Belle had hoped, when she agreed to leave her whole world behind and live in an enchanted castle, that it would have certain advantages.
She hadn't expected dancing tableware, talking furniture, or even fires that lit themselves or ever-burning candles. She hadn't even had high hopes for the companionship of her captor – Rumpelstiltskin not being the most obviously charming person she'd ever met.
But she'd hoped it would at least be free from simple illnesses.
She sneezed again and sighed impatiently. Cleaning was so much harder when her head felt full of cotton wool and her nose wouldn't stop running.
Even Rumpelstiltskin had simply given her a handkerchief and retreated to a safe distance.
Finally, after three days of struggling with this damn cold, she'd had enough. She lived with a sorcerer who spun straw into pure gold, who defeated whole armies with a snap of his fingers and mixed potions that could turn men into beasts.
Surely he had to have, somewhere in his tower, a simple tonic to clear up this cold so she could get on with her life.
With that reasoning in mind, she waited for the next time he left the castle, and then made a dash for his rooms.
She very rarely entered the tower, even though it was easily the area of the castle most deeply in need of a deep cleaning. It just seemed so private, so separate from the rest of the estate. His clothes were strewn everywhere; his books were stacked or left open on almost every free surface; his most personal trinkets and artefacts sat on the windowsills and wherever else there was space.
It smelt of him, of leather and grass and something sweet and spicy, something she could only think was pure magic.
She didn't like coming here because she felt it was his personal space, even when he wasn't there to guard it. Because she knew she wouldn't want to think he was snooping around her own bedroom – granted to her after he admitted that the dungeon was a stupid place for someone planning to live in the castle forever – peering in draws and moving things around.
Still, desperate times called for desperate measures, and as another massive sneeze shook her whole body, she knew that this wasn't the time to be dainty.
She started working through the cabinets of his workshop, looking for any bottle that might say 'for sore throat' or 'for sneezing' or 'Look! The cure for the common cold!'
Okay, she knew that last one was a long shot, but a girl could dream.
Finally, after about an hour of carefully moving things and looking at every tonic and potion he had, she came across a possibility.
The label on the small red bottle read, "Bottled warmth for cold spells" in his spidery, crazy handwriting.
She pocketed it, and intended to go back to her search when she heard a noise downstairs.
She ran from the room, down the stairs, and out of the tower. She could hear him calling her name from the main hallway, and she hurried down to greet him.
"Ah, I was starting to organise a search party." He grinned at her, and she smiled back. A surge of happiness ran through her at the sight of him: the place really didn't feel the same when he wasn't around.
"I was just cleaning upstairs," she explained, knowing her voice sounded awful and croaky but unable to help it.
"I see you're still… infected." He made a little gesture with his fingers, his nose wrinkling, and she rolled her eyes.
"I have a cold," she pulled out her handkerchief and wiped her nose, "not the plague."
"But still… maybe you should be getting some rest? Leave off the cleaning for a while?"
"I'm fine." She ruined the effect with another huge sneeze. "Well, okay, not fine, but getting there." She was touched by the genuine concern she saw on his face, "I'm not overstretching myself, don't worry."
"Still, I'll be preparing the meals for a while. Just in case it's catching."
She was so happy to have him back – he sometimes disappeared for days at a time, and him being back within a few hours was a nicer surprise than she cared to admit – that she forgot all about the little bottle in her apron pocket.
That night, Belle couldn't sleep. It wasn't that she wasn't tired – being ill, even only mildly, was exhausting – but her throat was burning, and she couldn't stop coughing. Finally, she'd had enough of tossing and turning, of coughing right when she was just drifting off, and sat up in bed.
She reached over to where her apron lay over the chair by the bed, and fumbled for the pocket. Her fingers closed over the smooth glass of the bottle, and she fiddled with the cork stopper, draining the contents in moments.
She set the bottle back on her bedside table, and fell back onto the pillows. She drummed her fingers on her chest, waiting for something to happen. She didn't even care if it turned her into a frog, as long as it was a frog freed from that blasted cold.
After a minute, to her joy, she felt the pain in her throat, the throbbing in her head, and even the urge to cough receding.
She sank into the pillows, and welcomed sleep with open arms.
"Oh God! Yes, yes! Please, yes, right there!"
He kisses the side of her neck, the sensation sending her senses reeling as he thrusts into her harder, pushing her back against the side of the spinning wheel.
"Come on, dearie, just tell me what you want." His voice is sibilant in her ear, the words doing crazy to her insides.
"I- I want… Ahh!"
Belle woke with a start, sweating and breathing hard.
She'd just had a very inappropriate dream about Rumpelstiltskin. And it hadn't ended: there was still an undeniable ache between her legs, begging to be relieved.
Belle's blush just intensified. She was the daughter of a Lord, and had been engaged to a gentleman. This wasn't a situation that she was supposed to be prepared for.
She'd known for a while that she was attracted to him. But this was a huge leap – from simple attraction and friendship to… sex dreams.
Then realisation dawned. The potion. It had got rid of the cold just fine – her head hadn't felt this clear and healthy in a long time – but this must have been a side effect.
And now she couldn't even tell anyone. The only person who could help her was now a huge part of the problem.
She ran a hand over her face, and shook her head. She was an intelligent, practical, sensible young woman. If she'd found the potion, then surely she could also find the antidote? There was no reason Rumpelstiltskin ever even needed to know.
She would be mortified if he found out.
She struggled getting dressed: suddenly every brush of fabric against her skin sent prickles of pleasure straight to her core, and she was trembling as she did up the ties on her dress, skin flushed and heart racing.
It was nearly 10am by the time she got downstairs and fixed some breakfast. She had hoped that Rumpelstiltskin would already be spinning, or in his tower, or really doing anything but sitting at the in the kitchen, reading a book with his boots propped on the table.
"Good morning, Belle. Did you sleep well?"
"Um," the blushing came back in full force, and her silence caused him to look up at her from his book. He frowned, and her mind went blank, "Yes. It was okay." then she had a flash of inspiration, "Actually, I'm feeling a little feverish. I thought I'd leave the cleaning for today and go for a walk in the grounds. If that's okay?"
"If it'll make you feel better, dearie." He shrugged and returned to his book.
He watched surreptitiously as Belle breathed a sigh of relief and went about fixing herself some breakfast.
There was something strange about her today, a strange aura surrounding her that hadn't been there before. And he knew her fever had eased days ago, after the day she'd spent in bed with her illness. It seemed weird that it would come back when she'd seemed to be truly on the mend.
She was stroking the countertop absently, and he watched as her eyes fluttered closed. A suspicion settled over him as she caught herself and stared in shock at her palm.
Even as she settled down across the table from him, she refused to meet his eyes.
Rumpelstiltskin wasn't a creature of pure goodness and light. He wasn't a chivalrous prince or a saint in any sense of the word. And while he was very… fond of his companion, it didn't mean he couldn't enjoy a bit of mischief at her expense.
Plus, he was pretty sure her current state was her own stupid fault.
So he leaned back, and settled his book on the table, "Are you sure you're alright, Belle? You look very flushed."
She looked up at him, and met his eyes for a second. Normally, eye contact between the two of them was comfortable, friendly, even. But as she looked at him, he could see the heat rising in her cheeks again, and something dark and almost carnal burning behind her eyes.
She tore her gaze away from his, and looked back at her eggs. He leaned back, a wicked smile spreading over his face, as he watched her try not to look at him.
She disappeared pretty quickly after breakfast, and Rumpelstiltskin decided to investigate.
He thought, for about two seconds, about just finding her and asking point-blank if she'd taken anything from his study or tried any spells. He knew an arousal spell when he saw one, and she already looked like she was ready to jump on him.
He found the potion missing from his workshop pretty easily: she seemed under the impression that he didn't know the exact placement of everything in his rooms, and could tell when things had been moved. The potion missing wasn't a particularly strong one, thank goodness, although he'd figured that already: if it had been a potent spell, she would have been unable to resist it back in the kitchen.
Unfortunately, the one she'd taken was also a blood spell. Meaning that it had to run its course, and couldn't be undone with a simple counter spell.
Belle would have to have sex for the spell to be broken.
A huge smile broke over his face, even as he knew it shouldn't. He clapped his hands together, and went to find her.
Oh, this would be fun.
Belle had hoped to find a cure by now.
After three days of having a 'fever', things were just getting worse and worse.
She didn't want to have to tell Rumpelstiltskin. She really, really didn't. He'd laugh at her, enjoy watching her squirm – which she did a lot now, to her embarrassment – and be generally insufferable about it forever.
It had reached a stage now where every brush of her skirts against her legs, every gust of wind when she went outside, any physical contact with anything seemed to be enough to get her all hot and bothered.
And it was so much worse when he was around. Just a sighting of him in a hallway, the scent of his clothes when she prepared to do the laundry, made her almost weep with frustration.
And the more she tried to avoid him, the more often he seemed to find her.
It was his smile that did it the worst. When he smiled at her – or, oh God, said her name – she felt the heat pool low in her belly, felt herself getting impossibly wet and desperate for him to just touch her.
Her dreams were vivid. Every night she saw him behind her eyelids, and all she felt in her dreams was his hard cock inside her, making love to her on a huge, soft bed or taking her hard and fast from behind against the dining room table.
It would have been shameful, if the idea didn't seem so utterly wonderful.
It was utterly unbearable.
On the evening of the third day, she was ready to explode. She was in the kitchen, scrubbing the pans from dinner, loving the feeling of the warm water lapping over the skin of her hands, the slide of the soap on the pads of her fingers.
It was ridiculous: washing dishes was turning her on.
"Need a hand?" she could hear his voice from the doorway behind her, and didn't move.
Oh, God, yes, was the obvious answer. But that wasn't what he meant.
"No, I'm okay." she tried to keep the shakiness out of her voice.
"Are you sure?" she heard his footsteps behind her, heard him approach. She froze, trying to clamp her legs shut so she wouldn't give herself away.
"It's taking an awfully long time, dearie, for you to wash one pan." He pointed out.
"I'm being thorough."
"Of course." She glanced around to see him settle against the side of the table, watching her with those unblinking eyes of his.
She felt his scrutiny on the back of her neck, the hairs rising and sending shivers down her spine. She scrubbed vigorously, trying to release some of the tension she felt in every muscle into her work.
She finally finished, and put the last pan on the rack to dry. She dried her hands on the towel, and tried to ignore the pleasure the rough fabric gave her as it rubbed her skin.
She turned back around, hoping he'd disappeared and knowing full well that he hadn't.
"Did that last pan do something to offend you, Belle?" his words were light, casual, and belied by the low, intimate tone his voice had taken.
She refused to react to that tone, even as the perpetual ache between her legs intensified.
"N-no." she shook her head, harder than she meant to, "I was just…"
"Being thorough." He nodded, smirking, "I know."
"Well, it's important," her voice wasn't her own: it had taken a weak, dreamy, distracted tone she didn't even recognise, "You know, to be thorough."
"Indeed, it is," he nodded, "In all things." He looked her up and down, his gaze so purely physical that it sent her skin tingling from the roots of her hair to the soles of her feet.
She blushed, and nodded.
He stood up, and approached her, his smirk wide. He gently took her hand in his, and the cool, almost scaly skin of his fingers rubbed hers in the best possible way.
The first touch of his hand was like magic. But when he leaned down and kissed her, she felt her whole body set on fire.
His kiss was languid, lazy, but as in all things thorough. He explored every inch of her mouth; he nibbled her lower lip with his sharp teeth and then soothed it with his tongue.
She felt herself fall apart in his arms, clinging to him as he turned her to a melty, liquidy puddle.
Words weren't her strong suit at that moment.
His hand let go of hers, and joined the other roaming all over her body. They ran up her arms, leaving trails of fire across her flesh, one coming up to thread through her hair and hold her mouth against his, gently massaging her scalp.
The other was more adventurous, venturing down to the ties on the front of her dress, undoing them one by one until the front fell open and he could get his hands under her blouse, to cup her breast and flick at the nipple with his sharp fingernail, the pain so exquisite that she broke away from his kiss and cried out.
"What do you want, Belle?" he leaned into her ear, his words an exact echo of the ones in her dream, and yet the effect was so much more powerful.
Take me, take me, take me, her mind screamed, but she couldn't form the words. She trembled in his arms as his clever fingers continued their work, pinching and rubbing her breast, hardening her nipples into little stones.
"Just tell me what you want," he crooned into her ear, his breath hot on her skin, "And I can give it to you."
She couldn't form words, she just clung to him and whimpered as he kissed down her throat, sucking and nibbling on the pulse point. She was mindless, the pleasure so strong she was certain she would fall over the edge at any moment, the result of three days of delicious torture.
"I think you want me to have my way with you." He said, "I think you need me inside you more than you need to breathe."
She nodded, her eyes pleading, begging him to do just that.
He moved his hand from her hair and down, shifting her skirt up and moving his hand underneath. He raised his eyebrows at her, and she blushed. For the past few days she'd gone without her usual bloomers and stockings, the feeling of them on her skin too much for her to bear under the circumstances.
All that stood between his long, clever fingers and her dripping core were her panties, and they were gone in moments. At the first touch of his finger against her centre, she screamed out, the sensation so powerful she could hardly stand it.
He shot her a glance that was half amused and half aroused, and removed his hand from under her skirts. She moaned at the loss, her eyes squeezed shut and fingers gripping the sideboard with white knuckles.
She barely had time to register the loss of pressure before he was back, right in her centre, his cock pushing through the wetness to thrust up inside her, so hard and deep and perfect that she couldn't even scream. Her mouth fell open in a silent 'o' shape as he took her hard against the counter, encouraging her to wrap her legs around his hips, so that he could thrust even deeper inside her.
She came in moments, the pressure built to such a degree that she was overcome with the pleasure bursting through her. He held her up as she rode out her orgasm, clinging to him for dear life.
She was dimly aware that he hadn't stopped, that he was still moving inside her, building to his own climax. She smiled and looked at him, the spell-induced haze having cleared, and kissed him.
She'd regained some control over her body, now, so she threaded her fingers through his hair and took control of their kiss, battling his tongue and working his mouth as thoroughly as he had hers. She could feel him getting closer, his thrusts becoming erratic, his cock impossibly hard.
She grinned, an idea taking root, and leaned in so her lips were at his ear, "Come for me, Rumpelstiltskin."
That seemed to be the last straw: he came, hard, groaning into her smiling mouth as she kissed him again.
They stayed there for a few seconds, as Belle tried to come to terms with what just happened. She was terrified, for just a moment, that they'd just done something they could never take back, that would destroy the relationship they'd built and make things difficult and awkward.
Then he grabbed her hips and set her back on the ground, moving backwards and sorting himself out with a smile on his face, "There. Spell broken."
Her mouth fell open, embarrassment rendering her speechless for a moment, "You knew?"
"I'm old, dearie, not blind. You were getting off from washing dishes: clearly, you were under a spell." She whacked him with a dishtowel, but he kept laughing at her.
"You couldn't just tell me?" she demanded, "Instead of just…"
"Having my way with you?" he smirked, "Trust me, watching you try to hide it for days before breaking the spell was much more fun."
"For you, maybe." She grumbled.
"Don't deny it, dearie: you had fun, too."
"That was the only way to break it?" she asked, refusing to admit that yes, fun didn't begin to cover it.
"All spells can be broken," he shrugged, "you were just lucky I knew how to break it." He gave her such a cocksure grin that she had to hit him again, and he walked out still laughing at her.
They decided never to admit that that was the day they fell truly in love. Or that they never stopped needing each other every day for the rest of their lives.