Summary: Sequel to Finding Belle. Its 20 years later in the Kingdom and evil is stirring again.
Disclaimer: I own nothing of the show or the characters.
Pairing: Belle/Rumpelstiltskin Snow/Charming Emma/August and Henry/OFC Sorsha
TROUBLE IN THE KINGDOM:
The Charming family and their court sat at the long dining table with Rumpelstiltskin, Belle, and Sorsha. All chatted idly, companionably. Sorsha had managed to calm down by the time dinner was served and being at her father's right hand also helped to remind her of her position. She was the daughter of the Dark One; the Rising Sun. it wasn't her place to mix with the royal family. Even that knowledge didn't stop her from looking at Henry every now and then as he sat beside his mother. He even glanced at her a few times with a wicked grin on her face. Sorsha repressed a giggle while lifting her goblet to her lips to take a drink.
King James looked to Rumpelstiltskin pushing aside the friendly atmosphere of the banquet. He wiped at his lips, setting aside the napkin, and then said, "I know you asked us why we were here, and now…" James looked to his wife and then back to Rumpelstiltskin, "Our kingdom is in trouble from a great animal. It got the wings of a bat, the head of a wolf and the body of a dragon." The king sighed, "It's been plaguing our people and we need a way to stop it."
Belle looked to Snow saying, "Your majesty, you could have come here sooner for our help." She reached to her right to take Rumpelstiltskin's hand, squeezing it gently. It was her signal to him that they were going to help. He looked to her and nodded. Her husband had already made up his mind to help.
"Of course we'll help you," Rumpelstiltskin knew when he owed someone more than he could ever pay. The King and Queen were such people. "But we need to know more about this beast."
"Do you know what it wants?" This from Sorsha and all eyes turned to her, even Herny's. In that moment she felt foolish for having spoken her question. "Animals or beasts don't just terrorize a kingdom for no reason. This beast must have a human master." Still she kept talking, but she seemed to be making sense to the others. Sorsha always had a unique understanding of animals.
"Uh… no…" Snow faltered. "So far it's burned a few villages, taken some livestock, and injured a few farmers." She fixed her gaze on the young girl. "We don't know who controls it, why it's attacking us, or what it could want. It's why we came here."
"I'm sorry to keep pushing this, but animals don't do anything because they can. This beast has to have a human master. Who could want to cripple your kingdom through your people that much to unleash this great animal?" Sorsha looked to Henry and he watched her with the small amount of pride in his eyes.
"She's right grandmother," Henry leaned foreword looking up the table at Snow White. "Sorsha does have a point. So far this beast has attacked outlying villages. Farms that grown grain for the Castle, livestock." He looked back at Sorsha assuming he would see gratitude in her eyes instead he saw a flash of resentment.
Sorsha felt a spike of anger spear through her. "Thank you, your highness, but I did not need your validation." She pushed away from the table and left the dining hall. Sorsha used her magic to open the tall heavy wooden doors that let up to the west tower. It was where she liked to think.
Henry felt shocked at her outburst, yet he understood it. Looking to Belle and Rumpelstiltskin he said, "I'm sorry for offending her. It was not my intention." In turn he moved away from the table to hurry after Sorsha.
Belle smiled, "Contrary to her recent display, my daughter does have manners." Snow offered up a sympathetic look which Belle greatly appreciated. "Sorsha normally isn't like this." Belle continued rolling her gaze to her husband sitting beside her. He would normally add his opinion, but he was keeping silent.
"Belle, I understand." Snow let it go, "I used to act like that." Beside her James did a half laugh and cough into his napkin which earned him a playful glare from Snow.
Sorsha was pulled to a stop on the spiral steps leading her to the West Tower by Henry. She struggled against him feebly not willing to use her magic to push him away. Her power was useless in this situation, "Let go!" She demanded. Henry was standing so close to her it was hard to think.
"Not until you let me talk to you." Henry pinned Sorsha to the stone wall, keeping her wrists on either side of her head, tying to ignore the tempting rise and fall of her bosom and the sun design emblazoned on her skin. Many times he had marveled at the mark. "I'm sorry if I agreed with you."
Sorsha knocked the back of her head against the stone behind her. She was frustrated and nervous all at the same time. They were two emotions she hated to be feeling in combination. "It's not that." Sorsha let power fill her voice like her father had taught her. Henry took a step back in reaction to the magic spilling across his skin but then he was back in tight against her, his hands resting on her waist. "You confuse me so much… Huntsman," She teased.
"I'm sorry," Henry kissed her forehead over and over. "I'm sorry." Again he kissed her forehead. Pulling back Henry looked her in the eyes. "You confuse me too." He confessed. "I know I love you." Quickly Sorsha covered his mouth, but he moved his head away, "I don't know how to not look at you without love shining in my eyes." He cupped her face. "I don't know how to not want to reach out and touch you, to trace your lips, to marvel at the rising sun that you bear on your skin."
"We have to." Sorsha stressed finding it harder and harder to break free of him. Henry was everything she wanted in a man; his was smart, funny, and gentle. He would be the perfect man for any woman. Yet, he was here with her, with the daughter of the Dark One and he wasn't worried about it. Giving in for a moment, she draped her arms over his shoulder, and kissed him lightly. She could almost taste the beat of his heart in time with the way his lips moved over hers.
Henry pinned her to the wall, his body to hers, his mouth to hers continuing the sweet, gentle kiss she had started. No other woman in his grandfather's kingdom had brought his heart to life quite like Sorsha did. She was vibrant and so full of life that he wanted to be near her all the time to bask in the ethereal glow she had. Then, through the haze of the roiling pleasure that had begun to build between them, a piercing shriek penetrated the almost idyllic slumber of the enchanted forest. Henry pulled back going to the small window, looking out trying to see what it was that had made that sound. But he already knew. "Not here." He muttered.
Back in the dining hall Sorsha saw the King, Grumpy the dwarf, and a few other men getting their weapons. They were intent on hunting this creature. Henry discreetly squeezed her hand before going over to join the six others. With him it made seven. What could seven men hope to accomplish? If she wanted to keep Henry safe, then she would have to be out there. "Let me go with you." She could see the shock radiate through out them all.
"Are you insane?" Rumpelstiltskin shouted at his daughter. "You are not going out there." He was more than willing to let her ride through the forest for however long she wanted, but putting herself in harms was. That was something he would not allow.
"None of them can talk to the beasts of this earth like I can." Sorsha argued looking at her mother for some sort of support, but she read fear in her mother's eyes. She knew why and she didn't blame them for being worried about her but she had to do this. "I can help."
"We'll be fine." James nodded, acknowledging Sorsha's willingness to help. "But the seven of us will be fine. We know how to hunt this animal."
"Eight, you could use me and another bow as well." Sorsha argued. "I can talk to that animal and keep any of you from getting killed." A fog of crimson blue mist surrounded her changing her from the dress back to the leathers she had on prior to dinner. Slung across her back was a quiver of arrows and the bow that would allow an arrow to hit their target. "I know this forest better than you your majesty." Something the king saw in her face must have convinced him.
James knew when not to argue with a determined woman. To Rumpelstiltskin he said, "Don't worry, we'll keep her safe." He knew what it was like to have a child and worry constantly for that child's safety.
"You won't need to dearie, she's not going," Rumpelstiltskin stated.
"Father, it would look even worse if the King and the Crowned Prince were murdered by this animal on our land and we could've stopped it." Sorsha reasoned. Her mother had taught her how to argue with her father and win. It was a skill she was using to her advantage now.
Rumpelstiltskin's resolve wilted under the determined gaze of his daughter. Reaching out, he gripped her forearms. "Be safe." He pulled her close for a hug not caring that there were other people in the room who could see him.
Sorsha felt her heart clench in love for her father, "I'll be safe. I promise." Then, just to put him at ease a little more, she said, "Beside Renegade would turn back at the first hint of danger."
"Smart horse," Rumpelstiltskin commented. He loosened his hold on Sorsha letting her go into certain danger. Instantly his wife's arms were around his waist with her head pillowed on his chest. Gently, barely above a whisper, he said, "She'll be alright."
"I know, she's like you," Belle replied watching her daughter leave the safety of this magical castle to face an unknown creature with the slim hope that Sorsha could communicate with it and gain its trust. Oh the joys of being in a land with magic. Still, the fear crept in and made her mother's heart ached with dread.
Out at the stables Sorsha swung up onto the bare back of her horse Renegade with the other men looking at her. She smirked and angled her head to look her horse in the eyes. If she concentrated she could talk to him without words. 'Let's go' she thought and he was galloping away from the stable. Behind her she could hear the faint beet of the other horses as they raced after her. A few more long strides and Renegade broke into another stride. Magic took them over and his wings appeared taking him to the sky with Sorsha to hold on trying not to grin at the freedom of flying.
Henry followed his grandfather as they raced through the gates, along the road that would take them from the mountains and into the forest. All the while he tried to split his focus to try and keep and eye out for Sorsha. The first hint of danger and he would abandon the rest of them to go and save her. To whatever gods were listening, 'Please don't let her be injured' Henry prayed. If so much as a scratch appeared on her, he would never forgive himself.
In the sky, Sorsha scanned the fading red horizon for sight of the Great Animal as the King called it. Renegade easily moved with the updrafts while keeping her right above the others who rode through the forest. Everything up here was so still she could see for miles and miles. It would be peaceful if it wasn't for the fact there was vicious monster that could fly looking to attack them. For a moment she had a thought to return to the castle, but she shook it off. Sorsha had to do this. She had to prove to her father that she could save herself. Then the wind shifted bringing with it the scent of magic, dark magic. This beast was not a beast at all. Another shriek filled the sky. Sorsha turned to see a black mass rising out of the clouds. Taking her bow in hand, she drew an arrow back; sighting along it to make sure it would hit its mark. One more second. She slowed her heart beat down; every thing else slowed down. It allowed her the time she needed to make the shot.
Henry looked up at the sound of the shriek to see Sorsha as well as he could. She had her bow drawn and she was waiting. "SORSHA!" He shouted, but she didn't hear him. It was then he saw the animal speeding towards her. Suddenly Henry's heart was in his throat. If she didn't make the shot soon then she would get hurt. With his human eyes he could barely make out the arrow leaving the bow and lodging into the wing joint of the beast. Sorsha and her white stallion Renegade were diving down under the cover of the trees. His heart was faltering at the thought of almost having lost her. It felt like Henry couldn't catch his breath. Then Sorsha came into the clearing, her cheeks red, and his chest relaxed a little bit. "Do you get it?" He forced his words to remain even and his eyes not to betray his worry for her.
Sorsha felt her heart galloping in her chest as fast as Renegade had run from the beast. "I managed to get an arrow into its wing. I certainly stopped it for now." She nudged her horse closer to the Kings while keeping her gaze on Henry. "I discovered that it's not a beast." She informed the King. "It's a powerful sorcerer who can take on the form of an animal."
"We should head back to the Castle." Grumpy suggested.
"No," Sorsha counseled. "There are dark things in this forest at night. Evil sprites that delight in making travelers lost. We should make camp and wait for dawn." This was her home; she knew it better than any of them.
"We camp," James looked around. "It's too dark now to see now." He hadn't realized they had strayed so far from the path. Maybe it had been hasty of them to rush out so close to dark after this beast, man, thing; whatever it was.
"We'll gather fire wood." Henry suggested as he swung out of the saddle of his horse.
"No need," Sorsha jumped down and visualized a camp with fire, tents, and a perimeter of torches to keep other things at bay. When she opened her eyes the camp site appeared. Everyone stared at her. "What?" She looked around at the setting, "I'm the daughter of the Dark One and my using magic shocks you?" She put her hands on her hips.
"All magic comes with a price." Henry said, taking a step towards her. He knew what magic could do to a person. Rumpelstiltskin had lost all his humanity. The Evil Queen had been the same. It makes a person numb to others. Except Sorsha was standing there, her eye brow arched, her hip cocked, and she looked annoyed. It nearly made him smile.
"Not if you're magic-born." She dropped her hands from her hips. "I was born to wield magic." Sorsha informed. "My father was cursed, but that curse became his life. I'm a product of true love and magic. I can cast spells, make potions, and conjure without it hurting me." Sorsha let her features soften a little. "Though, if you all want to sleep on the ground then…" Seven voices immediately said 'No' all at once. "Don't think so." She said taking a seat by the fire to watch the flames dance.
In the Enchanted Forest, the great animal fell into a deep briar patch. Crawling out, dressing in all black, Regina stumbled until her undamaged shoulder hit the trunk of the nearest tree. An arrow was lodged in her left shoulder joint. She fought back the urge to scream. Regina had been injured by that brat, by Sorsha; Rumpelstiltskin's daughter. It was bold to follow Snow White here, to follow her family, but Regina still wanted her vengeance against Snow White and she would have it even if it meant wiping out everyone in her path to do so. Gritting her teeth, Regina yanked the arrow from her shoulder. A sharp scream of pain pierced the night as much as she tried to fight it back. She would have to take time to heal before she risked going after the King, the Queen, and now the daughter of Rumpelstiltskin.
At the camp, Sorsha sat by the fire looking at her hands; her skin had an almost unnatural hue at night. The firelight brought out the golden tint more. She was truly her father's daughter. If she wanted she could wreck so much havoc on this land that her name would be just as feared as Rumpelstiltskin. But Sorsha didn't want that. She wanted no one to know her. She wanted to be a stranger in a crowd of people. Though, that would never happen because she was in love with Henry, the Crowned Prince. He said he loved her, he claimed to want no one else but her. What would that do to her?
"You're staring at the fire pretty hard." James had been watching Sorsha for a few minutes as she stared at her hands, then the fire, and then back at her hands. He sat down next to the young woman many of his people referred to as the Rising Sun. If they only knew. Sorsha had been the reason any of them had been brought home. Her birth had been just enough magic to transport everyone home.
"I like to watch the flames." Sorsha answered. "If you concentrate, you can almost see a story unfolding." She curled her fingers making the flames dance, bending them to her will. Just another trick her father had taught her. Then she dropped her hand noticing everyone was watching her again. Sorsha should know better. These people were magically scared and here she was using more magic. It was making them skittish. "I'm sorry; my using magic must bring up a lot of bad memories for you." Sorsha called back the magic, centering it in the center of her body and she imagined a tight fist closing around it.
"No, it's fine. You didn't have to be out here." James said, trying to figure out why she was putting herself in harms way. Snow used to do the same thing. "This isn't the place for a young woman like you."
"Why shouldn't I be given the choice to do all I can do to help?" Sorsha asked. "I'm sure this wasn't the place for your wife, the Queen," Sorsha snapped and then bit her tongue. "I didn't mean that."
"It's ok, really." James smiled. "I shouldn't have said anything. You just seem too nice to be out here."
"Too innocent you mean." Sorsha looked at the king then, "I'm not innocent. My best friend is a werewolf, I can talk to animals, and I use magic like you would wield a sword." She stood up and looked up into the night sky, "This is who I am." Henry stepped up to the other side drawing Sorsha's gaze, "And I'm not going to change." It was for his benefit. Turning from the King and his grandson Sorsha went to tend to Renegade.
James felt confused as Sorsha left. He wasn't sure what she had been talking about until he looked across the fire to see Henry. Then it sort of made sense. Getting up, he went to his grandson. "What was that about?" James asked. For months he had been seeing his grandson keeping some secret from the rest of them. There were times where Henry would escape into the woods for days on end under the guise of hunting but he would return to the Castle with no game; just a smile on his face and a loose lie that the game was scarce.
Henry sighed rubbing his hand along the back of his neck fighting so hard not to look at Sorsha. "Grandpa, there is something I should tell you." He confessed looking to his grandfather. There was the slightest chance that Henry could walk away with advice on how to go about building something with Sorsha, or he might just get a slap upside the head.
TWO YEARS AGO:
Henry sought the silence of the Enchanted Forest. He had ridden away from his grandparent's kingdom early in the morning to find himself close to Rumpelstiltskin's castle. The warning bells in his hear were blaring at him; yelling at him to turn around. Yet, he went on. Then, a wolf's howl reached him. His horse startled but Henry was curious. Calming his steed he managed to guide his horse closer to the howling. It was then he saw her, a woman riding a white horse. She almost looked like she was laughing, talking to someone or something. The howling got louder. Through the trees Henry could see a werewolf loping after the woman. "Ya!" He spurred his horse to follow them.
Sorsha looked over her shoulder to see the werewolf gaining on her. It was a game she knew that, but she couldn't help but feel that small spurt of fear lance through her. Renegade moved faster weaving in and out through the trees. Having done this move dozens of times before, Sorsha leapt from Renegade, rolled, and ducked behind a large tree trunk. Then the growling got closer. Snarling snapping jaws swam into her view. The werewolf was blocking her. She knew she wouldn't be hurt. Inside her mind she could hear the wolf taunting her, teasing her, and Sorsha fought the urge not to laugh. Suddenyl another body barreled into her knocking her several feet away. A moan's voice shouted at the wolf. "What the hell are you doing?" Sorsha shouted.
The woman was yelling at him. Henry kept his eyes on the wolf and shouted back, "I'm saving your life!" He kept his sword pointed at the wolf that was snapping and snarling in earnest now. This was not what he had wanted to happen today. Henry would not end up as dinner for a wolf.
Sorsha beat her fist on the man's broad back, "Make sure someone is in danger first!" She shouted moving around the stranger to look at her werewolf friend. "Alexander you should change back." Like Magic the giant wolf dissolved and there stood a tall man with black air streaked red wearing hunting boots, leather pants, and a white shirt. "I'll be fine." Then he fled into the forest, melting like a shadow. Sorsha rounded on the man who had gallantly tried to save her life though she was in no real danger. "Who the hell are you?"
THE DARK CASTLE:
Belle stood by the window in the main hall trying to see past the mountains and into the forest. She could see nothing but snow capped mountains. Right now her daughter was out there, trying to help, being a hero, and Belle was here worried to death about her. Then strong arms slipped around her waist bringing her back against her husband's chest. Rumpelstiltskin had been watching her watch through the window. "She's out there right now…"
"Sorsha will be safe," Rumpelstiltskin promised. "She has magic, she has that horse of hers, and she's smart." Even though he had tried to exert his will, his influence of his daughter to make her stay, he pulled back at the last second. He wanted to keep her safe, keep her where he could see her, but Sorsha was more and more like her mother as the days wore on. She longed to be free, to see the world. If she wanted, she could leave and never come back. That scared Rumpelstiltskin more than anything; losing another child.
"I felt her fear, a quick burst, but…" Belle hugged him closer to her. "It's like… I don't know." She turned from the window to gaze up into his liquid amber eyes. "Something is coming and I know it will target Sorsha. I feel it." She fought back the natural maternal instinct to run to the stables, saddle a horse, and go out into the night to find her daughter.
Rumpelstiltskin kissed Belle on her forehead, "A mother's instinct is never wrong. I feel it as well. But our daughter is strong and smart. Whatever comes her way, Sorsha will win." There was pride in his voice. How could there not be? As much as he wanted his child protected he knew she could save herself when the time came. "Come on, you need to sleep." Gently he took his arms from around her waist only to lace his hand with hers tugging her towards the doors that would take them up to where their bedroom was. Belle only smirked at him. Still, he could see the looming shadow of fear in his wife's eyes.