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Jan 23, 2020 4:17 PM
Turquoises in the woods.
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There is a hidden meadow.

It stands beside a brackish stream, which overflows and adds a fine layer of salt to the surrounding earth with the coming of great storms. Given the salinity of the soil, no trees may grow here, only delicate flowers and fine grasses and the occasional hardened bush. 

The flowers are lovely, right now, as they often are; this is not a meadow, or a forest, or a world, with much regard for the concept of ‘seasons’. If it pleases a meadow to be in eternal spring - well, why shouldn’t it? Violets do not respect the sun; lavender does not respect the earth; goldenrod does not respect the moon. They do not respect the salinity of their soil, the dimness of their light, the position of the stars; they will bloom, and they will live, and they will die, and nothing will delay them.

Hidden meadows have their powers. They attract a certain kind of spirit, shy and dainty and delicate as a flower, and those spirits attract meadows in turn.

There is a spirit, in the meadow, at this very moment. She is a woman, wearing a pale veil of mourning, translucent and fine rolls of fabric, a dress that follows its own rules of lighting and shadow and color, dotted with dried and bleached flowers. There is blood, dried and faint, on her gown. Some things cannot help but linger. 

The grass is green, behind her; it looks like emerald. The sun is bright, above her; it looks like the eye of a foreign god.

She had a name, once. She’s lost it.

She speaks; her voice is faint and high, but it rumbles with the earth below her, and it hisses in great bursts, wind rolling down the meadow, distant trees shuddering and holding their breath in anticipation.

Once upon a time.

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In a far off corner of the woods, there is a tower.

Pale white, and untouched by rain. Solid stone, uncarved by ordinary hand, without a door in sight. A boy with perfectly ordinary hair, at the very top, singing softly and fluttering between his seven dozen little occupations. 

The tower streches high above all surrounding trees, but it cannot quite be seen, ordinarily. It is a witch’s tower, see, and towers that belong to magical folk tend to be magical themselves, and very, very shy. It is visible today, for obscure reasons. Perhaps it’s in an exhibitionist mood. Perhaps there is something stranger afoot.

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A bird is flying by.

He isn’t an ordinary bird, any more than the tower is made of ordinary earth, and he’s pretty surprised to see a tower here, when he remembers flying by here so many times before without seeing anything of the kind.

He perches on the edge of the tower’s balcony, at the very top, and peers inside.

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He can see a fair-haired boy inside - twenty years old, at a glance, intensely pale and pretty, wearing a black shirt and silken jeans and stunning sapphire earrings - and a room, with stone floors and wooden bookshelves and miscellaneous craft projects cluttering every available surface.

 

“... um. Hello?”

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!!!!!

The bird doesn’t seem equipped to respond to this coherently. He hops a little bit forward and coos, adoringly.

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“- um, I’m not really sure how to ask this - are you intelligent? I’m not really supposed to have intelligent visitors, even if they’re birds...”

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The bird blinks, and stops cooing. 

And turns into a man.

He’s tall enough that he could reach up and touch the ceiling - he has to be approaching seven feet - and he’s broad and handsome enough that comparisons to tree trunks and marble statues come to mind. He isn’t wearing a shirt, and the leather pants that he’s wearing look simultaneously classy and like they should be illegal.

He spends a few seconds staring.

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Rapunzel has literally never met anyone that he was attracted to before, outside of tawdry illustrated novels. He stares right back.

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The man-who-was-previously-a-bird takes three steps forward, scoops him up into his arms, and kisses him.

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This is not even slightly where he thought his day was going but he’s all in favor.

He makes a high pitched squeaking noise, squirms a bit, and kisses him back, a bit clumsily.

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Kissing! Kissing is great.

He eventually stops, and settles for squeezing the love of his life to his chest and bouncing up and down.

”I think that was love at first sight,” he says, dreamily. “My dad was all ‘son, you’ll know it when you see it’, and stuff, but it’s totally more intense than he implied, I wanna cuddle you and kiss you and make you happy and save you from dragons and stuff and I don’t even, like, know your name. What’s your name?”

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Oh.

So that’s why this random stranger spontaneously kissed him - he’d read about the phenomenon but he’d never really expected it to actually happen in his direction -

“Rapunzel. It’s, um, a strange name -“

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Rapunzel,” he says, rapturously. “I love it. I love you. You’re gonna be mine and we’re gonna get married and have awesome sex and awesome adventures and rule a kingdom, and stuff - I’m Crown Prince of the Forest, it’s kickass - do you wanna get your stuff so we can go?”

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“Yes.”

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The Crown Prince of the Forest sets him down, and bounces, and beams, and stares at him, and thinks about exclamation points, and bounces.

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Rapunzel starts scampering around and packing miscellaneous sentimental items into a bag, only occasionally distracted by staring back.

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Prince Ezekiel continues being really excited and bouncy and happy and mostly not super talkative, until, during one of these moments of mutual visual appreciation -

”Uh, I should probably ask - why are you in a tower? Is there, like, a basilisk, or something, that I should slay before we go?”

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“My mother is a really overprotective witch. I can leave her a note.”

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How do you make smalltalk with someone you barely know and love intensely and want to hold forever - 

“Cool. Got any awesome powers?”

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“I only inherited a little - I’m adopted - but I can heal people, I think, and I probably won’t age?”

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“Sweet... you about ready to go?”

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“Yup! Just need to pack these three things and to write a note -“

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“ - ‘kay.”

Staring. Anxious fidgeting. Staaaaaaring.

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He finishes putting away his childhood sculpture of a unicorn, a seemingly ordinary pebble, and what looks like an empty potion vial.

”... would you like to hold my hand, or something similar, while I write the note?”

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“Yeah!”

He bounces over - the floorboards are grumbling something about cruel and unusual treatment, but they seem inclined to hold - pulls up a chair, scoops Rapunzel unceremoniously up into his lap, and snuggles up.

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This position is not really ideal for note writing, honestly - both in terms of his range of motion and in terms of his concentration - but they’re within range of paper and ink and he can deal. 

He valiantly attempts to refrain from melting into an intensely snuggly and aroused and mildly overwhelmed puddle, only partially succeeds, and starts writing.

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