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My Burden

Chapter Text

 

 

 

She’d never met someone quite like Killian Jones.

 

She’d been running an errand for Johanna down by the docks, collecting the herring she needed when she almost tripped over the man in question.

He’d been sitting on the edge of the pier, staring out onto the horizon when her legs almost collided with his back. She’d never met a man, much less a pirate, who could apologise so profusely for an accident that didn’t manage to happen.

His ears burned red and his eyes danced across the ground as he spoke to her, nervous hesitance in his speech. He intrigued her from the start, and a brave yet foolish move on her part had her asking him to carry the herring for her back to the inn where Johanna waited.

He was shy, introverted, polite; a complete gentleman in wolf’s clothing, so to speak. His garments were that of a fearsome pirate. All black and leather, harsh jewellery, kohl framing his eyes and a sharp, heavy hook braced on his left arm... but his manner was nowhere near the image he donned. Where other men would boast and brag or flaunt their egos before her, he remained reserved and unsure of himself. He was self deprecating; the meekest man she’d ever come across.

 

She couldn’t understand why people were weary of Killian Jones.

 

Johanna was the first to pull her aside when she entered the inn with the pirate.

“Don’t mix with the likes of him, Emma. He’s bad news, my dear. Trust me.”

But she ignored the woman’s warning and dragged the bumbling man to a table, sharing a bowl of fruit  with him and talking well into the evening twilight.

 

She found him quite often down by the dock, milling along the boardwalk where she’d greet him and make him blush before whisking him away to help her on her errands, or leading him around the village.

“So if your old crew abandoned you here, why haven’t you joined another crew?” she finally asked him as they sorted through a sack of potatoes.

He doesn’t answer, just simply shrugs and gives her a sweet smile before ducking his head and piercing a rotten spud to discard of. She’s rather glad that he doesn’t appear to be in a rush to leave.

 

It becomes apparent that merchant and pirate ships alike were less than reluctant to hire the poor man.

She assumed he wasn’t cut out for the seafaring life, thinking his mild, sensitive nature was deemed too weak for the rough living on board.

 

“If I were you, i’d stay far away from that one.” a burly knight had warned her while she waited for the shy pirate.

“I can take care of myself.” she informed him politely before moving away.

She knew they were only seeing his exterior. If they knew what really lie beneath the image they’d think twice before speaking. Killian was nothing like other men. He took interest when she spoke, he avoided confrontation, he didn’t even drink alcohol. He’d confessed rather embarrassed one evening when she’d poured them wine that he didn’t touch the stuff. He never gave an explanation, just a smile and a scratch of his ear. He was kind and patient; his heart was pure.

She spotted him exiting the next alley over, and when he stuttered that he’d bought her something and produced a wonderful bouquet from behind his back, her heart skipped a beat.

 

She felt his nervousness as they watched the sunset from atop the cliffside one evening. He sat stiff beside her, terrified to move as her hand lay upon his chest. For a man so well travelled, he was incredibly green to many of life’s experiences. For such a beautiful man, she wondered just how it were possible. His face was striking; piercing baby blue eyes with features that were a perfect mix of boyish and rugged. His body was lean but firm, built strong with hard labour. She wondered how he could be so skittish of a woman’s touch when he had amples of attraction in body and soul just oozing from him organically.

She saw his breathing speed up and his cheeks grow crimson as she leaned forward to kiss him finally. The moment their lips met she knew she had fallen for him, and the way he breathed her name like a prayer to the gods, she knew he’d fallen just as hard.

 

No, she could never understand why everyone warned her away from Killian.

She couldn’t… until now.

Until him.

 

She’d felt a sense of uneasiness the moment she’d entered her cottage. She pushed down every fibre in her body telling her to run, and shook off the feeling of being watched as she lit the lantern by her bedside. She knew she was being foolish, but she couldn’t stop the anxiety building inside that something wasn’t right.

She seated herself at her dressing table and began to untie her braid, hoping the motion of brushing her hair would calm her state of panic.

She distracted her mind while she brushed, thinking of her chores for the next day. She had to restock the pantry at the inn so a visit to Mrs crawford’s farm was needed. Her plans to ask Mr Dwyght to employ killian-

“So you’re her.”

The voice had her jumping up in terror, dropping the brush and spinning to face the intruder.

What she saw made her blood turn to ice.

It was Killian.

But there was something wrong. Very wrong. This man stood confident, dangerous, his eyes were cold and menacing, and his smile was the epitome of sinister. His clothes were of a similar fashion but worn with every intention of striking fear.

It was Killian… but it wasn’t her Killian.

This was a demon.

“Who are you?” she demanded, hand grasping behind her for a weapon.

“I could feel him growing close to someone… starting to care… falling in love.” the man continued, ignoring her question as he moved across the room, taking in the bare walls. “I had to come and see for myself, just who possessed the power to make him fall under their spell.”

His light eyes finally landed on hers, sending a bolt of electricity up her spine.

“I must say, you are certainly beautiful.” He began to move closer as Emma’s heart began to pound. “You’re brave too. I can see why I would be taken with such a woman as you.”

“You’re not Killian.” She spat.

The man chuckled, surprising her as he smiled fondly.

“Oh, my dear Emma. He’s he not told you?”

His voice was softer, seductive. Emma felt the unwanted pull of attraction to this monster, however much she despised it.

She found a surge of strength and stood firmer, staring the man in the eyes and refusing to cower away as he stopped right in front of her. His breath was warm against her face but she refused to back down, not wanting him to have the satisfaction of knowing he was unnerving her.

“That’s where you’re wrong, love.” he whispered, thumb coming up to caress her cheek. “I am Killian. And now, you’ll get to learn who I truly am.”

She flinched as his lips touched her corner of her mouth before a red cloud of smoke engulfed him and he disappeared.

Emma sank into the chair behind her. Shock overtook her as she tried to comprehend just what had happened. She had so many questions swarming around in her head it made her dizzy. Who was that? Why were they here? What had she gotten involved in?

And just who was Killian Jones?




 

 

 

 

It tears at her the way his whole being lights up when he sees her. Slumped shoulders straighten, eyes beam with joy; but she needs answers from him.

She needs the truth.

He must sense her upset because his face falls and he rocks from foot to foot, watching her with concern.

“Are you alright, Emma?”

“I don’t know. We need to talk.”

His dread is visible as his uncertainty takes over.

She begins to lead him back to her cottage in silence, feeling him follow willingly behind.

He dithers in the doorway, nervous mostly because he’s never been here before.

“Have I done something wrong?”

She hates how vulnerable he is, wishing she could reassure him in that moment. But not until she knows what’s going on.

She gestures to the two chairs by the stove in the corner of her cottage, signaling him to sit.

There’s a tense silence which is only filled by the ticking of a clock as she prepares herself to speak.

“I was visited by someone last night.” she begins, watching his every reaction. “He said he was you.”

“Me? Emma, i’ve… i’ve never been here before.”

She can tell his confusion is genuine. Can feel it in her bones… be she also knows deep down there was something about her encounter that he’s not telling her.

“I know. But I also know the man who came here last night wasn’t lying. Killian, he looked and sounded just like you. I don’t know how, but he was you… only… he had darkness in him.”

That word changed him with a heartbeat.

She saw terror strike him as he came to a realisation. His face told her everything he was thinking and feeling in that moment… and it wasn’t good.

“No.. no, no- Emma, we have to go.”

“What? No, what is going on?”

“Please, Emma- we can leave port or go to another village but we need to get away-”

“Killian, stop!”

Her raised voice paused his frantic begging. He was frightening her. She’d never seen him so petrified and she wanted to understand why. She gripped his forearms and sat him back down, bringing his gaze to hers.

“Killian, I need you to tell me what is going on. The truth. Who is he?”

Killian gulped and braced himself, scooping together all the courage he had to speak honestly.

“He’s a part of me. And not the good part. But it is true.. we are one of the same.”

 

He begins his tale with the story of a slave boy. Sold by his father with his older brother Liam, they were traded from ship to ship to work off a debt they never asked for. The boy tried his hardest to be good, honest and true, but he always struggled with a darkness inside. His brother protected him, helped him, kept him from giving in, and when they finally worked their way to freedom and made a name for themselves in the royal navy, that brother was cruelly taken by forces much greater than them.

It was then that the darkness crept in and took over the young man’s grief. He became angry and out of control, turning to piracy in his rebellion. The constant battle between right and wrong raged within, making him an unpredictable and formidable scourge of the seas.

He then tells her of the Dark One. The most powerful wielder of dark magic in all the realms. He tells of how his path crossed that of the demon’s, leading to a tragic and unfortunate encounter. He loses his hand but escapes with his life, something the darkness inside does not abide. He blames his soft side, swears vengeance on the demon that took his hand, and convinces himself he will not succeed while he holds this weakness inside.

She’d heard stories of a magical serum that could split a person in half. Sh gathers he used a similar practice in his story. The revenge fuelled pirate finds a way to separate himself in two. All his weaker qualities are banished to another entity. Remorse, guilt, fear, kindness, honour. The man then stands as two; one shy, quiet, a coward. The other brave, reckless, angry.

He leaves his weaker half defenseless, fleeing to pursue his mission of revenge, neither caring if his other half lives or dies, believing himself finally free to do what he must.

 

“I found that he’d succeeded in defeating the Dark One some years later.” he continues, staring into the flames that have not long been burning in the stove. “I’d upset my captain during a voyage and was sure to be finished off for my mistakes. But the blade of his cutlass slid through me like butter yet not a single drop of blood spilled. That was nearly two hundred years ago.”

He gives a tiny chuckle at her gasp. Emma’s overwhelmed with mixed emotions yet she sits and listens intently, determined to hear him out.

“I’ve spotted him once or twice but never approached. He’s never sought me out either. You see, as long as he’s the Dark One, neither one of us can die. I think that’s what he regrets the most. The fact he’ll never truly be free of me.”

“That’s why no one would employ you. Why no one would consider you. They know who you are.”

It hurts her to see him suffer. Her outburst makes his head hang in shame, hurt evident on his face. She doesn’t mean to hurt him but her acknowledgement of the truth has him shrinking away defeated all the same.

Her hand reaches for his knee as a form of comfort as her words die in her throat, unsure of what to say. It sparks something within him; that small touch sends his heart racing and brings his head up to meet her eyes. Somewhere, deep down, the timid man finds a strength he never knew he had.

“I love you, Emma." he pleads, voice shaking. "I love you and I can't bear the thought of losing you, please. Please come away with me. Somewhere he can't find us-"

"Killian, if he's a part of you he will find you. No good will come of running away."

Her dose of reality sinks his spirit yet again.

“I don't want him to hurt you, Emma. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if you came to harm."

His words resonate with something inside. Something that only just clicks as she thinks back to her encounter with the dark one.

“I don't think he wants to hurt me. In fact, I know he doesn't."

"How can you be so sure?"

“Killian, he’s you. I know in my heart he means me no harm.”

“Then what does he want?”

His question remains unanswered as she leans forward to embrace him. He gladly accepts and holds her close, savouring the feel of being in her arms. She knows she should have said those three words back, but something deep inside stopped her. She can’t, not yet. She also knows that somehow, she’s aware of why his darker side has come back.

She knows what he wants.

 

They stay embraced for a time, reassuring each other that it will be okay. When she bids him goodnight, it’s with a kiss and a promise of more; a future together.

She waits until she’s sure he’s a safe distance away before she locks her door and pulls her curtains. The stove remains lit, filling the cottage with warmth, and she takes her time lighting the lamps to illuminate the room, giving herself time to truly think over what she’s about to do. There’s no time for self doubt, she can feel deep inside she has to do this.  

With a deep breath she closes her eyes and firmly speaks the five words she’s never been so unsure of.

“Dark One, I summon thee.”

 

Chapter Text

 

“Dark One I summon thee.”



“You know…” the voice startled her, causing her to spin. “You didn’t have to say it aloud.” he informed from the chair he reclined in. “I could feel you calling for me… all the way from the other side of the kingdom.”

Emma took in his relaxed presence. Her heart hammered at his abrupt arrival, unsure of her herself now he was actually there. He smiled at her unease and seemed to relish in her observation of him.

“Why are you here?”

He chuckled at her outburst, slowly rising from his seat.

“You summoned me, love.”

“No. Why are you here? In this kingdom? Why now?” she demanded.

“I thought i’d been clear on our last meeting.” His voice was tender, softer than it had been before. His hand ghosted over her hair and tucked a strand behind her ear, brushing her cheek as he let it drop. “I want to know you, love. I want you to know me.”

His closeness overwhelmed her. She could feel power radiating off him and it made her skin hum.

“I know I’ve been on your mind, Emma.The same way you’ve been on mine.”

Her eyes fluttered shut as he came nearer. He’d been right. She hadn’t been able to get him out of her head and she couldn’t grasp why.

“I could feel your warmth, your happiness, your radiance, it sung to me and I’ve been captured by you. You feel it, don’t you? The pull between us.”

His hot breath caressed her cheek as he chuckled to himself. “That fool finally did something right for once in his sorry life. He brought you to me.”

Emma’s eyes flew open and she stepped back, abruptly breaking the trance he held over her.

“You leave Killian the hell alone. You’ve hurt him enough.”

His amusement was back.

“Tell me something, love. Why do you insist on defending him?”

“I care for him.”

“He can’t give you what I can. Luxury, riches, worship. You’d never have to fight and scrape another day in your life. You’d live like a queen.”

“If you think that’s what matters to me you’re wasting your breath.”

“He doesn’t deserve you.”

“He’s a good man.”

“He’s a coward.” he sneered.

“And yet he’s the one I want to be with.”

His face fell at her words and Emma’s breath hitched. Their eyes stayed connected as the silence thickened around them. She worried she’d pushed the Dark One too far, but she didn’t regret her words.

The coldness she’d first seen in those icy blue eyes returned.

“I’ll be seeing you soon, Emma.”

With a wave of his hand he was engulfed in smoke and gone.

Emma could finally breathe again.

She replayed the encounter over and over as she tried to sleep. She knew she was taking a huge risk summoning him but she needed answers, and it was only when she was just about to drift off into a fitful sleep that something occurred to her.

His mask had slipped for the briefest moment and she’d noticed the look in his eyes, right before he’d disappeared.

It was the same look she’d seen all too often in her Killian’s eyes.

The look of longing.

 


 

 

The fortnight had been a strange one. Mr Dwyght had reluctantly decided to give Killian a chance, and the ex-deckhand was overjoyed to be working once again. He was happier, lugging heavy sacks of flour and grain from mills to carts to barns- his strength and stamina had surprised them all, especially Mr Dwyght, unaware of Killian’s past as a child slave. It was work he knew well.

Although Killian was happier, Emma could see a deeper anxiety that he was hiding. His smile may be brighter, his step more confident, his affections bolder… but there was something in him that he was afraid of and Emma could tell.

He made a habit of surprising her with flowers or delicacies from the market; fruit tarts, honey, silk woven bracelets, hair pins- anything his coin could buy. She loved them all but didn’t want for him to waste his hard earned money on her.

‘But i’ve no one else to spend it on.’

‘How about something you want?’

‘That’s what i’ve been doing. I want to buy you things.’

His reply would be paired with a shy smile, leaving her heart feeling full and loved.

They never spoke of his darker half, but Emma knew he was still there. When her and Killian would take a picnic to the sea front, or spend evenings lazing in a meadow, a sense of unease would wash over her. She’d get the feeling as if they were being watched.

She knew it was him.

It became even clearer when she started receiving a second set of gifts.

Bouquets were left in her cottage; otherworldly arrangements of bright petals and mystical blossoms. Finely woven scarves and sheets, jewelled hair brushes, exquisite chocolates and rare fruits overflowed in baskets- all of these treasures were left amongst her home.

Emma refused to accept them. She’d place them in a crate and stash them outside her home without haste, informing the sky that she could not be bought with such materials.

One evening he’d shown himself, shrouded in the darkness of the town’s alley.

‘I wanted to make sure you were alright. See you soon, love.’ he’d offered before kissing her cheek and disappearing.

Then the cottage began to mysteriously mend itself.

Her patch of herbs out front grew miraculously overnight; sage, mint, basil and lavender filled the patch of land.

She refused to use them.

The cracks in the wall near her dresser disappeared and the laundry tub was replaced with a new stronger steel tub.

She’d come home on occasion to a perfectly lit fire and the scent of fresh bread, and roast lamb and vegetables from the stove with no one in sight.

It made her angry. She didn’t need his tricks nor did she want his dark magic fixing her life.



 

 

Emma knew the moment Killian knocked on her door that he’d had a trying day. His smile wasn’t as wide and his face was drawn and tired yet he was still there with two bottles of fresh lemonade in a basket to gift her. She ushered him in, sat him down by the fireside and brought  a hot mug of tea.

She gave him time to settle, ran her hands through his hair beside him, hoping to ease some of the sorrow he was wearing.

“I found a house.” he began quiety. “ Rather run down, but it was nestled away in the patch of woods between the harbour and the tavern. I was hoping to save enough silver to purchase it but…”

“But what?”

“It appears the short storm we had last night destroyed it. I’ve tried salvaging the place all day but it’s a lost cause.”

“I don’t understand, aren’t you happy in your room at the boathouse?”

“Aye, I am…” he trailed off as he fiddled with his hook.

She cupped his cheek, urging him to look at her.

“Killian, talk to me.”

His hesitance worried her. She knew he was holding something back and he was well aware that he could tell her anything.

“It was the promise that it held. I wanted to build it up, make it into something… somewhere we could both call home someday.”

Her breath hitched at his confession, understanding exactly what he meant. He was planning and building towards their future.

He wanted a life with her.

A home.

It was real.

It was in that moment that she knew without a doubt that she was completely and utterly in love with him.

“Emma, I know he’s been here.” His hesitant words were like a bucket of ice on her but she let him continue. “I know we haven’t spoken about it, but I know he’s still here. Whether he’s unaware that his barriers have slipped, or he’s doing it purposely to taunt me… but I can feel how he feels towards you. I know he’s been vying for your affections- that house was a sign. It was my hopes; a symbol that I wouldn’t run this time. That we had something worth fighting for. But seeing it today… Emma, I love you more than I’ve loved anything in my life, but now I can’t help feeling like i’m about to lose you too.”

Emma let her instinct take over. Overwhelmed by him, she couldn’t find the words to express what she was feeling, so she let her body show him.

She rose from her seated position, straddled his thighs and cradled the back of his head in her hands, slowly pulling him into a deep kiss. He was shocked by the new level of intimacy but soon reciprocated. Both let their bodies express what their words couldn’t.

Emma pulled back and made sure he was looking her in the eyes.

“Killian, I love you. And I choose you.”

“You do?” he was completely in awe as he asked, unable to believe his ears.

“I won’t lie to you, Killian. There’s a pull I feel towards him, because he’s still a part of you no matter how different you may be. But no amount of fancy tricks or dark magic could ever take me away. You’re all I want.”

His head lowered slightly.

“I’d understand if I wasn’t, Emma. I know I don’t have much to offer, and i’m honestly shocked every day that you’re with me. I know I don’t deserve-”

“Stop it.” she demanded. “Have I ever given you any indication that I want anything more than what we already have? I just want you, Killian. You make me happy. And that life worth fighting for? We can have that right now.”

“What are you saying?” his confusion steered her determination.

“Move in with me. Here. This could be ours.”

His eyes bore into hers, face frozen at her request.

“Emma… I’d love nothing more- are you certain that’s what you would want?”

“Yes!” she laughed. “Why fight for a future when we can just start it right now?”

Their foreheads rested against each other as they soaked in the happiness they were feeling.

“Will you stay?” she whispered.

“It would be an honour.”

His lips found hers first and they succumbed to their desires. They held each other tightly, slowly exploring more of each other as their passion grew.

When Emma lead him to her bedroom she knew there was no going back. It would be theirs from now on. Their bed, their home, their love, their happiness, sealed with the intimacy they gave and the bond they would share. His nervousness trumped hers but it didn’t stop the fire that had been set ablaze between them.

When Emma woke the next morning to warm arms wrapped around her and a messy head of hair sharing her pillow, she knew this was exactly what she wanted to wake up to every morning for the rest of her life.  




 

 

It had taken three days of bliss before the world came crashing down. Just a mere three days of shy morning kisses, walking together hand in hand over the threshold of their home, and holding each other as they welcomed sleep.

Only three days of bliss they’d been granted.

She’d been dusting off the mats to the tavern around the back of the building when Killian barrelled through the foliage, out of breath and in a state of panic.

“Emma, we have to go.”

“Wait- what? What’s going on?!”

“The mill.” he panted. “I arrived to find it almost burnt to ash. The townsfolk are calling my name, calling for my head- Emma, it was Hook. He did this. It’s no longer safe- we have to leave-”

“And go where?! He’ll find us no matter where we go. We shouldn’t have to run!”

Her anger consumed her.

“Emma, please. You know that no harm can come to me, but it can to you. It’s not safe for you anymore. I will take whatever punishment they seem fit if it means keeping you safe. But you need to go. Please, i’m begging you.”

“Killian, i’m not going to let you suffer for something you haven’t done. We’ll go together if that’s what you truly want.”

The sounds of distant shouts could be heard as the reality of the situation sank in.

Killian surged forward and cupped her face.

“There’s a land without magic. A land where he would not be able to follow. We could start again-”

“But how would we get there?”

“I have a bean. I’ve held onto it for many years, just in case I needed to escape-”

“Then get the bean and meet me back at home. I’ll pack us some supplies. But hurry.” she ordered as the shouts in the distance became louder.

“Emma i’m so so sorry.” he pleaded, guilt and fear etched on his face.

“Don’t. This is not your fault.” she insisted. “Just get that bean and be careful.”

She watched him disappear back through the bramble before she turned and fled towards their home.

 

Emma tore into the cottage and began to grab at items. She pulled a sack from the bottom of her wardrobe and began to fill it with clothes and blankets. She opened a cloth and filled it with breads and dried meats from the pantry and wrapped it into a parcel. She gathered their small chest of coins they’d saved and pulled out the loose floorboard that held two daggers she’d kept for safety. Every moment she packed she was wishing the door would open, that Killian would walk in with the bean, safe and sound. She was worried and every moment she wasn’t finding something to do to prepare for their departure, was making her panic all the more.

“You’re making a mistake.”

She turned to the voice and felt her fear turn to blind rage. She surged forward and slapped the Dark One across the cheek.

“You couldn’t leave us alone, could you? You had to destroy what we’ve built- we were happy!”

“You will never be happy with him.” Hook growled.

“We are! We were until you came along!”

“I was showing you the real Killian! He’ll never be able to protect you. He’d never be able to provide for you, no truly. This is what your life will be. Forever running and hiding because of his cowardice!”

“And being with you would be better? People cowering and running from me instead? You’re out of your mind!”

His cold stare relaxed into a face much similar to Killian’s. Softer and earnest.

One she’d grown to love.

“Come with me. I could show you a life you’ve never dreamed of- you would be happy I promise-”

“Stop it!” she demanded, pushing him back. “Enough. Killian and I are going far away. Somewhere where you can’t follow. So just stop. I’ve made my choice and you’re not it!”

She watched the hurt that broke through Hook’s facade transform into pure rage.

“Why him?! Why does he get to be happy?!”

And suddenly everything made sense.

The look of longing.

The following.

The connection between the two-

“You’re empty.”

Hook froze at her words yet Emma continued.

“When you split yourself, you banished all the elements you considered weak… but they were what made you feel. They made you human.”

The only sign that he was still listening was the clench in his jaw.

“That’s why you came here. All the power and anger in the world is at your fingertips- you could have anything you want but the one thing you yearn for you threw away, isn’t it? You don’t want to destroy Killian’s happiness. You want him back.”

“I want nothing from him!” Hook spat.

His voice was feral but Emma could see her words were true. She’d struck a nerve within him. Whatever was left of Killian Jones in the Dark One, it was wanting his other half back.

Emma’s anger dissipated as she tried to reach out to the man before her.

“It’s why you opened the connection between you. You were missing that part of you. You felt incomplete-”

“I did it to be close to you, Emma. I want you.”

“But you can’t have me, Hook. I’m not yours to have.”

 

“Get away from her!”

Both turned to see Killian in the doorway branding a sword. It trembled in his hand yet he pointed it towards his other half, hook raised high behind him.

She could feel a thick tension swell within the room as Hook turned to face Killian.

“You finally decided to grow a backbone. It’s about bloody time.” he mocked.

“Haven’t you done enough? There’s nothing for you here. Just leave us be.”

Hook surged forward with fury, forcing Killian to step back.

“You don’t dare tell me orders, coward.”

“You got your revenge.” Killian pleaded. “You got all the power, why bother with me? Why must you ruin everything good that I build-”

“Oh, I ruin everything?” Hook chuckled. “You don’t need me to ruin anything, you do that quite well all on your own. Have you forgotten how it was your weak, whimpering fear that lead to Liam’s demise?”

“That’s not true.”

“Isn’t it? We could have saved him if you’d have been brave enough to refuse that mission.”

“It was your selfish actions that had us employed on that mission in the first place!”

Emma watched the confrontation. She didn’t dare intervene. She knew this was something that needed to happen. It had built up for too long.

Centuries of pent up history were about to clash and she perished the thought of being caught in the crossfire.

“I was standing up for your useless hide just like I always did. You’d have been dead long ago if it wasn’t for me.”

“And yet it was always me and Liam left to pick up the pieces of your recklessness and take the lashings. Just like we always did.”

“Don’t speak of him as if you were equals.” Hook snarled. “He did nothing but carry you.”

“And he was ashamed of you.” Killian bit back.

Silence filled the space. Two sets of blue eyes glared into each other.

“You will never have to see us again… just let us go-”

“No.” Emma spoke up, reminding them of her presence finally.

She stood next to Killian in support and turned to Hook. “We shouldn’t have to run. Because whatever terror you rain down on us, wherever you run us out of, we’ll still be together no matter what. So you can let us stay here and let us be happy… or we go to the land without magic where you can never follow, and lose us completely.”

Hook remained silent, stock still in his place as he absorbed Emma’s ultimatum.

“Hook… if you truly cared for me… you’d let me be happy… with Killian.”

They stood anxiously as they waited to see what the Dark One would do.

Neither was prepared to see his eyes gloss over.

Nor were they prepared for the single tear that slipped down his cheek.

A swish of his hand and a similar cloud of red smoke engulfed him.

And he was gone.

 


 

 

SIX MONTHS LATER

 

Emma hiked up the hillside to the cliff that waited above. The sun would soon be setting and Killian had insisted she meet him here to watch it.

Things had changed rapidly after the disappearance of Hook. They’d fully prepared to flee the village when the most unusual thing had happened. Mr Dwyght himself had appeared on their doorstep, curious as to why Killian hadn’t showed up for work. The mill was standing as it had always been as if the fire had never happened. The Dark One had restored it and wiped the memory of his vicious attack from the townspeople’s minds.

They’d been on edge for the longest time, wondering if it was part of some plan, keeping the bean close by yet out of sight just in case. When Killian confessed that the link between him and his other half had been cut off, and when Emma realised that she no longer felt a pull towards him either, they finally unpacked their bag of supplies.

Neither knew why the Dark One had done it, but they’d given up wondering if he’d ever return.

They had a wonderful life, just the two of them. For the first time in both of their lives they could say that they were truly happy.

Killian had slowly become more welcomed into the village. They’d purchased a small rowing boat that they often took out on weekends just off shore. They’d made their cottage their castle, filling the garden with vegetables and herbs, made curtains and bedding out of materials they’d woven together, building their own little slice of paradise.

And they still spent time stargazing in the meadow on clear nights.

What surprised Emma was the request to meet at the cliffside.

They hadn’t been here for a while.

She saw him at the top waiting nervously for her to arrive. He’d spread out a wonderful feast on a blanket with lanterns and chilled apple cider.

“This is beautiful. What’s the occasion?” she asked after greeting him with a kiss.

“Do you remember the first time you brought me here? We shared our first kiss.”

Emma smiled at his bashfulness. She loved that he still treasured that first kiss as if it had happened only hours ago.

“I do. Fondly.”

“That was the night I knew. I loved you with all of my being.”

“Killian… what’s wrong? You’re more nervous than usual- did something happen?”

He chuckled, blushing at her concern.

“No, I assure you, everything is fine.” He fiddled with his hook. “Emma, I wanted to ask you something.”

“You can ask me anything.”

He felt reassured as he nodded and took a step back to take a moment to gather his courage. Emma let him have a moment, realising that whatever he wanted to ask her was important to him.

“Emma, when I first met you, i’d been hollow for so long. And you ignited a light within me that I never ever thought possible. The day I met you was the day I began to live again… and these past eight months have been the best months of my life.”

 

Emma was too stunned by his words to recognise the familiar red smoke appear behind him.

She didn’t have time to warn him.

She stood frozen as the Dark One wrapped his hook around Killian’s neck.

She watched in horror as two sets of identical blue eyes stared into hers.

She was helpless, unable to move as Killian’s terrified face whispered he was sorry.

Hook held Killian’s back against his chest as he spoke into the man’s ear.

“It’s time.”

His arm raised and plunged down into Killian’s chest.

Two screams tore through the night as Emma cried for her love, and her love cried in pain. A piercing light illuminated both men, blinding Emma to what was happening. Seconds felt like hours and with one last flash, the light was gone and silence one again filled the cliff.

She turned to see him curled up into a ball on the floor, face hidden.

“Killian!”

Emma raced forward to check he wasn’t hurt. The fear and panic in her was unbearable, not knowing just what the Dark One had done to him.

“I’m alright, love.”

She froze at those words as dread turned her blood to ice.

“Hook. What did you do?! Where’s Killian-”

“I’m here.” he said, finally raising his head to look at her. “We both are.”

“What.. I don’t..”

She helped him stand, unable to comprehend what he meant.

“I’m me again. Emma… i’m…”

“You’re one.” She finished, finally understanding.

“Aye.” He smiled and in that moment Emma knew Killian was still there.

She surged forward and wrapped her arms tight around him, not wanting to let him go. He held her just as fiercely as he buried his head in her neck.

“Emma, there’s something you need to know.” he pulled back and reached into his coat pocket, feeling the weight of the object inside. He pulled out a curved dagger to show her. “I may be one again, but… Emma, i’m still the Dark One.”

She sobered at his words, reading his name carved into the blade. Killian held the weapon out and offered it to her.

“Take it. It’s the only thing that can control me-”

“Killian, I won’t control you-”

“Emma, i’ve done terrible things. I don’t want to ever again. Please. You already have my heart, there’s no one else i’d trust but you.”

She cupped her hand around his holding the dagger.

“You were about to ask me something.” she pried.

“Love…” he faltered, unsure of himself. “Considering the circumstances, it might be best-”

“Killian, do you want to get rid of the darkness?”

“More than anything. But Emma- the only way is to kill me and transport it to someone else and I refuse to place that burden on another living soul.”

“Then we go where it can’t follow.”

Her offer astounded him. Not a single falter was in her words and it overwhelmed him.

“But our life here.. Our home-”

“You’re my home. We’re in this together, remember?”

“But you shouldn’t have to give up everything-”

“Would you do it for me?”

“In a heartbeat, love.”

“Then we go. Now ask me your question, Killian jones.”

Her coy smile radiated confidence and Killian knew in that moment their happy ending would finally begin.

“Emma... will you marry me?”

She held his face and brought his forehead down to hers.

“Yes.”

 




STORYBROOKE, MAINE

 

Emma opened the apartment door to find a beaming brunette standing on the other side, holding out a dish full of strange food.

“Hi! Welcome! You’re from the Enchanted forest, right?”

Emma gaped at the woman’s questions, unsure of how to answer.

“Don’t worry, this town? Storybrooke? We’re all from the Enchanted Forest.”

“You are?”

“Sure! Can I come in?”

Emma let the woman in, following her into the kitchen, still dumbstruck by what was happening.

“I’m Mary Margaret. But back in the Enchanted Forest I was Snow White. Storybrooke is like a settling in place to get us accustomed to this land. Some leave and explore the rest of this world but most of us stay. We’re happy here.”

“I’m Emma.” She wanted to kick herself at how stupid she must appear, but the woman gave her another shining smile that she was sure could could sprout rainbows.

“Nice to meet you, Emma. Did you travel here alone?”

“No.” Emma smiled. “Me and my husband, Killian.”

“That’s great! My husband David and I live just next door so if you ever need anything…”

“Thank you, Mary Margaret.”

Emma felt the rush of a new beginning at her fingertips.

It had taken a few days for both of them to adjust to the strange new land with fascinating inventions like instant hot water, invisible heating and lighting with no flames, but the adjustment had been a positive one.

They were going to be happy here, she could feel it.

Mary Margaret turned to the kitchen counter to remove the lid off the tub holding the food.

“I made a little ‘welcome to the neighbourhood’ dish for you to try. Have you ever had tacos?”

Emma couldn’t help the confused look she held.

“Tacos?”

 

And thus the start of life in the land without magic began.