All the Luck in the World…
A/N: Well, I had an idea about Eugene… and it's a rather odd one. But anyway, I hope you enjoy it. It's a multi-chapter fic, but I promise I'm still working on my one for SGA. Don't worry! Tell me if ya'll are interested in this!
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Tangled or its characters.
Warnings: Mild-ish child abuse.
If one were to go see one of the many orphanages of Corona, namely, the tiny, out-of-the-way one that was rather hard to find. One would have to turn down a few alleyways, get lost, ask an old lady for directions, follow those directions, take a wrong turn, fall through the rotten boardwalk into a certain haystack, walk down a harrowing alleyway, walk back down said harrowing alleyway, and then get hit in the face by an opening door. Then you might possibly notice, that the door leads into the out-of-the-way orphanage that is hard to find.
Now, if one were to walk into said orphanage, and look very closely, one would see in the shadows of the back room a small group of boys. If you squinted, you would see an eight-year-old, brunette boy with thoughtful, sly, brown eyes. This boy would probably be staring over a spread of playing cards at another small blonde boy who would be peering back in much the same fashion. The brown-haired, brown-eyed boy looked charming, and he would've been a handsome young boy, if anybody had taught him to comb his hair and wash his face. This boy was Eugene Fitzherbert. Little did he know what an interesting career of thievery awaited him.
"Ace of hearts?" Eugene asked quizzically.
"Nope, go hunt." replied Arthur.
Eugene sighed in disappointment pulled a card from the top of the pile and forced himself not to smile. He had the card! He'd won! The whole point of "Hunt" was to either make matches of four, match the King card and the Queen card together (for there was only one of each in the Corona deck) or get the lost princess card.
"Palace!" Eugene cried.
"What? No way!" Arthur exclaimed.
Eugene triumphantly held up the lost princess card. Arthur tossed his hand up into the air and rolled his eyes. "You have all the luck."
A slip of a girl came up to Eugene, her pale skin looked ghostly in this light. "Eugeeeene. I don't feel good."
Eugene rolled his eyes and pushed her away, "You don't feel good every day. Go away, I'm busy."
"But I really don't feel good."
Eugene heaved a colossal sigh and turned to face the young girl's feverish blue eyes. He felt her forehead. It was quite warm. "Like what kind of 'don't feel good', Amelia?"
Amelia shrugged, "I don't know. I'm cold, and my head hurts, and it hurts to breath."
Warning bells went off in Eugene's head. Another kid last week had had complained of the same thing, and died from a few days later. His small brow furrowed, "I'll ask Dierdre if we can get some medicine or something."
"She'll say no, and you know it." Arthur mumbled. His voice switched to a high, thin mockery, "Now,
dear child, we simply don't have the coin for that kind of expense, you know that! Maybe if she stopped spending it all on dates with that Mr. York then we would."
Now Mr. York was not an unkind, ugly man. He was simply an unkind, handsome man who had never paid for a thing in his life and who wasn't about to start doing so. Eugene had to agree with Arthur. There was no way they'd get the medicine. Doctors of any kind were expensive, let alone ones that were actually any good. He sighed. Maybe what Amelia had wasn't so bad, maybe he was just overreacting. Or maybe she could have a deadly and life-threatening disease that was virtually incurable without professional help. Either way, there wasn't anything Eugene could do about it… legally.
Eugene rolled his eyes, "Maybe we all should just go live in the Warrens. At least then the coin we make would be ours."
Arthur's eyes widened, "You did not just say that! At least here we're safe."
Eugene laughed a bitter sound… strange from one so young. "Yeah, yet we're still getting knocked around, starved to death, lost, and sick… doesn't sound much different from the Warrens to me."
The Warrens, in fact, were not far from where the little out-of-the-way orphanage was. That place gave the south district it's slightly sinister reputation. It was one of the few places that the good King and Queen's reach had not quite, well… reached. It was crawling with orphans who were avoiding orphanages, criminals who were avoiding the noose, and citizens who were avoiding the tax-collectors. While it made most of the other kids cringe, the thought of the Warrens only excited Eugene. The Warrens meant freedom, freedom from law, freedom from society, and freedom from this God-forsaken orphanage. Eugene wanted to escape and go there more than anything else in the whole world. Unfortunately, the small eight-year-old in him was too scared to leave. This place had been his home since he was quite small, and only recently had he begun to venture outside the tiny yard.
Eugene remembered three years ago, when he was five. The King had sent a huge contingent of soldiers to flush out the Warrens, searching for the newly-lost princess. They had turned that place upside down, and caught quite a few cutthroats in the process. Back then, the Warrens had been his home. He'd grown up there among a small guild of thieves. His mother had been one, his father as well. He didn't really like to think about what had happened once the soldiers had reached their section. Eugene wiped his nose on his sleeve and heard a door creak open. Immediately, his muscles tensed. He felt Amelia and Arthur do the same. The trio slunk back into the shadows, watching the figure that stepped in.
Dierdre, she was all too easy to recognize: Her switch waving back and forth with a whoosing whippoorwill sound, her dark curls swishing around her form, her bangles clanging and jangling on her wrist. The smell of her 'Persephone' perfume permeated the air, clouding heavily in fruity and flowery fumes. They all hated her. She hated them.
When Eugene first met her, he had laughed at her cliché appearance. One taste of her switch cured him of that. While behind her back they all called her Dierdre (a nickname from an old Corona dialect meaning "dark and scary"), if one wanted to avoid playing jump-rope with her hickory-twig then they called her 'Mother Gothel'. Apparently she had a sister who went by the same name, though she only came to town a few times a month to buy cloth or something for a dress. How many dresses does one need anyway? Gothel II, as they called her, would stop by the orphanage, exchange a creepy dialogue with her sister, say something disturbing to Eugene or whoever happened to be unfortunate enough to be underfoot, and then leave.
Dierdre looked around, peering into the shadows. Eugene started to stand up. Arthur grabbed his arm, "Are you crazy?" He hissed.
Eugene shrugged him off, "It's worth a try!"
Dierdre's hawklike gaze turned to the boy. Eugene avoided it. "Uh-uhm…" He stammered. Her gaze intensified and he shied away instinctively. "One of the kids is sick."
Dierdre rolled her eyes, "All of the kids are sick."
"S-she's really sick."
Dierdre leaned forward, "What is the point of your telling me this?" She snapped, "Trying to make me feel bad?"
"No! I-I… I was just hoping that we could get some medicine for her."
Dierdre glared and waved her switch threateningly, "Would you like to eat, Eugene?"
He swallowed, "Yes ma'am."
She continued, "Would you like to sleep somewhere?"
He nodded again.
"Then don't ask me for something we can't afford!" She exclaimed, her switch dragged painfully across Eugene's face and she turned, slamming the door behind her. Eugene forced back a whimper as he touched the newly forming red mark on his face. It went nicely with the bruise he'd received yesterday.
He sat back down, Arthur took his arm. A concerned look was on his friend's face, "Look, that was heroic and all… but don't do that again."
He nodded, "You don't have to tell me."
"Look- tomorrow we're working for that traveling circus. You can juggle… maybe-maybe we'll make enough that-"
Eugene's head dropped, his eyes squeezed shut, "I don't think so, Arthur."
Over in the corner, Amelia was crying.