Author's Note: Okay, who else has a new OTP after that last episode of Once Upon A Time ("Skin Deep")? I was inflicted with all kinds of fangirlish-madness when I watched it and I couldn't stop. I tried to channel it through into a story and here's what came of it. The first part takes place in their fairytale, the second part takes place in Storybrooke. Hope it satisfies those who have also fallen for the RumpelstiltskinxBelle ship!
Disclaimer: Don't own anything of Once Upon A Time.
She never told him, but she kept it.
That time she dropped the cup and split its side, the trivial fragment of porcelain bleeding white against his dark carpet somehow found its way into her hand and simply never left. Whenever she moved around the castle it came along, cradled it her hand as a small reminder that he wasn't at all what he had seemed. Her frantic and numerous apologies that day were spoken out of fear – it was well known that monsters loved pain and punishment above all else that they'd take any excuse to dish it out.
But her clumsy fumble had been "just a cup" and her fear towards him reduced to about the size of the chip on the floor.
It soon became a bit of a bother though, cutting her fingers every time she caressed it and sending her heart into spasms when she forgot where she had set it down. So, being the creative woman that she was, she sewed a little hidden pocket inside a sleeve of each of her dresses – a place it would be harmless and secure, a place where she could easily reach and know that she still held his kindness.
Even in her nightgown was there a pocket for the meager bit to rest beside her in sleep. Every night, without fail, she slept well in the castle; even though the dungeon – was it still a dungeon if he had furnished it for her? – remained her room, her secret treasure kept warm against her shoulder while a deeper secret kept warm against her heart.
It wasn't until after she kissed him that she fell into her dreams with tears on her face and ice against her skin, the comfort of the porcelain chip against her shoulder unable to be felt.
Even the two times she had left the castle, though she brought little else, that piece was something she made sure to bring with her. In the times she most doubted herself, or times of the harshest 'cleansing', it was something she could use to prove what she knew to be true – that her feelings weren't a sign of madness like they said, but of true love.
If only it wouldn't prick her fingers when she squeezed it tight.
If only it wouldn't nick her lips each time she kissed it.
People thought they knew everything.
That was a lie. A delusion. A hallucination, mirage, illusion. It was everything they said she had.
But she knew better. Because she knew everything.
Or, at least, everything there was to know. Everything important.
Like that people made mistakes. That no one actually helps her even though they call this place a hospital. That she could be helped because sunshine was healthy and that's why everyone down here was so sick. That madness is freedom. That love is madness.
She doesn't quite know how she knows the last one, only that she does and that it's true.
She knows why she knows that porcelain hurts though. The tiny white chip, once carelessly swept under her bed along with dust and dirt and hair, has sharp edges that make her hands bleed whenever she traces its shape.
No one knows she has it. (That's why she knows that people don't know everything.)
Except for her. (That's why she knows that she does.)
She wonders where the piece came from. Every piece comes from something whole – even if that whole is long shattered. Though she doesn't think the whole that this came from is shattered. There would be other bits – some tinier than the one she holds – underneath her bed if whatever it was had broken into several pieces.
Eyeing her precious treasure, she wonders if she'll ever see what it came from. If the piece will ever find its whole again.
She thinks it will. It's frustrating not knowing when you know everything but it gives her things to dream about at night, when she falls asleep with it cradled in her hands.