A Sense of Fashion

By: TriplePirouette/3Pirouette

Disclaimer: They're not mine.

Summary: Belle and Rum talk about Belle's fashion sense with a very interested third party.


Thanks to 0ceanofdarkness and DDAgent for looking this over for me. :)

For the amazing sixbluemarbles on Tumblr, who has outfitted me and a significant portion of the Belle Clone Army. You are our very own Fairy Godmother, dearie. THANK YOU.

Belle twirled, looking in the mirror with a cheshire cat grin splitting her face. It fit again, and that made her happier than she thought it would. Sure, she wouldn't be able to wear the shoes, she'd somehow gained a half a size since she'd last worn them and they weren't very practical anymore, either, but her favorite blue dress with the burgundy belt fit again.

She couldn't wait until her husband saw her.

She slipped on a pair of black ballet flats and pulled some of her hair back quickly with a clip. A new mom only had so much time for primping, after all.

She nearly skipped down the stairs, her smile still making her cheeks ache in the best way as she rounded the corner to the kitchen. Belle stopped short, a hand to her mouth to stifle the laughter that threatened to erupt. She wanted just one more second to look, to watch, to take it in. Her husband's back was to her, one hand on his cane, one arm holding up their toddler daughter on his hip. He hummed, rocking back and forth as he stared at the toaster and she chewed on the end of his hair.

Their baby girl, however, had other ideas: she squealed with delight and dropped her father's hair in favor of reaching over his shoulder towards Belle. Rum dropped his cane to steady the squirming baby, but smiled when he saw the reason for his daughter's outburst. His voice was soft and warm as he turned, matching the melting look in his eyes. "Look, Violet. Your Mama looks gorgeous this morning."

Belle lifted her daughter from her husband's arms, twirling in a circle before she cuddled the child close to her chest. "Good morning, Violet!" Belle kissed her cheek, accepting a slobbery kiss on hers back. She leaned over, kissing her husband properly. "And good morning to you, too. Up early?"

He picked his cane up and smiled as he leaned it against the counter, pulling browned bread from the toaster and setting in fresh slices. "Couldn't sleep. Spent the morning with one of my favorite ladies."

She chuckled, dancing around the small space with her daughter in her arms. "I'd be jealous if I didn't know it was this little lady right here." Violet giggled as Belle danced back to her husband, setting her chin on her husband's shoulder and watching him butter his toast as Violet fisted her hands in the lace of her dress. "What's for breakfast?"

His lips tilted a smirk as he handed Violet a corner of his toast, watching happily as she gummed it greedily. "I hadn't got much past toast, to be honest." He smiled, setting the knife down and reaching out, his fingers lightly playing against the lace of the blue dress at her collarbone. "Had we the time, and the privacy, I'd have you for breakfast, love."

Belle bit back her smile, raising her eyebrows suggestively. "Well, we have neither, but perhaps later tonight Aunt Ruby could be persuaded to babysit?" She leaned across the few inches separating them, sliding her lips up his freshly shaven cheek to his ear. "Do you like it?"

His lips kissed softly beneath her chin twice before they were reminded, with a squirm and a crumb covered fist, that they were not alone. Gold chuckled as he pulled away. "You're gorgeous, sweetheart." He reached over, taking Violet from her mother's arms. "As are you, my little love. When you're old enough, we'll dress you in the best that this world and any other has to offer, just like we dressed your mother." Violet giggled as he carefully limped a few feet away, sitting at the table and arranging Violet in his lap. "That was the first dress I ever bought her, you know. It was hiding in the back of a store on Main Street, just waiting for someone beautiful enough to wear it."

Belle plated his toast, slipping it on the table before him and dropping a kiss on her daughter's head. "Oh, story time, is it?"

Rum looked up at her, his eyes bright and smile soft in a look that was slowly becoming less and less rare on him. "Yes. Yes, I think it is."

Belle kissed her husband's head as well, smiling as she sauntered away to open the refrigerator. "Well I'm making an omelet, if any storytellers would like one?"

"Omelet this morning, Violet?" The baby gurgled at her father, shoving the slobbery toast in her hand towards his lips. "Hum, you're right, toast is good enough for now." Rum looked up and held out a hand to her. "Join us for a bit, love."

Belle turned away and closed the door, her arm laden with eggs, butter, and a handful of vegetables as she turned. "I think I'll listen to the story as I cook."

Rum sighed, smiling softly at her. "Suit yourself, my dear, but when we're alone tonight, you'll absolutely be doing no work at all."

Belle stepped away from the pile of ingredients on the counter to kiss her husband's cheek, whispering into the ear away from their daughter, even if she wouldn't understand her. "When we're alone tonight there's only one thing to be doing, and it's a who rather than a what."

Rum stuttered as she waked away, clearing his throat. "Right, well. Story time, yes? Yes." Belle's laugh rang out in the kitchen, a beautiful counterpoint to the sound of the whisk as she beat the eggs. Rum shifted his daughter on his lap so he could look at her, his fingers deftly straightening out her little pink dress as he did. "When Mama first lived with me, she didn't know anything about fashion. Sure, she could wear a gown beautifully, make monster's mouths water with a simple blue house dress, but when it came to the clothes here? Oh, she didn't do well at all."

Belle put the knife she was holding down, spinning and letting the skirt around her thighs flair as she twirled. "So your Papa, he got me the most beautiful clothes, but I had no idea what to do with them."

Rum winked, leaning down to stage whisper into his daughter's ear as Belle went back to chopping vegetables. "She wore stripes with plaids."

"Crazy patterns together," she agreed, her mind drifting back to some of the odd combinations she wore. She poured the eggs in the pan, then tossed in the cheese and tomato and pepper. "I wore a belt as a necklace once."

He laughed, nearly giggling as his daughter cooed and looked back and forth between them as if she actually understood the words rather than simply enjoying the playful nature of their conversation. "So she started getting sneaky. She'd come to breakfast in her robe, wait to see what I was wearing, then put together something similar."

"It was the reason I put this belt with this dress and those wonderful shoes. You had that lovely blue shirt on and a burgundy tie." She sighed, sliding the spatula under the eggs and deftly flipping them.

He ripped off another corner of toast for Violet, his eyebrows wrinkling as he exchanged the new piece for the slobbery bit of crust clutched tight in his daughter's fist. "Where are those shoes, darling?"

"They don't fit anymore," she said wistfully as she slipped the omelet from the pan to her plate, taking the bread from the toaster as well. She didn't have to look at him as she put the makings of her breakfast away to know what his eyes looked like in this moment: sad and deep and like they'd somehow failed her.

She took her plate over to the table, but his hand caught her elbow even before she could sit next to him. "I'll get you a new pair."

She smiled as she sat, leaning across him to kiss him softly. "Don't bother."

He handed her a napkin and stared at her in deep contemplation. "No bother, sweetheart. Such a beautiful women, the mother of my beautiful daughter, deserves beautiful things."

She pressed her lips together, trying not to smile and be rude with a mouthful of omelet, though she couldn't suppress her blush as she swallowed. "You know you spoil me."

"I'll spoil both of you rotten." He said it with a smile, but she knew it was the truth. Even after so many years, he still felt he needed to show his love with things. For as many times as she tried to show him that his gifts were not what she wanted, she still knew that he was pleased when she liked the things he bought for her. Even now she tried to accept the appropriate ones gracefully. She had no doubt their daughter would have the best of everything that money could buy, and for once that was not something she really wanted to dispute.

Her rebuttal was halfhearted; they'd been over this territory far too many times for her to reopen the old wound and this morning was so delightful, the only thing she could do was joke. "Oh, there's enough rottenness in this family, thank you very much."

"I'll have you know," he said playfully, his hands bouncing with theatricality and Violet grabbing at the digits as they twirled in front of her face, "I haven't been rotten in months."

Belle shook her head, crinkling up her nose as she pointed in his face. "Just a little sneaking and conniving?"

He leaned forward and kissed her fingertip, laughing when Violet leaned up after him and bit Belle's knuckle with her gums. "Not the same as rotten."

Belle sighed, tickling her daughter under the chin. "I suppose not." She wiped the spittle off of her finger on her napkin. "So where was I darling? Oh yes. So I'd wait to see what your Papa was wearing, because he wore the most beautiful suits and shirts of the most amazing colors, then I'd put on something similar."

He smiled, reaching out his hands but froze them when Violet dropped her toast in favor of grasping his fingers and playing with this hands. "It only took me about two days to figure it out." He tried to hold up only two fingers, murmuring to his daughter to try to get her to count, but Belle's dark tone made his eyes snap to her face.

"And then I moved out." Her murmur was barely audible, her eyes glued to the remnants of eggs on her plate as she played with her fork. It had been the best thing for her, she knew, but that didn't mean that it had been easy, or that she hadn't missed him. The first few days alone had been dreadfully lonely with no real friends to speak of and the fear of waking up in the asylum keeping her from sleep. Those days changed quickly as she made friends and really came into her own, but it didn't change how thinking about them made her feel. Belle chanced looking at her husband, and couldn't tear her eyes away from the soft, sad look on his face.

Rum nuzzled their daughter's neck with his nose to get her attention, though his eyes never strayed from his wife's gaze. Violet held tight to his thumbs grasped tightly in her fists. "You see, Violet, your Mum and I needed to start from scratch. But we still loved one another, so it was ok." He straightened, his voice soft and full as he gazed at his wife with love. "She needed to be her own person, more than someone's daughter or someone's caretaker and True Love. She needed that. It was hard for us to learn how to trust one another, but we did it, and it was worth it." He nodded gently, but Violet joined in, and soon Belle was laughing as she watched father and daughter nod like two maniacal bobble head dolls.

Belle reached out and grasped both their chins to halt the silly motion with a smile. "We went for Hamburgers."

He turned his head and kissed Belle's thumb before she pulled her hand away. "At least once a week, that was until you discovered pizza."

Belle stood and took her dish to the sink, whirling and pointing at him. "You can't tell me that pizza isn't a delicious!" She reached out and took the frying pan and brought that into the sink as well, running water over the dish and pan before she turned with wide eyes. "Oh, and then the first time I drank cola!"

Rum laughed, smiling at her. "The bubbles surprised you so much you spit it out your nose!"

"The bubbles hurt! It's not supposed to go through there!" The adults laughed, and Violet looked between them, her bright blue eyes alight with happiness as she cooed out something that might have been words. Belle leaned forward as she made her way back to the table, taking her daughter's and husband's hands in her hand dropping kisses over tiny and long fingers alike. "Oh, but we've lost track of our story, haven't we. Where were we, Violet?" Belle picked up the forgotten crust of toast in Violet's lap and walked it over to the garbage.

She cried out a happy, garbled sound, bringing her hands together and clapping her father's hands. "Oh yes, thank you darling." Rum kissed his daughter's head then rested his chin on the soft, wispy hairs there. "So your Mama was on her own, and she started wearing the most horrid things."

Belle turned, hands on her hips and mock indignation written across her face. "They were not that bad." She returned to the table, reaching out and taking her daughter from Rum's lap as she sat.

He knocked the crumbs from his lap before standing, limping over to the cabinet and pulling out Violet's cereal. "Oh, yes they were."

"Tell me one thing that was horrid!" Belle bit her lip with a smile, hugging her daughter tight as she watched her husband measure out the dry cereal and pour in the water.

"That yellow top with the striped skirt? Just because the shoes matched a stripe in the skirt, and the shirt matched one, and those horrid grey tights matched, well, that didn't mean it worked all together."

Belle smirked, a twinkle in her eye as Violet cuddled into her arms. "I recall that you burned those tights."

He nodded, his eyes on his work as he mumbled under his breath. "And the shirt as well, when you weren't looking."

Belle looked at him sideways, but nuzzled her nose with her daughter's as she spoke. "But then your Papa swept me off my feet, for a second time, and when I moved back in..."

He presented the tiny bowl on the table with a flourish before sitting and pulling the tiny spoon from his pocket. "She started to match with me again."

Belle took the spoon from his hands and stirred the tiny bowl, smiling at her husband. "Magically!"

He laughed, his smile saying that he could say many things about her remark, but that he'd say none. "Of course, my dear." He gave a half seated bow and twirled his hand theatrically, eliciting a laugh from both ladies.

Belle sighed as she slipped a little cereal onto the spoon and slid it between her daughter's waiting lips. "Though my goodness, I have never been happier to fit into my old clothes. Those maternity clothes were horrid. Weren't they Violet? Weren't they?"

Rumple laughed, cleaning up the crumbs on his side of the table from the toast Violet had pulverized. "Oh, she didn't mind what you wore, but if you put her in that horrid sailor suit again..."

"I think you mean adorable sailor suit!" Belle tickled under her daughter's chin, but the child squirmed and pushed oatmeal out from between her lips with her tongue.

"I think Violet disagrees." Rum reached over with a napkin, cleaning up Violet's chin before she could dribble on Belle's dress. He leaned down, kissing Belle quickly before slipping his cane tightly into his hand and limping out of the kitchen. "Let's hope she doesn't have her mother's fashion sense."

"Where are you going?" Belle called out.

Rum smiled as he started up the stairs. "To change. I know right where my blue shirt and burgundy tie are."