This little tale takes place during the kingdom celebration on Rapunzel's 18th birthday. I expanded on the day, but did my best to stay in canon. Enjoy! :D :D
A big, huge thank you to my f-list that patiently listened to me freak out and babble about this fic for months. Thank you to red_b_rackham for the awesome artwork! And of course, irony_rocks for running the challenge.
"Rise and shine, Eugene!"
I am tempted to swat away whoever has the audacity to wake me up so early, especially after the day I had yesterday. My mind is still muddled being half-conscious and all, but I distinctly remember nearly drowning and-even worse-having to sing in front of a group of drunk ruffians.
I flop my arm over my eyes, blocking the sun's rays from disturbing my slumber. "Go away," I tell my human alarm clock.
"Eu-gene, it's time to wake up!"
My sleepy brain slowly recalls who is the owner of the sing-songy voice.
The woman with the impossibly long, magic hair. I lift my arm slightly and crack one eye open, looking for that frog of hers before he gets any ideas of how to wake me up. To my relief, he is perched on Blondie's shoulder with his tongue in his mouth where it belongs.
"Do you have any time what time it is?" I grumble, longing to return to my blissful slumber.
She bites her lip as she tries to figure out the answer.
"Never mind," I say, rubbing my eyes. It figures she would wake up when the sun rose. I bet she probably sang a morning song with the birds too. I push myself up with my left hand to a sitting position and immediately notice something is different. I seem almost...lighter.
Last night's question to Blondie floats into my mind. "Is there any chance that I'm gonna get super strength in my hand?"She had assured me that I wouldn't get such a thing, but now I'm starting to think she might be wrong.
If my theory is correct and I do have superhuman strength in my hand then this is beyond stupendous. It's unbelievable. I allow myself to start thinking about what I could possibly steal with my new found strength; the marble statues in the royal museum immediately spring to mind.
This is going to be fun.
I must have a strange look on my face because Blondie starts looking at me intently. "Is everything ok, Eugene?" Her frog appraises me suspiciously.
"I'm fine," I quickly assure her, practically jumping up in excitement. I dust off my pants and gesture towards the trees. "I'm just going to, um, take care of my business."
Her cheeks color slightly and she takes a step back. "Oh! Of course. We'll, um, just be over there." She turns towards her reptilian companion. "Come on, Pascal."
Without wasting a second, I dash for the closest grouping of trees. I glance over my shoulder to make sure Blondie and her frog are busy -she's busy twirling her frying pan in her hand for some reason- and glance at my left hand.
Well, it's not glowing or anything. I frown. I distinctly remember Blondie's hair lighting up when she sang that strange song that made her hair turn magical. Now I'm starting to wonder if I imagined the sensation when I first woke up.
There's only one way to know for sure.
I approach a boulder and eye it critically. Nope, there is no way that anyone could pick that thing up (maybe except for that gargantuan thug at the Snuggly Duckling). I lean down, grip the giant rock and lift it up.
It's as light as a feather.
Un-believable. Those trunks full of gold coins in the royal treasury won't stand a chance against me, I think with a boastful grin. This is going to make thieving almost seem too easy...not that it was much of a challenge before.
I spin the boulder around once for good measure before tossing it into the river. Part of me wants to see just how strong I have become and try to uproot one of these enormous trees, but I know Blondie will come looking for me pretty soon, so I nix the idea.
As I approach the campsite, I decide to keep my newly bestowed superhuman strength a secret for now. If I tell Blondie, she will probably make me promise to only use the powers for good or something else equally as philanthropic.
And that would be a terrible waste.
I step out from the trees and call out to my unlikely traveling companions. "We need to get going, Blondie. The kingdom isn't that much further from here."
She claps her hands and practically skips to me. "When do you think we'll get there?"
I look over the tops of the trees and squint. In the distance, I can see the top of the palace. "A couple of hours. Maybe a little more. It depends how far that river carried us yesterday."
She lets out an squeal of excitement. She grabs my right wrist and gives me a tug. As we start down the road, I realize we should probably be more cautious about guards patrolling the area, but I figure with my brute strength, I'll be able to toss them into the river.
Oh yeah, this is gonna be fun.
The next two hours are spent walking and answering Blondie's never-ending questions. Not that I mind too much. Not after the gift she has given me, even if she doesn't know about it yet.
I'm busy admiring my hand again -can you blame me?- when my attention is pulled away from it by Blondie's concerned voice.
"Um, I think we have a problem, Eugene."
I look away from my hand to see what is troubling Blondie. An enormous tree that has fallen due to the dam rupture is now blocking the path–the only path–that leads to the bridge into kingdom. The trunk itself is a couple of yards high and the overgrowth around the road is so dense, we won't be able to go through it.
Nope, I think smugly, that tree is going to have to move out of our way. I watch as she sends her hair sailing to one of the larger branches. It wraps itself around the bough, but the wood splinters as soon as she tries to give her hair a tug. She tries again and again, but is no closer to moving the tree.
With an annoyed sigh, she slumps to the ground, tears in her eyes. "Eugene, I'm not sure we can get past that." Even her frog, who is now blue-literally-seems to have given up hope. He leans into her shoulder and chirps sadly.
However, unlike Miss Negativity and her pet, I'm not worried about the tree at all. I hold up my hand to silence any other worries she may have and give it another admiring glance. I guess it's time for me to let her in on my little secret.
"I've got this covered, Blondie," I assure her with a wink.
It could have been my imagination, but I swore she swooned slightly.
Before she can say anything, I pick up the gigantic tree with my left hand and toss it effortlessly into the overgrowth, several yards away. I turn back to her with my perfectly confident smile in place. "What did I tell you?"
"Eugene!" she squeals, jumping up and practically dancing in the middle of the road with excitement. "You do have super human strength in your hand!"
I examine my hand closely, admiring it. "I do, don't I?"
To my surprise, she grabs my hand and looks at it closely. She gently runs her fingers over mine, as if trying to feel the power running through them. I tell myself I do not enjoy the feel of her soft fingers touching my calloused ones.
Oh, who I am kidding?
I am absolutely relishing in the fact that she is so interested in my hand. She has turned it over in her palm and seems content to give it the attention it duly deserves. Her soft fingers trace over the lines that run across my palm.
I'm plenty satisfied to stay here all day and let her idolize my hand, which will no doubt be the source of many legends, but a few seconds later, I have a sudden change of heart when her frog scurries down her arm and starts pressing his tiny green hand into my palm.
"Yes, yes," I say, pulling my hand away roughly, "we're all impressed with the hand that has the strength of a thousand men."
I ignore the disappointment that passes over Blondie's face and start walking down the path to the kingdom. That woman needs to teach her pet a little something about personal space, I decide as she approaches my side.
All of my ire is forgotten seconds later because I feel an unfamiliar sensation.
Blondie is holding my hand.
To my horror, I let out a strangled squeak. Quickly, I recover and clear my throat. "Er, what do you think you are doing there, Blondie?"
Was it me or did my voice crack in the middle of my sentence?
She raises an eyebrow at me, smiling slyly. "I'm making sure you don't get yourself into trouble with your new superhuman strength. Since I'm the one who gave you the power, you're my responsibility now."
I'm pretty sure I could get into a lot more trouble with her holding my hand, if the awkward, but not exactly unpleasant, feeling running through me is any indication. "Your responsibility?" The question comes off much more needy than I like.
Just as I'm about to ask her what, exactly, those responsibilities are, Mother Nature unexpectedly decides to distract me.
A big, fat drop of rain hits my cheek.
Frowning, I look up in the sky. But, I realize with a wave of confusion, there are no clouds, just blue sky and the too bright sun. And yet, I feel another drop of water hit my face.
"Um, Blondie…" I start, slightly concerned. What if that magical hair of hers makes you delusional?
Suddenly I realize that I can't feel her holding my hand anymore. Before I can finish the sentence, she starts disappearing before my eyes.
The world around me starts to fade.