Here's a condensed version of the 1x1 long-term Tangled roleplay I did (Eugene) with zomggbecky/Becky (Rapunzel), minus the ooc's:
Rapunzel's life had really turned around. She had thought she had it good with her.. Captor as she was being called now, but here.. With her real mother and father, being a Princess, being addressed as 'Your Royal Highness', it was exhilarating. Thankfully, she had Eugene to keep her grounded. Whenever she would gloat too much about a new gift sent by a duke or knight, her beloved would remind her what really was important in life. That was love.
It had been a little over a month since she'd been back and the celebrations had continued far longer than she expected. She didn't know how loved a person could be until she was discovered by Eugene and her parents and the kingdom! Her gowns were made for her by someone else, she didn't have to sew unless she wanted to! She was consulted on trifle matters such as the royal garden, but to her, this was magical. She,of course, brought along Pascale and he rather enjoyed himself from what she could tell.
Eugene had been knighted by her father, the King, shortly after she had been properly introduced to the kingdom as the princess. The main reason for the knightdom? The crown had been returned and with it, their lost princess. He had been given lands and servants to take care of it. The pair were planning on visiting the grounds soon and for that she was excited. It could be their own little getaway from when the court got to be too much.
One of her favorite lessons was learning how to ride a horse properly and like a lady. Her beloved was frequently allowed to join and he offered her helpful hints. She had had a few falls which made her parents worry but nothing worse than a bruised wrist. So far, learning to be a princess was hard work. But she rather enjoyed it.
She had been summoned to her parents' quarters for an important announcement. The entire court were there too as she made her way through, she heard people whispering "Your Majesty." She still thrilled at the words. She didn't realize that the announcement could very well be the end of the happiness she shared with Eugene but she would soon find out.
When the words marriage came out of her father's lips, she paled. She had planned on getting married to Eugene, but this was not to be? Her father started talking about a prince from a faraway place who was coming to court in a few days. Talked about another King who was unwed and wanting a beautiful bride. Her father spoke of the advantages and perks of being a young woman.
Rapunzel looked up and sought out Eugene. Her lips parted in a little sigh as she felt herself fall to her knees. She saw the ground come up towards her. She would later blame it on excitability.
Eugene felt himself stiffen at this dreadful news. Rapunzel was a princess - she ought to have the right to marry whomever she chooses! After a poor attempt to compose himself, he began to charge forward through to crowd. With a jolt he collided suddenly into Hookhand's extended arm.
"Patience," Hookhand hissed back forcefully. "You'd only cause more trouble makin' a scene in front of the King and Queen."
"But-" Eugene tried anxiously. "It's already a scene! I have just as much right as anyone to defend her."
"If you hadn't waited to long to consider proposing, than this wouldn't have been an issue! 'You think bein' a knight makes you special or something?"
Eugene bit back his lip in frustration. He looked up at Rapunzel's desperate figure as a pang of guilt shot through him. Hookhand was right; it wasn't his place to interfere, but on the other hand, he never had been one to follow the rules until recently...
With that the recently knighted dove beneath Hookhand's arm and sprinted to Rapunzel's side, thrusting himself in front of her defensively. He wasn't sure quite sure if what he was doing was the right thing for anyway, but what else was there? He couldn't bear to see he in the arms of another man, particularly someone he didn't even know that she liked!
After the brief fainting spell, with the help of Eugene, Rapunzel made her way to a chair with a promise to her parents she would treat the men kindly and seriously consider a proposal of marriage. She just didn't clarify which proposal of marriage she would accept and she hoped she'd have her parents' needed blessing if Eugene were to ask her to be his wife.
She sat for a few moments while her father outlined the week's festivities. A grand celebration when the prince arrived with a huge banquet. A jousting competition the next day, followed by hunting for the men. Another grand feast. The events blurred themselves in her mind as she witlessly nodded along, adding little exclamations of excitement.
"Your Majesty." She stood up slowly, feeling a little light-headed still and was hoping she looked pale to go along with it. "If I may take leave, I'd like to go rest up for these grand days ahead. I am feeling rather tired and unwell." Her father nodded and looked with a worried glance to the Queen.
"Shall we send our physician?" Her father asked quickly. With a nod of disapproval, Rapunzel strode out of the hall, past the entire court and rushed into her bed chambers where she dismissed her ladies in waiting and sent one of them to fetch Eugene. While waiting, she examined her reflection in the mirror. She was awfully pale but after such an announcement, who wouldn't be? Her lower lip trembled and her light eyes were filled with tears. She fought to stay composed as she fingered her purple dress.
Long before she knew she was royalty, she was attracted to the color purple. Now it was one of her favorite colors to wear for it signified strength as well as royalty.
Eugene had been pacing frustratedly for some time now back and forth between the castle's now deserted hallway. He should've realized there was nothing he could do to stop it. Schemes of sabotaging the other men, whom he had begun to secretly refer to as his 'competitors,' spun across his mind, but he knew Rapunzel, nor anyone else, would ever allow it if they knew. Perhaps if he kept quiet about it? No, he couldn't possibly keep something like that a secret from Rapunzel, much less Pascal; it seemed the damn frog - err, chameleon - picked up on everything he did, despite how well he had attempted to hide it.
It was just then when one of Rapunzel's many ladies in waiting came into the room and reported his lover's desire to meet with him. Must she always sent someone else to deliver a message? he thought stubbornly. Or perhaps she doesn't even have the freedom to do things like that herself anymore! He sighed, trying not to allow his anger to get the best of him. As much as he loved Rapunzel, he had never learned to appreciate the civilized, 'proper' lifestyle nearly as much as she seemed to be enjoying it.
Trying his best to remain calm an collective with for the most part what he'd refer to as considerable success, he headed towards the desired meeting place. Being the confident man as he was, Eugene was sure that Rapunzel would pick him over any visiting stranger, despite their royal status, but he knew he'd feel a lot better as soon as he heard it from the girl herself. He hoped that his unusual foul mood as of late wouldn't effect he decision and tried hard not to concentrate on the slight doubt piercing at the bag of his mind. Would Their Majesties really have called for such an occasion of she was truly happy with me? Did they think I wasn't good enough for her? Eugene shook his head stubbornly. That had to be impossible... right?
Rapunzel could feel him coming nearer to her, her very heart perked up considerably, racing as much as she was to the door. She flung it open and pulled him inside before closing the door quietly. She quickly put her hands on his cheeks and pulled his face gently to his for a passionate kiss.
"Such terrible news." She whispered sadly, her light eyes wide with sorrow. "I think to go right to my father and declare my love you and ask for his blessings. But I am not sure that I am allowed to. Such things are improper and would surely cause a scene. I must avoid making them unhappy but not on this matter." She declared fervently, her hands found their way to his shoulders and she gripped him tightly as if afraid to let go. Which she was.
"I don't know what to do, Eugene. I love only you."
With this gesture Eugene had suddenly forgotten all his doubts from before. Suddenly a rash idea popped its way into his head.
"We could elope!" He suggested enthusiastically, grabbing on to Rapunzel's shoulders. "I mean, I know it sounds crazy right now, but just listen: it's not like you've been accustomed to being royalty all you life, so I don't see how you could miss it all that much. It'll be exciting, and you like exciting, otherwise you'd have never left your tower in the first place. And c'mon, if it's the King and Queen you're worried about, I'm sure they'll get over it... or maybe not, but that won't be our problem. Yes, I'd be forfeiting my knighthood, but hey, what do I really need that for anyway? We could take up a life of crime, become outlaws - I could..."
His sentence slowly halted as he caught himself rambling. Eugene searched Rapunzel's eyes for some sort of reaction, hoping he didn't sound as ridiculous as he felt. It probably was a dumb idea, in any case, but it had to be worth a try.
Her eyes widened as he detailed what their life would be like. Crime? That didn't sit well with her, but she let him keep talking. "Oh, Eugene. That life is not what we were meant for. I long to marry you, but surely we need the King and Queen's permission." She wrinkled her nose slightly in thought and then looked up at him. "Although, if indeed we got married in secret, once they found out, they wouldn't tear us apart, I would hope!" She threw her arms around his neck and kissed it fervently, moving to his chin. "I want to be fully yours in body and soul and name." She sighed softly, looking at him.
Eugene echoed her sigh pathetically.
"I know," he apologized, stroking his hair back and pausing uncomfortably. "I'm sorry. You're right, of course; that was stupid of me. But then, if eloping is completely out of the question, what do you propose we do? Besides," he added distastefully, "You can't expect me to sit back and watch your parents test your... compatibility with these other guys."
"Well, as I said, we need only get their blessing. Whose to say what they might do if we get married in the true sense and then reveal it to them? What's the worse they could do?" She knew they could be banished, but she couldn't think after 18 years of not having their daughter at court, they'd do such a thing. "No, I wouldn't dare make you sit through that. I don't want to do that myself. I can't think of what to do but humor them and carry on with you."
"Surely they couldn't oppose if it's what you really wanted, could they?" Eugene wondered aloud. "But it's true that if we really were to announce an engagement just after having had Their Majesties inform you of their festivities, they'd likely think you were ungrateful, or at least just stubborn. Tell you what, Princess: I'm ready to propose any time you'd like, you know that. It's a shame it wouldn't be much of a surprise at this point (I've waited far to long for that), but while I'd much rather get it over with before this thing causes the two of us any further trouble, I'll be willing to wait until you're ready, or at least feel like you don't owe your parents any more. If that's what you want of course - I'm still open for taking up a life of crime again." he teased.
"Well now, Eugene, that surely doesn't sound like a romantic proposal. If you are going to do it at all, you better do it better than that!" Her arms tightened around him then. "If you were to propose, say now, I'd say yes. We could be betrothed in secret and I could carry along for the rest of the week, entertaining my Majesties notions and then go to them and tell them the truth. That I am in love with only you and I can't think of a happiness grander than to be your wife." Rapunzel smiled, leaning forward to kiss his lips in a gentle way.
"Hey, I'm the one proposing, remember?" Eugene chuckled. "Fair enough, though. Unfortunately I don't happen to have a... now, wait minute..."
He reached into his pockets for a moment, a blank stare on his face as he was obviously searching for something. At the last minute he remembered his own ring, something he'd won gambling with several of the other kingdom's knights in the nearby pub The Snuggly Duckling while Maximus was out. "Not the shiniest thing," he muttered to himself disapprovingly. But it was all he had with him at the time. Eugene really was the worst at planning things like this.
Eugene then lowered himself slowly onto one knee as he held the old ring out to Rapunzel. "Rapunzel," he began, clearing his throat nervously, "ever since I first laid my eyes on you, I knew... Wait, that's a lie. When I first laid eyes on you I was bound to a chair as he held a flying pan threatening above you head." He winced. "Alright, forget I said that! I mean - um - ever since... Well, at some point since I met you, I realized how important you were to me. You were my new dream, and I want you to continue to be for as long as I live..." Eugene swallowed, unsure whether or not he was doing this right, but there was not backing out now. "Basically what I'm trying to say is... Rapunzel, will you marry me? And I promise I'll get you a better ring as soon as I can afford it." He looked up hopefully after this. He wasn't sure exactly why he was even doubtful in the first place, as he practically knew the answer already, but he could never be too sure. Rapunzel always had been full of surprises, for better or for worse.
Rapunzel's eyes widened. She had just been teasing him about proposing but when he actually got down on one knee, her eyes flooded with tears. She couldn't help laughing through them as he stumbled through the proposal and laughed again at the end. "Of course, Eugene! I'd be honored to! As for the ring, it doesn't matter. I will wear this ring on chain so it rests right here." She placed a hand on her heart. "Yes, I'd love to be your beloved." She squealed, falling to her knees to put her hands on his face. "Yes yes and a million times yes!" She kissed every inch of his face she could possibly reach, her eyes closing frequently to shed the happy tears that fell down her cheeks.
"Alright, alright, calm down!" Eugene managed between the onslaught of kisses, laughing all the while. "If we're going to keep quite about this for now, though, you're going to have to learn to be a little more secretive than that. If your eyes are still puffy after we part ways people are going to start accusing me of having hit you or something. But," he wiped a tear from her face gently before continuing, "I am curious to see these other gentlemen who should be arriving in a matter of days, now that I know they don't stand a chance." There was a hint of boastfulness in his voice now. He found it strange, how many different moods he had gone through all in one day. Hopefully Rapunzel hadn't noticed his stubborn, childish behavior earlier... Of course, his ego would never let him admit to it aloud, not even to her.
Within minutes, her calm returned to her and she was simply staring at him. "Shall we have a glass of wine to celebrate? We have a little while yet until the grand banquet tonight. I can dismiss my ladies. It can just be the two of us." Rapunzel wanted to run around shouting with joy, but as he said they had to be secretive and the tears had to stop else someone's suspicion came about. "We can play cards, or simply talk and be with one another!"
She longed to be alone with him, to simply bask in his gaze, but also to show him just how little the men stood a chance with her.
Eugene stretched his arms over his head excitedly as this plan. "Sounds good to me!" he enthused. "I've gotten better at cards since the last time we played, you know, and I've got that ring you're now wearing to prove it. And I swear there was no cheating involved that time," he quickly added in his defense. After all, having peaked at his opponent's cards wasn't technically cheating, especially when he had been so bad at keeping them hidden... right?
With his words of consent, she put her arm on the crook of his elbow and started walking toward the drawing room, closer to her bedroom. She motioned forward one of her ladies who had been out of earshot, she'd made sure, and asked for a goblet of wine to come to them. She then dismissed the rest of them, leaving merely a guard at her door and the two of them by the fire. She then walked over to a dresser and pulled out a pile of new cards, a gift from a loyal servant in court.
"Are you prepared to lose, Eugene?" She asked with a glint of mischievousness in her eyes. "What are you prepared to wager?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing," he answered, raising an eyebrow as he tossed several chips onto the table. "You shouldn't be so confident just because you've had years to yourself to practice. Luck really is a huge contributing factor when it comes to cards, if anything." Eugene secretly hoped he wouldn't embarrass himself as badly as the last time they'd played together; for the most part he generally had no luck when it came to the right cards whatsoever, and cheating was the only way he managed to have any luck at all aside from bluffing, which has been something he was getting increasingly good at.
He looked as his deck of cards all the while keeping his calm and confident expression, despite the absolute lack of a hand he had been dealt. What kind of a man am I if I can't even beat my own fiancee at cards? he thought disappointedly.
There was a bit of malice in his words, or was he just imagining that? She remained silent, looking at her hand. It was a good one, but now, looking up at him, she no longer wanted to win. Rapunzel also knew if she were to fold and he knew her hand, he'd be mad that she did so. Ah, here was a conundrum. For a pause, she picked up her goblet and took a rather large sip. She added several chips to the pile and sat waiting for his next move. She was watching him silently, her lips pursed.
Apparently Eugene wasn't quite as good at reading people as he liked to think he was, as unlike many of the Snuggly Duckling gamblers who tended to show an obvious reaction to the hands dealt to them, Rapunzel's serious expression seemed to give nothing away. Nonetheless he tried not to let this frustrate him and tossed one more chip into the pile (he also had a bit of a hard time forcing himself to fold, despite an obvious loss). Eugene took another casual sip at his goblet to signify Rapuzel's turn, all the while dreading the approaching time to flip over their cards. He'd embarrassed himself enough for the two of them the last time she'd joined in on cards amongst some of the other knights.
Rapunzel knew that Eugene had massive amounts of pride and while she had little, she still had some. An idea formulated in her mind that would let them both relax and get off the hook. She put a finger to her chin as if thinking what to do next. She let out a little sigh, placing one card down to draw another, diminishing her hand without a beat of an eyelash. She truly wanted to stop playing but wanted to let him win maybe one round before suggesting just talking or possibly as she had suggested, celebrating. A faint blush appeared on her cheeks as she looked at her lower hand.
Eventually the time rolled around to flip over their cards. You'd think both players had had considerably good hands, considering the amount of chips in the center of the table, but Eugene knew this wasn't the case and that soon enough Rapunzel would as well. With a slight grimace he placed his hand onto the table facing up to reveal a rather disappointing 10, 8, 4, and two Jacks. At some point Eugene had managed to get himself at least one pair, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference. He shrugged, smiling up at Rapunzel weakly.
Rapunzel flipped hers over with a soft disappointed sigh. There was a 2, 9, 10, and Jack. She puckered her lips in a mix of excitement and disappointment if that were even possible. "Looks like you won, Eugene." She said quietly, trying not to seem too dismayed. Then she smiled. "This is boring." She stated as a matter of fact. "We should go horse backing riding or something!" Anything with him, but cards reminded her too much of the coming royalty.
Eugene got up and stretched his arms over his head, trying hard not to boast about his surprising win. "I'm fine with that," he answered enthusiastically. "How long would you say we have until the banquet, a couple of hours?" he added with a sideways glance out the window. On the up side, horseback riding was something he had happened to be somewhat good at for the most part. Just not so much with Maximus, who had seemed to grow stubborn along with his new position and lately rarely let anyone ride him. Though this didn't seem to effect Eugene much in any case, as Maximus rarely listened to him before, even after they had worked out their differences.
"Yes, nearly half the day before the banquet tonight. Let me get into my riding habit. I must look proper." Rapunzel giggled, walking up close to him to give him a quick kiss before walking over to her wardrobe. She looked behind at him, over her shoulder with a smirk on her lips. "Well, go on. I'm not changing in front of you!" She demanded with a laugh and waited for his leave. Once he was gone, she pulled off her one dress and replaced it with a heather green riding dress and pulled a crown from her closet. She had to look perfect in case she ran into anyone of import but also in case they decided to pay alms to the poor. A few minutes later, she was fully dressed and exited her room, looking eagerly for a maid to send down to the horse stalls and get ready two horses.
"Eugene?" She didn't see him anywhere close.
Eugene had found himself heading towards the stables instinctively, still not accustomed to having other people running around and fetching things for him. He had begun whistling idly on his way, all the while trying to absorb the fact that he was now officially engaged. He'd sworn it would feel different, but the whole concept was relatively similar to a birthday. You turn a year older and somehow expect to be wiser, or more masculine, but it never exactly works out that way, just like how he was surprised to realize that being engaged wasn't all that different from merely being in a relationship. It just meant it was somewhat more permanent.
He had just reached the old stables. It seemed so much brighter outside, and the air had a cool, crisp vibe to it. It was quiet, spare several birds chirping off into the distance, now that he had stopped his whistling. After several tries he had managed to successfully pry open the rusted doors and looked back over his shoulder and up towards Rapunzel's room. He hadn't told her he was heading out yet, but she hardly gave him a chance before shooing him away, although he secretly wouldn't have minded sticking around a bit longer while she changed her attire. Of course, he knew she's have been angry at him if he were to say so.
After another moment Eugene turned back into the stable to get the horses set up. With any luck Rapunzel would know to come find him here.
"Your Majesty, Sir Eugene has made his way to the stables all ready. He insisted you'd meet him there." A young man bowed in front of Rapunzel and she smiled warmly at him, nodding her head. "Thank you, boy." With that, she gather her skirts and headed down, eagerly awaiting their adventure. She wasn't sure where they were going to go, but she was certain it would involve some greenery, nuzzling and some kissing.
The thought made her cheeks burn and she let the cool air hit them in a way to entice the blush into hiding. She then made her way across the yard to where the stables lay, the smell already reaching her nose.
"Eugene!" She scurried to reach his side and smiled. "I feared you'd left me behind."
"Left you behind?" Eugene echoed, embracing her. "Don't be ridiculous." He let go then to finish saddling up his horse, a large gray and white dappled mare, and helped Rapunzel climb up onto the neighboring brown horse. Within seconds he had mounted his own horse and turned his head towards her again. "So, where to this time around?" he asked playfully.
Rapunzel was assisted onto her horse (not Max) and turned to face him. "Well, I suppose we could visit our friends at the Snuggly Duckling, but first, I saw from my window this wonderful meadow just beyond there." She shaded her hand and pointed just past him. "There were lots of beautiful flowers and I so want to see them up close." Frequently, he would let her decide where to go and she was running out of ideas. "How does that sound?"
Eugene nodded. "Flowers. Sounds good to me." Eying her mischievously, he added, "Race you there!"
Without waiting for her to get a fair start, Eugene and his horse bolted ahead and towards the indicated direction. Nearly a full minute later his gleeful expression died away as he wondered how far behind him Rapunzel was. Forgetting to slow his horse down, Eugene glanced over his shoulder, squinting for any sign of his fiancee in the distance. In a matter of seconds he had come upon a large river just before the meadow Rapunzel had mentioned spotting when the horse decided to, rather than galloping through it, skid to halt right at the water's edge. Without warning Eugene was thrown from the animal and consequently landed director into the river with a loud splash.
The horse watched contently as Eugene struggled to pull himself back onto the shore by kicking at a large rock positioned in the center of the water while using the occasional root that would snap off nearly immediately after having been pulled at in an attempt to hoist himself up. Eventually he had managed to settle his top half on dry land, now dripping water into the grass with his wet hair plastered to his forehead.
"Thanks, you dumb animal." he groaned sarcastically.
Rapunzel hardly had time to catch up, watching Eugene disappear into the distance. He was lucky she wasn't super temperamental or else he'd be getting an earful when she finally caught up. She heard a splash and instantly nudged her horse into a gallop, gaining entrance into the meadow. It was beautiful, but her attention was on Eugene who was currently soaking wet, half in the water, half out. She jumped off her horse with a strict murmur to stay still and eat and raced over to Eugene.
She fell to her knees and smiling slightly pulled him the rest of the way out of the water.
"Eugene, what are you doing in the water? Are you okay?"
Eugene grimaced, despite being thankful for her help. "I just can't understand what it is with the horses around here," he sighed. "I suppose you could say we don't seem too exactly meet eye to eye." With this statement he gave his horse a harsh glare, but the animal seemed to be oblivious. He tried to squeeze some of the water out of his shirt without much success before continuing, "At least the sun's out, but I'll probably still have to change before the banquet or the other knights will give me a hard time about it."
Rapunzel giggled, trying to help him wring out his shirt and pants. "Oh, Eugene, you need to learn how to communicate with the horses! They don't think you respect them." She winked over at the horse who neighed in response. She turned her attention back to her beloved. "We won't stay too long then, I don't watch you to catch cold. Or for you to be made a fool at the table tonight." She smiled warmly at him. "I am so glad you're okay."
"No, I doubt my ego could take much more of that today," he commented, stalling as he sat down on a fallen log to dump the remaining water out of his boots. Well. Good thing I don't really care about these, he thought. "But as for the horses, I'm willing to bet it's merely Max's personal dislike towards me. What do you bet they've started some kind of conspiracy or something?" Eugene was only half-kidding, of course, but he wouldn't put anything past Maximus. "Just watch; as soon as we get back this guy's gonna tell all the other horses, and they'll be laughing about it for the next week. Pascal's probably in on it too, knowing him. Speaking of which, how's that frog of yours doing? I haven't seen him around lately."
Rapunzel rose from her knees and followed him to the long, sitting down next to him. "I will see to it that you get another pair of fine boots like those." She threw a hand over her mouth to stop the bubble of laughter that exploded from her lips, but then dropped the guise of acting proper. This was her betrothed after all, her Eugene. "Oh my, now that you say that, Pascal has been sneaking off to see someone. I thought perhaps he'd found another chameleon to fall in love with, or perhaps a mouse, but maybe he was plotting this very event." She teased him gently, placing a hand on his face to brush away his damp hair. "He's well. He's in very good spirits. He loves the castle, the maids fatten him up with sweets all the time."
"It's good he's enjoying himself, then," Eugene replied. "I suppose the longer they keep him busy the less time he has to keep an eye on me, because honestly, that was getting weird after a while." He paused to look up towards the meadow he had hardly noticed was there. Rapunzel was right; it was beautiful. "So is this the place?" Eugene asked, somehow already knowing the answer.
"Pascal is really enjoying himself. I'll let him know his presence around you is sorely missed." Rapunzel teased. She too looked around as well, admiring the view once more. "Yes, this is it. Pretty right? Nice open spaces! Sometimes, I must admit, the castle feels awfully small sometimes. So many people always around me and following me and staring at me!" She glanced around to make sure no one had followed.
Eugene nodded in agreement. "It's nice. You know, I bet you could paint this," he added, taking her hand as he got up to get a better feel for the scenery. He squinted up at the rays of sunlight streaking through the trees before turns his attention back towards the multitude of flowers spread across the meadow like a colorful quilt. "I mean, just check these out! Whoever said stop to smell the flowers may not've been such a nut after all. Have you ever seen so many?" he exclaimed excitedly.
Rapunzel couldn't help but be enthralled by his childish excitement in the natural beauty that surrounded them. For the first time, it wasn't just she that was admiring the landscape. She squeezed his hand happily. "Yes, I shall bring some paper out next time we visit. And some paint of course. And that easel I just received from the Duke Of Nardin. It's so very useful." She sighed happily, breaking away from him to start spinning around, slipping her shoes off in the process. Her hair unwound itself from its formal looking array of curls and she started giggling wildly. "This is perfection."
Unable to contain himself further, Eugene joined in on the laughter while crossing his arms and leaning against a tall tree at the meadow's edge. He was gleeful in watching Rapunzel enjoying herself (that had always been when he was happiest), but after his little tumble into the stream prancing around some flower-filled meadow like a giant fairy was the last thing he needed. He was content to watch from afar, taking in the serene atmosphere like a king watching over his kingdom. He relaxed, letting the warm sunlight slowly dry him off as it poked through the thick leaves of the tree under which he was stationed. Eugene felt he could spend hours here, watching Rapunzel's childlike fascination with anything and everything around her, as well as her dazzling smile...
"Have I ever told you I love your laugh, Eugene? It's like music." Rapunzel stopped spinning and let the Earth reacquaint herself with her feet. She unsteadily made her way over to him and sat herself down right next to him, putting her arms around him. Despite his dampness, she longed for nothing but to be close to him. "It's beautiful, isn't it? Nature I mean." She hugged him tightly before sighing happily.
"Yeah," Eugene replied passively, "It sure is." He tilted his head to rest against Rapunzel's and closed his eyes. "I could probably fall asleep here, with you by my side... Just slap me or something if I start to drool, 'kay?" There was a long pause as his breathing slowed, and for a moment it looked as if he really was going to drift off, before Eugene sat upright again. "Alright, I take that back. There's just something very wrong about trying to take a nap in wet clothes; almost reminds me of waking up in the orphanage after a particularly bad dream when I was little, not to ruin the moment or anything."
Rapunzel couldn't stop laughing when she was near him. It was an impulse thing, she thought quickly before dismissing it. "Oh, but Eugene, you're not there so it's okay. Although, I must admit, being in wet clothes must be rather uncomfortable. Do you wish to go back to the castle and change?" Her clothes were a bit damp from leaning against him, but she hardly cared. She did have several layers on, so she barely felt it.
"It's really not so bad. 'Sides, the sooner we get back to the castle the less time we have until that dumb banquet starts, although I am curious meet some of the guests." Eugene smiled, trying to picture the princes that were to attend. It made him feel much better to picture them all as overweight, pompous royals, although this probably wasn't the case. "Unless of course, you want to get ready? Because then I don't think I'd mind changing."
Rapunzel smiled back at him, imagining the night's festivities too. She wish that her parents had given her more than just a day to prepare herself for the upcoming visits, but she guessed it was better this way anyway. "I don't want to go back yet, but if you start feeling uncomfortable or cold, you let me know, all right? Then we'll head back right away." She rolled over onto her stomach and propped her head up on her hands. "When do you think we could visit your new house? I'm so eager to see it!"
Eugene picked a nearby light pink flower and began fooling around with it in his hands as they chatted. He couldn't help but reminisce about the first time they came to the Kingdom of Corona, when Rapunzel had her hair braided with hundreds of tiny flowers similar to these. Together they'd come a long way since then.
"There's no need to hurry," Eugene answered. "It's not like I really got around to furnishing it or anything. Sort of smallish; I could only afford three rooms, but it's alright. Cozy is nice. It's got a bed, too, but I think that about covers it. I think there's probably a bathroom and running sink as well, but I can't remember if I checked yet or not." He paused in thought, trying to come up with anything he'd accidentally left out, before continuing, "Yeah, that's about it! Nothing too exciting, I assure you. Not compared to the royal palace, in any case."
Rapunzel's eyes light up as he played with the flower. She too flashed back briefly to that time and wished longingly for blonde long hair again, although not nearly as long as it had been. It had grown a few inches since being cut, something she thought wouldn't happen, but it was still rather short and such a dull brown. She smiled. "But it's something that you'll call your own. It's yours, Eugene and no one else's. That's exciting by itself." She smiled as he compared it to the royal castle. "The castle can be rather dull, don't you think?"
"A bit lonely? Sure, but dull? Maybe not." Eugene contemplated Rapunzel's unique perspective, "But you're right, as usual. It is my own place, and that's something I don't think I've had since... Hell, I don't think I've ever had that! It is somewhat reassuring to have someplace like that... Being able to finally settle down, as opposed to jumping from inn to inn, trying to keep a day's journey away from bounty hunters looking to make a quick bag of coins from turning you in. And that's not even mentioning the officials; I think they're still getting used to having me on their side."
He glanced over at Rapunzel's delicate figure, lying peacefully in the grass. "The same goes for you too, you know. Ever since you got rid of that mad woman, you've been free to be your own person; go wherever you like, meet new people... It's practically the opposite with me. I'd already seen the world, and now it's your turn to experience it while I take a little down time." He winced after having accidentally snapped a soft petal off of the flower while looking away as he continued to fondle it, then quickly threw the broken thing back down and crossed his arms again. At some point he had slid down the tree so that he was sitting on the ground, his legs stretched out in front of him. "You are enjoying yourself, right? I know it must get awfully boring, pacing around the empty halls every so often, but hey, 'sure beats being stuck up in some tower for eighteen years, am I right?"
Rapunzel closed her eyes and nodded. "Yes, that's right. It does beat the tower for sure. I have all the paint I could possibly want. I have women that brush my hair every morning and night, and make my bed. I rarely have to lift a finger." She paused for a few minutes before opening one eye to look at him. "It really is different, you're right. And yes, I do enjoy myself. All the dances I've been taught, the books I've read, the lessons I've learned, it's all so.. So thrilling! I just wish I could use some of them without people looking at me as if I were an insect." She sat up, her face brightly lit.
"Eugene! Can I teach you a new dance? I want to show it my mother and father and with you dancing it with me, it's sure to be perfect!"
"New dance?" Eugene echoed, biting back his lip nervously. "You know I have two left feet."
But as potentially disastrous the idea sounded, Eugene had always had trouble denying Rapunzel nearly anything she requested, and he got up reluctantly. "Just know that if anything goes wrong, I'm holding you accountable."
Rapunzel shook her head in giddiness. "You'll do well, Eugene. I have faith in you that you'll find your rhythm, after all, you were a vagabond for those reasons, how nimble and fast you are." She reminded him gently, putting her left hand at her waist and the right one in the air near his face. "You put your left hand in the air, nearly touching my hand, and the other one at your waist. Now watch me. It's really quite simple." She curtsied first and then her hands went back to their previous positions. She started to hum a song, her feet touching the ground alternately as she floated away from him and then back, going in circles, all the while with a smile on her face, her eyes on him. "Two steps to the left, two to the right, one forward, three back, two forward, one to the right. We connect then, hold hands and I spin around you. Same steps."
Eugene attempted to mirror her steps, only stumbling once or twice. While he wasn't so good at remembering the count sequence, he was relieved to find the dance wasn't as hard as he'd imagined it'd be. He hadn't danced like this in ages, and even then never in an entirely sober crowd, save the time Rapunzel had brought a crowd of people to their feet on their first trip to Corona together.
"You're a good teacher," Eugene commented between steps. "But in all honesty, I doubt I'd be willing to do all this again in front of the King and Queen."
Rapunzel clapped her hands together in joy and smiled widely at him. "Oh, but Eugene, you're a good dancer when you actually try! And you only stepped on my feet twice. I'd say that's a big improvement." She giggled before leaning in to kiss him. "Well, it's up to you, I suppose, but I'd love for you to dance with me before those other men take over, but again, it's up to you!"
"Up to me?" Eugene scoffed pleasantly. "You know when there's something you want out of me you somehow always end up getting it." He leaned over to kiss her passionately. "But I'll do it if it makes you happy... and you owe me."
Although he didn't like the sound of dancing in front of an audience, he knew that Rapunzel was likely right in it being one of their last chances to be without the company of the other men for the next few days, and he didn't want to waste their time together disagreeing. After all, he wanted to be sure the princess was still his after the whole mess of things had swept over.
What is it that I owe you, Eugene? You name it, it will be yours." Rapunzel kissed him back just as passionately, throwing herself into the kiss to make him know that any doubts that lingered about them, shouldn't be there. With her eyes locked onto his, she lifted the ring from where it was hidden beneath her dress and kissed it gently, placing it back above her heart. "I love you, Eugene." She sighed softly, hugging him tightly.
Eugene smiled. "And I love you too," he cooed back, careful to pick his words. He'd heard the bit she used to say with Gothel and didn't want to remind her of it. After a long pause as they embraced, Eugene glanced up towards the sky. It remained a brilliant shade of blue, but he had a feeling they ought to get back sooner or later if they still wanted to ready themselves before the banquet. No doubt Rapunzel would want to change out of her riding attire and reapply or makeup or something, maybe have one of her ladies in waiting do her hair.
"It's hard to image in another hour or so all this vivid color will go away," he muttered, half to himself. "We probably ought to start heading back before the sun sets, if you still want to perform this dance thing you're so good at for your parents before their guests start arriving a little after sunset." Eugene suggested. He seemed to be trying to convince himself more than Rapunzel, as he really wanted nothing more than to stay there with her all night long. Of course, he knew this would only wreak havoc if they were to ditch the entire celebration altogether, which was probably the last thing his fiancee wanted.
"Don't you wish we could stay here forever? In this meadow I mean. Just you and I, no responsibilities, no people watching our every move.." She trailed off wistfully, her fingers playing with his shirt, drawing little circles into the fabric. "But you're right as usual, Eugene. We should probably be getting back." Rapunzel made no movement to ready herself to leave though and just sighed again loudly. "I know we should keep our engagement a secret but do you think I could tell Pascal? He'd be awfully hurt if he wasn't one of the first to know. Also, he can keep secrets really well!" She chirped eagerly, her green eyes wide.
"I don't see why that should be a problem," Eugene replied. "I mean, who else would understand him even if he wanted to tell them? No offense, but he doesn't exactly talk." He could tell that neither of them wanted to be the first to step away from the other, which made heading back harder than usual, but Eugene supposed another minute or so wouldn't hurt anybody. He heard one of the horses snort in annoyance somewhere behind them, to which he turned his head over his shoulder and stuck out a tongue playfully. He made a face as the horse snorted back at him before turned his attention back to Rapunzel. "Dumb animals. Honestly, I can't figure out what their problem with me is." he said jokingly.
Rapunzel giggled and nodded. "Pascal was trying to talk the other day. I swear he was trying so hard he was blue in the face. Poor thing." She looked back at the horses too. Hers was staring adoringly at her and then shot glares at Eugene. The horse he rode kept stomping his feet and rolling his eyes. "I wonder what it is too. Almost all animals hate you on sight! Pascal's just starting to warm up to you but that's solely because he knows I love you so he has to too." She smiled wider and hugged him tighter. "I have a new dress to wear tonight. It's beautiful. I can't wait to show you."
"And I can't wait to see it," Eugene replied softly, brushing his hand against her face. "I'm sure it's gorgeous, but not nearly as much as the girl inside it." After finally gathering up the willpower to back away, he headed over to the horses, who seemed to only hold still long enough for him to help Rapunzel back onto hers. Allowing him to mount his horse again seemed to be a very different affair, but eventually he had managed to get the animal to settle down long enough for him to climb onto its back."
"You ready to head back and get this whole dancing thing over with?" he asked, taking a sidelong glance at her.
"Eugene? You'll be great tonight. I taught you the steps. You'll wow my parents and the court." Rapunzel seemed to glow and she reached across her body to touch his hand, her horse moving over to let her do so comfortably. "I have the utmost faith in you. Besides, even if you make a fool of yourself, you'll get richly rewarded tonight when you come to visit me." There was a light blush on her cheeks and she looked straight ahead. "I"ll also talk to Pascal and see if he has any ideas about our engagement and telling my parents." She stumbled on the word, still foreign to her tongue.
They took their time heading back, taking the long way around the stream in order to get a couple extra minutes of conversation in before they reached the castle. As soon as they had pulled up, Eugene and Rapunzel began putting away their saddles and securing the horses back into their stables for the night. "So, how exactly does this thing work?" Eugene couldn't help but bring up the dancing again nervously as soon as they had finished shutting the stables. "Do you just ask the King and Queen if it's okay, and then do they have some sort of orchestra on standby or something? Because if they did, that would be, like, really cool. Maybe I should hire an orchestra to write a theme song and then follow me around playing it? I'd like to see these princes with their own theme song!" he laughed.
Rapunzel knew he didn't really want to dance but would do so to make her happy and she loved him all the more for it. "Actually, the musicians will be playing all night, throughout dinner and after it. Would you like to do it before we eat or maybe after? I don't have a preference, so long as I'm dancing with you." She could tell he was nervous and hugged him tightly. "If you don't really want to do it, I understand."
"No, no, it's fine!" Eugene tried to assure her. "I am completely okay with it... But, is there any possibility that less people will be around before the dinner as opposed to after it? Because if that's the case, then before sounds great to me." Eugene then smiled most winningly, as if trying to put emphasis on the idea of there being less witnesses.
"Well there will certainly be more dancing before than after, because after, most people will be too tired to do so. After, there would be more people watching that's for sure. I think dancing before dinner would be a better idea." Rapunzel looked up at him, her eyes wide as she leaned on her tip toes to kiss the tip of his nose. "I love you." Sometimes so much that it scared her. She loved Pascal, sure, but not like this. This was an all encompassing kind of love, unlike anything she was ever used to.
"As you wish, m'lady," Eugene teased her with a courteous bow, kissing her hand softly before taking it in his own. "To the throne room it is."
As they walked around the castle until reaching large gates out front, Eugene couldn't help but wonder if anyone had arrived this early, and more importantly, if he'd have to introduce himself to anyone that had or not. He'd gone to one of these occasions several times since he came to stay in Corona, but usually avoided unnecessary interaction with those of higher rank than him and often ending up talking Rapunzel into sneaking out with him onto the balcony, who Eugene personally found it much less stuffy and hectic. It probably didn't help that one in every six guests or so had seen his wanted posters, and he was quite honestly getting rather bored with explaining himself over and over again.
Rapunzel delighted in having his hand around hers. Especially in so public a manner. Her etiquette lessons had just begun but they hadn't covered that part yet and so far no one had said anything to her that it was improper or anything like that. Besides, once it came out that they were engaged to be married, all would be forgiven, right?
She too had the same fear of having to introduce herself to a noble (or five) without the help and guidance of her mother and father. Thankfully, the front stairs were empty and allowed them to climb them without hesitation or stalling. They walked together up to her door and she paused, knowing she should get ready but unwilling to let go of his hand. She squeezed it tight, her green eyes wide with trepidation.
Eugene kissed her cheek, whispering, "I'll meet you in a bit."
Then he squeezed her hand before dropping it and turned to head towards his own chambers. While his house wasn't completely furnished yet, he'd been given a small room in the palace in the meantime upon Rapunzel's request, and it still had all his belongings in it. Once inside, Eugene began changing into a dry and slightly more dressed-up looking pair of clothes. Afterwards he finished drying out his hair with a towel and in a matter of fifteen minutes or so was ready to go.
Eugene peeked outside of his room, wondering if Rapunzel was set yet. He didn't see anyone in the halls, so instead he began to make his way back to her room.
Rapunzel slipped out of her room, having had the help of several of her ladies in waiting to dress her. Her new gown was of a deep purple color, silver brocade adorning her waist. It was of the French fashion, something she was still getting used to with the front of dress being a little bit too low cut for her liking. No matter, she reminded herself, her ladies had oohed and ahhed her so nicely she knew she looked beautiful. Her crown was placed upon hair that had been tenderly curled with a hot iron rod, the short tendrils floated around her face most delicately.
She looked towards the sound of approaching footsteps and was glad to see Eugene turning the corner. There was make-up on her face too, but only a little bit of rouge on her cheeks and on her lips. She refused to wear anything else. "Eugene." She cooed, her hands itching to run through his damp hair. "You look so regal and handsome!"
"Stop it," Eugene blushed self-consciously. "It's nothing compared to what you're wearing. You look absolutely gorgeous, but of course, that's nothing new." As he spoke, he caught himself tucking her soft, recently curled hair behind her ear. He knew whenever he did this she wouldn't leave it that way for long, but he couldn't help himself.
Then Eugene's hand dropped to take hers again as he gestured forward with the other, smiling. "Our timing is perfect. I hear the musicians just warming up."
With a quick glance around, Rapunzel stood up on her tip toes to press her lips near his ear. "I can't wait to be your wife." She whispered softly before returning to her normal height to place her hand in his. She too heard the music and walked slowly forward, already swaying to the rhythm. Her heart was so full with happiness, she nearly squealed but knew she couldn't in front of the noblemen and women of the kingdom. They wouldn't appreciate seeing their future Queen acting like a child. For some reason, Gothel's voice popped into her head and she winced, stopping short to spin around as if to look to for the woman. She reminded herself that Gothel was dead. Pure and simple. Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust.
Eugene swore he'd caught a glimpse of a painful look pass by Rapunzel's face, but as it was gone nearly as soon as it had appeared he thought it best not to question. They made their way to the foot of the stairwell, where it opened up into a large throne room. Quite a few more people had gathered, talking in small groups of three or four, but aside from a few couples swaying to the rhythm of the orchestra, which had been set up at the other end of the room, hardly anyone seemed to be dancing. Perhaps it was because the party had barely begun and wasn't it full swing yet, as despite the number of guests already there, the room still seemed awfully spacious. Eugene scanned through them, hardly surprised at all to find that yet again there was no one there he recognized as from the King and Queen, who appeared to be busying themselves with some important noble or another.
Rapunzel smiled encouragingly at him. "If you want to wait till later to dance, we can either socialize or busy ourselves in what will like look an intensely heated conversation so no one will bother us. Or we... I will do whatever you wish to do, Eugene." She looked around at the dancing couples and the groups of people socializing. Most eyes were on the Lost and Found Princess and she blushed, hoping she was to everyone's liking.
"No, no," Eugene assured her, "I told you I'm fine with doing it now. I mean, the song being played is nearly the exact tempo you taught me at, and hey, maybe we'll even get some of these boring people to join in as well." Eugene tried not to look too intimidated by all the onlookers; of course they were more interested with Rapunzel than him, but he couldn't help but feel like he was being watched in one way or another. He continued, "I see your parents right over there, if you want to get their attention first,"
Rapunzel took his hand and eagerly lead him over to her parents. She sank down in a deep curtsy waiting until her father motioned her to rise. Once she got up, she smiled at her parents and then glanced at Eugene. "Father, Mother, may Eugene lead me in a dance I've recently learned. It's a quite beautiful one and he has learned the steps so well." She blushed lightly before looking down at the floor.
"Of course, my dear. Go dance! Have fun, be jolly!" Rapunzel giggled happily. She clapped her hands together with excitement before leading Eugene away.
"I don't know how much longer I'll be able to hide my excitement for our secret betrothal."
"Hopefully not too much longer," Eugene whispered back, trying to keep his voice out of range from anyone who may've been listening in. The kingdom's parties were notorious for spreading gossip. "As soon as the others all leave should be as good a time to announce it to the public as any." And with that they began the dance Rapunzel had taught him, Eugene surprised he still remembered it all quite well, probably as it wasn't too difficult in the first place. Locking perfectly in time with the music, they turned around each other, smiling all the while, and occasionally adding a comment or two pertaining to their previous conversation. Eugene tried not to blush as he felt several eyes turning towards them; he hoped this wouldn't start anything between him and the other men who had traveled here from their own kingdoms.
"See, Eugene! It's not so bad!" She chirped whenever she was close enough to do so, before placing her hands on the edge of her skirts to shimmy away. This was one of her favorite dances she'd learned so far. It was similar to their first dance in the village, but a little more hand motions instead of body movement. Either way, it was thoroughly enjoyable. She kept her eyes locked on his, glancing away only once to apologize to a wayward man who she had accidentally bumped into. All too soon, the music was over. "Escort me to my dining table? I so wish you could join me."
Eugene bowed to her courteously. "Can do, M'lady, although I'm afraid they stuck me at the less important end of the table with some of the other knights. Not my preferred choice of seating, I'll make do."
As they approached the extravagantly arranged table, not yet laden with food (always Eugene's favorite part of these sorts of things), he pulled out Rapunzel's chair against from the edge of what Eugene had decided to refer to as the 'cool end on the hall' as soon as he'd figured out that the seating always seemed to decrease in rank as you went down. "Don't forget to sum up all the strenuous small talk when I ask you how your evening was later tonight, supposing Corona's royal pain-in-the... err... guests don't get to you first." Eugene fake choked for a moment before winking at her and turning to his own assigned seat. "If you need me for anything I'll be over by the loser end,"
Rapunzel was saddened to see him go, but she squeezed his hand happily nonetheless. They could make this work. One day, they'd walk hand in hand to the dining table and sit next to each other as equals. That was what they were after all. Too bad the rest of the kingdom didn't think so.
What felt like hours later, the King and Queen were leading the public in a grand speech. There were mentions of their beloved daughter returning, mentions of impending visits from royalty, and lastly a mention however short of the heroics of a certain rogue Rapunzel had fallen for. Throughout the dinner, she had struggled to maintain polite concentration on the men that sat beside her. But what they spoke about, she hardly knew!
The conversation was no better from Eugene's end of the table. He found himself oddly entertained by pushing his food from one end of their plate to the other between eating it, or at least more so than when he had been trying to keep up with what was being said around him. Surrounded by other knights and several relatives to the visiting princes, the bulk of the evening consisted of tedious chatter concerning who was betrothed to whom, which countries and recently decided to align themselves or the deemed more exciting: which of those had broken off from their treaties, and so on and so forth. Eugene wasn't in the least bit tired, but he nonetheless had a rather difficult time suppressing the occasional yawn. Politics obviously weren't his stronghold, but on the up side he'd managed to avoid any questions directed towards him on the subject.
Rapunzel had unsuccessfully tried to stifle a yawn and found herself getting sleepier by the moment because of the dull monotone voices around her. She found herself sneaking glances at Eugene until she finally turned to her father. "Your Majesty, I'm feel rather tired and wouldn't wish to fall asleep at the table. May I please be excused to my chambers to get ready for bed?"
"Very well, my dear. Sleep well, you have a long busy week ahead of you!" He waved his hand dismissively and she got up from the table quickly. Her mother was frowning at her but said nothing.
Rapunzel turned her gaze to Eugene and hoped he'd get her mental call to him to meet her at her room. She curtsied to the men surrounding her, whispered quietly about what a pleasure it was to meet them and found herself walking slowly out of the room, running only when she reached the hallway.
Out of the corner of his eye Eugene caught sight of sight of Rapunzel getting up from the table. At the opportunity to meet up with her while everyone else remained preoccupied with food and talk, he quickly mumbled a thing or two about having to go and check on something or another distractedly to those nearest to him, regardless of whether they heard or not, and shuffled away from the table hoping not to draw too much attention. It wasn't until he'd reached the foot of the stairs from the other room before catching up to Rapunzel when he took he hand from behind.
"Parting so soon?" he asked, surprised to find that with so many people she had yet to meet (many whom he'd heard quite a bit of gloating about earlier at the dinner table from those who'd travelled with them) the princess was allowed to duck out so early. Sure, it was late it enough as it was, but from prior experience Eugene knew these sorts of affairs to go on well into the night. In slightly rarer cases even into the wee hours of the morning, at which point most of their participants, by then rather drunk, would often pass out whilst on a stroll down some distant hallway not to be discovered until later that afternoon or end up going home with a random selection of other guests, most of whom they had only just met. Of course, this only got truly out of hand once every blue moon or so, and even then only happened to the minority of attendees, but Eugene still found it rather amusing.
He recalled crashing one of those events a year or so earlier, perhaps it was the king's birthday celebration, when he and his former gang of ruffians had broken in in an attempt at making off some of the kingdom's jewels. Despite failing to bring back any souvenirs, he took care not to bring of the event with his current relationship with the royal family, lest any more trouble occur because of the mess; something Eugene was afraid he'd become terribly good over the course of his using thieving as a career path up until recent months.
Rapunzel turned with her lips parted, about to say some little story about how the wine had gone to her head when she realized it was Eugene. She threw a wide glance down the hall before pulling him into her room and slamming the door shut. Once in the safety of her room, she heard a chirp from Pascal. "Hi, I'm back. Go play." She said softly before turning to Eugene. She pulled him to her, pressing her body flush against his, sighing softly. "That was dreadful. Utterly and truly dull. All the men were competing with each other! Even the old ones! As if I truly cared!"
She pressed a little kiss to his neck traveling slowly up to his chin, landing on his lips. "All I could think about was doing this."
"Then let's not waste any more time thinking of it," Eugene chuckled, leaning in further to plant another series of kisses across her face. "You know," he muttered between go's, "I doubt the others would be particularly happy to learn what we're doing up here, considering all the trouble they went through to make this thing happen." Eugene pulled back again only for a moment, having found it too difficult to have a serious conversation at such close range without his own infatuation with Rapunzel getting in the way. "Did you hear any news about tomorrow, or whatever that entails? Because it'd be nice to know exactly when you're going to be whisked away from me so that I can make the most out of the time I have." Having stated his case, Eugene proceeded to woo her affectionately.
"Who cares what the others think at a time such as this, Eugene? When our own happiness is at stake?" Rapunzel said, pulling him over to the window to gaze out at the kingdom that would one day be hers. "I look out at this land and I'm astonished that I will have to rule it on my own. With a consort of course, but all of those men? They care only for the power. Not for me. Not like you do." She whispered softly, turning her back on the window to stare at him instead. "I only heard there was to be some sort of masked ball tomorrow night. Mother says she has the perfect gown for me to wear."
"A masked ball?" Eugene echoed, making an involuntary face despite. He hadn't yet been told how many of the festivities he was expected to participate in, or rather, not supposed to, but he figured the King and Queen were too kind for their own good and wouldn't object either way, which begged the real question: where in Corona was he supposed to find a costume to wear on such short notice? "Sound like fun," he shrugged, deciding not to worry about it. "I suppose I ought to pick up a mask sooner or later, then. Blend right in with the others to keep an eye on you and all that," he half-teased.
Rapunzel nudged him gently, pulling his attention back to her and away from the festivities. "Eugene, I'm sure the Ki.. Father has some extra masks and costumes laying around. Surely, they know you are going to be attending the ball with me. It will be kind of fun sneaking around, wouldn't it?" She placed herself in front of him, pressing her hands against his chest, admiring his face again. She waited to draw him right at this instant, but for now, just simply staring at him would suffice.
"I'm sure it would be," he replied, stretching his arms above his head before continuing, "We should have some sort of signal, in case I don't recognize you in your mask and ball gown-" he started to say, tucking a loose strand of hair back behind Rapunzel's ear, before being interrupted by an abrupt knocking on the bedroom door. Instinctively Eugene rolled over and off the bed, ducking being it and out of view of anyone who'd be standing in the doorway.
"Begging your pardon," a young gentleman looking close to Eugene's age began, peeking out from behind the door, "but I'm looking for a Miss Rapunzel. Is this she?"
Tempted to get up again but unsure if it was appropriate to reveal his location, Eugene instead slid himself a ways under the bed in order to try and get a peek and the newcomer's face, at which point he realized coming out now would only put him and his betrothed into more of an awkward predicament than before.
Rapunzel had been about to pounce on him again, to kiss his lips as she longed to do so often these days when the knock came and Eugene rolled off the bed and disappeared. Frowning, she got up and walked over to the young man, inspecting him. "Yes, I am Rapunzel. Who are you?" Her question was rather rude, but so was interrupting a pair of lovers. Though he didn't know that. Didn't need to know that. Where was Pascal when you needed him?
The guest opened the door further and took a confident step towards her. He had a kind of wry grin and dark, curly hair with piercing green eyes. Tall and thin, the gentleman wore a heavy brown coat with an off-white ascot tie around his neck. "I am Prince Baron Thatcher the Second, heir to the throne of Arcadia." he retorted matter-of-factly. "My parents sent me here along with my aunt and younger sister Tabitha, insisting that I made your acquaintance. And a pleasure it is, Princess." Baron leaned over to kiss her hand politely as Eugene wrinkled his nose in disgust from under Rapunzel's bed. He'd hoped there weren't any more arrogant prettyboys he'd have to look forward to putting up with in the coming days with all the unnecessary festivities going on.
Rapunzel wrinkled her own nose for a second before remembering her newly acquired manners. She allowed him to kiss her hand before curtsying for him. She held her hands near her body after that, eager to get this young man out of her room and continue to talk to Eugene about their plans for the ball. Like a secret code. "Nice to meet you, Prince Baron... I must say I am rather tired tonight. Will you be here for the ball tomorrow?" Get out, get out. She silently fumed. Wasn't it bad for a man to be alone with her? Nevermind Eugene!
"But of course! I wouldn't miss it for the world." Apparently oblivious to Rapunzel's lack of interest, the prince strode across the room as if he owned the place to pull apart the curtains of the opposite wall and glance out over Corona. "Awfully small little place, isn't it?" he muttered passively, a confident smile then finding its way back to his face. "I ought to take you to see our place in Arcadia; it's nearly twice the size. Do you travel much?" Baron asked, sitting himself on her bed without so much as asking Rapunzel's permission first.
Silently fuming from beneath him, Eugene turned to see Pascal now huddled at his side and wearing annoyed expression. "I don't like him very much either," Eugene whispered at the chameleon, who had begun to look nearly as red as he had felt. Money or not, who exactly did this little know-it-all think he was, anyhow?
Rapunzel was stunned at this man's bravery of just saying whatever he felt like, even if she so clearly wanted to get to bed. Or something. She yawned theatrically, hoping he'd get the hint, but instead, he just kept talking. "No, I haven't been outside of Corona. I think it's lovely here." She was getting impatient and the smile on her lips could only last for so long.
"It's getting late, Prince Baron, erm, perhaps you should go so I can rest up for tomorrow's exciting events?" She was eager to get him out so she could talk to Eugene about this new man. And what he meant by being here.
With a stubborn look Baron finally gave in and headed back towards the door. "In that case, I look forward to seeing you in the morning, Princess." And with a wink he added: "I'll be staying in the guest room the next tower over. Come and find me if you need anything." And he shut the door behind him.
"Is he gone?" Eugene asked hoarsely after pausing for some time to be sure that he had really left, peeping his head out from under Rapunzel's bed. Pascal crept out ahead of him and climbed up to Rapunzel's shoulder protectively, aiming a particularly harsh glare in the direction of where Prince Baron once stood.
Rapunzel sighed a deep breath of relief as the door closed and the smile that had graced her lips for a few minutes faded. "Is this what I have to look forward to for the next few days? Men like him trying to impress me with stories of travel and innumerable wealth? I must admit I'd love to hear some stories about faraway lands, but not enough to sit through some talk with him.
She laid a hand on top of Pascal, listening to his angry chirp. He was such a good friend. She held a hand out to Eugene to raise to his feet. "I dislike him."
"Who, that pompous fellow, Baron Something-Or-Another? However could you dislike someone like him?" Eugene rolled his eyes sarcastically as he was lifted to his feet. Pulling his chest forward he proceeding to imitate him in a childish manor: "Oh, Rapunzel, come and see Arcadia with me! It's so big, and prettiful, and I bet it's made out of candied chestnuts! We can ride there together on our giant unicorn. And did I mention, his hair is made out of rainbows and he leaves behind little golden droppings?" Pascal seemed to lift an eyebrow at this jest, as if questioning Eugene's current state of mind. "I swear," he muttered after breaking character, "One more minute of having to put up with listening to that guy speak..."
"And you're not even the one he's trying to woo! Oh, Eugene." Rapunzel sighed loudly, her body slumping onto the bed. She spread her arms around and stared up at her roof that was only half painted. It was much harder to get high up without her long long locks of hair. She rolled onto her side and propped herself up on her elbow, gazing at Eugene as Pascal ran to the bedpost. "I wonder what he would have thought if he knew I had a man under my bed. One that I do this with." She grabbed Eugene's hand and pulled him close to her to kiss him softly on the lips.
Taken by surprise by Rapunzel's latest assault, Eugene stumbled forward, losing his balance for a moment. He kissed her back pleasantly; "Wouldn't that be interesting. And to think he's missing out on so much..." From the top of the bedpost, Pascal averted his eyes from the scene as if to give them a little privacy (though admittedly not very much).
Rapunzel giggled softly. "I am fairly certain some of the things he might say may interest me, but for the rest of the time... How do I keep myself from falling asleep? I have half a mind to march to my mother and father and tell them that since the first 18 years of my life was mapped out for me, I should at least choose who I want to marry and it certainly wasn't that man." Faithful Pascal. She reached forward to pet him gently before returning her attention to Eugene.
As the hours passed by joyfully, filled with pleasant conversation and quite a bit of entertainment of the other sort (most of which felt only a matter of minutes to Eugene), the pair of lovers remained unconcerned by the party that continued on just below them. Although for the most part covered by the floorboards separating the two floors, the muffled sounds of music, laughing, and dishes clattering occasionally would drift into Rapunzel's room, but after a while had seemed to die down quite a bit. Noticing the sudden stillness, Eugene had hoped that the orchestra was merely taking a break and not officially packing up there belongings. How late could it possibly be?
"Excuse me for a sec," Eugene commented distractingly, turning his attention away from Rapunzel for the first time since Baron had left and pacing over to the door. He pulled it up a bit in order to stick his head outside, confirming the dreaded silence. He glanced back at Rapunzel. "They can't be done already?" he muttered to himself, wondering if this was the case if he was still allowed to be up there, although even if someone had noticed his absence they hadn't thought to check with Rapunzel about it.
"Is it late already?" As Rapunzel muttered those words, her eyes grew heavy as she yawned loudly. "I want you to be here with me. Will you come back after my girls change me? I... I don't want to be alone tonight." For some reason, a somber mood had settled over her despite how happy she was with Eugene. The fact that Lord Baron what's his name would think so highly of himself and deem her worthy for marriage upset her. The man she wanted to be married to was standing right in front of her. How could she convince her parents of that?
Eugene bit his lip. "I suppose if that's okay. I mean, I haven't got much to look forward to back at my new place. So should I wait outside or does that risk getting you into trouble if your parents come by to check on you or something? Because I could always jump back under the bed and avoid any questions." He held back a spiteful comment about her needing to have other get her into her sleepwear (he had yet to see eye to eye with people of power and money, both of which he had little to none himself) and instead smiled cheerfully at Rapunzel. After all, having been asked to stay with her while that Baron fellow had been urged off instead meant he still undoubtedly had the upper hand in this battle and Eugene was always up for a good ego stroke.
Rapunzel yawned again and pointed at the closet door. "You could of course just hide in there until the coast is clear. But you can't peek at me while I'm disrobing or you're cheating." She giggled softly, leaning forward to plant a gentle kiss on his lips just as there was a knock at the door. She shoved him into the darkness of the adjoining room and went over to the door. She opened it and three of her favorite 'ladies' were there, curtsying in front of her. Giggles preceded her into the room as the girls followed her and a few minutes later, she was lounging in her bed with her hair brushed and dressed in a light linen night gown. One of the girls was reading poetry to her softly and she yawned extravagantly to get them to leave. Once they did, she perched up on her knees. "C'mon out, Eugene!"
Eugene had hardly gotten a word in edgewise before being distracted with another kiss and hurried off into the closet, the door shutting between them seconds before a knock on the door could be heard, probably from Rapunzel's ladies. He closed his eyes, managing to resist the temptation to peak through the crack at what Rapunzel and her ladies were doing until she gave the signal for him to come out again. While waiting he figured he might as well get into some sort of sleepwear of his own, as the thick party attire he was currently in no longer felt appropriate. Not having brought anything else with him, Eugene instead merely removed all but his pants and hoped for the best (it hadn't been the first time Rapunzel had seen him without a shirt, plus announcing it beforehand would've sounded a bit odd) as he was summoned from his fabric lines hiding spot.
Rapunzel's eyes widened and she giggled helplessly as she took in Eugene's nearly naked form. Each time she saw his bare chest, it stunned her. "Well, I thought they would never leave. Lady Willoughby wanted to stay the night! I told her I kick in my sleep fairly often so it wouldn't be a good night for her." She blushed and pet the bed next to her. "So, what is our plan for the coming days? How are we going to survive all this mockery?"
Eugene stretched his arms over his head before climbing onto the bed beside Rapunzel. "Well, if it comes down to a competition between me and Baron and whoever else wasted their time coming all the way here, I'm totally gonna win this! Good looks - again, born with 'em - heartwarming backstory involving the girl whose marriage is in question..." he teased, leaning in to kiss Rapunzel on the cheek. "And if knowing you're on my side's not good enough, I can always get my buddies at the Snuggly Duckling to sabotage all the princes and win by default." Eugene winked at her, only half-joking, of course. Old habits did seem to die hard.
Rapunzel pushed him down in an uncharacteristically rough movement. She winced though and frowned. "You're not hurt are you?" She giggled at the rest of his words though. It was true, he had a lot going for him aside from his past. "Oh, Eugene! You can't hurt them!" She cooed before laying down next to him. She lay on her stomach with a hand on his chest and her chin resting on it, gazing up at him. "But seriously, Eugene, my heart will be breaking when they propose to me."
"Okay, then we'll avoid breaking anything," Eugene went on, leaning against Rapunzel and stroking her hair. "I'm just saying, if worse comes to worse, I happen to know a particular tower we could stick them in for the rest of their stay or something. That way you don't have to go through with that guilty feeling of turning them down, and I get a little fun out of it!" He looked up thoughtfully. "But then again, I'd certainly have a lot of explaining to do with Their Majesties afterwards." Eugene made a face at this afterthought before turning his head towards Rapunzel and lifting his eyebrows. "Okay then, Ex-Blondie. You got any better suggestions?"
"Let's run away! Elope! Then come back and surprise them all!" But even as Rapunzel said this silly notion, she knew it could never happen. She also knew that as much as she loved Eugene, it would be awfully hard to convince her parents to let her marry him. She pulled the ring that she had out from her below her chemise and kissed it gently. "I can't think of anything that would make everyone happy."
"Elope?" Eugene chuckled chuckled softly at this. "I believe we already tried that one. As I recall, you shot it down the second I mentioned becoming outlaws, and even if this weren't the case I don't think the kingdom would be too appreciative of me if I were to take away their Lost and Found Princess yet again, not to mention so soon after having just gotten you back. As much as I hate the sound of it, the only entirely logical thing to do is stick it out, meet all these unfortunate bachelors, and as soon as you're expected to make a decision tell everyone that you're not interested in them. While they probably have a say in who you can't marry, I seriously doubt they'll force you to marry someone you don't like." While Eugene did have a point, he almost hated that he was right on this issue. Standing by and being able to do nothing was hardly his idea of taking care of things, but if he were to step in it would only create more trouble (and pissing off royals wasn't exactly at the top of his agenda for the time being).
The roles had switched! Now Eugene was the sensible one again, with Rapunzel rambling on about silly things. "I know, I know. Wishful thinking, I suppose. Oh, Eugene." She settled her head against his chest to listen to the calming sounds of his heart beating. "I hate it when you're right." She whispered softly. But he was right, she'd have to put up with this masquerade for the next few days and let the men fawn over her while keeping herself an arms length away for Eugene. The only thing that would make it better for her, that would make it tolerable was knowing that Eugene would be close by. "Will you stay here? In the castle?"
"Here?" He looked up at the ceiling as if debating about it, but Eugene didn't need to be asked a second time. "I suppose. Y'know, if anyone asks why I always seem to be around (because believe me, I will be,) you can always claim I'm your bodyguard or something." Eugene stifled a yawn, not wanting to appear tired in front of Rapunzel. "And remember, it's still not too late to rule out a spontaneous kidnapping of the princes! I hear things like that happen all the time; you shouldn't be so quick to judge." A mischievous grin crept its way across Eugene's face as he pictured how the less-than-likely scandal would've played out. He'd always wondered what it'd be like to play the bad guy; then he could wear a cape. He'd always pictured the bad guys wearing some sort of extravagant dark cape.
Rapunzel giggled. "I can get you some rooms nearby mine. There's some right down the hall from here. I will tell anyone that asks that you're the man that saved me and now you protect me." She said confidently. She noticed the yawn and smiled. "You're tired, Eugene. Shall we sleep?" She yawned then too with a sleepy smile as she pulled the covers up to their chins. "You'll have to hide in the morning or leave early or something. The girls always wake me up. They'd be beyond perturbed if they found a man in my bed!"
"Me, tired?" Eugene protested despite the look on his face which clearly showed he was trying his best to keep his eyes open. "That's preposterous. Now, where'd you get a silly notion like that?" But as Rapunzel pulled up the covers he couldn't help but be tempted to settle down. With another hour or so their conversation had died down quite a bit, but Eugene seemed to be out even before then and dreaming of things that would've deserved some fairly odd looks if he attempted to explain them later.
Rapunzel was nervous, having been cuckolded for the entire evening by her maids: powder pressed to her cheeks, hair curled with a hot rod, everything she had never had happen to her before was happening now. She had also been bathed in floral scented water which stuck around her making her dizzy with familiar relief. She was then put into a bright yellow dress to signify the sun with a matching lacy yellow mask to settle over her face, revealing only her eyes and lips and a slip of her forehead. She had dismissed her ladies and now was perched on the edge of her bed watching Pascal change color for her entertainment, eager for Eugene's figure to come into her vision.
There was a knock on the door before Eugene pushed it open, clad in all black with a dark, flowing cape and carrying a small golden mask from its wooden handle. He never felt quite himself when dressed up for just about anything. Eugene had been given a room down the hall from Rapunzel's upon her request earlier that day, claiming that it would only have to be until they had finished furnishing his own new house, so luckily he hadn't run into anyone else yet in his costume.
"Hey," he greeted her, stunned by her spectacular ball gown yet again. Somehow Rapunzel never failed to look amazing each and every time he saw her. "So, um... Masks, huh? " Eugene smiled awkwardly.
"Don't you think this party will be amazing? Aside from the fact that you'll know who I am, I could get away with anything! I switched the costume Mother and Father picked out for me. So I will be hidden from even them. I call it Flynn-ing it." Rapunzel giggled and there was a knock at the door. She quickly opened and one of her ladies walked in, placed a pitcher of wine with two goblets on the table and then left. "I requested some strong wine because otherwise, this will be a little weird, am I right?"
Eugene could help but laugh and her witty remarks. "If you say so," he replied enthusiastically, "although I do have to wonder at exactly what it is you intend to 'get away with.' And while you're at it, might I remind you that I spent the majority of my life stirring up trouble and would be more than willing to assist in any plot for the night. Especially if it involves doing something horrible to a certain Baron What's-His-Face. Just saying." He glanced at Rapunzel innocently.
Rapunzel clapped her hands over her mouth and giggled wildly. "What I mean is that I wish to get away with dancing the way I want to, not the way that is expected of me. And to dance with you." She poured wine into the cups and handed him one. "Although, I wouldn't mind playing some kind of trick on him. If he thinks that I'm so great, perhaps we should shatter his illusions?"
"I like the way you think," Eugene commented, taking a sip from his glass. They still had a bit of time to kill before the masquerade ball began, despite several of the attendees (several of which had already been staying in the castle with them) having already gathered in the hall below them to chat amongst each other and show off their costumes while maids and servants scurried from room to room, putting out trays of food and checking that everything else was in order. After having finished their glasses amongst other small conversation (and for whatever reason Pascal refused a sip of Eugene's when offered, which seemed an oddly kind gesture at the time), Eugene stood up again and pulled Rapunzel to her feet. "Are you ready to get into character?" Eugene held his mask up to his face so that all that could be seen of his face was a sly grin.
Rapunzel giggled and nodded. "I guess a sun would act rather cheery, right? And bright! A sun would be smart?" She laughed louder and put a large smile on her lips as she turned to Eugene. "What exactly are you supposed to be? Or are you just dressed in disguise?" She was curious if people would catch onto her being the Princess or not. Her gown was rather grand, she just hoped others would be too so she didn't stick out.
Eugene rolled his eyes. "I thought the point of a masquerade ball was merely to not be yourself, but I guess I stand corrected." He took Rapunzel's arm as they excited the room and began heading down the hallway towards the stairwell. He could now hear the loud party going on downstairs and briefly wondered if royals got any sleep, considering how often they throw balls such as this that will go well into the night. Eugene found his arm getting tired from holding the mask up and wished he had picked one out with an elastic strap instead, but then again, it probably wasn't as important for him to be in disguise as it would be for Rapunzel.
They passed by Baron going the opposite way on the stairs, a velvet blue cloak trailing behind him and wearing a feathery mask of a similar color. He didn't seem to notice the two, probably intending to fetch Rapunzel himself from her room. Eugene couldn't help but smile at the thought of the disappointment the young prince would endure after finding she'd already slipped by him. Perhaps this whole masks thing wasn't such a bad idea after all, he thought to smugly.
"I wouldn't know! I've never been to one before, but I certainly like dressing up! And look, I have merely slippers on, not shoes." She lifted her dress slightly to show a gray slippered foot and she giggled. Rapunzel too watched as the Baron walked past them, gliding up the stairs, probably on his way to greet her and accompany her down to the ball. "Shall we make a game out of hiding from him, Eugene?"
"Winner goes the whole night without bumping into him?" Eugene suggested. "Then again, it may be just as fun talking to him when if doesn't even realize who you are. He really doesn't appear to be that bright of a guy." As they passed by a snack table set up nearby, Eugene grabbed a crack with a slice of cheese on it and continued, "We could also make a game of coming up with different names for each other each time we're supposed to introduce ourselves. See how long it takes them to figure it out and begin to wonder which ones are our real names."
"Oh, Eugene, this sounds like a lot of fun! Pascal's hiding in my room, though he'd be awfully good at this masquerade thing too." Rapunzel grabbed a slice of cheese too and nibbled on it thoughtfully. "Perhaps I should adopt a different way of speaking to him when he comes around. His mask barely covers his nose!" A maid walked by with glasses of wine and Rapunzel grabbed two, handing one to Eugene. "Well Mister Hogsworth, are you ready to meet the crowd?"
"Aye, I s'pose it's 'vout dat time," Eugene said, putting on this best Russian accent. "Miss Olivandra," this he pronounced more like 'Mees Oli-von-dera,' "did Oi e'er get around to telling you 'ow veautiful you looks tonight? Ouch!" Eugene snapped out of character as two small children bumped into him as they dove under the table, gigging. Eugene raised an eyebrow at Rapunzel before bending over lift the edge of the tablecloth. This revealed two more kids, in all three being boys and the fourth a girl who looked strikingly like Baron except younger and, well... a girl. Standing back up again he shrugged it off. "Foolish cheeld'en, always vrunning around vhere dey shouldn't be."
Eugene was rather talented with his accents. Rapunzel hardly knew if she could manage to do one herself without giggling the whole time. But somehow, she kept her lips in a near straight line and smiled indulgently at him. "Mista 'Ogsworth! Ow kind of you to notice!" She was lousy at accents apparently, having only recently been introduced to how people from other lands spoke. But she figured she'd have fun doing it. She couldn't help laughing at the break in character as the children running around them. She noticed the resemblance too.
Their ridiculous accents seemed to attract several odd glances from guests within the immediate vicinity, but the two of them didn't seem to notice, or if they did then they didn't care. With Rapunzel as his accomplice, Eugene found amusement in 'accidentally' colliding into someone and then insisting that it was their fault, ended up introducing each other to several different groups of people with a new name each time (although in most cases they seemed really too interested in getting them to go away to show any interest), and managed to get into an argument with some man for 'making fun of his accent'. Twice. On only one occasion did they end up diving under a table to avoid running into frantic-looking Baron as he ran around asking if anyone had seen the princess, afterwards apologizing to the children who had made it perfectly clear that the areas under all the furniture were already claimed as their secret base.
"If we kept this up," Eugene commented to Rapunzel, trying hard not to laugh, "I'd be surprised if your parents didn't show up and kindly ask us to leave! And believe it or not, no one appears to have figured out who we even are. Must be the accents, but I think I'll hold off on that in case that loony comes back to lecture me again in 'proper party etiquette'."
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