Another day, another assignment to put off, another fanfic to write. I got the idea for this one while I wrote my last fanfic (Breakfast in Bed). And I got the idea for that one while writing my first Tangled fanfic, so let's see if the idea I got while writing this one comes to anything. It's a never ending chain…unless I run out of assignments to put off.
This story takes place a year and a half after the main action of the movie. Rapunzel and Eugene are still unmarried.
A carriage ride from the Palace of Corona to the Kingdom of Earling was a full day's travel. When Eugene and Rapunzel had ducked into the library to trace the journey in an atlas, they had been delighted by the length of the journey.
"Just think, Eugene!" Rapunzel had gasped. "This will be my first time outside of the kingdom! We'll see so many amazing new sights and meet so many amazing new people! I can't wait!"
Eugene nodded in response, but to tell the truth, it wasn't really the amazing new sights or amazing new people that had him looking forward to the trip. Rather, it was the fact that the trip entailed two full days of travel, which meant he and Rapunzel would be spending two full days alone in a carriage. Finding alone time with Rapunzel at the Palace was nearly impossible, what with the chameleon, the parents, the guards, the tutors, and the adoring populace. They seriously needed a change in their living arrangements, because a few stolen minutes a day just wasn't cutting it for him. But these carriage rides were going to be just him and Rapunzel, and that's exactly the opportunity he'd been hoping for. He couldn't wait.
But now, sitting in the jostling carriage headed back to Corona, he was feeling just as impatient. Only whereas before he had been impatient to spend an entire day with Rapunzel, now he couldn't wait to get out of the carriage and be alone. And judging from the glower of the girl sitting across from him, he wasn't the only one. This trip had not gone as he'd hoped it would.
After knowing each other for 18 months, Eugene and Rapunzel had just had their first non-frying-pan-related fight last night. And it had not been pretty.
It also had not been his fault. Not in the least. Really, his behavior last night had been remarkably good under the circumstances. He'd been charming and pleasant at the farewell banquet Earling had thrown for them. He'd danced with that grabby Duchess. He'd entertained the dignitaries by recounting stories from his Flynn Rider days—he'd even cleaned up the bawdy parts! And then after hours and hours of being on his best behavior, he'd gone out to the garden looking for Rapunzel when he saw her being proposed to by the Prince. And did he fly of the handle and make a big hullabaloo? No! He'd stayed where he was, waited for her to reject him, watched until they'd parted ways, and gone up to Rapunzel to express sympathy for that poor sap and then had tried to ease over the awkwardness with a joke. And he was the bad guy…why?
All he knew was that Rapunzel had exploded when he'd asked her if she'd been using his smolder.
"You are so lucky I don't have my frying pan right now, Eugene Fitzherbert!" she'd yelled. And then as he'd sputtered, she'd turned her on heel…then paused, turned around again, pushed him into the pond, and marched off.
That was hardly princess behavior.
"Keep acting like that," he'd called after her, "and you won't have any more princes proposing to you!"
Honestly, he didn't get it. What had he done wrong? Why was she angry at him? He'd been the one slogging around in the mud for half an hour last night trying to find the contents that had fallen out of his pockets. He'd been the one washing muck out of his hair—his wonderful, wonderful hair—at one in the morning. He was the one squelching around in damp boots. Really, he should be angry at her. In fact, as he sloshed his toes around, he decided he was angry at her. Really angry. He hadn't done anything wrong, so what was her problem?
For hours now she'd been staring determinedly at the passing countryside, refusing to say so much as a word, but now Eugene felt her gaze on him. The minute he looked at her, though, she was back to looking at the countryside. Like she hadn't been looking at him, probably trying to find some mud on his face that he'd missed.
Well nice try Rapunzel, but he'd gotten all of it off. Eugene Fitzherbert did not allow any dirt on his face. That was just…wrong.
He turned his attention to the other window. He was starting to develop a crick in his neck from having it turned to the right for so many hours, but he couldn't face forward, because then he'd be looking at Rapunzel. Who would probably become so enraged she'd…shove him out of the carriage onto the dirt road or something.
It was really uncomfortable riding in a carriage with someone you were fighting with. The only way Rapunzel wasn't in his line of vision was if he sat next to her, which he doubted she'd take kindly to.
He again imagined himself tumbling out of the carriage. Yeah, that would probably be the result.
Okay, this was silly. This was Rapunzel he was talking about. His Rapunzel. Sweet, innocent, wide-eyed Rapunzel. That shouting girl last night had just been…an anomaly. Rapunzel loved him. He loved Rapunzel. Surely if he just reminded her of that, she'd see sense. He just had to charm her a little bit. That was all.
He gazed steadily at her and her cheeks began turning red. She knew he was looking at her. Good. Time to turn on the—
"Don't," she said without even looking at him. "Don't even try the smolder."
Well, at least she was talking to him. That was progress.
"Oh come on Rapunzel," he groaned. "We both know we're going to make up. So can't we just skip all this crazy fighting and kiss? The whole pond thing? Water under the bridge. I forgive you."
Then she turned to look at him. Or…or glare at him, really. He had never seen her green eyes look smaller than they looked at that moment. They were almost normal sized. "You forgive me? You forgive me?"
Apparently he'd said something wrong.
"You think this is about a pond?" she continued.
"Well I don't know what this is about, Rapunzel," he snapped, folding his arms across her chest and lifting his feet onto the seat across from him. Rapunzel slid closer to the window, away from his wet boots. "Maybe someday you'll enlighten me, because at the moment this seems to be you deciding to be angry at me on a whim."
"A whim?" she snorted. "You think this is fun for me? You think you're a fun person to fight with?"
"Evidently, since you're so eager to be mad at me for no reason!" he shot back.
"Oh," she said quietly, "mark my words, I have a reason. I have a very good reason to be upset with you."
"Then what is it?"
But she just hmphed and turned back to the window.
Ugh. Why was this happening?
"Okay, you don't want to tell me what's wrong?" he said. "Fine. Don't tell me."
"Good because I'm not."
He took in a couple of long, deep breaths. Letting his temper do his talking was not the way to resolve this argument. And as infuriating as she was being at the moment, Eugene still fully intended on making up by the end of the carriage ride. Because, as he reminded himself, he loved her and she loved him…even if she wasn't acting like it. Plus, as soon as they stepped onto Corona soil, he would be back to not having any alone time with her, which would make fixing this problem considerably more difficult.
"If you're not going to tell me what I did wrong," he said slowly, "I guess that means I'm just going to have to go through the whole evening over again and figure it out." He paused and studied at her, hoping for some indication that this was the right course.
She was stony faced. A stony faced Rapunzel was eerie.
"Right before the banquet started we met out in the hallway. I said some nonsense I don't even remember about how beautiful you looked—"
Rapunzel sucked in her breath suddenly and glared at him.
"Fine," Eugene rolled his eyes. "I said you looked so beautiful they might never let you return to Corona. I do remember—you happy?"
Rapunzel didn't react.
"I'll take that as a 'yes, please continue Eugene,'" he interpreted. "Okay, when I complimented you, you blushed. And as we walked to the Banquet Hall you were holding my hand, so you must not have been angry at me at that point." He paused and studied Rapunzel's face. "If I'm right, don't react."
Then he leaned forward so there were only inches between their heads. He gazed at her intently…and very, very closely—closely enough that he could count every freckle on her nose. Rapunzel's cheeks flushed again and her lower eyelids began twitching.
"Well," he whispered. "Are you going to react?"
She was making a noble effort at remaining as stoic as possible, but the truth was, Rapunzel was awful at keeping still or hiding her feelings, even without someone shoving his face right in front of hers. He could almost see the waves of emotion rippling underneath the surface. He just had had to keep at it—she was close to bursting. Almost there.
He leaned in even closer. "I'm not sure if you're reacting or not. Hold still while I try to—"
"Oh for goodness sakes, Eugene!" Rapunzel exploded, jerking her head back to the wall. Her tone was an odd mix of vexation, amusement, and more vexation at herself for being amused. "No! I wasn't angry with you then!"
Eugene's ensuing laughter hardly helped matters, but at least he knew from her tone that his transgression, whatever it was, had been a minor one. She was annoyed with him, but annoyance was something he could handle. Whatever he'd done hadn't been that terrible.
"Alright," he continued, leaning back in his seat. By now Rapunzel had dropped her act of staring out of the window and was looking right at him. That was a good sign…he thought. "So you weren't angry with me then. And then there was dinner—but we were split up during that, so I couldn't have done anything wrong then…unless I embarrassed you with my table manners."
Rapunzel sighed. "No, Eugene."
"After dinner was the dancing," Eugene continued, visualizing the crowded dance floor in his head. So many couples, so many poufy dresses. "You started off dancing with Prince Randolph, but you can't be angry at me for not asking you first since you're the one who told me you were obliged to dance with him…being visiting royalty and all. And I danced with the redhead—" he eyed Rapunzel sharply. "You're not jealous because I—"
"Please," Rapunzel rolled her eyes.
Eugene coughed. "Okay, so after that we danced and you kissed me on the cheek afterwards, so you still thought I was pretty great then. Then I danced with that Duchess, but I don't think that could be the reason you're angry, considering she's at least 60 years old. And looks it. And that was the last I danced, because so much of the nobility wanted me to tell them about my exploits as Flynn Rider, so I spent the rest of the evening talking with middle aged men…which I doubt you can be angry about. Unless—" he rubbed his chin. "Unless you're angry that I didn't ask you to dance again."
Rapunzel shook her head.
Eugene sighed. "Okay, so that accounts for the evening until about 12:30, which is when I went outside and saw Prince Randolph serenading you and getting…carried away by his feelings." He smirked, but Rapunzel did not look amused. She hmphed again and looked out the window.
"What?" he asked. "You're obviously angry because of the way I dealt with the situation, but I don't understand what I did wrong! I didn't erupt into a jealous rage. It's not like chased him down and deprived Earling of their heir apparent."
And now she was sending him a death glare.
"What?" he repeated. "Why can't you just tell me what I did wrong? It seems to me that I was completely calm and collected!"
Wow. That was some death glare.
And then it hit him. But no—that was crazy. It couldn't be. It—
But what other explanation was there?
"You're not angry because," he said slowly, "I wasn't jealous, are you?"
"Please Eugene," Rapunzel sniffed. "That's ridiculous." But there was something about that sniff, that turn of the head, that determination not to meet his eyes—it was different than the rest of her reactions. If nothing else, he was definitely getting closer.
"You are!" he shouted, pointing at her. "You're angry because I didn't transform into some green monster and rip off his head!"
"I told you," Rapunzel insisted, "that no, that's not why I'm angry."
"Oh, this is rich!" Eugene hooted, completely ignoring her. "You pushed me into a pond and have been giving me the silent treatment today because when I saw a prince playing you some drippy song on the mandora—"
"—unimportant. Anyway, you're angry because I didn't take that mondola—"
"—and smash it over his head!"
"Eugene," Rapunzel said, trying to force as much calm into her voice is possible, "I want you to listen to me. That's not why I'm angry at you."
"Okay," Eugene replied and cocked an eyebrow. "Then prove it. If that's not the reason, why are you angry at me?"
"I'm angry at you because—" then she froze up. Then she glared at him again. "Oh, do not think you're tricking me! If I didn't want to tell you before, I'm not telling you now! In fact, I'm not speaking to you anymore, so there!" She turned back to the window, her nose stuck so high in the air Eugene doubted she could see any of the countryside she was pretending to look at.
Eugene hadn't been trying to trick Rapunzel into giving him the reason…but he had to admit, that would have been a good idea. Oh well.
"Rapunzel, you're being ridiculous," Eugene said after some meditation. "If you're angry, tell me why. Because I've thought about it—I really tried to find something that I did that was wrong, but I can't think of anything. If you're angry about what happened last night, don't blame me. I'm not the one who was pouring my heart out to you, telling you you'd," slipping into a nasal impression of Prince Randolph, "bewitched my very soul and I wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of my days by your side."
"If I were talking to you, which I am not," Rapunzel announced haughtily, "I might tell you to listen to what you just said!"
Eugene was puzzled. Listen to what he'd just said? He'd paraphrased the Prince's proposal. Was she angry about that?
"Look," he said, "I admit I don't much like Prince Randolph and I know you do, so I'm sorry if I'm being disrespectful to your friend. Okay?"
Rapunzel shot him a withering glare. "I'm still not talking to you," she prefaced herself, "but I don't care about Prince Randolph. That's not why I'm angry at you."
"Then what is it?" Eugene asked desperately.
"I'm not talking to you!"
"Yeah, so you keep telling me."
That shut Rapunzel up. Whoops.
"You weren't angry before the proposal," Eugene recounted. "You were angry after the proposal. But you're not angry at me because I wasn't jealous and whatever you're angry about isn't about Prince Randolph." He paused. "Was it because I was eavesdropping? 'Cause really, I was just in the garden. It's not like I was intentionally listening in. Though, I might add, I think I have the right to listen to whatever marriage proposals you receive."
This was too much for Rapunzel. Her resolution not to talk to Eugene was shattered yet again. "The right?" she cried. "What right do you have? You might have a right if you were my husband or my fiancé, but are you either of those things? No!" Then she eeped. Her hands flew to her mouth, she turned a deep shade of scarlet, and she stared out the window.
Ooh. Ooh! Of course! Eugene's eyes slowly widened as the flash of understanding passed over him. He jabbed his index finger at her wordlessly. Rapunzel, steeped in embarrassment, looked like she was contemplating jumping out of the carriage and tumbling out onto the dirt road.
"You're angry at me," Eugene gasped, "because I wasn't the one proposing to you!"
Rapunzel didn't say anything. She was resolutely staring out of the window, nervously biting her lower lip.
"That's it, isn't it?" Eugene exclaimed. "This entire time I kept thinking it was something I'd done, but you're angry because of something I haven't done!"
Now Rapunzel was tugging at her hair, like she always did when she didn't know what to do. And her green eyes were wavering, like they were tempted to look back at him but just couldn't do it. He'd hit the nail on the head. He knew why she was angry. Or rather, he knew why she was upset, but it seemed like an odd thing to be angry about. Why would you, all of the sudden, push a man into a pond because he hasn't proposed to you? If you're upset about something like that, you have a calm discussion about it, but to shove him into mud? That was unjustified. Up until now he'd believed, in the back of his mind at least, that there had been something he'd done to deserve being shoved into a pond, because for one thing, this wasn't the first time someone had seen fit to push him into mud, but mostly because his dear, sweet Rapunzel just wouldn't do a thing like that unless provoked. But now?
"Well I have to say," he announced, in his most scandalized, ill-used voice, "that I expected bett—" but before he could finish the sentence, he could see the anger draining from Rapunzel's face, replaced by a palpable sense of shame and humiliation. It was impossible to be angry at Rapunzel unless she was angry at him in return. There was that tremble of her lips, that shaking of her hands, and then she fastened those big eyes on him, and who was he kidding? It was only mud. It had washed out.
He sighed. And then he sat down next to her and put his arm around her tiny shoulders. He wasn't sent tumbling out of the carriage door, so they must have made a break through.
"I shouldn't have yelled at you," she whispered. Her voice was wavering, but he could tell she meant the words. "And I probably shouldn't have pushed you in the pond, either," she quickly admitted.
He shrugged. "Eh, if I didn't deserve it last night, I've probably done something else I deserved it for some time." In fact, he knew very well that he had.
She shook her head and hugged her knees to her chest, rejecting the opportunity Eugene had given her to lighten the mood. "No, you haven't. Not to me, anyway. You're right. I was angry that you haven't proposed—that I was hearing the words I've imagined over and over again but they were coming out of the wrong person's mouth. But that's not a reason to be angry at you."
He shrugged. "Like I said, it's all water under the bridge. I forgive you."
"Just…" she lifted her head from her knees and faced him. "Why haven't you proposed? Prince Randolph—he said he'd known me for seven days and already he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, but we've known each other for eighteen months and you still haven't asked. If I'm good enough for him, why aren't I good enough for you?"
"Rapunzel, of course I love you—"
She interrupted. "I'm not asking that. I know you love me. I may be naïve sometimes, but I'm not," she snorted and nudged him affectionately, "I'm not blind, Eugene."
"Of course you aren't," he responded. "I would be wasted on someone with anything less than perfect vision."
This earned him another affectionate nudge.
"Listen Rapunzel," he sighed, deciding there was nothing for it but the truth, "you're my first relationship that's lasted more than a day. I keep on waiting for me to say or do something to mess it up, but somehow that doesn't seem to be happening. I've never gotten this far. I guess—I've never proposed. I don't know what I'm doing."
"Well…?" she asked. She was looking up at him expectantly.
"Well if the only problem is that you don't know how to propose," Rapunzel answered, springing up from her slump against Eugene's side, "I can help you with that. Manners Tutor has told me again and again which traits distinguish a proper proposal of marriage from an improper one—"
"—first of all, a proposal should never be in public—"
"—please, will you—"
"—and you should never mention her dowry, or if you've proposed to other people in the past—"
"—really, we should—"
"—and don't say you're overcome with emotion, because that implies you'll change your mind later—"
"—and definitely don't mention any obstacles, even if you're talking about how your love for her is overcoming them—"
"—and don't say anything about her family, positive or negative, except to mention that you'll ask her father for her hand, but only do that after she's accepted—"
"—Rapunzel will you pipe down so I can propose?" Eugene shouted.
That did the trick. Her mouth shut, her eyes enlarged, and she gave him her full attention.
Ugh. He was getting such a headache. This was not how it was supposed to go at all. The first night he'd been about to propose he'd wound up stewing in mud...after witnessing another man—a prince, no less—proposing to her. And then the second time he'd snapped at Rapunzel because she wouldn't let him get a word in edgewise. Where was his finesse? He used to have it, he swore!
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small silver band set with a glittering emerald. "I was planning on proposing at the banquet," he explained. "I thought at the end of the evening I'd pull you into the garden and do it then—but then I was pushed into a pond, so…well…I couldn't propose with muck in my hair. And anyway, the ring fell out of my pocket and I had to spend thirty minutes searching through the muck in the dark to find it again."
"Oh," Rapunzel breathed. Eugene wasn't sure if she was paying any attention to his words because her eyes were following the ring as he rolled it around in his hands.
"It felt like I was in that pond forever," he continued. "It got even worse when that Duchess came out and found me sloshing around in the mud. Fortunately after a while Prince Randolph came back to play his gondola—"
"—mandola—" Rapunzel whispered, still gazing at the ring.
"—and when I told him I'd lost something in the pond he got me a lantern and I found it at last." He trailed off. Was he supposed to propose now? She'd already seen the ring and as good as said yes, but he wasn't sure if he was supposed to formally say the words. This was all backwards.
"You already had a ring," Rapunzel whispered. Then she grabbed it and inspected it closely. "You were already going to propose!" In her excitement she moved her feet onto the bench Eugene had formerly been occupying and wiggled her toes. Apparently she hadn't been wearing shoes this entire carriage ride. Eugene hadn't noticed since her feet were usually hidden underneath her dress. He wondered how often she got away with being shoe-less. Then he reminded himself that this was hardly important at the moment.
By now Rapunzel had already slipped the ring onto her finger and was admiring it in the light of the window. "I'm engaged!" she gushed. "We're going to be married!"
"So…" Eugene trailed off uncomfortably. He still hadn't actually proposed, but in all her enthusiasm she seemed to have taken that for granted. Well, he couldn't say he regretted that. He doubted a speech of his would be as flowery and poetic as the one she'd received last night. In fact, this had to be the least romantic proposal in the history of proposals. Well, considering he'd died for Rapunzel within two days of knowing her, he guessed that earned him some slack for this disappointment. Not that Rapunzel seemed in the least bit disappointed, judging from her squeals and ear-to-ear grin. "So I take it you say yes?"
And then she was squeezing him so hard the wind was knocked out of him. "Say yes?" she cried. "Eugene, I've been ready to get married ever since my mother sat me down and explained what marriage was! I've been hinting about it for months!"
His surprise prevented him from drawing Rapunzel in for a long kiss, which had been his intention. "You have?" Hinting? What hints? He definitely had not picked up on any hints. And he was pretty sharp.
"Oh, like when Big Nose got married and I kept on talking about how everyone should get married and how exciting it was—"
"Rapunzel, you may not be aware of this, but you tend to get excited a lot. That hardly counts as a hint."
"Well, how about how Pascal and I have been playing that game lately, where he tries to turn into the perfect shade of blue?"
Um…what? Did he and Rapunzel have different definitions of the word "hint?"
Noticing Eugene's confusion, Rapunzel explained, "I promised Pascal that at our wedding, he could be my something blue. And so he's been trying to find the perfect shade. The last time I checked it was a deep navy, but he keeps on changing his mind, so I'm not sure what it will end up being."
"Your chameleon is going to be your something blue?"
Rapunzel nodded enthusiastically. "And he's really excited about it! When I first explained to him what marriage was he wasn't that happy about it, but now that he can be part of the wedding party, he's really grown accustomed to the idea!"
"Okay," Eugene shrugged. "Well, I did notice Pascal was blue a lot lately, but I just thought he was depressed." He paused and wondered if that was a joke. "Any other hints I missed?" He mentally drew quotes around the word "hints" because there was no way these were legitimate hints.
"Are you kidding?" Rapunzel laughed. "There were so many hints. I gave you at least one hint every day."
"And those were…?"
And then she leaned over and gave a long, sweet kiss. "If one of those didn't clue you in that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you, I don't know what would." Her voice had that deliciously low husk that made his heart skip a beat and he immediately threaded his fingers with hers, thumbing the cool metal of the engagement ring.
"Oh, is that what those were? Hints?" he asked. His mouth still hung over hers and he could feel her soft, warm breath on his lips. "I think I need another hint."
It was at this moment that the carriage lurched to a stop. The startled tangle of Eugene and Rapunzel gaped out of the window to see the Palace of Corona. They were home. Rapunzel immediately burst out of the carriage, barreling towards her waiting parents. As she ran to them she made a big show of waving her engagement ring wearing hand, squealing, "I have such big news! Mother, we have so many plans to make!"
Eugene groaned. It was going to be a long time before he could get Rapunzel alone again. Probably not until the wedding night. He couldn't wait.
As always, reviews are very appreciated! And to all those taking final exams, good luck!