"Pascal, I think I've gone mad!" Rapunzel gasped out as she flung herself facedown on her bed. Pascal, slightly miffed that he had been dislodged from the pillow he had been sleeping on, chirruped in sympathy. She really didn't think it was fair to be cooped up in solitary confinement until she was feeling better. Although how her parents had even found out about her rendezvous in the rain she had no idea. Eugene on the other hand had muttered something that sounded suspiciously like, "the king sees all" in response to her impending lock up.
It seemed downright silly to have two guards posted outside her door at all times. It also made it impossible to slip out to see Eugene at night when the palace was sleeping. The first two days it had been easy enough for her to forget that she wasn't allowed to leave her room – she could barely drag her aching body out of bed to take a bath, let alone think about escaping. She had cringed in horror upon seeing the dark bags under her red-rimmed eyes in the mirror. So in her opinion, not leaving her room had turned out to be a good thing after all, because she would have been absolutely mortified if Eugene had seen her like this.
On the third day she had felt and, with the help of a little rouge, looked well enough to try and venture out to see Eugene. However upon opening the door to see two guards staring inquisitively down their noses at her, Rapunzel mumbled something about wanting soup and she was sent back inside to wait while they roused the cook. She felt just terrible when a half hour later the chef yawned and presented her with a steaming bowl, which didn't even compare to the wonderful soup Eugene had made her.
The fourth day Rapunzel heard Eugene inquiring about her health and had been absolutely infuriated when they turned him away. Unfortunately begging, pleading, and eventually pulling the princess card resulted in nothing more than a few snickers.
Now, on her fifth day of being locked in her room, she was absolutely positive that she was never going to leave. The tiny niggling feeling that had started in the pit of her stomach days ago was now turning into full blown panic. The walls, which had seemed so bright and cheerful when she had first moved in, brought her back to a place she never wanted to revisit. Pascal, sensing her mounting distress, crawled onto her shoulder and nuzzled her neck affectionately.
"I feel like I'm all alone again." Her voice cracked as the memories she had tried so hard to bury resurfaced. Mother brushing her hair as she was reprimanded for asking to go outside. Reading the same three books over and over again until she knew them cover to cover. All the lies and the secrets that she had been stupid not to notice before. Things that had she put two and two together sooner, she could have had years of her life back.
"Rapunzel? Hey, what are you doing?"
"Eu-Eugene?" She blinked in confusion at the large mahogany doors that were just inches away from her face. Funny, she didn't remember getting off her bed…Comforting hands gently took her by the shoulders and pulled her up and off her knees, spinning her around until she was staring at a familiar expanse of muscled chest.
"Are you alright?" His brows furrowed in concern, Eugene pulled her further into the room and away from the door. Dazed, she glanced over her shoulder where she had just been and then back at him.
"How did you get in?"
"Those guards have you locked up tighter than your crown. Lucky for you I'm skilled in the art of climbing towers, castles and such. Now, you mind telling me what you were doing over there?" He nodded his head in the general direction of the door he had found her kneeling in front of. Although he wouldn't admit it, it had shaken him up to see the utterly hopeless look on her face as she dug her nails into the door. Eugene, who had been planning his damsel's daring escape, hadn't been prepared for the forlorn look in her eyes.
"You climbed in? Eugene! That's dangerous!"
"Shh! Do you want them to throw me out?"
"Of course not! These past few days have just been horrible!" Rapunzel threw her hands up in frustration – a feeling Eugene had learned all too well these last few days. In his opinion the guards had taken their position a little too seriously. The girl had been locked in a tower for years and what do they do? Lock her in her room. All with good intentions he was sure, but that didn't really do much to ease the princess' frazzled nerves. It was like ripping a band-aid off a wound that hadn't completely healed yet.
"I had a feeling you were losing your mind in here. Which is why we are leaving."
"Leaving? Where are we going? How?" The skeptical look in her eyes contradicted the wide grin on her face.
"Thief." He quipped before taking her hand and tugging her towards the balcony. Rapunzel looked at the rope tied to the railing warily.
"It's perfectly safe. Watch." Eugene grinned and before she could blink, grabbed the rope and propelled himself over the side. The princess sucked in a startled breath and raced to peer over the side, chiding herself when she saw Eugene was already more than halfway to the ground. Max, she noted with a smile, was pawing eagerly at the ground – his back laden with various baskets and blankets that piqued her curiosity.
"You comin' Blondie?"
"I don't think this is such a good idea…" She bit her lip in uncertainty and glanced over her shoulder. Pascal had positioned himself in the middle of the doorway, motioning with his tail towards the rope. Rapunzel swallowed thickly as she crept closer to the edge. It's like your first time leaving the tower again, you can do this! Only without the safety net and security of her longer hair.
"Don't you trust me?" Eugene was waiting with his hands on his hips directly beneath the rope.
"If you fall, I'll catch you. Promise." He grinned cheekily and held his arms out. With a snort Rapunzel carefully climbed over the railing and clutched the rope in a white knuckled grip. Oddly enough she felt more uneasy than she had when she had been using her hair to get around. As she slowly eased herself down, she was surprised by the rush of adrenaline that had her heart thumping wildly against her ribcage. It was comparable only to her escape from the tower and Eugene's kisses – both of which did funny things to her insides.
"Almost there. Just a little further." He coached as she continued her descent, admiring the view of her behind as she wiggled her way down the rope.
"Princess!" The bellow, which sounded from somewhere within her bedroom, was so unexpected that Rapunzel's hands slipped from the rope with a shriek of surprise as she fell.
"Gotcha!" Eugene caught her easily within his arms, spinning her around towards Max without missing a beat. Unable to speak around her heart in her throat, Rapunzel glowered up at him, irate.
"I told you this was a bad idea. They'll never let me out again!" She groaned into his chest as she heard the frantic footfalls above them. No doubt whoever had come to check on her had heard her yelp.
"Y-your majesty! What are you-"
"I'll only be borrowing her for a couple of hours. Scout's honor." Eugene flashed his most charming grin as he set the princess down on her feet and grabbed the basket and blankets from Max's back.
"But she's supposed to be resting!" The maid's protests were ignored and she could only watch while the thief gave Rapunzel a boost up to sit astride the stallion.
"That is not the proper way for a lady to ride a horse!"
"Eugene…" She tugged self consciously at her dress, trying to untangle the fabric from around her thighs and pull it down over her knees.
"Don't listen to her, you ready?"
"Yes, but-" He didn't wait for her to finish the sentence, slapping Max twice on the rump (the stallion was not happy) to move him forward. Once away from the panicked shouting of her maid, Rapunzel took the time to eye Eugene carefully. He was awfully cheerful, whistling quietly as he walked alongside her and Max.
"Where are we going?"
"If I tell you, it won't be a surprise now will it?" He drawled lazily, eyeing the tantalizing view of her exposed legs from the corner of his eye. So what if the maid was right and this wasn't the proper way for a lady to sit. He was quite enjoying it.
"A surprise?" She blinked, perplexed.
"Yup. Now sit back and enjoy the change of scenery."
AN: Oh, what a blah ending! I struggled with this chapter and I'm not entirely sure why. First I intended it to be longer, but I've been so busy that I settled on cutting it off here so I can at least post something for you guys. I promise the next chapter will be better.
As always, thank you all for your wonderful feedback! Reviews are love!