Only death may pay for life…
His life had been full of loss and loneliness.
His mother was walking down a narrow path, humming an old tune, carrying a small basket of fresh berries and fruit she picked for her family when she was brutally attacked. Her screams ripped from her throat, crying for help as large fists repeatedly flew at her petite body. No one came to her rescue. Thugs stole everything she had, leaving her by herself – cold and naked, lying on the dirt covered ground. The next day, a vicious knife infection had taken her from her husband and two children.
As a young boy, his father promised him the world and beyond. They would sail the seas, explore other worlds on a ship. Unfortunately, those promises were left broken and he and his brother received a painful, emotional blow when their father, who was a fugitive, secretly disappeared during one night to avoid being captured. He had left the two boys to fend for themselves and since that night, neither brother had seen him again.
His brother, Liam, was the hardest for him to lose. He deeply loved his brother; looked up and admired him. And just like that – he was gone. They sailed the seas together in a quest ordered by the King to retrieve a plant, which had been rumored to heal any affliction. The King's lies and manipulation costed him dearly where he had lost his only real friend. His blood. He would never forget that day. Never forget that memory that had been embedded into his brain, always replaying and haunting his dreams. Liam had been fine as they journeyed home, however the moment the ship left the Neverland's seas, he had collapsed and there he held his dying brother. He cried for days on end and he believed the tears would never stop.
And quite so, they never did.
It was in that instant, when all life drained from Liam's body, did he feel utterly helpless and alone. He screamed and cried and begged for his brother to return to him, but that day never came. His older brother's death had a profound effect on him and had snapped something inside of him, changing who he was forever. It was then he abandoned who he once was and started anew, becoming a pirate.
Then, there was Milah. His piercing blue irises caught her darker ones immediately as they drank on opposite sides of the tavern. She eventually came to him, sitting beside him with a playful, mischievous smirk resting upon her lips. He quite fancied her; the mysteriousness and playfulness had attracted him to her. She enjoyed hearing the tales of his travels and the exciting life he lived; gradually she began to fall in love with him, as did he with her. When she had asked him if she could join him on his adventures of traveling the seas, he agreed, in spite of the fact she would be leaving her son and husband behind.
Years later, she was taken from him, too. Rumplestiltskin ascended on the deck of the Jolly Roger, demanding answers from Milah about her leaving their son behind. Once she claimed to have never loved him, Rumplestiltskin ripped her heart from her chest and it was almost as if the Dark One had done the same to him. She fell backwards, collapsing in his arms and, with the little time and strength she had, she told him one last time she loved him. He never had the chance to do the same.
It was ironic that she, too, had taken her last breath in his arms.
He lost the woman he loved and his left hand the same day. He had her name tattooed on his arm and a hook for a hand to serve as a constant reminder of what he once had, then so quickly lost. It was her death that made him a true villain as he thirsted for revenge, regardless of how many years that would take.
He lived a repetitive life paved by the loss of loved ones with constant pain lingering in his shadow. He often spent his nights drowning in a bottle of either the finest – or not so finest – alcohol. It helped him forget for the time being and ease away what ever physical or emotional pain he was feeling.
Each day he would sail the seas. His eyes were dark, his flask held carelessly between his fingers, as he continued down the path of vengeance for the Dark One. He would not rest until his hook was plunged through the Crocodile's throat and he watched the bastard bleed out. He may not be able to kill the men who took his mother, he couldn't find his father – who was most likely dead – and his brother… all he had left was to avenge Milah's death and the loss of his hand.
And he was so close to doing just that. Rumplestiltskin was standing just across the river with a dark haired woman beside him when he was ambushed by royal soldiers. A thick cloth was thrown over his head from behind, immediately surrounding him in darkness. For all of his best attempts of resistance, he was borne off.
He blinked and his chance for revenge was gone.
Even so, that day changed his life. For the better. It was the day he met the beautiful princess, Emma. She had summoned the notorious Captain Hook for his services in bringing back her stolen son, whom was playing outside the castle one minute, then disappeared the next.
Soldiers upon soldiers were sent out to search for the lost boy and the trail they found led back to Neverland. While many soldiers left the Enchanted Forest to bring the boy back, not a single man had returned.
Thus, leaving Emma with no other choice. She did what she had to do without her parents' having the knowledge of her requesting the presence of the infamous pirate. She heard dozens of tales, knew what he was capable of, though she personally never quite laid eyes on him, and knew she probably couldn't trust him. Nevertheless, if Captain Hook was the man for the job, then so be it. He was going to help her.
One way or another.
And Captain Hook? He hadn't laid eyes on a creature more beautiful than the princess that stood before him.
Emma's emerald eyes stared out of the large window, her gaze seeking the far distance with her mind on overload. Her son, her only child, had been taken to that damned island for reasons she didn't believe she would ever quite understand. Why would someone take her son? What use was he to them? Ransom? Though they surely wouldn't take him to Neverland. Right?
Her eyelids slid shut, tears threatening to spill. Oh, she was sick of the crying. It wouldn't bring back her son, wouldn't change anything except add to her worrying and keep creating pains in her stomach. When she heard the heavy doubled doors being pushed open, she inhaled deeply before willing herself to turn around.
"What have we here?" Emma asked calmly. She watched as two of her soldiers dragged in a man, who struggled against them, with a woolly cloth tied over his head and his arms bound tightly behind his back.
The soldiers yanked the rag off his head and used a small dagger to cut his ties off, freeing him. He blinked a few times, his eyes painfully adjusting to the bright light that contrasted with the darkness he was engulfed in for however long he was bound and captured for before being brought here.
"You know," He rubbed the sore area right above his prosthetic, "if you desired to be in my company this badly, you could have just asked nicely, or come find me yourself. I would have gladly complied to satisfy your every need, princess."
A soldier that stood behind him pulled out a sword and angled the cold metal against his throat. "You'll show some respect to royalty." He didn't even flinch from the threat, already having a pretty good idea that the soldier wouldn't slit his neck with the princess merely a small distance from them, especially since she requested his presence. She needed him for something and he couldn't wait to find out what that something was.
She watched him with curious eyes, his appearance not at all what she had expected. Her mouth opened and closed several times, he noted, but still she hadn't said a word. She licked her lips then and raised a questionable eyebrow. "You're Hook?"
"Captain Hook," He corrected with a smug smile, "or Killian Jones, which ever you prefer."
"Emma," She introduced with a small nod. She may be a royalty, she may be a princess, but she considered herself a human with a name. Taking a step closer to him, though still keeping a good amount of distance between them, she asked, "You're the one that could bring my son back? You could return him safely to me?"
Killian's piercing blue eyes stared straight into her light eyes and despite the fact she was good at hiding her feelings, he was familiar with the look she wore in that moment. The desperate, painful look that shined in her eyes and he may not know her, but he knew right then and there he would do anything to take away such a despair, broken look – to make sure that sadness never stole away her smile again.
She stood before him in a soft, powder blue dress that fell gracefully to the floor, the heels she wore hidden beneath the thin, soft material. The rays of the sun shined through the window, giving the illusion that her blonde hair was glowing as if she was an angel. Her hair was perfectly curled, cascading down her back as it resembled a waterfall of gold silk.
She was the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on throughout his entire life. Never had he seen someone as gorgeous, strong, put together as she. He knew right away she was different and he wasn't sure he would be able to tear his eyes away.
He cleared his throat and scratched his jaw with his knuckles. "Aye, that depends. If I've something in return."
She didn't skip a beat. Straight to the point; no time for bargaining. She had limited time before her parents would return and see that she went behind their back and summoned the well known pirate. And, most importantly, her son did not have the time to waste. "Of course. Whatever it is, is yours. You want gold? I could -"
"A kiss." He quickly interrupted with his signature smirk tugging at the corners of his lips. Her mouth practically dropped; his short request leaving her stunned and lost for words. He bit back his laughter at her bewildered expression.
"I… what? Why? A kiss?" Growing flustered, she felt her cheeks grow warm, her eyes instantly moving in every direction that wasn't him. She bit down on her bottom lip, pulling and chewing the soft flesh between her teeth to help calm her nerves that were already on edge. "I don't…"
She didn't understand.
Seeing the confusion and anxious look consume her face, Killian chuckled and explained himself, adding in a careless shrug to the shoulder. "Not every pirate gets his chance to kiss a princess. A kiss is all I ask for in return." When she still refused to meet his gaze, he took a very small, dangerous step forward and was surprised the soldiers that stood behind him didn't act on his bold movement. "My services for one kiss. What do you say, love?"
"I…" She closed her eyes for just a moment to recompose herself. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. She pursed her lips to the side and thought about his offer. He wasn't really asking for much, now was he? Her son's life was in his hands. Surely he knew he could ask for the world and she would hand it to him without even blinking an eye. And yet, all he asked for was a kiss?
Finally, looking him straight in the eyes, blue meeting green, Emma nodded her head. "Okay, you bring me back my son and you have yourself a deal."
He felt his heart skip a beat and he actually tempted to pinch himself. That's it? She wasn't going to put up a fight? Argue with him to accept the gold and be on his way? The smile that spread across his face was uncontrollable, along with the warm feeling that washed over him. "You have my word. Your son will be brought back to you without a mere scratch on the lad's head."
She smiled at that, strangely trusting him almost completely. Trusting people was something she struggled with, but she could also sense when someone was lying to her and there wasn't a doubt in her mind that Killian was lying. She'd take his word and only prayed in the end her son would be returned safely back to her and she'd once again be able to hold him in her arms. "Thank you."
He took another step forward and she saw something in him immediately change. His eyes fell to her lips, glistening with lust as he tongue escaped his mouth and slowly swept his lips. He swallowed thickly; his fingers were burning at his side, craving to touch the soft flesh of her cheek. He wondered how she would taste, how her breasts would feel against his chest, but it was only when he took another step toward her she stopped him.
She raised her hand, halting his movements in an instance. Her soldiers already holding their swords, waiting on her command. A flash of concern crossed his face, but she eased him with a soft smile, her tongue poking out of her mouth in a teasing gesture. "Not yet." She crossed her arms neatly over her chest, "After I have my son in my arms you'll get your kiss."
His face fell. "What? I risk my life in returning to a place I've spent years of my life trying to rid myself from and no goodbye kiss?" He was teasing, she knew that, and part of her found him quite… adorable?
She shook her head, pushing the thoughts out of her mind and as far as possible. She didn't need to be thinking that way toward a filthily, scheming pirate who didn't understand the concept of morals. He's a drunk who committed criminal acts, who stole, and killed and… she needed to focus on her son.
Twisting her mouth to the side, she weighed her options for a moment in her head. There was a long pause then and neither said a word. He watched her carefully; he figured she was thinking, but of what, he had not the faintest idea and he didn't want to interrupt. The silence between them wasn't awkward in the slightest, however he was anxious to know what was buzzing in her brain.
She allowed her arms to fall to her sides after a few minutes as she straightened her back. Her head titled to the side, all seriousness taking over her features. Her eyes searched his and she hoped she was making the right decision. "No need for a goodbye kiss. I'm coming with you."
Killian blinked. Had he just heard her correctly? She was… what? No. Neverland was a dangerous place, he didn't need her assistance and certainly did not need to watch over her when surely his own life would be at risk throughout his entire journey of rescuing the boy. He almost stumbled back when she walked passed him, her hand gently touching his shoulder. Moving her lips inches from his ear, she added in a seductive voice, "And trust me, I'm worth the wait."
"Aye, I'd imagine." He muttered, his eyes falling to admire the way she swayed her hips with each step. He licked his lips subconsciously, "Emma -"
"I can handle myself, Hook." Emma answered his unvoiced concerns. She was powerful, more powerful than anyone in the Enchanted Forest realized. Her magic began to dance at her fingertips, small sparks of golden light catching his attention instantly, making him understand what she meant by being able to take care of herself. When she reached the doors, she nodded her head at him. "I'll be back. Once I change into more… appropriate clothing for our trip, we'll head out."
"To Neverland." He sighed, his crystal irises sending a shiver up her spine. She pressed her lips together, taking note in the way his body tensed at the name of the island. She offered him a sad smile.
Never had she imagined she would ever find love again. When the first man she had ever loved passed away from an aggressive fever, she swore she would be alone for the rest of her days. Just her and the son they shared, Henry.
Henry's father passed away when Henry was just a small child, just learning how to take his first steps. Her duty was to take care of her son and raise him on her own, though her parents offered her the support and help she so desperately needed. She was always occupied, either with her son or her duties as a princess who would one day take over the Kingdom. Finding love again was never a priority or even a thought if she were to be honest.
That was until she met the fierce and charming Killian Jones, or some would dare say the infamous Captain Hook.
She summoned him to help her search for her son and that was it. Fortunately, after spending time alone together on his ship, traveling to Neverland and then spending several days actually on the damned island searching for Henry, they at last found him.
Killian kept to his word and made sure Henry was rescued with barely a scratch on him. She held onto her son the moment he was in her reach and never let go until they returned to the Enchanted Forest, back to the castle safe and sound. Of course, her parents were waiting at the doors for their arrival, most definitely furious.
They were grateful their grandson was returned safely, yes, but that did not excuse how infuriated they were that their daughter went behind their back and traveled to a dangerous island with Captain Hook. Killian didn't even have the chance to get a word in before he felt a strong, metal covered fist collide with his jaw.
Emma practically had to pry her father off him and stand between them to make sure he didn't bash the pirate's head in. She apologized for lying, but not for going. She was the one who made the decision to go because she felt like it was the right thing to do. And she was right. Her instincts were right and for that, she won't apologize.
Nevertheless, that didn't stop her father from throwing Killian in the dungeons, claiming he had to "pay" for all the crimes he committed and by him living out the rest of his days in jail would be "justice." Emma fought him on it, though her protesting fell on deaf ears.
She never did keep to her word. She never did give him that kiss.
It took quite a bit of time, but Emma was persistent, determined, and absolutely stubborn. She didn't give up on him and it helped tremendously that her son had taking a liking to Killian. While sailing home, the two bonded and Killian did his best to teach Henry about the stars and how to steer a ship.
Gradually, she found herself falling in love with him, something she never believed possible. He was a pirate and she was a princess, but to her, that didn't matter. Titles and labels didn't concern her. Trusting someone, however, did.
Many people had betrayed their family. They had enemies that envied what they had and wanted to take their happiness away. While Emma was brought up to be a kind, loving girl, she was also reminded to be careful because the world was a dark and unpredictable place.
Friends and loved ones often came and left, it was a repetitive cycle in her life. She was afraid to let someone in because in the end she knew they would leave anyway. Every friend or man she had taking a liking to only stayed for a short period of time before she was left alone. She kept walls up around her, protecting her heart, and the one time she allowed a man to break down those walls, he had left.
Not willingly – the fever came as a complete surprise, but that didn't make it any less painful. He was supposed to be her forever. He was supposed to be the man she spent the rest of her life with along with their son, but life didn't play out that way and instead took a tragic turn.
When Emma managed to have her father release Killian, she expected him to run. The second his cell door was pulled open, he would disappear into the night, never to be seen again as he continued on with his travels sailing the high, endless seas. It surprised her when he appeared in the garden where she often sat, enjoying the peaceful scenery.
He handed her a rose he had picked from one of the bushes and couldn't help the way his mouth pulled back to a wide smile, exposing his straight row of white teeth. They both stood there in silence, smiles plastered on both their faces, and it was then she realized he was different. There had been many men in the passed few years who attempted to woo her, but she never even glanced in their direction. She couldn't really be bothered, yet with Killian it was something different.
She never wanted him to leave.
"You never did give me that kiss." A low chuckle rumbled inside his chest. "What do you say, love?" He winked at her, his eyebrows wiggling in a seductive manner.
She placed her hand over her mouth as she titled her head back and laughed. "Oh, I think you've earned it. Wouldn't you say?"
"Indeed I would." He mumbled before leaning forward. She searched his eyes as his face came closer and closer toward her and she felt her stomach tightening with anticipation, her heart pounding fiercely in her chest. Her eyelids fluttered close and at last, she felt his soft lips touch hers.
She stood on her tippy toes with one hand resting on his cheek while the other slid around his neck, her fingers playing with the tiny hairs at his nape. His arms came around her thin waist, holding her firmly against him just like he had imagined when he first laid eyes on her.
His lips parted against hers and a sudden shudder racked her as he tentatively tasted her with his tongue. The air in his lungs were decreasing, but he didn't want to stop the kiss. He couldn't stop the kiss. She buried her hands in his hair, wanting more of him, wanting to feel and be closer to him.
He deepened the kiss as his tongue danced with hers, exploring her mouth. His hands slid dangerously lower, settling at the small of her back. When oxygen demanded their immediate attention, they reluctantly pulled away with their foreheads coming to rest against each other. They panted, gasping for fresh air, eyes searching and becoming lost in one another.
Emma tore her gaze away from his striking blue orbs she so desperately loved before sliding her eyelids shut. She inhaled deeply, her hands gripping his arms tightly. She nipped at his bottom lip and whispered against his mouth in such an unfamiliar, small voice, "Don't leave."
And he never did.
Piece by piece everything seemed to be falling perfectly into place. She was happy – genuinely happy. She had everything she had ever wanted and she couldn't possibly ask for life to get any better.
If only she knew.
She found the man she truly loved and eventually the time came where she married Killian, despite how angry her father was at first. On the other hand, as long as Emma was happy, her mother accepted Killian with open arms and was beyond thrilled for her only child. She wanted the best for her daughter, wanted her to find love again. If Killian was the man to make her happy, who was she to judge?
It took some time for him to get used to the idea of the pirate being his son-in-law, but in the end he couldn't ignore the blissful smile that seemed to always grace his daughter's face. Her laughter was heard from down the hall, her eyes had a sparkle that shined daily, and her heart full of undying love.
It was weeks after they were married when she discovered she was pregnant. Joyous tears sprung to her eyes the moment she found out and she began to remember how happy and excited she was while pregnant with Henry. Having a little human inside of her was a feeling she couldn't quite explain, but it amazed her.
She and Killian created the little boy or girl growing inside her body, they were going to be parents – for Emma the second time and Killian the first – and he was beyond over the moon. He even teased her with having a little pirate inside of her, something he joked about with her while they searched for Henry in Neverland. She wielded a sword better than most of his crew and he insisted she had some pirate in her and perhaps she was one in a former life.
He had lost so much in his life and now to have a wife, Henry – who he considered as a son – and a child on the way… he had a family. Something he always craved for, though missed out on the chance before.
Days and nights alone spent on his ship, he imagined what life would look like if things had turned out differently for him. He wondered what would have happened if Milah wasn't killed. Would he have married her? Would she have bared his children? Probably not, he mused. He abandoned her own child, what makes him think she would care for having another?
Each and every day, Killian and Emma spent time on readying their unborn child's bedroom in the castle. They decorated the room, had furniture built with carvings engraved into the wood, toys and clothing and blankets placed neatly away in their appropriate spot, and a crib placed in the center of the room with a rocking chair beside it.
He wouldn't let her do a single thing. This was his first time of being a so called "husband," of having a child of his own, and he wasn't going to have anything jeopardize that. He was cautious, overprotective, and extremely overbearing, according to Emma. He was there constantly by her side, doing every single thing for her. Any wish she had, he immediately granted.
She loved him dearly, but she was going to kill him.
Nine months came and went, flying by in a blink of an eye. She was due any day and that excitement had shifted to anxiousness. Her nerves felt as if they were on fire. Occasionally, she felt sharp pains in her stomach and she figured it was the baby kicking, readying itself to come.
It was only when her and Killian were taking a midnight stroll one cold night, fingers laced together, when she realized something was desperately wrong. He urged her to take it easy, to stay in bed, but she insisted on a short walk. She was tired of resting and needed some fresh air. Without another word, he took her hand, dressed themselves, and slipped away from the castle.
The world seemed to have stilled when she suddenly froze and doubled over, her hands grasping at her round belly with tears leaking from her eyes. She couldn't catch her breath, couldn't voice what was wrong, so instead she screamed at the top of her lungs.
She should have known. Good would only last so long before tragedy followed quick in its darkening footsteps.
Killian lowered her gently to the ground, not having the slightest idea what to do. He asked her repeatedly what was wrong, but she couldn't put a string of words together, couldn't form a coherent sentence. She gasped for air, her eyes screwing shut in hopes it would will away the excruciating pain. She felt as if her insides were set on fire, flames tearing apart her body piece by piece, and she just wanted it to stop.
He noticed the blood that leaked between her legs first and he felt every cell in his body freeze; the blood in his veins growing to an abrupt stop. Glancing around with wide, frantic eyes, there wasn't a soul to be found and he wasn't sure if there was time to rush back to the castle, which was a good amount of distance away from where they were.
"Emma," He spoke her name softly, trying not to alarm her, "you and the baby are going to be okay. I swear to you, love, everything is going to be alright." He didn't know who he was trying to convince more: Emma or himself.
"Killian," She cried, her hands clenching onto his leather jacket, "it hurts. Oh, it hurtsso much." His heart shattered when she looked up at him, as if she was a child. Her green, tear-leaking irises were desperate as if pleading for him to take away her pain, to help her and their unborn child.
"I know." He would give and do anything to take away her pain. He'd gladly give up his other hand or switch places with her. He closed his eyes and held her tightly in his arms as he pressed a soft, reassuring kiss to the top of her head. He rocked her gently back and forth while screaming for someone, anyone, to help them. "Please," He constantly begged into the darkness of the night, "anyone, please, help us!"
"Someone, I beg of you, help us!" Killian whipped his head around, hoping to spot someone, to spot a sign of movement, a sign of life, but there was nothing except for the blackness that surrounded them. He felt a tear of his own slide down his cheek and his voice cracked when he whispered to the starless night sky, "Please…"
Emerging from the shadows, a middle aged woman stood before them. She had smooth, caramel-toned skin with the most beautiful curves. Her long black hair that flowed down her back like a waterfall. Her eyes were an extraordinary violet color with black markings drawn onto her face. She wasn't wearing much. She wore a long brown skirt that loosely draped to the floor, hiding her bare feet. A simple tight black cloth only wrapped around her breasts, exposing her bare shoulders and her flat stomach with the same black markings drawn around her belly button.
The woman gave a sharp nod and spoke in a thick, unfamiliar accent. "My name's Tia." She took a step forward, circling the pair that watched her warily. She paused in her movements once she stood in front of them, her gaze focusing on the small pool of blood between Emma's legs.
"And you must be Princess Emma and the pirate, Captain Jones." She extended her hand in true ladylike fashion to introduce herself, but neither took it. The fact that she knew who they were was a bit unsettling, however it wasn't like they were just anybody. They stayed in their position on the dirt covered ground with Emma becoming extremely thankful that her pain was beginning to subside. Pursing her lips, she drew back her hand. "Suit yourself."
"Can you help us?" He asked with his heart and soul pouring into his voice. "Please, she's -"
"You're bleeding." Tia commented straightforwardly. Her eyes moved to Emma's swollen stomach. "And it seems you are almost finished with your nine months, am I correct?"
Emma nodded. She swallowed around the burning lump that formed in her throat before gasping out a verbal answer. "Yes. I-It's just a few more days before the baby comes and… and it hurts." She slid her eyelids closed and attempted to focus on her breathing. "Why… why am I bleeding? Is there something wrong with the baby?"
"That will go away, give it a few moments, dear girl." She bent down, kneeling beside Emma and Killian. She didn't wait for permission, instead she placed her cold hands on top of Emma's belly and closed her eyes, a soft hum spilling from her lips. Under her breath, her hum fell into a string of foreign words that slid from her tongue.
Within minutes, Tia was proven right and the pain dwindled for the time being and Emma no longer dripped blood. Fresh air filled her lungs without needing to gasp; she was able to take a breath without having a constricting feeling as if she was suffocating or feeling as if an unseen foe was squeezing the life out of her and tearing apart her stomach from the inside-out.
"How did you…?" Emma began, but Tia shushed her.
"It's not of importance." She turned her back to them and began walking off the narrow path and toward the trees. "Captain, I highly recommend to you that you bring Emma and follow me. You have questions and only I can answer them."
Killian placed his arms firmly around Emma's body, easing her off the ground and onto her feet as gently and slowly as possible. He let her put all her weight against him, despite how she kept muttering that she was fine, but he wasn't listening. His heart hammered wildly against his ribs, making it hard for him to draw a single breath as fear coursed through his veins, paralyzing his entire body.
His first instincts were to lift Emma in his arms and whisk her away. Bring her back to the castle. Let her receive proper care. Let someone check her out. Don't follow. Don't follow. Don't follow the mysterious, untrustworthy woman. His skull was throbbing with all his thoughts exploding in his head with the decision of running to safety or stepping into the unknown splitting his brain in half. The unknown never scared him before, he never concerned himself with fear before, yet when it came to Emma and his child's heath, he was no longer a gambling pirate.
Tia did not wait for an answer from the pair before she stepped back into the shadows, leaving the choice of following solely up to Killian and Emma. Though they could only see the outline of her back, she called over her shoulder once more when she saw no signs of either moving. And with her words, she knew without a doubt they would follow.
"Come or do not. Either way does not matter to me, but mind you, you are nowhere near the end. A dark path lays in your wake and there is far more blood that has yet to be shed."
"We don't need to do this." Killian heavily sighed. He glanced at Emma, making sure she was alright with following the steep slope. "I could bring you back to the castle and I'll journey back here on my own and seek answers from this woman."
"Yeah, right." She rolled her eyes, keeping a firm grip on his arm to steady her balance. "We're in this together, Killian. The baby and I are fine."
He almost stumbled forward from whipping his head so far to his right to give her a ridiculous look. His eyebrows furrowed together and a humorless laugh spilled from his mouth. "You and the baby are fine? You were bloody bleeding, Emma. You need to be checked out to make sure you're alright." He waved his hook in the air, searching for the right words. "This woman -"
"- saved our lives." She finished for him, her eyes narrowing accusingly. "I mean, I don't know what she did, but she helped. She's willing to give us answers, explain what happened, and she could let us know if our baby is going to be okay. I don't know who she is, but don't you want to find out?"
"We haven't the slightest idea who she is!" He tried to keep his voice down so the woman who led the way didn't overhear their conversation, however he had a hard time when his wife wouldn't listen to a single word he said. "We have a name, that's all."
"Killian, stop." She warned through clenched teeth as she used her free hand to gingerly rub her swollen stomach, the pain beginning to intensify.
"Ah, and here we are." Tia interrupted. Her mouth stretched from ear to ear as she turned to face the pair, her arms outstretched. "Welcome to my home." It wasn't much. A small cabin that was on the verge of crumpling to pieces. There was no door, half of the roof was missing, and the windows were glassless, only broken remnants remaining. She gestured them ahead of her before walking up the squeaky steps and through the opening that led to inside.
"You've no door?" Killian raised a brow.
"Do you see where I live, Captain? I've nothing nobody wants." She stepped behind a wooden table, her fingernail tracing a small scratch on the wood. "I've books and potions that can be mere water in a cracked bottle. Who'd steal from me? I've no fortune, but great wisdom, though no thief cares to question what treasure is stored in the mind."
"What answers can you give us?" Emma asked. Straight to the point, as always. "Please, we need answers of what happened. Is our baby…?"
"Your baby's alive." Tia nodded, taking a seat on a wooden chair that could give out in any given moment. She stared up at them both and when she saw the faintest smile dare grace Emma's face, she stopped her right there. She waved a finger at the princess, her head shaking, "Save your rejoicing for later. I never spoke of it staying that way."
"What in the bloody Hell are you speaking about?" Killian snapped, taking a protective stance in front of Emma. "Staying that way?" Tia made no movement to speak as she silently challenged the pirate through her violet eyes. He shook his head; his anger was merging with his fear and he couldn't take it anymore. He slapped his fist against the table with the vibrations of the collision spilling over bottles, sending the glass shattering to the floor. "Answer me!"
"You'll bite your tongue, Captain." She stood slowly, her hands coming to rest carefully against the wood, "Or I'll make it disappear all on its own, believe me."
"Okay, that's enough." Emma spoke up, her voice wavering with tears on the verge of escaping her eyes. She brushed aside Killian and stood face to face with the woman who had only known them for minutes and yet knew all about their approaching future. "What do you know about our child?"
Tia licked her dry lips. Her eyes stayed on Emma, not finding it worth her precious time to share a single glance toward Killian's direction. When she chose not to answer, Emma lowered her head, her eyelids falling shut. "Please," She whispered, fighting back a painful sob, "please."
"The blood that spilled between your legs was because of your unborn baby. Death has come to greet your child before it even has the chance to open its eyes for the first time. Your child will only know darkness where the second you give birth, its life will have already been taken, leaving you only with its corpse." Tia paused once she saw the first tear fall from Emma's eye and roll down her cheek. She watched Killian's hand subconsciously move to rest on his wife's stomach as he tried to control his breathing. Staying strong for the sake of Emma and his unborn child was first priority, his own tears could wait until later.
"There is no explanation as to why Death has chosen your baby to claim. I cannot offer you why your baby cannot make it just a bit longer with your expected day only days away, but I can offer you a bittersweet solution. Death works in mysterious ways and while there may be no cure, manipulation is the answer you seek in saving your unborn baby."
"So… so you can save our baby, then?" Emma cautiously asked. "Before you… you did some sort of magic to stop the bleeding, to take away the pain I was feeling. That means you saved our child. Right?"
"For every life, there is death. For every death, there is life. It's what balances the universe, keeps the circle of life from crumpling. There is no cheating death, no amount of prayers or magic that could challenge or alter that. However, child, magic is a curious, mysterious, and complex thing. Its power is something no human can truly ever understand. Even I know so little of what it is thoroughly capable of. It can do many things, but as you know, all magic comes with a price. Be careful because whatever you wish for now, you may dread later. It may not be what you intentionally bargained for."
"Se sèlman lanmò ka peye pou lavi." Tia breathed an old saying in her mother tongue, emphasizing each syllable slowly. "Only death may pay for life."
Swallowing hard around the burning lump stuck in his throat, he rasped out through clenched teeth, "Just what are you saying?"
"Exactly that. I did not stutter, did I?" She titled her head to the side. "Manipulation cheats death, but only to an extent. What I did merely prolonged the life of your child for less than a day more. Permanently saving your baby's life is where the choice slips from my hands and falls into yours."
"You said only death may pay for life. What do we have to do? Are you suggesting we bloody kill someone? That'll save our child?" Killian asked, his arm tightening around Emma's waist.
Tia shook her head sadly. "Do you have any idea how many lives are lost in a single moment? You blink and Death steals someone's life; you blink again and a life is brought into this world. Not just any life must be taken to ensure the birth of your child, but the life that shares the same blood as the dying."
While Tia's words slowly sink into Killian's brain, Emma's quick to react. She pulls herself away from his arms and backs away until her back hits against the nearest wall. She shakes her head frantically, her arms circling protectively around her belly. "No… no! That's… no, I won't make that decision."
He spun around to look at her with sad eyes, confusion spreading across his face. "Love, what are you…" His sentence trailed off with Tia's words replaying in his head, repeating over and over until finally it struck him. Hard. The realization of what needed to be done slammed into him with full force and in that moment, time seemed to have stopped. The pain and desperation on her panic-stricken face gutted him and he wasn't sure he'd be able to inhale another breath.
"You see what needs to be done, then." Tia spoke quietly.
Emma shook her head, refusing to listen to the woman any longer. There had to be another way. There was always another way. She felt the tears stream down her cheeks, falling helplessly to the floor. She stared at him as he fell into a dreadful silence, his gaze focused on the cracks in the floor. Sheer terror lanced through his veins as if it was shards of glass with the pain unbearable and numbing all at once.
"Killian," She whispered, "come on. Let's go home and we could -"
"There is nothing you could do back at your castle. Do you think you can find another way? You will only waste valuable time, I promise you that. There is no time for you to hurry to your fancy castle and seek out another way. Death has already won, dear child. How much and what it wins… that is up to you." Tia moved from behind her wooden desk to stand in the open doorway. "You walk out my door, do not turn back. By the time you return your baby will already be gone and I'd've nothing else to offer."
"Wait," Emma gasped, "you're saying we don't have any time? No time to think this over, to find another way, to say goodbye? We take your word and then what? Our baby will miraculously live and have their whole life ahead of them while… while Killian… while he… he -" A sob broke from her throat, cutting off her words.
Several moments passed by in a deafening silence. Not a word was dare spoken. Tia was just about to open her mouth when Killian finally cut the thick tension with a hard, strain voice, "Will this safe our child? You swear to us that this is no trickery, no false magic?"
"You have my word, Captain. This is no form of trickery, no false hope I give to you, no fictitious magic. I give you your only chance of saving your unborn child." She paused. "To save your son."
"Our… we're going to have a boy?" Despite himself, he broke out into a wide smile. A son. He and Emma were going to have a son.
"Indeed." Tia offered a warm, sad smile. "A little boy grows inside of you, Emma. Save him or Killian. The choice is yours. It is a torturous decision, though it is a decision that must be made."
"Emma," Killian breathed her name, taking a step toward her, "Emma, we both know what needs to be done. If I could save our child -"
"I can't – I won't – lose you, Killian. After everything we've been through, how hard we fought to get where we are now… How can you ask me to throw that all away?" She threw her hands helplessly in the air, allowing her arms to fall back against her sides.
"And how can you ask me to stand idly by and not take the opportunity of saving our son?" He shot back, his eyebrows drawn frustratedly together. "I've lived my life already. Doesn't our boy deserve that same chance?"
Tia remained silent, standing quietly in the corner of her cabin. She watched them carefully, already knowing what their final decision would be.
Emma wiped her tears away with the back of her hand, her head shaking furiously. She wouldn't look at him. "I lost so much in my life, Killian. I'm graced with something good for a short while before it's ripped away from me." She lifted her eyes to stare hotly at him. "Don't you dare ask me to give you up."
"Then you do not dare ask me to give up on our child." He whispered. He took a step toward the woman he had fallen helplessly in love with and took her hand in his. "I have done many horrible things in my life. I've killed more people than you could fairly imagine. I stole from the rich and from the homeless. Years of my life I dedicated in seeking revenge against the Dark One. I had years to live in order to become the man I am today."
Killian lifted his hook, using the smooth part of the metal to brush away a lonely tear that escaped her eye. "I've been plagued with numerous painful memories. I've faced so much loss and pain in my life where it came to the point where I never believed I'd find true happiness again." He squeezed her hand. "Until I met you. You made me realize revenge wasn't my happy ending. You made me realize I didn't have to be that ruthless villain anymore. You gave me so much, Emma. I've been selfish for far too long."
"Killian…" Her eyes searched his, her voice breaking off.
"Allow me to do this for you. Give me the chance to save our child as you've saved I." When she said nothing else, he bent his head, pressing a soft kiss to the top of her head. He closed his eyes, keeping his mouth pressed there to savor the moment.
Pulling away, he turned to face Tia. He pressed his lips in a firm line; fire blazing in the black pupil of his eye. "Tell me, witch. What do I do to save our unborn child?"
She turned her head to stare Emma straight in the eyes. She gave her a sharp nod and began to explain what needs to be done. "Take him to a place that is familiar. That is home. Share and savor your last moments together. When the moon falls and the sun rises, the deed must be done. The moon will indicate your demise while the sun will be the rebirth of what was lost – your child."
"Emma," Tia continued with a sadden look sparkling in her violet eyes, "you are to be the one to rip his heart from his chest. When the time comes, you will crush the heart to ensure the deal has been sealed of saving your baby. If you delay a mere second, all will be too late and Death will have taken its glorified price."
"Why… why do I have to be the one to kill him?" Emma nearly shouted. "Now you want me to be the one to kill him? No. No, I -"
"Your child is a product of true love, dear girl. Death will gladly take your boy so I recommend you do what must be done." Tia strolled over to the door, staring up at the dark sky. "Go home. You've just a few hours before sunrise."
"Thank you." Killian muttered sincerely. "In spite of what is to come, I owe you for helping our son. For giving him a fighting chance."
"You owe me not, Captain. I wish you the best of luck. The three of you. May Death take mercy on your soul." Tia lifted her arm and commanded, "Think of home and you shall be there." She waved her hand in a quick, circular movement and watched Killian and Emma disappear in a cloud of purple smoke.
When Killian slipped his eyelids open, he expected to be standing in the middle of his and Emma's room in the castle. He did not, however, expect to be standing on the deck of his beloved ship. The Jolly Roger.
Emma looked up at him, noticing the uncertainty in his eyes. She offered him a sad smile, her hand moving to caress his stubbled cheek. "She said for us to think of somewhere familiar. Think of home. The castle was a place where we stayed, but home is where the heart is." She glanced around, her gaze lingering on the swaying waves. "And I know the sea will always be your home. It's who you are."
"My home is where you are, Emma." He corrected her immediately, his arms tightening around her waist.
"Still," She rested her hands on his chest, her fingers toying with his necklace, "I know how much your ship means to you. Besides, this is where we started, right? You brought me onto your ship so you could help me rescue Henry. This is when I began to see the real you – the man behind the so called ruthless pirate."
"I'm sorry." He suddenly blurted out. When she parted her lips to say something, he shook his head. "I'm sorry it had to end this way. I'm sorry I have to go and leave you here in this world, raising two boys on your own. I… I wish -"
"Killian, stop." Emma pressed her finger to his lips, silencing him. She blinked her tears back and whispered, "I'm so sorry I couldn't save you."
He brushed a piece of golden hair behind her ear before bending down to press a gentle kiss to her soft, quivering lips. "None of this is your fault. I promised you before that everything will be alright – that you and our baby will be just fine and I meant that." He felt his throat tighten so he coughed, clearing it. "You, Henry, and our baby will live the rest of your lives and will be happy. You'll be just fine without me."
"I don't want to lose you." She bit down on the inside of her cheek, attempting to keep her emotions at bay. "How is it fair that both of my children have been stolen the chance to meet their fathers?"
"I don't know, love." He tilted his head back, gazing up at the full moon that rested above them, casting a glow over the endless ocean of blue. "I don't know. What I do know is that you will be a fantastic mother to our child although I am not present. Just as you are with Henry."
"Maybe…" She licked her lips, averting her eyes away from his face when he looked down at her with concerned, doubtful eyes. "Maybe we shouldn't just give up. Why should we? I'm sure there's something we could do to stop this. With all the magic I have and I'm sure my parents could help and maybe we could ask to strike a deal with Rump–"
"No!" He would not even consider that ridiculous idea. "Absolutely not, Emma. I'd rather happily die than make any sort of deals with that demon. No, I am ready to do this. Let me do this."
He rested his forehead against hers, his breath ghosting her lips. He closed his eyes, willing to the silent ticks of a clock to still. His hands tightened at the small of her back, pressing her body as close to his as possible considering her large belly. Her hands moved to the back of his neck, applying just the amount of pressure to have his lips meet hers.
"Make love to me, Killian." She mumbled between kisses. She looked into his crystal eyes and smiled sadly, "If I only have a few more hours with you… I want to show you just how much I love you."
Despite the complex situation they find themselves in, Killian pulls his lips back in a crooked grin and winks at her. "Well, who am I to deny the princess her request?"
It took mere seconds for Emma to shed her clothes, stepping out and revealing her naked body to him. As he went to slip off his jacket, her small hands stopped him. "Allow me." She whispered with a coy smile. Her fingers slowly pealed off his clothing, taking one bit of material off at a time. She wanted to move slow so this memory would always stay with her, up until the day she took her last breath.
He lowered Emma and himself to the ground, lying her carefully on his leather jacket. He kissed her passionately; his lips moving slowly against hers when he joined their heated bodies together. Their tongues performed a familiar dance, their breaths mingled, and they drowned out each other's moans.
Their hands and mouths explored every single inch of their bodies. He whispered soothing words in her ear as she held onto him for dear life, never desiring to let go of him. She never took her eyes off him and neither did he.
The soft moonlight streamed down onto them, their naked bodies illuminated by the glow as they made love on the deck of his ship. Although they both knew they had a few hours left, they pushed the dreadful thought aside and only focused on what was happening between them in that exact moment.
Nothing else matter. Only he, Emma, and their unborn child. Everything else… it could wait until the sun rose to matter. And if they were lucky, the sun would burn out and the time where one would have to die would never come.
Emma breathed out a heavy sigh, her eyes falling shut as the strong winds of the sea breezed against her face. The smell of sea salt filled her nostrils, overwhelming her senses. She tried to ignore the way the sun was beginning to peek just above the horizon, bringing forth a new day.
A new day that would end with the man she had deeply fallen for, the love of her life, dead.
Subconsciously, her hands fell to her round belly, rubbing soothing circles on her large bump where her baby slept inside. "It's going to be okay." She heard herself whisper. Slowly her eyes opened as she sucked in a deep breath. A single tear rolled down her cheek and she let it trickle down her chin. "It's going to be okay."
"Aye," Emma slightly jumped when she suddenly heard Killian speak up from behind her, "it will be." He wrapped his arms around her from behind, his hands resting above hers, caressing her stomach. He nuzzled her neck, pressing light kisses on the soft patch of skin.
"Killian," She breathed his name, trying her best to suppress a moan from spilling passed her lips, "Killian -"
"I know." He pressed his forehead against her shoulder, taking a moment to himself to close his eyes and catch his breath. Time was ticking by and it wouldn't bloody stop. Why couldn't it just stop? It was almost time.
Gingerly, she turned her body around so she could face him, wanting to have as much time possible to look him in his crystal eyes that held so much life in them before it would be brutally taken away. She shook her head, "I feel if I repeat that enough aloud it'll come true. I keep hoping that if I think everything is going to be okay, it somehow will." She placed her shaking hands flat on his chest as he continued to hold her tightly against his body. "But it won't."
"It will." He insisted, lifting his hand to brush away her tear with the pad of his thumb. "It won't seem like it at first, love, but you're strong. It may not be with me, still despite that, I know you'll find happiness again."
She opened her mouth to protest, but he pressed a gentle kiss to her lips, silencing her. It was short, sweet and it killed him to pull away after just a few seconds. "Listen," He mumbled, his lips brushing against hers as he spoke, "there's something that's been on my mind and I… I need to know before anything else occurs. The baby… our son -"
"I think he deserves a proper name. A worthy name." Killian raised an eyebrow, not entirely surprised to see how easily she read his mind. She had a thing of doing that often to him as he did with her. "I have the perfect name for him. How do you feel about the name… Liam?" Emma smiled softly at him as she watched the way his eyes lit up for the first time since they learned about their unborn child's fate.
"I… I cannot thank you enough." He couldn't stop the wide grin that seemed to remain plastered across his face and he couldn't help the warm feeling that swelled inside of him as he pictured his brother's smiling face. Please be proud of me, he heard a small voice in the back of his head whisper, hoping that short message would make it to wherever his deceased brother's soul remained.
The sun continued to rise as their time slowly began to run out of time. Death was coming and would not wait. Why couldn't they be happy? Why did they have to be the ones to lose their happy endings?
After all the loss, all the pain, all the loneliness he had felt for years… why couldn't he have the chance to be happy?
"Emma, I beg you to do this quickly. I… I think it'd be best for us both. Time is not on our side and our baby…" His gaze fell on her belly and he felt himself beginning to drown in sorrow. Guilt. Hatred. Envy. Pain… "Our baby needs us to be strong. So do it. Rip my heart out, love."
Closing her eyes and holding her breath, she pushed her hand inside his chest, grasping his heart from inside him in one quick, excruciating movement. She held back her sob, attempting to block out his painful cry that ripped from his throat. He doubled over, his entire body shaking as he inhaled and exhaled deeply.
He couldn't get used to the feeling of his heart no longer being inside of him. The flashes of Rumplestiltskin tearing out Milah's beating heart and crushing it into ashes plagued his mind briefly. He couldn't breathe.
"Killian," Emma cried, one hand flying to cup his cheek while the other held onto his heart, "Killian, you're okay. You're okay, do you hear me?"
He nodded his head slowly when he realized he wasn't ready to trust his voice to not betray him. He knelt in front of her, his hands moving to rub her fully round belly. A short while passed before she finally heard him speak again. "I love you, young lad." He closed his eyes, his voice thick with emotion. "Liam. I love you, Liam. I – I am so sorry I cannot be there for you. I'll miss your first steps, your first words, your first laugh, your first fall, your first sword fight, your first lass…"
He chuckled when he felt Emma slap his shoulder playfully. "Just know you'll have your mother and you'll have Henry, your big brother. You'll be just fine without me and… and I need you to know that although I may not be physically here, I'll be watching over you and your mother, got that?"
Slowly, after pressing a delicate kiss to her stomach, he stood so he was face to face with the woman who – literally – held his heart in her hands. He offered her a crooked smile, trying his best not to break down. She needed him to be strong. Hadn't cried yet, he mused.
Killian took her free hand in his and brought it to his lips, kissing each one of her knuckles. "You've changed me in more ways I could ever explain to you. And for that, I could never repay you. I… I don't wish to leave you. When we were wed, I had promised you forever – I promised you I would never leave you and I apologize that I'm now going back on my word."
"You're not going back on your word. Not at all." She shook her head furiously, tears brimming her eyes, "You never break your word. No, right now, you're making a sacrifice for our son. You're the bravest and most honorable man I have ever had the honor of falling in love with. I want more time with you, more than anything. I want to have a life with you. I… I don't want to lose you and I've not the faintest idea of what I'm going to do once you're… you're… Killian, you're going to be -"
He broke out into a wearily smile, "I'm going to see my brother again. Don't think of me dead. Think that I'll be reunited with my brother again."
Emma moved the hand that held his heart between them, cupping it in the palms of both her trembling hands. She bit down on her lip, her gaze shifting to stare him straight in the eyes. A heavy wind swirled around them, the crisp air sending chills down her spine.
How does one let go?
Taking a deep breath, he lifted his hand to her face, his thumb softly stroking her tear-stained cheek. He needed to say it one more time. He needed to kiss her one more time. He wanted to do so much with her one final time. "Emma, I - "
She couldn't find it in herself to hear him say those words one last time to her.
Without giving him the chance to finish his sentence, without sparing another single second, she applied pressure on his heart. His eyes widened, his breath catching in his throat. Her teeth dug into her bottom lip, surely drawing blood. She watched his first tear slowly roll down his cheek the moment she refused to hesitate as she crushed his heart, turning it into ashes.
Emma, I love you. You've no idea how much I love you…
Killian's eyes rolled to the back of his head as he fell forward, collapsing into her arms. A heart wrenching scream tore from her throat, echoing loudly across the seas for every Kingdom to hear. His heart's ashes was carried away by the winds, scattering partly on the deck of his beloved ship while the rest drifted away with the waves.
Ironic how it was his turn to draw his last breath in a loved one's arms.
"Come back!" She screeched. Her hands gripped his shoulders, shaking his lifeless form with all her might. Tears poured from her eyes, falling helplessly onto his face. "Killian, come back! C–Come back to me! What about our future together? What about Liam? What about me? Come back!"
Tell me you love me one more time.
"Killian…" She closed her eyes, dropping to rest her forehead against his stilled chest. She wrapped her arms around him the best she could as she sobbed into him. Hours upon hours passed as three moons came and went. None of that mattered to her, anyway. Her hold on him never faltered and it never would.
She would never let go.
The Jolly Roger rose and fell along with the waves of the ocean, following no particular destination at the given moment. A young boy helped steer the ship, just the way he was taught some time ago.
The sun was journeying South as it began to slip below the horizon, turning the sky a gorgeous blend of pinks and purples. The waves sparkled as the sun shined its last ray of light. The air was crisp while a soft breeze blew, carrying out the familiar scent of the ocean.
A woman stood, watching the way the waves danced around the ship, pulling them to an unknown place. She held a little baby who was wrapped in a powder blue blanket with the name Liam sewed into it. The baby boy slept peacefully in her arms as the mother hummed softly, lulling the baby right to sleep.
A small smile graced her lips as her excitement flowed throughout her body, causing goosebumps to sprawl across her skin. She couldn't wait to see where that place was because she knew without a doubt he was watching over her. He would take care of them even if he wasn't physically standing with them. He would take them where they needed to be.
"Take me home." She whispered, the wind carrying her voice to where it needed to be heard. She wasn't sure exactly where that was, but she knew he would, with that same crooked smile tugging at his lips, bring her and her two boys just there.
He would take her home.