A/N: Tumblr made me do this.
The first time the subject of rent was approached it Belle the one to bring it up. Still on shaky ground, caught between the lingering sadness of their falling out and the headiness of their tentative courting, he refused to hear her out when she stated that she should pay rent, as all of his other tenants did. She refused to let the matter drop, however, and decided to wear him down by asking if he was there for the rent every time he entered the library, which was far more often than any other Storybrooke citizen, including Henry Mills.
It became their "Hello", her enquiry as to the rent, till he became faintly miffed by it. Belle could tell, knowing him as she did, and told him with the slightest smirk of triumph that she wouldn't stop asking until he started charging her something.
"I don't need money, my dear," he reminded her, keeping the more fervent endearments in check. He did not want to rush things and spoil their fragile understanding.
"Well, you must need something. I have to give you something," she parried, stepping past him to shelf an old edition of Paradise Lost that he'd checked out nearly a week ago and had just returned. He caught her wrist with his cane-less hand, his fingertips tingling as he raised her hand to his lips and pressed a kiss on her knuckles, his nostrils flaring to catch the scent of her. It soothed him and inflamed him at once.
"There. All paid up," he murmured against her skin before releasing her hand and stepping back, a gentleman through and through. He watched Belle cradle her hand to her chest, her breathing a tiny bit heavier than before. Her eyes were big as they regarded him.
"That's all you require?" she asked, unsure and slightly dazed He nodded, they made small talk and he left. He put off eating for the entire day after that, wanting to keep the taste of her on his tongue.
The second time he "collected the rent" it had been but one week since he had kissed her hand and it was Belle the one to offer him her arm.
"A kiss on my hand seems such a small thing, it can hardly do for the whole month," she reasoned, her eyes intent on his. All too eager to touch her to pass up the opportunity Gold bent slightly and pressed a feverish kiss to her skin, the tip of his tongue peaking to lap at her before he could prevent himself. Still she didn't object, merely brushed the whole incident aside and they continued as they had before.
Three weeks later he peppered the underside of her wrist with open-mouthed kisses and scraped his teeth against her fluttering pulse-point, Belle leaning against one of the stacks for support.
"You raised the rent," she exclaimed, voice hoarse and breathy.
"Life in a cursed town isn't cheap, my dear," he replied, barely composed at all "Everyone must make sacrifices."
Two weeks after that he found himself nudging the crook of her elbow with his nose, inhaling deeply the unique scent of her. Belle sat on the table in the corner, the light of the afternoon sun keeping her half in shadow, her weight supported by a trembling arm as the figertips of the other toyed with wisps of his hair. The height of the table hid his rather shameful state from her heavy-lidded eyes and allowed him to support his weight a little, since his cane had long ago been discarded.
He laved the inside of her elbow with his tongue, a shiver running down his spine at the noise she made- half giggle, half sigh, and all pleasure. She'd let him kiss every inch of her perfect arms, suck at her delicate fingers, and it was no longer enough. He needed a more intimate touch before he lost his mind. "I'm afraid," he cleared his throat, trying to banish the hoarse note, "That I'm going to have to raise your rent, Miss French."
"But Mr. Gold, I'm only a poor librarian," she protested, her eyes sparkling with mirth even as she pouted at him.
"Can't be helped. Cost of living, you understand."
As he spoke he resumed kissing his way up her arm, heading for the tempting curve of her throat, a place she'd not yet permitted him to place his lips since they'd started this little game. Between kisses, he kept talking, "Price of eggs keeps climbing. A man has to make a living."
"But twice in one week?" Belle tilted her head to the side in innocent invitation, "You're a hard man, Mr. Gold."
He smothered a laugh at her double entendre, "Aye. That I am indeed."
Thankfully it was Spring already and the blouse she had one was a flimsy thing, the pearl buttons easy enough to manage. Her throat was bared in seconds and his lips wasted no time on going in for the kill, closing around the juncture between her neck and her shoulder, his entire body tingling with relief. He heard her moan and sigh, her breathing heavy in his ears as her arms came to loosely wrap themselves around his shoulders, fingers sinking into his hair.
"What an obliging tenant you are, Miss French," he whispered into her ear before kissing behind it, feeling her inhale in surprise and tug at his hair.
"I take great pleasure in being responsible and keeping up with my payments," she replied, throwing her head back when he gently bit down on the crook of her shoulder, his tongue laving the spot before he withdrew altogether, combing his hands through his hair to appear presentable before ducking out of the library.
Later he took her out to the only Indian restaurant in town and was as gentleman as ever when in public. Their game did not leave the safety of her library, where Belle was mistress and could control their interactions as she pleased.
Two weeks after that he stepped into the library with the fakest contrite expression Belle had ever seen, the intense, eager imp clearly visible beneath the sheen of the concerned landowner.
"I'm afraid, Miss French, that I've got some bad news," he begun, taking a step forwad and prompting her to take one back "It's come to my attention you never made a deposit when you first begun renting the building," another step, another dodge, a beautiful dance "I will admit it was a gross mistake on my part, one I simply cannot allow to continue uncorrected."
Her back hit one of the stacks just as he lapsed into silence, the small distance between them his concession to her modesty. It was a clear way to communicate he would not go on with their little game if she did not wish it, and Belle saw it immediately She looked down at his hands, clenched tightly around the handle of his cane and her gaze followed the line of his arms till she reached his shoulders, tense under his impeccably-cut suit. Everything about him spoke of need and want yet his restraint was absolute. He would leave her be if she gave even the slightest hint that she did not wish to go on further. Someone who loved power as much as her dear Rumplestiltskin did couldn't have been all that comfortable with the prospect of giving some of it to another, yet he did so with her.
"I see," she said at last, tilting her head up to look at him in the eye "I would hate for it to seem like you give me special treatment. A deposit is a must, then."
It took less than a second for his lips to be on hers, and even less for her mouth to open to his. He groaned, pressing her body firmly against the solid wall of books behind her, feeling every curve of her body against his own, and it was both a relief and a source of the most acute pain imaginable. She tasted like the raspberry sauce of the cheesecake they served at Granny's, and he immediately had a new favourite dessert. He lapped at her, his tongue darting up the roof of her mouth and exploring every hidden crevice, lingering in those spots that made her moan and arch against him.
"Sweetheart," he growled into her mouth, the word affectionate but the tone inhuman, almost angry. Belle felt one of his hands fist into her hair and the other slide from her hip to her upper left thigh, sneaking under her modest skirt and tracing the skin there with the lightest of touches. Her whole body jerked in response, her hands going around his shoulders and slipping into the collar of his shirt, caressing the nape of his neck with her fingernails in a way she knew drove him mad. She loved her independence, and their slow courtship full of new things they learned about each other and tiny baby steps towards a mature and unique understanding of one another, but ever since Rumpletiltskin had first kissed the back of her hand she'd understood that, for them to go slowly and do it right, there needed to be a form of release, or else a strange sort of tension followed them around everywhere. The deeper their emotional intimacy went the more she needed their physical release to be, and she knew he felt the same.
"Rum," Belle's words were slurred, and her accent, usually unnoticeable, was heavy. It drove the pawnbroker wild to know she wanted him as much as he did her, that he might not be the only one daydreaming of the scent of books during the day and tossing and turning at night, eager for a warm body that wasn't there. With Belle he'd grown accustomed to either having her all, day and night, or not having her at all, but this middle ground they had achieved, this being together and yet being apart, was wonderful. She was clearly blossoming in her new-found independence, and he appreciated the freedom to focus his attention in breaking the "new curse" without fearing her dissapointment. And it was rather delicious the way the need to see her and be with her would build up inside him, starting very much like an itch he couldn't scratch till it became distracting and then overbearing, forcing him out of his shop in search of her. For a man who had grown used to either total dissapointment or the exact opposite, the half-pleasure and half-pain of sharing Belle with the rest of Storybrooke was a rather pleasant compromise.
His thoughts halted to a stop when he felt her tongue in his mouth and he dimly wondered how she had gotten his own tongue to retreat from inside her wet heat. He felt her sigh and clutch him closer, her legs hitching around his hips till it was necessary to use the tiniest bit of magic to keep himself upright. His hips thrust against her almost involuntarily and he was half about to apologize before he felt her nails scratch down his back, exquisitely painful even with the fabric of his shirt between them.
"Oh, Gods, Belle!" he parted his lips from her with an agonized moan, his eyes black as they regarded her, from her dishevelled hair to her swollen lips and pleading eyes. The goddess who had been so defiant and brave in her golden gown, and resolute in her pretty blue dress was now vulnerable and open in his arms, unabashedly encouraging the touches of a monster. He went for her throat, using more teeth and tongue than anything to sate himself as well as her. Her hips ground against his, reminding him of the unfulfilled ache that drove his pelvis to find a common rhythm with hers.
"Yes, yes!" she hissed into his ear, bracing herself on his shoulder "Please, Rum, please, don't stop."
He laughed against the crook of her neck, the mere idea of him being able, let alone willing to stop seeming completely ridiculous. But with her assurances as to what she wanted he allowed on of his hands to delve between their bodies, slipping past the now wet silk of her underwear and into her welcoming heat. Her nails dug painfully into his shoulders into response and he marvelled at how much he liked it when she hurt him.
"Belle," he whispered against the skin of her collarbone as he placed biting kisses there, wondering who had unbuttoned her blouse and when "I adore you."
He avoided the word "love", feeling it was her prerogative to introduce it again in their relationship, but whispered whatever other endearments he could think of against her ear as he made her come undone in his arms, feeling her tremble all over as she bit back a cry, a sweet sort of pain reflecting in her features. He came soon after, his moan muffled against her hair and her hands caressing his back in soothing circles.
"I love doing business with you," Belle muttered as she kissed his temple, not seeing the slow, besotted smile as it took over his face. She loved doing business with him. It was a start.
Nearly three weeks later Belle was hurriedly downing the last of her iced tea inside Granny's, trying to put on her cardigan at the same time.
"Where's the fire?" Ruby asked, amused at her friend's rush.
"Rumple is coming by the library to collect the rent and I cannot be late," she explained, a faint blush ghosting over her cheeks, clearly from the way she was moving around, gathering her things as quickly as possible.
"Can't say I blame you for worrying," Granny muttered a few feet away "That old miser is always eager to find any excuse stick it to someone else."
Belle's eyes widened as she coughed up the last sip of her drink, unable to meet anyone eyes as she choked out and incredulous "What?!"
"Yeah, but you mustn't let him get you down," Ruby agreed "If he starts getting difficult you give him as good as you have, okay?"
The librarian nodded, realizing that the only one who knew just how horrible the whole conversation sounded was her.
"Yeah," Grumpy gave his two cents as he collected the lunch orders for his fellow dwarves down the mine "Nail the bastard. It's about time someone does."
"I'll... keep that in mind," Belle smiled, suddenly more than eager to get out of the dinner and, strangely, follow everyone's advice. Maybe later she'd even tell Rumple about the whole conversation. He could use a bit of laughter in his life.