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Three Sunsets of Haunting You

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“You’re absolutely the worst, you know that?” Gerard whispered playfully as Frank rolled his eyes and kept on making absurd faces.  “Don’t you dare make me laugh during the ceremony!”

Frank gave a mock-pout.  “I thought I was, and I quote, the best thing that ever happened to you.”  He grabbed Gerard’s hand, holding up the shiny silver band inset with a tasteful, glittering diamond.  “I made you cry and I’m never going to forget it.”

Though he was loath to admit it, Gerard almost cried when he’d woken up from a peaceful sleep to see Frank laying out a small spread on a checkered blanket on their bed.  “Oh my god.  Is this-”

“A recreation of our first date?  Yeah.”

Frank just laughed and handed him a chocolate-covered strawberry.  He’d gotten up at an ungodly hour, it would turn out, and gone down to the kitchens to prepare a breakfast for the two of them.  Chocolate-covered strawberries, jellies and tipsy-cake in the shape of a heart.  Gerard fairly melted into his embrace, surprised and touched.  “That’s so sweet of you, Frankie.”  

In response, Frank fed him another strawberry with a devilish grin.  “This one has something special.”

Gerard frowned, trying to articulate around a mouthful of fruit.  “Are you trying to poison me?”

“Wow, I’m hurt.”  Frank placed a dramatic hand over his heart.  “To think you would even-”

“Okay fine, fine!” Gerard interjected, giggling.  He took a bite of the strawberry, expecting his teeth to sink into the soft dessert- 

Instead, he was met with a scrape of hard, cold metal.  

“Frankie!” he’d yelled, spitting the offending ingredient into his palm.  “What the actual fuck was-”

He trailed off as he realised what it was.  A diamond, glittering on a ring.

“Gee?”  At some point, he’d managed to get down onto the floor without Gerard noticing.  And he was on one knee.

“Is this...are you…?” Gerard swallowed, eyes suddenly wet. 

“Gerard Arthur Way, you have no idea how many pastries I baked last night to bribe Helena into helping me get you that ring.  As much I hated to not sleep beside you, I had to do this, so.”  He paused, looking a bit sheepish.  “You’re the best person in my life, my past life and this life, and I can’t imagine why you agreed to bind your soul with mine, but you make me laugh and you never cease to amaze me and I know this is fucking early but you brought me back from the dead, didn’t you?  So fuck propriety.”

Gerard began laughing through his tears at this point.

Frank smiled softly.  “Gerard Way, will you marry me?”

The tears had starting pouring down Gerard’s face of their own accord.  “Yes!  Yes!”  He flew into Frank’s waiting arms.  “Frank Iero, I will marry you.  Obviously yes, you idiot.”

He had no idea how long they stayed there, laughing on the floor like little children, and when they rose, Gerard had a ring on his finger, a beautiful promise.

Now, as they followed Helena down the castle’s halls, Frank squeezed Gerard’s hand.  “You nervous?”

“Yeah.”  Gerard exhaled softly.  This was the two of the most important events of his life happening on the same day- his coronation and his wedding.  “My parents are going to murder me when they realise I’m getting married today.  And to someone of the same gender, no less,” he added.

Frank grinned.  “You’ll be king by then.  Besides, murder can’t be that effective.  I used to be a ghost and here I am, aren’t I?”

It was a miracle he wasn’t still giggling when he entered the hushed church, lit up by a kaleidoscope of light streaming in through the stained-glass windows.  One beam pierced through the altar, landing directly on the pedestal that held the shimmering crown inlaid with three gems: a ruby, a sapphire and an emerald, symbolising love, wisdom and harmony.  

“I’m taking bets on how heavy that thing is,” Frank quipped, and Gerard shot him a smile.  (He’d meant for it to look a tad scolding, but somehow, as usual, it didn’t come through.)

Turning to face them, Helena gave them a brief smile.  “The ceremony will begin in approximately ten minutes.”  She examined her clipboard.  “Your Highness, the arch of white roses will be carried out the moment your announcement is made.  May I suggest that the prince consort be seated on a throne beside you rather than in the audience?”

“That sounds perfect,” Gerard cut in smoothly before Frank could protest.  “Thank you, Helena.  And call me Gerard, please.”

Frank chuckled beside him.  “Prince consort sounds positively stuffy.”

“What, you want me to make you a princess?”  Gerard grinned.  “I’m sure I could have that dress from the ball replicated.”

Helena cleared her throat and the two of them jerked back, only now aware that they had been about to kiss again.  “As per your request,” she continued, “The King Father and Mother will be seated together with Prince Michael and Marquess Toro on the front rows, and the public will be free to join us in the church throughout the ceremony.”  It was truly a marvel how unfazed she was at the last-minute alterations that violated historical protocol, alterations which she had only been made aware of two hours ago.  Somehow, she’d roused the entirety of the staff and managed to tailor them both impeccable suits- Gerard’s black velvet, and Frank’s midnight blue.

She clapped her hands, and the servants adjusting the silk streamers and floral displays on the sidelines bowed and vanished through the back door.  “I’m making them clean up before they come in,” she explained at the look of confusion on their faces.  “Your High- Gerard , the delivery of your invitations was a wonderful surprise for them.”

“I’m glad to hear that.  It was Frank’s idea, actually.”  He smiled at his partner.  “I hope the nobility won’t be too miffed at having to sit with everyone.”  But as Frank so eloquently put it, “the fuckers are so used to feeling superior, any equality will feel like an insult to them”.  

“Shall I have guards posted around the perimeter should there be violence?” Helena asked, concern furrowing her brow.  

“It’s all right,” Frank answered.  “I’ll take care of them.”  He winked at Gerard as Helena nodded and headed to fetch the priest.  “Just because I’m human now doesn’t mean I lost my ghostly tricks.”

Gerard’s eyes widened.  “Show me!”

Frank smirked.  “As you wish, Your Imperial Majesty.”  And with that, he turned translucent.  As if for good measure, he made his entire head disappear.  

“Oh, good God!  What the fuck was that?”

Frank rematerialised.  “I discovered it when I was practicing my proposal speech in the bathroom.  I got nervous and realised I’d turned back.”

“You never disappeared in front of me!”

With a sly smile, Frank stood on his tiptoes to give him a quick peck on the lips.  “I was trying to court you, and didn’t think that trick was entirely appropriate for winning over a king.”

Laughing, Gerard batted his arm.  “Please don’t pull any of that during the wedding.”

Just then, the priest ambled in followed by a worried-looking Helena.  She made a frantic motion behind the old man’s back, pointing at their joined hands and making an abortive signal.  Startled, they let go of each other just as the priest reached them.

Oh God.  Was the priest officiating his wedding homophobic ?  “Your Imperial Highness,” he said in a voice as dry as brittle leaves.  “God bless you!”  He looked so frail, it was a miracle he managed to kneel before Gerard quickly helped him back up.  

“Father,” he said, hoping he wouldn’t crumble to dust in the time they took to reach the altar.  Frank echoed the greeting, earning a small nod.

Helena quickly stepped in.  “Father, His Imperial Highness has decided to forgo the procedure of the annointing and would prefer to be crowned straight away after his oath.”

“Of course,” said the old man warmly.  He turned to Gerard.  “It is an honour to serve you, my king.”  He glanced at Frank.  “Is your servant to assist me with the crowning process?”

Jolted by fury, Gerard blanched.  “What?  Frank isn’t my servant!  He is my husband-to-be!”  Grabbing Frank’s hand, he showed the priest the signet ring upon his finger.  He was about to give the priest a piece of his mind when Frank softly whispered, “Gee, it’s all right.  Calm down.”  

“I- I sincerely apologise, Your Highness,” the priest stuttered.

“It was an honest mistake,” Frank said, surprising them both.  “I forgive you.”  He gave the priest a genuine smile.  “It is an honour to meet you, Father, and I hope you understand how the nature of love varies.  Male or female, gender has no matter in true love, and I truly believe my marriage to the king shall please the Lord.”

The priest looked thoroughly taken aback.  “Yes, yes, of course, Your Highness,” he said, and there was a ring of sincerity to his voice that surprised Gerard.  “You are wise beyond your years, and I have good reason to believe you are to carry out God’s own work.”  With a hesitant smile, he shuffled off to where Helena was clutching a copy of the Bible.

The moment he was out of earshot, Gerard gave Frank an incredulous look.  “How the hell did you do that?  You don’t even believe in God!”

Frank gave a smug half-smile.  “Sometimes, to win people over, violence or pulling rank isn’t the solution.  You have to appeal to what they believe in.”

Without thinking, Gerard grasped him by his lapels and pulled him in for a kiss.  “You’re amazing.”

“Seeing as how my giving speeches affects you so, should I take up the position of political advisor?” he joked. 

Before Gerard could enthusiastically say, yes, of course he should, the church bell tolled.  Helena led them to the altar as the double doors were drawn open by servants to allow guests to file in.

“Good Lord, that is a monstrosity,” Gerard quipped from the throne as he spotted a scowling young woman drowning in red silk and feathers teeter across the pews, supported by the elbow by an older woman he assumed to be her mother.  

“Poor girl,” Frank agreed.  “Her mother must be pushing her to lure you in.”

Gerard looked at him askance.  “ What?

“What, do you want me to tell you you’re a catch no matter what your rank?”

“Can I say yes?”

“You already have, today,” Frank grinned, tapping the ring on his finger.  Smug bastard.

The priest stepped up onto the altar as the crowd hushed, many questioning looks shot their way.  Gerard could see his parents in the front row, his mother clad lavishly in a forest green dress, clearly haven taken the opportunity to bejewel herself as much as possible.  As a result, she was looked for all the world like a rather unfortunate Christmas tree.  

“People of Aquilla, we are gathered here today to celebrate the coronation of His Imperial Highness, Gerard Arthur Way,” the old man announced, his voice echoing throughout the vast cathedral.  Gerard’s heart began trembling like a leaf.  From the sidelines, Helena gave him a reassuring smile that calmed him down somewhat.

“As our Lord writes in the Holy Bible, in the book of Proverbs, ‘if a king judges the poor with truth, his throne will be established forever’.  The three gems of the Aquillian crown represents how a monarch must be loving, wise and a guiding hand towards harmony, and it is my honour to now invited His Imperial Highness Gerard Arthur Way to rise and accept this responsibility.”

His heart thundering, Gerard got to his feet.  “On behalf of the holy nation of Aquilla, I ask you, Gerard Arthur Way, do you pledge to serve your kingdom with every breath you take?”

“I do.”  His leg was spasming, but he hoped nobody noticed.  From the crowd, Michael gave hm a wink, and to his relief, he stopped shaking.

“Do you vow to judge and rule with lowliness of mind and the humility of a servant?  For him who is a ruler must be the servant of those he rules over.”

“I do.”

“And finally, do you vow to love each and every one of your people with the love for your family?”

“I do.”

“Then by the power vested in me by God, I pronounce you king.  Kneel before your people.”  Gerard obliged, and carefully, ever so carefully, he lifted the crown from its red velvet cushion and laid it upon his head.  Head bowed, Gerard couldn’t see the reactions of the crowd, and focused instead on preventing the crown from slipping off his head.

“People of Aquilla, rejoice, for a new king has been born!  Rise, Your Majesty.”  

Gerard got to his feet, drawing himself up as tall as possible as applause thundered through the church.  Scanning the back rows of pews, he was delighted to see it packed with cheering commoners.

He placed a hand on the priest’s shoulder.  “Thank you, Father, for your service.”  He turned to his people.  “And thank you, people of Aquilla, for the honour of being your sovereign!”  More cheers.

“Now that I am king, I have an announcement to make.”  The crowd almost immediately hushed with anticipation.  “Frank Iero, would you please rise?”

Murmurs rippled across the room as Frank, beaming, got to his feet and stood beside Gerard.  

“Homoesexuality is not a crime,” Gerard began, ignoring the gasps that spread through the audience.  “As king of this country, my first decree is to decriminalise romantic love and marriage between consenting adults of any gender.”  Glancing down at his family, he saw that his mother looked fit to explode while Michael smiled and gave him the most miniscule of nods.  His father remained impassive.

He put his hand in Frank’s.  “Dear Aquilla, I would like to announce my engagement with Frank Iero, the love of my life.”

The church erupted as a large floral arch of white roses was moved to the front of the altar and a cage of doves were released.  “Homosexuality is not a crime,” he repeated, louder to regain command of the crowd.  “God created us to love each other as much as He loves us.  Love is blind, and no matter what gender, true, pure love could never be a sin.”

He caught sight of Raymond in the audience, beaming like an angel, and he saw, with sudden clarity, how so many people around him would have been condemned for the love they carried.

Pulling Frank close, they shared a picture-perfect kiss, chaste but emotional, the perfect scene for a new beginning as the crowd began to cheer.

The night sky sparkled with diamond-like stars, an ethereal backdrop for the arch of pearly white roses on the dewy grass.  Candles on the feasting table lit up the dark, and the path towards the altar between the rows of seats was sprinkled with blushing pink petals.  It was a small ceremony, an intimate one, with only Gerard’s immediate family and two seats left empty out of respect for Frank’s parents along with the guests of Helena and Eileen, who had been sent for immediately.  Raymond would be officiating, much to Gerard’s surprise when he found out.  Michael had been adamant that he officiate, and had sung his friend’s praises for so long that the ever-humble Raymond quickly interjected and agreed.

“Are you ready?”  Michael proffered Gerard his arm, glancing at the bouquet of colourful flowers.  “How much did you spend on flowers alone?”

Gerard swatted his arm.  “Mikey, stop teasing!  My nerves are in tatters.”

It was unconventional, but Gerard couldn’t imagine anyone else giving him away as they walked down the aisle arm in arm, the quiet night lending the ceremony an aura of comfortable peace.  

When he reached the altar, the sight of Frank nearly swept him off his feet.  Not only because he looked ravishing with his beautiful kaleidoscope eyes accentuated by the silky midnight blue of his suit, but because he was looking at Gerard like he had hung the moon and stars himself.  That look alone was enough to render him breathless.

“Dearly beloved,” Raymond began.  “We are gathered here tonight to witness the marriage of Gerard Way and Frank Iero.”  With a private smile for the two of them, he looked up to face their small audience again.  

“ like oatmeal,” he continued, a wistful look on his face.  “It sustains you.  Love is ambrosia, a godly nectar that makes you strong yet vulnerable, happier because you have been sad, better than ever because you have found the perfect soul for you.”  Here he paused with a smile.  “Love is patience, love is anger, love is understanding, love is all-encompassing.  And we, dearly beloved, are lucky enough to witness the joining of these two loving souls.”

He turned to Gerard.  “Do you, Gerard Arthur Way, take Frank Anthony Iero to be your legally wedded husband?”

“I do, I do!”  Gerard couldn’t bring himself to care about the lone tear that slipped down his cheek.

“And do you, Frank Anthony Iero, take Gerard Arthur Way to be your legally wedded-”

“I do!”

There was a ripple of soft laughter at Frank’s excitement.  Raymond grinned from ear to ear.  “I now pronounce you husband and husband.  You may kiss the-”

Again, Frank cut him off by pulling Gerard into a long, sensuous kiss, arms circling his waist, and in that moment, Gerard felt stronger than he had ever been.  He felt as though he had wings, able to rise through the sunrise, hand in hand with Frank, and forever be at peace.  Despite the difficulties coming their way, the laws that would have to be passed to legalise their love, the uncomfortable conversations with his parents, he felt weightless, invincible.  He had Frank, and that was all he needed.  

When they finally broke the kiss, Gerard leaned close to whisper in his husband’s ear.  “You are my ambrosia, Frankie.  Always.”

Frank smiled up at him and Gerard swore he could see the light of a thousand stars sparkling in his eyes, joy and excitement and love.  “And I am the ghost to haunt you for all time.”

Gerard laughed.  “ My ghost.”

“That’s right, your ghost.”  Frank kissed him again, thoroughly, and Gerard felt like an angel.  Frank pulled away suddenly, smirking at the flustered look on his husband’s face.  “Come on, there are rose macarons on the feasting table!”

And even though his entire family was watching, even though he had just been handed the scepter of a huge responsibility, even though he had seen life and death and everything in between in the span of three days, as Frank grabbed his hand and pulled him away from the altar, his ring an exciting novelty upon his finger, he decided that he had never felt happier.

Frank gave his hand a squeeze.  “I know.  Me too.”  He gave Gerard another one of those looks, the ones with such awe and sheer adoration they made Gerard weak at the knees. 

“Don’t you forget, sweetheart, we have the rest of our lives.”

And to Gerard, those were the best words that anyone had ever said to him.