Disclaimer: I do not own Tangled, but I will hopefully be going to see it tonight! It'll be my 6th time seeing it!
As most people will agree, babies are adorable little creatures. With their button noses, chubby faces, and innocent eyes, they can charm almost anyone who sets eyes on them.
Gothel was no exception, though it did take her time to warm up to the child. The way the infant princess always cried—as if she knew that the woman holding her was not her true mother—grated on her nerves and gave her headaches. The only thing that kept her from throwing the baby out the window was the fact that, without the child, she would die.
This child was her new magic flower, whether she liked it or not.
Of course, even Gothel was not immune to the general cuteness that surrounds a newborn baby. When the child first smiled, Gothel felt a smile light up her own face before she controlled her features.
Then the idea flashed in her mind.
Children were not flowers. They had emotions and thoughts—both of which could be easily manipulated. Raising the child, pretending to be her mother, was perhaps one way to deal with her new charge.
Deciding that, if she was going to have to pretend to be a mother to the babe, she would have to give it a name. Too lethargic at that point in relations to the child, she simply let the child keep the name her parents gave her. After all, it wasn't as if the girl would ever leave the tower—no one would know of her continuing existence.
And so the girl kept her name—Rapunzel. A strange enough name, in Gothel's mind, but it was easier than trying to find another name. Any of the common names seemed too ordinary for her magic flower to be called.
Yes, Rapunzel it was.
As the child grew older, so did her hair. Gothel knew that cutting it would make the Flower's power disappear, and so she allowed it to grow longer, even as brushing it became a daily chore that took ages, and Rapunzel kept tripping in it as she learned to walk.
It took nearly a year for Rapunzel to break Gothel down, but, sometime after Rapunzel turned one, Gothel finally began to care for the child.
Not too much, mind you. And even then, part of the love was for the flower's power that was keeping her alive. But, though Gothel tried to tell herself otherwise, the majority of it was tenderness towards the girl.
The earliest time Gothel could remember where she felt motherly affection towards Rapunzel was when Rapunzel had taken her first steps. She had looked up at Gothel with triumph and joy in her emerald eyes, and the innocence and adoration already held in them for her "mother" was enough to begin to melt Gothel's heart.
The years flew by, and Gothel continued using Rapunzel's hair to stay young. The girl, bless her, was still oblivious to Gothel's actions, never noticing the fact that her mother looked years younger after Rapunzel sang to her.
Gothel knew that knowing would break her flower's heart, and so she intended to keep it a secret, the same way her flower's presence in the forest was still a secret to the kingdom.
But then Rapunzel's desire to see the lanterns ruined everything.
In her desperation to keep her daughter in where she couldn't lose her, Gothel had lost her temper and hurt Rapunzel's feelings. She could see it in Rapunzel's eyes, but the panic that had filled her at the thought of, not only growing old, but potentially losing her daughter partially blinded her, and she found that she could hardly care about Rapunzel's feelings.
And so when Rapunzel had hesitantly proposed new paint as an alternate birthday present, Gothel had jumped at the opportunity to make amends to her adopted daughter. Never had she dreamed that Rapunzel would actually leave the tower—and with a thief as her guide!
When she had finally found her, Gothel had expected Rapunzel to come along meekly, but Rapunzel refused, timidly telling Gothel that she thought he "liked" her.
Gothel could see it in Rapunzel's eyes—Rapunzel was falling in love with the thief!
It was unacceptable! If she fell in love, she'd only want to leave Gothel even more! Gothel tried to convince her flower that the thief would only betray her, but Rapunzel was stubborn. Her trust in the thief was misguided and probably undervalued by the thief, but Gothel had to hand it to Rapunzel—she was loyal. She never wavered, never considered leaving the thief behind and going with Gothel.
Gothel knew she was going to have to resort to other methods in order to get her flower back.
Though she hated to cause Rapunzel more pain than was necessary to keep her, she knew that she would have to break Rapunzel's heart—she would have to make the thief leave her. It was a harder task than Gothel had expected.
It turned out Rapunzel's love was not unrequited. The thief seemed to care for her too, which complicated things.
But Gothel persevered, and she found the weakness. The thief—Eugene, as Rapunzel called him, which was, apparently, his real name—wanted to protect Rapunzel. Send the Stabbington Brothers, who were now in her service, to the side of the lake after the lanterns to catch his attention, and, voila! He'd come like a moth to flame and she could make it look like he left.
It worked—Rapunzel came running back into her mother's arms. But, in the back of her mind, Gothel wondered if even eternal youth was worth the pain in Rapunzel's youthful eyes.
The girl was naïve—Gothel had deliberately raised her like that. She realized that the girl had learned far too much in the past few days, and that some of her innocent and naivety was gone. She was no longer a five-year-old in an eighteen-year-old's body. She now had the maturity of an girl who learned eighteen years worth of life-lessons in a few days. She had felt first love and heartbreak in the span of a few days. She'd had her first taste of the outside world and had it taken away.
It was a wonder the girl hadn't discovered Gothel's actions relating to the entire situation.
But then the girl discovered her true identity, and it was worse than any of Gothel's nightmares.
All of Rapunzel's affection disappeared. The warmth in her eyes vanished, replaced with icy coldness, anger, and hatred. She was going to leave her.
Gothel couldn't have that. Though the child didn't love her anymore, she needed to live—she couldn't die after centuries of cheating death. Rapunzel wasn't going to leave her, even if Gothel had to chain her and drag her away, which, it turned out, she did.
But then the thief returned and ruined everything. She heard him calling Rapunzel, worry tight in his voice. She threw down Rapunzel's hair after a moment of consideration, and waited with her dagger.
Once the thief was gone, Rapunzel would forgive her. It would be just like it was before.
Of course, it would never be as it was before, but Gothel was desperate—her mind wasn't working in a way that made sense, and, to the madness that was quickly overtaking her brain, that plan made perfect sense. Destroy the threat and everything would return to normal.
She saw the panic in Rapunzel's eyes, the way she implored with her eyes not to do it, not to kill the thief. But Gothel didn't listen. As soon as the man entered, he spoke, his voice earnest and relieved, obviously not having seen her yet. But then he did, and as soon as his eyes fell on her, Gothel struck.
Her knife sliced through his tan skin like butter, a bit lower than its mark, admittedly, but still in a place that would eventually cause death. Judging from the gasps that were already coming from his lips and the blood pouring from his wound, she had probably managed to puncture a lung and fracture an artery. The combination of the two would kill him quickly. Good.
Rapunzel's eyes were focused solely on the thief as she fought bravely against her chains, pulling hard enough that the rusty metal cut her wrists. The girl didn't even seem to notice, struggling even harder.
It was enough to make the small part of Gothel that was still sane see that her initial plan had been wrong—it would never be as it was before. Killing the thief had only solidified that fact.
But the rest of her was determined not to lose her flower. She began to drag away Rapunzel, but the girl screamed through her gag, the sound heart-wrenching with the anguish that was saturated in each muffled shout.
"Rapunzel, please! Stop fighting me!"
The gag slipped off—Gothel blamed the motherly side of herself for not tying it tightly enough—and Rapunzel's voice rang through the air.
"No! I won't stop! As long as I live, I will never stop! I will never stop trying to get away from you!" Furious, Gothel tugged on the chains, but Rapunzel wasn't done. "But . . . if you let me heal him, will go with you. I won't run. Everything will be just like you want. I promise. Just like you want. Just let me heal him."
Gothel hardly cared about the fact that Rapunzel wanted to heal the thief. All that registered in her brain were a few words: "Everything will be just like you want."
All she had to do was let Rapunzel heal the thief, and everything would go back to normal. The madness in Gothel's mind rejoiced at the fact that the plan had worked, and it didn't take long for her to agree.
But the sane part of her mind told her to chain up the thief, and even the part of her that was mad agreed with that. If he came along again—it would ruin everything.
"In case you get any ideas about following us," she hissed. Rapunzel knelt over the man as soon as Gothel moved out of the way, her eyes watching him with the adoration that came with first love. Gothel told herself firmly that that was all it was, but she knew better.
Rapunzel had found true love, one of the rarest and most difficult things to find. She had found it with the first man she had met, and, no matter how hard Gothel tried, the bonds could not be broken.
But she had to try. Though she now knew that her attempts were already doomed to failure, she had to try. Not trying meant instant failure. It meant that everything she had worked for was automatically for nothing.
But then the man sliced through Rapunzel's hair—the one thing keeping Gothel alive. Even as Gothel clutched at the hair with her now-withered and skeletal hands, she thought of her daughter. She knew she would die. She wanted to say goodbye, but, glancing in the mirror, she had seen the hideous thing that was her face.
How could she let her innocent Rapunzel see what her daughter had turned into?
She pulled the hood of her cape over her face, internally cursing the thief with every fiber of her being.
Because of him, she had lost her daughter emotionally.
Because of him, now she was going to die.
Because of him, her life was ruined.
The back of her shoes came into contact with something, and she felt herself stumble backwards, falling out the window.
She screamed as she fell, even though, as she felt the ground draw closer, she was glad that she would die out here, not where her daughter would see her body and be disgusted.
Though she lamented the loss of immortality, she mourned the loss of her daughter even more.
Her last thoughts before her body crumbled into dust were of Rapunzel.