Author's note: Thanks for reading! This is my fourth oneshot for Rumpelstiltskin/Belle (the third to take place in the fairytale world). I hope you enjoy it. Please review! If you like it, please take a look at my other work.

Belle served the plate of food to Rumpelstiltskin and was about to take her seat at the opposite end of the table when he called out,

"Oh dearie!" Belle turned back around with a polite smile.

"Yes?" There was a mischievous twinkle in his eyes that for some reason amused Belle; she wondered what he had in mind. Slowly Rumpelstiltskin pointed towards a cabinet across the room and nodded towards it.

"Go to that cabinet. That's right. Now open it up. On the top shelf, yes that's right, take down the bottle you see front and center of all the rest. Then grab two of the glasses on the bottom shelf and bring them all here."

Belle grabbed the bottle and glasses as requested and shut the cabinet doors. As she made her way back to the table, Rumpelstiltskin rose to meet her with a grin. He delicately snatched the glasses from her and took the bottle as well, popping out the cork smoothly. Holding the bottle with only three fingers, he quickly poured wine into the two glasses, smiling in his regular odd way all the time.

"There we are, dearie!" he exclaimed, holding out a glass to her graciously. With a bow of the head, Belle accepted the drink.

"Shall I return the bottle to the cabinet?" Rumpelstiltskin waved away her offer.

"Not at all. We may yet have use for it. Just leave it there."

Now, with glass in hand, Belle finally made her way to her own seat. Once she sat down, she and Rumpelstiltskin began to eat dinner together.

Nearly done with her meal, Belle took her first sip of the wine which Rumpelstiltskin had been drinking slowly the whole evening. The sweet taste shocked her tongue delightfully, tickling her throat pleasantly as it trickled down.

"Why, this... is excellent," she complimented honestly, smiling as she took another sip.

Rumpelstiltskin grinned and raised his glass to her; Belle responded in turn and they each took another large gulp of wine.

Ten minutes later, both glasses were empty and the plates were cleared of all food. Rumpelstiltskin stood and grabbed the bottle of wine. Watching him saunter slowly towards her, Belle found herself somehow entranced by his graceful movements. When he reached her, he cocked an eyebrow.

"More wine dearie?" Belle nodded quickly, eager for more of the best-tasting wine she'd ever had. And this was truly saying something. Being the King's daughter, she'd had the opportunity to taste many different wines, those which were boasted to be the sweetest in the kingdom. And though many of them had indeed been tasteful, none compared to the nectar which Rumpelstiltskin had somehow procured and was now sharing with her.

"Where did you get this?" she asked curiously as Rumpelstiltskin returned to his own seat and began to pour himself some more as well.

"Mmmm... from far, far... away!" he replied fancifully, waving his hands about energetically as he beamed teasingly at her. Belle laughed appreciatively at his behavior, making his head turn sharply towards her, surprised. Her laughter sent a tickling warmth through him and he let out his own maniacal giggle, which only made her laugh harder.

When the glasses had once more been drained, Rumpelstiltskin again filled the glasses to the brim with the delectable liquid, and this pattern continued. As the night wore on, Belle found that everything was sweeter and funnier than it had ever been before. There was nothing wearing on her mind, no stress or worry. There was only the fantastically amusing man in the room with her, and then the room itself of course, the room which seemed so colorful and comforting, and occasionally shifted in her vision. This was, of course, not something to be worried about, no indeed! It was fun, it was magical!

Belle giggled again as Rumpelstiltskin watched her amusedly. She'd been like this for nearly a half hour now. She was still seated in her chair, but she was clearly quite drunk, and she was laughing at anything and everything. Just in case anything bad happened, Rumpelstiltskin had left his chair and come to perch next to her, leaning against the table as he remained a spectator to her wonderful antics.

"Butterflies!" she exclaimed suddenly. Rumpelstiltskin raised his eyebrows, smiling politely as though he was curious about what she was saying. And truly he was. He found himself incredibly entertained by this Belle with no sense or inhibitions.

"Butterflies are so... pretty, don't you think?" Rumpelstiltskin gave no reply, but Belle needed none. She continued, "I mean, they just are always around, flapping their wings with the colors and just... so pretty. Well... they don't flap around much anymore, not since I came to a castle."

"Wouldn't that be splendid?" she cried after a moment of silence. This time she looked at Rumpelstiltskin expectantly, her eyes wide and her smile bigger than he'd ever seen it.

"What would that be, dearie?" he inquired, grinning right back at her.

"Butterflies! We ought to keep some butterflies! They could, they could... fly around and be pretty. You need more pretty things in this castle. I mean, it's lovely, but all stone and so big and cold. Don't you think? Butterflies are pretty."

"I've already got the prettiest thing in all the kingdom living here," he responded quietly, his eyes gazing longingly at her. She was indeed the prettiest thing in all the kingdom, the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen. Her perfect brown locks, stunning blue eyes, dazzling white smile. And of course, there was also something so simply radiant about the kindness in that dazzling white smile which he'd never encountered before in any human being.

"Oh, you have?" she exclaimed excitedly, reaching out for him. Finding she could not quite reach that far, she flailed her arm desperately for a moment, trying in vain to grasp his jacket. Still smiling gently, Rumpelstiltskin slowly slid along the edge of the table closer to her, until her delicate fingers clenched the fabric of his sleeve. As she finally succeeded in her endeavor, she beamed.

"You have the prettiest thing?" she repeated, whispering energetically, leaning as far forward towards him as she could while remaining seated in her chair. Rumpelstiltskin merely nodded, meeting her eyes. Slowly, understanding dawned on her. For a moment she looked shocked, and she sat backwards suddenly, her hand dropping from his jacket. Instantly Rumpelstiltskin began to reach out for her hand, afraid he'd frightened her off, but he let his hand drop as she quickly beamed once more and giggled.

"I see now! You meant... mmm you meant me! That's so, so so... so... sweet! Well, thank you, kind sir." Here she rose and began to attempt a curtsy. Predictably, she stumbled and began to fall over with a squeak. Luckily, Rumpelstiltskin was at her side in a flash and he caught her. Slowly he lifted her back to her feet and steadied her there.

Standing straight once more, Belle attempted to take another step forward, succeeding only in stumbling again and giggling as she did so. This time Rumpelstiltskin caught her from the front, his hands holding her waist, and she grasped at his jacket once more as her body rested heavily against his chest. Swallowing nervously, Rumpelstiltskin felt his heart begin to race at her physical contact. Using him as an anchor, Belle got herself back to her feet again and planted herself as firmly as she could; and yet, she did not release her tight grip on him, and she made no move to increase the very minimal distance between them. In fact, she seemed quite content to stand mere inches away from him.

Belle tilted her head up, her big blue eyes staring up into the eyes of her captor. Rumpelstiltskin could barely stand the sight; her innocent beauty only made him want to take her in his arms and hold her close forever, but he could not do that. Still, his racing heartbeat and throbbing pulse weren't doing much to halt the rush of tender desire that her gentle actions sent through him. Perhaps he could just reach down and brush those now slightly ruffled brown strands of hair back behind her ear...

"You know..." Belle's loud outburst stopped his hand immediately, and he dropped it back to his side. "I think...

I think..." she lowered her voice, conspiratorially, "that you... are not as un-handsome, I mean, un, un... unattractive, as you think. I think... you have nice hair." Belle nodded emphatically, failing to notice how Rumpelstiltskin had stopped dead, his eyes widened in shock.

What did she mean by that? Did she truly mean that she wasn't repulsed by his physical appearance? This sickly skin, colored teeth... Did it not bother her? Or was she simply complimenting the one aspect of him that she could even stand?

Either way, Rumpelstiltskin felt as tears fought to well up in his eyes at her honest kindness. Clenching his jaw firmly, he stopped this ridiculousness before it could even begin. He would certainly not cry merely at something the girl said whilst completely drunk.

As he emerged from this internal battle, Rumpelstiltskin was stunned to realize that Belle was even closer to him than she had been before, something he hadn't even believed possible. Her hands released their hold on his clothes and reached up to lope around his neck as she pressed herself flush against him. He could hear his own nervous breaths as she looked up at him, her face only a few inches from his.

"Do you... do you, mmm..." Belle closed her eyes and shook her head a bit, trying to clear her drunken thoughts. " about me?"

The fighting was useless. As her blue orbs stared tenderly into his, he felt the tears well and slowly begin to trickle silent trails down his cheeks. Closing his eyes to avoid her gaze, he whispered,

"Yes. I care very much, dearie." Rumpelstiltskin had no idea what he was doing. Why on earth was he confessing? Was he trusting that she wouldn't remember anything in the morning? Or did he perhaps hope that she would remember? Whatever his motivation, he knew he was being foolish, and he scolded himself, and yet he could not control himself. Though the drink had not affected him, somehow it was as if it had. The mere situation of Belle herself being drunk had made him just as vulnerable and honest as she.

"Don't close your eyes!" she requested forcefully. Startled, Rumpelstiltskin's eyes shot open again and watched as her face shifted from concerned to content.

"Good. Your eyes are... beautiful. You're so brilliant, did you know that? Of course you did, what am I saying. But your eyes are so intelligent and... I love your eyes. I love when you look at me. Just like you are now, I like this. Your eyes are so... nice... Just like you. I like you very much also. You know, sometimes... sometimes I even think... think that I luh... lllove you..."

The drowsiness caused by the drink was becoming clear now. Belle's voice had dropped and her eyes occasionally fluttered to stay open. Her words sent a shock through Rumpelstiltskin and he could hardly contain the roaring beast inside of him that simply wanted to grab and kiss this girl. Could what she said be true? Could she truly love a beast? He wanted this to be true, perhaps more than anything. If it were true, he would do anything, yes anything... But no, she was drunk. That was the reason for her behavior, for her ridiculous words. ...Wasn't it?

"Thank you, dearie," he whispered in return, not trusting himself to say anything more. Hesitantly, Rumpelstiltskin extended a trembling hand and touched her face lightly. When she did not retract immediately, he softly caressed her cheek, brushing his thumb over her soft skin. As Belle looked up at him now, she did not look surprised. Instead, she looked happy.

Smiling, Belle began to lean up, becoming slowly closer to his face. Rumpelstiltskin froze, unsure of her intent. What was she doing? Why was his heart reacting so violently?

Gently, Belle placed a tender kiss on his cheek. The touch sent a spark through his veins, causing his already crazed pulse to quicken once more.

Drawing back, Belle's eyes fluttered closed. As he saw her begin to sway, Rumpelstiltskin forced himself to wake from his shock, and he caught her just as she passed out.

Hefting the young woman into his arms, Rumpelstiltskin began the journey to her rooms where he placed her gently on her bed. Sitting beside her sleeping figure, he reached out to gently trace her face with his fingers again, sure that it would be his last time doing so. Her skin, so pale and soft. So perfect. How could she ever want him? A beast. That's what he was. She had only acted strangely because she was drunk. She'd never be that way with him again.

This knowledge made his heart begin to tear and he felt angry at the injustice of it all. But only for a moment. Gazing down at her features, Rumpelstiltskin felt the anger fade away, to be replaced by sadness and longing. Slowly, he leaned down and placed a tender kiss on her forehead.

Forcing himself to rise from that bed was one of the hardest things Rumpelstiltskin had ever done. As he reached the doors, he turned back to take one last look at his sleeping beauty.

"I... wish you had meant all that you said," he whispered. "I wish that...

"Belle I... you should know that..." Rumpelstiltskin took a deep breath, struggling to keep his feelings under control, trying to gain the courage to say what he wished her to know. She may have been asleep, but perhaps her subconscious would hear and remember it, even if only as a whispering, flickering suspicion. She had to know. Breathing deeply one last time, Rumpelstiltskin raised his head and gazed at the figure lying motionless on the bed.

"I love you," he finally admitted, a sad smile fading from his face almost as soon as it had come. Turning away from the room, Rumpelstiltskin closed the doors behind him.

Belle awoke the next morning, squinting her eyes against the bright sunlight. A quiet brushing sound caused her to roll over in her bed. She was surprised at what she saw there.

Perched on her bedside table was a beautiful blue butterfly, gently flapping its wings. Smiling amazedly, Belle extended a finger towards the creature, and was delighted when it obliged her by alighting on her finger. Belle stared for a moment at the magnificent, colorful creature. Then it took off once more, leaving her finger and soaring out the open window. Belle rushed out of bed and leaned on her windowsill, watching the blue butterfly become smaller and smaller in the distance.

Turning from the window, Belle spun around giddily, her morning already made wonderful by the visit.

When Belle came downstairs to begin her chores, she was smiling and humming a cheery tune. Rumpelstiltskin looked up from his spinning wheel, successfully hiding his anxiety.

"What's got you in such a light mood, dearie?" he questioned. Belle did a spin and faced him, smiling.

"I don't know... I feel as though something wonderful has happened. And this morning when I woke up, there was a stunning blue butterfly in my room. I don't know why, but it was lovely."

"So I take it you... can't remember last night?"

For the first time that morning, Belle paused. Her brow crinkled confusedly as she thought this over.

"No I... No I can't, you're right. What happened?" Rumpelstiltskin felt his heart crumble a bit and he forced a small smile onto his face, trying to mask his true feelings.

"Wine, dearie. Nothing to worry about." Belle seemed surprised.

"Oh yes... that's right, I remember the wine. Well, I feel splendid considering how much I must have had."

"I'm glad to hear it. I would hate for my little worker to be inconvenienced when there is so much work to be done," he returned with a teasing grin. Beaming at him, Belle danced her way out of the room to begin her chores elsewhere, unaware of the broken-hearted man left behind her.