~ The Princesses Recuperate

Once I discovered that Aurora and Rapunzel nearly run themselves to death, they needed time to recover. There would be the physical exhaustion of the run itself and that would last a few days and the lacerated feet would take a couple of weeks or so.

I was thinking that the apple scene needed some intensifying, and thought that Rapunzel could have been punished somehow and then the question came up how do you punish someone with magic healing hair? What I ended up with was far more intense then I had expected the old way is below.

There are some things I thought the girls could deal with like Rapunzel being a little on the short side, and problems that Aurora's beauty could have caused.

The original idea was to set up the princesses and queens so they would be ready to fight the goon-queen after rescuing their princes and the kings. A nice big Aliens style boss fight. So I wanted to establish their hammerspaces (that place where they put things so they disappear until needed again something later but we don't see them carrying them around like the satchel in Tangled)

Briar Rose was looking at the bowl of fruit next to her side of the bed and it made her uncomfortable. She was still so very tired from their desperate run, the pain from her feet was awful, and she missed Philip the pain hadn't been so bad when they were together, but she also remembered eating an apple, a wonderful, wonderful apple. It had been the most delicious apple she'd ever eaten, but she also remembered Mom looking at her, and the look on her face scared her now. She had done something wrong, very wrong, but she didn't know what.

It had been just an apple, left next to her bed, it was meant to be eaten, by her, hadn't it? Briar Rose was so tired, it was so hard to think.

With effort she lifted her head and looked around. No one else was with them at the moment. That was good, she didn't want to be with anyone at the moment. She was just too tired. She lay back and rested. After a while, she looked at Rapunzel who was looking the other way, she crawled her hand over to her friend and took her hand. Rapunzel's head flopped over to look at her. Her huge green eyes looked so sad.

"Are you okay?" Briar Rose asked weakly.

Rapunzel shook her head slightly, "We're alive, but we did something terrible wrong."

"I know, something about the apple."

Rapunzel nodded faintly, "I don't know what. I was so hungry and the apple was so good. But afterwards, I saw mama's face. She's never looked like that at me before, I feel terrible, but I don't know why."

"I do too, and I don't either."

The Queens came up the stairs and seeing the princesses awake again, moved to sit with their daughters and took their hands. Through their pain and exhaustion, there was nothing but total honesty.

Briar Rose felt the warmth of life and love as her hand was held by her mom. "Mom," she said quietly, "I'm sorry for eating the apple, I thought it was for me and I was so hungry. I've never been so hungry before. I didn't know it was wrong. I love you. Please, forgive me." Tears were standing in her eyes.

Tears came to her mother's eyes and she hugged her daughter tightly. "Oh, my darling girl. I love you, too. It's okay, the apple was for you. You just surprised us is all. You're such a good girl. Thank you for being such a good girl."

Queen Rebecca and Rapunzel had had much the same conversation. As they held their daughters a smile passed between the queens, their daughters were still good.

A few days later after the girls had recovered more of their strength, the Queens dismissed the maids and sat down for a chat with their daughters about the finer points of apple eating and what some of their actions could be taken to mean. The "Apple Incident" became a double secret term for some special communications they had later between them.

The afternoon was pleasant time of Rose and Rapunzel. Often they would read not to just fill the idle time but to learn, somehow together they learned so much better and easier. The sounds of the regular turning of the paper pages was comforting, To give them some quiet time where they could nap or read so they could rest and recover. Today they had a supply of books on cooking and medicine. Rose knew that her animal friends would eat different foods if they became ill and so it was no surprise to learn that humans did the same thing.

Pascal climbed up onto her shoulder and gave her a nudge and pointed at Rapunzel. Z was sitting up her book held out in front of her, her hands were shaking and her face was twisted into a mask of rage. Even the chambermaid noticed "M'lady are you alright?"

Rapunzel brought the book over her head and with a angry grunt threw it across the room. The book slid across the grey stone floor and bounced off of the wall. Rapunzel flipped onto her stomach and with screams of rage started beating the pillows with her fists and bandaged feet. The pain of her feet just adding to her rage.

The chambermaid stood in confusion. "Get the Queens," Rose told her and she scampered down the stairs. The queens had moved their chambers to the level below and it did not take long for them to appear.

"Rapunzel,What is it?" asked her mama.

With a final sob of rage Rapunzel flopped on to her bed and began to weep. Queen Leah looked at Briar Rose "She was reading that book and then threw it across the room and started hitting the bed." Queen Leah, picked up the book and turning it over read the cover. "On food, health and children." Rapunzel let out a wail. That didn't help clear up whatever the problem was. Queen Rebecca sat next to Rapunzel and waited patiently her hand on Rapunzel's back just stroking. Eventually rapunzel sobs and crying slowed and then stopped. Exhausted she lay there, an expression of deep sadness on her face.

"Mama, do you love me?"

"Yes, dear, I love you so very much."

"Mother would say that too, but she did something very terrible to me, I think." she put her face down into the pillow.

The Queens and Rose exchanged worried looks. "And it has something to do with the book you were reading, doesn't it?"

She nodded.

Rose was flipping through it rapidly but wasn't seeing anything obvious about kidnappers or captivity.

"I'm a little bit shorter then everyone else. At first I thought it was because of the shoes but even when you aren't you are taller then me and Mother was taller then I was too. I thought maybe I wasn't fully grown, I am only 18 but, but I should be my full height now. I think she may have not fed me right to keep me smaller and easier to control." she finished sadly.

"but your magic hair, "Started her mama.

Rapunzel nodded."It could fix anything but I think it needed to have the stuff we needed in our bodies to begin with. It kept me healthy but without the right kind of food there was only so much it could do. You remember how I ate so many different things when I came home."

"Oh my yes, for a few days there I thought you might be pregnant. When I tried talking to you about how you got that way, it became obvious you hadn't had sex or even knew anything about it, but I had gone into such intimate detail I was blushing for hours."

Rapunzel gave a sad little smile. "Sorry, mama. Thank you for that though. I think it was my body craving things it desperately needed for all those years and it was stocking up now that it was available." Her face fell again. "How could Mother hate me so much to do something like that to me? I loved her so much, and did everything I could to make her happy and proud of me, I made the best food I could with what she gave us. She told me she loved me most, "The tears began to run down Rapunzel's face again."but she was feeding me wrong, twisting my very body to her designs. Why did she do that?"

Queen Rebecca took her beloved daughter into her arms "I don't know. She was vain and selfish, that much we know. She probably couldn't stand the thought of you out shining her."

Pascal gave a few squeaks, and Rose replied, "You're right Pascal, it is hard to out shine someone with magic, glowing hair."

Everyone gave a laugh.

"You have the biggest eyes I've ever seen."

"I got those from my mother, I'm sure you remember her from the greeting ceremony."

"Yes, I noticed that but that was from far away, sitting right next to you they are huge, I feel like I could fall in them. I can see myself in them," she starts waving to herself in Rapunzel's eyes.

"You are so beautiful." said rapunzel to briar rose

"Don't envy me that. I not so sure right now that those gifts weren't a curse instead."

"Oh, why?"

"Well, basically, frankly, it comes down to, um, I look like a doe in heat, all the time. " she finished in a rush.

"What?"

"Well, I know you didn't, couldn't spend time in the forest, but I picked up lots of things about how relationships work between animals. a lot of it translates pretty easily to humans. most female animals give off signals when they are ready for mating. Aunt Flora's gift was to give me beauty and so did Maleficent but how it works is that I look like I am ready to mate with any male, in the forest the does only get ready for a short time each year, I look this way all the time."

"Oh no. I take it there are problems."

"Oh you won't believe." rose said miserably. "I truly love Philip, but every time I come into a room with men in it they all start acting like randy bucks. I just sit there for a few minutes and the men are all fighting over me, even though it is against court protocol."

"Oh, dear."

"It gets worse. The women are all jealous of me. I don't think they mean to be, but their men are reacting to me and they know it and and it just spirals out of control. I just wish I could go back to being me in the cottage."

"I know the feeling, it took me a while to feel comfortable around a lot of people, often I would hide in my room but I found a nice unused room in the top of one of the towers that feels a lot like my tower. I go there to hide, basically until I can feel myself again. Have you explored the castle much maybe there is something like that here. a private space just for you that no one knows about. As for your beauty I can't do anything about that but maybe mama knows something, she was teaching me about makeup, it is really an effort to make everyone else look like you, so maybe there is a way to make you look more like us."

"Oh, do you really think so, I hate going out in public and having such terrible things happen because of me. Philip has been in so many fights with members of the court. The one time I went to the market it almost burned down."

The girls weren't bored quite the opposite. They had grown up alone and never really had anyone to play with, so had created rich mental/internal playgrounds. And they share them. In the first few days rapunzel was teaching briar rose how to speak chameleon with pascal. Rapunzel leaned forward for a stretch being careful not to toucher still hurting toes, she flopped back and then rolled over. Pascal popped out and was on Rapunzel's back.

"Oh hi Pascal, where have you been?" asked Briar Rose.

He gave and offside nod and squeaked.

"What? I don't think I got that. Did you say hammerspace?"

Pascal nodded.

"Rapunzel do know what he meant by hammerspace?"

"Oh yeah, that's where I keep things, see." turning over she reached behind herself and pulled out a small Coronaian sigil flag. "Eugene gave me this when we went to see the lanterns its how I figured out I was the Lost Princess." she held it up over her head.

"Cool. I remember you telling me about that."

"I also keep my frying pan in there." which she promptly produces. and puts in roses lap.

Rose picks it up hefting it. "it's kinda heavy isn't it, doesn't it get in the way?"

"Not really, I don't actually notice it unless I want it."

"Oh and I also have 70 feet of rope." Pulls that out to.

"Why do you have 70 feet of rope?"

"It was a present from Eugene. We went back to the tower so I could show my parents about my life. For some reason I could remember more about my life in the tower then outside of it. Well, I operated a lot of the tower with my hair and I couldn't open the upper shutters and he pulls this out of his satchel and gives it to me so I can use the tower again. It was a very sweet gift of his. It isn't the same as my hair but he did find some very soft rope." She sighed as she thought about Eugene out there fighting the goons.

Rose looks at the pan and then at Rapunzel and back to the pan.

"Turn towards me, I want to see something."

Rapunzel turns toward her on her side, wincing slightly as she moved her feet. Rose holds the pan up against Rapunzel's hips.

"How do you do that? It's wider then you are."

"What? I hadn't really thought about," she flips onto her back and puts the pan on her hips and feels where her pan sits."You're right it is bigger then I am." She puts the pan behind her and wiggles a little. "I don't feel anything." pulls it out. "How interesting." putting it on the bed between them.

"I can do that too, but I've never put anything that big in it before." Rose produces some small things, makeup, pins, sewing, some nuts, dried fruits, she keeps reaching in and pulling out hand fulls of stuff and putting it in the frying pan. Soon the frying pan is piled high almost spilling with small things briar rose has had in her hammerspace. There are lots of acorns, a squirrel uses it to hide nuts in.

"You were saying something about big." teased rapunzel in an awed voice. She turned to Pascal, "How big is it in there?" He gives a shrug and a squeak.

"As big as it needs to be?" they said together in wonder.

Rapunzel grabs her pillow and slips it in, then Rose's pillow and the comforters. She gave herself a wiggle against the sheets. "it feels fine." Then she pulled them all out again. Rose did the same, after putting it all back they looked at each other with big grins and went "Squeee!"

The door opened and a chambermaid poked her head in "You wish something, m'ladies."

Putting on their best innocent faces they said together. "No, thank you."

After some experiments with books, pens, paper and a chair, they proceed to play tricks on their tutors. making things go away and come back. Eventually their mothers come in to confront them about it. and confess they have them too. Rapunzel asks if they'd noticed how big it was. When she explains that there doesn't seem to be a size limit demonstrating with a chair the queens also get a look on their faces. but restrain themselves from squeeing. NOT

"Pascal can you get in Rose's hammerspace?" He shrugs and walks over to her, she rolls onto her stomach and he climbs on her back and vanishes. He reemerges and nods.

"I wonder fi I could do that?" Rapunzel places her hand on Rose's back and sort of feels around and her hand disappears. "Oh. I think I found it." she reaches in and pulls out a few acorns. She reaches in again and then uses two hands to reach in as deep as she can. She even puts her head in, but quickly pulls it out.

"Ooh, what's it like in there?"

"It's pitch black, I can't see anything. but it feels warm and big as I can reach."

"Can I try."

"Sure." Rose starts feeling around and also finds the way in, going so far as to stick her head and shoulders in.

"You're right, it is nice and warm, and it does feel big. And totally dark."

"Oh, how about that chair?"

"Girls, I know it is hard being cooped up in your beds but do try to be nice to the tutors. They are trying to help you become ready for being princesses and the duties you're going to have to perfrom. You do know that is important?"

"Yes, mother."

"Yes, mama."

"Then why are you being so mean to them?"

"We're not really trying to annoy them we've just be having fun, we figured out our hammerspaces the other day and we are having a hard time not playing with them."

The queens look at each other and then the girls, "Hammerspaces?"

"Oh, you know," Rapunzel reaches behind her and pulls out her frying pan.

"Oh, that, of course. You mean you didn't know about it before?"

"We did, but we figured out we both can do it."

"Well, okay but then why…?"

"What's the biggest thing you've ever put in it?" interrupted Briar Rose.

"Let's see I have a lipstick and a small mirror," pulling them out.

"Well, watch this." Briar Rose taps Rapunzel on the arm who flips on her belly. Briar Rose picks up a chair and inserts in into Rapunzel's hammerspace. The Queens mouths dropped open.

"Ta-da."

They all got great big smiles on their faces.

Meanwhile downstairs where the Kings were going over the maps in the war room.

"Did you hear that?" King Stefen

"No, what?"King Hubert

"Yes, it sounded like someone going, 'squee.'"King Leonard.

The Kings all shrug and go back to their maps and tin soldiers.

Rapunzel was looking at the ceiling, her feet were hurting badly today, too much to concentrate on reading or anything else. Briar Rose was trying to nap next to her, it was their quiet time in the afternoon, where they could rest, read, or nap and everyone else could go get some lunch. Sitting in a chair was possible but after a while it became too uncomfortable and their feet would be throbbing. so they spent most of their time in bed. Pascal was curled up between them near their feet also sleeping.

Rapunzel wasn't bored exactly she just wished she could do something else for a change. Briar Roses tower room was very nice, she could look out the window for a long time and see so far away. so much further then she could see from her tower. but the room was so plain, it was all rock. Rapunzel wished she could paint it or something because as interesting as granite is it's dark and kinda gloomy. But there was no way to reach the walls without sitting and their feet were still healing and needed to be up so they wouldn't hurt so much. They would get in chairs so the beds could be changed and it would take forever for their feet to stop throbbing.

"When I was back in my tower I could hang from the rafters and paint the hard to reach places. I had my hair then and that was fun." Rapunzel thought to herself. "If I still had my hair I could climb into these rafters and hang down and paint, though I'd have to find a different way to hold on then with my toes." An idea struck her, she reached behind her and pulled out Eugene's rope out of her hammerspace and she hefted it. It wasn't the same as her hair but she wondered. Her first throw missed completely, it was harder when laying down. Her second bounced off of the rafter, her third just limply lay over the rafter, but her fourth try made a good knot. Slowly she climbed her way up carefully keeping her damaged feet from touching anything, soon she was sitting up in the rafters with a smile on her face.

Briar Rose rolled over, she had felt something on the bed change while she slept and had reached out for her sister and didn't find her. She awoke and sat up, looking around quickly for Rapunzel.

"Up here." called Rapunzel. Briar Rose looked up and her mouth made an O of astonishment.

"How did you get up there?"

"I just climbed up. I used to do this all the time in my tower. I might not have my hair anymore but Eugene's gift of rope works just fine."

"Can I come up?"

"Sure."

Briar Rose, scooted over to Rapunzel's side of the bed and began to pull herself up. By the time she got up to the rafter she was glistening, because princesses don't sweat.

"It's a bit harder when you can't use your feet." she panted once she had pulled herself up next to her spirit-sister. "I loved to climb in the trees, the squirrels always had something fun to show me, usually a really good cache of nuts, but sometimes flowers. And I'd have to climb up to see the baby birds. I once asked the squirrels which the tallest tree was and we all climbed it together, there were thousands of squirrels with me, it was so amazing to look over the whole forest from above like that. Like a green ocean."

Rapunzel was pulling up the rope now. "Oo, that sounds amazing. I used to hang from the rafters so I could paint the walls of my tower."

"You painted on the walls too." said Briar Rose eagerly. "I painted the walls of my cottage too."

They were both grinning now, the pain of their feet forgotten for the moment.

"Here, let me show you a trick I used to do, so I could have both hands free for painting." As Rapunzel threw the rope over another rafter and tied it a few times around her waist.

The Queens came up the stairs to check on their girls after their afternoon nap. Finding the beds empty, a look of concern grew on their faces. "Rapunzel. Aurora. Girls!"

"Hi, mama."

"Oh, hi, mom."

The queens looked up.

Rapunzel was holding Briar Rose up as she swung around on the end of the rope trying to keep her balance. They both had big smiles on their faces.

Queen Leah gave a gasp, while Queen Rebecca looked nonplussed. Queen Rebecca put a hand on Queen Leah's arm who was trembling and said calmly, "Easy."

"Look at what we did. We figured out a way to get around without using our feet." Aurora cheered.

Rapunzel pulled Aurora up so she could steady herself on a rafter. She could tell that their mothers weren't happy about this.

"Would you mind coming down, girls?" asked Queen Rebecca.

"Okay."

"Yes, mama."

After repositioning the rope Rapunzel lowers Briar rose onto the bed and then herself.

Rapunzel is looking down, even though Briar Rose is still excited and Queen Leah looks worried.

"I take it you're feeling better." Queen Rebecca smiles.

Rapunzel looks up. "I just wanted to get off of the bed, it's so tiring just laying here, but the chair makes my feet hurt. I found Eugene's gift and decided to try it out on the rafters, it's not like my hair but it works."

"Yes, it does. We were just discussing about whether it was time to bring in a tutor and continue your lessons. I think it is."

"Yes, mama."

"Could we have some paint, too?" chimed in Briar Rose.