AUTHOR'S NOTE: It actually could legit work that the Aladdin and Into The Woods films are in the same universe. Hence, this a sequel to my fic a tapestry of many colors, which will explain that Noora and Fahid are the kids Aladdin gave the dates to, and in this fic universe, who he and Jasmine later adopt.
This is strictly Aladdin 2019 filmverse, and obviously the Into The Woods 2014 filmverse. But I threw in a bit of the Into The Woods stage musical, mainly Rapunzel's Prince and Rapunzel's twins and the fact that Cinderella's Prince marries Sleeping Beauty after divorcing Cinderella.
The only thing that isn't canon compliant for Aladdin is that Jasmine only becomes sultan in my version after her father dies. I can bite my tongue about her being sultan instead of sultana (maybe it's like Kristina of Sweden the Girl King). But in any real monarchy, she would only ascend the throne when her father died. That's how it works outside of Disney.
Speaking of Cinderella's Prince, his name is now Søren. I usually call him Nicholas, but as Skånland is sort of Scandinavian, Anders/Rapunzel's Prince's brother also needs a northern sounding name. The king (and father of Rapunzel's Prince and Cinderella's Prince) is called Ludwig, as a reference to Mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The real Ludwig had no children, but he was literally nicknamed "the fairytale king" and, well, it's Into The Woods.
My headcanon of "Into The Woods and Aladdin literally could exist in the same universe" has now turned into a small fic series called golden sands and green fjords. Go figure.
Anders lingers longer than usual in Rapunzel's tower.
"I am leaving for Agrabah tomorrow," he says as moonlight catches her endless corn-gold hair. They are in a tangle of limbs on her bed, so entwined he can hardly tell where he ends and she begins. "My father wants me to wed Jasmine, the sultan of Agrabah's daughter. Last time he tried to pair me off to Princess Snow White."
She tilts her head. "I thought only princesses had to go to foreign lands to marry."
"My sisters have. But only a king or crown prince stays in his homeland. As I am but a spare to the heir, my brother Søren will stay in Skånland with Cinderella. My father says I must marry abroad, but I fully intend to stay here with you."
She smiles. "I am glad to hear it."
"I shall irritate Prince Jasmine just enough to not accept my hand. Yet, I will be careful it is not enough to cause diplomatic tensions between Agrabah and Skånland and end the alliance. Then I will return to you, my one and only love."
Her hand goes to the slight swell beneath her dress. "And then we will tell King Ludwig why we must wed."
His blue eyes meet hers. "I would marry you even if you were not with child. I will now that you are, yes, but that is not only why I wish you to be my wife. I love you with every breath I breathe, Rapunzel."
"And I you, Anders," she says with a smile, but it fades. "I will miss you terribly when you are in the desert."
"I will think only of you when I am away. I swear it."
She bites her lip. "Then we should make the most of the time we have left."
Her golden tresses envelope them both as they fall into each other's arms again.
Even before they reach Agrabah's borders, Anders already wants to be home.
He of course doesn't say this out loud. Yes, he feels like he's about to die in the heat. But every word he says will make it's way to the sultanate family he is supposed to be marrying into. So he cheerfully comments about the way the sun makes the ocean of sand and dunes glitter like diamonds. All the while, he wishes is in the cold, green Skånland with the woman he actually wants to be with. But perhaps it will work in his favor if Jasmine sees him sunburned; a suitor with peeling, lobster-red skin would certainly be unattractive. But then again, word might get back to King Ludwig, and Anders' father is disappointed in his second son enough as it is.
When they finally arrive in the capital of Agrabah, the Skånlandians almost make it into the palace without incident. But just as they are about to enter the gates, there is a commotion behind the prince. Anders turns to see his steward nearly run over two children with his horse, and a local man in a red vest just barely saves them in time.
"Out of the way, street rats!" Johann snarls.
The Skånlandian servant's already pale skin goes white at the prince's rage. Anders dismounts his own horse. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Clearing the way for Your Highness-" the steward weakly explains as he dismounts.
"You almost killed two children with your horse!" Anders snaps.
"They are only peasants."
"No matter their rank or yours, under no circumstance are you ever to harm a child! Is that understood?"
Johann trembles ever so slightly.
"I said is that understood!"
"Yes, Your Highness," Johann says with a bow. If Anders was his father, he would have beheaded Johann on the spot. But the prince is not his father, and strives every day not to be like Mad King Ludwig. Anders makes mental plans to fire Johann the moment they return to Skånland. But what is most important is ensuring the two children are alright.
Looking up at him with big dark eyes, they are clearly local street urchins with the bronze skin and black hair of all Agrabahians. But unlike as King Ludwig sees it, the fact that their skin is darker than Anders' own matters not to the pale-skinned prince.
"Are you alright?" Anders says with sincerity to the girl and the boy before him. They seem physically alright, and the royal is glad the young man who had saved them stepped in just in time.
"Yes, Your Highness," the girl says.
Anders notices how thin these children are, and the gauntness of their faces'. So he turns to the still-petrified Johann. "Get me a purse of fifty gold koïns."
"But Your Highness-" Johann protests.
"That is an order," Anders says, an edge to his voice, and Johann scrambles to obey.
Now Anders turns to the young man who had saved the children. "I do apologize for my guard's earlier comment. It was most uncouth."
The local in the red vest shrugs. "Far worse has been said to me, Your Highness."
"That still does not make it right. Are these your children?"
The peasant's eyes widen. "Oh, no. I merely saw they were in danger, and I just had to step in."
"A noble decision," Anders says as Johann approaches. The prince normally never would ignore anyone so blatantly, servant or not, but Anders is no mood to humor Johann. The blond royal takes the velvet purse about to burst with gold from his steward, and gives it to the young man. "Buy these children something to eat, as they are practically skin and bones. But keep some for yourself, sir, as a reward for your heroic deed. And as an apology for my guard's behavior."
The peasant blinks. Anders wonders if the scrappy young man has ever been called sir in his life. "Um, yes, yes, of course, Your Highness. Thank you."
"Well, I should be on my way." Anders tries not sound resigned as he looks up at the palace before them.
"Here to court the princess?"
Anders pretends to look forward to meeting Jasmine. Johann and an entire crowd of people are watching. "Yes, I am."
"She has turned down every suitor so far. I have heard winning her favor is no easy task."
It takes everything in Anders not to openly rejoice. Perhaps this is over before it has begun, and he can return to Rapunzel. "Is that so?"
"Good luck," the peasant says with a grin.
"And may you have luck," Anders tells him. "You as well," the prince adds to the children.
Anders has to continue on his way. But as the gate closes behind the northerners, the prince glances back and sees the local young man leaving with the two children. Hopefully he will use the money to feed them, and hopefully at least this one thing will go well during Anders' time in the desert.
One of the sultan's men announces the Skånlandian envoy, and Anders enters the grand reception hall.
The sultan Hamed Bobolonius II is waiting for them, along with the vizier - was it Jamil? Jabbar? Jafar? Yes, it was Jafar. Anders has been studying all members of the Agrabahian government, as per usual when one royal visits another country. But the most important names of all are those belonging to the princess - who is nowhere in sight - and the sultan.
"Welcome to Agrabah, Prince Anders," the sultan says.
"Thank you for having me," the golden-haired young man says with a bow. He doesn't technically have to bow to royals from another country, but Anders doesn't want to be rude. Agrabah is still his father's ally.
"I have been informed of your kindness just now to three of my people," the gray-haired Hamed says. "Thank you for your nobility."
"Think nothing of it, Your Majesty. I only did what needed to be done."
"Her Highness, the princess royal Jasmine of Agrabah!" another servant announces, and a young woman enters.
She is beautiful, Anders will admit - though of course no one can hold a candle to his Rapunzel. Jasmine has striking copper skin, silken raven hair, and intelligent yet guarded dark eyes that appear to see right through him. This is no airheaded, shallow, or naive girl before him; like Anders, Jasmine clearly knows how to play the delicate and vicious chess game that is politics.
He might be on a diplomatic envoy at his father the king's order to court the Agrabahian sultan's daughter, but all he can think of is the maiden in the tower in his home country.
So Anders does his best impersonation of Søren when his older brother is drunk.
"So, why did no one tell me of your beauty?" Anders says boldly, sticking out his chest like a rooster. He's not the type to diminish a woman to her body, though his elder sibling has a tendency to do so.
As expected, Jasmine doesn't like hearing this. Of course she's far too regal to show much of her irritation, but her eyes do narrow. "No one mentioned yours either."
"Oh, thank you. They say that in Skånland," Anders says with all of his brother's typical arrogance. He turns to his countrymen. "Ja, ja, right?"
Johann and the prince's envoy raise a confused but enthusiastic "Ja!"
Anders pretends to find his own joke hilarious. "It is very, very amusing."
In the midst of all this, Anders notices Jafar staring at Jasmine with far too much interest. It is less in a "watching out for the safety of his sultan's daughter" way and more in the manner of "mentally undressing her like a whore with his eyes." Even Anders' brother, womanizer that Søren is, isn't that openly creepy around women.
Then Anders sees a tiger behind Jasmine.
A very real, full grown, dangerous Bengal tiger. The creature is two hundred kilos of claws, teeth, and striped fur that could kill him as easily as blinking. The animal goes to the princess' side, and her hand rests on its head without fear.
"Sit," she murmurs, and this man-eating beast, this lord of the jungle, obeys. Clearly she has raised it. Well, people always say that if a dog does not like their owner's suitor, said owner should trust the dog over the suitor…
"What is that?" Anders gasps over dramatically. "Wait, do not tell me. It is a cat - with stripes! In Skånland, cats love me."
Which isn't completely true. He has nothing against cats, but he prefers dogs. Of course Jasmine's tiger not liking him might help Anders' suit fail with the princess. So even though he might die because of it, Anders makes a show of being a complete and utter fool and taunts the deadly creature with a tassel as if it is a housecat. "Here, puss puss, here puss-"
The tiger lunges with a growl.
Anders' scream is the most genuine moment of his entire meeting with Jasmine. As the massive animal pins him to the marble floor, Anders thinks of Rapunzel and prepares to die. Johann runs forward to club the tiger with his staff.
"Rajah!" Jasmine snaps. "No! Get off him!"
The tiger apparently named Rajah roars in Anders' face, and all the prince sees is teeth and jaws that could decapitate him.
Jasmine rolls her eyes, as if this happens all the time. "Rajah! Come!"
Rajah obeys, and Anders' heart pounds so hard he thinks it might fly out of his chest.
At the dance a few days later, Anders finds Jasmine.
"Oh, you are still here," she says with the barest hint of a resigned, disappointed, and annoyed sigh.
"Ja, I have been enjoying seeing your beautiful country," he says, still copying drunk Søren.
But then Anders sees Jafar across the room, and the vizier is still ogling the princess. Knowing that Jasmine herself wants nothing more to do with Anders himself, the prince decides to at least warn her before he leaves for Skånland.
"You may want to keep an eye on your land's grand vizier," Anders says in a low voice, no pretense of idiocy or obnoxious farce in his tone now. When Jasmine looks up sharply, it's clear she's noticed the change in his demeanor. He may not be in Agrabah much longer, but despite everything, he doesn't want to see this woman hurt.
She raises an eyebrow. "And why is that?"
"He seems to be keeping an eye on you, and not in a professional manner. I have been here but a week, and even I do not trust him well."
Jasmine pulls Anders into an alcove. "You were only pretending to be a dimwitted fool to make me lose interest, were you not?"
"You are just as intelligent as I thought," he says, grateful to keep using his normal voice and not the impersonating-his-drunk-brother one. "And yes, you are correct."
"I imagine you came here on your father's orders without actually wanting to marry me."
"I would surmise you are in the same position," he says.
"My baba means well, but…"
"Be grateful you have a father who does mean you well," he says flatly.
"I am sorry," she says sincerely.
His smile doesn't quite reach his eyes. "I am used to it by now. It is hardly uncommon for royal parents to care nothing for their children except as successors. As it is, I have my reasons not to want this arranged marriage between us. Forgive me for wasting so much of your time."
"You had little choice in the matter," she says in an understanding tone. "But what is your reason for not wanting to marry me? Aside from being forced into it, I mean."
He hesitates, but decides to be truthful with her. She doesn't seem like the type to spill secrets. "I have a girl back home who I wish to marry." He doesn't add she is also expecting my child. "She is considered… Well, unsuitable, as she is not of blue blood, but I love her with every bone in my body."
"I too am considering an unsuitable match," Jasmine admits.
"I have my orders to court you, but I would rather start a war than cast my lady aside. Not that I wish to start a war!" he amends quickly. "I did not mean-"
"I understand," she says with a smile. "No offence taken. And it is good to hear of your devotion to your lady love."
"I am glad we each did not want this arranged marriage. I never wanted to hurt you."
Pain settles her dark eyes. "Thank you, Anders. Really. You are my one and only royal suitor who has not hurt me, truth be told. Yes, you were irritating, though I am glad that was not your true character. Every other potential match has been more interested in my power and wealth. And if they were interested in me, it was for my body, not my mind."
"I hope you find someone who values your mind. Even if he is some peasant off the street, I truly wish you find a husband who respects you."
"And I hope you find a way to be with your girl back home." She clasps his hand. "I am glad we had this talk and cleared the air. I will ensure Agrabah and Skånland remain allies, and now I consider you a friend as well."
"I feel the same. I wish you all the happiness in the world."
"You as well," she says.
He sees Prince Ali in the ballroom. "Well, I promise I will pursue and irritate you no further," the Skånlandian says.
She laughs. "Thank you. Would you care for a tiger cub as a souvenir?"
It is his turn to laugh, albeit a bit nervously. "That is too kind, but I must decline. I will admit I prefer dogs to cats. Just please do not tell Rajah."
She grins. "Your secret is safe with me."
Anders sees Ali across the room. The Ababwaian prince looks heartbroken that Jasmine is so at ease with the northern royal. "Shall we rejoin the others?" Anders asks.
As Anders and Jasmine return to the ballroom, for the first time he feels he has made a true friend in royal circles; other royals from other countries usually stab each other in the back. But as he and the Agrabahian princess part ways, Anders even finds himself thinking he would like to introduce Rapunzel and Jasmine one day.
"Have a safe journey home," Jasmine says sincerely outside the palace a few days later. "And write to me."
"I will," Anders says honestly. The sultan is clearly quietly thrilled hearing this, but the northern prince and the southern princess know nothing romantic will ever come of it. But having a friend who understands the pressures of royalty is an unintended but not unwelcome gift from this trip. "It was an honor to meet you in person, Princess Jasmine."
"And it was an honor to meet you, Prince Anders," she says with a genuine smile.
And so Anders finally turns his horse north to Skånland.
But when Anders returns home, fully intending to fire Johann and then tell the king of his plans to marry Rapunzel, her tower is empty.
Anders climbs the tower by her hair as usual, calling her name. But fear coils in his gut when she doesn't answer. A thousand different nightmares flash behind his eyes as he scales the tower. But nothing could have prepared him for reaching the window, seeing the Witch holding the end of the shorn braid, and Rapunzel nowhere in sight.
Soon he cannot see anything at all as thorns pierce his eyes.
Johann and his other guards try to take the heartbroken prince back to his family's castle. But the blinded Anders sends his white horse galloping off, clinging to the steed's mane to stay on its back. Let his horse see for him now and take him to Rapunzel, for nothing matters without her and their child.
Two years later, Anders writes to Jasmine.
He can see again. Mostly. He still has some vision loss, but regained the majority of his sight. But he will never take for granted being able to see his wife Rapunzel or their twins Hänsel and Gretl.
The giants that had terrorized Skånland are now dead. The first was killed by a farm boy armed only with an axe against a beanstalk, and the second felled by a group of courageous peasants. Astonishingly, Anders' (former) sister-in-law Cinderella had been among them. Even more remarkably, Rapunzel's long-lost baker brother (from whose family Rapunzel had been stolen by the Witch in exchange for stolen beans) was also involved in slaying the giant. Cinderella had told Anders and Rapunzel that she and Søren had decided to separate, to let the world think she was still dead, and that she would return to a commoner's anonymity. Søren himself had had no qualms about remarrying absurdly quickly to a princess called Briar Rose.
Agrabah had its own crisis at around the same time Skånland had endured theirs. The vizier had tortured the sultan, Jasmine, and members of the royal court in his ravenous search for power. Prince Ali had somehow been involved in deposing Jafar, and there were rumors of a djinn. Ali's name was actually Aladdin, and he had been Jasmine's secret suitor all along, and then Jasmine had married Aladdin-Ali-whatever-his-name-was.
I am glad to hear peace has returned to Agrabah. Skånland has had its own recent crisis, but at least both our kingdoms can breathe easily now.
I only wondered if my family and I might come visit you. My wife longs to see the world - a passion you have told me you have as well - after a life with limited travel opportunities. I thought Agrabah would be the perfect destination. If you will have us, of course, and our two children Prince Hänsel and Princess Gretl. Rapunzel and I have no intention of leaving them in Skånland with a governess.
This visit would be in an unofficial capacity. Both our countries' tax dollars are best spent on helping stricken people than giving us a lavish and undeserved holiday.
Nearby, the one-year-old Gretl and Hänsel play with blocks on the floor with Rapunzel. Their mother kisses their son on his temple before she stands, and Rapunzel goes to the writing desk.
"Your eyes need rest," she says softly, putting a hand on her husband's shoulder. "Take a respite from your letter."
"In truth, it is already complete." Anders signs his name. "And now you have my full attention, my love."
She sits on his lap to kiss him, and his hands go to her short curls. Her hairstyle has started a new fashion in Skånland.
"Have I ever told you," he says when they break apart for air, "I am proud to have such a beautiful, fashionable wife?"
"Yes," the bemused Rapunzel says. "It is ironic that Cinderella is the one famous for clothes and shoes, but cares nothing for it. Yet I, the one unaware of fashion trends for most of my life, am now the one setting them."
"I think you look equally ravishing with long and short hair."
One of her hands goes to her curls. "I prefer it short. When it is long, it… Well, it reminds me of Mother."
"I know," her husband says gently. "And that is why you have every right to keep it at whatever length you wish. No matter what fashion says."
Tears well in her green eyes. "Thank you, Anders."
Jasmine and the sultanate family greet the Skånlandian royal family from Agrabah's palace's front steps.
The woman sultan descends the stairs, but her husband and three children do not immediately join her. Anders is a bit surprised to see the sultan's prince consort holding their infant daughter with the older ward children beside him. This would typically be the wife's role to mind the offspring, but Anders knows Jasmine is anything but conventional. Skånland's prince looks again at Jasmine's husband and the older children, knowing he has seen them somewhere before.
Anders, carrying Gretl, greets Jasmine first. "Welcome back to Agrabah," the sultan says with a broad smile.
"Thank you for having me back. Given how our first meeting went, I surprised you let me into the country," Anders jokes. Mostly.
"You proved to be a good friend then, and an even greater one through letters. And this must be your lovely wife Princess Rapunzel."
Rapunzel, holding Hänsel on her hip, clasps Jasmine's hand. "It is an honor to finally meet you," the blonde woman says. "Not only as Agrabah's first woman sultan, but also as my husband's friend."
"I have heard quite a bit about you yourself. Your husband has a tendency for purple prose when describing you in his letters. Come, meet my husband, and we shall introduce the children to each other."
The Skånlandians meet the rest of the sultanate family at the top of the stairs. "May I introduce Prince Aladdin," Jasmine begins. "This is-"
"Prince Anders," Aladdin finishes.
"The last time we met, I thought you a peasant," Anders adds. "Not that there is anything wrong with that."
The dark-haired man's smile is a bit awkward. "It is a bit of a long story."
"We all have long stories," the blond prince says.
Rapunzel exchanges a glance with Anders. "Some quite long indeed."
"And, forgive me," Anders continues, "but are these the children my steward's horse almost trampled? Which I fired him for, by the way."
"A wise decision," Aladdin says. "And yes, they are the same. Jasmine and I adopted them."
"How good of you," Rapunzel says.
"Noora, Fahid, meet Prince Anders and Princess Rapunzel of Skånland." The infant in Aladdin's arms sneezes. "This is Baldoura."
The two adopted children bow and curtsey. "Your Highnesses," Fahid says.
Rapunzel finishes the round of introductions. "And this is Hänsel and Gretl."
"I love your hair, Princess Rapunzel," Noora says somewhat shyly.
Rapunzel smiles. "Why thank you."
"Now that the introductions have been made," Jasmine says, "shall we adjourn inside for refreshments?"
After the meal at the low tables and silk floor cushions, Fahid and Noora are soon distracted by the reindeer fawn that Anders and Rapunzel had given them. So far, Rajah has obeyed Jasmine in not instantly devouring the deer. With the older children occupied, the adults' conversation splits off into like groupings - Jasmine with Rapunzel and Hänsel, and then Anders with Gretl, Baldoura, and Aladdin.
"I admire you and Rapunzel raising twins," Aladdin says. "Fahid and Noora joined my family when they were older and more self-sufficient. Having Baldoura has been quite the undertaking, which I imagine is even more daunting when there is two of them."
"It is," Anders admits. "Of course I love them both, but it can be challenging. But having three at one time, even if they are all different ages, must not be easy either."
The dark circles under Aladdin's eyes are telling. "I feel as if I have not slept in about a thousand years."
"I know the feeling well," Anders agrees, looking over at Rapunzel. "But it does help to have a partner to share it with."
Aladdin watches his own wife. "I quite agree, though I try to let Jasmine rest. She is the one running the country. I am merely a stay at home father."
"Which is an important role in of itself."
Aladdin adjusts Baldoura's blanket. "That it is. But as a blood prince, surely you are often called away."
"But I am not the crown prince. My elder brother Søren is supposed to have state duties to attend to, but… Well, I should not speak ill of my brother and future king." Anders looks down at Gretl on his knee. "I will merely say Søren would likely not pay much attention to any of his legitimate heirs, should he have them with his new wife. He completely ignores his illegitimate children as it is."
Aladdin's eyebrows rise. "I see."
"I do not claim to be a saint myself. It is hardly a secret now, but I am sure you have heard that Gretl and Hänsel were created out of wedlock. But I had every intention of marrying Rapunzel even before she was with child. Yet that and her commoner status almost impeded our wedding entirely."
"Jasmine's father, Hamed, gave his blessing to our union. But he and Jasmine both all but had to go to war with parliament just to change the marriage law. Like you, she and I had our own obstacles in becoming husband and wife. It seems we have much in common, we four royals."
"There is something I must tell you." Anders locks gazes with Aladdin. "I did once court your wife before she married you, but nothing happened between her and I. On my honor, I swear it. Not when I first came to Agrabah, not when we wrote to each other, and not now. You have nothing to fear from my friendship with Jasmine, for that is all it is – friendship."
Anders looks at Rapunzel again. "I met my wife before I met yours. I was on under my own royal orders to court Jasmine, but all I could think of was Rapunzel. She had my heart long before I met Jasmine. And, from what Jasmine told me then, her heart belonged to another as well. That someone who, I surmise, was you. Neither she or I ever wanted to marry each other, not even for a moment."
"I am glad to hear it," Aladdin says evenly. "I would have understood if you and she had been involved before. But regardless, everything seems to have worked out well in the end."
"That it did," Anders agrees. "Would you mind telling me exactly how Jafar fell from power? There are so many fantastical rumors, I can hardly tell what is fact and what is fiction."
The Skånlandians stay a week longer than planned.
When they finally prepare to leave, parting is harder than Anders expects. His friendship with Jasmine is strengthened again, and he has found a new one with Aladdin. Rapunzel and Aladdin have bonded over being commoners turned royalty out of place in such splendor, and Rapunzel and Jasmine over isolated childhoods. The five children are not quite friends yet with the age difference, but that will change with time.
"You must come visit us in Skånland," Rapunzel says, kissing Jasmine on both cheeks. The two women can't actually embrace, as Rapunzel holds Hänsel and Jasmine holds Baldoura.
"We would love nothing more," the sultan says to the princess.
Anders himself has Gretl held securely in one arm. But with his free hand, he clasps Aladdin's hand. "It was wonderful to see you again, and now getting to know you."
"You as well," Aladdin says sincerely. "I am glad both our kingdoms and our families are finally happy."
"As am I."
As they travel back home, Rapunzel looks at Anders beside her in their carriage. Gretl and Hänsel are asleep on their parents' laps.
"Jasmine told me nothing happened between you," the short-haired woman says.
"I told Aladdin the same, for it is the truth. She and I are friends and only friends. You and he have nothing to fear."
Rapunzel leans against Anders. "I know, because I trust you and I love you."
"I trust and I love you too."
He presses a kiss to her temple, content in the knowledge that his wife and children are finally with him, and that they have genuine allies in Agrabah. But now it is time to return home to his beloved Skånland, with his even more beloved family at his side.