A/N: This was going to be a oneshot but it morphed into something else. I hope you enjoy the first installment. :)
You're Killing Me
Rapunzel strolled through the royal gardens with two of her two best friends. Pascal was in his usual spot on her shoulder and Eugene was in his usual spot by her side, holding her hand. She couldn't stop smiling and her beloved had often commented that her face was going to stick that way if she kept doing it. The kingdom had lovingly accepted them and she couldn't believe how lucky they had been.
Eugene had been forgiven his prior sins by her father provided he stayed on the straight and narrow and that he worked around the palace as part of a trust building exercise the King had devised. The former thief had no complaints despite being forced to muck Maximus' stall twice a week. Needless to say the horse got a good laugh out of it and the two of them still hit one another on a regular basis.
"You ready for this afternoon?" He stopped and suddenly asked breaking the comfortable silence that had settled between them.
"I'm excited. The whole Kingdom will finally know what we already know; how much we love each other," she leaned over and pressed a kiss to his lips. When they parted, he chuckled.
"You don't think we're running into this too quickly do you?" Eugene wondered.
"Do you mean on a personal level or on a professional one?" She cocked an eyebrow.
"Oh definitely a professional one. I've been ready to marry you for months," he smirked. Rapunzel blushed.
"I can see your point. I haven't even been the princess a year and here we're announcing that I'm getting married. It's all new and exciting for everyone but I would think that we'd have another party like when my father announced I had returned," she smiled slightly.
"I don't remember most of that party. If that's the case then I'd best be prepared," he laughed again.
"I'll admit having a party for a week was a little crazy," Rapunzel laughed. Eugene pulled her close and they walked back toward the castle with her leaning into his shoulder.
"Ah there you are. We're just about ready to make the announcement. Are you ready?" The Queen asked.
"As we'll ever be," Rapunzel smiled. Her mother smiled back and gave her daughter and future son-in-law a hug.
"Your father is waiting," she said and they walked up the stairwell toward the large balcony where the royals made all their important announcements. Once they had all gathered the King walked out followed by his Queen and the happy couple.
"Ladies and Gentlemen of Corona! I have a wonderful announcement to make!" The crowd cheered in anticipation of the news. However no one noticed the caped man in the crowd working his way toward the front. They were so wrapped up in what the King was saying that it wasn't until someone saw what he was doing and screamed in alarm that their attention was diverted. For the caped man had concealed a crossbow in his cloak and now he aimed it at the King. There was mass confusion and the royals stayed rooted in their spots unsure of what was going on below.
"For His Majesty Prince Donald!" The man screamed as the royal guards tried to get to him but they weren't in time as the crossbow's trigger was squeezed and the arrow left the weapon at a terrifying speed.
"Your Majesty!" With every ounce of strength Eugene knocked the King out of harms way.
"Father! Eugene!" Rapunzel rushed over to the men she loved, relieved to see her father was all right. However, Eugene wasn't so lucky. The arrow had imbedded itself in his side.
"Eugene!" No longer did she have her hair to help her and now she hoped her tears would work. The Queen ordered the servants to fetch a doctor without waiting to see what happened. If they were going to save him, a doctor would be needed.
To Eugene everything was happening in terrifying slow motion. He could feel that sensation of everything getting cold and he knew that the blood he was losing could not be good. He opened his mouth to say something but nothing came and the last thing he remembered was seeing Rapunzel weeping, her tears doing nothing but wetting her dress.
Eugene awoke to find himself lying in bed with Rapunzel. He whipped his head around hoping that the King and Queen didn't see him. No one was there and he studied the room more closely. It was the middle of the night as the moon was the only light in the room. Cautiously he exited the bed, making sure not to wake the sleeping beauty. Then he strode over to the mirror. He was definitely alive but he had no explanation for the lack of scarring on his side or the wedding ring on his finger, which he'd worn around his neck on a chain until the announcement was to be made. He heard Rapunzel stirring and he made his way back to the bed, noticing that Pascal was nowhere to be seen. Usually the little frog would sleep on the nightstand in a special bed made for him by one of the palace servants who had taken a shine to him.
"What are you doing up lover?" The familiar voice asked.
"Just trying to get rid of some nightmares," he smiled nonchalantly. It must have been a nightmare because everything was as it should be. Well that was until he saw Rapunzel sitting up. She was definitely pregnant. That he could have sworn he should have remembered. When his eyes moved from his wife's large stomach to her face he jumped back.
"What's the matter?" Rapunzel asked only it wasn't Rapunzel doing the asking. Her hair had become long and wavy and was gray. Her skin had shriveled and had liver spots on it. The face was unmistakably Gothel. He saw recognition in her face and she smirked.
"So after all that the truth comes out. I guess I couldn't hide it forever for you see in the morning I'll look like Rapunzel again. Only the lack of sun shows me for who I truly am," Gothel continued to smirk. The look of horror on Eugene's face was quite evident.
"You don't really think you got rid of me so easily do you? For you see Rapunzel is the one who took that nasty fall out of the window. I just used her last bit of magic to change form and save your life. With your help, I was able to trick everyone into believing the lost princess was still alive and I simply took her place. The sun grants me eternal youth during the day and as long as I stay away from the moon's powers, I stave off death until the day breaks," Gothel told him. Eugene refused to believe it; no way had Gothel done all of that while he was dying up in that tower. Surely she couldn't have fooled everyone and that's when Pascal popped into his head. The poor little frog knew too much and he was probably dispatched as soon as Gothel found out.
"Either way, we're having this baby and there isn't much you can do about it," the woman said.
"Oh I think there is," Eugene quickly made his way to the glass doors leading to the balcony and threw them open. Then he strode to the edge of the balcony. The fall would most certainly kill him but with a pregnant woman the only witness there would be a guard at her door every waking moment or even better they would think she murdered him. He wore a smirk of his own. If his Rapunzel were truly dead than he would join her in the great beyond besides he couldn't live with the fact that he'd impregnated Gothel. If he had had anything in his stomach he would have vomited.
"Get back in here Eugene!" Gothel crowed now at the doorway too afraid to step into the moonlight.
"Only way you stop me is by coming to get me. Too afraid of what the moon will do? Afraid I'll really jump? See when you don't show yourself at the balcony edge or at my side they'll know something is wrong. They'll find out one way or another and either way I'll still be with Rapunzel," the former thief smirked, climbed onto the railing, and jumped.
He waited for impact and death; two things that never came as suddenly a bright light flooded his eyes and blinded him.
"Eugene!" The familiar voice reached his ears and he moved his hand to block the light. It hurt to do so but it was necessary to see where he was.
"Eugene!" There was Rapunzel being pulled back by the guards, the sun streaming in the windows.
"Rapunzel!" He shouted as loud as he could and the entire room froze. At this point, Rapunzel broke free from the guards and rushed to his side.
"I don't know how it's possible but you're here," tears streamed down her face as she buried it in his now bare chest.
"I'm not sure either but I'm glad you're you and not someone else," the comment confused her and she picked up her head and gave him a look.
"I'll explain later," he promised as the doctor rushed over and took over. Rapunzel stood back as they poked and prodded Eugene until they were satisfied he was in fact alive and that his wound was in fact real.
"Mr. Fitzherbert, I do believe I owe you my life," the King said as he stepped into the room. Everyone immediately bowed and grew silent.
"I would just say that you don't need me to muck Maximus' stall anymore," Eugene flashed a smile.
"Done. You certainly proved yourself today. Although I have to admit I am confused about your miraculous recovery," he said.
"All I know is that I awoke from a nightmare and found Rapunzel wishing she had her frying pan," again the former thief joked.
"Well the man who attempted to kill me and almost successfully killed you claims that he doesn't remember how he got into Corona or how he managed to shoot the crossbow. He can't be telling the truth but he didn't give us anything else to go on. The name he shouted in the crowd doesn't mean anything to me and he couldn't explain it either. However the most odd thing happened when the moon came out last night. He screamed at the top of his lungs, collapsed, and died," the King turned the tone of the conversation to more serious matters. Eugene went pale.
"Are you all right dear boy?" The doctor asked. Suddenly the former thief vomited all over the doctor's shoes.
"Perhaps not entirely," Eugene confessed.
"Let us depart so that you may rest," the King smiled and turned to move Rapunzel along. Pascal squeaked from his position on the Queen's shoulder and gave Eugene a smile. Still the thought haunted him about what Gothel had told him in the dream. How was it that this would be assassin would die in the moonlight? Could somehow the woman who tormented Rapunzel all her life be now tormenting them after her death? He wasn't sure how it all fit together but he intended to find out.
To Be Continued...