(So this takes place shortly before "Treasure Hunt" if any of you read that, and it's when Rump assumes a more paternal role on Henry. It's also before the family mends things up like I mentioned they did in "Treasure Hunt" (but you don't need to read "Treasure Hunt" to read this. Also, this is sort of in reference to my own life, with experiences changing you and making you be someone you don't want to be. You'll see...
Grandpastiltskin is probably one of my favorite things on the show and I can't wait until Rumple smartens up and starts being a grandfather.
Anyway, enjoy~! I tried to keep everyone in character, but I probably failed miserably.)
It was around noon when Henry went missing. It was just a matter of time, Rumplestiltskin mused. Truly he was surprised the child notorious for running in the first place stayed around this long. Henry was a tough boy with nerves of steel, but everyone seemed to forget that he was just a child.
The fighting in the family had reached its peak and finally pushed the pre-teen over the edge. For the record, Rumplestiltskin had to give the family credit for playing nice with each other for the sake of the boy, but it only took a misplaced comment, a false assumption, or something else equally ridiculous to set the fuse off again.
Rumplestiltskin was distant, he would admit to that. He acknowledged his place in the family, but preferred to remain an estranged watcher, protector even. As long as he was related to Henry and Baelfire, the Charmings, stupid as they may be, were also his responsibility. Ludicrously enough, Regina was as well.
Still, distant as he was, he did check on the family, and was constantly kept up to date by his precious Bae on how everyone was. The fighting got worse, and Henry changed. He became hostile—far more hostile than Rumplestiltskin thought was even possible for a once loving child. As a result, his relationship with everyone, Emma especially, became strained. He lost his temper a lot, he started arguments and had a terrible attitude. It was to be expected with a child in such a constant, negative atmosphere, but the Charmings didn't handle it well.
And so finally, Henry snapped, and was gone when his mother went to check on him.
Insensitive as it was, it annoyed Rumplestiltskin that Henry chose to go missing the same day he had planned something special for Belle.
"Ms. Swan, I don't know what you expect me to do about Henry," the weary pawn shop owner told the blonde. "Have you ever thought of simply giving the boy some space?"
She gave him an even glare. "Gold, we're in a town of witches and werewolves and pirates and who knows what else. And I know the kid wasn't in his right mind, so I've gotta find him, and I need your help. He's your grandson."
The man couldn't help but roll his eyes. They always resorted to this when it pertained to Henry. He didn't need to be reminded he was the kid's grandfather, he knew it already.
He wanted to decline, and it wasn't because he didn't care about the boy. He knew Henry would never come to him; he was more of a stranger than a grandfather. The images of his grandson lying bloodied and mauled by something, or swollen and blue in the lake, pushed him to promise Emma he'd find the boy and bring him home.
It was near sun down, and it was clear Henry wasn't anywhere in town. The family had checked the obvious places: the diner, the Inn, and even Regina's old office. If anything good could be said about this ordeal, it was that at least Henry's disappearance gave the feuding family something to think about.
Rumplestiltskin had been hobbling on his crippled foot for hours. His aged limbs were throbbing and begging for respite, but he refused to stop until he had found and brought home the family's little run-away.
He was deep into the forest now, and by this point, was beginning to fear the irresponsible child had left Storybrooke. Oh he would kill him if he had. Not only would it make getting him back difficult, but he certainly wouldn't be able to do anything unless he wanted to lose his memory.
"Henry?" the man called out into the vast forest. "Henry, are you here?"
The relief in Rumplestiltskin's chest was indescribable when the petulant voice finally answered.
He threw his head back when he realized the voice came from above him, and paled several shades at the sight before him: Henry was almost ten feet off the ground, in a tree branch.
"What by the gods are you doing, Lad? You're going to fall and break your neck!"
The boy that glared down at him was not the Henry his grandfather remembered. It actually pained the man's heart to see the look in the child's eyes. Beyond the hateful look, there was pain, and sadness, the look of a lost little boy. A little boy that had bared the brunt of too much. Bae was like this a few times near the end, closed up and hostile.
"I said leave me alone! I just want everyone to leave me alone!"
Rumplestiltskin blinked as something small and hard hit him in the forehead. He picked it up. An acorn? Did his grandson just lob an acorn at him? Sympathy in the man was beginning to wash away as he angrily tossed the acorn aside.
"Henry, get down and come home! Your mothers are worried sick about you, and anything out here can find you!"
The insubordinate child only glowered down at his grandfather. "That's better than you finding me."
What sass; he obviously got that from Regina. Or maybe Emma... Actually every Charming had their sassy side. "Look, boy, I'm not going back without you. I promised your mother I'd bring you home and I intend to do that. Now get down from that tree."
Rumplestiltskin's glare deepened as Henry continued to ignore his orders. He wasn't one to look down on others parenting given the reputation as a father he had himself, but this child was seriously deprived of discipline. What was Emma's idea of a punishment, to only let him have two pieces of candy after dinner instead of three?
He'd probably have better luck if he was Charming, the more loving and closer grandparent, but he was the old feared imp of the Enchanted Forest, and had apparently lost his touch with kids.
"Get down, Henry Mills. That is an order."
The bratty response was definitely not what the man expected from the usually sophisticated eleven year old. "You're not the boss of me."
Rumplestiltskin had to admit, he almost admired the child for his bravery. There weren't many people that would have the gal to defy him. Reminding himself of the situation, he spun back to the branch. His face darkened so severely it would make grown men cower. Oh, but not his ballsy grandson.
He struck fear into the hearts of all who knew him, but that wasn't enough to make Henry obey. The boy could rest in the comfort that his grandfather would never harm him.
The man's voice became a deadly whisper. It was always at this point that whoever the hapless receiver was, would finally realize he meant business. "Now look, Lad...I'm going to give you one last chance to come down before I get you myself. I can guarantee you that you don't want that happening, so you best do yourself a favor and get down." The last two words were almost snarled, but Henry showed no reaction.
With an angered growl, Rumplestiltskin hobbled angrily to the base of the tree and contemplated how to get the child down. Magic was such an easy option, and yet one he refused to turn to. He vowed never to use magic with his grandson and he was keeping that vow. He drove his foot into the groove on the side of the tree and pulled himself up, grabbing onto one of the branches.
The boy was at arm's reach, just barely, and the former imp grasped at the air before finally clamping his hand firmly down on Henry's arm. Tugged to the edge of the branch, Henry had no choice but to grip a lower branch and quickly scale down.
Henry struggled and fought angrily the moment he touched the ground, but his grandfather kept a firm hold on his arm as he tried to tug him along. Henry was not making that easy for him.
He yanked back in his grandfather's hold, twisting his arm in an effort to get the man to release him. "Let go of my arm! Let go of me!" the brat persisted. "Let go of my arm!"
Without warning or a single word, Henry was roughly jerked against his grandfather's side, and Rumplestiltskin was fiercely smacking his backside. Henry cried out with shock and struggled harder to get away, but the man's grip was like a vice.
Rumplestiltskin wondered just what the family's reaction would be to this. Charming would most likely approve, probably thinking of giving this punishment before—they both grew up in the Enchanted Forest after all. This kind of discipline was not outdated nor barbaric to them, although it was rarely, rarely one he had to resort to when he dealt with Bae (he wasn't as hard headed or disobedient as Henry). Emma would probably murder him, and so would Regina, but the only thing that really concerned him was how much Henry would hate him for this.
The pre-teen tugged and sobbed, and shouted many things that ranged from 'I'm sorry!' to 'you're so mean!', but it had little effect on what was happening.
He had probably given around fifteen licks when he released the boy's arm. His expression was cold as he roughly ordered Henry to come with him, and the sobbing, sore child obeyed and fell into step beside him.
The walk home was silent save for pitiful sniffles and the crunching of leaves. There was a look on Rumplestiltskin's face that Henry thought was anger, but it was really turmoil.
For months the new grandfather had been walking on eggshells around the boy, trying to avoid doing anything that could ruin the potential of a relationship. And here he just raised a hand on the eleven year old; a situation that Henry had most likely never been in before. What kind of dents had Rumplestiltskin put in their bond now?
Arriving at home there were plenty of hugs, tears, and scoldings especially. It seemed like the entire town had gathered in the apartment, and Rumplestiltskin couldn't help but roll his eyes. The kid had been gone for five hours, not five days.
After Emma had finally stopped crushing the air out of her son, she pulled back to check him over. There was instant concern when she saw his puffy, wet face. "Kid, are you okay? Did you hurt yourself?"
She couldn't understand the expression on his face as he shamefully lowered his eyes away from her. His hands were behind his back, rubbing...something.
Recognition flickered in Charming and Neal's eyes as they exchanged knowing looks and glanced at the silent Rumplestiltskin in awe. It took longer for it to register with Emma, but when it did...if looks could kill...
Rumplestiltskin remained impassive as the blonde sheriff nearly shoved him out the door and slammed it in rage, spinning to him. "Who the hell do you think you are, Gold, to go about doing something like that to my kid?"
His expression stayed vacant. "I believe, Ms. Swan, that I'm the person that brought your son back before he was mauled by a bear, or Ruby, or gods know what. I hardly see why I'm being chastised for that."
"You know damn well what you did. What makes you think you have the right to discipline Henry like that? He is my son, not yours."
Oh, Rumplestiltskin did not need this. He had just spent the entire day hobbling town with a crippled foot to find his insubordinate grandson, torn his suit to shreds to scour the forest, and been given lip by his precious grandson.
"Ms. Swan, your lad had snuck out into the forest, where anything could have attacked him. I don't know how he manages to slip away from you so easily, honestly. You supervision must be quite lacking."
He enjoyed the look of fury on her face and the way she visibly flushed in shame. "That's not what we're talking about and you better not touch my son again. I refuse to let him be abused the way I was growing up."
He had honestly felt a fleeting moment of sympathy until he realized what she was implying. An almost feral look crossed Rumplestiltskin's eyes, a look of murderous intent. He took a step forward, counting the Savior lucky she was Henry's mother and Bae's old love. "How dare you assume I..."
He stopped himself, not wanting to initiate a fight in the middle of the hallway, especially with Bae and Henry close by. "You're welcome for finding your son. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I've kept Belle waiting long enough..."
The majority of the day was gone and most of Rumplestiltskin's plans had been ruined by today's unexpected events, but Belle was understanding. The only thing she really cared about was Henry's safe return.
He had still managed to get dinner with his beloved, and prepared a special meal for her once they were home. They returned to the shop to finish up a few things, spinning the sign closed as if they thought it would actually do any good.
The bell rang above the shop's doors, and Rumplestiltskin couldn't help but growl. He'd need to brand the word "closed" across every face in Storybrooke before he could get people to understand the concept of his sign.
It was probably one of the Charmings; most likely Emma coming to yell at him some more. Rumplestiltskin sighed and slowly turned as he mentally prepared a speech to validate his actions today, but instead of finding a fuming sheriff, he found a quiet, sad little boy.
"Henry." He couldn't keep the surprise off his face. After today, he thought he'd be the last person Henry would want to see. "What are you doing here, my boy?"
Henry stayed by the door with his hands in his pocket. He didn't look up at first, and Rumplestiltskin limped up to his side, waiting for the boy to speak. He opened his mouth to say something, but Henry beat him to it.
The child gazed up at him, his eyes swimming with tears and his face red and blotchy. Something about the boy's expression broke Rumeplstiltskin's heart. It was aching with pain and remorse for his earlier actions. It truly did look like his grandson had been berating himself over this all day.
"It's alright, Henry." The softness in the grandfather's voice surprised even himself. It was the kind of tone he used only with his son and Belle, only with the ones that were dear to him. However, Henry was quickly falling into that category. "You're only a young lad, no one expects you to be perfect."
Fresh tears filled the boy's eyes. "Everyone does."
Rumplestiltskin fell silent as he absorbed his grandson's words. That was right, everyone did expect him to be perfect. In the tempest of these conflicts, they expected him to be the one to remain calm, to be the one that could keep the family together and prevent everything from boiling over. Just because he was born from a family of heroes, he was supposed to be one every day of his life.
For heaven's sake, he's a child!
One of the reasons Rumplestiltskin had remained so distant was simply because he didn't want to get caught up in all the familial drama. Honest to the gods, Henry's family was turning into the worst Soap Opera on television. And he, the ever responsible grandfather never bat an eye at any argument and never stepped in, even when things got to their worst.
He should have intervened. Actually, if he was honest with himself, there was nothing more appealing than the idea of eliminating the Charmings and Regina, and just taking Belle, Bae, and Henry as far away from Storybrooke as possible. But there were many flaws to that plan; one being losing the magic he couldn't afford to live without.
''Well, they're wrong, Henry. You shouldn't have to worry about being a hero. You should be worried about school, and playing with friends, and living a normal childhood."
The boy gave a bitter sweet smile. "I've never had a normal childhood."
And Henry was right. He was the son of Snow White's daughter, the adopted son of the Evil Queen, and had lived his life in a cursed town, where the only thing that grew besides him, were plants. There was no such thing as being a normal kid for this boy. And in many ways, Rumplestiltskin blamed himself for that as well.
Belle shut the drapes to the shop window, leaving the two nearly in darkness, save for a small lamp on the table. She ran her fingers tenderly through the boy's hair and moved to the shop door. Rumplestiltskin wanted to call the woman back; she was much better at heart-to-hearts like these than he was. Yet, as he looked down at the broken boy, something told him that whatever had to be done to mend the child's spirits, he had to do it.
He nodded at Belle and blew her a subtle kiss, before turning to look back at the broken soul by his side.
Henry was crouched by a table with his arms encircling his legs. The shop was silent aside from the ticking of clocks and the boy's sniffles.
"I just want the fighting to stop."
Don't we all, Henry... Rumplestiltskin didn't care so much what it was doing to the Charmings than what it was doing to Bae and Henry. The other adults could fall off the face of the earth for all he cared; at least it would save Henry and Bae the grief of being trapped in these feuds every day.
"It doesn't work that way, Lad. We may be in a land of magic, but even that blasted fairy can't just wave her wand and make your families love each other. And even my magic has limits..."
The boy quieted other than his crying, recollecting on the past few weeks and realizing how much his behavior had changed. "I don't mean to be so bad."
You are not bad. If anyone ever said that about the boy, it would be their last words before Rumplestiltskin carved through their lips with his dagger. Instead of voicing his thoughts, he merely stared ahead into the darkness.
"...Once there was a boy...his father was an ugly man." Henry's head begun to rose as he looked up at him. "He went through the same thing you did. He was conflicted between love and disdain for his parent. His father had done terrible things...but he had done it all to protect him." Rumplestiltskin's eyes shut painfully. At least he thought he was doing the best for him...
"And the boy and his father fought. Things were strained with them, but it wasn't the boy's fault." A hesitant hand reached out in the dark to touch his grandson's head. "It never was." There was a shift in the dark, and Rumplestiltskin felt the fuzzy head in his lap.
"The father was the cause of everything that was wrong between them. The boy tried to help, he tried to be his father's hero, but his efforts were in vain because the father was too far gone." Rumplestiltskin looked up as tears filled his eyes. "And that boy was your father...and his father...was me."