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Rapunzel

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            As You arrived home from a long day at work, he found his pregnant wife staring out of the window with a wishful expression on her face. She was so beautiful like that, with her long blond hair hanging loosely and wearing nothing but a simple blue sun dress, but You only felt like he wanted to cry. It was clear his wife was less than happy and as he walked over to her and gently wrapped an arm across her shoulders, he saw what she had been staring at, the beautiful garden of their neighbour Chirolyn. As far as the eye could see his garden was full of every flower imaginable every single one in perfect bloom all year around. It was clear to all around that Chirolyn was a witch but as he kept quiet and harmed nobody his presence was tolerated, although not wanted. There was just something about Chirolyn that scared people and after realising this, Chirolyn had gone to more extreme lengths to appear intimidating with a bright pink Mohawk for hair and eye-liner. Nobody ever crossed Chirolyn and so his perfect garden had always been left alone by vandals and anyone intent on taking some of the flowers home. Not that it would be an easy task to steal from Chirolyn, his home was surrounded by a high stone wall.

            “What's the matter?” You asked, as his wife leant against him. “Are you sad that I haven't bought you any flowers in a while? I can always go and buy you some, though my love for you should be evident without even the smallest of gifts.”

            “No, I know you love me,” You's wife replied. “But every time I look out of this window, at the witch’s, garden I see such beautiful purple flowers like tiny little bells. I just know I need to eat some for this baby to be born healthy.”

            “I see the flowers,” You confirmed. “But I don't see how eating them will guarantee a healthy baby.”

            “Trust me, I just know,” You's wife replied. “Mother’s instinct, are you going to argue with your pregnant wife?”

            “I won't argue with you,” You replied. “Everyone knows pregnant women can get unusual cravings. If you want those flowers, then I shall get them for you.”

            “But how? The only place around here I’ve ever seen them is in the witch’s garden.” You's wife replied sadly.

            “If I must, I shall steal some,” You announced. “Whatever my wife wants, I’ll do my best to acquire. Especially if it will help our unborn child.”

            “Oh, please be careful!” You's wife worried but You calmed her fears with his words before waiting for night fall.

           

            That night You carefully climbed over the stone wall, doing his best not to make a single sound as to alert the witch who guarded the gardens. Surely Chirolyn would be asleep by now, for it was late and there were no lights shining from the house. Silently making his way through the flower beds, You located the flowers easily and helped himself to a single stem. That should surely be enough to satisfy his wives cravings and feeling pleased with himself You quickly made his way home to give the gift to his delighted wife.

            “Oh You! You are the best husband any woman could ask for!” You's wife exclaimed, her happiness erasing any trace of guilt You might have felt.

            “I try,” You answered with a smile, as he helped his wife pick the petals from the flowers and wash them ready to be eaten. Sitting by her as she enjoyed her unusual meal, You felt like the luckiest man in the world. He had a beautiful wife who loved him and a beautiful child on its way. What else could any man ask for?

 

            The next day You awoke to find his wife crying. Startled he pulled her to his body and stroked her hair as she sobbed. He whispered comforting words of love, until she was able to explain what was wrong. The flowers hadn't been enough, she needed more for the baby to be healthy and so You promised he would return to the witch’s garden as soon as it fell dark. If his wife wanted flowers, then she would get them.

            That night, once again, You climbed over the stone wall and headed for the flowers, feeling confident now. He had managed this easily the night before, why should tonight be any different? Smiling as he bent over to pick a stem, he didn't notice the witch’s presence behind him until Chirolyn spoke up.

            “Tell me, Mr Kurosaki, do you make a habit of stealing from your fellow man?” Chirolyn asked, making You gasp in shock. Turning he trembled before the intimidating man, who he knew was more than capable of hurting, even killing, him.

            “I'm so sorry!” You exclaimed. “It's my wife, she says she needs to eat these flowers to make sure the baby is healthy. Your garden is the only place we know where they grow. I meant no harm. Surely you can't miss a few flowers?”

            “I notice if even a single petal is damaged,” Chirolyn informed You coldly, as his eyes scanned over the huge garden with the look of a proud father. “But tell me. Why not just ask if I would give you some? If I had known, we could have easily come to an agreement.”

            “What kind of agreement?” You asked suspiciously, he just didn't trust this witch.

            “You can have as many flowers as you please, on the condition I raise your baby,” Chirolyn announced. “I've always wanted a child of my own.”

            “But....” You stammered. “You can't have my baby!”

            “Can't I?” Chirolyn asked, as his eyes blazed as red as fire. Gulping nervously, You found himself so scared that he agreed to the witch’s trade. With shaking fingers, You grabbed some flowers and bolted over the wall, wondering how he was going to explain this bargain to his wife.

 

            The baby was born, a beautiful son that the couple named Chachamaru, and was given to Chirolyn who raised him well. Sadly his parents never got to meet the boy, though they often watched from the bedroom window as Chachamaru played among the flowers with bright smile on his face. He was happy and well cared for at least and so You grew to accept the situation, distracted by the children he and his wife had given birth to and raised as their own.

            Across the wall the boy was growing older, until one day he began to ask questions. Where did babies come from? How come he never saw other people? Who were his parents? Not liking this questioning, in fear he would let it slip that You's parents lived next door, Chirolyn decided it was best to remove the boy from his home,

            Riding deep into the forest, Chirolyn soon located a large tower and filled it with luxurious furnishing and plenty of books and toys to keep his young son occupied, before locking Chachamaru within the golden prison. Chanting a spell Chirolyn removed all doors and windows, except the very highest, from the tower so as to prevent Chachamaru's escape. A second spell saw the boy’s hair grow so long that it could be used as a rope and braiding it into one Chirolyn gave his orders. When he called up 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair' Chachamaru would lower his hair as a rope, so he could climb up and keep the child company every day.

            “Father, why call me Rapunzel?” a scared Chachamaru asked, as his father prepared to leave him alone for the night.

            “What is your name?” Chirolyn asked and confused Chachamaru answered without hesitation.

            “Chachamaru Rampion.” he replied.

            “And what is Rampion?” Chirolyn asked.

            “It's...a flower.” Chachamaru remembered as his mind went back to the garden and the beautiful purple flowers that had always caught his eye.

            “Rampion is the normal name for the Rapunzel flower,” Chirolyn explained. “That is why I will call for Rapunzel, so that you know it is not some bad man trying to hurt you. Remember Chacha, unless they call for Rapunzel they mean you harm. I only lock you away to protect you.”

            “Of course, father. I'll only lower my hair for people who use that name.” Chachamaru promised, trusting his father completely, for why would the man who raised him wish him harm?

            Days passed and then weeks and months, until Chachamaru had grown into a strong young man with many hobbies and interests to pass the time in the tower. Without fail his father always visited him and his life was good because he had never known freedom and knew nothing of what lay outside the confinement of his tower.

 

            Prince Gackt rode through the forest enjoying the peace and freedom away from his royal duties. His long black hair was worn loose and shone like silk in the light as his well-tailored clothes spoke of his noble heritage. He had no fear of been mugged, for his sword that sat in its sheath could protect him from anyone foolish to try to hurt him. He was the best swordsman in all the land and the people respected and, for the most part, liked him, for he was a kind hearted, though egotistical, man.

            In the distance he saw a large tower and deciding today he would ride to it and then back home, he headed towards the stone structure that seemed to grow larger as he approached. Closing in on the tower he heard the soft melody of a guitar and stopped his horse some distance away to listen. The song was so beautiful, as if played by an angel, and spoke to his soul. It was a song of inner peace and the simple pleasures in life and Gackt felt tears of happiness fall, as the song played on.

            Like a knife to his heart the song stopped and Gackt gasped in disappointment at its abrupt finish. What had caused the musician to stop playing? Dismounting he crept forward to stare up at the towers window, where a beautiful man stood staring down at another.

            “Rapunzel! Rapunzel! Let down your hair!” Shouted up the man, though it was clear that his demand was unnecessary.

            “Oh father, why insist on calling when you know I can see you?” Called down the musician, as he pulled his plaited hair over his shoulder, shocking Gackt at the length that tumbled down the tower almost touching the floor.

            “I always call up.” The man responded, as he began to climb his son’s hair, surprising Gackt again by the fact that the musician felt no pain. One of these men was a witch and automatically he knew it was the man with pink hair. No guitarist as good as this Rapunzel could possibly have an evil soul and surely all witches were the devil’s children? No, Gackt was convinced that Rapunzel was an angel trapped by the devil himself without even realising it and as brave and gallant as ever Gackt decided in that moment that it was his calling to rescue this man.

            He waited all day for the witch to leave and then another twenty minutes to be sure he was long gone before he made his presence known. Stepping before the tower Gackt called up to the man with a strong powerful voice that spoke of his royal ancestry.

            “Rapunzel! Rapunzel! Let down your hair!” Gackt called up. waiting for the angel to appear. Sure enough he did. looking worried.

            “What's wrong? Has something happened to father?” The man called down, as he began to lower his hair for Gackt to climb.

            “Your father is fine,” Gackt replied. “Let me up and I’ll explain.”

            “Well you do know my secret name.” Chachamaru replied, as he let the last of his hair fall and nervously watched the young man climb up towards him. It'd been a long time since he'd seen somebody other than his father and he had no idea how to react to the prince’s presence. How did one act around a stranger? As much as his father loved him, he hadn't taught him how to deal with this situation and Chachamaru found himself scared and unsure.

            “My name is Gackt,” the man announced as he climbed through the window. “I am prince of this kingdom, one day to be king.”

            “You're a prince?” Chachamaru asked. He'd read all about princes and how they were always noble and kind, saving maidens from nasty men like the ones he knew were after him. He had nothing to fear from Gackt then!

            “I am,” Gackt replied with a smile. “I was riding through this forest when I heard you play such a beautiful song. My heart ached when it was interrupted and so I waited all day for the chance to ask you to play again.”

            “You're not a friend of my father’s then, you over heard his secret name for me.” Chachamaru accused.

            “I did, but my only intention is to hear you play. Please don't be scared.” Gackt explained and Chachamaru, who still had the innocent of a child, easily accepted this without suspicion.

            “I’ll play for you!” Chachamaru eagerly agreed, as he picked up a well-used guitar and began to play one of his favourite melodies. It was the song of happiness and peace and as he played he saw Gackt was smiling in joy at his song. As soon as it finished he started up another and another until the sun was rising and Gackt announced he had to go.

            “Will you come back tomorrow?” Chachamaru asked and Gackt readily agreed, knowing that he had fallen in love with this angel.

 

            Night after night Gackt visited Chachamaru and though he tried, he could never convince the other to leave the tower. He soon gave up, seeing how happy Chachamaru was, perhaps his father was a witch but he had done this man no harm. Only protected him from unknown enemies.

            One day when Chirolyn was visiting Chachamaru, he found a single strand of long black hair and angrily he turned on his son.

            “What is this hair?” Chirolyn demanded and in his innocence Chachamaru didn't even think about lying.

            “It must belong to Gackt.” He answered easily.

            “And who is Gackt?” Chirolyn demanded.

            “He's the man who visits me when you are gone,” Chachamaru answered. “Please father, don't be angry. Gackt loves me. We talk and laugh together and even make love. It's so amazing! You never told me what pleasure another man could bring. He wants to marry me but I said no, I could never leave you alone father.”

            “I will hear none of this!” Chirolyn screamed in distress. It was clear he had lost his son now! After all the years he had loved and raised this boy it was clear Chachamaru's heart was attached to another. A man no less! It was sick and unnatural and in that moment Chirolyn knew he would disown his son. “You have betrayed me! You let another into this tower and let him into your heart, where only the love for your father belongs! To make matters worse, you have ruined your body and soul by such an unnatural deed! You are no son of mine!”

            “Father please!” Chachamaru cried out, as he began to cry. How could his father be so mad? Gackt had done nothing wrong and surely he hadn't either? Why couldn't he see other people? Have friends and lovers? All the princesses in the fairy tales were surrounded by people, why was he alone? Finally he understood Gackt's distrust of his father. Gackt was right, if father truly loved him then he would have lived in a village and played with other boys and girls. He would have found a lover and got married and father would always be there because you never abandoned your parents.

            “Shut up! You are no longer my son!” Chirolyn screamed at Chachamaru, as he grabbed a pair of scissors and chopped off the long blond plait off hair before escorting him far away from the tower and abandoning the helpless boy to fend for himself, with no hope of ever finding his way back.

 

            That night when Gackt came to the tower, the long braided hair fell as always and he climbed up, thinking nothing strange, only to come face to face with the angry witch. Fear clung to Gackt's heart but brave as always Gackt stood his ground.

            “So, we finally meet. Witch.” Gackt snarled.

            “You! You ruined my son!” Chirolyn screamed. “You crept into his heart and tossed me aside!”

            “A lover never replaces the love for your father,” Gackt corrected. “Chachamaru loved you. Tell me, is he here?”

            “No! I had to disown him, as you selfishly tainted both his body and soul with your immoral lustful desires,” Chirolyn screamed. “I'll never forgive you!”

            “Where is Chachamaru!” Gackt cried out. “If you have hurt him, I swear I’ll get the entire army to march on this tower and destroy you. I can do that! I am your prince!”

            “Prince? You're a demon!” Chirolyn screamed. “You must be destroyed!”

            “I think...” Gackt began, taken by surprise as the witch swung a knife across his eyes blinding him. Knowing he couldn't fight like this, Gackt dived out of the window landing in a mound of thorns. It hurt but it had saved his life and stumbling away Gackt moved into the forest, as both blood and tears fell from his ruined eyes. He had lost his love and he had lost his sight but he wouldn't give up. If he could just find his way back to the palace, his father would avenge this, the witch would die!

            Spurred on by desire, Gackt spent many weeks living in the forest, living off fruit and seeds until one day he stumbled across the town. Hearing the sound of a guitar he froze in shock. He recognised that melody! It was the one Chachamaru had wrote just for him.

            “Cha! Is that you?!” Gackt called out and the music stopped, replaced by the sounds of excitement and running feet as the other fell into his arms.

            “Oh Gackt! I thought I’d never see you again!” Chachamaru exclaimed, as he held Gackt, tears pouring down his face.

            “I knew I’d never see you,” Gackt replied. “Your father blinded me but all is not lost. I have you my love! I can hear you, smell you, feel you! Who needs sight, when they have love?”

            “I love you so much,” Chachamaru sobbed. “You have everything, my heart, my body and my soul.”

            “As you have mine.” Gackt agreed carefully, finding Chachamaru's lips with his own. As they kissed his lover’s tears fell into his damaged eyes and as quickly as he had lost his sight it returned. Gasping Gackt realised he could see again but all he cared to look at was the man he planned to live the rest of his life with. With a gentle smile Chachamaru saw Gackt's eyes were healed. He knew, from all the fairy tales he had read, that he'd just found his happily ever after.