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Belle
Belle French-Gold promo
General Information
Status: Deceased
Gender: Female
Species: Human
Family & Friends
Family: Sir Maurice/Moe French (father)
Colette (mother [deceased])
Baelfire/Neal Cassidy (stepson [deceased])
Henry Mills (step-grandson)
Gideon (son)
Malcolm/Peter Pan (father-in-law [deceased])
Fiona/The Black Fairy (mother-in-law [deceased])
Lucy Vidrio (step-great-granddaughter)
Relationships: Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold (husband [deceased])
Other Information
Aliases: Lacey
Belle Gold
Belle French
Mrs. Gold
Series Information
First appearance: Skin Deep
Last appearance: Leaving Storybrooke
Portrayer: Emilie de Ravin
Belle Gold (née French), briefly known as Lacey, is a fictional character in ABC's television series Once Upon a Time. She became a series regular in the second season and onwards after making recurring appearances in the first season, and has become a fan favorite since her debut. She is both based on the character from Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, and the Disney princess of the 1991 film of the same name.

She is protrayed by Emilie de Ravin.

View the Belle Gallery.

Character background

Belle is represented throughout the series as a hopeful individual who sees the best in people (occasionally, to a fault), a knowledgeable bookworm well-versed in many languages, and a steadfast heroine determined to help those in need.

Early life

Belle grew up in the Enchanted Forest as the daughter of Sir Maurice (Eric Keenleyside) and his wife Colette (Frances O'Connor). She always had a close relationship with her mother, having been introduced to her love for books by her and taught different skills such as translating fairy language. Belle also had a childhood friend by the name of Samuel. Besides this, not much else is known about Belle's childhood.

Nearing adulthood, Belle is startled to learn that her father's kingdom and the neighboring ogres are on the verge of war. Her father arranges for her to marry Sir Gaston (Wes Brown), a union to which Belle openly objects, though she agrees to go on a walk with him and, surprisingly, takes a liking to him. This all changes when she finds him torturing a young ogre, but she reluctantly agrees to marry him once the war officially begins, as her father believes that a military alliance with Sir Gaston's kingdom is their only chance to defeat the ogres.

During the war, Belle's family is forced to flee their castle; however, she and her mother take time to pack up some of their important books. An ogre storms the castle and kills Colette, and a traumatized Belle is left without any memory of the event. Desperate to know the truth, she travels to Arendelle where she meets Princess Anna (Elizabeth Lail). Anna takes her to rock troll Grand Pabbie (John Rhys-Davies) who is able to extract her memories and put them into a glowing purple pebble, which he instructs Belle to brew into a tea to restore her memory. However, due to an encounter with the Snow Queen (Elizabeth Mitchell), Belle loses the pebble and returns home empty handed.

Back home, Maurice confesses the truth to Belle, explaining how Colette sacrificed herself to save her daughter. This sets Belle on the track of becoming a hero, as she reveals to her father that on her trip she learned of a magical being who could help them: Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle). Maurice reluctantly sends for the Dark One, promising him gold in exchange for protecting their people from the ogres.

Rumplestiltskin agrees to protect the kingdom if Belle goes to live with him as his caretaker forever. Maurice and Gaston speak for Belle and reject the deal, but Belle says that no one will decide her fate and leaves with Rumplestiltskin.

Belle is frightened of Rumplestiltskin and his Dark Castle, as he shows her to her "room": a ghastly dungeon. Belle starts to see the softer side of her captor when she accidentally chips a teacup, expecting his wrath, and he brushes it off as nothing.

At one point during Belle's stay in the Dark Castle, Robin Hood (Tom Ellis) intrudes on the castle and attempts to steal a magic wand. The Dark One proceeds to torture Robin for theft. Feeling compassion for him, Belle releases Robin in her master's absence. When Rumplestiltskin returns, he demands she accompany him on his journey to find and kill the thief. When Belle and Rumple see that Robin had only stolen the wand to cure his sick and pregnant wife, Maid Marian, (Christie Laing), Rumple spares the thief's life. Belle embraces Rumplestiltskin, seeing that there's a man behind the beast, and he later gifts her with a library. It is implied that Belle and Robin Hood shared an encounter sometime after these events when Belle met the thief in his true form (Sean Maguire).

Some time later, Rumplestiltskin returns home one day with a stolen baby, which he leaves for Belle to care for. She's appalled by his actions and frightened by whatever he plans to do with the child, and so she sets out to unveil his plans. Belle sneaks into Rumple's library and translates a scroll that Rumplestiltskin left open on the table, written in ancient fairy language. This, however, was all part of Rumplestiltskin's plan, as he needed her to translate the incantation for him, and he locks her in the library tower to prevent her from interfering.

The Blue Fairy (Keegan Connor Tracy) subsequently frees Belle, and she finds Rumplestiltskin outside, using the child to bait the Black Fairy (Jaime Murray), whom he reveals to be his mother. Belle is horrified by the Black Fairy's heartless treatment of Rumplestiltskin, but nonetheless chides him for stealing the baby. Rumplestiltskin later allows Belle to return the child to its parents, Jack (Nick Hunnings) and Jill (Tammy Gillis).

Belle and Rumplestiltskin's bond is further explored when Belle is kidnapped by the Queens of Darkness - Maleficent (Kristin Bauer van Straten), Ursula (Merrin Dungey), and Cruella De Vil (Victoria Smurfit) - who ransom her for an enchanted gauntlet that Rumplestiltskin retrieved from Camelot. The Dark One meets the three women at Demon's Bluff with the gauntlet, and is given no choice but to hand it over when Ursula threatens Belle's life. Once again, she sees something good in him beneath the beast.

One day, Belle is sent out to the market by Rumplestiltskin when she stumbles upon her old friend Samuel, injured, so she brings him back to the Dark Castle to nurse him back to health. As it turns out however, he was only there to steal Rumplestiltskin's dagger and gain control over the Dark One, and so Belle betrays him to protect Rumple.

As Belle and Rumple grow closer, his attitude towards her becomes more playful and lighthearted. Belle opens up Rumple's nailed down curtains and even convinces him to share the story of his lost son Baelfire (Dylan Schmid). The Dark One agrees to tell Belle about Baelfire if she fetches him straw from the town, this being his backhanded way of setting her free after having developed genuine feelings for her. Though Belle plans not to return at first, she encounters the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) on the road and learns that Rumplestiltskin's Dark One curse can be broken with a kiss of true love. Realizing that she's in love with the Dark One and that he loves her back, Belle returns and attempts to break his curse, only for it to backfire when Rumplestiltskin learns it was the Queen's idea. He lashes out at Belle and sends her back to the dungeon, and eventually kicks her out of his castle altogether, claiming that his power means more to him than she does. Belle argues that power won't be enough for Rumple and that he is only doing this because he doesn't believe anyone could truly love him. Before leaving, she says, "Now, you've made your choice. And you're going to regret it. Forever. All you'll have is an empty heart... and a chipped cup."

Rather than return home to her friends and family, Belle spends some time in a local tavern where she meets a dwarf named Dreamy (Lee Arenberg). After convincing him to go after his love (Amy Acker), he encourages her to seek out adventure and join a group of men on the hunt for a beast known as the Yaoguai. She does so, but the men ignorantly discredit a woman's ability to hunt and kick her off their wagon, so she sends them in the wrong direction and proceeds to hunt the creature herself.

She befriends a warrior princess named Mulan (Jamie Chung), and they are eventually able to track down the Yaoguai. However, as it turns out, this beast has merely been trying to communicate with them. With the aid of some fairy dust given to her by Dreamy, Belle restores the creature to its true form: Prince Phillip (Julian Morris). While Phillip and Mulan go off together in order to rescue Princess Aurora (Sarah Bolger), Belle decides to return to Rumplestiltskin. She's unable to do so, however, when the Evil Queen arrives to take her captive. As she is taken away, Belle vows that the Queen cannot keep her and Rumple apart forever, and she will never stop fighting for him.

Having safely locked up Belle in her castle, the Evil Queen pays a visit to the Dark Castle and falsely informs Rumplestiltskin that Belle was rejected and imprisoned by her father upon returning home, which drove her to commit suicide. The tale leaves the Dark One utterly heartbroken. After the Evil Queen leaves, he removes an elaborate silver goblet from its display pedestal in his castle, replacing it with the teacup that Belle chipped.

Belle is later sought out by Captain Hook (Colin O'Donoghue), an old enemy of Rumplestiltskin's who believes that the Dark One's former maid may know the key to his undoing. Belle refuses to aid in his quest, stating that she doesn't know how to kill Rumplestiltskin and wouldn't even if she could. Disappointed at the lack of information, Hook knocks her unconscious and prepares to kill her, but the Evil Queen intervenes as she believes Belle to be a "valuable chess piece." Belle remains in the Queen's captivity until the casting of the First Curse.

Season 1

When the Evil Queen enacts a powerful Dark Curse that transports everyone in the Enchanted Forest to the town of Storybrooke, Maine with false memories for 28 years, Belle spends those 28 years locked in an unmarked cell in the psychiatric ward beneath the town hospital. Unlike the other townspeople, Belle was left a blank slate of memories and set to serve merely as a prisoner in order to keep her away from Mr. Gold, the Storybrooke equivalent of Rumplestiltskin. However, when time starts moving again and Mr. Gold regains his memories of his past life in the Enchanted Forest (thanks to David's mention of his daughter, Emma), he forms a vendetta against Belle's father, Moe French, blaming him for driving her to suicide. Sheriff Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) arrests Gold when he beats Moe French nearly to death. While behind bars, Regina returns the chipped teacup to Gold, in exchange for him confirming that he remembers his life pre-curse. She then proceeds to check in on a locked-up Belle, who appears confused and absolutely miserable.

As the Dark Curse nears its end thanks to the Savior's growing belief in magic, things start to fall apart for Regina. This includes her alliance with Jefferson, the Mad Hatter (Sebastian Stan), whom she breaks a deal with after he procured her the poisoned apple that she used on Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin). Knowing that he himself cannot do anything against Regina, Jefferson breaks Belle out of her cell and instructs her to seek out Mr. Gold, who will protect her (and also, Jefferson presumes, enact revenge on Regina for him).

Belle finds Mr. Gold in his pawnshop, shocking Gold beyond belief as he spent decades believing she was dead. He embraces her, confusing her as she has no memory of him.

The two are headed towards the town's wishing well, which has the power to restore lost things, when the curse is broken by Emma's true love's kiss to Henry. Belle's memories are instantaneously restored. She embraces Gold, whom she now calls by his true name of Rumplestiltskin, and declares her love for him, which he finally reciprocates. Gold puts their reunion on a short hold, though, as he proceeds to drop a vial of true love into the well and bring magic back to Storybrooke.

Season 2

Though Belle has been reunited with Rumplestiltskin, he continues to struggle against his dark impulses. Upon learning that Regina had locked Belle up for nearly thirty years, he summons a wraith to suck out Regina's soul, condemning her to a fate worse than death. A disappointed Belle temporarily leaves him. She soon returns though, deciding she can't give up on him just yet, and they continue to pursue a relationship.

Belle moves in with Rumple, as she is oblivious to her father trying to find her. When he does, he attempts to force her over the town line to make her forget about her life with Rumplestiltskin. Rumplestiltskin uses magic to save her from being forced over the town line, but the incident makes Belle upset with both her father and Rumple, whom she now knows is continuing to practice magic.

Though she cuts ties with both of them, she eventually gives Rumple another chance upon realizing that he's attempting to change, giving her wardenship of the town library and setting her up with the apartment above it. They then agree to go out and get a hamburger, as Belle has never had one before.

As Belle explores life in Storybrooke, she comes to befriend Ruby (Meghan Ory), who involuntarily transforms into a wolf during every full moon. Belle stands by Ruby and insists that she is not the monster many believe her to be, as Belle sees the goodness in her heart. Meanwhile, Belle and Rumple grow closer, as they continue to go on dates like lunch at Granny's Diner and a picnic in Rumple's pawnshop. However, interruptions occur frequently as the town panics due to the arrival of Regina's mother, Cora (Barbara Hershey), who has become a new threat to them all.

Belle supports Rumple in his mission to find a loophole around the town line barrier in hopes of going out in search of his long-lost son, but ventures out on her own when it is revealed that Captain Hook attacks her in the Storybrooke library. Recognizing a nautical knot found in the library after Hook's attack, Belle realizes that Hook and his ship are in Storybrooke. She goes to the docks, penetrates Cora's invisibility spell to get on board, and rescues Archie Hopper (Raphael Sbarge) from his imprisonment on the Jolly Roger. As Belle searches the ship for a magical cloak that Hook stole from Gold's shop, the pirate himself appears and trains a gun on her as he explains the reasons behind his relentless pursuit of revenge against "the crocodile" (his derogatory nickname for Rumplestiltskin). Belle is horrified to learn that Rumple was actually the one who killed his first wife, Milah, out of anger that she left him (and their son, Baelfire) for Hook.

Belle seizes Baelfire's cloak and makes a run for it, but her escape is blocked by Hook. Thanks to Archie, however, Rumple is aware of what's happening. He appears on board the Jolly Roger and beats Hook to Belle's horror, as she begs him to show her that her faith in him is justified.

After Rumple spares Hook's life and prepares to leave town to find Baelfire, Hook shoots Belle in revenge. The gunshot sends her tumbling across the town line, causing her to lose her memory, just as an outsider drives into Storybrooke. Though Rumple is able to heal Belle's wound immediately, she's escorted to the hospital to be kept under intensive care while suffering from amnesia. Rumple attempts to get through to Belle by showing her the chipped teacup, a remnant of their life together, but a scared and confused Belle throws and smashes the cup. Heartbroken, Rumple leaves.

Ruby visits Belle in the hospital but is disappointed that she doesn't remember who she is. When Belle recalls Rumple healing her wound with magic, as well as creating a fireball to throw at Hook, Ruby acts as though Belle isn't making any sense. Belle knows what she saw though, sending her into a frenzy, prompting a nurse sedating her. She later learns that she isn't alone in her belief, for she is approached by Greg Mendell (Ethan Embry) (who is actually Owen Flynn), who reveals that he saw the same thing at the town line.

With Regina and Cora now working together, Regina visits Belle in the hospital in an attempt to learn where Rumple's Dark One dagger is located. Rumple is later poisoned with Dreamshade by Hook, and on his deathbed Rumple calls Belle at the hospital to speak to her one last time, telling her that although she cannot remember it, she is a hero. Their call ends, but Rumple is cured when Snow sacrifices Cora's life for Rumple's.

Belle is relieved when Rumple visits her, seeing that he's still alive. Their happiness does not last though, as Regina magically instills a new persona in Belle - a party girl with loose morals by the name of Lacey - whom Rumple finds at the local bar after she's discharged from the hospital. The two don't initially click, but Rumple is able to make it work when he discovers that, unlike Belle, Lacey is attracted to his dark side.

They continue to pursue a relationship, but Hook is furious to learn that Rumple is still alive when he sees the couple walking around Storybrooke. Lacey serves as a bad influence for Rumple, which goes noticed by Baelfire, now known as Neal (Michael Raymond-James), whom Rumple has brought back to Storybrooke.

Lacey soon learns that Rumple possesses magic, including the ability to grant her eternal youth. She reacts positively and suggests that Rumple do what he must to preserve their future together, oblivious to the fact that it means killing Rumple's own grandson, Henry Mills (Jared S. Gilmore). Thanks to her old friend Dreamy's memory potion (or Leroy, as he is known in our world), Belle's memories are finally restored in the midst of Storybrooke's destruction due to the First Curse's fail-safe imploding.

No longer Lacey, Belle embraces Rumple as they prepare to die, but the town is soon saved, and Rumple must leave on a new quest to save Henry from Neverland. He leaves Belle behind with a protection spell to cast over the town. As he's fated to die on this mission, he expects this to be their final goodbye, but Belle promises that she'll see him again.

Season 3

On his quest to save Henry in Neverland, Rumplestiltskin frequently encounters a form of Belle when he's alone, as an illusion to act as a crutch to his cowardice. Regina later reveals that "Belle" is actually Peter Pan's shadow in disguise.

Back in Storybrooke, Belle and Ariel work together to retrieve Pandora's Box, which they send to their friends in Neverland as a method of capturing Pan. Belle and Rumple are reunited when the group returns to Storybrooke after rescuing Henry, though Gold soon sacrifices himself in order to destroy his father, end the Dark One curse, and save Belle, Baelfire, and the others.

Belle breaks down sobbing, believing Rumple to be gone forever. But despite Rumple's heroic act, Pan's curse remains and Belle, along with the other inhabitants of Storybrooke, are sent back to their original worlds (the Enchanted Forest).

In the Enchanted Forest, Belle and Neal travel to the Vault of the Dark One, from where it is said the Dark One can be resurrected. Despite Belle's warning of the price of magic, Neal unlocks the vault, resurrecting Rumplestiltskin but costing him his own life in the process. Rumple chooses to save Neal rather than hanging onto the Dark One dagger and absorbs Neal's body and consciousness into himself before Neal can die. However, the Wicked Witch of the West obtains Rumple's dagger and orders him to kill Belle. Belle escapes thanks to the help of Lumiere the cursed candelabra. She returns to Snow and Charming's castle to inform them of Rumple's resurrection and Neal's death.

Months later, the heroes sneak into Rumple's Dark Castle, where he is being held prisoner by Zelena, the Wicked Witch. Belle is able to temporarily get through to Rumple, who is slowly being driven insane by the multiple voices in his head (his and Baelfire's), and he tells her that Zelena's weakness is light magic.

Belle is returned to Storybrooke with no memories of the previous year when Snow and Charming enact the Dark Curse to stop Zelena from taking their baby. In Storybrooke, Emma uses her magic to separate Neal and Rumple's bodies in order to learn the identity of the Wicked Witch, and Neal dies shortly after.

Belle mourns Neal's death with the rest of the town and eventually deduces Zelena's plan to change the past. She discovers once again that Zelena is in possession of the Dark One dagger and is keeping Rumple captive under her control. Belle attempts to get through to Rumple and help him break free of the dagger's control, but Zelena stops her before she can. Belle's memories of the missing year are returned along with everyone else's when Regina breaks the Second Curse.

Upon Regina's defeat of Zelena, Mr. Gold proposes to Belle after entrusting her with his dagger (though unbeknownst to her, it is a replica) and the two are married by Archie Hopper at the wishing well.

Season 4

Belle and Rumple share a blissful honeymoon in the Sorcerer's mansion, where Rumple discovers the Sorcerer's Hat that has the power to contain magic stolen from magical beings. He believes that the hat is the key to cleaving himself from the curse of the Dark One at last.

With Rumple's (coerced) help, Belle discovers the Snow Queen's lair, seeking the Sorcerer's Hat which she believes the Snow Queen to possess. However, she is distracted by her reflection in the Snow Queen's magic mirror, which taunts her faith in Rumple and their relationship. She quickly sets these doubts aside, however, tearfully apologizing to Rumple for using the (fake) dagger to force him into taking her to the Snow Queen's lair.

Later, Belle helps Emma and Elsa deduce the Snow Queen's ultimate goal. Belle eventually learns of Rumple's deception and prevents him from killing Hook at the Storybrooke clock tower. She then banishes her husband from Storybrooke with the power of the real dagger - and with the magic surrounding the town boundaries, this means that Rumple will never be able to return.

In the aftermath of Rumple's permanent departure, Belle and Hook form a friendship as they work together to undo Rumple's imprisonment of the fairies in the Sorcerer's Hat. However, Rumple manages to return to Storybrooke with Ursula and Cruella de Vil, only to find Belle in a romantic relationship with Will Scarlet.

In an attempt to threaten Gold, who is now working with the Queens of Darkness, Regina steals Belle's heart so that he no longer has leverage against her. Gold and Will work together to steal the heart back from its guardian, Maleficent. Gold returns the heart to Belle and apologizes once again for his actions, telling Will that it is now his job to protect Belle's heart.

In the alternate reality created by The Author, Belle and Rumple live happily together with a child of their own, where Rumple is a well-loved hero known as the Light One. When Henry undoes The Author's actions and returns everyone to reality, Belle tells Gold that they could have truly had that happiness if not for his actions. As Gold's condition worsens and he is consumed by the Dark One's powers, Belle confesses to him that she does not love Will and vows not to let him die alone. The Sorcerer's Apprentice extracts the darkness from Gold's heart, though he remains in a comatose state whilst the darkness is taken in by Emma Swan.

Season 5

With the other residents of Storybrooke, Belle travels to the Enchanted Forest, taking Emma to Camelot in order to find Merlin and remove the Dark One's power from within her. However, weeks later, they return to Storybrooke with missing memories as to how they failed.

During her time in Camelot, Belle's growing knowledge of spells helped to free Lancelot and Mérida from King Arthur's prison. Belle subsequently helped Mérida of Dunbroch win back her kingdom and save her three brothers from execution by the other clans.

Six weeks later, in Storybrooke, the Dark Swan awakens Rumple from his coma. Emma then steals Mérida's heart and commands her to kill Belle in hopes that protecting his wife will force Rumple to become a hero. Rumple insists that he and Belle leave town, but she refuses to run away from her life and the people she cares about.

The Dark Swan transforms Mérida into a bear that chases Belle through the woods until the bear is stopped by Rumple, who feeds it anti-transformation powder that reverts Mérida to human form. Belle witnesses Rumple embrace his newfound heroism and remove Excalibur from its stone. After everyone's memory is restored and Rumple heroically faces Dark Hook, Rumple tells Belle that he is ready to finally be the man she deserves. Belle declines his offer to rekindle their relationship, stating that she has spent too long trying to heal his heart and that she has lost track of her own in the process.

Upon the arrival of all previous Dark Ones in Storybrooke, Rumple sends Belle out of town so that she may escape the immediate threat and finally see the world as she has always wanted to. Not realizing the imminent danger, Belle prepares to leave town, but returns to Rumple once the threat is vanquished, having been informed of everything by Henry. Belle tells Rumple that she wants to be with him because he has proven to be truly selfless, though she is unaware that Rumple has now reclaimed the powers of the Dark One.

Belle remains in Storybrooke when Rumple travels to the Underworld to rescue Hook, but is unaware that she is pregnant with their first child (although it is Rumple's second-born child after Baelfire). It is revealed that, many years ago, Rumple promised his second-born child to a healer in the Enchanted Forest in exchange for saving young Baelfire's life. But Rumple killed that healer, meaning that he now owes his second-born child to Hades instead.

After she is sent through a portal to the Underworld along with Zelena and her daughter, Belle learns the truth from Gold about his reacquired powers and her pregnancy as well as the contract, putting her life and that of their unborn child in jeopardy once again. Belle is horrified by Rumple's embracing of his inner darkness, but agrees to work with him to save their child from Hades. Motivated by Hades, Gaston makes multiple attempts to kill Rumplestiltskin, reuniting Belle with her ex-fiancée. After confronting Gold about his murder of Gaston decades earlier, Belle intends to help Gaston move on from the Underworld, only to learn that Gaston blames her for his death.

In an attempt to rescue Rumplestiltskin, Belle inadvertently pushes Gaston into the River of Lost Souls, damning him to eternal torment. Consumed with guilt over what she did to Gaston and fearing for her child's safety, Belle places herself under a sleeping curse given to her by Zelena, believing it will give Gold enough time to save their child from Hades. Before falling under, Belle makes Gold promise to return her to her father, whom she believes is the only one who can wake her with true love's kiss. Gold attempts to wake Belle himself and fails, for Belle has lost faith in him once again.

To keep her and his unborn child safe as they travel from the Underworld back to Storybrooke, Rumple places Belle inside of Pandora's Box, which he tricked Peter Pan into giving to him. In the season five finale, Pandora's Box is stolen by Mr. Hyde from the Land of Untold Stories. Hyde agrees to return the box containing Belle to Gold if he allows Hyde to conquer Storybrooke, a deal which Gold readily accepts.

Season 6

Belle remains in her self-induced sleeping curse in Pandora's Box. Rumple enters her dreamworld to try to wake her, but fails in doing so. Her unborn son wakes her instead, and she once again rejects Rumple's offer to make a home together. As she seeks a new place to stay, Hook offers for Belle to stay on the Jolly Roger in repentance for attacking her and trying to kill her several times in the past. Belle forgives him and accepts, recognizing that Hook is a changed man.

After making a deal with Gold, David delivers a cassette tape to Belle, which is a recording of Rumple reading one of his favorite Scottish poems for their unborn child. Soon afterwards, however, Rumple comes aboard the Jolly Roger to find Hook and Belle. Belle says she doesn't need Rumple's help and Hook orders him to leave, but Rumple casts a protection spell that will keep Hyde off the Jolly Roger but traps Belle aboard. However, the protection spell prevents Belle from fleeing the true threat, Dr. Jekyll. Belle is only rescued at the last minute by Hook, who kills Jekyll, and Hyde by extension.

This further deteriorates Belle and Rumple's relationship, as she insists she does not need his protection. But Rumple argues that she will come back to him out of necessity for their unborn child. When Zelena backhandedly informs Belle of Rumple's increasingly-seductive relationship with the Evil Queen (Regina's newly-separated evil alter-ego) and his plans to use the Shears of Destiny on their son, Belle confronts him. She tells him to stop trying to take their son's love and to be worthy of it instead.

Belle briefly forges an alliance with Zelena in order to escape Storybrooke, but Rumple stops them before she can. He also puts a magical golden cuff on Belle so that he will always be able to find her.

In the episode "Changelings", the Evil Queen magically speeds up Belle's pregnancy (in the same way the Dark Swan sped up Zelena's in Season 5), and Belle gives birth to a son whom she names Gideon, after the hero in her favorite childhood book. She gives her son to the Blue Fairy for protection, fearing that Rumple will try to take the child as he previously threatened. But the Blue Fairy is ambushed by Rumple's mother, the Black Fairy. Gideon is taken to the Dark Realm where he grows up very quickly and develops an immoral persona.

Rumple enters the hospital moments after the Blue Fairy departs with the baby. He is appalled to learn that Belle has given away their son and demands to at least know their son's name. Belle refuses this information, saying that Rumple will just use it to find him.

Later, Rumple apologizes for his villainous actions and tells Belle that they need to start trusting each other in order to save their son. In the mid-season finale, an adult Gideon arrives in Storybrooke and confronts his parents in Gold's shop. Gideon explains that he has arrived in Storybrooke to kill the Savior and take her powers for himself, as "there is another realm in need of a Savior." He claims that he needs the powers he'll acquire from killing Emma in order to defeat the Black Fairy and free the Dark Realm from her reign.

Belle agrees to work with Rumple in order to save their son from the darkness growing inside of him, and to prevent the looming Final Battle in Storybrooke. Rumple and Belle later learn that Gideon has actually been under the control of the Black Fairy via his heart, meaning that Gideon is not truly responsible for his own actions. After Rumple secretly forges an alliance with his mother in order to retrieve Gideon's heart, he returns the heart and Gideon happily reunites with his parents.

The Black Fairy then casts her curse to begin the Final Battle, which separates Belle from her husband and son and turns her into a agoraphobic recluse, the exact opposite of who she once was. In addition, the Black Fairy steals back Gideon's heart and again commands him to kill the Savior. The Black Fairy did not expect Rumple to remember who he was and who Belle was, and tells him that Belle left him to explore the world. However, Rumple had built a fail-safe for himself into the Black Fairy's curse, so he knows that Belle would never do such a thing.

Angry at his mother's betrayal and wanting to break the curse, Rumple kills the Black Fairy, and he and Belle happily reunite. Together, they enter the mines to once again retrieve Gideon's heart and stop him before he can kill Emma. Upon finding the heart and considering the power he could gain from Emma's death, Rumple ultimately ignores his dark impulses and commands Gideon to let Emma live. The end of the Final Battle sees Gideon reappear to Belle and Rumple as the baby she originally gave up. Belle and Rumple celebrate their "happy beginning" together with the Charmings, Emma, Hook, Regina, and Zelena at Granny's Diner.

Season 7

One year after the events of the season six finale, Belle and Rumple are planning baby Gideon's first birthday party. Rumple gives Belle a travel photo book and promises that he's going to give her what she's always wanted: a chance to see the world. Ten years later along their travels, Belle, Rumple, and Gideon discover an bridge older than time, which runs above a river said to grant people's greatest wishes. Rumple reveals to Belle that he no longer wishes to have the powers of the Dark One, only wanting to live out a mortal life with her. He drops the dagger into the river, but it instantly reappears in its sheath. Belle vows to help Rumple find a way to be rid of his curse forever.

Eight years later, Belle, Rumple, and Gideon are living in a castle in an unspecified location. Belle and Rumple are ecstatic to discover that a now 18-year-old Gideon has been accepted into a prestigious academy. Belle then reveals to Rumple that she has discovered and translated a fairy prophecy, which states: “When the Dark One finds eternal love, at the sun’s brightest set, where time stops, the path will appear to where the darkness shall rest.” Rumple realizes that the prophecy is referring to the Edge of Realms, the border of all existence where the sun never sets and time passes differently. Belle understands that “the sun’s brightest set” means her own death, but deliberately withholds this information from Rumple, as she knows he would do anything to prevent it, and she wants to live a long, happy life with Rumple rather than endlessly seek another answer.

The couple travel to the Edge of Realms and build their home there, without the use of dark magic, on Belle's insistence. Many blissful years pass, as Belle ages and Rumple remains immortal. Gideon comes to visit from time to time.

One morning, Belle stands on a ladder to open the curtains of their home at the Edge of Realms. She sees the sun one last time before falling from the ladder. Rumple catches her in a reference to when she opened the nailed-down curtains in the Dark Castle. On her deathbed, Belle reveals to a distraught Rumple that only by letting her go will he finally be able to get rid of the Dark One curse and reunite with her in death. Rumple tells Belle that he is afraid to let her go and begs her to let him use the Dark One dagger to make her young again, but she reminds him of their timeless tale. Belle's final words to Rumple are: “You let me go once before, and we found our way back to each other. You’re a good man, Rumple. Your heart is pure. You will find the answer you need to get rid of the dagger, and you will find your way back to me, okay? I promise.” ("Beauty")

As the season progresses, Rumple's quest to reunite with Belle seems hopeless, until the series finale "Leaving Storybrooke", in which his Dark One powers are stripped from him by The Author and he selflessly sacrifices his heart to destroy his evil Wish Realm counterpart and save Wish Hook's life. Following Rumple's death, Belle appears to him in the afterlife in her signature gold ballgown. The two kiss, as Belle says lovingly, “I knew you’d make it home.”

Character development and reception

The producers had planned to make the Belle only a recurring role in the series, but after sporadic appearances in the first season and an overwhelmingly positive reaction from fans to Belle and Rumplestiltskin's relationship, she was promoted to a series regular in the second season.

Had de Ravin not accepted the role of Belle, she would've gone on to star in a television series called Americana; ABC decided to pass on the pilot in 2012.

de Ravin's return as Belle in the season seven episode "Beauty" received widespread critical acclaim. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, de Ravin said, "I was so excited to be able to bring their story to the fans and to bring their later years in love, and to be able to play that was really beautiful. They’ve had quite a tumultuous relationship, so for them to be able to get to a place of such acceptance with each other and themselves, and with life, and this inner peace that has washed over them. […] Her acceptance of mortality is shining a lot brighter than his acceptance or non-acceptance of immortality, which you’d expect to be the reverse in a way. That’s quite beautiful and was lovely to play."

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