“Once upon a time in a loud, busy kingdom nestled neatly in the middle of a big city, there was a mother and a father who loved their daughter very much. She was born with large blue eyes and blonde hair that curled slightly at the ends, both traits taken equally from her mother and father. The mother and father were very important people, they kept the city running. The news of the little girl’s arrival sent the entire town in celebration, and the mother and father – blinded by complete love for their new baby – showed her off for the entire kingdom to see.”
“Why does the girl in this story have to look like me, mother?” Large blue eyes peered up at the woman sitting on the edge of her bed, the green eyes locking with her own.
“I don’t know, but it means that you have to be careful and you can’t leave. We wouldn’t want someone to take you now, would we?” The little girl shook her head, blonde strands flying as she pulled the covers on her bed up closer to her eyes. “Now let me finish my story.”
“Not all of the kingdom was happy for the man and woman for their new addition. In fact, there was a certain person who wanted to rule the kingdom themselves, an old, bitter woman who was still reeling from the shock of losing the election. And the new addition to the happy family, the baby with the large eyes and pretty blonde hair was her key to breaking apart the strong couple. If she took the baby, then they’d focus on looking for her and then they’d have to resign from their positions. The old woman worked on her plan day and night, and finally she was able to take the child away from her mother and father.” The woman looked down on the child lying in her bed, looking fearful as ever, and she smiled softly. “Now remember why we don’t go outside. It’s only safe for mothers outside. Not pretty little girls. You wouldn’t want me to end up sad like the mother and father in the story, would you? Promise me Rapunzel.”
The stern look that her mother was giving her was enough to keep her in her room, afraid of the outside world. As she grew older she got bolder. Sometimes she’d open the window and look down at the green grass below her, and sometimes when her mother went to the store or to work she’d explore the rest of the house. However, her bravery never really reached the front door – where she could have turned the knob and stepped outside and had her first taste of freedom. It wasn’t that easy. The thought of the story that she’d been told during her childhood petrified her. There were many times that she questioned if the story were true. If a child had gone missing, wouldn’t the town have been diligently searching for that child until they were found? She assumed that an important family would get more help than a regular one. It didn’t make sense, but she didn’t want to question it.
One of the scariest things for her was knowing that she could be taken from her mother.
Even if there were many things that she saw from her window that she wanted to experience.
The story that the woman told, it was all true. There was a daughter taken from an important family, a kidnapping that had left the entire city feeling empty. The search had gone on for years, looking for a little girl with blonde hair and blue eyes, but as the searches kept going with no result – the mother and the father – mayor and his wife – weren’t able to put themselves through the rise and fall of hoping and disappointment. Instead of searching, they grieved and mourned. Little did they know that their daughter was safe. She wasn’t dead, or shipped off to a different country. No, she was kept hostage on the edge of town, locked up in a dark, looming house that was just past the beginning of the woods. It was far enough from the familiar asphalt jungle that was the city so people rarely ventured out that way. They would be relieved to know that their daughter hadn’t been harmed, but would be saddened to know that their child had lost all of her spirit – her sense of adventure. They would be sad to know that their daughter was afraid to open the front door to her house and live.
Every year, on her birthday, they threw an annual ball to raise money for a charity that helped find missing children. And every year, from her window sill, Rapunzel could hear the music and see the lights and she wanted desperately to get dressed up and join the party and just have fun.
It wasn’t as if she were stuck in her bedroom with nothing to do. Her mother brought her home books and art supplies and foods from every trip that she took outside of their home. Rapunzel was grateful, her mother could have left her locked in her bedroom, with nothing at all to do. However, inside of her room she had free reign. She painted her walls, read for hours, and even attempted at sewing her own clothes. In fact, minus her general freedom and the permission to cut her hair, Rapunzel could do whatever she wanted. She made large messes in the kitchen, spending entire days with flour up to her elbows and baking things like cakes and pies. She took her pet turtle around wherever she wanted, and spent most of the time talking to him. Television wasn’t allowed and the cable had been unhooked, but sometimes, on rare occasions, her mother brought home movies for her to watch.
As a general rule, Rapunzel didn’t complain about leaving. Until this year. It was almost her eighteenth birthday and every day that her mother was home she asked to go to the ball that she could catch glimpses of from her bedroom window. All she wanted was to wear a fancy dress and dance around with people she’d never met. Rapunzel had said she wouldn’t even attempt at talking to anyone. Every time that she asked though, she was turned down. Her mother said that just because she was no longer a child the world wasn’t any safer. The fear of being taken away from what she knew was enough to silence her, but she hadn’t stopped her thoughts. It was just one night – she wasn’t asking for a lifetime. Rapunzel wanted a change of scenery for one night, but her mother couldn’t understand that.
And instead of asking for a night outside of her room again and watching her mother grow upset or angry, Rapunzel asked for a new set of paints, and her mother had kissed her gently on her forehead and promised to be back sometime in the next few days. As soon as the front door shut behind her, Rapunzel heard it lock and she let out a relieved sigh. She’d asked for the paints from one of the stores in the next city over – it took a few days to get there and back. Now all that mattered was her trying to think of a plan to escape, she was going to that party. And she’d be back before her mother even noticed.
“Did you know there are an infinite amount of colors, Toast? Any color can be manipulated in different ways to create new shades, just by adding a bit more paint.” She was standing on her tiptoes, bracing against the feel of the wobbly stool as she reached up with a pale arm and continued to paint the orange against her yellow sun. Only the higher parts of the room had yet to be painted because they were impossible, and she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear as she stuck out her tongue slightly in concentration while she moved the brush down to mix it against some of the orange paint. If she would have turned around she would have found Toast perched happily in his aquarium, neck extended as if he were watching her paint a new setting on her northern wall.
Rapunzel was trying her best to paint by the dull light from her ceiling fan and the moonlight streaming in from the open window. Letting out an annoyed bit of breath, she dropped down her paintbrush and reached over with her free hand to tug her hair towards her so she could move easier on the stool. Looking over her shoulder for a moment, she saw the long, blonde strands hitting the floor behind her. They were annoying and inconvenient, but her mother had told her to never cut them. And she obeyed. It seemed, now that she was older, that she realized that her mother did and said a lot of things and Rapunzel followed without question. What sort of person did that make her? She hardly knew anymore.
There was a rustling outside of her bedroom window, which was strange because it was three stories up, and Rapunzel set her pallet of paint down next to the brush and hopped quietly off of the stool. Scooping up Toast and sliding him into the pocket of her dress, she made her way towards the opposite side of the room, grabbing a pillow off of her bed as she pressed herself against the wall. There was the sound of a struggle, and all of a sudden a large figure was pulling itself into her bedroom. All she managed to hear was, “What the fuck,” before the pillow in her hands made contact with – his face. It took her by surprise that there was a boy in her bedroom, and she quickly climbed over her bed, peering up at him from the other side.
A boy was in her bedroom.
Her mother had warned her about boys, how they would be the main ones trying to kidnap her. “I won’t let you kidnap me,” she shouted, grabbing another pillow and holding it in a position that was as menacing as she could imagine while holding a pillow. Her large eyes moved away from him for a moment, glancing around her room to find something that would injure him far worse than her pillow. She felt Toast shift slightly in her pocket and she pulled him out, placing him on the bed. “No Toast, you can’t bite him,” she warned the turtle, and took a step towards the man, eyeing him suspiciously.
“And what is it that you require? I’ll hit you again,” she warned, taking a moment to note that the boy didn’t look quite so scary as her mother had described. In fact, he looked a bit startled, but that was possibly because he had just scaled a wall and climbed into her bedroom window and was now being introduced to thousands upon thousands of hand painted walls and hair that draped over the floor for what seemed like miles. It especially seemed like miles when she was the one having to carry it all around. Though he looked less like a monster and more like someone who was her age, she still didn’t put down her weapon of choice.
Opening her mouth for a moment she furrowed her brow, moving to push back some of her hair with her free hand.
Now Percy wouldn't say he was vain. Even if he was notoriously handsome, cunning, sly, an excellent chef, and an outstanding thief, he was not vain. He just happened to know his own self worth far better than majority of the world, which led to him often making decisions on the fly. The most recent decision he had made was still in progress, but for once in his life, he was starting to wonder if he had made a slight miscalculation in his judgement.
Given, trusting the Stabbington Brothers was probably the first mistake Percy had made. Though with a name like that, who wouldn't trust those two fellas? Those two large, musky, murderous fellas. They, admittedly, weren't the best people to be in the company of, but they were also Percy's best bet at his biggest break yet. Everyone always said that 'no thief was dumb enough to try and rob the charity ball auction,' but they hadn't met Percy. (He'd very firmly disagree with the 'dumb' aspect of the statement. He would rather say there was no thief 'clever' enough for the job.) The charity ball was a big huzzah and whatnot, save the lost children. People bought expensive tickets and then got wasted for the night, it was fun for most. The best part, however, was always the auction. One had to be very rich to get into that, and the items that they showed off each year...They could make a grown man weep. Not like Percy had cried about it, or anything like that. But the sentiment was there.
Each year, the 'crown' item got bigger and better. Hell, one year they sold a diamond spoon. But nothing like this year, oh no. This year takes the cake of crown items, by being a literal crown. Fashioned perfectly for a presumably cutesy girl, it was meant to represent the young girl who started the entire ball. It was funny how one person could become so famous by literally not being there. Hell, Percy was born the same year as her. No celebrations for him! Either way, that crown was worth serious money with the gems they stuck onto it. It's not like she was going to miss it, so Percy had finally hatched a brilliant plan to simply just take it. He'd put it to much better use, unlike some stuffy old millionaire. He had already concocted a perfect plan, but he had needed some muscle for it. He had never planned to actually pay said muscle, since he figured he could just dupe them.
Which is where the Stabbington Brothers had come in, and left Percy is his currently not-so-good situation of running from both them and the entire police force that had noticed.
It was actually amazing what the human body could do on adrenaline, because he was currently out-running policemen on horses. Actual horses! He really did amaze himself sometimes. As his feet pounded the forest floor and his heart slammed against his chest, Percy was currently trying to come up with another brilliant on the spot plan. He couldn't fight any of them, so that was out the window. Nor could he run forever, so time was limited for an actually good plan. No, he needed something much -
From the corner of his eye, something had caught his eye. A gust of wind had blown through the forest for a moment, and stirred some hanging ivy coming up. Hanging ivy that revealed what appeared to be a cave. It wasn't a permanent solution, but it was certainly a good one for the time being. So with quick feet and a quick glance backwards to assure the guards were far enough back to avoid seeing where he was going, his entire body tilted to the side and he burst through the ivy. Thankfully, he didn't slam into a stone wall right behind it.
A moment passed, then another. The thundering of hooves became louder, before they barreled past his hiding spot and sped onward. Not even stopping to poke their heads into the ivy. A breath of air forcefully shot out from Percy, and he reached up to run a hand through his sweaty hair. Holy shit, he was so smart. A small laugh started, before he was grinning ear to ear and jumping up and down. He was BRILLIANT! In his moment of joy and jumping, a flash of sunlight slashed across his eyes, causing him to suddenly squint. Sunlight...in a cave? It certainly wasn't coming from the entrance, either.
Slowly turning his head away from the ivy and walls surrounding, Percy looked forward to the pathway in front of him. So not a cave, but a tunnel. Glancing back for a moment and sniffing, his eyes shifted back towards the tunnel in front of him. Whatever was behind him was surely worse than whatever was in front of him, so onward he marched. He didn't march for long, however, as he was soon standing in a clearing staring up at a tower. A tower with no visible staircase, but an open window. Walls of rocks surrounded the clearing on all sides, a stream running from deep inside one. Still breathing rather hard from his run, Percy could only stare at the perfect opportunity in front of him.
It was a free hideout. Just for him.
It only took a second for Percy to make his next great decision. Walking through the perfectly green grass, he made his way over to the stone wall of the impossibly tall tower. His gloved hand ran over the old stone, before he wiggled a finger or two into a small groove. A small tug followed, and a grin spread over his face as he realized it was perfectly stable. In seconds, he was grabbing ivy and odd stones to pull himself up, the adrenaline still fresh in his blood. He was used to such imposing climbs, since he was such an amazing thief and all. It didn't take long for him to finally reach the top, a grunt sounding as he curled his arms around the window frame of the tower. First order of business would be building a fucking ladder, but that was for the future.
One final heave, and he was pulling himself up into a surprisingly well lit room. In fact, it was insanely well decorated too. His mouth opened, and three words formed before a pillow slammed into his face.
"What the fuck-"
Instantly, his hands wrapped around the frames of the window to prevent himself from falling, and he heaved himself forward into the room as the pillow fell away. Slamming onto the ground, his head shot up as his hands slipped around on something very long and very smooth. Percy dropped his eyes down to the floor, where his hands were currently tangled in a bunch of hair.
Another startled noise left the young thief as he scrambled backwards and away from the hair, before a voice caused him to look at the owner of said hair. A young girl was staring at him with a pillow, and was that a turtle on her bed? His mouth opened and closed for a moment, before he jumped to his feet and slammed the window shut behind him. Wait, no. He wanted those open. He then stumbled backwards, only to trip once more over her hair and fall flat on his back. His head thunked against the floor, and he swore he saw stars for a moment. Unless those were just the paintings on the ceiling. Inhaling slowly, he finally spoke his second set of words.
"I'm not going to lie, this has been a really off day for me. A fuck is what I certainly don't give right now."
Instantly, all of her fears were coming true. There was a man in her room, ready to kidnap her and murder her and steal her hair. As he was steadying himself from the blow of her pillow, Rapunzel was scrambling around, trying to gather up as much of it as she could. She was going to at least die protecting herself as much as she could. Everything her mother had ever warned her of was finally coming true, and she was the reason it was happening. If she hadn’t asked for the expensive paint set, then her mother would have still been here, and this wouldn’t be happening. But now, she had a boy in her bedroom.
She watched him, large blue eyes widening more, as he moved about, tripping over sections of her hair and finally falling back, lying against the floor. He was still alive, because he was talking, and Rapunzel studied him for a moment before inching her way closer. He didn’t have any sort of weapon on him from what she could see. Finally close enough to really get a good look at him, Rapunzel leaned back, shocked. He didn’t look vile and evil up close. He looked normal, and relatively sweaty. He didn’t look like someone who had arrived with the intent to get her hair. In fact, from the way he was looking at it, she would have guessed he didn’t even know it was a thing.
That was good for her, honestly. It meant from all he knew she was just a random girl in a random tower. Nothing to see here, nothing out of the ordinary. He could climb back out of the window and be on his way. He had dropped something when he fell, a crown and she grabbed it, tucking it underneath her bed before inching closer still to the boy lying in front of her. She did her best to appear menacing and she leaned back slightly, dropping her hair to place her hands on her hips. “Who are you and what do you want from me?” She’d done a good job of sounding mean, and she looked back to Toast with an encouraging glance. “Where did you come from?”
Well, what a stupid question. Even if he answered her truthfully, she would have no clue what to expect or what he meant. The only thing that Rapunzel knew was the tower they were both in. Even if it was too early to let her guard down, she could at least get a sense of relief knowing that he wasn’t here for her hair. In fact, he was looking a bit freaked out by it. That thought alone made her smile, breaking her tough facade. What kind of person was horrified by hair? Though she did have a lot.
Rubbing his head slightly as he sat up, Percy just raised an eyebrow at the girl with suspiciously long hair. In fact, her hair wasn't just suspicious. It was downright unnatural. His eyes shifted from her, following the path the golden locks made as they looped around the room. Oh yeah, that was totally normal. Did girls really grow their hair that fast? No, that simply wasn't possible. Maybe he had wandered upon a freaky witch who lived in the woods and lured children up to eat with her hair. Then again, she was far too pretty for a witch. Young too.
"What do I want from you?" Percy questioned back, pushing himself up onto his feet with a slight heave. Now that the adrenaline was wearing off, Percy could definitely go for several drinks, but here he was, trapped in a tower with a pretty girl who had no business having that much hair. "All I wanted, was to have a nice lovely little hideout to myself," he began, walking forward and pointing a gloved finger at Rapunzel.
Pausing, he stopped and sighed dramatically, before running his fingers through his hair. No need to be a dick Percy, she seemed innocent enough. She also definitely seemed a bit...weird, but that was besides the point. What mattered was hiding out till the guards left the forest, and surely he could convince the young lady of such a simple request. He was Percy Solis, after all. Dropping to one knee in front of her and taking her hand, he slowly raised it up to his lips before speaking.
"I apologize for such a rude introduction. My name is Perseus Solis, just a poor soul seeking refugee from the villains of the world," he began dramatically, looking up at her with a bit of a smolder. "All I ask for is a moment of rest in this lovely tower you must call home, so I may gather my senses and return to my land with my-" He paused, his eyes suddenly dropping to his waist.
A spot where his satchel wasn't.
Dropping Rapunzel's hand, Percy quickly stood up and patted at his sides, before bending over and lifting up a lock of her hair to peer under it. "Oh no no no! Where is my satchel? I had something very important inside of it, which I cannot lose!" He exclaimed, dropping her hair and whirling back on her. "I most definitely came into this tower with that satchel on my very masculine waist. You didn't take it...did you?" He suddenly questioned, an eyebrow raising upward as he stepped forward to her.
If he lost that satchel, he was in a lot of trouble. More trouble than he was already in, actually. Blondie over here looked like she had never even seen grass before, but she had a look to her. He had caught that little smile after she attempted a tough facade, one he had easily seen through. (Obviously, a thief of his life wouldn't be intimidated at all. And even if he was, it wasn't like he was going to admit such a thing.) If she had taken his satchel away, who knew what else she was up to? She could be in leagues with the Stabbington brothers, though it seemed unlikely. She was definitely a guard type, however. Picture perfect damsel in distress, one that could easily lure a dashing thief like himself right behind bars. Though Percy was far too clever for that...At least, he thought he was. He had become confused for only a few seconds, and now the most precious item on him was gone!
"Now I'd answer very carefully, blondie. Thievery is bad, I would know. I very much need my satchel and what is inside, it's very...special to me. Holds a lot of meaning."
Truth be told, she should have been more on guard, this was a random man in her bedroom after all. Her mother had told her plenty of warning signs, and while she never had mentioned that men could look like this, well, still. She couldn’t just let her guard down because she liked looking at his face, that was stupid. But here she was, already sort of not taking this thing seriously because well, a boy had just climbed into her bedroom window. Rapunzel was pretty sure that this thing just didn’t happen. She had never had a visitor in all of her years of living, no one had ever stumbled upon their house. Her mother was going to be pissed, except she didn’t have to know.
One hand went to her hips as she watched as he lowered himself to one knee, taking her other hand in his own and kissing the top lightly before speaking. He was going on and on about who he was, and apologizing for his rude behavior. She watched him with raised eyebrows and then all of sudden he stopped, looking for something he had previously had attached to his waist. She knew exactly what it was, and she willed herself not to take her gaze off of him and look in the direction of her bed. There was no way she was going to give up her hiding spot, she could use it as leverage. Though maybe Toast’s tank would have been a better spot. Well, she’d just have to keep the stranger, or Perseus, occupied.
When Perseus took a step towards her, she took a slight step back, still not entirely sure about the situation she was in. Technically she hadn’t gotten herself into this mess, but having her mother gone certainly didn’t help. Or did it? She raised her eyebrows, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear as he explained to her that his bag held meaning. Rapunzel could work with that, she certainly could. This might be to her advantage after all.
“Well, Perseus,” she began, clearing her throat and holding her head high as she moved in a circle around him, sizing him up. “I might happen to know where your little purse is,” she began, stopping to peer around his shoulder at him. “And I will return it to you,” she paused her for dramatic effect, now back to the front of him, both hands on her hips. “For a fair price.” He might have assumed that she was some blonde haired freak, stuck in a tower, which technically okay, maybe she was, but she was a little smarter than he was probably anticipating. Rapunzel knew that he was thinking that she was just some dumb girl who stayed locked up in her tower. "It's been my dream to go see the lights, the ones that happen every year in the city. I've never been able to go, and I think you could be just the person to help me."
“If you help me get out of here and take me to where all the lights happen in the city, then I’ll give you your purse back.” She knew it was a satchel, but she was having so much fun calling it a purse.
Listening to her proposal, Perseus didn't interrupt her. He came very close to interrupting, but he managed to bite his tongue and simply raise a finger in protest. When she finished it, he simply waved the finger back and forth, before running his hand through his hair with a frustrated noise coming from the back of his throat. Of course, out of all random towers hidden away in the woods, he'd climb into the one with a crazy chick. A crazy chick who was in desperate need of a haircut.
"First off, it is a satchel. Not a purse. Two very different things with very different styles. Not that I wouldn't carry a purse around, but that item in particular is a satchel,' he began, mimicking her pose. His hands rested on his own hips, and one eyebrow cocked upward. Two can play at this game, especially if one of the players was Percy. It was a horrible idea to try and out-sass the thief, given his overall attitude in life. Some found it annoying, but he simply found it to be part of his charm.
"Second off, no can do Blondie," he said, removing his hands from his hips to throw them up into a shrug. He spun on his heel, turning to peer around the tower as he continued to speak. "You see, what you are looking to attend is the annual masquerade ball. I'm going to assume you know what that is, and keep talking. That little ball is held every year for some lost girl or something, but the place it is held doesn't like me very much," he said, emphasizing the 'me' as he turned back around to face her. Walking forward once more and to the side, he leaned up against the wall with one arm above his head.
"Now, I don't want to put the charm on you, but I simply just cannot leave the tower without that satchel. How about I give you a really good haircut? You seem to be desperate need of one, with all this hair just laying around...Say, how do you have so much hair? It is an exceedingly large amount that is far from normal," he rambled on, his eyes wandered around the tower some more. As an insanely talented thief, one of Percy's many skills involved smooth talking. He could talk for days on end while he looked for what he needed, or until the other person got so sick of hearing him talk, they'd just give in. Normally it was the latter.
"So, about that satchel for a haircut? I do my own hair, which you can see is in excellent condition. Just hand me a pair of scissors and we can both be on our merry little way."
She was feeling great, totally confident in her ability to barter when her silent joy came to a screeching halt. He was telling her the ball, the place she’d been longing to go, was a place that didn’t prefer him, and she frowned slightly, her arms crossing over her chest as he continued on. Did he ever stop talking? There were a ton of questions that she had for him, mainly focused on the comment about the missing girl. What missing girl? Was it the same one like the story her mother used to tell her before bed? She had always assumed that story to be made up. Maybe her mother had been wrong. Maybe she was wrong about a lot of things, like who to trust.
There was a bit of a panic feeling in her chest, fluttering lightly under her breastbone. It wasn’t working, the hidden satchel wasn’t working and she wasn’t quite sure how to get him to help her. She wanted to get out, she had a few days for it, and she didn’t know if she would ever have this sort of opportunity again. But then he mentioned her hair, and cutting it, and all of her mother’s warnings came crashing back in, the fluttering in her chest turning up to an all time high. Maybe he had snuck in to get some of her hair, but she already knew the damage that happened when she cut it. Tucking some of it behind her ear, she felt the shorter piece, the piece that was still stuck at her shoulder from when she’d tried to cut it when she was a little girl.
Rapunzel knew she had to play it cool, had to make sure that he didn’t figure out the true reason why her hair was still growing and had never been cut. For someone that invested in whatever he’d shoved into his purse, well, she didn’t want to know what he’d do when he found out her hair you know, had magical healing and restoring powers. Blue eyes widening as he went on to question why she had the amount of hair that she did, Rapunzel dropped her hands and reached down, grabbing the pillow she’d used to smack him with earlier. Backing up slowly, she made her way to the tiny turtle perched on the frame of it, and she slipped him into her pocket, away from safekeeping and harm.
Was Perseus ever going to shut up?
And then there he was again, mentioning the hair and the cutting and scissors and Rapunzel turned to fight in her fight or flight senses, and as soon as he was done asking if she had scissors she slammed the pillow into his head again with as much force as she could muster. It was a terrible weapon, she was beginning to realize, but at least it would take him a bit off guard. “You will take me to this masquerade ball,” she began, moving around him in a circle once more, this time making sure that her hair followed suit, creating a nice circle around his feet as well. “And then you can have your satchel,” she reminded, putting emphasis on the word satchel.
Now back in front of him again, and she dropped the pillow, reaching down with both hands to grab her hair, jerking at the makeshift rope she’d just made and squealed in delight as the blonde strands tightened around his ankles and kicked his feet out from under him. Perseus was now on the floor, and she leaned over him, grinning.