AN: Okay. First, sorry it's been so long since I last updated. School was more difficult than I thought it would be, but luckily I kept my GPA up enough to stay in the honors program.

Second, I tried to write another oneshot that answered the King Marcel/Earl Stephan questions, but it just didn't work. So here's what happened: King Marcel was going to propose to Rapunzel in order to unite their kingdoms, Max got Eugene to stop him, and Marcel ended up liking Eugene, so he left and Earl Stephan didn't gain anything.

Third, Peter is a boy, if you were confused. I thought it would be funny that since he didn't want Eugene to know anything about him, Eugene would just try to bother him by calling him girls' names. A lot of you liked that, and I'm glad!

Fourth, I love you guys. Seriously. Thanks for all the adds and reviews. I appreciate each one of them.

5. The Storm

It's the first major storm since she's been in the castle, and Rapunzel is terrified. Storms never really occurred around the tower; the cliffs protected it from all but rain and the distant sound of thunder. Here at the castle, though, the rain comes in heavy torrents, lightning flashes brightly in the night sky, and thunder rattles the windows in their sills. Rapunzel clutches her sheets around her. Pascal nuzzles her neck and chirps reassuringly. She is determined to stay in her room and not run for Eugene. She is stronger than –

Lightning lights up the room, followed by a loud boom of thunder. Rapunzel gasps.

"I'm alright, Pascal," she says breathlessly. "It's just a little storm. I'm not freaking out, are you freaking out?"

Suddenly, someone knocks on the door. Both Rapunzel and Pascal scream in terror and hide under the covers. When Eugene calls out her name, she pokes her head back out and sighs in relief. He's standing in her doorway, wearing loose pants and an old undershirt.

"Oh, it's just you."

"Just me? What do you mean, just me?" Eugene replies, standing with his hands on his hips in mock annoyance as more lightning flashes. Rapunzel flinches and Pascal trembles against her neck. "And here I came to rescue you from the terrible thunder and lightning. Well, I guess I'll be going now—"

"No!" Eugene turns back around as Rapunzel jumps out of her bed. He looks surprised at her appearance. Despite their late nights together, this is the first time he's seen her in her silk nightgown. Thunder booms loudly in the distance, scaring Rapunzel, so she runs and jumps into Eugene's arms. "Sorry… I just… I never knew that storms could be like this."

Pascal climbs up onto Eugene's shoulder and shivers there, equally frightened.

"Well, this one's actually not that bad. I've seen way worse than this, Blondie."

"Worse than this?" she exclaims, still clutching him.

"Yeah, there're these storms called tornadoes, and they are way scarier than this little thunderstorm."

Rapunzel looks up at him with wide eyes. "How can they be scarier than this?"

Eugene shrugs. "Well, for one thing, the wind is much stronger. It can even rip trees out of the ground and carry things hundreds of miles away."

She can't believe that a storm could cause so much destruction. She wonders what the storm looks like and imagines all these different things, but those thoughts terrify her further. Her face presses against Eugene's shirt and she feels better against his warmth.

To her embarrassment, Eugene laughs.

"What's so funny?" she mumbles against his chest.

"You don't need to be worried about tornadoes. This kingdom has never had any, and it's unlikely that we will."

"Eugene, I'm scared."

He rests his head on top of hers and rubs her back reassuringly. "Well, why don't we do something to take your mind off of things?"

She nods.

"Alright, what do you want to do? Wanna teach me how to paint? I don't think I'd be very good at it, though. You could teach me some of that economics stuff you learned today. Actually, I don't think I'd be very good at that, either. Why don't I start a fire and we could sit and think about what to do, hm?"

"Okay," Rapunzel says. "And I think you'd be a wonderful economist. As long as you didn't cheat people on their taxes or something. Or steal. Or forge anything."

"Thanks, Goldie, for your faith in me." He starts to pull away so she lets go of him. He tilts her face up so she can look in his eyes and is startled to find that she's been crying. He wipes away the tear tracks with his thumbs as he cradles her face. "Hey. You're going to be okay."

She smiles weakly. "I know. I'm just frustrated with myself. I wanted to be tough, like you are, Eugene."

His worried expression turns into one of understanding. "Blondie, you're the toughest person I know. You faced those guys at the Snuggly Ducking and got them to start singing and dancing. You saved us from drowning. And, you know, brought me back to life with a magic tear. Don't ever think you're not strong."

Suddenly, Rapunzel feels renewed pride in herself. Her shoulders straighten proudly. "I did rescue you quite a bit, didn't I? The bar, the dam, the cave, then the whole getting stabbed thing."

He scoffs playfully. "Yeah, but none of that would have happened if I hadn't heroically rescued you from your tower."

"I seem to remember that differently. Didn't I force you to guide me out of the tower?" she says with a smirk. She must have learned that from him.

Eugene gives up. "Say, why don't I start a fire? Yeah, I think I'll do that."

When he finally gets the fire going in the huge fireplace in her sitting area, he pulls a blanket off of her bed and wraps it around her. She's curled up on an elegant, gilded couch with Pascal resting in her lap. The rain continues to fall heavily, but the thunder seems more distant than it had been.

"So what do you want to do?" Eugene asks, collapsing next to her on the couch. "We could play a game. You could tell me how handsome I am. I'd like that."

Finally, she smiles. "I don't think so. We don't want you getting a bigger ego than you already have."

"There's no such thing as a big ego," he says in mock outrage.

"Sure."

"Well, there isn't."

"We could play cards!"

For a second, Eugene is confused. "Oh, you mean we could do that instead of admiring my looks? I don't have any cards, do you?"

Her shoulders sink. "No. What else could we do?"

He thinks for a moment and doesn't come up with anything. So he just starts talking. And immediately wishes he hadn't. "Your parents told me I could propose to you."

She frowns in confusion. "Huh?"

"Well, I guess normally future queens do the proposing, but since you're still figuring things out they said they didn't mind if I did it." He tries not to look at her, and instead starts to massage her feet.

"Hm. So do you want to propose to me, Eugene?"

He can tell she's trying to be flirty and she's probably fluttering those long eyelashes, but he refuses to give in. "Maybe."

She pulls her feet away and moves closer to him. "Come on, don't you want to be married to me? We could spend every single moment together. Wouldn't you like that?"

"Blondie, we already do spend almost every single moment together," he points out. He's glad he's turned her attention away from the storm, but really. Flynn Rider would never have gotten himself into this position. "And besides, we've only known each other a year."

Rapunzel frowns. "Father and Mother only knew each other three months before they got married."

Damn. Leave it to Blondie over here to come up with an example like that.

"And don't you want to be able to kiss me more? I know it makes you uncomfortable, but I was thinking that if we got married, we could kiss anytime we wanted and not get in trouble."

Oops. Now he feels bad for making her worry about him being uncomfortable. Which he never is when they kiss. When her lips are on his, he's definitely not uncomfortable, except in the good way. Ahem.

"We don't need to rush into it, is what I'm saying," Eugene finally says.

"But we can still kiss, right?" Rapunzel asks, looking excited and anxious at the same time.

He smiles. "Of course. In fact, why don't we kiss right now?"

She grins and leans toward him. They've never planned a kiss, per se. It just seems to happen, in the heat of a moment. Reading an exciting book together. Standing in the rain because she likes to feel the wet ground beneath her feet. Realizing he's not dead anymore.

So as he leans in to close the distance between them, he feels a little nervous. When their lips finally meet, the nerves completely disappear.

Eugene is kissing her and it's like flying. This feeling is so close to how she felt when she used to hair to leave the tower, falling and falling into freedom. But it's so much more. He's sighing her name as he pulls back to take a breath and she looks up at him and he smiles and she knows she doesn't have to worry. She's glad Pascal is finally asleep on the arm of the couch, behind her where he can't see. She smiles back at Eugene, and she can see his desperation when it returns as he leans in again.

He kisses her again. His hands are grabbing her upper arms, pressing her back against the couch cushion, and her hands are wrapped around his neck. Her fingers sink into the soft hair at the nape of his neck and twist, gently pulling on the thick strands. He moans softly, quietly, and it sends strange tingles throughout her body. His hands move up to her own hair, still so short and no longer golden. She pushes the bad thought away and enjoys how his fingers are running through her hair, down her cheek, and back down to the small of her back.

She feels like her skin is on fire and the only way to put it out to get closer to Eugene, so she moves to sit in his lap and he groans and she sighs and it's magic. His arms wrap around her, so tight, and he moves his lips from her mouth to her jaw, to her throat.

She loves kissing Eugene. But this feeling is starting to scare her.

"Stop," she whispers. He doesn't seem to hear, so she says it louder and pushes against him. "Stop, Eugene!"

He immediately pulls away and looks at her with the saddest, most dejected face she has ever seen. It breaks her heart.

"Sorry," she says. "I just… That felt so good but I got scared because I've never felt like that before and—"

"No, Rapunzel," Eugene interrupts. "I'm sorry. I keep going too far. It's not your fault."

"I do like kissing you," she says cheerfully.

He chuckles. "I like kissing you, too."

"So what do we do now?" she asks. Suddenly she feels really sleepy and she must show it, because Eugene picks her up from the couch and lays her down on her bed. As he pulls the covers over her, she grabs his hand. "Will you stay, Eugene?"

He thinks about staying. He really does, and he really wants to. But it's probably not a good idea. "I don't think you parents would appreciate that."

"Parents, shmarents," she says sleepily, and he wonders where she learned that cliché.

"Good night, Goldie," he says. He leans down and kisses her cheek.

"I love you, Eugene."

"I love you, too, Rapunzel."