Last chapter - hope you enjoy it!
I do not own "Once Upon a Time."
A little over seven years later . . . .
"Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday, dear Olivia! Happy Birthday to you!" Her family sang to her and watched as Olivia carefully blew out all seven candles in one breath.
Olivia Rose Gold was born seven years prior on September 25th. Belle was ten days overdue with her, much to her chagrin, as well as Nick's, who could offer little comfort to his very pregnant wife during those final days as they awaited the birth of their daughter. Despite the delay in delivery, which Belle insisted occur as naturally as possible with no drugs (a decision she regretted once her labor pains began to intensify), Olivia's entrance into the world was uneventful as far as births go. But for her parents, she was a miracle. Belle cried when Olivia was placed in her arms for the first time. Nick knew from the moment he first held her that this little girl would have him wrapped around her finger even more than her mother did, and that was quite a feat indeed.
Olivia had deep blue eyes and blonde hair like her mother, but her facial features were much more chiseled than Belle's. She was the perfect combination of Belle and Nick. She was a petite child, one of the smallest in her class, but with a huge personality.
She was in the second grade, having just made the cut-off for admittance into the class due to her late September birthday, but even though she was the youngest member of her class she was a top student and excelled at most everything. She was well-liked by her teachers and her classmates.
Nick and Belle had taken her and friends to Coney Island a week prior to celebrate her birthday, and now they were having a family celebration. Olivia whined about being too short to ride The Cyclone, already craving excitement and adventure even at her young age. She asked Nick when she would be tall enough to ride, and he replied "If you're lucky, maybe by the time you're twenty."
"Bae and Ruby are tall. How come I'm not tall like them?" Olivia then asked him.
"Because their mum is tall. They took after her. Sorry love, but your mum and I are short and I'm afraid you will always be as well." Nick replied. Olivia pouted, not liking that answer at all.
Belle continued with her studies during and after her pregnancy, and received her BA in English from NYU. She went back to her blonde hair upon discovering that she was pregnant, would introduce herself as Marty to her fellow classmates and to her professors, and easily blended in without being recognized too often, at least for a few years. Nick completely supported her decision to continue with her studies further and obtain her Masters in English, with an emphasis on creative writing. Belle found that she enjoyed writing as much as she enjoyed reading, and over the past several years in her free time she worked on several short stories, one of which she adapted into a novel. She found it more difficult than anticipated to find a publisher; the publishing world was not impressed with actors who wanted to venture into writing. After receiving a pile of rejection letters, Belle decided to submit the same manuscript under her given name, Martha Francis, but used her initials instead. Apparently the same exact manuscript that was rejected when it was written by Belle French was lauded when M.R. Francis submitted it, which made it clear to Belle that her original submissions were likely not even read. Several offers from publishers were made to her, and after she and Nick studied them they accepted the one that appeared to be the most lucrative, on the condition that she publish under her screen name to garner more publicity. The novel was a best seller, and Philip asked Belle's permission to adapt it into a screen play. Belle agreed on the stipulation that she had final approval on all edits and changes, and that she be involved with casting and producing the film.
During her time in school, between her personal life with Nick and Olivia and their extended family and the time she spent writing, Belle had little time for acting. She appeared in an uncredited cameo role in one of Philip's films as a favor to him shortly after Olivia had turned one, and when Olivia was just three years old she agreed to take a role in one of August Booth's films. It was a supporting role and the film was shot in New Orleans. Belle was required on the set for six weeks, and she, Nick and Olivia settled there during that time. The film was well-received; Belle was nominated for an Academy Award once again, this time in the Supporting Actress category. She didn't win this time, but she did win the Golden Globe Award in the same category.
When Olivia was five years old, Belle's former co-star, Robin Sherwood, was starring on Broadway in a play opposite his wife, Marian Forrester. Marian had to vacate the role for three weeks in order to honor commitments for a press junket for a film she had done, and Robin asked Belle to step into the role during this time. Belle had never done stage work since her school days back in Melbourne. She was nervous about accepting, but Nick encouraged her and said it would be a great experience, so she agreed, albeit reluctantly. It turned out to be one of the best acting experiences Belle ever had, and she thought that perhaps she would accept another stage venture one day.
Business at Nick's shop remained good and fairly busy, depending on the time of year. Nick worked at the shop four days a week, and the other three were spent at home with Belle. Belle was at the shop with him once or twice a week for a few hours, usually on Tuesdays and Fridays. Her fans soon figured this schedule out and would often come in on those days, and she happily signed autographs and posed for photos.
Bae and Emma welcomed another son when Henry was four years old; they named him Neal. Ruby and Graham married when Olivia was two years old, and at Olivia's party, Ruby was approximately six months pregnant with their first child. It was a girl, and they planned to name her Anita.
"Did you make a wish, Olivia?" Belle asked her after she had blown out all of the candles.
"Yes, but I can't tell you what it is. It won't come true if I tell you." Olivia said, just as the doorbell rang. Pongo, their three-year-old Dalmatian, started barking.
"Hey, sorry I'm late." Philip said after being let in by Bae. "There's my favorite girl!" Philip shouted, and Olivia ran into his arms.
"Uncle Philip!" Olivia shouted as Philip scooped her up.
"I have your present in the car but I need some help bringing it in – any volunteers?" Philip asked.
"If it's another dog you'd best keep it outside." Nick said.
"Oh please Nick, when are you going to admit that you like Pongo? He certainly adores you." Belle said. Two years prior, for Olivia's fifth birthday, Philip showed up at their door with Pongo in tow. He found the dog scavenging for food in his yard; Philip was stunned to find a purebred Dalmatian running loose. He exhausted all attempts to find the dog's owner to no avail. He thought about keeping the dog for himself, but instead he called Belle and asked if Olivia would like a pet. Belle said it was something they had talked about but she needed to discuss it with Nick first. Knowing that Nick almost never disagreed with Belle, Philip drove cross-country to New York with the Dalmatian in tow, only to find out that Nick had not yet agreed one way or the other. Olivia, however, fell in love with the dog at first sight and immediately named him Pongo after the dog on 101 Dalmatians. Not wanting to disappoint his daughter, Nick agreed they would keep the dog. Much to his dismay, Nick found that the dog liked him most of all. Pongo followed him constantly and was always at his side, although at night he dutifully slept in bed with Olivia.
"It's not another dog." Philip said.
"I'll help you bring it in." Bae said, and the two men went outside and came back into the house with a large doll house. Olivia squealed with delight as they set the dollhouse down.
"Philip, you spoil her too much." Belle said.
"Well I am her godfather, that is my job, right?" Philip asked.
"Thank you, Uncle Philip!" Olivia shouted, and she gave him a big hug.
"Now I'm going to give your mum a link to a website, and you'll find all kinds of dolls that fit this house and the furniture inside it. You pick out the four you like best and tell your mum to let me know which ones they are and I'll get them for you, that's part of your present." Philip said.
"Okay!" Olivia said.
"Belle, there were a couple of packages outside – one for Olivia and one for you." Bae said, and he handed her the packages.
"Oh, this is from Ashley, Sean and Alex! Open it, sweetheart." Belle said, handing the package addressed to Olivia to the little girl. After many discussions and several therapy sessions with Alex, Ashley and Sean determined that it would be best for their daughter to maintain a civil relationship with one another. They started spending more time together as a family of sorts, and ended up rekindling their relationship. They had remarried four years prior and moved back to Hollywood a little over a year prior. Ashley got the lead role in an HBO series called Criminally Hollywood about a former child and teen star who left show business to pursue a career in law enforcement, and was now a detective for the LAPD. The show was a hit and had just begun its second season.
Olivia tore the package open and found a gold dress inside; the same dress worn by Belle in Beauty and the Beast.
"It's your dress, mommy! This is what I wished for! Can I put it on?" Olivia asked.
"We haven't eaten yet, you can put it on later." Nick said.
"And we need to call Ashley and Sean and thank them." Belle said. "Go hang it up in your room." The little girl darted up the stairs.
"What did she mean 'your dress'?" Emma asked.
"Olivia has become obsessed with that Beauty and the Beast film and she's convinced that it's about Belle and me because the princess in the movie is also named Belle." Nick said.
"I can see that. You are kind of beast-like." Emma said, and Nick made a face at her. "Belle, what did Ashley send you?"
"Oh, just a script to look at." Belle said.
"You thinking about going back into acting?" Ruby asked.
"Ashley has a role on her show that she wants me to play; it's a guest spot, three episodes, she asked me to look at it." Belle said.
"Criminally Hollywood? Oh my god, I love that show, Bae and I never miss it!" Emma said.
"Oh, I know, Nick and I love it, it's one of the few things I can convince him to watch with me." Belle said.
"This would be your first thing together since River's Road, right? That would be huge, the ratings would be through the roof." Emma said.
"I'm not sure. It's a three week shoot, it starts in a month, and I'm just not sure about pulling Olivia out of school for that." Belle said.
"We could watch her." Bae said.
"Graham and I could help, too. It'll be good practice." Ruby said.
"Well, Nick and I are going to look the script over tonight – we'll let you know." Belle said. Olivia came bounding down the stairs.
"Can we cut the cake now?" she asked.
"Of course we can. And you get the first piece." Nick said.
"I want the one on the end. The one with the big rose on it." Olivia said.
"Then that – is what you shall have." Nick said, and he carefully helped his daughter cut the cake.
"So what do you think?" Belle asked later that night, as Nick sat in bed reading the final pages of the script she was given. He was wearing his reading glasses; two years prior, after several months of nagging from Belle, who noticed him squinting quite often while reading, Nick went to the eye doctor and learned that he needed bifocals. He was not happy about that at all – between the glasses and his increasing amount of gray hair, it frustrated him that the aging process was taking hold of him in a much more obvious manner than Belle, who still looked stunning as she neared age forty.
"It's um – different. Nothing like what you've done in the past." Nick said.
"That's why I want to do it." Belle said, climbing into bed with him.
"This Lacey character – she drinks a lot, have you ever been drunk before in your life?" Nick asked.
"Well, no, but – plenty of actors don't drink and can play drunk. Actually plenty of them DO drink and play sober as well. I can observe other techniques, I'll figure it out." Belle said.
"Three weeks. I'm not sure I want to leave Olivia for that long." Nick said.
"Bae and Ruby said they'd help. And maybe I can fly my papa in, he's been wanting to come visit anyway. She'll be fine. She probably won't even miss us." Belle said. "This is a good role, Nick."
"You're gonna have to go back to the dark hair, won't you?" Nick asked. "I'm used to you as a blonde now. Olivia's never even seen you with the dark hair."
"She's seen pictures. You'll both get used to it, you got used to me being blonde and the first few weeks you said you felt like you were cheating on me." Belle said.
"I did." Nick said. "What's the pay?"
"I'm doing three episodes, they promised me 475 per episode plus 3 percent residuals on DVD sales for that season. It's a fair amount for television for a guest role." Belle said. "Plus they'll pay all of our travel expenses."
"I suppose it'll be alright then." Nick said. "If this is what you want."
"Ashley said if the ratings do well, they may ask me back for more episodes next season." Belle said. "She said she'd make sure next time we shoot in the summer, then Olivia could come with us. You know how much she loves Disneyland."
"Okay. But I want to be on set to watch, I'm not sitting at the house all day by myself." Nick said.
"Of course." Belle said. "You did read the scenes where I'll be -"
"Yes I read those scenes. I'll – sit in your trailer while those are being filmed, I'm not watching that." Nick said.
"Still jealous?" Belle teased.
"No – I just don't wish to watch some other man pawing at my wife, that's all." Nick said.
"There's no pawing, there's just – kissing." Belle said. "In our underwear."
"Yeah, that makes me feel better." Nick said, and he tossed the script onto the nightstand, then took off his glasses and set those down as well. He then turned to Belle, leaned over, and kissed her. "You know – you get more and more beautiful every day. And please don't say you feel the same about me because that is a lie."
"Well I do think you get more handsome every day." Belle said.
"You do see that the amount of gray hair is increasing rapidly." Nick said.
"Well, I like it. And I especially like it when you wear your glasses. Makes you look smart and distinguished." Belle said. "And you've yet to age in other areas that – matter more than looks." she said playfully.
"Yes, I can still keep up with you somehow." Nick growled, and he rolled over on top of her and started to kiss her as Belle unbuttoned his pajama top.
"Put the glasses on." Belle said.
"Are you serious?" Nick asked. "Why?"
"I think it would be fun role-play. I like to imagine you as this brooding, sexy professor." she said.
"Is this another past life?" Nick asked.
"Could be. Or perhaps it's a good idea for my next novel." Belle said, and she gave him a quick kiss. "You going to put them on or not?" Nick sighed. He reached for the glasses and put them on.
"Whatever pleases my wife. Happy now?" Nick asked.
"Very much." Belle said, and she pulled him into a kiss.
Belle held Olivia's hand as they walked toward the school, with Nick following behind. The trio stopped when they reached the front doors of the school. "Now you know Bae is going to be picking you up today – you behave for him and Emma and Ruby and Graham while we're gone." Belle said, kneeling down in front of Olivia and straightening her blouse.
"I will mommy." Olivia said.
"You sure you're going to okay with being away from us for three weeks?" Nick asked.
"I've stayed with Bae and Ruby before, daddy. And I'll have Pongo." Olivia said, a tone of annoyance in her voice.
"Well we'll bring a surprise back for you, alright?" Belle said.
"For Pongo too?" Olivia asked.
"Of course for Pongo too." Nick replied.
"We'll talk on Skype every day, but probably not tonight because you'll already be sleeping by the time we get to California." Belle said.
"Do I get to watch your TV show when it's done, mommy? Alex said she gets to watch it." Olivia said.
"Alex is older. You'll get to watch it when you're older." Belle said. Olivia pouted a bit. "Come here – give me a hug." Belle said, and she pulled the little girl into a hug. "And kisses."
"Mommy! Not here." Olivia said, appearing to be embarrassed as she pulled away from Belle.
"How about me, do I get a hug and kisses too?" Nick asked.
"Just a hug. No kisses." Olivia insisted, and she gave Nick a quick hug.
"Olivia!" Several of the girls walking toward the school called out.
"Bye mommy, by daddy!" Olivia shouted as she scooped up her backpack and ran toward the group of little girls. Nick put his arm around Belle as they watched their daughter run off to be with her friends.
"How in the bloody hell did that happen?" Nick asked.
"What?" Belle replied.
"You and I are two of the most introverted people on the planet, and we're raising the future Prom Queen." Nick commented. "If she didn't look so much like you I'd be wondering if the hospital sent us home with the wrong child." Belle laughed a bit.
"She's her own person, that's for sure." Belle said. "You think she'll be alright? We've never been away for this long. I know it wouldn't be good to pull her out of school for three weeks but maybe we should have found out if -"
"Belle – I think we're going to miss her far more than she misses us." Nick said, and he kissed her on the cheek.
"You know, only six more years until she's a teenager. Won't that be fun?" Belle teased.
"Sweetheart, please don't remind me, I already have enough gray hair as it is." Nick replied.
"What, you don't want to think about all of the boys that are going to beat the door down to get to her?" Belle asked.
"Actually, I kind of feel sorry for them. If she's anything like you she'll drive them mad." Nick said.
"Not to mention the fact that you'll scare the living hell out of them." Belle said.
"Well yes, there's that too." Nick replied. "You ready to go?"
"No." Belle replied. "But we'll be late for our plane if we don't."
"You're sure you want to take on this role?" Nick asked.
"I've never gotten to play a villain before, I'm really excited about it. And really she's not that bad, she's just had a rough time of it." Belle said. "And since we'll be alone at the house – maybe we can act out some of the more intense scenes together. What do you think?"
"Hmmm. You as a bad girl – I think I might enjoy that." Nick said. "As long as you go back to being my Belle when we're done, of course."
"I promise I won't be guzzling wine and wearing skirts up to my ass like Lacey." Belle said.
"Well, the skirt thing – that'd be okay." Nick teased, and Belle smacked his arm lightly.
"Let's go – people are staring." Belle said.
"They always do. I think they still can't believe you're with me. Did you know there was a website betting on how long our marriage would last? Ruby found it the other day." Nick said.
"Well, I hope that the winners are still around to collect in the end. You promised me you'd live to be a hundred, right?" Belle said.
"At least." Nick replied. "Come here – might as well give them something to gawk at." Nick said, and he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into a kiss.
Three weeks later, their first night back home . . .
Belle and Nick tucked Olivia into bed, with Pongo dutifully waiting on the floor for them to leave so that he could take his place in the bed with Olivia.
"Daddy, can you tell me my favorite story again?" Olivia asked.
"Again? You could tell it to me by now." Nick said.
"I like the way you tell it." Olivia said.
"So do I, I want to hear it, too." Belle insisted.
"Oh, alright." Nick said, and he sat down on the edge of the bed, and Belle sat next to him. "Once upon a time, there was a spinner who owned a shop. He enjoyed his work and had many good friends, but he was very lonely because he didn't have anyone to love him. And then one day a beautiful princess came into his shop, and the spinner fell in love with her the moment he saw her. But he was sure that she could never love him, for he was not a handsome prince, and everyone knew that princesses only loved handsome princes; some people even said he was a beast, because he had done terrible things in the past. He was very sorry for those things he had done, but many didn't think he was worthy of the princess. But the beautiful princess loved him too, because she could look past the outside and see what was in his heart. And together they fought an evil queen and gossip blogs and dishonest agents and anyone else who tried to keep them apart. And in the end, no one could keep them apart because they were one another's true love. The princess married the spinner, and they went off to live in their castle together."
"And they lived happily ever after, right?" Olivia asked.
"That's the plan." Nick replied. Belle took his hand and squeezed it tightly.
"Alright enough story time, you need to get up for school in the morning." Belle said, and she leaned over and gave Olivia a kiss on the forehead.
"You're the spinner and the princess, aren't you?" Olivia asked.
"Maybe we are." Nick replied, and he gave Olivia a kiss as well. "Goodnight, love." Nick and Belle quietly crept out of the room, and Pongo jumped onto the bed and curled up with Olivia as they left.
Belle and Nick both donned jackets and made their way outside to the garden and sat down on the bench in the middle of the garden together, it being a fairly warm autumn evening in New York. Nick had given the bench to Belle as an anniversary gift for their fifth anniversary; he had it engraved "For Belle, with all my love. Forever yours, Nick." They would spend many evenings sitting together after Olivia was in bed, just quietly holding hands or cuddling. Nick put his arm around Belle.
"I told you she'd be fine. You were all worried for nothing." Nick said.
"Me? You're the one who kept wanting to check up on her every hour after two days away." Belle said. "I know you want to be a better father this time around but there is such a thing as overkill." Nick sighed.
"She's just so different from Ruby. Ruby always was so clingy, always wanting to be on my lap and cuddling and hugging and I didn't appreciate it at the time, and I feel terrible about it. Now I have the chance to appreciate it with Olivia and she's not the least bit interested anymore." Nick said.
"Like I said, she's her own person. She adores you, Nick – she's just becoming more independent, and we have to respect that about her." Belle said.
"I suppose you're right." Nick said. They sat quietly together staring at the night sky when a shooting star went by. "Did you see that?" Nick asked.
"Yeah, a falling star. Remember when we saw one at the park, when we were first dating?" Belle asked. "We wished for me to get that part in August's movie."
"About that, love – I have a confession to make. That's not what I wished for." Nick said.
"It wasn't?" Belle asked.
"No. I wished that – well that you would stay with me in New York. Forever." Nick admitted.
"Well I supposed we both got our wish then, didn't we?" Belle said, and she gave Nick a kiss on the cheek. "What did you wish for this time?"
"Not a thing." Nick said. "What more could I ask for? I have everything I need right here." Belle looked at him and smiled.
"So do I." Belle said. She melted into his arms and they kissed.
I do want to thank all of my readers, especially those who have left me feedback and encouragement throughout this journey! If you are on Tumblr, please follow me, I am 'charmedrumbelle'. Once again, THANK YOU, and I hope many of you will continue to follow my Rumbelle fanfic offerings!
Also . . . . eta, since I posted this fic, I have added some one-shots for this verse and they are in this chronological order: Three Weeks, Family Dinner, Snow Day, Dog Days of February, and An Evening Down Under. ALL of these are part of the CaFS and continue with Nick and Belle's story.
Finally . . . . . I have posted a fic titled "Star-Crossed" that is a SEQUEL to Catch a Falling Star. It was my NaNoWriMo project for 2014. I hope you check it out!