf ears as Belle walked away, following Ruby's path. "Belle!…oh."

She sighed, walking off, her path bound to Emma's, her eyes stuck to the ground as she kicked tiny rocks out of her way idly. Would Emma really propose? Surely they loved each other enough…but wouldn't it be too soon? Although she figured nothing was being done traditionally in her life anymore. But her idea of starting to settle down was…fixing up the mansion.

But then the next obvious step would be …marriage.

A smile came to her face and she looked up towards the dock, seeing Emma standing there, a smile on the captain's fair face as she waited for her dutifully. Regina picked up the pace, closing the gap and coming up to her.

"Waiting for me?" she asked.

"Till the end of time itself if I have to." Emma said, wrapping an arm around the princess' shoulders as the continued to walk. "Thought I might."

"Oh." Regina nudged her. "You're terrible."

"Still love me though." Emma grinned.

"It's impossible not to. I know, I've tried." Regina teased. "It was an absolute failure and I don't mind a single bit."

"Good, it'd be awkward otherwise…y'know, with me being completely in love with you, and all that." Emma said, leaning in and kissing her on the cheek.

"Yes, thankfully we've been spared the uncomfortable situation." Regina chuckled.

"Say, I was thinking…" Emma said.

"Hmm?" Regina looked up at her.

"How's about…when we get back…we start fixing up that dodgy old mansion hmm? It could be our own little project, together." Emma suggested.

Regina's face lit up like a candle in a dark room. "I'd love to, Emma…together."

Chapter Text

It was night time on the third day of sailing. They were set to arrive at some point early next morning, and the closer they drew to the White Isle, the higher Emma's nerves became. She'd all but ripped two ship-hands' heads off when they started arguing about the rules of chess that morning, not to mention snapped at another one because she thought she'd seen a stain on the deck. (Regina, for a moment, thought he'd die of some kind of heart attack at the way she glared at him when he pointed out that it was just the reflection of the sun making it look funny.)

The princess knew better than to ask why she was acting this way, or to ask her to calm down. Emma, of course, never directed any of her frustration or anger towards her. But Regina was left feeling unsure as to whether that was better or worse.

Because Emma had barely said two words to her all day.

When Regina woke up, she'd found Emma already awake and at the helm, and when she bid her a good morning and a kiss on the cheek, she received a mere mutter in return. Emma had stood there for hours, silent except for when she had to bark orders to her men, or reprimand them for something, or curse loudly when the winds changed before she was back to barking more orders.

She hadn't moved at all until dinner time, which is when Regina had taken a chance and asked her if she'd done anything wrong.

"No." Emma had grumbled stiffly as she walked past the brunette and down to the main deck.

"Don't mind the captain, lass." Ruby had told her. "There's a lot running through her mind right now, the place we're going to doesn't exactly hold the fondest of memories for her…or…well it used to but that all went to hell very quickly."

The first mate hadn't said anything else, not wanting to infringe on Emma's privacy. (whether it was out of the love and respect that Ruby held for the captain or for fear of ending up on the business end of Emma's rage, Regina wasn't sure. She figured perhaps it was a bit of both.)

After dinner, Regina just went to their quarters. If Emma was going to ignore her, she'd rather not be in the Captain's presence what-so-ever. At least that way the lack of the captain's conversation could be chalked up to her not being present than just her temper and mood.

Thankfully Belle always brought books with her, and the younger girl was kind enough to lend her one when she said she was going to her quarters for the rest of the night. So she let herself become fully engrossed in the story and didn't realize when the sun had set fully, and the work on the ship had quietened down as the night shift began and the rest of the men went to get some sleep.

There was a soft knock on the door of the cabin, and when Regina looked up, she could see Emma's silhouette behind the screen panel of the door.

"Come in." She said, unsure why the captain was even knocking on her own bedroom door. When Emma peered into the room, Regina hadn't looked up from her book. "There's no need to knock Emma, it is your cabin."

"I thought it was our cabin." Emma quipped, finally getting Regina's attention enough for her eyes to look up at her. The blonde had a small, almost nervous smirk on her lips. Regina sighed and shut her book.

"Yes well…" she cleared her throat as she got up and put the book down. "I suppose we should be getting to bed."

"Actually…" Emma spoke softly. "I was hoping you'd…come with me? I'd like to show you something."

Regina eyed the captain's features and gave her gentle nod, unsure just what was going on through that blonde head of hers, it definitely seemed like a sudden change from how Emma had been acting previously.

Nevertheless, she stepped out of the cabin when the captain stepped aside from the door and Emma shut it before she picked up the lantern hanging on a hook by the door and used it to light their way.

"Is everything alright?" Regina asked as she followed the captain to the front of the ship.

"Hmm? Oh…yes." Emma nodded. "I just…well you'll see."

Regina sighed in mild exasperation. Emma's lack of communication after she herself had asked her to follow her wasn't exactly ideal. Still, she figured Emma might have more to say once she showed her whatever she wanted to show her.

She followed her to the very front of the ship, a spot which was usually taken up by boxes and barrels and endless coils of rope. But tonight, a spot was clear, and in it there were two strategically spread piles of sheets, which Regina tilted her head in question at.

"What's this?" she asked.

"I was hoping perhaps you'd lie with me here for a bit." Emma asked with a nervous shrug.

"Uhm…" she couldn't help but smile at Emma, who scratched the back of her neck nervously and shifted from foot to foot. "Of course, Emma."

The captain smiled softly and nodded her head towards the makeshift beds, setting the lantern down on the floor a safe distance away and rolling over to lay on top of one of them. Regina followed, laying down beside Emma, pleased to find that she'd set them so that they were laying as close to each other as they would have been had they been laying in bed together.

When Regina looked up at the clear night sky, she could see stars for miles. They shone brighter than she'd ever seen absolutely anywhere else. Being a princess, she was no stranger to travel. But here, it looked as if something about this very place made them brighter…bigger, even. As if the universe had a close connection to this place above any and all others in the world.

"Wow…" she said with a smile. "It's beautiful."

"Yeah…" Emma said, her eyes trained on the night sky.

They lay there for a few passing moments, in sheer silence, simply staring out at the stars that went on forever. It was a lovely moment, and incredibly peaceful, but Regina couldn't help but feel something heavy looming in the air. She wanted to ask more than anything why Emma was so nervous about seeing her grandfather again, why the White Isle held such horrible memories in the first place…what those memories actually were. It frustrated her that despite how much they loved each other, Emma still remained quite the mystery to the princess, and that she still hadn't fully opened up to her about everything in her past.

But she knew she could never truly be angry about Emma holding back secrets and mysteries when she herself had just put a stop to a secret investigation about Emma's past.

It wasn't the first time that Regina wondered if she should have just let everything go when Emma refused to tell her…but how was she to know she'd fall in love with the woman in the first place?

Hindsight was the clearest sight of all, she realised with a sigh.

"Something on your mind love?" Emma asked.

"Hmm? Oh, you know…just about everything." She jested. Emma chuckled softly.

"Join the club." She said. "Are the stars not helping then?"

"They're definitely inspiring some inner self-reflection." Regina said, scooting a little so that she was even closer to the blonde. "What about you? Are they helping you? You seemed incredibly stressed today."

"I'm always incredibly stressed." Emma chuckled.

"More than usual then." Regina said, finally turning her head to the side to look at the blonde's profile. "You do realize you've done nothing but shout at the men today, don't you?"

"I…" Emma sighed. "Yeah."

"I thought for a moment you might actually snap long enough to shoot one of them." Regina quipped as she looked back up at the sky.

"I didn't…shout at you though, did I?" Emma asked. Regina shook her head silently.

"Though I can't be sure if…" the princess began, but decided she didn't want to risk an argument.

"If what?" Emma asked.

"Nothing…Perhaps it's better it go unsaid." The princess said.

"Love…please tell me what's on your mind. I promise I won't be angry with you." Emma said. Regina bit her lip and let out a deep breath before she spoke.

"I don't know what would have been worse, your unwarranted yelling coming in my direction or the fact that you ignored me all day." She finally said. "You do realize you barely said two words to me? And the two words you did say to me were grumbled, muttered, and…half hearted. It was almost worse than when I was your prisoner rather than your companion. At least there I didn't much care what you had to say to me…but now…You know I hang on your every word, and when you lack words I hang on your every action…today you lacked both towards me and…I felt like I was back home with my mother again for a moment. Unimportant until she needed me for something or other. And unworthy of her attentions or affections until then too."

Regina's words fell heavy on the captain's chest, and for a moment Emma had to remember how to breathe. It had been such a long time since anyone gave a damn whether she spoke to them or not during her day, such a long time since her word meant anything more than an order which needed to be followed. It was so easy, falling into command, barking orders left and right and not saying much else otherwise, letting herself mull over her thoughts endlessly until something new came around…it dawned on her then just how much Regina had changed her life for the better. For the first time since she was sixteen years old, she felt like she had a future to plan, a future to talk about because she was building it with someone else.

A someone else who she'd unknowingly scorned. She shut her eyes and composed herself, because for a moment, the thought of losing Regina due to her own stupid habits was too much to even think about.

She cleared her throat and swallowed thickly. "I'm sorry, love…you're right."

Regina let out a soft sigh and didn't say anything else. Emma looked to her side in time to see a tear fall down the side of Regina's face and disappear into the sheet below her.

"Regina…" she began. "I…didn't even realize what I was doing until you pointed it out love…I promise it wasn't done on purpose…I just…"

"Have a lot on your mind." Regina nodded. "As usual."

"What would make it better?" Emma asked. "I don't know how to do this love…how to care about anyone besides myself. It's still new to me."

"You care about everyone Emma. Me, Ruby, Belle, Granny, Jack and his whole family, hell…you care about that entire village." Regina said. "You say you don't. But you do. You've been caring for, what was it? Twenty years? And they'd all be dead if you cared as little as you say you do. The truth is that you care a lot."

"Fair enough." Emma nodded. "But it's so easy to keep them at a distance…I do care about them…but they don't care what I say, or what I don't say as long as I keep them safe…so I suppose what I mean to say is that…I'm not used to being cared for…Not in the way you care for me, Regina."

"I don't just care for you Emma…I love you." Regina sighed.

"Yes." Emma nodded. "And I love you too…I just forgot what it's like to be loved so much that not talking to someone can actually hurt someone more than treating them like shit."

"At least if you did that I could retaliate…" Regina shrugged. "I know it sounds strange but…that's how I feel."

"No, I understand." Emma nodded with a sigh. "I'm sorry love, I really am…Ah hell Regina I'm no saint but…but dammit to hell I can try can't I?"

"I suppose if you're willing." Regina said.

"I am." Emma said. "I really am. I just might need you to kick me in the ass a little when I slip up, I suppose…What can I do better Regina?"

"Well…" Regina gulped. Emma was pleading with the brunette to tell her exactly what she wanted from her, how she could be a better partner, a better lover. And the answer was so obvious to Regina…but she felt selfish for asking when she'd already pried into Emma's past far more than what was appropriate behind the captain's back. "…Could you tell me why you're so nervous about going back to the White Isle? I know it's crawling with my mother's army, and that your grandfather is technically loyal to her crown. But…is there something else that's bothering you about it?"

Emma sighed and looked back up at the stars, sitting in silence for a moment, long enough that Regina thought she wouldn't actually answer her question.

"This is one of the fondest memories I have of my father." The blonde spoke up finally. "When I was growing up, when my mother was handling my education, when I was learning how to be a proper lady and all that…he would sneak me out to the gardens late at night, we'd ride out to the beach on a clear night and he'd lay out a sheet on the sand. We'd lay there and watch the stars and we'd just talk…or not talk at all, depending on what we were up for. He taught me all about the constellations and how to navigate using the stars. I remember the first time he told me sailors used the stars to navigate, I asked him how…he said…The stars are constant. They're unwavering, unchanging, stubborn. They refuse to move no matter what's thrown their way and they stay where they're meant to be so that they can guide any lost soul back to where they belong. It can rain, hail, or snow, the winds can change over and over again and blow everything away with them. People pass on and even times change…the sturdiest of stones can wash away with the tide…but the stars will never change."

Regina swallowed thickly, tears prickling at her eyes. "That's beautiful…"

"I was only raised in Misthaven until I was about ten or so." Emma explained. "Then we moved to the White Isle permanently…We called it home, and that's what it was…until the war."

"Oh…" Regina sighed. The White Isle…of course…that was the capital of the Celestial Isles…which means that's where the royal family lived…where Emma and her parents had lived before her mother tried to wipe them out, succeeding for the most part. "I see…"

"Last I heard they'd completely pillaged the place…It was beautiful in it's hay-day…I guess I'm just not ready to see how it's ended up." Emma said.

"I understand." Regina sighed, scooting ever closer to the blonde and gently slipping her hand in Emma's. "I'm sorry…I didn't mean to force you to remember anything unpleasant."

"No, it's alright." Emma said. "It's not as bad when you're around…it's not so bad to talk about when someone actually cares enough to listen."

"I'll always care, Emma." Regina said with a small smile, leaning over and kissing a freckled cheek.

"Then I guess I don't have any reason to hold back anymore huh?" Emma said with a smirk. Regina shook her head.

"Not if you don't want to." She said.

"I'll try, I promise I'll try…" Emma sighed.

"Okay, that's good enough for me." Regina smiled. "For now…how about we go back to the cabin and get some sleep hmm?"

"Not sure I'll be able to sleep much, to be honest." Emma said, rolling over to get up and then holding out her hand so that she could help the princess. Regina took it and let Emma pull her up, wrapping her arms around the blonde's waist.

"Hmm…I might be able to help with that." She grinned mischievously.

"Oh yeah?" Emma smirked.

"Mmhm…Take me to our cabin captain, and I'll show you exactly what I mean." She bit her lip. Emma grinned at her, leaning down and suddenly lifting Regina up into her arms, getting the princess to squeal in surprise. She carried the brunette over to their cabin, kicking the door open and shut as they entered and laying her down on the bed.

"Come here." Regina said, sitting back up and pulling the captain closer by the lapels of her coat. "Come closer."

Emma leaned in, pressing their lips together in a hot, passionate kiss, her hands going to Regina's waistcoat as she began to unbutton it. Regina pushed Emma's coat off her shoulders and pulled her closer, turning them so that Emma would lay on the bed, but Emma was making a grab for her shirt.

"Wait…wait." Regina sighed, pulling back. Emma gave her a concerned look.

"Is everything alright?" she asked.

"Yes…" Regina nodded, giving Emma a soft kiss. "But…I…"

"What is it love?" Emma asked gently. Regina bit her lip.

"Emma…you always make sure I have the most incredible time when we make love…you always take care of me I…" she blushed a little and thanked the gods for the darkness of the room. "I want to be the one to take care of you tonight…You're so nervous, you're so stressed all the time…just relax and let me be the one to take care of you tonight? When was the last time someone actually made sure to take care of your needs?"

"Regina…having you is all I need." Emma said, cupping the brunette's cheek.

"Well you have me." Regina smiled, turning her head and kissing the palm of Emma's hand. "Now…let me take you…"

Emma hesitated, and Regina wasn't really surprised. What the princess was asking her to do was something the captain wasn't particularly used to. After all she had to set herself up as a dominant force, and that meant that very few people - if any - had the opportunity to see the captain in a vulnerable position. But, as the captain gnawed on her lower lip, she realized that being vulnerable with Regina was exactly what she needed to do to make things better with her, to uphold her promise to her.

"Alright." She nodded, smiling at the way Regina beamed at her before the princess leaned towards her and kissed her gently. The brunette reached down, pulling Emma's shirt from under the waistband of her trousers and slipping her hands under it, fingers skimming over soft, supple skin and a tight body.

"Lay back." Regina said gently, reaching up with one hand and removing the captain's hat. "Just lay back and relax."

Emma nodded, reaching up to pull off her shirt and reveal her naked torso before she followed the princess' gentle instruction. Regina took a moment to gaze in awe at the blonde, who was resting on her elbows and smiling at her, a tad nervously, as she reached to the back of her own head and loosened her braid, letting her hair cascade over her back. She pushed the loose waistcoat off of her before she leaned down, kissing the captain soundly on the lips before she moved down further, planting soft kisses and nips at her jawline as she moved down to her neck.

The blonde sighed, physically melting under Regina's touch and relaxing, easing her weight off her elbows and letting herself sink into the mattress below her. Her hands craved to touch the brunette who was using her lips to work her up into a lustful frenzy, and she reached up, gently pushing her hair out of Regina's face as the younger girl began kissing lower, placing a soft kiss on the hollow of her throat before she moved down to her chest.

"Regina…" she sighed, feeling the brunette's lips curl up in a smile against her skin. The princess lifted her head only an inch so that she could lift her eyes up and glance at the captain with a seductive little smile on her face that Emma was sure could only be painted by the gods. The younger girl pushed herself until she was sitting back on her knees, straddling the blonde.

"Kick off your boots, my love." She said, pulling her shirt smoothly off her upper body and revealing herself to Emma. And while she was usually the one calling the shots, in any situation, the way Regina made her demand, the sultry smirk on her face, the way she looked with her hair down and framing her face as it was in that moment made it absolutely impossible for Emma to do or say anything beyond what she was asked. And with two tell-tale thumps, she kicked her boots off. Regina smiled at her, her eyes never leaving the older woman's as she reached down and untied the laces that held Emma's leather trousers up around her waist. She pulled the knot free, loosening their hold before she slipped her fingers beneath the waistband and tugged them down. Emma lifted her hips off the bed, allowing Regina to give a firm tug and pull them down past her thighs before Emma could kick them off, letting them fall to the floor soundlessly as the brunette, hungry with need, pounced on her captain again, attaching their lips in a heated kiss.

Regina's hands moved down to soft, supple breasts, breathing in the moan that left Emma's throat when her palms came into contact with pert, stiff nipples.

She felt a knee come into contact with her center and moaned, pulling away from the kiss with a chuckle. "Emma…"

"Sorry…force of habit." Emma chuckled. Regina pulled away a little farther, taking in the sight that was Emma Swan in that moment. Without the hat, or the coat, completely bare in front of her as she was now, a light, carefree look in her eyes and a genuinely happy. For a moment Regina wondered if perhaps this is what Emma looked like when she was younger, when she went out on those late night trips to the beach with her father, and for a moment a fantasy tugged at her heartstrings - of her and Emma meeting each other while the same age, with nothing standing in their way and, for once, the world was cheering for them.

"Regina?" Emma asked softly, getting a bright smile from the brunette. "Where'd you go in that head of yours?"

"Just another universe where I want nothing more than to be with you, my love." The younger girl said, leaning down and kissing Emma deeply again. The blonde wrapped her arms around her tightly, her tongue slipping into Regina's mouth as she took in all the love and passion the other girl had the strength to pour out, and gods, Emma's heart pounded in her chest like a war drum, because Regina really did have the strength to give a lot of love…and suddenly the world didn't seem to be such an awful place to the forgotten queen.

Soft hands roamed down pale skin, taking in the small mounds again. With a smack of their lips, Regina pulled back against her own desires to take in a breath of air at her lung's screaming request. She would drown in Emma if she could. Green eyes locked on hers again, shining like impossibly bright emeralds in the moonlight that slipped through the small window above the bed.

"Gods…you're beautiful." Regina sighed as she locked lips with Emma again, her hands grasping at her as much as they could, unable to control her desire for the older woman any longer. The next time she pulled away from Emma's lips, her mouth went right to the soft skin of her breast, Emma's hand tangling in rich brown locks as Regina took a stiff nipple into her mouth, using her hand and fingers to pinch and twist the other gently, receiving a gasp and a soft moan of pleasure from the blonde in response.

As she switched sides, Regina's now free right hand started moving down lower, trailing blazing lines down Emma's abdomen until she reached a mound of soft curls, and then passed it to dip into her wet center, finding the spot that craved to be touched, as evident by the way Emma moaned and twitched beneath her.

"Oh gods…" the captain sighed, her head falling back on the pillow beneath her head. She couldn't remember the last time someone touched her like this, she was beginning to wonder if she'd ever experienced anything like this at all, the way Regina focused on her and made her feel like everything was right in the world, just with a simple touch and a kiss.

Regina moved her fingers, adding just a little bit more pressure as she began a constant, but slow circling motion. She could hear, by way of Emma's slow, deep breathing, that the blonde wasn't anywhere near satisfied, however pleasurable this may have felt. A smirk on her face appeared as she saw the opportunity to do more with her captain. She pulled her mouth off her soft breast and kissed her way down.

"Regina?" Emma asked softly.

"…I want to taste you, Emma…" she said, her voice barely above a whisper, but in the quiet, peaceful moment they shared, they didn't need much more than that to communicate…indeed, in some cases they didn't need words at all.

As she moved lower, Emma's legs parted a little more, giving her space to move and lower herself down again, her lips kissing the skin at Emma's waistline, sucking at the flesh at her hip bone softly and trailing down her right thigh, nipping here and there as she got closer and closer to the pirate's sweet treasure until she finally poked her tongue out of her mouth and slipped it between the captain's wet folds, moaning at the heady taste of her on her tongue.

She scooted up closer, using her tongue to focus on Emma's firm clit and lowering her fingers to spread her open, giving herself more access to the blonde's core. As she wrapped her lips and sucked on the bundle of nerves, Emma released a moan, a hand going to the back of Regina's head and tangling again into her brown tresses as her back arched off the mattress, desperately trying to gain more contact with the brunette's mouth.

"Regina." She moaned out, her body moving against the princess' as she desperately chased that sweet release. It excited the younger girl immensely to see that she could get the captain moaning and writhing like this for her, and it only excited her more when she heard Emma's reaction to her slipping a gentle finger inside the blonde, testing the waters before she added another finger to it.

She was lost, for a few moments, in the absolute pleasure that she was getting simply from tasting Emma like this, from taking her like this in a way she doubted many women took the opportunity to do so. What absolute fools. She thought, to pass up the opportunity to bring such a powerful, beautiful woman to heights of pleasure such as this.

Emma's breathing had become ragged and shallow, and as she gazed up and watched the blonde's expression morph, she could tell that she was teetering on that beautiful edge that Emma herself had brought her to so many times before. Fighting off a smirk, she wrapped her lips tightly again around the blonde's clit, and sucked sharply, the fingers that worked inside of the captain curling upwards and coming into contact with a soft spot that elicited loud cry of Regina's name from the captain as Emma's back arched off the bed again, her eyes bursting open and then slamming shut as wave after wave of pleasure crashed into her like those of the sea would do to a ship during a storm.

Regina didn't let up immediately, letting Emma ride out her pleasure to the full, and only pulling away from her when the captain's body went slack and fell limp on the mattress, panting like she'd just swam the distance between here and the cape they called home.

"Emma?" Regina asked softly, pushing herself up and hovering over the captain, whose eyes were shut, but had a smile on her face that dazzled the brunette. Regina couldn't help but smile back, pressing a soft kiss against those lips. When she pulled back, Emma's eyes fluttered open, gazing at her softly.

"I will constantly be amazed by you." The captain said. "And how you manage to make me feel things I never thought I'd feel again."

"I love you, Emma." Regina said, pressing a soft kiss to the older woman's cheek. "And it would be my pleasure to spend the rest of my life showing you how true that is."

"I love you, Regina." Emma said back, her smile widening. "And I'm almost glad that I never had the opportunity to love anyone else…because I can't imagine it would have been better than this…and anything else just pales in comparison."

"Sleep, my love." Regina kissed her temple and lay down gently beside the blonde, an arm coming up and wrapping itself around her shoulders to hold her close. She nuzzled into Emma's shoulder, leaving a few soft, intermittent kisses there.

"When we fix up that mansion…" Emma mumbled, half asleep.

"Yes, darling?" Regina said, smiling at the thought of whatever Emma might be about to suggest…or ask…But the silence lingered for a few moments, and the princess soon realized that Emma had fallen asleep…possibly dreaming of achieving whatever she wanted to do after they made that mansion into a home for the two of them. Regina sighed, not taking it in scorn. The fact that the captain felt peaceful enough to get any sleep was a blessing enough for her.

She pressed a kiss to Emma's temple and nuzzled into her, sleep now not far from overtaking her mind as well.

"Ask when you might, Emma, the answer will always be yes."

Chapter Text

Morning had drawn them closer to the White Isle, and when Regina awoke that morning, her first thought was concern for Emma, and how she might act today. She could tell by the lack of noise outside that the crew were keeping to their best behavior, lest they feel their captain's wrath. But then again, yesterday alone was enough to scare them into submission, so maybe that wasn't the best indicator to use.

She turned over, still half asleep, and hoped to find Emma next to her. But when she opened her eyes, she found that the spot beside her in bed was empty, with only the mussed up bedding left to indicate that Emma had ever slept there at all the night before.

She sighed, of course she'd hoped to get to wake up in Emma's arms this morning - that was the best part of waking up no matter where they were or what the day had in store for them. And she hoped that the fact that Emma was not there, and that she was already awake and manning the ship, didn't mean that last night's talk or what happened after they were done talking was all for nothing.

She sat up in the bed, rubbing sleep from her eyes. And when she opened them and saw what was sitting on the table, all of the doubts she'd been having only a second ago were banished from her mind.

There was a plate on the table, filled with scones similar to the ones Abbie made, the captain's favorites, and some fruit, along with a note sitting on the table with her name scrawled out on it in Emma's, admittedly beautiful, handwriting. Indeed the kind of handwriting one only developed when learning to sign royal documents.

She got up, pulling on her shirt as she made her way to the table, picking up the note and opening it to read what was written inside.


You make my life's rough seas and rocky waters smoother to sail, just by being in it.



A smile spread across her face and she folded the note up again, picking up a scone and biting into it as she allowed herself to enjoy the moment. Yes, waking up in Emma's arms was a romantic moment she always enjoyed. But receiving such a letter was…well the stuff of story books. The things that made little girls fawn and swoon and dream of romance in the first place. Her smile grew as something made dawned on her, not for the first time this week.

Those little girls could eat their hearts out, Emma Swan was hers.

She finished her breakfast, enjoying the scones that Emma was so fond of she rarely shared them, and getting dressed before she stepped outside of the captain's cabin. When she climbed the steps to the upper deck, she saw that Emma was already at the helm - just as she'd expected.

"Good morning captain." She said to the blonde with a smile on her face.

"Good morning love." Emma smiled at her, leaning down and pressing a kiss to her cheek. "Did you get my uhm, gift?"

"And enjoyed it very much, thank you." Regina grinned at her. "The note was a sweet touch."

"Only the best for you." Emma said. "I'm sorry I had to wake up so early, but a captain must be at the helm when docking into a foreign port."

"Of course." Regina nodded, understanding now that Emma's absence didn't indicate a foul mood - just the arrival to their destination. "Will we be there soon?"

"Aye." Emma nodded. "We spotted patrolling gunboats an hour ago, should be approaching them now. But the wind's not been too strong."

Regina looked up at the sails to confirm what Emma had just said when she noticed that the black flag that usually waved high atop the main mast was missing.

"Where's the flag?" she asked.

"Enemy waters, love, we show them a black flag, we might as well show them a death warrant." Emma explained.

"Don't be too surprised if you see skeletons hanging from a couple of poles when we port." Ruby said from Emma's other side.

"Skeletons?" Regina asked.

"A warning to other pirates." Emma explained further. "That the only thing they've got to look forward to is the gallows."

"How morbid." Regina deadpanned, looking out into the distance. "Is that the boat I see approaching us?"

"Shit, it is." Emma cursed under her breath.

"Just keep your head in place Swan." Ruby said. "You got your grandfather's letter?"

"Aye." Emma nodded. "No one say a goddamn word, I do the talking."

"Aye sir." Ruby nodded.

"Regina." Emma turned to the younger girl. "Put on your scarf, find Belle and tell her to do the same."

"Yes, captain." Regina nodded, moving to do as she was told immediately. She knew the chances of her being recognized by anyone were low, but she decided that on this one particular occasion, she would just do as Emma asked for the blonde's ease of mind. She found Belle sitting in a sunny spot on the ship, reading, shockingly enough.

"Oh, good morning Regina." She said with a smile. "Emma seems more pleasant today."

"Yes, she is…but there's a gunboat heading our way, Emma wants the scarves on, now…and maybe put away the book. Pirates don't usually read." Regina said.

"Oh, right." Belle said, closing the book and getting up. She rushed off to put the book away and find her bandanna, Regina doing to the same, and by the time they came out and made their way to the upper deck, the gunboat had made it's way and was floating steadily beside the ship - both vessels stopped in the middle of the ocean.

"Ahoy there!" a soldier cried. He was a captain, Regina noticed by his uniform, which perfectly the matched the one Gaston was wearing last she'd seen him, with a bit more decoration and, she noticed, a medal that indicated he'd fought in the war of the Isles. "Who captains this vessel?"

"I do." Emma called down, looking over the railing on the side of the upper deck.

"A woman?" the captain frowned.

"You have a problem with that, captain?" the blonde asked boldly. The naval captain eyed the canons of the ship warily and shook his head.

"I have no quarrel with who captains this ship." He said. "But I am concerned about your lack of colors and uniforms. Do you have any papers?"

"I have an invitation from the governor." Emma said.

"The governor?" the captain asked. "Might I ask permission to board?"

"Just you, or your crew as well?" Emma asked.

"Just myself so that I may confirm your documents, captain." He said.

"Aye then." The blonde nodded, looking over to her men. "Lower the ladder!"

The men moved upon their captain's word, lugging a heavy ladder fashioned of rope and planks of wood, tying it to the side of the ship before they lowered it down. The naval gunboat moved steadily down the side of Emma's ship until it reached a good spot for the captain to easily step onto the ladder and make his way up onto the much larger Galleon.

"Uh…uh…hello there." He said, trying to give a kind smile to the pirates he was suddenly too close to. "Yes…exc-excuse me sir."

"Fancy suit ye got 'ere cap'n." One of the men said, eying the distinguished military man's uniform.

"It's not a suit good sir it's a naval uniform." He corrected.

"Sounds like that's just a fancy word fer a suit." The pirate shrugged.

Emma chuckled under her breath as she stepped down the stairs to the main deck. "Alright boys, leave the man alone."

The pirate stepped away, and the naval captain was left mildly impressed by Emma's ability to corral her crew.

"Yes…thank you." He said to Emma as she approached. She pulled a letter out of her pocket and unfolded it, handing it over to him without hesitation.

"Should be all here, sent by Governor Nolan himself." She said.

"Yes…indeed." The captain said, looking up from the letter to her suspiciously. "Miss…Swan, is it?"

"That'd be Captain Swan, thank you very much." Emma said.

"Yes, of course." The man cleared his throat. "Funny…usually the men who have these invitations are captained by a one…Abney."

"Ah." Emma chuckled. "Well unfortunately Mr. Abney has met with a most…unfavorable accident."

"Oh dear." The captain said.

"Indeed, nasty business, 'fraid you won't be seeing much of him anymore." The blonde smirked.

"And have you taken his place then?" the captain asked. Emma chuckled.

"I don't dabble in his kind of business…no. Just received an invitation by the governor one day." She shrugged. "Who am I to say no to the likes of him, hmm?"

"Indeed." The captain nodded, looking the letter over once more like he didn't trust it's authenticity. "Very well then. Keep sailing north and-"

"We'll be there within an hour. Two if the winds change." Emma nodded. "I know."

"R-right…" the captain cleared his throat again. "Very well…pleasure to have made your acquaintance."

"Pleasure's all mine sir." Emma nodded. The captain turned, eying Emma's crew warily as he stepped towards the ladder and slowly made his way back down.

"Well that was pleasant." Regina said, having stepped up beside Emma. The captain chuckled and shook her head.

"Navy dogs…way too easy." She said, going towards the side of the ship and looking over to see the gunboat sailing away from them. "Off we get boys!"

She jogged up the stairs back to the upper deck and straight to the helm, signaling for the sails to be untied so they could be on their way.

"So the worst is over then?" Regina asked. Emma let out a sigh.

"I wish." She said. "This is but the calm before the storm. The worst is yet to come."

"Do you really think it will be that bad?" Regina asked.

"I can't tell." Emma shrugged. "These are uncharted waters for me."

"Metaphorically speaking of course." Regina said.

"Of course." Emma nodded. "If all goes to plan, we'll leave The White Isle unscathed."

"And if it doesn't?" Regina asked. Emma inhaled deeply and let the air out.

"Then I hope the gods have mercy on you all, at least - cause it'll be too late for me." She said.

"Psht." Ruby scoffed. "That's comforting."

With the announcement of their arrival from the good captain they'd met earlier, docking into port seemed like an easier job than Emma expected it to be. Though, she did roll her eyes when a few of the soldiers tried to guide her on how to steer the ship to port.

"I've been sailing this ship for near twenty years and some of these boys look like they're balls have just dropped." She rolled her eyes, and Regina had to try very hard not to laugh.

"Men." Ruby rolled her eyes.

The docked perfectly - ignoring the men who tried to help - and then nearly landed the plank on one soldier's foot because he'd refused to move, insisting that he help.

"No worries." He said when Emma stepped off the plank and onto the dock. "Accidents happen."

"Aye, tell that to your mother." Ruby muttered from under her breath as they walked past him, Regina and Belle chuckling and trying to keep their composure.

"I say…" a soldier commented. "I don't think I've ever seen a woman on a ship before, much less four, and running the crew?"

"There's stranger things in the world boy." Emma said as she walked past him. He turned red and turned away, going back to his duties and letting them be.

"Still nervous?" Regina muttered to Emma.

"I'm surprised I haven't told any of these bloody red-coat dogs to go fuck themselves." She said. "Stick close."

"Aye sir." Regina nodded, getting a brow raised towards her. She shrugged. "It's easy to fall into step with you strutting like that."

Emma didn't miss the smirk under Regina's bandanna, or the way her eyes raked over the captain. She flashed her a smirk before she continued walking.

"Straight to the governor's palace then?" Ruby asked.

Emma nodded. "Aye, no time to waste."

The walk to the governor's palace was an awkward one, with very little words exchanged among the four women, and many a curious look being sent their way from many soldiers along their route, and a few of the common folk as well.

"Just keep your eyes forward and keep walking." Emma had advised Regina quietly when she started getting visibly nervous about all the eyes on her. "If the soldiers stop us, I'll handle it, no one else will give us any grief. The people of this island have no quarrel with anyone…well…no one besides the military that oppresses them, and they can't do much about that either."

It was enough to comfort the princess' nerves, though it didn't make the situation any less depressing. Such was the life of a pirate, she figured. Especially one who used to be a princess and live in a palace. And speaking of palaces…

They came upon the large, dominating building, which seemed to stand solely on it's own island, connected to the white Isle by a drawbridge, the access of which was blocked by a large, dominating wall and a gate, with two guards posted in front of the white stone structure and several small groups of soldiers patrolling the length of the wall. Regina seemed sure that the waters that lead to the coast of the island that housed the palace was littered with gunboats patrolling the seas as well.

"High guard, think they're expecting a war or something?" Ruby scoffed.

"Perhaps they are." Belle said softly.

"Enough, you two." Regina said, earning a raised brow from Ruby, but the princess looked over to Emma, who was staring up at the palace silently, her fists clutched tightly. "Emma."

"Hmm?" the blonde's attention was pulled from the structure as she looked at Regina.

"Are you alright?" the brunette asked.

"Fine." Emma cleared her throat. "They repaired it…last time I saw it it was little more than ruins."

"Isn't that a good thing?" Belle asked.

"I suppose it's as good as you can get, given that they were the bastards that broke it in the first fucking place." The blonde said bitterly.

"In and out, captain?" Ruby reminded her.

"Aye." Emma sighed, reaching into her satchel and pulling out her letter. She stepped up to the guards, who immediately stood to attention.

"Hold there. What business do you have?" one of them asked her.

"I know as much as you do." Emma scoffed. "But I've been invited to meet with the governor."

"Ah yes…Miss Swan." The guard looked at the letter.

"Captain." Emma corrected. "Bad enough he brought me all the way here, I'll be addressed by that title."

"Uh…yes." The guard nodded. "Very well…this way…captain."

The guard turned to signal to his companion to help him open the gate as Regina, Ruby, and Belle stepped forward to her.

"Good show of force there, captain." Ruby chuckled, mocking the way the guard had emphasized the blonde's title.

"You show them you'll go by whatever they call you you might as well tell them you're a codfish." Emma said. "Now enough, no mocking the guards."

"Pfft, I never get to have any fun." Ruby crossed her arms. Emma rolled her eyes, but before she could respond, the gate had been opened and the guard was calling them to follow him.

They walked over the drawbridge and into the building which boasted high ceilings, but little else in decoration.

"Gods, this place looks depressing." Ruby muttered.

"Governor doesn't seem to be one for interior decorating, it seems." Regina eyes the bare walls. "No paintings, no tapestries, nothing."

"He always was a miser." Emma muttered under her breath. "Probably traded all the paintings that were left for gold."

Regina and Belle looked at each other as they noticed Emma's mood having suddenly gone a lot fouler than it had been earlier. Neither girl blamed the captain, of course.

The guard stopped, speaking to a man who didn't seem to be much older than Regina dressed in fine clothing. The man nodded to the guard and looked over at the four of them before the guard turned and stepped up to Emma.

"The steward will announce you to the honorable governor." The guard said.

"In there?" Emma looked from the guard to the door and back.

"Yes ma'am." The guard nodded. "The governor addresses all his guests in the throne room."

Emma jaw clenched and she gave the guard a firm nod before he stepped away and went back to his post.

"Bastard has no right." She cursed under her breath.

"Emma." Regina's hand easily slipped over Emma's clenched fist. "It's alright, we go in, listen to what he has to say, and then get out…and we'll never have to come here again if you don't want to."

Emma sighed and nodded. "Yeah, you're right…thank you, love."

"It's alright." Regina said again.

"The governor is ready for you now." The steward said. All four of them looked at him and he cleared his throat nervously before gesturing to the open throne room door. "Right through here place."

"Here goes nothing." Emma sighed before she stepped up to the steward and through the door, the other three on her tail.

The room was well lit - with several tall glass windows letting plenty of sunshine pour into the room and bounce off the white marble floors. A large fire place at the end of the room behind them kept the otherwise cold room well tempered and cozy, and a long red rug ran the length of the floor up to the steps of a raised platform where a large wooden throne stood, a man sitting in it. He was tall, and sat straight up, and even though his age was great it didn't show too much on his face, save the wrinkles in his cheeks, and the ashy gray hue of his eyebrows and what little hair he did have on his otherwise bald head.

"Ah." He spoke, his voice deep and echoing in the large hall. "If it isn't the queen of the seas herself."

"I'll thank you not to point out my sins." Emma said, stepping further into the room until she was standing a few feet away from the man, Regina, Ruby, and Belle standing a little ways behind her. "Especially not among so many of your good soldiers."

"You'll find no quarrel here, these soldiers are under my orders, not her majesty's." The old man said. "You've brought friends, I see."

"It's good to have some in this world." Emma said.

"Otherwise you'd have to face your dear old grandfather alone, and we can't have that, can we?" he smirked.

"You're old, I'll grant you that…the 'dear' part is a matter of opinion I would say." The captain said.

"All these years, you're still very much like your mother." Governor Nolan said.

"I'll thank you not to speak of her." Emma said, her fists clenching again. "You've not earned the right."

"Very well." He nodded. "After all, I didn't bring you all the way here to discuss the horrid past, but to discuss the prosperous future."

"Prosperous?" Emma asked. "And just who would be prospering in it then?"

"The both of us, my dear captain." He said, a soft chuckle following from his lips. "And whoever you deem worthy enough to share your wealth with, perhaps one of these lovely ladies has won your heart over."

"Stop toying around with words." Emma said. "I didn't cross the sea to hear your snickering."

"Touchy." Her grandfather sighed. "Perhaps a drink would cheer you up?"

"You had a lot of chances to sit and have a drink with me, old man, you squandered every last one." The blonde rejected. "I suppose back then, drinking with me wasn't as prosperous an opportunity as licking the queen's boots was."

"My dear captain, your bitterness towards the past will lead you to an early grave." The governor sighed.

"Another one of your kin you would have outlived then." Emma shot back. The old man's eyes visibly hardened, but he took a moment and chose to ignore the comment.

"I have an offer for you." He said. "One that you brought about yourself when you…eliminated your competition, as it were."

"Abney?" Emma sneered.

"Yes, nasty business." Lord Nolan said as if he were talking about a sewage problem. "But alas, he is gone and so the gap that was left in his wake must be filled…by you."

"By me?" Emma scoffed. "And just what exactly are you expecting me to do about it?"

"Well that's where my offer comes in, my dear captain." George said. "My proposition is this: I will sign over the deed to the sugar plantations to you, making you the sole owner and commander of both them and any crops that grow on them. You, in turn, sell all the sugar produced there to me. What happens afterwords is my business, and nothing to concern yourself with. But you will be paid handsomely for your wares and troubles. And I'll even provide you with some hands to begin your work immediately."

"Hold on." Emma chuckled humorlessly. "You want me to take your slaves - people you've no doubt imprisoned wrongly - to work on a sugar plantation, to sell you the sugar that'll undoubtedly end up sweetening Cora's tea?"

"You say that as if the very thought disgusts you." The governor noted.

"That's because it does." Emma spat. She turned around, ready to walk out of the room.

"I'd also be willing to give you the governor's pardon." Her grandfather dropped. "You'll no longer be a wanted woman…in fact I can pardon your entire crew."

Her fists clenched again, and her eyes shot up at Ruby, a silent question. The younger brunette shook her head, and that was all Emma needed to turn around and face her grandfather again.

"You're an old, dry sack of scum, Nolan." She spat. "You're nothing but a lowlife miser who only cares for his coin and will do anything to rise through the ranks. I'm just sorry it took you selling your own fucking family out for me to realize that."

"I'll take that as a no then? I thought even you wouldn't be proud enough to refuse a pardon." He said.

"A governor's pardon is worth shit when the queen herself wants my head on a plate - you know that as well as I do. And I'm no fucking fool to believe that she'd pardon me if you do." Emma spat.

"Well that's what happens when you pick a fight with her majesty." Lord Nolan said.

"And I'll keep picking fights with the bitch till the day I die if I deem it necessary." The captain announced.

"Still loyal to a cause that died ages ago…in this very room if I'm not mistaken." The old man said smoothly. Emma's breathing was already labored, but it seemed to get worse at this point, and Regina stepped up beside her.

"Emma?" she asked her softly. The blonde's eyes had grown dark - a kind of dark that would have scared anyone who didn't know the captain well enough to trust that she wasn't about to rip them apart with her bare hands. And her gaze was directed at her grandfather.

"Don't bother, girl." The governor said to Regina, eying her curiously. "Your captain's got a past, one she's not so willing to speak about, apparently."

"Enough." Emma barked. "You can take your offer and your sugar plantations and your pardon and shove them up your crusty old ass. I'll see you in hell, old man."

The blonde turned and stormed out of the room without another word, the three other women following her and rushing to keep up her pace.

Chapter Text

"Emma!" Regina called as the Captain marched her way hastily out of the palace, nearly knocking over a soldier who seemed to be even younger than Regina or Belle, and skinnier too.

"Sorry about her." Belle gave him his hat back, ignoring the queasy, boyish smile he gave her. Ruby nearly knocked his hat back off for it as they chased the captain. Regina sprinted a tad, closing the gap between her and Emma and grabbing the blonde's hand to stop her.

"Emma slow d-"

"Don't touch me." Emma growled as she pulled her hand away, startling Regina. The blonde stopped at that, apparently realizing what had happened and what she'd done. She gulped and stepped back with a sigh.

"Back to the ship. Now." She said in a calm tone, marching off in frustration.

"That…that's not her." Regina shook her head. "Not usually."

"Lass." Ruby put a hand on the brunette's shoulder. "That old bastard brought back some seriously painful stuff for her. She's not acting herself right now because…because he forced her to go back to that time. I've seen it happen before, not this badly mind you. I thought for sure she was gonna shoot him."

"The way he spoke to her, I nearly did it myself." Regina sighed in frustration.

"Let her breathe for a bit, she'll feel better once we're on the ship and out of these waters." The quartermaster advised. "She'll be alright, she always is, you know this."

"Yes, I do." Regina nodded. "Thank you Ruby."

"No worries, come on, let's get on board and get some dinner." The older brunette nodded her head, bidding the two girls to follow her as she followed their captain. Regina let out a long sigh.

"That was where Emma lost her parents." She said to Belle.

"I wouldn't be surprised." The younger girl said. "What makes you so sure though?"

"Didn't you hear what Nolan said? 'Still loyal to a cause that died ages ago…in this very room.'" It almost made the brunette sick to quote the vile words of a man who had apparently sold out his family for wealth and security. "And the way Emma lashed out at him when he said that?"

"Right." Belle nodded. "An old wound that Nolan ripped open with his knife."

"A past she's not willing to share." Regina sighed. "And one that's so full of pain I sometimes wonder if the reason she doesn't want to share it is because it hurts too much to even talk about."

"Would you blame her for wanting to hide it all away if that was the case?" Belle asked.

"No, I wouldn't…hell I don't even blame her now when I don't even know the full details." Regina shook her head. "Come on…If there's anything I can do to make her feel better then I want to do it…If that's the only thing I can do to help her, then I'll do it for the rest of my life if I have to."

"You seem so sure you two will be together that long." Belle teased lightly, trying to cheer the brunette up. Regina gave her a small smile back.

"I think she would have proposed last night…had I not worn her out so much that she fell asleep halfway through the question." She confessed to Belle, who's eyes went wide.

"Regina." She squealed softly, taking hold of her friend's arm. "That's amazing…and surprising given Emma's foul mood yesterday."

"I've come to realize that Emma is full of surprises." Regina shrugged. "She seems to want to do it after we fix up the mansion together."

"You're going to fix up the mansion together?" Belle gasped. "You've been holding out on me!"

"Well I'm sorry we were a bit preoccupied." Regina rolled her eyes.

"For three days? We were out at sea! I've been bored to tears!" Belle looked offended.

"Well that's Ruby's responsibility, not mine." Regina winked at her before she started making her way towards the ship.

"Don't you make crude remarks and then walk away from me!" Belle called after her, stomping her way dramatically behind her friend. "Regina Mills! You get back here right now!"


Once they were all on board the ship, Emma wasted no time in giving the order to set sail. It was obvious to everyone on board that she wanted to get away from the The White Isle as soon as humanly possible, and they dared not question it for a second, in fact a few of them were falling over themselves to try and hurry up.

The sun was setting now, and with a twinge of pain in her heart Regina noticed that Emma had ordered the men to clear away the make shift beds she'd made the night before to sit out and watch the stars. She was helping Belle serve the men dinner when she noticed Emma just took the plate she'd handed her and went to her cabin alone with a bottle of rum in her hand.

"Go." Belle said to her, noticing the look of concern in her best friend's eyes. Regina looked at her and sighed, handing the man in front of her his bowl of stew and going after the captain.

"Emma?" She asked as she pushed the door open gently. She walked in just in time to see Emma guzzling down her rum, her plate sitting on the table ignored. She sighed. "Emma."

"What?" the blonde asked her, putting the bottle down and biting into the stew soaked chunk of bread in her bowl. "I was thirsty."

"Mmmhm." Regina raised a brow at her and shut the door behind her. "Talk to me."

"Nothing to talk about." Emma shrugged.

"I would believe you, had I not seen that outburst towards the governor." Regina said, pulling up a chair and sitting down next to Emma at the table. "And I think you forget, darling, unlike when we first met, I know you, and in turn I know when something is bothering you."

"Hell." Emma sighed. "You could read me when we first met."

"So what makes you think I wouldn't be able to now?" Regina asked. "What he said to me Emma, it wasn't news. I know you have a complicated history, and I know that you sharing it is…well I don't like to use the term impossible but it is highly unlikely."

Emma didn't say anything, she didn't agree with Regina's statement, but she didn't make any effort to deny it either.

"But don't pretend that nothing is wrong, not when I watched as you stood there and listened to what that selfish old bastard said to you. Not when I know you would have ripped his throat out with your bare hands if you didn't think you'd risk putting any of us in danger because of it." Regina said. "You can hide your past all you like Emma but you can't hide who you are from me."

"I'm sorry." Emma cleared her throat, her emotions clearly having caught up with her as Regina was speaking. Tears had glossed over her eyes though she blinked them away and she was clearly making an effort to hide how a lump had formed in her throat. "I just…When he said what he did…I was back there…"

"There." Regina nodded, she wasn't asking, but Emma clenched her jaw in thought before she elaborated a little.

"To the moment I found my parents dead." She said. "Laying in pools of their own blood. I can't ever forget how cold they were, laying there…Their eyes were still open and my father's hand was still clutched around his sword. I didn't even get to say goodbye. The minute we found them like that, we had to go, we were found and we had to leave before they…"

"Before you suffered the same fate." Regina nodded. She closed her eyes, letting out a deep sigh and shaking her head. "At my mother's orders."

"And the bastard let them." Emma sneered as her chin quivered. "He had men at his command. He had resources. He could have fought…instead he bent his knee to her will, because she promised him wealth and power…I swore on my parents' graves that the next time I saw him I would avenge them."

"Then why didn't you?" Regina asked. Emma's eyes flicked over to the princess, connecting with hers immediately.

"Because you were there." She said. "And I'd never forgive myself for doing something that would have put you in danger. I would never be able to forgive myself if you got hurt in the fray because I let my thirst for blood cloud my judgment."

"Emma…" Regina shook her head.

"I nearly did it you know." Emma went on. "When he said…when he talked about their death like it was just a trivial part of history. Like it wasn't important…like he had nothing to do with it…I nearly ripped the bastard apart."

"What stopped you?" Regina asked.

"You spoke." Emma cleared her throat again. "Your voice just…brought me back. Like an anchor keeping a ship from floating away into a storm."

Regina couldn't help the tears that sprang from her eyes as Emma spoke. She didn't know what to say, she didn't think she could say anything that would articulate what she was feeling at that moment. So she did the only thing that made sense at that moment. She got up from her chair and took the two steps that would bring her closer to Emma, she gently sat down in her lap and wrapped her arms around the captain's neck, pressing a soft kiss to her lips.

Emma's arms wrapped themselves around Regina's waist without hesitation, and somehow that was all the princess needed to know that everything was going to be alright. The brunette sighed and pressed her forehead against the older woman's.

"Emma I vow to you, one day we'll make this right. Somehow, we'll find a way to avenge your parents. To right my mother's wrongs." She said, sealing her oath with a kiss on Emma's lips. "I swear on my life. On my soul."

"Regina…" Emma sighed, pulling back just a little. She looked up at her, her lips parted like she was about to say something but lost the words to do so. Regina looked at her curiously.

"What is it?" she asked softly. Emma gulped.

"Marry me."

"W-Uh…pardon?" Regina took in Emma's expression, as if she couldn't tell if the blonde was being serious.

"I don't want to talk about forever like it's some kind of distant future we may never reach…I don't need to wait any longer to know how deeply in love with you I am…You gave me something I never thought I'd ever be capable of having. You gave me something worth more than all the treasures on this world combined. And I don't want anymore question as to who my heart and my life belong to. It's you. It's always going to be you. Marry me, Regina…Please."

Regina couldn't help but chuckle softly, tears running down her cheeks like flowing streams as her heart pounded so hard in her chest she couldn't even hear the sounds of her surroundings over the sound of the blood rushing in her ears. She barely knew what was going on for a moment, but she knew she was nodding fervently before she tightened her hold on Emma and hugged her tightly.

"Yes!" she sobbed into the captain's shoulder. "Yes…gods yes!"


"Emma and Regina haven't left their cabin since dinner." Belle mused. "Do you think they're alright?"

"Psht." Ruby scoffed with a smirk. "I bet Regina's doing her best to make the captain feel better."

"Oh." Belle rolled her eyes. "You're vile."

"Am I now?" Ruby said, coming up behind her and wrapping her arms around the younger girl's waist. "Well then, I suppose it's a good thing you don't like me or anything like that, gods know you'd have to deal with how vile I am all the time if that were the case."

"Oh." Belle rolled her eyes, turning in Ruby's arms and wrapping hers around the older woman's neck. "You're just trying to make me feel guilty so that I'll say that I do actually like you very much…in fact my fondness for you surpasses 'like' and immediately reaches the classification of 'love'."

"You're just using big words to confuse me." Ruby narrowed her eyes at her. "But I know you just said that you love me."

"I did." Belle nodded.

"Well it's a good thing you do, cause I love you too, and if you didn't then it'd just be awkward." Ruby shrugged. "'Specially since we've been fucking every night."

"Oh." Belle scoffed, slapping Ruby's shoulder playfully and getting an eye roll from the older woman as she pushed her away lightly so she could go back to her book.

The older brunette milled about the room, taking off her vest and hat and sitting on the bed with a sigh, unsure how to broach the subject she wanted to talk about. She cleared her throat and tried to be as subtle as possible.

"You know, it's curious how Regina never seems to ask any questions about Emma anymore." She said. "It's curious that you don't either."

Belle eyed Ruby warily, looking back to her book when Ruby looked over her shoulder towards the younger girl.

"I suppose I know when things aren't particularly my business." Belle shrugged. Ruby just chuckled.

"Or you know when simply asking for answers won't get you what you want, so you go off and find them on your own." The pirate thought aloud. Belle raised a brow and tilted her head.

"Are you accusing me of something?" she asked. Ruby shook her head.

"Come on, love, you know as well as I do that I don't have to accuse you of anything." She said. "I know, Belle."

"You know what?" Belle asked.

"That you and Regina know who Emma really is." Ruby stated without hesitation. "That you found out. I can't for the life of me figure out how you did it, but you did."

"And what makes it so obvious to you then?" Belle asked.

"Regina stopped asking questions." Ruby shrugged. "Even when for all intents and purposes, she had even more of a right to know about Emma's past. Also, I saw you sneaking a couple of books out of the house to the mansion. If you were simply loaning Regina the books, you wouldn't have thought to exercise caution by hiding them under your shirt."

"Shit." Belle sighed, shutting her book and tossing it beside her on the mattress with a soft thud. "I thought I saw you around."

"You know I still can't read, right? Even if I had seen you with the books in your hands I wouldn't have known what they were." Ruby chuckled in amusement. "As it stands, your precaution was your undoing."

"Yes I suppose then it was." Belle sighed, crossing her arms and avoiding Ruby's gaze. "Are you angry?"

"No." Ruby shook her head. "I'm honestly not surprised. Regina's the curious sort, I knew that the minute I met you two. And you? With all your books and your lust for adventure, how could you possibly resist solving the mystery of the elusive captain Swan?"

Belle looked at her curiously. "Your vocabulary's grown."

"You've been reading to me. I can know words even if I don't know how to read or write them yet." Ruby shrugged.

"My fault then, is it?" Belle teased.

"Indeed it is." Ruby chuckled, letting a silence linger over them for a moment. "I won't tell her."

"You won't?" Belle furrowed her brow. "But why not? She's your friend…And…well there is an element of betrayal on Regina's end isn't there?"

"I won't lie, if I were in the captain's shoes and you pulled this stunt on me, I'd be pissed beyond all reason. And for the record I didn't exactly like finding out you were involved. But your actions are your own, I have no control over them." She sighed. "And as for Regina…I've never seen Emma so happy, I've never seen her so…free. And if I tell her that the woman she loves more than life itself betrayed her like that, it would crush her. I can't do that to her. Not after everything she's been through. Losing Regina may just kill her. I won't be a part of that."

"That's the reason why Regina doesn't want to tell her, you know?" Belle shrugged. "She didn't want to hurt her. Not to mention the fact that…well we weren't sure if anyone else knew who Emma really was…we wanted to avoid accidentally sparking the fires of a revolution. For Emma's sake. Do you really think Cora would rest until she killed Emma if an uprising to put her back on the throne of the Isles happened?"

"No, I don't suppose she would." Ruby shook her head. "For the record, there are those who know. Jack, Abbie, Granny and myself. But the rest of the cape don't really know, especially the younger generations. The people your age and so on. Cora did a good job of fucking around with history and erasing all the good Snow and David have done…"

"Snow and David?" Belle asked. Ruby sighed mournfully.

"Queen Snow and King David…Emma's parents." She explained. Tears sprang to her eyes so quickly Belle was shocked to see it. "My mother was her handmaiden…Snow took care of us like we were family. When my mother died, she kept us fed and housed and never expected anything in return…She'd come visit every time they came to the cape."

"They visited frequently then?" Belle asked.

"The mansion was their summer home." Ruby explained. "A gift from King Leopold when Snow married David. They'd live in Misthaven and vacation on the Isles…Emma and I were mates since we were children in truth…as a child she'd always wander around the cape, the trouble we'd get into…"

The pirate chuckled and wiped a stray tear from her cheek. "When I heard Emma had been kidnapped-"

"Kidnapped?!" Belle's eyes went wide.

"That war was a mess from start to finish Belle." Ruby shook her head. "Emma'd been kidnapped by Cora. She was held prisoner for around three months. And while Snow and David tried to negotiate for her release, I caught word that a rebel group was planning on sneaking into Cora's palace and freeing Emma in secret. The plan was she'd return to the isles and then Snow and David would be free to go to war with Cora. I signed on without a second thought. I can't tell you how much Granny cussed me out when I told her. But in the end I boarded that ship with her blessing. We were so confident we'd succeed. We were ready to die for the cause."

"That's incredible." Belle sighed.

"It was stupid." Ruby scoffed. "Cora got wind of our plans and sent a ship of assassins to sack Snow and David's palace. While we were freeing Emma, they were getting slaughtered. We arrived to the White Isle and went straight to the palace to find them dead. I'd never seen anyone break down like Emma had that day…A part of her died that day along with her parents."

Belle gulped, unable to even imagine what Emma had gone through at that moment.

"She wanted to put it all behind her. She did for the longest time. But every time I look at her since that day, I can still see the hole in her heart that Cora ripped open. She had this light in her eyes when she was younger, it got snuffed out after that day…and I never saw it again…not until the morning after the sweet shores." Ruby went on. "Regina brought back a part of her that I thought was dead and gone. And if she ever finds out that you two were snooping on her behind her back…I don't think a person can survive losing so much in one lifetime. So I won't tell her. And you and Regina need to forget all you know about who Emma was and keep in mind who she is now. She's worked hard to bury her past and leave as much of it behind her as she can, you need to as well, for her sake…and your own. Gods know when she gets angry, the consequences can be dire."

"You don't think she'd hurt Regina?" Belle asked.

"No." Ruby shook her head. "Come to think of it I can't imagine what she'd do given the gravity of the situation. But I don't really want to think about it too much. Just heed my warning love, please."

Belle nodded. "Alright."

"Thank you." Ruby sighed, scooting up further on the bed to lean down and kiss Belle's lips softly. "And learn how to sneak around better, you'd be shit in a raid."

"Pft." Belle slapped her shoulder lightly. "That's why I keep you around."

"Mmmhm, is that all you keep me around for then?" Ruby teased, her hands sliding up under Belle's vest and getting the younger girl to giggle.

"Oh…I suppose you have other uses." She teased.

"Shall I remind you of them?" Ruby raised a brow and smirked at her.

"Perhaps a revision would be useful." Belle chuckled as Ruby's hands began to explore her like they always did when things were heating up.

"Always so studious." The pirate teased. "Come then, let's go through your list of favourites."

Chapter Text

Three days later.

Regina stood at the front of the ship, leaning forward on the railing as they sailed smoothly towards the Cape, which had just come into clear view. She couldn't help the sense of excitement that made her heart flutter every now and then. This would be the third time she'd arrived at the cape after a journey. But just like when they arrived back after the raid on the sweet shores, she knew this time it would signal the start of a brand new part of her greatest adventure. The part where she built a whole new life with Emma.

There it was, she grinned towards the cape in the distance, that heart flutter again. She sighed softly.

"Everything alright?"

She nearly jumped out of her skin, or overboard. "Fuck!"

"Oh my." Belle looked at her with wide eyes when Regina cursed.

"You scared me." The princess giggled.

"So you curse like a sailor?" Belle teased.

"Well I might as well." Regina shrugged. "I am becoming one."

"Fair enough, though you'll forgive me if I leave my share of the cursing to Ruby." Belle rolled her eyes. "You've been standing out here alone for an hour. Emma doesn't seem upset so I'll safely assume things between you two are well."

"They're more than 'well' actually." Regina chuckled. "But yes, we're…everything is…damn near perfect."

"Well then." The younger girl gave her a curious smirk. "That's certainly better than expected after how this journey turned out."

"Depending on how you look at it, Belle, this journey ended in the most brilliant way." Regina was grinning before she could even think to stop herself. Belle raised a brow.

"You're depriving me of details again!" she accused. Regina nodded a little.

"I'm sorry." She laughed. "I just didn't think Emma would want me to tell anyone before we announced it officially."

"Announced…what?" Belle's eyes went wide. Regina let out a long, happy sigh.

"Well…The night we left the White Isle…she proposed." The older girl dropped slowly. Belle gasped.

"You…she…you two…you're…" the noble girl bit her lip to stop herself from squealing in excitement at her friend's announcement and just jumped forward, engulfing her in a hug. "Good gods Regina you're getting married!"

"Yes!" the princess laughed and hugged her best friend tightly. "I mean…all in good time…Emma wants the house fixed up before we do. But I know just by looking at her that she's already got plans in that beautiful blonde head of hers. I wouldn't be surprised if we woke up to men starting work tomorrow."

"I wouldn't either." Belle shrugged. "Ruby might be pissed if they wake her up though."

"I doubt there is any reason for waking Ruby up before noon that she won't be pissed at." Regina teased.

"I can give you several, but they're all exclusive to me and a little naughty." Belle joked, getting a playful slap on her shoulder from the princess.

"You're awful!" Regina giggled. She sighed softly again, turning to look at the cape once more, Belle leaning against the railing next to her. "Did you ever think we could go on such an incredible adventure?"

"I always dreamed of it…The thrill, the risk, falling in love with someone so beautiful and so different from the life I've known so far." Belle shook her head. "But this? This surpasses anything I could have ever dreamt of."

"And here, you were the one with all the storybooks." Regina chuckled.

"Honestly? Ever since we got here, all the stories I've read have paled in comparison. It's bittersweet really, to think that something once gave me so much joy is almost boring now, only because my life turned into some kind of crazy, incredible adventure." Belle shrugged.

"Then why is it that you've still got a book in your hands every chance you get?" Regina asked. Belle blushed a little.

"Ruby enjoys it when I read to her." She said. Regina chuckled and dropped her head on Belle's shoulder.

"That's so sweet." She said, a small chuckle escaping her lips. "Pirates Belle…we're consorting with pirates."

Belle giggled, recalling her outburst that honestly seemed so long ago, when they'd first arrived on the cape. "Indeed we are…It's been a blast so far."

"Indeed it has." Regina nodded. "Belle?"

"Hmm?" the younger girl hummed.

"Would you be my maid of honor?" Regina asked. Belle grinned.

"As if you even need to ask." Belle said, hugging her friend from the side. "I would be delighted."


"Here." Emma said, handing a bottle of rum to Ruby. The quartermaster raised her brow at the bottle and then towards her captain before she took the bottle.

"What's the occasion?" she asked before taking a sip.

"I'm getting married."

A mouthful of rum found its way shot out of Ruby's mouth, and onto a poor, unsuspecting crewman who was on his knees scrubbing the deck clean with a brush.

"What the fuck, Swan?!" Ruby barked at her captain. Emma couldn't help but laugh.

"You soaked the poor bastard!" she said, holding her gut.

"I don't give a fuck, what did you just say to me?" Ruby punched her shoulder.

"Alright alright." Emma waved her off. "Calm down."

"No." Ruby crossed her arms and took another swig from her bottle.

"I asked Regina to marry me." The captain explained. "She said yes."

"Colour me fuckin' surprised." Ruby rolled her eyes. "What made you decide to ask?"

"Ironically enough?" Emma asked. "Nolan."

"The old bastard?" the younger brunette asked her friend with a weird look sent her way. "How's that?"

The blonde shook her head with a sigh. "Son of a bitch put me in…a bad spot…Took me back to a moment I'd rather forget. It was awful, I'll be honest with you. Like I was back there, my hand closing my mother's eyes for the last time."

"I know." Ruby nodded. "I could see that…I'm sorry you had to go through that again Swan."

"He's a bastard and he'll burn in hell if the gods are as wise as we think." Emma sighed. "But the point is that…Just when I thought I was gonna lose it and attack him…Regina pulled me out. With just her voice. She kept me grounded and I didn't feel as upset, as…scared…just cause she was there with me. And even after that, when I tried to close in on myself like I always do when someone touches my past…she wouldn't let me. I tried to shut her out along with the rest of the world and she wouldn't let me do it. And I realised that I felt better by talking about what happened to me just then…by…letting her in."

"So you asked her to marry you because you realised your life is better with her in it." Ruby nodded.

"Knew you'd understand Lucas." Emma smirked. "So…I'm gonna need a maid of honor. Will you do it?"

"Do I have to wear a dress?" Ruby made a face.

"Fuck that, even I'm not wearing one." Emma scoffed.

"I'll do it." Ruby nodded. Emma pulled another bottle of rum out of her coat pocket and pulled the cork off with her mouth, spitting it out (and hitting the crewman Ruby had accidentally drenched in rum on the head with it) and held the bottle out for Ruby to tap hers against it in a toast before they each took a long swig from their bottles. Ruby let out a satisfied sigh before she contemplated her net question.

"I'm wondering, Swan." She began. "Will you ever tell Regina the truth of who you really are?"

"Why would I do that?" Emma sighed.

"Because you're marrying her." Ruby said. "You just gave this whole speech about how she made you feel safe and shit…shouldn't that mean you can trust her with your past?"

"It's not that I don't trust her with my past, Ruby." Emma sighed. "But she's fiery…if I tell her the truth…gods know she'd fight tooth and nail to get me a throne."

"Or she'd just wait out her mother's death." Ruby shrugged. "She's the rightful heir to Cora's throne. The minute she's gone-"

"Gods know when that'll be…if that'll be." Emma said.

"Everyone dies eventually, Swan." Ruby said. Emma gulped.

"Not Cora." She shook her head. "Not if her plans have worked."

"Wait…you don't mean…" Ruby's brow furrowed. "The dust?"

"It's what she wanted it for." Emma shrugged. "I told you that back when you rescued me, remember?"

"Of course I remember…I just didn't think it was possible…How do you know it is?" Ruby asked.

"Just before the war started, when Cora started trying to have negotiations with my mother. I asked her what all the fuss was about, and she figured it was time to explain it to me. There were experts of course, people who'd spent their life studying about the dust's powers. They told me what Cora wanted to do with it…There was no way we could let it happen." Emma sighed. "And if she's succeeded since then…there's no getting rid of her."

"I don't see what this has to do with Regina." Ruby shrugged.

"If I tell her the truth, if I tell her what her mother waged the war for - which I suppose I'll have to if I tell her the truth about who I am - Then she won't stop until she takes her mother down. She knows me, sure enough, but I know her as well. That girl's got a fire in her heart that you can't snuff out even if you pour all the water in all the seven seas onto it. And I'll wager my life on the fact that she'll have no problem getting support from the people of the isles. I don't want another war…it's not worth it." Emma said with finality.

"Even if it means lying to her for the rest of your life?" Ruby asked.

"Only about my past. This is who I am now. The past doesn't matter." The captain shrugged.

"Look, it's your past, so it's your decision and I'll keep my nose out of it." The brunette began. "But that's bullshit, and you know it."


But the quartermaster wouldn't stay to listen to her excuses any longer, and Ruby walked away before Emma could try to reason with her.


Docking at the Cape was always a celebrated affair, regardless of the reason behind their journey, they always found a crowd of people waiting to greet them. The fact that some people were making their way to the tavern at the time the ship approached the dock may have also had something to do with it, after all, the captain had become notorious for buying the whole village a round of drinks after a journey had come to an end.

This time, however, Emma had asked Regina to join her at the mansion once she'd caught up with everyone, and made her own way there ahead of the princess.

"She alright?" Granny asked Ruby when she'd finished hugging her granddaughter.

"I'm sure she's fine." Ruby shrugged.

"How'd it go with Nolan?" Granny asked. "Is he still a bastard?"

"He's gotten worse with age." Ruby scoffed. "But…she pulled through better than we expected…Thanks to Regina."

"Oh I…" Regina blushed. "It could have been anyone."

"But it was you." Belle teased.

"Oh you two leave the poor girl alone." Granny waved off. "No trouble with the army then?"

"Thankfully not. In and out like Emma wanted." Ruby nodded.

"Then why is she not here drinking?" Granny asked.

"That's got something to do with me I'm afraid, she asked me to meet her there. I suppose I shouldn't keep her waiting." Regina said. "I'll try and convince her to come down for a drink or two though."

"Good girl." Granny said, giving her an affectionate squeeze on her arm before the princess began to walk away.

"Oh, Regina wait." Belle followed her. "Let me walk with you a little I uhh…have something to tell you."

"Oh?" the older brunette raised a brow as Belle linked her arm with Regina's and kept walking.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you before…I suppose I just got caught up in the moment we were having." The younger girl opened.

"It's alright…what is it Belle?" Regina asked curiously, unable to mask the hint of concern in her voice at that point.

"It's Ruby." Belle gulped. "She knows…that we know about Emma."

"She knows…" Regina slowly absorbed what Belle was saying. "Oh."

"I'm apparently not as sneaky as I once thought." She chuckled nervously. "But she's promised not to tell anyone anything. She understands why we can't tell Emma that we know…In fact she's adamant that we don't."

"She is?" the older brunette asked, looking at her friend with worried expression. Belle sighed.

"She gave me a little bit more information on what actually happened to Emma." She said. Regina shook her head.

"No." She sighed. "No more snooping, that's what we agreed."

"I know." Belle nodded. "Ruby said…well she's worried Emma wouldn't be able to handle it very well if she found out that we went behind her back."

Regina let out a long, sad sigh. "I curse the day I started that damned journal."

"Why don't we get rid of it?" Belle suggested. "Let go of the past…like Emma wants to. And you two can have the life you want together."

Regina nodded. "I'll get rid of it. Thank you Belle."

The princess turned and hugged her friend tightly. "I couldn't have picked a better friend to have this adventure with."

"You picked nothing, you stowed away on a bloody ship." Belle teased. "But I'm glad you did."

"I am too." Regina chuckled. "I need to go to Emma…"

"You do." Belle nodded. "I'll see you later?"

"Perhaps." The older girl winked before she stepped away, leaving Belle to shake her head at her before she returned to Ruby.

Regina found herself actually rushing in her pace to get to the mansion, between not wanting to keep Emma waiting and her genuine excitement for whatever it was that the blonde wanted her home for.

"Emma?" she called into the otherwise empty mansion when she walked through the door.

"In here." The captain called from her study, of course, Regina thought with a fond roll of her eyes, where else would she be?

"If you pulled me away from the festivities to talk about your inventory I might just slap you." The brunette teased as she walked into the room, noting the way Emma was standing, face forward in the middle of the room, with her hands behind her desk.

"No love, of course not." The blonde smirked. "But…There's something that's got to be done."

"Is there?" Regina smirked. "And what would that be?"

Emma went down on one knee and Regina's eyes went a little wide. She didn't even have time to ask what the blonde was doing when her hands came around from behind her back, a small wooden box in them.

"Emma…I…uhm." She gulped. This was odd, she'd already been proposed to an accepted, so why was it that she felt like it was happening all over again?

"I figure I should do this properly." Emma smiled up at her, gently pulled the box open to reveal a ring made of a silver band and a moderately sized peridot gem at the top. "Regina, will you marry me?"

The answer left Regina's mouth without much effort. "Yes, Emma of course I will."

"Good, I'd worried you'd changed your mind." The blonde chuckled. She lifted the ring up in Regina's direction. "May I?"

"Of course." Regina extended her left hand and Emma took it gently, taking the ring out of the box with her other hand and gently slipping it onto the princess' finger.

"Perfect." The captain smiled up at her. Regina grinned back and clasped Emma's hand tighter, pulling her up into a standing position and falling easily into her arms.

"Absolutely perfect." She sighed happily. "I love you so much."

"I'd hope so, given you're marrying me." Emma teased, earning herself a playful slap on her shoulder. She laughed and kissed Regina's forehead. "I love you too, Regina."

The brunette sighed contentedly again, resting her head gently against Emma's chest, extending her hand to admire the ring that now donned her finger. "It's so beautiful."

"It was my mother's." Emma said idly as she held the princess. "Well, my father gave it to her when he proposed."

"I'm glad you didn't lose it." Regina said.

"I'm glad I got to give it to someone who I love as much as my father loved my mother." Emma responded. "They had this kind of love that lasts the ages. The kind you only dream of, really."

"I don't need to dream anymore." Regina smiled up at the captain, who looked down at her in question before she realised what the brunette meant and smiled brightly at her.

"No, I suppose I don't either."

That was the last thing Emma had a chance to say before her lips were claimed by Regina, just like her heart was.


When Regina stirred to the waking world the next day, she couldn't help the smile on her face at the memory of the activities that had taken place in that bed the night before. Memories of Emma's arms wrapped tightly around her and the captain's hands all over her took the place of fading dreams as she opened her eyes.

"Mmh, Emma?" she cleared her throat, still hoarse and dry from sleep, and reached out for the blonde, but the other side of the bed was empty. She sat up in bed, yawning and stretching, and as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes, saw Emma standing, fully clothed and silent. She was about to say something when she saw what the captain was holding and her blood ran cold.

She was holding her journal.

Chapter Text

Emma woke up with a soft warmth all over her body, and it took her a couple of minutes to come to properly and realize that that delicious warmth and weight around her body was Regina, tangled up in her arms, and Emma had been nuzzled into the crook of her neck, hidden away from life's troubles.

She chuckled softly at herself. Gods…I really did become a sap.

The captain glanced up at the grandfather clock that ticked away across the room from her, taunting her with the time. She groaned softly. She really did have to get up, despite how much she'd rather not. But then she smirked, the ring on Regina's finger catching a ray of sun and reflecting into her memory, she had a mansion to fix up, a first step to take towards a new life with the princess.

She leaned down, pressing a soft kiss to the heated skin of Regina's neck. "When all this is over, we won't leave the bed for days, love."

She got a sleepy grumble in response, Regina still fast asleep. She chuckled softly and pressed another kiss to Regina's temple before she gently extracted herself from the princess and tucked the sheets around her to try and preserve as much warmth from the brunette as she could. Thankfully, Regina was a deep sleeper…especially when Emma kept her up quite late into the night with…certain activities.

She picked up her clothes, putting them on as she found them strewn around the room, and made her way downstairs to her study when she was fully dressed.

"Mornin' Cap'n." Abbie said with a smile as she brought her her tea.

"Mornin' lass." Emma smiled at her. Abbie gave her a knowing smirk and said no more, leaving her to her work. With a sip of her tea, Emma opened her books to begin…only to find she'd run out of ink.

"Ah shit." She muttered under her breath. A run to the general goods store would set her schedule behind. But hadn't she heard the distinct sound of a glass bottle moving around when she'd moved Regina's writing desk to her chambers?

The princess had been surprised to find that the desk had been moved.

I figured you'd prefer having it here." Emma had said as she shrugged. "It's no bother is it?"

"Of course not, captain." Regina had smiled and given her a chaste kiss. "On the contrary, it's very thoughtful, thank you."

She never put her finger on why Regina had been so hesitant about the desk being moved, but she shrugged. Sometimes, the princess was just as enigmatic as she was. Perhaps that helped her attraction, she thought as she climbed back up the stairs and into her room. She went over to the desk silently, trying not to disturb Regina as she slept, and attempted to pull the drawer open. It opened just a little bit, and then got stuck.

"Come on, bastard." She hissed, gripping the drawer tighter and using considerable force to pull it open. Curse her luck, the drawer picked that moment to loosen, and she ended up pulling the whole thing out of it's slot in the desk, dropping it's contents on the floor.

"Son of a bitch." Emma grumbled under her breath, glancing over at Regina to make sure she hadn't woken the girl up. She sighed in relief and moved to pick up the black, leather bound journal that had fallen open.

Now Emma Swan was never one to meddle in anyone's private affairs, and would have never read her lover's secret journal. Alas, her eyes fell on the open page and caught her name, followed by a list. And her curiosity got the best of her.

As she read over the list, her heart rate picked up, the blood pumping in her ears drowning out any other noise, her mind going numb to just about anything else. She only realized her hands were shaking when she dropped a loose page from the journal, and as she moved, slowly, to pick it up, her eyes fell on a portrait that she hadn't seen in so long, she had almost completely forgotten about it.

"Mmh…Emma?" she vaguely registered a voice saying, and some movement in front of her. It took a second for her to remember that Regina was in the room. And by the time she had, Regina was looking up at her with horror in her eyes at the sight of Emma with that book in her hands.

"E-Emma…" Regina stammered. "I…I can explain."

Green eyes snapped up at her, their gaze so cold she felt like they were piercing her skin.

"Explain?" Emma's voice was low, rumbling. "Explain what?"

Regina gulped. "I just…"

But she didn't have the chance to finish her thought before Emma threw the journal clear across the room, denting a wooden board in the wall. Regina flinched at the slam, and looked back at Emma.

"Get dressed. And then get the fuck out of my chambers."

Regina opened her mouth again to speak, but Emma stormed out and slammed the door behind her before she had the chance to.

"Oh gods." The princess sighed. Uncertainty washed over her. Should she go after the captain? Or let her cool off.

She knew one thing, disobeying her and staying in this room at this point would only anger her further. This wasn't the disgruntled captain who'd been annoyed at Regina's haughtiness like when they met. This was a fully heartbroken Emma, and a completely different situation had to be handled differently as well.

When she got dressed and went downstairs, she found Emma in her Study, but as she tried to step towards it, she found Abbie intercepting her.

"I'm sorry Regina…she asked me to tell you to…leave her be." The blonde girl gulped.

"Oh…" Regina sighed and gave her a nod. "Alright."

Let her cool off it was then. She turned and stepped out to the back garden, perhaps some fresh air would make her feel better…a part of her doubted it.

She vaguely caught sight of a man rushing into the room and asking Abbie for the captain, something about an important message. But Regina's head was too full of her own thoughts to listen properly, and she was outside and out of ear shot before she could hear what it was about.

Emma never did deal well with betrayal and heartbreak. She vaguely remembered sweeping off all the stationary on her desk in a fit of rage. And did the hole in the wall behind her have anything to do with her scratched and bloodied knuckles?

She had no idea what was going on around her, she couldn't even begin to think about collecting her thoughts.

And then the messenger came in.

"Cap'n!" he said, rushing in and taking off his hat. His eyes briefly glanced over the items strewn around the floor that shouldn't have been there and gulped. "Beggin' yer pardon sir…I have an important message ye see."

"Give it." Emma held out her hand. The man stepped over and handed her the letter, his hand shaking a little anxiously. Emma snatched the parchment and opened it, her eyes going over the words without her mind taking any of them in. She sighed and read it over again.

Dear Captain Swan.

In response to the request which you so thoughtfully left with Ambassador French upon your encounter with him during his voyage, I would like to inform you that I will kindly accept your offer. On one condition.

Given the dangers that pose themselves in your region, I charge you to return my daughter and Lady Belle French yourself. You are to dock at Misthaven Royal Port and escort her highness and Lady Belle to the palace yourself. Upon their arrival in a safe and healthy state, I will gladly pay you the ransom which you so kindly requested.

Please bear in mind that should you fail to carry out your end of our trade, I will take the necessary military action required to see that my daughter is returned to me.

Wishing you a good voyage,

Cora, Queen of Misthaven  and  The Celestial Isles.

She barely read through the last word before she crushed the letter in her hand.

"Get Ms. Lucas in here. Now." She demanded.

"Shit." Ruby spat in anger when Emma finished telling her the contents of Cora's letter. "How the fuck are we gonna take on the bloody navy?"

"We're not." Emma shook her head.

"But she said-"

"We're taking them back." Emma said. "I won't sacrifice the people of this village."

"Quit joking around Swan." Ruby waved her off. But a slam on Emma's desk made her jump.

"I am not joking around, Lucas!" Emma barked. "We're getting them on that ship and taking them back to Misthaven. Get the crew."

"No." Ruby shook her head. "You…you can't be serious."

"As serious as the gallows." Emma said, looking Ruby dead in the eyes.

"You found out about the journal, didn't you?" Ruby said dreadfully. "Dammit I told them to-"

"You knew?!" Emma barked. "You knew all along?!"

"I only found out recently." Ruby said. "And I warned them against it."

"All the good that fucking did." Emma huffed. "It doesn't matter. You have your orders."

"You can't do this." Ruby shouted. "Never mind what the fuck you're feeling right now, that's your business. But you can't take Belle away from me like that!"

"Thank you, Ms. Lucas, for reminding me that my own private affairs are in fact my business and no one else's!" Emma shouted back. "Now if you'd rather have your home razed to the ground by Cora and her fucking military, be my fucking guest! But I'm not letting people die over you and how smitten you are over some girl. If you wanna try and stand in my way, that's your death wish."

"You wouldn't dare." Ruby challenged.

"Fucking try me!" Emma barked. "You know the pirate's penalty for going against your orders. You're not immune to them."

"Fine." Ruby clenched her jaw. "I'll sail with you to take the girls back home, just to make sure Belle's safe on the way. But when we come back, Swan. You and I are through, and I'll not want to see your bloody face again, do you hear me?!"

"That's your prerogative, Lucas, just as long as you follow my orders while you're on my ship." Emma said. Ruby spat on the floor in anger before she walked out, but not before she heard Emma's order. "Get the girls in here!"

Belle had woken up when Ruby was called to Emma's study, and stepped outside when the older woman had. She knew something was going on, the way the man who had summoned her had shaken as he spoke, not to mention that something felt…off…in the atmosphere.

She knew something bad had happened when she caught sight of Regina sitting out on a bench, and very obviously wiping tears from her eyes.

She rushed over to her friend in concern.

"Regina? What's wrong?" she asked. The older brunette looked up at her with red eyes and pink cheeks.

"Oh Belle…" she sighed, her breath hitching in a soft sob. "It's awful…she's so angry."

"Who? Emma?" Belle asked. The princess nodded. "Why?"

"She…she found the journal." Regina sniffled. "And her portrait."

"I thought you were getting rid of it." Belle said, sitting down beside Regina and pulling her close.

"I…I was going to…" the older girl sobbed, seeking out her friend for comfort. "She brought me here last night and I had the full intention…but then she…she gave me this."

Belle looked down when she felt Regina's hand moving and she caught sight of the ring. "Oh my gods!"

"It was her mother's." Regina sniffled. "And then we…well…I got…distracted."

"Oh…" Belle tried to stifle her chuckle. "Of course you did."

"And then this morning she…I don't know how…she found the journal…she got so angry…Belle I think I've ruined it for good!" Regina sobbed into her shoulder.

"Oh sweetheart." Belle soothed, running a gentle hand through her hair which Regina didn't even have the frame of mind to braid amidst all the confusion. "It will all be alright, she'll cool off and then you two can talk about it."

Regina shook her head. "I'm so scared Belle."

"Of what?" Belle asked.

"She hates me." Regina sniffled. "If she doesn't…if she decides she doesn't want to marry me anymore…doesn't want me anymore…I'll never love anyone like I love her, I know I won't."

"I know, I understand." Belle nodded, holding on to Regina tightly. "It's alright, I'm right here."

They sat in silence, Belle allowing Regina the time she needed to let it all out and calm down.

"Where's Ruby" Regina asked after a while, her voice hoarse from all the crying.

"There's something going on." Belle sighed. "A man came over and told her Emma asked her to come to her study…he seemed…well…terrified."

"I don't blame him…Emma can be scary when she's truly enraged." Regina sighed. "It's all my fault."

"Stop that." Belle chided softly. "You blame yourself too much."

"I should have never started that stupid journal." Regina sighed. "Seeing Emma this angry…this hurt, It wasn't worth it."

"Because it was entirely fair for her to hide her past?" Belle asked, looking at Regina pointedly.

"Well…no." The older brunette sighed again. "But two wrongs do not make a right. And she was starting to open up to me…I should have just been patient."

"If I say that's fair enough will you stop hating yourself so much?" Belle asked.

"Not really." Regina sighed. "But I do enjoy being right, regardless."

Belle was about to reassure her friend again when they heard the distinct sounds of Ruby and Emma's shouting come from the house.

"Oh no." Regina said, dread washing over her. "Whatever's happening. It's bad."

Ruby stormed out of the house to the garden, and from the way the quartermaster was rubbing at her eyes, Belle had to agree with Regina. That's when she realized the older woman was approaching them, her hand instinctively fell to Regina's and held on tightly. Whatever was happening, it involved them.

"Ruby." She said, looking up at the brunette who sniffled as she approached them.

"Captain needs a word." The pirate said, not looking either of the girls in the eyes.

"What's going on?" Belle asked again. Ruby finally looked up and her eyes locked with the younger girl's, a gentle hand coming up to her cheek a second later. While the inquisitive noble girl tried to read into whatever had upset her lover, Ruby leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her forehead.

"I'm sorry." Ruby croaked out softly. Suddenly the hand on her cheek was gone and Ruby's presence was replaced by the cool island breeze. Watching Ruby walk away from Belle like that felt Regina with a serious sense of dread.

"I know you want to believe it'll all be alright Belle…but I fear you might be wrong this time around." She gulped. Belle nodded.

"I fear the same…let's go. Last thing we should do at this point is keep Emma waiting and piss her off." She said. Regina's hand slipped into hers, seeking out the comfort and safety she could always rely on Belle to provide when she needed it.

"Whatever happens Regina, we heal together, like we agreed." Belle said, pulling her into a one-sided hug. "Come on, let's go."

They walked to Emma's office with some trepidation, reasonably anxious about whatever they were about to walk into.

When they stepped inside, everything seemed to be a blur for Regina. Emma telling them she received a letter from the queen, the captain handing said letter off to Belle, the younger girl's shocked expression at reading the letter.

When it was finally passed on to her, she barely registered the words she was reading, but she could practically hear her mother's voice as she read them, dripping with sarcasm and malice. She just barely noticed how her hand started shaking.

"We…" Regina stammered as she put the letter down. "We can fight! We can take her, she's not going to send a huge battalion to one tiny island she'll-"

"No." Emma said, now back behind her desk, not looking up at her. "You pack whatever things you want to keep, you're going home."

"Captain I know you're worried but-" Belle tried.

"I'm not worried about anything." Emma snapped. "I've made my decision, you're going home. The both of you."

"Emma please!" Regina cried. Green eyes snapped to brown and the princess' blood ran cold. She wasn't even speaking to her Emma anymore. This was someone else. This was the Emma you talked to when you earned her hatred.

"Enough." The captain ordered. "I say again, my decision's been made. We leave at dawn."

Regina couldn't help the sob that broke free of her lips, and all at once she felt Belle's arms wrap around her - the younger girl not afraid to comfort the princess when she knew the captain wouldn't.

"You're being unbelievably cruel." Belle accused the blonde.

"I'm doing what I have to do to keep my people safe!" Emma barked at her.

"I thought we were your people." Belle shot back. Emma took in a deep breath and looked from Regina, still held in Belle's arms, to the intelligent girl.

"You were. You could have been." The blonde said, her voice leveled and as calm as she could be at this point. "But I can't forgive a betrayal like that. From anyone."

A soft sob escaped Regina again and Emma shut her eyes, fighting off every instinct in her to protect the girl, she damned her own heart for making Regina more important than herself. And then pushed against what it was telling her. It wouldn't be the first time she went against her heart's wishes.

"Get out, prepare your things, say your goodbyes. You're going home."

"This is home!" Regina sobbed out her protest, lifting her head from Belle's chest for only a moment.

"I hate to say it." Emma swallowed thickly. "But there's no place for you here, not anymore."