FANDOM: Once Upon A Time
CHARACTERS: Hook and Belle, mentions of Rumpel and other characters
SUMMARY: In which Belle dreams of what could never be, and Hook makes her an offer she can't refuse. (1200+ words)
WARNING: Spoilers for those who haven't seen 03x11 yet.
NOTES: Inspired by a challenge over at writerverse, using the prompts: "weep no more", "lost things", and "the probable future".
In another life, she'd have probably been planning her wedding day. Or having Ruby do it. She would be getting her hair done, listening to Granny go on and on about how it isn't too late to change her mind (and smiling as she'd shake her head in exasperation), letting Archie take her hand in his and give it a nice, comforting squeeze.
She would allow her anxiety to fall away, as she'd then notice Neal peaking in on her, grinning that little boy's grin of his before giving her a thumbs up, maybe two. She would be asking about her father, watching the way Ruby's eyes would fall and know that he'd decided not to attend. But she wouldn't blame him for that, or feel too bad.
Because there would have been time to make up for all the missed chances, and time to allow her father to get to know the love of her life. There would have been time for anything and everything. There would have been time to watch the stars together, to read more books, to steal more glances as they'd sit across each other at the library, time to try more of the curious items on Granny's menu. There would have been time to do all of that together.
In another life, she'd be holding Rumpel in her arms, following the way his mouth would curve into a smile - a true smile. He'd be thanking her for more than she's ever done (and she'd stop correcting him after another few tries), he'd be telling her of his plans, wondering if Bae might like to stay with them for a while, asking her if she'd mind. And, of course, she wouldn't because she'd like to see more of him, too.
She would have run her fingers up his arm, pausing as she reached the dip of his neck and then his cheek. She would be looking into his eyes, slowly closing the distance between them. She would be--
Belle drops the mirror, hears it crack, winces at the echo it leaves behind. There's dust everywhere, vials lying on the floor, curtains tattered and torn, shelves bowing and ready to crumble. She decides not to risk checking on the state of the library.
Rumpel would have thrown a fit, and for good reason; his castle, once dark and seemingly uninviting, now stands completely lifeless, a shell of what it once was. And she's never particularly liked it, but there was a time when she thought she could call it home someday. Someday, with him. Now, no one can.
"Thought I'd find you here."
Belle frowns and clenches her fists, rounding on the intruder. He's got his arms crossed as he stands in the middle of the ruin, knowing grin not quite reaching his eyes.
"What do you want?" She asks, making her way towards him. She momentarily entertains the thought of slapping him, shoving him, kneeing him in the groin - but stops short. This isn't like her, not like her at all. Maybe it's the castle, maybe it's the memories, the sadness, the anger. Maybe it's him in all his rotten-hearted glory and how he's the last person she wishes to see in any realm. Whatever it is, she knows she can't let it consume her.
But. As she stands directly in front of him, Belle grits her teeth. But if she lets go, if she begins to let go--
"Haven't you done enough?" She hisses, doesn't like the sound she makes. Can't help it anyway. She raises a hand, watches it tremble. If she lets go, if she stops to consider, if she begins to give herself time to heal--
"Do it then, luv," Hook replies, leaning in, holding her gaze. He tips her chin up with his finger, nudges his head in the direction of her hand still frozen in place. "You know you want to."
All she can do is look through him. Stare at her reflection in his eyes, look at the mess she's made. Rumpel wouldn't like it, wouldn't want her to be like this. And if that isn't enough of a reason, well, she can let her own voice in, listen to it tell her that this isn't the way. Listen to it scold her about revealing too much, too soon. Listen to it yell at her to get the hell away from Hook before he makes it worse.
He does before she can properly decide.
"You really should've stayed with your books," he whispers against her ear, "The real world is full of pain, full of disappointment. And now the crocodile is dead, and all you have is yourself and your misery to keep you company."
She screams. Doesn't care if it happens within her or out here where he can watch her fall to pieces. She breaks away from him before pushing back, hitting him with everything she's got, pounding at his chest and anywhere she can reach. If she stops to consider, if she begins to heal, if she decides it's time to move on, if she decides to let go -- it would be like letting Rumpel go, letting everything go, letting herself go.
She doesn't care that he barely fights back, that he doesn't make a sound, that she's letting it all out, letting the hurt wash over her in tides. She doesn't care. And doesn't realize how long it goes on for until she feels him holding her, rubbing her back, mumbling incoherent words against the crown of her head.
Gradually, she stops pounding, stops fighting, just stops. She falls against him but doesn't try to do anything else, simply lets him be there for her. Like it's the most natural thing in the world.
"Come with me," he tells her later as she sits across from him, gathering the few books she can bear to look at, "I'm going back."
"I don't want to see anyone else right now," she replies, straightening her skirt, her throat so raw, it pains her to speak.
"I meant back to Storybrooke," he urges without missing a beat. She stares at him like he's grown two more heads. "I have to find the woman I love and you're going to help me."
"Why would I do that?" Belle asks, horrified that she can already hear the curiosity in her voice, the pull, the sound of a grand adventure. Instead of trying to pinch herself silly, she doesn't dare make another move. "Why would I do anything for you?"
"Because, my darling Belle, you're not going to do it for me," Hook grins in triumph, "You're going to do it for your beast, for the only other family he had in this world, for the chance that you might be able to reunite Baelfire with his love, never mind that his and mine are one and the same." He gets up before she can say no, before she can shake her head and tell him he's crazy.
Either way, it's not like she wants to. Because, maybe, just maybe, she's a little bit crazy herself. Rumpel probably wouldn't want her to. Could be dangerous, after all. But, hey, it's not like she's always ever done what Rumpel would want her to do anyway.