A One-shot I did, based on the Despair prompt in the 50 Prompt-1 Sentence entry.
The sentence was: "I don't belong here in this world," Flynn told her once, even though it broke his heart, even though he was loath to see that look of despair on her face. It didn't make the statement any less true though and it demanded I explore the theme further.

Hope you like it!

Celebrations for the princess' return were beginning to die down, enough so that Flynn actually felt comfortable walking through the streets again. Well, almost. There was no way to escape the accusing looks thrown his way as he walked.

Stuffing his hands in his pockets, Flynn looked up at the clouds, musing. It was seriously strange to be able to walk the streets – actually walk them – and not worry about being arrested. It was amazing how Maximus' change of heart affected the life Flynn was allowed to live.

A building caught his eye, and Flynn couldn't help but stop and stare at it, taking in the dilapidated, dirty windows thoughtfully. His eyes running over the tired, worn out bricks, the shingles that were coming loose from the roof, the window panes that, he could remember, creaked any time someone opened or closed the windows.

Sighing uncomfortably, Flynn almost took a step forward – he wondered if Old woman Betty was still the caretaker for the place. And then, he grimaced and hurriedly walked away.

A few hours later, Flynn was sitting beside a lake, moodily tossing pebbles into the water. It had shocked him to see the old orphanage, but he almost thought it was something that was necessary. He needed the reminder of who he was and... Who he wasn't.

Sighing morosely, he threw his arms behind his head and fell back so that he was looking up at the sky, a sky that was a perfect happy-blue as if trying to mock him in his melancholy state.

Who had he been kidding? Did he think he'd be able to stay with her in the palace? That his relationship with her would be accepted? Sure, the Queen had pulled him in to their family hug ... But hadn't that just been because she'd been so relieved to see her daughter again?

The past week had been amazing, to say the least. He hadn't known Rapunzel all too well when he'd fallen in love with her, and so when she'd revealed her talent at painting, her capability with puzzles, or her skill with cooking, he'd been astounded and, just a little, proud – Who'd have ever thought it, Flynn Rider ... In love with a woman of many talents.

And the time spent with Rapunzel had been like living a daydream, filled with laughter and happiness the kind of which Flynn hadn't felt for years – quite possibly since the days spent at the Orphanage, in fact. But, as with all daydreams, the blissful ignorance he'd spent his days in had come to an end.

Flynn's eyes narrowed with something akin to regret as he realised what he had to do. If he were actually Flynnigan Rider, perhaps he could have stayed with her forever, perhaps he could have even lived happily ever after.

But he wasn't. He wasn't even Flynn Rider – He was Eugene Fitzherbert. Orphaned at the age of eight, and professional thief since the age of twelve. There was no way he could stay with Princess Rapunzel, no matter how much he yearned for it to be that way.

Swallowing down the lump in his throat, Flynn forced himself to walk up the palace steps, trying very hard to ignore the glares of the guards as he went. He saw that a few hands convulsively tightened around their spears as he passed though, and Flynn supposed it must be difficult for them to let him walk by, they had spent the better half of his life trying to chase him down and capture him after all – even as a child he'd proven to be evasive.

Well, Flynn thought ruefully as he pushed the doors open, they won't need to worry about that for much longer, will they?

He didn't need to search for Rapunzel, he just needed to follow the sound of her happy singing. As he wandered up the halls, allowing his ears to guide him, Flynn briefly thought that it was almost strange, to him, that she was still singing the healing incantation. Then again, did she know any other songs?

Once he came to the room from which he could hear her, Flynn couldn't make his feet move. Nothing could deny that what he was about to do, was the absolute last thing he wanted to do. He wanted – god's how he wanted – to be able to stay here with her – to wake up of a morning and see her bright and cheerful face, to discover what other talents she had, to simply get to know her.

But then a guard sauntered past and glared at Flynn, his hand coming to rest against his sword as though wishing he could impale him with it. Flynn's eyes narrowed angrily as the guard went by – if it weren't for people like that, maybe he could have stayed with Rapunzel. The kingdom would never be able to look beyond his past though, and so, for Rapunzel's sake, he had to remove himself from the picture.

Quite suddenly, there was a wet intrusion in his ear, and Flynn instinctively shrieked and slapped a hand over his ear with shock. Slowly, he turned his gaze to the yellow-coloured chameleon on the wall next to him.

"Pascal, you little frog you!" Flynn growled softly, still twisting a finger to get rid of the feeling of wetness in his ear. Pascall simply snickered at Flynn's reaction before tottering away and into the room, and Flynn froze as he heard Raunzel call out "Eugene?" from the adjoining room.

Sighing heavily, Flynn realised, like it or not, the time had come, and he barely had time to adjust his face into a smile before Rapunzel swang into the room, her hand clutching at the door frame, a broad smile on her face.

"I was starting to wonder where you'd gone!" she said, skipping over to him, and Flynn could hardly breathe from the pressure on his chest. Her beauty hit him as strongly as it had the first time he'd seen her, and all he felt as he thought of leaving her was objection. He didn't want to go anywhere, he loved this woman!

"Ah, yeah," he shrugged, trying to find his resolve once more. "I just needed some space, you know. The, er, paint fumes were starting to get to me."

"Really?" Rapunzel hummed, her head tilting as she thought, "I didn't even notice it was that strong. Maybe I should give it a rest for a few days then," she added with a laugh.

"Maybe..." Flynn wanted to go see what it was she'd painted this time, but he also felt that if he stepped in that room, he wouldn't be able to convince himself to leave. "Rapunzel," he started, but was cut off.

"Oh! Mother wanted to know when you were back! She wanted to ask you which room you wanted," she gushed excitedly, and Flynn felt as though he'd been punched in the stomach seeing her expression. Her words simply made him more certain he was doing the right thing, though. "I should go tell her!"

Rapunzel made to run past, so caught up in her excitement, that she only jerked to a halt as Flynn took hold of her arm, only then did Rapunzel seem to realise there was something wrong with him. "Eugene? What is it?" she asked, her hand coming to rest on his chest with concern.

Softly, the words still refusing to leave, Flynn told her, "I can't stay here Rapunzel."

"What? What do you mean? Of course you can! Mother said I can even paint the room up for you and-."

"No, you don't understand!" It was easier to seem angry than it was to allow Rapunzel to see how much the words killed him. "I can't stay here!"

His tone instantly softened as he risked meeting Rapunzel's eyes and saw the utter confusion in her eyes, the bewildered expression, her smile slipping from her lips slowly.

"Why?" she asked him, her tone as soft as his had originally been. Her hand fell from his chest as though she no longer had the strength to hold it there, and Flynn had to fight hard against his want to take hold of it, to try and assure her it would be alright.

"I don't belong here Rapunzel," he turned around so he couldn't see the tears welling up in his eyes. "This isn't the life I was meant to have. I'm a nobody, you – you're the princess. Every body loves you, they're overjoyed you're back – but me? They hate the fact I'm with you ... It's better this way. I don't belong with -"

"With me?" Rapunzel's voice hitched, and Flynn jerked around to look at her before he could stop himself. Tears were slipping down her cheeks, but Rapunzel's eyes were narrowed with anger, her mouth was pulled tight.

"...Yes." Flynn breathed, and he hated it. Hated he was being forced to speak these words, absolutely loathed the fact that she was crying, and that it was because of him.

"Is it the hair?" she asked at length, and Flynn almost fell over in his shock as she continued, "Cause, there's this thing I've heard of where I can turn it back to blonde and-"

"Absolutely not!" he cut her off firmly, "The brown suits you!"

"Then, why?" Rapunzel forced herself to take a breath, before asking with a voice that quivered, "What happened to your dream?"

In that moment, Flynn felt as though something within him had shattered, and he instinctively knew it was his heart. Hesitantly, knowing full well that he shouldn't, Flynn raised a hand to touch Rapunzel's cheek – she slapped away the hand before it could touch her.

Flynn looked at her, his eyes filled with regret, wanting her to understand how sorry he was. "I'll always hold that dream. But this is the real world, and thieves don't get the princess."

He almost ran back out the door to escape Rapunzel's broken hearted expression, and it was only with extreme self-control that Flynn managed to walk semi-calmly back into the corridor and out the door.

As soon as that door closed behind him, however, Flynn was running as though he was being chased down by the royal guards once more, earning more than one surprised look from the guards as they watched him go.

Two weeks later, Flynn was holding a tankard of ale in his hands at the Wicked Sister, his eyes focused on the liquid though he didn't see it all – his mind's eye was watching a girl dance with flowers in her hair.

"Honey, no matter how long you stare at the thing, it's never going to successfully drown your sorrows," the barmaid said to him. Her voice was nasally, and her eyes were brown like mud, her hair black – nothing at all like who Flynn wished he could see.

"It's worked so far," he countered petulantly before taking a swig of the drink.

Flynn didn't even look up as the door opened – it was a bar, the door opened and closed constantly – though, had he been paying attention at all, he would have realised the bar suddenly went quiet with shock.

He wasn't paying attention though, Flynn was still looking down into his drink morosely, trying to figure out why fate was even crueller than Mother Gothel had been. And then a hand took hold of his shoulder and Flynn instinctually pulled his arm back to punch whoever it was.

Until he saw that it was the King and his arm dropped to his side uselessly, Flynn looking up into the King's face with horror. Had her father hunted him down to kill him for breaking her heart? Flynn almost laughed. Death would actually be a kind release right now. He'd been nothing but useless since running away those weeks ago.

"You've been difficult to find, Flynn Rider – or, should I call you Eugene Fitzherbert?"

Flynn swallowed convulsively at the anger on Rapunzel's father's face. "Flynn's good..." he squeaked, vaguely wondering if he wanted to kill him ... why hadn't the King just sent the royal guard after him? They would have been more than happy to do the job for him.

The King, however, took in Flynn's bedraggled appearance and sighed – Flynn realised belatedly he hadn't shaved, or brushed his hair since he'd left the palace ... Had he even bathed? The days were truly a blur to him right then.

"You look horrible," the King said unhelpfully and Flynn almost retorted indignantly, until the King turned to the barmaid and asked, "I'll need use of the bath ... and a razor," and Flynn looked at him with complete uncertainty – what was he planning?

The bar-maid scurried off with an "of course," setting about locating a free wash room. Only after she vanished did the King look back to Flynn, casting a glance over his shoulder at the still hushed room which quickly began buzzing again.

Sitting down with the air of someone who'd just been on a long journey, the King pulled Flynn's ale out of his hand and pushed it out of reach.

"Like I said, you have been one elusive bastard," the King repeated, and Flynn was highly surprised to hear the most powerful man of the kingdom use language more common around ... well, bars like the one they were in.

"Well ... It comes from practise," Flynn replied, completely confused and looking at the King with a bewildered expression still on his face. "So, uh ... Why the bath?" Sure, he was probably over due but, why would the King bother himself with that and ... Flynn flinched as he wondered why the King was looking for him in the first place.

The King must have been reading his expression, cause a few seconds later he said, "I'm sure you're wondering why I've been looking for you?"

Briefly wondering if he had mind-reading powers, Flynn answered, "Well, you could say that ..." and then, hesitantly, he added, "Why have you?"

"Because you – my boy – are coming with me."

I knew it, I'm dead, Flynn silently whimpered, but as he continued to look at the King, he realised that he looked more like someone who was exhausted, and at a loss what to do, not an angered monarch seeking vengeance.

"Your ... Majesty?" Flynn sounded uncertainly – he hadn't tried to speak to the King personally before. Much to his surprise, the King scoffed and looked affronted at the formal term.

"For heaven's sake boy, call me William."

"William, seriously?" The King ... William, simply looked at Flynn as though daring him to comment further, and Flynn wisely chose not to, instead he blurted, "Are you here to kill me?"

William looked at the ex-thief with shock for a moment, before bursting into booming laughter. "Hardly!" he snorted through the laughter, and Flynn looked at him with concern. Why else would he be going back to the palace?

Despite his better judgement, Flynn felt momentarily elated at the possibility of seeing Rapunzel again, until he remembered why he'd left and her expression as he'd left.

She probably hates me, Flynn sighed, his eyes burning with the pain he could feel within them. Much to his surprise, the King clapped him on the shoulder.

"Hardly," he said cryptically, and Flynn startled as he realised William was commenting on his thought.

"Hey! Are you reading my mind or something?" Flynn snarled, bristling at the intrusion. His thoughts had been the one thing that had been his alone and ... William was looking at him as though concerned for his mental health.

"You said that aloud... How much have you had to drink Flynn?"

Flynn decided that William did not need to know that he'd hardly stopped since leaving, and he was saved from answering the question by the barmaid running over to them, gasping "The bath is ready, your highness."

"Thankyou Patricia," Flynn was stunned into silence at the revelation that the King knew the barmaid by name. How often did he come to this place? It wasn't exactly a bar with a good reputation! "And now you," William glared at Flynn, "are going to clean yourself up, and then we're going back."

William's glare was intent enough that Flynn didn't even think about protesting, he just sidled past the bar and followed Patricia up the stairs and into a well-kept wash room, much cleaner than the ones he was used to.

The ride back was silent, even if he was riding atop Maximus – the horse's greeting towards him was hoofing him in the stomach again. And Flynn understood the message behind it clearly: Idiot – now, as he rode next to William, Flynn couldn't help but worry about whatever the King had planned.

"I don't understand," Flynn said at length. "Why are you taking me back?"

William looked over at him with a brow cocked, and for a moment Flynn felt as though he were being examined from the inside out. "You'll have to wait and see. Perhaps then you'll understand."

Flynn scowled, wondering if being cryptic was a family trait, before blurting, "But I don't belong in your world! I'm an orphan boy!"

William cut across Flynn's tirade before he even had a chance to begin, "Yes – You're Eugene Fitzherbert. Orphan from the age of eight, after your parents died from the plague. You read stories of Flynnigan Rider to the younger children, idolising him for the wealth and prosperity he had. You turned to thievery after the Orphanage struggled to pull in enough food to feed all of the sixteen orphans living there and – oh, I'm sure there's something I forgot ... That's right. You're also the man who risked his life to save my daughter and bring her back to us," William finished with a sniff, fixing Flynn with a stern expression.

Flynn's jaw was open with shock and he was looking at the King was an entirely new perspective. "How the hell did you know all that?" he demanded once he was able to speak again.

"Please," William sighed as he rolled his eyes, "I'm the King, it's easy for me to get information about everyone and anyone," then he hesitated and added in a bewildering tender tone that Flynn couldn't understand, "I can understand why you don't feel like you belong in out world, Flynn. But, you need to know that neither myself nor my wife care for your past, or even about the whispers that circle the town about your relationship with my daughter. She wants you, and how can we possibly deny her anything that would make her happy after all this time?"

Stunned into silence, Flynn didn't know what to say. He wanted to say thankyou, but it felt too petty. They were turning a blind eye to his past ... simply because Rapunzel wanted him?

"So, what? If she decides she doesn't want me anymore, you'll throw me off to the gallows?" Flynn asked in an off-hand tone, hoping to alleviate the strange atmosphere surrounding him and William now.

The king threw his head back and burst into laughter once more, and again Flynn stared at him with complete and utter bewilderment, a bewilderment that turned to irritation as Max neighed out his amusement as well. Flynn kicked into the horse's sides with his heels, which meant that Max reared his head back, grinning as he hit Flynn's shoulder.

"Stupid horse," Flynn muttered, before looking over at William with concern, the King was still chortling.

"Oh, dear boy. Just you wait and see..." he said, trailing off cryptically once more and Flynn raised an eyebrow at the smile on William's face.

And then he realised they were right outside the palace, and Flynn felt the colour drain from his face – how could he face her again after what happened?

William smiled fondly as he noticed Flynn's discomfort, remembering how he himself felt back in the days when he wooed Claire as a plain peasant boy.

"Come along then," he huffed, sliding off his horse. Flynn was frozen in place though, and Maximus snorted before jolting him off, neighing out his irritation with Flynn.

Flynn watched with horror as Max whined, jerked his head in the direction of the palace, then whined again as he looked back down at Flynn, who was still sprawled on the floor from being jolted off the horse. "How can I go in there Max?" he whispered, his hands trembling as he took hold of Max's nose, the horse nudging against his cheek comfortingly.

The shifting of clothing caught Flynn's attention and he looked to his side where William had crouched down, his eyes sympathetic. "Trust me," he said softly as he took hold of Flynn's shoulder and hoisting him up to his feet, "You'll feel better once you see what I want to show you."

Nodding numbly, Flynn took a deep breath and then, with a final glance at Max – who was tapping his hoof impatiently – he walked back into the palace doors, his eyes darting around searching for Rapunzel. It was strange how he dreaded seeing her, and at the same time ... wanted nothing more than to see her.

Cautiously, Flynn followed William, who constantly stopped and looked over his shoulder, making sure the ex-thief was still there. As he walked, Flynn looked with wonder at the intricate paintings that filled the hallways now – where everything had once been beige, there were rainbows and waterfalls, stars that winked at him, rivers that looked real enough you could almost smell the water.

"These are amazing," he breathed, pausing to place a hand on one, only to jerk back seconds later realising his hand was now covered in blue. Flynn looked at the river and cringed as he saw that there was now a large hand print in the middle of it. "Whoops."

"Don't worry about it, she re-paints them at least once a week," William said, shrugging, though his eyes took in the scenes and Flynn could see the way he swelled with pride. And then, the King turned and continued walked down hallways Flynn hadn't seen during his brief stay here before.

Finally, William stopped outside a room and gestured at the doorway. Flynn glanced at the door, back at the King, and then, with another deep breath, Flynn stepped into the room.

The first impression he had was that he'd stepped into a room filled with mirrors, and then he realised that wasn't quite true. There were paintings all over the walls – paintings of him from all sorts of angles, and revealing all sorts of expressions.

He raised a hand to one painting in which he was smiling and laughed once, all sorts of emotions running through him at the sight. When had she done these? But then he turned slightly and caught sight of another painting, one that drove the thought of the others completely from his mind as he wandered towards it with wonder.

It covered an entire wall, and was a replica of the night he'd taken Rapunzel to see the floating lanterns. The sight of it made his breath catch in his throat and he impulsively raised a hand – the one that wasn't covered in blue – to Rapunzel's figure. There was but one difference between the painting and the night they'd seen the lanterns.

Rapunzel's hair was brown and shoulder-length.

As he stood there, he thought he understood what William had wanted to tell him and he realised that, not only did he want to see Rapunzel, he needed to see her. Right then.

William took a step back and allowed Flynn to run past, calling out "Right where you left her," as he went. Flynn glanced back to nod once with understanding before sprinting to the room.

Once outside it, Flynn felt fear grip his heart – There was no way she was going to be happy to see him again after their last encounter. But the Lantern-painting urged him on and Flynn stepped into the room, his eyes searching all around for the sight of the woman he loved more than anything,

The first thing that caught his eye, however, was a green blur leaping at him, and Flynn instinctively caught it before Pascal could bite his nose. Instantly, the chameleon began to shriek at him, very clearly telling him off even if Flynn couldn't understand the words he used.

The next thing that caught Flynn's attention was the sudden pain he felt as a paint-covered board collided with his head. "Ow," he groaned as the board slid down, revealing a purple, black and blue faced Flynn, his mouth pulled into a grimace as he took in Rapunzel's form.

As he'd expected, she was pissed off – something that became increasingly evident as she threw the paintbrush at him too. "You! You dare come back here?" she shrieked, looking for something else to hurl at him.

Flynn sighed and put Pascal down on the armchair beside him, the Chameleon nipping at his hand before Flynn pulled it away, and then he started walking towards Rapunzel, quickly scanning the room for a frying pan, just in case she felt like throwing it at him too.

"Just give me a second to explain," Flynn told her, though he had no idea how to explain his actions.

"Explain?" Rapunzel repeated, her tone incredulous as she looked at him haughtily, "I think you did enough of that before!"

Once he was close enough, using his thief-reflexes, Flynn caught Rapunzel's wrist and tugged her to him, wrapping his arms tight around her before she could wriggle away – though she was trying hard to do just that anyway.

"Let me go," she hissed, her eyes swimming with tears again.

Flynn simply told her, "No," his voice soft and thick with emotion – there was no way in the world he was going to let her go again.

She paused for a moment, then fought against him even harder than before. So much so that Flynn had to lock his wrists together to keep her there within his hold – and now that she was there, he was not going to let her escape him again, even if the only reason she escaped in the first place was because he was an idiot.

Eventually, Rapunzel gave up fighting and simply sagged against his chest, her arms still stiff by her sides. "Why are you here?" she asked, her own voice thick with confusion, sorrow and anger.

"Because I was an idiot," Flynn told her without hesitation, and Rapunzel looked up at him sceptically. "I was an idiot who thought he was doing the right thing, for your sake."

Rapunzel opened her mouth to say something, something that was clearly going to be an angered retort by the slant of her eyebrows, so – now that he didn't think she was going to run away – Flynn unlocked his wrists and pressed a hand to her mouth to forestall the words.

"I'm a thief Rapunzel, your people aren't going to accept a thief with their princess.

"I couldn't care less what the people think!" Rapunzel snapped, and Flynn jolted with surprise at the growl in her tone, then her fists began beating into his chest as her head fell to his shoulder. "I just want to be with you! You think I'd dreamt about being a princess? No! I dreamt of being with you, Eugene!"

The gentle sound of a plip on the tiled floor alerted Flynn to the tears Rapunzel was crying and his heart clenched as he realised, once again, she was crying because of him.

He paused for a moment, and then said, "Whoever this Eugene guy is, he sounds like an idiot for leaving you," as he tightened his hold around Rapunzel again, resting his cheek atop her head, berating himself for ever having convincing himself it was better to leave.

"He is. A great big moron," Rapunzel muttered, her arms slowly winding around Flynn's waist, and he couldn't help but smile with relief as she did so.

"Mmm ... What if he promised he wasn't planning to go anywhere again? Would you consider forgiving him then?"

Flynn waited with baited breath as Rapunzel hummed thoughtfully, and then she sighed. "I might consider it. If he made a Rapunzel-promise not to do it again."

Slowly, Rapunzel's head shifted so that she could look up at Flynn, her eyes tentatively hopeful. Flynn wiped away the remaining tears tenderly, before placing a finger under her chin and tilting her head back further.

Just as he lowered his own down to the point that he could feel Rapunzel's breath fan out over his mouth, Flynn told her, "Promise," before pressing his lips to hers.

Seconds later there was a giant Clang and a sharp pain on the side of his head. Jerking back to rub at his head, Flynn looked at Rapunzel with shock – there was a frying pan in her hand.

"Don't you ever do that to me again," she snarled, before taking hold of his shirt collar and pulling him in for another kiss.

I'm kind of in love with bad-ass Rapunzel ... Or, bad ass any heroine, really ...

Well, anyway, I hope you enjoyed 3