Disclaimer: I do not own Once Upon a Time or any of it's characters.

Chapter One: The Deal is Struck

"It's forever dearie," Rumplestiltskin said in a high-pitched tone of voice pointing a finger directly in Belle's face. Three words Belle would never forget. Three words which determined her fate for the rest of her life.

'What a strange man…creature…whatever he is,' Belle thought to herself before responding. "My friends, my family, they will all be safe?" she confirmed.

"You have my word." Rumplestiltskin made a small bow.

"Then you have mine."

Rumplestiltskin giggled and clapped his hands together for another deal gone well.

"BELLE, NO!" exclaimed Maurice, Belle's father, "I can't let you go with this… this BEAST."

Rumplestiltskin looked appalled at being called a beast.

Belle turned to her father and placed her hands on his shoulders, "Father," she glanced over at Gaston then back at her father, "Gaston, it's been decided. I must go with him to ensure the safety of you and our kingdom."

Rumplestiltskin leaned over Belle's shoulder to address her father, "She's right you know."

A shiver went down Belle's spine to feel Rumplestiltskin so close to her. She wasn't afraid of him, but she wasn't sure how close she wanted him either. She caught a whiff of his scent before he backed away. It was nicer than she thought it would be. She could definitely smell the magic, but there was another smell, straw. She always liked the smell of straw. It reminded her of the time she spent outside with her horse, Phillipe. Times she would never enjoy again.

"But what about your safety?" Maurice questioned.

"I will be fine, Papa. Please don't worry. I love you." Belle smiled at him, the last smile of hers he would ever see. She did not want the last thing for him to remember was her being upset and frightened.

Rumplestiltskin put a hand on the back of Belle's waist and led her out the door. Belle was surprised at how gentle his touch was. She looked up at him curiously. Curiosity was always her weakness. Curiosity almost always got her in trouble. Curiosity was partly the reason she didn't object so much to going with Rumplestiltskin. He had intrigued her. Curiosity this time she knew was trouble. She didn't care, 'Anything is better than a life with Gaston,' she thought.

"Belle, NO!" Maurice screamed as the two walked out of the room. Tears formed in Belle's eyes as she heard her father scream for her, but she would not let them fall. She had to be brave: brave for herself, brave for her father, and brave for her kingdom. 'Do the brave thing and bravery will follow,' she told herself.

As the two exited the castle, Belle turned around to get one last look at home. "Take a good look dearie," Rumplestiltskin said in a teasing manner tilting his head where he was looking directly into her eyes, "cause you're never gonna see it again." He touched the tip of her nose as he said the last part. For a second he noticed the hurt she felt towards the words he just spoke, but quickly shook it off. He didn't care how anyone else felt, that was not his nature. "Now take a hold of my arm," he demanded as he held his arm out for her.

Belle looked at him questionably before doing as he said. All of a sudden, purple smoke engulfed the two of them. Belle watched as her kingdom faded away. The purple smoke dissipated, and Belle suddenly found herself looking upon an enormous castle. There were numerous mountains surrounding it. As far as she could see there were no towns or other dwellings. "Is this were you live?" she asked before she could stop herself.

He looked at her for a second. 'Why is she acting so calm? Asking me questions? Such a strange girl…' he thought to himself. "Yes it is. Now let me show you to…your room." He smirked and led her into the castle and down a long stairway. Soon they arrived at the dungeon doors.

"Wait, this is my room?"

"What? Were you expecting a bed and breakfast?" He giggled at his joke, as he shoved her into the room, slammed, and locked the door behind him. "I will be back for you bright and early tomorrow morning!"

Belle listened to his footsteps as he walked away until she could finally hear them no more. After she was sure he was gone, she collapsed on the floor and finally let the tears flow. She cried because she knew she would never see her father again. She cried because she realized she was probably going to live in this cold, dirty dungeon for the rest of her life. Maybe one day she could show him he could trust her not to run away and he wouldn't make her stay down here. 'That's impossible,' she thought, 'he would never show me kindness.' She had heard the stories of Rumplestiltskin. Kindness was not his nature. She wept for over an hour until she fell into a deep slumber on the cold hard dungeon floor.

Rumplestiltskin paused for a minute when he heard it. It was quiet sobs coming from the dungeon where he had just left the girl. Something about hearing her cry made him feel bad. He did not want to hear her cry like that. For a moment he thought about going to get her and taking her to one of the many empty bedrooms that were in his castle. He immediately got infuriated with himself. How could he even think like that? He did not care about this girl; he didn't even know her. He was not going to let her sobs bother him. He turned to exit the dungeon completely. As he went up the stairs he couldn't help but wonder what even make him feel this way.