Long ago, Lady Sun sent a drop of its light to the earth as a gift for the Guardians, to be used in their fight against the Boogeyman. But the Guardians didn’t know where to look, and could never find it, especially once the guards of a tiny kingdom called Corona found it to save their queen and her child. The queen gave birth to a beautiful, healthy girl with golden hair, and her parents named her Rapunzel. The child grew in loveliness and grace, and when her people found out she could heal anything with her magical, glowing hair, they came to start regarding her almost like a goddess. No matter what she said or did to deter them from practically worshipping her, they continued to revere her. One Guardian noticed the worship and began to grow a little jealous, and concerned.
“What is wrong, Molly?” asked North when she stormed in at the next meeting.
“The people of Corona are practically worshipping their princess as the new Spring Maiden!”
“Aw come on, Molly, everyone else knows you! What’s one island kingdom? I’m sure it’ll pass,” shrugged Jack.
“That’s what you think, you can only go to certain parts of the world and haven’t been at Corona as often as I have!”
“But really, Molly, this isn’t like you!” pointed out Tooth. “What’s the real problem?”
“No, seriously! They believe that she’s the Spring Maiden instead of me!”
Bunny sighed, “What do you think should happen for the princess?” Molly glanced at everyone before her eyes fell on Jack.
“Oh no, I’m not doing your dirty work.”
“Winter is coming soon, it would be easy for her to have an accident.”
“Wow, Molly, that’s a bit dark, don’t you think?” asked Katherine.
“I’d rather not have to kill her, if that’s what you’re aiming at,” stated Jack.
“May I make a suggestion?” Everyone glanced at the figure with dove wings. He was practically a male, dove version of Tooth, even complete with smaller versions of himself.
“What is it, Val?”
“She’s a princess, right? What if I make sure she doesn’t fall in love with any human? She’d need to marry for the kingdom, right?”
Molly rubbed her chin, “Possibly, give her a cold heart.”
“I’ll need Jack’s help for that.”
Jack sighed, “I’m still going to be doing something, aren’t I?”
“Well, you’re not going to kill her, are you?”
“Then let’s do that.”
“But still, why is this so important?” asked North.
“Because there can only be one Spring Maiden, and I won’t stand being second to . . . her.” Molly stormed out. Jack sighed as he glanced at Val.
“So, when do you want to do this?”
Val shrugged, “How about closer to winter so you won’t melt?”
Jack chuckled, “Good point. I’ll meet you there after Christmas!”
As Jack had said, he met Val in Corona after Christmas. They flew into the princess’ room that night, and got their first look at Molly’s troublemaker.
“Wow, she’s cute!” whispered Jack.
“Are you going to start worshipping her too?”
“No, it’s just, I’m starting to have second thoughts about giving her a cold heart.”
“Of course you are. Hmm, maybe we can do something else instead.”
“Yeah, I guess so . . .” Jack glanced at the princess strangely, he had never felt this way about another person, and they barely knew each other.
Val sighed, “Of course, now you’re in love with the princess.” Val paused and began to think, “Maybe we can use this! Instead of giving her a cold heart, we’ll just say we’ve put a curse on her and that she can’t marry anyone besides the monster in the forest!”
“Th-the m-monster in-in the forest? What are you thinking?” exclaimed Jack.
Val rolled his eyes, “The monster in the forest is you, dummy. We’ll take her to your place instead.”
“My place? That’s no place for a princess!”
“Keep it down! I’ll help you turn it into a palace, don’t worry! My goodness, stop being such a worry wort! But this way should make you and Molly happy.” Val worked quickly with a potion and sprinkled it all over the still sleeping princess. “Alright, let’s get things rolling, but let me handle the details, alright?”
“Alright,” sighed Jack as they left. Together, they worked quickly to turn Jack’s place into a palace, or at least something very near it. They eventually enlisted Sandy’s and Tooth’s help in getting things for the palace, while Val had one of his cupids keeping an eye on the princess for when the oracle informed them of her “curse”.
A couple of months later, Jack’s house had been effectively turned into a mansion, and the oracle informed the king and queen of their daughter’s “curse”. The king and queen were quite upset with the news, as to be expected, but, they sent Rapunzel out into the forest to meet her fate, her future husband. But Val and Sandy were there instead, and, after Sandy put her into a sleep filled with sweet dreams, took her straight to Jack’s mansion. She woke up that evening, surprised to find herself in an elegant room, and all decked out in some of her favorite things. There was even a little chameleon for her to keep as a pet.
Jack came to her in the shadows, and after getting a promise from her not to find out who he was until he was ready, they talked to each other every night after dinner. Rapunzel came to trust this “monster”, and even began to feel an inkling of what she thought was love. But it was over far too soon, as Molly found out exactly what had happened, and wasn’t exactly very pleased with it. She went to the mansion to confront Jack and Val about it, and Rapunzel chanced upon them, learning about everything, even seeing Jack for the first time. She was taken back by how cute he was, but the argument intensified, and Molly noticed her.
“Rapunzel, what are you doing? Get out of here!” Rapunzel shrieked as she ducked, one of Molly’s lightning bolts missing her head by inches. “Leave her alone!” yelled Jack as he sent an icy wind at Molly. Molly pushed back with a storm and wrapped Jack up in the clouds.
“I told you to make her heart like ice, not fall in love with her!” The storm around Molly seemed to grow, and kept on growing. Val rushed towards Rapunzel and scooped her up.
“No, wait, Jack!”
“Just get her out of here!” yelled Jack, before Rapunzel lost sight of him.
“No, we need to go back! We have to go back!”
“I will! But I have to get you to safety first!” retorted Val as they flew out of the mansion, the edge of the storm on their heels as it continued to grow. Val flew Rapunzel to a cave. “Keep to the walls, I’ll be right back!” He turned to fly back to the mansion, but paused and stared in shock. Molly’s storm had turned into a giant hurricane and it was lifting the mansion off the ground. Val quickly pushed Rapunzel further into the cave before the wind picked him up.
“No! Jack! Val!” Rapunzel gave a shriek when a face appeared in the clouds.
“If you want to see them again, you have to complete three tasks. You must get a comb from the Mermaid Queen, a necklace from the Snow Maiden, and a candle from La Muerte.”
“A comb from the Mermaid Queen, a necklace from the Snow Maiden, and a candle from L-La Muerte?”
“Yes, bring them to me at the old tower at the edge of your kingdom, only then will you see him again!” With that, the Spring Maiden was gone, with both Jack and Val, and Rapunzel was without an inclination of where to go.
The first thing Rapunzel did was to cry her eyes out, everything happened so fast. She finally got to see that the “monster” she was supposed to marry was none other than the handsome sprite of winter, Jack Frost himself! But with that knowledge also came the discovery that Jack had been protecting her from the Spring Maiden, who hated her for some reason, but now he was gone, and she had to find three items to see him again. She dried her eyes, took a deep breath, and set out on her journey.
Surprisingly, she knew where to go, and had a fairly easy journey towards hers first destination, which she found to be Dream Island, where the Sandman slept. The little fellow woke and recognized her. When Rapunzel told him her dilemma, Sandy himself took her to the Mermaid Queen, a dear friend of his. They found the Mermaid Queen in a grotto, surrounded by several of her mermaids. Rapunzel gasped, the Mermaid Queen was lovely with her glistening brown skin and a crown of shells and pearls set gracefully atop her black curls. Rapunzel couldn’t tell where the Mermaid Queen’s shirt ended and her tail began, both were of the same shade of golden yellow.
“Why, hello Sandy! What bring you here, my friend?” Sandy pointed to Rapunzel, who quickly curtseyed. “My, what a lovely child, and a lovely curtsy! Come closer. What brings you here, child?” Rapunzel told her everything that had happened with Jack Frost and the Spring Maiden.
“So, if I want to see him again, I have to get a candle from La Muerte, a necklace from the Snow Maiden, and a comb from the Mermaid Queen,” finished Rapunzel. “Um, may I have the comb, great Mermaid Queen?”
“Oh, please, you may call me Nyala.”
“Nyala, that’s a pretty name.”
“Why thank you child. Now, here is a comb, don’t let anyone see this or even use it on anyone. Just make sure it gets into the Spring Maiden’s hands.”
“Oh, thank you so much!” Rapunzel gave Nyala a hug after she took the comb.
“You are most welcome. But, why would Molly request such a thing?”
“I don’t know, she didn’t explain anything to me, just that if I wanted to see Jack again, I had to gather those three things.”
“Hmm, and what were the other two things, again?”
“A necklace from the Snow Maiden and a candle from La Muerte.”
Nyala nodded slowly, “I see. Well, night has fallen and you still have a ways to go, would you like to sleep here?”
“Oh, can I? Thank you!” Rapunzel let the mermaids play with her long hair before she fell asleep to their songs. In the morning, she found that the mermaids had entwined pearls and small shells into her hair, and that Sandy was ready to take her to her next destination. Sandy created an airplane out of his dream sand, and flew her to the North Pole. After explaining everything to North, North gave her some winterwear and directions to the Snow Maiden. Insisting that she go by herself, Rapunzel set off across the tundra, searching for an ice palace. She followed North’s directions to a t, and came across the gates of an exquisite ice palace. She knocked on the doors, and the two snowmen sentries came to life, startling her.
“What’s the password?” they called out in unison.
“Ah! What? Th-the password?”
“That’s what we’re asking you. What’s the password?”
“I, I don’t know, Mr. North didn’t tell me about a password.”
“Because he doesn’t need it. So, what is it?”
“Can’t you let the Snow Maiden know I need to see her?”
“Nope, we cannot leave our posts.”
“Oh, um, may I have a hint?”
“What do you think it could be?”
Rapunzel took a look around, “Um, snow?”
“Oh come on! Please just let me in! She has something that will let me see Jack Frost again!” The snowmen didn’t say anything as the doors instantly swung open and a girl not much older than Rapunzel stood on the other side. Rapunzel wanted to burst into tears, the girl reminded her of Jack so much, the same white hair and blue eyes, even wearing a blue coat lined with white fur.
“What did you say about Jack Frost?”
“You have something that will let me see him again,” Rapunzel just about whispered, beginning to choke on her tears.
“Come in, you have to tell us everything. Grandfather! Grandfather!” called out the Snow Maiden. An elderly man peeked out from behind a door.
“This girl knows what happened to Jack!”
Her grandfather glanced at Rapunzel, “She does? Well, bring her in if she can tell us where Jack is!” The two walked into the room, alight with the glow from a fire burning brightly in a stone fireplace. They sat Rapunzel down, got her some tea and cookies, and Rapunzel told them everything.
“I have the comb from Nyala, now I need the necklace from you, and a candle from La Muerte,” she finished. Sarah and her grandfather sat still for a few seconds before Sarah rose and left the room.
“Why does Molly hate you so much?”
“I think, I think it’s because, back home, everyone called me the new Spring Maiden, and, they might have stopped believing in her.”
“Grandfather, you were always saying . . .”
“Ah, Sarah, you have the necklace, good. You need to free Jack as soon as possible, winter will be here soon, and we need him.”
“Just don’t let anyone see or wear the necklace.”
Rapunzel nodded as she slipped the necklace into the same pocket as the comb, “OK, thank you so much! Now all that’s left is the candle from La Muerte!”
“We know of a shortcut . . .”
He shook his head, “It’s the only way, she would never find it on her own.”
He laid a hand on her shoulder, “You must believe. Come Rapunzel, we must be quick.” Rapunzel followed him through the castle to another room where a lake was in the center of it. “You must swim quickly to the very bottom, a portal to La Muerte’s domain lies at the very bottom, but it is only open for so long every day. If you are fast enough, you just might be able to reach it before it closes. It will look like a light, if it’s getting bigger, you are getting closer, but if it begins to fade, then you have already lost your chance for today. Now go quickly!”
Rapunzel hugged him and Sarah, “Thank you both so much! I’ll free Jack as soon as I can!” She quickly made sure that the comb and the necklace were secure before descending into the lake. Before she went completely under, she sang and her hair glowed. Sarah and her grandfather watched in amazement, but before they could ask any questions, Rapunzel took a deep breath and went under. Thanks to her hair, the water was fairly warm, for the most part. As she went deeper, the water got really cold, but she kept going. When she thought she couldn’t hold her breath any longer, that’s when she saw a light in the darkness. She quickly swam towards it, her heart leaping for joy as the light grew bigger. She broke the surface, and gasped for breath, her lungs stinging with having to hold her breath for so long. But the air that met her seemed rather sweet, not musty as she had expected from the underworld. She pulled herself onto the bank, and set off in search of La Muerte. She came across a parade filled with people.
“Hello! Can someone tell me where La Muerte is?” A man on a horse approached her.
“Ah, you must be new here! Come on, I’ll show you the way!”
“Oh, thank you, you’re so kind!” Rapunzel got on the horse behind him, and they trotted off towards an elegant palace. He set her down at the door.
“La Muerte is just inside. Good luck!”
“Thank you!” waved Rapunzel as he rode off to help some other new soul. Rapunzel dashed into the palace, where a long table filled with food awaited, and at the head of the table sat La Muerte.
“Well hello there, but, you’re not dead. What are you doing here?” Rapunzel told her what had happened with Jack and Molly.
“I have the comb from Nyala and the necklace from Sarah, all I need is a candle from you.”
“Really? Did Molly specify which candle?”
“Uh, no, I didn’t realize there were specific kinds. She only said to get one.”
“Uh-huh, I see. Wait here, and don’t touch anything.” La Muerte left for a few minutes. Rapunzel glanced around the room while she waited, but didn’t touch a thing. La Muerte came back with a candle and a lantern. “Here is a candle, keep it in the lantern at all times, don’t let it get blown out, not even Molly, understand?”
“Yes. Oh, thank you so much! Um, how do I get back to the surface?”
“Where did Molly want you to meet her?”
“At the old tower just on the outskirts of Corona.”
“Ah yes, that’s a bit of a walk. Come on, I’ll walk you there.”
“Oh, thank you! You’ve all been so kind to me, how can I ever repay you?”
“By setting Jack free, and loving him the way Molly never could.”
“Wait, what? What do you mean?”
La Muerte chuckled, “He’s quite handsome, don’t you think?”
Rapunzel blushed, “Y-yes.”
“And his personality, how can anyone not love him? But many of us knew there could only be one girl for him, so we each took a step back and looked for our true loves. It was easy for Sarah since she is his sister, and Nyala as she had begun to fall in love with Sandy.”
“Does Sandy love her back?”
“Val certainly thinks so, and he’s the expert on love, so, we take his word for it.”
“And what about you, and Mother Nature, and Mother Goose, and the Tooth Fairy? Um, is there anyone else?”
“Oh, several more, my child, but you’ve named those of us who are the closest to him. Mother Nature, though, never really fell in love with him, like Sarah, she considers him a brother. I was the next to take a step back, though I have not found my true love yet.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“What’s to be sorry about? I have time on my side.” La Muerte winked, resulting in a chuckle from Rapunzel. “And it’s not like I’ve given up searching. But Mother Goose and the Tooth Fairy took a while longer, Tooth Fairy only thanks to Val. Which left Mother Goose and the Spring Maiden to vy for Jack’s affections. Eventually Mother Goose met someone who she came to love quite dearly, you know him as Grimm, the two take care of bedtime stories and nightlights. So, Molly thought she had Jack all to herself.”
“But, Jack didn’t really love her.”
La Muerte shook her head, “No, he really didn’t. He had thought about Tooth and Katherine, but they did eventually fall in love with someone else, so that really left him with Molly. He wasn’t exactly too thrilled about it, she acted way too grown-up for him, far too demanding of his time, and just far too controlling. We all noticed it, Grandfather Frost in particular didn’t like her. Jack is a free spirit, you can’t exactly keep him all caged up to be let out at your convenience, you have to let him go so that he can come back to you.” La Muerte paused and glanced at Rapunzel, “Consider this an odd question, but, if you were in fact the Spring Maiden, what would you do if Jack had to leave for weeks at a time? What would you think?”
“Nothing, I mean, he has to do his work, right?”
La Muerte nodded, “Good answer, Molly would think he was off flirting with some other girl or taking his sweet old time getting back.”
“Why? Jack wants to have some fun, that’s all.”
La Muerte chuckled, “Looks like he picked the right woman to love.” Rapunzel glanced down, unsure of what to say. La Muerte pointed, “Behind that waterfall is your destination. It will get dark, and that candle isn’t the best at providing enough light. Will you be alright?”
“Oh, yes! My hair glows when I sing, so, I’ll be fine.”
“Your hair glows?”
“Um, yeah, you want to see?”
“Yes, this is interesting.” Rapunzel sang, and La Muerte gasped when her hair glowed. She touched the hair for a bit, a thoughtful look on her face as she let go of the strands. “This is very interesting. How long has it been able to do that?”
“Ever since I was born. I can heal people with it when it glows.”
“Very interesting. You should get going, the first day of winter is only a few days away.”
“Oh, right, thank you again, for everything.” Rapunzel gave her a quick hug.
“It was my pleasure, now go, win back your love.” Rapunzel nodded and, once she was sure she had all three items, she stepped through the waterfall, singing along the way.
She came out on the other side, and gasped, there stood the old tower. Her heart leaped for joy, it was almost over, and she could see Jack again! She could see the door from where she stood, and rushed towards it.
“Molly? Spring Maiden? I have all the items!” she called out when she entered. There was a rustling from the second floor, and Rapunzel went up the stairs to investigate. “Spring Maiden? Are you here?” She pushed open the trap door, and gasped. “Jack!” There he was, bound and gagged by vines.
“So you made it,” stated Molly as she stepped between the two.
“I’ ve got everything you asked for, now let him go!”
“Hand them over first. The comb from the Mermaid Queen.” Rapunzel took out the comb and handed it to her, along with the necklace. “And the necklace from the Snow Maiden, very good. And now, the candle from La Muerte.” Rapunzel handed over the lantern. Molly looked inside. “Very, very good. And you’re not dead yet. Which means they helped you.”
“They want Jack back just as much as I do.”
“But not more than me! He’s supposed to belong to me! And you, you of all people stole him from me!”
“I’m sorry! But I have no control over how Jack feels! Do you really love him?”
“Then let him go.”
“Just so you can turn around and steal him again?”
“I’ll exchange myself for him.”
“What?” Jack struggled against the vines, shaking his head and trying to say no through the gag.
“Let him go and, take me instead.”
“Why would you do that?”
“Because everybody needs him. That’s why I got help, they want him to be free, they need him to be free. And if getting me out of the way is the only way to do that, then, take me instead, hide me away until I die and rot. I’m not immortal like the rest of you.” It became eerily quiet, even Jack’s muffled screams came to a halt. Rapunzel dared a glance at Jack, he shook his head no. But she glanced back at Molly, determination set in her face. Molly set the items down on a desk before sitting down in the chair. “You would do that, for him?”
“Because you love him.”
“Yes,” Rapunzel whispered. Molly turned to glance at the mirror and slowly pulled the comb through her dark curls. “Wait, what are you doing? Nyala said . . .”
“The Mermaid Queen or Mami Wata! Since when did you two get so chummy that you know her real name?”
“She told me to use that name.”
“You know the Snow Maiden’s name too, huh?”
“Yes, it’s Sarah.”
“And La Muerte?”
“Actually, no, I don’t know hers.”
“I see, and what did they say about what not to do with these items?”
“Nyala said not to use the comb, Sarah said not to wear the necklace, and La Muerte said not to blow out the candle.”
“Oh really? You couldn’t, but I am a Guardian, I can. Watch.” Moly gave a sly smirk at Jack. “You think she’s prettier than I am? I shall soon be even prettier.” She put the necklace on.
“No, wait!” Rapunzel gave a shriek as vines grabbed her ankles and wrists. Molly turned to finish combing her hair with the comb. “What are you doing?”
“My dear, it came to me through your hands, I shall get everything you had, once I blow out the candle.”
“No, wait! La Muerte said that not even you can blow it out!” Molly scoffed as she opened the lantern, and blew out the flame. Jack glanced at Rapunzel with horror, but it was Molly who shrieked.
“What’s going on? What’s happening?” she cried out as her skin became wrinkled and her hair turned gray.
“I said that not even you should blow out the candle, Molly, because it was really your own.” La Muerte appeared at the trapdoor.
“What? Catrina, why would you do such a thing?”
“Because you were going to destroy the gift Lady Sun sent to us. It manifested in this girl’s hair. Rapunzel, sing.” Jack’s and Molly’s eyed widened as Rapunzel sang, and her hair glowed.
“It is the flower, I thought we had lost it!” exclaimed a dark-haired woman as she and a man in green came up the stairs.
“The flower? It was used to save my mother and me!”
“And it was in you this whole time.” The woman waved her hand, and the vines released their prisoners. Jack quickly rushed towards Rapunzel and pulled her into a hug.
“Apparently so, Emily, our search is over,” smiled the green man.
Emily laughed, “And no wonder we couldn’t find it, Johnny, it wasn’t a flower anymore, it was a girl!”
“And you’re Mother Nature!” blurted Rapunzel as she gave a quick curtsy.
“That I am.” Emily turned to Molly. “Care to explain what’s been going on and why my lead winter spirit has been trapped up here for days?”
“I, uh, I . . . I . . .”
“May I, Emily?” asked Jack.
“She’s been jealous of Rapunzel this whole time because she thinks Rapunzel is better and prettier than she is, and . . .”
“And you love Rapunzel,” finished Catrina.
“Yes, I do.”
“No! You should love me! Not that stupid witch!”
“I decide who I love, Molly, not you!”
Molly began to seethe, “Fine then, you little runt! Here, you can take your sister’s necklace back! Ah!” Molly tore the necklace off, but as she did so, took a wrong step and fell out of the window.
“Molly!” The group rushed to the window, but all that was left was a cloak and the necklace.
Catrina sighed, “The necklace was keeping her alive. If she had just waited a few minutes, I would have relit the candle.”
“And now we don’t have a Spring Maiden,” stated Jack.
“Actually, yes, we do.” Everyone glanced at Emily, who merely smiled and glanced at Rapunzel.
“Wait, me, the new Spring Maiden? Uh no no no.”
“Your hair has the gift Lady Sun sent us, it can heal, and it can melt the snow. I think that, because of it, you are now immortal.”
“I, I don’t know, I just want to be with Jack.”
“And by becoming the Spring Maiden, you can take your rightful place by his side.”
“But what about Molly? Didn’t any of you care for her?”
“I’m afraid not, she was becoming far too controlling and demanding, and that opened the door to jealousy and darkness entering her heart. So, what do you say? Will you become a Guardian, the new Spring Maiden?” Jack’s fingers intertwined with hers as he looked at her.
“And will you marry me?”
Rapunzel smiled, “I will, for both.” Jack smiled as he pulled her in for a well-deserved, long-awaited kiss.