Remember Eugene said that he didn't remember the two weeks celebration? That's because he wasn't there! This is what happened before happily ever efter.

Chapter One

The castle has settled down for the night. And it was very late. The excitement of the lost princess' return was expected. The kind of sleepessness it would cause was normal. But then, as Rapunzel collapsed in a heap in her bedroom, kept in tandem with her age through the years, so did life in the castle.

Queen Annalise cuddled her long-lost daughter to sleep. Bits and pieces of Rapunzel's rescue had escaped from the young girl's lips as she drifted to sleep. Queen Annalise did not have to make her daughter explain herself. She had finally returned and she and King Basilius were forever grateful for her existence. The kingdom intelligence's swift investigation had already verified the truth to the very last detail. And when Rapunzel was allowed to the throne room's balcony, Queen Annalise and King Basilius already knew taht the princess had return. She was brought back by her rescuer, a wanted thief that went by the name Flynn Rider, whose born name was Eugene Fitzherbert. When father, mother and daughter were overwhelmed by their unprecendented reunion, Mr. Fitzherbert was at peace standing in the sideline.

One look at his unassuming face and the long tear in his worn leather vest which had a garish stain of magenta, the Queen could only imagine the unspeakable pain the young man had gone through for her daughter. She could only imagine the kind of life he had led and how it forced him to make decisions that were so mistaken and misleading. She could only picture in her mind the loneliness and rejections and abuse that he had suffered all his life and all that finally brought him to the accursed tower that kept Rapunzel imprisoned. And despite all that, he had managed to make a decision that was so difficult and yet was the right thing to do. Queen Annalise realised that as lonely as Rapuzel had been imprisoned the tower, so had been . She knew that eventhough he was free to go anywhere he wanted, but he could never belong to any home or anyone. When Rapunzel had that woman Gothel, Eugene Fitzherbert had none.

He is the loneliest of the lonely, Queen Annalise said quietly and held her hand out toward the young man. He looked absolutely at peace but there was an unmistakable look of longing in his hazel eyes. As if he was gazing at something too good to be true. The young man held out his hand in kind to her, his face signalling that he was being courteus. The Queen suprised him when she pulled him into joining the human chain of embrace that lasted until all the four of them got sore.

So, the castle was now asleep but for one man. He was dressed in new gear, a brown leather vest that matched his eyes and a new pair of black leather riding pants and new white cotton shirt to replace his torn and bloody one. But Eugene liked his boots so much, he won't take a replacement even of the finest kind. He knew they always bite when first worn, and for the kind of travelling he was about to do tonight, he could not risk breaking into a new pair of boots. He had in his satchel packed with palace kitchen made bread and some roasted meat. One more thing before he was ready to go.

"Leaving so soon, Mr. Fitzherbert?" A voice stopped Eugene in the middle of his track. Behind him was the lithe and regal figure of Queen Annalise, the woman who gave birth to the girl of his dreams.

"Your Majesty, forgive me. I didn't intend to cause fanfare over my insignificant business of coming and going," Eugene said, after clearing his throat of some stubborn phlegm.

"I understand, Mr. Fitzherbert, yourself being a man who has lived all his life with the means of avoiding detection," the Queen responded with a smile. Eugene felt a lot better seeing that. He know at least he was not getting hung at the gallows for leaving and not claiming his prize. By the way, he was thinking, did the royal couple offered him anything for bringing their daughter back. Not that he cared for prizes, but at least he will not be hanged.

"You read me like a book, your majesty."

"The Tales of Flynnegan Rider by –"

"Wilhemina Marlowe-Shakepeare?" They both ended the sentence together. They almost jumped into laughter but held their emotions in check.

"Is that a symbolism or a reference or a background literature, your majesty?" Flynn said, always being the one who wanted to have the last line.

"Jokes aside, Mr. Fitzherbert, have you considered my daughter's feelings about your sudden and unannounced departure the moment she finds out?"

"Yes, your majesty."


"That is why I'm asking your generosity to be the guardian of this letter, which is to be given to your daughter, the Crown Princess of Corona."

Eugene handed to Queen Annalise an envelope with both hands.

"Tell me your reasons, Mr. Fitzherbert."

"The envelope is not sealed your majesty. Farewell."

"One moment, Mr. Fitzherbert."

"Your majesty."

"There is one detail that was brought to my attention about the rescue. "

"What is it your majesty?" Eugene asked, his brows furrowed into a crook. He was not ready to relive the nightmare but the queen had gotten his attention.

"The woman Gothel, there was not anything left of her."

"Of course your majesty, she turned to dust."

"Yes, even that, I would expect the intelligence to recover some dust, and any item of her clothing. It was as if, all the evidence of her existence on that fateful day was wiped clean. I know she existed because my daughter painted her form on the walls of the tower. But, other than that, Gothel was only images and words.

And the one who thrusted a long dagger into his gut! Eugene thought bitterly and jumped into a sickening realization – he didn't even have the scar to prove it!

"There must be something wrong, your majesty, but you have my word that I will not rest until I find out what happened to Gothel's remains."

"The more the reason you must stay in this castle, Mr. Fitzherbert," the Queen was begging in the most kingly way she knew how.

"The last time someone said something of that effect to somebody, the story ended in a catastrophe," Eugene said, making the decision he made final. He was never the kind that stick around, anyway, king, castle, or not.

" I must remain free to keep my mind and body up to the task, your majesty. Remember the letter."

When the Queen was inspecting the envelope, her eyes flitted away from Eugene for a split second. When she looked up again, Eugene Fitzherbert was already gone,leaving one of the thick curtains of a large window moving ever so slightly, signalling his exit. Or was it the wind?