Chapter 25

Over the next few weeks, things began to come together in the kingdom of Corona. Builders were sent to follow Matthias and his men back to their town and progress reports were flown via pigeon to the King every few days. The bridge that connected Corona's capital city with the rest of the world was slowly being put back together. The homes that were damaged were well on their way to being fixed and a sense of normalcy was returning.

"Winter will be here in two months; do you think everything will be finished?" Eugene asked the King, as they watched the work being done from the palace balcony.

"I've told the builders that the bridge is to be completed above all else. The winters around here are not a time to be trying to cross the water. The trees offer protection and a source of firewood. I have had Admiral Oates fetching firewood so that if we get hit early, there won't be a shortage. With any luck they will finish before the first snow flies. In about a month's time, if they are too far away, we will need to enact some sort of backup plan," the King replied.

"I agree," the former thief nodded. Silence fell between them and neither spoke for a little while. Before when silence would fall between them it was almost unbearable now it was more comfortable.

"Son," the King started, pausing for a moment. After Malik's defeat, the King had taken to calling him that more frequently. At first it concerned Eugene but now he just rolled with it.

"I want to thank you for all you did while I was incapacitated," the words slipped out as if he was trying to get it out before his brain told him it was a bad idea.

"The kingdom needed me. Rapunzel needed me. I just did what anybody would do," Eugene smiled.

"I have to admit that when Rapunzel came back to us and she brought one of the most hunted criminals in the kingdom with her, I panicked. It was good to have her back and for that I was forever grateful but I could not bring myself to believe that you had changed until the whole incident with you saving my life when Gothel reared her ugly head again. If there were any doubts in anyone's mind, they were wiped away with your actions a few weeks ago. I am proud to have you as a son in-law and proud to consider you my son," the King said.

"Thank you sir," Eugene smiled slightly. Their manly conversation was interrupted as the balcony doors opened. Rapunzel walked out into the sunshine and could not stop smiling.

"I take it your visit with Maximus went well," the King said.

"He's practically healed and ready for action," she smiled as Pascal did a little boxing routine on her shoulder.

"Good to see the frog is happy about it," Eugene teased. That earned him a tongue lashing from Pascal, who practically poked the former thief's eye out.

"Pascal, you can't do that to him anymore. He may want his eyes when the baby arrives," she teased.

"The good doctor confirmed it then?" Eugene was ecstatic.

"You will be a proud Poppa in about seven months!" She squealed and he pulled her in for a kiss.

"Congratulations you two! Have you told your mother?" The King asked.

"I wanted to tell Eugene first. She's next on the list," Rapunzel winked.

"Then we must tell the whole kingdom. No doubt everyone will want to know. We'll have to send word to Merlin," the King smiled.

"Yes we will. I hope that he and Amelia are making out well in Camelot," the Princess said as they headed inside.

"Well we were but King Amr has graciously allowed us to join Corona in celebrating the new additions to the kingdom, provided we come back with him when he visits in the spring," Merlin answered her question as he and Amelia walked up the staircase leading to the balcony, hand in hand. They were quickly given hugs and handshakes and invited to dinner which would be beginning shortly. They chatted and walked toward the dining room when Merlin pulled Eugene aside as the others headed in.

"What's up?" Eugene was confused as to why he had been pulled from the pack.

"I intend to ask Amelia for her hand but I'm kind of well nervous," the wizard confessed.

"Nervous? You? Are we talking about the same guy who defeated the dragons and the warlock?" The former thief teased.

"Not funny," Merlin said.

"Tell her how you feel, that worked for me. Of course, being madly in love helped. You just need to pull yourself together and rise to the occasion. What is she going to say? No?" the Prince Consort asked. For that he got a punch to the arm and the two men went into the room for dinner.

The End