~A Once Upon A Time FanFic~
There are many characters from many tales that have found themselves in the town of Storybrooke. Many have had their fairy tale "endings" long ago; others are more mythos that actual tale. Nonetheless, it's fair to point out that not all stories end at "ever after". Many do not even have an ever after. No, many continue, changing the characters from what they were in their part of the stories to something completely different. Sometimes, they end up in other stories, adding their perspective, and are ever growing and ever changing. Little roles, large roles, it does not matter much. They are still there, living through life, even after their original tale has long been resolved.
This is the story of one such character, though you may not recognize her. The story is one of mythos and legend, but also of faery. The legend has been told by many, and is never the same. Sometimes she doesn't even appear in the story, barely even a side note. But she is there. And this is her story… though it is perhaps not what you may expect…
Mr. Gold locked up his shop and headed down the empty darken street. It had been a very enlightening and stressful couple of weeks for him. Weeks? Or was it days? All at once it all seemed to crash around him; first with Belle's memory loss and then finding Bae. Finally, after lifetimes of searching, Rumpelstiltskin finally found Bae. What he found, he hadn't expected. It all left him hollow, and a little on edge. For Balefire was here not for him, but for Henry. The boy Gold was certain was the one the Seer had predicted would be his undoing. Did that mean Gold's death, or the last visage of sanity and goodness left within Gold? Gold had to admit he liked the boy; was even related to him for powers sake! But he couldn't decide if it was worth it to kill him. Seemed he would be doomed either way. He had escaped deaths door, with a bit of help and luck, but he was still uncertain whether Henry was dangerous or not.
With everything going on, he wanted to lash out, but his memories with Belle, and what she would have wanted from him seemed to always get in the way. He couldn't even avenge her how he wanted, but be content that Hook was where he deserved for the moment. And Cora... well, her schemes seemed foiled even if Regina's were not. At least Belle knew how he felt, even if she didn't remember who she was, being an empty shell.
As he walked, he happened to glance over across the street at the town's pub. The Rabbit Hole; appropriate for how he felt. It looked busier than usual; then he remembered it was the weekend for many who needed to unwind. He envied them. But that was not what his eyes went to when he looked over.
Standing almost completely in the shadows of the corner where the alleyway went, he saw someone he didn't expect to see. Hair white as a dove and eyes as dark as amethysts, she stood there looking as if she would rather be someplace else. It had been so long since he'd seen this woman who had been made the town recluse, but she was still the youthful looking witch he had met such a long time ago. As he watched, she slipped around the corner and out of sight into the alleyway.
After a moment debating with himself, Gold gripped his cane tightly and followed the white haired woman out the back. Gold found her nursing her drink in a shadowed corner alone; her face tilted up at the sky as if absorbing the star light. "Long time no see…" he paused as her gaze shifted to him and gave her a half smile, "Morrigan LaFey."
Wrists bound by strong silver chains, Danuela Morrigan LaFey ran for her life through a forest she knew nothing about. Her once lilac satin gown, now dirt stained, seemed to catch each branch on her path; as did her flowing satin cape. Her pearly white hair swept behind her like a living ribbon. Her vibrant purple eyes flashed about her, looking for some escape.
She could hear the four ruffians crashing through the brush behind her, increasing her panic. Danu felt completely helpless; chained and powerless; trapped in a strange realm. Easy pickings for these brutes.
Going up a needle covered hill, Danu slipped and fell, twisting one of her ankles slightly when she tried to catch herself.
The laughter behind her told her the outlaws had caught up with her. Strong hands grabbed her and spun her around to pin her to her back. "Where do you think you're going love?" the dirty man over her asked, though it was a rhetorical question.
One of the other men hooted. "Is not every day a sweet thing like you falls into our camp." He commented, leering. The others laughed and jeered.
Danu struggled; adrenaline and panic overruling good sense. "Please leave me be!" she implored, her voice rich and on the edge of being deep. When they ignored her and the man above her started bending towards her, instinct dictated her scared scream. "Someone help me!" she cried and turned her head away.
A moment later there came an odd voice. "Well, what do we have here?" It was eerie, as if it was moments away from becoming high pitched. When Danu looked over, she saw an oddly colored man in embroidered clothes made of cloth and leather, with a deep red cloak with gold stitching and clasp. He had odd eyes and shoulder length dull brown hair. With all his peculiarity, he held himself like someone with all the power.
Something Danu readily recognized. "Please… help me and I'll find a way to repay you." She breathed, struggling once more.
The strange man looked her over, taking note of the chains binding her hands. Then he shrugged nonchalantly. "Very well." In a flash he had grabbed the man on top of her and threw him, sending him hard against a large oak, knocking him unconscious.
The other three drew their swords even as one magically appeared in her savior's hand. As Danu scrambled onto her feet, she watched the newcomer dispatch the ruffians with glee. He toyed with them, teleporting before they could get close to him. This was a man with magic… strong, dark, magic.
They broke when the man magic'd one of their number into an insect and squashed it under his boot. With a high laugh, her savior watched them run before turning towards Danu to find her rummaging in the pockets of the fourth ruffian, who was still unconscious. He was puzzled only for a moment until she held up a silver key. In a blink he was by her side and had plucked the key out of her hand. "And what do we have here, Dearie?" he asked, dancing out of her reach. "This must be the key to unlock those pretty enchanted chains of yours."
Danu tried for the key only once, and then studied this creature that had just saved her. His very aura rang warning bells, but there was something about him, something almost kindred, that she saw. At his pointed look, she gave one right back.
"See, in my experience, enchanted chains, such as these, means they not only bind physically…" he pointed and took a step towards her, "but magically as well." His grey-green fingers toyed with the key. "Who are you, my dear?" he asked.
Meeting his gaze squarely, Danu held up her hands. "Release me and I'll tell you." She said obstinately.
The corners of his lips twitched.
Trying to smile reassuringly, Danu sighed. "You just saved me. You have nothing to fear from me."
At that, he laughed as if what she just said was the funniest quip he'd ever heard. When he calmed down, rather abruptly, he came right up to her. "Of course I don't." With that said, he grabbed one of her arms and unlocked that manacle, and then the next.
Danu quickly twisted away, still holding the chains and suddenly they vanished. She turned back to her savior with a cheeky grin. "Thank you… They call me th— Morrigan …Morrigan LaFey." She said and sighed as her muscles relaxed now that she had her magic back. She gave him an elaborate curtsy.
The green/gold man blinked before smiling in delight. He gave her a bow just as elaborate. "And I am… Rumpelstiltskin." He looked up at her as he bent. "Dark One of this realm."
Morrigan raised an eyebrow but reigned herself in. "Pleasure." Discretion may be the best course until Danu got her bearings. She looked cautiously around her at the forest. "I am… new to this realm, Rumple. Unless you have an idea how to settle my debt to you, mind directing me to the nearest town?"
"Hmm." Rumpelstiltskin looked her up and down. "If you are not from here, Dearie… where do you come from? How did you get here?" he asked, ignoring her request.
"Well… I'm from a place called Avalon. As for how I got here… you'll have to ask my mentor, Merlin." Morrigan answered ruefully, taking a moment to dust herself off.
Suddenly he was inches from her-disconcertingly close. "I've got me an idea of what I want from you." He smiled mischievously. "Your magic… it feels… a 'different… maybe it is something you can teach me."
Morrigan raised an eyebrow. "Most of it comes from nature magic, Rumple. What need do you have for it?"
Rumpelstiltskin pinched her cheek. "It is just one more step towards my goal." He said cheerfully, his voice changing slightly for an instant. "Come now, dearie, my home isn't far." Not waiting for a reply, he grabbed her arm and began leading her through the forest.
While Morrigan stood straight, pushing off from the building, the drink in her hand disappeared; and by the chagrin on her face, Gold didn't think it had been on purpose. "Nice to see you too, 'Stiltskin." She greeted back and slowly approached.
Gold braced against his cane as he watched her with wary interest. "I've asked you not to call me that." He replied softly, through clenched teeth.
Morrigan shrugged. "Sorry… though for the record, from now on, I'd prefer if you called me Danu, seeing as I gave you my name the last time we saw each other." She looked him over. "You look well off. Storybrooke has been good for you." She commented with only a touch of irony.
"And what does Storybrooke owe the honor of your re-emergence?" Gold asked.
Again, Morrigan shrugged. "What with the appearance of Hook and Cora and all… Seemed a good time for a change."
Gold met her gaze and didn't break it. "I see." His thoughts travelled back to another girl somewhere in Storybrooke General that he cared about. "Then perhaps it is also time I gave back some of your things." He suggested.
She smiled and raised a brow. "Perhaps. Let me think on it." She took a few steps up to him, now a few feet away. "This is a nice place; though… I didn't expect to be pulled in and made a no body. Even with time between us I thought I deserved more, especially as I tried to warn you…" she smiled with a smugness that was directed more towards herself than to him. "My curse does not lie." She said under her breath. Too low for him to hear.
Shifting, Gold sighed. "That was a very long time ago… Danu."
"Almost a lifetime or two." She agreed, pushing back one of her straight white strands of hair. "But this curse of yours…" Morrigan smirked, "impressive, Rumpelstiltskin. I still don't understand why you gave it to her… your little monster… though I guess she was more determined than you were. Perhaps you were willing to put more stock on predictions of a dying seer to escape any price using such a curse would take from you."
"I don't need a lecture on magic, Morrigan. The curse needed pieces that I could not provide." Gold shot back. "And I needed a failsafe. A way to make sure I'd remember so I could look for my son. As you well know."
Danu Morrigan LaFey, The Morrigan of Avalon, nodded with as much sympathy as she could express. "And Regina, your creature, created her own." She sighed. "The boundary around Storybrooke. Though you found a way around that one, I hear." At his silence, Danu took another step and looked up at him. "Magic always comes at a price." She reminded. Danu paused before pecking him lightly on the cheek before going back inside. "And it's not always you who pays it."
Leaving a stoic and disgruntled Gold in her wake.
Morrigan was more than willing to wait a few days before going to Gold. Getting her "things" had been on her to do list for some time, but she needed to let Gold think it was his idea, not hers. She needed to be convincing, not eager. But when she saw several happy couples going down the street, going about their days and adventures, Morrigan felt an uneasy twinge of how incomplete she felt. She resolved to go the next day.
That day seemed much longer than normal and the new unpredictability of her magic had already cost her the microwave and her favorite mug. Morrigan didn't want to lose any more china or appliances. She was reduced to doing some meditative techniques her mentor, Merlin, had taught her before she went down the path that led to her banishment from Avalon…
The festivities within the castle looked to continue all night long. More casks of wine and beer were brought up and opened. Another set of players replaced the old and a new upbeat tune began, causing a flurry of skirts and ornate coats towards the dance floor. The grand hall was a bouquet of colorful dresses, tunics, jewels and adornments. The air filled with the tantalizing aromas of the feast and the multiple plates of pastries and treats for after. The land of Avalon was rejoicing.
As Merlin's apprentice, Morrigan was seated near the head table. She was dressed for the occasion; in an elaborately fashioned gown of an ice blue that accentuated her unique coloring. Her hair was wreathed in a dark entwining wire with sapphires and black diamonds. She was a very different woman from the one that was sent to Merlin's front porch. Most of her food was uneaten and her gaze continuously went up to watch the reason for such celebration.
King Arthurs and Queen Gwen's wedding.
Her young heart gave a large lurch at seeing the couple. Arthur in the arms of another woman when it should be her. She was the one that loved Arthur like no other, not Gweneviere. Someday she would get what she wanted, she just needed to bide her time. Looking around, Morrigan found that she wasn't the only one sitting solemnly, another was just watching. Another who watched the couple with trepidation and longing.
This would be the perfect time to begin.
Morrigan took her drink and weeded her way through the edge of the crowd over to Arthurs Black Knight. She greeted the ebony colored knight of the Round Table cordially. "Good evening, Sir Lancelot. Would you care to dance?" she asked, gesturing to the dance floor, where both their obsessions danced in ignorance.
Sir Lancelot flashed his pearly whites, but it wasn't a genuine smile. "I'm sorry, Lady LaFey. I'm not in much of a dancing mood."
With an elegant shrug, Morrigan gracefully slid into the seat beside him. "Mooning over lost opportunity… lost… love?" she asked, taking a drink.
Looking at her sharply, Lancelot's eyes narrowed.
Morrigan laughed. "There are few things that I don't notice. Don't worry, dear Lancelot. I won't tell the King… or Merlin. Sometimes you can't help who you love." She said nonchalantly. A servant brought a plate of wine in elegant chalices and Morrigan took one.
Lancelot sighed, but continued to say nothing.
She let the silence between them stretch for a few moments. "Why don't you ask her to dance? Surely it would not be out of place for King Arthurs best Knight to pay homage to his new Queen in such a way?"
"It would not… I suppose. …You will truly not tell a soul… not that it may be true, but I do not need rumors flying about." Lancelot asked, turning to her. "You do not play me false?"
Morrigan looked mollified. "Of course not, Sir Knight. It's just a dance." She nudged him.
For the first time, Lancelot gave her a genuine smile. "That it is." He said and stood. "If you'll excuse me, my Lady LaFey." He gave her a quick bow before approaching the aforementioned couple just as the set ended.
Watching him bow to the King and ask to dance with Gwenievere, Morrigan smiled to herself. He might just make it too easy. But small steps and patience was needed… and soon Lancelot would do the deed she most hoped for, and she would be with the man she loved and make sure once and for all that a silly old curse did not exist.
She dug out the box from the back of the drawer and placed it on her bed. A small bronze key appeared in her hand which she used to open the box. Inside was another key, this time silver, elegantly fashioned and very old looking. Taking it, Danu stuffed it in a small pocket in her padded bra, taking a moment to adjust before replacing the box.
That done, she took a deep breath and exited her small house. It lay on the outskirts of town, almost within the confines of the forest. She lived alone in the small one story house which had an extensive herb garden and many handmade items strewn about. It was the home of the town recluse, though was much cleaner since the curse broke.
Morrigan didn't drive, so she had to walk all the way to Gold's store. Unfortunately for her, the day was a dreary one that soon started raining down on her. The streets seemed almost deserted except for a few passing cars and one or two pedestrians running for shelter.
It would be an unproductive day for the hamlet.
When she entered Gold's shop, he wasn't in the room, but she assumed he would be in the back. Danu moved behind the counter and through the bead curtains to his office. As she suspected, she found Rumple at his desk, looking over one of his antique items.
He looked up with only a mildly surprised expression. "I was wondering when you would show up." Gold commented, getting up and grabbing his cane before moving around his desk up to her.
One of Danu's eyebrows rose. "Don't you mean if?" she asked.
Gold smirked. "No, I meant when." He replied calmly. Once he stood in front of her, he sized her up while leaning against his cane. "Now, you sure you want it back? Are you sure you are ready?" he asked.
"You're the one who suggested that I come get it." She bantered back, smiling. After a quick moment, Danu sighed. "It's time, I think, for me to truly move on." She gave him a look from under her long eyelashes.
Nodding, Gold shifted. "I just need one assurance from you… a promise if you will."
Danu smirked. "I thought you dealt with contracts, not promises, Rumpelstiltskin."
"I've never needed contracts with you. You've always been good on your word." Gold admitted with a knowing smile.
"Right." Danu sighed. "So what's this promise?"
Gold took a small step to the side. "Hopefully a simple one." He began, moving to one of the shelves. "I want your promise to not try to keep me from helping Belle. And not to harm her. I'm still working on getting her memory back, even if she… well… Let's just say her cursed self is being rather difficult." He added as an afterthought. While he spoke he reached into a shelf, behind some oddities and pulled back with an old box. It was very plain but looked to have seen many years.
After a moment, Danu nodded. "I promise." Her eyes stayed on the box as he approached her with it.
Setting the box on the desk, Gold opened it and took the object out with one hand. Glowing with crystalline, magical light, was the still beating heart of who sometimes was called Morrigan LaFey. He studied her for a moment. "Putting one of these back has never been my forte. And you poured your feelings into it before I took it." He said. "It may all come rushing back quite suddenly… are you ready?" he asked.
Danu met his glance head on. "Ask me that one more time, and I'll have to put it back myself." She warned with no real malice.
Gold grinned. He positioned the heart where it should go, and with his palm, shoved it quite suddenly back into her chest.
The force of it made her take an involuntary step back, but it was done. Her heart was back where it belonged. Unfortunately, so were all the feelings of hurt, regret, desolation and above all, unrequited love. It all hit her as if a horse kicked her in the stomach. Danu almost doubled over with the grief and sadness that overtook her. Her breathing became rapid and a tiny sob escaped her lips.
Her hands reached out as if trying to catch her fall even though she was still standing. Gold took hold of them and helped steady her.
Danu closed her eyes. "Oh, goddess." She whispered under her breath. She hoped she was strong enough, now, to deal with it all, for she doubted Gold would remove her heart a second time. Was it all so intense because she hadn't felt any of this in so long? Or was this the backlash of the misery she had felt such a long time ago? She looked up at Gold with a pained but reminiscent look. "Oh Rumple…" she sighed.
Since getting to the Enchanted Forest, and beginning Rumple's training, he and Danu had been paying weekly visits to the surrounding forest for the well hidden ingredients to their magic's. She still couldn't believe that a creature as powerful as he didn't know alchemy before she had come. Danu, more known as Morrigan now, had been teaching Rumple what Merlin had taught her for close to a year now. He now spun gold and was currently saving up for a large estate with a special room for his work. Before, he thought he didn't need potions or spells to do what he needed, but now Rumple understood that his dark magic's only went so far. And alchemy had many uses, such as enchanting things like quill and parchment, baubles and sand. Rumple made a good student and Morrigan found she was a good teacher.
Morrigan thought he was a queer and funny creature, that was for sure, but she had come to respect him more than she had respected anyone before. She never got bored, that was for sure. He was harder to read than others she was used to, making him unpredictable. But as weeks more went by, that respect became something more which caused her to both hope and become concerned. If she was being honest with herself, she had never felt this way before, even with Arthur—and that obsession had almost drove her to murder. This felt like something else, though she doubted she was that lucky.
She wrestled with herself for some time before she had to tell him. Morrigan thought she'd come to love him, and had to tell him so.
What she didn't expect, was his sympathy, shielded with condescension.
He couldn't love—wouldn't love, until he found a way to get to his son, Bae. He couldn't risk it. His power was on the line, and he still needed it. Until he and Bae were reunited, all else was out of the question.
It was then she realized that Rumpelstiltskin already had a true love; his love for his son. It didn't leave room for anything else. That or he was destined for True Love down the line. Which meant he wasn't hers and would never be hers.
That seemed to convince her of the reality of her curse. One she had thought may have been removed when she came to her power. One she stubbornly refused to acknowledge when she was in Camelot, childishly mooning over the King.
After days of feeling wretched and not feeling any respite, Morrigan begged him to remove her heart. She knew he could—she'd seen him do it, had taught her how to do it. "Please, Rumpelstiltskin." She pleaded, the rare time she used his full name. "I don't want o feel this way anymore. If it keeps going, I will hurt someone. Like I did Arthur, Gwen and Lancelot." She paused, looking up at him with tears threatening to appear in her eyes (also a rarity for her).
While he felt slight remorse for her plight, Rumple didn't have room for too much pity. He did feel responsible for her; she had been his companion, confidant and partner in crime too long not to. "And what would I get out of it? My services are not free, you well know." He responded.
Morrigan thought for a moment, then her eyes widened with a thought. "I have something you want. Or else you would have already refused." She stood and crossed over to him. His nonchalant silence told her she'd spoken true. "Would my magic binding chains be worth enough to you, Rumple?" Morrigan asked, trying to keep hold of herself and not fall back into depression. She needed her wits here. And she knew he'd always had coveted those chains… wanting to know how they worked and what kind of metal and enchantments had went into them.
Rumple glanced at her from the corner of his eye. "Perhaps." He ceded.
"Then as long as you don't use them on me, they're yours if you take my heart and keep it safe for me until I come back for it." She proposed, talking quickly.
Considering, he made a few thoughtful noises before turning to her and sticking his hand out to shake. "Deal."
Morrigan smiled, though it didn't; couldn't, reach her amethyst eyes. "You'll get them after my heart is safe." She put in for good measure.
Making a show of a grimace of chagrin, Rumple nodded. "Agreed." She had never made a deal that she couldn't fulfill; it was the thing he found most endearing about her. They shook on it and Rumple jumped to one of the shelves he'd made within his modest house; it was a big step up from his family hovel, but still not big enough as he collected many things. He found a polished wooden box and placed it with exaggerated delicacy beside Morrigan before seating himself directly across from her. "Now, my dear, I want you to focus a-l-l your unwanted feelings into your heart. That will give a better chance of it all going away once it's removed." He instructed, his voice pitching up and down.
Nodding, Morrigan closed her eyes and focused. The strength of her emotions threatened to crush her, but into her heart they went. "Alright… now what?" she asked, barely above a whisper.
"Stay still." He advised, unusually serious.
Suddenly his hand was thrust into her chest, causing her to gasp and her eyes to snap open. Then his hand was out and so was her heart. Glowing and enchanted. With it, all unwanted emotion as well. Morrigan felt calmer than she had ever felt. What was the big deal again? Had she really thought she loved this man? She certainly respected him, but love? She blinked and looked to see Rumple watching her. "Thank you." Her words were sincere. The silver linked chains appeared in her hands. "Here. These are yours now. Remember our agreement." She added with a smile.
Rumple smiled, crowed softly and danced away with chains in hand. "Yes, yes. Happy doing business with you, Dearie." There was the smallest puff of smoke, and the chains and manacles disappeared. When he looked over at her again, his smile disappeared. "You're leaving."
Morrigan nodded. "I've nothing more to teach you, and I know this land enough now to traverse it with more ease. It's time for me to go." She declared, standing up.
He made a true grimace. "But… you're so much fun." He told her, taking one then two steps towards her.
Clasping her hands in front of her, Morrigan smiled politely. "You know I have to."
Not replying to that, Rumple sighed dramatically. "You know how to reach me if you ever need me." He said with a light air.
"I do." Morrigan moved to start gathering the few portable things she'd acquired during her stay, including a portable alchemy kit and supplies.
After a moment of silence, Rumple grudgingly went up to her. "What if I need you?"
Morrigan smiled at that. "You won't. And you don't need me. I'm afraid we may not see each other again in a very long time. Though, I warn you now, I fear you will find your true love no matter how hard you try to stay away from people. And you'll need the company. I'm as sure as I feel you'll find your son. I hope you find what you are looking for, truly. But be prepared for anything."
Rumpelstiltskin seemed disconcerted for a moment, and then cheered up. "Well, at least I know I'll always have your heart." He teased and gave her a flourished bow.
Once she finished packing and put on her black satin cloak, Morrigan kissed him once on the cheek. "Just remember, Rumple, magic—any magic—always has a price." Then she left.
Danu was startled when suddenly there was weight on her wrists. Then the empty feeling of having her magic blocked from her. She knew that feeling well. Danu looked to see those enchanted silver chains of hers on her wrists again. She looked up at Mr. Gold. "What are you doing?"
He had the grace to look somewhat sorry. "We need to talk, and I need some answers." He told her and put a hand on her forehead.
When the spell took effect, darkness descended.