After Mary Margaret and Emma return from the Enchanted Forest, they find their friends have taken up a strange sort of entertainment every Sunday at noon. :)
It had been only a handful of days since Mary Margaret and Emma had returned from the Enchanted Forest. The two had been mostly holed up in their apartment recovering from the ordeal. Emma, having faced down ogres, a giant, and a pirate in quick succession, was starting to really get an idea as to who she was. And Mary Margaret was getting more used to the idea that she and her daughter were nearly the same age. They stayed up late talking before Mary Margaret retired to bed with David and Emma retired to her bed in the other room. And they slept late, David often getting up hours before the women did.
When they awakened that Sunday morning, an invitation to join them in the park for some “light entertainment” at noon had been left on the table by the cereal, a sure place that Emma would find it. David was rarely so secretive and so the pair left for the park a little before the clock struck noon wondering what on Earth this “light entertainment” could possibly be.
They arrived just a few minutes after noon to find a small group already congregated off to the side. David waved them over and they quickly found themselves in the middle of the small crowd.
“So what is this light entertainment?” Emma, as was so often the case, was the first one to speak up. Her steady gaze quickly scanned the park and saw nothing particularly remarkable. A few people were out for a stroll, some children played off to one side, a woman with her dog jogged by on the nearby trial.
“Ah, here they come,” David said and nodded in the direction of the path on the far side of the park. Emma and Mary Margaret turned as one.
“Is that Rumplestiltskin?” Mary Margaret asked, her eyes squinting into the sun. He was hard to miss, even silhouetted as he was. His slender form, the slight limp, and the cane that accompanied his somewhat uneven steps made it obvious who it was.
Emma stepped slightly forward, away from the group. “With a woman?” She was pulled back quickly into the group.
“Don’t stare,” Red hissed.
“You all are.” Emma’s voice was somewhat accusatory.
“Not obviously so,” Ruby returned with. Emma simply rolled her eyes.
Rumplestiltskin and his companion had moved closer, the sun no longer hiding their faces from the group. The woman accompanying him was beautiful. Small and petite, even in heels she was shorter than the slight man she was accompanying. One arm was linked through his and every once in awhile she glanced up at him and leaned closer as he talked to her.
“Maybe she’s his daughter?” Mary Margaret ventured with. Really, what other explanation could there be? The pair had found their destination and she realized that the young woman was holding a picnic basket. Clutched in the hand not holding his cane, Rumplestiltskin held a blanket. A picnic. The pair was going on a picnic.
“Oh no, definitely not.” David’s voice almost sounded amused.
“How do you know?” Mary Margaret turned to face her husband and was surprised to see his eyes slide away from meeting hers.
“He caught them together.” The amused voice behind her belonged to Ruby. She seemed all too happy to relay that information.
“Wha…” Mary Margaret started with when she was interrupted by David.
“Look, you all know that closed sign is meaningless! Gold’s always lurking about in that pawn shop of his…”
Ruby’s voice was full of laughter when she responded. “This time he was doing a bit more than lurking.”
“Oh God,” Mary Margaret’s voice had risen nearly an octave. “Oh no, you can’t possibly mean…”
“Oh yes he can!” Ruby trilled.
“Ruby.” Archie’s voice admonished her softly and she lapsed into a quiet giggle that she was clearly trying to hide
Emma stepped forward and turned around to face the group standing behind her. Ruby was still giggling. Archie’s face was bright red, as was Astrid’s. Mary Margaret still had her mouth hanging open with her hand covering it, eyebrows up. “So let me get this straight.” She glanced at David. “You caught Gold…and this woman…doing the, um, horizontal mambo…in his pawn shop?”
“It wasn’t horizontal!” Ruby said, just a little bit louder than she probably should have and relapsed back into another peal of laughter.
Emma glanced back at the couple in question, hoping to hell they hadn’t heard a bit of this exchange. She was relieved, and a bit perplexed to realize they weren’t likely to even notice the group watching them. Gold was sitting with his back up against the tree, his bad leg propped up on a small pillow. The woman with him was sitting close and they were leaning into each other. She watched as she brought her fork up to his mouth and as he went to take the food into his mouth, suddenly drew it back and away from him. He gave her what was obviously a mock glare and leaned over to kiss her, his mouth only coming into contact with the young woman’s briefly. While she was otherwise occupied, he managed to grab the fork from her and everyone in the group could hear the woman’s gentle laughter and admonishment. “You are a beast!” The words carried clearly across to the group, though Gold’s quiet response did not.
Emma shuddered. “Really.” She tore her eyes away from the couple and looked back at David. “And this was consensual?”
“Oh God,” Mary Margaret repeated. “He wouldn’t…?”
David turned bright red. “Yes. It was definitely consensual.”
Emma turned to look back at them and had to agree. As odd and somewhat creepy as it was, the woman with him seemed to actually be enjoying his company. And moreover, it was obvious Gold had a serious soft spot for her. He had always looked like a hard man to her, all sharp angles and bared teeth and barely restrained rage. But with this woman he was softened. Even from the distance they were watching them at, she could see that he was all genuine smiles and softly spoken words for the woman he was with.
“Just making sure. I’d happily arrest the bastard if I needed to.” And no one doubted that was anything but true. Emma had arrested him before when he had assaulted Moe French. She would do it again to protect the young woman at his side.
“No need,” David muttered.
“Isn’t she a little young for him? I mean, he’s what? Fifties or so? She has to be at least twenty years younger…”
“You have no idea, Emma,” Mary Margaret muttered.
She turned to look back at her. “What does that mean?”
Ruby giggled and Mary Margaret looked to David to explain this one to their daughter.
“We’re not really sure, but we suspect Rumplestiltskin is somewhere approaching 300 years old…”
“What?...No…That’s creepy.” She looked at Mary Margaret.
“He’s immortal? I guess age doesn’t matter?” Mary Margaret shrugged.
They all turned to look at the couple again when they heard Rumplestiltskin laugh. And it wasn’t his usual laugh, the one that Mary Margaret and David and Ruby were so used to, the high-pitched ridiculous giggle of the Enchanted Forest, but instead a full-throated laugh that said I love this woman and everything she has to say. How odd…
“What are you all staring at?” The group turned almost as one to face the speaker.
“Grumpy!” Astrid shouted, clapping her hands together with glee.
“Hi Nova.” Grumpy looked down at his feet and then raised his eyes to watch the former nun underneath his lashes. It was as flirtatious as the dwarf could get. Everyone knew the gruff man had a soft spot for the fairy.
“We’re keeping an eye on Rumplestiltskin!” Her voice went a little too high-pitched and immediately the group shushed her. “Oops sorry guys.” She leaned closer to Grumpy and spoke in a stage whisper. “We’re watching Rumplestiltskin…and a lady.”
“Really?” Grumpy turned to follow their gaze, his eyes finally falling on the pair they’d all been studying, their humorous bit of entertainment for the past few Sundays.
“Shit!” The word burst out of Grumpy’s mouth. He didn’t mean for it to come out so loud, so forceful nor so unexpectedly.
“What?” Emma asked.
“Hell and damnation,” he cursed again. Astrid made a strange squeaking noise. “Sorry, sister.”
“I’m not a sister anymore,” she said and turned her gaze away from him.
“So Leroy…” Emma said.
“Right…I know her.”
“Gold’s girl? Really?” Emma stepped closer to him.
David also stepped closer to him. “No one here has ever seen her before. She seemed to just sort of pop up out of nowhere a couple weeks after the curse broke.”
Grumpy looked back and forth between the two of them. “Didn’t anyone think to ask Gold?”
“Hmph…” He shook his head at them. Everyone was so afraid of Gold, even when he was powerless. They all acted as if he would eat them alive. Which was rather ironic, really, since standing there in their group was a werewolf who was known to have eaten her own love back home. “Anyway…yeah I know her.”
“Rumple!” They all turned to look at the couple once more at the woman’s squeal. Somehow during the time they looked away, the picnic had apparently been completed and Rumplestiltskin had knocked the woman backward and was leaning over her, a grin plastered all over his face.
“Did she just call him ‘Rumple’?” Ruby asked.
“I think she did,” Archie responded with.
“Wow.” Mary Margaret really couldn’t think of anything better to say to that.
“And she’s still alive,” David said. If it were anyone other than Rumplestiltskin, that would have been pointing out the obvious. But people had been turned into snails for lesser offenses than that.
Emma just shook her head. No doubt this was all endlessly fascinating. Perhaps even more fascinating was that Gold didn’t even seem to notice them all gawking at them. “So, Leroy…Grumpy…whoever you are…who is she?”
“Nova, do you remember when I told you I met someone in that pub who talked to me and convinced me to meet you and see the fireflies?” Nova nodded, reaching out a hand to him. “That’s her. I still remember her telling me how precious love was, how she had lost it and would give anything to have it back, how it was something to enjoy because you didn’t know when you’d lose it.” His voice sounded like it once did, like the one that belonged to the dwarf named Dreamy, not the gruff impatient voice of the one now named Grumpy. But it quickly turned, the sour note returning. “I had no idea that the love she was talking about was Rumplebloodystiltskin.”
“Whoa…what?” Mary Margaret turned to stare at him.
“Her name is Belle. And the love she lost was Rumplestiltskin. Shit.”
“A brief flicker of light in an ocean of darkness,” David murmured.
“Oh no…no… She knew him back home? Before the curse? That’s not possible.” Mary Margaret stared at Grumpy in horror.
“Obviously it is,” Emma countered with, indicating the couple, who were alternately packing up the remains of their picnic lunch and stealing the occasional kiss.
“Oh Emma, you don’t know what he was like back home.”
“Crazy? Manipulative? The most feared being in all the realms? Yeah I figured that one out. I read the book, remember?”
“He was green.”
“Well, grey, really,” David said.
“Grey-green,” Mary Margaret followed up with. David put an arm around her shoulders.
“And sort of goldish. Sparkly,” Ruby said, making an odd hand gesture. Emma gave her a strange look. “He made these weird flamboyant hand gestures. I can’t really do it right. I’m not sure I’d want to try.”
“I’m not sure he ever saw a toothbrush,” David tossed in
“We didn’t have those there. That’s unfair!” Mary Margaret exclaimed. Her attempt at suppressing a giggle was failing miserably.
“There was no excuse for his hair…” Ruby nodded sagely.
“Or those outfits…”
“Or the voice…”
“Or that weird giggle!”
Mary Margaret finally burst out in laughter. “You know, now that I think about it, Mr. Gold may be an improvement over Rumplestiltskin.”
“Is that so, dearie?”
Almost as one the group turned to face the speaker. All giggles stopped. Eyes were wide, faces red. Mary Margaret couldn’t meet his eyes. The woman they all knew as Belle was at his side, arm linked through his, head held high. It was clear she was proud to be on his arm, all their comments be damned.
“Oh God, how much did you hear?” Mary Margaret was the first one to speak up, though she still kept her eyes averted.
Rumplestiltskin smirked and the side of him they were all used to appeared. “Enough.”
He moved forward again, Belle easily falling into step with him. Her bright blue eyes were wide as she faced down everyone.
Rumplestiltskin stopped near David. “Oh and Mr. Nolan. Please do note that the ‘closed’ sign does actually mean closed. I don’t believe Belle and I would like to be disturbed this afternoon.” He turned to look at his companion. “Shall we head to the pawn shop, my dear? I know how fond you are of that little desk in the back.” And he headed off again. Belle followed along with him, glancing back only briefly at the group, a big grin on her bright red face
“Oh God,” Mary Margaret said, just one more time, for good measure.
Back at the pawn shop, Rumplestiltskin pulled Belle into the back room and up tight against him, his lips crashing down on hers as soon as the door was shut.
When they finally came up for air, Belle grinned at him. “You do know they were watching us the whole time, don’t you?”
“Indeed.” The word was said softly as he kissed his way down her neck.
“And they were totally horrified.” She spoke as she used both hands to unknot his tie and discard it.
“They were.” His hands stroked down her back, lightly caressing her.
“And you didn’t mind a bit, did you?”
He stopped in his ministrations and leaned back, meeting her eyes. “Why would I? I have the most intelligent, most beautiful girl in town all to myself. What’s to mind?”
Her lips turned down for just a moment. “They were mocking you.”
“I’m not a pretty man, Belle. It doesn’t bother me in the least.”
“But you are pretty!” She exclaimed, realizing a moment later what she said. “Well, handsome at any rate. I think so at least.” She reached up and undid the first few buttons of his shirt, running her hands inside it over his chest. The gasp he always gave at such contact never ceased to thrill her.
He threaded his hands through her hair as he pulled her lips back to his, deepening the kiss and keeping them quiet for several moments.
“Did you really have to remind the Prince about that little incident a couple weeks ago though?”
He smirked at her and traced his hands up her back under her sweater, deftly reaching up and undoing her bra. Leaning forward he whispered in her ear. “I didn’t want us to be disturbed again, my dear.” And then he lifted her up onto that “little desk,” his smile widening at her gasp.
“You are an evil, evil man.” Her arms clasped him about his neck, pulling him closer to her.
“And don’t you forget it.” This time, thankfully, no one dared set foot in the pawn shop while the sign was turned to closed.