Being as this is my first and only Princess and the Frog story (so far, at least), I'm not really sure how well this turned out. I really liked the idea behind this, and I really wanted to write an insecure-Naveen story, but it was a little harder than I thought it would be. So I'm not sure if this story is any good. I'm hoping it's okay, at least. Depending on whether people like this, I'll see if I'll write more stories for this movie.
At any rate, I hope you all enjoy!
Amidst the jumble of wedding-day preparations, the only thing that seemed to be missing was her daughter.
Eudora entered the small house slowly, placing her bag by the door because there was nowhere else to put it. From where she stood, she could see that the kitchen was still overflowing with pots and pans used for testing dishes Tiana wanted to serve at the reception (because her headstrong daughter insisted on cooking all the food herself). The floor and living room was littered with samples of flowers arrangements, small items for wedding favors, and fabrics for the wedding dress she was making (that was her insistence, because if there was one thing she was set on doing, it was making her daughter's wedding dress). Even the table was cluttered with envelopes, invitations, and various other documents necessary for the ceremony.
However, instead of the sight of her daughter bent over a stack of paperwork that often greeted her when she returned home, Eudora was surprised to see that it was Naveen at the table. What was a little more surprising, though, was how… serious he looked as he mulled over something in his hands. She was more used to seeing her new son's cheerful and almost carefree attitude, even in the face of all the work remaining for the rapidly-approaching wedding. But as she watched him seated by himself, so tall and poised, he made the simple act of sitting at the table as regal as the prince she assumed he was raised to be.
When she wished for her daughter to find her "prince charming", she never imagined Tiana would fall in love with an actual prince. It didn't really help that she had first heard the news from Charlotte, who found her after the Mardi gras parade to tell her what happened to Tiana. The young heiress told her how her daughter and the Maldonian prince were transformed into frogs, and how she had tried to help them turn back into humans but failed. The whole tale was a little difficult to believe…Not that she thought Charlotte would lie about something like that, but the girl did have a tendency to let her mind roam a little too long in fantasy.
It was only a day or two later, though, when Tiana returned home with Naveen close behind her. Her normally down-to-earth daughter then explained the whole thing, filling in the holes of Charlotte's story before proving that all the events actually took place by introducing her to the jazz-playing crocodile they met in the bayou. At that point, Eudora gave up trying to understand how it all happened and simply accepted the fact that it did. The important thing, after all, was that her daughter was happy.
The next step now was to make their marriage legitimate. Of course Tiana told her of how she and Naveen were already married by the voodoo witch in the bayou, and that was how they returned to normal. But for their union to be recognized by the public, and especially by the country of Maldonia, there had to be an official wedding ceremony. Wasting no time, Tiana and Naveen both wanted the ceremony as soon as possible and chose a date a mere month after their first wedding, if only to prove to the rest of the world what was already real in their hearts.
As the young couple was beginning to see, however, there was a lot to do when putting together a wedding. There was so much to plan, so many things to schedule, decisions to make…there was just so much work to do, and a month was hardly enough time to do it all. Naturally, though, Tiana was willing to work hard as always to make everything happen on time, and Naveen's upbeat spirit helped ease the pressure somewhat. Still, she could see that the impending wedding was taking its toll on them, and she worried that the strain was becoming too much for them.
It wasn't fatigue that she saw in Naveen this time, though. There was something else in his eyes, but for the life of her she couldn't figure it out. But whatever it was, it seemed to mean that something was wrong. And, as the mother of the bride, Eudora had to fix that.
Slowly approaching the distracted prince, Eudora softly asked, "Is everything all right?"
Naveen jumped slightly, dropping the object he held as he looked up at her. "Miss Eudora!" he exclaimed, standing abruptly in his surprise. As he did so, however, he bumped into the table and caused the unknown object to slide across a loose pile of paper, sending everything spilling across the floor with a heavy thud and an airy flutter.
"Ai!" he said. He ran a hand through his dark hair before kneeling down to retrieve the scattered sheets. "Forgive me, I did not mean to…"
"It's all right," Eudora assured with a gentle smile. She then knelt down beside him to help clean up the mess. "Where's Tiana?"
"In her bedroom resting." A small, tired smile appeared on his face. "She was suffering a minor headache, and so I thought it would be best for her to lie down for a moment."
Eudora sighed softly, partly relieved that her daughter was finally getting some rest, but exasperated by the events that drove her to such exhaustion in the first place. She was about to suggest that Naveen should get some rest as well, but then she noticed the item that he'd been looking at so intently earlier, face down in front of her. Curiosity got the better of her and she carefully picked up the object, seeing clearly now that it was something made of wood. As she turned it over, her breath caught in her throat when she found James' familiar face staring back at her.
"Naveen," she said, holding out the picture, "what is this?"
Realizing what she was holding, Naveen chuckled nervously, looking a little guilty for some reason. "Yes, well, about that…You see, I found that in Tiana's room, and I…" He rubbed the back of his neck. "I did not mean to snoop, but Tiana, she speaks so fondly of her father, and so often, and I…I only wished to get a better understanding of who he was."
Watching him for a moment longer, Eudora then looked back at the picture in her hands. She smiled, her fingers delicately brushing the image of her husband in his uniform. "I wish we had other pictures of him," she said, handing the frame back to Naveen. "If you could've seen what he was like around here, then you'd get an idea of what James was really like."
Taking the picture, he placed it back on the table. "Even so, he seems like a…remarkable man."
"He sure was," Eudora replied with a wistful sigh. "I'm sure you would've really liked him if you could've met him."
Naveen frowned slightly. Straightening some papers, he quickly rose to his feet to avoid her gaze. But she noticed the shift in his mood, and she stood as well, placing the papers on the table as she focused all her attention on him.
"What's wrong?" she wondered, resting a hand on her hip and leaning against the table.
He cleared his throat and shifted uncomfortably, his eyes once again returning to the picture of James. "Do you suppose…" he said slowly, hesitantly, "that, perhaps…he would have liked me as much?"
Startled by the question, Eudora couldn't help but stare at him for a moment. When she finally found her voice, all she could ask was, "What do you mean by that?"
"I…" Naveen frowned again, and he seemed a little frustrated that it was so difficult to find the words to express his thoughts. "Do you imagine that he would...accept me, if I ever could have met him?"
Eudora frowned, uncertain. "Why would you even ask something like that?"
"It's just…" He sighed, glancing once again at the picture. "When Tiana speaks of her father, I know that he is the one who made her who she is…"
She cleared her throat, rapping her fingers against the table. "I don't think he should get all the credit."
"Ah…!" He held up his hands defensively as he realized the error of his words. "That is not what I meant! I was only –"
Eudora laughed softly, gently patting his arm. "It's all right, I know what you meant. But what does that have to do with you?"
He seemed to relax a little, but the frown remained on his features as he let his head hang. "I simply worry that he would mind…that someone like me is marrying his daughter."
As realization finally dawned on her, Eudora couldn't resist the smile that appeared on her lips. She still remembered the exact words Tiana used to describe the kind of person Naveen used to be; lazy, spoiled, and conceited. But now, as he stood before her and worried to be the kind of man James would approve of, it demonstrated just how much the prince had changed during his time with her daughter.
"I don't think you have anything to worry about, Naveen," she said softly. "I'm sure James would've loved you."
He slowly raised his eyes to look at her. "You truly think so?"
She nodded. "Of course. You make Tiana happy. That's all we ever wanted for her."
But Naveen didn't appear entirely convinced. "It's just that Tiana, she has given me so much. And as I am, I do not know how I could ever return all that she has done for me."
"You shouldn't sell yourself short. You've done a lot for her too."
He scratched his head, puzzled. "No, I do not think so. She was the one, after all, who saved me from the Shadow Man…"
Eudora nodded slightly, remembering the details when Tiana told her of the event. "That may be true, but that doesn't mean that what you've done for her is any less important. You are honestly the only one, in a long while, who has gotten her to have some fun sometimes, and you did help remind her of what's important."
He shrugged slightly. "Compared to her, it does not seem nearly enough."
She shook her head with a sympathetic smile. "It's not a contest, Naveen. You don't keep score of who did what or who does more. What really matters is that you do something. And helping someone become a better person is certainly enough."
Naveen thought for a minute, then looked at the portrait of James again, hopeful but still uncertain.
With a fond sigh, she pulled out a chair from the table. "Here, sit down," she instructed. As he slowly did so, she sat in another chair close to him, picking up James' photograph and letting it rest in front of her.
"I'm gonna let you in on a little secret," she said. "For a truly happy and successful marriage to last, it takes real work…and time."
"Now, see…" Naveen said, holding up a nervous hand. "I do not mind the time. However, I am still new to this whole 'working' thing. I fear that I may mess something up."
"Everyone makes mistakes sometimes," Eudora said. "It's only natural. But the important thing is, are you willing to work for this marriage? For Tiana?"
He quickly glanced in the direction of Tiana's room, and gave a resolute nod. "More than anything," he replied. There was no doubt, no hesitation. Just a simple and honest answer.
She smiled, satisfied. "Then you'll be fine. Just remember that no matter what happens, no matter how crazy things may get, you two chose each other over everyone else. No matter what life throws at you…just remember that you love each other."
A smile spread across his face. "That is something…I could never forget."
"As long as you keep that in mind, everything will turn out all right," she said, patting his hand and rising to her feet. "And I know James will be glad to leave our daughter to someone who loves her so much."
He seemed to blush as he got to his feet as well. "Thank you, Miss Eudora."
"You're very welcome," she replied. "But call me Eudora. After all, we're gonna be family soon, right?"
With a small chuckle, he nodded, and placed a grateful kiss on her cheek.
"Naveen?" a sleepy voice called throughout the house.
Both Eudora and Naveen turned to see Tiana, fixing up her hair as she came down the narrow hall.
"Oh, Mama," she said, slightly surprised. "When did you get home?"
"Just a few minutes ago, baby cakes," Eudora replied, greeting her daughter with a quick kiss on the cheek before heading for the kitchen. But she remained nearby, close enough to still hear the conversation between the young couple.
"How are you feeling?" Naveen asked.
"A little better," Tiana said. "But why didn't you wake me sooner?"
"I thought you deserved the rest."
Tiana sighed softly. "I still have so much to do, though. It's getting a lot worse now, with all the reporters starting to ask questions and everything…"
Eudora heard the rustle of paper and knew her daughter was getting back to work. She turned and caught Naveen's gaze as he stood behind Tiana seated at the table. She silently asked him to do something, anything, that would take Tiana's mind off of all this work, just for the night. He seemed unsure at first, but inspiration quickly struck him and he bent by Tiana, gently taking hold of her shoulders.
"Tiana, my love," he said in his smoothest voice, "how about we go dancing tonight?"
"Be serious, Naveen," she chided, though there was a hint of amusement in her voice. "There's still so much work left to do, especially since the guests from Maldonia will be arriving any day now…including your parents. We have to get everything done…"
He gave her a quick kiss to interrupt her as he somehow managed to coax her out of the chair. "And everything will get done, my dear, I promise you. But you see, dancing on the most special day of the wedding is an especially important tradition in Maldonia. And most certainly for the prince. Would you not like to practice dancing for when we present our marriage to my parents?"
Eudora had to stifle a laugh as she watched her daughter consider this. If anything, Naveen at least knew how to use Tiana's perfectionist nature against her.
"Oh…fine," she grudgingly conceded, but she still laughed as Naveen joyfully spun her. Seeing her mother watching close by, she asked, "You wanna come dancing with us, Mama?"
"That's all right, baby cakes," Eudora said with a wave of her hand. "You two go on ahead."
Tiana glanced at Naveen, who simply shrugged. "Well, okay," she replied. "Night, Mama."
"Have fun," Eudora called back as the two headed out. A calm silence filled the house when the door closed after them. She was just about to head back into the kitchen when the picture of James caught her eye once more. With drawn-out steps, she went back to the table and titled the picture frame back to get a better look at the image of her husband. She smiled.
"Our baby girl's gonna be just fine," she said softly.
And perhaps it was her imagination, but the sound of familiar laughter seemed to float around her, and she thought she heard a voice whisper something in her ear.
I coulda told ya that.