Continuing Tales

Storybrooke's Tale of Beauty and the Beast

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Teddy's Twin

Part 26 of 37

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Storybrooke's Tale of Beauty and the Beast

~: Rumpelstiltskin :~

He was waiting for her on the second story. Impatient. Livid.

The only reason he hadn't gone after that woodcutter was because Belle would have hated him for it. And that. Was the only reason.

He'd been distracted. Somebody irrelevant had been in the pawnshop looking for trinkets. He'd been kind enough to answer questions. He saw what happened too late. He had disappeared in the back room, where his office was, and had appeared in an alley across the street. Emma was already throwing the pathetic man onto the ground when he'd arrived. Belle had recognized him there immediately, had wished for him to- to stop before he did something irrational. He hadn't cared about rationality at that particular moment, had wanted to let this man know that he deserved to have his innards mangled and strewn about the street for his precious children to see. But then Belle-

Belle had stood up for the woodcutter. The idiot woodcutter who should have thought about the fact that Belle was tiny, incapable of harming anyone with violence, should have at least thought about the Sheriff's presence- she had only been five feet away, before hitting an innocent girl, who then turned around and had stood up for him, for his freedom and his children.

He'd watched from the sidelines, and she watched him watch, understanding after clearing his head that he couldn't step in without angering her Majesty. He had been a coward not to step in. He'd already broken the deal, the first deal he'd broken, so why not just let the world know? Why not just let her Majesty in on the secret and have her try and fight him? She would lose. She'd always been the weaker one of the both of them.

But now there was Belle, and all the strings that attached to her happiness, all the pieces that connected to her- Moe, Henry, Emma, Mary Margret, David, Archie, Ruby, Ashley, the old librarian, and everyone else that seemed to be flocking to her. He had to protect them all now, to ensure her happiness. It was maddening to think about. He couldn't watch over all these sheep, he'd only wanted one. Served him right for being a wolf willing to protect that sheep from other predators.

And things had been arranged. Plans had been set into place. He was going to execute them accordingly, and her Majesty couldn't know about him, or his magical ability, before this happened.

Rumpelstiltskin paused- felt Belle wish that it was 6:30 already, and smiled slightly as the thread attached to him. Her threads were thick, a rope now, a connection that let him know where she was, even when he wasn't paying too close of attention to her.

He wanted it to be 6:30 already as well. It was 6:24, and he had something to give her. He'd packaged it for effect. He always had liked effect. It was his element.

"Isabelle," the sound of her name from the foot of the stairs caught his attention, "you can go, if you want- you've done a lot of work today." It was the old librarian. May the gods sing his name through their halls, he was letting her off early.

"Thank you!" Rumpelstiltskin could hear in her voice that she was delighted. He smiled at that, "I left something upstairs."

"Alright, I'll see you tomorrow!" he heard the first of a few footsteps on the stairs, "And Isabelle?" the footsteps paused, "You've been such a tremendous help around here. You're the best worker I think I've ever had."

"You don't have to say that-."

"Of course I don't. I'm 79, I can say what I like," the old man was teasing her. She was fun to tease. He knew that more than anyone, "You have a good night."

"You too!" he heard the smile in her voice.

The staircase revealed her head first, and he had to stop himself as his heart clenched. The bruise covered almost an entire side of her face. He could see where her lip had been split, how the man's fist had scathed along her cheekbone and made contact with her nose. He struggled to breath evenly, to keep his composure. He hadn't been able to see the damage from a distance, hadn't had a good angle on it since it happened while he had been watching her.

"You're here," her voice was euphoric, catching his attention.

"You sound surprised," he forced a smile for her, trying to play the part for her, "Let me remind you, my dear, I can be wherever I want to be." He snapped his fingers and he was behind her in an instant, "Whenever I want to be there."

She turned to smile at him, and her bruised face up close made him lock down. His teeth gritted together, jaw rigid as he closed his eyes as though that would make it better, as though that had ever made anything better. He couldn't heal her. He had never had powers to heal and he'd never hated it more than he did at this moment.

"I'm sorry." Her voice cut across his thoughts, and she was touching his face, stroking his hair away from his forehead.

"Why are you sorry?" he demanded through a locked jaw, his eyes still shut.

"That you're angry," her voice was mournful. She had no reason to mourn. Hers was the face that had been damaged. Shouldn't she at least be angry?

"What did you expect?" he wanted to know. What else could he possibly be? Besides guilty, for not stepping in, besides ashamed for being unable to act.

Her hand caressed his face, "I'm glad you let it go."

His eyes flashed open to find hers, "Who says I have?" His brows furrowed in anger. He hadn't let it go. The man should be dead, should be hung in the streets for hitting her.

She raised her eyebrows at him, "You haven't dragged him off to the woods to beat him up, have you?" She was trying to amuse him. He let himself go along with it.

"Not yet," he admitted wickedly. It actually wasn't that bad of an idea.

"Rumpelstiltskin!" she retracted her hand, and attempted to look furious, but it ended up looking more wry then angry.

He took her into his arms, "Yes, my dearest, loveliest Belle?"

"You're incorrigible," she declared, trying very hard to sound irate.

He tilted his head at her, amused, "You've become very fond of name calling as of late."

"I could say the same thing," she tilted her head also, leaning forward, "And thank you."

"What for?" he wanted to know, feeling her breath on his skin.

"You didn't- you let me handle it by myself," she said, looking away.

"It was your wish," he reminded her, his aggression returning.

She sensed the spike, and bent her head, her nose against his chest, "Yes- and you…"

"We can't risk her finding out. Not yet, at least," he explained, his voice sober, his mind going over his plan. Not until the opportune moment.

Belle was intrigued, of course, "Not yet? Is that what you've been "setting in motion"?" she asked, eyes eager. But she saw, she knew, that he wasn't going to tell her. He couldn't tell her. The smile fell from her eyes, even though she put on a good face. "So you're really not going to tell me what's behind that door?"

"No," he said simply.

She half smiled at that, "Because it would be cheating?"

"Something along those lines," he agreed, his words full of dismay at not telling her. Behind the door was something he could tell her. But… how could he even now not let her in? On this? She wouldn't -

She had moved on though, "I never would have thought of it like that. He's smart," she said, looking over at the door, where just yesterday she and Henry had attempted to break it down.

He tried to cheer her up, "So are you, my dear." He remembered why he had come, besides the fact that she had wished it. That was certain to bring her smile back, if nothing else, "I have something to show you," he told her.

"Show me?" she was intrigued again, that spark in her eye. He felt himself smile at that.

"It's less of a show, more of a-." He pulled the package from a pocket dimension, similar to the one where he now stored his dagger, except for the location of his dagger was permanent, sealed away and then some. No one was getting at it unless he wanted them to.

"What is this?" she wanted to know as he placed the package in her hands.

"The whole point if for you to open it," he told her, entertained by her enthrallment of the big white box.

She gave him a glance of true sarcasm, before delicately opening the large parcel, pulling the lid from the box. She gasped as she pulled the golden fabric from it, letting the yards of it fall from her hands as she held up the beautiful material. She was speechless, staring from the very familiar article of clothing, to him, and back again. He felt a smile slipping across his face at her utter amazement. "It's – it's my dress. But how-?"

"I kept it, of course," he told her as she looked up at him for explanation.

She put the box down to hold it out in front of her, "I left it, I didn't want anything… I just… ran." Her voice was full of regret, and reminisce.

He didn't want her to associate this dress with bad memories, not when it had only brought good memories back to the surface for him. He had cherished it, less so than the cup of course, but he had kept it because it was hers, "Well this dress never was conducive to much other than looking pretty in," he reminded her dryly.

"That is the truth," she agreed with a quirk at her mouth.

He felt himself chuckling, "I vividly remember you trying to clamber around in it."

"Yes," Belle shook her head at the thing, and flipped it around to pull it against her, "I eventually tried pinning it."

"You did look ridiculous," he recalled, his smile mocking.

"Oh thank you," she said to him, backing away from him and held it out again to examine it more closely, "I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't asked for fabric to make a new dress, you would have let me walk around in it forever."

He nodded, "Quite possibly."

She shook her head at him with a knowing smile, and then commented as she finished her examination, "All the stains are gone though."

He had taken the stains out of it, when he had recovered it from her room. It had been hard, taking the stains out yet preserving the smell, but, it had been worth it. Her scent was still preserved in fact- smelling of sunlight, and sweet flowers, and that tinge of paper, of her precious books she buried herself in. "Yes. I took the liberty of cleaning it," he said, clasping his hands behind his back.

"Thank you," she told him, and her relit smile meant everything to him. He drank her in as she pressed the dress to her again, and it was as though they had never left Dark Castle. Except that she was wearing a cardigan, and her flats poked out. She turned to him, using one hand to sway with the dress, as though she were dancing, "I assume I'm wearing this to the ball?"

He had almost forgotten, "Ah ah, we need to discuss the subject of payment."

She stepped forward to kiss him, but he leaned away.

"I don't want that, dearest. I want something else," he smiled at her puzzled look.

"What?" she wondered.

"I want the tea cup."

"What?" the tone was entirely different- she was taken aback.

"I want the tea cup," he repeated firmly.

She cocked her head, staring at him through narrowed eyes, "Yes, but-?"

"I think it's a fair trade," he interrupted.

"I don't," she said defensively.

"So you don't want the dress?" he was surprised.

"No," she folded it over her arm, "not if it means you get the cup."

"I would have considered it a fair trade," he reiterated, stepping forward.

She looked up at him with confidence in her decision, "But I don't."

"Why do you want it so?" he asked.

"Because you kept it all this time," she said, her voice full of fondness.

Miffed about how this was trade was turning out, he said a little bitterly, "Yes, along with my empty heart."

That hurt her, he could tell. He shouldn't have said it. She stepped up to him anyways, handing him the dress, "I don't think it's quite so empty anymore."

He sighed, and placed it back in her hands. He could deny her nothing. "Fine," he declared dramatically, "if you won't give me the cup I suppose I'll settle for a kiss."

She smiled at that, and then leaned up to kiss him sweetly.

"Why do you want it so much?" she asked, pulling away ever so slightly, so their noses touched.

"No particular reason," he said smoothly.

She glanced at him skeptically, "Liar."

"Not me, my dear," he teased, placing his forehead against hers, "Never me."

~: Mary Margret :~

She really, really should not have signed up for this.

Oh wait, she hadn't signed up for this.

The town was utter mayhem, putting up decorations for the big night. Every lamp post was strung with lights, and green springy leaves with budding flowers to depict life's renewal. It was only two days until the ball.

Ruby was insatiable. She had Ashley and her team make four banners that now hung across town. Flyers were everywhere. David had even been dragged into the mess. Emma was ready to shoot anyone that asked her anything that didn't have to do with actual police business, now spending hours holed up at the station.

And people either loved and supported Mary Margret, or they hated her. It was hard, having such a hot and cold contrast. She didn't know how to handle it.

She sat in the diner, waiting for David to come, her foot tapping anxiously as she kept glancing out of the door. The diner was practically empty. Ruby wasn't there serving, despite it being a Monday. It was Isabelle.

"I thought you had the night off," she said to her as Isabelle stepped towards her.

"I did. I switched with Ruby. She begged me," Isabelle shrugged powerlessly.

Mary Margret understood that entirely, "No one can deny Ruby anything when she begs."

Isabelle giggled, "I'll be more aware next time. Can I get you something?"

"No, I'm waiting for David," Mary Margret said, looking out of the window again. Isabelle smiled politely, before beginning to move away. Mary Margret stopped her, "Hey Isabelle, come sit with me for a minute."

"Um, alright," she agreed, looking around the basically empty room, before sliding into the seat across from Mary Margret, fiddling with a rag. Mary Margret saw the bruise, now a yellowish green on the side of her face.

"How does that feel?" she asked, concerned.

"It doesn't even hurt," Isabelle smiled kindly, twisting the rag in her hands.

"It's healing fast," Mary Margret pointed out.

She nodded glancing away, "Yes, thankfully."

"You look happier… since you've moved in with your dad. Did Henry-?" Mary Margret confirmed that there was no one listening, before leaning closer, "Did Henry help you and Mr. Gold get back together?" At the look of surprise and then guilt on Isabelle's face, Mary Margret drew her conclusion. They had gotten back together. She waved her hands in front of her, "Oh, don't worry- I won't tell anyone!"

She sounded frantic, "Please don't! I- Henry is the only one that knows and I really don't want word getting around to-," she paused, looking away at the table and biting her lip.

"To Emma? Yeah, she thinks he's a creep," Mary Margret nodded understandingly, thinking about how Emma would react if she learned about this.

"Please… don't tell," Isabelle looked up at her in earnest, "I-." She stopped as she looked past Mary Margret to the door, and her expression froze.

"What is it?" Mary Margret turned around.

The doorbell chimed, and Mary Margret's own blood ran cold. She'd been avoiding her as best as she could in this little town, but they had been bound to run into each other eventually. She watched as her purple lips pursed as she looked around the diner, "Has anyone seen Henry?" Regina asked.

"No-," Mary Margret said automatically, drawing Regina's attention.

Her gaze lit on fire, a look of pure loathing that sent Mary Margret sliding away from her as she made to advance. "Oh, it's you."

Isabelle stood up sharply, stepping partially in front of Mary Margret to hide her from view.

"He's not here, Ms. Mills," Isabelle said, clenching the rag in her fist.

Regina's gaze was drawn away. She stared at Isabelle with almost as much fury. Mary Margret instantly felt guilt for cowering behind her. "Miss – French, isn't it?" Regina's words were steeped with dislike, "Did something happen to you dearie? That looks a little painful," she was talking about Isabelle's bruise, "What? No white knight to the rescue? Oh, that's right. He never did like shining armor."

"Henry's not here, Regina," Isabelle repeated steadily, gazing past her shoulder.

"Yes, I can see that," Regina straightened from her leer, "You keep your head down, Miss French, or you'll end up with more a lot worse than that." She gestured to Isabelle's face, and Mary Margret gasped in anger. She was trying to intimidate-

"Threaten all you like, Madam Mayor," Isabelle said, her voice still steady and almost as angry, "I don't fear you any longer."

Regina's mouth tightened, "Your mistake." She turned on her thin heel and stalked out of the diner, the door chiming behind her.

"What was that about?" Mary Margret demanded as Isabelle sat down again, looking a little discouraged.

She smiled wanly, "It's a long story."

"I've got time," Mary Margret encouraged, leaning forward.

There was another chime at the door, "Mary Margret," David's voice made her smile.

"David!" she said excitedly.

"Apparently not," Isabelle said, standing up by pushing off the table. Mary Margret gave her a guilty look, which Isabelle shook her head at, "I'm sure I'll talk to your later. Don't be worried, Mary Margret. You're going to be a queen again."

Storybrooke's Tale of Beauty and the Beast

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Teddy's Twin

Part 26 of 37

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