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The Heart Won't Lie, Part 21
Continuing Tales

The Heart Won't Lie

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Eyes Like Dawn

Part 21 of 25

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First Truths

Belle had never seen Granny's diner so packed in one given morning like it was that day. The quaint home town diner was the hub of activity for the spectators who eagerly sat around ordering cup after cup of tasteless coffee, waiting for someone to come into the restaurant and tell them the events that had taken place.

The verdict was set for ten A.M and the whole town was eager for the outcome. All talk from the waiting patrons circled around the mayor and business man. Who did they believe was right, who did they support, which would be better to win?

Belle sat on a stool at the bar in the farthest corner of the diner trying to be almost invisible, but all eyes, she knew, had spotted her once or twice and some of the murmurs in-between sips of drink and mouthful of eggs were about her.

That skewed evidence Regina had brought to the table had been haunting her since yesterday. Those who owed Gold debts were wary about her, fearful the mayor's evidence was true and Belle could sick Mr. Gold on them like a rabid dog if they some how displeased her.

Scooping up a forkful of hash brown left on her plate, she chewed it mechanically not even really tasting it. She truly didn't have an appetite and all of it felt like it turned to ash in her mouth anyway, but it was better than sitting around watching all the patrons cast wary glances at her every once and awhile. All her thoughts were centered on Rum at the moment, hoping and praying he was acquitted and they could continue their lives.

"Well if it isn't little Henry Mills." Granny stated suddenly her usual no nonsense tones laced with happiness, slightly jarring Belle from her thoughts.

Belle turned her head only an inch to catch a glimpse of a shaggy haired ten year old boy, wearing a back-pack and a large leather bound book just barely peeking out from it. The young lad greeted the now grinning woman everyone in town called Granny, and ordered a cup of hot chocolate as he passed a fistful of crinkled bills and a few old coins to the elderly lady.

So this was the mayor's adopted son, Belle knew, remembering a few times the name Henry Mills had been brought up. He was the one everyone whispered was crazy for thinking the town was under some sort of witches spell.

From what Rum had told her, he was one of the rare few who knew the truth about the quaint little county of Storybrooke.

She watched the boy curiously as he slid into a booth by the back window of the diner, almost as if in hiding, and pried the huge old story book from his back-pack.

By then, Granny had come from behind the bar, always seeming to make a little extra time and care for children, even on a busy day, and slid a huge white mug of steaming chocolate topped with thick mountains of whipped cream on the table.

Belle could see the elderly lady's eyes dart briefly to the book then back to Henry in a look that Belle knew all to well. It was the look of pity; to feel bad for some one others thought were insane.

She got those looks all the time and she hated them. It was as if she was like some sort of deranged animal lost and wandering in the world to be pitied, but looked upon as some strange curiosity.

As Granny dashed behind the counter again in her sturdy gait to help other customers, Belle quietly jumped from her stool, and began carelessly traipse over to the reading ten year old.

"Henry, right?" Belle asked cautiously as she neared the edge of the booth. The brown haired beauty, cast a few looks at the watery, well worn, slightly damaged pages of his tome. He was on a page that had a picture looking a lot like that of Regina in a flowing midnight black gown with some sort of spiked neckpiece blooming from behind her head.

Henry looked up from the page, slamming the book shut in a reflex, seeing that she had been perusing the page intently. "Yeah." He replied warily, searching for some sort of disapproval in Anna's eyes concerning the book.

"That's an interesting book you have there, Henry." She smiled weakly before moving a tendril of her chestnut hair behind her ear. "I used to love books like that. Tales from far off lands, with stately princes, and swooning damsels, and knights who rushed forth to slay the snapping dragons."

Henry looked down into his mug of chocolate, his fingers drawing little circles on the buffed table, as he shrugged. "But they're not just stories."

"Really?" Belle acted slightly surprised by this, but in truth, knew every thing the boy said was correct. Sliding into the booth seat opposite of his, she stared at him intently; suddenly very curious about what he knew. "What else are they?"

There was a timid silence from the child who looked at her suspiciously as if she could have been an agent from his mother to try and un-cover what he knew, or dissuade his fanciful machinations.

Seeing that he was hesitant to say anything, the beauty shrugged slightly, a clever smile coming to her face. "I'll make you a deal." Belle began slyly, taking a page out of Rum's book. "You tell me what else do the stories mean and I won't tell anyone else. On top of it all, I'll buy you another mug of cocoa."

Perhaps it was her look of genuine interest instead of the placating patient look people always gave Henry, perhaps it was that all the people in Storybrooke called them both crazy, perhaps it was even the temptation of another mug of chocolate. What ever it was Henry was starting to feel as if he had stumbled across a kindred sprit in his fight to throw off the curse.

"Deal." He replied quickly with a small smile, warming up to Anna instantly. Flipping open his book again, he leaned slightly across the table, his fingers pointing to the colorful pictures. "See, they're real, not just some made up stories. You see everyone in Storybrooke is under a curse by my mom, the evil queen, and my real mom..." He paused for a moment biting his lower lip thoughtfully as he were torn on a matter, before shaking his head. "I mean Emma is the one that has to break the curse."

"So why hasn't she broken it yet?" Belle asked in confusion. If the sheriff of Storybrooke was truly the only one to bring them out of this strange existence why hadn't it been done? Maybe then, a true life with her Rum could start if the evil had been cut away and the curse vanquished to allow the people of Storybrooke back into their realm.

The young boy's lips twisted slightly to the side, as if in embarrassment as he shrugged before scratching his chin ponderously. "Well, you see…no one really believes me about there being another world and all, and I haven't really figured out how to break the curse yet."

Sighing once, Belle shook her head slightly before leaning against the leather booth seat. "So even now there's no way to stop your mother from doing everything and anything she wants."

"No, she's not all powerful; there is this one guy that is always keeping her from gaining that extra level of power." Henry dropped his voice, low, taking a brief survey of the crowded diner as if some stalker were hanging about. "Mr. Gold has always been more powerful than my mom. That's why she hates him so much. He controls land, business, and probably has more power than her here now!"

"So with out, Mr. Gold, Regina might truly be unstoppable here. Powerful enough to make sure Emma doesn't break the curse?" Belle frowned as she spoke the words cautiously.

She suddenly felt her gut churn, a thought burrowing deep into her head as the sudden realization of what Regina had been doing hit her. It was the exact same scheme she had played upon Belle on the road when she had gone to fetch straw.

Henry scratched his dirty brown hair thoughtfully. "Well yeah…I mean if you put it that way, she'll have a more powerful arsenal to stop Emma and Operation Cobra."

"Operation Cobra?" Belle asked slowly, her brow furrowed in confusion, although she was only half listening to Henry. Her mind was somewhere else in time as she remembered Rum snatching off the linen that went over a huge full length mirror, screaming that she would never be stronger.

Henry nodded eagerly, always happy to tell another, who wasn't under his mothers influence of course, what Operation Cobra was. "It's the resistance group against my mom to break the curse. So far Emma and Dr. Hopper are…kind of in, and the guy that comes in here everyday that no one knows his name is one of us." The ten year old sighed wistfully as he finished off his mug of chocolate and wiped the remnants of it off his lips with the back of his hand. "If only we could get Mr. Gold to join then I know we'd really have a fighting chance. But that's tricky because he's always been neutral really."

"Uh huh…" The Beauty replied absently, barely registering the words as she waved a hand for one of the waitress'.

The thoughts of Regina's plot fevered through her mind like some disease that assaulted her entire being. She suddenly found that she could not bear the thought of simply sitting in a stifling diner waiting to hear the fate of her Rum, and with it the fate of seeing would Regina finally snatch up the control she always wanted.

It was too much for the beauty to think about, let alone in the loud diner with talking, the old radio blaring in the back, the clinking of cutlery, and the sound of the bell attached to the door ringing constantly as the crowd ebbed and flowed like some sort of tumultuous sea.

She truly felt as if she would go mad with anticipation and wariness if she didn't leave soon. She knew Rum had told her to stay in a well grouped area, but there had to be a better place.

Handing the suspiciously glaring waitress a few dollars to refill Henry's mug, the former maid grabbed her jacket and slid out of the booth, hypnotized almost.

She found herself suddenly feeling sick at the new revelations of the mayor's son, knowing that if Rum did lose the trial, they might never get home and have their old lives back.

From the corner of her eye, she saw the ten year old drop his head to the weathered pages sadly, as if she was leaving because everything he said was ridiculous. If only he knew how spot on he was!

Forcing a smile, even though it was truly hard to accomplish, Belle laid a hand on his shoulder, making the boy look up to her. She bent down just a bit, to whisper to him. "I know what breaks curses. Your mother told me long ago so I could do something I still don't know if I regret or cherish. True loves kiss can break any curse."

Henry seemed to alight with happiness at her words, his bright jasper eyes sparkling as if he had just heard the best news in the world, and perhaps it was to him. "You…you remember that time. You know I'm not crazy." He blinked rapidly, before arching an eyebrow. "Who are you?"

"Belle." She replied simply, savoring the name. How good it felt to speak her true moniker to another that believed her. "I'm Belle." She echoed again this time feeling the pull of a genuine smile that wanted to play upon her lips as she walked out the diner.

~8~8~

The day was still hot as ever as Belle left out the confines of the diner. Still, a hot day outside was better than being cramped in an air-conditioned diner that thronged with fear and scrutiny of her.

Tossing the light jacket over her arm, she set off down the nearly empty sidewalk, heading for the docks to watch the ships dance upon the tranquil waters. She felt free out in the heat, away from the court, and eyes, and all of the troubles that came with it. Well she had been, until…

"Ah, Miss French I've been looking all over for you." A quick voice said behind her.

Belle forced down a weary sigh, her once tranquil moment banished as she turned to find one Sydney Glass smiling his weasel like grin at her. His black fedora was cocked slightly to the side, and a pen behind one of his ears. In his hand, was a white note pad and another pen. "Could I get a quote concerning the trial?" He asked expectantly.

This time Belle did sigh as she rolled her eyes. "No comment, Mr. Glass. I don't have anything to say." She practically growled as she turned about to continue her walk.

"Not even after Mr. Gold has just been proven innocent under the stipulation you return to the psychiatric ward at the Boston mental institution for two weeks?" Glass countered, his smug smile thinly playing upon his lips.

Belle took a sharp intake of breath at the words that had suddenly been spoken so unexpectedly. "W…w…what?" She stammered, her knees feeling weak as she turned to face the now calmly staring Mr. Glass.

"Yep. A friend of mine phoned me the news right after the verdict was given. Mr. Gold only is acquitted if you go back for two weeks to be re-evaluated." He explained with an air of uncaring as he scribbled a few words down on the pad.

The sinking feeling in Belle's gut only dipped lower at the revelations that made her heart palpitate like crazy, and sweat begin to prick at her forehead, but not from the sweltering heat. Her throat felt as if it were closing, and her pulsed raced like mad at the thought of going back to that horrid place. Alone, without her love, every one about telling her, showing her, and trying to prove that she was insane.

"Miss French?" Sydney called her name warily, his eyes searching her from the sudden reaction. " A quote?"

Shaking her head fiercely, she blinked back tears, at the memories that assaulted her, growling almost barbarically, her teeth clenched together. She could see what Regina had planned against Gold, and it filled her with wrath. "She won't win." Belle snarled, actually making Glass take a step back. "She will never win."

Wordlessly she turned away from the reporter and stamped down the street almost in a run.

Watching her depart, Sydney dug into his pocket taking out his phone. Tapping a few buttons he looked about once, making sure no one was close to listen in. "She knows." He whispered into the phone quickly, and turned it off before he headed back down the street back to the Granny's diner.

~8~8~

It was very late before Gold fiddled for the key to his home and opened the front door. The trial had been said and done fully at about midday, leaving the rest of the time to get his affairs in order.

He had spent most of the day at the bank transferring funds and getting his accounts in place for Regina to sink her fangs into like he knew she wanted so desperately to.

He had specifically told the judge no after the ultimatum had been stated. He was not letting Belle go back under any circumstances. He knew for a fact if Regina got her hands on Belle he would never see her again.

That had sent the entire court into a flustered flurry, but still he had made his choice. The judge however, granted him a week's period to convince Annabelle to leave. For Mr. Gold, that timing could be spent in other endeavors; he could make sure everything was ready for Regina in a week.

As he had told himself in the court, and now walking in his home; nothing, and no one was going to make him hand Belle back over to where that harpy, Regina could get her again.

As he limped down the dimly lit hall he found Belle nestled in her favorite chair in the living room like he knew she would be. A book, as usual in her hands, as she lounged like a curled up cat. He could tell she hadn't been focused enough to read, for it seemed she was about two pages in.

"Rum." She said his name in a relived sigh as she put the book to the side. "What happened, I've been worried about you."

Taking off his suit jacket, he threw it to the couch, allowing himself a deep breath to escape his lips to steady his tumultuous nerves. He thanked whatever deities that were about in this world that she didn't know the verdict yet. It would make it all the easier. "Guilty. Regina covered her bases far too thoroughly. I'm afraid there was nothing that could be done."

He wouldn't ever tell her the truth about the sacrifice they would have to make. He would rather hold her in his arms with no influence than to live as a king alone with out her. No matter what occurred, he would hide the facts as long as he could, and when they finally came to light it would all be over.

True, Regina would get what she desired, but that was far better than losing his Belle, even if it was a great blow to his pride.

The beauty slipped out of the chair, and padded silently like some sort of wraith towards the grim faced Mr. Gold. It was just like him to lie, especially with the ultimatum of the courts decision.

Smiling slightly, Belle wrapped her arms about him in a hug, her head pressing against his slowly moving chest. Rum was not necessarily the 'hugging type' but she was just happy he was there and safe for the moment.

"It's alright. We'll figure something out to fight her." She assured him softly in a gentle whisper.

He couldn't help but lift his frown just a tad at her encouragement, always the strong one his Belle.

He pulled his arms around her in a hug that felt odd for him, being that he never hugged much or none at all before her arrival. "I'm sure you're right." He replied after a few moments of silence. Of course he didn't believe a word of it, but for now he forced himself to think it would all be okay.

~8~8~

It had to be midnight by the time Mr. Gold had bid Belle goodnight and stumbled up the stairs. Here was where the blow of defeat hit him hardest, alone in the darkened corridors and quarters of him huge home, to let the week's events replay through his mind like some horridly vivid record to where there was no end.

His words, once so vagrantly mocked and sneered at Regina, simply to watch a scowl bloom upon her face, now had been proven false. She was stronger, or would be in a week's time.

Gold grimaced as he could very easily imagine her sharp wicked smile every time he would see her. It would mock him, slash open his wounds of defeat every second she stared at him, and lash his already beaten body to a bloody heap unmercifully.

Sighing the business man sat on the precipice of his bed, letting the thoughts plague and torment him. The room was a blinding black with only thin rays of moon light streaming in through the thin curtains that wafted back and forth with a soft wind that played against the sheer fabric.

The blackness seemed horribly thick and oppressing, like a weight that enveloped and surrounded him, reminding him yet again of his failures, and his weaknesses that he felt had finally caught up with him.

His hand curled tightly into a fist, practically quivering in his shame and fury at his now helpless state. A soft cry of anger almost escaped his lips, when Belle suddenly appeared like an apparition of some dream lit realm of night.

She stalked quietly into his room, her face almost serene in a way Gold had never seen it before. Her russet curls tumbled freely down her shoulders unlike most occasions when it was held loosely behind her. The startling cobalt blue of her eyes seemed to shimmer like twin pools that glittered almost ethereally in the glowing pale of the lunar orb shining through his window. She wore only a blue night shirt that matched her azure eyes. His blue night shit, the one he had given her that long night ago. Looking upon her, she seemed almost to be made of the very fabric of magic that Rum had once wielded; some thing to be awed upon almost unbelieving-surreal.

His heart seemed to go still in his chest, his mouth drying as she came nearer. She almost seemed to drift in a floating manner like some specter risen from the nightly realm.

"Bel-" He wanted to speak her name, but it came out as a gurgled choke that spilled out of his ridiculously dry throat.

She was close now, close enough for him to touch her creamy soft skin and bestow kisses upon every inch of it. Their eyes met together in a bind that would never break; black and blue mingling, one lost amidst the other.

Belle's hand rested on his face, her thumb smoothing over a bit of scruffy five o'clock shadow that was blooming across his cheek and jaw line.

There was a new look to her eyes, something that Gold had not seen before. A different sheen stared back at him, even her touch seemed new and wonderful; sending thrills racing through him.

"Am I yours, Rumpelstiltskin?" Belle questioned gently, her head tipping slightly to the left.

Rum nodded slowly, trying to force his mouth to work properly. "Yes." He replied huskily, seemingly entranced by her eternal gaze of sapphire.

"Then prove it to me." She whispered tenderly.

It only took one soft, hungry kiss of her lips eagerly against his that revealed what she had come for and what she wanted.

He felt her delicate soft hands pressed against his bare chest restarting his heart with the spark of her flesh against his own, as she pressed him down unto his bed. And suddenly, all thoughts that were not about that moment melted away as the heat melted away in the cool of night. He knew nothing, felt nothing, saw nothing, and thought of nothing but the woman he had wrapped in his arms.

She kissed him in a mixture of softness and fierceness that flared through his body bringing a fire to his blood he had never felt so intense.

Deftly he used his strength, barely noticing the twinge of pain in his leg to twist her about and let her fall to the bed. Looking down at her now he saw that she looked even more beautiful than from afar, everything about her was perfect to him. Her soft skin, and lovely features illuminated only slightly by the moonlight. He suddenly felt very unworthy of her. What right did he have to love to her?

He felt as if a two-ton boulder was lodged in his throat as he dared to search her eyes looking to see if this was real and what she truly wanted from him. How could she when he was a monster and she a beauty that was so much more than he would ever be.

Her only reply was another kiss confirming her want, telling him everything he needed to know in the simple world enveloping gesture.

The mystical rays of moon light beaming through the window were the only witnesses to the night as beauty and the beast of Storybrooke became lost in a world all their own.

~8~8~

Belle sighed quietly in contentment wrapped up close in Rum's wide protective arms. His warm bare flesh was nestled against her own, his final kiss still lingering on the back of her neck with his last words of love that had been on his lips as he had fallen asleep.

There was not a moment she would forget from this night. Lost in exploration, and entwined in the flashes of blind love and slow passion.

For a moment she briefly wished she would forget; it would make what had to be done so much easier.

Making sure that Rum didn't stir she pried herself from under the blankets slowly as not to wake him. Thankfully, or perhaps regrettably, he remained lost in peaceful slumber, only shifting very slightly as she crawled out of bed.

A part of her wished he might wake up and stop her, but at the thought she immediately scolded herself. She had to do this, no matter how bad she didn't want to, and heaven knew how much she didn't want to.

With only the moon light, once seemingly magical, as guide she slipped on a shirt and jeans she had stashed under the bed before he had come home.

It had been hours of tough thought and decision, but she realized with more than a little dread what had to be done. Regina could not get her hands on Gold's power. To do so would make her nigh unstoppable, dominating then every single aspect of the cursed town.

Belle had realized before he had even lied to her that Rum would not give her up again. He would as soon watch the world burn around him than let her go. But this was far more than just them, it was far more than just a village being attacked by ogres, and couldn't be fixed with magic or deals.

This was something only she could fix to save her Rum, and all else from Regina's vile clutches. It was time for her to be the one that did the saving, even though with every step it felt as if her heart was tearing in two.

Now dressed, she stood over the bed, watching him in his deep sleep, at peace, content…happy even. Belle felt honored in some way that she could bring him some form of joy; to bring a smile to his face or a chuckle to his lips. She would miss those rare small times more than anything else with him.

"I love you, Rumpelstiltskin." She whispered so quietly it almost seemed she hadn't even spoken the words. "I am yours now and forever."

She dare kiss him one last time, resigning the feel of his lips pressed against hers to everlasting memory, hoping the night's events, and all other times with him would burn bright in her mind for all of eternity.

The sting of tears welled up inside, begging to be released like the growing heart ache inside, but she refused to weep, not yet, not when he was still so close. Blinking rapidly to fight the tears and keep them at bay, she forced herself to back away even though her whole body screamed to be with him.

The streets were deserted in the dead of night, and all was still, save for the occasional breeze that passed through as Belle exited the house quietly.

The only thing she carried with her out of the home was the blue night shirt he had given her. A memento and a memory to keep her strength not to turn around back to him. But it was hard, so very hard not to go back.

As she walked down the barren streets towards the hospital, the tears came like a flood as she held the shirt close to her crumbling heart. It tore at her soul worse than any physical or magical pain ever could, for it still held his lingering scent upon it as the last reminder she would have of him.

The Heart Won't Lie

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Eyes Like Dawn

Part 21 of 25

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