Disclaimer: I do not own nor do I claim to own any characters or concepts related to The Princess and the Frog. This is a nonprofit work of fanfiction.
I don't know why I never got around to crossposting this last story, but here it is, finally. Unless inspiration strikes in the near or distant future, this collection should be considered complete. Thank you so, so very much to everyone who has read, reviewed, and/or favorited Blue Skies and Sunshine! I never once expected the incredible response this collection of silly stories received, and it means so much more to me than I can tell you. Thank you. Thank you. As cheesy as this sounds, you have honestly brought blue skies and sunshine into my life with your encouragement, your debate, and your affection.
A Lesson Hotly Learned
Naveen descended the stairs at his usual lackadaisacal pace, his heels clopping one-two-three.
"What," said Tiana, "are you wearing?"
He shrugged into a pinstripe jacket, patterned to match his wool vest. He spread his hands, showy. "Do you like it?"
As a matter of fact she did: the jacket drawn neatly across his wide shoulders, the blue ascot bright at his throat. His trousers were long and narrow, fitted to his hips, his thighs. The effect was profound. Tiana resolved never to tell him.
"You sure you want to go out in that?" she said. "You do realize it's still summer and you're wearing wool."
Naveen tugged on his cuff, pulling it even with his wrist. "Some sacrifices must be made in the name of fashion," he said. He smiled, very well pleased with himself. "And you do like it, don't you?"
She pulled her hat down over her ears. She held her chin high. "I never said anything like that."
"Oh, but I can tell," he said, following her out into the sweltering early morning. "And that is reward enough. To know my exceptionally discerning wife appreciates a fine suit, worn by a man who knows how best to fill it out."
"It's not that good a suit."
"You're not a very good liar. I'm just noting," he said. "For reference."
"Should've worn cotton," she sang.
"I will not dignify that with a response," said Naveen.
For lunch he accompanied her to a small cafe a respectable hike from the Palace, deep within the French Quarter, where they ate outside. Beneath the fluttering, dark canopy, Naveen affected ease and absolute comfort. He'd left the jacket back at the Palace. His ascot, once so neatly pressed, lay half-crumpled against his breast.
Tiana stirred her iced tea, then sucked the spoon dry. She smiled at him over the long, silver handle. "Mighty brave of you," she said, "eating outside like this."
"Oh, but the weather," he said. He set his glass down, half-empty. "It's so beautiful. The sky is so clear. The air so ... humid." He raised his glass.
She twirled her spoon at him. "Now aren't you hot in that get-up?"
"I am the prince of Maldonia," said Naveen, with dignity, "where it rains only on the coast and sometimes in the mountains. This heat is nothing to me."
His collar, she noted, was not quite so tight as it had been that morning. A fine strip of sweat showed beneath it, shimmering as he lowered his head. His curls rested limp against his scalp, twisting flat upon his brow.
"If you want," she said, "you could head back to the house. It's not that far."
"And leave you to dine alone?" He scoffed. "I would never do such a thing."
Tiana shrugged her hands. "Suit yourself. But you're going to want to order another glass of whatever it is you're drinking."
"Tiana, please," said Naveen. He smiled rakishly at her, overcoming wilted curls, a flat ascot, and rumpled sleeves. "It's much too early in the day for that."
Getting the Palace ready for the evening kept her busy. She didn't see much of Naveen between handling yet another crisis in the kitchen that threatened to upset the entire menu and a shortage of clean napkins. Tiana slipped away long enough to snag Louis between sets.
"You seen what Naveen's wearing?" Louis demanded, first thing. "I know that stuff's bad for y'all when it's hot like this."
"How's he doing?" said Tiana. "Has he been pushing water?"
"He is fine!" shouted Naveen from the other end of the stage. "He's wonderful, thank you for asking."
"He's about like that," said Louis.
"Pretty bad," he said.
"I'll talk to him," said Tiana.
She found Naveen sitting in one of the darker corners, his feet resting on the chair opposite. She nudged his legs down. He opened one eye, then closed it.
"What do you want?" he grumbled.
"What happened to those fancy manners of yours?" she said. Gone the same place his ascot had gone, she expected. He'd unbuttoned his collar and even in the cooled air of the Palace the small v of skin at his throat shone.
She took the chair and leaned forward. "Here. Drink this." She touched the glass of ice water to his face and he started. His fingers brushed across her wrist. He took the glass from her.
"I did tell you," she said, gently.
He closed his eyes again. His face was drawn, the long angles somehow longer. "Yes," he said, "you were right and I was not. Please keep the gloating down. My head hurts. Like Louis sat on it."
"That's not a very kind thing to say," said Tiana.
Naveen made a face that resolved into something sheepish. "I will apologize to Louis later."
"Later's right," she said. He cracked open an eye, dark and gleaming. "What you're going to do now is finish that glass of water and another one just to be safe, and you're going to lie down in the back for a couple hours. Without the vest."
"What is one more indignity," he said. He made to lower his glass, the other hand rising to his vest.
"Not in here," she said, exasperated. She caught his wrist. "This isn't that kind of establishment."
"But think of how exciting it would be," said Naveen. "The reviews. The publicity."
"The police," said Tiana.
He frowned, considering this.
She cupped his cheek. "You are out of it," she murmured. She leaned closer, to drop a kiss on his sticky brow. His eyelids fluttered low and when he sighed, it came out long and tired. She leaned back.
"All right," she said. "Upsy-daisy."
He started to rise, then sank heavily. His mouth pinched. "In a moment," he said.
So worn, his face. His shoulders bent, sagging. She stroked the back of his hand and his fingers twitched, then twisted. He turned his hand over and held hers tight. Even his cuffs he'd unbuttoned, turning them back from his wrists.
"I think next time," said Naveen, "I will take your advice into consideration."
She smiled at him through the shadows and said, "Come on. Let's get you situated somewhere more comfortable."
This story was originally posted at livejournal on 02/02/2010, as a gift for lj user silverfyshxin from lj user causscion, who purchased fic from me at help_haiti, the fandom auction to raise donations for Haiti in the wake of the earthquake disaster.