Belle, Bae, and Rumplestiltskin arrived at Snow White's palace two days before the wedding. Snow had requested – almost demanded - the royal family come for some relaxation. Snow had expressed her desire to spend some time with the three of them without the pressures of rescuing princes or defeating evil queens.
Not long after they arrived, so did Prince Eric and his betrothed. Belle and Ariel squealed in girlish delight and embraced happily before the moving on to embrace the men. Rumplestiltskin was still amazed that Belle freely touched him, and that amazement doubled when the young red head pulled him to her and squeezed tightly. He flushed, not used to having the attentions of a woman romantic or otherwise, and hesitantly hugged back.
Ariel backed away, then paused and gave a puzzled frown. "Why aren't you green?" She asked innocently.
"Ariel!" Eric scolded, "That's not exactly polite." He then regarded Rumplestiltskin carefully and then added, "But she does have a point. You looked this way before the battle, too. Has something happened?"
Rumplestiltskin laughed and waited for Belle to join him. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder, seeking silent comfort and strength form her. "Just trying out a different look. What do you think?"
"You look very handsome," Ariel said truthfully before smiling up at Eric. "Doesn't he?"
Eric stammered and offered Rumplestiltskin a sheepish look. Rumplestiltksin smirked at the prince's embarrassment and thought back to when he'd first met the young man. He'd hated him then, thinking the prince had his sights set on Belle. Now he considered those around him as friends. So much had changed in the months since arriving at Avonlea, a reluctant king.
Belle grabbed Ariel's hand then, telling the men they would return later, and pulled Ariel to another room so they could catch up. She wanted to speak to Snow and Ariel privately; wanted to enjoy the simplicity of the three of them together.
Leading her to where she knew Snow White was waiting she turned to her friend, "You're going to love Snow," she informed her. "She's wonderful."
"I can't wait to meet her," Ariel smiled. "Eric told me she fought alongside the men. That's very brave."
"Indeed it was," Belle agreed. "And she rescued her True Love."
"So did I!" Ariel exclaimed in excitement.
"Yes," Belle agreed. "We all seem to have that in common."
Belle was proud to introduce her two friends to each other. Snow and Ariel smiled and curtsied to each other, and then the three girls settled onto the floor and began to chat. Ariel spoke of her time as a mermaid and how she'd saved Eric from the wreckage of his ship. Snow spoke of much of what had led to the battle against Regina and Belle told them how she'd come to meet Rumplestiltskin. All three girls giggled and gushed together and Belle felt a strange sense of happiness come over her. She'd had servant girls that she'd been friends with, but the camaraderie she felt with Snow White and Ariel was unlike anything she'd ever experienced before. She felt as if they were her sisters and she was pleased that Snow and Ariel had taken to each other so quickly. But they were all strong, capable women who had defied the odds and achieved the impossible. It only made sense to Belle that they get along.
Snow found much joy in Ariel, whose endless questions and curiosities rivaled Belle's. She asked about the wedding, for she was planning one of her own and had no idea what she was doing most of the time. Snow was happy to offer advice and Belle listened eagerly, enjoying listening to the two girls speak of their upcoming wedding days.
"I'm so excited," Ariel exclaimed happily. "I never thought my life could be so wonderful."
Snow smiled. "I didn't either," she said at last. "It's taken a long time, but I think I can finally say that my life is exactly how I want it to be."
Belle nodded. "I feel the same. I never thought I'd find True Love, but I'm so glad I have it."
Ariel sighed dramatically. "It's all so romantic," she said. "We all found love in the most unexpected of ways."
"Yes," Snow agreed, "And I think we're all much better off because of it. I know I would have regretted not going after Charming. I can't believe I ever considered letting him go."
Belle smiled. "I can't believe it either."
Snow reached out and shoved at Belle playfully. "Charming and I owe you so much," she said sincerely. "How can we ever repay you?"
"By giving me plenty of nieces and nephews," Belle teased. "Maybe a little princes I can marry Baelfire off to."
Snow laughed. "He's what? Fifteen? That's not too much of an age difference," Snow said thoughtfully.
Belle shrugged. "He spent the better part of a century in Neverland," she said. "At this point I don't think age matters much for him."
Snow nodded in agreement. "I suppose I can't argue with that."
"You do know I'm teasing about this, right?" Belle asked with a laugh.
"I do," Snow said, "But the idea has potential. We could be mothers-in-law." She glanced over at Ariel then smirked. "Question is, which one of us is marrying our child off to Ariel's?"
The wedding was simple and elegant, and Snow looked radiant in her white dress. They'd packed in as many people, nobles and peasants alike into the room, everyone equal in their love of the Fair Queen.
Belle sat between Rumple and Bae, who had come dressed in the full uniform of the Queens Guard. He looked dashing and Rumple felt pride when he looked at the incredible young man his son had become.
After the ceremony everyone was invited to stay for a grand feast. They had not spared any expense when it came to food, and everyone declared Queen Snow and King James as the kindest and most giving royals. Belle approached Snow and Charming, who were seating at a special table to offer her congratulations. Snow White looked stunning in her white gown, the feathered skirts flowing around her elegantly. She rose and clutched Belle to her as the latter offered her sincerest congratulations. After letting go, Snow White turned to her husband.
"I know you've already met at the council session we had," Snow began, "But, Charming, I'd like you to meet the person responsible for us being together."
Belle flushed and murmured that she hadn't done anything really, but Charming shook his head and lifted her hand to his lips. "Nonsense," he said. "Because of you, Snow came for me. I cannot thank you enough."
"I just wanted to see her happy," Belle said meekly. "And from the way she spoke, you made her happy."
Charming laughed. "Well, I'm glad to hear it!"
Snow White chuckled, then glanced behind Belle and coughed slightly. Belle turned to see Rumplestiltskin standing with his hands behind his back, waiting patiently. "I hate to interrupt," he said with a sly grin, "But if you don't mind Your Majesties, I'd like to dance with my wife."
Snow ushered her away with a grin and Belle offered her congratulations one last time before being led off to the dance floor.
Charming glanced down at Snow. "I know you said they together…but married? To the Dark One?"
Snow nodded simply. "Yes," she said. "He wasn't what I expected him to be. And Belle clearly saw there was more to him than he let on. I was at the ceremony. I've never seen two people more in love." She glanced up at her husband then added quickly, "Well, other than us."
Charming chuckled. "Why don't we retire so I can show you just how much I love you."
Snow cocked an eyebrow and smirked mischievously. "I'd say that sounds like a great idea."
After the Charming's wedding came Eric and Ariel's. Belle, Rumplestiltskin and Baelfire attended the festivities, as did the newly wedded Snow and Charming. It was a simple occasion, much smaller than Snow's, but it was lovely nonetheless. Ariel wore a simple gown of white and walked barefoot on the sand. Eric beamed, pleased that the day had finally arrived. The people of his small kingdom would be joining them that night for a celebration and Ariel was extremely excited at being officially announced as the princess of the realm.
They couples all enjoyed themselves, dancing and talking and relishing the peace that was between the realms. Things were quiet and they all rejoiced at silence and ease that had fallen over the kingdoms. They stayed and celebrated, toasting to ends and beginnings, and Belle felt light and joyous.
And though they would have been content to remain together always, the responsibilities of their kingdoms soon drew the Charmings away. There were tearful goodbyes and promises to write frequently. The men stood and watched their wives conspire together, reluctant to leave. But finally, they departed, Charming and Snow planning to take a detour to tour the country before returning to their palace. Rumplestiltskin transported Belle back to their castle and she looked around, feeling serene. Baelfire bid them good night and made his way to the soldier's quarters, eager to be away from weddings and back with his brothers-in-arms.
Rumple led Belle to their room and wrapped his arms around her waist. "Home at last," he growled softly against her neck, leaving a trail of kisses there. Belle hummed in delight.
"Hopefully now that things have settled down we can get back to normal."
He said nothing, but continued to kiss along her jaw and cheek and Belle was content to let him. She sighed happily, glancing over to the rose on the vanity. It was glowing brightly, as it had when she'd thought about her husband in his absence. "Look, Rumple," she whispered. He begrudgingly ceased kissing her to glance in the direction she was looking, his eyes widening when he saw the rose glowing.
He glanced back down at her. "You're doing that?"
She nodded. "Mmm. Whenever I think about my love for you, it glows brighter." She glanced back at him with a sly grin. "Looks like you're not the only one who can do magic here," she teased.
He smirked and kissed her again. "You're amazing. Have I ever told you that?" He asked.
"Once or twice, perhaps."
"Well," he breathed, "You are amazing." He pressed a kiss to her. "And wonderful." Another kiss. "And kind and beautiful." He leaned back to gaze down on her. "I'm so glad I have you."
She smiled. "And Bae."
He pressed his forehead to hers. "And Bae. I never thought I'd have a family again, Belle. And now I do. You've given me more than I ever dared dream."
She wrapped her arms around his neck. "Well, don't wake up," she whispered softly. "Because there's more to come."
Giving he a puzzled look, Rumplestiltskin asked, "What do you mean?"
She looked down and removed one of her hands and placed it on her stomach. "I won't know for certain for a few more weeks, but I've been feeling strange. I thought perhaps it was nerves with everything going on, but I took a book with me when we were at Ariel's wedding and my symptoms seem to suggest..." She trailed off and looked up nervously at Rumplestiltskin. "Is that all right? If I am…pregnant? I know you haven't had Bae back for that long, and I'm not even sure at any rate and-"
She was cut off by his lips pressing against hers, kissing her passionately. When at length they broke away, he responded, tears in his eyes, "Oh my dear, I can think of nothing else I could want more."
Belle laughed and kissed him again.
"When will you know?" He asked after a few minutes, "If it's certain."
"Soon," she said with a slight blush. "Maybe in a few weeks." She may have been intimate with her husband, but discussing these things still made her cheeks hot and she fought the urge to duck her head in embarrassment.
"I want to know the moment you're sure," he said, pulling her close to him. "Just think, a child of our own; Bae will be a big brother."
"Do you think he'll be happy? If I really am…" Belle asked with a hint of worry.
"I think so," Rumple thought, "I think he will be. I know I am. And I hope you are."
Her smile beamed. "I couldn't be happier."
They kissed then, long and slow. Belle broke away and gave him a sly look. "We might need to make an announcement soon. That we're married," she said with a laugh. "Otherwise the people may be scandalized that their queen went away and then came back with child."
"I think they'll be scandalized no matter what," he said with a chuckle. "I am the Dark One, after all."
Belle shook her head. "No you're not. You're our king."
He smiled lovingly and brushed his hand along her stomach. "Indeed I am," he whispered before he kissed her again.
They held each other for some time after that. Belle was weary, but her excitement over everything left her unwilling to lie down yet. Instead she remained in her husband's arms as they caressed each other, whispering soft words of endearment. His hands wandered to her stomach, and she entwined her fingers with his, admiring the soft, pinkish tone they'd taken. They had come so far since she'd agreed to go with him forever. She no longer looked upon her promise with a brave reluctance. She had once wondered what her forever with him would be like. Never could she have imagined such a life as she'd lived over the past several months.
She missed her father dearly, and that ache would never fade, but she was embracing her new life as Queen. She loved her people, loved her duties to them and to the crown. She recalled Leonardo's words to her – what her father had said. He'd been proud of her. She wondered if he would still be proud, knowing the path she had taken.
She thought he might be.
She thought ahead as well to what the future would hold. She thought of a future of united kingdoms – she and Snow, Charming, Eric, and Ariel all striving for a peace that could spread further. She thought of the child that might be, and what it would be like to have a child of her own. She thought of the world it might grow up in, a world of peace and happiness. A world she had had a hand in creating.
She knew that peace would not last forever. There would be some new foe that would rise, set on ruining the long-sought and hard-won peace. There would be others like Regina. There would be others who would want to destroy the tranquility that had been so hard won. But it didn't matter; not in that moment. In that moment there was only room for Rumplestiltskin and Belle and the love they shared.
She stepped toward the window and pulled her husband to follow her. She looked out over their kingdom with a sense of satisfaction. The sun had set long ago, but the sky was still bright from the stars that flickered happily in their world above. She and Rumple would cherish this night; they would lie awake in each others arms and talk of the excitement of tomorrow.
They would talk of the excitement of all the tomorrows ahead of them.
After all, she'd promised him forever. And she couldn't wait to begin.
Well that was the worst kept secret ever. Congrats to all who called it several chapters ago.
And...that's it. My first full length fanfic is complete. I'm so proud that of what I've accomplished and I'm so grateful for all of you who have stuck with me from the beginning or joined me along the way. All of you are wonderful and I'm so happy that I've gone on this journey with you.
I am currently working on my second fic, a retelling of Rumple's entire story. It's a Rumbelle AU pre-ogre war story called "The Valley." I will start posting it in October. I will keep to my typical Friday postings.
Until it's posted (it will be here and on AO3) you can check out my other works on my Tumblr. (woubazoid dot tumblr dot com)
Thank you again, everyone. It's been amazing. :-)