In the Land of Love and Gold

Time Heals

The morning seemed ironically bright to Belle's mood. She was antsy to get home and she wanted to leave as soon as possible. She woke up and looked down at the foot of her bed as she felt a weight there. It was a dress. Belle got out of bed and soon three maids entered to help her with her dress. They helped her out of her pajamas and settled her into her dress. They seemed rather chipper and Belle couldn't help, but give a half smile. Even though she didn't feel happy, she knew she was doing well to this kingdom. The dress was tight, but she could manage until she reached home. The maids finished and scurried out with a chorus of thank you's and smiles. She took deep breaths and gathered up her stuff to go. Her guards were standing at her door and she thanked both Benjy and Frankie. The eased up and complimented Belle on her dress. She smiled and they followed her out into the great hall.

The king game after her, "Belle can't I interest you in breakfast?" He seemed eager and his eyes shined for the first time since she had arrived. She couldn't say no when he looked this happy.

"How could I ever say no to an offer like that?" He laughed and she gave a weak laugh hoping it didn't sound as bad as it did to her own ears. She was led down to the dining hall and she put on a brave face for the king. She nodded at times when she needed to and she gave simple responses for the times that she couldn't nod or shake her head. Finally it was time for her to leave and she thanked the king for food and the place to stay. He gave her a hug and she reciprocated. She got in her carriage and as soon as she was out of sight of the castle she put her head in her hands. She wanted to get back home as fast as she could, but as she peeked through her fingers at the storm clouds on the horizon struck her ideas of being home early down.


Rumpelstiltskin groaned as he took a deep breath. His chest hurt and the pounding in his head kept him from moving too much. He slowly opened his eyes to the doctor leaning over him with a mask on his face. Rumple would have been frightened had the pain not been as abrasive. His arm was numb and he managed to move his eyes enough to see Mabel scrunched up at his side. She had her small hands gripping his arm and her teeny nails were digging into the flesh of his arm. Her eyes were glued to some far off area, his head hurt too much to move and locate exactly where it was she was looking. He took a slow breath and the pain wasn't as bad this time. It was still enough to make him groan.

Whale moved around him and carefully checked his injuries. He was momentarily left wondering what had happened, but as Whale poked at his ribs he remember the giant fist connecting with his face. He closed his eyes and he could almost hear Belle's screams of terror. Terror for him, that he wouldn't be okay? Not many people had been scared for him. There were only a handful of times when someone had screamed at him for the sake of his safety. Once, when Mabel was just a babe, he had stumbled over a small stone that had gotten kicked in from the wind and he had fallen badly. His already injured leg screamed in pain and he thought he passed out from pain. When he came to, Mabel was standing in her crib, crying for him. She held onto the weak wood that made up the crib and fat tears streamed down her face.

That was the only time Rumple could remember in vivid detail. A door somewhere and Mabel made a cheerful noise. Rumple moved his hand and brushed his fingers on his daughter's back. She turned and smiled at him with a dazzling grin. She kissed his cheek and smiled at him. "Papa!" She was careful to walk around him. There was amiable chat going on at the foot of his bed. Rumple wrapped his arms around Mabel and she hugged him back. As he took calming breaths the pain in his head dulled and he moved, so he was propped against the wall. Mabel looked back at Jefferson and Whale who were talking quietly now.

"Hatter!" She walked over to him and put her hands on her hips. Jefferson squatted down to her height while Whale came over and asked Rumple a few questions. "Where is Belle?" Mabel scowled at the employee.

"She won't be back until late today." Mabel grunted and walked back over to her papa. Whale went to his work bench and grabbed Rumple some medicine for pain. Mabel sat down facing her papa. She played with the linens and stared down at the bed. Whale made Rumple drink the foul smelling liquid. Rumple shook his head to rid his tongue of the taste. After a few minutes the pain in his body had dulled to be manageable. Jefferson walked over with his usual snarky smile, but his eyes were red rimmed and he had dark circles under his eyes. He looked weary and tired. Like he had been up all night. He pulled up a chair and sat next to his friend. Rumple tilted his head, so he could focus on Jefferson, but keep an eye on Mabel who was currently following around the good doctor as he stocked his shelves. He seemed to be talking to her, but he wasn't sure given he could only hear Mabel's side of the conversation.

"Hey, Spinner." Rumple nodded slowly. Jefferson looked up and down the older man's body, his eyes lingering on the areas that were bandaged. "How are ya doing?" Rumple shrugged carefully not to disturb his injuries.

"Thank you." His voice sounded froggy. He croaked out the words and swallowed down the feeling of vomiting. He closed his eyes and clenched his teeth. That didn't do anything for his headache. He stopped clench his teeth and went instead for gripping the bed sheets. The flimsy clothe filled his hands and took his mind off the pain. He ran a nail across the stitching and counted the zig-zags in the fabric. Jefferson looked at him curiously.

"Why?" Mabel laughed and they both looked over to see Doctor Whale holding a small hammer of sorts and was gently hitting it on Mabel's knee. Each time he hit her knee her leg would shoot up and she would laugh. She held out her hands and made 'gimmie' motions. The doctor gave her the device and she hit him carefully and he would shoot his arm out where she hit him. She laughed and Jefferson went back to talking to Rumple. Rumple smiled then continued to converse with the hatter.

"For defending me." He remembered just before he passed out, Jefferson tackling Gaston to the ground and they fought a little while before Jefferson stood up and they continued to spar. Rumple could still hear Belle's screams, he felt useless at not being able to calm her worries. He looked around just in case his imagination could bring her to him. He was disappointed with himself for thinking such frivolous thoughts. Jefferson tried to brush it off as nothing, but Rumple gave him a stern glance and explained how no one had stood up for him. Being the coward of his village he was shunned and mocked. The people in his village were cruel and cast him out. He only stayed because Mabel would be taken care of by the town's people. She would be wed off and have a better life than he could ever offer her. Jefferson watched with a blank expression, Rumple couldn't read anything from his stoic gaze. When he finished his story there was silence.

Whale had taken Mabel and they were off doing god knows what. Mabel always had a way of wrapping men around her little finger. He knew it must have come from her mother. Jefferson broke his gaze and looked at the floor. Rumple realized there were tears in his eyes. One dropped on the ground and he looked up again. "Do you remember," He paused to take a deep breath of air. "Belle saying I had a daughter."Rumple nodded solemnly. He knew he was great with children, but he figured that was just the hatter's personality. "Her name was – is Grace." Rumple didn't let the stumble go unnoticed, but he didn't say anything. He knew it was probably a sore subject for the charismatic hatter. "She was taken from me. I have been looking for her ever since." He looked away towards the window where mid morning sun streaked the dusty floor. Particles of sun and dust rose to the light and danced in the rays. Wind whistled around the castle causing the two men to shiver at the assault of cold air. Rumple reached out a put a hand on his friend's shoulder. "Belle has been with me from the beginning. I couldn't ask for a better friend." Rumple squeezed Jefferson's shoulder. Jefferson took a deep breath and wiped at his face. He smiled and he looked mostly normal again. Rumple took his hand back.

"So," Rumple attempted to get out of bed. Jefferson reached out and kept Rumple in place. He made a tsking noise.

"Doctor's orders. You have to stay in bed for a few days before you get back to work, then only work at a minimum." Rumple's heart fell to the floor. He would be bed ridden for a few days with nothing to do and minimal work. He sucked in a breath and calmed down. It was only a few days. Mabel was in good hands. What with Belle and Jefferson watching out for her. He moved back on the bed and Jefferson removed his hands.

"Could you bring me some books then?" Jefferson laughed and stood up. He got to the door and a blur of happy squeals bounded down the hall. Jefferson called after her and Mabel ran back. Jefferson held his hat and bolted down the hall with Mabel chasing after him. Rumple sighed deeply and got comfortable in the bed. It wasn't like his own, but it would do. He closed his eyes and soon he was asleep.


Belle stepped out of the carriage and sighed in relief. She hated going away on long trips. She was greeted by an entourage of people. Since her father had gotten ill Belle had taken over a lot of the duties of the castle. Belle silenced the people around her who had tried to speak at once. They all quieted down and she began to deal with them one at a time. Mrs. Potts was first up because she was the bravest to speak to the princess.

"The fall festival is coming up and we are short staffed." The stewardess stated. She kept pace with Belle as they walked through the castle's main doors. "We need at least four more in-between maids." Belle nodded. She was always excited around the fall festival. It was her favorite out of the four festivals. It was the only time she could enjoy Granny's famous squash.

"Alright, send a page to announce that we are looking for the positions to be filled. Tell them to look for more footmen. After Chip was advanced to second footman we are short." Mrs. Potts nodded and departed from the group. Next was Lumiere. He held out some papers with drawings on them. They were the seating arrangements for all of the royals that were to arrive for the festival. Belle gave it a look over and moved a few people around before she handed it back to Lumiere.

"Ah, yes very good, princess." He bowed and walked off. Cogsworth cleared his throat and Belle handed him the letter from the King of Kelsis. He bowed and hurried to get the letter to her father. Belle sighed and another voice piped up.

"I just wanted to say 'hi'." Belle laughed and stopped to hug Jefferson. He picked her up and swung her around. She laughed and smacked his chest playfully. She slid out of his embrace until they were holding hands.

"Hello Jefferson." She smiled and took a deep breath. "How's Rumple?" She lowered her voice. Belle felt her throat close up just at the thought of what happened to him. She also felt her blood boil and she wanted to yell and scream, but she kept her anger contained.

"He's fine. Well not fine, but he'll make it. He's in the infirmary and will be for a couple days." Belle let out the breath she had been holding and squeezed Jefferson's hands. He squeezed back and let go of her hands. He tipped his hat and walked off to work. Belle calmed herself before walking to the infirmary. She opened the door quietly, in case he was asleep. When she looked in she saw he was reading. He had a pile of books on one book stand and another pile on the other. He licked his finger and turned the page. When Belle closed the door he looked over. His eyes lit up and he had a smile on his face. He put the book down as Belle began to walk towards him.

"Belle." Belle's heart leapt in her chest and finalized her next course of action. He had fresh bandages on his chest and covered the bruise she knew was there. She slid onto the side of the bed and before he could speak – or her bravery faltered – she gently – cautious of his wounds – grabbed his face and brought her lips crashing down on his. After the initial shock, he reciprocated and brought his arms up to hold her close without hurting himself more. Belle felt his hands trail up and down her back. She wished she could feel his hands trail on her bare flesh, but this was not the time or the place. His tongue darted out and traced the seam of her closed lips. She slowly obliged and tentatively their tongues met. Her body felt hyperaware of everything. The way his fingers pressed harder into her skin when she hit certain spots with her tongue. The way he winced slightly when she moved her hand over one of his injuries. The way her body felt almost on fire where ever his hands roamed. When her lungs burned from lack of oxygen she leaned back and looked into his eyes. They were closed and his mouth was still slightly agape, taking timed breaths. He stayed like this until his breath became even and Belle's heart calmed down. Belle let her hands drift down his neck, over his shoulders, and into his hands where she squeezed them to comfort him.

"Belle." His voice was a strained whisper. When he opened his eyes the warm brown eyes that met hers were slivers compared to his dilated pupils. She felt a shiver run down her spine and she hoped he didn't see or feel it. She didn't want him to think it was out of fear or regret. His eyes took on an inhuman quality as they scanned her face for emotion. Once he did a thorough check his eyes turned back to the welcoming brown that she had become accustomed to. Belle leaned in to give him one more kiss, but the door burst open and she jumped back. She took her hands from his grip and Rumple put one hand under the sheets. Mabel came running in screaming Belle's name. Belle crouched down and grabbed the bounding two-year old. She swung her around, much like Jefferson did when he greeted Belle. Mabel squealed in delight and laughed.

"Belle! You're back!" Mabel hugged Belle and Belle put her down on the ground. Belle sat down in the chair by the spinner's bed side. Mabel crawled up on Belle's lap. "Why were you gone so long?" Belle held onto Mabel, so she wouldn't fall.

"I had to fight a dragon." Mabel covered her mouth and looked at her father. Her father nodded and Mabel had tears in her eyes. "I had to defeat him for your papa. A dragon is what did that to him." Mabel gasped and crawled off Belle's lap. She was careful as she got on the bed and hugged her father. He hugged her back with minimal wincing.

"Did you beat the dragon?" Mabel sat next to her papa, who had one arm wrapped around her in case she fell off the bed. Belle nodded and Mabel smiled. "You hear that papa, no more mean dragon." She mimed fangs with her fingers and roared. She stopped suddenly and gasped. "I need tell Hatter. His daughter fought dragons." Mabel scrambled off the bed and after hugging Belle, she ran out the door. There were a few beats of silence before both of them opened their mouths to speak. They both stopped and Rumple indicated for her to go first.

Belle took a deep breath and exhaled. "When is Mabel's birthday?"

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