Chapter 14: The Plank
“You found her!”
Emma looked around and saw a man she had never met coming to them as they entered the village.
“Aye. Thank you for the horse.” Killian alighted, before holding out his hand to Emma and helping her off the horse. “Is there anything I can give you in return?”
“No, sir. Knowing that I have helped reuniting you with your beloved one is the best I could ever ask for.”
“You are very kind,” said Emma, touched by his words.
The man smiled. “And you both form a beautiful couple. There is something life taught me: when you have love, you have everything you need.”
“I know,” said Killian, locking his eyes on Emma.
The man only smiled more. “I will take the horse from here. Now, go and live the happy life you deserve.”
“Thank you,” said Emma while Killian bowed his head.
Taking her hand in his, the captain pulled her towards the docks, and together they walked to the ship.
“Killian!” Liam ran off the ship and pulled both of them into a hug, an arm wrapped around each of them. “You did it.”
“Aye, there’s no need to leave without me.”
Liam stepped back and Emma looked at the two brothers, ignoring what they were talking about.
“Do you really think I would have abandoned you here?” asked Liam.
“That’s what I had told you to do, if I didn’t come back after a week.”
“And that’s what I had decided to ignore. Killian, I couldn’t leave you here,” he added when seeing the look of surprise on his brother’s features. “I am glad to see you both safe. And, brother, this smile fits you very well.”
Emma looked up at him, her hand still in his. He was smiling just as much as he had been all day. He seemed to be happy, and it was all she wanted.
Smee came to them when they went on board and addressed Emma.
“Is there anything you need?”
The man left and Emma turned to Killian, surprised by the sailor’s behaviour. The captain caught her eye and shrugged. He then tossed an arm around her neck and pulled her to him to press a tender kiss on her cheek.
“Welcome back aboard, my love.”
They set sail again, heading back to the Enchanted Forest. In the evening, they had dinner on deck. Killian, Emma, Liam, and the sailors who wanted to join, including Smee, were gathered, sitting in a circle under the stars.
“It’s nice to see you back on your feet, Liam.”
“Thank you, Miss Swan.”
Killian drilled a dozen coconuts, one for each of them.
“Before saying anything else, I’d like to do something I’m not used to do, but in these circumstances I reckon it is needed: I apologize for my behaviour of these past few weeks. I’d like to say I wasn’t myself and decline all responsibility, but I know what I have done and I take responsibility for it.” He paused, looking around, but not surprisingly, the sailor he had threatened to make walk the plank had not joined them. “Now that this is done, and more importantly, I’d like to propose a toast in honour of the most wonderful woman I’ve ever met, the one who won my heart.”
“Killian!” she called in a hushed voice, nudging him. “Is that really necessary?”
He turned to her and flashed her a bright smile.
“Yes it is, I love you,” he answered in a hushed voice as well. She bit her lip, staring at him, while he turned back to his crew and raised his coconut. “To Emma!”
Surprised by the number of sailors who had joined them, she had assessed they were only enjoying the occasion to be off-duty. She had not expected all of them to raise their coconuts and repeat the captain’s words. Hopefully, the moonlight wasn’t bright enough to show the blush covering her cheeks.
“Captain, why don’t you share with us the tale of your adventure?”
“Yes captain, tell us how you found her.”
“Brother, you don’t seem to have a choice anymore, you owe them a story.”
Looking at her as if asking for her approval, Killian then wrapped an arm in her back and started to tell the story she had already heard. Again, Emma was surprised, as all the sailors around her seemed to be listening carefully. She turned to Liam, who was sitting on her other side, and lightly poked his shoulder to attract his attention.
“Why do they seem to approve of me, now? Has Killian said something to them?” she asked in a hushed voice.
Liam smiled. “He hasn’t told them anything. They only needed time, they probably noticed during these past weeks how important you are to him and how much he cares about you. I am sure the other sailors will eventually accept you as well, give them some more time.”
She focused back on Killian’s tale when she heard Smee’s question. “She was in a cursed sleep and you woke her up with a kiss? How is that possible?”
“Magic, Mr Smee. If you read books, you will learn that there is a magic more powerful than the others: love.”
Emma sighed delightedly and kept her eyes locked on him, listening to him. He looked like he was enjoying telling his crew what had happened. Emma tilted her head, examining his features; there even seemed to be some amusement.
“We discussed different ways to go down this tower, but at last she told me she could hold onto me tightly and convinced me the best way to go was together.”
“Killian!” She nudged him, harder this time. It was definitely amusement that she had seen on his features. He was now laughing and pulled her closer to him.
“Alright, this was not as it happened. I was the one telling her we could go down together.”
“And he can be very stubborn,” Emma added. The two brothers and a few of the sailors laughed.
“I had my reasons, it was not only to keep her in my arms.”
“It wasn’t?” she asked, doubtful.
“You had been sleeping for seven weeks, love. Your body needed some time to awaken, I couldn’t let you climb down a tower after barely half an hour. But of course, if I had told you that, you would have tried to convince me otherwise, because I’m not the only one who can be stubborn.”
Her smile meant it all: she knew he was right. Not having anything to reply, Emma leant her head against his shoulder and listened to him go on with his tale. She loved the way he was using words to turn their adventure into a tale. Thankfully, he didn’t give any details about all the hugs and the kisses, or about the single room.
“Finally, we reached the village. There is something the man of the stable told us: ‘when you have love, you have everything you need.’ The man is very wise, because he is right.” Killian turned to Emma and softly cupped her chin. “You are everything I need, and loving you is all I want to do. You are more than everything I could have ever dreamed of and words are not strong enough to tell how much I love you.”
Emma’s lips parted. It was not the first time his words sounded to her like romantic poetry, but every time he was taking her breath away. Staring into his eyes, she was carried away to this world which belonged only to the two of them. Her lips seemed to be naturally pulled to his and she crossed her arms in his neck while kissing him. But too soon, the kiss ended.
“We’re not alone,” he reminded her in a whisper.
Keeping him close to her, her eyes still closed, her forehead against his, she was feeling only slightly embarrassed by the presence of the sailors.
“I am tired,” she whispered so that only him could hear her. “I’ll be in your quarters.”
When she came back from the bathroom, he was there, in the quarters, studying one of his logbooks.
“That’s the outfit you were wearing the first time I met you,” he said, recognizing the black sweatpants and the red tank top.
“Sometimes I wear it for the night,” she said with a soft smile, walking to him and sitting sideways on his lap. “I’ve spent seven weeks sleeping, and I still feel exhausted.”
“It wasn’t a usual sleep. If you feel like you need some rest, go to bed.”
“Killian?” He raised an eyebrow, giving her his full attention. She bit her lip, blushing at the thought of what she wanted to ask him. “I was wondering if you’d go to sleep in one of those cabins again. Last night…” She paused, distracted by his smile, before adding. “You could stay here.”
His smile brightened at her words. “I still have some duties before being off, but I’ll join you in a couple hours.”
He pulled her closer and captured her lips. His fingers went through the blonde curls of her hair she had let down. This time, there was no sailor around, no reason to stop the kiss. The tenderness there was in this kiss made Emma melt. She cupped his cheeks with both her hands, her fingertips grazing his hair, and leant her forehead against his, a smile on her lips. Opening her eyes again, she studied his features. If she was asked to define perfection, she would surely describe him; this dark hair, this tanned skin, this straight nose, this sexy scruff highlighting this sharp jawline, these attractive lips she wanted to kiss again, and especially these bright blue eyes she once again drowned into. Her hands still on his cheeks, she kept her eyes locked on his. After all these times when she had wanted to tell him, she finally let the words slipped out of her mouth.
“I love you.”
She saw the brightest smile settle on his features, a smile not so visible on his lips, but especially in his eyes. His hand slipped in the nape of her neck and he pulled her to him for another kiss.
“You have no idea how fulfilled you make me.”
“I thought the captain was never wrong, but you are.” She pecked his lips. “I think I have a pretty good idea: I’d say I make you fulfilled just as much as you make me happy.”
She rested her head in the crook of his neck and he tightened his embrace.
“I love you,” he whispered in her ear, sending a shiver through her body.
“I love you,” she repeated, her fingers closing on his vest. Again, his embrace was so comfortable and soothing that she felt her eyelids grow heavy. She knew she wouldn’t have the strength to stand up and walk to bed if she waited any longer. But she stayed on his lap, only warning him, “I may fall asleep.”
“Fall asleep if you feel like it. You are always welcome in my arms,” he said, holding her against him, his fingers softly trailing in her back. Emma drifted off to sleep. Killian loved the way her arms were wrapped against his shoulders, or how she was leaning against him. He was not willing to let her go, and waited before tucking her in.
Like most of the other times, she remained fast asleep when he carried her. He softly kissed her cheek and sat back down at his desk. He had been planning on rereading his logbook, but once he had been sitting, watching her sleep was much more interesting. It was only distractedly that he looked through the pages, spending most of his time watching over her. He was planning on going back on deck when, like during the previous night, he saw her shuddering. Fear imprinted her features. Giving up the idea of going back on deck, Killian settled behind her. The night before, he had managed to awake her without scaring her, so he did the same, placing his hand on her side the same way, and trailing down her waist. Like the night before, he felt her fingers softly closing on his hand. He shifted closer when she wrapped herself in his arm, but not close enough to be able to look over her shoulder and check whether she was alright.
“Love? Did you have a nightmare again?”
“Yes.” She remained silent for a moment. He felt her breathing slowing down. “It was the same than last night. I was in this oppressive room again, with curtains on fire and no door, trapped. I don’t understand, it makes no sense.”
This was one of the many things he was admiring in her: she was a tough lass; not anyone had the ability to wake up from a nightmare and say it made no sense. And not anyone could land in a new realm and take life the way she was as it was coming, instead of lamenting her fate like some would do. Lost in his thoughts, he had not said anything and Emma tilted her head in an attempt to look at him.
“Are all your duties fulfilled already?”
“No. I had planned on being off-duty only in a few hours.”
“Does this mean you need to go?”
He couldn’t repress the smile due to the obvious disappointment in her voice. “Not if you want me to stay.”
She didn’t say anything but he felt her hold on his arm tighten, keeping his hand pressed over her heart.
“Then I can stay.”
“Won’t the crew miss you on deck?”
“Not as much as I would miss you if I went there.”
He softly kissed her neck before laying down behind her, tenderly holding her against him, his eyes closed. He thought of the last evening they had spent on the ship before she had been taken away from him. They had been already very close to each other, but during these weeks when he had been looking for her, never had he expected to be allowed to hold her in his arms as much as he had since finding her. It seemed like they were getting closer every day, and he was wondering just how close she would let him be. The night before, he had kept his hand still, but the red top she was wearing was allowing him to feel her skin directly under his fingers, and the temptation was irresistible. At first, he only moved his thumb, brushing her skin, testing her reaction. Until then holding him rather tightly, she let go of his hand. He was now free to move, but unwilling to cross the line, his gestures were slightly hesitant. He was moving slowly, giving her time to stop him if she wanted to. But she didn’t. With more assurance, his fingers softly trailed up her neck and down again, wandering around over her chest and her stomach, while remaining attentive to any sign indicating he was going too far. But she didn’t say nor do anything, other than leaning even more against him. He wished he could look into her eyes, to read her thoughts and share her feelings. The thought she might just not dare to stop him was annoying him and he paused.
“Don’t stop,” she whispered.
With a smile, Killian imagined the blush which was probably covering her cheeks now; something she was usually trying to hide though he was finding it adorable. He closed his eyes again and, more confidently, let his hand wander around. Only one layer of clothes was separating them, but to him it was still one too many; reaching her lower stomach, he slowed down to give her time to stop him, and let his fingers slip under her top. He ran his hand over her stomach, following her lines and mapping her body, caressing every inch of her skin. He could keep doing this for hours and he was wondering if she was feeling it too; this feeling keeping her in his arms was all he wanted, this feeling his heart might explode from all the tenderness and love he felt towards her, this feeling she was all he needed, this feeling that by her side was where he belonged. Tightening his embrace, he stopped his hand on her breast and pressed another kiss in her neck. When he felt her reaching for him, he thought it was to shift his hand, but she actually grabbed his arm and kept it against her.
Both remained quiet, simply enjoying being together in the silence of the night. It was how her hold on his arm loosened that let him know she was asleep. A smile stretched his lips. Now that she was back on board, he didn’t need to escape his quarters anymore, like he had done for weeks. He wasn’t interested in being here if she wasn’t anymore. By her side was where he wanted to be; he would follow her wherever she might go, of course always on condition she wanted him. He couldn’t explain how it had happened, he just knew meeting her had changed his life for the better and he couldn’t go back to the man he was before. What was he doing with his life before she came into it? Without her, his life was empty. This love was the best thing that had ever happened to him. With a smile on his lips, he finally fell asleep.
Emma opened her eyes when she felt a thumb brushing over her breast. Obviously, he was already awake, and if this was his way to wake her up, she might as well pretend she was still asleep; she closed her eyes again. It was not the first time she was experiencing the touch of his fingers, but every time she was amazed by the softness of his moves. She also had yet to figure out why his embrace was so soothing: she had never slept as peacefully as these past two nights. She smiled as he was not moving only one finger anymore; his hand was trailing over her stomach. She kept giving no sign of being awake, enjoying his touch. Soon, she couldn’t keep pretending: he tickled her side and she squirmed. Busted, she turned in his embrace to face him.
“Finally you’re awake,” he said on a teasing tone.
“I’ve actually been awake for quite a while, now,” she admitted.
“I know.” He chuckled when he saw her expression. “Your breathing was not as deep and your heart rate increased.”
“Betrayed by my own body,” she said with a smile, before drowning into his eyes. She let out a soft sigh while she admired their beautiful shade of blue. She had finally told him these three words she had tried to tell several times, and nothing had changed. It was what she had been afraid of, that telling him would change everything. But it was only getting better. With him, she was just happy. She made a face when remembering of someone’s existence. “Killian, what will we do when she comes again? She will know you saved me, she will never stop until she gets what she wants. She will come back.”
“Then, we’ll be ready and we’ll defeat her. Since the day when I met you, I’ve spent more time looking for you than being with you. I don’t intend to let her take you away from me again.”
Emma gave him a faint smile. “I wish I could control my magic.”
“That’s something I wanted to talk to you about. We never had the occasion to discuss this.” Or, when he had got the occasion, he had preferred to wait for her to broach the subject, because it was about her and he was unwilling to force her to talk about in case she didn’t want to; perhaps there was a reason why she had not mentioned it. Now that she had addressed the topic, it was the occasion. “You had never told me you had magic.”
“I didn’t know I had magic. The first time was when she tried to rip my heart out, when you were tied up to the mast. But I didn’t control anything, it just happened. Killian, it scares me.”
“Why? This magic is amazing, it is beautiful.”
“But it is a power I don’t control. What if I hurt someone?”
“I believe in you. I can tell you won’t do anything wrong.”
“I’m afraid I will. This is one of the reasons why I want to meet the Dark One. Maybe he can teach me.”
Killian tried to hide how much he disliked the idea. He was already willing to keep her away from him; the idea of letting him teach her anything was not appealing at all. “Before thinking of asking him for help, what if I can help you? Would you let me try to do something? If it doesn’t work, then we can think of the Dark One.”
“What do you have in mind?”
A smirk appeared on his features. “I have yet to be creative. But I’ll find something and do everything I can to help you. Tell me more about it. Do you remember using some magic other than these two times when I was here to witness it, and this time when you smashed the mirror?”
“Should I count the moment when you woke me up from this cursed sleep?”
“I don’t know. I am not sure it was the same thing. The two times with the Evil Queen, your magic was white. When I kissed you, it was golden. Let’s focus on the times when you were awake, what happened exactly? You must have thought of something to trigger your magic.”
Emma bit her lip; she perfectly remembered what she was thinking of. “I knew what she was doing, I thought I was about to die. And then, I looked at you. Killian, when I was locked in this tower, I’ve spent much time trying to understand what had happened. When you awoke me from this sleeping curse, I don’t think it was the first time our love was saving me. I’ve read magic was emotion. When I looked at you on that day, when she was about to rip my heart out, I... I was just willing to be in your arms just one more time. I thought of our first kiss, of how you… of this feeling like I was burning inside.”
“Burning inside?” he repeated with a smirk, raising an eyebrow, obviously enjoying this piece of information.
“Yes.” She blushed and lightly bit her lip before reaching for his cheek. “You made me feel like this more than once.” Wondering why she had revealed this, she quickly came back to the previous subject. “The second time I used magic, I can’t explain how I did it, it went so fast. I came on deck when I’ve heard you scream. When I saw her with you, it just happened. I realized only when I saw this white light sending her away. I didn’t realize either on the third time. She was the one telling me I had shattered the mirror, but I don’t remember doing anything, I just remember kneeling on the floor after she had showed me…”
Emma was unable to finish her sentence and shifted closer to him, pressing her head against his chest, biting her lip to fight back the tears as she remembered this scene. Thinking, his hand still under her top, he let his fingers trail in her back.
“It seems like your magic is triggered in situations of immediate danger.”
“Yes. But it doesn’t always work. Right after shattering the glass, I wanted to use my magic against her, but I couldn’t.” She remembered the words of the Evil Queen when she had not been able to save herself, ‘you love your pirate more than you love yourself.’ She was probably right.
“I know what we can do,” Killian said, pulling her out of her thoughts. “Join me on deck when you’re ready.”
He kissed her cheek, got up and left the quarters. She needed more time to get out of the bed and out of the quarters.
Wondering what he had in mind, she joined him. He flashed her a bright smile when he saw her.
“You’re here! Come with me.”
“What’s your plan?”
“You’ll see. Now, I want you to stay here.”
“Where are you going?” she asked when he walked back to the railing of the ship.
“You pushed the Evil Queen away, twice, and you shattered a mirror. Twice I was in danger, and twice your magic was triggered. Now, you can surely do something against this: I won’t stop walking back,” he said, putting a first foot on the plank. “You surely know walking the plank is the death sentence for sailors.”
Standing where he had told her to stay, Emma wasn’t taking her eyes off of him. He had to be kidding. “You won’t do this.”
“Watch me.” Both his feet were now on the plank.
“Killian, don’t be silly.”
“Silly? I’m not silly.” He took another step back, keeping his eyes locked on hers.
“You stop me.”
“I don’t know how to use my magic!”
But he kept walking back. He was on the middle of the plank now. One wrong move, one loss of balance, and he would fall. How was he expecting her to use this magic she was unable to control? She ran to the railing and, ignoring his protestations, carefully walked to him and wrapped her arms around his waist.
“Don’t go further. I can’t use my magic.”
He looked much more worried now that she was on the plank. Emma glanced down and gulped as she saw the agitated sea below them. Slowly, she walked back and let out a sigh of relief when she reached the railing.
“This was not the way you were supposed to stop me.”
“I can’t let you drown. And I’m telling you I can’t use my magic.”
“Love, you can do it. Don’t forget I was there, I saw the power inside of you. Now, do you trust me?”
“Yes. You know I do. It is in me I don’t have trust.”
“Perhaps you should, because I know you can do it. But since you trust me, do you allow me to try something?”
Emma regretted replying so fast; she didn’t know what he had in mind, she only knew he could be stubborn. She became even more suspicious when he picked up some rope.
“What are you doing?”
“Trying differently. Would you mind standing up against the mast?”
Not feeling like refusing him anything, she walked back to the mast. Curious to see what he had in mind now, she watched him coil the rope around her, tying her up to the mast.
“Since you’re tied up, for fairness, I will be too. Smee!” The man came to him and Killian handed him another rope before turning his back on him, his arms crossed in his back. “Don’t ask any question and tie my arms together, make sure the knot is resistant.”
“I said, don’t ask anything.” The man complied. Once Killian had his arms tied up, he addressed his crew. “My only request to you is not to say or do anything. Emma has the situation under control, even if she doesn’t know it.”
“Killian, don’t do this!” Emma said as she saw him going back to the plank. What had crossed her mind to let him tie her up to the mast?
“I’ve told you, you’re the one who has to stop me. You can do it. You know that with my arms tied up, there is no way I can survive if I fall down. And I doubt my heavy coat will help. Once waterlogged, it will only lead me to the depth of the ocean.”
He was already very close to the edge. Emma tried to fight against the rope, but she couldn’t free herself.
“You’re going to drown!”
“No, I won’t. You can do it.”
“Killian, I don’t know how!”
“I trust you.”
Panic struck her when he disappeared from view as he fell off the plank. “Killian!”
Tied up to the mast, she couldn’t even see him. But suddenly it happened: her magic was triggered. The rope broke. She didn’t even have time to run to the railing: Killian appeared again and she stared with wide eyes. He was watching the water carrying him, a wide smile on his lips. The magic wave crashed on deck, flooding the wooden floor while he landed smoothly.
“Love, that was bloody amazing! Can we do it again?”
“No!” Still watching him with wide eyes until then, not believing what had just happened, she ran to him. She had never felt so mad at him. She wasn’t even sure she had ever felt so mad at anyone. The thought of slapping him for walking the plank crossed her mind. “Don’t do this ever again! You could have drowned!”
“But I didn’t. I knew you could do it, I knew you’d save me. You don’t seem to know how powerful you are. Look at what you’ve just done, you’ve created some huge wave to bring me back on deck. This was brilliant! Emma, I didn’t mean to cause any panic, but if walking the plank can help you realize what I already know, if it can make you realize you have it inside you, then it was worth it.”
Hearing the tenderness in his voice and seeing all this love in his eyes made her forget the idea of slapping him. Instead, she grabbed his collar and her lips crashed into his. She still didn’t know how or why he had so much faith in her. She only knew that, though disapproving his method, he had managed to trigger this magic she had been trying to control so many times. She was feeling like she loved him more and more every day, and tried to communicate her love through this kiss which was more intense than ever. Pulling back, she looked up at him.
“You’re soaking wet.”
Her comment made him smirk.
“Is that a state you fancy? Should I take care of making you wet as well?” he asked, wrapping his arms in her lower back and pulling her against him.
Emma looked at him with wide eyes, wondering whether she had heard him right. With this smoldering look he was giving her, it was difficult to keep a clear head. As usual, she drowned into his eyes.
“If you look at me any harder, you’re gonna drill a hole in my head.”
Killian laughed and went for another kiss.