Paring: Killian Jones, Hook/Emma Swan
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Notes: I'm sailing on the Captain Swan ship and I think the wind is speaking to me as I write and the sea water is making me a little delusional. Don't mind me… This story is AU.
Across the hundred seas
''I see you've awakened.'' His voice has a deep drawl to it, soft and content with its barer. Her ears pitch at the shuffling of feet, he nears. Without the aid of her eyes, covered behind a blindfold, she dreads what is to come next. Suddenly she feels cool metal press against her cheek, a point as sharp as a fine butchers knife threads across her skin and dwells into her hair. ''Princess.''
And Emma almost laughs at the sheer knavery of it all.
Here she is, in the vicinity of the world's most wanted pirate, the most crafty and dreaded of them all. A brave one, the stories have said, a cunning one, the kings have roared, a feared one simple merchants have whispered.
And yet, the great and almighty pirate Hook; the captain of the undisputed Jolly Rogers, first to have ever left Neverland and the slayer of the Shadow in the North, had managed to steal the wrong person.
The nightgown was wrenched around Emma's middle. She struggled, clawed at her attackers in an ostensible pretense of self-defense. She was taught better, Emma wields a sword the same way Princess Belle memorizes a book of four hundred pages in a matter of hours. Only this time she held back, ignored the variety of weapons she could use. The lamp at Belle's bedside for example or the warm woolen blanket bundled as a pillowcase underneath her head. She would be saddened to leave that behind.
One of her attackers grunted in his effort to keep her still, she reached out her fist, had it soar ahead in the dim-lit room and felt the ends of knuckles make contact with flesh. A grunt, thick, and a drowsy stumble backwards.
''All Seas! I think she broke my nose!''
''Shut up, fool,'' the one who was endeavoring to keep her still had finally managed to turn her on to her stomach. But she wrestled still, decided that if this was the way she – ahem Princess Belle – was supposed to be taken, than it would only be justified if she left having done damage.
She wrung out her wrists too easily from her attacker, elbowed him in what felt like thin flesh and hard bones. His ribs. He gasped.
It struck her then that if she managed to actually free herself; neither she nor Princess Belle would be captured. And though she had agreed to go ahead with this plan, aware of what it would lead to, she was also convinced there wasn't another way out.
It is the infamous pirate, after all. What he wanted, he got.
With a surge of hope, her survival instincts kicking in, she inhaled a deep breath, ready to scream for help.
But her attackers had spotted her plan miles before it took root, and the lamp she was looking to as a comrade, had turned violently against her as the attacker she had elbowed reached for it and struck her against her temple. The pain shot through her skull and spots of bright light and different shades of coloring, all too strange in a dim-lit room, took host.
She was still conscious, barely, tipping in and out of darkness and crawling back to dusk.
They moved quickly, she noted, every time she slipped back to consciousness, there was something new. First she couldn't move her tongue. A cloth, thick and dry prevented her from speaking. Next her hands, making futile attempts to claw for retention were bound together, and soon her legs scraped against rope, tied tightly and pressing ruthless into her skin.
Afterwards, darkness was all she witnessed.
The boards beneath her crackle, water sloshes with every push further from land. How far have they gone? How long has she been unconscious? The metal against her skin is a pressing matter. It's a sharp thing. She senses with a light push it could break skin, and with the way it was trailing across her face, inching from her temple to her pulse point, she is much in danger.
''You're a fair thing, aren't you?'' The pirate says with the cold metal and an accent underlying his words. ''Is that why your parents hid you? I wonder, shouldn't beauty be shared with the whole world?''
She swallows when she feels his lips tickle her face. He smells like the sea and Emma curses her blindfolds, because it is one thing to be captured and bound, it is another to be bereaved of all the senses that could make her feel a bit empowered.
The metal scraps across the cloth around her eyes, tearing through the material as it falls down much like the flowers on a dandelion. Suddenly she's staring into the bluest eyes she has ever seen.
And the most infuriating smirk to match.
''You live up to your name, love. Belle,'' he tastes the name, glides it over his tongue, and the proximately between them is daunting. She contemplates scramming back, but the idea of him seeing her frightened makes her hold ground. ''Wasn't it?''
''Let me go,'' she commands in a way, she supposes, princesses do. Though Princess Belle is a different case, much kinder, less violent and not to forget she most certainly wouldn't be giving her captor a glare.
There is a reason Princess Belle was hid, as this pirate had said. The pirate, as she shot a fast glance at the metal, who has a hook as hand. Of course – that's where the name comes from.
Princess Belle is an incredible beauty, so much so her parents feared for her safety. What would happen to her once she was seen by countless of men, would they lose her? Belle's beauty was intoxicating. Emma had seen plentiful of times what a woman could do to a man's mind. Emma would reckon that any man who let himself be led by a woman's beauty deserved whatever malice would befall him, but with Princess Belle, Emma would understand.
She had known Princess Belle since she was just a wee little girl, wearing torn dresses and mud on every scrap of skin one could find. And with her, Emma carried a woolen blanket, her name embodied on top of it. Not to keep her from the cold. She had been living on the streets before the royal family had found her and taken pity on her. And the wind that would strike the kingdom struck hard and relentlessly and for someone just six years of age, a small blanket could do nothing to keep her warm.
But it was the comfort, Emma knew, the comfort of it that kept her safe, even when the shivers raked her body as another relentless wind gushed by.
The castle was incredibly. It was drenched in gold and white with chandeliers high in the ceiling and tables that ran for meters. The floors were marble, clean and shimmering. She could see her reflection and knew instantly that she didn't belong.
Led to a servant's room, for the time being, the King had said, until they found something more suitable. They had closed the door behind her, and hardly a second went by before a girl with hair twirled and twisted in the most odd of ways slid from underneath the bed, a book in tow. She looked at Emma and for the first time, she wasn't looked at with pity or as a filthy mongrel that, according to merchants, would scare customers away.
She was looked at with curiosity, a little bit of glee.
She hugged the woolen blanket tightly against her chest, and the girl in front of her with eyes that twinkled as if she had embedded the stars, asked her if she wanted to hear the tail of Sleeping Beauty.
And Emma had never heard a fairytale before then.
''I'm Belle,'' the princess introduced as she drew her tiny legs underneath her long skirt. Emma sitting next to her looked at the book. Belle, she thought. Belle.
''Emma,'' she replied, sticking out her hand. Though in the off-hand thought the girl would refuse to accept it. But Belle didn't refuse. She took hold of it, her smile big and bright, and despite herself, Emma felt the ends of her lips tug upwards too.
After that, they had become best friends while, as she grew older more adapt, Emma served as Princess Belle's personal maid and grew, she liked to think, a little family of her own.
It's been sixteen years since that day, and there isn't a thing Emma wouldn't do for Princess Belle. Allowing herself to be kidnapped in favor of Princess Belle is one of those things.
He grins, shakes his head tauntingly, his hook inches away from her cheek.
''But love, the game has just begun.''
Tensing, she narrows her eyes at him, making him grin wider.
Emma doesn't expect him to reply. Princess Belle's books always had the villain keep secrets and wait for the inevitable denouement before the villain admitted to everything. Then the fight happens. Then the good ones win.
The good always win.
But this is no book, and Hook – who is enjoying himself quite well – leans in closer. She watches his eyes, was suddenly conscious of her shallow clothing. A simply nightgown, one she had taken from the princess' closet in order to look the part.
''Aye, revenge of course.''
She frowns, ''revenge is a game to you?'' Belle would've disagreed. She would make a good case of herself. Teach the brute a bit about proper morals.
Hook laughs a throaty laugh.
''It's the chasing, dear,'' he clarifies. ''The hunt's always been the game. Here's the catch!'' He holds up his hook, ''the game's tricky, harder than most. We're not hunting dears.''
We, she thinks, her captors, perhaps? Are there more?
Surely, it's a ship, and he is after all Captain Hook.
Gods of all, she's talking to Captain Hook.
Tentatively, not really looking for answers, but noting that he will tell her whichever road she decides to take. To question or to keep silent, she asks him: ''what are you hunting then?''
The grin on his face doesn't falter. He's pleased, as if he's placed his foot properly on the mountain he's been climbing for a while now. ''A crocodile.''
He rises and walks to the door, suddenly panic shoots through her and she tries to wriggle free from the ropes that bind her feet and hands and make moving an impossible task.
''Wait!'' She yells, forgetting her initially plan to keep vulnerability at bay. He stops, turns around and quirks an eyebrow at her. She fumes. ''You can't just… leave me here!''
He looks at her warily. ''Of course I can, Belle.'' Then he lets his eyes roam from her bottom to top. The urge to cover herself up is strong, but she can't move her hands. ''Such a pity,'' he mutters, leaving her bewildered.
A pity, how so?
He resumes his walk, and Emma, at a loss tries one last slash, in the hopes of… What is she actually hoping for? Is this not what she – they – had endeavored for; to keep Princess Belle safe, to sacrifice Emma until they find her.
She was told as much.
And they will find her.
''I'll have you know people will be looking for me. They probably are already looking for me. I'm the princess of this kingdom. The world won't rest until I'm found. And trust me, they will find me.''
''That's what I'm betting on, love.''
Princess Belle had opened the book, skimming through the pages. She was swift to read the story; her voice was gentle, fluent for a young child. Emma was captivated, not only because of the easy way Princess Belle went through the lines or the tale of the sleeping princess stuck in an endless dream, but the princess had a way of narrating. A light breeze in her voice, words that seemed so big to Emma and words she didn't know, fledged the princess' mouth.
''What's a sp – spindle?'' Emma asked, tripping over the word that Princess Belle spoke mere a second ago in the easiest of ways.
The princess frowned in thought, her tongue peeking out of the corner. ''It's like a needle. Really sharp.''
''And it had poison?'' Emma gasped.
Princess Belle nodded swiftly, leaning closer as if she was about to share a secret. Emma bobbed her head down to meet her half-way. ''The Evil Queen cursed it,'' she whispered.
She sits there, mouth agape and bewildered, minutes after he has left.
He wants them the find her.
No ransom or perhaps an off thought of meeting the mysterious, hidden beauty of the kingdom. Money, Emma would understand. The world is filled with greed and pirates are its sanctuary. Wanting to meet the princess Emma would understand, people have dreamed of meeting Princess Belle; bask in her beauty, having fallen in love with the idea of her.
But capturing a princess and wanting to be found, why would anyone do that?
He's out of luck, it seems, since he has one major fault in his plan.
He didn't steal the princess.
She relaxes against her restraints, closing her eyes as she releases a relieved sigh. The pirate won't get what he wants.
But– Emma snaps her eyes wide open, they are coming for her. That's what they promised. And when they do, they'll walk straight into Captain Hook's trap.
And not only that, what if he finds out she isn't the princess at all?
Gods of all! What do pirates do to unwanted passengers?
Books spoke of them, people whispered about their vengeance. Emma had heard the stories.
They go off the plank.
She runs through halls, taking sharp corners and passing twisted walls. The kingdom is a maze. But after spending years between these walls, Princess Belle has learned to find her way with eyes closed.
She passes Ruby, who is balancing a tray in her hands. When the girl with red ribbons in her hair and a red apron sees Belle, she drops the tray, gasping as if she has seen a ghost.
Belle ignores her, dashing for the corner at her right and into a new hallway. Finally she reaches the budding doors of wood and iron, wide and tall. Grasping the clunks hard, she pushes the door open, placing all her weight into the motion. When she used to play hide-and-seek in the castle, she had endeavored to hide behind the doors. Find a comfortable space in the large room beyond, but it was always a battle to open the doors alone. And after a while, sitting in the corner of the room, waiting for nobody to find her, she stopped all together.
Then Emma came and together they opened the doors. Albeit, still putting all their weight into it and struggling to make it budge, but they managed.
She grasps her bundle of skirts in a fist, trudging forward to the three people standing in front of the multitude windows covered in red curtains and lining vertically in a crescent.
Her father spots her first.
''Where is she!'' She screams, earning her mother's and Gaston's eyes.
''Darling,'' her mother endeavors. Her face is scrunched up in sorrow, and Belle, as if she had been slapped, staggers back. ''She wanted this.''
She shakes her head, feeling the tears prickle her eyes. ''No,'' she breathes, taking another step back. ''You three forced this upon her. You must have. She would never…'' Leave me. ''No!''
Gaston walks forward; making Belle drops the skirts from her hand as she raises both hands to keep him from nearing any closer.
He doesn't stop.
''We will get her back,'' he promises. But his voice is flat and empty and Belle wouldn't be at all surprised if he came up with this idea.
This stupid, stupid idea.
''They are pirates,'' Belle screeches, looking at the attendees. ''They will find out it isn't me and they will kill her!''
''We will find her before that will ever take place,'' her father reassures steadfastly. ''But we had to keep you safe first.''
And sacrifice her only friend. Her best friend. Emma.
''And Emma wanted this. Emma wanted to protect you,'' he continues. ''This is what she wanted.''
Emma's heroic choices don't surprise her; they had been through a lot. One thing Belle had learned was that they would both going through fires for each other.
She couldn't – wouldn't – leave Emma to pirates. What if her parents failed?
''The world thinks it's you,'' Gaston says, and she's aware he's much too close for her comfort. ''And so do the pirates.''
''But for how long?'' She asks; her voice hardly above a whisper.
No one replies her, and thus she flees the room, squeezing her eyes shut against the tears that threaten to fall and ignoring Gaston's call for her to come back.
How could they ever match up to pirates–?
How could they ever match up to the infamous Pirate Hook nonetheless?