Fiyero was upset. Okay, so that was an understatement. Fiyero was pissed off beyond all hell, as Elphaba put it. Elphaba wasn't sure how to deal with him, so she took to the nursery to play with Nyra, now a year old, and Dendrio came in and joined her (she knew he'd never meant it when he said he didn't want to play with the baby). She was having issues of her own at the moment.
In a year, they'd most likely send Dendrio off to school. There were no good schools anywhere near them and they wanted for him to have a good education. Unfortunately, that meant boarding school. Elphaba couldn't bear the thought of only seeing her son for the fall holidays, winter holidays and summer holidays. But she knew that she would send him; she had to. It just saddened her.
Well, she thought, at least I have Nyra for another three years after he's gone. The little girl had not yet begun to talk, but she often made noises sounding like she was attempting to. It looked like her first word was going to be the one she heard her older brother say so often: "Mommy".
She was pondering on how selfish she was being with her thoughts when Fiyero appeared in the doorway. Glancing at him for only a second before turning her attention back to the giggling girl in her arms, Elphaba asked, "Yes, love?"
"Why'd you disappear on me?" He demanded.
"Do I have to tell you where I'm going every minute? I don't think so. Besides, you aren't in a good mood right now, obviously, and I wanted to leave you be to sort things out." She cooed down at Nyra. "I love you, yes I do." Elphaba kissed the infant's nose playfully.
He softened, watching his family, and sat down next to Elphaba. "I'm sorry, Fae."
"What upset you?"
"You didn't hear about it?"
Elphaba shook her head. "Not at all."
"Lali and Niran."
"That's not nearly old enough to be kissing a boy!" Fiyero exclaimed.
Elphaba perked up. "You caught them kissing? I'm sad I missed it!"
Fiyero glared at her.
He folded his arms across his chest.
"Oh, fine. So it's a little odd. But Fiyero, people, normal people, not like us, sometimes have their first kiss when they're, I don't know, twelve or thirteen. In some ways of looking at it, those two are rather late."
"I didn't have my first kiss until… until…"
"Until when?" She was smirking.
He pulled her to him and kissed her deeply. "Until you."
Nyra started to cry. "Yero! You upset her. Don't do that!" Elphaba exclaimed. "She'll be crying for hours now, thanks to that."
"She's upset just because I kissed you?"
"Ew!" Dendrio was pushing between the two. "That's icky."
Elphaba rocked Nyra helplessly. "That was completely inappropriate, Fiyero."
Fiyero grumbled, "Women."
"Get out of here," she snapped, "you're causing too much commotion. Take Den and I'll try and calm Nyra down."
"Hey, Den, you want to go downstairs and see if Grandma has any cookies leftover?" Fiyero asked, knowing it peeved Elphaba when they gave the boy too many sweets.
Elphaba stuck her nose in the air and pretended to ignore him.
Exiting the room, he said, "Now, son, I want you to learn something. Never make a woman angry. You'll never live it down."
After having put the children to bed, Elphaba climbed into her own bed, feeling glad to be getting some rest. That peaceful feeling didn't last long, however, as Fiyero entered the room two seconds later and began undressing. She scooted over in the bed to give him room.
He pulled her closer to him and kissed her.
"Not now. In the morning," she mumbled.
Fiyero sighed and left one last kiss on her neck before simply closing his own eyes. "I love you," he said, as usual.
"Mmm hmm." She answered.
In the morning, Fiyero felt something wriggling against him. Opening his eyes reluctantly, he found Elphaba squirming and shaking in her sleep. This was odd. He shook her gently. "Fae."
She bolted up, panting, and then relaxed and laid back down. "Okay. Wow."
"Having a bad dream?"
"No. A very good, very active dream."
"Can I help you relive it?" He offered.
It was still early when the two lay together, quiet and close. Elphaba occasionally voiced worries that Dendrio would sneak away from his nurse and creep into their bedroom, and then what would they say? Fiyero knew she was being overly cautious and just nipped at her neck in response.
There was a soft knock on the door and Elphaba leapt out of bed, pulling on a robe. Her eyebrows were furrowed. It wasn't Dendrio (he wasn't so good at remembering to knock) and the servants knocking usually sounded harsher than that. Opening the door, she smiled, "Lali!"
"Elphaba?" The young girl looked bothered, "Can I talk to you in private about girl stuff?"
Elphaba looked back at Fiyero for a moment, who shrugged. "Um, yeah, sure."
Lali peeked into the room really quickly before Elphaba shut the door behind her and giggled, putting a hand to her mouth.
Elphaba glared at her. Well, she tried to glare at her.
Lali just smiled smugly.
"Not a word." Elphaba warned.
"Well, that's actually kind of sort of what I wanted to talk to you about."
Elphaba sat down next to the girl as they reached the living room. "What do you mean?"
Lali's face flushed. "See, yesterday, I started bleeding, you know, and like, my mom explained stuff to me, but she didn't really want to say much."
What in Oz gave the girl the idea that Elphaba was the one to talk to about this? Elphaba bit back a groan and put her hand on Lali's shoulder sympathetically. "What did she say?"
"She pretty much said 'the man does this, then there's a baby'. There's more to it than that. I know there is. People do it all the time, and sometimes people do it even when they don't want babies. Like you and Fiyero."
Elphaba was thinking at this point that Fiyero's mother was never going to hear the end of it from her when she got the chance. "What gave you the idea that Fiyero and I don't want children?"
"You did. You say always say that you don't want to have any more kids. But this morning, I know that's what you were doing. I mean, why else would you guys be naked?"
"I wasn't naked."
"I'm pretty sure you were before I knocked on the door – which is why I knocked and didn't come in right away."
Elphaba sighed. "We appreciate that."
"So why do you do it?"
If this wasn't the most awkward conversation she'd ever have, she didn't know what was. "Well, you're right, Lali, sex isn't just about having children. It's a way of, um, expressing love between two people who've been together for a long time and are old enough and mature enough and, most of the time, married. That's why it's also referred to as making love."
"But why? I mean, why not just say 'I love you'? It's easier." Lali insisted.
"Because, Lali, when a man and a woman make love, it's very special. It takes much more time and energy than simply saying the words."
"What do you mean? I thought a man just…"
Oh, sweet Oz! "Your mother was a little neglectful in telling you these things. A man doesn't just put himself into a woman, he moves himself in and out for a long time, or a short time, depending on certain things."
"Because all of that rubbing and movement feels very nice to him, and in order for him to be able to spill his, uh, seed into the woman, he has to feel at the top of all of that, he has to feel really good, so good it causes him to, well, ejaculate, and that means he spills the stuff into the woman that could make her pregnant, if she's at the right point in the blood cycle."
"But why would a woman bother to sit through all that?" Lali wondered.
"It feels good for her, too. Sometimes it feels so good that she might scream in delight – but that doesn't mean you should go out and try it any time soon! In fact, it hurts the first time. A woman has this protective layering and it breaks and it hurts a bit. That's why you want to wait until you're married so you know the man you make love with will be kind and gentle and will love you no matter what."
Lali shuddered. Then she cocked her head and stared at Elphaba. "So you and Fiyero still do it because it feels really good?"
Elphaba covered her face with her hands. "And because we love each other, Lali. That's the main point. Sex is more about love than it is about pleasure. You have to understand that. Some people, mostly men, don't seem to get that as well, and they'll do it just for the way it feels, but you shouldn't ever do that. That's not what it's really about, Lali. What I'm trying to say is that love and sex and marriage go hand in hand."
Lali nodded slowly. "Mommy says I'm old enough to get married in a year and a half, when I turn sixteen."
"Well, out here, boys get married when they're eighteen or so and girls when they're sixteen, unless the boy is a prince, of course."
Sarima's two years younger. No wonder it was no problem she married Gondeko. "I think that's mostly up to you, Lali. You don't have to get married until you want to and you're ready to."
"I think I might love somebody." She looked at Elphaba's face. "Not enough to do that sort of thing with, not yet, but enough that I would marry him in a little while, if he asked."
Elphaba knew whom she was talking about. "Isn't Niran your age, though? He'd have to get married at eighteen."
"No." Lali shook her head. "He's seventeen right now."
Elphaba's eyes widened. She thought for a moment. "I guess I always thought he looked a bit old to be fourteen."
"And he'll be eighteen and a half. I'm sure half a year won't matter, will it?"
"I'm sure it won't. But your brother is going to kill me if he knows I've had this conversation with you."
"That's why he was so mad, wasn't it? Because he thought that if Niran and I were kissing, then we'd do other stuff, too?"
Elphaba squeezed the girl's shoulder. "Yes. He just doesn't want you to get hurt."
"I won't. Why would anyone? Doesn't everyone wait?"
Elphaba winced. "Some people make mistakes."
"Is it really that bad the first time?"
Elphaba thought she was going to scream in a moment. "Sure, why not?"
"Why not?" Lali repeated.
"Oh god. Okay, Lali, I'm going to tell you something, but I'm telling you because I want you never to do what I did, all right? I'm telling you because I think you're old enough to know. Do not ever tell your mother, or your brother, or anyone, for that matter. Okay?"
Lali looked eager. "Okay!"
"Most girls who did what I did get called bad names for this. You never want to do this. Ever. It was stupid of me, absolutely stupid."
"Would you just tell me?"
"When your brother and I were at college, we weren't very close. We knew each other, but we were little more than friends. I'd always had a crush on your brother, though, and he claims he'd secretly had some affection for me. Well, one night, when a group of us went out and had some drinks, your brother and I separated from them, had more to drink and ended up in his dorm. Partially because we were drunk and partially because of our feelings for each other, we had sex. Neither of us remembered when we woke up in the morning, though."
"Then how do you know?" Lali asked curiously.
"There was blood on the sheets." Elphaba gave Lali a look. "Yes, you do bleed. Only a little, but you do. And we were in his bed, not wearing anything. At that point, we admitted our feelings to one another and decided to start dating. We promised we'd never behave like that again until we were married. That lasted almost a year. When your father died, Lali, Fiyero and I had been having trouble seeing one another because my Nanny had found out about what had happened between us. Fiyero left me a note and I snuck over to his room that night to comfort him. He begged me to spend the night and I agreed. The two of us were both in crazy emotional states, and when we kissed, we lost control and we did it again. But that was the last time until we were married."
"Did you really love my brother then, too?"
Elphaba smiled softly. "Yes."
"Then it's sort of okay, right?"
"No!" Elphaba jumped up. "It is not okay. It was, for us, but sometimes… Lali, men like to trick women into thinking they're in love just so they can have sex. Your brother isn't like that, and I know you wouldn't hang out with anyone like that, but you have to be careful. The best thing you can do is wait until you're married."
"I wasn't planning on doing it any earlier."
"Good." She hugged the girl – no, young woman – and sat back on the couch.
"Fae? Lali?" Fiyero had gotten dressed (somewhat, he was only wearing pants) and was peering at them from the hall.
Elphaba beckoned him into the room and he sat next to her happily, Lali on her other side. She kissed him on the cheek and settled into him.
"What's going on?" He asked suspiciously.
"Girl stuff." Lali said.
"Elphaba doesn't believe in 'girl stuff'." Fiyero muttered.
"I do. You just don't know, because you're a man." Elphaba laughed. "And, in a moment, I will wave my arms and you will forget everything." She pretended to wave her arms dramatically.
"I have not forgotten anything."
"Elphaba!" Lali exclaimed. "That was a swear word."
Elphaba bit back another expletive and shrugged.
Lali, to rise a reaction from Fiyero, said, "Elphaba was just further detailing for me the facts of life and sex."
Fiyero pulled his arm from around Elphaba and looked at her. "You what?"
"Your mother told her nothing! I had to say something. She asked. What was I supposed to say? Especially after she had just found the two of us in our bedroom and you were naked."
Fiyero flushed. "So we sleep naked?"
"She's not an ignorant nine-year-old anymore, love. At fourteen, she deserves to know, and more than just 'a man puts this there and then nine months later there's a baby'. Think of what would happen to the poor thing on her wedding night if that's all she knew!"
"It doesn't matter. That's not any time soon."
"It's in a year and a half, Fiyero, and you'd better accept it. You and I may be a bit different than the customs around here say, but she isn't going to be. Live with it!"
"She's too young!"
"I'm right here!" Lali interrupted.
"Yes, I know, Lali." Elphaba acknowledged. "Fiyero, please. If you can't handle this, I don't want to know what you're going to be like years and years from now when Nyra gets married."
Fiyero glanced at Lali. "I guess, maybe…"
"Fiyero!" Lali huffed. "I'm not a baby."
"She's not, Yero." Elphaba reminded him.
"Fine. But I don't want to hear anymore about it!"
Elphaba rolled her eyes, but obeyed, and simply nuzzled against him, persuading him to put his arm around her again. She smiled at him sweetly. "I love you."
He kissed her forehead. "I love you, too."
Lali pretended to gag and left the room.
Elphaba giggled slightly, but hid it from Fiyero. "Yero, you know, you have two children to be the father of, you don't have to decide to be Lali's father, too."
"But I am her big brother, and when it comes to boys, older brothers and fathers act the same way." Fiyero said stubbornly.
"We've already had this conversation," Elphaba remembered.
"Yes, we have." Fiyero leaned his head back. "What a thing to wake up to."
"You didn't have the conversation I just had. You can't talk."
"What did you tell her?"
"I told you, I explained things. That's all."
Fiyero rolled his eyes. "How?"
"It was awkward enough saying it once, love, I'm not going over it," Elphaba said.
"Want to go over it upstairs, or in the library, or somewhere else private?" He teased.
"Oh," Elphaba asked innocently, "How could we do that?"
"Well," Fiyero licked his lips and grinned, "first I'd take off your clothes, then mine."
"Want to know more?"
She stuck out her tongue.
"I assume that's a yes. Well, a little foreplay and soon enough I'd be inside you and kissing you and…" He made a hand gesture. "I'm sure you know the rest," he kidded. "Or do you want me to tell you?"
"I'm well acquainted with it. Want to know something?" She asked, just as playfully.
"Your sister's in the doorway."
Fiyero leapt off the couch. "Damn it, Lali!"
Lali just cocked her head and asked, "What's foreplay?"