Rapunzel stood at the window looking out over the trees. The sky was bright and the air fresh. The same as it was everyday. She sighed and looked at her only friend, Pascal. "Do you think Mother will finally let me go out into the world?"
He made a few squeaking noises giving his answer.
She looked at him sternly, "You know its not nice to call her names."
He rolled his eyes and then stopped and darted onto the sill of the window. An unknown voice came from below.
"I've lived in these woods my whole life, how did I get lost...and where did this tower come from?"
Rapunzel ducked down and peeked out the window staying low so that she wouldn't be seen. "Who is that?"
He gave her a look saying, "How should I know?"
She looked down again at the source of the voice. Below on the ground she'd never touched before stood a tall, thin blonde girl. She couldn't make out much about the woman but she knew that she must be very beautiful because of how she carried herself. Her Mother walked the same way after Rapunzel sang to her.
"Oh look, there's a doorway here." the girl spoke and a few birds chirped in response.
Rapunzel looked at Pascal, confusion showing in her eyes. "A door?" she whispered. "Since when is there a door?"
Pascal shrugged his shoulders.
A sound came from behind the bookcase. Rapunzel shoved the bookcase out of the way, an amazing feat since it was twice her size and filled with books. Behind it stood a door she'd never known was there. She grabbed the frying pan from the counter top took a deep breath as the door opened.
"I wonder what's in here..." The girl leaned around the door and spotted Rapunzel. "Oh hello." she said, pushing the door open, obviously excited now.
"Stay back!" Rapunzel told her, holding the frying pan threateningly.
"Don't worry!" The girl held her hands out in front of her. "I'm not going to hurt you." She chuckled a little. "I can't believe I've finally met someone else."
Rapunzel lowered the pan and looked at her, a mixture of confusion and curiosity showing on her face. "What do you mean?"
The girl smiled at her. "I've never met anyone else, outside of the women that raised me."
Rapunzel smiled back. "You know something? I've never met anyone other than my Mother." she looked at the girl and set the frying pan down causing Pascal to make a squeak in worry. "I'm Rapunzel."
The girl smiled. "I'm Briar Rose."
"How did you get in here?" Rapunzel asked her curiously.
Briar Rose motioned behind her down the stairs. "There was a door at the base of the tower, slightly blocked off by some bricks and vines. I have a knack for finding hidden doorways though. Comes from living with women who squirrel everything away in whatever nook and cranny they can find." she chuckled, some long ago memory from her childhood flashing to the front of her mind.
"So how did you find the tower? Mother told me it was hidden." Rapunzel drew closer to the girl staring at her eyes. Before Briar Rose could answer her, she continued. "You have the most beautiful eyes." She gasped and put her hand over her mouth, face flushing with embarrassment and took a step back, nearly falling over her hair.
A light blush spread over Briar Rose's face at the compliment. "Thank you." She had been so preoccupied with the girl in front of her that she hadn't even noticed the train of blonde hair strung around the room. "Oh my. You're hair is so long." Seeing part of it hanging from the ceiling right near her, she reached her hand out to touch it and thinking twice before doing so, looked over at Rapunzel.
She smiled shyly and told her, "Go ahead."
Her hand wove in between the strands of the silky locks. "I've never felt anything so soft before. How long is it?"
"About 70 feet. Mother said she didn't ever want me to cut my hair, so I never have."
"Where is your mother?" she asked curiously.
"Away at the moment. My birthday is coming up in a few days and she's out getting the supplies for new paints. I love painting. Let me show you something." Excitedly, she made her way over and around her hair to the tall curtain along the wall. Moving it to the side a beautiful painting of the night sky appeared. Lights floated all along the sky in a line making their way down to the horizon.
"That's amazing. Did you paint that?"
"Mhmm. I don't have much else to do during the day." her voice took on a sad note as she continued. "I've never left this tower so I have all day to do whatever I wish." She stared at the nighttime mural in longing as her voice became wistful. "There's one thing I wish Mother would give me more than anything in the world."
"What's that?" Briar Rose asked curiously staring at the girl.
"To see those lights. Every year they appear in the night sky on my birthday and I've always had this feeling like they were connected to me somehow. Mother's never told me anything about them though. She's always told me that they were just stars, but I've done a ton of stargazing and all of these," she made a gesture with her hand to the curving-S of lights, "they only appear that one night every year."
Briar Rose watched Rapunzel in fascination. Her face held pure longing as she stared at the mural. A thought occurred to her. "Rapunzel?"
Snapping out of her daydream she looked at the other woman. "Yes?"
"What if we went to see them? Together?"
She sighed before responding, "I couldn't leave without getting Mother's permission."
Briar Rose sighed in frustration. "You said your birthday was coming up soon right?" Rapunzel nodded. "How old are you going to be?"
"18." she told her.
"Then see! You're going to be an adult. Are you going to listen to your mother for the rest of your life, or are you going to take charge of it?"
Rapunzel glanced back over at the mural and sighed. Pascal climbed onto her shoulder and squeaked. She looked over at Briar Rose and nodded, her face resolute. "You and Pascal are both right. It's time I took charge of my own life and I followed what my heart tells me to do. Let's go."
She grabbed the frying pan back up and walked over to the doorway behind the bookcase. She started to take a step forward and then stopped herself, turning back to face Briar Rose, who was right behind her, a crestfallen look on her face. "I can't do this."
Briar Rose and Pascal both sighed. This was going to be a long journey.
It took a few hours of convincing and a lot of backtracking up the stairs, but eventually Briar Rose managed to get Rapunzel down to the bottom of the staircase. Rapunzel stepped out onto the grass for the first time in her life, blades of the soft green plants pushing their way between her toes.
The shorter blonde stood there for several moments just moving and sliding her feet over the ground. “I...” she started to say before stopping. She leaned down ran her hand across the grass, feeling the blades tickle gently across her palm and wrist. “I never realized how...soft the ground would feel.”
“Well believe me, it may be soft now, but it's not when you fall on your backside.” Briar Rose told her knowingly.
Rapunzel laughed lightly. “Well I'm not very accident prone so I think I should be ok.”
Pascal squeaked at this and rolled his eyes to which Rapunzel glared at him. “That was one time! Besides, Mother had moved my hair and I had just woken up.”
Briar Rose's eyebrows rose in curiosity. “I need to hear this story.”
Rapunzel blushed pale pink and said in a quiet voice. “I was 12 and Mother had come home early in the morning. I didn't know there was a doorway there. As far as I knew the only way in or out was through the window.” At the puzzled look Briar Rose gave her, she amended before continuing, “I would throw my hair out the window and pull my Mother up and through it. Anyway though, she came home very early that day, well before dawn, which is usually when I wake up, and she called up to me to pull her up which is what woke me to begin with. So I fumbled through it and she let me go back to sleep for a little while. When I finally did get up for the day I was still a little groggy as I'd started to get sick a few days before. I stood up from the bed and apparently Mother had moved my hair around while I was sleeping so it wasn't in her way as she moved about the tower and since I didn't know this I ended up tripping over a small bundle of my hair. I actually knocked a side table with some candles over and one of them ended up catching the curtain on fire. Mother was not very happy about that at all.”
Briar Rose had covered her smirk with her hand but by the end had to struggle not to laugh. Pascal meanwhile was squeaking in a way that could only mean he was laughing.
“Oh shush you.” Rapunzel told him quietly. She looked at the girl next to you. “So, anyway, on to a different subject. What about you? Why were you even wandering about in the woods?”
“Well, you see, today is actually my birthday.” Briar Rose told her, blushing slightly.
“Oh, happy birthday!” Rapunzel exclaimed, a smile broadening her face. “How old are you?”
Briar Rose ducked her head to the side as she replied. “Well, I'm actually younger than you are. I'm 16.”
Rapunzel's eyes widened slightly. “Oh. I'd have never guessed. You're so tall and elegant and beautiful.” She quickly covered her mouth, a deep blush creeping across her face. She hadn't meant to say that out loud.
Briar Rose chuckled lightly, her own face turning red as she replied gently, “You know you're rather adorable yourself when you blush.”
The two continued to walk in silence for several more minutes before either had the nerve to talk again.
Briar Rose's voice rang out into the relatively empty forest. “Anyway though, I was out collecting berries, because my Godmother's asked me to. I was daydreaming and got lost in the woods when I came across your tower.”
“Oh, I see.” Rapunzel answered her. “Do you think we should find your home before we set off to find the lights?”
Briar Rose stopped and tilted her head to one side while she thought about it. “I suppose we should. Just so I can tell Flora, Fauna and Merryweather where I'm going so they don't worry about me.”
“Well then, we should get going! These three, they raised you right?” Rapunzel asked, continuing before Briar Rose could even respond. “You shouldn't make them worry about you.”
“What about you leaving without letting your Mother know?” Briar Rose counteracted.
“I'm an adult. That's different.” Rapunzel answered straightening the loop of hair around her arm.
Briar Rose and Pascal both rolled their eyes in unison. “Alright then, let's get going.” she told the older girl as they set back off into the woods.
“Huh. I wonder why there's a tower here in the middle of nowhere.” a deep voice asked no one in particular. “Oh well. Perfect place to hide for a little while. Maybe take a nap. Now if only I had a way up there...”
Flynn tapped his hand against the side of his bag in thought as he moved around the base of the tower examining it. After he'd circled the base twice he finally noticed the doorway and proceeded up the staircase.
“Diablo, come here my pet.” a silky voice called in the darkness. The raven flew to his mistresses side and landed lightly on her staff.
Reaching up to stroke the bird, Maleficent spoke again. “It has been sixteen years. My revenge will be fulfilled by tonight. I need you to go find her. Go find the Princess Aurora.”
The bird gave a loud caw before flying off to complete his mistresses task.
The two girls walked up to the cottage. Rapunzel held in a nervous breath and asked, “So, this is where you live?”
Briar Rose smiled gently. “Yes it is.” She nodded at the door. “Follow me.”
The tall girl opened the doorway. “I'm home!” she called out. She looked around when no answer came and saw a beautiful dress sitting next to a large three-tiered cake.
Flora, Fauna and Merryweather popped out from behind various hiding spots in the room, shouting “Happy birthday darling!” They stopped when they noticed Rapunzel standing partway behind their almost-daughter.
“Oh.” Flora stated. “Who is this my dear?”
“What have we told you about strangers!” Merryweather spoke, always quick to scold the girl.
“Please,” Rapunzel interjected, “it was my fault, don't blame her.” She quickly covered her mouth as they looked at her. Quietly, she spoke again. “I mean, she came across my tower and I invited her up. I've never met anyone else, you see.”
“What are you doing?” Briar Rose whispered to Rapunzel. Pascal gave her a look that said 'Just roll with it.', but of course she'd never have gotten that as she didn't know the lizard like Rapunzel did.
Briar Rose looked back over at her godmothers. “Flora, Fauna, Merryweather.” she said calmly. “This is Rapunzel, and yes, I did come across her in a tower. She's never left it before today and as it happens, her birthday is in a few days so I promised her that we'd go to where the lights float up into the sky.”
“Briar Rose, are you sure that's a good idea?” Fauna looked at her. “As harsh as Merryweather was, she does have a point. We've told you time and again that strangers, no matter how charming they may seem at first – no offense dear,” she looked over at Rapunzel and then back to Briar Rose, “can be highly dangerous.”
Briar Rose sighed. “Yes Fauna, I know. And yes, I think it's an excellent idea. If we go together, then we won't be by ourselves and we can protect each other well enough.”
The three fairies looked at each other and sighed. “Very well dear, but we think that it's time we told you something.” Flora stated.
“Yes?” Briar Rose asked.
“Why don't we sit down and dig into this birthday cake while we talk?” Fauna asked kindly.
“Of course.” Briar Rose responded.
“That would be wonderful. If you don't mind me joining of course.” Rapunzel asked, excitement and hesitation mingling in her voice.
The three old women turned away from the girls and whispered among themselves. “I don't trust her. What if she's working for Maleficent?” Merryweather questioned.
“You wouldn't trust a squirrel if it looked out of place. She's already here and it would be very rude to tell her to leave.” Fauna put forth to the others.
“Fauna's right. Not everyone works for Maleficent. And besides, we only have to keep her safe until tonight. We can even go with them to make sure she stays safe.”
“Oh, all right.” Merryweather sighed in defeat.
The three turned back around. Flora spoke to the girls. “Before we start talking, we want you to know that we'll be accompanying you to the city. That's where the lights are released from.”
Rapunzel's eyes shone with joy. “Thank you so much! That would be wonderful.”
“Now, what is it you wanted to talk to me about?” Briar Rose asked as she pulled dishes from the cupboard.
Fauna explained as they sat and the cake was cut and passed around. “Well you see dear, it all started 16 years ago to the day...”
Flynn leaned out the window of the tower. “I wonder who lives here.” he mumbled to himself. The round room of the tower's keep showed obvious signs that was occupied. There were a couple of books and some food, a bed and the walls were covered in paintings. A small dresser and mirror sat to one side with a plain chair in front of it, while another, plush and comfier chair sat in front of a small fireplace.
“Well, if they come back I'll have to make a quick escape.” Flynn walked away from the window and grabbed an apple from the kitchen. He took a bite, and walked across the room to the simple bed where his satchel lay.
Opening it up, he checked on his treasure. A simple, yet beautiful and very expensive crown rested inside; despite being covered in multiple jewels and made of solid gold, it weighed only a few pounds. It nearly cost Flynn his life though, as he was nearly caught several times in his escape attempt.
“It was worth it.” Flynn thought.
A quiet cawing could be heard coming from outside as Flynn laid dozing on the bed; he paid it no mind. Why should he worry about a raven? He glanced to one side where he noticed a dresser sitting just a few feet from the doorway he himself had come through. An odd thought popped into his head. What if that dresser had been placed in front of the door? “You'd probably never even have known it was there.” he mumbled, stifling a yawn.
Slowly Flynn drifted off to sleep, the cawing of a raven invaded his dreams. He wouldn't remember it when he woke up, but everything in his dream was tinted green...
The raven flew over the forest. He spotted the tower, cawing loudly as he slowly circled around to check everything out. He saw a lone male lying asleep through the large, open window. The tower would be something to report back to his mistress. At first he wasn't going to make mention of the man, but then he saw the glint of gold.
He drifted down and landed deftly on the ledge of the window. The glint of gold was a crown, laying haphazardly next to the man, clutched in loose fingers.
This man would definitely be reported back to Maleficent. He cawed again. It sounded much louder this time inside the room, and took off back towards his mistress' tower. As he flew off, the man turned onto his side, sliding deeper into sleep.