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A Winter Ball

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Life in Corona’s palace was so different from that of the tower.

Mother Gothel used to spend the festivities in isolation. Rapunzel did enjoy every Christmas next to the open fire, eating chestnuts and cookies while that women brushed, and brushed, and brushed her golden, magical hair. They were quiet celebrations and, as she said, “an oportunity to enjoy each other”. That was true, in that aspect, Mother Gothel knew best. Since she spent long days away from the tower having her home is just a treat by itself, the food was fine, and the gifts were duly apreciated, but, her presence was the most magnificent present.

There was a time, mostly when she had just been returned to her parents, when she wondered why she compared everything with life with Mother Gothel. She was supposed to fear her, even to despise her, but the Rapunzel cannot force herself to hate her. She was the only mother she had  known for eighteen years, and  even at the end, she was the only person who had taken care of Rapunzel. Certainly, her love had been egoistical and manipulative, but that helped the girl to recognize true affection.

Rapunzel real parents had missed her so much. Her mother, The Queen, was nothing like Mother Gothel, she was more strict though, or perharps, she had higher expectations for her daughter, and that was good because Rapunzel felt like living up the challenge. The only thing she could not manage still were shoes. High heels are beautiful, but they are scary and difficult to take steps in. Having a father was a pleasant surprise. The King seemed still awed by her very existence and didn’t ask for anything, just an ocassional kiss or a long friendful chat. Living with them the six months was the best experience of her life by far.

This night, they were having a winter ball. Everyone was going to wear white. Rapunzel made her entrance in her beautiful chiffon dress, she made her courtesies and hear the praises that where poured over her coiffed head. Then, the royal family went around the room with a gait so solemn that sometimes Rapunzel  had an incontrollable urge to laugh. They went beside the old Flynn Rider who received a nod from the King and a smile from the Queen. Rapunzel blew him a kiss and followed her parents to the great dining room, though she felt a little uncomfortable because Eugene had to sit far away from her at the table.

She took her place between her father and mother, trying to be as well behaved as her mother expect of her, and be as charming as her father believed her. Then, the service put a small plate of cookies in front of her and she almost fell like crying. Those are butter cookies, crisp and golden. They smell delicious. But the cookies reminded her of the mother whom she had lost.

The hall was completely silent. All eyes were fixed on the princess who tried to hold back the tears that struggled to pour out. The queen's face was perplexed but touched, her  white hand tries to touch her daughter's face, as if to caress and comfort her. The king did not know how to react, but in his eyes one could see the confusion and grief he felt at seeing his daughter distraught. Rapunzel looked up from the plate and her eyes met with the faces of her parents.

“Oh, forgive me!” Rapunzel said in a choked voice as she rose from the table.

The girl broke away from the table. The King got up immediately and tried to follow her, but a soft warm hand touched his arm. Queen's eyes were moist, but her expression did not hesitate.

“Please, give her her space,” She asked for in a genteel voice.

Fortunately, there was no one to stop Flynn Rider as he was still unmarried and no one to listen to advice. He rose from the chair in least privileged place and slipped out of the room. Having been a thief had its advantages. Walking through the almost deserted palace was a strange ride. He didn’t have to go far, Flynn knew where to find Rapunzel. What he did not know was if she liked the greenhouse because it had flowers or because it had a roof over her head and she was not outside in winter.

And right there he found her kneeling on the floor —if the Queen hd seen her daughter, she would have had a small stroke—, and trying not to cry. For a moment, Flynn was only watching her trying to control herself before he knelt next to her and presented her a handkerchief. Rapunzel looked up at him.

"What? You’re not to goad me?" Rapunzel asked, feeling a little condescended by his attentions.

"No, at least not until I know the reason you’re crying."

"Mother Gothel" was the reply. Rapunzel tried to stand but apparently the shoes were a major drawback.

"A ghost is what’s ruining your night?" Flynn asked, extending his hand to offer Rapunzel some support. She refused.

"She was my mother," she reproved and limped to a stone bench where she sat. "I do not know if I should feel guilty for enjoying life without her or if I should feel miserable for having believed that she loved me."

“From where I see it, Goldie," Flynn said, kneeling beside her, "both are very natural things.”

“How come?”

“This is the first time you have a real family. There is nothing wrong with enjoying it. And until you heard that she was using your whole life, she was the only family you had...”

“I miss her...” Rapunzel admitted while Flynn took away the shoes and rubbed her ankles. “But I like my parents.”

Flynn didn’t answer, trying not to disturb her. She could be naive, but she also had a temper which he didn’t want to trifle with. It was better if she sorted it out all by herself.

“Flynn?” She said after some moments of silence.

“Yes?”

“Thank you.”

The moonlight shone on them in the frozen sky. It was almost a magical night. Rapunzel leaned towards Flynn’s raised face. The scent of the flowers around them, theirs lips slowly approaching...

At that time, the orchestra began to play calling the guests to dance with a lively melody. Rapunzel jumped up and his hand took Flynn's arm —who was not sure of what was going on. They were all the way out of the greenhouse when Flynn attempted to stop her.

“Your shoes!”

“It is not the first time I dance barefooted!” she exclaimed, laughing and pulling him across the threshold.

Inside the dancing hall, two parents recovered their child; a man, his dancing partner; and a girl, her happiness, Next to the bench, in the light of the moon, were Rapunzel’s beautiful shoes.