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The Heart Won't Lie, Part 9
Continuing Tales

The Heart Won't Lie

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Eyes Like Dawn

Part 9 of 25

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First Truths

Loud banging was the only thing that managed to wake Mr. Gold in the early hours of morning. At first he believed it noise from somewhere else in his neighborhood. Possibly a neighbor hammering to fix something on their home broken from the storm, but the increasing pounded persisted rhythmically and quite close letting him know it was defiantly his door.

Squinting, his eyes closed tighter at the sounds that ran through his skull, he groaned in drowsiness, loathing the thought of stirring awake just yet, and trying to place the events of last night back into his sleep addled brain. He hadn't remembered ever resting this well in ages; but why?

The events of the night before came crashing back into his head simultaneously in tune with the thunderous knocks on his front door. Holding her, his heart leaping for joy as she remembered. His eyes popped open to see Belle still snugly pressed into his arms comfortably dozing, her head resting on his forearm, lost in the peaceful oblivion of sleep.

His heart began to race as the knocking intensified, making him jerk his head to the doorway. Who could it have been this time of morning? He wondered with more than a little dread. Part of him could only imagine it was Regina just standing there arms crossed with a superior smile on her sharp features. It would be just like her that harpy.

He turned back to look at the woman still so well fitting in his arms like a perfect piece to a puzzle. He fought back the urge to move a rebellious chestnut curl from her face, as his mind raced frantically. What of her, what if it was her father come to talk with her only to find her just waking and wearing his nightshirt!

Sudden movement stirred Anna slowly awake, she hadn't remembered such contentment and peace in a very long time, and never stuck in that tiny asylum room. The feeling was very old, and yet so familiar. Her light blue eyes fluttered open sleepily to see thin wisps of gray smoke from the remnants of a fire drifting lazily upwards through the chimney. The embers were very light orange, and the ashes a cold gray like threatening clouds that promised snow.

Where was she, what had happened…? From the corner of her blurry vision she saw the glint of gold from the tip of an all too familiar cane, and her heart sank, making her face go nearly as gray as the ash. Turning around she was met to the face of Mr. Gold, looking nearly as flushed as she.

The pounding continued making her jump in surprise, but Gold merely grimaced making a settling motion with his hands towards her. "Quiet if you know what good for you." He hissed fiercely as a threat as he rose quietly; only thinking of what person could be standing at his door, and how it could affect him.

Trying to make his face as neutral as possible, he snatched up his cane, and limped towards the door. "Coming, coming!" He growled distempered, unlatching the many locks.

He was met by a blonde haired, glowering, ex bounty hunter turned law official, in a black leather jacket with a sheriff badge attached to the supple leather. "Ah, Sheriff Swann." Mr. Gold spat less than pleasantly, forcing himself to look annoyed to hide his sudden panic that leapt within him. "What do I owe the pleasure of this little visit now?"

Emma scowled accusingly at the wealthiest man in Storybrooke, her mouth a thin hard line. "You heard the storm last night."

"Indeed I did. I'm grateful for you checking up on me, sheriff, but I can assess all damages by myself thank you." He grimaced planting both his hands on his cane in front of him in his usual stance.

A muscle slightly twitched in Emma's jaw as she read through Gold's façade of getting rid of her as quickly and politely as possible. Shaking her head slightly she crossed her arms testily flashing him her signature look of knowing. "I'm here for more than that. I got a tip last night of some one wandering the streets around here. Trees are down all over so I couldn't get the far out until now. I'm following a lead and like to know if you've seen her."

"Her." Gold echoed icily, his heart clamping like someone had squeezed it with their bare hands.

"Her names Annabelle French; has been known in the past to have a few mental issues. Have you seen her?" Emma explained, slowly gauging Gold's look as she spoke.

Mr. Gold shook his head slightly, trying to look his most annoyed to dissuade the persistent woman in front of him. "Afraid I haven't, Sheriff Swann. I hope you find her though."

Emma glared at him measuring his reaction; her blue eyes seemed to be piercing his mind rooting out the lie. "Funny." She growled after a moment. "I don't believe you. The report also said they saw this person come down your lane. So with that in mind I'd like to search the premise just to make sure someone isn't trespassing or hasn't been hurt during the storm."

"You don't have the right to come unto my property and-" Gold began to protest.

Sighing, Emma impatiently flashed the irked and inwardly panicking, Gold an officious paper, stamped with a seal of approval from the mayor. "I'm not an idiot, Mr. Gold. I did come prepared with a warrant." With that she tried to step into the home only to have Gold not move an inch.

He couldn't let this woman discover Belle. Her past, whatever it was, would rise to haunt her, and who knew what the sheriff might do. Even though Miss Swann meant well she was still bound to tenants of her position. What would she do until she had the thing figured? Place Belle in a cell? Drag her away forever, perhaps, and he'd loose her again? No thought was pleasant, and each steeled Gold not to let Belle's presence be compromised.

"Are we really going to do this, Mr. Gold?" Emma narrowed her blue eyes disapprovingly, a hand going for the cold steel cuffs at her waist. "Because you know I'll just cuff you and put you on the curb till my search is done then have to drag you to county."

In her mind Emma knew the woman Annabelle had to be in there now, the only question in her mind was why was he trying to lie about. Was he hiding or protecting?

"Travis?" A pleasant voice called Gold's first name from the inside.

Looking over Gold's shoulder, Emma got a good look at the chestnut haired beauty now coming out of what was Mr. Gold's living room. She was dressed in only a blue nightshirt that came about to her upped thigh, and was probably Gold's; her hair ruffled as it fell about her shoulders.

Listening to both sheriff and Gold talk, Anna had paid close attention to what was being said in case she had to find a way to bolt. Fear ran through her blood as she thought her father, or some official had come to take her away and back to the awful prison she had long endured. Oddly though, as the conversation had been transpiring, it seemed that Mr. Gold was…covering for her?

She had never expected him to put his neck out for her, even to go so far as get arrested for it as she'd heard the sheriff say and listened to the slight jingling of steel handcuffs. In a way it warmed Anna's heart in ways she couldn't explain that he would so such, but she knew he couldn't go to prison; not for her, after he had already done so much and had been so kind the night before.

"Are you coming back to join me?" She asked walking closer to him. The walk was short, but in a few steps and heartbeats their eyes met and a frantic conversation ensued that Gold got the message clearly when seeing the alarm dance in Belle's eyes. She was giving him an out.

Anna stood beside him, wrapping her arm around his waist, and leaning her head against his slowly rising chest, praying beyond all possible hope the ruse to trick the cunning sheriff would succeed.

Emma looked back and forth from Gold to Anna with more than a little incredulity and surprise in her sharp gaze. She raised a finger pointing to Anna and then Gold slowly. "You and him?"

"She's been with me nearly all night." Gold smiled weakly, wrapping his arm over Anna's shoulder pulling her closer to his body in feigned intimate mischief. There was no lie to be had there, it was mostly the truth.

"So why'd you lie." Swann asked; her incredulity replaced with confusion. She could always tell when people were lying, and knew that neither of them were at that moment.

"Our private lives are our own, sheriff Swann." Gold replied tactfully relaxing only mildly at the look playing upon Emma's face. "I should think you would respect this invaded moment of privacy and not let it get around town. News does travel fast around here."

Emma blinked taken aback by the sudden turn of events, embarrassed almost not knowing how to really reply. "Of course, I mean…yeah, I don't talk about other peoples lives." She knew from experience what had happened with David and Mary Margaret, the cruel crimson words smeared across the school teacher's car and the 'you ought to be ashamed.' glares people gave Mary and David. Emma wouldn't wish that on anybody even if it was Mr. Gold, and some strange woman.

"Thanks." He replied dryly almost with a sneer and slammed the door leaving a very confused sheriff standing at his stoop.

As she turned about to stomp down the muddy walk to the police cruiser that glistened with rain in the shining sun. Emma was more certain than ever something wasn't right. Both the mayor, and Gold had there presence in this woman's life which, in her observation meant something was defiantly going on.

~8~8~

Gold couldn't help but let a sigh of relief pass his lips as he watched the cruiser speed off down the debris littered road. They had barely gotten by thanks to that little display Belle had pulled.

Turning to face Belle, he saw her cheeks alight with crimson as she blushed fiercely now with the sheriff out of sight. She was probably embarrassed as what she was wearing and what they had just done by convincing the sheriff they were somehow lovers.

Even at the thought, Gold himself was feeling rather awkward only standing there in his night pants and shirt with her.

"I think my clothes might be dry." Anna stated to have any excuse to get out of his sight that felt like it was looking past the soft cotton. She felt embarrassed and ashamed all at once with only the burning desire to get into something decent; something that didn't have the faint lingering odor of him that made her heart leap.

"Of course." Gold replied nervously with a cough. Never in all his life had he felt so awkward, standing there with her; feeling very exposed, and so very naked even though he was clothed.

The pair departed in separate directions; Anna to the clothes that had been dried by the fire and Gold to his upstairs room to find suitable clothing, both having their thoughts rage about their heads fiercer than the billowing storm had last night.

After about an hour they both had the courage to move from their respective rooms, braving themselves for whatever came next. Both met in the simple kitchen not meeting one another's gazes. Anna slid by the wall one hand gripping her arm as she flashed Gold a weak sheepish grin.

His lips twitched slightly in reply to her smile as he limped about the large kitchen that seemed ridiculously huge for one who lived all by himself. Half of the cabinets were as bare as the day he'd moved in; only holding gray gathering dust.

"Hungry?" He finally managed to ask, though kicked himself for such a stupid thing to say.

"A little." Anna admitted with a nod, just as nervous as he.

Gold shivered slightly as the cool air from the fridge hit him as he opened it. Pulling out a glass container of milk he opened a cabinet producing two bowls and a brown box of cereal.

"So, where should we begin, Miss French?" Gold grunted as he sat in a chair and poured his meal into the bowl. They had to discuss what had occurred; there was no pretending it didn't happen or dodging like it had been in his castle when awkward moments arose between them. A look, a smile, a glance could be swept under a rug and treated like it had never been, but what had happened last night was by far a bigger predicament.

Anna sat and poured the cereal almost numbly, across the table from him, though visibly flushed at his words. He certainly did deserve an explanation, she knew as she dumped the milk into her bowl.

She took a spoonful of the cereal, even though she truly didn't posses an appetite, to mull over her answer and try to remember what had led up to that night. Most of it felt like a blur that swirled through her mind. She could remember feeling confused, and cold, and miserable, then safe and warm and at peace wrapped in his arms.

"I told my father I was working as your house keeper. He didn't take the news very well." She admitted swirling the spoon in the bowl half heartedly.

"Indeed not." Gold replied a bit coldly, making Anna flinch.

His ire wasn't directed at her, but at the ignorant idiot she called father. He could remember the same rage he had felt for the man when he had learned of what he had done to Belle; it was the reason he had beaten him literally black and blue in his fury.

Anna shrugged. "He said he wanted nothing to do with me if I worked for the man that ruined him." She tactfully omitted the part where he thought she was sleeping with Gold for money. Even the thought made her cheeks feel hot again. Gold wasn't like that, he was aloof and strange, but he had an ancient chivalrous quality about him that was endearing to her. No, he'd never ask her anything of that nature.

"So I was the reason he kicked you out." Gold concluded dryly with a hard tug at his heart. "So why did you come to me, Belle?" He asked, his curiosity pleading to be assuaged. What did she know, what did she remember?

Breathing a shivering sigh Anna could only shake her head as she took another spoonful of cereal. "I honestly haven't a clue; maybe it's because you're the only person I know at least a little bit." She would never admit, her heart burned for him, how her soul had practically screamed for her to be near him. "But thank you." She continued with a brave smile. "Thank you for humoring me, and putting up with my nonsense about dungeons and cups and all the other ridiculous things I said. I must have looked pretty pathetic huddled at your stoop and blabbering like a mad woman."

So that was it, Gold thought as he finished off the last of the cereal, for some reason she did remember, but she thought it was a mental problem. Did he dare tell her it wasn't in her head; did he dare admit that everything she experienced that night had happened long ago and he was sorry for what he had done by rejecting her? Would she even believe him?

"It wasn't much trouble." He admitted lamely, cursing himself for not possessing enough courage to tell her the truth. "So what will you do now?" He asked, thoroughly expecting words of resignation.

Perhaps if she severed the ties that he couldn't seem to break, things could go back to the way they were.

Rising she took both bowls placing them in the sink. "Get my stuff from my father." She replied before turning on the water. "It's my life, and I'm not quitting, even if I could, to soothe his bloody pride."

Now that was the Belle he knew. Gold couldn't help, but grin briefly at her words before a troubling thought pierced him. "Where will you stay?"

If she had a better place to go than his doorstep last night, she probably would have, and he knew she didn't have enough money to settle anywhere like an apartment. The thought of turning her away made him visibly flinch for a moment before he hid the gesture. He could not let that happen again, the memories of letting her go were still fresh wounds on his heart even after all this time.

Don't even think about it, let her go! A voice inside his head growled to him. Gold knew it wouldn't work; nothing he could say even if he knew it was a set-up could dissuade him from doing what had entered his thought. He almost compared himself to a lemming, seeing the cliff, but mindlessly careening over it anyway.

"I'll make you a deal." He spoke suddenly, making Anna turn to him. "You work here for half pay, and I'll provide you a place to sleep here."

Anna blinked at him in surprise for a moment, letting his words sink in. Gold was not known to be a generous man by any means. In fact he was renowned for the exact opposite, and despised by everyone in town for it. "Why would you…?"

"It's quite simple." He interrupted coldly feeling more like his old self than he had in a very long time. "I still need a housekeeper, and I would prefer one that wasn't living on the street." Wincing slightly from a pang in his knee as he rose from his chair, he shrugged at her. "Not like you have that many options, Miss French." He pointed out.

What would people say? What would they think about a girl straight from a mental institution moving in with the most devious man in all of Storybrooke? That was the type of gossip that would set a sleepy little town like Storybrooke ablaze in a matter of hours. But then again his couch did seem more desirable than any shelter, if Storybrooke even had a homeless shelter. He was right in one regard; she didn't have many options.

"Only until I can work something better out." She replied mildly, begrudgingly and yet in the same turn gratefully accepting his offer. The thought of staying with him did not truly feel as awkward as she imaged it had. On the contrary, it sort of had a reminisces to it, though she didn't know why.

Gold smiled thinly as he nodded then began to limp out of the kitchen. "A deal it is then, Dearie."

"Thank you." She said suddenly, making Gold's heart lurch. There was a sheer thankfulness laced in her tone that made him pause. Both knew even though it was simple phrase there was much more behind it. A thank you for not sending her way, selling her out to the sheriff, and letting her sleep in his arms. A thank you for protecting her and being there.

Gold smiled even though he was turned away from her, and this time it was a genuine smile that played upon his normally neutral business like features. "You're welcome, Belle."

The Heart Won't Lie

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Eyes Like Dawn

Part 9 of 25

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