Chapter 1: Hello there…
They meet by chance.
He is wandering in the Enchanted Forest, not a long time after Gothel separated him from his daughter. Now, his ten years old girl is alone in the tower, and he can't get back to her, because of this curse of the poisoned heart.
And he walks, and walks because there is nothing else he can do.
He doesn't let her completely alone (no, he can't do it, he already did it with Bae, it's not happening again, not anymore), but he lets his crew with her, they will look after her, they promised they would.
Smee did, in fact, as some of the other pirates, and they may not saw him since ten years, but the thing is that they are still loyal to him, and if it doesn't help to heal the pain or to make it disappear, it helps a little.
His little girl won't be completely alone, and she shouldn't have to be separated from him, hadn't he been such an idiot, fighting for his honor, fighting for the thing that shouldn't have mattered for him, but he did. And now, they are both alone, far from each other.
Because these pirates won't be her family, even if they were one for him.
It breaks him, to be forced to recognize it, but he should have listened to the imp.
This one, even in his madness, knew what mattered the most, and it doesn't really surprise the pirate, regarding to who the Dark One lost, his own son.
Just as he himself did during this day.
He failed her, he failed Alice, his daughter, just as his own father used to do in the past, and this breaks him too.
Because he is still hearing her, his daughter's cries, asking him to save her.
But he can't. He never was a Savior, and never will.
He will always be a pirate.
He wishes he could be more than that.
He wishes he could stop disappointing his daughter.
He isn't the only one to be broken.
She is, too.
Just like him, she had been broken by Gothel' actions, by what she did, and also the things she made her do.
The witch destroyed her (or maybe that she destroyed herself and the things around her, maybe that she was already broken when this damn witch told her that she would be happy if she cursed Cecilia, that everything would be easier then), and, now she has nothing else than her pain.
Marcus was dead.
He died because of her, because of this whole situation, because of this mess, he died because she went too far in her project.
He died because she killed him.
He died, and now she is all alone, even though she still has her daughters (but not the one who matters the most for her, the one who is the symbol of what had been taken from her, and maybe that if she can make her come back, everything that had been broken will be fixed), and it happened because of her.
It was an accident, and no one ever knew what she did, not even Drizella or Ella, and none of them realized what really happened, and it's the reason why they can't understand why their mother became so cold.
Even if Rapunzel is trying, she is really trying, so hard that it hurts her, it's hard to look at Ella and not to see Cecilia in her, or to see what she did to the other woman.
A part of her heart begins to hate the little girl, because she is a constant reminder of what happened to her, of what Gothel did to her, of what she herself did to the poor woman.
It's hard to look at Drizella, and not to think about Anastasia, her dear and precious daughter, that she lost because of an accident.
But she will make her come back, she knows it.
And then, everything will be okay, as it used to be.
He was tired when he arrived next to the house. The pirate didn't really walk during a long time, as Rapunzel's house wasn't really that far away from the tower, but it was the first house the pirate saw since he left it.
And the thing is that before arriving, he walked without any real purpose, just wandering here and there.
He had no idea of where he could go, the only thing he knew, was what he wanted to do.
To find a cure for his poisoned heart.
Oh, and destroy Gothel too.
He may just cared for his daughter now, but it didn't mean he didn't want to get revenge.
Arriving close to the house, he saw on the outside a young girl, sitting down on the ground, who couldn't be more than eleven years old, and who had a doll in her hand, and a book in the other, that she was reading.
She had dark hair, and also a melancholic air on the face.
She started as she saw the strange man, and she looked at him with curiosity.
“Who are you ? She asked him. And why are you here ?
- My name is Killian Jones (he wasn't stupid enough to name himself as the pirate he used to be. He abandoned his statute when he had his daughter. Until captain Achab threw it back into his face and reminded him of who he really was), and I am looking for… (he didn't himself know) for a place, where I could have some rest.”
“Drizella, enter into the house, right now, she ordered to her daughter, with worry.”
Drizella obeyed, and immediately left them.
The pirate blinked with surprise, when he recognized her.
“Rapunzel ? He asked her with astonishment, really hoping that it wasn't again Gothel, disguised as the young woman.
- How do you know my name ? She asked him, still having her weapon in her hand, not ready to get rid of it.
How could he say this…
Hey, we slept together, but this was not really you, so we never met before, but I do know you in a certain way, even if it was not you…
I’m happy to meet you ?
I would be, if we were in other circumstances.
- Please, he said, not answering to her question, could you stop pointing this at me ? I personally don't want to be shoot by you, by accident, or purposely.”
She accepted, still suspicious toward him.
“Who are you ?
- Killian Jones.”
She looked at the place where his left hand should have been, and she became pale when she saw the hook, and she took again her weapon in her hand.
“You're a pirate, aren't you ? You're the infamous Captain Hook.
- Well, he said with a smile, I would have preferred to be known as the “famous” Captain Hook, but yes, it's me. And his face became dark. Or it was.
- Why are you here ?
- As I told it to your daughter, if she is, I want a place to get rest, I was separated from my daughter some hours ago. I just left the tower where she is imprisoned.”
Astonished, Rapunzel put her weapon down a new time.
“What ? What did you just say ?
- An evil witch, Gothel, I guess it’s the same than the one who imprisoned you some years ago, she did it with my daughter too.
- So, you know Gothel. Why do you hate her so much ?” Rapunzel asked him.
Hook's look was sharp and full of hatred.
“She took my daughter from me. Just as I told you. And you ? I kind of know, but I guess you still hate her.”
- She turned my life into a true Hell, the widow answered.
- How ?
- You first. What happened to you ?
- Ten years ago, I entered in this tower, searching for magic, and I found you. As Rapunzel blinked with surprise, he added. It was her, disguised in you, and she sent me on a quest to find a magic flower, which would allow her to flee herself from the tower.
- The tower in which she locked me up, and where I locked her up too, added Rapunzel bitterly.
- A thing I didn't know at that time. I found the flower I was looking for, and, instead of running away from her, and leaving the place, and then, getting my revenge, I came back to the tower. He chuckled. Maybe I shouldn't have, the irony is that, at this time, I tried to do the honorable thing, and it turned against me.
- What happened then ? I guess the story isn't over.
- The best part of it is coming right now, love, he said, ironic. Then, she… “thanked” me, if I can say that… We slept together after I gave her the flower who could help her flee.
- So… she made you sleep with her and… it was me, in a sense. Must have been awful to discover who she was, hum ?
- Yes, indeed. She used magic to get pregnant and so her baby would be born the morning after that.
- She is your daughter… and she stayed imprisoned in the tower, because Gothel needed someone of her blood to be able to escape, Rapunzel realized, having a disgusting air on her face. It doesn't surprise me, after what she did to me…
- What happened ?
- My husband and I, we were on a way to find something to cure him, as he was sick. And we did, well, I did. I found it, in Gothel's garden, and, well… she was not ready at first to give me anything. Well, not freely, in fact. So…
- You made a deal with her. And she took your freedom from you. She locked up you in this terrible tower.
- Yes, she did. For six years, before I found a way to escape. And then, I realized that it was what she wanted… She wanted me to go, and discover that I had been replaced, that someone else took my place in my family, someone else became the mother of my daughters, someone else was my husband's wife. My family was happy, even without me, and she wanted me to know it, to see it, and to ruin it. Well, she wanted to test me, to be sure that I was the Guardian she was looking for. Someone who would be pure of heart.
- But you weren't, right ? Because, I guess that if it was the case, your family would be as it used to be.
- Indeed. I… I poisoned Cecilia, and I made her leave, because her heart was poisoned, and any time she would touch Marcus, my husband, she would get hurt.”
When she saw the pirate's face become terribly pale, she understood something was wrong.
“This is what she did to me, the man confessed. She poisoned me too, she poisoned my heart, so any time Alice touches me, I will be hurt.
- I am sorry.
- And then ? What happened ?
- She left, I reconnected with my husband, and then...”
Rapunzel suddenly stopped. She couldn't, she just couldn't tell him what happened to Anastasia. Only Marcus knew it, he was the only one who used to know, with her and Gothel, that their little daughter was still alive, that she was in her coma, from which she couldn't wake up. Drizella and Ella still thought that their sister/step-sister was now gone.
So, she said nothing.
“Something terrible happened. Gothel did something terrible to me, and then… my husband died. I killed him, by accident. And now, I am all alone, with my daughter, Drizella, and a child, Ella, who is not my real child. Who will never be my daughter. And all I want is revenge against the woman who destroyed my family. I trapped her, in her tower, but now, according to what you told me, she is free. And she can hurt my family again. I refuse to let this happen again. I won't let her ruin everything another time.”
There was furor in the woman's eyes, a furor the pirate understood easily, because it was a furor that he himself shared with her.
“I know what it is, you know. The will of revenge. He chuckled. For years, for literally centuries, I lived with just this in my heart. Everything stopped the day I had my daughter.
- Really ? You just stopped wanting revenge ? Rapunzel asked him in interest and curiosity.”
She didn't know herself if she would be able to stop feeling this rage, this anger, against the woman who took her freedom, her family, her daughter from her.
She didn't know if she could, or if she wanted this.
Her anger helped her to deal with her pain, the pain of her loss, her loss of Marcus and Anastasia.
“Yes, he answered. I looked at this little child, in my arm, who was my daughter, and I was everything she had in the world, and I just couldn't let her here, I just couldn't abandon her. So, I stopped being a pirate, and I began the father Alice deserved. Or so, I tried to, he added bitterly, remembering that he failed her just the other day.
- Hey ! Rapunzel said, feeling the strange urge to comfort him. This is not your fault ! Gothel did this, she is the only culprit who has to be blamed.”
Hook had an ironic look and a cynical laugh, which were terrifying and which made Rapunzel be afraid of what he could do against her if he wanted to attack her.
Because there was so much pain in his eyes, so much anger…
Just as in herself, she realized.
“Do you have any idea of the reason why I was cursed ?
- No. No, of course, no. I guess Gothel just wanted to punish you for some obscure reason.
- No. She did it, because I didn't come back home at the right time. Because I fought for my honor, instead of going back to the tower, to my daughter, with the magical artifact which could have freed her from where she was locked up ! I made one bloody freaking detour, and she punished me for this, because she thought I was not good enough for Alice !”
“She can talk, she said with irony. She is the one who abandoned her daughter, who wanted to leave her alone, in a tower where she would have grown up with no one to raise her properly, as you did. This tower may be enchanted to make the occupant of this survive, but it doesn't mean this is enough to truly live. I know it well, I had to endure it for six years. You don't have to feel guilty for this Killian, I am sure she was just waiting for an occasion to trap you. Unfortunately, you gave one to her, but it was just a mistake.”
The pirate smiled, warmed and moved by this unknown woman's defense, who was the first person of not accusing him of anything, while he deserved it.
“Yeah. But maybe she wanted to punish me for my past crimes and mistakes.
- People can change. Look at me, she did attack me when I was still innocent. Now, because of her, I turned into a monster.
- I am sure you're not.
- How can you be sure of this ? You don't know me, you know nothing about me, except what I accepted to tell you. You have no idea of what I did.
- I think you're wrong, Rapunzel. Because you're the one who has no idea of what I did.”
And suddenly, she smiles.
“At least, we can both agree on the fact that we are both monsters. And that we have a common enemy. Would you accept to help me fight Gothel ? I guess this is the only thing we can do now.
- I accept, of course. I guess I will need some help.”
To be continued…
Chapter 2: Don’t feel guilty for something you didn’t do.
The first night at Rapunzel's house is not the better he ever had. His night is short, his sleep is not good, and he wakes up abruptly at 5 am.
He dreamed of his daughter, who was asking for help, desperate to have no answer.
When he woke up, there was a little girl standing up next to him with an air of curiosity on her face.
It was the other girl, the one who was not Rapunzel’s daughter, Hook remembered.
“Hum… Hello… What are you doing here ?
- I couldn't sleep, she simply answered, as if it explained everything, crossing her arms.”
Did Rapunzel tell her at all who he really was ? Did she tell her that he was a pirate and that it would be better if she didn’t stay too much close to him ?
Well, if she did, the kid was not listening to her at all.
“Did your step-mother tell you why I’m here ?
- She said you were trying to find a way to get back to your daughter.”
Oh. So, she didn’t tell them everything.
Maybe that she thought that they were too much young to heard things about pirates, criminals, and monsters.
He smiled for himself.
Maybe that she was a much more better mother than she thought she was, if she did it in order to protect them from the cruelty of the world.
Hook then had a sad smile.
“Aye… Yes, this is what I am trying to do.”
She sat down next to him, directly climbing on the bed, and Killian realized that he was surely not going to sleep for real for this night.
But it was not like he would have succeeded to sleep either, and he was in fact grateful toward the little girl, since she could help him to support this night more easily, if they both decided to talk together during the rest of the night.
“Why ? What happened to you ? And her ? How did you lose her ?”
I made a bad life choice.
As I always do.
“I made a mistake, he confessed. A terrible mistake. I am a pirate, he finally told her, wanting to be sincere with the little girl. Or in fact, I was one, once.
There was no fear in Ella’s eyes, only a wild curiosity, and her eyes were shining with excitement.
- A pirate ? She exclaimed, astonished. A real one ? Like those who are traveling into the sea, going to new worlds, hunting for treasures ?”
Killian smiled again, and it was a real one this time, as he was quite amused by the girl’s naive and refreshing way of seeing things.
She was still a little girl, after all, it was normal that she saw things she didn’t know well in a far more brighter way than they really were.
And he was not going to delude her about it for now, she deserved to continue to dream for a time, even if one day, she would surely know that pirates were not really good people.
He wanted her to stay innocent for now, she would have time to grow up and learn hard truths later.
She kind of reminded him of his Alice, by the way, because of her curiosity and to think again about his little girl made him loose his smile.
Oh, he missed her so much now, it did hurt him to be far from her, even though they were separated since only one day.
Ella saw it, and she frowned, understanding that she might have said something wrong without wanting to do it, and she tried as much as she could to divert him from his dark thoughts.
“What… what happened to you then ? Why did you stop being a pirate ? In fact, why did you become a pirate at all ?”
She had not come here by chance, but because she was bored and couldn't sleep, and that she had nothing to do, so it made her being really interested by his story.
The little girl felt quite lonely in this big house, being only surrounded by her step-mother, her step-sister, and their servants.
Rapunzel was a bit cold toward her, she was not a bad mother, this was not what she thought or felt about her, she was not cruel, but it was clear that she didn’t consider Ella as her own daughter (and since Anastasia was dead, it was even worst), but to be honest, the contrary was also true for the little girl.
Her true mother was Cecilia, and would always be, and even if she was gone since years now, it would not change soon.
Drizella, as for her, was like her mother, she was still hurt by Anastasia’s loss, even though she hid it better than her mother, she also had difficulties to form a real bond with her step-sister, as Ella herself.
She was alone, and she wanted someone to talk with her.
In fact, Hook then realized that he hadn’t told Rapunzel about his past as a pirate, or about his past quest for revenge against Rumplestiltskin.
He told her he wanted to destroy Gothel, and get his daughter back, but he still hadn’t told her about this part of his past.
(Just like she didn’t tell him anything about Anastasia.
They both had hidden wounds and dark secrets.)
But indeed, they had met just yesterday, it was not surprising that he didn’t trust her enough to tell her that kind of things.
She was still a complete stranger to him, after all.
So, yeah, if he still didn’t tell to a grown up woman that he had tried for centuries to kill a sorcerer, the “crocodile”, could he talk about that with a twelve-years old kid ?
He didn’t think so.
And by the way, could he tell her about his brother’s death ?
Or about all these other things he lived or did ?
He decided he wouldn't.
Not for now, not with her.
“This is a really long story. I became a pirate because I was hit by a terrible injustice which happened in my family. I stopped being a pirate after my daughter was born, because I didn’t want to leave her alone in her tower.
- But… Ella asked, surprised. Why didn’t you take her with you ?
Hook froze, before remembering that, no, unlike her step-mother, Ella didn’t know that Alice was trapped into a tower for what seemed to be like forever, because of some blood magic.
- I couldn't. Magic… magic had trapped her in it.
- Then, why did you leave her alone ? Why are you here ?
- I’m cursed. An evil witch named Gothel, the one who locked up your step-mother some years ago, she poisoned my heart, so, any time I am near my daughter, anytime she touches me, I’m hurt, and if I stay too much close to her, I die. I am looking for a way to cure myself.
- And how is Rapunzel going to help you do so ?
- Your step-mother wants to get her revenge on Gothel as much as I want to do. To be honest, I still don’t know what we are going to do against her, I know nothing about magic, all I want is Gothel to be… to be stopped and locked up for forever.”
(He had almost said he wanted her to be killed or dead, before stopping himself.
Again, she was a child, she didn’t need yet to hear things about murders or killings, even if it was exactly what he wanted to do to Gothel.
To make her suffer.
To make her pay.
Hell, what would Alice say of him, if she was seeing him being this way ?
Didn’t he promise to change for her ?)
Ella nodded her head, listening to all of this really carefully, with a serious air on her face, which was making her look a little older than she really was.
“And then… after it’s done, after you stop being cursed, and your daughter is free… What are you going to do ?”
Hook blinked, surprised.
To say the truth, he had never thought about it any second before Ella asked him the question.
He… he didn’t know.
He couldn't be a pirate again, not with Alice being in his life now, of course, he couldn't go back to this life anymore, this was not who he was, or so he hoped, the duel he had with Achab kind of showed the contrary.
“I… I have no idea, he answered. I guess that my daughter and me, we will try to find a place where we can live without me being recognized as the pirate I was once.
- You could also stay with us ! Ella affirmed, sounding hopeful and maybe also a little pleading too.
- What ?
- I mean… if you have nowhere else to go, well, you could stay here.
- Why ? You don’t know me, I don’t belong to your family, and I’m sure all of you would be better without me being here. In fact, staying here now is a bad idea. The more I stay here, the more I risk to cause you troubles, because of my conflict with Gothel. She might come back here, in order to hurt me or your family.
- I don’t really think she can hurt us more than she already did. And if she tries to, you and Rapunzel will protect us, right ?”
He smiled and his heart broke as he saw the complete and sincere confidence which was in Ella’s eyes.
Since Alice, it was the first time that someone did believe that he could be someone good.
“Aye… I swear I will try, kid. But, for what other reason do you want me to stay here after we defeat Gothel, by the way ?
The sadness which immediately appeared in Ella’s eyes made him realize that he had surely asked the wrong question, and he regretted asking it.
“My dad died when I was really little, I never knew him, to say the truth, I don’t remember him at all. Then, my mom got remarried with Marcus, while Rapunzel was locked up into her tower. He was like a father to me, I really loved him, and then, everything was ruined. Rapunzel came back, and my mother left me. She… she abandoned me, the little girl said, with tears in her eyes.”
No, no, she didn’t, she left you because she had no other choice. She wanted to protect those she loved. Just like I did it myself with Alice, he thought, remembering Rapunzel’s confession about that, but knowing too that he couldn't say that to her, that it was not the time nor the place, or his role.
He just kept listening to her.
“And then, my dad lost hope that he could find my mother and he just came back home, him and Rapunzel seemed to be really happy… And so were we. I just told myself : “Hey, maybe that we can really be the family we all always wanted to have and be, maybe that we can make things work…” Except that… then Anastasia got drowned, died, and Marcus died as well.”
Killian immediately froze.
Rapunzel didn’t tell him anything about her.
Then, he remembered a thing that Rapunzel had told to him, without saying it clearly.
Something terrible happened.
Gothel did something terrible to me.
She must have been talking about her, for sure.
“Excuse me, but… who is Anastasia ?
- Oh… I’m sorry, I thought… I thought Rapunzel had told you. She was my step-sister, Drizella’s sister, and Marcus’ and Rapunzel’s daughter… During winter, while we were making a snowman, my scarf was taken by the wind, and I had the stupid idea of walking on the ice because I wanted to get it back.
And I didn’t tell anyone I was doing so. Anastasia followed me, the ice broke and we fell into the water. Marcus… he plunged into the lake, immediately,and saved me. He never got the chance to get her in time. She died.”
Tears began to roll along her face, and Hook immediately heard the guilt in her voice.
He then did what he would have naturally did in the same situation, had it happened with his daughter. He hold her into his arms, while she continued crying.
He gently brushed her hair, and hell, it really felt weird, to do this with a girl who was not his daughter, except that at the same time, it felt terribly right because they both had lost someone they cared about, were both separated from someone they loved.
And because they both needed comfort, even one coming from some stranger, and the only reason why he was not crying too was because she was the one who was in pain and who needed to be listened to.
“Ella, listen to me. You did nothing wrong, it was an accident, this is not your fault.”
She got away from him and nodded her head, before wiping her tears.
“I know that, she sobbed. But… now I feel like Rapunzel thinks I did it, and that she resents me for Anastasia’s death, and I think she hates me for that.
How could anyone hate a child for something which was not its fault ?
She tries to cope with it the best it can, maybe it’s the only way she found to grieve her daughter’s death.
Not the best one…
Says the one who thought that hating the Dark One’s son for being the Dark One’s son was a good idea, before realizing that the father and the son had nothing in common.
- Well, she shouldn't. And you shouldn't feel guilty for just being alive.”
She tried to smile.
He was the first person to tell her that.
“But, in fact, she added, remembering why she had beginning all this conversation, my point is that, since Anastasia is gone… Our family is broken. What I once could call family doesn’t exist anymore.
- What does it have to do with me ?
- I don’t have a father anymore. Drizella doesn’t either. Not since Marcus died. And I thought that maybe… you could be our new father. If you wanted to be, of course.”
What the hell is this ?
“What do you want exactly ? Me, to date your step-mother ?”
He thought again about Milah, and his heart broke a new time.
He had slept with other women since her death, Gothel was a good example of it (hum, hum…), but to fall in love again ?
He was not sure he could.
Not disturbed, she just shrugged with nonchalance.
“If you want to, why not… But this is not what I mean. I am simply talking about… co- parenthood ? I guess… Maybe ?
- We just met, and you don’t know me.
- I know that you’re the only who told me I had nothing to do with Anastasia’s disappearance. You know me as well, you don’t care at all, because we just met, and yet, you tried to comfort me when I needed to be… Your daughter must be a lucky one, to have someone like you.”
“I am not sure you’re right, he said bitterly. I failed her the other day. I fought for my honor instead of coming back home immediately, Gothel maid me pay, and now, I’m cursed and she is still locked up in her tower.
- This is not your fault. She trapped you, she cursed you, it’s the witch’s fault, not yours.”
He smiled at the little girl.
“Tell me, she asked, shyly. Can I… can I stay with you ? For the night ? I can’t sleep, and I don’t think I will if I don’t have someone with me… And I don’t dare going to Rapunzel’s or Drizella’s bedroom.”
In a flash, he remembered all the times where his daughter had asked him the same thing, because of a nightmare involving Gothel, or for any other reason.
She smiled, and cuddled against his chest, and hell, she seemed to be so little, just like Alice herself was, and guilt came back, and he tried to ignore it, even if it was easier said than done…
If he closed his eyes for enough time, he could almost imagine that it was Alice that he was right now holding in his arms, and he understood why Ella wanted to have a new father, since she missed hers so much.
He wanted Alice to be with him, to be back into his arms, he just wanted to tell her everything would be okay, even if it was a complete lie.
For the first time of the night, as he was finally coming back to sleep, he allowed himself to silently cry.
To be continued…
Chapter 3: To fix what was once broken.
The morning after, Rapunzel had the surprise not to find Ella in her habitual bedroom, that she used to share with Drizella, but since Anastasia’s “death”, the two girls both had their own room.
She immediately felt an unexpected feeling of worry cross through her as she realized her step-daughter was missing, which showed that, unlike what she genuinely believed, she did care a little about the little girl.
Well, enough to be scared when this one was not where she should have been.
Wandering though the entire house, she went to Drizella’s room first, in order to see if Ella was there, as she used to be once, but she only found her little girl on her bed, sleeping peacefully.
She looked at her silently, and felt a wave of love invade her.
And then, realization hit her.
She was keeping Drizella away from her since Anastasia’s “accident”.
She had been so much taken by her quest to wake up Ana, that she hadn’t seen that she had another daughter, just in front of her, who worth something too, as Ana did, as Ella too, that she loved, a daughter who just wanted to be loved by her.
For some seconds, she tried to imagine being cruelly separated from her daughter like Hook had himself just been separated from his own child, and she felt her heart break into a thousands of pieces.
She had already lost Ana (not for forever, no, no, she swore to herself, she would one day find a way to get her back, to woke up her), if she lost Drizella too…
Her world would completely explode and mean nothing to her anymore.
And it would be the same if she lost Ella too, she understood, a girl who was not her daughter, but who was considered as being it by Marcus, who perceived her as being his daughter, as much as Drizella and Anastasia were.
This one didn’t deserve to be hated by her, but to say the truth, the reason why she couldn’t love her was because of what she did to Cecilia.
But it didn’t mean that the girl deserved to be mistreated because of what she herself did.
(She knew it, one day, she would have to tell Ella what had really happened to her mother, just as she would have to say to Drizella and Anastasia that she had killed their father.
One day, when Anastasia would be awaken again, when she would get enough courage to do so.)
Just as Drizella didn’t deserve not to be loved because her sister was gone for what seemed to be like forever.
Walking slowly near her daughter’s bed, she smiled at her, and she felt a tear roll along her face.
Hell, she had been really a bad mother, wasn’t she ?
She kissed her daughter’s forehead, trying to remember the last time she had that kind of moment with her, and realized that nothing like that had happened since Anastasia had disappeared, and she cursed herself for her own behavior.
Rapunzel had just seen a father devastated because he had been separated from his daughter, that he may not see for forever, and her, she was complaining because she had temporary lost one of her three daughters ?
Yes, her pain was still real, but at least, unlike Hook, Ana was near her, she could fight for her, and she had still two daughters she could love and take care of.
She promised to herself that now, she would.
Some seconds later, Drizella opened her eyes, and blinked with surprise.
“Mom ? What are you doing here ?”
She smiled at her with sadness.
Did it become so unusual for her to go to see her in her room so Drizella was surprised when she showed herself there ?
When did their relationship become so fucked up ?
When did she let it become this way ?
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
I’m so sorry, Drizella.
“I love you Drizella, she just said.”
A light of surprise and joy appeared in the girl’s eyes, and her look then softened, a smile appearing on her face.
“Hum… I love you too mom.”
When did our mother-daughter relationship become that awkward ?
And the other important question was : what could she do to fix it ?
Well, only by making Drizella understand that she mattered a lot for her.
Yes, she loved her, and she would do anything so she wouldn’t forget this truth : she was her mother and she cared about her.
Oh, and yes, she had to find Ella now.
“Tell me, Drizella, do you know where Ell… where your sister is ?
It still felt strange to say it aloud, it meant that she was beginning to consider Ella as being her real daughter.
- I don’t know… I think I saw her leaving her bedroom this night and going to Killian Jones’ room. I think she couldn’t sleep again.”
“What do you mean by “again” ?
- Well, she frequently has nightmares and insomnia, she once used to go to my room, but she stopped when Ana… got drowned. Because she thought I blamed her for what happened.
Because she thinks Cecilia abandon her right ?
So this is just my fault.
- Did you ?
- No ! But…
- But I did… Rapunzel realized, her eyes opening wide at the other realization.”
Indeed, she did it, and so did Drizella herself, unconsciously.
The daughter replicated the mother’s behavior.
Another thing she would have to fix soon.
“Fine, I will take care of it later… First, I have to know where she is. Thanks for helping me Drizella.”
Her daughter smiled to her another time, and Rapunzel felt well for the first time since Gothel came back into her life in order to ruin it again.
When she entered into Killian Jones’ room, she didn’t expect to find what she would see, that is to say : her step-daughter cuddled against him, and as she saw it, she was reminded of how Drizella or Anastasia once used to sleep with her and Marcus this way, when they were still little girls, before she was locked up into her tower, and before everything went down.
She felt an unexpected tenderness take her at this scene, and she smiled, and for one second, she hoped that things could go back as they used to be before, when Ana was still here, and when Cecilia was still not here.
But then, Rapunzel shook her head.
It wouldn’t, not until Anastasia woke up again.
Not until Gothel was defeated and destroyed.
Realizing that it was still early, she decided to let them sleep together for some time, realizing they both needed some sleep, since Ella had came here because of insomnia, and since the pirate must have talked with her before letting her finally take some rest. So, he needed to sleep too.
She asked herself how it would feel like, to have it again, to have a new time the family she had lost when both Anastasia and Marcus were taken from her.
(No, her conscious corrected her, when you turned bad and lost them because of your actions.)
Going at the kitchen, she asked to the cook to prepare a breakfast for everyone for two hours later, and this one looked at her with surprise.
It was the first time it was happening since… the accident, no one in the family ate with the otters, or at the same moment, in fact, the three women of the house always ate alone.
And he decided not to ask her why, still it was not his job, so he did what he was asked to do.
Two hours later, everyone was up, and Rapunzel seemed to be more… peaceful than she was the previous day, Hook rapidly remarked.
It was really furtive, and not really visible for someone who wouldn't have paid attention, and the truth is that he hadn’t known Rapunzel for a very long time (well if you didn’t take into account the fake Rapunzel thing), but he could see that her behavior was quite different from what it was the previous day.
She was more… warm toward her daughters, and Killian saw at two or three occasions a real smile draw itself on the girl’s faces, another detail which showed that, even if Rapunzel was not the best mother of the world, yet, she was at least trying.
It was something, more than anything Gothel ever done for Alice.
The atmosphere had quite changed too, Ella and Drizella were more cheerful than usual (a thing only Rapunzel or the servants could perceive and know, in fact), and indeed, the entire family around the table was more united than she had ever been in years.
It was just a facade, of course, and the pirate himself knew it.
They were not playing a game, but obviously, the “we-are-a-real-and-complete-and-loving-family” thing was not a thing they sincerely believed in, even if it was clear that they were trying hard to pretend they did.
Since Ana and Marcus were gone, nothing was the same anymore.
Their family was broken.
And in her innocence, Ella firmly believed that this pirate, whose family had just been broken the other night, could be the one who would help them fix it.
Maybe that she was the only one who was right about it.
After they finished eating, Rapunzel decided to send the girls with their private tutor, in order to give to herself and to Hook some space to talk about their future projects against Gothel and how they would succeed to destroy her.
(It was not something little girls like them were supposed to hear.)
“Tell me, she asked him, knowing that they were alone now, what do you intend to do at first ?
- Go back to the tower. I want to see Alice, well, as much as I can, I guess I will just be able to talk to her from a far place, since I can’t be near her. I want her to know I am fine, I want to be sure she is fine, and I want her to know I am not abandoning her.”
Rapunzel couldn't stop the wave of warmth which reached her when she heard the pirate’s discourse.
She smiled with tenderness, realizing that the pirate's first reaction to what happened two days before was not to immediately go and find the monster who ruined his life, and kill her, or torture her, but to be sure that his little girl was okay, and that she knew he kept fighting for her.
As a good father is supposed to do so.
While she had herself completely neglected the two children she was supposed to take care of.
Yes, Marcus would really have a poor image of her, had he been able to see her now, to see what she had become.
“Okay, she approved, you’re right, that’s the first step. And maybe… maybe we could go with you to see her at the tower, and explain her the situation, since… since you can’t do this.
He blinked, surprised.
- Wait, you would… you would accept to come back… there ?
In the tower.
Where her life had been tore apart by Gothel, where everything was taken from her.
Could she really do this ?
Well, did she really have the choice ?
If she wanted to help him, if she wanted to heal, if she wanted Ella and Drizella to understand what changed her into the person she was now, she had to.
“I can try. It’s the less I can do.
He smiled awkwardly at her.
After some seconds of a comforting silence, he then said :
“Ella told me. About Anastasia.”
Rapunzel immediately froze, and her look became charged of sadness and anger.
“What did she tell you ? She said with difficulty.
- That she got drowned and died.
And at the same time, it’s false.
She is still alive, even if she is not breathing, and I am not letting anyone take her away from me.
- Yes, she did… she whispered, tears threatening her to leave her eyes.
- I’m sorry.
- I know you don’t want to talk about it. (For the same reason I don’t want to talk about my brother’s death, he thought. Or Milah’s. They didn’t know each other well enough to be ready to make that kind of confidence to the other.) I just want you to know I am sorry for your loss. And I want you to know too that you still have two daughters who need you, who love you, and even if you think you’re a bad mother, I assure you you’re not. You’re trying to do your best, alone, and I knew mothers far worst than you.
- Thanks… Yes, I know it now, and I promise I will try to get better. To be a better mother than I have been these past years.”
This time, she smiled, and for some terrifying seconds, Killian had the painful impression to face Gothel again, remembering the way she had been and had smiled during their night together, and he shivered, before the illusion disappeared.
Rapunzel was not Gothel, just as Gothel was not Rapunzel either, he tried to remind himself.
And she would never be.
When the pirate, the lady and her daughters began their walk to the tower, Hook tried to hope that Alice would not resent him too much for what had happened during the night where Gothel had attacked them.
Because, after all, he was the one who had failed her.
I am coming home, Alice.
And I promise you, I will do everything to make you escape from this tower.
One day, Starfish, I swear you, you will be able to see the world.
To be continued…
Chapter 4: I miss you.
Alice Jones was terribly afraid.
It had been since less than three days that she had not seen her father, and yet, she already missed him.
Because, unlike the other times where he had left the tower, she had no idea of when he would come back, nor even if he would come back.
By the way, it was not like the other times when he left the tower because he had to, or because he wanted to get her something he knew she would like.
No, it was not what happened, not this time.
The witch had come, the witch had hurt her papa, the witch had smiled when she had seen their pain, the witch had cursed him, the witch had taken him away from her, the witch had ruined her life.
The witch was her mother.
She had given birth to her, and not only did she abandon her when she was a baby, she had decided that it would be a good idea to come back into her life ten years later and ruin it completely, because hell, it would just be fun, right ?
Her mother had separated her from her father, and now, the ten years-old girl had no idea if she would one day see him again, and she didn’t know either when (or even if) she would go out of this damn tower one day, since she had also taken the magical artifact from them.
Oh, the pirates that her father had let near her to take care of her while he was away had tried to reassure her, to tell her that things would be fine, Mr Smee especially tried to do so, but he hadn’t convinced her at all.
She couldn't believe it, not since her father just couldn't be physically with her or he would suffer and slowly die by enduring terrible sufferings.
The thing is, the tower never felt that cold to her before her father was taken from her.
She already knew loneliness, as despair, and despondence, it’s true.
Living in a tower from where she couldn't go, not being able to see the world apart what she could see from her window, knowing no one else than her father and being often separated from him, and not knowing if she would be free one day, there was of course moments in her life when she was not happy and deeply depressed.
But these moments never really lasted for long.
Because her father was with her, trying to distract her from her pain, and even when he was not here, at least, she could comfort herself by the certitude that he would soon come back, and that one day she would be free from the tower.
But now ?
She didn’t even have this anymore, even this tiny hope had been ripped out from her.
The three next days were passed by Alice between rage, sadness, despair and brief moments of joy thanks to the pirates’ presence.
Even if, despite their best efforts, there was something which would never changed.
She missed her papa.
The closest she got to the tower, the scariest Rapunzel was about all this situation.
She remembered everything.
The loneliness, the coldness of the tower, the despair of these six years where she was locked up without being able to escape, if she didn’t want to break her deal with Gothel.
She should have stayed in the tower, she thought.
Maybe her family would have been safer and happier without her coming back and ruining everything by her own presence.
In fact, she realized that it might be her, the real reason why her family fell apart.
Before her return, everything was okay and fine, the girls were sisters, they had a mother and a father who loved them, and Marcus was happy with Cecilia.
It was what she had wanted for him, for them, in fact, she had never asked him to wait for her return.
All of this was just her fault, she had provoked this by breaking her promise to Gothel, by running away from the tower, she had broken the deal which was supposed to keep her family safe.
She could continue to accuse Gothel, or Cecilia, or Ella, or even Marcus for being the responsible of their current unhappiness, but it would have been pure hypocrisy.
Rapunzel Tremaine was the responsible of the fall of their family, because she had refused to stay Gothel’s prisoner, she had broken the deal she had done, and the consequences had been terrible.
She had chased Cecilia by poisoning her, she had lost Anastasia for maybe forever, and she had killed Marcus.
Gothel had been completely right.
She was not the Guardian, nor a hero.
She would never be.
She had a sad chuckle, as she remembered how, in her naivety, she had found it quite easy to escape from the tower, since there had been no guards or no magic to keep her locked up into the prison.
Now, she finally understood the reason why.
Gothel might began to plant the seed of jealousy in her heart, and pushed her to ruin everything, but she was the one who had decided to do this.
Her family was not safe anymore and it was all her fault.
Looking up in front of her, she saw her two daughters walking next to Hook, the three of them were talking together, the pirate was evoking with them his life as a pirate, mainly talking about his adventures, and trying not to talk about the darker parts of his past.
Rapunzel began to smile.
It’s not too late.
I can still prove to Gothel that she was wrong about me.
These girls were all the things she still had kept from Marcus.
They were her daughters.
The only one who might succeed to make her believe she was still not completely twisted and broken.
They were the reason why she must fight against Gothel, not just because she wanted to enact a personal revenge, and not only because the witch had to be stopped, but because the two girls had deeply suffered from the dryad’s crimes as they had suffered from her own.
The witch had to pay for what she did, for all the lives she had ruined, for all her crimes, Alice’s abandonment, Hook’s curse, and all the other things that Rapunzel knew nothing about but that the witch had committed.
(Like killing the first humans of the Land Without Magic.
Or like her project of killing all the non-magical creatures of the world.
Yeah, this witch was pretty crazy.)
The young woman was then taken from her thoughts by Hook’s voice :
“So… here we are, he said, showing the tower to them.”
Rapunzel looked at the place which used to be her prison, and she suddenly paled, realizing too that she risked to immediately collapse.
Only Hook’s, Ella’s and Drizella’s presence stopped her to do so.
If she wanted to win against her old demons, she had to stay strong.
“Yes, she answered with a false smile. Here we are.”
She took a deep breath.
She swore to herself that one day, she would be able to look at this tower without being afraid, and without feeling like a lost little girl again.
“I never thought before this day that I would return willingly here, she said for herself, and Drizella frowned as she heard her mother talk.
- What do you mean ? You already came here before ?”
Rapunzel tried to smile without any conviction, and she brushed her daughter’s hair gently, pulling her into a tight and tender embrace.
She never told them.
The tower, her imprisonment, her deal with Gothel and her conflict with her, only Marcus had knew everything which had happened to her during the six long years where she hadn’t been at home.
The girls (including Anastasia, of course) had learned rapidly that Rapunzel had been kept as a prisoner by an evil woman, but there was a lot of things they ignored.
They never knew she had done this to save their family, and they didn’t know either that she had doomed them to their fall when she had escaped.
“Yes, I did. It’s the place where I was kept imprisoned.”
Drizella looked at her mother, and so did Ella.
“I never told you, right ? Drizzy… do you remember that night where your father was so sick, how much I was afraid he might die, and how I was so desperate to save him, and ready to do anything to cure him. Then, she smiled with tenderness at her younger daughter. No, of course you don’t remember it. You were so young at that time, and you and Ana, you were both so scared…
- I know… Anastasia told me, when… there were times where I couldn't remember you well. Remember your face, or your voice, how you smiled to us, how you tucked us in and kissed our forehead to say good night. She told me about that night where we lost you, but the more she talked about it, the less I remembered it. I wanted you to come back, I suggested the use of the lanterns to Ana, but in the end, I didn’t even remember who you were, the girl admitted.”
Rapunzel tried not to cry, just pulling her daughter tighter into her embrace.
Six years of separation with her daughter had been enough to make her almost completely forget her mother and everything which concerned her. There had been the lanterns, of course, that Drizella had the idea to use to give hope to her mother, but in the end, she had lost complete hope to get her back.
It was different from Anastasia and Marcus, her other girl had never lost hope to see her again one day, and she had kept more memories of her than Drizella did, and Marcus…
Well, Marcus had just moved on.
But Drizella, her, she had forgotten her completely, she had found a new mother in Cecilia, she had just replaced her.
It was what hurt her the most.
Looking around her, she did everything not to look directly at the tower itself.
If she did, she knew that she would just fall down.
She looked at Hook for some seconds, who was next to Ella and listening carefully to her, and she felt incredibly relieved that he was here, with them.
The woman felt less alone with him on her side, first because he was an adult (and apart her servants, she had not a lot of adults in her entourage, since she had no friends or family), and also because he knew too what it was to be trapped into the tower.
Just as her, he had never been truly imprisoned there, they just both had a duty of staying there, both for their own family, her for her husband and her daughters, and him, for his daughter.
He knew the tower more than anyone, maybe even more than herself or Gothel.
The pirate was looking at her with sympathy, seeming to encourage her to pursue her story.
She took a deep breath.
There was so much things she had never said to Drizella or Ella, so much things she still couldn't say, about Anastasia’s, about their father’s death.
But she could talk about what had happened to her in the tower, and how she got there.
“During this night, when I lost almost all my hopes of finding a way to save your father, I arrived then into the garden of a woman named Gothel…
- It’s the woman who trapped you too, right ? Ella exclaimed immediately at Hook.
This one nodded his head and had a false smile.
- Yes, indeed.
- I made a deal with her. She saved your father, provided happiness and riches to our family, and in exchange, I had to stay there.
- But that’s horrible ! Ella screamed. What kind… what kind of person does that ?
- You did this for us ?
- Yes, Drizzy. Of course I did. I got out six years later, and after that, everything began to fall apart.”
Because of me, she thought.
“You’re not the only one who was used and abused by Gothel, Killian then said. She used me, and when I gave her what she wanted, a daughter and a way to escape, she abandoned her immediately and let her locked up for forever. She left without looking back.
- That’s the reason why we are here, right ? For her. For Alice, Drizella said, curious.”
As Ella herself, she didn’t have a lot of friends, and the idea of knowing someone else, someone new, especially a person who knew nothing about the world and who had met no one in her life except her father and his crew, was making her really enthusiastic.
This time, despite his sadness, the pirate let a real smile illuminate his face.
His little girl.
“Yes. My little Alice. The members of my crew sent me a message yesterday, saying that they had to leave for a time. Being a crew of pirates, they are still wanted, and searched, so, if they didn’t want to be imprisoned for being who they are, they just… couldn't stay. So now, she is left alone, on her own, and my efforts to keep her safe and with some company were all done for nothing.
- You don’t have to worry about that ! Ella affirmed with a great smile of kindness on her face. You can’t be near her because of the witch’s spell, but we can, and we will stay with her as much as we can and as long as we can.”
Moved by the little girl’s discourse and kindness, Hook felt like he was about to cry, right now, knowing his little girl would not be alone now, and he smiled again.
“Thanks Ella. I appreciate it, really.”
Thewoman and the two girls prepared themselves for the climb of the tower, and as Rapunzel Tremaine looked at the tower a new time, she shivered, images of her captivity running again and again in her head.
“Hey ! It’s going to be okay, right ? She can’t hurt you anymore, you’re free from her now.
- I hope so. As long as she is away from the tower, I will never be completely free or safe. I am afraid of her coming back and taking away from me the last rests of happiness I still have.
- This won’t happen. You’re strong Rapunzel, you succeeded to imprison her one time, you can do it again, and I will do everything to help you do it.
She looked at him with determination.
- Thanks Killian, for your support. And I will do everything to make sure your daughter is safe with us, even if she can’t be with you.”
To make the ascension of the tower was quite strange for Rapunzel.
She was coming back to a place she had always wanted to leave, and the trembling of her legs and her hands only stopped when she reminded herself that Gothel was not here anymore and never would be.
Killian Jones was right.
She was safe.
She was not happy, her husband was dead, one of her daughters was in a deep coma, she had difficulties to reconnect with the other one, and her step-daughter was the living proof of what a terrible woman she was, but at least, she was not in danger.
Not for now, in fact.
As she finally entered into the place, the first thing she saw was the only inhabitant of the place : a little girl with blond hair and blue eyes.
“Who are you ? The kid asked, on the defensive.”
Rapunzel immediately thought : she looks exactly like Gothel.
In fact, for some seconds, rage completely overtook her and she was deeply tempted to do to the girl what Gothel did to Anastasia, put her between life and death and try to take her from her mother.
Only the sound of the arrival of Ella and Drizella took her from her dark thoughts, and she remarked something else about the child.
Alice Jones has her father’s eyes, she thought.
She regained her calm and her composure, and she looked at the child with confidence.
She is living the same thing I had lived, except that she was less alone than me.
But she is also cursed to stay here, what a terrible fate !
“My name is Rapunzel Tremaine, and here, there are my daughters.
- Are you Alice Jones ? Drizella asked her.
- Yes. Yes, it’s me. Why, she added, gaining some confidence, are you seeing someone else here ?
- No, indeed… I am Drizella Tremaine, she said, giving her hand to Alice.”
Alice cautiously looked at her hand, before taking it.
“Nice to meet you Drizella. And you are ? She asked at the other girl.
- I am Ella, the older girl said.
- I’m happy to meet you too. Why… why are you all here ? How did you find the tower ?
- You father sent us there to find you and take care of you.”
The little girl’s eyes became then illuminated with joy.
“My father ? Where is he ? Is he okay ?
- He is. As much as he can be, being separated from you as he is, of course. He is just there, under us, near the tower.”
Walking in direction of the window, Alice put her hand on the magical protection which stopped her from leaving the towerand looked at the outside, especially at the ground.
For some seconds, her heart stopped and she froze.
He was here.
Just as the woman had said.
The pirate looked up, and Alice felt relieved to see that he was okay, and her breath became more appeased as she realized that the distance between them was great enough which meant that he was not suffering from the spell the witch had inflicted to him.
“Alice ? You’re okay ?”
No. I’m not, not anymore because you’re not here and I’m all alone.
I miss you papa.
She forced herself to smile, not wanting to worry him.
“Yes, I’m alright papa ! Rapunzel and her daughters are with me ! Thanks for sending them to me, now that all the pirates are gone, I was feeling a little lonely.”
Thanks for coming back to me.
He smiled at her and it warmed her heart.
Her papa was here, with her, and he was okay.
“I love you starfish, he screamed to her, with tears in the eyes, and raising his hand in the air, as if he wanted to hold her against him.
- I love you too papa, she answered, trying without any success to put her hand out of the tower.”
Hell, he was both so close and so far from her…
She wiped her tears, continuing to smile with both joy and sadness, before turning back in Rapunzel’s direction.
Alice didn’t hesitate any second, and she run in Rapunzel’s arms, hugging tightly.
The noble woman froze, not understanding what was happening to her, since she was not used to these marks of affection, before automatically pulling her arms around the little girl, replying to the embrace.
“Thank you, the prisoner of the tower simply said. Thank you very much for bringing back my papa to me.”
Rapunzel smiled, feeling tears begin to form themselves in her eyes.
I’m sorry you have to endure that, kid.
She tried to imagine a little girl like her, all alone in this so great and so cold tower, like she herself was for six years, and it broke her heart.
It was a chance that she hadn’t become crazy during her life there, and she had been a grown-up woman who could handle herself.
While Alice wasn’t.
“You’re welcome Alice, she whispered, deeply moved.”
She then promised to herself that she would defeat Gothel one day, not only for revenge, or because it was the right thing to do, or for Anastasia, but also in order to free this little girl from the terrible prison where her own mother had locked her up.
Hugging her in her arms, she closed her eyes, imagining for some seconds that the little girl right here was Anastasia, alive, awake and breathing, as it should be.
And, just as Killian Jones himself was doing so under the tower, Rapunzel Tremaine began to cry.
Gothel was quite satisfied of how the things had turned.
She had done what she had to do, and if she was lucky, things would go the way she wanted them to do so.
And they would, she knew it.
The pirate was cursed, far from his daughter, her daughter, and one day she would come back, one day she would exchange his life against her daughter’s help.
One day, she would come back to Rapunzel’s home, and take Drizella’s from her, when this one would be too much broken to accept her mother’s indifference toward her.
One day, the curse sending them to the Land without magic would be finally cast, and then, she would finally eradicate all the non-magical humans from the world.
But that would be for another day.
Walking in the coven’s garden, she finally smiled when she saw Seraphina.
The dark-skinned woman looked at her, and smiled, before kissing her.
- Gothel, you’re back !
The witch smiled.
- Yes, I am…
- Did the plan work ?
- It did. Then, she interlaced their fingers. One day, I swear to you, we will finally get our revenge on the humans who destroyed our lives, she said, before kissing her again.”
What she didn’t know, is that sometimes, the determination of two parents can be much more powerful than magic.
To be continued…
Chapter 5: To find a way.
During the following hour, the three girls chatted together, talking about books, paintings, drawings and about the sea too, since it was a thing they all dreamed to see for real.
To Alice’s relief, the two other girls avoided talking about her father’s curse, and they tried their best to divert her from her dark thoughts, while Rapunzel was looking at them with a smile.
It felt right, strangely, to be here, in this tower, since she was not locked up there.
In fact, it still hurt a lot, because of her memories of what she had lived here, but with Drizella’s and Ella’s presence, the tower didn’t feel anymore like a prison to her.
And she realized it must have felt the same for Alice, until her father was brutally ripped out from her, and anger rose again in her chest, when she understood more and more what a terrible mother Gothel had been.
Worst than her, indeed, and even if it didn’t change the fact that she was herself a bad mother, to know that there was someone else more monstrous than she herself was, it made her feel a little better.
It proved that it was not too late for her.
That she could change, and she surely wanted to.
She wanted to be a good mother, and the first step in this process was to make her daughters know that they were loved, to know that she cared, and the only thing she could do was to talk with them.
She had to make Ella understand she didn’t blame her for what had happened to Anastasia.
She had to make Drizella know that just because Anastasia was not there anymore didn’t mean that she didn’t love her.
She also had to accept the idea that maybe, she wouldn't be able to make Anastasia come back, she had to accept fully that her little girl may be totally dead now.
It didn’t mean that her family was broken definitely, not at all, and maybe she just had to do what Marcus had done while she was herself gone.
To move on, and learn to live again.
And she as well as had to make Alice know that her father hadn’t abandoned her at all.
Yes, she swore to herself, she would become a better person.
She would make things right this time.
Alice Jones didn’t know what it was to have friends.
During the ten first years of her life, it had only been her father and her, and no one else.
The other interactions she ever had with other people had been either horrible (the little moment where Gothel had been there, in the tower, was now surely the worst thing she had ever lived) or awkward, like with her father’s crew, as they were not really used to talk with children.
And she was either not used at all to interact with people who weren’t her father.
It had felt nice, though, not to be completely alone, while her papa was away, but it was not the same.
It didn’t feel like home.
And a part of her feared he would never come back home, that she would never see him again.
Sometimes during the three previous day, she couldn't sleep, being overwhelmed by the fear that, one day, her father would die, and that she would have to stay here without succeeding to escape. She was scared as hell by the simple idea of staying here for forever, alone and miserable, and to be forced to rot there, and to die in the only place in which she had been during her life.
The only place she had ever known as a home, turning into a real prison.
And now, it was the same, it did feel strange and awkward, but in a different way.
At first, her papa was not far away from her, he was just next to her, under the tower, and yes, he was still too much far from her, but at least, he was here, and she was sure he was okay.
For just some hours, she didn’t have to feel worried, or to be scarred that something bad could happen to him, she just had to look out of the tower, and she would see him.
He was here, he was safe, and she was not alone.
Being locked up in the tower was not the worst fate for her, in reality.
To be alone there was the most terrible thing that could have happened to her, and she was relieved, so relieved to be with people who had brought back her father here.
In a place where she could see him, but without hurting him.
And she was so grateful for this toward Rapunzel and her daughters.
They had brought her father back home.
While Ella and Drizella were looking at her drawings and her paintings with admiration, Alice was herself examining Rapunzel.
This one had sat down on one of the chairs of the tower, and was looking around her with an air which seemed to be full of suspicion or discomfort.
She didn’t like the place.
And it appeared clearly on her face.
“You already came here, didn’t you ? She asked her, curious.
Curiosity killed the cat, or so people said, but Alice couldn't help herself from asking, and she knew it.
She was too much curious for her own good.
Rapunzel grimaced at this, with a tense air.
- Yes, I did, she answered. It wasn’t… it was not a pleasant experience, she recognized with a fake smile, clenching her fists.
- What happened ? Alice demanded to her, frowning with interest.”
She shouldn't have asked, and she knew it, but there was something in Rapunzel’s attitude which made her think that maybe she had not been the only one who had been doomed to stay here.
“It happened something like… six or seven years ago. During a night where my husband was sick, I found a garden in which there was a cure I could use to save him… But the guardian of the place didn’t let me take it for nothing, of course. So I made a deal with your mother, and…
- She is not my mother ! Immediately exclaimed Alice, paling extremely. She gave birth to me, yes, but that’s it. She just used me and my existence to get out of the tower, she let me alone and left without looking back. Without my father, I have no idea of what or who I would have become. She is not my mother. She never was and never will be.
Rapunzel nodded her head.
- Fine. I understand what you mean. Well… Gothel, this bloody witch (well, bitch would be a a better term, she thought for herself, not daring to say the word out loud, since the girls next to her were still children) made a deal with me. She would provide a good life to my family, and in exchange, I would have to stay here for forever. But I broke the deal, and escaped.
- She didn’t trap you there by magic ? Alice said with a surprised voice.
- I think she wanted to test me, to test my morality, to know if yes or no I was… selfless enough to stay away from my family for forever. It looks like I wasn’t.
- You wanted to come back home, Alice said. Anyone else would have done the same thing. I would have done this, if I had been able to leave.”
Even if it would have meant your family’s destruction ? Rapunzel asked herself bitterly.
She bite her tongue, stopping herself from saying it.
Alice didn’t deserve to hear it.
“I’m sorry she took you away from those you love, Alice said.”
It changed nothing, of course, it wouldn't bring Marcus back, it wouldn't make Anastasia wake up, it wouldn't erase the lost years or make things come back to what they used to be.
And yet, Alice’s consideration moved her deeply.
“Thanks kid. Thanks a lot.”
Before leaving the tower temporally, Rapunzel looked a new time at the three girls behind her, who were talking, laughing and giggling together.
At this sight, she felt a feeling of warmth invade her.
As well as fear.
A fear which was completely absurd, and she reassured herself the better she could.
They are fine, they are safe, okay ?
You can leave them alone for five minutes, nothing bad will happen in this little period of time.
Nothing is going to happen to them, nothing will harm them, and Gothel is not here, she is far away, she won’t touch them.
She won’t destroy your life again, not anymore, not a new time.
It’s a promise.
What if Gothel came back one day ?
She had no magic, she didn’t know how to fight or how to defend herself, she had never learned to do it…
She would be defenseless, if it happened one day.
Rapunzel took a deep breath, and left them alone.
“Is Alice all right ? Did she lack of anything while I was gone ? The pirate asked her when he saw her again.
She forced herself to smile.
- Yes, she is. And no, she didn’t, don’t worry about that. I talked with her, she is fine, she is safe and sound, I promise you. Her only problem is that you can’t be with her.
Relief invaded Killian Jones’ face.
- Fine, he whispered to himself. Then, he began to smile to her. Thank you, he told her, that’s the only thing I wanted to hear.
- What do you intend to do now ?
- What do you mean ?
- You saw your daughter again, she saw you as well, and it’s good, really, but… what happens next ?
- I still don’t understand…
- She is still locked up, and you’re still cursed. I don’t want to be pessimistic, but… this doesn’t promise to be really good. My daughters and I, we can visit her, so it means that she is not alone anymore, but it doesn’t change anything. It just can’t stay this way.
The pirate crossed his arms and looked at her with a serious air.
- What do you propose then ? I must admit I myself still didn’t find any solution to solve my problems. Despite thinking about it permanently during the last days. There is no way out for her, and if I enter, I will kill myself in the process. Her and I, we are both trapped in different ways.
- I’m sure you already thought about it, but… We need magic.
- I had magic with me when I tried to free her. But Gothel, well… She stopped me.
- What happened there, in the tower ? After she cast her spell on you ?
Clearly, these memories were terribly painful for him.
- If you don’t want to talk about it, I understand…
- She said I wasn’t good enough… The witch, Gothel, he added, clenching his fists with anger, she dared saying that I was not a good person, while she had been the one abandoning Alice ! It’s just pure non-sense… And then, she kicked me out of the tower, saying I wouldn't see my daughter again, and that I wouldn't be able to save her and get her out of her prison, or something like that. I had an artifact with me some seconds ago, and then… Then it was completely gone.
- Did she… did she destroy the object ?
He blinked, before a light of stupefaction appeared in his eyes.
- No, he answered, astonished. I… I remember her casting another spell and the magical artifact just… disappeared in a purple cloud.
- So, it can still exist and be useful for us ! She might have kept the object with her, don’t you think ? Maybe that we could get it back from her ! Knowing her, she must be in a garden by now… she added.
- If we attack her, she will know we want to defeat her and stop her. It might have terrible consequences on you and your family. I don’t want to imply you even more in this project.
- The thing that you don’t seem to understand, captain, is that I’m already implied in this. I would do everything to protect my family from this bitch. If it helps you being reunited with your daughter, well, I’m totally in !
- Alright, alright… he accepted, smiling fondly, realizing that him and Alice weren’t alone anymore.
- So tell me captain, she asked him, do you have any suggestion ?
- I have some, yes.”
Smiling, she sat down in front of him, and began to listen to him.
To be continued…
Chapter 6: Old wounds don't heal easily.
“In fact, he began to say, I don’t have a lot of knowledge in magic.
- Nor do I, she admitted. Except the magic Gothel used in my presence, and some I used myself without understanding how it worked, I know nothing about it.
- Aye… I feel like it’s going to be difficult for us to defeat her if we ourselves can’t use her own weapons against her.
- I only know some things about the fairies and the wizards , Rapunzel added, that they are real, and have powers, but nothing else, unfortunately . And by the way, I am not sure they can defeat someone as powerful as Gothel is.
T o hear these words made some memories come back in the pirate’s mind, and his face twisted in discomfort.
- I know someone who might be powerful enough to succeed to destroy her, or at least, defeat her.
R apunzel’s eyes suddenly brightened with interest and excitement .
- Really ? Who is it ? And where is this person ? Would he or she accept to help us against this witch, or to free your daughter or cure you ?”
Hook immediately grimaced and Rapunzel frowned.
“It won’t be that easy, he confessed.
- What’s the problem ? She asked.
- Well… First, we don’t get along at all, since he is my sworn enemy. Or former, as I stopped trying to kill him since Alice’s birth. It’s not like I would have been able to succeed in this task, he added with a bitter tone. He is the Dark One, he explained, the one who took my hand and killed the woman I loved, who was also his ex-wife.
He didn’t add anything else .
It was already painful enough to think about Milah again, after all these years, but to talk about her…
It was pure torture.
- That’s a really long story, he continued . And it’s not the worst problem. The problem is that he is locked up in the queen’s and king’s cellar. And I am not sure they will let us approach him, since he is a well-guarded prisoner. I did it some days ago, but circumstances were different, I was not alone, and this time, I don’t think it will be that easy.
- We will have to ask the queen and the king to let us see him. Gothel is a danger for the entire kingdom, even for all the kingdoms. We have to make them understand it’s crucial for us to stop Gothel from doing… whatever she intends to do in the future. Do you think you will risk getting locked up if someone recognizes you as Captain Hook ?”
The pirate shrugged.
“Even though it happens, I don’t care. I want Alice to be able to leave the tower for good. If it means I have to pay for my crimes by going to prison, that’s something I accept.
- Then, let’s hope that no one except the Dark One will realize who you are…”
Rapidly, the question of their respective daughters and where they would be during their trip became an important matter.
Alice’s fate was the easiest one to discuss.
She couldn’t leave the tower.
End of the debate.
And there was not really one to say the truth.
But, concerning Ella and Drizella, the question was more… delicate.
They couldn’t bring the girls with them, for sure, not for such a long and tiring trip, they were only children.
Seven hell, Killian and Rapunzel themselves didn’t quite know where the palace was, nor how many time they would need to go there.
By the way, they also didn’t want to leave Alice, and since the other pirates weren’t there anymore, she would be so the second they would go back to Rapunzel’s house.
“What if we let them here with your daughter ?
- You mean, on their own ?
- No ! I mean, yes, but not completely alone, of course. I will let one of my servants with them, to take care of them while we go to the capital. I know that they could stay there together, and that here, in the tower, its magic could provide things to them, but I prefer them not to be alone. They are just children, after all.”
“Fine, it sounds good to me.”
The noble woman climbed the tower again, and explained the situation to the three children, who were both delighted to learn that :
- there may be a way to free Alice from her prison and cure her father.
- they would stay here and that Alice wouldn’t be forced to stay on her own in this great and cold tower.
As she realized that her new future friends would be able to carry some of their books with them during their stay in the tower, Alice’s eyes began to shine with interest and excitement.
Being a lonely girl in an empty tower (even though her father had done his best not to let her alone for too much time before Gothel cursed him), she didn’t have a lot of things to do, except painting, reading, playing chess against herself (when Hook was not in the tower to do so) or thinking about a way to leave the tower for forever.
And except the objects her father or the magic of the tower had brought to her, she didn’t have a lot of belongings either.
So, yeah, it would be good to have someone else than her father in there, since the young girl craved for some company, for someone, anyone with who she could talk, someone who wasn’t herself or her stuffed rabbit.
She was tired of being alone.
And if the people around her were little girls of her age, well, it was even better.
For the first time of her life, she was going to have friends, real one.
Not imaginary one, not characters coming right from a book, they were real.
The pirates had been nice with her during the time where they were at the tower, but it was not the same thing, they were not like her father, she didn’t know them, not like she knew him, and they couldn’t have become her friends like she thought Ella and Drizella would be one day.
Or so she hoped.
By the way, she also began to hope that, maybe, one day, she would be able to get out of her prison.
That was the only thing she had always wanted, apart her father being cured, of course, and for the first time since her birth, she dared hope that it could become real.
And, if the other girls stayed with her while her father and Rapunzel were going to the castle, then, it would be less painful, right ?
She would not be alone, and her father wouldn't be as well, and they would both have people to take care of them.
They were not together, yes.
But it was better than nothing.
Three days later, Rapunzel, her daughters, and Hook came back at the tower, accompanied by one of Rapunzel’s servant named Elizabeth, who was the girls’ tutor.
She would take care of them while they were all away.
The two girls were quite disoriented at first, because of their new environment, because Rapunzel was not here anymore, and even though she was not really the mother of the year, well she was theirs, and you couldn't deny that she was trying her best.
She was their last link to Marcus and Anastasia…
Well, she indeed still was their family.
Abrokenfamily, indeed, just like Alice’s was, abandoned by her mother, separated from her father because of the same woman who had left her alone, while on the other hand, their respective fathers, adoptive or not, was dead…
No wonder that the two girls had easily formed a connection with the other little girl.
In a sense, they were the same.
Yes, it was awkward at first, for the three of them (well, four, with also Elizabeth), because Alice herself was not used to talk to people in general, which was also the case of Ella and Drizella, who themselves didn’t meet new people frequently.
But, being all eager for friendship, they got used to each other quite rapidly, and at the end of the first day, even if they weren’t the best friends of the world, they were already quite close.
And, as she went to sleep, Alice figured out that maybe, things would work out this time…
At the same time, Killian and Rapunzel were both on their way to the palace and to the capital, not knowing exactly what they would find there, or how they would be welcomed.
Well, it was more complicated regarding to who Hook was than it was with Rapunzel’s identity, since he was still a pirate (Achab had easily recognized him, didn’t he ? Even though he hadn’t really been out of the tower during the ten previous years), and if he was recognized as being one, as being who he was, well…
They would be fucked.
Fortunately, unlike what they feared, during their trip, no one recognized him as Captain Hook (the fact that he had changed his clothes and didn’t have his hook anymore with him helped a lot, for sure), and no one recognized her as Lady Tremaine as well.
(Not that it would have been a real problem…)
Yes, strangely, their trip was quite quiet, luckily.
And quick too, well, since they had no time to waste, they took only one week to go the palace, and when they arrived there, they waited for an audience with the king and the queen.
What were they going to tell them exactly, when they would have a chance to talk to the royals ?
How could they convince them of the threat that Gothel was ?
Well, they didn’t even really have the time to say anything relevant, since at this moment, well..
Hook’s past just came back to hit him right in his face.
Maybe that he should have known better, he figured out, maybe he should have known that his past would never leave him alone.
What he didn’t expect, for sure, was to see them again.
Well, the brunette woman was not the one he recognized immediately, since he had seen her just… one time in his life, but the kid next to princess Emma…
He knew him, for sure.
It was Baelfire, and a lot of how on hell is it even possible began to run into the pirate’s head.
And of course, exactly the day where he was coming just there in order to protect his daughter from the terrible witch who was threatening their lives, it had to be the day where he would see again the kid he had given up all those years and centuries ago.
Oh the irony…
So yes, it was true…
They were so fucked.
She was Belle, he figured out too, rapidly, the girl who didn’t perceive the Dark One as a monster.
The one he had almost killed when she was still a prisoner…
Indeed, in fact, if he wanted to hid who he was truly was, he couldn't do it anymore.
That was quite… surprising to see them here.
It was not really that much surprising, regarding to Belle (she must have been freed from her cellar in the Queen’s castle after this one had lost against Snow White and Charming), not only the king and queen were here, the princess was there, as the Blue Fairy, the werewolf Ruby, the dwarfs and a lot of other people that had been on the queen’s and king’s side during the war against Regina and king Georges.
But Baelfire shouldn’t have been there.
He didn’t want to have to do anything else with the Enchanted Forest, right ?
So, how did he come back here ?
And especially… why ?
They were, in fact (except other pirates, his crew or Rumplestiltskin himself) the only two people who could have recognized him.
Unluckily, they were just here.
They recognized him immediately, of course.
And, as he looked at them, he read his defeat in their eyes.
Him and Rapunzel really had a problem.
To be continued…
Chapter 7: I think we have a problem. (Or several.)
Author's note : And I'm sure nobody reads this story anymore...
Rapunzel immediately realized that something was wrong with Hook.
This one had immediately frozen after they entered into the throne room and, as he looked at the people in front of them, she saw something appear in his eyes, something like... recognition.
Like he knew them.
And apparently, the woman and the teenager just here knew him as well.
And considering the way their eyes darkened the second they saw and recognized him, it was not a good thing for them, definitely not.
"Killian ? She asked him, wondering what the hell was going on."
He didn't even know what to tell her, to be honest.
Belle and Baelfire both looked at him, with anger in their eyes, their fists now clenched.
Belle was the first one who began the hostilities.
"Captain Hook ! She exclaimed, a surprised eyebrow raised up, a tone of cold anger in her voice.
He was not even surprised.
He deserved it, didn't he ?
Okay, so the "let's try to hide the fact that the pirate Captain Hook just entered into the castle and oh he is with the king and the queen now" plan just fell through.
Well, let's try plan B then...
They didn't have any plan B.
What were they going to do then ?
- That must be me, he answered not knowing what else to say, hell, she was not even supposed to be here, she was supposed to...
She was supposed to be locked up in the Evil Queen's castle, in one of her cells, but now that the Evil Queen had been defeated some years ago, it was only normal and logical that she was free by now.
And if she was one of the friends of the king or the queen, her presence was not that unusual, he had to recognize it.
- The two of you know each other ? Rapunzel asked. How ?
- It's a long story, he said.
- What the hell are you doing here ? Baelfire then asked him.
- No, the pirate replied, still astonished by his presence, what the hell are you doing here ? The last time I saw you, you still were in Neverland.
- Oh, you mean the day you abandoned me and gave me to Peter Pan ? The young man said with sarcasm in his voice.
Rapunzel frowned her eyebrows and looked at her ally.
Apparently, she didn't know him well, but the truth was that she hadn't told him everything about her life as well.
- Yes... That day, he acknowledged with difficulty.
- Well I used Peter Pan's shadow to escape, I wanted to go to the world without magic, but I failed and ended up here. That's all. What about you, still ready to try to kill my father ?
- I'm not... I'm not here for that, he said, remembering that they were supposed to ask them for help against Gothel, and that he was here for Alice, not for his old and past revenge.
- What are you doing here then, will you try to knock me out again ? Belle wondered, harsh. Or leave me into Regina's cell to die ?
- If I am not wrong, you're still alive, aren't you ? He asked her, ironic.
- Not thanks to you, she immediately answered.
- Yeah, Bae added, and it's not thanks to you that I survived Peter Pan's cruelty.
- I never wanted to...
- What, you never wanted to abandon me ?
- This is not what I mean, I...
- Why are you here ?
- I am here for my daughter !
- Oh, you have a daughter now ? Poor child, I pity her...
- Please, Rapunzel said in a dangerously low voice, could you just shut the fuck up ? All of you ! We have more important matters to examine right now, like, I don't know, the fact that there is a dangerous witch wandering freely gods know where !
Princess Emma looked at her with confusion.
- Who are you anyway ?
- My name is Rapunzel, Rapunzel Tremaine, I have been locked into a tower for six years by a witch named Gothel, she took me away from my family, and then, I escaped and locked her up in the prison she had build for me. But now... now she is free, she has magic, she is evil and she is dangerous. And someone... someone has to stop her. We... we need your help, that's it.
- I am sorry about... what I did to the two of you, he said to them, knowing it had to be said, I know that it doesn't change anything at all, but... the truth is that, I changed.
They both looked at him with disbelief in their eyes (him, being able to change ?) as the pirate didn't really seem to be the sort of person who apologized, especially not the kind who would seem so sincere while doing that.
- Ten years were enough to change me, he affirmed. I became a father, and had a daughter, I was stuck into a tower with her, I tried to be a good father to her, I stopped being a pirate and I succeeded... until some days ago where I acted like an idiot and got myself cursed by the same witch Rapunzel warned you about, who is the mother of my child and the reason why Alice is trapped in the tower where Rapunzel and Gothel both used to be.
- So... this is not about you wanting to kill Rumplestiltskin ? Queen Snow-White asked him.
- Nope your majesty, I don't care about this anymore, he answered honestly. All I want now, is my daughter to be safe, and... Gothel to be punished, and at least, locked up for forever.
Yeah, he thought, remembering what she did to Rapunzel, the way she made her a prisoner, how she tricked her later, how she tricked him too, condamned Alice to be locked up, how she had cursed his heart and forced him to be separated from his little daughter for maybe his entire life, and told himself that to spend her entire life in prison may not be enough to punish her.
- We are here because we want the Dark One's help, Rapunzel confessed.
- I talked to him some days ago, because I was looking for an artefact who could have fred Alice from her tower, and in exchange I would free him from his prison as well... Things... went wrong, I would say, and I didn't do it in the end.
Baelfire looked at him with eyes opened wide with surprise.
- You... made a deal with my father and you were ready to let him go out of his prison ? You... you must have been really desperate to do that kind of thing. And you broke a deal with him... not the best decision you ever made, captain...
- Indeed, he answered. But, he continued, thinking about his poisoned heart, grimacing, I think I already paid the price for that mistake.
Gothel had already took him away from Alice.
The Dark One couldn't make things worst, even if he tried...
Queen Snow-White and king David were no fools, they knew how difficult it was to deal with an evil witch.
Especially when dark magic and revenge were both involved.
Nobody truly liked what they were going to do, but they didn't really have a choice.
The Dark One was the most powerful wizard ever known, if there was someone who could know who Gothel was, what she wanted and how they could stop her, it was him.
Hook didn't like it either, but he wanted his daughter to be safe, and the only way he could do it was by stopping Gothel from doing... whatever she wanted to do.
He also wanted a way to free his daughter from the tower (other than the one he couldn't use anymore...) but... after the incident with him and Achab, he was quite sure that the imp wouldn't want to help him again.
They were going to the Dark One's cell, in which he was locked up for good since a long time, and would try to ask for his help.
Gods help them...
Knowing him, he would probably want to say nothing about it... except for a price.
All magic comes with a price, right ?
To be continued...
Chapter 8: And then, I made a deal with the Devil.
- Fandom du 11/06/2020 : Once Upon a Time
- Ship farfelus : Wish!Hook/Raiponce
- Défi 12 de Sarah et Voirloup : Écrire sur le fandom OUAT.
- Bestiaire fantastique : CRÉATURE 66 : Le Ténébreux
- Headcanon 32 : Gothel a rencontré le Wish!Rumple
- Foire aux personnages : Personnage 33 : Hook
- Fusion : Fusionner 6 défis.
Once upon a time, there was a nymph who lost everyone she loved and who met an imp who himself lost everything he cared about.
Two immortals who had nothing else to lose except themselves and their sanity in the process, and whose hearts were filled with anger, rage, sadness, despair and darkness.
She wanted to get revenge for her dead family, for all the nymphs killed for nothing, that she couldn't protect or save, her peopleand destroy the world without magic as well as the humans living in, while he just wanted to find his son.
She was locked up into a tower, he was kept as a prisoner in a cell.
(It was her fault, Regina's fault, because she didn't succeed to cast the curse, and now he was a prisoner, and he would always be. He was supposed not to ever see his son and Belle again, and if nothing else made him become completely mad before, it was surely the thing that would make him be one day.)
The Dark One certainly didn't expect visitors this night, especially not that kind of visitors. The king and queen of the kingdom themselves, he surely didn't see them often, not since the day he told them his prophecy which never happened, which meant that it must be something important, right ?
He could indeed see the future, but the voices in his head, saying that he was supposed to escape, and destroy the world which took his son away from him made it difficult to focus on what was important, and being alone in this room all the time didn't help him at all, so no, he had no idea of why they wanted to talk to him.
Or, more precisely, what they wanted from him.
It was always about that, someone wants something, somebody wants something else, wasn't it ?
He didn't really pay attention to the blond woman he never saw, nor to the royal couple to who he once said that their daughter would be the Savior destined to break the curse and who proved him wrong, no it wasn't them who caught his attention…
But the pirate just in front of him that he knew too well.
"You… He whispered as soon as he recognized him, with rage in his eyes and his heart, while his hands were clasping his cell's bars as if he wanted to do the same with the pirate's neck.
- Yes, Hook sighed, feeling like this was going to be a long conversation, me…
The pirate, here and now, the man who refused to help him and free him from his prison while it would have helped them both, he would be out by now, his enemy would have freed his daughter from her tower, he would be reunited with his son, and everyone would have been happy !
Except that he didn't, he just didn't listen to him, because he was a freaking idiot !
- Captain, he said with a fake polite tone, I didn't expect to see you here, are you here again to make a deal with me and then break it ?
- Says the one who himself broke the deal he made once with his own son, and then abandoned him, the outlaw couldn't stop himself from saying, because even if it was definitely not the right moment to talk about that, hell, it was true, right ?
- Well then, if we talk about that kind of things, tell me pirate, what about your daughter ? Did you free her from her tower ? I guess that since you're still alive, you won your duel against Achab, and if you didn't… that means that you were quite an idiot back then, and you should have listened to me as I told you… So, your daughter… He asked him with a wide smile full of teeth which was truly terrifying.
The pirate froze.
He was right, it was terrible to admit this, but the Dark One was right about this, and yes, that's true, had he listened to him, things would be so different, his daughter would be free and so would be the Dark One, and…
Yes, maybe that it was not a right thing but he liked to believe that the wizard was less worst than Gothel herself was, and at least, he wouldn't be cursed and tore apart from his beloved child.
Maybe his life and Alice's life wouldn't be that miserable by now, if only he had done the right choice…
- She is still a prisoner, he admitted despite himself.
The immortal burst into laughter, a deranged and sad laugh, which screamed I told you so, didn't I ?
- Why am I not even surprised ? He exclaimed, still laughing. So, what happened, you lost against the other pirate, and he took the artifact from you, that's it ?
- No, Killian answered, I didn't lose, in fact I did win, but… But then, something terrible happened, when I came back to the tower to free Alice… Gothel was here as well…
He knew that name, didn't he ?
A witch, a nymph, an immortal, a wanderer who traveled between different worlds with the same purpose that he had once : to go to the world without magic, but not for the same reason, she didn't have anyone to find, she just wanted…
And he was himself not against destruction when it favored his plans, especially to find his son, but her…
There was a light of madness in her eyes that almost scared him.
She was a lost soul, a broken one, like those he already saw or destroyed by himself, she was a desperate soul, and he himself knew some things about despair…
- Gothel, the immortal said, a light of recognition in his eyes, and Rapunzel began to hope that maybe he knew her, knew what kind of monster she was, and would help them, even if he was himself seen by everyone as a monster. Yeah, I heard of her… I even met her a long time ago… What did she do to you exactly ?
- First, she cursed me, he said, showing his arm where the mark was, she cursed my heart so every time I'm close to my daughter physically speaking, I get more and more hurt, until I die.
The appropriate answer might have been "oh what a terrible fate" or "that's a terrible spell", but the only thing Rumplestiltskin came across to say was :
- Why didn't I think about it myself ?"
Hook rolled his eyes, but didn't say anything as he crossed Rapunzel's look, who didn't seem really happy, as the royal couple itself, to see them quarrel like children.
"What do you know about Gothel exactly ?
The sorcerer smirked.
- Oh… So, that's the reason why you're here… May I ask you why she seems to scare you so much ? Because, if it was just a story of revenge, you would have came here alone, like the last time, and not accompanied by the king and the queen of the kingdom !
- Because we want to stop her, the blond woman answered, walking out of the shadow, and into the light, anger and impatience being written on her face, like she was tired of waiting for something to happen (and really, really wanted to punch him in the face – well, like almost everyone did at one moment in their lives after meeting him –), and he asked himself why.
What did she have to win (or lose) in this situation ?
Why was she here by the way ?
- Gothel, she continued, kept me as a prisoner far from my family for a really, really long time, then, she tried to imprison my daughter Anastasia after this one nearly drowned, and… and now, she is free, and gods only know what she wants to do… But I don't think it's something good…
Indeed, that explained a lot, the wizard figured out.
- Oh, clearly not, he answered, and as she looked at him, he knew that she knew that he knew what Gothel intended to do now that she was free.
But she also knew that with him, everything came with a price, they all knew it well.
- What do you want ? She asked him, knowing that they would have to go through it.
He was the Dark One, and he didn't become famous in the Enchanted Forest by making deals with people without asking for anything else in exchange…
His smirk widened, and, as she felt all this magic, dark and twisted, around him, despite the fact that he was in a place where he couldn't use his magic, she realized suddenly why people feared him so much.
- There, there, now we are talking, aren't we ? Belle, my son… He said with a despair he couldn't even hide, and gods be damned, Rapunzel could easily understand why, because, if someone had wanted something from her, the thing she would have wanted in return would be Anastasia to wake up for sure… I want to see them…
- Fine, the queen answered, I will see what I can do about that…
It was obvious that they already knew what he was going to ask, they weren't stupid after all, they did imprison the Dark One himself, didn't they ?
(Well, he let that happen, not that they could know about that.)
- So, Rapunzel said, what about Gothel ? What does she want, and, more important, how can we defeat her ? How can we free Alice from her tower without the artifact, and how can we cure his heart ? She asked him, pointing the pirate with her eyes."
The imp smiled with amusement.
"This is a question quite simple to answer… The first one, I mean… There is only one thing that Gothel wants, and that's destruction. An eternity ago, when you and I weren't even born already, Gothel's family, her entire people was completely destroyed and killed by humans, in the land without magic… at a time where there was still magic in it.
These humans killed all the nymphs they could find, made the magic disappear completely from this other world, and turned Gothel's heart dark… She killed them and went to our world, and now… All she wants is to come back to the land without magic, thanks to the Dark Curse, and kill all the humans she can find there so only people with magic will stay alive… Quite terrifying, isn't it ? He said as the others looked at him with horror in their eyes.
- How do we stop her ? Rapunzel repeated.
- There is one way to defeat a sorcerer, or a witch, or anybody who possesses magic powers… The same thing that was used against me to imprison me years ago… Squid ink !
That… was quite obvious when you thought about it, maybe they didn't because squid ink was not that easy to find, except that…
That they did find some in Rumplestiltskin's cell years ago (the Blue Fairy found it after it was clear that Regina was definitely defeated and that there wouldn't be any curse on their kingdom), on a paper where it was written "Emma" again and again, in something which was for sure squid ink, and since they didn't use it after that…
They could use it on Gothel, if they found her, Snow and David silently figured out.
- Fine, the king said, we will make sure that the fairies make for her a prison where she won't be able to use her magic then.
- What about Alice ? The pirate asked. What about my daughter, how can I get her out of the tower ?
The wizard smirked again.
- Well, without the artifact, it will be quite difficult, won't it be ? Unless you succeed to destroy the tower itself without killing your daughter…
- There… there might be a way, Rapunzel realized. Gothel got out of the tower because she could exchange her place with somebody who had her blood, her daughter, right ?
- Indeed, Killian answered.
- Well… Maybe… maybe that if we switched their places, your daughter would be free then.
- No, that won't work… She also needed a magical flower to free herself, and this was the only one I could find…
- When I imprisoned her, the last time, Rapunzel said, I used something on her, her own magic, something she had with her, some… magical flowers, like the other thing she… made me use later, if we use it on her, maybe it will switch places ?
Fine, maybe they could do that.
- Magical items and flowers, right ? Maybe it's something coming from Wonderland, the Dark One said, and Rapunzel immediately knew whatshehad to do. Gothel's magic is linked to flowers and nature, but I do remember her talking about magic from this world one of the times I saw her… And she did talk about the curse of the poisoned heart, so maybe these two things fit together.
Oh… so, maybe they could cure him, find a cure in that Land too ?
- I had another question… Rapunzel added. My daughter, Anastasia… she nearly drowned and is now between life and death… How do I wake her up ?
Rumplestiltskin thought about it for some seconds, and then shrugged.
- A life for a life, this is how it works in magic… If there is no cure, that's the only way."
She wasn't that kind of person, not anymore, she was not a murderer !
And yet, a voice in her head told her another story, another truth, Cecilia who had been cursed because of her, Marcus' murder, all the lies she had said…
The way she had treated Ella, and Drizella…
She wasn't a murderer, but she had been, and if it was in order to save Anastasia's life…
She turned her head.
No, she wouldn't do that, not again, she had promised to herself that she would become better for her daughters, and she would.
"No… I'll find another way, she said with determination."
There had to be another way…
After they left the cell, it was easy for them and the royal couple to discuss what they had to do.
Gothel must be stop, and while Hook and Rapunzel would go to Wonderland thanks to a magic bean (since the end of the war, the kingdom had succeeded to make peace with the last giant, Anton, who had been able to make magic beans grow again), the king and the queen, helped by the fairies as well as Maleficent would try to find Gothel and stop her.
While Rapunzel and the pirate would also go back to the tower and explain to the girls where they were going and why, before going to Wonderland itself.
And, some days later, Rapunzel took a deep breath, before throwing the bean on the ground.
"Let's go to Wonderland."
To be continued…