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When we're out of town

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It takes people a while to realize the library’s even open; other than Henry and Ruby, and the odd visit from Rumpelstiltskin, Belle doesn’t have that many visitors. But that’s all right. She’s got a building full of books at her disposal, and she wants to know what’s there so she can recommend it to people.

It’ll do until she can find a way to start updating the collection, at least.

She puts off the fantasy section as long as she can – not that it’s very big; Her Majesty must not have wanted anyone to get ideas, assuming they’d managed to get in the door. But there’s a lot about the history of this world, and several dozen biographies of famous people, most of whom were famous for doing something other than rule a kingdom.

After that, she hits the maps and atlases. Why Storybrooke would have so many, given that no one can actually leave town, Belle’s not sure; perhaps it’s just that Her Majesty felt like taunting everyone. But she can definitely see why Ruby wanted to explore so badly – and still does, though she’s barely mentioned it.

Ruby was made for exploring; it’s obvious to Belle. She’s trying to put Storybrooke first, and frankly, she’d be dangerous if she forgot who she really was and the magic somehow managed to follow her anyway. But Belle knows what wanderlust looks like when she sees it, and if Ruby didn’t have so much to do she might have been one of the first across the town line.

Anyway, all the maps give Belle an idea, and she brings a couple of them and a notebook to lunch with her.

“New project?” Ruby says, when she comes over with Belle’s now-customary root beer float. (She really has to wonder how they all got on without refrigeration.)

“You could say that, though it’s more sort of dreaming out loud.” Belle frowns at the map – why in the world would anyone make a ball of twine that big? – and makes a note in her notebook. “What would you think of going on a vacation, if we ever figure out how to get around the town line?”

Ruby hesitates. “Well... not that I mind you asking, but wouldn’t you want to go with Gold? I know he’s been planning something.”

“The thing about Rumpelstiltskin is that he’ll be looking for something. And I know him; he’ll be looking so hard that he won’t see anything.” And all that’s assuming his son doesn’t make it to Storybrooke first, somehow. In that case, Belle doubts he’ll want to leave at all. “I’d want to actually take things in along the way. I don’t know this world well enough to go alone, and you – well, it’s probably better if you have company for that sort of thing.”

“Yeah, probably. Just in case.” Ruby sounds much more confident about that than she did last week; clearly, she got herself sorted out. (Belle just wishes it hadn’t involved locking her in the library.) “If we can get across the town line without losing our memories, and if I’m not – I don’t know, somehow acting sheriff or something – count me in, definitely.”

Belle grins. “Wonderful. Now, Henry says there’s something called a ‘grilled cheese’ that I simply have to try.”

“Oh, absolutely. With bacon, and – what are your thoughts on tomatoes? I swear by tomato soup to go with a good grilled cheese, but Granny tends to swear at it and get some mushroom soup instead.”

“I have no particular opinions on tomatoes,” Belle says, setting her float down so she doesn’t get ice cream and root beer all over the maps as she tries to stop laughing. “Do your worst.”

Ruby grins – just this side of feral, despite what Belle’s sure are her best intentions – and heads off to the kitchen; Belle’s not at all surprised when she comes back with two helpings of lunch and sits down on the other side of the booth. By the end of their mutual lunch break, they’ve planned a positively dizzying route that would take them at least a month to finish and do any kind of justice to everywhere they want to visit.

She just hopes they can actually put this plan to use, one of these days.