Continuing Tales

Storybrooke's Tale of Beauty and the Beast

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Teddy's Twin

Part 21 of 37

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Storybrooke's Tale of Beauty and the Beast

~: Belle :~

Belle didn't really like lying to Mary Margret and Emma about where she was going, but she was keeping this trip a secret. Even from Rumpelstiltskin himself. She had told him she was showering, but really, she was running to see him. It hadn't started that way. First she'd just pranced down the stairs and out the door, then began to walk. Walking had slowly turned into a brisk pace down the sidewalk, which had then turned to a half jog. Now she was running, excitement overbearingly making her legs move faster and faster. She hadn't seen him for so long now, she couldn't help but be ecstatic.

She panted breathily, smiling all the way.

She turned the corner sharply, and ran right up the steps of his rather large house- a lot of steps for a man with a bad leg, and stepped into the light of the porch. She knocked on the door, controlling her breathing and waiting while she felt his presence look to see who was at the door.

In a flash he was opening the door, drawing her inside, and peering around outside to see if anyone had seen her.

He slammed the door behind her, turning piercing eyes to her. "What're you doing here?"

"I came to see you," she said, a little timidly.

He stared at her a little longer, taking her in, before holding her to him. "You need to be more careful, dearest."

She felt reckless, "Aren't you happy I'm here?"

"I'm not unhappy," he teased. The familiar line was bittersweet. She pulled back, her smile skeptical. "Clever girl," he continued, "running around this provincial town without my detecting it."

"You were just waiting until I got out of the bath," she said, pulling away and walking through to a room. She'd never been inside his house before.

"Yes, yes I was. Cunning," he was suddenly before her, touched her nose with the tip of one of his long fingers. She liked his hands- they were expressive, always constantly moving. She wrinkled her nose at him, moving past him again. "What are you looking for?"

"Nothing in particular," she told him truthfully. "I'm just exploring."

"Your curiosity will be the death of you my dear," he sighed exasperatedly. "If it's not the death of me first."

She looked back at him sarcastically, before moving forward.

"Might I at least take your coat?" his voice came back up behind her ear.

"Certainly," she shrugged herself out of it, letting him take it from her. She turned to smile at him, "Did I surprise you at all?"

"More than I care to think," he told her, the coat taking wing and landing on a rack next to the door.

"What makes you say that?" Belle turned to face him full on then, worried by the tone of his voice.

"I've had everything change in my life in less than two weeks, my dear. I don't want it to change again."

"Even if it changes for the better?"

"How much better can it get?"

She smiled serenely, moving on to the next room. It was a wide, circular room, with little furniture in it. A very small ballroom, she determined as she spotted the hanging chandelier. "Do you like music?" she wondered, an idea forming in her head as she meandered towards the center of the room.

"It depends on the genre."

It would, she smiled to herself. She spun to face him then. "Do you like to dance?"

He stepped closer distrustfully, "I feel as though I'm being cornered here." He offered his hand.

She smiled, taking it delicately, elated that he was going to play along. "You might be."

"I do not plan to dance with you, my dear, even though you may wish it," he told her, drawing her away from the room. Her hopes plummeted.

"Why ever not?" she asked, trying to hide the disappointment from her tone.

"Because," he tilted his head at her as they walked into a living room, "this is not the occasion."

"What shall be the occasion?" she demanded, twisting her mouth.

"I will let you know when it shows itself," he told her. "Now, back to why you are here."

"I came to see you," she repeated.

"Well, you've seen me," he let go of her hand to gesture at himself. "Now will you be off?"

"No," she frowned. This was not going the way she had planned, even though she hadn't planned anything exactly. "I plan on staying a moment longer if possible. If it doesn't inconvenience you." She couldn't help but let a bit of her bitterness seep in at the last bit.

He grinned at that, not answering her, before flitting away, "If you insist on staying, please, take a seat."

She sat on a sofa that he gestured to, before he disappeared through a door. She bit her lip, wondering if this had been the right decision after all. She'd never considered this possibility, the possibility that now that his curse was lifted, and he could use magic, that he wouldn't want her around. Of course he would make sure she wasn't hurt. He felt responsible for her, but …

No. Her hand made a fist. She was not some silly girl pining away.

He had kissed her, had broken her curse, just as she had broken his. It meant true love.

And then she gasped as she realized.

He was toying with her, a cat with a ball of yarn, or a mouse with it's tail under his paw. He always had loved to tease her, to make her feel odd emotions. He found it amusing to toy with her heart?

"You look determined there, dearest," he said, coming back into the room, holding a tray with tea on it. The irony abounds, she thought with fondness.

"Yes," she said, standing up, and taking the tray from his hands. She wasn't about to have anyone, even him, trying to tease her into sadness. She'd had enough sadness in her life, she thought determinedly as she put the tray down on the coffee table. She'd pull her tail right out from under his paw, she decided, turn the tables on him.

She kissed him then, pressing her hands to his face, feeling his jaw and his high cheekbones under her fingers. It was exhilarating, the awake, alive feeling that she'd had when her curse had been lifted, liberating her entirely from the turmoil of doubt. It really was freedom, joy- She felt his surprise, shocked into unresponsiveness until his hands came around her, pulling her closer. She let it continue, felt him try to deepen the kiss, but no. She pushed away from him then, tilting her head, and sitting back down and crossing her legs as though to say, Your move.

"Ah, I see what you did there," his smile was Cheshire in nature. He sat next to her in one easy fluid motion, eyeing her appreciatively. "What are you doing here?" he asked again.

"I came to be with you," she amended, shaking her head at his antics.

"There we go," he grinned, sitting back, still drinking her in. "Now, what shall we do?"

"Whatever you think is best," she gestured to him.

"Whatever I think is best?" he repeated her sentence, making it a question. His eyebrows were high on his forehead. "My dear, you've come to the den of the lion, and you expect to leave after tell me I can do whatever I think is best?"

She sat forward, head in her hand, elbow resting on her knee. "Yes," she challenged, raising one eyebrow. They sat there staring at one another. She admired his tawny brown eyes. She had been right, they were a different color from before, and they were not catlike. She couldn't decide which she liked more. She could see there was some strain there. He was resisting something. She could only guess at what it could be. He'd always been a closed book that she had to pry open to read a single phrase before it slammed shut again.

"Tea?" he asked her, backing down more quickly than she wanted him to, already picking up a cup for her.

"Thank you," she nodded at him, watching him pour the tea from his pot.

He handed her the cup. It wasn't very pretty. She wondered what had happened to their set. "So, dearest, you have two jobs," he commented easily, matter of factly.

"That I do," she agreed after taking a scalding sip. He'd always liked his tea too hot for her liking. She smiled through the burning sensation, "A free and independent woman."

"Excellent. I'm sick of you sleeping on a mattress," he sounded perturbed, his eyes darkening. He didn't need to worry.

"It suits me fine. I slept on a bench for nigh on twenty eight years. Anything is more comfortable than that," she explained in all truthfulness. She was happy to have a mattress at all, with warm, well loved blankets and thin, soft sheets. The pillows had been the most luxurious. There were two of them. She liked how they smelled, like her home from the Enchanted Forest. It was a comforting, familiar scent, that sent her images of her mother.

"I suppose it would be," her words had only made his voice blacker, "And you're doing far too much."

She felt her eyebrows draw together, "What do you mean far too much?" she wondered, setting her tea on the saucer.

"I mean that you have yet to take ten minutes of a break," he pointed out. He hadn't taken a sip of his tea. He seemed busy studying her, and pointing out the obvious.

"I've been busy," she shrugged. He knew that. There was so much to do, so much to learn. How could she not be?

"Yes I know," his tone was bleakly sarcastic, him mouth twitching into a miffed expression.

"I have to learn quickly," she told him, the thoughts of discovering exciting her, "Everything changes so fast around here. The technology is baffling."

"It won't matter once we're back," he said flippantly, taking his first gulp of his tea.

"Once we're back? Back where?" she sat back, curious as to his meaning, careful to balance the cup so it didn't spill.

"Back home."

Her mouth made an "O." He meant their world. She hadn't thought about that. "I suppose you're right. I hadn't really planned on going back."

"What do you plan on then, dearest?" he wondered aloud, setting his tea and saucer on the table.

She planned on living here, here with him. Of course, a lot would have to change first. But she wasn't going to tell him her plan. So she looked at the table, putting her own tea down as she said, "I haven't thought about it."

"Don't lie to me," he said, leaning forward.

She tilted her head at him, before ducking her head, feeling the blush dust across her face.

"I think I like your plans," his voice lilted, knowingly.

She looked up fiercely to find his knowing smile spreading across her face, "You told me once that you aren't able to read minds."

"Yes, but I have always been able to feel and interpret wishes," he told her, his eyes keen, fixed on hers as they danced. "It's part of the job."

She buried her face in her hands, embarrassed. She had forgotten he knew almost everything again, now that he had his magic back. She didn't know how she was going to survive him knowing that she wanted to be – no, she had to stop thinking of it or he really would know everything.

His long fingers wrapped around her wrists, pulling her hands away until she looked up at him. "You needn't hide from me, dearest."

"It's not very fair," she pointed out, finding herself sounding rather childish as she said it.

"I know that. Since when have I played fair?" he teased, drawing her in closer to him by her wrists.

"Never," she twisted her mouth ruefully. At least he hadn't outright rejected her wish. Well, the previous wish. Now she was wishing she would just fall through the ground.

"However, I wish you weren't wishing to be swallowed up by the earth. I think I've done that. It's not very pleasant," his mouth pulled at one corner as his eyebrows set sarcastically over his eyes.

"No, no," she teased, slipping her wrists from his hands and entwining her fingers in his. "You stomped your way to hell, remember?"

"Ah yes. This world has odd retellings of our tales," he told her, his fingers threading their way so that their hands were almost too knotted to ever be untangled.

"It does!" she agreed, sitting up straighter. "I was reading our tale, but you were not in it. Well, not as Rumpelstiltskin. And I had brothers and sisters, and there was no Gaston."

"Yes I rather liked that part," he grinned at her.

She wrinkled her nose at him, giggling, "It said the story originated in France in this world. I wish I knew French."

"Pourquoi est-ce?" he said without missing a beat.

She stared at him with newfound awe. He knew a different language? "You speak French?" she asked excitedly.

"Un peu," he tilted his head back and forth.

"What does that mean?" she questioned, watching his face for the explanation.

"N'aimeriez-vous pas de savoir?" his smile was quick and sarcastic.

"You're just going to tease me in French," Belle sighed exasperatedly, rolling her eyes.

"Dans n'importe quelle langue si vous le souhaitez. Espanol?" his accent changed, "Deutsch vielleict?"

"You're showing off now," she tightened her mouth to keep it from turning up, pulling her hands from his and folding her arms in front of her.

"That's right. Are you impressed yet?" he asked leaning forward eagerly, his brogue sounding more powerful than usual after speaking in different tongues.

"No. Why? Should I be?" she countered quickly, her mouth holding back a smile as she looked into his dancing eyes.

"Oui. Parce que chaque jour j'ai pensé à toi."

"I give up," she threw her hands in the air.

He caught them in his, drawing them to him, making her lean closer, "I could teach you," he offered.

"Really?" her excitement lit her up. New languages had always been fascinating to her.

"For a price," he countered, challenging her drive.

There is always a price, "Name it," she responded immediately. She wasn't afraid of him.

"What would be equal to learning a language?" he wondered, loosing one of her hands to rub his chin theatrically.

"A kiss?" she tried, her smile wide and her voice over eager.

He tilted his head at her, "No, no, far too easy." Her face fell. She knew it wouldn't be that easy, "Perhaps your first born?" he suggested, taking her hand in his once more.

"Sounds a little steep," she made a face at him.

"Haggling with me now, eh? That's plucky," he grinned his Cheshire grin.

"I've been told I'm the bravest of them all," she smiled confidently, thinking of Henry's confidence boost.

"And the most humble," he nodded, and she felt thoroughly abashed, ducking her head. "We still have to discuss the subject of payment. You can't get something for nothing you know."

"All magic comes at a price," she recited. "So how come you can use magic all the time and it doesn't cost you?"

"Oh it does cost me. It drains me of my energy supplies," he told her truthfully.

"That's the balance?" she was surprised. She thought he had to pay homage to a higher being or something.

"Of course. What were you expecting?" he wondered, and she saw that teasing light in his eye. She wasn't about to have him mocking her for the rest of eternity about her silly notions. "Well, there is more to it, there are magical balances, there has to be. Elsewise the world wouldn't function. Too much magic causes problems."

She nodded, agreeing with that. "So how come you charge people their children then?" she diverted.

He noticed it, but answered her all the same. "Large enough spells take a lot out of me."

"How much did making the curse cost you?" she asked, her voice grave.

His tone matched her seriousness, sitting up and lowering his head, "A great deal."

She tried not to, but she had to ask, leaning in closer to peer into his eyes. "Rumpelstiltskin, why did you make it?"

He was silent, his eyes darkening, clouding over.

"It would have saved us this- this odd reunion," she chose the word odd carefully, half trying to lighten the mood.

"Remember, you were dead," he reminded her with severity in his tone, "I knew nothing of your imprisonment. I would not have made it otherwise."

She shook her head. He was not really answering her question, "But why-?"

"Must you always be so insatiably curious, my dear?" he sighed, sounding frustrated. She wished she hadn't pried, and watched as he smirked wryly at her. It took her a split second later that he had heard her wish, and bit her lip. He continued, granting her wish, "The Queen told me you had died. I had already begun it a long while ago. My son – was lost, as you know, and I poured my – darker, emotions into the curse. When I heard news of your death, - I completed it."

She fell utterly silent. It was her fault that the curse had been made then. It was because she had left him. She'd caused him pain enough to drive him to misery for all others. It was her fault… Her fault.

"All this talk of darkness is ruining my good mood. My skin will turn that nasty green again if we wallow in it, and I've had enough of that complexion to last me a life time." He was trying to make her smile, and it was working, "It'll ruin yours too, my dear if you're not careful. Now up, up, up!" he ordered, leaping to his feet and offering her his hands. "You wanted a tour of the house. There are a couple of rooms you should see!"

She smiled fondly at him, giving him her hands, and he pulled her to her feet, right into him. He kissed her nose then, before tugging her along.

He did take her through his rooms. They started in the rather creepy cellar, all the way up, discovering a small library that doubled as a study on the second floor, a green room where flowers and different herbs grew off to the side of the house, and lastly, a large circular balcony on the fourth floor.

But to get to that balcony, they had to get to it through a beautiful room. It was a bedroom, with a four poster bed, with flowing white bedding as though it'd been woven from clouds. A small vanity, a matching dresser- she let her fingers trail along the edge of the vanity as she passed. There were several spare bedrooms in the house, normally full to the brim with trinkets and odds and ends, one of them even turned into a spare workshop. This room was not one of them, but this was not his bedroom. He hadn't let her into his bedroom. It had only made her more curious, of course.

"It's beautiful," she smiled back at him, holding the book he'd let her borrow in both her hands. She hadn't been able to leave the library without one. He'd picked it randomly off of the shelf and stuffed it into her hands before having to drag her away.

"I do like this room myself," he said almost idly, pacing across the room to meet her at the balcony.

"Who is it for?" she asked him.

"Not who, my dear. Wrong question," he told her frankly.

She tilted her head at him, a skeptical look on her face, "Um- why-?"

He cut her off, stepping closer, "Nope – wrong again."

"What is it for?" she tried.

"That's the ticket," he smiled, pointing at her, before gesturing broadly to the room. "It's a place for memories."

"Memories?" she wondered, looking around the room again for clues. She found none.

He nodded, meandering his way towards her. She smiled when she knew he wouldn't say anymore, looking back around to see the town lights like organized fireflies. She leaned against the railing, her hands keeping her up as she peered into the night sky. She was surprised when he stepped up right behind her, his hands next to hers on the railing. She always had loved his hands. She nestled against him, leaning her head back against his shoulder.

"I wish we could see the stars," she told the wind, staring up at the almost blank night sky.

"Your wish is my command," he replied with a flourish towards the night.

Suddenly the lights in the entire town dimmed, flashed out. She blinked, and then saw the night sky. Stars seemingly poured from the heavens, now the only lights in the sky with a quarter moon. She smiled brightly, gasping. He chuckled in her ear, his breathe tickling her. "Thank you," she rubbed her nose against his cheek, inhaling his scent, a wonderful mixture of this world's musk and processed ink and the old smell, not completely hidden even still, fresh straw and her favorite paper smell, like books not touched for ages. And of course, that smell of raw magic.

"It's going to cost you," he whispered.

She kissed his cheek, suddenly feeling tense, and nervous.

"No my dear," he snickered, shaking his head. "No."

She blushed furiously, sliding away from him, infuriated. He'd read her wish again, read it like an open book. Of course it'd only been half a wish, a question really. She stalked out of the room furiously.

"Don't be angry. I can't help it-," he was still laughing. Laughing at her foolishness as he followed her across the room.

"You cheat," she snapped at him, not turning around as she stalked downwards.

He accepted that, pausing mid stride, before following her down the stairs. "I don't know which I prefer more, my dear. Upsetting you or having you startle me."

"You love to upset me," she pointed out mercilessly as they reached the end of the stairs.

"That I do," he said, stepping off afterwards. He caught her, making her stop. "But I'll tell you what I can't stand."

"What?" she demanded, annoyed.

He stared into her eyes, a serious softness there she had rarely seen before, "Having you angry at me."

She sighed, looking away from his explorative gaze, "I'm not angry," she told him honestly, and felt her blush act up again, "I'm just really, very embarrassed."

"I see that," he teased, his hand ghosting across her face.

"You're not helping," she said ruefully, leaning into his touch.

"Here," he said, pressing his hand against her cheek until she looked up at him again.

He kissed her then, pressing his lips softly to hers. She inhaled sharply, closing her eyes and falling into it. His kiss started off softly, but it quickly turned hard, his ferocity from his pawnshop returning as she pulled herself closer to him, the book falling from her grasp. He was pushing her back, pushing her into a wall. Her back banged against it, and she was trying to keep up with his every quickening pace, wanting to keep up. She wished she could keep up, wished she could make him happy. He growled low in his throat, making her spine tingle as she entwined her fingers in his hair. She felt his teeth graze into her lower lip. She cried out-

He broke away, stumbling from her. She gasped for breathe, stepping forward. Had she done something wrong?

He was chuckling darkly, "I think you need to leave."

She'd upset him. She seemed good at that this evening. She straightened up, putting on a brave face, "Before the clock strikes twelve and I turn into a pumpkin?"

He smiled grimly, "Something along those lines."

She nodded, biting her lip, and tasted blood where his teeth had been mere moments ago. She played it off, "Alright."

"However," his voice caught her attention, sounding urgent. She looked up at him, "your payment for seeing the stars is that you must visit me tomorrow."

She hadn't upset him too much, then, "Gladly."

"This time, dearest, no sneaking about," he warned her as he grabbed her coat, "I like to keep an eye on you."

She smiled sarcastically, "I've noticed."

"It bothers you?" he sounded worried as he helped her into her coat.

"No, not at all," she smiled, turning to face him as she fumbled with the buttons, "Just when Doctor Hopper declares me insane again, know that it will be your fault."

"I would tell you to stop talking to me, but that would be rather boring," he told her, buttoning her topmost button for her before she could get to it. She smiled at him, gently touching his cheek before turning to go. "Oh, Belle?" She looked at him, found him holding the book she had borrowed out to her.

She felt guilty for dropping it, but she could tell that was not the only thing that he had called to her for, "Yes?"

He stepped forward, "You do plan on attending that ridiculous ball, don't you?"

She smiled knowingly, "That entirely depends on who is going." She looked at him pointedly as she opened the front door.

"I am, compelled, by her Majesty to be present," he half bowed to her.

"Will we dance then? Will that be the occasion?" she wondered, sudden excitement making her breathy.

He only smiled at her, his eyes entrancing as they danced.

"Well, then, we'll see if I can make it," she made to go, stepping on the porch with a wave, "Goodnight," she smiled as he made to close the door. "Oh Rumpelstiltskin?" she asked, facing him.

He held the door, his eyes expectant. "Yes, my love?" It was something he hadn't meant to say, she could tell at his semi shocked expression, but then realized it was something he meant. He smiled at her understanding as she stepped forward, her own smile bright, her heart soaring at the new nickname.

She kissed him briefly, "I love you, too," she whispered, before turning away, feeling his eyes on her back as she went.

The book, she examined for the first time as she half skipped down the steps, was a collection of works by an author. Jane Austen. She'd heard of her before. She opened the book to the table of contents, picked a story, and began to read as she walked home, smiling all the way.

~: Rumpelstiltskin :~

As he shut the door behind her, his mind was instantly off, following her home, making sure that as she walked with a nose stuck in a book that she was not hurt, not even too chilly. He was especially sure to keep a close eye on her as she walked from his home. He did not need spies getting back to her Majesty about the broken deal.

Rumpelstiltskin hated breaking deals. He hated it. Hated it more than anything else in the world. Now her Majesty could do as she pleased because he'd broken his promise, go back on it with a vengeance. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, went the proverb. That was doubly true for the Queen.

Sighing in frustration, he leaned against the wall where he'd pressed Belle mere moments before. It had been reckless for him to kiss her that way. He couldn't allow himself to get carried away with her. She was intoxicating enough as it was.

And he wanted her wishes to come true. She wanted to be married to him. A ridiculous wish, especially in this world where marriages seldom lasted longer than ten years. But it was her wish. He would grant it when he could. But for now, times were perilous. He would not endanger her, and he would not make her the next town harlot, though Snow White as a harlot was still laudable to him. Belle didn't need to be sneaking to see him at night. He would have to arrange something else.

His mind was scattered. She was good at scrambling his brain with her presence, and if it meant one more moment with her, then he would happily have the consequences. He had sent her away, though, for a different reason than she thought, though that incident had contributed. The Mayor was going to be on the prowl shortly. His first instinct had been to keep her inside, but there was always that chance that Regina would swing by and try to check up on him. He would have to suck in all his magic, keeping his spell casting web buried away within him while she was present. She had felt his magic, he was sure, the moment he'd gotten it back. However, she couldn't pin point it. She couldn't tell if it was the curse spiking out, or him, since the curse had been created with his magic. She had checked on him often since, spontaneously, he let her believe. Because having magic meant they'd broken their contract. It meant that he'd kissed Belle.

He was greedy when it came to Belle, though, he thought. He watched as other men stared at her, was jealous when she went to see Archie in the afternoons, hated as her father began to appreciate her again. They all knew nothing of her worth and yet they got to spend moments with her, precious moments that he could not.

He loved her. He hadn't meant to let it slip. He'd planned on saving it.

Her answering smile had been enough though, the way her eyes had brightened and her face had lit up. It had been perfect despite his poor timing.

What did it matter? He loved her. It was only truth.

He loved her.

Storybrooke's Tale of Beauty and the Beast

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Teddy's Twin

Part 21 of 37

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