A/N: So here is the epilogue and the final part of this story! I've really enjoyed writing this and hope it's been a good read :) Here is some domestic fluff to finish it off.
10 years later
Emma looks out the window at the snow covered houses as they drive slowly around the neighbourhood. Ingrid's house is at the end of the street, simple white lights decorating the window frames and the small tree in the front yard. Killian pulls up onto the drive and cuts the engine, the car suddenly silent.
'Katie is still sucking her thumb.' He whispers as he tilts his head to look at the sleeping children in the back with a smile. Emma looks at her husband with a soft smile for a moment before turning her own head to look back at their children. Katie's head is resting against the car door, her thumb in her mouth as she sleeps. Their son Jack is in his booster seat beside his sister, his hand curled up near his head as he fusses in his sleep.
'Come on, we should go inside.' Killian says softly as he gets out the car. Killian gently undoes the belt around Jack and scoops him into his arms, the two year old mumbling as he wakes. Katie wakes at the sound of the car doors closing and Emma smiles at her daughter as she rubs her eyes.
Emma knocks on Ingrid's front door, Katie holding her other hand and Killian patting Jack's back as he rocks him in his arms.
'Hi.' Ingrid says quietly when she opens the door and sees Jack's sleepy state, although she has a warm smile and Emma feels comforted already.
'Grandma Ingrid!' Katie smiles, letting go of Emma's hand to hug Ingrid. Killian laughs lightly and Emma's heart swells with happiness.
Ingrid's house is warm and cozy when they come in and Emma makes sure Katie takes off her shoes and coat before she runs around the house. Jack is still tired and clings to his dad, who cuddles the little boy in his arms as they join Ingrid in the living room where the fire roars and presents sit under the tree ready for Christmas.
'Liam messaged to say he's on his way, their flight came in late last night and the girls were tired.' Killian explains and Ingrid nods as she pulls Katie onto her lap.
'It's been a few years since I've seen them all, how old are Liam's girls now?' Ingrid asks as she pulls a soft, fluffy blanket over Katie.
'Anna is eighteen, Ellie is sixteen and Maddie is fifteen. They're so grown up now.' Killian shakes his head in disbelief and Emma looks at her own children, not even able to imagine them being that age.
'Well Katie here is growing up fast too. You look just like you're mom, honey.' Ingrid smiles at Katie, who blushes and looks over at Emma bashfully. Katie's long blonde hair is wrapped in a braid but Emma sees their true similarities in Katie's green eyes. Killian even calls their daughter cygnet sometimes, although Katie thought it was just a funny word until she learned about baby animals at school.
Jack looks like Killian though, all ruffled dark hair and blue eyes. He's fallen back asleep in Killian's arms and Emma loves watching him sleep peacefully. She rests her head against Killian's shoulder, enjoying the feel of his free arm solid around her waist. They chat for a while before Ingrid remembers all the baked goods she has for everyone and Katie goes with her to the kitchen to bring them out.
'Things haven't been this quiet in a while.' Killian says softly and Emma smiles. Between the renovations of Killian's art studio at home, a five year old and a two year old plus the holiday season, their lives have been rather loud and busy recently.
'I know, I'm trying to savour it.' Emma replies, closing her eyes and relaxing at the peaceful atmosphere of Ingrid's home.
'Katie asked me the other day if we could invite one of her friends to join us for Christmas.' Killian murmurs, careful not the wake Jack as he speaks.
'She's only in kindergarten and she's already making friends and inviting them over, she definitely does not get her social abilities from me.' Emma laughs lightly and Killian's arm tightens around her.
'She said that her friend doesn't have any parents.' Killian adds quietly and Emma's heart sinks. Emma's mind has been on her own childhood as an orphan recently, particularly now that she has her own family and she remembers what it was like to not have one growing up. It still hurts sometimes, to remember those nights she would cry herself to sleep because she had no one to kiss her goodnight as a little girl. Maddie used to call her a lot a few years back when she was having a difficult time accepting the fact that she was adopted. Liam and Isobel were upset that Maddie couldn't talk to them about it, but Emma knew how the girl felt. It isn't something that is easy to discuss with someone who hasn't experienced it, and it's nice to know there's someone else who has felt as alone as you.
'I remember what Christmas at the group home was like. Katie's friend can spend Christmas with us.' Emma says firmly, Killian's only response a soft kiss on the top of her head.
Liam and Isobel arrive a while later and suddenly the house is full of noise. Ingrid is hugging everyone at the door and Liam comes in with a bag full of gifts for under the tree. Jack has woken up now and giggles at his uncle, who scoops him from Killian's arms to cuddle him. Katie latches on to Liam's leg and he crouches down to say hello to her when Isobel and the girls come in and there is a chorus of 'hello', 'merry Christmas' and 'you're so tall now'. Maddie comes straight to Emma and she hugs her tightly.
'You're almost as tall as Anna already.' Emma smiles and Maddie blushes. Anna and Ellie, although more mature now, still have bubbly personalities while Maddie is more reserved. Anna comes to give her a hug too and Emma realizes that her niece is no longer a little girl. She's just started university in September, studying Psychology and living on her own now. She tells Killian all about it while Ellie comes over and Emma smiles. She's sixteen now but she still has a round, childlike face and freckles on her nose. Emma brings up the boy she had seen tagged on Facebook with Ellie in a couple of pictures and she blushes before gushing about him, Maddie teasing her about the time she saw them kissing.
Katie comes to sit on Emma's lap, listening to her cousins talk and copying their British accent every so often, making them laugh and try to speak with an American accent instead. The room is full of laughter and warmth and Emma leans into Killian happily. He kisses her cheek and tickles Katie's tummy, the girl squirming on Emma's lap and giggling.
'Daddy!' She laughs until he stops, red faced with her hair falling out of her braid. Emma unravels her hair and brushes through it with her fingers gently, Katie sucking her thumb as she relaxes.
'You're so much like your mum, Cygnet.' Killian says softly and Emma smiles to herself. Jack climbs back up on the couch beside them and Emma ruffles his hair, sighing when she sees his big blue eyes and red cheeks.
'And you, little one, are so much like your dad.' She says, laughing when Jack giggles and points to Killian. Emma cuddles up with her husband and children, settling down to watch a movie with the rest of their family. The room is dim, the only light coming from the fire, the Christmas tree and the TV as the movie starts. Emma looks around, seeing Anna and Ellie lying on some cushions on the floor like they did as little kids. Maddie sits curled up with Liam and Isobel on the other sofa and Ingrid sits in her armchair, a small smile on her face too.
It's late when they drive back home and Katie and Jack are asleep in the back of the car again, Emma speaking quietly so as not to wake them up.
'Do you remember our first Christmas together?' Emma asks as she watches the flakes of snow in the headlights of the car.
'Aye, of course I do.' Killian replies, looking over at her for a second before looking back at the road as he drives.
'We'd only just started dating, it feels like so long ago.' Emma says thoughtfully. A strange sensation builds in her chest and she realizes that her relationship with Killian is one of the few things in her past that she can look back on and be happy about.
'You were right back then, I was miserable.' She says, gritting her teeth at the distant memory of her life.
'I didn't know you when I said that.' Killian says apologetically as she shakes her head.
'No, but you were right all the same. I lived in this bubble where I just ignored anything that made me think too much about how unhappy I was. That's why you frustrated me so much when we first met, because you made me accept the fact that I was miserable. You also made me realize I could be happy if I just let myself.' Emma doesn't know why these emotions are suddenly hitting her. She always feels nostalgic around this time of year but she tends not to dwell on these things, until now.
Emma jumps slightly in surprise at Killian's warm hand on her thigh before relaxing, placing her hand over his and curling her fingers.
'We needn't focus on such things now, love. That was so long ago and things are much better now, aren't they?' Killian's voice is both soothing and concerned and she squeezes his hand tighter at the thought that he's unsure if she's happy with him.
'Yes. I've never been happier.' Emma smiles, looking over at him in the darkness of the night. She can see his own smile in the way his cheeks move and she wants so badly to kiss him. Sometimes she forgets that they're married, even six years after their wedding. Sometimes she feels like she wants him so much that she forgets he is actually hers and each time she remembers she feels like she falls even further in love with him.
'I love you.' Emma says happily and Killian chuckles, a deep little laugh that makes her stomach flip.
'I love you too.' There is such simplicity to the way he says it that her heart squeezes. They tell each other every day, when they leave for work in the morning and before falling asleep at night, usually in passionate whispers when they make love and when they embrace each other after hard days. But sometimes the words are like a routine, and while she never doubts his sincerity, it's nice to hear him say them with such honest happiness.
Once they're home they get the kids into their pajamas and tuck them into their beds. Killian hugs Katie just as Jack begins crying in the next room but he already sees the flash of blonde hair in the doorway as Emma goes to calm down their son.
'Daddy, are you happy like Mommy is?' Katie asks as he switches on her nightlight and smiles curiously at her before he understands what she means.
'Ah, so you weren't that tired then if you stayed awake in the car.' Killian teases his daughter, who bashfully pulls the covers almost over her face. Killian kneels down beside the bed, tucking the quilt around her chin so he can see her face again. Her little green eyes look up at him and he brushes over her blonde hair.
'Aye, I'm happy lass. Your Mum and I are very lucky to have found each other, and we're even luckier to have you and Jack.' Killian says softly. Katie smiles before yawning and he kisses her forehead, turns off her lamp and says goodnight.
Jack's crying has stopped now and he finds Emma in the next room, cuddling the little boy and murmuring soothingly to him. Jack's fingers curl around his mother's hair as he sniffs from his tears, giggling at something Emma says. Killian could watch Emma with their children all day.
She turns to see him in the doorway and her smile squeezes at his heart. Jack has calmed down now and wants to go to bed and Killian comes in to tuck him in and say goodnight. When the little boy turns his head away and closes his eyes Emma finds Killian's hand and laces their fingers together, quietly leading him out of Jack's room and towards their own.
Emma has a soft smile on her face as she closes the door and prepares for bed, one that he mirrors as he undresses too. He climbs into bed, looking over at their wedding photo like he does every night before going to sleep. Killian isn't really sure why he does it, particularly as Emma is right beside him but the picture of her in a beautiful white gown reminds him that she is his wife and even after six years that fact still makes his stomach flip.
'What are you thinking about?' Emma murmurs as she joins him in bed, immediately laying her hand on his chest.
'That I still can't believe you're my wife.' Killian replies with a smile, his chest feeling heavy when Emma looks surprised. They make love before falling asleep, their bodies tangled together and Emma's head tucked into his neck, kissing his skin softly until she drifts off. Killian takes a little longer to fall asleep, just enjoying holding Emma in his arms.
They were having a stupid fight a few days ago. Emma was complaining about how long the renovations to his art studio were taking and Killian said that it wasn't his fault, prompting Emma to point out that he chose the company that's doing the work and that if they had gone with her choice it would have been finished by now. Killian rolled his eyes and snorted because of course Emma's choice was the right one and she scoffed and said that was because she actually did the research into the company. She was pretty smug when the head contractor told them they would need to wait until after Christmas to continue so Killian ignored her for the rest of the day.
When they had gone to bed they were both passive aggressively sighing and pulling the comforter away from the other until Emma turned around, not expecting him to be facing her. The anger was gone from her face for a moment and he clenched his jaw at the sadness in her eyes before he kissed her. She let out a muffled gasp but otherwise kissed him back and he pulled her in his arms until she straddled him and he held on tightly to her. It was a stupid fight, not even serious, but he hated being at odds with her.
They haven't parted much since the argument and Killian is reminded of how much Emma hates conflict. During the first few months of their marriage she would apologize for everything even if she wasn't at fault just so they wouldn't argue anymore and Killian's heart hurt for her. She's not so bothered now but she always kisses a little harder and hugs a little tighter after a disagreement.
'Emma.' Killian whispers, gently rocking her until she stirs. She groans but he knows she wasn't deeply asleep just yet.
'I love you.' He tells her softly, watching as she rubs her eyes and squints at him.
'I love you too. But I also love sleep.' Emma grumbles and he can't help the laugh that slips past his lips.
'I know, but I love you.' Killian grins, feeling rather than seeing her glare as she lifts her head.
'What's the difference?' She asks with a reasonable level of irritation and he inhales. He can feel her bare skin beneath his fingers as he caresses her waist, soft skin and beautiful curves he knows so well now.
'I just love you so much. That's all.' Killian replies, feeling the tips of her hair tickle his chest. He feels her soften as she brushes her fingers across his jaw delicately until she hums softly.
'You know more than anyone that I don't like being woken up, but I'll make an exception this time.' Emma teases and he lifts his head to kiss her.
'I love you too, Killian.' Emma repeats, a smile on her lips as they press against his.
They're both tired when they wake up in the morning, shuffling downstairs to give the kids breakfast at an hour that is far too early for people that were up half the night. Killian's black circles are far more pronounced that he would prefer but he doesn't really care when he watches Emma and their kids at the kitchen table. Emma ruffles Jack's hair as he runs his crayons along his colouring book erratically (she always jokes that he may look like Killian but he certainly doesn't have his artistic abilities) and kisses the top of Katie's head as she reads her favourite fairy tale book, the one Killian drew all the illustrations for.
Emma brings over a much needed cup of coffee and although it's mostly his fault he doesn't feel guilty for the black circles under her eyes too. A comforting buzz of warmth settles in his chest as he looks over his family and realizes he finally has the life he has wanted for himself since seeing his brother build his own family. Emma smiles too and he knows she feels the same, maybe even more so.
It's a wonderful thought to have, knowing she has found love and happiness in him just as he has in her.