A/N: Guess who's supposed to be studying for finals right now and is writing fic instead? I wrote a post about how I wanted Emma giving Killian the ring back and making sure he always kept it on and then this happened. Mainly fluff, tbh, but I figure we can all use that right now. I play firmly within the lines of my genre, you guys.

Their reunion in the Underworld is frantic, Emma all but tackling him in a fierce hug, tears streaming freely as she repeats "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry," in a frenzied mantra. He holds her to him tightly, his left arm against her back to press her against him and his hand making soft, sweeping motions over her shoulders and hair as he whispers reassurances in her ear, soft noises of understanding and love and devotion as a few tears of his own escape, still reeling from the weight of what it means that she's here. That Emma Swan loves him enough, even after what he'd done to her as a Dark One, to journey to the underworld and challenge a god in her fiery Swan way in order to free him.

He is greeted by the rest of the group, and to his continued surprise, he is hugged by all of them but the crocodile (no complaints from Killian there) and the queen, who nonetheless gives him a smile that isn't as sardonic as usual and who greets him with a "Looks like we'll be stuck with you after all, Captain Guyliner." All the while Emma hovers anxiously at his side, her energy nervous and agitated and increasing if he happens to stray more than a couple of steps away from her.

She holds his hand so tightly it's right on the border of pain, but he doesn't say anything, both because he knows he's the one to have reduced her to this state and also because he wants some kind of punishment for the harsh, venomous words he spat at her while under the thrall of the darkness.

The group begins explaining to him their plan for returning him to the land of the living, but he's so dizzy and overwhelmed from being once again in the bright presence of his Swan that he fades in and out of concentration until they mention Emma splitting her heart to share with him.

He turns to her then, his brow crinkled.

"Are you sure, love?"

Her expression is intense, determined. It's clear that there is nothing that could possibly stand in her way right now that she wouldn't simply destroy and move past if it meant getting him out of this place.

"I have never been more sure of anything in my life, Killian. I believe in our future. I want our white picket fence and our house and I also want to marry you, you dumb pirate, so you really should get to asking me already."

Killian is stunned for a moment and a sudden realization hits Emma, who immediately begins fishing for the chain under her shirt that has Liam's ring on it.

"Here," she says, pulling it over her head. When he goes to stop her and insist that she keep it, he gets a fierce look in return that stops him in his tracks as she very brusquely puts it back around his neck. "You said it's what kept you alive, so if I ever catch you taking it off again, I can and will kick your ass. Trying to die on me so many times is very bad form, Killian Jones."

She does an awful impersonation of his accent when she says "bad form" and he laughs in return, pressing a firm kiss to her lips.

"You have my word, darling. I'll not be leaving you behind again."

Liam, who had hung back during the frenetic reunion, chooses this moment to speak up.

"So you're the lass unfortunate enough to get stuck with my little brother."

"Younger brother," Killian corrects reflexively. "Emma Swan, I want you to meet Liam Jones, my brother."

Liam bows to Emma, pressing a kiss to the hand she had extended to shake his. Killian proceeds to make introductions to the rest of the group, to all but Rumplestiltskin, who is pointedly ignored and who looks off into the surroundings, looking distinctly disinterested in the entire affair.

As David and Liam compare stories about Killian, Emma draws him to the side, a contemplative look on her face.

"Love?" he prompts.

"Captains can marry people, right?"

"Aye…?" he trails off, unsure yet where she's going.

"And Liam's a captain, right?" She seems vaguely amused that he isn't quite getting it, but then it clicks into place for him and he draws in a surprised breath.

"Love, are you sure that-"

"Yes, Killian. Our family is here together. Well, our family plus Gold, who I'm still tempted to leave here," she pauses for a moment, her eyes calculating as she looks at the man in question before she shakes herself slightly and returns to her previous train of thought. "With how frantic our lives are, I'm not going to hold my breath for another opportunity to assemble without chaos, and I really want Liam to be here. Besides, now David can't try to scare you off the night before in one final hurrah of dad-ness."

He smiles in amusement, his eyes darting over to Dave, who is laughing with Liam. Henry joins in and watching the three of them interact makes Killian feel warm all over, despite the chill that permeates the underworld.

"So, Killian Jones, will you do me the honor of being my husband?"

"Well now," he says, pretending to contemplate the idea because he just can't resist teasing her, "I'm not sure. A man does like to be courted properly before a lass just-"

She cuts him off with a kiss that has him seeing stars and he whispers his answer against her lips.

"Yes, Swan. It would make me the happiest man in any realms to be your husband."

She smiles at him and then leads him back to the group.

Liam is more than happy to marry them, and Emma's parents both get teary-eyed, though David denies it vehemently later on. Rather than exchanging rings, Emma gives him half of her heart (though it makes him ache when he hears her try to stifle her cry of pain when it's torn apart to share with him), slamming it into his chest with the same excessive power she used when she put his own heart back months ago.

"I now pronounce you man and wife, you may kiss-" but before Liam can even finish his sentence, the two are already engaged in a liplock that makes Henry scrunch up his face in distaste and David clear his throat very pointedly.

Parting from Liam is hard, but his brother hugs him tightly and says lowly into his ear, "I'm proud of you, little brother. You've become the man I always knew you would be."

"Most of that is due to Emma," Killian says, his voice gruff with emotion. Liam laughs, patting him on the back as he pulls away reluctantly.

"Aye, she's good for you, little brother. Though the hapless lady Swan is now stuck with you forever, it seems. Poor thing."

Killian feigns annoyance but he can't help but smile as he looks back at Emma. He had missed this fraternal teasing.

"Take care of him, lass," Liam calls as the group steps into Charon's boat to cross back across the Styx. "Nose for trouble, that one."

"Tell me about it," she calls back, "he's a handful!"

"Oi!" Killian interrupts, prompting laughter from others in the vessel as they sail back to Storybrooke.

As they sail back home.

XXXXX

They have another ceremony in Storybrooke, mostly because Killian and Emma are afraid of what Granny will do if she doesn't get to both attend and cater their wedding. Emma also wants to give her dad the chance to walk her down the aisle and her mom a chance to help plan her daughter's wedding, so despite her reservations about being the center of attention for a full day, Emma sucks it up and just tries to reign in her mother, who apparently takes royal wedding planning very seriously.

An issue arises when the subject of rings is brought up, but Killian makes a suggestion to Emma as they lay in bed together one night, his hand tracing patterns on her arm as she fiddles with the ring that he constantly keeps around his neck at his Swan's behest (and threat of an ass kicking).

"You know I've a few coins from the giant's castle atop the beanstalk?" he says, suddenly. Emma shifts, propping herself up on one elbow and raising an incredulous eyebrow as she looks down at him.

"Really? You actually took the time to steal some gold while we were on a time sensitive mission?"

"Pirate, darling," he says, smugly unapologetic. "Anyway, that wasn't the point of my bringing it up. I know you're not too keen on anything ostentatious for a wedding band, but what if we had the coins melted down and forged into rings? A reminder of when we first got to know each other?" He's scratching behind his ear now, nervous about what she might say about his suggestion.

"I think that's a great idea, Killian," she says, leaning down to kiss him.

They go a jeweler the very next day, explaining what they want. Emma even asks to have some vines and leaves engraved as a design into the metal ("For the beanstalk-if we're going to go symbolic, we're going to do it right," she asserts when he raises a curious eyebrow at her, before she proceeds to avoid all eye contact, a blush creeping up her cheeks at being sentimental. He smirks in response, deciding to tease her about it later). He manages to talk her into a small garnet on her ring, having read in one of the books that Belle foisted on him that the stone was a symbol of devotion in this realm. She rolls her eyes at him when he says that, but he can tell she's pleased by the small smile that works its way onto her lips.

XXXXX

She's always been beautiful to him, but on the day of their Storybrooke wedding, she's absolutely radiant as he turns to watch her walk down the aisle, David proudly at her side. She had managed to restrain her mother a good bit, but Snow's influence is still apparent, although checked with Emma's more reserved sensibilities. Her dress is white and strapless, showing off toned arms and bared shoulders. The skirt bells out slightly, but is nowhere near the fullness of a ballgown. Subtle gold embroidery in a pattern of Middlemist flowers covers the bodice, trailing down onto the skirt, invisible unless you're close. Emma had idly mused aloud about wearing her favorite red leather jacket over the dress, but Snow had huffily vetoed the idea. Her hair is half up, the front pulled back away from her face but the rest falling around her in smooth, bouncy curls. She had vehemently resisted a tiara, but Snow had compromised with jeweled barrettes that her own mother had given to her, and that she had clipped into Emma's hair that morning, teary-eyed. Killian, for his part, is wearing his full regalia but with a red vest instead of black. Snow had tried to talk him into something called a "tuxedo" but both he and Emma had resisted, Emma purring into his ear later that if he had to wear anything she wanted it to be leather, although her real preference was nothing at all (they made a harried exit from the night's wedding planning session after that, barely pausing to say their goodbyes before speeding home, barely making it over the threshold before falling onto one another, stripping each other bare) (neither regrets anything).

They're being married in a park that stands between the edge of the forest and the sea (Snow had been very enthusiastic about symbolism after Emma had shyly explained about their rings), the Jolly Roger still in sight, sitting proudly in the harbor.

Emma presses a hand to his chest later at the reception, searching for the ring.

"Still there, love," he assures her, pressing a sweet kiss to her temple. She hums in acknowledgement.

"Just checking. Would hate to have to kick my husband's ass at our own wedding. Would really put a damper on things."

XXXXX

It becomes a routine for them, Emma making sure that Killian is wearing the ring at all times. They both bear scars from their time as Dark Ones, waking with nightmares now and then, slick with sweat and breathing heavily. Emma seems to get them more frequently than Killian, likely as a result of having had to run him through with Excalibur, something he still wishes she had been spared.

Each time she wakes panting and reaching for him, he gathers her close to her chest, rocking her slightly and making soft, soothing noises until her hand finds the ring and her ear is pressed to his chest, hearing his half of her heart beating, strong and true. She finally relaxes after a while, her hot tears abating and his hand moving to play with her hair and draw soft patterns over her skin. Sometimes he hums a soft song, the vibrations soothing her back into sweeter dreams.

She holds him in turn when he wakes from nightmares as well. Nightmares of having achieved his revenge, dooming all of his loved ones to the underworld he later escaped from. Part and parcel to sharing a heart is knowing when the owner of the other half needs you, so Emma never fails to rouse from sleep for him, too. She holds him close, soft words in his ear about how it was the darkness and how she's here and everyone's safe and she loves him. As proof that everything is fine, they sometimes move together to peek in on Henry when he stays with them, and it helps Killian relax sooner, knowing that the lad is safe.

The chain holding the ring stays almost constantly around his throat. Occasionally he takes it off during their more...enthusiastic couplings, but during their normal love making it stays on, swinging gently between them or resting between her breasts as they press kisses and words of affection into the other's skin.

Checking for the ring becomes an absent minded gesture for Emma, patting at his chest to make sure it's there. Eventually, when Emma and Killian have little ones of their own, they pick up on the habit, much to Killian's amusement. They copy their mother, ensuring every morning that their father is wearing the ring. They don't even know what it represents until later in their lives when they're older and ready to hear the story, but every morning Killian is greeted by a little chorus of, "Wearing your ring, papa?" He always answers in the affirmative and when Emma comes into the kitchen a few minutes later (never a morning person, his Swan) she always pats the ring to confirm its presence before receiving a kiss from her husband, the little chorus once again piping up in protest to express their disgust until their parents finally pull apart, exchanging a loving smile that says more than words ever could.

XXXXX

The habit continues throughout their lives together, as their children grow older and have children of their own, who in turn give Emma and Killian a multitude of great-grandchildren. Emma's golden mane eventually begins to silver, Killian's own dark hair turning white. Her beauty never wanes for him, though, and she greets him with a "Hey there, handsome" at every lunch date.

She still checks that the ring is there, ten, twenty, thirty, fourty, fifty, sixty years on together, always receiving an affirmative (and a kiss).

Emma ends up having to get glasses on a permanent basis, and she pouts at Killian who keeps his perfect vision. He soothes her with a kiss and an assurance that she looks even more beautiful than ever. Her responding kiss makes their grandchildren, who the pair had been babysitting, chime in with a group "Ewwwww" that was reminiscent of Henry's when he was younger and first watching his mom being courted by the pirate who would become a father to him.

XXXXX

Emma dies first, peacefully in her sleep.

Killian decides it's only fair. She'd had to witness his death three times, after all. He manages to keep a stoic expression at her funeral, the entire town turned out in their finest to honor their Savior. He slings one arm around Henry, who is also showing his age, and the other around one of his great-granddaughters, who inherited Emma's brilliant golden hair, as they lower his Swan's casket into the ground, everyone lining up to toss a handful of soil over the top. Killian can't bear to take part in that ceremony, but he does toss a Middlemist flower down, the pink bright against the dark, polished wood that seems far too small to contain Emma Swan and all that she was in life. His chest feels hollow, his half of her heart recognizing that its partner is gone.

It isn't until he's back in their home after he's gently extricated himself from the rest of his-frankly, gigantic-family, his back pressed to the door and his hand around her wedding band, that he lets the tears fall. He pulls out his old flask and sits on the well-worn couch, reverently studying a picture that had been snapped of them on their first wedding anniversary. He strokes his thumb gently across the print, smiling slightly. Henry had been the one to take this. Both of them had been unaware that the lad had a camera trained on them, and so the picture is of the two of them looking into each other's eyes as though they were the only ones in the world. A tear splatters on the glass and Killian sets the picture down to scrub a hand over his face.

Slowly, he pulls the chain from around his throat, studying Liam's ring before adding Emma's band and his own to the chain, and setting it aside.

He's kept his promise of being a survivor for his beautiful, headstrong Swan.

Now he's ready to follow her one last time.

XXXXX

He steps off of Charon's boat again within a month of Emma's passing. He searches through the ethereal mist that twines around him, obscuring anything more than five paces away from him in any direction. That is, until he catches a glimpse of bright gold and red.

She turns, then, and he realizes that she looks the same age she was when they first met, and when he looks down he realizes that he does as well.

Her face blooms into a smile so brilliant in its intensity that he can't help but pause a moment to bask in its warmth. But even a moment seems too long after having been separated from her, and they move as one, colliding and engaging in a breathless kiss that leaves them both dizzy.

"Easy there, tiger," she teases when they finally pull apart, resting their foreheads together. He kisses her again, nipping her bottom lip in rebellion.

"I missed you, my love," he says, his voice rough with emotion. Her smile turns softer and she tilts her head slightly.

"I missed you, too."

He gathers her closer to his chest, nuzzling his cheek against her hair and revelling in being reunited with her.

They turn, still with their arms around each other, when they hear Hades clear his throat to gain their attention. He's standing to the side, Persephone at his right. The queen of the underworld is smiling, charmed by their obvious love for one another.

"Hate to break up the touching reunion, but this one," Hades tilts his chin towards Emma in a distinctly annoyed manner, "has refused to move on until you were here, and it really holds up the process to have souls loitering in the entryway."

Persephone elbows her husband in admonishment before continuing for him.

"Well, Emma, Killian, are you ready to move on to Elysium?"

Killian exchanges a mischievous look with his Swan.

"I don't know, we might try going back again. What do you say, love?"

"It is awfully tempting. Our house is so lovely, and who's going to take care of our Middlemist plants?"

Hades scowls. "Don't even think about it. That was a one-time deal and I still haven't lived it down."

Emma heaves a faux-disappointed sigh.

"I guess if we have to…"

Hades is looking distinctly unamused, but Persephone is giggling.

Emma pulls back from Killian slightly, extending her hand to her pirate, who takes it and laces their fingers together immediately. The pirate and the princess turn together to face the portal that marks the entrance to the land of heroes, where they've both more than earned their place.

As one, they step into the light.