AN: Another one! Yay! Currently, I'm trying to clean off my computer hard drive, and since fanfictions are the main things on it, there should be a lot more coming after this. I hope you all like it! :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Tangled. Disney does.
When he was young, still an orphan that went by the name of Eugene Fitzherbert, Flynn's dreams for the future had been surprisingly simple.
It had been discovered pretty early that he was good with his hands, a lesson or two and a couple of hours of practice enough for him to turn a block of wood into a passable dog, or a pile of yarn into a strong, if lumpy, rope. At the time, these skills hadn't seemed like a big deal. They were fun and kept him entertained for a while, but overall they had no importance in his immediate future, like when dinner would be served or if they had enough material in the closet to fix his socks. However, the woman in charge of the orphanage, often just called Matron by the children, realized just what Flynn's budding talents ment for his future.
For almost twenty years she had been in charge of the orphanage, doing her best to insure that each child received the love and care they needed to live good lives. When the King made it a royal declaration that all children, until the age of fourteen, which was when most of them started their apprenticeships, had to attend schooling by a licensed educator, she herself had studied and passed the rigorous exams that qualified her to teach those kids, and had bullied and threatened the rest of the orphan workers to receive their qualifications too. She worked with each child as much as she could, teaching them right up until they left the orphanage for the home of their new master, the person who would teach them their lives' craft. But despite her hard work, many of her children had failed at integrating into society, eventually becoming thugs and thieves until they ended up in jail or up on the gallows. But she was still determined, and that determination drove her to ensure that the then Eugene Fitzherbert would not follow in their footsteps. It was also that determination that shaped Eugene's first few dreams of the future.
By the time Eugene had turned seven, the Matron had set up a series of temporary apprenticeships for him. For six months, every afternoon after his lessons, one of the women that ran the orphanage accompanied him to the work place of his 'master,' where he learned the secrets of his current trade.
It was quickly found that, at each craft, he excelled. Besides his naturally talented hands, Eugene had also been graced with charisma and charm, two qualities that made him exceptionally easy to like, despite his social awkwardness and inability to articulate at the time. It was because of those qualities that he was quickly adopted by some of the older apprentices at each of the work place he was sent to, like the blacksmiths' apprentice Tom, or the apprentice carpenter Charlie. Each older boy showed him the ropes of his new place of employment, fed him some tricks to make life easier, and by the time his term of employment was over he had learned in six months what had taken some of the boys years to grasp.
And soon, after he had been working at his job for a while, it became one of his new dreams. Before his time in the different trades, it had seemed that his dismal path was laid out for him. He would grow up in the orphanage, be refused almost any place of employment due to his lack of experience and coin to pay the needed apprentice fees, would become a petty thief, and die some horrible death that often awaited orphans, despite everything the King and Queen or the orphanage did to prevent that. It didn't matter how many Royal Decrees were made to prevent it or how hard the women at the orphanage worked to secure jobs and good marriages for them, people wanted workers and in-laws that had good standing in the community, which orphans didn't.
It had been a surprise, then, that the Matron had been able to set so many temporary apprenticeships for him, even with the large amount of influence she had in the town. It surprised him even more when, at the end of each six months, the master that he had worked under assured him that, once he turned fourteen, should he still possess the skills that he had shown while working there, he would have a place to come to and be welcomed.
But what had surprised him the most was just how quickly his future changed.
After spending so much time with the older boys, Eugene quickly became aware of just what an apprenticeship would mean for him. Once he turned fourteen, he would leave the relative safety of the orphanage for the loft above his employers' shop, sharing the space with the others that had been taken on for that particular craft. They would wake up early, be fed three square meals a day, and be expected to work more then hard enough to pay off their room and board. Under the watchful eyes of their master and the oldest apprentices, they would all learn the craft, working for seven years to master their trade for themselves. After which, if the master decided that they had the skills needed to do justice to the trade, they would be released from their apprenticeship, free to travel to a new town to set up their own shops or to continue working for the master as his equal.
Either way, it was a set lifestyle. Calm, quiet, with endless possibilities to make a name for himself. Of course, once he had established himself, he would be free to search for a wife, have a few children of his own, and live a long life with his kin before hopefully dying at a ripe old age. And the best part was that he could choose everything for himself, instead of having it forced on him.
For six years, this was his dream, to have a nice secure life, a life free of poverty and full of promise. For six years, he believed that that was what he wanted.
Until his apprenticeship as a bookbinder.
Books were a conundrum that had often confused him. Of course, he could read and everything, so it wasn't that aspect of the books that he had a problem with. It was the books themselves. Everything fell under two different categories, the only two that he had really: completely useless and beyond priceless. During all of his apprenticeships, Eugene had used those two categories to define whatever it was that he had been working on. When he had been working as a blacksmith, nails and horseshoes and swords had been beyond priceless and had to be handled with care, while the scrap metal left over from making those objects had been completely useless and had been treated as such. It had been the same when he had been a carpenter, a rope maker, a farmer, a fisher, a baker, and everything else under the sun that he had been trained to become. Finished projects were priceless, while the scraps were useless.
Books, however, turned out to be different.
The moment he walked into the shop his newest master had set up on the outskirts of town, close to the forest where he gathered the supplies he needed to 'heal the hurts of knowledge,' as the old man would often say, he had been greeted with a spine to the nose and the orders to burn the book until not a single scrap of paper remained. He had quickly run to fulfill the orders, having seen boys that were too lazy or slow get whipped, an experience he had no desire to personally obtain. But by the time he had reached the firepit, its flames merrily crackling as it awaited its newest meal, his initial instinct to obey orders had died down, instead replaced with confusion as he studied the cover of the book before him.
A deep red, he could just barely make out where someone had started tracing the title on the front, though the ink was so smudge it looked as if the person who had been writing it hadn't had the steadiest of hands.
Three or four generations ago, one of the royals had decided to release the royal library to the public, hoping to spread the wealth of knowledge that had been gathered over the years. Hiring scribes by the wagon full, under his rule every book had been copied a hundred times over, the transcribers spending everyday of their employment in a brightly lit room, surrounded by towering stacks of paper and wells of ink as they copied each word exactly. What had once been rare had quickly become common, and the people had benefited from his ruling. After the old king's death, the queen that had taken over for him had seen no reason to reverse his decree, and so over the generation the number of books had swelled, so that even the poor orphanage Eugene had grown up in had a sizable collection. And with such collections, as with every group of objects that were used on a daily basis, it needed someone to take care of it.
However, even though books had become common throughout the kingdom, the idea of destroying one, of allowing its stories and lessons to be lost forever in a pit of flames, disturbed young Eugene. Never before had one of his masters asked him to destroy something so precious as a finished book, no matter the flaws it might contain. For them, it had been clear as day: all things that were completely useless still had the potential to be something beyond priceless. During each and every one of his apprenticeships, nothing had been allowed to go to waste, with hours spent cleaning each of the workshops he had almost lived in, sweeping up wood shavings and collecting metal scraps that had fallen to the floor and left behind. It was these, stuck in their worthlessness, that had proven to him that anything could change its spots. The wood shavings had been sold to the local stables to be used as bedding for the horses, and the extra money that the master had pocketed had been what had allowed him to take on Eugene has a helper. The extra metal shavings had been melted down and reformed as a horseshoe, which he himself had been able to help fit upon a young colt named Maximus.
It was because anything could become useful that an orphan was given the chance to become anything his heart desired.
But within the first few moments after he had entered the book shop, everything he had ever learned had been twisted upon its head. Instead of just cleaning off the cover and the book and trying again, the master wanted it destroyed, gone from his sight and mind faster than he cared to wonder at. If a paper didn't quite fit, it was used as kindling instead of the time and effort being put into it to recut it, and no one even blinked when a well of ink toppled to the floor, sending a wave of black to stain the wood and the soles of their shoes. To Eugene, it seemed as if the life of a bookbinder was a life of waste.
The Sun forgive him, but no matter how long he stood there, he couldn't do it. Instead of destroying the book as he had been ordered, the orphan boy Eugene kept it for himself.
As things would turn out, it was to become the best mistake he ever made, for not only did the beautiful book become his greatest treasure, The Tales of Flynn Rider also became his life guide.
For a long while, as his time under the watch of the Book Binder slowly turned into that of a Silversmith, Eugene was able to wave away the thoughts and ideas that had come to him as fancies, nothing more than wishful dreams that had caught his mind's eye by the light of the candle glistening off the words in his book, the only one he could truly say interested him. For months he had been studying it, embarking on adventure after adventure with the dashing thief and gentleman that had become his hero. A man of means, Flynn Rider was nothing like Eugene, nor was he anyone he could aspire to hope to be. He was a fictional character, nothing more and a lot less, and even if he had wished it upon the Sun, the Moon, and their children the Stars, nothing about that would ever change.
But even as he thought this, even as he muttered it under his breath in the middle of the night while he was reading and all his roommates were sound asleep, still he wondered.
Why was it that those who prayed upon the poor and ill were the ones to profit from a wealth that was not theirs? Wouldn't that money be better off in the hands of those who could use it, instead of being hoarded and piled beyond reach? If those who were rich had so many more problems than those who were poor, wouldn't it be a kindness to relieve them of both their purses and their worries?
He knew it would have broken the Matron's heart to know, but the more he though about it, the more the stories between the wooden covers of his book just continued to make sense. But could he ever act upon it?
It wasn't until Fate herself intervene that he found his answer.
It had been a joke, really, born from curiosity as time went on and his skills grew greater, his mind traveling from the thoughts of a young boy into those of an almost man. Soon enough he would be old enough to choose for himself the path he was to take, the apprenticeship that was to be his and that would become his source of fame and fortune. With this in mind, knowing that he was to soon become an honorable business man, why not give it a try?
It was nothing more then a pendant, a bauble that had taken only a few hours to make and perfect, that had been his chosen item to test his hand upon. He hadn't intended to keep it, only to take it at the beginning of his work day and return it just before closing, so that, in the end, it never even left the shop. Unfinished as it was, it was worth next to nothing, and nothing was it going to gain him. To young Eugene, it was the perfect plan to quiet the thoughts that still whispered of adventure and ill-gained riches from his youth, to show that a calm life of quiet of work was the path for him to take.
Never did he expect that one of the other young men, one of the few who had taken him at name value and who had decided to hate him for the circumstances of his birth, would be watching. Never did he believe that, within the hour, guards would be following him hard on his heels, unwilling to listen to rhyme or reason, focused only on the fact that silver was in his pockets when it wasn't suppose to be.
Huddled just outside of town, the pendant he had grabbed already broken within his hands, shivering as cries for his capture, dead or alive, for no one cared about a little urchin like him, resounded in the early afternoon air, it was with a startling realization that, behind the panting and the twisted face as the cramps in his legs started to ease off, he was actually smiling. Perhaps, just perhaps, he could make the famous Flynn Rider something more then a storybook character after all, for really, the quiet life and a hard earned reputation truly didn't suit him. One he had stolen would fit much, much better.
With that, it had seemed, at the time, that his future was finally set. He would steal a couple millions worth of jewels, buy a island somewhere, and live out the last of his days a free man, tucked away in his own little corner of paradise. It was a good dream, he decided later that year, one warm summer's evening, watching as the lanterns that were set off each year to honor the lost princess slowly rose above the clouds. It was one a man could proudly chase, for in the long run no one was getting hurt. The people he would steal from would barely notice that anything was missing, and the person he was helping, himself, would be too grateful to turn him in. Plus, considering the benefits that came with the job, like traveling and all the beautiful women he could find, becoming the greatest thief in history seemed like a pretty good idea. It might not have been the life the Matron would have wanted for him, but it would become his none the less.
For some people, the future might be open and fluid, changing their final destination with every little choice they made. But for Eugene, the future was set in stone.
Little did the newly christened Flynn know that his future would change one more time, a change that would begin with the echoing clang of a frying pan against the back of his skull.