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“I will burn some fake villages. Answered then Rumplestiltskin with a strange smile.”

 

He was lying, Emma could easily knew it. The Dark One wasn't going to do anything that he told he would do. That would be something else, something enough important for the wizard, so he wouldn't tell them.

 

“Emma, said Regina by taking her hand. We should go.”

 

Yes, they should. Emma looked at her with a tender smile, and embraced her. Now that her memories were back, everything seemed easier. She kissed her girlfriend, not caring about Rumplestiltskin's presence.

 

“I'm happy you found me, whispered the princess.”

 

They didn't really have time for that before, trying to find a way to get out of this place, with also Regina trying to make her remember. And successfully doing it.

 

None of them missed the little laugh of Rumplestiltskin, nor the twisted smile on his face.

 

“Well… he said with his insupportable imp's voice. That was… unexpected.

 

Emma rolled her eyes and get away from Regina.

 

- I definitely didn't miss it, she muttered to Regina, who laughed, her hand still in Emma's.

 

- Nor did I...”

 

They should have gone. Right now. But there was something Emma wanted to know, just as the wizard was going to some place.

 

“Regina ?

 

- What ?

 

- I know you may find it strange, but… I want you to leave. For a moment, she added quickly. I want to talk for a moment with him, she said by giving a look to Rumplestiltskin.

 

- You know he is not real ?

 

- Of course, I just want to… ask him some questions.

 

Regina sighed.

 

- Alright, she said, before kissing her again. But be careful.

 

-I will. I know what he can do, and who he is. But strangely, he doesn't seem to be hostile.”

 

Then, she approached the wizard, who was trying to find where he could go now.

 

“Tell me, he said, the two of you, how long had it been ?

 

- You're not really interested by it, aren't you ?

 

- I just know some people who would be interested by the fact that the princess and the Evil Queen are together.

 

- The former Evil Queen. And we already told you, this world is not real.

 

- I feel really like I am real.

 

- You feel wrong.

 

- You wanted to talk with me, didn't you ? Asked the dark One, not taking into account the former answer of the princess.

 

- Yes. I wanted to ask you some questions.

 

- Tell me princess, what do you want to know ?

 

- You lied to us. About your purpose, and what you wanted to do.

 

- That was not a question.

 

- Don't worry, it's coming. What do you want to do, really ?

 

- I'm not sure you will be interested in this.

 

- I am.

 

- Why would I tell you ?

 

- Because then, I will leave, and you won't see me again.

 

- That's not a good reason.

 

Emma rolled her eyes again with annoyance.

 

- Oh please, you can tell me. Maybe I could help.”

 

That wasn't a good idea to say that, but she really wanted to know the truth. Maybe because she already knew it.

 

“Well… finally answered the wizard. I'm looking for someone.

 

Emma froze. She knew it, she should n't have asked. But, even though this Rumplestiltskin didn't exist, she wanted him to know what really happened. Despite that, she asked another question.

 

- Who ?

 

For a second, she hoped it would be Belle.

 

- My son.”

 

Emma froze, again. Oh no, that was happening again, and it was her fault this time, because she couldn't stop herself from talking and asking.

 

Then, Rumplestiltskin saw something strange happen. The young woman just in front of him didn't seem to be okay. She was trembling, a little, and her eyes became open wide with shock.

 

He didn't like it, without even knowing why.

 

There was something strange in her, something he couldn't understand.

 

“Oh no, she finally whispered.”

 

She knows she did a terrible mistake, but it's bringing to her terrible memories, of someone who died.

 

Someone she loved in the past.

 

Someone she won't forget, and even if Regina is in her life now, it won't change anything.

 

She will always remember him, and a part of her will still suffer.

 

And that's a thing Rumplestiltskin doesn't know.

 

“They didn't tell you ? She finally asked, with tears in her voice. No one told you ?”

 

Rumplestiltskin's look became dark, and sharp.

 

“Tell me what ? He succeeded to say, in the end.”

 

Emma didn't answer. She couldn't. She was crying now, and still trying not to cry. Without any success.

 

What do you know, princess ? What do you know ?” He asked again, a little louder, so Regina heard it, and looked at Emma with concern. The princess addressed her a confident look, and she turned back.

 

And, as she was still crying, she finally whispered :

 

“He is dead.”

 

And Rumplestiltskin froze too as she did.

 

§§§§

 

Some seconds later, he finally said something.

 

“That can't be. THAT CAN'T BE TRUE !”

 

And he screams, and this time, Regina is afraid and she approaches.

 

“I'm sorry, but it's true. I can show you his grave, if you want to see it.”

 

Regina doesn't understand what is happening now, but she doesn't really want to.

 

She just wants to l ea ve, right now, and doesn't want Gold (well, Rumplestiltskin ) to hurt Emma. And it will happen, she knows it, or at least it's a risk.

 

But nothing of that happens, and the second after, they are not here any more, but in another place and then, she understands.

 

Here, just in front of them, is Neal Cassidy' grave.

 

This is not him, said Gold, in the end. That was not his name.

 

- You really think he didn't change his name ? Of course he did.

 

- Prove it ! What was his name ? His real name ?”

 

Then, a sad smile appears on Emma's face, and she answers :

 

“Baelfire.”

 

And then she talks. She talks again and again, and Rumplestiltskin is forced to listen, and to believe her. He doesn't interrupt her, strangely, because of his astonishment. Until he does, of course.

 

“You have no idea of what I am living, right ? You just have no idea of what I am living.

 

- You think that ? Emma immediately answered. You're so wrong, if you believe it. Of course I know. You know why ? Because I knew him !

 

- You did ?”

 

Emma didn't tell him everything, in fact not what mattered.

 

- He is the father of my son.”

 

And of your grandson .

 

She didn't add it because it was obvious.

 

And he didn't talk about it, because all he cared about was his son.

 

The son he just learned he lost.

 

“Alright, he said. Alright. I have someone else to search now.”

 

And then, he disappeared.

 

“Regina ? Asked Emma.

 

- What ?

 

- Do you know where is Belle in this reality ?

 

- I guess she is imprisoned.

 

- You imprisoned her, didn't you ?

 

- Yes.”

 

And that was all.

 

He came back, then, with bones.

 

Belle's bones, Emma quickly realized with horror, and then he looked at Regina with hatred and anger.

 

“You did this, he said. You killed her. You let her die.

 

- I didn't. I am not the Evil Queen of this world. I am coming from another.

 

- Why should I trust you ?

 

- You should, said Emma.”

 

The Dark One was… not happy. In fact, he was devastated. Desperate.

 

All alone, again, without any hope.

 

Emma could understand that.

 

“May I have a talk with you ?” Demanded the Dark One.

 

He was trying to contain his anger, she saw it.

 

She shouldn't have accepted.

 

But she did.

 

They should have gone.

 

But they didn't.

 

“How is this world ?

 

- You trust me ? About what we told you ?

 

- Yes.

 

- But why ?

 

- You're the one that told me the truth.

 

- How can you be sure of that ?

 

- I don't know… I just know it.

 

- Regina didn't lie to you.

 

- Well… maybe. You really love her, don't you ?

 

- This is not of your concern.

 

- I was just curious. Tell me more about this world.

 

- You're still the Dark One. You're powerful, and you still make deals with people.

 

- What else ?

 

- Belle is alive. And the two of you had a child together.”

 

Emma had no idea of what she just did. She gave hope to the sorcerer, a hope he thought he wouldn't ever have again.

 

- Me and her… are we…

 

- Together ? no. She left you. For doing the wrong choice. Again.

 

A little spark appeared in the imp's eyes.

 

- I'm coming with you, he commended.

 

- What ? Asked Emma, surprised, and hoping she didn't understand what she thought she understood.

 

- I want to come with you, to see this world. I have nothing to do with mine… except torture the Evil Queen of this world, but… I guess you wouldn't like that.

 

- Not really… I can't let you come with us.

 

- Why not ? I gave you this magic bean, so I think I earned the right to come with the two of you. I'm more powerful than you, and even if you have magic too, I don't think that you and our dear queen will be able to defeat me.

 

- Alright… I will talk with her, and ask her.”

 

That was not going to work, she told to herself. Really, really not.

 

“What did he tell you ?

 

- He is coming with us.

 

- What ? Said Regina. No. He is not !

 

- I'm sorry but he asked to, and I don't think we can say no.

 

- Why not ? He never asked for it before. What did you tell him ?

 

- The truth. I talked about our world.

 

- Oh no… you told him about Belle ?

 

- Yes, and about Gideon too.

 

- Why did you have to talk with him Emma ? Why ?

 

- I'm sorry Regina, I…. I just wanted to know.

 

- You realize what you're asking to me ? Have one Dark One in our town is really harsh. What do you think of having two ?

 

- I will come back in my world then.

 

- No you won't, answered Regina to Gold. We know you, we know you will stay.

 

- Maybe not… Regina, he is not lying. He just wants to see our world.

 

- You're sure of that ?

 

- No, I'm not.”

 

Regina rolled her eyes.

 

“We should have left when I told you to, she muttered.

 

- I never said the contrary… and he could help us facing the Evil Queen.

 

- Why would he do that ?

 

- He hates her.

 

- Oh… yes, because the Evil Queen, well… me… killed Belle.

 

- Exactly deary, said Rumple, with hatred in his eyes.

 

- Right, finally said Regina. He is coming with us.”

 

§§§§

 

Rumplestiltskin didn't know what to expect when he arrived in this strange and mysterious world.

 

“This is not a good idea, repeated Regina to Emma.

 

- Can you just be… I don't know… nicer with him ?

 

- Why would I ?

 

- Because he just realized that he lost the two more important people in his life.

 

- Who ?

 

- Neal and Belle.

 

- I know that, but… it won't work.

 

- Why not ?

 

- Because having a free Dark One worst that the other not appears as a good thing to me.

 

- Worst ?

 

- This one has been locked more than twenty-eight years Emma, I don't think things will be really easy.”

 

R umplestiltskin didn't hear them. He wasn't listening to them. He wasn't moving, still observing the place where he was.

 

He could have run.

 

He didn't.

 

“What is this place ? He finally asked.

 

- Storybrooke, Emma answered.

 

- So, this is where you live ? This is the place where the curse should have taken us ?

 

- Yes.”

 

Some people approached them, as Snow and Charming, and a certain pirate. For a second, Rumple though about leaving.

 

“Don't worry, Regina said. No one will attack you.”

 

During the reunion, no one cared about him, no one paid attention to him.

 

But then, after they saw him, they all became frozen, at the same time.

 

“He helped us to escape from the Wish Realm, explained Emma. And he asked to come.

 

After, she told them what happened when they were in the Enchanted Forest alternative universe.

 

- And… you agreed ? Asked David.

 

- We didn't really have the choice…

 

- False ! Emma made a mistake so we didn't have the choice, Regina rectified with amusement.”

 

Belle was there, of course, with her son in her arms.

 

Rumplestiltskin was looking at her, and couldn't move. As she also did, a little surprised.

 

“Belle ? He asked with emotion and pain in his voice. And maybe a little hope also. And love in his eyes, obviously.

 

- Yes, it's me.

 

Rumple wasn't able to move. Taken by the emotion, he had also difficulties to breathe. During a second, he made a strange gesture, maybe in order to embrace her, but he didn't dare.

 

Not after what he did to her.

 

The thing Belle didn't know, is that he lived without her for twenty-eight years, all alone and locked. Without knowing where she was nor if she was alive.

 

He hadn't see her in twenty-eight years, just as the other him, but he didn't have the chance to forget.

 

This Belle and the other Belle may suffered, but he also did.

 

She didn't seem to be happy to see him, maybe a little afraid. He understood why, he knew who he was, and the other him shouldn't have been really great with her, he supposed.

 

Then, he saw the child.

 

“Is this…

 

- Yes.

 

- I guess the other me had a better life than I had, he said, a little bitter.

 

- Surely, whispered Emma.”

 

She would not let him see the child, he knew it.

 

“Tell me, he said to Belle with sadness, what did he do to you ?

 

He seemed like Gold, Belle thought. Not like the Dark One, but like the man she loved and get married with.

 

- He hurt me. Many and many times. He lied to me, and betrayed me.

 

- I guess that's a good reason, he answered with melancholia.

 

- But you know what ? She finally added.

 

- No.

 

- I still love him, despite what he did to me.

 

- I'm sorry for that. For what I… he did.

 

- What about you ? She demanded, curious. Why are you here ?

 

- I wanted to see you.

 

- Me ? But why ?

 

- Because in my world, he answered with difficulties, in my life, you're… you're dead.

 

- But how ?

 

- The Evil Queen captured you, as I suppose she did with you. But, as the curse was never cast, you died. She let you die.

 

- So.. you're here…

 

- For you. Only for you, as I also learned that my son was dead.

 

- Oh.. I'm… I'm so sorry Rumple.”

 

The sorcerer couldn't help, but smile. Here she was. Belle. His Belle. The one who loved and cared about him, despite what he did to her. How sorry he was that his Belle had to disappear !

 

A single tear rolled along his cheek, as he really realized what he lost.

 

On her side, Belle really felt sorry for him and decided, after she put Gideon on Snow White's arms to put Rumplestiltskin into a hug.

 

And for a moment, a little and very short moment, they both felt complete.

 

Then, she get away from him, and he began to talk.

 

“And I am also here to tell you how sorry I am. I know you're not the Belle I knew, but… I won't be able to do it with her, so… I'm sorry for what I did to you. For being such a coward, for what I did in my castle, when I rejected you. You were right Belle. And I should have chosen you instead of choosing power. You're the person I love the most in the world, with my son, and… I lost you. I lost you because I did the wrong choice. And I'm so sorry. I love you.

 

He was crying now. His confession could appear as surprising, regarding to who he was, but he lost everything during the same day, so… nothing else mattered at that moment. He let his mask fall, and just talk heart to heart to Belle. She was crying too.

 

“I always waited for Rumple to say that. I am happy you told this to me, even if… you're not really him. And that you will never really be him. You and I… we never lived the same things. You never were in Storybrooke, you didn't hurt me as he did. You never made me happy as he did. You never sacrificed yourself to save us as he did. I'm sorry you lost her, and that you lost your son. I'm sorry you can't be real.”

 

Rumple had a little smile.

 

“I wish I could stay here, he whispered. But I guess I can't.

 

- That's true, said Regina, you can't stay here. You saw what you wanted to see, and who. You found the one you were looking for, and you should go.

 

- Maybe, but where ?

 

- Back to your world.

 

- How ?

 

- I could send you.”

 

It was coming from Henry.

 

“You think so, kid ? Asked Regina.

 

- As the Author, I think I can.”

 

Rumple looked at him. And made the connection.

 

“You're Baelfire's son, aren't you ?”

 

Henry nodded.

 

Rumplestiltskin had a strange and melancholic smile. He was seeing what he could have had. What he had, and what he would never have.

 

He didn't talk to the kid, because he didn't know him, not as he did with Belle. And he hadn't the time for that. And didn't know how to do.

 

“To which life ? I have no purpose, no one. I am alone, what could I do ?

 

- You have power, Belle said with irony.

 

Rumple had an amused smiled. Yes, she really knew him.

 

- I don't think that will help me deary, he said, ironic.

 

- I have an idea...”

 

Everyone turned into Emma's direction.

 

“Henry… You can destroy this world, can't you ?

 

- Yes… I could.

 

- So… if you write something about it… it can work.

 

- It would destroy me, no ? Asked Rumplestiltskin, afraid.

 

- Of course.

 

- Why would I accept ?

 

- Because as you said, Emma answered, you have no life for you in your world. Immortal, powerful, and alone. What can you do then ?

 

- And the other me ?

 

- Will still exist.

 

- You're not the only one who suffered in this story, said Regina.

 

- What ?

 

- Henry. The other Henry. He lost his mother and his grand-parents. Life won't be easy for him…

 

- And as we don't really exist…

 

- True.

 

- We won't really die.

 

- You were looking for someone, said Emma, just as Regina did. You found them. I think it's the time to leave now.

 

- I can't stay…

 

- Nope…

 

- So, it's better for me to leave ?

 

- Yes.

 

- Right.”

 

They didn't know that it would be that easy.

 

But it was.

 

Because he had no other ways, except accepting it.

 

And then, Henry wrote a sentence to make this world disappear.

 

The second after, Rumplestiltskin disappeared from their eyes, a smile on his lips.

 

Because he found who he was looking for.

 

At least, one of the two people he wanted to see.

 

The end.