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 Gabrielle means God gives strength or woman of God…additionally, Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve is credited with writing the oldest variant of Beauty and the Beast; ‘La Belle et la Bête’.
I know some readers are a bit confused as to who McKenna is, so I want to address that. McKenna is a previous incarnation of Belle or a latter incarnation of Lucienne (the little girl in chapter 1); just as Rumple is a latter incarnation of Reimund (the little boy in chapter1). The story has reincarnation as part of its foundation. I’ve taken creative license by making the incarnations look the same in each incarnation. Whereas in a past life, someone may be a different genders in different life times. The theory behind reincarnation and twin souls is that sometimes the same people meet due to unfinished business and/or lessons that need learned. A friend of mine who does past live readings, once told me that my husband and I met previously in the 1930′s. She went into details about our meeting and hardships we faced. Maybe it really happened, maybe it didn’t, either way, it’s a interesting story and maybe I can learn something from it.
I know that the story of McKenna broke some of my readers’ hearts…it broke mine to write it. I suggest having tissues on hand for parts of this next chapter, because I certainly needed tissues when I was writing some of the scenes. I created McKenna after watching Desperate Souls, before Skin Deep aired, thus before Belle existed. In my mind, McKenna was supposed to be a love interest for Rumple and because of magic was able to make her way to Storybrooke. However, after Belle came on the scene, I made her a previous incarnation of Belle, because it became untenable have them both in the same story, during the same time.
I gave Izzy-B an interest in both science and the metaphysical, because she has always been trying to makes sense of the odd feelings and visions she always had, so she didn’t want to leave any stone unturned.
October, 24, 2011 10:45PM – Storybrooke
The sickening effects of Rumplestiltskin’s regained memories have begun to wane enough to function and think. He feels drawn to the attic. In twenty-eight years of living in the pink Victorian house in Storybrooke, he has never been up there. Maneuvering carefully on the steps, he ascends, tugging on a pull chain to turn on the light. It is cluttered with items, covered with a thick layer of dust. His eyes scan the space, and he determines that some items are mementos from the Enchanted Forest, while others are tangible manifestations of the false life that he believed to be real only hours before.
He seethes when seeing remnants from Kieron’s childhood. Only someone as twisted as Evil Queen Regina would think to make him believe that Killian, the filthy cur Milah ran off with, is his son, and then encourage the pirate to violate Belle. Seeing Kieron’s rocking horse, he flips his cane around and with a swing that would have made Babe Ruth proud sends the horse’s head slamming against the wall as its body clamors helplessly to the floor. The horse is then thrown down the stairs for more abuse and burning later. Next to be pummeled are the GI Joe action figures, including the much sought after model with Kung Fu Action-Grip, the Lego Pirate Ship and crew, spyglass, etc. All, after excessive beatings, make their way to the heap at the base of the stairs. Sweat, from the physical exertion, drips down his face and mats his hair, but all this aggressive activity helps him think, as he plots the slow and painful ways he will exact revenge against Killian and Regina. Though he would love to have magic to inflict untold misery on them both, he will have to use the means of this world.
Regina has targeted Izzy-B in this world, and Rumplestiltskin vows to do whatever he must to protect her. He feels an urgent impulse to find a way for Izzy-B to remember being Belle. Knowledge of what and who she is up against will help her stay on guard and be safe. He worries about Izzy-B’s compulsion to leave Storybrooke. Somehow, he must convince her to stay. Attempting to leave before the curse on the town breaks could be disastrous. Waking Belle up doesn’t make his love for Izzy-B any less real. Indeed he is head over heels in love with that infuriating woman…as he is with Belle, as he was with McKenna, as he could have been with Gabrielle if he had known her for more than one night, as even his little eight year old heart loved Lucienne. He loves them all, because they are all facets of the same radiant diamond.
Going through boxes, he finds the shawl of his beloved Baelfire and strokes it with trembling fingers, and in another box, he finds a handmade infant’s gown with rosettes. Fighting tears, he brings the garment to his lips and whispers, “Angela”.
Memories start to flood his mind again.
Kenna worried that Bae would do something drastic to stop him, hence she devoted herself to researching anything that might offer an option to keep their family whole.
In the Enchanted Forest, McKenna decides to leave to find out more information about the Dark One curse, but makes Rumplestiltskin and Baelfire promise not to do anything drastic while she is gone.
Eyeing them both sternly, she chides, “I mean it, you two. We need to be careful about how we proceed.” Turning to Baelfire holding his face in her hands, McKenna says, “I love you from the tips of your toenails to the ends of that unruly hair. Be patient, be good and take care for your papa.”
She hugs him and kisses his head, as he says, “I will, Aunt Kenna.”
Moving to Rumplestiltskin, they embrace each other tightly. She trembles in his arms, as her voice cracks, “The last time we did this, we at least got to kiss good bye.”
Mournfully, Rumplestiltskin says, “I know, Kenna. I’m so sorry…but don’t be gone that long this time.”
Stoically, she asserts, “I won’t. I won’t be going that far. I’ll be back soon. Please don’t do anything, but learn your magic without using it on others and take care of our boy. I’ll be back soon. I promise.”
Rumplestiltskin removes from his pocket two amber, glowing stones. He explains that they are connection stones. He intends to keep one with him at all times, and if she should get lost, the stones will help them find each other.
McKenna is only a day’s journey away, when she feels the pull to abandon her research, thus she turns back. She does not know that Baelfire, in his youthful exuberance and notorious teenage impatience, broke his promise by acquiring a magic bean from the Blue Fairy to take them to a land without magic. Rumplestiltskin is unsure he wants to go at all, but urges Baelfire to wait reminding him of their promise to McKenna and stating that they cannot leave without her.
Stubbornly, Baelfire says, “You know Aunt Kenna’s trips. She could be gone for months. Please papa, Aunt Kenna has a connection stone, and those stones are said to be powerful enough to transcend realms. She’ll find us. I know she will. I don’t want to wait. You could lose your temper and something bad could happen. I want my father back.” Baelfire’s words pull at his heart, and Rumplestiltskin reluctantly agrees.
As Kenna travels back, she feels as though a force is ripping her from inside. Something is not right, and she knows it. She pulls the connection stone from her bag, holds it and concentrates. She appears in the forest with a green twirling light emanating from the ground. Her heart skips as she sees Rumplestiltskin with his arm dangling into a portal that seems tornadic in nature, screaming “I can’t!” and hears Baelfire yelling from the hole in the ground, “You promised! Don’t break our deal!”
Feeling the ripping sensation become stronger, she tries to run to Rumplestiltskin and Baelfire, but a force knocks her back into a tree, leaving her unconscious.
McKenna awakens to Rumplestiltskin in a full blown rage screaming at the Blue Fairy, vowing to do nothing else and love nothing else until he finds him. McKenna is horrified to realize Baelfire has gone through the portal. Enraged beyond all reason, upon seeing McKenna, Rumplestiltskin blows up at her, telling her that it is her fault for not being there, that she is just like Milah and she means nothing to him. Hurt, angry and profoundly devastated, McKenna leaves. She goes to her safe place to regroup, while she decides what to do next.
Two months later, McKenna returns to tell Rumplestiltskin the news that she is pregnant. Not wanting to see him, and assuming he will not care, she still goes to see him because she refuses to keep such a secret from him.
Defiantly, she says, “I ask nothing of you. I’ll take care of this baby on my own. You needn’t be bothered with us.”
He reaches towards her swollen abdomen and she recoils, growling “You will not harm my baby!”
Hurt clear on his face, Rumplestiltskin says with his voice shaking and his brogue strong, “Kenna, I apologize for what I said. I didn’t mean it. Please, Kenna, please stay.”
With her teeth clenched, looking up at the ceiling to avoid shedding tears, she bites her bottom lip and trembles. Slowly, cautiously he places his hand upon her belly with his voice overwhelmed my emotion, “Please, Kenna, I love you.” Her resolve crumbles, looking at the same sweet man that she has loved for most of her life, and she melts into his arms.
Rumplestiltskin and McKenna fall into a daily routine of researching ways to travel to realms without magic and Rumplestiltskin learning to control his magic. In the evenings, McKenna takes to working on making clothes for their baby. McKenna spends many nights, learning to knit rosettes, because she is certain that they are having a daughter. It amuses Rumplestiltskin to watch her knit and sew, knowing she could easily conjure any garment that she desires. As she works on baby clothes, Rumplestiltskin reads aloud to her belly from arcane tomes of magic. He reasons that with McKenna as a mother there is a chance their child will be magical and why wait? Their child squirms and kicks during ‘magic lessons’, which she is fairly certain is due to papa’s high pitched voice and odd chortles.
Their world comes crashing down in McKenna’s seventh month, when she shrieks, “Rumple!” He is by her side in no time, finding her panic stricken, pleading “Help me make it stop! She’s not ready to come yet!”
Carrying her to their bed, he places his hand over their daughter, and in an instant, he forgets how to breathe. With an expression of soul crushing sorrow, he rasps out the words, “Kenna, she’s…”
Shaking her head and focusing all her magic, McKenna says, “No, she’s fine. Help me stop the labor.”
Trying to reason with her, while his heart tears into pieces, he says, “Kenna, darling, she’s not moving or anything. You have to let her go.”
Holding on to the tiniest hope, she says determinedly, “No, she’s just resting. If you’re not going to stop it, I will.”
Rumplestiltskin can sense the strain on her body, as her magic tries to fight what is the natural biological process when a fetus has ceased living. He fears she will bleed out if she does not stop.
Grabbing her by the shoulders and giving her a shake, with tears gushing from his sorrow filled eyes, his voice trembles, “Kenna, please!…I don’t want to lose you! Please, Kenna, you can’t die too!”
Her eyes fill with disbelief and horror as the realization takes hold. Throwing her head back on the pillow, she howls like an animal caught in the crushing jaws of a trap, “Noooooo!”
Her magical efforts stop, and he proceeds to deliver their stillborn daughter, Angela. In unabashed agony, he cleans and cradles their tiny infant who has barely perceivable tufts of chestnut hair. Rumplestiltskin and McKenna spend a long while stroking and kissing Angela before they put her to rest.
With McKenna completely despondent for months, Rumplestiltskin is determined to be strong for her. However, the end result is they both mourn alone. Both blame themselves for the loss of their daughter; McKenna reasoning that Angela was inside of her, thus it was her job to protect their child; and Rumplestiltskin reasoning that all his bad choices lead to the loss of Angela. Finally, one day, they talk about their beliefs about their own culpability in Angela’s death; each making the effort to convince the other, that the other was not to blame. Slowly, they begin to heal.
Over time, their bond and attraction become stronger. McKenna notes that his behavior towards her is more like before the Dark One curse. Rumplestiltskin’s attentiveness and empathy seem to be rebounding a bit. She eventually asserts that she wants to try to have another baby with Rumplestiltskin, but he refuses; not wanting to risk going through the loss again. They battle over the subject of another child many times, as well as battling their undeniable attraction to each other. The situation becomes untenable, and they go their separate ways.
Each searches separately for a way to find Baelfire, until the day that they are both on the track of the same magic bean. McKenna’s heightened intuitive powers determine that Rumplestiltskin is close to the magic bean, thus she hangs back allowing him to play his hand. However, she is shocked when she feels the presence of a past foe, and the senses that things have gone very wrong.
McKenna goes to his workroom to find Rumplestiltskin drinking and the room in a shambles, with many items thrown to the floor, including a human hand.
Looking at his disheveled appearance, she says, “You didn’t get the bean?”
Startled, he looks up, “How did you…how did you know?”
She replies, “You and Baelfire are always on my mind. I had a lead on a magic bean, but you were further ahead in the chase. Milah’s ability to wreck everything is astounding. Now, that you’ve killed her, do you feel any better?”
Flinching as shards of guilt slice his conscience, “How can you be so callous?”
“Are you expecting me to berate you about the death of my beloved sister, your devoted wife? I’m sorry, I can’t do that. I could point out, that your temper let your magic control you, rather than the other way around. I could comment that when one is dealing with a pair as hateful as Milah and Killian Jones, the wise options are to either leave them both alive or kill them both…because one left alive could cause untold trouble in our attempts to find Bae. But if you want me to feel sorry because that venomous snake has been exterminated, you’re barking up the wrong tree.”
Gazing at the scar on her neck beneath her blue necklace just as he has countless times, “You didn’t go to your cousins when you disappeared, did you? That’s what Milah and your parents told me, but it’s not true, is it?”
Giving him a warning glance, she says in a strained voice, “Be careful asking questions that you never wanted to hear the answers to. I suppose it was easier for you to believe everything was fine.”
Sullenly, he says, “I did believe them. It wasn’t until after you came back, I saw your scar and Milah had shown her true self after the war that I knew something was wrong.”
Bitterly she says, “I tried to warn you about her, but you wouldn’t listen. So I tried to show you by getting her oh so sweet façade to slip, but she caught me and I was punished.”
Shaking her head, “What does it matter? I just refuse to mourn her.”
“It matters to me.” he says stoically.
Sighing resolutely she mindlessly rubs her scar while looking at one of his many potion bottles, and says, “You know how you feared that Milah was being savaged against her will? That’s exactly what she tried to have done to me. I was thirteen years old, and they slipped something in my drink, and sold me! Milah gloated about me being ‘broken in’ by my owner’s son and how they sell the babies of ‘magic freaks’ like me.”
A mixture of guilt and anger fill Rumplestiltskin. He was so perfectly played by Milah’s manipulations that he had failed to protect Kenna, like he vowed to do.
McKenna continues, “It is her fault that I always had to run. When he came for me, I did what I had to do to save myself, but killed him in the process. I’ve been hunted like an animal for twenty years because of her. Because of her, I wasn’t there when you found out the Duke was requiring fourteen year old children to fight. If I had been there, we could have figured something out. I wasn’t there when you needed me, and we lost our one chance to have a life with Bae and our children. I should have been by your side, but I failed you.” He pulls her into his arms, and they mourn…not Milah, but the life that could have been.
Rumplestiltskin adds a gold cord with a protection spell to McKenna’s necklace. Even though word is sent out that McKenna is under the protection of the Dark One, on occasion, foolhardy bounty hunters try to capture McKenna, always with gruesomely dire results for the twits. McKenna and Rumplestiltskin continue to search for a way to find Baelfire and pass in and out of each other’s lives for decades. Their grief, over all that they have lost and thoughts of what might have been, festers to the point that at times it is more painful to be with each other, than without…and yet they always are drawn back to their love.
In her eighties in failing health, McKenna spends the last year of her life with Rumplestiltskin. He regrets not conceiving another child with her and suggests that he can make her young again. She rejects the offer saying that this life has been too hard, and she needs a rest.
In her last hours, they lie face to face embracing each other, and Rumplestiltskin asks, “Why in all this time didn’t you find someone else?”
Her heavily wrinkled hand strokes his face as her voice weakly rasps out, “Because you, silly man, are the love of my life, and I wouldn’t settle for less. Don’t you know by now you’re my everything? I may have been angry at you more times than I can count, but I never for a second stopped loving you.”
Unshed tears stream down Rumplestiltskin’s face, “Kenna, I will always love you. I don’t know how I’ll go on without you. There’ll never be another you.”
She laughs softly, “I think I’ll have to prove you wrong.” He stares at her in confusion, and she says, “When I pass, remove my necklace. I plan on finding you in another life, and you can give it back to me then. One lifetime with you is just not enough. When you find our boy, tell him I love him.”
Her strength fades as she watches him silently as he strokes her silver hair for hours. The rattle shakes her in her waning moments. As she breathes her last breath, over fifty years of yearning overtakes him, and he places a soft kiss upon her lips. Magical lights ever so softly flicker as his lips tingle in their pinkness, before returning to gold. He kisses her over and over again, sobbing until he can find the strength to lay her to rest next to Angela.
About a century later, Rumplestiltskin is summoned to a small cabin in the middle of the night. Though he is somewhat surprised that there is no lantern to light the cabin, he assumes that the desperate soul in question wishes to not see the monster that is the Dark One. Deciding to make it clear who’s in control, his magic illuminates the cabin. His breathing stops, as he lays eyes on a frail woman with gray hair with traces of chestnut highlighting her mane, approximately sixty years in age lying in a bed. She, in so many ways, looks like McKenna.
“Are you there?” she calls out.
Realizing she is blind, he rasps out, “Yes, dearie. You called. I came.”
She says, softly, but determinedly, “Come closer, please.”, and begins to cough and gasp for air.
As he does so, the harsh realization that this woman is on her deathbed, and he missed McKenna’s return hits him hard. He would give the world to this woman that he just met, if only to have her in the world.
After the coughing fit passes, she says, “Hello sir, my name is Gabrielle, and I would like to make a deal with you.”
Trying to reign in his comparisons to McKenna and observe this woman for who she is, he notes her lack of desperation and the air of utter civility in how she regards him. Feeling the urge to abandon his typical moniker for others; dearie, he opts to use her given name, saying quite plainly, “Hello Gabrielle, I’m Rumplestiltskin.”, not bothering with his flamboyant, extraneous rolling of R’s, “What is it you desire? The return of your health, perhaps?”
Shaking her head as her body tremors, “No, thank you. I’ve lived a long life, and there’s nothing for me to hang about for. My family is gone. I don’t have much to make a deal with. Just this cabin and what’s in it, including my wedding ring. Don’t know if there’s anything you could make use of here, but it’s all yours if you’ll just make sure the children of the village are safe. Most of ‘em have lost one or both parents. They’ve got nothing. I wanna make sure I did some good in this life.”
He is flabbergasted by her request; not for herself, but for children. He asks incredulously, “You would give up your wedding ring?”
“I’m dieing…my husband’s dead…I doubt he’ll mind. If he does, he can fuss at me, when I get to the other side. Might as well get the first argument out of the way.” she smirks.
He leans in closer to observe this pragmatic woman. As he does, Gabrielle senses his closeness and reaches towards his face, saying, “May I? I’d like to know more about you, Rumplestiltskin.”
Uneasily, Rumplestiltskin says, “Yes, you may.” As her hands glide across his face, studying the contours with her finger tips, she smiles softly. No one has willingly touched him since McKenna died, and it stirs something deep inside him.
In a business-like manner, he says, “I will grant your request to protect the children of the village, under one condition: you answer one question, absolutely honestly.”
She nods stoically, “Whatever you wish to know, I will tell you.”
Searching her unseeing eyes, he asks, “What would you want for yourself before you die?”
Her brow furrows in thought, then after a long moment, she says, “I suppose. If I could have one thing, I’d like to see the stars one more time before I move on.”
He passes his hand across her face, as a purple glow emanates from the appendage. Her brow creases more as she blinks repeatedly and softly chews her bottom lip. Her eyes focus on his golden face and wild hair, as she says, “You don’t look like they said you would…but you look just how I thought you would.” giving him a large smile.
Smiling at her, bewildered by her lack of repulsion, he waves his hand, and they are transported outside to a clearing upon a hill with an unencumbered view of the night sky. In the process, he has conjured a large downy mattress, pillow and blankets for her to rest upon. Making sure she is warm enough, he then attempts to excuse himself, saying “I’ll leave you to enjoy this moment in peace.”
With a tinge of irritability, Gabrielle says, “Not if you’re a gentleman, you won’t. The best part of star gazing is sharing it with someone.” Patting the ample space next to her, she practically orders him, “Come sit.”
He cautiously lowers himself to sit next to her, but staying close to the edge of the mattress. Shaking her head, she says with a combination of sarcasm and annoyance, “Silly man, I may be dieing, but I won’t break from you seating yourself comfortably…relax.” After some time passes, she asks, “What do you think happens?…I mean after? Do we just go up there and stay? Do we come back as an elk or bear or such? Or when we breathe our last, is that it?…it’s all over?”
Incredulously, he asks, “You’re asking the Dark One about after life?”
Coughing and struggling to speak, she says dryly, “I assume you’ve been around a while; you might have some understanding of it that the rest of us don’t.”
“I don’t know how much better informed I am than everyone else, but…”, he looks at her with glistening eyes, “…I do believe sometimes souls come back…not particularly as animals, rather I think as human forms.”, and he adds in a self-deprecating tone, “But that’s just an opinion from an old monster.”
Gabrielle huffs indignantly, “You don’t seem like a monster to me.”, and then thoughtfully she adds, “You seem like a man, who’s seen an awful lot of pain.”
Turning his eyes from the sky to her moonlit weathered face, unable to resist, he asks the question that has plagued him this evening, “Did you love your husband?”
A bittersweet smile draws across her lips, as she says pensively, “He was kind to me and our children, and he was a friend to talk with. Yes, in a manner of speaking, I loved him. He was family. The conception of our children wasn’t unpleasant, but there was no great romantic love. Maybe if I’d ‘ve been a braver woman, I could have held out for some great love that was marked with yearning and passion, but I didn’t know if that even existed or if that’s just what some talk about. It was a satisfactory life we had, until war and sickness took it. There’s nothing more wrong in this world than outliving your own children. It changes you and etches the loss on your soul.”
He turns away, trying to hide the tears that have slipped from his eyes, but she sees anyway. Wrapping her frail withered fingers around his clawed hand, she whispers, “You know, don’t you? You’ve had that loss.”
Swallowing hard, he nods, and rasps out, “Indeed, I have.”
“Then maybe you understand, why I have no need to hang about this life any longer than I’m supposed to.”, then she continues with a hint of a smile, “But I’ve got some mighty fine company to send me off.”
Tentatively, Rumplestiltskin wraps his arm around her shoulders, and she responds by leaning in towards his body, resting her head upon the shoulder of his dragon’s hide coat. For a few more hours, they talk of the stars, summer nights, snow laden winters and the gifts of children. As her breathing becomes more labored, they talk less, and she nestles herself against him basking in the wonders of the night sky and the man with the odd name who she wishes she had more time to get to know.
Over countless decades, too many to recall, he throws himself into his one and only goal; finding his son. An ache in his soul tells him that he has irrevocably missed his chances at love. Loneliness permeates his being, leaving him wanting and weak to the wiles of a miller’s daughter whose features are vaguely similar to McKenna’s, but her heart is spiteful and selfish. Indeed, that is the part of her that appeals to the Dark One within him. Feeling that Cora’s poisonous affection is better than nothing, he convinces himself that he loves her, renegotiating a previously agreed upon deal. When she removes her own heart, denying him the opportunity at the life that had been promised, he sees the reality of their entanglement. She did not love him…not truly. He takes this lesson to heart, deciding that McKenna was an anomaly. In many ways, they grew up together, thus making her more open to loving him. However, no one else could truly love him. Decades later witnessing Regina push Cora through the looking-glass, he feels a rush of giddiness. He senses that Regina will eventually see to her mother’s demise, and he relishes the knowledge that nobody breaks a deal with him and comes away unscathed.
More than a decade has passed since Regina had become Queen, and Rumplestiltskin’s plan for a curse to take him to a land without magic is coming closer to fruition. Rumplestiltskin’s trip to deal with the guardians of a marshland hamlet was meant to keep up his appearance as deal maker and possibly procure some trinket of interest, however, that intent changes drastically at the sight of her.
Rumplestiltskin’s heart clenches at the sight of the woman in the golden yellow gown. Everyone in the war room has their backs to him as they expect him to come through the door. Seeing her chestnut brown tresses cascade down her bare shoulders, it strikes him that she appears to be near the same age as McKenna when they conceived Angela. Pushing down the thought and donning his deal maker mask, he remembers the lesson of his ill-fated time with Cora…Never let emotional entanglements weaken you. As they open the doors to find no one, “Simpletons!“, he notes the possessive way a knight with dark hair looks at the woman in the yellow gown.
Rumplestiltskin chirps, “Well, that was a bit of a let down.”
By the time they turn to see him casually sitting on the throne, he has made his decision about what he wants in exchange for saving this inconsequential town from the ogres…he wants her. He resolves not to make the same mistake with her that he did with Cora. This woman, Belle, will not sway him with her crystalline blue eyes and full lips. She is not McKenna…she cannot possibly have loving feelings for him. Belle will be treated as a servant to the Dark One should.
Soon Rumplestiltskin curses himself for making her the object of his deal, as she gets under his skin. Within a week of her arrival at the Dark Castle, he has given Belle a room instead of her sleeping in the dungeon as she had her first nights. He quickly stops making comparisons between McKenna and Belle. Belle is her own, unique, infuriating person. He tries to figure out the exact moment that she seemed to decide that she ran the castle. The woman has gall that he has never known, setting Robin Hood free after the thief dared to try to steal a magic wand or tearing down curtains that were expressly nailed in place. She even looks adorable after chipping his cup. She does it all with those knowing eyes and coquettish smiles…then there are the maddeningly insightful questions. He thinks all of this to himself as he holds her protectively in his arms where she has fallen after trying to tear down the curtains. Looking at her gentle eyes and soft features and hearing her lilting voice thanking him as she is cradled in his arms, it’s enough to make him want to cry…or cut out his eyes and remove his ears.
That night as he walks by her room, the door is open and the room is empty. Turning on his heals, he strides to the stairs and ascends, only to find her library empty. She is gone. That is the only explanation…she broke their deal. Part of him is relieved, since the Dark Castle is not the place for someone as fair and lovely as she, however the Dark One rages, “She broke our deal! No one breaks a deal with me!”
With a snap of his fingers, Rumplestiltskin is dressed in his heavy cloak ready to search for Belle and teach her a lesson that she will never forget. However, he only gets five paces from the castle door before he sees a form lying in the snow. He hurries to her in confusion. Upon seeing him, Belle exclaims, “You’ve come to watch too!”, and points to the sky. He looks up with his hood falling back as his eyes and mind process the amazing display…the lights of an aurora dance across the sky and a spectacular meteor shower creates a visual symphony.
Tugging on the bottom of his cloak, she says, “You’re going to hurt your neck trying to watch that way. Come here, next to me.”
With a look of repulsion, he says, “There’s snow on the ground.”
She smirks, “Yes, I’ve noticed that. Come on, it’s not that cold.”
Begrudgingly, Rumplestiltskin lies down next to her in the snow. There is such a pristine stillness. The only sounds to be heard are their breathing and the faint crackling of the snow from the weight of their bodies.
After several minutes of silence, Belle rolls on her side to face Rumplestiltskin and says hesitantly, “I owe you an apology.”
Lost in his contentment with the moment, he responds, “Hmm?”
Belle explains, “For years, I’ve charted astronomical events; planets, stars and so on. Earlier this evening, when I realized this was going to happen. I went to find you, but you were busy in your work room, and I thought I shouldn’t disturb you…but I was so excited to see this. I just came out here without telling you. I’m sorry. It was rude of me not to let you know where I had gone.”
Opting to ignore the fact, that as per their deal, she should have asked him for permission rather than tell him. He responds, “No matter. I obviously know where you are now.”
She giggles and gives him one of patented sideways glancing smiles, then looking at him intently, she says “Every meteor shower that I’ve watched, I’ve always ended up wishing on a shooting star. I know it sounds peculiar, but I’ve always wished for the same thing.”
With a flourish to his voice, he asks, “And that would be?”
“Someone with which to gaze at the stars…this time my wish came true.”
Profoundly moved by her words, Rumplestiltskin realizes his heart is in serious danger, and he says, “Well, dearie, I’m glad you got your wish, but I wish not to have a frozen caretaker. So we best be getting back inside.” Noting the disappointment marring her expression as Belle is about to acquiesce, he growls in frustration, opening his cloak, he says, “Oh come in here…if we can keep you from turning to ice, I suppose we can stay out a little longer.”
She beams at him says, “Thank you! That would be lovely!”, snuggling against him laying her head on his chest, as he wraps the cloak around her. Looking at the sky display its full beauty, while listening to his heartbeat, Belle feels that this night could not be more perfect. Holding her in his arms, as though Belle is meant to be there, his spirit is contented while his mind protests, “This is a disaster!” His spirit wins the night as he keeps her warm with both is body and his magic until the astral display is over.
A week passes and Rumplestiltskin finds himself more and more drawn to Belle. The light and joy that she brings to the castle overwhelmed him as he would like nothing more than to drown in her essence. She begins to ask about his family, and he is certain that she could never understand. Trying frantically to remember the lesson of Cora, he sends Belle to town to get straw, and makes a deal to tell her about his son upon her return, yet makes it clear that he expects that she will never return. Walking to town, Belle’s heart and some intangible part of her being scream for her to go back to Rumplestiltskin. The further she walks, the heavier her legs feel as she fights an internal battle. On her way to town, a black carriage stops and an ornately dressed woman with black hair, dark eyes and a blood red smile gets out. It is Queen Regina, every bit as evil as her mother Cora, however Belle does not know this woman. Though there is something disquieting about the woman with the dark eyes, Belle finds herself listening to her talk of love and the power of true love’s kiss to break any curse.
Returning to the castle, Belle’s feelings for Rumplestiltskin overwhelm her. It is as though she has found a missing piece of herself. Rumplestiltskin is stunned, elated and terrified that she has come back. His heart screams out to her as she touches him on his shoulders as he sits at the spinning wheel. Something within Belle is in turmoil as it both aches to kiss him, yet warns her against it. She asks him about his son, as per their deal, but he gives her a cursory answer stating that he lost him. With her hand on this thigh, feeling the warmth of his leg radiate through his leather pants to her finger tips, she begins to lean forward. In the back of his mind, Rumplestiltskin knows the peril of true love’s kiss, yet he aches to kiss her lips.
A deep primal yearning calls out to Belle, “Does he love us?!” Belle mind questions, “us?”, yet he is moving closer to her as she moves closer to him. She has fallen in love with him over their months together. Something about Rumplestiltskin calls her like a siren song.
In Storybrooke, Rumplestiltskin zealously shoves plastic pirate crew members into the trash compacter relishing the screeching sound of the mutilated crew. Amongst the figurines he finds a female with dark hair and eyes. Remembering how Regina tricked Belle into true love’s kiss, and how he cast Belle out of the Dark Castle because of it, he pulls a meat cleaver from the drawer, first hacking off her leg, then the other and so on. The guilt of what happened to Belle after leaving the Dark Castle haunts him as the memory is renewed.
Rumpelstiltskin remembers, Belle had told him that when she had decided that she was going to return to him, she is already close to her father’s castle. She had made a fateful decision to visit before returning to Rumplestiltskin. Her father, Sir Maurice, with the advice of Regina had clerics take Belle to ‘cleanse’ her. Just as Milah had taunted McKenna about the clerics, they did indeed have brutal techniques that they used on those touched by magic. The clerics spared nothing on “the Dark One’s wench“. She was beaten, whipped, skinned in tender places, and they made quite a point of using a burning fire poker to score her face saying, “Dark magic is attracted to your beauty, so we rid you of it.”
Belle knew that if she called out for Rumpelstiltskin, they would kill her in an instant, although she wasn’t sure that wasn’t better for her. Instead, she screamed for the one person who could stop the torture, the one person who should never have allowed it in the first place; her father. She screamed for him even when she had no voice left to use. While she screamed in agony for her father, Maurice went to ride his horse to keep from hearing her.
Having the tiniest shred of guilt, once the clerics had cleansed her for a day and planned to do more the next day, Maurice declared that Belle be allowed to sleep in her room before the next day’s cleansing. Barely conscious, she whimpered and trembled on her bed that was becoming soaked with her blood. Part of her wished to close her eyes, never to open them again. A voice in her head, that sounded like her, yet different called to her, “Belle, we must go! We have to find Rumple!” Belle’s desire to live asserted itself, and she left her room via tunnels which she had explored as a child.
As Belle traversed the tunnels, she could hear conversations elsewhere in the castle…Belle heard a servant ask her father whether he had a satisfying ride, she heard the clerics and Regina arguing, because Regina wanted her as a prisoner once the clerics were done torturing her, however they want to kill Belle. Weakly yet hurriedly, she made her way through the tunnels, outside and to the stables. She found her father’s horse Philippe still wet from the ride. Unable to fathom, how her own father could do this to her, she mounted his mighty steed and clung to Philippe, riding towards a dense forest.
Meanwhile, after Rumplestiltskin had spent most of a day, trying to convince himself that he had made the right decision, he realized he had made a horrible mistake telling Belle to leave and went searching for her. For a long while, he sensed that something or someone was preventing him from tracking her. How he wished he had already given Belle the necklace with its protection spells upon it.
After riding a great distance, Belle decided to let Philippe run free, fearing that she would be too easily tracked by the clerics, her father’s men, Regina or whoever might have decided to hunt “The Dark One’s wench”. She could not help but be bit by the bitter irony that she had merely a taste of the lips of her true love and nothing more intimate. Hearing those who hunted her closing in, she was barely able to whisper, “Rumplestiltskin”. He heard her call and found her half dead in the forest with search dogs closing in on her. Hardly conscious, she urges him not to harm the dogs or her father, but he noted that she did not grant clemency to anyone else, and thus decided to eventually deal with the clerics as he saw fit.
Time being of the essence, he first took her to his castle and healed her many physical wounds. Indeed, her face was just as beautiful as it was before the cleansing. However, her face is marred with the despair of her father’s betrayal, and Rumpelstiltskin knew that it would take a long time for those emotional wounds to heal. He tried to do his part to repair the damage that he had caused to their relationship by revealing the truth about Baelfire and the curse to take them to a land without magic. He gave her the blue stone necklace, stating that it had belonged to someone very dear to him and she wanted Belle to have it. Though Belle’s mind had reeled at what had been done to her as a result of his rejection of her and what curse might do to them in the future, she continued to baffle him by asserting her love and devotion to him regardless.
In Storybrooke, as Rumpelstiltskin thrusts into a burning barrel in the backyard countless items from his cursed life as father to Kieron, he seethes recalling all that Regina had done to Belle and yet she still wished to harm her more.
He recalls that after he allowed himself to be captured and put into Charming’s dungeon, Regina came to him requesting help with the curse. Torn between his desire to find his son and his desire to avenged true love’s abuse, Belle had made it clear that, though she had misgivings about the curse and trusting Regina, she supported his efforts to find Baelfire. However he certainly was not going to help Regina for free, no matter how much he wanted her to enact the curse. He told her that he and Belle were to be together in the new world. He thinks ruefully that Regina used a loophole to define ‘together, to mean the same town. In addition to his own comfort, which he would have shared with Belle had they truly been together, he had specified that Regina was not to harm Belle. Now, Rumpelstiltskin realizes that Regina has been finding ways to honor the letter of the request, but not the intent. He is determined to make her pay for that. He recalls that his final request was that Regina had to do whatever he asked, as long as he said, “please.” Sweating, watching the flames from the burning barrel climb high, he bares his teeth and laughs maniacally, thinking “I can’t wait to see what happens the first time I say, ‘please’!”
In the early hours of the morning, Rumpelstiltskin, who everyone knows as Mr. Gold, skulks around the corridors of Storybrooke Hospital. While the average Joe would not be allowed unhindered access to restricted areas of the hospital, Mr. Gold receives the occasional sideways glance, but no one has the courage to object. This is quite fortunate, because as crazed as he looks still in his gingham check shirt, disheveled suit, matted hair and smelling of smoke, the exterior is just the tip of the iceberg for this man on a mission to procure various drugs and syringes to exact his revenge.
Later looking at the stars, he smiles sadly thinking of Gabrielle and acknowledges that in that one night, he had fallen in love with that tough broad too. Walking along the docks with only the lamp lights to illuminate the night, he pulls out his cell phone and dials. “It’s Gold. You have a new assignment. You are to keep eyes on Miss Isabelle Izzy-B French at all times. She is to be kept safe and be discreet about it. I don’t want her rattled. If my son, Kieron Gold or Mayor Mills comes anywhere near her, I am to be alerted immediately. Dove, failure is not an option. Good.”
He breathes a small sigh of relief knowing that his associate is on the case, but he will not rest easy until Belle is safely living under his roof. He feels ambivalent about needing Belle to remember. Though the nightmares from what her father did to her waned over time, they had not completely vanquished. He hates the idea of her remembering that horror, and yet, it is the knowledge of that and Regina’s involvement that will help her be vigilant. A knife twist in his gut thinking about the twenty-eight years she has been unprotected, and with whatever memories that Regina taunted Belle at the police station. It nearly killed him to be away from her as he waited in Charming’s dungeon, fortunately once he had all the chess pieces in place including Regina ready to unleash the curse, the extra vile of squid ink that he had with him made certain that he and Belle could spend their last hours in the Enchanted Forest together. It was during that time that they had come the closest to consummating their relationship that they ever had. Somehow, they managed to stop themselves, not wishing for a baby to come to their cursed selves unable to protect the child.
Entering Kieron’s (Killian’s) houseboat, there is the stench of whiskey, tobacco and something he just does not want to know about…in short the place is a sty. It somehow seems fitting for the swine. He smirks when he can hear Izzy-B chastising him in his head for insulting pigs. He finds an open whiskey bottle…cheap whiskey, of course and pours some of the pilfered drugs into the bottle. He saves back the rest of the stash for other purposes. The intuition that he acquired from the seer has begun to re-acclimate itself now that he remembers being Rumpelstiltskin, and he senses that he should head back. After all, he cannot do any more to Kieron, until after his release.
Driving past Izzy-B’s house at 2:45AM, Rumpelstiltskin observes her light is on and her silhouette can be seen pacing. He is tempted to knock on her door, but he realizes that he will have a tough time explaining why he is out so late after looking very ill hours before. Thus, he drives home.
At 3:03AM, after being home for ten minutes, Rumpelstiltskin hears a demanding knock on his door. In any other circumstance he would be ready to do bodily harm, yet he feels certain he knows who the unexpected visitor is. He opens the door to find a bleary-eyed Izzy-B with her hair pulled back in a haphazard ponytail, wearing a Rush t-shirt and sweatpants.
With a mixture of relief and annoyance etched on her face, she says tersely, “Well, you’re alive…that’s a good start. You could have called; I’ve been worried sick.”, as she marches into the house.
With a smirk, he says, “Good to see you too, dear.”
With her arms folded, she asks “Have you eaten?”
“Um…no, it slipped my mind.” he replies distractedly.
Rolling her eyes, she huffs, and marches into the kitchen and pulls from her purse three cans. “I’m not much of a cook.” He smirks, thinking that while McKenna was a wonderful cook, cooking was never Belle’s forte. She continues, “Your choices are chicken and rice, chicken noodle or chicken dumpling soup.”
He smirks, “That’s quite a selection of chicken soup.”
She retorts, “You seemed to think it works for everything.”
She turns away from the soup cans to look at him, when he does not give her a snappy comeback. Rumpelstiltskin takes a moment to process that Belle, from whom he has been separated from for twenty-eight years, is standing in his kitchen fretting over whether he has eaten. She reaches for him, brushing her hand through his hair. He looks at her in awe and longing and says, “I’ve missed you so much!”, and he pulls her into a kiss that literally makes her head spin. She holds one to him, kissing him back in a way that she hopes tells him what she is not yet ready to verbalize. She loves him in a way that feels like lifetimes, upon lifetimes of accumulated love. This love scares her, and yet it is all she wants.
As they pull themselves from the kiss, she continues to rake her fingers through is hair. Slowly trying to regain control of herself, she asks, “Which kind of soup would you like?”
He smiles softly and says, “Whichever’s your favorite is fine with me.”
She nods then says, “Alright then chicken and dumplings, it is. While I make this, I want you to go get out of that hideous shirt, take a shower because for some reason you smell like sweat and smoke and…”
He interrupts with a hopeful, “And…”
Sternly she says, “No, not that. You were seriously ill a few hours ago, so that is not happening. I want you to shower and get into pajamas or whatever you sleep in, because I expect you to go to bed after you eat…and not go into the shop first thing in the morning.”
In a serious tone, he says, “I’ll agree to your terms under one condition. You sleep here tonight instead of driving home. I have plenty of guestrooms.”
Remembering that the dogs have been already fed and walked for the night, she says, “You’ve got a deal. Now, get out of my way and get your shower.”, and she stands on her tip toes to give him a quick kiss.
As Rumpelstiltskin makes his way up the stairs out of earshot, he whispers, “I love you, Belle.”
Author’s Note: Please review/comment. Just for clarification, in reference to Izzy-B’s t-shirt, Rush is a band, and it is also Robert Carlyle’s character on Star Gate Universe, but the t-shirt that she is wearing is the band’s shirt. Just a heads up for readers, this story will be ending in a few chapters…however, there will be a sequel, Journey of Twin Souls.
Sorry this chapter was another heart breaker. For context, going back to the reincarnation aspect of this story, in chapter 6 during the dinner date at Gold’s house, Izzy-B voiced several reasons why she might not want to have children, one of which was the possibility of a child dying. In terms of reincarnation, you can draw a straight line from McKenna losing Angela to Izzy-B’s fear of having a child die. Izzy-B feels McKenna’s pain of losing a child.
In the next chapter, RumpleGold acts on his plan for Keiron/Killian and uses his “please” for the first time with Regina. (Cue maniacal laughter!) Izzy-B’s memories of the event with which Regina taunted her at the police station will be revealed, and she also reveals another point of concern about having children…RumpleGold’s response made me want to kiss him…but then again, that’s how I usually feel about RumpleGold.