A/N: So after working on this chapter for a week, I finally have an update ready. This is the last chapter of the "Broken" arc, to be immediately followed by a "filler" chapter of Belle and Rumpelstiltskin between "Broken" and "We Are Both." Not sure how I feel about this chapter: I tried experimenting with 3rd person omniscient and am not sure if I like it or not.
Quick Heads Up: Following a suggestion from one of my reviewers, TXJ on , I am going to try to keep this story going throughout Season 2. Personally I am looking forward to writing for episode 2xo4: "The Crocodile." :) Enjoy! ~Kathryn xx
Rumpelstiltskin was spinning at his wheel, losing himself in its rhythmic turning. It was a comfort that he had forgone for the entirety of his time as the slippery pawnbroker/attorney, Mr. Gold. But then, he hadn't needed his old companion as Mr. Gold, aside from two notable and recent incidents.
But now, with Belle alive and real, he may be wanting the ancient spinning wheel more in the coming days. Especially if he continues to hurt her the way he has been their past two meetings. Especially if he forces her away again.
If she even returns to him this time. She had always returned, be it a few hours or nearly 30 years later, but he had never broken a promise of this magnitude to her, let alone done the deed and proceeded to break her heart.
'No, you just bypassed that whole first part,' Rumpelstiltskin thought to himself bitterly.
He knew that he had been lucky she had come back to him at all, especially after their last encounter and how he had left her to the mercy of Regina for all of these years. If he was her, he never would have. Of course he didn't have Belle's bravery nor could he understand (and probably never would) just what it was that had caused the Beauty to fall in love with a monster like him. But he did know that it wouldn't last, True Love or otherwise. It never had for him before, be it Belle or his beloved Baelfire.
The tinkling of the bell at the door of the shop barely registered in his mind and he remained immersed in his thoughts and his spinning until the clearing of a throat caught his attention.
He turned around slowly and his breath caught, his disbelieving eyes taking in the sight before him.
It was Belle. She had once again returned to the monster she loved. But why?
The girl herself was rather nervous; the last time she had returned to him after taking a walk he had cast her out of the Dark Castle. The worst he could do now would be to throw her out of the shop, but it would be enough. She only hoped that no matter what he claimed, he had still changed enough to accept her love this time.
"Hey," was the former imp's response. He mentally cursed himself for the less than "Rumpelstiltskin-like" greeting, but he was still having trouble believing that she was back. Surely she couldn't be that forgiving, could she?
"I, uh, went for a long walk," Belle said quietly, stepping slightly closer to the still seated Dark One.
He turned on his seat to face the woman he loved, guilt and sadness prevalent on his face.
"I thought you didn't want to see me."
"I didn't," she replied. "But I was worried."
'Why did you come back?'
'I wasn't going to. Then, something changed my mind.'
Rumpelstiltskin let out a bitter smile as he recognized the parallels between the past and now. Once again, she had returned to his side even after deciding that she wouldn't. She truly was one of the bravest people he'd met.
"Well, the beast is gone. Regina… lives," he replied, only a little sourly. His head dipped down for a moment before looking Belle in the eyes.
She shifted a bit uncomfortably before asking, "So, you didn't get what you wanted, then?"
He smiled again, this time with a bit more sincerity. He wanted Belle and his son; he wanted them to be a family. Revenge wasn't what he had desired most, but Regina had deserved every bit of it.
"Well, that remains to be seen."
Belle opened her mouth, as if to say something more, when her eyes caught on something small and white on the table behind Rumpelstiltskin. A gasp escaped her throat as she walked over to pick up the little teacup.
"You still have it," she said, a small sob causing her voice to crack a bit. "My chipped cup."
His smile grew and became more loving as he stood up slowly. He reached out to take the fragile cup.
"There are many, many things in this shop," he said, stroking the rim slightly. "But this, this is the only thing I truly cherish."
He looked at her then, saw the hope in her eyes, and, for once, did the brave thing.
"And now you must leave."
Belle's face fell. He couldn't be sending her away again, could he? Not after he had just admitted how important their cup was to him.
"You must leave because despite what you hope… I'm still a monster."
Rumpelstiltskin's head dropped to gaze at the damaged teacup. He refused to watch her leave him again. It would kill him this time.
A delicate warmth descended onto his shoulders, squeezing slightly. He looked up again to see Belle smiling.
"Don't you see? That's exactly the reason I have to stay."
A look of wonder crossed Rumpelstiltskin's face. She wanted to stay. Belle, who should by all rights be running away from him, wanted to remain with him.
"Oh my Belle," he sighed. "My darling Belle. You of all people should know that I'll only hurt you. I won't be able to protect you from the beast within myself."
"I don't believe that." She smiled before wrapping his hands in hers, both sets cradling the precious cup. "If I had any doubts that you love me, this completely disproves them. You love me, whether you like it or not, and I know that somewhere inside you do want to make better choices. I'm not asking you to give up the magic completely, not so soon, but I am asking that you try not to do anything that could risk us.
"I love you as you are, Rumpelstiltskin," she stressed. "No matter what happened last time, I don't want to change who you are. But I couldn't bear it if anyone tried to lock you away or kill you because of some really bad choices. So you see, I can't leave, not without at least making an effort to try and make this work."
Rumpelstiltskin put the little chipped cup back onto the table before pulling his Belle into his arms.
"I can't promise that I'll be able to stop making deals, Belle. Or seeking revenge," he said quietly into her hair. "But I will try; I owe you that much."
"Don't say that," Belle stated, pulling back a bit. "If you do it for me and something happens between us or some other thing happens, you'll stop trying and go back to being the 'monster.' Do it because you want to or not at all."
"Alright, Belle. I'll do my best. And I'm glad you came back."
The Beauty let loose a dazzling smile, one that was partially mirrored on the imp's own countenance.
"So am I. I love you,"
"And I love you too."
And with that, Rumpelstiltskin leaned down and captured his lady's lips for a third, blissful kiss.