Title: "Rapunzel's Festival"
Author: Kat Lee
Summary: The Lantern Festival was originally intended to lead the kingdom's Princess home, but it didn't stop after she came home.
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters, names, codenames, places, items, fandoms, titles, and etc. are always © & TM their respective owners, not the author, and are used without permission. Any and all original characters and everything else is © & TM the author and may not be reproduced in any way without the author's express, written permission. The author makes absolutely no profit off of this work of fan fiction, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Feeling a tug on her long skirts, Rapunzel looked down and into a pair of big, blue eyes that very much reminded her constant companion, Pascal, of Rapunzel herself as a child. "Yes, dear?" Rapunzel asked, scooping to be on the little girl's level. "How can I help you?" Her crown began to slide off of her brown head as her head was inclined downward, but her chameleon friend quickly scooted it back up on her head.
The child giggled at the lizard's actions but then grew serious. "Princess Ruhpunsel," she asked, having difficulty pronouncing long name, "I gotta ask you something."
Rapunzel smiled at her. "Ask," she encouraged.
The girl began her spill. "I was wondering if we're gonna have the lanterns again this year. I know they were s'posed to be to lead you home and you're home now and all that's great and I'm happy you're home, but my little broder never remembers the lights and he's just old enough this year that I think he might remember them next year if he sees them this year and I don't want him to miss them."
The little girl let out a breath as Rapunzel continued to stare at her, her own green eyes having grown big at the child's questioning. Silence passed between them. The girl scooted a bare foot across the cobblestones beneath their feet. "Well, hum, that's what I wanted to ask. I . . . I'm sorry if I bothered you at all. Mommy and Daddy said I shouldn't bother you, that you're royal and we're just peasant folk and we shouldn't talk to you because of that, but I have to know. Are we gonna have the lights again this year? Huh? Are we? Are we? Are we?" She bounced up and down on the soles of her feet; her long, blonde hair bobbed just as excitedly behind her.
Rapunzel blinked and then finally managed to refocus her attention on the little human before her. "Yes," she said, her voice almost a cry. "Yes, we are definitely going to have the lanterns again this year!"
The girl clasped her tiny hands before her waist and sashayed in step. "Oh, that is wonderful!" she enthused excitedly. "Sammy won't be able to wait! This year, he'll know that they're not fairy lights! He'll know what they really are, and I'll tell him all about you and about how you were kidnapped by that evil Witch and kept away from your family and from your kingdom and from your home and how you fell in love with a thief and he swept you off your feet and then saved you and brought you home to us all and now you're living happily ever after!"
When the girl paused to take another breath, Rapunzel was ready for her. She beamed down at her and spoke sweetly, "Why don't you go tell him about it now?"
"You don't think he's too little? He won't be four for another two months, and then the month after that is your birthday and he'll see the lights then and -- "
"Sarah!" Rapunzel, Pascal, and the brightly spirited child, whose name was evidently Sarah, all looked up as a woman came bustling over to them.
"Uh oh," the girl breathed, clearly troubled, while Pascal scooted back in what was left of Rapunzel's hair in which for him to hide.
Rapunzel herself turned to meet the woman with a smile. "Hi," she said, sticking out her hand. "You must be Sarah's mother."
"I am, Your Majesty, and I am so sorry that she's been bothering you with all of her questions. Sarah's always been an inquisitive child," she continued, and Rapunzel realized where the woman's daughter had gotten her habit of rambling and long sentences, "but we've tried to teach her that she can't just go up to any one and ask them questions. We did tell her not to bother you, Your Majesty."
Out of the corner of her eye, Rapunzel saw Sarah's downcast face. Pascal scampered out onto the Princess' shoulder as she smiled at both mother and child. "It's fine, really, ma'am. She's not been a bother at all. Why, she only wanted to ask me rather or not we were having the Lantern Festival again this year. I honestly had not considered the possibility of not having it until she asked me, but we will definitely have it." Rapunzel's smile brightened. "I would like for your family to be our special guests, too, at the festival."
The woman stared at her for a moment, her mouth agape. Finally, she managed to ask, her voice trembling with both excitement and fear that she was speaking directly to a royal, "Really?"
"Absolutely!" Rapunzel cast another bright smile upon them as Pascal gave a thumbs up sign. The woman gave the lizard an odd glance but did not speak to it and quickly forced herself to stop staring at him and refocus her attention on his apparent mistress. "All of you," Rapunzel insisted, "but for now, I must go speak with my parents and tell them that we are having the festival."
"O-Okay. Yes. Yes, of course, dear. You do that." The woman grabbed her daughter's small hand in her larger and pudgier one and hurried off.
Rapunzel turned to head home to her family's castle but paused and grimaced as she heard Sarah, still speaking excitedly and bouncing eagerly up and down, "Momma, did you hear her? She's going to tell her parents that we're going to have the festival!"
"Well, dear, Princesses can do things that other little girls can not."
"Boy, don't I know it! I wish I was a Princess! Then I'd tell you and Daddy to have a festival every month! No, every day!"
The woman and child's chatter began to fade away while Rapunzel stood still with a grimacing expression. Pascal looked at her curiously; his little, green tail slowly slid sideways across her shoulder. Then he began to turn the same shade of her blue as her dress. "Yeah," Rapunzel admitted, rolling her eyes at herself, "I guess that wasn't the best thing for me to say." She began to walk toward the palace and swiftly quickened her step. "But, really, Pascal, can you imagine not having the Lantern Festival? We've had it every year for as long as I've been alive! It's like . . . " She sighed and searched for words as she hurried toward the castle. "It's like it's a part of my birthday celebration or something. I don't want to miss it, even if I am home now and don't need the lanterns to light my way home! I can't imagine having my birthday without it!"
"You know, I remember thinking the lanterns might be fairy lights, too, like little Sammy does, and then later the stars. They're only lanterns, of course, but I still like them a lot and want to have them for my birthday. Maybe we can switch the reason for celebrating from trying to lead me home to just being happy that I am home? What do you think? Do you think Mom and Dad will be okay with that? Surely they won't mind having the Lantern Festival again this year? I mean, they should be happy that I'm home to celebrate my birthday this year and -- "
Pascal smiled to himself as Rapunzel continued to talk his tiny ear off. Sarah and her mother were not the only humans he knew who liked to ramble.
Rapunzel found her parents walking in the palace gardens. "Mom! Dad!" she called, scrambling to catch up with them. They turned, in surprise, to look at her, instant concern filling their features.
"Rapunzel, dear!" Her mother spoke first while her father's keen eyes quickly checked the guards. Both were still constantly afraid that the Witch would somehow show up again and steal their daughter back away. "Whatever's wrong?"
The King made a quiet "Harrumph!" sound and folded his hands behind his back. His wife looked at him, knowing that the change in his posture meant that the guards were in place and there was no other sign of danger, and then immediately back to their daughter.
"Mom! Dad!" Rapunzel cried again, bending over and placing her hands on her knees. She took a few deep breaths before looking back up at them. "We are going to have the Lantern Festival again this year, right?"
Her parents looked even more surprised at her question. Rapunzel's heart pounded; fear made her sweat. Her green eyes darted back and forth between her parents as they shared a look. "Well, honestly, Rapunzel," her mother spoke, "we had not given the festival any thought."
Her father nodded. "I suppose we're so accustomed to it happening every year that we had not considered that there is no further need for it."
"There is a need!" Rapunzel said quickly. "There's definitely a need! There's, hum, the need to show that I, hum, I'm still here and we're happy I'm here and I'm not going anywhere and -- "
"Rapunzel!" her mother chided and then laughed. She wrapped her arms around her little girl and pulled her close. She stroked her brown hair as she reassured her, "Sweetheart, if you want the Lantern Festival to happen, all you have to do is say so."
Rapunzel smiled. Her head bobbed quickly against her mother's breast. "I want it to happen! I so want it to happen! I've always looked forward to it happening every year!"
Smiling, her father stepped up and wrapped his arms around both of the women whom he loved with all his heart. "Then it will happen," he assured his only daughter, "not just this year but every year forever." Rapunzel beamed as her parents hugged her tightly.
True to their word, the King and Queen held the Lantern Festival again that year. It seemed to Rapunzel to be an even bigger, brighter, and more beautiful celebration than ever before. It was definitely happier for every one was still full of joy that their Princess had been returned to them.
Rapunzel smiled at Sarah's family as her parents released their lanterns. It was her turn, but she had other ideas. "Sammy," she called to the little boy who quickly took his thumb out of his mouth and hid it shyly behind his back, "would you like to help me release my lantern?"
"Oh, boy, would I!" the child cried and hurried eagerly forward. Rapunzel handed him her lantern after lighting it, then picked him up into her arms. "Just let it go," she advised. He did and laughed and clapped his hands as he watched it float away on the breeze.
"My turn!" Flynn announced.
Rapunzel turned to her husband, and it was her turn to laugh as she saw the lantern he wielded. "That's the biggest lantern I've ever seen!"
"And well it should be," he remarked, giving her his trademark, broad, and charming grin. He lit it, let it go, and then took her left hand in his. Their wedding rings sparkled with matching gleams in the light of the lanterns, torches, stars, and moon.
Rapunzel was so intent in looking up into Flynn's deep, brown eyes that she barely noticed Sammy's father lifting him gently from her arms. Flynn stepped closer once the child was out of their way. "My lantern's the biggest, Princess, just as it should be, because I love you more than anybody else."
Rapunzel's nose scrunched, and Flynn was reminded of just how much he did love this wonderful, funny, and amazing girl as he found even that simple notion ridiculously cute. "That's kind of corny," she said. Pascal's tail thwapped her ear lobe. "Well, it is," she said, looking down at him.
Flynn crooked a finger underneath her chin and lifted her gaze back to his. "Maybe it is," he admitted, still grinning charmingly, "but it's true." He kissed her as the fireworks began. Rapunzel hadn't thought it possible after finding her parents and home last year, but this year's birthday, she thought, leaning in to her husband's kiss and building on their passion together, was even better than last year!
Applause over the fireworks broke them apart. Sammy chattered over the fireworks while his sister "ooh"ed and "aah"ed over Rapunzel and Flynn's kiss. Blushing lightly, Rapunzel lifted her mouth from Flynn's but stayed in his arms. She glanced over to where her father was holding her mother and then laid her head on her husband's shoulder with a content smile. This was where she belonged and where she would stay for as long as she lived; she'd never been happier!