Chapter 2: Captain Jones
“Killian Jones? And where do I find him?” Emma still had no idea about where she was, except that the place was called the Enchanted Forest. She tilted her head, looking at the man. “You seem to know so much about it, why can’t you just indicate me the way back to Boston, instead of sending me to some stranger?”
The man smiled and scratched his chin. “I’m afraid this is more complicated than what you think. I do know many things, but I can’t indicate you the way to Boston. You see, the universe is made of many realms, mostly independent from each other. But sometimes, there are ways to cross the veil between the realms and you can travel through space and time. This book, besides telling stories which really happened, is one of these ways; it made you cross the veil, bringing you from your realm to this one. But the book follows its own rules and will very unlikely bring you back. Other than the book, I can also make you cross the veil, but it would be complicated to send you to the right realm. However, I have an idea about where you might find Killian Jones, and I can even send you there; in just a few seconds, you would travel from here to there.”
Emma opened wide eyes at the idea, imagining herself disappearing from the cottage and appearing in another unknown place; or simply not reappearing at all.
“No thanks, I will walk.” No matter how long it would take her, there was no way she would accept such an offer.
“You still have no trust in magic. After everything you’ve been through today, how can you still doubt magic? This would be barely different from the trip from your realm to here. If you want to walk, I will let you do so, of course. But out of curiosity, could you answer this question first? I had never seen such a powerful denial of magic, and I am wondering how you found the book: can you describe me how it happened? What were you doing when the book appeared to you?”
Emma was forgetting her theory about the postman’s inadvertence; she was trying to accept the idea that the book did appear to her. With a shrug, she replied to his question. “I came back to my apartment with the cupcake I had bought for my birthday.”
“Your twenty-eighth birthday.” The man smiled at Emma’s expression of surprise. “It was written in the prophecy. But I didn’t mean to interrupt you, please continue.”
Her words not much confident as she was watching the man carefully, she went on, listing what she had done. “I lit a candle, watched the flame, closed my eyes, made a wish, blew out the candle. When I opened my eyes again, it was there, in the corner of the table.”
Again, the man looked like he was satisfied with her answer. “You made a wish?”
“That’s a stupid thing I’ve been doing since my childhood.”
“And why would it be stupid? You see, Emma, you just solved the mystery. Making a wish is a sign that you wanted to believe. It was surely all it took for this book to appear to you.” The man was examining the book, looking through the pages, while Emma was staring at him, speechless. “Now you are free to go. You shouldn’t need this book on your way; if it doesn’t bother you, I’d like to keep it.”
Emma nodded; she was not willing to carry this heavy book anyway.
“When you leave this place, walk down the path. After less than an hour, you will reach a junction. Turn left, and after another hour, you will enter an oceanfront village. If I’m right, it should be easy for you to find him.” This last part was not worrying Emma: finding people was part of her daily life. She stood up, having in mind to go and find Killian Jones, the one who would help her find her way home. “Emma, before you go, is there anything else I can do to help you? It is not much, but I can provide you with a flask of water and some biscuits.”
“Maybe I should take the flask of water.”
The man went to another room and came back with a flask. “I would offer you to stay and get some rest before you leave, but from what I know, the man you’re looking for may leave the village in the next few hours. You should go now.”
Emma shrugged. Though she was exhausted, she would not want to get some sleep here anyway. “Thank you. I will go now.”
She was reaching for the door knob when the man stopped her.
“Wait, you can’t go like this.”
Her eyebrows were raised as she watched him climbing up the ladder and disappearing in the attic. He came back down carrying a pair of hide ankle boots. There had been so many things to think about that Emma had not realized she was about to go out bare feet.
“This is all that I have, I hope they will fit,” said the man.
The boots were a bit large but it was fine. “Thanks.”
“Good luck to find what you’re looking for, Emma Swan.”
With the strap of the flask over her shoulder, Emma started to walk through the forest. Birds’ songs were the only sounds breaking the silence. Now that she was alone, she could think of what had happened. The idea that some magical book had made her travel through space and time was still unbelievable. The more she was walking away from the cottage, the more it seemed unreal. Everything the Apprentice had told her was making less and less sense as she walked away. Magic did not exist. She must have been dreaming. When would she wake up? But wherever she was now, whether she would wake up soon or not, there was only one thing she kept in mind: she had to find Killian Jones. Whoever this man was, he was her only hope. There was nothing else she could do, nowhere else she could go, so she kept walking, turning left when the path split up. Lost in her thoughts, debating to sort out what was true from what was not, Emma didn’t have time to worry. The sun was high in the sky, the forest was not too thick; the path was flooded with sunlight. Nothing distracted her and stopped the thoughts from running over and over again in her mind. She was so absorbed that she lost the track of time and, sooner than she had expected, walked past the first habitations.
It looked like she was on the main street. The village seemed very small; ahead of the aligned houses, she could see the path disappearing in the forest again. A simple glance at the habitations made her heart beat faster; the contrast with Boston was blatant and only now she realized how far from home she must be, in space but also possibly time. The dirt road, the absence of utility poles or cars, the clothes of the children playing in the street, or the horses grazing in the stable she had just walked past: everything was reminding her of places she had seen in history books, or in movies depicting stories happening decades earlier. Emma decided to walk to what she guessed was the center of the village, to this portion of the street where inhabitants were more numerous. The center of the village was actually a square on the right side of the street, around which several buildings such as a bakery and an apothecary were lined up. But Emma did not focus too much on the buildings, or on the inhabitants looking around to examine her outfit when she passed them: momentarily forgetting she was lost, Emma walked across the square, heading towards the harbor which seemed as large as the village itself. Memories from her childhood, one of the only happy ones she had, came back to her: memories of this day when one of her foster families had taken her to the ocean. She had loved this place. Even in Boston, whenever she had the occasion, she would go and have a walk by the waterside.
“Captain Jones said we would set sail at the start of the dog watch.”
Drawn from her thoughts, Emma watched the two men who had just walked past her. The only words she had caught were ‘Captain Jones’; could this captain be the man she was looking for? It made sense; a captain of a ship was used to travelling, and could probably help her find her way back home. Emma ran after the two men and caught up with them.
“Excuse me, did you mention ‘Captain Jones’?”
The men turned around to face her and both looked her up and down before exchanging a glance. “Aye, we did.”
“Where can I find him?”
One of the men pointed at the end of the harbor, from where they were coming, behind her. “Can you see this large ship over there, the most majestic of them all? You will find the Captain there, getting ready to set sail.”
“Thanks!” she flung at the men before running towards the ship.
The closer she was, the slower she ran. The blonde was walking when she reached the ship. Sailors were going back and forth between the docks and the deck. A man wearing white pants, a white shirt and a black jacket with what looked like golden buttons, and a black hat, was standing on deck, supervising the sailors; if Captain Jones was there, it should be him. Standing on the docks, staring at him, she suddenly caught his eye as he noticed her. Wondering whether she was doing the right thing, she walked along the ship and got on board, feeling his gaze on her all the way.
Emma stopped, leaving some distance between them, and looked up into the bright blue eyes. “Captain Jones?”
“Aye, that’d be me. How can I help you?”
A sigh of relief left her; she had found him. She then stared into his eyes, trying to find a way to explain the reason of her presence. “This is a long story, but the point is that I got lost, and I’ve been told the only one who could help me was Killian Jones.”
“Then, I’m afraid you’re addressing the wrong person. I am not Killian.”
Hopeful when she had talked, Emma had been willing to hear anything but this. It was like a dead weight fell into her stomach. Her heart thumped in her chest and she felt like she could not breathe, at least until she heard his next words.
“If what you’ve been told is true, the one who can help you is my brother, Lieutenant Jones.”
Emma’s features lit up as she found hope again. “Do you know how I can find him?”
The captain nodded. “Killian is in the captain’s quarters, studying some maps before we set sail. I can lead you to him.”
But something seemed to bother him, which Emma noticed. “Anything wrong?”
“No, don’t worry, I can handle this. It is just that sailors generally don’t appreciate the presence of a woman on board. I am the one making the decisions on this ship, of course, but I would prefer to avoid discord now that we’re almost ready to set sail. It would be better if you could go inside without being seen. Here’s what we’re going to do: only when I tell you, go downstairs and turn on your right. I’ll be right behind you.” Emma nodded, while the man looked around. When no sailor seemed to be looking in their direction, Captain Jones gave her the signal. “Go!”
Emma rushed inside and turned right, before suddenly being stopped as she crashed into someone. She looked up and drowned into bright blue eyes. She was unable to do anything but to stand there. The man had come out of the first room on the right, and had not had time to see her arrive. He looked as much startled as her, if not more. The intensity of his stare which made her hold his gaze.
Neither of them noticed the captain had joined them. “Killian, this is… someone who was looking for you. Miss, my brother.”
Killian kept staring at her. “Um, uh yeah. Um.”
He slightly shook his head, obviously trying to get a grip on himself. This was when Emma realized how close they were, him holding her shoulders while her hands were on his hips. Embarrassed, she stepped back while he held out his hand.
“Pleasure.” Killian still looked dumbstruck when she awkwardly shook his hand.
“Killian,” his brother called with a hint of amusement behind the serious tone. “The lady came aboard and told me she needed your help.”
“My help?” Perhaps it was due to some sense of duty; the lieutenant shook his head again and suddenly seemed more responsible, though Emma could still feel the intensity of his glance. “Brother, can you hold the Jewel of the Realm at anchor a bit longer?”
“Of course. Lead her to the captain’s quarters. If you need me, I’ll be on deck.”
Without a word, Emma followed the lieutenant to the end of the corridor. “Ladies first,” he said when opening the door. She entered the room and glanced around, exactly as she had done when entering the apprentice’s cottage. Except from the swords hung to the wall, there was no sign of threat. The bed on the left side of the room reminded her of how exhausted she was. Maps and an instrument she recognized as a sextant were covering the desk. A ladder allowed a direct access to the deck. Killian pulled out a chair and indicated her to sit down. She watched him roll up the maps and put them away. His outfit was similar to his brother’s, with the only difference that his collar was golden and there was no epaulette. When he stood from profile, she noticed the bow tying his hair in his neck. Finally, he sat down opposite her.
“Liam, my brother, said that you needed my help. What can I do for you?”
Feeling the intensity of his stare again, Emma wondered where she should start her story. “Do you believe in magic?”
Killian raised an eyebrow. Obviously he had not been expecting this. “I’ve seen magic, why?”
“I am still not sure I believe, but it will be easier for you to understand if you do.” The intensity of his stare and the kindness in his eyes were making it difficult for her to hold his gaze.
“Tell me your story. How did you get to me?”
“It’s complicated, it might take a while.”
“My schedule’s pretty clear; we don’t need to set sail as early as it was planned.”
Emma explained how the book appeared to her, and how she fell through the pages and landed in the forest depicted in the chapter she was reading. Hearing her own words, she was feeling like her story was delirious and wondered what the man in front of her was thinking. She tried to judge his reaction, but he seemed to be listening to her carefully. Emma went on, describing her encounter with the Apprentice.
“He told me the book made me travel between realms, but that there was no chance it would take me back to Boston. He also talked about prophecies, and mentioned one of them, one about me. According to this prophecy, there is someone who can help me; it’s you.”
At her last words, Killian raised his eyebrows in surprise.
“There is a prophecy about you and I?” asked the man. Emma nodded.
“If I got this right, you are coming from another realm, you want to go back there, and according to a prophecy, I am the one who can help you?” said the lieutenant, making sure he had understood. Emma nodded again. Thinking, Killian brushed his jawline with his thumb. “Why would it be me and not my brother? He is the captain.”
“Can either of you help me? Can you bring me home?” Emma realized how confident she had been since she had met him. But now that she was seeing him so uncertain, she had doubts. “How can I cross the veil between the realms?”
“I’m afraid you don’t know me very well. I’m a lieutenant, not a sorcerer. I don’t know how to travel between the realms.”
Like when Captain Jones had told her that she was addressing the wrong person, Emma felt this dead weight falling into her stomach. Her heart thumped in her chest, and breathing was difficult. She tried not to show the fear taking possession of her; she had left the Apprentice’s cottage with the idea Killian Jones would help her. But if he could not, who would be able to help her find her way back to Boston?
“The Apprentice seemed to know loads about magic,” said Emma. “Maybe I should just go back to him, tell him the prophecy was wrong.”
She stood up, and was about to open the door but Killian was faster. He stood in front of her, blocking her the way.
“I can walk you back there.”
Emma looked up in his eyes. He looked as if he was willing to help, while having no idea how to. “No, thanks, I will find my way on my own.”
“As you wish.” He stepped aside to let her pass and watched her leave, not finding anything to hold her back.
Without a glance back at the ship, Emma walked away. Thinking of the way back to the Apprentice’s cottage, she realized she did not have the strength to walk. She only wanted to sleep, to forget about all of this for a moment. But there didn’t seem to be any hotel around. After offering her to welcome her at her place, the woman she had asked indicated a tavern where there were also a few rooms.
The place was quite dark and not much populated. Emma walked to the counter. “Excuse me? I’d like a room.”
“Really?” The man asked in surprise, looking her up and down. “What’s the name?”
“Swan, Emma Swan.”
The bartender nodded and handed her a key. “The room will be upstairs, on the right at the end of the corridor. If you need anything to eat or drink, you have everything that you need here.”
Emma tried to think. Was she hungry? So many things had happened, so many thoughts were jostling in her mind, that she couldn’t decide whether she was hungry or not. She simply nodded and headed towards the stairs. But she didn’t have time to reach them, and jumped when she felt a hand on her shoulder, instantly turning around.
“My apologies,” said Lieutenant Jones, quickly taking his hand back. “I didn’t want to scare you. It’s just I had no way to call to you, you haven’t told me your name.”
“Emma Swan.” She was too much exhausted to say anything else, or even to wonder whether knowing her name was his reason for being here.
“Emma, I may have found a way, perhaps I can help bringing you home. It is a bit long to explain.” Killian glanced around, before his bright blue eyes locked on hers. “Will you let me offer you dinner?”