She stands beside her father and mother on a slightly raised dais, three thrones sit behind them under a purple and gold canopy. The ballroom in front of them is full of people, but not uncomfortably so. Many high arches open directly out onto the moonlit terrace, letting cool night air spill in and helping the thousands of candles make the room glow. Despite the width of elaborate skirts, it's easy for their guests to move and mingle. Laughter and conversation float on the breeze, along with the whisper of silk, the rustle of damask, and the crinkle of stiff taffeta. How would I know what any of this looks like? Anticipation swells loudly, then is hushed as a majordomo calls for silence and announces the royal family. Polite applause greets them, and her father holds out to his hands to both acknowledge and subdue it.
"On behalf of myself and my lovely wife, Queen Snow, and our beautiful daughter, Princess Emma, I would like to thank you all for attending tonight." King David smiles lovingly at the two women to either side of him before beaming benevolently on the crowd. "Please, enjoy yourselves, as together we celebrate the anniversary of our reign." The royal couple descends the small steps, leading the way to the dance floor to officially begin the ball. For the first time this evening, Emma really looks at her parents; they appear older, but no less regal than they always have. Wisps of silver are threaded through Snow's black hair, and David's has gone from blonde to pure white. Somehow, she still can see the younger versions of themselves.
All eyes firmly fixed on her parents, Emma breathes a sigh of relief and with the help of a footman carefully and gracefully manages to navigate the carpeted steps as well. She continues to watch the king and queen as they start to waltz and marvels at them, as she always does. Curses and comas, dangers and disapproving parents—nothing has ever truly come between them; their love has always triumphed. A familiar ache settles near Emma's heart—part pride, part joy, and part envy. No one could constantly be around that much devotion and not desire such passion, such happiness for themselves.
"Is the princess not dancing this evening?" Her whole body stiffens before she turns toward the familiar voice, that familiar accent. He sketches a courtly bow and looks almost nothing like the pirate she knows. Almost. For starters, the hook is gone—left hand exactly where it should be. His pants are the same black leather, but his boots are polished and made for a dance floor and not a ship's deck. The formal jacket is an aged silver embroidered with a blue that echoes his eyes, and the cuffs and collar of his linen shirt are crisp and white. The earring, the swagger, and the rings on his right hand are all the same, and so is the flash of fire in his eyes as he stares at her. He may not look it at this moment, but he is pure predator. Her mouth opens in shock.
"What are you doing here? Scratch that—what am I doing here? I must be—."
"Dreaming? Aye, lass. If this finery and hand weren't a dead giveaway, then that dress proves that. Although, I must say, it suits you far better than even my wildest imagination, love." He takes her hand and performs another low bow before raising her knuckles to his lips. Now that he mentions it, she can't help but look down at her ball gown. The hand he isn't holding slides along the silky fabric of the bodice and skirt, fingers trace the silver threads and their whorled patterns. Strangely, her dress is a vibrant blue that matches the embroidery on his clothes. They've somehow managed to wear the color of each other's eyes.
"How is this…? Why are you…?"
"Does it really matter? This is your dream, love, so only you can answer those questions." He looks confused, as if he too can't quite understand what he's doing here, in her dreams. "May I have this dance, princess?"
She doesn't resist as he pulls her toward the dance floor and then into his arms. "Why do you keep calling me that? Princess, I mean."
"Because it's what you are, love. It's who you are." His eyes never leave her, like she is the most fascinating person in the world. "It's in your veins, like the sea and adventure are in mine." His gaze, already weighty and hot becomes so intense that she has to look away—or risk becoming trapped in it. She looks out at the twirling dancers and spinning room around her, seeing that her parents are now seated on their thrones and are looking directly at her and her partner. Her father looks angry—furious—hands gripping the arms tightly; one of her mother's hands rests atop his, as if willing him to stay, and she smiles at Emma encouragingly. "Never you mind the king, lass. He'll come 'round once your mother convinces him."
"You know, I don't know which of your nicknames is more annoying to me right now. And what exactly is she supposed to be convincing him of?"
"Then what endearments am I allowed, sweet Emma? My heart? My darling? My goddess? My reason for living?" She opens her mouth with a sarcastic quip ready on her tongue, but she suddenly realizes that it's just the two of them dancing. The ballroom and its crowd have disappeared entirely. There's no space between their bodies, and she is achingly aware of the flash of heat beginning to take over her. "My own. My life. Mine. My Emma." Her head is still spinning, even though he has stopped twirling her around. She can only see him, can only look directly into his hypnotic eyes. She has never felt more alive than she does now, or more terrified. "Say my name, lass."
She has to swallow before she can even whisper. "Hook."
"My real name, princess. I want to hear you say it, want to see it on your lips." And just to prove it, that's exactly what he's staring at. She takes a deep breath, and immediately curses whoever designed corsets. She licks her lips, willing herself not to give in to what she's feeling.
"Killian, I—." He brings his left hand up to her face, palm cupping her cheek and thumb gently caressing her bottom lip.
"Again, lass." It's a demand, and order, but somehow he makes it sound like a prayer.
Instead of looking smug, his smile brightens with a genuine glow that spreads all the way into his eyes. "Now tell me that you want me to stop." She was wrong before when she thought that they were as close as they could get, because the arm around her waist crushes their bodies tighter together. She gasps, and it is then that he closes all distance and kisses her. A soft, chaste brush of his lips against hers. He pulls back an inch to read her eyes, and it's simply too much. She snakes her right hand around his neck, fingers diving into his hair, and with her left she clutches his jacket in a fist. Moans fill the room as their kiss roars to life, as it flames white-hot—burning and intense. She feels trapped in her clothes, her skin feels uncomfortably tight as his hands mold themselves to her body. She clings to him, unwilling to let go, even though she knows that they can be closer still. She's barely aware of her dress hitting the floor or of the tugging at the laces of her corset.
She growls in irritation when he whips his shirt off over his head, pulling away from her. She pushes his back against the stone wall roughly, then pins him there before their lips and tongues start dueling again. Suddenly, the cool stone is against her back and she's trapped by his body. He breaks the kiss and grins, a self-satisfied smirk, before grabbing her around the waist and throwing her over his shoulder. Emma feels so light-headed that she actually giggles, then stills when she realizes that she has a fantastic leather-clad view. Another giggle and a breathy laugh escapes her when he tosses her on the bed. She crawls backward, never breaking eye contact, as he removes the last of his clothes and then prowls along the bed. His eyes and body follow her, making her feel hunted and exposed. She watches the play of his muscles, gapes at the contained power behind his movements as he draws closer.
And then she can't think anymore because the length of his body has hers pinned to the bed and his hands have her wrists trapped above her head. Shifting to hold her with one hand, calloused fingertips trace their way down her arms causing aching shivers down her spine and trailing heat behind them. She cranes her neck to kiss him again, but he pulls back, further out of her reach. It becomes a game, with her moaning in frustration as he darts in for swift licks and nibbles. But then he stops, and his eyes become darker, serious. "You, Emma love, are the most beautiful woman in all the worlds. And this may all be a dream, but by the gods, I can't stay away from you any longer." He kisses every inch of her face reverently, gently before returning to her lips. The cool, silken sheets beneath them begin to radiate the heat back from their bodies. She whimpers and bites his bottom lip eagerly as his hand slowly pulls aside the fabric of her chemise and caresses a path up the inside of her thigh.
Emma jolts awake and sits up quickly, solidly cracking her head on the low beam. "Son of a—!" She drops back down and puts a hand to her forehead, cursing and muttering under her breath. It's then that she notices the banging at the cabin door.
Instead of waiting for her permission, the door swings open to reveal the pirate standing just on the other side. "Oi! Swan! Watch is up, lass. Can't have any layabouts; all hands on deck, and all that." She glares at him from underneath her arm, groaning at the pain and at his presence in her personal space. "Pleasant dreams, princess?" He grins lasciviously before closing the door and heading up on deck. It takes a minute for the shock to wear off, for Emma to close her gaping mouth, get out of the bunk, and get ready to work. Her cheeks burn with what she can remember of the dream, and she curses sexual frustration in general and annoying, attractive pirates in particular. She gives herself a shake, straightens her spine, and puts on a game face for another day of trying to ignore Hook while stuck with him on his ship.