A/N: IT'S MY BIRTHDAY:D
Wow, the last chapter already! I can't believe it! First of all, I just want to take a moment to say one HUGE, ENORMOUS "thank you!" to everyone who has read and/or reviewed this story. You all have absolutely blown me away with your response – it has so far exceeded my expectations, it's in another galaxy or something! I mean, if you go purely by average number of reviews per chapter, this is my most successful story yet! I adore you all!
Anyhow, here, as promised, is the Fiyeraba chapter. And let me tell you, it's pretty much the fan fiction equivalent of pure, undiluted sugar. Seriously – I don't know if it's even legal to try and cram so much fluff into one chapter. Oh, yes, a couple of brief points. First of all, Fiyero is obviously no longer the Scarecrow. (Well, clearly, since they have a daughter… ;D ) And secondly, yes, I decided that they could have photographs in Oz. I figured the Wizard brought the technology of cameras with him.
Finally, an extra-special "thank you!" goes to my friend Lauren, a.k.a. kaliawai512, for the second half of this chapter. I was stuck in a mental ditch, and she pulled me out. And I would like to wish a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Meltalviel and Li'l Miss Woolworth Pearls, who both mentioned in their reviews that they share my special day!
Disclaimer: Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me! If I only owned Wicked, how happy I'd be!
I don't realize I'm awake until I recognize the sound of soft, plaintive wails coming from the cradle near the bed. But once my brain registers the noise, I'm fully alert in an instant. From the tone and volume of the cries, I can tell that they haven't been going on for very long. Being careful not to disturb Fiyero, who is asleep beside me, I quietly slip out of bed and go over to pick up our newborn daughter.
The baby's crying lessens as I cradle her close, rocking her gently, and soon she calms enough to peer silently up at me with eyes the same brilliant sapphire blue as her father's. I begin to hum softly, and soon she has fallen back to sleep, nestled in my arms. Running my fingers over the downy wisps of hair that cover her head, which are as black as my own ebony locks, I press my lips briefly to her forehead before crossing the room to the window, still holding her, to watch the sunrise.
I smile when I feel a familiar pair of warm, strong arms encircle me from behind, pulling me close, and turn to relax against Fiyero as he holds me. "Good morning," he says quietly.
"'Morning," I reply. "I didn't mean to wake you, but Ayana was starting to fuss."
"It's all right," he assures me. Then his gaze drifts to the baby in my arms, and he reaches down to trace one finger along her cheek. "I still can't believe she's really here."
"I know." I can't help the smile that spreads across my face as I let my eyes trail over our daughter's tiny, perfect features. "She's beautiful, isn't she, Fiyero?"
"Mmm," he murmurs in agreement with a smile of his own. "Just like her mother."
My smile widens at his words, and I lay Ayana back in her cradle and lean up to kiss him, wrapping my arms around his neck to pull him closer. When we ease apart, I reach up and tenderly brush a stray lock of hair off his forehead, then lay my head on his shoulder with a contented sigh. I can't ever seem to get enough of the feeling of him holding me, especially after everything we went through to end up together. When I'm in his arms, I never have to be anything other than what I am. I'm safe, accepted… I belong. And there aren't even words to describe how incredibly much that means to me.
After a few moments, he leans down to speak into my ear. "You know what today is, don't you?"
"Fiyero, you know perfectly well how I feel about my birthday," I protest halfheartedly, knowing that nothing I say is going to dissuade him, and not really minding. To be honest, I love how he always treats me like a princess.
"I know," he agrees cheerfully. "And you know perfectly well that no matter what you say, I'm not going to just give up and let you forget about it." He pulls away slightly for a moment and hands me a smallish, flat rectangular package. "Happy birthday, love."
I give him a look of mild annoyance, but then relent enough to let my expression relax into a small smile and take the gift from him. "Thanks."
When I open it, I can't help my small gasp of surprise. It's an old photograph of mine – a picture of me, Fiyero, Glinda, Boq, and Nessa when we were at Shiz, taken at a small party they threw for me when I found out that I got to meet the Wizard – that has sat propped rather unceremoniously on the mantle over the fireplace for as long as we've lived here. Only now it resides in a beautifully detailed wooden frame that I know at once he has carved himself. I've been saying recently that I'd like to find something nicer to do with it, and I'm very touched that he remembered and did something about it.
"Oh, Fiyero, it's perfect," I tell him, my smile growing as I wrap my arms around him again. "I love it."
"I'm glad." He cups my cheek with one hand and leans down to press his lips briefly to mine. We stay like that for a moment or two after we pull gently apart, neither of us speaking, just holding each other.
Finally I break the silence. "But you know, darling, you've already given me something even better than this."
"Oh, really? What would that be?" Fiyero wonders.
In response, I cuddle closer to him and brush a soft kiss against his cheek. "Yourself. Just being with you, having you hold me like this… this is the best birthday gift I can imagine."
He smiles and pulls me closer. "Elphaba, I'll be here with you to hold you as long as you're mine to hold."
"But Fiyero, you know I'll always be yours."
"So I'll always be here with you."
"I love you, Fiyero."
"And I love you."
Happy birthday to me, I think with a smile as he leans down to steal another kiss before heading outside to bring in more firewood. And for once, I discover to my surprise that it's true.
Review and make me a very happy birthday girl:D