SPOILERS FOR EVERYTHING!
Okay so this is a three shot (right now) chronicling Rapunzel's first day as a not-so-lost-Princess as well as her and Eugene coming to terms with what's happened.
Btw, Eugene? Has to be the best name for a Disney Prince ever! He's so adorable and I love how embarrassed he gets about his name in front of her. And because I see it spelled 'Flynn Ryder' all over the place, that's how I'm spelling his name here. But of course I'm using Eugene because, seriously, how could you not?
When Flynn Ryder had outlandishly declared he wanted a palace he had been joking.
Now, while he did not own a palace quite yet, he was staying as a guest in one. Which was certainly a lot closer to accomplishing his one time goal than he had ever thought he would actually get. The guest room he had been given to stay in was huge by anyone's standards and certainly far more lavish than anywhere he had ever stayed previously. And while he had had always considered himself adaptable to the situation at hand, even he had to admit the show of kindness and generosity that went along with the room were making him distinctly uncomfortable.
Especially considering that yesterday he had been bleeding out on the floor of a tower, actually prepared to die to see someone else safe.
The one set of clothing that he had owned had been taken away and replaced, not that the bloody, ripped shirt was going to be much use anymore. The clothes he wore now were not lavish, yet the fabric used to make them was finer than any he had touched. And to think all this had happened because he had robbed the palace and accidentally returned the crown to its rightful owner. That and the fact he had picked a terrible place to hide.
And now instead of being Flynn Ryder, the dashing thief and soon-to-be richer than God, go anywhere at any time man with a private island, he was Eugene Fitzherbert who was actually closer to most of those goals than Flynn Ryder had ever come. Not that any of them seemed to matter anymore. No, the only person that seemed to matter anymore was off in another wing of the palace, probably preparing for her first day as a Princess.
His hand stopped on the buttons of his shirt. First day as a Princess. Three days ago Rapunzel had never been out of her tower and now she was just expected to, what, exactly? Greet the people? Catch up with her parents? Eugene had no idea. His education on both parents and Princess's was sorely lacking. How did one go about interacting with people they should know but didn't? For that matter how did one go about being a Princess? Or just a regular girl when they spent their entire life being something completely different.
Slowly Eugene withdrew his hand, looking at his palm. It should have had a mark in it, two actually, one from the rocks and one from the mirror shard. But the skin was smooth and unblemished, as was the skin of his side where a knife should have at least given him a scar. Really it should have killed him outright. It seemed that Rapunzel's healing made no distinction between hand scars and mortal stab wounds. Which was a change from the wrap-your-hair-and-just-heal-that-wound affair that seemed to have gone on before.
Flexing his fingers, he let out a breath of air. He had sliced off her hair in an effort to save her life, to keep that old witch from getting her claws into the young woman. Rapunzel kept her promises but the one to stay forever with her 'mother' was one he couldn't let her keep. But even though he knew he had done the best thing, all he could see was her shocked face as the weight of 70 feet of hair disappeared in an instant. He had been so blindly determined to make sure she was able to make her own decisions that he hadn't realized he was doing exactly what Mother Gothel had been: controlling the young woman's destiny. Letting his hand fall to the side, Eugene looked at the mirror in front of him.
The man who looked back at him with his shirt half done still managed to look better than he ever had. Though given all that had happened Eugene had a feeling it was far more to do with Rapunzel's magic than anything else. The idea of leaving this place had crossed his mind several times but Rapunzel already thought that he had left her once and he couldn't quite make himself do it. Not that he was even sure he wanted to leave.
"What are you doing?" he asked his reflection.
Next thing he knew he'd be going by Eugene full time and, what, exactly? Not being a thief? Not running across kingdoms or hiding from palace guards? Suddenly his words about finding new dreams seemed just as silly and outlandish as his words about wanting a castle. He wanted the freedom to go anywhere, to do anything, but now that dream seemed entirely hollow and pointless.
It was one thing to accomplish a long-held dream.
Finding another one was entirely different and far more daunting task.
"Damn it," Eugene swore, turning away from the mirror and buttoning up the rest of his shirt.
His boots at least had been salvageable and while a pristine pair of polished black ones had been sent up with the rest of his clothing, he pulled on the worn brown suede ones instead and walked out into the equally perfect and pristine hall of the royal palace. Like the room he had been given it was white and gold and perfectly nondescript. His glimpse of Rapunzel's tower had shown him that the space was perfectly unique and completely her own, full of paintings and things that were completely her. There was none of the grandeur of the palace, and none of the coldness either.
He gave no thought to the sound of his boots on the marble and gold as he walked down the hallway. The lead knot that settled in his stomach seemed to get heavier with each fall of his boots. His pace quickened as his feet took him through the spiraling corridors, though he had no idea if he was going in the right direction. Not from inside the palace at least. He walked quickly, his pace barely less than a run but by some twist of fate he found no-one who could give him directions-not that he thought a guard would be giving a thief directions to a princess.
Looking over his shoulder, Eugene spied a pair of double glass doors that led onto what could only be a balcony. Breaking into a run he opened them and stepped onto it, turning to face the palace. Even in the predawn glow, the palace seemed to shine in the light. His eyes easily found the windows that faced east, letting the most light into the throne room. From there he counted the windows that led to the place with the highest concentration of guards, which he had was certain were the King and Queen's quarters. And from there he counted over several more until his eyes came to rest at the one set which were open. That had to be where Rapunzel was.
Running back through the doors, Eugene did his best to keep the image of the outside of the palace in his mind. From the outside he knew exactly how to navigate to anywhere important, aka the throne room with the jewels. Inside, however, with the winding corridors and everything looking the same, it was much harder to navigate. Rounding the corner, however, he was met with the sight of enough guards that there was no doubt beyond the pretty doors was the formerly lost Princess.
Purely out of habit, Eugene ducked back around the corner and flattened himself alongside the wall. Almost immediately he realized how stupid he was being. He wasn't robbing the palace and if the group hug he'd shared with the King and Queen was any indication then bringing back a lost Princess was apparently fair trade for stealing her crown. Forcing the last remnants of fear of the guards aside, Eugene stepped out and walked into the circular room, where he was immediately greeted by the guards straightening up and locking their eyes on him.
"Easy guys," he said with a grin, holding up his hands, "its just me," he added, "and I'm just here to see the Princess."
The guards looked at each other, clearly wanting to say no but seemingly unable to do so. Much to Eugene's shock, the guards stepped aside to allow him a clear path to the door. His eyes moved between the two rows of heavily armed, obviously displeased guards but none of them made a move to stop him.
"You're not going to stop me? Really?" he asked, too surprised to keep his mouth shut.
"We've been ordered not to," the obvious leader said, though it seemed to pain him to do it.
"Are you sure?" Eugene asked, "because I-"
The guard gave him a look that could have curdled cream and Eugene trailed off. He had expected more of a fight, and, if he was being honest, more of an excuse to stop himself from going into Rapunzel's room. But apparently that wasn't coming from the palace guards. His eyes went to the door that seemed impossibly foreboding now. Forcing his feet forward, he walked over to the doors and raised a fist, knocking gingerly on the door.
"Oh well," Eugene said, turning around, "she's probably still asleep. I'd hate to wake he-"
His last word was cut off as the door opened and instantly a pair of hands grabbed the back of his shirt and yanked him forcibly into the room. Surprise counteracted his time-honed skills as a thief and he stumbled forward before turning around in time to see the petite Princess slam the door shut behind him with both hands before lunging to the side and grabbing an ornate chair decorated with elegant gold leaf and wedging it underneath the door handles.
"Are you rested?" Rapunzel demanded turning to him.
"Am I what?" Eugene asked.
"Are you rested?" the young woman demanded, impatience shining in her eyes, "people don't usually need rest after I heal them but maybe things are different now and anyway I thought with the rescuing and the running around that maybe you'd need rest," she rambled on, "so are you?" she asked finally.
"Yes?" he replied, his voice unsure.
"Good. Because we're leaving."
"We're what now?" Eugene asked.
"I said 'we're leaving'," Rapunzel said striding across the room towards the open windows which she had lodged a desk underneath, "you said to find a new dream and that is exactly what we are doing, finding a new dream," she added stepping onto the desk.
"Woah, wait a second," Eugene crossed the room over to the desk, "uhh, lets talk about this for a second because this is a very high tower-"
"Exactly!" Rapunzel turned around to look at him, her jade eyes bright, "which is why we are leaving," she said turning around to the open window.
All Eugene saw was the apparently borderline hysterical Princess, the long drop and the fact that there was no longer 70 feet of hair to keep her from breaking her neck on the way down. Horror flooded him as she stepped forward, placing her toes on the ledge of the window while one foot remained on the desk. Nimbly Eugene jumped onto the desk, taking care not to jostle it and throw her off balance. Rapunzel glanced over at him before bracing her hand against the window sill and looking down at the drop below.
"How do we get down?" she asked.
"Back up a second there," Eugene said, "why are we about to 'escape' from the royal palace that is technically your home?"
"Because you told me to find a new dream!" Rapunzel said looking over at him.
"Okay you lost me," Eugene said, "why don't we discuss this away from the very open, very high window-" he looked down at the desk, "preferably somewhere other than on this less than sturdy surface?"
Rapunzel looked at him, seemingly torn between ignoring him and scrambling down the tower with her bare hands and explaining to him exactly why she was thinking of doing something so insane. Just as Eugene got ready to jump forward and block her from going out the window, Rapunzel turned away from it and dropped onto the desk, burying her face in her hands. Eugene breathed a sigh of relief before realizing the danger hadn't fully passed. Carefully he lowered himself down to the floor before standing next to her as her shoulders began to shake.
"Hey," Eugene began awkwardly, "its not that bad-" he reached out and patted her shoulder, "whatever it is-"
With a sob Rapunzel launched herself off the desk and buried her face in his chest, wrapping her arms tightly around his mid-section. Eugene looked down at the armful of sobbing Princess. He didn't think he had comforted anyone since he left the orphanage years ago. Yet his arms easily came up around her as he pulled her gently but firmly against him. Rapunzel only sobbed harder at his comfort, her arms wrapping tighter around him. Thankfully there was no bright glow. Apparently there needed to be a wound for her tears to heal. Otherwise they were just, well, tears.
Taking advantage of her momentary hysteria, Eugene glanced around the room for what could have possibly put her into such hysterics. The room was just as large and impersonal as his own, except the accents were also done in a pale rose. A rose color that was only a few shades lighter than the dress thrown over the edge of the bed on the far side of the room and the slippers he saw discarded in separate corners, where he would bet anything she had thrown them. Glancing down he saw the familiar purple dress she wore and her bare feet. When her sobs began to soften, Eugene ventured to speak.
"Is it the shoes?" he asked, "because if you want to borrow my boots all you had to do was ask."
A wet laugh greeted his ears as he carefully drew back, just enough to see her face. Blinking back her tears, Rapunzel looked up at him, not loosening her arms from around his waist. She hadn't been able to sleep in the bed or eat or do anything. She had just been up all night, half expecting Mother Gothel to come running through the doors and half hoping that Eugene would instead. But neither of those things had happened and sometime in the night the dress and slippers had been sent up so that she could meet her parents in the morning dressed in something other than the well worn purple dress she was currently clad in.
But the dress had buttons that went all up the spine and the slippers had felt strange on her feet and before she had really known what she was doing she had torn off the dress and thrown the slippers as far to the corners of the room as she could. If she could not even get dressed in Princess clothing, how was she supposed to be a Princess at all? When she had opened her window to get some air, she had realized that for all her adventures and dreams and everything that had happened she had wound up right where she started.
"It's no use!" she said looking up at Eugene, "shoes hurt my feet, I can't reach the buttons on my dress and now instead of being off and exploring the world I'm stuck in another tower!" she confessed, "Only this time I've really got no way to get down!"
Eugene looked at her and for a moment Rapunzel was certain the thief was going to laugh at her for being so ridiculous. Even to her own ears she sounded silly but that wasn't enough to stop the tears once they started coming. She knew it was more than that. That it wasn't really a dress not buttoning or a slipper not fitting. That it was something more. But what that was, she had no idea.
"Hey, hey listen," Eugene said, his eyes flashing, "you're not stuck anywhere anymore, alright? If you want to leave all you have to do is go to the door and walk out."
Rapunzel looked at him, seeing the same passion in his eyes that she had when he had sliced off her hair to set her free. Right after she had been so certain that he had betrayed her and taken off with the jewels. Drawing back further, Rapunzel looked down at the ground between her bare feet before she looked back up at him.
"Did you really leave?" she asked softly.
Eugene looked at her, hating that she even had to ask such a thing. But it was a fair question. Especially given that her witch of a caretaker had taken the time to make it look as if he was the one steering the boat and probably told her he had just taken off once he got the jewels. That had, after all, been his whole reason for agreeing to take her to the lanterns in the first place. Slowly he shook his head.
"No," he said, "I went to give the crown to my, ah, partners in crime, and I was knocked unconscious and tied to the boat so it would look like I was taking off-" his words were cut off again when she hugged him tightly.
"Oh Eugene I'm so sorry!" she said burying her face once more in his chest, "I thought you had run away like Gothel said you had!"
"It was a fair assumption to make," he said, his arms coming around her, "I stole the crown remember?"
"But if you were tied up, how'd you get free?" she asked.
"Max got our friends from the Snugly Duckling to come and help in the rescue," Eugene admitted, "and then, well, you know the rest."
"Oh," Rapunzel looked up at him, "your chest feels alright, right?" she asked, her eyes anxious, "I've never healed anything like that-and not with my tears-and you're not in pain are you?"
"No, I'm fine," Eugene assured her, "not a scratch on me."
"Do you have a scar?"
"What do you think of my hair?"
"I-what?" Eugene looked at her, realizing what question she had just asked.
"I've never had short hair before," Rapunzel said tilting her head to the side, "but I've never had people who told me how my hair looked either," she added, "and you're the only one whose seen me with both long and short hair," she looked at him, "what do you think of it?"
Eugene looked down at her and the cap of short hair she now sported.
"I like it," he said.
Rapunzel looked up at him, her eyes moving over his face as it to discern whether or not he was lying. Her eyes took in the gold light on his cheek and her eyes left his face, looking out the window as the sun began to paint the city below gold. Feeling dazed, Rapunzel withdrew from his arms and walked over to the window, leaning on the desk as she looked out at the stone of the city. Her tower had been shaded by mountains and looked out on grass. But here the stone buildings rose high, the sun painting them gold as they spread out below her window.
"It really is beautiful," Rapunzel said, looking out at the view.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Eugene step forward to stand beside her, but no sarcastic comments fell from his lips. Rapunzel looked away from the window and back at him, her eyes meeting his. He had been doing that more often now, those moments when he would fall silent and he would just look at her and it felt as if he could see right into her very soul. And for the life of her Rapunzel knew she could not look away. Not when he looked at her like that.
"My parent's are going to want me to come down for breakfast," she said softly.
"Right," Eugene said, tearing his eyes from her, "well I'll leave you to it," he turned around.
"Wait," Rapunzel's soft voice stopped him, "can you stay? Please?" he turned his head, his hazel eyes locking with her jade green ones, "I just-"
"Okay," he cut in.
Rapunzel beamed, crossing over to the room quickly and grabbing the pink dress before looking around at the spacious room.
"Over there," Eugene said, nodding to the section hidden by a screen.
Rapunzel walked behind the screen and began to undo the laces of her dress, pulling off the fabric. The purple dress was well worn and well loved-as were all of her clothes. But it wasn't as if she had ever had a reason to be dressed elegantly. Not when she had lived her entire life up in the tower. Dropping the dress, Rapunzel stepped into the rose colored one. Unlike her purple dress this fell past her ankles clear to the ground. All of her dresses had always laced up the front. It was easier that way and the idea of getting her hair caught in fastening's wasn't an appealing one.
Reaching down Rapunzel began to do up the buttons, though it took a little work for her fingers to fix them.
"So," Eugene said from the other side of the screen, "got any decoration plans for this place?"
"What do you mean?" Rapunzel asked, biting her lip as she struggled to fit the buttons in their proper holes.
"Well I mean your tower had all those paintings on the walls," Eugene explained.
"You-you saw my paintings?" Rapunzel asked, her fingers pausing on the buttons of her dress.
"Well during my brief bouts of consciousness between whacks with your frying pan," he explained.
Rapunzel smiled even as she felt heat on her cheeks at the idea that Eugene had seen her artwork.
"I think I'm going to ask the King and Queen to give me a room closer to the ground," she said, "even if the view's nice up here, I'd like to be closer to the ground," she bit her lip, "do you think they'll mind?"
"I don't know," Eugene said, his voice taking on an odd note before he cleared it.
Rapunzel looked over at the screen before kicking herself. Of course Eugene wouldn't have any idea. He had grown up as an orphan. She kept forgetting that. That and the fact that they had met because he had stolen something and needed a place to hide. Even though really he had just given her crown back to her.
"I don't know either," Rapunzel said doing up the final button, "I hope they'll say yes though. I really have had enough with being high off the ground."
"Well at least you're not afraid of heights," Eugene offered.
Rapunzel smiled as she fitted the last button into its hole. The dress was tighter than her other one, wrapping snugly around her bodice and for a moment Gothel's comments about her weight echoed in her ears. For a moment she wanted to pick up her old purple dress, throw that on and run and run and run until the palace was nothing more than a distant memory.
"You okay in there?" Eugene's voice called to her cautiously.
Rapunzel looked at the white screen that separated the dressing area from the rest of the room, swallowing against the tightness in her throat. She was scared out of her wits and a big part o her wanted nothing more than to turn and run all the way back to her tower. Back to where things made some kind of sense. Gothel had always said the world was a terrible place, that she was not suited for it at all.
But she had also said Eugene betrayed her.
And she had been wrong about that.
Bending down to her rumpled old dress, Rapunzel plucked the square of darker purple fabric from the folds of the dress where she had hidden it. She had done so many impossible things over the past few days. Maybe, just maybe, she could do a few more? Folding the purple flag that was already showing signs of wear, Rapunzel tucked it into her sleeve before she turned to the opening of the dressing screen and forcing herself to walk around the side, fighting the urge to finger her shorn hair.
"I don't know if this looks alright," Rapunzel began hesitantly, her eyes on the ground, "I've always made my own clothes," she added as if it was an explanation.
Eugene turned around as she walked around the screen but when she appeared it was suddenly difficult to think properly. The rose colored dress she wore spoke to the talent of the palace seamstress. Cut close to her chest, the skirt fanned out to the ground, moving gently when she did, the warm gold embroidery catching the light from the windows. Even with her bare feet and cropped hair, she looked every inch a Princess.
"I look silly," Rapunzel said, dismay naked on her face.
"No," Eugene said quickly, "no, you look-" he tried to think of an adjective and failed, "you look like a Princess."
"Is that a good thing?" Rapunzel asked, trying to figure it out from his shocked face.
Eugene looked at her, still completely at a loss for what he should tell her. Suddenly it seemed as if he had ever given a compliment in his entire life, or as if every compliment he had given had been hollow. He had seen women who were more beautiful than the one in front of him but none had managed to render him as speechless as he felt at the moment. Her bright green eyes seemed to search his face, as if she did not know that being a Princess and striking a man dumb were good things.
"Yeah, uh," Eugene coughed and held up the slippers, "you need these."
"But you can't even see my feet," Rapunzel protested looking at the hem of her dress.
"Yes but this is a big palace and these floors are marble and your feet are going to get cold," Eugene explained, thankful to be back on familiar territory with the Princess.
Rapunzel looked from him to the rose colored slippers he held. They did not look thick enough to protect anything, much less her feet. But she had never worn shoes before. Moving her eyes from the slippers to the young man holding them, Rapunzel's eyes went back and forth several times as if by looking back and forth she could make them disappear or change, or do something other than just dangle there forebodingly.
"Okay sit down," Eugene said.
"Sit?" Rapunzel looked at him.
"Sit," he confirmed, walking over and picking up a chair before setting it down next to her. Cautiously Rapunzel sat, "foot out," Eugene said kneeling down. Rapunzel stuck her foot out, "point your toes," Eugene continued and Rapunzel did.
She watched with interest as he expertly stuck his thumbs into the opening of the slipper and before fitting the fabric over her toes. One of his hands grasped her heel gently while the other stretched the shoe along the length of her foot before guiding her heel into it as well. Rapunzel looked down at her slipper clad foot before looking back at Eugene.
"Better?" he asked.
"How did you know how to do that?" she asked him, moving her toes in a circle and feeling the leather move against her foot.
"Other foot," Eugene said and Rapunzel stuck her foot out, pointing her toes, "I was the oldest kid in the orphanage. You'd be amazed at what I can do," he told her, though while his tone remained light Rapunzel could hear a note of something else in his voice as he fitted her other shoes onto her foot.
"I already am," Rapunzel admitted as he finished fitting her slipper onto her foot.
Eugene looked up at her, his eyes catching hers. Rapuznel looked down at him, praying that he wasn't going to look away. A few days and she already knew he disliked talking about his backstory, that he withdrew the first few times it had been brought up. But she didn't see anything shameful about it. Being an orphan was a lot better than being locked in a tower by a woman she had believed was her mother. This time, however, Eugene did not look away. He looked at her in that way of his, his eyes holding hers and Rapunzel wondered if he was going to kiss her again.
"Your Highness?" a knock on the door stopped them, drawing their eyes to the ornate chair wedged underneath the handles.
Rapunzel looked at Eugene before turning back to the door.
"Yes?" she called, fighting not to have her voice tremble or sound uncertain.
"Their Majesties request your presence," the voice said.
Rapunzel looked back at him, fear churning in her stomach as she pushed herself to her feet. Impulsively she reached out and grabbed his hand, threading her fingers through his. It was on Eugene's lips to tell her that greeting whoever was at the door clutching his hand was not the way to go about kicking off her first day as a Princess, but the feeling of her hand so tightly in his stopped the words in the back of his throat. Rapunzel pulled him to the door before taking a deep breath and squaring her shoulders. Quickly Eugene pulled the chair away from the door one-handed before looking at her.
"You ready?" he asked.
Rapunzel looked over at him. Out of the corner of her eye she could see the open window. She could see the sky and she knew below that was the kingdom and beyond that the world. All she had to do was run. But Eugene's hand was warm and firm in hers and in spite of the desire to flee, with his hand in hers Rapunzel felt an odd sense of bravery fall over her. The smile she gave him was forced and edged in fear but it was a smile none the less.
"Yes," she said.
Keeping her hand in his, Rapunzel reached out and opened the door.
Next time the day continues! Can Rapunzel make it through her first official day as a Princess? Can she do it without her magical hair?
Reviews are love!