I am fervently against the idea of Belle being Pregnant this season. But I am not against it happening in the future, seriously like a year or two down the road...or three. And I'm not going to lie. For those of you that are reading my Moments Series, I am wrist deep in Lacey's story right now, I'm still trying to figure up how to break up Moments Seen and Unseen, and after last nights episode I think we can all agree that a Happy Rumbelle moment was called for...even if it hasn't happened yet. They'll get their happy ending someday, just not anytime soon probably.
Oh and for the record this is NOT part of the moments series. It's just its own little one shot.
It's never the time. It's never the place. It never would have been for the two of them, considering who they were and the life they led.
It would never have been perfect.
That's why they both pretended at first. When she got sick on the first morning they both chalked it up to not feeling well, or a virus, or food poisoning. She stayed home for a week, growing increasingly frustrated because her symptoms always ended by the afternoon. He suspected but didn't dare speak the suspicion. And when he came home one night to see her cleaning out the refrigerator, going over all the expiration dates, smelling everything, and tasting anything that might possibly have gone bad, seeking out the culprit he let her. Because neither are ready to admit that it might be something different.
The next week she put up with it, falling asleep each morning as he drove them to town. He would leave her at the library for the day, reminding her to use the apartment upstairs and call him if she still wasn't feeling well or if she got too tired. She nodded, kissed his cheek and told him she'd see him at lunch. But on the last day before the weekend she had lunch with Ruby and was quiet during the short drive back to the house. It wasn't until they were standing in the kitchen and began talking about whether or not she was feeling up for dinner that she sighed and shook her head.
"Rumple," she muttered, putting an end to the endless rambling he'd been doing. She turned her back on him and went digging around in her shoulder bag, the entire time going on and on about something. Something about Ruby coming over to see her first thing that morning. About talking over her symptoms. About telling her she had to accept the obvious. "She gave me this," on the dividing wall between them she set between them a home pregnancy test. It was only when he realized he wasn't surprised in the least that he understood how long he'd truly had his own suspicions. Still, he was speechless in the moment. What was he supposed to say? Ignoring it was one thing, but a definite answer?! What if she really was pregnant? Last time he'd been happy, ready to die, to do anything to save his child. But it had all gone so horribly wrong that the thought of another one…his heart pounded and he felt his body break into panic even as he stood there calmly staring between the two of them.
One look at her face and he knew she was just as scared as he was. They'd talked about kids. Every time they'd brought it up they'd both agreed, now wasn't the time. The excuses were endless. There was always something. Always danger. One of them was always required for some task. His relationships seemed to be in a state of perpetual instability. For the moment things between him and Baelfire were touch and go. His son liked Belle and sometimes he was surprised to learn that they got along better than he had ever expected. But still he was unable to forget their past. And then there was the two of them. They were fine this week, but fighting was inevitable. There were still times that she went to stay at the library apartment for a couple of days after bigger fights and arguments so they could both clear their heads. Could they really bring a baby into this?
They didn't have a choice. She carried the test out of the bathroom with such a stunned look that he didn't need to see the little positive sign to know the result. It was reflected in her eyes.
They were quiet for days. Only speaking when they had to. They weren't angry. They were just stunned, both completely caught off guard. They really just didn't know what to say to one another. It honestly just seemed easier to go back to pretending that it wasn't happening. How could something like this have happened? He knew how it happened…he just didn't know why. They'd been so careful! Was it some joke fate decided to play on him? On them? Because they hadn't had enough problems already?!
And what was she thinking? For the first time since he could remember she was unreadable. Her face falsely cool and collected. "Morning", "breakfast", "time to go", "see you at lunch", "how was your day", "what should we do for dinner", and "Bed?" was all their daily conversation consisted of. It was starting to drive him crazy!
Then one night, she crawled into bed and didn't curl into him as usual. He glanced over to find her staring wide-eyed at the ceiling above her, looking like she'd just seen a ghost. "Belle?" he'd questioned, wondering if she wasn't feeling well again.
"We have to talk about it eventually," she whispered.
He nodded, it was true. They could only pretend it wasn't happening for so long. Arrangements would need to be made, people would need told, things done. But none of that mattered to him outside of what she was thinking. "What do you want to talk about?"
She only shrugged, and it worried him more than anything thus far. It was unlike her. She always had something to say, always knew what to talk about and what words to use. In that way she wasn't much different than him really. But silence during emotional situations? Now that was his forte! He didn't know how to respond to it if it was her.
"Just start talking," he muttered "say anything on your mind. Start there." Start anywhere! He hated the silence. He wanted her to talk to him again, to tell him things. And, frankly, until this moment he hadn't realized how much he'd missed talking to her over these past few days until this moment. But now that their silence was broken, he wanted them to stop acting so scared of something that should be good. They were grown adults, he was centuries old for gods sake! He had a grown son and grandson. So it wasn't planned, it didn't mean they'd done something wrong! Just spontaneous.
Suddenly she rolled over and perched herself up on her elbow as she gazed down at him. "I think we can do this," she stated in one breath. He stared at her, shocked at the admission. It wasn't what he was expecting. He'd been expecting worries, fears, planning even. Not...confidence. "I, I," she took a deep breath and shoved her hair out of her face, trying to collect herself and her thoughts "I know we didn't plan on it, and I know it's not going to be easy for anyone, but I think we can do it."
"I never doubted we could," he stated.
"We'll both need to make some changes, but I think they can be done if we both try," she rambled on, like she hadn't heard him. "I'll need to learn how to accept help once in a while," she pointed out. He nodded. It was true. Her one great flaw: sometimes she pretended like she could take on the world all by herself, forgetting he was there, forgetting Ruby, and Ariel, and all the others she had that volunteered to help her. If there was anything needed for a baby, especially the child of the Dark One, a child that would be related to Snow White and the shepard David and yes, as much as it made him want to sneer, Regina by proxy, help would be welcomed. "And you-"
"We both know I wasn't the world's greatest father, Belle," he pointed out as she turned on him.
"It's not that," she whispered in a kind and reassuring voice. "It's much simpler," she concluded.
He was so curious that it made his skull itch. His first thought was that he'd have to change everything this time around, what was she thinking he needed to change? She moved over closer to him, breaking the no man's land they'd had since they first confirmed the news. It was comforting, her touch automatically eased his mind, and though he hadn't heard her words yet, he knew no matter what it was, he could do it. She was right. They could do this. It might not be the time and it might not be the place but he knew that so long as they had each other, they could do anything…even conquer the world if she was so inclined.
"You can't be on your own any more," she whispered, "you have to live for more than yourself. It's not just me that will need you anymore."
"I know you know. But knowing and doing are two completely different things."
"How do you expect me to prove something to you that will happen in the future?" he questioned frustrated.
"You don't have to," she corrected. "I already know you can. But you have to believe you can too."
He smiled at her, wondering how he'd ever deserved a beautiful soul such as hers. How had he ever gotten lucky enough to have her there with him? After all the crimes that he'd committed, with a soul as black as his surely was, it didn't make any sense that she should love him. And yet, no matter how hard he'd tried to deny it, no matter how many times he warned himself that it was only temporary, he knew somewhere deep down that she did love him. He wasn't the best person in the world, but as long as she saw him as a good man, he felt like he could be anything, do anything…even be a better father. "You'll be here with me?"
She glanced up at him and smiled, "every step of the way."
They could do this.
They didn't try to conceal it, or hide it from others. But they didn't publicize it either. He told Bae. He felt that he had the right to know that he was going to be a brother. As it turned out, that was nearly as good as making an announcement in the paper. Bae told Henry, who proudly proclaimed "So I'm going to be an Uncle?!"With Henry's knowledge, Regina found out soon enough, sooner than he would have liked, and whether Belle liked it or not, he certainly kept a closer watch on her, once he knew.
"Nephew, buddy," Bae had corrected. Bae was also responsible for telling Emma, who told Snow and her Prince Charming. From there the news spread like wildfire. Belle opted to tell Ruby. She had to since she called the morning after to find out about the test. She also chose to pass the news along to Ariel and the rest of the small group of friends she'd managed to make despite having the stigma of dating the Dark One. And a few months later, it was too hard to hide and the rumors turned into whispers, which turned into bold truth every time someone questioned one of those close to her behind her back and they answered "yeah, she's pregnant. They seem happy."
There were ups. The moment that she suddenly burst out into laughter during dinner, then gasped in amazement and wonder. She'd reached for his hand and pressed it against her abdomen and whispered only "feel". They both sat still for a moment, before he felt the flutter of life beneath her skin. In that beautiful moment it became real. They both broke into a wide smile and their dinner sat forgotten on the table as they found their way into each other's arms and their lips met in a celebration that should have happened when they'd first found out.
There were downs. Twice there had been emergencies in town. She'd helped with the first, when she was only three months along and still capable of fleeing and fighting, but after a close call they decided it was probably best she stay on the sidelines until the baby was born. And the second time, she'd been eight months when he realized he'd been right not to trust Regina. Old habits died hard, and he knew their timid truce wouldn't last, and when it ended Regina would use what she could to destroy them. The child was just another tool she could use. And he couldn't let that as the Queen was, they weren't taking any chances and she'd hidden from the former Queen in the cabin with Emma and Snow as her guards until the issue could be resolved. But it helped to have ally's for the first time in his life. Maybe it wasn't just her that had to learn to accept help. He did too. It was a strange family they made…but it was easy compared to what she'd faced on her side.
At six months, she'd decided that if Bae could give him another chance then she could do the same with her father. Baelfire went with her. They decided he was the better choice for a number of reasons. His heart had ached as the pair of them left his shop for her fathers. He wanted, truly wanted, good news when she came back…if only for her sake. Bae brought her back to his home, as agreed when it was over, but they were early. And he knew the second he saw her face how she was hurting. "I'm fine," she muttered kissing him quickly as a greeting and moving out of the room, "I'm going to make dinner." His son followed her in and exchanged a glance with him "it didn't exactly go well," he explained with another shake of his head.
"Thanks," he muttered, still staring after her. "I'll take care of it." But how? How could he? Emotional distress was what she handled, he had no idea what to say to her at moments like this. He knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to go down to the flower shop and take his cane and…. Standing between him and her father was not the place she needed to be right now. It might make him feel better, but it wouldn't help anything in the end. It wouldn't help her.
He followed her into the kitchen and watched her flutter around, making herself busy. It was her way of dispersing stress and anger. And it killed him to watch the woman that had been so peaceful and happy only nights before, now swipe tears away from her eyes and pretend like it wasn't bothering her. How could a man not want to see his child happy? It was absolutely baffling to him.
"He'll regret it," he told her, in a low voice that he just couldn't seem to make loud enough.
"I know," she answered pulling out pots and pans and slamming them on the counter with more vigor than was necessary. Of course she knew. She understood the world better than he did. And after bearing witness to the mess that was he and Baelfire she would know better than anyone what her father would think and feel now that he'd let her go again. But it didn't seem to comfort her.
"Belle," he meant to question her, to say something but the word seemed to break her resolve and she was suddenly hunched over the sink. She heaved a great sigh of frustration and also defeat. He knew that it hadn't been a good idea to go.
He made his way over to her, slowly and carefully, like she was a fawn he might scare away if he approached too quickly. He didn't know what to say. He knew what he wanted to say: "Belle, I'm so sorry, this is all my fault." But it was a conversation they had so often he knew the words that would follow by heart: "No, it isn't! It's not your fault. It's his, because he can't accept me, or us, as we are. It's his loss not ours," and she'd throw her arms around him, tell him that she loved him more than anyone else, and in a weird twist of fate she would end up comforting him. But, that again, wasn't what she needed right now. He didn't know what to do.
He placed a hand on her shoulder, and felt the muscles beneath his hand tighten quickly before easing. Once he was certain that she wasn't going to pull away he wrapped his arms around hers, loosening her grip on the sink and pulling her back against him. He wrapped an arm around her waist over the belly which was growing more and more day by day. "Tell me what you need," he whispered in her ear, begging her to tell him how to fix this that didn't involve following his natural instinct to hunt, maim, and kill, "tell me what to say."
She turned in his embrace and he could see her eyes glistening with tears that remained unshed. "Promise me that you'll be there forever," she asked, "promise me that you'll never leave me alone again." She wasn't asking for perfection. She wasn't asking for it to be the right time or the right place, for them never to fight, or have disagreements, or even to live happily ever after. She was simply begging never to be rejected again. She could handle being tossed aside by her father. She could bear the black mark the town felt he left upon her soul. But she wouldn't survive if she lost him, something they'd both repeatedly told each other. He couldn't promise her that it would all be ok. Or that they'd never fight or have disagreements, or that they'd live happily ever after, he couldn't promise that there would ever be a right time or place. But it was easy enough to promise that he'd always be there. For as long as she wanted him or as long as she'd take him, probably even after that, he'd be there. For her and their child.
They both worry about how they'll be. They've both been scarred in some way by some terrible past experience. He with Bae and her by the mother she never reflected on. But she was already better than she knew. It was in the way that she took to bringing home children's books and stocking them in the nursery Snow and Ruby put together. How she spent her night now reading something like "Good-night Moon" quietly to herself and the child within her. It was how she had taken to sleeping, breaking their habit of sleeping curled against his chest and instead pressed her back to him, placing a pillow under the bulge between her hips. She'd said it was for comfort, but he suspected that it had more to do with the babies comfort than her own. It was an instinct to shelter and protect that she didn't even know about, that he didn't know about as he fit his body against hers and let his arm trace her own and hide the concealed child from the world.
And it was in the way she flawlessly dealt with it when things got more complicated. When sleep became harder, more difficult to come by for her, she never once complained. She worked only every other day and took time off of work to stay home. She'd catch two or three hours at a time, then be awake for five or six before retiring again for another couple of hours. They stayed together though. When he slept, she stayed in bed, knowing that he needed her to sleep. When she napped he followed her upstairs and wrapped himself around them both, providing the little mental comfort he could against the physical discomfort that she felt.
They couldn't decide on the little things. Picking out the furniture was easy, neither was terribly picky about that sort of thing so when Ruby and Snow volunteered to do it she'd let them. He was grateful that she'd always called them over after he was out of the house. She seemed to understand that outsiders in their private area still made him uncomfortable, but she didn't complain because she knew that at least it was theirs...and he tolerated the visits for her sake alone.
But the name…that was a different story. Names were everything to him, so important and telling. For him "Belle" wasn't just a word describing her physical appearance, it described her very being. When they'd pondered what his name said about him she'd just smiled and kissed him swiftly on the cheek. "It's perfect," she said "old and complicated, just like you." So, it wasn't surprising to him that names didn't come easy. But all they'd managed so far was to spend hours late at night talking about what not to name it. They went back and forth, discarding name after name that they didn't like, but never settling on one they did.
"Not Peter," he added to the list one night.
"No, definitely not Peter," she agreed. "I don't like Lacey."
"Terrible name," he confirmed.
"Not in a million years," he muttered. "Not Maurice or Gaston. Not Keith"
"Not Cora or Milah," she countered expertly with an air of irritation. It only made him smile behind her back. Touché.
"Not Tinkerbell or Henry."
"No," she conceded sleepily "that's not it either."
"Whatever we decide it can't be worse than..."
"Snow," they finish together with a little matched chuckle.
"It's no matter," he muttered for the millionth time "we've still got time." After a moment of silence he glanced down at her and realized that her eyes had closed and her chest gently rose and fell with the peace that accompanied finally finding sleep after a long journey, which was certainly what they'd been on all this time. "We'll think of something," he whispered, settling around her and keeping watch over the two of them.
She'd been very insistent from the beginning that there would be no hospitals or doctors involved. He couldn't say he blamed her, given that her only true memories of them were of being drugged, lied to, and held captive. He imagined that for her, suggesting that she go back to the hospital to have the child would have been like someone suggesting to him that she deliver the baby in his cell in The Enchanted Forest. And really, it wasn't that unspeakable, not in this town, where half of the women were mid-wives and had delivered children without a sterile hospital for generations. They prepared for every possible situation. The picked out one of the bedrooms where she could give birth in the house and made sure the apartment over the library was just as ready. In the end it was Granny and Ruby that she trusted enough to help her, with one of the dwarves on stand-by, just in case.
For once their over preparations came in handy. She called one day from the library. Or rather Ruby called on her behalf. She'd come to town, this rare time, to check on the library and talk to Ruby about preparations, which was apparently where she'd been when her water broke. It certainly wasn't the time, definitely wasn't the place, and was the complete opposite of perfect. But it was happening, whether they were ready for it or not.
He'd never really been one for cell phones, but as he'd walked quickly over to the small apartment, he was suddenly glad that he had it, that he could call Baelfire and tell him what was happening, to prepare his family but to request that they stay away. They'd agreed they didn't want anyone there except for those that had to be. A few hours into the process he knew they'd made the right choice. Hell, he was happy enough that there was no one else in the library. He hadn't been present for the birth of Bae, but he'd heard stories and knew that it wasn't an easy process. Yet, he wasn't ready for the screaming that would come, or the way her body would writhe, and would sweat like she'd just run twenty miles instead of just laying on the bed for the last four hours. He wasn't prepared for how strong she would become as each grip on his hand became bone crunching or how she didn't need to tell him how painful it was because the look on her face said it all.
And then it was happening. After hours of waiting the moments suddenly flew by in a blur neither of them had expected. Widow Lucus instructed, Ruby encouraged, she pushed, and the whirlwind continued on until it broke for one brief beautiful moment in the middle. "Just one more," the old woman told her "just one more."
But she settled back against the pillow, eyes wet, face contorted, and hair sticking to her face as she shook her head. "I can't," she concluded in a disappointed voice. "I can't, I can't."
"Belle, you can, you have to," Ruby urged.
"No," she wailed "no, no, I can't." The girl and her grandmother exchanged glances before she looked over at him and raised her eye brows. She wanted him to say something. But words failed him. He wasn't good at it under best of conditions how was he supposed to do it now, when she was like this and they were watching and the room wasn't big enough or private enough. It wasn't the time, it wasn't the place! But the tightening of her hand summoned the man within him that hid even beyond the one she'd already uncovered. It was the man she could make him into, that she would, if only they could move beyond this moment.
He brushed her hair off her face and pressed his lips to her damp skin. "You are a hero," he muttered, forgetting the presence of the other two women there with them. "You are the bravest most capable person I have ever known and if anyone can do this, you can." The world seemed to slow as he waited for a response, as he hoped that what he'd said might encourage her enough to do the impossible, to do what had to be done. He could help her, but he knew that if he used magic at a time like this she might never forgive him. They had to do this on their own. With only each other to help.
After what seemed like a lifetime she nodded, quickly, like she was afraid she might change her mind if they waited too long. The others seemed to share that fear. No sooner had she made the gesture than Lucas nodded and asked if she was ready and started to count. The world sped up again like the moment hadn't slowed it in the slightest. At number 3 her fingers tightened. At number 6 she started to scream again. At 8 there was a loud high-pitched cry that drowned out her wails. And at number 9 there was no doubt that there were five people in the room instead of four.
The tiny, squirming, infant was placed on her belly, and instantly her fingers relaxed, her cries stopped, and if she was still in pain all traces of it disappeared from her face as her entire body seemed to ease. Something was cut. Towels were brought. A gender was announced. But he didn't notice any of it. Only her face as she stared down at the slippery creature in her arms, swiftly cleaning and wrapping, gently tightening, instinctively cooing until the cries stopped, and the child fell into quiet sleep against her. "I'm, I'm a," she stuttered, the very thought too overwhelming for the simple words required. "I love you," she whispered instead, placing a tearful kiss upon the baby's soft head.
Ten fingers. Ten toes. Strong lungs. Perfectly healthy. No name was chosen yet. But he loved the child. Already. He loved both of them. More than he ever thought possible. It was a connection deeper and for more mysterious and powerful than any magic he'd ever confronted. But it was certain. And it was forever.
It might not have been planned, or expected. It might not have been easy or carefree. Neither seemed to have the words necessary to explain the moment that two souls became bonded through another as a family he'd never thought he'd get the chance to have again. It wasn't the time. It wasn't the place.
But why should that have made it any less perfect.