Summary: He needs her forgiveness, but is Belle willing to give it?
Writer’s Note: This idea came from just a random thought about what Belle and Rum’s first conversation would be after the incident at the well. It wasn’t even meant to be a fic, but the thought just kept going in my head so I wrote it down! It’s supposed to be a one-shot, but you never know with my fics. Let’s just call it a one-shot for now.
“How could you?” Her voice strains, fear and anguish coating her throat.
“It is the only way.” He is convinced. Why can’t she just understand?
“Why must you choose power over our love?”
His hands splay over her cheeks bringing her forehead to rest against his. “You must believe me when I say I am not choosing power over your love. Never again, Belle. Please, you must trust me.” Every ounce of his being is in those last five words.
Belle is trembling. He pulls her against him, his hands stroking her hair soothingly. Belle clings to him as if the magic thick in the air will spirit him away at any moment.
“I trust you.” Her reply is barely audible.
Rumpelstiltskin pulls away, his dark eyes boring into hers. “Thank you. I promised to protect you, and I will. Too many years I thought you were gone forever. No matter what, I’m never letting you go again, Belle.”
The magic still crackles in the air, hovering around them. Belle can feel it as if it were clinging to them, desperate to tear them apart. But his words drive deeper in her soul than the betrayal of her beloved’s need for power and she believes every single one.
“You’re in need of a home” Rum says, grasping her hand to his chest.
“I am” she replies, almost shyly. The last place she called home was the place she shared with him.
“Come.” He pulls her along in the direction they came. “Let’s go home.”
Belle listens, as they drive from the woods, as Rum explains how the curse brought them to this other world and how Regina used it to bring revenge on Snow White. Belle knew vaguely who the fair princess was, but had never met her. She knew there had to be more to the curse than just Regina’s part in it, but it was not the time or place to truly seek details.
His house is at the edge of town. They can see people in the distance down the road, either wandering in confusion or congregating with now-remembered family and friends.
“A bit of a change from Dark Castle” Belle comments, eyeing the salmon pink house that seems more for an elderly couple than the man known as the Dark One.
“On the outside” Rum remarks, smirking wickedly.
“You mean there is a dungeon inside” Belle bits back. “I do hope it is not meant to be my room.”
Rum ascends the short staircase, fingering his key ring. “No, dearie. None of that non-sense anymore.”
When Belle sets foot in the foyer, she realizes it resembles Dark Castle in all ways save for spaciousness. The house is littered with numerous amounts of objects from a carrousel horse to old lamps and clocks and things she really hadn’t a clue what was. Some objects she instantly recognized from his old home, but she does not have time to take in much as she follows Rum up the stairs with a promise of a fresh change of clothes.
“I’m sorry I have no clothes suited for you, my dear” he says dolefully, handing her a white undershirt and plaid sleep pants.
“Anything is better than this.” She tugs at the drab gray gown that she has worn for far too many years. She swears she sees a spark of pain and anger in Rum’s eyes as he stares at her attire.
“As soon as things settle, you’re getting a whole closet of clothing. Anything your heart desires.” His hand lingers under her elbow until he pulls away from her, leaving her to change.
Belle attires herself in the clothes she assumes is for bedtime or languishing around the house, though Rumpelstiltskin was never one to languish. The shirt is thin but soft, and the sleep pants comfy, seeming to feel well worn. It occurs to her that these are most likely his sleep wear. A blush creeps all the way to her ears at the assumption, also remembering her silly thoughts back at Dark Caste of how it would feel to dress in his clothing. She nearly did just that one time when she had found a forgotten undergarment of his that she dared to try on but never found the courage to.
Belle finds Rum in the room next to hers, dress coat and shoes removed, cuffs unbuttoned and loose around his wrist as he sits on his bed. She hesitates to enter, but he beckons her inside and pats the spot next to him.
“Much.” Belle smiles and nods.
A beat of silence passes then, “Can you ever forgive me?”
Belle snaps her gaze from her lap to stare at him, bemused. “For what?”
Rum meets her eyes, though she can tell it takes much effort. “Do you want me to list them all?” he replies heavily, but does not give her a chance to answer and avoids her gaze once again. “For yelling at you, shaking you, tossing you to the floor like a dog. For being a coward and sending you away. For believing a lie and never rescuing you from that vengeful witch. I didn’t realize how foolish I had been until I thought you were lost forever.” With a pained laugh, he adds, “And it’s not the first time I’ve made that mistake.”
Belle’s eyes sting with tears as she quickly cups his cheek, turning his face to hers. “I love you, Rumpelstiltskin, and yes, I forgive you.”
Before she can even take another breath, his lips cover hers in a desperate kiss. Belle gasps in his mouth, but quickly recovers and sinks into his hold. His hand is about her neck, caressing the tender skin between her throat and shoulder, pressing his grasp deeper upon her lips. Belle can feel a wall breaking and crashing between them. He needed her forgiveness as a man needs water, and she feels the relief washing over him through their embrace.
Rum pulls away, reluctantly, his eyes wide and amazed by the sight of her as Belle’s smile lights the room. “Belle” is all he can muster as he takes a ragged breath.
Belle lightly fingers his hair away from his face. “I don’t wish to be alone tonight. I’ve been alone for far too long.”
Rum gathers her against him, pressing a lengthy kiss to her forehead. “Never again, love. Never again.”