Disclaimer: Still not mine!
A/N Lots more smut in this chapter, so if that's not something you enjoy, read at your own risk.
It happens on a Tuesday. (Anna, for the record, has totally never liked Tuesdays. They're stupid, stupid days.)
The thing is, she'd kind of managed to convince herself that this day would never come. Everything's been so perfect, and she probably should have realized that it couldn't last, but… she's always been an optimist at heart.
Only it's hard to see the bright side when one of the porters from the harbor strolls into the banquet hall in the middle of lunch to tell them that the repairs on The Waking Sky will be completed within a week.
"The waking…?" she ventures, knowing that she knows that name, wishing that she didn't, but Rapunzel's already smiling at her sadly.
"The ship, Anna. My ship."
Anna doesn't have much of an appetite, after that.
She wishes she could say they didn't fight about it, that she accepted reality with maturity and grace, but, well.
"Just because the ship is ready doesn't mean you have to leave. People stay places they're not stuck in all the time."
"Anna," Elsa reprimands sharply, but it's too late, the words have been said.
"You know we can't do that. It's been months. I have responsibilities. I—I miss my parents," Rapunzel admits. And Anna knows what it costs her to say that, to even think it; knows that if her own parents were waiting for her somewhere, she couldn't stay in her happiness bubble, either. But it still stings, not to feel chosen.
"Excuse me," Anna says woodenly, standing up from the table and walking away.
There is no feeling of victory when Kristoff chases after her.
"I'm sorry," Elsa says immediately, and it's an uncomfortable feeling—having to apologize for Anna. She doesn't like it. Eugene is glaring into his bowl of soup like it offended him.
"Don't be," Rapunzel mumbles, pushing salad listlessly around her plate. "I get it."
Elsa's heart breaks for them. "She'll come around."
"Why should she? We can't stop this from happening. We can't stay. It's not like I'm going to stop being upset about it, either."
"But she loves you guys. I know her. Give her a few hours and she'll come running back like it never hurt. That's—it's what she does." Her lips pull; a nervous tick. "I don't blame you for being sad at having to leave her behind."
"Oh, for—Elsa!" Rapunzel protests, voice thick with emotion, and Elsa jumps at the unexpected outburst. She's still a novice when it comes to decoding these things, so she turns to Eugene for a translation.
With visible effort, he twists his mouth into a smile. "Anna's not exactly the only one we're upset at leaving behind."
Her mouth falls open. She's thought a lot, recently, about how much she's going to miss them. But she's a little ashamed now that it had never occurred to her that they might miss her, too.
"I could always order you to stay," she offers weakly. She's only half-joking.
Rapunzel's smile is only a shadow of its usual brightness. "We might let you."
"I'm awful," Anna mumbles into Kristoff's shirt.
"I am. Why can't I just be happy for them? Why can't I just be happy with you? I don't—you must hate me."
"Anna!" Kristoff scolds, before palming her jaw with both hands to force her to look at him. "I'm going to miss them, too. This is me agreeing with you, okay?"
The kindness in his eyes is almost too much for her to bear. "I should be out there with them, enjoying it while I can. Not—throwing a tantrum like a toddler."
"Okay. So why are we in here?"
It's everything. The way he's looking at her, the pads of his fingers on her cheeks, his use of 'we,' the gentle question. He's so different from the gruff mountain man she'd met—kinder, sweeter, more patient—and she can see their fingerprints all over him. All over both of them.
"I just thought I'd be included," she murmurs, which doesn't actually answer his question. "When they left. I thought we'd all… pick a day together, or something. We could throw a party. But instead it's just happening, and I don't have any say in it, and I'm just… I don't like being shut out."
"I know," he says softly, but he's still searching her face, like he knows she's holding something back. "Anna… is this about the boat thing?"
Nuts. "What boat thing?"
He raises an eyebrow. "I know how your parents died, Anna. Everyone does. It's—if you're worried just tell them."
"Me, worry? Please."
"I just don't want them to go, that's all."
He lets it go. He even stays with her all afternoon, but his stomach won't hear it when she decides to skip dinner. To his credit, he brings her a plate when he comes back to say goodnight.
"Do you want to come back to my room?" he asks, meeting her at the doorway.
She sighs. "No, I just—it's been a long day, I just want to sleep. I'm sorry."
"Don't be. You know where to find me if you change your mind," Kristoff says, kissing her temple before leaving.
A half hour of fitful tossing and turning brings her to the bedroom door in her robe and slippers. She knocks twice, decisively, before she can change her mind.
"I'm sorry about earlier. Can I spend the night?" she blurts the second she hears squeaking hinges.
Rapunzel practically trips over herself trying to stand aside to let her in. "Oh, gosh, yes."
For the first time since lunch, Anna feels like she can breathe.
Eugene is on the bed flipping through a book, but Anna's kind of sidetracked by the fact that he's shirtless. It takes a second for her to be able to take in anything beyond the ropy scar on his flank—it wasn't a choice—but then her eyes adjust, and whoa. His chest is relatively smooth, but a trail of dark hair leads down from his belly button to… points unknown… and Anna swallows thickly, suddenly feeling like she didn't think this through. (And she knows every inch of Kristoff's body by now, the curves of his muscles, the bulk of his oversized frame, but the unfamiliar V of Eugene's wiry, tapered waist gets her mouth watering.)
"'Bout time you showed up," he says, putting the book aside, and she hangs her head.
"I'm sorry," Anna says again, because it bears repeating. "I've been a selfish brat all day, and that wasn't fair to you, especially when we only have a few days left, and when you think about it that's probably only like two hundred hours or something—I mean, I haven't counted, but something like that—and I just. Shouldn't have wasted them."
"Don't worry about it," Rapunzel insists, leading her towards the bed. "Just… c'mere, okay?"
It's clear she wants Anna in the middle, which—Anna's not sure if that's a great idea—but Eugene's already putting his book on the bedside table and lifting up the covers for her, and, okay, this is happening.
Rapunzel wraps her arm around Anna's side, seeking her hand. Anna looks down at their interlacing digits, feels the cool pressure of Rapunzel's wedding ring against her fingers, and her heart rends itself in two as she finds herself both dizzily smitten and choking on envy. What would it be like, she wonders, to feel that secure all the time? To have someone unquestionably; to be able to communicate only with a look, as she's seen Rapunzel and Eugene do a thousand times before?
Correction: as they're doing right now, over her head.
"You know that if Corona and Arendelle shared a border, we'd probably have just consolidated kingdoms by now, right?" Rapunzel finally jokes, nudging Anna's side.
She sighs. "Yeah, but if we shared a border you would never have stayed here, because you wouldn't have needed to wait on the ship."
"Cheery," Eugene mutters, but Anna ignores him.
"It's just. It's not fair," she continues. "What if I never see you again?"
"That's not going to happen. I'd never let it," Rapunzel says.
Anna pulls her hand from Rapunzel's grip. "We don't always get a vote."
"It's just a little boat ride, Anna, we could be back and forth all the time if—"
"My parents died on a little boat ride! Using the same routes you used to get here. I'm sure; I checked the atlas ages ago."
(She likes it when things are called what they are, when they define themselves—like how plants come up in spring and come down in fall—but that one had felt particularly apt. Atlas: the weight the world on her shoulders. Pyxis, the mariner's compass. It should be over her heart, but it's not there.)
"I—" Rapunzel's mouth works, and Anna's never seen her speechless before. "I'm so sorry, I didn't—I wasn't thinking."
"I know you're not, and that's what scares me. Why am I the only one taking it seriously? This—it's not just some nothing trip, it's—you could—"
"Please don't be mad," Rapunzel interrupts, eyes bright, and Anna's never seen until this moment the way Rapunzel folds in on herself when she thinks people are cross with her. It only makes sense, though, and the shocking familiarity of it—she's seen that look on Elsa's face a thousand times—is enough to jolt Anna out of her freakout.
"I'm not," Anna says. But—cross, that's one too, now that she thinks about it. The way things meet, and clash, and where you hang your burdens after. Autological, that's the word. A self-contained metaphor. Anna's getting better at them. "I just—I really don't want to say goodbye to you."
Rapunzel kisses her then, desperate, knocking her backwards. But Eugene is warm and solid at her back, holding them both up. It takes her a second to realize he's talking in her ear.
"…doesn't mean it's bad for everyone. Try and see it from the other side: Rapunzel and I saw the floating lights on a boat, her eighteenth birthday. We had our first almost-kiss on a boat. They're important. Romantic."
Anna can't help but smile at the way Rapunzel snorts into their kiss. "Almost-kisses aren't things, Eugene."
"Sure they are! Back me up, Red. Are almost-kisses things?"
Oh, Anna. If only there was someone out there who—
"Totally a thing," she confirms, because Eugene's lips are at the back of her neck and Rapunzel's lips are on hers and it's an embarrassment of riches, really. The memory is only that, now: a memory. They're touching her, so it can't.
Recovery. That's one.
The girls have only been asleep a few minutes when there's a knock at the door, and Eugene chuckles under his breath at the predictability of these people. (And, okay, the fact that he can now bank on weird polyamorous encounters as "predictable" says a lot of pretty amazing things about his life.) Bookmarking his page yet again, he swings himself out of bed.
When he opens the door, he finds Kristoff—shocker—on the other side, twisting his hands nervously.
Eugene smirks. "C'mon in, but be quiet; the girls are already out." He waits for Kristoff to enter, then closes the door behind him. "Let me guess: you tried Anna's room first cuz you wanted to check on her, but she wasn't there?"
"Huh?" Kristoff says, apparently distracted at the way the girls are curled around each other in slumber. He shakes his head to clear it. "Uh, no, I—I wasn't looking for Anna. Not that I'm not happy to see her, but I was… I wanted to come here. For me."
Something in the back of Eugene's throat just drops into the center of his chest—a scratchy, demanding sort of heat—and before he can tell himself not to he grabs Kristoff by the lapels and pulls him in for a searing kiss.
Kristoff looks dazed when he draws back. "You're not wearing a shirt," he notes distantly.
"No, I am not," Eugene confirms. "You are, I notice. What do you say we do something about that?"
Rapunzel wakes to the feeling of fingers pushing slowly through her hair, and snuggles deeper into the warmth she finds herself pillowed against. She can hear snoring, which automatically rules out Anna as the one awake and moving. "Eugene? What time s'it?" she mumbles fuzzily, unable to decide if she wants to drift off again or not.
"Late. Well, early. Go back to sleep," he tells her, but—not Eugene.
She frowns. "Kristoff?"
"Yeah," he says, the petting motion halting for a moment before resuming. "I didn't mean to wake you. Go back to sleep."
She has questions, but they're far away and she's so comfy, and so sleepy, and Kristoff's fingers are still in her hair, massaging against her scalp, and she really can't bring herself to swim against the tide.
"M'glad you're here," she tells his chest as she burrows closer.
She can feel his smile when he presses his mouth to the crown of her head. "Me, too."
Starting that morning, everything just… accelerates. Like they're trying to fit months of relationship time into the few short days they have left. It doesn't help that now Rapunzel and Eugene have to spend hours in Elsa's office, working on the kinds of treaties that would justify the length of their stay to the rest of the world. And Anna knows that that's important, but—what used to be long, leisurely afternoons spent in each other's company become stolen moments, heady and hormonal.
She and Rapunzel were supposed to use today's rare afternoon off to put the finishing touches on—Anna doesn't know, a study or an office or one of those rooms upstairs, it's not important—but instead, they'd gone into Anna's room for some quality time together.
It's eerie, how similar the whole thing is to the dreams Anna used to have. (Still has. Whatever.)
Rapunzel grins, lips and tongue trailing down her jaw and then—holyyyy—tracing that one sweet spot on her neck, just behind her ear. Anna suspects there's probably a freckle there, like a little Hi, kiss me! sign because Kristoff found the spot easily, too, but it's not like she can see it in the mirror and oh, that feels good. What was she thinking about again? Anna shifts her hips without thought, seeking pressure.
"I want you," she keens, and Rapunzel whips backward and away from her so fast even Anna gets whiplash.
They're both very aware that it's the first time she's ever said that.
"Um," Rapunzel says, staring at her, and they're both bright red, panting hard. "Yeah?"
Anna laughs breathlessly, because she's supposed to be the ineloquent one. "Yeah."
"Because…" Rapunzel looks down, and starts playing with a loose thread on Anna's comforter. "I want that, too," she admits quietly. "I want to make you feel good."
Anna's been wooed by less.
(Rapunzel's thin, nimble fingers feel nothing like Kristoff's, but they bring Anna to climax just as easily.)
It doesn't take long for the idea to gel in Anna's head, after that. It does surprise her, a little, how quickly everyone else agrees to it—somewhere in the back of her mind, she's still getting used to the fact that nowadays she tends to get the things she wants. And when she thinks about the time that first occurred to her, in the library with Kristoff when she realized she'd have to start planning activities that could entertain more than one person, it just… feels like forever ago. Even the idea of Kristoff being that foreign to her, now, is anathema.
She wonders if this is what growing up feels like.
But then, anyone who's about to have sex with three other people at once should probably feel pretty grown up first, right?
They decide—well, Anna decides—that Anna's bedroom is the place to do it. Because her bed is biggest, and she wants the memories. Kristoff shoots her some kind of look when she says that, but Eugene's made it a point not to make that stuff his business. So they'd all had a hearty meal, and opened a bottle of wine with dinner for once, and now…
Now they're all looking at him with varying expressions of intimidation and nervousness, and what, he's the ringleader, now? That's not fair. Sure, Flynn Rider was no stranger to threesomes, back in his day, but a foursome with another guy was never exactly on the table. And Eugene Fitzherbert has only ever been with one woman in his life, carnally speaking.
Bless his soul, he's practically choreographing a bed full of virgins. And it's a good thing they elected to go with Anna's bed, because Kristoff is almost Stabbington-sized, and will take up about half of it on his own. (And now Eugene's head is filled with all sorts of terrible images, and he really hates himself sometimes.)
Although, that brings up a good question.
"You two have done this with each other, right?" he asks, turning to Kristoff and Anna.
Kristoff turns bright red, sputtering in indignation. "Wha—yes."
"Okay, okay, just asking. A man's gotta know what he's dealing with, here."
"The only people here. who haven't done this together are you and Kristoff, Eugene," Rapunzel says. Her nose crinkles adorably. "Well, and me and Kristoff. Unless there's something you're not telling us."
Anna gasps theatrically. "The ice harvesting trip!" she cries, pointing a finger at Kristoff. "J'accuse!"
And okay, Anna is awesome with a few drinks in her. Even if she is implicating him in some big gay tryst. (Because, see, one happened, only that was his wife.)
"Nothing happened on the ice harvesting trip," Kristoff says through gritted teeth, and that's a party foul; everyone's meant to be having fun.
"Okay, boundaries," Eugene says, taking a seat on the floor partly because he thinks they all look silly standing there, but mostly because he thinks this could be a while. "That's a good place to start. What's off limits?"
"I don't want anyone touching me immediately below the belt but Anna," Kristoff says, still pouting even as he plops down on the carpet.
"Awwwh!" Anna says, sitting in his lap. "You're the best."
"What about you, Red?"
"Oh! Um." Anna bites her lip. "I… can't think of anything I wouldn't at least want to, y'know. Try. If that's okay?" she asks, turning to look up at Kristoff.
"You don't need my permission," he mumbles, flustered, and she brings a hand up to his cheek.
"Of course I do."
He smiles at her. "We're good, Anna." He turns to Eugene. "What about you?"
"Ah, me'n Rapunzel are married, we're up for anything. Isn't that right—dear—?" he trails off, losing his train of thought when he looks to Rapunzel for confirmation and instead finds her grinning down at them from above, naked on the bed.
"You guys were taking too long," she says.
Well okay then.
From there things kind of start to blur in a haze of hasty disrobing and laughter and jockeying for position; the second they're all on the bed Anna basically shoves Kristoff at Rapunzel. "Kiss," she orders. "I've never seen you kiss."
"I—okay, uh," Kristoff stutters, unsure where to put his hands until he settles them gingerly at Rapunzel's waist, clearly trying not to stare at or touch her breasts. The kiss, however, is earnest enough, and Eugene finds himself enjoying the way Anna's pupils dilate as she watches them.
He trails a hand along her thigh, leans in close. "Jealous?" he asks, and while he doesn't pull out any of his old tricks very often, he can tell by the flush working its way across her chest and up her throat that his seductive purr is still working for him. Even if no one appreciates his smolder anymore, the jerks.
"Impatient," she clarifies, voice both hoarse and dreamily distant. He doesn't think she's blinked since the others started kissing. She shifts, restless, and with a single kiss to her shoulder Eugene moves his hand again, more out of curiosity than out of a real intent to start something. But—yeah, wow she's already wet.
"Well, ladies first," he says, shifting around and lowering her down onto the bed. He reaches blindly for Rapunzel's hand. "Hey, a little help here?"
Anna groans, dizzy with want—or maybe just dizzy, because all of a sudden she's on her back and hey, when did Kristoff and Rapunzel stop kissing?
"I was enjoying that," she complains, barely recognizing the rasp of her own voice, and Eugene winks at her.
"Trust me, you'll enjoy this more."
And then Rapunzel and Eugene are at her shoulders—Lepus and Lupus, licking at long-erased ink lines between her freckles—and then lower, until there's a mouth on each of her nipples and suction and her hips are canting helplessly off the bed as she chokes on pleasure.
"Breathe, Anna," Kristoff reminds her gently from the foot of the bed, and it's that—the tenderness in his voice, even as he's teasing her—that's sexiest of all.
"You breathe," she manages to gasp at him, but then his mouth is on her too and she's wrapping her legs around his neck just to feel like she's not going to float off the bed because her entire world has been reduced to mouths and tongues and friction and pressure.
She doesn't know what to do with her hands. Instinct says to hold Kristoff where he is by any means necessary, but Rapunzel and Eugene's heads are in the way, she'd punch them in the face. Rude. The safest option is probably fisting the sheets, but that's dumb, look at her company; why would she want to get her hands on anything else? She decides to poll the audience:
She swears there were going to be more words there, only Kristoff had taken the opportunity to enter her with a single digit as he worked his tongue against her clit, and coherency didn't really stand a chance. Her half-formed question had at least managed to get Rapunzel's attention, and the other girl abandons her post at Anna's breast momentarily, freeing up her mouth.
"What is it?" Rapunzel asks, propping herself up on one elbow and reaching up to brush Anna's sweaty bangs back from her forehead. "What do you want?"
Anna moans at the gesture—or is it at the way Eugene had instantly taken up Rapunzel's slack by replacing her mouth with his own pinching, kneading fingers? "I—wanna touch you," she manages to grit out.
Rapunzel's smile seems to say Is that all? "So touch me."
"M'not a lefty," Anna whines, which—sex is making her stupid, what on earth was that—but Eugene, at her right, just grins into her, then uses the opportunity to scrape at her with his teeth.
"So touch me," he says, and then her toes are curling because Kristoff's added another finger and she can't tell if they're competing with each other or just trying to kill her but either way it's working. The three of them together are relentless, and in no time at all Anna feels like she's on a precipice looking downward, like she's close to the edge of something awesome. The rhythm of her rocking hips starts to get erratic.
"That's okay," Rapunzel murmurs, nuzzling the shell of her ear. "Relax. Just let it happen. We've got time."
Which, boom, instant buzzkill. Because like, that's so far from the truth Anna can't even—that's literally the opposite of what's happening here. They're out of time. It's only tonight. And she's going to make it last.
"Not yet, get off, I'm not ready," she huffs stubbornly, and hey, independent clauses! Go her. Granted, the lower half of her body doesn't seem to have gotten the buzzkill message yet, still jerking frantically at Kristoff's every move, but at least her brain's caught up.
"Well if you're sure…" Eugene shrugs, and then he's gone, body no longer pressed against hers, and after a beat of hesitance Rapunzel's gone as well, and no, that was a mistake, she's changed her mind—
"No wait no don't stop it's okay I lied I'm okay come back come back come back," she babbles, and she can hear them chuckling at her, but she doesn't even care. They can laugh all they want. Because Rapunzel's lips now are sipping at the sweet spot behind her ear, and Eugene's hands are on her breasts and Kristoff's between her legs and Anna's pretty sure she's the one winning, here.
Her orgasm, however, now seems frustratingly just out of reach, and like, way to outsmart yourself there, Anna. Nice one.
"I need—" she pants, then finds herself unable to finish the thought. (At least, she consoles herself, it's still a full sentence.)
"What?" Eugene prompts, skimming his palm over the soft skin of her stomach.
"I hope you guys are having fun up there," Kristoff grumps. "My jaw is cramping up."
"Breathe, Kristoff," Anna snarks back, only that was it, the missing ingredient, she'd been missing Kristoff's voice but he's been here the whole time, and suddenly all she can feel is his other hand, the one gripping her thigh, holding her steady.
Her spine stiffens, she's so close—
"It's alright," Rapunzel says, over and over, "it's alright," and Anna can't even figure out what that's supposed to mean until Eugene nips at her other ear and agrees, "C'mon, Anna, come for us."
She's not sure if it's the Anna or the us that gets her, but she's got. Her back arches as she cries out her release, every muscle seizing at once until she falls back, body wracked with tremors. Rapunzel and Eugene sit up to give her space, and with effort she manages to untangle her boneless legs from Kristoff's neck.
"Gyah," she repeats to the ceiling.
"That didn't sound like 'Kristoff,'" he jokes, crawling his way up her body before bracing himself above her on strong arms. She lets herself languish under him, eyes drinking in the way the muscles of his shoulders ripple. He blinks as he notices her trembling, worry draining the confidence and lust from his features. "Are you cold?"
"Opposite of that," she breathes, reaching up to touch his chest. "And your name—names—have too many syllables. You," Anna says, bending back to poke Rapunzel on the nose, "being the worst."
Rapunzel just laughs and turns to her husband. "Oh my gosh, is that why you decided to be Flynn instead of Flynnigan?"
"No comment. How you doin' there, Red?"
"I'm spent," Anna jokes, rolling over and trying to curl up. "You guys do whatever you want; I'm exhausted. Roll me over when it's my turn again."
"If you insist," Rapunzel says, and then Anna can feel her small hand pressing between her shoulder blades. Anna lets out an oof as Rapunzel leans most of her body weight on her, apparently trying to get to Kristoff; she can hear the wet sounds of their kiss.
"Hey, what're you doing up there?" she asks, because she can't twist her neck around far enough to see them. She really didn't think this through.
"Wanted to taste you," Rapunzel groans into Kristoff's lips.
"Wha—? Hey, that's—!" Anna protests, but her attempt to roll back over makes Rapunzel's arm buckle. She and Kristoff overbalance, tipping forward they both collapse on top of Anna, Rapunzel's face smushed ungracefully against the small of Anna's back as Kristoff crushes them both.
"Sorry! Sorry," Kristoff mumbles, scrambling to get his weight off of them, but Anna just laughs, caressing the only part of Rapunzel she can easily reach—her ankle.
"There, see? Now you're much closer to the source."
"Uh huh," Rapunzel chuckles, but then she's gently kissing the two divots that frame Anna's spine just above the curve of her backside, and Anna hisses at the sensation.
"Okay okay okay enough," she gibbers, slithering out from the tangle of bodies she's caught in because she's still over-stimulated and sensitive. She pulls herself up against the pillows at the headboard, next to Eugene. He's been watching the whole thing with an amused smirk, and when she looks down, she sees that he has himself in hand, stroking lazily. She swallows.
Kristoff pulls himself up until he's sitting, and absent-mindedly reaches for Anna's hand, entwining their fingers. "So, uh, now what?" he asks. Anna notes that his eyes, too, are following the movement of Eugene's hand.
"Well, that depends," Eugene says. "What do you want?"
"I want to watch," Kristoff says immediately, seeming to surprise even himself. He looks between Rapunzel and Eugene. "While you…"
"Looking for tips?" Eugene teases.
Kristoff turns bright red. "Shut up."
"Hey, no," Eugene says, looking contrite, "I didn't—of course. That's—"
Rapunzel crawls on top of him and kisses him before he can incriminate himself any further somehow. The way they kiss each other—slow, relaxed, like there's no rush and they might as well stop and enjoy themselves for a minute—is hypnotic to watch. Kristoff wonders if he kisses Anna like that; if they'll ever look half so carelessly perfect together.
"Do you want help with that?" Anna whispers then into his ear, as if he summoned her. He shivers at the feeling of her lips as they trail down his neck, and he is achingly, painfully hard.
Oh, wait. That was a question. "What?"
She reaches for him where he needs her most. "I could take care of this for you," she clarifies. "If you want me to."
"I always want you," he mumbles. Across the bed, Rapunzel whimpers as Eugene slips inside her. She breathes in tiny, choking gasps that whisper around his name; it's intoxicating.
"Hold on," Kristoff says, pushing Anna's hand away and grabbing her instead by her hips, lifting her into his lap. "You should be able to see this."
It's not an angle they've ever tried before—him entering her from behind while trying to stay seated—and it's awkward; she has to kind of be up on her knees in order to get the range of movement he needs. But it's worth it for the view.
They get lost in each other; Kristoff honestly loses count at the number of times they all trade places, trade partners. For a few memorable minutes he and Eugene are in Anna at the same time while her head rests in Rapunzel's lap and the other girl whispers soothing nothings at her, stroking her cheeks. Kristoff had wanted to stop at first—it looked like it was hurting her as she strained to take them both—but Anna had insisted, begged, and he's never been good at saying no to her. None of them, however, had lasted long in that position.
He learns that Rapunzel tastes different than Anna does, in ways he doesn't have the palette or experience to describe. He's not quite brave enough to try Eugene, but when Kristoff spills out onto his own stomach after learning what it's like to have six hands on him at once, he doesn't stop Eugene from swiping a finger through the sticky mess and having a taste. He has to retreat to the bathroom after that, embarrassed, wanting to clean himself up away from their gazes, but it is Rapunzel who follows him, Rapunzel who coaxes him back to the bed.
He'd expected to find Anna and Eugene perfectly distracted in his absence, but instead they'd both been waiting at the foot of the bed, not even touching each other, eyes wide. Like puppies waiting for their person to come home.
Later, though, he can't get them to stop touching each other—Anna spends upwards of ten obsessive minutes laving at Eugene's knife scar with her tongue, loving on him, even as her fingers tangled with Rapunzel's own. And that's something Kristoff understands, something they've talked about when she spends hours learning the dips and crevices that come with a body that's been harvesting ice for ten years: that sometimes she misses the streak of white in her hair, the physical evidence of what she'd been through. Elsa's ice had left no scar on the surface, but it didn't always feel like that on the inside, she'd said. Anna wanted to carry it. She was proud of it. He gets that.
They finally stop when the light coming through the window starts to turn that soft, gray yellow of pre-dawn, all of them delirious with exhaustion and high on each other.
"So," Anna laughs, sweaty and sated as the others settle down for sleep around her. "Who wants to build a snowman?"
The treaty between Arendelle and Corona, foreign ministers and politicians from neighboring lands will note later, wasn't exactly unprecedented in its fairness or generosity. No, there were plenty of examples from the past where two lands had given of their riches in such a clearly equitable manner, pandering to each other's strengths and needs.
It's just that all of those treaties were reached between royal families getting united by marriage.
But that's later.
Somehow word spreads around the kingdom that Rapunzel and Eugene that today is the day of The Waking Sky's departure, and by the time the five of them (well, six counting Pascal) make it to the docks there's a large crowd of onlookers watching from the pier.
Anna really hadn't wanted an audience for this, but had flat-out rejected the suggestion that they just say their goodbyes at the castle. She's not going to give up a single moment of their company, and she's not going to stop waving until their ship is a speck on the horizon. She owes them that. She wants that. Nothing less.
"Okay, me first," Elsa says, trying to sound selfish, but Anna sees right through her. She's letting Anna go last, protecting her like always. "Rapunzel, I—"
Rapunzel falls into Elsa, arms wrapping around her neck, cutting off her thought.
"I told Anna once I always wondered what it would be like to have a sister," she confesses to Elsa's clavicle. She hangs on even tighter. "Now I know."
Elsa doesn't seem to have a response to that, so she just lets Rapunzel hang off her, burying her nose in Rapunzel's short hair.
When she pulls away, Anna has to strain to hear her quiet question—"You're coming back, right?"
"Nothing could keep me away," Rapunzel promises, and steps back.
"Oh, my turn? Here, hold the frog," Eugene says, passing Pascal to Kristoff so he can hug Elsa properly. Eugene's hugs, Anna knows, are rare but perfect—he wraps his arms all the way around, to the opposite shoulder. Like he's trying to hold you together. "Hey, Elsa."
"Yes?" she sniffs.
"You're good at this," he says, and before she can ask what this is he's stolen the crown off the top of her head, spinning it on his finger.
"Eugene!" she laughs, and with an exaggerated shrug he tosses the tiara back at her.
"Good riddance," Elsa grumbles, but she's smiling, and then she's walking back up to the pier. Anna thinks she's going to go wait in the carriage, but then—no, she starts talking to one of the women in the crowd, a young mother. Providing a distraction, Anna realizes.
Kristoff clears his throat. "Alright, um…"
Eugene gives Kristoff a manly clap on the back, Kristoff returns it, and that's it, that's goodbye for them. Anna wonders how they do it. But then Kristoff's hands are at Rapunzel's hips and he's lifting her, spinning her high in the air, and she's laughing, and Anna aches because she knows what that feels like on both sides: to have your feet firmly on the ground until he lifts you like it's nothing, to want to do anything to hear that laugh.
"Thank you," Kristoff says when he puts her down, and her nose wrinkles.
"I—" Kristoff starts, but then frowns, and Anna can see the conflict play out on his face as he tries to choose the right words. He's never been a big speech guy, or a confessing-feelings guy. "The love," he finally says.
"You're welcome," she says, and then she stands on her tiptoes to kiss his chin.
And then she and Eugene turn to Anna, and it's her turn.
"I can't do it, I can't say goodbye to both of you at once," Anna moans.
Eugene smiles his encouraging smile, the same one he gave Elsa on the night they all met. I'm not freaking out; are you freaking out? "Okay then, me first," he says, before sweeping her into a crushing hug.
"What, no kiss on the cheek?" she brave-faces.
Smirking at her, he leans in and kisses her just at the corner of her mouth. "Be good, Red," he says when he lets her go, and he walks up the gangplank before she can get in a response.
Rapunzel's hands are cradled nervously at her waist, like she knows she wouldn't be able to control herself if she tried to do what Eugene had.
Anna bites her lip; she can feel her eyes watering. "I'll write you."
"I know you will."
"And—and we're going to see each other all the time. I'll make sure of it. I'm coming to visit, okay? Within six months, I'll be coming to visit."
"Anna, you hate sailing," Rapunzel points out, trying to mask the breathiness of her upset with a laugh.
"So?" Anna counters with a shoddily-concealed sob of her own. "I'll make it work. We're going to see each other. And then you'll have to come back when Kristoff and I get married—"
"When we what?" Kristoff yelps, and Pascal crawls up onto his face in an attempt to cover his mouth.
"—and just. All the time. Right?"
"Right. You won't even notice I'm gone," Rapunzel vows.
Anna can't quite keep the watery smile on her face at that. "No, I will. I always do."
She's not sure who takes the first step, but suddenly they're hugging each other tight, fingers splayed wide across each other's backs. "Hang in there, Joan," Rapunzel whispers in her ear, and it's too much. The tears start to fall.
They stand there like that longer than they probably should, considering the audience of villagers, but she can't quite bring herself to let go.
"Your Highness," one of the porters finally says with a practiced, delicate cough. "We're waiting on you."
Reluctantly, Rapunzel pulls away, then wipes her tear-runny nose with her wrist in a distinctly un-princesslike manner. "Pascal, please," Rapunzel requests, holding out her hand, and Kristoff deposits the chameleon into her grasp before bending down to kiss her on the forehead one last time.
"Okay," she says, taking a deep breath. "Okay. Bye. For now," she says, taking one step backwards up the gangplank, and then another.
"Bye for now," Anna echoes. She keeps waiting for Rapunzel to turn around and Rapunzel keeps not doing it, until the ship is pulling away from the dock and the sails are down and slowly, so slowly, becomes distant. Until the green of Rapunzel's eyes, then the brown of her hair, then the pink of her dress are too far to see.
Anna waves anyway.
Kristoff takes her free hand—her left—and squeezes it. "Married, huh?"
She sniffles and breaks eye contact with the ship long enough to look up at him, the beginnings of a genuine smile quirking her lips. "Wanna?"
He makes a face at her. "What, that's it? No ring? No down on one knee? I'm beginning to think you're only proposing to me on a whim. So like you."
And it doesn't sting at all, it's just… a thing that happened. She's over it now. And, ooh—that's another autology: engagement.
"I love you," she tells him, which doesn't really answer his questions, but he kisses her anyway.
A/N And that's the end, folks! I'm aiming to write an Elsa-focused sequel at some point, but the main arc is now complete. I hope you've enjoyed!