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Storybrooke\'s Tale of Beauty and the Beast, Part 27
Continuing Tales

Storybrooke's Tale of Beauty and the Beast

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Teddy's Twin

Part 27 of 37

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Storybrooke's Tale of Beauty and the Beast

~: Henry :~

One day- one day until the ball.

But there was a problem.

Miss Blanchard wasn't going to win.

Ruby had assigned people to take a poll, and Miss Blanchard had been down by a lot. 47% of the residents were planning on voting for the Evil Queen. Miss Blanchard only had 32% of the votes and 21% had reserved judgment, or hadn't been polled because they hadn't been found. Like Mr. Gold- Henry had looked for him everywhere. But… he'd searched all today and all yesterday, and he had yet to be found. Even Belle hadn't seen him. And Belle was worried.

Henry sat on a bench, thinking, holding the closed book in his lap. The stranger, August W. Booth, had told him that the answers were in the book but-

He didn't know how that was going to convince people to vote for Miss Blanchard…

"Hey Kid." It was Emma.

He didn't look up as she sat down next to him, "Hi, Emma."

"What's eating ya?" she asked, trying to look him in the face.

"Miss Blanchard's not going to win the Charity Ball," he said dejectedly.

Emma elbowed him, "Hey, you don't know that."

"Yes I do. Ruby did a poll," Henry said, bending his head lower, trying to keep her out of his sight.

"Yeah, well Ruby did that poll yesterday. People might have changed their minds by now, you don't know," Emma said supportively, nudging him again.

He brought his head up to look at her with dismay, "Why would they?"

Emma was trying to make him feel better, her eyes looking into his, "Because Regina's been acting like a witch from hell- oh, I mean," she stuttered to a stop.

He looked at her dryly, "You don't have to edit stuff. I know swear words."

"Yeah, but you're ten," Emma said guiltily.

Henry shrugged as Pongo barked across the street, "So? Kids at school swear all the time."

She threw him a skeptical look, "And you don't?"

"No. Swearing sounds dumb on kids my age," Henry shrugged again.

Emma smiled to one side, wrapping her arm around him, "You're smart, you know that?" He couldn't help but smile a bit at that. His mom was so cool. She looked at him then,"So want to go get some ice cream or something?"

Henry wasn't going to be distracted, not even by his cool mom. He lowered his head again, staring at the engravings on the book, "No, I'm looking for Mr. Gold."

"It doesn't seem like you're looking very hard," she said disheartened by his relapse.

"I know. I kinda gave up fifteen minutes ago," he admitted.

"Why are you looking for him?" Emma wanted to know.

There was no point in hiding the truth from her, "He's got a plan."

That definitely sparked her interest, "A plan for what?"

"A plan for breaking the curse, I think. And I've gotta stop him," Henry said, hating that it was true. He would do anything to help break the curse, but they had to do it right.

"Why?" Emma asked him, peering closer.

Henry was frustrated, "Because he's doing it wrong, and he knows it."

"Why is he doing it wrong?" Emma demanded.

"Because you have to do it," he swung around to look at her, staring at her pointedly.

Emma leaned away from his intense gaze, "No I don't- if he can break the curse the more power to him."

"No, that's not how it's supposed to be!" Henry exclaimed annoyed. How could she not see it, after all this time?

"Why is he breaking the curse? I thought he liked it here, or, whatever," Emma shook her head.

Henry's irritation subsided, and he sighed, "Well, now he's got Belle back."

"What?"

Henry froze. He remembered Belle telling him not to tell anyone, remembered that he wasn't supposed to give them away to anybody, "I mean-."

"What did you say?" Emma's voice was sharp, scarily so.

"Wh-Wh-What I meant was that Belle's alive, and he thought she was dead, so he's trying- trying to make it up to her, by bringing her back," Henry said, trying to smile through his fear.

Emma turned her head to glower at him through the sides of her eyes, "They're not together, are they?"

"No, of course not," Henry beamed.

She took a deep breath through the nose, "You're lying to me Kid." She stood up.

"No, wait, Emma-," Henry grabbed her hand.

She turned back at him, when a voice interrupted them, "Hi."

It was the stranger. Henry let go of her hand. Emma faced August, confused and irate, "Hey. What are you doing here?"

"I just wanted to, steal you for a second," he looked at Henry, who smiled at him encouragingly.

"Alright- you, stay put," Emma said, pointing at Henry as though pinning him to the bench. He wasn't going anywhere. He wanted to know what August had to say.

They stepped away a few feet, as though that distance would keep Henry from hearing. He pretended to be looking at his book, but his ears were on high alert.

"So I take it the answer is still no," August said slowly, uncertainly.

"Yeah, yeah it is," Emma sounded guilty but determined.

"Well then, I suppose I'll see you there," August was faking cheer- or was he? He was kind of illusive. Henry knew what they were talking about though. They were talking about the ball, tomorrow night.

"Maybe," Emma was hesitant.

"What do you mean maybe?" August wanted to know. Henry did too. It was the Charity Ball- everyone went. It just- it just always… Henry's mind started to over think.

"I just- I just don't like it," Emma sounded doubtful, nervous.

"What? Dancing?" August joked.

"No, feeling like I have to go to this – this – thing. I don't know," her mind was clouding over, just as quickly as Henry's was. Magic. He could feel it trying to cloud his senses, make him forget. Normally he was immune. How much magic had the Evil Queen put into this ball?

"Interesting," August's voice sounded like Henry's thoughts.

"What?" Emma asked penetratingly.

"Nothing. I'll see you there," August said, and Henry heard his steps receeding.

"Alright," Emma said slowly, "I mean, yeah."

"If you do come, can I at least have one dance?" August's voice was hopeful.

"Yeah, sure," and Henry could hear the smile in her tone, even if it was unsure.

"I look forward to it, then," August sounded contented by that.

August liked her, and Emma might like him. Well, August had said that he was there for Emma… Who was August though, and why was he there? Did he really like Emma?

"What was that about?" Henry asked knowingly as Emma sat back down next to him on the bench.

Emma glowered at him, "Don't worry about it."

"That was August W. Booth, huh?" Henry looked after the man walking towards his motorcycle.

Emma nodded uncomfortably, "Yep, that was him."

Henry turned back to her, eyeing her as she watched August, "You should go with him. To the ball."

That snapped her back to reality. She narrowed her eyes at him, "That. Is none of your business, Kid."

"Right," Henry said, a smile on his face.

~: Mary Margret :~

Mary Margret was staring herself in the mirror as Ashley put the finishing touches on the gown. It was white, feathery, and absolutely beautiful. It was perfect. At least Ashley had said so over and over again.

But Mary Margret didn't know if she could go through with this. She wanted to go, of course, she wanted to go dancing with David… but all of this? This was… too much. She had to go in there, into that ballroom, and face everyone in town… and lose. Ruby's poll had said so- Mary Margret was going to lose by a long shot. Lose to the Mayor. Again. It was so much to deal with… she looked down, away from her reflection, which was so familiar, and yet… All of this conflict was giving her a headache.

"You guys, I'm not sure I want to do this-," Mary Margret said, twisting her fingers.

"Hey," Ruby said, pushing herself off of the wall, to step up next to Mary Margret and look at her in the mirror, and smiled as she shook Mary Margret's shoulders, "You're going to show up there, head held high." Ruby was already put together, thickly make-upped, her hair curled to perfection, which was odd, because Mary Margret had only ever really seen it straight, and she was wearing a red, slinky dress.

"And you're going to dance, and have fun, and David will be there-," Ashley put in with a grin and pins in her mouth. She had already done her hair, a beautifully ornate bun at the top of her head, but hadn't put on her dress yet.

"She doesn't have to go."

It was Emma, who was leering in a corner.

"Of course she does," Ruby said, turning to face Emma in surprise.

"Everyone has to," Ashley reminded her.

"See, I don't get that part," Emma said, her brow furrowed as she stepped forward, "Why?"

"I don't know- we just do," Ashley told her, as though it were obvious. Well, it was obvious. They had to go.

"I don't like it," Emma was staring at the floor as though it had answers, if only she could peel it away to find them underneath the floorboards.

"Well, we just have to grin and bear it, don't we?" Ruby sighed, stepping towards Emma.

"No, we don't," Emma muttered determinedly.

"What are you saying, Emma?" Ashley looked puzzled.

"I'm saying the fact that I'm already in a dress for this thing is freaking me out," Emma motioned to her own gown, and then stopped a heeled foot, "I hate this sort of thing."

"Well maybe you shouldn't go, Emma," Mary Margret suggested, though the words were barely out of her mouth before she realized how insane they were.

"I have to," Emma growled.

"But you just said-," Mary Margret tried.

"Yeah, I know what I just said, but I don't get it-," Emma snapped, touching a hand to her forehead.

"Emma-," Mary Margret tried again.

"I'll meet you there," Emma said, grabbing her jacket and keys off the counter as she made to stalk out.

"Emma!" Mary Margret shouted just before Emma slammed the door.

Ashley stood up, grabbing Mary Margret by the shoulders, and smiled supportively, "She'll be ok."

Mary Margret shook her head at the ground, "Yeah I guess…"

Ashley patted her shoulder supportively, and then exclaimed right in Mary Margret's ear, "Hey! Guess what I found to wear tonight?"

"What?" Mary Margret and Ruby chorused.

Ashley was rummaging through a bag that she'd brought along with her. Mary Margret had thought that it was only full of sewing supplies, but Ashley drew two things, and turned to face them. "These see through slippers- and they're not tacky- look!"

They were two beautiful see-threw heels, sparkling, looking almost like glass.

"Those are beautiful! Wow, Ash, where'd you get them?" Ruby wanted to know, moving to touch one of them.

"I just- found them," Ashley shrugged, beaming.

"Wow, Ash- hey, shouldn't you go get ready?" Ruby looked at the clock, startled.

Ashley nodded, holding her shoes close to her, "Yeah… Mary Margret, Ruby, you guys look amazing." She smiled, her voice kind.

"If it weren't for you I wouldn't be in this-," Mary Margret gestured at herself in this dress.

Ashley smiled, her joy not easily concealed, "Hey don't thank me. You're the Queen tonight, no matter what happens."

Mary Margret stopped, trying to find the words as her throat thickened, "You guys," she paused, looking for the right thing to say in her hands, "are the best-."

"Yeah, yeah, we get it," Ruby said teasingly, steering Ashley away, who barely managed to snag her bag before Ruby stalked her past it, "We'll see you there."

"Bye, Mary Margret!" Ashley waved, brightly, and Ruby smiled, before closing the door behind the pair of them.

"See you…" Her voice trailed off as she stared at herself in the mirror. This was so familiar. It was almost like déjà vu. "So weird," she muttered to herself, "Why do I feel like this would look better if I had longer hair?"

~: Belle :~

He was there. She recognized him in an instant, her heart almost stopping as she stopped fussing with herself in the mirror. He had come. She was so sure that he wouldn't come, that he would be too busy with whatever he was doing. He'd been half gone for so long, that when his presence gained strength, she spoke up automatically, her voice shaking, hoping, wishing that he would answer, "Will you dance with me tonight?"

She saw him appear behind her- she was looking at herself in the mirror, wearing her golden dress, and he- he was dressed in a tailored three piece suit, his hair tamed away from his face, as he stepped forward.

"Yes," his voice- she felt relief fill her as she inhaled slowly, shuddering.

"But she'll be there," Belle reminded him, half heartedly.

"Yes, that is true," he agreed, his voice thick, and lilting and so comforting.

She didn't need to ask where he had been. For one, he would not tell her, he could see it in the guilty way that he stared into her eyes through the mirror's reflection as he continued his way slowly towards her. And two, she wasn't stupid. "Whatever you've been planning, you're planning to start it tonight, aren't you?" she smiled wanly.

"Yes, I am." She liked the way he said yes, but she felt doubt seep into her bones with the words.

She had to ask, not the plan, because he wasn't going to tell her, but, "Is it- is it going to be- dangerous?"

"No, not for you," he assured her, stepping closer to her. That's not what she wanted to know. She wanted to know what was going to happen to Henry, to Emma, to Mary Margret and David and all of her friends. Were they going to be ok?

"For who then?" she asked him as he wrapped his arms around her waist. His touch- he hadn't been there for so long, she leaned against him.

"No one we like," he assured her, burying his face in her neck.

"How-?" she cut herself off before she could go any further.

"It's a matter of energy- she's woven so much of her own magic into this ball of hers, I can use it…" he said, looking at her through the mirror again, "To take us back. It's a little – well, a lot more complicated than that, but… so much should counter the curse."

"But the people, who don't remember?" Belle asked, watching her face furrow in concern.

"I've tried to organize it so that people will remember," he told her simply, "Things should be- similar enough… that it should jog their memories. If not, well… When they're back they'll remember soon enough."

It was a miracle that he was revealing anything to her, "You mean, we're going back?" She couldn't believe it.

"If this works out accordingly, yes," he smiled at her breathless face.

She had to wonder aloud, "I thought Emma was the one to-."

His face darkened, "She isn't moving fast enough."

"Isn't it prophecy, though? The Blue Fairy said-."

He interrupted her train of thought, "I never liked the fairies much."

She sighed, looking away from their reflection, staring at his hands around her waist, pulling her closer to him, "Rumpelstiltskin-."

"I have something for you," he told her, and she watched his hands retract.

"Something else?" she was surprised by it.

"Here," he smiled, at least, she heard the smile, as she looked up to the mirror.

"Will it cost me anything-?" her voice died in her throat, as she stared at him looping something around her neck, watched it sparkle. He clasped it, and then helped pull her hair free of it, as she reached to fiddle with the diamond she recognized so well, "Rumpelstiltskin-!" was all she could manage, peering closer at it. It was the same one, "How, I?"

He wasn't looking at her through the mirror anymore. He was looking at her over her shoulder, "Your mother's necklace. Your father pawned it to me a long time ago."

"And- you kept it?" she said, leaning so she could see his face, shocked.

He smiled teasingly, "I keep a lot of things, my dear, if you haven't noticed."

"I've noticed," she admitted, her voice tipped with sarcasm, and then she sobered, and kissed him. His hands were around her waist again, pulling her closer, and she broke away quickly with a gasp. He searched her gaze, and then bowed his head. She leaned back into his shoulder, "I missed you."

"I know," he said simply, and she felt his breath on her bare shoulder.

"No- I just… I just wish you could tell me," she looked away from him.

"All will be revealed soon enough, my dear." He was so serious tonight; there was no teasing in his features. She could tell he was concentrating on something, though she could sense he wished to be all there, all with her. She wished he would relax, let her in a little bit more.

"I know… I guess, I'm just impatient," she quirked her mouth at him, and he smiled.

"You always have been," he acknowledged.

She cupped his face to hers, and kissed him again. He drew her in, and she leaned her head farther to kiss him more deeply.

This time, he broke away, stepping away from her with a flourish.

"Now," he smiled, his eyes dancing again, all seriousness gone. For a moment she felt guilty- he'd heard her wish, "You must be on your way. We have to get there before the clock strikes twelve."

"Aren't you coming with me?" she wanted to know. She didn't think she could be separated from him again without- without fear. It had scared her, that he hadn't been there for almost three days, not even a real shadow of him. She had considered being careless on purpose, but- whatever he was doing it was important. Important to him, to the people of Storybrooke. She had had to let him do it. But now he was here.

"Take my hand," he offered her his, and she, with a coy smile, took it.

They disappeared without a trace from her small bedroom.

Storybrooke's Tale of Beauty and the Beast

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Teddy's Twin

Part 27 of 37

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