((not the big project that I have been working on, but something special.))
(Anon Prompted: An old woman selling flowers)
There have been exactly thirty-three Dark Ones before Rumpelstiltskin.
He knows because he can hear them all— all thirty-three, whispers in his head. The old woman who stabbed her husband. The Old man who did it for youth. Countless others who did it for one boon or another. All of them warped now into what Rumpel knows as the buzzing behind his skull, the dark murmurs behind his ears.
The sparks of old magic at his fingertips.
He senses her before he even enters his room.
It’s the scent of old magic— like fire and brimstone and things. Dragons and Sphinxes and Phoenix and all of the old beasts that inspire terror like he does.
The Dark One purrs, anxious, pulls him in her direction like he always does. Like Magnets.
He materializes in a haze of smoke and anger, because this is his house, and people keep barging in.
First the idiot knight, and now this.
She isn’t fazed. Her eyes shine bright like stars and her dress looks like it could be on fire, the way the skirts moved. She has hair like brimstone.
The Dark One reaches out. She smacks him away with her magic. He recoils.
"Enchantress," Rumpelstiltskin bites. He doesn’t like her. Never has.
She looks at him through her bright eyes, watching, emotionless. “An ‘old woman selling flowers’,” she ponders. She’s something unnatural, something old like him (the Dark One). “I may be five times your age, Rumpel, but I hardly think I look it.”
He snarls, his magic whipping between them. She’s older, and the Dark One knows it, but it doesn’t stop him from pushing the furniture around with his mind.
She opens her palms flat out turned towards him, an offering of peace. “Be still, Dark One. I have not come to harm you.”
The Dark One recoils, having being called out. The Buzzing feeling returns, as it always does. When the Enchantress is near, it gets louder.
It sounds like thirty-three previous Dark Ones screaming.
She watches, she does. He doesn’t like it. Makes him feel uncomfortable. “What do you want?”
The Enchantress says nothing. Looking straight at her is like staring at the sun, even with his dark eyes. “How did you even get in here?” He demands, “I put seals on every stone!”
"I walked through the front door."
Rumpel stops short, cutting the head off the steam that was building in his chest. He deflates, because that means that she probablywalked right past his little Belle, and that meant he was going to have to get some new security procedures.
"Yes, well," Rumpel pauses, narrowing his eyes at her dangerously. "I’m not in the mood for making deals today, dearie." He scrunched up his grin and showed his fangs. "You should probably leave.”
The Enchantress looks at him up and down appraisingly. “What, and leave you to your transformation spell?” She gestures airily to the rose he had clenched in his fist— the old charmer of Belle’s.
“Get out,” he growled. She and the Dark One dance around again without moving. Waits, watches, an invisible battle going on between them as she stares unblinkingly somewhere above his ribcage. When all that settles, she looks up at him.
Nonplussed. “I told you, I did not come to wage war.”
"That’s not the way things have been for the last hundred years,” Rumpel says, he thinks warily of his little Belle downstairs, and how easily she could become a casualty in an all-out war with the Enchantress— who could, he surmises, be his complete equal in magic.
"Hundred years, what is a hundred years to someone like me?" She asks, it should sound haughty to him but her voice laces her words with a sorrow that he can’t name. "You are young," she says. "You have much to learn, still."
He spits at her face. The liquid stops in mid-air as if it had hit an invisible wall and slides down. She doesn’t even flinch. “I said get out.”
She humphs. Looks guilty. “I have come with a gift,” she tries again, and Rumpel narrows his eyes, doubts what she says. “I came to warn you,” she finishes.
She nevercomes to help him. She’s foiled and besmirched dozens of his perfect deals. The Dark One hums again in Rumpelstiltskin’s mind, makes the sound in the back of his head loud and violent. “Warn me about what, dearie?” He sneers.
There has always been something about her that the Dark One has never liked. But at the same time, he had always grown more restless when she was around.
She brings only trouble, Rumpel hears the dark one murmur.
Fire and brimstone, he thinks. Hellfire.
“I feel something changing,” she starts, touching the edge of his bed with an ashen hand. “Moving, beneath the ground. Around all of us. Something is about to happen. I just wanted to warn you.”
Rumpel doesn’t believe the Enchantress for a second. The Dark One growls something that sounds an awful like, trusted her once too many.
She looks at him coldly with empty eyes. “I am not trying to trick you,” she says something else but the words fall on temporarily deaf ears, after which the Dark One’s howls ring through his head.
She could say something that halts the Dark One.
When he next opens his eyes, the Enchantress is much closer. She grabs at his hand and takes it, flipping it over and examines the tips of his ill-managed fingers. He pulls away but finds her grip like hard stone. He can’t break it. It’s the hand without the idiot gripped tightly in a clenched fist. She stares at his palm in wonder.
She doesn’t say what she is thinking, but the Dark One knows her well enough to read her general idea.
You are turning human.
She drops his hand like it had suddenly grown too hot. He wipes it of her filth.
“Careful not to break your little Belle,” she cautions. “She’s strong and vivid,” she pauses, “But even the oldest trees may fall down upon you.”
He snarls— completely not calm about having this witch’s magic touch and know his little Belle like he did, cursing as he lets the Dark One whip sharp slices in her direction. He stirs not a single curl against her head.
She twinkles, smiles, winks, and in swirls of white silk and cloth, she disappears from his room, leaves the ethereal scent of her magic as the only sign that she stood there seconds ago.
The bedside tables throw themselves around violently; they crash against the wall with loud thuds. The stone wall shatters and breaks against his will. He will spend all night reinforcing the spells and wards around his castle, he vows. He will keep anything from getting in, and anything from getting out.
It’s a few minutes later as he breathes against the cold stone, pauses, turns. He saunters back into their dining hall with the old prince hidden away behind his back.
Belle turns to him, a little smile upon her face. “Who was that?”
He ho-hums airily. “Just an old woman selling flowers.” He gives a little bow, and hands his Belle her old lover— complete with red petals. And thorns.