“When did you learn magic, Hans?”
We have been in the clearing for hours now. The time stretches on slowly, luxuriously. We have spent those hours exchanging idle conversation, or Hans showing me something new. For example, he found a flower by the side of the brook. It is a lovely purple colour with many buds, and we managed to tie it in carefully to my hair. Hans, who lies casually on the grass next to my feet and idly chews a strand of grass, replies somewhat slowly.
“Whatever do you mean?” I narrow my eyes. Surely, he must know what I meant. Going outside without magic is surely too dangerous, and everyone knows that.
“At what age did you begin to practice magic?” I press clearly.
“Being the Prince’s son enabled me to learn magic at a young age. I have been able to go outside all my life.” Hans sounds thoughtful, almost apologetic.
“Oh, how I envy you. Do many people go outside?” Hans rolls onto his front, looking into my eyes.
“Oh, Rapunzel.” He says softly, “Everyone goes outside. It is wonderful.”
“I suppose my Mother just wants to keep me safe, as I may not be able to cope with learning magic at an early age.” I ponder, shielding my eyes from the golden glow of my eyes. It is a luxury to be outside, without the fear of death and pain. Hans’s magic is protecting me from the sun’s rays, and he surely will be able to protect me from any coming savage wild animal or ruthless bandit.
“I suppose.” He agrees, rolling back onto his back and pulling a hand through his hair.
“Why did you tell me magic was illegal, and that being kept up in my tower was wrong?” I ask suddenly, realizing I do not really know the answer to that question.
Hans is quiet for moments, but he suddenly responds.
“Well…I thought you were trying to trick me, you see. Most people learn magic young, but others chose to learn it later on in life. Even then, their parents can take them out. I suppose your Mother wants you safe, but the fact that you never went outside is…well, unheard of. So I retaliated…I was annoyed, because I had grown anxious for you, wondering if you were a prisoner or as such. I thought you were lying, so I lied in turn. I regretted it straight away.”
“I see.” I reply, even though I do not see. The antics of a human are strange, and some are questionable. I do not have reason to question his response.
There is a lingering silence for a little longer. I wriggle my feet in the grass, fidgeting as it tickles my feet lightly. I almost close my eyes and fall asleep in that instant, basked in the warm glow of the sun, but I do not want to lose track of time.
“Do you forgive me?” Hans’s voice makes me jump out of my dreamy stupor.
“Yes.” I reply quickly, not at all hesitantly. “Do you forgive me?”
“Whatever for?” Hans questions, his voice bemused.
“I am not sure. For not letting you in, after all those days of you waiting. I did not know your true intentions, and now I know that you are an honest, safe person.”
“I waited for you, and I would have waited for years. Although I believe this is unrequited, I do love you, Rapunzel. The early stages of love, of course, but the first day I saw you was like a change in my life. Your beauty is so unaffected, so raw and perfect. You are truly beautiful, Rapunzel. I knew I loved you, and I wanted to get to know you. I am so happy that we are friends now, are we not? In the Kingdom, my Father wanted me to find a Princess. I could never find the right one; but your demeanour, your beauty, your personality…it is all perfect. I am besotted, I suppose. I know this early love is unrequited, but I am sure that it is going to be lasting, for myself. You would make a great Princess, Rapunzel.” I push myself up, onto my knees and look down at Hans who smiles tightly.
“I am sorry. Too soon?” He asks, but I am too stunned at his forthcoming speech.
“Did-did you just ask me to be a Princess?” I whisper, scarcely believing my ears. Hans nods.
“I suppose I did.”
I smile, feeling a warm feeling spread through me, coursing through my veins and filling me with warmth that makes me happy and light, as if I have no worries.
“I shall have to decline this time, Hans. Firstly, Mother does not know I left the tower, nor meet anyone. I must admit that I am chuffed-it is not every day you are asked to become a Princess.” Hans chuckles dryly, pushing himself up so he sits in front of me, his face close to mine. My hair is tangled around us, wrapped around our feet. Suddenly, I am more aware of everything: all my senses are heightened; I notice every detail on Hans’s face.
“I am not sure if, regretfully, I love you. I do not know what it feels like, you understand? I think you are my friend, although I would like you to become more. This friendship is quick and exciting, and I did not know anyone apart from Mother loved me. I think…I could love you, given time.” Hans smiles widely, closing his eyes quickly and reopening them, as if checking as if the scene is real.
“You are too kind, Rapunzel. I have but one request…” Hans blushes a tiny bit, looking down. I gently push his chin up so he meets my gaze.
“And what may that be?” I ask, “Bearing in mind that we shall have to return soon, before darkness arrives.”
“A kiss.” Hans slowly, cautiously requests. “For I have never kissed a girl before, and that is traditional after the first courting, correct?” I raise an eyebrow.
“I did not know that we were courting.” Something inside me seems to jump up, elated and full of supressed joy.
“Ah, I failed to mention that.” Hans admits sheepishly, “But what about my request? Is it granted?”
I push my hair behind my eyes and swallow nervously. “Yes…I’ve never kissed anyone before, I am afraid.” Hans swallows and begins to lean forward, edging closer towards me.
Everything is stilted with a sweet awkwardness, as I have no idea as for what to do. I settle on leaning forward, trying not to hit my nose with Hans or do anything silly. His lips are suddenly on mine, tasting of orange, and then I am filled with a sweet feeling. I close my eyes, wondering if this is what love feels like: brief and short, but also fulfilling and a new discovery. And then, Hans’s lips are off mine, leaving only the air and he is pulling me to my feet.
I smile at him, suddenly bashful, and he smiles back. It feels as if we have shared an experience, something that can be relived in our minds over and over. I suddenly feel much closer to him, much more trusting and friendly towards him.
“Well, Rapunzel, it has been a pleasure courting you today. But, however, I shall have to return you before your Mother returns.”