The Promise

Epilogue

Emma stared at herself in the mirror and couldn't quite believe what she saw reflected back at her. She barely recognised herself in the shimmering, sea green dress she wore. The fitted bodice was just the wrong side of comfortable and the sweetheart neckline with capped sleeves glittered with jewels that she suspected were rather more precious than plain old rhinestones. The A-line skirt fell to her feet upon which she wore satin heels that perfectly matched the colour of her ball gown.

Turning her head first one way then the other, she checked her simple chignon then carefully tucked a stray tendril of hair back into place.

Finally satisfied, she dropped her hands to her sides and took in a deep a breath as she was able before exhaling slowly, fidgeting slightly in the confines of her corset.

So much had happened in the past few weeks since they'd all returned to the Enchanted Forest that she sometimes wondered of she were in the middle of a dream. A magical, scary but completely amazing dream from which she didn't ever want to wake up.

"Oh, Emma, you look beautiful," Snow commented softly as she came up behind her with a smile.

"Thanks," she replied, running a hand self-consciously down her bodice, "I still cant believe I'm going to my first ball."

"The first of many as princess of the realm," her mother pointed out lightly.

"Yeah, still can't quite believe that either," the blonde admitted with a slight shake of her head.

"Maybe this will help," Snow suggested as she brought her hand from behind her back and held up an exquisite diamond tiara.

At a loss for words, Emma simply stared at the delicate headpiece open mouthed and stood mutely while her mother took a step forward and gently placed it upon her head. Staring at herself in the mirror, the blonde raised her hand and tentatively touched the tiara in awe before looking over at Snow.

"It was my mother's," she replied wistfully in answer her daughter's unspoken question.

Emma's gaze drifted back to the bejewelled headdress once more then she suddenly turned and gave her mother a fierce hug.

"I love it. Thank you," she breathed.

They stood like that for a moment then both woman pulled back to look at each other with tear filled eyes and soft smiles.

"Come on, let's get thing over with," Emma finally said with a trace of nervousness as she tucked her arm through her mother's and steered her towards the door.

Sensing her unease Snow patted her hand and smiled.

"I know it's a little daunting, Emma, but just remember that everyone who loves you will be there tonight," she assured her, "Enjoy yourself."

Emma smiled back and tried to calm her fluttering stomach as they approached the stairs that led to the ball her parents had arranged. It was being held in celebration of their return and subsequent defeat of Prince John.

Thoughts of that man automatically brought a frown to Emma's face. The battle had been hard fought and not without its casualties. Robin had lost Wat and Gilbert and would've perished himself had it not been for Regina saving him with her magic. He'd thanked her but she'd merely said that they were even now and had walked quickly away. It had taken another month or so after that before the Charming's finally emerged triumphant and then set about rebuilding their kingdom.

During that time, Rumpelstiltskin and Regina had managed to set up a permanent portal to Storybrooke. It turned out that Rumple also had the rarer items needed in his mansion but had failed to provide that information before Killian had left. To say that the pirate was angry at that little revelation was an understatement. Emma and Belle had eventually calmed the situation although it was a hardly a surprise when the latter had apologetically declined an invitation to the ball.

Then, not a week before the planned celebration something terrifying happened that no one could've foreseen.

Martha suddenly reappeared having somehow worked out how to use the ingredients she'd taken with her to the Underworld to make her own portal.

But she wasn't the same Martha as before. She'd changed into something worse. Something possessed.

With blackened eyes and wizened features she'd gleefully wrought havoc throughout the castle seeking out Emma and Killian, determined to drag them back to hell with her. The insanity was obvious in her maniacal laughter as she became locked in a deadly battle of magic with the Saviour but it was Killian that had delivered the fatal blow.

His sword had cut deep and true, piercing her dark heart and eliciting from her a banshee scream of such agony that Emma was sure she'd never forget it.

"You ready?" Snow asked, breaking her out of her reverie.

Emma realised they were at the top of the stairs and everyone below had stopped talking to stare up at mother and daughter with expectant smiles.

The blonde nodded and as they began to descend she saw her father break away from the rest of the guests to stand and wait for them at the bottom of the staircase as was tradition. The look of joyful pride on his face was unmistakeable and Emma smiled back nervously feeling her cheeks grow warm at being the centre of attention.

Looking over she saw Henry standing at the front of the crowd beaming up at her and her heart melted a little at how grown up he looked in his fine clothes.

Next to him stood Killian, the expression on his face one of awe as his gaze roamed avidly over her figure and a slow appreciative grin lit up his features.

Emma suddenly found her stomach fluttering for a very different reason, the heat in her cheeks deepening as her body reacted to his practically sinful gaze. She reached the bottom of the stairs and he immediately stepped forward then bowed respectfully. Taking hold of her hand, he kissed the back of it softly all the while looking up at her from under his lashes, a smile curving his lips.

"You look stunning, Your Highness," he murmured lovingly, blue eyes burning brightly as he straightened up.

"So do you," she replied taking in his formal attire admiringly.

He was wearing a midnight blue jacket and vest with a brilliant white shirt that was open as always at the neck. His black trousers were snug and highly polished black boots completed his ensemble.

He chuckled then rose an eyebrow questioningly as the first strains of a waltz began to fill the air.

"Will you dance with me?"

Beside them Charming was already turning to lead his wife towards the dance floor and Snow gave her daughter's arm a quick squeeze and a nod of encouragement.

"I...don't know how to do this," she admitted ruefully, feeling completely out of her depth.

"Fortunately, I do," Killian countered lightly, gently tugging on her hand to follow after her parents.

Threading their way through the other couple's, Emma glanced around her in wonder at the enchanting tableau they all made as they swayed in unison to the lyrical music. Killian found some space near the middle then turned and took her into his arms with a smile. After a few beats he began to move and Emma soon found herself relaxing in his hold, matching his steps like they'd been dancing together for years.

"It appears you're a natural, love," he complimented her softly after a few moments.

"It only seems that way because I have the perfect partner," she told him, just as quietly.

His eyes widened slightly at her words then he visibly swallowed hard and pulled her a little closer to him, his arm snaking further around her waist.

Lost in the music and each other, one dance bled into another filled with hushed conversations and happy smiles. It was only when they were out of breath from a particularly energetic dance that Killian stopped by some doors that led out onto a large balcony.

He ushered her over to one side out of prying eyes and captured her lips in a swift, hard kiss that had her moaning and clutching him closer.

"I thought you brought me out here to get my breath back not take it away again," Emma gasped out in flustered amusement when they finally broke apart.

"Apologies, love, but I've been wanting to do that all evening," he confessed with a husky laugh.

"Me too," she admitted with a grin then leaned forward and gave him another heated kiss before shifting slightly in his arms to rest her head on his shoulder. With a contented sigh she looked out over the balcony.

In the distance, the moon's silvery beams picked out the rippling waves of the ocean and high in the night sky hundreds of stars twinkled brightly down upon them. The sweet scent of jasmine filled the air and Emma inhaled deeply as Killian brushed his lips tenderly against her forehead.

"We'd best go back in before someone comes seeking you out," the pirate murmured reluctantly.

"By someone, you mean my dad?" Emma queried with a laugh but didn't object when he pulled away and took her hand to lead her back inside.

"After the other morning I'd rather not give him cause to carry out his threat," he replied wryly.

Emma reddened slightly when she remembered Charming walking in on them in Killian's room. Luckily their make out session hadn't gone too far but still, it was enough for David to go into full overprotective mode.

"Don't worry, I had a chat with him and explained everything and he's fine with us now," she assured him matter-of-factly as they made their way around the edge of the ball room.

Killian quirked an eyebrow up at her in surprise.

"As grateful as I am to know that all my person shall remain intact, what on earth did you say to him to evoke such a turnaround, Swan?" he asked in amusement.

"Nothing much," she replied then paused, debating whether or not to go ahead and tell him what she'd told her father. They hadn't spoken of anything permanent in regards to their relationship yet but she knew there would never be anyone else for her and was certain that he felt the same. Glancing over at him and seeing the adoring way he gazed back at her, her decision was suddenly made. With a poor attempt at nonchalance she continued, "I just told him that I loved you and that I...that I intended to spend the rest of my life with you...you know, for better or worse...the whole thing...if you'll...have me that is?"

Killian came to an abrupt halt and turned to face her, all mirth gone from his features as he choked out incredulously, "If I...? Emma! Are you...? Was that...?"

He broke off reluctant to finish the sentence in case he'd misunderstood and simply looked at her, his dazed expression mixed with a hope that had her rushing to assure him that he wasn't wrong.

"It was; I am," she whispered with a tremulous smile, reaching up to cup his cheek.

Killian stared back at her, his heart hammering in his chest at her confirmation. As marriage proposal's went, it wasn't the most eloquent but the pirate would swear until his dying breath that he'd never heard anything so perfect in his entire life.

Lightly clasping his fingers around her wrist, he briefly turned his head to place a soft kiss upon her palm then leaned forward until his forehead touched hers.

"Yes, Emma," he accepted ardently, a smile curving his lips, "A thousand times, yes."

She laughed joyfully at his answer and they sealed their engagement with a tender kiss.

With a little tug of her hand he then led her back onto the dance floor and held her close as they began to move to the music once more. They would tell their friends and family the good news soon but for now they just wanted to cherish the moment between themselves.

For too long they'd both believed that there was no happy ending in their futures, but all it took was finding the right person and everything had changed.

No longer lost, now they had each other.

They were happy.

They were loved.

They were home.

THE END


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