Rumbelle - 1920s AU
Belle was just a member of the chorus, nothing really: she only danced in the speakeasy because she had no place else to go.
She regretted this the night they were raided, and she thought for ten unspeakable seconds that she would be caught, and thrown in jail with the rest of the trash.
She knew why: everyone did. The girls in the chorus, Mary Margaret and Ruby, even Ashley, had been gossiping about Mr Gold, the notorious gangster who sat more and more often in the darkest corner, sipping his whiskey and watching the show. Granny’d fended off Chief Swan for this long, but with Gold frequenting everyone was on edge.
The police raided, and Belle ran for her life.
Her heel broke in the crowd, when she was not ten feet from the exit and she stumbled and fell. She didn’t expect to be caught in strong arms, and hauled out of the building at a strange, swaying run. The man dragging her along was not a cop, she could tell from his spats. He was a patron.
“You need to learn to kick your shoes off in a rush,” the man said, gruffly, when the crowd had dispersed and the police passed them by. “No good getting yourself caught up in all this.”
She was breathless, frozen with just her skimpy costume and beads for warmth, her breath coming out in sharp little gusts of steam into the night air. “Thank you,” she said, helplessly, “You saved my ass.”
“Don’t mention it,” he said, in that same standoffish tone, and Belle finally glanced up. She didn’t have to look far, but she recognized him immediately: the man before her cast a shadow over the whole city, no matter how slender and slight his frame.
Mr Gold stood before her, one hand on his cane. She couldn’t say another word - everyone knew that he was dangerous, a killer, the leader of Storybrooke’s most feared gang - but he seemed not to care.
He shrugged his jacket off, negligently, and wrapped it around her trembling shoulders. “Get yourself home,” he said, “And don’t mention this to anyone, if you feel like waking up tomorrow morning.”
She gasped, and for a moment she saw the hint of a smile - almost abashed, ashamed even, strange as it seemed - fly over his lips. “That’s not a threat, Miss French,” he said, softly, “I’d not save you from Swan only to have you killed. My name tends to bring bullets, is all. I’d not have you put in danger.”
She only nodded, dumbly, and watched as, with a curiously formal bow, Gold made his way off down the alleyway, vanishing into the smoke.
Only then, as she stumbled in her broken heel toward the streetlights and cabs waiting, did she realise that she’d never told him her name.