FINALLY. XD Also, it's gonna get rather AU between this and oncoming episodes. But most Rumbelle fics are so I doubt you all mind. :)


No one could know she knew.

"Not even Henry?" Belle asked, thinking that it would be nice if he knew that someone believed him and had remembered their old life.

Gold shook his head, looking more amused than stern. "Especially not Henry. He's a clever child, but not exactly... subtle. It would be dangerous if her Majesty saw him trying to pull you into his..."

"Operation Cobra," she said, smiling inwardly at the affection in his tone when he spoke about the boy who clearly reminded him of his own son. It was a shame Henry's book did not have Rumpelstiltskin's whole story, and that by not knowing, Henry feared him.

His eyebrows raised comically at the code name the 10-year-old had come up with. The expression was so close to his other self that Belle couldn't help but giggle.

They were sitting in what she supposed was a dining room, both perched on the table. She'd had to clear it off a bit first - clearly he needed a care-taker in this life too. He'd demanded she tell him all that had happened to her after she had been sent away. She demanded he tell her exactly what had happened with his son, and everything he knew about this curse, which was a great deal more than Henry had told her. Then again, she'd never really asked him about it.

Sipping her third cup of tea, she asked, "Twenty-eight years, then... How many years has it been?"

Another eyebrow quirk, and Belle realized she'd said something rather silly. "Twenty-eight," he said, pointedly.

"Ah... Emma. Right." In her defense, only two days ago this curse had been nothing more than a silly story.


"That explains Henry's knowledge."

Gold chuckled, "Clever prince, he is." Belle laughed.

They'd been conversing for hours, comparing their notes. Belle knew Emma and Mary-Margaret would not be happy that she was here, but she'd have to say they'd made up... somehow.

Gold wanted her to be more careful than that.

"Suddenly avoiding you would be more suspicious than continuing to see you," she argued. When he so much as looked ready to argue she spoke over him. "Regina already thinks 'Bridget' is having an affair with you."

She was absurdly pleased with his visible uncomfortableness with the idea of an affair. "That said, dearie, I'm certain Queenie was simply trying to get Bridget nettled with that comment."

"I don't care. Bridget fell in love with you before I remembered myself - so it's not entirely unbelievable."

He flinched at the word 'love'. "More so than you'd think," he said stiffly. Belle hid a sigh. Even now, with all their cards on the table, Gold seemed incapable of believing that she had ever loved him -still loved him. True love's kiss be damned.

She slid of the table, "If you want I'll go, now. But I'm not going to avoid seeing you - if I have to break a dozen things in your shop tomorrow to increase my 'debt', so be it."

He actually giggled, his Rumpelstiltskin giggle, completely out of place with his current appearance. It was short, a little quieter, but still made her laugh in return. "I'm sure I can figure something out," he finally said.

"No doubt, you can," Belle said, still grinning.

Emma wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her, but the look on her face prevented it.

"Why'd you go?" She asked instead, seriously.

Bridget sighed, "It was my idea. I realized our whole problem was, well, something of a misunderstanding. It's alright now."

Emma tried not to groan. But Bridget looked... happy. Healthier, too, in some way that she couldn't put her finger on. "Bridg, I- just... be careful, alright?"

"That's what Regina told me," she replied pointedly. "Don't start telling me he's 'unhealthy' for me now, too."

"No! Bridg, I'm not trying to- If you're happy with him, great! But how you were behaving just a few days ago- I mean, that wasn't healthy."

Bridget chuckled a little, "Fair enough, Emma, I do agree. I wasn't... myself, earlier." Her lips twitched at some joke Emma didn't get and for the first time Emma truly wondered if Bridget might be a bit... off.

Some fluff. Some explanations. And some confused Emma. What else is new?

Reviews = love. Always.