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Once Upon a Blue Moon
Everything came back in a rush of anger and relief on a fucking rainbow wave of love.
Ruby had never felt so torn between her emotions before and she definitely blamed the wolf as the cause of her jumbled emotions.
The thoughts 'Damn her!' warred with 'Damn it!' as Ruby nearly buckled to her knees under the weight of her memories returning. She was elated to finally know who she is and get rid of that prickling discontent she has felt for the last 28 years.
At the same time things are no longer as simple as they once had been. Even when Emma entered the picture and made waves with the Mayor, life in Storybrooke had been relatively quiet. Now, all hell is breaking loose. After spending nearly three decades with their first lives imprisoned in the hearts and minds of every person under the curse, there will be repercussions.
Her wolf howled, shaking her vision and rang her ears so hard she clapped her hands over them in a futile effort to block it out. "Shut up!" She snarled to herself. Ruby was surprised at the sudden depth of her voice. Apparently the wolf added more than a sharp nose to her physical being.
The wolf stopped howling but remained alert; there were things to do and the human knew it, too.
"Red, I mean -" Her Granny laid a shaking hand on her shoulder and Ruby let her hands fall back down to her sides as she straightened up.
"'Ruby' for now, Granny. We'll figure things out after we find the Charmings and Emma."
Granny nodded and both women lifted their heads, the elder to listen, the younger to scent. It did not take long before they zeroed in on their targets. Immediately they set off down the street towards the auto garage. Their king and queen are there together.
'As they should be.' Ruby acknowledged. She was pleased that her heart-sister found her True Love once again. Picking up her pace, Ruby waved and shouted out. "Snow!"
The shorter brunette jerked her head from Charming's shoulder and turned her way, crying out her name and releasing her husband to embrace her best friend and right-hand woman.
"Red!" Snow sobbed out, so relieved to see another beloved face.
Their hug was fierce with relief. It had been so long and they had unknowingly craved contact with each other. The curse had fractured their friendship but with each passing moment the familial bonds that had tied them together in the Enchanted Forest renewed in strength.
Granny and Charming watched the two with smiles on their faces before something rumbled loudly in the distance catching their attention. The group of four simultaneously looked out to the forest surrounding Storybrooke, gasping at what they saw.
A large purple storm cloud, veined in pale lightening and growing larger by the second, rose up out of the middle of the land and was blowing into town!
Charming grabbed Snow and held tight, determined to not lose his wife again. Snow clung tightly at first, soaking in the comfort of her beloved prince, before a very important piece of memory kicked into place.
"Oh Gods! Emma! Henry!" Snow White tore herself from James' arms and ran in the direction of the Sheriff's office, determined to go to her daughter. James swiftly followed, only a step behind her, equally as alarmed and desperate to get to his daughter and grandson.
Ruby and Granny started to follow when Ruby abruptly stopped, her face drained of color. "Rose!"
Turning on her heel, Ruby sprinted in the opposite direction, ignoring her Grandmother's shout of confusion. Rose was alone and trapped near the woods and that purple storm loomed ominously over the whole town. Ruby was not about to let her friend face that alone. Not hesitating, the huntress swiftly entered the forest in the direction of the hospital, not caring if she got caught in the cloud.
Stumbling over roots and rocks that seemed to be alive and reaching out to hinder her steps, Ruby gasped harshly as the cloud and its lightning finally caught up to her. It was almost too painful to breathe as the returning magic unleashed even more of her magical nature. Fire seemed to race over her skin, igniting a burning itch.
Three steps more and Ruby fell to her knees, gasping as the wolf shifted to the surface bringing all of its power to her senses in one fell swoop. The burning disappeared but the magic crackled loudly in her ears and raised the hair on the back of her neck. The stench of dust and ancientness blocked her nose, leaning heavily on her tongue.
Magic always did leave her feeling uncomfortable and overwhelmed. But, just as quickly as it came upon her, the magic surged onward to return to all of the citizens of Storybrooke.
Shaking her head to clear her ears, Ruby sneezed then got back to her feet. She had someone to save. Now, it seemed as if the forest bowed around her, clearing her path so her feet carried her swift and sure to her destination.
'Hang on, Rose. I'm coming.' Ruby solemnly promised and gritted her teeth as she pushed herself to go faster, following the path to the hospital by memory only veering away when Rose's unique scent hooked into her nose and pulled her deeper into the trees.
When the strange man with a disturbed gleam in his black eyes opened her door and beckoned her to come out of her cell, Rose just curled in upon herself and stared at him with fearful teal eyes.
Impatiently, the man tossed a ratty jacket in her direction and began to talk. "You want to leave this place, don't you? Get up and follow me. Put that on to cover your uniform."
The promise of freedom drove Rose from her bed, from her prison, with a threadbare coat over her thin frame and in the company of this dangerous man. The hall was empty except for a young hunched-backed man mopping the floor who paid no mind to the tall man striding down the hall with a frightened unkempt young woman struggling to keep up. Rose's eyes strayed to the knocked-out nurse stationed at the entrance of the psychward before dismissing the scene for the door being held open for her.
As she passed by the stranger who led her out, he grabbed her wrist. Instinctively, Rose winced and pulled away but his grip only got stronger as he looked at her.
"You will follow the main road into town and find Gold's Pawn Shop. The man in there will protect you. His name is Mr. Gold. And tell him Regina locked you up." With that command, the stranger let go of her wrist and strode out into the hall and through a glass double door that led straight outside.
Rose absently rubbed at the ache developing where his fingers had wrapped so tightly around her wrist. A few hospital staff wandered by, eyeing her curiously and Rose knew that she had to leave before someone began to ask questions. Squaring her shoulder, Rose pushed on and walked out the doors of her prison. A rush of giddiness caused her to tremble with every step she took further and further away.
She was free!
A sharp laugh erupted from her lips and almost startled her in her surreal situation. Ideas and plans and needs all flooded her brain.
Where would she go? What should she do for food? Shelter?
These thoughts and more inundated Rose until she found herself on a road watching the people of this town wander by. The loud sound of a car horn and the shout to get out of the way knocked Rose out of her thoughts and had her jumping back onto the sidewalk.
'How rude,' she thought. 'I was clearly walking and they should have stopped or gone around.'
Huffing, Rose resumed her search for the shop her liberator had told her to find. After walking up and down the main street and taking a few wrong turns, Rose still could not find the pawn shop. Sitting down heavily on the curb, the brown haired girl took stock of her surroundings and assessed her situation.
Her feet throbbed unpleasantly in her slippers and her stomach rumbled with hunger. As she was trying to figure out what to do next, the delicious smell of frying food wafted under her nose and drew her attention to a more pressing matter.
Looking up and around, Rose found herself in front of Granny's Diner.
'Ruby! Of course! Ruby works at her Granny's place. Ruby will know where I am to go. And maybe she can spare a bite with the directions,' the hungry girl hoped silently as she opened the door to the eatery.
Warm air alleviated the cold that had settled into her skin while she was out in the cool Autumn breeze. Teal eyes shifted from the left to the right taking in the bright white interior of the diner with its tastefully crimson-colored booths and chairs accenting the décor.
There were only two people currently in view; one was behind the counter scrubbing at the bar top with a washrag and the other was behind a newspaper in the far-most booth to the back of the building. Ruby was nowhere in sight. The blonde at the counter looked up at the musical chime of the bells attached to the door frame and smiled.
"Welcome to Granny's. You can sit wherever you like. I'll be with you in a moment."
Not wanting to disturb the person in the back, Rose chose a booth along the large windows at the front of the diner but farthest from the door. Wiggling her toes to shake out the numbness and rest her aching, underused muscles from all the walking she has done, Rose sighed in the sunlight, enjoying the quiet of the diner after the busyness of the streets.
The waitress bounced over and grinned while holding out a menu. "You're new here," she blurted. "We don't get many new people."
Rose was at a loss at how to respond but managed a small smile back and confessed to not knowing much about the area.
"I stumbled into town and don't have any money," Rose quietly admitted. Before the waitress could say anything in response, Rose hurried on. "But, I have a friend in town that I'm looking for - her name is Ruby. Do you know where I can find her?"
The blond smiled. "Ruby and Granny went out to run some errands and won't be back until the night shift." Blue eyes assessed the crestfallen girl sitting in the booth before the waitress' smile softened. "But, since you're new and a friend of Ruby's, your meal is on the house. So go ahead and take a look at the menu and I'll be back for your order."
Rose almost cried at the young woman's generosity and quickly hid her face behind the laminate pages to compose herself. Words and pictures popped out at her; some making sense while others knitted her brow in confusion.
The waitress came back and plunked down a glass of milk. "I'm Ashley, by the way."
Rose looked up from perusing the O-me-lets and smiled. "My name is Rose."
Ashley nodded and took out a pen and pad from her apron pockets. "So, what would you like?"
Holding the menu up and pointing at one of the O-me-let pictures, Rose tried to make it sound like she knew what she was doing. "Um, I would like this please."
"Okay. White or wheat?"
Blinking, Rose just said "wheat", followed by "sausage" when Ashley asked another question.
"Alright, Rose. That will be out in a few minutes," Ashley promised before taking the menu and returning to the counter to talk to the cook.
Rose watched her new acquaintance work for a bit before her attention was caught by movement outside the windows of the diner. There were a surprisingly diverse amount of folks living in Storybrooke, Rose decided as she watched the people outside.
An elderly grandfather keep an eye on his grandson playing with a stuffed duck toy on a sidewalk bench in front of the post office while three middle-aged ladies toddled up the marble stairs of the post office in red, blue, and green sweaters.
Passing by at a run, was a Dalmatian followed quickly by a redheaded man obviously trying to catch his straying pet. An Asian woman walking in the opposite direction immediately pulled her sleepy-looking friend out of the way of the runaway dog and man. She was rewarded with a kiss on the cheek once the danger had passed.
Rose got lost in observing the life she never got to have in the town she had not even known existed outside of her little prison cell. She felt envious but, biting her lip, she took a big breath and let the hurt go thinking of her own future. 'Maybe I can start over here. Maybe whoever locked me away won't recognize me if I become a part of this town.'
The clatter of a heavy plate and silverware roused Rose from her silent musings.
"Here you are, Rose. One Country Omelet with wheat toast and sausage links." Ashley smiled and gestured to the full plate. "Enjoy."
"Thank you, Ashley. It looks scrumptious." The food smelled heavenly and Rose dug in with gusto.
By the time her plate was empty Rose felt pleasantly satisfied, if a little too full. Ashley stopped by to clear away the plate and drained glass of milk, impressed. "Wow. I'm guessing you liked it."
Rose smiled and nodded in response.
"Wonderful," the blonde laughed and made to leave with the dirty dishes when Rose asked the question she had meant to ask when she first walked in to the diner.
"Ashley, where is Gold's Pawn Shop?"
Ashley froze and sharply glared at the brunette biting her lower lip while fiddling with the cuff of her overly large jacket sleeves.
" the pawn shop is out the door and to the left. Go all the way to the stoplight and turn left again. You can't miss it," the blonde waitress flatly directed.
Rose, noticing the suspicious look and suddenly stiff manner of her new friend, mumbled her thanks before clearing her throat and getting up.
"Um, could you tell Ruby that I will be back later? After I run this errand?" Teal eyes brightened as Ruby's name passed Rose's lips, causing Ashley to smile a little and relax.
No one who obviously cared for Ruby that much could be working for Gold. He greatly disliked the Lucas family - Ruby in particular because she had called him out a few times on his bad behavior.
"Sure. See you around, Rose."
The women parted ways with a wave and Rose turned left as soon as she stepped out of the door.
Rose watched apprehensively as Mr. Gold hobbled over to the old well with the glowing glass bottle in hand. She had been hesitant to follow the man she found in the pawn shop, but he had looked at her with such hope that when he promised he would explain everything, after he had completed his task, she agreed to walk with him.
"There are many powerful energies in the world, Dearie. And this," Gold shook the small bottle between his fingers, "is one of them. True Love."
Rose squinted at the light inside the container, slightly confused but impressed nonetheless.
Without further ado, Gold stretched his hand out over the gaping maw of the brick well and dropped the entire bottle into it. A moment of silence, broken by a distant chime of glass shattering, was disrupted by the sudden rumbling of the ground.
Rose caught herself on a sapling while Gold leaned heavily on his cane to keep his balance.
"Brace yourself, Belle. Here it comes," he said with a sharp grin.
'Belle?' That was the second time he called her that. Rose filed the name away for a later thought. "What is?"
The older man close to the well grinned widely, his gold tooth winking in the afternoon light. "Magic."
Before the word could be properly processed, a sweeping wave of rainbow light slammed into the pair and Rose gave way to Belle - the curse broken.
The force of her memories returning all at once made Belle close her eyes against the headache that pounded against her temples. When her teal eyes opened again, they were heavy with knowledge and the memories of her many imprisonments.
He took a step toward her, hope shining so brightly in his dark eyes. "Yes, Belle."
Her face scrunched up in a curious mixture of relief and sadness as she looked upon him. "Oh, Rumpelstiltskin." Belle wrapped him into an embrace, the one person she had loved so long ago and had to leave too soon.
His voice broke as he whispered her name again before the sound of thunder roared up from the well once again. Both witnesses watched in awe as the well bubbled over with a purple, lightning streaked, mist that swirled around the bricks containing it. Then the mist erupted into the blue sky above and blotted out the sun.
Belle's breath caught in her throat at how ominous the billowing thunderhead that just kept getting bigger looked. "Magic for what purpose, Rumple?" she asked even as the cloud reached down with thick, wicked fingers to touch them.
"Power," he replied and embraced the return of all that he once was.
Belle, too, accepted the return of her personal brand of magic, but tempered her innocence and intrinsic belief in the goodness of others with her loneliness and isolation of the last 28 years. The rush of magic drained her of what little energy she had left to stand, but gave her back the comfort of being complete in her own skin. Bowing her head and taking a deep breath, Belle mourned the loss of 'Rose' then pushed herself back on to her feet. She can weather any adversity as long as she knows who she is. That is her greatest strength.
"Now, time to head back and see how our fair town is faring with its curse broken." Extending his hand, Rumple offered Belled assistance with navigating the path back to town. "Come along, Dearie."
Belle shook her head at his cavalier attitude over the outright chaos the return of magic will cause among the cursed denizens of Storybrooke. She settled her shoulders and stepped up next to him.
"No doubt there will be quite a bit of confusion and a lot of anger being expressed," Belle quipped as she accepted the helping hand.
"Ah, but the real question is, who will bear the brunt of it?"
Belle leveled a stern gaze on the smirking imp. "We all will."
The Dark One sobered at her response and said nothing as he led the way back to Storybrooke and what was waiting for them.
Half-way through the woods, Rumpelstiltskin stopped in his tracks and thrust out an arm to the side to catch Belle, keeping her from going any further.
"Oof!" Clutching his arm, bent over it for a moment, Belle shot her companion a puzzled glare. "Rumple, what is ?"
A loud growl tore Belle's teal eyes away from the tense figure of Rumple into the shadows of the trees right in front of them. A pair of glowing yellow eyes stared at them from behind the largest tree in the vicinity.
At first Belle was surprised to see those eyes during the day, but she did not need to be behind brick walls and iron bars to recognize her friend.
"Ruby!" Belle smiled widely and ducked under Rumple's arm to go to the woman that found her 25 years ago. It did not register that Ruby was not quite as she remembered her until the Dark One snatched Belle off of her feet, placing her behind him, and a giant black wolf was crouched, snarling, five feet from the imp.
"Ah, Little Red Riding Hood. It has been a while since we last met. You are looking a little wild after so long under the curse, Dearie. Perhaps you should go run it off."
The wolf barked sharply and snapped at the air with sharp gleaming white teeth in response to Rumpelstiltskin's derisive comments. She did not like how close he was to Rose either.
"Ruby?" Belle's tentative call caused the wolf's ears to perk forward from where they had lain against its skull as a small whine questioned the woman. Ruby sat back on her haunches to further put her friend at ease.
Once again, Belle stepped away from behind Rumpelstiltskin, dodging his attempt to keep her close, and approached her friend.
"Belle, what are you doing?" Rumple sternly asked but Belle paid no attention and reached out to the very large animal with a steady hand.
"So, Ruby, I was looking for you in town earlier, but it seems you found me instead. Again." Belle smiled as the great head lowered to sniff and eventually lick at her hand.
"When you are done petting the dog, we need to go," Rumple sneered at the two females greeting each other.
Ruby curled her lip with a growl and even Belle shot an unamused glare at the impish man.
"Ruby found me at the beginning, Rumple. When I was locked away in the hospital, per Regina's curse, Ruby came, spoke to me and kept me sane. Do not insult her." Belle warned.
Rumple flinched at the low blow. He had believed Belle to be dead and never imagined his belief was a well-crafted lie, spun to have power over him.
Ruby glanced between the two of them, sensing a story, but she interrupted anyway by nudging her snout under Rose's hand. 'Except it is not Rose. This is Belle.' Involuntarily a sad sound escaped Ruby's throat. Her 'Rose' was no longer just 'Rose', but another woman as well - just like she was more than just 'Ruby' now.
Belle answered with a scratch behind the cute ears. "We do need to get back to town, though, as Rumple said." Looking at the man, Belle directed her question to him. "Could you help her shift back?"
Scoffing, Rumple just waved at the wolf and explained that he was not needed. "The girl can change back. All she needs to do is let the magic boost she received from the cloud drain out. The wolf is using it to make an unscheduled appearance."
Even as he finished his lesson, the wolf seemed to shrink in upon itself and shortly thereafter crouched a young woman on her hands and knees.
"Ruby!" Belle launched herself into her friend, knocking them both to the forest floor.
Her excitement was contagious because Ruby laughed loudly and hugged the woman in her arms fiercely. "Rose!"
The connection they had formed from all those years meeting on moonlit nights had not faded in the wake of the return of magic and their memories of their separate lives in the Enchanted Lands. This bond had stayed steady and strong and gave both women comfort during this new chapter of their lives.
'Rose' became Ruby's special name for the new librarian of Storybrooke. The waitress would take lunch breaks in the library, joking that she needed to escape the walls of the diner once in a while. She never failed to bring a meal for Belle along with a beautiful blooming rose and it never failed to make Belle's heart flutter with something that felt a lot like love.
Wolfstime became Wolf-and-Belle's time. Ruby would run in the woods for as long as her wolf wanted, then she would turn back to town and hunt down Belle who sometimes went on long walks those full moon nights. And if Ruby could not find Belle outside, well, all she had to do was go to the library doors and howl. Belle always opened the door and invited Ruby in. Once in for the night they would sit and talk, or curl up together and sleep until dawn when the wolf melted away to let her human side begin the new day.
Many of their friends and family did not understand their friendship, especially after the pair admitted to having only just met in this world and before the curse was broken. But that friendship was so deeply felt by the both of them and steadfast in the face of many obstacles that sometimes it looked a lot like True Love.
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