A/N: Hi guys! this is my very first Rumbelle fanfic and my first Once Upon a Time story as well. I recently came across the show on Netflix and fell in love 3 Especially with this couple. I really hope you enjoy the story!

Disclaimer: I do not own Once Upon a Time and the characters.

Tale as Old as Time

"You're a coward Rumpelstiltskin." If only she new what effect those words had on him in that moment. A coward was what he had feared he would become all his life. That is why he became the Dark One in the first place, so he would be feared instead of being the one with the fears. So he could have a mask, a mask someone was now seeing right through. "And no matter how think you make your skin," Belle continued, "that doesn't change."

"I'm not a coward dearie. It's quite simple really. My power means more to be than you." Once the words left his mouth, he knew they were a lie. However, he so desperately wanted to believe them himself that he did not pay much attention to if she believed them or not.

"No." Maybe she did not believe him and that is what he feared. Maybe he was a coward after all. He feared this woman standing before him would see him for who he really was, but at the same time he feared that she wouldn't. "No it doesn't. You just don't think I could love you." That was it, plain and simple. He knew he loved her. He had known for a while now. He just could never bring himself to even think of the actual word "love", let alone act upon it or utter the word. Why could she? How could she ever love him? "Now you've made your choice. And you're going to regret it. Forever. All you'll have is an empty heart and a chipped cup."

Those last words pained him more then anything else she could possibly say could. He knew they would still hurt more than if she told she didn't love him. Because even if that were the case, which it was, he would have no regrets. With these words, he knew she was right, he would regret telling her to go. He would regret letting her walk away. He would regret not running after her and yelling her name, begging her to stay. But worst of all, he would never regret having fallen in love with her. He wished he could, because then all of his regrets would not be regrets.

And as he watched her walk away, he believed he would never see her again. Like a coward, he let her go.

After a few minutes, which seemed like hours, Rumpelstiltskin wandered slowly out of the small dungeon. All of his anger had subsided and was overcome with sadness. He was now alone. He then drudgingly made his way out into the main hall of his castle. The lights were all dimmed, like normal, but now everything was more still then it usually was. Everything was lifeless. Just as he neared one of the uncovered windows, that he intended to cover back up with a curtain, he heard a loud bang from behind him.

Once he turned around, anger began to build back up inside, for who he saw was Belle, closing the door behind her. She still stood strong, like she had not long before, but her pained expression had now left her face. Her bright blue eyes were now gleaming with determination and kindness. He did not understand one bit, and it was the way she was so unpredictable that made the anger subside once more. He thought that if he just stood there and watched her without having to speak that he suddenly would understand.

"I've decided that I am not leaving. You cannot force me to do that. No one decides my fate but me." If she had said this moments before, when anger was still built up within him, he would have fought with her, and the same argument would have ensued, and the same words would probably have been said. But at this moment, he was feeling a little less cowardly. So he did not say a single word to her and left to his bedroom, secretly hoping she would leave once more and at the same time secretly hoping she wouldn't.

However, he knew that what he thought was the end was only the beginning. He was somehow aware that their tale was not finished. Time would tell. Everything was still left untold.

True as it can be

The next morning Rumpelstiltskin woke up from the light that gleamed from behind the curtains on his windows. His first thought once he woke was of Belle just as his last thought the night before had been of her as well. Since she was so unpredictable he honestly did not know whether she left again or not. So he decided that he would go find out.

Sure enough, when he came down the stairs to the main dining hall, where he and Belle would have every meal together, she was there. She was standing over the dining room table while she fiddled with two teacups and a teapot. She had her back turned to him and was humming softly. He had never heard her hum before, but he thought it was nice and soothing.

Belle must have heard his footsteps because as he slowly neared her she turned around and smiled her normal bright smile. "Good morning."

Rumpelstiltskin was frozen in his place, still not entirely believing that she had come back once again. He was not able to comprehend why she would ever decide to stay, especially after the things he had said to her. He did not know what to say so all he could muster was, "Morning." Then he turned back around and disappeared into the castle.

As days past by, so did weeks and everything stayed relatively the same as it had that morning. They said very few words to each other and tended to avoid passing each other in the castle halls at all costs. Well at least Rumpelstiltskin knew that he was avoiding her. He was not sure if she was avoiding him because whenever they would pass each other it would be in places of the castle where he only normally went. However, communication was only made when she would call him for meals or asked to tell him that she was going into town and to ask if he needed anything.

Every time she told him she would be leaving for town he was convinced that she would never come back. However, no matter how many times this happened, she would always return. Still confused and angry with himself, Rumpelstiltskin would leave for days on end for business and sometimes would stay gone longer than he needed to. But when he would return, Belle would always be there, with a smile, waiting for him.

One evening, he was sitting alone at the dining table while eating his dinner slowly. It took him awhile to admit to himself that he missed Belle's company, but he did, very much so. At that time, Belle came wandering in the room, humming, with a teacup in her hand. She barely looked up at him and decided to sit down at the table directly across from him. She just sat there and drank her tea, not saying a word.

So Rumpelstiltskin spoke for her. "Why did you come back?" he asked her, in the same way he had asked her weeks before.

Belle, now looking him straight in the eye, shrugged her shoulders and smiled kindly at him while saying, "Because I want to be true to my word. I promised."

Now he was confused, "Promised what? I told you to leave."

"I promised you I would go with you. Forever." She whispered the last word.

He then caught his breath, "Well, I've taken care of that deal for you. Don't worry, you're family and kingdom will all be safe. You have permission to go."

She shook her head. "I promised you. And I will be true to my word. I will be true to myself."

Now he was getting frustrated because to him, she was not making any sense. "What is ever true in this world anymore dearie? Nothing!"

"I know what's true. My love for you."

Barely even friends

Once those words left her mouth, Rumpelstiltskin lost it. He was at a lost for words for a few moments, wondering what ever compelled her to let those words even escape. "You do not love me! No one can ever love me!" He shouted at her, like he had before many weeks ago. He had stood up by then, stepped closer to where she was seated, and looked down upon her with both anger and fear, trying so desperately to sound fierce and not vulnerable. "Why must you keep playing this cruel little game dearie? All because you want to break some curse?"

Belle had remained calm in her stature, but he could read her eyes and they gave away her sadness and loneliness. That is what scared him. That is when he vowed that if he couldn't forcefully remove her or wait for her to go then he would have to completely isolate himself from her all together. With that thought, he stormed off, but he had not gotten far enough to not hear her yell, "You are a coward Rumpelstiltskin. Why can you not even try to believe that you are a man that can actually be loved?"

After that episode, Rumpelstiltskin made sure that he left on business right away. He had now come back to not find Belle anywhere in sight. Not that he was looking for her or anything. As he made his way around the castle he then passed the library. He now knew where she was. Sure enough, when he looked through a crack in the door that was not all the way shut, he saw Belle curled up in an armchair by the fireplace reading a book.

He observed that she looked particularly captivated by the words that she was reading. This was the way she looked all the time, she was fervent with everything she said and did. She was also biting down on her lip and even from a distance he could tell that her eyes shown with wonder. She looked at the world in awe. Yet, she was imprisoned here with him, not able to experience any sort of amazement. At that moment, he undeniably knew he loved her. He could no longer deny it to himself any longer. It was all clear. He was so desperately in love, but could not openly be. She would never be his. In any way.

Then somebody bends, unexpectedly

One day Belle left the castle. She left without saying goodbye or even saying any words at all. It's not like they were even on speaking terms anyway right? Rumpelstiltskin did not have any suspicion if she would return. Yet again his feelings were mixed. He hoped she would, and at the same time he hoped she wouldn't. Both these reasons were because he loved her.

After a few days he started to get worried that he would never see Belle again. He knew he would have felt this way if she had left in the first place. But instead she stayed, making him fall in love with her even more. And now she was gone. For real he thought. Rumpelstiltskin stayed by his window all night every night for five nights in a row. He waited and he watched hoping she really did love him and would return. Hoping she never gave up on him. And yet, a part of him still hoped she never would walk those halls again. He thought that a part of him would always resent her for making him this lovesick. For trying to turn him into something he wasn't anymore and never would be again. He also thought that she deserved better and hoped she finally had figured that out.

However, one night, two weeks after she had left, Rumpelstiltskin was peering out his window while spinning his straw, and saw a small figure in a yellow dress glided through his courtyard. His Belle was home.

Instinctively, Rumpelstiltskin leaped out of his seat and flew down the many flights of stairs. While he was halfway to his destination, he reminded himself that he had to restrain himself. He was the Dark One. He had no feelings, and he loved no one. These thoughts made him angry. So he did what he did best when Belle gently came through the front door.

"Where have you been the last few weeks!" he yelled at her. Oops. He was supposed to act like he didn't care. As if he didn't want her there.

The initial kind look that shown through her eyes the minute she laid eyes on him immediately disappeared at that moment. "Who do you think you are? You don't own me! I could have left for good if I wanted to! In fact! You told me to leave months ago! And you have told me numerous times since!" Her eyes started to glaze over and that pained him. Nothing had hurt him that significantly in a long time. "You know what Rumpelstiltskin? Maybe I will leave. For real this time." She sniffled and turned to face the door once more. "Goodbye."

"No wait!" Rumpelstiltskin's voice cracked. "Don't go. I'm…sorry," he whispered. "I…um… why did you leave? Where did you go?"

Belle's eyes softened and she wiped a tear from her eye while she let out a sigh and turned away from the door. "I went to find this." She then took something out of her bag.

Rumpelstiltskin stared at her with wide eyes. "It's a cup." In her hands she held a small, delicate glass teacup.

Belle bit her lip. "Yes. I was thinking that maybe you needed a new one. Since…um…you have one that's broken.

Rumpelstiltskin did not know what to do. He did not know what to say. All he could do was stand and stare at her in astonishment. Finally he found his voice. "Thank you. You did not have to do that you know."

"I know. I wanted to."

"But you don't understand, Belle." He took a deep breath, hoping she would realize what he meant with his next words. "I don't need a new cup. The broken one, well, it's very special to me. It does not need to be replaced. It just needs to be, well, fixed."

With those words, he finally met her eyes and allowed himself to gaze at her. She was smiling up at him, with the widest smile he had ever seen upon her mouth. And because of that smile, he knew she understood. So he smiled back.

Just a little change, small to say the least

Ever since Belle had come back with the teacup, things started to change. Now when Rumpelstiltskin would walk past her in the halls of the castle, she would beam up at him. From this, he couldn't hold back a smile and felt as if his love for her grew and grew and grew everyday. His favorite part of the day would be in the mornings when he would come down the stairs from his bedroom and see Belle either making breakfast or waiting for him to join her. They wouldn't say much, but there was a silent understanding there. They knew that what they had was special. It was simple and safe. Everything was, for the most part, back to how it was before she had kissed him. However, the memory of that kiss, and the events that followed, still lingered and taunted Rumpelstiltskin daily. Things were changing, and who was to say that they would not stop.

One day, Rumpelstiltskin was wondering through the castle and passed by the library. He did not leave the castle hardly at all anymore on business. He barely ever worked actually because deep inside he knew he wanted to be with Belle in any way he could be with her without giving up his powers.

As he quietly passed by the library door he heard her softly humming. For a few moments he closed his eyes and just listened to the soothing melody that was making it's way through the crack in the door to Rumpelstiltskin's ears. He loved her voice and desired to hear it more often. So he opened the door.

Belle was curled up on a chair, with a book on her lap, at the other end of the room near the fireplace. The room was completely dark except for a dim light that was created from the burning fire. It was enough light for Belle to see the words on the pages Rumpelstiltskin supposed.

As he entered, her vivid sapphire eyes came up from her book and made contact with his. At that moment he felt as if all the air in his lugs was being extracted from his body and his heart began to race. A feeling of warmness consumed his chest and a tingling sensation formed on his lips from the memory of when hers touched his.

"Good evening Rumple". Belle smiled at him, "Have you come to join me?"

"I um…" Rumpelstiltskin stuttered. "I am not much of a reader dearie."

"That's okay. Stories aren't for everyone. We can just talk." She put her book down and motioned for Rumpelstiltskin to come towards her.

He hesitantly walked near her and sat down in the chair across from hers on the other side of the fireplace. She smiled brightly and handed him the book she was reading. "I told you dearie. I don't like stories."

Belle shook her head. "It isn't a story. Look at the page I marked."

Again, he hesitantly did what she told him and analyzed the book she gave him. It was a book a quotes. He realized she had put some sort of a bookmark inside, so he flipped open to the page it rested on. The page read: Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.

After he read the quote, Rumpelstiltskin stayed quiet for a few moments, and then raised his eyes to meet Belle's.

"I love that quote." She said softly, now gazing into the fire. "It reminds me of how I used to say that I wanted to see the world. I wanted to be a hero and change the world. I realize now, from being here with you, that I don't have to go on some crazy adventure to do that. Change can be simple. Change can happen if we simply let it.

Rumpelstiltskin didn't know how to respond, so instead he continued to gaze at her while her eyes started to close and she drifted off. When he believed she was asleep, he found a blanket and wrapped it around her whole body. He thought about departing the room then and leaving her to her privacy, but he decided that he wanted to stay with her for a little while longer. He picked back up the quote book and started to flip through pages.

On the very last of the book he came across a quote that seemed to answer all his questions. It read: And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.

He knew then, that without even trying, that his whole world was changing and turning upside down. Belle was right; she did not have to be out in the world on some crazy adventure to change the world. She was changing his world. He was changing himself, and she was just his inspiration. That's how things happened, and it scared him beyond belief. However, Rumpelstiltskin realized that he did not have to worry about anything in this moment. He could start worrying tomorrow. These beliefs were confirmed as he watched his beautiful Belle breathe in and out while smilingly peacefully in her sleep. He was so genuinely happy at that moment that he started to hum softly.

So instead of leaving Belle, he let himself close his eyes, while still humming, and drift off into a peaceful sleep full of dreams. Maybe stories weren't so bad after all.

Both a little scared, neither one prepared

While Rumpelstiltskin and Belle now had an understanding with each other, and were friendly and not hostile towards one another, there still was unspoken tensions that lie beneath the surface. He didn't know about Belle, but he knew that deep in his heart he yearned for her. He desired her wholeheartedly but also knew that he didn't have the strength to do anything. He was scared, but more importantly he simply was not prepared to give his powers up to be with her.

Winter was now upon them, and all that was visible outside the castle for miles and miles was frozen white droplets of snow that continued to fall from the sky for weeks and weeks. During that time, neither Rumpelstiltskin nor Belle dared to wander outside. The stayed cooped up and warm inside the castle, and spent their days enjoying the silence of each other's company. On many occasions Rumpelstiltskin would come join Belle in the library, he was not hesitant any longer, and would sit with her by the fire either in silence or he would listen to her read out loud. Some of the time he would actually listen to the words she was reading, and the other times he would like to simply listen to the sound of her voice or study her face. Belle was always so kind to him, unless he was rude or raised his voice she would have no problem talking right back and putting him in his place. She was so caring and gentle. She had put him under her spell with her beauty on the inside and out, and it was almost as if she knew, depicted by the small hint of a smile that forever rested on her mouth, that she was changing him, or destroying him, whichever one it was. However, he could simply not figure out how she felt about him. The question of why she came back was still unanswered. And no, he still did not believe she could ever love him.

The first day in the midst of the long winter that the snow finally stopped falling, Belle was eager to finally get a breath of fresh air. Rumpelstiltskin figured this because she would continuously look out the windows and when she first saw that the storm had stopped she squealed like a young child.

"Finally! I can enjoy the beauty of winter!" Belle practically yelled one morning while she and Rumpelstiltskin drank their morning tea together. He laughed under his breath in slight amusement. "Rumpel, do you happen to have any ice skates that I could borrow perhaps?"

He was taken aback by the way she so timidly asked him this question. "I don't have any." Her excitement exited her eyes, but he continued to reassure her, "But I could make some appear." That's when her smile grew.

Before he knew it she had thrown herself at him and wrapped her arms around him. She had engulfed him in a warm hug that he was not sure how he felt about. She held him onto him for what seemed like forever and then released him from her grasp very tentatively. As she did so her lively blue eyes gazed into his. There lips were only a few short inches apart and he could feel the quickening of her warm breath collide with his. His heart began to race so fervently and loudly that he was convinced she could hear. And the memory, oh the memory of when her lips touched his still burned vividly in his imagination. In that moment, so many months ago, he was so sure that she reciprocated his feelings, or whatever you would call them, and in this moment, he thought he was sure once more.

However, he was soon released from his trance. As Belle's face slowly but hesitantly came closer and closer, he saw a certain flash of sadness and fear spark in her eyes. When this happened, she stepped back from him and simply said, "Thank you."

"No problem dearie." And with those words Rumpelstiltskin snapped his fingers and ice skates appeared in his hands. "Here you are." He transferred the brand new white figure skates to Belle's hands while his heart still raced inside his chest.

She softly smiled up at him and then turned to walk towards the door. Just before she reached for the handle, Belle turned around. "Do you, perhaps, want to join me?" She asked him very nervously.

"I um, no, I don't think that would be a very good idea." He shook his head. "But you go ahead. Have fun."

Was it just him or did she look disappointed? "Okay. Thank you again."

At that moment, Rumpelstiltskin wondered if there was a chance that she could be as scared as he. Maybe, just maybe, she too was unprepared in whatever she was trying to accomplish by staying with him. And he sure did love her for it, even the possibility, because now he didn't feel alone.

Beauty and the Beast

For the next week or so, everyday during the late afternoon, Belle would put on her new ice skates and skate for a few hours on the small pond right outside of the castle. Rumpelstiltskin would watch her skate from his upstairs room while he spinned. He enjoyed observing how happy this simple activity would make her and how she never grew tired or cold.

Every day she would put on her thick coat and some mittens, gather up her skates, and ask Rumpelstiltskin if he would like to join her. Every day he would tell her no. He would continue to watch her though, because that way he could still feel as if he were with her.

One day, as Belle was skating and he was spinning, he caught sight of her while she was in the midst of tripping. She had looked as if she had lost her balance, and in a flash had disappeared within the ice.

Rumpelstiltskin did not wait a single second before he flung himself out of his seat and sprinted down the stairs, just as he had done so many months before when he had realized that she had returned to him. However, now he was realizing that he just might be loosing her. "No, no! Belle! Stay with me! Please stay with me!" He yelled as he tossed himself out the front door, into the snow and ice. "Why couldn't I have just skated with you? Why? Why!"

Just as he neared the pond, dazedly he spotted the small hold in the ice that he had fallen through. Without any hesitation, something he had learned how to control, Rumpelstiltskin dived headfirst into the pond. In panic and shock, he splashed around in the below freezing waters, without being able to see anything. He could only feel his chest tightening from the water and the fear. Finally, through all the thrashing around, Rumpelstiltskin spotted Belle, who was completely limp, floating away from him. As quickly as possible, and in what seemed like slow motion, he grabbed a hold of her and, with as much strength as possible, pulled her back up through the hole in the ice.

Through Rumpelstiltskin's great relief, immediately after he pulled Belle and himself to the surface, she started to cough. He was now standing, with her cradled in his arms, while he scrabbled to get her off of the ice. As she choked all the existing water from her lungs, her eyes opened, were as vivid as ever, and shined like a light of life. He held her as close as he possibly could while he walked hurriedly back towards the castle. The relief he felt in his heart was incomparable to anything he had ever felt in his life. It had all started so fast, and was over just as quickly. She was alive though. Belle was alive and in his arms at last.

As he carried her inside the castle, he gently caressed her cheek and whispered over and over again, "It's okay Belle. It is all going to be okay." She simply nodded.

She was trembling so violently that Rumpelstiltskin knew that the best place to take her was to where was closest. That was the library, which held a warm fire. He then gently laid her down in the chair she normally occupied and wrapped a thick blanket around her. "I'm so sorry Belle. I'm so very sorry."

Her eyes then came into focus with his and she smiled at him. "I'm okay. The fire feels nice. Will you put your arms around me once more? You were making me warm."

Rumpelstiltskin was confused on how he was making her warm since he too was soaked with freezing cold water, but he decided not to question her and do as she asked. So he wrapped his arms around her once more.

She sighed. "Rumpel, I'm sorry."

"For what?" He nearly screamed from being so confused.

"For calling you a coward. I was wrong."

"And why do you say that?"

"Because no coward would lunge themselves through ice when they had magical powers." She spoke these words in such a hushed tone that he wasn't sure he even heard right.

Rumpelstiltskin was in shock however, because he did hear those words. He then realized he could have used his powers. He could have used them to get to Belle faster. He could have used them to capture her from the freezing cold waters. He could use them now to warm her up faster. So he did. With a snap of his fingers, all the water that drenched the both of them from head to foot was gone. She stared up at him puzzled.

He turned away from her. "I am such a monster! How could I have been so stupid to have forgotten about magic!"

"Rumple…you are no monster."

"You made me forget. I don't know how, but you made me forget."

With that realization, he stormed off and ignored his name being called by Belle. All he knew was that he was simply furious. Without true loves kiss, he was still changing. Without true loves kiss his powers were still forgotten. With Belle, and all the love he held in his heart for her, beauty was defeating the beast.

Ever just the same, ever a surprise

A few hours after the ice-skating incident, Belle had found Rumpelstiltskin in his room upstairs at his spinning wheel. He felt her walk in, but decided to pretend not to notice.

"Thank you." She told him gently. "I seem to have forgotten to tell you that. You saved my life."

As she spoke these words with irretrievable sincerity, Rumpelstiltskin found himself continuing to stare out of his window at the ice-covered pond, which now appeared black in the center. He had not removed his pain-stricken eyes from that spot for a while now and just continued to be lost in his thoughts. Ever since Belle had decided not to leave, and had kissed him, things were just the same as before. He was still being tortured daily with how far he should go for someone he loved. That feeling, he was sure, would never go away.

"Alright dearie, why don't you leave me alone now."

He could sense that she had started to leave but then she spoke once more. "I know you would have saved my life no matter what. With or without magic. It doesn't matter how you would've done it, but the point is you did it. You are no monster Rumple. You need to believe that."

"No Belle! I don't believe that!" Rumpelstiltskin yelled as he rose up from his chair and turned around to face her. "I might have just let you drown if it came down between you and my powers. Just like I let Bae go!"

"Bae? Who's Bae?" Belle asked as gently as possible and stepped towards him.

"He's…he's my son." Rumpelstiltskin gulped.

Belle was quiet for a few moments, but never took her eyes off of him. She got closer and closer to Rumpelstiltskin, which frightened him. "You let him go. How?"

He knew that by answering her she would probably be mortified and decide to leave him for good. He still didn't know if he wanted that to happen or not. But with the comforting way that she was staring at him, he felt as if he would be safe telling her. However, he did remember the last time he was about to tell her about his son. "He was trying to save me. He loved me and he was afraid of what I had become." Rumpelstiltskin paused, unable to look Belle in the eye. "I broke a promise to him and in the end I chose The Dark One over him. He's in a different world now and I will never see him again. I will never be able to let him know that I have regretted that decision my entire life."

Rumpelstiltskin was afraid that if he looked up he would find Belle disgusted, but he took a chance. When his eyes, now glossy from tears, met hers he saw, not pity, but compassion in them.

"I'm so sorry Rumple." She reached out and took his hand, which trembled from her touch. "You might not see it, and you might be scared, but there is good in you. I will keep saying that until the day I die." She smiled. "Bae saw the good in you too, or else he would have never tried to save you. I have come to realize, that once you find something that is worth saving, that is worth loving, you never give up."

With those words, Belle wrapped her arms around Rumpelstiltskin and held onto him tightly. Then she whispered into his ear, "I hope that answers your question. The one you keep asking me and keep asking yourself. Goodnight Rumpelstiltskin." She then let go of him, smiled, and walked out of the room, leaving him speechless.

Belle had come to thank him for saving her life, when in reality she had saved his. Over and over again. She had saved him because he did not know what he would have done if things did not stay the same after she had kissed him. She had saved him because even though things stayed the same, they were changing as well. She kept surprising him. She had faith in him, something he did not doubt any longer. He had come to the realization that even though things seemed the same, they really weren't. He was slowly realizing that she was more important than magic to him, she might have always been. And as much as it scared him that he might always hurt the ones he loved because magic always had a price, at that moment he believed that Belle might just keep surprising him and show him a way to become a better man. Not a monster. He believed this because he now knew the answer to his question: "I have come to realize, that once you find something that is worth saving, that is worth loving, you never give up."

And his question was: Why did you come back?

Ever as before, ever just as sure

As weeks went by, and it was no longer winter, things around the Dark Castle continued as they were before. Over that time, Belle and Rumpelstiltskin grew closer. The more that Belle was around, the more he wanted to know her.

"What is your favorite color Belle?" He asked her one day when they were in the library. He had just started to read the very first book that he had read in a very long time, but found himself continuously distracted with Belle seated right across from him.

She looked up at him with a confused smile playing at her mouth. "It's yellow. Mainly because it's a bright and happy color. Like the sun. What's yours?"

"Huh. I have never really thought about it I guess. But if I'd had to pick I would say blue." He wouldn't admit it to her, or even himself, but he secretly loved the color blue because of her eyes.

Belle smiled and closed her book. "What…is your favorite place that you have ever traveled too?"

"I've been too many places dearie, so I can't really say."

"Alright. Then what about you tell me something about yourself that I don't know already."

He could tell that she was really trying to make an effort here, but did not try to guess too much pertaining what her motives were. He did not want to get his hopes up. "Well did you know that I am over three-hundred years old?"

This made Belle laugh. "No I didn't know that."

"What about you Belle? What is something that I don't know about you?"

Belle stayed quiet for a few moments, lost in thought, but then she said, "I am a terrible artist. I am deathly afraid of bugs. And my favorite time of day is sunrise. That's three things." Then she pointed at him. "Your turn. Tell me three things I don't know about you."

He laughed nervously. Three things should not have been that hard for Rumplestiltskin, especially when he claimed to know everything. However, he came to realize in that moment that he knew many things about other people, but did not know himself. So he thought real hard. "I used to like to cook. I hate the rain and…um…"

"You like flowers, don't you?" Belle asked. "That's a third thing. Since you seemed like you couldn't think of one."


"Well I noticed that you tend to keep a lot of flowers around the castle. Like over there." Belle pointed to the flowerpots holding lilies over by the window seal. "And outside. There are several kinds of flowers constantly blooming around the property. And! I noticed those stain glass windows in the courtyard are of flowers. You also once gave me a rose."

"Your right." Rumpelstiltskin scratched his head both in thought and in guilt when he thought about the rose he had given her. "I guess I do."

She smiled softly.

"What is your favorite kind of flower Belle?"


That's when Rumpelstiltskin was absolutely sure that Belle knew him better then he knew himself, and he was ever just as sure that that was a reason why he loved her.

As the sun will rise

Belle and Rumpelstiltskin stayed up all night talking in the library just getting to know each other. The talked about all kinds of things from their childhoods to different places that they had been. Rumpelstiltskin opened up to Belle about his son Bae and his wife. She was very sympathetic and easy for him to converse with. Belle talked about her mother who passed away from an illness when Belle was very young. The sun had set long ago, the fire beside them had burnt out, and they had lost track of time. Rumpelstiltskin never wanted the night to end. But then it was time for sunrise.

"Belle, come with me." Rumpelstiltskin smiled and suddenly got up from his chair, reaching a hand out to her.

She grinned up at him, out of both wonder and nervousness, and said, "Alright." Then she took his hand and he could feel the shivers travel up his spine in the moment their skin touched.

When he had her hand he pulled her out of the room and guided her down the hallway and up a staircase. "Where are you taking me?" She giggled.

"Not telling dearie. Just trust me." He continued to lead her up and up the staircase, which started to get closer and closer to the actual ceiling of the castle. When they reached the top, and their heads were almost touching the ceiling, Rumpelstiltskin pushed the ceiling with his hands and he lifted a trap door that led in a small streak of light and a breeze of fresh air. "Come with me Belle." He then, still holding onto her hand, climbed and guided her through the trap door and onto the roof of the castle.

"This, this is amazing!" exclaimed Belle. With her mouth wide open, she gazed at the sight surrounding her. The castle was encircled by great mountains, which now looked as if they were all level with the two of them. There were emerald pine trees for miles and miles laid evenly across the mountaintops. The gorgeous view just got more and more visible as the seconds passed because at that moment it was sunrise. The sky had turned from pitch black to a navy blue to a beautiful orange and pink mixture that radiated across the land. "It sunrise!"

"Your favorite time of day." Rumpelstiltskin shrugged.

Belle, while being blinded in the face by a stream of sun, smiled up at him and squeezed his hand that she was still holding. "Your amazing."

He blushed and did not know what to say to that. So he decided to say nothing. Belle then let go of his hand and strode across the rooftop in awe. She then got to the edge, stopped walking and continued to gaze at the sun. "This is the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. Thank you Rumpel."

He then came beside her to join her in taking in the view. "Of course dearie."

For Rumpelstiltskin, the sight in front of him was something he never enjoyed before. He had always been dark, in every sense of the word. He was the Dark One, who lived in the Dark Castle. He had always covered up his windows, his mirrors, and every trace of light that ever dared to shine through. Now, here in this moment, with the one who brought every aspect of light back into his life both literally and figuratively, he began to enjoy it again. For the first time ever, he genuinely appreciated and thanked God for the fact that Belle never left him. She was his light. Light was happiness. Light was the beginning of all new wonderful things. Light was the sunrise that had given him a chance to begin again.

Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme

One evening, Rumpelstiltskin was at his spinning wheel and Belle was near him sweeping the floor. He noticed that she was wearing the golden dress that he had first met her in. She had worn that dress the first few days that she was at the castle but soon had made herself other gowns. She hadn't worn this one in awhile and Rumpelstiltskin wondered why. Perhaps it was because she was homesick or perhaps she just liked the dress. It was yellow which was her favorite color. Whatever the reason, Rumpelstiltskin spent that time spinning gold watching Belle glide across the floor in her golden dress, and she was beautiful in his eyes.

Then she started to hum. She hummed the same tune that she always would on occasion. He was curious so he decided to ask her about it, "What is that that you always hum Belle?"

"Oh it's a tune to a song that my mother used to sing to me when I was a child." She didn't look at him as she said this, kept her back turned, and continued to sweep.

"What's the song called?"

"I don't remember." She paused and then stopped sweeping. "I always ask myself that but I can only ever remember the tune. Oh and I remember a dance that went with the song as well. My mother taught me and we would always dance together." She was still not facing him but he could tell by her shaky voice and her hand that had gone up to face that she had started to cry. He did not know much about sympathy so he just decided to keep asking her questions.

"How did the dance go?"

She laughed then turned around to face him. Her eyes were watery but she was smiling so he took that as a good sign. "Do you want me to show you?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "Sure. Why not?"

Belle put down her broom. "Come here then." She then motioned for him with her hand.


"Come here. It's a two person dance so if I'm going to show you I sure cannot dance alone."

"No, no. No. I'm sorry dearie I don't dance." He regretted saying anything and came to the conclusion that he absolutely had no idea at all how to be sympathetic.

"You wanted me to show you. So come here and I'll show you." She smirked. "Please Rumpel."

Deep down he could not say no to her anymore so he said, "Alright dearie." Rumpelstiltskin then got up from his spinning wheel and slowly made his way over to where Belle was standing. The closer and closer he came to her, the more and more intense his heart rate became. His vision became slightly blurred and all that was visible to him was her in her golden dress.

When Rumpelstiltskin reached her, he positioned himself right in front of her and lifted his arms up, unsure of what to do with them. She smiled, reached up and took his arms in hers. She placed his right arm around her waist and held his left hand in hers. Then she gently, and a little unsteadily, placed her left arms on his shoulder. "Alright Rumple, I'm going to lead because I am the teacher. So don't you dare try to."

"You won't have to worry about that." He mumbled.

"Alright then, follow my lead."

Belle then led Rumpelstiltskin through the steps very patiently and calmly. At first she did not look him in the eyes at all and focused on telling him how to do the footwork and what posture to have. She would not stop from babbling on and on and kept repeating what footwork came next and what he was doing right and what he was doing wrong. A few times he stepped on her feet by accident because in all truth, he was only half paying attention to her words. All her could do was stare at her face and moving mouth and smile. He was very amused at how serious she looked when she was telling him what to do. He took note that he should put her in charge of more things more often.

For the first time, she stopped speaking. He thought it was because there was nothing more she could tell him to do because he actually had the dance down by now. She then noticed him staring at her. "What?" She asked, still quite serious.

"Nothing." He laughed

"You were staring."

"Only because you amuse me."

"Why was that amusing? I was quite productive. I taught you how to dance."

"Yes you did dearie."

Then she smiled, and was quiet.

They then continued to dance, never taking their eyes off each other. Rumpelstiltskin did not have any inkling to how long they continued this way. It seemed like forever, but was only probably a few minutes. To finally break the silence, Rumpelstiltskin began to hum. He began to hum not just any tune, but the very tune that he had learned from Belle and that she had learned from her mother. When he started, she flushed a bright red and started to hum with him. Not before long, she closed the distance between their bodies and nuzzled into his chest. He noticed then that she closed her eyes and began to sway, so he swayed with her, while she was safe in his arms. Her closeness made him feel safe as well. Once their hums started to disappear into the quietness around them, Belle lifted her head up from his chest and brought her right hand to his cheek.

"Thank you Rumpelstiltskin." He didn't say anything back because he realized that she started to inch her face closer and closer to his. She became so close that he could feel her breath and vividly imagine her lips on his. But he could only imagine because once his heart beat so fast that it eventually went still, he backed away.

"Anytime." He then answered her while releasing his grip on her all together.

While he walked away he couldn't help but remember how he walked away from her the night in the dungeon. Both times, he did not dare to look back at her. Back then he knew that their tale was still not finished, and he was right. Everything with Belle would always bring him back to the very beginning. This same tale was as old as time itself. And a simple song was what made him realize this.

Bitter sweet and strange, finding you can change

For days after Rumpelstiltskin walked away from Belle, things between them were different once more. They grew distant from each other and did not say much unless they had to. Unlike before, this time they only acted nervous and withdrawn, not angry. There was nothing to outright be angry about, Rumpelstiltskin realized. However, he would not admit it to himself, in all truth he was scared.

Really late one night, on purpose actually, he passed right by Belle's room that he had given her after she spent her first few months in the dungeon. Just from quickly, and most anxiously passing by, Rumpelstiltskin could hear muffled cries coming from inside. He then froze, not knowing what to think or how to react. Like he said before, he was not very sympathetic. However, in a way, Belle had changed that.

"Belle, are you…are you okay?" He said while he hesitantly knocked at the door.

"Yeah. I'm okay." She responded but Rumpelstiltskin did not think she was very convincing.

"Can I come in?"


When he opened the door, she sat at the edge of the bed and was wiping tears from her eyes. "Belle, I'm sorry." He was not outright admitting what he was sorry for, but deep down he knew why, and he knew that she knew why as well.

"Rumpelstiltskin, why do you keep pushing me away? Why can you so easily turn the cheek?" She got up from the bed, was no longer crying and stared at him straight in the eyes. "Most importantly, why do you still not believe that anyone, that I, could care for you?"

He was at a lost of words since she was being so outright and forward with her words especially because for the last year, since the night they had kissed, she never even said anything that hinted her feelings for him. He knew that he had spent forever toying with his feelings but did not believe that hers were ever real. He couldn't blame her for not saying anything though because the last time she said she loved him he got angry. Eventually, he was able to respond, "Belle, I don't believe anything anyone ever tells me. I don't trust anyone's true intentions. I make deals with people because that's the only way I know that outcomes will be predicable. They are something that I can have full control of." Unlike my feelings, he silently added. "That will always be me. I will never change." When he said this, he truly believed it. He truly believed also that he loved her, but that he would never be able to give up what he was, and his powers, for her. At least he thought he truly believed that.

She surprised him by smiling and saying, "Rumpel, you have changed."

Those words stumped him. "What?"

"Think about it. It has been a very long time since you left the castle on business. You haven't been making any deals. You don't need deals to be your crutch even though you seem to have convinced yourself of that. The last person you hurt was over a year ago when you purposely, even though you won't admit it, made your arrow miss your target. You didn't hurt him or the pregnant woman who was with him. Face it Rumpel, you don't feel a need to hurt anyone anymore. You don't want to. So please, don't hurt me."

He will admit, her words made him ponder, but her last sentence is what made him feel something. He wanted to make her happy. He wanted to give her what she wanted. He believed she deserved way better than a life with him, and that's why he let her go a year ago, along with his fearful reasons. But yet, she was still here, making him second-guess himself constantly, making him change.

"I never want to hurt you Belle."

She then took a deep breath, looked him straight in the eye and said, "Rumpelstiltskin, I love you. I am in love with you and always will be."

Learning you were wrong

This time, Rumpelstiltskin went truly speechless. Deep down he knew that these words from her would be coming but never truly realized the impact of them until now. The last time she said these words to him he had gotten angry, really angry. And now thinking back, he didn't remember exactly why. He did remember that he thought that the queen had tricked her into kissing him and that Belle actually never cared for him. That is why he had sent her on her way, so that she would not have the power to hurt him. But yet, she came back. That is why he was so mad he realized. He believed that she was being cruel by throwing around the L word and was purposely trying to hurt him, not just being tricked. But now, a year later, this confession was exactly the same and still very different. They were right back to where they started, but still so much had changed.

What had changed was him. Rumpelstiltskin. The Dark One. His feelings had not changed. Belle had not changed. But it was his outlook that had changed. He realized, in that moment staring deep into Belle's innocent and bold eyes, that he was wrong.

He had been wrong to become the Dark One. He had been wrong to let go of Bae. He had been wrong to make all the deals he had. He had been wrong to seek revenge on the pirate who too his wife. He had been wrong to kill his wife and all the others. He had been wrong to ever be involved with someone as evil as Corra. He had been wrong to have isolated himself in this Castle. He had been wrong to have tortured all the innocent people he had. He had been wrong to not have believed Belle a year ago. He had been wrong to let her go. And most of all, he had been wrong to force love out of his life.

This time, Rumpelstiltskin believed Belle. He believed she truly loved him. That was a fact he could accept. He knew that he had done wrong in his life, but he was a creature of habit, and did not know how to reverse all that he had done wrong. So he decided to take the first step in doing what was right.

"I love you too Belle."

Certain as the sun, rising in the east

From the joyous smile plastered on Belle's face and the glint in her eyes, Rumpelstiltskin finally, since a long time, felt real love that was reciprocated. However, he could tell, despite Belle's evident happiness, that she was still unsure. And she had every right to be.

"Oh Rumpel." Tears were now forming in her eyes and she took only a few steps towards him. Obviously wanted him to come to her first. But he wouldn't.

"Belle, I do. I do love you. But I can't give you what you want. I can't do anything past telling you how I feel. I don't know how to not be the Dark One. My powers have become a crutch and I can't be without them. I don't know how to be a real man. That is not me anymore. I'm sorry." He breathed in deeply. "That is why a year ago I told you to leave. Yes I have changed in so many ways, but I don't think that that is ever going to be something that will change. So… so I think you should leave. For your own good. You don't want to be with me."

Tears were now pouring down her face. "But Rumpel. I do. I do want to be with you. And I believe that if you have changed this much that you eventually will not need magic anymore."

"But how long will that be? Probably a long time. You shouldn't have to wait."

"I have already waited a whole year. I think I can wait a lot longer. That's because I love you."

"Goodnight Belle." Tears then began to fall from his eyes so he believed that it would be best to just turn around and walk away. He knew she wasn't going anywhere just yet.

When he got upstairs to his bedroom, without hesitation, Rumpelstiltskin laid down on his bed. For what seemed like hours he lay on his back and just gazed up at his ceiling wondering what, if anything, he would do next. He was deeply lost in thought when he heard a slight knock on his door. When he turned his head he realized that he had never even shut the door and that Belle was just standing there underneath the door frame with a look on her face that was all too familiar. Her lips were formed an upside down smile, but her eyes shown with sympathy.

"Hi." She said.

"Hello dearie."

"I'm not done with you."

"Oh you aren't huh?"

Belle laughed and then effortlessly made her way over to the bed. She startled him by then climbing herself onto the bed and gently lying herself next to him. He stared as she placed her head on the extra pillow next to his and nuzzled into the sheets. He was in absolute awe by how well she fit next to him. Rumpelstiltskin then decided to move from his back to his side so he could face her. Their faces were only a few short inches apart and he once again imagined what it would be like to kiss her while he clung onto the faint memory.

She then moved her hand to cup his cheek and stared deeply into her eyes. He trusted that she would not kiss him and he was proven right.

"There is good in you Rumpelstiltskin. Please know that." And at that moment he had never been more certain of anything in his life.

He didn't say anything in response, and he didn't need to. Belle loved him and she believed in him. That's all that really mattered.

So with those last words, Rumpelstiltskin and Belle fell asleep in each others arms, just as the sun began to rise.

Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme

The sun slowly found its way through the bedroom curtains the next morning. Rumpelstiltskin tossed and turned a few times before finally cracking open his eyes. As he did this, his eyes focused on the empty spot in the bed that Belle had occupied earlier that morning. His first thought was that Belle lying next to him had been a dream, but by the evident crinkles in the sheets that probably was not the case.

When it registered to him that she really was gone he rose from the bed and decided to go downstairs to the dining room where she usually was in the morning making breakfast. He then reached the downstairs and realized she was nowhere in sight.

"Belle?" He called questionably.

Rumpelstiltskin then took it upon himself to travel to all the rooms in the castle that she normally would be in but could not find her in any of them. Soon, before he knew it, he had checked every single room in the entire castle and Belle remained nowhere to be found. He ran around, now frantically, yelling her name. There was no trace of her.

He did not know what made him do it, he had not left the castle in months simply because he had not wanted too, but Rumpelstiltskin then ran outside and headed straight for the forest, which he knew eventually led to the main road. Maybe he would find Belle along it.

After not too long traveling in the forest, but for what seemed like forever, Rumpelstiltskin heard a sound. Not just any sound, but his favorite sound. It was a song. A song he had heard before and knew all too well. Hearing this song represented hope, hope in a new beginning for the oldest tale.

"Belle?" He smiled.

Before he knew it, as the sound grew louder, his Belle rounded the corner of the pathway holding a basket full of golden straw that matched her beautiful golden dress. It was as if she walked out of a beautiful dream in that moment and had replaced an awful nightmare. His nightmare that involved her actually leaving him. Leaving him like he had told her countless times to do.

When she noticed him back, she smiled a confused smile. "Rumpel? What are you doing?"

As asked those words Rumpelstiltskin had ran up to her and enfolded her into his arms. "You came back." He said.

"Oh Rumpel, I'm sorry. I only left to town though. I left hours ago when you were still asleep and was trying to get back before you awoke. Yesterday was when I usually go into town to get straw for you remember? But I didn't go yesterday because it was raining." She put her hands on both of his shoulders and looked into his eyes reassuringly. "I was coming back. I will always come back for you."

He felt silly. "Oh."

"Rumpelstiltskin, I'm going to ask you a question that is similar to one you have asked me numerous times over the last year."

He had a feeling that he knew what she was going to ask and he couldn't help but smile and not feel silly anymore.

"Why did you come after me?"

He took a deep breath in and said what he was never able to admit to himself before. "Because you came back for me. Not only once, but twice. And you never left." He sighed. "Except I thought you did today."

She laughed and put her arms around him once more. Then, in silence, they started walking back towards to castle.

While they walked back to the castle, holding hands, he couldn't help but remember the joy that he had experienced when she came back that night a year ago. Both then and in this moment he was overwhelmed with the feeling of love. Back then he knew that their tale was still not finished, and he was right. Everything with Belle would always bring him back to the very beginning. This same tale was as old as time itself. And a simple song was what made him realize this.

Beauty and the Beast

When Rumpelstiltskin and Belle returned to the Dark Castle, he realized something that once again made him feel really silly.

"You made me forget again." He said to Belle as he sat down on his stool by his spinning wheel. She stood a few feet in front of him and put the basket of straw at his feet.

"What?" Belle looked up at him with an amused expression on her face.

"I don't know how but you made me forget." As he said these words, he couldn't help but smile. The last time he spoke these words he was confused and angry, but this time he realized something. He realized something he had had in his power all along.

"I forgot my powers again. Me, the Dark One, forgot that I could have easily found you with magic. Instead, I made myself frantic and ran out into the woods."

She smiled. "I guess you don't need your powers, because without them, you were still able to find me. You will always be able to find me."

"I don't get it. My magic has always been my crutch. I've never been able to live without it. But I just realized today that is no longer is." He then looked up at her and saw her eyes widen in hope. "Belle, you have become me crutch. I can't live without you." He heard her take a deep breath in. "Because unlike magic, which I was so easily able to forget today, I will never be able to forget your song."

Rumpelstiltskin then stood up from his spinning wheel, mustered all the courage he could and silently said goodbye. He said goodbye to all the wrong in his life, to all the evil he used to be. He said one last goodbye to the Dark One.

Belle was staring at him, wide-eyed, speechless and not able to move. He neared her slowly but steadily and once he was right in front of her and close enough, he cupped her cheek with his hand and slowly brought his face down to hers. All he could see was shining blue eyes and her beautiful lips ready for his. All he could hear was two rapid and yearning heartbeats.

As their lips touched, all Rumpelstiltskin knew was love and certainty. With true loves kiss, he physically started to change but he knew that his heart had already changed a long time ago. With true loves kiss his powers were now not only forgotten but they were no longer real, only the power of love was left. With Belle, and all the love he held in his heart for her, beauty was defeating the beast.

It had always beenBeauty that had been defeating the Beast, but this time, he let her.

Tale as old as time

Song as old as rhyme

Beauty and the beast

A/N: Thanks so much for reading! Please, please, please review! It would mean so much because this took me a really long time to write and I love feedback and constructive criticism :)