FanFic Friday: Killian Has A Swordfight With An Unexpected Opponent


In my Once Upon A Time fanfic, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, an alternate timeline is created when the Jones family flaunts a generational curse leveled by Triton, and he meddles with time, creating a whole new reality for Emma and Killian. Their daughter, Meriel and her magical companion, Kai have to travel back to this altered past,  then get her parents to meet and fall in love in order to restore the timeline.

In this scene, young Meriel is good and mad at Daddy, after he runs out on Emma to seek his own fortunes. She decides to take matters in her own hands and get him back on track.

Killian was making good time as he journeyed back to his ship. He could have made better time if he’d hired a horse, but he was just angry enough that it felt better to walk. Or in his case, stomp. He made a serious effort to reign in his temper since he was making enough noise to attract an ogre if he wasn’t more circumspect, but it was difficult.

Bloody idealist prat. We need you, Emma, they need you… And Emma had swallowed it whole.

He’d given her a choice, and she’d chosen some daydream of being a princess over a life on the seas with a marauding pirate. He shouldn’t have been surprised, really, but it stung all the same.

He’d thought they understood each other. He knew she craved a different life, and he knew he was the one who could give her all the excitement she’d ever need in his bed and out of it. They could have had a life together. A life like he’d had with Milah, free and answerable to no one but themselves, indulging themselves wildly in whatever their appetites desired.

He’d seen that same adventurous spirit in Emma’s eyes, but he had been wrong about her. Emma wasn’t Milah.

And it was just as well, because he had something that he had to do.

He kicked at a root as he walked, and if he hadn’t been so deep in his misery, he would have heard it sooner. As it was, it took nearly twenty minutes before he noticed he was being followed. He rounded a bend in the road and flattened himself against a tree. It only took a few minutes before someone passed by and he threw them to the ground. He had his hook at their neck before they could get their breath back.

“You!” He looked down at the girl in surprise. “What are you doing? Why are you following me?”

“I need to talk to you!” Meriel sputtered.

“You’ve run your pretty mouth enough for one day,” Killian said darkly. He rolled up to his feet. “Go spread your message to the rest of the masses. I’m done with you.”

He strode off, and Meriel scrambled up to her feet, taking off after him again.

“Oh, no you don’t! ” she said, standing in front of him. “You listen to me!”

“Don’t delude yourself that just because you’re a woman, I won’t lay you low,” he said menacingly. “Now get out of my way.”

“You won’t hurt me,” Meriel said, lifting her chin. He made a move to go around her and he pushed her. That was when Meriel discovered that she had her father’s temper in spades. She pushed him back, hard.

“You are bloody well going to listen to me!” she reached down, pulling the cutlass she had at her side and bringing it to bear on the center of his chest. He stepped back with an exasperated smile, and in an instant, he’d pulled his own sword.

“You might be full of bravado, lass, but you’re no match for me. Leave now before I end up hurting you. Run home to your boyfriend and enjoy your crusade with the lost princess.”

Meriel was furious. She circled him slowly. “I warn you, Captain. I was trained by the best. And on top of that, I’m motivated – and you have no idea how motivated I am. You are going to listen to what I have to say, even if I have to spend the rest of the night healing all your wounds.”

Killian was quickly losing patience, but he was also losing some of his anger. He admired the girl’s gumption, but he really needed to get back to his ship and she was delaying him. He lunged forward, with a quick flick of his wrist, expecting to disarm her – maybe even turn her over his knee and give her a couple of swats with the flat of the blade, but she moved as if she expected it. She parried him instantly and followed with a series of swift slashes – one of which caught him on the shoulder and left a gash.

“Sorry about that,” she said, apologetically. “But I mean business. If I have to do this the hard way, I will.”

He brought his blade down again, whirling on her in rapid succession, driving her backwards toward the line of trees on the side of the path, but she ducked under his arm, slicing her sword sideways and catching him behind the knees with the flat of the blade. If he had been just a little slower, she would have knocked his legs out from under him.

“Rumplestiltskin has taught you well,” Killian said, narrowing his eyes as they continued to circle each other. Meriel’s eyes widened, and she was so astonished, she lowered her cutlass.

“Rumplestiltskin! You still think I’m working for Rumpelstiltskin? How bloody thick can you be?” She shook her head in utter disbelief, and Killian saw his opportunity. He lunged forward, bringing his blade down hard near the hilt of her cutlass hoping to disarm her, when she stepped in and to his complete shock, she grabbed his hook with her free hand and twisted, unlatching it. Then she spun about, bringing it up to his neck.

“I have half a mind to use this on you. You are being such an idiot! Honestly! Do you really – ooof!”

Killian elbowed her hard in her midsection, and then he whirled on her with a volley of rapid thrusts and parries, driving her back, hammering away at her. She was fast – whoever had trained her had done so quite well, but she was tiring.

“Give it up, lass. I can do this for hours. You’re not going to be able to keep your arm up much longer.”

Meriel knew he was right. She stepped back and dropped her cutlass. He kept his sword trained on her.

“My hook, if you please.”

“Only if you listen to me,” she said, panting.

He gave her a reluctant smile. “You’re hardly in a position to bargain, lass.”

Her shoulders slumped. “I know. I know that.” She handed him his hook back. “But you have to listen. Not for me, but for Emma.”

He sheathed his sword and shook his head. “Emma’s made her choice. It didn’t include me.” He turned to go and Meriel rushed forward, grabbing his elbow.

“But it did.”

He raised a brow. “Beg pardon?”

“Her choice included you. You didn’t see her face after you walked out that door. I did.”

“She’s changed her mind?” he asked, carefully.

“No. But she wants you to change yours.” Meriel pushed a lock of hair off her sweaty forehead.

“I offered her a way out,” he pointed out. “She’s not interested.”

“She doesn’t want a way out. She doesn’t need a way out,” Meriel said. “What she needs is someone to help her through.” Killian shook his head, framing a response, but Meriel wouldn’t let him talk.

“You listen to me,” she said, putting her hands on his shoulders. “She needs you. And whether you like to admit it or not, you need her just as badly. But you need her whole. She could run off with you, sail off into the sunset and leave us all behind and it might be grand for awhile, but eventually she’s going to hate herself for who she’s become, and for everyone she turned her back on. She was born to be more than this, and I’m not talking about the princess part of the story.”

Killian looked at her stubbornly, biting down on his lower lip. “And what would a saintly savior like that be doing with a bloody pirate?”

Meriel bit back a smile at his choice of words. “She’s not a saint. And you may be a bloody pirate, but she looks at you and she sees who you should have been all along. She sees the man, not just the pirate. Why do you think she’s starting to trust you? It’s not just because of your stunning good looks.”

Killian let out a laugh despite himself. He couldn’t deny that the girl’s words hit home, on some level. Perhaps the magic she spoke of gave her something akin to being a seer. She was perceptive far beyond the span of her years.

“So passionate, lass,” he said. “Why are you really doing this?”

“Because I can see how much better the both of you make each other, and that’s a rare and beautiful thing. I may have magic, but it’s nothing compared to a gift like that.” She looked down at his still-bleeding arm and made a face. “Speaking of magic…”

She extended her hand, concentrating hard, and a purple glow radiated out from her fingertips down onto his wound, healing it completely. She looked up with a smile.

“There! First time I’ve ever done that.” She put her hand back down. “Sorry about your shirt. I just had to do something to get you to listen.”

“You really are magic.”


“And what about your gentleman friend? Is he magic, as well?”

“Kai?”Meriel let out a sigh. “Yes, he’s magic. But it’s different for him.”

“Stronger, or weaker?” Killian asked carefully.

“Stronger. Much, much stronger.” Meriel replied. “I’m not at liberty to share all his secrets, but he can do things I can’t even begin to attempt.”

“Well, he’s standing ten paces behind you, love, and he looks bloody furious.”

Meriel gave a quick glance over her shoulder, then turned back around and made an exaggerated face of terror. “The question is…” she said, “Is he angrier at you, or at me?”

Killian leaned in and raised a conspiratorial brow. “If I were to make a wager, I’d say you. If it were me, he’d have flattened me already for being a threat. He’s a bit overprotective of you, if you hadn’t noticed.”

“I noticed.” Meriel rolled her eyes. “Are you coming back with us?”

“No.” He put a hand up, covering her mouth as she started to rail at him again. “I’m coming back, love, but I’ll go ahead, if you don’t mind. If he’s going to turn you over his knee…” He raised his voice a bit and looked past her shoulder at Kai. “And I wholeheartedly approve such an action, by the way, then you two should have some privacy for him to do so. I’ll see you back at the inn.”

He stepped around her, giving Kai a nod as he strode past. He got a few paces down the path and turned, calling out:

“Don’t challenge her to a duel, mate. She fights like a bloody pirate!” Then he took off at a jog down the path, his mind spinning as he went.

 The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is part two of my Memory Keeper series, and is available on and Archive of Our Own (AO3).


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