|The Essence of Life
Author: Bad Faery PM
AU- Unhappily married to Gaston, Belle calls on Rumpelstiltskin to bring life to her barren womb. His price is not what she expects.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance - Belle & Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold - Words: 8,937 - Reviews: 135 - Favs: 481 - Follows: 57 - Published: 03-20-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7942998
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"I ask that you grant me the ability to conceive, carry, and bear a healthy child of my own that I can raise as I see best fit."
Despite himself, Rumpelstiltskin was impressed with the blue-eyed beauty's composure. He was well aware of the princess's desperation; even if he couldn't sense it for himself, the mere fact that she had contacted him was proof enough. Yet, no sign of her inner turmoil showed on her calm face. Her hands were folded neatly in front of her with no tremor to her fingers. Even more impressive was her word choice. She was careful to specify exactly what she wanted, leaving no room for loopholes like miscarriages or him interfering in the child's life. Yes, the princess of Avonlea had some sense.
"It can be done with ease," he assured her, splaying his hands dramatically, "For a price."
She nodded, clearly having expected that. "Which is?"
"A favor to be paid at some later date," Princesses were thick on the ground in the Enchanted Forest, but a princess with sense? That was far more unusual. This girl could prove very handy to him at some future point. He materialized a long scroll, holding it out before him, a quill in his other hand. "Do we have a deal?"
She seized both out of his hands, and he smiled to himself, pleased by the rapid progression. She carried them over to the small table set for two- for her and her handsome husband no doubt- and he tilted his head back, listening for the delightful scratch of quill telling him the deal had been struck.
It didn't come.
Instead, he heard a squeak as she drew a chair back and placed herself in it, her golden skirts folding gracefully around her, and he watched in disbelief as she lifted the scroll to her face. "What are you doing, dearie?"
Blinking at him over the contract, she replied, "Reading it."
For a moment he was convinced he'd misheard her. "Pardon?"
"I'm reading it," she repeated, enunciating more clearly this time as though thinking he couldn't understand her accent. She gestured to the other chair at the table, "I'm sorry, would you like to sit down?"
Not waiting for his reply, she returned her attention to the contract, using the quill he'd given her to underline several points as she did so. He stared at her, mentally revising his initial impression. She wasn't sensible. She was insane.
"Oh, do sit," she encouraged, glancing up at him again, "I can ring for tea if you'd like."
Smirking to himself, he called her bluff. Dropping into the seat opposite her, he waved his hands regally, "Tea would be grand."
Unperturbed she picked up a small golden bell and rang it, the door opening seconds later. "Your highness-?"
The last syllable of her address turned into a squeak when the serving girl saw who was sitting down with her mistress. The princess didn't seem to notice, "Seraphina, might I have a pot of tea with an extra cup for my guest? Pastries too, please." She looked over at him, "Is there anything else you'd like?"
"I take mine with lemon and the blood of virgins," he informed her, and the princess froze, her eyes widening. The serving girl disappeared in a flurry of skirts, and he could hear her feet pounding down the corridor. He doubted she'd be back. "A quip, dearie. Just lemon will do."
She stared at him a moment longer, then her lips twitched, and she actually chuckled. "I think I'll have to get it myself now," she said with a shake of her head, "Seraphina will hide in the attics for weeks."
She put the contract down to do just that, but before she could rise, he stopped her. "Never mind the tea, dearie. Do we have a deal?"
"Well, I don't know yet," she answered with some frustration, "I haven't finished."
"You're going to read the entire thing?" he asked flatly.
"You don't expect me to sign something without reading it first, do you?" she countered, picking up where she'd left off.
"Yes." Of course he did. Everyone signed without reading.
"Don't be silly," she chided, scooting her chair close to his so they could both see the scroll and pointing to a list of clauses, "Here, this has to go. You can't dictate the child's name." With a neat hand, she struck out the offending sentence, then continued.
"You promise a child free of physical and mental defects, that's good. You choose the gender, that's fine." It took a moment for his brain to process that she'd actually altered the contract, and by the time it did, it seemed to be too late.
"You don't want to specify the gender? An heir for your husband?" If she was going to fight about any point, he would have expected that one.
She shook her head. "My husband has enough by-blows that succession should not be a problem. This deal is for me, not him." There was bitterness in her voice that hadn't been there before, and for some reason he didn't care for the sound of it. Her knee brushed against his, and she did not jerk away.
"Trouble in paradise, dearie?" he trilled, trying to needle her into honest anger instead of whatever mood she was currently in.
She looked him straight in the eye. "Our marriage was arranged. I do not care for my husband, nor does he care for me."
He swallowed the shrill giggle that lurked on his lips, uncomfortable with her honesty. She was making no effort to save her dignity, which took a kind of courage he rarely saw. "Then why do you want his child?" His voice had dropped in register, some of the mask of the Dark One slipping.
"I don't want his child; I want a child," she answered him. "I have gone from my father's house to my husband's. I once longed to see the world, and I will never leave this duchy. If I can have nothing else, I want something to love that will love me in return. I want a child. Can you understand?"
The image of his son's face flitted through Rumpelstiltskin's mind. Belle wanted a child to cling to because she had nothing else. Despite riches and power, her bed was cold, her life untouched by love. He could understand perfectly.
With a wave of his hand, the contract and quill disappeared into the ether leaving Belle looking down at her hands in surprise. "I wasn't done," she protested, then her face fell, "Or have you changed your mind?"
"Not at all, dearie," he shook his head, speaking in his natural voice for once, "I've simply decided on my favor."
"Oh!" she brightened, looking at him expectantly.
For the first time in several centuries, Rumpelstiltskin was unsure about how to proceed. The idea made perfect sense in his head, but there was no telling how she'd react. Then again, if she was truly desperate for a child, she'd be willing to meet his price, and if she didn't want one badly enough to suffer for it, she didn't deserve one at all. "Since you don't care to have your husband's child, my favor is that you permit me to choose the father."
Belle inclined her head, indicating that she was listening but not yet agreeing, waiting for more detail. Cowardice caught his tongue, and he simply held her gaze for long moments, willing her to understand. Finally, her eyes widened with surprise, "Oh!"
He couldn't make out her tone, but he could only assume the thought disgusted her. He wanted to curse her for that, leave her barren, but he found himself saying, "I will not hurt you. I am not so monstrous as that."
"What? No," Belle shook her head, "It's not that. That's fine. Just... The child will still be mine?"
Her easy acceptance caught him off guard. Her only concern was that he might take the child? Not that he'd be touching her? Shock loosened his tongue as he found a half-truth for her, "I've not been a father for a long time; I wouldn't remember how to go about it. The child will be yours. You have my word." Belle would have her child, and he would have the memory of her touch and the satisfaction of knowing a child of his lived once again, this time in safety and comfort in the arms of a princess.
"Then you have mine," she acquiesced, glancing around the room as if looking for something, "We should go to my bedchamber."
There was no embarrassment in her face, no hesitation. Dazed, he stood, and she took his arm, leading him through deserted corridors. "I think Seraphina must have spread the word," she laughed a little, squeezing his arm, and he could feel her warmth through the dragonhide jacket, "I may need new servants after this."
"I could make you some," he offered, half meaning it, "How would an enchanted teapot suit you?" No one had touched him willingly in centuries. No one had touched him with affection for even longer, yet, this beautiful woman was hanging on his arm, not seeming to notice his scaly skin or sharp teeth. Was she so desperate for a child as all that? Or was she truly not frightened of him?
"Unless you can enchant it to walk about, it would probably be more charming than useful," Belle decided, opening a door at the end of the corridor and beckoning him to follow her into the sumptuous suite. The room was decorated in shades of blue, with rich tapestries and an elegant canopied bed completely overshadowed by the sheer number of books.
"You seem to sleep in a library," he observed, her determination to read his contract suddenly making more sense.
"Gaston does not approve of books. What he does not see cannot upset him," she said matter-of-factly. She caressed a leather-bound volume lying on a low table like a lover, and he shivered. Turning her back on him, she said over her shoulder, "Since my servants seem to have vanished, you'll have to unlace me. Unless you'd prefer me to keep the dress on?"
He tightened his jaw at her businesslike approach. "Eager to get it over with, dearie?"
Belle glanced back at him, her brow furrowed, "What do you mean?"
"No soft touches or words? You prefer me to just have you and be done?" Of course she did, he cursed himself, what woman would invite his caresses? No doubt she'd want him to be as quick as possible. Perversely, that just made him want to take his time with her even more. If his price for this magic was a memory, he wanted to make it worth his while.
When she turned to face him, her expression gave him pause. Belle didn't look like she was trying to hurry him along, to shorten her encounter with the monster. She just looked confused. Another possibility dawned, unpleasant but possible. Modulating his tone, he asked, "Dearie, what does that husband of yours do to you?"
She shrugged. "His duty."
"His duty," he echoed, taking a step closer to her. She didn't back away. "Does he tell you how beautiful you are? Does he tell you how lucky he is to have you in his bed?"
Swallowing hard, Belle repeated, "He... does his duty."
Rage filled him at her oaf of a husband. The man had a beautiful, sensible, kind wife, and the best she could say about his attentions was that he 'did his duty.' It was obscene. Reaching out, he caught her hands in his, determined to show her what she was missing. She wouldn't appreciate it coming from him, but pleasure was pleasure no matter who was offering it. Perhaps she could demand it from the oaf once she knew what to ask for. "You are truly lovely," he told her honestly, referring to so much more than just her face, "Your husband is a fool."
Delicate color suffused her face, and his breath actually caught. "I would rather not think about my husband," she told him.
He nodded, not particularly wanting to invoke the oaf either. "We will do as you wish." Releasing one of her hands, he led her to the bed and perched her on the edge of it. "Close your eyes, dearie."
Her lashes brushed her cheeks as she obeyed him, and he nodded to himself, satisfied. It would be better like this. She could envision the prince of her dreams instead of having the monster's closeness destroy her pleasure. He shucked off his coat, feeling uncomfortably warm already, and took his place beside her, not quite touching. Although he watched closely, Belle didn't flinch from him. Perhaps she was already lost in her fantasy, seeing her dream lover beside her. Belatedly, it occurred to him that he could have cast a glamour and made himself more acceptable, but that would probably be too little and too late at this point. It was better to let her dream.
Leaning down, he pressed his lips to her shoulder where it was bared by her gown. "You're so very beautiful," he murmured against her skin, keeping his voice pitched low, trying to sound like a normal man for her. "You deserve to be treated like the princess you are." Carefully, slowly, he traced kisses up her shoulder until he reached the curve of her neck where he paused simply to breathe her in. Belle smelled like roses with the faintest aroma of the friendly scent of old books and the unmistakable hint of purity beneath it all. There wasn't an ounce of darkness in this woman's soul, yet she was accepting him into her bed all for the love of a child she didn't yet possess.
She arched her neck with a little sigh, granting him better access, and he pressed an open-mouthed kiss to her throat, careful not to let his teeth break her skin. He sucked tenderly at her throat, wanting to see his mark on her, to claim this astonishing creature as his own. Let her husband see that, he thought darkly. Let the oaf see that if he wouldn't attend his wife, there were others eager to take his place. Perhaps then he'd recognize her value.
As he lavished attention on her throat, he let his other hand roam, caressing the side of her face and her bare arms with just his fingertips, not letting her feel his claws. He was barely touching her, yet she was already breathing quickly, clearly unaccustomed to being the focus of a man's desires. If she was his, he'd never let her out of his bed. He'd never get anything done, but what difference would it make? Belle deserved to be worshiped constantly.
Moving to sit slightly behind her, he shaped her narrow waist with his hands, feeling the rapid rise and fall of her chest as he forced himself to abandon her neck in favor of trailing his mouth over her upper back until he reached the top of her dress. "It's a lovely dress, dearie," he murmured, "But you'd be lovelier without it."
"Yes," she agreed breathlessly, reaching behind her to try to undo the lacing.
He batted her hands away with an indulgent chuckle, "Let me." She acquiesced at once, her neck arching as he pressed another kiss to the love-bite there, untying the bow at her waist with careful fingers and slowly easing the satin cords through the eyelets of her golden gown. As soon as he had the back opened up, he slipped his hands inside, eager to feel her warm skin beneath his palms. Instead, he found only more fabric: stiff corsetry and scratchy lace. Distracted, he tore his mouth away from her throat, looking down in disbelief. "Are all these layers really necessary?" He forgot to keep his voice low, but Belle just laughed, her eyes fluttering open to look back at him over her shoulder.
"I don't think the dress would stay on without them," she chuckled, and there was no hint of revulsion in her eyes at having him so close to her.
Unbidden, the image of her gown slipping lower as they discussed the terms of their deal sprang into his mind, and he shuddered, his breath catching in his throat. "I... fail to see the problem with that," he managed, and Belle flushed, looking shyly pleased. In a graceful movement, she hopped off the bed and let the unlaced gown slide down over her body to puddle on the floor. When she moved to rejoin him, her foot caught in the silk, and she stumbled, falling face first onto the bed.
He caught her as best he could, her momentum knocking them both flat on the mattress, her on top of him, their faces only inches apart. Belle laughed again, and he could feel her warm breath against his lips. "Sorry. I'm a little clumsy."
"No matter," he assured her, his hands tangling in her chestnut curls without him ever having told them to do so. With a tug, he pulled her down, finding her mouth with his own blindly, his eyes slipping shut in self-defense. She was too close and too beautiful, and he was going to completely lose control if he wasn't careful. Her lips were warm and pliant against his, and she sighed when he sucked at her lower lip, her hands clutching at his vest.
Once again, it hit him: he was barely touching her, yet Belle was trembling. When he brushed her lips with his tongue, she giggled a little through her nose, not parting her lips for him. It felt like a rejection, but she was still pressed against him, one arm sliding around his ribcage to hold him to her. "Open your mouth for me," he mumbled, gratified when she at once did as he asked, letting him slide his tongue into her mouth and taste her more deeply. Belle moaned against his lips, the sound a combination of pleasure and surprise that had him deciding to turn the oaf into a snail the moment they were done here. The bastard had Belle and couldn't even be bothered to kiss her properly? Being a snail was too good for him.
He eased her onto her back, sitting up a little to look down at her. Despite the fact they'd gotten her gown off her, Belle was still wearing more clothes than most peasants ever would have bothered with. Between the corset, corset-cover, chemise, petticoats, and pantaloons, she'd might as well be fully dressed. Even so, she blushed under his scrutiny, lifting her hands to cover her chest. "Don't." He caught her wrists, easing her hands away. Her cheeks flaming, she subsided, letting him look his fill.
Belle deserved extravagant compliments and a prince to worship her. Rumpelstiltskin had never excelled at compliments though, and he'd already exhausted his store. She deserved a prince, and instead she was getting a monster staring at her like he'd like to eat her alive. Despite her blush, she didn't seem horrified by the situation. Instead, her hands plucked at the front of his vest, playing with his buttons but not undoing them. "If you get to look, I should too," she suggested.
He stared down at her in disbelief, scarcely comprehending her words. Surely she couldn't be saying that she truly wished to look on him. "It's not a pretty sight, dearie," he informed her, taking her hand, meaning to return it to the bed.
Belle sighed, looking disappointed but not surprised. "Gaston won't either." Her hand went limp in his grasp, indicating her willingness to let him position her where he would.
She couldn't have said anything more likely to get him to agree. Guiding her hand back to the buttons, he shook his head, "Don't say I didn't warn you."
Her eyes brightened, and she quickly undid the long row, pushing his vest back off over his shoulders. He shrugged it off, tossing it to the floor beside the bed, and she ran her hand over his chest through his silk shirt, making his breath catch. To distract her before she decided to try to get anything else off him, he lowered his head to nibble at her collarbone, kissing every bit of skin available to him before pressing his lips to the swell of her breast visible above her undergarments. Belle gasped, her hands going to his head to hold him in place as though she thought he needed incentive to keep touching her.
He cupped her breast, the stiff fabric and whalebone stays keeping him from feeling her softness, and really this wouldn't do at all. He pulled back, ignoring her mournful sigh, and tried to see how her clothes worked. The only other woman he'd ever touched was his wife who'd never worn anything like Belle's frilly, complicated underpinnings, and he was at a bit of a loss. For a moment he was strongly tempted to just magic her out of them, but that might be a bit much for her to suddenly be confronted with. Instead, he hunted for anything that looked like it could be a fastening, unhooking, unlacing, and unbuttoning with single-minded determination and kissing every bit of flesh he managed to reveal.
Belle moaned and sighed, shifting under him happily each time he managed to remove another bit of fabric from her. Her petticoat was the first thing to go completely, and he made a noise that sounded suspiciously like a whimper when he got his first look at her legs. Her sheer pantaloons weren't enough to shield her completely, and Rumpelstiltskin's mind was quick to envision those legs wrapped around his waist, holding him tightly against her as he plunged into her, giving her what she wanted.
Cool air brushed his bare chest, and he came back to himself to discover Belle had managed to unbutton his shirt while he was lost in his fantasy, her hand sliding down the center of his chest. He nearly bit through his tongue in an effort to stifle his cry, and if he didn't get his breeches off soon, he was going to do some permanent damage to himself.
Desperately, he rolled her onto her stomach, searching for the lacings of her corset. His hands were shaking too badly to undo her, and he gave up. Using his claw, he sliced through the laces, the stiff fabric opening up like a gift and baring her back to his hungry gaze. His hands on either side of her, he traced his tongue up her spine, her skin tasting even more delicious than she smelled. Belle sobbed into her pillow, her hands clutching his wrists in a death-grip as he lowered himself onto her just for a moment, letting her feel his hard length against her behind, showing her what it felt like to be desired.
Her back arched, hips pressing upwards to seek more of him, and the pressure nearly undid him right there. He jerked away before he could disgrace himself, hands sliding over her soft skin to calm her. He blinked through the haze of desire, frowning when he saw the creases and red marks marring her pale skin. He traced one mark with his fingertip, his head clearing slightly, "Dearie? What's this from?" If she so much as hinted the oaf had raised a hand to her, being turned into a snail would be the least of his problems.
"Hmm?" Belle wriggled a little, distracting him from the issue at hand, "Corsets aren't meant to be comfortable."
Her clothes had done this to her? With a wave of his hand, the corset vanished into thin air, and he took a moment to mentally rifle through the rest of her belongings, disappearing the rest of them while he was at it. "Not good for the baby," he told her, not even bothering to try to convince himself that was the primary reason he'd done it.
She nodded, then rolled over, giving him his first look at her breasts. His mouth went dry, thoughts scattering, and he couldn't have stopped himself from touching if she'd set him on fire. With trembling fingers he cupped her breast, relishing her hiss of pleasure as he stroked her soft flesh with his thumb. "That's right, dearie," he whispered, barely aware of what he was saying, "This is what it's supposed to be like."
He rubbed his thumb against the sweet pink bud, feeling it harden at his touch, and he ducked his head, needing to taste her more than he needed to breathe. Belle cried out wildly, her fingers plunging into his hair to hold him in place, nearly sobbing as he kissed and licked, anything to bring her pleasure. A moment later she was yanking at his shirt, having some trouble with his cuffs, and he banished it with a thought. Her arms went around his neck, pulling him down with surprising strength as she demanded another kiss. "I want... I want... please..." she begged against his mouth, her legs parting to let him settle between them.
He could feel her heat even through his breeches and her pantaloons, and a judicious use of magic could have had them both naked in a heartbeat. He thrust against her with a groan, and Belle nearly screamed, her head falling back to bare her throat. He nipped at the love-bite, darkening the mark even more, then forced himself to pull away despite her clinging hands. He could be inside her in less than a thought, and he'd last about that long, he thought darkly. Belle deserved better.
"I'll give you what you want, love," he promised her, the endearment suiting her better than 'dearie.' Placing a gentle kiss to each breast, he swept his hand down her body, resting it over her abdomen for a moment. Better to do this now before he completely lost track. Probing gently with his senses, he found the blockage rendering her barren and removed it with a thought; a few quick tweaks ensured his seed would fall on fertile ground, and another guaranteed she'd adapt well to the pregnancy with no sickness to mar her joy. Satisfied, he made short work of the fastening of her pantaloons and inhaled sharply, savoring the moment in which she was finally bared to his sight.
"Wait!" Belle exclaimed, and he drew back like he'd been slapped. Really, he was surprised it had taken her this long to change her mind. Grimly, he decided he should be grateful she'd given him as much as she had; she hadn't kept the bargain, but he was inclined to leave her fertile anyway. The last hours had been among the best of his life, and she deserved to be rewarded for that.
He tried not to look at her breasts as she sat up, tensing as he waited for her to tell him to leave her. "You still have your boots on," she said in the sudden silence, her bold tone belying her flushed cheeks, "I'm at a disadvantage."
Calmly, she met his eyes, apparently waiting for him to do something. When he didn't, she crawled to the foot of the bed and took hold of his legs, yanking them into her lap and running her fingers over the complicated lacing of his tall boots, "How do these work?"
He was so used to that particular magic that it required exactly no thought to banish the boots to the floor, leaving her holding his scaly feet in her lap. Belle ran a finger curiously over his blackened toenails, looking more interested than revolted, then caressed the arch of his foot, the ticklish sensation surprising an unseemly giggle out of him. She looked delighted, "You're ticklish!"
"Apparently," he managed, slowly realizing that she was not preparing to throw him out of her bedchamber.
Belle's eyebrows lifted, "Apparently? You didn't know? Oh!" She let out a little cry when he caught her around the waist and knocked her flat on the bed, his hands already searching out her ribs. Shrieking with laughter, Belle batted at his hands as he tickled her unmercifully, her eyes streaming. Rumpelstiltskin became aware that he was laughing too, a real laugh, not one of the Dark One's sniggers or off-putting giggles.
Giving up on trying to get away, Belle tried a different tactic and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him down into a kiss. This time, it was her tongue invading his mouth, and he had just enough time to be proud of what a quick learner she was before she licked the roof of his mouth, and he suddenly didn't want to tickle her anymore. "Belle..."
Looking smugly satisfied, she let him go, her tongue darting over her lower lip like she wanted another taste of him. The sheer eroticism of her action made him groan, and he dipped his head to kiss her collarbone, determined to pay her back for that little trick. His hands went to the waistband of her pantaloons, and this time she didn't stop him as he eased them down over her hips, leaving her gloriously bare beneath him. Belle flushed, shades of rose tinting her creamy complexion, but she didn't try to hide herself from him, instead letting him look his fill.
She was perfection, truly the fairest in all the land, and Rumpelstiltskin wondered if he was dreaming as he traced his hand gently over the soft curve of her hip and upper thigh. Surely this couldn't be real. Child or not, surely this beauty couldn't really intend to give herself to him. "Rumpelstiltskin?" He lifted his head at the sound of his name, seeing Belle's blush deepen as she bit her lip, "Please?" Her thighs parted slightly, beckoning him to complete their deal, and his head swam.
"Anything for you, love," he swore, meaning the words. He would give her anything she wanted, anything his magic could provide, and his price would be only that she look at him like that always. Lowering his head, he pressed a tender kiss to the delicate curls between her legs, and Belle stiffened, not letting out the breath she'd taken. "Just relax, dearie. All will be well," he assured her, not moving until she resumed breathing.
This act was as new to him as it was to her; he hadn't even been aware of the possibility until he'd become the Dark One, but the mechanics seemed simple enough. A few more kisses let her get used to the idea of having him there, then he chanced moving deeper, stroking his tongue over her.
Belle yelped, her body going stiff, and he pulled back, convinced he'd managed to hurt her. 'Stupid,' he cursed himself as he waited for her to speak, 'Stupid, stupid. She's fragile. You have to be careful.' "Belle?" he asked finally, when she remained silent.
"Do..." her voice was hoarse, like she was ill, "Do that again!"
Relief left him light-headed, and he grinned as he obeyed, running his tongue over her again. The taste was like nothing he'd ever experienced before: raspberries and musk and roses and joy, and if all he got out of this was this memory, he'd consider their deal a bargain. He lapped at her eagerly, starving for more of her, and Belle's cries grew louder as her fingers tangled in his hair.
Desperately, he tried to pay attention to what she liked, which places made her moan the loudest, but the noises she was making were driving him out of his mind. He ground his hips into the mattress, but it wasn't enough; only her body would satisfy the aching need. He thrust two fingers into her, relieved to have at least some part of his body inside of her, and Belle shrieked, her channel clenching around his hand so hard he couldn't move. He kept lapping at her as she keened, her cries eventually tapering off into quiet sobs that had him sitting up in panic. "Belle? Love?"
She threw herself into his arms, burying her face against his throat as she cried, and he stroked her back, using his magic to look for any signs of injury. Whatever he'd done, he'd fix it, but he couldn't find anything that looked like it hurt. "Love, what happened?"
She shook her head, not letting go of him. "I didn't... I never... It was just so... I never felt anything like that before."
Instantly, he was filled with a ridiculous sense of pride at being the first to please her like this. No longer did he want her to demand this treatment from the oaf. Instead, some greedy, delusional part of him hoped she'd call on him when she was feeling neglected, that she'd permit him to touch her again even after she had the child she so desired. He pressed a kiss to her hair, letting himself pretend for just one moment that she was his to keep. "My pleasure."
Belle snickered, a watery sound, but she seemed calmer now. "No, I rather think it was mine," she said archly, running her hand over his chest. He clutched her closer, making a small noise he was embarrassed to think had come from his throat. Interest piqued, Belle leaned over to follow her fingers with her lips, and her small hands found the fastenings of his breeches, fumbling with them for a moment before she cupped him through the leather, and Rumpelstiltskin lost his mind.
In a heartbeat, he had her pinned under him, holding her wrists down on either side of her head, their faces so close she could surely feel his hot breath on her face as he panted, struggling to control himself. "Touching me is a very, very bad idea," he gritted out when he was able to speak again.
Belle didn't look frightened, just confused, "Why?"
Even now the urge to just shove himself into her, to take her hard and fast like an animal claiming his mate, was nearly overwhelming. Belle was a lady, a princess, and she deserved tenderness, not a desperate coupling with a creature so touch-starved that the feel of her hand on his chest was almost enough to bring him to climax. "Monsters aren't to be played with, dearie," he warned her, and she laughed instead of flinching.
"You're not a monster," she denied, craning her neck to brush her lips against his. She shifted until he lay in the cradle of her thighs, one leg twining around his to brush his calf with her foot. He growled at her; she was cheating, but she just arched against him, pressing her breasts against his chest.
"Be careful what you ask for, love," he muttered as he released his grip on her wrists, pulling back to unfasten his breeches. Clever fingers joined his, helping him remove the last of his clothing, and he sighed in relief as she freed him from the tight confines of the leather. He busied himself with ridding himself of the clinging fabric, trying not to look at her as she drank in the sight of him. He was mostly human, but the hairlessness combined with the scaly skin covering his entire body was off-putting enough that he wouldn't blame her if she was horrified.
He was so busy carefully not-watching her that he nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt her trace one finger up his length. "You're so warm," she murmured, her eyes wide and fearless. He sucked in a breath through his teeth, feeling like his bones were vibrating. Emboldened, Belle wrapped her hand loosely around him, stroking from root to tip, and he was afraid to move. He'd attack her if he did. Or come off in her hand. He wasn't sure which would be worse.
"Will you?" she asked softly, her gaze locked with his, "I don't want to wait anymore."
Swallowing hard, he nodded once, pushing her back onto the bed without taking his eyes off hers. He felt like she'd bespelled him, but no spell had ever felt half so inviting. He took himself in hand as she parted her legs for him, guiding himself into her as slowly as he could.
Belle trembled beneath him, her nails digging into his shoulders as he pushed himself deep. She was a married woman, no longer a maiden, but she looked at him with such wonder he could scarcely believe it. The exquisite heat of her body alone was enough to drive him mad, then she clenched around him, and the sweet pressure surprised a grunt out of him as he buried his face in her neck, breathing hard as he struggled to control himself.
Her legs wrapped around his waist just like he'd fantasized earlier, holding him in place as she stroked the side of his face. "Rumpelstiltskin..." she breathed, but she didn't seem to want anything more than a kiss when he looked up at her. His tongue stroked over hers as he withdrew slightly, then pushed back in, relishing her moan of pleasure. He repeated the movement, and it was agony to withdraw from her, but his reward was the way she lifted her hips to meet his thrusts and the pressure of her heels at the small of his back, wordlessly demanding he return to her.
There had to be a spell, he thought hazily. There had to be a spell that would stretch this moment into an eternity, that would permit him to remain in her arms until the end of time. If there was, he didn't know it, and he was too overwhelmed by the feel of her against him to create anything new. Belle was wrapped around him, her hands exploring his back in long strokes as he rocked against her, trying to touch her everywhere at once. She held him like she loved him, and he couldn't get close enough.
The price he'd set was too high, he realized as he thrust a little harder, his control slipping. This was a magic he'd never known before, and the thought of living without it once it was over was enough to destroy him. He crushed her mouth beneath his as he wrapped an arm around her hips to encourage her to take him deeper, struggling to get closer. He was aroused nearly to the point of insanity, but that wasn't what mattered most now. What mattered was pleasing Belle, giving her so much pleasure that she'd flush at this memory, perhaps even call him to her again after the deal was complete.
His climax was approaching too fast and too hard to be denied, and with an agonized groan he pulled out of her, gratified by the way she moaned and clung to him. Evading her grasping hands, he buried his face between her thighs again, lapping at her in a frenzy, needing to bring her to where he was. Belle's cry filled the room, but he could scarcely hear it over the roaring in his ears. He could taste himself on her. Her sweetness mingled with his darkness forming a perfect whole, and he wished there was a way to meld their bodies together as completely so she could never be taken from him.
"Stop," Belle moaned, but he couldn't tear himself away, his universe contracting to this one perfect moment with her flavor on his tongue and her sweet cries in his ears. Grabbing a handful of his hair, Belle yanked him off of her, but he didn't have time to mourn the loss before she was straddling him, rising up on her knees to take him inside her before sinking down and taking him as deep as he could go. Her shuddering cry was muffled against his mouth as she sucked eagerly on his tongue, searching out traces of herself.
He thrust up to meet her every downward movement, gripping her hips to pull her down harder, grinding their bodies together. Her nails dug into his shoulders as she broke the kiss, her eyes locking with his. He watched in wonder as her beautiful face contorted with the pleasure he was giving her, then she cried out- a broken, garbled sound that seemed to have started out as his name- and her body convulsed in his arms, dragging his own climax out of him with an intensity that bordered on pain.
His own noise was inhuman as he let himself go, seizing her mouth in a clumsy, frantic kiss. He poured himself into her, clutching her against him with arms that shook. Belle trembled and moaned, burying her face against his neck, and he couldn't stop thrusting even though it was starting to hurt. He clung to the moment, unwilling to let it end.
Finally he had no choice, collapsing back onto the bed and pulling her down on top of him, face buried in her hair. As soon as he could think again, he sent a thread of awareness into her womb, drawing on his power to will conception. 'A girl,' he commanded, 'Brunette, brave, bookish.' His lips curved into a smile against her curls as he gave into temptation and added one last caveat, "She'll have my nose.' He wouldn't curse the child with anything more of his, but he wanted Belle to see something of him in their child. He wanted her to remember. The world could be ground to dust, and he would never forget a moment of this day. It was only fair she be reminded as well.
"It is done," he whispered, and Belle's hand flew to her stomach, her eyes lighting with pure joy as she lifted her head to beam at him.
"A child," she said reverently, and it was all he could do not to take her mouth again, to cover her hand with his to feel where their child was already growing. Her child, he reminded himself, forcing a return to practicality. It had been perfection, but it was over now, and he struggled to gather the shattered pieces of himself. Gently he rolled her off him, biting back a whimper at the loss of contact.
"You'll want to take your husband into your bed if it's been more than a few weeks," his throat burned as he cautioned her, gritting his teeth at the thought of another man putting his hands on her, "To avoid questions." Regretfully, he brushed his fingers against the love-bite on her neck, healing it. It turned his stomach to do so; he wanted the oaf to know that someone had seen his wife's value and shared it with her, but the risk of a jealous outburst was too much to risk. Belle's safety was worth more than his pride.
Belle shrugged, "He won't care. He'd told me to take a lover."
Her husband told her to take a lover, and instead she took him. Rumpelstiltskin shook his head in disbelief, wondering if the oaf would care if he spirited her away to the Dark Castle with him. Even so, he was cautious, "Men say a great many things, dearie. Telling you to do something and having you do it are very different. Be wary."
She smiled at him, her hand cradling the side of his face as she leaned up for another kiss, her lips so tender that he could feel his long-dead heart shudder in his chest. It would beat for her if she wished it. It would be so easy to take her with him. He could magic them from her bed straight into his before she even realized they'd moved. That wasn't their deal though, and if he imprisoned her against her will, he would be no better than the oaf.
'I could show you the world,' he wanted to offer and didn't. Avonlea was a small enough duchy, and the world was dangerous. Someday they might call on him for help. If they did, he knew exactly what his price would be. "Thank you," Belle breathed against his lips, her eyes warm and wet, "For everything."
"No matter," he rasped, forcing himself to pull away. The bargain had been fulfilled, and if he didn't leave now, he never would. With a wave of his hand he was dressed again, and he told himself he was imagining the disappointment in her eyes. Giving into temptation, he leaned down to steal one last kiss. 'Come with me.' "Fare you well, love."
"Fare you well, Rumpelstiltskin," she echoed, and his name had never sounded sweeter.
When he opened his eyes, he was back in his workroom, cold despite the comfortable temperature. Collapsing into the nearest chair, he wrapped his arms around himself, feeling raw. Belle would love the stack of magical books housed here. She'd probably already have her nose stuck in one, trying to learn the secrets of the universe and cheerfully ignoring him as he tried to distract her by kissing the back of her neck...
He bit back a moan, grinding his palms against his eyes. A deal was made and kept, and now it was over. It was just a deal.
He repeated those words like an incantation every day, but every night found him in front of the looking glass, a simple spell providing him with a much more pleasant view than his own reflection. The full length mirror in Belle's bedchamber was perfectly angled to let him see the entire room, and he watched hungrily each evening as she curled up before the fire with a book, her hand pressed to her flat stomach. Never did she invite the oaf to join her, nor any other man, a fact for which he was fiercely grateful. Sometimes she would set the book aside and gaze into space, a dreamy smile playing about her lips, and he allowed himself to pretend it was him she was thinking about. At those moments it was well-nigh impossible to keep from willing himself to her side, and he had to leave the mirror in favor of his spinning wheel to keep from doing just that. If she wanted him, she would call for him.
As the months passed, the ache only grew worse. Her face was fuller now, her lips curved with the secret smile of a woman who had everything that she wanted, and her body was just beginning to bloom with their child. He wanted to be there so badly it hurt to breathe. He should have been there to rest his hand on her stomach and feel the place where their child slept, to kiss her sweet mouth and revel in this very homespun type of magic.
But he was not there, and she did not call for him.
Instead he watched through glass as her body changed, the curve of their child becoming more visible by day, and the sight filled him with pride and sick agony. Pride because the swell of her belly announced his claim to the world; agony because the two of them were the only ones who knew it. It hurt more not to watch, so he stayed where he was, soaking up every smile, every sigh as she read and daydreamed and did not call for him.
He watched as one night the oaf slammed into her bedroom, pointing a finger at her. "You've taken a lover."
Belle carefully placed a bookmark in her book and set it on the table before rising, every inch a princess. "You told me to. You've taken dozens."
"You're my wife!" the oaf blustered.
"And because you don't touch me, it surprises you that someone else would?" she countered, her face icy.
"Give me his name." Rumpelstiltskin held his breath, willing her to do just that. 'Tell him, Belle. Tell him how I loved you.'
Her chin lifted. "Why?"
"Because I'll kill him! You're my wife." The oaf took one step toward her, hand raised, and before he realized what he was planning, Rumpelstiltskin was between the two of them, magic crackling in his hands. 'Take one more step. Just one more.' Being a snail was too good for him. Perhaps he'd turn him into a slug instead. Surely there was some salt around here. Or a rose for Belle to wear in her hair.
He could hear a stifled gasp behind him, but his attention was focused on the oaf, willing him to take another step toward Belle so he could have the satisfaction of ending him. Instead, the oaf froze, his face turning puzzled. "You made a deal with Rumpelstiltskin?"
"Yes." He could hear the forced patience in her voice.
"Oh," the oaf replied intelligently. After a moment, he shrugged and stepped back, "That's all right then." He left the room without another word, his shoulders relaxed like he didn't realize he'd just turned his back on the most powerful being in the realm who was already dying to turn him into something horrendous. It was somewhat anticlimactic.
"He wouldn't have hurt me," Belle told him, and he turned to face her, reluctantly letting go of the idea of enchanting the oaf.
"Better not to take the chance." His voice failed him, not reaching the shrill, mocking tone he was aiming for. He fluttered his hands in front of himself aimlessly, not quite sure what to do with them.
The firelight lit her with a golden glow, turning her into an exquisite statue he could look at for days. She put her hand on her belly, and he had to force himself to remain still and not touch. "Why did you come?"
He tried for a manic giggle and wound up just sounding sick. "Protecting my investment, dearie," he told her, taking refuge in audacity and offense. If he didn't, he'd be on his knees before her, burying his face in her skirts as he pleaded with her to come with him.
Belle stared back at him, her face impassive, "Truly?"
The words 'yes' and 'no' and 'wouldn't you like to know?' all vied to be spoken, killing each other on his tongue and nothing came out. Belle sighed, turning away, and his hand shot out without his permission, reaching for her. He aborted the movement as quickly as he started it, and she sank back into her chair, trapping him with her gaze.
"You didn't come for me," she said, and he was willing to swear he could see hurt in her eyes.
"You didn't call for me," he answered hoarsely, unable to hide the hurt in his own.
She bit her lip, her eyelashes lowering, hiding her eyes from him. For long moments she didn't speak, and he nearly willed himself away again, because this was all wrong. They should have been falling into each other's arms and kissing as though their lives depended on it. This silence was more than he could bear, yet he didn't move, because for the first time in months he was not watching her through glass, and he wanted to make this new memory last.
"Rumpelstiltskin," she murmured at last, her eyes finally lifting to meet his, "Come to me."
He was beside her chair in less than a heartbeat, his hand trembling as he rested it on the curve of her belly, finally feeling the reality of their child for himself. Her hands cradled his face, pulling him closer until their foreheads rested against each other, their breath mingling. "I..." he began haltingly, summoning up what little courage he had, "I have a rather large estate. In need of a mistress."
Belle's eyes widened, something like hope lighting her face. "Oh?"
He swallowed down his fear and offered, "There's a nursery."
When she smiled, it was like feeling the sun on his face for the first time in a thousand years. Her hand covered his where it rested on her stomach, and she whispered, "Take me home." He brushed his lips against hers and did as she commanded, leaving nothing in the room but the crackling fire and the books.
Directly thereafter, the books disappeared too