It was the sound of a door slamming that woke her. Through the thin walls she could hear people in the other rooms, the sounds of distant footsteps and muffled voices as they got up to go about their day. Reluctantly, Emma opened her eyes. The pale beams of light coming through the cracks of the window shutters were the only light in the room. The fire must have died out completely sometime in the night, not that it mattered. Emma didn't wake up once after she fell asleep last night.
Suddenly Emma was all too aware of the arm wrapped snugly around her ribs, of the other arm she was somehow using as a pillow and of Hook's face tucked intimately against the back of her neck as he breathed into her ear.
She sat up, abruptly dislodging Hook's arm as she threw off the blanket and got out of the bed. She ignored Hook's confused sound of protest as she grabbed her boots and stalked over to the chair in the corner.
"Well, good morning to you too," he muttered groggily.
"Storms over," she told him as she sat down. She glanced up at him as he she pulled on her boots. He was sitting up on one elbow, hair mussed up in odd angles and he had a red crease on his face, starting from the right cheek bone and leading all the way down the corner of his lip. Emma felt her face flush slightly as she remembered the kiss last night. Now, in the light of day it seemed like such a careless, foolish thing to do.
Hook seemed to read her mind. "What? No kiss good morning?" he teased, meeting her eyes with a smirk.
She ignored him, looking down instead to focus on zipping up her right boot.
"You know Swan," he said as he got up, "you really are the master of the mixed signal."
She couldn't disagree.
They were quiet as they got ready. Hook's back was to her as stood on the other side of the bed, screwing the silver hook back into place before sitting back down on the edge of mattress and slipping on his own boots.
Emma bit her lip. The silence felt heavy between them and she felt like she should say something to apologize or explain but she had no words to do so. She stood up, grabbing her leather jacket. "Look," she started, and he looked up over his shoulder as he slipped his own coat on. "I just… I need to focus on getting home. It's the only thing that matters right now."
The smile he shot her over his shoulder was sad. "I know," he said quietly. "Now, we better go before the owner comes in to kick us out." He tugged the collar of his coat in place and then headed for the door.
Somehow, Emma didn't feel any better.
The tension between them eased during the walk from the tavern to the city. It was an easy—if muddy—walk along a wide dirt road, and they shared the journey with several other people from the tavern, as well as the few carriages and wagons full of goods that passed them along the way.
"So am I going to see these pickpocketing skills of yours?" Hook asked as the gates to the city came into view.
Emma tried to ignore it as another group of people stared in confusion at her clothes. "First things first," she muttered. "We have to get me something else to wear."
Hook paused in the street to look her up and down. "Hm. You do stand out a bit, love."
Emma rolled her eyes at his playful leer. "Exactly. And the key to successful pickpocketing is blending in. So," she sidled up to him, slapping a hand down on his shoulder as she peered up at him with a smile. "Time for a wardrobe change."
"And how are we going to manage that?" Hook asked as she walked on ahead of him.
Emma turned around, holding up the small leather pouch of coins she'd slipped out of his pocket. "With this, I'd imagine," she grinned as she walked backwards through the gate.
Surprise flickered across his face as he automatically reached into his coat pocket. "Well, Swan," he began, voice impressed, "it seems you do have some skill at that."
"Another key to successful pickpocketing:—"she tossed the pouch back to him "—distraction."
He caught the pouch easily, and his face broke into a smile. A real one, Emma was pleased to note. "Alright, Swan," he chuckled as he slipped the pouch back into his pocket, "I'll follow your lead."
They used the last of Hook's money at a small stand in the market, purchasing a threadbare gray dress and a blue cloak that Emma slipped on over her jeans and tank top in an empty alley behind a butchers shop. She stuffed her sweater and leather jacket in a small satchel they bought and then headed back out into street, ready to blend in to the masses.
Hook smiled when he caught sight of her, eyeing the tattered dress and mud stained cloak. "If I didn't know better I would say you were from here."
"Technically, I am," she muttered distractedly. She was eyeing the crowd on the busy street, looking for a target. She didn't like the idea of stealing from someone who couldn't afford to lose anything but in this part of the market there didn't seem to be too many people of wealth walking around. According to Hook the wealthier crowd liked to stick to the shops and booths in the center of the city, and therefore close to the castle where there were plenty of armed guards around. Which wasn't an ideal situation for pickpocketing.
Finally, she spotted someone. He was a middle aged man with a bright blue tunic and shiny new leather boots and when he passed by the stand selling fresh fish he pulled out a bright white handkerchief and held it up to his nose with a look of distaste.
Perfect, she thought. He looked rich enough to make the job worth it, but also out of place enough that he might not suspect anything. Emma nodded her head at the man and Hook followed her gaze, a smirk forming on his lips when he caught sight of her target.
"Well, Swan, let's see what you got."
She didn't reply, instead just shooting him a confident smile of over her shoulder as she slipped into the crowd.
Emma planned out the theft in her head as she walked down the street. She couldn't just slip a hand into his pocket as she passed him by—most men seemed to have a small coin purse tied to their belt instead, which required a lot more effort—so she decided to go with a classic. She pulled the front of her dress down a bit and untied the strings at the top to lower neckline and then she ducked her head down and clutched the satchel in front of her, speeding up her steps, as if she were in a hurry.
She collided into the man with a calculated force: just hard enough that his arms reached out automatically to catch her, but not hard enough to knock them both down.
"Oh! I'm so sorry," she gasped out. "I wasn't looking where I was going." Though she still the bag in one hand, her other hand had gone to his side when she ran into him, as if she were trying to catch her balance.
Predictably, his focus immediately landed on her chest and the cleavage she was showing off. "No, no, you're fine. The fault was mine," he muttered to her chest.
Emma wanted to roll her eyes but smiled up at him instead as her right struggled with the knot to the leather pouch he wore. It was tied tighter than she thought. "It really was my fault. I was in a hurry and I wasn't paying attention."
The man shrugged. "There was no harm done." He started to step back.
The knot still wasn't untied so Emma pressed forward, stopping his movement. "Uh, I should thank you," she blurted out. "For—for catching me, I mean." She gave him a shy smile and looked up at him through her lashes, making sure to push her chest forward just a little bit more as the string finally came loose from his belt.
"You're very welcome." A slight blush formed on his otherwise palled cheeks and Emma smiled wider as she slipped the small purse into the satchel.
"Thanks again," she murmured and the slipped by him, walking quickly down the narrow street. She kept going until she felt she was far enough away and then she turned down an alley, following it to the next street so she could double back to where Hook was waiting.
He was still by the butcher's shop, leaning on the outside of the building, one foot propped up against the brick wall as he surveyed the street. She smiled broadly at him when he caught sight of her, shaking the leather pouch in the air.
He raised an eyebrow at her. "That was you blending in?"
"No, that was me being distracting." She tossed him the purse.
"I'd say you are at that," he muttered, eyeing her the changes she made to her dress.
She slapped him lightly on the shoulder. "Enough. We still aren't done. I don't want to keep doing this when we should be focusing on getting home so let's just get enough to last a while."
"Fine. But this time," he pushed off the wall with a wicked grin, "I get to join in the fun."
They headed further into the city, where the goods sold were made up of clothes, leather and jewelry instead of food and the streets were more crowded and filled with people in more brightly colored clothing and heavier purses. Emma didn't collide into anymore men since Hook turned out to be deft with a knife, easily slicing though the strings of several coin purses as he pushed pass the men in the crowd, and she showed off her own skills: targeting the men with coats instead of tunics. She slipped her hand inside their pockets as they stopped to talk to someone on the street or as they were haggling with a merchant and then disappearing back into the crowd, prize clutched in her palm.
It felt a game: catching each other's eyes over the crowd as they spotted a new target, presenting their stolen coins to each other in the back alleys with a smile, constantly trying to one up on another, to be better or faster or sneakier than the last time. By the time she was distracting an older gentleman at the jewelry stand—earnestly asking him his opinion on a copper bracelet she told him she was going to buy for her mother—she had a hard time keeping a straight while Hook moved into place behind him.
"You see I've been saving up all year for her birthday," she elaborated her story, not missing the doubtful glance he had shot her somewhat tattered dress, "and I just want it to be perfect." She almost broke character as she saw Hook pretending to seriously study a rack of dainty silver headbands, forcing back the smile that tried to fight its way to her lips.
The man tutted at the bracelet. "I don't know, my dear, this bracelet is rather large and if she is as tiny and delicate as you then it will probably take away from her." He smiled at her in what he must have thought was a charming way and Emma tried not to pay attention to Hook as he brushed up against the man and then walked away, no doubt with a leather pouch in hand.
"You're right," she said hastily, dropping the bracelet back down on to the table. "I'll just keep looking. Thank you!" Then she darted off, laughter bubbling up in her chest as she left the confused man and merchant to follow Hook.
He dropped the coin purse into the now heavy satchel when she met up with him. "I think we may have gone overboard, love," he said laughingly as he eyed the bulging bag.
"You don't know how long we may have to stay here. We need to prepared," she argued. She didn't want to admit that for last hour she'd really just been keeping it up because it was fun.
She was having fun. A lot of it. Somehow this morning had reminded her of when she was younger-back when she wasn't a mother or a sheriff or the Savior, and she was just Emma: out in the world and enjoying her freedom.
Still, she thought as she slipped the heavy bag over her shoulder, he was probably right. "Okay," she agreed, "no more. We have enough."
"Not quite." She raised her eyebrows questioningly and he grinned, slipping his hand in his pocket and pulling out something silver. "For you." He dipped into a small bow, arm outstretched as he presented it to her. It was a tiny silver headband, the metal woven into delicate strands and twisted to form the shapes of flowers and leaves. Emma recognized it as one of the pieces Hook and had been looking at while she was distracting the older man.
"Hook!" She snatched the headband from him, looking around to make sure no one saw he had it. "We were only supposed to pickpocket enough to live off of, not steal unnecessary jewelry from struggling merchants!"
He straightened out of the bow, dropping his hand. "I'm a pirate, love. I don't exactly draw the line at pickpocketing. Besides," he continued, "I saw the jeweler hit the errand boy earlier." Hook shrugged as he said it, as if it only mattered as an excuse, but there was an edge of tight anger to his voice.
Emma looked down, fingers tracing lightly over the headband. A pirate he may be, but he certainly wasn't as simple as he like to claim.
"Here," he stepped closer, gently taking the band from her hands. "Allow me." He reached up and placed it on her head and as he tucked it into her hair he looked down at her with a pleased, almost proud smile.
Emma's breath caught, all of sudden vividly reminded of a similar situation.
Sitting in the bug with Neal as he turned to her, proud smile on his face and the swan keychain dangling from his hand.
She quickly stepped back, her good mood gone. "Come on," she muttered, avoiding his eyes, "we might as well find some place to stay before all the rooms fill up."
"You're not serious," Emma ground out in frustration. "You really have only one room left?" She was leaning across the bar of the fourth—fourth—inn they had tried and still no luck. It wasn't even late afternoon yet and it seemed like every place was either filled up or had only one room available.
The owner shot her a bored look. "That's right. Only one room, and you are lucky we have that. What with the ball in a couple of days every room in the city is going to be taken."
At that Hook, who had been oddly quiet since they left the alley, leaned forward, brows creased. "What ball?"
The owner looked at him like he was an idiot. "The royal ball of course. King George is announcing his son's engagement to King Midas's daughter. Everyone knows that."
Hook sucked in a breath and grabbed her elbow, pulling her away from the bar.
"What is it?" Emma asked once they were in a quiet corner away from everyone else.
"Well, I know when we are now," he muttered, forehead still creased in worry.
"But that's a good thing isn't it?"
"Not exactly. You see, I remember this ball. Very well," he whispered. "I was here, in the city, and I had gotten hold of some information that the Dark One would be attending the ball."
"But, why would he—"
"Turns out King George had made several deals with him, and he'd gone to collect."
"So you went to the ball to kill him." Hook nodded. "Well, I don't see the problem. Obviously, you didn't kill him, because he is still alive in Storybrooke in the future."
"No, I didn't kill him. But there is a reason for that." He took a deep breath. "For years I thought it was either the rum, or the head injury or maybe some trick on the Dark One's part, but the night I went to kill him, I was stopped by…well, by me."
"You," Emma said slowly. "You stopped yourself from killing Rumpelstiltskin."
He nodded. "Aye. And there's more."
Emma sighed. "Really?"
"Though I didn't see her face, I distinctly remember there being a blonde woman there too."
She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose, hoping to stop the headache she could feel coming. "So what you are saying is we have to find a way to get inside that ball and stop your past self from killing the Dark One."
"Yes. Otherwise he won't be able to have Regina enact the dark curse."
Emma looked up at him, dropping her hand as the full seriousness of the situation hit her. "And Henry will never be born."
Hook nodded again, expression serious and worried.
Emma let out a deep sigh and looked down at the bag full of stolen money. "Well, I guess it's a good thing we have all this. It's going to take a lot of money if we are going to fit in at a ball."