The inspiration bug bit me ^^ (Or we are jst arriving to the part that I've been waiting for since this whole story started.) Anyways, here is a new chapter and now I'm going back to writing more :P
Oh, one more thing: nothing belongs to me from either stories.
Little feet paddled on the wooden floor around Pitch as the girl danced around his sitting form.
The Nightmare King and his new 'puzzle' were in the living area of the tower. The spirit occupied the chair which had been mostly used by Gothel when she was combing through Rapunzel's hair. Watching his little companion circling around him with a determined expression was more than amusing. Determined, as a five years old girl can be...
"Okay, so... How does the grass feel like?" the child blurted out finally.
"Have you ever stepped on the edge of that long hair of yours?" Pitch asked back without hesitation. "It's kinda like the same. Grass caresses your toes once you step on them. Feels soft and well... crispy. Sometimes crispy."
The girl excitedly ran beside the chair and let herself fall on her butt. Quickly grabbing some of her own hair she let the end of it fall over her bare feet first, then purposely stepped on it.
"Of course, grass would actually stand a bit more stiffly against your skin, not bend like your hair" Pitch added as he studied her face. Blonde hair, blonde eyebrows, purple eyes. He has seen this before, just couldn't grasp where.
"Uh-uhm... No, sorry, this does not really answer my question" Rapunzel concluded with a troubled wrinkle of her nose. "It's my turn again."
"Absolutely no way!" Pitch groaned. She used this very same excuse for the fifth time in a row.
It was his idea to play this little game. Changing turns they would answer each other's questions and while he was trying to find out what exactly this fearless creature was, Rapunzel was trying to know how the World... well, worked.
He was quite surprised at some of her questions though. The last one in particular was one of the more mature ones. When he heard her first question he thought that maybe if he came back a few years later, that would have proved to more avail, but by now, he couldn't get away.
After asking if the air really didn't taste like anything and if rain was actually the sky crying the little girl began to show some improvement which led to these grass-type questions.
So far Pitch only discovered that she has never left the tower and had no idea if there was a way out at all. Her eyes, have indeed, always been purple and her hair was glowing upon singing that particular little rhyme. Apparently it had the ability to heal. Or as the girl put it, it kissed the pain away in her scars, if she had any and always made mother look so amazingly beautiful.
'The more I try to know about her, the more questions there is' Pitch thought to himself, getting more and more annoyed about the unanswered questions.
"Okay, fine" Rapunzel pouted. "Ask, but quickly. I wanna know how birds fly!"
Chuckling, Pitch decided that he was in a generous mood and answered. The girl was simply endearing even to him.
"Birds have hollow bones and feathers. The wind carries their light bodies, that's how they fly. Now, when you sing that..."
"Can I grow feathers?" she jumped to her feet suddenly. Like the whole universe turned into new lightning. "My hair grows very, very quickly. Maybe I could grow feathers too? Then I could go out and see everything!"
Pitch immediately thought of the young Tooth. The feathery fairy could be Rapunzel's most envied person if she ever knew that such spirit existed. Quickly wiping the though from his head he looked down into the hopeful little eyes.
"I'm sorry, little one. It's not possible for you."
Much to his own surprise he felt a small 'pang' in his chest as tears welled up beside the purple eyes. Bravely trying to hide her sadness the girl tried to wipe them away but within seconds her shoulders were shaking.
This was an occurrence that Pitch had no idea what to do with. Due to lack of better plan he put his hand on the girl's hair and gently stroked it. His eyes widened as after such little encouragement Rapunzel darted for his leg and hugged it almost painfully tight. His gaze softened as he realized how lonely this small child has been all her short life.
"There, little one" he shooed as best as he could. This all felt so alien to him, none ever needed his comforting. "Why would you need feathers? You are..."
Struggling, what did little girls like to hear when they were sad? He knew what they didn't but that's not what he wanted right now.
"You are already so beautiful, feathers couldn't possibly improve you" there, the perfect ending.
"I just thought... Maybe if I could fly I could go out..." Rapunzel confessed and wiped her nose on Pitch's cape. Much to the spirit's horror. Snot... Snot on his cape... Snot! Swallowing hard, he fought the urge to gag and shout at the girl for doing such disgusting act. "And I could always come back so mom wouldn't be angry at me. I don't want her to be angry. I just want one more friend. Because then I would have you and somebody else to talk to when it's daytime."
Looking up at the spirit, she tightened her hug a bit more.
"Because we are friends, right?"
Pitch heard so much hope in her voice that he could only nod instead of telling her that he had no idea, since he has never had a friend before.
Jack Frost hummed as he processed yet another piece of the big picture. Okay, so once, long ago Pitch was capable of not destroying everything he saw. Quite the deal.
"So, I assume you went back to her" he concluded.
"Genius deduction" came the sarcastic answer.
"Okay, and what about her questions? Did she get answers to everything?"
Scratching behind his ear and rearranging some of his own white hair, Jack reminded Pitch of a lost puppy once again. In ways he could almost see some resemblance between the curious little girl, Rapunzel used to be, and the teenage boy who was annoying him right now. Annoying and listening...
"She did. I returned, in the beginning, just once or twice a week. Sometimes I didn't even visit her for a week. But somehow I always ended up going back to her" Pitch reminisced. "It soon became a habit. A year passed by and day by day she grew bolder. She would draw little sketches of me and hid them from her mother. She let me teach her about the World and always asked for stories and I always left her before dawn. Then on her sixth birthday I gave her something that led to a whole set of new legends."
Jack held his breath. This was getting more and more interesting.
As night fell over the meadow and the candle in Gothel's room was put out, Pitch's shadow quickly climbed the side of the building. As always the window was left open, even though it wasn't necessary.
Out of habit he asked himself why had he returned and upon not finding an answer once again, he formed in the middle of the room. For weeks, Rapunzel has been going on and on about her birthday. He was positive that she would appear any second now.
The piddle-paddle of feet hit his ears soon as the small body hurried down the stairs. Instead of wearing her usual white nightgown, this time Rapunzel wore a midnight blue princess dress. He knew that she had been begging her mother for one.
"Well, look at that" he smiled flashing his teeth at the girl. How she didn't fear him was beyond him, even after all this time. "What a wonderful little princess we have here."
Blushing and giggling she made a whole turn to show her dress off to Pitch as she continued her way to him. Barely avoiding tripping over her own hair. In the past year it grew way more than what was natural. By now it was twice the height of the girl.
"Look what mom made me!" she muttered in awe. "It's blue! And it fits and I even got shoes to match it!"
Proudly poking out her little foot under the hem of the skirt she presented the matching blue leather footwear.
"It even has a small heel!" she pointed. "It's almost like mommy's big girl shoes."
"Amazing" Pitch smiled as he lowered himself to her level. "Happy birthday, little one."
"You remembered'" whit a huge grin she threw her arms around the spirit's neck and hugged him. It was no surprise for him anymore though the first few times he was honestly taken aback by her embraces.
"You hardly let me forget. Now tell me, what would you like for this very special occasion?" he asked, even though he already knew the answer. Rapunzel has been nagging him about it for a whole month now.
Judging by her expression, he was well aware that the girl realized that she was getting just what she has been asking for. Excitedly she stomped on her own legs, almost rocking herself.
"Will you take me outside?" the tentative whisper left her mouth.
Standing up, Pitch reminded himself to declare the rules. He has been arguing about this with her since the first time the question's been raised. Of course, he was capable of protecting her but she has never been outside and true to be told, a cold shiver ran down his spine every time he thought that it's inevitable that once they were outside he'd have to frighten her. For the first time in his life he didn't want to see fear in a child's eye and feel the strength draining from her to him.
"Yes, little one, I'll take you out" he began pacing around her. "But you must promise me a few things."
"Sure" the girl sat down on her little stool as she watched and listened. Even though she tried to sit still, she couldn't help wriggling. This was going to be so much fun!
"First of all, tonight we are not leaving this meadow. You won't leave my side and most importantly, you won't go anywhere near the trees, alright?" seriousness taunted his voice. He had his doubts about this little affair. "The second thing, if you feel anything strange. Scared or anything you tell me that instant."
"But Pitch, you'll know. You told me you can feel when I'm afraid or something."
"Yes, and I've also told you that the fear you've felt so far has nothing to do with actual horrors you could feel" he reminded her. "I have never had the chance to inflict real fear upon you. There's always been someone to calm you and you never had to look fear in the eye."
Giggling, she eyes her tall friend.
"I'm looking you in the eye right now."
"Very funny" Pitch rolled his golden orbs. "You must promise me, little one. I know what I'm capable of and truth to be told I..."
'I don't want you to know' he finished the sentence in his own head. There was no need to say it out loud. Even though Rapunzel didn't grasp his exact reasons, his behavior was enough to make her aware of the seriousness of the situation.
"I promise I'll do everything as you say" Rapunzel nodded. Standing up as a proper lady she made sure that not a single wrinkle crossed the fabric of her dress. "Can we go now?"
Silently Pitch stood beside her and reached down.
"Hold onto my neck and don't let go until I say so!"
Who would have thought that protecting someone from his own self was so hard work? With the girl in his arms he walked over to the window and opened it as wide as he could. This time he could not take his shadow form. He didn't dare to risk it with the girl in his arms.
He could feel the tiny arms fasten a bit more around his neck but the girl's expression was full of excitement and not terror. Carefully he climbed onto the windowsill and gently began to lower themselves.
Rapunzel wanted to laugh, to scream, to shout. Wind caressed her face freely. Not just a little blow of air which wandered through the window, but actual wind. Like silk playing with her cheeks. Even though the sky was dark, the moon cast a silvery gloom all over the clearing. As soon as they hit the ground she let go of Pitch's neck and could barely wait for him to put her down.
Slowly the spirit lowered her on the ground and for the first time in her life, she could feel the grass under her shoes. Without hesitation she bent down and unfastened them to step on the ground barefoot.
"How do you like it?"
Rapunzel's mouth hung open as her eyes reflected with the moonlight. The wind's voice in her ears sounded like a very soft and ancient lullaby. As it passed between the trees she could almost understand its speech.
Oh and the smells. They were so much stronger than what she could feel from the tower. The ground, the old trees, the moss on their sides welcomed her without question.
"You made her happy" Dante's voice sounded in his mind. "But so you think that this was a wise decision?"
"Don't spoil it for her, just shine" Pitch almost growled, but most of his attention was focused on the girl taking her first careful steps. She got bolder and bolder with every second.
As he commanded, Dante shone as bright as he could on his brother and his little friend, almost making it appear if the meadow was lit with broad daylight.
"Come" Pitch gestured for the girl and began walking with her. "We don't have much time and I want to show you something else."
Curiously, Rapunzel followed him a bit farther from the tower. The Nightmare King explained his plan as they walked side by side.
"I want to give you something else. You remember the hounds I told you about, right?"
"Of course" this day couldn't get any better. If she got to see those mysterious nightmare creatures too then it would be her most amazing birthday ever. No, not only her most amazing birthday. The most amazing birthday in the history of all time. She had no doubts about that.
"I'd like you to meet one of them, if you can see him" Pitch had his doubts. Seeing him was one thing, seeing his hounds was entirely different. "I choose one who can't really scare you. I'd say he's one of the first fears and child would meet in her life. Even you dreamt with him. But just to make sure, you are not afraid of sudden sounds anymore, are you?"
Rapunzel shook her head. How old did he think she was, three? Sure, when she was little some sudden sounds could make her cry but by now she knew that when a pot fell down there was no harm in it.
"Alright then" Pitch whistled and on the edge of the trees, out from the shadows, a hound formed. "Come, boy."
Following his Master's order, the dog darted for the two people and stopped a few steps away from them. He was almost as tall as the girl beside him. Pitch didn't even have to ask if Rapunzel saw the dog.
"Woah" eyes as huge as a plate she eyed the animal. "He is made of sand?"
"Not..." thinking about how to clarify the basics of dream sands Pitch gave up the idea of correcting her. "Yes, a very special kind of dark sand."
"Can I pet him?"
Shaking his head, pitch kneeled down to the level of his two companions. He knew that the dog wouldn't attack the girl unless he commanded.
"You can but please bear in mind that when you touch him, you'll hear something" he knew what effect the hound would have on the girl. "It'll only last a minute and then it'll go away."
The hound eyed the small child's hand as it reached for him. The master never let anyone touch them before. They were commanded to follow some people, but to be touched by them. It almost felt like an honor.
The second her fingertips touched the sandy fur, Rapunzel heard the most intense sound ever. A fork being pulled on the bottom of an old, empty pan. A huge book falling down on the ground. A slightly startled scream. So many of them at once that she couldn't even make out most of them. Goosbumps roose on her arms and back. It was nearly unbearable. The pressure in her ears only hightened, reaching apoint where it almost hurt.
Just about when she was sure her ears would simply fall off her head, it was over.
"Are you okay, little one?" Pitch asked. The girl's hand was now buried in the fur of the hound. She seemed a bit shaken but generally okay.
"It was... strange. But I'm fine" Rapunzel concluded and flashed him a small smile. "But I like him."
"Good" Pitch nodded. He wasn't enterily sure that she was as fine as she thought but no permanent harm had been done. "I would like you to have him, so to say. If you need me, you can call on him."
The girl got more and more caught up in scratching the animal's body. After giving a good rub to his back, she began to caress the face. Pure bliss was written over the hound'sfeatures. He loved this girl. None ever touched them except for the master.
"Whenever you need me, you can just call his name. He will find me and bring me too you, you understand?"
"And what's his name?" the child laughed as she received a lick from the dog.
"He's Sound" Pitch grinned. Naming his dogs has always been easy. Always grabbing the essence of them. "And he will answer your calls, but you must have a shadowy point wherever you are, or he won't be able to come. Neither can I. If you want to see us, you always need to close the curtains."
Memorizing the facts Rapunzel once again turned to the spirit.
"Thank you, Pitch. This is the best birthday ever."
"I'm glad, little one" he smiled. "But come now, we must get you back. Enough excitement for our little princess."
"But you'll bring me out here again sometimes, right?" she asked hopefully.
"We will talk about it."
Dante, who was, watching the whole time had to chuckle. He knew who the girl was. He knew about the flower and her true family. Ever since Pitch began to visit her, Dante has been wondering if he should tell his brother. He figured that Pitch would find out if it was important.
Even though he found it a bit strange for the spirit to have a human friend, he could see no harm in it as long as the girl didn't possess any fears. As much as it seemed impossible, he could see, that his dark brother cared for this little human. A slight feel of guilt passed over him.
Before the Dark Ages, Pitch begged him for someone to have as a companion, but he was so caught up in his own plans and creatures that he would deny his own brother a physical friend. In a way, he was to blame for Pitch getting so out of hand and destroying half of the World by inflicting fear upon every breathing creature. He was lonely and bored. Which was no excuse, but still, if he had someone to talk to...
But what happened had been done and none could change it now. Dante saw as Pitch led the girl up into her own room and said his goodbye. He hasn't seen him so content for the past century, all thanks to this little girl.