Hi everyone! Sorry about my hiatus. Life has been keeping me from writing, but I'm going to make more of an effort I promise! Here is the second half of the last chapter! Enjoy and I'd love to know what you think!
Belle and Emma strolled down Main Street. Emma had insisted that they get things called 'milkshakes'. Belle played along and cooed about how long it had been since she had one. They were quite enjoyable in fact, if not a bit too sweet.
"So Paige, tell me about you first few days. Everything going alright? " Emma asked.
Her mind immediately wandered to a warm smile and brown eyes. Those things were certainly going alright. She pushed the thoughts back and continued playing her role.
"Yes, it's a little strange though. People don't know me, they kind of look at me sideways sometimes. Like they know about… about my hospital stay," Belle whispered the last part.
Emma nodded, "I'm sure they do. Nothing is sacred here. But, I don't want you to worry."
"I'm… I'm trying not to."
"Good, you're the new girl. They were going to talk anyways. Especially since you're so pretty," Emma elbowed Belle's side.
She blushed, "Come on."
"You are! I cannot believe the change in you since the fire. You looked like a zombie when I pulled you out of there. Now, it's like life has been breathed back into you."
"I felt like a zombie. To smell fresh air, it can do wonders."
"I'm glad," Emma told her.
Belle sighed heavily. Emma had no idea how right she was. Her time in the hospital was not pleasant and she remembered retreating into herself to survive. Grasping on to precious memories. Memories of her mother's laugh, her father's worry when she would skin her knee. And most of all, memories of her time in the Dark Castle.
When you live entirely in your head, the body becomes less important.
That first time in the light had brought her out of her head. Not the glaring florescent light of her cell, but the beautiful grey overcast blanket that lay atop Storybrooke. She wondered whether anyone else in the world had ever been so stunned by a cloudy sky. There were people bustling around, talking about their lives. All kinds of strange smells and foods, of which her false memories told her were which favorites but Belle had her doubts. She had spent so much time planning and dreaming, and it was finally time to put it to motion. She was out and taking control of her fate. That will make anyone come back to life.
That and reuniting with the person you love most.
Belle had to actively work against the smile that played at her lips all day. It was much more difficult than she imagined. She had not been back to see Rumpelstiltskin since that first night in hopes that it would help with the butterflies darting about in her stomach.
She was grateful that she hadn't run into him in town either. She suspected that he was purposely avoiding her. Whether that was for her benefit or his own, she couldn't say.
"When do you start at the Mirror?" Emma asked with a scowl on her face.
"Next week… you don't like the Mirror?" Belle surmised.
Emma looked apologetic, "It's not the paper itself, it's the people who run it."
"Who, Sidney?" Belle asked, knowing fully well that Emma didn't mean Sidney.
Emma grimaced, "Well, he's not my favorite, but it's really Regina I mean."
"But, she's been so kind to me," Belle lied.
"I know, I know. I'm glad for that. But, she and I don't exactly get along. It's complicated."
Belle nodded, "I understand complicated, trust me."
Just then complicated turned around the corner across the street from them. It would happen that she had just been thinking about how grateful she was that Rum had stayed away from her. She internally rolled her eyes and thanked her stars that more people than just Emma were around to see this.
Belle let Paige take over. She stopped Emma with a hard hand on her shoulder.
"Emma…" she said, her voice a little louder, a little rougher than normal. She pointed to the thin man limping towards the corner of the street. Belle hid behind the Sheriff, peeking over her shoulder at Storybrooke's most feared man.
"Paige, were in the middle of downtown, he's not going to…" as Emma spoke she turned to look at Belle. The look on her face made all of Emma's careful logic go right out the window. This poor girl looked so frightened.
What had happened to her?
Emma quickly wrapped an arm around her, "You stay right here, I'll handle this."
"Emma! Don't!" Belle shouted after her as Emma strode across the street towards Gold.
"You need to turn around, Gold."
Gold smirked at the Sheriff. "I've done nothing wrong here. It is not my fault that a mad woman thinks I'm after her." He peered across the street. Belle was leaning against a building, her arms wrapped tightly around herself.
It's an act, He thought. She's not afraid of you.
But damn it she was convincing.
"Hey!" Emma snapped her fingers in front of Gold's face, bringing his attention back to her, "If you're going to feed me that line of bull, at least try not to stare daggers at her while I'm standing right here!"
"My apologies, Sheriff."
"Just stay away from her Gold," Emma sneered and stalked back over to his Belle. Emma put her hands on Belle's shoulders and gifted him with one last glare before he turned and limped away.
The townspeople around him were staring at him. This was certainly a break in the norm. Usually the avoided his gaze, too frightened to acknowledge his existence. But, now that there someone even MORE afraid of him than they were… it was circus. By nightfall, the entire town would be ignited with stories about how boogie man Gold scared the wits out of a mental patient.
Only he was safely back in the confines of his home did he allow himself time to grieve. This was torture of the worst variety. He went about the motions, preparing a small dinner for himself and pretending to watch the news on television. But, his mind was consumed with thoughts of her. It was all wrong to see her look so afraid. He was glad at least, that she seemed to have a friend in Emma. Another set of friendly eyes on her couldn't hurt. He knew that Regina would be watching her as well and nothing good could come of that.
Before he knew it, it had gotten dark outside. Gold gathered up his dishes from supper and carried them back into the kitchen. He lazily scrubbed them, not really paying attention to if they were clean or not. He turned off the running water just in time to hear a small creak from behind him. His ear perked up, but he did not turn. His house was old. Old houses creaked. They did not, however, speak.
"Doing the dishes? I never thought I'd see the day."
His head popped up and he whirled around. There she was. She leaned against the door frame with a mischievous smile on her lips.
"I don't know about you, love. But someone breaking into your house on a regular basis might be cause for a return to the mundane."
She wrinkled her nose at him, "I've only broken in twice."
"Perhaps you should have a key then. Save me from anymore surprises."
She smiled at that, "But, I like breaking in."
He shook his head slowly, "I'm certain you do. I'm… I'm sorry about today."
She moved towards him, "Don't be. This is exactly what needs to happen. The town needs to see. They need to be on my side."
His brows furrowed together, "I'm already a villain, Belle. I don't need any help from you."
She reached his side and took his hand in hers, "Trust me. Everyone loves a good story. Villain or not."
He smiled down at her, "I'm glad you're here."
"I wasn't going to come. I thought it would make it harder on us. But, after today I discovered I was wrong." Her eyes pierced into his.
He kissed her knuckles, "And how did you come to that conclusion?"
"Because I need to be reminded of why I'm putting myself through all this in the first place."
"And have you reminded yourself?"
"Not yet," Her lips quivered.
He placed a warm hand on her cheek and pulled her lips to his.