Chapter 12

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, nor do I own the songs mentioned in this story. The name McKenna means born of fire. The name Gertrude means spear of strength. It has been my goal to keep this story at a T rating, and I believe that I have done so with this chapter. However since I don’t know the exact guidelines for a T rating, I will do as some other authors and call this a ‘hard T’ for some violence and also amorous activities. This is the longest chapter of the story.

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Epilogue

“Swan. Emma Swan.”, the words hit Randall with the force of lightning…only he was not Randall; not anymore, not really.

Fighting the urge to say, “Rrrrrrumplestiltskin, at your service.”, he struggles to keep the appearance of Randall Gold, saying, “Emma, what a lovely name.”

Finding the man odd, Emma replies simply, “Thanks.”

Rumplestiltskin is bombarded with memories at a nauseating pace, as he holds tight to his Mr. Gold persona. Izzy-B spots a wobbly quality to his stance. She knows he is trying to hide it. He may be able to fool others, but she knows something is amiss.

Granny pulls a roll of money from the desk drawer, saying, “It’s all here.”

Rumplestiltskin’s head feels like it is cracking open and he reaches for the roll of bills, “Yes, yes, of course it is dear. Thank you.”, then he turns to Emma and says, solicitously, “You enjoy your stay, Emma.”

He quickly exits without even looking at Izzy-B. She quickly says farewell to everyone and darts outside to find Randall holding the porch railing looking as though he might vomit. Rumpelstiltskin experiences something reminiscent of when he took on the seer’s powers, only worse. His whole being is on overload.

Izzy-B wraps a protective arm around him and asks, “Randall, what’s going on? Do you need me to take you to the hospital?”

He looks at her with a far off gaze, seeming not to see her, talking to himself aloud, “Izzy-B…Belle…Gabrielle… McKenna…Izzy-B…Belle…Gabrielle…”

Alarmed to have him losing touch with reality, Izzy-B says, “Okay, Randall, you’re scaring me. Come on, handsome, look at me. I think I need to take you to the hospital. Something’s wrong.”

After a moment, somewhat registering the worry etched on Izzy-B’s face, he says, “No, hospital. I’m just feeling a little light headed. Probably, low blood sugar. I’ll be fine.”

Her hand wipes the sweat from his brow where his hair is matting from the moisture. Izzy-B replies, “You don’t look fine. You look like Hell.”

His head feels like it will explode remembering so many people; some he has loved, some he has killed and some who abused him. Guilt, anger, sorrow and loss penetrate his pores. It is all too much to process. He knows that he designed the curse to be a seamless transition for those who awaken once Emma breaks the curse, but for him, it is like being stabbed with the jagged edge of memories. He wonders perhaps, if this is his price for creating the curse?

He says, “I’ll be fine once I get home and relax.”

Unconvinced, Izzy-B replies, “Where’s your car? You’re not driving in this condition.”

Clenching his teeth to avoid snapping at her, he says, “No, I’m not. The car is at the house, and I can walk a few blocks.

Pulling his arm across her shoulder to steady him, she scolds, “Like Hell, you can! Get in my car now. I’m driving you.”

He doesn’t have the strength to fight her, as his mind is folding and unfolding time-lines and the women that she has been. He suddenly remembers Gold’s dream from a few weeks previous. He, as Rumplestiltskin, had never had that dream in their world, but being aware of the other lives, the realization hits him. He thinks, “She…they were Lucienne.” He recalls himself as Reimund and feels the untainted love of a child for his first and only love.

Once at his pink Victorian house, Izzy-B insists on helping Randall up the front porch steps. As they approach the front door, he can see her intent to come in and play nursemaid for the rest of the evening. Though his heart thirsts for time alone with her, too much is happening…too much to process and too much to plan.

Taking a stern tone, Rumplestiltskin says, “Belle, you’re not coming in.”

Looking at him as though he has lost his mind, Izzy-B says, “You’ve got to be kidding! You’re in no condition…”

He cuts her off saying, “The other night, I respected your wishes enough to let you jump in frigid water, even though I hated the idea. I’m asking you to show me the same respect. This is something that I must go through on my own.”

His heart nearly shatters at the expression of panic on Izzy-B’s face. She strokes his cheek and looks at him with tear filled eyes, and with her voice cracking she says, “Please be okay.”, placing a trembling kiss upon his lips.

She turns to leave, and he enters the house. He has waited nearly three decades to kiss his Belle again. He never assumed that their first kiss in this new land would be prompted by him telling her to leave, but he did not have the energy to carry on the pretense anymore. Feeling as though an icepick is penetrating his skull and an ocean of memories is flooding through the hole, he collapses on the couch. Sobbing from the pain, he thinks of this beloved son, Baelfire. He whimpers, “Bae, I’m so, so sorry. Kenna, I’m sorry I messed it all up. I’ll find him, and I’ll make it all right.”

Approximately three-hundred years ago, with the sun directly above her, on a mid-summer day in the Front-lands, McKenna, a ghastly thin twelve year old girl tends the family garden. Her naturally fair skin does not pain her, as much as it used to from the excessive exposure to the sun, rather itching constantly; particularly as sweat and grime intermingle. The sun has bleached her naturally dark chestnut hair to shades of fiery red. Her crystalline blue eyes strain to see through the pooling sweat collecting on her lashes. With her knees aching from the extended time kneeling, she sits in the dirt for a moment surveying the basket laden with various vegetables. Her stomach rumbles, although she barely acknowledges her hunger any more. Still, her sense of self-preservation tells her she must find a way to sustain herself. Checking to be sure that no one is looking, she pulls a small, misshapen turnip from the ground. She would like to be able to rinse the dirt off, but she has already used the water for the garden and getting more would risk drawing attention to her theft. Hence she rubs off as much dirt as she can and quickly eats the turnip, including its green stem. The foul taste makes her face contort, yet her stomach is appreciative for any extra food. She distracts herself from the harsh flavor, by focusing her attention on the dream that she has had for the previous three nights. She wonders about the children in the dream; Lucienne and Reimund. Lucienne looked like what McKenna believes she would have looked like, if she had a loving family; healthy, variant and ready to take on the world.

Sometime later, after taking the vegetables into her family’s cottage and collecting several jugs of water from the lake, McKenna cleans and prepares the vegetables for cooking later in the day. The cottage is quiet, since her parents have gone on an outing to a neighboring village. She is uncertain how long their grifting will keep them away, but she knows she must have all her chores done by the time they return home. After that, they will likely have another list of things for her to do. Her sister, ‘the beautiful one‘ as their parents call her, is still sleeping. God forbid she would ever miss her ‘beauty sleep’ as she is the goose that lays the golden eggs, acquiring all sorts of gifts from the young men who are entranced by her. McKenna almost feels sorry for the poor addle-brained souls, who fall for her conniving ways, yet she figures they get what is coming to them for only seeing the surface beauty and false sweetness.

Sometimes if her sister’s target had a stitch of moral fortitude, to conceal her true nature, he would be invited to the cottage for dinner with ‘the family’. McKenna would prepare the meal including dessert, but then be sent to eat in the shed, as to not upset the suitor’s appetite by her presence. However on occasion, her sister’s trolloping ways are of small benefit to McKenna. If the pigeon du jour was someone who knew of McKenna’s existence within the family, her parents and sister would have no choice, but to include McKenna in the family meal, allowing her to eat more than usual to keep up the appearance of a loving family. Those nights, McKenna always makes a point of eating as much as she can, in order to sustain herself during the times when her meals were scarce. Unfortunately, tonight’s suitor knows nothing of McKenna, hence she will be banished to the shed.

For a moment, McKenna thinks of her Aunt Gertrude. She realizes that the days blend into each other to the point that she cannot remember if Gertrude died two years ago or three. She supposes it does not matter. The point is Gertrude is gone. The only person who ever cared about her is gone. Aunt Gertrude never approved of McKenna’s treatment by her parents and sister; however, she could not do much to get McKenna free from her Hellish life. All she had to offer were kind words, but that was still a treasure when McKenna had nothing. McKenna waves her hand and fireflies appear. Gertrude had always told McKenna to care for and hone her ‘gift’ for she is the rarest of humans, the ones with natural magic. Most humans, who have magic, acquire it, Gertrude explained, but the gift of magic was in McKenna. McKenna uses her mind to choreograph a dance for the fireflies. It is such an odd and wondrous sight to see fireflies glowing in the daylight hours. It is a rarity that McKenna actually practices her magic, like Gertrude encouraged her to do.

Just then, before McKenna can react, a broom swats down the fireflies, killing them. Her seventeen year old sister with a thick mane of dark hair and blue eyes the shade of the ocean during a storm towers over McKenna and yells, “What are you doing, freak?”

With tears in her eyes, McKenna protests, “Milah! They weren’t hurting anyone! You didn’t have to kill them!”

Milah taunts with her hands on her hips, “They’re filthy little bugs, just like you!” Milah’s statuesque form is such that she can tower over many men in the village. Her height combined with the manner in which she carries herself gives her an almost regal bearing and the uncanny ability to make McKenna feel incredibly small.

Milah smirks, picks up a full water jug, drops in on the floor and laughs, “You better clean that up before papa and mama get home or you won’t be eating tonight.”

Anger builds in McKenna as she defiantly shouts, “No! You made the mess you clean it up!”

The last word is barely out of McKenna’s mouth by the time the back of Milah’s hand makes contact with her cheek, propelling McKenna to the wet floor. With teeth bared, Milah growls, “You best behave little girl, or I’ll get the clerics after you. You know what they do to little witch freaks like you, right? Once they have you, they cleanse you using scourges and flaying, while you scream for your mortal soul.” With that, Milah turns on her heels and walks out the door.

As McKenna cleans up the mess, her cheek throbbing where it is bruised, she begins to sob. She does not cry from the pain, because she is used to that, rather she sobs from the knowledge that her so called gift of magic is more like a curse. It marks her as one to be tormented, ridiculed and possibly hunted down and killed like an animal. With the anger that regularly surges within her, she fears one day she will use it to harm one of her tormentors, and she will assuredly be executed for it.

As she makes another trek to the lake for water, it is the thought of her inescapable doom and her yearning to break free, even for a little while, that propels her legs to run. She runs as fast as her legs will take her towards the lake. Nearing the lake, she drops the water jugs and dives in fully clothed, oblivious to the person watching her.

The cool water envelopes her, drowning out the taunts, freeing her as she swims viewing another world alive with activity. From outside her watery sanctuary, she hears a voice. Coming up for air, her ears detect a male force with a peculiar quality, saying, “Little girl, are you alright?”

Infuriated by the diminutive term, she yells, “I’m not a little girl!”, stopping dead with the last word at the sight of the boy with the dark eyes and shaggy brown hair.

Defensively, he says, “No need to get upset. I just wanted to check on you. A wee lass like yourself could get hurt.”

Trudging out of the water, McKenna says in a somewhat haughty tone, “I’m not a little girl. I’ll be thirteen years old soon.”

He smirks with dimples gracing his face, “You sure about that? You look awfully small to me.”

She walks up to him, with her wet clothes dripping on his weathered boots. Though he is at least a head taller than her, she chides, “You’re not that big yourself, you know.”

Indeed at eighteen years old, he is a bit smaller than his peers, yet he cannot help being amused by the wee girl ready to challenge him.

Holding up his hands in mock surrender, he says, “Hey, I think we got off on the wrong foot here.”, and he offers his hand as he says, “I’m Rumplestiltskin, and you are?”

She smiles, feeling a strange flutter in her stomach, “I’m McKenna.” and shakes his hand. Then she adds, “I like your name.”

With that, Rumplestiltskin and McKenna’s friendship begins. McKenna begins to rush through her chores in record time and sneak away to go exploring the Front-lands with Rumplestiltskin. At times, she is punished for her absences, when her beautiful sister wants something but McKenna is not around, yet McKenna gladly accepts the punishments. Rumplestiltskin is her friend, and that is more important than anything. When village boys harass her, he puts a stop to it, which earns him a black eye and a fat lip from the boys, and both gratitude and scolding from McKenna for getting himself hurt on her account. Having a true friend is a miraculous thing for McKenna, though it is also painful. She is falling in love with Rumplestiltskin, no matter how much she tries not to have such feelings. She knows that she is just a child to him, and by the time, she is old enough to be seen as a woman, he will no doubt be married to a beautiful, adoring woman. McKenna knows she will have to stand idly by and watch his life unfold with him wrapped in another woman’s arms. Thus, she tries to find small solace in the intention to always be his friend.

Rumplestiltskin sweaty and tired from chores heaves himself down to the grass beneath the shade of an ancient tree. He shifts uncomfortably, surmising that he must have landed on a rock. When he spies the source of this discomfort, he mentally corrects, “Make that rocks.” Covered mostly by dirt, grass and the root of the tree itself, he observes a collection of blue stones. As his long fingers carefully, persistently work the stones free from their trappings and rubs the dirt away, he can see they are various shades of blue, some are translucent, while other are opaque, and some appear to have small veins of copper running through them. The stones are just barely being held together with a bit of decomposing twine. He looks with reverence at the string of stones; a necklace. Something inside him stirs at the sight. He gingerly places the necklace into the leather pouch on his belt.

Something about the blue stones reminds him of his friend, McKenna, or Kenna as he typically calls her. Being known as the son of the coward, he doesn’t typically have friends. Yes, there are a couple of people who tolerate his presence, but it is a stretch to call them ‘friends’. However, Kenna is a friend; his only. She is the definition of ‘piss and vinegar’, yet under that, she is a good kid and a loyal friend. He doesn’t know why the word ‘loyal’ comes to mind, since they haven’t known each other long; mere months. He just feels that she would be there for him no matter what. He decides to restring the necklace for Kenna as her thirteenth birthday is fast approaching. He wonders if he will need to play big brother soon, as boys start to pay attention to Kenna. He may be the son of the coward, yet he resolves to throw down the gauntlet to protect his friend. He wonders about the bruising marks that he has seen on her skin. She always shrugs them off, with little comment. Thinking about how they first met with her jumping into the lake fully clothed with no regard for what she might contact at the bottom, he reasons that she would be apt to acquire the occasional bruise from her rash behavior. Thinking back to the necklace in his pouch, he decides that, once refurbished, he will give it to her at their ‘hide out’ from village bullies, a cave at the base of a mountain at the far side of the lake.

A couple weeks later, they spend time in the cave using stones to draw creatures that seem to exist in the stone walls. Rumplestiltskin says, “I have something for the birthday girl. Close your eyes.”

Before doing so, McKenna warns, “If you stick a lizard on me, I’ll beat you!”

Looking a bit wounded by the implication, Rumplestiltskin replies, “Would I do that to you?”

With her arms folded, she replies, “You did last month.”

Dismissing her example, he says, “Only while your eyes were open to see it coming at you. Besides, it’s only funny the first time.”, and then with a stern tone, “Now, close your eyes or you’re not getting your present.”

Feeling something cool go around her neck, she opens her eyes and looks at her reflection in some pooled water in the cave. With heightened emotions, McKenna says, “Thank you, Rumple. It’s the perfect present.” She recognizes the necklace from her dream, but she worries that telling him that will lead to him knowing that she has magic, then he might look at her as a freak, as others do.

Humbly he replies, “I’m sure your family has something much nicer than this for you.”

She shakes her head, saying, “This’ll be my only present. My family doesn’t give presents.”, then thinking to herself she adds, “to me.” She resolves to only wear it visibly, when she is with Rumplestiltskin, and the rest of the time, hide it beneath her clothing where it cannot be taken from her and destroyed.

For months, Milah has noticed something peculiar about her little sister. Typically, she would not pay much attention to the annoying little whelp, but no matter how harsh and abusive she is with her, McKenna seems contented. It is really starting to irk her. Hence one day, she follows McKenna. She watches in rapt fascination as McKenna and an older boy skip rocks on the lake.

McKenna is smiling and laughing, and Milah thinks sarcastically, “Isn’t that too precious? The ‘girl’ is completely smitten.”

Once McKenna has left the boy, Milah feigns twisting her ankle and cries out. Rumplestiltskin runs to the side of the bewitchingly beautiful woman. Her flowing dark hair, blue eyes and sweet smile make his pulse race. He carries her back to her family’s cottage. As he carries her, he cannot help noticing her soft skin and hair and the way she leans her head against his shoulder. He cannot imagine any other woman in the village willing to be this close to him, especially not one as alluring as Milah. When they reach her cottage, she says that she will go in by herself, because she does not want her family to ‘fuss over her‘. In the coming week, Milah makes certain to accidentally cross paths with Rumplestiltskin numerous times and pretends to be fascinated by everything he says.

McKenna notices that Rumplestiltskin is distracted during their times together. One day curiosity overtakes her and McKenna asks, “Has something happened? You seem realms away.”

Rumplestiltskin smiles wistfully, “Well, lass, I know you’re too young to know this experience, but one day you will like someone in a way that makes your heart race and your palms sweat, and then you’ll seem realms away.”

A sick feeling twists her gut, as she thinks, “I’m not too young to know! It’s how I always feel when I’m around you.”, but says, “So you like a woman?”

He chuckles with a dazed expression on his face, “McKenna, I’m pretty sure I love her.”

Trying to force herself to breathe, McKenna rasps out, “And does she feel the same way about you?”

With utter astonishment he says, “She does. Indeed, she said so first. She said I’m the man she’s waited for all her life. Isn’t that incredible?”

McKenna’s knees feel like they could buckle out from under her as she pushes down the desire to scream and forces herself to expel the words, “I’m happy for you, Rumple.”

Unaware of the excruciating pain welling up in McKenna’s being, he gives her a bear hug, saying “Thank you, Kenna! It means so much coming from a good friend like you.”

The word ‘friend’ seems to twist in her heart, as she squeaks out, “You’re welcome. I should get back home. Bye, Rumple.” and darts out of sight before he can see the tears in her eyes.

Silent sobs wrack her body as she walks home. She tells herself that she knew this would happen one day, thus she should just accept her fate, yet she did not expect it to happen so soon. There was even a tiny foolish part of her that held out hope that he would still be unattached once she blossomed into a woman. She knows it was an idiotic hope, but she is certain that Rumplestiltskin is the only man she will ever love. She vows to never give herself to a man that she does not love. She forces herself to hide her upset once she is home, because Milah will most assuredly make it worse.

The dinner that McKenna had prepared, including blueberry pie for Milah’s mystery suitor, does indeed make matters worse. Seeing Rumplestiltskin enter their house as yet another fly caught in Milah’s web sends McKenna’s world crashing down. Rumplestiltskin joining the ranks of the addle-brained victims of Milah is more than she can bear. Her typical desire to partake in the meal to sustain her is replaced by the repulsion of every morsel she made for Rumplestiltskin’s sacrifice. She fights the urge to become violent hearing Milah say that she made the pie especially for him. Several times during the meal, while Rumplestiltskin’s eyes are elsewhere, Milah shoots McKenna a gloating toothy grin.

In the days that pass, McKenna tries to find a way to save Rumplestiltskin. Briefly, she considers pleading with Milah to spare him, offering to be her slave for life, but she quickly dismisses the idea, because she is already a slave to Milah, and her pleading would likely spur on Milah.

She opts to go to the victim himself. Sitting by the lake, she tries to compose herself, readying an effective argument. She is unnerved when he declares, “Kenna, it’s perfect! You’re my best friend, and now we’ll be family.”

Haltingly, she asks, “What do you mean?…family?”

With an excited gleam in his eyes, he says, “I plan to ask for your sister’s hand.”

Though McKenna is not certain that Milah would marry him just to torment her, she is equally uncertain that Milah would not follow this ruse through.

With pleading eyes and a voice full of anxiety, she says, “Rumple, you can’t do this! You don’t know what she’s like. Milah will hurt you and love doing it.”

With a reasoned tone, putting his hands on her shoulders, he says, “Kenna, it’s only natural for you to be jealous. She’s older and getting married, but we’ll always be friends.”

With wide eyes, she gapes at him saying, “Jealous? I’d sooner be jealous of a cow!”

Rumplestiltskin’s brow furrows at his friend’s reaction, “Don’t say that! Milah loves you and worries about you. She told me that you’ve been injuring yourself.”

In shock, jerking out of his grasp, she exclaims angrily, “What! My injuries are from her! She’s evil!”

Tilting his head to the side and sighing, he responds, “You never said she hurt you.”

She explains irritably, “Because I didn’t want to think about her when I was with you.”

He had expected his friend to be happy for him, especially since they will now be kin. Attributing her irrational behavior to her youth, Rumplestiltskin declares, “You don’t have to lie about her. I promise we’ll always be friends.”

Unable to hold back the tears, she screams, “No! You stopped being my friend just now when you called me a liar and took her side! Besides, why would I wanna be friends with an idiot like you?!?”, and she runs as far and fast as she can from Rumplestiltskin, with him calling behind her, “Kenna, don’t be like that…come back!”

During the days that follow, when Rumplestiltskin comes calling for Milah, McKenna avoids his gaze. Still out of the corner of her eye, she cannot keep from watching him with Milah. Though she is still angry and hurt, she has to find a way to help him. He must see Milah’s true nature before it is too late. Inspiration strikes and McKenna retires to her room; a closet with a tattered blanket on the floor and a makeshift pillow from a wheat bag. She concentrates on the stitches of the seams of Milah’s dress. Peering through a crack in the door, she watches the seam unravel and begin to split. A moment of giddy excitement floods McKenna as she observes Milah’s eyes on the brink of rage, then suddenly, a placid mask replaces the outward rage as she sweetly excuses herself from Rumplestiltskin’s presence.

McKenna’s heart sinks at the turn of events, as Milah heads toward McKenna’s room. McKenna tries to create a magic barrier, but is too late. Milah pounces on her like a tiger. Their parents distract Rumplestiltskin with raucous jokes and laughter. They are all too aware of the beautiful one’s temper, and though he is not a wealthy pigeon, Milah has made it clear to them that she wants him, and what Milah wants, Milah gets. McKenna is enveloped in fear and anger.

Please let him find me now!”, she thinks to herself as Milah presses McKenna’s makeshift pillow over her face to suffocate her.

McKenna struggles, but Milah is bigger and stronger. McKenna is tempted to use her magic to save herself, but fears killing Milah in the process. Milah hisses, “Did you really think you could get away with it, freak?!? You will be punished for this!”, then letting up the pillow, just before McKenna was about to lose consciousness, she growls, “Interfere with me again, and I’ll kill him!” McKenna knows Milah’s words to be true. The only one who can save Rumplestiltskin now is the man himself. Sadly, he is too far under Milah’s spell to break free.

Milah makes good on her promise to punish McKenna, when one evening some herbs are slipped into McKenna’s drink, incapacitating her. Unable to move, yet completely aware, McKenna is put into a locked carriage, being sold into indentured servitude. Milah taunts, “This money will make an excellent dowry to start my life with Rumplestiltskin. But don’t fret about me being in bed with him, I’m sure you won’t be alone for long. Your owner’s son likes to break in the new servants. Don’t worry, if you have a child, spawn from magic freaks fetch a high price.” As a tear slips from McKenna’s terror filled eyes, Milah presses her lips in a false pout, saying, “Aw, McKenna, I’ll miss you too.”, and then grins wickedly.

McKenna eventually discovers that in some ways her new master treats her better than her family. Though the treatment is still appalling by most human standards, she receives more food than she had at home, even if it is half rotten. The worst part is not seeing Rumplestiltskin. Her anger has dissipated and all that is left is the love. The master’s son is to study in another kingdom for the next six months, a fact for which McKenna is truly grateful. Talking to the other servants reveals that Milah was telling the truth about the son’s reputation. McKenna has been fitted with a collar that impairs her magic, making escape nearly impossible. Remembering her vow to never give herself to a man that she doesn’t love, when she is unobserved, she works tirelessly to hone her magic to do just the simplest of things that the collar impedes. The six months pass far too quickly. One night while the master is away, the son, Eugene, orders the other servants out of the main house and comes after McKenna.

Snidely Eugene says, “Relax. It’ll just hurt. What would be the fun if it didn’t?” He has her pinned against the wall in no time. She channels all her concentration and panicked energy into her magic, hoping for something, anything to stop him. A heavy book appears in her hand; not her first choice for a weapon, yet she hits him in the head with it all the same. He falls back, knocking the lantern to the floor and the room erupts in flames. McKenna is just barely able to escape the room before it is engulfed.

Realizing this is the moment that she always feared; being hunted and executed, perhaps after the clerics have their way with her, she flees into the forest. Unfamiliar with this forest, she loses her way, yet she keeps running until she finds a ravine. She carefully climbs down the ravine, noting the intense magic that seems to exist there. She must find a way to remove the collar, knowing that it will be a tool to hunt her. When it was first fitted on her, she futilely pulled at it, only managing to scar her neck and hands with burns in the effort. She recalls Aunt Gertrude once telling her of magical places that serve to rejuvenate magic, and she wills herself to breath in the magic of the ravine. Concentrating all her magic on the collar itself, she hears a hissing sound, similar to frying meat. Moments later the collar evaporates. The power of the ravine seems to embrace her like a parent should embrace a child. The ravine is part of her now, and she knows she will be safe here, giving her time to figure out what to do.

After McKenna had been sold, Milah and her parents told Rumplestiltskin that the upcoming wedding had been too hard on McKenna, and she had gone to live and get a proper education with her cousins in a distant kingdom. Milah begins to have second thoughts about the marriage to Rumplestiltskin, delaying the nuptials in order to determine whether she can find a more affluent pigeon. Years pass as she keeps Rumplestiltskin on the line as her backup plan, telling him that she has to care for her ailing parents and does not want to burden him.

Milah’s options dwindle with the Ogre War killing off many of the men. She carries on a clandestine tryst with a hulking soldier named, Hordor. While the tryst is quite satisfying, she knows Hordor is not the marrying kind. When Rumplestiltskin tells her of his plan to join the war effort, inspiration strikes. She feigns concern about him being in such a dangerous situation, while rejoicing that she can now marry him and not be saddled with him for life. They are married, and seven months later, Rumplestiltskin is called into duty, leaving for training. Milah keeps herself busy in his absence, as she plans for her new life as an honored widow.

For years, McKenna remains close to the safety of the ravine, while her magical prowess blossoms. She has put great effort into learning how to make people see things as she wants them seen, including her appearance. When she travels far from the ravine, she utilizes her magic as a disguise. While away from the ravine, she stays on the move, avoiding lingering in one place for more than a few days. Though her magical disguises are effective, memory of the collar reminds her that other things can affect her magic and leave her vulnerable. Her blue stone necklace always graces her neck, where the collar had been.

As time passes, the pull to return to the Front-lands, if only for a little while, strengthens, she has to see Rumplestiltskin. She must know he is safe. With her disguises, she is able to talk to people and overhear conversations that inform her that Rumplestiltskin has gone to fight in the Ogre War; a thought that fills her with dread. She also gleans that he is thought of as quite the joke, since seemingly everyone in the village, but him, knows his wife is a trollop. She draws blood, biting her tongue to not rant at them for their amusement at his farce of a marriage. She has also heard that his wife just birthed a son. McKenna cannot help wondering who the father is.

At camp, though he has begun to see the horrors of war, the mutilated bodies of the survivors who are considered the lucky ones, he knows his time is at hand to be a hero as he has always dreamed. No more will he be known as the ‘son of the coward’…he will be ‘Rumplestiltskin, war hero’. Tomorrow, he will go into battle, but for now, he is to guard a prisoner. The prisoner calls his name. He discovers that the prisoner is a girl near the age of McKenna the last time he saw her. The girl has similarly untamed red hair, but her most striking features are stitching where her eyes should be and functional eyes in the palms of her hands. The girl, a seer, informs him that his wife has birthed a son, but his actions on the battle field the next day will leave the son fatherless. His heart twists with conflict. He knows what it is like to grow up without a father. He had always promised himself that he would be there for any children that he may have, and yet he is within striking distance of becoming a hero and proving his worth to the village.

On McKenna’s second day of gleaning information from the village, unexpectedly word comes that Rumplestiltskin has injured himself to avoid battle and leave the war. McKenna does not know how to process this information, if it is indeed true. She is relieved, almost giddy, yet she hears them calling him a ‘coward’ and knows how much he will hate it. She knows that he never wanted to be considered a coward and was willing to do whatever foolhardy dangerous thing to prove his bravery. She cannot imagine what changed his mind. Then intuitively, she seems to know. Somehow he must have found out about the baby.

Later that evening, McKenna spies Rumplestiltskin limping towards his and Milah’s hut. McKenna has to fight to keep from screaming his name. All she can think is, “He’s alive! He’s really alive!!!” McKenna moves close to the hut, hoping to hear something, anything, that will inform her of what has happened.

McKenna hears Milah yell at him and ridicule him. McKenna seethes thinking to herself, “Yes, there’s the Milah, I know and despise!”

As Milah makes it clear that she would have preferred that he died, McKenna wonders if it would really be wrong to magically snap Milah’s neck. She shakes off the dark thought and continues to listen. She hears Milah storm out, while Rumplestiltskin coos words of love to his son…McKenna hopes the baby is his son.

Being certain that no one is looking, McKenna drops her magical disguise and enters the hut. The sight of him takes her breath way. She watches as the infant’s hand grabs his nose, and she giggles.

Startled by the noise, he looks up astonished. With her voice cracking with emotion, McKenna squeaks out, “Rumple.”

Her hair has become much darker than when she was a child, yet there are some lingering flame red streaks through her mane. She has changed so much over the years that part of him questions if it is indeed her, and he asks, “Kenna, is that really you?”

She nods with her eyes glistening, brimming with tears, “I heard things, and I had to see if it was true.”

After being lambasted by Milah, he turns away not wanting to hear more from McKenna, of all people. Kneeling in front of him, she says, “It was a brave thing.”

Looking at her with a furrowed brow, he says, “Brave?”

She nods solemnly, “You honored your duty to your family. I just wish you wouldn’t have needed to hurt yourself to do it.” Carefully, she touches his injured leg and asks, “Does it hurt bad?”

Clenching his teeth, yet shrugging nonchalantly, “It’s not too painful.”

Observing his expression, she says, “Don’t lie. It doesn’t become you.”, and then hedging, she offers, “There’s probably magic that could heal you.”

Shaking his head adamantly, Rumplestiltskin says, “No. I did this. I’ll live with it. I don’t know anyone who does that, and I don’t want to get mixed up in some dark craft just to fix my leg.”

McKenna cringes inwardly hearing him refer to magic as a ‘dark craft’. Like most people, he clearly believes that magic is evil.

Rumplestiltskin holds the babe, Baelfire, reverently. For the first time, McKenna looks at the infant and is relieved. With glassy eyes and a beaming smile, she says, “Rumple, he looks just like you.” From anyone else, he would not know how to take such an observation, however from McKenna, it implies the highest of compliment. Studying McKenna’s expression, he is struck by the irony that this moment with his son and McKenna is what he had expected with his wife. Milah’s words of contempt hurt him, however his dear friend, Kenna, is simply grateful that he is home alive. With a smile full of emotion, he says, “I think it’s time you hold your nephew, don’t you?”

McKenna says, “I’d love that.” and carefully reaches for Baelfire, supporting his head and neck. Rumplestiltskin watches in awe as McKenna cradles Baelfire in her arms, stroking a finger across his feather soft hair, “Hello sweet pea…you look so much like your papa, lucky boy. You, little man, are going to be quite the sight when you get older.” McKenna’s heart aches at the sight of this precious child; how she wishes that she were his mother and the three of them could be a family. For the first time, Rumplestiltskin realizes what a beautiful woman McKenna has become. Her inner beauty seems to overwhelm her outer beauty, as she seems lit from within, glowing as she coos at Baelfire. Rumplestiltskin thinks, “She’ll make some fortunate man a wonderful wife someday.” and feels a peculiar pang at the thought of McKenna married to some strapping young man.

Years pass, McKenna remains on the move, yet always circling back to the Front-lands stealing moments with Rumplestiltskin and Baelfire. After Milah’s behavior after his return from war, and her subsequent abuse of him, Rumplestiltskin never doubts McKenna’s assertion that Milah should never know of their meetings. In truth, it is not hard to hide their meetings from her, because Milah was seldom home. Indeed, she spends most of her time at the tavern.

Sometimes McKenna chases Baelfire around a field and sticks clover flowers in his curly brown locks, while Rumplestiltskin rolls his eyes and laughs at the sight. Other times, they visit the lake. Once, Rumplestiltskin and McKenna even take Baelfire to their cave. They both beam watching Baelfire’s eyes full of wonder at what seems to the child to be a new world. In those times, McKenna can almost pretend that they are a real family.

In Baelfire’s seventh year, life for Rumplestiltskin and Baelfire takes a fateful turn. Milah is seemingly kidnapped by pirates. Hoping for compassion, Rumplestiltskin, with walking stick in hand, goes to the ship to plead for his wife’s return. He is mocked and humiliated, eventually leaving the ship wifeless and broken.

A week later, McKenna visits the Front-lands and hears the news. Rumplestiltskin no longer seems like the man she knew. He is too quiet, too serious and far too lost. As she spends the night, she sees that he hardly sleeps, rather pacing aimlessly with his walking stick. When he does sleep, he has nightmares, pounding the bed beneath him and muttering unintelligible words of anger. She asks him about his dreams, however he does not respond. One morning, as McKenna broods on the events sitting at the table drinking tea, Rumplestiltskin awakens, while Baelfire remains asleep.

Staring into her cup, the idea that Milah was killed after taken by pirates against her will does not sit right with McKenna. Without thinking, she verbalizes her thoughts saying aloud, “Wouldn’t be the first time the wench ran off with another man.” She hears Rumplestiltskin’s walking stick clatter to the floor as she puts her hand over her mouth. He looks as though she has struck him, and he mutters, “Get out.”

A flush comes to her face at the insensitive slip of her tongue, “Rumple, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…”

More sternly, he looks at her with eyes of pain and anger, “Get out now…and don’t come back.”

Reaching for his hand, she says, “Please understand, Rumple, I’m sorry.”

Jerking away from her unwanted touch, “Get out, before I throw you out!”, he commands in his pain at failing to protect his wife.

She grabs her bedroll and rucksack, leaving in tears. She had kicked him when he was down. She did not mean to hurt him, yet she did and she hates herself for doing it.

Time passes and a couple of times a year, McKenna manages to sneak a gift to Baelfire. Rumplestiltskin never asks Baelfire, where he gets the gifts…he already knows. Three years have passed since seeing McKenna, and he misses her desperately.

One day, Rumplestiltskin asks Baelfire, “Do you sometimes see Aunt Kenna?”

Not wishing to lie to his papa, Baelfire shrugs his shoulders.

Rumplestiltskin says, “The next time you see her. Tell her I said, she’s welcome here anytime she wants.”, and a joyous smile breaks across Baelfire’s face.

A few months later, Baelfire bursts excitedly into the hut, as McKenna trails awkwardly behind him.

Unnerved by her presence, Rumplestiltskin wants to embrace her, yet remembers how harshly he treated her the last time he saw her. He glances at her briefly, saying, “Come. Sit. You’re just in time for dinner.”

As they eat in awkward silence, McKenna realizes Rumpelstiltskin looks like he has aged ten years in the past three. His eyes are sunken, and he looks haggard and worn.

That night, she watches him as he restlessly moves about the hut. Once again, when he sleeps, the nightmares come. He fists his blanket, beating unseen foes as tears stream down his face. McKenna awakens him, and he stares at her with lost eyes. She pulls him tightly to her stroking his hair and rocking. Eventually, he whispers to her that the tale he told Baelfire of Milah’s death at a pirate’s hands is not true. He confides that he knows not whether Milah is alive. In his dreams, he sees her scream and beg for mercy from the pirates who take her for ‘companionship‘ again and again, and he is helpless to save her, just as he was in reality. Not wishing to reopen the rift between them, McKenna refrains from mentioning her suspicions that Milah was willing ‘companionship‘ nor does she comment on the fact that Milah would have gladly had her taken unwillingly for ‘companionship‘. Instead, she opts to try to soothe him with the thought that he did what he needed for Baelfire to have a parent, and she offers an alternative vision, saying perhaps Milah has escaped by now and is safe, but too far away to return. They both know it is a tale of fiction, but she wishes to find a way to give him some peace.

McKenna’s visits become more frequent, yet she still has to look over her shoulder. She has had several close calls with those hoping to collect her bounty. Nine days before Baelfire’s fourteenth birthday, McKenna visits. On the second night of her visit after Baelfire is in bed, Rumplestiltskin and McKenna sit on a bench outside to talk.

McKenna says, “Bae is growing up so fast. I notice he’s spending more time with Morraine these days.”

“Yes, the blossom of young love.”, after a moment, Rumplestiltskin asks, “Why aren’t you married?”

Staring at the starry night, she wills herself to finally have the courage to be honest. She says still looking at the sky, “Because I promised myself, never to give myself to a man that I didn’t love.”

Uncertain if he really wants an answer, he nervously presses forward, “And you’ve never been in love?”

With her throat feeling tight and dry, she replies, “I didn’t say that. I just could never find the courage to tell you.”

Trembling a bit, unsure he understands what she is implying, “Tell me what?”

With a half chuckle, she squeezes her eyes shut tight and blurts out, “That I love you…you ninny!”

Panicked that she has said the words, she hangs her head and stares down at the ground.

Utterly flummoxed by her confession, he asks, “Are you sure?”

Looking at him like he has gone insane, she says in a sharp whisper, “Yes! I’m not here for your cooking!”

As the moon reflects in her crystalline blue eyes, his chocolate brown eyes draw closer and study the nuances of her face. As his mouth hovers close to hers, he says, “I love you, Kenna…I love you so much!”, and places his lips upon hers, the way he has wanted to do in years. Though she has never been kissed before, she does not want it to end. She runs her fingers through his hair, willing him to deepen the kiss with his more experienced ways. It has been eighteen years, since she first fell in love with him, and she wants all of him that she can have. As they break the kiss breathlessly, fireflies swirl around them.

Rumplestiltskin laughs at the sight, “How odd.”

Placing another soft kiss on his lips, she says, “They’re friends of mine. I think we have their blessing.”

He chuckles and pulls her into a tight embrace.

The next day, noting that Baelfire is spending the day with Morraine and some chores can wait for later. McKenna convinces Rumplestiltskin to come with her to their cave. When they get there, he is stunned to realize that she was already there, as she has the place set up with pelts on the ground, lit candles and written in the stone, “Kenna loves Rumple”.

His forehead crinkles as he is both bewildered and amused, “How did you do this?”

“I have my ways.” She resolves that soon she will tell him about her magic, but not now.

He looks at her uncertain about what is coming next. She sits on one of the pelts and pats the space next to her. He carefully lowers himself to sit on the pelt. With a look of utter resolve, she kisses him and begins pulling up his tunic.

He pulls back and looks at her perplexed as she pulls the garment over his head, “Are you sure?”

She smiles noting how he keeps asking her that, and croons, “Rumple, you are the only man I’ve ever loved. I give myself to you, wholly.”

She unlaces her dress slipping out of it, leaving only her thin slip like, shift garment covering her.

Lying herself across the pelt, she gazes up at him waiting for him to make the next move. He stares at her in awe. She is the most beautiful woman that he has ever seen, and she is giving herself to him. It’s been nearly fifteen years since he has had relations with a woman. He promises himself to take his time, because this is not just any woman…this is Kenna. She lies there filled with anticipation. She is uncertain what to do next, though she has heard of the basic mechanics of such an act, her inexperience leaves her out of her depth. She yearns for this more than anything, as she watches his face seeming to gauge the situation. He trails his hand down her side, and she shivers. He watches her breathing become rapid, and he can see that she is chilled by the cool cave air, as his hand continues down her shift covered thigh to her knee. As his long artful fingers linger behind her knee softly stroking, he is fascinated as her eyes flutter shut. He lies himself upon her with his pants and her shift still in place.

Her eyes open, as she looks upon his face with absolute trust, whispering, “Oh how I love you!”

Placing his mouth right next to her ear, he whispers with is brogue rasping passion, “I love you too Kenna, and I’m gonna to make this right for you.”, and then his tongue traces her ear. She is enthralled, as his attention to her ear makes other parts of her tingle.

Rumplestiltskin sucks on her neck, causing her to gasp as she runs her hands along his bare back. Pulling his head back, he smiles wantonly at the sight of her parted lips and plunges his tongue between her lips flicking and stroking all the sensitive areas of her mouth, as he presses his body firmly against her. A pleasured sound escapes the back of McKenna’s throat, letting him know that he is doing what he should to make this a peak experience for her. He slides his hand behind her knee once again and kisses her as though he will never get another chance to taste her sweet lips. Pulling another pelt over top of them, they slowly discard their garments and explore and experience each other. Finally, joined as one, the experience is better than either of them had ever dreamed.

Hours later, they awaken from the exhaustive sleep brought on by making love for the third time. With their garments back on, snuggling together, McKenna says in a shaky voice, “Rumple, there are dangerous people after me.”

Solemnly, he asks, “Is that why you always leave?”

With her voice cracking, she says, “Yes, a long time ago, someone tried to hurt me, and I defended myself, and he ended up dead. If they catch me, they’ll kill me or worse.”

Pulling her tightly to him, willing her to never leave his side, he promises, “I won’t let them hurt you.”

“Rumple, you won’t be able to stop them. There’s too many. Too many people want my head. There’s a place that I came across long ago…it was a safe place then. If I go there and find that it is still safe, when I come back, would you…could you and Bae…”, her voice cracks holding back a sob, “please go there with me.”

Kissing the top of her head determinedly, he says through his own tears, “Yes, we’ll go with you. We’re a family.” Before she leaves under cover of darkness that night, they kiss each other countless times, desperately clinging to each other as though it is their last chance.

A couple of days later, soldiers lead by Hordor come and take Morraine to the Ogre War, as the Duke has lowered the conscription age to fourteen. With Baelfire’s fourteenth birthday a few days away, and McKenna unable to be contacted, Rumplestiltskin packs a light bag for him and Baelfire to go on the run and leaving McKenna a note about their plans, hoping that any deity that is listening helps her find them, because he cannot bear to live his life without her. However, Hordor stops Rumplestiltskin and Baelfire’s escape, and they are left with a much darker option to ensure Baelfire’s safety.

On her way back, she hears word that they have lowered the age to serve in the army to fourteen years old. In a panic, she travels with hardly a break to make it back to the Front-lands as soon as possible. As she travels further, she hears that the Ogre War is suddenly over. Though it seems peculiar, she rejoices at the unexpected news. Now, she, Rumplestiltskin and Baelfire can travel to their safe haven and be a family. There is so much she has to tell them…so much they need to know. She resolves to kiss Rumplestiltskin dizzy the moment she sees him and then tell him everything.

A week later, in an exhausted state, McKenna returns to the Front-lands. There is a strange, heavy magic in the air. Baelfire runs to her with the strangest expression on his face.

Baelfire exclaims, “Aunt Kenna, you have to go back. Wherever you were, go back; it’s not safe here.”

Trying to calm the boy, she strokes his curled mop of hair and says, “Darling boy, I doubt it’s as bad as all that.”

Baelfire says insistently, “It is. It’s worse than you can imagine. Papa tried to save me, but something happened.”

At the word ‘papa’, McKenna’s heart clenches and she runs toward their hut.

Baelfire calls out, “No, don’t go in there!”

She calls out, “Rumple!” before she makes it across the threshold. She bursts through the door, stopping in her tracks as she sees him. She processes the sight, thinking, “He’s alive…he’s standing…his skin is greenish-gold…and he has claws.”

Rumplestiltskin says in a tone that is foreign to her, “Welcome back, Kenna.”

Her mind and her heart finally catch up with each other as she runs to him, flinging her arms around his neck. He holds her tentatively as she strokes his now serpentine-esque curly hair saying, “You’re alive! You’re alive! Something very strange has happened, but you’re alive!”

With a high trill to his voice, Rumplestiltskin says, “Why wouldn’t I be, dearie?”

Pulling back to get a look at him, she studies the overly large pupils of his eyes, his skin, his peculiarly colored and shaped teeth and even grabs one of his hands to inspect closer, and replies, “Bae said something happened to you, and I thought the worst.” She strokes his face lovingly, while he is uncertain how to react. She continues, “I’m so relieved you’re alright…different, but alright. I’m guessing you’re the source of the heavy magic I felt entering the village.”

Rumplestiltskin’s forehead crinkles, asking, “You felt magic?”

Though this is not how she imagined beginning this conversation, McKenna presses forward, “Yes, there are many things I need to tell you…starting with, I found a safe place for us.”

Dismissively, Rumplestiltskin says, “No need, Kenna. I can protect you now.”

Baelfire exclaims, “No! No protecting us! People just end up hurt or dead!”

Rubbing her head, she says, “Alright. Someone needs to explain to me what’s happened.”

Rumplestiltskin trills, “In a nutshell, dearie, I killed the Dark One, took his power, ended the Ogre War and saved all the children of the village.”, and then he bows.

Irritatedly, Baelfire adds, “Then he turned a man into a snail and stepped on him just because he bumped into me and I skinned my knee, and he killed our maid because she saw the…”

Rumplestiltskin bellows, “Bae don’t!” at the same time Baelfire finishes, ”dagger!”

Alarmed by his mistake, Baelfire darts in front of McKenna with his arms spread wide to shield her, pleading “Papa, please don’t hurt her!”

A look of shame spreads across Rumplestiltskin’s being that his own son believes that he would harm their beloved Kenna, and yet with the curse coursing through him twisting his mind and spirit, he is not entirely certain of himself.

McKenna hardly knows what to think. The Rumplestiltskin that she knows would not kill someone; not without a dire reason, as he apparently has under the influence of the curse. She recalls that when she told Rumplestiltskin about being responsible for someone’s death, he did not judge her. Even though events have spun wildly out of control in her absence, she still needs to trust the man she loves. She puts her hands on Baelfire’s shoulders, turning him to face her, “Bae, listen to me. You need to calm down. Your papa would never, ever hurt me.”

Turning a serious gaze to Rumplestiltskin, McKenna says, “Dagger? The one you’re wearing? That’s the source of this chaos?”

With a warning tone, Rumplestiltskin says, “It is not wise to trifle with such things.”

Tilting her head to the side and folding her arms in annoyance, she says in a sarcastic tone, “If you’re going to turn me into something, at least make it a butterfly; snails are boring.”

Baelfire urges, “Aunt Kenna don’t make him angry!”

Using a calming tone, McKenna says, “Sweet pea, papa and I need to talk to sort this out. Go outside for a while, and we’ll come get you when we’re done.”

Condescendingly, Rumplestiltskin says, “There’s nothing to talk about…you don’t understand the workings of magic.”

At that, the combination of exhaustion from the trip and Rumplestiltskin’s audacity compels her. She chides, “I understand more about magic than you do!”, with a theatric twirl of her wrist, thousands of fireflies float around the room. Both Baelfire and Rumplestiltskin startle at the sight, then after a few seconds, with another theatric movement, they all disappear.

Baelfire stammers, “You have magic?”

She says, “Yes, Bae, and I’ll answer any questions that you have later. Now, please go outside so papa and I can talk.”

Nervously, Baelfire complies leaving McKenna and Rumplestiltskin alone.

Rumplestiltskin’s mind twists and he growls, “You have magic. You have magic, and you never told me. What wicked game are you playing?”

With growing annoyance, McKenna rolls her eyes and says, “Game? What kind of game are you talking about? Do you think I’ve been plotting this, since I fell in love with you when I was twelve? I love you, Rumple, but sometimes you’re such a dolt!”

In a more subdued tone, he asks, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Sullenly, she replies, “Because I was afraid of losing you. When I mentioned magic to heal your injury, you called it a ‘dark craft’. Just like most people, you had made up your mind that magic was bad.”

His gaze shifts to the floor, and she takes his gnarled hand and continues, “I knew when I came back, I couldn’t keep it from you anymore. It was one of many things that I needed and wanted to tell you.”

She tilts up her face and licks her lips, moving closer to him. For a split second he moves his mouth towards her, before pulling away. She looks at him in confusion. Stroking her cheek, he says, “We can’t kiss. I need my power to keep Bae and you safe.”

“What does kissing have to…”, then she understands, saying, “Oh…true love’s kiss.” She understands his reasoning for not kissing, and then she has a reason of her own…she fears that by trying true love’s kiss, she will discover that though she loves him deeply, he does not feel the same. She questions if she is just his second choice, yet she remembers how perfect it felt to kiss him and aches to do so again.

Tears cascade down her cheeks, and Rumplestiltskin says, “Oh Kenna, what is it?”

Stammering out between hitching breaths, she says sorrowfully, “I didn’t know the last time we kissed would be the last time.”

He pulls her close and plunges his clawed hand into her thick hair. After several moments, carnal desires take over as he backs her towards his bed, tugging at the laces on her dress.

Later that afternoon, as McKenna makes tea for them, she reflects on the changes in Rumplestiltskin. His sense of empathy is impaired. He did not even seem to understand why Baelfire was upset about the killings. She knows he loves his son, but he is losing his ability to connect. She noticed that loss of connection when she joined him in bed. While the experience was physically satisfying and passionate, the tenderness, intimacy and attentiveness that he demonstrated in the cave were blocked by something that is not really him. Something that does not want her close to him, yet she wants to remain connected to him.

Watching him at the spinning wheel, she asks, “Why didn’t you use a memory spell?”

Confused, Rumplestiltskin asks, “What are you talking about?”

McKenna explains, “The maid…you could have used a memory spell on her. It’s a simple incantation. You didn’t have to kill her.”

He does not answer; rather looks away sullenly. She knows the answer without him saying it; the urge to kill was strong and it seemed expedient…a memory spell never even occurred to him.

Handing him a cup of tea, she says, “Rumple, that was sloppy magic. If you don’t hone your magic and learn to control it, it will control you.”

He sips his tea, not making eye contact. McKenna kneels in front of him to position herself in his gaze, and says, “Magic is a spiteful mistress. Treat her with respect or when you’re not looking, she’ll bite you on the arse.”

In Storybrooke, Mr. Randall Gold, who after twenty-eight years, remembers being Rumplestiltskin, lies on the couch as the room comes back into focus as McKenna’s words echo in his mind, “Magic is a spiteful mistress. Treat her with respect or when you’re not looking, she’ll bite you on the arse.”
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Author’s Note: Please comment/review. The next chapter will show Rumple’s reaction to the realization that for 28 years he thought that Killian Jones was his son. Tissues will be needed for the next chapter…there will be more of McKenna’s story as well as some Rumple and Belle in the Enchanted Forest. A side note about this chapter, as I tried to figure out where McKenna could hide, the thought of a magical ravine occurred to me, and then a few minutes later, I realized Emilie’s last name (de Ravin) is French for of the ravine…and it just seemed perfect.
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