A/n: This was written as a drabble prompt for capnswanjones on tumblr. "Princess Emma meets Killian Jones at a ball in which he has disguised himself as a nobleman in order to gain access to the castle and rob them"

Emma cringed inwardly when the man that she was dancing with tried to strike up another awkward conversation. This time it was something about the beauty of the gardens at his home in the hills. Ugh. The ball had been an endless stream of men, young to near middle-aged, all of whom were seeking her favor. Shockingly, despite the fact that they were doing just that, she hadn't yet been asked a single question about herself. Fortunately, this Lord in particular was a well enough dancer that she could follow his steps and let her mind wander instead of paying particular attention to the man. It isn't as if he expects me to actually reply to anything he says.

Was this what every birthday would be like until she married? Emma wanted to groan at the idea. The corset beneath her dress was constricting her every breath and movement, the ballroom was becoming stuffy with the hundreds of bodies dancing and laughing inside of it, and she wanted nothing more than to strip her clothes off and run through her own gardens. She smirked, pondering how utterly shocked the young and proper noble would be then – not to mention her parents.

Still dancing, she found herself subtly scanning the crowd, speculating absentmindedly who would be next to cut in. She knew that all these men seeking a dance on her 18th birthday were there because they were potential suitors and that her parents were not-so-secretly hoping that she would take a liking to one of them. Quite a few of them were around her age and more than handsome, but Emma just simply wasn't interested in being courted in this fashion. It didn't make her feel honored on her special day, it made her feel like a prize to be won, and she didn't want to be fought over – if anything, she wanted to be befriended by a man, charmed, seen as an equal. If she was perfectly honest, she wanted to experience life and love in her own time, but for now, more than anything she just wanted to do something fun and un-princess-like.

Unfortunately, this was neither.


Killian Jones did his best to blend in with the rest of the crowd, casually clapping along with the music and watching the dances that were taking place on the floor. This was a world he was once unfortunate enough to be a part of long ago, before he had turned to his life of piracy, and he had never looked back once until now. When he had heard of the Princess' 18th birthday ball that was open to all eligible nobleman (after extensive search by the guards and scrutiny of forged birth records), he couldn't resist the temptation. The queen and king would be in light moods, there would be many strange and unfamiliar nobles about the palace, and as the night wore on, the guards would be full of food and drink – excess from the celebrations. There was no better time to sneak in and make off with a few trinkets that they would likely never notice missing, but would fetch him more coin than he had ever laid eyes upon in his life.

Most men would call him suicidal for even considering such a plan – he called it a challenge.

Slowly, he made his way across the room, taking near an hour to traverse a path from one side to the other. Once he left the large crowded ballroom, he would be nearly free to do as he pleased, and if caught – well, he was just a dumb, drunk nobleman in search of his way back to the merrymaking.

Killian let himself be seen just enough to look as if he belonged in the crowd, just another pathetic sod ogling the princess and hoping to have her dance, and one day, her hand. He hadn't given much thought to her the entire night, catching occasional glimpses of her dress swirling about the room as she danced with suitor after suitor.

He had nearly made it to the other door when the dancing couple passed close by. He paused for a moment to casually watch them, not wanting to leave the room when all eyes were poised in his direction. He had to admit that she was actually quite fetching, golden hair pooling around her shoulders as she spun and moved. What caught his attention the most about her though, was the outright look of boredom and thinly-veiled misery etched into her pretty face. It was shocking that the man dancing with her didn't seem to notice, but he presumed that he was so busy talking about his castle or riches that he had absolutely no bloody idea how she felt about it. He wanted to laugh at the thought, but he restrained himself. She looked as unfit for this life as he had been.

As they spun past him once again, she glanced at him quickly, begging him with her eyes for a mere moment before looking back into the gaze of her current partner as if the glance had not occurred. He raised his eyebrows unintentionally, the tiniest quirk of a smile pulling at his lips. He allowed himself to stare at them for another few seconds as the song ended. Killian Jones, you're a bloody fool if you're thinking of dancing with the same princess that you're stealing from. But he had been overcome by arrogance and captivated by her beauty, and wasn't quite thinking with the head that was on his shoulders anymore. Though he knew that she wasn't just some maiden to steal away with, he couldn't resist a simple dance on the only opportunity he would ever get.

"Pardon me, but could I trouble the Princess for a dance?"

Reluctantly, the man stepped aside and Killian quickly took his place, grasping her hand gently in his.

"Thank you for saving me," she sighed with a small laugh, letting her practiced facade of being the perfect princess truly slip for the first time that evening. "God, that man was insufferable."

Killian chuckled, meeting her eyes with an amused grin as they moved further out onto the ballroom floor. "I am pleased that I could be a gentleman to a lady in need."

"And whom may I address as my savior?" She asked playfully, a vague note of sarcasm in her tone that Killian found tantalizing.

"Lord Barrington, Your Royal Highness," he said with a wave of his arm and a dip of his head as he bowed dramatically. "At your service." His mouth turned up into a smile as he lifted his sea blue eyes to catch hers.

Emma bit the inside of her lip slightly to avoid smiling at his theatrical show. "Pleased to meet you, Lord Barrington."

"As am I to meet you, Princess," he nodded, his hand moving to her waist as they began to dance. "Tell me, what do you make of your celebration so far?"

"I don't think it was ever my celebration," she rolled her eyes openly, and nearly gasped when she realized what she'd done. All of her life she had been taught how to act like a suitable princess, and all of her life, her parents were forced to chuckle and shake their heads when little moments like that ensued – a result of the real Emma coming out that they had never been quite able to suppress, nor had they particularly wanted to. Noticing that he seemed undisturbed by her breach of propriety, she continued on experimentally. "Honestly, I'd prefer to be celebrating my birthday in an entirely different way if it were up to me."

Now, Killian was intrigued, all thoughts of looting the royal family's halls lost. "And what way would that be, love?"

Emma's cast him a surprised look at his informal way of addressing her. She liked it. "Not with all these horrible bores, that's for sure."

He smiled as he spun her under his arm. "And am I included on that list, Highness?"

She shrugged, a look of mischief in her expression as she let him draw her back closer. "Maybe. Prove me otherwise." He only chuckled again, but she noticed his eyes flicker to her lips for a moment before going back to her teasing, hazel eyes. "You dance like a nobleman, but you don't act like a nobleman, My Lord."

"Oh, don't I? Should I be offended?"

"Not at all. But I am curious…"

"Curious as to what exactly, Princess?"

"Why you don't act like the other noblemen here," she replied, her gaze flitting to his deep blue eyes and lingering there, watching them go from curious to utterly impish.

"Maybe I'm just a pirate in disguise."

"Who knows how to dance? Besides, if you were a pirate, you wouldn't be dancing with a princess."

"If I were a pirate, I'm sure that we'd be dancing, but in quite the different way, My Lady."

She flushed at his lewd implications. "Is that how you always speak to ladies, Lord Barrington?"

"I've found in my years that there are all kinds of ways to speak to ladies. Besides, my dear, I had been under the impression that we were speaking figuratively."

She mulled over his words and then gave an approving nod. "In that case, exactly. If you were a pirate, you would have stolen me away to some ship and tarnished my innocence by now."

Now she was the one to surprise him with her words, and his eyebrows raised again of their own accord, his steps faltering before he quickly regained his composure. "It's a good thing I'm not a pirate then," he smirked devilishly. As they moved on the floor as one, Killian noticed that she hadn't stopped staring at him in some time now. "What may I ask are you looking at, Princess?"

Before she could answer, Killian spied another well-dressed man walking towards them as the song ended. Emma seemed to notice him at the same time, because her amused expression quickly dropped and her grip on his hand tightened. With barely a look at him for explanation, he found himself being dragged across the floor and out of the outer door of the ballroom, the exact place that he had been trying to make it to all night. Without a word, she pulled him into a small hallway, glancing around warily to make sure that they were alone.

"Just exactly what do you think that you're-" He was cut off by her lips pressing into is gently, innocently, as if she weren't sure of what she was doing.

Smirking against her lips, he pulled her closer into his body until she was flush against him, making her gasp. With no worry for his prior plans or the risk he was taking by what he was doing, he took the opportunity to slip his tongue into her mouth, caressing hers and making her gasp again. A small chill ran through him at the sound. Finally, he pulled back, his lips twitching with a cheeky grin, half expecting to be slapped for what he had just done.

"Wow," she sighed, looking bewildered, slowly meeting his eyes. How is that for un-princess-like? The slightest blush graced her cheeks in a light pink hue. "…You're not like anyone else here, are you?"

"I should say not. After all, I'm no suitor, love."

"Then what are you?" She narrowed her eyes suspiciously.

Killian glanced around hurriedly upon hearing approaching steps. There was no time for stealing if that was indeed the tromp of the boots of a guard on patrol, but somehow, the idea that he had stolen a kiss with the princess was almost enough. It certainly would be a story to tell. As the steps drew closer, with a slight bow of his head in a hasty goodbye and a smirk on his lips, he turned away from her.

"But I've already told you, darling," he spoke, looking over his shoulder as he left, winking at her. "I'm just a pirate in disguise."

Killian Jones, you're a bloody fool. He thought to himself as he ducked into a dark hallway, leaving the princess and the guards far behind him. Still, when he thought about it, it hadn't been an entire loss. He had come for a challenge after all, and from what he had seen of the princess, she seemed quite the challenge indeed.

He just might have to come back one day.

The End

Review? This is my first shot at AU, so be kind. hehe