Belle breathed deep of the cool morning air as she stepped out onto the sidewalk. Although the inn was close to the diner, the fresh air always lifted her spirits, which were dismally low. If there was any news from Manhattan, Belle was ignorant of it. Aside from the initial confession that Rumple had found Baelfire, she had been unable to glean further information from Ruby. Although eager to expound on every aspect of Belle's life in Storybrooke, including her penchant for impossibly high heels and nineteenth century literature, Ruby was surprisingly silent on the subject of Rumplestiltskin. Belle was certain the whole town was talking about Rumple's reunion with his son, just not when she was in the room.
As she walked down the street, she fidgeted with her cell phone, debating whether she should just call him. She was impatient for his return. Her heart was a stone inside her chest. Despite the recovery of her memory, she did not feel at home in Storybrooke. The town suited her like an ill-fitting wool sweater.
From the corner of her eye, she spied the tall, brooding form of Captain Hook. He stood, dressed in his long black coat with silver buttons, across the road on the corner of the street. When he saw that she noticed him, he smirked and spread his hands out, dipping in a low bow. The motion made him wince with pain. As he rose, he held a hand over one side of his chest, where his broken ribs were still mending. Pushing aside the urge to cross the street and slap him in the face, she waved awkwardly at him, as if she were trying to figure out who he was. This only made him grin all the more. He puckered his lips in a proffered kiss before sauntering down the street in the opposite direction. If she'd had a cane, she might have cracked a few of his ribs herself.
Somewhat unnerved, Belle walked into Granny's and took her usual seat at the counter. Ruby smiled, handing her a bowl of sliced fruit and a blueberry muffin. Belle thanked her and ate slowly, thinking of quiet morning of work ahead. Yesterday, Ruby had taken her to the library and attempted to explain what Belle did as Storybrooke's librarian. The experience was painful. When Ruby knocked over a case of carefully organized reference materials, Belle picked up a random ledger book and pretended to discover an elaborate set of notes in her own handwriting.
"Was I thinking about hiring a second librarian? These instructions are so detailed," she mumbled as she pretended to scan the pages.
Ruby shoved her hands in her pockets and said, "Um, you know. I don't really know."
Belle clapped the book shut and smiled. "Now you know how I feel."
With minimal effort, she persuaded Ruby to let her work in the library a few hours a day. "It would be like therapy, or something," Belle urged. This was true. Belle cherished the thought of being left to herself even for a few hours, without having to act the part of the amnesia patient. Plus, it would help fill the long hours of the lonely day.
As she stabbed a piece of cantaloupe with her fork, she noticed Mary Margaret and David enter the diner. They seated themselves in a secluded corner booth at the back of the diner. Huddling together over coffee, they spoke in hushed voices. Belle could only catch snatches of their conversation. Late last night. Unexpected. She heard names too. Henry. Emma. Gold.
He was back. Belle opened her large brown leather purse. Inside, tucked among her lipstick and hairbrush, as always, was a small, white box wrapped with a blue satin bow.
Belle wiped her mouth and called to Ruby, "I'm going to go. See you tonight, ok?"
Ruby nodded and smiled as she carried a plate of pancakes to another customer's table. Without another word, Belle casually left some money on the counter, scooted off the stool, and calmly headed for the door. As soon as she was out of sight of Granny's Diner, she sprinted down the street. She was glad she had traded her stilettos for a more sensible, yet still fashion-forward, pair of flats. The three blocks to the pawn shop flew by in a blur as she hurried to the glass door. The shade was drawn, which meant the store was closed. However, she knew Rumple often rose early, tinkering in his office at the back of the shop until it was time to open for the day. With bated breath, she rapped on the door softly. Inside, she could hear voices, male voices. Her spirits sank. They were arguing.
"You went back on our deal."
"I'm sorry," hissed the other voice. It was Rumple. Belle could hear the grief behind his venomous tone. "How many times do I have to say it before you'll believe me?" Belle touched the pane of glass which separated them.
"I don't know! But you can't just expect to pick up like I'm 14 again, alright? As far as I'm concerned, I'm an orphan—a lost boy. I don't have a father."
Belle could hear no more. She was about to knock on the door again when it was flung open, nearly knocking her over. A young man, not much older than Belle herself, burst through the doorway sighing angrily through his nose. He slammed the door shut and cursed under his breath. Despite what she had overheard, Belle had to restrain her smile. The young man with dark, mischievous features, and devious brown eyes resembled his father, not only in form, but also in spirit. So, this was Baelfire.
"The shop's closed," he grunted.
Belle bit her lip. "I need to speak with Mr. Gold," she managed.
"Then come back when we're open."
Baelfire held open his arms, then gestured to the door, projecting his anger onto Belle. "Then by all means, go right on in. I really couldn't care less." He called a little louder for the benefit of his father, "I'm outta here!" Bae flicked up the collar of his jacket and shoved his hands into his pockets. He stomped off in the direction of the diner.
Belle watched him leave with concern. Something was wrong. Why had Baelfire come back to Storybrooke if not to reconnect with his father? Poor Rumple, her heart ached for him. Had he waited 300 years to find his son only to be rejected? She could only imagine the pain he suffered. She placed her hand on the latch and slowly opened the door.
The bell over the entrance jingled as she quietly pulled the door shut behind her. Belle closed her eyes and took a deep breath. He was in his office, but she could hear his quick-slow step approaching.
From the back of the shop, he called out with resignation. "Bae, don't—" he stopped mid-sentence when he caught sight of Belle. He stood, unmoving in the silence, his face carved in heartbreak.
"Hello," she said shyly.
"Hello," he replied. His voice was quiet and his answer short. She had caught him off guard in a vulnerable moment. "I heard you had left the hospital," he commented matter-of-factly.
"Yes, I've been staying at the inn. Trying to figure things out."
"How's that going?" he asked sincerely. His eyebrows were up and pushed close together. His suffering and concern were genuine.
"I left behind some pretty thorough notes at the library. We're set to open next week."
"That's wonderful," he said in a breathless fashion. His disappointment went unchecked.
"Yes. Right on schedule," she nodded. She took a tentative step forward. Her right hand gripped the strap of her bag like a vise. She bit her lip and looked down. "I wanted to come and apologize for…last time."
He held up a hand and shook his head. "No, no, no, no. Don't—don't worry about that. It was my fault."
"No. I'm sorry. I wasn't myself. I wanted to come by as soon as Dr. Whale discharged me, but you were gone."
"I went out of town for a bit."
"I heard," she said with a sad smile. "How was your trip?"
He furrowed his brow, as if unsure how to answer. He threw up his hands, blew out a heavy breath, and offered, "Productive."
Belle cast her eyes down at the floor. Standing in front of her was a man who for three centuries had kept no counsel save his own. It was no wonder his persona was as stiff as one of his heavily starched shirts. He was in desperate need of the listening ear and available shoulder which she was willing to supply. But, first, she would give him her heart. When her head rested against his chest, his arms wrapped about her shoulders, his hands gently stroking her back, and then she would hear his tale from beginning to end. The truth would flow out of him like cool water from a glass pitcher.
He cleared his throat, as if unsure of how to fill the empty silence. He looked at her as one looks at a deer encountered in the wild: wanting to draw close, but afraid any sudden movement might make her bound away, out of reach forever. She offered a polite smile, hoping to ease his apprehension.
He returned it lamely but then quickly turned towards the back of the shop. "Excuse me, just for a moment" he barely choked out before retreating into his office.
Belle removed her purse, then her coat, laying both down on one of the display cases. She removed the little white box from her purse and cradled it gently with both hands. Without permission, she followed him to the back room, her footsteps as silent as the night. He was facing away from the door, toward the cluttered shelves, both palms pressed down against the wooden countertop.
He sniffed loudly and said, "If you don't mind, this is my office. Customers aren't allowed."
She softened at the lame attempt to preserve his pride. "I've brought you something," she said.
His head inclined in her direction. She walked over to his side and set the small white box down on the counter beside his left hand. He tentatively pulled the ribbon loose and opened the box. Inside, cradled in tissue paper was the teacup she had shattered.
"You fixed it?"
Belle bit her lip and said, "It seemed so important to you. I did my best to glue it back together. I'm sorry, but uh, it's chipped. You can hardly see it."
"It's just a cup," he replied sadly, quoting his words from so long ago.
She placed a hand on his shoulder and whispered into his ear. "No, Rumplestiltskin, it's not."
His name on her lips was a powerful enchantment. Spellbound, he turned towards her. Though few in number, tears trailed down his cheeks. His soul was reforged in front of her very eyes.
"Yes, it is," he answered with a whispered breath. His dark brown eyes were fixed on her. Hope was beginning to erase the taut grimace of his breaking heart. "In comparison to what I had, it's nothing."
"Have," she corrected gently.
As if drawn by a magnetic force, she reached for him. She sighed softly as she felt each button, fold, crease, and pocket of his well-tailored suit press against her body. She had found home. Home in his arms. Home in his embrace. His lips pulled at hers, demanding every ounce of love she possessed—past, present, and future—in this single moment until she was faint for breath. She surrendered to him all which she held in her heart and found the supply never diminished. He leaned into her, and the weight of his frame pressed against hers.
"They told me you remembered nothing," he wept, ferverently kissing her cheeks and the skin of her neck just below her ear.
"I wanted you to know first," she whispered between soft contented sighs. "I came as soon as I heard you were back."
Suddenly, he pulled back and held her at arm's length. His eyebrows arched quizzically. "Wait. How is it possible?" He picked up the poorly reassembled cup and said, "This can be mended. The charm cannot."
Belle crinkled her brow. "You don't know?" She released him and pulled her little golden chain out from underneath her burgundy cashmere sweater. The rose pendant reflected what little light filtered through to the back room. "My necklace..."
He ran a finger over the miniature rose where it lay against her chest. "I remember this. You wore it every day at the castle."
Belle nodded, "My mother gave it to me."
A knowing glimmer passed across his face. He pointed at the necklace, "It's your talisman."
"So, you did enchant it."
He shook his head, "I left it at the hospital, nothing else."
"If you didn't, who did?"
"A good witch," he answered as he buried his face in her hair. "To whom I am eternally grateful."
Belle remembered Linda's twinkling eyes and perceptive smile. "A very good witch."
Rumple gathered Belle's hands in his and held them against his chest. He closed his eyes and murmured, "Belle, something's happened." He paused before confessing, "I've lost my power."
Belle furrowed her brow. Her fingers traced the ridge of his brow before kissing it tenderly. She took him in her arms. He breathed deeply and rested his head against her shoulder. Magic had been part of Rumplestiltskin's life for nearly 300 years. Losing it was like losing an appendage.
"I had to remove Bae's shawl when I passed through airport security. It was only a moment, but it was enough to put me back under the Dark Curse."
"I don't understand. Your memory—"
Rumple cupped Belle's face with both hands, his eager eyes drinking in the image of her features. "For me, it was never about forgetting." He dropped his hands down to rest upon her shoulders. "When the Dark Curse was cast, I kept my memories. I lost the ability to use magic."
She laid her head on his chest, mostly to hide her ambivalence. For as long as she had known him, his magic had been fueled by darkness. More than anything, she wanted to see him freed from its corrupting influence. Even so, she thought of Hook on the street corner, watching her, and of Cora and Regina's search for the dagger. Magic exacted a price, not only in its coming, but also in its departure.
"It's okay," she muttered without conviction.
He sighed heavily and said, "Perhaps. Perhaps not. My list of enemies is long. Their attacks are kept at bay only because they believe I cannot be defeated. And, now, that's just another illusion. "
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. I've tried."
"Try again," she urged, kissing his lips quickly.
He flicked his wrist, igniting a small white fire with a fuchsia flame at its center appeared in the palm of his right hand. His eyes widened in surprise.
"Not so sure," he mumbled.
"It's different," Belle spoke in awe. Usually, the flames raged with an orange fury. However, this fire flickered calmly, emitting steady warmth.
"Yes," he agreed. "Quite." His left arm still wrapped around Belle, he tested the flame he held in his right. Belle had to shield her eyes from the brilliancy of its light and turn away from the radiating waves of heat. With a grunt, Rumple snapped his hand shut, extinguishing the blaze. "Powerful. More than I've ever felt before."
"Almost…familiar, isn't it?" Belle asked. Where had she encountered such a flame before? Suddenly, it came to her. She tenderly placed one of her hands on his cheek and spoke softly, "True Love's Kiss."
He turned his face and kissed the center of her palm, igniting within the very core of her being the same steady white-hot flame he held in his hands just moments earlier. This magic was born of love, not darkness, and with its power, no evil could triumph.
The front door opened, signaled by the piercing chime of the bell. Rumple did not break away, but continued to gaze into Belle's cornflower blue eyes. Heavy, but determined, footsteps hurriedly approached the drape which separated the shop from the back office.
"Hey, Pop, look I'm sorry," Bae called as he made his way through the store. "I brought you a coffee," he continued as he pushed aside the heavy golden curtain.
He stopped and stared wide-eyed at the two of them, pressed close together, alone in their own world. With a small, embarrassed cough, he set the coffee down on the counter and added, "To share."
Bae ran a hand through his thick dark curls and took a couple of steps back. "Ok, well, it looks like you've got things covered. I'm, uh, gonna…take off for a bit." He shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans and turned to leave.
A smile played at the corner of Belle's eyes. She tilted her head toward Bae. Rumple nodded and called out to his son.
"I love you, Bae."
Bae stopped, placed a hand on the doorframe, and turned to cast a sideways glance at his father. "I know, Papa," he replied with solemn honesty. Before disappearing behind the drape, he added, "I love you too."
Rumplestiltskin wrapped an arm around Belle's waist. He smiled, truly smiled, for the first time since she had known him. Like the sun coming out from behind storm clouds, it was glorious. She wiped the fresh tears from his cheeks and kissed the glistening trails they left behind. "What's wrong?"
"Oh sweetheart, nothing. Nothing can be ever, ever be wrong." Glancing at the door where his son had stood and then back at her crystalline blue eyes, he embraced her, whispering, "I have you."
A/N: Thank you much for reading "Shattered." I hope you enjoyed it! For all my readers who have left reviews and comments, thank you so, so much! Your feedback means a lot to me. If you enjoyed this story, feel free to check out some of my other OUAT fanfiction, including True Magic.
Of course, I have to say thank you to the creative minds behind ABC's Once Upon a Time. Without your imagination and effort, this story would not exist. Thank you for letting me borrow your characters and your world, if only for a brief while.
Love and blessings,
Brooke Summerlin-A Petal on the Rose
p.s. Oncers! I love to talk OUAT with other fans. Feel free to follow me on Twitter ( BrookeSummerlin).