Chapter 1: Repayment
Prompt: Gold finds out who freed Belle, and pays them back.
There’s few people in town that don’t recognize the black Cadillac. Most know that if it’s parked in front of a house it’s either rent day, and woe betide the man or woman who does not have their rent ready, or there’s trouble. Mr. Gold does not often make casual visits.
Jefferson is one of the few people in town that do not rent property from Gold. He’s one of the few that has never had his threshold crossed by the pawnbroker. He’s one of the few that are owed a favor, rather than owing one.
He’s about to be paid, in full.
For the first time in almost twenty-nine year he stands at the front door of the monstrosity that has been that Hatter’s jail, and raps on the door with the handle of his cane.
“Go away,” says the hoarse and muffled voice on the other side of the door. “I’m not buying any.”
“I think you’ll want what I’m peddling, dearie.” He waits, a count of three, and knocks again. “I have no problem with picking the lock on your door, but that would be tedious and I have a guest to return to.”
“What, no threat to blast the door down with m...” The Hatter, never lacking for words even if they are nonsense as often as not, can’t seem to even form a sound.
“I do believe we’ve managed to surprise your father. Perhaps you can help him, dear?” He gives the girl a gentle nudge, and she’s closing the space between them in seconds.
“Papa!” Father and child are suddenly wrapped so tightly together that it’s impossible to tell where one starts and the other ends. He turns, ostensibly to give them privacy, but if he’s honest with himself it’s because the reunion is too painful to see.
“We’re even now, Hatter. Regina knows that the girl is under my protection, but if you’re foolish enough to deal with her again I will not bother to save you again.” He doesn’t know if the man even hears anything but his daughter’s voice, but it doesn’t matter. He’s paid his debt, and has no reason to linger.
Now, for the first time in three decades, he has someone waiting for him to come home.
Chapter 2: What Big Ears You Have
Red and Jiminy meet
Prompt: Red Riding Hood and Jiminy Cricket’s first meeting, pre-curse.
This is set during the episode Heart of Darkness, right after Snow storms out to go after the Queen (and assumes that the dwarfs forget about Jiminy as they chase after Snow.) Also, this is my headcanon now.
Red has always been good at finding things. She didn’t understand why, not for years, but now she’s ever aware of the beast that lives inside of her, changing who she is. She’d give it up if she could, but at least it means that she was able to find the cottage in the middle of the forest. She can almost smell her friend.
“Snow?” The home is empty, but not deserted. There’s no dust. It’s not just normal clean, it’s Granny in a bad mood dust is the enemy kind of clean, which considering the open windows and dirt filled forest can’t be easy.
“Snow?” She calls again, just in case, and is about to run up the oddly small staircase when she hears a noise. Maybe she hears a noise; it’s so faint it’s hard to tell, but it comes a second time. A tapping.
“Hello?” She follows her ears, away from the stairs, towards the table in the middle of the room. There’s no one at the table. No one under it. Sure that her ears must be playing tricks on her she turns away.
“Please.” It’s not even a whisper, more of a tickling of her senses. Her eyes sharpen, her nostrils flare. There. A flutter of movement, almost hidden by the light reflecting off a bell jar. Once she moves the jar to the side she finds a cricket. A larger than normal, waistcoat wearing cricket, curled up into as much of a fetal position as its little body will allow. She’s not sure it’s alive, the clothing blocking any rise and fall of its chest.
“Hello?” Some innate sense, perhaps the wolf, tells her that there’s no reason to look any farther. She crouches down to get a better look and touches the small creature with her finger. “Just wave an antenna a little it you’re okay, and I’ll leave you alone.”
Even as she speaks the cricket starts twitching, its whole body shaking and small mouth opening. It’s breathing, and she’s pretty sure now that it wasn’t before. There must not have been a way for new air to get under the glass.
“You’re w…” She stops, does a double take. “Did you just talk?”
“Thanks to you. I’m not sure how much longer I would have lasted under there.” He dips down, a deep bow. “I owe you my life.”
“I didn’t do anything, just moved a piece of glass.” She shrugs. It’s not like this is Camelot or anything; she doesn’t need anyone in her debt.
“You listened. Sometimes that’s all it takes to make a difference.” His mouth is tiny, but Red’s pretty sure he’s smiling. He’s definitely holding out his hand, or whatever it is that crickets have. “I’m Jiminy.”
She offers him the tip of one finger. “I’m Red.”
Chapter 3: Reprive
August finds a way to stay Gold's blade.
AU for the forest scene in 'The Return'
“A deal.” August Booth, back to a tree and a knife to his throat, barely dared to breathe enough for a whisper, but his gaze did not waver. “I want to make a deal, for my life.”
“What could you possibly have to interest me?” Gold’s eyes flashed darkly, for a moment looking larger and amber hued, more imp than human.
“I’ve been snooping around town for months, trying to find a way to convince Emma that the curse is real.”
“And you think you’ve found out something in a matter of months that I haven’t in twenty-eight years?” The blade scratched the tender skin just above Booth’s adam’s apple when he tried to breathe. A single drop of blood dripped onto the knife.
“Then you already know about the girl with the blue eyes.” There was a flash of triumph in Booth’s eyes as he played his trump card.
“The girl?” Gold’s grip on the blade loosened. Just a fraction of an inch, but at least there was no more blood.
“Let me go and I’ll tell you everything I know,” Booth promised.
“If you’re lying to me…” It was a low hiss, as if he didn’t have the air to speak louder.
“If I’m lying I fully expect you gut me in my sleep.”
“If you’re lying, Mr. Booth, I won’t be so merciful as that.” Despite the fact that his world wass spinning there’s steel in his promise, and truth. Booth will see the end coming, if he’s lying, and it won’t be a fast end.
“Understood.” August breathed in deeply when the dagger was removed from his throat. “The Mayor’s been paying for the care of two people in the hospital. One, now that David Nolan has woken up. The second was a hell of a lot harder to track down, but money leaves a trail if you look hard enough, and I’m very good at looking. She’s keeping a woman locked up somewhere in the hospital, Mr. Gold. A woman with brown hair, blue eyes, and according to her file a tattoo of a rose on her hip.”
Chapter 4: Ours
Tonight, though, Jefferson had shown up alone.
For a prompt request of Gold/Jefferson. Belle has very strange kinks
The Hatters come to dinner every Thursday. It started out as one Thursday, a thank you dinner that Belle insisted on. Somehow (because he couldn't say no to anything Belle asked, as long as it didn't come with any risk to herself) it had gone from once to once a week. It's a tentative alliance that leaves him feeling strange, though he wasn't sure if it was from listening to Hatter enough that he actually made sense, or from the motherly way Belle treated young Grace.
He’d never seen her with a child before. He tried not to think about how she’d be with Bae, when they found him.
For six months it was the four of them, usually in the dining room of the not so Dark Castle, as Belle liked to call it. Sometimes they went to Granny’s, if the week was a particularly good one and both Jefferson and Belle could handle being around other people. Once they’d gone to the Hatter’s, bot for all that Jefferson had been feeding himself for decades his skills in the kitchen were not something to make a repeat experience of, in Gold’s opinion.
Tonight, though, Jefferson had shown up alone. Grace had been invited to dinner with Henry (and Emma, of course, who was trying to make the rest of the boy’s childhood something close to normal.) It was the third invitation, but the first time Jefferson had been able to say yes, and stick to it; he had trouble letting go of the girl for more than a few hours, or sometimes minutes. Dinner was somewhat quieter, without the child’s lively chatter. Quieter, that is, until Belle decides they need more than their customary single glass of wine. They’re almost through two bottles by the time dinner is over.
Somehow they manage to move themselves into the library without Belle tripping or any of them running into walls. There they switch to port, and if it’s hard to drink with Belle sitting on his lap he can’t find it in him to complain. He does, however, remind her they have company.
“He’s not company, he’s Jefferson.” She kisses him, the dark cherries and smoky wood taste on her lips half wine and half her.
“He’s ours, Rum.” She has that smile on her face, the one she wears when she knows she’s about to wrap him around her little finger. The last time he saw that smile she had nothing but lingerie under her coat when she showed up at the shop. This time he barely has time to understand that she’s planning something before she wraps her hand tightly around his shoulder, using the grip to balance as she leans over and kisses a very surprised Hatter.
Jefferson is just drunk enough to not pull away.
Gold is just drunk enough to find the sight more erotic than infuriating.
He’s never watched Belle kiss anyone before. She kisses him until his shoulders relax and his body shudders, a too tight spring that’s finally beginning to uncoil, and then she’s back kissing her True Love. It tastes a little different this time.
“He saved me,” she whispers against his ear, her hand reaching out to touch Jefferson. “I think it’s time we return the favor.”
When she stands she holds out a hand to both of them, and leads them up the stairs to the bedroom.
Chapter 5: Proposing a Deal
May I make a proposal, dear? Rumbelle
From a prompt by marquesadesantos
“May I propose a deal, dearie? You take this ring, and everything it represents. In return, your family, your friends, they will be saved.” He stood in the middle of the great hall, his Dark Castle once again restored. The ring, however, was from the other world. The rose gold band held a sapphire the color of her eyes.
“They’re already safe, Rum.” She wore stained jeans and a sweater of red that was torn at one shoulder. His own previously natty suit is missing the jacket, and one sleeve of the shirt is town away to make a bandage that wraps around his upper arm. The wound was caused by magic, her magic, and would take some time to heal. They both needed to bathe, and eat, and sleep but they’ve survived and he couldn't wait another minute before claiming her as his.
“The ogres that plagued your father’s land?”
“You got rid of them in exchange for a maid.”
“The Evil Queen?” He couldn't think of her as Regina anymore. Regina was, for all her faults, a woman. The Queen was an evil to be vanquished.
“There will be stories written about your victory over her.”
“The foul weather?” He was finding it almost impossible to keep a straight face. Gold has slipped away, and he was Rumpelstiltskin once again.
“It’s spring, my love. The sun is shinning and there’s not a cloud in the sky.”
“Well then, I suppose you’ll have to take this ring in exchange for nothing more but a life spent with me.”
“There’s nothing I’d like better, Rumpelstiltskin.” Belle held up her left hand, fingers splayed wide.
“It’s forever, dearie.” He waited, just a moment, until she answered.
“It better be. I’ll take nothing less that forever from you.”
“The deal is struck.” He slipped the ring onto her finger. It fit perfectly.
Chapter 6: Saturdays
It was strawberries, that first Saturday.
from a prompt by marquesadesantos ’Rum cheers Belle up’
It was strawberries, that first Saturday. Seven strawberries, cleaned and de-stemed, on a little plate with a bowl of chocolate sauce. Rum, she thought, must have come home during his lunch break to set them up because the table had been clear when she’d left. She smiled and ate them all before the first tear fell.
The second Saturday it was a book, waiting for her in the window seat where she liked to curl up. It wasn’t a new book; the pages were yellowed and the smell when she held it up to her face was old and musty, the way books were meant to smell. She lost herself in the pages for more than an hour, and only a single tear fell down her cheek.
The third Saturday she came home to find gardeners in the back yard, clearing away the junipers and replacing them with three rose bushes, two large and crimson, one tiny and pale pink. Once she was alone she sat on the grass and breathed in the aroma for hours, only going inside when the sun began to set.
The fourth Saturday it was a porch swing chained to the ceiling of the back veranda, a quilt folded over one arm and a small table with a pitcher of iced tea. She’d laughed and experimentally rocked herself, looking over the yard and her new carefully tended roses. The tea was perfectly sweetened, of course, and she’d drunk it all while eating leftover blueberry cobbler.
It was a surprise when she came home the fifth Saturday and nothing was out of place. He’d been quietly upping the ante each week, and though she told herself not to expect anything she found that she did. During the week she had work, and evenings and Sundays she had him, but Saturdays she was alone except for a visit to her father. Things had never been right between them in this town, his depression that he’d let the Queen keep her and his anger that she’d chosen to live with the man that beat him the two emotions that ruled their every meeting. She’d come home drained and a little depressed, until her Rum had started his campaign of cheering her up.
A knock on the door pulled her out of her less than cheerful thoughts. Oddly it was the back door; she checked the peephole like Rum insisted, and was surprised to find that it was him standing there.
“Aren’t you supposed to be at the shop?”
“The town can manage without pawning anything or buying antiques for half a day. I have more important things to do.” He raised his hand a little, to show the basket he was carrying. “Would you care to join me on a picnic, my lady?”
“I would be delighted, my knight.” She kissed his cheek, the tear that fell this time a happy one. No matter what other people thought of him, Rum was her knight in shining armor. Rather than trying to save her he was helping her learn to save herself.
Chapter 7: Storms
Gold, Belle, and two storms
From the prompts 'thunderclouds' and 'snowed in'
Once upon a time, Rumpelstilstskin had the power to drag lightning from the clouds and send it walking on the earth with the twist of his fingers. This thunderstorm is not of his creation, though, and the thunder is coming closer. It makes him nervous.
“Belle, love, I think it’s time to come inside now.” He stood on the back porch, just under the safety of the roof. ”We can watch the storm from here, if you like.”
“I missed the rain.” She was almost completely still, arms raised up in some kind of secret benediction. Drops of rain fell one by one, each taking their turn caressing her skin. Soon the skies would open and drench her, but for now the satin nightgown still floated around her rather than clinging to her skin, only a streak of two of water marring the perfection of creamy material and lace shades paler than her skin.
“Can’t hurt me, Rum.” She padded across the damp grass with bare feet, her smile solemn but her eyes dancing. ”We found each other across worlds and dark magic, my love. A summer storm is nothing to us.”
She pulled him down onto the top step and leaned her head against his shoulder as they watched the storm play itself out.
It wasn’t so bad as long as the electricity held, but the moment it went out, Gold stumbled against a chair in the hall and whacked his shin.
“Damn storm,” he grumbled. ”Damn Maine weather. We couldn’t have landed in California, oh no.”
“I like snow.” Belle always saw the better side of things, but he glared at her in the dim light. Surely not even she could see the silver lining in a snow storm that turned out the power. He, of course, was wrong.
“It’s like the Dark Castle.” She’d tugged him into the library, closing them off from the rest of the house and adding more wood to the fire. In the dim flickering light of the fire, surrounded by antiques and books she wasn’t wrong. At least the fire cast enough light to read by; they could both spend whole afternoons reading, side by side.
“You know what else I life about snow storms, Rum?” Gold looked up from the book he’d picked up.
“I’m sure you’ll tell me, love.”
“Everyone else is homebound, so there’s no risk of anyone coming to the door.”
Once she’d taken off every last stitch of clothing he had to admit that she had a point. He also had to admit that he prefered firelight to electricity, for some things.
Their books, that afternoon, went unread.
Chapter 8: First Meeting, Second Chance
Rumpelstiltskin and Mr. Rochester converse
crossover with Jane Eyre, from the prompt 'Gold and Rochester broship, talking about women.'
Rumpelstiltskin knew how to recognize a desperate soul, and seldom had he seen anyone more desperate than the man collapsed on the ground under an old chestnut tree. The tree, burnt by lightening and split in twain was no more damaged than the man.
“She’s gone.” He stirred to life when Rum’s shadow fell over him, eyes bloodshot and sunken into his face. His expression was one the imp might have seen in the mirror, if he ever bothered to look in one. ”I’ve looked everywhere, sent men in every direction, but she’s vanished like the pixie I once called her.”
“Women will do that.” For a moment he was back in the dungeon, resolutely facing the wall, waiting to be alone again. It had taken him more than a week to try and find his Belle, after Regina’s visit, but there was only a void where she’d been. ”Or perhaps she was a pixie.”
“Pixies do not have hearts as she does. They do not inspire passion such as I feel for my Jane. Never have I loved as I love her, and never will I again. It will kill me, to never see her again.” He did not sob. He did not even raise his voice, but his words seemed to ring in Rum’s ears.
It had been a mistake to come here. This man, Rochester, was not a part of his plans. He did not need to make a deal with this man to move a step closer to Bae. He should be focusing on Snow, or King George, or prodding at Regina with a pointy stick until she was ready to cast the curse. Still, the man had called his name, and it was a thing impossible to ignore.
“I could bring her back.” The woman was not dead, thought as he let his inner eye roam he could see that it was a close thing.
“At what cost?” Even in his grief the man was shrewd.
“A pitance, I’m sure, to a man like you.”
“Nothing that harms her, or causes her a moment’s unhappiness. Nothing that forces her to be where she doesn’t want to be. I will not keep her prisoner.”
“We’re all prisoners, dearie, in jails of our own design.” He delighted, often, in watching others craft those jails and then beat against the bars.
“She’s alive. Your offer tells me that much.” He stood, slowly, and Rum was able to see that he clutched something white and gauzy in his hand. A veil, perhaps. Even, he giggled a little, a wedding veil.
“She is, and you’re a clever one aren’t you? I can take you to her, or bring her to you.” Even now his fingers itched to pull them together like two ends of a rope. The man, Rochester, might be useful.
It wasn’t because he gave a damn about reuniting True Love.
“No.” Rochester sagged against the tree trunk, the desperation that had given him strength falling away. ”No. I won’t betray her. She is alive, and that must be enough.”
“If you say so, dearie.” There was something unsatisfying, usually, about not making a deal. This time, however, he had the feeling that he and Rochester would meet again. He pressed a coin into the man’s hand, the image of his love floating on the surface for just a minute. ”If you change your mind.”
He half expected the man to call out as he turned his back and walked away. He didn’t say a word.
Gold grumbled with the girl came into the shop, asking to hang a sign in the window. She was barely more than a child, just out of high school and all alone, trying to earn enough to pay her rent and buy food by tutoring. He was about to send her away when he saw the name listed above the telephone number. Janet Air; Regina was not creative at all when it came to names.
“On week,” he said dismissively, with a wave of his hand towards the dusty front window. ”Then you either clear it away or it goes in the trash.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Gold ignored her, seemingly having forgotten her already. In truth he was wondering how best to make sure that Chester Edmunds, one of the richest men in town and almost as much of a loner as Jefferson, saw the sign. After that all he had to do was convince the man that his niece Addie needed a tutor.
A world a way a man had refused a deal because he wanted to offer his love freedom. With the distance of time washing away some of his bitterness, Gold could see the nobility in it. Perhaps it was time, with the curse to break soon, to give Rochester and his love a second chance.
Chapter 9: Concerns and cookies
Belle and Gold babysit Grace Hatter; Jefferson worries about the Dark One being near his little girl
From a prompt about babysitting and a request for more.
He hated having her out of his sight. Hated, even more, having her in Rumpelstiltskin’s house. There was only one person he could think of to trust his Grace with, though, and that was the woman he’d rescued. As much as he disliked the imp, he hated and feared the Queen ten times more. The woman, Belle, would tend to his Gracie and the Dark One would keep them both safe.
“Just an hour,” he told both child and woman as he stood on the sidewalk leading the pink house; he didn’t dare step inside.
“I love you, papa.” Grace’s hug was a fierce thing.
“I love you, my little dormouse, more than anything in any world.” Which was why he dared to let her out of his sight, one hour a week, to meet with the Cricket Man. He was determined to be everything his daughter needed, and even before 28 years of solitude Wonderland had taken its toll on his sanity.
The first time he waited at the edge of the sidewalk, not quite on Rumpelstiltskin’s property. Though only separated an hour Grace ran out the door as if she’d been waiting for him, throwing her arms around him like it at been 28 years. He didn’t let her out of his sight until she was tucked in bed that night.
Once a week for the next two months he picked her up at the pink house, coming closer to the door but never crossing the threshold. The walls of the house tingled with magic; it made his skin itch.
It wasn’t until the day he’d waited five minutes without her appearance that he dared to step onto the porch. The windows bled colors and made it hard to look inside, but he hoped to at least see shadows moving around inside that would tell him that is Gracie was coming out to him.
“They’re in the kitchen.”
Jefferson jumped at the sound, and turned to find Belle had snuck up behind him. Belle, who was supposed to be with his daughter at all times.
“They?” There was a sharp pain in his forehead; he knew what the answer was before she spoke.
“It’s alright, Jefferson. He’s better with her than I am, and I’m quicker at running to the market.” She held up a red box; part of his brain said raisins. The bigger part of his brain said that his most precious thing in the world was alone with the Dark One. He ignored the bite of magic against the scar on his neck and walked inside.
“It’s alright, sweetheart. I promise.” A cool hand slipped into his, guiding him down the dark hall. He followed blindly, his senses tuned on listening for any signs of danger.
They stopped in a doorway. Jefferson blinked against the bright lights, and squeezed the hand holding his tightly; his Grace was safe. His Grace was laughing.
“You can’t do that, silly. People only have two arms.”
“Ah, but those aren’t arms, ducky. Those are wings. This one’s not a human but a fairy, and when she’s baked I’m going to gobble her up.” A warm laugh was joined by a giggle as two heads bent over a tray of gingerbread men.
Next to him Belle shook her head. ”A bad influence, perhaps, but never a danger, Jefferson. Not to her.”
She slipped away, leaving him to watch as she joined the other two at the counter, standing next to Grace’s stool and opening the box of raisins. ”I made sure to get especially plump ones. They should all have big eyes, don’t you think Grace?”
“Uh huh! Mine’s going to have a cravat made of icing too, just like papa. Mr. Rum’s is a fairy; I think it’s going to fly away before he can eat it.”
“That would serve him right,” Belle said with a laugh.
“If it does I’ll just have to find something else to nibble on.” Over the top of the girl’s head the two adults looked at each other with amusement and so much love that Jefferson staggered backwards a step. His Alice had looked at him like that, once upon a time.
It took him a full minute of watching them before he felt able to step into the room and greet his daughter with a kiss on the top of his head. She insisted that they stay until the cookies baked; he ended up eating a crooked little man covered in raisins.
Chapter 10: By the Sea
Their first time away from Storybrooke was to visit the sea
from a prompt by iambicdearie
She’d expect to leave, almost the moment the barriers fell down around Storybrooke. After all her love had been waiting centuries, and then another three decades, to find his son. She went willingly, but was confused when they stopped only half a day’s drive away in a little town in Massachusetts.
“Baelfire?” she asked, softly, when he parked the car in front of a drab little building.
“Not yet.” He went inside, alone, for just a minute before returning with a key. He handed it to her, and drove on a little farther. This time when he opened the car door she could hear the crashing of waves on the shore. She waited until he came around and opened her door, knowing how those little things mattered to him. Small gallantries, from someone who would never consider himself a gentleman.
He led her to a little white cottage, using the key he’d picked up to let them both in. There was deck just outside of the single bedroom; from there she could see as well as hear the ocean.
“You once said that crashing waves was the most soothing sound in the world.” Rumpelstiltskin rested his chin on her shoulder as he wrapped his arms around her from behind. Belle remembered that conversation, so long ago at the Dark Castle. It had been late, and she’d been still awake when he’d come home from a deal. In truth she’d been worried about his safely, but when he’d asked she’d spoken of not being able to sleep and missing the sounds of home like waves crashing on the shore.
“Why are we here, Rum?” If it wasn’t about Bae than she didn’t understand. What else could be as important?
“For us. We’ve yet to have any real time, just the two of us, no outsiders or plans or distractions.” The sun was bright, gulls screaming to each other as they circled the blue water, reminding her of her childhood home. But never, then, had such strong arms been wrapped around her. “I thought you might like a few days on the shore, before we start looking for Bae.”
“But Baelfire is…”
“My son, and finding him is important. But so are you, love. So are we.”
Chapter 11: The Motorcycle Ride
The oversized puppet was not to be trusted.
for a prompt of rumbelle and motorcycles from gepardo
Magic had come to Storybrooke. He should have, perhaps, explained to Belle the why of it before he’d done it, but timing was important and she’d forgiven him. That wasn’t his regret. Magic, unfortunately could not be hoarded, and had returned to all magic users, including Her Evil Highness and the fucking Blue Fairy. That, as much as he disliked the idea of either of them having power, was not his regret either. His regret was racing down the street on two wheels, going far faster than was safe.
Pinocchio was, once again, a man of flesh rather than the fanciful coat rack Rumpelstiltskin would have preferred to use him for. And while Rum had many reasons to wish the man harm, the bastard had no right to be going so fast with his Belle on the back of the damned bike. He had no business letting Belle onto the back of his bike at all, really, terrifying her no doubt with the roaring monster and the fact that she had to hold on so tight to a virtual stranger.
One would think he’d be busy enough repairing the relationship with his father, and perhaps also the somehow still human cricket. There was no reason for Pinocchio to give Rum’s True Love a ride, not when he himself was perfectly capable of picking her up. In fact the only reason he was outside as they drove up was the fact that he was heading to the car to go get her. She wasn’t due to leave the library for five more minutes.
When Belle pulled off the helmet, her hair cascading down her back as it was released, he heard her laughing. Worse, he heard her mentioning something about ‘again sometime’ and that just wouldn’t do. The oversized puppet was not to be trusted; he couldn’t do something as simple as get Emma to believe in the curse, and he certainly couldn’t be allowed to protect Belle, not even for the length of a ride. Pinocchio could turn to kindling, for all he cared. In fact it would be his preference, but not if the man’s destruction led to even a scratch on his Belle.
“Rum, did you see?” She slipped an arm around his waist, kissing him and smiling up at him. Rum was glad the puppet saw the easy way she touched him; the boy would find himself back in the woods with a blade to his throat if he even thought about looking at Belle, and this time he wouldn’t escape with so little damage.
“You’re home early, love. I was just coming for you.” He waved his hand dismissevely, both at the motorcycle and the man. “You didn’t need that.”
“It’s looking like it might rain any minute, and August was the only person left at the library. He asked if I wanted a ride home, and I thought I might spare you the trouble. Besides, I’ve never been on a motorcycle before.” Her face was shining, and it was hard when she was so happy to do anything but smile back at her.
“You’re never any trouble, my dearest. But thank you, Mr. Booth. I’d invite you in for tea, but I’m sure you have other things to do today.” He could almost feel Belle frowning at him over the invitation that wasn’t really an invitation. He pretended not to notice. “Don’t let us hold you up.”
“I do, actually, now that I’ve seen the lady safely home.” You would have thought that the brat was a knight with a steed, rather than a former tree trunk with a bicycle, the way he talked. “I’ll see you next week, Belle.”
“I’ll call you if that book comes in earlier.” To Rum’s chagrin she let go of him to give the other man a hug. It lasted all of two or three seconds. It lasted too long.
He knew something was wrong when she walked ahead of him into the house, rather than at his side. He was sure of it when she headed straight for the kitchen and started setting out the tea things. She set out her own favorite cup, with pink tea roses on it, and a second cup the same green as split pea soup. He wasn’t sure why it was in the house, even, as the thing made him involuntarily wrinkle his nose at the ugliness of it. After the firs time she only took it out of the cabinet if she was upset with him. Usually it was a gold cup, sometimes a blue one. If she was nostalgic it was always the one with a chip. Green, though, meant trouble. “Did you have a nice day, dearie?”
“He was being nice, Rum. He’s only ever been nice, and nothing more. You didn’t need to be rude.” She turned, arms crossed. “It was just a ride.”
“Given that he was, just recently, a log I can’t imagine that was the safest of things. Even under the best of circumstances I don’t trust those things.” Not with her, at least. Anyone else’s safety he was less particular about.
“The curse is broken now. It’s not like he’s going to start changing again.” She seemed to relax a little, at his concern for her safely. He, of course, couldn’t just let well enough alone.
“A pity, if that’s true. Then again his realness is wrapped up with his honesty, and considering who we’re talking about the boy could be solid again by next week.”
“Damn it, Rum. He’s my friend.” She scooped tea leaves into the pot with a vengeance, probably wishing it was him she was taking a piece out of. “You don’t have to see the worst in everyone.”
“Oh, I’ve already seen his worst.. Keep your friend, love, but think well before trusting him completely.” He shrugged. He had to bite his tongue to keep from making any demands, but she would only be more upset. “I’ll be in the library.”
He wan’t sure if he’d ever tell her about the dagger, and August Booth’s attempt to control him. He would, however, be speaking to the puppet about what was and was not allowed, when it came to his love’s safety and peace of mind. The boy had fled to the other side of the world before, but not even that would protect him if he used or hurt Belle.
Chapter 12: Dance
He'd never danced with her.
a request for Rumbelle dancing to 'Unforgettable'
They did not go the the Valentine’s Day dance, hosted by Princess Snow and Prince James. It smacked too much of a royal ball, and he’d been thrown out of enough of those. Besides, there was still the cane to account for; it didn’t make for the smoothest of dancing. Instead he’d taken her to a nice dinner at Le Ratatouille; they all but had the place to themselves.
It had been a good night.
Dove waited in the car to drive them home, a necessary concession since they’d split a bottle of wine between them, but Belle had teased him into walking for a bit first.
“It’s February, dearie,” he’d pointed out.
“It’s not even cold enough to see your breath, and the snow’s melted. The sidewalks are dry.” She tugged him away from the car, towards the lights in the middle of the town.
“Snow’s doing, I’m sure. Even the weather wouldn’t dare disobey her request for a pleasant night.” He’d much rather get home, where chocolate covered strawberries waited for them at the foot of their bed, already turned down. He had plans for his lady, to celebrate the first Valentine’s Day that either of them had ever had cause to rejoice in.
“Just a few minutes, Rum. Please?” She squeezed his hand, but it was the ‘Rum’ that did it. She was the only one who ever called him by that name, and it had more power than he hoped she ever realized.
“A few minutes.” He let her lead, and was somehow not surprised when they found their way to the school, where the multi-purpose room had been transformed into something rivaling King Leopold’s ballroom. Music floated out of the windows, and as their steps slowed he could feel Belle swaying a little in time with the beat.
Unforgettable in every way
And forever more, that’s how you’ll stay
Once upon a time he had danced, but that had been decades ago and in a different body. He would surely make a fool of himself if he tried now.
He’d never danced with her.
“May I?” He let go of her hand to bow to her. This time he had no rose but still she curtsied back.
“I’d be honored.” Her arms wrapped around his neck, his hands at her waist. They barely moved, his knee not able to take much more than a little swaying without the support of him cane. It was still perfect.
That’s why, darling, it’s incredible
That someone so unforgettable
Thinks that I am unforgettable too
Chapter 13: Not So Charmed
Dating and daughters do not mix
A friend mentioned Belle and Rum's daughter growing up and dating Snow and Charming's son. And Rum's reaction. Which led to this. Just me, playing with a little dialog only drabble. Future!verse
“I’m building a moat, Belle. A fucking moat.”
“We already have a moat, love.”
“Well I’m raising the drawbridge and filling the moat with leeches and piranahs.”
“And when Alex decides that he wants to investigate closer and falls in? He is your son, he’s not going to ignore a new pet.”
“Fine, then I’m moving her room to a tower. A tall one. With sheer walls.”
“He’s not trying to kidnap her, Rum. It’s a date.”
“In my day we didn’t date.”
“I’ll leave it to you to explain arranged marriages to Rose. Perhaps Gaston’s son would suit you better?”
“That’s not funny, Belle. Damn it, she’s my baby.”
“She is, love, but she’s also a young woman. We have to trust her to make her own decisions, just like papa trusted me.”
“Your papa let you go away with a mon… Ow! What was that for?”
“You do not call my husband and the father of my children a monster, Rumpelstiltskin. Apologize, now, or I’ll use Alex’s practice sword on you. He’s left it in the great hall again.”
“I’m sorry, my love. I just…”
“I know, Rum. She’s my baby too.”
“She already said yes.”
“She’s excited. It’s her first date.”
“Did it really have to be the Charming princling?”
“He’s a good boy, Rum. You’d rather her go out with a pirate? Hook’s son is…”
“I beg you, Belle, don’t even finish that thought.”
“Come on, love. I know just the thing to distract you from your daughter’s date.”
“I’m not sure that’s possible.”
“Why don’t you come up to the bedchamber and we’ll see if I can’t make a believer out of you.”
Chapter 14: Ikea
“Another bookcase, love?” Rum asked when she dragged an IKEA box into the house.
Fluff, based on a prompt about building something from Ikea. inspired by this ficlet.
“Another bookcase, love?” Rum asked when she dragged an Ikea box into the house. She really was taking well to this idea of ‘shopping’ in the new world. The credit card he’d gotten her (and he still thrilled every time he saw the words ‘Belle Gold’ in hard, permanent plastic) was getting quite the workout.
“No. Something new this time.” She vanished outside, to return a minute later with a second box, then a third and finally a fourth before shutting the door.
“I’ve a bit of time if you need help with the assembly.” He waved his fingers at her, just the slightest tendril of purple smoke escaping.
“Not this time. I want to try it on my own.” She did, though, consent to letting him magic the boxes to the top of the stairs, where she then carried them into the spare bedroom closest to their room. A new desk, he guessed. She’d been leery to drill holes in the antique one, even though he’d said it was alright; she needed someplace to put the cord for her computer, something 19th century antiques hadn’t taken into account.
Rum had rents to collect; three hours later when he returned she was still in the room, the door closed. ”Are you sure I can’t help, sweetheart?”
“No. I’m… damn and blast, that hurt.” When Belle cried out he didn’t think twice before opening the door. Pain from his Belle was something he couldn’t stand, and had to soothe as quickly as possible. He’d been the same with Bae, seeing red at any sign that those he loved were hurting.
“Belle, let me…” Rum froze. Belle sat on the floor, a hammer in hand and her thumb in her mouth as she sought to ease the ache. The new piece of furniture was only half built, but the form was clearly nothing to do with writing.
“I wanted it to be a surprise,” Belle said nervously as she stood up. She was barely to her feet when he had his arms around her.
“Surprise doesn’t even begin to cover it,” he said as he looked over her shoulder at what would be, when it was finished, a crib.
Chapter 15: The Hat's Rule
Why he hates Wonderland.
“Are you alright, rabbit?” It had been a long walk, as they’d crept through the maze, having to move so carefully. The walls of the maze were carnivores, barely less painful then being caught by the Queen. But they were on the path now, the corner of the toadstool just visible. The doorway was just around the corner.
“Just tired, my love. And still a little sore.” It was only a week since she’d given birth, sheltered in the home of a turtle that wasn’t a turtle. ”Do you think you can carry Gracie for me?”
“Of course, my sugarplum.” He held out his hands, but had to wait a minute as she cradled the babe closer and kissed its head.
He probably imagined the tears in her eyes.
“We’ll find a nice quiet place this time, and settle down for a bit. Like bears in a cave in winter. Papa bear, mama bear and baby bear.” He held her hand as they rounded the corner and caught sight of the mirror.
“You’ll be such a good papa, my Jefferson. Grace is lucky to have you.”
“And you, my Alice. Never was there a luckier girl. We’ll give her adventures, sweetness. And so much love.”
“All the love in our pair of hearts.” She tugged free, as they reached the mirror. ”Let me fix your hat before you lose it.”
“What would I do without you? Buttons done up wrong, no doubt and hat askew.” He smiled as she fixed his hat. ”Your price, my lady?”
It was a game they’d played a hundred times. ”A kiss, white knight, and nothing more.”
She kissed Grace first, this time, and then him; a kiss on the lips that should have been teasing but somehow felt all wrong. ”Alice.”
“I love you. Both of you.” And with a shove that took all her strength she pushed him through the looking glass, and collapsed on the ground with a wail, not caring that the noise would attract the Queen’s guards.
It wasn’t until he fell to the ground in the hall of doors that Jefferson understood what Alice had remembered all along. Two had come through the door, two weeks ago when Grace was still protected by her womb. And only two could leave. She’d made herself the sacrificial pawn to save the ones she loved.
He hated her for it.
Chapter 16: Mr. Dove
To Belle’s surprise her first customer was Mr. Dove, wearing a suit this time instead of jeans.
If you don't know who Dove is, he's the really tall guy from 'Skin Deep' who works for Gold and drives Moe's van away.
They didn’t need a ladder, with Mr. Dove around. He painted the ceiling and the upper part of the walls, the dwarves did the rest, and in less than a week the library was ready to open.
To Belle’s surprise her first customer was Mr. Dove, wearing a suit this time instead of jeans. He sat in a corner with a book in one hand and, after her assurances that it was fine, a thermos of coffee on the table in front of him. He barely moved, except to turn the pages. He stayed until closing, dipping his head in a surprisingly formal bow as he left. She looked out the window, and he didn’t move until the click of the deadbolt sliding into place. Then he was gone.
He was back the next day, and the day after that. ”I like to read,” he said when she asked. ”I saw quite a few books I haven’t read, when we were unpacking and shelving.”
“You know you can check them out for two weeks at a time?” The people of Storybrooke, after all, weren’t used to the rules of a real library.
“I like it here.”
Belle smiled, and when she ate her lunch she offered him a cookie. He told her thank you twice, and she baked a double batch that night, bringing two different kinds to share. His own lunch seemed to consist of a bologna sandwich on white bread, rather squished from being in his pocket. By the end of the second week she was bringing lunch for two every week.
It was almost a month, before she caught him at the market. She thought she’d seen him the week before, ducking around a corner, but this time she was sure.
“Mr. Dove,” she asked, when he tried to turn and feign interest in the jars of food on the shelves. Too bad for him that the side of the aisle he’d chosen was baby food.
“A friend,” he muttered as he tossed a jar at random into his basket.
“Mr. Dove, are you…” And then it hit her. She didn’t know why she hadn’t seen it before; Rumpelstiltskin had been surprisingly relaxed about not checking in on her like she’d expected, with both Regina and her father in town. ”You work for him, don’t you?”
“The boss just said to keep an eye on you, and make sure no one took you away anywhere or hurt you. I’m not spying.” He was, however, blushing. ”I didn’t lie either. I do like to read, and I love your cookies.”
“I like talking with you. I’m not angry, I promise.” Not even with Rumpel, though they were going to have to have a conversation. ”You can’t keep following me, though. I’m sure you have better things to do.”
“I do what the boss tells me to do. He seems to think there’s nothing more important than keeping you safe.”
Chapter 17: Alike
He's not like the others
From a prompt for Belle and Graham broship
They take her out the the courtyard, every third day. The Queen, it seems, does not want her valuable prisoner to perish, so she’s allowed an hour of sun and air every seventy-two hours. The walls are far taller than she could hope to climb, even if there were any footholds, but still there’s a guard with her. Dressed in black, with helmets on, it’s only the few inches difference in height that lets her know that it is not the same man every time. They never talk, and only acknowledge her with a rough arm to drag her back to her tower.
All except one.
It’s raining, the seventeenth time she’s taken to the courtyard. There’s fifty-three marks on the wall of her cell, enough that even in the rain the change of scenery is a good thing. She huddles against the wall, an overhang allowing her to stay mostly dry. Belle stares at a ray of sun, peaking through one of the rain clouds, and doesn’t notice that the guard has move closer, not until he’s holding out his hand. There’s a single piece of fruit in his hand.
“It’s called a kumquat,” he says in a voice muffled by armor. She thinks the accent is one of another land, but it’s hard to tell.
“I don’t understand.” The food the Queen has sent to her is bland. Enough to live on, but nothing to enjoy. After the first two weeks, when it became clear that she would not be an allie the feasts had ended, as well as the comfortable palace room.
“You eat it with the peel still on. They grow in the forest, in glades where the sun is able to come through the trees. Spring is beginning to show itself.” He shifts the fruit, holding it between his thumb and forefinger. ”Some think it’s too bitter, but there’s a sweetness that comes after.”
“T-thank you.” It’s the first kindness she’s known in over a month, and maybe she should be more leery; the Queen likes her tricks. But Belle refuses to let Rumpelstiltskin’s enemy steal away her faith in people. She accepts the fruit, rubbing it between her fingers. The texture is smoother than a lemon, and it’s smaller, but there’s a citrus smell that reminds her of the docks at home, when the ships would come in with their precious cargo from other lands. Lemons in her tea was a gift to be treasured while they lasted. She wanted to treasure this gift as well, but it would either rot or get taken away. She sets it on her tongue, enjoying the weight of something other than watery gruel.
“Bite into it, my Lady.” Belle tilts her head to one side. The others rarely address her, and when they do it’s ‘bitch’ or ‘the Dark One’s whore.’
“My name’s Belle.” No one’s called her that, not since Rumpelstiltskin. the Queen calls her ‘dear’ in her more generous moments, and ‘a useful pawn’ when instructing her guards not to damage her too badly. ”You’re not like the others, are you?”
“I’m not like the others at all.”
She bites into the fruit, the sourness tasting like sunshine on a bitter cold day. Like her last free moments, walking away from a pub, so certain after her conversation with the lovesick dwarf that she was returning to Rumpelstiltskin and would be able to change his mind. ”Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Belle.”
Chapter 18: Sims
The sound of his True Love in distress had Rumpelstiltskin instantly on alert.
"No. No, you can't do that."
The sound of his True Love in distress had Rumpelstiltskin instantly on alert. "Darling, are you alright?"
When she didn't answer immediately he abandoned his book and headed for the direction of her voice. The library was her favorite downstairs room, and he found her there, safe on the sofa, no visible signs of blood or pain. "Love?"
"She's dead, Rum. I raised her from a baby and now the grim reaper came and took her away." Tears shimmered in her eyes, but other than knowing she was sad about something he was confused. Raised from a baby? Had she adopted a stray kitten he didn't know about? A baby bird perhaps?
"I'm sorry, Belle. Do you need me to get a box?" She'd found a lizard, once, in the Dark Castle. It had been wounded, and when it had died she'd insisted on burying it, no matter how he mocked.
"A box?" She looked confused, shifting her attention from him to the computer, looking at it with a puzzled expression. "What do I need a box for?"
"The creature that died?" He spoke softly, respectful of her emotions as he hadn't been, once.
"Oh Rum." The last thing he'd expected was her laughter. He couldn't complain, though when she tugged on his tie and the laugh was followed by a kiss on his cheek when he bent low enough.
"Dearie, what's that?" He pointed to some sort of animated scene, on the laptop screen A figure cloaked in black (nothing like the actual grim reaper, as he well knew) stood over a gravestone with a scythe.
"That was my very first Sim, but she's dead now. It's a game that Henry told me about. You make people and they interact and fall in love and age. It's rather addictive, and I think I've spent too much time playing with it today if I almost cried. Silly, right?"
"You're tenderhearted, my Belle. There's nothing silly about that." He sat beside her on the couch, wrapping his arm around her waist. "I want to see more of this. Show me?"
"I'd love to."
Chapter 19: Punishment
“You’re such a sweet little thing.” The realm jumper turned dragon that clung to the front of Belle’s dress purred when a single finger stroked its head. Dragons did not purr, and Jefferson damn well knew that. Trust the attention grabbing dolt to mess that up as well.
“He’s not sweet, he’s a dragon.” Jefferson was supposed to be trembling and hoping desperately for forgiveness, not held protectively to Rumpelstiltskin’s own True Love’s bosom. There was no way the leech wasn’t enjoying that.
“I happen to like dragons. Besides, I bet this darling couldn’t even manage enough of a flame to light a candle.” On cue Jefferson-dragon let out a puff of smoke, without even a spark.
“He’s probably carrying twelve different diseases, starting with distemper. You’d best put him down, dearie. We’ve business to see to.” Damn Jefferson if he didn’t manage to find the edge of Belle’s blouse and nuzzle his wee little dragon face into her cleavage.
“Rumpelstiltskin you are not using this poor innocent little dragon for one of your experiments, are you.” Her eyes were wide in concern and horror. ”Please tell me you’re not going to hurt it?”
“It would serve him right if I did.” The dragon winked at him. The insufferable man was going to have to pay for the arrogance; Rum certainly couldn’t let him think that he was so weak as to give into his maid’s demands. He couldn’t let anyone, Belle especially, know that she had that much sway over him. ”He’s mine to do with as I please. Put him in the cage.”
“Rum?” Those eyes. Those eyes and that damn smile and what was he going to do with her?
“He won’t be hurt. Barely a tickle.” He pointed to the cage. ”Now, dearie.”
Once Belle was gone he pointed a finger at the beastie. ”And there you’ll stay until I’m ready to change you. And don’t think I’m going to take you out of the cage first, because I’m not.
Chapter 20: A Good Life
“Morraine gave this to me,” he said.
She’d found the box in the attic, while she was cleaning. She didn’t say a thing to Rum, when she’d found it, not wanting to hurt him. Now, though, Bae was coming home and everything was perfect.
The shawl that had once been his wasn’t something a modern boy would wear, but she’d hung it in his closet as a reminder that his father had cared enough to keep it close for so long. The football that had been his was in the corner of the room on a chair.
From the box she had added a crude whistle, carved from a reed, a set of dice, a single book, and a leather strip that might have once been a bracelet.
It was the bracelet he touched first.
“Morraine gave this to me,” he said in soft tones as he let only the tip of one finger caress the fragile thing. ”Papa?”
Belle looked from father to son as they exchanged a look that both seemed to understand.
“She had a good life, son. Never married, but took to spending her time with the midwife in the village. Many a woman owed her the health of their children. She never wanted for anything.”
“You watched over her.” There were things to work out between them, still, but from Baelfire it seemed less of a question than a statement.
“I knew it was what you would have wanted,” Rumpelstiltskin answered.