This story begins when Flynn and Rapunzel are in the cave with all the water pouring it. It starts right before Rapunzel starts crying.

Note: I know some people prefer seeing Flynn called Eugene, but, at this point in the story, Rapunzel had only just learned his name and he still didn't really acknowledge himself as not being Flynn Rider anymore, so I'm calling him Flynn for this story.

Disclaimer: No. Not mine. Is it pathetic, though, that I'm almost 14, have seen it 6 times in theater, and pre-ordered the DVD today? On the bright side, hopefully I'll own the DVD when March 1 finally rolls around . . . .


This was it. No matter how many times Flynn had imagined himself dying, it hadn't ever involved drowning alongside a girl with seventy feet of hair. Then again, he'd never even thought it was possible for anyone to have seventy feet of hair.

But, in any case, this was not how he'd wanted to go. He'd always thought he'd die heroically, or maybe on that island he planned on owning, which, apparently, wasn't a very good dream. But it was his dream—he could choose what it was about. Those thugs in the Snuggly Duckling weren't real thugs if they dreamed of playing the piano, finding true love, and collecting ceramic unicorns. That wasn't thug-like at all!

Besides, it didn't matter what they thought. He was Flynn Rider, the infamous thief that no guard could catch, and, someday, he was going to be rich. No one else mattered beside him.

But when Rapunzel started crying, her face so devastated as she realized she was going to drown, something stirred inside him for the first time. He felt . . . was it pity? Or sorrow? He couldn't even identify what it was that he was feeling—it was so foreign to him to feel anything besides scorn towards anyone besides himself.

"She was right, I never should have left," she mumbled to herself, her voice thick with tears. "I'm—" Her voice broke as she finally started crying. "I'm so sorry, Flynn."

Tears fell down her cheeks, her young green eyes so miserable that Flynn suddenly felt as if it was necessary to find a way to ease her suffering, to distract her from their imminent demise. So he said the first thing that came to his mind.

"Eugene."

And as soon as the name left his lips, he was regretting it. Why was he telling her his real name? He knew what she would do—she'd laugh at his ridiculous name. He'd be ruined.

But then she looked at him, some of the utter despair gone from her eyes, her crying temporarily stopped, he knew he had to continue. He couldn't let her be so sad. He didn't know why, he just knew he couldn't.

"What?"

"My real name is Eugene Fitzherbert," he sighed, wishing more than anything he could take it back. "Someone might as well know."

He waited for her laughter, for the scorn, but it never came. He looked at her and saw her looking at him calculatingly before speaking herself.

"I have magic hair that glows when I sing," she confided with a sad smile.

Flynn looked at her in shock. He must have heard her wrong. There was no way. Maybe he was already losing his mind from knowing that he would soon die . . . .

But then she repeated it. "I have . . . magic hair that glows when I sing!" Her voice was triumphant, as if she had figured out something incredibly important. The water was rising higher, however—their time was almost up.

"Flower gleam and glow, let your power shine—" was all Rapunzel managed to sing before the water was over their heads. Flynn didn't even bother to open his eyes, knowing that it was pitch black.

But suddenly, something fiery lit up the darkness from underneath his closed eyelids. He opened his eyes and nearly passed out in shock.

Rapunzel's hair was glowing. Literally. The glow from it was spreading all the way down to the ends of her hair. He gasped before remembering he was underwater and had a very limited air supply.

Not to mention, the glow from her hair was already fading.

He swam to the bottom, where he could see some rocks obscuring a way that might be an exit. He pulled out as many as he could before the glow from her hair faded. Finally, when his lungs felt like they were about to burst, his arm found an opening. He pushed even harder against the rocks and they tumbled out of that mine into a river.

The trio—the two humans and the chameleon—had just enough time to grab a precious lungful of air before they fell into the river.

It was difficult keeping their heads above the water—they were already dizzy from the lack of air before, and their muscles were weak. Flynn finally managed to grip the side of the river and, grabbing the back of Rapunzel's dress to keep her from floating away from him, they heaved themselves onto the side of the river, gasping and choking for air.

When Rapunzel finally found enough break to speak, she was shocked that they were alive. "We made it," she coughed.

Flynn's eyes were wide as he remembered why they survived. "Her hair glows!" he gasped, lifting his head. His short hair was tousled from the river currents and was plastered to his head in some part, sticking up in others. He probably looked ridiculous, but he was too shocked.

"We're alive! We're alive!" Rapunzel cried triumphantly as she pulled herself full out of the water and went to try to pull in the rest of her hair.

"I didn't see that coming," Flynn muttered.

"Eugene," she called. He ignored her, speaking to the chameleon—another sign that he was completely crazy.

"Her hair actually glows!"

"Eugene."

"Why does her hair glow?" he demanded the little green thing, who was just looking at him.

"Eugene!" Rapunzel all but shouted, finally getting his attention.

"What?" he gasped, nearly in hysterics from the surprise.

"It doesn't just glow," she said as she pulled more of her hair out of the river. The chameleon—Pasco, or whatever his name was—looked at Flynn and smiled at him. He smiled at him!

What was the world coming to?

He finally found the strength to pull himself out of the river and helped Rapunzel drag the rest of her waterlogged hair out of the water. It was too heavy for her to let drag on the ground, so he helped her carry it until they found a suitable area for their campsite. As soon as Flynn had the fire going—wincing the whole time because he kept bumping his injured hand against the wood—Rapunzel sat him down on a log next to her.

Her hair was spread out across the campsite, drying quickly because of the fire. She looked at his hand, which was bright red and had dried blood all over it, and immediately told him to hold still. He watched in confusion as she grabbed the end of her hair and proceeded to wrap it around his hand tightly.

"What are you doing?"

"Just something that will help your hand."

Needless to say, Flynn was confused beyond belief. How could wrapping her hair around his hand possibly heal it? Unable to bear the tension that was settling in his limbs, he spoke again after a moment.

"So . . . you're being strangely cryptic as you wrap your magic hair around my injured hand." He winced and sucked in his break when her fingers grazed his cut.

"Sorry," she said, halting in her movements, though she still held his hand tightly in her own. "Just . . . don't freak out?"

Flynn looked at her, confused and even more scared. He just learned today that her hair glowed and he hadn't freaked out—well, hadn't freaked out very much, considering the circumstances. What could possibly surprise him more than the revelation that this girl had seventy feet of hair that glowed when she sang?

And then she began to sing, her voice confident and strong in the notes. Actually, she had a beautiful voice, Flynn noticed. She herself was beautiful. There was something so childlike and innocent about her that endeared her to everyone she met. She made the thugs at the Snuggly Duckling start singing about their dreams! Then again, their dreams were pretty pathetic, considering they were supposed to be thugs, but still . . . .

He was brought back into his thoughts when he noticed Rapunzel's hair beginning to glow. She sang slowly, and so the glow spread slowly throughout her long hair. He moved his uninjured hand away from the strand that went behind him as it began to glow. As the light of her hair passed the frog, it lifted one of its—hands? paws?—foot-like things and pointed to it.

Flynn's eyes were drawn to his own hand, where the glow from Rapunzel's hair was just beginning to light up around it. His hand began to feel something warm and soothing—that for some reason, reminded him of relaxing in the sunshine on a warm day—right over the cut. He looked at Rapunzel, beginning to panic, but her eyes were closed, her face tranquil as she sang. When she ceased singing, the glow from her hair faded.

Flynn unwrapped the hair from his hand and gasped, a strange squeaking sound coming from his mouth as he turned his hand around, trying to make sense of the situation. He took a deep breath to shout, and probably would have screamed bloody murder if Rapunzel hadn't spoken in that moment.

"Please don't freak out!" she begged. He couldn't stop the scream completely, and the strangled yell sounded strange as it came from his throat. He finally managed to stifle it and folded his arms across his chest, his voice choked as he tried to speak through the haze in his brain.

"I'm not freaking out, are you freaking out? I'm just very interested in your hair and the magic qualities it possesses. How long has it been doing that exactly?"

"Um . . . forever?" she said hesitantly, obviously wary from his barely concealed panic.

That just made Flynn's brain hurt. This girl had magic hair that glowed when she sang and could heal people's injuries and she'd had that ability for her entire life?

He really wished he could scream. But he knew that that would only make Rapunzel unhappy, so he tried his best to calm down.

Luckily, Rapunzel chose a more somber topic at that moment, and it helped him to calm down.

"Mother said that when I was little, people tried to cut it. They wanted to take it for themselves. But once it's cut, it turns brown and loses its power." She showed him a strand of brown hair that was about seventy feet shorter than the rest of her hair. "A gift like that . . . it has to be protected. That's why Mother never let me . . . ." She broke off with a sigh before trying bravely to continue. "That's why I never left and . . . ."

She stopped speaking with another sigh, this one heavier than the previous one. Flynn, finally completely calm, spoke as understanding dawned upon him.

"You never left that tower," he said softly. She turned to look at him. Incredulity filled his voice when he spoke again. "And you're still going to go back?"

"No!" she said. "Yes?" She groaned, dropping her head into her hands. "It's complicated."

Seeing her so upset, he felt the urge to try to make it better, just as he had in the cave. But what could he tell her this time? He didn't have any other revelations that he could tell her to distract her—at least, none that wouldn't depress her further.

Luckily, he was spared from the further agony of finding a way to soothe her pain when she sat up and spoke again, a small smile on her face.

"So . . . Eugene Fitzherbert, huh?"

"Ah," he sighed, knowing that there was no way of getting out of this topic. Besides, it might help distract her. "I'll spare you the sob story of poor orphan Eugene Fitzherbert. It's a . . . well, it's a bit of a downer really."

In response, she scooted closer, resting her elbows on her knees and her chin in her hands. Her emerald eyes looked up at him in rapt attention, reminding him of the days when he had read The Tales of Flynnigan Rider to the younger children at the orphanage. He told her of the book, about Flynnigan Rider and how he had everything young Eugene Fitzherbert didn't.

"Was he a thief, too?" she asked.

That threw him for a moment. How did she knew he was a thief?

Then it hit him—the wanted poster Vladimir had showed them. It had said that he was a thief.

For some reason, knowing that she knew of his crimes made him wish he wasn't a thief. He wished he could be as innocent as she was. He didn't want her to think less of him because of his crimes. But the look in her eyes wasn't contempt or horror. It was simply curiosity. Her eyes were the only thing that kept him speaking.

"Well . . . no. Actually, he had enough money to do anything he wanted. He could go anywhere he wanted to go. And for a kid with nothing . . . I don't know, it just seemed like a better option."

His eyes fell on his hands, too ashamed to look her in her eyes. Another new emotion. Shame was not something Flynn Rider felt. But he didn't feel like Flynn Rider anymore. He felt like Eugene Fitzherbert.

No! he told himself. That's impossible. You left Eugene Fitzherbert behind years ago. You can't just go back to being him because of a girl.

"You can't tell anyone about this. It would ruin my whole reputation," he said to Rapunzel, hoping to find a way to lighten the mood.

She did it for him.

"Ah, we wouldn't want that," she teased.

"Well, a fake reputation is all a man has."

She giggled and looked up at him, her large eyes happy and full of trust. He looked back at her before he forced himself to look away before those beautiful eyes trapped him, before he said something he didn't want to.

Looking at the dying fire, he said the first thing that came to mind.

"I should . . . I should go get some more firewood."

He stood up and started to walk away, but Rapunzel's voice stopped him. If it had been anyone else, he would have ignored it. But it was Rapunzel, so he turned and looked at her.

"Hey . . . for the record, I like Eugene Fitzherbert way better than Flynn Rider."

He looked at his newly-healed hand before looking back at her. "Well, you'd be the first, but . . . thank you."

He then continued on his way to get the firewood, his head spinning.

Flynn Rider had never felt this way before. Flynn Rider had flirted with women, but he'd never been so caught up by a woman like he was with Rapunzel.

Flynn Rider had never told anyone his real name. Flynn hated his old name, hated hearing it out loud and just detested it in general, but the way Rapunzel's tongue seemed to caress it the name, the way she said it so kindly, it made him want to hear her say it again. A very peculiar feeling, though not much stranger than anything else he'd been feeling lately.

Flynn Rider was a thief. He was not supposed to be taking a girl to see the lanterns that the kingdom set off every year for the Lost Princess. He knew that he could leave her behind quite easily, just disappear into the woods before she even suspected a thing.

But he didn't. Something held him back, some invisible tie kept him tethered to her. He found that each moment he was away from her ached like there was a long-forgotten injury in his heart, and her presence was the only thing that could soothe it.

He knew one thing in instant he walked back to the camp and saw her again.

He wasn't Flynn Rider anymore. He was Eugene Fitzherbert, whether he liked it or not. He was taking Rapunzel to see the lanterns of his own will, and he hardly even cared anymore about his satchel. Had she given it to him in that moment, he didn't know what he would have done.

If he was still Flynn Rider, he would have run off with the satchel—good riddance to the girl and her irritating frog.

But he wasn't Flynn Rider anymore. And Eugene Fitzherbert was falling in love with this girl, though he hadn't realized it yet. He wasn't going to leave her if he could help it.

Trying to hide the relief he felt at seeing her again, the way his heart soared, he racked his brain and came up with something after what seemed like an eternity.

"So, can I ask you something?" he called to her. She didn't respond, her back to him, but his eyes were focused on the ground, still too embarrassed to look at her, so he didn't notice. "Is there any chance I'm going to get super strength in my hand, because, I'm not going to lie, that would be stupendous."

Then he noticed that she still hadn't responded, that her back was rigid and tense as she stared out in the opposite direction, her face hidden.

"Hey, you okay?

She turned, brushing a strand of hair out of her face as she spoke. "Yeah. Just . . . lost in thought, I guess."

He fretted about the expression in her eyes—worry, fear, guilt—but he forced himself to push back his concern for the moment.

"'Cause superhuman good looks, I've always had them. But superhuman strength, can you imagine the possibilities of this!"

Rapunzel wasn't herself for the rest of the night. She was too intense and one edge, the complete opposite of the carefree and joyful girl she usually was. Flynn was worried, but hid it well.

She fell asleep before he did, curling up in her hair with her chameleon burrowed in her shoulder. She looked completely warm and content in her sleep, the tense lines in her face finally relaxed. He was relieved at the change. He watched her for a while as she slept before realizing that, if she woke up, she would probably find that a bit strange.

He fell asleep quickly with a rock as his pillow, used to roughing it after years of sleeping outside since his life as a thief began.

But, this time, there was a blonde haired beauty sleeping near him, and she changed everything.