|One Kiss at a Time
Author: NarrowBridge PM
If only they could have kissed one last time before he dropped the phial down the well. Belle wanted nothing more than to feel his lips against her own, apologizing, professing, loving. WARNING: spoilers for finale.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Angst - Belle & Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold - Words: 2,412 - Reviews: 38 - Favs: 69 - Follows: 24 - Published: 05-14-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8115526
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
WARNING AGAIN: SPOILERS FOR FINALE AHEAD!
A/N: This takes place just after the end of the season finale.
Disclaimer: Once Upon a Time, in my hands? Muahaha, that would be positively delicious!
It's not, though. So don't sue.
~One Kiss at a Time~
"What have you done?" Belle whispered, but she did not hear his response. Her blood pounded in her ears and she felt faint as she nodded dumbly, placing her hand in the crook of Rumplestiltskin's offered arm. He smiled at her, and her heart might have fluttered if barbed wires of trepidation had not been constricting it.
Belle was silent for most of the walk back to Rumplestiltskin's...home. Lair, Belle's mind offered as she watched the man beside her chuckle impishly while he made branches bend and stones shift without touching them. Her insides twisted with dread.
She had thought, hoped with every fiber of her damaged being, that he had changed. When he had reciprocated her love and held her to him, she had felt blissfully weightless, as though his embrace was the only tie keeping her from soaring above the highest clouds.
And then he had pulled away from her, his lips, the lips she so longed to feel against her own, spewing talk of magic. Ice water replaced the blood in her veins at the covetous note in his brogue. She had been so relieved to have her real memories again, so happy to be within an arm's reach of her true love, she had lifted neither voice nor finger to stop Rumplestiltskin from tossing this world into the fickle hands of magic.
Now, it was too late.
She loved him. Damn it, she loved him, had told him so not an hour ago. Yet it seemed he was careening toward making the very same mistake he made all those years ago in the Dark Castle's dungeons. She felt a wave of hot anger and chilling sorrow surge in her chest as he brushed aside more obstacles in their path with another snap of his fingers.
When they finally crossed the threshold of his house, it was only with the faintest twitch of her lips that Belle took in her surroundings. She recognized several items of the collection she dusted daily when she was his caretaker. The intense shadow of dread that seemed to drape over her small form prevented further warm feelings from surfacing, however. As they ventured farther into Rumplestiltskin's cluttered abode, Belle caught her reflection in the glass panes of an antique chiffonier; her ashen complexion and fatigue-bruised eyelids unsettled her almost as much as the entirely heartbroken expression she wore.
He was speaking to her. She nodded without hearing, tangled curls bouncing with far less enthusiasm than they had before her imprisonment. The coarse curve of one brushed against her cheek.
"...though you probably recognize the mess-"
"Do you mind if I wash?" She felt a twinge of guilt for interrupting him, but too many juxtaposing thoughts and emotions were throwing themselves against the sides of her skull with almost nauseating intensity, and her hospital gown felt grimy, and the too-sweet perfume on the jacket she wore made her nose sting, and his simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar voice was speaking endlessly, and she just needed a moment.
He seemed momentarily surprised at her interjection, but then he nodded.
"No, o-of course, whatever you like." Once upon a time she might have smiled at the way he stumbled over the words. She stared at him a moment longer, waiting for the directions which would lead her to the nearest washroom.
Here merely stared back at her, though, with the same look of relief and joy and disbelief he wore when she called him by his given name a thousand years ago while they were walking toward the Wishing Well. Holding back what might have been either a sob or a frustrated sigh, Belle walked over to the nearest doorway and pulled it open.
A closet. Of course.
He released a low chuckle at her mistake, and she wanted to whack him across the head with his own cane, which seemed more decorative than functional now. If she had not already caught sight of the house's fine, polished wood floors, she probably would have. He sobered up at her glare, murmuring quick directions to the bathroom upstairs and something about tea.
The nigh scalding water felt immaculate against her sallow skin. She silently thanked the gods she had maintained at least some knowledge of this world's complex technology. She couldn't bear the thought of asking the Dark One if he would be so kind as to draw a bath for her.
The Dark One... A deep sigh passed her pale lips. Washcloth in hand, she scrubbed viciously at her skin, wishing she could wash away the years of pain and solitude she had endured in Regina's dungeon-both in this world and the previous one-and those she would undoubtedly encounter in her future now that Rumplestiltskin had regained his powers. If only they could have kissed one last time before he had dropped the phial down the well and the plume of violet smoke had consumed them.
With another sigh Belle hauled herself out of the tub, feeling a moment of lightheadedness as the cool air ambushed her body. She dried herself hastily, pausing only when she realized she owned nothing clean to wear. She glanced about her, her eyes eventually falling on the navy blue bathrobe hanging on the back of the door. Well, it was cleaner than her hospital gown, and certainly more appropriate than a damp towel. Rumplestiltskin was not a very tall man, so when she wrapped herself in the garment it only fell several inches past her toes. Belle tightened the robe's tie, ensuring she was completely covered, and ran her fingers though her wet curls a few times. Opening the door to the hallway, she turned back to cast a quick glance at the mirror, only to realize there wasn't one.
She could not say she was entirely surprised.
She padded down the stairs, following the sounds of clinking china and a whistling tea pot. When she rounded the corner she was surprised to find herself not in a kitchen, but a drawing room. Rumplestiltskin was heating the tea with magic. She should not have been surprised: she had seen him do so once before, back at the Dark Castle when they had both found trouble falling to sleep during a violent storm and spent much of the night sitting near the hearth in the spinning room. She also should not have felt such a sense of disappointment at the sight; after all, using magic to heat a pot of tea was by no means indicative of a loss of control. Nevertheless, she released a small sound at the sight, somewhere between a gasp and a whimper.
Rumplestiltskin looked up at the sound, and Belle nearly giggled at the mingled look of shock and desire that flashed briefly across his features at the sight of her body in his bathrobe. She averted her gaze from his, sitting down on a maroon fainting couch. He cleared his throat softly and moved to pour the tea into her cup. Belle felt another absurd urge to giggle as she remembered how that had been her duty, how strange it was to see the roles somewhat reversed. But then she caught sight of one of the cups sitting on the tray and her heart lurched.
It was the cup she chipped on her first day as Rumplestiltskin's caretaker, all those years ago.
Her breath hitched and she looked up, finding Rumplestiltskin staring at her intently. They sat like that for what might have been centuries, allowing their eyes to fill the silence with all the apologies and prayers and pleas and promises they had wanted to say for decades. Belle wanted nothing more than to feel his lips against her own, apologizing, professing, loving.
She felt her face twist in agony before she felt the agony itself. Gasping, she leapt to her feet, curling her arms tight about her chest. Rumplestiltskin rose to his feet, cautiously, as though afraid a swift movement would frighten her away like a little sparrow. And perhaps it would.
"You're angry with me." The brokenness of his tone and the lines of his pained expression nearly calmed the waves of frustration and dejection roaring beneath her ribs. Nearly. She swallowed back whatever sympathetic words might have bubbled forth.
"Are you really surprised, Rumplestiltskin? I am finally reunited with my true love, and I can't even kiss him!"
She turned away from him, trying to blink away the tears stinging in the corners of her eyes. At least twenty-eight years she had been parted from him, and that was not including the time she had spent locked away in the Queen's castle. She had not been able to track the days there; her cell had been windowless and her mealtimes inconsistent. She guessed that it was at least several years.
Could he not understand her pain? Had he not missed her, longed for her just as much as she had him?
A low chuckle met her ears and it required all of her energy not to shriek in frustration. Of course, he found the idea ridiculous, laughable. She could not tell which hurt worse: having him laugh at her want for kisses, or manhandle and yell at her. Shaking her head, hating the way the movement sent two teardrops rolling down her cheeks, she started for the door. She did not know where she would go, could go, but staying in the same room with a man who could simultaneously make her feel more love and pain than she felt in her entire life was unthinkable.
A set of long fingers wrapped around her hand. Despite her desperate urge to flee, Belle's steps hesitated.
"I never said we could not kiss, Belle." He tugged her hand softly so she would turn to face him. As if to prove his point, he raised her hand to his lips and pressed a chaste kiss to her knuckles. He then snapped his fingers, and the small table on which the tea set rested slid to the side so there was nothing between them. Belle wanted to laugh and weep at his idiocy.
"That's not what I m-"
He turned their joined hands and pushed her sleeve back, pressing a kiss to the inside of her wrist. And then another to the crook of her elbow. With another snap of his fingers the lamp clinked off. He took advantage of her momentary surprise to step closer.
"Rum-" Her breath caught as his lips caressed her neck. He snapped his fingers; a fire ignited in the hearth.
He placed a hand under her chin. Belle felt her heart painfully quicken its pace. His eyes looked so warm in the glow of the fireplace, like melted toffee. Belle felt her eyelids sliding closed.
His lips grazed hers for the briefest of moments, more softly than the first time they had kissed before his spinning wheel. Belle felt a surge of panic when he pulled away, and her eyes raked his features for any sign of rage.
He lifted a hand, smiling softly. With another snap the windows' curtains closed, shutting out the rest of the world. He pressed his lips to hers again and it was bliss, beautiful, floating bliss. Again and again his lips found hers, each kiss longer and more insistent than the last. A breathy moan floated out of Belle's throat when his tongue slid across her bottom lip.
Relying on every ounce of self-control she possessed, Belle pulled away, breathing hard. Confusion and concern flashed across Rumplestiltskin's slightly flushed face.
"Rumplestiltskin," Belle started, surprised at how low and breathy her voice sounded. The desire pooling in his eyes told her he, too, had noticed.
"Promise me-promise me you won't let your power control you, you won't become a slave to it," Belle pleaded, trying to distract herself from the hands clutching her hips long enough to register his response.
He crushed his lips to hers again, taking advantage of her small gasp to slip his tongue inside. Had it been anyone else, Belle would have interpreted the motion as affirmative. But this was Rumplestiltskin; actions and intent meant very little to him. His word was his bond: no word, no deal.
She should have stopped him, pulled his long fingers from her curls, stayed the hand that toyed with the tie of her robe, made him promise. But, gods, she loved him, and they have both waited and wanted for so long...
She felt her slightly trembling legs lower her body to the fainting couch, her hands coaxing Rumplestiltskin down with her. She let the feel of his weight above her and his lips against her jaw and neck chase away her fears of what the future held for them. They would play whatever hand they were dealt whenever it was dealt.
In the meantime, they had three decades of complete separation to make up for, one kiss at a time.
A/N: So, I don't know about you, but I was a teensy bit disappointed with their reunion. I mean, no kiss? Talk about torture! Overall it was very sweet, though. And I'm not entirely unhappy with it. :) - Since posting this, I've watched the finale again. I feel a lot better about their reunion. Their love isn't the cheesy, fairytale sort (that's Snow and Charming, and I think they're adorable for it). It's complicated, believable. Plus, it's been 30 years, and they didn't exactly depart on the friendliest of terms. I don't think it would have been entirely fitting/believable if they just mauled each other's mouth right away. That doesn't necessarily mean I wouldn't have enjoyed seeing that, though. ;)
I am very tempted to transform this into a full-fledged fic. Part of my decision depends on the response this receives, and part on whether or not I can find the time between work and classes to actually write it!