AN:

Aside from the fact that THEY DIDN'T KISS, I really loved the like 2 and a half minutes of Rumbelle time in the OUAT finale. So beautiful. These are just some of Belle's thoughts throughout the episode. Hope you like x

I DO NOT OWN ONCE UPON A TIME.

It's jarring to be woken from this world she knows, this cell with its unforgiving walls and single shaft of light. It's all she ever known, and sometimes it seems she's been here for years, but then all of a sudden she thinks she might have only just arrived. She tries not to think about life outside the box too much. The details are all there in her head, but it's like somewhere there's a fray in the fabric and everything that seems real also feels untrue. She's become used to these contradictions in her mind, but it takes a strange man entering her cell, giving her orders in a soft, sure tone, to wake her from what feels like a reverie lasting forever and yet lasting just a moment.

She emerges into the corridor, shifty and uneasy to suddenly be on this side of the door. The man, Jefferson, lets her out of a heavy exit onto the street, straight onto it, there, so close to her prison. He gives her a coat and shoes, and doesn't tell her where he got them. She slips them on and then, with one last look, a look he greets with a reassuring half-smile, she bows her head and walks away – just like that.


Surrounded by fresh air, the scents of trees and unfamiliar sounds, her head is so full of things that she can't comprehend. The only hope in the world she has of finding solid ground here, in this abrupt new, strange place opened to her, is to follow the instructions of a man she doesn't know. So that's exactly what she does.

The streets are quiet, almost eerily so, or maybe her time inside has altered her ideas of everything. It might have looked like aimless wandering, to anyone who happened to look out of their window or pass her by, but she had a goal, and that goal was Gold. She just didn't know where to start.

She looked at signs and peered around corners, wondering why this Jefferson hadn't given her more information. What, was she supposed to just know where to go? It was all so sudden.

All you have to do is tell him where you've been and that Regina locked you up.

Who was Regina? Was she the dark-haired woman, the one who peered in on her and smiled? Those black eyes had pierced her, but she'd thought nothing of it. An inspection, maybe a doctor – she'd never thought jailer.

Far too trusting, my dear, you must be more careful, said a voice in her head. Her father?

She'd always believed that her fractured memories, her uneasy grasp of truth and lies, that they were the reasons she was here. That she was mad somehow, madder than she understood. But to think about it made her head hurt.

Then, when night was drawing in and the sky was pinpricked with beautiful stars, she saw a shop sign lit up, like a spot of sun sharply seen through cloud.

Mr Gold – Pawnbroker and Antiquities Dealer.

She searched, wondering whether the name was meant to mean something, but the haze wouldn't let her through. All there was left was to try. Whatever happened, it had to be better than living the rest of her life with the same four walls.

The jingle as she pushed the door made her start:

It was only a bell, stupid. She chided. Talking to yourself was the first sign of madness, but maybe it didn't count if it was in your head.

Everything seemed so foreign in this colourful world, but, now, here, in this dusty, mismatched room filled with what looked like rubbish, she felt the none too subtle wave of home crash over her. Dismissing it, she walked deeper into the shop and saw a light on.

'Excuse me,' she said, feeling silly for even thinking of asking this complete and utter stranger for protection or understanding or some other emotional attachment. What am I doing here? What am I doing here? Who the hell is Jefferson and why am I doing this? Why? Why? Why? 'Are you Mr Gold?'

'Yes, I am.' He said, turning around. 'But I'm afraid the shop's close-d.'

For the slightest of moments she was confused by the way his sentence tapered away, and by the obvious recognition she could see in his eyes. Am I imagining it, or does he know – speak, speak!

The words came out filled with pauses and ums and ahs, as her own mind, that mind she'd so distrusted, told her she was an idiot for doing this.

'I was er, I was told to – to find you, and tell you that Regina locked me up.'

Well, that's just about the stupidest thing I've ever said – or at least I think it is.

'Does - does that mean anything to you?'

She knew the answer already. He was making his way, cane in hand, towards her. His eyes were wide, his face was frozen, and she could see shock and disbelief in every line. Confusion beset her from all sides. He reached out to touch her shoulder, and, summoning what bravery she had, she didn't move away. She looked at him, really looked at him, and saw such startled agony in his gaze that she was unsure whether to run or to give the poor man a hug.

'You're real. You're alive.'

Note to self: Don't take advice from random people in basement mental hospitals. May have wandered onto the open reservation for lunatics. Not that I can say anything…

And yet, there was something in that look. An honesty and a raw, heart-breaking sorrow, a sorrow that was so pure and powerful it was almost happiness.

'She did this to you?'

Whoever Regina was, she felt very sure she wasn't anyone good. Had she been the dark-eyed woman? There was nothing left but to ask for protection, and from the continuing emotion in Mr Gold's eyes she felt certain she'd receive it. And did. His strangled voice spoke the words and she felt so safe at that second she marvelled at the power of the feeling.

'Oh yes. Yes, I'll protect you.'

He practically fell on her, pulled her against him, like there was an uncontrollable force that bade him to do it. He was so very obviously overwhelmed she just stood there, not knowing what to do.

'I'm – I'm sorry, do I know you?'

And when she thought his eyes couldn't tear her heart anymore, they did. It was like she'd just hit him across the face, and irrationally she wanted to take it back. Wanted to feed him lies just to wipe that horror from him forever.

'No. But you will.'

He seemed so assured that he was right she didn't question him, and she began to think again about just what her illness had been. Could she have forgotten him? This teary-eyed man before her, he obviously knew her. He must know her, just by the way she'd affected him.


I'm walking through the woods with a man who's prone to emotional outbursts. This cannot end well. I should just turn back now, it's warmer in the cell and I don't know where we're –

Her internal monologue ceased as if it had never existed. A warm mist passed over her, and she closed her eyes at the sensation, and suddenly plummeted into a life she'd dreamt of, a life she'd always secretly wanted. A life that was her life – a life with him in it. Not Mr Gold…Rumplestiltskin. She could feel tears, tears of happiness gathering, and she stumbled over a root as he stormed his way forward, uncomfortable with this woman he thought was only half of her.

'Wait,' she said, hardly able to bring the word to her lips. The images came rushing in, an onslaught of colourful things. Real things. Her childhood, her father, her long dead mother, Gaston, the Ogre Wars, that damn Evil Queen, she was Regina… and him. Always him. She wanted to touch him, she wanted to throw herself at him and hold him like she should have done when he told her to leave, but he wasn't stopping.

'No, no, we're very close.'

He didn't turn, didn't even look at her, and she knew that inside him his heart was breaking at the thought that she might never be that same her, Belle, my name is Belle, again. She began to cry, cry for happiness in a way she never had before.

'Rumplestiltskin…wait.' All the power had gone from her voice, the strength of every feeling she had too strong for her weak self. She was tired all at once, so tired, but she knew if she didn't hold him, if he didn't hold her, soon, she couldn't sleep if she tried.

He'd stopped and her breath caught in her throat. With small, shuddering steps, like a little deer finding its legs, she came to him:

'I – I remember.' She realises she's grinning, smiling so widely her mouth could split, but she doesn't care, she's never cared less about herself as his eyes light up and all of that sadness washes away. It's him, really him, he's there, and he's solid and real, but, like him, she needs to touch to make sure. She can't touch him, Belle can't touch him, not until she tells him the one truth that's existed between them for twenty-eight mostly miserable years, all righted in one glorious moment of epiphany:

'I love you.'

She knows it sounds shaky, like she's questioning, but the light, more light, that exists in his expression is enough. Happiness sits on his face like it's never been there before, and, briefly, she muses it might not have, not here in this life, in this place. But before the sadness can take her, here in this moment of pure joy, with his bright eyes smiling and yet threatening tears, she hugs him to her. Hugs him tightly and closely, without a fraction of space between them, never wanting to let him go:

'Yes. Yes. And I love you too.'

If ever there were a greater four words in all the world she doesn't think she'll hear them. He's said them, he means them, she can feel it in his desperate grip, and they're together like they should have always been. The happiness might just eat her from the inside out, and she takes it all in. The warmth of him, the undeniable fact that he's here, he's with her, he has his arms around her. Everything that was so wrong about life in that cell is suddenly and beautifully right.

She's home.

AN:

I didn't want to destroy the beautiful fluffiness by doing her POV on the well, because that was the part where I wanted to strange Rumple. I understand that he might be using it to get Bae back and to protect Belle, but I just kept hearing: 'My power means more to me, than you.' ARGH!