Thanks to everyone who has stuck by me AND this story. I've been in a rut, so hopefully you'll enjoy this chapter!
Here's where YOU can take part in the story!
A fan art challenge:
After reading the story, draw your favorite scenes, since my drawing ability is basically null, due to my disease. Thanks to the output of people interested in drawing these, which has been zero so far, but there's still time! :) PM the link to your drawings, etc, to me! Shannon, please, I'd like you to try to attempt this!
A/N - I apologize if it sounds like I'm copying off anyone. I assure you, it is purely coincidental!
Her footsteps could be heard within the tavern. The Snuggly Duckling was occupied by an older woman, none other than Katherine McCormick. She was pacing outside the pub, pondering question after question concerning the royal nanny position. "Is it filled? No, they'd put up an edict if it were. Have they even considered me? The princess certainly liked my resume. But that doesn't mean I'll get picked for the job. Oh, come on! C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon!"
"Here's you ale, Kat." a gruff voice came from behind her. It was HookHand. He brought a pint of frothy beverage out to her.
Kat. It had been a long time since Katherine had heard her old nickname used. She was no stranger to The Snuggly Duckling, though. That was for certain.
HookHand draped an arm around Ms. McCormick's shoulders, gently, yet, forcefully coercing her inside. He sat her down at the bar. She slumped her head onto her open palm. "Why so glum, eh, Kat?"
Here was her opportunity to spill everything to her friend and she took it, sighing, "I applied for the royal nanny job-"
"That's fantastic! Blondie and Rider or Fitzherbert could use someone like you." HookHand smacked the bar with a mug he'd been cleaning.
"The thing is, I'm not just doing it for the job. I know about Annaliese's secret – her magical, blonde hair – and I found a journal this old woman by the name of Gothel left behind and it explains, in detail, how she used Rapunzel's long blonde hair to keep her ageless! That's why I really applied."
HookHand glared at Katherine, his eyes small slits. "No one, but no one, is going to mistreat Blondie and Fitzherbert's kid. Do I make myself clear?" He pulled her up by the collar to be face to face with the thug.
Katherine gulped, "perfectly, but that won't stop me." She added the last part, under her breath, on her way out as soon as HookHand put her down.
"Princess Rapunzel!" Eugene's ears perked up, but he just dismissed it as if his ears were playing tricks on him. Then, the voice sounded again, surprising him.
"Prince Fitzherbert!" Why should I refer to that thief, no matter how reformed his is, as a Prince? It's disgraceful, that's what it is. The captain of the guard grimaced and thought to himself with every shout of the ex-con's royal title.
Eugene, slowly, got to his feet after, gently, touching Rapunzel's lips with his fingers. "Princess Rapunzel!" a call rang out, followed by, "Prince Fitzherbert!"
The prince consort began, wildly, waving his arms above his head, in a huge X motion, to get the guards' attention.
As soon as the sentinels saw the ex-con's signal, they bounded up the grasslands to the encampment of the prince consort and the princess and the royal couples' two, sleeping, children.
"Fitzherbert, what did you do?" The captain cried.
"What do you mean?"
"The princess was pregnant, a year ago, I might add, when she left to go find you, and now she's not, so what happened? Did she miscarry or-" he was cut off by Eugene.
"No," he chuckled a bit before adding, "She delivered twins!"
"Twins are a rarity in Corona." Commented the lieutenant.
"Well, apparently, not on Drakko Isle." Eugene Fitzherbert countered. "Besides, she's fine – tired – but fine"
"Eu-Eugene? What's going on?" A sleepy Rapunzel asked, but before Eugene could answer her, the whole platoon of sentries engulfed her, shooting her questions, as well as concerns, in all directions.
"Are you alright?"
"May we be of some assistance?"
"No, no, thank you," she stumbled a bit before finding her footing and the guards' were instantly at her side trying to keep their princess steady. "I'm fine, really. Where is my husband?"
"We were given specific instructions to escort you and Mr. Fitzherbert back with us to Corona."
"Finally," she brushed the forest debris off her skirt before finishing, "home." She twirled around four times on her left foot, coming to an abrupt halt and thinking to herself, Wow! All those years of ballet really did pay off! "Eugene! We're going home!" She called loudly into the glen.
"I know," said a seated figure on a dead tree stump directly behind her. Rapunzel jumped and turned around.
"Y – you heard e – e – everything I was saying?" Her eyes were wide as she stammered through her question.
"Yeah, Blondie," he took her hands in his, "We're going home. Was I that bad of company to you?" The prince consort asked, a little hurt shown in his amber eyes.
"Oh, no, Eugene! No! It was just a lot of work and a lot of pain."
Hearing the emphasis on a lot attached to the word pain, tore at the ex-thief's heart. With Oliver in arm, he clutched at his heart grimacing. Raking a hand through the back of his head, he added, "I'm sorry, Rapunzel. Really I am. If there were any way to take the pain away, I would have done so in a heartbeat."
"I know I know you would have, Eugene, but the fact of the matter is that there was no way for you to have taken it away." The brunette stopped her trek down the valley's side, to where the boats were that the guards arrived in, planted a gentle kiss on the prince consort's lips, and continued with, "Besides, you made the pain more bearable by teaching me the correct way to breathe."
This gave the former Flynn Rider a spring in his step. "Thanks, Blondie… I think."
He mumbled the last part to himself as the captain and lieutenant stepped into one boat, followed by Rapunzel and himself, and the other guards climbed into the boat Eugene used to get there, following suit by picking up the oars and beginning to row towards Corona.
In the middle of the vast ocean, the princess spoke up, with a question that the prince consort had never considered. "Eugene?"
"When did you fall in love with me?"
"I guess it was… um…it was when you… no, I think it was the night that you told me, and I quote, 'Hey. For the record, I like Eugene Fitzherbert much better than Flynn Rider.'" He answered in a high-pitched voice.
Rapunzel giggled. "And then you said, and I quote," she lowered her voice as far as it would go, after nudging his arm with her elbow, "'Well, then, you'd be the first… but, thank you.'"
Finally, they could see land and knew that their journey was almost over. After looking over the boat, the brunette exhaled, turned around, sank into their lowly vessel and continued on with their story: "Then you walked off into the forest looking for firewood when Moth-"
"Whoa – whoa – whoa, back the milk wagon up! Gothel! Are you telling me that Gothel found you?"
Rapunzel nodded her head. "And gave me your satchel with my crown in it. That's how I held it up to you on the boat during the lantern festival. I was too afraid that Mo – Gothel was right; that you'd run off with it if I gave it to you too early."
"But I didn't."
"But I thought you had an-"
Eugene reached through the darkness, took hold of the princess's, quivering outlined chin, and tilted it upwards. "I didn't." He said softly, yet, sternly, as if to get his point across. "When did you fall in love with me, Blondie?"
"Oh, the day you climbed my tower; I hit you upside the head with my frying pan and discovered that you didn't have any fangs."
"Fan – now why would I have fangs?"
"Gothel used to tell me all about the men with pointy teeth and I was afraid that you were one of them."
"Oh? And was I a man with pointy tee –" the boat was oared onto dry land and Eugene lost his balance, falling over, his head where his feet should have been and his rump in the air.
"Land ho!" Cried the captain.
"You, ugh, you could've given us a – a little more warning, y'know?" Prince Fitzherbert struggled to his feet, grunting all the way.
"Sorry," came the captain's curt reply.
"Princess!" A call rang out in the night in Rapunzel's direction.
She turned her head to see who was coming. It was one of the lower guards, who thought himself better than he, actually, was, and was called Florentino. He plucked at his sleeves and walked slowly, with his nose in the air as if to catch the whiff of pie, cooling, on a sill. Florentino bent downwards to pull the princess from the boat.
"You are to appear before the king and queen," Eugene started to follow his wife, when a hand shot out in front of him, "Privately." Florentino sneered at the prince consort.
Rapunzel looked back and called for Eugene, who assured her that he'd be right behind her. When she was out of eye sight and, apparently, ear shot, Florentino noticed the lieutenant's, who were on either side of Prince Fitzherbert, and said, "The king and queen are very displeased that you kept their daughter away for so long."
"They have no inkling why we were away that long," Eugene spit on the ground. "And neither do you, Florentino."
"My, my," Florentino hissed, "that almost sounded like a threat… from a man whose life is on the line. Do with him what you wish." And Florentino dismissed the captain and lieutenants.
"What?! Wait! No! Rapunzel! Wait!" His screams filled the night air as the two lieutenants dragged their captor off.
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