She sat on the edge of her bed. Just sat. She did not fidget, did not talk, did not even think. Her murky brown eyes stared at the opposite wall with a fixated blankness that was rather eerie. Time ticked on around her, but she was consistent in her motions.
This had become a regular pattern of hers, to drift like this. She was past falling in and out of consciousness, as she had done for a period of a year or so. Even so, she would still sometimes fall into this stupor, this obliviousness to everything around her.
A sudden wail distracted her. She picked herself up off the edge of her bed and walked towards the noise. From the cradle she scooped the crying baby into her arms, and held him against her chest.
"Shh, shh," she murmured, a little impatiently. She was not quite enjoying these motherly tasks that the seven-month old required. But the women here at the Mauntery had felt it best that this green-skinned woman have something to look after, something to get her back on track. So looking after the boy had become her duty, whether she was agreeable or no.
Bouncing the sniffling baby lightly in her arms, she made another gentle "shh" noise and sat back down on the bed. This kid should not be my responsibility, Elphaba thought, not for the first time. She had naught attachment nor affection towards the sniveling little thing. And besides that, she did not have a inkling how to act like any sort of motherly figure.
Thank the Unnamed God, the boy had finally quieted. She looked down at his small face. He had not fallen asleep, instead was merely looking up at her, shadowed brown eyes boring into hers.
"Go to sleep," she told him. He didn't listen. That was the exact thing Elphaba hated about children: they never paid attention to commands, never did as they were told. This one was even worse, because she had to take care of him.
She called him Liir. Why, even she did not know. The name, one she vaguely recalled hearing long ago, had merely seemed fitting.
Liir Thropp, even, although the idea of sharing her surname with such a pathetic little thing was displeasing, to say the least.
He continued to just watch her with his large eyes. She held out her index finger and lightly brushed one of his small hands. Soft, tiny fingers curled around the larger green one instantly, with a firmness that was surprising for someone so little. She gazed at her finger clutched in his with mild shock; and for a moment, she almost was able to tolerate this action, almost able to feel like a mother, almost able to hold affection for the small thing.
She then tried to carefully shake her finger free of his grip, but his hold did not slack in the slightest. She shook with more and more vigor until finally little Liir let go. "Trying to cut off my circulation, are you?" she growled, launching into a mini tirade of various swear-words and curses at the small boy, before quieting again. That was another thing she did not like about children: they didn't seem to care if you were angered. This one didn't, at least. All Liir had done during her little speech was blink at her and start sucking on his thumb. Unfazed by most everything, yet set off by almost nothing – maybe he really is my child, she mused sardonically to herself.
There were days she wished she knew if she was Liir's mother or not, and there were days when she figured she was better off not knowing. There were days she was convinced that the child was indeed hers, and there were days she knew for certain that he was not. How could he be? She had no memory of her stomach expanding, not a single recollection of his birth. True, she had dissolved into little more than a shell for nearly a year after Fiyero's death; floating around and falling unconscious frequently. But for heaven's sake, wouldn't she have remembered something as significant as giving birth?
But, you do, she thought, as she rocked Liir slowly back and forth, his eyelids starting to droop heavily with sleep, you do remember it.
Blinding light. Dark figures moving around. Red. Red, everywhere. Blood. Pain. Pain, surrounding her, blinding her, blinding her more than the light…
She shuddered slightly at the brief memory, and secured Liir more firmly in her arms. That was her only memory, the only remains. She wasn't even sure if it was real, or if some part of her imagination had invented it to fill one of the many gaps in her life.
And yet, a part of her did somehow know, did somehow understand, that whether this vision was fantasy or truth, the boy in her arms was hers. The only piece of Fiyero she had left.
She looked down at Liir, now sleeping peacefully in her arms. He deserved better. He deserved better than anything she could offer him. Because she couldn't offer him anything as a mother. Her own mother had been all but an example. Elphaba did not know how to avoid her mother's mistakes while not making her own.
If only you were here, Fiyero. You would know what to do.
Rising to her feet, she placed Liir back in his crib, hovering over him. The boy could fend for himself. If he was indeed related to her, he would have no trouble with that. She would do what was needed, provide him food and such, but beyond that he could take care of his own needs. Besides, she didn't need a child hindering her work and studies. They were both going to learn to be independent – he for the first time, she for the second – and to rely on only themselves. No matter how difficult it might be.
Besides, she thought, with a wry half-smile, the wicked don't care about others anyhow.