Disclaimer: Yet again, I own nothing.

Gothel was awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of a floorboard creaking. Abruptly shooting up into a sitting position, she peered into the darkness with narrowed ice blue eyes. Had someone found the entrance into the Tower? Had they been discovered?

No sooner had the question crossed her mind, however, she registered a tiny, golden-haired figure standing in the doorway. She sighed heavily following this recognition, lifting a hand to her head. "For heaven's sake, Rapunzel!" She reprimanded irritably. "What have I told you about sneaking around like that?"

Rapunzel didn't respond, only folding her arms and dropping her gaze to the floor.

This only made Gothel sigh again, dropping her hand back to her side. "What is-" she started to demand, but was cut off by a loud clap of thunder. In an instant, Rapunzel had flown to her side, wrapping her tiny arms around Gothel's waist and burying her face in her bosom. She was trembling from head to toe.

For a moment, Gothel could only stare down at her, startled. Finally, though, she gently grasped Rapunzel's shoulders, pulling her back so that she could look the child in the face. "Is that what this is all about?" She asked, her voice a little less sharp than it was before. "Are you afraid of the thunder?" At the girl's fervent nod, she couldn't help but laugh a little, inwardly rolling her eyes. Children and their ridiculous fears! "Oh, Rapunzel."

"It's coming to get me," Rapunzel whimpered, clinging to her mother again. "It keeps on getting louder and louder. It's so angry."

"The thunder can't hurt you, pet," Gothel responded, adopting a soothing tone and tenderly stroking the child's silky locks. "Not as long as you're inside."

The little girl looked up at her with her large green eyes, her little nose scrunching up as she sniffled. "Really?"

"Would Mommy ever lie to you?" Was Gothel's smooth response, cupping Rapunzel's face in her hand, offering her a warm smile.

Rapunzel shook her head vehemently, cuddling closer to Gothel. "No, Mommy," she said. "I know you'd never lie."

"Good," she responded, kissing the top of Rapunzel's head and stroking her hair again. "Do you think you could go back to sleep now?"

"Could I stay in here with you?" She asked hopefully, her green eyes wider than ever.

This caused Gothel to mentally roll her eyes again, children really were so needy, but in the end found herself unable to refuse. "Of course you can, flower," she said, shifting over in the bed and pulling back the quilt so that Rapunzel could climb in beside her. "I love you very much, Rapunzel."

"I love you more," the child responded automatically, resting her small head on the pillow and sleepily closing her eyes, content once more.

"I love you most," she finished, settling back down. After a moment, however, she opened her arms and Rapunzel, as if sensing it, moved over into her embrace. It was only then that Gothel closed her own eyes, feeling oddly complete with the child in her arms.