Emma tied back her hair then sorted through her weapons chest to arm herself. Sliding a dagger into her boot, she took a deep breath and listened to how her body felt this morning.
For two weeks the nausea came and went at all hours of the damn day. Peanut had a lot of opinions about food: bacon yummy and mutton disgusting, leading to plenty of upchucking. Baby didn't care about the time of day or location so chamber pots had been placed in every room. The dwarves took the task seriously as no one wanted a repeat of when she used a window and accidentally splattered her dinner all over a dwarf.
Thankfully Bashful was the forgiving type.
It had been five days since Emma had been to the castle most of her time devoted to rebuilding the island. It was coming along quickly and Henry was running out of time to come up with a proper name for the island, or the castle. Whichever. Either way, right now she had sheriffing to do, family time to make up and a ball to attend later.
She was determined that sword practice would be part of today’s to do list.Though her body continued to adjust she was finally feeling good.
Emma stretched one last time and grabbed some food from the platter that always seemed to find its way into her room in the morning. If her mother and Regina weren't distracted by the ball, they’d have placed several road blocks between her and the practice grounds. Luckily, she could hide any training and all of her more physical activities on the island from the two smotherers.
Emma smiled as she came around the side of the practice ring, listening to her father and son banter back and forth. When the pirate's voice joined in, she started to turn back but it was too late.
"Mom!" Henry called out to her.
Emma walked over to join the group. "Hey kid," she said, squeezing his shoulder with one hand. "It's good to be back. Looks like you're improving."
"A concentrated study of any number of techniques is required to become a truly good swordsman," the pirate asserted, leaning back against the bench. "Master Henry has come quite a ways. Although he has a deplorable habit of fighting fair."
Emma frowned and looked at her son intently.
"If only you weren't in such a delicate condition, I'd challenge you to a match. I don't think you fight fair."
Emma's hostile glare raked the pirate over quickly before turning her back on him. Ignoring his challenge she opened her mouth to ask her father to go a round when the pirate spoke again.
"I suppose a pirate is beneath you," he added.
Emma felt her cheeks burn as she could picture it quite clearly in her head, or her bed. Bastard was probably smirking.
Mostly he wasn’t done yet. "Not worthy of fight.”
Her teeth started grinding when he bit out the t on the last word. She glanced over her shoulder to scowl at him. "You will lose, pirate."
Number one on her list of things she wasn't supposed to do: make direct eye contact.
"Don't be ridiculous." Killian stood and sauntered her way. "While we can't have the answer as to which of us would emerge triumphant, a blind man wouldn't bet on you, princess, even if you weren't, um, so delicately indisposed." With that he bowed and walked away. He didn’t get far.
"Walking away from a pregnant woman?" She taunted. "Chicken?"
Check on number two of things Emma was not supposed to do around Killian: challenge him.
"I don’t know what that means and this may be hard to believe considering your views on pirates," he sneered at her. "But I don't wish to fight you like this."
Emma rolled her eyes. "I am pregnant not dying or sick or incapable. Plus it's not like it's a fight to the death, just a little practice round." She took Henry's practice sword from him and turned toward the pirate. "And I've been practicing."
"Emma," her father interrupted. "If your mother finds out…"
"Don't worry it's all on me." Emma tested the balance on the practice sword. "Land without Magic knowledge facts for old guys: a pregnant woman is able to keep doing whatever exercise she's been doing unless experiencing problems with her pregnancy. So, pirate." She bowed, sword extended towards him. "Want to show me what you got?"
Killian looked over his shoulder at her. Emma smirked up at the pirate from her position and their glances held. She flushed with pleasure at the obvious fascination on his face. God, she could remember the times when her walls were up and she did her best to ignore it, deny his feelings for her. Now, she missed him, them, and she basked in it.
The long stares into each other's eyes created uncomfortable silence in her father and son. Charming coughed and Emma remembered why she had a list of things not to do around the pirate but it was too late as she watched any worry about fighting a pregnant woman melt away under her reassurances.
Killian turned back with a flourish and came to stand in front of her. Toe to toe. Emma tried to look calm and ready to fight as she calculated her chances. The whole not fighting fair thing was accurate, too. She had never been a trained fighter; she was a street kid and a brawler. So no, she didn't fight fair. If she had to Emma would punch, kick, pull hair, and bite.
She looked down at the sword and shivered. This little match meant having Killian’s attention focused on her and only her. A big mistake but after so long without him, she simply couldn’t resist. It also occurred to her that she'd probably get to lay hands on her husband. A snort escaped Emma.
"You find this funny princess?" Killian asked her as he swung his long black coat from his shoulders.
She rolled her eyes and decided given half a chance she was going to punch him in the face.
He took her father's wooden sparring sword and swung it. "There will be rules, your highness."
"Why when you call me your highness, do I hear brat?"
"Because you're quite perceptive?” He bowed at her. “There still needs to be rules as I don't want to be killed by your father. Embarrassing way to go, done in by someone named Charming."
The king shrugged, because, of course, it was true.
"If you hit the ground in any way, I will be waiting till you stand. If you get tired, the match is over. Also if your father sees fit to call a halt, we both stop." He rolled his eyes with a grimace. "And if you need to puke for the gods’ sake – do not puke on me."
"Ohhh, I don't know. Puking on you would be like an automatic win."
"Totally worth it."
He snapped to attention and raised a brow. She assumed a similar position and they both bowed before assuming a ready stance. They started slow, circling each other step for step.
"Come on pirate, make your move." Emma glared as he smiled, his tongue moving over his teeth and poke at the corner of his lips. Dammit. Her blush spread across her cheeks and down her neck.
"You couldn't handle it," he said with a grin.
Emma paled at those words and stepped forward swinging her sword at the pirate with a yell. He parried and pushed forward, slicing through the air. She moved back and let her momentum spin her full circle sweeping her sword up. It crashed against his but he forced her to retreat back again. She shifted farther out of his reach.
"Running, highness?" Again, he hit her with that damn sexy smirk.
"Not from you," she said through gritted teeth. "Never from you." The phrase whispered out of her and he blinked at her not quite believing his ears. Emma took the opening and began a barrage of thrusts and parries, trying to push him around the practice ring. He met each one barely giving any ground. His brows lowered in concentration and nothing existed for either of them outside the match. Emma reveled in the intensity of his concentration. It made her pulse pound harder than the exercise.
In the center of the ring they met over crossed swords, the wood grinding as they met face to face. The pirate looked down to study her. Emma raised her chin, refusing to run away or let up on the push of her sword against his. Still, another blush swept over her face under his steady regard and the damn pirate smiled, slowly letting his tongue slide over his teeth before biting his lower lip.
Emma groaned and pushed away enough to punch him in the face. He fell back, his sword lowered in shock and shaking away the pain. She moved farther from him, taking slow, deep breaths to get rid of the attraction, the need she felt to grab hold of her pirate.
"Nice jab love."
"Don't call me that."
This time he attacked first. They danced around the practice ring, the wooden swords filling the air with loud thwacks. Emma attempted to trap the pirate back into a corner but he found an opening, flicked her sword away and swirled around gracefully to escape. Emma growled at him and he laughed with pure delight.
"It lacks a certain drama without the coat swishing about," he said a wide grin.
"We can pause if you need a costume change." Emma sneered.
"Why would I do that when I'm winning?" Killian smiled back at her and advanced on her with a new attack.
He moved in a circle around her, constantly ducking under her parry and twisting around to hit again. Finally on an unexpectedly quick turn Killian managed to catch her from behind, holding her body against his and angling his sword across her body. He held her there, his breath quick and harsh in her ear. Emma's heart beat picked up as she savored the feel of his arms around her even as she struggled.
"See princess," he whispered in her ear. "I win."
"Thanks for that." Emma elbowed him hard in the gut as the heel of her boot stomped his instep. Within his loosed grip she turned and smiled up at him before kneeing him in the balls.
The pirate landed on the ground with a muffled groan. Emma kicked his sword away and placed the tip of hers at his throat. He glared up at her and put his hands up in surrender.
"Apparently, I wasn't the one who couldn't handle it." Emma lowered her sword and backed away, trying to slow her racing heart.
"I was right though," he called out in a hoarse voice.
Emma kept backing away.
"You don't fight fair."
She stopped abruptly and turned around, catching the horrified look on her father's face and resignation on her son's. She winced and opened her mouth for an explanation which she didn't have.
"Appalling and shocking in a princess," Killian wouldn’t shut up, slowly getting back on his feet. "But you'd make one hell of a pirate."
Emma closed her eyes, happy to be facing away, tears pooling in her eyes. She shook the pain away and blinked.
"Yeah, I don't really know about fighting fair," A bitter smile twisted her lips. "But I'm not a pirate, or a princess really. I'm the savior and I will protect those I love." She nodded to herself and walked away. "I have work, boys. See you at lunch."