Disclaimer: No, I don't own Tangled, even though I really wish I did. However, I did buy the album on iTunes, though I'm not sure that technically means I own it.
Important note for all those who are grammar freaks like me: Yes, I am aware that "King" and "Queen" are not usually proper nouns, but, as I didn't know their names and didn't think I could make up any good ones, I assumed that would be easier. So, no, I am not defying the rules of grammar (however annoying they are), I am just bending them a little for the sake of the story.
The King and Queen hadn't seen their daughter in over seventeen years. They had no idea what they were going to see.
Would she still have her beautiful blonde hair, or did it turn darker as she grew up? Did she still have her mother's eyes? Was she tall or short, skinny or plump? Was it even their daughter out there, or was it an imposter?
Those were the thoughts running through their minds as they raced through the castle to the balcony where their daughter—or, if it wasn't her, the woman pretending to be their daughter—was, with the wanted thief who had returned her.
Naturally, the fact that Flynn Rider of all people had returned their daughter made them skeptical, but after more than seventeen years of nothing, no news at all, they weren't going to refuse any possibility of getting their daughter back.
The Queen got there first and threw open the doors, staring out of the balcony at the petite young woman standing there in a pale lavender dress that came to her ankles. Her hair was short and brown, her eyes undeniably the same green as the queen's, her feet bare.
The Queen stood there for a moment, taking in this woman's appearance—her husband's cheekbones and mouth, her own eyes and hair—before running forward and pulling her into her arms. Her daughter hugged her back tightly and, slowly, the King came forward, looking at his daughter as if rememorizing her face. He wrapped his arms around his wife and daughter, and the three of them sank to the ground, so overwhelmed by the emotion of the reunion that they knew their legs could no longer support them.
A feeling of gratitude overwhelmed the Queen and she opened her eyes, looking at Flynn. He was staring at her daughter with a tender expression on his face, and she knew with that one look that Flynn was not looking for a reward. He loved their daughter.
She held out her hand and he took it with a small smile, just expecting a thankful handshake, which was, in fact, all the Queen had intended at first. But she couldn't hold in her emotion and appreciation for this thief, and she pulled him into their familial embrace with all her strength.
The two men and two women sat there for ages, encased in each other's arms, holding each other tightly.
Thanks to Flynn Rider, of all people, they had their daughter back.
Which was why, when she was in her chamber with her husband later, the Queen was determined to have him pardoned of his crimes. She had seen his face and knew that wherever their daughter was, he would follow.
"Are you out of your mind, woman?" the King cried incredulously when she told him her thoughts. "Rider is a wanted thief!"
"I can see it in his eyes," she insisted. "He's in love with Rapunzel. He loves her. I would be everything I have that he won't steal anymore."
"You don't know what you're asking!" he said. "You haven't heard all the complaints from everyone who was burglarized by Rider! You haven't heard the things everyone says about him! I will not have him anywhere near my daughter! I won't throw him in prison now, but he has to get out of our kingdom!"
"You don't understand!" the Queen pleaded. "I think it's mutual."
That stopped the King short. "What?"
"I think Rapunzel loves him, too," she whispered.
"No. It can't be! She's a princess!"
"She didn't know she was a princess until yesterday! Besides, it's happened before! Princesses have married commoners!"
"Yes, but not thieves!" he cried, holding his head in his hands. "How can it be! Rider . . . my future son-in-law? You have to be out of your mind!"
"If you question his intentions so thoroughly, ask him. You know that no one can openly lie to you without it being obvious. Summon him, and inquire about what he intends to do. Ask if he wants a reward. You'll see."
"Fine," the King grumbled. He called to one of his servants. "Go and fetch Rider, please."
The young man bowed and left the room.
"I can't believe I'm doing this," he sighed.
"You want Rapunzel to be happy just as much as I do. I don't think she'll be very happy without him."
The servant returned a few moments later, Flynn Rider in tow, looking extremely nervous.
"Your majesties," he murmured, bowing low.
"Rider," the King boomed, lifting himself up to a greater height to intimidate Rider. "You have yet to ask about a reward."
"A reward?" Rider sounded completely baffled by the idea. Shock flashed in his eyes. "Your majesty, that's really not necessary. I didn't bring Ra—I mean, the princess back for a reward."
"Then, why did you even bother?"
"I'm sorry, sir?"
"Why did you bring her back if you had nothing to gain?"
"She belongs with her parents, your majesty. She only had Gothel her entire life and she needs her mother and father."
"Well, then, Rider, my reward to you will be to not throw you in jail . . . this time. Get out of my realm and—"
"No!" a small voice cried from outside the chamber. The Queen chuckled as Rapunzel raced in to Rider's side.
"It seems we have an eavesdropper."
Rapunzel blushed, but didn't back away.
"You can't send him away!" Rapunzel said, clinging to Rider's arm as tightly as she could. Rider's cheeks were red as he tried to gently pry her fingers from his forearm, but she wouldn't let go, her eyes wide with panic.
The King groaned inwardly. It seemed his wife's words—at least regarding Rapunzel's feelings about Rider—were true.
"Why should I not?" he asked her. "He's a thief, Rapunzel."
"Your father's right," Rider said gently to her. The King scrutinized his expression as Flynn spoke and saw Rider's face automatically soften as he gazed upon Rapunzel. "I'm a thief. What business do I have in a castle? I'm lucky your father isn't hanging me."
"No!" Rapunzel cried. "You promised you wouldn't leave me again! I lost you once, and then nearly lost you again when Gothel killed you! You aren't leaving again!"
"I don't have a choice, Rapunzel," Rider whispered, his voice even softer.
"If you're leaving . . . I'm coming with you."
"Rapunzel," the Queen protested.
"Mother," Rapunzel began, obviously not at all adjusted to calling the queen her mother, "I need Eugene."
"Eugene?" the King interjected. "Who's Eugene?"
"That's my real name, sir," Rider said, his cheeks pink. "Eugene Fitzherbert. As you can see, that is not the sort of name most people would expect a thief to have."
"I like it!" Rapunzel interjected indignantly.
"I know you do," he said with a smile. His hand caressed the side of her face before he remembered where he was.
"Will you excuse us for a moment?" the Queen asked with a smile, taking her husband's arm and leading him into another room. After a moment of heated discussion, they returned, the Queen smiling triumphantly and the King's face resigned.
"Very well, Ri—Fitzherbert." Eugene cringed at the name, but the King carried on. "You'll be pardoned of all crimes. And, because Rapunzel obviously favors you, you'll have to stay in the castle, won't you?"
Rapunzel squealed with joy and leapt into Eugene's arms, completely unembarrassed at her display of affection right in front of her parents.
"But, I warn you now—if anything is stolen and is traced back to you . . . ."
"I completely understand, sir," Eugene said, his head bowed towards the floor respectfully.
"Come on, Eugene! Let's go out to the gardens!"
Eugene hesitated, looking at the King and Queen as if for permission.
"Go ahead," the Queen said with a smile.
Eugene grinned widely at Rapunzel after that, a utterly smitten grin, and followed after her with a laugh.
"Told you so," the Queen murmured triumphantly as she walked to the window to wait for Eugene and Rapunzel to emerge from the doors.
"That you did," the King said with a slight chuckle, walking up behind her and watching as the two emerged and began to frolic around the garden, Rapunzel racing around and Eugene following her. "That you did."