A/N: Hello, readers! Here is another chapter for you. It took longer to update than I would've liked since I was working on my other OUAT stories. Plus I haven't been feeling good during the past few days (I feel better today, which is why I'm updating like mad for my stories).
In The Fairy Tale World That Was…
Snow White rounded the bend and walked alongside the river, seeking comfort from the sound of the rushing waters. In her hands was a basket.
She smiled as she approached the waiting dealmaker, even though the memory of that guard still haunted her mind.
As his eyes latched onto the basket, Rumpelstiltskin sat up straighter on the boulder, tenting his fingers beneath his chin. His eyes widened with curiosity as she calmly settled on the shore of the river. She wasn't completely open around him, but her level of uneasiness was slowly diminishing.
"Ooh…and what have we here? A token of gratitude? Dearie, you shouldn't have," he said, folding his hands over his legs. Snow paused, the smile slipping.
"Of course. If not for me, that pathetic guard would have spilled your little secret to your beloved Charming. Oh, dear. I was doing you a favor."
Snow occupied her mind with retrieving a bit of food from the basket—sandwiches and a slice of cake for dessert. She was mostly craving that treat—she found out she had a bit of a sweet tooth as this pregnancy carried on.
"Charming…is sending his men out to search for that guard," Snow murmured. She knew it would be a hopeless cause and that the search would turn up empty-handed unless they somehow checked Rumpelstiltskin's boots for remains of a snail.
Rumpelstiltskin released a shrill giggle at this piece of news.
"He can look all he wants. He'll never find him now," he taunted, leaping up from the boulder.
Snow's stomach turned. She was losing her appetite quickly. Images of a crushed snail swarmed her head. All this…for a child. Is it even worth it?
A ripple of tension traveled through her abdomen and Snow squeezed her eyes shut. The tremor shook through her and she bent at the waist, breathing air slowly through her lips. The pain was coming much more frequently lately—she figured it was a side effect of the potion. The child was growing too rapidly for her body to handle.
Rumpelstiltskin knelt on the ground before her and gripped her chin. He urged her to look at him. His face was strangely serious as he seemed to examine her.
"You're in pain," he stated instead of questioning her. Snow nodded slightly and rubbed a hand across her abdomen to try to ease it.
"It's…cramps. I can barely…breathe when it happens," she gasped. Her throat was on fire, wetness burned her eyelids, and her fingers clenched the fabric over her belly desperately. If this continues…either the baby or I will end up severely hurt.
Rumpelstiltskin seemed to understand this, too. Carefully, he released her chin and stood, scrambling through his pockets for something.
"I have just the thing that will help," he told her. Snow rocked back and forth, breathing through the discomfort. "A-ha!" The dealmaker pulled out a gold necklace, letting it swing loosely from his fingers.
"A..a necklace? How will…that help me?" Snow's voice was a whisper, but she knew he would still hear perfectly. Once again, he knelt close to her and clasped the necklace around her neck. Almost instantly, the burning slipped away and the pain faded.
"It's not just any necklace, dearie. This one will protect you and your child," he explained, tracing the necklace from where it hung on her throat. There was longing in his eyes—she recognized it as the same longing Charming held for her.
"This belonged to someone else, didn't it? Someone you cared about," she surmised. There was no answer from him except for the pain in his golden eyes. And he was simply giving this to her when it could be the last belonging to remind him of his lost love. "Thank you…but I can't—"
Snow made to unclasp the necklace, but Rumpelstiltskin's hands caught her own, stopping her.
"Trust me, dearie…your life depends on it." A shiver slid down Snow's spine at the haunting words. If she refused the necklace and carried through the pregnancy…I'll die upon giving birth. Just like my mother.
Snow let the necklace fall free again over her skin.
"Thank you," she whispered. She tried to imagine the dealmaker's true love; everyone must have one, right?
Rumpelstiltskin returned to his familiar self rather quickly. He pointed a finger towards her.
"Wear it always," he demanded her and she nodded. His fingers then brushed along her jaw and swept some of her dark hair aside. "My lovely Snow…"
He awoke with the sunlight and momentarily forgot that he was lying atop Mary Margaret's bed. Lying there with his arm curled around her while her dark head snuggled into his side.
He had been dreaming about the river again and it was Snow White's name that lingered on his lips. My lovely Snow…
Briefly, his eyes flickered to the clock on the bedside table. It was almost seven. He drew in a quiet breath, listening to the silence of the apartment. Emma clearly wasn't awake yet. That was good—he'd be able to sneak out.
Ever so carefully, he lifted his fingers off Mary Margaret's skin and removed his hand. Without much sound, he stood and made his way out of her room. The kitchen was clear, all except their mugs that had been left on the table. He would leave Mary Margaret to explain that.
His hand found the doorknob and—
"Leaving so soon?" Emma's cold voice came from behind him. Arms crossed, lips shaped in an angry frown. She was wearing her traditional leather jacket and jeans that were so skinny, they'd suffocate a supermodel.
"Emma," he drawled, turning towards her. "How lovely to see you up and about. Tell me: how are you faring with Mrs. Nolan?" Emma shoved her body off the doorframe and looked ready to strike him.
"Don't change the subject. What the hell are you doing here? And in Mary Margaret's bed?" Gold smiled in the way that always unsettled Emma Swan. It didn't fail today, either—she averted her gaze rather quickly.
"Ms. Blanchard invited me to stay. Previously I was sleeping. And now I'm intending to leave," he explained, edging the door open.
It was then that Mary Margaret chose that wonderful moment to wander out of her room, yawning with sleepiness. Her green eyes opened and then widened as she witnessed the scene before her. Mr. Gold nearly cursed under his breath.
"Oh," she murmured, blushing. Emma spun around, eyes fiery.
"Yeah…oh," she repeated. "We need to talk." Mary Margaret nodded, but never took her eyes from Mr. Gold. His gaze remained on the ground—he was probably wishing he could disappear and avoid this confrontation.
"I'll give you two your time alone then," he muttered, slipping out the door before Emma could protest. The door banged closed and Emma stared at Mary Margaret, waiting for answers.
"Mary Margaret…what is going on?" There was a note in Emma's voice that warned Mary Margaret to tell her the truth. She sighed, crossing to the fridge to get something to drink. At least the rain stopped.
"Nothing happened last night, Emma. He came over for some comfort," she started, recalling the way Mr. Gold held onto her desperately while mourning over his son. Emma dropped her hands in disbelief.
"Right. He really wanted some comfort. This is Mr. Gold we're talking about," she reminded her. Mary Margaret sipped some juice and shrugged.
"Emma, he was hurt last night. He needed someone to talk to. And he came to me. It was pouring out and I couldn't just let him walk home with his leg…so I let him stay here for the night. But nothing happened—we fell asleep almost instantly. Or at least I did."
Emma's eyes narrowed and Mary Margaret could tell she was using her 'super power'. After a long moment of scrutiny, Emma backed off.
"Just be careful around him, Mary. I don't want you falling into whatever twisted scheme is crowding his mind. And there is always one with him."
Emma picked up her keys and mumbled something about having to go to the station. She gave Mary Margaret one last meaningful look and vanished out the door.
Mary Margaret brushed a hand through her dark hair and sighed. Why does finding love have to be so complicated?
It was the shunning all over again.
Mary Margaret entered the diner and immediately everyone went silent. The chatter died, forks paused on plates, food hung halfway to the mouths that would consume them. It was an uncomfortable silence—the kind of silence that only came when everyone in a room was talking about you.
Blushing, she ignored the crowd and forced a smile as she walked up to Ruby behind the bar. Gradually, a low mumble of talk started again.
"Hello, Ruby. I would order, but you can probably guess what I'm having," she said lightly. Ruby knew every order in Storybrooke. Only…today the waitress wasn't her smiling, energetic self. Her dark eyes sparked as they met Mary Margaret's.
"Oh, I'm sure I could guess," she shot back, rushing away with a coffeepot to give refills. Mary Margaret frowned, puzzled as to what was wrong. Ruby returned, but barely glanced at her. Whatever was wrong, Ruby was upset.
"Ruby? Did I say something?" A few orders came in and Ruby heaped up the steaming plates to deliver them. Mary Margaret was acutely aware of the chatter now and wished she could decipher one string of conversation. What has got everyone so worked up today?
"I'm sure you didn't say anything, Mary. But on terms of what you did, now that's a different matter," Ruby barked as she flitted away to drop the plates on their rightful tables. Ruby paused to study Mary Margaret's face. "You really haven't seen it?"
"Seen what?" Mary Margaret slammed her hands on the bar in frustration. She had no clue what was going on, but she was desperate to piece it together. Ruby's face softened and a pitiful look dwindled there.
Pursing her lips, Ruby snatched up a copy of The Mirror from one of the guys at the bar and laid it upside-down on the counter. Mary Margaret eyed the back of the newspaper, but there were only small ads and articles.
"What am I supposed to be reading?" Ruby focused on her nails, biting her lip as she did so.
With a finger, she motioned for Mary Margaret to flip it over to the front page. Mary Margaret did and she gasped, slapping the paper back down. Oh, my…and everyone in town has seen this…
"Yep, that about covers it. You could have at least filled me in! Mary, I'm your friend—do you honestly think I'd spread that around?" Ruby seemed hurt that Mary Margaret hadn't confided in her. The chatter suddenly grew to be almost deafening, mocking her.
Slowly, Mary Margaret flipped the paper over again. Her lips trembled as she forced herself to gaze at the page.
And there, enlarged underneath the headlines, was a photo of her, half-naked on top of a display case in the pawnshop…in Mr. Gold's arms.
That's Regina again, always tearing everything apart for Mary Margaret.
Well, I hope everyone enjoyed the chapter! A few more days until the OUAT finale—I simply cannot wait any longer! Why can't it be Sunday?
Also, I'd like to thank those that are taking the time to read and review my story. It means a lot to hear what the readers think.
And I have a new story up for this archive called "Of Dreams and Regrets." It's a Dark Snow/Rumpel fic. Feel free to check it out.
Two more days…two more days…