Title: A Little Christmas Magic
Disclaimer: Once Upon A Time and its characters belong to ABC, I’m just borrowing them for a bit.
Fandom: Once Upon A Time
Summary: Rumplestiltskin helps Belle primp for Christmas.
Author’s Note: For mydarling-belle as part of the Rumbelle Secret Santa.
Home after what felt like a never-ending day dealing with last-minute shoppers, Rumpelstiltskin climbed the front steps of the pink house he shared with Belle, and when he reached the top an array of savoury aromas met him and his mouth began to water. As he turned the lock and pushed the front door open, he found himself remembering the impromptu, and often disastrous, feasts Belle had prepared during her attempts to learn her way around the Dark Castle’s kitchen.
A Christmas carol from yester-year brought Rumplestiltskin back to the present and he closed the door behind him. He removed and hung his coat on the rack before starting down the hallway. His knee ached dreadfully thanks to the weather and he relied on his cane more than usual as he headed for the living room.
He marvelled at the tinsel and other decorations Belle had decorated the house with; initially he’d planned to do as he always did – go to his cabin and wait Christmas out like he had done every year for the past twenty-eight years. Only, Belle had taken great delight in young Henry’s stories about this world’s Christmases and he hadn’t the heart to say no when she asked if she could decorate the house and host Christmas Eve dinner.
The music grew louder as Rumplestiltskin neared the living room, and he had just about reached the doorway when he heard a surprised cry from Belle, a loud crash – mixed with the sound of broken glass and a few dozen bells clattering on the hardwood floor – and a pained yelp.
He turned into the living room with wide-eyed surprise. Belle, dressed in a long-sleeved maroon sweater, dark slacks and a floral apron, stood to the left of the spot where their once-upright tree had been, a string of gold and red tinsel in her hands, while Sultan – the shaggy-haired cream and white sheepdog they’d recently adopted, struggled to escape the tangle of lights he’d gotten himself into on the other side of the tree. Glass baubles of all different colours were scattered in all directions, some shattered in innumerable pieces, and the once-lively pine tree lay face down on the ground. The gold star that had once adorned the top of the tree was now broken in pieces.
“What happened?” Rumplestiltskin asked, concerned.
Belle’s gaze didn’t falter from Sultan, who had finally escaped and was licking his front right paw over by the open fireplace. “Sultan happened,” she replied.
“Ahh,” he mused. Sultan, the friendliest of all the dogs at the local shelter, had fallen in love with Belle within minutes of meeting her. He was, however, an accident prone dog who tended to give his adoptive mother more cleaning to do than she’d had before his arrival.
A bell chimed from the kitchen, and Belle let out a low, frustrated groan. “I’ll never get this cleaned and the meal finished before our guests arrive.”
Rumplestiltskin stepped around the tree, and with a wave of his hand the tree was standing upright, and the lights, baubles, bells and other decorations were back in their proper places.
“Rumple, no!” Belle exclaimed.
“It’s just a little magic, dear,” he promised, meeting her gaze as he closed the distance between them.
She looked up at him with a soft sigh. “You say that, but all magic comes with a price, remember?”
Rumplestiltskin slipped his arms around Belle, the gap between them becoming nonexistent as he pulled her closer. “I remember. Is there anything else I can help with?”
“Well, you did forget one thing.”
He narrowed his eyes just slightly in playfulness. “And what might that be?”
He stared at Belle, and when she raised her eyebrows at him he turned his head and glanced over his shoulder. Lying on the ground, and still broken in three pieces, was their gold star. “Oh.”
“But no magic this time, Rumple. There’s some glue left from that vase I fixed earlier in the week.” She hesitantly let go of him and took a step back, “It’s in the top drawer of the desk by the window. Would you mind?”
“Not at all, love,” he replied with a warm smile.
“Great, I’ll get this meal sorted then. Baelfire and Wendy will be here soon. And my father.”
Belle left for the kitchen, and Rumplestiltskin suddenly felt torn between elation that Baelfire and his wife were coming to dinner, and regret that he’d suggested Belle invite her father too.
Determined for tonight to be a happy occasion, he decided not to let his distemper for Maurice get the better of him. Not only for Belle’s sake, but his own.
He collected the broken star, crossed over to the desk and sat down to get to work. It would have taken mere seconds to fix the star with only a wave of his hand, but Belle had asked him to refrain from using magic and refrain he would.
When the three pieces of the ornament were back together, having been mended with quick-setting glue, Rumplestiltskin took the star back over to the tree and set it atop it.
“It looks wonderful, thank you, Rumple,” Belle said from the kitchen.
He smiled in return, and then stepped closer to watch Belle as she continued her preparation of the evening’s meal. She moved about the counters, seeming as if she hadn’t spent twenty-eight years locked away in an asylum and had to learn everything about this world in only a short few months.
“Belle,” he began after a moment, and she immediately stopped and glanced up at him.
A warm smile curved her lips. “What is it?”
“I… I have something for you,” he said, and he stepped around the counter and stopped before her.
Intrigued, Belle wiped her hands on her apron. “I thought the tradition was we opened gave each other gifts on Christmas morning?”
Rumplestiltskin nodded, retrieving a small, gold trinket box from the left pocket of his suit jacket. “It is, however I couldn’t wait to give you this, sweetheart,” he said, lifting the trinket box and passing it to her.
“I-I don’t know what to say,” she murmured, taking the box from him.
Hopeful, he whispered, “Open it.”
Her gaze met his for a moment, before falling to the trinket box again. After releasing the latch, she lifted the lid and her breath immediately hitched. Sitting inside was a small pearl drop, attached to a fine gold chain.
“I remember you wore it at the Dark Castle,” Rumplestiltskin said.
“I did,” Belle replied with a tearful nod. “It was the only thing of my mother’s I ever had. But then, Regina took me captive and I… I never thought I’d see it again.” She looked back at him, her eyes having welled with tears. “Thank you,” she cried.
The joy in her eyes told him he was glad he didn’t wait for Christmas morning to give the necklace to her. With a delicate touch, he removed the necklace from the trinket box and motioned for her to turn around. He set the necklace about her neck, and when he’d clasped it closed he lifted her hair so the necklace fell into place.
Turning in his arms, Belle’s hands went to his chest. “How did you get it back, after all this time?”
“Ruby,” he murmured. “She mentioned you’d told her how much you missed it, and so I paid a little visit to our dear friend, Regina. With only a little persuasion, she returned it.”
“Well,” Belle began, pausing to drape her arms around his neck and pull him close. “Thank you again, Rumplestiltskin.”
“You’re quite welcome, my love,” he replied, and he pressed a gentle kiss to her lips. He was about to pull back, knowing that their guests would soon arrive and there was still much that needed doing, but Belle lightly bit his lower lip and drew him into a deeper kiss. He knew the magic he’d used earlier would come with a price, but if this was his price to pay, he was only too happy to pay it.
But then, the doorbell rang and all of a sudden the music that played on the stereo and the barking from Sultan told him the joy at being in the embrace of the woman he loved wasn’t his price to pay after all, it was the cruel and poorly timed interruption from reality instead.
Belle parted from him with a chaste kiss, and she motioned for him to go get the door. He stood there for a moment longer though, watching as she continued the food preparations with a wide smile. She was happy, and, quite strangely, it made him feel more relaxed about the night yet to come.