Ruby scrunched up her nose, screwed up her eyes, and sneezed.
It was kind of endearing, really.
Not that Belle found Ruby endearing, not that Ruby wasn't endearing. And not that, now things were finally straightened out with Rumpelstiltskin, Belle wasn't free to be endeared by anyone she pleased, but--
Belle's runaway train of thought was interrupted by Ruby sneezing again.
"Sorry," said Ruby.
"No, I'm sorry," said Belle. "I'm not sure why I thought helping me catalogue the library basement would be fun for you."
"It was fun," said Ruby, reaching out as though she was going to take Belle's hand, and then changing her mind and stroking her fingers along the spines of a shelf of books. "I like the smell of old books." She sneezed again and added, "not so much the smell of dust."
Belle laughed at that, ducking her head so Ruby didn't think that she was laughing at her.
"I mean," said Ruby, "that I always have fun with you, no matter what we're doing. And this way," she added with a grin, "you get to help me inventory the freezer at Granny's tomorrow."
Belle liked white wine more than red; Ruby preferred red, but only brought white to girls' nights once she realised it was what Belle liked best.
Belle hated seeing films of books before she'd read the original, which led to Ruby making lists of the titles that lined Belle's bookshelves and comparing them to the ones in the video store.
Belle liked cheddar, she liked the taste of brie but the texture freaked her out. Ruby had handed her a handkerchief to spit her one and only taste of goat cheese into, which had caused Belle to blush adorably.
Belle had only taken a tiny nibble of the stilton when she said, "What's wrong?"
"Then why are you doing the--" Belle screwed up her nose in an impression of what Ruby must look like when she smelled something bad. "--thing?"
"It's just, the cheese is a bit strong."
"I'll throw it out," said Belle, wrapping it in a napkin, and getting up from the couch.
"You don't have to."
"Ruby, pour some more wine," Belle told her, heading for the bin in the kitchen.
Ruby reached for the bottle, and thought that the smell had only bothered her because the stink of blue cheese had permeated the room, and not because she'd been slowly homing in on Belle's mouth over the course of the evening.
Belle liked escapist fiction (although not fairy stories), histories, and biographies. Ruby liked graphic novels, travel guides, and books of photography.
The book they were poring over, lying on their stomachs atop Ruby's comforter, was a collection of photo-journals from South America.
"I've always wondered what the rainforest would smell like."
"Would you leave Storybrooke," asked Belle, "if you could?"
"I don't know," said Ruby. "The boundary is-- I want to know that I could leave, if I wanted to. But I'm not sure I'd really want to leave home and the people that I love."
"I'd go with you," said Belle. "Not that I think I'm... I mean, not like that's the same thing, at all--"
"I'd like that," Ruby interrupted her with a smile. "Although, maybe not Bolivia, at least not for our first trip."
"Boston, maybe, at least the first time."
"It's a date," agreed Ruby.
"It's beautiful," said Belle of the cabin in the woods.
"You really like it?"
"Oh, look at that fireplace! You could sit and read in front of it."
"Because I read so much?" Ruby said with a laugh in her voice.
"Um, a person could read by it, I mean."
"It doesn't belong to anybody, and David and Granny fixed it up for me to stay in during the full moon. Granny's worried about me freezing to death."
"Well, I'll feel better too, knowing that you won't be waking up in the woods during winter in Maine."
"You could use it too, you know. If you ever wanted to get out of town for a while."
"Thank you, Ruby, for showing me this."
Ruby was wiping down the diner counter when Belle asked, "Do you want to have dinner with me tonight?"
"Sure. Grab a table, I'm due a break in about fifteen minutes."
After Belle turned away Emma looked up from her drink, she arched an eyebrow at Ruby. "Seriously?" she said.
5. (take 2)
Ruby caught up with Belle halfway down Main Street.
"I--" she said, and kissed Belle.
Belle kissed back, wrapping her arms around Ruby's neck. Ruby mostly thought that Belle was a brilliant kisser, and only slightly tried to remember whether or not this was the end of Main where Gold's shop was.
"I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page," said Ruby.
Belle toyed with ends of Ruby's hair. "And we are?"
"So, dinner? At the diner, but after closing, just the two of us?"
"It's a date," said Belle.