Note: Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed so far. I'm having fun writing this series but it probably will never get to the actual wedding - that's what Tangled Ever After is for. I'm finding it far more interesting to write about the mishaps leading up to the wedding.
"Bonjour, bonjour, mon cherie!" The oily Frenchman seized Rapunzel's hand and leaned over to kiss it while Eugene darkly looked on.
Rapunzel giggled as Pierre, Corona's most famous artist, smooched her hand, but Eugene could barely keep himself from launching at the pompous painter to pummel him to a pulp.
"Er, ay-lo, Monsieur Rider," he added as an afterthought to Eugene in his most dismissive voice as if Eugene were a cockroach under his shoe.
Eugene glared at Pierre, gritting his teeth. "My name is Eugene," he said menacingly.
"But of course, of course, merde, did I not just say that?" The Frenchman sounded completely bored and insincere. Clapping his hands together, he smiled broadly at Rapunzel. "Ready to pose for your portrait, your highness?"
Eugene might as well not even have been in the room. Or been part of the furniture. Or one of the ugly metal sculptures in the corner.
Gritting his teeth further, Eugene possessively wrapped his arm around Rapunzel's waist very tightly. "We are ready for our portrait for our wedding day." He spat out the words as he glared very pointedly at Pierre.
"Naturally, monsieur, naturally," murmured Pierre as Rapunzel, scowling, shot Eugene a what-are-you-doing look and shook his arm off her waist. Eugene just shrugged back grumpily.
"If you will follow me, please." Pierre ushered them into the posing room of his studio.
Rapunzel had been thrilled to meet Corona's most famous artist several months ago. Finally, she had a chance to discuss art with another human being. Paint! Brushes! Painting on something besides walls! Rapunzel had been beside herself with excitement.
Eugene, not so much. Oh, he was happy Rapunzel finally had someone else to talk to about her hobby, of course he was. But Pierre was an ass, always keeping Rapunzel away to talk about stupid things like what paintbrush hair should be made of (?) and trying to weasel in on Eugene and Rapunzel's conversations when they were out in the village square.
Eugene just knew, knew that Pierre had it out for Eugene and was trying to steal Rapunzel away from him. Not that he could prove it, of course, and not that it was going to happen anyway. But Pierre continued to fawn all over Rapunzel and be a jerk to 'Monsieur Rider.'
"I was thinking, what are your thoughts on posing for ze picture, your majesty?" Pierre asked in a completely polite, subdued tone of voice. "Have you given any thought to how you and your, er, betrothed would like to do zees?"
"Oh, gosh, I don't know," said Rapunzel. "We haven't really talked about it much, have we, Eugene?"
If Pierre the skunk had his way I probably wouldn't be in this picture at all, thought Eugene huffily. Or I'd be painted with three heads. Or a tail like Maximus's. Or completely green, like the frog.
"Just paint us together. And be sure to get my nose right." Eugene hated the idea of a portrait of them hung in the square anyway. He didn't trust any artist in this kingdom – except for Rapunzel, of course – and that list certainly included pew-pew Pierre.
Pierre narrowed his eyes. "Your nose, monsieur?"
"Yeah, nose," said Eugene sarcastically. "You know, that long, pointy thing in the middle of your face? The one you keep sticking into other people's business when it's not wanted?"
Looking mortified, Rapunzel shot Eugene a really-what-the-hell-do-you-think-you're-doing look but Eugene was fuming too much by now to care.
"I must assure you, monsieur, zat when it comes to portraits, painting ze nose is my forte, my piece de resistance," said Pierre haughtily as he lifted up his chin. "You shall not be disappointed, I promise you of zees."
"Of course, of course, I'm sorry, Pierre," Rapunzel jumped in quickly, glaring at Eugene. "Eugene is just worried about his nose. No one could ever get it right before."
Pierre snickered. "Well, to be fair, mon cherie, a wanted poster eez not the best thing to have one's nose featured on, would you not agree?" The Frenchman guffawed heartily. Rapunzel weakly joined in laughing, though at least she looked guilty about it.
Eugene was just about to kill poohead Pierre, pardon or no pardon, when Rapunzel said "We have a lot of other business to attend to today, Pierre, for the wedding, you know. Can we go ahead and get started now?"
"But of course, your highness, anything for you." He swept himself into a bow, practically falling at Rapunzel's feet. "How about I paint ze two of you holding hands and looking at each other?"
That actually sounded like a great idea. Eugene narrowed his eyes. What was the catch?
"That sounds great!," cried Rapunzel excitedly.
"Is that all?," asked Eugene suspiciously. "Just the two of us looking at each other, holding hands?"
Pierre shrugged, looking indifferent. "Oui, if zat eez what your majesties desire, it shall be an honor and my utmost pleasure." He steered them both gently by the arms in front of his easel. "Now, please face each other and join hands and try to remain still till I'm finished."
Beaming, Rapunzel gazed at Eugene, clasping his hands in hers. Eugene gazed back at her.
Maybe the slippery-tongued snoot wasn't so bad after all.
two hours later
"Voila! Fini!" Pierre polished off the painting with a dramatic stroke, then tossed his paintbrush into his water can with a flourish.
"Wonderful! Can we see it?" Rapunzel stretched her arms while Eugene tried to get the feeling going back in his feet.
"Oh, no, no, I'm afraid not, mon cherie! Not yet. It eez not completely finished. I shall ponder over ze masterpiece some more, maybe make some finishing touches first." Seeing Rapunzel's disappointed look, he quickly added, "But you shall be ze first to see it when it eez finished, I promise you."
Looking satisfied, Rapunzel threw her arms around Pierre in a hug. "Thank you so much, Pierre! We'll see you around. Come one, Eugene." She bounced out of the studio.
"Your welcome, mon cherie!" Pierre called after her.
"Monsieur," he added to Eugene coolly.
"Yeah, thanks," muttered Eugene as he slipped out of the studio, making sure to nick the idiot's prized mahogany paintbrush with camel hair (camel hair, really?) on his way out.
A few weeks later
Eugene stood in his wedding suit, happy as a clam, as they hoisted up his and Rapunzel's portrait in the square. The same one pew-pew Pierre had painted.
Eugene looked at the banner and the blood completely drained from his face.
Rapunzel looked perfect, naturally.
While Eugene's nose in the painting, unlike the undeniably perfect nose on his face, looked more like a long, particularly chubby piece of sausage.
"Oh come on, they still can't get my nose right!"