Good Morning, Miss Australia
Chapter 12: Epilogue
Dream-like specks of dust languidly flowed in the sunlight streaming through the window of the untidy workshop and around the man sitting at the workbench in a three-piece, lending an ethereal quality to him as he was repairing a chipped cup. His slender hands worked unhurriedly, his slight eyebrows somewhat furrowed in concentration, as he made use of the last natural light of the day, the light casting a warm glow on his roguish, half-long hair. In about ten minutes the sun would disappear, and it would be time to pick up his son from football training.
A content smile softened his sharp features as he picked up the porcelain piece and turned the cup. Carefully he moved to bring the chipped piece to the cup's edge and –
"Good morning, sleepy head."
A tender voice tinged with tones of playfulness ripped through his resolve. Although the sound was barely more than a whisper his heart leapt, the clear Australian tones ringing through forcing precision to flee from his hands as a wonderful, ridiculous feeling of longing coursed through him.
His gaze trailed to the window, before he took a deep breath and fixed his brown eyes on his work. Hoping that the glue covering the rigid edges didn't dry up too much, he bowed over his workbench and again lifted the shard of porcelain.
"Still having difficulty waking up, Mr. Scotsman?"
The words made his surrounding shatter around him. His eyes flew open and gulping in air, he noticed that the sunlight hitting his eyes was in fact the morning sun peeking through the curtains of his bedroom.
"Dreaming about taking inventory again?"
He turned his head and now his heart threatened to burst from his chest when he saw the lovely face of Belle, framed by masses of unruly curls smiling down on him. She was propped up on one side and used her free hand to tuck a stray strand of hair behind his ear. His features softened.
"Good Morning, Miss Australia," he whispered, his voice still hoarse from sleep. Like every morning since she'd moved in with him and Bae, he was overwhelmed by the realisation that she was actually here with him, waking up next to him. Gone was the tinny quality of her voice over the phone and the frustrating distance between them. Instead, he drowned in her brilliant blue eyes looking down on him with such love that he could barely believe it and he lifted his hand – this time not to mend a chipped cup but to pull her in.
"If you must know," he purred softly. "I was trying to repair that chipped cup from the French tea set."
"Oh, you mustn't do that," Belle sighed, her blue eyes fixed on his lips and it sent a tingling sensation through his stomach. "I love that it's chipped. I think it's charming."
Amused, he lifted an eyebrow. "Did you read that in one of those antiques and collectibles magazines you have at the library?"
"Perhaps," she whispered. "Or maybe I just like it because a certain Scotsman dropped it on the floor the first time he served me tea."
He snorted but refrained from commenting. Instead, he folded his hands behind her head and Belle smiled as she leaned in.
Just before his lips were about to touch hers, he paused and asked in a low voice, "How does Mrs. Scotsman sound to you?"
It was something he'd wanted to ask her for a while now, but had been breaking his head about the right way to go about it. But this beautiful morning erased all fuzz from his brain and before he knew it the words spilled from his mouth, naturally and without prior preparation.
Her smile broadened and she rested her forehead against his. "I think it has a nice ring to it, Mr. Scotsman."
"Then let's make it so," he whispered, closing his eyes as she leaned in and he kissed her in the most tender of caresses, reveling in the feeling of her mouth moving over his in response. He parted his lips against hers and his heartbeat picked up pace when she welcomed him, her curls falling in a curtain around them, smelling faintly of flowers.
Gold propped himself up, guided Belle down into the cushions and shivered when her small hands slid beneath his pyjama top, pulling him flush against her body. A small groan escaped him. Leaning down to capture Belle's lips for another searing kiss, he felt utterly grateful that she was here in his arms. She made him the luckiest man on earth when he'd never expected to find happiness of the kind again.
Waking up on a Saturday morning had never been better.
Belle's lips curled in a happy smile when she nestled in Gold's arms. She couldn't imagine a better way to spend her Saturday mornings than being held by him.
A few months ago, she'd moved to Storybrooke, as the new town librarian… and girlfriend of Mr. Gold. After some trepidation the village had welcomed her with open arms and offered help with renovating the dilapidated library. Leroy especially, introduced to her as the town miser, had taken a liking to the petite but firm new librarian, and had been of great help. He'd drummed up six of his co-workers and together they had repaired the flooring and sagging bookcases inside the library while the construction workers renovated the outside of the building. Decayed wood was replaced, new glass was placed in the windows and the building was painted in fresh colors. Everyone had worked tirelessly to restore the library to its former glory.
A generous donation from a Storybrooke resident who wished to remain anonymous, but who Belle knew was actually Gold, enabled them to do repairs on the clock tower too. A small crowd had gathered when the mechanism was reactivated. The old lady from the tearoom had been in tears when the bell chimed for the first time in decades.
Belle had been working day and night to renew the dated inventory, subscribe to newspapers and magazines and create a cozy children's corner in the bay window looking out over Gold's pawnshop. She had containers with climbing roses placed against the slender pillars of the lean-to. In time they would cover the entire archway with brilliant red roses.
Four months later she was finally done, and today was the grand reopening of the Storybrooke public library. All of Storybrooke was invited. Mrs. Nolan had taught her class a song to sing and Regina Mills, the frigid mayor of this charming coastal town, had reluctantly agreed to open the library, after Gold had suggested he might run for mayor if she refused.
"We have to get up," Gold whispered between kisses. "You can't be too late to your own party and disaster might befall us if there's no time left to feed Bae his precious pancakes."
Since Belle had moved in her breakfast pancakes had quickly become a weekend favourite for the teenager.
Belle rolled her eyes and gave Gold one last, tauntingly slow kiss before watching in silent contentment as he got out of bed effortlessly and crossed the room with firm, energetic steps and without the use of his cane. The Portland doctors had done their job well. Gold's anklebone had healed wonderfully and the cane had found a place in his dimly lit shop.
"Come on, sweetheart," his Scottish burr pulled her from her thoughts. "I know you'll probably want nothing more than to look at me all day, but we have to make haste."
With an amused smile he took the light blue lace dress and dark blue jacket from the hanger, lovingly handing the garments to Belle. She smiled, knowing that he would make sure to match his outfit with hers.
This wonderful man, who'd so readily opened up to her the first time they spoke on the phone, had given her a library, a new family and a warm new home. He'd given her the love of her life. Now that they'd found each other, she couldn't imagine life without him any more, nor did she want to. And now they were going to get married – and Miss Australia would become Mrs. Scotsman, with a distinctly Australian accent.
Gold discreetly cleared his throat without looking up from his wardrobe and Belle's smile turned into an amused grin. She stole another kiss and dashed into the small, adjoining bathroom.
An hour later their family of three spilled into Gold's car.
"Bae, don't forget your seatbelt," Belle said.
"I won't," the teenager promised from the back seat and then added, "Mum."
Belle's lips curled up in a silent smile, and Gold's fingers brushed hers when he put the gear into Drive.
During the two weeks Gold had been held at the local hospital for observation, Belle had naturally taken up the care for the teenager. He was a bit shy at first, but this was quickly remedied during a game of FIFA on his PlayStation. She'd made sure he got to school and football practice on time, introduced him to her mother's miraculously delicious pancakes and gave him space to process all that had happened.
"The boy is unbelievably resilient," Dr. Hopper had told her after a session to help Bae process the trauma inflicted on him by Gaston, "and if I may say so, very fond of you. I don't want to pry in your personal situation with Mr. Gold, but if you should decide to stay with him, Baelfire might soon come to see you as his mother."
"What did Dr. Hopper say to you?" Bae informed when they'd gone back home.
Belle had paused for a moment to gather the right words and, taking a turn, said, "He felt like you might accept me as your mother in time."
"Oh." Bae had fallen silent until the car pulled up at the driveway. "Belle?"
"Yes, Bae?" She'd turned in her seat.
"Do you mind – if I came to see you as…my mother, a little bit sooner than 'in time'?"
The boy had turned completely red but he'd bravely held her gaze. How else could she have responded than with a big, grateful smile?
It was Bae who eventually persuaded her father to say goodbye to Portland and follow his daughter to Storybrooke. She'd taken him to Portland to meet her father and the boy's charms quickly won him over. A few weeks later, Storybrooke had gained a flower booth and the town community – which now included her best friend Ariel – couldn't be happier with their new resident. Her father would attend the festive reopening of the library too and had provided the flower arrangements for the occasion.
Belle took a peek at Gold's sharp profile; his serious expression as he watched the road, the elegant fingers resting on the red leather steering wheel and his half-long hair gently swaying in the fresh air streaming in from the slightly opened car window. With a smile she returned her gaze to the quaint little village of Storybrooke unhurriedly passing by. This was her home, he was her home, and she'd never felt so happy.
The grand reopening of the public library was accompanied by a hustle and bustle Mr. Gold could easily be without, but with Belle standing next to him nothing could touch him – not the cautiousness of the towns people around him and not Mayor Mills' cold smile when she greeted them. He knew the woman envied Belle's radiant appearance but Belle was also one of those few people the mayor somehow wasn't able to touch. So he allowed himself an indulgent smile as his small family went to stand next to Mrs. Nolan and the mayor for the opening ceremony.
Among the crowd were Belle's father, glowing with pride, and Belle's friend Ariel with her husband Eric. The Grimsbies would become parents in less than four weeks and the redhead was sitting on a folding chair for the occasion. Gold had a soft spot for the plucky archivist, knowing that she was the one who had encouraged Belle to try and meet people, not knowing that this would lead Belle to follow her best friend to the seaside town of Storybrooke. She gave Belle a wink and a thumbs-up and Gold made sure to squeeze Belle's hand before she stepped forward. The crowd fell silent.
"Once upon a time, there was a small seaside town called Storybrooke. It was a wonderful village, nestled between the sea and woodlands as far as the eye could reach, but despite their name, they hadn't had a public library to call their own for years."
The crowd smiled and listened.
"This didn't sit well with the mayor of the town. She asked the council to provide funding, hired a new librarian," her shy smile was simply too adorable, "and now, almost a year later, we're here for the grand reopening of our wonderful library. I would like to thank our mayor for contributing to such a vital part of the community and I hope every person in Storybrooke will soon be able to call the library home."
The crowd applauded and Regina Mills stiffly acknowledged the undeserved praise as she stepped forward to accept the pair of scissors Belle presented her with. But even she smiled when the ribbon fell away under her precise cut and Mrs. Nolan's kindergarten choir – among whom a proud little Emma – began to sing.
The library was open.
Two months later a small crowd assembled by the wishing well in the middle of the woods, the chosen wedding location of Mr. Gold and Belle French. Beside the minister, only Belle's father, Baelfire, the Nolans and Eric and Ariel Grimsby were present. Gold and Baelfire wore matching suits with fresh bellflowers in their lapels, provided by Belle's father Maurice. The teenager looked smart and handsome in his very first suit, bought for the occasion at his father's regular clothing store in Portland – and somewhat earlier than his prom. Ariel served as matron of honor and Belle had kept her promise – her best friend was wearing a short, turquoise mermaid dress to her wedding, which made the fiery redhead look just like her Disney Princess namesake.
Only the birds broke the silence when Maurice French and Belle slowly walked down the aisle of soft, woodland underground, headed by little Emma – looking like a cute little cygnet in her white dress and angora cardigan – who wielded a basket of bellflower petals, enthusiastically throwing them on Belle and Maurice's path. The bride was a vision in her short white dress, paired with an elegant white coat and a white cloche, which had belonged to her mother. Her signature high heels, in white, and a pair of white tights completed the lovely picture that was wholly Belle.
Baelfire, standing next to his father, saw how the man's face lit up at seeing her coming down the aisle and his heart warmed at the thought that, although things had gone differently than he'd intended, he'd helped his father find his happiness.
"She's pretty," Emma said next to him and Baelfire smiled as he turned his head to look down on the little girl who had firmly grabbed his hand. The teenager shrugged it off, just like the fact that he was wearing a suit instead of a football jersey.
"She is, isn't she? You did a great job, by the way. I think you finished your entire basket."
This earned him an amused smile from her parents as next to him his father's eye rose to meet Maurice's.
"Take good care of her," Moe mumbled a little clumsily when he put Belle's hand in Gold's and the pawnbroker nodded determinedly. "I will."
With a warm smile Belle gave her bouquet to Ariel and Bae motioned for Emma to be quiet as the minister cleared his throat.
"By the authority placed in me I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."
The ceremony was drawing to an end and Baelfire couldn't help the soft smile appearing on his lips as Belle wrapped her arms around his father's neck and they leaned in for a heartfelt kiss. Their road towards each other had been long and winding but now that they had finally found each other their love for each other just radiated off of them.
"Ew," Emma finally said sincerely and everybody started to laugh, including the newlywed couple.
Bae stepped forward and Emma let go of his hand just long enough for him to take the rings from his pocket and give them to his father.
"I'm proud of you -," he told them after they'd exchanged the simple, gold bands, "- Mum and Dad."
This made tears welled up in the bride and groom's eyes and they pulled him in for a tight hug, as above them the sun broke through the thick clouds, shining down on the wedding scene below.
For a moment, Bae allowed the public display of affection before gently pulling back, when his parents held him back.
"One more thing, Bae," his father whispered. "Something that must remain a secret to the world a little while longer."
The teenager paused. "What is it?"
He'd never seen his father look this happy and his mother was simply glowing. Suddenly it hit him that her face seemed to have become a bit rounder since he'd first met her and his eyes widened.
"You're going to be a big brother."
From a little distance the young, portly man wearing a faded red t-shirt had been watching the intimate wedding scene, until the small crowd headed back to their cars waiting at the side of the road. He put his hands in the pockets of his grey hoodie and walked away with a content smile on his face.
His work was done.
A/N: Aaaaand it's done. This has taken a lot more time than I'd anticipated when I started writing this story. However, I always intended to finish the story, no matter how long it would take me. I'm sincerely grateful to my beta Delintthedarkone who stuck with me till the end. Thank you so much for reading!