The rocker's squeaks echoed softly through the room as Killian sat at the window holding his baby girl. She was crying due to a high fever she'd been experiencing over the past day. He couldn't believe she was going to be a year old in a couple weeks. So much had happened in the last twelve months. They had moved out of the loft that was once Snow and Emma's and into the mayor's mansion; Emma had been elected as Storybrooke's leader not long after their daughter's birth. All the space was hard to get used to at first - they definitely didn't have enough furniture to fill the house - but it felt more and more like home every day with the scattered toys and Henry's books strewn about. Killian had taken on the roll of a stay-at-home dad, which he was surprised to find he loved more than originally thought. Overall, it had been one of the best years he and Emma had had since they were first married.
Killian's daughter continued to whimper into his chest as he rocked on, stroking her back softly to help calm her.
"It's alright, my darling girl," he whispered softly. She grasped on to his linen shirt and tugged. Killian loved it when she did that. It was like she was tugging at his heartstrings. He leaned down and gave his daughter a kiss on the head, inhaling that sweet, baby scent she still gave off. "Your daddy's here, Nori."
After a long battle, they had settled on the name Nori because of its meaning: belief. His and Emma's entire relationship was based on it. If Emma's parents hadn't believed she would come back for them, they wouldn't have put her in the wardrobe. If Emma had never believed in the curse, she would have never broken it and she would've never met Killian. And then there was Neverland, an entire realm based on belief, and it was where they fell in love. Nori was the perfect name to represent what their love and what it had created.
Killian kept rocking back and forth in the chair in an attempt to calm little Nori. "How about a story?" He looked down at his daughter who still had tears in her eyes. "Would you like that?" Nori cooed softly at the sound of her father's voice; she seemed to be quieting down with his talking. "How about your mother's favorite story?" Killian sat, still rocking and gazing out the window at the snow falling gently outside in the afternoon sun trying to remember exactly how Emma's version of the story went. Though she had told it to him many times, it was difficult to remember some parts since the story was nothing like reality.
Killian took a breath and began.
"Once upon a time, there were three children. Their names were Wendy, John, and Michael and they lived in London. One night, Wendy awoke to find a strange boy sitting on the floor who was crying.
"'Boy, why are you crying?' she said.
"'I'm Peter Pan,' he said." Nori's face lit up at the mention of the name; she was truly her mother's daughter. "'I'm crying because my shadow won't stick to me.'
"'Don't cry,' Wendy said. 'We can fix that.' And she sewed Peter's shadow to the tip of his shoes. Peter was delighted!
"'Fly back to Neverland with me and my fairy, Tinker Bell,' Peter begged. 'You could be our mother and take care of us.'
"'Can you teach me to fly?' Wendy asked. Peter nodded. Wendy went and woke up her brothers. 'You can teach us all to fly and we will leave for Neverland!'"
Killian smiled at his daughter. "Do you know what it takes to fly to Neverland?" he asked Nori. Her bright blue eyes sparkled up at him. "First you need faith and trust. And then a little bit of pixie dust." He tickled his fingers on the top of her head pretending to sprinkle his little girl with the magic, causing her to giggle. "Then," he continued on, "you just need to think lovely, happy thoughts, and the lift you up in the air!"
Nori watched as her father swooshed up his other arm over her. She reached up and grasped the hook that was attached to the end of his arm and pulled it down. "Don't worry, little lass, your favorite captain will come into the story soon." Killian chuckled softly, carefully aware that his daughter was not getting too close to the point; he had dulled it significantly since she was born, but it still made him nervous.
"So, the children were soon flying around the room and then - SWOOSH! - out the window they flew into the night towards Neverland. Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning! When they got to Neverland, Peter took the three children to top of a cloud and showed them around." Nori continued to play with his hook, occasionally teething on it. "Now pay attention, love. Your papa's about to make an appearance!" Killian winked at his daughter and she cooed back at him.
Unbeknownst to Killian, Emma had come home from city hall early and was now standing outside the door to the nursery, smiling as she listened to her husband tell the story of the boy who wouldn't grow up. She always loved how excited Killian got when Captain Hook came into the story.
"Peter started pointing out the different locations around the island," Killian continued pulling his hook away from Nori and pointing it to the invisible rock in front of him. "'The lost boys live there with me and Tinker Bell,' he said. 'I'm their captain. The indians live over there, and the mermaids over there in Mermaid Lagoon. And there are the pirates, led by Captain Hook.'
"'Pirates?' Wendy, John, and Michael all exclaimed in the same breath. Wendy was frightened, but John and Michael both wanted to see the pirates right away." He looked down at his daughter. "Can't say that I blame John and Michael, can you, Nori?" She sneezed. "I knew you'd agree with me." Grinning, Killian wiped away the boogers gently with his sleeve.
"'Hook's the meanest pirate ever,' Peter warned. 'And he's afraid of the crocodile. The crocodile bit off Hook's hand and liked the taste so much that it follows him around, hoping for more. Luckily for Hook, the crocodile also swallowed a clock and the ticking of the clock warns him when the crocodile is near.'
"You know," Killian said thoughtfully, "some day, my darling daughter, I will tell you the real story of Captain Hook and then you can be the judge of just how dastardly he really was."
Emma, still leaning up against the wall in the hallway, muffled a laugh; she didn't want Killian to know she was out there. If it was possible, Emma was falling even more in love with him as she stood there listening to him telling their daughter the story she would hear many times throughout her life.
"Peter led Wendy, John, and Michael to his house under the woods," Killian continued. "They entered through a door hidden in an old tree stump. That night, Wendy tucked the lost boys into their beds and told them the story of Cinderella. Life was pleasant in the cozy house under the woods. Wendy took care of the boys, who explored the island during the day. At night, they gathered for meals, played make-believe games, and listened while Wendy told them stories."
Nori let go of her father's hook and started gnawing on his fingers that were lightly curled around her chest, cooing at the light that reflected dully off his many rings. "Now pay attention, lass. The pirates are coming back." She let out a loud toot. "I know, it's quite exciting," Killian laughed.
"One day, Peter and the children went exploring near the mermaids' lagoon. Suddenly, Peter yelled 'Pirates! Take cover!' The boys ran away, and Peter and Wendy hid. They could see the pirates had tied up Tiger Lily, the indian princess. They left her on a rock in the lagoon. Peter was afraid that Tiger Lily would drown when the tide came in. He had to save her.
"In a voice that sounded just like Captain Hook's, he shouted, 'Set her free!'
"'But captain,' the pirates yelled back, 'you ordered us to bring her here!'
"'Let her go!' Peter roared, still sounding like Hook. 'Aye, aye,' the pirates said, and they set Tiger Lily free. She swam quickly back to the Indian camp. When Captain Hook found out what had happened, he knew Peter had tricked his pirates. Hook became furious! That night, Wendy told the boys a story about three children who left their parents and flew to Neverland. Their mother and father missed them very much. The children loved Neverland, but they never forgot their home.
"'Did they ever go back?' the lost boys asked.
"'Oh, yes,' Wendy replied. 'They flew home to their mummy and daddy, and everyone was happy.' The story made Wendy, John, and Michael homesick. They decided to fly home the next morning. 'If you come back with us,' Wendy told the lost boys, 'I'm sure our mother and father would adopt you.'
"'Hooray!' shouted the boys, jumping with joy. Wendy asked Peter if he and Tinker Bell would come home with them too. But Peter didn't want to live where grown-ups could tell him what to do. Peter was sad that his friends were leaving. Still, he wanted the children to arrive home safely, so he asked Tinker Bell to guide them on their trip."
Nori yanked on Killian's necklaces causing him to make a slight choking sound. He pulled them out of her tight grip with his hook and tucked them under his shirt. "You've got a grip like your mother, girl."
Emma peered surreptitiously around the door frame at the mention of her name. She gazed at Killian, who was still lightly rocking back and forth in the chair, as he leaned down and kissed her little hand that was still reaching up for his hidden chains before brushing his arm along her forehead, feeling her temperature.
Killian felt his own face in comparison. She was still very warm, but her fever seemed to have subsided a little bit. "Looks like my story is helping. Shall I keep going?" Nori gave a big yawn, fluttering her eyelashes just like Emma did. "Alright, where was I?" He rocked a little more, going through the story in his head.
"Oh yes," he went on. "Early the next morning, Tinker Bell and the children left the house under the woods, but Captain Hook's pirates were hiding nearby. They captured all the children, tied them up, and marched them towards the pirate's ship. Tinker Bell escaped, and hurried back to tell Peter what had happened. 'It's Hook or me this time!' yelled Peter to Tinker Bell as they flew off to save Wendy and the boys.
"On the pirate's ship, Captain Hook demanded, 'Who wants to become a pirate?' The boys shook their heads." Killian shook his head too. "Those boys don't know what they're missing, Nori. Who wouldn't want to be a pirate?"
Out in the hall, Emma smirked to herself, thinking of some of the first words Killian had ever spoken to her. "You'd make a hell of a pirate," he had said all those years ago. And he was right, although she never would've believed it back then. Now they were raising two more pirates in Henry and Nori. Her ears perked back towards the room as she heard Killian continuing with the story.
"'Then make them walk the plank!' Hook roared. The boys tried to look brave, but they were afraid. Suddenly, they heard the 'tick, tock' of the crocodile. Now it was Captain Hook's turn to be afraid.
"But the 'tick, tock' was only Peter, imitating the crocodile. He flew onto the deck and shouted, 'I've got you now, Hook!' Captain Hook jumped up and swung at Peter with his sword. Peter was quick, and stepped away. He slashed at Hook with his own sword until they came close to the edge of the ship. Peter lunged with his sword, and Hook fell into the sea, where the crocodile was waiting for him. And that was the end of Captain Hook!"
Killian continued to rock in the chair, his daughter now fast asleep in his arms. "It's a good thing you fell asleep before that awful ending, Nori. No one likes it when the handsome pirate meets his untimely end, especially to the crocodile." Looking out the window at the snow that was still falling, he rubbed his thumb along her soft arm.
After a minute when he was sure she was fast asleep, Killian rose up from the rocking chair and walked over to her crib, placing her gently in it and covering her with the blanket Granny had knitted her just as she had done for Emma.
"Now you can't just leave it like that, Killian," Emma said finally walking the room. "You have to finish the story!"
Killian smiled at the sight of his beautiful, perfect wife. "How long have you been out there?"
"Long enough to fall even more in love with you," she said walking up to him. Emma wrapped her arms around his waist and kissed him softly. "Now, we can't keep our daughter hanging off the cliff, Captain."
"Well, if it were up to me, the good captain would've never died," Killian joked.
Emma rolled her eyes playfully. "I know. Someday we will tell her the real story of how Captain Hook saved everyone from Peter Pan and brought them home safely. But for now, I'd like her to believe that Neverland was always a wonderful place. I want her to visit it in her dreams just like I did."
Killian kissed Emma once more. "Alright, Mrs. Jones, would you care to finish the story for our little lass?"
She nodded and twisted herself around so she stood next to her husband, the two of them gazing down on the perfect little bundle snoozing away in her crib. Nori stretched and grasped the plush beanstalk in one hand and the toy sword in the other. Killian placed his hand on Emma's shoulder as she drew a breath to finish the tale.
"When Peter was certain that Hook was gone forever, he and Tinker Bell set off for London with Wendy and the boys. Wendy's parents were happy to see their children again. Mr. and Mrs. Darling hugged Wendy, John, and Michael, and agreed to adopt the lost boys. They asked Peter to stay with them also, but he said, 'I'm going to stay in Neverland where I never have to grow up.'
"'Goodbye then, Peter. We'll miss you,' everyone called. Peter Pan and Tinker Bell waved goodbye and flew home to Neverland. The end."
Killian reached down and felt Nori's forehead one more time. "I think her fever finally broke," he said relieved.
"Oh good," Emma replied, leaning down and feeling for herself.
They both stood over her crib and stared down at her for another minute.
"Come on," Emma said. "She's finally asleep." She took a hold of Killian's hand and led them both towards the door.
"Wait," Killian said stopping in his tracks. He dropped his wife's hand and walked back over to Nori's crib. He bent down into her crib and placed a gentle kiss on the tip of her nose. "Sleep well, my little bean."