A/N: Just as the show has breaks, I needed one as well! =) But alas, I am back! How are you lovely people? Thank you so much for your continued support of this story. I received so many notifications while I was on hiatus, and for that, I am so happy! Wasn't the Season 2 Finale AMAZING?! Ahhh! Anyway, I hope to get back to writing this so we both have something to keep us company during the show's break! Happy reading, everyone! =D xx IFHD

? ? ?

Chapter 15: Demons

? ? ?

Inspired by:

"Demons"

By: Imagine Dragons

When the days are cold
And the cards all fold
And the saints we see
Are all made of gold

When your dreams all fail
And the ones we hail
Are the worst of all
And the blood's run stale

I want to hide the truth
I want to shelter you
But with the beast inside
There's nowhere we can hide

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It's where my demons hide
It's where my demons hide
Don't get too close
It's dark inside
It's where my demons hide
It's where my demons hide

When the curtain's call
Is the last of all
When the lights fade out
All the sinners crawl

So they dug your grave
And the masquerade
Will come calling out
At the mess you made

Don't want to let you down
But I am hell bound
Though this is all for you
Don't want to hide the truth

They say it's what you make
I say it's up to fate
It's woven in my soul
I need to let you go

Your eyes, they shine so bright
I want to save their light
I can't escape this now
Unless you show me how

? ? ?

Flashback - Fairy Tale Land

Killian could never tire of how her giggles would caress his ears, how her embraces could warm him to his very core. Although he had drawn the attentions of so many women in his bachelorhood - even many a wife - he had never in his life known a woman such as her. Upon thinking of himself as the luckiest man in all the lands, he would always muse to himself the reasoning behind the latter as 'perhaps it is because she is only half human!' He smiled to himself then - an action that was still too rare in his life. Other women could make him forget about his troubles, though only temporarily. But her? Even during their short time together, she gave him a reason to hope, to always have faith that he and his family would once again be reunited.

"Are you watching me sleep once more, Killian?"

The pirate's eyes became alit at the sight of her piercing, sapphire eyes fixated upon him. In an automatic motion, he held her lithe body to his chest, reveling in the warmth that she brought him. "I am still of the belief that a siren, not a mermaid, has bewitched me. I merely look to see whether you would somehow change forms throughout the night."

Ariel gave out a short laugh, then rolled Killian to his back in order to straddle him. "And I am still in disbelief, dear captain, that a pirate has captured..."

Killian sat up abruptly as he wrapped his arms around Ariel's waist. After a chaste kiss upon her cherry lips, he quickly interjected, "Now, now, love, might I remind you that you are in my bed as a result of your own volition and..."

"What I meant to say was," she pressed a smooth finger to his lips, then smiled sweetly, "...that a pirate has captured my heart and made me part of his world."

That statement effectively halted Killian's movements - including, he believed, the beating of his own heart. Her expression bore so much sincerity that he found it difficult to keep her gaze. When he attempted to turn his head to sever their connection, she gently placed her palm upon the side of his face and encouraged him to face her once more. She pressed her forehead upon his. "Because of you, I have found the courage to walk this earth - to embrace my human form upon this land. Because of you, I have come to know the emotion that humans have sung about for centuries..."

The more that Ariel professed her feelings for the pirate, the more constricted his heart became. Overcome by emotion, he pressed his lips hard upon hers, claiming them in a greedy kiss. He replied breathlessly, "In my entire life, I have never known anyone like you, Ariel."

Those words made Ariel's heart soar; however, it was easy for her to discern the change in the light in Killian's eyes. She frowned. "W-what is the matter, my darling?"

"Ariel," Killian began shakily, "fortune has graced my life with your presence, but our paths..." he paused, grasping the woman in front of him - clinging to her - "...My crew and I, we need to journey to Neverland, to find Long John Silver and my parents..." He gritted his teeth, then shook his head in agitation. "...the journey is wrought with dangers, and I cannot bear the thought of placing you in any harm, of taking you from your family or the sea..."

Ariel's rounded eyes began to well with tears. After a few moments of being still, she finally nodded, then hung her head. He was only trying to protect her, she thought, and to temper the misery of being away from the sea. She knew that he would never take the chance of forever separating her from her family by taking her into another unknown land - no matter how much she tried to convince him. He would sacrifice his own happiness for hers.

Killian surveyed her comely face, knowing precisely what was raging within her mind. He hated himself for making her feel this way, hated himself for ever bringing tears of sadness to her eyes. "I love you, Ariel, and I always will. But please understand..."

"I love you, Killian. I love you." The young mermaid let out a cry, then embraced the pirate so tightly that it seemed as though she would never let him go. "I promise you that our separation will not be forever. We will find a way."

? ? ?

Killian ordered his crew to clear the main deck as the sun began to disappear in the horizon. The yellow-and-orange-hued sea around them was eerily calm, devoid of lively waves and creatures. Killian peered at the woman at his side, who struggled to maintain her composure. The feeling of a thousand stabbing swords wracked his body at her grieving sight, and he attempted to appease his rising emotions by clinging onto her hand. He thought it a mistake a few moments later, for as Ariel retrieved her hand and stepped onto the plank, all of the warmth that she had brought into his life was instantly exorcised.

Light gusts of wind playfully tousled Ariel's long, ruby hair. She slowly closed her eyes as tears akin to tiny pearls cascaded down her rosy cheeks. Then, as she removed her clothing, she twisted her head slightly towards Killian.

With a forced smile, she dove into the water.

Before the mermaid disappeared once more into the depths of the ocean, Killian heard Ariel's disembodied voice:

"Find me again someday, Killian. I will wait for you."

End of Flashback

Emma's eyes widened as Mary Margaret's words quickly sunk in. She took panicked strides towards her mother. "Where are they coming from? Is everyone prepared?"

"Cora's minions have emerged from the forest and have begun to attack the town within half a mile's radius." David pursed his lips into a thin line, then placed a comforting hand upon his daughter's upper arm. "I've ordered some of the townspeople to barricade themselves in their homes and hide. Those who can fight are armed and positioned at different parts of the town. We can't allow them to advance any further."

At that moment, panicked screams seeped through Emma's slightly-cracked windows. The young woman took a cursory glance at her family. With a clenched jaw and a tensed back, she said, "Mary Margaret, please get Henry to Archie first; they need to stay hidden until this fight ends. David and I will go ahead and help fend off the attack. Join us as soon as you can." After receiving a curt not from her mother, Emma took one last look at Hook, embraced Henry tightly and whispered, "Be safe, kid," and then bolted out of her apartment with David.

Pandemonium lined the streets, with many of Storybrooke's inhabitants haphazardly running for their lives in every direction. In the distance, at the southern edge of the main street, Emma could discern a handful of Cora's minion steadily advancing at a marching pace towards the barricaded townsfolk, who stood ready and armed for combat. Though some shook at the sight of the oncoming attack, the resolve present on their faces remained unwavering. Emma was unsure just how outnumbered they were at this point, but she was determined to do more than her part to protect the people that she cared for and the town that she had grown to love.

Emma and David reached the barricade and stood beside Leroy, the rest of the dwarves, and others several moments later. The horde came closer, unrelenting and undeterred. David rested his hand on Emma's shoulder protectively and said, "Stay safe, Emma."

Emma gave him a half smile and nodded. She felt for the gun in her holster - a precaution that steadily grew into a habit. "You too, David."

As the father and daughter prepared, a glint of movement to the right drew Emma's attention. She instinctively placed her hand on the handle of the gun, but as her eyesight adjusted to the dim light while she focused on the distant form, she could discern a little girl who appeared to be no more than seven huddled and crying by her lonesome near the base of the Clock Tower. Emma frowned and moved quickly towards her, slightly zigzagging and pushing herself through the amassed crowd. As the Sheriff approached, the child became frightened and bolted down the street. "Hey, kid! Wait!" Emma breathed out, chasing after her for several meters. "It's not safe for you to be alone!"

"I could say the same for you."

Emma instantly stopped, as did the beating of her heart. She twisted her head back cautiously and squinted at a blinding light that met her eyes. That voice...

The owner of the voice stood before her, clad in a dark grey, long-sleeved dress shirt, black vest, and blood red tie. His light brown, wavy hair was perfectly groomed and trimmed, just as his short moustache and beard. His tall stature always reminded Emma of a marble statue, chiseled and strong, with every fine detail crafted to perfection. The light blue, beautiful eyes that he was blessed with looked down upon her with a glint.

Emma's eyes blurred with tears at his sight. Shock reverberated throughout her system, rendering her entirely still. With a strong gulp, she choked out: "G-graham?"

The man before her gave her the smile that Emma had longed to see for ages. "Hello, Emma."

"How is this possible?" The young woman finally managed to rip her rooted feed from the ground. She took a few steps forward and unconsciously reached out to him, her hand trembling. Her blurred vision took in his entire form. "I thought you were... Is it...is it really you?"

"It is."

"It isn't," another familiar voice answered in front of her. Emma's eyes were now drawn to Hook's coming form, which tread dangerously close to Graham's. The pirate kept his distance, however, sidestepping as he made his way to Emma's side. Now in between Emma and the other man, Hook's body remained taut, his arms readied at his sides. With blazing eyes, he easily recognized his former ally's move. "It's a trick, Emma."

From Graham's previous answer, Emma had already seen that he was lying; however, Hook's supporting statement only made the situation even clearer to her. In a swift movement, she drew her gun and pointed it directly at the man who she thought she used to know. Though racked with emotion, Emma remained tense and didn't allow her feelings to seep through her expression. "Cora. I thought you wouldn't be in town for long?"

A cloud of purple smoke engulfed Graham's body; as it dissipated into thin air, Cora's smiling form appeared. The witch was undeterred by the weapon pointed at her. Instead, an amused smirk graced her face. She moved a few steps forward, with her black cloak slightly being tousled by the wind, then clasped her gloved hands in front of her. "Oh, I'm still here, Emma. I've grown rather fond of the idea of playing with and ultimately destroying everyone in your town."

Emma snarled, her voice unwavering: "You'll be dead before that happens."

"No, my dear, I think that statement more applies to you."

At that moment, Emma felt her entire body tense. Then, she quickly found that she was unable to move entirely, her feet glued firmly in place. Her arms remained raised, gun still pointed at Cora; however, she had no control of any part of her body.

"You see," - Emma's hand now began to involuntarily twist back, with the barrel of the gun following suit - "you and your precious townspeople can try to stop me all you want, but you will never, ever succeed."

The barrel was now pointed right at the young woman's face. Her index finger shook in resistance as it slowly squeezed the trigger.

"Emma!"

Emma let out a cry as she found herself being tackled to the ground. The magic relented, and the gun fell from her hand and slid a few meters from her side when she hit the pavement. She momentarily shut her eyes and gritted her teeth at the hard impact, but was more than relieved that her brains currently didn't litter the sidewalk. She then used her elbows to prop herself upwards and felt the weight of her saviour on top of her.

"Oh, Hook!" Cora smiled sweetly at her former companion. "It's always great to see you up and running."

Though the pirate threw Emma a look of concern, his eyes darkened as he met Cora's stare. Hook stood straight once more, helping Emma up with him. He stepped forward in front of her protectively. Nonchalantly, he held out his arms to his sides and gave his head a light shake. "Oh, dear Cora, I'm always...up."

"We'll see about that."

"Why, Cora, I didn't know you felt that way about me. Unfortunately, I..." The pirate didn't manage to finish his quip, for a familiar form appeared to Cora's right at that moment. The witch remained still, but the new, glowing apparition moved forward and headed directly for the pirate.

She was just as he had remembered her when he saw her last: youthful, comely face; long, dark hair; sea-blue eyes; and pearly-white skin. She smiled at him and reached out a hand to touch his face. "Killian," came her whisper. Against his better judgement, Hook closed his eyes and prepared for the contact.

No warmth, no comfort.

Nothing.

"M-mother?" He breathed out, heart constricting. As he opened his eyes, her apparition continued to smile in front of him.

"Oh, how sweet!" Cora, thoroughly enjoying this display, giggled and pursed her lips mockingly. "You want to find her, Hook?"

The pirate's trance was quickly broken. "Bloody witch!" He snarled violently, baring teeth. "Dispel these images from my sight!"

"What?" The witch replied with mock innocence. "Don't like what you see?"

Through Cora's new trick, Emma had managed to rapidly retrieve her gun. In a swift movement, she pushed Hook out of the way, stood in front of him, and fired. The deafening shot caused both Emma and Hook to wince, but both remained fixated on Cora to assess the damage. The bullet managed to clip the witch's shoulder, causing her to cry out in simultaneous pain and anger. Her dark eyes blazed with rage, and she instantly conjured in her right hand a circular wave of magic. Emma and Hook stepped back with narrowed eyes as the red ball of energy continued to grow.

"Go."

Emma and Hook snapped their head to the right and perceived the owner of the voice.

Regina stepped forward, both hands in her trench coat pockets, and repeated, "Go." She motioned her head dismissively to the side. "I'll take care of my mother."