It is not every cockcrow that a flagrant thief gets to tie the knot with a beloved princess, but the first blush of August 18th is dovetailed with connubial bliss in the Chapel of Corona. The sun grins behind plumed helmets and bronze epaulets that wink with its reflection in the pith of the nave. Ruddy cheeks and ringlet-curled wigs occupy the ribboned pews under the arcade. Eugene Fitzherbert stands on the altar with a nutcracker's fineness, nervous yet over the moon about ending his life to begin what will be the adventures of theirs. Daughters, young and old, ginger and brunette, some wearing wealth and others wearing poverty, flap their mothers' skirts to get them to feast their eyes upon the narthex.
There, in the sunny entrance, smiles the equator of Eugene's world. He holds back happy tears as adoration fills his chest with passion made anew. His soul mate is gowned in sunlight and silk as pure as her own heart, which is a raiment he loves more than silk itself. Her brave hands hold a waterfall of Stargazer and Easter lilies under her bosom. Flashing on her hazel head is the burnished fate that had brought them together.
Like the tiara of sunshine she has always been in his blue sky, she curls her arm around her father's and floats down the aisle with élan, inspiring the canaries in Eugene's rib cage to sing hymeneals. Never has she appeared more majestic than as she flowed from the vestibule and into the chapel's holy kernel, and those who adore her are amazed to watch how her beauty shines outwards like the halo in which she is enrobed. After the veiled sun ray ascends the altar, she turns and faces her best friend.
Eugene's heart sprouts wings. He has to readjust his grip on his wrist to stop both hands from flinging back her veil and drawing her into a kiss that whimpers, "From the very first moment that I laid eyes on you as you enchanted a whole kingdom with your magic, I knew that I had found my inspiration, my best friend, and my new dream. I have fallen in love with you over, and over, and over, every single day since that moment.
You're the strongest and most positive person I've ever met, if not the most noble person I've ever known. Even in the darkest times, you thrive like a magic golden flower. With you I feel appreciated, safe, heard, and accepted for who I really am. You've shown me what living actually looks like and what type of man I can be, as well as the type of man I want to become for myself and our little us (or us-es). Your arms are not only my favorite place to be on earth, but the warmest home I've never had.
You're my better half, my hero, my purpose, the very sunshine that feeds me Vitamin D and serotonin , and I still can't believe that I actually get to marry you, Rapunzel. I promise to be loyal to you, to uplift and support you, to guide and challenge you, to protect and pamper you, to annoy and comfort you, and to love every inch of you with every inch of me."
A smile touches the lips behind the lace veil. Tears begin to smile behind Eugene's eyes. To keep the waterworks at bay, he repeats the vows in his head while pouring his love into her curtained countenance.
"Dearly Beloved," the bishop flutes, "we are gathered here today to celebrate the joining of Elsa and Eugene in marriage."
A dolly-zoom effect pulls the background away and homes in on Eugene's face. His small pupils gun down the bishop. "...What?"
The bishop goes on like the script for this scene has already been rewritten and approved, "To Your feet thy fealty brings, redeemed, reborn, and transformed―"
Eugene breathlessly looks back at his wife-to-be. "Rapun-zel...?!" The hands he had been fettering are freed from their clasp to ruck up the veil. "Ra-pun-zel―...!"
Underneath the lifted lace hangs Queen Elsa's head.
"―two outlaws who have rinsed themselves of their crimes through their indentureship to Your kingdoms," finishes the bishop.
Eugene's fingers loosen, staggering back, shaking. Elsa's eyelashes, which are glued together by tears, feather cheeks that hold the same hue rosing her pink lips and beglittered eyelids. Inch by inch, Rapunzel's impostor hoists her chin with the bravery of a rebel facing her guillotine in the name of honor, and then hoists her lids at half-mast to bare her misery to Eugene.
...This isn't happening...
Oxygen stops being pipelined to his brain. The stuffy voice inside tells him to breathebreathebreathe goddamnit youhavetobreathe, to get―the―hell out of here and―find―Rapunzel, but his limbs don't belong to him anymore. A power beyond his own authority in the kingdom of his bones has colonized them, and there is no escaping it.
...Th-Th-This isn't actually HAPPENING!
Saliva peels off Elsa's lips as she parts them, but a shudder tumbles out in speech's place. The white lake of cleavage under her collarbone balloons against her bodice as her gaze slumps to Eugene's throat. His echoes the movement, gorging on what is unmistakably a noose. He can neither articulate his terror nor move his body to do away with the nemesis. The only muscles he can command are the six in his eyeballs that pilot his panic towards the hand holding the end of the rope.
"Let's get this over with, Rider."
The arm of the Captain of the Guard tugs while his other hand pushes up the slip knot, snapping the rope straight.
"Mmrph!" Eugene's throat pushes back against the noose's bite, bobbing with trapped oxygen like a balloon with a metal ring around it. "H-Hmph...!" Tears that had once been born from happiness sheet his vision with fear.
Wh-Why is this...h-happen'ning...?
Double images float together and drift apart in a distorted dance.
Rap-pun...zel....Rapunzel, where...where are you, Rapunzel?!
Elsa's reaction to Eugene's strangulation is helplessness.
There is no objection, no rescue, no succor provided by her at all, just some powerless display of submission to the macabre that renders her even more useless to him than he.
Wh-Why aren't you h-helping me...?! Why aren't a single one of you helping me?!
The bishop appeals the brutally silent audience with an easy smile, "Who giveth this monster to be married to this rat?"
"I," baaes a character that Eugene has never heard before.
He searches, stretching the blood vessels in his eyes as he does, and lands on King Agnarr's grimace. The monarch is encased in the skin of a dead sailor, lips so blue as to be purple, and fingertips so purple as to be red. Sea foam bubbles up from his veined throat and speeds down his chin, pitter-pattering against his toes in long, sudsy ropes of spit. Eugene screams against his own teeth, but much like the bishop, the king is concentrated on the ceremony and little else.
"After a drumfire of untoward events," the bishop recites, "our kingdom was ravaged by the Great Famine and the Bovi Fever in 1847. "
―1847?! Wh-What're you―
"Since there is no duer debt than Arendelle's vow to forfend Corona, a union has been negotiated between both delegations to reinstate Corona and forestall enemy invasion from the Southern Isles on the account that Arendelle represent our foreign affairs, pay our debts, fortify our militarization, nurture our natural resources, and deliver our forsaken country from bane."
Eugene weepingly looks for deliverance in Rapunzel's parents, for answers, for help. The sternness that anneals their visages augurs a wicked fate. Corona's once good people, whom are no longer healthy or merry neither in body nor temperament, gaze upon his suffering without a murmur about its injustice. All they project is the callosity of bystanders who are inured to public executions. Eugene's eyelids clamp shut, pushing the tears against their hoods until they're able to escape down his goatee in skid marks.
"In acknowledgement of this just and reasonable cause, the Bishops of Corona and Arendelle have supported a dispensation of incestuous affinity laws in order to allow matrimony between Queen Elsa of Arendelle, cousin of the late Queen Rapunzel, and King Eugene of Corona, former consort of the late Queen Rapunzel."
Bloodshot eyes jump open. Grey matter erodes. Dies.
"Her Late Majesty suffered one miscarriage and one stillbirth during her season as Crown Princess."
The nerves between Eugene's eyebrows convulse.
―No, th-that's...that's a lie!―
"In 1846, pregnancy complications compromised her last expectancy to a degree in correspondence with her late mother's―"
―You're lying! It isn't true!―
"―but it was blood loss that ultimately took her life."
―She wouldn't―...she'd n-never....
He's sobbing now, sobbing even though he's the only one who can hear it.
She wouldn't leave me here all alone...
"It is said in the Book of Enlightenment that if a husband dies having no children, his kinsman must marry the widow and go inside her to raise up offspring for him. If a wife dies having no children, her kinswoman must marry the widower and let him go inside her to raise up offspring for her. If a man dies leaving young children behind, his kinsman must marry the widow and raise up his offspring for him. If a woman dies leaving young children behind, her kinswoman must marry the widower and raise up her offspring for her."
Air curdles into petroleum with each second that ticks by. Eugene’s chest feels hard, as if it is filling up with grout and tar calcified together, doomed to break open and collapse. He doesn't expect, nor want, to respond and keep the topic flowing into this smutty direction. He wants to escape the responsibility of living. He wants his wife.
According to the damp, flittering eyelashes of Queen Elsa, who all but keeps her head forward like a celestial priestess, the supporting actress in this nightmare is fighting the exact same desire, if not the very iceberg in her throat.
"Collaterally, the marriage between Princess Anna and her consort is a morganatic union, in which neither the spouse who entered with nothing nor any of his children will chair Arendelle. Queen Elsa is therefore obligated to fulfill her responsibilities in favor of her Crown's male-preference primogeniture. This conjugality between Queen Elsa of Arendelle and King Eugene of Corona, united with the prospective conjugality between the Storting and the People's Council, will reward the contract between Rapunzel and Eugene Fitzherbert with preservation, prosperity, and posterity."
Seizuring and crying without sound, Eugene transfers his waterlogged attention to Elsa's hands. The infamous death-dealers are sealed inside iron gibbets that strike his sensitivities with stomach-sickness. Where the lilies have gone alongside his true love are foregrounded on his catalog of concerns when he notices the hand holding Elsa's chains.
"Elsa is preferable, of course."
...It can't be...
The arm of Prince Hans tugs, snapping the chains straight so that Elsa's side is yanked against his chest. A gloved hand wrestles her face still and squeezes it like a hateful husband reprimanding his wife. Hans puckers her cheeks inwards with his pointer and thumb, smiling erotically at the sound of her grunts. His swordfish nose wanders down the path that trails from Elsa's blue temple vein to her throbbing eyelid. The smirk on his mouth tickles the quivering corner of hers as he purrs, "Wouldn't you agree, Flynn Rider?"
A familiar feeling blinds Eugene then ― a feeling that he has always hated this man and would sooner see him jugulated than redeemed in the nave of any church, because somehow, this is all his doing. Eugene wriggles madly within his own skeleton, but the actual body fails to budge. With the obedience of a circus animal, Elsa does nothing except exist in the refuge behind her eyelids until Hans unhands her for good, and with the ignorance of a blind officiant, the bishop does nothing to acknowledge the carnival of perversions except continue forth in his own morbid little way:
"No matter what challenges you face, you will now face them together, and no matter how much you suffer, you will now suffer together."
Hans and King Agnarr share the duty of unclasping Elsa's gibbets, both removing each with the polite smiles of relatives meeting each other for the first time.
The bishop's bible closes with the sound of a death knell. "You may kiss the bride."
Soppy music plays. Elsa, who is also crying without sound, steps forward in her lace bridal gown. She pushes the noose up and over Eugene's head, making his cowlicks point at the ceiling. His legs shake as the rope slithers into a pile on the floor. He can't tell if he's gazing into her eyes; the canvas they peer out of is fuzzy and misshapen behind the pall of tears soaking his beard, but he can feel her cold fingernails stripping his wet forelock off his cheek like dried glue from a patch of skin.
He can feel her cupping his jaw and smearing away the tears under his swollen eyelids with her thumbs. He can feel the mucus in his nostrils skating down the groove of his mouth and settling inside the cleft. Elsa inches closer, holding his eyes like a breath. He tics his head, lips bobbing in an attempt to beg. Elsa's consciousness rolls shut as her mouth presses against his the way snow presses against the earth.
The atmosphere around Eugene freezes and breaks. Frost percolates through her kiss and penetrates his teeth with the sting of one hundred needles heated by fire at the tips. He weeps louder, feeling the air in his lungs crystallize into ice floes.
Elsa pries her lips off his with such sticky sensuality that the queen does not seem to be the queen anymore. "Once to numb you from the cold," she whispers, breath pluming out of her mouth in a cloud of dewy mist that curls under his teeth. Her finger reaches up and traces the vein pulsating next to his eyebrow. "Another to make you forget."
A burning flood of red bleeds into Eugene's face from the pressure of her jaws bearing down on him again. He can feel every slobbery bud on her mushy tongue, every ribbed ridge on the roof of her mouth, and every drop of salt leaving his eye to melt between their mashed lips. Elsa's hands squeeze his face as she inhales him, both his soul and his sense, sucking and licking the frozen lobes of his brain with hunger. Supple fingers peregrinate his torso before his thigh, but he doesn't have the sobriety to be unaroused. The prickly sensation of rime growing on his arteries numbs his heart completely.
And then his sense of self slips.
He doesn't have a name, or past. The letters of Rapunzel's grow foggier, the pronunciation of it unfathomable. The R goes first; then the a and the p, the u and the n, the z, the e...until there's nothing else. Nothing but a snowflake twinkling in the dark, where a quasar of its sisters awaits him in the form of a portal opening under his feet.
"Can you hear me, Your Majesty?!"
"Your Majesty, please open your eyes!"