EDITED: Soo, after being long absent from the writing aspect of FFnet for some time now (I always blame school, but it truly is a significant factor as to why I haven't been writing), I decided to try to wedge myself into the Once Upon A Time fandom and write a Rumbelle fic. Who doesn't love Rumbelle? I'm actually terrified of putting this out here because I have done very little editing since finishing this one-shot, but I just wanted to see the reaction it got from a few readers. It's quite different compared to some of the fics I've been reading out there in the way I wrote it, so I am laying this story out for you readers to critique it and comment on it as much as you can. I hope I can please some readers and writers of this fandom, for I'm a little bit rusty since my long-awaited return to FFnet again. Enjoy! Reviews would be lovely! (A/N: I have decided this will be part one of a three part one-shot, so expect more to come! Additionally, I have recently heavily edited this story and added about 300 more words to the plot!)

"Believing even in the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing."
–Mary Margaret Blanchard


A drop of dew created from what little condensation formed on the tiny window to the cell trailed down in a tiny rivulet, settling on the smooth skin of Belle's forehead. Its cold touch stretched out like the hand of a stranger and roused her from another restless sleep with a jolt, warning her of that predetermined moment where her specially-crafted poison would murder her dreams into a singular illusion of nothingness. A groan escaped her lips, but she refrained from opening her eyes, for opening them to this miserable unreality meant she would sink under the force of a wave doomed to wash away her memories of another place—a place only she can recall in the deep recesses of sleep. These nightly visions were her sole comfort in this dastardly place of stale dust and pungent sanitization; they had been a curious warmth when there was no other body to hold her, no rumbling voice filling her heart with exultation and security. That person was only allowed to reach out to her on the other side of her eyes, and even then the sudden flashes of his face have often been wiped from existence upon the second her slumbering ends. The jingle of keys had drawn nearer to her cell, metal sliding into the hollow socket of the lock and turning ever so slightly to the right to unify Belle with her worst nightmare.

Heels clicked into the tiny room, belonging to a woman dressed in a rather lackluster white dress who sauntered in quietly. A small metal tray sat in the palm of her hand, and on the cold hard surface of the tray laid the source of her daily despair. Belle clung desperately to the images while they slowly dissipated into the back of her mind, letting another long lost memory left to be forgotten for the thousandth time as her eyes flew open.

She sat up cautiously from her padded bed, mouth drawn into a visible straight line at the sight of her wretched adversary. How long had this woman been assigned to keeping this girl locked away from the world, making her forget that she even existed in such a place when all she has known was the structure of the cell, her eternal prison? Belle's lips tightening ever more, she found herself repeating the very same question she had asked the sour-faced woman on a regular basis. The brunette expected nothing but a look of contempt and distaste shot in her direction before the imminent struggle with the needle. "Can you tell me who I am?"

The woman would proceed like she has now with a flick against the glass of the syringe, a light push to release any air bubbles in the hollow tube, approaching Belle at a slow and watchful gait meant to put the girl at ease. Belle was wise enough to know that evil came in all forms, whether this knowledge had been preordained or self-taught, she would never know. But Nurse Ratched's demeanor had always been so disgustingly sweet since as far back as she can remember, and she reminded herself of this each time the injection was administered—Ratched was the ward of this holding for a reason: her evil lurked beneath that thick skin of hers, and surely no one can seek out this wretchedness when eyes fell on the face of pristine goodness she had so diligently sculpted. Thus, after an unimaginable couple decades in this wasteland (she was estimating around three as of late—what else could a girl do with time to kill for the remainder of her life?) and to Belle's shock, Ratched tossed a fascinated glance in her direction and smiled. The woman's grin chilled her to the core. It bore no compassion, no warmth, no trace of salvation—only straight-laced mockery for the girl who could no longer remember who she was in this world. That smile had come from the pit of her rotten heart, saved solely for Belle to bear witness to. She was, after all, Ratched's most favorite patient.

Nurse Ratched merely answered, "You are a pawn." Four words spoken after several years of persistent medication and unspoken answers had been enough to spark the young woman's memory like oil to a flame. It felt like she had been whipped back, toppled over by a force unexplained in the barrenness of reality. Her body lit aflame from the inside; the whipping, the flaying, the chains, they are all perpetually present on her skin. The dark eyes so curious in the vicinity of the cell door they frequented struck a chord in her memory, putting the eyes to a name responsible for a lifetime of pain she endured after leaving him. And lastly, his face is omnipresent in her mind—the quirk of his mischievous grin, the way his hand outstretches toward her in question, the silent longing hidden in his unearthly eyes. The kiss.

One should never underestimate the power of a kiss. When the act is committed without sentiment as a mere desire for intimacy, it is an act with neither cause nor intended thought and therefore carries no meaning from one life to the next. When a kiss is committed to with unresolved feeling and requited passion, a kiss that is meant for the unification of two souls, an unbreakable bond is forged. No matter the destiny of the two souls who create this union, even when innumerable dead ends and forks in life's road are determined to sever the couple's love for an eternity; when they have thrown briny thorns and brambles in their paths, that bond linking the two in perfect harmony with one another strung also a tiny thread of hope from heart-to-heart. This hope carried with it a faint memory of the love the couple shared in their hearts, and intentions of the pair becoming united once again. And once upon a time, Belle had partaken in such an act with her destined. The memories that pierced the veil of fog in the confines of her mind assured her of that fact nightly. She gritted her teeth, nails digging into the skin of her head from the pain of it all coming back to her, and soon an awakened Belle felt herself struggling against the woman with the syringe, knowing all too well that everything would be ripped out from under her again… and he would be lost to her for the thousandth time.

Belle cannot recall on one hand a moment when the images of her distant past reached out to her in the waking hours of day, but the struggles with this woman and that very syringe haunted her day-by-day. She had fought against its amnesiac properties a hundred times previously; clenching shut the doors of her mind to keep one last memory to herself before her mind became the epitome of oblivion again.

Ratched moved forward to restrain her, slapping her into submission and forcing the tip of the needle dangerously close to Belle's tender skin. She screamed out in defiance and swung her limbs every which way to blockade the invasion of the poison. She had to fight for this freedom to remember, even if it meant being beaten into forgetting. It had happened to her in the past, and Belle was sure she could endure such a tragedy again. Two other individuals dressed in the monster's likeness filtered into the room, seizing hold of her arms and legs in a tight vice. Belle struggled against them as well, but happy endings were not her forte, and she knew there would be no savior.
Tears had been running off of Belle's face in rivers as she kicked and punched and sobbed. The men in white coats had her in a death grip, freezing her limbs into a reluctant stillness in preparation for that dose of poison.

"I'll be back again," she whispers, voice unwavering and strong. In her last moments of clarity, she would be brave. Her baby blues found the frozen orbs of the nurse and they momentarily narrowed in spite. "I will find him, no matter the price I have to pay." Belle swallowed, biting back the last of her tears. If it only took a couple of words to remember a lifetime, she suspected this occurrence would happen again. "I always come back." Defeat is not an option. Victory will be in her grasp if it takes another 28 years to do so.

Nurse Ratched stared back with equal force, the curvature in her mouth twitching upwards into a sneer. "We shall see."

And then the needle went under.

And then Belle went under with it.

The medicine drowned her, throwing her body into convulsions as the liquid swallowed every fragment of who she is one-by-one. This poison sought no end in bringing her misery to a halt; it paid no sympathy to the emptiness she now felt. Belle's mind slowly drained into a pool of nothingness, wiped clean for a new day.

She has no name anymore.

She does not exist.

The struggling stopped as the needle retracted from her veins, silencing her. She observed with wide eyes the three people witnessing her spasm, puzzled as to why they were holding her down. Her mind lay cloudy, blockaded, and numb. Something paper-thin slept dormant behind the door she could not unlock in her thoughts, and it appeared to appease the three workers in white for her forgetfulness.

One stepped forward, the familiar woman, Ratched, and asked, "Do you know who you are?"

"No," said the mental patient. "But," she hesitated. "I know someone who does," the patient gleamed. "There's this man, though he's not a man, who humors me in my dreams." Her eyes looked distant, unclear. "His words are like fire in my veins… he makes me feel alive again… but he is only a voice in my mind. He said he knows—"

"Belle." The four of them turn to face the man in the doorway, who had a look of hellfire and devotion on his pale and strangely human face. She breathed inward at the sight of him, a single image rotating back and forth behind her eyes.

A kiss shared between them in a different time, in a different place.

Another world filled her head with unimaginable light again. True love's kiss breathed life into her being.

Belle had been reborn.