Next day they were planning to eat lunch together at Granny's. He could tell that Belle needed to have more contact with other people. For all her bookworm tendencies to get spirited away into whatever she was reading at the moment, she was a people person. She needed friends and talks and more diversity than he himself was able to give her. She told him as much herself in the Dark Castle, when she asked to at least know him. Well, now there was no reason to limit herself only to him.
Meanwhile he still had some time until lunch and he regretted it. From the very moment he walked into the shop this morning, his thoughts were going to one thing only – the Dream Mirror.
Zelena was his apprentice when he acquired it. She managed to catch him off guard and peek into the mirror. Once, but hoo boy, it was more than enough... He never let her look again.
As long as Bae was alive, only lost, Gold did his best to forget about the Dream Mirror altogether. But this was no longer the case, right? He managed to ignore it to this day too, despite the appearance of the twin mirror and all the research that they were doing with Belle. But he thought that today his resolve would end.
It wasn't as if he had anything to lose. Bae was dead. And even the Dream Mirror wasn't going to make him forget about Belle.
One day he would look into the Dream Mirror, though, and see Belle, he knew that. Perhaps then he would test if the Dream Mirror is capable of devouring someone.
Belle walked into the pawn shop a bit late and in hurry. It wasn't her fault that some people, who once were mice and birds, weren't capable of choosing books for themselves or respecting lunch hours. Nevertheless she felt bad about making Rumple wait for her. He really didn't need to wonder if something had happened to her or if she had decided that lunch with him wasn't important enough to her.
But the pawn shop was quiet, and Rumple wasn't in sight. Curious, and to tell the truth – suspicious, she went to the backroom.
Rumple was sitting at his desk, completely transfixed. He was staring into the mirror with a very ornate, silvery frame. Its surface was glowing and simmering, in a way that reminded her of television.
He didn't seem to hear her, even when she came closer. Was he doing this yesterday? Was that why he ignored her calls?
She laid one hand on his shoulder and he almost jumped, looking at her with wild eyes. The mirror clattered to the table.
'Hey, Rumple. What's this? Are you alright?'
'I...' he looked at the mirror, blushing. 'I'm sorry, Belle. It's time for lunch, right?'
'Yes, but I just came, it's alright. What were you doing?'
'It's the Dream Mirror...' he whispered, touching the frame reverently. Or as if afraid. 'I just... I didn't... I didn't want to... See, that's why I've hidden this thing deep in my vault. It devours people all the same, no matter that the physical form stays here.'
'You were looking at Bae?'
'I don't have any pictures of him... Even from his short time in Storybrooke. I don't have anything...'
Belle wrapped him in her arms.
'I know, Rumple. Maybe we can ask someone to draw a portrait of him? If you could show him Bae in the Dream Mirror?'
'Each person sees something different in the mirror, Bae would show only to me.'
'Then I'll ask Emma if she has any pictures of Bae. If she has, then we'll make copies.'
Rumple looked at her with gratitude. Belle smiled.
'Well, then maybe you'll put the mirror where it was and we'll go for that lunch? I'm starving.'
The diner was crowded, but they managed to find a booth for themselves. Granny was casting suspicious glares at Gold, but he ignored it as always, concentrating on Belle's smile. They were here for her.
Belle happily waved to many people – the dwarf Grumpy and his fairy girlfriend Nova (Gold loved how furious Blue was over this!), Robin Hood with his wife and son, Ruby of course, even Emma and Henry. She smiled in greeting again when someone entered the diner. Ah, Diana, or Gerda, another one of Belle's friends. But then Gold saw that Diana wasn't alone.
Kay spotted him too and looked straight at him as if wanting to attack. Well, if the boy was stupid enough to risk confrontation with the Dark One... But then Diana took his hand and steered him to the table.
'Rumple? What's wrong?'
'Nothing,' he sighed. Why should always be something wrong with him? Belle already seemed to think him weak and unstable. Well, she was wrong.
They ate mostly in silence, Belle looking at him as if she wanted to tell something, but ultimately decided not to. Perhaps it was for the best.
When they were on their way out, Kay rose from his seat before Diana could protest and stood in Gold's way.
'Rumplestiltskin,' he said instead of greeting, in a righteous, angry tone.
'I don't have time for you, boy, and I suggest you return to your seat quickly and quietly,' sneered Gold menacingly. He really didn't have any patience for the boy now.
Diana stood behind Kay, in a similar manner as Belle was standing behind him. They were in a crowded place, everybody already looking at them, and any second now Granny would show up to throw Gold out for disturbing her clients. Typical.
Suddenly Kay took a step toward him and whispered something, placing his hand on Gold's shoulder, squeezing hard.
Next thing Gold knew, Kay was lying on the floor with a stunned expression and before anybody reacted, Gold was already on his way to the door. He didn't stop, didn't look around, didn't check if Belle was going with him. He just needed to be away.
Belle caught up with him halfway to his shop. She was panting heavily and held her high-heeled shoes in her hand.
'Belle, you're barefoot!' he exclaimed. 'You're going to hurt yourself!'
'Well, I wouldn't be if you didn't storm out of the diner! What the hell, Rumple? Why did you stun the boy?'
She was angry. Oh, gods, did he mess it all up already? What was the correct thing to say now?
'Was he hurt?...' he asked finally in a small voice.
'No, just stunned and pretty angry at you and everybody else. He kept shouting that you want his mirror to do something bad. Do you, Rumple?'
'No! All this research we've been doing, you should know there is nothing I could use!'
'Use for what exactly?'
Oh, no, he told her so much more than he planned.
'For protection. Nothing offensive. Mirrors can be used as an alarm system of sorts, similar to how they can be used for communication.'
'You never mentioned that when we were doing the research. You told me we were checking the mirrors to be sure what to do if someone else would want to use them.'
He thought of protesting, telling he only had told her they should know as much as possible of an artifact that is now in their town. But she would be even more angry then.
'We... we agreed I don't have to tell you,' he blurted desperately. He had already lost control when talking to Kay, much as when he hit Belle days ago. He shuddered at the memory. And now Belle had him pinned and interrogated and he would lose control again, he was sure. If he hurt Belle then, he wouldn't be able to forgive himself.
Belle sighed heavily.
'Yes, we did. But you hurt him. You promised you wouldn't hurt anybody.'
'I... I didn't mean to,' Gold said quietly.
'How not? You used magic!'
'It was a reflex! You saw it, he grabbed my arm!'
'And that's enough? Rumple, this isn't normal. You want to tell me that you think it's justified or that you didn't control it, or what? Was it the same as when you hit me? But he didn't surprise you like I did...'
Gold looked around in panic. The street was empty, thankfully, if someone was there, Gold would simply teleport them home, risking even more of Belle's wraith.
'Rumple?' Belle urged. 'Answer me.'
'For a moment I didn't control it,' he admitted. 'Like when I hit you...'
'Oh Rumple...' Belle surprised him, hugging him tightly. Wasn't she angry with him?
'Rumple, that's just another reason you should talk to Archie. Regularly. I don't know what to do as well as he would.'
'I don't want to talk to anybody.'
'I know. But it's for the best.'
'Please, can we have this talk somewhere else? Not in the middle of the street?'
His tone was terse, he couldn't help it, even if he feared that Belle would feel hurt or angry. But she actually blushed.
'Yes, of course. I'm sorry, I should have waited with this until we were be back in the shop.'
They started moving, but the talk ended. No one wanted to say anything and no one seemed to know what to say. But at least Belle didn't seem angry anymore.
When they were cuddled together for the night, Belle could say clearly, that Rumple wasn't planning on sleeping just yet. And regretfully, it didn't have anything to do with more pleasant activities. After what happened at the diner and their row later, she wasn't surprised.
'What are you thinking about?' she asked quietly.
'Bae,' he admitted even less audibly.
'I miss him too. And it feels so wrong that he died. He died a hero, but it would be better if he didn't have to.'
If it were a book, it would be a really poor move on the author's part, she thought, even if the comparison felt a bit too frivolous. Yet, his death didn't make much sense. But then again, perhaps every death is like that to family and friends.
'Yes... It didn't make sense,' Rumple echoed her thoughts.
'It felt so random. So... cruel.'
'It should have been me. I should have stayed dead. It was al...'
'Rumplestiltskin!' Belle shouted, sitting up. 'Don't you dare talk like that!' Even in the dark, she could see his scared face, so she continued in a softer voice, but still with all the conviction she had. 'What should be is both of you alive, end of story. I don't want to hear any nonsense of you being better off dead. It wouldn't be better.'
Her voice cracked a bit and she lied back down, holding her husband very close.
'I love you, Rumple. Do you hear me?'
'I love you too, Belle,' came shy, quiet answer. He kissed her neck. 'Let's not talk about that anymore.'
She didn't know that he again remained awake all night, holding her and replaying in his head all their happy moments in Fairy Tale Land and in Storybrooke over and over. Just like every night.
Next day, when Rumple went to his shop, Belle went to talk to Archie. She felt a bit awkward doing it behind her husband's back, but she needed advice. Professional advice. It was all for Rumple, anyway.
'It's hard,' she sighed, sitting comfortably in Archie's office. 'He's in pain, he's grieving, but he can't share it. Only a bit, and it's so strained anyway. I feel that there are things he's not telling me about, a whole lot of things. And it makes me distrustful in a time when I want to be there for him.'
Archie listened patiently and Belle was grateful for that. Of course, she could talk to Ruby, but even with her she sometimes felt that she had to defend Rumple. Diana or Marian were obviously out of question because of that. But Archie wasn't judging anyone, nor Rumple, nor her, even when she was talking about things she didn't know how to cope with.
'It's just so damn hard!' she sighed finally. 'And I know that Rumple is the one who was through hell, but it's still hard!'
'Of course it is, Belle. There's no need to be ashamed of anything. Everyone needs support, not only the ones who had it worst. If you can see what is difficult for you and can look for support, you will also help him better.'
Belle smiled at him.
'Thank you, Archie. I just... sometimes I feel like a sheltered princess in comparison to him. Totally naive and not knowing how it is to have real problems.'
'But you were through some hardships of your own. Being kidnapped, losing your memory, losing your husband. And earlier going on with the deal with Rumplestiltskin whom you didn't know yet. Shall I go on?'
'Perhaps, but it never felt as hard as what I can see in Rumple's eyes. Frustrating like hell, yes, like heroine from a XIX century novel. Though then at least something was happening to me, but this is such a twisted way to look at things... But even when he died, I still knew there was a way to bring him back. And there was. Too bad that Bae had to pay the price, we should have researched it better, found a way to sidestep it... And there always were people for me. Rumple, Ruby, Leroy, Mulan, Ariel... I had support and unconditional love and it was somehow enough, but for Rumple it seems to not be... I didn't have such severe reactions when Regina imprisoned me. Rumple fainted the other day when he... when I... when we had a row and I tried to use the dagger. He forgave me, but I still feel guilty.'
'But you found your way through this. That looks promising.'
'Yes, at least... I wish Rumple had more friends, not just me. That he tried to get closer with Henry. How did your session with him go?'
'We've talked a bit. But you understand, that I can't repeat anything?'
'Yes, of course.' Belle blushed. 'I'm just worried. He didn't seem to believe that anything would change. Maybe that's what makes the difference. I always had hope, always believed in myself. Though lately I sometimes doubt... Myself and him alike. Once, breaking up with Rumple gave me even more sense of control and agency. Today I don't think it would give me any more than I already have, but if he does something evil again... What else can I do?'
'You doubt that you would be able to come up with a solution that is satisfying?'
'Yes. Something to both change him and let me stay with him. He's my true love.'
'And so far your love, and his love for his son, made him sacrifice himself for you. I'm no expert at magic, but as awesome as this is alone, it must be even more incredible taking his evil curse into account. I dare to say that there is a good chance it won't ever come to what you are fearing.'
'Then you, as well as him, would have to think for yourselves what is at stake and what is important. Belle, he was controlled and that was perhaps one of the most traumatizing parts, aside from his son's death. Now he has his choices back, and it wouldn't do him any good if he feels that you are trying to control him.'
'Yes, I understand. I just want him to be okay and to be honest with me. I want it too much perhaps. I'm worried, Archie, and it breaks my heart to see him like that. You heard what happened at the diner?'
'That he had a fight with Kay?'
'Yes. The part when he threw Kay on the floor... Well, he said it was a reflex, that he didn't really intended to do that. And I'm not sure if I'd be more worried if he did it on purpose.'
'Did Kay do something to trigger it?'
'Kay laid his hand on Rumple's shoulder, got so close, whispered something. It seemed to be enough.'
'I don't know what exactly happened during the year when your husband was held captive by Zelena. But perhaps this is the cause. Perhaps what happened with Kay was a flashback of some sort.'
'What can you advise me? What am I supposed to do with that?'
'Well, you need to be patient. Not everything he's doing is going to be logical to you. Try to coax him into talking, not bottling up his emotions. He's probably too embarrassed and afraid to talk about it, it's not going to be easy. Repeat to him that you would listen to anything with respect, that you won't think any less of him for whatever he'd say. And tell him that if he wants to, he's always welcome here to talk about anything.'
'I will. Thank you, Archie.'
Belle managed somehow to coax him into going for lunch to Granny's again next day. Truly, his little wife had him wrapped around her little finger. There were many things he wasn't capable of doing, but if he could, he would do anything for her.
They were almost there, turning into the diner's yard, when Robin with his family were walking out of it. Roland was happily yelling, the thief was laughing, and together they created more chaos than it should be possible. And then Marian bumped into him and Belle, he almost lost his balance, heard screams and next thing he saw was the thief's wife lying prone on the ground before him.
In the deafening silence that followed, Roland's cries were loud as a firefighter car's siren.
People started to pour out from the diner, others were stopping on the streets and soon a whole crowd of fairy tale characters were surrounding them. Robin cradled limp Marian in his arms, trying to wake her up but to no avail.
'Rumple?' whispered Belle. 'What have you done?'
He felt like in a dream. Did he just kill her? Roland was looking at him in terror, clinging to his mother's body.
'Let me see her,' sounded a woman's voice and Blue Fairy made her way through the spectators. People were watching but no one else dared to come closer, not to the Dark One who just killed. They weren't scurrying away only because they believed in anonymity of being part of the crowd.
Blue kneeled down and moved her hand over Marian.
Behind Gold, Belle exhaled loudly. Blue turned to him.
'What have you done, Rumplestiltskin?' she asked sternly. 'What curse did you throw at her?'
Gold managed only to shake his head in a protesting gesture.
'I can't wake her up with my magic,' continued Blue in a cold, demanding voice. 'Tell me what have you done and why.'
'I didn't mean to,' Gold managed to say. 'Let me try...'
He made a step towards Marian, but Robin's outraged shout stopped him.
'Like hell! I'm not gonna let you come any closer to my wife and child! Why did you have to do it, Gold?!'
'I didn't... I'm sorry! '
Whole Storybrooke could see now the fearsome Dark One losing control, almost crying and apologizing. Still Robin didn't look convinced.
'Are you saying that you don't control your magic?' asked Blue Fairy in a maddeningly calm voice. In a distance an ambulance's siren could be heard.
'Yes,' admitted Gold and felt Belle's arms around him, silently supporting him.
'Then I think you should be controlled,' said Blue in a logical conclusion. 'With this.'
Black bracelet appeared in her hand. Yes, of course she would propose it.
'Never,' he said, almost shouted.
'You, Rumplestiltskin, are a danger to this town,' Blue also raised her voice. 'You just almost killed an innocent woman. If you truly didn't want to do it as you claim, then you know the bracelet is necessary. Your wife can't predict all the loopholes you'd use to properly control you with the dagger. If you had this planned on the other hand, well, we won't let you hurt anyone else.'
'And how do you propose to make me?' sneered Gold. 'I had the dagger and I am much more powerful than all the town's magic users. You won't get me.'
And with that, he disappeared.
Belle was shaking with nerves when she finally parted with the angry crowd, Blue Fairy and Emma, who was a true life saver now. Without her, Belle wouldn't be able to reason with either Blue Fairy or people of Storybrooke.
Now she could finally search for Rumple, terrified of what she'd find. He might have gone to the shop or home, home was more probable, but the shop was closer. And of course, he wasn't answering his phone, even if she called him time after time without a pause.
She half-expected the shop to be only pathetic remains, broken glass, torn up books and so on, but it was quiet and tidy, without a trace of Rumple's presence. So she headed home, glad that Rumple gave her spare keys to his car, still parked outside the shop, and that she had Lacey's memories of how to drive. She doubted if she could somehow manage to fit driving lessons in between all crises.
Home was terrifyingly dark and quiet too. With her heart in her mouth, she sprinted upstairs, to check if Rumple returned and if not, to drive to his cabin in the woods.
Bedroom was dark, but in the fading light of the day, she saw a dark, limp shape on the bed. Rumple was lying still, curled in on himself under the blanket, and Belle's heart broke into tiny pieces. She sincerely would prefer him to destroy everything instead of lying here so helplessly.
'Rumple,' she whispered sitting down on the bed and reaching towards him. 'Are you awake?'
He opened his eyes immediately. She couldn't read anything from his gaze.
'It's alright, Rumple,' she said awkwardly, rubbing his arm. 'It's alright.'
'It's not,' he whispered back. 'You know it.'
'I persuaded Blue to not press the issue,' Belle said. 'Emma came, she helped to calm everybody. Marian was taken to the hospital, she'll have good care.'
'I could have killed her.'
'She is your friend. How come you don't hate me for what I've done?'
'I couldn't ever hate you Rumple. And I know it wasn't your fault. It was the same that happened with Kay. A flashback. Both accidents happened when someone got too close to you. Rumple, I wish you talked to me. About that missing year. About what Zelena did to you.'
'She controlled me,' Rumple gave a muffled sob. 'Completely. She used me to do things I wouldn't ever... I let her kill Bae...'
Belle was gently petting his hair.
'Perhaps I can't know how it is to be under the dagger's control. But I know that Bae's death wasn't your fault.'
'It was. He gave his life for mine. But he didn't want to do it. He wanted to live. It shouldn't have happened.'
'Of course he wanted to live, but he loved you. You didn't wrong him. It was Zelena.'
'Zelena was my apprentice. You know that. If not for me, she wouldn't know anything about magic. Anything about me and anything about Bae.'
'But she was your apprentice only because you needed someone to cast the curse, to find Bae. And you did find him. He knew you love him. And you know he loved you.'
She lied on the bed beside Rumple and gently embraced him.
'You have nothing to be ashamed of, Rumple. What happened today was Zelena's fault and pure accident on your part.'
Rumple whispered something into her neck.
'Blue was right, I'm dangerous.'
'No, Rumple. She wasn't right. I won't let you be controlled. I wish for us to be normal, non-magical couple, but not like that, not like control and punishment. Not when I know how scary it is for you. This must be the result of your work and your choice.'
Rumple actually started to cry.
'Thank you, Belle...'
'Blue is still sure she's right, but Emma helped us to reach a compromise. Blue told me a simple spell to summon the anti-magic cuff and I promised that I will use it if I have to. But my definition of 'have to' is very different than hers. Instead I want you to go to Archie for regular therapy sessions. And to talk to me. You see yourself how important it is for you to get better. Your magic really is powerful and that is a responsibility you have to everybody.'
'Good, I'm glad.'
They were slipping into exhausted slumber, when Belle's phone rang.
They both practically jumped on the bed, Gold releasing his hold on Belle. He knew. This was a phone call from the hospital. Marian was dead. There was absolutely no other reason that anyone would call Belle at this hour on a day like this.
Belle quickly scrambled out of the bed and reached for her purse abandoned on the floor.
'It's Diana,' she said.
Was it good or bad? Diana was Belle's friend. But she worked at the hospital and was Marion's friend as well. Maybe Belle didn't hate him, but Diana surely did.
'Hello?' Belle sounded steady and neutral, not cheerful as usual. Gold sighed and buried his face in the pillow, inhaling scent of his wife's perfume, listening keenly and nervously.
'Diana... calm down, please... Yes, I know. Yes, me too!' now Belle sounded angry and sad, and heartbroken, and it was all his fault. 'Diana, be reasonable! Of course that's not true! No!... Well, how about helping everybody, not just... Diana!'
Belle sighed angrily and sat on the bed.
'She broke the connection.'
Belle wasn't looking at him.
'Marian died, right?'
'Yes,' Belle nodded and started to cry.
Gold didn't say anything, because, really, what could he say? There was no way to repair that. Of all deaths he was responsible for, this one hurt very badly. But not the most. Nothing would hurt like Bae's death hurt. Except if he'd kill Belle...
'Diana accused you of being in cahoots with Evil Queen,' Belle said through tears. 'How could she!'
'Regina didn't have anything to do with it,' Gold said quickly. Right, Marian was Regina's rival. But he doubted that these days the former queen would welcome such a solution to her love life problems.
The phone rang again.
'I don't know this number...' Belle stared at the phone. 'Oh well... Belle Gold, speaking.'
Gold felt his heart flutter at Belle's words. She still called herself his surname.
'What?!' she practically screamed at the phone. 'You can forget it! This wasn't his fault, I'm not going to punish him like this!'
Belle cut the connection herself this time.
'It was Blue!' she exclaimed. 'She just demanded to put you in the cuff. Said she enchanted it so only she could get it off.'
Gold's voice cracked, but he looked pleadingly at his wife.
'Belle... don't do this to me, please...' He frantically searched for words to actually try to explain to Belle how he felt about this. It's control, it's offensive, it's unfair, it's trauma and it's humiliation. 'Belle...' He looked at her pleadingly, begging to not put him in such position. He already felt like a coward, fighting off flashbacks of Zelena's capture along with memories of his miserable life in the Frontlands.
'Shh, Rumple, I won't. Nothing changed.' She put her hands on both sides of his face, caressing him softly with her thumbs. 'You didn't want to hurt Marian. This was an accident. This was Zelena's and only Zelena's fault. Do you hear me? I don't care what Diana or Blue or anyone else says. You won't be handcuffed and controlled.'
She tucked the blanket over him, not stopping the gentle caresses.
'Try to sleep, Rumple. You'll feel better in the morning. I'm here, I'm not going anywhere.'
He tried to protest, remembering suddenly that he didn't take the elixir that helped him to avoid sleeping. He closed his eyes, pretending that he's falling asleep, but did his best not to.
Belle sighed, watching her husband’s unmoving form, and gently caressing his hair. All what had happened returned, every awful memory and stinging knowledge that this was serious.
When Rumple disappeared from the diner’s yard, she tried to calm people down, for suddenly everyone was shouting about a murderous beast who would kill them for nothing. She almost saw the mob with the forks and torches marching to their pink house. She tried to reason with them, explain that after what Zelena did, Rumple needed help himself. She hated having to shout it out, to tell strangers what her husband would guard as a secret, but then again, he admitted it himself earlier, with Blue and everyone present.
Emma helped to calm people down, promised to take care of it. She and Blue talked relatively calm compared to the crowd.
But this memory had her freezing in terror too. Granny was there, helped to dissipate the crowd, but throwing in one comment that Belle couldn't forget. 'Of course, he may need help, girl. But let's talk about helping him to cope AFTER he can't use his magic to accidentally kill us all. He's dangerous, and you know it.'
Belle knew it. What Rumple experienced might have been someone else's fault and out of his control, as usual when coping with trauma. But his powers were also real, dangerous, and without comparison to the possible reactions of anyone else in such position.
Emma and especially Blue were clearly agreeing with Granny, even if Emma was willing to be less strict in the solutions. Thank gods that the dagger was back in Rumple's possession and out of question here. But Blue framed it all as if Belle was now responsible for the fate of the whole town and perhaps more.
She just hoped that keeping him away from people, till Archie would be able to help with therapy, will be enough.
He felt the curse's grasp around his heart. Dark tendrils, almost physically palpable. After his resurrection, the time in vault and all the months spent with Zelena without control over himself, they were almost as strong as right after he took the curse, but he himself was weaker.
But now it wasn't the mad rush of newly discovered power he felt then. Nor the breathtaking possibilities of never again being the coward and the victim. Now it was a burden, like a heavy lump on his shoulder and sooner or later he was going to break.
The curse whispered to him. It would be so easy to teach them all lessons. Make it clear that opposing the Dark One is equal to death. Even Blue wouldn't win with the Dark One's power. Then he wouldn't have to fear anything.
But he already felt so guilty. And despite that, Belle was with him. And he wanted her to be with him as long as possible. Killing anyone, giving in to the curse, was the best way to push her away.
He tried to reason with the curse. Killing anyone now would be equal to showing that it bothers him at all. That he's afraid of what they could do. Better to studiously ignore them, as if they were far beneath his attention.
He tried not to, didn't really have any right for it, but he did feel sorry for himself. The curse was strong, and he's been strong for such a long time, longer than other Dark Ones, thanks to Bae and Belle. Ah, but now he was weaker, after all that Zelena put him through. After being hurt. After sacrificing himself for people he loved and ending up losing his son. After being really alone and left to himself, except by Belle and Bae, but still, Bae was dead and Belle was already so many times in danger from him. And he lost his confidence. Confidence in being able to control himself and what happens to him and Belle. And he felt so guilty for all the bad things he did, a coward giving up to the curse. He still didn't believe that Belle or Bae had truly forgiven him. Who and why ever would?
Belle was lying limp on the floor.
Gold's heart raced. There was no blood, but the remnants of magic were easily detectable in the air. Slowly he managed to rethink what happened. He was in Zelena's cage. Zelena was getting closer, reaching for him, touching him. He was trying to defend himself.
This was a nightmare, and the very reason why he was taking elixir to not sleep.
He must have used magic in his sleep and Belle got caught in the crossfire.
Perhaps she touched him trying to calm him, help him, and now...
He quickly got out of the bed, fell to his knees next to Belle, scooped her up into his arms.
She was cold, she didn't breathe. And it wasn't the sleeping curse.
'Belle...' His voice cracked, tears were flowing freely. He did it. He killed Belle. All what was left was to teleport himself to the town line, cross it, and kill himself there. He still had his gun.
But first he would look at Belle once more.
'Rumple! Rumple, please, wake up!'
It was dark and he couldn't breathe through the tears.
'I'm so sorry,' he cried. 'You should have left me. I should have left... Oh Belle...'
'Rumple, I'm here and I'm fine. It was a nightmare.'
No, it couldn't be. It would be too wonderful. The dream was so real...
He lied for a moment in silence, taking in the dark room, his very alive and concerned wife hovering over him, the soft sheets and pillows, drenched in sweat now.
'Belle, the cuff!' he exclaimed suddenly. 'Do it. You must. I am dangerous to you.'
'What? Rumple, no, I said I won't do it to you.'
He sat up, caught Belle's arms.
'You must,' he said again. 'Please, Belle. I want it. If I hurt you I wouldn’t be able to live with this. I would kill myself then. You must be safe. That was what my magic was for. But now that magic is the danger. The cuff, Belle. Please. Now.'
'Let's go back to sleep, Rumple. We'll talk about this again in the morning, alright?'
She was stroking his arms lightly, distracting him. But he shook his head stubbornly.
'Please, Belle. Please. We must do it now, if we wait till morning, I won't do this. I'll lose all courage. Do it.'
Belle looked as if on the verge of crying. But she summoned the cuff.
'Put it on.' Gold bared his left wrist. 'Go on.'
'Are you sure? Only Blue will be able to take that off. She said that even your dagger won't cut it. And... and cutting... your hand off won't work either... That she added some ancient fairy magic.'
'I'm sure,' Gold said softly and quietly. 'You are more important.'
Belle's lips quivered and a few big tears rolled down her cheeks. But all the same she clasped the cuff on his wrist.
He felt as if someone knocked the breath out of him.
'Rumple?!' Belle shrieked. 'Rumple?!'
He was lying on the pillow, he must have fallen. But everything was already clearer, except for the distinct lack of magic, unsettling but also comforting. Now he wouldn’t hurt Belle.
'I'm okay,' he whispered. 'Let's go back to sleep.'
He would have to sleep now, but he'd gladly endure all nightmares. His chest felt tight, he would have to start taking the medicines Snow Queen prescribed for him. But even if the worst happened, he preferred to die as himself, remembering and loving Belle, knowing that she is safe and unharmed.