Author's Note: Welcome to an edited and improved Books and Islands 2.0! I've gone through the story and fixed grammar problems/updated some content. I hope you all enjoy!
"What is it?"
The wanted thief known as Flynn Rider hesitantly took a step towards to the frozen, newly-turned 18 year old. Throughout their first few hours in the festival that Rapunzel had blackmailed him to get him to take her to, she had been ecstatic. The young woman had been bouncing to stall after stall, looking at all the things offered for sale and babbling about how amazing they all were.
But suddenly, she had stopped.
For a few seconds, he had walked on ahead figuring that she had just stopped to admire something else, but she hadn't moved. A strange feeling hit him in the pit of his stomach—something that he only experienced when he had been caught in a few sticky situations with palace guards. Was the greatest thief ever—was Flynn Rider –actually worried over some girl? Without answering himself, he quickly approached her side to see what she was looking at.
"Why are there so many books in there?" Rapunzel asked in a soft voice, almost as if she were afraid to disturb the scene before her. Flynn—or Eugene he supposed since Flynn didn't really try to show too much emotion—let out a sigh of relief.
"Is that why you stopped?" The thief questioned and the girl nodded slowly, still entranced with the sight before her. "Every year, the King and Queen let the public read their private collection of books." Flynn wondered why books would interest Rapunzel so much. She obviously knew what they were and he doubted that even her crazy overprotective mother could keep them away.
"I've . . ." Rapunzel slowly walked up to the glass window which displayed only a fraction of the books. "I've never seen so many before." That explained it then, Flynn deduced. The sheer number of books that were housed here had overwhelmed her. For a few moments, he watched as she stared at the books piled before her. It seemed to him that she was almost memorizing every little detail of the sights before her. For a brief second, he thought about asking her if they could leave and go find something more interesting to do, but there was just something in her eyes—something that just told Eugene that they had to go in no matter what and Flynn would just have to wait patiently.
"Would you like to go in then?" He asked her as he held open the door. She jumped back a bit, startled either by the fact that he offered or that he was suddenly there—Flynn couldn't be certain—but with a small and hopeful smile, she nodded.
They stepped into the vacant house that had been quickly converted into a library of sorts. There was a spiral staircase that went up to the second floor where there were rows upon rows of books of all various sizes and colors. On the first floor, all the books were on tables and it didn't take long for Flynn to realize that these were the books that were hard to be moved—maps, dictionaries, various tomes of information, etc. Rapunzel turned back into a statue once they had entered the room and Eugene figured that she was just overwhelmed again. It was kind of cute, actually.
Not that the fearless Flynn Rider would ever admit it.
"So many," Rapunzel muttered as nervously stroked a strand of her hair. The tone of her voice caught his attention. His head spun around and he saw her. She seemed to be turning green and Flynn immediately sprung into action. "So many books." Gently wrapping one arm around her waist, he pulled out a chair and sat the girl down.
"Easy there Blondie," He muttered, gently pushing some of her golden hair out of her face. Her green eyes met his and for a brief second, everything seemed to go away. They were in a world where only they mattered—not his past, not her psycho mother—and for that one glorious second, he felt important. She was totally depending on him to get her through the festival and that made him feel important. No one had ever fully trusted him like she was doing right now.
Rapunzel trusted him completely.
That thought both thrilled him and panicked him. No one had ever fully relied on him before. He had never stayed too long in once place to form attachments anyways. What was the point? Sooner or later, people would betray you. It was a simple fact of life. But Rapunzel didn't know that. She had never experienced anything like betrayal or loss before. She was like a delicate flower that had been placed into his keeping—one false move could kill the flower. He had to make sure he didn't hurt her. With a start, Flynn realized he was going soft. He couldn't allow this girl to affect him so much. He had to focus on the job at hand—getting the tiara. That was all that mattered and that was why he was here right now. It was just a means to an end.
She seemed to recover immediately after sitting down and Flynn grinned. He hadn't been worried—he had just been a little bit concerned. After all, this girl still had his precious tiara held hostage. He needed to get it back so he could get the huge sum of money promised to him. Once he delivered the tiara and got his payment, he could do almost anything! He could go far away from this kingdom and start anew. He could give up thieving for a bit—just enough time to take a small vacation—and then, once he had used up all the money, he would go to another kingdom and begin again. But first, he needed the tiara and needed Rapunzel to go back to her . . .
An image of Rapunzel locked up in a tower filled his mind. Her face was contorted in pain, her eyes filled with sorrow. She would forever remain there and never again experience the world.
He blinked quickly and the image vanished. She was before him once more—pale, but with happiness dancing in her eyes. His voice betraying no hint of emotion, he asked:
"There. You alright?"
"Yeah," She answered, smiling radiantly up at him. "I guess I just got a little freaked out by how many books there were." He grinned and she stood up. He braced her just in case she swayed, but he was relieved—and a little bit disappointed—to see that she could walk by herself. Soon, her eyes began to light up just like they had when the two of them at first arrived at the festival.
"Wow!" She exclaimed happily as began to skip over to some of the books on a table nearby. Flipping through some of the colorful pages, the girl smiled and Flynn felt a little giddy himself. Watching her face was actually becoming more entertaining than anything the festival had to offer. The way her eyes would sparkle when she found something interesting and the way she just had an aura of happiness around her just astounded him. 18 years locked up in a tower and she was still this cheerful, this wonderful, and this . . . this perfect person.
She was perfect.
That was the only word Flynn could use to describe her. And it wasn't just about her looks, though those were perfect too. Her personality seemed flawless and he was feeling himself drawn more and more to her. She stirred something deep within him—the part of himself that he had buried when he had traded Eugene for Flynn Rider. She made him want to be something important—something more than a wanted thief. He wanted to make her proud of him. He wanted her to turn and praise him for something that he had done honestly. Sighing, he frowned slightly. If this kept up, he doubted he would be able to take her back to her tower.
"Eugene, look!" She pulled one of the books onto the floor and flipped opened its pages. Maps of the kingdom and maps of the world covered each page. She stopped suddenly and pointed to a spot in the sea where there was a small landmass there.
"What?" He asked her as her lips turned into a smile. He found himself sitting beside her.
"Your island," She muttered and for a second, he was lost. Island? What island? And then it hit him. When he had been forced to sing for his life about his dreams, he had wanted an island to own and be all alone on. Rapunzel had just found that island. "Mother once told me that she went here. She said it was very warm and the sand is very soft." She stopped and her eyes glazed over. It was clear she was an experiencing a painful memory as she bit her lip slightly and wrung her hands together. Desperate for her to smile again, he placed a hand on her shoulder.
"And?" He urged quietly.
"And she said I could never go there," She shut the book and carried it back to its table. Flynn stood and watched as the sparkle that had been dancing in her eyes all afternoon vanished. He felt disappointed and angry. How dare this woman do such a thing to Rapunzel? How could she lock up someone so wonderful like Rapunzel? What gave her the right?
"Rapunzel—" She closed the cover and smiled as she faced Flynn.
"But it would be the best place for you to have your island," She turned away and glanced around at the books. "I'm sure of that." He wanted to say that she could come with him, that she didn't have to go back, but he said nothing. Somehow, he knew that it was not his place to decide. The only one that could truly escape the tower's confines was Rapunzel. She had to make the decision to leave the environment that she was so accustomed to. She had to be strong enough to face the consequences of whatever choice she made. It wasn't his place to decide what she should do as much as it killed him to remain silent.
"Rapunzel," She met his gaze and he grinned a little bit. He offered her his hand. "Ready to go?" Her slim, silky hand slipped into his calloused one and she nods. Together, they walked out the door—hand in hand—and headed down the street. The festival was in full swing now and Flynn wondered what else Rapunzel would want to do. How could he make this the best day ever for her?
"Mother," He heard her whisper under her breath. "I can do this."
He pretended that he didn't hear what she said and as soon as the words roll off her tongue, she turned back into the normal, perky, insanely cheerful Rapunzel that he has begun to become attached to—despite all his common sense telling him otherwise. There's just one thing that is still bothering him. Could he let her go back and be locked up for the rest of her life? Could he allow himself to be parted from her? Would he even want to be?
"Eugene!" She yelled energetically. "Look at this!"
Time stopped for one moment and he memorized every detail of her-the way her eyes lit up, the way the sun illuminates her golden hair, how she looked like an angel with her radiant smile.
Could he let her go?
The answer was instantaneous.
Author's Note: I like this version much better! I hope you do too! Please review!