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A Story

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Their days slowly settled into a routine. At first, their time together were mostly long stretches of awkward silences as both remembered vividly the eruption of emotions and events that had brought them to this point. It was not without difficulty for Hook, forced as he was to find new ways to conduct himself. It did not come easy for a man used to getting his way in everything, to restrain his actions, but he managed. Wendy held no wish to use her words to make the Captain behave differently, but neither of them forget power to do so was hers. Eventually they started to talk with each other, carefully steering away from any painful subjects. They found, to their equal surprise, that they enjoyed each other's company and little by little the atmosphere grew less restrained between them. After all, Hook had not wished for a simpleton for a wife and Wendy had been a diligent student under her various tutors. Now, when forced to talk about things without embarrassing connotations, they could explore subjects both of them found interesting, and those were more plentiful than they had thought.

No longer restricted to the cabin, Wendy wandered all over the ship to make herself familiar with it. She was not received kindly by the crew. Their ingrained hostility against women was tempered only by fear of the Captain, and of the wolf who accompanied Wendy. Wendy knew why she had not insisted on getting a cabin of her own. The possibility of someone in the crew trying to kill her in her sleep was not unlikely. It took Wendy several days to remember that she could easily have avoided any threats to her person, and when she understood that, she had to admit to herself that she probably hadn't thought about it because she somehow wanted to be near the Captain, even if he posed no small threat to her person himself.

The nights were difficult, though. Wendy slept badly, dreaming nightmares where she thought she woke up with the Captain's hand closed around her throat, the wolf a bloody heap on the floor. She woke up from those dreams choking, sitting up in her narrow bed and trying hard not to scream. One night she awoke, but from what she didn't know, and found Hook standing by her bed. With his back to the window he was just a shadowy shape to her. Wendy could not tell what expression his face bore, but she could make out the tension in his shoulders and she dared not move. It seemed like he stood there for hours, then he suddenly left, going back to his own bed. Wendy wondered how many nights he had been standing like that, but in the morning she said nothing about it, and neither did he. But somehow she felt safer knowing he had just been standing there, not trying to touch her and she started to sleep better after that night.

One evening Wendy sat in her chair and studied her hands. It had been a nice evening. The conversation had run smoothly, but there was something Wendy wanted to say. She had thought about it for a long time, but never found a good opportunity. Eventually she had realised the right time probably never would arise, so if she wanted to say it, she had to say it now. So now she sat there, looking at her own small hands, and then she looked at James's. His hand was large, to suit a large man, but his long fingers were well-shaped and surprisingly sensitive looking.

"I could," she started, but then she stopped, unsure of how to word it. After a slight pause she tried again. "You know I could, if you want, give you your hand back."

The Captain, who had leaned back in his chair, smoking, sat up, his body suddenly tense. Wendy, who was afraid that he would fly into a rage, continued hurriedly.

"I never meant to hurt you, I had no idea of what I did, how could I? I never knew how much it hurt. Then it was just a story... I didn't know."

She paused and James answered her, his voice sounding strangled, but not angry.

"I know."

"But I can undo it now. Now, at once, if you want me to."

Hook just nodded, and Wendy, sensing she must leave him in peace for a while, said nothing further.

Hook looked down on his hand. This was what he wanted, wasn't it? To have two hands, to be whole. He stretched out his right arm, looking at the claw. To not have a misshapen stump which ached. To never have to wear the claw again, and the chafing harness. Despite that, he could not bring himself to tell her to do it, and for a long time he said nothing, turning her offer over and over in his mind.

"No," he said finally. He met Wendy's disbelieving eyes. "It's part of who I am. If it was something anyone could do, get one's hand back, then I would. But I don't want it because of the magic of your words."

"But it was my fault!" Wendy protested. "I made it so, and for no good reason."

"No," James repeated. "That is the way I am. I never really was anything else."

Another pause, while Wendy stared down on the floor. Then he continued.

"You can do it, if- If you would like me better with two hands."

She looked up sharply, and opened her mouth only to close it again. For a moment she looked like she would cry, but the she shook her head. "No. That bears no weight in what I think of you."

Hook would have liked to ask her what she thought of him now, but in the end he said nothing more, and the matter of hands were not raised again between them. Even so, both were secretly satisfied with how it all had turned out, and the ease between them continued to grow. However, despite that, Wendy's resolve to not share Hook's bed remained, to their mutual frustration.

One morning, as Wendy was standing in front of the mirror, combing her hair and Hook watched her. He suddenly decided to take advantage of her preoccupation with her hair. Wendy was frowning slightly as she tried to coax the last hairpin into place and she didn't notice him until his right arm had encircled her waist and drawn her close to him. She met his gaze in the mirror.

"No," she said, trying to wriggle out of his grip.

Much to her aggravation her voice sounded weak and her efforts to free herself was severely hampered by Hook as he took advantage of the situation and distracted her by kissing her neck. Small kisses, like a butterfly fluttering over her skin. The effect on Wendy was curious enough that her knees felt weak and she leaned against the Captain to seek support. His hand took one of hers and brought it up to his mouth and he kissed her palm, making her shiver, then letting his hand stroke her arm upwards, until it came to rest on the bare skin above her neckline.

"No," she said again, fighting to give her voice authority.

"Why not? I know I'm not alone in wanting this, so why do you fight it?" Hook's voice was a low purr and Wendy could not help but think of what it promised.

"It's wrong."

"Is it? How? I have-" He paused and corrected himself. "We have, every right to do this."

He let go of her, though he still stood as close to her as before. His hand caressed her neck, his thumb casually touching a spot just beneath her earlobe and Wendy could feel resolve melt and reason reduced to meaninglessness by his touch.

"See. I don't hold you anymore. Step away from me and I will let you, but I dare you to say that you really want me to stop."

As the moment seemed to stretch out into infinity, Wendy stood perfectly still. Heat radiated from Hook's body; she felt it as if even the light touch of his fingers burned her skin. Hesitantly she took a step forward and James' hand slid down from her neck and her body had no contact with his anymore. Wendy turned to face him, putting her hands on his shoulders so she could look steadily up at him.

Hook didn't move. He hardly dared to breathe while he waited for Wendy to make her decision. He could do nothing more, he had made his wishes clear, but though he stood unmoving, he was battling with himself. The impulse to take what he wanted with no regard to anyone else than himself was strong and he almost surrendered to the craving of getting what he desired without hesitation or thoughts about what Wendy felt. Instead he waited, telling himself that she at least was considering him, when she could have rejected him with a simple word.

Wendy searched James' face, his blue eyes, but she didn't know what she was looking for. Was it possible to fall in love with someone who had hurt you, like James had hurt her? Who you had just begun to think that you may forgive some day in the future? She had to admit that it probably was possible, more than possible actually, but if so, ought you? Should you not try to stop yourself before your feelings made you even more vulnerable?

This decision had to be made sooner or later, she knew that. It had been foolish to believe she wouldn't be affected by living so close to him. Wendy gripped the velvet of James' coat tighter in her hands and closed her eyes to try to collect herself. Then she looked up again and let her hand move up to his neck. Tugging his head down to hers, she kissed him. Wendy could feel James' arms wrap around her again and she happily stepped closer. She did want this and right now she didn't want to feel sensible.

They kissed, James' hand buried in her hair, making hairpins scatter as most of the knot that she had worked so hard to get nice and orderly dissolved. She didn't mind - it felt good to be so close to James again, good to inhale his scent and have his arms around her. At that point they were interrupted. The wolf had watched them with growing suspicion for several minutes and now it decided that it was time to interrupt this. Wendy wasn't in danger, the wolf could sense that, but it was jealous of her affections and if this large man was petted, and not the wolf, then it was definitely time to break things up.

The wolf growled deeply and tried to insert itself between Wendy and Hook. They broke apart and the wolf made a turn around Wendy's skirts, giving the Captain a triumphant glare. When Wendy made an attempt to step around it, the wolf sat down and omitted a pitiful howl. James tried to look grave, though it was evident that he had some trouble concealing a smile.

"I am not going to perform in front of a wolf."

Wendy stifled a laugh. "I don't think he'll let you."

"Well, then it has to get out I’m sure fresh air will benefit it for an hour or two."

Wendy hesitated. If she shut out the wolf, then she had admitted to trusting .the Captain. It was only a symbolic move, she knew that, but it was still hard for her. To be all alone with James, that did scare her a bit still. Frowning, Wendy bit her lip. She had already accepted him, but she could change her mind. Only she didn't want to turn back now. The wolf readily bounced to its feet when Wendy called, happily wagging its tail. Convinced Wendy had returned to her senses, it followed her to the door. When she opened it and told the wolf to find Smee, it trotted out, sure Wendy would follow. Instead the door closed and the wolf found itself alone on the outside. Inside Wendy breathed out, for a moment resting her head against the door. Then she turned back toward James and smiled.

 

THE END