The box he put in front of her was plain cardboard and didn’t have a lid. It had a bow, though, a large blue thing stuck onto one side just above the ‘Happy Birthday’ written in his most elegant script.
Belle smiled at him as she set down her tea. ”You’re going to spoil me, Rumpelstiltskin. You already gave me a bracelet and breakfast in bed.”
"It’s one of my greatest joys that I am able to spoil you, sweetheart. Go on," he gestured at the box with both hands, his cane leaning against the edge of the sofa. "You can’t leave them in their for long."
"Them?" Belle peeked over the edge of the box, her lips parting as a soft gasp escaped. "Oh Rum."
"I only meant to pick up the one, but when they showed me the cats at the shelter they explained that the one cat was in isolation. Apparently it fought anyone that tried to get near to the wee little duckling. Daft thing," he muttered with a shake of his head. Belle was not fooled. She also understood the scratch on his hand that he’d brushed away explaining earlier.
"They’re perfect." Carefully she reached down into the box, holding out her hand to be sniffed. "Those other cats were being mean, weren’t they my brave darling? You were just looking out for your special friend."
She cooed and hummed, and after a few minutes the cat relaxed enough to be picked up. Belle was careful to keep the cat and duckling close as she transferred them into her lap. The fluffy little duckling was a curious thing, and walked up and down her leg. The cat watched every movement carefully.
"You didn’t ask, but since you can’t walk past an animal without saying hello, and the Cricket’s spotted shadow keeps trying to follow you home I thought…"
"I did, Rum. They’re the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten." Moving carefully so she didn’t disturb the animals, Belle leaned over and kissed the corner of his mouth. "Thank you."
"Happy birthday, my Belle."