First of all, Happy belated New Year to all of you! I apologize for the wait in this. First the holidays, then a cold decided to get the better of me, so that is why it took so long. I know most of you aren't looking forward to this one, but I hope the bit of fluff makes up for it...:)

7. Parting Kiss

Fiyero had always been a light sleeper.

From the time he was small, the slightest movement or the quietest murmur could rouse him from the deepest sleep in record time. When he was young, his parents would send him to his room only after everyone else in the house had retired for fear of him awakening, for once he did, it was near impossible for him to return to the call of slumber.

Perhaps even more peculiar was his preference for temperature

In truth, most people loved nothing more than a nice warm bed in which to snuggle deeply and lose themselves in dreams.

He tended to favor a cooler alternative.

Much to the shock-and chagrin- of his parents, the prince had spent the greater part of his adolescence with his windows thrown open during the night. Of course he closed them in the winter. He wasn't a complete moron

The rest of the year, however, the cool night air had brought him a strange sort of comfort. In the spring, the scent of rain could be smelt on the wind and in the summer the occasional cool breeze that would enter his room would offer a sweet relief from the oppressive Vinkun heat.

While both of these times were pleasant, neither could compare to autumn.

Though it did prove to be the coolest of the seasons, save winter, the autumn draft was by far his favorite. It was this time of year that he could curl up in his worn sweatshirt (this proved to be quite a paradox to his parents, but what could they say?) and inhale the slightly spiciness that seemed to be threaded throughout the atmosphere.

Perhaps the fact that it was currently autumn was the reason he had so easily fallen asleep upon the forest floor. The cool temperature of the air coupled with the slight moisture that had happened to seep through Elphaba's cloak made for an easy transition

And yet, strangely enough, it was the cold that woke him.

He stirred softly, faintly aware of the stray beams of light offered by the moon that invaded his eyes as he cracked them open, Lifting his head slightly, the prince squinted in the darkness for any trace of possible danger, his heart returning to it's normal pace upon the realization that they were still alone.

A tower clock sounded in the distance, detectable even within the density of the forest, and Fiyero rested his head against his arm as he counted the chimes.

One…two…three…four in the morning….

The kiss of cool night air caused a small series of goose bumps to grace his skin and he shivered slightly. Funny, but in all of his years of life, he could never recall having had goose bumps.

Perhaps it was the exhilaration of recent events.

Perhaps it was the fear of what could be.

Perhaps it was simply the cool temperature.

Perhaps it was the fact that he had never known such a warmth to compare to the cold.

Elphaba lay asleep against his chest, sated and spent. The only areas that were free from the chill were those where their bodies met.

Releashing a long breath, Fiyero propped himself up on one elbow to study her. The oil from their lantern had long since burned dry and yet he could see her. Every mussed strand of ebony hair, every stitch in her makeshift gown that she still wore, every twitch of her full lips. He could see it all.

She lay against his bare chest, still clothed in her simple dress. He thought it better to save some garments, lest they be ambushed in the haze of their passion, but the gown now hung from her shoulders, disheveled slightly from his eager hands. Her arm was thrown carelessly around his waist, holding him to her in a surprisingly strong grasp and her right leg was tangled within his.

This had to be a dream. How could something so right, so perfect. How could this possibly be real?

How many times had he dreamed this? This surreal fantasy in which she was his and his alone. How many times had he dreamed of what it would be like to hold her in his arms, to kiss her with the passion that he knew she possessed. To love her with the same passion. To be loved by her in return.

How many times had he allowed himself to imagine her lying in his arms, lips twisted into a knowing smile as she slept. How long as he yearned to hear her cry out his name as he made her his for all eternity. How many times had he awaken from this very reverie, drenched in a cold sweat, only to find himself alone. Too long he had been tortured by this cruel apparition. If this too turned out to be only a dream, it might be his undoing.

Elphaba tightened her arm around his midsection and let out a contented sigh and Fiyero felt his heart flutter within his chest.

This was no dream.

In his mind he replayed every detail of the previous night. Every desperate gasp, every fevered kiss, every frantic grasp, and every smoldering touch was his to remember, his to treasure.

Oz knew, he would do just that for the rest of his life.

The green girl stirred slightly, and for a moment, the prince feared he had woken her. Despite their knowledge of the potential danger that could be upon them at any time, Fiyero was concern for her well-being. She had looked so haggard, so worn, and in his excitement, he had never stopped to consider that she might need rest.

His fears were quickly alleviated when she simply pulled him closer and snuggled down in his arms.

Following her lead, Fiyero lay back down beside her, pulling her into the circle of his arms and resting his head against her crown of raven hair. Allowing his eyes to slip shut, the Prince released a sigh and tightened his arms around her slender frame. To remain like this, his precious Fae sleeping contentedly in his arms, allowing him to simply hold her as he pleased.

To live like this would be his paradise.

Unbidden thoughts of his past chose that moment to enter his mind and a lump forced in this throat at the unwelcome memories. It was common knowledge that he was far from innocent. After all, his reputation had preceded him to Shiz long before he ever set foot on the campus. The mere bodies he had used to dull life's pain when the drink was simply not enough. How many times had he turned in that direction in his youth? His parents had always warned him that it would catch up to him one day, but he never seemed to care. He lived for the moment and nothing more.

How he wished he had listened to them.

What he wouldn't give to take back time and give himself to Elphaba as she had given herself to him. Pure, complete, fully his. In the back of his mind, his conscience told him that he should have waited until they were safe, until she was his in the full sense, in the eyes of the Unnamed God and man. And he swore the next time they drank their fill of one another, they would be.

Shaking his head, he released another sigh. What he would give to have her as his wife. He wanted nothing more. The only question was, did she wish the same? She had sworn one day that she would never allow herself to be possessed by any man. She would never be owned, she said. Never be claimed.

And yet…

To be married to Elphaba, to claim her as his own to love for all eternity, to build a family and a life together.

It was all he could ever hope for.

As he looked down upon her sleeping form, a smile tugged at the corners of his lips. What harm could it do to ask? The worst she could do was refuse him?

And that, he realized, was perhaps what he feared the most.

She began to stir once more in his arms, shifting her body slightly so that her head was now on his shoulder. Fiyero simply watched her, perfectly happy to see her rouse form her sleep.

Perhaps then, it was not all a dream

She was being watched.

Even through the haze of her sleep, Elphaba could feel a set of eyes following her every movement, even those as small as shifting of a hand or the rise and fall of a breath.

Her first instinct was to strike out openly. Before they had the chance to harm her.

As she came out of her fog of sleep, however, it all came back to her.


Oh, Sweet Oz, what had she done? Resisting the urge to slap her hands over her face, the green girl let out a silent groan and wished the earth would simply swallow her on the spot. She had betrayed her best friend in the worst possible way. As if running off with her fiancé wasn't enough, she had let the moonlight get the better of her and, in the heat of the moment, forgotten everything but the two of them.

You have nothing to feel guilty about. Fiyero chose you. You know he never would have been truly happy with Glinda. He chose you. He wanted you.

Even as her mind confirmed it, she still had trouble believing it.

"Elphaba?" She opened her eyes to find herself staring into his intense sapphire ones. "Are you cold?"

"Fiyero…" His name was a whisper as she attempted to raise her head. "What time is it?"

He chuckled as he pressed a kiss to her hair. "Just after four in the morning. It seems we've slept longer than planned."

She cursed. "Something I didn't want to do."

He gave her a lopsided grin. "Well, technically, we weren't sleeping the whole time."

She felt the heat rush to her face at his comment and she quickly looked away. Still, she was powerless to stop the smile that was creeping up her face. Did this really happen? Was she certain this was not just one of her many dreams?

As she turned to look at him once more, she knew without a doubt.

This was no dream.

Last night had been something out of a fantasy. For the first time, she had felt wanted, loved. In Fiyero's arms, she wasn't the Wicked Witch of the West, feared by all Oz. In his arms, she was merely Elphaba. A woman that was perfectly content to lose herself in the arms of the man that she…

…that she loved.

And that, beyond all things comprehendible, loved her.

He loves me.

That knowledge was enough to last a lifetime.

Though every muscle in her body protested, she managed to sit up, rubbing her eyes in an attempt to clear them of drowsiness. She felt Fiyero's hand on her back as he tenderly rubbed it, coaxing her to return to the world of the living.

He offered her a smile when she met his gaze. "Are you cold?"

She returned the sentiment and shook her head. "No." Squinting, she could see the sun rising in the distance. "Don't you think we should be going?"

"Are you sure you're rested?" he asked as he replaced a stray strand of hair behind her ear. "You seemed so tired last night and I never thought to ask you."

Elphaba smiled at that, touched by the concern in his voice. "I'm fine. As much as I would love to stay here with you all day, it may be best if we went on our way."

His gaze still conveyed his uncertainty, but he did as she asked and bent to retrieve his shirt that had been discarded in the height of their passion. Shrugging it on, he made quick work of the buttons, moving to help Elphaba with her own dress when he had finished. She smiled her thanks and let out a deep sigh as he bent to retrieve the lantern.

Something about that sigh made him turn. "What is it, Fae?"

Her voice was quiet. "I just wish…"

Lantern forgotten, Fiyero was at her side in a heartbeat, an arm wrapping around her shoulders. "What?"

She met his gaze for a moment, then looked away. "I just wish I could be beautiful for you…"

Fiyero repressed the urge to shake her until she believed him. Couldn't she see? "Elphaba…"

"Don't, Fiyero!" She jerked out of his hold. "Don't tell me that I am," her voice was soft as she spoke. "You don't have to lie to me."

"I'm not lying!" Even as he spoke, he knew it sounded weak. You're not beautiful…you're breathtaking! Knowing she would never believe him, he turned her face to him and framed it as though he were taking a photograph. "It's looking at things another way."

She looked down. "I don't believe you."

"Read my lips," he murmured as he drew to him and kissed her softly. It was chaste, but to him it might as well been fireworks. "Marry me," he whispered against her mouth.

She drew back in surprise. 'What?"

He said it again, "Marry me. Become my wife. Elphaba, nothing would make me happier."

She shook her head. "I can't"

"Why not?" He wasn't going to let her go without a fight.

He green girl was quiet for a moment. It wasn't that she didn't want to marry him. To be honest, if was anyone whom would make her repeal to vow to remain single, it would be him. The very knowledge that he wanted her in that way was nearly too much and she cursed herself as tears filled her eyes. "It's too dangerous. I won't subject you to that life"

His eyes bored into hers. "What if I want to be subjected to it? Fae, can't you see? My life is nothing without you. When will you realize that what I have in my hands now is all I'll ever want."

His words melted her heart. How she longed to just forget what lay ahead and jump in feet first. But something inside wouldn't let her. "I won't do it, Fiyero. Not until I know we're safe."

"I can live with that." He drew her to him and rested his head on top of hers. "When we're safe? Then will you marry me?"

Elphaba sighed against him, wondering how in the world he was able to sway her in the simplest of way. "Yes, Yero," She breathed, "When we're safe, I will marry you."

She felt him chuckle. "There now. That wasn't so hard, was it?"

The green girl drew back to slant a glare in his direction, but her expression quickly fell as her ears picked up on a sound in the distance.

Fiyero sensed her unease and asked once more, "What is it?"

"Listen," Her voice was quiet. "Do you hear that? It sounds like someone is in pain."

The Prince strained, but heard nothing. "What do you mean?"

Elphaba craned her neck to hear better, this time a distinct scream of a woman that sounded familiar….."Oh, Sweet oz, no!"

Beside her, Fiyero pleaded to help him understand. "Fae, what is it? What's wrong?"

She turned on him then. "It doesn't make any sense. There's a house flying through the sky, but…It's Nessa," she whispered. 'She's in trouble."

"What? How could you possibly know that?"

She shook her head. "I don't know. I just do." She stood and frantically searched for her broom. "I have to go to her."

Fiyero was on his feet in an instant. "I'm coming with you."

"No!" She grasped his arms as he attempted to climb on the broom. "Fiyero, no! You mustn't. It's far to dangerous!"

He knew arguing with her would be fruitless, so he provided the only other thing he could. "Elphaba, Listen to me, listen! My family has a castle in Kiamo Ko. Now, no one is ever there except for the sentries who watch over it. We've never lived there."

"Where do you live?"

'The other castle."


He shook his head. "Listen to me. It's the perfect hiding place; tunnels, secret passageways." He pulled her to him. "You'll be safe there"

She held him tightly. "We will see each other again?"

"Elphaba…" he murmured into her hair. "Of course. You can see houses flying through the sky. Can't you see that as well?"

She smiled weakly up at him, but said nothing.

He knew that if he continued to stand there gazing into those dark eyes, he would never be able to let her go. Quickly pulling her against him, he kissed her fiercely one last time. "I love you," he whispered. "Now go."

She did as he commanded, knowing that if she looked back, she would lose all resolve. His parting words rang through her mind.

I love you was all he had said.

But in those three words lay eternity.

Button missed you. Did you miss him??