Heroes and Villains
Nine years later…
For twelve long years since her arrival, Ruby Elizabeth Lucas, daughter of the Dark One Rumpelstiltskin, had been treated like a princess.
At least she felt like one in the company of her surrogate mother, Princess Belle of Avonlea.
For years there had been stories, games, chores when she was old enough, and always a kind word and comfort when Ruby hurt herself, or felt upset.
Belle, Princess turned maid to Rumpelstiltskin, knew that his daughter wasn’t hers, but every moment each time she spent with Ruby, made their bond of love grow as if they were truly mother and daughter.
Rumpelstiltskin, the darker side of him wanted nothing to do with either child…
However, his softer, fatherly side warmed each time he secretly watched Belle with Ruby.
Never had he dreamed that she would take to ostensible, instant motherhood as she had, least of all to his own daughter.
Though care for Ruby had taken most of her concentration added to that of her additional chores when Ruby first arrived, Rumpel had subtly made changes to Belle’s chore load, lightening it as much as he could without her notice…at least, at first.
It hadn’t taken long for Belle to catch on what her master had done for her; she had said nothing, and though it was appreciated, she continued on with her chores never once complaining.
This action had startled Rumpel, along with the fact that though not entirely spotless by the end of that third week, the Dark castle was no doubt cleaner than it had ever been…
In the dim shadowed light in the Great Hall of the Dark Castle, twelve year old Ruby could tell there was something afoot between her Papa and the girl she lovingly referred to as “Mama Belle”.
Just now, Papa had asked Mama where his scarlet cloak was, while staring at her and fidgeting as if he had ants in his trousers.
Belle smiled, and without looking up from her mending, told the imp to find his cloak on the stand where it always was.
While watching them, Ruby tried not to giggle as she wondered what it was that made Papa so giddy or nervous whenever Mama went to town then came back… it was almost as if he was in…
Ruby grinned the most impish, mischievous, naughty grin she’d ever grinned.
If he wasn’t sure she was up to something, Rumpelstiltskin would have been proud.
Papa’s in love with Mama Belle! Now all I have to do is just help them along… and we’ll live happily…
“What are you up to, dearie?”
Rumpelstiltskin snapped at Ruby impatiently, displeased with the tone Belle had used.
Ruby gulped… Papa was not in a good mood.
She shook her head and returned her attention to the homemade dolls Belle had made for her when she was younger.
Of course she knew Papa loved her, but Ruby wasn’t sure he liked her anymore.
They used to play games like Grand Adventure on the grounds. Papa would pretend to be the fierce beast causing Ruby to scream with giggles when he caught and tickled her.
Belle, when she wasn’t doing chores, would play the damsel in distress.
Ruby was given a wooden sword to play with, hand crafted by Rumpelstiltskin that belonged to her brother, Bae, which she used to “protect” Belle and “duel” her father.
Staying in front of Belle while at the same time dueling her father caused a lot of giggles from both “little imps” and laughter from Belle as Ruby would end up tripping over her and causing Rumpelstiltskin to trip.
The fun would end by the two bowing to each other, and Rumple kissing her cheek after she kissed his.
Rumple would then turn to Belle, offer his hand for her to get up, and kiss hers when she was on her feet, causing them both to blush and look away…
Ruby had a feeling she knew what was wrong with Rumpelstiltskin.
She heard Mama and Papa arguing the other day and learned that yesterday had been her brother Baelfire’s birthday.
Ruby wished she could help her papa feel better, by bringing Bae back. Ruby didn’t know him, but she did wish he were here…for Papa’s sake. Maybe she could go on an adventure of her own and bring Bae back…?
For now though, she was content on playing hide and seek with Belle, who was sent by Rumpelstiltskin to hang out the wash to dry.
Mama Belle was not in a good mood, but Ruby decided she’d try anyway.
“Mama Belle, can we play hide and seek?” Belle, looking nothing like her thirty-two years smiled at the little girl, shaking her head.
“I’m sorry Little One, not today… your papa needs his clothing.” The girl sent a glare over her shoulder at the castle, causing Ruby to giggle.
Belle thought of something as Ruby’s giggles ceased. “Ruby, your birthday is in a few weeks… have you given any thought to what you want?”
Ruby’s face fell for a moment. Papa had always said that when she turned thirteen, she’d have to leave him, but he never said why.
She wondered if it was the same reason he seemed not to like her anymore…
“Mmm…not really” she said, biting her lip, not wanting to hurt her mother’s feelings.
I wish I could stay here with you and my Papa…
Belle looked at Ruby with concern, until the little girl suddenly giggled and ran off.
“Ruby? Try not to wander off, dear… stay where I can see you… Ruby!”
Belle, frantic to find her young charge, ran off in the direction she thought Ruby took.
Rumpelstiltskin was nearly finished putting the finishing touches on his daughter’s cloak; a beautiful blood red cloak and hood, if he dare say so himself.
He was thankful that after that scare with Zelena nine years before, nothing tragic had happened.
She was probably just misguided young lass who bore a hideous resentment toward her sister, and in turn transferred that hate and malice into an incessant feeling of devotion towards him.
Rumpel was relieved that except for grousing from the voice, no harm had come to his dear ones.
He was just about to call the girls in for lunch, his treat, when suddenly he heard something he’d never expected.
I wish I could stay here with you and my Papa…
Rumpel was lost for words… what did Ruby mean by that? He looked into the glass mirror, that lay near the gauntlet of Camelot, a worthless piece of armory.
Ever since Belle came he had been meaning to dispose of it, yet the dark essence within the knife never let him touch the item.
He watched the girls from the mirror, touched by Belle’s care of his little girl.
Surely Rumpelstiltskin wouldn’t just send her away…perhaps we can create something for her memories, like a…
Rumple never caught his maid’s last thought; he could feel trepidation rising in his veins as he listened for the sounds of Belle’s and Ruby’s laughter…
Looking at the mirror again, the imp swallowed the growing lump in his throat, the worry rising in his chest of memories when he couldn’t find Bae.
Unlike his son, both Rumpelstiltskin’s maid and daughter were defenseless against enemies.
Belle and Ruby were gone…
Belle took after Ruby, thinking she could hear a dog barking in the distance.
As Belle followed Ruby into the darkness of the misty wood, she never realized how much danger lay ahead…
“Well, well, well, what have we here? if it isn’t Rumpelstiltskin’s little wench and brat!”
Both young women gasped, as they noticed three women coming toward them, evil smirks on their faces.
One looked like a dragon, one looked like a squid, and the last was dressed in black and white from head to foot.
Ruby hid her face in Belle’s cloak. Belle had read her stories about these women, and each of them gave her nightmares.
Belle, putting on a brave face, pulled Ruby behind her.
“Whatever you want, you’ll take from me.” she said. “Leave the child out of this.”
Ruby looked up at Belle. The princess’ face hardened into resolve.
Do the brave thing and bravery will follow…
“Oh how utterly noble of you!” the dragon lady taunted.
“You’d willingly sacrifice your pitiful life for the spawn of the Dark One?!”
The dragon lady known as Maleficent cackled.
“You seem more love sick than I thought!”
Ruby looked at Belle who gulped slightly, but her facial expression never changed.
“I would” stated Belle, no fear in her voice…
“Fine.” Maleficent smirked. “Ursula… you know what to do…”
Suddenly, Ruby screamed as two tentacles shot forward, one grabbing Belle, the other smacking Ruby, shoving her away from Belle.
“No! Mama!” she cried, as the slick slimy appendage wrapped itself around her and prevented her from running to Belle’s aid.
“Ruby! Get out of here! Augh!” The arm around Belle was squeezing tightly.
“I won’t leave you!” Ruby cried, ducking under the appendage, again trying unsuccessfully to get to her mother.
“Aww, how sweet!” Ursula crooned. “I hate sweet!” she squeezed harder… Belle gasped in pain.
“RUBY! GET OUT OF HERE, NOW! Grrr!” The look in her eyes was full of fury and pained.
Ruby nodded and ran back to the castle, back to her father for help.
“It’s too bad she ran without knowing what we wanted… ah well,” grinned Maleficent
“Cruella?” The black and silver haired woman smirked as she unleashed her two deadly Dalmatians.
“NOOOO!” Belle screamed, fighting against the restraint.
“Keep still, wench we’ve still got plans for you…” Maleficent smirked.
Ruby gasped as she heard barking and snarling behind her. she was nearly home, but one and then the other of the Dalmatians blocked her path.
Ruby felt her eyes warm, which was odd…
They’d never done that before…
Then without even realizing it, she blacked out and fell asleep…
Ruby woke up what seemed a few minutes later on her bed, her father Rumpelstiltskin cooling her head tenderly with a red splotched cloth.
Ruby couldn't see, but it was almost as if the towel were stained...
“Mmm…Papa” she studied his face. He looked pale, concerned, and grim. She wondered why…
“Shhh. Hush child and sleep. you need your rest.” Ruby noticed that for once there was no giggle in his voice, it was just oddly gentle and tender…
“B-but Mama…sh-she’s…” Ruby struggled under the blankets, trying to get up.
Then, as if by magic,the child fell asleep peacefully; Rumpel kissed her forehead.
Closing his daughter’s bedroom door, the imp started toward his workroom and shook his head.
Tonight was proof that he could no longer physically care for her. He shook his head in disgust.
Those Dalmatians hadn’t just been killed, but ripped apart.
When Rumpelstiltskin had thrown the cloak over his daughter, he’d looked at the carnage, and wretched. The smell of death was overpowering.
So much blood…
Before dawn tomorrow, Ruby would have to leave.
He had tracked down her mother’s relatives and found that Anita’s mother the Widow Lucas was still alive.
As much as it broke his heart to do so, a sleeping herb was not all he had given his daughter; he had also placed an amnesiac draft in her tea, strong enough to forget him and her life here…
It was safer that way…
Speaking of which… where was Belle?