*Flings the chapter*

*spins away*

*cackles*


Unwound

Rumpelstiltskin filed documents away in his sliding drawers and locked them. He had a particular affection for maps, especially those that included man-made structures. There were few things more impressive than the giant, high-tech, utterly stupid dams people built in this world. They were monuments to ego, the idea that man could command a force as powerful as water to stay behind sand and rock. No less than a hundred had failed, sometimes spectacularly, and the devastation they left behind was breathtaking.

It was also beautiful in a way- Nature reclaimed her territory and with mere water could alter the landscape back to her preference. You might as well cast a curse to stop True Love.

But that's not what was cast. What they had on their hands was a memory curse, and in its wake it left disorder, chaos, and the occasional lost bit of information. But then, it was the nature of the cursed mind to protect the lie, providing distraction with internal compensation. Throwing it off could take time, even for him and all the breadcrumbs he left for himself. His entire life was full of relics and reminders.

Something was still missing.

Then he saw the box. … Rumpelstiltskin tossed his jacket on his home office desk and sat at the wheel, facing the wall.

Coward. He faced the wall because he wasn't sure if he desperately wanted to see her face as she entered the room or if he would rather run and hide. There was no telling exactly which memories were still obscured and which weren't. Seeing him at the wheel may trigger her worst memories of him. If it did, why on earth would she stay? He'd raged and thrown her out, after all.

The front door opened, and Belle came in, calling for him.

With a mixture of fear and hope, he placed his hand upon the wheel and gave it a push, and held his breath.

Earlier…

Belle filed away another load of books that she'd checked for damage or writing and wheeled around her library. Shelves were filling up slowly with the treasures she found in the boxes, and as she filled one, she cleaned the next and kept on going. The books were dusty at best and falling apart at worst, so she ordered binding glue and a book press and learned to repair them.

She was a bit of an expert at rehabilitation.

The last few weeks had been an object lesson in hearts growing fonder. However, there was always a catch in her mind, like things were off kilter and out of control. She yearned for quiet time and closeness, but there was no time to be had and no excuse to just be with him. They were both busy and he had his hands very full.

The last few days made her yearn for more than just quiet time. Flips in her belly whenever she thought of his closet kept her from even putting the empty hangers back anymore.

Belle paused as she cleared away her work for the afternoon and touched her lips. There had been no more kisses since the closet. It almost hurt, but they had both shied away without avoiding one another- their time together now was affectionate but heavy with longing gazes, half bitten jests that fell flat before they were spoken, and almost painful want.

Belle wanted, and she wasn't young or naïve enough to claim that she didn't know what it was. She was no silly girl, and had not been for a very long while. The goings-on between women and men had been no secret in her world. Since she'd settled in enough to acclimate, the moment and mood simply hadn't been right yet.

She walked home, tottering a little on the heels she borrowed from Ruby. Her wardrobe was an evolving thing for her here, and she test drove everything from chunky sweaters with jeans to pencil skirts with heels. Today she had to draw her jacket tightly around herself, as the thin-strapped camisole and flippy skirt offered little warmth from the wind. The chill in the air heralded the rain and storms not far behind, and Belle barely made it back to Rumpelstiltskin's big house before being completely soaked.

The last faded light caught in the stained glass panels, casting the memory of their colors on the wood floor. Belle slipped off her jacket, laid it over a chair and kicked off her heels with a sigh of relief. "Rumpel? I'm home."

There was only the faint sound of wood bumping together coming from the hallway. "Rumpel?"

A rhythmic noise, sweet in its familiarity and full of memory, filled her ears, and she followed it.

Footsteps in the hallway.

Something was missing from her mind, taken by the curse he had wrought, and as much as he wanted to hold her, keep her, take her, she had to have the option to walk away. He was willing to risk even that, though, in order to give her back anything he could. Like a case of informed consent, he would only continue living like this if she remembered everything. If the wheel had unlocked memories of them together for him, it would do the same for her.

It was too quiet. Maybe she had walked away. Rumpelstiltskin's stomach tied itself in knots and he squeezed his eyes shut. He expected her anger, frustration, maybe even her pity, and he probably deserved some hatred as well. What he did not expect were the hands on his shoulders, the chill in her hands immediately sinking into his skin through his shirt.

"Oh, Rumpel. I remember." She whispered. "I remember everything."

He would not hang his head, despite his shame. "I'm so sorry, Belle."

She sat beside him, facing the other way but tugging at his shoulder to turn him from the wheel. Those blue eyes were clear and bright, and they fixed on him. He swam in them, knowing that her mind must be turning through the pages of their days at the castle with new eyes. What new tint had they gained?

"You were so different, then. But still the same." She murmured and leaned towards him, brushing her hand over his hair. Her other hand drifted down and took his hand off the wheel. "No embroidery." She smiled softly, fingering the cuff. "I could fix that for you." Rumpelstiltskin's breath rushed out like her words had pressed it from him. "You do remember." He let her turn him more fully. They were so close he could feel the heat from her face on his- the faintest touches of their noses.

"Yes, I do." Her lips barely grazed his as she spoke, every sound the faintest brush. "We've been here before. On this bench. Like this."

He swallowed hard. "Yes, we have."

"I remember what happened last time."

His lips parted, the agony of memory worse than he expected. "I'm so sorry, sweetheart. So sorry. Please."

She stilled. "I know." Belle's lips brushed against his. "I love you."

Rumpelstiltskin swallowed the words and pressed forward as he had once before, a world away. Instead of a terrifying change beginning, he felt warmth explode through him with relief and gratitude. He'd expected so much less, even desertion. When he started to draw away, ready to explain himself, the hand that had been in his shoulder and toying with his hair held him firm.

She kissed him harder.

Belle parted her lips and slid her tongue to lick at Rumpelstiltskin's lower lip. With a grunt muffled by breath and shifting fabric, his arms wrapped around her, cupping her shoulder blades and stroking her upper back, exposed by her top. He held her, one hand sliding down to her lower back and up again.

She arched under his touch, and once her head leaned back her neck was attended to. As she gasped, Rumpelstiltskin's kisses slipped over her skin and set her already heated skin ablaze. She had little frame of reference she could call her own, and so when his teeth grazed her, she jumped and was nearly in his lap.

"Rumpel!" But Rumpelstiltskin was beyond words at the moment, and his hands caressed her bare shoulders, curling his fingers around the thin straps and smoothing them out again. Belle's breath was fast and her heart pounded like it would fly out of her and she arched in his hands, rocking her pelvis against his side and pushing a breast into him. One strap finally slipped over her shoulder and suddenly he stilled, resting his forehead against hers.

"Belle, come with me?"

"Anywhere." She took his mouth again, pressing her tongue into his mouth and swiping at the musk and magic he was filled with. His low groan made her lurch.

A hand, warm and smooth, cupped her cheek and another tugged at her elbow. He stood after her and kissed her again, walking her backwards down the hall past the tables of trinkets and treasures. She took hold of his tie and tugged at him, and in response he pushed her against the wall.

"Not in much of a hurry?" She teased when they paused.

He pressed himself against her and nipped at her ear, bracing himself against the wall with one hand and his cane with the other. "I was debating the merits of the wall as a final destination, but I find other places make a more compelling argument at the moment." He dragged his lips along her neck, ending with a lick that made Belle shudder. "Not much further."

It would have been a crime to do this against a wall on the first time, but thirty years was thirty years. Even a man asleep can feel the passage of time, and the stab of longing was in no way dulled by her simple presence. If anything it made it sharper, but the pain radiating up his leg was enough to slow him down.

Slow, but not stop, and he leaned against her more fully, bracing his weight against the wall between her legs with his good knee. Belle fidgeted with the buttons of his shirt, pressing back at him with her entire body.

"I like this." Rumpelstiltskin murmured against her neck as he reached down to her thigh and ran his hand along her leg to her hip. Then he ran his nose along her bare shoulder, breathing in. "And this, too."

Belle had his shirt half unbuttoned, but her hands had drifted to a stop, just gripping the fine weave and hanging. She shook her head and pulled on the open sides, forcing him back to her mouth for a slippery kiss full of demands to make up for lost time. Together they pushed away from the wall, taking turns leading one another down the hall to the room they shared.

Hands clutched and loosened fabric. Having one hand occupied with his cane slowed him down, but as Belle was decidedly more simply dressed he was hardly at a disadvantage. By the time she had him backed up to the dresser, bumping the cane from his hand with a loud clatter, his shirt was untucked and she had his undershirt half pulled from his trousers. Her camisole had long been freed from the skirt, runched at her waist, but he had not dared trespass yet.

But now, with their long-abused hearts pounding and held breath panting over each other, safe from the magic and the mobs, their hands did more than just reach. Belle's hands traced the dip of his spine, around his waist and up his chest, dragging the shirt up with her arm. Glassy eyes drifted down to gaze, but Rumpelstiltskin was no bystander, and thirty years was thirty years.

As soon as Belle lifted his undershirt off him, he pushed her back towards the bed. As she walked back, his hands pulled the silk and lace, pulling the pretty thing off of her in a heartbeat and leading her to sit upon the bed.

"I'm going to have to rethink my plans." He ground out, stepping between her parted legs and tilting her chin up.

"What plans?"

"I've got three meetings in the morning, a shop to run, rents to collect, and a promise not to kill the woman who kept us separated for far, far too long." He traced a finger along the edge of her delicate bra and smiled at the way her eyes fluttered shut. "I think it will take about six months and several revenge curses just to take the edge off how I feel right now."

Belle smiled and loosened her bra. "I can always hire a book binder, Rumpel, but you have to make good on a few things." She reached up and tugged on the back of his neck for another kiss. "Besides, I'd rather not think about… anything right now." She gave his neck a tentative lick and the jolt forced his body to surge forward. His trousers and the fine tailoring he favored did little to hide her effect on him.

Her hands trembled and went to his belt.

"No, sweetheart. Let me do this my way." He gave her knees a nudge so she scooted fully onto the bed. When she leaned back, he loosened and removed his belt, and left himself unfastened, but no more. "It's been a long time, but I do remember how to do things right."

He gazed over her as he joined her on the bed and propped up on an elbow beside her. She was all curves and lush softness, the ideal of beauty in their world and this one, truth be told. Lovely slanting eyes with jewels peering out and cherry red lips, swollen from his kisses, all set in the fairest skin and framed by dark hair that defied any efforts to control it were the envy of any man and here she was, in his bed.

He never anticipated this. If he had he would have added a layer to the curse to keep her safe.

His kisses grew slower and his hands drifted from her face to her shoulders, and along the side of her breast, still lightly covered by the bra. In a movement designed to be stopped if she wanted, he drew it away and set it aside. Belle bowed up, for he had his mouth on her even before his eyes.

"Oh, Rumpel." Belle's voice was roughening in her passion.

"You are so soft, Belle. I always knew you would be." He held her nipple in his mouth and stroked with his tongue before letting her slide out. "Perfect."

Her legs began to draw up and straighten as he moved down her body. Delicate collarbones needed care, as did her sternum and the fragrant skin between her breasts. "I dreamed of this, Belle. I dreamed of you, of us, even when I'd lost hope. Then my dreams tormented and drove me."

The tiny zipper on the side of her skirt swept down and allowed a peek of lace trimmed satin underneath. That would never be good enough. She would have silk from now on. Only fine silk should cosset her treasures.

"I didn't know who I was." She gasped. "I only knew that there was someone who loved me, no matter how hard she made tried to make me forget or hate you. I always knew."

Rumpelstiltskin ran his palm along the inside of her lower leg, pausing at the knee.

Without added pressure, Belle let her knees fall open. Swallowing hard over the spasm in his throat, he traced along the inside of her knee with his fingertips and kissed the breath out of her. Belle clutched at his hair, his neck, grabbed his chest, and finally turned partway onto her side, opening her body to him completely. Her leg hitched high on his hip and forced him to abandon the slow path. He cupped her sex fully in his hand and was scorched by her heat.

"Belle, my god, Belle."

Without warning, Belle cupped him back and he thrust against the new pressure without intending to. Rumpelstiltskin moaned and kissed her hard, pushing and stroking her tongue with his. He felt her smile.

"So, that's how it's done?"

"Not quite, but it's a nice start." In retaliation, he pulled at her skirt and tugged the band of her panties. "I have an even better one in mind, though."

Once her clothes were off, he ran his hands over every bit of her. Her curvy hips led to strong thighs and slim ankles, all of which he swore he would do more justice to at a later date. She looked at him with dilated eyes when he shifted over one leg and lay between her knees.

"Rumpel, what are you do-"

There was no greater pleasure, in his mind, than rendering a smart woman speechless. In his life, most of the time he did, indeed, do it with his mouth, but generally with words, not with his tongue sliding around in slick, musky flesh and his lips suckling at the soft folds.

Soft folds that thickened and became firmer and plump in his mouth. There was only one word for it.

"Belle, you are ripe."

As he worked her with his lips and tongue, she moved in counterpoint to him, rubbing herself against his face as he brought her closer and closer. He looked up to see her writhing, face contorted in ecstasy and her hands grasping at anything in reach. They should be grasping him, but not yet. He brought a hand up to her heat and pressed a finger forward under his chin. He needed this. Needed to feel her all through and around him in a reply to the decades and centuries of deprivation and loneliness. Need and desperation made a man a coward and a monster. Desperation made him clutch her thighs to his shoulders, and need made him shove his tongue as deep as he could.

With a jerk, she rocked her body down and tightened around him, a flood of fresh musk meeting his senses. Another minute of suckling and stroking and her whole body thrummed, leaving her quivering and calling for him.

"Rumpel, please! Come here."

He pushed his trousers off and with his weight braced on three points and the fourth just for balance, he crawled up her body, dragging himself along to touch his lips to every bit he could manage until she had hold of his shoulders and began hauling him up. Belle held him between her legs, squeezing and stroking his thighs with her calves and his flanks with her thighs.

"Sweetheart, slow down."

"I've waited a very, very long time. I'm not waiting any more, Rumpelstiltskin." She reached down and plucked at his underwear, grasping him artlessly through them. They shoved them down and he kicked them off and groaned when he first felt her sliding heat against his head. Belle stroked him with her body, without artifice, bowing her body to touch him.

There was no magic more full of wonder than this. A woman in her prime, flushed with passion and ready. Ragged moans crept from red lips, breaths huffed on his chest and an arched neck stained a deep pink that extended all the way to her sex.

With a firm kiss he pushed forward and held his breath. There was no other woman in the world that had the power over him that she did. Even now, as he sank into her from above, her very breath was the thread that held his joints together, her pounding heartbeat the timepiece, and her heart the only reason he had to be better than he was.

"Thank you, Belle." He breathed into her ear.

Her heat pulsed around him, and he thrust gently as much for himself as for her. There was no need for showmanship, no need for acrobatics, for he was too old for that anyway. What they did need was to hold and touch, taste and hear each other.

"So much taken away, Belle. So much lost."

She clung to him, wrapping her legs around him and holding him tight so they would not be blown away by tender ferocity.

"Not lost anymore."

Rumpelstiltskin half-moaned and half sobbed at the thought. The caress of her sex, the slide of their skin, and the brush of lips that had forgot all words but still knew how to kiss his only anchor to this reality. Any other was pointess.

He pressed harder and let himself feel the welcoming squeeze in counter to the tightening knot deep in his body. Belle sighed as he sped up and thrust harder, deeper and she rocked to meet him, encouraging him with her low gasps and moans.

"Yes, yes, please!"

His drive tempered by her tender care made for strength and power that moved with and for them both. When it came for him, decades, perhaps centuries, of pent up need and longing bubbled through his veins and found solace in her embrace. She kissed his face and stroked his neck, strained and drooping with exertion, and held him within her until he fell away and they both dozed.

"I love you Belle." He whispered later, waking her to pepper her lips and neck with kisses and smoothed back her hair. "I've loved you for so long, even when I didn't remember."

"I remember you now. I remember all of you." Belle glanced around the room. The wreckage of pulled drawers, flung clothing, and a severely mussed bed made her laugh. "You know, I could keep house a bit for you."

"Only if you end up here at the end of the day. And I won't have you overexerting."

"Fine." She smiled. "No mopping floors. But," She reached down and picked up his shirt from the edge of the bed, "I could do something with these cuffs."

He took the shirt and tossed it to the floor. "Later." He grabbed one of her legs by the ankle and stroked her calf. "First I need to properly show you how much I appreciate your lovely curves."


THE END! Thanks for reading!