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Belle is one of the main characters of Once Upon a Time. Belle was chosen by Rumplestiltskin to pose as his caretaker in exchange for her family's well-being during the Ogre Wars, and eventually the two of them fell in love. She débuts in the twelfth episode of the first season. She is portrayed by starring cast member Emilie de Ravin

History

Before First Curse

Belle is born to Colette and Sir Maurice. As a child, she quickly gains a love for books after her mother reads her a story. In childhood, Belle becomes friends with a boy named Samuel.

Years later, Belle and her mother are preparing to escape the castle as rampaging ogres breach their guard walls. However, the sound of ogre footsteps causes them to hide under a table. Eventually, the ogre rips away the table; unveiling mother and daughter. Colette sacrifices herself to the many approaching ogres as Belle is pulled to safety by guards.

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Belle with Anna and Grand Pabbie

Soon after, Belle loses her memories of the event and awakens in bed. Unable to remember how Colette died, she discovers rock trolls can restore memories. She expresses interest in finding them, but her father doesn't want her to pay the price of magic. As Belle argues against him, he orders her to stay put. In defiance, she travels to Arendelle where a woman named Anna helps her find the head rock troll, Grand Pabbie. As they prepare to climb a mountain, Anna uses Belle's ice pick and drops an item. Belle returns it to Anna, who explains it's a hat capable of absorbing magic which she stole from a "twisted man". Upon meeting Grand Pabbie, Belle's memories are turned into a stone. He instructs her to return to where she lost her memories, brew a tea with the stone in a kettle and drink it to remember everything. Anna learns from Grand Pabbie that her relative, Ingrid, has been lying to her. As the two leave, a storm created by Ingrid traps them. Thrown aside by a wind, Belle drops the stone, which falls out of reach. Anna, clinging to a ledge, implores for help. Belle tries to reach the stone, but it shatters, so she rushes to Anna, who slips and falls unconscious. Ingrid then takes the hat from Anna and disappears with her in a puff of smoke. Returning home, Belle learns from her father of her mother's fate. Seeing the ogres reach the outside road, Belle suggests seeking help from a wizard, Rumplestiltskin, despite that there will be a price for magic, as she wants to be as brave as her mother was.

When Sir Maurice requests the assistance of the Dark One in a war he is losing against the ogres in his town of Avonlea, Rumplestiltskin offers protection in exchange for Belle's servitude. Defying her father and fiancé Gaston, she agrees to the terms of the deal. Once at his castle, he shows Belle to her "room", which is essentially a dungeon cell. Later, she tries to make him tea, but when startled, drops a cup and accidentally chips it.

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Longing for her family, Belle spends the night crying. When Rumplestiltskin bursts in to shut her up, they hear a thud from the main room. There, a hooded thief is stealing a wand. Boasting about his bow and arrow that never misses, the thief shoots at Rumplestiltskin, who is hit by the shaft. However, since Rumplestiltskin is immortal, the arrow has no effect, and he imprisons the thief; subjecting him to physical torture. As the Dark One's servant, Belle is made to wash Rumplestiltskin's bloody aprons after the torture sessions. Pitying the man, she frees him, but doesn't realize he has stolen the wand during his escape. Once Rumplestiltskin discovers this, he forces Belle to accompany him as he tracks down and murders the thief. During their carriage ride, she reasons if he lets the thief go unharmed, people will stop seeing him as a beast. Believing there is good in his heart, Belle claims he loves something more than power. Rumplestiltskin agrees, but then giddily tells her that he loves his things more than power, much to her disappointment. In the woods, a sheriffstops them for trespassing on his land, though he recognizes the owner of the bow and arrow Rumplestiltskin has. Bargaining for information, the sheriff asks to spend a night with Belle, but an impatient Rumplestiltskin rips out the man's tongue. After returning it, the sheriff reveals the thief's name is Robin Hood and tells them where to find him. On foot, Belle and Rumplestiltskin spot Robin Hood using the wand on a sickly woman. Despite that Robin Hood stole the wand for good intentions, Rumplestiltskin entraps Belle in the ground as he readies his arrow shot on the thief. When the healed woman stands up, uncovering a pregnant belly, Belle implores Rumplestiltskin not to make the child fatherless by killing Robin Hood. Her words get through to him, and he purposely allows the arrow to miss his target. Heading back to the castle, Rumplestiltskin shows Belle an extensive library. Despite Rumplestiltskin's reluctance to admit his kind deed, she happily attests that hedoes have good in him, which catches him off guard.

Some time after this, Belle meets again Robin Hood and they have other adventures together. She also finds out about him being disguised when he invaded Rumplestiltskin's castle in search of the healing wand.[1]

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Ursula strangles Belle

While Rumplestiltskin is in Camelot, Belle examines a sword in the castle cabinet. Catching her off guard, Rumplestiltskin accosts her for snooping, and though he did say that she could, this was to test how she would react. Engrossed in his castle collections, Belle reasons she was curious since he never talks about where the items came from. Furthermore, it's her dream to see the world, which is what he gets to do. When she inquiries about his journey to Camelot, he chucks her a "souvenir", a magic gauntlet used to locate one's greatest weakness. As he states, the weakness is usually a thing the person loves most. After serving him tea, Belle theorizes he collects things to fill a hole in his heart. Instead, Rumplestiltskin whisks her off to laundry duty. Spotting a lone puppy, she follows until losing sight of the animal and is kidnapped by Cruella. Taken to Demon's Bluff, Belle is coerced into speaking a ransom message into an enchanted sand dollar, in which she asks him to bring the gauntlet in exchange for her life. Rather than Cruella, Maleficent demands the gauntlet when Rumplestiltskin arrives. He quickly overpowers her before the sea witch, Ursula, tightens her tentacles around Belle. Completing the trio, Cruella steps out to pressure Rumplestiltskin into paying the ransom, but he only gives up the gauntlet once Belle's heart is almost crushed by Ursula. With the terms satisfied, Ursula pushes Belle, who falls into Rumplestiltskin's arms, as the sea witch and her allies disappear. Rumplestiltskin then consoles Belle by stating they won't be able to hurt her now. Surprised at his concern, she wonders why he cares about her. Stumped by the question, Rumplestiltskin shoves her away from him and remarks that, rather than someone else, only he is allowed to end her life by crushing her heart. 

While Rumplestiltskin in a mournful mood, Belle accidentally walks in on him lighting a candle. Despite that he tells her to go away, she approaches to set down a basket of flowers on the table. When he warns her a second time, Belle notes a shawl nearby. Immediately, she realizes the candle is in remembrance of someone and gives her condolences. Rumplestiltskin remarks that this person is not dead, though, and simply just lost. He sadly admits it is the person's birthday, and regrets his past actions tore away their chance to be happy together. Belle proposes that it's not too late. Though Rumplestiltskin hopes for the same, he thinks his own ending won't be a happy one. 

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On cleaning duty, Belle inquiries about his spinning, which Rumplestiltskin states helps him forget the things he lost. While altering the castle's decor, she pulls the curtains too hard and falls, though Rumplestiltkin catches her in time. Surprised, Belle thanks him, and he awkwardly puts her down. Later, in conversation, she learns the small clothing in one of the rooms belongs to Rumplestiltskin's son. On the topic of why she accepted his deal, Belle explains it was an opportunity to be brave. As for her left-behind fiancé, she rejects the idea that her idea of love would fit with someone as superficial as Gaston. When she further implores the Dark One about his past, Rumplestiltskin responds by sending her to fetch straw, and he'll tell her his tale when she returns. Belle questions if he trusts her enough to expect her return, but Rumplestiltskin admits he assumes she'll run away. Offered a choice to return home or stay as his servant, Belle contemplates this as she walks to town, where she meets the Queen, who tells her about true love's kiss that can break any curse; namely Rumplestiltskin's. She returns to the castle with a basket full of straw and asks Rumplestiltskin to tell her about how he lost his son. He makes it short and vague. She leans in to kiss Rumplestiltskin, intending to break his curse, and pulls away as the darkness lifts from him. Before the curse is completely gone, Belle mentions true love's kiss, causing him to accuse her of conspiring with the Queen to strip him of his powers. Desperately, Belle attests her love for him is true, but he refuses to listen, throwing her in the dungeon. Later, Rumplestiltskin kicks her out for good, claiming his power is more valuable than her, while Belle brands him a coward for not believing she loves him. Before leaving, she swears he will regret his decision, as there will be nothing left for him except an "empty heart and a chipped cup".

Belle spends her time at a local tavern when she overhears a dwarf, Dreamy, tell his fellow brethren about how strange he is feeling. Belle recognizes the symptom as being lovesick, to which Dreamy begins talking to her about a fairy named Nova who told him about going to Firefly Hill. Amused, Belle bluntly tells Dreamy that Nova is obviously inviting him to meet her there. When Dreamy asks her what love is like, she replies that it is the most wonderful and amazing thing in the world, but it does not always last forever. Additionally, she has already had her heart broken enough to know when someone is reaching out, referring to Nova's invitation to Dreamy. Belle presses him to seize the opportunity and be with Nova while he still has a chance.

The next day, she returns to the tavern and is greeted by Dreamy, who thanks her for the previous advice as he and Nova will soon be leaving together. Belle is estastic at the news. Suddenly, a group of men burst into the tavern to announce they will be heading to a far off land in search of a beast called the Yaoguai. Dreamy thinks it's the perfect opportunity for Belle to have a real adventure. Belle is more unsure since the only adventures she has experienced are the ones in books, which all have happy endings. At Dreamy's urging, she eventually gives in and is given a pouch of fairy dust by him. During the journey, she reads a book detailing the Yaoguai's whereabouts. Her travelling companions, particularly a man named Claude, give her a hard time about being a bookworm. She informs them the book will give them clues as to where to find the Yaoguai, and when pressed, lies and tells them the creature can be found by a lake. They kick her off the wagon to find the Yaoguai themselves, but Belle consults the book to track the beast to a mountainous cave. She approaches the den, but attracts the Yaoguai by stepping on a branch. Belle flees until a female clad warrior, Mulan, drives the Yaoguai off. Upset, Mulan berates Belle for startling the Yaoguai, which she spent months trying to find. Belle states she only wanted to help while the latter tells her to go away. Later, Belle stops by a village well to grab a sip of water and is accosted by Claude and his cronies for previously misleading them to the lake. They attempt to dump her down the well, but Mulan scares them away while sustaining a leg injury. Having a change of heart, Mulan proposes they hunt down the Yaoguai together. On the way there, Mulan can go no further as her wound is getting worse and entrusts Belle with the task of killing the Yaoguai. Armed with Mulan's sword, she heads into the valley and lures the Yaoguai into the village. After letting out a spray of water from a slashed pipe, the beast's bodily flames are doused out. To Belle's amazement, the Yaoguai collapses on the ground and scrawls the message "Save me". She opens her pouch of fairy dust, sprinkling it on the Yaoguai, who turns back into a human man, Prince Phillip. He is deeply grateful, to which Belle wishes for him to repay by taking Mulan to a doctor for treatment. She leaves them and begins making her way back to Rumplestiltskin. Instead, the Evil Queen captures Belle, after being tipped off by Claude, and imprisons her.

Kept as the Evil Queen's prisoner in a palace, Belle is shackled to a bed post and kept alive for an unknown period of time. Outside the room, Claude, employed by the Evil Queen, guards the cell. When a stranger approaches pretending to deliver food for Belle, a fight breaks out, in which Claude meets his demise at at the hand of Hook. He opens the door and claims to be rescuing Belle. When asked why, Hook explains she needs to help him kill Rumplestiltskin, who is holding her father captive. Belle does not believe him and states that she can talk and reason with Rumplestiltskin. When Hook does not budge, Belle admits she does not know how to kill him, and does not want to. Since she is not buying his lies and refuses to comply, Hook knocks Belle unconscious, and prepares to kill her when the Evil Queen walks in to stop him.

During the First Curse

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After the casting of the Dark Curse, Belle becomes a patient in the town hospital's psychiatric ward. After remembering his life from theEnchanted Forest, Mr. Gold has memories of how he lost Belle, presumably at the hands of her father. One day, he takes away the delivery truck of Belle's father, Moe French, who is late on his rent payments. Later, Mr. Gold's house is ransacked and several items, including his only memento of Belle—a chipped cup—goes missing. All of the belongings except for the cup are returned. Suspecting Moe has it, Mr. Gold decides to take things into his own hands and tries to beat the truth out of the man while expressing a great deal of rage in blaming him for Belle's death. Instead, it is revealed Regina stole the cup, and uses it to goad Mr. Gold into telling her his real name. Satisfied, Regina gives the cup back and leaves to pay a visit to Belle at the hospital while Mr. Gold remains unaware his lost love is alive.

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Jefferson is jilted by Regina on her promise that if he helped her retrieve something from the Enchanted Forestto get rid of Emma, and then she'd bring his daughter back to him. To spite her, he decides to free the imprisoned girl in the psychiatric ward and bring her to Mr. Gold, who he knows won't be pleased at what Regina has done. He disguises himself as a hospital staff member and sneaks down to free Belle after drugging the nurse. He urges Belle to seek out Mr. Gold, and gives her instructions to tell him specifically that Regina locked her up. She goes into the pawn shop and informs Mr. Gold what happened. He is shocked to see her alive, and though Belle doesn't remember him, he promises to protect her. Whilst leading her out to the woods towards the wishing well, the Dark Curse breaks. Belle regains her Enchanted Forest memories, and reaffirms her love for Mr. Gold, who she still affectionately calls Rumplestiltskin. From the wishing well, she watches as Mr. Gold mixes the true love potion with the well water, which transforms it into a purple smoke and brings magic back to Storybrooke.

After the First Curse

In later seasons, Belle marries Mr. Gold and they have a son named Gideon (who became corrupted by Rumplestiltskin's mother The Black Fairy, but later reformed). In the Season 7 episode "Beauty", Belle and Rumplestiltskin grow old together and Belle later dies of old age, much to Rumplestiltskin's sadness.

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