No Greater Power

By Revever

Drama / Mystery

Chapter 11

He woke up to the sound of the door opening. Daylight was seeping through the blinds, but it was likely a very early hour. Someone came closer to his bed, but it wasn't Belle, it was Gerda.

'Good morning, Mr. Gold,' she said in a neutral, professional tone but he caught undertones of coldness and hatred. 'How are you feeling? Any pain?'

'No,' he said quietly in a guarded tone, wondering which one of them felt more awkward. She was probably doing a better job of hiding it and he hated that. He wondered when Belle would come. If at all. Yesterday talk felt a little fuzzy, but she said she wouldn't leave him again, so there was hope. Though she should leave. Now he didn't have any way to protect her from Zelena. He'd have to talk Regina into protecting Belle. And they had yet to find a way to stop the Dark One.

Meanwhile he allowed Gerda to play her cursed persona. No need to make unnecessary fuss, when there were more important things to do. He sighed. If it only were so simple. The ugly truth was that he needed help with basically everything now and it was better to burden Gerda with it than Belle, even if he was barely able to tolerate anybody touching him. Belle surely didn't deserve to be forced into caring for an old, pathetic invalid and so he'd just endure it with Gerda. There was something slightly satisfying in making Gerda work for him, despite her uppity animosity. And he didn't have any choice anyway.

'You have a fever, Mr. Gold,' she said putting weird automatic thermometer into his ear. 'However it's completely normal after a heart attack and you're getting antipyretics already. Now, you won't be allowed today to get up, though you'll start sitting in the chair tomorrow. Today I'm still helping you with everything.'

The next minutes fully deserved a forgetting potion. Somehow yesterday, when his brain was conveniently muddled, such things were infinitely less embarrassing and easier to perform. Gerda did everything like she was going to punish him, not sparing him any discomfort or embarrassment. He sighed in relief when Gerda attached new electrodes to his chest, adjusted something on his cardiac monitor and mercifully left. He stayed as stoical as he could, not allowing her to see him scared, but now he wanted only to hug Belle and cry.

He slept for some time, restlessly, because he knew that any moment Snow Queen could come and he hoped that Belle too. But when he finally heard sharp clacking of heels, it wasn't his doctor or Belle.

'Zelena,' he whispered horrified and tried to get up. But he was too weak and tangled in medical equipment. Trapped again, helpless, with that witch hovering over him. Zelena didn't waste time, she quickly did something with his cardiac monitor and immediately came close. Only Belle was allowed to get that close. His heart was beating at some irrational speed now and still quickening, the beeping of the monitor only furthering his panic.

'We don't have much time, my dear Rumple,' she crooned in a sickeningly sweet voice and ran a hand through his hair. He couldn't stop the small whimper. 'I'm here to make a deal. I have something you need. Do you know what I'm talking about?'

'Elixir...'

'Very good, my dear Rumple. And I'm willing to trade it,' she whispered directly into his ear, he felt her warm breath on his skin. She proceeded to lay her hand over his heart, spreading her fingers, and he was like paralyzed. 'Though I could simply rip out that little lump of coal that you call your heart and demand everything. But where would be the fun in that? I prefer having you comply out of your free will.' She flashed a toothy smile at him. 'So, you give me your precious Dream Mirror and I will give you the Elixir of the Wounded Heart. I wasn't able to find the mirror during my little break-in to your lovely shop, even though I searched absolutely everywhere. So?' She rubbed his chest for greater effect. 'Maybe we should seal that deal like we used to?' she added, moving her hand from his chest to his stomach.

'How are you even alive?' he managed to say, trembling, before she touched him even lower.

'Stalling, aren't you? Well, you need something more to kill the Wicked Witch of the West than to stab her flesh, even with a kris dagger.'

'The brooch?'

'Smart, little Rumple.' Zelena rubbed his belly and petted his hair with the other hand. He started to feel seriously lightheaded and his heart felt so wrong. The monitor was beeping like crazy. Zelena noticed it too and focused on the screen for a moment. 'Seems like you're going to trigger the alarm any time, good thing that it has disabled elevated heart rate and other warnings. Well, answer me before you'll have arrhythmia and the code team crash our sweet reunion. Deal or do I have to use more tiresome methods?'

'No deal.' She didn't know that Regina, in the moment of inspiration, cast a spell on him to prevent anyone but her ripping his heart out. Zelena hovered over him, so close that he felt her breath on his face.

'Trying to be a hero? Like your poor, stupid, dead son?'

He tried to respond to make her shut up, but he was already losing consciousness. Was he dying? Going back to the Vault? Or would he see Bae? Would Dark One kill Zelena first and finally? Would Belle and others survive? An alarm finally went off, the words 'code blue' said in a mechanical, cold voice and then there was only blackness.


He looked worse, much more pale and worn. Oxygen mask replaced the cannula. Still, Belle believed the doctor, when she said that arrhythmia and cardiac arrest shouldn't be that much of a setback for now. What was worse was the warning that such arrhythmias were often a result of stress on the scarred and irritated heart muscle. And Rumple had so much stress in life.

She sat as close as possible and caressed his hair until he started to wake. Then, without a warning, he jerked violently, opening his eyes in what looked like blind panic.

'Rumple! Hey! Calm down!'

His eyes were darting to all sides, but after a while his gaze settled on her.

'Shh. It's okay. You had a nightmare? My poor Rumple.'

He sobbed, the sound muffled by the oxygen mask, and reached for her with both hands, pulling her down, embracing her like a scared child would. She held him as close and strong as she could, muttering calming nonsense until he stopped crying. Then she pulled back and looked at him closely.

'Rumple, it's okay...'

He shook his head and pulled off the mask to speak.

'She was here. Zelena. She was here!'

'She's not here, Rumple. You had a nightmare.'

'No! Belle, she was here, she was real! It was before I... whatever happened.'

'You had bad arrhythmia, the ventricular tachycardia that set off the alarm and then ventricular fibrillation right when the doctor came.' Belle concentrated on getting the names right. She would look them up later in a book. 'The doctor said it's one of the possible complications from heart attack. But you'll be okay, though you have to rest and take care of yourself.'

They brought him back. She tried to block the mental image of white coats and blue scrubs hovering over her Rumple, shocking him with defibrillator like in the movies. She probably won't be able to enjoy medical films anymore after today.

'Yes, whatever, but it was because she was here. She... she spoke about Bae...'

'Shh.' Belle embraced him again, when new tears flowed. 'I believe you. I'll ask Regina to set protection spells. But now try to calm down for me, okay? Can you do that for me, Rumple?'

He nodded, trying to breathe more slowly.

'That's good, Rumple,' she smiled. 'That's good. Close your eyes. I'm here. You're safe.'

'Call Regina,' he muttered. 'Ask her to come. Please, this is important.'

Belle sighed, but obediently fished her by Advertise"> by Advertise"> phone out of the bag. Regina agreed to come in an hour.

'Are you sure about Zelena, Rumple?'

He looked at her desperately.

'I am. She was here. So close, she was...' he stammered, 'touching me. She just came here, I don't know why no one stopped her, she must have teleported here...' He was taking large gulps of air now, shaking again.

'Shh, shh, Rumple, slow down. You're safe now.' She tried to get him to put the oxygen mask back on, but he pushed away her hands.

'No. No, I'm not. And neither are you. I need to get rid of that bloody cuff.'

'Blue won't take it off. And it will just... corrode your heart quicker. We can't have that. We'll figure out what to do with Zelena.'

Rumple looked away, biting his lips, clearly trying not to cry.

'Rumple...'

'No, Belle... She... She has to be killed. She's too dangerous. She...'

'Rumple, don't be scared. We'll manage her.' She wanted to pet his hair but he pulled away angrily.

'And what, give her a second chance? Let's give her a happy ending altogether, surely she deserves it, she did so much good! Let's give her the dagger and the whole town to rule over!'

'Rumple!'

'What?! It's not as if anybody cares!'

'How can you say that? Of course I care!'

'You do? Then why...' His voice broke and he covered his face with his hands, pulling on wires and tubes. Belle gently untangled them and pried his hands away. Then she reached for tissues and dabbed at tears flowing down his cheeks.

'Why what, Rumple?'

'Why she's more important than me?' he whispered brokenly.

'That's not... Oh, Rumple,' Belle scooted closer, putting her arms around him. 'That's not true. You're more important. Of course you are.'

'I'm sorry. I didn't mean... It's okay. I wanted to say... She can't be more important than Bae. She can't...' He was practically begging, looking at her with so much anguish. 'Bae, my boy, he's... I can't let him go away without doing something. She killed him and I couldn't stop her. And then I was forced to leave her be, unharmed. And dangerous.'

Belle couldn't stop tears and she didn't even try.

'Rumple, I didn't want you to feel unimportant like that. I'm sorry. I just didn't want you to be a murderer.'

'I know, sweetheart.'

'I didn't think that being under the curse, you may not be able to react differently. I just assumed that you can do anything, because I wanted us to be happy. Why didn't you explain to me? The curse, your heart, what you felt about Zelena? I had to drag every bit of information out of you and it still was so little.'

'You were happy,' he said simply. 'I wanted you to be happy. What would I be worth if I couldn't make you happy? I've already let Bae down.'

Belle frowned and squeezed his hands tighter.

'Then remember, Rumple, it makes me happy if you come to me with your troubles, open and honest, without shame, and I love to be able to help you or just be with you when it's difficult. That's being together. That's love. You don't have to do everything by yourself. You can count on me. Do you understand?'

He was looking around, avoiding her eyes.

'I... I don't know. It's... so different. And too good to be true.'

'It is true,' she reached out again and held him close. 'It's very, very true. And I'm all for making sure that Zelena can't harm anybody. Perhaps we could toss her out of the town and Emma can deliver her to some maximum security prison? But I don't want us to become murderers. It's for our, your sake, not her. She's not worth it. She's worth only to be forgotten forever, with her sick desires and jealousy unfulfilled, so she can learn that she can't take anything from others by force just because she wants to.'

Rumple smiled weakly.

'Thank you, Belle. I feel a bit better. I'm sorry for accusing you of not caring.'

'Don't apologize, I am really sorry. Just... let's make a deal. You can come to me with everything and I promise to never turn you away.'

'And vice versa, Belle. If there is something I can do for you...' He looked at her with such an open expression of love that it was breathtaking.

'Be with me,' she smiled immediately. 'Get better, talk to me. Don't worry, we'll manage all the problems, we've come so far. Regina will be here soon, we'll be mercilessly forced to think practically and plan some action.'

She was rewarded with a snort and she smiled even wider. There was still hope for them.


Regina appeared in the middle of their teary kiss and her expression oscillated between approving and disgusted for several moments. She rewarded Belle with a 'told you so' look and proceeded to business not minding Belle bristling.

'What do you need, Gold?'

'Your dear sister paid me a visit. She wants the Dream Mirror from me and we need to know what for.'

Regina frowned.

'I'll set protection spells over your room. They won't let anyone wielding dark magic in. What is it about that mirror?'

'It's companion piece to Snow Queen's mirror. It shows you things that you regret, the happy alternatives that will never be.'

Regina looked at him intently with her brows risen.

'No doubt she could watch the whole alternate lifetime for herself, but what else? Do you think she has some plan to make it real?'

'I think so. She wouldn't be satisfied by watching. But I don't know of any way it's possible.'

'We need more research on both mirrors,' said Belle. 'Regina, will you help us?'

The queen looked a bit surprised, but didn't protest.

'I'll bring my books from the vault. Let's meet at your house after visitor's hours, bookworm. I'll tell Emma what happened, she should intensify her search for Zelena. And I'll talk to the Snow Queen about her mirror.'


Regina left, but Belle stayed with him. It was still too much to comprehend. She stayed through the whole day, through doctors, nurses, checking out and pathetic hospital meals made for people on diet. How this could be okay with her?

And yet, it made him happy that the blue bug insisted on the cuff. He had Belle for longer. He was able to love Belle with the remnants of his human heart for just a little more time.

'Rumple? You're somewhere far away.'

'I'm sorry, sweetheart.'

She petted his hair.

'Will you tell me what you're thinking?'

Right. They've promised each other to actually talk. He sighed, fiddling with the IV line.

'I’m thinking about how happy I am to have you. I never thought that... that an old coward such as me can be loved by such a woman.'

'I love you, Rumple. I really do. And you are attractive to me, you know that,' she smiled pointedly. 'Being temporarily in hospital doesn't change that a bit. And I wish you'd stop referring to yourself as a coward.'

He smiled sadly.

'I am a coward, Belle, this is a fact. All these years ago, when everybody was fighting, I ran away.

'But you would have died. You said that yourself, what good would that be? You've returned home because of Bae, not because you were scared. It doesn't make you a coward.'

Gold shook his head, still smiling, this time at the memory of baby Bae, so small, so wonderful.

'Don't tell me you don't understand, Belle. You know what Ogre's Wars were like from your own experience. Every fight bought some time for other people, however meaningless it might have seemed for those who were dying. The defeat meant death of everybody anyway, Bae included. But then, our village was far away from the front lines. Bae wasn't in immediate danger from the ogres. He was in danger of growing up without a father.' Gold paused, took a deep breath. 'When I was walking back home, I've seen many families with small children. So close to the battles. But then, each and every time, I turned my eyes away and thought of my son.'

Belle sighed and held him tighter.

'I understand what you’re saying, Rumple. You're right, I've seen the war, though not from the battle lines...’

'And yet,' he cut in, 'you were so much braver than me and really did something to help your people. So much more selfless than your father and Gaston too, they were going to keep you to themselves, even if that meant no help from me.'

Belle loosened her hold on him to sit straighter and he involuntarily flinched, thinking she'd leave. But then Belle hovered over him, looking him straight in the eyes.

'Rumple, listen to me carefully, alright? You might have done all these things, but in result I have you here with me. And that matters. I am sorry for all the people that died then in the war. But I'm still happy you're here. And nothing you might say is going to make me love you any less. Do you understand?'

All he could do was to hide his face in the crook of her shoulder and cry like a small child.

'Belle, I don't think you really understand how my, our, life was back then. I don't blame Milah for leaving me. I blame her for leaving Bae. Because I really turned her life into hell. She was doing a man’s job in the house and yard. She didn't have any friends. She had a husband that was a failure and was responsible for all her troubles.'

'She didn't have to be cruel to you. She could have done many things in a different way.'

Gold shook his head.

'I know more than well that some things are too hard. Really. The only thing I blame her for is leaving Bae. Nothing more. The rest is my fault.'

Gold sighed, then smiled sadly and added before he thought better of it:

'Zelena said that too.'

'Zelena?' Belle asked alarmed. 'What could she know about it?'

'She made me talk' he admitted. 'When she had the dagger. Many times, she liked it. And she commented. Even - how to say it? Even more – accurately - than Milah herself.'

Belle looked shocked. And mad. He registered it with some delay, but nevertheless tried to press himself into the pillow and look smaller.

'I forbid you to believe anything that woman told you! Do you understand?'

He smiled despite himself, it felt so undeniably good to hear Belle concerned about him, telling him that Zelena wasn't right. But Zelena's comments hurt so much precisely because they were true.

'I am nothing without magic, Belle. What else can I do? Hop around on that pathetic lame leg and be a nuisance.'

'No, no, sweetheart.' Belle run her hand through his hair. 'I understand that Milah taught you that and she wasn't the only one, I know it's hard for you to think otherwise. But that's only what you believe, not what's true. What your curse wants you to believe. Isn't your curse using that for its own profit?'

'But Belle, I'm a poor spinner, who couldn't save his son from war, couldn't really support his family. I am nothing. With magic, though, I am someone to be reckoned with. To be respected. I am competent, I am the best. Do you really blame me for not wanting to be nothing? What else can I do if not magic?'

'But you don't have to do anything!' Belle cried desperately. 'You, we, are not poor. We have incomes that have nothing to do with you having magic!'

'No, Belle, our incomes are convenient side effect of me having magic. Of Regina casting the curse that was meant to lead me to Bae!' His voice broke for a moment. 'The fact that I’m a landlord is just a pretense. Everybody knows that it's magic and that without it I don't have any means, or rights really, to make them pay the rent. This world has its laws but we're not from this world and sooner or later people will realize that. My shop is chocked full of magic and anyway most of the things aren't mine either! And I'm not going to live only on your library salary!'

'Well, you won't have to, I really don't think that people would start a revolution and even if, that Regina would allow that. If you feel it's unfair you can lower the rent, that will make people happy. It's not as if you're doing absolutely nothing but collect the money, you have to make sure that all properties are in good condition and so on. And you're a lawyer. You can work as such more. We'll have enough income without your magic, that is not the point.'

'Perhaps it's not,' Gold sighed, defeated. 'But that doesn't change the fact that I'm useless, permanently so if we ever manage to break my curse.'

'Not useless to me, Rumple.' She shook her head, looking determined.

'Belle, I am so, so sorry, but that...' He felt his cheeks burning with shame. 'That is not enough. Please, please tell me you understand that. Surely I am not everything and enough for you. You have your books, your adventures, your own stories that you want to publish one day. And I... I have nothing. And this is only my fault, of course, but magic is the only thing I am good at... Though I suppose even that is a lie, it's not my magic as it is for Emma or Regina, it's just the curse...'

Gold sighed and turned away his head.

'I'm so sorry, Belle...'

He felt ashamed and apprehensive about pouring it out so openly. From the very beginning of their marriage Belle asked if he was alright so many times he had lost count. But he couldn't really talk to her. She would see what a coward he was, weak, pathetic man, who couldn't deal with his own mess and run to her crying as if he were a wee baby in need of a mother. Milah again came to his mind, he was thinking of her surprisingly often lately, uninvited, intrusive memories of Milah scolding him for so many things he'd done wrong.

Belle interrupted these thoughts simply by kissing him on the forehead.

'I don't have answers for all our troubles right now, Rumple.' She said seriously. 'But I am so, so happy you have told me. And I believe in you, Rumple. I know the need to feel competent and to have something to offer to loved ones. It will work out, I promise. We'll do this together. Okay?' And she patiently waited for him to look at her and nod weakly. Then she held him when he suddenly and unstoppably started to cry.


Belle left the hospital with a headache and a feeling of being drained. Rumple finally cried himself to sleep in her arms and she hated that she wouldn't be there when he woke up. This was so exhausting for her and for him it must have been so much worse. Perhaps they should postpone all serious talks for when he'll be back home, but Belle still believed that they needed to talk now, that without it Rumple would worry just as much only in silence, without her support. And of course she was afraid that when the worst is over he wouldn't want to talk at all.

She walked home very slowly, deep in thoughts, so she didn't notice the car behind her.

'Hello, bookworm,' Regina stopped and called to Belle. 'Get in, we have lots of work to do.'

Feeling crazy deja vu, Belle sat in the front seat. She spotted a stack of old books on the backseat.

'It seems,' said Regina slowly, not looking at Belle, 'that you two are finally working on your communication skills.'

Belle threw her indignant and dirty look. Regina didn't seem impressed.

'Henry taught me a very nice saying: poor communication kills. That's all about you and your husband.'

'Stop it, Regina. You're really not the one to speak, you tricked us in the Enchanted Forest and...'

'And I wouldn't have been able to do it if you two knew when it is a good time to share some things. It's your weakness and so you should work on it. This time it really is important.'

'You just want to use our True Love to keep yourself safe!'

'I do, yes, but not only myself and it's not going to hurt you, right? Quite contrary in fact. How is he?'

'Better somehow, despite that horrible witch, but exhausted. Doctor Andersen said he'd probably be good to go home in two or three days if nothing else happens.'

'Marvelous. So this night will be devoted to books and looking for possible use of the Dream Mirror. Do you have the mirror at home?'

'I don't know where it is. I saw it in the shop, but he might have hidden it somewhere else, because Zelena didn't find it. We'll ask him tomorrow.'

They went to Belle and Rumple's home and gathered all books in the living room. Belle brought also her notes.

'Do you want tea or coffee, Regina?'

'Peppermint tea if you have it.'

Belle raised her eyebrows, but didn't comment. She noticed though, that beneath the impeccable make-up, Regina seemed to have pale-greenish color. It made her more human, finally. Belle brought a plate of crackers as well.

Regina's energy and Belle's love of research got them through first five hours of mostly pointless work. But then Belle felt betrayed even by her precious books.

'I hope you're not going to cry, bookworm.'

'So what if I am?!' Belle screamed. 'You have no right to tell me what to do!'

Regina smiled unpleasantly.

'It seems no one does. But maybe you can consider following some advice? You know, not everything is about you. And there are many things you can't know how to manage.'

'And you're telling me this so I would listen to you?'

'No, bookworm, I'm telling you this so you can be more practical and less self-centered. You have an important task to do. I had the impression you wanted some serious challenge. Then go ahead, suit yourself.'

Belle wanted to just hit Regina and maybe she would if she could forget that the queen was pregnant.

'Leave, Regina. I don't think we can work anymore...'

'I am not going anywhere. Is this how you two deal with arguments? By leaving? Or maybe throwing each other out? No wonder you had no idea about Gold's heart or his attempt to kill Zelena.'

'Is that all you have to say? Gloating?'

Regina sighed.

'I am not trying to gloat. I am trying to make sure that my children and friends will be safe. And that includes helping you two get over yourselves.'

'You're not helping.'

Regina hesitated.

'Perhaps. But I'm doing all I can. I am scared, bookworm. Don't tell me you are not.'

Belle bit her lips and started to fidget with the book she held.

'I am,' she admitted. 'Rumple can die. And Zelena hurt him so much. And she's out there, free and dangerous. And she killed Bae. Rumple grieves for him so much. Why can't we cope better? Why it seems like no one else misses Bae or is mad at Zelena for killing him? Why did this have to happen? It's so unfair!' she sobbed. 'So wrong!'

It was a testimony to her exhaustion that she didn't even noticed when she started to cry in Regina's arms. The queen might have been a little awkward, but so solid and strong, so unlike Belle. She held her without protest.

'I can't do anything to fix it! I can't help Rumple! I can't... I'm so disappointed with myself!'

'Ain't we all disappointed with ourselves, bookworm? But you just have to do as much as you can.'

'And if it's not enough?'

'Then you live with the loss. There's no easy way. There are things we can't do. No point in losing time and energy over them, when there are things that are possible.'

Belle straightened up, red with embarrassment.

'Well, to be honest, I know it. But thank you anyway, for listening.'

Regina was looking at her thoughtfully.

'Perhaps I have to repeat myself: right now you can make a difference. You can keep your husband alive until we find a way to break or transfer his curse.'

'You... You want to break his curse?'

'Of course, don't you too?' Regina rolled her eyes. 'It's the only sure way out of this mess.'

'But the True Love's Kiss doesn't work here.'

'Indeed and that makes me think that there is more to the curse than it seems. But we found the connection between mirrors and the Red Fairy. And here,' Regina gestured to the book she held, practically crumbling to dust with age, 'is the link between Red Fairy and the first Dark One. Apparently he stole her power with the dagger.'

'What?!' Belle reached for the book, but Regina moved away.

'Careful, bookworm!' she smiled fondly. 'Gold wanted to get that book so many times that I lost count. I guess he knew what he was after, believe me, what's in there isn't legends but well-researched truth. But there's not much more, it only says that the first Dark One was so called sorcerer-king, Claudius.'

'Like Hamlet?'

'Excuse me?'

'I'm sorry, I just wonder if the story of Hamlet also has its roots in our original world. But no matter. We need some more information about Red Fairy then. I'll go to Blue tomorrow morning, before visitor's hours start.'

'Good, and I'll go to the Snow Queen. We'll meet tomorrow at the hospital, to talk with Gold, she also should be there as his doctor and previous owner of the Nightmare Mirror. I would take Henry to the hospital, he's really worried about his grandfather, but I'm sure Gold would agree it's best not to draw Zelena's attention to the kid. Now I'm really leaving, though, we need sleep.'

Belle wasn't sure if Regina meant herself and her or herself and her baby. All three of them perhaps.


Just as planned, the next day at midday, Gold's hospital room held a small war council, when everybody could exchange information to be able to coordinate their efforts. Charming and Emma with the help of Hook were still on a witch watch as Regina snickered, more out of frustration than any real sarcasm. Belle sat on the edge of Gold's bed, casually resting her hand on his and smiling at him, because he actually was sitting and was not looking as pale as the day before. Regina and the Snow Queen took two available chairs.

'Blue said that they don't speak of the Red Fairy,' said Belle with deep frustration. 'As in never. She is either their biggest disgrace or worst danger, or both. Even the Black Fairy isn't so mysteriously shielded.'

No one was particularly surprised, though Blue was aware of the danger from the Dark One and should have been more cooperative.

'Apparently, she'd prefer to toss Gold over the town line in case of emergency,' said dr. Andersen. 'She called me yesterday demanding as much, coupled with a request for a detailed report of his health. I didn't tell her anything of course, she should understand doctor-patient confidentiality.' she added looking at Gold.

'If need be, I'll toss you out of town myself, but not when the bug tells me,' said Regina. 'Let's concentrate on what we know. Doctor, you have the biggest experience with the Nightmare Mirror. Perhaps my sister wants both. Try to think how they can be used to supply someone with adoration from all universe and enslavement for everybody else.'

The Snow Queen blinked.

'Shattered Sight perhaps? But it's not a true spell, it's only a legend. That spell even made it to this world's fairy tale, though I don't know of any practical guidelines on how to cast it, and believe me, I really did my share of research on this mirror before I started looking for it. According to one old legend it's said to be possible with the Nightmare Mirror. If you want everybody to see the worst in the world and other people, you need to break the mirror and spread the darkness. But performed with the Dream Mirror perhaps it could enforce people to live in the regretted alternative, just as the spellcaster wants.'

'The mirrors aren't completely alike, each has many unique abilities. But Zelena may follow the same logic as doctor here.' Belle pulled out her notebook and flipped through the pages. 'I traced a spell called Shattering, in general it's used to break magical mirrors, for whatever reason.’

'You need a second mirror, preferably magical too, for that and I'm not sure if simply shattering the Dream Mirror would give the desired effect,' Gold interrupted. 'She must know something more and I wonder how she got her knowledge. Perhaps in Oz she had access to rare magical texts.'

'Do we need to secure the Nightmare Mirror before she can take it?'

'I'd say if she needed it, she'd have taken it already,' Regina replied.

'Kay has the mirror,' said the Snow Queen, distressed. 'He'd be her target again.'

'Again?'

Gold sighed and shortly explained to Regina his past encounter with Kay.

'Elixir of the Wounded Heart?' Regina picked up on the information immediately. 'Are you telling us that she has something that could prolong your time and you let it slide?'

'I'm not about to make a deal with her, dearie.'

Regina pressed her mouth into a thin line. Belle looked shocked, staring at him with wide eyes.

'Any other ideas where we could get some of this miracle?'

'In Walsh's shop in New York.'

'I'll talk to Emma then.'

'Please, do that,' Belle said, pleadingly. 'Tell Emma I'll do anything for her if she could go and look for it.'

'Someone should talk to Kay, please,' dr. Andersen said. 'He won't listen to me.'

'I'll tell Emma,' Regina offered. 'He listened to her in the past.'

Gold closed his eyes for a moment, calculating how long it would take for Emma to get back with the elixir. Who knew what Zelena might do in the meantime... Perhaps it could wait until Zelena was dealt with. He would have to do with just science.

'I think we need to end this meeting soon,' dr. Andersen said suddenly, enforcing said science on him. 'Mr. Gold needs to rest.'

'I feel fine,' Gold replied dryly, opening his eyes.

'I'll be the judge of that.'

'She's right, Rumple, you shouldn't overexert yourself,' Belle run her hand through his hair, feeling guilty for all the exhausting talks the day before. 'I'll see Regina out and be back in a moment.'

Then she stood up, as did dr. Andersen to check Gold's vitals. Belle followed Regina to the hall.


They looked at each other sharply.

'Alright, bookworm. I'll get Emma's help and go have another look at Zelena's house. Then we may consider a New York trip.'

'I'll go too. If she has any important books...'

'No you won't. You're needed here. I know enough about magic, those damned mirrors and my wicked sister to bring back whatever holds the clue.'

'And the elixir.'

'Of course, unless she's carrying it on herself. I fear that she might have taken from her house all important books and scrolls too. That place really looks deserted.'

'Do your best.'

'Sure.'

Regina disappeared. Dr. Andersen stopped Belle in the hall outside Rumple's room.

'How is he?' asked Belle, anxious. 'We've talked a lot yesterday... We needed that, but if it worsened his condition...'

'He's tired, but still on his way to recovery. And distressed, which isn't really surprising, but doesn't help either. Before he gets discharged I'll talk to you about changes in diet and lifestyle. For a few weeks he needs to take it easy.'

'I'll make sure he does.'

'That's good. I wanted to talk to you about something else, Mrs. Gold. About Gerda. She's changed. She treats me like a stranger since Marian died. I don't know why so suddenly... I fear that Kay told her something. I miss my boy. She used to understand that, but now she's growing more and more hostile towards me. Also, there's something else you should know. I talked to Mr. Gold and put another nurse in Gerda's place, now his condition is no secret anyway. Gerda admitted she turned down some of the alarms on his cardiac monitor. It's true that many of these alarms are false, that nurses in general are too often called to nonexistent emergencies, but she never should have done this and she will be punished. Moreover, she did that on her own, without consulting with me and explicitly because it was Mr. Gold. She wouldn't do it with any other patient. And that enabled Zelena to stay longer in his room.'

'She put my husband's life in danger.' Belle said gravely. 'Why are you telling me this just now?'

'She admitted it only this morning. I talked to Mr. Gold before our meeting. I hoped she would help me reach Kay, but now...'

Belle could see the toll it took on her, slumped shoulders and shadows under the doctor's eyes.

'I'm sorry, doctor. I really am.'

And Belle meant it. Snow Queen or not, dr. Andersen saved Rumple's life. She wished her the best. Gerda was cold towards her too, even before Marian's death. But apparently that was the last straw and now Gerda decided to stand with no one but Kay.

'She knows why I took the mirror. Kay knows it too. Well, not in details. But I never kept it a secret that I used it to defend my kingdom from ogres. It just had... side effects. Like any strong medicine.'

'I know. Rumple told me this. You were brave to search and use it.'

Belle smiled. The Snow Queen did what it took to defend her kingdom, just like herself. But maybe she had even more in common with Rumple - the aforementioned side effects of a curse taken out of goodwill. No wonder they seemed to understand each other and were willing to help each other as well.

'What about Kay?' Belle asked. 'Will he suffer from the same... side effects?'

'Only if he uses the mirror's magic. Not from simply having it. It's dark magic after all, though ice powers are strangely incoherent with other abilities. This is somewhat a mystery to me, considering that the Dream Mirror doesn't have anything like that. But using those dark, ice powers makes you closed up. It made me frightened. And one day, in panic, I accidentally froze my sister and her husband. And there's no day that I don't regret that... They were Kay's parents and this is what he can't forgive me. The mirror will cement his hatred.'

'Why didn't you discard the mirror once ogres were defeated?’ Belle had to ask. It was too close to Rumple's situation.

'At first I was afraid ogres will return. Then I wanted to use the power to do more good things. But then people around started to treat me like a threat and those powers were all the strength I had. After everything I did for them, after everything that I had to do to find the mirror in the first place. They wanted to isolate me, ungrateful bastards, and I lost control over what was meant to be self-defense. My sister and her husband got in the way, tried to calm me down, they were on my side. And then I had to run away, a murderer. I took baby Kay, I loved him so much and I couldn't bear to see him left alone among those people. We lived in an ice palace. When he ran away with the mirror, only a small lake was left of it.'

The Snow Queen paused, looking shocked she said so much.

'I'm not judging you, doctor,' said Belle quietly. 'I understand.'

'Thank you, Mrs. Gold. I must say I felt relieved when Kay stole the mirror. I was back to being a healer, I always had such abilities. Perhaps I should have raised Kay being one, but I was afraid of poverty. Mirror gave me a sense of safety, I felt I could take care of Kay better. I might have been mistaken though. Now I want to fix what can be fixed, if there is anything.'

Belle smiled again. Such a similar story...

'Thank you for telling me this, doctor. It means a lot to me.'


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