Title: A Necessary Change

Rating: G/maybe PG but I doubt it

Paring: RumBelle

Summary: My version of the Rumbelle reunion written right after the mid-season finale. I didn't post it then because much better angst was being written. I don't know why I'm posting it now, except it's sitting in my folder mocking me.

Warning: Un-beta-ed

Belle opened her eyes to darkness. She blinked to allow her eye to adjust to the small amount of light coming in through the windows of the mansion. Ever since the 'Queens of Darkness' had arrived in Storybrooke looking for the 'Author', it was decided that someone should always be in the mansion. Tonight was her night and after restlessly keeping her eyes away from the ballroom, and trying to keep memories of the bedroom up stairs away, she had fallen asleep. When she could see, she looked over at the clock.

Four hours

She had gotten four hours of sleep. Four hours of un-aide sleep. Archie would be happy as it was an improvement over the past two months. She pushed herself up and, pulling the blanket around her, debated going down to the kitchen for tea.

It wouldn't help keep the images at bay. It wouldn't keep her from remembering Rumple on the pavement just outside the town line. It wouldn't keep her from hear his cries. For her, for Bae. She stood there the entire time, her back to him, her own sobs mixing with his, until they stopped. With trepidation, she had turned to see him sitting on the road, head bowed, shoulders slumped, but shaking as he took a few shuddering breaths. Then he pushed himself up, hopping as he put pressure on his bad ankle, and started walking down the road.

No matter what she did, she couldn't forget it.

Deciding that tea was necessary, she made her way to the kitchen. She was about to turn on the light when a sound from upstairs caught her attention. As quietly as she could she followed it to the dead-end corridor that housed the Author's study. The wall was open and she could see movement.

She didn't think it was one of the others, they would have let her know they were there. Her phone was still on the bedside table charging, and she knew she should get it, but she found herself walking towards the room.

"I wouldn't take another step, Dearie."

It was the voice more then the warning that stopped her.

"Rum-Rumple?" she breathed out.

"No reason in sneaking around now. Might as well illuminate the situation."

She felt the tingle of Rumple's magic in the air as the lights in the study turned on. Rumple was sitting at the desk. She swallowed. He was wearing the same suit as the last time she saw him, but the cuffs were open as was the collar, his tie missing. The jacket looked dirty and she felt her eyes sting. He looked like he did when Zelena had him.

"What are you doing here?" she asked, taking a step into the room.

"Ah-ah!" he said, a almost playful note to his voice as he waved a finger at her. "I was serious about not taking another step." He lowered his hand and his eyes dropped to the desk. "We wouldn't want you to get hurt." he whispered. His hand flicked out and the floor between then glowed briefly with invisible traps. They parted, clearing a path to the chair in front of the desk. "Have a seat, Dearie."

She frowned at the nickname, but took the seat.

"Rumple, what are you doing here? In Storybrooke? Are you with the Queens of Darkness? If you think the Author will change your story—"

"No, no, Dearie." he cut her off, "I'm not after the Author. The, uh, "Queens of Darkness" were only the means to an end. I told them about the Author as they were the only ones that were able to get me back into Storybrooke. While they, and the rest of your, oh so lauded heroes, are chasing after someone who can't help them, I will do what I should have done in the first place."

He reached out and she noticed two pieces of paper on the desk. His hand hovered over each one, before he pulled it back. With a wave of his hand, a book appeared on the desk as well. But not just any book, Henry's book. The pages flutter as it opened to a spot near the beginning of the book.

"Do you know where we are?" He motioned around to the bookcases. "We're in Fates workroom. You've always had it correct, Sweetheart. No one decides our fate but us. All these blank books? Journeys that were never taken, decisions that closed the books. If we were to change a decision, our story changes. I don't need to find 'The Author' because I'm the author of my story. And I want to change something."

He sighed and sat back. "It's very difficult decision. It has to be the right one." He looked up at her, a bitter smirk on his lips. "And we both know I'm not very good at making those." He touched the paper on the left. She saw it was a picture of two figures standing in front of a glowing portal. "This one would make sense, but we both know that once I have something, I don't like giving it up. This one," His hand caressed the page on the right. This one had two people standing in the forest. One was robed in a dark cloak, the other was dressed as a peasant, and holding a staff. "This would be harder. Take more of a re-write as it requires me to be brave. Again, something we both know I'm not capable of."

"Rumple." Her voice wavered and she shook her head, because she knew that was wrong. He could be brave. Had been when he sacrificed for them last year. Could be if he just believe in himself.

"I'm actually glad you're here." He looked up at her and gave half a smile. "I doubt that you will believe me, but I wanted to say I'm sorry. I never wanted things to end up like this and I've never wanted to hurt you, but that's all I seem to be able to do. I love you too much to continue hurting you.

"I love you too, Rumple, but—"

A mirthless laughter cut her off.

"Are you still lying to yourself about that, Dearie? Isn't is about time you faced the truth."

"What!" She sat back in the chair, lungs clenching. He can't believe that. "You knowthat we are True Love!"

"Belle," he sighed. "You truly loved, but not me." He tapped his chest. "You had this idea of who I was. That I was a good man who, I don't know, lost his way. And needed help to find it. That's who you truly loved."

"No! That's not true!"

"Yes, it is, Sweetheart. That's why I hurt you so much. I could never be him. No matter how much I told myself that I had to be him for you, I couldn't. I wasn't strong enough. But I promise you, I will fix it." He tapped the desk again.

"Fix it?" she shook her head. "Rumple, haven't you learned? Magic will never fix it!"

"I would agree with you," He picked up one of the pages, "but this is only thing that will work." He took a deep breath and let it out slowly before meeting her eyes. "I love you, Belle. It won't matter after this, but I needed to say it one last time." He jammed the page into the book.

"Rumple! Don't!" She shouted, hand reaching out to stop him, but was too late. She could feel the magic in the air and hear the crackle of paper as the page became part of the book.

There was a flash.

She felt dizzy, hand going out to steady herself. A hand caught her own and she looked into the concerned face of her guard.

"Are you alright, My Lady?" he asked.

"Yes," she told him. "It this is?"

She pointed to the small dwelling they were approaching. With her betrothal to Gaston, the Frontlands had become part of the Marchland. With the wedding in a month, she was touring what would be her new home. She was most interested in the folklore of the area.

"Yes, My Lady." their guide said. "Everything has been kept exactly as it was then." He handed her a book. "This is his son's account of what happened."

She flipped it open and on the first page was a drawling of a middle aged man. His hair was to his shoulders and hid his face with the way his head was lowered. Both hands gripped a staff and one knee was bent, keeping the foot that was bent inward off the ground. He seemed almost scared.

"Will you tell me the tale again?" she asked as the entered.

"Yes, My Lady. Three hundred years ago, the Ogres War had been going on for decades. People to fight were becoming scares and in desperation, the Duke had lowered the age of enlistment to fourteen. The man who lived in this...cottage...wanted to save his son from the wars. He tried to run with his son, but the Duke's men stopped them. That night, he met a beggar who told him of a mystical item could would stop the wars, if the man was brave enough to get it. The man was the village coward, but some how he got the item and it turned out to be the dagger that controlled the Dark One. He ordered the Dark One to stopped the Ogres Wars forever and to never, in anyway, harm another being. The Dark One has never been seen since."

"He was very brave", she said, a finger caressing the edge of his picture. This picture had captured her attention as much as the story had when she first head it a week ago. If it was possible she wanted to pull him out of the drawling, wrap him up in a blanket and... She shook her head, "What as his name?"

"His name was Rumpelstiltskin"