It comes hours after their reunion, after trembling tears of relief and desperate, needy lovemaking. They are still now, Rumplestiltskin's arms wrapped loosely around her from behind, his nose pressed into her hair, which has always seemed an uncomfortable choice to her, but she supposes he would not do it if he didn't like it. They probably would have been asleep by now, if they did not have the bars of different cells burned into the backs of their eyelids. And it is this moment in which Rumple chooses to whisper "Tell me about Bae's funeral." His voice doesn't shake but his arms do, a little. She bites her lip, striving to be calm before she describes a moment Rumple will never be able to get back, a form of closure cruelly snatched away from him, like so much else in his long and weary life. She finds something approaching composure, and says,
"It was beautiful, in a way. To see all the people that loved him, as Baelfire and Neal. Snow was in pieces the whole time, and Hook pretended he wasn't crying but everyone knew. And Emma-" she shook her head. "I've never seen someone look so lost and so angry at the same time." They are silent a long while, and Belle doesn't know what else she should say, what she should tell him about the loss of his reason for living. Rumplestiltskin breaks the quiet first, saying,
"I want to see Henry. Bae would have wanted me to-" he pauses, his thumb brushing absentmindedly over her bare ribcage as he searches for the words "to try."
"I think that would be good. For you and for Henry."
"Will you come with me? It seems you've befriended them all, and I'm no good at-" he waves a hand in front of her face in a gesture that is a halfhearted echo of a high, flamboyant voice and scaly green skin.
"Being polite?" She teases, very gently. A chuckle leaves him, a little forced but she appreciates the effort as it gusts across the back of her neck. "Yes, I will go with you, Rumplestiltskin." She is overly formal on purpose, wanting him to remember a gold dress and fire in her eyes. "Forever." She twines her fingers with his as she says it. She is deadly serious about this last word. He kisses her, softly and hesitantly just below her ear, and she knows the hesitation is no longer doubt of her. It is simply a careful awe, the same way she has to remind herself that these are really his arms around her, and not just those of the dream Rumplestiltskin she has conjured so many times.
He is grim and silent the next day, as they knock on the door of the apartment shared by the whole Charming family. She squeezes his arm gently as they wait, proud of him for leaving his cane behind. Emma opens the door. She seems surprised to see both of them there together, but Belle is not certain she will ever be letting her true love out of her sight again. Emma and Belle greet each other warmly, and after a pause Emma turns to Rumple and asks, "How are you?"
"Markedly better." He moves his hand to the small of Belle's back and raises an eyebrow. "I've no more than my own personal compulsion to wreak havoc on Storybrooke's residents." Belle knows it helps him to joke about these things, but it still makes her blood boil, to think about what the witch did to him. Belle wishes she could kill Zelena again, slower. She has not admitted this feeling to Rumplestiltskin because it scares her. She wonders if this is how he feels all the time. "I am here to see Henry." Rumple continues. "I know he has no knowledge of who I am, but-"
"Actually he does." Emma cuts him off. "I just thought, after everything, it wasn't fair for him not to know. So I kinda just willed his memories back and, poof, it worked." She shrugs, looking a little pleased with herself.
"Poof." Rumple repeats incredulously.
"Hey, I am the savior." Emma grins. "So you wanna come in? He's playing video games. Shocker, I know." They go inside, Belle asking,
"Where are Snow and David?" Emma grimaces.
"They got a room at Granny's. They like to ah, sleep in, after we win a battle." Emma is quite clearly thoroughly uncomfortable with the topic, and for the first time since Rumple has returned to her, Belle has to fight the urge to giggle.
"So do we." Slips out of her mouth before she can think better of it, and Emma shakes her head, muttering about images she will never get out of her brain. Henry enters the room, and Belle can see that Rumple is nervous. But Henry seems perfectly cheerful, now that he understands what is happening in this strange small town, and he gives a bright,
"Hi Belle, Hi Mr. Gold. What's up?"
"Hello Henry." Belle smiles. "It's good to see you, well, finally you." Henry nods.
"I'm glad to be back. I bet you are too." He says, turning to Rumple.
"Indeed." There is a long silence, then Rumple continues, "Henry, I just wanted," He pauses, starts again. "I know I have not been the sort of grandfather you deserve, and that you already have one heroic set of grandparents and two mothers to contend with. But if you ever need anything, or just want to talk-" he trails off, and Belle sees a raw fear of rejection in his eyes, a refusal to believe that anyone would want him in their lives for reasons besides material gain. But Henry always seems to understand more than the adults around him give him credit for, because he says softly,
"I miss him too." And then, to everyone's surprise, Henry steps forward and hugs Rumplestiltskin, who returns it with a look of pure bewilderment. But then Rumple's face softens into a bittersweet smile, and Belle realizes that Henry is close to the age Bae was, when Rumple let him go. It is likely that Henry even looks like a young Baelfire. Suddenly Belle's throat feels constricted, and Emma is watching the scene from the corner of the room, blinking rapidly and trying not to sniffle. And this is not the sort of family she ever imagined herself having, Belle muses, thinking inexplicably of her father and Gaston. It is imperfect, like a chip in fine porcelain or a maid who is really a princess or a villain who is really a good, good man, but it is also wholly, entirely right.