A.N. I know I have other stories I'm working on, but I am currently obsessed with Tangled and had to start writing this. I hope it's a little different from what's already out there. Please enjoy :D
The second the cold steel of the dagger penetrates the flesh between his ribs, Eugene knows that the next few minutes will be his last on this earth. The rescue mission he constructed in his mind had not played out like this. He expected a struggle, a furious fight for custody of Rapunzel, but not once had he considered the possibility of searing pain like the one now coursing through his body, like poison burning in his veins.
As he collapses to the floor, clutching at his wound with trembling hands, he can faintly detect the sound of Rapunzel's muffled screams beneath her gag. Even with his eyes firmly shut in agony, he can picture her perfectly in his mind's eyes, her ridiculously long, golden hair trailing feet behind her, her round, green orbs opened wide in shock and horror, her thin, fragile form tied mercilessly to the wall in iron chains. The image is ingrained in his memory, haunting him even as the life blood slips away from him.
He can feel himself slipping away, as the pain continues to ripple through his body. Curling into a foetal position, he grimaces as the pain comes in waves, threatening to pull him into an unconscious state. But he has to fight it. Rapunzel is still in danger. As long as she's with that woman, that witch, no, that manipulative b…His body spasms uncontrollably as anger pulsates through him. No. He cannot go without a fight. Even if it means death, he will do whatever it takes to ensure that his beloved was safe.
His eyes flutter open as resolve sets in. Through blurred vision, he can just barely make out the silhouettes of two people struggling. One of them, which he can only guess to be Gothel, yanks at the chain binding his Rapunzel. As he focuses on them, his sight clears, and the once foggy shapes sharpen. Gothel is screaming something, but the words are muffled in his brain.
Despite the agony grasping him, Eugene begins to make his way towards the figures. He tries first to stand, but the pain is too much and his knees buckle under the weight. He despises himself for feeling so weak, for failing again and again to save her. Dejected, he lays there on the floor, while a pool of his own crimson blood forms beneath him. And then he hears her scream. "NO!"
Glancing upwards, Eugene realizes that Rapunzel has broken free of her gag. Her legs curve in an 'L' formation beneath her erect torso, while her hair splays out behind her. In this position, her purple dress comes short, and he can see her tiny feet. He doesn't know why, but at that moment, he is mesmerized by the creamy skin and delicate structure of them.
Rapunzel is yelling at Gothel, and for a second, Eugene feels a sense of contentment. She's standing up to the old hag, he thinks to himself, a demented smile flickering across his face. Helpless to do anything else, he forces his ears to listen to her.
"…for every minute of the rest of my life, I will fight! I will never stop trying to get away from you." She pauses, her breathing heavy. Eugene regards her in sole admiration. "But…" Eugene's heart freezes. "If you let me heal him, I will go with you."
It is only in horror that Eugene suddenly remembers the healing powers of her golden hair. For a second, something akin to hope leaps in his chest, but it is quickly quashed by a more important realization. He cannot let her do it; he cannot let her sacrifice her freedom so foolishly. Adrenaline begins to flood through him and his limbs struggle to find the strength to carry him to her. Half dragging, half crawling, he inches towards the two women at a painstakingly slow pace, one hand still clasping at his bleeding side.
"No, no Rapunzel," he gasps as his strength flees him. For a brief moment, Gothel's eyes burn into his, a deep hatred within them, an overpowering loathing, and burrowed somewhere further down, a stinging jealousy. The notion fills him with surprise. She's jealous of me? The question pounds in his brain. Jealous that Rapunzel loves me more? And as that question enters his mind, another one swiftly follows. Does Rapunzel love me?
But then Gothel's eyes are focused once more on Rapunzel. The young girl is fighting with all her might to save, not herself, but a man, a thief, who deserves death more than she deserves captivity. He wants to scream at her, to tell her to stop, to push her to fight, but his voice catches in his throat, his warning dying before it can pass his lips. And then it's too late.
He fades in and out now, as his energy seeps away like the blood from the wound. His eyes close again. He can hear the rustling of chains in the background, can hear Gothel's high-pitched voice accepting Rapunzel's proposal. But he does not open his eyes, almost willing himself to die quicker to prevent Rapunzel from even trying to help him. He wishes for a plan, but nothing comes. There is nothing that he can do and it fills him with unendurable pain.
Rough hands suddenly tighten around his shoulders and turn him over. His eyes fly open as pain erupts through his side. A yelps flees his lips as he tries to suppress the true scream begging to be heard. Gothel towers over him, her thick mane of ebony hair billowing out behind her, a cruel smile curving her lips, as though pleased to see the pain he's in.
"No…" he tries to fight her off as she drags him over to the stairs. But he's no match for her in this condition. Without concern, she forces him into an upright position, but he slumps down, his legs stretched out before him.
She glares at him menacingly as she uses the chains once binding Rapunzel to tie him to the banister. He struggles again as she pulls him close. "In case you get any ideas about following us," she whispers into his ear before lowering her voice to an almost inaudible level." Don't think that this is the end." Her tone taunts him as she shoves him away.
He falls even further on the floor as she strides way, and tries to raise himself up a little, but the pain is unbearable, and he sinks back down, coughing uncontrollably. His lungs are failing now, and he has to take each breath in shallow paces. His vision is swimming again, and his eyelids flutter shut until he feels a small body press against his.
His eyelids droop as it suddenly becomes a struggle to keep them up. Rapunzel's face is inches away from his, her soft, green eyes staring his own hazel ones.
"Eugene," she pleads, her eyes wide and imploring, as her hands clasp his face, holding him tenderly.
It is still awkward for him to hear the name pass through her lips, is so used to being called 'Flynn' or 'Rider'. He has lived for many years under the alias, and to simply accept himself as Eugene Fitzherbert once more is not something he can do with his hourglass about to run out. Still, hearing her say it, makes it seem that much more beautiful.
Rapunzel's hands withdraw as he writhes in pain and reach instead for his own, which is desperately clutching at his side. She pulls it back to inspect the wound and her hand recoils in shock. Glancing downwards, he can clearly see the garnet stain on his white shirt. It makes him queasy and he quickly looks away.
"Oh," she gasps as Eugene falls into another fit of coughs, "I'm so sorry. Everything is going to be okay now. I promise. Just breathe." The promise echoes in his mind, provoking a memory from not so long ago. And when I promise something, I never, ever break that promise. But this is one she has to break, one that he has to make her break.
"No, Rapunzel," Eugene protests loudly as she reaches for her long hair, attempting to bring it to his wound, to sing her song. Despite the pain gnawing at his insides, he fights her for this, pushing her attempts away with his hand.
But Rapunzel is determined and she pushes back. In this state, she has the advantage. "Trust me," she pleads with him, already so close to tears.
"No…no, I can't let you do this." The pain is almost forgotten as he fights for this one last thing, fights for her freedom. Beyond Rapunzel, he can see Gothel watching them impatiently, her black eyes as cold and dark as her heart.
"And I can't let you die."
She cannot see that death is the lesser of two evils here. Better for him to die, than for her to live in captivity the rest of her life, held against her own will. He has lived the past twenty-one years of her life, but she has only lived a day.
"But maybe if you do this…" he stammers out, his voice faltering as he loses his breath. His head sags to the side as it becomes a burden to hold up. Rapunzel's hand gently falls upon his cheek, trying to support it. His own fingers wrap around her slender arm, trying to cling onto her. "…then you will die."
Rapunzel's eyes fly open wider as if for a second Eugene has managed to stir fear in her heart, but the look is quick to flee. "Hey. It's going to be alright." Her voice wavers as the lie leaves her lips. She tries to smile, but it falls short of the beautiful grin he has grown to love.
Doubt is all he knows in this moment as his hand falls onto the floor, too weak now. He knows that he has failed. For all the good he could have done, this is how it ends. Pathetic fool, he curses, remorse bubbling in the pit of his stomach. Damned, pathetic fool. He wants to continue arguing, to fight it out as long as he can, and then…a miracle.
His fallen hand brushes against something cool and smooth. He does not know what it is at first, but as he runs a finger against the surface, he realizes that it is a shard of glass from the mirror lying in fragments beside Gothel. And in that moment, he knows he's won.
Looking into Rapunzel's eyes for what he believes to be the last time, he smiles a tiny, sad smile and allows her to believe for an instant that he has finally given up.
Relief relaxes her features as she closes her eyes and prepares to sing to him, to heal him. For a brief second, Eugene hesitates, capturing this final image in his mind. And then…
Those green eyes pull him in deep as she obeys him. One hand brushes against her cheek, pulling aside a strand of hair, while the other waits, poised, clutching tight his weapon of choice. Summoning the only amount of strength he has left, he lifts himself towards her.
She easily falls prey to his scheme, leaning in deep, prepared for a kiss that will not come. Grasping her hair, inches away from her lips, he is tempted to fulfill her desire, but he does not. With one final burst of energy, he raises the glass shard and cuts through her hair.
His hand collapses onto the wood, the shard clanging away as he slides to the floor, no longer in control of his body. His limps fall away from him, motionless. Everything is going numb now, the sharp pain fading to a dull ache. His time is almost up, but it does not matter. There is no guilt, no shame. He did it. He saved her. He is ready to succumb to the darkness.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, he can hear Gothel scream, and then it is gone and he knows for certain that it is over. Rapunzel, his Rapunzel, is free and in a way, he is too. After seven years of being Flynn Rider, Eugene Fitzherbert is free to be himself.
He is somewhere between here and there, fading in and out of the blackness. A strange sense of loneliness overcomes him, but then strong arms wrap around his body and lift him upwards. He knows it is Rapunzel, can hear her voice ringing in his ears. He is not afraid, he tells himself, to die. But he is afraid to leave this world without telling her how much she means to him.
"Eugene," her voice is pleading again, willing him to respond.
He has no strength left, but there is a selfish part of him that wants to see her one last time. His eyes hardly open at all and when he tries to speak, all that comes is a cough. Even with a deep sense of longing rippling deep within him, he cannot manage to do this. His head falls to the side, exhausted, but her hands pull him back up.
"Look at me, look at me," she begs, "I'm right here. Don't go; stay with me, Eugene."
In desperation, she grabs at his limp hand and brings it to her head, the feel of her hair soft against his skin. She is still fighting, but it is futile.
Flower gleam and glow
Let your flower shine
Make the clock reverse
Bring back what once was mine
As the melody sings out to him, Eugene can feel his heart breaking into thousands of little pieces. She is clinging to him too hard, holding onto him irrationally. Fearful that she is going to hurt herself, he protests loudly, calling her name in a clear, strong voice that does not properly represent the way he feels.
"What?" she chokes, her eyes brimming,
His eyes are hardly open, but he can see now the short, brown hair spiking out of her head. It is different, too different from the long, golden hair he has grown accustomed to, but still so beautiful. He needs to make her promise that she will let him go, that she will live the life she was meant to live. But he can't; there's no time left for him. He is slipping away, and she needs to know how he truly feels. 'I love you' seems too clichéd. There is only one real sentence that can let her know.
Barely whispering, he looks into those green orbs. "You were my new dream."
She chuckles softly and grins, both actions, usually those to convey happiness, now marred by sadness. "And you were mine," she sobs, her hand squeezing tightly to his, as if I can keep him anchored to this place.
But it cannot. As Eugene finally surrenders to the blackness, there is only one regret in his heart: that he has never and now never will kiss her.
Rapunzel refuses to believe that he is gone. Staring into his face, she cannot let herself think that she will never see those hazel eyes again, that she will never again be the recipient of his smoulder. But she cannot doubt that his chest is no longer rising and falling or that his last breath died long ago.
The tears well in her yes as the realization that he is gone forever wells inside her. But that can't be it. There has to be something more.
Gently releasing his hand, Rapunzel cups his head with loving care. Come back to me, Eugene, she wishes silently.
Heal what has been hurt
Change the fate's design
See what has been lost
Bring back what once was mine
What once was mine
Choked, her voice cracks and warbles as her heart relinquishes to the face that Eugene, her Eugene, will never wake again. Giving into the truth, Rapunzel allows herself to weep inconsolable tears as she holds him close to her. She wishes he had allowed her to save him before cutting her hair. A lifetime with Gothel seems far less cruel than a lifetime without Eugene.
And then, like a miracle, Rapunzel catches a glimpse of something golden out of the corner of her eye. Wiping the tears away, she watches in astonishment as gold lights sprout from Eugene's wounds. They rise into the air in waves, the formation of a flower growing out of the middle, like a sun. With wide eyes, she remains fixated to the glow as it grows larger and brighter and seems to grasp at her entire being.
Then, it is gone, leaving her feeling breathless and hardly daring to hope. Leaning in towards Eugene, Rapunzel prays silently that this is indeed a miracle, that she has had one last ounce of power left in him.
When Eugene's eyes suddenly flutter open, it is almost too much for Rapunzel. She feels weak inside, weak and trembly, as she is overcome with emotions.
"Rapunzel," he breathes out as his hazel eyes meet hers. Eugene's expression is enough to tell her that he cannot understand it any more than she. A single tear drop…is it really possible? But it hardly matters what has been done it or how it has. All that matters to her at this moment is the man lying in her arms.
"Eugene," she whispers excitedly, a full grin now taking its rightful place on her lips.
Eugene too is smiling now as his strength floods back into him. It is no smoulder, but the cheeky smile toying his lips is still enough to melt her heart. "Did I ever tell you that I have a thing for brunettes?"
"Eugene!" Indescribable joy rises in her chest as she throws her arms around him and embraces him with deep tenderness. At his hands snake around her body, Rapunzel relaxes in the feeling of security Eugene lends her. As long as she is in his arms, Rapunzel is certain that she is safe.
Drawing apart, Rapunzel releases the smallest of laughs. Consumed by a sudden deep urging to close the gap and, she leans in towards Eugene and plants the most innocent of kisses on his lips.
Taken aback, Eugene remains shell-shocked for a few seconds, before finally responding. He pulls her in closer, and the kiss deepens in passion and tenderness. Finally, she sighs, not realizing that the same thought has just passed through Eugene's thoughts as well. After two failed attempts, Rapunzel cannot help but relish in the moment, absorbing every tiny detail, from the silky smoothness of Eugene's hair to the sound of birds chirping somewhere in the distance.
Breaking away to catch her breath, Rapunzel forces herself to ignore the heavy beating of her heart and the dizzy sensation claiming her mind. She owes it to the rush of emotions flooding her being. Her eyes are watering again with insurmountable happiness and love as she faces the man who has freed her, who has showed her how to live.
But as she sits there, lost in the moment, a thought of her mother…of Gothel flits across her mind. The woman who raised her from infancy is now gone for good, and she cannot help but mourn the fact. She is ashamed, but she would be lying if she said that the sudden death of the woman is not provoking tears of sadness to mingle with the tears of joy.
Eugene is watching her, concerned by her silence and the far-away look in her eyes. Part of him – actually, most of him – is still trying to comprehend the miracle that has taken place. He was surrounded by darkness, detached, alone when a disembodied voice suddenly called out to him, drawing him away from the bright light beginning to glow behind him and pulling him back into reality. To see Rapunzel again, to finally kiss her, seemed like a dream and he is waiting for the moment when he will fade away once more. But it isn't coming. This is real. But something is wrong.
"Hey. What's wrong?"
Rapunzel shakes her head, her voice catching in her throat. She cannot admit to Eugene that a tiny part of her regrets her m…Gothel's sudden death. "I just…can't believe it."
"Me neither," Eugene whispers. With confident arms, he reaches out for her and draws her in once more, allowing his lips to press gently against the top of her head. "I guess Blondie doesn't work anymore."
Rapunzel giggles again and looks deep into Eugene's round, hazel eyes. "I guess not."
"How about…Rapunzel? Has a nice ring to it."
Rapunzel wipes away at the new tears gathering in her eyes and grins broadly. "I like it."
And as Eugene's lips find hers again, Rapunzel allows herself to relax in his embrace, enjoying the tingling sensation spreading from her fingers and toes and erupting in the pit of her stomach. Perhaps it will take her a while to grow accustomed to the absence of her…Gothel, but there is one thing she is one hundred percent certain of. As long as she has Eugene by her side, she can conquer anything.
A.N. So what did you all think? Too much? I promise it will get better from here. I have the whole story completely planned out as well as a possible sequel if all goes well. But to make that happen, I would really, really love some reviews. Let me know what you like, what you don't like, maybe what you want to see happen. I love when stories become a collaboration between authors and readers. You are all my muses :D And if any of you are as equally obsessed with Tangled as I am, you should check out this great group I'm a part of on YouTube: ISeeTheLightStudios, a group dedicated to vidding only Tangled. We haven't done anything yet, but we're working on our first video. So please check it out and subscribe :D
Stick around, the next chapter should be up shortly :D
Love you all,