a/n: Only a few more days till season 2! Sorry for any inaccuracies, just a little idea I was messing around with.

The winters near the large estate were particularly nasty. The land was in an everlasting frost, getting up in degrees just enough to wear a light cloak and thin boots. Otherwise, the wind howled and the bitter chill seemed to ever be present in her master's bones. Belle had lived with this man for a little over a month and had seen the booming wind hit the windows and the soft flakes land across the rooftops.

As Belle tidied the massive home and scrubbed each tile, she began to feel the frost melt from Rumplestiltskin's demeanor. Each day he smiled a little more, told a small joke, and gave her tastes of a past freedom. When she was first taken to these mountains, she figured that he would never falter and she would forever be in a state of misery. She was kept trapped in the small prison room for the first few days, given small portions of bread and meat and a jug of water. Yet this did not pain her since she had expected worse. She expected this beast of a man to take full advantage of her services. But he did not touch her skin or make comments to her in any lewd way. He was quite respectful, besides keeping her locked in a cell.

It only took a few days for a feeling of warmness to enter the frozen air. One morning she awoke to find warm porridge and a bowl of fresh berries and sugar. It was the very end of winter and she had woken up shivering each morning. The warm mixture was a thankful welcome. When he came to release her, he held a folded bundle in his arms. She had been wearing the golden dress since she had arrived, and a few days worth of wear scrubbing and dusting had taken its worst on it considerably.

"It seems you could use a new attire, Dearie."

She cocked her eyebrow at him but couldn't allow that small smirk to slip out. Cursing herself silently, she waited for him to turn before she donned the new dress. It was blue and white and seemed fitting enough for her new role as a common maid. Still, she was not upset but please with now feeling better fit for the job.

As the weeks went on, she felt like she was cleaning her own home instead a prison. As she walked the wooden floors, she felt more at ease than on edge of being attacked. Each day brought out the sunshine more, if only she was allowed to see it past the bolted curtains. But it was still winter, and what was freezing at home was a nightmare here.

This morning she woke a bit late as the rays of sun were already filtering through the bars. She looked around her room, now having been given a few homing gifts such as a blanket and a small table to put a glass on, and wondered why Rumplestiltskin hadn't woken her as he did every morning. This greatly confused her as she quickly slipped into her shoes and wandered out of the room. The estate was huge, beyond her father's home and her entire village it seemed. Random rooms would pop up she would have normally been unaware of and she would feel silly for not having cleaned them already. When she would bring this up to her master, he would just smile and say: "Oh, Dearie, there is a lot you don't know about me."

It was especially true today. No matter where Belle looked, he was nowhere to be found. Most mornings he gave a small list of things he would like done and even though she could fare without the list, it made her curious as to where he went. Once, a few weeks before, he had left for a few days and made sure to leave behind a detailed list of what was to be done. With Rumplestiltskin gone for the morning, as far as she could tell, this gave her adventuring a bit of a spark. She had yet to be in the attic and without his dark eyes watching her, she felt brave enough to venture. Silently racing down the hall, she came upon the ladder leading up to the little trap door in the ceiling. Placing her foot on the first step, she pondered what she would see in the mysterious attic. There were many strange things that this man owned that he must have inquired from what she could only tell as strange adventures. In a way she was jealous of what splendid things he must have seen in his years. She knew little of Rumplestiltskin before the deal was struck. Bits of fable had seeped out every now and again about how he would make deals that tended to be one sided. Rumors were he was immortal and have been alive for centuries. Other state that he cared for no one and no one would ever care for him.

Reaching the top step, she beheld the door with a rose emblem on it. Belle caught her breath for a moment; in fear he was waiting behind that door and would pop out laughing at her for trying to do her own bidding. Yet what would he do besides lead her back down the steps and set her on her way. Taking in her courage, she opened the door and stepped into the dusty room. The room was painted gold with sunlight, something she only seen in small sections for quite some time. It landed on her skin and she soaked in its burning rays. Something was telling her to hurry, though, so she quickly began to investigate.

There was not much in the immense room. A few trunks near one corner and an old tattered rug laying dead flat on the floor. So she did what any adventurer would do and looked in the trunks. It took a few minutes to open them due to dust and cobwebs and age, but she eventually pried one top open. To her surprise it was not ancient items or magical gems but instead clothing. These were not Rumplestiltskin's attire, but the rags of a small peasant boy. Tattered cloth trousers and torn boots were stuffed in this old chest. Why would this man keep a fair amount of ratted clothing that he clearly did not and could not wear? Unless they weren't his…


She heard the calling coming up the steps and she quickly jumped up in response. There was no anger in his voice yet she feared the worse. She whispered to herself about how she was a dead woman as she ran across the room. Like the spirits themselves were listening, she felt her foot catch on a raised area in the rug and soon tumbled to the ground. Hearing the snapping before feeling it, she screamed in pain as her ankle twisted in the wrong way. She sat up and tried to bring her leg towards her, but the feeling of the floor moving against her foot made her cry out again. The rug was now bundled in the middle even though she could have sworn it was lying completely flat when she walked in. It was as if the rug was purposely trying to trip her. No matter, her attention was on her ankle and how it was faced the wrong direction.

When she was a child, she had pulled some muscles in her ankle falling from a tree. She was bedridden for a month and had a pain in it for at least a year afterwards. Seeing how the bone jutted against her skin, she had a feeling this was far more serious than a few pulled muscles. Her mind was racing with the pain she felt and now how she was going to be found by her master. She tried to move it one last time, but it sent a ripple of pain up her leg.

"What has happened here?" Rumplestiltskin's voice was behind her and she could feel his breath on the nape of her neck.

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," She cried, being careful to not touch her ankle.

"Looks like you took quite a trip, Dearie," He smiled as he came into her view.

It was not a menacing smile, but a reassuring smile. She was unsure what he would do to her, and through her tears she tried to look strong, but she knew he could feel her weakness. He knelt down near her, sitting on his heels.

"Take in a deep breath for me, would you?" He whispered, his right eye crinkled as he gave her a smirk.

Unsure what he was planning, she took in the breath as he gripped the ankle. A strange warm sensation washed over her limb that quickly became fierce and burning. The pain was too much and she let out a scream as she felt the bones connect again and what felt like strings tying themselves around the wound. When the pain died down, she found that he was cradling her foot in his lap and lightly rubbing what was once the break with his thumbs.

"What have you done?" She gasped, no longer feeling pain.

"Looks like I fixed your ankle," He said, still lightly rubbing. "You could thank me."

"Thank you," She mumbled.

She wasn't sure if she was more surprised when he fixed her ankle or now that he was offering his hand to help her up. Accepting, she allowed him to use his strength to lift her back onto her feet.

"Now lets just make a little deal," He said, sending a chill down her spine colder than the winds of the estate. "Don't ever come back up to the attic. If you heed my warning, I promise you will never be in danger here. Understand?"

Belle nodded, still in shock over what just happened. Her master, this monster of man, was giving her a form of protection? She followed him down the ladder, taking care to not fall and go through the crazy bone healing again. She wanted to bring up the box she had found, but knew that this was not the right time. Even though she was safe, she didn't feel like she was out of the fire yet. The way things were going though, she didn't think that would take long.