A / N Okay so this is very loosely based around the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Not the setting or anything but Emma and the Hunchback have some very similar qualities I accidentally incorporated in. The title comes from the song 'Cary on my Wayward Son' which I'd like to believe kind of describes this fic. Hope you enjoy it, and I really hope I did the characterization right! :) Oh, and also, in this story Captain Hook never lost his hand. He never went to Neverland either.
Emma Swan sighed and whipped the sweat off of her brow with the back of her hand. Her once luscious golden hair had turned brown and sticky and her eyes held a weight that any one under the age of fifty should never have.
There was a sway as the boat turned and for a moment she had hopped they were nearing a port. She could do with a bath, this grime did not suit her and her clothes were old and faded. For several sharp moments she resented how fifteen years ago Captain Jack had found her half starved and wandering barefoot on a port. The pirate had picked her up and taken her in. And from then onwards she worked on the ship.
She was never promoted and only saw the rifts of sunlight when they had neared a port and she was free to bathe and wander. Her once precious hands had long since become blistered and broken from constantly scrubbing the floors or something else just as harsh. Her hair had faded from the lack of sunlight and her skin became pale and porous.
With time Captain Jack died in a brawl and his son had stepped up as the Captain. Hook, as Emma called him, was just as cruel as his father but with double the taste of woman. Jack at least had tried to keep as celibate as possible for his wife back on the mainland.
Captain Hook did not have a hook. Actually, both his hands were intact right where they should be. But the way he could use a sword like it was a part of him was almost terrifying, and so Emma had begun to call him that.
"Oie, lady." One of the shipmates came down to the lower deck and peered at Emma. Like a shy, exclusive animal she raised her head. There were scars along her face from whips that had left permanent damage. The sight of her almost made the shipmate – Emma called him Todd – flinch but he resumed his talking. "We have made port, gather your bearings. We leave in five." And he snappishly made his way up the ladder onto deck.
Emma smiled and set down her mop. Quickly she vanished into her room (It was actually a cupboard) and gathered a long black cape and a bar of soap, along with this magical potion meant for hair, and quickly made her way to the deck.
Today was a sunny day but no to warm. She could see faint white clouds in the distance and palm trees lined the port. There were merchants and children laughing and dolphins played out on the surf. Quickly she covered herself with the cape to hide her deformities and rushed over to Hook.
"Oie, Lady." He said as she approached. There was distain in his voice as he saw her hideous outline of a face. On both sides of him were two whores who had stayed the entire trip and they didn't notice the boredom when he looked at them. They usually stayed in port for three days and so Emma was in charge of cleaning her master's quarters while he 'played around,' the thought made her shiver. "The bath house I assume?" His brow was raised and she nodded eagerly.
So he handed her three gold pieces and two silvers. She nodded her thanks, she hardly ever talked anymore. "Be back my nightfall, or the consequences will be great." This is the reason she had never attempted to flee, this threat that had followed her for fifteen years. She knew he had held magic, and Emma dared never to test the lengths that he held this power.
So she scampered off, the eternal limp from the time when she was thirteen and she had been a target of the shipmates to practice their swords. She was lashed in the calf that tore out some of her nerves. She is twenty-five now and the leg still didn't work as well as it should. But alas, she sufficed.
Making her way downtown she observed the people. Her fingers grasped hungrily towards the candy and the sweet shops but she didn't dare spend her bathing money. Hook only ever gave her enough money so she could get clean. Emma had grown up on dried fish and rice, the same thing everyday. Candy had never tasted her tongue.
Finally, after a thirty-minute trek – which would take a healthy person all but of ten minutes – she reached the bathing house. It was situated near the hills where a warm spring flowed and had been separated into different pools. There were the public ones, which went for much cheaper, and the private ones that cost a little more. Emma refused to bathe in the public ones due to the abundance of sex-driven men and she didn't want people to see her scars and deformities.
"Which one?" Sighed the old man that sat at the booth with boredom and anger.
"Private one, please." She said and her voice came out hoarse and cracked.
The man, curious to the lady with the hoarse voice, looked up at her. There was a sigh as he noticed the obvious slave. "Do you have money?" He asked, voice a little kinder.
She nodded, Emma was taught never to lie.
"Well that'll be two gold's and one silver ma'am." He extended his arm to take the money.
Emma looked back, shocked. The prices had gone down. With shaking fingers she pulled away the bath money and handed it to the man, and then looked back within her purse at what money had remained.
He then opened a door, which led down a narrow cavern, and Emma gave a brisk nod before dispatching downwards and into the darkness. What would she buy with this money! Oh, what a day she was having!
Emma dipped her naked body into the warm pool and sighed contently. There was something about the spa-fish that had greeted her, biting off her dead skin that made her feel clean. Slowly she dunked her entire body in, followed by head and finally greasy hair.
The fish had greeted her soothingly and she held her breath as long as she could as the fish bit away at her grime. Why did she have to serve pirates? Why couldn't she just float away on a bed of fish and wait in port for the pirates to bring back their riches, sell and trade along with them but stuck on land. Why did she have to be owned by stupid Hook who gave her the scars and her limp?
She sighed contently, drawing her face back up and blinking away the water droplets. The pool is only five-feet in diameter and at its deepest point its 6ft but to Emma, it just feels like heaven. So she grabbed her sponge and soap and let the cleansing begin. Even with the scars covering her body she felt like her life was beginning again. And for once, Emma Swan didn't care about her deformities or how much a ruthless bastard her master was. For once, she paid sole attention to herself and she liked it.
The bath had consumed two hours of her time and when she got out she knew she only had another two hours to get back to the ship. But still, she wanted to spend some of her time looking around Port, seeing that he'd only let her out one of the three days.
So she limped down the hill and neared the City. Emma didn't even know the name of this place but she liked the feel. It smelled of roasting pine nuts and candy in the works, there was the sniff of wood being shaven and the metalwork's. A small band of bass and fiddle played Lady My Finest and the music seemed to drift everywhere. There were dancing gypsies trying to make money and children who gaped wide-mouthed at a toyshop.
But the thing that had interested her the most was a small dark shop. It seemed to silhouette the town as a backdrop. There was a small little stool where an old, mysterious woman sat near the door. Her skin was tan and hair black and she must've been beautiful in her young age. She had silver nails and creased lips. But the most interesting part of her was her eyes, which were dark green and seemed to watch everything at once. She was watching Emma right now, who stood all but ten feet away.
"You look lost," she croaked with her head tilted. Emma shook her head kindly in response but the woman continued on. "I mean you look mentally lost. You've been hurt."
Emma shook her head kindly again but this time she spoke. "No, I'm fine." Her words came out shattered and broken and Emma was sure the woman could see within her lie.
Instead the woman handed her a small glass of a clear liquid. "Here, drink this. Your voice needs to be proper before we speak."
Emma eyed the liquid with caution. Captain Jack and Hook always warned her not to take things from strangers and so, to kindly refuse she replied, "I haven't any money to pay for it." She said and she found herself drawn closer to the woman on the stool that eyed her.
She shook her head and made a tisk-tisk sound with her tongue. "I do not charge those that need me the most. It is fear, so please drink it."
Emma sighed, heck, if she was to die then she'd great death with open arms. What could be worse then be a slave to a pirate? So she grabbed with glass with shaky fingers, sent a glance to the heavens and gulped it down.
It tasted like peppermint, or whatever peppermint was supposed to taste like, and held a hint of the salty ocean. It warmed Emma's vocals to a height that they'd never been before and she smiled as she could feel the old crook of her voice come back in golden quantities.
The woman smiled warmly at her, "better?" She nodded and almost chuckled, but her body was still bruised and broken so her joy was short lived. But the woman continued. "You talk whenever you can, this potion will ease your vocals but you still need to practice them."
"Yes, I will." Her voice was restored to something it had never been. It no longer sounded like an old woman but the young maiden that she was.
"Please come in," said the witch as she motioned to door.
Emma checked the sky to test her time, "yes Ma'am. But I'm limited on time… and like I've said, I have no money to pay you."
The woman eyed her with mischief, "we both know that is not true. But alas, for our first visit I will not ask for money. If you'd like to buy what I will offer, that is your decision."
And so the two women made their way into the dark-lightened room. The first thing Emma noticed was the bottles. There were hundreds upon hundreds of bottles, holding whatever Emma did not know. In the center was a small black table with two chairs and if it wasn't for the glowing crystal ball the room would be pitched into complete darkness. There was the scent of incense everywhere, which made Emma light headed. The lady motioned for Emma to sit down, so she did.
"Now, what is your name Maiden?" Asked the woman, her eyes half closed as her hands barely touched the crystal ball. The smoke inside was blue and looked like the stars as they sparkled in and out of reach.
"Emma… Emma Swan." Truth was, the name was invented. She was orphaned as a baby with only a blanket with the name of Emma on it. When she was seven she lived by a pond full of swans and decided to incorporate that into her name. Her love for swans never faded, even though she hasn't seen one since.
The woman nodded, "you can very well call me Astrid, now… you are slaved to a man. Not just any man, a king of the seas. Oh but this goes beyond him doesn't it? You knew your master when he was but a boy, you've grown up with him. But he is just as cruel as your former master. These two men have been cruel to you and haven't let you shine have they? No, you were destined for greater but you've cast out to a different platform."
Emma shivered at the witch's words and how true they had become. She hadn't told her anything of her life and yet she had grasped it perfectly. But the witch wasn't done. Now her eyes were open and peering at her with interest. "You know don't you? That this can all be reversed. You have been strong enough for these past fifteen years."
She watched her with hopeful eyes. Some part of Emma still believed in dreams like a little girl. In some way she had never matured beyond that day when Captain Jack took her away on his boat. She was shrunken and shoved away and never believed that she could ever be more then that little girl. But now, she was being given hope. And oh how new that was for her.
Just at that moment she looked out of the crack of where the door was and she noticed the daylight fading. She gasped and shrunk away, "I have to… my master… Hook…" the words were mumbled as she pushed her away out the door and she ran as fast as her dead-leg could take her. "I'll be back tomorrow!" She shouted before disappearing into the din of the city.