Author's Note: This was a story born out of the need to write something Rumbelle and it is the first (and more than likely last) story that I have written for the fandom. The creature I am using is a generic gorgonopsian, not limited to one particular species of gorgonopsians. Thank you agontry for your help in editing my story! I know I said that I was going to write something humourous, but I couldn't help myself.
Summary: On the verge of being eaten by a terrifying predator, Belle and Mr Gold try to find a place of hiding.
'No, you have to run!' shouted Mr Gold as he followed Belle, limping as fast as he could through the woods, but Belle would not leave him. She had attached herself to him and would not abandon him to the monster that pursued them. In anger over Belle's impending danger, Mr Gold snapped, 'Let go of me! Run, Belle!'
'No! I am not leaving you!' shouted Belle in pure defiance. They had had this dispute before and to be perfectly honest, even if she did leave him, Belle hadn't the faintest idea on where to run, for what could be safe from a lion-sized, reptilian monster that hunted with similar, cunning tenacity?
'Just go! I'm only slowing you down! Please Belle, just run!'
This only tightened Belle's hold on him as she practically dragged Mr Gold through the forest.
Seeing that he had no choice but to go with Belle, Mr Gold tried to pick up his pace, but as he did so, he took in the surrounding scenery and spotted a tree that was just perfect for climbing. 'There! That tree!' he exclaimed and gave his arm a heavy thrust to send Belle away from him.
She looked back at him, worried that he was going to leave her.
'I'm right behind you, Belle.'
Belle grabbed the bottom branch of the tree and pulled herself up. The strength in her arms surprised her and she lifted herself easily, but then her foot slipped and she nearly fell from the branch and slammed her knee into the bark. She hissed in pain but immediately felt Mr Gold pushing her up again.
'Go on, I've got you!' exclaimed Mr Gold and he offered a comforting smile to Belle, who received it with a gracious smile of her own.
The sudden snarl of the beast forced Belle to resume climbing at once. The creature's thunderous roar shook Belle's already trembling body but she did not stop climbing. Only when she heard a pained cry from Mr Gold did she move to a branch to secure herself before looking down, but whatever had transpired between the creature and himself, Mr Gold was already slowly climbing up the tree with the creature laying on the ground, momentarily stunned by whatever had struck him.
'Did you use magic?' she asked, knowing full and well that if he had, she certainly wouldn't blame him nor would she be even the slightest angry as it had just saved their life.
His ascent was slow and quite laboured, something that Belle attributed to whatever had caused his limp. She frowned and helped Mr Gold came to a branch perpendicular to hers and helped him to lean against the tree.
'No,' Mr Gold said softly. 'That beast had a collision with the tree.'
'You don't think it can climb trees, do you?' Belle asked, gazing down at the creature whose front paw had started scratching at the air.
Mr Gold winced and groaned softly in pain. Then, looking up at Belle, he tried once more to reassure her with a smile that he wasn't entirely sure was convincing, and replied, "I really hope it can't otherwise…'
'You might have to use magic?'
Mr Gold smiled and let his head rest against the tree and shut his eyes. He pulled his arm against his side and cringed. How treacherous the forest could be!
'Just what is that, that creature? Can it even be called that? I've never seen anything like it!'
'You wouldn't have,' replied Mr Gold without opening his eyes. 'It's not even supposed to exist here. Its kind is extinct.'
For a short while the air was still as the treed prisoners surveyed the dazed predator below them. Soon though, the growling of the creature grew louder as it picked itself up. After giving itself a thorough shake, it began patiently pacing around the base of the tree, an action that caused Belle to hug the tree in dread anticipation. The creature's breath fell noisily in the heavy air and even from their position, Belle could see the pair of sabre-like teeth protruding from its mouth. Then, as though sensing Belle's gaze, the brutish beast snapped its head upwards, fixed her gaze with its glossy black eyes and snarled.
There was blood upon those cruel teeth.
'Rumplestiltskin,' stammered Belle as she placed her hand gently on his shoulder. 'You're not hurt, are you?'
Mr Gold wouldn't answer and kept his eyes shut. He tried to pull at his jacket, but the movement directed Belle's gaze to precisely what he didn't want to reveal; a growing bloodstain on his side. Belle stroked his cheek and spoke in alarm, 'You're bleeding! You need to get that looked at!'
Mr Gold leaned in to the touch and sighed softly, enjoying the warmth of Belle's fingers against his cheek. There was no use denying the sorrow he felt in knowing that he would never feel Belle's tenderness again, nor could he deny the absolute fear that gripped him in knowing that his decision would make him either brave or a coward. To live would mean a cowardly action but bravery required sacrifice. Belle deserved life; she deserved seeing another day. But in what way should she regard him? The coward who used magic to save their lives, or the noble hero who struck to his promise of not using magic, and died to ensure that Belle would live. Either way, his life was forfeited.
'Rumplestiltskin, please, talk to me!' exclaimed Belle as she swept her fingers up his cheek and into his hair, turning his face towards her. 'What are you thinking of? Let me plan with you! Let's do this together!'
Mr Gold grimaced and frowned at Belle. 'It is my decision, Belle.'
Glancing down below at the creature that had its paws up on the tree, Mr Gold sighed deeply. It wasn't some magical beastie from a fairy world; it was a gorgonopsid, the apex predator of its time and place back in the Late Permian, and somehow, it had found its way into Storybrooke.