AN: This is what happens when you begin writing something while trying to recover from the shock of writing your first M rated story, then finish writing it after you've finished reading Steven King's The Shining, watched two pretty trippy horror movies until it's two in the morning, and fall asleep half way through the Tangled soundtrack, all the while drugged up on cold medicine, then wake up an hour later and continue typing. Sorry it's so strange, there was literally no way I could think of to make it any more normal. And this is the fixed version. Hope you enjoy the ! :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Tangled. Disney does.
The moment Eugene awoke, he knew something was wrong, for there was no music.
Ever since moving into the castle six months ago, every morning he had awoken to the sound of Rapunzel singing, running through her ever growing collection of folk songs until every person in the castle was humming along, unconsciously matching her pitch to create a perfect harmony that caused the very walls to seem to join in. Interwoven with the familiar ditties, there were always a few new songs she had created when the old ones failed her, songs about life and love and joy. Not a single day had gone by that air hadn't reverberated with the pure happiness that seeped from the princess, overjoyed to have finally found where it was that she was meant to be.
Today, silence pressed heavily on his ears, whispering over the thrumming of his heart that something was wrong, something was more wrong then it had ever been in his entire life.
Something was wrong with Rapunzel.
Jumping out of bed, Eugene quickly made his way out of his room, not caring if his hair was a mess and he was only half dressed, his feet and chest exposed to the winter chill. All around him, things seemed calm, too calm. Despite the lack of musical entertainment, no one seemed to be running around in a panic, wondering why it was that their beloved princess had yet to commence singing. In fact, there seemed to be nobody around too panic, the halls eerily void of all signs of the living. Even the murals Rapunzel had been spending the last few months making seemed dull and dead, their normally vibrant colors dimmed by the lack of life that had always flowed through them.
It was just plain creepy.
Making his way down the hall, his senses open for any sign of life, the oppressive silence continued to press on him, tricking his mind into following phantom sounds through the castle, only for him to find that what had sounded like a laugh turned out to be nothing, just a dead end at the end of a hallway he had yet to explore. It had once been that he preferred silence, had revealed in the peace that came with it. But after six months of constant noise, the sounds of the servants starting long before the sun appeared to grace them with its glory and ending far after sunset, he had become use to them, had expected them to always be there, banishing the silence from his mind.
But now the silence was back, and he hated its presence. It reminded him of too many nights spent alone in the woods, too many homes he had entered in the middle of the night to make away with the family's life savings, and too many winters that had passed with the death of another friend that had been buried in a shallow grave, the best he could do with the frozen ground, the last of them leaving him alone with the silence when he was young. The silence had taught him to be cold, expecting nothing from the world and giving it the same. It had taught him that, no matter what, he would always be alone, forgotten by the world with the death of the woman who had raised him unless he made them remember him. The silence had helped him to become Flynn Rider, the best thief in all the kingdoms.
He wanted the sound again.
By the time he reached the Throne Room, having seen not a single hint that the castle had ever been occupied, Eugene was sure that something terrible must have happened during the night, something that had either forced everyone to evacuate or had taken them by force from their beds. For some reason he had been spared whatever had happened, left in the castle, though for what purpose he couldn't even begin to wonder. And at that moment he really couldn't care why or how. If getting some answers would lead him to Rapunzel, then he was more then ready to use some of the old tricks he had picked up in his early days as a thief, tricks that would loosen the tongue of any informant.
Some of which just happened to be quite unpleasant.
It wasn't until Eugene reached the gardens that he began to think that, perhaps, things weren't exactly as they seemed. The night before, when he had been about to fall into the blissful embrace of sleep, Rapunzel had come knocking on his door, his eyes shining as she pulled him to the window to gaze at the freshly fallen snow, the moons' milky glow turning the castle grounds to a pool of silver, shimmering as the flickering lights of the lanterns cast dancing shadows over its smooth surface. After a while he had managed to convince her to return to her own chambers, promising that, come morning, he would personally help her do everything she had never been able to do in the snow before.
The gardens he now entered were in the height of spring, their large golden flowers giving off an overwhelmingly tantalizing scent, the strength of it making his head spin as he tried to focus. His body started to move on its own accord, taking him deeper into the depths of the gardens, each step surrounding him more and more with the flora, the plants growing up over his head until he was walking in darkness, the sun's rays blocked by whatever evil magic had been cast.
Eugene began to struggle, fighting against whatever force it was that drew him in, when, just as suddenly as it started, the urgent pulling stopped, leaving him stranded in the middle of a wild forest, the clean cut palace gardens long replaced. A clearing was before him, free from the sinister trees that pressed against him, almost as if they were herding him towards the sun. Taking the hint, he quickly made his way into the clearing, breathing a sigh of relief as a ray of sunshine hit his face, banishing the chill that had fallen over his heart.
That is, banished it until the screaming began.
It started out as a slight whimper, brushing against his ear the same way the wind would whisper to him when he was in one of the castle towers, looking out over the ocean or the town that surrounded them on all sides. It seemed to come from all around him, echoing in the same manner words bounced against the walls of a cave.
With each rebound, the cry grew in intensity, rising in pitch and volume until it filled the world around him, piercing into his mind like a dagger, rendering him incapable of doing anything other then falling to his knees, curling into a ball and begging the sun that soon, oh please, soon, it would stop or he would die and be unable to hear the screams, just make it stop!
As quickly as it began the screaming faded away, slowly returning to the whispering whimper before leaving all together, leaving the forest was once more thrumming with silence. Forcing himself to his knees, Eugene glanced around the clearing, rubbing his ears to clearing them of the ringing, vaguely wondering just who it was that had been screaming. The wondering was answered as she entered his field of vision, the sight of her sending a tremble down his spine.
Standing before him, her face turned from him, her head bowed over something she had cradled in her arms, was Rapunzel.
Leaping to his feet, forgetting the throbbing pain in his skull or the strange constricting of his chest, Eugene quickly crossed the space that was separating them, his hands held out to take her into his arms, to protect her from whatever was out there that had caused the screaming just moments before. Grabbing her arm, he turned her to face him, only to recoil a moment later, bile rising in his throat from the vision before him.
The woman before him was Rapunzel, but a twisted version of the woman he loved, her eyes replaced by pits of coal, hate and disgust shining out through them, lending them an evil glow as they fell upon him. Her face was covered in blood, dripping from her mouth onto the half eaten green reptile carcass she clutched in her hands, the curled tail still twitching, as if it was still trying to flee. It was Rapunzel, but a monstrously twisted version of the woman he loved.
Tossing aside Pascal's remains, Rapunzel crouched before him, her eyes focused on his neck, right where his life vein pulsed under the flesh. Before he could move, could even breath she was on him, her delicate hands wrapping around his neck in a vice like grip, her nails tearing into the skin, drawing blood with puncture. He was thrown off his feet, landing with a heavy huff as the wind was knocked out of him. Struggling against the thing that held him, the back of his hand make contact with its flesh, freezing him as it cried out in pain. Its voice was exactly the same, exactly the same as Rapunzel's, so perfectly well matched that it felt as if he had just struck her, has just slapped the woman he loved and had torn that cry from her lips himself. His hesitance gave the beast just the advantage it had needed, forcing his head back so he was staring directly into the sun, its teeth bared to rip out his throat.
Suddenly, the sun began to change, the painful brilliance fading into a twilight glow, its single yellow eye transforming into a pair of glistening emeralds surrounded by reddened flesh, as if their owner had recently been weeping. No longer could he feel the creature's claws sinking into his neck, its mouth open in a silent scream, its cruel eyes no longer piercing his soul with a hatred that twisted the face he knew so well into mask unrecognizable. Instead, he was looking upon the face of an angel, the face of the woman he had once died for and would a thousand times over. The face of the woman he loved.
"Rapunzel," he whispered questioningly, blinking his eyes to rid them of the stinging the light had brought on. Shifting to get a better look, a flash of pain hit him like a frying pan, pinning him to the bed better then any chains could have. A cool hand brushed against his face, slightly chilling the fever he hadn't even noticed was there, though now that he was aware, he was beginning to burn. Reaching out blindly, he grasped the familiar hand in his own, pressing his cheek against it in an attempt to calm the flames that were spreading through him.
Lower down, something moved against his side, causing another wave to wash over him, his teeth clenching as whatever it was twisted and dug itself deeper into him, forcing itself straight upwards into his lung, pushing aside what felt like broken ribs in its hurry. All around him he could hear voices, constantly fading in and out, some of them inaudible while others pounded against his ears with a rock, filling his head with a thousand different sounds all at once that made no sense what so ever. Words like 'arrow,' 'poison,' 'antidote,' and 'assassination' jumbled together with all the other sounds, blurring into a single mass of useless nothing that just gave him a headache. So, instead, he focused on the hand that brushed against his skin, on the eyes that watched him from above, and let the noise that surrounded him take over.
He didn't know how long it was that he lay there, drifting in and out of awareness. It could have been minutes, it could have been days, it could have even been months for all he knew. When he did realize though was that, except for two voices, voices he could actually understand for once, the noise had finally faded, leaving him in almost complete silence. Shaken by the sudden decrease in sound, Eugene focused in on the conversation besides him, his mind quickly recognizing the woman though the man was foreign to him.
"Are you sure he'll be alright," Rapunzel questioned, her voice weary and low, as if she had gotten very little sleep in the past while. "It's been two days, and he still hasn't woken up."
"Princess, I'm sorry to say I just don't know. Sir Eugene took an arrow that was meant for you, with enough poison covering the tip that it would have killed you. As it is, the mixture wasn't enough to do much harm to a man of his size and resilience, but the arrow broke some of his ribs and pierced his lung. Had these extra damages not been present, then the antidote would have fixed him by now, but his body is also trying to heal itself. Even with the cure, it might still be quite a while before he regains consciousness, and then he'll be weak for a while after. Unless he shows signs of improving soon, I really can't make any promises. I'm sorry, but it's all up to Fate."
More then slightly confused about the mentioned events, his memory completely missing all records of them, Eugene shifted slightly in his bed, a groan passing from his lips as pain, not as bad as it had been but still enough to place sparks under his eyelids, shot through him much like the arrow they claimed he had been hit with. Immediately they were besides him, her hands tracing the lines of his face while the man's, the doctor Eugene guessed, fell upon his wrist, mumbling something under his breath.
"Eugene, are you awake?" Hearing the hope in her voice, Eugene forced his eyes open, watching as fear and sadness melted away to be replaced with joy in her eyes. Without saying another word, Rapunzel placed a delicate kiss on his forehead before turning back to the doctor, her ever widening smile casting a glow around the room, making it seem much more inviting then the sickroom probably was.
"Well well well," sighed the doctor, his own relief apparent in the slumping of his shoulders and the dancing light in his eyes. "Seems like you proved me wrong just when I had given you up for lost." Muttering something about miracles and luck, the doctor quickly left them alone, giving them the privacy their reunion deserved. The moment the door closed, Rapunzel quickly wrapped her arms around his shoulders, laying so her body was pressed against his side and she could bury her face into his neck. Almost immediately the tears began to flow, wetting the bandages that covered his chest. Without him saying a word she launched into a retelling of the last few days, filling him in on how, in just a few days, Corona had all but fallen apart as a witch hunt tore the country to pieces.
"You were shot," she whispered, her voice thick with tears. "We were playing in the snow, and someone shot an arrow at me because some of the nobles want their own children on the throne, and they'll only get there if I die. But you took the arrow instead, and it was poisoned, and for the past few days I thought you were going to die." Raising her head, she roughly pressed her lips towards his, as if she needed to reassure herself that he was alive, that he hadn't died and left her alone. Pulling back, a small smile forcing itself through her tears, she replaced her head in the crook of his neck, her happy sigh sending sparks down his spin and warmth riding to his face. Completely unaware of how she was affecting him, Rapunzel continued her story, her voice growing more confident now that her fears of him dying were gone.
"The guards managed to catch the assassin, and he named Lord Gerald as the man who hired him. There was a trial, and he was found guilty, and now all the Lords and Ladies are being questioned about their intentions and whether they are loyal to Mother and Father or not. Most have been found innocent, but some of them confessed to wanting us dead so they could take the throne. They've been thrown in jail, but some of the other countries that don't like us are threatening war because they support them and everything's a huge mess." Letting out a huff of air, Rapunzel fell silent, tightening her hold around his shoulders. "I'm glad you're all right."
Laying there, listening as Rapunzel filled him in on the current political unrest and confusion, Eugene found that, amazingly, he could really care less. He knew that the next few days would be a turning point for Corona as everyone scrambled around, trying to rally the troops in preparation for war, since there was no way in Hell the King was going to be releasing people who wanted his daughter dead. Things would quickly get beyond crazy as the threat of war grew, causing unrest amongst a public that hadn't seen trouble in the last sixty years. Although most of the people would remain loyal to the Royal Lineage, there were always those few who would cause trouble, protesting the war and trying to sabotage the troops. And once he had recovered enough to move out of the bed, he would be expected to help, carrying messages and learning the general way the army worked, even possibly learning how to lead his own set of troops into battle. But for the moment, none of that mattered.
"Could you sing for me?" Twisting her head so she could see him with one eyes, Rapunzel nodded at his request before softly beginning the old lullaby that had once made her hair glow, her voice soothing all the worries from his mind. His body slowly began to relax as the song entered the second verse, his aching wounds quieting at the commands in her song. By the time she had started to repeat the melody, he had already passed once more into the throws of slumber, this time free of the poison induced dreams.
Although he knew life would soon turn into Hell as the war began, for the moment Eugene was content to sleep, for the music that surrounded him helped him believe that everything was perfectly right.
AN: Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it, despite the fact that it was very strange. Reviews and suggestions are welcome! :)