I'm so glad that you guys seem to like Belle's story- the princes Bride is one of my favourite movies.
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Chapter Four: As Long As I Say Please.
Belle Gold rarely dreamed- mostly in her sleep she relived Clara's memories, that night she recalled the day that Clara French became Clara Gold.
The registry office of Storybrooke City Hall was hardly the setting in which Clara French envisioned her marriage taking place. Clara loved the man who was about to become her husband; but knew he didn't love her- not yet.
"Are you ready Miss French?" Raoul asked.
"You might, given the circumstances that is, use my first name." Clara remarked.
"Clarabelle then." The Scotsman shrugged. "Shall we get this over with?"
Clara sighed, disappointed that to him, this was nothing more than a business transaction. "Alright."
Minutes later they were wed by an all but faceless registrar. A few promises that one didn't need to keep, a ring for a ring and unsatisfactory brush of the lips followed by a signature and the wedding was done.
'As long as we both shall live,' Clara mused as her husband led her from the large white building to his Cadillac. At some point in that time Raoul was bound to come to love her.
Rumpelstiltskin stretched luxuriously and his shattered ankle protested the action vehemently, but for once he didn't care. For some reason he was in a stupidly good mood that morning. As he stretched his arm brushed against something warm, soft and solid; the something twitched and grumbled sleepily.
His eyes snapped open as for the memories of the night before came flooding back to him.
Young Henry had brought his birth mother to town and he had met the woman in Granny's Bed and Breakfast- Emma, Miss Swan, the saviour. Meeting Miss Swan had freed him from the haze of vague false memories provided by the curse. The return of his memories had caused a boost in his loathing of Madam Mayor- after all the heartless bitch had lied to him; lied to him about Belle's suicide.
Rumpelstiltskin rolled onto his side and his heart leapt at the sight of his true love lying beside him. She looked so beautiful, lying opposite him with her hair splayed across the pillow like a halo. For the first time since striking the deal which had brought them together they had shared a bed, just sleeping, rather than what they both wanted to do- but there was time for that. He leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss to her brow before moving to the bathroom to go about his morning ablutions.
He found Belle, wearing nothing but one of his little worn T-shirts, when he went down for breakfast- she had been wearing a pair of flannel pyjama bottoms with the shirt last night, and he thought that she looked better without them. Her hair was delightfully mussed, making her look, if anything, even more beautiful than usual as she flitted about the kitchen setting the table.
"Morning," she smiled brightly, not the polite quirk of the lips she had given him every morning until just yesterday. "Excellent timing, breakfast is just about ready."
"Thank you, my love."
Normally, Raoul Gold went to the diner on his way to the shop, but Rumpelstiltskin was back in charge and Belle was real and alive and in the same room as him. He truly would be damned if he didn't spend as much time as possible with his true love. He sat down and waited for her to join him. The breakfast was a throwback to their shared days in the Dark Castle- porridge with mashed blackberries mixed in.
"Ah my favourite." As it had been Bae's when blackberries were in season.
"I know," she smiled, lifting her dish up as she had the first time they shared breakfast in the Dark Castle.
"Your breakfast Rumpelstiltskin," Belle smiled placing the bowl of porridge before him. She'd been in service of him for nearly a month and he barely saw her- what was the point of having a beautiful caretaker if he couldn't enjoy the view.
"Not eating dearie?" he asked, noting the lack of the second bowl- and blackberries.
"Oh, mine's down in the kitchen," she replied. "I'm just going to get it now."
"There's no need," Rumpelstiltskin waved his hand and summoned a second bowl of porridge, adding mashed blackberries to both. "Won't you join me dearie?"
"If you wish."
"Let's add it to your list of duties shall we?" the Dark One looked at her over steepled fingers, speaking before he could stop himself. "You will take all your meals here with me while I'm home."
"Very well," Belle's surprise was tangible, but she joined him at the table.
He picked up his spoon but before he could take his first bite of the delicious smelling porridge he noticed her lifting her own dish and raised it in his direction as if in a silent toast before bringing it to her lips.
"What are you doing?" it was a familiar habit, it had been one of Bae's- he was surprised that this well-bred young lady had habits in common with the son of a lowly craven spinner.
"I hate eating Porridge with a spoon." she shrugged, attempting nonchalance but a slight blush spread across her nose and cheeks. "Before my mother died she and I would always toast each other before drinking our porridge."
"And you thought you'd reprise the practice," he smirked. "Very well dearie."
He put his spoon down and lifted his bowl. Belle copied him and they toasted one another before drinking the contents.
"Penny for your thoughts, love?" Rumpelstiltskin asked, lowering his bowl. Belle had something on her mind and he wanted to know what.
"How come you didn't remember who you were until last night?"
"Ah, that's quite simple," he told her. "Do you remember the collection of bottled emotions I kept in my work room?"
"Well, it just so happens that Henry's birth mother came from the same true love which I used in the curse's creation. Mere days before the curse was cast I struck a deal with her mother to find out the child's name, given that she is destined to go up against Regina at some point in the next few years. After I was left alone once more with the name, I worked it into the loophole I created- allowing me to escape the memory part of the curse once I heard her say her given name."
"Yeah, Emma," he nodded, glancing up at the kitchen clock, he rose. "Well pet, I really must be going."
Belle followed him to the front door and placed a hand on his shoulder before he could leave. "Wait a second."
He turned to look at her and was rewarded with a kiss.
"I love you Rumpelstiltskin." she told him when she pulled away.
"And I you," he nodded, caressing her cheek. "I'll see you later."
"See you later."
He slipped out of the door and once it was closed behind him Belle headed upstairs to prepare for a morning at the library.
Belle arrived at the library to find her co-worker Sarah Flowers already logging the computers on. Sarah was a beautiful blonde with a penchant for horses; who once upon a time had been named Buttercup.
"Morning Sarah," she smiled.
"You're late Clara," Sarah remarked. "Trouble with the dragon?"
"He's not a dragon Sarah." Belle narrowed her eyes at the blonde, as she passed her to put her bag under the desk and swept off to return the few returns left out from the night before to their proper places.
The morning passed by uneventfully, Belle spent the morning reading and Sarah sat filing her already perfect nails until, when Belle was halfway through the library's little used copy of Les Miserables when a young blonde man entered. Robbie West was a student at the community college, who worked part time at the Equestrian Centre to help pay his course fees- Sarah fancied him, but he never seemed to notice her.
Robbie came to a halt in front of Belle. "Morning Mrs Gold, I've come to return the book I borrowed."
"Ok," Belle nodded, taking the book, The Lord of the Flies and scanned it then slipped it into the returns basket.
As Robbie left Sarah let out a deep sigh. "Do you think he'll ever notice me?"
"I'm sure he will." Belle assured her, as soon as the bloody curse was broken.
Belle's shift was coming to an end, before she packed up for lunch she was just re-shelving the morning's returns when she heard Sarah gasp. She tilted her head, listening for some indication of the source of her shock. It came in the steady tap of a cane on the tiled floor. She smiled- things really were changing in Storybrooke. Rumpelstiltskin had never, not once in their twenty-eight year sojourn in this world, set foot in the library.
"Mr Gold?" Sarah gasped again. "How… uh, how can I help you sir?"
"I'm not here to borrow a book, dear" her spouse replied. "I came to see my wife, or has she already stepped out to lunch?"
Belle set the last book back on its shelf and slipped into view, schooling her features into a surprised smile. "Raoul? What on earth are you doing here?"
"Slow morning at the shop, love," he replied, grinning. "So I thought that I'd pay my favourite wife a visit- perhaps take her out to lunch."
Belle arched one playful eyebrow, her blue eyes meeting his brown ones which softened almost imperceptibly.
"I thought I was your only wife," she quipped, making him laugh. "But lunch sounds lovely. Granny's?"
"As you wish." Rumpelstiltskin nodded, offering his arm.
Pausing only to collect her things, Belle accepted her husband's arm, noticing, to her amusement, the look of deja vous on her blonde friend and colleague's face.
"What?" Rumpelstiltskin asked, noticing her smile.
"Oh," she replied, her voice full of laughter. "News of our little lunch date will most likely be all over town by tomorrow- Sarah is quite the gossip."
Rumpelstiltskin let out an affected sigh. "Alright. I suppose if the price for a little mischief is to fuel the town's rumour mill then I suppose we should make it worth their while."
With that, he brought them to a stop in the doorway, remaining in full view of Sarah, and leaned in to kiss Belle full on the lips, a gesture to which after a brief pause she responded with equal further.
Sarah watched as Mr Gold kissed Clara before whisking her out of the library. It was so out of character for the man to display affection, even to Clara. It seemed that the mysterious Miss Emma Swan's sudden arrival in town was just the start of a series of changes.
They'd finally fixed the clock which had been struck at quarter past eight for what seemed like forever. Mr Gold appeared to have decided that he loved his wife. She wondered what the next change would be- maybe Robbie would finally notice her…
Sarah sighed wistfully and shook her head to clear it. She supposed that it was a good thing that her scary landlord was treating his wife like he should, maybe he'd loosen up a bit when it came to collecting his rent.
There was something intensely gratifying about seeing Madam Mayor being brought down a peg or two. Rumpelstiltskin stood in the shadows at the edge of her garden, watching her attempt to clean up the damage that Miss Swan had caused to her beloved apple tree.
"What a mess," he remarked, making his presence known as he stepped into the dimly lit garden.
"Not for long," Regina shrugged, straightening up to face him. "What can I do for you Mr Gold?"
"I was just in the neighbourhood, thought I'd pop by before I went home to my lovely lady wife," he told her, enjoying the look of shock on her face as he spoke of his wife with affection. "Lovely to see you in such high spirits."
"Well, it's been a good day," she smiled. "I've just rid the town of an unwanted nuisance."
"Emma Swan?" she wasn't going anywhere, according to his most reliable source she was looking for a place to stay, but dear old queenie didn't need to know that, yet. "Really?"
"Yes, I would imagine that she's half way back to Boston by now."
"I wouldn't bet on that, I've just seen her strolling down Main Street with your boy," the boy wasn't hers at all; he was Miss Swan's, as soon as she was ready to accept him. "Thick as thieves they looked."
"What?" Regina hissed.
"Perhaps you should have come to me, if Miss Swan is a problem you can't fix I'm only too happy to help," the little princess to break the curse so he could find his boy, his wife was on Emma's side, and he was on Belle's- for appearances sake he needed to appear neutral until Emma started seeing what was right in front of her eyes. "For a price of course."
"I'm not in the business of making deals with you anymore," Regina told him, stoutly.
He feigned ignorance. "To which deal are you referring?"
"You know what deal."
"Oh right yeah, the boy I procured for you, Henry," he'd have to find a way to reward the woman who'd brought the right lad to town. "Did I ever tell you what a lovely name that was, however did you pick it?"
Regina's dark eyes narrowed, suspiciously. "Did you want her to come to town? You wanted all of this to happen didn't you? Your finding Henry wasn't an accident was it?"
"Whatever do you mean?" Rumpelstiltskin asked; he was Mr Raoul Gold in this world; she wasn't to know that he'd regained his memories of their world only last night. And here in this land without magic, coincidences were wont to happen.
"Where did you get him?" Regina asked; trying to keep her voice calm. "Do you know something?"
He slid a confused frown into place. "I have no idea what you're implying madam mayor."
"I think you do," she countered. "Tell me, who is she, this… Emma Swan?"
"I would say..." he said, carefully. "That you think you know exactly who she is. Now, my Belle will be wondering where I am, I really must be going."
"Aye, short for Clarabelle, everyone calls her Clara, so I thought I'd go for something different," he shrugged, knowing that Raoul Gold wasn't in love with his wife, and had no pet name for her, until now.
"I'm sure your wife can wait," Regina protested. "Tell me what you know about Miss Swan."
"I'm not going to answer you dear," Rumpelstiltskin told her, stooping to pick up one of the fallen apples. "So I suggest you excuse me… please."
He took a bite of the apple, and stepped around her, relishing the vaguely horrified look on the former Queen's face.
Next time: Belle has a surprise for her husband and Emma Swan begins to put down roots in Storybrooke.