A couple of months later, Jiminy decided it was time.
Time to break free from the hold that his parents held over him.
It was time to stand on his own two feet for once and become a man, to find his True Love and settle down.
How could he do that with his parents watching him like vultures?
Jiminy decided to escape while they were asleep.
When nightfall hit and he could hear the heavy breathing of his mother and the snoring of his father, Jiminy cast all doubt aside, and all considerations of morality were cast from his head.
Not knowing where, or for how long, he ran, running as if the devil himself were on his heels.
Speaking of which, when the thief finally stopped to rest, he breathed hard as he came to the gates of none other than the Dark Castle.
The home of the famous wizard, Rumpelstiltskin.
Rumor had it that his lover had passed away, so now he lived alone…
Jiminy crept into the castle and marveled at what he saw.
The surroundings of rich tapestries and paintings seemed dank and dull… perhaps because there was no light in the castle.
Jiminy crept up the stairs to the East wing and gazed around at a small library of sorts, the imp standing in the middle of it with his spinning wheel.
Jiminy didn’t think the imp could hear him…
“I hope you have not paid me a visit just to steal from me, dearie”
Jiminy jumped. The imp sounded… human…
Rumpelstiltskin smirked, and turned, finding Jiminy cowering by the staircase.
“Get away from there and tell me what you want” he snapped.
“I am very busy and would prefer to be left alone”
Despite the anger in his eyes, Jiminy noticed the inflection of grief in the imp’s voice.
It made sense… his love had been an avid reader of high class…
He had built this library for her, and when she died, he came in here to feel closer to her.
“I am sorry for your loss” Jiminy murmured, creeping closer.
The imp didn’t say anything, just opened and closed his fists, reigning in his emotions.
When the Dark One looked at him, Jiminy jumped.
It was as if Rumpelstiltskin could see into his soul…
“What can I do for you, dearie?” Rumpelstiltskin barked. “What is it that you want?”
Jiminy faltered, stumbling over his words, he hadn’t expected to get this far.
“Well, I um… I am looking for work” he said, unsure of what else to say.
The imp eyed him.
“What do you know how to do?” he asked. “Surely cleaning is out of the question.”
There it was again. Obviously the imp hadn’t expressed his grief enough, or was pushing it to the side in favor of something else…
Jiminy blushed. “Um…er…”
Rumpel rolled his eyes. “You’re a thief! C’mon, say it! Ye know how to steal and take things that don’t belong to you!”
Jiminy looked away, ashamed of himself. Just what was he doing here again?
Seemingly sighing in frustration, Rumpelstiltskin waved his hand and brought about a list of names and treasures he was seeking.
These were items that he was due payment.
The fools did not want to pay him; they only wanted him to keep up his side of the deal.
Rumpelstiltskin grinned impishly at Jiminy.
He’d soon show those miserable wretches that that wasn’t how things worked…
Jiminy grew nervous under the imp’s scrutiny.
“Take this list.” The imp said in a dismissive manner.
“I want these treasures, but I need not to be found. You, it seems are the expert of us both. Return with them, and you will be rewarded.”
Jiminy nodded, feeling his stomach flip. He wanted to do good, but how could he in times like these?
“Perhaps you were created for such a time as this” Rumpelstiltskin smirked.
Jiminy cocked his head. That sounded familiar… as if he had read it somewhere before…
Shaking his head, he disappeared just as quietly as he had come.
Rumpelstiltskin continued to spin after the youth had gone.
Why did he get the feeling that there was more to the young man than met the eye?
The imp shrugged it off, and waited for Jiminy’s return.
Perhaps, as Belle had surmised, there was good in this young man too…
Rumpel felt his eyes fill with tears again, and walked to the bookshelf.
He removed a book that had been well used in the seven weeks after Belle’s death.
He opened it to the page marked Beattitudes.
Blessed are those who mourn… for they shall be comforted…
Sinking to his knees with the volume clutched to his chest, the former spinner sobbed as he had never sobbed before…
He didn’t care about Regina.
He didn’t care about Zelena.
He didn’t care about the curse that the voice was trying to cast…
The three things that had meant so much to him in his life, had been brutally snatched away, and there seemed to be no end in sight to his grief.
His heart was broken it felt, beyond repair… Would there be no end to the pain he felt?
Jiminy returned to the Dark Castle two hours later, somewhat relieved to find that the imp was actually spinning, straw into gold.
Jiminy’s eyes widened as he saw the gold. He wondered how the imp did that. Did he use magic?
Shaking his head, Jiminy gave the imp the stack of goods.
Rumpelstiltskin grinned at the thief. “And the names?” he asked. “To whom do these treasures belong?”
Jiminy delicately placed the list of names onto the stack of goods.
“Gold thread for your thievery.” Rumpelstiltskin crowed. “Thank you, you can go.”
Jiminy caught the thread, briefly thinking that he could buy a better life with such a simple cord… but no. Money did not buy happiness.
He looked at the imp who had been so torn apart by grief over the loss of his fair lady.
Love brought happiness. What a gift this would make, for his True Love… perhaps a necklace of sorts…
Jiminy patiently waited for something else. He didn’t know why, but he couldn’t leave just yet…
Rumpelstiltskin eyed something else as he watched the young man carefully.
"You want something else, don’t you?”
The imp placed a bit of gold thread into a tray, adding liquid from a small bottle. The sound made Jiminy jump.
“For years I’ve been stuck in that damn wagon! I want to leave, but something keeps holding me back”
He shook his head.
The Dark One eyed him carefully. “Something, or someone?” he asked with a smile.
Jiminy sighed at the countless times he had been cajoled by his parents to do their bidding against his better judgement.
Somehow he got the feeling that “Honor thy parents” didn’t apply to the two miserable wretches.
It was as if he were a slave instead of their son; all sense of reason never entered their heads, of that he was sure.
They always held him to their whims, never letting him out of their sights unless it suited them-never letting him be a man- to be free!
Oh, of course he had tried to escape, once, but they had found him, and brought him back, talking his ears off with their endless complaints... It infuriated him!
So, here the ginger haired youth was, who by no means was ill looking; his only physical fallacy being his spectacles, having gained poor eyesight as a growing young man, seeking help from none other than Rumpelstiltskin.
Rumpelstiltskin looked at the tall, miserable looking youth before him, growling to himself as his concentration on his current concoction was averted.
“Is there anything I can help you with, dearie? I’m very preoccupied at the moment as you can see, and I...”
“Purpose” the young man murmured.
“Sorry” said the imp. “Didn’t catch that... What was it ye said?”
“Purpose!” the young man cried desperately as he stood up abruptly, nearly knocking over the imp’s jars on the table.
“I-I need to know what my purpose is in this world! I c-an’t have been born just to be a scapegoat to my parents...tch... Parents indeed! More like jailers holding me captive to their every whim until they’re... dead”
Then, as if he remembered where he was and whom he’d been speaking to, he flushed furiously even to the tips of his ears, which the imp thought quite amusing.
Yes, though quiet in his own manner this Jiminy, as he called himself was steady, reliable, and moral to a fault.
Given a push in the right direction, he could make a fine ally, and eventual spouse for Rumple’s daughter, Red.
Rumpelstiltskin transformed his concoction into a small bottle of liquid.
“This is all you need” he hissed.
Jiminy eyed the bottle with wonder. “What will become of them?” he asked.
“Worry you not” Rumpel smirked. He held the bottle at eye level, and as Jiminy reached out for it, he took it back.
“But you have nothing more to give to me” the imp grinned.
He thought briefly about the young man’s life needing a purpose, and decided to give him one.
“Tell you what… I do have something else you can do”
Jiminy looked confused for a second. “Anything” he said.
Rumpelstiltskin giggled maniacally. “Are you sure?” he asked.
All Jiminy’s eyes saw was the potion, and being free of his parents.
It was the imp’s goal to cure him of that.
“Yes” Jiminy said without hesitation.
Rumpel grinned. “As you wish…” he snapped his fingers.
Before him, instead of the youth stood a large, powerful wolf like creature with ginger fur, rounded ears, a long snout and tail, and powerful jaws.
It looked like one of those dingo dogs from the faraway land of Aussie-stralia Rumpel had visited many years ago.
The wolf barked in surprise, then growled, fangs dripping.
Rumpelstiltskin laughed his head off. Perfect! Absolutely perfect!
“Now then, dearie, don’t get your energy pent up on me. I have a quest for you, which the rewards will be that much more satisfying than turning your parents to dust”
The red wolf groaned as if unsure about that.
“My daughter Liza is missing” said the imp. “I need you to help me find her before she gets herself into the biggest trouble of her life”
The wolf nodded. *Go on…*
Rumpel walked to a drawer, took something from it, and returned to the wolf.
“This was hers as a child.” He said, allowing the wolf to sniff it and grow familiar with her scent.
Strawberries… Jiminy thought. He loved the smell, and allowed it to permeate through his brain into his memory.
Fair, earthy, and smelled of strawberries. He could remember that.
“Granted she is a soon to be mother… she will smell differently than she did before”
The wolf nodded once.
“I will leave the rest to you.” Rumpel smiled, trying not to smirk.
“Bring her to me, and you will have your reward. Do we have a deal?”
In lieu of his hand, Jiminy offered the imp his paw to shake.
“Good boy” Rumpelstiltskin laughed his head off again.
Jiminy groaned. Just what had he gotten himself into?
“Ah, another thing… and be very careful with it dearie, I worked very hard on this.”
The wolf turned as he noticed Rumpelstiltskin fetch a brown knapsack that held a beautifully designed forest green cloak.
“Like so, if you please” Rumpel said.
Jiminy lay down, and Rumpel placed the cloak over him.
The magic within the cloak coursed over him and he was able to breathe normally again.
Glancing at himself, Jiminy noticed he was human again with his attire still intact.
“How did you do that?” he asked.
“Magic” Rumpel winked. “Now be off with you. Liza does not have much time.”
Jiminy nodded, feeling his eyes warm… a second later, he was a wolf again.
“Mind you, you will not be able to eat as a normal human. I suggest you learn how to hunt, lest you starve” the imp said.
*I will return with her safely in my charge.* Jiminy nodded, before he bounded down the stairs.
Rumpelstiltskin laughed to himself as he watched the wolf disappear from sight.
Widow Lucas was going to have his head…