Author's Note: I don't own Tangled, but I do own a majority of the merchandise. I'm serious. Definitely over 70%.
The room is silent but for Rapunzel's sniffling. The room had just been glowing, with golden beams of light radiating from Eugene's fatal wound. A sob catches in her throat as she frantically examines Eugene's face. Out of habit, she pushes her hair behind her ear, but it falls right back into her face.
"Rapunzel?" Those three syllables are the greatest sounds she's ever heard. To her disbelief and astonishment, Eugene opens his eyes and smiles weakly at her.
Her voice just a whisper, she asks, "Eugene?"
He wraps his arm around her waist and replies, "Have I ever told you I've got a thing for brunettes?"
"Eugene!" Her tears of despair turn into tears of joy as she flings her arms around him. He chuckles and pulls her closer with both arms, squeezing her shoulders. After a moment, she pulls away to look at him. The colour has returned to his face, his pained expression has disappeared, and the life has returned to his amber eyes. Those gorgeous amber eyes…
Rapunzel had never kissed anyone other than Mother before, and that was only when saying thank you or goodnight. But the joy she feels at Eugene's return begins as a warmth in her chest and radiates out to the ends of her fingers and the tips of her toes and there is a tingling in her stomach that reminds her of how she felt when he took her hand in the boat on her birthday and before she knows what she's doing she's grabbing the collar of his doublet and crushing her lips against his. Eugene lets out a muffled cry of surprise before smiling and gently kissing her back, sliding his hand up into her short hair and squeezing her waist. Rapunzel giggles as his scruffle tickles her chin and she pulls on his doublet, trying to get closer to him. She breaks the kiss with a "smooch" sound and nuzzles her face against the warm skin of his neck as a soft groan betrays Eugene's disappointment. He pulls her onto his lap and squeezes her hip through her dress. His calloused fingers catch on the soft silk of her corset and brush against her shoulder bone. She shivers under his touch, squeezing the fabric of his doublet between her fingers. It feels so right, sitting in Eugene's lap, his arms wrapped around her in a comforting embrace, her arm wrapped around his neck, the other resting on his chest. She can feel his heartbeat against her cheek, and she smiles.
"Mm?" Eugene's busy ruffling his fingers through her short hair.
"I love you."
He stiffens underneath her, and Rapunzel's stomach drops. Is she only supposed to say that to Mother? She thought he liked her, but then he took the crown and left her. Left her for those two big men – men who probably had the pointy teeth Mother warned her about. But he came back! He came back and then… And then Mother had stabbed him. But why did Eugene come back if he didn't love her too? Love is caring for someone else, right? She loves Mother and she loves Pascal and now she loves Maximus and Eugene, too. Mother!
Rapunzel pulls away to look at him and wipes the tears from her eyes. "Eugene?"
"I… uh…" He looks away from her, at a spot on the floor, and runs his fingers through his hair. His eyes look distant, concentrating on something that she knows isn't on the floor. He squeezes the base of his neck and clears his throat. "No one's ever told me that before…"
"I tell Mother and Pascal that all the time!" Mother…
"This is a bit different, Blondie."
Rapunzel's chin quivers and she can feel her eyes beginning to water. She sniffles and rests her head against his chest again, raising a shaky hand and gripping Eugene's collar. Eugene takes her hand in his and brings it to his lips, pressing a soft kiss against her delicate trembling fingers.
"I can't stay here." Her voice is shaky and quiet. She remembers one time when it snowed and she opened the window on the ceiling to let the snow fall into her tower. Pascal spent hours playing with her in the snow. But Mother came home and yelled at her. Rapunzel cried and ran to her room. When Mother came in to make Rapunzel apologize for making a mess, she wouldn't. There was a huge argument that eventually ended with Rapunzel apologizing. She remembers how upset she was, how angry and frustrated, and how quiet her voice was, despite her anger. Rapunzel's grief of losing her mother is turning into hatred, and she slowly rises to her feet, determined.
Eugene watches, entranced, as she takes the stairs one step at a time, making the last trip to her bedroom. She tears down the curtain that acts as a door for her room and screams in frustration. Rather than tearing through her room, throwing her belongings all over the place the way she wants to, she falls to her knees and sobs silently.
Rapunzel hears Eugene stand up and make it halfway up the stairs, his shackle banging against each step with a clunk. "Rapunzel?"
Her mother betrayed her. Mother wasn't even her real mother! Her entire life is a lie! She wonders if her name is even Rapunzel. Maybe she should change her name, leave her old life completely behind. Mother lied to her! She stole her as a baby! All because of her stupid hair! Rapunzel grabs at her short brown hair and cries harder, her entire body shaking.
She feels the soft weight of her best friend crawling onto her arm, and she looks at him through her tears. He places a reassuring foot on her cheek and she slowly manages to get her breathing back under control. Pascal snuggles up against her neck and purrs.
"Pascal, she didn't hurt you, did she?" Rapunzel whispers. Pascal shakes his head and she sighs, relieved.
Rapunzel pushes herself to her feet and turns to look at Eugene, who's still standing halfway up the stairs, arm pulled out behind him by the shackle, with this bizarre look on his face. It's a mix between astonishment, concern, and complete and utter confusion; Rapunzel can't quite place her finger on it. But that doesn't matter.
"Eugene, we're leaving and never coming back."
She leaves him shackled to the stairs and walks into her bedroom. There's only one thing she wants to take with her, and it's lying right on her bed. Rapunzel grabs the purple flag and tucks it into her sleeve. She turns sharply on her heel and walks swiftly out of her room, down the stairs, and over to a small end table where Mother keeps her things. Kept her things. She pulls the drawer open with too much force and it falls to the ground. The keys she needs bounce out of the drawer. She scoops them up and marches over to Eugene, who is now waiting at the bottom of the stairs. He holds his hand out for her and she grabs the lock.
"Shh. I need to get out of here. Now." She's fumbling with the keys, having never used them before. Managing to slide one into the lock, she turns it to the right and nothing happens. To the left, nothing happens.
"Rapunzel." Eugene's voice is sterner now. He takes the keys from her and she watches as he skillfully tries all the keys in the lock. The second to last one unlocks the shackle, and it falls to the ground with a loud thud. She turns towards the hidden staircase and Eugene grabs both her hands, stopping her. "Rapunzel."
She stares down at the ground, preferring to look at his feet. Her body is still shaky, her nerves are on edge, and she knows she's going to break down again at any moment.
"Hey." He presses a finger underneath her chin and tilts her head up. "What's going on?"
"What's going on? Where should I start? My entire life's a lie, Eugene. My entire life. Did you know that Mother isn't my real mother? She spent my entire life lying to me! And you! You left me!" Her voice slowly increases in volume and she pounds her fists against his chest. "You left me and then you died! But before you died you had to cut my hair so I couldn't fix you! You left me all alone and I couldn't fix you because you're stupid! You're so stupid!" She bursts into tears and Eugene wraps his arms around her, pressing her face to his chest, nuzzling his face against the top of her head. "So stupid…"
Rapunzel squirms and untangles her arms from between her body and Eugene's and wraps them around him, squeezing him tight, never wanting to let go. She notices he's trembling too. "Eugene, you're shaking."
"Probably just blood loss," he whispers. A shiver shoots down her spine as his breath brushes past her ear, and she notices her legs are trembling. More than they were when she was angry. Now she's… nervous? Yep, definitely nervous; she can actually feel her chest moving from her heartbeat.
"I need to sit down." Eugene plants a kiss on the top of her head and releases her, then walks slowly over to the table and sits in Rapunzel's chair. He rests his head in his hands and sighs deeply.
Rapunzel sees an opportunity here. Cooking has always been her favourite distraction, and what she needs right now is a distraction.
She walks swiftly past him into the kitchen, wiping her eyes on her sleeve. "Eugene, would you like some soup?"
He doesn't look up from the table but says "sure."
Rapunzel looks around for the water bucket but finds it upside-down on the counter. "No soup, sorry." Her eyes land on the fruit bowl. "How about some fruit?"
"Sure." A half-hearted response.
She grabs two apples from the bowl, squeezes them and finds their ripeness to be satisfactory, then sets to work slicing and removing the seeds. "So. What's it like?"
"Dying. What's it like?"
"Rapunzel, I really don't –"
He stops as she sets a cheese cloth and then a sliced apple down on the table in front of him. She stares at her mother's chair for a moment before opting to sit on the table instead. Eugene gives her a funny look just as she pops an apple slice into her mouth.
"Wha?" Her mouth is full. Mother always told her never to talk with her mouth full. She doesn't care now. She'll do whatever she wants.
"Why are you sitting on the table?" Eugene picks up a slice and holds it between his thumb and index finger. "It's a very un-Blondie-like thing to do."
She chews the rest of the slice quickly and almost chokes as she swallows it. She clears her throat and picks up another slice. "Stop trying to change the subject." Rapunzel pops another slice into her mouth, nodding her head towards the empty chair. Pascal nabs a slice with his tongue and turns a bright shade of red.
Eugene stares intently at the apple slice in his hand. "I don't really want to talk about it." He slides the slice into his mouth and chews it.
"Then I don't want to talk about why I'm sitting on the table, either!" Rapunzel slides off the table and looks around the room for a few minutes, following the trail of brown hair from the foot of the stairs all around the floor of the tower. "My hair was really long, wasn't it?"
"That's an understatement." Eugene chuckles under his breath.
"Why'd you cut it?" He coughs and somehow manages to swallow the apple slice caught in his throat.
"Rapunzel…" His voice is raspy and not all there; like when he was dying. Rapunzel frowns. "I'd rather talk about where we're going and what we're going to do."
"All right." She sits back down on the table and eats her last apple slice. Eugene just stares at her. She stares back at him. "Well, I don't have any plans. You're a thief; don't you have some sort of … secret hideout or something?"
Eugene bursts into laughter. Rapunzel tilts her head; her question wasn't that funny. Was it? He winces and grabs his side. "Sorry… it's just… ha! I never stay in one place long enough to find a hideout!" He pauses and looks around the tower. "Right now, your tower is my hideout."
"It's not my tower."
"This tower, then. And I know it's not an option."
Rapunzel slowly shakes her head. Eugene brings his hand to his chin and rests his elbow on the table. Rapunzel looks at him as he stares down at the cheesecloth. She knows she would go anywhere with this man. Do whatever he asked her to do. She wonders if he would do the same for her, but then remembers he died for her. Her heart swells, and she places her hand over her chest, trying to feel the warmth inside.
"We need to get away. We can't go to the Snuggly Duckling –"
"Because some of them helped me escape from prison and I'm sure their friends are pissed."
"We can't return to Corona because they're looking for me. We could go to Rennes, but that's at least a two day journey. I'm probably still wanted there, too. There's always Paris or Angers, but those are…" He counts something on his fingers "…a week's journey, at the least." He sighs and looks at her. "Rapunzel, I'm sorr —"
She grabs him by the collar and presses her lips to his again. He lets out another muffled cry of surprise but swiftly wraps his arms around her shoulders and pulls her towards him.
Rapunzel likes this. She likes kissing Eugene. She likes his arms around her, squeezing her, making her skin tingle. She likes the weird feeling she gets in her stomach and she likes how his stubble tickles her chin and she likes hearing his quick breathing and she really likes what he's doing with his tongue, running it across her lower lip, making her heart race and her body tremble. Rapunzel grabs the back of his neck and tugs on his hair as she cautiously opens her lips and Eugene slips his tongue into her mouth. He tastes like apple and his tongue feels weird against hers but it's a good kind of weird and she moans quietly (much to her surprise) and Eugene intakes a sharp breath and squeezes her tighter to him and Rapunzel decides she really likes it when he runs his calloused thumb down the edge of her ear to rest on her cheek so she places her hand on his cheek and pulls away slightly, breaking the kiss. She leaves a smaller kiss on his lips and leans her forehead against his. Eugene's just sitting there, eyes closed, smile plastered on his face.
"Can you promise to do that every time I'm talking too much?" He opens his eyes and finds her grinning back at him. She takes both his hands in hers and looks down at them.
"I don't care where we go. I don't care what we do. I just want to be with you, Eugene." Rapunzel barely whispers it, but she knows he can hear her, because he squeezes her hands. She looks up at him and she sees in his eyes something… different. Good different, but still different. He takes a deep breath and gives her his biggest smile yet.
"Rapunzel, I love you too."