Continuing Tales

The Heart Won't Lie

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Eyes Like Dawn

Part 8 of 25

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First Truths

He almost slammed the door, but that notion left quicker than the wild wind gusting about the torrents of rain. "Belle." Gold whispered her name in surprise at he looked down upon the shivering woman.

Again a part of him screamed to slam the door shut, banishing her from his mind and forcing himself to act like the Mr. Gold of old, but that he knew was as likely as his knee suddenly healing right at that second. He only stood there a moment more letting the sight in front him sink in, to be certain it wasn't a figment of his mind, before reaching down to take her hand.

She grasped for him desperately her slick tear and rain wetted hands fumbling for his in relief. "Gold, Rum, I…" She sputtered before her words died in her throat as he pulled her up and into the safety of his house. She could find no words to express her relief; he was here, and he was real if nothing else she had seen over the past few hours was.

"What did you call me?" He hissed quickly in surprise at her words before slamming the door shut from the harsh elements that raged like a rabid wolf. Gripping her by the arm he searched her eyes rapidly as if some knowledge could be found there to explain her words. She hadn't called him that since…could it be? No, she couldn't possibly remember anything from that time.

"You're soaked to the bone. We need to get you warm or you'll freeze." Gold muttered as he ushered Anna inside his home, trying to banish the thought away; perhaps he was hearing things.

Her body was trembling and smooth skin cold under his touch, her face was pale and lips with a faint hint of blue that quivered as her teeth chattered. Gold suddenly regretted that he did not have his magic anymore; he could have warmed her instantly with the snap of his fingers.

Leading her through the home he guided her to the often empty living room, sitting her on the faded couch. With a little effort he knelt down to the quaint fireplace and fumbled for the matches to light it. Luckily the wood was dry and the flames roared to life with his first try casting the room in odd shadow.

In his head he still couldn't get past she had called him Rum. How long had he wished her to whisper his little given nickname she had bestowed upon him again in his dreams. How could it have been a slip of the tounge, had she remembered all this time and said nothing?

"What were you doing on my stoop?" He snapped at her, as the flames of orange and red began to grow and devour the dry wood at a wicked pace. Gold cringed inwardly at his harsh tone towards her. He didn't mean to sound so cross to her when in all actually he was furious with himself for always abandoning his usual nature for her. It took him no time flat for his heart to melt for Belle; he hated it and loved the feeling all at once.

The beauty locked her eyes to his, her blue orbs searching him like a person she only once vaguely remembered. "M-m-my father kicked me out. H-he didn't w-want an-ny thing to do with me after he f-found…I came back…" She paused, hissing in pain as the swilring in her head began anew. Screwing her eyes shut she tried to fight it away, but there was no halting it in her weakened state. Shaking her head fiercely Anna began to rise from the couch, staggering forward. "What was I thinking coming here…you…you said you didn't want me anymore. I should have stayed outside."

Didn't want her anymore? The all too familiar words stabbed his heart worse than any physical pain. He remembered not even looking at her as he so callously had spat those words. So he was right, she was remembering that time.

"Where will you go." He asked breathlessly as if reliving the moment he had heard she was without a place to stay.

Anna shook her head although it was spinning like a top. She tried to rise though her body was screaming for her to rest. "I don't know."

"Oh no you don't." Gold grabbed her arm firmly but not hard, gently pushing her back down to the couch. "It's midnight in the middle of a storm, I'm not going to let you sleep in the street out in the cold and rain." Even back in those times he would never have let her be without a home. If she had come back, if the queen hadn't lied, if he… "I'll see if I can find you something dry to wear and you can sleep in a guest room." Gold finished, trying to banish the foul memories of losing her away. Whatever had happened in the past didn't matter; she was here now.

Belle's head shot up suddenly, a worried frown etching her face that made her brow knit in confusion. She tucked her knees against her sopping shirt backing into part of the couch like a frightened cornered animal, her voice cracked. "What did I do wrong, why are you sending me to the dungeon?"

Gold cursed himself fiercely as he saw the fear and panic flash in her blue eyes. That had been his devious little name for the dungeon; hadn't it? The 'guest room' for when some foul mood took grip of him that caused him to be displeased and take his anger out on her by throwing her into the old dungeon he had locked her up in when she'd first arrived. He found himself coming to regret that along with many others unpleasant memories that seemed to be rearing their ugly heads that night.

"No I'm not…there's not a dungeon here…" He fumbled with the words still trying to wrap his head around how she knew all these things once more. She hadn't seemed none the wiser earlier, or for any other time he could remember, now it was if she was reliving her time as his caretaker again.

She stared at him disbelieving almost, seeming ready to bolt away at an instant by any sudden move. She was scared and confused, he had to handle the situation gently.

"If you don't want to go up to a room, there's plenty of space down here by the fire place. You used to like to read by the fireplace on winter nights." That might help a bit, Gold thought, trying to make her remember the quiet happy times she had shared in his estate to soothe her. She had always loved to read after the chores were done; her nose always tucked away into a leather bound tome. "I'll go get a blanket, and see if I can find you some clothes." He suggested gently. "I won't be away long."

Anna swallowed hard moving a tendril of her wet brown hair out of her vision; a timid nod of the head was her only reply.

Nodding once he grunted as he rose and limped off to find a few things she would need if she would be staying the night. He turned back briefly after he had exited the room, watching the fire bounce off her chestnut curls and cast its glow to the side of her face; he could barely believe she was there, and had come to find him. But why?

He was back only a few minutes later, his arms laden with things that made his knee scream in pain every time he took a staggering step. Belle was off the couch and sitting by the crackling hearth for more warmth, her eyes glittering and entranced by the dancing flames against the logs.

"Here we are." He let a sigh pass his lips as he dumped in contents in his arms on the couch.

Her head swiveled to him, watching him silently and making him feel a nervousness bubble up inside of him that he hadn't felt since the old days of him and her. A hand rubbed the back of his neck as he waved his other hand over to the bundle of items stacked on the couch. "Well, there's a towel and some clothes. I'll give you a bit of privacy to change." His words felt more like they ran off awkwardly as his lips twitched slightly then he departed with all possible haste.

He barely knew what to do with himself in normal circumstances when it came to her. Wanting to have anything to calm his nerves he wandered into the kitchen getting out the tea set he had so often used back in his castle. He slowly ran his fingers over the smooth ivory porcelain, accented with blue flowers, and a thrill raced down his spine. It was as if he was taking a trip down memory lane only this time it could have a different ending if he had the courage to let it. As he began filling the kettle with water, he wondered just how much Belle remembered.

"Are you decent?" He asked mildly, the tray he held in his hands quivering slightly along with him.

He dared a peek into the room to find that she was dressed in one of his blue nightshirts that was too big for her body and hung low down to her thighs, her damp hair tumbling about her shoulder. The sight made his throat catch, and his heart pound as he forced himself not to stare; even in her trancelike state she was still so beautiful.

Walking forward slowly he knelt down beside her placing the silver tray of kettle and cups in-between them almost like a buffer of the past. "Something to warm you on the inside." He revealed gently while pouring the hot tea into the chipped cup. He had dared to use it, dared to see if she remembered that as well and the memory that came attached to it.

Gold watched her in eager fascination as she took the cup gingerly in her shaking hands. Perhaps she would remember and how much it meant to him, and the memory behind the small trinket. His heart fell as she seemed to pay no notice to the special trinket and gulped the boiling brew down nearly in one swig.

She didn't remember that, she only remembered his cruelty towards her. He looked away from her, a foolishness growing in him that made him furious. Who was he kidding to think that she could truly care for one such as he.

"You never let me use this cup, Rum." Belle said suddenly, her chattering voice breaking the silence of his morose.

Her fingers circled the gilded rim till she came to the crack she had made in it what seemed like a lifetime ago. She smiled slightly and held it close like a precious treasure once lost. "Chipped cup, empty…" Her words stopped there as she turned to him. There was a knowing there shimmering in her blue eyes, that made him want to let everything fall away but him and her. "Thank you for your kindness." She finished quietly.

Wordlessly his took the cup from her, placing it back down on the silver tray trying not to meet his eyes with hers fearful what might happened if he stared into them long enough. "Well, I'll just go back up to my room, and you can sleep here."

"Please don't leave me." Anna blurted wrapping her arms around his body, and taking the usual hard hearted Gold by surprise. "I've just found you again, and I was afraid you'd send me away, but you haven't and..." Her words dribble off as she pressed her warm cheek to his chest. "Please don't go."

Gold could have pushed her away, as her arms looped about his form, but they were stronger than any chains or magic that could have held him. His mouth felt dry as his heart raced, the only thing between them one of his flimsy cotton nightshirts that she wore on her still drying body.

She was calling out to him, but did he dare? Yes. Slowly, almost warily he put his arm around her shoulder pulling her closer. Even though her hair was wet he rested his chin down atop her head taking in a huge wavering breath that felt like it rattled through his body. He was certain she could hear his heart beating louder than any noise the thunder could have conjured.

"I won't leave you." He whispered in solemn reply making himself comfortable as she hugged closer to him. "I promise."

He watched the flames hungrily lick the logs as he held her- his Belle, protecting her from the swirling thoughts in her head like some sort of guardian. He was her guardian, a sentry; he was hers as much as she was his, maybe more so.

Their breathing slowed almost in tandem as they lay down upon the wide comfortable rug before the softly dancing flames and slowly drifted off to sleep to the sound of the pouring rain and the popping of logs.

The Heart Won't Lie

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Eyes Like Dawn

Part 8 of 25

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