Flynn or Eugene?
Standard fanfic disclaimer that wouldn't last ten seconds in a court of law: these aren't my characters, I'm just borrowing them for, um, typing practice. Yeah, that's it, typing practice. I'll return them to their actual owners (relatively) undamaged. This is an amateur work of fiction; no profit beyond pleasure was derived from the writing. This story is debuting as 'netfic; it has not been previously published in any fanzine.
Flynn or Eugene?
by Susan M. M.
for my daughter, who has seen the Tangled DVD more times than I can count
Eugene Fitzherbert, alias Flynn Rider, tried to appear nonchalant as the guards escorted him to the king's private study. He didn't want them, or Rapunzel's father, to know how nervous he was. Yesterday he had been the greatest hero of the kingdom, the man who had found the missing princess and restored her to the bosom of her family. Today ... today cooler heads might prevail. Cooler heads that might, perhaps, remember that he had a price on his head. Judging by the guards' attitudes, their memories seemed to be returning.
One of the guards knocked. Upon hearing the king call out "Come in," they entered the room, half pushing, half dragging Eugene. They marched forward, stopping a few feet away from the oaken desk. The guards shoved Eugene down onto his knees. He bowed his head; this was neither the time nor the place for his normally cocky attitude.
"Dismissed," the king ordered the guards.
"But, Your Majesty - this man is dangerous," one of the guards protested.
"I don't think he's stupid enough to try to harm me," the king said. "Are you?"
"No, Your Majesty." Eugene remained on his knees, his eyes on the polished stone floor.
"Dismissed," the king repeated. As soon as the guards left and the door closed behind them, he ordered, "Up."
Eugene rose gracefully to his feet and gave a half-bow. He glanced at the room, automatically evaluating and pricing the worth of the books on the bookshelves, the tapestries, the antique oak desk and the throne-like chair in which the king sat. The contents of the room were worth enough to let him live comfortably - very comfortably - for years.
The king looked down at the young rogue. "I have a difficult decision to make. Do I hang Flynn Rider for being a thief, or do I knight Eugene Fitzherbert for rescuing my daughter?"
Eugene gulped at the thought of the hangman's noose.
In a gentler tone, the king asked, "Just what are your intentions toward my daughter?"
"I love her, Your Majesty," Eugene admitted. He hadn't even told Rapunzel that yet. "I love her," it was easier to say the second time, "and I want to marry her, but she - she deserves better than me."
Eugene bit his lip. He should have known he had no chance with her, not once she reclaimed her place as the missing princess.
The king continued, "She deserves better, but she seems to want you."
"However, you are the first man she's ever met. She has no basis for comparison."
Eugene wasn't about to tell him about the men at the Snuggly Duckling. Compared to them, Rumpelstiltskin would look good.
"I declare that Flynn Rider be thrown into the deepest dungeon, there to languish for his sins." The king dripped a bit of red sealing wax onto a paper on his desk, then pressed his ring into the warm wax.
"However, Sir Eugene has permission to court my daughter. If you both are of the same mind in a year's time, I will permit a betrothal. If you can remain honest for two years time, you may wed."
The king raised an eyebrow. "Are you saying she isn't worth waiting for?"
"No, Your Majesty," Eugene sputtered, hastily appeasing the king.
"Her mother and I have been waiting for eighteen years," the king reminded him, "and we're not willing to turn around and give her up to a husband a week later."
"Of course not, Your Majesty."
"Especially not a bandit husband," the king pointed out. "We had assumed, if and when Rapunzel returned, that she would marry a prince or a duke. If you can't remain honest - if you slip into your old habits - then Sir Eugene will disappear and Flynn Rider will languish in my dungeons for the rest of his life. Understood?"
"Yes, Your Majesty."
"Dismissed ... Sir Eugene."