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High Seas Or Low Seas

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Lieutenant Killian Jones looked up to the sky taking in a breath of air, thick with salt. it was almost daybreak but there were remnants of the night’s constellations still shining, a wonderful day to start a voyage. he stepped onto the gangway and made his way onto the deck, seeing the silhouette of his brother Liam (this was his maiden voyage as captain) he felt pride not just in his brother but in himself, this was after all, his first voyage as an officer.

Killian joined the crew, diligently going about their business preparing the ship for departure within the hour, ensuring everything was in order. Despite his anxieties about his first official mission, any insecurities were trumped by the excitement and anticipation of adventure on the high seas.

**********************

It had been two days since Jewel of the Realm had set sail and while things aboard were always bustling, Killian found the boredom had set in rather quickly once the day’s duties were complete. He resorted to filling his spare time with studying his Brother’s books and maps and when that was not possible he would sit and sketch whatever caught his eye.

The third day aboard had been terribly uneventful, however the constant racket and hustle of the deck was driving him to insanity; so he had gone to find some semblance of a quiet place.

He was just about to begin a new book, something on astronomy; when a high pitched scream pierced through the general babble of the crew. springing to his feet, not out of fear, but concern; he was quick to reach the deck to see what the commotion was and began to wade through the tightly packed crew. Getting through would be a struggle and in his haste he may have elbowed one or two of them a little too hard.

When he broke through, the crew went silent. it took him a moment to comprehend the scene before him; two of the larger and rather more intimidating members of the crew, Wolfe and Grey, were backed against the port side rail, both coiled back defensively, Grey’s hands were covering his face in an attempt to staunch the flow of blood gushing from his apparently broken nose. Killian was stunned by the sight, he wouldn't have liked to fight this particular fellow on his best day, and yet someone had mustered the courage. If he weren’t an officer he likely would have congratulated the fellow who managed it.

Still processing the sight of the cowering and bloodied crew men, Killian shifted his focus to look for the culprit when he noticed the mass of long, gentle gold curls in stark contrast to the crew. he cleared his throat and the girl spun, fists raised to face him with such ferocity he had to step back to avoid her. raising his hands to show he meant no harm the girl ceased her attack

That was when he met her wary gaze, she had incredibly green eyes, sparkling like gems, he could have lost himself in the future they held. Snapping quickly back to reality and reluctant to leave the fantasy world he created, he realised he had to say something… anything! **Don't be a such a fucking codfish** he thought to himself.

 

“My name is Lieutenant Killian jones, pleased to meet you milady.”

**Was that the best you could bloody do!!! ** he chastised himself and hoped his awkwardness didn't show

Despite this, the girl’s expression softened a little realising the man before her really meant no harm.
“Pleased to meet you, sir,” she replied politely “I’m pri… Emma,” she stammered.

 

Killian savoured the sound of her name echoing in his head not paying attention to much else. But he knew now was not the time for any of that nonsense and he put on a sterner expression, hoping to hide how awestruck he was.

He quickly ordered the crew to disperse and they scurried away back to their duties. Turning his attention back to Emma, “please, come with me” he gestured in the direction of his quarters (he knew Liam was terribly preoccupied and decided it was best not to bother him yet)

As they walked he prodded her for information on what had just occurred, trying to stay as calm as possible.

“Well then, Emma; now that we have gone through introductions, what in Neptune’s name are you doing aboard this ship? How did you manage to one up Mr Grey, and lastly why was there a need to?”

They reached his quarters and he opened the door allowing her to step inside following her in, he offered her a seat and she began to tell her story;

“Before I tell you, I must thank you for being so kind… I don't think I could have fought off your entire crew, I got rather lucky with the big fellow and while I am terribly sorry about his nose, I am not sorry I did it in the least.”

Killian stared in disbelief, she was terribly refreshing, not weak and swooning like most refined ladies he knew and good humoured as well, here she was apologising for breaking the nose of a man even he was admittedly intimidated by.

“There is nothing to apologise for lass, they should have defended themselves better… though I am rather impressed you would have attempted to wreak havoc on the rest of the bloody crew.”

She giggled at his remark, and the sound of it was the sweetest thing he had ever heard, a cliché to call it musical but closest to describing her laughter. **all these sappy thoughts… how ridiculous! I need to snap out of it, it’s not as if I'm a boy who can’t control his feelings** he couldn’t help but feel like he was an idiot for falling so fast under her enchantment, it hadn’t been ten minutes!

composing herself a moment later she continued her explanation.

“As for what I'm doing here…”

She looked down at her hands ashamedly her cheeks flushing a lovely shade of rose, her voice shaking a little. Was it Anger? Fear? Maybe he was picking up both?

“…I ran away…there was something I was supposed to do but I just couldn’t, I couldn't bring myself to go through with it…so I packed a few things and went to the docks looking for a ship, I saw this one preparing to leave so I slipped into the hold while the captain was making his speech… he went on a bit so it was a very convenient distraction” despite her babbling pace he could tell how carefully her words were being selected, keeping her deeper secrets shrouded from him, though he decided he would not pry.

“I really am sorry to have caused so much trouble” she continued meekly
“I knew I’d be found out eventually but I had no other choice, any other way I would have been discovered… when one of the crew happened upon my hiding place, the superstitious fool started raving about how ‘a woman aboard is terrible bad luck and would doom everyone to the briny depths’…a few followed along.” Her impression of Grey was hilariously accurate and she smiled when he couldn’t hold back a chuckle

“This ‘Mr. Grey’ was trying to throw me overboard, a few of the other men tried to stop him so while he was momentarily distracted I struck him. Grey dropped me when I punched him and I tried to get away but Wolfe, as everyone called him; grabbed hold of me and I hit him as well; that was when you showed up… and I guess that’s it…”

She trailed off, and Killian took the moment of silence to quickly prepare what to say.

“Emma you really shouldn't have stowed away” he began, feeling awkward lecturing a girl clearly very close to his age and it didn’t help he was so attracted to her already.

“Most Captains would not be lenient regarding that particular offence and despite being in the navy, those men could have killed you had they succeeded in throwing you overboard. what you did was incredibly irresponsible…”

As he spoke, Emma reached down and his lecture was cut off with the abrupt clatter of a coin purse landing on his desk.

“I’m happy to pay for my mistake Sir, as long as I end up as far away from Misthaven as possible.”

He loved her sassy attitude and couldn't help but wonder what this wonderful lass possibly had to run from. She was a puzzle he just had to solve with her sky high walls and closely guarded secrets

Chapter Text

Killian stood up and headed for the door. He hadn't even realised their conversation had continued on through the afternoon into the later hours of the night

“Wait here love, I’ll be back in a moment.”

Emma simply nodded in response and he caught the slightest mumble of “I'm not your love”
Little she knew he scoffed

Despite being late he knew it was time to inform Liam, there would be fewer officers left in conference and he was in far more of a favourable position to argue on her behalf if need be. Not that his brother would be anything less of a gentleman towards Emma, he knew it was the rest of the officers that required some convincing.

Killian reached the captain’s cabin and knocked firmly on the carved door.

The heavy door creaked open and Liam grinned at his little brother.

“What can I help you with little brother?” Liam asked almost playfully

Killian shot him a look Liam had seen many times when he called Killian ‘little’. Truthfully he only kept doing it to ruffle Killian’s feathers.

Liam dismissed the officers and Killian began to explain once they had left, glad that his brother preferred to speak in private.

“Liam, it appears we have a rather unexpected guest on the ship… she's a stowaway, and I know that is an issue… but she has offered to compensate us for her passage aboard.”

Liam raised his eyebrow questioningly, pushing for more information

Choosing his words carefully, Killian obliged.

“She's had quite the ordeal after being discovered this afternoon by a few crew members. they attempted to throw her over board for… uhhmm... superstitious reasons…”

Liam, understanding his meaning was noticeably concerned, but they both had a good laugh when Killian mentioned Grey’s bloodied nose.

He recounted the rest of the tale and Liam reacted exactly how he had expected; at first Liam was annoyed at having to worry about a stowaway, however as Killian continued to report he knew he would be more than understanding.

Killian dreaded having to ask if Emma could remain from the moment he stepped into Liam’s quarters, all he could do was hope the answer was favourable for his agenda to get to know this mystery of a girl and not end with her being dropped at the closest port he knew to be a day’s journey away.

It didn’t take much convincing that it wouldn’t be wise to leave a highborn lady unaccompanied on land and Liam agreed Emma should remain. His heart practically leapt out of his chest, and he could not hide his smile from his brother who naturally and accurately teased him of a crush on their passenger of circumstance.

Killian practically sprinted back to his quarters like an excited child let out to play after lessons. After composing himself He quickly informed Emma she was permitted to remain aboard as long as she pleased, with free range of the ship: however, for her own protection aboard Liam had ordered he stay with her as a guard on the reason that “men stuck at sea for months could be likely to have malicious notions when starved for the touch of a woman”. While there were a number who would never dream of being ungentlemanly he couldn’t disagree with Liam’s reasoning.

He hoped to the gods he didn't make it awkward or say anything stupid over the next few months should she stay the duration of their journey. Ever the gentleman; Killian took the floor. Much to Emma’s protest that she was imposing and simply couldn’t see him uncomfortable. He’d organise a cot or a hammock the next day but he appreciated the thought.

***********************

Each day for Killian revolved around completing his duties and seeing Emma as soon as possible.

They became fast friends, often talking into the small hours, sometimes never managing to sleep at all, engrossed in their discussions. She had an incredibly intelligent way of looking at the world and a deliciously wicked sense of humour (almost as dark and filthy as his own) His adoration grew with each passing day and once he managed to get over his nerves to start a conversation it flowed like a gentle evening tide.

weeks passed at sea but with Emma’s company, every moment was made brighter; things smoothed over quickly with the crew and Emma made fast friends with all of them, even Wolfe had become fast friend and obliging chess partner on many occasions. Her wit and kind heart had the crew trailing after her and her insistence on doing her share of the necessary daily duties while aboard, garnered the respect of the men for a woman who wasn’t afraid to get her dainty hands dirty learning how to carry her own weight.

A number of the crew and officers were infatuated with her instantly. Will Scarlett, one of the other officers and a good friend to Killian over the years had professed to a number of the other officers that he planned to woo the lady and win her fair heart, however his liquid courage failed him by morning and Emma kindly let him down easy, his heart still intact. On the other hand, Will’s pride took quite the blow when the officers got wind of his rejection, Robin Locksley being the most energetic in his teasing, even going so far as to start a betting pool on who would win her heart. The only exclusions from the competition being married men like Locksley himself (and with a woman like his lovely wife Regina he had no need to pursue any other). Killian rather confidently betted on himself as the most likely victor.

After leaving the officers table a few coins shorter than before he went to find Emma, knowing that on a clear night like this she would likely be out stargazing.

Her mass of golden curls lightly illuminated by a nearby lantern were caught in the eddies of the salty breeze, tendrils floating gently around her face.

His heart skipped a beat on the sight of her at the railing (as it did every other time) and so as not to startle her he gently cleared his throat before approaching.

He came to stand beside her but realised he didn’t know what to say. He shouldn’t have spent so bloody long thinking about preventing frightening her

 

**You look like a right imbecile not saying anything to her, how could you be so stupid you know this always happens around her**

not wanting to stammer or seem ineloquent he remained mute

he was relieved when she was first to break the silence

“Do you believe in fate Killian?”

and odd question to be sure but he answered

“I'm a sailor, it would be difficult not to with all I’ve seen…”

 

“Can you explain?” she asked quietly

“Well I can only speak of what I know… but suppose you leave port a day later than you intended and miss a surprise squall, or the opposite occurs yet you manage to ride it out and come out the other side thanking the gods the morning brings a calm sea and a blue sky, perhaps that’s fate? the sea is a fickle mistress, and I suppose she is a good bedfellow for fate in their innate unpredictability. He mused.
“It all depends on how you want to look at it. Fate could be controlling everything or nothing, but if fate plays a hand in everything there would be no free will and human nature would be to rebel, so you’re right back where you started. I think if fate is real then it intervenes when it is most needed… a chance meeting when you needed someone most, a brush with death to remind you of life’s fleeting nature, or a kind act that restores your faith in people things like that…”

She stared out to sea a few seconds before thanking him for such an honest reply and when she turned to face him he noticed the shining tracks running down her cheeks, remnants of tears shed moments ago.

Realising she hadn’t removed the evidence of her tears, she turned from him and they went back to watching the sea, leaving the truth unspoken between them.

Instinctively he placed his hand over hers, hoping to offer comfort in any way he could without overstepping and when she shivered at his touch he removed his coat and placed it over her shoulders. Her thanks simply expressed by returning her hand to his with a light squeeze.

 

A considerable amount of time later they returned to Killian’s cabin. It had conveniently slipped his mind to mention that the arrangement could be changed to Liam. (Though he suspected his brother was doing the same, playing matchmaker).

Chapter Text

Another week went by and nothing was said about why she had been so upset, Killian figured that she would tell him when she was ready.

He woke not long before dawn and readied himself for another day aboard. It had been three and a half months at sea already with another 7 to go before they reached Arendelle.

Emma was still asleep on his bed, her golden hair a tangled mess spread across the pillow; how he hated to have to wake her. After he did, he politely announced he was going to find them something to eat and teased her about allowing her some privacy to fix the birds nest that was her hair. Her light peals of laughter followed him out the door.

By the time he returned she had changed and had indeed fixed her hair into a neat braid which she flicked over her left shoulder

They sat down to eat and found themselves more interested in idly chatting. They had just begun to discuss boredom for the thousandth time and Killian quipped about how dull long voyages could be and how difficult it was to fill the spare hours.

“Killian? I know you may not have time, but I would rather enjoy someone to fence with, you know… to pass the time? That is providing you can handle losing to a girl” she grinned playfully at him and his competitive side kicked in.

“I'm sure I can handle you love, question is; can you handle me?” he winked suggestively and added a cheeky smirk for good measure.

“This afternoon then Lieutenant? I’d rather like to see the look on your face the moment you lose”

Gods he almost didn't have a comeback for that but he had to make an attempt. so in his most suggestive tone he replied;

“I'm always up for a challenge milady, just know that when I jab you with my sword, you'll feel it”

the look on her face was priceless, a combination of shock but mostly pure amusement with his blatant innuendo.

And with that, Killian took his leave to complete his duties (as quickly as possible so he would have more time to spent with her).

 

Killian rushed back to his quarters, knocking hurriedly on the door. When it opened he was met with the most dazzling smile, Emma was very clearly excited for some entertainment they were alone on deck, he had made sure it was clear to allow them room to move

They stood awkwardly for a moment and he realised she was waiting for a weapon.

*You absolute git he thought to himself… How do you expect to fence with her if she has no bloody sword*

He excused himself, apologising for his stupidity; she simply laughed at his forgetfulness and he quickly fetched one from his quarters.

 

Once armed, they assumed position and began sizing each other up. Waiting to see who would strike first, how the other would react. Killian took his chances and stepped forward his sword moving in a flash, but she easily avoided it. She was incredibly skilled; he was truthfully only just managing to keep up and was rather taken aback by her abilities; surprised at her strength and talent he covered his admiration with constant teasing:

 

“Don’t trip darling…”

“Light on your feet aren't you love?”

“Graceful as a bloody swan you are dearest!”

“Swan! now there’s a fitting nickname!” he shot her a playful smirk
she blocked his oncoming attack and leaned closer to him, a sly grin on her face

“This is the part where I win Lieutenant Jones” she said with a wink

she had disarmed him before he knew what had happened, pinning his arm behind his back she placed a good-humoured kiss on his cheek. He barely had time to process that he had been bested by her, but the teasing kiss she had placed on his cheek was like a jolt of electricity regardless of its meaning.

Releasing him, she stepped back and bowed with a wide grin still on her face, clearly pleased by his loss. Smiling Killian returned the bow and collected his sword.

“Goodness Killian, you certainly handled me” her words dripped with sarcasm, perfectly matching the audacious grin plastered on her slightly reddened face.

That was the moment he lost his composure, the hilarity of it all catching up with him.

They laughed so hard they cried. Each time the laughter subsided one or the other would chuckle or they'd look at one another and more laughter would ensue; their sides hurting and the sky almost dark, they made their way back to his cabin arm in arm.

Something had changed between them today, Killian could feel it, but he wasn’t sure if she knew it yet.

*****************************
Back in the privacy of his cabin, the embers of the morning’s conversations reignited. their tête-à-tête was so natural, so easy it felt like home.

Not long after beginning their conversation Killian had opened up a bottle of rum and they shared in the additional merriment provided by the alcohol.

However, the mood of their discussion suddenly shifted and he sensed Emma was troubled.

“Swan? You doing all right love? Was it something I said?” Killian tried not to slur too much

“Perfectly fine…” she replied softly pinching the bridge of her nose clearly trying not to cry.

Killian was about to ask again to see if she wanted to discuss what had upset her and maybe find and answer to her crying the other week, but she began to speak, not requiring his prompt.

“you remember last week when I asked you about fate?”

“yes, I recall, rather a deep question I thought” his reply plain and simple, not letting on to his concern

“See, I was always brought up believing fate has some part to play in life and that one day it would lead me to a future I wanted for myself…” her voice now in a steady crescendo as she continued.

“So answer me, what kind of parents bring their child up on fairy tales of true love, magic and making a choice, then arrange a fucking marriage with someone she's never even met without asking?”

“I mean; they break the news ever so sweetly that he’ll be visiting the week before the wedding! Like that’s any comfort when you’re going to be forced to spend your life with someone you don’t know or love” her voice started to crack under the strain of outpouring emotion and after a pause she continued in a quiet, defeated tone.

“All because some stupid witch threatens that if the Princess doesn't ‘marry her son and form an alliance’, she’ll destroy their bloody ol’ kingdom?”

“How could my parents do that to me… betray me like that? Answer me that Killian.”

She choked on her words, tears starting to trace their way down her cheeks, light sobs echoing around the small cabin.

The weary, defeated look on her face and the odd lack of rage behind her recent words made his heart break for her. She had been holding all of this in and he recognised the amount of trust she must have had in him to even broach the subject, alcohol aside

He wrapped an arm around her and she rested against him and he held her tightly, instinctually knowing she needed consolation. Her sobs gradually abated and just as he felt he knew what to say in response, he realised she had passed out; her head still resting on his shoulder.

Not wanting to wake her, he laid down with her still in his arms, her head shifted slightly to rest on his chest. That was how they remained until the next day, rather worse for wear after the amount of alcohol they had each consumed.

That night was the most restful sleep Emma had in the months after being informed of her impending nuptials; while she had been drunk, it was Killian’s arms around her that made her feel so secure. Secure enough that all her troubles faded away with his comforting embrace.

 

When Killian awoke to find Emma still in his arms he was somewhat surprised, but he was truly just happy in that moment. He could have stayed like this forever with her curled against his side, her arm resting across his torso.

his sober mind now more alert, replayed some of the night’s conversation and the gravity of their last subject hit him full force;

She was here because she was part of an arranged marriage.

a marriage that her parents had saddled her with, an arrangement she didn't agree to

that’s why she was running, running as far away as she could get, why she was so terrified of being sent back…

…back to the palace.

It dawned on him why she had felt so betrayed by her family at being forced into marriage: her parents would have filled her head with stories of how their true love conquered all obstacles since she was old enough to understand.

Her parents were Queen Snow and King David, the ultimate example of true love; and they had tried to deny their only daughter her chance at finding it for fear of a threat from a dark witch who he could only assume to be the infamous ‘Lady Morgana Le fay who was known to lurk in the enchanted forest.

His thought process halted abruptly; the girl he was holding, the girl he knew he loved, was the Princess of Misthaven… oh god, what was he going to do now?

he felt his heart drop with yet another realisation. He was only a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy.

It wasn't like he hadn't figured out she was nobility, every mannerism proved his theory (except her fighting skills, no proper lady would ever engage in such a masculine past time) but he had never thought to ask specific details, assuming that she was at least a lady, or perhaps a baroness: now everything was much more complicated; he knew he loved her from the moment he saw her but he could never be good enough for her… Not now.

He looked at Emma, studying her face; he’d have done anything for her, anything to make her happy, even if it meant he could never be with her. She stirred slightly, as if she could sense his inner turmoil. Her eyes slowly fluttered open and she met his troubled gaze.

Chapter Text

Perhaps it was to do with the cliché that eyes are windows to the soul? From the first moment she had locked eyes with Killian that morning she could have sworn that the world had somehow shifted. For a second she had been so consumed by his piercing gaze she could have drowned in the stormy blue fathoms of his eyes.

propping himself up on one arm he looked down at her and in an attempt to hide what he had been thinking about, shot her a devilish grin that made her want to melt. her face reddened slightly and he knew it had worked. neither of them had said a word yet.

But Killian decided to break the silence; he had things that needed to be said, before he lost his nerve.

He moved to sit cross legged on the bed and she did the same.

“Morning Swan, how’s the head?” he asked impishly. Flashing another dazzling smile that did little to hide the shadows lurking in his mind.

“certainly in better shape than my inhibitions” she replied seriously

“I’m sorry for ruining the fun last night with my woe is me crap… I got a little bit too honest. but now the problem is I can’t remember exactly what I told you; would you mind giving me a recount, so I can at least explain myself?”

Killian was incredibly relieved she had brought it up first. Start with the easier topics first

“Aye love I’d be glad to; you were rather impaired last night, and I’d like to assure you I didn't take advantage of you, in case you had concerns about your honour.” He smirked at her and she rolled her eyes and exhaled sharply with playful exasperation (seeing through what he was trying to hide behind his humour, she wondered if he knew he wasn’t fooling her?)

they both knew that he was a gentleman to a fault, good form was vital.

“however you told me quite a few interesting things about yourself Swan, some rather by accident.”

“for example: you happen to be the princess of Misthaven, the daughter of Snow White and King David. That was quite the shock, but I s’pose it makes sense really.”

“you ran away because they accepted a marriage alliance on your behalf with a witch who threatened to raze your kingdom, should you refuse to marry her son whom you have never met. you felt betrayed because they led you to believe you would be allowed to find true love in your own time.”

“you passed out on me just after that” he added

her face turned pink and her eyes dropped bashfully
“oh… I said all that…” looking down at her hands self-consciously

“well so much for keeping my identity secret, I hope I can trust you with it until you inevitably force me to go home?”

he reached for her face and gently lifted her chin, cradling her face.

“force you to go home? Do you think I would be so cruel… that Liam would be?”

“I’d never return you to that place if it meant your despair, even if it means lying to my brother, I’d gladly go to the ends of the earth for you.”

Her eyes welled up at hearing his words, tears threatening to spill over. They were not tears of sadness but relief and joy and perhaps something more that she wasn’t ready to admit to herself.

She broke their contact, quickly wiping her tears away she resumed looking down, wringing her hands, a worried expression still carved on her face.

a split second later her fidgeting was abruptly interrupted

Surprised by his touch Emma flinched, looking down at Killian's hand resting over her own, her eyes flicked back up meeting with his again. His eyes held an expression Emma couldn't quite place, perhaps a combination of fear and tenderness? She wasn’t quite sure.

Before she knew what she was doing she shifted her hand in his, lacing their fingers together. he moved closer…He was magnetic and as much as her head tried to reason with her heart she was drawn in so quickly logic couldn't catch up.

**************************

He couldn't believe it, without even thinking he had reached out to her, wanting to ease her mind… her pain, and she hadn't pushed him away. Admittedly he had caught her off guard, but he had not been met with rejection.

Instead she had gripped his hand even tighter, as if she planned to never let him go. She was looking up at him with those emerald eyes, full of questions and doubt; he stared back at her intently.

With his spare hand he reached up and pressed it to her cheek, brushing his thumb lightly over her cheekbone. She leaned in to his touch and that was the moment he lost all sense.

Killian, still holding his hand to her flushed cheek, leaned forward and kissed her.

Brushing his lips tenderly against hers; he was certain he had found heaven on earth in such a pure moment. He stopped for a second to give her the chance to push him away or hit him for stealing a kiss, but she gently slipped her hand out of his grasp and placed it at the nape of his neck, pulling him back in.

Their lips met again, more ardently than before and they lost themselves. The world could have fallen apart around them and neither of them would have noticed. The once bottled passion between them could have set the ship alight but even that would not have distracted them from each other.

Needing to breathe for a moment Emma was the one who pulled back, her forehead gently pressed against his, her golden curls fell forward enveloping him in the cinnamon scent of her hair. Moving again she buried her face in his neck, her soft breath against his skin

“I’m sorry Emma… I don’t know why I did that, I…” he started to apologise

She looked up and silenced him with a quick kiss – he was stunned at how sure she had become, glad to finally know that she felt something for him, whether she knew what it was exactly or not.

In the seconds after, time slowed down and Emma’s mind raced, Killian loved her! loved her despite who she is and all the complications it caused; but she couldn’t delude herself, she was set up to be a commodity for her kingdom to use for its protection, there were too many what ifs in her life to allow herself to fall for someone, only to break his heart should she be forced to comply with her parents’ wishes.
What else could she do but halt things before they went too far? She knew that should things not work out, that no matter how much she felt for him it would break her heart to cause him pain. She had to push him away, tell him she felt nothing to protect his heart and even more selfishly; to protect her own.

“I'm sorry Killian, I was lonely and I shouldn’t have… I mean, I ran away from home to get away from romance and now I'm putting myself right back in the middle of it”
“you have to understand that I can’t do this, not with you, not now…”
“gods I should never have done that!”

‘not with you’ stuck in his mind and all Killian could think was that he was right. He wouldn’t be enough for her: A lowly lieutenant could never expect a Princess to accept his station, there was nothing he could offer other than his love, everything else would never be enough

“uhm never mind that then… I won’t bring it up again, I just thought… never mind, forget about it” scratching behind his ear awkwardly, a dejected look on his face.

he couldn’t even find it within himself to be outwardly angry with her! she wanted him to be angry, to say something to hurt her, but his silence was worse.

breaking through the tense atmosphere of the room a curt knock interrupted the awkwardness brewing between them

Killian unlocked the door and was astonished when Liam barged in, the door bolt barely moved across before the door was pushed open and bolted shut again. Liam wasted no time moving like a hurricane rummaging through the small cabin like a madman.

Killian sat down next to Emma on the edge of the bed and whispered “threes a crowd isn’t it love?”

She knew he was wounded and trying to conceal it from her, the little catch in his voice when he called her love was evidence enough of what she had done to him.

Liam relented in his search and sat down at the desk. Waiting for Liam to explain himself Killian shot his brother an irritated look.

“what on earth are you doing?!” Killian hissed

Liam said nothing, an unyielding look plastered on his face. Getting up, he stepped around the chaotic mess he had created and held out a sheet of parchment to Emma.

“I'm looking for the rest of these” he hissed venomously

Emma took the parchment Liam held out to her with a slight unsteadiness and held it so Killian could read it as well.

-~-
Dear Captain Jones,

This letter contains sensitive information regarding the Princess Emma of Misthaven, that may place her life in in danger. its contents must remain secret for her safety and that of the realm.

The Princess of Misthaven has been missing for the past three and a half months. We believe she ran away of her own volition and all land based attempts to locate her have failed thus leading us to attempt to contact every ship recorded to have set sail following her disappearance.

We have tried to send word to your ship of her disappearance multiple times however our communications have failed to reach you thus far. We kindly ask if she is either a passenger on your vessel or if you may have seen anything before setting sail?

For your own reference she has waist length, wavy blonde hair, fair skin, green eyes, and is of average height, she also has a flower shaped birthmark on her wrist.

If you know anything regarding her disappearance, we ask you to please send word, and if by the luck of the gods she is aboard your ship please implore her to write us as soon as possible, we have been so terribly worried and miss her more than she knows.

Any information will be greatly rewarded and comes with our endless gratitude

Kindest regards,
With hope,

King David & Queen Snow White of Misthaven
-~-

“’failed to reach you thus far!’” Liam roared
“Killian, be honest and tell me if you prevented me reading correspondences from the King and Queen!?”
Killian was truthfully a little annoyed that his brother didn’t trust him to have been honest but he understood that Liam recognised Killian’s love for Emma was enough to make him able deceive anyone for the sake of her wellbeing.

“I would never!” Killian replied firmly

“Very well then” Liam calmed his tone and resumed his seat at Killian’s desk

Emma had taken his hand at some point and he noticed when she tightened her grip (why would she seek contact when she wanted nothing from him, he couldn’t understand). It was like the world shattered around her and he saw the combination of uncertainty and dread on her face.

“Emma, I know you’ve been keeping something from me, and judging by the look on my little brother’s face he has kept your secret from me too. Now I don’t know why you decided to leave your family, but I would very much like for you to explain it to me… after I have a quick word with Killian that is.”

Liam stood and headed for the door gesturing for Killian to follow him and he obliged (Killian wasn’t even going to protest the ‘little brother’ comment, he didn’t care about it, all he cared about was Emma, knowing what he knew regardless of her rejection)

The door closed behind them and Killian knew he looked incredibly guilty. He began to babble, trying to apologise for his deception and protect Emma. He didn’t mean to sound like he was pleading with his brother but his desperation sounded through anyway.

“Liam, I'm sorry I didn’t tell you that I knew about who she was, I only found out last night, believe me… I can explain… please don’t be irate about it, she had very good reason… please, don’t turn her in when we reach port, I couldn’t live with myself if that happened.”

“Killian! Stop!... I couldn’t care less about her secret, I actually commend her for keeping it up this long, she was smart to hide it; nor do I care about explanations all that much. what I do care about is her safety now that I know.”

“Killian this might be a navy ship and my men are respectable and trustworthy enough but there are plenty of others who would gladly take advantage of who she is, and that reward the King and Queen offered for information is highly lucrative.”

“From now on, one of us will escort her wherever she goes, for her own safety. Especially when we stop to resupply next week. Do you understand Killian? I will not have anything happen to her. I suspect you are very protective of this runaway Princess so I entrust you with her continued safekeeping.”

“As for what will happen when we reach port. If I believe her explanation to be sound I will not turn her in; she seems a headstrong woman and my instincts tell me that she would have good reason, but if I am to protect her I need to know why.”

Killian's worry abated with his brother’s words and he was glad Emma wasn’t going to be ripped from him as he feared. His brother was a good man but he had a duty to the realm and made a point of following the rules (and yet if given good enough reason he would choose ignore the King and Queen to assist the Princess, thank the gods).

“Oh, and Killian… don’t think I don’t see how you look at her.”
“I have eyes and a gag reflex; if her departure would cause you pain, I could never entertain the idea of being the one to take her from you. And I'm fairly certain if I did I wouldn’t see another dawn.”

Killian's mouth dropped open a little and he felt his face burning with embarrassment.

“I know you love her brother, I’d be a fool if I didn’t see it, and from the looks of things, she feels the same. You’re very lucky to have found her, seeing the two of you together… it’s like it was designed by the gods.”

Feeling the need to correct his brother’s assessment of the situation Killian replied solemnly

“I agree with you on all counts but one; she doesn’t feel anything for me. I thought there was something more, thought she had felt it too but I was wrong… and I'm far worse off for my mistake it seems”

“worse off? How do you mean?” Liam asked

“She realised she felt nothing for me that way…maybe because of my position? I'm not sure, but in my heart I know I couldn’t be enough for her anyway.”

He noticed Liam was studying him, the cogs of his mind ticking over as he thought of how to reply

“I think you ought to just give it time Killian. She’ll figure it out and you’ll see, things will work out in the end… she would be a fool to reject you on status alone, and I don’t think she is that superficial.”
“She’s hiding the truth behind her reasons because it’s the easiest way to test your strength and will. Don’t give up on her yet brother, She’s a wonderful woman but she has walls as high as the castle she lives in and you have to understand that to win the heart of a headstrong woman like her, you must be in it for the long haul.”
“and if it’s true and she breaks your heart, you know I will be here with you.”

It sounded cynical but the meaning was comforting. Whatever the outcome his brother supported him and thought he still had a chance. It was the little boost of positivity that he needed and the assurance that his brother would be there to help him pick up the pieces should it come to that.

Killian stepped forward and hugged Liam tightly. Hoping to convey his appreciation for Liam’s kindness toward Emma and himself. The two of them went back into the cabin and Emma proceeded to confess to Liam why she had stowed away those few months ago. Her story was touching and Liam vowed to ensure she would not have to return to Misthaven until the arrangements were called off. He informed her of the measures that would be taken to ensure her safety now that her secret was out and then he left, as quickly as he had arrived, mumbling something about not wanting to interrupt the lovebirds, much to Killian’s chagrin

Chapter Text

Over the next week things seemingly went back to how they were before only it was like walking on eggshells when they spoke. Killian kept his word to keep an eye on Emma and still provided company on long and boring nights. However, it was as if the two of them had become anemones around each other, closing up as soon as conversations became more than small talk. It was constantly one step forward two steps back for Killian; just as he thought they were becoming more comfortable with each other she distanced herself again.

Instead of allowing himself to feel the extent of his heartache, Killian threw himself into his duties, trying to numb his mind to the girl who was managing to avoid him in the middle of the ocean.

Eventually they reached port and upon docking Killian couldn’t have disembarked faster. He knew Emma was to accompany Liam to send correspondence to her parents and inform them she was alive and safe (but not planning to return until the arrangements were called off). All he planned to do with his leave was drown his sorrows.

Will Scarlett had become a very welcome drinking partner and they spent most of the night in the tavern choosing not to think of anything except what was at the bottom of their tankards, eventually a young lass came by with a keen interest in naval officers and Killian decided that a tavern was no place for someone who had no want to be merry or boisterous. Taking the bottle from the table he went to find someplace to be alone with his thoughts and as ever, ended up near the sea discovering a small patch of sand not too far from the harbour where he stayed until morning.

***********************

In the early hours of the morning, not too long before dawn, Killian made his way back to the ship, having sobered up a little he began to feel the effects of the hangover to come.

On his approach He heard the commotion coming from the Jewel before he had even reached the gangplank, he noticed some of the crew rather distraught and found it odd that his brother wasn’t around. But then much to his concern he discovered the reason for the unrest aboard was simply that his brother and Emma had not returned.

Wolfe had managed to keep his composure and was doing his best to explain the situation to Killian

“Sir, they sent no word they would not be returning, as ye’d well know that is unlike our captain and the men have taken it to mean something has prevented their return. The lady Emma bein’ the princess wouldn’t help the matter should anyone else figure out who she is”

Killian was shocked Wolfe knew Emma’s secret and ordered he explain.

“put simply I attended ‘er coronation ceremony a few years back with my wife who works in the palace… didn’t realise who she was at first but I kept it to myself when I did.”

Killian had expected someone would figure out her identity eventually and in many ways he was glad it was Wolfe, being a friend of Emma’s he knew Wolfe would be invested in helping him search for her.

“Very well then, good man. I thank you for your loyalty and silence, but being the only other who is aware of her identity you and I will need to be the ones to search for her and our Captain… is there anyone aboard you trust enough to leave in charge? Have any of the officers returned yet?”

“the officers haven’t returned, but I’d say Mr. Smee would be trustworthy enough to leave in charge. He’s a sensible fellow.”

“Very well then Wolfe, inform him while I address the crew.”
Killian called the attention of the crew and confined them to the ship until his return, an order which was to extend to all others who returned through the day. Anyone found to have disobeyed was threatened with a few good lashes; he announced Smee was to be left in charge and thankfully he was liked well enough that there were no complaints from the crew.

After ordering them to get about their duties he motioned to Wolfe and they walked down the gangplank to begin their search.

Their first port of call was the harbourmaster, having been the last person to have definitely have seen Emma and Liam it made sense to question him first. Unfortunately, the only direction he could provide was that Liam had mentioned if she was to remain aboard she would need to be better disguised and outfitted properly with a weapon (considering she knew how to use one).

Wolfe had a better idea of the town’s layout and led the way to the smith. Killian could feel the worry building like a band tightening around his chest making it harder to breathe. but he set it aside and soldiered on.

The smith had seen Emma and Liam and went so far as to show Wolfe the sword, dagger and arrow tips he and his apprentices had begun to craft for her. But he had no further information for them, other than that they had left, with the intent of returning when word was sent the items were ready.

Feeling disheartened by the trail going cold, Killian stepped outside, closely followed by Wolfe.

“What now sir?”
not knowing what to answer he avoided it entirely, choosing to change the topic for a moment for a chance to collect his thoughts.

“You can drop the ‘sir’ Wolfe, I’ve never really liked people calling me that.”

But the answer of ‘I don’t know what to do next’ was inevitable and Killian not wanting to give up was thankful Wolfe suggested they check the inns, he knew there were about ten to search, being a port town it would be the most logical place to look so they made their way to the closest one and worked their way systematically through the first few finding nothing in each.

It wasn’t until they reached the ‘Jackals Head’ (the eighth inn they had visited and one of the more respectable in town) that a barkeep revealed he had spoken to Liam the previous evening about arranging a week’s accommodation for a lady, he showed them to the room intended for Emma and made a point of mentioning the maid had no reason to clean the room as it had not been disturbed.

Yet another dead end in their search, Killian was not going to allow himself to think that perhaps Liam had managed to find immediate lodgings for her on a ship headed back to Misthaven. But there was something lurking behind the scenes that made him feel uneasy. It was fleeting thought that felt like having a word caught on the tip of the tongue, he couldn’t seem to pin down exactly what his instincts were telling him.

Wolfe and Killian split up to check the last two taverns on the off chance of any further information however they both came up empty and began a defeated walk back to the Jewel.
However it seemed they were not destined to make it back and came across none other than Will Scarlett passed out in an alleyway beside a rather well known brothel. Killian approached carefully in case Will was still drunk enough to attack whoever tried to wake him.
Gods above he had to shake the man something fierce before he roused from his slumber, upon which he promptly lost the contents of his stomach.
“gods you reek! What have you been doing man? Taking a bath in horse shite?” Killian was half yelling half laughing thinking it was a simple matter of Will having been passed out long enough to have rolled around in the general muck of the street. But it was far from simple

“mmph, I didn’t pass out, some fucker hit me from behind ‘n took ‘em” Will grumbled, rubbing the back of his head with a wince.

Killian's laughter died instantly.
“took them?”
“took who!? Tell me what happened quick or I swear to the gods I’ll knock you into last week myself!!”

Will’s eyes widened at the threat and he couldn’t seem to get his words out fast enough;

“cap’n Liam and Emma! Some chap came up to us on our way to the Jackals Head in the wee hours of the morn’ and asked her who she was, t’was like he knew anyway. Liam told him to leave well enough alone but the fellow wouldn’t take no for an answer and that was when three others jumped us. One of the bastards hit me from behind, and the last thing I remember before he hit me again was seeing Emma with a pistol held to her head and Liam with his hands tied.”

Fuck! There was no amount of cursing that could equal his emotion Killian hated that his gut instinct had been right: Emma being forced to go home wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened and he felt like he might be sick with fear for the both of them.

“Is there anything you know, anything you could have left out that could lead us to them?! Please! tell me you know something useful!” Killian was so frantic he hardly cared if he sounded insulting

“Calm yourself mate, I'm not good for nothing… the one giving the orders got real mad when one of his men called him ‘Morgan’… threatened to cut him out of the profit… threatened to cut out a few other things too…”

“Get on with it Will!!!” Killian couldn’t get the information out of him fast enough

“one of ‘em had a key hanging out of his pocket with a 5 on the tag and he had a real fresh tattoo of a compass on the back of his hand. that’s it though I'm afraid.”

Taking a deep breath, he tried to take Will’s advice and calm down, but his heart raced like a hummingbird’s wings.

“you’ve done well Will, it’s not much but it might be enough… can you stand mate?”
offering his hand to help Will out of the gutter he pulled him up once he grabbed hold.

The key was the best clue Will could have given. And hopefully the number corresponded with a room somewhere in town. They’d have to retrace their steps, but it was a lead nonetheless.

Killian hastily ordered Will and Wolfe to search every tavern and inn respectively, anywhere with rooms to rent. It wasn’t until the two of them had left that Killian realised that ‘anywhere’ also included some not so respectable establishments
“fucking hell, good thing I didn’t leave Will to search the bloody brothels.” He mumbled to himself.

Chapter Text

They each searched through the night, meeting up once or twice to report their coming up empty. Killian didn’t want to let himself think about how much worse things could get and in his haste to find another place to search, he almost missed the glint of the brass key catching the lamplight as a tall wisp of a man walked past him.
A key, with a number embossed on the tag… a five !! but where was the tattoo!?? Please, gods above, let me find her… and there it was, just peeking out from under the man’s ragged coat sleeve, the unmistakable point of a compass.

He could have jumped for joy at finally having something concrete to follow. And follow he did; all the way to the sirens den, a brothel off the main promenade.
He’d owe Will more than a few drinks after all this was done: hell, he’d owe him his life.

Walking into the establishment offended every sense he had. He wasn’t really one for places like this (not that he was any kind of saint). One of the seedier brothels he had entered in the course of his search, he was almost enveloped in the scent of ale, opioids, tobacco and the typical invasive tang of sweat and other bodily fluids. The very out of tune band played some kind of bawdy shanty and he made his way across the main hall blending in easily with the young sailors enjoying their time onshore.

He found the stairs easily and walked past each room number, right to the end of the hall, where number five was situated. He stooped hoping the key hadn't been left in the lock and was thankful when he peeked through and was given a view of the table at the back of the room. Two rough looking men were sitting across from each other arguing in hissed tones as if not to wake another occupant. There was no sight of Emma or Liam and even though he had no idea who else may be inside and how well armed they were, he hadn’t come this far to stand by and do nothing.

He stood, removed his coat, checked his pistol was loaded (tucking it safely away as a last resort) and drew his sword. Lining up the right spot to kick the door he knew he had to be swift and successful or he may as well just knock. He kicked with everything he had in him, the door snapped out of place and Killian was immediately met with the sight of four men, all considerably larger than himself.

To take on four brutes at once, good lord he could never win…he felt a pang of fear at being so outmatched but tried to drown it out with bravado

“at least this’ll be a challenge eh gents?” he mocked, eyeing each of them trying to spot a weakness or a sign that one would attack

they stood firm and Killian felt if he didn’t make a move soon he might freeze in place. He lashed out with his sword and the metal flashed in the candlelight upon his stroke. The one he struck happened to be the one with the tattoo and Killian had managed a sizeable gash across the man’s face and neck, the man let out a gurgle, choking on his own blood. Killian realised he had swung with enough ferocity to open his windpipe (horrible way to go he thought). The other three stepped into action and things became a blur of slashing and punching.

A few seconds later he heard a sickening crunch and felt blood trickling over his lip, but fortunately the draw back the man took before he hit Killian again was just long enough for him to run him through, the floorboards now slick, glistening with blood.

Two down he thought grimly.

The onslaught was relentless and he was taking a beating, he could hardly breathe and was sure he had a few broken ribs. But he fought smart, conserved as much energy as he could and despite his injuries managed to even out the fight, killing the third with a thrust through the spine. Killian found the sound of metal hitting bone nauseating and the resulting spinal fluid leaking from the wound was far worse a sight compared to blood.

The final assailant was the largest of the four and based on Will’s description, this one was Morgan.

“ye fight like a demon from the pits of hell, but you’ll nae be likely ta best me boy!” Morgan spat his words out viciously.

Morgan was playing with him like a cat toying with a mouse. Killian knew the only thing keeping him going was the need to see his brother and Emma safe. After that he didn’t care. He’d die here if that’s what it took but he would see them safe, gods help him.

Sizing Morgan up, he tensed his muscles ready to lunge with all he had left. Before he could even make a move Morgan had drawn and cocked his pistol.

“ye move; ye die… simple as that. Don’t reach for your pistol Boy, you’ll be dead before ye touch it.”

So after everything I still can't win Killian thought.

‘NO!’ his inner voice shrieked… FIGHT! You have no other chance! They have no other chance!

Morgan was a man of his word. As soon as Killian charged there was a resounding ‘BANG’, and a puff of smoke from the gun. But it didn’t matter; Killian's blade had pierced through Morgan’s abdomen so violently that he had been pinned on the wall in such a way he looked like a gruesome addition to a butterfly collection.

That was the last thought Killian had before everything went black.

 

*********************************

The gunshot was deafening and Emma’s scream when Killian fell was stifled by her gag. Liam’s own scream froze in his throat as he strained against his bonds trying to break them. Oh god don’t let him be dead.
Liam was regrettably rather useless in the moments that followed and by the time he had come to his senses, Emma had already moved her way across the room to fetch a dagger that had been dropped on the floor. Her skirt was covered with blood and she was moving the dagger closer with each crawl forward. His hands had been tied in front and when the dagger was within reach he cut Emma’s free from behind her back, she did the same and they each cut the ropes tying their ankles.

Emma moved at a blinding speed once she was free. Clearly having some medical knowledge, she switched her emotions off and got to work. She tested his state of consciousness first and he when he failed to respond she checked his airways and breathing. Liam heard her sigh with relief and thanked every god for each breath Killian took thereafter. She turned Killian on his side and he seemed to breathe easier. So began the arduous task of tending his injuries. She immediately tore the hem of her skirt and used it to bandage the defensive wound to his forearm (thankfully it wasn’t deep enough to hit any major blood vessels but it was still bleeding profusely) she then did the same to the gash across his chest and the bullet wound between his shoulder and collarbone. the only other visible injury was the small knife sticking out of Killian's right thigh. Emma didn’t pull the knife out as Liam had expected, she used more material from her petticoat to create a ring which she placed around the blade and then bandaged around the entry point to hold the blade steady.

“where’s the nearest healer!” her voice commanding

It took Liam a moment to realise that she had spoken to him and his recall moved slowly until he finally reached the answer

“the apothecary… down the road” he stammered.

“Alright then… we’ll need to carry him. I need to keep his leg steady, that knife could have hit an artery so I need you to take the rest of his weight, but you need to be careful and watch his breathing for any changes, he may have broken a few ribs.”

He couldn’t seem to be able to form a reply of any kind and stood still as a statue until he heard Emma screech his name

“Liam!! Liam!!? I know you’re going into shock but I need you to focus! please! we have to get him help or he might die here on the bloody floor!”

He had to do the impossible. He had to detach himself from his brother’s peril, he couldn’t fail Killian now… there was no room to be cowardly. He forced a deep breath and moved towards Killian's head and lifted him from beneath the arms (Emma lifting his legs at the same time).

They walked in a slow shuffle. The hardest part was getting down the stairs but eventually they made it out onto the street and headed straight to the apothecary. Liam had seemed to snap back into action and led the way.

They reached the wooden porch of the apothecary and Emma kicked the door to knock rather than setting Killian down. Being so late in the night the owner and his wife came down to answer the door still in their bedclothes.

“we’re so sorry to disturb you at this time of night, but we are in dire need of your help”

who could turn Emma away? They’d have to have a heart of stone he thought.

The owner introduced himself simply as Sanders and showed Liam and Emma where to set Killian down. Sanders' wife busied herself preparing salves, hot water and fresh bandages while Emma and Sanders himself discussed his little brother’s injuries.

**********************************************
Emma could have collapsed with relief the moment the apothecary door opened, but she had to stay strong. Killian was far from being out of the woods and she didn’t know how advanced the owner’s skills were compared to her own.

Once Liam had been left to the care of Mrs Sanders, Mr Sanders (like most medical men She dealt with) tried to suggest she stay away and let him work, but she was having none of that and he accepted that her abilities were enough to serve as his assistant.

After resetting his nose without an issue, Sanders suggested once again she leave him to his work and when she refused again she realised it was simply due to the fact that he planned to remove Killian's bloodstained clothes to see the true extent of his injuries.

Once his shirt and breeches had been removed, Emma and Sanders made fast work of cleaning the dried blood from his skin. With each swipe of the cloth the underlying bruises became more evident. His wounds now cleaned looked far worse.
Sanders assessment of Killian's condition was satisfactory in comparison to Emma’s own and taking the lead she suggested that while he was stable they stitch each smaller less threatening wound so there would be less chance of infection.

Emma had only just started to worry that Killian hadn’t woken yet as she searched for the tools they would need to repair the damage; however as soon as Sanders poured alcohol on Killian’s injured forearm, he shot up with a bloodcurdling scream. Emma dropped her leather bundle of instruments with an awful clatter and ran out of the back room, straight to his side. Sanders was trying to hold him down and it wasn’t until Killian caught sight of Emma that he stopped trying to throw punches.

“Killian! oh sweetheart, it’s all right, you’re all right, we’re all safe… we’re trying to help you, I need you to be calm while I get you something for the pain.” She fretted over him and was caressing his forehead trying to comfort him.

His eyes met hers and he managed a pained smile and a ragged breath before managing to whisper;
“Did you just call me sweetheart?”

Emma’s cheeks flushed bright red and considering how awkward things had been between them lately, had it been any other time she might have slapped him. Instead she only managed an indignant huff before going to find the Ozian poppy seeds.

Soon after administering them, Killian slipped back into unconsciousness. Sanders handed Emma a needle and thread and they began the gruesome business of stitching each cut deep enough to require it. Killian woke a few times during the process and passed out again just as quickly, his mind unable to process the pain despite the poppy seeds. Eventually they had stitched every wound and decided that the knife embedded in his thigh needed to be dealt with next.

Emma picked up the thick leather belt on Sanders medical tray and applied it as a tourniquet above the wound and then prepared to apply pressure once the blade was removed.
In a few seconds the air of calm was broken… Sanders had slowly extracted the knife but the blood which followed once she loosened the belt was clearly arterial and he struggled with the internal stitches needed to mend the nick to the artery and not wanting to see Killian lose any more blood she moved Sanders out of the way and stitched it herself stopping the bleeding.
Sanders completed their work by cauterizing the knife wound and the laceration to his forearm and applying the salves his wife had prepared. They then bandaged each wound they could, ensuring there was enough pressure to contain any further bleeding.

 

~*~

It had been hours since they had arrived at the apothecary and there was one thing left to do. Remove the bullet. Emma couldn’t risk giving him more poppy seeds and he was becoming more lucid by the minute so they had to work quickly. When the time came to sterilize the wound Sanders gave Killian a piece of wood to bite down on and his muffled shrieks broke her heart.

Then came time to remove the ball and once again her smaller, more delicate hands were needed. She admired how brave Killian was, he tried so hard not to scream each time she edged the bullet closer to the surface and she saw involuntary tears roll down his cheeks as he bit down on the wooden piece anticipating the end of the extraction.

When it was all over, Killian had tried to speak but it came out as a pained wheeze; Emma simply shushed him and when he held out his hand she took it and held on like it was the last thing stopping her from floating away. Eventually Liam came in and sat with Killian for a while before Sanders returned and suggested they move Killian into the guest room where at least he would be more comfortable.
After carrying him upstairs, Emma took up vigil near his bedside. Every few hours she checked his bandages for signs of bleeding and watched the laborious rise and fall of his chest. She must have fallen asleep at some point because she found herself lying on a small cot in the corner; Liam now seated in her place beside Killian’s bed.

He looked half dead while he slept. His pale skin looked clammy and was mottled with neatly stitched cuts and masses of bruises in shades of purple and green. His face was a little swollen and he had two black eyes (a result of the broken nose) and after a secondary examination Emma suspected at least three cracked ribs. She thanked the gods her mother had fostered her interest in healing from such a young age or Killian might not have survived.

Chapter Text

Killian wasn’t sure if he was dead or not… There was blackness all around and he couldn’t move. He tried to think back to the last thing he remembered but everything was tainted with a hazy glow. The only clear thing was an image of Emma, her brow glistened with sweat, blood smeared across her face. She looked so beautiful when she was worried he thought... then all of a sudden he began to burn.

It felt like someone had lit a pyre beneath him and he screamed himself hoarse with the unending pain: couldn’t anyone hear him? He could see the flames licking at his skin, but it left no damage; oh gods…no…this is hell.

He tried to endure the flames for a time, then he tried to run; only to be met with endless nothingness and more flames. Finally, he submitted to the pain and that was when he was met with the brightest light he had ever seen. It enveloped him and he felt peaceful despite the pain, it seemed to glow even brighter and he had to shield his eyes: when he dared to open them again, Emma stood before him.
Tears began to flow freely but evaporated on his cheeks. She faced away from him and he realised the light surrounding her formed the shape of wings, their graceful arc framed her body. She turned and held her hand out to him;
“Come with me Lieutenant Jones, you don't have suffer anymore, you have a choice .”

he wanted nothing more than for the pain to stop but something about her seemed strange

the realisation that the real Emma wouldn't want him to give in so easily hit like a bolt of lightning; and as if she could read his mind the angel dropped her glamour revealing a featureless face
a second later the light it brought was snuffed out and his torture resumed but his senses seemed dulled to the effects of the fire and slowly the pain tapered off. He wondered if the angel had helped him somehow or if the fire was simply dying down on its own; it didn’t matter, the flames abated and soon after Killian lost consciousness.

When his mind returned to the empty space he inhabited it seemed like years had passed, the only thing he was aware of was Emma’s voice somewhere far off in the darkness. He could just make out what she was saying and when he realised she was praying he felt like he was intruding on something he shouldn’t be privy to; that is until he heard his own name. Somewhere the real Emma was praying for him to stay, for him to live. What else could he do but obey.

******************************************

Morning sunlight glared through a crack in the drapes and Emma closed them before walking over to Killian and checking his temperature; it seemed to be far more normal than the night before and she brushed a lock of hair from his face. She walked quietly back to the cot and sat on the edge. The fever had set in not long after they moved Killian upstairs; she did all she could over the next three days to treat it and not too long before dawn on the fourth day, he miraculously pulled through. She had almost leapt for joy when he woke for the first time in days.

Liam hadn’t seemed to register her presence but when she sat down he looked up and spoke in a hoarse voice, thick with emotion;
“Emma… I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done. He would have died if it weren’t for you and I owe you all I have and more for saving him…none of this should have happened.”

She could see the guilt behind his eyes and she felt an overwhelming sense of pity.

“Liam, you can’t blame yourself for this, you could never have predicted what would happen. Besides; Killian is stable for now, he has a mild fever but with all the ingredients I need to make medicines at my fingertips, he’ll be back on his feet in no time I'm sure of it.”

“In the meantime, you need to attend to your crew and you need to get some rest, you've been gone three days with no word; If you refuse I swear I will pull rank! now go."
when he didn't budge from his seat she decided it was time to get a little personal
“For Killian's sake; we simply cannot have you at any less than peak form, I need help looking after him and the sooner we can get back out to sea the better. I’ll take care of him while you do what you need to but I need you to take my advice.”

Liam couldn’t argue with her logic and knew that the only person who loved Killian as much as he did would be the one looking after him in his absence. He took comfort in that, but still made Emma swear that should anything happen she would summon him at once.

Emma occupied her time mixing salves of yarrow and peppermint for his wounds and brewing an elixir to fight his remaining fever out of willow bark and meadowsweet. When Killian woke, she made sure he ate what little broth he could manage and applied her medicines along with fresh bandages.

“Killian is there anything more I can do?”

He raised an eyebrow at her and instantly winced

“No love, you’ve done enough, you need to rest.”
“I can’t… what if I close my eyes and something happens?”

He realised then that while he suffered physically, her agony was mental, but what could he do?

“Come here then, stay by me a while… a little company will do me good while I can manage to stay awake.” He patted the side of the mattress and she obliged.

“Lass, you need not sit so uncomfortably… there’s room enough for the both of us”

She chuckled;
“Trying to get me into bed with you, hm?”

Her retort was a shallow attempt at hiding her growing tears behind humour, but she curled up beside him all the same. They stayed that way some time, not sleeping; just enjoying the comfort of each other’s touch.

“Thankyou…” her voice barely a whisper: He felt he had to ask what she was thanking him for (after all she had saved his life twice in the past day).

“For finding Liam and I; for rescuing us, fighting for us even though it almost killed you, thank you for hanging on through everything that came after and most of all, for…not dying…” her words tumbled out and her body shook in his embrace, sobs wracking her frame as she let go of her fear and doubt.

Liam was right, she loved him. It was unspoken, but it was there… laid bare in her actions; being so vulnerable in front of him. He had thought her avoidance meant the opposite but it seemed Liam knew the truth being able to see the situation from afar.

“You’ve got nothing to thank me for love. If anything we’re even; after all, you’ve stitched my wounds, removed a knife and a bullet, forced those awful brews down my throat when fever threatened to take me and prayed so sweetly for me to live I couldn’t refuse… and here I am only a little worse for wear.” He chuckled lightly trying not to hurt his ribs further but He knew he had said too much and he waited for her to react, but she didn’t move or say a word: she only sighed as if to say 'I wanted you to hear me'

Killian had fought hard to keep his eyes open, but eventually he fell asleep. It wasn’t like returning to the endless nothingness of his fever dreams, he didn’t dream at all this time; his mind was blessedly clear. When he woke he felt rested, but was surprised to find Emma’s space empty. Against his better judgement he decided to go downstairs and see where she had disappeared to.
Every step he took was painful thanks to the deep laceration to his thigh and his other wounds protested the shock each unbalanced step caused. But he made it down stairs all the same clinging to the handrail for support. Walking gingerly, he checked each room and found nothing until he reached the kitchen where a grey haired woman knelt by the hearth.

“Excuse me madam, but where is Emma?” he winced with the effort of projecting his voice
the woman whipped her head around to look at who had spoken and was genuinely taken aback when she saw who had disturbed her.

“You should not be out of bed lad!!! What in the blazes do you think you’re doing!!!”

She grabbed his arm so firmly to drag him back upstairs he wondered if it would leave bruises

“Madam I only wanted to know where she went I'm sorry to have distressed you, I'm quite alright really…”

His polite attempts to escape her grasp were futile and the old woman was far stronger than he anticipated. Before he could even blink he was wrangled back into bed, firmly tucked in and warned if he tried to wander about again there would be no supper. He felt like a small child being told off by his grandmother and he felt that familiar sense of sorrow when he thought about his grandmother and parents now long gone.

Lost in thought he almost missed the sound of footsteps echoing from down the hall. The old woman who had sent him to bed moments before knocked politely before entering this time and introduced herself as Mrs Sanders. She was straight to the point, handing him a folded piece of parchment.
“Here lad, Emma left a note in her absence.” As quickly as she came, Mrs Sanders had excused herself and left to go about her business downstairs.

As soon as Mrs Sanders had left he opened the note;

~*~
Killian,
Gone to the Jewel to check on the state of things aboard and to update Liam on your improving condition. Back soon
-Emma
~*~
Emma returned later in the evening and while re applying her salves she told him that Liam planned to set sail the next morning providing Killian was well enough to be moved (as if he wouldn’t be? he thought indignantly). It would be good to get back out to sea, he missed the clean air and the sooner he felt better the sooner he would be free of his ordered bedrest. There was still a shadow of a doubt lingering in his mind, what if he took ill again? he’d be too far away for anyone to help him… still there was no point wasting energy on ‘what ifs.’

However, departing the following morning wasn’t to be, Sanders recommended he stay at least until the week had passed and Emma had agreed that it would be preferable to be close to assistance should any unforeseen complications arise. As much as he wanted to protest they were right and he was glad of the rest.

The following afternoon the Harbourmaster and Captain of the Guard met with each of them to obtain statements as to the events surrounding the murders of four men wanted for numerous crimes including desertion from Camelot’s Navy. However once the situation was explained in full and the authorities came to understand that Morgan and his men had intended to demand ransom for the return of the highborn lady they kidnapped; Killian was informed he would not be charged and would keep his freedom and would even be compensated for his troubles.

Chapter Text

Liam had made the necessary arrangements to move Killian back to the Jewel at weeks’ end. Killian was incredibly impatient and very stubborn waiting out the week in the apothecary’s guest room. There were a number of scolding’s from both Mrs. Sanders and Emma for a variety of reasons ranging from trying to get out of bed, playing with his stitches or refusing to swallow some horrid herbal remedy they were forcing down his throat. By the time the week was out they were glad to be leaving.

Friday finally arrived; Emma and Mrs. Sanders assisted Killian in walking down to the docks while Liam and Mr. Sanders carried two large crates of medical supplies for all manner of injuries and ailments (Emma had insisted that make herself useful if she was to be remaining aboard and Liam agreed that she put her talent for healing to good use). It had been a long week for all of them and there was a profound sense of relief at leaving all their trauma behind.

Once Killian was back on board he was met with a hardy cheer from the crew and a great number of well wishes and handshakes (thankfully no claps on the back or shoulder). They set sail with the tide and after watching the harbour fade from view, Will helped him back to his cabin.

“Mate, you are one lucky bastard” Will said softly

“Aye, I know, I should have died… would have died if it weren’t for Emma” Killian said with a small laugh

“Not to mention that on top of it all you nearly started a damn mutiny! Poor Smee had ‘is hands full trying to keep us from leaving, Wolfe was the only one who managed and that was only because Smee was too scared to face him!”

the laughter died down and the air suddenly turned sombre

“Still didn’t make it in time to help you though” Will said gloomily
“By the time we figured out where you’d be, the three of you had disappeared leaving dead bodies and pools of blood behind…” a shudder ran down Killian’s spine at the memory and they sat in silence until Will was called away to complete some duty or other.

~*~
The following week passed in the blink of an eye and he was steadily on the mend. Every day breathing became easier and moving less painful. Liam, Will and Wolfe would spend as much time as they could with him when they had a break in their duties and Emma stayed by his side constantly. Killian knew her walls were coming down and he was glad she seemed to be accepting it rather than recoiling from him. Though it was clear she wouldn’t broach the subject without a gentle nudge in the right direction.

He had spoken with Liam once or twice about telling her how he felt and his brother had merely said that ‘he ought to wait until the time was right’ and suggested that Killian would know when that was. The advice while useful was infuriating; he had no idea how to determine the right time (even though his two failed attempts were chalked up to being the ‘wrong time’ he would never admit it was a simple case of losing his nerve)

***************************************

the next month at sea was slow going with calm conditions and little wind. Killian had healed well and was for the most part back to his usual self. While Emma had been wonderful company and a balm for his soul, in those first couple of weeks he found himself bored to tears; unable to busy himself with his duties he was almost driven to madness. But healing was a waiting game and it didn’t take long before Emma was confident enough in his progress to allow him to undertake a few tasks.

Once he was free of his bandages there was no stopping him from taking up his usual, strenuous duties and he revelled in being useful again. Liam seemed to understand this and continued to delegate every possible task to Killian.

Emma was also making the most of her time now that her long term patient was fully recovered and when she wasn’t assisting in the running of the ship she was taking care of any ailments the crew suffered with. It kept her occupied even if the injuries weren’t serious it still took time to pull out splinters or clean and bandage cuts and scrapes.

Having spent so much time together since the kidnapping Killian and Emma seemed to slip back into the easy routine they had before working and spending most nights together, however neither of them was willing to admit that it was a poorly assembled façade hiding much deeper feelings.

For Emma, the shared trauma of that night had led to a strong bond with Liam. Considering that she would be a permanent part of the crew until the journeys end, it made fitting in far easier when she was interacting with the men in a social and official sense. She was always nicely surprised when Liam came to her asking advice on matters he needed a second opinion on, it showed he had a great amount of trust and respect for her.

Will had also become a good friend in the aftermath and they would often spend an evening playing cards or throwing knives. He would also ask her advice though it was usually to ask about how to improve his flirting (those conversations would often cause fits of laughter so intense she struggled to breathe). Will had a kind heart though and she appreciated his ability to make light of any situation. Not to mention he was a good distraction when keeping up her pretences around Killian became too much for her to handle.

He was incredibly easy to talk to and She found that underneath the boyish humour he was incredibly wise. Oddly enough it was Will who first managed to coax the truth of her feelings for Killian from her. She never expected to confess it so easily to anyone, however it seemed all he had to do was ask the right question. She appreciated that he never truly mocked her for it (teasing her was natural but it was always done with respect) he accepted that she didn’t understand it herself and was always glad to listen when she needed to vent about how frustrating unadmitted feelings could be.

Though he kept her secret, Will would often wink at her or nudge her whenever Killian was nearby hoping to encourage her to admit them, one time he even went so far as to try to trip her as Killian walked by in the hopes he would catch her before she fell; naturally it didn’t end well, but Will took a decent slap to the cheek so Emma considered them even.

Time truly was the greatest healer, but time is regrettably a construct that makes some moments feel endless and other so fleeting that much like lightning you aren’t sure you’ve even seen it.

Despite all the joy her life free from royal obligation gave her and regardless of the dangers she had already faced, eventually the time came for the horizon of her life to darken once again with the reminder that she was simply inside the eye of the storm that was Morgana LeFay and her threat.
The reminder came in the form of another letter from her parents.

Our Dearest Emma,

We are overjoyed to hear you are safe! your Father and I have been consumed with worry for so long and it was such a relief to hear you are aboard a royal navy ship with such a welcoming Captain and crew.

I miss you more with each day that passes. However, your Father and I implore you not to return until we send word. It is far from safe here and we are still under threat (you are still under threat).
You asked in your letter if we planned to force you to marry and my heart broke, I understand how afraid you must have been that we would, but I would sooner die than see you unhappy for even a moment. Have faith in us dearest one we will prevail, so long as there is hope. As worried as we have been and as hard as we tried to find you, we prayed you were far away from Misthaven.

We have been working tirelessly to form an alliance with Morgana that is not by means of marriage, but she is as cruel as she is demanding. Regina has been kind enough to assist us in trying to find a way to defeat her with magic but it seems futile at this point as she seems to be one step ahead of us every time.

But enough of that my darling; I want you to know that we couldn’t be prouder of you and I hope you will see many wonderful things and have plenty of adventures in the meantime (I know you’ll be safe, you’re a better swordswoman than I ever was).

Unfortunately, this will be our last correspondence for some time as we cannot risk anyone finding out where you are now or where you are headed. You can rest assured that we have explained your absence to the court and the guards by telling them we sent you to your Aunt Regina for protection. the only people who know the truth are Regina, Granny & Ruby who naturally assisted in our initial search.

We send you all our love and hope to see you as soon as its safe
Mama & Papa

Ps; I hope you find something you may not know you seek: you’ll know what I mean by that when you find it.

Chapter Text

Emma was astounded at the love and support her Mother and Father had poured into such a short communication. A lovely warmth settled deep in her chest, replacing the cold, bitterness she held onto while wrongly assuming her parents expected her to submit to Morgana’s demands. Salty tears streaked her face as she read over and over how proud they were of her and how hard they were trying to find a way to help despite her being so quick to assume they would turn on her.

She knew immediately she needed to share all she had learned with Killian. She carefully folded the note and put on her coat before heading into the dismal weather above deck.

She found Killian speaking with Liam near the helm; both of them were soaked through, rainwater glistening as it dripped from their clothes and hair. Finding them together saved her a second conversation. Clearing her throat as she approached, they both turned their attention to her. She relayed the contents of the letter quickly and they in turn were incredibly happy that they no longer had to wonder if they would face punishment for harbouring the princess and would not have to continue to be wary of strangers who may be royal bounty hunters. (though they would naturally need to be cautious around strangers, they no longer had to fear they were being actively pursued by the crown)

When Killian’s shift on deck ended he made his way below and knocked on Emma’s door. He had watched her intently as she had told them what her parents had said and he noted that it seemed as though she were lighter somehow. He wanted to share her joy before it flitted out of their grasp.

When there was no answer he knocked again hoping she hadn’t decided to turn in early but he was met with her sweet voice welcoming him in

“It’s not locked Killian; you can come in.”

Stepping inside, he coughed awkwardly and ran a hand through his still damp hair. She always looked lovely but he had to stop himself staring; the dim lamplight gave her light skin a radiant quality and her long golden hair, flowing freely down her back glimmered with every slight flicker of light.

Snapping himself out of his fantasy before it went too far, he took a seat beside her on the bed.

There was a beat of silence before she spoke;

“You know, when I first got here, I was so afraid my parents were going to find me, drag me back to the palace and tell me it was my duty to marry that Witch’s son; but when I read that letter today… I felt guilty for thinking the worst of them, but I never felt more at peace knowing the lengths they would go for me to be safe and happy.”

She looked down at her hands, a light blush spreading across her cheeks

“Well I suppose anyone faced with what you have been these past few months would have come to think the worst, but I have to admit I'm glad to see that you have found relief and solace in their reassurance.” He replied

She smiled up at him and his heart melted, but she looked away bashfully forgetting herself yet again. realising how tense the air was Killian decided it was time to excuse himself before he put his foot in his mouth.

Retiring to his cabin he contemplated as he did most nights why he could never seem to find the courage nor moment to say out loud what he knew in his heart. He supposed it was because things were so cordial between them and he didn’t want to shatter the illusion they were each hiding behind.
It was simply a waiting game

*************************************
a few uneventful days passed, as did the storm, though nothing ever stayed uneventful for long in their lives.

 

~*~

In the middle of the night Emma jolted awake, a prickling feeling ran down her spine and she shivered. Glancing around the room she tried to reassure herself that she was alone in the darkness but choked on her gasp when she saw a cloaked figure standing by the desk.

Face hidden under a large hood, the figure chuckled before moving gracefully toward her. Emma knew that whoever this person was, there was only one way they could possibly have boarded the Jewel and other than Aunt Regina, other magic users weren’t to be trusted.

Sitting on the edge of the bed the woman removed her hood and spoke in a gravelly voice.

“Is that any way to treat your future mother in law? I mean I would usually expect a curtsy at the very least, but not even as much as a hello, that’s rather rude Pet…”

Emma felt her stomach drop. Morgana had found her. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t considered the possibility but she had truly believed that she had a chance of escaping her fate. Bile rose in her throat and she swallowed hard, trying to hide her fear. She knew there was no point calling for help and there was obviously nowhere she could run. so she sat up and waited for Morgana to explain herself. She didn’t have to wait long;

“Now then Pet, it's late so let’s get down to brass tacks hmm? I have grown rather bored with our little game of cat and mouse. It’s as though you haven’t taken my threat seriously.” She said with a pout

“You understand that when I say; 'I will kill every person you care about and destroy your kingdom if you continue to refuse to comply with my demands', that I mean literally not figuratively?” her voice dripped with condescension but still conveyed the threat perfectly.

Emma thought about how best to reply and supressed the desire to clear her throat in an attempt to strengthen her voice and her resolve

But Morgana continued to monologue, her voice and manner sickly sweet as if she were trying to tame the wild rage burning in her eyes.

“You see Pet, I'm not just anyone and you can’t just ignore me or run away from me. I will find you no matter how far you run and I tend to get a little cranky when I have to do that. So I am here to give you one. Last. Chance, Pet. I’ll even give you a day to mull my offer over, that’s how generous your future mother in law can be.”

Emma had to hold back her attitude. She was in no position to bargain at this point and she knew that she had to keep her cool, for the sake of herself and her crewmates.
She took a breath to steady herself before asking Morgana to continue;

“What do you propose then?”

Morgana sneered at her before revealing the abhorrent options Emma could choose from

“Good, you’re finally playing nicely; simply put, you have two options pet…”

“First; you could follow through with your brave little scheme to defy me; but as soon as your pretty little mind is made up, I will burn your kingdom to the ground, enslave your people and just for F.U.N I might maim, torture and kill your family… most likely in that order, I am so awfully predictable that way” A light smirk crept onto morgana’s face seeing Emma understanding her situation despite the teasing, almost light-hearted tone she used.

“Or… tomorrow night when I return for your answer, you concede to marry my son Rowan and we forget all this unpleasantness…. Your choice pet.”

Before Emma could say a word Morgana waved her hand shrouding herself in yellow-black smoke and disappeared.

Chapter Text

Emma stared at the empty space where Morgana had stood. It wasn’t as if she had never seen someone use magic to transport themselves from one place to another, Aunt Regina did it all the time; but her expression was pure disbelief for an entirely different reason.

Emma wondered if Icarus had felt this way when he realised his wings were melting in the heat of the sun. She had thought Morgana would forget about her if she ran, perhaps decide to find some other plaything to torment, but she had fooled herself thinking that she might find peace and freedom and her hope melted away like wax.

It didn’t even cross her mind to defy Morgana a second time, there was no doubt that Morgana had intended to back her into a corner with no third option to escape her fate and keep everyone she cared about safe. There were her subjects to think about as well as her family and friends, they wouldn’t survive her wrath. But at least she had one night to say goodbye.

***********************************

Killian was on his way back to his cabin having raided Liam’s bookshelf hoping to ease his insomnia when he ran into Emma heading above deck. It took a split second for him to notice she was distressed: Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were red and slightly puffy, still shining with unshed tears.

He wondered if he should leave her in peace, not wanting to make her uncomfortable with unwanted comfort; but decided not to fight the urge to embrace her for a moment before she moved on.

He was glad he followed his instincts when he felt the tension leave her shoulders as she melted into his arms with a little sniffle. Tucking her into his chest he could hear her slight sobs muffled in his lapel and he wondered what could have upset her this much considering how at peace she had seemed since receiving her parents letter.

He didn’t have the chance to ask before Emma stood on her tiptoes and kissed him. Surprise and shock coursed through him but there was no hesitation to return her affection (and then some). He tangled one hand in her hair while wrapping his other arm around her waist. Kissing her felt so natural, she felt like home; he didn’t stop to think about rhyme or reason for this sudden outburst of affection, only that he hoped it confirmed a reciprocation of his own feelings for her.

Eventually needing to come up for air Emma buried her face in his shoulder and Killian placed a gentle kiss on the crown of her head before deciding that even though he may ruin the moment his curiosity demanded satisfaction.
“Emma?” he probed tentatively.

“hmm?”

“Much as I enjoyed that, do you want to tell me what happened?”

Emma met his eyes for a moment her cheeks reddening a little and nodded before taking his hand and leading him back to her cabin. Once the door was secured behind them and they were sitting comfortably close together she answered.

“Morgana was here...”

Short and to the point, a million and one questions raced through Killian's mind and the first question he managed to blurt out, while not what he wanted to ask first, had the potential for the most worrying answer.

“She’s threatened you, hasn’t she?

Lowering her gaze, she nodded without so much as a sound.

“Do you want to tell me about it?” he asked

“Not particularly.” She said quietly

“Emma, will you please look at me and at least tell me what she said? Whatever it is we can find a way to keep you safe.”

She interjected, her usual fire returning to her eyes.

“You think I'm the one who needs to be kept safe?! I couldn’t care less for my own life at this point… Morgana never even needed to threaten my kingdom or my family; she won the moment she threatened the person I L-love most… the rest was just collateral; she knew she had me with one damn name…”

“I couldn’t go the rest of my life married to someone else without you knowing that I loved you enough to want to save you at the cost of my own fucking happiness.”

It took Killian a moment to process, but the realisation was in a word, bittersweet. After spending so long wondering how she felt about him, he was relieved to know she loved him back, but he couldn’t overlook the fact that her feelings (and confession) were overshadowed by Morgana’s looming threat. He had tried to find the right time to tell her himself and had expected that should she feel the same that it would be a happy occasion. Instead he was being used as a pawn to manipulate Emma into marrying someone she had never met on the whim of an insane witch with no scruples.

 

“There has to be another way… there’s always another way, isn’t there?” Killian was almost pleading with her to provide him with a shred of hope.

Instead she laced her fingers through his and in one smooth movement laid them both down on the bed, wrapping his arm around her waist.

“She’ll be back for my answer tomorrow night…”
“Will you stay with me?” She whispered.

“of course…” he said dropping a kiss on her shoulder.

“We’ll have all day tomorrow to think of a way out of this mess, I promise.”

 

*******************************
having woken with Killian still curled up next to her Emma began to ponder what happened after Morgana had gone: she hadn’t counted on running into Killian in the hallway, but fate has a funny way of providing opportunities and she was glad to have him beside her now. She smiled thinking about their earlier kiss and was glad she hadn’t held back. She had spent long enough denying her feelings and herself and it wasn’t just hurting her, it caused him just as much pain.

She felt peaceful with him sleeping beside her, every steady breath he took was a reminder that her choice would keep him alive. She took comfort in the fact that at least he knew what she was doing was simply because she loved him. Even if it took her months to admit it at least she could sleep at night knowing that he would be alive in the world because she made the right choice.

It would mean a loveless future, but someone wise once said ‘it’s better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all.” so she supposed her sacrifice was more than worth it.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t easy to get back to sleep with the number of intrusive thoughts milling about her head but feeling secure with Killian beside her, eventually sleep took its hold and her problems melted into oblivion. Thankfully they both managed a few hours of blissful peace enveloped in each other’s embrace. But it wasn’t meant to last.

 

By the time the first gentle rays of sunlight began to stream through the porthole recalling Emma and Killian to consciousness, tension had already begun to build as their time together began slipping away in anticipation of Morgana’s second coming. Emma knew what her decision had to be but she hadn’t the heart to tell Killian she had lost hope in finding a way to extricate herself from her dire situation. She simply wanted to spend her few remaining hours with him, all the while trying not to regret pushing him away and hiding her feelings; had she known they were on such borrowed time things could maybe have gone differently.

 

Stirring slightly Emma smiled to herself when Killian pulled her closer and with a quiet hum of satisfaction he planted a gentle kiss on the crown of her head while entwining his fingers with hers. It would be so easy to forget the world and just exist together in that moment. But it would be futile to lose themselves to such a happy fantasy with such darkness hanging over them.

 

Killian hadn’t said a word yet; he was still trying to hold onto a flawed façade of calmness in the face of the storm; his mind had been working since waking trying to think of a way to protect his beloved. He hated knowing he was such a significant part of the reason she had decided to give in. He would gladly give anything to preserve her happiness, even his life; but it wasn’t looking like there would be a way around Morgana’s ultimatum.

 

two altruists, each working to save the other… it almost sounded like the start of a joke, only this situation was the antithesis of humour.

 

They passed the morning away in resigned silence. They both felt more needed to be said but neither could find the words to express the depth of their feelings, both coming so close to speaking but each time finding the right words wouldn’t come.

 

Killian supposed this must be what purgatory would feel like (and he figured he had been there before so he ought to know). Stuck dreading the moment that he would lose her, but feeling like time had frozen them in a state of endless waiting; What could he possibly say to provide her comfort or hope when he was swiftly losing his own?

 

Waking together had been a gift he thought, they accepted there was something more between them through the shared intimacy of chaste touch through the night. At least they had shared a small stolen moment of closeness; there hadn’t been a need to go further, they were content with sharing space and stealing kisses. It seemed mutually understood yet unspoken that they didn’t want or need to spend this last night trying to find solace in lust. Nor did they want to tarnish the experience with the crushing weight of grief and fear in the face of losing each other.

 

Emma’s mind supplied one word which became a torturous mantra over the course of the day
“star-crossed.”

 

It repeated over and over in her mind to the point she thought she might go insane with the weight of understanding what that word truly meant. She wondered if Killian was feeling the same and had to bite back tears that threatened to slip down onto her pillow. Despite this she felt a strange sense of detachment, as though she were existing outside her body watching the scene before her with a profound sense of the fleeting nature of happiness.

 

They both spent the afternoon pondering time as a construct. The hours spent waiting for Morgana went by sluggishly and swiftly all at once and when they finally found something to say they had agreed that these last moments would be theirs and theirs alone, there would be no need to tell Liam or anyone else until it was necessary.

 

Someone eventually knocked on the door, shattering the feeling that they could be the last two people in existence; Emma sent whoever it was packing, quickly as they had come. For the first time that day she stood and stretched, missing the feeling of Killian’s warmth and security as he held her close enough to blur the lines between their two bodies. Deciding that it was time to gather her meagre possessions in preparation for her departure, she pottered about for a while. Drawing the process out before eventually ducking behind her modesty screen to dress.

 

When she returned to sit on the bed where Killian had remained he moved and placed a small ring in her hand. It was simple in design with a light amethyst stone set in silver filigree.

 

“It was my mother’s… I'd been meaning to give it to you when the time was right.” he explained wrapping her hand around the cold band before she could refuse it.

 

“I asked Liam for it not long after we met. She would have loved to have met you and I think I speak for her as well as Liam in saying that the three of us would like you to have it. I would have preferred to accompany it with a proper proposal, but I can see that would be insensitive now.”

 

She turned to look at him and was met with a sad smile as he admitted that he wanted to ask for her hand. Her parents would approve of him so much she thought and she couldn’t help but feel honoured he thought his mother would have felt the same. She leaned into him, pressing her lips to his gently.

 

He tasted of salt and linen and something else that was completely his, it was dizzying how much she enjoyed the searing sensation kissing him brought and she knew he felt the same. They found solace in each other in the simplest and oldest of gestures.

Here there were no bittersweet feelings just the all-encompassing love for each other, no matter how long it had taken to say it out loud they were together now and nothing else truly mattered while that love lasted. It was something they could both hold onto for eternity.

 

Eternity would turn out to be another hour. It seemed Morgana was impatient to claim her prisoner.

Chapter Text

Emma decided that the best course of action before her departure would be to explain things to Liam in person (leaving Killian behind had felt like cleaving her heart in two with dull knife; asking him to stay away until she was gone had shattered what remained completely). As much as she wanted to avoid such an agonizing conversation, she knew he deserved a proper farewell after all he had done for her.

There was also the matter of leaving behind instructions which would need to be followed to the letter once the Jewel reached Arendelle; with luck perhaps she would see them all again and make her apologies then. She didn’t dare to tell Killian about her plans before she left; unable to predict the outcome, she figured that keeping them between herself and Liam would hurt less should they be unsuccessful (she wouldn’t put Killian through another disappointment, but her heart could take it).

 

~*~

Killian had returned to his cabin focusing on trying to contain his emotions, however he knew there would be no restraint once he was alone. Though he was well schooled in fighting, He’d never been one for senseless violence. Now it felt as though every fibre of his being craved release borne of the carnage he could inflict with his bare hands.

‘as if it would change anything’. He thought bitterly

He had never considered how many facets there were to anguish, the sheer number of them created a kaleidoscope of red and black which danced across his vision as he lost himself in it.

Reaching his quarters, he noted the biting silence that greeted him as he bolted the door. That seemed to be the last sane thought in his head.

A mix of pure wrath and grief, he picked up the single lantern on his desk; studying it for a moment, he threw it… simply to revel in watching it shatter against the back wall; broken glass fell against the wood, sounding like discordant music. It was white noise to him and yet he found pleasure seeing something else breaking apart so brutally.

The dam had broken and his rationality drowned.

The ink bottle was next and the wooden wall was marred instantly, darkness seeping swiftly into the grain as Killian cleared the desk in one rapid movement.

Books and parchment flew everywhere as he continued his tirade. The paper fluttered gently down to meet the floorboards, juxtaposed with the clattering of heavier items.

He ripped his shelves from their brackets and hurled them across the small space, not caring about what had rested upon them. The desk was hastily flipped and the contents of the drawers left strewn all over the floor, his cot was upturned blankets and sheets sprawled over the carnage on the floor.

anything he touched he destroyed.

Eventually there was nothing left, short of taking out his sword and hacking the ship to pieces; instead he took to beating the wood into submission with his fists. His knuckles were naturally ruined after just a few hits.

Discoloration and swelling set in immediately; the various shades of red and purple blossoming under his skin blending nicely with the droplets of bright scarlet and clear fluid weeping from multiple grazes.

He looked down at his hands with disgust.

He only had himself to blame. For everything.

She never would have wanted him to be like this.

Thank the gods she would never see him in such a state.

 

There was nothing left for him now that she was gone… there was a brief flash of "why bother living" but the tiny sliver of hope left in his heart put a stop to that train of thought.

Though his heart would never survive long with this guilt; It would eat him alive. He failed her and he wondered whether she would ever find it within her heart to forgive him should they ever meet again.

Slowly he felt his anger beginning to reside, but the ensuing hollowness saw his knees buckle and he stumbled back hitting the door, he felt weak in more ways than one and slid down to sit with his elbows resting against his knees.

His eyes were stinging with fresh tears and despite pressing the uninjured heels of his palms firmly against his eyes they broke free, leaving tracks which burned like acid but left no mark.

He wanted to scream but knew that would only bring questions; though his body seemed to ignore his wish to remain silent as ragged sobs ripped from his throat leaving him hoarse.

The pain in his hands was considerable and helped anchor him somewhat, he’d have to take care of them later. He tried to stop himself looking at the destruction he caused, feeling ashamed of himself for being childish enough to throw a tantrum like that.

It wasn’t that he was pitying himself in that moment; He felt truly helpless. There was no way he could prevent the inevitable in such a short amount of time, so he had allowed the day to pass, enjoying having her close.

Gods how he had wanted to make the most of their time, to do more than just exist in the same space. He understood why humans have a penchant for carnal lust when it seemed like the world might end.

It felt wrong, so wrong… Oh but he had wanted it all the same, if only to leave something of himself branded into her memory; to simply show her how much he had wanted her all along, in every possible way ranging from chaste and innocent to pure sin.

He realised he didn’t want their first time to be bittersweet, filled with regret and longing for a future now out of their reach.

He would rather not have the memory of their bodies engaging in the simplest of pleasures, than have it be twisted and disfigured with the agony of losing each other. She would never cease being the reason for every breath he took and the last thing he wanted was to have their first time seemed forced, hurried or otherwise cheapened by their situation.

Hours passed as he spiralled into his despair and he allowed his mind to go blank as he slowly disappeared into the void. The tears never stopped… Hard as he tried he couldn’t will them out of existence.

He didn’t stir once from his position on the floor until it occurred to him that he ought to check the time and confirm she was truly gone.

As much as he had hated granting her space, that was why he had bolted the door after running from her cabin… He didn’t really want to watch her go and there was no one on this damn ship that could have made him (other than her). He searched for his clock among the wreckage of his room and found it cracked but still ticking; much like his now useless heart.

Unlatching his door, he was thankful it was late enough for most of the crew to be below deck asleep and he made his way to her room tentatively, pushing the door open even though he knew what awaited him.

She was gone… Gods she was really gone.

Why had he needed confirmation of what he already knew? It wasn’t like he had expected some sick sense of closure. The room looked purposeless without her meagre possessions occupying the space. He closed the door, unable to look anymore. He leaned his forehead against the frame and cried again.

~*~

It could have been minutes or hours, but eventually he felt someone pulling him away from the door, leading him somewhere, whispering gentle encouragements. He didn’t care enough to fight them off, didn’t have the strength to resist.

Chapter Text

After speaking with Liam, Emma had made her way back to her cabin still swiping stray tears off her cheeks. She was glad she didn’t have to pass Killian's quarters on her way; she knew she wouldn’t have the strength to keep him away should they happen to be so close again. They were constantly fighting the gravitational pull between them and it had only become harder having surrendered to it providing a brief interlude of joy amongst the sorrow.

Truthfully She didn’t want him to see her so afraid, so desolated… that was the reality of her final moments spent alone aboard the Jewel. She couldn’t bear his pain as well as her own. Her time spent healing him after their kidnapping had been evidence of that. She had coped because she had to, for his survival; but once she had found reprieve she had broken down. That should have been when she admitted it to him, rather than entrenching herself in denial and indifference.

She had said as much of a goodbye to each brother as she could bear. Then she had laid the foundations of a plan to attempt her rescue; everything hung on the Jewel making it to Arendelle as soon as humanely possible. All in all, she had made the most of the day given to her by Morgana. Sometimes good could come of dire situations.

The time had come to place her faith in her family, her friends and her …

Emma’s thoughts halted abruptly.

‘Gods, they hadn’t even discussed what they had become over the past evening!’

‘She knew how they felt about each other; but they weren’t lovers (yet), they weren’t secretly engaged or anything like that. The ring he had given her had originally been intended as such but he hadn’t expressly asked…’

‘So what then?’ she asked herself

‘It hardly mattered now, did it?’

No matter how she defined what they had, he had her faith. She trusted he wouldn’t rest once his hope was reignited. If he was feeling anything close to how she was, then reigniting that spark would be difficult, but hopefully the plot she had outlined to Liam for her liberation would be enough to do the trick and restore it.

She didn’t have too long to sit and ruminate. Morgana arrived ahead of time, filling Emma’s room with acrid smoke.

“Well… Pet, am I killing anyone tonight, or are you coming peacefully?”
“I would so love to get a little blood on my hands.” she sneered.

There was no need for discussion, Emma would not bother to respond to Morgana’s comment, nor would she ever lower herself to pleading or grovelling.

Emma stood gracefully, squared her shoulders and held her head high; she utilised her birthright to a regal attitude as if it were the last piece of armour she could use to shield herself from Morgana. She took a breath, trying to prevent any emotion from entering her reply and in a steady voice stated…

“…I concede.”

“Very well then.” Morgana looked slightly disappointed and it made Emma nauseous.

With a flourish and another puff of smoke Emma found herself in unfamiliar surroundings; managing only a quick glance before her consciousness was dragged into oblivion. The last thing her mind registered were cold grey flagstones, rushing up to meet her.

 

~*~

 

Killian woke to a momentary reprieve from the previous day’s emotions but as his mind reconfigured itself, they broke free of his subconscious and he was sucked back into the whirlpool all over again. He had no idea when he’d been moved from outside Emma’s cabin but glancing around in his disorientation he realised he was in Liam’s berth.

He was mercifully alone and tears spilled once again, hot and salty down his face. He struggled to keep them contained but it was no use.

It hadn’t taken long for Liam to return and that seemed to set Killian off again. He felt like a small boy unable to control his emotions but Liam sat beside him sharing his despair and his tears. Somehow that was more comforting than he could have imagined.

“We will get her back brother.” Liam reassured.

“She surrendered to save us Liam, she told me there would be no other way, why take away her choice and risk whatever truce she may form with Morgana?”

Liam looked pensive and Killian’s curiosity was piqued

“Well she didn’t exactly give up…” his tone, measured and cautious

Killian's eyebrows rose questioningly, expecting an explanation

“She’s left me with plans to orchestrate a rescue once we reach Arendelle.”

“Why wait so long! It’ll be another fortnight before we reach Arendelle, I can’t sit here and do nothing!”

Killian was almost hysterical at this point and tried to slow his breathing before he lost control again, he needed to know what else was said.

“Because we have people we need to contact, people who can help us … The Queen of Arendelle for one, as well as Emma’s aunt Regina and the rest of her family. As much as I’d rather go in guns blazing and get her back as soon as humanely possible; Emma was wise enough to know we would need a few more hands on deck and a couple of magic users on our side to face Morgana and have a chance of surviving.”

“Well that actually could work…” Killian mused.

“It will work, but we have to get to Arendelle before we can do anything. Elsa’s Aunt Ingrid will apparently be able to get messages across via scrying, so there will be very little time wasted what with magic users being able to appear wherever they wish. The hope is that Regina will transport herself along with Emma’s family to Arendelle and we create a battle plan from there.”

Killian felt reinvigorated, as though his wounded heart was beginning to heal, or at least scab over. Knowing she had kept this from him stung a little, but honestly he understood her choice and it was having the desired effect. Though he knew that two weeks being idle while she might suffer would be difficult he was determined to keep himself together for her sake. She had managed to do it for him, now he needed to be the best he could for her.

Chapter Text

Emma jolted awake, wondering how long she had been out for. Judging by the twinge in her neck and shoulders it had been a while, she had to have hit the stone floor fairly hard for her head to be so throbbing so persistently.

She took the time to assess her surroundings properly and found her prison to be quite lavish. Though the door was bolted from the outside, her room contained everything she could think of needing and more. Sighting the tray with a collection of bread, cheeses and fruits, her stomach growled. Loath as she was to accept any kindness from Morgana, there was no point starving herself to death before her comrades could free her.

She sat on the chaise and nibbled what was on offer while examining the intricate tapestries hanging on her wall. They depicted historical scenes and it seemed the story these had to tell was one she was familiar with.
Depicting a part of Camelot’s jaded history, on closer inspection it showed a very different tale of King Arthur than she was used to. The final panel showing his death at the hands of one Lady Morgana LeFay.

“Of bloody course she did.” Emma retorted aloud.

Disconcerting as the tapestries were, they had a beauty about them Emma couldn’t deny. Turning away she stood and went to her window. Looking beyond the sturdy wrought iron bars, she wondered how far away the sea was and naturally her mind drifted to Killian.

Hours passed as she watched the landscape change as the day wore on. Eventually the land was plunged into darkness and Emma went about the task of lighting the lanterns and candles in her chamber. Her mind so blissfully active as she went about the task she almost missed the faint knock at her door.

“Oh! Um... Who is it?”

She exclaimed, failing to hide how flustered she was at being roused from her daydreaming.

It was a man who replied in a gentle voice and she stifled her surprise.

“Milady, I have your supper, may I enter?”

Emma bit back a snarky remark about the door being bolted on his side, but realised perhaps he was merely assuring himself she was decent before barging in.

“Yes please come in.” she replied quickly

The door swung open and a rather attractive young man stepped through carrying another tray.

“Where would you like me to put it, Highness?”

She pointed to the small table near the chaise and he smiled at her before moving to set it down.

Looking him over; he seemed approximately her age. Though he was considerably taller and far broader than her, he had a certain grace and gentleness about him and His hazel eyes appeared to change hues with each flicker of light, she found it almost hypnotic.
When he smiled back it was a warm friendly gesture and she had already noted his habit of looking down when he did, his brown hair falling in his eyes.

As a servant of Morgana he was far from what she had expected, not cold or leering as she would have thought. It threw her for a moment remembering that people are inherently good most of the time. Regaining her composure she decided that she would rather like a friend in this opulent prison.

“Please, don’t bother with all that ‘highness’ nonsense, my name is Emma. What’s yours?”

He looked at her a moment, eyes blown wide in surprise as though he were considering if he had permission to be so informal with her. She realised he likely knew why she was here, and wouldn’t want to risk offending his future mistress lest it get back to Morgana.

“The names Rowan. Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Emma”

She offered her hand to shake and giggled a little when he kissed her knuckles instead. She tutted at him playfully and he met her eyes with a playful smirk.

“How forward of you!” she teased, smirking back.

“Well it’s not every day I deliver to such a beautiful woman. It couldn’t be helped.”

‘Ah so he’s brash enough to flirt!’ She mused.

While feeling flattered, she knew he would get nowhere with his advances and told him as much; surprised at her ability to be so open in such a brief amount of time.

He had smiled as she explained she was otherwise engaged and replied that he knew she wasn’t talking about Morgana’s son. Emma was rather taken aback as he offered his sympathy regarding her situation. He continued to surprise her with his kindness and understanding.

Rowan had taken his leave shortly after and gently closed the door behind him making a quick apology for having to lock her in. He had however, promised that he would return to keep her company whenever he could and Emma found she wanted the company. It helped minimise the crushing weight of missing Killian

~*~

When she rose the next morning Emma had found her dishes from the previous evening cleared and her breakfast waiting. When she had gone to make a cup of tea she had discovered a small, neatly handwritten note under her teacup. It gave her a small glimmer of hope.

 

Pretty birds in pretty cages, sing their sad refrains for ages.
I’d hate to hear you sing alone, so I shall try to get you home.
-R

~*~

Liam had been there for him as he spent the day working though the devastation of losing her, of failing her. At one point when tears had begun to flow freely again, he commented on how he felt like a small boy, unable to control himself. Liam had simply assured him that losing anyone in such a manner would cause more than a few tears; that was when Liam himself had let his mask slip a little, breaking down himself.

Killian found that seeing his brother going through similar emotions was strangely comforting and somehow it allowed him to move past his guilt at having them. they spoke at length about how they each felt about her. Killian came to understand that Liam saw Emma as a sister, as much a part of the family as Killian. It warmed his heart.

Liam decided it was time to explain what it had been like after they had been kidnapped and he detailed how ashamed he was at being unable to help her and at being so afraid he couldn’t even move when they had finally freed themselves. He told Killian about how she had helped get him through his initial shock and then his secondary guilt when he struggled to live with his own failure, when he struggled to keep himself from crying with bitter guilt at all times of the day.

Killian found himself coming out the other side then, hearing how his brother felt. It wouldn’t make him miss Emma any less, but at least he was assured in the devotion of his brother to getting Emma back.

Killian woke the next morning and from then on time aboard the Jewel seemed to move slower than ever. They were still a week away from port and Emma was in the wolf’s lair so to speak.
Killian half feared that by the time they docked in Arendelle they would all be old men.

So instead he filled the hours thinking about the logistics of Emma’s rescue. There was a lot that could go wrong; there could be spies in Arendelle, they could be known to Camelot’s harbourmaster and guards (he figured they would likely need to change ships to avoid that detection), the castle itself may not have an unguarded way in, Morgana may have enchanted her castle (though if other magic users were to be arriving he supposed that wouldn’t be so much of an issue) …

the list went on and on and he fretted over what he could while biding his time.

Keeping his mind occupied on getting her back was the only way to distract himself from how deeply her absence affected him. it was as though a black hole had opened up and he was unable to pull himself away from its hold.
He had surpassed grieving for her the moment he had found out she was not resigning herself to her fate. Now his emotions were an embodiment of refined rage. He used it as a tool to keep himself going; while he wasn’t destroying anything he was certainly focusing his anger towards something more deserving.

He was going to kill Morgana LeFay. There would be no mercy, he would end her.

Chapter Text

Emma rose early with a new sense of purpose. Someone in this miserable, hell hole of a castle wanted to help her get away; but she knew it would be unwise to ignore the flicker of distrust in the back of her mind and kept her plans to herself.

However, it was refreshing to share company with someone as kind and understanding as Rowan and she appreciated the break in solitude and silence more than she wanted to admit.
He had been very open with her the past few days and they had spoken about loss and love as if old friends.

He shared in turn about Morgana keeping his Fiancée Heather locked away as collateral should he try to escape and Emma had cried with him making a silent promise to help the two lovers all she could. He had described her with such regard and admiration that Emma couldn’t help but draw parallels between her own feelings for Killian. when she had asked if Rowan had thought about escaping, he paled and explained that he couldn’t leave alone for fear of Morgana’s wrath being taken out on her.

~*~

If she had to guess it had been a week since she had first arrived, meaning the Jewel would be very close to Arendelle by now, providing the wind and weather had remained stable. She wondered what she would do if they were delayed and the wedding had to take place before they could come for her. How could she delay when Morgana still held all the aces?

There had to be a way and she wondered if perhaps she could ask the ever absent Morgana to allow her son to court her for a short period. Then at least she would get to know who she was being forced to marry and make a plan based around his character.
‘That could work’ she mused.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Rowan’s recognisable knock and she responded excitedly for him to enter. He left the door open behind him and walked over to stand stiffly near where she was seated.

He hadn’t come with the usual tray and Emma’s tried to make sense of his appearance. His clothes were far grander than the attire afforded a butler and Emma was more than suspicious she had been betrayed; a royal blue doublet with winding embroidery and a plain yet well-made dove grey cloak fastened with a silver clasp; while very flattering were easily construed as symbols of the affluence afforded to those who knew how to bargain for their intel.

But something was still off. He shook his head slightly, his eyes catching hers and silently mouthed ‘I'm sorry’ as a second set of footsteps began to echo off the flagstones.

~*~

For Killian a few days had seemed an age. Waiting for a glimpse of land was excruciating, made worse by the onset of a squall, visibility was low. Arendelle was finally in sight and he expected they should reach the port by nightfall, then they could finally set about rescuing Emma.

as soon as the Jewel had docked Liam and Killian had made their way to the palace to seek audience with Queen Elsa. Liam had already acknowledged that they had to complete their orders first and then discuss Emma and Killian figured that it would be wise to do so.

While at first the Queen seemed aloof and somewhat guarded dealing with the original purpose of their visit (to discuss an alliance of naval forces to combat pirates in the west), she had clearly been hiding behind a façade.

Once their business had been completed and they mentioned needing her assistance to rescue Emma, her manner had changed completely. Killian realized very quickly why Emma held Elsa and her sister Anna in such high regard; they were all kindred spirits.

Elsa and Anna pledged their assistance to get Emma back at any cost and once Liam explained the full extent of Emma’s plan they had all gone about setting it in motion. Elsa’s Aunt Ingrid had been contacted and once caught up on the situation at hand and had simply appeared in the throne room with a flurry of grey smoke and snowflakes surrounding her. With a curt nod and a slight smirk, she went about scrying Regina (who was apparently an old friend)

As part of their preparations, Elsa had requested armour be made for the officers and crew of the Jewel and the smiths worked double time to ensure the order was complete. Being naval officers on a diplomatic mission they hadn’t needed to bring any and the men were grateful to be considered in need of protection (not to mention that the armour was exquisite).

It hadn’t taken long to rally Emma’s family. Once Regina had been informed she had simply waved a hand and appeared along with Emma’s very confused parents.

Everyone had laughed rather unashamedly at the confusion shared by the regents of Misthaven, who had instantly begun to vent their annoyance at being ‘poofed’ out of an important council meeting. Regina had attempted to halt the lecture and explain but they were intent on giving her a piece of their minds. When there was finally a chance to interject, Regina had yelled for them to both shut up and the two clearly headstrong monarchs paused indignantly.

Killian stepped forward and introduced himself formally, being brief in his introduction he set about explaining for what seemed like the millionth time what had happened to Emma and why they had been as they so aptly put it ‘poofed’ out of their meeting without warning.

Worried expressions cemented into their features as he told the tale of Emma’s kidnapping (he left out his personal feelings, keeping things strictly business but the Queen seemed to eye him questioningly)

Once again as soon as they had been briefed Emma’s parents jumped into action, calling everyone into the great hall to begin discussions on infiltration and extraction from Camelot. It wouldn’t be easy but there was one very window of opportunity they could exploit