Untangled, by Chloe Riggs

(A fan fiction based on the movie Tangled).

A lullaby rings through my ears as my eyes take in the sight in front of me. A crib is perched on the side of the room, a mobile with the imprint of a golden sun hanging from the ceiling above it. A beautiful baby girl lays in the bed, her golden hair glimmering in the moonlight. I stay off to the side, admiring her peaceful state of sleep.
All too soon, she starts to wiggle around as the moonlight is blocked from her. An elderly woman, sits perched on the windowsill with grey curls of hair sitting on her shoulders. She scans the room, ignoring my presence and the presence of the baby girl’s parents in the bed next to me, before focusing her gaze on the small being in front of her. She jumps off the sill, running her fingers through the little girl’s hair. Pulling out a pair of scissors, she brings it towards a lock of hair, aiming the blade just right, and sings a melody:

“Flower gleam and glow,

Let your power shine,

Make the clock reverse,

Bring back what once was mine.

Heal what has been hurt, 

Change the fate’s design,

Save what has been lost,

Bring back what once was mine

What once was mine.”

The baby begins to cry out as the cut strip of hair turns brown. The woman stares at the piece in horror, but only for a second before she realizes the alarmed state the baby is in. She stares at the sleeping king and queen, expecting someone to bolt out of bed, but no one does. Instead, the only sound to be heard is the baby’s effortless wails. She picks her up, cradling her in her arms.

Where are they? Why is no one waking up? This is not how it is supposed to go.

I try to move towards the old woman, to stop her, but my feet are stuck in place. I look down, but nothing is on the floor to keep me rooted. I try again, but nothing happens. I decide to scream, hoping it will aid the baby’s cries. Instead, the silence stays as the room grows colder and the king and queen sleep peacefully. I watch as the old woman disappears, throwing her cloak over the baby in her arms. She stares me in the eye, an inviting smile drawn on her lips, but an apologetic look in her eyes.

I toss in my sleep, waking myself from the lurring dream. My hair falls on my face as I plop onto my back. Gingerly pulling the strands back, I adjust my eyes to wake as streaks of light creep through the room. 

“Rapunzel?” a light voice sings through the door. 

I toss in the sheets, making the bed creak underneath me. 

“The sun is up, which means you should be too.” 

I do not answer, hoping the voice will disappear and I can dive back into the ending pit of sleep. I think my wish has come true when I am left in complete silence. Tugging the sheet towards my face, I welcome sleep back into my body.

I groan as the same voice calls out to me, “It is time to get up, Rapunzel.” This time she sounds more stern.

The forbidding voice in my head calls out to me, a princess always wakes up with the sun.

Giving up, I move my head out of the pit of my blanket and pillows, but my golden hair falls back onto my face. After peeling the strands from my cheeks, I watch Beatrice pick an outfit out, a purple dress draped over her arm. She dangles the clothing on the folding screen and circles back towards me when she is done. 

She stares down at me with expecting eyes, but I move my attention to my feet poking out underneath the thin white sheet. “Rapunzel, you must get up. You have a busy day ahead of you. You must visit the…”

“…sick, meet Julian for my lesson, visit the local farms, and see the little girls in the village,” I finish her list of my daily tasks. 

“Do not forget your picnic with the prince of Galcrest.”

“How could I possibly forget the boy I am to be engaged to?” A boy who more than likely acts like a narcissistic brat. I throw the blanket off of me as I rise out of bed. I move behind the folding screen, hiding my figure from Beatrice as I clad myself in the outfit she picked for me to wear today. “I need assistance with my corset,” I announce. My scalp feels a slight tug as my hair is held out as a gesture for me to take ahold of it. I wrap my hands around the thick locks of hair, hanging it over my shoulder as the rest leaves a trail from my bed. Beatrice yanks on the strings, forcing me to suck in my gut and stand taller, but I begin to stumble backwards instead. After seventeen years, I still do not know how to balance myself correctly.

Beatrice continues the conversation, “I think you should give this young man a try.”

I continue dressing after she finishes and moves back towards the door. “I have yet to meet him, let alone marry him.” 

“From what I hear, he is a real catch.”

“I am sure that he is,” finally dressed, I move out from behind the screen, “but do you not think I should know him before I marry him?” 

“Why of course, which is why you both will be accompanying one another to a picnic in the afternoon.” She opens the door for me when I reach her location. “Now, you must be on your way to see Julian for your lesson.”

Hours go by as I tend to patient after patient, while Julian teaches me my lesson for today. He paces the small room, asking me various questions as I heal the never-ending line of injured people. I wrap my hair around the village’s blacksmith’s arm, covering the bruised and bloodied skin. “Hold still for me,” I tell the blacksmith as Julian stops talking to allow me to heal the man in front of me. Closing my eyes, I sing the familiar lyrics:

“Flower gleam and glow,

Let your power shine,

Make the clock reverse,

Bring back what once was mine.

Heal what has been hurt, 

Change the fate’s design,

Save what has been lost,

Bring back what once was mine

What once was mine.”

I open my eyes, expecting everyone to look at me in astonishment, instead the man pulls his arm out of my hair’s hold, thanks me, and exits the room as Julian picks back up on his lesson. He is repeating something about the history of the kingdom, but I unintentionally drown every word out. I greet the next person, staring down at the wound on his shoulder. It looks to have been from an arrow. I envy him as I would much rather being unexpectedly shot at than repeat the same predictable tasks everyday.

“Did you hear me, My Lady?” Julian pulls me out of my daze. 

He must have asked me a question. I rack my brain, hoping I can conjure up an answer at least somewhat similar to his topic. “Of course I did,” I lie as a nagging voice in the back of my head scolds me. 

A princess never lies as she must always tell the truth, it voices.

“Carry on,” I instruct Julian as he stares at me with a hesitant look in his eyes. 

“We should be there soon,” the coachman informs me, throwing a smile over his shoulder. I give a small smile back, allowing him to focus on his task. 

A few more minutes. That is the amount of time I have left before entering into a relationship with a man I have not known, let alone love. A princess shall always marry a prince, my mind reminds me. I try to ignore the churning feeling in my stomach as we gradually grow closer to the picnic. This is what is meant to happen. 

The carriage stops a quarter of a mile farther as the knights walking beside us halt their steps. I look to my right, noticing one of the soldiers with his hand extended to me. His golden chest plate, with an imprint of the sun, and his golden cap shimmer in the sunlight. I stand up, crouching low enough to not hit the ceiling as I gently lay the palm of my hand on his. I’m thankful for the white glove on his hands as it will hide the sweat on mine.

“I will walk you down, M’lady,” he informs me. I follow his lead down the hill, being sure to hold my dress high enough in order for me to keep an eye on where I step. We stop by a river, but when Gainey stays silent, I look up and notice the riderless horse. It’s white figure dips its head into the river, drinking the clear water. 

“Something is not right,” Gainey voices, but I have a feeling I was not meant to hear it. “I am going to check something out for a minute. Wait here, M’lady. Clifford!” he yells to one of the guards by the carriage, summoning him towards us. “Stay here with the princess for a moment.”

“No!” I cry out. If they both go, I can have some time to calm my nerves and think. Ignoring the words of warning in the back of my head, I explain myself to the confused soldiers. “What I meant to say was you both should go. I will be alright on my own and if anything were to happen, I will yell for you.”

“M’lady, I-”

“I insist on the both of you going. If only you go, how will we know you are not dead and someone is waiting to strike with you out of the way.” I hope they do not catch the loopwhole in my words, but as they share a conversational look, I fear they caught my bluff.

“If anything happens, take the horse and ride as far as you can manage,” Gainey agrees, surprising me. I nod my head, complying to his request. They both dive further into the forest, each having a hand placed on the swords in preparation. 

I wait for them to be out of sight before I finally take a breath. I am sure it is nothing too serious, nothing dreadful has happened in Corona ever since my birth. Besides the occasional thief, there is no reason to sound any alarms. I do understand why they went to search, though. On top of it being their job, they are afraid; afraid of messing up again.

I move towards the horse, being careful to not startle it as I graze my fingertips on its neck. It turns its face to me, no sign of fear etched into his eyes. “Maximus,” I read aloud as I notice the name carved into his harness. There is the imprint of a sun below it; he must be a horse of the palace, which would explain why Gainey felt something was wrong. 

I hear a rustling in the leaves and the churning feeling in my stomach returns. I try to brush it off, but the hair on the back of my neck stands up. Focusing my attention on where the guards left, I hear the faint sound of a cry in pain. I make eye contact with Maximus, before leaping onto his back. I kick my heels into his sides after grabbing the reins, motivating him to move in the opposite direction of the woods. 

I could ride the pathway back to castle, but I do not know the way and it will leave me out in the open. I need to get somewhere where I will be out of sight, at least for a little while. I have no idea how I am going to get out of this mess. At this moment, the only thing I am thankful for is the leather on Max’s reins as it would slip through my sweaty hands if it was not and the fact of my hair being tied into a braid, leaving less of a trail to follow. 

Seconds pass by, then minutes, then possibly hours. I am not sure how long it has been, but it feels like a neverending nightmare. I am cowering behind a tree, listening to every leaf that crunches, every bird that chirps, and every rustle of the wind. We had to stop; Maximus was getting tired and I did not want to get too far from the kingdom. 

All of a sudden, I hear the snap of a twig, and my heart rate skyrockets. I feel shaky and anxious as I wait for someone to jump in front of me or to yank on my hair and pull me out of my hiding spot. Nothing happens, at least nothing as dangerous as that. Instead, a masculine voice sounds out through the trees. 

“Still don’t like me?” he asks, followed by a groan from what sounds to be Max.

Gaining some courage, I swallow the lump in my throat and peek out from behind the tree trunk, keeping all but my face hidden. I watch the man standing adjacent to Maximus, slowly edging towards him, but not in a threatening way. He is clad in a blue vest, his white undershirt poking out around his arms, but the sleeves are rolled up to his elbows. The bottom of his brown pants are stuffed into his knee-high boots, which are laced with mud. I move my attention to his face, noticing the stubble on his chin, the chisel of his facial features, and the sloppy, yet neat lay of his chocolate copper hair. 

“We have to communicate in order for this relationship to work.” He talks to this horse as if it is a human being. 

For some reason, this calms the storm in my stomach and I unknowingly inch further out from behind the tree, in order to gain a closer look. In the blink of an eye, a branch snaps under my feet and I regret the move I made. In an instant, the man’s eyes snap up to me meet mine, Maximus following his gaze, as I fall back behind the tree, hoping he did not see me and I imagined it all. 

“Hello?” he calls out, but I do not answer, instead my breathing increases as I feel the sudden need to faint. “I am not so sure who you are, but I do not think hiding behind that tree will conceal your identity for long.”

He does not know who I am? He did not see my hair? My crown? 

“Who are you?” I question, gaining back my courage.

I hear him scoff, but it does not sound like it was meant to be mocking, “I believe I just asked you the same thing.”

“If I am remembering correctly, you only stated that you do not know of my identity.”

Now he chuckles, easing the sick feeling in my stomach, “Fair point.” He pauses, maybe contemplating what to say next. “How about you come out from behind the tree and we will share our names?”

I lean my head against the oak, my hair acting as a cushion. A princess never gives into the temptation of dangerous activities. The words ring through my head, but then another thought makes itself known. A princess is always polite, no matter the person or situation. After battling between the two, I straighten my back and slowly step into the sunlight, my eyes closed. 

When I open them, I almost wish I did not. He stares back at me, his intense gaze never wavering as his mouth hangs open before his jaw sets back in place, his eyes clouding over with an unfamiliar look. I stand taller, trying to make my confidence show. “Who are you?”

He seems to snap out of a daze he was in, shaking his head. “You have got to be kidding me,” he climbs onto Maximus, but Max squirms around as if trying to throw him off.

“Excuse me, this was not part of the deal.”

“There was no deal,” he looks at me over his shoulder. For some reason he seems angry with me. He begins to ride away, unsteadily sitting on Maximus. 

“I suppose you are not a man of your word, then.”

He stops, my words must have hit him harder than I planned. I hear another snap and crunches of the leaves on the soil. He must have heard it too because he turns towards me immediately, holding out his hand, he stops Max in front of me. “Get on, now.”

There is this look in his eyes, so intense I forget how to move. If I grab his hand, he could lead me toward my death, but if I stay here, the person who is making all of the ruckus could easily kill me. The small chance of it being one of the guards, just makes my stomach ache even more. I grab his hand and pull myself on the saddle behind him. 

“Hold on,” he orders me. I immediately oblige when Max starts to speed up and I almost fall off. 

Why am I doing this? We are going further and further away from the kingdom. At this rate, I may never find my way back, especially with the stranger I have my arms wrapped around. Then a ridiculous thought crosses my mind, what if he is the prince of Galcrest? I suddenly feel safer for some reason and lean my head against his back, tightening my hold around him.

He turns off the path, straying towards a rock wall with leaves covering the side of it. My first thought is to jump as that is obviously a piece of rock we are about to crash into. Instead, I tighten my grip and close my eyes, hoping I am wrong. 

I feel the vines of the plant run across my face, a shadow preventing the sun from hitting my eye lids. Max begins to slow underneath me, but I refuse to look up, too afraid of what happened.

“You can open your eyes now,” the stranger informs me, “and maybe loosen your grip a little. My shirt is starting to get drenched from your sweaty hands.”

I immediately loosen my hold, releasing the thin cloth from my fingers as I feel my face beginning to heat up. I can not believe he could tell I was sweating; I did not even know I was. I push myself off Max in defiance, not noticing the tower in front of us until I do.

Its built with moss covered gray stones and is topped with a pointed roof. The part in between the roof and the bricks looks to be a combination of a giant birdhouse and a cottage with only one opening overlooking the view outside. A waterfall flows behind it, but it looks small compared to the height of the tower. It almost makes me feel trapped, but its beauty calms my nerves instead. 

“Are you going to stand there all day?” He is now standing a few feet ahead, Max wandering off in search of food. 

“Who are you?” I ask for what feels like the hundredth time. I have to know for sure if he is the prince, but I am almost certain he is not any form of royalty 

He eyes me hesitantly, before looking down at his feet. As if finally mustering up some courage, he lifts his head, eyeing me with an almost amusing look. His eyes are narrowed, his face titled, and his eyebrows pinched together in an upward motion. Is he smoldering at me? 

“What are you doing?” 

He drops the act, “I’m sorry, this has been an off day for me. This doesn’t normally happen. The name’s Flynn Rider.” He holds his hand out to me.

I look at it warily, before deciding to shake it, “I am the princess of-”

“Yeah, I know.” He addresses me with a certain tone, one that makes me believe he could care less about my royal status. “C’mon. I suppose that since you already know the location of my home, I might as well welcome you inside,” he heads toward the tower, forcing me to follow. 

“You live here?” 

“Look, it may not be a fancy castle, but it has a nice view, one I am used to, and it is away from everyone else. Just how I like it.” He stops at the bottom of the tower and I wait for him to point out a set of stairs I might not have noticed, but instead, he takes out some arrows and stabs them into the cracks between the bricks, gradually ascending the tower. About half way up, he looks down at me, “Are you coming?” 

I observe the limited possibilities of how to make this climb. When my eyes land on a hook poking out of the opening, I begin to unbraid my hair. 

“I don’t think that doing your hair will help you out. Here, I’ll come back down and help you up,” he begins to descend the side of the tower.

I ignore him as I take my loose hair and throw it onto the hook. Yanking on it, I make sure it is tight enough before I begin to climb up the rope it formed. Flynn stares up at me, his mouth agape. “I do not think staring will help you out,” I point out. If I did not know any better, I would say there is the slightest hint of a grin on his lips.

I make it to the top before he does, his thin figure still halfway down the tower. The room is lit by the sun, but it does not shine onto anything. Instead, the only things in the room are a few pieces of dusty furniture, more specifically a wardrobe, a small table off to the side, and a cabinet for food. For some reason, my heart flutters at the sight, a million possibilities of what this place could be filtering through my head. I am sure that if he were to adjust some things, this place could really be something. 

I run my finger across the table, dust collecting on my fingertip as I notice myself in the mirror of the wardrobe. I stand in the shade, my small frame reflecting in the glass. My hair is loose, a little frazzled from the climb up. My shoes are drenched in mud, just like Flynn’s are. Staring into my own eyes, I see something different. Princesses are always clean, always neat, and every hair on their head must be straight and in line with the others. I am a princess, but my reflection does not resemble that, yet, I do not feel that pang of anxiety to fix everything that is wrong with my image. 

“I know the place may not be the best,” Flynn interrupts my thinking, “but do you mind not looking so glum?”

I meet his gaze in the mirror, realizing how calm my stomach is at the moment. “I think it has a lot of potential,” I confess, giving him a small smile as I turn around. 

His mouth twitches, as if fighting the urge to smile back, “Right.” He ends our stare as if suddenly remembering something and moves towards the curved stairs. 

“When will you be taking me home?” I really hope his home is just a stop on the way.

“Excuse me?”

“I assume you saved me for a reason and I doubt it was to lock me up in this tower for your own personal gain.”

“Look Blondie” he turns his attention back to me, leaning his arms on the railing.

“Rapunzel,” I cross my arms.

“Gazuntite. Look, I did not save you from anyone who could do any worse than I can. And having me escort you back is probably not the greatest idea.”

“Why is that? Are you some thief or something?” I say it as a joke, but when he looks at me with a serious face, my humor dissolves. “Oh my god, you are.” 

He seems to be over this conversation as he restarts his walk up the steps. 

“Am I supposed to just stand here for the rest of my life?”

  “You’re welcome to leave any time you want.”

I go back to the ledge, debating on jumping back out and running, but the thought of the unknown makes me nervous. I watch Max scour the area for something, sniffing the ground as if picking up on someone’s scent. When his head jerks up, is when I get that gut feeling something is wrong. I move my attention to the door of vines, where we entered this secluded area. Two men, almost identical, pass through it. They must be twins as the only differences they have are a scar and eyepatch. For some reason, their look is unsettling to me. 

They obviously can not be here as house guests, especially since they made Max run somewhere out of sight. I decide this is probably something I should warn Flynn about, so I shout his name. He comes down the stairs, “I told you that I’m not taking you home,” he says before noticing the panicked look on my face. “What’s wrong?” 

I gesture to the window, not knowing what to voice as an answer. He follows in the direction I pointed out, peering out the opening. When he sees the same people I did, he does not seem to be happy about the sight. 

“You have to hide,” he turns around, searching the room for the perfect hiding spot. 

“What?” Now he has moved to the wardrobe, sizing it up, but decides against it.

“Here,” his eyes land on a wooden plank blending into the floor design. He places a hand on my back, guiding me towards it. “In here.” He lifts the plank up, revealing a set of stairs. 

“You had stairs this entire time?” 

“I really don’t think now is the time to scold me. Now get in here and do not make a sound until I open it,” he pushes me inside and shuts the door before I can ask any more questions. 

It is too dark for me to actually see anything, which makes my stomach start churning. The thought of what could possibly be down here begins to take over mind. He could have trapped me down here with some monster that could jump out at any moment and kill me. When I hear his voice above me, I remember to take a deep breath and stop my irrational thoughts. 

“Hey guys, I was hoping you would pop by.” 

I hear large footsteps jump around, as a rough voice responds to Flynn. “Where is she, Rider?”

“Where’s who?” I hear a set of footsteps pace around the floor above me, everything else silent. 

“We saw you ride away with the princess. You have her hidden somewhere, don’t you? keeping her all to yourself.”

“And cheat you guys out of the deal? Never.”

When the footsteps stop on the plank of wood above me, my heart rate starts to increase. They caught his bluff. They know I am here. They can hear the beat of my heart. 

“There’s no one here,” another low voice interrupts my thoughts. 

“We better have her in our grasp soon, Rider,” the rough voice threatens. 

I listen to their footsteps gradually disappear, seconds passing by. When I hear a loud thud, I pray that it’s from their land at the bottom of the tower. Another minute passes before the panel is opened, light flooding the darkened stairwell. I look up at Flynn, his eyes scanning my face as if trying to read my expression. He opens the hatch the rest of the way, allowing me to climb out. 

“Is that why you were in the forest earlier?” I ask, not giving him any time to think.

“Yes.” he doesn’t explain any further and I can’t tell if I’m more relieved or angry to not know more. 

“Is that why you brought me here? To keep me to yourself?” I suddenly feel cold and wrap my arms around myself.

“Of course not. I couldn’t care less about you.”

That is not the answer I was expecting, and it almost feels like someone knocked all of the air out of me. 

“That’s not what I meant,” he must have noticed my reaction. “I meant that I’m not interested in your hair and selling you to the highest bidder.”

“Why then?”

“They will kill me if I don’t at least pretend to want to kidnap you. But kidnapping is not something I specialize in.

“Take me home.” I need to get out of here. Even if he saved me twice, he was still the reason I was in danger in the first place. 

“I could be hanged if anyone sees you with me.”

“I don’t see how you do not deserve it,” he narrows his eyes at me, “but I will keep it from happening.”

“How do I know you aren’t lying?”

“You just have to trust me; it’s only fair since I am putting my life in your hands.”

“Fine, but only if I get to have one favor,” he turns back to the annoying side of his personality. 

“Keeping your life is not enough?”

“Do you want me to get you home safely?”

“Fine, what do you want?” I drop my arms in exasperation.

“I’m sure I will know when the time comes.” He heads back towards the ledge, throwing one leg over.

“Why don’t you use the stairwell?” I ask, earning me a sly grin from him.

“You never know what could be lurking at the bottom.”

We walk on foot for the next hour or so, my feet beginning to ache. Max walks next to us and I am stuck wondering why we can not ride the horse back to the kingdom. I have managed to keep my mouth shut most of the walk, hoping I would get used to the pain in the feet, but the pain just increases with every step. 

“Why are we walking?” I voice my concerns, giving up on trying to be strong. 

“We should save Max’s energy for when we are chased.”

It is not so much the why we will be chased that scares me, but the fact that Flynn said ‘when’ instead of if. 

We walk a little longer, staying silent for the rest of the walk as I gather my thoughts. When the sun begins to go down, Flynn decides it would be a good idea to stop and rest. I find it hard to believe that we are still a few hours away from the kingdom when it took a shorter amount of time for me to get here. Then again, I did ride a carriage drawn by two horses and they only brought me out half of the distance to Flynn’s tower. 

We stop in a small patch of land surrounded by trees, the same place my picnic was supposed to be. I suddenly remember the Prince of Galcrest. The prince I was supposed to meet. The prince I was meant to marry. I wonder why he was not here earlier, but I push the thought away as I think of what happened from the prince not showing up for our date. 

I watch Flynn scour the place for any sign of other visitors, but nothing seems to stand out. I move towards him, preparing to help him look, but a sound startles me. I hear the rustle of leaves, but I tell myself it is the wind. I hear them crunch on the ground, but I tell myself it is fruit falling from trees and landing on top of the fallen leaves. When I see a bush begin to shake, however, I latch onto Flynn, wrapping my arms around him. He raises his hands, surprised by my actions. When a rabbit jumps out of the leaves, I feel like the biggest idiot in the world. 

“Stay calm, it can probably smell fear,” Flynn mocks. 

“Sorry, I guess the events from earlier have made me a little jumpy,” I unlatch myself from him, allowing him to turn around.

He eyes me as my face begins to heat up. “I should gather some firewood. Do you think you will be okay alone for a second?” 

“I am sure you will know if I am in danger.”

The corner of his mouth turns upward, lighting up his face. He heads into the trees, in search of the firewood. I turn my attention to the blanket still laid out on the ground, I am surprised no one cleaned the mess up. I suppose that is the least of their worries, though. I sit down, opening the basket perched next to me. Scanning its contents, I grab an apple and pass it to Max, who is standing next to me. 

For the first time since I met Flynn, the sick feeling in my stomach returns. I suddenly feel cold and lonely without his presence next to me. I hear the voice in the back of my head screaming at me for what I did. I see the events of today playing on repeat in front of my eyes. Forcing both of my guards to leave me behind. Meeting Flynn Rider. The thought of him somehow makes me relax and forget every negative thought running through my brain. 

He returns from his search and places the wood in a pile. He must cut his hand on one of the pieces because he mutters something under his breath as he stares at his palm. I stand up and and saunter towards him, already prepared to heal him. I kneel down beside him, gaining his attention as I see the small cut on his hand. 

“I don’t need you to heal me,” he reads my mind, denying me. 

“Would you rather suffer in silence?” I counter.

“I don’t want you to think I’m using you.”

For some reason this brings a smile to my lips. “I don’t.” I grab his hand, holding it out so I can wrap his palm with my hair. 

“I thought you were mad at me.”

I meet his burning gaze, “That does not mean I want you to suffer. Well, at least not physically.” He gives me a small smile. “Hold still.” I sing the words:

“Flower gleam and glow,

Let your power shine,

Make the clock reverse,

Bring back what once was mine.

Heal what has been hurt, 

Change the fate’s design,

Save what has been lost,

Bring back what once was mine

What once was mine.”

When I open my eyes, I see Flynn’s shocked expression as he stares at my glowing hair. It is something I have not witnessed since I was younger. I unwrap his hand, revealing the healed skin. He looks down at it, his expression making me think he is about to start screaming. 

“Don’t freak out,” I usher in, halting his reaction.

“I’m not freaking out. Are you freaking out?” he brings his hand to his chin, his voice rising, “No, I’m just very interested in your hair and the magical qualities it possesses.” He now has both of his hands stuffed underneath his arms. I giggle at his reaction as he takes a moment to sober up, “I’m sorry, you must see people freak out over your hair all the time.” 

“Actually, I don’t,” he looks at me with questioning eyes. “I heal every injury in my kingdom,” my head is low, so I do not have to meet his gaze. “We do not even use medicine anymore because everyone relies on me to fix everything. Seeing the shock in your face was refreshing, Flynn.” 

“Eugene.” I snap my head up, meeting his soft eyes. “My real name is Eugene Fitzherbert.”

The snap of a branch startles us, both of us turning our heads in the direction of the noise. Max looks at us apologetically, his hoof raised above a broken twig. Eugene and I chuckle, our nerves calming. 

“I should get this fire started,” he says and I head back to the blanket. 

When the fire is glowing, he moves next to me, sitting only a foot away. “Why did you change your name?” I study his face, watching for his reaction as he does the same to me. 

He turns his attention to the flames as he answers. “I used to read this book to all of the little kids when I was younger. The story of Flynnigan Rider. He was the richest man alive; a man who could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. I guess as a kid who had nothing, he was my hero. Someone everyone loved.” 

“I like Eugene better.” 

His gaze fixes on me and I feel the mood shift. A weird feeling makes itself present in my stomach, but it is not sickening. Instead, it flutters its way towards my chest. He turns towards me, placing the palm of his hand on my cheek. I lean into his touch, closing my eyes for a second. When I open them again, I see the intense look in his brown eyes as he edges his face closer to mine. I close my eyes again, waiting for his lips to meet mine, but when I feel his breath fan my face, something halts his actions. 

Another snap is heard in the distance and I pray that it is Max again, but the sick feeling returns, telling me it’s not. Eugene pulls away from me, allowing me to open my eyes and feel the cold air run across my flushed skin. The two brothers stand in front of us, their sinister smiles aimed at us. Eugene and I stand up as he blocks me from their view.

“I don’t think you want to do that, Rider,” the man without an eyepatch warns. 

“Run,” Eugene whispers to me. They start to inch towards us.

“I am not leaving you,” I whisper back.

“Take Max and run.”


“I will find you, just run.”

I climb onto Max, who was stationed behind us and kick my heels into his sides. I turn my head, watching the two guys, only a foot away from Eugene now, before the trees block them from sight. I turn my attention to the front of me, trying my best to keep my heart rate and breathing under control. We keep riding, but I am not sure how long it is until we stop. 

I slide off of the saddle and hide behind the nearest tree trunk. I wait for Eugene to walk out with that stupid grin of his plastered on his lips. I try to listen to the sound of his footsteps, but the sound of my heartbeat gets in the way. I try to distract myself by focusing on a bird or a squirrel or a cloud, but my eyes keep darting from one thing to the next. 

What feels like hours late, the crunching of leaves draws my attention. I straighten my back against the trunk of the tree, hoping it will conceal my identity. I feel the sick feeling in my stomach increase, making me want to vomit, but then I hear his voice.

“Now you like me?” he asks gruffly to who I assume is Max. I peek out of my hiding spot, meeting his gaze. “Hey, blondie,” he smiles at me as he scratches max’s chin.

I run to him, wrapping my arms around his torso when I reach him. I hear him intake a sharp breath, forcing me to draw myself away in concern. I scan his face, noticing the cut above his lip and his bruised eye. I step back, making sure there are no other injuries but when I see the cut below his ribs, I immediately apologize for hugging him.

“You need to go. I slowed them down, but I couldn’t stop them. They are going to come after you,” he informs me.

“You need healed,” I gently push him onto a tree trunk, allowing him to lean against it. 

“Rapunzel,” he breathes out.

“Eugene, you are hurt, let me heal you, please.” I start to wrap my hair around him, but he grabs my hands, stopping me.

“Remember that favor you owe me?” he meets my eyes. “I’m cashing it in. I need you to leave me. Take Max and run. You can make it home if you-”

“No, I’m not leaving you, Eugene.”

“Rapunzel,” he places his palm on the side of my face. “You don’t need to heal me, I will be okay.”

I think of the only way I can fix this as shadowy figures start to lurk near us. I throw Eugene’s arm over my shoulder, ignoring his disagreements as I help him onto Max. I climb on behind him, grabbing the reins, and guiding Max to the only place that can help.

A week later.

I stand in the common room of the tower, pulling paints out of my basket. I am planning on painting the walls to make it feel a little more homey and lived in. Eugene agreed to my request when I asked, but he did not have much of a choice as I was going to do it regardless. He is currently upstairs sleeping, since he does not know I am here. 

A week ago, I rushed him to my kingdom, the fear of what could happen to us forced me to remember the way. Well, hat and we ran into some of the castle’s guards on the way, but Eugene does not know that part. I took him to the medicine room to be looked at as I tried my best to keep my promise to him. When they told me he could be experiencing internal bleeding, I threw our deal out the window and healed him. 

“How long have you been standing there?” I ask when I notice him leaning against the railing on the stairs. 

“How long have I been asleep?” he refers to my short, brown hair.

“I got it cut this morning and…well…does it look bad?” I reach to touch the end of my hair, something I don’t think I will ever be used to. I chopped it all off when I decided my hair was affecting the way I lived my life and the people I love. Of course, there were only a few people who did not mind the change, but I have realized that that is the life of a princess.

Eugene chuckles, finishing his descent down the steps as he edges towards me.

“I thought it looked okay, but-”

He places his hand on the side of my face, silencing my rambling. He leans in to plant a soft kiss on my lips, before leaning his forehead against mine, a silly smile dancing on his lips. “Have I told you I have a thing for brunettes?”

2 thoughts on “Untangled, by Chloe Riggs

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