Love…

Makes us sick.

Makes us do crazy things.

Makes us hurt the ones we love most.

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She's as radiant as ever. Mr. Gold thought as he watched Belle turn a page of the novel in her hands. It was a warm spring day in Storybrook, utterly perfect weather for the orange sundress Belle French Hatter was attired in. She was finishing off a glass of lemonade, licking the sour liquid off her lips as she closed her worn copy of Rosebush and attempted the nearly impossible task of standing up.

Ruby Lucas shot out of the restaurant and was at Belle's side in a second, both girls laughing as Belle was hauled to her feet, a hand steadying her belly which was swollen due to her six month pregnancy. The girls continued with their laugh-filled conversation before Ruby was barked back into the restaurant by her grandmother. Waving her off, Belle waddled down the street, looking at the sights while heading towards her destination.

Mr. Gold gulped and decided that this was his only chance. Setting up his best pleasant demeanor, he strolled over to where Belle had paused.

"Mrs. French!" Gold greeted loudly, "I do believe the sun and you are in a contest, with you smiling so brightly like you are."

Belle giggled and flashed him that sunshine he was so entranced on seeing. "Good afternoon to you as well, Mr. Gold." She said, giving a best bow she could in her condition. She sighed. "However, it's Mrs. Hatter now."

Mr. Gold nodded, a twisting feeling engulfing his stomach. "Ah yes, and how is this husband of yours?"She laughed, but Mr. Gold caught an uncertainty in her shaky chuckle.

"He's…he's great. He's great, really."

"But?" Mr. Gold pressed. He caught himself instantly. "My apologies, I don't mean to pry."

Belle shook her head. "You're doing nothing of the sort." She led him to a bench in front of the hardware store where they sat down. She soothed her dress over her belly and hummed, searching for the words to describe her husband. "He's a great man, gentle, patient, all the works." Belle stated positively. "However, there's…there's something dark inside of him. There always has been, but he's kept it so well-hidden until just recently."

Mr. Gold griped his cane until his knuckles were bright pink. "Has he…has he hurt you Mrs. Hatter?" He hissed lowly.

Belle shook her head. "Of course not." She said coldly. "Only cowards hurt their wives and family. I was just implying that he's been different, more protective and quiet." her hand gripped her stomach, "Especially when he started coming along."

"He?"

Belle smiled. "Yes. Jefferson wants a girl so badly he can taste it, but," she shrugged, "Mother's intuition is telling me he's going to be just a little disappointed."

Mr. Gold chuckled but felt an unnerving doom rising for Belle. Jefferson was using her. He was using his Belle! And for what, a replacement for the child he would never get back? That was setting up a loveless relationship in which Belle would be devastated.

Belle hissed suddenly.

"Are you alright?" Gold gasped.

She laughed at his shock. "Yes, calm down." She ran a hand over her belly in a circular motion, as if trying to sooth the being inside her. "Someone's just a bit restless." She looked up at him. "Would you like to feel?"

Mr. Gold gulped. He hadn't felt a baby while it was still in its incubator since his own son, and that was too vague a memory for him to go with. "I, um…"

Belle rolled her eyes at his hesitance and grabbed his hand, placing it over her bulge.

He held his breath as the being inside Belle harassed her from the inside. He wondered right then how this thing, this mixture of insanity and perfection could actually be someone. Belle would love it as a good mother should, no matter whose child she had. Jefferson however…

Gold shuddered at the thought. If Jefferson snapped, Belle and her child would be in his sea of unstableness. His experience with Grace, or Paige as she was currently known as wasn't exactly a great example for him to go by. He would walk through fire before he'd let anything happen to them.

"He's strong." Gold commented. He met Belle's eyes and for just that moment, there was that look of undying adoration and recognition that told him that this was the Belle he loved with every fiber of his being. He would like to pretend that she had his child inside her, that they were truly a family and had a world of happiness ahead of them.

But then the door to the hardware store shot open and that fantasy burned into ashes.

"Belle darling I have done it! I have found the perfect shade of peach for-"

Belle swapped Gold's hand off her belly and put some space between them. "Um, hi honey? You remember Mr. Gold from the wedding, right?"

Jefferson's and Gold's eyes locked on each other, hating each other over the pregnant girl who stood between them like a brick wall. Jefferson's lip twitch and he held a hand out to the counterpart of the Dark One. "Mr. Gold, how are you?"

Mr. Gold reached his hand out and grasped the offered one, forcing his own smirk. "Positively glowing, thank you."

Both of their hands were stinging and swollen when they pulled away and at least one of them had popped something out of place. There could never be anything but distaste and malice between them. They had taken something precious from each other, something that was never going to be regained at this point in their lives.

Belle cleared her throat to and pressed a hand to Jefferson's arm, trying to ease the tension between them. "You were, um, saying something."

Jefferson's stormy expression broke and he smiled as he pulled out a small paint card. "I found the perfect shade of peach for Gracia's room."

Belle shot a quick "I told you so" look to Mr. Gold before studying the card. "It's perfect Jefferson." She stated, leaning up to give him an affectionate peck on the cheek.

He smiled proudly. "Yes, well, I love you, so I want to make you happy." His eyes were on Gold when he said this, not Belle.

"You son of a bitch."

Belle's head shot up. "What was that Mr. Gold?"

He smirked. "Oh nothing, dearie. I was just agreeing with your hubby here." His eyes narrowed at the hatter. "You should keep the people you love happy, which means freeing them from things that make them completely miserable. Isn't that what you insinuated, Mr. Hatter?"

Jefferson twitched, his smirk causing his teeth to gnash together. "Yes, yes it was. But I was also implying that if you love someone, you need to protect them from those who could hurt them easily." He wrapped an arm around the confused Belle's waist and pulled her close. "And I'm protecting for two now."

If Belle hadn't been the intermediate between them, Jefferson and Mr. Gold would have been on the ground beating the Hell out of each other.

"Indeed." Gold growled, his aching hands denting the steel of his cane head.

Jefferson smirked satisfyingly. "Come now Belle," he stated, "Let's get you home and let you two get's some rest." He ran his over her belly possessively, grinding Mr. Gold's face in to the truth.

Belle nodded. "Yes. Would you cool off the car while I say goodbye to Mr. Gold here?"

"Of course." Jefferson agreed with a curt smile as he whistled his way to the car.

Mr. Gold wondered if he tripped him if he would fall and break his neck. He never was a lucky man.

"Sorry." Belle apologized out of the blue. "He's been like that lately."

Mr. Gold smiled in reassurance. "He's protecting the two things that mean the most to him. Even I can understand his sour mood." It was a partial truth, but wholeheartedly said. Even If Jefferson was a complete bastard to him, he was Belle's angel and, much to Gold's distaste, the father of her child.

She shrugged. "It's still unbearable though."

Could he be arrested for sweeping a pregnant woman away? He wouldn't get far in this town.

"I'm sure he'll lighten up when," he winked, "he comes along."

She bit her lip to suppress a giggle at their secret. "God I hope so."

He pressed a hand to her shoulder and looked straight into her blue depts. "If you need anything," he stated, his eyes flying to the awaiting Jefferson for a second, "come and find me, and I'll be there." There was something in her expression he almost didn't catch. She looked away and whispered she had to go. He restrained himself from running after her. If things were different, if life was fair, he would marry Belle and raise her child with her whether it was Jefferson's or not.

He watched her smile as she slipped into the open door of the car, Jefferson standing guard as she was safely buckled in. There was a final glare contest between them and he was gone with his Belle, not to been seen until another one of their rare trips into the town. Despite his own pain and misery, Belle was happy, healthy, and to a minor extent, free, and he would cherish that until the day they could have their moment.

What Mr. Gold didn't see though was the way Belle's uppity demeanor slipped as soon as she was in the dim privacy of the car. She wiped the tear off her cheek as she struggled not to break down.

Jefferson watched her out of the corner of his eye as he started the car. He knew this was killing her, that being with him instead of the man she was truly in love with. But she had the one thing he wanted in the world and wouldn't even consider letting her go until it was in his arms. They had discussed the subject of Belle's detection once the baby was born. She could leave the baby with him and he would grant her a divorce with visitation rights. She could live a life she wanted with the man she loved and still have a part in her baby's life, but she wouldn't relent. A baby needed its mother the first stages of life and wouldn't leave her flesh and blood, even for her true love. Not to mention Jefferson was as insane as they came, good father or not.

They pulled into the driveway and he was at her side in a second.

"I can get out of a car on my own." She stated gently.

He closed the door behind her and wrapped his arm around her shoulder. "Don't want to risk it dear."

Belle sighed. She had had enough. She twisted from his embrace and set a gap between them. "We need to talk."

He froze dramatically before turning around, smiling icily. "Okay then sweetheart," he slammed the door shut, "let's chat." He sat on the top step and patted the space beside him.

Belle gulped but took the seat beside him carefully. This was the behavior she had told Mr. Gold about, hinted about really. He had the most bipolar moods she had ever seen in a person, not to mention the most violent.

He had hit three times since they had been together. The first time was when he led her out of the hospital and she panicked with all the oddities around her. He had to slap her to still her and punch her stomach to knock her out. She had let it slide without an apology. The second time was when she regained her memories and she had screamed bloody murder at him for lying to her. When she made the unfortunate remark that she was leaving, he slapped her hard enough to send her flying into a wall and cracked her nose. He had spent three days apologizing and holding onto her tightly. She stayed with him even though her heart yearned for another. The third time was when she found out she was pregnant and ran off to find Rumpelstiltskin before she told him. He had dragged her through the house by her hair when she returned and locked her in the basement for several hours before he got the whole story. He had been oh so careful with her since then, feeding her the best of meals and rubbing her in her sore places and keeping her contempt as much as possible. But his actions weren't entirely out of his love for her, but for their unborn child, his child.

How is it possible to replace your firstborn? Maybe that was exactly what he was trying to do, or perhaps he was trying to start over, keep his family together in a world without magic.

"You're smothering me." She stated after a moment. "Nothing is going to happen to me or this baby."

"Did you not here what I said to the imp?" Jefferson hissed. "I have to protect you," he groped her stomach, "both of you!"

"There's a slight difference in protecting and imprisoning Jefferson!"

He grabbed her shoulders and somehow had her on her feet and against a wall in a second. "Darling if I wanted to, I would put you in the bedroom and never let you out."

She shook her hair away from her face, trying to keep her eyes from revealing her fear of his threat.

He glared at her, his hands tightening on her arms. "But then again, I would be like that monster, wouldn't I Belle?"

"Rumpelstiltskin's not the monster here Jefferson, you are!"

He pulled her to him to the point where she could feel the stickiness of his flesh on hers and slammed her back into the wall.

She gasped and held her breath as she felt her child move inside her.

"I'm the monster Belle?" he leered, that insanity she had come to fear glowing in his eyes. "Tell me Darling, am I the one who took you from your friends and family to work in some moldy castle for the rest of your life?"

"He didn't take me I volunteered-"

"Did I flip out when you kissed me and throw you into a dungeon for three days before tossing you out into the streets?"

"That was-"

"And moreover, Belle," Jefferson hissed, pressing against her, "Am I the one who didn't even bother to try to save you when I knew good and damn well who had you?"

Her tongue froze the response she had.

He smiled. "Exactly." He removed the extra weight off of her and examined her miserable exterior. He slid the tip of his finger under her chin and made her meet his eyes. "I haven't hurt you like he did, have I Belle?"

Belle managed a glare. "No, but you're hurting me in your own special way."

He frowned at her and released her harshly. "Why can't you realize that I'm just trying to protect you?"

"Protect, or control?" She gathered just enough gall to stand up to him, just the way she had stood up to Rumpelstiltskin all those years ago. "I love you Jefferson. Not the way I love Rum, I admit, but enough to not to walk out of here with-"

"If you think for a second you'll leave this house with my daughter just so you can end up with that bastard, you're wishing on a well."

"You're the bastard." She retorted.

"Don't make me hold you to that Darling." His grip tightened. "And another thing; I love you, not as much as I love Gracia here, but enough not to grab you by your pretty locks and throw you out the highest window in this house.

"You're just insane enough to do it."

He shrugged. "Love makes us do horrible, regrettable things darling, ask your dear Rumpel."

"I hate you." The words slipped out. It was a buried emotion she had kept rooted for the last six months. But since they were throwing insults in the air, why not let it out.

He chortled. "I know, I know baby." He sang soothingly. His hand went to her stomach, unmoving. Wordlessly, he placed a kiss on her forehead and let them wonder down her neck and jaw until he was at her ear. "If he loved you, he wouldn't have made you worthless." He turned to the house. "I hope our daughter isn't as stubborn as you."

Belle took in a deep breath. "Son."

He stopped. "What was that?"

She gathered her courage. "Son. We're having a boy."

He stared the same way Mr. Gold had, the question of how she could know such a thing in his eyes.

"I just know." She stated with a shrug.

He looked away, pain seeping into his features.

Belle wished she could take that statement back—God she wished she could. She had taken his one hope, his last shred of happiness, crushed it into dust. She felt no better than the evil queen, maybe even worse.

He left her on that note, leaving her to bleed, bruise, cry, whatever she wanted. Except leave. She could never truly be free.

She counted her blessings, what little ones she had at that. Jefferson wasn't superficial like Gaston and valued her opinion like farmers valued rain. He treated her as an equal, even if he did lose it sometimes. He kept his promises, unlike a certain ex-lover of hers. She thought odd that he hadn't made a promise to never touch her again; he probably couldn't keep it any way.

He loved her, in his own sick way. And in the back of her mind, the part of her that didn't remember Rumpelstiltskin and the bond they shared, loved him as well, madness and all.

She slid to the ground, pressing a hand to her belly. The child inside her squirmed, almost as if he was trying to say that she wasn't in this alone. Rumpel wasn't here, and Jefferson would never truly be. At least she had him, her beautiful mix of insanity and perfection.

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I am a MadBelle Shipper all the way. Sue me RumBelle Shippers! 17 more days! (obsessively watches new Promo).