Summary: He should've known her curiosity would get her into trouble one day. "How much would you hate me if I just kept you this way?"

Hmm… so yup! It's my first OUAT oneshot… and big surprise, it's Rumbelle. My OTP. I love these two so darn much, and I can't wait until season 2 begins! Gahhh. Anyways, this was inspired by the short film Reversal of the Heart by Carolyn Chrisman. Hope you like!

Disclaimer: I don't own Once Upon a Time, Reversal of the Heart, or anything else you may or may not recognize.

Curiouser and Curiouser

If you could describe the former princess of Avonlea, Belle, in one word, it would be this: curious.

Extremely, blatantly, unabashedly curious.

It grated on the Dark One's nerves sometimes, walking into the main hall, expecting to see his pretty little caretaker dusting the cabinets, only to catch her inspecting knickknacks or having her nose buried in a book.

Granted, she was a hard worker and that more than made up for her habit of getting sidetracked, awed by every bauble or trinket she found. It was almost funny on certain occasions, watching her eyes go round and her mouth make that little o shape when she found something that interested her. It was even funnier when she'd turn to him, her grin reminiscent of a child's as she asked, "What's this?"

Oh yes, his pretty little caretaker was most certainly curious.

He should've known that curiosity would get her into trouble one day. He'd hidden most of the things she could hurt/curse/enchant/kill herself with, but that didn't mean he'd remembered to hide everything. But now, looking at her, in her newfound blue suit of scales and gold, he couldn't bite back a twitter of laughter.

Good Gods, she found the amulet.

His Draco Phylacterium. It was an innocent-looking bauble at most, magicked up by an Enchantress on the eastern seaboard who liked to breed dragons. One of the babes had been a stillborn, dead upon hatching, but his dragonscore—somehow—remained intact. She'd taken the small jewel that had been embedded in the tiny thing's chest, still glowing, and fashioned it into a necklace. He'd bought it for a well enough price—the enchanted amulet for a cursed chalice. Not one of his greatest bargains, but he figured the amulet would hold some use over time.

The Enchantress had specifically warned him to never wear it himself unless he wanted something awful to happen to him. He'd taken the words to heart, shoving the thing away in a small velvet box in one of the guestrooms, all golden chain and glowing stone reminiscent of lapis lazuli. It had remained there for a few decades, in that room.

The room his caretaker had been occupying. The one he had given her when he noticed she wasn't far off from catching cold in that blasted dungeon.

I knew I should've inspected that room more carefully, Rumpelstiltskin thought as he stared up at Belle. "Dearie," he chuckled, none of his usual enthusiasm bubbling through. Well, at least he had the decency to be somewhat sheepish about the situation at hand. "What did you get yourself into?"

The dragon snorted, and to Rumpelstiltskin, it sounded a lot like a scoff. He had to admit, she was a beautiful dragon—all regal elegance, with dark blue scales that glinted silver when they hit the sunlight just right. Her eyes were that familiar shade of cobalt, glaring down at him as if to say, this is your fault.

He giggled. "I told you specifically not to touch anything odd-looking." And if the glowing magical amulet stuffed in the bottom drawer of the armoire where nobody could find it wasn't odd, he didn't know what was.

The dragon bowed its head, looking properly chastened. She gazed at him imploringly. Fix this.

"Tut, tut," he whispered, circling the girl-turned-beast, taking her in. From her dark blue scales to the large, leathery wings stretching from her back, she was the picture of regality. Much more so than she had in that ridiculous looking golden gown when she'd first arrived.

He could always call upon the Enchantress, but he highly doubted she'd want to be disturbed during the peak of spring, when all the hatchlings were only half-grown and in dire need of someone to look after them so no poor village would be caught in the crossfire of two males fighting for mating rights.

No, no. She was out. And he couldn't very well move Belle from the Dark Castle; the Gods only knew what ignorant prince or knight would try and kill her for her dragonscore—the dragonscore that had once belonged to the stillborn babe, glowing that rich blue, embedded into the once-girl's chest.

Belle grew impatient and snorted once more, smoke flaring from her nostrils. Her wings beat angrily. "Hey, now," Rumpelstiltskin warned when the chandelier above them rattled in protest. Maybe keeping her in the Main Hall wasn't such a good idea. "I'm thinking."

Well, there was always his last-resort plan.

He could always break the dragonscore.

But then his deal would've been for nothing. And then he wouldn't be able to send the thing to Regina as a practical joke (oh come on, it's not like she wouldn't find a way out of it sooner or later). But as he circled her, he couldn't really see any other way.

"How much would you hate me if I just kept you this way?" Rumpelstiltskin asked seriously. The dragon snorted and growled low; he was joking. His expressionless face and the dead-set look in his eyes said as much. If he was seriously thinking about keeping her this way, he'd giggle and twitter about her. The man was a contradiction in every way.

The imp sighed and prodded a few of her scales; she had half a mind to toss him into the far wall with her tail. But that would do nothing except anger him—even if she was a thousand times bigger than him, he was still far more powerful.

"Alright, well, I suppose I have no choice," he grumbled, grabbing a dagger from a nearby armoire. Belle eyed it warily.

He wasn't going to slay her, was he?

"Don't give me that look," Rumpelstiltskin scoffed. Her eyes turned from the knife to his face. "Like I'm death, come to your doorstep," he clarified. "Bend down, now, so I can get a good look at that dragonscore."

She dipped low, just low enough to bare her chest to him. Rumpelstiltskin sighed and eyed the pretty thing regretfully. Well, here it goes—the first time he'd let a deal go to complete waste—and plunged the dagger in the stone. It cracked easily under the cold metal, a deep cobalt light, the same shade as her eyes, came pouring out. The dragon let out something akin to a gasp (if dragons could gasp) as she began to shrink, as the scales melted away, as the wings retracted. There was a bright light, and then—

"By the gods, Rumpelstiltskin!"

Ah, there it was. The Dark One grinned impishly as his—very angry—caretaker seethed in a corner. "Don't go off blaming me, dearie," he said lightly, his pitted, yellow teeth gleaming in the light, "It was your own fault. Did I not tell you to refrain from touching the magical and suspicious-looking objects?"

"It was a necklace," Belle mumbled, trying to preserve as much dignity as possible, "I didn't think it'd do any harm…" she trailed away, looking down at her shoes in a mixture of wounded pride and irritation.

Rumpelstiltskin eyed her for a moment before letting his grin slide. "Well, I'd get back to work if I were you—the tea won't make itself—" He cleared his throat and began to walk away.

"Thank you."

He paused. "For what, dearie?"

"Turning me back." He heard her footsteps—light, airy—as they walked farther away, towards the kitchens. "You didn't have to. You didn't have to bother." The words were jumbled and awkward as they left her mouth and traveled to him. He sighed and hid his smile, shaking his head.

Oh, but he did have to. "You're my caretaker, Belle, and I'd prefer to have you human."

"You liked that amulet. I saw the way you looked at it. It was the same look my father gave his favorite horse before putting him down."

Ah, was he getting that easy to read? He'd have to change that. Couldn't have her reading him like an open book, could he? "It was gathering dust in that armoire," the imp said offhandedly, "I'd completely forgotten about it. So in a way, you did me a favor." Actually, he remembered the amulet quite clearly—the only reason he'd never used it was because it had been—ah, misplaced for the last thirty-seven years.

He could almost hear her smile. "Alright, then."

He paused before heading up the stairs of the west wing. "Go get the tea, dearie," he twittered lightly, before disappearing in a flash of smoke. It would be months until he figured out exactly why it was he'd let a deal (eventually, two deals) go to waste for his pretty little caretaker, but for now, he'd let it go.

Hmmm. So yeah. I don't think I like this, but I like the concept, so I figured, why not? My writing's gotten so rusty… but still, I hope you guys liked it!

Reviews are love!