|One Small Spark
Author: Bad Faery PM
She'll think the baby is his, and he'll never tell her otherwise. What if Regina wasn't lying about the clerics?Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Angst - Belle & Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold - Words: 5,700 - Reviews: 28 - Favs: 66 - Follows: 25 - Published: 08-10-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8414811
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Warnings: Torture and rape (not between Rumpelstiltskin and Belle); reproductive dub-con (I have no idea how to warn for this. Let's just say that Rum makes a dubious decision with the best of intentions.)
He stands at the tower window, blind to the dusky landscape, choosing to supply a favorite image from memory as a replacement for the empty reality. Belle is walking up the long drive, her cloak fluttering around her, a basket full of straw dangling from her arm, but it wouldn't matter if she was bringing home a basket of wool or sludge or kittens, because Belle is coming home to him.
Except that she isn't. Rumpelstiltskin blinks, and the memory vanishes. Belle has not come home for the past two months, and she will not be coming home today. Belle, for once in her life, has done what she was told and left him, just like he bid her.
'You're going to regret it,' her voice mocks him, and he nods absently, agreeing with someone who can't see his action. He's regretted it every second of every day as he lives with the ghost of her presence, expecting at every moment to turn a corner and see her smile or hear her singing as she works.
Belle is gone, and he is more alone than he has ever been.
Automatically, he reaches out with his senses then draws back just as quickly. Belle would not appreciate him spying on her. No doubt she would shout at him for cowardice again, for wanting the comfort of her spirit without having to go to the trouble of actually making things right between them.
But then, he is a coward, and it has been a very long two months.
This time he doesn't stop himself, reaching out greedily for her essence. After a year of living with her, her mental signature is as familiar to him as his own, and there is no place in this world she will ever be able to hide from him. Perhaps it's for the best that she doesn't know that.
"Belle," he breathes, sensing the golden flicker of her even farther away than he'd imagined. He plunges after it heedlessly, keeping enough of a rein on himself that she shouldn't be aware of his intrusion.
Pain explodes through his body, doubling him over, and for one confused moment he thinks she's somehow learned to shield against him, set wards to keep him out, before he realizes what he is feeling. It's her pain, he's sensing. Belle is in pain. Belle is being tortured.
He's gabbling the words of the incantation before he's even managed to stand up, keeping his consciousness focused on her, scenting her out as surely as any bloodhound. "I'm coming, Belle," he projects into her head, getting only a static-y nothingness in reply.
It seems to take lifetimes until he appears in her tower, although the trip lasts less than a few eye blinks. He supposes his entry is dramatic enough, although he's not really thinking about it. Two men leap back from the bed at the center of the chamber, revealing her nude form to him. Her back is a welter of bloody stripes, and vaguely he notes the scourges they're holding. It is enough to condemn them.
With a quick gesture, the skin is wrenched from their bodies, and he doesn't spare the dying men a glance as he stalks to the bed, half-afraid to touch for fear of causing more pain. Her face is turned to the side, flushed beneath her tangled hair, her eyes glazed. He hovers a hand over her forehead, feeling the heat of fever radiating off her. She's out of her head with it, and that might well be a blessing if she's been unaware of what was happening around her.
He checks for other injuries, seeing half-healed wounds on her back, crisscrossed with new stripes of pain. Her hands are blackened in places, and he realizes they've made her hold flame. Then he sees the blood pooling between her thighs.
He roars his rage, looking for someone else to kill. Belle's torturers are already dead, useless sacks of meat on the stone floor. He's been hasty, and now they will never pay as they should for what they've done to her, what they've taken from her.
On the bed, Belle moans and shifts a little, and his eyes sting as he makes out the word in her sound of pain, "Rumpel..."
He shoves the anger aside, wondering bleakly if she's in the throes of a dream or a nightmare. Later there will be time to rage and revenge, but now he has something far more important to do. "I'm here, Belle," he tells her, trying to keep his voice calm, "I found you. You're safe now."
Kneeling beside her, he gathers his magic, checking and double-checking that the darkness will find no way to twist what he is about to do. Satisfied, he places his hand on her shoulder and pours the power into her, telling burns to heal and flesh to knit. He takes the pain of it on himself, shielding her from it even as it allows him to track her healing. His teeth clench and hands shake as he feels the extent of her injuries, wondering how she's managed to withstand it. The pain is no more than he deserves. Had he not cast her out, had he looked for her sooner... This is his fault.
He pours magic into her until the healing is complete, and her skin is once again unmarred by men's evil and his own stupidity. Belle stirs for a moment, then slides into a natural sleep, her body overwhelmed by the stresses of the last hour. Rumpelstiltskin sits back, trembling in delayed reaction. So close, it was such a close thing...
She's safe and whole now, he reminds himself. He'll take her back to the Dark Castle as soon as he's had a chance to catch his breath and set to work healing her spirit. Then perhaps- perhaps- he'll find a way to persuade her to forgive him.
He sweeps his eyes over her again, looking with his eyes and his power for reassurance that Belle is truly mended. What he finds makes him freeze.
The golden flame of her spirit is undiminished, only muted by sleep. Deep inside of her, however, is another tiny spark. Only days old, he realizes when he peers closer. Far too new for her to be aware of.
The desire to snuff it out nearly overwhelms him. Her torturers don't deserve to live on through this. Belle should not have to nurture this reminder, this parasite. Yet the tiny spark is the same shade of gold as her own spirit. It is part of her, something she made that is far more valuable than a chipped teacup.
In the end he can't do it. Instead he gathers up Belle in his arms- gathers up both of them- and whispers the incantation that will take them home.
He deposits Belle gently on her bed in her real bedroom- not the dungeon, not ever again- and sits down beside her. Hoping that what he saw in the tower was a mistake or hallucination, he checks again, sighing when he once more finds the small but unmistakable spark of life growing inside her. For the first time in five centuries, he has no idea what to do. He'd meant to rescue her from torture, not prolong it. Yet, he can't destroy that which is part of her.
Thoughts chasing each other, he lies down at her side, trying in vain to see her future. She's too tightly bound to him for him to succeed. His own future has ever been a blank, now Belle's is hidden from him as well. He has more power and gold than he can ever use; why is he always a failure when it matters?
He doesn't think he sleeps, yet he wakes to the feeling of fingers brushing against his jaw. There's only one person who could be touching him, but he's still surprised when he turns his head on the pillow, golden eyes meeting blue ones. "It's you," Belle breathes, her fingers going from his jaw to his hair and back like she's testing his reality, "I'm dreaming."
"You're not," he denies, mirroring her movement by cradling her cheek, his gray skin looking even more ghastly in comparison to her soft paleness.
"I'm in the tower. They'll be back soon." Despite her words, Belle doesn't look afraid, only resigned.
"They will never touch you again," he vows, trying not to growl and snarl, "I made sure of that."
"My hero," Belle smiles, clearly not believing a word, "Thank you, kind sir."
She leans over to kiss him, and he yields at once, opening his mouth for her surprisingly bold invasion. If Belle wants him, she shall have him. Belle shall have everything she wants for the rest of her life if he has anything to say about it. He no longer cares if she loves him or if she just thinks she does. He will take anything she offers and be grateful for her generosity.
Perhaps not everything she wants, he is forced to admit with shame when he feels his body start to tingle, the Dark One's curse slipping loose. Not yet, not when her father is still walking free, not when Regina's power still threatens the Enchanted Forest. Without his magic, he will not be able to protect her.
He finds a pocket of rage at those who would hurt Belle and grabs onto it, using it as ballast. It is a delicate balance between anger and love, but somehow he is able to sustain it, even when Belle presses herself closer, reminding him abruptly that he'd never conjured any clothing for her.
She nips at his bottom lip, and he can feel her smile when he gasps into her mouth, clutching her closer. His body is making his interest very clear, but she doesn't shy away, and more than anything else, that decides him. He grabs her shoulders and wrenches her away, staring into her dazed eyes. "Belle. You're awake. This is real."
She shakes her head at him fondly, as if he is being very stupid. "No, it's not."
He has no idea how to prove his reality. The thought of pinching her comes to mind and is immediately dismissed. She will never again know a moment of pain at his hands. "It's real, Belle," he tries again, "I found you. I healed you. I brought you home."
"You do that every night," she whispers, and it nearly breaks him.
He finally grasps an idea, praying it will be enough to reach her. "My son's name was Baelfire. I became this to protect him, and he left me because of it. He's been gone for over five centuries. I don't know how old I am, and I've never known when my name day is, because peasants don't have time for such things. I was a peasant- a weaver, a coward, and a cripple."
The torrent of words comes to a halt when Belle blinks, looking around the room and at him like she's never seen either before. "Rumpelstiltskin?"
"That's always been my name," he acknowledges, "Once it was something to laugh at, not to fear."
She opens her mouth then closes it again as she starts to shake. He reaches for her, his hand hovering in midair when he realizes he doesn't know if she'll welcome his comfort.
"It's not a dream," she gasps out, and she sounds like she's trying to laugh, but he can hear the tears in her voice, "You came for me."
He touches her hair with careful fingers, waiting to see if she flinches away. "Always."
He doesn't know if it's relief or shock or gratitude, but Belle is suddenly in his arms again, her mouth pressed against his with an urgency he has never been the recipient of before. The reality of the situation hits him hard; after a year of frustrated fantasies, Belle is in his arms, kissing him, wanting him, and he can't have her, not when she's so fresh from her ordeal. Not when she doesn't even seem to know the full extent of her torment. She wouldn't be kissing him so passionately if she did.
The fever, he realizes even as he tries and fails to keep from parting her lips with his tongue and delving deep into the sweet cavern of her mouth; in her fever dream, Belle wouldn't have realized what they were doing to her. She didn't know.
A solution presents itself, elegant in its simplicity. Belle never needs to know. She'll believe it to be his child, and he will never let on that he knows otherwise. He of all people knows that it is the act of parenting, not the biology, that makes a father, and if the child is hers, he will be able to love it. It is a price he will pay willingly in order to spare her more pain.
A man- a real man- would give her a choice, but he is not a man. He is a monster and a coward, and he is too afraid of what the knowledge might do to her to risk waiting. Instead he will press his advantage and take her now while she is pliant and vulnerable and pick up the pieces afterward. They have forever now. Somehow he will make this right.
The guilt makes an even better focus than the anger, and he hones it, shaping it into a small, cold ball he can keep in the back of his mind as he gathers her into his arms. Belle's mouth finds his again and again, and it is almost too much. She is warm and alive and in his arms, and the curse stretches until it is at the point of shattering. He clings to the ball of guilt with his claws, feeling his soul threatening to rip in two at the pressure. With a groan, he tears his mouth off of hers and moves his attention to her throat, finding the spots that make her gasp and whimper. She clutches at his shoulders, trying to pull him down on top of her, but he resists, afraid of triggering a hidden memory of her abuse if he obeys.
Instead he rolls onto his back and takes her with him, Belle sprawled trustingly over his chest, and if she knew what he was doing, she'd never look at him like that again. "I should never have let you go," he whispers and she sobs, but the look on her face is joyous.
"You came for me. That's all that matters," she tells him, her forgiveness instant and complete, and he doesn't deserve an inch of her.
"I'll never let you go again," he vows, and he has to have her mouth again, no matter how much it hurts to keep the curse in place with Belle's sweet lips against his own. He will never let her go, and he wonders if she realized what he meant when he said forever. With his magic he can keep her from aging. She will be his for eternity- her and her child who will be his child as well and his son once he finds him. They will be an eternal family, and no one and nothing will ever tear them apart.
He's gentle and cautious as he touches her. At best, Belle is an innocent, unused to a man's desires. At worst, one clumsy movement will remind her what she's been through and his plans will be for nought. Her hands are not nearly as uncertain. She has his waistcoat and shirt unbuttoned in a matter of moments, her fingers roaming his scaly chest, and there is no horror in her face at the sight of him, only pleasure.
Belle is a well-read little thing, he remembers with the one small part of his brain still able to think about anything but how her hands feel against his skin. No doubt she knows what to expect, and the fear of disappointing her is almost as intense as the fear of hurting her. This is not an area in which Rumpelstiltskin has ever excelled as his wife had occasionally pointed out during their infrequent, futile fumblings.
He rolls her onto her back, careful not to let himself rest on her nor restrain her in any way. For an eternity he just touches her, hands and fingertips and lips and gentle, gentle, gentle, letting her soft noises guide him. Anything that makes her sigh gets remembered and repeated; anything that makes her wince or flinch is immediately abandoned.
She's flushed and panting, her eyes shining, and she's the most beautiful thing he's seen in five centuries of life. He will keep her safe. Nothing will ever harm her again. "Rumpelstiltskin..." The sound of his name on her lips is as powerful as a caress, "Make me yours."
"You already are," he tells her, but he can't deny her. Belle might be his, but even more than that, he is hers. A quick flicker of magic does away with his clothes as he lies beside her, coaxing her to drape her leg over his hip as he lines them up, and the terror is blinding. If she's going to remember, it will be now.
A quick brush of lips makes him gasp in agony. He's never loved her more, and it's never been harder to hold onto the curse. Mistaking it for a noise of pleasure, Belle arches against him, and he eases himself inside, watching her eyes intently for any sign of discomfort.
She beams when he's completely sheathed inside, her hands stroking his hair. "I thought it would hurt," she says in surprised pleasure, giving him credit he doesn't deserve. He manages a smile for her, not sure what to say to that, and starts to move as little as possible, just rocking against her. It is Belle who finally demands more, pushing him flat to straddle him, her small body moving over him to pleasure them both, and the mere sight of her astride him is enough to undo him. He seizes her mouth, grateful for the pain that wards off his climax.
When he pulls her down, she squeaks in surprise then groans as she moves against him, her breasts rubbing against his chest. Apparently there's something about this new position she likes, because her eyes are glazed with pleasure, and he has to keep kissing her because if it doesn't hurt, he's going to disappoint her.
She cries out against his lips, and he clutches her against him, convinced he's hurt her, but her face is alight with wonder when he tears his lips from hers. He rocks his hips to encourage her frantic movements, and it seems to last forever with his beautiful Belle moaning for him because he has given her pleasure. She brushes her lips against his, and this time even the pain of clinging to the curse isn't enough to hold him back as his body all but convulses.
It's perfect and beautiful, the best moment of his life, but then he feels the splash of tears against his chest and goes cold. "Belle?" he whispers frantically, sitting up to hold her against him. She's in his lap, their bodies still joined as he draws his knees up and wraps his arms around her, surrounding her protectively with himself.
"You saved me," she sobs, and he spares a moment to be grateful that she seems to be crying with delayed reaction, not awakened memories.
"Always," he vows, and that just makes her cry harder. He holds her, rocks her, strokes her hair, and nothing comforts her at all.
Finally she quiets, lifting her head from his chest to look at his face. She tries to smile and can't quite manage it as she puts her hand on his cheek, her lips pressed together to stifle another sob. "Thank you."
"Oh, Belle..." he murmurs, not knowing what else to say, but it doesn't matter. She curls into his arms again and lets him hold her through the night, and when dawn breaks, she pulls away with a smile that almost looks genuine. "I'll start breakfast."
"You don't-" he begins, cutting himself off. Perhaps she needs this. Perhaps returning to how it was before will help her. He wraps his arms around himself, feeling cold with the loss of her in his arms in a way that even snow doesn't affect him.
She clothes herself quickly in her violet dress. It's not one of her favorites, but her blue one is lost now, and he isn't sure if she'd appreciate having him recreate it. The gods alone knew what she'd suffered while wearing it, and he will do nothing to chance having those memories return.
He hopes for a kiss, but she leaves the room without even looking at him, and if she wants normal, she will have normal. With a wave of his hand he dresses himself and goes to the great hall to wait for her.
Belle adapts to being back at the Dark Castle faster than he imagined possible. She speaks little about her captivity, and he never brings it up himself. He'll listen if she ever expresses an interest in talking, but he's still enough of a coward to be reluctant to remind her of what she's suffered thanks to him. He has her company again, and he'll do nothing that might result in the loss of it. On the days she is quiet and sad, he stays close, but she never voices her thoughts. For his part, he is afraid to ask.
He uses his magic to ease her workload, until she's responsible for little more than dusting and their meals, and she seems to take that for what it is: an apology. She does not tell him that she loves him or invite him back into her bed, but she is comfortable around him, and he knows he doesn't have the right to ask for anything more.
Each day he monitors the spark of life inside of her, watching it grow brighter with the passage of time. The child is well, and Belle is flushed with health. The only thing he has to fear is her reaction, and as the months pass his dread of that grows by the hour. What if she's horrified, he asks himself. Promising to stay with him forever is one thing when she's saving her village, but tying herself to him with a child is a matter far more serious.
Then comes the day when Belle grows silent, locking herself away in the library at all hours and barely speaking to him. So many terrors play out in his head- she's remembering, she wishes to leave him and is looking for a way to break their contract- that the most ever-present of his fears never crosses his mind until she plucks the straw from his hand and sits down in front of him on the spinning wheel just as she did on the night he prefers to forget.
Her expression is nervous and happy and defiant all at the same time, and Belle is such a tiny thing that there shouldn't be enough room for all three, but somehow she's managing it. "I have something to tell you," she announces, "And you can't shout."
He presses a hand to his chest, indicating dramatically that she's wounded him, but really that isn't fair. He hasn't shouted in months, not since he got her back. "I'm all ears, love." It isn't until he notices the hand she rests on her flat stomach that he realizes what's coming. He might not be able to see his own future, but he can add two and two. Most of the time anyway.
"We're going to have a baby," she informs him with no preamble, "And before you ask, yes, I'm very sure, and if the word 'monster' comes out of your mouth, I swear I will never speak to you again."
In that moment he forgets that he's known about the child for the past three months, because she puts the words 'we' and 'baby' together and makes them into something miraculous. It is their child she is carrying. She believes that with her whole heart, and it makes him believe it too.
He suspects he's gaping at her rather like a landed fish, because Belle's wary expression is quickly turning into a smirk at turning the tables on him. She enjoys her moment of triumph, her face softening. "This is good," she says quietly, "I want you to be happy about this."
For a man with an inexhaustible supply of words, Rumpelstiltskin is having trouble finding any, because he's still focusing on the part where it's their baby. It's not just a spark of life; she has made it their baby. Before he can think, he's capturing her face in his hands and pulling her forward, his mouth finding hers in a kiss that promises everything he can't find words for right now. It says home and family and forever and his, and it's nearly impossible to find any darkness in this moment to use as ballast to keep the curse in place. He settles for his own feeling of unworthiness, the knowledge that Belle deserves so much more than the monster she's shackled herself to.
Belle laughs into his mouth, her fingers caressing his hair, and he picks her up without ever taking his lips from hers and carries her to the sun-drenched window seat where he can kneel before her and gaze up at her glowing face, a position that feels strangely right once he finally manages to stop kissing her. Belle smiles down on him like a benediction, and she has never looked more like a princess than at this moment in her peasant dress. He should get her something finer, he thinks distractedly, something silk or velvet and more suited to her beauty.
"I'm so glad I can give you this," she whispers, running her hand over the side of his face, and for once he's too distracted to feel self-conscious about his scaly grey skin, "I know you don't love me, but you need to love someone."
Not love her? The statement is so patently ridiculous that for a moment he can't even process it. Of course he loves her; he's loved her from the moment she fell into his arms like a gift from the gods he hasn't believed in for centuries and looked at him without fear. "I do love you," he insists, realizing that he sounds more annoyed than affectionate. He tries again, looking seriously into her eyes and making sure to keep any hint of his manic squeak out of his voice, "Belle, I love you."
She leans down to press her lips to his, and he returns the kiss eagerly, feeling proud of himself. Not only has he managed to say it, he said it right. So he's slightly confused when she pulls back a moment later and frowns at him. "No, you don't," she replies, and it just sounds sad, not angry, "True Love's Kiss will break any curse; it almost broke yours when you loved me, but now? We've kissed. We've made love, and you're still cursed."
He's expended so much energy on maintaining the curse, that it has never occurred to him how it must look to her. "That doesn't... I'm doing that on purpose."
The explanation doesn't make much sense, and Belle barely acknowledges it, going straight for the more central question, "So, you want to be cursed?" said with more disappointment than anger.
His own words come back to haunt him- My power means more to me than you. Clearly, Belle had taken that insult to heart even as she'd rightly insisted that he didn't mean a word of it.
Lying has brought nothing but pain and misery on both of them. Belle will not approve of his truth- no doubt she'll call him a coward again- but he has no other options left. "The queen knows how dear you are to me. Without my power... She'll take you away from me, dearie. I won't be able to protect you." He's almost afraid to look at her now that he's confessed his weakness, and when he sneaks a quick glance upwards his worst fears are confirmed: Belle looks horrified. Dismally, he wonders if he won't lose her anyway. Women do not like to be associated with cowards after all.
"The curse is what gives you your power?" she asks, her voice barely above a whisper.
Puzzled by her response, he nods. He thought he'd told her that before, but in the sheer amount of shouting he'd done after she tried to break his curse, things may have gotten lost. She would probably insist he not use magic near the baby for fear of contaminating it. That or she would insist on leaving for its protection if not her own.
"So, when I kissed you, I almost-" Belle's eyes flood with tears as she clutches his hand, "No wonder you thought it was a trap. Oh, I'm so sorry."
He'd screamed at her, shaken her, cast her out to be tortured, and she was apologizing to him. "It's... no matter," he manages uncomfortably.
"It does matter," Belle insists, tugging at his arm in a effort to get him off his knees and onto the window seat with her. He resists, quite liking his position at her feet. "I shouldn't have done that. I should have talked to you first."
If they are going to discuss should-have's, his list is quite a bit longer than hers. "I'll give it up for you," he vows, and this deal is binding whether she agrees to it or not. "But first there's two things I must do."
"The queen," Belle says, and he nods.
"Yes, the queen. And my son." He's owed her this story for months, and he tells it now, resting his head on her knee so he doesn't have to see her face when he tells her everything. His cowardice, his cruelty once he received the power, his abandonment of Bae, and the curse he created to get him back.
"It'll take us to a land without magic. All I have to do is figure out how to bring us back, and we'll be able to find Bae." There's more to it than that; he has to find someone to cast the damned thing because Belle's heart is inviolate no matter what he'd been planning when he claimed her as his prize. She doesn't need to know about that either.
She is quiet for long minutes, stroking his hair as she thinks through everything he has just dumped on her. "All right," she murmurs at last. "The curse... it won't hurt anyone, will it?"
"It won't be pleasant, but no, no one will be hurt. We'll be the only ones aware of it, and no one will remember anything once we come back." As the years passed, it was the only way he could justify doing this to himself. Bae wouldn't thank him for ruining the lives of entire kingdoms just to bring him home.
"Then I won't kiss you again until you tell me I can," Belle informs him, and the thought of not kissing her hurts even more than kissing her does. He can't hide his aggrieved expression, and she giggles. "Consider it incentive."
Incentive it is. After five hundred years of work, he'd lost his urgency if not his determination, but now it is back with a vengeance. Bae will not want to miss a moment of his younger sibling's life. He will destroy everything that threatens his family, and then he will be an ordinary man again with a perfect wife and two precious children, perhaps more someday if Belle is willing. They will be happy. He will make them happy.
Suddenly he knows exactly what power is necessary to complete the curse, and he reaches up to stroke Belle's hair, a wicked smile blooming on his face. She returns it at once. "You have an idea."
"Oh yes," he agrees, "Kiss for luck?"
She pecks his cheek before shoving him away. "Good luck. Get to work."
The all-powerful Dark One lands hard on his arse, smirking at his giggling true love. All will be well now. He can have everything: Bae and Belle and the new baby and happiness. They will be together, and they will be safe, and it will be perfect.
But first he has a curse to complete.