Emma and Killian stopped into Granny's on their way to the station. Chamomile tea was a sad substitute for coffee, but the routine was comforting, even if the drink failed to get her blood moving. Leroy waylaid her as they came in, wanting to know when he was going to get a check from the city for the damage Elsa had done to his van when she first came to town. Killian smirked and peeled off to go place their orders.
"So when's the pirate gonna make an honest woman out of you?" Leroy asked, nodding his head towards Killian.
"We're not in any big rush," Emma shrugged. She was only three months along, and with getting settled in the new place and settled into the new groove with Killian, the whole marriage thing had been the furthest thing from her mind. Since that first day when they'd fought about it, Killian hadn't brought it up again. He seemed fine with how things were, too.
"Ah," Leroy said. "I guess it would be hard dragging a pirate to the altar. Not the 'I do' sort, huh?"
"It's not that," Emma said. "We just have enough to deal with right now."
"Your tea?" Killian said from right behind her. Emma spun around. Had he heard what Leroy said? From the black look on his face as he held out her to-go cup of chamomile, she suspected he had.
"To be frank," he said to Leroy, his voice edged with sarcasm. "I could handle a bit more. But it's not up to me, is it?" He raised a challenging eyebrow at her. Then he closed his eyes and sighed. "Excuse me," he said, then turned and walked out of Granny's. Emma stared after him.
"Wow, he seems grumpy, and I should know."
"I gotta go." Emma left Leroy without another glance and hurried after Killian. He was striding away up Main, so fast she had to run to catch up to him.
"Hey, Killian, stop."
He did, and slowly turned to face her, although he wasn't looking at her and the muscle in his jaw was twitching, a sure sign he was angry.
"Please tell me you're not upset by what Leroy said. I mean, it's just Leroy mouthing off."
"It's not just Leroy. He's only repeating what everyone else in town is saying."
"Are you seriously bothered by what people say about you?"
"No, I'm bothered by what they say about you. That I'm the feckless bastard who won't do the right thing by you. That the Savior is once again being hard done by and I'm the undeserving bastard leaving you stranded."
"Are you still hung up on this getting married thing? It's such a crazy, old-fashioned idea."
"It's not the marriage," he shouted, his anger finally exploding outward. "It's that you're forcing me to be like him!"
Emma's mouth snapped shut. "Like who?"
"What the hell does Neal have to do with this?"
"Because he wasn't there for you the way he should have been. And I swore to myself from the start that if I were ever fortunate enough to win your affections, I would do what he hadn't and care for you the way you deserved. And I can't."
Emma opened her mouth to tell him that marriage wasn't the only way to care for her, that he proved that every time he brought her lunch at work or rubbed her shoulders when she came home riddled with tension. But then she remembered what David had told her, that Killian had a different idea of noble actions than she did, and he was trying to be the best man he knew how to be, because he felt she deserved that. And she wasn't letting him.
She reached out and grabbed the front of his jacket, tugging him a step closer.
"You've been chasing me for two years. Do you know why I kept running so fast?"
Killian swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing slightly, and shook his head.
"Because I was terrified that if I let you catch me, eventually you'd see I wasn't worth all the effort. And that's why getting married scares the crap out of me."
His face softened, the anger gone in an instant, and he laid his palm against her cheek. "You daft woman. I've been chasing you for two years. I told you from the start that you're an open book to me. I know you inside and out. That's why I wanted you so badly. I've seen it all and I love every bit of you, Emma."
Something very bruised inside Emma began, finally, to heal. This man was so, so good. And he wanted her with a depth of devotion that staggered her. He was right, he knew her better than anyone, and still he was here, wanting her. Maybe it was time to bend a little, even if it terrified her. He deserved it.
She angled her face up and kissed him. "I think you should ask me again."
"Ask you again?" His head tilted to the side adorably.
She looked meaningfully at him. "You should ask me again."
Comprehension dawned and he smiled, a luscious curling of his lips that always undid her. "I'm not sure I asked you properly the first time. Afraid I bungled that bit."
"Well, maybe you should ask me now."
He sobered, looking so loving and intensely vulnerable that her heart nearly stopped. She'd give anything to spare him another moment's pain in his life. "Emma," he murmured. "Will you marry me?"
Even knowing it was coming, she reacted more emotionally than she expected. Her eyes began to water and her throat was tight, but she nodded. "Yes, I will."
They should have run off to Vegas. God only knew what Killian would make of that place, but they could have gotten married in an hour, no muss, no fuss. Shortly after Emma announced their plans to her parents, she learned that when your mother is Snow White, your wedding will entail a great deal of fuss.
It was less than a month since he'd asked her. Emma insisted that if they were going to do it, she was doing it while she could still wiggle into something hot. It was close. She definitely had a bump, but careful seaming kept the bulge to a minimum. In another couple of weeks, she'd be all about stretch pants and high-waisted blouses, but for today, she felt pretty in a sleeveless white dress with a nipped in waist (raised slightly to hide her bump) and a flared skirt.
Since time had been so short, the whole thing had been thrown together on the fly. Granny organized a potluck for the reception, Snow made the dress, Archie got ordained online to perform the ceremony, and most improbably of all, they were doing it in the gazebo in Regina's backyard.
The location had been proving to be a sticking point. Snow lobbied for the church but Killian was quite certain that he'd burst into flames if he dared utter vows on consecrated ground, so the church plan was scrapped. And Storybrooke, for all its charms, was rather short on decent event venues. They'd been arguing about it over dinner at Granny's one night when Regina chimed in and offered up her gazebo.
Emma had shot her a surprised look. "The same yard where I tried to chop down your apple tree?"
Regina grimaced. "That was a long time ago. I'm trying here. Don't make it harder for me."
Emma conceded that under the circumstances, it was an incredibly gracious offer for Regina to make so she accepted.
And now here she was in The Evil Queen's guest bathroom, getting ready to go downstairs and get married to Captain Hook as her parents, Snow White and Prince Charming, did their best not to burst with pride. What the hell was her life? Sometimes she could scarcely believe she'd ended up here, living this life, considering the long, tortured path she'd taken to get here. Scratch that. Most of the time she couldn't believe it.
Still, she wouldn't change a thing. She had a rather unconventional family who loved her, she'd gotten Henry back when for many years that seemed hopelessly out of reach, and she'd found this man… a man who heated her body and touched her heart and made every day better just by being in it with her. And in a few months, they were having a baby. She'd get the shot at motherhood that she'd been denied with Henry. It seemed like too much. No one got everything they ever wanted. But she was about to.
The old Emma, the orphan who lost every good thing that ever came her way, wanted to panic. Nothing this good could last. Someone as damaged as her could never deserve it or keep it. But there was a new Emma coming to life inside of her. This Emma, loving and beloved, accepted her life as her due. This was always meant to be hers, and now it was. It had been a bit delayed, and it took a lot of work to keep it all going, but all good things took work. And her life was very good.
She examined herself in the mirror one more time, running her fingers through her hair to tousle it a little. Killian liked it best when she left it down. He liked being able to touch it. Then she slicked on a little more red lipstick. He had an endearing weakness for vamp red lipstick, which she liked to indulge now and then.
Satisfied, she left the bathroom and descended the stairs. Snow met her at the bottom, full of nervous energy and last minute worries.
"Oh, Emma, you look so beautiful." Snow's eyes, predictably, teared up. "I always imagined my daughter would get married in the Great Hall in our castle in the Enchanted Forest, just like I did and my mother before me."
"Mom… come on."
"No, no, I'm fine." Snow waved her hands and smiled. "This is different than anything I could have imagined for you, from where we are to who you're marrying. But it's no less perfect."
Emma smiled and kissed her cheek. "Stop sniffling. You'll mess up your mascara."
Snow laughed. "Okay, let's find your father. Killian's ready, and I think he's about to wear a trough in Regina's garden with his pacing."
Within minutes, it was happening. She was marrying Killian. The garden was full of familiar faces from her years in Storybrooke and beyond, all the people who'd become her community. David walked her down the "aisle", which was really just a white runner laid out on Regina's lawn.
At the end of it stood Archie, ready to officiate, and next to him, Killian. David must have taken him suit shopping, and she'd have to remember to thank him later for that, because holy shit. Over the past two years she'd seen Killian in full leather pirate drag and the more toned down upscale rockstar look he'd adopted in Storybrooke, but she'd never seen him like this. Sedate enough, in his crisp black suit and white dress shirt, but still mouthwateringly handsome, those freakishly blue eyes flashing at her from under his dark brows. When he saw her, the smile that broke out across his face made her knees go weak. Smiles that sinful should be illegal.
When they reached Archie and Killian, David kissed her cheek before moving to stand between Killian and Henry, his other groomsman. Ruby stepped forward to take Emma's flowers for her. Archie started to talk. It was probably a lovely ceremony, full of lovely words, but Emma didn't hear any of it. There was only Killian, looking at her like she was the last good thing on earth.
And then it was done. They'd exchanged rings and kissed and Archie said more words and she was married to Killian. Their family and friends crowded around them to kiss cheeks, shake hands and wish them well. One of the dwarves rolled out a cart full of champagne flutes and chilled bottles.
Regina shrugged. "I thought we should have a little toast before we head to Granny's."
Emma smiled, genuinely touched. "Thank you, Regina."
Corks were popped and bubbly was poured for all the laughing guests. Killian waved it off, holding up his flask. "I received a wedding gift of some rather exceptional rum this morning, if you don't mind." Emma didn't mind. All her best memories included Killian swilling rum out of his hip flask. She didn't want him changing now.
Snow raised her glass. "To my beautiful, strong, brave daughter, Emma, returned to us after so many years, and to Killian, who's crossed realms and time to find her."
David raised his glass. "I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but Killian, there's not a man alive who loves my daughter more than you. And no man is more deserving of her love than you. Congratulations."
Killian looked down and smiled. Emma could tell he was deeply moved. She reached for his hand and squeezed his fingers before raising her glass and taking a tiny sip.
He looked up at her. "This is the happiest day of my life, Emma."
Then he raised his flask, took a sip, and dropped to the ground like a stone.
Emma fell to her knees beside him as everyone else crowded forward. She felt for his pulse and couldn't find it. Terror like she'd never known filled her.
"His heart! His heart has stopped! Killian! What's wrong?"
Regina crouched beside him, laying her hand on his chest. "His heart is fine. He's not dead." She glanced up at Snow. "It's a sleeping curse."
"What? Who the hell would do that?" But she knew who'd done it before she'd even finished saying the words. Gold. Killian's "wedding gift" this morning. She snatched up the flask resting on Killian's limp hand and sniffed it out of habit. It's not as if she'd know what a fucking sleeping potion smelled like. She thrust it at Regina, who apparently did know what they smelled like.
"Yep, that's it. A powerful one, too."
"Some fucking wedding gift. That little troll. Regina, can you lift it?"
She shook her head. I can't undo magic this powerful. I'm not sure even Gold could. These types of curses are meant to be unreversable. I should know."
Snow dropped to the ground next to Emma. "So should I. But it can be undone, Emma."
Emma looked up at her, full of panic. "What if it doesn't work?" she whispered.
Snow smiled gently and took her hand. "You just got married. Of course it will."
Emma shook her head. "But what if it's not… I don't know… pure enough. What if it's not magical like you and Dad?" What she didn't say, the fear that lay at the root of it all, was What if I'm not enough?
Snow reached out to touch her cheek. "Emma, people talk about True Love like it's something that just happens to you. Like some sort of magic spell that's cast on a person. And yes, it's a kind of magic, but it's about your choice, your heart's choice. Who does your heart choose, Emma?"
She looked back to Killian, his beautiful face peaceful in his sleep of death. Her heart chose Killian. It had chosen him almost from the start, recognizing in him the perfect, missing parts of herself, as impossible as it seemed. Over and over her heart chose Killian. Forever it would choose Killian. She was the Savior and Killian was the pure, beating heart of the Savior.
Gold underestimated both of them. He didn't think either one of them was capable of this kind of love and he certainly didn't think Killian deserved it. And that was where he would fail. In the end, he didn't understand the real nature of love. He used it as a weapon, he used it to control and manipulate. He didn't see how patience, sacrifice and devotion were far stronger in the end than fear and power.
"Come back to me," she whispered, holding his face in her hands. Then, banishing fear and self-doubt, thinking only of Killian—his drowsy morning smile, his eyes when he watched her from across a room, his voice when he whispered into her ear that he loved her, his fingertips on her skin when he brushed her hair back—she kissed him.
There was a moment of absolute silence, and Emma was only aware of her lips on Killian's, on the man she was dragging back to this world through the veil of magic and malevolence. Bright white energy welled up inside her and she welcomed it. It swept through her and outward, washing over Killian and pulsing through everyone clustered around them. And then she felt him move under her. His chest heaved and his lips responded to hers. She opened her eyes to see him smiling up at her.
"Well, that's a relief, Swan," he murmured. "It would have been bloody awkward if nothing happened"
She shook her head. "I knew it would work. I wasn't worried."
"Aye, neither was I. As soon as I sensed what was happening, I knew you could undo it with a kiss."
The crowd around them was murmuring in wonder and delight, and she knew they'd have to stand up and face them all in a moment. But she stayed on her knees for a second longer, her hair falling in a curtain around their faces.
"You know what this means, don't you?" she asked.
Killian grinned. "Aye. It means you're never getting rid of me now, Swan."
She smiled back. "It means I'll never want to. My parents always find each other. Me and you? We'll always save each other."
"It's lucky for me that I'm in love with the Savior."
She rested her hand on his chest. "It's lucky for you that you're the heart of the Savior."
"That's a very good thing indeed." He reached up to cup her neck and pulled her down to kiss him. "I know Gold deserves retribution and all that, but do you suppose we could put off the vengeance bit until after the honeymoon?"
"I think vengeance can wait a day or two. Anyway, we've already won."
"Aye, lass, that we have."