Rating: K+

Spoilers: Skin Deep

Summary: Missing scenes from the Skin Deep episode. 10 chapters - complete. One will be posted each day morning.

In-between the Lines

The Garden

(Set a week after the curtain scene)

Since the curtains had been pulled down, Belle spent a lot of her time looking out of the windows. Sometimes she asked him questions about the countryside or the mountains. Rumplestiltskin found her pining distracting as he tried to spin. He turned the wheel and tried to ignore how she leant against the window and gazed out at freedom. He rather wanted the curtains back up – but would never be so cruel as to do such a thing. Besides he was growing accustomed to the light and she did look so lovely bathed in sunshine.

"What's that bird called?" she asked as he gently teased the gold thread through his fingers as the wheel gently turned.

He glanced up; she had her finger pressed against the window pane, pointing at a tiny, powder blue bird. "A bird," he said dryly.

"What type?"

"One that flies," he quipped, then giggled manically.

She chuckled at his joke and watched the bird skip along the grass. "It's pretty. Bright blue."

Rumplestiltskin glanced up. "Like your dress," he said, eyeing the soft, light blue fabric that complimented her eyes so perfectly.

"Yes," she grinned. "What type of bird?"

"It's a Blue Bilbit", he conceded. When she smiled softly at the tiny bird he added wickedly, "They eat their young."

She gasped. "They do not!"

"No, you're right, they don't," he giggled.

She shook her head at him and chuckled. "You're lucky to have such a glorious garden. Nature is so pretty."

"Have you ever seen a troll, dearie?" he quipped.

Pointedly, Belle replied, "Everything is beautiful in its own way."

He looked away from her then and continued spinning. He tried to ignore her but when she started making a noise he sighed and looked up. She was trying to push the window open.

"The windows are nailed shut," he said.

"You and nails, hmmm?" she shook her head. "Why would you nail them down?"

"So they can't open," he retorted.

"Well that's a shame, its lovely outside. You should let the outdoors in."

"No," he drawled; his accent thick, "the outside belongs outside and the inside belongs inside. Never the twain shall meet."

She frowned at him and unexpectedly he felt his stomach clench. She was disappointed. He licked his lips and searched for words. "You like the outdoors?"

"I like gardens and flowers," she said. Sensing her chance she walked away from the window and stood close to the spinning wheel, so close he could see the fine stitching at the seams of her dress where her bodice gave way to lace around her…

"Maybe we could walk outside?"

He sucked in a breath and felt his blood heat – she wanted to leave.

"I just want to see the garden," she added quickly. "You could give me a tour and then we can come back for tea?"

Slowly his heart stopped thudding and rationality returned. A tour and back for tea. Back being the operative word.

"Come along then," he said with false cheer.

She beamed. "Really?"

He smothered a giddy smile and nodded. "For an hour mind, I'm busy."

"Yes, yes, that's fine."

He led them out of the front door and once she was over the threshold she skipped down the steps and hurried into the beaming sunlight.

He studied her like she was the finest of paintings. Chestnut hair and pale, soft skin. Her eyes were bluer in the daylight and her lips redder. No mortal should be as beautiful as her.

He knew she belonged outside in the daylight, awash with sunlight and surrounded by nature; but he was a selfish man and he wanted to possess her more than he wanted her to be free.

"So," he said clearing his throat, "this is the garden." He made a sweeping gesture with his hand and added, "Flowers, trees, … snails. All rather uneventful."

"It's splendid," she breathed.

She walked a few paces ahead and the more she enjoyed the garden the graver he became. He was torn between enjoying her pleasure and feeling uncharacteristic guilt over her imprisonment from that which she so keenly loved. Maliciously, he crushed snails as he walked. Yet when she turned and smiled back at him his dark thoughts were smothered somewhat and he felt himself smile back weakly.

Feeling more comfortable, he took her around the flower beds and pointed out medicinal plants and named the flowers she deemed 'pretty'. He took her around the orchard and let her take a green apple from one of the low hanging branches. He made a comment about coming back for more another day and she grinned happily at him.

She chattered at him as they walked, he listened to the melody of her voice but paid little heed to her words. He enjoyed her company so thoroughly that just standing in her shadow seemed wonderful. It had been so long since someone had simply talked to him. So long. He found himself yearning for Belle in ways he couldn't articulate or understand. He found himself wanting to embrace her tenderly and just hold her. No, what he really wanted was for her to hold him back. He remembered how she felt in his arms the day she had fallen from the ladder and felt his skin flush.

While he was deep in thought she plucked a daisy out of the loose soil and placed it in her hair.

"How do I look?" she asked.

He thought she looked stunning but merely shrugged in response.

He thought that if they were courting he would take her hand. He might have also made her a crown of flowers. But they weren't courting and she wouldn't want her hand held. Not by him.

"I love gardens," she said. "Every bloom is special, don't you think?"

Rumplestiltskin shrugged. "They're just flowers."

She frowned at him and placed her hand gently on the crook of his arm. "Oh but they are more than that! They are life. No matter what happens to us mortals… or immortals," she added giving him a playful look, "life continues. No matter what problems we face, every summer nature rises and the earth endures."

Her words fluttered past his mind, lost to the wind, as he stared at her pale hand against the silk of his shirt. He looked up to catch her staring at him intently. Clearing his throat he brushed the moment aside. "Flowers die."

"But they're born again."

Her audacity and playfully challenging nature were such a mystery to him. He gazed into her vibrant blue eyes as if searching for the answers to her soul.

"Like a phoenix," she added softly.

Her eyes were as blue as the centre of the most brilliant flame and flecked with green and turquoise hues. Her gaze, unlike all others, was free from judgement, fear and disgust. She stared back at him with a gentleness that made his heart crimp in his chest. He couldn't identify the feeling but he knew it of old. She was making him feel again. Feel something.

"Yes," he replied softly, "I suppose it is."

She smiled then and her eyes deepened in colour. He felt he might like to comment on her beauty but the words were not forth coming. As he delayed her brow furrowed slightly and that tiny, unconscious gesture made him pull back from her and stride off down the path.

She didn't understand what was happening between them and neither did he.

"Where are you going?" she called.

"Things to do dearie, things to do. Deals to make and hearts to break."

Knowing she couldn't be outside without him she ran to catch up with him. "Wait!"

"Come alone, come along."

With her trailing behind him like some menial subordinate they re-entered the castle.

"Thank you," she said, breathlessly, "for the tour." Then she smiled; the smile that made his heart burn uncomfortably in his chest. He resisted the urge to rub the spot, knowing he couldn't erase the feelings deep within.

For a moment he resented her beauty and her bewitching nature. Stepping back from her he re-established the wall between them.

The master said to the servant, "You are never to leave the castle without me."

Belle's smile faded and she nodded.

To Rumplestiltskin's dismay the ache in his heart worsened. He turned and walked away from her and those strange, unnamed feelings he didn't want to lament on.

AN: Sorry for any errors. I have no beta. Please do feel free to volunteer!