hello, all. here's another oneshot i fixed up while listening to kiss me slowly by parachute on repeat. honestly, go listen to it. it's such a beautiful song. kudos goes out to my beta, kaitlin, for showing me the song. yeah. she'd beta'd this. well, actually, she yelled at me for keeping her up late reading this with immense sadness. her only criticism was to make it a lemon. i thought about it. i did. ;)

anyway. enjoy.

story inspired by parachute's "kiss me slowly".

disclaimer: dont own tangled.

Kiss Me Slowly

"You leave the castle tomorrow, Mr. Fitzherbert."

He held his head in his hands in defeat. He curled in on himself to stop the churning pain he felt in the pit of his stomach.

"There must be some way out of this.."

"There isn't."

He wanted to scream. He wanted to punch something. Hard.

"This isn't fair to her-"

"It's law."

He wanted to run. He wanted to scoop her up in his arms, hold her close, and just run.

"Forget the dammed law! I will not let you stupid people make her marry someone she doesn't want to marry!"

He wanted to cry.

He got up from the edge of his bed and walked out onto the balcony that was connected to the side of his room. The cold air of the winter season hit him like a slap in the face. And that's what he felt like life was doing to him now. Slapping him in the face. Punching him in the gut. Stabbing him in the side. Again.

He leaned gripped the railing in his hands and looked up to the sky. There wasn't a cloud in sight. It was that brilliant dark blue; dotted with thousands upon thousands of tiny stars. The air had that silence you only heard in the winter. Nothing except the occasional faint whistle of the wind as it blew past his ears and made him shiver. It was the perfect night, though; the kind he had stayed up late for many times before while he held his princess close as she told him about the stars.

He closed his eyes in pain, his hands gripping the stone railing. His princess. His princess. Not the castle's. Or the kingdom's. Or that stupid prince's.

His princess. Eugene Fitzherbert's princess.

He rested his elbows on the stone and held his face in his hands. He just didn't know what to do. He always knew what to do, and right now, he felt like he was letting her down. He had promised her that he would fix any problem she had. Anything.

And he couldn't do anything to stop this.

He groaned and slid down to sit on the ground, laying against the railing; looking out to the kingdom in front of him.

He could've been a prince consort. He would've taken the classes and the stupid business trips. He would've worn the stuffy collars and the poofy jackets. He would've walked around and shaken people's hands and kissed children's heads or whatever he had to do. He would've done it all. Just to be able to marry her. Just to be able to hold her in his arms when she woke up. Just to kiss her whenever he wanted.

But it didn't matter. Because no matter what they wanted, the law always had the last say.

"A prince or princess must marry someone of royal blood," he mumbled, knowing the law by memory. "No persons of lower authority may be able to take their hand in marriage."

They had tried everything in their power. They went to the courts, begging them to change it. Trying to explain that Flynn Rider was gone; that he died up in that stupid tower in the middle of the woods. But asking the court to allow Flynn Rider to rule their kingdom was like asking Rapunzel to stop painting. It wasn't going to happen.

So now, here they were. She was a week away from marrying some prince from a neighboring kingdom and he was being sent out of the castle. Sure, they got him a house and a stable income so he can feed himself, but at what cost? He would be living alone. He wouldn't be able to come home and see her smiling at him. He wouldn't be able to see her laugh. He would only see her from a distance on that new guy's arm.

Eugene had a chance to meet the guy and he was actually surprised, to be honest. He was very down to Earth and liked having fun. He was relieved to find out he wasn't some pompous idiot with a stuffy attitude. Eugene, him, and Rapunzel had all shared a few laughs. He was very understanding of Eugene and wasn't angry with him if he found them holding hands or his arms around her. They had actually had a few beers togethter as Eugene explained Rapunzel to him in precise detail. She's very energetic; be prepared to be a jungle gym. She's got a pet chameleon who's pretty cool, but don't let him get his tongue in your ear. Sometimes you gotta be slow with Rapunzel because she's learning so many new things at once. He had found himself explaining very small details to him. He wanted her to be with someone he could trust. He wanted to make sure this guy knew her nearly as well as he did.

So he wasn't nervous about leaving her on her own. Well, he was. He was afraid that something would happen to her that he wouldn't understand, and Eugene wouldn't be there to fix it. He got anxious just thinking about it. Hell, who was he kidding. He was terrified to leave her alone.

He was happy, though, that he could trust this guy to treat her right. He had seen them on their little garden dates or whatever they were. She seemed to enjoy his company, which made him happy and sad at the same time. It pained him to know that he should've been there, not that guy. But he sucked it up and smiled because Rapunzel was happy.

He wished he didn't have to leave the castle. The courts said it would be too 'innapropriate' for the princess's ex-boyfriend to still be living in the castle. They originally were just going to throw him out on the streets with nothing left. But Rapunzel was not going to let that happen. So now he had a house in the middle of town and they paid him a certain amount of money each month so he could feed himself. He tried to deny the money, but Rapunzel wouldn't budge. Stubborn thing, she was.

He got up from the ground and walked back into his room. He stood in the middle of the dark room, thinking. He should just try to get some sleep or maybe pack up the few items he had. He had to sort through all the paintings she'd made for him over the past year, but he knew he'd just take them all anyway. He could hang them up or something.

He walked over to where he kept the paintings, but gave up on the thought. That would just make things worse.

He sighed in frustration, running a hand through his hair. He knew exactly what he wanted to do, but knew he really shouldn't. It would make things much, much worse in the morning than he wanted to deal with. But he knew he wouldn't listen to himself.

So he wasn't surprised when he found his feet taking him out into the hallway and towards her room; only a few doors down.

He pushed open her door and snuck in. The room was illuminated by the very faint glow of what was left of the fire in her fireplace. He heard the chameleon snoring, and looked to see him curled up on the carpet in front of the fire. He smiled a bit. He would miss the little guy.

He walked over to her bed and sat down. She had her back turned to him, her body moving up and down every once in awhile as she slept.

The movement of the bed he created her to mumble something incoherant and shift so she was laying on her back. Her brown hair was sprawled out on her pillow and her lips were parted slightly. He closed his eyes tightly as he tried to imprint the image of her peaceful face in his mind. He would need that image when things went wrong. When he couldn't take the loneliness or the pain. He needed to remember that if she was calm, he could be calm, too.

She shifted, suddenly, and snuggled against his hip; a small smile appearing on her face. She hadn't woken up, though. He smiled sadly and rubbed his thumb lightly down her cheek.

He was going to miss her like nobody had missed anybody before. He would miss the way she smiled only for him. The way she rested her head on his shoulder when she was tired or the way she rubbed his knuckles when she was nervous. He'd miss the way she absentmindedly kissed his neck or ran her hand through his hair.

He was overcome with sadness, suddenly. His throat got thick and his eyes watered. He tried not to think the sentence out fully, in fear of a breakdown. In fear of reality showing its ugly head. But now, as he watched her, it showed itself. He would never get to be with the one he loved. He'd never get to marry her. He'd never get to have children with the woman that changed him completely.

He was going to be alone after tonight.

He pushed the hair out of her face as his vision was blurred by tears. He had promised himself he wouldn't cry throughout any of this. But he couldn't help it now, as reality set in. It was like a wave threatening to drown him completely.

He closed his eyes tightly, memorizing the feeling of her skin under his fingers. He absolutely refused to think that another pair of hands would be on her. Refused it. Because if he thought of that, he'd lose it completely.

As he opened his eyes, he saw a tear fall to land on her cheek. He wiped it away with his thumb and took deep breaths. He had to hold himself back until he left. Otherwise he'd wake her up. And she'd see him with his guard completely down. He couldn't put her through that pain.

But he was too late. He felt her stir and her eyes fluttered open in confusion.

"Eugene?" she whispered, her voice thick with sleep. He gave her a small smile.

"Yeah," he muttered, raising a hand to wipe the tears from his eyes. She looked at him and frowned, a sad smile on her lips.

"Oh, Eugene," she sat up and put her arms around his shoulder, pulling him close. "Eugene."

He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her with everything he had left. Tears silently streamed down his cheeks as he pressed his face into her neck. She intertwined her fingers in his hair and held him tighter.

No words were spoken. They didn't want to say anything. They just needed to feel each other one last time. One last time without any interruptions or silly classes or suitors or princes. No one coming to get her fitted for the wedding dress he'd never get to see her walking to him in. No one asking her what kind of flowers or cake they thought would work best. It was just Eugene and Rapunzel. They way it should be. The way it will never be again.

He could feel her body shaking with sobs. He wanted to just take her and run. They could. They could leave tonight and never come back. They could go somewhere far away. He could buy her a beautiful house and beautiful things and they'd be perfectly happy together. But she'd never do that. She loved her parents and her kingdom too much.

He pulled back and took her face in his hands. He couldn't take the sadness in them. He closed his eyes and pressed his forehead against hers.

"Don't leave me, Rapunzel," he whispered, his throat thick with the sadness that threatened to overtake him.

"I don't want to, Eugene. You know that."

He sighed, opening his eyes to look at her.

"You know I'll always love you," she smiled slightly. "Always. No matter what happens. You know that, right?"

He nodded lightly. "You will always be my new dream, Rapunzel. Always."

She laughed once and covered his hands with hers. "And you'll always be mine."

This was it. The last moment they'd share. He wouldn't be able to crawl into bed with her and fall asleep with her in his arms like he used to. He'd have to go back to his room. And leave in the morning.

He gripped her face and pulled her in for the last kiss they'd ever share. It wasn't an intense or passionate one, either. It was slow. The slowest kiss he'd ever had. He poured his heart and soul into the way his lips moved with hers. He wanted her to understand just how much he loved her and would miss her.

He held her for a long time that night. And in the morning as they said goodbye in the company of her new prince, they had to act like it never happened.

He didn't look back as he walked out the castle doors. He couldn't stand to let her see him cry like that.

The last thing he heard was the sobbing of the princess he would always love.

lazf, over and out. :)