The Jasper Gates of Kiamo Ko
Disclaimer: I don't own the fandom!
A/N: ElphSar sounds like a badly named gnome, Elphima sounds like a disease. So, I call it ForgivenessShipping.
The Solar's curtains were flung wide open, and gorgeous gold beams of sunlight fell majestically over the carpet. On Elphaba they were dulled; the verdant skin seemed to absorb their brilliance and gleam back at the sun cheekily.
It was a pity, Sarima reflected, that the same quality of cheekiness wasn't at all evident in the woman she was entertaining. Elphaba certainly was impertinent—but cheeky? Hmm. The Dowager Princess could only hope there were yet layers of this onion to peel away. She suspected that there were, in fact, many layers left.
Suddenly, she was irritated.
"Well, Auntie Guest, what delightful conversation will you make today?"
"Oh, no more pitter patter over the weather, I might die of boredom. Two has talked of nothing but the sunshine all week."
Elphaba felt the same searing irritation Sarima was experiencing. Infuriating woman, she thought, didn't she understand? There was nothing, nothing Elphaba could say or speak of without first shedding her guilt. She'd come to the jasper gates of Kiamo Ko absolve herself of sin, but found the priest behind the confessional lattice quite unwilling to listen.
"Alright then," the Witch said, "of Liir, and that Manek of yours—"
"Not the children either, Three wouldn't shut up about how Irji hasn't got a backbone…"
"You pick a topic then, you insufferable creature, since everything I've got to say is so tiresome!"
"Auntie Guest!" Sarima cried in scandalized tones, putting down her tea cup. Injured dignity was only in her voice and her words; her dark eyes shone joyously. She liked goading Elphaba into her thorny self; she liked the rude brashness of the Witch.
She was the first person to like Elphaba for herself, maybe.
The green skinned anomaly shook herself. Fiyero loved you more, she thought sternly, and then told herself off for putting that 'more' in—Sarima didn't love her at all, she merely enjoyed her company. And then she told herself off again for thinking of Fiyero at all: poor Fiyero, dead Fiyero, Fiyero with his stupid wife whose prerogative wouldn't allow Elphaba the small comfort of forgiveness.
Sarima coughed into the tea cup she'd picked up again. "Well then, let's hear about the Emerald City," she smiled.
Elphaba twitched. "Again?"
Sarima nodded, closing her eyes. In her mind's eye, blearily, she imagined the city as Elphaba detailed it. The Witch rushed through the small things, only pausing to elaborate when the Dowager pried with questions. The widow saw it: the place where her beloved husband had breathed his last.
"And, Sarima, there is one more thing about the City I should add," Elphaba said quickly before any prerogative could stop her, "I was there the night Fiyero—"
Sarima's finger was on her lips. The widow's eyes were fierce. "Don't," she hissed, "Don't do it; stop talking; don't force that information upon me. I've told you before—don't!"
Elphaba, however, wasn't listening. She was going cross eyed trying to look at the digit the Dowager Princess had placed on her lips, cross eyed and heavy hearted.
"Auntie Guest," Sarima said quietly, "Look at me."
Their gazes met. Two grown women sitting in a Solar, bound by the death of one man they'd both loved. And that was how it happened—both of them aching for him, and both of them aching for each other without even realizing it.
Elphaba and Sarima, the two widows of Fiyero.
"…and the Wizard imposed these sick Banns on Animals, so they're treated like…like some sort of sub human garbage! It's disgusting, it's disgraceful—"
"It is the wicked way of man," Sarima said sternly, "And just who do you think you are to fight it?"
Elphaba threw her a scathing look, but she was not cowed as the Witch retorted, "I'm a woman who gives a damn. I'm a woman who's not content with children and a castle and backbiting sisters!"
"Ah," Sarima smiled triumphantly, "But you are a woman. You have no place in the world of men."
Elphaba looked as though she'd been slapped. "How can you say that?" she demanded, "How can you sit there and act as if men are the only ones worthy to make decisions when the decisions they make affect our lives so profoundly?"
"They're not the only worthy ones," Sarima protested, "But they're different from us: you can't argue with that. They can't work in the background like women. A man in power is a good public figure, but it's women who really pull the strings. Men are in power because they're no good anywhere else."
The Witch mulled it over tentatively, thinking of Madame Morrible. Then the spark of spunk returned to her eyes with a vengeance. "I for one am not the kind of woman who can function behind the scenes," she snapped, "Maybe I'm part male!"
"Nonsense. I've seen all of you; you're entirely female."
The random reference to their intimacy compelled Elphaba to look up into Sarima's eyes in pure astonishment. The dowager held her gaze gamely with a coy twinkle in her eyes, and it was Elphaba who blushed and looked away first. "I didn't…I meant mentally…in my head," the Witch muttered.
Sarima nodded somberly, getting up and moving over to her companion. "You do have a lot more hot anger than needed, Auntie Guest," she murmured, sliding onto the other woman's lap. Elphaba pressed her thin lips to Sarima's plump ones, her hand on the widow's thickening waist. The craving for forgiveness gave way to a different craving, one that was satisfied shortly thereafter.
The Solar was their meeting place, where friendship fell apart into…into what? Elphaba didn't dare use the word love. But this was more than lust, somehow. It felt like an evolved form of lust, a Lust, if such a thing were possible. Pure, because they were both women. With a twinge of horror she wondered if she was becoming like Madame Morrible, loathing of men, looking down on them.
"Tell me about Galinda," Sarima whispered. The lady of the house lay draped over her funny green jumping bean on the divan, naked. A coverlet separated their bodies, and their fingers were intertwined.
Elphaba stiffened. "She's not the one," she said, "Fiyero never slept with her, that was—"
For one wild, wonderful moment, Elphaba thought Sarima had understood and accepted the truth at last. She quickly realized the contrary: Sarima was asking if she and Galinda had ever…
"No," Elphaba said softly, and then again, with more assurance, "No. She was my best friend, but that's all she ever was. Not to say, of course, that being my best friend meant nothing. It meant…a lot…"
"Is she better looking than me?"
A fiery sense of protective indignation swept through the Witch. "Sarima, don't be stupid. She's better looking than most of the women in the world, but that doesn't mean Fiyero ran after her, and I certainly never did—oh," she finished, having looked into Sarima's eyes. The wry light of teasing mischief fluttered there.
"Don't do that," Elphaba said crossly, "We're too old for games like that, you and I."
Sarima laughed, and bit down on the Witch's pointed chin. "Not at heart, darling. Not at heart."
Sarima was vapid and broken in Elphaba's arms. "Manek," she said to the winter air as though the name would summon her second son back to her, "Manek."
"Manek's gone, Sarima," Elphaba said steadily, "He's dead."
The dowager princess sighed. "Dead, my poor son, just like dear Fiyero."
A chill ran down Elphaba's back. The iron grip of guilt tightened around her heart. "Sarima," she said urgently, "Sarima, about them, about me, I have to tell you—"
But the Arjiki queen was suddenly more substantial in her arms. "No," she said, "No. I said no, I don't want to hear it."
And Elphaba, trapped as her guest and lover, could not disobey. It was, after all, her prerogative.
Sarima softened again, leaning into the Witch. "I'm very fond of you," she admitted, "Maybe more fond than I ever was of Fiyero. He was a handsome man, and a good husband, and I loved him…but you. You're," she laughed charmingly, "You're something else."
Elphaba faked a smile and held Sarima close. Truth be told, she was very fond of Sarima as well. Very, very fond. In fact, she might be falling in love with the woman—but no, she couldn't. It would rip her apart, already her conscience was buckling from the weight of betraying Fiyero and not telling Sarima the truth. If she fell in love…
It couldn't happen.
It seemed unbelievable that no one knew what went on in the solar. Both Sarima and Elphaba were relatively silent lovers, but Elphaba marveled nonetheless, or maybe all the more. Could the spinsters of Kiamo Ko not feel the electricity between their oldest sister and their house guest? Could the children not see how their mother glowed whenever Auntie Witch entered the room?
Perhaps they could, Elphaba mused, perhaps the sisters could see but turned a blind eye in the hope that if the Witch stepped into Fiyero's shoes, they would at last be free to wed.
She slid her fingers over Sarima's pale skin as the Dowager slept, entranced by its smoothness.
Stepping into Fiyero's shoes. What did that mean? She suspected she'd already stepped in without realizing what she was doing. The tribesmen feared her, so they feared and respected Kiamo Ko as if it was a true blood prince reigning in there instead of a wicked witch. She was a…what? What was she to Sarima? Well, she was loathe to use the word husband, but hosted a sneaking suspicion that in a perverse way, that was what she was.
So be it then, she was a husband.
And that left the children. Was she a mother to the children? The Witch burst into laughter, waking the napping Sarima abruptly.
"What, what is it, what's happened?" the widow asked. Elphaba felt a twinge of guilt and wrapped herself around the drowsy woman.
"Nothing," she assured her, "Nothing; go back to sleep."
Sarima smiled up sleepily at her. "Elphaba, my…" the sentence was left unfinished as sleep claimed her, and Elphaba her … felt her heart melt as painfully and completely as if she'd thrown a bucket of water on it.
"The girls are trying to get me together with that Commander Cherrystone," Sarima said conversationally. Her keen eyes watched Elphaba for signs of possessiveness, maybe even jealousy. The Witch gave a grim nod. "I know. They came to me looking for a love potion."
The mistress of Kiamo Ko laughed, delighted. "And what did you tell them?"
A shadow of a smile settled on Elphaba's lips. "I told them to jump off a cliff, because their sister belonged to me and I wasn't interested in sharing."
Sarima put a reproving finger to her lips in mock shock. "Auntie guest! Now really, such bold behavior won't do at all!"
Elphaba surged out of her chair and pulled Sarima into a bony hug. "I'd like to see you stop me," she said and kissed the smaller woman. Sarima snuggled her warmly, hands resting on Elphaba's buttocks.
"I won't ever stop you from doing anything, you know that," she hummed. But Elphaba scoffed bitterly. "You always stop me from doing the one thing I really want to do."
"Tying me up, is that it?"
"Telling you the truth!"
Sarima rolled her eyes. "Oh, is that it. Well that's different, dearie, though I couldn't tell you why."
The Witch shook her head and accepted Sarima's kisses. "I can't believe you. Don't you suffer from any sort of curiosity?"
"I'm too dim to be curious," Sarima whispered, "I'm just a country mouse that's found something fascinating in her life, and she doesn't want it to end."
Elphaba felt her heart melting again, and tried to fight it. "Everything ends, Sarima."
"Yes, but not now. Hush, let me kiss you."
The trip she took to Colwen Grounds may not have gone as planned, but as Elphaba flew back to Kiamo Ko she imagined her next conversation with Sarima. She remembered Nessie teasing her about having some native man in a teepee and how tempted she'd been to blurt out that it was a woman, a self proclaimed Dowager Princess of Duckshit that she was actually romancing. Sarima would like that.
The two week trip seemed to drag on as she dwelled more and more on Fiyero's widow. She rued not telling Sarima where she was going. She gathered a few trinkets to give her as a means of apology when she got home. Just small things—a glass flower, a pretty shawl, a pair of comfortable slippers. She vowed to be more attentive, to be more mellow. She revised a hundred times in her head the perfect kiss to bestow on Sarima when they were reunited as lovers in the Solar.
The Witch flew through the night and slept through the day, profoundly grateful for the first time that Sarima had withheld her forgiveness and thus bound Elphie to her.
Gone. The word haunted Elphaba and whined in her ears. The sisters, the children and Sarima. Gone.
The world seemed far crueler than it had ever seemed before; cruel and cutting and determined to wrench every last scrap of happiness away from Elphaba's life. She thought of Sarima, her ameliorative laughter, her buoyant smile. Gone.
And Elphie had never even said goodbye.
Written mostly on my phone. Nyahhahah.