Emma hurried beside Killian, her skirts flying behind her as they ran, leaving an irate Liam behind them.
After the boys being in the castle for only a year, Emma and Killian had become inseparable, often playing and going out together. Emma finally had someone else her own age she could be with, and Killian got to just be a child for the first time.
The two had developed a love of pulling pranks, usually with Liam or Grumpy being the victim. Their most recent involved Emma distracting Liam while Killian poured ink in his tea, resulting in Liam's blackened mouth.
Snow and David had found the whole thing amusing, more so than Liam, who had flushed red from annoyance and embarrassment, leading to him chasing after Emma and Killian.
"C'mon," Emma said, tugging on Killian's hand to lead him towards the garden.
He followed easily, letting her pull him to behind some of the tall shrubs beside the pond. They ducked down, listening to Liam's running footsteps pass their hiding spot before breaking into fits of laughter.
"Did you see his face? Killian laughed.
"Forget his face, did you see his teeth?" Emma responded, clutching at her stomach.
He grinned widely in response. "Aye. He's not gonna be happy for quite a while."
Releasing another chuckle, she carefully peeked over the hedge seeing the coast was clear. "He's gone."
They both stood up, checking the area before stepping so they stood beside the pond. She reached out, gripping his hand with hers as they walked along the water.
She loved spending time with just Killian, whether it be making mischief or just being together. He complimented her in every way, always being there for her however she needed him.
"Do you think we'll still do stuff like this when we're older?" she asked him curiously.
"Yeah," he answered honestly. "I think we'll still do stuff like this together."
She smiled brightly at him before her face fell slightly. Despite her age, she knew what was to be expected of her as she got older.
"What's wrong?" he asked, noticing her shift in expression.
"Just what I have to do when I'm older," she told him.
He nodded in understanding.
"I'll have to rule the kingdom," she said sadly. "And everyone will want me to find a husband."
The idea of being with another man who was a prince or someone of status was off putting, especially with the idea that when it happened, she wouldn't be able to get all of the time she wanted with Killian. Despite him being in her life for only a year, she couldn't imagine her life without him. He meant everything to her.
"I'll marry you," he promised. "That way we can always be together."
Looking back at him, she knew what she felt for Killian was more than friendship, that their bond was stronger, even if she didn't know what it was.
Preparing herself, she closed the distance between them, lightly kissing his lips.
Surprised, Killian stiffened before relaxing, squeezing her hand still held in his.
She pulled away, both smiling widely, as they kept their hands clasped together to continue walking.
Blinking awake, Emma saw the images from her sleep flashing in her mind's eye, more memory than a dream.
They had been nine when they both had their first kiss, when Killian had promised her that he would one day marry her.
Slowly, she got up, seeing that breakfast had already been delivered to her. Peeking out the windows, she saw it was late morning, having slept late in her exhaustion and condition.
Feeling her stomach begging for food, she sat at the table, ravenously digging into the food. She noticed a small thing of ginger root beside her plate, making her smile and her chest warm.
A knock sounded on the door, briefly interrupting her.
"Come in," she nervously called.
Killian slipped through the door, stepping into the sunlit cabin. "Morning, love."
"Morning," she greeted. "I'm sorry I slept late."
He waved off her apology. "Don't worry, Swan. You need the rest."
Slowly, she nodded, continuing to eat. "Did you find somewhere?"
"Yeah," he nodded, taking the seat opposite her. "It's further into town, but it will do. Can you be ready in an hour?"
Emma nodded. "Yeah, that's no problem. What do we do after?"
"Come back here, and set off for our kingdom," he replied simply. "I'm sure your family has been missing you, and it would be better if you're back there and settled by the time the baby comes."
"Okay," she replied easily as she finished.
Just as she stood, she felt a little flutter in her stomach. A wide smile spread across her lips, catching his attention.
"Swan?" he asked, his brow raised.
She lovingly covered her stomach with her hand. "I felt them move just now."
He gently grinned at her as he stepped forward, his eyes on her stomach.
She thought she caught an expression that almost looked like longing cross his features, but it disappeared, leaving her unsure.
"They're quiet, now," she said sadly. "Probably just stretching."
Nodding, he brushed his fingers along her hand before pulling away.
He left her alone to get ready, going back up on deck. She quickly went through what clothes she had, settling on a pale blue gray dress she could wear without a corset. It wasn't extravagant, but it would do for the occasion. She put her hair up in a simple style, wanting to at least look a little bit done up. Her only jewelry was the swan necklace Killian had given her, the one piece she refused to part with.
Mindful of her skirts, she stepped up onto the deck, blinking in the winter sunlight as she searched for Killian.
Seeming to sense Emma looking for him, Killian turned from where he was speaking with one of the men to meet her on the quarterdeck.
"Are you ready, Swan?" he asked her.
She nodded, knowing she was giving her baby their best chance, as well as possibly protecting Killian. "I am."
He offered his arm to her, walking with her down to the main deck. He nodded towards one of the crew members, a short, portly man with a red wool cap that Emma recognized as Smee, one of the lower ranking officers, indicating for him to follow.
"We need a witness," Killian murmured to her quietly.
She nodded in understanding.
Their trip was quiet, both nervous as they walked through the town to where Killian found the chapel. She felt a sudden shot of nervousness as the building came into view.
"Ready, love?" Killian asked her quietly as they stood just outside the doors.
Taking a deep breath, she nodded. "Yeah. You?"
He nodded. "Aye."
Stepping inside, he released her so he could pass on whatever money was necessary for the small ceremony. As soon as the priest gave a nod that he was ready for them, Emma took Killian's outstretched hand and walked up the alter.
She didn't hear most of what was said by the priest, instead looking at Killian. She snapped out of her thoughts when he shifted to face her.
"Do you, Killian, take this woman to be your wife, and love her for all eternity?" the priest asked.
"I do," Killian responded, keeping his gazed locked with her before he looked down at their joined hands, releasing her to pull a ring from his coat.
Gently, almost tenderly, he slipped the ring on her finger before taking her hand back in his. The ring was a perfect fit, resting comfortably on her ring finger.
She recognized the ring, an engraved silver band with a single blue sapphire in the center that he had worn on a chain around his neck. Upon closer inspection, she saw the metal was adorned with small swans, their heads and necks together to form the shape of a heart. It was the only thing he had when she met him.
The priest turned to Emma. "Do you, Emma, take this man to be your husband, and love him for all eternity?"
Looking back at Killian, she quickly thought about what the vows meant. She knew she did love him, before she settled on him just being her friend when he moved on from his childhood crush on her and she moved on from him.
"I do," she responded, keeping her eyes locked with the blue eyes of her first love.
"I now pronounce you husband and wife," the priest announced.
Killian closed the distance between them, lightly kissing her.
Her skin burned at the contact.
Keeping his hand in hers, he walked them out of the chapel, soothingly running circles into the back of her hand with his thumb.
"Everything is gonna be okay, Swan," he promised. "We'll get you back home, and everything will be okay."
Emma nodded, keeping quiet on their trip back to the ship.
As they neared, it became clear that the crew was lively, obviously wanting to celebrate their captain's nuptials.
"You don't have to stay above," Killian whispered quietly. "I can tell them you're not feeling well, or some excuse, and you can go down and rest."
"No, it's okay," she responded. "We have to make this look real, don't we?"
Watching her carefully, he nodded. "We do."
Prepared to play her part, Emma followed him up the gangplank, only to be met with excited yelling from the crew. Taking Killian's hand, she gave a demure nod in thanks at the men's congratulations.
"I think we can afford one day," Killian whispered in her ear. "I don't doubt after a couple hours, they'll be too drunk to hit the side of the ship."
Biting back a laugh, she nodded.
Finally deeming it late enough to go back to the captain's cabin, Emma relished in the warm room, the cold night air having permeated her cloak. Removing the heavy garment, she hung it up on a peg before searching for something suitable to sleep in.
Just as she gave up on her task and removed her dress to sleep in her chemise, the hatch above opened, catcalls coming through as Killian decended the steps.
He looked at her apologetically as he closed the hatch, coming to stand in the cabin.
"Sorry about that," he apologized sheepishly. "Just ignore them."
Realizing what he was hinting at, she felt herself redden as she nodded.
"How're you feeling?" he asked her as he moved to hang up his coat.
"Fine," she answered, sitting on the bunk. "Just tired."
He nodded as he moved closer to grab a black garment on the foot of the bed. "I'll be right back."
"Just change, Killian," she snorted. "I'll turn around. Besides, what if one of the crew sees you going out of the cabin to change?"
He sighed, knowing he was right.
She turned her back to him, looking at the books that lined one of the shelves as she heard the rustle of material behind her.
"You can turn around," he told her after a moment.
Looking back, she saw he had kept his shirt on, but had removed his waistcoat and changed his leather trousers for a pair of loose black linen pants.
He reached down to grab one of the extra blankets resting on the trunk beside the bed. "You take the bed, love. I'll take the chair."
"That's not fair," she argued. "This is your cabin. I'll take the chair instead."
"You're carrying a child," he said simply. "You've been traveling for over the last month. Swan, just take the bed."
Sighing, she reached out towards him, her fingers brushing his arm. "We could just share. It's not like we haven't before."
He looked at her, his own nerves apparent. "Would that be proper?"
Giving him a small smile, she shrugged. "When have we ever been ones for propriety?"
He released a chuckle, his features relaxing. "True."
Moving closer, he sat on the edge beside her before glancing down at his wrist.
"It's hurting, isn't it?" she asked him quietly.
"A bit," he admitted.
Carefully, she reached out, gently pulling his arm closer to her. "Here."
"Emma," he protested. "Don't. You don't have to see that."
She looked up, meeting his gaze. "It's fine. Please just let me do this? To make up for not being here to help you when it happened."
Slowly, he nodded, his eyes never leaving her.
Resting his arm on her lap, she pushed up his shirt sleeve, revealing the straps and buckles keeping his brace on. She quickly figured out how to undo it, loosening it and gingerly pulling it from his arm, revealing a thin layer of linen bandages beneath. Glancing at him once, she began unraveling them until the wound was exposed.
Emma felt the air leave her lungs as she looked at his wrist, seeing it was still healing. The skin where it had healed was an irritated red from the compression on the brace. Shiny scars braceleted where his hand should have been, evidence of the wound being cauterized. Where the skin hadn't yet grown over was completly raw, healing flesh surrounding the exposed bone that had dried and become brittle, flaking away to allow the flesh and skin to heal over it.
Rising from the bed, she went to the basin, soaking a cloth in cool water and bringing it back to him to try to relieve some of the irritation.
Killian winced slightly when she touched the wound, making her wonder how he was able to keep the leather brace on, let alone what he did for the pain.
"You shouldn't have that thing on," she chastised lightly. "This would heal a lot easier if you didn't wear it."
He shook his head. "I'm a captain now, Swan. I can't show any signs of weakness. The most that I'll even let the medic do is give me new bandages."
Careful of her ministrations, she looked back at him, asking a question she had been wondering about. "What do you do for pain?"
His smirk looked more like a grimance. "I've developed quite a taste for rum."
She swallowed, feeling her chest ache.
"Killian, I know it's not much, but do you want me to finish healing this?" she asked, wanting to do something to ease his discomfort.
Smiling sadly, he shook his head. "It's alright. It's nearly healed, anyway. There's no use using your magic."
"But if you're hurting, it will help," she pointed out.
"I'm used to it," he replied. "Don't worry about me, love. I'm a survivor. You know that."
Sighing, she continued to gently go over his wrist before discarding the cloth to gently massage the flesh and remove the flecks of brittle bone that were shedding.
He stiffened when her fingers touched him. "Emma, you don't have to do that. You don't have to touch it."
She shook her head as she continued to gently work over his skin. "I want to, Killian. You know I care about you. That means I want to be able to take care of you."
Finally allowing himself to relax, Killian sighed in relief.
"While you're in her at least, will you leave the hook off and let me take care of it?" she asked in a small voice.
Unable to deny her, he nodded, grinning when she smiled in triumph.
"How long will it take us to get back?" she asked quietly.
"If conditions are in our favor, maybe two weeks at most," he replied. "Plenty of time for you to get settled back in and prepare for your little one."
Emma smiled, knowing her baby would be taken care of.
She rose to retrieve some of the clean linen bandages from beside the basin before sitting back in her spot beside him. Bringing his arm back in front of her, she began to wrap it for him.
Carefully tucking the ends away so it wouldn't unravel, she rested her head on his shoulder, closing her eyes.
"C'mon," he said quietly, pressing a light kiss to her hair before pulling away to crawl into the bunk.
He took the side beside the wall, letting her have the open side. Mindful of his arm, she settled beside him, their sides pressed together. It wasn't uncomfortable with him so close to her, instead familiar from the many times they had fallen asleep together as children.
Many times, particularly when Killian and Liam had first been taken in, Emma had awoken to Killian wandering the halls, unable to sleep. Taking it upon herself to help him, she would either bring him back into her room or follow him to his room where they would fall asleep together. Even after he had finally gotten used to his new home, they continued to seek each other out, whether for nightmares or if the other wasn't feeling well. Both Snow and David, after getting over their initial panic whenever they found one of the children to be missing from their beds, had learned quickly to always check the other's room, always finding them cuddled up together.
"This was a lot easier to do when we were kids," she remarked, releasing a small laugh.
"Yeah, it was," he chuckled.
He lightly nudged her to turn toward him, to which she immediately curled into his side. She draped her arm over his waist to secure herself to him while he extended his blunted arm out behind her.
"Is this okay?" Killian asked cautiously, peering down at her.
"Yeah," she answered from her spot on his shoulder. "Are you comfortable? What about your arm?"
"I'm fine," he told her. "Don't worry about me. Just rest, Swan."
Humming, Emma nodded. "Night, Killian."
"Night, love," he responded.
She barely heard him as she fell asleep.