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Fic: A Year From Now 3/6
Apple
jmetropolis
Title: A Year From Now
Authors: JMetropolis and Jane McAvoy
Fandom: Tangled
Characters & Pairings: Rapunzel and Flynn Rider/Eugene Fitzherbert
Rating & Warnings: T
Chapter Word Count: 5,845
Summary: A year from now, will you still remember me? Will you still choose me? Rapunzel travels to the kingdom on her own only to be discovered there by Gothel. Flynn saves her while trying to escape with the Lost Princess' crown, but will Rapunzel choose to stay and claim her birthright or go on the run with the wanted thief? Inspired by Tangled concept art.
AN: Written for the Tangled Big Bang writing challenge. Artwork for the story by Dinosaur Barbecue!






Chapter 3 - The Cave

She was depleted. It had taken every ounce of her strength to hoist him over the gondola, her hands tucked under each of his arms as she dragged his deadweight across the small beach. They’d only just made it to the edge of the forest, but her muscles already burned from exertion. Her back, her shoulders, her arms all ached as she let go of his torso. His body closed the short distance to the ground with a low thud. She rested her hands on her knees for a moment so she could catch her breath before straightening up out of the slumped over position she’d assumed when she’d been dragging him. She leaned her head back to stretch out her spine until she was almost concave before returning to her normal posture and to the matter at hand.

She brought a hand up to cup her chin and placed the other on her hip as she looked down at her charge. His laid there where she’d left him minutes earlier -- flat on his back atop a bed of leaves, his arm still keeping a tight grip on that satchel. He hadn’t assumed a particularly dignified countenance -- his mouth slightly agape, his thick eyebrows scrunched together as if he were in some distress. Even so, her breath couldn’t help but catch in the back of her throat as she looked at him for the first time in the morning light. It had been dark in the alley and although the sun was already out when she’d marooned the gondola she’d had her hands full and her mind occupied. But now, she couldn’t help admiring his --

“Huh,” she gasped sharply when she heard a horse whinny in the distance and it was enough to bring her back to reality, to their present dilemma.

She knew she had to wake him and quickly. She couldn’t make it further inland without his help.

“Flynn?” He didn’t stir. She felt awful waking him -- if his face hadn’t told her of his pain, his labored breathing would have -- but they were running out of time and if she didn’t do something drastic the guards would catch up with them.

She ran back to the gondola and was surprised to see that despite all her efforts, they’d covered little distance. She grabbed her water casket and her now empty travel sack from the hull of the gondola and threw both items over her shoulder. She reached out for the cloak but hesitated. As she ran back towards the forest she told herself that she’d left it behind because Flynn was in danger and she needed to get back to him right away. She told herself that she’d left it behind because she needed to travel light and that she’d return for it once they found shelter.

Rapunzel dropped to her knees as soon as she reached Flynn. He was exactly where she’d left him. She quickly pulled the cork off the casket and poured half its contents onto his face.

He coughed and sputtered as his eyes popped open and his arms shot up protectively over his face.

“What the hell Rapunzel, were you trying to drown me?” He tried hard to keep a scowl on his face in between coughs as he sat up.

She ignored his question and proceeded to place her shoulder under his arm, prompting him to stand up.

 

***


“It’s over there!” She pointed out the way before turning around to look at him. Flynn had propped himself up against a rock several feet behind her. He was trying to keep himself from falling over as he caught his breath in between grunts. She walked back and grabbed Flynn by the hand and led him toward a thicket of ivy vines.

Flynn hesitated, “Where? There’s nothing over there except a bunch of vines.”

“I’m sure of it. Come on.” She pulled Flynn along, gaining momentum, as he braced himself for what appeared to be the wall of a mountain. As they approached, she parted the entrance of the vines and despite his protests they ran head long into the cave.

Panting heavily they both took a few moments to catch their breath when Rapunzel noticed Flynn’s face grimacing in pain. He was grabbing his injured thigh. Her eyes quickly flew to his wound and took in the blood stain that had grown larger. Her hands instinctively reached over and peeled back the torn fabric of his pants, eliciting a groan from him as he threw his head back against the wall of rocks.

She crouched down to get a better look at his leg. Even under the few rays of light that made their way through the curtain of ivy, she could see the cut was much deeper than she had initially realized. She looked back up at his still contorted, still beautiful face, amazed that he had walked this far with an injury of that size.

Rapunzel assessed the situation. She no longer had her hair to heal him, but she knew how to clean wounds from all the medical books she had read in her tower. She reached for the water casket that was still hanging over her shoulder and poured the remaining water onto his leg, gently but quickly cleansing his wound. He cried out and grimaced in pain as the water came in contact with his broken skin.

“Sorry, I’ll be quick,” she assured him.

Ripping off a long strip of green fabric from the hem of her dress, she tied it around his thigh covering up the wound and trying to stop the loss of blood.

In the distance, they heard the sounds of horses neighing and the shouting voices of the guards who were still in pursuit.

Flynn quickly grabbed her by her elbows and moved them both towards the back of the cave, into darker recesses where even the sun’s rays could not reach. They collapsed on the floor next to each other. As they heard footsteps approaching closer and closer to the cave entrance, she felt herself shaking uncontrollably from fear. Flynn reached out and put an arm around her shoulder, pulling her onto his chest, and giving her a comforting ‘”shush” under his breath. He wrapped his other arm around her to further quell her shaking form, and ducked his head as he buried his cheek in her hair. She felt his warm breath against her temple and heard his heartbeat pounding in his chest. Her breath hitched when she heard the rustling of the vines at the entrance of the cave. She felt Flynn release her. He crouched up in front of her and with his arm, he reached back pushing her further behind him. She felt his entire body tensing as if preparing himself to attack if the guards were to enter the cave.

To her relief, the sound of the approaching footsteps stopped. “There’s nothing here. It’s just a dead end. Come on, let’s turn around.”

They lay silent and motionless on the floor of the cave until the echo of galloping horses grew softer and softer and disappeared completely.

Rapunzel shifted gently when she felt Flynn’s arms reach back for her, pulling her against him as he scooted back resting his head against the wall. She placed her head on his chest until she heard his heartbeat slow down and he began to breathe evenly. She wasn’t sure how long they remained liked this before she realized he’d already drifted off to sleep. She felt her own eyelids grow heavy, and exhaustion finally took over as she joined him in slumber.

***


Rapunzel woke up with a start. She felt someone’s hot breath on the back of her neck, her head was resting on someone else’s arm and its companion was draped heavily across the side of her body. She was struck by fear for a moment until she remembered where she was. She lifted his arm out of the way so she could turn and face him.

He was still asleep and she noted that for the first time since she had met him, he looked peaceful. She smiled at him as she pushed back strands of sweat matted hair off his forehead. He felt hot against her fingertips and it instantly drew her attention back to his injured leg. She scooted down his body to remove the impromptu tourniquet from his leg. Although it was now more red than green, it had done its job; it had stopped the bleeding. Rapunzel breathed a momentary sigh of relief, but she knew that wasn’t all she had to worry about and that he wasn’t quite in the clear. She palmed the floor of the dark cave, locating her discarded sack and casket before heading out.

***


She knew exactly what she was looking for: myrrh, oak and yarrow to stave off infection, chickweed, licorice root and willow to reduce inflammation, rosemary to improve circulation and witch hazel to use as an astringent.

She carefully placed these herbs into her sack, selected two well-shaped rocks to use as a mortar and pestle and refilled her casket in the nearby river before making her way back to the cave.

To her relief, Flynn was still asleep when she got back. She’d worried that he would wake up and think she had abandoned him and she couldn’t exactly leave him a note so she tried to rush back as quickly as possible.


It was too dark inside the cave to distinguish the different herbs and it would probably be too noisy and there might even be an echo if she started grinding and crushing them there. She really didn’t want to wake up Flynn so she decided to work outside the cave.

She separated the different herbs into groups on the ground as she removed them from her sack. From memory, she was able to mix and crush them. With a small amount of water, she made a balm of the myrrh, oak and yarrow. She had nowhere to store the balm and she needed the mortar to mix the next set of ingredients so she decided to administer the mixture to the patient as she went along.

“Ouch! Rapunzel, that stings. What the hell is that? ”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you. Just got back to sleep,” she apologized.

She was done mixing the next set of ingredients half an hour later.

“Would you stop waking me up like this. Ugh! You have got to be kidding me. This one smells like --”

“We’re almost done! I promise.”

She muttered under her breath as she mixed the witch hazel and the rosemary together. Her medical books had not called for this shortcut and she wasn’t sure if combining the two would affect their efficacy, but then again her medical books had also failed to provide instructions on how to deal with unruly patients and she was pretty sure neither she nor Flynn could take much more of this.

***

At nightfall, Flynn was able to start a fire from the tree branches and brushwood she had collected and brought back to their makeshift campsite.

She sat near the fire removing from her sack the nuts she had gathered and placing them on her mortar-shaped rock, leaving behind only the wild grapes and berries she had picked on her second, or maybe her third trip to the forest that day. Rapunzel had once again relied on the knowledge she had gained from her books, this time a botany book, to distinguish the edible berries from the poisonous ones while foraging through the forest.

She cracked the nuts with her pestle and discarded the shells, before pushing the mortar towards the fire to roast the nuts.

Flynn sat a few feet behind her atop a fallen log, brooding. He had slept most of the day for which Rapunzel was grateful because he had been unpleasant and moody the few times she’d had to wake him. His arms were now folded over his chest and he was still sporting a scowl. He had expressed reservations earlier about eating the berries. Rapunzel had taken offense and had responded that if he didn’t want any, she would eat them all herself.

He eyed her with suspicion as he reached down into the sack and tasted each type of berry. He had insisted on being the first to try them, just in case her memory was faulty and she had picked the wrong kind. She wasn’t sure if he was being chivalrous or if he was hoping to end his ordeal early. He had been rather grumpy ever since she had given him his medicines.

When Flynn did not keel over and die, he pushed the sack of non-poisonous berries over towards her side of the log while she removed the now red hot mortar from the fire with a stick. The nuts were lightly scorched but she thought she had done a good job considering her primitive cookware. It would’ve seemed silly then, but she wished she had packed her trusty frying pan.

They ate their meal in relative silence. She could hear the cackling of the fire, the sound of crickets, what she could only hope was an owl hooting in the distance, but the only person in her midst remained quiet.

She glanced over at him with the corner of her eye. He had finished eating and had resumed his prior posture, arms crossed, his face in a grimace. She could tell his leg was bothering him. She decided to distract him from his leg with a bit of light after dinner conversation.

“So Flynn, where are you from?” She said, smiling expectantly at him.

“Huh?” He sounded surprised and she realized then that she had interrupted his thoughts, but she couldn’t bring herself to regret it, she was eager for some company.

“Sorry, babe. I don’t do backstory.” It was a perfunctory statement, one he appeared to have given many times before.

He had shot her down and Rapunzel deflated as she let go of the breath she was holding. He must’ve noticed because his whole demeanor suddenly changed.

So! Haven’t seen you before. What brings you to Corona?” He spoke rapidly and in a light, cheerful tone she couldn’t reconcile with his disposition just a few moments ago. It felt forced and unnatural like the smile he had just sprouted. She supposed he was trying to make amends for his bristly retort, so she didn’t press the matter further and answered his question.

“I came to see the floating lights.”

“You mean the lantern thing they do for the princess?” He sounded bored.

“Yes!” In contrast to his lackluster response, Rapunzel could feel her excitement bubbling up inside her.

“Oh, I see. So when your mother found out you were missing, she went looking for you.”

“Um . . .,” Rapunzel grew quiet now. She wasn’t sure how much she should tell him but now that her magic hair was gone, she reasoned there was really no harm in sharing a little bit about herself with him. “. . . That woman, the one you saw in the alley . . . she wasn’t my real mother.”

“Stepmother?”

“No, not exactly. See, up until yesterday I thought she was my mother . . . but then I found out that she had kidnapped me as a baby.”

She glanced up at Flynn who responded by raising his eyebrows and dropping his jaw. She ran her fingers through her choppy hair before continuing.

“That’s not all . . . the reason she kidnapped me was because I have, because I had,” she quickly corrected herself, “magic hair that would’ve kept her young forever. She raised me in a tower and told me that a gift like mine needed to be protected. It had to stay hidden. So I . . . so I never --”

“So you never left that tower?” He said still gaping at her.

Rapunzel nodded as she hid her face in her hands. Now that she had said it out loud to someone the whole situation seemed really messed up and she felt stupid and embarrassed for believing the lies for all those years. She peeked up at him through the gaps in her fingers and noticed the strange way he was now looking at her. She wasn’t sure if it was pity or compassion but whatever his intentions, it only served to amplify her feelings of shame.

She felt his hand on her back and she started to cry.

“It’s okay,” he shushed her, leaning in to whisper in her ear, “You don’t have to go back if you don’t want to. She won’t hurt you anymore. I won’t let her. I promise.”

He pulled her into his arms and stroked her hair as she sobbed into his neck.

“That’s not it,” she said, rubbing her nose against the collar of his shirt before she realized what she was doing. Rapunzel was about to apologize for her rude gesture; she had expected him to recoil, but instead, he tightened his embrace. After a moment she pulled away from him and started talking again.

“I didn’t mean to do it,” she continued in between sobs, “I was angry with her and she had just hurt you for no reason. I knew she only wanted me for my hair so I took the dagger she had just stabbed you with and cut it all off. I had intended to give her the braid, since that was all she had ever wanted, and then she would leave us alone and I could get help for you. I didn’t know that it would . . . I didn’t know that she would turn to ash, Flynn. I didn’t know all that I’d have left of her was her cloak.”

***


The log he was sitting on had grown uncomfortable and he could feel the sweat starting to accumulate on the back of his neck. Maybe it was because he was sitting too close to the fire, or maybe it was because he was starting to feel like a heel. That knot in his stomach felt an awful lot like regret. He had been so short with her earlier. That answer, that cookie cutter answer he gave everyone who was too nosy to mind their own business and tried to pry into his life, well . . . she hadn’t deserved that. It didn’t apply to her. Why was he mad at her in the first place? It wasn’t her fault he wasn’t lying under a palm tree and drinking out of a coconut right now. She didn’t stab him. She hadn’t even asked him to intervene. And now that he knew her story, well, there was no doubt in his mind that he would do it all over again. She had been so nice to him. She had helped him. Hell, she had saved his life. And it turned out she had been through a lot -- more than he would have guessed, more than her relentless cheerfulness and boundless enthusiasm would have suggested. She had trusted him by revealing the unimaginable truth about her so-called mother, the least he could do was be honest with her.

***


“. . . It’s Eugene, actually,”

“What?”

“My real name is Eugene Fitzherbert.”

She wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that so she remained quiet.

“There was this book, The Adventures of Flynnigan Rider. Swashbuckling rogue,” he gestured as if he had a sword in his hand, “richest man alive -- ”

“Did you always want to be like him?” She scooted closer to him on the log.

“Well, no.” He grew quiet as he leaned forward staring at the fire again, his hands coming down to rest on his knees, mindful of his wound.

“I wanted to be a sailor, a sea captain, actually. I wanted to run my own ship, just like. . . just like my father.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“My father traveled all over the world bringing back spices. I idolized him and I missed him terribly when he was gone. Sometimes, on short day trips, he would take me with him, he would let me wear his hat and he would even let me take the helm. Well, he didn’t really let me steer the ship. I couldn’t see past the wheel, but he would let me pretend.” He chuckled as he glanced back at her and smiled for just a moment before returning his attention to the fire. It was enough to make her heart flutter.

“On his last voyage,” he sighed, his voice turning somber, “he brought back . . . he fell ill shortly after he returned. My mother was devastated. She tended to him morning, noon, and night and then she caught whatever he had and then . . . then they were both gone and it was just me. I was angry. For a really long time I was angry. It’s stupid I know. But I was a stupid kid back then and I no longer wanted to be like him. I hated him. I felt like it was his fault that I had lost both of them . . .The nuns at the orphanage gave me the book as a way to cheer me up, to keep my mind off things and keep me out of trouble, but I saw it as my way out . . . For a kid, with nothing, it just seemed like a better option.”

“I’m so sorry Eugene,” she started to say as she put a comforting hand on his shoulder. He stiffened uncomfortably before shifting slightly away from her.

“. . . Wait, that cloak that you made me put on, that was her cloak? Ugh! Creepy.” Rapunzel pulled back and glared at him. He put his hands up defensively, “Right, right. Cloak’s not important, got it.”

***


Rapunzel woke up before Eugene the next morning. She grabbed her sack and her casket and headed back out to gather water and herbs for his medicine. When she returned, he was already awake and had started to kindle a fire.

“Eugene, give me your pants.” She declared, holding her hand out.

“Okay babe, but shouldn’t you buy me a drink first?” he smirked.

“Eugene, I’m serious. I need to wash them.They’ve got dried blood and dirt and bits of medicine. They’re absolutely filthy.”

“You don’t have to ask me twice,” he said giving her a strange face that made him look like he’d eaten a sour batch of berries.

He stood up and slowly stepped out of his boots, removing his belts, before turning his attention to the metal clasps on his vest and pulling his formerly white shirt up from inside his pants. He handed her each article of clothing as he shed them.

The whole thing seemed strangely choreographed to her. Like he wasn’t just taking off his clothes, he was putting on a show for her. She stood there dumbstruck, her gaze captured between the flat planes of his bare chest and the carved ridges of his stomach. He hooked his fingers on the waistband of his pants when she finally found her wits and lost her nerve.

“Wait! On second thought. You could use some washing up too. Just, just keep them on.”

He seemed disappointed and she laughed nervously as she shook her head trying to clear her thoughts and hoping the blush on her cheeks would quickly subside.


They made their way to the river. She walked a few feet ahead of him, finding it hard to maintain the slow pace. Her legs were twitching. Now that she was no longer confined to the walls of the tower, she wanted to run everywhere and for the past few days she had but she was with company now and she felt it was rude to leave him too far behind, although he didn’t seem to mind walking behind her.

It was the first time he had ventured this far out of the cave and he seemed to be taking it all in: the fresh air, the trees, the view ahead, the view from behind.

She glanced back and caught him staring at her, but his eyes weren’t exactly level with her head, or her back. He quickly redirected his gaze upwards to meet her eyes and gave her a boyish grin that was entirely too innocent. “Come on, gimpy, we’re almost there,” she called over her shoulder.

The river was cold and clear. She could see the smooth rocks and slimy moss along the riverbed. It was the same river she had walked up to several times a day to fill up her casket but now that he was with her the water seemed friendlier and more inviting. She climbed up on one of the flat, dry rocks that jutted out of the water. It was large enough for her to lay on her stomach and reach down into the riverbed to pick up a stone, disrupting the earth and clouding the water beneath her. She’d taken his shirt with her, intending to pummel it clean against the rocks.

She heard a splash and looked up to see him kicking about in the deeper part of the river where the water was the color of a moonless night and she couldn’t see the ground below. It made her nervous.

“Come on in, Rapunzel,” he called out to her, opening his mouth wide and tugging on one of his ears, “the water’s great.”

She got up on the rock but lost her courage.“I can’t swim,” she called back to him. She stared at her feet, shifting her weight and feeling a bit disappointed.

He swam towards her and when his feet could reach the ground, he stood up and walked the rest of the way.

“Sorry, I forgot about the tow-- . . . come on, I’ll show you,” he said putting an arm behind her knees and the other securely around her waist before picking her up. She giggled when cool beads of water rolled off of him and fell onto her skin. She felt strangely tempted to lick a droplet that clung precariously to his earlobe. She wasn’t sure where that thought had come from but she talked herself out of it. She was fairly certain Eugene wouldn’t like it if she licked his ear. He might even freak out and think she was odd. Instead, she placed her arms around his neck, leaving his shirt behind on the rock.

He stayed where his feet could still touch the sediment because she had asked him to as she clung to his shoulders.

“The first step is learning to put your head underwater,” he told her. “You’ll have to hold your breath. Ready?”

Rapunzel held her breath, puffing her cheeks out. Eugene chuckled and smiled at her which made her laugh and release the breath she was holding into a sputter.

“Okay. Let’s try that again,” he said encouragingly.

Rapunzel sucked in air and tried lowering her face down into the water but when her chin got wet she lost her nerve. She had held her breath lots of times in the tower. It was one of those solitary games she could play alone, challenging herself to see how long she could hold it. She was very good at it, it was the underwater part that made her nervous.

She smiled up at him bashfully. “Oh, come on, it's easy. You can do it,” he responded.

Rapunzel shook her head.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of, I’ve got you,” he promised.

This time she ducked her head quickly and opened her eyes in wonder. She forgot where she was for a moment as she stared at the fishes and the strange new plant life that grew at the bottom of the river. The colors were brighter from this perspective, she noted. She felt a pair of strong hands tighten around her, pulling her out before she was ready to come back up for air.

“Alright. I think that’s enough practice for one day,” he told her, keeping his grip around her. Rapunzel’s heart was pounding hard from holding her breath underwater but she was surprised to feel that Eugene’s heart was pounding hard too.

He gently placed her back on the rock next to his shirt and whether it was intentional or not, he faintly brushed his lips against the side of her cheek before grabbing her sack and heading back into the depths of the river. He used the sack as a net and Rapunzel was delighted when he came back with two small fishes. He tried to explain to her that he needed a fishing pole and a hook, but she was already impressed with what she perceived to be an extraordinary catch.

On their way back from the river, he helped her collect berries, nuts and herbs to season the fish. This time they also found wild mushrooms. Rapunzel eyed them carefully before declaring that they were safe to eat. They filled up her sack and now that he was with her, he carried it for her.

They walked and talked all day in the sun and by the time they made it back to their campsite, the clothes on their backs were already dry.

He left her alone to collect firewood and she began to sort the various nuts, plants, berries and mushrooms for their feast. She smiled to herself in contentment. It was the first time they had done something leisurely together and she’d had fun. She had discovered that she enjoyed his company and that he was pleasant to be around when he wasn’t being a grump. She could tell he was feeling better too. She had checked on his wound earlier and although it had only been a few days, there was no sign of infection.


When he returned, he started the fire and took over the task of roasting the nuts and now the mushrooms and the fish. It was such an overabundance of food that Rapunzel saved the berries for dessert instead of the main course.

After dinner they talked by the fire. They both leaned against the log as they sat next to each other on the ground. He told her of his adventures and about the crown heist and she relayed to him the different ways she had kept herself entertained in the tower. She noticed that he was a good storyteller and a good listener, that he had made her laugh, that his eyes were honest and warm, like burnt honey and there was something about his worldliness that captivated her. She found herself drawn to him like a firefly to a flame and the way he looked at her made her avert her eyes and smile. She realized she liked him and she sensed that he might feel the same way about her too.

By nightfall, she rested her head on his shoulder, against his newly clean, crisp white shirt that smelled of river water, since they had no soap, but which she inexplicably now found alluring and intoxicating nonetheless. She stroked the hair on the back of his head and he leaned slightly into her palm telling her that that was how his mother would get him to fall asleep as a small child.

When it was time to turn in, he poured sand over the dying embers and took her hand as they made their way into their cave.

The night before, they had slept huddled together because it was cold outside and it was too risky to fall asleep in front of the fire, the guards might still be searching for him, but tonight she was looking forward to falling asleep in his arms.

It didn’t take long for her to work up the courage to kiss him. She had never kissed a man before, but after some hesitation, she started to feel confident she was doing it correctly. Other than his initial surprised gasp, she hadn’t heard any complaints and he was returning her kisses, placing a hand behind her head for support and gently parting her lips with his tongue. She was fairly certain she was doing a good job as she ran her fingers through his smooth, thick hair and his other hand began to trace the silhouette of her dress, lingering at the seams on her back where her bodice came together. She rolled back, pulling him on top of her and though he was mostly supporting himself on his forearms, which now rested on either side of her body, she could still feel some of his weight pressing down on her leg causing her mind to wander back to her medical books. She felt a shiver of nervous anticipation and excitement as she increased the fervor of her encouraging kisses, armed with the knowledge that she had done everything right.

***


Eugene’s head was spinning. She had kissed him. She had actually kissed him and it wasn’t just one kiss. It was a barrage of kisses; he didn’t stand a chance. They were frantic and urgent and clumsy, but they were also passionate and heated and they were driving him wild. He hadn’t kissed like this, he hadn’t been kissed like this since . . . since he was a teenager and then he realized that one of them was still a teenager. A teenager who up until a few days ago had been unknowingly locked away in a tower. A teenager who had just started figuring things out.

It was a sobering thought. It was enough to dampen his enthusiasm. Ah hell, who was he kidding, he might as well have jumped headfirst in the cold river. It would’ve had the same numbing effect. Still, he tried to be discreet about it, employing a deliberately slow and gradual retreat because he didn’t want to hurt her feelings. He didn’t want her to feel the sting of rejection, even though it was not painless on his part either. His body vehemently protested this about-face, punishing him for his sudden treachery.

“Eugene? Is something wrong?”

“No. Everything’s great,” he responded in a voice he did not recognize as his own, strained and higher than he would’ve liked. “It’s just that it’s getting late. We should, we should really get some sleep.” He mimicked a yawn hoping to cement the lie he had just planted.

He placed a chaste kiss on her forehead, before turning her around in his arms and tucking her under his chin. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to ignore the dull ache and the worrisome thought that despite his denial something was seriously wrong with him, and trying hard to stifle the implications behind his mutinous behavior.

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  • 1
I love the bit about the cloak and how Rapunzel tells herself all these things that aren't quite the real reason for her leaving it behind - and then the reveal is stunning. Also the herbal section is A+ :D

Yeah, I think Rapunzel would probably have conflicting feelings about her former "mother" even if everyone else could see her as the heartless witch she really was.

  • 1
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