This was written for a fanfic challenge on Livejournal this past summer. Enough time has passed now that I think it's okay for me to post it here.

The request I got was: Book with smatterings of musical personalities. A sort of first-time meeting, like long time hidden crushes. Or general character and background story. Something fun, like viewpoints in the classroom, or at a ball.

I don't normally write bookverse, so I'm not sure how this came out. It's a little harsher and more cynical than I usually prefer, but it felt accurate given the tone of the book. Anyway, here it is. Thanks to Hatman, LadyShada, and Anna for betareading, and to rainedupon_ for the prompt :)

By Kaylle

She likes him.

It comes as a complete surprise to her, because he is so far removed from what she thinks of as attractive, as admirable in a person. He is confident and charming and handsome and irreverent. He does not care about his schoolwork, or the political climate of Oz, or the Wizard, or the Animals. He is so effortlessly, irrepressibly lighthearted that she cannot imagine what he does care about. There is such a vitality and joy in him that he fairly glows with it. And though she would like to dismiss him as a spoiled, silly rich boy, would like to roll her eyes at him and his antics, she finds herself smiling instead, amused rather than irritated.

She will be embarrassed, looking back, by how much time she spends watching him. In the classroom, at the canal, at the various social events and balls Galinda coaxed her into attending. Her eyes follow him of their own accord, fascinated by the easy grace in his movements and the careless joy that surrounds him. There has been so little sunlight in her world that it is impossible for her to disapprove of it now.

He is engaged to be married to some Vinkun girl selected for him when both were scarcely old enough to walk. But the knowledge of his eventual fate does not deter the girls of Shiz from setting their caps for him, and it does not stop him from flirting and dallying with them as he pleases. Galinda and Fiyero are quickly linked in Shiz gossip, and he seems happy to flirt harmlessly with her, to escort her to various functions, without letting things become too serious. There is no particular love lost between them, but Galinda benefits from being associated with a prince, and Fiyero has a graceful, polished woman on his arm at every ball and party.

As Galinda's roommate and best friend, Elphaba merits more attention than other girls, and Fiyero treats her with polite, almost shy kindness. He does not often seek her out, but when they meet at the canal or in the café he is happy to sit with her for an hour and watch the world go by.

Elphaba regards him and Galinda with a fierce loyalty. They are the only two people in the world, besides Nessa, who treat her as human, and for that she cares for them more deeply than she likes to admit.

And of course they are the people she misses the most, when she leaves that world behind.

When she sees him again he is almost a different person. Five years have matured him, aged him, stripped him of the aura of youthful perfection that surrounded him at Shiz. Gone is the careless boy she knew, and in his place is the Prince of the Arjiki tribe, wedded to his child-bride, tattooed with the marks of his rank and his people. He is polished in a way he had not been, but sobered as well. His charm is more practiced, less natural than she remembered. She should not be surprised to find him so changed, so sobered, for she knows the years have done much the same to her. But she misses the joyful boy he once was; there is still so little joy in her life that she finds herself mourning its passing.

Being associated with her is dangerous for him, and she tells him so, but he insists on returning time after time, and some weakness in her allows him to do so. She is drawn to him in a way she has never been to anyone else. She had forgotten how powerful that allure was, had forgotten that the quirk in his smile could spread a peculiar warmth through her body. He is no less enthralling now, as a man, than he had been as a child. She is fascinated by the delicate pattern of diamonds on his face and neck, exotic and striking.

She wonders, not for the first time, what it might be like to take him into her bed. She can scarcely imagine it, but the idea sends a shiver through her. She wonders what sort of lover he would be. Romantic and tender, with gentle touches and kind words she will not believe? Demanding, domineering, arrogant, wanting her vocal reassurance and submission as well as the physical? Cruel and harsh, taking pleasure from her lack of it?

She does not think he would be cruel, does not think he has cruelty in him, but she is aware that she does not really know him at all, this solemn stranger who speaks like an Emerald City gentleman in Fiyero's voice. And yet she remembers kindness in him at Shiz, remembers quiet moments by the canal and gentle, genuine smiles. She remembers a certain wistfulness in his voice when he spoke of his intended bride, of having no choice in selecting her and no affection lost between them. She suspects he misses that affection, mythical as it may be, between husband and wife. She suspects that he might wish to be tender as a lover, the way he could not be as a husband.

She wonders if she could learn to accept tenderness from him. It would not come naturally to her. It is not something she has ever known in a man-- not that she has known much of lovers, either. There would be no blood-- she is not so innocent as that-- and she wonders if he would make assumptions, come to the wrong conclusion. (Or, perhaps, to the right one: that one cannot live so close to a barracks without occasionally running afoul of a soldier.) But perhaps he would not notice at all. Perhaps he would be a selfish lover, oblivious to her beyond the initial moment of conquest and surrender. She suspects that she could learn to accept that from him, but the thought is strangely disappointing.

She puts those thoughts firmly aside, determined not to waste time on such idle, irrelevant speculation. And yet when he comes next to visit her she cannot help but picture it, cannot help but remember every theory and conclusion. He speaks idly of trivialities in the Emerald City, but she is distracted by the even, rich brown of his skin. She finds her eyes focused on the diamond painted in the hollow of his throat. She wonders what it might be like to press her mouth to that place. Wonders if she would be able to taste the ink on his skin, taste the blood and pain that mark had cost him. Wonders what he might be able to taste on her skin, if it came to that.

He notices that she is not listening, and he offers her a smirk. "Am I that uninteresting?"

She feels herself flush, and the sick embarrassment of it makes her flush all the more. To be caught staring like a schoolgirl! She is ashamed of herself, so entranced and affected by a man. He is a poor influence on her. She has more important things to think of. Why does he insist on coming here, to disrupt her routine and dishevel her thoughts? She snaps at him to hide her embarrassment and tells him not to come again. He shakes his head-- a bit wearily, for this is not a new argument for them-- and gathers his things to go.

When he is gone she closes her eyes and licks her lips, wishing she had kissed the diamond after all. She hopes he will come again soon.