Note: Hello All. We have come to the end of the road - the longest fan fiction, and so far the most planned, that I have ever written, has come to an end. Thank you for all your wonderful support, especially Lisa1972 , Melly326, Chocolateninjapanda, citigirl13, SibOlga, Honeydewmelon56 and XoxPhoenix10. All of your reviews, prompts and little messages have encouraged me to continue writing. WI, you are the best, for finally giving me courage to do what I have always wanted to and for spending countless hours proofing my random tense changes.
I would like to dedicate this to Lauren Patterson, a girl I went to school with, and who tragically lost her life.
It was the end of summer, and, as Henry declared, the perfect time for a picnic.
Emma looked rather tired. Since she was the one grown up in her family who did not cook (or quite possibly the only person over the age of 10 in the whole of Storybrooke), she had been roped into the logistics. In this case it meant getting enough picnic baskets, portable water coolers, tartan blankets and plastic cutlery to equip a small army. As well as ferrying the said supplies to the park.
They had chosen the park behind Regina's home for the meal and at midday on a Friday, they all converged towards it, all carrying food or travelling in mismatched vehicles.
Regina had brought in a number of pies, including the cherry one that Killian had tried before and since has been begging everyone to make again. Mary Margaret and David brought in a cold roasted chicken and a potato salad, while Gold and Belle had been in charge of various starters. Belle had discovered that not only she was good in the kitchen, but she had a talent for all sorts of foreign foods, so her basket was bursting with everything from summer rolls to battered croquettes to beautifully prepared prawn skewers.
Emma felt slightly out of her depth, especially since Killian was already busy stocking the Charming's BBQ and readying the meat that he had left marinating over night in the downstairs fridge.
There is no doubt Gold can cook - he had survived 28 years on his own, even though he does not bring anything to the picnic.
Thankfully, there is always Neal, who according to a whispered conversation Emma had with Belle, is even worse in the kitchen than either of them ever were. On his first day in Casa Gold he managed to burn eggs and toast and covered the whole kitchen in flour (Emma can at least make eggs, bacon and toast, cook pasta and has recently mastered pancakes). So, Henry's father decides to forgo another disaster and brings in a vast supply of drinks, from several bottles of wine, for a whole mini fridge of soft drinks and juices.
The drinks flowed with ease as, for once, did the conversation. The grilled meat was consumed with gusto, along side all the other food, with Gold even going so far as to complement Killian on his skills and quietly ask if he would mind sharing the recipe. Emma did not hear the rest of the conversation, but it sounded like the two had fallen back on what they worked best with - at any rate, some sort of deal had been stuck between the half hearted insults and both men walked away looking rather pleased with themselves.
It is not until a few hours into the feast, as Regina took out her pies (no apple, thank you) that David smacked his head. Everyone looked at him, waiting for an explanation.
"I brought a camera to take a picture of everyone with the food. Except we've eaten it all." He looked sheepish in that moment, but Snow pulled him in for a kiss, and Belle thanked him for remembering that they all need to make memories. "Just in case."
Henry piped up: "We can still take pictures. There's enough cake to make it look like it's just the beginning." And indeed, they can.
So they got right on it. They took one of Belle and Gold, just them, one of Gold and Neal, one with all three of them with Henry. Emma got one with Killian, one with Henry, one with both of them, one with her parents, and flurry more of various combinations. Regina had one with Henry and a beautiful cherry pie and apprehensively agreed to one with Snow. The look her daughter in law gave her, full of hope and love she had once seen in Snow's eyes when she was just a tiny child helped alleviate some of the fear.
It is much, much later that Belle exclaimed that they need one with all of them, and there was no point to having a family picnic if they didn't take a family picture. Mary Margaret immediately gestured for David to get the tripod, and the poor man turned a slight shade of grey.
"I think I forgot it at home."
The pleasant afternoon (or possibly evening) had the potential to turn a bit sour. Everyone was getting ready to provide some excuse as to why they absolutely HAD to be in the picture.
"I'll do it, lass."
Killian stood up, and motioned for Charming to come with him. Together, they arranged the whole family around the blankets, and David then ran back to take his place by his wife. The pirate stood still, alone, out in the middle of a field, taking one picture after another, making sure everyone looked their best.
The whole time, Emma looked at him with pride and something which could almost be love and, more importantly, trust.
Sitting down a little while later, surrounded by Emma and the people that loved them, and being kissed by her for having averted a panic, he feels like it was almost worth it.
Killian stayed up for a large portion of the night printing enough copies of the pictures for everyone, and took them around the next morning.
Regina thanked him sincerely, ran inside and got him a large carton filled to the brim with pie leftovers. There was finally more than hope that the woman would repair the broken relationships and finally, finally get past her abused childhood and the issue that had stemmed from it.
Gold smiled and thanked him honestly, while Neal shook his hand. They too were all beginning to move on, and learning to trust one another.
David looked honestly surprised that the printer had not exploded and with a wink promised to bail him out the next time he arrested the captain. Emma's father too was beginning to see past the pillaging legacy of the man who was living with his little girl.
Having done his good dead of the day, Killian was about to sit himself down on the sofa and watch some TV, when there was a knock on the door.
He came face to face with Ruby.
"Hello, lady. Would you like to come in?"
Ruby just smiled. "Actually, I'm only here for a moment." She rummaged around her bag and pulled out a little black square, surrounded by a white border. She handed it to him. "I thought that you might like to have this. Enjoy!"
He shut the door, slightly confused. "Ooooh, a Polaroid?" The square got taken out of his hand by Emma, who much have been woken up by the door. She flipped it over, he face breaking out into a happy smile. She pulled her boyfriend to her: "She must have taken this right after you sat down."
He looks. The picture is of all of them, together, him included. He has his arms around Emma, Snow is leaning into her husband whose hand is on Killian's shoulder, Gold is cradling Belle, and Regina and Neal are deep in conversation, all of them looking towards the centre of the picture and not at the camera. There, the only person who had spotted Ruby is smiling at the Polaroid. Henry. And they are all gathered around him like a true family.
Emma smiled at him, leaned in for a kiss, and then wandered off to find the picture a place on the mantelpiece.
It is not until the next week that he realises that Ruby made a Polaroid of that afternoon for everyone. Regina has it stuck to her fridge, David put his copy up in a frame next to one of his wife and daughter at the station, Mary Margaret has set hers under the plastic cover on her desk, Neal has it up in his car and Belle had Rumple magically enlarge it and has it hanging behind the counter at the shop.
Technology certainly has it's valuable uses.
And for the first time in over 300 years, Killian finally feels that he is home.
AN: Once again, thank you all for reading. Please stay tuned for my two companion pieces to this: "The Many Guises of 3.14" and "Parental Expectations". I am always available on PM. Take care xxx