Belle sighed and leaned with her forehead on the cold glass. It was winter. Snowflakes slowly fell down from the sky, covering the earth with a great, white, cold blanket which seemed to produce its own light when the sun shone. It was the most beautiful time of the year, almost Christmas. She could see a little village in the distance and imagined the kids playing with the snow, the elderly watching and the crackling of the snow whenever someone walked over it. Everybody would be outside to enjoy the snow, go back inside when the moon replaced the sun in the sky and would warm their bellies with hot choco.
Everybody, except Belle. She was stuck in this bloody castle.
Though, she couldn't complain. It was warm, the fire was a source of light and warmth, and she had a BOOK placed on her lap, opened on the page she last read, ready to be continued by the girl. Yet, she couldn't think of anything else but her wish to go out and play in the snow.
Rumpelstiltskin sat behind his spinning-wheel, as usual, spinning straws into GOLD. Belle sometimes wondered what he needed all that gold for. Maybe for paying off all the people who came to his castle and asked him for a favour, but she wasn't sure. Maybe he just liked being rich. But money meant nothing to Rumple, his passion was magic.
He never said anything to her, except if he wanted her to make some tea, so his voice startled Belle a bit when he asked for something else.
"You want to go outside, don't you?" he asked. Rumpelstiltskin didn't look up from his spinning-wheel, almost like the question didn't bother him. But if he truely didn't care about what she wanted, she wouldn't have asked.
"Yes," she admitted, closing her BOOK and putting it away. "It's snowing, you see. And almost Christmas. We should go out and enjoy it."
Her master stopped spinning for a few seconds, a bit confused, tried to continue but couldn't catch his rythm anymore. He stood up with a sigh and walked over her, with the same strange walk he always walked with, which she had started to love in these few months she worked here.
"Go outside?" he asked. Belle nodded, pointing at the lovely white snow. It almost seemed like it invited her to walk through it, make snowballs out of it or a snowman.
"Oh, come on, Rumple," she said pleading as she stood up and walked towards him. She took his hands in hers. "It's almost Christmas and you haven't been outside for weeks, a month maybe! It'll be fun!"
Rumpelstiltskin seemed to doubt. He looked out of the window with a frown on his face. She waited hopefully, still holding his hands. She almost lost after a minute when he said:
"Alright then," rather snappishly. "But only if you provide some warm tea afterwards. And it better be good."
Belle grinned happily and nodded.
"Of course!" she said, almost laughed. "I'll get our coat!"
In about half an hour, Belle and Rumplestiltskin both walked out of the Black Castle, escaping its darkness and leaving footprints in the fresh snow when they walked towards the little garden They both wore a warm coat and Belle was glad hers was provided with extra wool, because she once again wore a dress without sleeves. Her arms were covered in goosebumps but Belle wasn't quite sure if they appeared because she was so excited or because the cold weather felt oncomfertable against her skin.
Soft snowflakes fell from the sky and landed on her face. They melted immediately and left a cold drup of water on her face. It even felt better than she imagined it would. After months of working in the dusty, dark castle this was a releave. She remembered how much she loved playing in the snow. How much she loved the winter. The cold weather combined with the warm fires at night with a hot drink warming your belly. It was basically the best time of the year.
They walked silently towards the big tree. It was barely unrecognizable. The bright green leaves had fallen off. Only the branches and the trunk of the tree. Belle often called it the skeleton of a tree. On the skeleton of the tree sat a dozen little birds, their beaks placed between their feathers and their eyes closed, as like they were sleeping. It surprised her to see so much birds in the winter, but she guessed she never really payed attention to the animals when she was younger if she could've made snowmen or snow angels.
"Wait a second," she said to Rumple. He raised his eyebrows questioningly but she already ran off back towards the castle.
When she came back, there was a little bit of bird's seed in her hand and a smile covering her face. Rumplestiltskin watched her a little reserved, with still risen eyebrows when she walked back to him and gave him the bird's seed.
"What am I supposed to do with this?" he asked, rather snappishly. Belle rolled her eyes and kneeled in the snow. Her knees got immediately even colder than they already were when they touched the wet snow.
"Feed the birds, of course," she said, as she patted on the snow next to her. "Come, sit down."
Rumple looked at her like she was mad for a couple of seconds, before he sighed dramatically and sat down next to he, mumbling something about 'never doing this again'.
When Rumplestiltskin sat down, the birds suddenly woke up, like they could smell the bird's seeds. They lifted up their heads one by one, looking at the two kneeling people a few feet away from the tree with their black eyes, tilting their heads curiously.
"Sssh," Belle sussed, even though Rumple hadn't made a sound, with her eyes fixed on the little birds. They both waited a until the birds were curious enough to leave their branches and fly down, landing a few inches in front of Rumple's extanded hands. The birds hopped through the snow, still looking at Belle and her master curiously. Just when the first and bravest bird wanted to hop into his hands, Rumplestiltskin threw the seeds onto the bird. With loud, alarming chirping the bird flew back onto its brench, taking a few others with him.
Rumple sighed and rolled his large, brown eyes. He knipped his fingers. Suddenly all the birds who hid in the tree flew towards Rumpelstiltskin and sat down on his arms, shoulders and head. Bella seighed and walked towards her master, ready to wipe his Magic-can-solve-all-my-stupid-problems grin of his face.
"You used magic," she said insulting as she crossed her arms.
"Yes... So?" Rumple asked. He cocked his head a little to the left.
"Try to do it without magic," Belle insisted, because he didn't got the clue yet. His eyes wided which made his dark pupils look even bigger. When she kept looking at him, he sighed loudly and dramatically and waved his hand. The magic was abrogated and the birds became conscious again. They flew away as quickly as possible, like they didn't understand why they even sat down on the weird man's shoulder if he didn't have any seeds he could feed them. The birds sat down on the branches of the nearest tree and looked at them suspiciously.
Belle layd her hand on his lower arm and smiled, actually kind of proud. She didn't expect him to agrogate the magic without any other complainings.
"Cup your hands," she demanded. Rumple looked at her and by the look of his face Belle knew he cursed himself for taking orders from his maid. He sighed again. Yet, he still cupped his hands so Belle could pour some seeds in them.
She kneeled down in the wet snow, which felt uncomfertably cold to her knees. Rumple imitated her. They waited a few seconds, until a brave little bird flew down from the tree. It landed a few feet in front of them and stared at them with its little, dark, curious eyes. He hopped towards them through the snow and stopped a few inches in front of Rumpelstiltskin's hands, like it was asking them: Are all those seeds really for me? The bird decided it didn't matter and jumped onto his hands, eagerly pecking the food.
"See?" Belle said smiling. She felt even prouder. She looked at the brave bird, at the beautiful green and red feathers.
"You can do things without having to force other living things to do what you want. You can do things without magic."
When she turned her head and met Rumple's gaze, she saw he looked at her like she had just casted the most powerful spell he has ever seen by just smiling at him.
"Yes..." he mumbled.