Belle woke to the sound of pouring rain and the rumble of distant thunder. Keeping her eyes closed, she smiled peacefully and shifted closer to the chest pressed warm and solid against her back.
They were tucked snugly in a cocoon of blankets, she in a t-shirt that she'd liberated from him the night before and Gold in what remained of his nighttime attire, a pair of cotton pajama pants.
(She'd giggled and cooed all over him the first time she'd seen him dressed for bed. It was so unlike his layers of daytime armor that, suddenly presented with his bare toes and bony elbows, Belle had been both helplessly charmed and breathlessly attracted to him.
Gold had endured stoically and with a hint of a blush reddening his ears while she traced her fingers up and down his forearms.
His patience was rewarded when Belle promptly removed his shirt in order to get a better look at his collarbones.)
Gold had one arm draped loosely over her waist and the other stretched out to the side underneath her head. Sighing happily, Belle laced her fingers through his and pulled him tighter around her, turning to press a kiss to the bicep serving as her pillow.
"Morning," she whispered when she felt him shift slightly on the mattress.
"G'mornin'," Gold rumbled, voice low and sleep-rough. Belle shivered happily at the sound, already planning to have a long lie-in, just drifting in and out of sleep while the rain poured down outside and they stayed cozy and warm and--
"Nnnngh, no, why?" Belle whimpered and screwed her eyes shut. She directed all of her mental energy toward the sound, willing it to stop.
"It's the alarm, love," Gold murmured, stretching his arm back to the nightstand and hitting the button to shut off the clock. Alarm silenced, he pulled Belle close and wrapped himself back around her, flinging a leg over both of hers for good measure.
"I know that," Belle grumbled. She turned in his embrace and buried her face in his chest. "Awful. Hate it."
Gold chuckled and kissed the top of head. "Time to get up," he prompted after several long moments.
"Nooo," she whined, wanting desperately to remain in the warm, boneless state of comfort she was currently occupying.
"Suit yourself." He gently extracted himself from her and threw the covers off.
"No," Belle protested again as he sat up. "Come back." She grabbed his arm and tugged, throwing him off balance so he tumbled back to the mattress.
"Stay." She climbed on top of him, blanketing his body so they touched from toes to shoulders, her head tucked under his chin. "Rain. Cold." She pulled the covers back over them and wiggled her arms under him until she was hugging his chest. "Lazy day."
Gold ran a hand over her back and gave a contented little hum. Thinking she'd won him over, Belle relaxed her muscles and settled against him more completely.
"I need to get to the shop."
She took a moment to claw her way up to a better state wakefulness. Clearly this would not be so easy as simply pinning him to the bed.
Damned stubborn man.
"Rum, when did you last have a day off?" she asked, eyes closed.
"That's what I thought. You're a crazy person and you must be stopped."
"I need to--"
"No. This is for your own good. You're taking the day off from the shop." She blindly flung up a hand to pat his cheek consolingly, missing and hitting his nose instead. "It will be fine, I'll have a word with the owner. I think he may have a crush on me."
She clapped a hand over his mouth. "Hush. The people of Storybrooke will survive one day without you sassing at them over antiques." She yawned hugely and shifted up to press her face into the crook of his neck. "They'll enjoy it, even. They'll probably give me a medal."
Gold kissed her palm before drawing her hand away from his mouth. "I do not sass."
"You sass. Sometimes you speak in only sass. Sassy sass," she giggled.
She felt his chest shake as he exhaled a laugh. "You are absolutely ridiculous when you're sleepy," he said, hugging her closer.
She leant up and pressed a sloppy kiss to his jaw. "You love it."
"Oh, you think so, do you?" Gold smirked, digging his fingers into a spot just below her ribs.
Belle squirmed atop him, giggling and trying to bat away his hand. "Aye," she laughed, finally managing to capture his hand and lace their fingers together, only to have the other take its place at her ribs.
"Aye?" he teased, tickling her mercilessly.
Belle gave up keeping hold of his hand, choosing instead to direct her attention towards tickling him back. "Aye," she choked out around breathless laughter, trying to wriggle out of his grasp
She managed to roll off of him but Gold followed, grinning as he trapped her legs with his and pulled a loose blanket around them. His hands found their place at her ribs again, sending her into hysterical laughter as they rolled and play-wrestled across the bed, becoming more and more tangled in the blankets.
Finally, Gold pinned her underneath him, returning them to a reverse of their earlier position. He braced himself on his forearms as he hovered over her, laughing. It was a true laugh, the kind of full-bodied laughter that a person has no hope of suppressing, and it took Belle's breath away to see him lit by such joy.
She beamed up at him as he calmed, lightly running her fingertips across his cheek. "I love you so much."
Gold heaved a dramatic, put-upon sigh. "Yes, yes, so you keep saying." He dug his fingers into her side once more. "Come up with something original, why don't you?"
Belle arched an eyebrow and tugged on his ear reproachfully.
Gold chuckled and leant down, nipping her ear in playful retaliation before he whispered, "I love you too, dear one." Belle smiled stupidly, her insides going all warm and squirmy. He said it every day, over and over, and yet somehow it made her feel just as wonderful and breathless and goofy every time.
Gold kissed her cheek and pulled back to meet her eyes. "Lazy day, then?"
Belle nodded happily. "Lazy day. Sleep."
"I'm not sure I can get back to sleep now that I'm awake."
"Just rest, then. Relax."
Gold huffed and stared down at her fondly. Belle stared back, scrunching her nose at him and earning a chuckle in response.
"What's on the itinerary for a lazy day?" he asked, idly playing with a few curls of her hair where they draped over the pillows.
"Itinerary? I think you're missing the point. Lazy day is for whatever we want. There are very few rules."
"Ah, but there are some rules?"
"Guidelines," she corrected, tracing a finger over his collarbones and watching him squirm happily in response.
"Still, best to know what I'm getting myself into."
"Fair enough." She looped her arms around him, hands playing with the hair at the nape of his neck. "The bed should be vacated as infrequently as possible. All food must be delicious and have little to no nutritional value. Leaving the house is strictly forbidden. There will be absolutely no working," she emphasized, poking him in the shoulder with each word.
"Is that all?"
"One more. It's very important. You," she instructed, running her hands up and down his back in broad, possessive strokes, "are not allowed to put on a shirt."
"And if I get cold?"
"You're never cold. And even so, too bad. Huddle for warmth if you must, but no shirt. The rules are very specific on this matter."
"Are they, now?" Gold smirked. "And here I thought they were just 'guidelines.'"
"That one's actually an official rule. I'm afraid I really must insist."
"Let me see if I understand this correctly," he said, ticking off the list on his fingers as he went. "On a lazy day I am to spend all day in bed with you, eating junk food, without my shirt on?"
"Brilliant." He grinned and flopped down onto the bed beside her.
Belle giggled and cuddled him close, until his head was tucked under her chin. She buried her fingers in his hair, rubbing gently, and Gold gave a happy murmur, sliding down until his head was pillowed on her stomach.
She smiled as his arm curled around her, combing her fingers through his hair and tucking it back behind his ear.
"Has your hair always been this long?" she asked.
"Well, presumably it was shorter at birth."
"That sounded a lot like sass."
"I'm just saying."
Gold huffed and Belle smiled to herself, continuing to play with his hair.
A moment later, he responded to her earlier question. "It's almost always been long, yes."
"Why do you ask?"
"Just wondering how it would look shorter."
"Want me to cut it?" he asked around a yawn.
"No. I mean, obviously you can if you want to. But I like it like this, I was just curious."
"Planning to cut it while I'm sleeping, dearie? Is that what this has all been about?"
Belle giggled. "Of course not. I bet you'd look cute though."
He snorted. "I've been many things in my life. Cute is most certainly not one of them."
"I beg to differ. Remember that whole flail-y hands thing you did after I fell off the ladder in the Dark Castle?" she prompted. "That was very cute."
"How was that cute? I was a gibbering idiot."
"Same thing," Belle deadpanned.
"If you say so," he grumbled.
Belle stifled a laugh at his obvious embarrassment with the idea and went back to stroking his hair.
Long minutes passed and Belle closed her eyes, drifting happily while she felt Gold's breathing slow and deepen.
A question rose in her mind and, unable to wait, she brushed a hand over his arm to get his attention.
"Hmm?" he answered, clearly minutes away from sleep despite his earlier protesting.
"Not that I'd ever seriously ask you to, but... you'd really do something like that?"
"Cut your hair, if I wanted you to."
"'Course I would, s'just hair," he murmured, voice rough with drowsiness. "Do anythin' for you."
Her breath caught. "Have I told you recently how very much I love you?"
"Mmhmm. Couple'a minutes ago."
"Good. Because I do, you know."
"And you love me too."
"Aye," he answered around another yawn.
Belle smiled. "Go to sleep, love."
He tugged gently on her shirt, hand fisted in the fabric. "You too?"
"I'll drift off soon enough," she whispered. "I like watching you sleep."
"Creepy," he mumbled against her stomach.