After years of being held captive in the Evil Queen’s tower, time seemed to stand still when she finally found herself outside the terrifying castle, the pirate that had set her free urging her to go quicker.
"Hurry up, princess," he said impatiently, and for a moment Belle wondered if he actually knew she was a princess - or if it was just a pet name he had picked for her.
"So where are we going?" she asked curiously as she ran after him on her bare feet, ignoring the pain she felt on her sensitive soles, looking at the trees and bushes around her - the first green things she had seen in years.
But after more than three years in that cell, she realized that her feet had been spoiled. Sure, it had been a cold cell, and in winters it had felt like her toes would freeze off, but other than that she hadn’t been in any pain. Until now. Every rock and branch beneath her feet sent a stab of pain through her leg as she stepped on them. She tried not to think about it. Not now she knew she had to run.
"We travel east," the pirate told her. "To the kingdom of Snow White and Prince Charming, who have captured your True Love.”
Belle’s heart jumped at the idea of being reunited with him. Oh how she had missed him in her cell. How he had haunted her dreams, and how her heart had ached with each daydream she had had of reuniting with him.
But never had she imagined her love to be locked up - betrayed and captured, with no way of getting out. Unless she broke his curse, of course. That was what Killian had told her. If she kissed him and broke the curse, then he would be no threat, and he could be released again.
She realized it was easier said than done, but maybe this time… Maybe after all those years… he would let her.
Or maybe he would hold no feelings for her whatsoever, a small voice in Belle’s mind reminded her.
It took an hour before they reached the horses that Killian had hidden in the forest, and just as they mounted them, they could hear dogs barking in the distance.
"I fear the Queen is on to us," Killian announced, sounding brave, but unable to completely hide the fear in his voice, and he turned to Belle. “Ride! Ride and don’t look back. I’ll distract them - and if fate will allow it, we will see each other again soon enough!”
Nodding quickly, she did as she was told, realizing she was in no condition to fight anyone - least of all the Queen - and while Killian traveled in the opposite direction, prepared to battle the Evil Queen Regina herself, Belle raced towards the Kingdom in the east, where she hoped to find sanctuary. And maybe - more than that - her happily ever after with Rumpelstiltskin.