By Sara West (@Montreat11)
The news came from the Once Upon a Time set just before Christmas. Slowly, details began to emerge. There was a kiss. It involved my favorite character from this show: Belle! And Robert Carlyle was there! At first it seemed like the reconciliation was on the way, but reports of who kissed who came flooding in, and then there were months of speculation as we waited for the hiatus to end to learn if it was really true. Finally the dreaded confirmation came on the Sunday “Unforgiven” aired. It was true. It wasn’t just any kiss; it wasn’t the reunion of two beloved characters as I’d hoped. In fact it was quite the opposite. Belle had not been seen kissing Rumpelstiltskin, but rather Will Scarlet while Rumpelstiltskin watched on.
Months ago when this news surfaced, of course I was upset, every die-hard Rumbeller was, but as the days began to pass and I began considering what it was that would bring two characters like Belle and Will Scarlet together, I came to a surprising conclusion: this was a good thing.
I know this is not a popular opinion in the Rumbelle fandom at the moment and this proclamation has the potential to make me a bit of a pariah, but I promise you I’m not crazy. Just hear me out and allow me to explain why this will be good for we Rumbellers in the end.
Belle and Will have a lot in common. If you watched Once Upon a Time in Wonderland you know that. For those of you that didn’t, allow me to give you the cliff notes version.
Will Scarlet has a True Love of his own: Anastasia, also known as the Red Queen and Cinderella’s step-sister. She and Will fell in love and planned a life together in Wonderland so that she could escape her mother’s outrageous expectations after her step-sister married a prince. But when they arrived they had only the clothes on their back. They were paupers. Sleeping outside, stealing to survive, Will was used to it, but it took its toll on Anastasia. One day, when they attempted to steal from Wonderland royals, she found herself swept up by the promise of power, money, jewels, and a sturdy roof over her head. Will could give her love, but the King of Wonderland could give her the latter. When he caught her stealing and proposed to her, she chose to marry him and accept all that came with it. She even began learning the art of magic with the help of Cora.
Anastasia believed she could have it all, she thought she was doing what was best for Will by separating the two of them and choosing shelter, power, and her newfound magic over love. Will didn’t want power. He didn’t need shelter. As far as he was concerned they could have lived under a bridge. So long as he had Anastasia he would have been happy! Love was enough for Will, but it wasn’t enough for Anastasia. Sound familiar yet?
Will was crushed by Anastasia’s choice. So much so that he had his heart removed so he wouldn’t have to feel the pain of her betrayal because it was simply too much for him to bear. But it got better. As time went on Anastasia recognized the mistake she’d made, and during the course of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland she did in fact go back to Will. She realized that he was what she wanted more than her power and they began a journey together beyond death that ended with their marriage in the series finale.
Anastasia is gone now, and we still have no explanation for what happened to the pair of them. When it comes, I have a hunch we’ll discover it was in part due to Anastasia’s struggle between love and power; the struggle between need and want. The truth is that right now if there is anyone who knows what Belle is going through it is Will.
We all know that Belle is not a whiner. She doesn’t just complain to anyone that will listen, she doesn’t slander people out of spite, or even appear to seek others out when she is depressed. She suffers in silence until someone else brings up the problem and then confides in them if she feels she has their trust.
We will never see how Will and Belle got to know each other or what their first conversation looked like, but I think it’s safe to assume that when they met she latched onto him because he understood what she’d been through and was going through himself. They have a lot in common, a lot to talk about, a lot of emotions that they could work through together, and a desire to prove they can both make a relationship work. But here is the best thing about this relationship: it’s not going to go anywhere.
At the end of the day Belle still has Rumple and, until we know otherwise, Will still has Anastasia. Will and Belle will help each other. They will open the other up again to the possibility of being happy. They will teach each other what a healthy relationship looks like and what they both want from a relationship, but at the end of the day they will both realize that while they care for, and might even love each other, they just aren’t in love with each other. Both will come to the conclusion that they don’t feel like they did with their true loves. They will mutually decide to part amicably. The best part is that they will take what they’ve taught each other back to the relationships they truly want to fight for unto death.
Yes, I know. It does seem quick for Belle to “move on” from Rumple less than six weeks later. However, perhaps it is her ability to “move on” so quickly that should show us that she hasn’t.
“Moving on” by getting into another relationship is a classic move. Like anyone else would, Belle is trying to trick herself into believing that she is alright and at peace with what happened by acting like everything is fine. The more she refuses to say his name or call him only “Dark One” she proves how desperately she is trying to put space between her and him. After all that she’s been through, this new relationship for Belle is like declaring “I’m fine, I’m moving on, in fact I’m going to start dating again just to show how fine I am with all of this!” This kind of behavior is denial. Deep down Belle probably knows this. But it is like Adam and Eddy have been saying all along: she’s been through some major traumas in her life. If one of the ways that she copes with them is by dating someone who makes her smile, someone she can get comfortable with because he knows what she’s gone through, someone who teaches her what it is like to be actively pursued and in a good honest relationship…there are worse ways to go through denial.
So yes, seeing Belle with Will is strange. It is not something I’m jumping up and down for as a Rumbeller. But when I think of the good things that will come from it, that is what will make it all worth it in the end. It’s painful to watch Rumpelstiltskin see her with him…but it’s supposed to be. He needs to know that he can’t just be forgiven for what he’s done by saying he’s sorry.
We know Belle made mistakes in 4A too, but the difference is that she felt guilt and remorse for them. Has Rumple felt guilt and remorse for his mistakes? Maybe. We’ve seen flashes of it, but he doesn’t seem consumed by it as Belle is. Seeing her with someone else, someone that gives her the honesty she craves, that might just be the kick in the pants he needs to see that he can have love or power, want or need, his curse or Belle, but not both…and we all know in the end what he really needs is Belle. He will come to that conclusion, but he needs the opportunity to put up a fight for her and win her back. Will Scarlet will help her move back into a place where she is ready to accept Rumple’s fight. Painful as it is, this relationship will help him do that and put her also in a place to want to fight for this relationship to be a true relationship, not again, but for the first time.
It may be hard to watch but this is going to make them both happier and stronger in the long run, not to mention give us some wonderful opportunities for Rumple to put Belle first in the future. It’ll be the romance we’ve always hoped for, Rumbellers, just have patience. It’s going to hurt. We’re all going to have different opinions about what this means and why it’s happening but remember…Rumbelle is not over.
Check out Sara West’s Belle Missing Moments Fanfiction at FanFiction.net