In my Once Upon A Time Fanfic, “Adrift,” Killian Jones is hit with dastardly curse that sends him back to his formerly wicked ways. It’s up to Emma to save her favorite pirate, and remind him of the man he once grew to be.
In this scene, they’re back in the Enchanted Forest and getting ready to take on a wicked witch (one that this Hook has no memory of meeting).
“So how do you work this thing, anyway?” Emma asked, stroking her hand down the horse’s side.
Hook looked at her askance. “It’s a horse, Swan. It doesn’t have an ignition switch.”
She glared at him over her shoulder. “Well, just give me the crash course, here. We need to get going.”
“Just tell me how to ride it.”
“Well, the thing is – if you’re in a hurry, love, you don’t really have time to learn,” he pointed out. “I chose this mount because it can easily bear the weight of two.” He gave her a friendly smile that was just a little too friendly.
She gave him a knowing look. “You really don’t think I can figure this out?”
Robin pulled up alongside them, glancing down at Emma. “He’s right, milady. Horses can be skittish things, and in the hands of an unskilled horseman, they can be dangerous. Until you’ve had some proper instruction and time to practice, it’s best that you ride with someone who knows how to handle the animal.”
Emma’s eyebrows went up and her forehead creased. “Oh, okay. Sorry,” she finished, a bit sheepishly. It was a good thing she was looking at the ground in embarrassment, otherwise she would have seen the look that passed between Robin and Hook -a look that Hook acknowledged with a sideways smile and an oh-so-slight nod of his head before Robin rode off to pull up next to Regina.
Emma looked up at Hook again. “So do you get on first, or do I?”
“Let’s get you aboard,” he suggested. “If you sit in front of me, I can teach you how to guide the horse properly.”
“Whatever. Let’s get moving.” She reached up for the pommel of the saddle, and swung her leg over. The horse danced sideways a few paces, and Emma hung on for dear life. “Hey!” she complained. “What did I do to deserve that?”
Hook rubbed his hand along the horses flank, soothing it as he pulled down on the reins. “It’s a living, breathing beast with a mind of it’s own, Swan. He needs a firm hand.” He pulled himself up behind her, not missing Robin’s grin. He’d deliberately leaned into the horse to make him move, but he wasn’t about to tell Emma that, of course. Let her think the horse was a hooligan. He’d reap the reward of her body close to his for the day.
After an eyeroll from Regina and short game of hide-and-seek that resulted in the capture of an impish four year-old boy, they started out for the castle. They made good time for most of the morning, and true to his word, Hook gave Emma some solid instruction on handling the reins and guiding the horse.
“You’re a natural, Swan,” he remarked, “Perhaps it’s those strong thighs of yours.”
“Hook.” The word was loaded with warning.
“Just an observation, love. They really are well-toned.”
“Don’t think,” she said in a low voice, through gritted teeth, “That just because I let you touch me in the dark while everyone was asleep, I’m going to allow a repeat performance in broad daylight on the back of a horse.”
“Wouldn’t dream of suggesting it,” he said blandly. “Unless, of course, you change your mind.”
“I thought you wanted a bed,” she reminded him.
He let out a loud, mock sigh. “I do, love. You are most definitely worth all the trappings. I just wish that bed weren’t so far away.”
She leaned back so she could look at him properly. “Let’s get through this. We’ll have time for that after.”
She faced forward again, and Hook slid his arm around her more tightly, giving her a slight squeeze. The sun was shining, and today was a very fine day, and those words had most definitely sounded like a promise.
It was mid-afternoon, and after a brief stop to rest the horses and eat a meal, they’d all mounted up and continued along the winding trail. They’d chosen to avoid the main road even though it was slower going for the horses, not wanting to tip Zelena off that a large, armed party was getting ready to knock on her door. Emma was slumped back into Hook’s chest after finding it hard to keep her eyes open. He’d merely reached forward, pulling the reins from her fingers before they could slide off. He was just settling her into a more comfortable position when the attack came.
They swooped down out of the trees, screeching and howling, their claws extended as the ripped and tore at everyone. There were a half-dozen of them, their wings beating a staccato pattern as the dove and attacked again and again.
“Take cover!” Robin shouted. He was already off his horse and pulling Regina down, too. He pushed Roland at her. “Take him!”
Regina ran for the trees, pulling Roland down to the ground and covering him as best she could with her body. Meanwhile, Hook had slid off the horse with Emma, who was now wide awake. She glanced around helplessly.
“I don’t have a weapon!” She screamed. Hook reached for the dagger at his waist, pressing it into her hand.
“Get into the trees!” He shouted back. “We need cover!”
A horrible screech rang out as Mulan took one down with her blade. Unfortunately, none of them were fast enough to stop the remaining monkeys from snatching up two of the Merry Men and spiriting them away. One other had been bitten, and he was nursing a wound to his arm. Once the attack stopped, Emma pulled Robin away from the others.
“Your man – the one who was bitten. We need to do something about him and quickly.”
“I know,” he grimaced. “We’ve lost three others already.” He turned to give a signal to the remaining men. “We’ll just have to clear out quickly. Hopefully, once he turns, he’ll fly off and join the others instead of finding and attacking us.”
“They’re men?” Hook asked, coming up behind them.
“Yeah,” Emma replied, sliding the dagger into her belt loop. “Once you’re bitten, you change over.”
“Can they be changed back?”
“Only by Zelena,” Emma said, turning to look at the downed monkey near Mulan. It began to shake, changing into the form of a man. “Or you can kill it.”
They walked over to take a look.
“Is he one of yours?” Hook asked Robin.
“No. Thank God.” Robin let out a small sigh. “But they took Geoffrey and Lionel.” He looked around at his remaining men and Mulan. “Let’s round the horses up – we need to get moving.”
Regina walked over to him, holding Roland by the hand. “This Merry Man was very brave,” she said, smiling down at Roland. “He guarded me well.”
“I would have expected no less,” Robin said with a smile. “Well done, Roland.”
Roland beamed up at the both of them before Robin picked him up, depositing him on the horse. “Now, let’s get out of here.”
Hook nudged Emma, who was still staring down at the man on the ground.
“Come along, Swan. We need to clear out before we’ve got another monkey to battle.”
Emma said nothing, continuing to stare down at the dead man on the ground. Something in her face made Hook take a closer look.
“Do you…know him?”
“Yeah.” Emma swiped at her eyes with the back of her hand. “His name was Walsh. And he didn’t deserve this. Any of it.”
“Let’s go.” Her voice made it clear that the subject was closed, so he followed her over and helped her up onto the horse. “Why don’t you take your own,” she said, not even looking down at him. “I can handle this, and we’ve got a few extras now.”
She shook the reins, and urged the horse forward. Hook’s jaw tightened, and he glanced back at the dead man once more before seeking out a horse of his own.