Fandom: Once upon a time.
Characters: Archie Hopper, Ruby, Henry, Belle; Rumpelstiltskin, Milah, Baelfire, Hordor, the Dark One.
Categories: Time travel, changing history, what if, light character study. (action? Adventure?)
Story summary: Belle's fondest wish is granted, and everyones' problems will be over -- if she can stop Rumplestiltskin from ever becoming the Dark One. What's the worst that could happen?
Chapter 1: The wish. At LJ: Chapter 1.
Chapter 2: Introductions afresh. At LJ: Chapter 2.
…Chapter summary: The day after that encounter in the bar, Rumpelstiltskin and Milah meet our heroes. And the Dark One has plans.
Chapter 3: Perhaps a change of scenery. At LJ: Chapter 3.
…Chapter summary: The problem with leaving for new lands isn't the destination - entirely.
Sometimes, its in us
Chapter 4: I put the choice to you. At LJ: Chapter 4.
…Chapter summary: Why the Dark One hates the Time Traveler... And what the Duke does to friends.
Disclaimer: I own none of the canon characters, locations, or spells.
Feedback is always welcome.
Deep in the mines of Storybrooke, the fairies were watching with bated breath as they beheld the dwarves chipping away at the rock around the diamonds. "Looks like soon enough you ladies will be able to do anything you want to again," Grumpy said to the fairies.
The Blue Fairy knew he was speaking more to Nova than to her, but she let it slide, given the immense importance of this day. And she was watching as Grumpy turned back around and landed his pick on one of the diamonds.
...which cracked open far easier than even dwarven picks should have been able to do. And all the dwarves flopped to the ground like dropped fishes in the next breath. The fairies fell seconds later, Nova reaching for Grumpy's hand.
Those diamonds dissolved into a something which was like smoke, like water, and like itself. As it took shape to walk the earth, it yawned, a noise which sounded like a terrible explosion. And as big as Storybrooke is, with its uncountedly-many citizens, everyone in the town was able to hear the explosion.
A minute earlier
at Mr. Gold's shop:
"Back again, are we?" Mr. Gold asked neighborly of the returning Prince Charming.
"I am. I thought you should know."
"Oh I'm always open to hearing the news."
"We found the diamonds," Charming said.
Well that's not good, Rumpelstiltskin thought, echoing in his noggin. "Diamonds, you say?" Mr. Gold asked, leaning on the counter.
Charming nodded. "That's right. We're going to grind them up to make fairy dust, and you can't stop us."
"Oh I wouldn't dream of it," Gold said with a casual grin.
"Why?" Charming asked, suddenly nervous about Mr. Gold's seeming indifference.
"Do you know how clocks work, dearie? Calendars from our fair land?"
He nodded. "Gears inside gears inside gears. Seconds inside minutes, which are inside hours. Days, inside weeks, inside months, inside of years."
Mr. Gold nodded. "Go on."
"Years fit inside a king's reign. King-years fit inside the era of a Dark Lord."
"Precisely. And may I say your wedding was a lovely second day of the second month of the first year of your reign in my humble era," Rumpelstiltskin said.
"You may," Charming said. "But what does this have to do with the diamonds? You're as powerless here as Regina."
Your daughter still hadn't told you, I see. Nor has Belle. "What do you think the gear of Dark Ones fits within, dearie?"
"And yet you found diamonds."
"You didn't find unpowdered fairy dust - you found the outer ring while It was taking a nap."
"They're in danger?"
"Oh they're most likely dead -" and the explosion's sound wave roared over them. "Yes, definately now." Rumpelstiltskin smiled. "And if you're thinking about threatening me or trying to blame me for this, don't bother."
"What is it we're dealing with now?" Charming asked.
"Something you should have left asleep."
"How do we get rid of It?"
"From what I understand, you accept Its deal," Mr. Gold said.
"What deal will It offer?" Charming asked.
"I don't know."
"You don't know?"
"Correct. See, I was always willing to avoid waking It up."
Belle was walking back home from the library, when she found herself standing just a few yards away from the entrance to the town mine. Not a lot of happy memories here.
"Belle?" Ruby asked, standing next to her...and next to Dr. Hopper and Henry.
"How did we get here?" Henry asked. And he - like everyone else - noticed the man walking up from the depths of the mine. "Did you do this, Mr...?"
"Four is a good number," the man said.
"Why us?" Belle asked.
"That's not an answer."
Is that his answer?
To the four of them, "Know what you desire the most in all the worlds. Know it, and I will grant it to you." Then he licked his lips, "Fail, and I shall eat."
"You have a name?" Ruby asked, feeling the wolf inside her...curling up and hiding?
"Nothing you would know. Call me what you will. Minds require names."
Not knowing what else to call him, Belle picked the first name that came to mind - Cthulhu...and then hoped it wasn't entirely accurate.
"I want my mom back!" Henry said.
"She's back where we all came from, Henry," Archie said quietly.
The man gave the impression he approved. "Yes. Caution. Exercise it."
"Can you undo curses?" Ruby asked.
Sensing what thoughts that question sparked in one of the other human's minds, the man said "Yes. If it is what you want." The thought held an intriging taste, and much possibility.
"No," Archie said with more force than Henry or Ruby had seen him demonstrate. "No, we need to stem this at the source."
Agreed, Belle thought.
Archie continued: "We have to get to Regina before she becomes evil. If we can talk to her -"
"We have to try."
"Oh yes. Trying is important," the man said.
"It is," Belle said.
"Be aware," Cthulhu said.
"Be aware that you may only attempt this the once. If the historical event is unaltered, you and your companions will be returned to here, and I shall eat you last."
"And should we be successful?" Belle asked.
"Then I will not have been awoken. Then I will remain in a peaceful slumber."
"Sounds fair," Ruby said, having a bad feeling about this guy's appetite.
"Good. And go," and that was the last thing any of them heard in this world.
after daybreak of the 4th day of the 7th month of the 17th year of the reign of King Yr, in the era of Zoso:
"Where are we?" Henry asked, looking around. "Why is the sky like that?"
Looking where he was looking, Belle found that she did not enjoy seeing vivid red skies by day any more now, than she had when she was growing up. "Ogres," Belle said. "That means they're approaching. It means the battle lines are coming nearer than they were.
"That doesn't make sense," Archie said. "Neither Regina nor the Whites ever lived anywhere near the battlefields."
"Hey, you know a lot of flags and stuff, right?" Ruby asked, having been looking to another direction this entire time.
"Yes," Archie and Belle both answered.
"Cool. Either of you know who that is?" Ruby asked, pointing to a flag flying over a castle between them and the one horizon which wasn't a red sky.
"No," Archie said.
"Afraid not," Belle seconded.
"Damn. Well, it was worth a tr- Whoa. That's green," Ruby said, looking at the vest Archie was wearing in this time and place.
Archie looked at what he was wearing. "I haven't worn clothes like these in a long time."
"I missed you," Red said to her red cloak and favorite dress, which she was wearing.
"Ugh," Henry said.
"What's the matter?" Archie asked him.
"These are the clothes my grandpa got me for when I'm cleaning out my horse's stall in the stables."
"Pretty much my story here," Belle said, wearing similarly grubby clothes, the sort one could get muddy without concern. "Only it wasn't just one horse." Figured it would be fun to help a guy named Hercules do some challenging chores so he could be reunited with his loved ones. But when we were almost done, I was captured by a man named Killian Jones, and then I ended up in Regina's custody for a little over twenty-eight years.
A little boy ran up to them from, Ruby assumed, the nearby village. Or the forest. Nothing wrong with a forest. "Hey," Ruby said.
"Hi. Are you new here?" the boy asked.
"Yeah," Henry said.
Archie looked around, focusing on behind them on the road, in case he needed to suggest their wagon and supplies were taking an awfully long time.
"I'm Henry," Henry said.
"I'm Baelfire," said the boy.