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#beauty and the beast trilogy
whoopaswan · 2 years ago
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So there’s an otome game on Facebook I once found and occasionally play it just for the fun of it. Presumably there’ll be a new romanceable character soon who looks like this:
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And as I was scrolling through some comments in a group dedicated to that game, I happened to stumble upon a comment like this:
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And after my latest late night adventures on tumblr, I just had to make a respond:
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In conclusion: Please let my horny boys have their horns! They all deserve love and I’m more than willing to take them off your hands.
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allgirlsareprincesses · a year ago
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The Death of Love and the Lonely Soul: Eros and Psyche in a Post-TROS World
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This is the first of my follow-up posts to my series on Folktale Types in Star Wars, focusing on how the Sequel Trilogy retells (or fails to retell) the Eros and Psyche myth, and the potential psychological implications for our culture. This essay will frequently reference my original Reylo as Eros and Psyche post, though I will also occasionally refer to my other Search for the Lost Husband posts (2) (3) (4), so please consider reading those before diving in here.
To explain why I had a great deal of confidence in TROS being a classic happy ending to a Search for the Lost Husband tale (ATU 425), I have to share a little bit of what I learned about how folklorists view these tale types. A century ago, the popular theory about why myths and folktales were so similar all over the world was evolutionary: it assumed there was one origin tale, and that as humans traveled, they would carry the story with them and it would be retold and adapted by other cultures. This suggested there was one ancestral tale from which all the others developed, which accounted for the recurrence of the story’s basic plot and motifs.
Since then, however, advancements in anthropological research and the increasing appreciation for folklore in the study of human psychology has debunked the old evolutionary theory. It was discovered that cultures and societies existing at the same time in history, on opposite sides of the globe and which could have had no possible contact with one another, still told the same tale types with the same motifs. Details might be changed, but every culture had animal husband tales, or animal bride tales, and so on. This led to the now widely-accepted idea that universal human psychology accounts for the similarity in folktales. Basically, all humans tell each other the same stories because we all wrestle with the same fundamental truths, challenges, and transitions. This is why the swan maiden tales can be traced to male anxiety over sexual performance or the prospect of losing a wife in childbirth, or why animal husband tales can be traced to female power fantasies of taming a mate in a patriarchal society.
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Based on all this, I assumed that even if Terrio and Abrams made a typically vapid modern action flick, they’d still hit all of the main beats of the Eros and Psyche myth because that’s what would come naturally to them. Obviously, Beauty’s love will return the Beast to his human form. Obviously, Psyche will complete her journey from child to adult and take her place as the true or metaphorical mother to the next generation. Obviously, they will end the story united for eternity to signify the end of the galaxy-wide conflict and the beginning of the true peace so long sought by the heroes of the Skywalker Saga.
While this was true to a limited extent in The Rise of Skywalker, several of the reveals and the final moments of the film not only departed dramatically from the structure of the Search for the Lost Husband myth, but the movie even fails to align with the commonly more sorrowful Quest for the Lost Bride. In a cruel and baffling twist, the story erases its hero and returns its heroine to childhood in a barren underworld. There is, frankly, no historical folktale I can find that matches this pattern. Even stories featuring preadolescent children are about disassociation from parental figures, not deeper dependence. (Note: Marie-Claire and Ty Black of What The Force and Wit and Folly have done some exploration of how TROS reflects the so-called “American Monomyth.” This is a valid interpretation but for the purposes of this analysis, I’m continuing to use stories more commonly recognized by the Aarne-Thompson-Uther classification of folktales.)
Rey’s Regression and Psyche’s Tasks
As a quick refresher of where we stood in alignment with the myth by the end of The Last Jedi, Rey is the mortal woman Psyche, and her force powers are akin to Psyche’s beauty in the myth. Kylo Ren/Ben Solo is god of desire Eros, Psyche’s husband and the son of god of war Ares and goddess of love Aphrodite. In Star Wars, it is the Dark Side and dark force users who play the part of Aphrodite herself, attempting to control Ben Solo and jealous of the powerful Rey. The symbolic marriage of the lovers has unmistakably occurred multiple times, but when Rey attempts to force Ben into the light and to accept his true identity, he recoils and they are separated. She has broken the taboo of seeing his true self, and so her animal bridegroom has fled to the safety of the Dark Side, or “his mother’s house.” Finally, all of Rey’s illusions, help, and protections have been stripped away, so she must now learn how to rely on herself to obtain what she desires. When Rey discovers her own worth, independent of anyone else, she will achieve womanhood. When Ben Solo accepts his full humanity, both dark and light, he will achieve manhood. Together, they will reach adulthood.
At the beginning of TROS, we may already suspect some trouble. Rey seems to have regressed to a childlike dependence on mentors, being trained as a Jedi by Leia in an attempt to “earn” Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber, even though she has used it without permission for two movies so far. Given the saber’s symbolic role as a phallic motif, this also suggests sexual repression or another reversion to a childlike state, especially considering the sexual awakening Rey experienced in TLJ. Ben, meanwhile, has also regressed to a dogged commitment to the dark side, seeking to remove any “threat to his power.” Still, there is time for the couple to recover their lost ground and achieve maturation in the course of the film.
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In Apelius’ tale, the enraged Aphrodite confronts Eros about his marriage to Psyche:
“What! Is it she - the usurper of my beauty, the vicar of my name?…. Whereas thou shouldst have vexed my enemy with loathsome love, thou hast done contrary. Being but of tender and unripe years thou hast with too licentious appetite embraced my most mortal foe, to whom I shall be made a mother, and she a daughter. Thou presumest and thinkest that thou art most worthy and excellent, and that I am not able by reason of my age to have another son; which if I might have, thou shouldst well understand that I would bear a more worthier than thee. But to work thee a greater despite, I do determine to adopt one of my servants, and to give him these wings, this fire, this bow and these arrows, and all other furniture which I gave to thee -- not for this purpose, neither is anything given thee of thy father for this intent, but thou hast been evil brought up and instructed in thy youth.”
If we are to say that Palpatine fulfills the role of Aphrodite in this story, then a few things stand out: One is that Palpatine (and Snoke, given that they are one in the same) views Kylo Ren as a failure, recognizing his feelings for Rey. Darth Sidious sees Rey as a threat, and is both jealous and fearful of her power, of being “usurped” by her. Further, though it is not immediately clear that Palpatine intends to replace Kylo with Rey as his new host, it does become evident through the course of the story that he wants only revenge on Ben Solo. This idea of replacing Ben with Rey, though characterized as a Dark Side concept at first, becomes especially tragic later in the film when it seems that the Skywalkers have done exactly that. Finally, there is the affirmation that Ben “has been evil brought up and instructed in [his] youth,” when Palpatine tells him that he has been “every voice inside [his] head.” This suggests that Ben/Eros is evil as he has been raised that way from childhood, removing a degree of culpability for his nature.
Still seeking her lost husband, Psyche seeks out Aphrodite herself, who drags her by the hair as her maidens, Sorrow and Sadness, abuse and torment Psyche with whips and rods. The cruel goddess then gives her wretched daughter-in-law the first of her impossible tasks, demanding that Psyche sort a pile of grains and seeds in a single night. Though Psyche completes this task and a further two (gathering the golden fleece from vicious rams and collecting water from the mouth of the River Styx), she often despairs of success, twice attempting to fling herself into a raging river to escape her agony.
In TROS, Rey is similarly tormented by loneliness, as she tells Finn that she fears no one knows her. Though she meets with success in most of her efforts to chase down the film’s several McGuffins, she also seems to despair and give up more than once, most notably when she flees the scene of her oceanic battle with Ben on the ruins of the Death Star.
As for the tasks themselves, these appear differently in variations of the Search for the Lost Husband, but usually involve the heroine questing for her lost love, collecting objects and accepting help from various magical figures on her journey. By contrast, Rey does not seem to really seek Ben at all throughout TROS, as she consistently rejects him and is the aggressor in all of their confrontations. Though she collects objects and accepts help from other characters, including Force Ghost Luke, this assistance is always intended to help her defeat Palpatine, not recover Ben. I could come up with some tortured analogies between Rey’s mini-quests and Psyche’s labors, but truthfully I think those would be forced as the movie departed farther and farther from the mythological framework.
The Death Star Fight and the Revival of the Prince
Still, other aspects of the ATU 425 folktale type are distinctively present. Just as the Beast repeatedly asks Beauty for her hand in marriage, so Kylo Ren repeatedly asks Rey to join him on the Dark Side. With the words “take my hand,” this is explicitly presented as a proposal of romantic union, and just like Beauty, Rey repeatedly refuses, particularly as Kylo clings to his beastly form in the repaired mask. This brings us to the sequence which is on the one hand most aligned with the myth, and on the other hand serves as the most ominous sign of the lovers’ eventual fates: the confrontation on the Death Star.
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The problem with this scene is that it can be interpreted as two different pivotal moments in the folktale. Firstly, recall that the turning point in the Search for the Lost Husband is the breaking of the taboo and concurrent wounding of the enchanted husband: The heroine, armed with “flame and steel,” attempts to look upon her husband’s true form. In some variations, she intends to kill him if she discovers a monster. However, when she finds a handsome prince instead, she is stricken with love and accidentally wounds him with hot oil or wax, signifying her perceived betrayal. Though we have already seen this in the previous films (in Rey’s slashing of Kylo’s face on Starkiller and again with her calling him by his true name in the flaming throne room of the Supremacy), it seems that this event is playing itself out yet again. Using Kylo’s own lightsaber (flame and steel), Rey stabs him with a mortal wound even as she is reminded of his true identity through the sensation of Leia’s death. Not only would it be odd to repeat the breaking of the taboo yet again in this story, but instead of the husband fleeing as he typically does at this point in the Search for the Lost Husband, it is Rey, the bride, who flees.
The other event that frequently occurs in this tale type is the revival or healing of the prince. And indeed, this is exactly what happens in the Death Star scene. Rey’s stabbing of Kylo Ren, though in my opinion out of character, is consistent with the violent means some folktale heroines use to transform their beastly husbands. For example, in The Princess and the Frog, she throws her amphibian suitor against a wall, causing him to retake his princely form. Other brides burn their husbands’ beastly skins, forcing them to remain human evermore. As I’ve said before, Kylo’s lightsaber is symbolic fire in Star Wars, so Rey stabbing him with it is akin to burning his beastly skin, forcing him to again become Ben Solo. It also can be considered the moment that she makes a blood sacrifice to recover him. Then, still surrounded by water (Rey’s element throughout the trilogy and also associated with healing and cleansing), our heroine heals the prince of all his wounds, including the scar she had previously given him. This is absolutely consistent with many folktales, among them Pajaro Verde and The Ballad of Tam Lin.
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Further, Rey’s healing of Ben is a callback to her healing of the alien serpent she found wounded on Pasaana, a shockingly unsubtle analogy for Ben. In Apelius’ narrative, Eros himself is sometimes referred to as a serpent, and it is very common in other animal husband tales for the prince to marry his bride in the form of a serpent, as in the Italian tale The Enchanted Snake. This is usually interpreted to be a fairly obvious phallic symbol, representing the heroine’s sexual initiation or in this instance, simply the masculine power to the heroine’s feminine. We have previously heard Rey refer to Ben as a “treacherous snake,” so it’s obvious that her healing of both the snake and Ben himself is her healing the Wounded Masculine. Finally, Rey tells him she “wanted to take [his] hand, Ben Solo’s hand,” which is again a seemingly direct reference to Beauty finally agreeing to marry the Beast in order to bring him back from death.
Despite the close alignment of this scene with the revival motif in the Search for the Lost Husband, there is one glaring issue: that event always occurs at the END of the story. The revival of the prince is the final step in the searching bride’s journey, when she claims him as her true husband by drawing him back from death or a similarly dark fate. It is a testament to her power and her love, and it demonstrates the final transformation of the prince and his worthiness of his bride. It is most definitely NOT common for the bride to again flee after reviving her lover. Again, despite the fact that Abrams and Terrio are (likely unintentionally) using many classic ATU 425 motifs, the reordering of them is disorienting and unsettling.
Rey in the Underworld
Psyche’s final task in her story is to descend to the Underworld to gather a little bit of Persephone’s beauty for the jealous Aphrodite. Despairing of any way to get there and return safely, Psyche prepares to kill herself, but Eros speaks to her through an enchanted tower, instructing her to use certain objects to pass safely. He also tells her not to eat any food of the underworld, nor to open the box of beauty Queen Persephone gives her, or else she will not return. Psyche follows all of these instructions carefully, until she has nearly completed her task, and the temptation of opening the casket is just too great. She opens it thinking to take just a little beauty to please Eros, but inside she finds only the Stygian Sleep of the dead, and she falls down lifeless. Eros immediately flies to her side and wipes the deathly sleep from her eyes, reviving her and taking her in his arms. He then appeals to Zeus, who agrees to make Psyche immortal so that she and Eros can never be separated.
In TROS, the underworld is the planet Exogol, where lurks the personification of the Dark Side, Darth Sidious. In Star Wars, power is analogous to the beauty that is so coveted in the Greek myth, so the characters are all drawn to Exogol in a final struggle for ultimate power. Like Psyche, Rey has a moment of despair when she exiles herself on Ahch-To, thinking that she cannot possibly defeat the Dark Side. Oddly, instead of Ben Solo speaking to her through the Force Bond, which would more closely follow the myth, the person encouraging Rey in this moment is Luke Skywalker, her erstwhile reluctant mentor. He does indeed give her special objects to help her pass into Exogol (the lightsabers and his miraculously-preserved X-wing) and he advises her to confront her fears.
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Another way to interpret this scene is as yet another instance of the heroine returning home to her suspicious family, where they poison her mind against her beastly lover. In Eros and Psyche, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Pajaro Verde, Beauty and the Beast, and many others, there is always a moment when the heroine goes home to her family and receives dangerous advice warning her against trusting her husband, or attempting to keep her longer than she promised. I’ve argued before that this already happened in TLJ with Luke, when he repeatedly warned her away from her own dark side and from Ben Solo. Yet, it seems we again tread over familiar ground, with Rey’s flight to Ahch-To in TROS appearing as another regression of her character.
Rey flies to Exogol and attempts her final task, which is to defeat Palpatine. When he threatens her friends, she agrees to kill him in order to become empress (I really can’t type this nonsense with a straight face), which will make her the heir of death itself. Then, transformed Ben Solo comes charging in heroically to save his love, unwilling to let her face her final trial alone. Unfortunately, Palpatine sucks the life force from both lovers without much difficulty, then chucks poor Ben off a cliff. Rey is forced to defeat Sidious without her soulmate, though apparently a bunch of Jedi she doesn’t know are happy to give her a pep talk and make her “all the Jedi.” After finally destroying(?) Palpatine, she then inexplicably drops dead. Like Psyche, Rey has completed the final task but also taken the contents of the box (in this case, the power of “all the Jedi”) for herself, and as she is mortal, it is too much for her and she dies.
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Just like Eros, Ben claws his way to his fallen lover’s side and gathers her in his arms, determined to retrieve her from death. Alive again, Rey calls Ben by his true name and professes her love in a passionate kiss. But whereas Eros then makes his soulmate immortal so that they can never be parted, Ben’s revival of her results in his own death, and the couple is again separated. Though redundant, it would be consistent with the folktale pattern for Rey to resurrect her prince in this moment. Instead, we see his body fade away, with no indication that our heroine clearly understands what has happened or really cares.
In each version of the Search for the Lost Husband, the heroine is a mortal woman who wins the love of a prince or even a god, and her final reward is to be elevated to royalty, or to immortality. Psyche becomes a goddess in her own right, dwells in the heavens, and gives birth to a daughter named Joy. Eros and Psyche, Desire and Soul, when united produce Joy.
But Rey is not united with Ben, in the end. In fact, with a royal heritage of her own, she doesn’t really need to be elevated any more. You could argue that she claims a more elevated title when she takes the Skywalker name as her own, but she still ends up alone, with only ghosts of someone else’s parents and her robot familiar for company. Rather than ascending to a throne or to the heavens, she literally descends into a ruin, a literal graveyard, in a barren wasteland. Her mythical husband is nowhere to be found, and there is no hope for a child. In a cruel and bizarre twist, TROS tells a fairly faithful final chapter of Eros and Psyche, only to strip its heroine of all she has sought in the last moment, leaving her bereft. And yet, the filmmakers dressed this as a happy ending.
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TROS as an Allegory of the Lost Soul
Given how frequently the Eros and Psyche tale is used as a basis for psychoanalytic theory, what implications might this film have when viewed through that lens? In Jungian psychology, the human psyche can only achieve individuation - the knowing of oneself as a separate and unique person - if it can be separated and differentiated from the uroboric figures of parents, siblings, and mentors. Eventually, the repressed Shadow must be integrated into the Self in order for one to be a whole and healthy adult.
Within this framework, Psyche is a human soul trapped in a state of unconscious, lacking knowledge of her Shadow and therefore lacking agency. Eros is the Shadow, a collection of repressed desires which Psyche both fears and desires to claim. Her act of heroism is that same wielding of lamp and knife where she faces the truth, strips away her own illusions, and sees her Shadow for what he truly is. Psyche’s refusal to continue living a lie, and her subsequent pursuit of her desires leads her to achieve individuation signified in the product of alchemical union, Joy.
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Up until the events of TROS, both Rey and Ben Solo were on this journey. Rey was trapped in a state of childlike unconscious in the graveyard of Jakku, having repressed the dark memories of the parents who abandoned her. In TFA, things tended to happen to her, but she rarely drove the action of the story herself. However, at the end of TLJ, she separated herself from the influence of uroboric mentor Luke and pursued Ben Solo, determined to truly see and claim her dark desires. With flame and steel, she stripped away the dark mask around him, but he also forced her to admit the truth about her parents to herself. Ben Solo, her animus, the projection of Rey’s unconscious, stood before her and forced her to bring what she had repressed into her conscious reality. Only then could Rey “let the past die,” separate herself from her parents, and “become what [she was] meant to be.”
Mirroring her journey, Ben was also trapped in a state of unconscious in the underworld of the Dark Side, having repressed his inclinations to the Light and to reconciliation with his family. His effort at separating himself from the influence of his mentors had a false start at first, as he mistakenly believed that he needed to “let the past die,” separating himself from his family and from the Light. With flame and steel, Ben killed his father, but to his horror, he realized that this did not rid him of his deepest desires. In TLJ, he got a second chance to separate himself from the controlling mentor by killing Snoke. Had he at that time faced his desire for the Light and acknowledged his true identity, he too would have been closer to individuation. Ben’s anima, Rey, stood before him calling him by the true name he had repressed and begging him not to stay in the Dark.
From this basis, we might assume that Rey, freed from illusions, would pursue her wayward Shadow in an attempt to integrate him. Ben, only a few steps behind, might finally accept his identity and his desire for love and affection, unite with Rey, and they would both achieve individuation, rewarded with Joy. In fact, for Ben Solo, most of this story does indeed occur in TROS. When Rey heals him and declares that she did want to take Ben’s hand, he is forced to finally face and accept his true identity. He then projects a memory of Han Solo, representing his repressed desire for the love of family, and he reconciles with himself. He then pursues his desires by running to Rey’s rescue, finally freed to act according to his own wishes. Does he manage to truly unite with her and achieve joy, though? More on that in a minute.
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Rey, for her part, suddenly undergoes a regression into her unconscious state. Rather than becoming a unique and separate person, she again defers to mentors, training with Leia and claiming that she will “earn” Luke’s lightsaber. Consider that by the same point in his own journey, Luke was specifically defying the advice of his mentors, Yoda and Obi-Wan, who were advising him to kill his father and bury his feelings. They were of course proven wrong by the narrative, and Luke was validated. As the hero of her story and as a human psyche on its way to individuation, Rey should have separated herself from her mentors and the story should have validated her unique strengths and perspective. Instead, Rey’s success and heroism DEPEND on Luke and Leia, even to the end. In many ways, she is an avatar of her mentors more than a heroine in her own right.
The other way in which Rey regresses is in her discovery of her true parentage, as she is forced again to consider her identity as a child, an extension of the parents who (supposedly) loved her and the grandfather who might be the true source of her darkness. Recall that the action that launches Psyche’s journey into consciousness is a refusal to continue living a lie. Rey achieved this step in TLJ when Ben forced her to admit the truth to herself about her parents. Though it was painful and led to the loss of her lover just as with Psyche, it was necessary for Rey for understand that she could forge her own identity without relying on the false family she had built in her mind.
In TROS, not only is she unable to differentiate her identity from her mentors, she now has multiple new parental figures to contend with. Having accepted the truth of her deadbeat nobody parents and the losses of Han and Luke (and eventually Leia), she must now reconcile with loving somebody parents as well as having a grandfather who is basically the Satan of the Galaxy Far Far Away. Further, it seems she has been training herself to contact the spirits of many Jedi who have passed into the Force, all of whom also constitute mentors or parental figures. Rather than discovering how she is unique and what she might want in her adulthood, Rey is positively drowning in parents against whom she is derivative, still just a child.
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Still, all of those parental figures are dead or die in this movie, which is traditionally one way that mythical children separate themselves from their mentors in coming-of-age tales. Theoretically, there should have been time for Rey to discover who she is apart from all these characters, decide she wanted something different out of her life, and then pursue and achieve it as heroines do. Unfortunately, we never see that happen in this film. At every point in her TROS journey, Rey is doing what a mentor instructed her to do. She’s following Leia’s guidance, or Luke’s guidance, or Palpatine’s…. In the end, it is Luke who is validated by the narrative, not Rey. She brings nothing new or unique to the galaxy, nor does she seem to have intense desires that would oppose what these mentors want for her. Yes, she did want to take Ben Solo’s hand, but she’s not on a mission to save him and she barely reacts when he gets tossed down a pit. Unlike Luke, who was determined to save Vader in spite of what everyone told him, Rey meekly follows her elders like a good girl.
In The Myth of the Birth of the Hero, Otto Rank says:
"The detachment of the growing individual from the authority of the parents is one of the most necessary, but also one of the most painful achievements of evolution. It is absolutely necessary for this detachment to take place, and it may be assumed that all normal grown individuals have accomplished it to a certain extent. Social progress is essentially based upon this opposition between the two generations. On the other hand, there exists a class of neurotics whose condition indicates that they have failed to solve this very problem."
Others have pointed out that Rey’s failure to reach full sexual maturity is also demonstrative of this problem, as evidenced by her virginal white ensemble, tight childlike buns after the soft long hair of TLJ, and loss of her intended mate at the end of the story. Rey’s journey to womanhood has been arrested in every way, but the ultimate illustration of this tragic regression is her slide down the sand when she arrives on Tatooine. To so perfectly mirror her childlike introduction on Jakku, without any reference to the later experiences that drove her toward adulthood…. It frankly suggests nothing so much as a psychotic break. In Jungian terms, Rey has been unable to break from the uroboros or collective unconscious, or to integrate her Shadow. In the loss of Ben Solo, she was unable to embrace her desires, and in taking the Skywalker name, she again lies to herself about her identity, repressing her connection to Palpatine and choosing instead a false family just as she did back on Jakku. Rather than the soul finding its way into consciousness, it is forever lost in the vast unconscious.
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In a sense, Rey was not really revived after retrieving power from the Underworld after all, because she is metaphorically dead at the end of her story, just as she was metaphorically dead at its beginning. Living in the Imperial graveyard on Jakku, she had survived by remaining necessarily focused on herself. At the end of her story, she seems again focused inwardly, retreating from the galaxy and her friends, with no need to compromise or give of herself in a loving relationship with her soulmate. In Love and the Soul: Psychological Interpretations of The Eros & Psyche Myth, James Gollnick writes:
“Neumann interprets the beauty ointment which Psyche must fetch from the underworld as the eternal youth of death, the ‘barren frigid beauty of mere maidenhood, without love for a man, as exacted by the matriarchate.’ He sees in this deathlike sleep the pull of narcissism which would regress Psyche from the woman who loved Eros back to the maiden lost in the narcissistic love of herself. (Bettelheim also calls attention to the narcissistic state symbolized by Psyche alone in Eros’ magical palace, see The Uses of Enchantment.)”
This is to say that conjugal love, or a love that is physical as well as spiritual, is the ultimate form of self-gift. Though the sacrifice of one’s life is an admirable expression of love, it is inferior because it creates death, whereas the giving of self in an intimate embrace creates life. Hence, Eros and Psyche’s union created Joy. Has Rey found joy by the end of her journey? Or is she expected to be content with only power and the name that declares that power? And as for Ben, he has vanished completely. As Eros, he is dead and unable to be united with his Psyche. Though transformed from beast into man, Love is eternally separated from Soul.
When the Lost Husband Stays Lost
This might be a passable interpretation of the Sequel Trilogy, but it’s fair to ask the question: were we wrong? Was this ever a Search for the Lost Husband story, or did we simply see what we wanted to see in the tale? Indulging deeply in a Death of the Author approach to interpretation, I argue strongly that this was always a variation of ATU 425, because not only were all the pieces in place from the beginning, but the Sequel Trilogy was thematically the perfect inverse of ATU 400, the Quest for the Lost Bride, which was very clearly the story of the Prequel Trilogy. Further, many a mythical husband’s failed quest is actually the prelude to his bride’s successful search, as historical myths often start with the loss of the fairy wife only to switch perspectives to the feminine and have her successfully retrieve her lost husband. To the extent that Star Wars draws on the collective unconscious that produces these myths, I believe the parallels are unmistakable.
Still, these are films released by a corporation within a very distinct culture, the product of a particular time and place. They cannot be separated from the realities of the 21st Century America that produced them. This is why a deeper exploration of the American Monomyth is likely necessary to truly understand how TROS came to be. However, even within worldwide mythology, there are isolated examples of Lost Husband stories in which the bride does not retrieve her husband, or in which the couple remains separated by the end of the story.
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One of the most notable examples of these tragedies is the Lohengrin Saga, a Germanic romance made popular by Richard Wagner’s opera. In it, Elsa, the Duchess of Brabant, is accused of murdering her brother, her case to be decided by trial by combat. When her accusers ask her who her champion will be, she tells them of a knight who has appeared to her in dreams. In answer to her prayers, her dream knight appears in a boat drawn by a swan, then agrees to be her champion under the condition that she never ask his true identity or origin. The swan knight wins the contest and marries Elsa, but before they are able to consummate their union, she asks him the forbidden question. Though he knows it will separate them forever, the knight cannot deny his love her request, and he admits to her that he is Lohengrin, Grail Knight and son of King Parzival. The laws of the Holy Grail say the Knights must remain anonymous, and if their identity is revealed, they must return home. Lohengrin leaves in the same boat in which he came, and Elsa dies of grief.
Many of the parallels should be instantly apparent: just as Kylo Ren often appears to Rey in visions, dreams, or in a dream-like state, so the Swan Knight first appeared to Elsa. As I stated in my Swan Maiden post, this means Kylo Ren is Rey’s incubus, or her dream lover and avatar of all her dark sexual fantasies. Just as the swan knight refuses to reveal his identity, so Kylo Ren declares that Ben Solo is dead and he is a monster. Further, the knight is a descendent of a powerful family, indeed one with mystical or holy origins given their association with the Grail. The last son of the Skywalker family, Ben Solo is even the great-grandson of the Force itself, with both royalty and magical power in his lineage. After several symbolic marriage encounters between Rey and her bond-mate, she insists on calling him by his true name and trying to force him to turn to the light, which constitutes the breaking of the taboo. After finally acknowledging his true identity and becoming Ben Solo once more, our hero is drawn away into death, his bride left to a sort of living death as a virgin on a dead world.
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Though the story of Lohengrin predated the opera, Wagner crafted his version to explicitly reference the Greek myth of Zeus and Semele:
“Who doesn't know ‘Zeus and Semele?’ The god is in love with a human woman and approaches her in human form. The lover finds that she cannot recognize the god in this form, and demands that he should make the real sensual form of his being known. Zeus knows that she would be destroyed by the sight of his real self. He suffers in this awareness, suffers knowing that he must fulfill this demand and in doing so ruin their love. He will seal his own doom when the gleam of his godly form destroys his lover. Is the man who craves for God not destroyed?”
This too has parallels with the Sequel Trilogy couple, in particular with the woman demanding the god show himself in his “real sensual form.” As many have pointed out, Rey desired Ben completely…. His heart, mind, soul, and body. Having him with her in corporeal form mattered so much to her that the Force facilitated their touch across the galaxy, and she promptly shipped herself to him so that she could be physically with him, despite the risk to her. It is for this reason that I reject the interpretation of the ending of TROS that says because Ben and Rey are a dyad, his soul is with her when he dies. No, his loss is complete, and the fact that his body is gone is a tragedy. Were the living body not important, he would not have given his own life to save Rey’s. Absent any other visual or dialogue cues in the finale, it’s reasonable to assume that Ben’s separation from his soulmate is total.
In her book on swan maiden tales, author Barbara Fass Leavy points out that the taboos imposed on mythical husbands are different than those imposed on mythical wives. Men, for example, are most often prohibited from abusing their fairy brides, while women are prohibited from looking upon their fairy husbands or knowing their true identity. Leavy states: “In general, taboos imposed on the wife in Cupid and Psyche tales are often intended to keep her in her place, to prevent her from achieving some autonomy by knowing who her husband is, seeing him, or being able to disclose his identity to others.” Both taboos admit to an inherent imbalance in the relationship, and while husbands are instructed not to abuse their power, women are told not to challenge their husbands’ power or attempt to achieve a more balanced marriage.
Now the issue for Rey becomes clear: if she is to be her husband’s equal, then she cannot accept him as the unknowable Kylo Ren. He must become Ben Solo, fully-known and her equal in all things. This way, Rey claims her power and balance can be achieved both for the lovers and for the Force itself. Unfortunately, the creators seem to have overcorrected. They wanted Rey alone to be the ultimate hero of the Sequel Trilogy, but as long as a male Skywalker was on the board, they apparently thought he would overshadow her. It seems that the writers believed the man having power in a relationship is the natural state of heterosexual unions, a point made clear by their obsession with patriarchal lineage. So, rather than give the lovers an Eros and Psyche ending as equals, they removed the man from the equation to allow Rey to be the only hero and Skywalker, effectively punishing both of them for breaking the taboo and acknowledging Ben Solo’s true identity. When the lost husband is not found, this represents a narrative judgement on the mythical bride: she has challenged male authority, and so her heart’s desire is stripped away.
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Lastly, Leavy also points out that most Beauty and the Beast tales involve a passing of the bride from father to husband, and that many animal groom stories can be interpreted as the bride learning to accept her new husband’s authority. If then the husband is eternally lost rather than found, custody of the bride logically reverts to her father. TROS contains numerous father figures for Rey: there is Luke, Palpatine’s son, and Palpatine himself. Rather than focusing on her mythical husband, our heroine seems to be questioning throughout the film to which father she truly belongs. In the end, she rejects her biological father and grandfather and loses her lover, then takes the name of her only remaining male authority figure, Luke Skywalker. Once again, Rey’s regression to a child is made clear and the myth structure utterly broken.
Conclusion: Star Wars and the Lost Children
Star Wars has always been a story of lost children. First it was Luke, then his sister Leia. Later, we learned of Anakin’s childhood, and finally Ben and Rey’s (to say nothing of other characters like Jyn, Ezra, Din Djarin….). We understood it to be a coming-of-age story in which these lonely children resolved their traumas and made adult choices. Those choices might have had sorrowful consequences, but the overall theme of the story has always been hope, so we knew there was always a chance for redemption, for the lost children to be welcomed home. Sadly, The Rise of Skywalker has deeply undermined that message. Mythologically, psychologically, and symbolically, Ben and especially Rey have reverted to childhood. They are both alone, separated from their families and prevented from forming a new family to provide hope for the future. Whereas the union of Eros and Psyche, Love and Soul, produced Joy, there is no union for Ben and Rey, and no Joy. I truly hope that in the future, Star Wars creators find a way to remedy this pandemic of lost children.
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dat-town · 2 years ago
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we found our destiny
2nd part of the destiny trilogy
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Characters: Jeongguk & fairy!you
Setting: Beauty and the Beast au (part of my fairytale collection)
Genre: tale as old as time a.k.a angst with happy end
Summary: Once upon a time there was an arrogant king warning a proud princess that both of their nations would lose this war if they didn’t cooperate. What an irony that after all the mistakes he made, he was right about this. But will anyone be able to save him before the last crimson petal falls?
Warning: violence, body horror (Jungkook looks similar to Kyle in Beastly in his cursed form but with more nature elements e.g. horns, divided tongue)
Words: 9.6k
Loneliness has never killed a soul as harshly as his.
There are rumours, whispers about a castle deep in the woods overgrown by poisonous roses with sharp thorns cutting throats. They say a monster lives there, merciless and brutal, and everybody who had set a foot inside seeking treasures didn’t see daylight anymore. Only one handful of reckless men who attempted to kill the beast returned bruised and beaten, not saying any word ever since about what they saw.
According to history books, that cursed land was once a part of a kingdom lead by the generous and loved Jeon dynasty. However, when the Great War of Three Kingdom, the Kims, the Jeons and Jeju started, their legacy was immediately demolished. The Kims took everything and now they rule over the fields. Only the haunted, horrible castle remains the Jeons’ territory since nobody else dares to claim it.
The fairies of Jeju don’t have it any better. They are on the verge of extinction because of the fairy hunts initiated by the new ruler of the region. The power fairies have is feared and humans are doing what they do the best when it comes to things they are afraid of: they destroy them.
Your family has nothing to do with the war between Jeons and Kims and yet, it doesn’t matter. The fact that you were born as a fairy is apparently enough reason for the hunters to kill you. Your kind barely has any allies left after the pact with the Jeons was broken, so you can’t trust anyone. You’re on your own in this.
You hide under a cape as you cross the forest and you hope nobody will stop you on your way. So close to the border, there’s a huge chance of getting caught and yet, you have to try, you can’t give up. You have to fight till the end for the sake of your family. It’s been a while since you got separated from your sisters and now you’re heading north to the hideout your kind whispered about. It isn’t more than three days of walking with the shortcut you found and you dare to hope that the closeness of that forsaken, sinister castle is enough to keep people away.
You only realize you’re dead wrong when a watch guard from a tree catches sight of you and you barely escape, flee from the hunters strolling under the crown of trees, waiting to take innocent lives from the shadows.
“That’s one there,” one of them shouts, pointing at you from above and you run faster than you had ever before.
You were supposed to pass by the castle, following the border but because of the echoing footsteps behind you, you take a sharp left turn, running out of the forest. In desperation you break through the iron fence of the castle, the ruins and roses with thorns. You’re crawling on all fours until you get past the heavy metal gates of the once beautiful royal household. The shouts and sound of footsteps seem farther and farther away the closer you get to the front door of the marble building standing oh so majestically in the middle of the ruins. Yet, you can’t let yourself marvel at the design as you put pressure on the golden handle. When it gives in, allowing the creaking door to open wide, you don’t hesitate to slip inside and close it behind you as quickly as possible. You don’t want to give hints and clues for the hunters about where to look for you, so you hide from plain sight immediately.
As the adrenaline drains from your blood and your breathing is back to normal, you notice new scratches on your pale skin, cuts from rose thorns and red smudges on your knees. You hiss as you see a few of the cuts still bleeding and even though you know it's too much to hope for, you’d kill for a bath. But this place is abandoned, unkempt, so you doubt there’s still water running. Based on the state of the castle, naively you don’t even worry about meeting any other living soul under the roof.
You’re soon proven wrong.
“You shouldn’t be here,” a deep, hoarse voice roars, the sound of it echoing off the tall, thick walls and a shiver runs down your spine as your head snaps towards the darkness, the source of the voice hidden in the shadows.
“I- I’m sorry. I thought this building is abandoned and I was running away from the hunters, so I had no other choi–” you explain hastily but your mindless, nervous rambling is rudely interrupted as the voice snaps at you again.
“Leave.”
The rough, masculine voice, raspy from disuse, orders but you keep your chin high up. You can’t be afraid of a faceless figure that hides behind the gilded velvet curtains, right? Maybe he’s just like you, a hunted prey too afraid to trust anyone.
“Please don’t make me go out there. They will kill me,” you plea, asking for nothing more than a bit of sympathy and compassion.
There’s a short pause, a silence so defeating you unconsciously hold your breath.
When you finally get an answer, it almost chokes you.
“Aren’t you afraid that I will kill you?”
Something moves, its shadow overtowering yours on the floor. The only light in the room is provided by the moonbeams filtered by the torn curtains but still, you gasp when a figure emerges from the darkness. You slowly lift a hand to cover your mouth in horror as your eyes settle on the horrific sight.
The creature has sturdy body and sickly pale skin covered in motives and passages written in ancient fairy language. The horns on the top of his head peek out of his long, messy, dark locks. He has a huge, ugly scar across his face and the visible, ugly, purple blooded veins are getting thicker around where his heart is. He wears clothes that were expensive and glorious once but now they look worn and used, dirty and bloody like rugs thrown on his body. Some of the creature’s bones stick out unnaturally and the grimace on his mouth indicates that he’s in pain during a few movements. There are rose thorns scattered all over his body and those constantly poking his skin seems like torture. Not to mention that only one of his eyes is fully human while the other is fiery red and filled with tired rage. Just a boy, barely man brutally hurt and broken in this harsh world.
“You… you have a fairy curse on you,” you whisper as the realization hits you seeing the signs of one of your sisters putting her hands on him. What kind of horrors could he do to earn the rage of your kind?
Before you could question his state, he moves so fast you barely have time to blink before he rips your hood off revealing your pointy ears and sky blue eyes to him. Suddenly you feel vulnerable under his fierce gaze. And a bit scared as he growls at you.
“And you’re one of them. Ugly, sly creatures. No wonder the Kims want you all dead,” he spits disgusted and you shiver as you catch a sight of the snake tongue in his mouth.
“That’s a very prejudiced thing to say by you,” you say and it’s hard not to sound judgemental but you know that sometimes hurt people say things they don’t actually mean. “You judge all of us based on one fairy you met.”
The man scoffs in disbelief.
“Believe me, I have met more than enough,” he hisses and nostalgic, angry emotions flicker in his human eyes. “Are you saying you’re any different?”
“I don’t want to hurt anyone. And I can help you get rid of the curse,” you say hoping that the eye for eye trade would be sufficient enough for this stubborn creature to let you stay. Why is that so hard for him anyway? He made it clear he isn’t afraid of you, so what?
The black, smoky glow around him doesn’t budge or soften and his dark aura doesn't change at all after your offer. The red eye looks at you mocking as if you were laughable for even trying.
“No, you can’t.”
“Every curse has its own aura in our eyes, I could–” detect the source, trace back the origin and find another, powerful fairy to help, you’d like to say in a hurry, clinging onto the last hope but once again you can’t even finish the sentece.
“I know what I would have to do to break the curse but that won’t happen. Stop saying you know better.” The way he says it sounds finale and unchangeable, and you know when to give up your battles. You don’t push the topic further.
“Please,” you plead because you have no ounce of pride left anyway. If you have to beg to a stubborn human – or at least a partly human creature – in order to stay alive, you will. You need to survive if you ever want to reunite with your family.
The young man falters for a second. He looks conflicted now that you didn’t leave even after he openly threatened you, that you didn’t flinch or pulled too far when he approached you. He seems actually surprised that you didn’t run away screaming after seeing his face.
It must be lonely to be doomed to be alone.
“You can stay for the night but I want you gone by the morning,” he tells you in a stern voice, visibly wincing as if kindness hurt him and these are his final words before turning on his heels he disappears back into a shadowy hallway on the western wing of the building.
You let out a breath you didn’t know you were holding and move towards the opposite direction careful not to bump into anything on your way. The palace is a remnant of a once glorified, beautiful place that wasn’t taken care of during the last years. Now it looks like a ghost house as you walk down the empty, hollow corridors framed by shabby wall paintings and torn curtains hanging from the huge French windows. Suddenly you’re hit by a wave of cold wind and there’s something itching under your skin, a bad premonition with doubts choking you. You’re not sure anymore if it’s really a good idea to stay but what better you could do? Outside the hunt is waiting for you and Death would welcome you in his loving arms. Compared to that, somehow there’s safety in uncertainty.
You walk around mindlessly, searching for a place for the night where you can lay your head down. It’s pure coincidence that you find that room, the one with shining gold handle at the end of the hallway. Unlike any other part of the castle, this one suite seems so untouched and intact as if nobody stepped over the threshold in years. Dust has settled onto each furniture and piece of clothing but other than that it’s the cleanest part of the place and you fell asleep as soon as you crawl under the blankets and close your eyes. It has been a long day.
It’s already bright outside when you wake up, blinking the sleepiness and faded memories of your dreams out of your mind. Stretching you sit up and look around. In the daylight, the dim rays of rising sun casts light on the marble walls and on the paintings you couldn’t see in the dark earlier yesterday. There’s a huge piece of art right across the baldachin bed that portrays the members of the royal family: a man on the chair, a woman on his right and a child, no older than four years sitting on his knees. They seem like a loving family and you only realize belatedly why this painting is in this room. Oh. It must have been the former King and Queen’s bedchamber.
As you realize this, it feels wrong to stay there any longer. Even though you have always known this is considered as a break-in, you didn’t mean to sleep in the bed of the passed away monarchs of the Jeons. As soon as you leave the room after refreshing yourself a bit in the old-fashioned washroom, the hit of cold touches you again and creeps under your skin. Your head whips towards the window expecting predators on the other side and you aren’t too wrong. You could still sense them, their bad blood and the hatred following them like vultures. The hunters who are reckless enough to dare to come closer to the castle their kind fears so much.
Your steps are light on the floor, echoless as you barely move around in the hallways and yet, a tired, furious voice rings in your ear.
“I told you to leave.”
The stranger reminds you of his order and you turn around, eyes searching for the young man in the ballroom you have merely bypassed. He sits there with his back to you, at the old piano. He hasn’t pressed any key yet otherwise you would have heard it but he’s still there, not even bothering to turn towards you. You don’t blame him for hiding nor not wanting to see one of your kind. But it’s not an excuse for his rude behaviour.
“The hunters are still in the forest,” you tell him, explaining that you only stay because you’re not very keen on dying so soon. However, the young man couldn’t be bothered any less.
“I don’t care. Go away!” he stands up from the piano chair hastily almost tripping over his own legs in the hustle. The snarl on his face is full of disgust and annoyance for whatever reason.
“Not to be rude but who the hell do you think you are to order me around?” you retort unwilling to show the white feather anymore. You aren’t a coward, no fairy is. “As far as I know you could be just another stray who found an empty place to stay.”
For the first time the almighty stranger looks utterly confused and dumbfounded. He looks at you closely, gaze dragging over your figure leaning onto the wall by the threshold. It takes a few long moments for him to speak again.
“You really don’t know?” He blinks, unsure like he doesn’t know how to do introductions. There’s bitterness between his consonants while he does it anyway with a grimace tinting his scarred mouth. “I’m King Jeongguk, last descendant of the Jeon dynasty. The monster people tell stories about.”
“Well then I don’t see a monster, just a spoiled brat,” you’re quick to reply, too reckless for your own good even though you have heard the stories too. But you thought they were just that: stories, fiction. Until the antagonist itself doesn’t roar into your face.
“Are you blind or what?” Jeongguk punches into the doorframe right behind your head and you can’t help but think how his outburst of anger is so unfit for the royal he says himself to be. His heavy breath is fanning your face as he towers over you and his eyes roam over your soft features dubiously. “Aren’t fairies supposed to be unable to lie?”
“We cannot lie. Or at least we cannot speak words we know as untrue,” you confirm, forcing your voice to be calm and steady.
The so-called king hums then smirks, darkness casting over his face dangerously.
“Then tell me: don’t I look horrifying?”
His question is followed by defeating silence. The words freeze onto the tip of your tongue as you are forced to stare into his red eye. It reminds you of the bleeding moon and sacrifices that shouldn’t have been done.
At your speechless state, the boy scoffs like he expected this answer and he takes a step back, his eyes glinting like dark stars as if he won something. But there’s something haunting behind the glitter: the pain of being proved right in a matter he has never wanted to.
“I have seen worse,” you blurt out in the very end and you really have.
You have seen curses that made people so inhumane you couldn’t even recognize them beneath their new exterior and you have seen the dead of wars, tortured, skinned and drawn. On the other hand, Jeongguk looks like he has a weed garden from the inside. Still himself but the rotting nature made home inside of him. You aren’t sure what kind of curse made him like this but you know you could do something.
“If you would just let me help...” You reach out carelessly, not thinking but before you could even just graze the skin of the boy’s cheek, he yells at you.
“Don’t touch me, you filthy creature!” he bats your hand away furiously and wipes the back of his hand that touched your bare skin into his rugs as if he couldn’t bear the ghost memory of you trace on him.
You recoil in shock, taken aback by his arrogance.
“You know what? I don't even want to stay here with you,” you pretty much spit the words at him because you aren’t willing to listen to his hateful words anymore. You were wrong: you still have enough pride left to not let yourself be so looked down on.
The Jeons’ king doesn’t even know you, yet he has already decided to hate you and you don’t need one more human the kingdom that wants to make life a living hell for you. At least the Kims order to kill every fairy on sight but there’s no torture or no hurtful words thrown at you, merely an arrow throw your beating heart.
With hasty movements you don’t even waste any more time. Turning on your heels, you rush out of the door, down the stairs back to the main hall. You grab your hooded cape from the floor where you had left yesterday and slam the huge entrance door behind you with a loud thud scaring the pigeons away from the pit in the ill-kempt garden.
You run without a destination in mind, you have no idea where to but away for sure. Not out of fear, not because you think the snobbish king would follow you but because you don’t need toxic people near you and the overwhelming urge to leave has never felt so inviting. So you follow the melody of your rapid heartbeats until the anger dies down, until the snow melts under your feet, until an arrow pierces through the cape that’s swirling in the air behind you.
You halt, the cloth yanks you back and you’re not quick enough to get rid of it. Three hunters on horseback surround you and look at you in pity. A girl in a thin floral dress under the thick coat and fire in her eyes. Of course, they belittle you, the fools.
“Oh the little witch came back to play,” one of them mocks both you and your magic that’s miles away from the western magic bearers they mention.
Just to show them what you can do, whom they are facing with, you fist your hand like you’re holding something in it. Waiting for the right moment, you don’t move until all of them gets off the horses and starts approaching you tentatively like you were a wild animal. That’s when you let go the power in your grip with a sudden movement and a small avalanche of snow pours to them from the trees above you all. Just in time, while they are busy with the distraction, you hide behind the thick tree trunk struggling with steadying your breath.
Come on, think! You have to get out of here.
“Are you enjoying hide and seek, sweetheart? We were really patient waiting for you to come back,” a man chuckles and the others join him in the laughter. You’re disgusted at how much they enjoy this mass murder that’s going on.
“Come out and play,” another one tries to rile you up but you’re smarter than to walk right into their trap and believe that they would let you go easier if you listened to them and maybe grant them a wish like some claimed your kind could.
Crouching down you try to make yourself as small as you can, so you could pass by them without getting noticed, maybe snatching one of their horses but as a branch of tree hidden by the layer of fresh snow snaps under your boots, you know you got caught.
“There you are,” a strong hand grabs on the back of your dress and tugs you back brutally. You end up falling on your butt in the cold snow staring up the three men circling around you, their prey. Brute, bulky huntsmen. Their laughs is like the cawing of crows.
“Oh, it’s a pretty one. How much do you think we would get if we sold her head?”
“Hm… let me see,” one of them, the tallest one leans closer and taps your chin, so that you have to look him in the eye and when you do, you spit into his face. His smirk only widens as he wipes the saliva away. “A feisty one for sure,” he clicks his tongue and grabs your hair crushing your sensitive ears with his strong hold.
You don’t think twice as you unbind a dagger with feminine hilt from the belt of your dress and slice a part of the air with it drawing a pretty scar on the closest man’s cheek.
“Bitch,” he curses and forces the dagger out of your hand almost breaking your fingers in the process. You yelp as you feel a knife pushed to your throat from the back and flinch at the rough hands tearing at your hair to keep you in place. It’s unfair, three grown up man against one girl but you wouldn’t go down so easily, or at least not alone.
“Animals,” you growl at the hunter in front of you and kick him right in the stomach as hard as you can. It’s not enough but satisfaction still settles in your bones as you watch him fall. He doesn’t find it so funny though.
“I’ll enjoy skinning you,” he flashes a lopsided grin and picks up an arrow out of the quiver fallen on the ground. The sight itself injects fear into your bloodstream.
You know it too well, that the arrow’s head is dipped in poison and it’s deadly as soon as it pierces through your skin and reaches your veins. You squirm in the arms of the hunters struggling to escape while you don’t take your eyes off the weapon.
“Let’s hear you scream, doll.” A stinking breath hits your neck as the man on your right whispers into your ear and you want to puke.
“Let her go.”
Suddenly an angry growl shakes the area and for a moment all the hunters seem to freeze. You follow their gazes towards the voice’s source and your mouth falls open. Jeongguk stands there in a worn jacket with a crossbow in his hands aiming at the men holding you.
“Let. Her. Go,” he repeats and the authority in his tone proves that he was raised to lead people.
Not these hunters though. They don’t move.
“She’s ours.”
“I’m nobody’s,” you hiss and twist your arms in a way that hurts but makes it possible for you to bend down and give enough space for your unexpected saviour to shoot the other men. Blood spills onto the back of your dress and you feel it leak through the soft, white material. You should be disgusted but instead, you feel relief rushing through your veins.
As the hands get loose on you, you pick up your dagger and send it flying straight towards the chest of the man who threatened you earlier. Just as you let comfort flood in your system because each assaulter is on the ground, the man with blood bubbling from his side grabs on your ankle pulling you towards him. The ground slips under your feet and watch in horror the arrow held in his other hand waiting to strike.
Jeongguk comes to your rescue again, to free your leg from the grip but he’s careless, he doesn’t see the attack coming from his left. You realize in fear that he can’t see with his red eye.
“Watch out,” you scream, trying to warm him but it’s too late. Just as he strips the rough fingers from around your ankle and moves to help you up, the half-dead hunter sticks the poisoned arrow into the monster-looking king’s lower back.
Jeongguk whimpers like a hurt animal and kicks into the hunter mercilessly.
“Are you-” you mumble as you stare at him dumbly. Maybe the arrow wasn’t poisoned after all? Or is it the curse that makes the blood in his veins unaffected? You’re confused and watch him in worry.
“I’m fine,” he shushes you away and stands up on unsteady legs.
It doesn’t take a whole minute and he falters. Falling to his knees, he collapses on the cold, harsh ground.
“No-no-no...” your teeth are shattering as you crawl to him.
He just saved your life. He can’t die leaving such a burden for you to bear now that you own him. To your relief, he still has a pulse beating faintly under your fingertips and a shallow breathing dancing on your skin when you lean close enough.
“Fuck,” you swear when you grab him under his armpits and try to lift him off the ground. In the end, you have to use a bit of magic to put him on one of the horses. You plan on guiding the animal back to the castle on foot but your leg hurts too much where the huntsman grabbed you. You take a deep breath and limp to stand in front of the horse and stroke its skin in soothing circles.
“Take us back to the castle, straight on that path down there. Careful, okay?” you whisper looking into the mild creature’s big, warm brown eyes. The horse neighs and you pat its back in encouragement. As soon as you step backwards, it follows your command obediently. You quickly get another horse, tugging on the bridle of the third too as you go after them. It goes simply because when a fairy speaks, the nature listens.
Back in the castle, you lay Jeongguk down on his side and strip him off that ragged shirt and jacket he wears. Under the layers, there’s still so much blood. Breaking off the end of the arrow, you only have to worry about the head that pierced deeply into the king’s skin. It bleeds angry red just like any other human would but for once, the curse works beneficially for him as it doesn’t let the poison get into his bloodstream. Silver drops of the deadly liquid pool on the old cloth you laid on the bed. When you pull out the metal from the flesh, Jeongguk hisses in pain and all his thorns move as his body tenses. You clean his wound with herbs you found on the way back and wrap it up nicely in a bandage.
By the time night falls, Jeongguk gets a vicious fever. You feed him hot soup even though he’s barely conscious and put a cold pack on his forehead. You stay beside him all night in an uncomfortable armchair to watch over his state and just when you’re about to fall asleep and let the dreamland take you in the middle of night, he startles from a fever dream.
“Hey, Jeongguk, it’s alright.” You lean over him and soothe your palms over his tense shoulders as he looks around in panic. You’re a bit worried that he will get the bandage off if he moves around too much, so the sooner you can make him fall asleep again the better. But as soon as his gaze settles on you, his whole body stills and then faster than you’d think he could in his current state, he lunges forward.
“You… you made me this way, ugly witch,” he grumbles as his hands curl around your throat.
You gasp for air as he presses down on your throat-pipe choking you.
“Jeongguk–” you rattle short on breath as you try to pry his fingers off your neck. It’s getting dangerous – the vengeance in his eyes – because you’re sure even wounded he could seriously hurt you.
“Sorry,” you mumble as you blindly take the powder of a rare plant from the table and throw it all in his face. He lets out a painful yelp as it stings getting into his eyes and he quickly covers his itching eyes with both hands. As he lets you go, you immediately jump back waiting until the drug takes effect and knocks him out completely.
Even when he's calmed down, breath even and out to this world, you don’t dare to sleep after that. It's in the late morning when Jeongguk comes back to his senses looking around quite confused like he had no idea what he was doing on one of the sofas with a bandaged wound in his back.
“Hey, how are you feeling?” you inquire worried about his wellbeing but still a bit wary about him wanting and trying to kill you… or maybe you only fear his subconscious.
The king blinks at you surprised to find you - or anyone - beside him while being in such a vulnerable state.
“Numb,” he breathes. His voice is still rough and heavy from sleep.
“Yeah that’s because of the painkiller cream I put on your wound,” you hurry to explain and Jeongguk acknowledges it with a short nod. He isn't looking at you, in fact, he's looking everything but you like he haven't seen this room of the castle countless times before! You don't know what to think of it.
The atmosphere becomes quiet, so quiet you can hear the cool breeze move the curtains. It only takes a few more passing minutes of talking without words and you can't bear the awkwardness any further.
“Thank you… for coming to help me,” you whisper into the expanding void between you and finally, Jeongguk graces you with his utmost attention, eyes dark and honest.
He doesn’t say it out loud, that it was wrong of him what he said to you before you left but it’s there in his eyes, at least in the human one.
“Thank you for not leaving me there,” he says instead while chewing on his lower lip anxiously. “And sorry… for that.”
He means the bruises on your neck that weren’t there in his memories. Your right hand comes up to cover the marks out of instinct and you realize that you stupidly forgot to put healing cream on them.
“It’s okay. You weren’t yourself,” you reassure him that you don’t hold grudges against him. It’s funny, isn’t it? How you were so keen on leaving and write him off him as a rude, arrogant person and now your opinion of him changed so quickly. But actions speak louder than words or so they say. Even a judgemental person like Jeongguk needs to know that he isn’t the monster he thinks he is just because he’s said to be one.
“That shouldn't be an excuse,” he mumbles bitterly but you don't want to argue. You have other, most important issues to discuss.
“Do I remind you of her?” you ask faintly, almost not sure if you’re allowed to bring that incident up. You don’t want him to get mad but it has been haunting you ever since he launched himself onto you with that murderous glare of his.
But he doesn't seem to realize at first what you could be talking about. He answers with a question.
“Who?”
“The fairy that cursed you.”
She must have been a powerful one, you guess, close to the Queen’s bloodline to cast a curse like this. A curse that miraculously saved Jeongguk’s life just now. You could never do that.
“In a way every fairy would remind me of her,” the king admits, recalling the cruel smile of the princess which reminds him… “What happened to your kind’s kingdom after mine fell?”
He doesn’t ask: what happened to her, the princess? Because he claims he doesn’t care and he almost believes himself.
“We couldn’t withstand the attack. We might have magic and hundreds of knights but the poisoned arrows came from nowhere with no declaration of war, no warning,” you sigh, awful memories fighting their way up from the hidden corners of your mind. It's been two years but you still remember it all vividly. It's never easy to forget a war. Even so if it’s still going on in a much subtle way then open slaughter. “Fairies are loyal creatures but the Queen told us to spread and hide in other kingdoms because she wasn’t willing to see us all die to protect the Court.”
Jeongguk nods, because he knew this would happen. He had warned the princess but she was so proud, she ruined them both. He should feel satisfaction that he was right but instead, the victory tastes like bitter medicine.
“Were you there?” he casts a glance at you sitting on his bedside. In his eyes, you look so fragile, all gentle lines and smooth skin. Before he could barely imagine you with a sword in your hands and yet, he just saw you fight three men twice your size and you were the one who brought him back here all the way from the snow-covered forest. You were anything but weak and nothing proved it better than the bruises on your neck and the scratches made by tree branches on your face.
“At the war you mean?” you raise a brow not knowing what exactly he meant by that. You have been in a lot of places. Jeongguk nods and his eyes are wide as he has been told an untold tale. “Yes, every fairy is a warrior of some kind.”
The king lets out a non-committal hum and closes his eyes to rest them a bit. But before he realizes, your sweet voice telling him about your traditions and habits lulls him back to buoyant dreams.
You’d never absolve him of his sins because you know very well that he isn’t a saint. But like this, he looks so young, too vulnerable to wear these battle scars.
It reminds you of the stories whispered in the villages close by, the tell-tales about a pretentious prince who has never left the castle he was born into. They say the entire household left him behind because he was so horrendous and the monster he came to be only feeds on the poor souls lost in the forest. Now you know it’s hardly true. Just like most stories.
After Jeongguk recovers and your scars also heal, things shift between the two of you. Something you can't quite put your finger on - trust maybe? - definitely evolves because he doesn’t ask you to leave ever again. Instead he just…
“You’re still here,” he blurts out stopping in his tracks when he sees you at a balcony one fine morning. He’s limping a bit because his back still hurts but the wound heals nicely around your needlework.
“Uh yeah, I sprained my ankle, so I have to wait until it heals,” you turn your back on the scenery you admire. You have come to enjoy spending your quiet mornings outside since the weather is getting less chilly as the winter is saying goodbye. You're watching over the awakening fauna of the forest, making friends with birds but you have to admit, it's lonely. Jeongguk isn't so keen on talking with you and you know better than to push. So you sit out there alone each morning until the lord of this place finds you.
“If you don’t mind…”
“No. You can stay, just… just stay away from the western wing.”
That part, as you realize, is the most trashed, the most broken part of the castle, proof of his rage and grief, a representation of his soul. You can't help wondering what happened to him and you're too nosy for your own good because you want to help him no matter what. You can't bear the thought of leaving him here alone and bitter once you're ready to go.
That’s why one morning when Jeongguk decides to join you on the balcony, you initiate a conversation that's long overdue.
“When you said you know what could lift the curse...”
“It won’t happen. Stop asking.” He doesn't even let you finish. His posture stiffens and his face darkens as he talks about the curse.
“Have you tried getting the marks removed? To pull out the thorns?” you keep on asking, trying to open up his shell, to make him realize you just want to help.
Fairy magic doesn’t work that way, you know that, but it would still worth a try.
“I have consulted every healer and doctor in my kingdom, they couldn’t do anything. The thorns grow back once you break them,” Jungkook objects and he can confidently say this because he’d tried. Multiple times and he failed each attempts. He learnt that it’s better not to hope than to get disappointed. “In a few months, it’s not going to matter anymore anyway.”
“Why...” Why do you think that? You’ve wanted to ask but Jeongguk is too quick to misunderstand you.
“Why was I cursed? Because I’m selfish and arrogant, ugly from the inside. She said that she just made it seen from the outer side,” he laughs dryly. He remembers clearly how he begged to the princess written her countless letters only receiving an answer when it was too late he couldn’t save his kingdom. The princess said the curse punishes him until he learns to see right, speak right and feel right. Whatever that meant.
“You know the more people tell you how good you are, how talented, how handsome… how fucking perfect, the more you believe them and strive to make it true. At some point I lost my good judgement. I was selfish, impulsive and reckless after my parents’ death. I wanted to save the kingdom at any price and look at it now! I’m the one who destroyed it.”
There’s so much sadness in his words that you would like nothing more than to hold him, to brush his hands away from his eyes but you don’t dare to move. You don’t know if you’re allowed to. He snapped at you roughly when you last touched his skin and you wouldn’t like to get on his bed side again. So you just sit there with him listening to his breathing become steady again as you both bath in the warm sunshine.
Jeongguk dreams a dreamless dream that night. There’s nothing but vast darkness and an echo of a painfully familiar, bewitching voice: How does it feel? To admit and say it out loud? How is it to say monstrous things about yourself? Think, young king, think before you speak because words can hurt just as much as nicely carved blades.
Jeongguk wakes up covered in sweat despite the open windows and the chilly night breeze of late winter. He tries to persuade himself that it was nothing more than a dream, one of the nightmares he’s used to but he remembers the fairy princess’ devilish smile all too much.
He reaches for the glass placed on his nightstand table and only when the fresh water touches his mouth, does he feel the difference. It freezes him in place for a minute. He can’t believe it, he’s too afraid to believe it as he slowly, not daring to hope too much, puts his fingers to his lips, chapped as always and then tentatively he darts his tongue out. A normal human tongue instead of the divided tongue of a snake that he had to get used to in the past years. He feels his entire lungs collapse with both relief and panic. What if it’s just a dream?
He’s still ugly as ever but he had never hated anything more that those parts of his new horrendous appearance that constantly reminded him of his disfigured body. Like the tongue, the one-sided blindness, the heavy horns on his head, the thorns digging deep in his skin… and now the hideous tongue is gone. What does it mean?
He isn't foolish enough to believe it's anything good.
“Can you play?” you ask the next time you see him in the ballroom by the grand piano. Curiosity is dripping from your words like honey.
His breath hitches involuntarily when he turns around to look at you. There's a flower crown made of snowdrops on the top of your head complementing the nice fall of your locks.
“I could but now…” it hurts. He doesn’t say but you see the scars on his fingertips, they’re angry red.
“Can I?” you gesture towards the piano and the bench he's sitting on, asking for permission. Jeongguk looks at you for a long time and then nods.
You're careful not to make any sudden movements as you approach him and sit down next to him. It actually surprises you that he doesn’t pull away but stays there by your side watching you play. The instrument hasn’t been used in a long, long time, you can tell and you’re out of practice too, but thanks to the ballrooms acoustics the harmonies are nice. You forget yourself in the music and looking at you, Jeongguk can't help but think that it's magic too.
It happens slowly, gradually like spring takes over the place of winter and fills the fields with flowers. It happens unseen between garden walks, stargazing sessions and library talks. It happens in the littlest things.
“Can I cut your hair?” you ask when it’s finally getting warmer but you start to miss the hidden warmth of that brown eye. Jeongguk blinks and stares at you in utter surprise like he's never had his hair cut. Suddenly you feel a bit silly for offering. He could do that himself if he really wanted to, right? “Sorry… I just noticed that you keep brushing away the fringe that's getting in your eyes.”
“Uh... yes. I mean, you can,” he announces just as you turn away.
You arrange Jungkook to be seated on a wooden chair in the kitchen and you circle around him.  You have never cut anyone’s hair before, so you hold his messy locks gently and carefully slid the scissors across the strands letting them fall one by one. It feels strangely intimate. Even so since Jungkook doesn't tear his eyes away whenever you're in front of him.
“This isn’t from the curse, right?” you whisper as your index finger gently follows the line of a scar across his face, starting from his eyebrow up until his jawline.
“No, it’s from those who think I’m a monster,” Jeongguk answers with the corners of his mouth turning down and eyes closed. He thinks they are right, you can tell it from his posture and your own cold heart aches with it. Fairies are supposed to be manipulative creatures, always playing little games in the head but it doesn’t take away your ability for sympathy.
“You’re not,” you tell him because he is no more of a monster than everybody’s their own monster, the worst kind. Jeongguk doesn’t say anything, he doesn’t need to. His silence is comforting enough.
By the time you finish, you have a whole mound of hair at your leg and you can’t suppress a smile thinking how much Jeongguk looks less like a caveman with his new haircut. And even though he doesn’t say it out loud, he feels more humane too.
“Done,” you clap proudly at your own handiwork and then start cleaning up the mess you made. The boy of royal blood watches you intently, head bobbing to the rhythm of the silly, lovesick folk song you're humming.
“You’ve never told me your name,” he wonders aloud.
“You never asked,” you shrug nonchalantly with the final brushes of the broom. But secretly it makes you happy that now he cares at all.
“I’m asking now,” he says and you tell him just like that.
He repeats the soft vowels after you, playing with the word, committing it into his memory like someone memorizes a complex painting wanting to remember even the slightest details.
“Pretty,” he mumbles and you have to fight the blush creeping up your neck. Gosh, he was just complimenting your name, why are you acting like this?
You prepare to go back to your room – a smaller one that used to be one of the maids but you tidied it up nicely - just so you can bury yourself in a book stolen from the library to hide your silly smile but then Jeongguk surprises you with a confession.
“You’re nothing like her.”
Your vibrant greenish blue eyes turn to him curious and confused.
“What?”
“You’re nothing like the fairy that cursed me,” he tells you, eyes sincere, voice soothing and your heart throbs.
You remember as clear as daylight what he told you: And you’re one of them. Ugly, sly creatures. So you just smile at him softly and when you finally leave, a warm feeling follows.
The black emptiness welcomes Jeongguk in his dream again. The otherworldly sound echoes in his mind: How does it feel? To see others for who they are and not for what they are? You know that difference better than anyone, don’t you? Remember, young king, remember that we can’t help what we were born but we are who we make ourselves to be.
When Jungkook startles awake at dawn he doesn’t feel the difference at first. The bright bleeding orange of the rising sun is on his right but then, on his left, he catches a glimpse of his reflection and a young man stares back at him with two blown, dark brown eyes. A boy with freshly cut, messy dark hair… without horns. He keeps touching the top of his head because he can't believe it. After the past two years, it's almost too good to be true.
His appearance leaves you astonished too. You’re sitting in the dining room sipping on your herbal tea and when you look up, your cup-holding hand stills in mid-air.
“What… what happened to you?” you gape at Jeongguk dumbfounded because the change is so prominent this time. Of course, you noticed that his snake-like tongue was gone too but you didn't know what to make out of it and you’d rather not ask about something like that. But now with his horns gone too and his human eyes back, he looks a lot less scary. Just like you’ve always known.
“I don’t know.”
He runs a hand through his own hair in awe and stares at you like you could know the answer. There are still thorns, unhealed bruises and ugly scars on his body but he resembles more and more the young king he used to be. The one looking determined and proud on his coronation painting you’ve found torn in the throne room.
“Didn’t you say the curse cannot be broken by any methods you’re willing to try?” you recall his sentiment, not his actual words but Jeongguk doesn’t protest at your imprecision.
“I didn’t think it was possible,” he admits as the fairy princess' words echo in his ears: King Jeongguk, your people who blindly trust you will finally see who you really are. You’re selfish and empty-hearted, so hear my curse. This rose blooms until you turn 21. If the last petal falls and the flower dies, you shall stay in your monstrous form for ever. The only way to break the curse is to find someone who truly loves you, someone who can teach you how to love.
Jeongguk ridiculed love then and told the fairy that it's impossible for royals like them, so the curse was also a test of his beliefs.
Since you don't know any of that, you can only guess it's the kind of fairy curse that has an expiration date. And when that day finally comes, Jeongguk will be a handsome, legitimate king again fighting to get back what he lost. He’ll soon forget about the stubborn fairy staying in his castle a while back. For a reason, it makes you nervous. You keep fidgeting with the hem of your dress, tea long forgotten. You know now is the time.
“Actually I’m really glad that you’re getting… better,” more human? You hesitate, chewing on the inside of your cheek. “Because I… my ankle is fine now and the forest is quiet, so I should... I should go. My family waits for me.”
It’s been days, actually weeks since you don’t feel the sharp pang of pain in your leg whenever you walk. You told yourself you’d wait only to make sure but day after day you kept waiting and it couldn’t get any better anymore. You didn’t want to admit but you stayed for him, because you didn’t want to leave Jeongguk’s side. But your family is in hiding in a small village up North and they will leave with the next shipping ferry at the end of the month. You'd better go if you don't want to miss it. You should have been there a lot earlier to be honest. It's been almost a months since you’re here but the thought of leaving still makes your throat close up and Jeongguk doesn't make it easier either.
His smile falls much like withering leaves in early winter. Of course, what did he expect? Everyone leaves. He was stupid to hope you wouldn’t just because his curse is getting less effective.
“Oh. Sure. You shouldn’t stay out of pity,” is what he says when his heart wishes: please don’t leave.
“That isn’t what I was doing.” You taste something bitter as you protest. It bites into you, sealing your lips, so you can’t plead: ask me to stay.
He doesn't. Even when his eyes bore into yours, he doesn't say anything.
He only has few months until his 21st birthday, that fateful one that will seal his fate. If he can’t break the curse until then, he’ll stay in this form forever. How could he let you leave now? When he’s so sure it’s you who’s helping him get better? But he can’t just lock you up and keep you there. That would be just as bad of him. You deserve better. You should be with your family.
“Then take care,” you say instead of goodbye because you can't bear to stay any longer in this awkward state, not when your heart is threatening to break into pieces so easily like fine china.
There’s no answer and your heart aches.
“Take care,” he whispers once you’re long gone taken all your belongings with you, everything that he could remember you by. There’s nothing but the half-read book left open on the dining table and your scent still lingering in the air.
He cares for you. A lot, he realizes, so what would it say about him if he hadn’t let you go?
That night he can’t sleep but he still hears the enchanting words: How does it feel? To love someone so much to give up something for them? Can you see now, young king, can you see that selfish actions wouldn’t bring any good?  But you shall see the selfless is always rewarded in the end.
You walk without looking back until night falls upon the land. You know that this time Jeongguk won’t follow you yet hope blooms in your chest instead of fear whenever you hear a crack or any strange noise in the forest. It takes long hours to convince yourself that it really won’t happen.
When it’s getting dark, it occurs to you that you could rest on a tree in the forest like you used to do but after your latest encounter with the hunters you’d rather not risk it. So you pay for a night in a small room above a fairy sympathizer inn in a hidden part of the wild area. It’s more hectic than you’d have thought and while you’re having your humble dinner you hear the others talk about rumours that the Kims plan to attack the castle. They say they want to claim the rest of the Jeon territory because the monster that lives there killed their hunters; it’s too dangerous to let it stray. The possibility of the gossips coming true scares you and your grip on the counter tightens with every overheard word.
“Care to join me?” a gentle hand touches yours and looking up you face with the prettiest fairy you’ve ever seen.
“Your Highne–” you gape at her, the princess of your Court smiling down at you brightly.
“Shh, my sister, not here.” She shakes her head slightly and leads you to a private room already filled with several of your kind. The princess offers you a place on the wide sofa alongside with a refreshing drink, the ambrosia of fairies. You’re in awe at her kindness, the gentleness she treats you but you can’t help the anxious knots in your stomach urging you to go back to Jeongguk. “You look dishevelled. Have you just arrived?”
“Yeah, from the forest,” you nod and take another sip of the nectarine.
“Oh such a dangerous place,” she says with a hint of intent and motherly understanding colouring her voice. Her cornflower blue eyes are curious, waiting for you to open up.
With each drop of the energizing liquid tasting like pure sunshine on your tongue, the eagerness to do something builds up in you until it becomes too much to bear.
“I need to go back. I need to warn–”
“Jeongguk. I know,” the princess smiles sweetly and gently brushes a stray lock behind your ear. “He saved you, didn’t he?”
“He did more than that,” you blurt out before you could think about the meaning it holds.
You don’t even realize until you say it out loud and your own confession leaves you astonished. He might have been rude to you at first but with time, you could see more and more of his softer side and the way he cared in the most subtle ways. You already miss him and the quiet mornings spent together on the balcony.
The omniscient eyes of the princess soften. Fairies are loyal creatures and in time of need the Court appreciates every bit of kindness: we protect those who protect us, they say.
“Does your heart pull you back to him?” she asks and you blink hard.
“How…” did you know that?
“Magic, dear,” the princess chuckles like one would be amused at a child’s mistake. Then her face turns serious and the entire room goes quiet at her next words. “Go and tell him that we’ll fight beside him. We won’t let the Kims have the entire land. We’ll fight back.”
Jeongguk is ready to sink back into his self-hatred filled loneliness when the castle begins to feel like the ghost of itself, hollow and empty. He certainly doesn’t expect the repetitive knocks on his bedroom’s door. When he opens it wide, he’s too surprised to be mad at you for showing up in the western wing he specially told you to stay away from. Instead he’s rendered speechless as he’s staring at your blushed cheeks and determined eyes. Not to mention the whole army of fairies behind you.
“Jeongguk, is that you? What happened? Is the curse broken?” you stumble over you words because you’re just as surprised as him. You liked him with horns and thorns and all his flaws by the time you left but at this moment, there’s a gorgeous young man in front of you. Tall and lean, skin smooth in a golden hue and your breath hitches as you look him in the eye. That sad sea of brown is glinting with a hint of hope now.  
“Wha– What are you doing here?” he asks confused, your questions long forgotten. To be honest, he doesn’t even know the answers himself.
“The Kims are preparing an attack. I brought reinforcement,” you tell him and suddenly Jeongguk can’t decide what to feel. There are so many emotions rushing through him as he’s looking over all the pointy ears, bright eyes and proud looks on the dozen strangers in his hallway. And among them there’s one he knows practically very well, one that he asked of the same thing you brought him: her men and women to fight on his side.
“Princess…” he curtly nods as a greeting towards the royal standing on your right.
“I see you have learnt the lesson, Jeon Jeongguk,” she says firmly and that’s only when you realize it has been her all along who cursed the boy. No wonder why she has known where you’d come from. “Now don’t forget and one day, you shall be a great king to be proud of.”
“Thank you,” Jeongguk whispers and at first, you think he’s still talking to the princess. But looking up, you find his gaze fixed on you. Daringly, you take his hand in yours, playing with the fingers because you know it won’t hurt him anymore and smile like there’s nothing in the world that could ruin this moment.
“Don’t thank me yet. We still have a battle to fight.”
Author’s note: Since the prologue as I like to call it was one of my first stories posted on tumblr and this idea has been bugging me for a while, I decided to write the actual “tale” to celebrate my 2nd anniversary on this blog. I know this is an open ending and there’re quite a few questions left unanswered but it’s totally intentional since I plan to write an epilogue hopefully sooner than the 4th anniversary of the blog. Till then I hope you enjoyed, thank you for reading and hit me up if you have anything to tell me about it. ♥
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roseunspindle · 2 months ago
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Movies I Love (and you should watch)
Interview with the Vampire
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Inside Out
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Pitch Black
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Kiki’s Delivery Service
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Star Wars Original Trilogy 
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Star Wars Prequel Trilogy
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The Haunting of Hill House
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Lost Boys
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Lord of the Rings Trilogy
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Captain America: The First Avenger
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Dragonheart
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The Last Unicorn
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Legend
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The Cat From Outer Space
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Beauty and the Beast
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Brokeback Mountain
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Ever After
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Rose Red
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Pride and Prejudice
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him-e · 3 years ago
do you have any general predictions for Star Wars episode 9?
I’m not too confident in my predictions for IX, because TLJ was one giant curveball thrown at us. Not because we didn’t correctly predict most of it (we did) but because the ending wiped a lot of possible paths out of the way, with no actual cliffhanger to pin speculation on, Snoke dead, and the main storyline from Return of the Jedi already covered without bearing the expected fruit (=Kylo’s redemption). So as far as sw tropes and patterns go, IX is almost uncharted territory. Still, Star Wars is a fairytale, and imo the best way to predict where it’s going is to focus on larger themes and archetypal narratives. The central theme for IX was spelled out in in TLJ very clearly: we are going to win this war not by killing what we hate, but by saving what we love. I’m fairly confident that this theme will be developed through both Rey and Kylo, individually and together.(*)
Kylo Ren’s arc is also the main axis of this trilogy so in order to know where the story is going you have to figure out where he is going. And right now, Kylo Ren moved beyond Vader. Breaking the leash and killing his master did not redeem him, but actually cemented him as the Villain. In TLJ, he went from lost boy to actual god of the underworld. There’s no big bad outranking him. He’s the sole architect of his own misery. You can’t save him by eliminating another player—that ship has sailed with TLJ. At the same time, I have no doubt he’ll redeem himself. So how will he do it? In Beauty and the Beast—which I think is one of the patterns this trilogy was modeled on—the real villain is neither the witch nor Gaston, and it’s certainly not the Beast himself; if there’s a villain at all, it’s the Beast’s darker, uglier nature, whatever is crippling his ability for love and gentleness and self sacrifice, that has to be defeated. Like the Beast, Kylo is responsible for creating the dark castle that has become his prison; the only way to be free is to learn to let go—let go of his anger, let go of his ambition and desire to dominate, let go of his possessiveness towards Rey; let the Beast die in order to break the spell. The Beast is the Kylo Ren persona and everything that persona is connected to and helped create (the First Order, Hux). So I think one of the climaxes of the movie, if not The climax, will be the ~death~of Kylo Ren (and, I hope, the rebirth of Ben Solo).
With that in mind, here are my predictions (bold for the ones I’m relatively certain of, italics for half-predictions-half-wishful-thinking):
there will be a time jump (anything from 6 months to 3 years);  
the Resistance will have partially regrouped and be possibly doing some recruiting work across the galaxy;
we’ll see more new planets and maybe some familiar ones (Tatooine, Coruscant, Naboo? Perhaps we’ll even go back to Jakku)
Poe will be in charge, but there will be tension between him and Rey, maybe between him and Finn too—like, disagreements about military strategies and about Rey’s role in the war. Poe seems to have internalized Holdo’s message on his own terms: where Holdo’s “spark” line was about creation, Poe’s still thinking in terms of destruction. So I think he’ll actually butt heads with Rey, and Finn might be caught in the crossfire. Finn might agree with Poe at first, but eventually his loyalty to Rey will prevail.
(the tension will be eventually reconciled during the third act of the film)
a lightsaber fight between Rey and Kylo (we haven’t had one since TFA so it’s long overdue), to establish their current status as conflicted enemies who think their respective paths are sealed and it can’t be any other way. Maybe this happens when their respective armies are watching so they literally can’t avoid the duel. But the audience already knows they won’t truly hurt each other, so it will be more of a way to have them vent their feelings of hurt and yell a bit and like, “I offered you the galaxy and you betrayed me! “No, you betrayed me!!”, you know.
Reylo angst
more specifically, force bond angst (it would be a complete waste of juicy narrative potential to drop the force bond storyline, although I suspect that JJ will put his personal spin on it, either visually or conceptually). Whether Rey and Kylo went through a time of not having force connections at all (and possibly believing the bond is dead for good) or ignoring them whenever they happened, in IX the radio silence will be broken, and it will be angsty at first.
the bond will be discovered, causing Rey and Kylo to fall from grace among their own ranks. Their loyalty will be questioned, their connection to the enemy feared and regarded with suspicion. People will try to take advantage of it.
Poe/the Resistance will try to corner Rey into using the bond as a trap for Kylo, which will make her furious (paralleling BatB, where the villagers use Belle’s magic mirror to find the Beast and slaughter him);
JJ might partially reframe Rey’s parentage by adding more information and details about why she was sold out by her parents (rey*sky though is dead and will stay dead)
Leia’s death will be a plot point, one way or another. It’s possible we learn about her death in the opening crawl, and the film opens with the aftermath of her death and/or her funeral;
Leia’s death will have a major impact on Kylo’s arc and his redemption
Kylo attending to Leia’s funeral via force bond?
We will see Kylo’s loneliness. It will have shakespearian/greek tragedy vibes. 
He will be plagued by visions à la Hamlet and visited by Force ghosts. Luke, at least. Possibly Snoke (though I assume his wouldn’t be a proper Force ghost but either his toxic aura lingering or a figment of Kylo’s imagination, reliving his abuse over and over again). Less likely, Anakin.
Force ghost!Luke will appear to Rey too. (I feel like Rian didn’t give their relationship proper closure, probably on purpose, so that JJ could do something with it)
Kylo will also have to deal with the emptiness of vengeance. His whole family is dead, like he wanted, and yet he’s still suffering and not feeling whole. 
He’ll also see there’s no point in having power if he has no one to share it with.
the first order might produce a new superweapon, the usage of which will cause extra strife between Hux and Kylo;
speaking of weapons, something will be made with the legacy saber. Either that or Rey finally builds her own saber.
Some new aspect of the Force will be revealed, and/or there will be at least one climatic scene involving a massive use of the Force (in battle or else)
FIRSTORDERBOWL! 
Hux will 100% try to overthrow Kylo and become the anti-antivillain, the “mummer’s dragon” to quote asoiaf, because yes, the real enemy might be inside Kylo’s heart but we still need space battles, lightsaber duels and climatic action sequences. Hux hates Kylo, considers him unworthy, craves the title of Supreme Leader for himself, has personally witnessed how volatile and self destructive Kylo is when it comes to his personal emotions, and now knows his weaknesses (it’s unclear if he knew that Kylo Ren = Ben Solo before, but after seeing Kylo going on a rampage against Luke there’s no way he hasn’t connected the dots). The look Hux gives Kylo when Kylo enters the Resistance base on Crait is that of a man who is already plotting a coup. The novelization also says that Hux has access to secret camera recordings, which probably means he has or is soon to discover footage of Kylo killing Snoke to save Rey and the two of them fighting the praetorian guards. So all the elements are in place for Hux to launch a full blown coup… which Kylo won’t see coming because he thinks Hux is a worthless rat and he’s too busy wallowing in his own misery anyway.
The Knights of Ren should come into the picture. Either they’ll side with Kylo or, surprising, with Hux, which would raise the stakes exponentially as Hux would then have both military power and the support of a team of minor dark side users;
Finn will also have a part to play in firstorderbowl. Even though both TLJ and TFA were lacking on this aspect, I still expect to see his connection to the stormtroopers finally coming to fruition. He might incite a revolt, and even if not all the stormtroopers follow him, this would still significantly cripple Hux’s military power;
Kylo might be imprisoned or forced to flee; this new and definitive betrayal will finally make him see that the First Order is not, has never been the Right Way;
or Hux might try to kill two birds with one stone and turn Kylo over to the Resistance, while also revealing that Rey went to the Supremacy to ally herself with Kylo, so that the rebels lose their trust in her. 
Maybe both Kylo and Rey end up as prisoners of the Resistance, or Rey finds herself in such a predicament that she has no choice but flee with Kylo 
I honestly don’t expect Kylo to, like, actually SIDE with the Resistance—I think the movie will use him as a wild card until the end. But one thing will be clear and it’s that he cares for Rey—at the very least, he’s invested in her safety. 
Narratively, it makes sense that this time around it’s either Kylo who goes to Rey or they meet halfway.
We might see some trippy force bond-related other-dimension sequence.
Vision-related stuff, too. Maybe we’ll finally see what THAT part of the TFA forceback was about (the one with Kylo stabbing the “clan member”), or Rey’s vision of the future will come to fruition (assuming that both didn’t already happen with the throne room scene).
there will be a kiss. 
(more than one, actually. Finn’s totally going to kiss Rose and this time it will be a proper kiss.)
but yes. there will be a reylo kiss.
Kylo’s last stand will involve some sort of self sacrifice. I think even in the end he won’t be able to see a future for himself among the /good guys/, so he’d rather go out in a blaze of glory, saving what he loves.
Rey will save him (or try to).
Kylo Ren will symbolically (or even literally) die 
and be revived through massive force-healing by Rey. And it’s going to be a proper disney-style Beauty and the Beast scene.
Pietà/rebirth imagery. Probably heavy-handed.
(*) You could say that Rey already tried to do the “winning by saving” thing and failed, but I don’t believe for a single second that the sequel trilogy is trying to prove that message wrong. It’s just that in TLJ, Rey and Kylo weren’t desperate enough to really understand it. (or they were too desperate). They were still clinging to visions, to perceived notions of “winning” muddling the selflessness of their actions towards each other—Kylo wanted to share his power with an equal, Rey to secure reformed Jedi Ben Solo to the Resistance’s cause so she doesn’t have to be their “only hope”, a burden that probably scares her. They were both trying to placate their loneliness and *win* the other over, for understandable, but still rather self serving reasons. So their convergence was short lived. In IX, they’ll learn to let go, and THEN they’ll be able to make that selfless act of true, unconditional love.
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violethowler · a year ago
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The Heroine’s Journey of Sora
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks writing out my thoughts on Kingdom Hearts and the way the series follows the framework of the Heroine’s Journey. Rather than a bunch of drabbles or a single long-winded post, I’ve decided to break up my explanations of the Heroine’s Journey and the way Kingdom Hearts fits into it as a series of ten essays posted weekly. I will put up a masterpost once all of them are finished, and in the meantime I will have all of them on my blog under the tag ‘Kingdom Hearts and the Heroine’s Journey.’
Due to the length of this essay, I will be putting the full thing under a cut. 
What many Kingdom Hearts fans do not realize is that while Tetsuya Nomura does sometimes make up the details as he goes when it comes to the writing of Kingdom Hearts, he does do things with a plan. 
In the KH3 Ultimania [1], he talked about how he’d had the conclusion of the Dark Seeker Saga outlined by the end of Kingdom Hearts II’s development. In an April 2012 interview [2] with Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, he indicated that he’d had a general framework up to Kingdom Hearts II planned out when the original game was first announced. And in a 2004 interview after the original Chain of Memories was released on GameBoy Advance, he mentioned that he’d already come up with the “last scene” that would serve as the definitive ending of the entire series[3]. 
So while some details may be hard to predict because Nomura comes up with lore and backstory details as he goes, he does have a plan in mind where the overall story is going. And the central arc of the series is entirely predictable once you understand the framework that the story fits into. 
Since the late 1800s, scholars have been studying the common patterns that repeat in stories, legends, and myths across different cultures around the world. One of the most well known templates developed from such research is the Hero’s Journey. In his 1949 book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, literature professor Joseph Campbell published a 17 step formula of storytelling. Campbell held up this framework as the monomyth, an ultimate narrative archetype from which all other stories are derived, and in discussion of his work expressed his view of The Hero’s Journey as a universal framework that showed how people grow from youth into adulthood.
However in the 1980s, Maureen Murdock began work on her own narrative framework. Believing that Campbell’s view on the universality of the Hero’s Journey did not encompass the experiences of every identity like he claimed, Murdock developed what she called The Heroine’s Journey as a critique and response to Campbell’s monomyth. Other authors have shared their own variations of the Heroine’s Journey, but for the purposes of this analysis, I will be focusing on Murdock’s model. Hers is both the oldest one I know of, and the one that I personally have the most familiarity with. Though originally conceived as a therapy tool, the core concepts of Murdock’s template have resulted in its use in storytelling for narratives about protagonists overcoming the ingrained biases and preconceptions of society. 
Some notable examples of stories that follow the Heroine’s Journey template, albeit most with different formulas, include 
Beauty and the Beast
The Hunger Games trilogy
The Princess and the Frog
Tangled
Howl’s Moving Castle
Labyrinth 
Star Wars Sequel Trilogy*
Voltron: Legendary Defender*
*Note: Voltron: Legendary Defender and the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy are examples of 3-act narratives that followed the Heroine’s Journey framework in the first 2 acts only for behind-the-scenes conflicts to result in the formula being abandoned in the final act. 
Despite the name, it is possible in theory to have a male protagonist follow the Heroine’s Journey, much like how you can have a female protagonist in a Hero’s Journey.  While nearly every story I know that follows the Heroine’s Journey template has a female protagonist in the lead role, Kingdom Hearts is the first example that I’ve discovered of a male protagonist following this formula. Sora’s arc across the series follows Murdock’s framework so precisely that I was able to correctly predict the broad strokes of how Re:Mind would go three months before the DLC was released. 
Part I: The Beginning
While the Heroine’s Journey mimics the Hero’s Journey in its early stages, it ultimately goes in its own direction. I plan to go into further detail about the differences between the two in a later essay, but for now I will say that while Campbell’s monomyth describes physical plot points and the themes they represent, the Heroine’s Journey formula focuses on the emotional conflict of the narrative and the psychological development of its main characters. The pattern of the Hero’s Journey is fluid and doesn’t have a fixed central theme, while the core element of the Heroine’s Journey is a protagonist coming of age in a society that consciously or not regards them as lesser because they do not fit in with the expectations of the dominant social group. 
I know that some people who decide to read further will be put off by the fact that the names and descriptions of the Heroine’s Journey feature gendered language and focus on discussions of masculinity and femininity, so allow me to explain. The reason for this is that in a Heroine’s Journey, the protagonist is attempting to conform to a set of traits that the audience’s culture values. In pursuing this external validation, the main character has to suppress a vital part of who they are, cutting themselves off from achieving their full potential. The traits they are suppressing are the ones which are often regarded as feminine, while the ones they are trying to conform to are typically associated with masculinity. We see this pattern frequently in movies where the female lead tries to succeed in a male-dominated career field, only to feel lonely and unfulfilled when she finally gets what she wants because she sacrificed the parts of herself that made her who she is along the way. 
Now that I’ve given you a relatively brief summary of the Heroine’s Journey, I can get down to business and walk people through the steps to this template and how it fits with the story of Kingdom Hearts. Note that this is only a basic rundown of the steps of the Heroine’s Journey and how it relates to these games, and I will be posting additional essays shortly which go into greater detail on the themes, character archetypes, and other different layers of the framework that are present in the series. 
Murdock’s version of the Heroine’s Journey begins with the “Separation from the Feminine”. This is the stage where, as mentioned, the protagonist suppresses a core part of themselves in pursuit of external validation. It often takes the form of the protagonist sacrificing their emotional strengths and focuses exclusively on proving themselves in the physical sphere. Sora has demonstrated again and again that his greatest strength is his empathy and his willingness to make connections with others. It makes him a strong unifying force because of how well it complements the people around him. But because this isn’t something tangible in the same way that physical strength is, he doesn’t see the value of it, believing that without the strength of his friends he’s nothing. 
From the way the other kids on Destiny Islands talk about their competitions, Sora’s focus is on trying to prove that he’s just as strong and capable as Riku is. But he’s so focused on proving himself in physical challenges that he doesn’t notice the signs of Riku’s jealousy that lead his friend into the arms of Maleficent. And we see through Anti Form and Rage Form that Sora is still repressing his own negative emotions in Kingdom Hearts III. His narrow focus on external skills has cut him off from achieving the full potential of his internal ones. 
When Sora awakens in Traverse Town after the destruction of Destiny Islands, we come to the second stage of the Heroine’s Journey, “Identification with the Masculine and Gathering of Allies”. This is where the main character chooses to align with the traits and roles that the dominant social group sees as desirable in order to achieve their goal, and where they acquire the allies who will help them in their quest. With the adults around him focusing on his ability to destroy the Heartless, Sora latches onto the Chosen One status that implicitly comes with having a Keyblade. His interactions with Phil and his disappointment with the status of Junior Hero in subsequent games paint Sora as being focused on heroism in the sense of overcoming obstacles with force. Even Donald and Goofy, in the beginning, are focused on Sora’s value as a Keyblade Wielder in terms of how their fight against the Heartless can lead them to King Mickey’s location.
By setting off with Donald, and Goofy, Sora embarks on the “Road of Trials” stage of the Heroine’s Journey. This is one of the few points of similarity between the Heroine’s Journey and the Hero’s, corresponding to Campbell’s “Tests, Allies, and Enemies” stage. This is where the main character faces the initial obstacles and challenges of their quest. In the first few Kingdom Hearts games we have Sora face off against Maleficent, Ansem, and the Organization, before reuniting with Riku and Kairi in The World That Never Was. The final stages of Kingdom Hearts II correspond to the “Finding the Boon of Success” stage of both the Hero and Heroine’s Journeys. 
Part II: Interlude
In a Hero’s Journey, the Boon of Success is the end of the story. They slay the dragon, save the princess, and go home to live happily ever after. I suspect this is one reason why a lot of gamers in the KH fanbase tend to think of Kingdom Hearts 2 as the best game of the series - because in their minds Sora’s quest had been completed now that he had found Riku and Kairi like he set out to do in the first game. His journey, as far as they were concerned, was done. 
(This may also have an affect on how some fans reacted to Kingdom Hearts III, expecting it to be a grand epic finale that wrapped everything up with a bow and left a completely blank slate for the future of the series)
But in a Heroine’s Journey, the Boon of Success is not the end of the main character’s story. They have achieved their external goal, but they have not addressed their internal motivations for seeking that goal in the first place. And as their story continues, they find themselves facing challenges that their attitude thus far has failed to prepare them for. Finding The Boon of Success typically occurs early during the second act of the story. Usually it is achieved in the second half of Act II, but can sometimes happen as early as the end of the first act. For Sora, this was of course finding Riku and Kairi so that they could all go home to the Destiny Islands together.
But because the protagonist of a Heroine’s Journey has not addressed the underlying insecurities which set them on their current path, they “Awaken to Feelings of Spiritual Aridity”. 
They begin to learn that the conflict they find themselves involved in is not as clear cut as they previously believed, and the challenges that come with this new knowledge are ones that their current way of doing things has failed to prepare them for. They may have found their boon of success, but things quickly begin to go wrong until they are ultimately forced to sacrifice their reward. 
The first game already showed through Riku and Mickey that Sora was not the only person able to wield a Keyblade, but because of his heroic deeds the story still framed him as the Keyblade Master and treated him as having a more significant role to play in important events than anyone else. It’s only after he hears from Mickey of the Keyblade Wielders who came before him that it begins to sink in for him that being a Keyblade Master is not a special Chosen One status. He thinks that because of all that he’s accomplished, he doesn’t need the recognition that comes with the official title, and because of that he’s careless and almost gets himself Norted at the end of DDD. 
His failure in the exam is a blow to his self confidence and shows that despite what he had said at the start of the test, deep down he really does want that kind of external validation. His insecurities and doubts continue to eat at him over the course of KH3, culminating in his breakdown at the Keyblade Graveyard. Outside of battle, we see him bottle up his doubts and other negative emotions because his friends (Except for Riku. More on him later) brush his concerns and problems aside. It is very much like Joy from Inside Out doing everything to keep Rylee happy and refusing to let Sadness take the controls. 
When their current way of doing things ultimately costs them their boon, the protagonist tries to go back to the way things used to be. To return to a simpler time and avoid the pain of the present. When literally going back to where their journey began isn’t possible, a Heroine’s Journey story will use this stage symbolically. The main character will cling to a person, object, or relationship that they associate with a simpler time. But as comfortable as the sense of familiarity they get from that is, it ultimately cannot truly address their inner pain in the long run.
This is reflected in the Re:Mind DLC, where Sora goes back in time in order to find the pieces of Kairi’s heart and bring her back. One of Kairi’s most consistent character traits is her fear of change and desire for things to remain the way they were. 
At the end of the DLC, Sora compares his connection with Kairi to the bond between Ventus and Chirithy, a friendship explicitly strained by distance, time, and Ven’s amnesia. In an interview at E3 2018 [4], Nomura commented about Kingdom Hearts III tying into a theme of childhood friendships changing as one gets older, a plotline that Merlin calls attention to after Sora’s visit to the 100 Acre Wood. And in a 2006 book titled Character’s Report Vol. 1, Nomura specifically calls attention to Kairi’s anxiety about growing apart from Sora and Riku as they get older. [5] All of these details combined frame Sora’s quest to save Kairi as an attempt to symbolically recover the innocence he lost when he began his journey.
But while he is able to find a way to renew his connection to Kairi, it can never be the same as it was before, and attempting to go back to how things used to be is ultimately doomed to failure. By the time he brings her to The Final World at the end of Re:Mind, Sora has realized that he and Kairi cannot stay on the same plan of existence anymore as a consequence of his actions. So he takes her on a tour of the worlds to re-establish their connection before fading away at the end of KH3. Thus, we come to the final act of the Kingdom Hearts narrative. 
Part III: The Future Story 
It is at this point that the protagonist of a Heroine’s Journey begins the “Initiation and Descent to the Goddess” stage. Having failed to achieve meaningful success through their old way of doing things, they must look inward and examine the cause of their insecurities and accept that in order to move forward they need to heal themselves. In this step, the main character travels to either a dream world or a physical location that is closed off and forbidden to them, like the West Wing of Beast’s Castle in Beauty and the Beast. In Jungian psychology, this metaphorical dark cave represents the main character’s subconscious, and entering it triggers a dark night of the soul for our protagonist as they are forced to confront the parts of themselves they’ve been keeping locked away.
While Sora knows in his head that darkness is not inherently bad, he continues to rely entirely exclusively on light, on his connections to others, and has not properly accepted it in his heart. In order to truly finish his coming of age narrative, Sora must learn to balance his inner light and darkness the same way that Riku has. And to do that, he needs to look inside himself and figure out why he feels so badly that he needs his connections to others in order to be strong. And in order to achieve that level of understanding of himself, he needs to understand his Animus. 
Derived from the psychological theories of Carl Jung, the Animus in a Heroine’s Journey is an external representation of the protagonist’s masculine-coded traits in physical form. While not every Heroine’s Journey features an Animus, many of the stories I’ve seen that follow the formula do. Usually the Animus appears in the form of a deuteragonist who often functions as the protagonist’s Shadow, an archetypal character that embodies the aspects of the main character’s personality that due to their immaturity they either aren’t aware or don’t want to acknowledge that they have. 
In order to complete their character arc, the protagonist must symbolically integrate with their Shadow by learning to embrace the parts of their psyche that the Shadow represents. In many stories the protagonist has more than one Shadow figure, all of whom challenge the protagonist by forcing them to become faster or smarter to stay one step ahead, giving their interactions with the main character a push-and-pull dynamic as they drive the main character to grow. Shadow figures who fill the role of the Animus also challenge the protagonist to look inside themselves and examine their own emotional needs. With an Animus, the push to grow runs in both directions, with the main character motivating their Animus’ growth just as much as the other way around. 
In these types of stories, every aspect of the character is tailored to make the Animus and the protagonist fit together like Yin and Yang. In visual stories such as film, television, and video games, the Animus’ entire look is designed to complement the main character and they are framed in the narrative as the protagonist’s equal physically, intellectually, and spiritually. This serves to emphasize that despite their surface differences, much of the conflict between the protagonist and their Animus comes from the ways in which they are fundamentally similar. While their circumstances may have led them to drastically different lives, the characters are ultimately two sides of the same coin, and their character development is driven by learning to balance their contrasting traits.
And within the structure of the Kingdom Hearts series, there is only one character who fulfills all of these qualities in relation to Sora’s journey. 
The same character who Testuya Nomura said in the KH1 Ultimania was designed to balance Sora; [6]
Who series producer Shinji Hasimoto said was part of the core of the series alongside Sora [7], as has been repeatedly emphasized by the number of games where he is given a major focus and is a playable character alongside Sora. 
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[Image Description: Riku walking towards a door to light in the opening of Kingdom Hearts III. End Description]
While Sora and Riku have addressed some of the latter’s behavior in the first game during their conversation on the dark beach at the end of Kingdom Hearts II, they have yet to truly dig deep into why Riku felt the way he did in the first game. Riku has not told Sora about how he felt like he was being left behind and forgotten. And since that conversation, Riku has gone to the opposite extreme, dealing with his emotional problems on his own instead of lashing out at others like he had done at the start. Likewise while Sora has accepted that darkness is not inherently evil he has yet to apply this to his own negative emotions, as seen in Kingdom Hearts III. Neither character has truly achieved an ideal balance yet, and they cannot until Sora completes his journey. 
After the protagonist returns from their spiritual journey, they experience an “Urgent Yearning to Reconnect with the Feminine.” As the main character recovers from their period of soul searching, they embrace the parts of themselves that they had neglected in their pursuit of outside approval. Their Descent allowed them to recognize their value as a person and an individual outside of their ability to fulfill the role that they were expected to fill. Following this realization, they go about “Healing the Mother/Daughter split”. Reclaiming the aspects of their personality they’ve been repressing gives the protagonist the clarity necessary to gain a different perspective on their old way of thinking. This new understanding is what will allow them to find the inner balance needed to truly complete their journey. 
The Japanese version of the “My friends are my power” mantra often repeated across the series is “Connected hearts are my power.” For Sora, who has long relied on his connections to others as a source of strength, he should come to realize that these connections go both ways: that his friends draw strength from him just as much as he draws strength from them. This should help him come to accept that he is still strong and worthy all by himself. Ven’s version of the mantra from the English version of BBS summarizes it best: “My friends are my power. And I am theirs.” After he accepts this, Sora will finally be able to use the full extent of his emotional abilities.
After achieving that new perspective, the protagonist’s next step is “Healing the Wounded Masculine Within”. This is the stage of the Heroine’s Journey where the main character, having come to understand themselves, reconciles with their Animus, thereby symbolically integrating the aspects of their psyche that the Animus represents and permanently healing the rift between the two characters. This will be where Sora and Riku need to have a longer, more in-depth conversation than the one they had on the Dark Magin at the end of KH2. Where they talk about why Riku acted the way he did and finally address the underlying reason for why he was so jealous of Sora in the original game. 
The final stage of the Heroine’s Journey is the “Integration of Masculine and Feminine”. This is the point at which the main character and their Animus finally achieve a perfect balance between them. They are united both internally and externally. There are no more secrets between them, and they are now free to move forward and overcome the main antagonist together. 
Part IV: Conclusion: 
While there’s too many different possibilities to completely predict every twist and turn of the series’ lore in future games, once you understand how Kingdom Hearts fits into the framework of the Heroine’s Journey, the broad strokes of how the story will go in terms of Sora’s growth and character development are entirely predictable. When Re:Mind first released and the rest of the fandom was reacting on Twitter, I was sitting back with a smug smile on my face thinking:
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[Image Description: Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi sitting aboard the Death Star II with the caption ‘Good, Good. Everything is going according to plan.’ End Description.]
While I didn’t expect the precise mechanics of how Sora went about saving Kairi, Re:Mind was exactly what I expected it to be in terms of themes and its place in the Heroine’s Journey framework, and then the Secret Episode came along to reinforce that the next game is going to be Sora’s Descent.
While there isn’t a complete guarantee that the series will continue to follow the formula, I find it extremely unlikely that it won’t. Kingdom Hearts follows the stages of this framework too precisely for me to ever believe it happened by accident. So as long as there is no corporate interference from Disney like what happened to Voltron, I’m confident that Nomura’s plan for the finale of the series will be exactly what the Heroine’s Journey predicts it should be, no matter how unexpected future additions to the lore may be.
Special thanks to @dragonofyang and the rest of Team Purple Lion for everything I know about the Heroine’s Journey. I wouldn’t be as enthusiastic about analyzing the story of Kingdom Hearts if they hadn’t taught me the vocabulary to realize the kind of story that Nomura has been telling right under my nose for the last 18 years.
Sources:
[1] “Kingdom Hearts III Ultimania interview with Tetsuya Nomura”; March 12, 2019
https://www.khinsider.com/news/Kingdom-Hearts-3-Ultimania-Main-Nomura-Interview-Translated-14763
[2] “Iwata Asks: Nintendo 3DS: Third Party Game Developers, Volume 12: Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], Part 2: It’ll definitely be fun”; April 2012. 
https://iwataasks.nintendo.com/interviews/#/3ds/creators/11/1 
[3] “2004 GMR Nomura Interview 2004!”; Translation by Kingdom Hearts Insider posted May 5, 2012. 
https://www.khinsider.com/news/GMR-Nomura-Interview-2004-2563
[4] “E3 2018: Tetsuya Nomura on If Kingdom Hearts 3 Is the End of Sora's Story”; June 14, 2018.
https://www.ign.com/articles/2018/06/14/e3-2018-tetsuya-nomura-on-if-kingdom-hearts-3-is-the-end-of-soras-story
[5] “Character’s Report Vol. 1 Translations”; Jul 16, 2014
https://www.khinsider.com/forums/index.php?threads/characters-report-vol-1-translations.195560/\
[6] “A Look Back: Kingdom Hearts Ultimania Gallery Comments Part 1″; August 30, 2019;
https://www.khinsider.com/news/A-Look-Back-KINGDOM-HEARTS-Ultimania-Gallery-Comments-Part-1-15519
[7] “How Kingdom Hearts III Will Grow Up With Its Players.” September 24, 2013
https://www.ign.com/articles/2013/09/25/how-kingdom-hearts-iii-will-grow-up-with-its-players
[X] “The Heroine with a Thousand Faces”; June 13, 2019;
https://www.teampurplelion.com/heroine-with-a-thousand-faces/
[X] Murdock, Maureen. The Heroine’s Journey. 1990.
[X] “Maureen Murdock’s Heroine’s Journey Arc”. The Heroine Journeys Project. https://heroinejourneys.com/heroines-journey/
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dat-town · 2 years ago
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destiny trilogy | chapter index
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Characters: beast!Jeongguk & fairy!you
Setting: beauty and the beast au in a historical fantasy setting
Genre: angst with happy ending
Warnings: blood, violence, body horror
Words: ~15k
Chapters:
prologue: curse me, foolish destiny
the tale: we found our destiny
epilogue: destiny is jealous of us
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catefrankie · a year ago
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I think the most compelling argument for an ending where Ben would have lived is that this was supposed to be the trilogy centered around a female protagonist.  and stereotype or not, a typical feminine story arc isn’t just redeeming the dark prince, but marrying him and living happily ever after (Beauty and the Beast, Snow White Rose Red, Pride and Prejudice, etc).  the sequel trilogy wants to have its cake and eat it too.  they had the star-crossed redemptive romance, but they didn’t have the courage to follow all the way through; at the last second, they fell back on a reparation in death which is much more typically masculine.  they weren’t willing to fully commit to a feminine story. 
and of course self-sacrifice is good and beautiful - of course!  but I think there is a little bit of fallen male pride in the insistence that a redemption story always requires death: men are more comfortable with the villain admitting his guilt if he’s able to give everything, all at once, if he can make the sacrifice himself to achieve redemption.  there’s something uncomfortable in the idea of the dignified, masculine villain living in gentle humility, continuing to face up to what he did and the fact that he doesn’t deserve the forgiveness he’s offered but can only receive it gratefully.  but that is the more feminine version of the wish-fulfillment.  
Ben's story works either way - but Rey’s story would have fit together better if he’d lived.  and in a sense, if the story was really about Rey, he would have lived.  Ben outshines the rest of the cast, rises to the position of protagonist, because his death makes the whole story to be from his perspective.
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fluffycakesistainted · a year ago
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This isn’t anything brand new I’m saying, but I just continue to be genuinely fascinated and so, so in awe and impressed by how Lucasfilm has crafted the last leg of the Skywalker Saga around two core, archetypal plots that everyone’s seen play out hundreds of times already--“Beast and Beauty” and “Prodigal Son”--yet somehow prevented the trilogy from being overbearingly predictable. Which is a serious necessity if you want to extend one overall, original, non-prequel story across 3 movies as 3 acts. Particularly for casual fans and the general audience.
Because the fandom is...gonna fandom. And most of us have discerned, or at least suspect, the basic trajectory and ending of the story--whether we like it or not--and while the intra-fandom wank, denial, and cognitive dissonance, as well as the fandom-adjacent, ignorant hot takes--pretty much the entire Discourse(TM) around the ST, really--can be incredibly annoying, it’s also incredibly meaningless. Because us fandom people and our baggage and expectations and preferences were not a top priority for the creators to take into consideration while putting these movies together. If any demographic was, besides kids, that would be casuals and the GA. The ones who don’t linger on or look too deeply into this stuff, and generally just go with the flow of a well-told story (and also make up most of the box office earnings). 
And Lucasfilm has indeed provided them, and even the fandom, with an intricately plotted, roller-coaster of a story. The templates it's built on are classic, simple, and well-worn, but they’ve mostly buried the simplicity under, while simultaneously telegraphing the story via, excellent and highly effective utilization of techniques like “show, don't tell” (and being very selective about what they show, or don’t, and when), heavy tropery and visual symbolism, hiding things in plain sight--TFA was especially masterful with this--and lots of dialogue with dual meanings, usually referring to one thing in a scene, but subtextually acting as a reference to something/someone else, or as foreshadowing for later.
But the most effective smokescreen, the biggest slight-of-hand Lucasfilm pulled on everybody--including early Reylo shippers, who were either confused or skeptical at first about what they’d seen TFA establish--was beginning the trilogy with the Legacy Child, the Cursed Prince, the Prodigal Son, already as a full-blown villain (or as full-blown as he can muster, anyway, lol). Without even a “so here’s what happened to him” prologue to ease us into things. And I have kind of a guess/theory about how this came to be, based on what we know so far about the inception of the trilogy. It was always one of George Lucas’s main plot points that Han and Leai’s son would fall to the dark side. But apparently, his version of the arc started before the fall, and would’ve included the son being corrupted and turning to the dark, and then gone on from there, presumably towards his eventual redemption--kind of a condensed version of Anakin’s arc across Episodes I - VI, probably, but living at the end. It’s also been disclosed that one of the adjustments Lucasfilm made to George’s original ideas was to time-shift his version of events. They moved Luke’s entrance into the story down, because it was realized that his presence too early in would pull focus away from the new generation characters who needed to be introduced and established. And they moved the young Solo’s dark side phase up, because...well, rather conspicuously, no one’s given an explanation for that, yet. So I’m pretty sure, or at least, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out, that a major reason, if not the reason, for that shift was to do away with the original beginning of Ben’s arc (on-screen, anyway), start with him already fallen, and keep his backstory and the circumstances surrounding his fall as mysterious as possible for as long as possible. 
Because, I guarantee you, if the story started off with viewers seeing Ben Solo as the OT heroes’ Good Boy Son, and then saw him be corrupted and turned by a villainous dark-sider...if the story started off with Rey and Ben meeting as light-siders and starting to fall for each other and being hinted all over the place towards a shared destiny, and then Ben was corrupted and taken from her by a villainous dark-sider...it would have been so, damn, obvious, way too obvious, ridiculously obvious, what the trilogy was doing and where it was headed. People complain now about what we eventually got seeming “so predictable it’s boring”, but ummm... 🤷🏾 Even if that alt-trilogy was super well-written and extremely well-executed, the endgame would’ve been a much bigger DUH than it is now. Just by virtue of how those kinds of stories typically go, especially in what’s supposed to be feel-good family entertainment. 
But plop us down into the story with the Legacy Child of Heroes as a “villain”, and suddenly everyone’s all discombobulated across the board about what the hell the ST is doing. I mean, genius. The last chapters of a decades-spanning operatic saga should be as dynamic, as epic, as poignant, as cathartic, as memorable, and as suspenseful as possible (especially after the point of the previously released trilogy was a foregone conclusion). And the formulation of Ben’s and Reylo’s arcs definitely ups the ante on all those. Lucasfilm took what could otherwise have been a more obviously straightforward and even rote narrative and spun it into something that’s got audiences on their toes till the very end. And all without being Subversive and Shocking For The Hell of It.
But instead, they were subversive in a substantial way, in the way Star Wars always has been--by doing what the mainstream/the “norm” is usually too chicken, too hesitant, or too unimaginative to do. In the early 80s, mainstream blockbusters weren’t painting as victims and unequivocally redeeming major villains--but George Lucas did that. In the 90s, mainstream blockbusters weren’t depicting iconic villains as blatantly woobyfied, innocent children in their pre-villainy years--but George Lucas did that, even in the face of skepticism from within his own studio (the earliest other instance I can think of in recent memory is Magneto in the first X-Men movie, but that was released over a year after TPM). Now, mainstream blockbusters don’t center female-gazey, heroine & villain, enemies-to-lovers redemptive romance--that is not something the majority of general viewers are accustomed to--but Kathleen Kennedy & Co. did that. And in doing so, made the relationship between the Commoner Girl heroine and the Galactic Prince male lead, in what’s essentially a fairy tale, seem way edgier, more “controversial”, and more titillating than it has any right to, lol. But Lucasfilm did it all For The Drama, and it worked like a charm. 
They took the archetypal and made it debatable. They took the fairly obvious and made it suspenseful. They took the centuries-old, tried-and-true and made it the subject of “would they actually go there, and how far?” skepticism and speculation. They literally injected a metaphorical proverb into the second act about not believing the sun is still there just because it’s night and you can’t see it...and yet, some people aren’t believing it just because we’re in the ‘night’ phase of the story and they can’t see it, lol. And it would be one thing if this was for a one-and-done movie. But they managed to draw this out across 4 years and 3 movies. I’m amazed. The Skywalker plot of the ST is, simplistically speaking, pretty much a space opera combo of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, yet Lucasfilm’s got the fandom anxious and the GA curious about how it’ll all end, like
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Quite a feat, if you ask me, but they really Did That.
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dat-town · 2 years ago
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destiny is jealous of us
final part of the destiny trilogy
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Characters: Jeongguk & fairy!you
Setting: Beauty and the Beast au (part of my fairytale collection)
Genre: finally the happy ending i swear
Summary: With the war going on, he asks you to stay. With an aching heart, what will you say?
Warning: mentions of war and death
Words: 3.1k
Oh the irony.
The same long wooden table, the same throne room and the same people at the two ends. Or are they? Two years ago, an arrogant and selfish king was seated on the gilded armchair and in front of him sat a proud, powerful princess. By now the king has matured and became wiser while the princess went into hiding. They both lost a lot. They've grown by pain.
"Where's the Queen?" Jeongguk fills a crystal glass with red wine taken from the basement’s oldest section. His voice cuts through the thin canvas of memories swirling around them. They both remembered this place too well.
"Dead. The Kims killed her. They were really proud of it," the princess says in an emotionless voice, eyes hazy but her grip tight and white on her napkin. "You would know if you didn't isolate yourself totally."
There's a hint of mocking in her always all-knowing voice.
“Then aren't you the Queen?"
"The Queen of what?" The fairy princess snorts, laughing bitterly without an actual sound. "You need land you can rule over to have a kingdom to begin with. We lost and the island has been taken by the Kims."
Jeongguk nods, he's gathered that much but he didn't expect the royal ridiculing her own role in the equation. He knows fairies have never had many allies and the Jeons used to be their last hope. The king couldn't help but wonder if that was the reason behind the disappearance of the curse's symptoms. Fairies are said to be naturally manipulative creatures after all and he learned not to trust in the Princess, even if she says she wants to help. But everybody deserve a second chance, don’t they?
"So that's the reason you really help me? Because you need me."
Even though he knows it's not wise to accuse a possible ally of something like this, Jeongguk also knows that fairies can't lie and he has to know the truth before agreeing.
"No, I help you because you're a better person now and you have the potential to be a wiser and more just king than any of The Kims," the Princess says and she looks like she actually means it.
Jeongguk considers it and runs his fingers through his soft brown locks. He still couldn't get used to that he's back in his original form. In the mirrors he still expects a monster to look back at him. But his own reflection in the glass is just as fine as the wine according to what he hears of whispers behind his back. He paid a huge price to learn to be considerate and humane. But he wasn't the only one, the Princess paid her part too.
Out of simply curiosity he asks: "Do you regret it?"
"What? Not marrying you or cursing you?" The fairy sounds amused but her darkened blue eyes are solemn. "No to both. Then your arrogance would have ruined us. Maybe not so soon but eventually."
And no matter how much it hurts his pride, Jeongguk has to agree with her.
It's been days and each one feels like a decade as looking back, you realize you had absolutely no chance to spend some alone time with the king. He has daily strategic meetings with the general of the knights and long politic talks with the Princess. Day by day, fairies keep coming upon hearing the news that your Court is finally formed again after such a long time. Everybody is hopeful around you but you can't help your blue mood.
Of course, you're aware that Jeongguk has no choice and it's not his fault. To win this battle is the only chance to get back what's his... And your kind's. Yet, it hurts to be neglected.
"Were you waiting for me?" A familiar, melodic voice reaches your ears in the dead of the night and you whip your head towards the entrance of the greenhouse. At first you don't even believe your eyes because Jeongguk look so ethereal under the moonlight like he was from another world. Even if he’s just standing still among the beautiful flowers you and your kind helped to bring back to life. You couldn't stand ruined greenery around you.
Your traitor mouth curls up in a smile without your own accord and even though you could play around with words and find a way to deny his statement, you don't even try.
"I hoped you'd come by," you admit with a small shrug. Your fingertips touch the colourful petals of flowers on your way to the king. You feel nervousness seep into your veins and bones which is ridiculous, isn't? He's the same then why are you so afraid to look him in the eye? Maybe, whispers a little voice inside your head, you fear that your eyes can't lie either.
"It's just that you have been busy with royal affairs and I wouldn't..." want to be a burden.
You ramble, trying to take your mind off the heavy truth when Jeongguk steps a bit closer and your breath hitches. He looks like a vision: tanned skin glowing under the silver hues, skin flawless and velvety. His hair is messily styled, it's obvious how often he ruffles up the stands. The brown of his beautiful eyes is like liquid walnut cream, sweet and soft, genuine. He wears leather pants with boots, a sword on his belt and his white shirt is unbuttoned on the very top. He's so dreamy and yet, there so much human vulnerability in him as he nibbles on his lower lip trying to form the right words.
"I missed you," he blurts out and your heart sings the same song. Isn't it funny to miss one who's so close you could touch their face?
But as the matters stand, you ought to be careful.
"Oh. I'm not sure the Princess would be happy to hear that," you mumble and it's unfair. If it was anyone but her, you could be angry, you could be jealous but you respect the Princess too much.
According to your laws, she could have anything anyway. She has the right to claim and take anything from another fairy of her Court, everything they have. For the first time you think it's too much.
"What does she have to do with this?" The king sounds utterly and genuinely confused but you know humans are great liars. Maybe he thinks he can spare your heart from hurting by not telling you but there are curious ears and talkative mouths at every corner.
"Well, you will marry her, won't you?"
At that Jeongguk's face falls as if you told him about something dying.
"I..."
"You don't have to lie. Carrick told me about your history with the Princess. She rejected you but now she needs land and you need soldiers, it's perfect. I'm happy that it works out, I really am."
What you aren't happy about is what it means for you.
Upon hearing your statement, Jeongguk falters, words frozen onto the tip of his tongue. He has so many things to confess, secrets to whisper to the night and the lulling truth he wishes to kiss into your soft skin. You smell like wildflowers that grow in the greenhouse and he yearns to bath in your closeness.
"I want to show you something," he says the safest of all the things he could say. He offers his hand, a pretty hand with long fingers without burgundy scars and painful thorns. Pianist fingers. Oh how you wish you could hear him play or chase after his talented movements in a piano piece written for four hands.
You let him lead you through the castle. Up the stairs, through secret passages behind paintings, laughing at almost tripping in a threshold and not letting go. There are unfamiliar walls around you since you've never been in this part of the castle, in the highest place of all, the stargazing tower.
"Where are we– oh. It's beautiful," you mumble in awe as soon as you step out in the open and see flowers pullulating over the fence. The blossoms are red like the blood moon.
"It's the bush of the rose the Princess gave me when she cursed me. She told me that if I cannot break it until my 21th birthday when the last petal falls, I will stay like that," Jeongguk explains but it broaches more questions than answers. The wild rose overgrown the whole tower looks far from dying. It's beautiful and in a way it reminds you of the king's heart protected by huge glass walls.
"You never told me how you broke the curse," you wonder out loud while your fingers curl around the fence.
"I've wanted to tell you but we didn't have time to properly talk... you know since the..." appearance of the royal head of Court and her people.
"Oh. Right," you nod. True. He also noticed it then. For some reason it makes you happy.
"After my parents died, I became cold. I didn't care about anything just about winning the war. I thought it's the only way I could make them proud but I lost myself, I forgot what it meant to genuinely care and it's not something you can force on yourself, so I thought there's no chance to fight the curse. But then you came, stubbornly stayed in my life and showed me so much empathy, patience and care. It hurt when you left."
You suck in a breath. It hurt you, too. You remember the anxiousness bubbling in your stomach, the urge to look back and turn around so strong you had to physically strain yourself to keep going. A part of you wanted to stay but you weren't sure you were welcomed to. You're still not sure what it all means.
"Why are you telling me this?"
Jeongguk lets out an awkward laugh like doesn't know what to do with himself. There're so many emotions in his reply: hope, trust, affection. He looks straight into your eyes.
"When it's over and if we both survive, would you stay?" With me?
The weight of the question crashes down on you and it scares the hell out of you.
"I– I can't. My family..."
"They can come too. I need you to keep me sane," Jeongguk pleads and even though you know he'd never take advantage of the situation, it disgusts you how others would look at you if you stayed in a castle with him and the fairy princess.
"I won't be your mistress," you snap at him harsher than you want to and all colours drain from his face.
"I never asked you to. It was never about that. You can leave, of course, but you made me want to be a better person and you taught me a lot about kindness and love. I'd like you to stay."
His words are just what you wanted to hear but not enough, never enough.
"It's your home, Jeongguk, not mine..."
"It can be ours."
"Jeongguk..." His name falls off your tongue as a cautious warning but he doesn't let you finish your protest. He can see it all in your eyes: fear, worry and uncertainty.
"You didn't look at me any differently in my monstrous form or knowing that I'm a king. Why are you looking differently at me now?" Desperation bleeds of his voice and it's choking you. He has no idea how much you actually want to stay but you know better than to believe in a mirage
"It could never work, Jeongguk. I'm just a simple fairy, I can't be a queen."
"By your laws maybe but you can be with mine," he says finding all the loopholes but the hard lines of your agitated expression doesn't change, so he sighs burying his face in his hands. "You don't want to be my queen, you don't want to be my mistress. What do you want then?" Even with his hovering closeness, the heat of his human body, you tremble at the sound of my queen. Oh you're so weak.
"I want you. Without titles," your tongue takes control and your confession has no end as you dive in deeper. It feels like freefalling as you speak and Jeongguk's eyed soften around the edges. "I didn't plan on falling in love with you but I couldn't help and I could imagine staying here, just the two of us, but now it's too much. You have a war to win, a kingdom to rule. You have greater things on your plate than to worry about a mere fairy. I don't want to hold you back.
And it’s out, there’s no way to take it back now that the king stares at you so intensely.
"You don't. Please listen to me..."
"Your Majesty!" One of the watch guards stomps up on the stairs ruining the intimate moment. You can feel Jeongguk’s arm brushing against your shoulder as he turns around.
"I'm busy," he grits his teeth and the knight ducks his head down in apology but doesn't waver.
"It's important."
"Can't it wait?"
"I'm afraid not, Your Majesty. The attack is here."
You lock eyes with Jeongguk knowing that you don't have a choice to prolong this talk. A moment later the war horn rings loudly.
The Kims only sent a small army since they didn't expect big confrontation, especially since they attacked at night. Even with this dirty trick, the horde of fairies manages to surprise them. Still, it's a bloody battle, each one is. Jeongguk gets nauseous just thinking back when his general pleaded him through the door every single day to come out and reassure his people, to fight with them. But back then he was too proud and too much of a coward, so instead he locked himself up in a room. And one day the visits stopped, the castle turned quiet and lonely. Eventually Jeongguk came out but it was too late.
This battle lasts for three days and the utterly demolished mainland army's single survivor leaves with a written offer: the Kims either let them have the province and Jeju or they will fight until their last breath.
Jeongguk has been distant in these days but you found him easily at a balcony. Your balcony. It reminds you of all those mornings you spent together when the war happened only outside the gates. It all seems so long ago.
"Jeongguk?" you step closer and take a look at the pile of paper scattered around him on the table. His handwriting is pretty on the parchment.
"I hate numbers," he admits in a rough voice and jabs on each paper with his index finger. "The dead, the wounded, the gunpowder, the assets. We won one battle but in a war like this, there'll always be more and we'll lose more than what we did now."
"It's okay to focus on today's troubles, you can worry about the rest when you get there," you tell him softly and pry his cramped fingers off the pen as you sit down beside him. His right hand is bandaged, so you’re careful with it but seeing him well is a great relief. You heard he got that deep cut on his palm but otherwise he's untouched and it seems confirmed right now.
When his eyes snap at you, his gaze settles right away on the bloody strain you have.
"Did you..." get hurt? Jeongguk gently touches your temple where a sword grazed you because you were too careless.
"It's just a scratch, nothing serious," you whisper and wish to cup his hand, to pull him close and never let go. You remember clearly how scary it was, the very thought of losing him.
"I can't ask you to stay out of the fight, right?" There's a hint of smile in the question. He knows you too well, your cold fingers, warm eyes and enchanting smile. He's fallen for all of it. And what is a greater love than letting you be yourself and fight your own battles even if he doesn't want you to?
"No, you can't. It's my fight too."
Jeongguk nods, understanding and his hand warm yours as he’s blowing hot air on your pale knuckles in the chilly March weather.
"You said you would want me without titles but... I can't do that. I've already let my people down once," he whispers still not letting go of you. Hesitation is swimming in his eyes and you hate to be the reason of his inner conflict.
You take a deep breath.
"I know. That was silly of me. This is your rightful place. I can't care for you any less as a king than I'd care otherwise," you slowly press a kiss on the back of his hand sweetly after you overcome your own fears and stupidity. In the last days out in the battlefield, you realized there are scarier things to be afraid of. "If the Kims come back with a bigger army and let's be honest, they will, we can die any day. I don't want to have regrets."
The king, young and foolishly in love, looks at you with big doe eyes and takes a sharp breath as he leans his forehead against yours, pulling your whole body closer. You can almost taste the apple tarte he ate on his lips and his name trembles on yours.
"Jeongguk."
"Hm?" His hum resonates through your bodies as you place your palm over his rapidly beating heart following the rhythm of yours.
"When it's over and if we both survive," you echo his earlier words," ask me again."
His kiss is the softest promise you've ever tasted.
Months pass, the empire of the three Kims falls apart as the fairies – your family too – join the resistance from all over the country and the old residents of the former Jeon Kingdom also go back home to fight against the invaders. By the Fallfirst Festival, they have to sign the pactum and ensure the autonomy of the country.
Summer has been blazing hot so far and rained rivers of blood but the season of withering not only brings colder breezes but peace, too. It celebrates the king's birthday with newly picked grape and cherry wine, performances of his heroic acts during the war, a statue of him in the French garden but he doesn't care about it at all. He's hiding in the ballroom, playing a four hand piano piece with you and his off-key ending note, a chaste kiss on your rosy lips takes you by surprise.
Then, with stars in his eyes and the slightest doubts in his heart, he asks again:
"Would you stay with me?"
"Always."
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magicienetreveur · 25 days ago
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thirsty thursday and ficback friday
@of-stars-and-moon tagged me for both of these together. Thanks so much!!
Rec one of your own fics you like and one from someone else!
Okay I’ll rec my Pynch Beauty and the Beast AU from last year’s Pynch Secret Santa, because I was just looking at it the other day! In the Great Wide Somewhere (oneshot, 13k words)
For someone else’s. I mean, it’s always hard. There are SO many talented writers in this fandom. Ringing in my Ears by @behindtheatlantic from a few months back was a lot of fun!! Ronan mistakenly thinks Adam and Gansey are dating (Pynch oneshot, 7k words).
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nrhartauthor · a month ago
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• Beauty and the Beast 🌹 by N.R.Hart © 2012 @n.r.hart Written back in 2012 and the inspiration behind my newest book “Beauty and her Beast.👑 #specialrequest 🌹 Stay tuned for Part II A page from Poetry and Pearls II 🌸 My first two books “Poetry and Pearls” volumes I & II are in full color 🌈 including my original floral posters divided into the four seasons Winter Spring Summer Autumn. With all your favorites! Beauty and the Beast , my Soulmate & Twin Flame poetry. These books are beautiful works of art. 🍃🍃🍃 “Love Poems to No One” a beautiful rose floral hard cover with my original black & white posters divided into the four seasons Winter Spring Summer Autumn. This is a hard cover trilogy series Book 2 “Beauty and her Beast” just released. 👑 You will want the set. Pick up your copy today! All my books are avail @amazon @barnesandnoble @chaptersindigo @bookdepository Worldwide ✨link in bio 👉🏻 signed copies now on Etsy! @NRHartAuthor Thank you for sharing my words each day and buying my books. Love, N.R.Hart ❤️ #nrhart #poetryandpearls #nrhartbeautyandthebeast #lovepoemstonoone #beautyandherbeast #poetry #romanticpoetry #copyright (at New York, New York) https://www.instagram.com/p/CQOE0l6lYxd/?utm_medium=tumblr
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nrhartauthor · a year ago
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Favorite place….🍃@n.r.hart ©2014 
A piece from my upcoming book “Beauty and her Beast” 🌹
My first two books “Poetry and Pearls” volumes I & II are in full color 🌈 including all of my original floral posters inside. These books are beautiful works of art 🌷
My third book - my first hard cover “Love Poems to No One” 🌹 a beautiful rose floral cover with my black and white posters inside. This book is part of a three-part trilogy, Book 2 “Beauty and her Beast” coming Fall 2019. 🍃🍃🍃
all my books are avail @amazon @barnesandnoble @chaptersindigo @bookdepository 
Worldwide ✨link in bio. —————————
👉🏻 signed copies now on Etsy! @NRHartAuthor —————————————-
Thank you for sharing my words each day and buying my books. Love, N.R.Hart ❤️
#nrhart #nrhartpoetry #nrhartquotes #poetryandpearls #seasonsoftheheart #lovepoemstonoone #beautyandherbeast #bookstagram #romanceisnotdead #poetry #soulmate #twinflame #lovepoems #lovequotes #healing #brave #selflove #love #darkpoetry #heartbreak #love #sapiosexual #romantic #empath #copyright #karma #mywords #mythoughts #mylovestory #soullove #hopelessromantic (at New York, New York)
https://www.instagram.com/p/B29VUC4l6Kr/?igshid=cv1tkmtcepa9
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