For Christmas, she gets him a camera. The kind that prints a portrait immediately, that he can use instead of using all the stations ink to print endless photos of her. She knows that he loves photographs more than any other innovation of this world. He loves that with the satisfying snap of a button a moment can be captured and saved forever (and he refuses to turn the sound of, despite the loud sighs from Emma every time the resounding click sounds). He likes taking photographs of her, mostly. Of the way her hair shines in the sun, the way her nose crinkles when she laughs. He wants to have these moments forever. He knows how time cheats the memory and every snap, every click is a sharp reminder that he cannot bloody remember his mother’s smile.
Every photo stored in the depths of his phone is a heavy breath of relief, an assurance that Emma and this new life is forever. He’s already snapped at least seven, and they lay out across their sheets in varying degrees of development.
He gives her a necklace. It is old and the silver is worn from traveling so far and long in one of the inner pockets of his leather coat. He hands the package to her shyly, scratching behind his ear and hoping his ears aren’t red. He’d packed it meticulously, wrapping it neatly in paper just as Henry had shown him.
(The boy also had offered to lend him some money of their realm so he could purchase her something more, but he refused in part for pride and in part because the shopowners didn’t care to have him in their stores as it was. Shopping for her would be a useless endeavor.)
She takes it carefully, smiling at him soft and warm.
"You didn’t have to get me anything, Killian."
"Nor did you."
His fingers absolutely itch to reach for his camera, set carefully on the table on his side of the bed, but he settle for snapping pictures in his mind as he did so long ago.
She presses her lips together but it doesn’t hide how her smile grows. She pulls the sheets tighter around her before holding the gift at eye level, staring focused on it and raising an eyebrow.
He watches, confused.
"The bloody hell are you doing, Swan?" He finally asks when she gives it a little shake beside her ear. He’s impatient for her to see it, and the twinkle in her eyes tells him she knows.
"I’m trying to guess what it is."
He narrows his eyes at her and she moves the gift to hide her surely grinning lips.
The pictures around them have all formed now, all flashes of blonde and white sheets and hands covering faces and the rarest of laughing smiles.
She is smirking shamelessly at him now.
And he adores it.
"Buggering minx." He mutters the words but he’s smiling too, now, leaning forward to capture her lips in his.
(He’d spent months of his youth working odd jobs with Liam, saving pennies, to purchase the necklace in the market for the girl across the street with the golden hair. He had been quite certain he loved her, and the beautiful delicate silver of the necklace and a handful of the prettiest wildflowers the forest had to offer seemed the only way to her heart. The night he brought it home was his mother’s last, and he shoved the necklace and the pretty girl far from his mind.)
(He was certain such an innocent brand of love was lost to him. Until he met her. He thinks of speaking to his mother all that night, telling her stories and whispering about the sea. And for a moment, just a moment, he thinks he might recall her smile.)