A/N: Finally writing some darker-ish Tangled stuff. Got this idea while watching the movie yesterday.
Disclaimer: Not owning Tangled.
"I just need to grab some personal things," she promises as she takes his hand and pulls him through a curtain of leafy vines, through the stone tunnel, and into her long-untouched valley once more.
He looks up at the tower now and relives the moment when he first saw it: safety, security, and victory. And now that their adventure is over, he knows what it means to him now: independence, hope, and beauty.
As they approach the base of the twisted monument, Rapunzel circles the base, heading towards the river that bends to the right of it. She finds stones ripped aside that lead into a small tunnel. After all, her mother had to be getting in and out somehow before her hair was long enough to climb. "Here. Come on."
She steps inside and feels the musty air hit her, making her cough for a moment. Eugene joined his fiancée in the dank, dark space. "What're you looking for?" he asks, hoping to isolate what they need so they can go in and get out as quickly as possible.
Rapunzel doesn't respond. She's lost in the memories of this place. Atop fireplace mantel is her hairbrush and nearby is the stool her mother would sit on. Every wall is littered with art that she'd poured her heart and soul into for the first eighteen years of her life. Her heart clenches in her chest.
"Let's just head upstairs," she says after a long silence and moves her way towards the stairs, padding up them on bare feet.
Eugene follows mutely.
And the disaster zone is just how they'd left it. A shattered mirror on the ground, flecks and shards glittering the floor with reflected sunlight from the forever-opened window. Dried blood pools next to the wooden pillar, chains strapped around it like a torture chamber. The handkerchief used as a gag lies limp on the floor, still knotted. And the whole room is dark.
She stands there in the darkness, the full-realization of what had happened six months ago finally settling in. She had lost her hair. Eugene had died. Her mother had withered into dust. And yet, she'd been basking in freedom and romance ever since, her mind so distant from the past she'd abandoned in this tower that she hadn't even thought about the terror that occurred there and given her this life.
"Rapunzel..." He can't find words to say. His own hand goes to his abdomen where there should be a scar but there is no scar and the whole scenario feels so surreal now that he's a pseudo prince and living with the girl of his dreams and enjoying life so thoroughly. Memories of blood race through his skull, and he touches his wrist where the shackles once bound him. Everything of that moment feels impossible now. Magic. True love. A beautiful disaster.
Her mother is dead. She knows it. But her head brings her back to days when Mother taught her to read and write and how to sing songs. She remembers the time when she first realized how special she was because of her glowing hair. All of it comes back in spurts and blobs of previous and tainted memories. The princess can now see the evil in her so-called mother as all of these recollections pass.
He doesn't want to say anything, so he's relieved when she utters, "My paint set is up in my bedroom. I've got a few books up there too that I might need your help with." As she begins to move her way towards a shorter flight of stairs, Eugene simply follows, torn between comforting her and keeping his mouth shut.
She enters the space and looks up at the ceiling, seeing all the stars in her art once again. The lost princess, she recalls with a sad half smile. Rapunzel moves to a small desk on the side of the room and begins to collect her personal belongings.
There's a certain level of curiosity he believes he should have in his future wife's childhood home, but here, he just feels the death and despair weighing on his beloved's shoulders. He wants to be excited and ask questions and show interest in her life before he showed up, but the simple realization is that she had very little life before he showed up and that there was even less to question. She had an oppressive mother, no father figure, and no outside contact. And as much as he wants to ask to see all the art around the tower, he doesn't want her to have to take him on a full tour of the place- it might bother her psyche more.
Instead of pestering or being curious, he walks up beside her and asks in a soft, gentle voice, "Can I help carry something?"
She piles a stack of ten books in his arms and balances the box that holds her paint set on top of it. "You can carry all that," she responds with a bit of a half smile as she tries to brush the short brown strands behind her ears for the thousandth time that day. "If you're strong enough, that is."
"Anything for you, princess." His voice even holds a short laugh.
Rapunzel watches him leave the room to put the books down in Maximus's saddle. Then her eyes drift around the room as memories flood her eyes, overlapping and replaying as her mother is suddenly her greatest treasure and yet her worst nightmare at the same time.
Her heart hurts.
Eugene is very quickly back in the room and comes to her side, putting one hand on her shoulder and giving a squeeze. "You alright?"
It isn't something she wants to answer truthfully, but she does anyways. "Not really."
"That's okay," he tells her. He leans over and kisses her caramel crown of hair. "It's hard, but time heals all things. You'll understand it all someday and hopefully make peace with everything."
She remains quiet.
"Do you want to clean up that room?" he asks, gesturing towards the doorway with his thumb, the door that leads to the blood and the chains and the shattered mirror. The door that leads to the realm of the dead.
"No." Rapunzel refocuses her energy on collecting her things. "I can't cover up what she did to me. She held me as a prisoner, Eugene." Her hands are now grabbing at anything she deems important enough to take back to her new life and taint the future with the past. "I'm not going to clean up her mess or forgive what she did or..."
When her words disappear, he squeezes her shoulder again. "Then we'll leave it as it is."
She collects the last of her books and art and little trinkets before they depart from her bedroom again. Once more, the cracked mirror picks up the sun's light and makes the room glow a sickening white color. Rapunzel just wants to leave. "She ruined so many lives," the princess mutters before her fiancée herds her along, not wanting her to relive the past that hurt her so badly.
But he views the entire ordeal to be one beautiful disaster. True love. Freedom. Life.
A/N: Please leave a review. Thanks for reading (: