A.N.: So this is a cross over between HP and Once upon a time, I saw it done once and well…I couldn't resist.
Chapter One: The Price of Freedom
The book was heavy, big, and smelled like an old book. Harry stared at it for a long time, afraid to touch it and too intrigued not to think about touching it. Its front had pretty fancily embossed words on the front, Once upon a time… Harry knew those words meant that this was a storybook. That made it even more tempting, because Harry wasn't allowed storybooks in case he got any 'funny ideas' and he really wanted one. This book had been forgotten about, Harry was sure, because otherwise Aunt Petunia would have thrown it out a long time ago.
He had found it under some loose floorboards in the attic; it made him wonder how long it had been there hidden in that secret place just waiting for someone to read it. Harry's hand fluttered over it nervously before he slowly opened it and began to read. The stories inside it were like nothing he had ever read before; the stories seemed real somehow and almost close enough to touch. There was real pain here; real joys, real heartache and Harry began to wonder about everything he had ever been told.
The 'villains' in this book didn't seem evil to him, they seemed just as hurt…just as heartbroken as the supposed heroes were and they were worse for it since they never got their happy ending. Harry was most fascinated with Rumplestiltskin, the father, the dark one, the heartbroken master, the dealmaker, the trickster, the one who always kept his word and the one who granted wishes. He doesn't understand how the people he made deals with could be mad at the price he asks them to pay for their wishes.
Nothing ever is free…it was their choice to accept the terms of the deal and Harry doesn't understand how they could be angry at Rumplestiltskin for wanting his fair due. Harry thinks about this really hard, his story is not too distant from Cinderella's, but he isn't a girl so he couldn't give him a baby. The thought was sudden…if Rumplestiltskin was real…if he could free him from his relatives and give him a place to really belong…what would be his price.
What did Harry have to give him? Harry then thinks about the strange things that seemed to happen around him…the sweater the shrunk as his aunt tried to put it on him. The teacher's hair that turned blue, the hair that had grown back and the strange wind that must have put him on the roof of the school. If he called Rumplestiltskin, then magic was real if he appeared. If magic was real…then Harry thought he might have some of that and if he did he could offer a trade.
It had to be something he didn't want to give, Harry thought as he touched the smooth picture of Rumplestiltskin's grinning face. Rumplestiltskin always asked for something like that. He thought about being a servant forever, he had never wanted that to happen to him because that would condemn him to a life forever under the Dursley's thumb. But…if Rumplestiltskin could teach him magic…if he could serve him while getting enough to eat and not having to be afraid of being hurt anymore. That might be enough.
So very quietly Harry packed his backpack that night with the book, his blanket and his small broken toys that he had managed to get. He walked slowly to the park, hoping that by being further away from something as normal as private drive would encourage Rumplestiltskin to come. He sat on a swing, closed his eyes really tight and tried to pull at that thing inside of him that stirred whenever something unexplainable happened. Then, with barely a whisper he said, "Rumplestiltskin…Rumplestiltskin…" over and over hoping that the Dark one would come.
There wasn't a sound, just the quiet of the night and then, "Yes dearie," and Harry fell off his swing in surprise. There before him was Rumplestiltskin, all smiles, moving as if he was dancing to his own music and the feel of his magic hung heavy between them. "Now dearie you've called me a very long way, what is it you want?" He asked gleefully as he crouched before him long fingers clasped on his knees. Harry shook himself out of his shock and sat up slowly. "I want you to take me away from this…make sure no one hurts me anymore and…and…I get enough to eat….In return…" Harry gulped and steeled his nerves, "In return I'll be your apprentice, your servant, whatever you need me to be…I'll give you whatever is mine to give!"
Rumplestiltskin looked at him strangely, twitching his head this way and that, "How old are you dearie?" he asked sounding…almost…kind. Harry has had such little kindness that he smiles despite himself, "I'm five sir, I'll be six in July." Rumplestiltskin seemed surprised by something…different…he was hesitating and from the book Harry knows that is not normal…it makes him nervous that he'll say no.
"My deal's cannot be broken dearie. Not after they're struck…are you sure?" Rumplestiltskin sticks his hand out and Harry looks at it. Then he thinks about the Dursleys, about the hunger, about the loneliness, about the pain, and he thinks that if he has Rumplestiltskin's word than he would never have to worry about that again. "As long as I have your word, then I'll be whatever you need me to be forever…I don't want to be here anymore," Harry finishes quietly. "Then you have a deal dearie," Rumplestiltskin smiles maliciously as Harry shakes his hand. He feels a ticklish sensation and they are somewhere else…Harry smiles. It was the start of a new life for him, new yet similar and he was glad for it.
Harry hummed a bit as he banished the dust from the room and set about straightening up the place. It had been five years since the deal had been struck, five years and still sometimes it felt as if it was just yesterday. He touched the pouch at his side where he kept 'the book' and set out to the kitchens to make some tea for his master. It hadn't taken him long to realize that he had come into Rumplestiltskin's story early, and that the events of the book hadn't yet happened.
It had took him a while to decide to keep the book secret, even from Rumplestiltskin because he hadn't been sure he could even keep secrets from his Master. It turned out he could, because while he wasn't quite as powerful as Rumplestiltskin in magic he had come to find out that he was pretty powerful. Powerful enough that his secrets were his own and Harry planned to use that to his advantage. He giggled a bit, the sound was eerily similar to his Master's own malicious giggle but Harry didn't mind.
After all, his Master was his teacher, his mentor, and he was the one that raised him. His Master provided everything he could ever need and Harry was planning on replaying that as much as he was able. Not that his Master knew that, or of his plans to repay him. It had been hard at first, since his Master had been pained to be in his presence that reminded him of his lost son. Rumplestiltskin had fixed his eyes, given him new clothes, given him food and potions to fix what the Dursleys had done. But outside of lessons, chores, and errands Rumplestiltskin hadn't wanted to be anywhere near him.
That had been hard to break him out of, it had taken a year before he had even let him have tea with him, but it had all been worth it. Slowly Rumplestiltskin had begun to entrust him with pieces of his plans, hints at what he could do to help him and even let him go on his deals if he used his magic to remain hidden. Progress was slow, but soon Rumplestiltskin picked up on the fact that he would know things before he did. That when he gave advice Rumplestiltskin should listen and Harry hoped it would be enough the deal with Belle was coming up soon…he could feel it.
Harry wanted to be prepared, because he wanted to tweak the deal his Master would propose just a little bit. It would benefit Rumplestiltskin more, and Harry wanted nothing more than that. So as he eased the tea tray onto his Master's workbench, catching the new Magic Book his Master threw at him a moment later. "Master," Harry began as he fiddled with the book. Rumplestiltskin hummed, dancing about as he worked to complete his latest potion, "Yes dearie," Rumplestiltskin replied as he shot him a narrowed eye glance.
"Master I was looking ahead on some things," Harry began nervously as his Master turned to stare at him sharply his expression carefully blank. His Master twirled his hand in an obvious, 'go on', gesture. "I saw that you will be making a deal with a man named Maurice soon…you'll ask for his daughter because that is the one thing he doesn't wish to give," Harry shifted a bit dancing from side to side, "Ask for her hand, it will be more beneficial."
Harry doesn't say any more as his Master raises an eyebrow and Harry hopes he is not too offended. After Harry had displayed his uncanny ability to know things Rumplestiltskin had given him Tarot cards to encourage his 'talent'. Harry was pleasantly surprised to see he actually had some skill with it, something that his Dark Master hadn't been too skilled at himself. It had taken him five long years to get Rumplestiltskin to trust him enough to take his advice and Harry hoped the time hadn't been wasted.
His Master's face was carefully blank as he twirled his hands and danced from foot to foot. "I have no need of an unwilling wife," His Master began but Harry knew enough now about him to hear his question. "His daughter, Belle, she will agree to do so willingly even though that is the least thing she wants to give. She is…unique…Belle…you will see the benefits of having her as your wife later," Harry hinted hoping his Master would take the bait. "We'll see dearie…we shall see," Rumplestiltskin says before he turns around with flourish and waves his hand impatiently behind him to dismiss him.
However, Harry had seen the curiosity in his Master's eyes…he will go to see Belle early and he will have the price he advised on his mind. He hopes it will be enough to sway Rumplestiltskin into asking for Belle's hand in marriage. Harry knows Belle doesn't love his Master yet, that she will be frightened of the price she will have to pay for her village but she will agree. Harry is sure of that, and he hopes that in doing so he will give his Master some happiness. Harry loves Rumplestiltskin…he is the closest Harry had ever gotten to having a father and Harry is ready to do what he must to see his Master happy. He would work on Belle when she arrived too, work on softening her to his Master and dissuading her from thoughts on escaping.
Belle was nervous, the Ogres were getting closer every day and soon her home would fall to their terrible might. Her father was doing everything he could, and was even in talks with his advisors about asking that man for his help. Rumplestiltskin, every one knew his name and had heard the stories surrounding him. They said he wasn't a man, that he was a monster, a dealmaker and a trickster. If her father was thinking of asking for help from such a man then things were worse than he had ever suspected. Belle hated that she could do nothing to help her people, to help her father, and she would do anything if she could just help them.
"Hello dearie," The voice was high pitched and sounded strange, it startled her badly since she thought she had been alone in her bedchambers. She recognized him, though she had never lain eyes on him before in her life, it was the as the stories had said…but maybe not entirely. He was looking at her curiously, studying her; Belle couldn't take the silence that stretches out between them so she says, "Good evening sir." She curtseys a bit, trying not to show how afraid she is that he is here in her room.
"Sir." He did a little twirl and bared his teeth in a gleeful grin, "I should make everyone call me that!" His voice was high pitched and he put odd tones to certain words, Belle thought he was as menacing as he was silly. "What are you doing here sir? Has my father called for you?" Belle asked nervous. He hummed and tilted his head every which way as he studied her as he could see everything about her. It made her feel exposed even though she was stilled dressed and hadn't yet changed for bed.
He giggled and pointed his finger up while tilting his head from side to side saying, "Wrong question! The true question is…what is it you want?" He danced around her and Belle thought that maybe he just couldn't keep still, "What is it I want?" Belle whispered. He giggled again and said, "Yes, you obviously want something otherwise I wouldn't be here!" Belle fiddled with her dress distracting herself is the pretty gold color and the black beaded designs on the collar as she tried to think about what could have summoned Rumplestiltskin to her.
"My family, my friends, my home," she finally whispered, "can you protect them? They will be safe." He giggled and fluttered his fingers, "It is within my powers to do so." He twirled his hand in her direction as if expecting something and she didn't disappoint. "What is your price? Anything that is within my power to give you is your…name it." Belle said as she stared at him determinately. He was watching her again with those dark eyes, "Anything is a very dangerous thing to give," his voice was dangerous now. But Belle refused to back down, "Name it."
"Then my price is you." He giggled and danced around her. "I shall go," Belle, said resolved. "Its forever dearie," Rumplestiltskin said hands clasped as he stared her down. "They will all be safe?" Belle stared him down searching his face. "You have my word," he replied his voice had gone surprisingly deep. "Then you have mine," Belle said resigning herself to her fate, "I will go with you, forever." No one decided her fate but herself and this is what she chose. To save everyone, to save her home, she would give herself to this powerful man and do her duty as her mother had taught her to.
He giggled his voice was filled with gleeful satisfaction and his voice pitched higher as he said, "DEAL!" Belle nodded, "Can I inform my father?" Belle asked unsure. "Do as you wish dearie, you have two days, then I will come collect you!" He giggled a bit and then he was gone just as suddenly as he had appeared. The next two days for her seemed to have gone in the blink of an eye and she awaited Rumplestiltskin in the great hall. Her father, a few guards, and her former fiancée Gaston surrounded her hoping that they could change her mind.
They bared the door, but he appeared on her father's chair as if he had been there all along. Her father was panicked, he grabbed her shoulders and said, "You cannot go with this…beast…Belle! You cannot!" She looked at her father, studied his face to engrave into her memory, "It has already been decided father." His presence was behind her then, his hand at her waist, his voice dangerously low, "She is right you know the deal is struck." He pinched his fingers as if to seal it in front of her father's eyes.
He giggled as he twirled her around to face him and held out a simple gold band out to her. Belle took it with shaking hands, placing it on her finger she said; "I am yours Rumplestiltskin, now and forever." He giggled and bowed to her mockingly as he offered his arm to her. As they were leaving he stuck his finger up in the air and glanced behind at her father, "Oh, congratulations of your little war." He giggled again as they disappeared from her home forever.
The entrance hall was grand, grander than anything she had ever seen, but it was dark making it seem unwelcoming. Rumplestiltskin danced away from her, in a high voice he called out, "Boy!" He giggled at the confusion that must have been written on her face and fiddled with this dragon skin coat flaring the bottom out dramatically. "Yes Master," came a sweet young voice and Belle gasped at seeing him. The boy looked as far away from Rumplestiltskin's own looks that the contrast as he stood next to him was startling.
The boy had wild black hair, black as the darkest of nights, that was as wild as his Master's…just as untamed. His eyes were the most startling shade of green, like emeralds, clear and sparkling. He was young, no more then ten seasons surely but he looked healthy enough. His skin was smooth, and very pale, a complete contrast to Rumplestiltskin's skin whose skin was green-brown scales that shone with gold. "Well dearie, you will show our fair lady to her room, I have business to take care of," Rumplestiltskin said as he bent at the waist to talk to the young boy.
"Of course Master," the boy said bowing elaborately to Rumplestiltskin and Belle was amused to see that it looked exactly like the bow Rumplestiltskin had given her. He turned to her then smiling a bit, "This way my lady," he said as he made a motion with his hand for her to follow him. Rumplestiltskin had disappeared sometime during that brief exchange so Belle simply nodded and followed the boy a step behind him.
"You'll have to forgive me for being forward, but I somehow had the impression that Rumplestiltskin lived alone in the Dark Castle. Which begs the question, who are you?" Bella asked nervously. The boy smiled at her from over his shoulder and continued to lead her through the winding passages that would lead her to her room. "I'm not spoken of much, mostly because no one knows of me being here so no one can do the speaking." The boy said and giggled in an eerily similar way as his Master. "How is it that you came to be here?" Belle asked curious.
"I made a deal with Rumplestiltskin, some years ago, and have been here as his loyal servant ever since." The boy said as he turned down another passage. "What was the deal? If you don't mind me asking?" Belle asked cautiously. "Oh, not at all dearie, my deal was simple: give me a home, teach me magic, don't beat or starve me and I would be his to command forever." The boy said cheerily in a high voice reminiscent of his Master. "Surely you're situation couldn't have been so desperate?" Belle asked horrified.
The boy turned to her then, his smile all teeth; "I think you will find Belle there are fates much worse then serving Rumplestiltskin for the rest of eternity." Belle nodded in acceptance as he opened the door beside him, "These rooms are yours, all meals will be served in the great hall, and I will come to collect you to lead you there. Should you need anything ask the castle to provide it for you or call for me." He made as if to leave, "Wait!" Belle said, "You haven't told me your name!" The boy smiled at her giving her a familiar bow, "My apologizes you may call me Harry," he said, "I will be back within the hour to guide you to the great hall for supper."