Henry was sitting up in bed with his Storybook in his lap and he was fervently reading over every page, absorbing all the colors and words as he eagerly moved onto the next story. He often sat alone in his room reading, or he traveled to his Castle.
The Castle was actually just a playground down by the harbor where Henry went after school most days. Sometimes his mother would find him there, his nose buried in the book. She would come and sit with him, and he would tell her about all the stories he had been reading in his book. She smiled and listen intently. She never let on what she really knew. Henry didn't know the things she knew.
It had been a cold November afternoon, and Henry had already been fighting a cold that some kids at school had been passing around from bottles of glue during arts and crafts day. He had gone out to the Castle and the wind whipped through the swing set, as though ghosts were spending the day swinging their cares away. As Henry went to sit in his normal spot, as a knight on the lookout, he realized he had left his coat in his cubby back at school. By the time he had gotten home, he had practically become an icicle. He was coughing, and his nose was running like a race horse when he found his mom in the kitchen.
When she saw Henry shuffle through the doorway into the kitchen, nose running, cheeks red, and fingers balled up in his pockets, Emma just kind of smiled and shook her head.
"Cold?" Emma smirked, Henry looked at her incredulously. She pulled him into a hug as he buried his face into her sweater. As he pulled back, Emma could see the snot trail he left on her over-sized ivory sweater. She breathed heavily. "How about you head upstairs, put on something warm and climb into bed and I'll be there in 5?" Henry nodded and turned to trudge up the stairs, backpack dragging behind him.
Emma located the cinnamon and the hot chocolate mix from the cupboard and began the process of making the same cinnamon hot chocolate she grew up loving. It brought a smile to her face to know that something that used to bring her such comfort might do to the same for her son now. She finished up, put Henry's hot chocolate in the giant mustache mug that his dad had given her for Christmas last year, and headed up the stairs. Little did Henry know that Emma had spiked it with cough syrup.
"Hey, kid, I brought you some hot chocolate!"
"With cinnamon. Of course."
Henry took the mug with both hands and sipped slowly. Digging out the marshmallows with his spoon and swirling the whipped cream down into the steamy chocolate pond so that it would melt in with the cinnamon, a concoction he learned from his mother.
Emma could see Henry start to get sleepy as he drank more of his hot chocolate. His eyes grew heavy and they drooped as he tried to keep talking to Emma.
"Honey, I think Mary-Margaret is going to bring your coat by the house later…" Emma whispered, not sure if Henry was still conscious enough to comprehend. He kind of nodded, then nodded off. Emma took the mug out of his hands before he spilled the remains on his bedspread. She leaned down to kiss his forehead then headed at the door, stopping to look back just before she turned the light switch off.
The next morning, Emma decided what Henry needed was a Saturday in bed, so she decided to call in the reinforcements.
She knocked softly and pushed the door open just in time to see Henry sitting up in bed. He slammed his big story book quickly and coughed as Emma reached the bed.
"Hey, kid. Are you feeling any better?" She asked as she sat on the edge of his bed.
"A little bit." Henry answered quietly, sighing heavily.
"You have some company today, Mary-Margaret is here."
"Can't you tell her I'm sick?"
"That's why she's here!"
"But she'll touch my face and coo at me, I hate that." Henry scrunched up his nose, and pulled his Storybook close to his body, resting his chin on the binding.
"Oh, maybe she won't." She tried to reason with Henry as Mary-Margaret came waltzing into the room.
"Hey! How's my sick Henry!" She rushed the edge of his bed and touched his cheek, then moved her hand to his forehead. "Oh, you don't seem too warm there!" She smiled at him, eyes full of energy, as Henry looked toward his mother with a face that screamed, are you serious?
"I saw you left your coat in the classroom yesterday! I'm so sorry you had to walk home in the cold!" Mary-Margaret sighed. "Lucky for you, I don't live far and called your mom, and she suggested I just come over for the afternoon!"
Henry turned to look at Emma. His mother just shrugged him off with a small smile, "I think I'll leave you guys alone. If there is anything you need, I'll be downstairs working on some paperwork." Henry watched his mom leave as she closed the door behind him, and then he coughed again behind his book. Peering back at Mary-Margaret, Henry tried to smile.
Mary-Margaret noticed the old binding on the book, "What you got there Henry?"
"Just a book. It's um, got stories in it. You know… uh, Snow White, Red Riding Hood… that sort." Henry said warily. Mary-Margaret smiled back at him knowingly.
"You like stories, huh? Well, then have I got a present for you." Henry raised an eyebrow as Mary-Margaret pulled out a similarly old-looking book, though it was much smaller. "This is a special book, you see. I've been waiting for the day to be able to read this to you. See, your mother told me this story once when I was really sick, and now it's time you hear it."
"Special, huh? Is there even any action?" Henry asked skeptically.
"Action? Oh, you want action." Mary-Margaret asked devilishly. "We've got sword fighting, ogres, evil queens. There's even a one-handed man. True love, miracles, the whole package."
Henry perked up a little big, it almost sounded familiar. Could this be just like in his own Storybook? "I guess I could try and stay awake."
"Oh, that's awfully nice of you, Henry." Mary-Margaret shook her head a bit, knowing that soon, he wouldn't want her to stop reading. "Here we go, the Princess Bride. Many years ago, in the Enchanted Forest, lived a young woman named Emma…"
Emma had grown up riding horses and tracking things down in the woods. She was good at finding things. More than anything in world she loved to be out on her own, riding through the forest dodging the low branches as she whipped in and out of the tree line… well that, and tormenting the farm boy, the son of the blacksmith. His name was Killian, but of course she never called him that.
Mary-Margaret sighed, "Isn't that a wonderful beginning, Henry."
Henry, not wanting to seem too interested, said, "Oh yeah. It's good."
Emma always got such joy from bossing Killian around.
"Farm boy, please make sure that my horses get fed tonight. And make sure that they are tied up properly, I don't want them wandering out past the meadow again."
"As you wish." Killian answered, his voice gentle but with an air of amusement. He scrunched his nose as he tried to hide a smile. Emma smiled with tight lips, nodded and turned to retreat back to her own house.
As you wish was all Killian ever said. Ever so gently, with a edge of laughter, and without hostility. As if her wish was the only thing that mattered in the world.
There were days when Emma brought simple tasks to him. Tasks she could have easily done herself, but instead, she waltzed her way down to the farmhouse to have him take care of them.
"Farm boy, fill these water pails out of the well."
"Farm boy, the chickens coop needs to be cleared out by nightfall."
Every time, he replied, "As you wish." Even if with a smirk, or wink. He did it, without fail.
"Farm boy, can you bring a load of firewood in from the barn… please?" She caught herself, wanting to ask him nicely, for once, as she began to realize how demanding she could be.
As every time before, he countered with, "As you wish." Eyebrows raised, head cocked, mouth in the smirking position.
It was in this moment that she realized, when Killian said as you wish, what he was saying was, I love you, silly girl. She felt her pulse quicken, and her heart raced in her chest.
The day soon arrived when she realized, she too, loved him back. Killian was bringing in firewood to the kitchen while Emma was preparing for dinner. He came in swiftly, gently, with a hop in his step, as he always did when she was concerned. He was turning to leave, and she was flustered. Wanting an excuse, any excuse to speak to him, to get him to stay.
"Uh - erm, Farm boy!" She almost yelled. Killian turned around slowly, his blue eyes locked on hers.
"Would you hand me that bowl?" Emma stammered while looking at the bowl just a foot away from her own hand. Clearly, closer to her than him.
Killian blinked slowly, his head tilted to the right, there was a small smile hidden on his mouth. Peaking out behind his reddish scruff, and Emma's eyes lingered on his mouth for just a moment, before snapping to.
"As you wish." He marveled, as he stepped closer to Emma. His eyes were narrowed, and he was grinning. He stood but a foot away as he reached for the bowl, never breaking eye contact with Emma. He held up the bowl, as if to say this bowl, this bowl that is within an arm's reach? Emma couldn't help but smile as he handed her the bowl, stepping closer. He gently brushed a strand of hair from her face. Emma grew flush as Killian stepped away, comically bowing and turned toward the door.
Emma stood there frozen for a moment. She stood there trying to comprehend her feelings, her face was warm. Everything felt fuzzy. All of the sudden she was running out the door, only to see Killian standing a hundred yards away in the field. Behind him the sun was setting, and in that moment she didn't care, and they were kissing. His hands were in her hair. Hers were behind his neck pulling him in closer…
"Wait. WAIT. That can't be the whole story! You just started. Are you trying to trick me or something." Henry whined. Mary-Margaret couldn't help but display a bit of amusement at Henry's reaction. "Where's the sword fights? The ogres? You said there would be miracles and a one-handed man!"
Henry sneezed and sniffled as Mary-Margaret tried to get a word in but Henry wouldn't have that, "Is this just a kissing book? Is this the whole story?"
"Just hold on would you?" Mary-Margaret held her hand up to stop Henry. "Let me read!"
… Killian tasted salty from working on the farm all day. Emma didn't mind. His teeth pulled on her lip just slightly as she pulled away, breathing heavily. He lowered his head to meet hers. Forehead resting on forehead. His hands grasped her face and he placed a kiss on her forehead, ever so slightly. The kiss felt like a whisper, like a secret, something that could never be taken away from them.
This was just the beginning, and from that day forward they spent all of their free moments together. Laughing, smiling, kissing.Emma would even help with his chores. They talked for hours, getting to know each other.
"I wasn't always a farm boy, you know." Killian said one day.
Emma was completely caught off guard, just a moment before that they had been talking about tying knots and sailing terms that Killian had picked up from the sailors in the market.
"What are you talking about? You've been here as long as I can remember."
Killian looked back at her, "My father died when I was very young. My family was a little messed up, to put it simply." His eyes began to look sad, and Emma put her hands on his. They were now both sitting crossed-legged in the barn, facing each other. "My grandmother was a powerful woman, and she wanted my mother to be just like her."
Killian was struggling with the words, as if he was trying to find a very distant memory. "I was so young. I didn't understand what was happening."
He was looking at their hands now, enclosing his own rough hands around hers. Her sweet hands that were now starting to get small calluses from helping him on the farm. "My grandmother didn't like my father, he was just a stable hand. He was from a small village like this one. My grandmother was a queen. She couldn't have her daughter marrying someone like him. I was five. He took me far away from our castle, to live with his brother Jacob. It wasn't until I was older that he told me what had happened."
Emma shifted herself so she was closer to Killian. Their foreheads met and Killian reached down to move the hair from her face. "Hey, there's no reason to be sad! I would never have met you, love."
She looked up at him. "What happened next?"
"From what Jacob told me, my grandmother could not convince my mother to leave my father. She," Killian wavered slightly, then clearing his throat he managed to grit out, "She killed him. She reached into his chest and ripped out his heart. In front of my mother. From what I hear, this was the breaking moment for her. Cora had won. My grandmother had won."
Emma's eyes grew wide, "I'm sorry, your grandmother is the Queen of Hearts?! So that would make you, the Evil Queen's… son?"
"She doesn't know where I am. If she was to find me, I'm not sure what would happen. She would take me away from you." He kissed her forehead, that was currently scrunched up into a scowl from thinking too hard.
"Why stay here though, if you knew you were a rightful prince and all that, why stay here and be a farm boy?"
"And go back to a wicked queen and a grandmother who killed my father? I wouldn't have anything to do with that! Don't be daft, silly girl." He smirked at her, but she just shook her head at him. He laughed at her obvious concern toward the situation.
Then he just grabbed Emma's face aggressively, pulling her into his lap. He pulled her mouth onto his, lips warm, breath hot and her eyes shut tight as she brought her hands to his chest, gripping his shirt. His tongue raced over her teeth, and she let out a small sigh. They pulled apart and she buried her head into his chest, and they sat there. Not speaking.
More time passed, and they grew inseparable. Killian knew he wanted to marry Emma, but he had no money. He had no means. He would have to go off to find a way to ask for Emma's hand. He would have to come back for her.
Emma didn't know how to feel. For so long she'd been independent and so sure that she didn't need anyone else. There, in that moment, Killian was what she wanted, what she needed… but he was leaving.
"I don't believe this." Henry whined.
"Will I see you again?" Emma asked into his shoulder as they embraced. He held her there, as the wind tried to sway them from their spot. His hand was cradling the back of her head, thumb stroking her hair.
"Of course you will."
"What if we don't find each other again, what if something awful happens?"
He pulled back, so her could look at her. His hands on both sides of face, calloused and worn from the years of working on the farm… but there was something so soothing about them. She put her hands on top of his, resting her small fingers the gaps of his, thumbs entangled together. He looked at her sternly, earnestly.
"Listen me, here, now. I will always find you."
"How can you be so sure about that?"
"Our paths will cross. You might even find me first, that's what you do, isn't it? And one day, we will meet again, our paths will cross. This is true love. This I am sure of. Do you think this happens every day?"
"Don't forget me."
He brought his lips to hers once more, his scruff brushing against her tear-ridden face. It was a slow kiss, but it aggressively stopped time. It was their moment.
And then he was gone. And Killian never reached his destination. His ship was attacked by pirates, pirates that never left captives alive.
Emma didn't lose hope, until the day she received word that Killian had been murdered by the dreaded Captain Hook. Her breathe grew short, and her heart ached. It ached until it was dull, numbing pain that lasted for days upon days. She locked herself in her room, vowing never to love again. The pain of losing the one she loved in that moment far outweighed the love she once felt.