Wells, Hugs, and Encounters
The purple miasma dissipated around them, letting her eyes view the man holding her by the waist with a possessive, yet dedicated touch. It was as if he was afraid to touch her, but at the same time, he needed to feel the warmth of her body under his trembling hands.
He looked desperate to have her next to him, but his actions made her question things she'd been certain about since their separation. Why he chose magic. Could it be that she'd been wrong all this time and he really did treasure magic more than anything and anyone. But his expression when he saw her again said the opposite, and his words and the way he spoke them was like a man awakening from a nightmare. He'd babbled nonsense, at least to her, and she didn't understand anything that was happening or why. She was in a strange world and a stranger, Jefferson, gave her the means to find him so he'd protect her from the queen.
He said all magic came with a price and she wondered the cost he'd have to pay. Would he reject her again when she least expected it. Would he cast her out the moment she made a mistake? She felt bad for thinking such things, but she only had their past together to draw her conclusions upon.
Rumplestiltskin moved his fingers along her waist, slow as if playing a soft, calm melody on a piano. If he continued, she'd either melt or end up cuddling in his embrace whether he wanted it or not. She forced herself not to get distracted; this time she wanted the truth. She needed to know the truth in order to save their hearts from ache.
Their gazes locked and she could see the desire for magic clinging in his eyes. She tried not to look hurt, but knew her emotions were betraying pain and doubt through her stare.
She stepped back, separating her body from his, but without breaking his hold on her waist. He looked confused. Worried.
"What happened?" he asked, his voice shaking.
She took a deep breath and gathered the courage for his future words, all the while trying not to remember the disaster that trigger her final act of bravery. When she dared to stand up to him. To call him a coward.
"Why'd you bring magic Rumplestiltskin?" He opened his mouth, but didn't speak. "I. . . I know you have your reasons but . . . is . . . was I wrong about how you feel?" She looked down, and prepared for the pain his answer would have on her.
He exhaled loudly and looked everywhere except her. A habit she knew he had when he was trying to find a way to escape something.
She stepped forward once again, letting his arm slide around her body. She placed her hand on his chest, wanting to treasure the closeness for as long as she could have it. She wasn't going to be the one to walk away. He'd have to be the one to leave.
"I know your power is important but"
"Not as much as you." Her fingers reached up and she began playing with the buttons on his jacket. His arms tightened around her. "But I still need it."
"Will you tell me why?" She looked up at him, her eyes boring into his with a silent request to not cast her aside. For him to trust that she loved him and that he deserved to be loved.
"It was part of our deal, dear. So, like it or not, I have to fulfill it."
Her face and burden lightened, and her cheeks reddened. He buried his face in her brown hair, and took a deep breath to enjoy the aroma he'd missed so much. The freshness of a rose that he'd never allow to wither.
She happily surrendered to Rumplestiltskin's strange display of affection. She put one arm around him, and tangled his silky hair between her fingers, while the other hand kept fiddling with his jacket buttons and collar. She relished his beating heart underneath her hands.
"I always let the things I care about slip through my hands, I won't let you go again," he said. She nodded, pleased at his words. She felt his body relax around her. She pressed herself closer, a wordless gesture to give strength to him. "I need my power to protect you from the queen and make her pay for what she's done to you."
His voice was filled with pain and hatred. A hate bespeaking such a cruel revenge her mind couldn't fathom its equal. She pushed it back and encouraged him to continue the tale he hid for so long. "But that's not all," she whispered.
"No." He closed his eyes and inhaled again. "When you were in the castle with me, I told you I lost my son. That's not entirely true. It was tha" he choked on his words. The last time he tried to tell her about his son, he evaded the subject. If she wanted him to tell her, to release a bit of the burden upon her, she had to offer her support each time his words failed.
Belle saw the anguish expressed in his eyes and his trembling lips. She moved her hand up, along his red tie, and then timidly stroked his shaven chin with her fingertips in an attempt relax his nerves.
Rumplestiltskin leaned into her touch for a moment before pressing his forehead against hers. "It's my fault he's gone. He tried to find a way to free me from the power I had. In his eyes I'd become a wretch. I said if he found a way to get rid of the powers without killing me, I'd do it. He did find a way, but I was afraid of returning to my old self and I broke my deal. He was sent to a different world. A world without magic, and without his father."
"He came to this world?"
He nodded. "The Blue Fairy made it possible with a magic beanstalk. It created a vortex that I didn't dare cross. I created this curse to come to this world, but I need magic to find my son in this vast place."
"You created the curse? I thought the queen was responsible."
At hearing her words, he laughed. "The queen is not that powerful dear, but she has a despicable heart. She had to carry out the vilest act, and she had the hatred to do it purely for revenge on Snow White. She never realized how she fell right into my manipulations." She heard gloating in his tone and looked away. "I told you I was a monster Belle," he whispered with bitterness.
She looked back at him. "You aren't. You have questionable methods of doing things, but your overall cause is noble."
"It's not always Belle. Don't be so naïve."
"So what do you feel now?" she demanded with more force than intended. She wasn't as naïve as he thought she was and hated that term when it was used to describe her.
"I have hope of regaining everything I lost. You're the proof. I thought you were dead but now
you're here." He took a shuddering breath, as if about to break into tears. "And if you still lo" He closed his eyes.
Belle wrapped her arms around his neck. "If you were a monster then you wouldn't be able to feel what you feel or withstand having me in your arms. I wouldn't be able to love anyone that didn't have a heart."
He removed one of her hands from his shoulders, brought it to his lips, and kissed it. Her stomach tightened and her eyes burned because of the small gesture. "I don't deserve you Belle."
She shook her head and they leaned into each other, his eyes asking for a kiss, and her eyes screaming their permission. Their lips met just as they did years go, timidly with delicacy and filled with the tenderness their hearts held.
They hesitantly pulled away and trembled at the loss of contact. She withheld the urge to jump for joy. "Your magic is till intact?" she asked, worried she might have broken the spell he needed so badly right now.
"Yes, in this world we don't have to worry," he said. "Although there is magic now, my body is still one of a mere human. There is not a curse to break."
"Oh," she said, for once at a loss of words with him.
He pulled away from her and grabbed her hand. "Let's get you some clothes. As beautiful as you are, those clothes do nothing for you."
She fake pouted and intertwined her fingers with his as she let him guide her through the strange world.
As they walked out of the forest, the small town came into sight. It looked like the villages he saw after an attack by ogres. His face remained expressionless, and he could feel Belle looking at him with her always-inquisitive eyes.
"It's ironic that true love is able to cause so much destruction," he said as he led her along the lonely street that led back into the small town. He felt so much stronger having her near him now.
"Your living room was a mess when I left it, so you should've known it already."
Regret flashed through his body. "That was the product of anger Belle." He hit his cane harder against the pavement as he walked.
She stopped walking, making him stop. He looked at her. "I didn't betray you Rumplestiltskin. You know that, right?"
He swallowed hard, the pain in her face hurting him worse than anything could, and her bravery amazing him at the same time. "Yes, I know. Everything that happened to you is my fault, and I hope you can forgive me someday."
"We both have some part of the blame, but now we are here together. That's what matters. When this is over, maybe we can have a happy ending if we desire one. Being locked up for so long made me think about many things. You don't have to fear anything because I forgave you long long ago. Just not myself. I shouldn't have-"
"Forgive yourself Belle, because I don't hold a grudge against you."
"I will try if you do the same," she said.
He shook his head. "It's not easy to forget I was a beast."
"No, being a beast has nothing to do with forgiveness. You're just complex."
"Layered?" he asked, smiling with a half smile.
The small bell above the door tinkled happily when they entered the pawnshop. The blinds were still drawn on the windows, letting the darkness reign over the place filled with old memories. It reminded her of the dimly lit parts of the dark castle where Rumplestiltskin placed the objects he attained through his agreements. This room, however, was small in comparison, but that didn't make this place any less value-filled.
Belle slowly navigated her way around the shelves, crystal tables and glass cases, as she followed Rumplestiltskin to the back room where she'd found him the night before. That was when she couldn't remember anything, good or bad. Rumplestiltskin's face of astonishment now made so much sense. Her imprisonment, the lies she'd been forced to listen to, the despair at seeing her beloved in anguish through the queen's mirrors, had a lasting effect on her. She'd never forget his cry of pain echoing in her ears night after night. She closed her eyes, desperately wanting to take his hand just to make sure he was alive and safe.
The memories were torture.
She watched as he searched through the drawers in a chest he had in his office, as if desperate for something he needed to find. Sometimes she knew she made him believe he could have a happy ending, and now that things were different, he was willing to get one for her.
Rumplestiltskin continued searching. He must have felt her questioning aura because he said, "I'm trying to find your clothing." She laughed to herself. Perhaps it would be better if he conjured the clothing so they didn't have to go from one place to another.
She walked behind him and her arms encircled his body. He didn't stop his movements until he held one of Belle's old dresses in his hands.
Rumplestiltskin looked over his shoulder.
"I heard you," she whispered. He tilted his face.
"What do you mean?"
"I heard you when the queen said I died."
Rumplestiltskin's body tensed. He clinched his teeth and she heard a low growl. She moved her hands over his stomach, tickling him. He exhaled deeply and let a tiny smile come to his lips. Rumplestiltskin dropped the clothes he had in his hands and took her hands.
"No one is going to take you away from me. If anyone touches you, I will not feel the smallest amount of guilt for what happens to them."
"Rumplestiltskin, I know how to take care of myself."
He huffed to hide a laugh, an action that made her take one of his locks of hair and pull it to shut him up. "Just why are you laughing?"
He stifled a groan and stared at her with his clever eyes. "Oh yes, I forgot you have a gift for taming beasts," he replied jokingly and turned around to face her.
She muttered at hearing him use that absurd word as a descriptor. "I will try not to approach ostentatious carriages with darkly dressed queens inside."
"You're going to make things difficult for me, aren't you?"
"You know how I am." She broke contact between their bodies and looked at the clothing he'd been rummaging through. "Why are my clothes in this world?"
He stood beside her. "It's part of the curs-" The jingle of the bell at the door cut off his words. Before she could speak, he placed a finger on her lips so she'd remain silent.
He grabbed his cane and limped elegantly towards the front of the shop. He stopped in the doorframe, watching the intruder and blocking Belle from the view of prying eyes.
"Ah, I wondered where you were," said the voice of the woman who destroyed so many lives. "I didn't think you'd continue this facade of yours. Surely you've noticed that woman has made everyone remember."
"Your Highness, coming here is a reckless thing, don't you think? Shouldn't you find a safe place to hide from your imminent capture?"
"Those idiots can't do anything to me. The magic is back. I feel it running through my veins. Don't you?" she asked and smiled loftily.
"If you've come here to kill time, you should leave. I have much to do"
"Don't be sullen, Rumple. I wanted to make a deal with you like old times."
"I won't make any deals with you your Majesty" he replied with his face strained with rage. "Leave."
"The magic has gone bad on you, Rumple. It's normal since it came so suddenly-"
"I should dismember you!" He moved menacingly towards the woman who still held a smile of joy and superiority. "But you caught me in a good mood, so get out of here...please."
The woman stopped smiling and a murderous look formed in her eyes. Magic forced her feet to move.
"Ah, and your majesty. The next time you cross paths with me, don't expect to get out unharmed," he said with a grim smile as she headed toward the door, accompanied by an unusual trembling in her legs.
With the sharpness of a hawk, Rumplestiltskin monitored her every step until her presence vanished from his territory. He clenched his fists. Belle walked up to him.
"Let's go home," she whispered as she unfolded one of his trembling fists and entangled his fingers with hers. He blinked a few times before his eyes focused on her.
"Are you okay?"
She nodded. He squeezed her hand gently. "I'm fine, just a little dazed. I didn't expect to see her so soon," she said without hesitation. She lifted her arm, which was holding one of her dresses. "I'll be better when we get home."
Without waiting another minute, they left the shop and journeyed through the deserted city, their hands still entwined.
AN: Thanks to my lovely Moon who made this possible. Hope you enjoyed and if you have time you can tell me what you think.