Chapter 1: Balancing Act
Title: Balancing Act
Prompt: road trip
Rating & Warnings: PG-13 for one naughty word
Word Count: 499
Summary: The prospect of a road trip makes parents and Eugene alike nervous.
It's a balancing act. Balancing concern with the recognition that she needs to explore and experience the world around her. He struggles with it. Her parents struggle with it. Rapunzel has been constrained by false concern before. Theirs is real, but the result would be the same: keeping Rapunzel locked up. And that's something no one wants.
"I'd like to go."
The King and Queen look at each other and Eugene can see worry etching lines on their faces that time has not.
A letter arrived not so long ago. Full of threats against the Returned Princess. Demanding money. There's always a desperate person looking to profit. Most of them don't even have a good excuse.
He should know.
"Eh, it's not that great." He shrugs, looking totally bored by the prospect. Islands, tropical drinks, beaches: who cares?
It's worth a try, but her face is set with determination, when she retorts, "You said it was fantastic."
"And you chose to listen to me about this?"
The King clears his throat. "Will you agree to take the Captain with you?"
Eugene can't stomach the prospect of his girl on holiday with the Captain, so before she can respond he says with deep resignation, "If the Princess really wants to go, I'll take her. I've been dozens of times."
"You'd do that?" she asks, the pitch of her voice rising with her excitement.
"Sure. I can work on my tan." Of course, he'll be sick to death every time she skitters out of sight over a tall dune or under a wave. Fully aware that seeing to her safety is entirely up to him. And that there are a lot of sick fucks in this world.
Fully aware that he can't stand to lose her. That's what he has in common with the King and Queen.
She probably won't want to carry a frying pan around the beach, unless he can convince her that's how people make sandcastles.
She turns her gaze on her parents for permission. Half a beat goes by and he wonders whether they won't be able to stomach it this time. If they'll need to keep her a little closer to home for their own sake. Then the Queen gives a small, nervous nod.
Of course, he could think of ways to entertain her without her ever having to leave the comfort of the palace, where she's safe. But Rapunzel is stubborn. And it's a balance after all. He's as addicted to her kisses as he is the light that seems to illuminate her face every time she discovers something new. There should be a lot of that when she sees the ocean for the first time.
"Well then, I guess you know what that means," he says, reaching over to scoop her frog from her shoulder before she shakes him loose with jumping.
And there it is: the smile that makes all the worry worth it. The smile Gothel never got to see.
Chapter 2: Balancing Act
Title: A Series of Questions
Rating & Warnings: PG-13 for innuendo
Word Count: 100—bam!
Summary: Rapunzel asks questions of those around her. Eugene has only one question to add.
Title: A Series of Questions
Rating & Warnings: PG-13 for innuendo
Word Count: 100—bam!
Summary: Rapunzel asks questions of those around her. Eugene has only one question to add.
A Series of Questions
"Do you want to go to the Snuggly Duckling with me?"
"Who is that lady?"
"Why can't he keep his hands off her?"
"Can I speak with you, Mother?"
"What does sultry mean exactly?"
"Is the cook terribly busy?"
"Would it be all right if I borrowed this cast iron pot?"
"If I fill it up with water, do you think someone can help me carry it upstairs?"
"Are you sure I haven't taken too much of your firewood?"
"What do you think, Pascal: more steam?"
"Could you run find Eugene?"
"Why the heck is it so hot in here?"
Chapter 3: Gazing Forward
Title: Gazing Forward
Rating & Warnings: T for innuendo
Word Count: 527
Summary: Rapunzel, however, gazes forward transfixed. That’s what’s saved her.
A flash of lightening illuminates the outline of her kneeling on the chair. She’s even smaller than usual all curled up and her bare feet are tucked under her white shift. Her eyes are as wide as saucers as she peers out the window, the rain painting rivulets upon her face in reflection.
He rolls onto his side and pats the bed. “Hey beautiful, come back to bed.”
Her fingers grip the windowsill as she enthuses softly, “I love the rain.”
This is more than rain: this is a storm. A noisy one, and it’s early in the morning and he’d rather be asleep. The only consolation is that he’s within these walls and not outside hunched under some rocky overhang getting soaked to the bone.
He hates the rain. It reminds him of soggy boots and hacking coughs that linger for months. The life of a dashing outlaw isn’t as glamorous as he sometimes makes it out to be when he’s entertaining his wife with stories.
He waits to see if she’ll abandon her post and then rolls onto his back once more, his arms flopping out wide at his side. “You only like the rain because you’ve never been caught out in it.” She’s danced in the rain and splashed in puddles, but she’s never been trapped in it without a choice. There’s a difference, which he knows from personal experience.
He casts a look at her sideways and sees her fingers playing with the iron latch on the window. “Don’t think about opening that.” There’s a chill in the air and he’s worried about more than just losing a night’s sleep if she gets herself wet.
“Don’t be so grumpy, Eugene.”
He’s seen her stick herself out a window before, arms stretched out with palms facing up to catch the rain as it fell. He imagines that’s how she experienced rain before. Before he stumbled upon her in her tower.
The thought makes him slide from the bed and come to watch the rain over her shoulder in silence, his hands resting on the back of her chair. A crack of thunder makes him wince inwardly though he remains outwardly composed, evoking memories like the stab of hunger after a couple of days of going without. Rapunzel, however, gazes forward transfixed.
That’s what’s saved her: her ability to stare things in the face and never look back, to take pleasure in the things that were denied her before without letting bitterness dampen her delight.
He reaches over her and unlatches the window before hefting it open. Raindrops immediately begin to spatter them, but they won’t be lingering here long enough for her to get wet. He scoops her up in his arms, and her hands clutch his shoulders as he pauses to kiss her brow.
“You’ll hear it better now,” he promises, as he strides back to their bed.
And perhaps he can think of things they can do to wile away the hours as the storm batters the palace’s walls and rain pours in through the window. Things which upon later reflection might make him as fond of the rain as she is.
Chapter 4: Tricks
All Hallow's Eve
It was a mistake to ever tell her about All Hallow’s Eve. Blondie has a history of overdoing holidays. To be fair, Blondie has a history of overdoing everything. I’m game, when it’s kissing, but when it’s jumping out from behind corners, vases, and potted trees, I’m less enthusiastic, because I happen to be her favorite target.
“Why don’t you try scaring Maximus?”
“Because it wouldn’t be as much fun.”
“Sure it would. I can’t think of anything more fun. I’ll even help.”
She shakes her head and wrinkles her nose. “No, scaring you is so much better. You make this face,” she explains, opening her eyes wide and flaring her nostrils. “And sometimes you make this little squeaky noise. Like a mouse.”
I cross my arms over my chest. It’s a good look for me, and I need for her to understand just how little her tricks affect me.
“I’ve never made that face in my life and my voice is much too deep and manly to sound like a mouse.”
Blondie has the trick part of trick-or-treating down. Of course, her tricks consist entirely of jumping out at me and screaming, boo. It doesn’t sound particularly scary, but let me tell you, after the fiftieth time, you’d be on edge too.
“Look, you’re obviously very skilled at tricks. You deserve a certificate in tricks. But you’re forgetting the other important part of All Hallow’s, and it seems to me like you should probably spend the rest of the day devoted to what you’ve so painfully neglected thus far.”
She rocks on her heels, narrowing her eyes at me. “Is this a trick?”
“Does this look like a trick?” I ask, pulling a brightly colored hard candy from my pocket, wrapped in delicate paper. I have five more in a rainbow of colors tucked away in case this lone example doesn’t convince her to put aside her tricks.
She tilts her head and bites her lip. “Candy?”
“Yep, candy. This holiday is as much about stuffing yourself with candy as anything else. I’ve got a big box of these in my room.”
She reaches out and walks two fingers over my palm before wrapping them around the candy. It’s unwrapped and popped in her mouth before I can count to three.
Candy puffing out the side of her cheek, she says knowingly, “If I spend the rest of the day eating candy, I’ll have a stomach ache.”
We’ve both overindulged and ended up clutching our stomachs in agony. Fear that it’s all going to be taken away if we don’t grab it quick enough is something of an Achilles heel for the both of us.
“Well, I don’t want the box to go to waste, so I’d be willing to help.”
She sucks the candy, making her lips purse. “Aren’t you watching your figure?”
I roll my eyes. You can’t be too careful about what you say around Blondie. She doesn’t quite see the value in keeping secrets.
I reach into my pocket, pulling out the rest. “There’s chocolate too.”
Her face lights up and she slips her arm through mine, dragging me down the hall towards my room.
Of course she agreed. She melts just like chocolate for me. Every time.
“Yes?” I ask, looking down at her with my most winning smile.
I don’t jump. Don’t ever let her try to convince you I jumped.
Chapter 5: It Isn't Easy
Prompt: Tangled, Rapunzel x Eugene, dating a princess is really difficult
It’s not easy dating a princess. There’s something I never thought I’d say. I’m stupendously handsome, perfectly fit for princely portraits and waving in pageants, but in all my daydreaming about castle life, I never thought to include being the boyfriend to the resident princess. If I had, I’d have thought I’d be living on Easy Street. But I discovered to my constant frustration that the considerable perks—pretty girl, nice folks, great view, mountains of food, and all the spirits you can stomach—are balanced by a distinct lack of privacy.
As it turned out, princesses don’t get much in the way of privacy, particularly princesses that have been abducted and held captive for the first eighteen years of their lives, which meant that as the Lost and Found Princess’ boyfriend, I had to do all my courting out in the open, where guards and courtiers and the King and Queen could see. Everything.
And that was a damn shame, because some of my best moves require more than a little privacy. Which is what led me to the conclusion six months into our stay in the castle that a little creativity on my part was necessary, a little Flynn Rider know-how to locate an unlikely, unexpected, uninhabited place perfect for a stolen moment. Thievery at its best.
“Yes, babe. The buttery.” I had it all scoped out as the perfect spot for our rendezvous.
“Are you very thirsty, Eugene?”
She had no idea.
“I just need you to meet me there. And don’t tell a soul. Not even the frog.” Her little green friend couldn’t talk, but he could stare disapprovingly, so I added for good measure, “Leave him behind too.”
It worked for a while—stolen kisses in a nearly empty buttery—and Blondie was unexpectedly good at keeping our secret, just as she was good at all things French, throwing herself into kissing with the same gusto she reserved for making French fruit crepes. But the thing about the buttery was that while it was secluded and nearly empty, nearly empty isn’t good enough, when you’re dating a princess.
Regrettably, our kisses weren’t the only French things in the buttery, something we discovered when an angry, rotund, red-faced butler burst in on us to find me with Blondie in my lap atop one of the remaining casks, which we belatedly discovered contained the French vintage requested by the King for that night’s ball.
Rapunzel might have been all giggles, as I scrambled to dump her on the ground and gain a few feet from her, but I couldn’t laugh it off, imagining the Captain’s grin, when he finally got to take me out like so much garbage.
Look, I’m quick. Years of lying to save my skin has given me the gift of gab, but I found myself stripped of the ability to speak, when the butler began to swat at me, shouting in a language I didn’t know.
Thankfully, the Princess’ happiness ranks above punishing my lapses in propriety. I’ve still got a room in the castle, my address is still Palace, Corona, but the door to the buttery is locked. So are all the other storerooms.
It doesn’t much matter anymore. See, it’s not easy dating a princess, but to my satisfaction, it’s a hell of a lot better being her husband.
Chapter 6: The Popular Kid and the Nerd
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School only requires two things: practiced detachment and a charming smile for when you sleep past first period.
No one is enthusiastic about high school. Except Rapunzel. Apparently she didn’t get the memo, which I could swear was delivered over the PA on the first day.
She throws herself into every lame school project that the teachers throw at us. Dressed like Christopher Columbus in World Civ on Columbus Day and then gave a speech about the oppression of native peoples that ended with her flopping on the floor like she was dying of smallpox. She willingly entered the talent contest and did a ventriloquist act with a frog puppet. There was that time she stood on a round top in the cafeteria to talk passionately about animal abuse. She sings songs from musicals, while working in the hood during Chemistry. She wears a beret in French class.
She is such a nerd. It’s embarrassing really. I’m genuinely embarrassed for her, when she’s working so hard at everything and I’m perfecting the art of getting by.
But it’s not only a jaunty chapeau she’s enthusiastic about donning every first period. Rapunzel throws herself into kissing in the French style too, and that’s something worth waking up early for.
Chapter 7: Lab Partners
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"If we add this to the solution, it will blow up!"
She looks practically enthused with the prospect, her voice rising, as she waves around the test tube. She’s cute, but clearly deranged.
"Let’s not do that then."
"It could be fun," she says, wiggling her brows above her owlish chemistry goggles.
Everyone else has grabbed the cooler, hard plastic goggles, but Rapunzel has on the old rubber ones with an elastic strap that keep her from having to push the goggles repeatedly up her nose. Form over function, she said with a shimmy.
"You know what would be fun? Getting me that A we discussed."
"Grades aren’t everything, Eugene."
"Finn. I told you to call me Finn."
She frowns, clicking the striker with an intensity that makes Eugene’s attention fix on the test tube that apparently could blow them up. “I know you did, but your underwear says Eugene.”
Chapter 8: Waterfall
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“So,” Rapunzel says, dragging out the ‘o’ until it sounds like her opening wheedle needs at least ten neatly marching vowels scrawled across the page for accuracy’s sake.
“Yes?” Eugene prompts, as she leans over him, her pointy little chin pressing into his shoulder, attempting to read the book he closes with a heavy thump to spare her its contents.
Rapunzel has no appreciation for the horror genre, but her natural curiosity draws her to whatever is placed before her for better or worse. One peek at this story and she would leave her troubled by nightmares for at least a couple of nights. Not that Eugene minds her midnight visitations, but the threat of being discovered by the guards places a considerable damper on his enjoyment of her nightgown clad cuddles. The guards and the frog, who is always climbing down his face when he gets too friendly with the princess. Amphibians are excellent chaperons as it turns out.
“Mother is showing Pascal the rose garden, so he can practice his colors. They’re all in bloom. Great big, colorful roses.”
He hums, crossing his arms over his chest. “Sounds pretty.”
“Oh, it is.”
“You want me to come to the rose garden with you?”
“No. I just thought you’d want to know they’ll be busy all afternoon,” she says, flipping around, placing them back to back.
Eugene reaches up to stroke his chin. Why would he need to know her pet’s plans for the day? The queen is pretty great, but he was fine not knowing what she was up to today too. The book he was reading was a good story. Engrossing. One of the best he’s found in the royal library. Reading it was a perfectly good way to spend the day.
Arching her back, she dangles her head over his shoulder, putting them eye to eye, though her face is upside down and turning pink as a result.
“And Father is reviewing the guard.”
“A lengthy process,” Eugene supplies, guessing at this point that there is something afoot. There usually is, when it comes to Blondie, which is why he knew reading time was up, once she traipsed through the door.
“So,” she repeats with an upside down smile and a wicked twinkle in those big eyes. “I found this waterfall.”
Natural curiosity–one of his favorite things about his girl, once there are no frogs or guards to get in the way of exploring it properly, Eugene thinks, as he scrambles to his feet and upsets their delicate entanglement in what is undoubtedly one of his less fluid and more awkwardly eager moments. Used to be he was only eager to walk into a free meal or an easy mark.
“Is that something you’d like to see, Eugene?” she asks, spinning on the ball of her foot and setting her lavender skirts swirling.
“Absolutely, Blondie. Lead the way.”
Chapter 9: Pomegranates
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It’s the ale. It’s the copious amounts of ale on day four of her Found Princess celebration, when they have half a second to themselves, that makes him tell her, “I like you.”
Even though he is not the guy to lay it all out there like that–playing a little hard to get usually works wonders–he did die for her, so with the ale and her leaning into his side, babbling about the cook she met that afternoon, it just kind of flies out. He wouldn’t even regret it if she didn’t coo back to him in rapt aw, “I like pomegranates!”
“Pomegranates,” he says, setting his ale mug down in the grass next to him. Was that what the cook gave her? He’s lost track of where this conversation was headed, watching her bare feet point in the grass.
“Yes!” she enthuses. “Three… no, two days ago, I didn’t even know aboutpomegranates, and now I really, really like them.” She flops back in the grass, one arm spread out wide, the other still clutched in his. “What other things do you think I like that I don’t know about? I mean, there’s a whole world out there Eugene.”
She’s right: there is a whole world for her to discover, and not just new foods and books and courtly dances he has no familiarity with. There are new people to meet. Yes, there’s the palace cook with the pomegranates and the maid who showed her how to work a coronet braid into her new short hair, but there are also all the people who will travel from far off kingdoms to visit the Princess of Corona. People of a very different caliber than the thief who brought her home.
They’re bound to like her too.
Suddenly his head isn’t feeling as pleasantly buzzy as it was a moment ago.
“You look like you swallowed a bug,” she says, pushing back up out of the grass.
“Well, your little frog seems to like them, so I thought I’d give it a try,” he says, fumbling for the mug and knocking it over. What’s left, no more than dregs, spills on the ground, turning the soil a dark brown in a spreading little circle.
“I’ll get you some more,” she offers, already pulling her legs beneath her skirts to stand.
“No, no. Stay here. We haven’t been alone all week.”
She smiles. That bright, wide smile that hurts him square in the middle of the chest. It’s a good ache, and for now, it’s just for him.
Chapter 10: Chocolates
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She’s the princess. Rapunzel can have anything she asks for. In fact, Eugene suspects that if she asked for the stars in the sky, the king would build one big ladder to make it happen.
But sometimes it’s more fun to steal. Nothing anyone will really miss of course. A cupcake or two. Seeds for the flowers she wanted to plant in the maze garden. One of those big books with the gilt binding they keep on the high shelves in the archive. He lifts the stuff Eugene knows she’ll enjoy, indulging his inner orphan by taking without asking, rather than say, going for the crown jewels. His skill set is somewhat limited, so nabbing her a handful of chocolates the pastry chef made for the ball tonight is a way to show off for her as much as it is a way to make her happy.
An essential part of showing off involves her actually being present to see what a smooth operator he is, and Rapunzel’s boundless enthusiasm does not make for the best cat burglar. There are always a lot of loudly whispered questions. Can I be the one to jimmy the lock? Should we walk on our tiptoes? You don’t mind if Pascal sits on your head, do you?
He doesn’t mind. Granted, a person has to act a little put out, when her frog uses you as a tree–to save face–but he’s grown accustomed to their colorful chaperone. The pastry chef, however, must be more immune to Pascal’s hidden charms: when Eugene dangled over the counter, hand outstretched ready to snatch up the glossy chocolates, and Pascal tumbled head over tail off Eugene onto the marble board, the pastry chef lost his mind.
There was a lot of screaming. Really high pitched screaming. And swatting.
Eugene barely got out of there with Pascal stuffed in a pocket, but somehow, the princess, who never picked a pocket in her life, still managed to grab at least a couple chocolates. It’s too dark smashed together in this wardrobe to tell exactly how many she scooped up, but she pressed one into his hand and he can hear her eating another. He’s willing to bet she’s got more in reserve. In another life, they could have made a very different kind of twosome.
“Do you think they knew it was us?”
Her stage whisper is even louder here in the walnut wardrobe. If there are guards looking for the culprits, she’ll give them in a way in a second.
“Yes, they definitely knew it was us.” Eugene might have screamed too. They didn’t exactly make a silent exit. “That was not our finest heist, I’m afraid.”
“It’s our tastiest though,” she mumbles.
Rapunzel isn’t wrong on that count.
Eugene rolls the chocolate to the other side of his mouth, letting it melt slowly. He likes to luxuriate in things as much as Rapunzel likes to devour them as fast as she can, as if she slows down, it might all disappear. He hears her pop another chocolate.
They don’t really need to hide. Just as they could have asked for some chocolates and avoided the whole fiasco of knocking half a dozen copper pots off their hooks, as they ran from the palace kitchens, they could also sit as bold as day in the corridor, enjoying their spoils. No one is going to shake a finger at Rapunzel. They all love her and spoil her as much as the king and queen do. Luckily, he’s protected by association, and he tries–he really does–not to tread too much on that goodwill.
But the stealing is fun and so is the hiding. Particularly with her pressed into his side. Her excited to the point of nervous pants make him smile forward into the dark, as he slips an arm around her. Goodwill or no, there are other things he could steal in the dark, which will taste just as good.
Except this time, he’ll ask first.