They are just stories, the Mad Hatter is in Alice in Wonderland, a book. A book I actually read. - Stories, stories. What’s a story? When you were in Highschool did you learn about the civil war? - Yeah, of course - How? Did you read about it, per chance in a book? How is that any less real than any other book? - History books are based on… history. - Storybooks are based on what? Imagination? Where does that come from? It has to come from somewhere.
In 3 seconds Rumple sees all his life in front of him. He sees all he wanted to have and all he himself has destroyed; he sees the mistakes he made, about his wife and his son. And he doesn’t kill Robin because there’s no anger in his expression, there’s only regret.