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Storybrooke\'s Tale of Beauty and the Beast, Part 29
Continuing Tales

Storybrooke's Tale of Beauty and the Beast

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Teddy's Twin

Part 29 of 37

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Storybrooke's Tale of Beauty and the Beast

~: Mary Margret :~

People swarmed her as she descended the staircase. Ruby, wolf-whistling and managing to grin at the same time; Archie, smiling in approval next to her; Ashley beaming and absolutely bubbly; Belle cheering with the rest; Henry- Henry?

"What are you doing here?" she asked, startled as he rushed towards her.

"I wanted to see your coronation," he grinned broadly, wrapping his arms around her middle.

"Thank you-," she managed, before Ruby almost toppled her with her leap, and then there was Ashley, and people she didn't recognize, all in a hazy blur of congratulations and praise. Mary Margret could only smile and nod as though she understood any of it, but her own joy was enough to smother all sense of annoyance. She was only happy.

"Mary Margret!" a voice she knew as someone pushed their way closer. It was David, he was there, smilingly, glowingly handsome. He pulled her into his arms, and her joy, her confidence could never have been fuller ever than it was at that moment, when he kissed her right then and there, in front of the whole world to-

It broke the lock on her mind.

She felt her mind suddenly burst free.

Free from bondage, free from darkness, free from the curse. Free and all the memories began to flood, flowing through her mind. She gasped, breaking away from James as he opened his eyes in a flash-

~: Snow White :~

They locked on one another's gaze as she remembered, and watched him remember- remembered the troll bridge, and the forgetting potion she had so naively taken, the seven dwarves, how he'd awoken her with a kiss, the Evil Queen's threat, the birth of their darling daughter Emma-

Emma-

Emma- she knew Emma. Her Emma.

Emma Swan. Her Emma. They were one in the same.

She spun away from James, searching- and found her. Found Emma's face in the crowd. Emma – her Emma, alive, their little savior who had come to rescue them at last-

Their girl was all grown up.

She shoved her way through the crowd to get to her. She had to get to her. Her own daughter, "Emma!" she cried as she held her in her arms, realizing for the first time that they had been friends for so long, and now she knew, now she understood why they'd bonded so quickly. She pulled away from Emma, tears in her eyes to look at a very baffled, beautiful face, "Oh my darling, Emma- the last time I saw you, you were just a baby! And here you are, grown up and saving us from the Evil Queen's curse! I knew you could do it!"

Emma's face was looking more and more confused with every syllable Snow White spoke, "What-?"

"Snow-!" James was next to her.

"Charming- this is our daughter- can you believe it?" Snow White asked proudly, turning to her husband. "She's strong, just like you-."

"You remember?" it was Isabelle, asking in awe, stepping forward to touch Snow White on the arm.

"It worked!" Henry exclaimed in excitement, shouting his way into the middle of the throng, "Rumpelstiltskin's plan worked!"

"Rumpelstiltskin's plan?" Snow White asked, suddenly cautious, her eyes flicking about the room to try and find his imp face in the crowds.

"Where is that monster?" James commanded aggressively, reaching for a sword that wasn't there. It was an automatic reflex of his. She remembered that now.

"No, no," Henry said, stopping Isabelle from speaking, "He's kind of a good guy now."

"What is going on?" Emma said, stepping back from them, her face uncertain, doubtful.

"We remember now, Emma," Snow White smiled, and spread her arms wide.

"She doesn't know yet," August had appeared behind Emma, stopping her retreat.

"No seriously, this is freaking me out," Red- it was Red!

"Red!" Snow White cried, turning to hug her, but Red backed away.

"No- it's Ruby-."

Snow White didn't understand. Did they still not remember?

"I think we have to talk," August interjected. "In private?" he suggested.

"No, what is going on here!" Emma ordered as James took Snow White by the arm, leading her away.

"We'll get back to you," August promised, before bowing, "Your Majesties, this way?"

~: Rumpelstiltskin :~

Everything was going according to plan- that was, if Charming and his little princess finally remembered- which, by the spike in the curse, they did. The little missy had finally had enough confidence for it to work. True love's kiss, yada yada yada. He giggled to himself as he walked up a hallway, away from the party towards her Majesty. It was time for her reign to end. He pulled from his pocket the chipped tea cup. He had admittedly stolen it from Belle's room. However, if it was going to go back with them he would need to store it- along with everything else he had stored- in his pocket dimensions. That way it would traverse with him safely through the dimensions.

He made to do so, he planned on putting it right next to the chipped mug, when a voice interrupted him.

"Mr. Gold?" Rumpelstiltskin spun on his heel to find one traitorous Sydney Glass staring at him from down the hallway. "I was wondering if I could have a word?" Mirror Mirror on the wall, who's the most annoying of them all? He was too chipper to be truly cross, but he had a schedule to keep. Midnight was coming closer, and he needed that hour for his work.

"Sorry," he said without even being the teensiest bit sorry, "a little busy right now."

Sydney Glass was walking towards him, "I need to talk about you influencing the outcome of the vote tonight." The man was stupid enough to be pulling out a pen and notebook.

"Influence? I cast my vote like the lot of them. Nothing more, nothing less." Which wasn't strictly true. He had cast his vote, but he had done a little more to encourage some of the scarier folks in town to participate in little Snow's advantage. It hadn't been as much as he had been planning on however. A fair few of them had been planning on it all for the sake of the princess's cause, to take down her Majesty in a fair fight.

"Blackmailing half of Storybrooke to get them to vote for Miss Blanchard?"

He wanted his full attention? Well, this man now had it. "I had nothing to do with blackmail. I merely encouraged others to do the right thing. No blackmail- no-."

He felt a stab of pain in his neck, a pincer-like sensation that went straight into him.

He whacked the person away from behind him, cane slamming into solid, reeling around as he did so. With a snarl he pulled out whatever had been in his neck as Dr. Whale skidded several feet away on the floor. He gazed at what was in his hand as his vision began to blur. A syringe.

He turned back to the wretched little mirror, ready to break him into a thousand pieces, no matter how much bad luck it cost him, when he stumbled, a growl ripping from his throat. Everything was dimming around him, moving in jarring circles as his back hit a wall.

The tea cup slipped from his slacking grasp.

The cup shattered across the stone floor, pieces cascading everywhere, leaving him to gape in open horror at his life's second treasure lost in a matter of seconds-

He meant to kneel to get it, to fix it with magic but he collapsed, falling face first onto the ground, his mind fogging over. The chipped tea cup- no, not the chipped cup, not her chipped cup.

"What did you give him?" It was the traitorous mirror.

"A sedative- a powerful one at that," Dr. Whale wheezed, still standing away from him, "What do you think is going to happen now?"

"I think the Mayor will be pleased with what you have done, Dr. Whale. I think she will be very pleased."

He fell into unconsciousness.

~: James :~

He stood next to her. He would never leave her side again.

Snow was his water, his air. How had he been so blinded by the curse?

Henry and August had taken turns explaining what had happened, how they believed, August especially, that Rumpelstiltskin had found Henry in particular to be placed in Regina's care in Storybrooke to draw Emma there later, how Henry had brought Emma to Storybrooke to break the curse, how then Mary Margret, Snow White in disguise, had read him, James, awake, and how everything else had tumbled out into their laps, with Rumpelstiltskin regaining his magic, with Isabelle- Belle was her real name- helping him, and how now he was attempting to break the curse.

"So you see, everyone else is still under the spell," Henry said enthusiastically explaining the situation. "They can't remember- you know, and so we have to save them still. Well, Emma has to save them, and not Rumpelstiltskin."

"But she doesn't believe," Snow was saying, her dismayed concern troubling him. He wrapped an arm tighter around her waist. She leaned into him for support.

"We have to convince her," Henry seemed just as troubled.

"How?" James wanted to know.

"She won't like being forced into it," August warned, sounding by far the most hesitant. He had a hand covering his mouth as he pondered the predicament. "We have to let her know gradually."

"How gradually? I don't know if I can wait that long," Snow sounded desperate. After so many years he could not imagine denying her anything.

"We'll fix it soon, Snow," he vowed.

"You're saying that I have to go back out there and pretend that my baby is still just- just some girl I met and invited into my house?" Snow pointed down the corridor, towards the entrance to the ballroom, her voice shaking. She sounded near tears.

"I promise, your Majesty, that we can resolve this," August said soothingly, "These things just take time."

"Knowing my mom she'll need proof," Henry pointed out, pausing in his pacing.

Something clicked inside of James' head. Emma was his daughter. Henry was Emma's son. Did that mean-? "Are you-?" everyone stopped their thinking to stare at him, but he only had eyes for Henry, for little Henry, who was looking up at him with dark intelligent eyes. James had always wanted a son. "-my- I mean, our grandson?"

Henry's eyes brightened. "Yeah, I am."

"Henry," he grinned, letting go of Snow and stepped up to the boy, "you're my grandson, and I never knew."

"Well, you were in a coma for a really long time. And then it was the curse, so-."

James knelt down next to him, "I'm so proud of you! Look at everything you've accomplished and you're only ten-"

His face was a light- smiling. He saw himself there, saw Snow and Emma too. The boy was a prince in disguise, and a bright and quick one at that. How had he not seen it as well? There had been so many clues, so many signs, Henry staring him right in the face.

He grabbed the boy, hugging him. "We would never have been here without you."

The kid shrugged even as he hugged him back, "Sure you would have," he promised as James pulled away to get a look at his face, "It would have just taken forever," the boy smiled in jest.

~: Belle :~

She had to find Rumpelstiltskin, to tell him that the plan was working. His plan was working! Already their Majesties had remembered, and were talking with Henry and the Stranger August W. Booth about it. They were free of the curse. Now how were they going to get everyone else free?

"Rumpelstiltskin?" she spoke into the night, looking up at the ceiling as she leaned against the wall, "I wish that you were here."

She had wandered back to where he'd left her in the dark hallway, peering around for him as she waited, bouncing on her toes with excitement. Tonight was the best of nights, where all her wishes, all her dreams were coming true-

"My my, fancy meeting you here, dearie."

Belle twisted on the spot, to see the Evil Queen looming out of the darkness, her heels clicking on the stone floors. The breath caught in her throat as her stomach lurched. Regina- the Queen of her nightmares- but she couldn't let her know that. She straightened, holding her head high, eyes keen on her every movement.

"It looks like that treacherous little gremlin went back on one of his precious deals."

The Queen had found out. "I don't know what you're talking about," she said without a tremor in her voice. She would be brave.

The Queen laughed, a shrill cackling sound, "Oh, you don't, do you? Well," she tilted her head at Belle, her words simpering, "He knew the agreement. Did you? That if he stayed away from you that I would be forced to not harm a hair on your head?" Her voice lashed out, "Now he's broken that deal."

Belle tried not to let the Queen see her fear, "You don't know that."

"Oh don't I?" the Queen smiled to one side, lacing her well manicured fingers together, "The spikes in the currents of the curse? You think I don't recognize that? I should have realized sooner, but no matter. It means that he has his magic back, dearie. And how else could he have done that without you?" Belle felt herself close her eyes. She had hoped that Rumpelstiltskin's plan would have been faster, but it didn't matter. There was nothing the Queen could do now. Good was going to win. Belle kept her determined face. The curse was going to be broken. Rumpelstiltskin was making sure of it. There was nothing to fear.

"Though it makes sense, now, really," the Queen added lazily.

That startled Belle into speaking, her eyes opening with curiosity, "What does?"

"Well," Regina said, tilting her head at the ceiling, "if he kissed you out of "true" love he wouldn't have his magic back."

Belle felt her brows furrow, "What do you mean?"

"Do I have to explain everything to you?" Regina asked viciously, and Belle bit her tongue to keep from snapping at her. Belle hated being talked down to, and the Queen knew it from experience. She went on with a smirk, "If he truly loved you, his magic would be gone. Forever. He wouldn't just happen to have it back.

"You remember when you attempted to lift his curse before I'm sure? He wanted his beloved power over you. Because you see, if loved you truly, he would be nothing again. He would be back to his regular, normal state; a cowardly little man, hiding in a shack with nothing but his spinning to comfort him," she sneered.

"But he's-." she had to stop short. The Queen was right. He had magic still. What- she looked up into Regina's face. What did that mean? She staggered backwards, right into the wall. Rumpelstiltskin had his magic still. He had it still.

A smile slithered across the Queen's evil face, "Now, you see? That's why he's made this deal," she strutted around Belle, so that Belle had to turn her head to keep the snake in sight, "You're the only one who is capable of really breaking his curse, his real curse, the curse of the Dark One. That's why he's having me dispose of you."

Dispose of- "What?"

"How can I make this simpler?" she demanded, patting Belle on the head like a child, "He wants you gone. He knew that breaking the first seal over him on this world's curse would be enough from you and that was all. He doesn't want you to break the power that his personal curse holds over him. He likes the power magic gives him. He doesn't want to go back to that pathetic small sniveling man that he was. So he ensured that I would come after you. By making and breaking this deal."

Her world was reeling.

What she was saying was making sense-.

No- no she couldn't let herself believe her. The Queen lied. She lied through her teeth, manipulating and demonic- and yet, and yet it made sense. It all made sense.

Why did it make sense?

Despair clawed at her soul, ripping apart the fragile ball of glowing joy that had existed when he had told her they were leaving- because he had wanted to make all her dreams come true. Rumpelstiltskin? she called hesitantly, silently in her mind. He hadn't been watching her all that often recently. He wasn't now, not even a ghost of him. But she needed him. She needed him to deny the Evil Queen. But- but-

Did he not truly love her? Even still?

No- no, she couldn't believe that he didn't love her. Rumpelstiltskin! she cried out, I wish that you would come, now, please.

"I found this in another hallway." The Queen held up a broken handle- a broken handle Belle recognized, knew all too well.

Belle gasped, snatching it from her hands. The chipped tea cup- the chipped cup he had treasured for so long- what- it didn't, it didn't make sense. She couldn't breathe- and yet her body was so numb. Please, Rumpelstiltskin- please! Don't let this be true!

"This world was chosen because it doesn't have happy endings," the Queen narrowed her eyes as she stared Belle straight in the eyes. "And that's the same for you."

"No, no, no," Belle gasped, her eyes filling with tears. Rumpelstiltskin please, if you can hear me, please come! I wish that you would come! She covered her face with her hands, the broken handle pressing into her face, leaning against the wall for support. Her knees were shaking, threatening to crumble underneath her.

Please come

He wasn't coming. He wasn't coming to rescue her- to tell her that the Queen was wrong, that Belle was wrong for even believing it for a second, because, she was believing it. He wasn't coming, and she was believing. The glowing orb of joy dissipated entirely, leaving only shrieking despair. She was believing the Queen- it was logical- he wasn't coming.

Regina flicked something off of her dress, smoothing down the material before she looked up at Belle again, who was still trying to breathe. Trying to think. Trying desperately to keep her heart from shattering. It- it had to be a lie- but, he, the cup… he's smashed it? He wasn't coming, he wasn't coming.

The Queen's voice jarred her back outside herself, "Now, I need your assistance."

The tears that had been threatening to spill over were gone.

Belle only hated one person. Only one. And if it damned her to an eternity of hellfire, then she would hate her anyways. She looked up at the Queen with pure loathing in her voice, "You think that after this- after everything, that I would ever help you?"

Regina smiled falsely, "Don't shoot the messenger, dearie," she crooned before her voice turned into a cackle.

"I still have decades of memories, your majesty," she spat the last words, "I remember what you did to me down in that dungeon. You're out of your mind if you think that I would do anything, anything to help you!" she made to turn away, to leave, to find Rumpelstiltskin and demand an answer, to kiss him until he truly loved her, if that's what it took.

A hand slipped around her shoulders, forcing her to circle back around, "Not so fast," the Queen whispered in her ear, "Because you see I have a little leverage that you might want to know about."

"Belle?" came a quavering voice out of the darkness before her.

"Papa!" Belle rushed forwards, hands searching until she found him, with manacles on his wrists. She clasped his hands as her eyes adjusted. "Oh your hands are like ice, we have to get you out of here," she whispered, looking back at the Evil Queen.

He bent his head towards her, "Belle, I want you to leave this place."

She shook her head, and reached to his forehead where there was old blood caked and dried, "Who's done this to you?" she asked, outraged.

"No time to explain- you must go, now-," he tried to shove her away.

"I won't leave you!" she told him fervently.

"And that's what I was hoping," Regina stepped forward, into view, "You're going to help me find what I'm looking for," her heels clicked as she neared them, "or I'm going to have your father killed." And Belle heard an ominous chuckle she knew all too well- the Black Knight. She quenched her gasp.

Belle whirled on her, eyes narrowed to see her through the blackness, "You promise that he will be safe if I agree?"

"If you promise to help me in my little venture," the Evil Queen smiled, raising an eyebrow optimistically.

Belle took a shuddering breathe, "You have my word."

"Done."

~: Nicholas :~

Ava had just told him it'd be a walk- just a little walk.

He hadn't expected that they would be walking half way across town. Dad was gone for the night, and Ava had said she just wanted to stretch her legs.

Everyone was at that ball, and so everyone was gone.

They ran around the streets, eating small powdered doughnuts they'd gotten from the pantry and drinking soda they'd stolen from the fridge in the garage. Having a dad was the best, except that they had bedtimes now. So while Dad was away, they decided to break away from it for a bit, just him and Ava, like old time.

They were skipping around a neighborhood, cramming their face and letting the crumbs fall all over the middle of the street when a car drove up. It was a big car, a black SUV. It was odd- because only adults drove cars, and all the adults were at that fancy dance that their father had had to rent a black suit for. Ava motioned for him to get behind a couple of trashcans, and Nicholas followed immediately. They'd done this a million times, sneaking. They were really good at it. Both of them peeked their heads around the corner, and saw a woman get out of the car. She was wearing a pretty dress, but Nicholas turned up his nose at her.

It was that mean lady that had wanted them to leave. The Mayor lady.

She opened the door behind hers, and then pulled out someone in a gold dress by their hair. It was long pretty brown hair- Nicholas knew who that was- The Mayor flung the girl to the ground. "That's Isabelle!" whispered Nicholas loudly.

"Shh!" Ava hushed him.

"Now go find it," the Mayor pointed to a big house.

"I told you, I don't know where it is!" Isabelle yelled, standing shakily.

"Get him out of the car," the Mayor lady waved for someone else. A scary man dressed in black heaved another, larger man out of the SUV. The man in black shoved the large, frightened man against the side of the car, pointing a gun at his head. Ava gasped in horror. Nicholas' eyes widened. It was just like a movie-

"No, Belle I won't let you do this!" the large man was yelling. "You don't have to do what she says!"

"You shut up," the Mayor spat, before rounding on Isabelle, "You will tell me where it is, or I'll have him shot."

The large man was protesting still, "Belle I'm old, I've lived my life-."

Isabelle cut him off, "He never told me where he hid it!"

"Then go in there and find it!" the Mayor grabbed her by the arm and flung her onto the front lawn of the big mansion house. Wasn't that where the sinister pawnshop guy lived?

Isabelle stood, now standing on the grass. Her face was determined, hard in the over head lamp light. "No," she said defiantly.

"Shoot him," the Mayor ordered.

The man in black shoved the large man down on the ground and pointed the gun again.

Isabelle's face filled with fear, stepping forward, "I don't know where-."

There was a blast that made Nicholas's ears ring in his head. The bellow of pain was the first thing he heard. Isabelle cried out. Nicholas watched as blood splurted all over the man's arm, where he'd been shot. Ava covered Nicholas's mouth, realizing that he'd been about to scream too.

"Papa!" Isabelle was yelling. "Papa!" She was trying to get to him, but the Mayor lady shoved her back onto the grass.

"You get in there, and you find it, or you'll never see your father again!"

Isabelle backed away slowly, before turning, hiking up her dress and running for the door of the sinister guy's house.

Ava was shaking, and Nicholas was still screaming into her hand. He stopped screaming, and pulled her hand away from his face. They ducked back behind the garbage cans.

"She's holding Isabelle's father hostage!" Ava whispered urgently.

"We have to do something!" Nicholas told her. "We've got to save Isabelle's dad like she saved ours!"

"I know!" Ava agreed, "But how?" Nicholas shook his head. He didn't know the answer. Ava was always the one who came up with the answers. She was the best big sister ever. She would know what to do. He just had to give her time to think. And then Ava's gaze fell on something behind him. She reached for it, and pulled into view a big rusty shovel. "I've got a plan!" she whispered, grabbing the handle, her eyes bright with her idea.

Nicholas liked the plan already.

Storybrooke's Tale of Beauty and the Beast

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Teddy's Twin

Part 29 of 37

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