Disclaimer: I do not own OUAT, nor do I gain financial profit from my writing. It's just for fun. I like playing with Robert Carlyle's characters almost as much as he does. ;)
This is my first attempt at writing fanfiction, at writing anything longer than a blog entry, actually. I've been in the shadows for a while, reading countless amazing stories, until I felt I had to show myself, to "physically" step into this exciting universe. Little, timid steps, as English is not my native tongue, so please apologize the impending glitches; I do my best to be less and less of those. Literature is not my major either; I'm into the science business, so I might sound clumsy and awkward to those in the literary field. I do love books thought, almost as much as Belle does. ;)
To those of you reading my story, a heartfelt "thank you" and a hug. :)
As opposed to being betrothed to Gaston without having a say in the matter, Belle couldn't help but feel a little bit of pride and rejoice at having everything to do with her now belonging to Rumplestiltskin. He came to answer her pleas and saved her father's kingdom from the ogres attacks, and in return she promised him forever. His request for her she did not quite understand - what would the most powerful and frightening man in all the realm gain by tying to himself an inexperienced girl for all her days - but it seemed a more than fair price to pay for the lives of her people. Her kingdom would be saved, though it would no longer be hers. In fact, nothing will be hers any longer. Even she will cease to belong to herself.
That was the one thought that most disturbed her. She was a smart, independent, outspoken girl and wondered if her transformation from princess to Rumplestiltskin's caretaker would crush her spirit as well as her free will. If he would crush her and all traces of what she once was. But Belle surely hoped that it won't happen. She was a girl who possessed the talent of finding the upside to any situation. She was reasonable, always looking further than first appearance, and gave forgiveness and affection easily. And she also knew for a fact that her summon for Rumplestiltskin came, apart from everybody's desperate need to end the people's agony, from another equally desperate desire of her own heart. A longing that she wondered if his magic had been powerful enough to sense, and if it was part of the reason why he had asked for her as his price. It was an inner struggle that even she couldn't quite make sense of, whispers inside her head telling her that there must be some greater challenge in this life than becoming the wife of a dull man and bearing his children. An aching hope for something more, for adventure and the feeling of self-fulfilment, no doubt seeded in her by her love of books and all the mysteries they uncovered.
These feelings gave her the strength to not shudder when Rumplestiltskin's hand... claw... hand… ever so lightly touched the small of her back, guiding her out of her father's castle and into her new life by his side. Neither his monstrous nails, scratching the fine embroidery of her dress, nor his mischievous, high pitched, mocking laugh could put out the tiny, hopeful humming deep inside of her, a vibration that had accompanied the beating of her heart for as long as she could remember. She has, after all, always dreamed of being in the position to do the brave thing.
Books have also seeded in her a dream of romance, of finding an intelligent, intriguing man who would challenge her to become a better woman. And she desired to reciprocate, by offering him her good advices, generous smiles, nice temper and the smallest, undeniably strongest, gestures of love. And although such thoughts of romance weren't particularly appealing when concerning Rumplestiltskin and would certainly have to be put away for the time being, her insightful, gentle nature did want to aid him in any way that she could. After all, no other man would be a bigger challenge for her than the feared Dark One. And he did help her people a great deal, asking only for her in return, for which she was grateful. He seemed so alone, sitting in his corner of the carriage, looking smaller than the legend spoke of him, wound up in his dark cloud of powerful magic, yet seeming almost powerless when it came to speaking to her.
As the carriage set in motion and Belle felt just the softest tingle raising the hairs on her skin, she began suspecting that this was going to be a little bit more than the conventional ride. Rumplestiltskin's magic was all around them and was softly taking its course as they rode past the boundaries of the kingdom towards his Dark Castle. Just before the darkness settled in, she could see that the lives of her people were slowly restoring to what they were before the war. Her heart widened at that, taking in the sight of the healed lands and knowing that there will once more be children running about without fear of being taken to the battlefield. For the first time in years, the crops were no longer endangered and the skies were as blue as her eyes. It seemed that all the blood red that tinted the horizon just a day before has concentrated into the inexplicably large number of poppies rising all over the fields. Suddenly, Belle's heart shrank back in, remembering that she was never going to see or run those fields again, as she was on her way to the sorcerer's lair. She turned her stare to the artisan of this reborn world, the man sitting across from her, his features, just like his magic, a complete mystery to her. She could've swore she saw heavy pain but also tiny gleams of remote hope in his earlier glares, but he was so deep covered in darkness and roaring with magic that she might have just as well imagined it. He was sitting there, immovable, waiting with the patience of a man who has been spinning straw into gold for more than a hundred years her age.