A/N- Oneshot. It popped into my head after last weeks episode, but NaNoWriMo had prevented me writing it until now. Enjoy!
She and Rumple were walking down the streets of Storybrooke, hand in hand again at last. Belle turned to the man she had given her heart to and leaned her head on his shoulder as they went along, reassuring herself that he was really back with her.
It had been nearly impossible to cope without him beside her, especially after having been apart for so long. His trip to Neverland so recently after her memories had returned had left her heartbroken inside, like a piece of her was missing. Belle cherished the fleeting moments she and Rumple had together since it seemed queens, pirates, and prophecies were always determined to keep them apart.
Belle smiled as Rumple planted an unexpected kiss on her head. "I love you," she whispered and gave their interlocked hands a squeeze.
"And I love you too," he murmured into her hair. Belle gave a sigh of contentment. Everything was right in her world, for once.
That is, of course, when everything went horribly wrong.
Suddenly, there was a chill beside her and Belle realized that Rumple was gone. "Rumple? Rumplestiltskin!" she cried out as she spun around, frantically searching for him.
It was then that she saw them. The heroes of Storybrooke. The ones that had gone with Rumple to Neverland, and even a few who hadn't.
Hook and Emma were the ones actually dragging him away, each of them clutching a shoulder of Rumple's, and a crowd was quickly forming between him and Belle. She could hardly see him or his captors anymore through the mass of people.
"What are you doing?" she questioned in aggravation, trying to push her way through the crowd to her true love. No one would heed her cries, though, and it seemed like an eternity before she managed to break through to the front line. What she saw made her heart go cold.
Rumple was being restrained with his hands behind his back by Emma and Hook. The ever present smile in the face of danger was on his face, but it wouldn't stay there for long.
Regina was the first one to throw a punch. "That was for my mother." The blow to his ribs caused Rumplestiltskin to double over in pain, but he grit his teeth, determined to not make any sound.
"No!" Belle cried out. "Stop it!" But as she tried to run toward him, someone seized her from behind, wrapping their arms around her chest. She fought against the hold, but it was no use. Turning her head, she saw that it was Charming that was keeping her from Rumple. She growled out a low warning, "Let me go." But the prince's impassive face didn't change, even when she began to pull against him again.
She turned back and watched in horror as more and more people took their turn in hurting the man who had "destroyed" their lives.
Archie gave a swift kick to the shin on his bum leg, forcing Rumple to finally let out a low cry of pain as the leg remembered what it felt like to be crushed. "That's for Gipetto's parents."
"And this is for trying to take our baby." Cinderella and her prince stepped forward and each took turns punching him square in the face.
The cracking sounds resounded across the street as Rumple's nose broke and he began to bleed. It seemed the only thing holding Rumplestiltskin upright anymore were the two people holding him captive.
Belle's breath began to hitch as she continued to fight to get to the man she loved. But it seemed with each struggle, the arms around her grew tighter and tighter until panic swelled up in her chest. "Please, please." She was pleading with the prince now, tears streaming down her face. "Just let me go to him. He's my true love." But if Charming heard her brokenly whispered confession, he showed no sign of it.
Just then, what appeared to be her saviors appeared- one of her best friends in this world and the next and her true love's son. "Grumpy, Baelfire!," she called out their names in relief. "Thank God you're here, you have to help Rumple." But the hard, dead look in their eyes as they approached her said they were here for anything but help.
"Sorry, sister," Grumpy shrugged as Belle's heart grew heavier, "Life doesn't always come with second chances. And he's had more than enough." Turning away, Leroy disappeared into the crowd of faces, shouting for the death of the beast like everyone else.
"Baelfire, please." Belle turned to her last hope, trying to bare her grief plain on her face. "I know he's done wrong in the past, especially to you, but he's trying to change. I know there's good in him, you must see it too. He gave up everything for you." When he still seemed impassive, she tried another tactic. "He's still your papa, Bae."
His eyes seemed to soften at this and he turned to look at his father. Belle followed his gaze and resisted the urge to fight against the restraining arms once again. Rumple's face was slick with blood. His head hung low, and it seemed he was barely able to keep it from lolling forward entirely. Most of his weight was completely reliant on Emma and Hook (and who knew how much longer they would hold him) for by then both of his legs had been crippled. Belle had never seen him more broken.
"You're right," Bae finally said. "He is my father." The young man turned away from Belle, making his way to Rumplestiltskin. "Which is why I have every right to do this." Seemingly out of nowhere, there was a gun in his hand, just like the one Hook had shot Belle with.
"Bae, no!" Belle screamed, but over her voice the shot rang and echoed around the normally quiet streets of Storybrooke. Belle watched in horror as Rumple's body rocked backward from the force of the blow before his captors let him drop unceremoniously to the ground.
"Rumple," Belle whimpered out as the arms around her disappeared and she rushed to his side, crashing to her knees beside him. "Rumple, please. Please don't leave me." She ran her fingers through his hair, but there was still no response. Hesitantly, she bowed down and kissed him in a vain attempt to bring him to life. "Come back to me," she whispered against his lips. "I need you."
When still no stirring came from him, she pulled his head into her lap, not caring that his blood was staining her skirt, and began to cry in earnest.
"Look at what you've done!" she cried out at the townspeople still gathered in a circle around her. "He's dead!" And if her voice broke on the last word, she didn't care; she only turned back to the man she had loved and repeated the crushing words, "He's dead."
"Look at how much she cares for him." The voice rang out in the silence, icy and cold. It was a voice Belle knew well and it sent a chill through her bones.
"Of course I care for him," Belle replied in an equally cold voice, calm and dangerous. She raised her head up in defiance at the queen. "I love him."
Regina held her gaze for a few moments, hatred and triumph battling in her eyes, before breaking it to turn and address the crowd. "And who could love such a beast?" The words hung in the air, all of the people intent on the Regina's speech. Her voice sounded sickly sweet Belle's ear, enticing but false. "She would have to be," Regina turned and gazed upon Belle once more, smirking, "crazy."
Murmurs of agreement spread through the crowd and Belle's eyes widened in horror at what the queen was implying.
"Maybe we should put her back where she belongs." The suggestion rang over the crowd and the calls of agreement grew louder. "I say, we put her where the Beast's love should go."
Cries for action and capture roared around Belle as she felt her world spin and crash down around her. Desperately she clung to Rumple, wishing with every fiber of her being that he would come back to her.
Regina's dark brown eyes locked onto Belle's, smug and victorious. "Put her back in the asylum."
"No!" Belle screeched as memories of the dark, hopeless cell came screaming back to her. Arms dragged her away from Rumple- away from true love and happiness and towards cruelty and depression.
Belle's eyes flew open and with a sharp intake of breath she lurched in bed. The sheets around her were constricting, trapping her where she was and she struggled to kick them off. It wasn't until her elbow hit Rumple beside her that Belle's motions stilled and she remembered where she was.
Taking big gulps of air, she leaned back into her pillows and attempted to calm her beating heart and ragged breath. She didn't want to wake up Rumple, even though every instinct was screaming at her to do the exact opposite. Wake him up, ensure he was alive, have him hold her in his arms and never let her go again.
But when he shifted in his sleep and she could clearly see his face, the circles under his eyes reminded Belle that Rumple hadn't had a full night's rest since returning from Neverland. He claimed the nightmares were after effects of being inside Pandora's Box, but she figured seeing his father again had also trudged up some unwanted memories.
When she had seen him come off the boat, alive and well but with a defeated look in his eyes, she had known right then and there that she would move back in with him. It was clear he was going to need her, and she knew that she needed him as well.
Rumple's embrace had been tighter than normal, a desperate clinging she had only felt once or twice before.
"Belle," he had cried into her shoulder, "my beautiful Belle."
She tightened her arms around him. "I'm here, Rumplestiltskin. I'm right here."
They had moved her belongings into the pink house that very afternoon.
Lying in bed, Belle knew it would be no use trying to fall back asleep. Every time her eyelids shut she'd see Rumple, bloody and dead, in her lap again. Easing herself as quietly as she could out of bed (already wary that she might have disturbed him after awaking from her nightmare), Belle made her way downstairs.
Warming up some water, she fixed herself a cup of tea in the hopes it would calm her nerves. She'd been awake for a while, yet her heart was still hammering within her chest. She wondered what had brought on the dream, and was struck with a memory. One night, after a particularly horrible nightmare, Rumple had confessed to some of the things that had happened in Neverland. His failures and others failures, including the time when no one, not even his own son, would trust him.
That had been laying heavily on Belle's mind lately. Rumplestiltskin had given up everything for his son, including true love and herself, and yet Bae still couldn't see how his father would never hurt him. This new knowledge must have been the source of the nightmare. And the end about the asylum, well, that was a normal part of her dreams. So it wasn't some premonition of the future, couldn't be- at least that's what she tried to convince herself. A few sips of her tea later and Belle still didn't feel any less on edge, so she decided to try reading her book. At home, in the Enchanted Forest, books had always calmed her.
Settling down on the couch, she picked up her book from where she had set it on the end table, setting her tea down in its place. Belle had convinced Rumplestiltskin long ago that he should invest in a couch, if for no other reason than they could have a place in the house to sit together. But the usual comfort of the couch and the warm light of the lamp had no effect on Belle and she couldn't focus on the words on the pages of her book at all. On her fourth time reading through the same passage, she heard a clamor from above.
"Belle?" Rumple's distraught voice carried through the house and it was soon accompanied by the fumbling of feet and his cane on the hardwood floor.
Belle flung her book to the opposite end of the couch as she scrambled to get up, calling back, "Rumple?" By the time she had reached the bottom of the steps he was already halfway down and they met on the small landing in between.
"Belle." Her name was whispered into her hair as he hugged her close and ran his hand through her hair. "You're safe."
She placed her head on his chest and took comfort from the frantic beat of his heart in her ear. "I'm sorry," she apologized, realizing that her not being next to him when awoke from his nightmare was most likely the source of his panic. "I didn't mean to scare you."
They stood on the landing, soaking in the comfort of the other's warm presence in their arms. Rumplestiltskin was the first to break away, pulling back from Belle gently. Tears were still wet on both of their faces. He cocked his head at her tears and stroked his thumb tenderly across her cheek. "Why were you up, sweetheart?"
Then he looked over her shoulder and saw the cup of tea on the end table and the book thrown carelessly on the couch. "Couldn't sleep?" he asked. Belle nodded. "Nightmare?" When she nodded again he sighed and bent to pick up his cane that had fallen when he had caught her in his embrace. Before he could reach it, however, Belle kneeled down and grabbed the cane for him. He accepted it with murmured thanks and then asked, "Do you want to sit down here with me?"
"Yes." The word was garbled against the tears that still threatened to break free in her throat. The dream had come slamming back when she had held him in her arms, and Belle couldn't seem to banish the feelings of need away anymore.
With his left arm around her shoulders, Rumplestiltskin and Belle made their way to the couch. He sat down first, bringing Belle down to sit beside him. She slung her legs over his thighs and rested her head against his shoulder while he kept his left arm wrapped comfortingly around her.
After a few moments of silence, Rumple asked, "Do you want to talk about it?"
"Not really." Belle fiddled with her hands, trying to distract her heart from the memories and focus on the real and very much alive Rumple beside her. "But I will."
"You don't have to-"
"No, but I- I should. You've shared with me so many times," her eyes flickered to his and saw nothing but love and support, so she continued on, "and I shouldn't be afraid to do the same." She looked back down at her hands and tried to think of a way to start.
He waited patiently while she found the words to say, rubbing small circles on her back while she thought. "In my dream- my nightmare," she corrected, "I watched… I saw," she paused and took a deep breath before plunging onward, "I saw you die."
The silence after her admission was long. Belle did nothing to fill it, merely buried her face into Rumple's shoulder to reassure herself that he was there.
"Belle, I am so sorry." He stroked her hair and planted a kiss on her head, just like in her dream. Only this time, she knew it was real because she could feel the warmth of his skin and breathe in the smell of him, and she let out a small sigh of contentment. The nightmare hadn't faded completely, she doubted it ever would, but his mere presence made her feel better.
"It's not your fault." She was silent again before asking, "And yours? What was your nightmare about, Rumplestiltskin?" She whispered his name, running her finger in nonsense shapes on his chest.
He sighed into her hair before answering. "It was much of the same as it is every night."
Belle nodded. He had refused to share his terrors the first few nights, but with more frequent occurrences, he had confessed more and more details of the nightmares. From what she had gathered so far, they were often about her or Bae, or sometimes both of them; they would be injured or dying or, in the worst ones, abandoning him.
She leaned away from his chest, putting her arms around his neck and looking straight into his eyes. "You know I'll never leave you, right?" She let go with one hand to brush some of his hair out of his face. Rumplestiltskin leaned into her touch and closed his eyes.
"I know," he breathed out. "Thank you." He opened his eyes and gave Belle a watery smile. "I don't deserve-"
But she only shook her head and shushed him, leaning in to kiss his lying lips.
Neither of them knew how long they stayed curled up on the couch together. Belle fell asleep first, head resting on Rumple's shoulder. He was content to watch over her while she slept, and every time she would shift in her sleep, murmuring something incoherent, he would lean down and whisper comforts and reassurances to her until she drifted back to sleep.
Just before sunrise, Rumple slipped off to sleep as well, his heavy eyelids eventually winning against his desire to watch over his true love. The next few months would not be easy for either of them, and nightmares and dark thoughts would be constant companions for both of them. Troubles and fears would come to light and there would be many obstacles to overcome.
But for the rest of that night, the couple slept well in each other's arms, safe and sound.