So, I came across the Tumblr 'awful-aus' and their prompts are anything but awful. I took this one and ran with it because feels and too much encouragement from wuvtwoowuv.
Prompt: "Sometimes I steal flowers from your garden on my way to the cemetery, but today you've caught me and have demanded to come with me to make sure the girl is pretty enough to warrant flower theft. I'm trying to figure out how to break it to you that we're on our way to the graveyard..."
Unhand the Carnations
"Wanna unhand my carnations before I unhand you, buddy?"
Killian Jones had been caught red handed. Or, well, pink handed considering the beautiful pink carnations he was about the lift from the pretty garden he was standing in. His shoulders slumped in defeat and he turned to face the owner of the garden he'd been stealing from every week for the last two months.
As he turned, a sheepishly guilty expression on his face and an overly charming apology and tall tale on the tip of his tongue, every coherent thought flew out of his head.
She was stunning.
The blonde haired, green eyed goddess stood before him made the beauty of the garden pale in comparison to her own. Killian had never been speechless before but somehow he'd envisioned a middle aged spinster with five cats living in this little out-of-place cottage with the pristine garden. And the young woman stood before him was anything but that.
She was a vision in skinny jeans and red leather.
And she was glaring at him with a fire in her gaze that immediately made his blood run hot and he scratched the back of his ear as he cleared his throat.
"Sorry, lass...I sincerely apologize for defacing your masterpiece of a garden."
He saw her blink as he spoke and could have sworn he heard her mutter 'oh great, an accent' but her stony glare was back in place so fast that he wondered if he'd imagined it. She folded her arms and pointedly looked down at the pink carnation still held in his hand. He awkwardly held it out to her.
She rolled her eyes and shook her head.
"Not much I can fucking do with it now, is there? You already cut it. I hope she's pretty enough to warrant one of my prettiest flowers."
He was momentarily confused and looked down at the flower, trying to figure out her statement. But then she was talking again.
"You're almost in double figures with the amount of flowers you've stolen from me now. Don't think I haven't noticed another going missing every damn week. You're a terrible thief."
He chuckled lightly and twirled the carnation between his fingers.
He was about to casually ask to take her out for dinner, to make up for his long-term stealing from her garden, but she cut him off.
"Well, I'm gonna come with you now and make sure this chick, whoever she is, appreciates my flowers. And maybe next time you'll stop being such a cheap date and actually buy her the damn flowers."
His brow furrowed and he stared at her, utterly confused. And then realization began to dawn on him. She thought he was stealing her flowers to give to a woman. His heart sank.
"Err, love, I don't think that's a good idea..."
"I'm not gonna blow your cover. This time. So come on, flower pirate, let's go. Lead the way."
Swallowing hard, Killian gripped the stem of the carnation. How did he explain to her where he was going? How did he explain to her that there was no woman. Only a dead brother in a graveyard two blocks away, who had placed a pink carnation on their mother's grave every week when they were growing up?
They walked in silence for a few minutes, Killian desperately trying to slow their pace and figure out a way to tell her, a woman he'd just met, that they were going to his brother's grave.
"I didn't catch your name, lass..."
He commented, his voice sounding much lighter than he felt. She threw a scathing sidelong glance at him and shrugged.
"That's 'cause I didn't give it."
He suppressed a smile. She was a firecracker for sure. He liked that. After a long pause she sighed.
"Emma. Emma Swan."
He mused and she scoffed, rolling her eyes again. He was wondering if she always rolled her eyes this much or if he was just particularly good at evoking that reaction from her.
"Cool it, Casanova. What's your name? So I know what name to give to the police next time you steal from me."
He chuckled and felt his heart skip just a little bit when he saw the corners of her lips twitching into a tiny smile. It made him want to pull a real smile from her, because he couldn't help but think it would be a sight to behold.
"Killian Jones, m'lady."
"Unusual. Won't have difficulty tracking you down then," she threw back and he quirked an eyebrow at her and shot a salacious smirk her way as she flushed, shaking her head, "shut up, I meant so I can kick your ass if anymore of my garden mysteriously disappears."
"Do you know what pink carnations mean, love?"
He swiftly changed the subject and she looked somewhat relieved that he hadn't drawn out her embarrassment. She blinked at the sudden shift though and frowned slightly.
Emma stopped then, and Killian turned to face her slowly. They were stood in front of the Granary Burying Ground, in the middle of downtown Boston. She shifted her gaze from the signage to meet his eyes.
She started, but she had no idea what to say. All the sass and snark that she'd had at the ready had dissolved quicker than she could blink. He offered her a tight smile.
"My brother," he said slowly, wondering why the hell he felt as though opening up to this perfect stranger was somehow easy, "He died."
'Well I figured, seeing as we're at the graveyard...' The words burned her tongue but she held them back. Sometimes her sass really did need a censor.
She said instead, and cringed at how lame it sounded. But she wasn't good with this. Wasn't good with...people. And she didn't even know this guy.
"It was a few years ago. But I was passing your garden a few months back and I saw the carnations. And they reminded me of him."
He sighed, moving to sit in the bench outside the cemetery. She instinctively followed, perching beside him somewhat awkwardly.
"Our mother died when I was 5. I don't really remember much about her other than that she loved flowers and to sing to us. Liam - that was my brother - he used to help her grow carnations and Forget-Me-Nots and gardenias in the tiny garden we had. They adored that garden. And when she died, he used to take a flower from the garden every week and we'd go and put it on her grave."
Emma was silent, watching him carefully, her hands knotted together in her lap. He ran a hand through his hair, his other still holding tight to the stolen flower as though it was somehow anchoring him.
"I guess seeing your garden...the carnations just brought back memories. I hadn't been to visit Liam's grave in a long while until I saw those flowers. But I'm sorry, love, I'll buy them next time."
She shook her head slowly, somewhat hesitantly reaching out to run a finger down the stem of the flower he held. His eyes followed the movement.
"No, it's okay. You...you can have the carnations."
"No, really. They're for remembrance. It's kinda fitting that you're taking them for your brother, and that's what they should be for. No one else has ever really taken any notice of my garden. But you...if the flowers bring you some comfort...I don't mind. You can take them."
He hesitated before nodding, and a lightness he hadn't felt in a long time settled into his bones when she smiled at him. He'd known she'd have a beautiful smile, but he hadn't believed he'd be lucky enough to witness it.
"Emma...can I be awfully forward and...I mean...would you go out for dinner with me tonight?"
He watched her smile falter and felt his heart drop. She had a husband, or a boyfriend. Of course. He was an idiot. He'd stolen flowers from her garden and then poured his heart out to her outside a cemetery. She probably thought he was mentally unstable and/or a train wreck waiting to happen.
"Is that what this is? The sob story and stuff...is it just a way to pick up girls? Is any of what you told me true?"
He could practically see the walls she kept around her heart in that moment and he wondered how many people had hurt her or lied to her or let her down in her life to leave her building such an impenetrable fortress around herself.
"Sadly, love, every word I told you is true. If you don't believe me I'll gladly take you to Liam's grave and you'll find the carnation I stole from you last week sitting there. I wish it was all just a tall tale, believe me. But I haven't told you a lie."
She kept a careful gaze trained on him for a long moment, and was then seemingly satisfied by what she saw in his expression because she gave a small, hesitant nod.
"Alright. Fine. I'll go for dinner with you. But I don't pillage and plunder on the first date, just so you know."
Killian grinned back at her, twirling the carnation between his fingers and gently tapping her nose with it.
"That's because you haven't been out with me yet," at the roll of her eyes yet again he chuckled, "Shall I pick you up at 7 then, love?"
Dinner was pleasant and much more enjoyable and relaxed than Emma had anticipated. She'd spent far longer than usual on her appearance, repeating to herself time and again that it was 'no big deal' and 'just dinner with a hot guy'. She'd done this plenty times (granted, it was usually as a ruse to catch bail skips but nonetheless she'd count it) and she knew she shouldn't feel nervous.
She decided on a pretty, light pink number that fell to her knees and she curled her hair just right to compliment it. The dress itself was demure and feminine but Emma knew it showcased her slight curves without being ostentatious about it.
When she opened the door to him at three minutes before 7, she had to allow herself a split second of internally groaning 'hot damn', comforted by the fact that he appeared equally as awestruck at the sight of her. He blushed (which she found terribly endearing) and scratched the back of his ear, telling her somewhat shyly that she looked beautiful.
She thanked him, feeling a little awkward at the compliment, before grabbing her bag, offering him as easy a smile as she could manage, and following him back toward his car.
"The place I thought I'd take you...it's nowhere fancy, but we can walk next door to the bar and have drinks after dinner."
"You're optimistic," she smiled, "assuming that dinner will go well enough that I'll wanna drink with you after?"
He chuckled and shook his head as he pulled out into the traffic.
"Well, considering you threatened to remove my hand this morning, I'm only hoping it'll go better than that. I think I managed to set the bar pretty low as far as first meetings are concerned."
She laughed then, a short, sweet sound that had him grinning over at her briefly before returning his focus to the road.
They arrived at the restaurant shortly after, and the conversation over dinner was easy and comfortable, lacking the awkward silences she always dreaded on dates. Not that she was really one for dating. But he made her feel at ease, and she found herself sharing parts of herself that she never really divulged to anyone.
Like the fact that she grew up in the foster system. And that she'd given up a son for adoption at 17. And that she didn't do love, or relationships, because she wasn't putting herself through all that again. He'd looked at her thoughtfully with that, and simply nodded.
He told her stories from his childhood with Liam, and from his short stint in the Navy. He glossed over the more tragic tales from his past - as she mostly had - and instead had her laughing as he recalled the trouble he and his brother had gotten themselves into when they'd first moved to Boston.
He mentioned a woman named Milah in passing but didn't go into any detail about who she was. Emma assumed there was far more to that story than should be broached on a first date...the exact reason she'd steered very clear of bringing up Neal.
As they moved from the restaurant to the bar, Killian had nonchalantly taken her hand and she'd instinctively let her fingers entwine with his. He glanced at her then, his somewhat surprised smile giving her butterflies.
They spent the rest of the evening talking and laughing, drinks and conversation flowing easily, and Emma only glanced at the time when she heard them call Last Orders.
"It's getting late..."
She said slowly, reluctant to admit she really didn't want the night to end. The date had surpassed all of her expectations. And to think, the best first date she'd ever had was with was a guy she caught stealing from her garden.
"I'll walk you home lass. I don't live too far from you and I've had a few too many libations to drive us."
She smiled, another checkmark in his favor for the fact that he wasn't one of those drunk-driving assholes. He offered her his jacket as they left and she teased him for being so gentlemanly while slipping her arms into the cool leather.
They walked the ten blocks back to her place, her hand in his, and as they got closer Emma could feel the butterflies fluttering furiously in her stomach. This was the main awkward part of a date she always hated. That would-he-wouldn't-he when it came to a goodbye kiss.
But as with the rest of their night, there was no fumbling hesitation or awkwardness between them as she turned and thanked him for a nice night.
"Well, not bad. You actually managed to make me forget that I caught you stealing from me this morning."
She smirked and he chuckled.
"I'm glad you didn't let that cloud your judgement of me, Swan," his smile faded slightly, "I was worried that you knowing your flowers weren't being appreciated by the recipient would have cast a pall-"
"Hey. No," she stepped closer and took his hands, entwining their fingers, "It's okay. I told you, I don't have a problem with who you're giving them to. I'm glad, actually."
She smiled softly at him but then faltered. She knew this was the part where she could invite him in, offer him coffee or something a little stronger. And the idea of tumbling into bed with him - her own bed, in her own space that she very rarely invited anyone into - had her pulse fluttering madly.
He seemed to sense her hesitation and smiled back at her, squeezing her fingers gently.
"Perhaps next time I'll keep you up late, love. But alas, it's a school day tomorrow and I've already stolen enough of your time...and flowers."
He said, giving her a cheeky grin. She felt the momentary tension immediately dissipate and rolled her eyes, laughing lightly.
"Next time? Someone's awfully sure of themselves. I don't remember asking."
He paused, the grin on his face fading slightly as he turned serious.
"Will you go out with me again?"
She bit back a smile and stepped closer to him still, leaning forward slowly, her whole body buzzing with the adrenaline of being so close to him. He smelled so good and his arms instinctively circled her as she moved into his embrace. Somehow it just felt right.
She closed the space between them and he let her lead, let her initiate the kiss even when she hovered a breath away for a second before pressing her lips gently to his.
He responded immediately, arms tightening around her slightly as he deepened their kiss. By the time he pulled back she was breathless, eyes blown wide, and she couldn't help but seriously reconsider her hesitation in dragging him inside. If his kissing abilities were anything to go by, she sure as hell wouldn't regret it.
But he was stepping back then, smoothing the leather of his jacket down her arms, smile somewhat shy.
She began to slip it down her shoulders but he shook his head, backing toward the street.
"Keep hold of it. It'll give me an excuse to come see you again."
He winked at her then and once again she found herself rolling her eyes, but hugged the jacket tighter around her anyway as she watched him walk away.
Emma assumed he'd disappear for a few days, play hard to get the way every guy she'd ever known had done. She figured he'd play it cool and leave her uncertain as to just where they stood.
But that wasn't Killian Jones.
No. He used the excuse of retrieving his jacket the very next day. She had to admit she was surprised to see him as she glanced up from her spot on her knees in the garden, tending to few of the pink carnations she actually had left.
She started, sitting back and wiping her muddy hands on her overalls. He grinned down at her and she saw then that he was carrying a grocery bag.
"Hey, Swan. I was just passing-" he started casually and then chuckled to himself, "okay I wasn't, that's a lie. I came to get my jacket. By which I mean, I came to bring you these."
He held out the bag and she moved to stand up, eyeing him and then the bag suspiciously before taking it from him.
"What is it?"
She asked and he gestured for her to open it. As she did, she saw about a dozen sachets of seeds. Pink carnation seeds. She couldn't help but smile and met his gaze once more.
"You didn't have to do that, y'know."
"Oh, I know. But you've only got two left and that means I only have two more weeks before I have to find another victim's garden. And I'd much rather keep coming back here for them."
He proffered her a winning smile, eyes glittering with amusement and she gestured for him to come into the garden and knelt back down to continue tending to the flower bed.
"Well, come on then, make yourself useful. If you want to steal them, you may as well get your hands dirty first and plant them."
He smirked and crouched down beside her.
"With you, love, I'm more than willing to get my hands dirty."
For the following month, Killian had shown up a few times each week, sometimes with her favorite grilled cheese and onions rings from a little diner she'd told him in passing that she loved, and sometimes simply to give her a kiss on his way to work downtown.
She mused one day, as she washed some dishes and looked out at her thriving garden (with more than two dozen pink carnations ready to bloom any day) that she and Killian were probably, technically, dating. Neither had put a label on it, or brought up that topic at all, and she had a feeling he remembered all too well how she'd stomped on the notion of love and relationships on their first date.
But she supposed it had all just happened naturally. Because the fear that usually accompanied growing feelings simply hadn't reared its head.
She knew he was coming by that afternoon on his lunch break, and she was very much looking forward to seeing his face when she surprised him with something she'd made for the garden.
Some days they would spend hours out there together, and he seemed to have inherited his mother and brother's green fingers because he thoroughly enjoyed helping her tend the garden.
After she'd finished washing up, Emma grabbed the little wooden signage she'd made and the white plastic chainlink, and headed outside. She set to work fixing it up, and when she brushed her fingers gently over the new carnation buds, she noticed that the very first one had begun to bloom.
Her face lit up, because the timing was perfect. She wondered what Killian would make of it and sincerely hoped that he wouldn't be upset by what she'd done as a surprise for him.
For the rest of the day she kept checking the clock and glancing outside, a grin lighting her face when she finally caught sight of him crossing the street toward her house.
She went out to meet him, leaning casually against the doorframe and wondering if he'd notice straight away or if she'd have to point out the surprise.
Of course, his eyes never left her and he completely overlooked it at first. But after he'd kissed her deeply, dipping her in his over-dramatic fashion and causing her to yelp in surprise, she grinned and grabbed his hand, leading him to where the pink flowers were growing.
"Love, what are you- oh."
His eyes fell on the little wooden sign in front of the bed of carnations and he stiffened slightly. She felt her heart drop and her smile faltered, suddenly fearful that she'd upset him or overstepped a line.
He read the sign out loud, his voice low and filled with emotion. He stared at it for a long moment, before lifting his gaze to meet her's.
"Emma...this is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me."
His voice was tight and she could see tears glimmering in his eyes. She smiled somewhat sadly at him and he pulled her into his arms, burying his face into the crook of her neck.
"I was worried I was overstepping-"
"No. No, you weren't. This is...it's...I don't even know what to say. Thank you. I mean it, this really means a lot to me."
He kissed her then, a slow, sweet kiss with his hand tangled in her hair and his forehead resting against hers when he pulled back.
"The first flower bloomed today too."
She said quietly against his lips and he smiled, turning to glance at the carnations before returning his gaze to her.
"Then perhaps once it's fully bloomed you'd like to accompany me when I take one to Liam's grave...? I understand if you don't wish to-"
"I wish to."
She cut him of, running her fingers over his scruff and pressing a quick kiss to his lips before moving back toward the house.
"Now come on, we're ordering Chinese food."
Killian and Emma were sat on the bench outside the cemetery, having just visited Liam's grave. It was a part of their routine, and it was comforting to both of them. They'd been dating for almost a year now and it had simply flown by. The pink carnations were back in bloom, so they'd taken the first flowering one of the season to place on top of Liam's grave.
"Y'know, Liam would have really liked you, love. Woulda teased me mercilessly for how we met, but he would have definitely approved of you."
She felt a surge of warmth in her chest at his words and a pinch of sadness along with it. Liam had been all he'd had in the world, just as Neal had been all she'd had. But one was taken away too soon, while the other walked away quite willingly. And she didn't really know which was harder to cope with.
Squeezing his hand, she wished she could say she had someone in her life that would have 'approved' of Killian, or even cared remotely about her happiness.
"I wish I'd had the chance to meet him."
She said softly and he nodded, thoughtful as he looked down at her small hand clasped in his.
"I buried my mom when I was a kid and I buried Liam a few years ago. And I'd only ever thought of sadness and loss and death when it came to putting something into the ground. Until I met you. Because you've made me realize that putting something into the ground...it can mean happiness and new beginnings and life. So it's kind of funny that we met because of your flowers."
When Emma finally found her voice, a lump of emotion in her throat from his little speech, it sounded foreign even to her own ears.
"Why is it funny?"
She asked gently, heart fluttering when he lifted those too-blue eyes to meet her gaze.
"Because you've become my happiness. You gave me a new beginning. And I want to spend my life with you."
Emma's eyes widened, and she could hear the blood rushing in her ears as she stared at him. She didn't dare to believe he was really about to do what she thought he was going to do.
But the nervous smile he wore and the way his hands were trembling as he reached into his pocket told her he was.
"Emma Swan," he started shakily, pulling out a little box from his pocket, "when we first met, you threatened to take my hand. I'm hoping that now you'll maybe agree to give me yours. Will you-"
She didn't move, shock still rooting her to the bench, and his eyes widened slightly at her quick answer. And then he was laughing.
"You didn't even let me ask you. I know we've never really done things traditionally but at least let me ask you properly."
"Sorry," she blushed, a nervous laugh falling from her own lips as she brushed away a stray tear, "go on."
"You ruined it now," he chuckled, but still moved to kneel before her, "I didn't plan to do this outside the cemetery, but I guess it's fitting considering the reason we met. Will you marry me, Emma Swan?"
She threw her arms around around his neck and finally let the tears fall.
"Yes, you idiot. Of course I will."
The wedding was a small affair. Just a handful of people at City Hall, a simple white dress and smiles that could light up the whole of Boston for a week.
He bought her white carnations.
Purity. True love.
She asked him if he'd stolen them from the garden and he laughed. He promised he hadn't.
Well, maybe just one for good luck.