Rumpelstiltskin was late...very late...
After a long, tiring day of chores, a few months after his brave release of Robin Hood, and about two weeks after he saved her life, Belle sat up reading the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
The book was about a woman who gets pregnant by another man though her husband has returned, demanding to know the identity of the child’s father.
As punishment, instead of hanging, Hester Prynne was forced to wear a scarlet letter A on her bosom for all to see...
Belle’s mind wandered to her master and pondered that he, like Hester was forced into isolation, feared, mistrusted, and unlike Hester, he was poorly misjudged.
The girl turned as the castle doors swung open, flurries of snow following him as he “shut” the door.
Belle rushed to him, arms outstretched to take his cloak, when he shook his head vehemently.
“No” he barked, bringing forth his arms to her view.
In Rumpelstiltskin’s arms lay a small bundle with a tiny pink face and a tuft of dark brown, almost black hair. Belle squeaked.
“Ooooh! What an absolute darling you are! Hello…!”
She gently took the baby in her arms being careful to support...
Belle turned to Rumpelstiltskin “Is it a boy, or a girl?”
Rumple, shaking himself from Dreamland and from dreams involving Belle for little ones, alerted himself to her question.
“Mm? ah a girl... I-I found her, in the snow...” the imp clenched his fists and jaw in anger.
Belle noticed his normally amber brown eyes were turning a dark brown... he was furious.
Nervously shielding the baby to her chest, Belle looked at Rumple concerned.
“Rumpelstiltskin, are you alright?”
Shaking off his thoughts, the imp shook his hand on his way to his work room.
“It doesn’t do to fret, dearie... especially about me...” he let out a good natured, yet nervous giggle.
Trying to catch his attention before he disappeared entirely, Belle opened her mouth to say something...but Rumpelstiltskin was already gone...
She turned to the child, whose eyes were starting to open.
They weren’t amber, but a light spring green. Belle chuckled as the baby cooed up at her.
“Well hello, there... I’m Belle... and I think you and I are going to be great friends...”
As Belle cared for the infant downstairs, Rumpelstiltskin paced in his workroom.
How dare that monster leave her infant daughter all alone in the cold!
What was worse, he realized, was that he had sensed magic within the child...
A simple plasma match...
He shuddered an hour later.
The infant Belle was caring for downstairs, was Rumpelstiltskin’s daughter...
He blanched as he remembered that night...
He had been drunk and mourning terribly the loss of his wife, Milah, when a tall dark woman approached him.
She’d offered to take his pain away for one night of pleasure...
He shuddered now, goose flesh appearing under his scales.
That night was one both sides of him chose to forget...
Too bad he didn’t have his spinning wheel up here.
Until he remembered.
His predator had been the she-wolf from long ago...
Why… how…Gaaaaaaaaaah! Thinking like the spinner he had been, the imp was starting to panic….
He had made a child…. With a werewolf?!
This can’t be happening! He thought, frustrated, yet still in a sensible mind not to destroy his workroom.
Belle had enough to worry about now, with a young infant… her workload had just doubled, thanks to him.
Wiping his hands over his face, Rumple wasn’t sure what to do. Then realized he couldn’t hide from his daughter forever… it was time.
Five minutes passed and he didn’t move.
He’d planned to get some work done, with the exception that his stomach was grumbling...ah well, best see that his maid and the wee one weren’t getting into any trouble...
As the imp made his way downstairs, meat and potato stew were already hot on the table.
He took a taste...and beamed inwardly. He was glad he’d left notes for the spinsters’ spices within easy reach... it tasted just like home...
The dark part of him growled: get on with it and be off with the girl before she causes any real trouble!
Belle entered the room looking frazzled, the youngling wailing her head off.
“Shhhh…It’s alright, darling… shhh” Belle tried coddling the child but that didn’t work.
Rumple, feeling guilty and sympathetic, if only for a moment, reached out his arms for the baby girl.
Smiling gratefully, Belle handed the girl to him.
Instantly the child ceased crying.
Belle looked at the imp in shock.
“How did you do that?” she asked
“Magic touch I guess...” he quipped, though part of him truly meant it...
“The only way I know crying children cease is to be held by their parents...” Belle eyed him curiously.
Feeling his face heat, and wanting to deny the truth for a bit longer, he turned the tables on his maid.
“Ahhh... is that why it took you so long to cease your histrionics in the dungeon, dearie? I never guessed my maid was a daddy’s girl” he teased.
Belle squinted at him. “Humph!” she smirked. Rumple stared down at the baby.
“I guess that makes two of us” she said, motioning to the sleeping baby, now nestled in the crook of Rumple’s arm.
Just a wee simple misunderstanding… he pleaded. But knew, this child was his. The blood strands proved it.
“I think she likes you” Belle said suddenly.
Rumple turned to Belle, wishing she were anywhere but there at the moment.
“Does she now? I never would have guessed!” deadpanned the imp.
Squinting again, Belle turned toward the kitchen, leaving Rumple alone with the little one.
He’d wanted to plead with her not to leave, but she returned shortly...with a glass nursing bottle it seemed.
“What is that for?” Rumple asked curiously, raising an eyebrow.
Belle gaped then blushed. “I-i have nothing to give...”
Rumple eyed the interesting shade of red coloring Belle’s face...she looked as red as a ruby, yet as graceful and dignified as a queen.
Silence! he heard the inner voice, but chose to ignore it...
“...I must feed her artificially.” Belle continued as she poured some warm goats milk in the bottle, screwing on the rubber nibble.
Rumple cocked his head at this notion. when he had been a spinner, and Bae was still a babe, Milah had fed him until he was old enough to eat on his own.
As things stood now, he’d never expected certain changes, and the necessary accommodations, but willingly conceded.
When Belle was settled on the chair opposite his at the dining room table, Rumple wondered if it were a bit uncomfortable for her.
A spark neared her leg, and Belle marveled as the chair raised and tilted as she rocked.
“Belle, are you hungry?” Rumpelstiltskin asked, surprised as she to have asked the question.
She shook her head, smiling.
“No, Master... I already ate.”
Rumpelstiltskin disapproved of the title. His dark side had set that rule when she came to the Dark Castle.
He clicked his tongue at her.
“No need for formalities, my dear... from here forth you shall call me by my given name.” he smiled slightly, embarrassed.
“And what is that, may I ask? Belle grinned “…your eminence?”
Rumple frowned, shaking his head; Belle giggled.
“Very well...as you wish, Rumpelstiltskin. By the way...what shall we call her?”
Belle motioned to the baby.
Suddenly a memory flitted across the imp’s mind.
“What is your name, dearie?” the imp grinned lazily and kissed his amour.
She scowled in disgust.
“And why would you want to know that?”
He shrugged, wishing he had his tankard of ale still. They weren’t allowed to bring ale to bed. Pity.
“Well, if you wanted to call upon me for a deal again...” he smirked and winked.
The woman rolled her eyes and scowled again. This was not what she had expected…
“Anita” she growled.
“Aaah...Anita what? surely a siren must have a surname.” The imp giggled, his nails getting tangled in her hair.
Anita’s eyes flashed gold a moment in anger and contemplated smacking him...
No. she was here to enjoy herself...
“Lucas...my name is Anita Lucas" she hissed before she pounced...
“Lucas...” Rumple murmured, feeling ill all over again...
He was thinking now, jumbling thoughts, ideas, a name fit for a queen, much less an imp’s daughter...
It had to be perfect, since neither of her parents were…
Pure, beautiful, with eyes that could break a man’s heart… the beautiful green jewels that were just beginning to awaken…
Her mouth turned into an O as she cooed up at him.
Rumple smiled as he stroked her cheek with his right finger.
Belle's face turning red...she was becoming more and more priceless to him...a treasure...
If only his previous thoughts weren’t so out of reach...
In his mind, they could marry... Belle would be queen... well, sort of...
Rumpelstiltskin looked at his daughter again.
Both of her birthrights were stirring in her blood... he could train her in one... train her for good, as he himself had hoped to do for Bae, her older brother...
He could do nothing about the other, but perhaps with enough thread, a little magic, and all of his protection...and... love, for he couldn’t deny he loved the tiny little girl, with the face of an angel, and eyes shone green...
Someday, she would find her True Love... but until then, and even after, the imp would always be there to guard her and protect her as much as he could.
“Ruby” he whispered hoarsely. Belle realized without him saying it. This was his daughter.
She didn’t want to know how, or why… they would move on into the future, together.
“Her name is Ruby Elizabeth Lucas” Belle put a hand to her cheek. “Ruby is a beautiful name” she murmured, nodding.
Belle’s eyes misted as her master Rumpelstiltskin, Dark One of all the land, kissed the cheek of his infant daughter.
Ruby Elizabeth Lucas...
Perhaps he wasn’t such a beast after all...