"Henry, you alright?"
"Hook!" Henry beamed as the pirate crawled up onto the broken surface of Henry's life-raft. He slashed at the ropes with his hook, grinning when the boy fell from his ropes and wrapped his arms around his waist.
"We have to help my mom!" Henry declared, letting go and turning his eyes up to the sky.
Regina and Triton were at a standstill, neither gaining the upper hand. It was the first time Hook had really gotten a chance to look at her. Grown to the size of a titan, Regina had shape-shifted to that of a giant octopus, with her eight long tentacles all working at gaining ground. She wrapped one around the end of Triton's trident whilst she swirled a bright ball of magic in her hands.
The King brought lightening down from the sky, using Regina's storm to his advantage. She ducked out of the way of the bolt, using her body to throw him off as she aimed the magic right at his chest.
It hit him dead centre, throwing him back and as he went over, Regina threw out her tentacles to wrap around his throat and his wrists; she knocked his trident from his hand and it fell into the water, disappearing from sight.
The wake that formed with their movements, tossed the small raft of broken deck roughly around, knocking them from side to side. But with each hit, a bright shimmer of purple magic rippled around them, keeping the pair safe from falling overboard.
"I think your mom's doing okay," Hook smiled down at Henry, wrapping his arm around the boy's shoulders as they both grinned up at her.
"We'll make a deal, Triton," Regina's deep, rumbling voice surrounded them. "I will let you live, but you will be bound to the sea. You will have no part in this world, no say in it's fate. You will live below the water with only your daughters for company."
Blackbeard watched from the deck of the Jolly Roger, looking over the side to his son clinging to Henry before looking up at the powerful woman with their fate in her hands.
"Perhaps you will learn to appreciate how precious your children are and you'll understand, what a stupid mistake it was to threaten mine."
Regina twirled magic in the palm of her hand, still holding the merman firm with her tentacles as she forced him to return to his normal size. Hook, Henry and Blackbeard watched on as Regina too, started to shrink. Smaller and smaller she became until she was a small, rain-drenched woman in a black trench-coat, holding the lord of the sea's throat with her bare hand.
She stood unsteady on a broken piece of the Queen Anne's Revenge, swirling a curse around the merman who had given up protesting before suddenly, he fell through the surface of the water and the storm came to an abrupt end.
There was silence for a time, a seagull crowed overhead and everyone froze, waiting for Peter to shoot up out of the sea; but nothing changed. A cool breeze moved over them, Regina's wet tendrils of hair stuck to her cheeks and refused to budge in the wind.
Henry and Hook watched on baited breath as she turned, so very slowly, to face them. When a broad smile broke out on her face, they each let out a long breath in relief, clinging to each other with one arm and punching the air with the other.
They hooped and hollered and Regina laughed, pretending to curtsy with the tails of her sodden coat.
Blackbeard watched them from the deck of the Jolly Roger with his heart in his throat. They were all standing on the broken pieces of his beloved ship, there was miles around them with nothing but ocean and his son was the happiest he'd ever seen him.
"Pick them up, Turk." He turned to the pirate who'd been cowering behind the wheel of the ship. The man peeked over with a sheepish smile before spinning the wheel to bring the Jolly Roger around.
Henry and Hook were closer, staggering onto the ship with excitement and Henry dashed to the side, waving for his mother. She saved them a trip when she disappeared in a puff of magic, reappearing at Henry's side.
The boy wrapped his arms around her in an instant, clinging to her coat so tightly his knuckles turned white.
"That was so awesome, mom."
"Thank you, Henry." She kissed the top of his head, patting down his hair with a gentle hand. "I'm just glad you're okay."
"Hook untied me," Henry gestured over his shoulder to where the three pirates stood, watching them. Turk remained behind the wheel and father and son were standing an arms length apart. But no longer was that arm extended on the end of a cutlass.
"Thank you," Regina breathed, her eyes set on Hook's.
"Any time, love."
Regina stepped out of Henry's arms, moving slowly across the deck as Hook took a step towards her. "I promise you, love, you don't even have to ask." He almost whispered the words as she stepped up to him, smiling widely, their chests just barely touching.
"I probably won't ask," She smirked and Hook chuckled.
"That works out then."
In the next breath, her arms were around his neck so tight he stumbled back, wrapping his arms with equal strength around her waist. She pressed her lips to his with such conviction that he lost all breath, his lips bruising with the pressure against his teeth. She pulled herself up closer, arms tightening around his neck as they kissed until their air ran out.
They could hear a faint laugh behind them and Regina laughed against Hook's mouth, kissing him again chastely before dropping back down on level feet.
"Perhaps we should head ashore." Blackbeard offered and they all looked at him, Hook and Regina's cheeks only slightly flushed with either their fervor or a touch of embarrassment.
"Good idea." Hook conceded, unwilling to let go of Regina's hand as she pulled Henry back into her side, kissing the top of his head again and holding on tightly as though he'd disappear if she let him go.
"We'll have to find the others." Hook spoke gently into Regina's side. "They'll want to know that the boy's okay."
"It's okay," Regina smiled. Raising herself on her tiptoes to kiss the corner of his mouth. "I'm okay."
"Good." He grinned.
"Pop," Blackbeard's heart jumped into his throat at the name. "You want to do the honors?" Killian gestured to the wheel with his hook, tipping his head to Turk, silently telling him to move aside. Hook wasn't leaving Regina or Henry now that he had them, clinging to Regina's hand as she hugged her son.
"Okay," Blackbeard breathed, nodding his head slowly. It wouldn't have looked like much to anyone else, but for a pirate to relinquish control of his ship was a surefire way to prove his trust. Hook was offering his father an olive branch and Blackbeard would have been a fool not to take it.
"Do you need some help?" Mulan asked gently, stepping into the room as Neal was trying to stand up from the bed.
"No," He winced. "I think I'm good." He smiled up at her, seeing her disbelief. "I'm just a bit stiff. I've been lying down too long and I really want to get above ground for a bit."
"Well," Mulan smirked. "It's a perfect day for it. We've got a bit of a surprise for you." Aurora's head poked through the curtain that had been working as a makeshift door for his room whilst he healed. Both women were smiling conspiratorially and Neal narrowed his eyes in mirthful distrust.
"What are you two up to?"
"Nothing," Aurora grinned. She had a far worse poker face than Mulan did, but Neal decided to humor them with a reluctant roll of his eyes and a small smile he couldn't force down; because these women had cared for him and nursed him back to health when they could have as easily left him for dead on the shore.
"Come on," Mulan grabbed his arm and aided him along. It was the clearest sign to anyone that had come to know her at all, that Mulan was getting impatient. An outside observer would see a woman helping the damaged man struggle on his feet, but Neal knew in Mulan's eyes, he was taking far too long to move.
It brought a smile to his face.
They stepped out into the light of the clearing in which the large tree stood. For the first time, he was seeing what had been his home, from the outside. It was a massive tree, it's tall roots stretching across the forest floor. It was strangled in vines that they'd manage to use to their advantage. Neal could see his own jacket and some of Philip's shirts hanging across a vine. They had a small fire pit in the centre of the clearing with stumps around it for stools and a rickety table off to the side with a small vase of wildflowers. No doubt Aurora's doing.
What caught Neal off-guard was the group seated around the fire. The sun had already started to set, covering the clearing in half-bright light with sunbeams and strips of chilling air. There were five bodies around the fire, including Philip who stood up to greet him with a broad grin.
But his eyes weren't on Philip.
The world had silenced to nothing, light had dimmed to a single source, shining on the long stream of golden hair. He saw her head turn, she looked up at Philip and then suddenly, her eyes were on his, wide and blue and happy.
"Emma?" He questioned, unsure if in the haze of his injuries, he was imagining that she'd come. "You're real?"
Uncharacteristically, she dashed for him, colliding with his chest with a force that knocked the wind out of him, but he laughed regardless. His good arm went around her back as she clung to his neck.
"I thought you were dead." She breathed into him and he pressed his eyes closed, glad of the moisture and heat at his neck because it meant she was real and there and not a figment of his imagination.
"So this isn't a rescue then?" He joked and Emma stepped back, looking into his eyes. She pressed her palm to the side of his face.
"If I'd known," She started but he halted her with a finger to her lips.
"I know." He grinned. "I'm just glad you're here." He brushed her hair from her eyes, smiling down at her. "I never thought I'd get to show you this place."
"I don't know if that's such a bad thing."
"Oh," Neal smirked. "Neverland is a creepy place, but it has it's beauty. I spent a lot of time here, a long time ago."
He looked over Emma's head to see his father standing a few feet away, just alongside hers. He smiled, nodding his head to the man. "Papa," He greeted and Rumple inclined his head with relief and dare he think it, pride. "It's good to see you, but,"
Neal's grin faltered for a moment as he looked back to Emma, his brow creasing in a frown. "Why are you here?"
Emma looked down to the ground for a moment before taking a deep breath. "Henry." She sighed. "He's missing. Tamara and Greg kidnapped him and brought him to this world, Neal, he's lost and he's alone and I've failed him."
Neal's eyes widened in fear and he opened his mouth to respond, but a voice from the shadows startled the group. "Not entirely," Regina's smiling face appeared from the trees. She turned, throwing her head over her shoulder as Henry's shrieks of laughter peeled out from the forest. The image of a smiling, laughing Regina was enough to startle them all, but close at her heels, Henry happily rode on Hook's shoulders.
When he saw the rest of his family, his eyes lit up with excitement, sparkling in the dimming light as his bright smile warmed them all.
"Safe and sound, as requested." Hook tipped his fingers to his forehead with a flourish before he let the boy down to the ground. Within seconds, Henry had his arms around Emma's waist, knocking the wind from her. Her back collided with Neal's chest and he groaned with discomfort, but assured her with a wave of his hand and a faint smile, that he was fine.
"You should have seen it!" Henry beamed, letting go of Emma once she'd kissed the top of his head. "Mom was amazing!" He bounced around the clearing, waving his arms enthusiastically.
"Henry, come now," Regina attempted to calm him.
"No, Mom, it was amazing." He grinned and turned back to his grandparents. "Mom made the storm and King Triton was there and he was huge, so Mom made herself huge too, but she wasn't just Mom, she was like the Kraken with long tentacles and crazy hair," Henry wandered around the clearing, trying to impersonate Regina with tentacles but he really ended up looking like a Egyptian mummy with the way he was walking. "She saved me and Killian and she defeated Triton. Blackbeard," He pointed and for the first time, the rest of them noticed the menacing pirate standing just behind his son's right shoulder, looking uncharacteristically sheepish. "he took out Peter Pan, it was amazing!"
Henry collapsed on one of the stumps near the fire, grinning but exhausted from the ordeal as well as the retelling.
"That was you," Neal looked up at Regina in wonder. "All those years ago, the creature that ravaged the seas of Neverland, stealing the voices of the mermaids, that was you?" He pointed at her, his eyes alight with mirth.
"I think it's time for you to rest, Henry." Regina smiled gently, narrowing her eyes when he showed signs of protesting. She only partly ignored Neal's questions; choosing instead to shrug her shoulders and pull Henry in front of her with his back to her and her arm across his chest.
Hook stepped up beside her with a hand to her lower back, speaking gently in her ear but loud enough for the others to hear, effectively cutting off any more questions Neal may have had. "We're not far from Tortuga, love, we could make it to the tavern tonight." She turned, meeting his eyes. "It'd make for a more restful night for all of us."
Regina looked out to the group who all nodded their ascent. "A real bed certainly sounds nice." David commented and Snow agreed with a nod of her head.
"Glad to see you're safe, Henry." She leaned over and kissed his forehead to which Henry just smiled contentedly.
With the sun finally gone for the night, the only light in the room was that of a single candle, flickering and dancing shadows across the wall. He could barely make out their faces from where he sat on a rickety old chair in the corner of the bay window; he had his heavy boots propped up on the sill and his arms crossed over his chest, intently alternating between the dim moonlit alleyway outside and watching her peaceful face.
She had one arm tucked under the pillow, supporting her head. Her rich, dark hair was spread out, a sharp contrast to the light sheets; and she had one arm wrapped securely around her son. Henry's head was rested beneath her chin, snuggled closely into her chest. He'd protested sharing a room with anyone, declaring how much older he had grown due to his adventure; he'd only agreed to share the bed with his mother under sufferance and the small pleading look Regina had passed Hook's way, begging him to lie.
Henry was too much of a hero to force his mother to be alone with a pirate, and too grown up to insist on his own room when there were few to spare.
Hook watched them, his face spreading into a smile as the moonlight slowly started to fill the room.
"There's room, you know." A small voice interrupted his reverie; he hadn't realized she was awake.
"I'm alright, love."
"Surely you're exhausted, you should get some rest."
Hook looked down at the boy resting peacefully in his mother's arms, snuggled in tightly as if he were still a tiny babe and he sighed. He chuckled to himself, twisting the tip of his hook underneath his fingernail with a tip of his head in their direction. "I'm not a part of that, love."
Regina blinked, carefully extricating herself from Henry's sleeping form without waking him, before she slowly crawled out of the bed and pulled a tattered woolen blanket around her shoulders. Hook's eyes dropped and his lips quirked at the sight of her bare legs, having taken to sleeping in his long, flowing shirt as if it were her own. He liked the thought and he certainly liked the look.
He watched her intently as she moved closer, stepping up to him and wrapping her arm around his shoulders. His arm went around her waist, bunching the loose fabric of the shirt and blanket tightly against her form as he pressed his eyes closed, savoring the feel of her fingernails against his scalp.
"You can be a part of it," She said breathlessly and he could feel her eyes looking down at the top of his head. "If you want to be."
"I tried to be," Hook's voice was soft, kept low so they wouldn't wake Henry, but also because he wasn't sure he had the strength to admit out loud, what he truly wanted; what he'd wanted for so long. "With Bae," He gripped her waist tighter, clinging to her and pressing the side of his face to her stomach. "I wanted to be a father to him."
"Who knows," She ran her fingers through his hair with a smile. "He's only in the next room, maybe now is your chance to prove it to him."
Hook shook his head sadly. "He's a grown man," He sighed. "And he has his father back, he has no need for me."
"Maybe not as his father, but there's no reason for you not to be there for him. To care for him, as you tried to so long ago."
"I just wanted a family," Hook buried his face in the fabric of her shirt and Regina pulled her other hand up to join the one that was already drawing gentle patterns against his scalp. "I wanted to feel that connection with someone."
"I've wanted that too, for a very long time." Regina choked out and Hook looked up at her.
"But you have Henry."
"I do," She smirked, brushing her fingers from his temple to his jaw, smiling down at him. "but Henry also has Emma and David and Snow, he won't need me forever."
"What will you do?" Hook questioned, bunching up the light linen shirt until he held clumps of it in his hand and was able to press a gentle kiss to her taut stomach, just above the line of her knickers.
"I don't know," She grinned, shivering at the touch. "I haven't thought about it." That was a lie; both of them knew it and Hook found himself smiling up at her, grinning with the knowledge of it. As much as he knew she loved her son, he knew she hadn't yet had her fill of being a mother; there was a part of her that still felt empty, even with so much of Henry in her heart.
"I'm not going anywhere, darling." He spoke firmly; his voice soft.
"I don't know that."
"I am a man of my word and I don't want to waste this." He placed another kiss to her hip, running the fingertips of his good hand along the inside of her thigh, causing her to shudder and suck her bottom lip into her mouth before she remembered where they were.
"Killian!" She hissed, shoving his hand away with a laugh, looking up to the sleeping boy in the bed across the room. Henry hadn't so much as flinched but Hook could feel the tension running through her body as she shivered against his side.
Hook tugged on her, pulling her closer into him until she fell, smothering a laugh in her hand as she landed in his lap. Blocked from the bed by his body, Hook grinned against her mouth as he pressed a kiss to her lips, letting his deft fingers draw invisible patterns on the inside of her thigh, dipping beneath the hem of her knickers.
"We can't." Regina whispered; breathless, with her forehead pressed to his as she tried to hold his hand still at his wrist.
"Just because you're incapable of being silent." He jibed and Regina slapped his arm, earning a hearty chuckle. He pulled his hand away reluctantly, resting it against the outside of her thigh, consoling himself with running his fingertips along the lace hem of her knickers.
"Will you stay?" Regina said quietly after a moment, having found herself a comfortable position in his lap with her head rested against his chest.
"I've got no where I'd rather be right now, love." He brushed her hair from her eyes, pressing a kiss to her brow.
"No," She fiddled with the heavy silver chain around his neck, chewing on her lip for a moment. "I mean when we go back."
They were silent for a time, listening to the sound of the ocean just down the end of the lane and the creaking floorboards of the strange old buildings, twisting and expanding under the weight of their occupants.
"I won't lie to you, darling." He looked down to meet her eye as she tilted her head up. "I am a pirate and I'll always be drawn to the sea, I can't help that." Slowly, his lips spread into a smile and Regina's heart stilled. "But I love you." He ran his fingers through her hair, marveling at the feel of it. "So, if you keep a light burning, I'll always, always come back to you."
"Even when we're old and grey and the journey becomes too much?" She questioned, her voice so soft and scared he wanted to hold her tighter and show her just how much he loved her.
"Then I know which I will choose."
As if his words weren't enough; and Hook knew that Regina had a difficult time believing the things that people said, he cupped the back of her head with his strong hand and pressed his lips firmly to hers.
Regina could feel her heart thumping in her chest, threatening to burst out through her throat if she couldn't get close enough to him. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling her knees up tight to his side and feeling the pressure of his lips, crushing her own.
"You know that curse you placed on yourself," Killian started, pressing kisses to the corner of her mouth as she breathed heavily, brushing her cheeks against his.
"Yes," She breathed. And of all the curses she'd had placed upon her, she knew exactly which one he meant. As they held each other, so closely entwined that they were one person in the dim moonlight of Neverland, there could be no other curse that he was referring to.
"Lift it." He kissed her eyebrow and Regina pressed her eyes closed. "Lift it and I'll never let you be alone again."
Regina could feel her own cheeks pinking. She ran her fingers under his jaw, feeling the stubble of days without shaving. Her fingers traveled up to his temple, tapping a staccato into his hairline as she watched her own movements.
"You would want that?" She sighed, feeling his arms tighten around her so much that the cool metal of his hook chilled her through her shirt. His lips against her temple pulled into a broad smile and she could feel his teeth against her brow.
"With you," He breathed. "I want everything."
Regina grinned up at him, reaching across his body for his hook he had rested against the armrest. "Well," She curled her fingers around the cool metal, pulling it into her lap with a smirk. Hook tried to pull it away, frightened he might hurt her, but Regina's firm hold and sure eyes calmed him. "If you're going to be holding children," She smirked. "Small ones with soft, unmarred, perfect skin," She lifted the hook up to her lips and kissed the side of it as she turned to look into his eyes. "We'll have to do something about this."
"What did you have in mind?" He didn't turn his eyes from her face even though her focus fell back on his hook.
"A small trick I learned when I was quite young." She grinned and out of the corner of his eye, Hook could see a small burst of light. Purple streams of smoke and light surrounded her hand and his hook. His heart leapt into his throat for a moment and all but stopped when suddenly, the smoke and magic was gone, leaving their palms pressed firmly together in the space before them.
"Regina," He breathed her name out reverently. She giggled at the wiggling of his fingers against hers. He moved quickly to cup of her face, both strong hands on either side of her broad, happy smile. "You are magnificent."
Regina shrugged, laughing into his mouth as he kissed her with fervor.
"I love you," He smiled against her lips. "So much."
"Good," She laughed, falling back against his chest and savoring the feel of both his broad hands, stretching across her back, feeling their way underneath her shirt. She had a mind to stop him, to remind him Henry was sleeping just behind them, but she couldn't deny him the excitement, the pure rapture of feeling her skin with his new hand. "Then make me happy."
"For all the days of my life."