Blame it on the gin

The gag was taken away from his mouth and the breath he finally took gave him the relief of freedom. But it was just a moment though, because that freedom had been given and the enigmatic expression on the woman's face didn't let imagine anything good.

"I'm happy to be alone with you, If I have to speak the truth" he said, trying to use a vaguely mischievous tone, in spite of everything.

But his usual persuader-like plan didn't seem to surprise the witch, maybe just because she did know how to persuade better, after all.

"Mmm, beside the beautiful face, you also talk good…" she simply replied, looking almost ravenously at his body. "A good piece of timber, indeed" she commented then, hinting a pleasant smile.

August tried to smile back, while he watched her sitting in front of him and crossing her legs in an undeniably sensual way. She was a gorgeous woman, one of those that would have driven him crazy some years before, one of those he had missed while he had turned into a boy again. He wasn't entirely lying when he said that he didn't mind being left alone with her, but he would have preferred better occasions, indeed. For example, not being a prisoner and not having the legs still tied to the chair.

"What do I owe this partial liberation to? Actually there are a few things we could do together…"

The new attempt was covered by Cruella's amused chuckle and in a catlike reaction she stood up again, only to grab a bottle of gin and two shots.

"I wouldn't have untied you at all if I had those intentions, darling" she simply replied, placing everything on the little table between them.

And the candor she had used to say that sentence let understand that it wasn't just about an empty allusion. The man swallowed hard, perceiving a shiver of fear but at the same time also an absurd feeling of arousal at that thought, and thought better not to say anything. In fact, he remained in silence just looking at her while pouring the drink with wise precision, waiting for her to speak and explain the plan of the evening.

"Rumple is convinced that magic can solve any problem, but in my opinion there is a quicker way to find out the truth from you…" she started to say after a while, moving her look from the now full little glasses to him. "And this way is called gin"

Pinocchio raised both his eyebrows, surprised in front of the just revealed prospect, and then slowly let out an incredulous - and maybe also nervous - chuckle. Deceiving magic was one thing, deceiving alcohol… Well, that would have been terribly more difficult.

"And what makes you think that I will accept to drink?"

But the objection, completely reasonable in his mind, was welcomed by a bored look and a heavy sigh.

"Because we will play a game, darling" she replied, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "I believe that the child inside of you wants to play…"

Even the adult – August would have liked to precise, even if he shouldn't have even thought of something like that.

"And which are the rules?" he found himself asking instead, choosing a compromise between curiosity and diffidence.

Cruella raised the angles of her mouth, giving him a kind smile, almost as a reward for that collaborative answer. Then, relieved to be spared from useless threats and/or further attempts of persuasion, she relaxed against the armchair and removed the precious fur from her shoulders. Something was telling her that the atmosphere would have got pretty hot soon.

"It's simple" she spoke up after a short silence. "I will make a statement about you and if that's true, you drink"

"Mmm" he murmured, considering the matter; then suddenly his eyes widened and an amused sound escaped his lips "But where have you heard about this game? On Game of Thrones?"

Cruella appeared for a moment clearly confused, but then, deciding to ignore that obscure reference, she simply pointed with a hand to the shots, inviting at the same time the man to remember who was in charge there.

"You know who the author is" she said then, bluntly.

August looked surprised for a moment, but not too much since that question had been at the centre of the constant interrogatory of the last two days. In any case, he just kept staring at her, not hinting to move and

his eyes suggested a provocative demeanor.

"You know where the author is" she tried again, but the result was pratically the same.

An annoyed sigh came out from Cruella's mouth this time, as, not caring for the games' rules, she decided to grab one of the two glasses and started to drink it spontaneously. Only after a generous sip, the smile was back on her lips and a flash of pure excitement suddenly crossed her look.

It was time to let Rumple and the others' needs go, and give instead some space to her own curiosities.

"Now you would like to have me closer."

She sticked out more toward him, letting the neckline of his black tight shirt reveal more than usual and, if words hadn't convinced him so far, that gesture surely succeeded in that moment. In fact, August didn't hesitate much this time before moving his hand on the table – first gesture he was making since he had it free – and, not looking away from Cruella, he drunk in just one sip the whole content of the shot.

The game had officially started.

"You always wanted not to be an ordinary person"

Cruella widened her eyes at that curios and precise choice of words, but she was quick to mask her own surprise and guzzled down another shot, anyway. At some point in the game, it was still unkonwn how, August had started to make statements about her as well and now that was already the third dose of gin she was taking as admission of defeat. The man had still drunk more, though.

"At some point, you had something for the Charmings' daughter"

Surprised but also a bit embarassed expression. Shot.

"You have been married, but you did that just for money"

Amused smirk, but also some bitterness in it. Shot.

"You have never really fallen in love, wooden boy"

Some seconds of silence, nervous chuckle without apparent reason. Maybe it was the gin's fault. Another shot.

"Neither have you"

No hesitation. Another shot.

Other questions, other shots, other gin in their systems.

That dangerous triadic way ended just for necessity; they didn't know who exactly had taken the last sip of alcohol, but soon the bottle of gin was empty between them. They weren't drunk, just a bit tipsy and that wasn't enough to dispel from their mind the absurdity of the situation. They kept staring in each other's eyes and for a while none of them dared to speak; too many things had been told, too many truths revealed and they both had found suddenly an open door for the other's soul, without even asking for that.

That was just a game after all, but they had been playing with fire and you can end up burned. And for a piece of timber, well, the risk was even higher.

It wasn't a word, but an unexpected move to interrupt that strange atmosphere of waiting. In fact, Cruella suddenly stood up from her armchair and slowly – this time because of the slight haze of alcohol rather than for an attempt of seduction - started to move toward him, until she made their faces dangerously close. Surprised by that initiative and undeniably interested in it, August was about to shorten the distance even more, staring ravenously at her red lips; however, before he could reach for his aim, the animal witch backed out of the possible contact and instead bent down on one knee, unexpectedly untying his ankles.

"What is that supposed to mean?"

August's question fell into silence and the only answer to his astonishment for that apparently meaningless gesture was a simple shrug and an enigmatic expression. Did she really want to set him free? Had maybe something happened in that half hour of forced acquaintance, that led her to make a heroic choice? That all sounded terribly strange and her look didn't help him figuring the matter out. In any case, the chance of escaping was too importat to lose it: he was a hero, he had to come back to his father, he had to inform Emma, he had to keep the secret about the author, he had to…

It was unpredictable how easy the list of duties suddenly interrupted in his mind. In fact, if at first he had moved instinctively some steps to the door – with all the slowness that the alcohol and the weakness of the long tied feet requested -, at last he seemed to think it over. With hesitation, he turned back to the woman, just to find her in the same place he had left her. It was a moment and, in a sudden and with unexpectedly quickness now, he came back and reached for her, grabbing her gently but firmly by the waist and attracting her to him. Before she could even think about wiggling out of that grip, August kissed her with passion and almost aggressiveness, finally satisfying his desire for those lips; but Cruella didn't have any intentions to step back anyway, on the contrary she was quick to kiss him back, making their tongues meet as well. Nevertheless, while their hands were starting to explore each other's body, the woman slightly distanced herself and, with an openly mischievous smile, gently pushed him, in order to make him sit on the same armchair she had been sitting in until some minutes before.

"I knew you were a bad boy…" she whispered and then sat on him, reclaiming his lips again.

August looked for a moment confused; clearly that permission of escape was just a way to put him to the test and in that case he had disappointed all the standards for a hero. Maybe Cruella was right: he was a bad guy after all and he would have never learnt from his mistakes. In the meanwhile he simply chuckled against her lips and attracted her more to him.

He could have blamed it on the gin. But unluckily – or luckily – he hadn't drunk it enough to forget that weakness in the daylight.

I know I'm shipping Cruella with anyone, but honestly, this is something that should have happened ;)