AN: My third fanfic and my first Tangled one. I LOVED this movie, and hopefully, this will be the first of many Tangled fanfics. Any comments are welcomed, as are suggestions.
Disclaimer: I do not own Tangled or any of the characters. Disney does.
Flynn Rider had a reputation.
He was one of the best thieves in the kingdom, and probably the most charming and handsome of them all as well. His exploits were well known, from the time he first stole the candy jewels off one of the pastries during a festival when he was five, all the way up to the time of his last theft, the Great Crown Heist, or so his many fans had dubbed it. Yes, Flynn Rider had an excellent reputation.
If things continued as they were, he was going to lose it.
In all of his life as a thief, things had never gone so wrong. Of course, close calls were almost a legal requirement in the world on thieves and thugs, for without them, where would the story be? Plus, if you could claim you had almost dies a few times trying to get the wares, some sucker would believe the claim and sometimes offer a higher price, as "insurance fees."
Never once had things gone so bad, so quickly.
Though, in a way, it could have been expected. He had retired a few years ago and, drawn towards laziness by the fine castle living he found himself in, had not kept up with his thieving skills, due to the belief that he would never need them again. He had access to unlimited amounts of money, his room and board was provided for him, and all he had to do was be the prince. An easy enough job that had no room for sneaking and escape plans. So, he had put his old life of crime behind him, knowing he would never look back.
Oh how Fate loved to prove him wrong. In the most ironic ways too.
"Come on, Blondie. Hurry!" Pulling the young girl along, Flynn ducked to the side, forcing her into the alcove he had spotted. Pressing her to the back of the chink, Flynn wormed his way in after her, his large hand finding purchase over her mouth to stifle her heavy breathing. Praying to whatever deity was listening that they would remain lost, Flynn held his breath as the running guards tore past their shelter, cursing each other for losing site of the two of them.
As the sounds of the guards faded away, Flynn left out a shaky sigh of relief as he released her, though his hand was quickly caught up again by her own. Glancing behind him, Flynn could not help the stab of pain that lanced through his heart as he saw her slight frame shaking in the sliver of light that entered the crevice. Though whether it was from fear, pain, the cold or all three, Flynn could not tell.
Twisting so he was facing her, Flynn quickly took in the sight of the girl besides him. Her short brown hair was tangled and matted, while the thin nightgown that offered far too little protection from the winter nights' cold was torn up the side, a souvenir from when the guards had almost caught them at the beginning of the case. At some point she had lost her flimsy unsuitable-for-running slippers and while it allowed her to move better, Flynn could not help but feel sorry for her, for the stones beneath them were like ice. He would have gladly given her his own shoes, but the difference in their foot size would have just caused her to trip and hurt herself. However, glancing down, Flynn realized that it might have been far too late for that excuse. She was leaning heavily to her left, her right foot, red and swollen, just barely touching the ground. A pit of worry began to build up within his chest, but there was nothing he could do. At least, nothing he could do until they were safe.
The kingdom had finally fallen. For months they had been fighting a bloody war against one of their neighboring countries, a kingdom that would love nothing more than to get their hands on Blondie and force her to do their bidding, despite the many time they had been told that she no longer possessed the magic of the flower. What had started out as a small political debate had quickly escalated, forming the situation they were currently in now.
Of course, no one could have ever dreamed that things would end this way.
No matter how horrible the battles became, no matter how close to victory the enemy had been, the King and Queen had always been able to pull a tide-turning miracle out of thin air, driving back the enemy to the boarders. Time after time they had managed to complete this feat, so much so that, for many people, those who were not reminded one hundred percent of the time what was going on, no war existed. Life continued on as it always had and the people lived in oblivion.
But that had finally changed.
After holding off the enemy for almost a year, the troops had failed. The enemy had swept across the country, pillaging and killing as they went along, leaving no survivors. They had finally reached the castle, where the palace guards had put up a valiant front. And all to no avail. The guards had been over run, the King and Queen killed, and a man hunt set up to find and capture the Princess.
Like Hell he was going to let that happen.
Sticking his head out of the crevasse, Flynn let out a sigh of relief at the lack of guards. Minding her foot, he carefully led her out of their shelter, making his way slowly though the winding corridors of the castle, his eyes scouring each corner for guards, weapons, or any combination of the two that he could use. The sudden attack had forced him to choose between arming himself and getting her to safety. Obviously, he had chosen the latter, but what he would not give for a frying pan right about now.
Catching sight of a pair of guards at the end of the hallway, Flynn darted into the nearest room, pushing her in before him before pushing a chair against the door. Glancing around, Flynn felt a prick of disappointment at their surroundings, though he quickly shook it off at the possibilities. They would need supplies anyway if his plan was to work. What better place to steal some from then the palace food pantry?
"All right, Blondie. We need to gather as much food as we can now, for we have a long trip ahead of us. At the moment, the only thing I can think of to keep you safe is to get to the stables, steal some horses, and cross across the country to the mountains. There, if we haven't been captured or died a horrible death, we can cross into one of the countries that backed us in the war and ask for protection for you. Not my best plan, I'll admit, but it's the best I can think of."
Gazing at him in a daze, it took her a few moments to realize just what he had said and what it all meant. Shaking her head to clear it of its fog, her words began to pour out in an almost unintelligible mumble.
"But Mother and Father. We need to get them too. And Pas, we need to find him. There's no telling what they'll do. And we need to gather as many of the guards as we can and-"
Flynn cut her off before she could say much more, his heart aching for the girl before him. She was so young, so new to the world. She had no clue that there were no survivors. Hesitantly, he decided that a lie was better for the moment, at least until he could get her to someplace safe and explain. Then she could morn.
Flashing his most charming smile, Flynn took a step forward and embraced her, her body pressed against his as a comforting reminder of what he was doing. He would protect her, no matter the cost.
"Don't worry, Blondie. I'm sure Mom and Pops got out fine. The guards just needed to choose the people who needed the most protection. And obviously they chose wisely. They left you with me, didn't they? Plus, once we get you some cooking utensils, you'll be able to take the whole army yourself. And hey, don't worry. Once we get out to the stables, we can have Maxy help us find them. I think I saw your frog with him too."
"Chameleon," she shot back quickly, their common argument drawing the reply out from her without any thought on her part. However, a small smile had appeared on her face, so he considered his mission a success. Stepping back, Flynn grabbed some of the extra cheese cloths that had been left in the room, twisting and knotting them together. Stuffing some food into the bag he had made, Flynn's mind raced through a thousand different thoughts and plans that all ended in one giant question: After they reached the stables, how were they going to get out? The stables had to be guarded against escape, and even if they did manage to get one of the horses free, they would be shot through with arrows that moment they made their move.
Pushing the thought to the back of his mind for the moment, Flynn finished filling the bag before turning back to her, his hand reaching out towards hers.
"Come on, Blondie. It's time to go find a new dream." Staring at him, her new found resolve seemed to almost waver before she finally grabbed his hand, her eyes shining with trust and faith. He just hoped she had placed it in the right person.
Waiting for the sounds of the guards' slow footsteps to pass, Flynn breathed in deeply before exhaling slowly, forcing his pounding heart to slow until the roar in his ears had become silent. The sounds from out of the room echoed around him, the padded leather of the guards' boots magnified a hundred times by the adrenalin rushing through him. Creeping towards the door, he placed his eye against the key hole, the silvery moon casting an eerie glow on the floor through the bottom of the door. It reflected off the armor of the guards as they meandered past, checking each room thoroughly before moving on to the next. Behind him, she stiffened as the handle to their own sanctuary moved, freezing for a moment as it caught on the chair Flynn had barricaded it with, before becoming completely still, the guards giving it up for locked and moving on.
Counting slowly, Flynn reached forty before the sounds of the guards faded completely. Adding an extra count of ten, Flynn opened the door a crack, confirming with his eyes what he had been told by his ears, at the same time verifying their position in the castle. For once, it seemed that Fate had decided to agree with him. Leading the way, he quickly headed towards the connecting hallway, pausing a few times as guards closed in, only just missing them by a hair. It was with a grunt of satisfaction that the two of them reached the area he had had in mind: a blank piece of hallway, bare of any picture or design. Making sure that she was watching, Flynn pushed on the wall, heaving his strength against the seemingly solid wall. Just as he was going to leave his plan for null, the wall gave way, stone grating against stone to reveal a hallway leading into the depths of the castle.
A few weeks ago, Flynn had stumbled across the secrete passage while memorizing the layout of the castle, recording every room and window should their services ever be needed. It had surprised him, for he had been under the impression that he had found the last passage years ago, though he could hardly complain now. Taking her hand, Flynn led her forward, his mental map of the corridor allowing him to swiftly navigate its depths, even with the utter darkness that pressed against them.
As the sounds of the guards above faded the two of them continued on, Flynn navigating the underground maze with only the mental map he had created his first visit to guide him. Soon the silence that had descended upon them was broken by the increasingly loud sound of Blondie's panting, her hand tightening into a death grip around his. She had never gotten use to the dark, instead sleeping under an open window with a candle and a box of matches nearby to alleviate the darkness and drive away the monsters that haunted her nightmares. Giving her hand a reassuring squeeze, Flynn quickened his pace, a sense of urgency driving him on.
For what seemed like hours the two of them traveled under the kingdom, Flynn forcing them to take detours when their path was blocked by enemy guards. Just when it seemed that their forced wandering had caused them to get lost, trapped under the castle with no lights, no weapons, and a limited amount of food, Flynn noticed that the darkness around them began to grow lighter, the air becoming less stale and moldy, slowly transforming into the scent of the early morning mixed with the warm musk of horses, their bodied just rousing from slumber. Soon, the passage turned from stone to wood, gaps in the boards allowing them a precious glance at the upper levels, the horses calm and unhurt.
Reaching the end of the tunnel, Flynn allowed her to pass him, the smell and promise of safety forcing away the exhaustion and pain. He watched as she forced the trap door open, her small body heaving against the wooden ceiling before finally allowing him to come help her. With their combined strength, the door swung open into the stables, blasting them with a breath of fresh air, restoring their hopes that soon everything would be okay. Wrapping his hands around her waist, Flynn lifted her up through the door, passing up their supplies before heaving himself after her, his mind filled with ideas of how they would continue, especially since they had wasted so much time under the castle. Without the cover of night, they would be sitting ducks if they tried to leave, yet they would be sitting duck if they stayed. What they needed was a new plan, hopefully one that Max or Pas could help with.
Glancing up, the words died on Flynn's lips as he saw their predicament. Standing there, his eyes narrowed in disgust, a cruel sneer dancing across his face, was the evil King Philip himself. Besides him stood his two legendary guards, Raine and Eldrid. Their faces were twisted in an imitation of their masters', their eyes sparkling at the execution that was sure to come. But what really caught his attention were not the swords that were pointed at his neck, ready to behead him at any second, but Blondie, caught in Raine's grasp, her sword raised to the girls' throat.
"Let her go," Flynn growled, pulling himself the rest of the way out of the passage, his eyes focused on Philip. "Let her go right now, or by the Sun I'll-"
"You'll what, Rider?" The sneer on Philips' mouth widened, showing too many of his gleaming teeth. "The kingdom is mine, the princess is mine, and really, your head will soon be mine as well. By the end of the hour, you'll be dead, the princess will be locked away forever, and the last of those pigs you call an army will be destroyed." Leaning over him, their noses almost touching, Philip spat in his face, the drool slowly making its way down Flynn's' cheek, leaving a glistening trail behind it.
"For the first and the last time Rider, you lose."
"Not quite." Lunging forward, Flynn tore the sword from Philips' scabbard, dancing away from the flash of steel that came from Eldrid, the warrior following him step by step in an attempt to catch him for his master. Twisting, turning, leaping, whirling, the two swords took on a life of their own, becoming snakes in the hands of their users, hissing and biting, sinking their teeth into any exposed flesh they could find, though nothing fatal. He was good, Eldrid, never leaving himself open, his attacks well practiced and precise. Flynn could see why his renown made him feared throughout the kingdoms, for here was a man that, without blinking, would kill a person should it be his masters' whim. But he had never come up against an opponent like Flynn.
Scoring a hit to his hip, Flynn watched as Eldrid faltered, the wound proving to be too severe to ignore. He soon collapsed, his hand pressed against gash in an attempt to stop the flow of blood. Flynn took advantage of the situation and darted in, kicking the forgotten sword to the side, nullifying the mans' threat to him. Turning back, he raised Philips' own sword in a taunt to him, beckoning the king to step forward and fight.
Instead, Philip drew a knife from his belt and took the princess, pressing its cool tip to her throat before nodding to Raine. Drawing her own sword, the woman advanced on Flynn without mercy, her own weapon soon picking up where Eldrid had left off. This time, though, it was Flynn who was being led around the stables, the impromptu battle field slick beneath his feet. A cruel smile plastered on her lips, Raine was more like a humming bird than a snake, her sword always moving, catching the light of the rising sun to flash in his eyes. While blinded, the same sword would flash towards him, piercing his skin, only to draw back once he had regained his sight, out of reach until her next strike. However, just like Eldrid, she underestimate Flynn's' abilities and was soon dispatched, this time through a lucky blow to the head from the flat of his sword, sending her reeling into a pile of hay.
Finally, it was just them. The two men stared at each other, their eyes searching for something, anything, they could use to destroy the other with. It was an even match. Flynn was tired, the long night running from guards plus the battles with Eldrid and Raine having drained his stamina. However, he was not tired enough to let Philip go should he hurt her. And Philip knew it. He knew that, should he hurt the girl he had in his arms, his life was forfeit. Flynn would use the distraction of killing the girl to escape, leaving the castle much easier than he would have been able to with her in tow. And he would return, time and time again, making him way into the castle, up to the chambers Philip had already claimed as his own, haunting him until either he or Flynn was dead. And even then, Philip would not put it past the thief to find some way to kill him from the grave, his soul never resting until revenge was fulfilled. So they were at an impasse.
'You wouldn't kill your sister, would you Philip?" Flynn asked softly, his eyes narrowing to judge his opponents reaction.
Letting out a feral growl, Philip pushed her aside, snatching up Eldrid's sword from where it laid forgotten on the ground. Just in the nick of time, Flynn raised his own, sparks flying from the metal as the two weapons clashed.
"You are NOT my brother." Bearing down on his sword, Philip forced the weakened Flynn to the floor, his eyes glazed with fury. "Do you have any idea what you did to our parents, what you did to me when you left? While you were running off, having adventures, I was stuck there, alone and afraid. We thought you were dead! My twin, my other half, gone." A mad light came into Philips' eyes, a chuckle rising from his throat. "Mother died knowing you were dead, and Father quickly followed. Now, I'll make their delusions a reality."
Freeing his sword, Philip stepped back and raised it above his head, the cool steel flashing red in the dawn light, as if it was already stained with blood. Flynn Rider, the greatest thief ever, was going to die. And he knew it. He was too weak, too tired, to try and raise his deadened arms, too exhausted to even try. Raising his head, Flynn watched as the sword began to fall, the gleaming edge poised to pierce his heart. Out of the corner of his eye he saw her watching in horror, her body frozen. This would be that last sunrise she saw, for the moment he was dead, she would be forced away, locked into the deepest pit Philip could find. It hurt, more than any wound he had ever had, the idea of her being locked away, never again free to live the life she was meant to have, that her last few hours of daylight would begin with the sight of his head rolling. But Flynn had cheated Death far too many times already, and the old man had finally come to collect.
Or maybe not. Turning his head so he could see her completely, so that his last glimpse of this world be of something he loved, Flynn noticed that on the floor, lying perfectly placed by the horse that had inhabited the area during the night, was a perfect pile of manure. Lashing out his hand, Flynn flung the pile at Philip, forcing the king away as it covered his face. Rolling to the side, Flynn rose and grabbed the abandoned sword, a surge of adrenalin giving him the strength he needed to perform this final task. Raising it above his head, Flynn locked eyes with Philip for one last time, showing him that, despite their past, there would be no mercy. The message sent, Flynn let the sword fall and-
"Your Majesties! I've found them!" Without warning, the five of them were surrounded by palace guards, a dozen voices questioning where they had been, what had they been doing, and why were they standing in the middle of the stables, holding kitchen knives as if they were swords. As they stood there, Raine and Eldrid joining the rest of them in the middle of the circle, accusing voices throwing question after question at them with no chance to reply, it seemed as if nothing else could go wrong.
That is, until their parents arrived.
It was their mother who first arrived, her bare feet slapping against the cobblestone that marked the castle walkways. Her face was pale, the dark circles surrounding her eyes telling of a sleepless night. Still in her nightgown, her pixie short hair surrounding her head in a dark halo, she dropped to her knees and gathered the five of them in her arms, ignoring the filth that covered them and focusing on the fact that they were safe, her worried tears finally falling after a night of buildup.
Their father quickly followed her, the relief on his own features inspiring a slight hope that, perhaps, he would not kill them. This relief did not last long. Soon, fury spread over him, his hands shaking as he tried to control his temper. Sending away the guards with orders to prepare baths and clean clothes for them all, it was soon just the seven of them, a deathly silence replacing the overwhelming noise from before.
"What. Were. You. Thinking?" An angry pause followed each word as their father spoke, his eyes narrowed into slits as he took in the sight of his children. "One of you had better start talking, or Sun help me I'll-"
"Eugene, calm down." It was their mother this time that spoke, standing up so she could look her husband in the eyes. Not caring about the filth that covered her silk clothing, she walked forward and wrapped her arms around his middle, burying her face in his chest. Reflexively, he enveloped her in a protective hug, burying his nose into her hair, breathing in deep lungfuls of her scent. After a few moments the shaking stopped, the flush leaving his face, until it returned to its natural hue. "It's all right, Eugene. They're safe."
"No, Rapunzel, it's not okay. When we wake up in the middle of the night to find our children's nursery empty, the room a mess, one of the windows open, and a bunch of knives missing from the kitchens, it's not okay." Releasing Rapunzel, Eugene knelt down so he was level with his children, meeting their eyes until they each looked away, unable to hold his disappointed stare.
"Do you know how much trouble you caused for us last night? The entire kingdom is searching for you. I have the entire army exploring every nook and cranny of every village for miles around. Every citizen is on the lookout. Maximus has been searching the forest for hours, try to find the five of you. So tell me now: What were you doing?" For a moment more the children remained silent, until finally Flynn stepped up to answer.
"It's my fault Father." Bowing his head, Flynn refused to meet his fathers' gaze, instead preferring to stare at the hay strewn floor. "Philip and I, we have this game going. It's where I'm me and he's him, and we're twin brothers just like we really are, but we're also adults, all grown up. And I ran away years ago so I could have adventures like you use to when you were Flynn Rider, and Philip became king instead of me, but he turned evil and wanted to get rid of me. This was going to be our final battle, where he stormed a neighboring kingdom, and wanted to use the princess' magic, even though she didn't have any. I was at the kingdom, so I was supposed to get us out of the castle and to safety without the others finding us. Then, just when we were to escape, the two of us would get into a fight, and whoever won would be king. Then, we would find a new game to play. That's all. The others, they wanted to play too, so Raine and Eldrid became his legendary knights, and Alina was the magical princess. She was supposed to be Mother, and I even called her Blondie, but in our story she's just a good friend. That's why we were out of bed Father. Just to play."
Taking in a huge gasp of air to make up for the times he did not breath while telling their side of the story, Flynn knew his father was thinking, same expression he always wore when a decision fell to him covering his features. It was a blank face, one Grandfather had often called a 'poker face.' It gave no hint to what the man had decided, though the fact that his father was even thinking gave Flynn hope. If he was going to throw them in the dungeon, he would not have needed to think at all.
"But why the knives?"
"They're the swords."
"Ahh." Once more silence fell over the group as Eugene thought, each of the children watching him closely. Stepping forward, Rapunzel gently rested her hand on his shoulder, jerking her head to the side when he looked at her. Standing in a corner, the two of them whispered for a few moments, constantly sending glances over to their children as they conferred. Finally, coming to a conclusion, they rejoined the group, once more settling themselves on the floor with their children.
"What do you know about my past?" Flynn started at his mothers' question, her voice a soft whisper.
"You were kidnapped from Grandmother and Grandfather when you were a baby and raised for eighteen years by a woman named Gothel. Father eventually found you when he was still a thief, you blackmailed him into taking you to see the floating lanterns, and, after a long journey and series of complicated events, you were reunited with your parents." Raine rattled off the facts without emotion, her eyes studying the fascinating patterns that covered the floor, patterns she had seen a thousand times, but only now found a reason to study them.
Rapunzel nodded, a small smile appearing on her pinched face at her eldest daughters' condensed telling of the story. "That's right. Now, what do you think we though when Grandmother came in to tell us that you were missing, the window in your room open?"
Flynn felt a wave of guilt crash over him as he realized just what his mother was getting at. In Corona, with their family history, open windows and missing children were two things that should never be combined. Meeting his mothers' eyes, Flynn offered her an apologetic glance, hoping that things would not be too bad. His parents had never truly punished him before, even when he had stolen his sisters' crowns just hours before the big parade. But this time, he could tell that, even though his parents did not seem mad, not even the Sun itself could get him out of the trouble he was in now.
Seeing that each of the children realized just how serious their actions had been, Eugene yawned, his own smile showing that the children would eventually be forgiven. Gathering them all up, Rapunzel and Eugene herded their five exhausted young back to the castle, stopping by the bathing rooms for them to wash away the grim that had built up during their adventure. Seeing the multitude of wounds that covered them, from Alina's swollen ankle to Raine's bruised skull to the cuts they had given each other with the kitchen knives, Rapunzel quickly summoned the royal physician, her own glares at the five of them making then not so sure about the whole forgiveness thing, though she calmed down when the elder man announced that rest would help everything heal. Finally, hours after their adventure had started, Flynn and his sibling settled down into their beds, Alina snuggling her frog-lizard-thing toy, exhaustion quickly pulling them down into a deep sleep. They all knew they would be in for it after they woke up, but for now, they just slept.
Prince Flynn Rider, the ten year old eldest son of Queen Rapunzel and King Eugene, had a reputation.
Getting caught by his parents in the middle of his greatest adventure and forced to work for the stable hands for the next two weeks as punishment was not part of it.
AN: Didn't see that coming, did you? Thanks for reading everyone. I really hope you enjoyed it. :)