AN: This is something that I've actually been working on for a while, so if you see a change in writing style, that's why. This is kind of an experiment I've been playing with, especially since I've been thinking about Fate a lot lately. Since Fate is actually mentioned within the healing song, I just had to do something where Fate showed her true colors. With that being said, these are four possible futures that are awaiting Rapunzel and Eugene. All are technically equally likely, but you choose the one you want to be head-cannon. Also, this is my ninety-second fanfiction! I only have eight more to go, and I've reached one-hundred! I'm so excited. I hope you like this! :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Tangled. Disney does.
Slowly leading the horse through the woods, clutching the small bundle in his arms close to his chest, Eugene could feel the sorrow crushing against him, his heart threatening to break under its newest burden that had developed in just the last two weeks.
Two weeks. Two weeks ago, he had been married to the most beautiful and wonderful woman in the world, the two of them expecting their first born child to arrive at any moment. Two weeks ago, he had been a simple Prince Consort, temporarily filling in for the Queen while she was sick, an illness that, while it had been bad, he had fully expected her to make a timely recovery from. Two weeks ago, his life had been almost perfect.
Two weeks later, he was still trying to gather the shattered pieces and figure out if the remains were worth fighting for.
Pulling the horse to a stop, Eugene slowly slid to the ground, careful not to jolt his precious cargo as he did so. Turning around, he quickly spotted the landmark he needed, a small statue someone had long ago carved into a sun, its weather-pitted surface slightly sparkling in the light of the full moon. Making his way over to it, he swore under his breath as he caught sight of another one placed a few paces to his left, with a third tucked gently against the roots of an old pine tree. All around him were the statues, and he was going to have to check every single one of them.
Many generations ago, one of the royal family members had asked that, instead of her body being burned as was tradition, she was buried in a clearing in the woods, someplace where the sun was bright and the world was at peace with itself. A witch that the elderly noble had become friends with in her youth had decided to grant this request and, after finding a suitable spot in the forest, had placed all sorts of enchantments around it, protecting it from human vandals and the elements alike. While this was a wonderful thing, it made finding the new traditional burial site just that much harder to navigate.
Letting out a grunt as he finally stumbled upon the entrance, Eugene carefully made his way down the overgrown path, gently pushing away the plants that hindered his progress, much of his torso wrapped protectively around his parcel. With each step he took, the darkness slowly receded, the sky above him skipping the last few hours of night as the sun forced itself into the world to shine brightly upon the little clearing he was headed for.
Brushing away the last of the tree branches, Eugene was almost struck with the beauty of the sprawling glade, the magic the witch had put upon it so long ago enhancing its natural spring into a heaven in Corona, the perfect place to bury the most important people in the land. As he gazed around, taking in the enchanting wonder before him, a soft wind gently caressed his face, bringing with it the smell of wildflowers and fruit trees, the heady scent almost enough to overwhelm the senses. A moment later it also helped to snap him out of his daze, returning him to the present.
Magic could be dangerous if left unchecked, and the magic here had been running wild for centuries.
Shaking his head to remove the last of the mist that had settled over his mind, Eugene swiftly began picking his way towards the back of the graveyard, careful not to step on any of the plants that the royals had been using as grave markers instead of tombstones for the past hundred generations. Everywhere he looked, he could see the names that had lived within his history books spelled out before him, the leaves and bark twisting to become the letters of the long loved and never forgotten monarchs. There seemed to be no order to the chaos, for relatives that had only died a few years beforehand could be found planted next to distant relatives, yet at the same time, the patterns and plots that had come into being made sense, for in the end, one just had to look for the beauty in the clearing to find its meaning.
Here, enemies were friends, friends were lovers, and lovers were closer than they ever could have been in life, for the magic knew them well.
Following this logic, it didn't take him long to find the place he had been looking for, a small indent within the ground that was just out of the reach of an old oak tree, it's branches spreading out to cover the floor below. Falling to his knees, his head bowed to expose the back of his next to the sun, it was with the softest of smiles that Eugene looked once again on the remains of his beloved wife.
For a long time, Eugene said nothing as he stared at the small patch of flowers before him, their emerald and gold petals shimmering slightly in the penetrating sun as they covered the patch of ground that, in his mind, should have still been bare, the very earth grieving for his lose. But for all he knew, it could have been years since he had last visited the glade, the magic that permeated every section of the clearing warping the world to its design. Just two weeks later for him, the last physical remains of his wife could have already been long gone, destroyed by the same passage of time that would eventually take him too.
Pushing aside the hopefully depressing thoughts, Eugene softly cleared his throat, though in the complete silence of the clearing the noise sounded like a canon, startling him as it echoed off the very air that surrounded them. Dropping his voice to an almost whisper, he gently began unwrapping the small bundle he had brought with him, a sorrowful longing appearing in his eyes as layer after layer fell away to reveal the creature that laid within. Freeing her completely from the confines of her blankets, he turned the child so its large green eyes were fixed upon the flowers before her, his voice thick as he finally made the introduction that was long overdue.
"Rapunzel, meet our daughter. Sweetie, this here is your mother."
"Your parents weren't too thrilled when I told them the name you picked out, but they understood it," Eugene spoke on, his voice slightly hoarse as he slowly rocked his daughter to sleep. Although it only felt like a few hours that he had been talking to the flowers that Rapunzel had become, for all he knew, days could have passed outside the natural and magical walls that trapped him. "At least, they understand it a lot better than I do. But you know, you could have chosen any name in the world, and I still would have agreed to name her it. It's the fact that you chose the name Blondie, rather than the name itself, that makes me love it. But, you know, it seems a bit unfair that she'll only hear about her namesake from me instead of from you. You should be the one to tell her the story, not me. Knowing myself, I'll get tons of things wrong, and leave our daughter with the wrong impression. And...and to be honest Rapunzel, I don't know if I can do this without you." Shifting his weight so that he was balanced on his heels, it was with a sniff that Eugene fell silent, his mindless ramblings ending as the tears welled within his eyes and closed his throat. Swallowing thickly, it was with the softest of chuckles that he placed his daughter amongst the flowers, careful to avoid destroying them, so that, for the first time ever, his wife could hold their little baby girl.
"She looks just like you, you know," he continued after a while, his eyes fixed upon his daughter as her own wide, curious ones examined the sudden blanket of green that had enveloped her. "Though it seems like her hair is going to curl more like mine, she still has your face and everything." Letting his voice once more lapse into silence, it was with a sigh that he expressed the true feelings that he had come to admit to her.
"I miss you Rapunzel, I really do. And I wish I could stay forever, like your parents said I could if I wanted to. The grove would accept me, our daughter would be well taken care of by her grandparents, and after a few years of solitude and peace, I could join you. And I want to, Blondie, I really, really do. But I can't." Letting out a shuttering breath, it was with a sigh that he once again picked up his daughter and rewrapped her in her blanket, pulling her away from the twisting petals that would have claimed her themselves if they could. "Because she needs me more than you do."
Pushing himself to his feet, it didn't take long for him to find his way back to his horse, though the dark coldness told that he had spent much longer than a few hours within the clearing. Days, perhaps even a full week had passed, and he hadn't even noticed it. Shuddering at the thought of just how tempting the magic was, for even now it called and pleaded for his return, it was with one last look at the entrance to the graveyard that Eugene heaved himself single handedly onto his steed, making one last mental promise as he did so to never come back until it was his time before turning back towards the castle. His heart was still broken, would always be cracked and fractured, but as he started the return trip to the palace, he was hopeful that the small pink bundle he held against his heart would help to close the worse of the wounds.
"Come on Gothel. Let's go home."
In his forty-two years of being one of the personal servants to the royal family of Corona, Greg had seen many things.
As a young man, he had been the one to inform the King, then the young Crown Prince, that his father has passed in the night and that he, just a boy at the time, was now the ruler of a kingdom that he didn't love. He had been the one to plan the coronation, and he had been the one to carry the crown, before the entire population of Corona, to be placed upon the sixteen-year-olds' head. He had been the one to announce the new reign to the citizens, and had watched a golden age of peace and prosperity be born in the eyes of the child that led them.
He had been there, a few years later, to mourn the death of the King's first beloved at the hands of the plague, and had been there to rejoice when, not too long after, the young man found another, truer love, one who would eventually become his wife and Queen. He had been the third person to discover that the Queen was carrying a child, and it had been he who has stumbled upon the legend of the Sun's tear when she fell ill. In triumphant victory, he had been the one to present the plant to the King after it had finally been found, and he had been the one to deliver the brew that had finally banished the lingering darkness from their home.
He had been the one to record the events of the princess's birth, and he had been the one to inscribe her every physical feature, from her golden curling locks to a small turnip shaped birthmark on the bottom of her heel, so that her likeness could be added to the mural the artisans had begun to create in the town center. It had been he who had organized the week long search for the child when she had been stolen from the castle, and when that had failed, he had been the one to prepare the lantern that the King and Queen had sent up every year, all the while adding his own whispered prayers that she would one day find her way home.
Finally, when a mysterious young waif had appeared on the castle doorsteps the day after the princess's eighteenth birthday, accompanied by the dreaded thief Flynn Rider, he had been the one to show them to the balcony where they were to wait for their Majesty's' arrival. And it had been he, after a quick glance at the bottom of her foot as she leaned again the railing to gaze at the city below, to whisper the first quite 'Welcome back' to their long lost princess.
Yes, Greg had seen many things during his time as a personal assistant to the royal family of Corona. But never had he seen something like this. Never had he seen a man so destroyed by the hands of Fate.
Gently knocking upon the wooden door, Greg sighed as silence answered him, the same silence that he had been greeted with for the past two weeks. Shifting the platter of bowls and plates so that it was resting against his hip, it was with another knock that he pushed open the door that stood unlocked before him, its metal hinges squealing with the effort it took to move the heavy oak. Wincing as the smell of personal neglect burned against the inside of his nostrils, it was with a forced cheery smile that he entered the room, his steps as jolly as he could make them as he picked his way through the trash that littered the floor. Reaching the table, the only piece of furniture that remained untouched by the anger of the room's inhabitant, it was with a flourish that he placed the platter down, uncovering the many delicious dishes that had been prepared especially for him in an attempt to get him to eat. Turning to the mattress that had long since been pulled off the bed and flung into a corner, Greg bowed to the man that sat before him, though if he hadn't known better, he never would have guessed that the creature was of the royal family.
"Dinner is served sire," he said politely, gesturing towards the food he had brought with him. "The cook has made your favorite, those pork buns that you are so fond of, along with an assortment of other delicacies. May I plate some?" However, even as he spoke the words, Greg knew they would be useless. Just like every time before, the same command would be given, the same one that had been told to all of the servants since the day that everything had changed.
"Leave me." The voice that spoke was harsh and tired, the words of a man long since defeated by forces far out of his control. Hoping against hope that, perhaps, he could do something to heal the pain that swirled throughout the room, it was with the slightest shakes of his head that Greg refused.
"Forgive me sire, but you really must eat. The Princess wouldn't have wan-"
"Wanted what," the voice hissed, laced with anger that was far more frightening then the dullness that had been present before. "Neither of us knows what Rapunzel would have wanted, because she's no longer here to tell us. Now get out." His voice dropped with the last words he spoke, sending chills down Greg's spine even as he refused once again to leave.
"We both know that she wouldn't have wanted this," Greg protested, carefully watching as the shadowy form before him moved, agitation clear within its every shudder. "We both know that the Princess would have wanted you to be happy, and if I may, sire, we both know she wouldn't have wanted you to be like this, spending all of your time mourning her and a child that never lived to draw its first breath. Princess Rapunzel loved you, and to stay like this is a disgrace to her memory." His emotions getting the better of him, it was with a raised head that he called out the liege lord he was bound, his tongue sharp as insult after insult fell from his lips. "Eugene," he practically yelled, his eyes flashing as he spoke with all formality lost, "these events have shown you to be nothing more than a coward, and a coward I will not serve. I formally resign." With that having been said, Greg turned on his heels and left, his anger quickly dying away to a deep seated sorrow.
They both knew he would never leave, and when he returned, Greg knew that some of the food would be eaten, his words having been enough to awaken the Prince long enough to keep himself alive for a few more days. However, he also knew that the change would not last long, and that, soon, the same darkness would fall over him once again. For although the loss of the princess and her first born child had been a tragedy to the entire kingdom, to the man who had loved them both, it had been an end of everything.
For Prince Eugene, the death of his beloved wife and their long awaited for child had been the breaking point. Now, no matter what any of them did, the life that had been such a joy to serve was gone, and was never coming back.
In the end, it was her incessant crying that broke his heart the most.
Even two weeks after the funeral, the body buried and beyond gone, it was still hard for her to move from their bed, her eyes either overflowing with tears or just fixed upon the far wall, examining the blank space as if it held the answers of her pain. Although the maids that had been attending her had told him that the best thing for him to do was to just wait for her to come out of it, for this kind of illness was apparently common amongst women who had suffered as she had, still, he was worried.
He was sure that, if she didn't stop crying soon, she would follow the path their stillborn child had taken and find herself in an early grave.
"Eugene, what did I do wrong?"
His eyes blinking owlishly as his wife spoke for the first times in days, it was with a slight start that Eugene hurried over to her bedside, his hands reaching out to clasp one of her own. Careful to not hurt her, it was with a soft sigh that he pressed the back of his free hand to her head, relief flooding through him to find that the skin was no longer burning from its own internal fires. Leaning back, just glad that she was finally awake after so much time spent in her dream world, it was with a twist of his head that he silently convened his confusion.
"Eugene, what did I do wrong," she repeated, the insistence within her voice clearer as she spoke up, a slightest of glimmers in her eyes that spoke of both determination and the pain that still persisted. "You have to tell me, so that I can do better next time, so that I don't make the same mistakes that I did with this one. Please, tell me, what did I do wrong?"
"Rapunzel," Eugene said softly, his hand reaching out to cup her cheek, "sweetheart, I have no clue what you are talking abo-"
"Eugene," Rapunzel said sharply, cutting him off even as her own voice became thick and her eyes began to water, "what did I do so wrong that I lost the baby?"
For a long while Eugene was silent, his mind twisting in upon itself as he tried to find an answer that would satisfy her even as he tried to avoid thinking about the small tombstone they had just finished erecting that morning. He knew that, were he able to give her an answer, were he able to tell her something that she could change, it would help to ease the pain his beloved was feeling, for much of it stemmed from confusion over the reason she was left without a child. Although it would probably be better for the both of them if he called in a nurse to check her, for this was the first time Rapunzel had been fully aware of the world in days, the fever that had persisted after the fatal birth having sapped her of her strength, mentally, she needed him to speak.
"Rapunzel, you did nothing wrong," Eugene said loudly and clearly, making sure that his words pierced through the veil of grief that he could see was still clouding her mind. "You did everything that you were supposed to, but, sometimes, these things just happen. It was nobody's fault, just life."
"But, maybe I could have done somethi-"
"No, Rapunzel, you couldn't have," Eugene cut in with a heavy sigh, his heart breaking even more at the look on her face. She had been so excited at the prospect of being a mother, of them being a family, that the sudden harshness of reality had crushed her. Lying before him, staring at him with red-rimmed green eyes that shows just how shattered she was, was not the woman he had fallen in love with, but a shell that he was just hoping he could fix.
Bowing his head as the tears began to flow once more, though this time she allowed him to take her into his arms and hold her, it was with gritted teeth that he once again fought back his own sorrows, biting his tongue until the wetness in his eyes had dried. It was his son too that they had had to bury, but out of the two of them, it was he that needed to be strong, to pull together the broken pieces that was their Princess.
Eugene just hoped that he had enough strength to do so.
All across Corona, the people were celebrating.
For months the entire kingdom had been holding its breath, waiting and watching every second that passed for tragedy or future sorrows. Voices had remained almost perpetually softened, as if too loud of a noise would bring their fragile peace crashing down upon them. Children had solemnly traveled between their homes and schools with nary a sound, and the work that had continued had been down with the quietest of crashes and bangs. Horses and dogs had been muzzled, cats had been shushed, and infants had been tended to with the greatest of hastes, all so that the air could be still.
No one dared to do anything that might disturb the Princess' rest, lest some harm befall her or her unborn child.
For months this behavior had continued, each citizen more than well aware of their future leader's state and the care that had to be taken with her. The pregnancy had been hard, especially with the series of colds and flus that had taken hold of her over their short winter, but finally, finally, they could all breathe sighs of relief. For, just that very morning, to everyone's surprise, two identical princes had been born, healthy, brunette, and alive.
Everywhere that time could be spared, people were standing to discuss the miracle, overjoyed that the line of succession had finally been established and confirmed. Praises were given to the Sun that the mother's magic seemed to have not been passed onto the children, and hope was expressed that the father's past would have no impact on their future. Already, festival plans were being prepared for the next year, in celebration of the prince's birthday, and everywhere one looked, merchants were selling wares that commemorated the event. Musicians crowded the streets as they played their uplifted songs, and painters of every talent were collecting the finest of their tools, hoping with all their might that they would be the one summoned to capture the heirs' faces on canvas.
With the most immediate threat to their future Queen gone, life could finally return to a much happier normal.
However, high within a tower in the castle, there was one place where no light or noise broke through the barrier of heavy curtains. No laughter could be heard coming from this room, nor did anyone expect the sounds of celebration to appear anytime soon. Whenever a maid or a knight was forced to go by the room, for they all avoided it as much as they could, it was with the slightest of steps and held breaths that they hurried past, trying to make the least amount of noise that they could. Everyone was more than aware of what awaited them if the inhabitants of the room were disturbed, and no one wanted to face the wrath that would be brought down upon them if such a thing happened.
So, oblivious to the joy that the birth of their children had brought and the fear their servants had of awakening them, after a long night awake, Rapunzel and Eugene, with their sons lying in their cribs nearby, slept.