I am now a firm believer in two things ever since I introduced myself to Once Upon a Time, or more specifically, Belle and Rumplestiltskin's relationship. Number one is that Rumple felt immense guilt for having pushed Belle out of his life. And I believe that only increased after the Queen informed him of her "death". Now living in Storybrooke, I can't imagine he doesn't relive those days in regret, like Belle promised him he would. The second thing I believe is that while Belle carries traits such as compassion, intelligence, and kindness - the primary way I've seen her written by authors for this fandom and the things I find most interesting about her - I can't support the notion that she's completely immune to pain or suffering. Her time locked in a hospital for twenty eight years certainly couldn't have eased her mindset.
So, it is with the combination of these two realizations that I've created this story. Rather than exploring a reunion between the pair filled with Belle shyly divulging her feelings and Mr. Gold doing the same in hopes of redemption, I've tweaked the relationship a bit. You'll find out soon in what way. All I ask is that you keep an open mind throughout this chapter, and maybe even future chapters. Lost love brings out the best and worst out of people. I'm simply playing around with a different way the characters chose to respond to it. Only know that Belle retains all of her memories from before the curse, and has ever since being placed in the hospital. Which I'll have an explanation for later on. I don't mean for this story to be angst, in fact, I have some bright goals planned for one of the characters. But I can't guarantee everybody will be happy with their attempt at happily ever after. Anywho, I hope you enjoy!
Ruby's head popped up from the accounting books, pen paused in place.
"Hi," she greeted, eyes briefly glancing to the darkness settled outside. "If you want to get something to eat, you're out of luck until morning. But our coffee is still good for another half hour."
Her guest shook her head, caramel locks swaying with the motion.
"That's not necessary, but thank you," the young woman replied kindly. "I'm just curious about the whereabouts of a man who owns a pawn shop around here. I believe someone called him Mr. Gold?"
Keeping her surprise to a minimum, Ruby directed, "His shop is a few blocks right from here, towards the edge of town near the woods. You won't miss it. And luckily, he keeps his shop open to ungodly hours so I'm sure he'll be in."
And with that, her mysterious guest turned to leave.
"I don't mean to be weird or stalkerish, but what's your name? Usually, I know all the residents of this town. But you're new," Ruby blurted, hoping she could disguise the suspicion in her voice as friendliness.
Not that she wanted to document it as suspicion or be unfriendly.
The woman, having to be at least close to her own age just by the pale smoothness of her features, had slipped in not even a full minute ago, wrapped in a brown cargo jacket far too large for her.
What first forced Ruby to fully take her in was the clear blue of her eyes, like she often imagined the sea to be, from behind a curtain of long, wavy, brown hair.
Really, the enigma was almost instant. Something about the woman appeared almost...isolated. As if she didn't harbor attachments too people often. And for whatever reason, this only made Ruby want to know the woman more. Even if it meant majorly creeping her out.
"My name's Belle," her guest answered politely. "And you're wrong about me being new. It seems like I've been here forever."
The admission caught Ruby off guard. Surely she'd have seen or at least heard of this Belle, especially with her looks.
"Have a pleasant night," the woman offered.
And with that, she turned around and ushered herself back into the black night.
"You too," Ruby responded to the empty restaurant, one pesky question invading her thoughts. Why the hell is she searching for Mr. Gold this late at night?
Belle gazed upon the pawn shop, head tilted as a chill wind blew at her back. The moon currently hid behind the ashy, Maine clouds and all around her, darkness settled in, manifesting a heightened sense of whatever lay in the unknown.
And still she stood, indigo eyes studying the figure hunched over the counter inside, nimble fingers working to fix whatever trinket bothered him so.
He was of course none other than Mr. Gold, feared owner of Storybrooke.
But Belle only knew him by one name, a name seemingly having branded itself into her own skin. A name that hadn't left the entrails of her weary mind, even after the curse or the years she'd been held captive inside the dreary asylum.
The most humorous thought struck her as her eyes scanned every inch of the aged man. He knows of the Queen's wrath, but not yet of mine. Funny, isn't it? Him standing there, so unaware of what is to come. I wonder if he's happy now.
This thought was followed by a shiver of disdain. Of course he's happy. He ridded me like an owner does a bothersome pet. As long as he wins in the end, that's all that matters.
Without realizing it, Belle's fingers curled into fists within the pockets of her jacket and the serene smile she'd been sporting, twisted into a deep frown.
And yet a part of her, perhaps the joyful innocent side who'd once been filled with forgiveness, offered her a way out. To simply turn back, find her father, and leave matters alone. Forget this nonsense of revenge and save it for carnivorous creatures like the Queen.
But this optimistic voice of logic was completely eradicated by the anger living inside her. An anger having been bred from years of living inside her own mind, mulling over the emotions she'd been discouraged to find affected her just as much as they would any other being.
She all too easily remembered succumbing to the heartache after being forced to retreat back to her village once dismissed from Rumpelstiltskin's castle, chest empty and cold, pride bruised and maimed, heart swearing to never be tricked into such a foolish notion as love again.
There was humiliation at having felt anything for the man others had deemed a monster, at all. Humiliation and a breach in confidence so reminiscent of spending her time as a child in the palace, standing up to the warriors who had called her father weak and inept.
She didn't know when the ability to love, simply withered away inside her like a neglected chrysanthemum. But it had and once it departed, there was no way for her to bring it back.
Revenge never even crossed her mind until after the curse. Sure, she thought critically, almost obsessively over what occurred, but to be honest, the blame was aimed at herself for being stupid enough to try and change a man who refused it. Really, the decision had been his to make.
But all of that changed a week ago.
Right now, however, she forced this memory away. Private musings for another time.
At the moment, she had a mission. One she wouldn't deter from, even if in the compassion of her heart, she knew it to be wrong.
The Mr. Gold standing inside the shop, comfortable with his lavish, lonely life...well, he would quite soon come to experience a brand new emotion.
And nothing, not even the most exquisite deal in the world would avert him from such a fate.
Belle wasn't sure whether his senses had simply dulled after the curse or he chose to ignore her, but whatever the reason for his continued focus on the antique pocket watch, she was thankful for the brief period of anonymity. It gave her the opportunity to load her thoughts and make sure they'd be released in the ways she wanted them.
A life time ago, she had been locked within his wards where his word was law.
This time around, she hoped to wield such grand power.
"Here to arrest me for something, Emma?" Mr. Gold boredly questioned after a full minute of muteness, eyes still pasted to the trinket.
Belle smiled sadly. Must be his current lover.
"Why on Earth would someone wish to arrest you?" she inquired softly.
The transition in posture was immediate.
As soon as the words were out, his entire form froze, watch slipping out of the once eager fingers ready to fix it. His thin, brown hair sheltered the emotions scurrying over him, but the slight shake of one hand alerted her to the sudden surprise coursing through him.
Odd how he still remembers me. But perhaps it will be better this way. Belle made no move to approach him, simply studying Gold's features curiously. Shame he's still so handsome.
With a rough shake of the head, the devil of dealings ever so gingerly tugged his brown eyes up, focusing his gaze on her with an intensity that could knock down any being who hand't expected it.
The disbelief was the most evident in the naked stare, but a whole slew of untraceable emotions lingered just behind it.
He's shocked. The brunette struggled not to smile at this revelation.
His voice held everything she once had longed to hear. Abashment, wonder, hope, passion, desire, and longing.
"You-," but the words didn't follow, evaporating by the time they'd reached his throat.
Allowing her first deceptive smile of the night, Belle calmly revealed, "Don't worry, Rum, I remember everything."
And with that, she risked two steps toward him, mind spry and speculative.
Old feelings stirred inside her chest at calling him by his nickname. But she simply brushed them off, far too focused on the matter at hand.
He repeated her name just to taste it, to make sure it was real.
Then, to her amusement, he shakily stood from his spot with a grimace. By now, a bit of comprehension soaked into his features.
"I can't take back the actions of the past," he expressed hastily, unable to speak with his normally confident manner. "But Gods, dearie, know how sorry I am. I let you go. I did not know a mistake could exist so grand as the one I made that night."
"Hush," she soothed, approaching the front counter.
Gold only shook his head, opening his mouth to speak again. She could tell already that a jumbled mess of words were ready to be expelled, but she stopped them all simply by raising her right hand and moving it to his cheek.
Her thumb sprang out and ran itself over the curve of one cheek.
"Belle," he repeated, far more softly, eyes illuminating figments of the man he'd kept hidden so flawlessly. "I want-."
"Hush, I said," Belle insisted more firmly, blue eyes following the trail her thumb indulged in.
The action never meant to be seductive, but for a moment, she allowed herself to wonder how often Rum had dreamed of her touch.
There was longing stirring in the specs of orange in his eyes, and lust buried further back. His lips were parted, and ever so slightly, he had leaned forward, embracing the contact in an almost sporadic hunger.
"Are you ready to listen now?" she asked gently, ceasing her exploration.
Gold nodded a bit weakly as his posture attempted to straighten, indicating that his shock was receding.
"Good," Belle murmured, fingers suddenly making their way past the stubble of his jaw before sliding their way down to the soft fabric of his black suit.
For a moment, a look of pure contemplation overtook her features in the dead silence.
"I'm going to make you suffer."
Gold's eyes widened.
But before he could reply, Belle's hand sank down to his chest and grabbed a hold of his maroon tie, tugging him forward.
"Like you made me suffer," she sweetly reminded, eyes glued to the tanned column of his throat. "I am going to flaunt myself. I am going to flirt. I am going to fuck the brains out of whatever man so much as shows and interest in me."
By now, her smile had dropped, but her grip did not relent, only pulling the man forward until mere inches were left between their faces.
"And you know what?" she laughed humorlessly, eyes darting up to meet his. "There's not a damned thing you and your apology can do about it. You wished to be rid of me? You will be. But I'll die a thousand deaths before leaving you with even a remote belief that happiness can be yours once again. That is a promise, Rum. And aren't you so very fortunate to know that I don't break my promises?"
Without even allowing curiosity to pique as shock stormed through him once again, Belle shoved Gold back with a cold glare. He didn't stumble, hands having gripped on to the counter, but he stared at her with such astoundment that she had to fight to control a smile.
Forcing away her gaze, Belle offered the entire shop a final scan, truly taking it in for the first time.
"I hope you've enjoyed your comfortable life," she noted lightly, refusing him the eye contact he so desired. "And I hope it was all worth it, the power that is."
Her voice leveled off at the last part, and this time, it was her turn to feel a flicker of surprise. I have to remain strong and detached, or else he'll never believe me.
Luckily, no words had yet slipped from Gold's stunned lips.
"Sweet dreams," Belle offered, throwing him a smirk before turning and exiting the shop.
She didn't know how long Rum would stand there, or how long it'd be before he made it his mission to track her down.
Because he would. There was no doubt in her mind about that.
But she meant to carry out every threat she'd promised. And if she was lucky, afterward, the pain still buried inside, far too deep for any compassion to reach, might finally desert her for the first time in nearly forty years.
She's not insane, if you're wondering. The hospital didn't drive her to act this way. But Belle does believe that the same suffering she faced, should be felt by Rumplestiltskin. Only because she's so convinced that his life is better and that his suffering will perhaps end hers. Yes, a Belle from the fairy tale world wouldn't stoop to this form of revenge. But a Belle who's been contained to solitary confinement for 25+ years, having nothing but her thoughts for company, very well could. And boy is she going to make things offly uncomfortable and difficult for poor Rum. Not that he's entirely undeserving of it. Anyway, if this captured your interest at all, let me know your thoughts in a review. If it's too far out of the realm of possibility, thanks for reading anyway. I'm simply playing around with ideas and wonderfully written characters. Plus, Adele practically preaches vengeance in her songs. It's time to have a bit of female power!