He sits, leaning his arms down on the edge of his window, his chin leaning on his hands as he stares at the huge tree his adoptive mother had used once to restrain him.

Right now there's nowhere else on earth he'd rather be.

He inhales deep. It was a tough night for all of them. But Henry cannot shake the sound of his birthmother Emma's screams as they led Hook's body from her. He can't shake the image of him, yielding his life for everyone as Emma Swan held his plummeting body.

He lost a good friend, and the closest thing he has ever had to a dad, one that envisioned a life with his mother… with him. It hurt him to think that Emma was alone… alone in the house HE AND HOOK had picked out during Operation White Swan.

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"So, what do you say, lad?" He winked at him. "Do you want to be a part of this new… quest? I'm told you are keen when it comes to sleuthing and other stuff."

Henry smirked. "Is this a weird, pirate-y way of asking for my blessing for you and my mom to move in together?"

Killian shrugged. "Had to be sure. You DID say I was a dirty pirate, after all."

"I was cursed."

"A fellow can't be too careful." While Henry seemed to ponder deeply with a disturbingly furrowed brow, Killian drew a deep sigh and placed his hand on Henry's shoulder. "Henry… I love your mother, more than anything. I am willing to die for her, if need be. You must know that. I want to have a fair shot at making her as happy as she deserves to be. But you are a part of her life, and even if she were in complete compliance with us living together, I don't know, lad… wouldn't feel the same if you were… well, if you disapproved of us. It's important to me."

"It's not that." Henry shrugged. "I know you're crazy for her and she's not far off the mark, either, it's cool. It's just…"

"What? Say it, lad, say anything."

Henry gave him a cheeky smirk. "Well… This is lame. Every operation needs a name. You can't just say, 'Oh, we will fight the darkness and all move in together, lad'…" He mimicked Hook's accent, getting a chuckle from the pirate.

"Oh, fair enough. Well…" Killian twisted his lip and raised his eyes in thought. His eyes darted to the windows, where he zeroed on his Emma, frantically weaving dreamcatchers, clad in a heavenly white gown. "White Swan…" he whispered with a smile, before turning to the boy. "How does that sound?"

"Operation White Swan…" Henry nodded. "Approved!"

"Wonderful! Might the widow Lucas have some of them old newspapers hanging by with real estate ads in Storybrooke? Perhaps we could find something there…"

"Killian… Pointers."

"Aye, Henry?"

"We talk about every option, ok? House must be big in case you two decide to… you know… breed." He shrugged. "You'll need the space for kids. Don't tell me you don't want them, because I want a sister."

Killian scratched his ear and grinned as his ears glowed red. "Very well… spacious. What else?"

"It has to have a garden. My mom likes flowers." Henry shrugged. "And I want a dog!"

"Given. Oh!" He raised his finger. "Your mother mentioned a white picked fence!"

"Classic! It needs a garage, too…"

"A garage?" Killian frowned.

"The bug needs a home."

"Oh, aye… and how about.. a basement?" He smirked. "For the rum."

"Sure…" Henry nodded. "And, it must have a flawless view of the sea." Killian turned a sharp and surprised stare at Henry. The boy grinned at him. "For you. Maybe with a spyglass so you can look at the moon. You have to be able to watch the sea. It needs an ocean view for you, Captain."

Killian gulped back the knot of emotion at Henry's thoughtfulness. He felt like, for the first time, he and the boy could actually be family. "Aye… aye, that would be grand. So… Operation White Swan is a go!"

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Henry sighs deep, trying to control his heaving.

"Henry?" Comes Regina's gentle voice from behind. "I made some lasagna, I know it's… not very orthodox, but… you have to eat."

"Not hungry…" He sniffs.

"Henry, we're all upset." Regina sits next to him, pulling up a chair. "What Hook did was very, very brave. He was… well, all along, he was a good man. Not… the kind I'd pick to befriend, normally, but he had a kind heart, and he loved your mother. He saved us, he died a hero. That's how he wants us to remember him. He did this for all of us, so we could live…"

"Say that to Emma." Henry sniffs again. "I know he did the right thing, but that doesn't make it any easier."

Regina nods and sigs, looking out the window herself. "Yeah, it doesn't." She looked back at the boy. "You came to care for him, didn't you?"

He shrugged. "We did a lot of things together…"

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"How many knots are we making, lad?"

"Wind is high and we are…" Henry looked at the ancient astrolabe in his hand. "… heading north-northwest at a steady speed of 22 knots, Captain!"

"Pull the jib sail twenty-two degrees, southbound, Sailor! Let's use the breeze against her will and go home!" he smiled. "I'll turn her around and keep her steady!"

"Aye aye sir!"

Henry ran to the bow and complied; Killian's chest swelled with pride as Henry skillfully pulled the sail in a perfect single motion, tying it down and heading back to the helm. "Jib ready, sir!"

Killian released a hearty laugh as he ruffled Henry's hair. "Well done, Henry. You'll be a finer sailor than I someday. Now let's just enjoy the ride. Come here, I want to show you something." He led the boy to the bow. "See there?" he pointed ahead. "That's Storybrooke. You have safely led us into harbor and we will be touching land in five minutes. So…" He shrugged. "You get to be the captain."

Henry turned sharply to him, eyes wide and an unmistakably joyous smile splitting his face. "Wh… really?"

Killian smiled and saluted him. "Aye-aye, sir. I await your orders! No finer captain has ever sailed The Lady Rose and I am honored to serve you till we reach port!"

"Well then, sailor, set by the anchor! We'll make a sharp degree turn when we reach harbor."

"Aye, Cap'n!" Killian smiled and headed for the anchor grip, holding his hand on top and keenly observing Henry as he took to the helm, his head held high as the breeze brushed his hair out of his face. Killian observed him and felt his heart swell; Henry was a natural sailor, much like his father. He remembered how he had taught Baelfire to navigate the Jolly Roger, how much he had loved the boy… and now, it seemed, he shared that same sentiment with Henry.

If he ended up a father figure to the boy, he would certainly not complain one bit.

"Master Jones…"

"Aye, sir?"

"Deploy the anchor in three… two… one! NOW!"

Killian laughed, delighted at Henry's perfect calculation. "Deploying anchor, Captain!"

The boat swiveled as the anchor hit the more shallow edge of the harbor and Henry masterfully swiveled the helm, making a perfect turn that sent him straight into a spot in the marina.

"Well done, Henry!" Killian ran to him, excited. "Couldn't have done better myself!"

Henry huffed as he removed his life vest. "So… am I ready to try with something more… substantial? Like maybe… the Jolly Roger?"

Killian smirked. "Perhaps you can, your father was your age when he first took the helm. In the meantime… well, come here…" Killian jumped off the Lady Rose and Henry followed him as the two made their way to the Jolly Roger. Henry fidgeted excitedly, the mere notion of navigating the magnificent clipper exciting him to the marrow. Killian disappeared into his cabin and came back with a hat. "You know what this is?"

Henry winced. "Napoleon's hat?"

Killian frowned. "No, m'boy, this was mine. I made Lieutenant by twenty two, and my brother Liam, he made captain at twenty seven, the youngest sea officers ever to hoist a sail in our realm. The youngest… till now." He smirked and placed the hat on Henry's head. "I am honored to concede you the title of Lieutenant of the Jolly Roger."

"NO WAY!" Henry smiled, and spontaneously jumped and hugged Killian. "Thanks Killian… I mean… Oh god…" The boy pulled away and saluted.

"That's Captain Jones, Lieutenant Mills!" Killian tried hard to conceal his happy grin.

"Sorry captain! Aye, captain, thank you captain!"

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"That was quite a gesture." Regina agrees, with a smile. "I knew he was teaching you how to sail, I just had no idea he was so… good to you."

Henry sniffs. "Technically, it means I am the captain of the Jolly Roger now." He chuckled. "But… no." He heaves with a sigh. "I liked him. He was a really good guy that needed a chance to prove that to everyone. Kind of like you, mom."

Regina caresses his hair. "I never gave myself a chance to really get to know him. I wish I had now, but… We both had such a dark history behind us, it makes it a bit hard at times." She shakes her head. "One of the darkest deeds he ever did was because I prompted him to do it. And it was also what saved our lives tonight."

"I know. About his dad, right?"

Regina frowns. "Wait… you… you know about that?"

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"So… it's all in HOW you toss the dice." Killian winked. "They're loaded, but sure enough, you have to drop them a certain way; you want to get threes or sixes, but NEVER fives. Here, watch closely…"

Henry shook his head. "You must have made a fortune with these."

Killian chuckled. "Not really. Loaded dice serve to buy your crew a few rounds at the inn, lad, but little more than that."

"Or to get a nice wench?" Henry stifled a chuckle.

A blushing pirate raised his face to the boy. "You are far too young to be meddling in that… but yes."

Henry leaned both elbows on the table, resting his head on his hands. "Did you do a lot of pillaging and plundering?" He shrugged. "Normally you only read about a Pirate's adventures from a book, so it'll be awesome to hear it straight from the horse's mouth."

Killian blinked away and hid the dice in his pocket. "My past is dreary, m'boy. It's one you do not want to hear of."

"Couldn't have been all bad!"

"No, not all." Killian looked to the floor and smirked. "I have seen amazing places, known people… and cheated death long enough to live to tell the tale."

"Well, TELL the tale already!"

Killian splurged verbally about all the places he'd seen, making a point of avoiding Neverland, a place quite traumatic for the both of them.

Then he began to talk about Henry's dad. The boy listened intently for three hours.

"What about you, Killian? Who taught you to sail?"

Killian nodded a sad grin and sat back. "My master."

"Master?"

"Aye…" His gaze saddened. "He was a stern man, blunt and dry like most seafaring folk, but he had a good heart."

"You were a slave? You didn't have a family?"

Killian raised two sad eyes to Henry, his natural, boyish curiosity getting both the best and the worst of him. There was something about Henry, something that made Killian feel naked and vulnerable and safe and accepted at the same time… much like his mother.

"Aye lad, I did. Once." He nodded. "My mother was a kind, loving soul. A common bar girl, a waitress." He smiled at the bleak memory of her. "Oh, she doted on us boys. My father spent many a month away, sailing. A merchant seaman, he was. But as youngsters, neither Liam nor I ever wanted for none. Then one day, on a full moon, the ogres attacked. I was already a bit of a scoundrel then, so I had snuck out of my room to climb a tree, to see the moon on high over the ocean. The ogres were coming, and I was too frightened to descend. My mother took Liam to safety but I was nowhere to be found. When I finally called for her, she looked up and saw an ogre, just… just twenty yards away." He looked down to conceal the tears. "She got between us. I found the time to climb down and run, but mother, she…" He shook his head. "She was torn from limb to limb."

"Wow." Henry shook his head. "I'm sorry, Killian."

"My father then took us on a trip, both Liam and I. It took me a good six months to find my tongue after that. We sailed, for two or three years. One night, during a storm, I was woken by the darkness below deck. I stood and tried to look for my father and…" He shrugged. "He'd gone."

"Gone?" Henry sneered in shock. "He abandoned you?"

"Worse. He traded us. He traded us for the shipmaster's shanty. As it turns out, my father had embezzled a wealthy Presario during one of his negotiations. He was a fugitive. He heard that the next port had a garrison waiting for him, so he fled into the sea. He sold us into slavery, Liam and I."

"And I thought my mom's life was bad…" Henry sighed. "And then that whole thing with your brother and your girl and…"

Killian smirked. "Tragedy makes the pirate boy. Pirates are angry, lonely souls."

Henry smiled. "Well, you are not alone anymore."

"I owe your mother my very soul for that." Killian smiled back and nodded.

"So… did you ever see him again? Your dad?"

Killian's face darkened.

"Aye. Briefly. It did not end well, I… I was on a test, to see if I had what it took for a mission. I had to kill a specific man, but when I saw who that man was, all I wanted was answers, an explanation… He had a fairly good one, he apologized for the hurt he'd put us through and told me he'd had another son, one he had no intention of ever wronging like he had wronged us. I decided to spare him then, to let him flee with the boy. But when I started thinking about how he could quite likely abandon the boy to flee from me, my blood boiled. I saw red… I…." Henry was surprised, not so much shocked at the story, but at the fact that Killian was unravelling his darkest deed ever, to him. Even more, he was stunned when Killian finally broke down, softly heaving, his eyes shining as he raised his face to the young lad, his voice broken. "I stabbed him. Killed him. My own father… And no amount of gold has ever been able to settle my guilt. I almost forgave him, I… I orphaned a brother whom I never saw again."

After a few minutes of shocked silence, Henry sighed deep. "Hey… I once killed a mouse."

"What?"

"Look, I know it's not the same, by a long shot, but… there was a time, during the curse, where I was feeling alone, angry and well… just out of place. I was sitting at the school playground, feeling especially sore, when a mouse meandered through a bush. I threw a rock at the poor thing, for no reason." He sighed. "Miss Blanchard saw me…"

"Your grandmother?"

"Yeah. She was my school teacher then. She ran and even cried when she held the poor thing in her hand. She made a hole on the ground and buried the mouse… and not long after, she gave me the book, seeing that I was in serious need of what the book had."

"And what's that, m'boy?"

"Hope. Hope that there is something more, something better. I mean, I feel terrible for what I did now, where a mouse died because I couldn't handle a pent up anger, and it's kind of like how you feel now. And that's ok. Because that means you found enough hope to see you made a mistake. So you can move on."

Killian laughed through his teary eyes. "You… mean that, lad?"

"Yeah. I do. My mom did terrible things too. In fact, how much do you want to bet that SHE was the one who put you to the test? Hm? It sounds just like one of her deeds." Henry grinned.

"You are smart, Henry Mills." Killian laughed softly. "Aye, it was her."

"But here she is now. And now is all that matters."

"Indeed, Henry. She's tough as nails, but she has proven to be a good woman, that evil old queen…" Killian sighed deep, gulping a knot in his throat. "Thanks, lad."

"Don't mention it. I'm sure your dad has forgiven you too."

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Regina shakes her head. "I'm not proud of that, Henry. I'm not proud of a lot of things."

"That's fine, you've changed. Even Killian knew that."

"Yeah… and he changed too. In the end, he chose the path of the man he truly wanted to be and saved us all. He chose forgiveness, peace… love." She rubs his back with a sigh. "Ugh. Poor Emma. She did what she'd said she do for me, returned my happy ending. Robin is here, alive and well, but… she lost her love. It's… wrong, somehow."

Henry finally sits straight. "She won't get over him easily. She was… terrified of letting him in because…"

"She was afraid to lose him."

"Yeah. Like all the others."

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Emma came home that day with a sheepish flush on her cheeks and lips sore from kissing.

She plopped herself down on her bed after removing her brown leather jacket, staring blankly at the ceiling.

"Just ask him out already!"

She turned sharply and found Henry also lying in bed, iPod connected to his ears. "What? How long have you…?"

"Mom, come on!" He sat up on the bed and removed his earplugs. "You guys are soooo meant to be, at this point you're just stalling."

"I'm not… stalling." Emma hesitated. "I… I just need time to, you know… adjust."

"Baloney. You are terrified."

"Henry!"

"It's true and you know it!"

"It's a big step, making it official, I mean…" She stood up and tucked her hands into her hair as she paced around. "You! I'm not too sure you're fine with all this! I mean, there's Regina with Robin and then there's… "

"You and Hook?"

"There is no me and Hook!"

"Yeah, sure, keep saying that to yourself, although his scruff is still all over your lip, mom."

Emma took a self-conscious hand to her lip and blushed.

"Look…" Henry walked over to her. "I know you feel safe behind those walls mom. It took for me to almost die for you to admit you loved me."

"Please don't remind me of that."

"It's still the truth, even if we never talk about it! Now, I don't really know too much about Hook, except that… well, he is Captain Hook and a pirate. But I can also see he'll go to hell itself for you if he has to, so… why not give the guy a fighting chance? You know you like him."

Emma lowered her gaze. "That is exactly the problem." She sighed and sat down again. "We just talked about that. I've… lost every guy I ever lo… well, ever been with." She chuckled. "Even if Walsh turned out to be a flying monkey, he's still dead. Henry, I had legitimate feelings for him… for your dad, for Graham. And I saw them all die." She looked up at her son. "I'm not sure I could take it if something happened to Killian."

She gulped and Henry closed the gap, sitting next to his mom.

"Well, if something DOES happen to Killian and you never made your move… is that gonna make it any better?" He shrugged. "Then, you'll only spend the rest of your life saying, 'maybe this guy could have been the one, the love of my life… and I was a coward and never took the plunge' I may be twelve, but I'm sure that that's not gonna make it any easier, if you already have feelings for him."

Emma frowned at her boy and smirked. "Are you really twelve? You sound like… twenty five."

He simply grinned. "Mom, being happy is taking chances. You can sit here and keep him safe by rejecting him, but it won't make either one of you happier. Why don't you just… you know, ask him over for dinner, or take him to the cinema?"

Emma giggled. "His centuries long macho pride will feel he has to be the one doing the asking."

"Since when does Emma Swan go by the book?"

Emma sighed deep and studied her son's face before she shrugged. "Ok, fine. I'll… find him tomorrow…"

"First thing!"

"What?"

"And I'm coming with you!"

"Henry!"

"For two reasons: One, I promised Granny I'd help her with the dishes for twenty minutes tomorrow; she gave me a free meal yesterday and it was a fair trade. And two, because I have to make sure you don't chicken out. Now, if I know Hook, like any sea captain he'll be up, bathed, guylined and coiffed by eight, probably waiting for breakfast at the diner. So we move out at eight – oh- one. Understood?"

Emma furrowed her brow. "Yes sir!"

"Good. Now that that's clear, we can both get some sleep.

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"So YOU gave her that little push!" Regina smiled. "Nicely done, matchmaker!"

Henry looks at her. "But she lost him. She lost again. She is devastated. Maybe I shouldn't have, maybe she was right to…"

"Henry, no." Regina cuts in. "Don't say that, don't lose your hope like this. Trust me. What little time you may get to love someone so intensely, it's worth a lifetime. I loved Daniel. I may have been very young and naïve, but I do NOT regret having loved him, no matter how much it hurt to lose him. I'm sure Emma feels the same about the Captain."

Henry turns to her and a small smile shines through the tears. "He was a good guy. I'm going to miss him. I really am." He begins to sob and Regina pulls him into her embrace.

"Me too Henry. Stupid pirate, I'm going to miss him too."

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Morning is at the point where it transitions into noon, and that's when Henry hears Regina's mobile ring. He hears her muffled voice and he is suddenly aware of his mother's pacing around the house, hurriedly getting dressed to go somewhere. He also hears Robin's voice, cooing his new daughter and asking Roland to look after her while they're all gone, because… they might take some time.

"What…"

The door opens. "Henry? Emma called us all for a meeting at your grandparents. Get dressed."

Henry stands straight. He is being invited, like a regular hero.

He is, after all, the Captain of the Jolly Roger.

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Like with all previous fights… they'd won.

Her mother and her pirate love now slept on the sofa by the fire, her head on his shoulder and his arm over her shoulders, she is gripping the hook and even in sleep, it appears as if Emma Swan is ready to permanently have a grip on that thing forever. He has his head cocked back, his lips parted, and is snoring softly.

He looks gaunt, tired… thinner. But alive and every bit the man Henry remembers. He is only too happy to drop his own rank back to Lieutenant, because the Captain has returned safely home. It was hard, it was scary… but his mother was the savior, and was more than ready to save her Killian, her steel willed power capable of overcoming any and every obstacle. And, a kiss. A kiss of love that broke all records. Killian was different in the underworld. Oblivious to her face, but also remembering it, as if his very eyes cheated on his memories. But love had overcome that. He finally saw past the curse of Hades and recognized his savior, his Emma, his love. They now shared a heart, a heart that beat as one.

Henry tiptoes to the garden and takes a deep, deep breath. He feels the universe regain its balance. His life is back in order, he has his grandparents, his baby uncle, his mom and her boyfriend, and now… his other mom and her true love… practically his father, are also back.

He sits on the porch overlooking the street and simply relishes in the peace. It's a bright, sunny afternoon and how can ANYONE have a bad time on a day like this?

"Can I join you, lad?"

Ugh… he had missed that voice.

"Sure."

Hook sits himself down next to Henry and simply remains quiet for a few instances.

"You really should be sleeping." Henry finally breaks the silence. "It's been a tough couple of months."

"Henry, Regina told me…" He looks at him. "She told me you grieved for me when I succumbed. And after all I said and did, I… I can't begin to tell you how appreciative I am of…"

He was cut short by Henry's sudden hug. Inhaling a short breath, he soon returned the embrace. "It's all right lad…"

"Don't you ever, ever die again! EVER!"

"Pardon?"

Henry pulled away, and Killian was moved to once again find tears in the boy's eyes. "Twice,

TWICE I saw you die. My mom? THREE TIMES! How many more times will you do that? Enough

with the whole dying thing, ok?"

Killian nods and grins. "Fair enough."

Henry shrugs. "Where's mom?"

Killian tilts his head in the direction of the house. "Still asleep. I managed to loosen her grip on my

hook, covered her up and came out here to talk to you."

Henry raises his eyebrows. "What is it now, Killian?"

"Well," the captain scratches behind his ear. "…that… ring your mother wears around her neck…"

"The one you gave her to keep her safe?" henry smirked. "I think YOU had better put that back on."

"Ah… well that takes care of THAT query."

"Query? There was a query?"

"Aye. I was wondering whether or not you think she'd accept that… same ring as a betrothal, or… should I perhaps splurge a few doubloons on a more modern, feminine one?"

Henry studied the pirate's face. "You want to marry my mom?"

"Oh yes…" Killian smiled fully. "More than anything on this and every realm."

Henry laughs. "In that case, you splurge. She won't be letting you out of your sight if you don't wear that "survival" ring from now till the end of days."

"duly noted!" Killian nods. "And just what kind of ring do you suppose your mother might want? She's a straight forward, fighting hero and a princess, I'm between a wall and a bad place there…"

Henry twists his mouth. "Well… I could find out."

"You'd do that for me, m'boy?"

"Yes sir. We can call it… Operation White Swan two."

Killian lets out a hearty laugh. "Perfect name."

"But… I might need to negotiate a couple of things…"

Killian Jones furrows his brow. "That's The Crocodile's blood in you talking. What's your deal?"

"You are my captain on the Jolly Roger…. BUT, I get to continue being YOUR captain, and you my lieutenant, on the Lady Rose."

Killian agrees with a happy nod. "We have a deal." There's a brief silence before Killian talks once more. "Are you… quite sure you are fine with me asking your mother to be my wife? Because you know… that might… well it would… sort of make me your… stepfather."

Henry shook his head. "No. It would make you my dad. Bring it on!"

No light shone brighter in Storybrooke that day than the smile on the tired, ashen face of a freshly rescued Killian Jones.