(0) Broken Wishbones
Category: Movie Crossover » Frozen | Tangled | Rise of the Guardians
Genres: Angst | Hurt » Comfort | Macabre | Violence | Adventure | Ideologically Sensitive Material
It is easier to rewrite yourself than it is to take authorship of the life you leave behind. An orphan wants to be more than his dirty hands; a princess wants to be more than her shaking fingers. One learns to survive through imitating a storybook swashbuckler; the other must imitate the crowned king in her picture frame.
Everyone loves a good show, but they don't care to know the sleepless nights it takes to rehearse them. After living under one expression practiced since childhood, how many bones must break in order to break character? Between borrowed storybooks, bewitched snowflakes, stolen crowns, burning orphanages, corrupted politicians, evil trolls, and executional nooses, a silver-lining is found inside the cracks of their masks: "Life isn't a storybook, and gloves don't hide the shaking, but I can still write my own beginning and call it mine."
All character rights reserved to Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks, and Hans Christian Anderson.
Sometimes a boy must die a thousand nights before he can grow tall enough to see the sunrise.
"Cry. Please cry, Eugene. She will stop beating you when you cry."
There were two cries heard then: the cry of a whipped child, which shook walls, and the cry of an angry nun, which shook devils.
"You wretched boy! You wretched, despicable ingrate!"
Rats scattered as a lantern was thrown down and shattered.
"You've no head upon your shoulders, do you? Wetting the bed at all hours of the night and carrying on as you do! My bones are weak ― my hands are wrinkled! How much more must you wring out of me before I'm in the grave? I don't have the young skin that you so merrily skip around in!"
Tears hit his toes, making the floor wet.
"Pull up your britches! I've finished with you, haven't I?!"
Shaking, the boy pulled them up. Every bone and muscle in his body felt like a broken tooth with bleeding gums.
"Hurry yourself! By the time you're through, the crayfish will be singing in the mountains!"
His trembling knees wouldn't unbend and his back wouldn't straighten. The burns were too hot, the flesh too raw, and when he reached around to touch the whip's singes, he felt where it had branded the meat of his skin. He tried to cry out, but the nun held him down and bore his criss-crossed back to her audience.
"Take a long look at the canvas and examine it thoroughly," she barked. "These are the consequences of your noble peer's actions, so let this be a lesson to you all."
The children on the stairwell were speechless with horror. They sobbed out of their terrified minds; "I don't want a lashing!" and "I want Papa!" frothed out of trembling mouthes as voices and pleas slobbered together, but one much smaller than the rest rose above them all:
"Mother, why is this done to us?"
The nun's mouth was shut into silence. She squinted at every dark head in the group, snarling: "Stop hiding her and show her to me."
Children cleared for her one by one, revealing the tiny child who stood in the heart of them like a Messiah before parting seas. Her goldilocks hung from her scalp in mats, the grey nightgown stained with pudding, and her eyes were as new and pleading as a baby bird's.
"Do...you not like us...?" The girl's voice choked with tears. "Is it because Papas were Kraut (1) and Mamas were Norsk (2)?" She said the terms with innocence, having only been educated by the ignorance around her.
The dragoness in cloak and veil answered with nightmarish propaganda: "It is neither my nor your fault that you are all othered by Arendelle like unwanted stepchildren. It is explicitly the fault of your sinning parents, and by no one's doing but their own, your very bodies have been born for whips and chains."
Her tyranny stopped at the cry of the little nun who'd told the beaten boy to cry. The girl's eyes were bright with fright and fight, but when the old face came forward and loomed over her candle, the bravery fell apart, and she tripped back on her fear:
"Mother," she bowed from the waist, voice smaller than a flea's: "Forgive me, but I...I heard the older orphans waking in their rooms―"
"Sister Jensen..." The senior's face looked like a gargoyle's in the candlelight. "You are new; until I ask for your assistance, you will hold no further opinion under my authority. Have I made myself quite clear?"
The young girl shook, with a quiet nod, in the sweat of her own inferiority, and submitted herself as the lesser woman. "Forgive me, Mother...I didn't mean―"
"Good." The senior's leather whip was rolled up and dropped into the junior's hand. "Now you will take this and do in the next orphan while I escort this Kraut to his dorm. Is that...quite reasonable to you?"
"Yes, Mother." The young nun dabbed her forehead with her handkerchief, quivering like a leaf. "However, I...initially thought to fetch new bed sheets for the boy?"
"New bed sheets?"
"Why, y―yes, Mother. Since his bed sheets still have urine on them, I assumed―"
"You assumed nonsense. This Kraut will be sleeping in them as they are."
"Sister Jensen, war children do not learn without rigid discipline. The dirty blood sewered into them by foreigners and traitors gives them a mental retardation for which there is no rearing, and you are naive to think otherwise."
Strands of mucus dripped from Eugene's nostrils as he shook from whence he stood. The children beside him held the frightened eyes of birds and rabbits caged in a slaughterhouse, but not a single one spoke, not even the little Messiah.
Looking all around the faces in the hall, the senior seemed to blink a wetness―a humanness―out of her eyes before facing the boy. "Come, child. You are to be returned to your room."
The orphan scrubbed the mucus off his nose with the heel of his palm and slipped back into his clothes one wince at a time. When impatience gained on her before he could get a gain on it, the nun grabbed him by the shoulder and led him to the exit. Children hid behind their neighbors as the nun's shadow darkened over them and flitted past them the second after. Eugene glanced at the junior nun from his shoulder with watering eyes, and she watched him with unshed tears in her own. After his face passed the corner, her eyes slipped into a hard shut, before she turned around to summon the next orphan.
"You will sleep in your sheets for a week," Mother Superior instructed. "If we catch you cleaning them, you will be whipped every night for a week more."
He was too tired to care. To hurt. To think. He hobbled beside her with his palm following the wall.
"You will be bathroom monitored by Gottmar. Quality time should warm you two up to each other." A cold palm landed on his shoulder. "So have you learned your lesson?"
The closer they got to the room, the closer he felt to a final moment in his life, but they were no slideshows or vignette images worth remembering to flashback on.
"Have you learned your lesson, Eugene?" The hand on his shoulder began to squeeze it.
Her voice became something of a fist around his throat, so he whispered, "Yes," with eyes full of nothing. When they reached the dorm, the door was wide open and waiting for him. The senior nun, like the reaper of the child, stopped him at the foot of it. "Remember, Fitzherbert, you were put here because you were bad and your mother did not want you."
He blinked back tears and fog as his mind worked to process the information that was being pipelined to his brain.
"You were bad because your father was bad, and he wanted neither you nor her."
He dammed the tears as best he could; swallowed the salt, the breaking, the agony, but there was no getting away from what his ears could not un-hear.
Mother Superior whispered to the profile of his face: "Go to bed, Fitzherbert."
...And he walked into the room of sleeping boys, crawled into his bed, threw the covers over himself, and sobbed until his diaphragm collapsed.
She watched him break from the doorway, eyes glowing in the dark like a cat's. With satisfaction, the door was eased shut, and Eugene was left in the darkness with the sick -crack- of his ribs breaking in on his own heart. Her words had left deeper burns than the whip, shrinking him into the tiny nothing he was told to know of himself―
"Eugene?" A voice trembled in the dark. "Eugene!"
Eugene's shoulders shook as he wept and wailed; coughing sobs up, slurping them back, slurping them out, in, then out―
"Eugenius!" The boy calling him picked off a piece of bread from under his blanket. "Pssst! Eugene! I stole some bread from ol' turkey-necked Mother Stu'perior! Been saving it since Tuesday, I have! You want some?"
Eugene's eyelashes were so sticky that he couldn't peel them apart to look at the boy, whose bed was facing the opposite end. He could only see the beginnings of toenails and dirty feet hanging off the mattress. "I 'on't want nuttin'..." he sniffled and hiccuped, dragging his sleeve under his nose.
"...I'm offerin' because I heard you scream, Eugene...and you ain't never let y'self scream all the time you been here..."
The crying boy's lips were pasty with saliva as he tried to part them to gurgle out, "Go to sleep, Stig. M'back h-hurts..."
The younger orphan made a face. Keeping his next thoughts to himself, he turned on his side and shimmied down into his sheets, giving the boy one last glance before facing the other way. "...'Night, 'gene. I'ma give you tha' bread in the mornin'..."
The older orphan sighed and rolled over to face the window. The moon's face was full and smiling; perhaps the only thing that did every night. "...Star-light, star-bright," he muffled, thumb under his teeth, pillow squeezed to his face as tears made tracks down his cheeks. "I wish I may, I wish I might...h―have the wish I wish tonight..." He closed his eyes, placed his fingers on the lids, and forced his aching bones to dream: 'Please make me wings...'
(1) Kraut: a derogatory term for a German person; often used for war children.
(2) Norsk: a Norwegian person.
Author's Note ❅
"Fitz" means "(a usage for fatherless sons)," by the way. So Eugene's canon name is, "Eugene, the illegitimate (bastard) son of Mr. Herbert." O' Disney?
This story has a loose theme about people creating "characters within themselves" to emotionally survive life as they have it, even at the risk of avoiding their own reflections: I.E. Eugene's "Flynn Rider" and Elsa's "Queenly Mask."
❈ The facade that is "Flynn Rider" is an imitation of a storybook swashbuckler to hide the character flaws, childhood agonies, and insecurities inside the sensitive Eugene.
❈ The facade that is "Queen Elsa" is an imitation of her father's expectations to hide the character flaws, childhood anxieties, and insecurities inside the sensitive Elsa.
Whatever "sob stories" and flaws they have - they opt to conceal it and not feel it; to "not let it show" and "put on a show," while their true selves were apparently unaccepted and invalidated in their backstories.
❈ Zachary Levi (Flynn)
"There are many messages to take from the film. Flynn's kind of journey of kind of being true to himself, and knowing that you don't need to create this facade; that it's okay to be you and own who you are and love who you are. And at the end of the day - at the end of the film - you get this incredible message of self-sacrifice and love, and that's huge; (...) to offer that to someone else."
❄ Idina Menzel (Elsa)
"She compromises herself for a very long time, until (...) she at least finally becomes her truest self and owns who she is."
Interviewer: "What would you say you're most scared of in life?"
"I guess in relation to Elsa, it's the idea of really letting go and showing all of who I am to the world - and I think especially women - you know, when we're powerful and strong women - we wrestle with the fact of letting that be and still being loved."
So after reading that, it seemed worth crossing over. This is a rare one, and exotic breeds always entice me. However, the story's inspiration came from the history between Norway and Germany with war children in orphanages. Tangled ("Germany") and Frozen ("Norway") are crossed over for an un-canon cameo in the Frozen film; Eugene's orphanage experience was a "downer sob story," so it's like gravy on mashed potates.
As a rule, my depiction of war children is only inspired by the former information. Since Tangled is "not really" Germany and Frozen is "not really" Norway, Arendelle and Corona are their own fictional locations with fabricated regimes, but certain aspects of their cultures are Norwegian and German in this draft, while the kingdoms themselves have their own fictional systems. You will also see many AU liberties taken with Elsa's "Frozen" arc, magical powers, and etc.