As she felt herself dissolve, the scene began to change. She was in her old place, the abandoned corn exchange, the place she and Fiyero had slept together for so many nights during the three months before he died. Malky was on the bed. On the floor, there was a message written in what looked like green blood.NOT REALLY DEAD
She woke then, shivering. It was hopeless. In the months after Fiyero's death, she'd tried to forget everything, but it only had her dreaming that he was still alive. If she'd just accept his death, perhaps the dreams would end. After all, she was twenty-five, it had been two years; he was gone. And she certainly would never end up in Kiamo Ko, being hunted by silly, frivolous creatures.
It had taken her more than enough time to find somewhere else to hide. Of course, now she wasn't really hiding, for she was on neither side. She couldn't function like that after everything. Besides, she had to take care of…
She cursed as a baby cried from the cradle on the other side of the room. The child was a nuisance. When she'd realized she was pregnant in the month after that nightmarish Lurlinemas Eve, she'd hated the child immediately. It wasn't fair and she knew that; but she needed no reminder of the lover with the blue diamonds tattooed to his skin, the lover that would never set foot in her life (or anyone's life, for that matter) again, no thanks to her.
Muttering to herself, she got up and lifted the baby into her arms, holding it to her breast. She didn't know why she even bothered to care for it. Maybe she did it because of her pathetic hope that Yero was still alive. Perhaps she thought that, somehow, by keeping the child alive, she was keeping him alive as well?
She missed him with such strength that it had changed her. In the beginning, she'd been so cold. But she'd gotten to love him more than she thought she could and it took his death to make her realize it. It was true, she thought, that one never appreciated the things they'd been blessed with until they were gone.
Sighing, she rocked the baby in her arms, the only living descendant of Fiyero, now. She'd read of the horrible plague that had killed most of the tribes out in the Vinkus, and she'd seen Sarima's name, along with three children. It had been a tragedy, but at least it hadn't been her fault.
There was a commotion outside. Noise filled the streets and she peeked outside. However, she had no idea what was going on. Some people were cheering and others were crying. Closing her cloak around her and the child, she stepped outside.
"Excuse me," she asked a passing stranger, "What's all the ruckus?"
"Haven't you heard? Devastating news. The Wizard is dead."
Elphaba blinked. "No, I… I hadn't heard. Thank you." She walked away and said under her breath, "Two years too late."
A voice behind her asked, "Two years too late for what, Fae-Fae?"
Ten minutes later she was in the same room she'd begun the day in and the baby was back in the cradle. "You can't be here."
"But I am here."
Blue diamonds blurred in and out of her vision as her mind struggled to comprehend the sight she was seeing. "It's not possible."
"It is possible."
"I want to hear an explanation from you, first." He gestured towards the cradle.
Her green cheeks darkened and she looked away from him for the first time in the past ten minutes, almost sure he'd have disappeared when she looked to him again. He was still there. "Well, he… I… after you…"
"Is the child mine or not, Fae?"
She moved towards the bed and clutched the blanket in case the tears that threatened began to flow. Covering her face in her hands, she mumbled, "He's not yours. You're not Fiyero. You are not here."
Carefully, he took a step towards her. "Whether or not Fiyero is dead and is or is not here, is the child his?" He found it strange, talking about himself in third person.
"Yes." She backed away from him and sat on the bed. "Now leave. No, don't leave. You can't leave if you're not really here. Just… stop haunting me, please." Holding the blanket to the corner of her left eye, she turned away from him.
He wanted to grab her and shake her, make her believe he was there, but that wouldn't do him any good and he knew that. "I'm not dead, Elphie."
Still not looking at him, she said, "Believe me, I saw the mess and the blood."
"Then how are you talking to me right now?"
"I don't know. I'm dreaming. Maybe you're dead and don't realize it. Maybe this is some cruel joke. I don't know but please, stop this. It hurts too much to bear."
Quietly, he moved to the bed and sat down next to her, pulling her into his arms and helping her wipe away her tears. "But I am right here. Can't you feel me here?"
"Only because I want to."
"No." He tilted her chin up forcefully and looked her in the eyes. "I am here. I never died, Fae."
She shook her head violently. "Not here, not here, not here."
"Please, calm down."
But she couldn't calm down; she was shaking madly and repeated, "not here" a thousand times before falling asleep in his arms.
Gently, he laid her down on the bed and walked over to the cradle. The child didn't have deep, dark brown skin like his, but it was darker than any Munchkinlander's skin; darker than Nessa's skin, he recalled, which was surely what Elphaba's skin would have looked like had she not been green. Its skin was not green, and if it was, it was very subtle. "Sweet Oz," he murmured, "it is mine."
He'd never considered that she'd have gotten pregnant. Never once had he even given it a second thought until he had seen her with the child in her arms. All of this time, in his cell beneath the Palace, he'd thought about Elphaba, but a child hadn't crossed his mind. It was still a shock to him. How could he have ignored the possibility?
Cautiously, he picked the baby up and rocked it in his arms. The baby boy began to cry.
Elphaba woke up and shook her head, blinking many times before acknowledging anything. "I'm still dreaming. I have to still be dreaming." She said out loud. Taking the child from his arms but not recognizing his presence, she unbuttoned the top of her dress and breast-fed the child.
Fiyero watched this in awe. He saw the tantalizing skin he'd touched so many times before, the skin he'd yearned for during the past two years. As the child sucked at one of her breasts, the other hung loose and he had the sudden urge to caress it. Shaking his head, he scolded himself silently and said, "Elphaba, you've got to accept that I'm here."
She rolled her eyes and sat down. They sat in silence until the child was no longer hungry and began to grab at his mother's hair, cooing. Elphaba cooed back at the child and smiled at it softly. It was such a maternal action, so unlike the Elphaba he'd known, that he wondered if maybe she wasn't there.
The child began to cry and Elphaba rose to put it back in the cradle. Fiyero grabbed her, "What's his name?"
"I haven't had the strength to name it. I haven't had the strength to do much of anything." She placed the child in his cradle and turned back to Fiyero. "Why do you insist on haunting me like this?"
"Listen, Fae, I still love you. Tell me you believe that."
"If you still loved me, you wouldn't be haunting and tormenting me like this. Do you have any idea how much I want to just…?" She trailed off and looked away.
"Fae, I'm alive." He slid his hands around her waist and gazed into her eyes.
She fought back tears. "You're not real. You're not here."
"Shhh. Don't." He kissed her on the mouth with more passion and sensuousness than he ever had. Losing control, she kissed him back, pushing him closer to her. She let him guide her to the bed and pull her down onto it. With quick hands he undid the rest of her dress and removed his own clothing. Having lost all restraint, he slid himself into her without hesitation and they sank beneath the blankets, oblivious to everything, rocking back and forth and loving one another for the first time all over again.
Lying next to him, her tears dry, she touched his hair, his body. He smiled at her and kissed her in various places. Her resolve weakened and she lay her head against his chest. Before falling asleep, she said, "Fine, maybe you are real. I give in. You are here."