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Not-So-Hidden Treasure

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“What are you boys playing?”

Killian takes the time to calculate the sums on the dice and draw the three coins from Whale’s pile before he looks up at the owner of the voice that just playfully uttered the codewords he’s been waiting all night to hear. Long blonde hair falls across her shoulders and frames a pair of breasts he would not deny the privilege of filling his hand, pink lips are curved into a smile, and the lass looks as ready for an adventure as he’d expect. She is more beautiful than he had anticipated, possessing the haughty brow and upright posture of other minor gentry. The daughter of a baron perhaps, or even an earl. Someone with a fair fortune at least, a third of his fee hidden somewhere in her simple brown dress.

He raises an eyebrow at her and cocks his head slightly. “Liar’s dice, love.” Killian picks the dice up again and holds them out in his hand. “Care to grace them with some of your luck?”

She draws her bottom lip between her teeth, eyes taking him in, before leaning over and threatening to fall out of her dress. Killian must force his eyes back to her mouth so he can witness how they purse slightly as she blows on his dice, breath warm on his palm. He rotates his wrist and drops the dice onto the table, winking at her before looking down to realize that he has lost.

“Too bad, Captain,” Whale drawls, taking the three coins back.

“Lass, you have cost me.” Killian gestures to his side. “And it shall cost you one drink with me. My treat.”

He dismisses himself from the crew and guides the woman and a bottle of rum to a dark corner where they can speak without being overheard.

“Do you have what I asked for?” He pours two careful measures of liquor, handing one to her and saving the other for himself to down quickly. She hesitates a moment, swallows her own rum, and nods, not looking phased at the rough drink.

“Yes.” She pats her side where a pouch hangs. “And the rest of it waits for you on Arendelle’s docks when you deliver me safely.”

“Of course of course.” He gestures to his crew who have carried on their game in his absence. “You can always trust a pirate to care more for gold than anything else.” Killian raises an eyebrow and leers. “Even a nubile young woman who has come aboard the ship.”

Her fingers twitch and she frowns before pouring them both another shot of rum. When she knocks this one back, a bit of the drink slips out of her mouth to slide down her chin and drip onto the bodice of her dress. Killian bites the inside of his cheek to keep himself from commenting, quickly swallowing his own rum to fill his mouth with drink instead.

“Where shall I be sleeping?” Her tone has shifted to something businesslike and dismissive. This woman does not care for his flirting or his insinuation that either his crew or himself would find her inticising in the weeks to come.

“Captain’s quarters, of course.”

“And… you?” Her fingers twitch again, an obvious tell.

“Captain’s quarters.” He smirks. “Of course.” She opens her mouth to protest and he raises his hand to stop her. “Love, when your envoy approached me about this job I made it clear that the best disguise to get you safely to your destination undetected was as my companion. Now if you wish to reveal who you really are to my men and myself and be transported in the private luxury of my cabin…” He waves his hand to gesture that she can go ahead, but she turns pale instead and shakes her head.

“No.”

“Then it is decided.” He stands gracefully, grasping the still-full bottle and offering her his left arm for an escort. Killian’s voice rises a few notches as he strides out of the pub with a beautiful woman on his arm. “Let me show you my ship, m’lady.” He leans closer to her, catching a scent of something spicy. “I promise it is as impressive as you imagine.”

The woman tucks herself closer against him, batting her eyes demurely and swishing her hips as they walk through the door. He could almost believe she really is a woman infatuated with a dashing pirate captain, if not for the way her eyes assess the village streets and her hand clutches his elbow stronger than need be. The little lamb is frightened, unsure of herself. Wherever she is from it is surely a life of privilege and pampering, in the presence of other gentle folks as herself. She will find the coming weeks on a pirate ship something altogether difficult and Killian only hopes she shall not be a pain in his arse the entire time.


 

The ship is actually smaller than she imagined, no match for the ships in Misthaven’s armada with their huge sails and intricately-carved figureheads. This one is slimmer, something her father would say is built for speed and maneuverability. A pirate ship is made as much for chasing down as it is for running away. Emma keeps this in mind as she carefully steps on board, reminding herself for the umpeenth time that though she has been entrusted to this man’s care, she cannot trust him completely. At the end of the day, his priority is the treasure that lines his pockets.

A smaller ship means a smaller Captain’s quarters and she struggles not to let her disappointment show. The bunk is just large enough for two bodies if they were close together. Emma longs for the comfortable bed in the state cabin of the Jewel of the Realm and the soft linens she and her mother had hand-picked for their various journeys.

“So that…” Emma nods at the bunk and gives him a questioning gaze.

“Is not where you will be sleeping, lass.” Hook crosses the room to an ornate wardrobe and pulls a bundle of rope from one of its drawers. “You shall sleep on a hammock in the corner.” He tosses the mess to her and she just manages to catch it in time. “I expect you to return it to its rightful place every morning before a member of my crew catches sight of it.” He raises one of those dangerous eyebrows at her and she swallows. “And I expect you to wax poetic about my prowess when asked.”

Turning his back to her, Hook slides off his long black coat and sets it on a peg beside the ladder, toeing off his boots and placing them underneath. By the time Emma realizes he is removing all of his clothing, she turns away too late and gets a glimpse of a tan, muscled back. She fumbles to hang the hammock from the two hooks she finds on the walls and climbs in rather ungracefully.

“Get the lantern, would you, love?”

His voice is muffled and so Emma chances a look to the other side of the cabin, where his naked form has been safely covered by blankets. Biting her lip against the slew of insults and curses she wants to let out, Emma just grunts and steps from her suspended bed to turn off the lantern on his desk and bathe the room in darkness. She finds her way back carefully, slowly, and her way into the hammock even more carefully. When she finally get settled, she closes her eyes and tries to relax, to let the exhaustion of the day overpower her anxiety.

“What is your name?”

The question is whispered, low and soft, and Emma is so surprised by the tone that she forgets her need to lie and conceal her identity.

“Emma.”

“Emma.” It sounds lovely when he repeats it back to her and she sort of wishes she could see how he says it, how those pursed lips of his rounded around the vowels. But she pushes away the strange flutter of her heart and burrows deeper into the hammock.


 

The noblewoman keeps mostly to herself. While Killian steps on deck to supervise his crew and take his place at the helm, Emma stays below decks. For the first few days, she does not emerge at all, and when he climbs into his bunk at the end of a long day, he can smell that scent of hers, faint and alluring, on his pillowcase.

She has been lying in his bed.

On the third such night, Killian hangs his coat and gives her a look out of the corner of his eye. She is hanging the hammock as usual, something resolute in the set of her shoulders, and he sighs loudly.

“Oh bloody hell, just take the damn bed.”

“Excuse me?” Emma turns and gives him a strange look over her shoulder, frozen in the middle of her task.

“You heard me.” Killian pulls off his boots and crosses to her in his stocking feet, feeling less indigent than he would like. “I can tell you have been sleeping in my bed during the day, lass. Take my bunk and get a decent night’s rest and come join us on the deck tomorrow morning, bright and early.”

Her mouth hangs open for a moment, eyes wide, and then she nods and hands the hammock to him. “Aye aye, Captain,” she replies in bewilderment. Their skin brushes in the exchange and Killian starts at the warmth that spreads up his arm, but she seems not to notice. Emma pulls at the strings on her corset as she steps away from him and wriggles it over her head before climbing beneath his sheets, wrapping them tightly around herself. She looks a vision, he will give her that, all flushed cheeks and flaxen hair, the sort of woman he really would bring on his ship if he ever took a mistress aboard. But he has no desire to do such a thing again, so he turns away and prepares his own sleeping arrangements, confident that he will get just as much rest this way as in his own bed.

As he had guessed, it takes only a few minutes after the light is snuffed for her breathing to even out, a gentle snore making him smile to himself. He falls asleep to the strange and adorable sound, not bothered in the slightest. After all, for the price her family is paying, he could sleep on the floor for two weeks and still emerge with a grin.


 

He is smiling when she wakes up, his face almost childlike and innocent in sleep, that hook of his on the desk so it’s his brace resting on his chest and rising with every breath he takes. Emma considers him for a moment, in repose, and wonders what would make a man become a pirate. In sleep, he does not look capable of any evil deed.

Hook blinks lazily, groggily, and Emma turns to face the ceiling of the cabin with a blush. How long had she been staring? He does not seem to notice, however, and when his feet land on the floor, she sits up and yawns dramatically.

“Emma?” His gaze is on her face and doubtless her wild hair. She pats it down gently. “Put yourself in order and I can give you a tour of the ship. I would hate for you to continue to miss out on the pleasures of the Jolly Roger.”

Emma nods and waits for him to finish dressing and exit the cabin before she steps out of the bed. She feels more awake and invigorated than she has since stepping aboard, finally able to get some rest. Perhaps if she had not been raised to expect a comfortable bed she would sleep better without one. She always wondered how her mother had done it in her bandit days, sleeping in fallen trees and caves. The thought makes her shiver in repulsion, thankful for the luxuries of the palace. Of course, if she does not make it safely to Elsa’s kingdom to request aid, then Emma’s sleeping quarters shall be the least of her problems.

She runs her fingers through her hair and splashes a bit of water on her face, wanting to look her best for the crew. It is a habit formed from years of public appearances and balls, not an easy one to shake despite the lowness of this ship’s crew. Emma steps on deck and takes a deep breath of ocean air, smiling at the feeling of salt and water in her lungs and at the blue, blue skies.

Hook places his moniker on her shoulder and she sucks in more air at another blue - his eyes and how they look like that line where the heavens meet the sea. She smiles to cover the flip in her stomach and takes his arm when he offers it.

Although she hadn’t been impressed when first stepping onto the Jolly Roger, his careful tour increases its esteem in her mind. It is clean, well-maintained, well-stocked, and the men are all obedient to their captain, if a bit rough-looking. She can feel their eyes upon her when they return to the helm and Hook bids her steer the ship, hands gripping the wheel.

Emma’s breath catches in her throat as a hand and a hook settle on her waist and the Captain’s body presses into hers from behind.

“Sorry, love,” he whispers in her ear. “Appearances must be maintained.” He leans a little closer and drops a kiss on her neck, nosing her hair and making her heart stop for a moment.

She wills her fingers to relax on the wheel and her face to melt into something resembling contentment or lust or affection or anything besides panic. Emma leans back slightly and his hand squeezes her waist, fingers trailing a path downward so he can run his thumb over her hip through the layers of fabric.

It is too much and not enough all at the same time. Emma grasps his hook and uses it to anchor herself as she turns in his arms, back to the wheel and chest against his own. His eyes are dark with something like excitement and it makes her heart race faster. The hook is still in her grip, cool and smooth and she lets it go.

“See something you like, darling?”

Emma opens her mouth to tell him how attractive he looks, hair mussed by the winds on the sea and lips parted as he teases her, but she thinks better of it and glares instead. “No,” she replies coldly. “I don’t see anything at all.”

His head tilts down and his brows furrow and Emma instantly regrets what she has said because, honestly, he has been much kinder to her than she had expected him to be. But it is his presence and how she had wanted to touch him, kiss him, hold him closer - it was all too much. She slides away before he can admonish her or kick her off of his ship, descending the ladder in a hurry and collapsing into the chair behind his desk with her head in her hands.

He does not return to the cabin that night.


 

“Regretting taking the little minx on?”

Whale is an annoying prat most days, insufferable when he gives Killian a faux-pitying look as his Captain sets up a spare hammock in Whale’s surgeon’s cabin.

“Perhaps,” he admits, reluctantly, settling in for the night and wishing the man would shut his mouth.

The man snorts. “No you’re not, Captain. You were always drawn to women who know their own mind. That tart is a challenge and you like it.”

Killian crosses his arms and frowns into the darkness. So far as his crew understands, Emma is just another bar wench he’s set his sights on. Comparing her to Milah is a bit rash at this point. But no matter how petty her nobility, she is not the type to leave her life behind and join on with a pirate captain. This is a business arrangement and he shall continue to treat it and Emma as such.

He closes his eyes and tries to sleep, considering that perhaps some camaraderie between himself and herself would not be out of line. It would certainly keep him from fleeing from his own bloody cabin.


 

His beard is rough against her neck, sending shivers down her spine, even as his words are gentle in her ear. He presses a kiss to her throat, a small one that even his men sitting around them at the table could not possibly see, and she smiles in return, something that the crew sees but he cannot.

Hook scoops her left hand out of her lap with his curved appendage and, reaching around her body, arm strong against her waist, deposits a pair of dice in her palm. Emma shifts from her perch on his lap so she can face him. Their noses brush together intimately and she blushes.

“Now the secret to liar’s dice, love, is weighted dice.” The crew laughs and even Emma smiles. Hook’s fingers nudge at the dice in her hand and she looks back so she can follow his gaze, wriggling closer to his chest so he can peer over her shoulder. “On your first roll you want to get two zeroes. On the second, a single one. You climb up to four,” he tips the dice until each one displays the dots, “and then back to zero. The further you get the more your opponent owes you. And you can step away any time.” His eyes return to hers and she doesn’t think that she’ll ever move again. “But if you leave too soon you miss your chance to win big.”

“It would be a shame, Captain,” she whispers, and when his tongue darts out to wet his lips, she wonders if he felt her warm breath upon the soft red flesh. “I do so love to win.”

The hook leaves her wrist and settles at her waist, holding her tight, even possessively. And that’s the game that they’re playing, the two wrapped up in one another, pleasuring one another and unwilling to part even at port. That had been the only sensible way that they could stock up on some supplies en route to Arendelle and let her leave the confining ship. It is a game, that is all, a rouse. But that doesn’t explain why Emma’s heart is beating or her lips are tingling and wishing she could kiss this dashing, villainous pirate.

“For you, darling, anything.”

There’s a sincerity in his gaze that is far too much to handle, so Emma slides off of his lap rather ungracefully and pours herself a bit of rum. She tosses it back and rattles the dice in the hand still clutching them.

“There is only one problem, Captain,” she coos, regaining her handle on this persona she has crafted. Emma leans forward again, brushing her breasts against his arm, and watches his pupils dilate. “I haven’t a single gold piece on me.”

The men all laugh again, a few chuckling about the high cost of women and a few others offering to lend her their hard-won gold - for a price. Hook glares at the latter ones and extracts a handful of coins from his pouch, places them on the table before her, and rests his arm around her shoulders.

“Let us make a deal, love. Any gold you win will be yours for the keeping. Challenge Whale first, he’s utter rubbish.”


 

The noblewoman is better at liar’s dice than he ever expected. It does not take long before she has added significantly to the pile of coins he placed before her, a mountain of gold growing as the crew’s smiles diminish. Killian just holds her closer as she earns him more and more money and even chances a kiss against her temple when she clears Whale out. Emma’s face turns a delightful shade of pink.

In the men’s glances he can sense traces of resentment, even some pointing at her dice as though they suspect them of being loaded. Cheating is accepted from their Captain - expected, even - but cheating from his whore is beyond the pale. Killian leans closer to whisper a word of warning in her ear when she turns to face him, nose suddenly brushing his own and eyes blinking at him in surprise.

“You said my winning are all my own, Captain?” She bats her eyes.

Killian smirks in response. “I am a man of my word, love.”

“Good.” With a whip of her neck, that golden hair tossed in his face, she surveys his crew. “Next round is on me, boys!”

The men cheer and flag down a wench to place their orders and Killian leans toward her again.

“Clever. Your upbringing certainly taught you how to manage subjects.”

It is his first reference in days to her genteel life and she gives him a small look of shock. “Yes. Well,” she whispers back after she has recovered, straightening her shoulders, “it has helped me manage you well enough.”

Killian raises a brow at her cheek, gearing himself for a retort, when she leans even closer in, nosing at the space below his ear and then nibbling the sensitive skin there. Emma’s hand presses against his thigh, dangerously close to where his cock is hardening, and her words send a shiver down his spine. “Men are easy enough to manage. Fill their stomachs, satisfy their cocks, or line their pockets.”

He twists his fingers in her hair, pulling her away and forcing her to look at him. “And the woman who does all three?”

“Well she would own him. Body and soul.”

Never before has he wanted to kiss a woman so badly, wanted to press her against his body and run his fingers down her soft curves, undress her and find out all of her secrets. He wants to damn it all - that she is above him in station, that is is a client, that all this flirting is part of the rouse that gets her safely to her destination. He wants to kiss her, propriety be damned.

“I think it is time to go,” he manages, stepping away from her enough to breath, trying to regain his swagger and not alert the men to how much he has been drawn into this woman’s web. “The Jolly awaits,” he says louder, over the sounds of a round of free drinks being consumed.

The men cheer and tease and Killian does not miss how several of them look relieved not to face Emma’s gambling ability any longer. He offers the lady his arm, casually draping his hook over his growing erection as his only form of disguise. Emma allows the escort with a good deal more class than the whore she is pretending to be, but they manage well enough to keep her neck safe another night.

A lantern casts a hazy light around the cabin, enough to see by but not terribly well. Not well enough for him to read Emma’s expression, especially when her hair is falling across her face as she fiddles with the sheets.

“The men were about to hurt me, weren’t they?”

She sounds so small, so quiet, and it tugs at something in his heart. Killian turns from the corner where he is assembling the hammock.

“Perhaps. Pirates do not always care for excellence. And they do not care at all for losing out in treasure.”

Emma seats herself on the edge of the bunk, considering, fingers playing with one of the strings of her corset. “Keep my winnings then. I would rather be safe than rich.”

“Emma.” Her name feels like sweet molasses on his tongue, warm and thick, and it slips out as he crosses the cabin to cautiously seat himself beside her. “I have no intention of hurting you. Or letting them hurt you. You must know that.”

Her eyes are on her lap as she nods. “I’m too valuable.”

“No.” Killian lays his hand over top of hers and she carefully studies his large, rough hand over her soft delicate hands before her eyes meet his again. “I like you, lass. Beyond any treasure you can earn me. You are a hell of a woman and I would defeat anyone who tried to bring you harm.”

Emma’s laugh is short and bitter. “You hardly know me.”

“That makes no difference. I shall miss you when our journey is over.”

She watches him for a long moment, gaze darting between his eyes in consideration, seeming to come to a decision before she slides her fingers from beneath his palm, presses her hands on each side of his face, and pulls him firmly toward her.

Her lips are as soft as he had imagined in his dreams, sweet like wine and demanding like a woman used to getting her own bloody way. She lets him know how she wants him to kiss her and he damn well listens, giving it back just as good and chronicling how the graze of his teeth against her lower lip makes her groan.

“Hook.” Emma’s lips are still brushing against his after she pulls away and sucks in air, like she is afraid to break their connection. And damn it all, Killian is afraid to break the connection too. Was he drinking too much rum? Is this all a dream? And the way the blood rushes through his veins and how her green eyes make his heart pound and his stomach flip -- that cannot be real either. Neither can the dimple on her chin that his thumb finds and traces over and over again so he can memorize this sign of her contentment.

“Killian,” he whispers back. “My name is Killian.”

Her smile broadens against his lips. “Killian. I like that.”

“I like you,” he shoots back. It is not his best line, but it gets the intended reaction, which is a blush and the sweet way she lays her head on his shoulder.

“Killian,” she whispers. It thrills him to hear her say his real name. “Will you join me in the bunk tonight? Just for sleep,” she adds sharply, looking back up at him. “I don’t- I don’t want to wake up and find out this was all a dream.”

“As you wish, love,” he replies.

He is the one who turns off the lantern this evening, extinguishing the light in the cabin but not dimming his smile in the least. Emma is warm through the thin fabric of her shift and when he crawls into the bunk she presses back against him to seek out his own heat. He gives it willingly, hand around her waist and nose buried in those golden locks. When he sleeps, he dreams of a never ending journey and this woman by his side.


 

She dreams of a hole opening beneath her feet, swirling black getting larger and larger until it takes her parents far away from them, eyes wide and mouths frozen in soundless screams.

She wakes up sweating and trashing.

“Emma! Emma! Are you alright?”

A hand is at her waist and she blinks open her eyes to find a man with dark hair and light eyes peering down at her in concern. He doesn’t wear a shirt and the way he touches her is hardly proper behavior with a princess. Emma moves to push him away as well, to scream for a guard or soldiers until he speaks again and everything falls into place.

“Love, what is wrong?”

Emma’s body freezes as she remembers where she is and what has happened and she sags in relief at the realization that her parents have not been taken from her.

Not yet.

“Killian.” Emma has a hard time finding his name on her tongue, still not used to it, and she covers her flushed face with both hands. “I was- I was having a nightmare.”

“Do you wish to share?”

“No.” Emma swipes at her eyes and chances another look at him. He doesn’t appear upset, only concerned. She braves a smile. “Not this morning,” she adds. “Maybe some other time.”

Killian nods and drops a kiss on her forehead. She smiles at the sweet gesture and his face turns a little pink. Its hard to imagine him as a fearsome pirate when he scratches nervously behind his ear and looks as though he wouldn't hurt a fly.

“So last night…” she begins, fishing for his opinion in the sober light of the morning.

“...was bloody brilliant,” he finishes and then his face turns pinker. “Aye?”

“Aye.” Emma sits up and kisses him properly, something softer and deeper than the night before and when his left arm presses against the small of her back she shivers in pleasure. “And how much longer until we reach Arendelle?”

His face falls a little. “Two days, love.”

“Then we’d better make the best of it.”


 

The sun is high in the sky by the time he emerges from the Captain’s quarters, face flushed and lips swollen from kiss. It had been torture for Killian to restrain himself, to make some sort of attempt to treat Emma like the proper lady she had been raised as. No doubt there was a lord from a nearby estate or duke from across the realm she would be married off to eventually. With the disinterest the woman had for treasure, it was obvious that she was well used to wealth. A woman that beautiful and spirited with the wealth of a princess was unlikely to remain unmarried for long.

In the meantime, Killian whistled to himself as he stood at the helm, contemplating the feeling of her skin beneath his fingers and her teeth grazing his ear and the way she had rutted on his lap until he wanted to pull aside her dress and remove his trousers. He was already looking forward to that night, when they would be alone in the cabin once more, this time under no illusions that they found one another anything less than irresistable.

“Captain!”

Dennis’s voice is shrill behind him, high with panic, and Killian’s muscles immediately prepare for horrible news. One hand on the wheel, Killian turns to face the boy and barks, “What is it, lad?” He points behind them, to where a ship advances upon them, black sails billowing and striking familiar dread and rage deep in Killian’s stomach.

“Blackbeard.”

They have only a few minutes to prepare for a battle but his men are very well trained. After the initial cry, they move immediately into action. There are some ships Killian would prefer to outrun but Blackbeard’s is not one of them. That scum must be faced with a straight back and a sharp hook, for somehow the man continues to survive despite Killian’s every effort.

“What is going on?”

For only a moment Killian considers kissing the frown off of Emma’s face. He does not care to see anything but joy surrounding her. But he shouts another order at some lagging men and turns his attention back to the sword he is sharpening. “Battle. Stay below deck, love.”

“Killian.” Another glance reveals her utter rage, hands on hips and scowl firmly on those succulent lips. “When I paid for passage on this ship I expected a safe journey-”

“And you shall get what you paid for, madam,” Killian cuts her off. His jaw clenches before he can speak again. “Now get below deck and stay out of my bloody way. No need to worry your pretty neck about all of this.”


 

Emma spends at least a quarter of an hour pacing and fuming. Her fingers have turned white from how she has clenched her hands into fists and her lips hurt from pressing them tighter and tighter together. If he had left a single weapon in his cabin she would be up on the deck, killing anyone who tried to get between herself and a safe journey to Arendelle.

Captain fucking Hook included.

What an idiot she had been to think, for even a moment, that she could be more important to that man than treasure? All the gold in her mother’s vault would not be enough to satisfy his craving for wealth. Emma turns sharply at the end of the cabin and makes her way back to the other side. She is focusing very hard on blocking out the sounds of fighting going on right above her head. If she stays here, all she can do is wait and find out whether she remains with Captain Hook or gets sold off to whoever his crew is currently attacking.

With another grunt of frustration, Emma flies up the ladder and steps on deck. She was raised to make her own fate and fight her own battles. If she is to be taken or killed by strange men, she would rather do it while fending for her safety, not waiting in fear.

The deck is normally tidy and orderly. Almost boring, really, for a pirate ship. But with twice as many men all fighting with one another, it makes Emma feel as though she is being pressed in at from all sides. Emma scans the deck, searching for a fallen sword or dagger, and narrowly avoids being cut by a strange man missing his top teeth.

She pushes another strange man over the side of the ship and immediately laments that she did not take a weapon from him. She distracts a third man while one of the Jolly Roger’s crew knocks him out and then she really does gain her weapon, the crew member giving her a nod of approval and turning to get back into the fray.

Emma has scarcely an opportunity to plot her next move before an arm is wrapped around her waist from behind and a dagger held against her throat. She trashes, trying to escape, but the dagger’s edge slices into her skin and blood, warm and sticky, runs down her neck. Emma holds herself as still as possible and tucks her own dagger into the folds of her dress.

“Well, well, what do we have here?” The voice at her ear is a low growl. The scent of his breath makes her want to vomit. Emma looks around desperately for help when it appears in the form of the Captain, both hook and blade flashing dangerously in the sunlight.

“Leave the lady be.”

“Is she special to you, Hook?” The man’s blade moves lower down her throat, clearly revealing the cut already made, and Killian’s jaw clenches. “You really must be more careful with your whores. You seem to keep losing them.” The chuckle makes her stomach lurch and Emma has to press her lips together to keep her stomach from emptying onto the deck.

“Release her now and you have my word that you shall leave my ship alive. Harm her again and I cannot make such a promise.”

The man at her back laughs again and just holds her closer and thrusts his hips against her backside crudely. “Perhaps this time I will make use of your whore before I dispose of her, Hook. That is my one regret from our last meeting.”

Killian growls at that and moves to lunge toward the pirate behind Emma but she stops him with a slight shake of her head and a pleading look. He stops, brow wrinkling in confusion, and his gaze darts between herself and the other man.

“Help me,” Emma gasps, trying to keep her body still and away from the dagger still at her throat. “Please help me sir. These damn pirates have kidnapped me.”

He inhales in surprise and Emma can feel his grip soften but his dagger remains. “What’s that, lass?”

Emma straightens to her full height and closes her eyes briefly in a wince before giving Killian an apologetic look. “I am Princess Emma, future Queen of Misthaven, and I demand that you release me at once!”

Many of the pirates have ceased their fighting to stare at this sight and more than a few of their mouths fall open at her proclamation. Killian, in particular, looks agog and shakes his head slightly as though he does not believe her.

“And how the hell am I supposed to believe you, dressed like this?”

Emma’s right arm remains free of the pirate’s grip. Slowly, still afraid he might move the dagger at her throat, she lifts her hand and tugs at the chain that hangs from her neck. A charm is removed from her bodice, solid gold and bearing the swan emblem of the Kingdom of Misthaven. The man leans closer to her, peering over her shoulder, and Emma bites the inside of her cheek to keep herself from pulling back.

“You could have stolen it.”

“Do you really want to take that chance, Blackbeard?” Killian seems to have found his tongue again and he smirks at the man behind her, shifting his weight and shrugging. “Kill her and you shall surely face mutiny from men who would like a bit of royal treasure.” He then raises his eyebrow and his voice lowers. “There is treasure between those thighs as well, I assure you.”

The man grunts and from the way he hums and his grip loosens, Emma can tell he is considering all that Killian and Emma have told him. Emma seeks out Killian’s eyes but he is staring at the pirate, Blackbeard, impassive and almost a bit bored.

“Well are you going to take her off my bloody hands?” Killian finally spits out. Emma’s stomach sinks. “She’s been a damn nuisance and no treasure can be worth all the trouble she’s brought about.” Hook raises his sword and his eyes narrow. “Take the princess or not, just make up your mind and get off my ship.”

Blackbeard slowly removes the knife from Emma’s throat and she brings her left hand up to the wound, pressing against the trickle of blood still dripping down. “Come, Princess,” the man chuckles, gripping her left elbow. “I will show you how a real Captain runs his ship.” He turns her to face him for the first time, giving her a glimpse of long, curly black hair covered by an elaborate hat and cruel eyes filled with mirth. “And how a real Captain fucks,” he adds with a smirk.

That smile of his turns into a gasp when Emma pulls the dagger from her skirts, still clutched in her right fist, and digs it into Blackbeard’s thigh. He growls in pain and anger but before he can bring his own weapon up again, Emma darts out of the way and clears the path for the blow she knows is surely coming.

From behind her, Killian strides across the deck and plunges his sword into Blackbeard’s belly, a beautiful arc that ends with a sword pointing towards the sky through Blackbeard’s back and the pirate’s mouth opening and closing soundlessly. Killian holds the deadly weapon in place as the man’s eyes droop closed and his knees buckle. When he goes slack, Killian releases the sword and Blackbeard falls over to his side, a pool of blood moving quickly across the deck.

“Someone clean this filth up,” Killian spits, turning away from the dead Captain. His voice is quiet but it carries easily across the silent ship. “And any man who is not a member of my crew would be wise to leave the Jolly immediately.”

All at once, all the men begin moving again, a few strange men crouching to pick up Blackbeard’s body while one of the Jolly’s crewmembers runs a mop across the sea of red. Emma feels as though she has been frozen in place. As hard as she tries to move her feet, they will not budge, and she just watches the men shuffle all around her, set to their tasks of cleaning or climbing back onboard their own ship. She watches in amazement and her stomach sinks lower and lower, weighing her down and keeping her in place.

This was all her fault.


 

Killian stops shaking when his hand clutches the wheel and his hook rests on one of the spokes. It is only then, breathing deeply and sailing away from Queen Anne’s Revenge, that he can stop the tremors that have been quaking his entire body.

It is only then that he can look for Emma.

She is still standing in the same spot where the bastard held her at knifepoint, cutting into her beautiful flesh with his dirty dagger and taunting Killian about when he had done the very same to Milah.

But last time, his love had been the one in a pool of her own blood on the deck. Last time, his love and his future had been lost to him forever. Although, as Killian observes her straight and tall back and recalls the flash of gold that she revealed from between her breasts, he realizes that she is as good as lost to him now. It was one thing to exchange kisses with a future duchess or a lady of the court. It is another to long to lie with a bloody princess.

Killian carefully removes his grip from the wheel, fingers numb from the clutching, and makes his way to Emma’s side. She hardly moves when his shoulder brushes hers. For a moment he imagines the anger she must been feeling, the fury that he would risk her life just for a chance at vengeance, and then she is turning and pressing her cheek against his chest and he can feel her warm tears leak through his thin black shirt.

“I am so sorry,” she sobs, now the one shaking, and Killian pulls her closer so he can be strong. So he can keep her safe. “I am so sorry that I let him sneak up on me and rile you up and put your crew in danger and-”

“Hush now, love, hush.” Killian cups the back of her head, drawing her closer. “It is I that should apologize. I should have never let them board this ship. I should have never put you in danger, love.”

She sniffs and pulls away far enough that he can see the redness of her cheeks and nose and the way those green eyes glimmer with sad tears. It breaks Killian’s heart to see her so broken and he runs his thumb under her eyes to wipe away the tears.

“Let us go back to the Captain’s quarters and get you cleaned up.” Killian tilts her head so he can inspect her lovely throat and he tuts to cover up the growl he would rather let loose. Emma only nods and allows herself to be led below deck and sat down on the edge of the desk.

Whale is the man usually entrusted with cleaning wounds but Killian bristles at the thought of another man touching Emma after what happened. Even he is reluctant to touch her, but she appears to be craving it, her hand settling on his hip when he stands before her and her thumb running a circle through the leather.

Killian extracts a short black scarf from one of his duster’s pockets and places it in Emma’s free hand. From another pocket he pulls out his flask, uncorks it with his teeth, and pours a measure of rum onto the fabric. He then takes the damp scarf from Emma’s grip to dab at her wound carefully, gritting his teeth through the hiss she lets out.

“Sorry love, just need to clean the wound. Haven’t a bloody idea where that thing has been.”

“If it is anything like his breath it’s probably never been clean.”

Her eyes meet his, dancing a bit even as she is obviously in pain, and his heart thumps in his chest. Emma’s ability to make jokes proves that she has not been scarred by today. At least, not permanently.

Killian dabs at the wound for another moment before walking to his wardrobe and finding another piece of clean fabric to sop up the excess blood. It only takes a moment for the bleeding to stop and Killian steps away to inspect her neck until he is confident he has done all he can for the cut. His gaze turns to the bodice of her dress, which has drips of blood running down it. She has been wearing the same dress for almost two weeks now and he wonders if she has ever worn clothes this long in her life. He is certain she has never worn anything so ratty or unwashed.

“Let me get you a shirt to sleep in, Princess,” he murmurs, going back to the wardrobe and finding a thick black shirt. “We can make port tomorrow and I will buy you a new dress. It would not do for you to land in Arendelle wearing a bloodstained dress.”

He places the shirt on her lap. He cannot meet her eyes.

“Don’t call me that.” Her voice has gone hard and he winces.

“Call you what?”

“Princess.” She slides off of the desk, shirt falling to the floor between them, but he still cannot look at her. “Don’t call me Princess like everything has changed.”

“But it has.” Killian’s hand reaches to scratch behind his ear, a nervous habit he has never been able to shake. “If I had known you were a bloody princess I would have never-”

“What?” Her fingers grip his lapels, shaking him, forcing him to finally look at him, and he can see both anger and apprehension in her gaze. “You would have never kissed me? Never teased me? Never treated me like just another woman?”

“No, alright?” Killian’s own hand finds her waist and as he holds it he can feel himself struggling to hold on to this moment and to hold on to his resolve. “Had I known who you really were I would have treated you like you deserve to be treated. I would have left you alone and gone about my business and never felt anything more for you than the amount of gold you could put in my pocket. I would have never felt you were the first woman in a long time to make my heart work again.”

She lets out a little gasp and Killian bites his tongue too late, realizing what he has revealed. Emma does not move at first and her gaze pierces through to his soul.

“Killian,” she whispers, leaning forward and pulling him towards her at the same time. “I am glad you never treated me like a princess then.”

She kisses him, something rough and dirty and passionate, something he never would have expected to come from a princess. But Emma is not like any princess he has ever met and she does not ask for his opinion before her tongue sweeps into his mouth and her hand leaves his lapel to dig her fingernails into the back of his neck. The grip sends both pleasure and pain shooting down his spine and he growls at the sensation, moving forward and pulling her closer to him.

“Emma,” he moans against her mouth. A smile curves her lips and she pulls away slightly. “We cannot do-”

“So you can still say my name,” she whispers. That smile is now a smirk and it makes him grow hard. “And I assure you, Captain, we can.”

“It is not prop-”

“Damn propriety,” she spits back. Emma straightens her elbows to shove him an arm’s length away, examining him. “Would you still care for me if I were poor? Or if I weren’t a princess?”

“Aye.” She moves to pull him forward again but he stops her. “But how could you care for me? I am no better than Blackbeard.” His voices cracks a bit and his body starts trembling again, remembering how she had looked with Blackboard standing behind her with a dagger to her throat.

“No.” He does allow her to pull him forward again and to settle his face against her neck. “No, you are a hundred times more of a gentleman than he.”

Killian finally cries, allowing the shaking of his body to spill over and she holds him tight this time, waiting for his sobs to subside. It has been years since he trusted someone to see him weep but his heart feels lighter at the weight that has been lifted and he allows her to pull him to the bed, strip off his shirt, and settle him beneath the sheets. The light is slowly fading from the room as the sun sets. It is not night yet but his body feels exhausted and his throat is thick and dry.

The bunk shifts when she climbs in behind him, pressing her chest to his back and wrapping her arm around his waist. She is wearing the shirt that he set out for her and when her legs tangle with his he imagines that they are bare.

Killian has almost fallen asleep, safe in her grasp, when her whisper startles him back awake.

“Who was the woman he was talking about? The woman from last time?”

He swallows thickly. “Her name was Milah.” The name has not left his lips since her death and to say them again, after all this time, is another weight lifted. He can feel it, like a bird, soaring above them. Like Milah’s spirit, it looks down on him and the princess fondly. “Blackbeard killed her because I loved her.”

Emma’s fingers find his hand. “I am sorry,” she says simply. And he can tell that she is.

“She has finally been avenged,” he whispers back. “Thanks to you and your bloody resourcefulness.”

Her shoulders shake a bit and she snorts against his back. “I was just trying to stay alive.”

“Good.” Killian squeezes her fingers. “Stay that way so one day I can love you good and proper.” He pulls her palm up to her lips and kisses it gently. “Now get some sleep, Princess. Tomorrow I shall have to figure out how to dress royalty.”


 

When Emma wakes, the bed is empty. She turns, confused, wondering how Killian could have possibly snuck past her, and catches sight of the cheeky bastard looking at her with amusement as he slips on his boots.

“How the hell did you-”

Killian stands, tutting, and kisses her forehead gently. “Such language from a princess,” he teases.

Emma groans and sits up in bed to glare at him. “I shall never hear the end of this, shall I?”

“Not in the foreseeable future,” he chirps back. “Now put that abysmal dress back on. We should make port soon and you will need to wear something other than my shirt in order to go shopping.” He cocks an eyebrow when she stands up and leers at her. “Although…”

She only laughs and shoves him away. “Leave me in peace,” she grumbles. Killian chuckles again and starts making his way up the ladder. “You never told me how you got out of bed without me noticing!” she shouts at his retreating form.

“Pirate!” he shoots back before closing the hatch behind him.

Emma is still smiling when she steps on deck a few minutes later, grinning harder when he lifts his arm and tucks her against him as if it is the most natural thing in the world. She sighs into his embrace, resting her hand on his shoulder, and watches the docks get closer.

“We do not have long onshore if we are to make it to Arendelle tomorrow, love,” he whispers.

“I know,” she whispers back. Killian presses a kiss to the top of her head and her stomach flips. She is not ready to leave him. Not by half.

It is different this time, stepping onto the docks with his arm to support her, sharing glances with him and having him whisper fondly in her ear. It is different, now that they are not faking their affection. Emma is allowed to lean into him, to kiss his cheek and to smile at the way he looks at her. And when he does look at her, she knows his eyes are only speaking the truth.

Three of the crew members join them, following at a close distance, and Emma doesn’t have to ask to know that this precaution would not be in place if not for her confirmed royal status. But the men do not look at her with greed or malice, only caution and, likely due to her attack on Blackbeard the day before, respect.

A woman’s shop lies in the heart of the village, the fashions displayed in the window looking much like the clothes she had seen the last time she was in Arendelle. They must have crossed the border overnight, growing closer and closer to the royal family and to her mission’s goal. Emma clutches Killian’s arm tighter and allows him to take the lead.

There is a bright red dress he seems obviously drawn to. The fabric is thick and expensive, and though Emma would prefer something simpler, she allows him to purchase it nonetheless.

“I will add this expense to your gold tomorrow,” Emma whispers out of the corner of her mouth before disappearing behind the curtain to get changed.

“I won’t hear of it,” he shoots back shortly. From the set of his jaw, Emma is certain she will soon discover just how stubborn he can be.

His eyes light up when she emerges with the new dress on and all thoughts of their arguments go to the wayside. He smiles, something genuine and true, and beams when she holds out her hand to lay it on his arm so he can escort her.

“I have the most beautiful woman in all the realms beside me, love,” he grins as they exit the shop and step into the sunshine. Her stomach flips. “And now that you are wearing clothes that accent your loveliness, you are even more striking.” He leans in closer, eyebrow raising and eyes darkening. “Never thought I would meet someone whose looks rival mine, lass.”

Emma only shoves against him with a laugh, amused at his cheek and his constant cockiness, and he smirks the entire way back to the ship, looking for all the world like the cat that got the cream.


 

Princess Emma of Misthaven fits perfectly against his chest.

It is a delightful thing to discover after the sun has set and the stars have appeared and you are pointing out the constellations that guide you along on your never ending journeys. To discover such a thing at this time, when the princess starts to shiver and her grasp grows cold in your own, Killian is glad to tuck her against himself, her back to his front, and close his long black jacket against the both of them as he continues to whisper stories of the stars in her ear.

Killian’s cheeks are likely pink from the night winds, but beneath coat they are both warm and she finally turns around in his arms, nuding a chilly nose against his neck, and planting a kiss on the hollow of his throat.

“Take me to bed,” she murmurs.

He starts and then his arms hold her tighter. “This is the last night we have, love.” He had been hoping to make it last longer, to stay awake all night sharing stories and secrets and dreams - imagining that tomorrow would never come.

“I know,” she retorts, and then she looks up at him, gaze clear and mouth set in a line. This woman is bloody used to having her way. “That is why I want you to take me to bed.”

Killian is helpless against her.

He captures her lips for what is meant to be a short kiss but she holds him closer, hands grasping the small of his back from beneath the coat and tugging him nearer and nearer so his body feels as though it has been set on fire. Emma’s mouth moves down his throat and her nose nestles against the expansive V of his shirt, the cold skin making him shiver. He tugs on her curls until she looks up at him again, kisses her forehead, and moves her towards the Captain’s cabin.

Her feet are steady on the ladder but Killian still places a hand and a hook on her waist to help her with the final step, hating he had to pull away from her to enter the cabin in the first place. She leans into his touch and spins around to press a firm kiss to his lips. Emma’s tongue is wet and warm as it sweeps into his mouth, the sensation tightening his loins and making his hips rock forward. She moans appreciatively. Emma’s fingers find the buttons of his waistcoat and pop them open, one-by-one, her lips still fused to his own.

“How have we slept every night in this cabin,” she mutters, pulling away so he can see the frown that mars her face as she watches her fingers work, “for an entire fortnight and we have yet to see one another naked?”

“I- I am gentleman, love,” Killian falters. She has removed the waistcoat and dug her hands into his leathers to remove his shirt and tug it over his head. There is both appraisal and appreciation in her gaze as she surveys his bare chest. “See something you like, darling?”

Emma’s eyes widen as she recognizes his words from a week prior, words meant to tease her. There is no need for that now as she eagerly removes all of his clothing. Her eyes narrow again and she nods, simply. “Yes,” she says with a bit of a growl. “Very much.” Emma’s fingers find the strings in the front of her corset and she tugs to loosen them, exposing more of her breasts to the night air. “Do you see something you like, Captain?”

His response is to knock her hands away and loosen the strings himself, pulling and tugging until her breasts spill out of her dress. Her breath catches in her throat when he cups one of her smooth, creamy breasts and gently runs his thumb across the flat pink nipple. It puckers beneath his touch, as eager as the rest of her, and he watches her eyes widen in surprise and desire when he ducks his head to take the bud into his mouth. Emma’s moan is a sweet, heady sound, and he plants a damp kiss on her nipple and switches sides so he can draw the same sound when he pleasures her other breast.

“Yes,” she sighs, a hand holding him in place as she arches into him. Killian runs his hook down her leg so he can find the hem and work his way up the inside of her thigh, towards her warm center. Emma shivers against the cool metal. He chuckles. “This isn’t funny,” she grunts, but then gasps when he nudges against her folds with the curve of his hook.

“I disagree, love,” Killian whispers, giving her second nipple a harsh flick of the tongue before pulling away. “This whole situation is hilarious.” She ruts against his hook, no doubt coating it with wetness, and Killian struggles to keep the appendage still. “That a princess would desire a pirate-”

Through the folds of her beautiful red dress, Emma clutches on to his wrist to keep him in place. “Oh but I do,” she groans. She is biting her lip, eyes hazy from pleasure, and she looks quite a sight with her dress half-rucked up and her breasts bouncing slightly, nipples stiff from the cool air and his ministrations. Emma uses her free hand to tug off the rest of the laces of her corset and throw it onto the floor. She reaches for the laces on his leathers next and Killian extracts his hook from beneath her dress so he can balance himself to remove his trousers.

The way she licks her lips at the sight of his erection, bobbing proudly against his thigh, makes Killian want to take her right then. But he still fears she needs to relax, so he helps pull the dress over her head and then scoops her up in his arms to deposit her on the bed. Killian removes his hook and places it on the desk, chronicling the way she seems to pout when he does so, and lays down beside her.

“Is this your first time, Highness?”

Emma’s hand runs through his hair and she nods. She must be so used to the address that she does not notice its use.

“I shall take care of you, love,” he promises. He bends down to kiss her breasts again, lips gentle across the creamy skin, and his hand dips further to graze the golden curls between her thighs. Killian had been correct, after all, when he teased Blackbeard about the treasure this princess had here. Her skin is soft and warm and damp, trembling slightly when he circles her bundle of nerves and opening to his fingers like a perfect yellow rose.

When his finger enters her, slowly, gliding through the moisture her desire has created, he swallows her groan with his lips upon her own, tongue in her mouth. His finger thrusts carefully and precisely, waiting until she has relaxed before inserting another finger. Emma’s hips jump at that, surprised, and he pulls his face away so he can gaze down at her.

She looks peaceful - as though she could be asleep, dreaming of something pleasant and wonderful. Killian wants her to keep dreaming and dreaming forever. He moves his fingers faster, spreading them apart, and she moans again. Killian nudges her clit with her thumb and she cries out, muscles tightening around his fingers. He could make her come like this but it isn’t enough for him, not by half. And when she asked him to take her to bed, he knows that she wanted to be joined with him, body and soul.

Killian pulls his fingers out and Emma’s eyes pop open. She frowns as though he has woken her from a wonderful dream, and he erases the look off of her face with a long kiss. She is smiling again when Killian repositions himself between her legs and runs his damp fingers across his cock to coat it with her moisture.

“You trust me, lass?” He feels the need to check with her as his cock nudges against her entrance and he braces himself above her, near drowning in those wide green eyes.

“Of course I trust you,” Emma smiles right back. She bends her knees and tilts her hips, an ages-old dance deep in her bones, and as he leans down to kiss her once again, he sheaths himself inside the wet warmth of her.

“Oh love,” he moans, pulling out so he can slide back in, further, going deeper until he is fully seated. “Love you feel bloody amazing.”

Emma’s head is thrown back and her face is tight. Killian braces himself on his left arm so his right hand can stroke her cheek, waiting for her to get that peaceful look again. “I feel so full,” she chokes out, and then she looks at him again and her lower lip catches between her teeth. “So full.”

Killian’s kisses trail down her neck and to her breasts, circling the peaks, and he waits until she moans and tightens around him before he begins thrusting. He goes slowly, steadily, and then she cries out and he touches the place where they are joined and she cries out, louder.

“Oh, oh Killian,” she gasps. His hand leaves her for a moment to pull one knee around his waist. Emma gets the idea and moves her other leg, allowing him to slide deeper and harder. He touches her clit again and she shivers, tightening. “I don’t want it to stop but I want to-”

“I know, love,” he replies, panting. He shifts his hips, searching for the right angle, and when she squeals he knows he has found it. Several more thrusts and she squeezes him like a vice, shivering and shaking around him, and he just manages to hold off before she goes limp in his arms and he erupts inside of her, exhausted and spent.


 

The sun is just starting to stream through the windows in the Captain’s quarters when she awakes, naked and tangled up with Killian. He is already awake and she blinks at him, confused, before she remembers what they fell asleep after and she smiles.

“Good morning, love,” he whispers. His lips are dry from sleep when he kisses her, but she doesn’t really mind. “How did you sleep?”

“Like a rock.” Emma moans in contentment and cuddles closer against him.

“And how do you feel?”

She chuckles and drops a kiss to his collarbone. “A little sore,” she admits. She feels opened-up and used and more aware of herself than she ever has been before. “But that’s okay. How long until we dock in Arendelle?”

His chest vibrates as he hums. “Oh, by midday I imagine.”

Emma kisses his collarbone again and looks up at him, not caring how wanton she will sound. “So we have time to go again?” she asks with a raised eyebrow.

Killian looks as though he could be knocked over with a feather, eyes wide and mouth falling open. She kisses that soft, wonderful mouth of his until he kisses her back and then Emma presses against his cock, already growing hard, and grins against his lips when he rocks into her touch.

This morning, in the light of day, she likes watching him as he runs kisses down her body and braces himself between her thighs so he can caress and lick her sensitive folds. He nearly brings her to completion with his tongue on her clit and two fingers inside of her, but she pulls him away so she can pleasure him with her mouth. Killian only allows her a few minutes before his fingers dig into the back of her neck and he begs her to climb on top of him this time and to have her way with him.

She likes it, the power, the ability to look down on him and watch him marvel at her. She enjoys finding the angles that make her see stars and teasing him with her breasts just out of reach of his mouth. But most of all, she likes how it feels when he draws her own fingers to where they are joined and she touches herself in tight fast circles until she falls over that edge and drags him along.

The must doze for a bit longer, for the sun is surely out by the time they clean themselves up and step onto deck. Emma can even see the coastline, growing closer and larger with every minute, and she settles herself between Killian and the wheel so she can be near him as they steer themselves to their inevitable ending.

“I wish Arendelle were months and months away,” Emma whispers when he rests his hook on her waist. It is obvious he can feel her sorrow weighing down her shoulders and turning the corners of her mouth into a frown. “Then we would not have to part.”

“We must part eventually, Princess.”

The reminder of her status - and of his - makes something like rage boil deep within her stomach. As the crew navigate them to the dock, Emma turns in Killian’s arms to grasp his face between her two hands.

“The thing about being a princess,” she says, pursing her lips and aiming for something light and teasing in her tone, “is that I usually get what I want. A pirate wouldn’t be the most shocking thing I have brought home.”

Killian laughs, his whole face lighting up. She loves the sight and she traces the dimple that appears at his mirthful expression. Killian’s kiss is sweet, but firm, and somewhere within Emma wonders if it is to be their last.

She takes his hand in her own all the same and they step towards the plank, to where she can clearly see Grumpy standing there watching them with his signature frown. He had ridden on horseback to Arendelle, the journey only taking him a few days, and the the bag at his shoulder likely holds the rest of the gold promised to the pirate captain. Emma leads Killian towards Grumpy and only grins at him harder when he glares at their joined hands.

“That the gold?” she asks, lightly, ignoring his obvious displeasure.

“Yes it is, m’lady.”

“Good,” Emma grins back. She slides the bag off of his shoulder and hands it to Killian. “I am not the sort of princess who goes back on her promises.”

Grumpy nearly falls off of the dock in shock, while Killian almost does the same from laughter. Emma grips his hand even tighter and he squeezes back, so much emotion conveyed within the simple gesture.

“I suppose this is where I take my leave, Captain.” Emma rocks back and forth, swaying closer to him and staring at his lips and his eyes and at the set of his shoulders. He hesitates, looking as though he wants to kiss her goodbye, so she beats him to the punch and rises up on her toes to give him as good a goodbye kiss as she can manage with Grumpy grunting and the crew above them howling their approval.

“Aye, Highness,” Killian murmurs when he has recovered from her kiss. He pushes a curl behind her ear. “Except I am not a man who is used to taking orders from royalty. So whatever you must do and where ever you must go, I am not going to leave you in the charge of a single dwarf” - here Grumpy shouts, “Hey!” - “and unprotected. So you must allow me to escort you somewhere safe, love.”

Emma frowns, looking him over, but the set to his jaw is familiar and she is unlikely to get him to budge. She sighs, tucks her arm into his own, and gestures for Grumpy to lead the way.


 

Emma tells Queen Elsa of Arendelle of the brewing war with Rumplestiltskin. She does it with a straight back and proud shoulders and the command all her royal training must have provided. Queen Elsa promises to help in any way possible, and after the women embrace, they have tears in their eyes.

Killian is lucky enough to wipe the tears away with his knuckle and kiss Emma’s forehead.

“What now, love?” he whispers, holding her tight as Queen Elsa goes to fetch her younger sister and her war minister.

“I go home. Back in Misthaven we prepare for war and do all we can to protect our people.”

Killian kisses her trembling lips until she smiles, softly. “Did I tell you I used to be a naval officer?”

Her eyes widen and her lips twist into a sarcastic sort of grin. “No, you left that part out.”

“Well.” His own grin is one of scheming. “If you find yourself in need of a strategist, I would happy to lend my aid to the cause.”

“For a price?” She is clearly teasing him and he loves her for that - more than he ever thought possible.

“Of sorts,” he teases right back, and this time she kisses him, lips firm until Queen Elsa and the dwarf return with the two they had been seeking. Killian pulls away with haste but Emma makes no move to cover up her amorous moment with a pirate and Killian feels a surge of pride in her unwillingness to pretend to be anything she is not.

Princess Emma of Misthaven is the sort of woman a man would travel across the world and time for. And if she has anything to say about it, he imagines that in the coming years he will be doing precisely that.