Based on the song Ghost by Ella Henderson
Belle slid down by the old wishing well in the woods, away from the prying eyes of her friends and the town, tears streaming down her face. She came here almost every night.
During the day she smiled and laughed. She hung out with Will Scarlet; she ran around with the heroes, she helped look for the author. They called her a hero; told her she had protected the town.
She wished she hadn't. She wished she had left with him. She wished many things had gone differently and maybe that was what drove her to come visit the wishing well alone at night.
The wishing well was after all, where he had first told her he loved her. It was where they had first kissed. And it was hidden in the middle of the woods, so no one would know she was here.
It had been three weeks since she had banished Rumpelstiltskin from Storybrooke. He would never return.
The first week she had been so angry with him. She had been mad that he had lied to her, broken promises to her, that he had tried to kill Hook, that he had almost killed the Faeries and the old sorcerer, and that he was going to take her from Storybrooke knowing full well they could never return without telling her that.
And the second week she had been mad at herself. Mad that she had used the dagger against him twice, mad that she had misunderstood the gauntlet, mad that she had banished him before he could explain anything, mad that she had thought he would love his dagger more than her, mad that she had tried to change him, mad that she had not loved all of him as she had once told Bae she had.
But by the third week all of her anger had left her. She was just sad. She missed him desperately and yet it had begun to sink in that he was never coming back. She pretended to be fine in town but she could care less whether they found the author or not. He would not bring her happy ending and she did not want it if it was not with Rumpelstiltskin.
So now here she was, sitting by the old wishing well, crying her eyes out. She wondered sometimes if she kept this up if she would eventually run out of tears. That day had yet to come.
And then she heard a voice whisper, "Are you okay?"
It was his voice and she jumped up, looking around frantically. He was nowhere to be found and she laughed at herself.
"Great." She said out loud to herself, "Now I am going crazy too."
"You're not crazy." The voice responded and frantically she searched all the woods for a sign of him but saw none.
She tensed, ready to run or fight, unsure of where his voice was coming from.
"Show yourself!" She demanded, wiping her face and putting a brave expression on, "How dare you be so cruel as to use his voice!" She yelled, screaming into the night.
"Cruel?" His voice whispered, "I think that is you, dearie." And then he appeared in front of her, coming seemingly from nowhere.
She gasped and stepped back for there in front of her was Rumpelstiltskin himself.
Except, as she looked closer, it wasn't exactly him. He looked almost as he had in the Enchanted Forest. Gold scales and clawed fingers, wavy hair and reptilian eyes. The only difference was that he was pale and slightly transparent. In fact his skin was not gold at all but translucent.
She stepped forward and went to brush his face, to check if he was real. Her hand slid right through him though and she immediately screamed in shock and stepped back.
"What are you?" She gasped and then looking at his face she stepped closer again, "Is it really you?"
"Hello dear" Rumple said without a smile, "It is me, in a way. It seems I can't even die properly."
"You're dead?" She asked softly, tears threatening to fall again.
"You care?" He retorted sarcastically.
"Of course I care!" She yelled, exasperated.
He didn't respond so she continued asking hesitantly, "Are you a ghost?"
"Basically, yes." He replied.
"How?" She asked, wishing desperately that she could touch him without her hand running through him.
"You banished me. Outside of Storybrooke, I am not immortal. You left me with nothing, Belle. No money, no clothes, no food, no way to get anywhere. At first, I tried to survive. I sold some of the things I had on me and with it I traveled to New York. But once I got there I realized that I had no plan. I had nothing in which to do and for the first time I saw your banishment as a gift."
He paused and looked at her sadly. "Belle, I've lived too long. No one should live as long as I have. Immortality is not a gift, but a curse. I should have died when I sacrificed myself so that you and Bae could live."
He was getting angry now, Belle wasn't sure if it was at her or at the world in general.
He continued his voice getting louder. "That was how it was supposed to end! I was supposed to die so that my son could live! So that you could live! And instead you two brought me back. Brought me back to be tortured and caged for a year. You should have let me die! You should have taken me from his body and let my son live! I should have three hundred years ago anyway."
If ghosts could cry, he would have and Belle was crying now. Silent tears, streaming down her face as she listened to her husband tell her he wished she had let him die.
"But you didn't. And I was alive and I had you so it was okay. I could live for you. But I couldn't be a slave, not again. Not to anyone. No one can be trusted with the dagger, not even you, and you sure proved that."
At this he let out a strangled laugh as though it was some how funny she had betrayed him just like all the other woman he had loved had.
"And Belle, I'm so sorry I lied to you. But you wanted me to be someone I couldn't be. I was too afraid of the dagger to do anything but find a way to free myself from it. The hat was that, it was a way for me to finally be free."
He walked toward her and she felt his hand lay lightly on her shoulder. It felt as though a cloud was touching her and she almost gasped at the chill.
"I never loved power more than you. Never. I realized in New York that I could live without power, but I could not live without you. And really I had nothing anymore, so I found a knife. One that looked just like my dagger and I stabbed it into my heart. And I died and it was glorious. I felt no pain, only freedom. Freedom from the dark curse, freedom from suffering, freedom from this world."
He laughed again, the sound was bitter and cold.
"But even then the dagger controlled me. My body may have been mortal but my soul was not. My soul is connected to the dagger. It can never die."
"And so you are a ghost?"
"Yes." Rumple sighed. "Forever stuck to haunt whoever has the dagger."
"But I don't have it." Belle replied, confused.
"No, you've been passing it around to anyone who wants it." He accused her.
"I thought it was just a dagger now. I didn't think it had any power and I needed to find someone who could get rid of it." Belle tried to explain to him.
"No one will be able to destroy it. Instead they just buried it. Now I am free to haunt who I like." He smiled evilly at her.
"So you chose to haunt me?" She asked, unsure what his intentions were.
"Yes dear, you are after all my wife. I see you are still wearing the ring. Your punishment for my banishment shall be me eternally haunting you." He grinned but it didn't reach his eyes.
"Rumple," She tried to touch him again and found that she could hover her hand over where his cheek was and it was almost as though she was touching him. "I'm so sorry. I love you. I didn't know, I didn't understand." She was crying again now.
"It doesn't matter now Belle." He sighed, "We both made mistakes. I'm sorry that I lied to you and that I betrayed your trust. But most of all I'm sorry that I ever made a deal for you. If I had never met you, you would have been Gaston's wife. You would have lived a life of nobility and luxury. Or maybe you would have left Avolonea and explored the realm. You would have had countless adventures and always came out the hero. But it's to late for that.
"I didn't want any of that." She looked at him defiantly and then softened, "All I wanted was you."
He laughed again at the irony that they were finally talking only now that he was dead.
"It's too late now." He looked down, "But if you want I shall leave you alone the rest of your mortal life."
"No." Belle said almost immediately, "No, don't leave."
And so he stayed for the rest of Belle's life, the ghost of Rumpelstiltksin, haunting her. She never went on another date. Never kissed another man. Every bit of happiness in her life was just a bit scarred by the knowledge that he was watching but could not be part of it.
Sometimes she thought about asking him to leave her alone but then she would look at him and she could never utter the words. She had told him to leave once and look what happened. No, she always decided, his ghost was better than anything else.
He thought the same way sometimes. He saw the pain he caused her and he wanted to leave. But he had never been good at giving up things he loved and so he stayed. Always watching over her. Around, but almost never visible.
She died eventually, sad and alone, with only a ghost watching over her grave.
Hundreds of years past and the people of the Enchanted Forest no longer live in Storybrooke. They died centuries ago and now their descendants live in the town. The stories began to become just fairy tales as they passed from generation.
There was one story that the adults loved to tell the children in order to keep them away from the graveyard and from staying out too late.
It was a tale of magical sorcerer who loved a beautiful woman. But he hurt her and so she betrayed him and he died. It is said in the story that he came back to haunt her until her death and now watches over her gravestone, haunting the cemetery of Storybrooke late at night, scaring lovers who passed too close until they ran into the woods, sometimes getting lost and never coming back. The people that disappear are never seen again.
No one ever connected the dots but the people that disappeared were the ones with unknown magical abilities from their great ancestors.
Slowly over hundreds and hundreds of years, the ghost of Rumpelstiltskin found all the magic in Storybrooke and trapped it in the hat that centuries ago had led him to his doom. Then he used it as he had been planning to all those years ago and freed himself from the dagger.
He did not want power. He wanted death, and without the dagger holding his soul to the Earth, he finally got it.