Yes. Your eyes do not deceive you. Nine months later I have finished it! HUGE thanks to my wonderful beta nickillian /Ztofan and this is dedicated to you!
Despite the fact that they had gotten engaged at a Thanksgiving party, Belle still insisted she organize another get together to celebrate, and to be their official engagement party. She loved throwing parties. One of the first differences Emma had noticed between the two women was Belle enjoyed being the consummate hostess, where Emma would rather sit in the corner with a bottle of liquor.
But not today, as it turned out.
Somehow, she and Killian had managed to keep the most recent developments from their friends. They had shared news of their letter with them the day it had arrived, but other than that they had kept quiet. After discussing how they would break the news, the pair had decided to wait a little. Their friends had just got engaged and they had no desire to steal their thunder. It could wait.
And, truth be told, they were still working out just how this new thing between them was going to work.
But, she hadn't taken off her ring since the interview and here she was, a week later, almost glued to Killian's side, trying to be subtle but, from the looks Belle was giving her, failing.
They'd taken over the back room at a bar for the engagement bash, about five blocks from Belle's apartment, a real local's place that did excellent nachos and had kinda been their regular haunt when they were taking a rare night out. It was there, beside the jukebox as Killian went to refill their drinks that Belle cornered her.
"What the hell is up with you and Killian?"
Emma smiled, a little taken aback at her friend's words (Belle being one of the most softly spoken women she knew).
"What do you mean?" she shrugged, turning back to the machine. It was one of those old-style ones that you had to manually flip the cards over. She wanted to pick something British that she hoped Killian would like.
"Cut the crap, Emma Swan. You've been making goo-goo eyes at your husband all night and barely left his side."
"We're just… relieved," she lied. She spotted a song by Police and smiled, punching in the number.
Belle folded her arms and gave her friend her best stern look.
Glancing over her shoulder, Emma laughed.
"Jesus Belle, you are the least intimidating person I know."
"C'mon, Emma. Something has happened. I know it."
With a sigh, Emma swung around, resting her back on the jukebox, just as Sting's smooth vocals filled the room. "We're.. trying."
Emma's eyes dropped to the ground and Belle shuffled a little closer.
"I'm in love with him," Emma whispered.
"I goddamn knew it!" Belle cried, clenching her fists. "Does he know?"
"Yes… He loves me too."
And then Belle began to cry.
"Shit, Emma. That's-"
Before she could finish, Belle had pulled her friend into a suffocating hug. Emma held on tight, a sudden light feeling overcoming her. That was the first time she had said that out loud. That he loved her.
Damn it felt good.
"It's still new…" she explained, as Belle peeled herself away.
"All along, I'd hoped..." Belle began, wiping away a tear.
Emma grinned, "All along?"
"I knew you two were perfect for each other the first time I met Killian. He reminded me so much of you, but he was also different enough that you'd complement each other."
Emma nodded; Belle was right. They had so much in common, but their similar life experiences had shaped them in different ways. She was rash, impulsive… he was calm, measured. But they both had a temper. And both were stubborn at saying sorry.
"But then you didn't seem interested when you met him at my birthday party and I kinda gave up hope but then Killian had to find a way to stay, and-" Belle shrugged, a guilty expression.
"Wait," Emma said, her eyes narrowing, "Are you telling me you planned this all along? That this was all some elaborate ruse to get me together with Killian?"
"Not exactly," Belle giggled, "I mean, I'd hoped… And I really did want to help Killian, and you…"
Perhaps Emma should have been annoyed about her friend trying to interfere in her love life. But considering it was impossible to fall out with Belle and the fact that, in the end, she had been right about the potential between her and Kilian, it seemed in poor taste to chew her out.
"Well, don't be saying I told you so."
"My lips are sealed."
Emma drummed her fingers on the glass of the jukebox.
Quickly, Belle looked around. Killian was still not back. "So, what now?" she asked.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, you are living together, technically married - don't think I haven't seen that ring on your finger-"
Emma blushed and tucked her hair behind her ears. "I don't know. I mean, we're taking it a day at a time."
"Do you want to still be married to him? And your apartment-"
Emma shrugged. See, they hadn't really talked through the finer details of what their updated relationship status meant. The past week had consisted of them just enjoying one another and really getting to know one another again, this time as real lovers, not fake newlyweds.
"I don't know yet. We're still feeling it out."
"But you want all that? I mean to really be married to him. To be together?"
The reply Emma gave her friend was an enigmatic smile.
Propped up against the bar, Killian let out a 'oomph' of air when he felt a hand crack against his back.
"Scarlet," he coughed, tossing his friend a glare as he lined up beside him, waiting to get served.
"Buying me a drink? So kind."
"I've already bought you three pints, mate."
"But it's my engagement party."
"You know that excuse will start to wear thin soon."
"But not yet though," Will grinned.
The barman found that an opportune moment to come their way, "Two Heinekens and a rum and coke," Kilian said, before turning to his friend.
"See, was that hard?"
Killian withheld the urge to roll his eyes and instead fixed a smile on his face. "Congratulations, mate. In case I haven't said it enough tonight. Belle is an amazing woman."
"She is, isn't she?" Will replied, his expression turning almost dreamy as he gazed into the distance. "One in a million."
"Yeah," Killian nodded, "I'm amazed two gits like us managed to bag two such women."
Will froze, giving Killian a queer look as the barman slid two pints their way.
"Can you put it on my tab," Killian asked, as he picked up his pint and took a sip.
"Jones… Is there something you want to tell me?"
Killian grinned. Although he and Emma had agreed not to break the news to Belle and Will just yet, he couldn't resist. He had been bursting to talk about the events that had happened between them in the past several days and he just couldn't hold it in any longer.
"Are you telling me that you and Emma… Wait. You're a thing now? For real?"
With a quick nod, Killian thanked the bartender as he laid down Emma's rum.
"It's real. I mean, we're real."
Killian was taken by surprise by the bear-hug that engulfed him, slopping his pint over his hand and onto his jeans.
"You bugger," Will finally added, giving Killian a swift punch to the arm that spilled more of his beer on the floor. "How long has this been going on?"
"We talked things out after the interview. But I think I've been in love with her for much longer." Damn it was such a relief to say it out loud. Of course he had told Emma on a few occasions that he loved her since that day (he didn't want to overdo it, things were still new and Emma was still Emma. He didn't want to scare her).
"And?" Will urged.
"What now? You're still married, mate. And living together. How are you gonna sort this out?"
With a shrug Killian shook his head. "Honestly, I'm not sure yet. We're still… figuring things out."
"But what do you want, then? If it was up to you."
Killian glanced at the rum on the countertop and then the gold band that sat on his finger. "I just want to be with her, Will. However she wants that to happen."
Emma was surprisingly nervous when they walked into the faculty Christmas party. It was a more casual affair than the formal dinner she had attended a couple of months earlier, but it was also so much more meaningful. It was, in a way, the first time they had really gone out as a couple. And unlike the last time she wasn't playing the part of the glowing newlywed. This time she was playing herself.
Killian's hand clasped hers tightly, giving it a squeeze of reassurance as they stepped into the hall that had been hired for the party. The room was busy, a bar having been set up along one way and a buffet at the other. The remaining space was taken up by a DJ booth, dance floor and large circular tables and chairs that had been arranged for each of the departments.
"You ready?" he asked, as they made their way towards their assigned seats.
"I guess," she replied, a nervous timbre.
Killian paused and and looked at her. "We don't have to be here Emma, if you're not comfortable-"
"No," she insisted, placing a soft hand against his chest. "This is important. I mean, it's just a party but-" she shook her head, "I want to be part of your life for real. So this is a good place to start."
He beamed at her, pulling up her hand to place a quick kiss against her knuckles.
"I love you," he reminded her.
"I know," she said, smiling and telling herself to let go of her fears. This was real. They were real.
They deposited their coats at the table and then moved to the bar to collect a couple of glasses of red wine before mingling amongst the other guests.
At first, Emma's smiles felt a little forced. She sure wasn't used to being the center of attention. Even the people she had met at the previous event gushed over her. She could tell how much they all liked Killian and how much they wanted to know about the woman who had taken him off the market. But slowly, she had relaxed, enjoying the genuine warmth that they showed her.
"Your colleagues are nice," she whispered to him after a particularly sweet greeting from part of the department's secretarial pool. The women had insisted she join them for brunch one weekend soon. With a little pressing, she had agreed, surprising herself when she realized she didn't hate the idea.
"Nah, they're all just a little meddlesome and could never quite understand why I was single."
Emma smiled into her wine glass as she drank the last drop, placing the empty vessel on the nearest table.
"Neither could I," she admitted.
She shrugged, "The thought did cross my mind when I met you. I mean, look at you."
"What could you mean?" he teased, wrapping his hand around her waist.
"You're gorgeous, Jones. And you know it."
He couldn't resist kissing her, even there in front of all those people - and knowing how private she was. She was smiling at him with such ease and she just looked so damn happy-
"Mmph," she squeaked in surprise as he pulled her close and gave her something a little steamier than the chaste kiss that may be appropriate in such a public place. He felt the want for her rise. It was pretty much constant now. He only had to think of her and a burning to have her came over him. He was trying not to overwhelm her with his desires, but on the several occasions where they had found themselves giving into each other she hadn't seemed to mind. Now neither of them were pretending anymore, there wasn't any need to hide it.
"Down boy," she murmured in his ear, pulling back from his lips with a sparkle in her eye which told him that this was to be continued.
The pair span around at the sound of his name.
It was Professor Gold. He stood in front of them, dressed in black and resting on a gold topped cane, giving them a flat smile.
"And your wife…"
"Emma," she finished, reaching out her hand. He took it in his. She noticed how cold his skin was, the kiss he placed on the back of her hand cold and clammy.
"A pleasure to meet you, Mrs Jones. I'm only sorry I missed you at our last event."
She replaced her hand back onto Killian's shoulder. "I had been looking forward to that too. Killian has told me so much about you."
"Has he indeed," the older man hummed, giving Killian a quick once over. "Well, I wanted to take the chance to wish you a merry Christmas and to pass on some news to your husband."
"Oh?" Killian said, frowning. He had only spoken to Gold the afternoon before, during a planning meeting for the class schedules for the semester ahead.
"You must know I will be retiring at the end of this academic year." Emma quickly glanced at Killian, watching as he swallowed deeply. "Well, the committee to choose my replacement has been assembled and the process will begin in the new year and I wanted you to know first hand that you are top of the list that I have given them to be granted tenure."
"Are you- wait. Really?"
Killian was flabbergasted. He'd been pretty certain he would be shortlisted. But to know his name had been put forward by Gold and that he was his first candidate had completely thrown him. He'd always thought the old man had disliked him. Strongly.
"Yes, Professor Jones. I know talent when I see it, and I believe you are a good fit for Columbia as we continue into the next decade."
"I-" Kilian began, his hand quickly finding Emma's, "I don't know what to say. Thank you."
"No need to thank me. It's down to you now to show the committee you are worth the investment."
"I will," he nodded, still completely thrown by the turn in events.
"Anyway, I must be going back to my table, but Mrs Jones it's been a pleasure and I wish you both the best for the coming year."
After a quick shake of Killian's hand, the two were left alone in the thronging crowd that had gotten up to dance.
"I can't-" he began, shaking his head.
Emma swiftly wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him into another kiss. Not quite as passionate as earlier, instead more of a hopeful one. Her hands moved to cup his face as his slip around her back.
"I thought he hated me," he admitted as they pressed their foreheads together.
"Well you were wrong," she beamed.
He nudged her back towards their table where it was a little quieter. They sat, an amazed expression still across his face.
"It's been a hell of a year so far, hasn't it?"
Emma nodded. "Yeah, and by the looks of it, next year's going to be even more crazy."
They were quiet a moment, their hands finding each other beneath the table as her head rested on his shoulder.
"I'm so glad you're here," he said quietly.
She didn't ask him for clarification if he meant at the party or more than that. She knew what he meant.
"Yeah," she smiled, "Me too."
Christmas came and went, with it a series of parties and dinners and endless lunches that left Emma pretty sure that she would not need to eat again for at least a few weeks. Belle and Will had settled down from their endless commenting about her and Killian's relationship (and smugness about how they had engineered the whole thing). Work was crazily busy for them both- Christmas seemingly bringing out the stupidity in even more offenders who thought they could skip out on Emma and get away with it and Killian caught up in grading assignments and papers for almost all of his classes. It really wasn't until New Year's Eve that the two had a chance to really breathe and sit down, just the two of them.
"Wouldn't you rather be out celebrating?" Killian asked as he opened a bottle of French red to go with the steaks he had cooked them.
"God no," she sighed. "Don't you think Belle has dragged us to enough social events this month?"
"Aye," he nodded as he poured out a little and offered her a taste, "That's true. I just thought you might want to do something a little more exciting."
She gave him a warm smile. "Killian, this is great. Perfect." She gestured to the table he has set, complete with white linen, tall candles and gleaming dishes. "Really. You didn't have to do to all this trouble."
"Yes I did," he insisted, filling their glasses and then taking a seat opposite her.
She was about to argue back when she bit her tongue. She was learning. He had told her innumerable times over the past few weeks just how much she meant to him and, beyond that, how much he admired her as a person. She still didn't quite believe that she warranted any sort of special treatment.
"Fine," she sighed, "Thank you."
They ate leisurely, the tv softly playing the New Year's celebrations in the background. It was just after ten when they sat down to eat, slowly drinking the wine, talking about not much of anything until their dishes were clean and Emma groaned happily.
"You're a good cook," she admitted as he cleared the table.
"So I guess you're going to have me chained to this kitchen then going forward?" he teased, his expression only faltering when he saw the flash of panic cross her face.
Placing the dishes back on the table, he pulled his chair next to hers.
"I was only joking, love. I know we haven't talked about things much-"
She took a deep breath. She hadn't meant to scare him - but her mind was still hardwired to react to those kind of things. "I didn't mean-. I mean, I like living with you, Killian. It's weird because I'm so used to being on my own… but I do like this."
He reached over, smoothing her hair with his hand. "I love having you here. I'd really like you to stay. I know it's fast…"
Emma chewed on her bottom lip as she sought the words to answer him with. This had been one of the questions that had played over in her mind during the past few weeks. Where should she live now? Were they just dating? Or something more… Since the interview things had been a little topsy turvy - she was back in his bed and spending most of her time with him, but she still had her place and her lease was up for renewal in a couple of months.
"Am I crazy if I say I want to stay too?" she admitted. "This is a far from conventional start to a relationship, so who says we have to follow some preordained set of rules about when we live together? I am your wife after all," she grinned.
He picked up her hand from the table, toying with the golden ring she still wore. "Yeah, you are, aren't you? So, even if you has said no to my proposition, I could have ordered you to…"
"Jerk," she laughed, swatting his hand away and crawling into his lap. "I did not promise to obey."
"That was an oversight," he hummed, leaning into her so their lips almost met. "About that. This marriage I mean…"
"This marriage," she echoed.
"What do we do?"
"Well, you know we need to keep this thing legal until your visa is processed…"
"And then?" he asked, expectantly holding his breath.
She cupped his face, staring into his blue eyes and seeing all the possibility that lay hidden in their depths.
"Then I guess we wait and see."
They melted into an embrace that saw the dishes forgotten as they tumbled into bed, slipping off their clothes and exploring one another, lost until the sound of fireworks alerted them to the time.
"It's midnight," she whispered into his lips, "Happy new year."
"Happy new year, Emma," he replied, wrapping his body tighter around her as he wondered just what the future would hold.
Five years later
"Are you ready?" Belle asked, handing her the small bouquet of peonies.
"As I'll ever be," Emma smiled, her teeth chattering a little as the nerves finally hit.
She waited for the doors to be opened as Belle fussed with her skirt. Emma had said it was too much, this dress being full of flounces and so goddamn bridal - it wasn't like it was a real wedding, just a vow renewal. But Belle had silenced her with a look and Emma had handed over her credit card to purchase the long, elaborate gown. They both know this was a real as any wedding could be, even if legally it wasn't adding to the union between Killian and Emma.
A small, soft hand slipped into hers just as the doors creaked open. "Momma you look pretty," came a tiny voice.
"Doesn't she, Liam?" Belle cooed, looking down at her godson. "Hey, how about you hold my hand and then we can walk down the aisle together."
"Wanna hold momma's hand," he insisted.
Emma smiled at her son's words. He was three now. He'd grown so quickly and looked so much like his father, save for his mother's hair and eye colour.
Getting down on her haunches, struggling a little with the skirts of her dress, she looked him in the eye. "Papa and I have something very important to do. But If you promise to hold Belle's hand, you can sit on Uncle Will's lap when we go for dinner after."
"Uncle Will?" he asked, beaming.
"Yeah," she nodded, giving Belle a conspiratorial glance, "He needs the practice because he is going to be a papa real soon."
Belle smoothed her hands over her 8 month bump. "And I need someone to walk with me. Make sure I don't fall," Belle added, reaching out to him.
The small boy looked from woman to woman, finally letting go of his mother's hand and taking Belle's, just in time for the ceremony music to begin. After one quick, reassuring glance, Belle stepped into the ceremony room, taking small steps suitable for toddler sized legs.
Emma felt her own legs turn to jelly as she allowed herself to look at the end of the aisle. Killian was waiting, Will by his side, wearing a tailor made suit which somehow made him even more handsome than usual. She made her way towards him, mindful of the people who sat in the pews. They were the friends that she and Killian had made over the years; his colleagues, her new staff (she'd finally opened her own bail bonds business two years ago, pregnancy having put pause on that for a little while), some of the neighbours they had made when they'd moved to get a place with some outdoor space for Liam to play in. People who were all part of their lives now and they had chosen to share this special moment.
Technically, it was a renewal ceremony but Emma and Killian both new that this was real to them. As real as the moment he had dropped down to one knee in the middle of Central Park that spring and asked her to marry him. For real.
He looked as nervous as her when she reached him. Liam had refused to honour their agreement and sit in Will's lap and was currently hugging his father's leg, much to the amusement of the Justice of the Peace. Killian seemed unaware of that his son was doing, instead he was staring at Emma as though he was seeing her for the first time.
"Hey," she whispered shyly, taking her place beside him.
"Hey," he echoed, one hand reaching for hers whilst the other found his son's mop of blond hair.
"You ready?" she asked, as the music died town.
"Aye love, I am," he smiled, the tenseness in his demeanour melting away as she looked at him.
And as much as the words were echoes of what they has said before, as much as they had been married over five years and had a son and a home together- it was these vows, and this moment, that Emma Swan would always say that she knew just how real and amazing being loved by Killian Jones was.
A/N: Reviews and feedback make my heart sing! I'm wanting to start another modern au idea very soon, so if you have any original ideas, please let me know :D