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up the hooks like the wings of a moth. With a bit of difficulty, she pulls them all open again,
and in a flurry of spinning fabric, she grabs up the dress and throws it over her head. For a
moment she's completely obscured in a mass of green, then one hand appears followed by
another. She pulls her head out and shoves the dress down to rest on her hips.
She grins up at Eugene, looking far too proud of herself considering that her many layers of
skirts are all crumpled together so that the floor length dress barely reaches her knees. "I
just learned to do that," she says. "I never used to be able to put a dress on over my head."
Eugene has to help her straighten her skirts, and before he knows it, he's on his knees in
front of her, reaching under her dress to smooth one layer of netting after another. He's
helped with this kind of thing before - usually after a fling in a broom closet. Usually the girl
whose dress he's straightening tries to muffle her giggles and Eugene doesn't help at all by
trailing little kisses along her thigh. He notes that Rapunzel has very nice thighs, but he
resists the temptation to touch them.
She grins at him as he stands. It's not a come-hither grin or a grin flushed from the tingling
proximity of his warm hands. It's a grin of gratitude for a job well done and a grin of
triumph for their conquest over the dress.
He takes her by the shoulders and turns her around to provide assistance when it becomes
clear that, even though she now knows how they work, she still can't fix all the latches on
her back by herself. He marks the elegant column of her neck. It would be so easy to bury
his face against the junction of her throat and shoulder or her jaw just below her ear,
breathe her in, fill himself with her scent – warm and earthy and womanly. He imagines that
if he runs the pads of his fingers along the bare curve of her shoulder blade, he'll be able to
feel her shiver. He'll be able to hear her breath catch.
He pulls himself together and buttons up her dress.
A week later the door to his bedroom creeks open in the middle of the night and he sits up,
alert in the dark. He's generally a light sleeper, having been on the run and having spent
time with people who would stab him in the back just as fast as he would turn on them.
Since he moved into the palace the guards have taken to patrolling regularly past his room.
Their armor makes them clank as they walk and it wakes him up every time. But this
intrusion on his sleep is different.
"Who's there?"
"It's just me."