- Author’s Note: This is written with great respect, love and gratitude for the talents of Robert Carlyle, Emilie de Ravin, and everyone involved in of Once Upon A Time. I do not own these characters.
All fictions here are written by me, Nicole Muench Seidel
Rumpelstiltskin walks sluggishly down the sidewalk, leaning more on his cane than he typically would. Returning from New York has his mind reeling with too many emotions for his brain to register, thinking about his beloved son, Baelfire. Now, back in Storybrooke, a thick layer of despair has been added to those countless emotions. The despair lays heavy over everything, like a toxic sludge. He knows he should rest in order to clear his head to plan his next move, but the pursuit of rest seems pointless.
The absence of cold feet against his legs and a beauty stealing his blankets had made sleep a challenge in the recent past, yet he would often drift off with the hope that it would not always be so. Belle and he had become closer, and he had hoped that soon he could muster the courage to convince her to live with him once again. Now, with that hope dashed, presumably forever, there was no flicker of light to guide him into a peaceful slumber. It had all gone so wrong so fast, that he can now barely comprehend it.
“Killian Jones, that filthy cur, will pay dearly for what he did to Belle.”, Rumpelstiltskin thinks to himself. He knows Belle would not want him to kill Killian, but he can manage to conjure a revenge that will be worse than death. Ruefully, he thinks to himself, that had he only killed that pirate centuries ago, when Killian was on his knees in the alley, Belle would not be suffering now. Damn, Milah for stopping him! Seeing his wife standing there alive and adorned in opulent attire had caught him off guard. He should have killed her lover in front of her. That would have been a more fitting punishment for what she had done to their family.
He knows that Belle, most assuredly, would not have approved of killing that pirate, but Rumpelstiltskin also knows she would have still loved him. If only he had met Belle centuries ago, life would have been so different. Now, Belle is most certainly lost forever. Of course, he will continue to try to find a way to bring Belle back, but most of his being understands the futility of this…most of him, that is, except for that foolish spinner. That frail part of him was the first part to fall in love with Belle and be mesmerized by her light. Rumpelstiltskin thinks to himself, if his darling Belle was to be believed, which she always was, she would have loved him, the cowardly spinner, all those centuries ago. Her loving smiles would have probably convinced him that he could have done anything without aid of magic. Yes, life would have been so different with her loving guidance by his side from the start. Moments before Killian’s gunshot propelled Belle across the border into the abyss, the last smile with which she had gifted Rumpelstiltskin was the most brilliant that he had ever seen. Even her eyes smiled. The iolite in her blue eyes had sparkled with a boundless happiness and hope for the future. In that moment, she could have convinced him that he could fly, no magic required. It is that smile that now both soothes him and tortures him. That damn spinner won’t let go of that smile. It fuels his hope.
The same hope that has led him to soul crushing disappointment many times before. The hope that good would win out and that he could appeal to the better nature of people and receive compassion. It was that hope which led him to foolishly grovel for the safe return of his wife from the pirates. It was that hope that was too blind to see that Milha and her pirate companion were duping him, playing on all his insecurities. It is that hope that has repeatedly led him to be dangling by his finger tips from a figurative cliff, as something prepares to pound his fingers with a large rock, causing him to fall into the void.
Lost in his thoughts of endless misery, Rumpelstiltskin’s mind does not process the rounded object he sees in front of his door. From a distance what has the strange appearance of a pile of laundry inexplicably deposited on his doorstep comes into clearer focus, and his heart quickens. He moves quickly up the porch steps, barely breathing out, “Belle”. Sitting asleep with her knees to her chest, wrapped in a winter coat with traces of her hospital gown showing, Belle, who appears bit blue from the cold, is oblivious to his presence. “How long has she been here?” he wonders. An ache deep inside him wants to scoop her up into a warm embrace, but he dares not. Reminding himself that she is not his Belle any more, indeed she remembers nothing, he is cautious not to frighten her.
Rumpelstiltskin stoops down, lightly touching her cold skin and calling her by the name she does not know, “Belle, waken up.” Her eyes begin to open and become wide at the sight of his face, and she lurches back hitting her head on the door. She flinches from the pain, and tries to stagger to her feet, keeping as much distance as possible between herself and him. “Belle, why are you here?” he asks, realizing that she is clearly still frightened of him. As she struggles to find her words, he notices her red eyes and tear streaked cheeks, as she looks at him with a mixture of fear, anger and something he can’t decipher. She shivers out the words, “I had to see you.” “Alright then, let’s go inside.”, he offers. Folding her arms in front of her, she begins to shake her head. Using a gentle reasoned tone, he coaxes “Belle, I know you don’t trust me, but it’s cold out here, and you must warm up. I will not harm you. I promise, sweetheart, just please come inside.” Her face flashes anger at the term of endearment, but the cold gets the best of her, so she nods and warily moves to the side to let him unlock the door.
Once Belle is inside, Rumpelstiltskin moves passed her to the couch, removing the amethyst purple and sapphire blue patch work throw that Belle had recently bought for him. The memories of snuggling under the throw with Belle are fresh in his mind, yet Belle has no recognition of this item. He moves instinctively to wrap it around her shoulders, but she jerks away. Taking his cue from her, he hands her the throw from a distance, saying “This should help warm you.” Grabbing it abruptly, she tersely says, “Thank you.” as she wraps herself in the throw. She skittishly looks anywhere but his eyes, as her long dark hair obscures the view of her face. “I’ll put on a kettle for tea.”, Rumpelstiltskin offers. “No, I don’t want to stay here that long.”, she says coldly. Her words cut through him, but he presses forward. “Belle, seeing how you clearly don’t want to be around me, I’m assuming you have something important to discuss. Important things often take time. So, I’ll put a kettle on, and if you are finished talking to me before the tea is ready. I’ll just have tea alone.” She stares at him without response, then looks over to a curio cabinet, and he sets about putting a kettle on.
Curiosity getting the best of him, he asks from the kitchen, “How did you find my house?” Stiffly, she says, “That Ruby woman said that you live in a pink house, and I figured there couldn’t be many of those.” A faint smirk comes to his face, as he returns to the sitting room. “And you bolted out of the hospital? Why?” Her eyes are down cast, yet filling with rage, as he notices a paper fisted in her hand. “I waited for the shift change and got out of there.”, then looking at him with anger and fear, she sobs out, “Did you do this to me?…with magic or something else?” From the turned out portions of the paper in her fist, she appears to be holding hospital lab results. A sense of terror hits him as he wonders what disease she might have, whether it’s treatable in this realm, if not, whether she’d allow him to cure her magically, and what the price would be for using magic? He chokes out the words, “Belle, what is it?” She practically throws the paper at him, and she begins to cry harder.
With trembling hands, he quickly smoothes out the crumpled paper and tries to make sense of the first thing to catch his sight, “hCG 125 mIU/ml”. He furrows his brow in confusion, trying to understand what this number means. His eyes land on the words that explain the meaning, just as she blurts out, “I’m pregnant!” Oblivious to her pained tone, a rush of joy momentarily floods his being. He thinks, “Belle and I are going to have a baby!…Just like we always hoped!” An unbridled smile spreads across Rumpelstiltskin’s face as he looks at the lab results in awe, remembering the nights during the holidays when Belle would sleep over. She was so beautiful, loving and warm, like his own personal nirvana. When they consummated their relationship, he promised himself that he would never let her go and soon she’d be back in his home, their home, forever. He is jolted out of his daydream, as Belle yells, “Why are you smiling?!? Is it yours?!? Did you do this to me?!?”
His heart sinks like a stone to the bottom of the ocean as he realizes, for the second time in his life, he is about to have a child with a woman who wants nothing to do with him or their child. The heartbreak is more than he can bear. She asks in an accusatory tone, “Was it magic from the other night? Is that how you did this to me?” He mutters in a voice of resounding defeat, “No. We made love. We love each other.” She scoffs angrily, “Oh God! This is awful!” Rumpelstiltskin feels his soul being crushed by the thought that the border curse appears to have turned his sweet, loving Belle into a woman with the same disdain for him as Milha. Bitterly he thinks, “Of course, this would be my fate…why would I expect anything different?”
He resolves to love their child enough for both him and his sweet Belle. He knows that Belle would have been so happy. Even if the timing was a bit premature, she would have loved this child with all her heart. He will do it for his Belle, and he will do it alone, if that is what this new Belle wishes. “Perhaps Baelfire will have some interest in getting to know his little sister or brother.”, he thinks hopefully. Belle paces the room with fists clenched and her face contorted, seeming to be gearing up to lash out at him. He thinks to himself, “Let her do her worst. Let her be as cold and cruel as Milha. I will always protect her. I will not harm a hair on her head, ever. This is all my fault, not hers.” Angrily she yells with her eyes burning into him, “What’s wrong with you?!?! Don’t you see how terrible this is?!?!” Softly he mutters, “No, I don’t.” Abandoning her fear of him, she roars up to him, “Are you daft?”…she bangs her fist against her head, “There’s nothing here! I don’t remember anything! I’m nothing! I’m a blank!” Tears flood fiercely from her eyes, “I don’t even remember us conceiving this…this…”, her voice cracks erupting with vulnerability, “this…baby! What kind of mother does that make me that I don’t remember that? What kind of terrible mother will I be? I have nothing to offer a child, but blankness!”
Standing with his jaw gaping, he says, “You’re worried about what kind of mother you’ll be?” Looking at him incredulously, she responds, “Of course, I am! Any mother would!” He scoffs, “Not any mother.” Anger besets her again, yelling, “It’s not fair! Why did this happen to me? Was I some sort of terrible person who deserved to be wiped out of existence as a punishment? I don’t remember anything, my childhood, my parents…I don’t remember ever being around a baby. Will my baby be punished too because I was bad? What do I do now? I don’t know what to do with a baby!”
Rumpelstiltskin declares, “I do.” Belle stops and stares at him. He continues, “It’s been a very long time, but I do know what to do with babies. You just love ‘em…everything else is just technique, and technique can be learned. It will all be alright…I promise you.” With pleading eyes, she asks, “How can you possibly know that?” Taking a soft confident tone, feeling as though all his talks with Belle, all her words of encouragement, have prepared him to be strong in this moment, Rumpelstiltskin says, “Because I just know it will.” She stands motionless, until he tries to put his hands on her shoulders, then she steps back. He takes a cautious step forward, saying, “Belle, I know you’re afraid of me…afraid of this situation, but please let me help you. Darling, listen to me, you never were a bad person. You don’t deserve this. You were always the truest example of good in any realm. Please let me help you.” Belle looks at him with uncertainty, but her expression is now softer. He takes another small step forward and again attempts to touch her. Putting his hands on her shoulders, she shutters nervously, but stands her ground.
For the first time, Belle actually allows herself to see the tenderness in his soulful brown eyes, as Rumpelstiltskin says with a voice full of emotion with his Scottish brogue at its fullest, “Belle, I love our baby, and I love you. I know you don’t remember, but I can teach you what you need to know, if you’ll trust me just a wee bit.” He gently, cautiously starts to wrap his arms around Belle, pulling her into an embrace, but allowing time for her to pull away if she wishes to do so. She carefully acquiesces to his affectionate gesture. She hesitantly rests her head against his chest. Listening to his heartbeat loudly in her ear, she sniffles, “I want to be a good mother.” Stroking her back, he soothingly replies, “You already are.” She looks up at him questioningly, as he smiles down and explains, “The fact that you want to be a good mother already puts you ahead of some I’ve known. And I promise, sweetheart, I’ll help you figure out the rest.” She rests her head back on his chest and relaxes into his embrace, even squeezing him slightly. The teakettle whistles, but they stay locked in their tentative embrace. She doesn’t yet trust him, but she thinks to herself, that it’s nice to feel as though someone is on her side, and perhaps that’s a good start. He gently rests his chin on her head, and breathes her in. He thinks to himself that this is far from the ideal that he had imagined having a family with Belle would be, but she’s letting him in…and they’ll figure out what’s next together. They both sigh, not moving from their spot, as the teakettle continues to sound.
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