Title: Variations
Fandom: Once Upon a Time
Pairing/Characters: Belle/Rumpelstiltskin
Warnings: implied violence and sexual situations
Word Count: 1,783
Spoilers: For episode 1.12
Disclaimer: Not mine!
A/N: I honestly cannot take credit for one of these scenarios. Alas, I cannot remember where I saw it, I think it was in the comments section of an article. Mad thanks go to fringedwellerfor the beta!

Summary: The thing about fairy tales? There is always another version. Five other ways Belle's story could have progressed.


1.

He stands there in the doorway, malevolent and fierce; his hands clenched into fists. Belle can see the fury and the magic sparking in the air around him, but he says nothing. The priests, brought in to fix her, to absolve her, to cleanse her, cower in a heap on the floor, their holy books and relics in front of their faces. Her father (not her Papa, no longer her Papa) has flattened himself against the wall shaking with fear.

Belle stands on unsteady legs, ignoring the fact she is only clad in a thin white shift, her battered arms and legs bare, and goes to him.

He tears his glare away from the holy men long enough to flicker over her and if anything, his glare becomes darker. Belle merely shakes her head and steps into the space beside him. His arm around her waist is firm and welcome.

"All right, love?" he says, and she clutches onto his shoulder, allowing him to take some of her weight, as she is unsure of her legs..

"Yes. Just…" She trails off.

"Just?"

"I rather wanted to save myself," she says honestly.

"I can go away if you'd like," he says close to her ear, his warm breath on her cool skin making her shiver.

"Oh, no," she says her fingers digging into the leather of his coat. "You're here now, you might as well stay."

He grins and it's terrible and yet, so dear and she grins back.

The priests make horrible sounds and her father seems to choke on his own air.

She finally looks at them and says, "Leave them."

"They deserve—" he says.

"Yes, they do," she says. "They deserve a great deal indeed." Her tone has them cowering even lower. "But, I will not have my blood cleansed with theirs."

"Are you sure, my Belle?" he asks and her father moans. She still does not look at him.

"I am," she says. "I will not return."

"No," he says, pulling her closer. "You will not."

They leave, walking slowly down the stairs, over the drawbridge, and into the forest, where a carriage is waiting. It is only once they reach the carriage that Belle permits him to lift her into his arms.

"Of course, you did save yourself," he says.

"How?" She tries not to wince as he gently settles onto the soft seat.

He leans forward and brushes a kiss to her forehead. "You saved me first," is all he says.

His statement is reminiscent of a bargain she doesn't remember saying aloud, but the thought alone is comforting. The carriage moves and she is lulled to sleep in his arms and her last thought is that if she did, in fact, save him first, it's only fair he returned the favour.

2.

He wrenches away from the kiss and Belle gasps in pain. There is a burning underneath her skin and a gnarling in her mind. She holds up her hands and watches as they turn green-grey. The gold by the spinning wheel takes on an unholy gleam when she looks at it and the sunlight is too bright in her eyes.

"What?" she manages, her voice going raw and high-pitched.

"You shouldn't have kissed me," he says weakly, his skin not quite as grey as it had been, his features not quite as sharp. She holds her hands to her face and can feel the lack of plumpness in her cheeks and lips.

"Oh, Belle," he says sounding wretched.

The sound of his pity enrages something inside of her and her eyes snap to his.

"What is this?" she asks, as ideas fit for tricksters and devils whirl through her mind.

"It's a curse, of course," he says, his voice still holds sorrow, but his eyes have turned calculating.

She looks at her hands and then back to him. "I think you have things to tell me."

"Oh," he breathes, a grin beginning to form on his face. "Yes. Yes, I do, dearie."

Belle feels something wicked and strong prickle in her mind, but she stamps it down.

"Start at the beginning," she says sharply. "And for once, youmake the tea."

3.

The kiss doesn't work.

Belle pulls away, feeling confused. Nothing has happened, apart from the surge of energy and fire threading through her veins at the feel of his lips moving against hers.

His face is a wonder, a mix of bewilderment and eagerness. Perhaps she needs to kiss him again? She leans up as he leans down and their lips meet again.

Belle forgets about breaking the curse.

All she can focus on is the way his mouth is warm and gentle on her. He smells of fields and the earth after it's been tilled. His tongue teases along the seam of her mouth and with a startled gasp, her lips part.

He tastes of honey and mead and it makes no sense compared to his appearance, but Belle cannot get enough. She lets her tongue glide against his and now he is the one to gasp.

His hands curve around her shoulders and he kneels on the floor next to her, her breasts pressing against his chest. She is lowered to the floor and the straw-gold crackles beneath her body.

Belle clutches at his shoulders as his kisses deepen, as her body reacts. His fingers are nimble and quick on her skin and she feels that he is spinning herinto something. Spinning her into sensations and desires and when his fingers slip beneath her skirts, she arches to meet them.

Soon her breathing is fast and shallow and his fingers are still spinning her, spinning her into pieces, spinning her apart, spinning, spinning, spinning…

When she finally catches her breath and looks at him, she isn't sad to see that he is still him, green-grey and cursed. Belle smiles and runs her hand over his cheek.

"Why?" he asks, his voice strained and tense, as though he is still holding back. And while Belle is still a maid (although, perhaps not for much longer, a voice in her mind whispers), she knows that he has not found his own release.

"Why?" she repeats.

"Yes," he says. "Why did you kiss me?"

"I wanted to see what would happen," she answers truthfully.

"And is your curiosity…sated?" he asks, lowering himself slowly onto her body.

Belle thinks. She remembers how the kiss was supposed to break the curse and she pauses. Perhaps she doesn't love him enough? Perhaps…

She slides her fingers through his hair and smiles. "I think my curiosity has only just been piqued."

He grins and lowers his head.

4.

"…an empty heart and a chipped cup."

She turns to go, but is stopped by a hand lightly circling her wrist. It is the lack of force that makes her turn in shock.

"I…" He cannot seem to look at her and yet she cannot look away. "I have many stories, Belle."

She feels her heart stutter at the use of her name. She swallows hard and says, "I imagine you do."

"I…would like to tell them to you," he says. "If you would listen."

Belle studies him. Then says, "Look at me."

It takes him a moment, but eventually he turns his head and meets her gaze.

"As you are so very fond of them," Belle says. "I will make you a deal."

His face tightens and tilts slightly. "Be very careful now, love."

Belle feels a surge of power upon hearing the endearment. "I will listen to your stories, and mind you, they must be the truth. In return, you will never lay your hands upon me in anger again, nor will you throw me into this prison."

He bows his head in acquiescence. "You have my word."

"And—" Belle continues.

"'And'?" he says raising his eyebrows. "You cannot simply tack an addendum to a deal, Belle."

"I'm new at this," she says archly. "Andyou will grant me the freedom to leave whenever I want."

The tightness leaves his face and his mouth gentles to an almost-smile.

"Oh, my dear," he says. "You always had that."

Belle nods stiffly in return and steps away, letting her hand slide through the circle of his fingers. She gently entwines her fingers with his and tugs. Puzzled, he looks down at their hands.

"You promised me stories," she says.

"So I did," he nods. He looks up from their clasped hands. He follows Belle as she leads them upstairs for a cup of tea and a long overdue conversation.

5.

She saves herself. She gets past the guards and the priests and runs into the forest. However, she cannot fight against blood loss and exhaustion and eventually succumbs to both in the hollow of a tree.

When she comes to, she is slumped in a black carriage, the woman in black, the queen, seated across from her.

Belle's heart sinks.

"Well, I must say," the queen says looking smug. "You certainly are a fighter. Well done you. I had no idea you had it in you."

Belle says nothing.

"Oh, don't look so disappointed, pet," the queen says. "It's not a reflection upon you. No one is a match for me, I'm afraid."

"He is," Belle says, her voice as dry and cracked as her hands and feet.

There is a flash of anger in the other woman's face.

"Did it work?" the queen asks, all civility gone from her voice. "The kiss. Did it work?"

Suddenly Belle knows what she must do. She now understands that this is a battle between this woman and him. She is merely a pawn that got too close. This is beyond her own small province and her own needs and desires; beyond her own will and her life. While she is heartbroken and furious with himand even though the idea of vengeance surfaces, oh so briefly in her mind, Belle will not submit to this woman. This…evil.

"No," Belle lies. "It didn't work."

The last thing Belle sees is the woman's face harden and her raised hand.


And then Belle wakes up.

But that is another story.