It had been four months nearly since Princess Emma was taken. They knew she was taken by Lord Gold's orders. A man who was known as Rumpelstiltskin, due to the crooked business ways he used to gain his wealth. The rumor was his son tried to court the princess but she refused him. Gold took this as a personal offense and hired someone to take the princess.
By now everyone knew Princess Emma was missing. It made searching for her a bit easier. But it also put her in danger if just anyone found her. Last they heard from the king, Gold was under house arrest awaiting a trial and his son was a fugitive. Gold refused to say much but they did know the princess had escaped from him two months ago.
He was glad she was free and it seemed within her character to take charge and escape on her own. But it posed the question, why hadn't she returned home? Did she not want to? Or had someone worse found and taken her prisoner again?
They were in King Thomas' kingdom and he and his wife were friends and allies of the royals of Misthaven which made searching easier. Some of their soldiers were helping search for Princess Emma and that was a great help since it was the day before the king and queen's anniversary ball so everyone was bustling around in preparation.
Liam was speaking to the owner of the inn while he and some men searched the room and grounds. He had just finished with the last room on the second floor when he took a moment to look out the window. He saw hundreds of people milling about the main square. But his eye caught a flash of blonde before the person entered a shop. And he knew that golden hair anywhere.
He ran out of the inn as if it were on fire and made his way through to the people to the shop across the street. It took several minutes and that was several minutes too long. There were only four people including himself and the shopkeeper of the apothecary and none were Emma. He was about to leave when the proprietor came over to him.
"May I help you, Lieutenant?"
"Aye, ma'am, perhaps." He nodded. "I'm from Misthaven and came here to catch up with an old friend. I thought I saw her come in here. She's blonde and about seventeen or eighteen and was wearing a blue cloak I believe. Perhaps you know her and where she went?"
"Yes, that sounds like Miss Swan who was here a few minutes ago. I don't know her real name though but that's what she tells everyone to call her. She has a pet swan that follows her around like a puppy. It is the cutest thing. She came for a roll of bandages and I think she was heading to the market next." The middle-aged woman informed him then gave directions to the market.
He thanked the woman and left to find the market which wasn't hard. It was twice the size of the Misthaven market and it was just as crowded as the square. Maybe that was why Thomas resorted to trying a shoe on all the women to find Ella. But he managed to find his princess again, and not his princess but the princess of his kingdom, when he literally bumped into her.
"My apologizes, Swan." He said and once again he had no idea why he did.
"Whoa, do I know you?" She demanded of him and took two steps back and watched him warily.
"Not exactly, but I was sent here by your parents. I'm a lieutenant in their navy and have been looking for the lost princess, you, for months." He told her.
He saw fear flash on her face a split second before her knee came between his legs and she took off faster than a spooked horse.
"Bloody hell," He groaned and wanted to recover a few moments before going to tell Liam the news.
"Good, Killian, you're back. I was about to start worrying." Liam spoke when he arrived back at the inn where he and the others were having a quick lunch. "Where have you been?"
"I saw Princess Emma and ran after her." He began and sat across from his brother. "I know I should have told you but I didn't want to risk losing her."
"Well, it's obvious you did anyway." Liam pointed out as he poured water for both of them.
"Not exactly. I found her in the market after speaking to a shopkeeper who had seen her. And she's going by Miss Swan by the way. I tried to tell her who I was but she got me below the belt and left." He explained and shook his head. At least it was a small relief to know she could defend herself from others.
"Well, little brother…" Liam started then began coughing but he knew he was really laughing.
"Younger brother and shut it you git." He told quietly through gritted teeth so no one heard him disrespecting the captain.
"Did it occur to you that perhaps she was a random girl who thought you were a mad man she needed to get away from?" Liam questioned him and still had a stupid grin on his face.
"I know it's been a few years, and she's gone from being a lass to a lady in that time, but I know it was her. I know it was, Liam." He said earnestly.
"Alright, I believe you." His brother nodded. "I'll let the others know she's definitely here and we'll continue searching after lunch. We'll find her, Killian."
"I'm going to keep looking. She's probably out somewhere hiding now." He stated and grabbed two of the sandwiches to eat on the way.
He made his way to the outskirts of the village and found a road that looked like it had once been well-traveled but was slightly overgrown now. He decided to follow it and after an hour of walking he came to a small estate that was much more kept up than the road to get to it. Perhaps it was a vacation home for a nobleman.
He was about to make his way to the main door when he once again saw a flash of blonde in the garden. Again though, he was too late. Or at least that was what he thought until an arm came around his chest and held him with a vice-like grip while the other held a knife to his throat.
"Tell me who you really are and why you're here for me. And I want the truth this time." A woman's voice dangerously whispered in his ear.
"I told you the truth the first time, love." He replied and carefully swallowed with the blade still too close for comfort. "I'm Killian Jones, a lieutenant. My brother Liam is my captain and he received orders from King David to search for Princess Emma and return her home safely."
"Why should I trust you? How do I really know you're from my kingdom?" She demanded and pointed the knife just a bit closer. "And do not call me 'love', sailor. If you really think I'm the princess you will address me as such."
"My apologizes, your highness." He sighed and tried to think of a way out of this, or at least get the knife away from his neck. "The annual parade was cancelled due to your absence. But everyone was told it was because the queen was on bedrest for the safety of her and the child she's carrying. And even though it's been announced that you're missing, only the people of Misthaven know that the queen isn't having any difficulties."
"My mother isn't sick?" She gasped and turned him around so they were face to face and he saw the hope in her eyes.
"Only with worry I should imagine." He replied and let out a relieved breath that the knife was now at her side.
"Anyone could have put the pieces together and figured out it was just a cover up." She stated after a moment of relief for her mother. "Tell me something about you. Why should I trust you specifically?"
"I love my kingdom and loyally serve to protect it. I would never want any harm to come to you or any of your family." He began and debated if he should tell her the next part. But if it didn't make her believe him then nothing would. So he gave it a shot.
"The parade day, when you were eight, a lad was watching and standing on a window sill for a better view. He picked up a flower that the wind had blown from your hair and started running after the carriage. He called out your name, somehow you heard him despite all the other cheers, and you smiled at him. Really smiled, not just the polite one you gave to everyone you saw. I was that lad, your highness."
She stared at him for minutes or hours, he wasn't sure as he stared at the ground. The only thing he was sure of was that he'd made a fool of himself and he wanted nothing more than to hide and never face her again.
"You're wrong." She whispered and he finally looked up at her.
"Don't correct me, love." He stated defensively, keeping a spark of anger at bay. "You can believe me or not but don't correct me. I was there, I lived it, and I know what happened."
"I can and I will." She argued and crossed her arms. "I only meant that you left something out. You also bowed as you should be doing now. Your younger self was apparently much smarter which is probably why I smiled."
"And I admired you because I thought you weren't stuck up like a lot of other girls and royals. If you want royal treatment why haven't you returned home now that you're clearly free?" He gave it right back then bowed with exaggeration to further get under her skin. "Your highness."
"I have my reasons and don't have to explain myself to you!" She shouted and he was lucky she didn't slap him. She only threw the knife at the tree behind him like it was a dart and it came much too close for comfort. Though he had a feeling he'd compliment her aim later.
He stood in the garden for several minutes, completely stunned. He couldn't believe she threw the knife at him and that he'd argued with her. He'd think to himself sometimes what it would be like to talk to her. He never imagined a shouting match and getting her mad at him.
After a few more minutes she came out into the garden again just as he about to go inside and apologize. She really did deserve his respects and he shouldn't have gotten so caught up in the moment with her. She was royalty and he was nothing but a sailor and a kitchen boy.
"Your highness," He spoke and quickly bowed when he noticed her presence, as he should have from the beginning. "I beg your pardon. I never meant…"
"No, you were right." She interrupted him. "I'm usually not like that. My parents taught me to respect others if I want respect from them. They'd give me worse than anything you could say. And you had every right to say what you did. You were only trying to help and I made that very difficult for you."
"Well, no harm done. And it's good to know you wouldn't trust just anyone." He told her with a small smile. And then added, "And I love a challenge."
"Are you sure there's no harm done? Even earlier?" She asked and glanced down as her cheeks reddened in embarrassment.
"It hurt but only temporarily. Unlike my pride when I told my brother who will most likely never let me forget." He answered truthfully. "Speaking of whom, we should head back to let him know the news. With any luck we can set sail with the tide tomorrow."
"No, I can't! Not yet." She told him and shook her head as she backed away in fear.
"What do you mean, love?" He questioned her and the last word slipped out of his mouth without him even realizing.
"I'm not ready. I know it sounds crazy and trust me, this hasn't been easy. And the months I spent with Gold, I wouldn't wish on anyone. But now that I'm free and on my own I love it." She replied and he could see the passion and sincerity in her eyes. "I've never had this before. I hardly leave the castle and if I do I have so many guards and people treat me differently because I'm the princess. Poor me and my perfect life, I know. It's my duty to serve my people and go back and I will. But not yet, please."
"Aye, you do have a duty, princess, as I have mine." He began and he hated to say it when she looked so desperate. He never wanted to disappoint or hurt her. But he forgot his place once already and he wasn't going to do it again. "And that is to bring you home, your highness. I'm sorry."
"No you're not." She sighed in frustration. "All anyone sees or cares about is that I'm the princess, not that I'm me. That's why I want to stay here. Maybe that's selfish but can't I have just a little time for myself? When my father married my mother for love instead of King Midas' daughter everyone thought he was beginning selfish. But look how happy they are now and how well the kingdom is doing.
"And I'm happy here. I'm not different. I work for things just like everyone else and I'm saving up for passage on a ship to get home. I don't want things handed to me on a silver platter anymore and it makes me feel good and useful for once, rather than just sitting around for people to admire my beauty. I take care of wounded and sick animals, that's sort of how I got my name in the village, and I caught two robbers all on my own. Can you imagine that?"
"I certainly can, considering your self-defense and knife skills." He told her and gave a quick smile. "And happiness is indeed an important thing, everyone deserves it. And I respect and understand that you want to work your way, it's an honorable thing I believe. But I can't just leave you behind as if I never saw you. I lost you in the crowd when I was ten but I won't lose you this time."
"We're not little kids anymore." She stated and shook her head, trying to put a wall between them and distance herself from that moment.
"Indeed, which means that we have responsibilities. You need to go back to your parents and kingdom now." He replied gravely, but he had to try and give her some hope. "If this is truly the life you want than tell them. They are the most benevolent rulers I've known. And if they want what's best for the people and for them to be happy then surely they want the same for their own daughter. Don't you want this with their blessing instead of being on the run?"
They spent several minutes in a silent staring match. Both of them too stubborn to give in. But eventually the princess sighed and nodded her head.
"Let's go find your brother." She gave in and headed towards the house, most likely to gather her things. But then she stopped and turned back around. "But only because I miss my parents."
He couldn't help but chuckle at her defiant statement after the door shut behind her. He had a feeling that never in a million years would the princess actually admit he was right about anything.
Once again, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this chapter as well. The response to the first chapter absolutely amazed me and Thank-you to each of you! This one was a lot of fun, getting to go back to season 2 & 3 Captain Swan and mixing in Anya and Dimitri's bickering beginning. There was a lot more I wanted to fit into this chapter but we'll get into it more in the next one. It's a long journey home with lots of time to talk. Thank you again and I'd love to hear more of your thoughts!