One evening, Rumplestiltskin returned home with a ginger colored kitten in the pocket of his cloak. He carefully took the tiny thing out and set it down on the table.
His housekeeper, Belle, heard the door open and she hurried out to the main room to meet him and take care of whatever odds and ends he had come home with today. She started to greet him, and then let out a little squeak.
"What is it dearie?" he blinked at her, and then followed her gaze to the kitten on the table, "Ah I see. We'll need to feed this one tonight."
Belle's eyes sparkled as she scooped up the kitten. "He's adorable!"
"It's just staying the night," Rumplestiltskin informed her as he hung up his cloak.
"Just the night?" she scratched the kitten behind the ears, resulting in a deep throaty purr.
"Then it's going to its new home," he responded.
She sat down in one of the chairs, continuing to cuddle the kitten, "Where did you get such an adorable animal?"
"From a farmer with cows that used to have sour milk," the man replied, "I fixed the milk in exchange for the cat."
"Where is it going?"
"To a young woman who is about to marry a miller," he replied, "Her future son is going to be in need of a clever cat." He gently took the cat out of Belle's arms, "And you are going to be a clever cat."
"Then I suppose I should feed it," Belle nodded, taking the cat back into her arms and going into the kitchen. The cupboards in the kitchen always seemed to be stocked with whatever she wanted to make. Although in the four months since she had been here, she had stopped being shocked by magic.
Rumplestiltskin sat down at the table and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally he called out for her.
Belle poked her head into the room. "Yes?"
"Dinner?" he asked.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, "I'm sorry! I didn't know when you would be home, so I waited. I'll get it going now."
Rumplestiltskin chuckled and went upstairs for a few minutes.
He was in the midst of paging through an old book that he had 'borrowed' from an old hedgewitch the next village over, when he heard Belle cry out fearfully.
Dropping the book, he darted down into the kitchen to see Belle looking… not particularly in distress.
"What happened?" he asked.
"A mouse," she giggled sheepishly, "It ran across my foot. It startled me. But look…" She pointed to the kitten, who was standing rather proudly over the dead mouse that he had deposited at Belle's feet. She crouched down and gave the kitten a bet, "Good kitty. Whoever is getting you will be getting a great mouser." She looked up at Rumplestiltskin, "You said he's going to a mill?"
"Yes," the other man nodded, "I told you that it was a clever cat. What is that smell?"
Belle gasped and rushed over to the oven, opening it. Dark smoke billowed out. "Oh no!" she cried out, "It's burned."
"What was it?" he asked.
"Apple pie," she said sadly.
"Let me see?" he went over to it, looking into the oven and taking out the burnt pie. "Hmm. That probably would have been good."
"I am sorry about that," she said softly.
He held up the pie and blew on it gently. A fine black powder drifted off it, floating off and dissolving into the air. "It looks fine to me."
"You saved it," Belle grinned, taking the pie from him.
"Now," Rumplestiltskin smiled, "Dinner?"
"Yes, of course," she said, "I'll bring it out. Everything is ready."
During dinner, Rumplestiltskin felt something on his feet, and looked down to see the cat looking up at him with big eyes.
"You did feed it, right?" he asked Belle.
"Of course I fed him," she nodded.
He chuckled. "Go on with you," he addressed the cat, "You'll get nothing from me."
Dinner was quiet, and Rumplestiltskin enjoyed his meal. He also enjoyed the quiet, as he suspected that it was not going to last. He could tell by the way that Belle kept looking at him, and then quickly looking away that she was about to say something. And he had a strong suspicion on what it was going to be.
"Why can't we keep him?" her words tumbled out all in a rush.
"Because he is promised to another," he said simply, "I thought I made that clear."
"You did, I'm sorry," she answered.
Rumplestiltskin gave a nod. "That's settled then." And he went back to his pie.
"But I would like to have a kitten," she said, "A different one."
He blinked, "Whatever for?"
"As a companion," she replied.
"Just another mouth to feed," he huffed.
Belle didn't quite snort at that. "It isn't as though we are in need," she pointed out.
"And more work."
"For me," she replied, "I'm the one who does all of that around here anyway."
"Exactly dearie," he said, "I'm thinking of you."
"It wouldn't be a problem," she said, "And it would keep me company when you are gone. It gets lonely in here when you are gone."
"As if you mind when I'm not here," he snorted.
"And what if I do mind?" she retorted.
He looked almost surprised. "You do?"
Belle gave a shrug. "Either way, a cat would be good company."
"And where exactly are you going to find a cat anyway?"
"Well that would be up to you," Belle replied, "Maybe the same farm you got this one from?"
"Wait a moment," he held up his hand, "I am supposed to fetch you a cat?"
"I can't leave the estate, remember?" she smiled.
"Cats are nothing but trouble."
"Trouble?" Belle repeated, "Cats are many things, but they aren't trouble."
"That's matter of opinion. Anyway, I won't have time. I'm very busy, after all."
"We're done," he stood up, leaving the table and making his way up the stairs.
Later that night, Rumplestiltskin was at his wheel when the kitten walked into the room. It sat down next to him and looked up at him intelligently, giving a meow.
"I'll get you to your new home tomorrow," he told the kitten, "You'll like your new family."
The kitten trotted over to the door and mewed.
"Oh don't mind Belle," Rumplestiltskin dismissed, "She's being over dramatic. She'll get over it."
The cat seemed to glare at him and meowed accusingly.
He tutted. "That's not very nice. You'll need to learn some manners. Anyway, you will have more important things to do than keep her company all day."
The kitten seemed to think this over, and then trotted back over to the spinner, sitting down. It dozed off quickly, as babies are like to do, listening to the rhythmic sound of the wheel. Humming softly to himself, the spinner forgot all about the cat, until suddenly it was right there under his feet, tugging at the finished thread, trying to pull it off the bobbin.
"Stop that!" he scolded the cat, which did not stop. He stopped spinning, slowing the wheel with a hand, and grabbing the thread from the cat with the other.
Thinking that this was an exciting new game, the cat growled softly, catching the end of the thread in it's teeth and pulling. Rumplestilstskin gave an all-mighty-yank and pulled the thread away from the kitten, quickly balling it up out of reach.
"Trouble," he muttered, "Cats are nothing but trouble."
The kitten chose to respond by jumping up into the spinner's lap, purring loudly. He held it in place with a hand while he moved his spinning out of reach in the other.
"Belle!" Rumplestilstkin yelled, "Come here!"
He had to admit, he wasn't entirely shocked when she didn't come running in. She was still sulking. The spinner sighed and absently scratched the cat behind the ears.
"She wants a cat," he sighed, "A furry thing to get into my spinning and get in the way."
Three days passed. Rumplestiltskin had taken the kitten to its new home, just as he had said he would. He told the young woman to treat the cat well, and it would serve her well in the future. She was properly grateful, and he was pleased with himself.
Belle, on the other hand, was not happy. She had not spoken a word since that dinner three nights earlier. The first day, Rumplestiltskin had told her that she was welcome to go on sulking if it pleased her - it didn't bother him a bit.
"I know what you're doing dearie," he said one day at dinner, "And it's not going to work."
Belle huffed, got to her feet and stormed into the kitchen, where he could hear her rattling around.
He followed her into the kitchen. "Stop."
She stopped rattling around, but she did not turn to look at him.
"Come with me. Please."
The 'please' caught her attention, and she turned around. He indicated that she should follow him, and then walked out of the room. Half out of curiosity, Belle followed him over to his wheel. She almost huffed when she saw where he led her. He was probably just going to tell her that he wanted more straw.
"Look," he directed.
Belle looked at the wheel, not entirely sure what she was looking for. The bundles of straw. The neat coiled skeins of golden thread. The knotted mess of gold thread on the table. That didn't fit.
She picked the mess off the table and looked at it.
"I should have brought home a clever dog," he decided, "Or a bird. Or a lizard. Or a fish. But cats…"
Wordlessly, Belle started to untangle the mess. She tried to keep her expression blank, but inwardly, she was trying not to laugh. What a perfectly… well… ordinary… objection.
"Cats are trouble. You see?"
She gave him a glare.
"You're perfectly welcome to think me a monster," he told her, "Most people do. But this is different."
His little display with the wheel didn't seem to improve things. Belle still wasn't talking to him. From the kitchen, she could hear the usual clicking of his wheel, which only served to annoy her.
For his part, he was glad to spin in peace. He certainly wouldn't have any peace with a kitten underfoot. He settled into his usual spinning trance, so he didn't notice right away that an odd smell was coming from the kitchen.
Then suddenly he sniffed the air. It smelled like something was burning. He sprang to his feet and hurried into the kitchen.
She was calmly at the sink, washing up some dishes.
He blinked at her for a moment, and then rushed over to the oven, opening the door and letting out billows of black smoke. He coughed, and put out the fire in the oven. The windows in the kitchen flew open.
"What in the world are you making?" he demanded.
Belle, unsurprisingly, remained silent.
"Well, whatever it was, it's burnt now," he replied, dissipating the smoke.
She didn't turn back to him, a small smirk on her face. 'Fix that one, magic man.'
He turned back to her, now that the kitchen was cleared of smoke and the charcoaled remains of what might have been a pie was no longer on fire.
"Were you trying to burn the estate down?" He half growled at her.
She just shrugged.
Rumplestiltskin crossly took her by the shoulders and turned her to face him. "You don't want to do that, dearie. You live here too, after all."
She just glared at him mutinously.
"A cat will get into my spinning," he told her firmly, "And I cannot have that."
In response, Belle shoved something to his chest. He automatically let go of her to catch it. The girl pulled away and stormed out of the kitchen.
He opened his hand to see a bundle of golden thread. Belle had untangled it and wound it up neatly. It was still a bit worn, but it was serviceable.
"I am not going to take care of it," he spoke up suddenly.
She stopped and turned back to him.
"It is your cat. You have to look after it. And keep it out of my spinning."
Rumplestiltskin was gone all the next day. This wasn't that unusual. Belle just went about her business. But when he was still gone the day after, she had to admit she was a bit curious.
The sun went down, and she was just getting ready for bed when she heard the door open.
"Belle?" came a familiar male voice.
She made her way downstairs to see Rumplestiltskin in his travelling cloak, carrying a basket. "Ah good, you're still up." He greeted her.
She just nodded, going to take his cloak.
"Leave it," he said, shrugging her off and handing her the basket, "Take care of this instead."
Belle blinked and took the basket, opening the lid. A tiny cat blinked up at her. The woman let out a gasp, and then looked to Rumplestiltskin.
"It's all yours," he told her, "See that you take care of it."
"I will," Belle whispered. It was the first time that he had heard a word out of her in nearly a week.
"Good," he headed towards the stairs, "And keep it away from my spinning!"
"I'll try," she said, "But I promise that I'll untangle anything."
"Wait…" she followed him up the stairs. He stopped and turned back to her. She caught up with him and gave him a light kiss on the cheek. "Thank you."
The next morning, Belle was awoken by her new kitten crawling on her and demanding to be fed. Laughing, she got up and fed him before making breakfast for herself and Rumplestiltskin.
Over breakfast, he told Belle that he would be going out again soon, probably for several days. She had long since learned not to ask him where he was going. He would never tell her, and she suspected that if she knew, she wouldn't like the answer.
"That's alright," she said cheerfully, "I've got little Bae to keep me company when you go out."
There was silence for a moment. Rumplestiltskin almost looked like she had just slapped him. "What did you say?"
"I've got little Bae to-"
"Who?" he interrupted.
Belle looked down at the cat in her arms, confused.
"You named your cat…"
"I saw the name written on a book-"
"Where?" he demanded.
"In… in the spare room…" she took a step back from him, "But I didn't take anything from there! I was just dusting."
"You can't name your cat," he said firmly, "I cannot be hearing that name every day."
She blinked, not only at his sudden change in temper, but at the pain in his eyes. "Alright," she yielded, "I will think of something else."
"Good," he nodded, standing up, leaving his breakfast half finished, "I have things to do." With that he strode off, leaving Belle and her cat standing confused in the kitchen. A few minutes later, she heard the familiar whirring of the wheel.
"I wonder what that was about," she asked the cat, who, predictably, did not answer, "Well, what else shall I call you?"
The kitten squirmed, so she set him down gently on the ground. Since her new pet was occupied, she went about cleaning up the kitchen. The kitten found a sunny patch and started pouncing on dust particles, or some other invisible thing that only the cat could see. Belle laughed lightly, watching his antics. The sunlight made the tan on his coat glow faintly the color of Rumplestiltskin's thread.
"Goldspun, I think," she told the cat, "What do you think of that name?"
The kitten turned to her and gave a meow, coming over and nuzzling her gently.
"Goldspun it is then," she smiled, "I don't think he can have any objections to that."
"Objections to what?" came a voice from the doorway.
"I'm going to name my cat Goldspun," Belle informed Rumplestiltskin.
"Goldspun?" he repeated and then chuckled, "Alright. That name will do. I hope that you are happy with him."
"I am," she replied, "I am very happy with my little Goldspun."
"Good," he nodded, "Just keep your Goldspun away from this goldspinner."