Fiyero watched Elphaba sleep, always one of his greatest pleasures in the few laconic moments the pair had ever enjoyed. She wore one of the least…offensive…of Glinda's nightgowns, which still looked faintly ridiculous on the taller, skinner, green woman. But in sleep, the covers pulled high, curled half into a ball, she was lovely. Content, at peace, which Lurline knew she got little of.
And apparently she wouldn't now, either. Liir burst in, stumbling with the inherent clumsiness of adolescents outgrowing their bodies, and slammed the door accidentally into the wall, startling Elphaba awake and into a sitting position.
"What the hell?" she demanded, for a moment evidently unaware of her place in space and time. Then she saw Liir. "Oh…what is it, then?"
had avoided calling either Elphaba or Fiyero anything since
discovering his true parentage. "Sir Chuffrey is…"
"Kumbricia damn that man," said Elphaba, leaping out of bed and yanking her day gown over the odious nightdress and hurrying downstairs.
Fiyero and Liir waited.
"Oh dear," Glinda's voice floated up the stairs. Liir laughed briefly and then disappeared quick as a wraith. Fiyero laughed himself, and lay back as if to go to sleep again, but a timid knock came at the door. Nor stood at the threshold uncertainly.
"Oh, yes…come in."
Nor perched delicately at the edge of the bed, and her father found himself squirming under her blue gaze, an intense mirror of his own. Her eyes dropped suddenly, and Fiyero followed them to the red scar marring his chest.
Fiyero regarded the flushing, embarrassed girl at the tail end of adolescence, still colt-like and long-legged, her dark brown hair rippling to her waist, her eyes large and almond-shaped, electric in contrast to her mahogany skin. She was a stranger to him, her soul hidden behind his own eyes. He thought of Elphaba downstairs, of poor Liir lost in his own life, of this stranger-daughter before him, of his two dead sons he didn't even know, and wondered how they had become so broken.
"Why?" Nor asked suddenly.
"No, why? Why did you do this?"
"Nor…I was…in love."
"What about Mama?" her voice hitched with the name long unspoken, and beneath the scar Fiyero's heart tore to match it.
"I-I- you don't understand, Nor!" he burst out, feeling so accountable to this girl who was and was not his daughter. "Always, always in the Vinkus marriages were arranged. I was seven years old, Nor, what were you doing at seven? Had you ever even seen a boy besides your brothers?" She fell back in meek silence, eyes widened. But listening, she was listening. "But I went to Shiz, to university. I was the first ever to go from our tribe, the first to establish a firm connection with Oz proper! I saw a different world, Nor, I lived in it half the time, and I wanted it. And then- I saw her, there she was. Different like me and different from me, she didn't belong in this world either, but she'd broken away from her family obligations, pursued her own ideals without care for the delicate deceptions of polite society, created her own world, and she was free as hell and so goddamned beautiful and I followed her." His tone softened. "Haven't you ever been in love, Nor?"
"I have been locked in a prison cell for half my life because of you! Because of her!" Nor shrieked, and then stopped and recalled the soldiers, the crazy things she had felt and thought and wanted but not done. But that was hardly love.
Her father's face cracked with pain.
"I'm sorry," he said. "But so have I, or nearly, and love, Nor, love is worth it. You'll see. And you, you'll get to fall in love with whoever you choose. Free and clear."
"Yes, but I won't get a family," cried Nor, "I won't get back eight years of my life wasted because your accursed precious witch was living-"
The heavy clearing of a throat echoed like an execution's drumbeat in the room. Nor turned slowly, leaden with dread. Elphaba stood in the doorway, arms folded over her chest, smiling crookedly, strangely relaxed.
"Auntie Witch, I-" Elphaba held up a hand.
"I deserve that, Nor," she admitted. "Some of the blame. But I can't take on everyone's, not anymore. Were my own purported father not an evil dictator, none of this would have happened." Fiyero gave her a shocked look, echoed by Nor, and Elphaba realized she had neglected that part of the story.
"Later," she sighed, waving Nor out of the room, not unkindly. As soon as the girl had closed the door behind her, Elphaba collapsed onto the bed and traced Fiyero's scar gently with an inquisitive green finger. "Guilt is immortal," she murmured. "No- guilt dies, but only when its bearer dies as well."
Fiyero pulled her closer.
"Brooding is my nature; haven't you figured that out yet? It's all I do."
"All I do stems from it."
"Except you, and ar mbainne beag brood," she answered, slipping into a language he didn't know. "Our little brood," she clarified, and laughed. "I couldn't resist." She grinned. "And there's another one for you."
"Ha," he said, appreciating the elongated wordplay.
"Will Nor be all right?" Elphaba asked, changing the subject.
"You are, aren't you, and you lost your mother a year younger than she did. And found out your parents weren't quite faithful." He paused. "Speaking of your parents-"
She lay back, groaned. "I know. The Wizard is my father. So much irony it's disturbing, which leads me to think even more that I'm a great celestial pawn. Funny, since I don't even believe in the celestial, but Yackle…"
"None of that matters," Fiyero told her softly, trailing kisses up her neck and onto her cheek, "all that matters is that we're here, you and me and Nor and Liir and this baby, and we have a second chance."