A/N: Title credit to my beta, Erin (captainswanthief), and thank you for being the best!
Summary: AU: When the Evil Queen burns the wardrobe, one pirate captain is left with a single choice: rescue the savior, whisk her away to Neverland, or risk losing his revenge. As a result, Emma grows up with a life of adventure as a Lost Girl in Neverland, blissfully unaware she’s the only one aging…until a painful lesson from fate steers her destiny back on track. Captain Swan.
(sidenote oh my god i can’t believe i’m writing fics again what’s happening)
Read at FF.net as well! The full chapter 1 has already been posted there! Reviews are so appreciated, as I’m pretty rusty with my writing and would love feedback. Or just encouragement to keep going. :)
Bloody horses. He hated the beasts—loud, oversized dogs, in his opinion—but there had been no time to be picky. He’d stolen the first horse he could find, a brilliantly black mare with inky eyes. If horses could smirk, he’d thought.
A flash of lightening reflected over the Queen’s castle, thunder echoing in his ears; he was sure the curse was soon to follow. “C’mon love, faster,” he urged the steed, digging his heels into her sides. The Queen’s men were likely taking the troll road, but he knew he could beat them by a good twenty minutes if he cut through the forest.
But the Queen burned the wardrobe, a small voice reminded him. Just what do you think will save that child now?
He steered the horse in the direction of the forest, and after a brief moment’s hesitation, she followed his lead, charging through the trees.
He had but one card left to play.
Reaching around his waist, he pulled a small pan flute from his satchel. He brought it to his lips as the mare leapt over a log, and for a brief moment, he was flying, the wind carrying his whistle to the stars, singing the song he could never forget.
One hour before
"You know what to do," the Queen’s cold voice floated down the corridor. She wasn’t speaking to him, but to someone else at the end of the hall. He looked up from his hook, relaxing the hand with the file. Nervously, his ears twitched. "Burn it. Then kill the child," she spat.
The shuffling of metal was quickly followed by the sound of her footsteps echoing down the hallway. He straightened against the wall, trying to appear like he hadn’t been listening, but his curiosity was too far piqued. “You’re going to burn Snow White’s castle?” He asked the approaching Queen, forcing causality into his tone.
She flicked her eyes over to him disdainfully, pursing her lips as she considered him. Then, as if her pride got the better of her, a wickedly satisfied grin cut across her face. “I’m burning Snow White’s last hope.” She paced around him, her eyes to the ceiling in mock-innocence.
"I had a mirror planted by one of my moles; I’ve been watching those…two—Apparently there is a wardrobe which would transport their child, the savior, to a safe place, before my curse will strike.” Then she clapped her hands, as if to signal a change in subject. “But that matter has been taken care of. Now, where is my mother’s body?”
"Right this way, majesty," he said curtly, gesturing to the gilded door behind him.
She gave him a sidelong smile, her mouth upturned in a way that made even him uncomfortable. “Well done, pirate. I’m impressed. I’ll see you on the other side of the curse, Hook,” she said smugly. Now he really was uncomfortable, which wasn’t easy to do, but he quickly recovered, giving her a wink and tight smile.
Whatever she had planned, Hook wanted no part of it. He watched her disappear behind the doors, the gears already turning in his head. Cora hadn’t told him much of her plan, promising the rest of the details after she took her daughter’s heart, but he realized with the savior dead, there was no way the curse could be broken. No way for him to find Rumplestiltskin, unless he went along with the curse—but then he would be trapped there, too, with none of his memories.
There was only one move to make. He turned on his heel. He need a horse, and fast.
Everyone around him may have been playing chess—but it was about bloody time they realized a pirate could not be set to the board.
He was halfway up the wall of the castle when a peculiar smell drifted into his senses. He sniffed at the evening air, frowning at the familiarity of the odor. It smelled almost like… Smoke, he realized, eyes widening.
Hook craned his neck up, looking up the wall above him, and spotted a gray cloud billowing from the northeast tower. Wonderful, he griped, realizing he’d been climbing almost entirely in the wrong direction.
Grabbing for vines, he sank his hook into the wall of the castle and began maneuvering his way towards the tower. They had to make heroics so damn difficult; this is why he usually stayed far away from do-gooding. He made a mental note never to save a life again.
He heaved himself onto the windowsill of the nursery, panting and wild eyed. He gave himself a moment to catch his breath, a move he immediately regretted as a sharp, cold object poked into his gut threateningly.
"Don’t come any closer," a woman’s voice warned. Slowly, he raised his eyes from the blade to the woman, trying to keep the annoyance off his face.
He scanned the room, eyes widening at the sight of the Queen’s fallen men, blood pooling from their dark armor. It was clear where the fire had been, but no wardrobe was distinguishable in what remained of ash and charcoal. His eyes fell on a figure in a white shirt stained with red. He was breathing, but barely.
Damn it all, Hook cursed. He was too late. The woman, her dark hair matted with flowers, registered his gaze to the unconscious man and raised the blade protectively.
Finally, he took in the woman herself. This could only be Snow White, her lips as red as the blood on her husband’s shirt. Her cheeks shone with tears, and in her arms she clutched an oddly quiet newborn, swaddled in a white woolen blanket. The savior was still alive! Maybe he wasn’t too late, after all. “I’m here to help,” he said, raising his hand and hook to show he meant no harm.
Her eyes flicked from his hook to his face. “I doubt that very much, knowing who you are—Hook,” she snapped suspiciously.
"I can take the savior to safety," Hook pressed on, trying to conceal his frustration. He was too exhausted and annoyed to be properly charming—and besides, he had a feeling she might see right through it.
"And why would you do that?" She arched her neck back, eyeing him with a newfound curiosity.
Tick tock, a voice in his head warned. The Queen was likely on her way, now, with the curse soon to follow. “Because I need that curse broken, too,” he hissed through a clenched jaw. “And I know of a place that she could grow up unharmed, until she’s ready to find you.”
"The wardrobe was burned," Snow mused softly, her grip on the sword relaxing.
A spark as bright as the blue star gleamed in his eye, a mischievous look overcoming his face. He had her, now. “There is another way. And you have no other options, as it would be.”
Snow gripped the child to her bosom tighter, but the sword fell to her side. She looked over her shoulder, eyes falling on her husband. “Or…we could all be together,” she said wistfully.
"Wishful thinking, that. The Queen is on her way here as we speak, highness, and I have it on good authority she has no intention of letting your child live through the night." Her eyes snapped up, narrowed before him. He had her full attention now.
"Oy," a voice called from the window. They both turned to greet the owner of the voice, a young boy of maybe sixteen, with wild yellow hair, crouched on the balcony with a rather put out look on his face.
He glanced around the room, seemingly nonplussed by the blood. “Rather grim here, isn’t it?” he observed impassively, his voice flecked with indecipherable accent. He cocked his head at the pirate. “Ya called, Cap’n? Woke me from a nice nap, mind you, but I figured if you were playing that damn flute again it must be important.”
"Felix." The pirate smiled thinly, not skipping a beat. "You’re right on time."
"Usually am," the boy replied with a roll of his eyes. "What’s this all about?"
"Yes, what is this all about,” Snow interjected, daggers on her tongue.
Right. Hook had nearly forgotten about Snow. He pivoted towards her, glancing once more at the newborn savior. The baby opened its eyes, bright and blue, and held the gaze of the pirate. He swallowed, trying to mask his discomfort—he liked kids just fine, but babies were a deliberately alien topic for the pirate. He always saw them as just so…fragile.
"Felix here is going to take the savior to Neverland," Hook said lightly, tearing his eyes away from the baby.
Simultaneously, as if on cue, both Felix and Snow sputtered, “I am?” “He is?” Snow’s eyes were as wide as the boy’s, but more with fear than shock. She clutched the baby closer.
"There isn’t much time for arguments," Hook said firmly, but gently, stepping towards the new mother with his hand outstretched.
"There’s time for explaining," Felix called from behind them.
"Neverland?" Snow echoed, her brows knotted. "But…she’ll never grow up. She’ll be a baby for all of eternity. Time is stopped there." Ah, so the savior is a girl, he noted absently.
"Alas," the pirate replied smugly, "such is not the case. Only if one chooses not to age, do they cease to.”
Snow flicked her eyes to Felix for confirmation, which he gave with a curt, annoyed nod of his head. Suddenly, a shock of lightning filled the room, quickly followed by a clap of thunder and the loud ringing of a bell. Snow looked to the window fearfully, licking her lips. “It’s here,” she whispered, and glanced down at her daughter as if for the last time. She pressed a kiss to her forehead, lingering there, before striding to the window and holding the baby out to Felix.
He made no move to accept her. Rather, instead he sneered and looked to the pirate. “Can’t you just take her back with you, Cap’n P? I’ll give you the dust,” Felix whined.
"Lad, I told you not to call me that," the pirate hissed, his eyes darkened. "And besides, you bloody well know I can’t fly."
Felix glowered briefly, considering this, before snapping the baby from her mother’s arms and levitating off the balcony. Snow’s eyes widened at the sight of the boy in midair, but he didn’t get far before the captain called out to him. “I’ll have that extra dust, if you don’t mind,” he said, a wicked look passing over his face.
The corners of the boy’s mouth lifted devilishly, and with a haphazard balancing of the baby that withdrew an uncomfortable noise from Snow, Felix fumbled in his pockets for a small, nondescript rucksack. He tossed it to Hook. “See you there,” he called over his shoulder, darting into the wind.
By the time Snow tore her eyes from the sky, Hook was already ripping a curtain from the window, securing a knot on the balcony. He was halfway over the ledge when he paused, a grimace on his face. “There’s time to make it to my ship. You can come with me, to the Neverland. You can still be with her.”
Snow was already back by her husband’s side, on the floor, cradling him. She looked to the pirate with a sad smile. “He can’t be moved,” she said softly, more to herself than Hook, “I won’t leave him. Nor can I move fast enough in my state.” Another crack of thunder filled the room, and her expression turned grave. “Go, go now.”
His face twisted, a pain rising in his chest. But there was no time for sympathy. He sent her one last look before lowering himself down the makeshift rope. The Queen and her curse were on their way, and he had fifteen minutes to make it to his ship, at best. As it would be, his castle resided at the mouth of the bay that fed to the shore where he’d anchored. It was either sheer luck or sheer fate, but he thanked the stars regardless.
He hit the ground running.
The Jolly Roger was uncomfortably quiet. Smee stood at the railing, eyes desperately on the horizon. The captain had sworn he’d be back straight after he freed the Evil Queen’s prisoner, the one who could help him seek the Dark One’s dagger, but that had been days ago, and Smee had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. Where was he?
Then, as if answering his thoughts, a wind carrying a soft song filled the deck of the ship, billowing through the sails and swelling in the ears of the crew. Smee’s hairs stood on end; something was not right. The song gently faded, the wind moving it up towards the moon.
Smee whipped around, facing the frozen crew. He bugged his eyes at them, but no one made a move. “You heard the song! You know what that means! Hoist anchor! Prepare to sail!” He bellowed finally. As if snapped from a trance, they burst to life, scrambling and scattering to follow orders.
Lightning and thunder clapped overhead as a dark purple cloud began spilling over the mountains. Smee’s eyes widened, looking to the forest just as a dark figure broke from it, running like hell towards the ship. He dove into the water seamlessly, and began swimming.
Smee crossed the deck, pulling a loose rope from a mast pole. “Someone help me hoist up the captain!” He called, and a few hands rushed to lower the rope overboard. Within moments, the captain had reached the bow of the vessel and was being hoisted up.
Breathing heavily, the captain shook the water from his hair and doubled over, hand on his knee. “Glad you got my message,” he panted, laughing almost deliriously. He swore would sleep for two full days after all this.
Smee’s fearful eyes were already back to the mountains, the purple smoke growing bigger and closer. “What is that?”
"That," Hook breathed, pulling Felix’s knapsack from his breast pocket, "is something I have no intention of experiencing. Anchor hoisted? Yes? Lovely." He pulled at the strings of the bag, tipping it upside down and holding his hand underneath to catch the golden, shimmering dust that began spilling out of it.
"Is that…" Smee trailed off. Hook shot him a devilish look, raising the cupped hand to his lips. He blew, hard, and the dust spread into the air, picking up in the sails, kissing the wood, swirling alongside the railing, turning everything golden.
The ship lurched into motion, creaking loudly as it lifted off the water. Hook crossed the deck, racing up the stairs to the helm. The ship was rising fast—and just in time, too, as the purple smoke, still crackling with electricity, had begun spilling over the bay.
Smee followed him to the wheel, eyes never leaving the smoke, now far below them. “Are we going—back?” He asked hesitantly.
Hook’s reply grin was so wide it could swallow the sea. Smee twiddled his hands together anxiously. “But…how are we supposed to find it again without a magic bean, Captain?”
Hook laughed, the adrenaline still running wildly through his veins. He’d be lying if he said today hadn’t been the most fun he’d had in…ages. “That’s easy, mate. Second star to the right,” he yelled over the wind, giving the wheel a grand spin, “and straight on till morning!”