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Title: The Thing About Good Food
Fandom: Princess and the Frog
Characters/Pairing: Tiana/Naveen
Rating: G
Word Count: 1,135
Prompt: Yuletide 2010





It surprises Tiana how easily Naveen fits into her life. After the wedding, it’s right back to business, and he stands beside her as they – with a little help from Louis – gently remind the Fenner brothers of the deal they had made with her. He comes with her to the old sugar mill, rolls up his sleeves, and does his best to help fix the place up. At night, curled up with the sheets wound about their legs, they discuss menus and floor plans, mapping out their shared future.



(“A dance floor, wall to wall! You can’t have a proper restaurant without a proper dance floor.”

“We do still need room for a kitchen and tables, you know.”

“Yes, of course, you are right. But over there, you must have a stage where the greatest jazz bands in New Orleans will play every night!”

She laughs. “I’ll talk to the owner.”)




Tiana’s Place becomes Tiana’s Palace, and everything slides into place easily, with only the smallest of problems. It’s like there has always been a place reserved for Naveen in her life.

But she still has no intention of letting him anywhere near her brand new kitchen.

Naveen has his most charming, disarming smile on – the one that manages to make every waitress in town giggle and offer him another cup of coffee on the house – and he leans forward with a pleading look in his eyes.

Tiana is unimpressed. “I already said no,” she reminds him, stretching her arm across the doorway. “A couple times.”

He doesn’t even blink before launching into his plea. “But, Tiana, you are single-handedly preventing me from my goal of learning how to do everything.”

“Everything?”

“Yes, absolutely everything! I must, after all, make up for all my idyllic years of uselessness, no? I have already mastered ‘doing the dishes’, and I am well on my way to understanding the confusion of your streetcar system, but now here you are, standing in the way of my noble goal.” A person could go cross-eyed trying to keep up with all his dramatic gestures.

She shakes her head. “I really don’t think I’m all that’s standing in your way.”

Naveen reels back as though he’s been struck, putting his hand to his chest in a melodramatic display of deep emotional pain. He turns his head and calls out to a passing waiter, “Do you see how my princess wounds me?”

The waiter stops, opens his mouth, closes it again, and moves on with a shake of his head. He was a last-minute hire, replacing one of Tiana’s first choices who got a better offer in a different city, and he is not yet used to the theatricality that is Naveen. He has tables and menus to learn, and he has no desire to get involved in his boss’s personal life and get fired before the restaurant even opens.

Tiana sighs a little and says, “Naveen, please don’t scare all my staff off,” but her tone is light. The energy Naveen has brought to her life will certainly bleed through to the Palace, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. People will get used to it fast.

Naveen doesn’t reply, instead continuing to fix her with an appealing look, and Tiana breaks, unable to keep the smile from her face. “Not the day before we open,” she insists, “and not opening night, either. But maybe if you’re good I’ll let you try your hand at it in a couple weeks. All right?”

He grins and pulls himself up to his full height as though about to make a solemn vow. “Oh, I shall be the picture of good behavior. Soft-spoken, respectful, everything.”

Tiana laughs, takes a step forward, and reaches up to affectionately brush her fingers across the side of his face. “No, you won’t,” she tells him, “but I’ll appreciate the effort.” She pats his cheek, turns around, and goes back to her grand kitchen.

---

It is, as Tiana had suspected it would be, an impressively complete disaster. She does her best to minimize the damage done to the kitchen or anyone in it, but there’s only so much her supervision can do.

“Maybe you should just stick to mincing,” she suggests gently, holding Naveen’s burned fingers under cool water.

“I’m sorry, Tiana,” he says sincerely. “I hope I have not harmed your oven beyond repair.”

She smiles and glances over her shoulder. The oven is still smoking a little, but it shouldn’t take too much to fix it up again. “It’ll be fine,” she assures him. She lifts his hand out of the water and reaches for the gauze. “I’m just glad you didn’t harm yourself beyond repair.”

He sighs and sets his chin against his free hand. “Perhaps I shall simply have to admit that you are the only chef here and let this go unfulfilled on my list.”

Tiana thinks as she lightly wraps his fingers. She’s become used to Naveen’s more random whims and enjoys humoring him when she can, but she’s afraid to see what further chaos he might manage to achieve with the contents of a gourmet kitchen. She cradles his hand in both of hers and looks up. “How about this?” she begins. “For now, you focus on working with the band and keeping our guests entertained, and later we can work out a new arrangement when it comes to you cooking.”

He perks up, looking hopeful. “What sort of arrangement?”

---

The children always fuss on Thursdays, but they are even more restless than usual tonight. Their little one is just squirming in her seat, but Evelyn, the oldest for just scraping seven years, is making it clear that she inherited her father’s mouth. “I’m hungry!” she announces for the third time in as many minutes, leaning forward moodily and dropping her head in her hands. “Why’s it taking so long?”

Tiana gives her daughter a pointed look and then smiles as she slowly takes her elbows off the tables and sits back. “Be patient, honey. You know your daddy likes to take his time.”

This earns a dramatic grimace. “Mama, can’t you please make us dinner? Daddy takes forever and he always makes something weird.”

Tiana laughs. It’s certainly a true statement. Naveen was attentive enough to learn the basics from her – he doesn’t get eggshells in batter or burn bread anymore – but his adventurous side soon took over, and there was little she could do to control that. “Sorry, babycakes,” she says with a shrug and an unapologetic smile. “You know Thursdays have always been Daddy’s day to cook.”

Evelyn huffs and slouches in her chair.

From the kitchen comes an excited cry of, “Prepare yourselves! You are going to be amazed by the tastes you will soon experience!”

 
 
 
 
 
 
Hee, this is fabulous and adorable. Naveen is spectacular!
Thank you! Naveen was ridiculously fun to write. He's such a silly boy.