A wedding in Storybrooke was never going to be easy…
Especially not when the Mayor hated your fiancé with a passion, the Sheriff was doubling as Maid of Honor and Chief of Security, and your only known family member refused to even attend.
A wedding in Storybrooke was a damn sight harder when you were marrying Mr Gold. Belle was coming to find that there were very few people in town who were willing to even try to see the man she saw in her bed every morning, smiling as he kissed her awake.
She held that image in her mind, as Mary Margaret helped to lace up the back of her dress and her stomach twisted into knots.
She held it when she looked out of the window, and saw Emma and Regina squaring off in the garden and hoped to every deity she’d ever read about that there wouldn’t be a fight.
She held it when Regina looked up and caught her eye, and just smiled.
That woman terrified Belle, but she smiled and waved. It gave the Mayor pause, made her look back at Emma, who was scowling.
That scowl worked a lot better when she wasn’t in a powder-blue bridesmaid’s dress.
They’d decided to have the ceremony at the house, in the back garden, under the trees. For reasons he hadn’t felt like explaining – and Belle was too scared to ask about – Rumpelstiltskin hadn’t wanted a church wedding. So the church had come to them, and half of Storybrooke was waiting in the garden.
The other half were hiding in their homes, making disapproving comments and tutting.
But at least there was one upside to her fiancé being the most feared man in town: no one harassed Belle to her face.
She felt like she was going to be sick.
She could see Regina from the window, still, sat innocuously in her seat, a black thundercloud in Belle’s perfect blue sky.
She had to be there. It was the only way she would allow Henry to be the ring bearer.
The fact that she got to bring down the tone of Rumpelstiltskin’s wedding – the start of their happy ever after – was just a bonus for her. Belle wanted nothing more than to storm down there and throw her out herself, wedding dress be damned.
She needed him here to stop her.
All she wanted in the world at that moment was her soon-to-be-husband, to be enveloped in his arms and the smell of him, his careful cologne masking his underlying scent of grass and leather and pure magic.
She’d seen through him the moment they met: no amount of Mr Gold’s well-tailored suits and twists of truth could completely hide Rumpelstiltskin.
And she needed him so badly right now.
“Mary Margaret?” she turned to her friend.
“Could you… could you get my fiancé for me?”
Mary Margaret smiled, “It’s bad luck.”
The other woman looked at her for a moment, and then nodded, “Okay, but don’t tell anyone.”
Mary Margaret left, and Belle went to the mirror. She fiddled with her hair, smoothed her dress over her hips and tried not to feel nervous. She was marrying her True Love today, and she was so happy she felt like she would burst into a million tiny pieces.
She just couldn’t shake the sense that something had to be wrong. How could it not be, when everything seemed so perfect?
A figure appeared behind her in the mirror, and she didn’t turn. She just watched, with a wide and growing smile, as he approached her and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her back against his chest.
“Something the matter, dear?” he asked, his voice low and rumbling in her ear. It was ridiculous how after a year of courtship, and a further six months engaged, his voice alone could still reduce her knees to jelly and send shivers down her spine.
She prayed that it would never change.
“Does it count as not seeing each other if we’re not facing?” She asked, hopefully.
“I’d say there’s a loophole somewhere that permits it, yes.” He answered with the widest smile she’d ever seen on his face.
“Good.” She nodded, resolute, and kept her eyes on his in the mirror, her hands coming to rest on his.
An hour later, after he’d slipped quietly from the room and Emma had come to retrieve her, they were ready to start.
The walk down the aisle took forever, and Belle couldn’t keep her eyes off Rumplestiltskin. He watched her with an expression of such wonder, innocence no creature would believe this former monster could possess, that she wanted nothing more than to wrap her arms around him and tell him for the hundredth time that everything’s okay, that she’s here and alive and loves him, and that nothing else matters.
But she couldn’t, not with everyone they knew watching and a ceremony to perform.
So she settled for letting every guard down, and allowing the full extent of her love for him to show on her face. She felt like her cheeks might split in two, she was smiling so widely.
She was marrying her true love today, and nothing hurt.
She held on to Archie’s arm (of course her father wouldn’t attend: he’d used the words Stockholm Syndrome so many times that the words had lost all meaning) until they reached the top of the aisle. Then, she patted Archie’s forearm, and watched benevolently for a moment as he took his seat next to Ruby.
Belle made the seating charts herself: the look that passed between the pair was thanks enough.
And Rumpelstiltskin had made some silly remark about eloping: what fun was a wedding, if you couldn’t match-make your friends to your heart’s content?
She almost giggled when she took her space in front of him, and he pulled the veil up over her head. The look in his eyes was deep, and softer than any she’d seen before, and she hoped it would remain there for the rest of their lives.
It was ridiculous how nervous she was the moment the veil was gone. Rumpelstiltskin knew every inch of her inside and out, and yet, the second that last physical boundary was removed, the whole idea became terrifying.
Then he took her hands in his, and the fear fled instantly.
Most of the vows were fairly simple, and Belle had no idea why the vicar felt they needed making at all. From the moment she’d stepped into his home, Rumplestiltskin had done as much honouring, cherishing and holding as was humanly possible.
Although, truth be told, Belle did wish that more specific promises could have been incorporated without arousing suspicion. Like ‘I vow never to throw you into a dungeon ever again,’ or ‘I vow to never claim to love power more than you’. Something along those lines might have been nice, considering Rumplestiltskin’s love of deals and unbreakable promises.
But most of the people here knew nothing of their real past, and so sticking to traditional vows seemed a better idea.
They left out the parts about obedience. There was no way in Hell that was ever going to happen.
“Do you, Rum Gold, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?” (She almost snickered at his assumed name: really, how did that man expect to live with ‘Mister’ as a forename?)
“I do.” His eyes hadn’t moved from her since the moment she started up the aisle, and she thought she might disintegrate under the force of that gaze.
“And do you, Isabelle Rosanne French take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?”
“I do. Forever.” She smiled up at him, and was surprised to find that she was crying.
It was done. The deal was struck.
“You may now kiss the bride.” The vicar advised Rumplestiltskin, but it hardly seemed necessary. He leaned down, and pressed the softest kiss she’d ever felt to her lips.
Their second kiss had been hard, harsh, and desperate: the culmination of a lifetime apart and three weeks of tension from working closely together.
Their twenty-ninth kiss had been warm, deep and passionate, the first moment she saw him after she remembered their other life together. It had felt as if he’d risen from the dead, felt the weight of a second chance falling over the pair of them.
They’d never been this unbelieving, this tender and soft.
Not since his castle, when he was green and gold and she a knight’s daughter, breaking a curse by the spinning wheel and sealing thirty years of fate with one touch.
Which was why, when they pulled away, she wasn’t surprised to see the tears in his eyes as well, although he did a fine job of blinking them away.