The Promise


"Rabbit, Milady?"

Emma looked up at Much's question and stared at the roasted meat he proffered without any enthusiasm. She glanced over at Killian seated at her side and he merely raised an eyebrow in silent challenge.

"Uh…yeah, thanks," she said with a nod and tried to hold back a grimace as the strong smell of the roasted game hit her nose.

The young man with a noticeable limp and earnest features grinned a little shyly at her before nodding his head in deference and hobbling back to his own seat.

Killian laughed softly and ate his own food that Robin had handed to him, with gusto while Emma pushed hers around the plate.

"It appears that I'm not the only one with an admirer," the pirate commented low enough that only she could hear.

"Oh, please," she muttered with an unladylike snort.

Ignoring his amused laughter at her response her gaze strayed to the young woman he'd alluded to sitting a few feet away.

Killian had gone and invited Martha to sit with them once they'd joined the rest of the group around the campfire. She'd refused saying that she was tired and the pirate had returned and imparted the news with a slightly unhappy look.

Emma could understand his concern. He no doubt considered Martha his responsibility especially after saving her, but now that she'd given away her feelings things were bound to be awkward between them.

The woman glanced over suddenly and Emma looked away. Perhaps it would be a good idea if she spoke with her in the morning. Explain the situation between her and Killian, although she wasn't even completely sure herself exactly what they were yet, or what they were going to be.

She looked at the man beside her and felt a rush of emotion as he turned his head and gave her one of his gentle smiles. It was the one she knew was solely reserved for her.

"You okay, love?" he queried softly.

Hearing the familiar endearment sent another burst of feeling through her body and she wondered why she'd ever been so determined to keep him at arm's length.

"I am," she replied meaningfully.

His smile widened a little then he looked pointedly down at her plate before saying, "Best eat up or it'll go cold."

"Would that make it taste better?" she asked under her breath as she eyed the meat with distaste.

"Probably not," the pirate replied wryly.

She picked up the smallest piece of meat she could find then tentatively put it into her mouth. As she guessed, the flavour was too strong for her and seeing that the pirate had already finished his, she handed him her plate.

"I think I'll pass," she decided then picked up a cup of hot tea that Wat had placed at her feet and took a long sip. Killian looked as though he wanted to object but she added casually, "I had something at home before I came here. I'm good."

It was the offhanded way she said it that struck the pirate the most. As though she'd been calling Storybrooke 'home', her entire life. As though she really did mean it when she said she was back because she missed everyone…missed him.

He couldn't help but feel a modicum of relief even though he still wasn't completely sure what that meant in the scheme of things. There was a part of him that didn't want to ask. Not that he was afraid of her answer exactly; more an attempt at delaying what he deep down thought was the inevitable.

His gaze roamed over her profile as he watched her drink her tea then trailed down to her neck where his eyes alighted upon the black scarf she wore.

His black scarf if he wasn't mistaken.

He hadn't noticed it before, being so astounded that she was actually there his eyes had barely left her face, but now he made a mental note to ask her about it when they had a quiet moment. He'd dearly like to know where she found it and, more specifically, why she was wearing it. He knew of her penchant for sporting tokens to remember people important to her that had done both good and bad things in her life and he wondered which category he'd fallen into when she'd donned his neckwear.

She looked over at him then as if sensing his perusal and he smiled tentatively at her before starting to eat the food she'd given him. She gave him a faintly quizzical look then their attention was drawn to Robin who began to speak.

"So, apart from him stealing people's magic, what else can you tell us of Gisbourne?" Robin asked his men, breaking the silence that had fallen over the small group.

"Well, he is as much an arse in this realm as he was in Sherwood," Gamble replied caustically. He was an older man with a gruff voice and demeanour to match.

"While that's true, I believe Robin would be more interested to know that he has an army of guards at the castle making it nigh on impossible to get in," Gilbert spoke up in a clipped voice. He gave Gamble a disapproving glare before glancing at both Regina and Emma then adding, "And I apologise on behalf of my grouchy friend for his language."

"No need. Really," Emma assured the well spoken, raven haired man with a brief smile.

"Speak for yourself," Regina muttered with a frown.

Seeing that both Emma and Gamble shot the queen a narrowed look, Robin took it upon himself to diffuse the situation.

"Perhaps we best leave this discussion until the morning when we're all feeling a little more…refreshed," he suggested lightly.

"Yes, I think that's a very good idea," Charming agreed dryly as he got up and looked around for a blanket.

The rest of the group followed suit while Wat went off into the forest to keep first watch.

If the prince had any qualms at Emma laying her blanket down next to Killian's like it was the most natural thing in the world he certainly never showed it in his quiet, "Goodnight you two."

Surprised, the pirate could only mumble something vaguely similar in return before settling himself down on his back as Emma lay down on her side facing him.

"Night, Killian," she said with a tired smile.

"Goodnight, love," he replied softly, a smile of his own lifting his lips as her hand sought out his and clasped it tight.

The blonde let out a long sigh. She hadn't realised until that moment just how exhausted she felt. The emotional turmoil of the past few days had definitely taken their toll but despite her physical tiredness, her mind just couldn't shut down. She shifted a little then let out another sigh. There were so many things she wanted to talk about, so many questions she sought answers to, but one in particular was niggling at her far more than any other.

"It's obvious you have something you wish to say, Swan," the pirate suddenly commented in a low voice, "What is it?"

Emma tensed, unsure whether she really wanted to have this conversation now whilst contrarily knowing that she wouldn't be able to rest until she did.

"I saw the vial," she finally confessed in a hushed voice.

Killian turned his head to look at her, his eyes wide and glittering in the reflection of the nearby fire.

"And did Martha tell you what it was for?" he queried just as quietly.

She nodded and it was his turn to let out a heavy sigh.

"You didn't drink it," she stated softly.

"No," he confirmed, staring right back at her.

"Were you tempted?" she asked so faintly that he could barely hear her.

"Yes," he replied honestly after a moments pause.

He heard her breath catch and gave her hand a gentle, comforting squeeze. She was silent for a moment and he thought that maybe she'd wouldn't speak of it any further but then she ventured hesitantly, "So...why didn't you?"

"Because I wouldn't have missed knowing you for the world, love," he revealed on a whisper.

He said it in such a matter-of-fact way as though he thought she must already know that, that it drew forth a whole new level of regret over her thoughtless and if she were honest, completely panicked actions when she'd left.

"But I hurt you," she said unhappily.

"Aye, you did," he agreed with a nod, "but I'd still rather have those memories than none at all. You gave me a reason to want to be a better man again, Emma. That's not something I'll ever willingly forget."

She stared at him in wonder. A few months ago his words would've been too much, evoked feelings that she wouldn't have wanted to deal with but now…now she felt ridiculously happy and so incredibly grateful that even after she'd pushed him away so entirely, this man had still refused to give up on her.

Impulsively, she leaned forward and tenderly kissed his cheek.

"Thank you," she whispered when she drew back.

"It's I that should be thanking you," he murmured with a small smile.

Emma smiled in return and shook her head then settled down on her side again. The pirate eyed her for a second then decided that as it seemed they were being open with each other he might as well ask a question himself.

Bringing his other arm around, he slowly lifted up one end of the material with his hook then let it slide off the smooth metal before asking nonchalantly, "Is that mine?"

Instinctively her hand rose to the fabric and fingered it gently as she nodded.

"I found it in your room," she explained a little self-consciously, "When my parents said you were late coming back, I thought, maybe, that you'd decided…not to. I went to Granny's to see if you'd left anything there, but apparently you travel light. Really light. This was on the floor of your wardrobe and it reminded me of the beanstalk…and you…so I…"

She trailed off a little embarrassedly and shrugged as she gazed down at the material and fiddled with one end.

Killian heard the note of pain in her voice and it didn't take him long to work out what she'd left unsaid. A slight frown marred his features as he was struck with a sudden image of her fruitlessly searching his room. He had little in the way of belongings, even more so now that he no longer had the Jolly Roger, so the fact that she'd actually even found the scarf was little short of a miracle not to mention bloody minded determination.

Without giving it a second thought, he raised their joined hands to his lips and gently placed a kiss on the back of hers. She looked up at him and blinked a couple of times at the gesture then the pirate lay their hands down between them again and remarked softly, "I'm glad that you also did not want to forget."

Emma's mouth dropped open a little at his words then she slowly smiled and nodded her head.

Silence fell over them as they simply looked at each other then Emma unexpectedly gave a large yawn as a wave of tiredness crashed over her. It seemed that now she'd spoken to him her mind was finally allowing her to relax.

"Time to sleep," Killian concluded in mild amusement as she yawned again.

"Yeah, I think you're right," she acquiesced with a sigh.

The pirate watched her settle down then close her eyes and found himself unable to look away, not wanting to miss a single minute of her being there.

"Are you planning on watching me all night?" she suddenly murmured sleepily, feeling his gaze upon her even though her own lids were still shut.

"Perhaps," he answered with low laugh.

"Well don't. Go to sleep, I'll still be here in the morning," she muttered lazily causing his heart to miss a beat at her perceptiveness.

"As shall I," he assured her with a gentle squeeze of her hand.

"I know," she mumbled before letting out another soft exhalation.

Moments later her breathing evened out as the grip relaxed on his hand and he knew she'd finally fallen asleep. Only then did he allow himself to succumb to his own tiredness and join her in slumber.

On the other side of the camp, when she was sure that everyone was asleep, Martha opened her eyes glad that she could give up her own pretence of resting. She quickly glanced around just to be sure she wasn't seen then slowly got up and stealthily walked into the forest.

After a few yards she halted then held out her hands and spoke a quiet incantation. There was a rush of wind and a flutter of feathers then a raven appeared and came to rest upon her shoulder. She turned her head and whispered instructions then after a moment the black bird flew off into the night.

Martha smiled to herself then made her way back to the camp and lay back down again. Satisfied with knowing that the morning would bring Gisbourne what he most desired, she soon joined the rest of the camp in sleep.

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