There is a thing that Ingrid used to do, when they sat on the couch way too late at night, watching stupid movies on tv. She’d play with Emma’s hair, finger digging into her messy curls and slowly, patiently, comb through them until Emma’s hair was soft to the touch and she felt loved and appreciated and beautiful.
Emma lets Ingrid do it tonight, her head on Ingrid’s lap as they all relax in Emma’s (old) quarters in the castle. After waking her parents from a curse and telling them everything that’s happened since they left almost a week ago, (Fuck, has it really only been a week since Emma was married, her life turned upside-down? It feels like she’s lived a whole lifetime or two in these eight days.) (And, okay, she didn’t tell her parents everything, like how she and Killian haven’t had sex yet but they’ve spent three of the last five nights falling asleep in each other’s arms. She and her husband (??!??!) aren’t even talking about that) Emma is just plain exhausted.
So she’s laying down on a couch, letting Ingrid play with her hair.
“Do you guys really have to go back tomorrow?” Emma whines a little, giving Elsa her best puppy-dog eyes.
“Yes, some of us are current queens and can’t shirk our duties.” Elsa gives her a severe look that completely loses its power when she sticks out her tongue and crosses her eyes.
“Uh, please don’t use the Q word around me, I don’t know if I’m ready for that responsibility yet.”
“Nonsense.” Ingrid’s fingers patiently work their way through a snag. “You were spectacular this week. You’ve been amazing ever since we came into this world, but especially since you agreed to be married.”
Emma closes her eyes and hopes the subject doesn’t go where she thinks it's going to go.
“Are you ever going to tell my brother how much you care for him?”
Through her squint, Emma can make out Elsa’s queenly gaze and Emma sighs, opening her eyes all the way and rolling them in the back of her head. “I’ve told you enough in the last few days, Elsa, that I really don’t feel like embarrassing myself in front of him.”
“He is your husband,” Ingrid interjects, using her foster mom voice. “I fail to see how having feelings for him is embarrassing.”
Emma sits up and brushes Ingrid’s hands away from her hair, suddenly annoyed with the world. She grabs a pillow and holds it to her chest, eyes trained on the floor and away from curious looks as she tries to formulate the right words.
“Its embarrassing,” she finally mutters, still looking at a fancy rug, “because he doesn’t like me back. I keep waiting for him to make a move.”
“Make a-?” Elsa’s question hangs in the air and Ingrid answers it quietly.
“Initiate physical contact, dear.”
Emma nods and lets her head fall back on the cushion with a sigh. “If he liked me - really liked me - as more than just a friend or a person to rule Misthaven with, then wouldn’t he say something or kiss me or grab my ass or something?”
Ingrid places a hand on Emma’s knee. “Men don’t behave like that in this world, Emma. Not men raised at court.”
She looks at her adoptive mother finally, wiping away an annoying tear. “So what do men raised at court do when they have the hots for someone?”
Elsa giggles and her face goes a little pink. “If he is anything like his brother - which he is - then he dances with you for hours at a ball and writes you long, romantic letters.”
“I got zero for two on that one,” Emma chuckles back, bitterly.
Ingrid leans toward her and draws Emma’s head to her shoulder, fingers combing through her hair again and the movement is so soothing that Emma can feel herself relax instantly. “Oh honey,” Ingrid whispers, “sometimes love grows so gently and softly that we do not recognize it until it has bloomed. Not everyone is meant for love at first sight like your parents.”
Thankfully, the two women change the topic, and eventually Emma falls asleep with gentle fingers making all of her knots into smooth lines.
It's different than with Ingrid, but it's no better or worse.
“Do you feel any different, being married?” Mom’s tone is nonchalant but Emma knows her well enough by now to figure that she has an agenda that she’ll be working towards. Emma errs on the side of mystery.
“How so?” Mom’s fingers encounter a particularly gruesome knot and Emma winces at the resulting tug.
“Like, I don’t know. Killian’s a nice guy. I don’t really know him very well, but I think Killian’s the kind of guy I’d like to get to know better.”
“The kind of guy you could love?”
Snow shows her hand really early and Emma grimaces internally, not sure what to say or even how she’s feeling. She closes her eyes and bites her lip.
Mom’s voice goes back into the nonchalant territory, which makes Emma’s ears perk up because she knows that, whatever this is, it is about to be super, super important.
“When I first met your father, I thought he was a stuck-up royal. That he was everything I hated in all the stupid noblemen that were paraded in front of me from my childhood. Obsessed with money and power and looking good. But as we fought - one another and some enemies - I learned that I was wrong. He was a good man, and he was searching for a happy ending that would give him a chance to do some good in the world and hopefully find love along the way.
“Before we parted ways, I had an opportunity to tell him that I had fallen in love with him, even though we barely knew each other. But I didn’t take it. I let him go his way, towards a future he didn’t even want, and I went my way, running from my troubles instead of facing them. Eventually fate brought us together again, but it took hardship and bravery for us to admit that we loved one another.”
“Are you-” Emma pulls her head from Snow’s lap and sits up, eyeing her mother warily. “-are you saying that Killian is about to run away?”
Snow’s face flickers for only a moment and Emma can feel her world crash down around her, girlish fantasies falling on the ground like that ridiculous Barbie birthday cake that Trisha Lewis asked for on her eighth birthday party but got knocked off the table by the wrestling match that ensued when Trisha called Emma a “dirty orphan.”
He is running away.
Mom’s hands curl around Emma’s and her eyes snap back to Snow’s, scared of the pity she expects to see there. Instead, the green depths are filled with eagerness and a familiar spark. “I am saying that Killian wants you to be happy, and if he doesn’t think that he makes you happy, he will go to great lengths to make sure that you can be. So, brave daughter of mine,” Snow’s palm caresses Emma’s cheek and the touch draws out a tear that she gently wipes away, “I am saying that if you love Killian, tell him.”
“Would you care to take a walk through the gardens? There are some beautiful flowers that only bloom at night.”
She places her hand on his forearm and smiles, softly, wishing that she could read his stiff expression. “I would love that, Killian.”
He is silent as they exit the castle, and it seems like his feet are leading more than his brain. There’s a really cute little crease in his forehead that Emma wants to run her thumb over and erase. But when he stops abruptly and turns, taking her hands in his and chewing his bottom lip like he’s got a vendetta against it, Emma figures that he’ll only stop making this face when he says whatever’s on his mind.
“Princess, can I be frank?”
“I’d prefer if you be Killian,” she teases, resisting the urge to poke his chest and settling for a smirk. He gives her a slightly confused look and presses on.
“Nonetheless, I have something that I wish to discuss with you-”
“I have something I wanted to talk about too.”
“I- I- I well-” Killian stumbles over his words like a confused kid and now Emma’s the one biting her lip (to keep from laughing at his sincere bewilderment.) “Why don’t you begin then?”
“Killian.” Her hands anchor at his lapels and she digs her feet into the ground, wanting to feel like a strong, rooted tree. “I wanted to thank you for everything you’ve done in the last week. I wouldn’t be here if not for you.”
The moon isn’t providing much light, but Emma’s pretty sure he’s gone a shade of pink, the corners of his mouth edging up despite his best efforts to be serious. “Oh, I don’t believe that-”
“I do. I’d be dead six ways to Sunday if you hadn’t been here the whole time supporting me.” Her thumbs run along the smooth fabric of his lapels and her knees are going a little weak, making her feel like a bending sapling before the storm of his blue eyes.
“I only did what I promised to do.”
She ducks her head for a moment and looks up, meeting his gaze and trying very hard to remember breathing. “What exactly did you promise to do?”
“I promised to be loyal to you and to-” he chokes a little but she needs to hear this part “-to love you.”
“I promised that too. To love you.” She releases his lapel and her fingers comb through the short, soft hairs on his neck. “And I am a girl who keeps my promises.”
They are both fully awake, fully aware, and fully alone. And when Emma reaches up on tiptoe to press their lips together, she wonders if she had ever felt alive before this moment, when he took all the oxygen out of the garden and replaced it with something that made her dizzy and her heart pound and her knees get even weaker. She clings to him, her only foundation as the world grows fuzzy and her lips glide against his in a dance she’s only beginning to pick up but she’d be happy to learn about for the rest of her life.
It only takes a moment for her world to shift and then his hands are on her shoulders, pushing her away.
“Emma!” That lack of oxygen must be affecting him too, because his chest is heaving. “I cannot let you do this out of some warped need to express your gratitude. I did not stand by your side expecting a reward.”
“No you didn’t.” Her hand runs through his ruffled hair and she smiles because it all suddenly clicks into place. “You did it because you love me.”
She’s really thrown him off with that one, because his mouth (oh, what a mouth!) is opening and closing rapidly and his eyes are blinking really fast. “I- well, I-”
“Oh, slow your roll, dude. It's okay, I love you too.”
Emma kisses him again, lips firmer and hands tighter in his hair and wrapped around his arm. But she’s no match for him, because he still manages to pry her away. “Emma, it is acceptable if you do not love me. I am not upset, honestly. You do not know me, you barely know anyone in this realm-”
“Okay, you’re going to need to cool it. Because, Romeo, I’m trying to kiss you and maybe get you into bed, and all you’re doing is going on and on and on about how I don’t have to love you.” She raises her eyebrows and gives him her most annoyed, impatient look. “Will you just shut up and believe me when I say that I love you, that I’ve had the hots for you since the day I first saw you and that I’ve had a crush on you since the first time I saw you smile? Will you just shut up and kiss me?”
His mouth closes. He blinks. And then, utterly shocked, Killian Jones allows his wife to kiss him.
But that doesn’t mean she’s not nervous as they stumble into his bedroom, his hands strong on her hips and his mouth warm against hers, eager and excited and showing her that Ingrid’s awkward sex talk was right.
It feels really, really good when it's with the right person.
“Are you-” Killian moans when her mouth works a bruise under his ear, “-are you sure that you want to do this tonight?”
Emma pulls away from that spot, taking note of it for later, and places her palms on either side of his gorgeous face, making sure he is looking her in the eye so he knows how serious she is.
That is all it takes for the careful restraint to vanish, for his fingers to work at the laces of her dress as though he has been practicing all of his life, to make a tremor go through her. Her dress falls to the ground and the tunic underneath joins it in a moment.
Her nipples are straining against the thin satin of her shift and when he cups her breasts with gentle adoration, she lets out a whimper at the sensation. “Oh Emma,” he whispers, his thumbs circling the stiff peaks and making her whimper again. “You are so beautiful.”
She snakes her hands between him, not ready for him to stop touching her, and unbuttons his vest and shirt so he can slip them off, along with his jacket, leaving all that glorious skin bare. Emma steps forward again, pressing herself against his warm chest and finding his lips, their tongues sliding against one another and his teeth nibbling her lip, making her toes curl.
Emma’s thumbs dig into his waistband and Killian, reading her wishes, grasps her wrists and helps her to pull his trousers down, the buttery smooth leather joining the growing pile of clothes on the floor.
“If you would rather keep it on-” Killian tugs on the end of shift and she can taste the kindness on his lips, his desire to make her as comfortable as possible.
“No.” Emma gives him a quick kiss and steps back, shaking her head. “I want you to see me. All of me.”
She can’t explain why it's so important that he look at her, that he be able to see her under the soft candlelight and judge her for himself. It's not that she needs his approval, it's just that she needs him to see her, vulnerable and bare, and understand that this is who she is.
Emma pulls the shift over her head and when it is gone, her husband is looking at her as though she is the sun itself.
“Oh Emma.” He does not move, only stands there in awe, admiring her, his blue gaze burning in its intensity. “You are the loveliest thing that I have ever beheld.”
And it's not bullshit. It's the truth.
She climbs on the bed and reaches out an arm, inviting him to join her. His lips worship her as they lay, side-by-side, on top of the covers. Their arms and legs are tangled together and their chests are pressed so tightly to one another that she thinks they will never separate, that they’ll be fused here forever. But he proves her wrong, his lips working a delicious line down her body, passing her sensitive center and running a firm tongue down her thigh, around the circle of her knee, and across her calf.
“Emma.” He breathes right next to where she wants him to touch, but his palm is pressed against her thigh. “May I?”
“Yes, yes, yes please,” she squeals, already squirming beneath him. But Killian has all the patience in the world as he runs a single finger across her folds, making her shiver. Another finger joins the first and he gently circles her clit before drawing across her entrance to collect more moisture to run over her bundle of nerves.
(Fuck, this is nothing like when she does it herself.)
She thinks she might just come, his touch about to drive her over the edge, but he plants a gentle kiss on her thigh and scooches back up on the bed.
“Have you done this before?” He is on his side, one hand propping up his head and the other stroking one of her breasts, making her wish he wouldn’t take his sweet-ass time.
“Uh, I haven’t made it to home base before. You?”
Killian dips his head to take one of her nipples into her mouth, drawing out a pathetic little whine. “I have taken a few women to bed, but never fully coupled with them.”
“Ah.” Emma’s a little distracted by the way his tongue is flickering back and forth. “Well, I think I know what’s supposed to happen next.”
“As do I.” He releases her breast and turns his lips back to hers, leaving her breathless in another way. “I have been advised that it may be best for me to recline, allow you control of the coupling?”
“Fuck, whatever you want,” Emma mutters. Killian rolls onto his back and grips her hips, drawing her on top of him, and she grasps his erection with sure fingers, stroking a few times to feel the velvety stiffness and make his head go back and his eyes close. She plays with him for as long as she can wait and then runs the head through her folds, getting it wet and ready for her.
(The advice she heard from her friends was about using lube, but she’s not so sure they have that here.)
He’s right at her entrance and she can feel her heart pounding, waiting for that apparently epic moment when she officially has sex for the first time.
“Emma.” His hands anchor on either side of her face. “Have I told you yet that I love you?”
“No.” She leans forward and kisses him, sweetly. “I don’t think you have.”
“Wife of mine, I love you with all that I have and with all that I am.” His palms run down her sides, brushing along her shoulders, sides, waist, ass, thighs. “From now until we join the stars.”
One hand on his chest steadies herself and the other lines him up to enter her, sliding him in slowly and smoothly. It is a strange sensation and when he enters her fully, she waits for a moment to adjust to his size and the angle. When she has relaxed her muscles, helped by his gentle thumbs on her hipbones, she makes eye contact again and whispers, “From now until we join the stars.”
It's awkward and weird and she’s not really sure she’s doing it right, but they move slowly at first, then a little faster, and when she licks her finger and works at her clit, her body tenses and relaxes at the same time and she and Killian both let out moans. Feeling bold, Emma places one of his hands on her breast and the other on her ass, sighing when he caresses and teases without further instruction. It's all feeling so good and it's nothing like a porno but it's Killian’s blue eyes gazing up at her like she hung the stars and his strong, steady hands cupping her and squeezing her and his lips parting when she changes the angle of her thrusts and moves a little faster.
“Oh- oh Emma,” he gasps, eyes fluttering shut.
“Killian,” she moans back, her voice low and the word coming out of her slowly.
Everything starts moving faster and the world grows fuzzy around the corners, like it's not real anymore - except this is the most real it's ever been. She changes the angle again, this one heavenly, and her finger flicks just the right spot and she explodes around him, crying out his name and shouting, throwing her head back and unable to do anything but let him thrust into her ever harder, ever faster.
Five strong strokes later and he freezes. She opens her eyes in time to catch the way his back arches and his eyes squeeze closed and his mouth droops in surprise and ecstasy.
“Oh,” he sighs, hands wrapping around her waist and bringing her even closer (she didn’t think that was possible, but alright.) “That was perfect.”
She noses at that little spot where his shoulder meets his neck. “Yeah, you are.”
But when they did, it was like she really was a princess.
And so now, sitting in the nursery, rocking a fussy baby who won’t fucking stop crying, she understands that this is her happily ever after, but it doesn’t mean that the work is over. In fact, as she hands the new little heir off to her husband and runs a weary hand across her brow, she knows that the work is just beginning.
“The crying will have to end eventually, love,” Killian sighs, gently bouncing the bundle, adjusting it, and resting a hand on Emma’s knee. “No baby can cry like this forever.”
Emma laces her fingers with Killian’s and gives him an amused look. “You never know, I wouldn’t be surprised if our kid is stubborn enough to do it.”
He chuckles and stands, pulling his wife up and tucking her against his other side. “If so, then we would be getting exactly what we deserve.”
Her eyes must be sparkling because his surely are. “And what is that?”
“Oh, that’s easy, love. Our happily ever after.”