Mabel was already in the kitchen when they woke up. Melody never came to fix them breakfast, it was just too early and she probably had other stuff to do. So Mabel was trying to cook for them.
She was obviously as happy and cheerful as always, but Dipper noticed something different about her, though he didn't know what was it, he guessed he only knew something was up because he was already looking too much at her all the time.
"Good morning!" She cheered. "Since I couldn't make a single sunny side up egg the day before yesterday, I tried something easier today. Boiled eggs. Anyone want some? I kinda made a lot…"
"Girl, you're gonna waste all my eggs playing cooking." Grunkle Stan replied a bit annoyed, yet not angry. He was just too tight fisted to let it go like that.
"Sorry, I just wanted to make something good for you all."
"It's okay, but eggs are quite expensive for commoners. And wasting money is not something I like to do."
"They're good, though. I mean it; I just ate some. I was going to wait for you all, but I was so hungry that I couldn't. So it's not really wasted if you're gonna eat it, right? Besides, Dipper told me how you are with money and I hope this can make up for it." She said handing him some jewelry. "These were my earrings I was wearing the night I was taken away from the palace. You can have them if you wish."
Grunkle Stan suddenly had a great greedy smile as he took the earrings.
"Girl, you can use as many eggs as you want now."
"Great. But… What about coffee beans? I tried to make some, but it's… awful… But at least I can make tea and boiled eggs now."
The old man sighed.
"Come here, Girl, I'm gonna teach you how to do it so you won't waste any more precious coffee…"
"Well, I'm eating." Robbie said sitting down without losing a second, so hungry was he. Soos soon joined him.
"Thanks, Mabel." The chubby man happily said.
Dipper and his father sat with them as well while Grunkle Stan started showing Mabel how to roast coffee beans. When the old man left the roasted beans to boil, he told her it would take some time and then the girl said she'd go back to her room to finish getting ready. Her hair was in a messy plait that made a few strands of it graciously fall on her face, she was still barefoot and she wasn't using her commoner's vest yet, just an indigo shirt and crimson long skirt.
She stopped in the middle of the way, though, turning around to look at her pirate chaperone eating eggs and bread.
"Oh, Dipper, when you finish could you please come to my room. I mean, your room. I need help with something."
"Sure." Mumbled the teenager with his mouth full of food. With a gentle smile, she left, the silence was so great they could all hear her footsteps up the stairs.
"Help with what?" Robbie asked between bites, wondering to no one in particular.
"Who knows? Maybe my window got stuck again. Or she found a spider web. Or something like that."
"Wherever it is, don't take too long, I'll be opening the shop soon and I want the three of you working there."
It didn't take long before Dipper finished his breakfast, washed his dishes and then went back upstairs. He knocked on the door three times in a row and then entered after hearing her approval.
She was yawning while brushing her hair in front of a small mirror placed over the drawer. She was already using a dark brown peasant bodice and boots, a crimson bow on her head and she even had some peach ribbons adorning the middle of her long sleeves. With a wide, beautiful smile, she turned to face him. Dipper was so distracted for a moment that he almost didn't pay attention to what she said.
"Great! You're already here. I know we have to go work but I just wanted you to do something first."
"And what is it?"
"Take your shirt off." His mouth dropped and he felt his heart suddenly racing a million miles per second.
"And try this on!" Ignoring him, she showed him a light aqua shirt.
He was still too flabbergasted to fully comprehend what was going on, it took him about three seconds to understand and sigh. He hated to admit it but he couldn't help but feel just a little bit disappointed.
"It's the pajama I promised you. Well, just part of it, obviously. You said the one I used was old so I made this slightly bigger. But I need you to try it on so I can see if it needs many adjustments and where."
"But… you told me last night you were about to do this… It was too fast, how did you do that in only one day?"
"I'm good at it. Now, try it on, please."
"But, Mabel, you couldn't have finished so fast! And just when did you do it? We were working all day!"
"It was after dinner. And, as I told you, I'm good at it. Really good. Now will you please just try it on?"
"Fine!" The boy mumbled quickly taking his peasant vest off and throwing it on the backside of the chair in front of the table. His top soon followed it and he was shirtless. She handed him the pajama she sewed and he didn't lose time in putting that on. He felt lucky for not blushing too much in front of her.
"See? It wasn't so difficult. What do you think?"
"I don't know, but it's comfortable." Dipper said opening his arms to test the movements of the fabric. "By the way, how did you get it?"
"Your Grunkle's shop, duh! And don't worry, I talked to him. He told me I could use some of his fabric, needles and thread if I mend some of his clothes. And so I did."
Mabel sighed, annoyed, as she measured to see if the sleeves were fit perfectly while he kept his arms opened wide.
"Are you going to make me repeat myself?"
"Mabel, I don't really know how it works, but you wouldn't be able to make this pajama shirt and patch up some of Grunkle's Stan clothes in just a few hours after dinner!" He complained, watching her closer and finally realizing what was different. There were very small dark rings right beneath her eyes. He quickly grabbed her shoulders and made her look at him. "Mabel, you didn't stay up all night just to do it, right? I told you I don't need it, I have others."
"No, I didn't."
"Don't lie to me! There are black rings on your eyes and you were yawning when I came in. You look tired."
"Are you calling me a liar? I didn't stay up all night just to do it for you. And that's not a lie. But I really haven't slept well since we got here, you know. I tried to run away and then Robbie attacked me and all. It wasn't really peaceful and that must be why you're seeing those things. It will wear off soon."
"Really? So you're definitely not saying up all night only to sew this, right?"
"No." With that he nodded and let her go, once again assuming a position with his arms open so she could finish measuring it. It took only a few minutes. "Okay, you can take this off now. Thanks, now I know I managed to do it quite well, almost perfect for you. The trousers will take a little longer, though."
"It's okay, there's no need to hurry, anyway." He insisted taking off the aqua shirt to put his own white one with the dark brown peasant vest. He didn't really notice Mabel glancing at his bare chest and arms, but he'd have turned tomato red if he did. "We should get down now."
Mabel nodded and left the pajama shirt she made on the table along with a lot of fabric of the same color, needles and thread. She didn't want to admit it, but she did like what she saw. Dipper seemed to be a very scrawny guy, but he actually wasn't so skinny after all. He was just a teenager in development, with muscles getting defined with all the pirate training he did.
Both walked down the stairs and went directly to the shop where Robbie and Wendy were already waiting.
"Hey, guys!" The tall red haired girl greeted.
"Hello, Wendy! Ready for another day at work?"
"Sure, but, you know, I've been thinking and I had an idea. The shop doesn't really need the four of us all the time; especially now that we finished cleaning and organizing all the merchandise. So maybe you could go out and see the city, Mabel. I mean, you deserve it; you always wanted to see beyond the castle walls, right? Having you locked up in a store while you could be seeing so much seems unfair."
"Are you serious?" Mabel exclaimed, almost beginning to jump in happiness; she had seen so little walking from the ship to Stan's place and then the night when she tried to run away and it was too dark to see properly.
"What if she tries to run away again?" Robbie asked, no longer using words like 'royal brat' to describe her. Maybe he was already getting a bit fond of her.
"Wendy, she can't walk around the city by herself. Not because she might escape, but because it's dangerous, she doesn't know anyone and she might get lost."
"That's why you'll go with her. Robbie and I will stay here today, right?" The young pirate raised an eyebrow and looked at her, she had a look that just screamed 'do as I say' and he wasn't stupid enough not to comply.
And then Mabel gave the most beautiful and excited smile Dipper had ever seen, turning around and yelling she'd get her beige cloak. Dipper was a bit awestruck facing Wendy with anger in his eyes.
"Wendy! You're not doing that because of what we talked about, are you?! Could you please just stop butting into my business!"
"Oh, Dipper, stop being so self-centered. I wasn't thinking about you when I suggested it. I was thinking about her. I honestly don't think it's fair to her being stuck in here while she could just go outside and see so many things. She doesn't have too long out of the palace so she should enjoy the time she has. But if you don't want to go, then fine. I can go with her."
"Wait, Red, are you sure you're gonna leave me and him together to take care of the shop? Alone? You know the probability of getting back and finding something broken or one of us dead is pretty high, right?" Robbie questioned, pointing at Dipper with his thumb. It wasn't like they would really kill each other, but they'd surely fight over something stupid.
"And that's why I suggested he'd go with Mabel. Wait, so you're not complaining about them going while we stay to work?" Wendy asked her boyfriend, confused.
"No, I think you're right. Besides, if the princess stays here for much longer she'd end up finding something for me to do or clean up. With just the two of us I can either lazily sit here all day or spend it kissing you." Wendy rolled her eyes, but she had a smile on her lips.
Dipper couldn't help but agree and so he changed his brown peasant vest for his favorite blue and red one, buckling his belt over it to hold his sword. A pirate would never leave without his weapon. He was done just in time to see Mabel sauntering at them with the beige cape he gave her, saying she was ready to go. Both said farewell to their friends and then he lead the way outside.
Mary was pacing back and forth once again in her room. She barely slept since her niece Mabel was kidnapped. And the worst thing was that the kidnappers had never even made contact. She expected something, anything already. A messenger boy, a dove, a letter, anything. But there was just nothing. Sometimes she feared weather Mabel was really alive or not. The girl was almost like her daughter instead of niece, after all, she raised her since her sister died shortly after Mabel was born.
And she got even angrier when she exited her room to find the king minding his business not as half as worried as he should be.
"What's gotten into you, Albert?" She just snapped. "It's been almost a week since she was taken and you only sit here as if nothing has happened! That's just not you, you overprotective freak!"
"I'm not overprotective. And don't yell at me, I'm your brother-in-law, but I'm still the King."
"Then hang me if you will." Exclaimed Mary, throwing her arms to the sides for emphasis. She humphed and he just rolled his eyes as he started walking down the corridors. "And of course you are. You never even let Mabel out of the castle, not even for one day. You locked her in here her entire life with no friends. She always hated it in here and you never even cared."
"Stop being so melodramatic. And that didn't stop you from trying to take her to the city and stuff like that. Mabel is not supposed to leave here, do you hear me?"
"But she did. And now, I don't even know if she's alive or dead. If she's fine, if she's hungry, or tired or sad. I don't know anything." Mary had to cover her mouth to stop her crying hiccups. The king sighed, annoyed.
"Don't be silly, Mary. Of course she's fine."
"How can you be so sure? She was taken by pirates. Pirates."
King Albert entered inside his office room and she kept following. She was on the verge of a heart attack and he thought it was time for her to see the note the pirate's left the night they took Mabel. He didn't notice he was that desperate even though he was a very cold, and very callous man, and wasn't used to paying much attention to other people's feelings. But he wasn't a sadist either.
"Because I know the son of a bitch who took her." The king closed the door and gave her the note, as she started reading, he continued. "Maybe I should have hanged the bastard long ago when I had the chance, but I was just too young and stupid to do so. The thing is, he kidnapped her to punish me."
"Wait, you don't think it was…" She trailed off looking up from the paper and back to her red haired brother-in-law.
"Exactly. The only one idiotic enough to enact that stupidity. And he probably doesn't even know what he got himself into. He got in the way of a very important business transaction here."
"How can you talk like that of your daughter's betrothal?"
"Because it is what it is." He replied, sitting on the chair behind his huge table. "You might not know the situation so let me enlighten it for you. The kingdom Ranelia, far up north, has been searching a way to get us for a long time now and they're finally gaining some important allies. What do you think they will do? Attack our kingdom. So Mabel needs to marry Gideon because it is the only way to save our kingdom. Simple as that."
"You can't just sell you daughter away like she's some kind of object."
"Do not question me, Mary. You don't know the half of it. And it's not like Gideon is that bad. He's a good prince and will be a good king and husband. You saw the way he looked at Mabel, he liked her."
Mary frowned, her chestnut eyebrows furrowing, and put the note back on his table before she walked out of the office.
"So, where are we going now?"
Mabel asked, sauntering after Dipper. She had never seen so much stuff in one single day. She never imagined in her most dazzling dreams that the world could be so beautiful. It was just so different than her fancy cage.
And he was the one making it possible; he was the one guiding her to her dreams. In fact, she didn't remember having such a cute and gentle boy in her dreams. What she was living was way better than any dream. It was real.
"Well, I already showed you the most important points of the city, now I'm going to show you my favorite spot."
"But the city is to the other side…"
"And who said my favorite spot is in the city? Maybe it's in the surroundings of it."
"Oh. Okay. That makes sense."
"The place I'm going to show is kinda of a secret, so I'd like you to keep it like that, okay? Only Stan and my dad know about it. And now you too."
"I already feel honored." The girl said keeping up his fast pace. "But why are you showing me this if it's so important to you?"
Her question took him by surprise. But he knew why. He turned back to face her and Mabel felt her heart skipping a beat. There was a small smile on his lips and a lot of feelings in his eyes. She could distinguish assurance, trust, hope, and care but there was something else she couldn't really recognize.
"Because you're worth showing it."
She had never been gazed at with a look like that and it kinda took her breath away. But she tried to ignore it. There was no way she was feeling attracted to that dashing young pirate. Right?
She gulped. She couldn't fall in love. Not at all. Not because she was engaged, but because she was on the run. She knew there was just so much he could do, if she needed to, she'd run away. She'd have to run away. She could not go back to the palace, to that fancy cage to be imprisoned like a bird. Falling in love would only spoil everything.
"We're here." He said, gesturing to the place in front of her. Her jaw dropped.
"I know." He replied with a proud grin on his lips.
The place was indeed beautiful. It was isolated from the city, the river flowed over some rocks and it was possible to cross the waterway using them. It was peaceful, green, wonderful, cozy and it looked like it was just too good to be true. Insects like dragonflies and butterflies passed here and there but she didn't pay attention to them.
The calm sound of the water, the smell of the grass, the singing of birds, it was all so overwhelming she had to pause a moment to take it all in. Mabel never had the opportunity to see a place like this. She had always been inside the castle, and even though it was a huge, enormous palace, it got a little too narrow when it was the only place a person could ever be for more than 16 years.
"No wonder it is your favorite spot. It's wonderful."
"I found this place when I was about 9 years old. Since then, I've always came here when I had the time. I could spend a whole day here reading and would only notice I was here for too long when the sun would set."
"Geez, you're such a nerd!" She joked but he didn't laugh.
"Yeah, I know."
"But didn't you just like to play around with the other kids your age?"
"The other kids my age were stupid. And I didn't really know how to get near them, I was quite shy, you know…"
"You were an antisocial bookworm, weren't you?"
"Well, yeah. That too, but they just didn't like me, I guess. They used to make fun of me. So I decided I was fine on my own. I'd rather be alone then with guys like that. Maybe I just needed someone easygoing to teach me how to get closer to people."
"They picked on you because of your birthmark?"
"Then you're right. They were really stupid."
"Thanks." He said, sitting in the shadow of a tree and she did the same, pulling her knees to her chest, embracing her legs. "What about you? I bet you had a lot of royal kids to play with, right?"
"Oh, no. Quite the opposite, actually."
"Really?" he questioned with a raised eyebrow. "How come?"
"My father was always a very strict man. We were never really close and he didn't accept me going out of the castle gates and walls. I met some royal people, one of them is a close friend, but it's not like they could stay for long periods of times. And then there were the children of the servants. They stayed in the palace almost all the time, but they didn't really like to get close to me. When I was 8, one of the servants' kids accidentally made me fall and I got hurt. Nothing serious, you know, kids' stuff. But he got punished for it. Not severely punished, he was a kid, but after that no one else ever wanted to get close to me. I guess I just needed someone to play with when I was a child."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"It's okay. When I was 12, I met my ladies Candy and Grenda and they're like the best friends I could have ever wished for. I like quality better over quantity. If I have to choose between having 100 friends that would gossip behind my back or two whom I can trust, I'd pick the second option in a blink of an eye."
She told him with a very bright smile. How could she just say it like it was nothing? Here he was, feeling stupidly sorry for himself because people mocked him for his birthmark while she was lonely her entire childhood and she didn't even care about it. Mabel really had the power of positive thinking and he felt like he needed to learn how she could do that. Both were sort of lonely their whole lives, but that didn't mean it would have to be like that forever.