Continuing Tales

Civilised Existence

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Fyrie

Part 6 of 17

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Civilised Existence

Belle closed her bedroom door, and only then did she release a breath she felt like she had been holding for the whole evening.

She felt as if she had run a thousand miles, utterly exhausted by the whirling emotions and the truth that had finally been revealed. He trusted her enough to tell her his tale, and what a tale. No wonder, no wonder at all, that he believed she would hate and fear him, just as everyone had before.

Her love for him was tried and condemned against every other experience he had known.

That was why he told her to go. That was why he looked so devastated - even though he tried not to - when she did actually walk away. All of his beliefs about people caring, staying, loving him, were being confirmed.

She wondered if, unconsciously, that was what was binding her here: his desire to simply have someone stay.

At least, she mused, he didn't push her away when she sat with him. Once he got past the rigid panic, he almost seemed to enjoy her being there. His fingertips had even moved, albeit haltingly, in a circle on her upper arm, while she pretended to doze against his chest.

She crossed the room to sit down on the edge of her bed.

It was one thing to kiss him to try and break the curse, to set him free, but this was something completely new and different. Before, he had spoken with her and they had almost been something almost like friends, but now, she knew that he hadn't really trusted her. Things were changing. A simple story was the cause.

He was changing, and she knew she was too.

She curled up on the bed, lost in thought. The story, his story, was filling her head, and she wondered about the dark magical creature that twisted him, a scared father desperate to save his child, into the lonely creature he was now.

Tomorrow, she decided. Tomorrow, she would go to the library and start to learn about just how cruel magic could be.

It was easier said than done, unfortunately.

The library had hundreds of books, maybe thousands, and even though she had made some headway in putting them into some kind of order, she knew it would take much, much longer to find ones that might be relevant to her.

She was a patient woman. Well, sometimes, she could be a patient woman, if she really concentrated on it and tried to resist the urge to read the much more interesting books on the top shelves, which suggested a thousand and one ways men and women really didn't actually need to kiss.

She wondered just how much Rumpelstiltksin would quiver in panic if she gave into the peculiar impulse she'd been fighting the night before to nuzzle his neck.


She had to be practical and find out all about the magic first, because that would be useful in actually helping him. And if she didn't find anything useful, then and only then would she return her attention to those very educational books. Some of them had etchings.

No. No. That had to wait.

Magic. She had to study magic and understand the hold it had on him.

This kind of study, she kept to the library.

It wasn't that she was being secretive about it, but she knew he would probably take it as a sign she was looking for yet another way out of the castle, and that would lead to his face tripping him for days. The silly man didn't realise she had no intentions of leaving, not until she could take him with her, whole and happy.

She had little knowledge or experience of magic, personally.

Her town was too small to have any sorcerers based there, especially when true magicians could charge an arm and a leg for the most basic of defensive spells. She always wondered how they found magic, or how magic found them.

There were stories, of course.

The oldest tales were about children with a gift for knowing, seeing and being bound with magic from the earliest of ages, but those people were few and far between. Like Rumpelstiltskin, many magicians had found or claimed the power as they grew older, bending it to their will and using it to do what they wanted.

From what she could understand, the magic was as much a part of their world as the air and the sun, accessible, if you knew how to reach it, but it took a strong will and determination to control it and make it do what you wanted.

Desperation, she supposed, was a kind of determination.

She kept notes, writing everything neatly into a pretty little book, which she kept in her room. They had silently agreed that her room was sacrosanct, somewhere that he would not go, and that was where she kept everything that he didn't need to see quite yet: Her diary, a couple of the more interesting books from the library, one of his shirts that was much more comfortable to sleep in than her oversized nightdress.

On the whole, it was better that he wasn't allowed into her room.

She wasn't going to risk his wrath by trying to undo his curse again, if it even was a curse, but she wasn't going to give up her investigation until she understood whether he was using the magic. Or whether the magic was using him.

And she certainly wasn't going to let him find out that when she said that his dark red shirt was ruined in the laundry, it actually meant it was tucked under her pillow.

Magic-study or stolen clothing.

She wasn't quite sure which was more illicit.

Both felt quietly rebellious.

Sometimes, both at the same time.

On those occasions, she made sure that the door was well and truly locked.

Civilised Existence

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Fyrie

Part 6 of 17

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