A/N: I want to make this clear in case some people get upset about this. I have nothing against homosexuality. Nothing at all. People who know me already know this but I wanted to make it clear for the general audience.

The way Rumple reacts to the idea that he might be attracted to a boy is the way I imagine any person over 300 years old who had never before shown interest in men would react. Discovering that something about yourself might not be the way you always thought it was is a scary experience most people don't welcome at first, so I believe his reaction is a natural one, or at least very much in character. Rumple does not handle emotions and such very well, so bear that in mind. This was also meant to be funny and fluffy, and I apologize if someone doesn't see it that way.

As always enjoy! There will be a second part sometime in the future, I can't tell when.

Credit to Nightowlwoman for coming up with the amazing title.

Benjamin was turning out to be less of a hopeless nuisance than Rumplestiltskin had thought at first. He was hardworking, for once, and extremely bright, picking up on whatever he was taught immediately. He rarely spoke, always pitching his voice low, obviously trying to sound older than his young age, and had a sunny sort of disposition, a smile never far from his face. It was a pretty thing, his smile, always wide and unabashed, making his blue eyes shine (not that he noticed that sort of thing).

At first he thought he might be too scrawny for most jobs but it soon became clear that, though he favoured loose tunics and such, he wasn't as thin as he'd imagined. His hands were strangely soft for a boy his age, who should have accumulated several calluses already from handling a sword, but Benjie proved to be an odd little thing, clearly having a preference for books and knowledge and displaying very little skill with a sword. The only time he'd practiced with him the boy had ended up with a deep cut along his arm that he had been swift to heal. He suspected the kid reminded him a bit of Bae, and so he felt strangely protective of him.

Though he insisted on wearing that ridiculous rag he called a hat, shapeless, floppy and falling over his forehead most of the time, he made little fuss over anything else, seeming happy to tackle whatever task his master gave him. He patched the rooftop, tended to the gardens and even undertook what some people might consider typical female duties, such as cooking and laundering.

He had, at first, taken to observing the boy to make sure he didn't escape or burn down the castle. Benjamin was a bit too graceful for a lad, lacking the necessary sort of overt power to his mannerisms that most noblemen displayed. He was subtle instead, almost delicate, but there was a hidden strength there that told him he had picked the right prize. A noble little fighter to bully and tease while he order him about.

Well, the bullying part hadn't quite worked out. The lad hadn't risen to the occasion once, choosing to either pretend not to hear him or to retort with a witty, disarming little quip that put the Dark One in his place without it being overt insubordination. Benjie was a smart wee thing, hiding his cleverness behind doe-eyed eyes with disturbingly-long lashes, letting his pretty mouth curve into a smile even when he wanted to frown.

And what a pretty mouth it was indeed. Pretty as the rest of him, from his chestnut hair, which he hardly saw, hidden as it was by his ridiculous hat, to his dainty little feet. Everything about Benjamin was disarmingly small and delicate: his skin was white and looked soft (Rumplestiltskin sometimes caught himself on the verge of tracing a clawed finger down the boy's exposed throat, a strange impulse he squashed every single time), he had small hands with long, thin fingers and a pert little nose made more so by his full lips, which were a shade of rose that must have gotten him mocked by his playmates as a child. His eyes were too blue, slanting in a way that would have been very becoming had the lad been a girl. As it was Rumplestiltskin could see why the boy had turned to books and quiet pursuits, he must have been bullied a lot as a child, making him shy away from the usual boyish physical activities.

It must have been too why all his unkind remarks and hard tasks hadn't been able to break the kid. And after trying hard to punish the boy for being born a nobleman, like those who had long-ago oppressed him had been, he had grown protective him. He soon discover that the lad didn't, surprisingly, remind him of Bae, not after a few weeks of getting to know him. Benjie had Bae's bravery, and his kindness, but otherwise they weren't much alike, which pleased him. He wasn't about to replace his son with someone else's.

Benjie seemed, oddly enough, to like him too. At first he had shied away from him, clearly scared of the monster who was now forever his master. He had been skittish and elusive, like a scaredy cat, even though he had tried hard to conceal his uneasiness. Now he was much more open, disturbingly so for the Dark One, unused to people displaying any sort of kindness towards him. He teased him, prodded him to eat when he forgot and even scolded him for leaving muddy footprints or mishandling books.

He had caught himself doing something like that on purpose, knowing his disrespectful servant would swat him upside the head for his transgression, therefore willingly touching him. He rationalized it, saying it had been so long since someone had dared touch him that even a playful gesture from a boy was welcomed. It had also been a long time since someone hadn't been afraid of him, and so of course he sought Benjie out all the time, having him do most of his chores in the spinning room so he could keep him company. Benjamin was a curious lad, always asking questions about far off places and the deals he'd made over the years. He had a sharp mind, always picking up on details other people didn't seem to even notice and was a great conversationalist, when he could encourage him to talk, that is.

Besides curious Benjie was strangely observant, knowing when to push and when to relent. He soon grew to read his moods with ease, learning when to tease him, when to leave him alone and when to bully him into behaving better. It felt nice, having someone close again, a sort of little brother or something of the sort. And Benjamin was extremely nice to have close, always smelling of sandalwood- the fragrance of the soap he gave the lad to bathe himself with- and a faint, hidden sort of floral scent that was both soothing and strangely alluring. His heightened senses allowed him to seek his servant out using nothing but his nose and often when bored he'd instruct the boy to do some chore in some far away part of the castle, wait a good while and then go hunting for him. It helped pass the time.

Life was surprisingly good with a companion, and so Rumplestiltskin pushed aside the vague sort of uneasiness that stole over him when he caught himself mooning after the lad or thinking about him. Benjamin was just interesting, not really the spoiled little aristocrat he had expected but rather a kind soul, someone worth getting to know. A pretty little prize he liked to play around with. Nothing more, nothing less.

A late fall morning he looked up from his spinning to encounter the sight of his wee servant boy trying to open the curtains of the room, claiming they both needed some sunlight. Perched atop the ladder Benjie was quite innocently giving his master a lovely view of his legs and bottom, wiggling around as he pulled ineffectively at the heavy velvet drapes.

"What on Earth are you doing?" he enquired, trying to pretend not to be simultaneously concerned for and strangely aroused by his sprightly little servant boy.

"Opening these. It's almost spring, we should let some light in."

He sounded faintly chiding, like he was actually scolding the Dark One for living in darkness in his Dark Castle. He tugged a bit at the fabric, becoming increasingly frustrated when it refused to yield.

"What did you do, nail them down?"

He looked faintly puzzled by Benjie's accusatory tone. Of course he'd nailed them down. What else was one to do with curtains? The boy insisted on tugging at the drapes, leaning farther and farther from the ladder. It was an accident waiting to happen and, sure enough, a hardy pull ripped the curtains from the window altogether, making the lad lose his balance. He saw him fall in slow motion and instinctively reached out to catch him before he collided with the floor.

The first thing he noticed was that Benjie was… softer than he thought he'd be. Because of his lose clothing and lack of physical prowess he'd assumed he was scrawny, full of the sharp edges all teenage boys developed but with little meat to fill them out. Instead he felt gentle curves beneath his arms. His caretaker was lush, round in all the wrong places for a boy who already looked effeminate enough as it was.

He had skin like porcelain too, which didn't much help his cause, and eyes big enough to swallow him whole. Those eyes looked up at him with a hint of fear and a lot of shy trust. One of his arms was wrapped around his shoulders and on his neck something glinted. His throat was bared by the tunic's fastening coming undone, showing more skin that he had ever before. Suddenly all the Dark One could think of was how nice a bruise or a bite mark would look on the boy's lovely throat, and how good his skin would taste, if his smell was any indication.

He dropped him abruptly, taking a step back and looking faintly horrified. Benjie stumbled backwards, managing to keep his balance at the last minute, and dissolved himself in apologies, his fingers quickly redoing the ties of his tunic with ease. Rumplestiltskin caught again the glint of metal on the boy's throat and delicately took hold of the golden chain with a clawed finger.

"What is this, poppet?" he enquired, his voice soft and almost unrecognizable. The lad clutched the tiny diamond pendant attached to the chain, as if he feared his master might sequester it for his own.

"It was my sister's, sir," he stuttered "Who got it from our mother. I hope it's okay for me to have it."

Benjamin looked so uncertain and so desperate the Dark One wanted nothing more than to make his boy- his servant boy, that is- happy.

"You keep it, little one, I have no use for it anyway," the boy smiled so widely Rumplestiltskin felt the need to pat him gently on the cheek. And dear Lord, was the lad's skin soft. Like silk. And warm, oh so warm…

He needed a drink.

As time passed the dreams begun. At first they were perfectly innocent, just some harmless interaction with Benjie as they both went about their day. Gradually they changed, and his dream-self grew closer and closer to the boy. In his dreams Benjamin seemed to yearn for their gradual closeness, giving him shy glances from beneath his thick lashes or quirking his lips into enticing little smiles. His touches would linger, becoming soft caresses, each one bolder than the rest.

Somehow his dreams started affecting the waking world. The most innocent of phrases begun to acquire a flirty undertone, a hidden sort of meaning. Their playfulness turned gradually into veiled innuendo, a strange sort of dance that poor virginal Benjamin seemed to have trouble following sometimes. It was then, when he stumbled and blushed and hid his face beneath the rim of his hat that Rumplestiltskin remembered he was a young boy and he had no right accosting him.

'He's just your manservant' he repeated to himself daily 'Nothing more, nothing else.'

Yet he could hardly keep himself from seeking the boy out more and more, invading his personal space to smell more of that delectable flower scent that was all Benjie. The lad was timid but not altogether uninterested, he could tell by the flash of hunger in his eyes whenever the imp gave into temptation and stepped close to his caretaker to gently adjust a bit of clothing or tuck an errant strand of hair back inside his hat. He begun to accumulate an assortment of names to refer to little Benjie, from "poppet" and "ducky", the safest ones, to "lovey", "precious" and, once or twice, "darling". He made it look like it was a part of his quirky, eccentric persona, and the dear boy never seemed to question it, taking it instead as a permission to call him Rumplestiltskin instead of master, which greatly pleased the imp. Even when forcing a lower pitch to appear manly Benjie's voice was very pleasant, and hearing him say his name gave him a jolt of… something every time.

It was soon after the boy began to tentatively address him by his name that he had the dream. Benjie was roaming the hallways, calling out his name, obviously looking for him and the Dark One was silently watching the boy, letting his eyes linger in the places he barely dared look at when he wasn't skulking in the shadows. The boy tripped at some point, skinning his knee. The sight of the lad's blood seemed to drive him out of hiding, noiselessly approaching the kid before kneeling beside him, his face a mask of concern.

"Poor wee rabbit has injured his pretty little leg," he crooned, his voice pitched low and soothing, and took hold of the lad's leg between his taloned hands. Benjie looked skittish but relieved at the same time, allowing his master to move his hands higher, just shy of his thigh. A purple mist surrounded the area, and when it was gone so was the scrape. The Dark One bent down to place a kiss on the now healed knee, not missing the way the lad shuddered and his breathing deepened, and then hoisted him up by the waist, not letting go when they were both on their feet.

"There," the imp said, his voice strange, his eyes hazy "All better."

Neither moved, Benjamin looking up at his master with an unreadable expression on his face. His lips were parted, rosy-red and glistening, and his eyes were huge and liquid. He was irresistible, and Rumplestiltskin was ever-so-tired of fighting his basest urges. A dark, needy voice inside him urged him on, talking about how good the boy would taste, how eager he'd be in his arms.

'He wants this as much as you do,' it cajoled 'Look at him, pupils dilated and heart-rate spiking, a trembling virgin wanting things he cannot quite comprehend. He wouldn't push you away, spinner, but rather pull you closer, let you steal his breath with a kiss and devour him.'

And for once he listened to the voice, trapping his servant boy between the stone wall and his own wiry body and grabbing him by the back of his knees, lifting him up and forcing him to wrap his legs around his waist to keep his balance. Benjie looked surprised but not unwilling or scared, planting his hands on his master's shoulders and staring at him steadily, waiting for him to take the next step.

"What do you want, sweetling?" he asked, his lips skimming against the shell of the boy's ear, delighting in the way he trembled in response, letting out a needy little whimper.

"I don't know," the lad replied, close to sobbing in frustration "You. I just want you, Rumple."

It was all the permission he needed to drag his mouth to the boy's tempting throat, biting and kissing every bit of skin he could reach, taking care not to draw the boy's blood. Little Benjie writhed in his arms, making the most delicious noises of encouragement and pleasure, his hands gliding up his neck to tangle on his hair, pressing his face more firmly against his neck. The Dark One smiled against the boy's skin before pressing his nose against the juncture between his neck and shoulder, ravenous for the lad's scent. As it filled his nostrils he felt the last remnants of his control slip away. He bit the spot he'd been nuzzling, branding his lovely servant as his. The boy keened, rocking his hips against his master's instinctively and letting out a surprised moan when he felt the imp's stiff member press against him. For the dealmaker it was utter bliss, to be surrounded by Benjie's smell and warmth, to have his soft body pressed up against him, pliant and eager. He thrust his hips against the boy's, the friction bringing not relief but more urgency.

"Will you have me, Benjie?" he asked, a hand caressing the boy's left cheek, his claw-like fingernails leaving very faint red marks down the boy's jaw "Let me give you what you want? What you need?"

The boy nodded instantly and Rumplestiltskin wasted no time pressing their lips together, tilting his head to better ravage the rosy mouth of his exquisite caretaker. His lips were soft and it took next to nothing to coax them open, letting his tongue delve past the boy's pearly-white teeth. The taste of him was as divine as he'd hoped, a delicious mixture of all sorts of sweets things. He patiently coaxed the lad's tongue to interact with his, their initial playfulness dissolving into a frenzy of licks and bites as they devoured each other, hands exploring the other person's body recklessly. Rumple felt drunk, almost possessed as he rutted against his precious Benjamin, letting the boy's moans and whimpers serve as guidance to let him know what he liked and how he liked it. The little runt was tugging on his hair, sinking his nails into his scalp in a way that made him delirious.

"Yes, darling, just so," he crooned encouragingly, feeling the boy tense, his inexperience making him fight off his impending release "Let it happen, sweetling, I've got you. I've got you."

Seeing Benjie come unravelled was a thing of beauty and it drove him over the edge, making him unceremoniously come in his leathers, like some inexperienced youngster. But with his lovely boy draped around him, panting and trying to catch his breath it was difficult to feel anything but sated and pleased. He let the boy rest his head on his shoulder, rubbing his back and murmuring calming nonsense. He felt nothing but peace now he had taken the boy as his own, and relished in the freedom to kiss him without guilt.

"My dear, darling Benjie…"

He woke up drenched in sweat, his bed sheets sticky with the shameful evidence of his wet dream. For a moment he froze over in shock, trying hard breathe evenly and stop his mind from replaying the dream over and over inside his head. When he could finally move he ripped his linen pants and tunic off, as well as tore the sheets from the bed, throwing both into the fire he conjured up with a flick of his wrist. He bathed in cold water then, scrubbing hard to punish himself. Benjamin was a wee lad, barely older than Bae had been when he had entered the vortex. He was sweet, and good and kind and did not deserve to have a monster lusting after him.

Not to mention he was a male. In three hundred and so years he had never, not once, been attracted to a boy. The more time he spent with his servant the less he seemed to mind, but the boy was young and no matter how many times the dealmaker caught him sending longing little looks his way it didn't mean he wasn't confused and unsure about what he wanted.

He was the only person the boy saw. He was trapped in his castle, catering to his every whim, dependant on him for everything. Of course he had, as a result, become affectionate. He needed to let the boy go. It was the right thing to do. In the morning he'd send Benjamin to fetch straw, making it very clear that if he chose to never return he wouldn't pursue him.

He did it. And he congratulated himself for all of five minutes for being rid of a lot of confusion and unwanted emotions before going up the tallest tower and staring at the road that led to the Dark Castle, longing for Benjie to come back. When the boy actually did, however, he could barely believe it and had to sprint to sit down on his wheel before he got to the Spinning Room with the straw.

"Back already?" his feigned tone of surprise fooled no one "Good. Good. I'm nearly out of straw."

Benjamin smiled in that coquettish way that drove him wild and leaned close to hand him the basket.

"Come on, you're happy that I'm back."

"I'm not unhappy."

He wasn't, really. Horny and confused yes, but not unhappy.

From them on the boy came and went as he pleased, being in charge of buying all the necessary provisions from the nearby town. He was soon known as "the Dark One's servant", and became a sort of local curiosity, especially since he allowed to boy to purchase anything he wanted with his gold, thinking that the more presents he lavished on him the less likely he was to leave him. Benjie spent most of his money on books, though he did purchase some caps and bandanas. The boy had mumbled something about a horrible scar when he had enquired after his ever-present hat, looking so terrified with the prospect of removing it that he hadn't had the nerve to enquire further. Though he fervently wished to see more of Benjie's brunette curls he didn't want the poor lad to be uncomfortable or unhappy in any way. The caps, however, were more becoming than the silly hat and allowed him to better gaze at the boy's face, a definite improvement.

When he came from the village with a torn coat and a sour disposition Rumplestiltskin was ready to murder whatever idiot had gotten handsy with the boy.

"Oh, it's nothing, just a girl from the village who tried to grab me and accidentally tore my coat. Easy to fix."

The lad was ready to shrug the whole incident off but the imp saw in it an opportunity.

"And what about this girl, ducky? Wasn't she pretty? Weren't you tempted to dally for a bit, as it were?" he enquired, his playful tone and easy smile hiding his anxiousness.

Benjie hopped on the table and pulled a face, swinging his legs a bit.

"I suppose she was pretty, but completely vapid. I didn't much care for her," he paused and a lovely smile spread across his face as he turned sideways to face his master "To me love is… love is layered," his voice took on a dreamy sort of quality that the imp found inexplicably enticing "Love is a mystery to be uncovered. I can't truly give my heart to someone so superficial."

The boy's words, coupled with the shy way he had glanced in his direction when speaking of love, filled him with a sort of foolish hope he couldn't quite understand. He took to sneaking in once or twice a week to watch the lad sleep, softly running a claw down his cheek or stroking his forehead to sate the incredible hunger that had grown inside him. The Dark One was constantly urging him to take the boy, to possess him and be done with the incessant pining and longing, but he held it back by sheer force of will.

The Queen's visit interrupted their strange little existence. She came unannounced, as always, and he met her at the entrance Hall, unwilling to let her have free reign of the castle. He contemplated for a second instructing Benjie to hide but the boy poked his head into the Spinning room to offer him tea before he could warn him. Regina's eyes lit up when she spotted the lad, looking him up and down before beckoning him close. Benjamin looked at his master warily before venturing further into the room, offering the guest tea as well and generally staying out of the Queen's arm reach.

Unfortunately he couldn't dodge her and serve her tea at the same time and his former apprentice took the opportunity to caress the servant's cheek, trying to direct the boy's attention to her plunging neckline. Benjamin, bless his soul, politely averted his eyes and extricated himself from the woman's grip, moving to exit the room afterwards.

"No, my sweet, stay. I may have need of you." The Queen instructed, her blood red lips curving into a smile meant to seduce. His servant looked at him for guidance and, fearing that letting the boy go would let Regina know how he cared for him, he nodded, telling him to stand on the side and be quiet. He was uncharacteristically short with the boy, but it couldn't be helped.

His little tet-a-tet with his former apprentice ended up consisting of two hours of the Queen flaunting her cleavage in the general direction of his servant boy, using whatever excuse she could think of to make eye contact with him or stroke his arms and hands. The wee lad, poor thing, looked both repelled and frightened by the woman's obvious advances, which pleased Rumplestiltskin to no end. After all Regina was still a desirable woman, even despite her unfortunate personality, but still Benjamin preferred his unspoken affection to the queen's overt displays of interest. In the end it was difficult to ascertain who was more relieved to see the Bitch Queen depart. Rumplestiltskin shut the doors behind her with gusto, leaning against them and letting out a hearty "Good riddance!" followed by a manic giggle. Benjamin smiled tentatively up at his master.

"I don't much like that woman. Will she be coming over a lot?"

The imp wrinkled his nose, the mere idea making him want to gag.

"I don't think so, ducky," he replied, trying to soothe the boy "Now come on, read me something by the fire. Something bloody."

It'd be one of the few times Rumplestiltskin had been completely and utterly wrong. The Queen returned mere days afterwards having been told that the imp was away sealing a deal. She found the intriguing little caretaker arranging some fresh flowers on an unused, dark drawing room. The lad was exquisite and young enough that she could train her to please her in the ways she liked best. Soft too, and with lovely eyes and delicate features. He was ripe and begging to be plucked and she couldn't deny that gaining the loyalty of the only servant her former master had wasn't a pleasant bonus.

The boy dropped the vase the moment he spotted her, letting it shatter against the stone floor. His eyes widened, a flicker of fear ghosting inside them before he settled for uneasiness.

"Your Majesty," he greeted her, eyeing the only door in the room and backing away from her as subtly as possible "My master is not here. You best return tomorrow. I'll escort you to the gates, if it pleases you."

Before the little runt could angle for the door she deftly intercepted him, backing him into a corner. The boy refused to show anything but the merest hint of anxiety, and the Queen took it as a good sign. She tried to soothe him, telling him there was nothing to be afraid of and that he wouldn't get him in trouble with his master if he merely behaved.

"You're too young and pretty to be confined to a dusty old castle, my sweet," she cooed, smiling beguilingly and stroking the boy's neck "There are so many things you haven't experienced yet. I could help you with that."

She trailed a finger down the servant's petal-soft neck, slowly inching towards the fastening of his tunic. He raised both hands to his throat to stop her, shaking his head vehemently.

"I don't want anything you might offer," he said clearly, trying to spy a way out of the Queen's unwelcomed embrace. Something shifted then, the monarch's eyes becoming colder and her smile turning nasty. She pressed a hand at the top of the boy's chest, power rolling off of her in waves.

"I don't think you understand me, my dear," even her voice lost hey honeyed hue, becoming sharp and commanding "This can either happen with you willing and enjoying it or with your warm little heart between my hands and your will under my command," once the threat was made she tried to go back to being alluring "There's no need for unpleasantness, my sweet. I'll treat you right, you'll see, make it worth your while. If you please me enough I might even try to barter with Rumple for you. I'd treat you like a pampered pet, shower you in riches and give you a special place on my bed every night. Hundreds of men would kill for an opportunity like the one I'm offering you."

The boy shook his head again emphatically, revulsion clearly written on his face. The Queen lost her patience then, one hand closing around the lad's throat as the other readied to plunge into his chest and tear out his heart. It was then that she felt a terrifying rumble. The entire castle shook, the very stones quivering before a sudden force knocked the Queen backwards to the opposite side of the room.

"Regina!" Rumplestiltskin's voice was like thunder and seemed to come from everywhere at once. He soon appeared on the doorway, a slight figure with a larger than life presence. He was livid, his skin a darker shade of gold-green than usual and his eyes nearly black. His former apprentice had the decency to tremble in fear, trying in vain to hide it.

"Really, Rumple, there's no need for such theatrics." she chided, though her voice was wobbly and weak. An unseen force took hold of her by the throat, lifting her so her feet hovered a few inches from the floor.

"I do so hate to come home to you attempting to steal what's mine, dearie." the imp slammed the monarch against a stone wall, relishing the whimper she let out "And to see you resort to rape to sate your needs. What's the matter, doll? Do your looks no longer get you willing bed mates?"

Rumplestiltskin slowly invaded his unwelcomed guest's personal space, flashing his yellow teeth in a mockery of a smile.

"Best I don't ever catch your again with Benjamin, dearie. The boy is mine," he hissed out the last part "And you may never take him away from me."

She struggled uselessly against his magic and for a moment it looked like the dealmaker might snap her little neck. But he simply flicked his wrist to propel the woman out of the room, following to make sure she was out of the castle before reinforcing the locks with magic. He was furious still, wanting to tear the Queen apart bit by bit. But the Queen was his curse caster, and as such she needed to be kept alive.

He turned his attention to the boy instead, ready to scold him for letting his guard down and allowing the Queen to get too close. But as soon as he re-entered the room he saw the lad on the floor, trying hard not to cry as he gathered the broken shards of a vase. He vanished the crystal with a wave of his hands, sinking to his knees to take the boy in his arms afterwards. The moment he did so Benjie burst into tears, shaking like a leaf and clinging to his master's shoulders with a vice-like grip. He let the boy press his face against the roughened side of his neck, rubbing his back in soothing motions and murmuring comforting nonsense in an effort to calm his darling down.

"Hush, dear one, hush," he kissed the top of the boy's cap, wishing he could feel the silky texture of his hair beneath his lips "She's never going to come near you again. You're mine, all mine, and no one will ever take you from me." he conjured up something from thin air, urging the servant to see. It was a thin bracelet of woven gold strands "But just in case put on this. The bracelet is enchanted to act as a barrier against other people's magic. It's very powerful but hardly used because it also blocks the passage of magic from the wearer to the other person, but that's not a problem in this case. Wear it always, sweetling, and you'll be protected."

The boy nodded, accepting the bracelet from his master before snuggling deeper into his arms as his sobs became hiccups. His eyelids grew heavy and soon the lad was asleep in the Dark One's arms, apparently unbothered by his reputation. Benjamin was a treasure and he vowed to keep him safe and happy. He cradled him close, only letting go to deposit the boy in his bed. Even though his face was slightly puffy from crying he looked utterly enchanting, and for once he couldn't bring himself to care that he was young, or male. He bent down and pressed a feather-light kiss on the boy's slightly parted lips, committing the moment to memory.

He'd take whatever he could at that point. They'd live chastely together and he'd make sure Benjamin was safe for always. It was better than being alone, in any case.

Though it might be better it didn't make it any less frustrating. Sometimes the imp felt he'd go mad with wanting. He tried hard not to look, not to be tempted. He even tried sating his lust with women willing to satisfy him for money, but his body refused to cooperate. With a great deal of concealed embarrassment he sought out drunk men effeminate enough to resemble his boy, but none of them appealed at all.

The mixed signals didn't help. Sometimes he thought he could detect a special sort of affection in the boy, and a good deal of attraction. It was the way he caught him looking sometimes, or how he'd straighten out his attire, his hands lingering and his touch becoming soft and yearning. But then, for some reason, the lad snapped out of it and then recoiled from him, hiding behind a polite mask and making excuses to flee his presence. It was those moments that kept him away more than anything.

But every now and then he caved into temptation and snuck inside Benjie's room to watch him sleep. One night, however, he discovered the room empty, no trace of the wee boy anywhere. More curious than alarmed Rumplestiltskin roamed the halls of the castle, breathing deeply to try and catch the scent of his servant. He followed it all the way to the back-door in the kitchen leading to the gardens. Becoming increasingly puzzled he continued to chase after the smell, coming to a copse of trees. From such a secluded place he could spot a lake he barely remember was in his property. He was about to approach it when he noticed the silhouette of his servant on the shore, carrying a towel and other bath supplies. His mouth dried when he understood what was going on: Benjamin was going to take a bath. He never did so in the daytime, but he'd always assumed he bathed inside the castle, not outside.

He struggled with himself, torn between fleeing back to his room and trying his damnest not to think about his lovely boy was doing and staying and watching the lad clean himself up. It was the sight of Benjamin dipping a bare foot into the water and sighing contentedly that decided him. Pushing his guilt aside he settled to watch, excitement brewing inside him when Benjie's hands grasped his cap, pulling it off in one swift motion. He didn't expect long, silky curls to tumble down, reaching the middle of the boy's back easily. The lad shook his hair out, combing his fingers through it. There was no scar, no disfiguration, only loveliness.

Puzzled as he was by the matter of the cap he almost missed the boy removing his tunic and the undershirt he wore beneath it. Instead of encountering smooth, pale chest his eyes registered a sort of odd, thick bandage concealing most of the boy's ribcage from view. He didn't recall Benjie getting hurt, nor had he ever complained of pain or winced in his presence. With a hint of nervousness he watched as the boy methodically unrolled the long strip of linen from the bottom up and his eyes widened when the whole of the lad's torso was bared to his gaze.

There was no mistaking those luscious curves for anything other than feminine. His eyes became riveted to her breasts, soft-looking, round and perfectly-proportioned and it took a while for it to dawn on him.

Benjie was a woman.

He barely batted an eye when his little "servant boy" removed his lose pants and underwear, confirming what the Dark One had recently discovered. He observed her in a sort of trance as she pinned her hair up before carefully wading into the water. The girl enjoyed swimming for a bit and taking in the night air before grabbing the bar of soap and lathering herself up meticulously and rinsing herself off. She looked around before cautiously stepping out of the waters wrapping a the towel she had brought around her petit frame. He could still see every curve and dip of her body, even the dark patch of curls at the apex of her thighs. Whatever control he'd managed to hold onto for the last months snapped like a twig, leaving nothing but intense desire and a burning eagerness. He needed answers as much as he needed to pin his lying little servant boy to the ground and have his wicked way with "him".

He reached her as she discarded the towel and bent over to reach for her clothes.

"Lovely night, isn't it, ducky?"

The blind panic in her eyes appeased him a little. She scrambled to cover herself up as much as possible with the cloth she'd dropped, taking a few steps back before freezing in place. Up close she was even more beautiful than he'd thought at first. The delicate features that had seemed so incongruous in a boy made her ravishing, from the slanted eyes and the pert nose to the full, rosy mouth. Her hair was glorious, dark brown with teasing hints of red and gold and impossibly glossy. Before he could squash the urge one of his hands captured a curl near her left shoulder. He rubbed his fingers against it, revelling in the sleek texture and brought it close to his nose. There was no sandalwood there to mask her unique flowery scent and for a moment he concentrated only on her smell, trying to gather his wits and decide on a course of action.

"Who are you, poppet?" he enquired, looking intently at her. He kept his voice low and soothing, no need to frighten the poor little rabbit more. The woman bit her lip, managing to make herself even more mouth-watering in the process.

"My name is Belle," she confessed at last, eyes beseeching him to hear her out, to understand "Benjamin was my younger brother. He died a few weeks before we summoned you. He got hit by an arrow accidentally while out hunting with a few other boys his age, and died of an infection shortly afterwards."

Belle. The name suited her, she was certainly the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. In the back of his head, however, he mourned the loss of the name "Benjie", associated with all manner of warm, pleasant feelings, and a lot of confusing ones.

"And how did you come to impersonate him, Belle?"

He caught the delicious little shiver that ran down her spine when he said her name and inwardly smiled, delighted.

"You have to understand that my brother was everything to my father and the village. The heir, the hope for the future. He died while we were under heavy attack from the ogres and the news would've killed whatever fighting spirit our people had left…" tears glistened in her eyes and the imp's arms itched to wrap themselves around her and bring her comfort, like he had done in the past "I was ten years older than him, but the resemblance was enough to fool people at a distance and most of the villagers had never seen Benjie or me up close. Papa kept a careful watch over him, even I didn't know Benjamin very well, I was never allowed near him much. It was supposed to be a temporary solution till we could find a way to drive the ogres away."

She paused, trying to blink back tears and find the correct words.

"Then you came," her smile, though tremulous, was breath-taking "And you could give the village peace, and safety. But you demanded Lord Maurice's son as the price, and he no longer had one. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to do the brave thing and hope bravery would follow. Be a hero, do what my brother was supposed to do and deliver the village from war and death. I thought it'd be worth whatever I'd have to face here," she started crying then, softly, silently "I didn't expect you to be so… so… So generous, and nice and funny. I didn't expect you to treat me with respect, or show me so much kindness. Or to make me feel all these confusing things," she dried her eyes as best she could with the heel of her hand "I didn't expect you to be a mystery."

She seemed to realize what she had let slip a little too late, covering her mouth with her hands to keep herself from blurting out anything else. Rumplestiltskin felt it was almost too good to be true and surreptitiously dug the fingernails his right hand into the skin of his forearm, welcoming the sting of pain that told him he was wide awake, standing in front of a gorgeous woman who most certainly wasn't a teenage boy. A woman who had all but spelled out that she had feelings for him.

"So you think I'm… layered."

He needed confirmation, coward that he was. Belle ducked her head, looking at him from beneath her lashes.

"I thought I was pretty obvious," she finally confessed, colour flooding her cheeks "But I was supposed to be a boy so I couldn't… I mean, I had to pretend I didn't… But then you started touching me so much, and calling me names and I became scared that you wouldn't want me if you know I wasn't a boy, and…"

His maniacal laughter cut her off but he couldn't stop himself. If he didn't laugh he was going to cry. All those months of longing, torture, confusion an crisis had been for nothing. He'd been infatuated with a woman all along, a brave, beautiful, incredible woman who thought he preferred her as a pubescent male. He advanced then, intruding on her personal space with not a trace of guilt or tumult and sinking his fingers into her hair, tilting her head up so he could stare at her in the eyes.

"Do you have any idea how many sleepless nights I've spent in my bed, feeling nothing but confusion and shame for lusting after a boy barely out of infancy? How many hours I've agonized over finding you irresistible and exquisite? The impulses I've had to squash, the urges I've had to quench, the countless moments I've caught myself mooning over you and thinking of how horrified you'd be if you knew your monster of a master held you in such tender regard?"

Her eyes softened, a hand cupping the left side of his face tenderly.

"You're not a monster," she told him, her tone brooking no argument. He smiled and shuddered when the warmth from her hand seeped into his rough skin.

"I don't think it's wise to touch me right now, sweetling."

He felt he was about to burst, just one caress shy of throwing her on the grass, tearing that piece of fabric from her body and taking her over and over under the stars. She disregarded his comment, letting her hand travel downwards, her nails scratching gently against his throat. A low growl was all the warning he could give her before he dragged her down, setting her as gently as he could on the grass in his urgency and immediately looming over her, hands and knees on the ground on either side of her.

He gently took hold of the base of her throat before slanting his lips against hers, sighing in relief as the taste of her flooded his mouth. He was too far gone to ease her into anything, but her response was as frenzied as his. Inexperienced as she was she matched him move by move, seeming not to care when their teeth knocker or their noses bumped. A faint cry of alarm distracted him just as he licked her lips, his tongue begging for entrance. It was the Dark One, howling in desperation and agony. He pulled back then, noticing with muted terror that his hands were losing their unnatural colour and texture. What on Earth…?

True love's kiss. He was living out his dream after months and months of cold baths and unmitigated longing and true love's fucking kiss was standing in the way of what was sure to be the best thing to ever happen to him. He should've seen it coming, of course, what with the way his heart skipped a beat at the mere thought of Benjie-Belle-, but he had never thought it'd be reciprocated. He couldn't lose his power, he needed his power to find Bae but the mere idea of not kissing Belle made him physically hurt. If only there was a way to block the magic just long enough to.

"Poppet, do you have the bracelet I gave you?" he murmured while nuzzling against her throat. He felt her pat the grass around her, lifting the object in question for him to see once she found it "Put it on, dear one, and don't take it off at any point. Promise?"

She nodded with a reassuring smile, somehow sensing this was important, and slipped the band of gold on her right wrist. He lounged for her lips then, pleased when they parted at once to let him in. He sought out her tongue with his own, coaxing her to explore, letting her now with soft whimpers or low moans which places made him squirm. He felt her bare arms wrap around his shoulders and cursed the stiff leather of his vest and the silk of his shirt which kept him from feeling her skin against his. She was all but naked beneath him, clean and slightly wet and warm, ever-so-warm it made his mind spin. His hands fluttered around her form, eager to touch but hesitant to do so at the same time. He let out the most disgraceful little "eep" when Belle herself took his hands and placed them over her shoulders.

"It's okay to touch," she whispered, brave and bold in spite of the pink tinge on her cheeks that gave away her embarrassment "I want you to touch me."

He couldn't rip the linen off of her fast enough after those words, his talons tearing at the fabric with incredible ease. It took seconds for him to have her completely bare and the sight of her gave him pause. Up close she was even more exquisite, all gentle curves and smooth skin. Her breasts looked to be just the right size for his hands and he tested the theory out, reverently cupping one, his thumb flicking over the rosy nipple, eliciting a surprised moan from her. How could he ever have thought she was a boy? He'd never seen anyone look more womanly, and he'd been around for over three hundred years.

"I'm a fool not to have seen," he told her, bending down to drag his tongue across the length of her throat, committing the taste of her skin to memory. She sighed encouragingly, her breath hitching when he gently rolled her right nipple between his thumb and forefinger, applying just the right amount of pressure to enhance her pleasure with a little pain "All I've been able to think about for months is you, memorizing your smell, looking for an excuse to touch, to lean close, to kiss. And yet I was so blind."

His voice acquired a broken sort of tone, prompting Belle to lean up and kiss his forehead, then his eyelids and then his lips, trying to distract him away from whatever was bothering him. Her fingers tangled on the buttons of his vest, clumsily undoing them. He shrugged it off as soon as he could, allowing his magic to dissolve his gold shirt, feeling like he'd die if there wasn't skin-to-skin contact soon. The moment his torso was bare he pressed himself against her, careful not to crush her. He fought the urge to thrust against her core, wanting to go slow with her, to let her enjoy it. She was a virgin, he could smell her purity clearly and as eager and trusting as she was he still didn't want to do anything to scare her away.

At some point between burying his face in her hair and gently nibbling at her ear he noticed the wet grass beneath them. He might be a monster but he was not about to take her on a meadow like an animal. Grabbing her firmly by the waist he let their magic envelop them till they were lying in the dark sheets of his bed, the warm glow of the fire turning Belle's skin almost golden. she gasped in surprise, wrapping herself around him, fear clouding her features till he clutched her close and soothingly told her where they were. She'd never been allowed into her room and so it was one of the few rooms in the castle she had never seen.

"A bit of warning would be nice next time," she chided softly before letting her hands roam his chest and back, relishing in the slightly textured feel of his skin.

"Next time?"

The utter awe with which he pronounced those words disarmed her. For all his theatrics and flamboyance Rumplestiltskin was still a fragile soul, full of self-loathing and insecurities. Belle decided she wouldn't stand for doubts and second-guesses where she was concerned. She'd need to show him that she wasn't going to leave him, or pull away. She dragged him down to kiss him thoroughly, delving deep inside his mouth to draw as many sighs and whimpers as she could. Gathering up her courage she wrapped her legs around his waist, a jolt going through her when she felt the evidence of his arousal against her centre. She was both scared and eager, trying to concentrate on what she felt instead of thinking too much. It helped a lot when Rumple's attention went back to her breasts, palming one while bending over to suckle on the other. Electricity shot through her, more powerful than anything else she'd ever felt and he hummed, insanely proud of how she arched in his arms in response. He dragged his nails gently down her ribcage, trying to stimulate as many nerve-endings at once as he possibly could, wanting desperately to make it good for her. It prodded him to let go of her breast and kiss his way down her smooth stomach, noticing with a frown a few angry red marks curtsey of the bandages with which she had hidden her chest. She kissed those lines, let his tongue playfully explore her navel and then carefully, reverently, nudged his nose against her curls, trying not to be obvious as he inhaled deeply. Though Belle made no move to stop him he could feel her tense up when his hands settled on her thighs, keeping her legs open.

"Shh, it's okay, darling, this will feel good. I promise."

He kissed her left upper thigh first and then her right, dragging his mouth upwards slowly. When his mouth finally reached her core he bit down a whimper and forced himself to start small, dragging his tongue against her folds but not letting it go deeper yet. He continued like that till he felt a sort of anticipation replace Belle's nervousness, daring then to part her lips and explore further, ecstatic to find her wetter than he could've ever hoped for. He reached her clit easily, teasing the area around it mercilessly till she was panting and clutching at his hair, clearly eager for him to do something but not knowing what that something was. When she yanked at his hair forcefully he finally relented, letting his teeth nip at her softly. She came undone seconds later with a breathless little cry and he held her close as she rode her orgasm, stroking her stomach and nuzzling her hipbone to soothe her.

For a moment he thought about letting her curl up against him and go to sleep, terrified of pushing her too far. Belle, however, would have none of it, plucking at the fastenings of his breeches the moment she managed to catch her breath.

"How do you even get into those pants?" she wondered aloud "Not to mention those boots. I'll never be able to get those off of you."

It was the dismay in her voice what prompted him to flick his hand over his legs, making the offending leather dissolve into nothing. He forced himself not to squirm as his pretty little Belle took a good look at him, her eyes widening a fraction as she caught sight of his erect cock. He hoped her innocence meant she had nothing to compare him with, though he wouldn't put it past her to have read anatomy books. Her eyes were a lovely mixture of curiosity and shyness and as much as he looked for hints of revulsion they just weren't there. She surprised him by reaching out to run a finger down his hipbone, close enough to his crotch to make him jolt.

"Your skin is fascinating," Belle murmured, eyes riveted on him "It changes colours according to your mood. I think this shade is the one I like best."

He couldn't not kiss her after a comment like that and the act served to calm him down, to reassure him of her affections. Slowly he lay her down on the bed again, positioning himself between her legs. He wished to use his magic to make sure she would feel no pain during penetration, but the bracelet wouldn't allow it.

"This might hurt, dear one."

She nodded, obviously aware of the trappings of virginity.

"Make it quick."

He did as she wished, plunging inside of her in one smooth stroke. It was sheer heaven being inside her, wet, warm and tight in a way he had never experienced before. As the Dark One he had, from time to time, disguised himself and gone to brothels or disreputable taverns, but Belle seemed to erase all previous sexual encounters from his mind. Nothing had ever felt like this, like coming home. For a moment he couldn't move, wishing to just live in that moment forever. It was Belle the one who wiggled and wrapped her legs around him, digging the heels of her feet into his lower back to get him to move.

He tried to keep the rhythm slow and steady, gauging by the sounds she made what she liked and what she didn't. He soon threw slow and steady out the window, unable to keep himself from going deeper and thrusting faster and faster as a delicious pressure built up inside him. The fact that Belle seemed to moan and writhe all the more gave him all the encouragement he needed and soon he was mercilessly plunging in and out of her, making the bed rattle. Feeling himself close to release he forced himself to concentrate, kneading one breast, letting his talon-like nails gently scrape against the sensitive skin there and mouthed the other, tugging on a nipple gently with his teeth. Belle's voice hoarsely called his name as she climaxed, her muscles tightening around his cock and he came soon after, feeling like every part of him was full of her.

It took him a while to come down from his high but as soon as he recovered some of his wits he let himself fall beside her on the mattress, making a distressed little sound when he slipped from her. He kissed her temple, stroking her hair and encouraging her to close her eyes and sleep. His eyes briefly flickered towards her right hand, noticing that the bracelet had turned black, as if it had burned itself out. True love was a powerful magic and he'd need to make a lot of bracelets if they planned on kissing often, which he hoped would be the case.

He'd need to tell her about that, and about his son, and the curse. They'd have no more secrets between them, not if he planned to keep her by his side always, which was the case. He spooned against her back, letting his magic drape the sheets over them and closed his eyes, nipping gently at the nape of her neck before letting sleep overcome him.

There would be time to talk in the morning.