A/N: Yeah, new story! This is one of the best fanfics I've ever written.
It's based on the idea that 1) Gothel would have really messed up Rapunzel and she'd need time to heal and get used to people and 2) that it's highly unlikely that there wouldn't be someone selected to be the heir incase Rapunzel isn't found.
This story is a bit O/C heavy because… frankly, there's no other way to write it. None of the courtiers are given names or speaking parts. It's good, so just roll with it. You'll enjoy it, I assure you, or your money back.
PS: You can find more information and faster updates on my DeviantArt (linked in profile).
A New Tangled Tale
Prince Frederick chewed his bottom lip. It wasn't that he was angry that the lost princess had been found. His cousin was pretty, charming, and a good icon of their country… as a princess. But that was just it. They didn't plan to keep her as a princess. She was the heir apparent. The lost Princess, Rapunzel, and that ex-thief were going to the rulers of his country.
To be sure the girl was charming, and pretty enough, he'd marry her if they allowed him. His Aunt and Uncle were too overjoyed to have their lost princess back to even consider separating her from the man she was in love with. Rapunzel would surely leave if her parents tried to separate her from her thief. The monarchs were more than happy to let the 'man with fine upstanding character who saved our daughter's life' have her hand in marriage, once she finally said yes.
It was enough to make Prince Frederick grind his teeth in frustration. His aunt Catherine, the Queen, had been made barren from the sickness. The sun flower had saved her life, but once Rapunzel was born the Queen was no longer able to give birth. That would have been fine… well not fine, it would have been acceptable, if the heir apparent hadn't been taken away only a few days after their birth. After a few years when it was clear that they were not going to find the princess, and that the Queen was unable to conceive a new heir he had been brought in.
Frederick had only been two when the princess was born and only four when his mother had brought him to the palace to live. He was the closest relative to the King, and he had been named the new heir. Frederick had spent his entire life being raised to be king. He'd been trained in etiquette, military strategy, history, philosophy, geography, mathematics, languages (he could speak four of them). He knew how to tell the difference between a Lord and a Duke. He knew how to act at state function. He'd been trained as a knight as the king had been. Frederick had been preparing to be a noble since he was born, preparing to be king since he was four. He was now twenty. Sixteen long years of work wasted at the return of the princess.
He didn't hate the girl; she was cute, she had a certain way about her which would be great for social functions once she learned which spoon to use when. She would be a great asset to the kingdom, but not as a ruler. She would win people's hearts; their own peoples as well as any foreigner nobles who came to visit, but she would not know how to deal with the hard politics, the hard decisions of when to go to war and how many troops to send, how to handle political prisoners. She didn't understand the mathematics behind calculating the amount of food it would take to feed a starving village in a time of famine matched up with how much debt the kingdom could go into. He suspected the princess wouldn't even understand that the cheapest food might not always be the best depending on what country they had to buy from.
So how was it that a girl who had only ever read three books, who's aptitude was in art and astronomy, who until recently had been locked in a tower with no contact with the outside world or anyone was named to be the next ruler of the kingdom?
Prince Frederick was not an evil man. He wasn't a bad guy. He resented his hard work being for nothing, but he loved the kingdom he'd been raised in. The lost princess could be a symbol of national pride, with the right person as king the country would have both a symbol of national pride and someone who knew how to deal with the politics of royalty. Frederick would have preferred if his cousin was going to marry even a man from a foreign nation, because that person would probably have been raised royal, been raised to take care of his vassals. Instead Rapunzel had fallen in love with a thief.
Flynn Rider, nee Eugene Fitzherbert, wasn't a stupid man… mostly. He had his charms, he was very charming, and he was surprisingly good at dealing with the underbelly of society. This could be very useful for a kingship, to have such a man around. Rider was resourceful, brave and strong, he could be an asset to the kingdom. In reality Prince Frederick would have had no problem with his royal cousin marrying the thief if she wasn't going to be Queen. In a way he may not have even had trouble with his royal cousin marrying the thief if the world wise thief was going to have some power over his wife.
Should Rider and the princess marry the thief would not become king. No one who married Rapunzel would become king, only Queen's Consort. Rapunzel would be the soul ruler of their kingdom. She was it, the girl who'd been locked away from the world, who had very few experiences with people, who had no understanding of the intricacies of running a kingdom or dealing with foreign dignitaries. She was going to be the Queen, the only ruler of this kingdom that Prince Frederick loved so much. That, that one fact was that one that the prince could not, would not stand for.
"Eugene, what do you think?" Rapunzel asked, showing her beloved the hat the town's sale's woman was trying to sell to her. She would self consciously run her fingers through her now very short brown hair to the point that Eugene had told her to just buy a hat so she wouldn't feel so tempted to bother her hair. She suspected that he hadn't been serious, but she'd acted as if he had been, and had used the excuse to drag him out of the palace to go be with people.
After the weeklong celebration (that Eugene had mostly spent drunk) for her return, life had settled into some semblance of routine. It wasn't routine like she'd experienced of living in the tower, trying desperately to fill each hour with something to do so she wouldn't go insane fro boredom. It was often in her new life that she'd fall asleep as soon as she dropped into bed because there was so much to do now that she couldn't pack it all into each day. Yet there was a routine. One day a week was devoted to teaching her a religion she'd never been raised in, knew nothing about, but most of the kingdom practiced. One day a week was spent exclusively with her parents, learning how to get along with a mother who didn't belittle her and a father. The other five days involved three meals, lessons, lessons, and more lessons. Everything really came down to being a lesson now.
While living in her tower Rapunzel had never realized how much of the world there really was. She was an exceptional painter and artist, and she was a very talented singer. The palace astronomer was very pleased to find out how easily she picked up his subject. She'd traced the stars from her window since she was a little girl. She'd taught herself astronomy, and had been fascinated to learn that not only was there a whole subject devoted to the stars and how they moved, but that many star clusters had names from stories she'd never heard about from places she never knew existed. After astronomy she'd come to love history, which allowed her to read many, many, many books and hear many knew stories. She also had come to love geography.
From her life in the tower she'd already learned 'the maidenly arts' of sewing, cooking, and the like, so much so that her mother said that she didn't need lessons on those, which was good because she had so many other lessons. She already knew how to speak and read, but she'd never known there were so many complicated things involved in writing letters and stories. She had to learn grammar as well as learn how to read and analyze 'classics' that she was expected to know already. She was also expected to speak more than one language, which was impossible since she, according to her grammar teacher, didn't even know her own language. Don't even get her started on mathematics.
Outside of academic lessons there was dancing, horseback riding, and whatever all other nobles who weren't locked in towers had been taught from birth. Rapunzel took on anything she didn't know as a lesson, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. She enjoyed learning, especially because there was so much to learn. A couple times a week she would leave the palace to see the town's people. Even if she didn't go out of the palace there were so many people in the palace that she got to work on her hardest lesson: overcoming Gothel's horror stories of people.
Rapunzel firmly refused to believe that the world was a bad place, and people like her thug friend and Eugene assured her that there were good people even if outward appearances suggested otherwise… but that didn't mean that she still didn't suffer from having heard so many of Gothel's stories. She got along with people fairly easily, and really did like being around people. They made her feel happy, but there were still times when the idea of leaving her new bedroom to see people who she wasn't friendly with frightened her. At the moment the only people who knew about her 'little problem' were Eugene and Pascal.
Rapunzel had been starring at her reflection in the mirror, completely lost in thought until she felt fingers touching her head. She had one panic moment in her gut where she wished desperately for a frying pan. Then she saw in the mirror that it was only Eugene pulling the hat off her head. "This isn't the hat you want to buy," he said.
He looked through the hats the lady was selling. It wasn't like they couldn't afford to buy the whole stand, but neither he nor Rapunzel were really used to simply buying anything that they wanted… to be clear Rapunzel wasn't used to buying anything, and he was still used to a certain amount of poverty. He had trouble getting out of the mindset of only buying what was necessary or what he really wanted. He had a lot of money with him, he could buy Rapunzel a couple of hats but he wasn't going to buy more than one. He also kept his hand near his money pouch. Even with Maximus have basically gotten rid of crime in the city the ex-Flynn Rider couldn't get rid of the feeling that he was an easy target for a pick pocket with all the cash he had on him that that moment.
"Here, this one," he said, finding one with a wide brim and a cloth daisy stitched onto a purple ribbon around the hat. The hat itself was Rapunzel's favorite shade of lavender. The color alone would make the hat expensive, purple was an expensive dye. It wasn't a very practical indoors hat either, but Eugene thought it would make Rapunzel the happiest. The look on her face when she saw the reflection of her with the hat on confirmed his thoughts. "We'll take it," Eugene said, paying for the hat.
He was right, it had been expensive; but even without having so many coins in his purse he still would have bought it for her. Rapunzel was a big bundle of bubbly, emotional, feisty girl that he could hardly say no to. All she had to do was smile, or cry, or sigh, or laugh, or look at him, or not look at him, or really nothing and he folded like a sheet of parchment. He had no idea what he could be doing if Rapunzel hadn't been the lost princess. He wouldn't want her to go without anything. He didn't really get the feeling that she disapproved of his stealing, except that it hurt other people. He wondered if he would have gone straight for her, gotten a real job.
It wasn't exactly like he'd gone straight when he'd moved into the palace. He didn't steal anymore, but King William had a very specific use for the skills of Flynn Rider, one that Eugene wasn't exactly sure Rapunzel would exactly approve of. As far as Eugene was concerned, he wanted to keep her in the dark as much as possible about his new job.
The couple spent another hour in town looking around, speaking to people, eating food bought from a few different vendors (including grabbing some of the ever increasingly rare apples), and generally enjoying themselves before heading back to the palace. When they returned they would go their separate ways, as Eugene needed to go back to work and Rapunzel needed to study. They'd see each other at dinner and then at etiquette lessons, since both of them lacked the ability to actually appear at court at the moment.
Once in the main entrance of the palace Eugene looked around to check if anyone was watching before kissing his beloved on the nose. It made her giggle, which he liked. The moment didn't last long, though as an annoying voice rose to great them.
"Rider, would you mind not molesting my cousin in public?" Prince Frederick asked.
"Oh Frederick he wasn't-" Rapunzel started, but Frederick smiled and hugged his cousin.
"Don't worry, I'm only teasing my little parsnip," the prince said before kissing his cousin's cheek. Both Rapunzel and Eugene had met Prince Frederick at approximately the same time during the weeklong celebration. Frederick had cut in on one of the new couple's dances. Eugene had trouble remembering much else. He knew that Frederick had been the heir before Rapunzel was found and had watched the prince very closely in the first few weeks after the celebration, but the prince didn't seem to show Rapunzel any ill will. In fact if Eugene didn't know any better he'd swear that Frederick spent half of his time with Rapunzel flirting. When he'd brought this up to Rapunzel she'd pointed out that he felt that way about all the men who were around her, which was true, but he didn't feel that made any of it less true.
"My, what a lovely hat cousin, did you pick it?" the prince asked making Rapunzel grin.
"No, Eugene picked it," Rapunzel said.
"In that case throw it out, it looks ghastly," the prince said overly dramatically making Rapunzel giggle and Eugene scowl.
"But I like it so much!" Rapunzel said, playing along with her cousin's game.
"Well, I suppose if I cannot fix your extreme lack of taste then I shall just have to allow you to wear it, so long as it makes you happy and you know it makes you look silly." This made Rapunzel giggle more. Eugene tried not to scowl more. He knew it was only a game, but he couldn't shake the feeling that later Rapunzel would look at the hat and think that it did make her look silly, and that she might even set it aside because of what her new cousin said.
"Oh my look at the time!" Rapunzel said. "I have to go, I need time to try and get through iOthello/i," the princess said. She'd recently been having a very hard time getting through the plays her English instructor had been assigning her, especially if they'd been assigned by Shakespeare.
"I can help you with that, Othello's one of my favorite plays," Prince Frederick said with a kind smile. "It can be daunting if you're having trouble getting through the older English and the rhyme scheme," he admitted. The prince glanced over his shoulder at Eugene, and he was trying to lead the princess off to go study. "Don't you have a job to do Rider?" he asked.
"Bye Eugene, don't be late!" Rapunzel called, turning back to look at him and wave before turning back to walk down to get her books and go study with her cousin. Eugene turned to go do his job, but not before noticing Rapunzel taking off her hat. He kept telling himself that it was simply because that was not an indoor hat, and not because Frederick had planted that seed inside Rapunzel's head.