Dull, clouded light accentuated the many dust particles floating through the tragedy of the room. With wide jade eyes, Rapunzel hyperventilated at the great amount of sudden change thrust upon her. Her mind could barely comprehend the charade of the past few hours. Death seemed to be a favoring topic. Gothel's pale, sagging face, crippled with fear, haunted her each time she blinked, her rhythmic breathing lulling her into a wide-eyed trance...no. She couldn't let the weight on her shoulders collapse before. With quick realization, she dove to the thief lying lifeless on her floor, gasping for air. The incredible new speed and agility Rapunzel possessed surprised her at first, the heavy, golden hair which had burdened the maiden her entire life having finally been destroyed. Her trembling fingers grasped at her choppy, brown locks, panic distributing itself across every inch of her body as Eugene deteriorated, and she spat out that deadly lullaby as best as she could remember. Why? Why couldn't she remember? A lump blocked the words she did recollect from escaping her throat.
"Rapunzel?", Eugene's hoarse voice questioned. Rapunzel paused, looking down into what little of her lover's brown irises she could detect through his heavy lids. "You were my new dream...", he whispered.
"And you were mine...", Rapunzel replied with a sob. With one last breath, Eugene closed his eyes and...
The princess snapped from her daydreams, the shadows of her mind quickly vanishing, replaced by the bright afternoon sunlight which poked the colors of the stained glass windows in Corona's grand hall to dance across the spotless tile floors. Queen Adelaide sighed at her daughter's disinterest.
"Rapunzel", the princess interrupted, correcting her mother who, with a nod, continued.
"Rapunzel, sweetheart, it's very important that you pay attention. The entire future of this blessed kingdom rests in your womb, should you finally accelerate it". The princess sighed, running a hand through her soft, brunette hair. She wasn't ready for this.
Ever since she had left her tower, it had been nothing but change. New house, new bed, new life, new parents. Even a new name to which she wasn't sure she was fond of yet. She was a princess now-- a member of the royal court with duties, responsibilties and worst of all: pressure.
The princess's eyes shifted to Lady Coraline, her tutor and advisor, and studied all of her features. This uptight woman was the encyclopedia from which Rapunzel derived all she knew of being princess, from proper etiquette to ancestral history to the academic aspects. And encyclopedia was a perfect word to describe Lady Coraline. Her mousy brown hair was always pulled back into the tightest of buns, dragging the skin of her face taut over her bony structure. Her eyes were dull and disapproving, her expressions always unreadable, everything dreary hues and straight lines. Lady Coraline just nodded in agreement with Her Royal Majesty's words as Eugene gently grasped Rapunzel's hand beneath the table.
"I just don't understand why we have to come to conclusions now", Rapunzel finally said, breaking the tense silence steadily stilling everyone in the room. Eugene could sense the concern nestled deep in Rapunzel's eyes. He could always see how she was feeling, even when she hid her true emotions well. Queen Adelaide sighed once again.
"Dear, the conception of an heir is a very meticulous topic indeed but it must be discussed early. A subject such as this involves careful planning, the proper technique, and utmost attention", Queen Adelaide explained. The almost always silent King Marcus nodded in agreement to his wife's words, those words which had begun drowning the sanity out of Rapunzel's brain. She didn't want to have to deal with sex, pregnancy, parenthood. Not yet, anyways. It had only been a year since she returned to the kingdom, six months since her coronation and two since her wedding. Everything was moving too fast.
"Mother, I-I just need time to think about this, okay?", Rapunzel responded, on the verge of her breaking point as she stood, bowed her head in a respectful farewell, and struggled to keep herself composed as she exited the room. But once she reached the hallway, the story changed dramatically. Her bare feet carried her as fast as they could take her, her heart pounding as tears of stress ran down her face. She didn't think the "splendid" royal life would involve such great responsibility, so many dizzying decisions. Darting through each hallway and down every staircase, the princess made a beeline straight for the garden, the strong aroma of daisies and tulips helping numb her mind, their vivid petals blurring behind her teary eyes. Drawing her knees up to her chest, she let her silky gown drape down over her legs like a curtain, closed her eyes, and breathed.
"Flower gleam and glow, let your power shine", she whispered to herself in a shaky voice, the lullaby soothing her anxieties until soon the princess was floating on the melody, her mind transported to someplace else. Her calm utopia seemed to slowly twirl and dip her about as if she was a ballerina, losing herself in her thoughts until--
A strong whisper and a thunk on the shoulder stirred her from her daydreams. Quickly wiping her tears, Rapunzel shifted in her spot on the white limestone bench amongst the impatiens to find a familiar face peeking above the garden's gates. Rushing to the Scottish maiden's aid, Merida came rushing into the solace of the garden, fear painting her face. One large, ginger curl fell into her crystal eyes as she panted in an attempt to catch her breath. Her woolen dress was torn at the bottom and blood ran down her arm. Dirt was smeared across her face and twigs tangled about her ringlets.
"Merida!", Rapunzel gasped at her friends appearance. She knew Merida was one to get down and dirty but this...something was wrong. "Wh-what happened to you?!", Rapunzel questioned as she gently pulled Merida over to the bench and brushed the curls away from her face.
Breathlessly, Merida responded with one word: "Kidnapped".