Writer's note: I'm back! Sorry it's been forever since an update. Other things have occupied my mind the past several months (like having a baby, yikes!). There isn't a lot left to this fic, so hopefully I'll get it done soon. If any of my old readers come back, thanks for sticking the wait out! For any new readers, thanks for taking the time to read this fic!
The world shifts before her mind's eyes.
A disheveled castle, in need of repair, filled with soldiers. Fear hangs in the air and hope is fading on their faces.
An elegant but terrible castle – the Dark Castle, the name echoing in her ears – filled with infantile trills of laughter that bounced off the stone walls. This terrible place is meant to engage fear, but she is not afraid.
A pink house, crammed with trinkets and baubles, and a man smiling warmly at her. The smile is only for her and he lets her know by the twinkling of his brown eyes.
All of those images dissolve into a calamity of bright lights and rushed voices that seem to melt together until the darkness takes over again.
Her hand is squeezed and through her addled mind, Isabel forces her eyes to open. Her father's face is close to her side, holding the back of her hand to his lips. "Izzy," he murmurs, relief pouring from his voice as he reaches to cup her cheek.
She breathes in deep, aware for the first time of the fire that's burning in her ribs. Isabel whimpers, screwing her eyes shut tightly as she rides out the pain. "What happened, Papa?" she forces out through gritted teeth.
"You were in a car accident." Instantly, her memory is drawn to the reason she was trying to escape out of town. They'd fought, her father and her lover, and she was so upset over their latest spat, so tired of seeing them rip at each other's throats, that she hopped in Ruby's car and wanted to disappear. She needed some peace, even if it were only for an afternoon.
But those images, what felt more like memories, had flashed before her mind's eyes again. The man with the reptilian eyes and wild hair, the visions of him had caused her to lose control of the car. But that man reminds her of someone. Warm, yet sad, brown eyes and straight, silky hair could replace the wildness and the man indwelling the castle in her visions could easily be the man she loves…
"Where is he?" Isabel murmurs, breathlessly.
Her father looks puzzled. "Who?"
"Anthony," and when her father continues to appear puzzled, she adds, "Gold."
His features fall, but Isabel barely notices. She needs the man she loves, to tell him of what she has seen. She knows it is important to tell him, but for what reason, she does not know.
Her father sets her hand down gently beside her, and nods curtly. "I'll go get him."
"Papa," she calls out as he turns to leave. He looks over his shoulder at her, their eyes meet, and Belle tries to show her appreciation with a weak smile. "I love you, Papa."
He returns her smile, weak and sad, but loving nonetheless. "I love you too, Izzy."
The door swings open several minutes later and there's Gold at her side. His warm brown eyes are full of concern deeper than she'd ever seen before. His gaze scans her up and down as if examining every inch of her to make sure she is still whole. He raises a hand to her cheek, hovering but not touching. "I'm so sorry, Belle."
Isabel swallows hard, trying to push the lump down in her parched throat. Then it hits her like a brick…he called her Belle. The wild man, he had called her Belle in the images that had haunted her for days. His twittering voice suddenly echoes in her ears calling out to her.
"Isabel?" Gold gingerly touches her shoulder, alarmed at the disturbance falling on her face.
Isabel draws her gaze up to meet his eyes, hers glistening and wide as saucers.
"Isabel?" Gold prompted again.
She shakes her head at her own thoughts. "For several days after I cleaned your shop, I began having visions of a man. He resembles you, but he's so different at the same time. I felt something for him, like I was close to him once, like I knew him well…a long time ago. In these visions, he called me Belle."
Gold's face pales a shade, his startled features freezing. Isabel can see the recognition in the depths of his eyes. He knows what she's talking about.
"Anthony, if you know anything, please tell me," Isabel pleads. She wishes to grasp his hand, but it's too far away and her mobility is limited. "It happened after a touched a teacup," she adds, "It was chipped."
Gold is still appearing to be in shock, standing solid as a statue, the knuckles wrapped around his cane tip white as a sheet. His jaw trembles and finally he utters, "That was our cup."
Bewilderment crosses Isabel's features, but it is quickly replaced by a pained expression. She cries out, raising a hand to her forehead. It feels as if a railroad stake is being pieced through her head. Gold rushes to the door. As fast as the pain slams her, it backs off and everything is clear for the first time.
"Wait," she calls out and Gold stops, his hand hovering over the doorknob. "Rumplestiltskin, wait."