I'll admit I cried a little bit writing the last segment of this three part one-shot. I basically bottled up all of my emotions from these past two weeks and put it into this chapter, and I'm pretty satisfied with it. I listened to one or two songs when writing each chapter to this story, and mainly the majority of this one was written to My Love by Sia since the lyrics meshed so well with the plotline. Since this story is now drawing to a close, I'm not entirely sure if I want to continue into writing another Rumbelle fanfiction because there's so many good writers out there already, but you never know when inspiration's gonna strike! Reviews are appreciated! Enjoy!
"She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her away, she adjusted her sails."
Amidst the tall grasses, in the centered blaze of the sun's rays that kissed her pale skin into a heated pink, there frolicked a child in a dress made from the sky.
Our child, Belle thought with every tender flicker of a glance her eyes made toward the young girl. Our little Evelyn.
She looked onward as Evelyn plucked a dandelion from its stem, letting out a most enchanting and innocent laugh that shook her mother to the very center of her being. Such innocence had come with a price, it always did, however Belle had not anticipated the price to be of such a tremendous impact on her future—that she would lose the most important figure who had ever trampled in on her life, leaving an imprint, a blackened hole that can only be filled by a daughter's love. A shiver fell through her body that instant, tightening her strained but ever-beating heart, quivering her lips until her eyes glossed over with tears.
But she is ours. She is the product of their love and their misery, their passion and their yearning. She is the proof that their love outlasted the darkness of the curse; the glass shards of its ruins nothing but dust in the air after less than four years since that tragedy's end.
"Mama!" Evelyn cried out in glee, running her dainty little feet across the grassy meadow and into Belle's arms. Her mother smiled through her tears and lifted Evelyn into the air, kissing her rosy cheeks that dimpled in mirth. The child held out the dandelion she had taken earlier, offering the yellow blossom to Belle, "I brought you a flower, Mama! It can keep the roses company in the dining hall. They always look rather lonely." Evelyn's dark eyes, his eyes, shone brightly as Belle accepted the flower, tucking it carefully into the basket she had carried along with them on their midday trek through the moors.
"Then I shall keep it safe with me until it meets its rosy friends, darling." Evelyn clapped her hands together, thoroughly pleased with Belle's response, and ran off into the tall grasses again on her second adventure of the day.
Belle turned to walk in a similar direction with a strict eye on her daughter, musing over the vibrant buds flourishing under the warmth of the afternoon sun. The widow did not walk far when she breathed in the scent of honeysuckle and sweet grass pungent in the air, catching an abrupt drift of heated spices that passed by her neck as if it had pressed an aching kiss into her skin. She gasped at the familiar scent, whipping her head around every which way expecting his face to be there, but fate had dealt her a blow that had stolen his permanence from her life. Belle can only meet him in her dreams as she had on those thousands of nights spent in delusion and clouded ignorance within the asylum… the image of him appearing to her whole and new and in love again can never be in two places at once upon waking anymore. The tears, silent and sweetly tragic, slipped from her eyes when the feeling of his presence disappeared. It was always just a singular moment in time when she could detect him in the air, passing by when the breeze blew at its strongest—the first occurrence had frightened her, believing herself to have lost her wits at last, but Evelyn clearly acknowledged that she could feel him, too. And at times when Belle thought she heard his voice whisper on the traces of wind flying by her ears, Evelyn had seen him.
The day of their daughter's second birthday was the original incident. Belle brought her to the grasslands the minute Evelyn could walk upright, holding her hands for support against the blistering wind outside. Not ten minutes into the walk, Evelyn released one of her hands from her mother and pointed, exclaiming, "Papa!"
Belle remembered gaping, open-mouthed, witnessing what her eyes could not see.
Evelyn had been nothing but a babe growing in her belly when Emma destroyed all remnants of the curse, the Queen included; she had come into this life long after her father had departed. But their daughter greeted him like she had known him since the day she was born, and it made Belle's heart swell with both grief and elation. Evelyn's birthday triggered a series of moments since that fateful day where they bore witness to the truth that though he wasn't there to comfort, to love, he was watching over them.
She just hoped that one day she could rejoin him in that paradise where they would meet once more. Until that moment, however, she had a daughter to take care of and a life to live on.
That evening, when Evelyn was tucked into bed and kissed goodnight and Belle could finally meet him on the other side of her lids, she dreamt of strange and delightful things:
Belle blinked away the tears of happiness in her eyes, hands shaking in terror and pure bliss after stepping out of the physician's office with a piece of paper grasped so tightly in her grip she nearly put a hole in it. This sheet of test results held her future happiness and woe, but the gratifying joy outweighed all imminent worries Belle had imagined. Her feet quickened into a fast walk, eventually turning into a run toward the pleasantly pink manor three streets over. It was around dinner time, the sun hovering on the line of the horizon to ensure her safe trip home before night blanketed the light of the sky.
He was attempting the dinner she originally planned to cook in celebration of their second year of marriage, failing miserably at the task.
"I think you should stick to making the tea, dear. Let me do the cooking," Belle smirked, planting a kiss on his jaw and tucking the folded paper into the pocket of her jeans. She began to hum a familiar tune as an attempt to calm her rampant nerves, eyeing her husband's mess of a meal. An unrestrained grin formed on her rosebud lips.
"Well, when I didn't have you cooking for me, love, I vaguely remember conjuring my meals out of necessity, and prior to that it was gruel," he teased. "Forgive me for not having the magic touch at culinary art." He brought a strawberry up to her mouth in apology, eyes flashing with invited mischief as Belle's lips closed around the fruit.
She bit into the sweet ripeness of the strawberry, leaning into him to press her reddened mouth delicately against his. Gold wrapped an arm tight around the curve of her waist and pulled her in, more than happy to steal a taste of the fruit's juices on his wife's lips. They broke the kiss momentarily once Belle set a hand on his chest, looking into the russet eyes of her lover, positively glowing.
"I wanted to save this until later tonight, but I just couldn't wait to tell you." Gold's eyes stared, perplexed as her left hand moved into her back pocket, lifting out a single slip of paper with multiple lines of print on the front and back. "It looks like you might have to take up cooking as a hobby after all." Belle handed the paper, unfolded, to him, taking his right hand in hers and pressing it over her stomach. He looked at her, startled, as realization dawned on his face at the meaning of her simple action. "We're having a little baby."
A child that can be ours.
The smile Gold reciprocated was composed entirely of pure adoration. Like Belle, elation had won out over anxiety, and he drew her in to kiss her like he hadn't seen her in a hundred years. Their fingers entwined, holding fast to each other to soak in the suspended moment of disbelief the gods had gifted them. Gold's long fingers moved from the swell of her hip and brushed over her abdomen, focused, knowing.
His lips moved against Belle's as he spoke, a smile itching to surface on his mouth, "She will be such a delight, love," Gold murmured.
Belle shot her gaze up toward his face. "She?" his wife questioned.
"Our little Evelyn," he explained.
And Evelyn she would be named.
Belle found herself barefoot on the grassy fields two miles from the main road that led to her home, the soft creamy fabric of her nightgown billowing past her legs as the wind blew in quick circles around her body, howling. The silver crescent of the moon shining in the night sky illuminated the ground in front of her, casting off an eerie glow that stretched for acres across the land.
This was still a dream, she knew. A dream too vivid, too controlled, to be a projection of her memories. The sound of heavy footsteps rustling through the tall grasses behind her made Belle tense up—usually in this kind of landscape she was always alone, her mere thoughts even an enemy in a peaceful place such as this. Body turning to face the intruder of her dream world, Belle made herself ready to cast off the figment of her imagination, and then she froze.
For he stood there, Rumpelstiltskin, in the form of the man Belle watched die in her arms nearly four years ago to the day. Her jaw slackened, heart palpitating until she felt it begin to swell and bleed inwardly from sight of him. He couldn't help the tight-lipped smile that found its way to his face, so like the imp he had used to be, and so like the man she had not expected to fall in love with. She couldn't move from where her feet held her to the ground, so he had to move for her.
"Is this, is this a memory?" Belle choked out. Rumpelstiltskin merely shook his head as he drew closer to his widow of a wife, pulling her into him like they had done many years ago. She trembled and shook in his arms, wondering when the world would jerk her awake from this moment.
The day of the curse's obliteration slammed back to her when she laid eyes on his face all over again—she recalled a younger and very pregnant version of herself screaming out in anguish with his head in her lap, his eyes fixated on the image of her face one last time before they closed to the world in finality. Belle had wept and wept until the reality of Storybrooke and its residents slipped out from under her and he, the sole being she had expected to appear at her side in their homelands, intact and alive, had dissipated in a pool of gold stardust that carried itself away with the wind.
The curse had been of his creation, constructed out of heartbreak and hate for the world stealing each and every person he loved from him. And so, when the curse's wrath had wasted away at the hands of Emma, their savior, it had taken its maker and enactor with it.
Love had granted him peace in Storybrooke, but it had also granted him his death.
Belle never thought it would hurt this much seeing him, holding the warmth of his body against her again, but she continued to quake with silent tremors of sobbing. He didn't utter a word to her in their silence, fully content with enfolding his arm about her waist and brushing back the flood of tears that kept coming. She knew she was a strong woman, bound to assisting her aging father in upholding a flourishing kingdom and raising daughter single-handedly, husbandless. But even heroines were allowed to break sometimes, and he let her pour out her worries and misery into the sleeve of his shirt.
"I've missed you, love," he finally uttered. He ran a finger along her cheek and down under her chin, tilting it upward to set his dark eyes on the swimming ocean of her baby blues. "You must take care of our little Evelyn." Rumpelstiltskin's voice softened. "We will see each other again. I promise, dearie."
Belle leaned into the gap imminently closing around them, letting her mouth fully press against his until the touch of his lips running over hers had disappeared.
The following morning Belle awoke with a dull ache in her chest, her lips tingling with the sensation of a remnant kiss staining her mouth red.
Today marked the day of Emma setting the world aright, the day Belle's true love had died.
Those who had lost loved ones in the wake of the curse's destruction Emma paid mind to visit annually, for though the realms were set in proper order again, the heroine of all kingdoms held a fragment burden of guilt deep inside of her. Storybrooke had had its share of happy endings that never were before the curse sunk its roots in the soil, Belle included, and it was Emma's awakened power that took all of those endings with it. Evelyn had been heavily preoccupied with her breakfast when Emma entered their home. Belle pulled her mouth into a welcoming smile at the sight of Emma standing in the entrance hall, for some things can never change regardless of the shift in worlds. Their heroine stood in an outfit akin to the garb Emma's father wears—it would be hard to imagine the lost princess in a ball gown Snow so frequently adorns. During Belle's time in Storybrooke when she was not hidden and locked away from the changed world, she had taken liberties to befriend Emma. Their friendship had in some ways been one of the several puzzle pieces that brought the savior's mind into check with those in Storybrooke who also remembered.
Emma was one of her bridesmaids at her wedding; she was one of the first friends she had told of her pregnancy, and she had been the first and last friend who indirectly took Rumpelstiltskin out of her life. Belle was never one to hold grudges, and after the birth of Evelyn had come and gone a mere three months after Storybrooke's modernity faded from existence, she found it in her heart to forgive what the heroine did not know would happen the second the curse was stripped from all minds. Evelyn's ears perked up at the sound of a visitor in the hall, neglecting her food for a moment and running full speed into the arms of Emma.
"Have you brought sweets from Snow?" she questioned excitedly.
"Evelyn!" Belle scolded. "You haven't seen Emma in a year and the first thing you ask for is candy?"
Emma merely laughed, reaching into the satchel she carried at her side and extracting a pouch filled with baked goods made by her mother. "It's alright, Belle, Evelyn's excited to see me regardless of the sweets, isn't that right?" she grinned.
"Yes!" Evelyn beamed. "Emma has new stories to tell me about dragons and fairies every time she visits. I hope one day I can slay a dragon like you!"
Belle and Emma exchanged a wary glance with one another and laughed.
"She's quite the adventurous child," Belle commented. "Evelyn, dear, go finish your breakfast. Emma and I have adult talk to tend to."
Emma set Belle's daughter back on the ground, giving her a light push in the direction of the kitchen to ensure she'd follow her mother's orders. When Evelyn disappeared behind the door frame, Emma turned to Belle and asked the same question she asks each year to the young widow, "How have you been?"
Belle's mouth tightened briefly, but she slapped a pert smile on her lips and looked up at Emma, replying, "We're all in a happier place because of you, and for that I remain forever grateful. If he hadn't brought Henry to Storybrooke as a babe, we would all still be trapped in a dark place."
"That still doesn't answer my question," Emma stated. "I don't want to know how everyone else in the world is. I want to know how you are." She laid a hand on Belle's shoulder and squeezed, silently comforting her into a state of consolation.
"I am well, Emma," she said. After a gap of time spent in reflection, she added, "I… I dreamt of him last night." Her voice faded out on the remainder of the sentence, and she stared out of the window for a moment, recalling the dream to her memory and holding it close to her heart as best as she could. "He told me to take care of Evelyn, and that we would meet again."
Emma wasn't one to believe in a god or a higher power, not until the day she believed in the curse her son had so ardently insisted was the town of Storybrooke. The heroine nodded her head in assurance and simply stated, "Yes. I think you will."
Just then, Evelyn appeared in the threshold of the doorway to the kitchen, the look on her small and rounded face full of knowing while witnessing her mother's sadness. "Papa always tells me he doesn't like seeing you cry," she paused. Belle stared at Evelyn in wonderment, our Evelyn, her breath hitching in her throat at the mentioning of her love communicating with their daughter. Evelyn turned her russet eyes to the right of her, as if she was listening to a voice whispering in her ear. "He says he loves you so much, Mama. He promises."