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The silence woke him.

Funny thing was—it was too loud. It had always been, and he expects, it will forever be.

Too many thoughts, memories and emotions swirl around his mind, sharpening and awakening him in the middle of the night, drenching him in cold sweat and leaving him with a bitter after taste. On bad days he tends to bolt upright as soon as the trails of reality hit. On the mildly-better days his eyes can only fly open, and he freezes on the spot, his breathing too still and his mind too broken to even think to shift in the most minimal move at least once.

This is one of those times. Although, waking up with Belle's heartbeat next to his was definitely a soothing lullaby for his raging conscious.

He breathes in, then out - concentrating on Belle's warm, and the quiet house around him, everything and anything but the past.

From the second floor of his house, on his bedroom, he's able to listen to every small creak, of the frogs croaking outside and the owls lulling eerily away into the inky nights of Storybrooke. The drapes are wide open at his right (Belle's doing), letting the night's sky canvas naked to the mortal eye, and he licks his lips nervously, finally calming down a little.

Despite his hectic day—with shadows of the past bestowing old-known fear on his heart, with the prospect that Cora could have come here, and the miracle that she isn't now. Still, they're questions and concerns that prevail, waiting for him to ask - 'Is she gone for forever or for now?' and they will drive him mad if he doesn't stop, that's why he's here with Belle, both for his reassurance and hers because when she's with her he feels—

He feels anything but worried right now. In this instant, he feels weightless. With Belle breathing in, the object of his love, next to him on bed. Convincing her to stay the night wasn't as difficult as he thought, Belle had, in fact, seemed delighted. And he needed that. To know he was wanted, and being wanted by her, in specific, brighten his days—and, as it appears, his nights.

His breathing is leveling, shifting to a normal beat, until his breath momentarily stops when his Belle's beautiful blue eyes open and they blink sleepily at him. The color -stark contrast with the poor-lit room - startles him every time and any day. Back on the beginning, he wondered what fine jewels he could find that would match the sky-blue...

Rumpelstiltskin once thought her eyes changed to match the sky. It is until now that he realizes that the sky adjusts to match her eyes.

"Hey." Belle's smile is sloppy, with eyes half-closed she leans in and nuzzles his cheek with her petite nose. All the while he happily allows her to get even closer, with their legs in a tangled-twist and his arms surrounding and her own lean arms wrapped around his torso he wonders how can they even try but he decides not to question logic and natural sense (dawns and self-loathing, and unreachable quotas would handle that), for now he simply basks in the feeling of having her safe and taken care of in his arms, of her tentative and innocent touches.

So, satisfied, he smiles in her hair, his nose twitching in recognition with the floral and solely Belle's scent there.

"Hey, you." he murmurs softly, his voice muffled, his lips searching her skin and when he finds it, he kisses her forehead, sighing in bliss. "You should be sleeping."

"So should you." Even with half her mind on task, she counters back cleverly.

He hums, "I'm fine."

"No," he feels her chuckle on his ribs more than he hears her, a pleasant ripple on his skin, like cool water on warm day, it sooths down any remaining tense muscles and knots on his body. Belle, oblivious of her effect on him, continues with what he recognizes as a mélange of amusement, and thin-veiled concern in her voice, with a tad of scold. "You're different here. You don't get to use that argument, you know, not anymore." He rolls his eyes, squeezing her gently, knowing she's quoting the countless times he dismissed her fussing. Belle's voice, either way, drawls wonderfully and, unbeknownst, it relaxes him even further. Finally, her words do filter at the end.

"We're not exactly in the Dark Castle, Rumpel. You do need to rest—"

He snorts. (All its true. But, of course, he won't say it. Not really.)

Belle's answer is to poke him in the ribs, and he puffs and squirms from her wondering fingers. Finally, he ends up on his back, her on top of him, laughing merrily with Belle giggling like mad despite her effort to persist with the strong façade. "So, help me Rumpelstiltskin, be nice." she tells him, lips quirking happily. "I'm serious."

In exchange, he tilts his head and offers her what he supposes is his mock serious expression. "So am I, my dear."

She has the decency of rolling her eyes, then smiling and letting her head fall to his chest with a contented exhale. "This is…"

His lips twitched at the change of subject. A nervous tic. He swallows the rest of his laughter and the milliards of things this is—because being with him could be different shades of grey, blacks and whites, and for all their love adjoined together, this could be wrong and they both know it— and he settles for saying, "…nice?" he finishes for her. Nice is an easy word. It's an interval. Not quite bad. Not quite excellent. Not quite wonderful either.

Belle, as usual, bats away the darkness lurking as easily as one does breathing.

"Perfect. Lovely." Blue meets liquid-brown. The tension and trepidation rolls away. "Simply right." she whispers.

"Yes, yes it is." He whispers back. "I love you."

Belle leans forward. "I love you too."

Tomorrow—tomorrow he'll worry of the heroes and their new moves, of learning and scheming, of getting to his son for once and for all and bring him back home, and for worrying for Belle and struggling to remain focused.

Tomorrow he would do that. Tonight, he's reveling in the peace and the sound of real and true heartbeats. Of love on his heart and soul and a beauty on his arms.

He exhales, and closes his eyes, sleep drawing him into a dreamless paradise.