Disclaimer: OUAT isn't mine.

Summary: With great power comes great responsibility, which, of course, Rumpel purposefully disregards.

Not Quite A Happy Ending

She watches as the purple clouds curl inward on themselves like an octopus's tentacles, twisting and writhing like individual snakes that are regrettably knotted together by their tails, yet seeming to stretch on forever and break free of the wilderness. It wraps eerily around nearby trees in the forest she's never seen until now, knowing only of the dark and cold nights spent in a cell underground. Trapped. Cut off from the harsh world she'll never know.

The world Rumpelstiltskin created with magic.

She catches a glimpse of the man she knew in another land as his eyes rove over the rolling form his old power has taken. Obsession, greed, a terrible longing for vengeance—Belle recognizes them all. Wants so badly to believe the evilness that had once taken root will vanish faster than the thick, smoky mist that threatens to throw them both over the edge into an unknown darkness, where she will likely drown.

But it won't . . . because she told him Regina was responsible.

And there will be no stopping him.

Rumpelstiltskin—the infamous deal maker—cannot sit by quietly and observe while everything unfolds. No, he has to be the cause of their unfolding. Because, no matter what may happen, he won't accept second place to the wretched woman who locked Belle away from him. Not now, not after all he's strived for. Not after he promised to protect her.

"Magic," he whispers quietly in a caressing tone to Belle, "is power."

Not far away, the Queen laughs darkly as the violet plumes of smoke consume her.