Do You Believe In Magic?

Baelfire was a lonely little boy, an outcast because his father was a coward and his mother a bitter angry woman who couldn't forgive her husband or love her family. He desperately longs for a friend, but no child will be one, until the day a little girl falls through a portal into Fairy Tale Land. Valentina is a child from our world rejected by her widowed father, knowing neither love or kindness, she makes up stories of a land where magic is real and a friend awaits her. They become best friends and family, but a desperate deal sends Rumple and the children fleeing to Avonlea. Can Rumple fulfill a magical destiny, win Belle's heart, thwart Gaston & Cora, and become the first Spinner King, or will his own fears and insecurities prevent him from achieving his happy ending? A story of hope, loss, love, and adventure.

1

The Secret Door

Rumplestiltskin's village

Fairy Tale Land:

If there was one thing young Baelfire, son of the spinner Rumplestiltskin and his wife Milah, hated, it was when his parents quarreled. And lately, that's all they seemed to do. Or at least Milah did, taking any opportunity to scream and berate her crippled husband, trying her absolute best to make Rumple sorry he'd ever come home alive from the Ogre Wars. Because he'd deserted his company, refusing to fight and throw away his life for the duke who was the overlord over the peasants of their village, and permanently injured his leg doing so, while escaping from the military encampment, Milah and over half their village thought him the worst coward.

None of them cared that Rumplestiltskin had never been a warrior, never even been trained to hold a staff or sword or bow, that his only talent was spinning wool into the softest most durable thread imaginable, and creating lovely dyes and skeins of yarn in brilliant colors that didn't run or wash out in the laundry. None of them cared that had he stayed, he would have surely died and left Milah and her newborn son, Bae, fatherless.

No one . . . except Bae.

He alone was grateful that his father was still alive to be there for him. Even though sometimes it was hard being the son of the local coward, and having the other village boys tease him and beat him up on occasion, Bae wasn't bitter and hateful towards Rumple like his mother was. He alone saw how hard Rumple tried to provide a good life for him and Milah, and Rumple was more understanding and kind to his son and wife than many a villager who lived beside them.

Rumple rarely shouted back at Milah when she started on one of her tirades, unlike Master Perry Thatcher, who bellowed loud enough to be heard in King George's palace two kingdoms away, and also beat his wife. Poor Melanie Thatcher was sometimes black and blue from his fist, and she was a meek mouse of a woman because of it. Rumplestiltskin had never, in all the years Bae had seen him, raised his hand to Milah, even when she threw plates and bobbins at her husband and screeched words Bae was forbidden to say unless he wanted to eat soap at the gentle spinner as well.

Bae knew that once there had been harmony in his small house, but that had been long ago, when he was a mere baby, and he couldn't really remember those times. Now there were periods when Milah and Rumple would go without speaking to one another, but they were few and far between, and usually by the end of a week, they were fighting again.

It was enough to give the quiet six-year-old a stomachache.

But at least Rumple wasn't like the ill-tempered Master Tanner, who never had a kind word for anyone, and was quick to chase small boys with sticks and rocks if they happened to venture too near his workshop. He also used his fists and belt on his three sons, though he called it discipline, and his sons feared him for it. But they were also some of the meanest boys in the village, always picking on the smaller children and stealing anything that wasn't nailed down. Bae had hidden from them more than once, and gotten a black eye from the youngest, Callum, just because Callum felt the son of the spinner coward needed reminding of his place.

Bae detested them, though a part of him also felt sorry for them, having to live with a father like Master Tanner, who beat his children rather than hugged them. Rumplestiltskin was not the kind of harsh father some of the men thought it necessary to be with his son. He enjoyed playing with his son, encouraging Bae to learn things, and teaching by example. And if Bae happened to get into mischief, which wasn't all that frequently, Rumple scolded and used chores and silent time in a corner as punishments, and Bae could count on one hand the times his papa had smacked his behind for anything. And those times had been when Bae had been horrendously naughty, like the time he'd refused to take a bath and thrown a screaming fit and also a wooden horse at Rumple's head, or the time when he had hidden behind the woodpile and ignored his papa's frantic calls to come out because he was mad at him for not bringing him a treat from the market, and made Rumple search for hours for his missing son. Then he'd had the temerity to tell his father that he wasn't sorry he'd made Rumple go almost out of his mind looking for him.

But even when the spinner was angry enough at his son to spank him, Bae was never punished that severely, and once a few swats were given, Rumple always made sure his son knew he was forgiven and loved afterwards. And the boy got the distinct feeling that his papa hated doling out such a punishment even more than Baelfire hated receiving it.

Unlike his mother, who sometimes pinched Bae's ear hard enough to leave red marks on it, or smacked him on the back of the head when he annoyed her by asking questions over and over and not doing as she said quickly enough. She rarely had time to spend with him, and was usually ordering him to go outside and play with the other kids his age and get out of her hair.

Which Bae was only too happy to do, but he wished he had a friend among the village children. But most of the children his age laughed at him for being coward Rumple's son, and none of the boys his age wanted to risk being an outcast for being the friend of the coward's son.

So Bae learned to play by himself, but he was lonely, and he longed for a child his own age who could be the friend he never had.

That morning had started out fine, with Milah cooking porridge and frying some bacon over the fire, they had even had some bread that Rumple had managed to trade for in exchange for some cloth he had woven in a bright blue color. Milah had spread it with some drippings from the bacon and served it. It had been a long time since Bae had a treat like that, and he had thoroughly enjoyed it, until he'd taken a second piece and Milah had snapped at him for being a greedy little brat.

That had caused Rumple to tell Milah to leave Bae alone, that the boy was hungry and should be allowed to eat his fill, and Milah shouldn't take her temper out on him. So she took it out on her husband instead, yelling that they'd all have enough to eat if Rumple hadn't ruined his reputation by refusing to fight and how she was sick of being known as the village coward's wife, and when in hell was he going to grow a spine and do something useful?

Bae had listened to them arguing for several minutes, and the ache in his tummy had grown with every angry word his mother called his father, until he couldn't stand it anymore, and had run from the cottage to his special place, which was a small glade beside the stream that bordered the village.

The glade was a little culvert, bordered on two sides by thickets of blackberry bushes, and on the south side was the stream, and the north side had the ruins of an old stone hut. Rumple had told his son that was where a shepherd had lived a long time ago, and since he had packed up and left one day, the hut remained empty. Then a big storm had come when Bae was two and the hut had collapsed and no one had bothered to fix it again. It was now a pile of rubble, though one section of the wall had remained slightly intact.

Bae loved the glade, it was his own private place, where none of the village boys could find him, since they were all too big to crawl between the blackberry thickets, and some of them thought the tumbled down hut haunted by the shepherd's ghost, even though none of them even knew if the man was dead or not.

The glade was beautiful, with the sparkling silvery water on one side, and the thickets filled with ripe blackberries during the summer, and pretty flowers in the spring. The grass was green and soft there, and sometimes Bae would see tiny bunnies hopping, and butterflies among the thickets, and birds flying in and out of the branches of the big oak and maple trees that bordered the stream.

There Bae could sit still and dream of a time when his parents weren't unhappy, and no one shouted or threw things, and he didn't have to worry about being hungry sometimes or going to bed with his ears ringing from Milah's hand or listening to the taunts and sneers of the village boys.

There he could simply imagine himself riding away on a tall horse, like a knight, or rescuing some girl in a tower, or saving the life of a prince and being rewarded with lots of gold, so then his mother would finally be happy about something and his father wouldn't have to spin all day and night just to make ends meet, whatever that meant.

He also imagined himself with a friend he could talk to and play with, a friend who wouldn't call him a crybaby and the son of a coward, a friend who liked him and wanted to be with him. This friend didn't have a face, but Bae had fun imagining what the other boy looked like and all the things he could do with someone else.

He was lying there on the grass that morning, not caring if he got his tunic and leggings wet from the dew that seemed to linger past the early morning sometimes, one leg crossed over the other, imagining what it would be like to be on a fine blooded horse like the lord's men rode, and which Bae had seen going past the village one day.

The sun was rather bright that morning, making him squint and look towards the crumbled section of wall, which was about four feet high, and had bits of moss and ivy growing from it. He had his father's large brown eyes, and his mother's dark brown curly hair, people often said he looked like her, but Bae thought he was more like Rumple, with his fine features and thin build.

As he squinted, a shaft of strong sunlight fell on the wall.

Bae glanced away for a moment, blinking to clear his eyes from the sun's glare.

When he looked back, there was a glowing door in the wall.

Bae stared in shock. How did a door come to be in the wall?

He scrambled to his feet, his mouth agape, when the door suddenly became an odd blue color, almost translucent, and then a girl wearing a faded pink dress, her brown hair in two pigtails, with shiny black shoes and a smudge of dirt on her cheek, stumbled through the door and fell on the ground right beside Bae's feet.

"Hey! Are you all right?" he asked.

The girl, who looked to be about his own age, picked herself up from the grass, and said, "Sure, I'm okay. I hurt myself worse climbing the apple tree in Mrs. Starkey's backyard. Where am I, anyway?"

"Uh . . . this is my secret glade." Bae said. "Who are you?"

"Valentina Morinelli. But just call me Val. Everyone does. What's your name?"

"Baelfire. But you can call me Bae," he answered diffidently.

The little girl cocked her head at him. "You talk kinda funny. Are you from New Jersey? 'Cause my papa says people from New Jersey talk funny, not like us from New York."

"What's New York?" Bae asked, puzzled. "Is it like in another kingdom?"

"No, silly! It's in America, the USA. You know, with the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building." When Bae looked at her blankly, she continued. "The Big Apple, the city that never sleeps, Manhattan."

"I've never heard of any of those places," Bae said.

"Man, this must be the boonies, like Papa always says."

"I live over there, in the village," Bae pointed back through the blackberry thickets.

Val looked where he pointed and said, "You mean Greenwich Village? Or someplace in New Jersey?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," Bae admitted.

"Never mind. I don't care if you are from New Jersey. And where'd you get the clothes?"

"My papa made them," answered Bae proudly.

"They're neat. Like from the olden days," Val said. "Is your papa a tailor? Mine's a manager for Macy's. He tells everybody what they should do and how to do it. It's an important job, but he's never home until late, and I'm always asleep . . . unless I try and wait up for him, but then he gets mad and I get in trouble."

"Why? Doesn't he want to see you and tuck you in at night? My papa's a spinner, and he works all day, but he always tucks me in and tells me stories before I fall asleep."

Val shrugged. "No. I wish he did that. He says good children should be seen and not heard and he's too busy to be bothered with me when he comes home and he'll see me in the morning. Only when I get up he's usually gone to work again and Mrs. DeLuca's there to watch me."

"What happened to your mama?"

"She went to heaven to live with baby Jesus and the angels when I was born," Val answered. "It made Papa all mad and upset, and that's why he doesn't care whether or not he sees me too much. 'Cause it's my fault she's gone."

"Did you tell her to go?"

"No! I was a little baby, I couldn't even talk yet."

"Then how could it be your fault?"

"I dunno. But Mrs. DeLuca says that's what Papa thinks, and Papa's smart, so it must be true. Sometimes I wish she'd come back and live with us again, but Mrs. DeLuca says she can't and we'll just have to wait till we get old and go to heaven and see her. Only Papa says only good girls go to heaven and I'm nothing but a wicked brat so I guess I ain't never goin' there to see her."

"Maybe if you wish really hard, it'll happen."

"I tried that already. I wished on falling star and nothing happened. Then I wished on a comet last night for a friend and I ran through the bushes in Central Park to get away from Marie Olson—she's the nastiest girl in first grade at my school—she always steals my lunch and knocks me down when the teacher's not looking and I tripped and fell right through the bushes or whatever and ended up here."

"She sounds as mean as Benny and Marty Thatcher," Bae sympathized. "They like to chase me all over and rub my face in the dirt."

"Marie wanted my cupcake," Val told him, and reached into a pocket to reveal a slightly squashed Hostess chocolate cupcake in its wrapper. "She always wants whatever I have, even though her papa can buy half of Wall Street." She ripped off the wrapping and held the cupcake out to Bae. "Want half?"

Bae's eyes lit up. "Sure!" He took the half she handed him and tasted it. It was so good! Better even than the cakes his mother made on feast days. "Thanks!" he said, recalling his manners.

"You're welcome," Val said, smiling at him shyly as she bit into the remaining half of the cupcake. "I love these, but I like Twinkies too."

Bae didn't know what a Twinkie was, but he didn't see how anything could be better than this cupcake. He ate the half in four bites and then licked his fingers to get all the frosting. "Mmm! That was the best thing I ever tasted."

"Uh huh. I wish my papa bought them all the time." Then she was thirsty, so she went over to the stream and tried to cup some water in her hands, but she didn't know how to do it right and only succeeded in getting her hands and dress wet.

"Here," Bae said, holding out a small tin cup. "Use this."

Val took it and filled it with water and drank. It tasted wonderful, much better than the water from the faucet in her apartment. "Ahh! This water is great. Thanks, Bae." She handed the cup back to him.

He filled it and drank as well. Once they had both drank their fill, Bae put the cup back in his pouch, which hung on his belt. It was then he realized that for the first time he didn't have to imagine doing something fun, he actually had someone to do something fun with. And it didn't matter that she was girl who lived someplace he'd never heard of.

"Hey, you wanna play chase?" he asked.

"Is that like tag?"

"It's a game where you chase the other person and try to touch them," Bae explained. Maybe they called it tag in New York. "And if you get them, then they have to chase you."

"Yup. That's tag," Val said. "Okay. And then we can play Simon Says."

"What's that?"

"You never heard of Simon Says?" Val blinked. "We play it all the time in Miss MacKenna's class at school. What do you people in Jersey do, watch the grass grow?"

"No. That'd be really boring." Bae said. Then he sprang at her and tapped her on the shoulder. "Got you! You're it, Val!"

"No fair! I wasn't ready yet! Do it over!"

"But . . . fine!" he sighed. "Ready or not, here I come." Then he went to tag her again, but she jumped away.

"Run, run, run, fast as you can, can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread girl!" she sang as she ran about the glade, her pigtails flying out behind her.

"It's the gingerbread man," Bae corrected, having heard that story lots of times from Rumple.

"I'm not a man," Val cried. "So it's the gingerbread girl. And you can't catch me, Baelfire!"

"Can too!" he cried, and ran faster, trying to tag her.

Val was fast, but she was also tired from running away from that bully Marie, and soon she was panting hard and Bae caught up with her and touched her on the shoulder. "Gotcha! You're it, Val!"

Then Val chased him all around the glade, until she finally tagged him.

Laughing, they played tag until they were both tired, and then they sat in the grass, resting.

Val looked up at the blue sky and saw several clouds scudding by. One of her favorite games was pretending she saw things in the clouds. "Look up there, Bae! Do you see the unicorn?"

Bae looked up then. He liked to play this game too. "I see a dragon," he pointed to a large cloud.

"I see a castle."

"I see a knight."

"I see a wicked witch," Val said, and shivered.

"I see a sorcerer and he beats up the witch," Bae replied.

"I see a rabbit."

"I see a cat sleeping."

"I see a dog running," Val murmured, yawning. "M' tired. I think I'll take a nap."

"Me too," Bae agreed, thinking this was the most fun he'd ever had, and now he had a friend at last. Then his eyes fluttered closed and he slept.

Val put out a hand and took the boy's in her own. It felt good to hold someone's hand and not get yelled at and told to go play with her stuffed animals and dolls and stop being a nuisance. Then she buried her cheek in the sweet smelling grass and fell asleep as well.

The two children slept for two hours, only waking because they heard a voice close by them.

"Bae! Bae, where are you?"

Baelfire woke up and rubbed his eyes.

Val sat up too. "Bae, who's that?"

"It's my papa." Bae replied. "Be right there, Papa!" he yelled back. Then he looked at Val. "Come on. You can say hello."

Val hesitated. She didn't know many adult men, and she was afraid Bae's dad wouldn't like her, the way her own didn't. "Umm . . ."

"Come on, Val,"Bae said, tugging on her hand. "Before I get in trouble for not coming right away."

"Like he'll smack you 'cross the face and say you're a wicked brat he's gonna sell to the Gypsies?" Val asked apprehensively.

Bae shook his head. "Papa doesn't hit me . . . well, only if I've been really bad and then he says to not make him do it again and he hugs me. No, Mama's the one who might do that. But Papa'll scold, and maybe he won't let me play with you again."

"No," Val whispered, terrified at losing the first real friend she'd ever had. "Okay, I'll come." Swallowing hard, she took Bae's hand and followed him from the glade, her knees knocking together slightly. She hoped Bae's papa wouldn't be too cross because he hadn't come right when he'd called, and tell her to go home. Because she liked it here in New Jersey, it was much more fun than boring old Manhattan, and maybe she could stay for supper, like friends always did in all the books Mrs. DeLuca read to her.

A/N: This is a story i am writing at the request of an old friend who also happens to be a counselor for abused children. She wished me to write a story set in this fandom which centers around abused children to stimulate more awareness of this sad topic and this is what I've come up with. Hope you all like!