Continuing Tales

Civilised Existence

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Fyrie

Part 7 of 17

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Civilised Existence

Rumpelstiltskin returned to the castle in a foul temper.

The Queen was clawing at his borders again, and the latest deal he had hoped for had fallen apart. The ruby slippers, once so valued by the lady of the East, were rejected by her sister, the Lady of the West, in favour of a bloody vengeance on the child who stole them to begin with. His price, accordingly, changed and she turned her nose up at it.

The petty rivalries were exhausting, and some deals were beneath contempt.

While he was willing to intercede in battles if need be, to turn the tide and offer some manner of victory, he had not killed once, not since Baelfire turned away from him. His blade, his curse, was locked away, hidden from the world. It was still sharp, still ready for blood, he knew, but for the memory of his child, of the man he once was, he had promised no more killing.

To add insult upon injury, the storm sweeping over the land was merciless. Thick sheets of bitingly cold rain lashed him. The chill meant nothing to him. Immortality had few blessings, but one of them was no illness, even when soaked to the skin on the iciest night in months.

He might have used magic to travel, but as he always said, all magic comes with a cost. Twisting the fabric of the world for a little comfort and warmth was folly, when the price could be so much more than any man could pay. At the very most, he would use it to hide himself, but whether that was purely the magic or something of himself, he could not decide.

By the time he slammed through the doors of the castle, there was not a part of him that was dry or in any way pleased.

"You look like something the wyvern dragged in." The voice drifted from a small window nook, just beside the door. Belle leaned out with a smile, then approached him, bearing a thick, warm blanket. "I thought you might need this."

His fury abated somewhat, the raging anger that had tightened around him like armour loosening and falling away. "Very generous, dearie," he murmured, reaching out for it.

"Not at all," she replied, holding the blanket close against her chest. Her eyes were dancing with a mischief that made him more than a little suspicious. "I just washed the floor in here this morning, and if you think I'm going to let you trail mud and puddles all through the castle, you have another thing coming."

He risked a glance down at himself, his drenched clothes that were already leaving a spreading pool on the floor, his mud-thick boots, then back at the girl, who was looking more and more pleased with herself and less and less innocent with each passing moment.

Belle gave the blanket a little shake. "Off with it all," she said. "Now. You're not going anywhere in those things."

He was quite sure he said something along the lines of refusal, but when the sounds reached his ears, it sounded more like a stammered splutter. His cheeks felt suddenly very warm, and his head very light.

Belle's cheeks were looking unusually pink, but she raised her eyebrows in wordless challenge. Her lips were twitching.

"Belle…" he cajoled.

"Housekeeper rules," she declared, smiling brilliantly.

He put his head to one side. "How do you propose to stop me? It's my castle?"

For a moment, her lower lip jutted out. "You don't want to upset me?" she asked in a small voice.

Rumpelstiltskin was at a loss for words, not helped by the fact that the lady of the castle promptly burst into that merry laughter of hers. He scowled. So she wanted to tease, did she? Very well!

His coat hit the floor, splattering the puddle everywhere, and suddenly, she wasn't laughing anymore.

He fixed his eyes on her face, watching the colour rising in her cheeks, the way she bit her bottom lip, the way her breath caught, as his waistcoat followed. His fingers fumbled for only a moment with his shirt, before it too landed in a heap on the floor.

He didn't know who was breathing harder, the only sound the ragged in and out of their breaths. Her hands were white, clenched around the blanket, and she was staring at him as if she could barely believe he was daring to meet her challenge. His own head was spinning, and he reached for his belt.

She moved closer, and he could see her heart racing, in her throat, at her breast.

The blanket unfurled in her hands, and she stepped close to him, so close he could feel the brush of the fabric of her dress against his chest. "That wasn't so hard, was it?" she asked in a breathless whisper, as she swept the blanket around his shoulders.

His hands moved of his own accord, shaping her waist, holding her there for just a moment, just a breath, just enough to convince himself it wasn't some illusion. His hands weren't the only ones to move. Her eyes never left his as she loosened his belt, drawing it free, then touched his waist.

Her skin was scorching, even the lightest of touches of her fingertips.


She rose on her toes, and for a terrifying moment, he thought she might kiss him, and he knew that if she did, he wouldn't have the resolve or the willpower to push her back.

"I'll see you by the fire," she whispered, her lips so close to his ear that he could feel every word. She breathed in softly, as if inhaling the scent of him, then out, and he was shaking so hard that he was sure she could hear his knees knocking together.

And just like that, she yanked his trousers down to drop in a heap around his ankles, then turned and strolled off, as if she hadn't just taken his whole world, shaken it until it rattled and kicked it across the universe.

Civilised Existence

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Fyrie

Part 7 of 17

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