Characters: Emma Swan, Killian Jones
Spoilers: The series as a whole, and Season 7 up to and including A Pirate’s Life
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, I just like to take them out to play.
Word Count: 1,978
Summary: Emma and Killian start some Christmas traditions.
Author's notes: Written for consci_fan_mo.
The timeline of OUAT is a thing of great and terrible beauty and I have no idea how much time is meant to have passed in Storybrooke this season, but I’m assuming there’s some sort of time discrepancy between worlds and just went with what worked for my story. If necessary, apply magical hand-wavy AUness.
For a town where the majority of the population had grown-up in a land without Christmas, Storybrooke seemed particularly gung-ho about it this year. It was barely Thanksgiving before lights started appearing on houses and the local radio station snuck carols into their line-up. Snow had chalked it up to a desire to celebrate now that so many people were getting their happy endings.
“We’re all ready for some good cheer,” she’d said.
That wasn’t really Emma’s specialty, but she was doing her best. She had her own happy ending to celebrate, too, after all.
She crunched down on a mini-candy cane as she browsed a little spinning rack of ornaments in the hardware store, hoping the peppermint might calm her stomach down. The nausea was way worse with this pregnancy than it had been with Henry. All of the old wives of Storybrooke had been happy to tell her that meant she was having a girl, but Emma doubted you could actually divine gender that way. She’d wait until the second-trimester ultrasound in a few weeks when science would give her a definite answer. Just in time for Christmas.
She selected out a ‘K’ letter ornament for Killian and then an ‘E’ for herself. Killian had brought home a tree the day before but they didn’t actually have anything to put on it, so they were on an expedition to get decorations. Emma used to envy the families she’d lived with who brought down weathered boxes from the attic at Christmas, full of memories and stories of ornaments handed down or commemorating important things. She and Killian would have to start their own box this year.
She added an ‘H’ ornament to the ones in her hand, not wanting to leave Henry out even if he wasn’t around. When he came home again he’d know they’d been thinking of him.
Killian came round the corner of the aisle, pushing a cart heaving with decorations. Canisters of baubles in every color of the rainbow and shape and size, garlands of silver and red and blue tinsel, more garlands of beads, boxes of candy canes and stars, icicles, plaid bows the size of her head...
“I sent you to find lights,” Emma told him.
“I did,” Killian said, pointing. “And I found the other gewgaws and such, too.”
“Is this some sort of pirate thing?” Emma wondered. “Like, an attraction to shiny objects?”
Killian looked down at his cart, considering. “They do have a nice gleam to them,” he admitted. He held up his hook, where another, single ornament dangled. “Look, I found you a swan, Swan.”
Emma’s lips turned up against their will. “It’s probably one of the seven ones a-swimming,” she said. Killian looked blank. “It’s a Christmas carol--never mind.” She added her letter ornaments to the basket at the top of the cart and put the swan in as well, earning a triumphant smile from Killian. “You have to put some of this back; it won’t all fit on the tree. And you have three toppers.”
“I didn’t know which one you’d want,” he explained. “There’s this fairy-lass--”
“She’s an angel.”
“--And this bloke in red--”
“--And this star bauble.”
“It’s...no, you’re right, it is a star.”
“Yes, Emma, I know what a star looks like, thank you.”
Emma rejected the fairy-lass and the bloke in red and kept the star. It wasn’t the five-pointed variety, but a spiky, elegant one that jutted out at all angles like it was mid-twinkle, and it wasn’t too over-the-top. She continued to rule out some of the more garish decorations, much to Killian’s dismay, and pared it down to some multi-colored glass balls, a few garlands of red beads, the letter ornaments and the swan one, plus a little anchor one Killian had found somewhere and clung to protectively through her culling.
“You can put the rest back. And these, too, these are outdoor lights, not tree ones.”
Killian blinked at her. “We aren’t going to decorate the outside, too?”
Emma sighed but, in the spirit of Goodwill Toward Men and Also Pirates with Treasure Addictions, headed up to the cash to pay for it all.
Back at home, after her Killian-mandated ‘rest’, she sat on the floor in the front hall putting strings in the ball ornaments while he fought with the Christmas tree lights. They kept getting tangled in his hook until he figured out he could wield them as a sort of sailing line. Then he had them up and shining in minutes, standing back to admire his work.
“Pretty, ain’t it?” he asked.
“Wait until we get all the gewgaws on,” Emma said. She rolled a ball away from her and picked up the next one, cutting a string of fishing line to make a loop for it. “Did you have anything like this where you grew up? Like, a holiday or celebration?”
“Erm...yeah, I suppose Midwinter was like it,” Killian said, after a moment’s thought. “We celebrated that when I was a lad. It was a winter holiday, like this, and we had lights for it. Candles, mind, not electric ones. Everyone put a candle in the window at night--it was supposed to help show Spring the way to come or something like that. Made the town look jolly when you looked out on it with all the flickering lights in the windows.” He wiggled his fingers to symbolize the dancing candles. “Like constellations in the dark.”
Emma wasn’t used to him speaking that...fondly about his childhood. Almost nostalgic. “Sounds nice,” she prompted.
“Aye,” Killian said. “The lights on the houses here remind me of that. There was a story my mother used to tell us about a sailor...or maybe a soldier? A man who’d been away from home for a long time, anyway, and got lost in a terrible snowstorm on his way back. But it was Midwinter night, and he saw the lights flickering from the village through the snow and followed them home. Something to do with seeking the light in dark times, I think the point was.” He glanced over at her. “Good lesson, I suppose.”
Emma nodded. They were both better at that then they used to be. They sought out the light in each other and the people who loved them when it got dark now. Not that it did get dark much lately. They were both on a good track towards the light.
“Did you exchange presents?” she asked.
“No, that’s a bonus to your Christmas. But my ma made these little cakes--aniseed ones--and we were allowed to stay up late, Liam and I. Wasn’t that big a to-do, really, but we always celebrated it. Until...well, until she was gone...” Killian shook his head, clearing unhappy thoughts, and Emma stopped probing because she knew the expression on his face well enough to know he didn’t want to talk about it. “What’s next?”
“Garlands,” Emma said. “Then the ornaments.”
“Don’t get up,” Killian said, holding his hand out in a stop motion. “I can do it.”
“Killian, decorating a tree will not harm the baby,” Emma told him. “Stop worrying.”
“I’ll stop worrying when the lass I married stops being the sort who doesn’t know when to sit down.”
“I am sitting down.”
“Then stay there.”
Emma got to her feet, ignoring his frown. “Everyone decorates the tree. Those are the rules of Christmas trees. This is my first real one, and I’m going to decorate it.”
“You’ve never done this before?” Killian asked.
“Not with my very own actual Christmas tree,” she said. “There were ones at the homes I stayed in, but they didn’t really...belong to me, I guess. And I had little dinky ones you put on tables when I lived on my own but nothing to put on them. It’s sort of a family thing, and I didn’t have a family.”
Killian must have recognized the same expression on her face, because he didn’t commiserate with her or even look sympathetic. “Telling me heartbreaking stories about your past is cheating.” He gave her a stern point of his finger. “I’m on to you, Swan.”
“Damn,” Emma said, feigning defeat.
He winked. “I am open to seduction, though.”
“Now that’s how we got here in the first place,” Emma said, with a gesture down to her stomach.
“There’s worse places to be.” He popped a garland around her neck, using it to pull her in and kiss her. “All right then, show me how it’s done.”
As cheesy as it was, Emma did have fun trimming the tree, which may mostly have been due to Killian’s childlike delight in placing all his newfound treasures on display. She put her E and swan on, and Killian put his K and anchor on, and they both put up the balls, arguing over where they should go and who was hogging them and whose side of the tree looked nicer. Emma finished by placing Henry’s H on and then Killian got the star up on top and glowing.
They stood back to admire their work, which did look, as Killian put it ‘rather bonny’.
“Now what do we do with it?” he asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Do we sing a song or cast a spell or...bless it, or something?”
Emma bit down so she wouldn’t laugh at the image of them holding hands and swaying like the Whos in Whoville. “We put presents under it. Other than that, we just...look at it.”
“Oh. Well, that’s a touch anticlimactic.”
Emma waved her hand and made a band of glittering particles swirl up from the bottom of the tree to the top, gently rattling the decorations as it went by and disappearing into the nether over the star. “Ta-da,” she said, dryly.
Killian nodded in satisfaction. “That’s the way to do it. So, we’re done, then?”
“Yeah,” Emma said. She looked at the tree thoughtfully for a moment and then went down the hall to a storage cupboard.
“Whatcha doin’, love?” Killian called after her.
“Just a second,” Emma called back.
They had stuffed their wedding presents in there, the ones they didn’t know what to do with. Storybrooke’s residents had given a mix of practical gifts like blenders and impractical ones like golden harps and a really nice bridle that would be great if either of them owned a horse. And a pair of ornate candlesticks way too fancy for the decor of their house but which would be perfect right now.
“Oi, that’s heavy!” Killian objected when she came back carrying one in hand.
“It’s fine,” Emma said. She moved past him into the living room, and he chased after her.
“Is this a Christmas thing?”
“No, it’s a Midwinter thing.”
She set the candlestick in the front window and rummaged in a drawer for a candle to put in it. Killian didn’t say anything, his face set in a neutral expression that usually meant he was brooding on something. Emma put the candle in, and Killian came over to look at it, the edges of his mouth turning up out of the brood.
“It’s not technically Midwinter yet,” Emma said. “So we can save lighting it if you want.”
“No, no, it’s fine,” Killian said. He pulled a lighter from his pocket and held it to the wick. The flame caught and its dancing was reflected a dozen times in all the panes of the window and in Killian’s eyes, which crinkled with his soft smile. “This is sweet of you, Swan.”
“Well, if you were Jewish, we’d have a menorah, right?” Emma pointed out.
“Right,” he agreed, confidently. “…What’s a menorah?”
Emma rose on her toes to kiss him. “Let’s just stick to the one holiday for now. I’ll explain about the rest of them later.”
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