This was inspired by a prompt by keepcalmwearetimeless on Tumblr.
ache of the ocean
Just give me a sign, there's an end with a beginning
To the quiet chaos driving me back
The lone neon lights and the warmth of the ocean
And the fire that was starting to go out
new york by snow patrol
His eyes scanned the elegant curve of his hook, crimson glistening in the moonlight. The smell of blood was omnipresent, filling his nostrils, all too familiar, the cool scent of iron lingering.
Soft sobs interrupted the silence of the night, weak fingers wrapping around his forearm, too close to his hook, too deeply beneath his skin.
She was tearing him apart.
Not to far in the distance, he could hear the metallic cling of armor. Light amour, not suited for battle. Armour worn for prestige, for keeping up appearances. The sound was different, less lethal, footsteps less heavy.
The leather-clad fingers of his right hand trailed the curve of his hook, flawless metal replacing where his left hand had once been. It was a memory too vivid to ever erase from his mind, still playing tricks on him in the dark and lonely hours of the night when sharp pain spread through fingers he no longer had.
Hidden away in the shaded cover of trees, he had a wide view of the park that spread out behind the castle on the rock, the sound of birds mingling with the far-off rumble of foamy waves against weathered stone. Spring was working its spell on the vast park, colors and scents erupting from the ground, thickness of green covering every surface that was not prepared with snow white marble or pebbles as shiny as diamonds.
The castle at the other end of the park shone brightly, illuminated, its towers capturing the rays of sunlight, their first warmth after a cruel winter.
Slowly, the sound of armor and the soft click of shoes against marble became louder, and he hovered behind a large tree, hidden away from the bright world he was looking upon.
He saw her first from afar, two guards walking closely behind her, their armors truly for prestige, adorned with flowered patterns and delicately woven helmets. It only took a second for him to evaluate them, the threat they promised little. He could easily have waited for them to walk closer to the line of trees and finish this assignment in a matter of seconds.
But this was not how he worked. Not in broad daylight, and he did not kill who did not need to die. No collateral damage. Never.
He was not here for the two men in expensive armor, but for the young woman they accompanied. For now, she was too far away to make out the exact features of her face, but he was certain it was her. The princess. Too much talk was there of her in the kingdom to not recognize her, even from this distance. She was quite tall, almost his height, slender beneath the pale blue dress she was wearing. The pale skin of her shoulders shone in the sunlight, and there was a reflection to the fabric of the dress that promised silver adornments. When she bowed down to pick a flower from one of the many fields – a red one, the contrast to the pale imagery that was herself almost painful to look upon – he could make out a long braid of golden hair.
He stood perfectly still as his gaze remained focused on the young princess, collecting more flowers in her pale hands, a bouquet of many colors. More than once did he notice her gaze wandering off towards where yet another line of trees hid the grand water from her eyes. They walked closer, still too far away for him to make out exact features, yet close enough to take note of the slight movement of her head whenever she continued walking down the marble path. A nervous glance at the two men following her every move.
When she buried her nose within the petals of the flowers she had collected, he could not help himself but wonder why he was here.
Never before had he asked himself this question, had allowed the darkness of doubt to settle in his mind. But now it was there, slowly knitting into his brain. Why had he been sent to kill Princess Emma?
She preferred magnolias. White, spotless, unsullied. There was an elegance to her steps expected from a princess, yet a strength that made him wonder. It was her father she looked more alike, the king, and when she walked beside him on the marble stairs that lead from the castle into the park, her eyes looked up at him with love and dread. The golden tresses of her hair reached her waist, and reflected the sunlight as of they were woven for no other reason that to capture warmth.
She longed for the sea. He knew. Too often did her eyes wonder off into the distance, towards the great lake, towards the horizon kept hidden by trees.
Her voice was strong, the words that slipped past her lips spoken grandly and with care. Her chambers were located in the eastern wing of the castle, easily accessible by a thick growth of green that covered the stone walls, and a spacious balcony.
Finding a way into the castle had been too simple, the woven corridors providing more than enough shelter from curious eyes.
The kitchen staff brought warm milk into her room every night once the sun had set and the flicker of candles illuminated her chambers. Each time, the smell of something sweet yet tangy filled his nostrils, soaking into the cool stone walls. He could not find a name for the pleasant scent,yet he found himself breathing it in more deeply each night.
Night after night, he could have slipped into her room, could have finished what he had come to do. Yet, there was something holding him back. A tug that pulled him towards her room as well as away from it. A flutter whenever he looked upon her face, hidden behind corners and trees, a nameless shadow. She truly was as beautiful as was told. Beautiful, a bittersweet sadness woven into the delicate features of her face.
Looking upon her seemed to wake up memories and emotions he had long thought lost, buried underneath hate, vengeance and regret.
Brief glimpses into a past he had wanted to forget for so long. His dear brother sipping on warm milk by the fire, leaning against their mother's legs as her fingers sifted through his hair. Holding his brother's lifeless body in his hand as the smell of the salty sea spread through the captain's quarters.
A smile as bright as the one of the woman he had once loved. Dark hair, not golden. Hard features, not soft ones. More than once did he find himself tracing the sharp edge of his hook across the ink that marked his forearm, her name with him always.
He could not tell what held him back, what made him doubt his assignment. Why, after all the blood that had coated his hook, it was different this time. Why the thought nagged at his brain that the young woman sleeping behind the heavy wooden door did not deserve to die. Why the thought of his hook inside her heart was sickening to him.
The room was smaller than he had imagined, most of the space taken up by the canopy bed that stood close to the open balcony. Merely the dying flicker of a candle and the cool moonlight illuminated the room. Without the slightest sound, he closed the heavy door behind him.
It took you a long time.
He knew her voice, had heard it many times over the weeks that had passed since he first saw her in the park when spring had awoken. Had heard her sophisticated words spoken towards noble men and women, caring words for worried peasants, had heard her crying when her mother, the queen, had left her room.
His steps halted immediately It was as if the air had been knocked out of his lungs. There she stood, long hair falling over her shoulders, pale white dress flowing in the spring breeze.
Why do you look so surprised? Did you think I would not notice you?
The tone of her voice irritated him, his fingers twitching. This was not the plan, this was wrong. She was meant to be sleeping, he was meant to be out of this room in a matter of seconds, nothing but a dark shadow. Yet, here she stood, as bright as anything could possibly be in the darkness, her words calm, almost amused.
I wondered when you would finally come. To be quite honest, I was surprised. I excepted you to be more frightening. She took a few slow steps closer, allowing for the almost full moon to illuminate her like a halo. More ruthless. And quicker, naturally. He felt petrified. Many times had his victims been awake and facing him, and to be honest, he preferred it that way. Taking someone's life without giving them the opportunity to fight was bad form. Yet with her, he had seen no way around it. Never could he have looked into her clear eyes and watch the life creep out of them. Hook.
Hook. The name he had given himself to forget the pain that his past bore. The name the realm had come to give him when a nameless face had begun to kill. When people's hearts had been pierced by just that, the metal curve of a hook. The sound of his moniker seemed to wake him from his trance, reminding him of who he was and what mattered. Not a difficult deduction, darling. He waved with his hook, angrily reflecting the moonlight.
It seemed odd that the pale light presented her with so much innocence, while it screamed death right into his face.
The sight of the weapon that gave him his name did not seem to frighten the princess at all. Instead, she took yet another bold step. He could make out the shape of her hips through the thin white fabric that hugged her. Soft and slender, even more so than the heavy dresses she wore during the day had promised.
You are either very brave or very stupid, milady.
Sometimes I wonder of those are not the same things. It was there again, the bitterness. His thoughts pondered relentlessly. Where had it come from and why did she seem to be engulfed by it? Like a heavy curtain around her shoulders.
Continuously, she stepped closer. Slowly, and had she not looked so tender and innocent, he might have taken her for a beast hunting down its prey. You know who I am. Perhaps you should stay away. Still he was petrified, his hook heavy on his arm, like a useless token of long forgotten times.
The smile that broke out on her face irritated him, even more than this entire situation did already. I could ring for the guards whenever I wish. Her eyes flickered towards a golden bell against a deep blue curtain. It was just barely within her reach.
They would not be here in time, I can promise that. He whispered the words, perhaps in an attempt to sound more threatening to her, perhaps to warn her.
So you promise it will be quick? The strength to her voice was still there, like a wall of fire that lingered around the soft melody. However, a slight falter disturbed it. A flicker of fear she could not hide. When you kill me. That is why you are here, is it not?
She stopped walking then, too far away from the bell to reach it before his hook would meet her chest. The fact that she knew about who he was, what he did, what he had done for too long now surprised him, her exterior not hinting at such dark and blood-coated knowledge. Should a princess not be preoccupied with singing and dancing to know of such dark happenings in the kingdom?
I am sorry indeed if I disappoint you. The wicked smile on her face cloaked her fear well, and she took one more step towards him. May I ask a favor?
Excuse me? All he could do was look into her face she she stepped closer. Closer and closer until he did not have to reach out far to touch her, her face before his.
Before you kill me, I should very much like to see your face. Her eyes had flickered to the pitch black scarf that hid his face, nothing but his eyes and hairline visible to her.
And why is that? Once more, his voice had turned into a whisper, the warmth of his own breath gathering behind the thick fabric that guarded his lips. The woman was a mystery, and what held him back was an even grander one. It would be so simple, to reach out and bury his hook in her chest.
Because you have a look in your eyes that I recognize. Her own voice had turned into a whisper, the strength almost forgotten, a vulnerable dance of syllables across pale lips. They were raw and red, and he guessed she had bitten them frequently before he had entered her room. You look sad.
Her words bit like the icy cold of winter. What are you doing, darling?
The night is long, and I know who you are. Where is the rush? The determination in her eyes was frightful. He could not quite decide whether she was buying time or genuinely accepting her fate. Can I not make one last request before you take my life?
You should try to run away. His advice burned on his tongue, and while he spoke them, he found himself taking a step backwards, his back hitting the door, heavy iron clasp digging into his leather coat.
But I would very much like to know why you look so sad. It sounded as if she was singing, a tale of old. The broken man and the woman in white. It scared him.
What are you doing? It was all he could do, repeating his words. With each breath, she was crawling under his skin more and more. Tearing at his strings. A riddle he could not seem to be able to solve, dragging him down a path he was not willing to go.
I have seen you. Hiding. Watching me. Assessing me. I have seen the look in your eyes, but never your face. She slowly raised her hand, the movement causing the flimsy material of her nightdress to slip down into the crease of her elbow, exposing more pale skin illuminated b the moonlight. Will it hurt?
For a second, he was too captivated by her delicate fingers to move. When they hovered at the seam of his scarf, he turned his head away. Not if you step back now and ring that bell.
You said they would not make it in time. Her hand had not moved, fingertips brushing over the rough material of the scarf.
I might not risk it. He was giving her a chance, an escape route, a way out, and he could not tell himself why.
She dropped her hand at the unsteady tone in his voice. For a second, his eyes followed the movement, before the sincere question that passed her lips distracted him. Who are you?
You already know.
I know you are Hook. A murderer. Somewhere deep inside, so well hidden that he could not pinpoint where, the word hurt him. Bothered him. Seemed wrong, when it was so dreadfully right. But who I see now... That can not be all.
Like an insect she was crawling underneath his skin. Step back. His words were no more a whisper than a threat, a soundless hiss before he turned on his heels and pulled the door open, disappearing into the darkness of the corridor like the shadow he was.
He wanted to curse her for her foolishness. All day he had spent looming in the shadows of the castle, watching everything go about its usual way. Nothing had changed, no indicator that the princess had almost lost her life in the past night.
If her plan had been to confuse him, then she had succeeded.
Once the moon had risen to its full glory against the night sky, reflecting on the water that lined the castle, he slipped back into her room, once more without a sound to notice. And once more he was faced with her.
Why did you not tell? He spoke before she could lure him into a trance once more. Perhaps that was who she was. A bloody siren. There were no guards, nothing.
Her fingers trailed a curl of her hair as she looked at him. No more smiles, no more wickedness. She simply stared at him, vulnerable and open. You came to kill me and you did not. What are you afraid of?
She had been sitting on her bed, legs crossed beneath her, but now she stood gracefully, moving towards him, waiting for his reply. I don't know.
Who are you? Like a repetition of the night before, she stopped before him, only this time, there was no more fear knitted delicately into her words, and her hands remained still. What is your name?
There still was no explanation for why he allowed her to play him like this, why he responded, why he let her words reach so deeply inside his soul. If I told you...
What then? The way she interrupted him, almost angrily, tugged at him. He wanted to tell her. It was so very wrong, and he pulled his gaze away from hers – agonizingly slowly, her eyes too deep, too captivating – and stepped past her, into her room, towards the balcony that promised a breeze of fresh air.
He did not step out onto the balcony, remained hidden behind a pillar, always in the shadow. It was enough to see the expanse of the lake, the hills far off in the distance, the crystal clear reflection of the moon on the calm water. Vague memories of long gone nights spent beneath the night sky, watching the quiet waves of the sea flooded his mind. He had been a different man back then.
Long years had passed since he had last uttered the name, had thought it drowned with the body of the woman he had loved. For so long he had believed that man had died with her. Only now, standing in the royal chambers with the intention to kill did the flicker of hope begin to glimmer that that man might still be hidden somewhere within.
Her steps were quiet as she approached him, and he could hear that she was barefoot, even though her nightgown had hidden that fact from his view. A warmth spread across his back, shivers running down his spine as she stood right behind him. You were a sailor.
How do you know?
Because you smell like the sea. Her breath was warm and damp as she whispered into his ear, causing him to shiver once more. She smelled like flowers, sweet, mingled with the tangy scent he had smelled so many nights outside her door.
That was long ago. It was a sigh, filled with remorse. He had lost the sea when he had lost himself.
She stepped around him, still too close, the warmth of her body penetrating the thick leather shielding him from the world. You do not look much older than I am. The curiosity in her voice reminded him of her innocence, of the pointlessness of his assignment.
Looks are deceiving, always remember that, milady.
My name is Emma. She stood in front of him once more, out in the open of the balcony, not granting him any more of the view of the dark night. Yet nobody calls me that.
Nobody calls me Killian, either.
They looked at each other in silence for a long moment, the soft breeze outside dancing through Emma's hair. Against his better judgment, he reached out his good hand, mimicking her movement from last night, only to trace a long curl of her hair with the tip of his finger. Like silk it slipped through his fingers. There was a hitch in her breathing.
What happened to your hand? Her eyes flickered to his hook, to the weapon that was meant to pierce her heart. Perhaps she was brave, he thought as her gaze lingered there, not afraid, not disgusted. Curious.
Someone took it.
For another moment he watched her eyes follow the curve of his hook before she looked up at him again. I am sorry.
So am I. He had no clue what he was apologizing for. That the Crocodile took his hand? That he had lost the woman he loved? That he was now here, sent to kill her for no good reason? That nobody called her by her name?
I do not understand how you could have taken all those lives. The lack of fear from what he had done seemed unsettling, yet he knew his doubts were merely scratching the surface of who she was. You do not seem...
Emma's words trailed off into the silence of the night, and he picked up where she left, not knowing where to go and what to say, and most certainly why she was still alive and he here, with her. There are too many things we do not understand. And life almost never makes sense. It certainly is never fair. You have done nothing wrong. Yet you are meant to die.
Open, clear eyes dug deeply into his. So, my life is in your hand. The warm of her fingers as she reached out to capture his hand, still lingering around her shoulder. What do you do now?
Their fingers entwined, and with a sharp intake of breath, he pulled, crushing her against his chest. Do not think I don't understand this game you are playing. The voice had turned into a hiss once more, her eyes narrowing as she inspected his. It is a dangerous one.
For a moment he thought the rules of their game had been revealed, but then her clever fingers, reached up, and with once sharp movement, his scarf fell to the floor. Is it? The gaze that scanned his face was white hot, causing his throat to lock up, air failing to flood his lungs until she released him, taking a step back. I don't think you are as dangerous as you think you are.
Your Highness- The mocking tone of his voice was silenced by her determination.
Emma. I told you. Undoing her own work, she stepped closer again, until he could feel the dampness of her breath against his cheek. My name is Emma. What it was about her that petrified him, he could not tell. Still, he moved not an inch when her hand crept beneath his coat to slide up his chest. What- Abruptly, she stopped, genuine wonder marking her features as she looked up. Your heart. It's not beating.
It is. His fingers curled more tightly around hers. Just not in here.
Someone took your heart? She whispered the words in horror, but the moment of honesty did not last long. Quickly, she restored the mask that she carried so well, her features set in stone.
That is why you... He knew she wanted to say kill, and it would be a lie that his own thoughts had not traveled down the line. The truth, as painful as it was to admit, was that he had no clue how much control she truly had over him, how much power it gave her to have locked up his heart in a chest controlled by a key.
You can choose to believe that. I don't know.
It was there again, her curiosity. The siren disappearing once more into a mist of innocence. Do you feel anything? Without you heart?
Hesitation dragged out his breathing, her face too close, her spirit clawing at his soul. I feel pain.
Time seemed to stand still. They simply looked into each others eyes, breaths mingling. When she started to move, his breath hitched. Closer and closer did she lean into him, her hand stoking up from where his heart had once been to his now exposed neck. What are you doing?
Playing the game. The whisper was filled with determination, the wicked grin back to contort her features. Do you feel this? And then her soft lips pressed against his neck, a million strokes of lightening shooting through his system.
He was lost then, completely and utterly drowning in her like a shipwrecked sailor. His hand dropped hers to roughly grab her waist, the curve of his hook pressing into the small of her back as he pulled her closer. Her breath was warm against his prickling skin, and when she looked up at him with a glint in her eyes that burned like fire, nothing seemed to matter anymore.
Their lips crashed together with so much force that his back hit the pillar, her lithe body curving around his. She was as greedy as he was, parting her lips, bruising his, tongue darting out to run along the sharp line of his teeth. Cold fingers curled into his hair, pulling him down towards her, a groan escaping his lips. They barely parted enough to breathe, airless moans and whimpers filling the silence. Closer and closer did he pull her, her hips angling into his.
When she pressed against him, he could not help but free his lips from hers, groaning against the soft but chapped skin, diving back in almost immediately, like a starving man. She sighed against his skin, hands almost desperately curled around his neck to pull him closer. The sounds she made, the shivers they sent down his spine, it was all too much. His hips bucked against hers, the white hot heat it sent through his body like fuel.
Almost violently, he buried his fingers in her hair, angling her head back, holding back the urge to turn her around and reverse their position.
Her lips were angry, teeth sinking into his skin, not enough to draw blood, but painful enough for his hold on her waist to tighten, for his hips to move quicker, for a husky moan to escape his lips.
It was as if she tried to crawl into his skin, eating him alive with no sign of mercy. It was not enough, not when his hand moved across her exposed collarbone to feel her shiver even more, not when she hooked one of her legs around his to increase friction, not when her short fingernails scratched along the nape of his neck. It was not enough, and he had to pull back before the heady lust that pulsed in his veins took over.
This was wrong.
Greed was dominant, and he leaned in to deepen the kiss for just another few second before he pulled away, breathless, needing to hold her back as she moved in to resume what he had ended. They were still close, their foreheads touching, almost intimately as their ragged breathing began to calm down.
Are you going to kill me now? For the first time, there was nothing but fear in her voice, all walls broken down.
It had been rough and quick, but when he moved his hand to cup her cheek, flushed and warm, it was suddenly tender. No.
Her nose bumped against his, and his eyes fluttered closed at the sensation. It was still too much, she was too much. Why?
I don't know. It was the truth. It was more than he could bear. But I must go.
The urge to lean in and brush his lips against hers once more, to feel the softness and the eagerness, was painful, yet he stepped away from her with all the determination he had.
Will I see you again?
He turned to look her, standing against the silver light of the moon. I don't know. You must tell your parents that you are in danger. They must protect you. Her hair was a mess, golden curls wild and unruly, cheeks blood red, eyes dark. Filled with sadness. As if he had infected her with his own. But I... I am a threat. I can not guarantee what I will... How much control I have.
For the first time since his heart had been ripped out of his chest, he noticed the emptiness it had left behind.
So you never wanted to kill? There was so much hope in her voice, as if the man she was facing, the man he was, was not real, that a better one hid behind the blood-smeared facade.
I never said that. The line of false hope was one he had too long walked along, one that had pulled him into an abyss of disappointment and despair. Never would he want her to follow the same path.
You must find your heart. Please. She made a step forward, and in return, he moved closer to the door. If he did not leave now, he knew he would lose what little of his heart was still there, present, in his control.
Yet again, he slipped out of her room, turning into the shadow that roamed the empty corridors of the castle.
Killian. Her voice was broken, tears trailing down her cheeks. He looked at her, kneeling by his side, blood coating her own hands and she grabbed him, his rapidly beating heart wrapped in the fingers of her free hand.
It was his own voice he could barely find, the weight of hook suddenly pulling him down. Blood. Torn skin. I love you.