active rp thread

Matchmaker || belletheoutsider

Ever since that strange afternoon, riddled with confusion and longing, Rumplestiltskin had been busy with his latest scheme. He’d schemed many schemes in all his days as the Dark One, but this one would require a challenging level of finesse and cunning. Not to mention willpower, since its goal would give him quite a bit of pain should he succeed.

He spent almost two weeks working out the details, paying furtive visits, collecting names and other pertinent information. This task could not be taken likely. A fool might dare to question why it took so long, and took so much effort, to arrange for a visit to Sir Maurice’s realm and find Belle a suitable partner. One simple answer he would have given was that he intended to attempt this only once. He wanted Belle’s happiness, yes, which admittedly could be possible without a lover. But Belle herself was sweetly obstinate that it seemed necessary to convince her that better choices, objects more worthy of her affection, lay in the great wide somewhere. And if he had to drag her to them, so be it.

At last his arrangements were set. He’d sent a letter by dove to the knight-lord and expected an answer any day now. After finishing some work in his potions room, he moseyed down to the great hall where he often found Belle taking a respite to read or otherwise entertain herself. Conversation between them had become a little awkward since … well, then. For the last few days he pretended nothing momentous had occurred and changed everything.

Finding Belle in her favored chair, he strutted into the room. “And what, pray tell, has taken you away from your chores this time, dearie?”

Dropping Threads

Hey you guys, let’s cut to the chase.

  I haven’t been on here a heck of a lot, and I want you guys to know why. Not only has school really been cracking down and work taking up a lot of my free time, but also Maes and I simply have felt WEIGHED DOWN. By a LOT. 

 Some threads I’ve felt forced to do or get to lately, and Maes hasn’t had any of it. So even if I did attempt some of the stuff, it’d be either half-assed or extremely no-assed at all. For some it’s just been so long, and others there’s simply been no motive for at all.

  So I want to try a new start. There’s a few threads that I would love to get back into, there’s some we still want to do, but for everything else I mean, there’s nothing. Or it’s been way too long, and I know i’ve been inactive.

  And the best thought I had was to start anew. It might bring me back on a lot more, and hopefully I’ll feel way less weighed down, and so will Maes. We’ve just felt super pressured. And it really does a number when you want to be on here and do what you do with your friends and the roleplayers you love.

   So if you have any threads you want to keep with me? PLEASE contact me first. I know this sounds really sucky and I hate doing it, but if I don’t I just WONT be on for what may seem a year again, and Maes really DOES want to interact with you guys. He misses being on here.

 Thank you for reading, and I really hope we can get some good interactions going again!

Lay Down Your Flowers || beautynamedbelle

The land of mortals glowed with fertility. Flowers, trees, grass all suckled on sunbeams like infants on a mother’s breast. Animals belted their songs, reveling in life’s beauty. No one could have asked for a more perfect day for nature and her bounties.

Rumplestiltskin, the god of the underworld, could’ve wretched at the excess.

So much precious life–so much to taunt him with what he could not have, could not control nor enjoy. Why torture himself, then? Why take these trips above his own realm just to sicken himself with all this light and clear air and joy? Well, all crave most what they cannot have. Gods were no exception. In fact, their lust for the forbidden was well-renowned.

Contrary to what most might expect, Rumplestiltskin walked around in the living world discreetly. He cast a glamour on himself that convinced mortal eyes he was an insignificant beggar or wanderer. None looked twice. On this particular journey, he encountered a few fellow travelers but otherwise was generally isolated. His feet brought him to a stretch of road that touched a sloping field abundant with wild flowers. His superhuman ears perked up at the peals of distant, tinkling laughter. Girlish laughter. A mischievous grin curled on his mouth. He couldn’t count the centuries that had passed since he enjoyed any pleasant female company. Even longer since he last dared himself to spy on a woman. That activity was more his brothers’ forte, which he had at one time sneered at largely out of spite for the lot they’d assigned him.

The Dark God pulled his hood farther down and descended into the field to find the source of those enticing giggles.

True Beauty || just-a-humble-spinner

The ballroom at King Oberon’s palace glittered in the light of a million fireflies clinging to the domed ceiling. An enviable sight even among the echelons of fairy nobility. Their burning tails blinked as music vibrated the air around Belle’s ears. She wanted every worry to float off on the melody. Her feet twitched to start dancing. Unfortunately, the presence of one of the king’s sons, Gaston, stifled her enthusiasm. For months now her father had cajoled and badgered regarding a potential marriage to the handsome prince. Gaston was the oldest unmarried child of Oberon and Titania, which meant his parents were as eager to marry him off as Maurice. For Belle’s part, it might not have felt like a penal sentence were Gaston a more engaging suitor. His interests and knowledge consisted of hunting and fashion and little more. It was no crime to enjoy either, but it hardly boded well for any relationship, let alone a marriage, when the man declined other pursuits and derided Belle’s love of books and mysterious knowledge that only the most powerful fairies could enjoy. 

She had implored her father to let her forsake a lady or princess’s life to join the Blue Fairy’s ranks of earth-protectors. Her world felt so small, albeit full of pretty castles and clothes, compared to all that lay beyond the fairy realm. Why was she not allowed to learn more of the other creatures and their homelands? Humans, elves, dwarves, even imps. She would rather have helped directly in the conflict against their dark enemy than hide in the safety of a magic-sealed tower. But no, Maurice would never let harm touch his only daughter. 

They finally reached a compromise: Belle would consent to a betrothal to Gaston. However, she would have a year to select someone else as a worthy replacement. Gaston bristled at this condition and had since used a mix of flattery and intimidation to secure her hand. Every encounter made her more determined to find some escape. If she could manage without binding herself to yet another man, all the better.

On cue, Gaston materialized beside her as soon as the music crested into the first dance. He asked her to dance while wearing a calm, haughty look that tempted her to roll her eyes. Instead she forced a smile and acquiesced.

Nobility and royalty flooded into a rhythmic twirl while sentries kept watch over every door, every possible entrance an intruder could have used. But some creatures do not need doors to go where they want to be.

Old Friends || mighthavebeenoverlystrict

It had been a long, long time. In some ways, the Enchanted Forest looked the same as ever. Same trees, same mountains and rivers. The same fears imprinted in the minds of every peasant. Yet the flavor had a hint of something different. She sensed it the minute she crossed into this world. Deep, dark magic had touched it, and it had left a residual aftertaste of terror in its inhabitants. For this, the creature called the Jabberwocky stalked across the land in quiet observation. Sure enough, another change took place shortly after her arrival. It caused the tiny hairs on her skin to stand. Such a feeling swept over her only when instinct warned her of what she feared most: captivity.

The borders between worlds had sealed shut.

Startled, the Jabberwocky calmed herself, and breathed in the air, and reminded herself that it wasn’t so bad to be trapped somewhere everyone else was even more afraid of. A powerful witch had claimed the Evil Queen’s vacant palace, and her flying monkeys could make the people cower with just a few shrieks.

A wide smile bloomed again. Not so terrible a place to be stuck, after all. Besides, soon or later a desperate soul would find a way to open the borders again. Her long years of existence had taught her the value of patience.

———————

MANY YEARS AGO … 

Tiger Lily thought she might shred herself apart with waiting. The sun was especially slow tonight in its retreat to the horizon. It seemed to taunt her, or test her. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to slip out a little early. Great Panther wouldn’t notice, right?

She held out, clinging to her tree branch like a monkey, until only the top crest of the sun lingered above the sea. Close enough! Tiger jumped down and slunk through the brush. Her form dissolved into shadow to ease her escape.

The edge of the Dark Jungle had just entered her sights when a second shadow blocked the path. Not Him, thank goodness. It made the intrusion no more welcome.

“What do you think you’re doing?” the shadow said as they both changed into solid forms.

Tiger rolled her eyes once they had taken shape. “C'mon, Claw. I won’t be gone long.”

The male figure mirrored her humanlike anatomy, aside from the two horns curling out of his skull. He’d seen a boy’s nightmare of a man-beast with horns and had taken a liking to them. He answered with a stern frown. “That’s not the point. You know He doesn’t want us leaving the Jungle.”

“Why?” Tiger walked up to him, tilted her head and smiled slyly. “Are you afraid?”

Claw snorted. “Of course not!”

“Neither am I. Because there’s nothing that can hurt us. So what’s the problem?” Suddenly she sprinted past him with a giggle. In seconds she was at the border between the Jungle and the mysterious heart of their island homeland.

Her brother’s growl only fueled her gleeful rebellion. “If you’re not back by the moon’s zenith, I’m coming after you!”

Oh, Claw–he could be such a softy.

“I’m counting on it!” she called back. Dense tree growth and deep shade fell behind her, giving way by the more open, sloping terrain of the Hollow.

No Place to Call Home || fugitiveofoz

It was something of a relief to get away from the heart of town. Memories congested there, crowded Téa’s senses and sometimes brought on nostalgic nausea. Besides, hanging around among everyone all the time was just not a good idea. If she was going to be in a place where she knew everyone and no one knew her, she’d make the stay as comfortable as possible. So here she was, in a more desolate part of town, looking for any place with a vacancy.

She tucked her hands into her leather fleece-lined jacket. Up the empty road rose a small house, tidy and detached from all other signs of habitation. Optimism geysered. Téa sucked in the cool air. Easy now, she told herself. It probably belongs to some wily-eyed recluse with a shotgun. Don’t get your hopes up.

Her steps slowed as she approached the stoop, eyes scanning the plain facade. Eventually her knuckles met the wood. If no one answered, she was tempted to break-in to see which character–no, person–lived here.

Good Help Is Hard To Find || bellerp

Rumplestiltskin’s own glee at this deal he was working out with Sir Maurice surprised him. He felt like a child at market picking out a toy all by himself for the first time. Other deals had brought delight. Maybe it was the poetic justice of taking away a nobleman’s child during wartime the way he and many people’s children were taken all those years ago. But that didn’t wholly explain it. Visions of a maid picking up after his messes and putting up with his tempers and having no choice in the matter waltzed through his mind as he waltzed around Maurice, his daughter and the daughter’s fiance. But perhaps the best part was that he knew already Maurice wouldn’t strike the deal. It would be the girl, Belle, and that would make it all the sweeter. The brave, unfortunate child forced to intercede on behalf of those who were supposed to protect her. Delicious irony.

When she called him to stop his alleged departure, after Maurice’s blunt refusal of the terms to save the town from ogres, he could barely control his smile. He looked her up and down as she approached. She was dressed in gold, as though he’d already claimed her. Her eyes were bright and proud, refusing to show the fear behind them. How long would her fortitude last, he mused. The anticipation was almost too much.

“It’s forever, dearie,” he threw in as warning, still grinning and on the verge of another giggle, knowing what she would say. He still couldn’t wait to hear and know without a doubt that she was stuck with him for the rest of her days.

Poor Unfortunate Soul || belle-and-her-books

The chilly air whipped through both sides of the red-and-black carriage, prompting Rumplestiltskin to adjust his cloak around him. This region was infamous for its unpleasant weather, not to mention difficult terrain. If he wasn’t hiking through mountains, he was navigating muddied paths through swampland. At least now the horses had nothing but clear forest road between them and the Dark Castle now. The Dark One felt fatigue sinking into his body. A rare thing, but he’d been to many places today, what with people begging for help from the encroaching ogres. He might’ve had more to do had he not heard that a few other interlopers had the same idea as he. Very annoying—he didn’t like sharing the spoils of other people’s desperation. Who knew what pretty prizes he’d missed out on. But the sky was darkening. It had still been a full day of deals, and he could use a nap.

The imp suddenly felt a familiar prickle. The presence of a desperate soul. But where? He sat up, still hugging his cowl around him, and looked up the road. A figure wrapped in a ragged cape was walking in the same as his carriage. The head was covered and bent, the limbs tucked against the small body. He could sense the deep unhappiness filling the traveler’s soul. He perked up. Maybe he could squeeze in one more transaction.

With a pull of his magic, the horses slowed. The vehicle rolled to a stop right beside the pedestrian, which earned their glance. Rumplestiltskin poked his head out. “Need some assistance?”

The Spoils of War || brokendeals

Rumplestiltskin lingered on the edge of sanity. He had only his spinning to keep him anywhere grounded while he awaited news from the front. Every day he expected to hear the worst. Every day he imagined how, should the worst come, many parents would grieve for their lost young ones, but none would be so lost, so broken as him. There would be no glory in their death the way there might have been in his, if Milah and the rest of the town were to be believed.

The fateful noise of hoofbeats sounded outside the hut. He felt sick. He just might be sick. Might it be better to hole himself away and never know for sure what happened to Baelfire? No, not knowing would be worse, even if it let him indulge in fevered fantasies of his boy fleeing the battlefield and living among other runaway children as good-hearted bandits who fought for more commendable causes.

He grabbed his staff and slowly walked to the door. He pushed the flap open. There stood a procession led by a soldier on horseback. Mostly children, all bloody and battered. A rock seemed to lodge in Rumplestiltskin’s throat. He stepped into the sun and ran his eye over the group, fearful and pleading.

The Girl with the Rose Tattoo || beautywithoutherbeast

It was with great hesitation that Mr. Gold put the “Help Wanted” sign in the window. He’d debated it for several weeks. In the end, the approach of the Christmas season and the mad rush of shopping everyone in the little town was ready to throw themselves into decided matters for him. He’d managed the last several years on his own before the little town upped its population. The pawnshop was an ideal place to reclaim old treasures and trade and sell what was no longer wanted. Were he just the pawnbroker, he might have managed it all. But he had other business about town–rent and loans to collect, contracts to negotiate, and other odds and ends that didn’t need mentioning. He was a busy man even when the shop was quiet.

So now he had a sign to match his Open/Closed one that people possessed an impressive capacity to ignore. Maybe they would ignore the Help Wanted, too. Daring to be a little optimistic, Gold returned to the counter to wait for customers and update his ledger of payments and debts.

Return to Neverland || thetinkerfairy

I will find him. I will find him.

On and on the phrase echoed, embedded in nearly every thought. Years slipped away like sand as he pushed himself to the brink plotting for a way to his boy.

A curse. A curse to end all curses. The path had been foretold by the seer. But Rumplestiltskin had since learned all too well that prophesies loved to play tricks. The seer had said he would be reunited with his son, and that a curse would indeed be cast, though not by him. She did not specify that the curse would absolutely reunite him with Baelfire. With each alternative avenue he explored, however, Rumplestiltskin grew convinced that it would be the curse. It had to be. No matter what distractions came along, nothing would prevent his plan from reaching fruition.

Then the nightmares started. No, actually. It was difficult at first discerning between vision and dream when he slept. He didn’t even realize for a while that his power of foresight could manifest in his sleep. All the more frustrating was how the flashing moments amassed in an even denser, more nonsensical jumble. His emotions affected what he saw, too. When the visions showed him Baelfire, he didn’t trust them, though his heart burned for any means of reaching him.

They had to be wrong. He saw Baelfire in a land he remembered and tried to forget. It was not a world deprived of magic. Quite the opposite. How could he be there? But the nightmares of his son crying in a cave, surrounded by darkness, refused to stop. When awake Rumplestiltskin gradually let himself reason out feasible explanations. Perhaps Pan had taken him. He seemed capable of crossing worlds. It was rational to believe that Pan would still go after his son.

The idea became impossible to dismiss. The curse, never abandoned, was nonetheless put aside. At least with Bae in Neverland Rumplestiltskin had a better chance of retrieving him. The problem lay in getting out.

It took more time than he thought gathering the information he needed. That included listening for stories of children (all boys) who were mysteriously taken from their beds. At last he found one who had remained behind and witnessed his brother’s abduction by the Shadow. The child buried deep inside the Dark One shuddered, but he persisted in making a deal with the boy’s frightened parents to take him temporarily. When their business was complete, their son would be returned unharmed.

To think a simple phrase could summon that dark entity. But the child proved himself right. Shortly after declaring, “I believe!” the shadow was at the window of Rumplestiltskin’s castle. The imp had a trap ready for the creature so it would bear him to that flickering star. If only it hadn’t required flying.

Terror swept through him in successive waves, but with some pride he managed to resist his fear, nauseous as he was, by the time the Shadow dropped him off. Rather shook him off.

Something had changed since he last walked this island. It was daylight when he landed, yet not too long after he began skulking around, the day rapidly retreated into night. More quickly than natural. He never new nighttime in this land. There was a sinister taste in the air. Rumplestiltskin ascended to higher ground, and only then hunched down and pulled out the thing that would lead him to Baelfire: his cloak. He retrieved a potion from his pocket, then poured it on the garment. His clawed fingers held tightly so it wouldn’t flying away from him.

I’ll find you, Bae.

Born To Shine || mybravedarlingbelle

It could be a bothersome trial, flying to and from the Enchanted Forest and the Never Isles every year to check on the half-fae child. Not so much the flying itself–that he enjoyed, far away from Maleficent’s nagging or Regina’s tiring games. The trouble came once he reached the castle of Sir Maurice. He had to nest in the forest nearby and make sure to come out and lurk only when he knew he wouldn’t be seen. Apparently humans found the horns, scaly skin and wings an unusual and off-putting sight.

Fortunately, in her childhood, Belle had a governess who saw fit to bring her out regularly for exercise and amusement. That lent him a vantage point from one of the trees, with the help of a little magic to provide effective cover. Matters grew complicated during her adolescence when the Ogre War began and it was considered too dangerous to venture outdoors, and he had to devise other means of observing her. To be absolutely sure she was alive, able-bodied, and deserving of his continual attention.

He took to perching on the turrets or battlements where gargoyles crouched. His figure blended in rather well. But sitting still for so long in plain sight cramped his limbs. And he could see her only when she sat within the narrow limits of her bedroom window, usually with a book in her hands. His more impulsive side wanted to fly down and introduce himself as she neared her twenty-first birthday. But a deal was a deal. He had promised her mother, the exiled fairy queen (not his queen, of course), that he would not approach the child until she was of age. Well, the time had nearly come. It couldn’t do much harm to make her acquaintance a year early, right? Yet he sat, waiting, watching, wondering if it would all be worth the pains.

Magic and Bookshelves || mybravedarlingbelle

As usual, Platform 9 ¾ overflowed with chaotic clamor. It made assembling the house prefects a strain even with a banner put together by Glinda Sutherland, the Hufflepuff Head Girl, instructing where to congregate. After much bumping, shoving, tripping and shimmying through the throngs, Rupert Gold and the other Head Boys and Girls counted all twenty-four prefects and shepherded them onto the Hogwarts Express. Fortunately he and his fellow head Locasta Norwood, one of Glinda’s “school sisters”, were responsible only for Ravenclaw prefects, meaning he had six students in all to count.

The seventh-year wizard prided himself on being able to memorize names, but even twenty-four would have been a stretch. Luckily, he knew the students in his own house well enough to not require reintroductions. Among them were fellow seventh-year and friend Jefferson and sixth-year Elsa Arendal, with whom his relationship was a tad more complicated.

And then there were the greenhorns–the fifth-years. Though he acted no more friendly toward the new girl, Belle French, than toward anyone else, his gaze carefully followed her when they weren’t separated by a sea of students. He just wanted to be sure she didn’t fall and become trampled. She could be a bit clumsy. And she was so short; even he (the Imp, some schoolmates dubbed him) loomed over her. He could picture her being swept away in this human undertow. And, despite barely knowing her, that image worried him.

The newly chosen prefects had a chance to store their luggage and change into their robes while the already seasoned prefects began patrolling the corridors. Orientation began half an hour into the trip to school. The prefect carriage saw the dangerous stew of students from every house about to be indoctrinated into their responsibilities. Rupert took his place at the front end with the other heads. Standing with all the student leaders of other houses felt hazardous. He favored a spot between Locasta and Archie Hopper, Hufflepuff’s Head Boy. His attention stayed on the younger students, mindful to avoid catching the eye of Milah and Killian, the Head Girl and Boy of Gryffindor, or Zelena, the Head Girl for Slytherin. Jafar Khan, the Slytherin Head Boy, was all right, but it was just as well to take stock of who he’d get to boss around this year.

Smile at the Crocodile || alittlepirategirl & im-not-a-what

Rumplestiltskin, still stubbornly called Mr. Gold by many in Storybrooke, had business at the dockyards this morning. As it was the weekend and his shop wasn’t technically required to be open, he decided to take a short walk near the beach. It wasn’t really his place for several reasons, but now and then a little sea air stung him with vague nostalgia he resisted exploring, and he lingered in its bathing wake. Since he hardly came here, he had little idea who visited. Only in the hottest months did the townspeople flee to the water for relief. Today was warm but breezy, and the beach had just a few patrons.

Including a little girl sitting on a blanket, accompanied with a couple stuffed animals. What, was she alone? A quick look around suggested she was. No adult seemed to be paying attention to her, or keeping near her. What was this all about? The girl was quite young! Assuring himself he was only sating curiosity, Rumple descended the beach. The sand was compacted enough to support his cane.

“Good afternoon, miss,” he said to her, stopping short of a few feet. “Are you all right?”

Trying to Forget || mybravedarlingbelle

Regina’s account seemed to be the end of it. What else was there to say, or do? It was too painful to dwell on. Rumple sat at his wheel as he did every day, now with one more thing to forget. If only the chipped cup he’d placed on the pedestal would let him. His actions enjoyed contradicting themselves.

Today his glances at the cup and his spinning were interrupted—not by shepherds or vengeful princesses, but a dove knocking at one of the great hall’s windows. Rumple turned to it, furrowed his brows, and got up to let it in. The dove had a small scroll lashed to its ankle. Another deal request, he guessed, though he had not foreseen any. He freed the paper and read it. The message was short. Upon the last word his fingers numbed, and the little paper fell to the floor.

Belle. She was alive. And Regina had her.

He dearly wanted to go right to the queen and strangle her until she let Belle free. If he faced her now, though, he might not have the restraint to not kill. That couldn’t happen. Instead he made the journey to the Dark Palace with a thought and some magic. He needed to find the person who sent the letter.

Rumple searched the castle unseen. Sure enough, he located the man emerging from Regina’s bedchambers, looking empty-eyed. He waited until the man was far enough from the room to suddenly appear before him.

“You’re the Huntsman, I take it.” Rumplestiltskin’s mouth was stuck between an open smile and a grimace.

The man shuddered with surprise. He collected himself quickly. “You must be Rumplestiltskin.” He glanced around, then nodded down the hallway. “Follow me. We must be quick.”

The Novice || missswanthesaviour

The last eighteen years had felt strangely longer than the three hundred that preceded them. Maybe because he was that much closer to his goal–to reuniting with Baelfire–any time remaining was too much. Rumplestiltskin was tired of waiting. But he needed patience, now more than ever.

Regina’s banishment had led to a peaceful lull in the Enchanted Forest. It was the ideal environment to raise a child in. From the shadows, undetected, the Dark One had watched the former prince and princess raise their child in glowing happiness. How he envied them. How his stomach turned at the nauseating joy that filled their lives. Since they were so happy, they had little reason to seek help from the likes of him. He had expected as much. It would make his reemergence all the sweeter when they suddenly found themselves under siege from a familiar foe. Regina–good old Regina–had not been idle all this time.

He had to act before hell erupted across the land. And so he maneuvered through the courtyard of King David and Queen Snow White’s castle, covered by his beggar’s cloak, awaiting the appearance of the royal family for their weekly address to the commoners. The peasants, who adored their rulers, were eager for words of assurance that the recent nightly attacks by unknown creatures would be dealt with.

Yes, do tell us, dearies, thought Rumplestiltskin with a grin. Protect us from the big bad monsters.

Love In the Dark || mybravedarlingbelle

When word of the ogre invasion first reached Rumplestiltskin, the price for his help was an easy matter to settle. Sir Maurice was not the only noble asking for salvation. He was, however, the only one with a child up for trade. Child in the broadest sense, since Lady Belle was grown and already betrothed. It took all of an afternoon to head off to strike the deal. He even had a pretext ready to justify his choice of payment: a need for a new a caretaker. It was a ripe opportunity for gleeful vengeance. 

Who could be less qualified to act as servant but someone of the noble class? None, thought Rumple, growing more delighted at the cruel proposal. That was the point. After witnessing the Duke of the Frontlands pit child soldiers against full-grown ogres, particularly his dear Baelfire, reprisal was called-for. It didn’t matter that hundreds of years had passed since that time. The nobility were no better now than they were then. Rumple, in a comfortable state of mind, arrived at the castle for his grand entrance into Maurice’s castle.

Magic brought him safely past the guards and griffins to the war chamber’s tall, heavy doors, all locked tight. Dramatic doors deserved dramatic knocking. He obliged with another wave of magic. The pounding resounded nicely. His own skin tingled at the ominous sound.

Knowing where Maurice and his attendants’ attention would be drawn, Rumple reappeared behind the knight’s great chair long before he was granted admission. Indeed, every head had turned to the doors, including one topped with long chocolate-brown hair. The wavy tresses fell over pale shoulders, left bare by the golden gown the person wore.

Eager as he was to meet Lady Belle for the first time, the Dark One stayed in hiding until the proper moment.

Through the Looking Glass

The tiresome trip to Neverland had proved to Rumplestiltskin once and for all how bloody annoying it was not to have a portal jumper when you needed one. On his initial return he wanted nothing more but to stay in Storybrooke with Neal and Belle. But the fact that he had been forced to leave in the first place because his family had been trapped in different realms troubled him even after the dust settled. He had to address this problem. He had to prevent further inconvenience due to his back luck moving between realms.

Rumple and the Hatter had not been on speaking terms for years. From the looks of things with Jefferson working to rebuild a life with his daughter, the no-contact policy was still in effect. He couldn’t really blame Hatter. He was doing right by his child. And Jefferson had given him one thing to turn to should it be necessary. Granted it hadn’t been an intentional gift–just one of those things that came out during their tea sessions. The Jefferson of old hadn’t been able to resist boasting of his adventures, which included a certain lost Wonderland princess.

Once matters in Storybrooke regained enough calm, after a few weeks, he stood behind the counter one morning with a mirror he was polishing, waiting for Johanna to come to the pawnshop. It was time to make his proposition.

The Bird and the Fish || theresgoodinyou

Rumplestiltskin felt a new heaviness this morning. It was the first morning in fourteen years, almost to the day, that his son wasn’t there to share it with him. Yesterday Bae was taken by the soldiers. He was no doubt on his way for training, if the duke’s men did in fact plan to give the children a fighting chance to survive instead of feeding them to the ogres. Bitter sorrow stung his throat. The worst part was how helpless he was in all this, even when he tried to save Bae. That had brought on only more shame. He should have thought up another way besides running. After so many years of being called the town coward, who could only run or hide from a fight, he’d come to accept it. How could he fight, anyway, being weak and lame?

He tried to pretend he could get through this. With a basket on his arm Rumple left the cottage for the forest where a grove of apple trees lived. It was autumn. The fruit was ripening and beginning to drop. It was time to collect them. He could do that much. He could manage so long as he didn’t think of where Bae was right now. So long as he didn’t torture himself with fantasies of what else he could have done to protect his boy from certain death.

The Ugly Truth || mybravedarlingbelle

It had all rested on a single stroke–a moment all too familiar. Just like then, Rumple was alone, panting, panicking, desperate. His family needed him. And it seemed the only way he could save them was to cut himself to pieces, an act that would have been far more bloody than just crushed his ankle. No less painful.

In a moment of clarity, just as he was thinking of Bae and Belle, at Pan’s ruthless hands, he relived his whole life as if he were the one about to die. He remembered all that happened after he smashed his leg with that hammer–coming home to a furious wife, bitter neighbors, a son who he could not protect from war. He remembered how it snowballed from there. His choices seem to worse with the years. Now, just as he hoped to have his family whole, at long last, it was destined to be ripped from him.

The sword he had grabbed rang as it hit the floor. Rumple’s strangle gasp didn’t change his decision. No more. The cycle had to be broken. No more making anyone else take the price. It would be his. All his.

It was a miracle he got to the town center in time, really. Just as his father was about to kill Bae, he grabbed Pan’s shoulder. “Stay away from them!”

Pan, surprised but no less snide, stood face to face with the child he abandoned. “Oh, look! The worm’s got teeth!”

Rumple showed his teeth so Pan had no doubt of that. But his body otherwise relaxed, just a little, knowing he made it. He hadn’t failed Bae or Belle. They would be safe.