Emma arrives at the Dark Castle and tries to deal with the newly impish Mr. Gold.
She arrived in the Dark Castle wishing to vomit.
“Jesus, Gold.” Emma swayed on her feet and placed a hand over her mouth. “Why didn’t you warn me?”
Purple smoke cleared. The Dark Castle stood as it had since Rumpelstiltskin first built the enchanted palace. Only several layers of dust changed the place since its master’s disappearance over three decades ago.
Light spilled in through large, clear windows. It caressed the large table that dominated the room. A tea set—missing one cup—sat at one edge, like it was still waiting for the guest to come. An old chair, wooden and rickety, sat in one corner facing nothing while far fancier chairs faced a fireplace or was pushed against walls next to suits of armor or dead plants. The only living thing was a single perfect rose in the center of the table. It was still alive; vibrant and red in its dry vase.
“What did you think would happen, dearie?” Gold gave her a smirk, or rather a caricature of a smirk. It was too wide and large to be a real facial expression. He set his cane on the table and stared for a minute. Then he shook himself and disappeared—sans smoke. Emma was alone in the room. Her nausea almost managed to settle before he appeared at her side. She yelped and nearly swung a fist at him but stopped when she saw what he wore.
Leather pants, literal leather pants, with knee high boots and a vest, red and shimmering and apparently made of something that looked a lot like scales. His shirt was an old fashioned shirt, puffy, off white and utterly not matching the quiet pawn shop owner she had known back in Storybrooke.
“What are you wearing?” she demanded.
“Feels more natural.” He said in a non-answer then gestured to the table. Emma turned. Books—all brown leather and tied closed with cords—fell onto the table in a rush; spilling over the sides. Her eyes widened.
“We have to read all those?”
“Oh, you can’t read them.” He sniggered and sneered. Emma’s hands balled into tight fists. “These are just my old journals. Need to find some failed plans and this is the best way. Might as well make yourself comfortable, dearie, this will take a while.”
He grabbed a book and opened it. He flicked through a few pages then tossed it over his shoulder. It disappeared into another cloud of purple. Emma frowned and reached for a book but before her fingers got even close a sharp shock singed her fingertips.
“Ah, ah.” Gold wagged one finger in her face and smirked. It was even uglier here with yellow teeth and strange eyes. “No one who has ever wished to harm me can read these books. I suggest you sit.” He waved a hand and the chair closest to her pulled out. Emma stared then deliberately went around it to a different chair. She didn’t trust Gold, and she really didn’t trust this prancing flamboyant lizard Gold has become.
“So I’m just supposed to sit here while you go through all these books?”
“You can try and find the kitchen.” He threw the second book over his shoulder and grabbed another. “Or you could clean up the place.” He started it as a joke, the high pitched giggle almost in his voice but then he looked out the window and everything went…wistful. Emma frowned. She shifted in her chair, already bored, and thought back to the field.
“You said you have a son?”
“Had.” He said simply and threw the book over his shoulder. He barely fanned through the pages, occasionally stopping to stare but mostly just a quick look then a toss.
“What happened to him?”
“Lost him.” He paused in a book, finger on the page but eyes not seeing. “Let him go.” He said at last.
For a moment, Emma can remember the first and last time she ever held Henry. She hadn’t wanted too, a nurse handed him to her before she could protest. He was tiny, spotted with pink and already screaming his head off. But before he screamed, he had stared at her for a long moment. He had his father’s eyes. Emma had demanded they take him, all but forced the baby into the nurse’s arms. She wouldn’t feed him. She wouldn’t comfort him. She had said she wasn’t this boy’s parent. He already had one. The paperwork was all lined up. Emma hadn’t wanted to grow attached.
But he had his father’s eyes and that was information Emma didn’t need.
“Yeah. Know that.” She said, voice hollow.
Gold giggled, his annoying new laugh, but it didn’t sound right either.
“Quite different, dearie. You gave your boy to a fine home with lots of money.”
“I gave him to Regina!”
Gold shook his head. He turned on heel and caught her with a look. She couldn’t read this new face of his, scaled and eyes always in a pinpoint. But if she trusted her old instincts, she’d say he was being honest, achingly so.
“You didn’t know that, couldn’t know that. Odds were higher of it not being Regina than being Regina.” He turned back to the books, tossing the one in his hand for another. “Besides, all worked out. Boy got a Savior for a mother. You got a hero for a boy.”
Her heart constricted. Henry’s begging for her to understand, his desperation the moment he bite into the turnover, how much he trusted her…Yes, her boy was a hero. She had no idea how long it would take for her to believe if he hadn’t been in danger. Magic and love weren’t real…or so she thought. Now the man in front of her, a man she doesn’t trust and didn’t like, was right. He understood and that said awful things for his past. What had he lost?
“And what did you do?” she asked.
He turned, only slightly, but she couldn’t see his face. He flipped through more pages of the journal.
“I let him go.” He said at last. “To a strange place. Alone. Without even a Regina to guide him.” The book’s pages fluttered in the breeze…except the windows weren’t open. His hands trembled. Emma paused. She was no good at emotional stuff. She didn’t handle her emotions well; unless it involved punching or screaming. But carefully, she reached out and laid a hand on his shoulder. He flinched and stared at the book. But after a moment, he brushed against her hand. A silent acknowledgment of touch and acceptance.
“We’re going back.” She promised him.
“Of course we are, dearie.” He gave a sniff and moved from her hand. “If you stop bothering me.”
Emma jerked back, the moment gone, but she flopped back into the chair he had pulled out for her. She looked at the books. There could be hundreds spilling over the long table. Even at his fast rate, they’d be there forever. She frowned though, tilting her head to the side.
The flower still stood in the middle. Books surrounded it but the vase stood tall and proud. And it was so…alive. Even in the forest, there was a…saturation to this world, like someone turned the volume down on the whole place. Magic, Emma assumed only because really thinking about it would drive her mad. She still needed time to think and scream and cry but she wouldn’t leave Gold alone. He could leave and then what would she do. No, to her disgust, she needed him. So she’d stay in the chair.
“Hey.” She sat up in the chair.
“What did I say about bothering me?” Gold half trilled.
“What’s with the rose? It’s still alive.”
Gold looked up then smirked again.
“Oh, someone didn’t make the trip.” He sniggered.
He waved one hand. Glass shattered and where there once was a flower was a man. He blinked on the table. Then he started feeling over himself, touching booted feet first then rushing up his body and down his limbs. Gold simply grabbed another journal.
“What is going on?” Emma jumped from her chair, reaching for her gun. The man matched the action, but reaching for his sword.
“Monster! What have you done—?”
“Tut.” Gold tossed another book. “Too much noise.” He flicked his wrist again. A rose, whole and healthy, fell onto the table.
Emma drew her gun.
“What the shit are you doing, Gold?” She barely stopped herself from screaming. Her voice shook with the effort of keeping it mostly level.
“Answered your question. He’s some hero. Came for…” Gold trailed off. He put the journal he held down, not tossed away, then reached deeper into the pile. He pulled out one book, it’s cord hanging free. “Some girl.” He said at last, after it was far too late to pretend he couldn’t remember.
“What the hell is going on? You’re acting insane and this magic thing is doing something to you.”
He laughed, like he did in the field, insane and empty, so there was no joy in the noise.
“It’s a curse, dearie.” He bared his teeth at her in what only the kindest of souls would call a smile. Emma wasn’t a kind soul. She cocked her gun. “Please.” He said it almost sadly and lifted a hand.
“No!” She tucked the gun away, worried she’d be left with only one single rose. He giggled.
“Now you’re getting it. Good, the grand Savior can learn.” He pushed the unwrapped journal to the side and picked up the one he set down. “Now if she will be quiet….”
“What about him?” She pointed to the rose.
“What about him?” Gold raised an eyebrow at her. “He’s a buffoon. No use around and at least he’s alive. Better than I can say for some people.” He shrugged, as careless and unaffected as some fop from an old movie but his tone was dark and bitter.Emma frowned.
“You can’t leave him like that.”
“And yet I am. Now, quiet.”
“That—” He slammed the book on the table then froze. He took one deep breath and turned to her. He curved his lips up and spoke deliberately. “That is not my name.”
“What are you talking about?” Emma swallowed, harder than she would like but she met his eye. She never let herself be bullied before and she wouldn’t now.
“I told you my name. Mr. Gold is not my name. Not here. Look, if I do something about the buffoon, will you go away? Find the kitchen. Get food. Cry. Do…something.” He waved his hands at her, trying to shoo her away.
“And how will I know you won’t leave?” “
Because I don’t want you in my house. Now go.” He waved again. She gave him a long look and he sighed. “Here.” He tilted his head to the side and something landed around her neck. She jerked back, clutching at it and felt a flat stone resting at the base of her neck. It was flat and smooth. Gold nodded towards the corner. A mirror stood there, half covered, the blanket half slipped off at some point. Emma walked over, tugging it all the way down. A pretty, if thin, gold chain lead to a hanging pendent, rose and smooth—like polished quartz—with a small rose inside. Emma wasn’t sure how she felt about jewelry from Gold but when she tugged at it, it wouldn’t move. Thankfully the chain was too short to touch her boobs, Emma wouldn't be pleased to be a free pillow for some stranger.
“When we get back to Storybrooke, the buffoon will wake at Moe’s shop. The two knew each other once.” Gold said into a journal. “Until then, he will be safe and quiet with you. Okay? I’m being nice.”
Emma glanced at him in the mirror. Moe? The florist? He came for some girl. You had her love. You let her go! Before the wraith came, there were some rumors; Gold being seen with a girl. Someone young and pretty. Emma hadn’t had time to think about it, the world was going mad.
She looked at the necklace in the mirror again then turned.
“If that’s you being nice, then I’m sorry for your girlfriend.” She said it like a joke, but he flinched at the words. “Where’s the kitchen?”
He carefully turned the page and pointed to a hallway. She’s almost out of the room before he spoke.
“Castle’s enchanted. Ask and you shall receive, but it doesn’t know modern food so keep it simple. Okay, dearie?”
“Yeah, sure. Rumpel.”
Gold glanced up, one eyebrow raised. Emma tried to mimic his smirk and left. This wasn’t going to be a fun adventure.
But it would be one.
from here: http://archiveofourown.org/works/811052/chapters/1531556