A thoughtful smile emblazoned Belle's lovely features as she sipped aromatic tea from a ceramic mug in Granny's Diner. Warmth and the aroma of raspberries coiled about her frenzied senses in a cloying steam that banished all the thoughts of the day ahead away for a little while as she languished in her normal red leather booth and watched the foot traffic pass by.
A twanging melody from the chrome jukebox nestled in the furthest corner of the diner played an old country song on vinyl. Grease popped luridly on the large stoves in the kitchens mingled with the low murmurs of orders and a few chats that mingled in the morning air. The steady plink of the fan cords overhead rapped in an incessant tattoo adding to the chorus of droning activity in the diner.
Picking at a plate of nibbled toast and a half eaten omelet, the beauty reveled in the warm spring sun coming in through the wide window and the busy drone of awakening about her. After what felt like decades, winters grip over the little town of Maine in Storybrooke was finally broken. Hot sun poked through the hazy fog of thick, cold clods of wintry clouds and naked trees. Heat and life was once more pouring over the land. Buds dotted the tree limbs in speckles of green, the winds of the sea were warm, and the earth was softening as the land came alive with flora and fauna.
"Something on your mind, Belle?" Ruby, the red attired waitress of the diner queried curiously as she came around to check on the eternally pleasant Belle.
Dressed head to high heeled foot in skimpy red clothing, the amiable Ruby was one of the beauty's best friends. Ruby was a wild woman in many senses. Her dress flew in the face of small town decorum and so did her attitude. Belle had taken an immediate kinship to the smart tongued server who spoke her mind and held nothing back.
Allowing a small sigh to escape her lush lips, the busy beauty flicked a portion of omelet across her plate. Heaving her shoulders in a shrug she looked up to the coffee wielding waitress. "Nothing in particular, Ruby. Just things I have to get done today." She admitted softly.
The scarlet clad waitress made a face of displeasure and wrinkled her nose, her golden eyes brimming with irked pity. "One of those days, huh?" She shrugged in return as Belle nodded. "Too bad. If I were you I'd find a way to take the day off. There's something wonderful about today. I'm leaving in a little while myself."
Soft laughter bubbled from Belle's smiling lips at the announcement. How had she convinced the no nonsense Granny of that? Taking a nip of her tea she looked to the waitress conspiratorially. "More time with Billy at the body shop?"
"Well." Ruby drawled almost bashfully and looked down to her high heeled feet. "That piece of scrap metal is forever breaking down on me. He does know a lot about cars and you know how much car trouble I have."
Oh yes, Belle wished to laugh. Ruby had a lot of "car troubles" of which Billy was always there to see her rescued. The entire town knew they were smitten, though every one preferred to say it was only Ruby having "car trouble" again each time they were seen out and about in his tow truck.
Shaking her head good naturedly the beauty dove back into her meal. She would have loved to simply lose the day in chatting with her friend, but she didn't have long to fritter away time at Granny's. Part of her knew she would be a bit late, but she enjoyed the restaurant and the service above any other in town. The diner had a sense of home that warmed her heart in ways she couldn't exactly understand.
Casually turning her head to the window to once more identify faces on the street and watch the passersby as she finished her meal, the beauty noticed a novelty upon the street. Slowly she stopped chewing, her eyes focused upon the asphalt. Surprise wrinkled her features at the odd sight before her.
A bright yellow bug parked opposite of the diner. The car wasn't much to notice. Mud plastered the wheels and the edges no doubt from the roads coated in spring mud and the license plate was not a main decal. There wasn't much special about the car save no one in the town had a bright yellow bug.
She squinted her eyes at the license plate trying to figure the words. As they came into focus she leaned back in surprise. No one in their town was from Boston either.
"Speaking of cars." Belle muttered through a mouthful of egg before the crimson server left her table. "Do you happen to know who rides a yellow bug around here?"
If anyone would know who rode such a car, that person would be Ruby. The diner was the pulse point of life in the small town; the blood of where all news flowed at some point or another. All gossip and information slipped through the small town through the diner with startling alacrity. Nothing went undetected under Granny's or Ruby's nose for long.
Leaning against the booth table, the waitress peered out the same window as Belle. Golden, lupine eyes that danced with flecks of black in the sun puckered as she scanned the strange vehicle for some recognition. A yellow bug? Why had she never recalled seeing that before?
Stupefaction laced her exotic features as she racked her brain at the sight of the vehicle. "Nope." Ruby shrugged finally in reply, her mind drawing a blank. "Never seen that thing before. Billy didn't even have one in the junkyard. Must be someone new in town." A huff fell from her crimson lips at her own words. "Come to think of it I don't remember the last visitor we had around here." She sighed and moved along to pour coffee in another patrons mug. "I guess that what comes when living out in the middle of nowhere."
Middle of nowhere was an understatement, the beauty knew but she didn't voice her opinion aloud. "I suppose so." Belle answered half heartedly, her attention upon the yellow bug. Inside, her mind whirled with her ever blazing curiosity and a multitude of inquires. Who owned such a bright vehicle and how had they found their way into Storybrooke?
As the car door opened a woman with long blond hair and a red leather jacket stepped out. Looking confusingly about the road where she parked, the foreign woman jogged straight way to the diner.
The brass bell about the door jangled merrily to her presence as she entered for the first time in the new town. Her face was stern, but there was a hidden softness underneath her hard shell had potential to be unlocked. Silver cuffs hung from her belt and she strode about strongly as though she was completely sure of herself in everyway. In many ways she looked akin to an officer of the law save for any badge of office upon her person.
All eyes curiously fell upon the new woman as she walked in. Conversations dribbled to a halt as they inspected the stranger within their midst's. Many had not seen a visitor in many a day. A stranger would bring a fine new string of gossip to the small towns repertoire of tales.
Striding up to the counter and trying to ignore the gazes, the foreigner sat down on a chrome and red colored stool just as Ruby slid up.
"What can I get you?" Ruby smiled wolfishly at the unknown woman in the towns center. Unabashed curiosity glimmered in her eyes as they narrow upon the stranger that loitered among them.
The new visitor had no clue she resided at the heart of the town where news of her would spread like wildfire on a savannah.
Smiling faintly, the stranger put both her hands flat on the counter. "How about just some coffee and if you can maybe a little help." Embarrassment colored her face a slight pink hue. "I'm kind of… very lost." She admitted painfully and pulled out a carefully folded highway map from her jacket. "I got off on this weird exit and I couldn't find the interstate again. Maybe you can come to my rescue here."
"Coffee I can do." Ruby nodded sturdily then her face contorted in awkward apology. "But for directions you might want to see Belle. She's a genius with just about anything on paper. Just show her your map and if she can't help you then nobody in this town can."
A gusty sigh fled from the strangers lips. "Great." She muttered wryly. "Where do I find this Belle?"
"Right here." Belle announced as she walked up behind the woman. Taking the stool to the stranger's right she smiled pleasantly. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to ease drop but I overheard you and Ruby so I though I'd save you the trip."
The stranger perched a brow incredulously, her senses guarded about her new surroundings. The folk seemed helpful and the town certainly seemed nice enough but she was a stranger among them. "You're the map whiz who can help me?"
"Not really a cartographer by trade but I know my way around a map." Belle clarified with an easy laugh. Holding out her work calloused hand she beamed, her excitement deeply contained behind the strong walls of her heart. "I'm the town librarian."
Taking her hand warily, the stranger nodded. "Emma Swan. Nice to meet you…."
"I'm Belle." The beauty shook her hand. "Mrs. Belle Gold."
Delight swarmed through Belle's brave heart as she pranced up the stone stairs outside the walk and hurriedly entered the salmon pink manse that was her home. Letting the door slam behind her the beauty all but glided about the polished and freshly waxed vestibule. Happiness sang a symphony through her heart that made her dance upon the very breath of spring.
She was here, finally after 28 years she was here!
"Belle, sweetheart?" Mr. Gold echoed confusingly about their home as he heard the door slam shut with a large bang. Soft tapping slowly echoed through the home in a steady, strong thump that grew louder with each step. In a few heartbeats the wiry form of Rumpelstiltskin appeared through the hall where his Belle stood elatedly.
Clad in a suit rather than leather, the man Mr. Gold looked little like the fiend Rumpelstiltskin of old. There was no longer any gray-gold scale or fathomless sable eyes, but he was Rumpelstiltskin just the same. His hair was combed and his nails were not abnormal black points. A hand, not some greenish talon, curled over his cane that he needed from an injury before the mantle of the Dark One had fallen upon his shoulders.
He was so different in their new land, yet he was still so much the same. The cunning had not been taken from him like the scales. He was still just as dangerous and dark though all of his power was housed on the inside rather than the out.
Alarm masked his visage as he appeared in the vestibule where his wife stood. Normally he left before Belle to his shop but the day had been different. He had decided to open up late which was unlike him, but he had felt the strong urge and rarely did he go against his instincts.
Now he felt the urge yanks at his soul in utmost urgency. Belle would never be home early unless an emergency popped up. Had something happened at Granny's or work? Had she been harassed by some cruel young ones who called her the monsters whore as they sometimes did?
"What's wrong?" He fought down a spring of panic as his eyes searched her frantically. Taping over to her the Dark One gently neared as though she were a three thousand year old porcelain doll. His eyes scanned her for any injury. "Are you hurt? Has something happened?"
Protectiveness, fierce and hostile surged within the fiend like a dark wave. Those in town should know better, he knew. He might not have been around, but all should have known better not to cause trouble for her. If anyone had done anything to his Belle….
In Storybrooke all knew of the odd relationship of the beauty Belle and the beastly Mr. Gold. Mr. Gold could be a heartless brute, but Belle, his better half was always the opposite of his flares of darkness. Whilst Mr. Gold owned a pawnshop, eager to put a price of peoples valuables, Belle worked the library, helping and freely handing out knowledge.
People oft joked in the darkest shadows that Belle kept her husband on a tight leash; otherwise he would be even more callous and black and evil. Many wondered how they could love one another, being so different, but they did and their love was known by all who truly knew them.
"She's here, Rum." Belle wrapped her husband in a massive hug. "Emma is here in Storybrooke."
Shock beat the fiend's heart into a sudden, frozen stillness. His mouth parted slightly in the surprise of her words. Had his ears suddenly failed him? The one to break the spell was amongst them?
Long ago when they fist arrived in the strange new land he had told his Belle of the one to cast the chains of their curse away. Years and years without end they had waited and now… now….
Wrapping his arms about her gently, he stared deeply into her cyan eyes. "You're sure?" He asked just for clarification. "This is the one?"
"Of course I'm sure." Belle laughed gently. "All these years, Rum. Yes I am sure this is the one."
This was no coincidence, Belle knew explicitly. The first visitor in 28 years was a woman named Emma who had managed to get to a town deep in the forests and come past the barrier of the town that no other had ever crossed. This had to be the Emma of which he divulged of her existence long ago. There could be no other.
Since their first day in the new world Gold had not held anything back from his love. He relayed to her what he had done in hopes to break Cora's curse of misery. When the spell went awry the one he had gifted with the ability to break the spell had been taken away from the magic, unable to be affected by the powers.
In the new world everyone had forgotten their old memories all save them. Why, they still knew not, though Gold was convinced the kiss had protected them from the curse when the clouds roiled over them. Black magic had no power over true love, of that he knew better than most.
Awe blanketed the fiend's cautious heart as he wrapped his mind about the thought. Emma. Finally, the curse breaker was there. "How did you meet her?" He inquired breathlessly, hoping to hide his excitement.
"I was at Granny's and she pulled up in a yellow bug." Belle explained happily in a laugh. In their old world she would have probably been on a white stallion waving a sword, but instead she had come in a run down car and hand cuffs. "She was lost and Ruby pointed to me to help give her directions."
A disbelieving laugh fell past his lips. "Well I hope you didn't give her any." He teased happily to his Belle.
"Of course not." Bell slapped at his arm playfully. "I told her it was an old map and she would have to get a new one. Meanwhile I might have… pulled a few things loose from her car." She admitted lowly.
They couldn't risk her to actually leave. Her fate was sealed somewhere else than simply leaving like she had come. As underhanded as it was she needed to stay by any means they could manage short of strapping her down to a chair.
Laughter swelled from both their hearts as they hugged one another tightly. Love and togetherness tangled them together for the moment. Things were finally trying to work themselves out. They wouldn't just be two odd people in town with a secret to keep for much longer.
Looking up to his whisky broken eyes a smile twitched on her lips. "It's wonderful isn't it?"
"Indeed." The beast rumbled in his foreign accent. Brushing a hand over her porcelain cheek he knocked a few silken ringlets from her face. "The beginning of the end, my Belle."
"Mrs. Gold?" Another voice interrupted the gentle moment of husband and wife. Soft steps scuffed the polished floor, intruding upon the moment. From another corner of the home the final resident of the manse appeared.
Clad in a faded blue maid's uniform with white tennis shoes, Cora Mills peeked from behind a corner. Haggardness donned her body from 28 years of hard labor for the Gold's. She had worked for the rich couple for as long as anyone remembered. Everyone knew she loathed working for them and only them but none held any pity for her and they were the only ones to hire her.
Warily edging into their view, the ill tempered maid Cora appeared fully to her employers. Her dark hair was pinned in a lose bun about her head. Errant tendrils of ebony wisped about her sweating face, telling of her back breaking toil.
Wiping her hands she placed them on her hips. "I was cleaning the basement when I heard voices. Is there any trouble?" She smiled slightly at the thought. With everyday that passed she lived now to see her employers in turmoil.
"None of your business. You just get back to cleaning." Gold sneered deprecating at the worn maid.
"Actually." The beauty interrupted without looking to the maid. "Take the day, Cora. I've decided I want to be her with my husband today." Belle smiled tenderly to her love, her mind not focused upon the servant at all.
Surprise suddenly dashed the cruel grin upon the maid's features. For a moment a hint of gratefulness painted her visage before hate one more took enthralling root and pooled behind her eyes. "Thank you ma'am." Cora bobbed her head.
Without gathering any implement, the maid departed from the back door leaving the pair alone in one another arms.
"You're too good to her you know." The former Dark One chuckled lowly as the vile, brought low woman departed. How could she be so good to the harpy that had been so cruel to her? Cora deserved not a lick if kindness, but Belle still offered her former captor a kindness or two when she could afford.
Inwardly, Belle knew she was not as kind as her husband made her out to be. There were demons in her that lurked about for revenge as well. Part of her always wished to treat Cora the way she had been treated, but she curbed the emotions. She didn't and would never forget what Cora had done to her, but she refused to ever be like her.
Signing pleasantly, Belle snuggled against the Dark One's sinewy body. His warmth was an anchor keeping her in the excitement. "Let's not talk about her anymore."
"Then what shall we discuss, hmm?" He rumbled jestingly in a low, playful voice. With Emma in Storybrooke there was much to be discussed and much in the ways of happiness about to reign down.
Leaning up to him, her eyes searched him lovingly. Slowly her arms wrapped about his neck, bringing his head low as she stood on her toes. Her lush mouth, barely parted, neared his own. "How about happy endings." She whispered lovingly before her lips met his own in a passionate kiss of true love.
A/N: Thanks everyone who read and reviewed! I loved writing this! I'm so grateful people take the time to read. I know I say this after every story, but I hope you all enjoyed reading as much as I did writing! Rum/Belle forever! :3