Flynn was going to great lengths to avoid Rapunzel. He responded to none of her messages to see her and when they did bump into each other in the corridors, Flynn quickly left without a word. The king and queen suspected that something had happened to them at the tower; they of course never suspected that Rapunzel had tried to seduce him. But what Flynn found so disgusting about the whole situation was that he nearly took the princess’ offer. Him, Flynn Rider ready to defile a princess. No, not a princess, a woman who was not his, who would never be his.
Rapunzel had been so earnest in her desires and that scared Flynn for some reason. It scared him to think that someone could care so much for a wretch like him. There were reasons why Flynn Rider was a loner. Half of it was personal, but the other half was because Flynn didn’t want to have someone to hurt. Relationships and bonds inevitably meant pain: pain of betrayal, pain of loss, and a boy named Eugene Fitzherbert never wanted a chance to hurt anyone.
After a few days, Rapunzel stopped calling on him. He heard the servants whispering about her, how despondent and unenthusiastic she was. The usual glow she had, they said, was gone, and her eyes were muddled with some foreign and deep despair. Everyone suspected it was because Sir Eugene’s memories still were not back. It had been a whole week and no progress had been reported.
Flynn could not stand hearing the maids and guards talking about him, or how upset Rapunzel was. He hid out in secluded spaces, purposely avoiding any high areas, just in case the princess did come looking for him. He did not want to see her. The night he almost… it still burned in his mind, haunting him, reminding him why he said he would never fall in love.
Had he? Had Flynn Rider fallen in love? He thought about the princess constantly, about her soft skin, and freckled nose, and those damn bright green eyes. But if he was in love, why did his chest hurt so much? Why could he not think about the princess without his eyes stinging? If Flynn was in love, then why did he hurt so much?
Even if he were in love, he could still never clear from his head that Princess Rapunzel had already had one wedding, even if it was to him. Her husband was another man. He was not Eugene Fitzherbert and he would never be Eugene Fitzherbert, at least not the one she knew.
It wasn’t just Rapunzel that the palace had noticed was depressed. The swagger that “Flynn Rider” had had when he first “arrived” was entirely gone when he did grace the halls with his presence, which was very seldom. He used to walk tall and straight, proud and sure of himself in everything he’d ever done and did, both as Flynn and Eugene. They were one in the same, as far as the palace residents thought. But this person now, who walked with shuffling feet and slumped shoulders, was a sad figure to be pitied. His flashy grin had not been seen in days and the palace was realizing just how much they truly valued Eugene. He had become such an important part of everyday life, in the palace and in the village. Everyone was worried, and everyone felt that there was nothing they could do.
As distraught as she was, Rapunzel still wanted to see Eugene. After her attempted seduction, she felt absolutely horrible. She knew that she was Eugene’s weakness and she tried to use that to her advantage. What sort of person did that make her? What sort of wife did that make her?
According to the rumors of the castle staff, Eugene was like a living ghost. When he did leave his room, he would wander the halls, uninterested in everything. He wouldn’t smile or even manage a hello.
Love wasn’t supposed to hurt this much. Love was supposed to be bliss and ecstasy, and love wasn’t lonely. Even if Pascal was doing his best to cheer her up, Rapunzel had never felt so lonely, even when she was living in the tower. When her mother would leave her alone, she always knew she would come back, but this time, Rapunzel didn’t know if Eugene was ever going to come back.
She had to see him again; she had to talk to him. The way things were, if she waited any longer, the two of them might not be able to repair their relationship at all, and maybe the two of them could restart it.
Just like the last time she went to see him, it was night, but Rapunzel had made sure to look as fully dressed as possible. She went at such a late hour because she did not want anyone to see her. This was a matter between her and her husband and she did not want it to turn into gossip.
His door might as well have been made of iron. Rapunzel stared at it, wondering if it really was the right thing to knock and try to talk to him. Would he want to? Did he even want to see her again? Ever since “Flynn” had shown up, Eugene’s emotions were everywhere and she could not predict what he would do.
Rapunzel breathed in deeply. She needed to speak with her husband. She lifted up her hand and slowly curled her fingers to gently knock, but a voice behind her stopped her.
Rapunzel jumped about twenty feet and spun on her heel, wondering if she needed her frying pan.
It was Flynn. He was looking at her, actually looking at her, and she looked back, looked at him and saw just how horrible he looked. Dark bags sat grotesquely under his eyes, red rimming them. Rapunzel wondered if he’d had any sleep in the last few days. She knew she had not had much; she was sure he was the same.
“You scared me, Flynn.”
“Sorry. Thief. Force of habit. What are you doing here, princess?”
“I’m not ‘princess,’ I’m your wife! Please, call me Rapunzel.”
“What are you doing here?” he asked again.
Rapunzel resisted the urge to sigh. “I’m here to apologize for… what I did, for… scaring you, or however way I made you feel.”
“Princess, you have nothing to apologize for.” Rapunzel looked at Flynn, utterly surprised. “I’m the one who is despicable.”
“No, you’re no-“
“Yes, I am. I should have never touched you. I shouldn’t even be talking to you.”
“Eugene…” Rapunzel extended her hand to him, but he stepped past her to his door.
“Princess, no matter what you tell me, no matter what you do, no matter what you try, I am never going to be Eugene again. I am never going to remember what we had together and I’m never going to be your husband again. And there’s nothing I can do to change that. So, please, it’s best if we both stop, before something truly terrible occurs.” Flynn didn’t even look at her as he spoke. He opened his door and closed it without another word, leaving Rapunzel alone to hear him lock it.