I really wanted to post this before the new episode, but I wasn't home yesterday and I had late class tonight, which meant I didn't post it AND I haven't watched the episode yet! So here it is as soon as I could get it to you. Enjoy!

"But what about the lips? It has something to do with lips," Emma said.

She paced back and forth, hands on her hips. She had been preoccupied all afternoon trying to figure out what was going on with Hook, a little to her parents' annoyance. She had been going in circles all day.

"There could be a perfectly reasonable explanation," David said. "Maybe Hook just didn't want you to touch him."

Emma gave him a look. "I know you're my dad, but come on."

"But maybe he… I mean, you know, Emma," Mary Margaret said. "He's kind of in love with you and you haven't exactly been returning the sentiment. Maybe he just couldn't handle you being so close without being... together."

"No. Zelena did something to him. I've never seen him scared like that."

"Well, what, she cursed him? I think he would've told us!"

"Not if she told him he couldn't," Emma returned. "What if she did curse him? Or me? Oh my god, do you think she cursed me? My lips? If they touch Hook something bad will happen?" She put a hand to her mouth and started pacing again.

"I've never heard of a curse like that," David said.

"Emma, he loves you," Mary Margaret said in a soothing voice. "He would tell you if something was going on."

"He doesn't love—"

"Yes, he does," both her parents said at once.

Emma stopped and stared at them. "It's just the way he is, it's a thing we have. You know, flirting and whatever. I'm not an idiot, I know how he acts with me, but he's— he's Hook, that's how he is!"

"Emma. He loves you."

Emma looked back and forth between the two of them. She knew it was true. She had known it forever, hadn't she? It was almost a given now. Everyone in Storybrooke knew it. Emma just didn't like putting that word to it. Love. She knew she shouldn't feel surprised or shocked to hear them say it, but she just hadn't allowed herself to think those words before. He loves you.

And thinking of it like that led her to the question she didn't want to answer, the question she'd been resisting for so long. Did she love him?

Her traitorous mind summoned the image of her climbing into his bed in the middle of the night because she was worried about him, pressing up next to him until she felt safe. Of waking up holding his hand. Of the way he said good morning.

"Oh, my god," Emma said. "Ohmygod."

She stumbled backwards into a chair, gripping the table for balance. Her head was spinning. She pressed her hand over her mouth.

"I mean, we kind of thought you knew, Emma, is it really a surprise?"

"No. It's not that," Emma said. "It's—I know what I have to do."

They burst into Granny's at the exact same time, Hook through the back door and Emma through the front.

"Hook, thank god!"

"Emma!" They ran to each other and met in the middle of the room. Everyone in the restaurant looked up with alarm.

"Where have you been?"

Hook was panting. "Emma, she's coming."

Emma's eyes widened, then her mouth formed a thin line. "I thought she might be."

"You did?"

"It's okay," Emma said. "I'm ready."

"But you're not—you don't understand—"

"No, I think I do. Don't worry."

Hook grabbed her wrist. "Emma, she thinks you're powerless. Listen to me. You have to defeat her, now. Take her by surprise before she figures it out. And I have to get out of here. She can't see us together."


"Swan, listen to me. You have to be ready for her. I have to go." His face was tortured as he looked at her, his fingers still gripping her wrist. "Emma- Emma, I lo—"

The door flew open with a bang.

"Good evening, everyone!" Zelena cackled, surveying the crowd in the diner. "Nice night, isn't it? I thought you all might be missing me."

Hook had immediately moved to block Emma, but Emma, with a squeeze of his arm, stepped in front of him.

"Hello, Zelena."

"Just the person I wanted to see! Just the two people I wanted to see, actually." Zelena waved a hand at Hook. She took a few steps into the diner and looked around. "But where's my darling sister?"

"She's not here right now," Emma said. "But why don't you and I just get this over with, witch? Outside, now."

There were a few gasps from the townspeople.

"Emma, no!" Grumpy burst out from the corner.

But Emma kept her eyes on Zelena. "What's the matter? Scared?"

Zelena let out an ugly laugh. "Certainly not."

"Emma," Hook whispered. Why was she goading her?

Emma stepped closer. "Well then?"

"Mmm… How about one last kiss first?" Zelena said, waving her hand at the pair of them. "I want to see it."

"Me and Hook?" Emma said.

"Emma, no," Hook muttered through clenched teeth.

"Of course," Zelena said. "It's not like it's the first time, is it?"

Emma shrugged. "Guess not."

"I don't think you'd be surprising anyone in this room. We've all seen the way he looks at you."

That got Emma, but she wouldn't let anything break her cool façade. Instead, she turned to Hook.

"How about it, pirate?"

"Emma, don't," Hook said. Why was she acting this way?

"It's fine," Emma whispered.

"No, it isn't," Hook said, nearly begging. "You don't know, Emma, please."

"Shh," Emma said, as she had said the night before when she crawled into his bed. She slid a hand up his neck to the back of his head and drew him close. He was stiff, resistant, his breathing ragged. Emma could hear the loud silence of everyone watching, everyone terrified, but she couldn't think about them. Only Hook.

She closed her eyes, letting images of him fill her mind—of climbing the beanstalk together, of his helping them in Neverland, of their kiss, of him playing with Henry, of waking up next to him this morning. Emma opened her eyes. She saw terror in his, and tears.

"Trust me," she breathed against his mouth, and then she kissed him. She took his top lip between hers, gently, and lingered there. Her heart was pounding—what if it didn't work?—but after a moment she felt a pulse, and she grinned against his lips.

She felt the magic flood her, felt a surge of strength, and she captured his lips again, one more time, just in case, because she loved the way they tasted and she didn't know why she'd wasted so much time and she loved him—and then she pulled away and looked back at Zelena.

"Well? Happy now, Zelena?"

"Oh, very," the witch laughed. "Well, why don't we do this thing, Emma? You and me, right now, like you said. I'll even give you opening shot." She spread her arms out wide and beckoned Emma with both hands. "Come and get me."

Emma gave her a single shake of the head, a small smile forming on her mouth. "You asked for it."

Before anyone could blink, a blast of light shot out of Emma's hands and knocked Zelena flat on her back.

"What? I—I—what?" Zelena sputtered, looking around as she struggled to sit up.

"Stay right there, witch," Emma said, and zapped her legs frozen. She walked over to Zelena and squatted above her so she could look her in the eye. "True love, Zelena. It's what people like you never count on."

"True… love?" Zelena said, rage replacing incredulity on her face.

Emma shrugged with a smile. "Breaks any curse."

"You love him?"

Emma looked over her shoulder at Hook, who was standing in the middle of the diner, looking dumbstruck under the fluorescent lights. She gave him a smile and turned back to Zelena.

"Of course I do."

"You… NO!" Zelena screamed. With another yell, she broke the freezing spell. She started to clamber to her feet, but a blast of light shot at her from the side and she was on her back again.

"Not so fast, bitch."

Emma spun around to see Regina standing in the doorway, a look of hatred on her face and her arms outstretched. But Emma barely had time to smile thanks at the other woman before Zelena was getting up again. Emma blasted her, but Zelena blocked it.

"You stupid girl!" Zelena screamed, shooting a spell back. Regina blocked it as Emma threw a new one. Furious flashes of light flew across the room as the three of them began to battle.

Before, they had been sadly outmatched by Zelena. Now, Emma knew what she was doing, and together, she and Regina were stronger than Zelena. New fury at Zelena from the knowledge that her theory had been right, that Zelena had tried to use Hook to get to her, flooded Emma, and she felt new strength from the kiss, too. It had done the opposite of what Zelena had hoped. Emma had never felt so alive, never felt so much like herself as she battled the wicked woman. Emma could feel her power coursing through her, warm and strong and undefeatable. She could feel the magic, but it felt a lot like love.

Emma was panting, unable to think about anything but the magic shooting out her hands. She could somehow sense Regina's moves, and they were so in sync it was almost as if they were working with one mind. Somewhere, Emma was dimly aware of everyone watching, of the gasps and breaking glass and the snarl on Zelena's face, but the battle consumed her. They were going to finish this once and for all.

Zelena stumbled before shooting a blast of fire at them, which Regina put out before it reached them. Zelena was getting weaker. Regina raised her arms and shot a blue light out of them. Zelena dodged it. Regina tried again.

"No!" Zelena screamed. "You won't win, Regina!"

"But I will," Regina snarled, and she threw the curse again.

It met Zelena's spell in the air. The curses hit each other, creating a glowing mass where they met, sparking as each woman tried to force the other spell back. For a moment, time seemed to stand still as the sisters' magic met. They pushed against each other, Regina just barely winning as she held Zelena's spell off.

"Finish her, Emma!" Regina shouted.

But Emma already had her eyes closed, summoning the emotion for the magic. She thought of Hook, thought of them and the future, thought suddenly of his ship and the ocean, and with a great surge of effort the spell came blasting from her hands before she even knew what form it would take.

A violent wave of water headed straight for Zelena and engulfed her. With a crash, it hit the floor, taking her down with it, roiling as if it were a sea in a storm. It roared, sending up an angry spray.

"No!" Zelena screamed, sinking as the wave swallowed her. "No! No!" Her voice got smaller and smaller as the wave resolved itself into a roaring whirlpool. A mass of black and green swirled in the center as the pool spun in the middle of the floor, faster and faster, and then it was swallowed up into nothingness. She was gone.

Emma stared at the spot on the floor, breathing hard. The diner was absolutely silent for a beat.

"She's dead!" someone cried.

"The witch is dead!"

"Emma, you did it!"

There were shouts and cries all around her; Emma could hear Regina's gasp, she could hear Mary Margaret and David's tearful exclamations, but she turned to the pirate behind her, grabbed him by the coat and kissed him. Hook lifted her off the ground, pressing his lips fiercely to hers.

"I love you, Emma Swan," he said when he set her back down. He grinned at her, his arms tightening around her waist.

Emma smiled. "You might've already figured this out, but I love you too."

"How did you know?"

"I figured it out."

He was laughing. "I can't believe you figured it out."

"I hate to interrupt this happy moment, but would you mind telling the rest of us what exactly you figured out?"

Emma turned, rolling her eyes, but instead of the expression of annoyance she was expecting, she saw on Regina's face the proudest look she'd ever seen the woman wear. Regina's arms were crossed, but she was grinning.

Emma grinned back, and the two women started to walk toward each other. "Thank you, Regina."

The queen shrugged. "You did it by yourself. I told you you could."

Emma gave her a look. "We did it together. And you taught me how."

Regina appeared to struggle with her words for a minute, and then she rolled her eyes.

"Oh, screw it," she said, and pulled Emma into a hug. Emma laughed as she wrapped her arms around Regina and they swayed back and forth for a minute, both laughing, both near to crying, and then Emma felt other arms around her and her mother's face pressed to her cheek, and David's arms, and suddenly the entire town was crowding around, hugging and whooping. Grumpy started chanting Emma's name and everyone else took it up until she was laughing and begging them to stop.

As she glanced up, Emma saw Hook leaning against the counter, watching everyone. There was a small smile on his face. Emma met his eyes with a knowing smile. She jerked her head at him, and with a little laugh he walked over to her, to join the crowd. Emma squeezed his hand.

"But what happened?" Belle asked. "What was all that stuff with the kiss?"

Emma started to explain how she had figured it out—that Zelena had cursed either her lips or his, that Hook had said Zelena thought she was powerless, and when Zelena had asked them to kiss, it had confirmed Emma's theory—that their kiss was supposed to weaken her somehow, or defeat them.

"Whatever the curse was, I figured true love would break it. But I still don't know what exactly she did to Hook," Emma said.

"She… she tricked me into swearing on your name when she was pretending to be Ariel, and then she cursed my lips so that kissing you would strip you of your magic power," Hook said. "She told me if I didn't do it, or if I told you, she would start killing people in the town. When she saw us… ah, together this morning, she assumed I'd done it. That's why she came tonight. I think she was planning on getting you out of the way before carrying out the rest of her evil plan."

"But Emma knew better," Mary Margaret said, gazing up at her daughter with a look of proud adoration. "True love always wins."

"Okay, okay," Emma said, shoving her hands in her back pockets. "Why don't we celebrate? How about some drinks, Granny? For everyone!"

"Coming right up!" Granny called, scurrying behind the counter. She and Ruby started filling pints and passing them around.

"To Emma— and Regina!" Grumpy yelled when everyone had one.

"To Emma and Regina!" The room echoed, glasses in the air.

Emma felt tears filling her eyes as she looked around at everyone. Before she took a drink, she looked at Hook.

"To us," she whispered, clinking her glass against his.

The party lasted long into the night, loud and raucous. Emma didn't think she'd ever seen Storybrooke like this. Regina and Robin were leaning against the wall in the corner. Belle and Gold, who had shown up not long after, had reunited tearfully and were nestled in a booth in the back. David and Mary Margaret had disappeared for a little while and returned with Henry, telling him it was just a party, and they had left a few minutes ago to take him home to bed. Emma herself was leaning against Hook in their usual booth as just about everyone in the room took turns talking to her. Hook had been quiet, but his presence was comforting. As happy and relieved as she was, though, Emma wanted to be alone with him. She was exhausted, and she wanted to talk.

When there was a break in the receiving line, Emma turned against his shoulder and looked at him. "You want to get out of here?"

"If you do," Hook said.

"I do. Let's not make a scene about it, though." She grabbed his hand and they slipped out the back. No one noticed, or if they did, they didn't say anything.

The two of them walked quietly for a few minutes, heading towards the water.

"I can't believe you did that," Hook finally said.

"Why not? I knew the curse would break."

He looked at her. "Were you really that sure?"

Emma sighed. "No. I wasn't. Not at first. I hoped to hell I was right." She glanced over at him.

"But you believed in our love enough to do it. Enough to risk losing your power—enough to risk this entire town, your son. You were that confident in us." Hook slowed to a stop, and Emma turned to face him. There was a fire burning in his eyes like she had never seen.

"I guess I was," she said softly. She allowed her lips to tip up in a smile. "Wouldn't you have been?"

"Aye, but I never… I never knew, Emma. That you truly felt the same way."

She couldn't look away from his eyes. She opened her mouth, but nothing came out. She looked away and back at him.

"I think I always did," she finally said. "And I never knew either."

Hook grabbed her arm and pulled her to him, pressing his mouth to hers in a fierce kiss. Emma wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him desperately, in a way she'd only dreamed about. She didn't care about how it looked. She didn't care about her old fears. More than one battle had been finished tonight. She was all in.

When they broke apart, Hook pulled back and looked at her with a wondrous expression on his face. He gently tucked back a lock of her hair with his hook. He couldn't seem to stop smiling.

"What?" Emma laughed.

"Just... you figured it out," Hook said. "I didn't have to tell you."

"Your hints helped. And true love is kind of the trump card. Once I realized… It didn't matter what the curse was. The kiss would break it."

"But to figure that out you had to know you were in love with yours truly. Which I'd wager was harder for you than figuring out what Zelena's curse was." Hook cocked an eyebrow, looking at her in that way that only he could.

Emma laughed and hit him on the chest. "Shut up."

"When did you know? Have you been holding out on me?" His tone was flirtatious, but he was serious, too. He didn't want this moment to get lost in the drama of the day. She loved him. Emma Swan loved him, and she was admitting it.

Emma dropped her gaze. "I don't know," she said. "It was something Mary Margaret said about you loving me this morning. Suddenly it all just clicked. Everything added up, and I... I knew," she said, her eyebrow going up the way it did when she was particularly earnest.

Hook could see a flicker of fear behind that carefully maintained confidence as she met his eyes. He swept his fingers through her hair and pressed a kiss to her forehead. A tiny smile turned up his lips.

"You saved us," he said quietly.

Emma looked into his eyes. Words like this were usually hard for her, but she wanted to say them tonight.

"We saved us," she said quietly. "And you saved me. I never did thank you for bringing me back to Storybrooke. For my memories. For... everything."

"Oh, Swan." Hook brushed his lips against hers. Emma returned the tiny kiss, feeling tears welling up behind her eyes. Hook tugged on her lower lip, then his tongue swept across it, and they became lost in the bliss of each other. Emma moaned against his mouth as she wrapped her arms around him. Could this be real? No villain, no evil, just Storybrooke, this insane town that she had grown to call home, and Hook, and all the things they could finally say.

After a long time, Hook's lips made his way to her ear. "Let's go home."

Emma pulled back to look at him. "Are you going to protest if I try to get in your bed again tonight?"

Hook laughed, a rich, happy sound. He tightened his arms around her waist. "I would protest if you didn't."

A spark flew between them, and Emma held his eyes. She was so certain of what she wanted, so happy—so free. She swallowed as she realized what it was: the first time she'd felt free in a very, very long time.

She smiled at Hook. "Then let's go."

The End

For now, anyway... I have really loved writing this story and am open to continuing in some way, but I don't know where I would take it at the moment. Feel free to send requests/prompts in your reviews (or message me) and maybe something will strike my fancy! In the meantime, thank you so much for the reviews/faves/follows, I am so glad people liked this story!