Emma tells him it’s stress, but he sees the way her eyes widen whenever it happens – a tremor that begins its course from the tips of her fingers and travels up, up, up, until it’s almost at her elbow.
She tries to hide it, turns her back, shoves her hand in her jacket pocket, runs it through her hair. Emma buries it under habits, and smiles harder, and tells him it’s nothing.
He knows it isn’t.
Somewhere in his chest, he feels a pang of hurt every time she brushes off his concern, a clawing sensation that slowly works its way to his throat if he keeps it on his mind for long enough. After everything they’ve been through, Emma still hides behind her armour.
But in a lot of ways, she doesn’t. It’s the little things. The way she lets him play with her hair when they’ve crashed on the couch after a long day of running around town, too tired to reach the bedroom to fall asleep. The way she reaches for him by the zippers of his jacket, and presses her nose in the hollow between his collarbones. How she asks him to tell her stories when she can’t sleep, takes him to dinners with her parents, lets him teach Henry how to sword fight.
It’s the little things that tell him he’s come a long way from guarded smiles and hurtful words. She needs time, he knows. But despite all her absurd notions of wanting to fight this battle on her own, she needs support.
The next time her hand shakes, Killian remembers how far they’ve come. He reaches for her fingers slowly over the top of their dining table, enough so she can pull back if she needs to. He tightens his hold on her, and the shaking tampers down to a small jump every other second.
“Stress,” he cuts her off. “Aye, you’ve said.”
“It’ll go away eventually.” She scrunches her brows together like she doesn’t quite believe it.
Her hand stops jolting entirely and she waits a few seconds before lacing her fingers with his and squeezing, this time his heart being the one that does a little jump.
“I’m here, Swan,” he reminds her, hoping she’ll unload the burden that weighs down on her shoulders. “You only need ask.”
She sighs, a sound that seems to carry a jumble of emotions. “I know,” she admits. He leans forward and leaves a lingering kiss on her forehead, an encouraging smile following close behind. She returns it, pulling their joint hands until she’s holding them against her chest.
He knows her, knows the look of gratitude and apology she’s giving him. She won’t tell him, maybe not for a while, but it doesn’t change the fact that he will never let go.