True Everlasting Love

Rumpel sat at the spinning wheel. His now withered fingers, perhaps not as skilled as what they once had been, needed an outlet, and his mind needed the peace that only the wheel could provide. Belle moaned out, and his hands stopped, as he turned his head to watch his love. He knew she wouldn't last much longer, and again he felt the hot tears sting his eyes.

He could not help the feeling of overwhelming grief as it gripped his heart. She had been the miracle that had saved the beast, and loved the man with arms wide open. In this world, his Belle had won his heart, but he had carelessly shoved her away to lose her forever, so he thought. In Storybrooke, she had found him again, and he learned the true meaning of what it was to love someone. She had stood by him, together they had found his son, and she had refused to let anything stand in the way of their love. When they again returned to this world it had been to live a life of pure joy, happier than he ever thought possible. She had honored him with her hand, two sons, and a little Belle of their own. Even as the Dark One, only she could bend him, to bring out the best of his humanity.

She moaned out again and he stood up slowly, his once impervious form had grown old, as he hobbled to the bedside. He sat down next to her on the bed, and took her fragile pale hand in his own. He looked down at her, and even though she was ghostly white, her cheeks sunken in, frail and thin, he still only saw his beautiful Belle. Her luscious hair had long ago turned white, and he brushed it back from her face, running his calloused hand down her still soft skin.

Their children grown, with children and grandchildren of their own, they had been left alone, just the two of them, for many years now. He had done everything he could to extend her own life, even to the detriment of his own existence. It was what had aged him so over the last few years, all magic came with a price, and he had paid for it willingly with his own life, without hesitation. He had done all he could to keep his Belle with him, unable to let her go. He constantly questioned his own selfishness, but he couldn't help himself. He could not bear the thought of being without her.

The last year had not been easy, and he had not shared the burden with anyone, especially the children. Belle's mind had left her, and most days she did not know him anymore. It ripped at his heart, and broke his soul. Some days, due to his appearance, she had even feared him, fighting him, when he attempted to care for her. He never let it deter him, even as much as it hurt, and he just tried to get through it as the tears fell. He bathed her, changed her, feed her, and spent the days reading her favorite books to her over and over. He brought his wheel up to their master bedchamber, and would spin trying to ease the pain in his aching heart and find the strength and bravery his Belle would have, if their positions were reversed.

On occasion his Belle would return, if only for minutes, and he clung to those times desperately. She would worry over him and ask about the children, she would profess her love for him, and beg him to just let her go. She did not want to be a burden to her one true love. The moment would pass and he would once again be left alone, with just the shell of his beloved. The last time had been three months ago, and he was afraid she was gone forever, but he would wait, pray, and love her to the end. He had considered her request many times, he could easily end her suffering, but could not bring himself to do it, he needed her, he loved her, and he could not let her go.

"Rumpel," she whispered as she squeezed his hand.

He looked up at her face to find her staring at him as he was deep in thought. It was his Belle, and he felt his heart soar. He knew that look, not the hollow gaze he usually received. He felt his breath catch and a panic rise, as he trembled, because he also knew this would be the last time they would be together.

Belle could feel his hand shaking, and she squeezed it tighter. She gave him a small smile, and he could only see the young girl from long ago that he had brought to his dark castle, forever. It really had been, forever.

"It's alright baby, how long has it been this time?" She asked.

"Months," he whimpered tears threatening to fall.

"I'm sorry, my love, but we have now, let's make the most of it Rumpel." A tear rolled down her cheek.

"I'm not coming back, my love." She whispered.

"I know." His bravery was starting to fracture.

"How are the children, and my little Belle?"

He tried to smile, but his lip quivered.

"They are all well, and Belle just recently gave birth to her own little girl. She named her Rose, after your mother." Belle's smile widened at that bit of news.

She stared at him, their eyes drinking in each other, and she reached up and stroked his cheek with her cold hand. He closed his eyes at the feel of her touch, nuzzling his rough cheek against her palm, and covered her hand with his.

"I love you Rumpelstiltskin, I have always loved you. I will love you until the end of time, in this life and the next, and the next. You saved me Rumpel."

Rumpel chuckled softly at that.

"My love, you know very who saved whom. My life would have been nothing but darkness without out you. You brought, light, love, hope, and utter joy into my existence. You saved me, dearie, and I will never be able to give you such a gift."

"You have, you gave me the world, your love, and a family. A part of me will always live on through them, I just wish….." She did not finish and just smiled at him and squeezed his hand.

"What love, please," he pleaded with her, "What do you wish for?"

She shook her head no, and looked away from his eyes as they tried to read her thoughts.

He took her chin softly and forced her to look at him, tears in his eyes.

"I would give you all that I am Belle, please tell me, what do you wish for?"

Her expression softened and she took a deep breath.

"We have spent a lifetime together, and have shared almost everything together, except one thing. So many times, I had to stop myself or you in the heat of the moment, the day we were married, the birth of our children, our quiet times together, every goodnight, every good morning, and not one kiss has been shared between us, except for that one special night at the spinning wheel. I can still remember the feel of your lips Rumpel. Tears began to stream down her face. I wish I could have one last kiss from you before I go."

Rumpel stood up, and lifted the covers to slide into bed next to his wife. At her side he leaned over her, pushing back a lock of her hair. He looked into her eyes filled with all the love of a lifetime, and lowered his lips to kiss hers softly. She brought up her hand to feather it through his hair, as their lips parted and his tongue touched hers. The kiss deepened, and they both felt complete and unconditional love. Rumpel felt his body began to change, painfully, the sands of time blowing across his feeble form. Time stopped for them, an eternity of longing for this moment finally fulfilled. Finally breathless they pulled apart slightly and Rumpel rested his forehead against her, as they breathed each other in. She looked at Rumpel, suddenly frightened at his haggard appearance, ages older than what she had seen him as in Storybrooke.

"Rumpel," she whispered.

"It's alright love, I do not want to live without you, and we can now go together, forever. I love you my Belle. I have always loved you, and I will never stop loving you."

"Oh Rumpel I love you too, so much, my husband, my life. Please just hold me, never let me go Rumpel, I'm so scared." Tears broke her voice, as they fell from her eyes, and he kissed her again.

"Don't be afraid my love, I am here with you, and I'll never leave you alone." He whispered against her lips.

He felt a stabbing pain in his chest that made his breath catch, as he touched his lips to hers once more.

He moved from off of the side of her body and lay down next to her. They turned on their sides spooning, as they had slept every night for as long as the two could remember. He held Belle tightly in his arms, as she placed her hands on his snuggling closer. He smiled, content, for the first time in a long time, and so did she.

"Goodnight my love, I love you." Belle whispered.

"Goodnight love, I love you too." Rumpel whispered.

They lay in each others arms, and the night passed silently. Dreams of a life of memories, love, laughter, happiness, joy. She passed quietly, her breathing stilled, and him soon after.

Bae enter through the kitchen door, cane in hand, as he made his way to the main hall, and then the bedchamber upstairs. He had woken in the night, and could not shake the feeling that something was wrong. Belle had been getting worse, and if she had passed Papa would need him to lean on, Belle was his whole world. He knocked on the bedroom door with no answer, and peered inside. He instantly felt the coldness of the room, and went to stand by the bed.

He almost didn't recognize his father, but then he realized what had happened. It had been no secret in their household why their parents never kissed. He smiled at the pair locked in love's embrace, as a tear rolled down his cheek. They had been through so much together, in this world and Storybrooke, but they had always had true everlasting love.