I've decided to try my hand at "slow burn enemies-to-lovers". I'm still on sold on the title. Any suggestions are welcome.

I don't own Tangled.


Burning Rose

Chapter One

Rapunzel couldn't imagine hating anyone more than Prince Horace of the Dark Kingdom. Or as he liked to be known as, Eugene Fitzherbert. Which was stupid. Horace wasn't all that better than Eugene. But it wasn't his name that was the problem. It was himself as a whole.

The first day the two met, Rapunzel had been excited. She always was when it came down to meeting new people and making friends. She felt too young to play with Cassandra, the Captain of the Guard's daughter. Rapunzel mostly sought friendship with Pascal. A chameleon. Frederic has expressed his concern for her only friend being a small animal before. But there was no stopping her. Pascal was her best friend.

They greeted the family in the Throne Room. She even got to sit in her own throne. Rapunzel's leg kept bouncing up and down until her father placed a gentle hand on her knee, reminding her to stop. Rapunzel bit her lip.

"Presenting King Edmund and Queen Alexys of the Dark Kingdom," Nigel said, reading from a scroll, "And their adolescent son, Prince Horace."

The family entered through the wide doors. King Edmund stood tall, wearing a brown fur clock closed with a strange symbol. Alexys smiled gently at them. Then their son came in.

"You know, Buddy," he said, pointing at Nigel, "It's Eugene, but, hey. You can make even Horace sound good in that accent."

He grinned with his teeth. Eugene took a spot next to his mother, ignoring Edmund's prompting to stand next to him. Alexys rolled her eyes.

"Thank you, Frederic. Arianna. For welcoming us into your kingdom. We rarely go on trips like this. As someone pointed out already." Alexys glared at her son.

"Why not make it well-known right off the bat? Don't want them having to waste their precious time trying to figure it out," Eugene replied.

Edmund closed his eyes for a moment. "That's enough, Horace."

Rapunzel frowned. She still couldn't decide if she liked Eugene. But she should still be kind. He could be super nice. She just didn't know it yet.

"Welcome to Corona," Frederic continued, "This is my daughter, Rapunzel. Rapunzel meet the king and queen of the Dark Kingdom and their son, Horace."

"It's Eugene, big guy," he said, examining his hands.

"Eugene!" Alexys scolded.

Rapunzel ignored that. "Pleased to meet you, King Edmund. Pleased to meet you, Queen Alexys. Hello-" she glanced over at her mother, not knowing what to call him "-Prince Eugene?"

"Thank you!" he exclaimed, "At least somebody," Eugene looked at Edmund, "Calls me, Eugene. Even if it's the kid."

"I deeply apologize that my son is acting out, Frederic. He's not usually like this-" Edmund began.

"I am. Always. I am such a delight."

Arianna spoke up. "Rapunzel, Eugene, why don't you run off and play? The adults have some catching up to do."

Rapunzel jumped up from her seat. Eugene shrugged and followed her. When she grabbed his hand, he shrugged it off. Okay. Maybe he just didn't like being touched.

"Come on, Eugene!" she exclaimed, "We can play in my room!"

"Great. What's better than playing with a six-year-old?"

They entered her room. Most of it was pink. Her sheets were violet with pink accents to match her canopy. Her walls were just tinted salmon. Pascal in the pillows was also sporting the color.

He emerged from his spot, making Eugene shriek. Rapunzel giggled as he crawled up her arm. He settled on her shoulder.

"What's that thing? A frog? You have a pet frog?" Eugene questioned.

"No! Pascal's a chameleon. He's not a pet either. He's my best friend, for your information." She looked at him. "Don't you have a best friend?"

Eugene leaned against her bookcase. "Of course, I have a best friend. But he's an actual human being."

"Well, what's his name?" Rapunzel grabbed a pillow and squeezed it.

"Lance. Lance Strongbow."

He grabbed one of the chocolates she kept in a bowl and popped it in his mouth. Rapunzel fed one to Pascal.

"What do you wanna play, Eugene?"

"Woah. Woah. I don't play. Especially not with babies."

Rapunzel tensed at his words. She was not a baby. Six meant that she was a big kid. No baby. Even if Eugene was four years older than her, that didn't mean that she was a baby.

"What do you do, then?" she questioned through clenched teeth.

He smirked at her. "You really wanna know?"

She slowly nodded, suddenly curious. Why was he acting so strange?

"Come on."

Eugene led her to the hallway. From there, he unfolded a large piece of parchment from his pocket. A map that looked familiar.

"This is the palace." He pointed to a spot. "That's the kitchen. I heard that the chef was cooking something special for tonight. Wanna get a sneak peek?"

After she nodded, Eugene explained the plan to her. Sneak down. Eugene would pose a distraction while she grabbed two cupcakes. And so far it was going well.

Until he stole both of the treats from her. In a flash, he spread crumbs and frosting over her cheeks. He threw the cherry to her. Eugene escaped. Without her. Just as the chef realized that two of his cupcakes were missing. Rapunzel tried to run off, but he grabbed her elbow.

He informed the king and queen. She was brought into the room as Edmund and Alexys left to bear her the humiliation. Arianna took both of her hands.

"Sweetheart, you know not to spoil your dinner," she said with what felt like all the disappointment in the world, "Why did you do that?"

For a second, Rapunzel thought about telling her about Eugene. But she wanted to be friends with him. To be friends with someone, she needed to be nice. Kill it with kindness, Arianna always told her.

"I thought it would be fun," became her lie.

"You can apologize to the chef later," Frederic decided, "You've had enough sugar today. No dessert after dinner tonight."

Rapunzel hung her head in shame.


The next day wasn't much better.

In honor of the rulers of the Dark Kingdom visiting, they were hosting a parade. For it, they even allowed Rapunzel to wear her tiara with her new dress. Wearing her crown was one of the best feelings in the world. It made her feel elegant and regal. The parade also meant that she had to wear shoes, but that was all right.

Rapunzel was seated next to Eugene. He didn't seem to be happy to be here, with his arms crossed and scowl. Edmund kept sending him looks from their parent's carriage. Eugene smirked and shifted so he was sitting on her hair. Rapunzel tugged at it.

"Excuse me, Eugene," she said, ever so kindly.

He sighed, but got off. "What's with all that hair, anyway? You're taking 'growing it out' a little too seriously."

She wrapped a piece around her hand. "I don't know. Daddy just told me-"

Their carriage began to move, surprising Rapunzel. She let out a small shout. Eugene smirked.

As they rode about the kingdom, she leaned over the side of their vehicle and waved. She blew kisses to her favorite people (not that she was picking favorites, just the people she knew best). Eugene kept sighing. He gave a half-hearted wave whenever it felt like he was about to get in trouble.

After a while, Rapunzel felt like her head was lighter. She raised a hand to her head. Only to realize that her tiara was missing. Oh, no, no, no, no. She bounced to the ground. It wasn't there. Had it fallen off? She didn't see the familiar sparkle when she looked back.

"Rapunzel? What's wrong, darling?" Frederic had to yell from his carriage.

"I can't find my tiara!"

He ordered the horses to stop. Every guard went on a lookout. Arianna grabbed her hand and went with her to every spot it could have been. Rapunzel felt tears coming to her eyes. She wiped them away with her sleeve. Now that was ruined too. Just like she had just ruined the parade.

"Hey, Blondie!" Eugene called out, running, "Looking for this?" He held out the crown.

Arianna thanked him. She placed it back on Rapunzel's head. With that, the parade continued. Eugene told everyone that it had simply fallen off her head and landed under the carriage.

But Rapunzel knew he was lying. Someone would have noticed if it fell off. Eugene had stolen it. Just like he'd stolen the cupcakes from her. Rapunzel had only wanted to be his friend. That was no more.

She hated Eugene with every fiber of her being.


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