Shadows

Frex paced his bedchamber, staring at the heavily carpeted floor rather than out the large widows. Outside, a luminous moon shone, but rather than being a comfort, this agitated the Governor more. Melena had always loved to watch the moon-rise.

Once he was sure the household was quiet, Frex left his room, carefully closing the door behind him. As he walked down the long corridor, he passed the suite he and Melena had once shared. No one slept there now, and everything in the room had been left as it was before her death. As if it were a museum... or a tomb, lacking only the body.

First, Frex went to the nursery to look in on the youngest member of the household. Nessarose was still so very small and frail that naturally the nanny kept a very close eye on her. But at this hour, both the servant and his precious lttle girl were sleeping. Though he had very little experience holding such a tiny child, Frex did his best to lift his weeks-old daughter into his arms without waking her.

Once she was cradled protectively in his arms. Frex studied Nessa's tiny features in the dim lamplight. He supposed it was just wishful thinking, but the girl already seemed to resemble her mother. This caused him to give his heart to the child more and more every day. Despite her infidelity several years ago, Frex had continued to love his wife... and did still. He knew he was to blame for the way her life had ended, and he would never forgive himself. Now, all he could do was give the love he had to his only daughter.

At this thought, Frex' expression darkened. He put Nessa carefully back into her crib and walked hesitantly to the room next door. This room was very much the opposite of the one he had just left. It was very dark, with no light burning ready to comfort the child that slept here should she awaken from a bad dream. Even the nanny often neglected to look in on Elphaba, but Frex never reprimanded her. He didn't see the point, as it would only make him seem like a hypocrite.

Indeed, he couldn't say what had drawn him here now. Even looking at the little green-skinned girl filled him with a kind of disgust most of the time. It wasn't so much what she looked like... how that had happened was a mystery to the Governor as much as anyone. How could he find it within himself to blame the girl for what she looked like? It wasn't as if she had chosen to be so different. More than that, in the brief time they had together, it was clear Melena had loved her elder daughter. They had spent a lot of time together, and even Frex had to admit that since her mother had died, Elphaba had been heartbroken.

Looking at her now, tossing restlessly in her sleep, Frex felt sudden sympathy... maybe something much closer to pity. He didn't move to pick the child up and comfort her; Since Melena had died, Elphaba had rarely sought comfort from anyone, and in fact withdrew from human contact more with each passing day. Nessarose alone received any affection from her sister. If only things were different... If only Elphaba were his child, these acts of kindness would have endeared Elphaba to him. As it was, he saw it more as enduring her... as she endured him. Even at three, she seemed to sense his entirely unspoken resentment toward her.

Frex hung his head in shame at these thoughts. It was no more Elphaba's fault who her father was than that she'd been born looking like she did. He knew he was being terribly unfair, that Elphaba too was a little girl who had just lost her mother. He knew he should try to love her, even if she was not his biological child, or else she may never have anyone who cared about her. No matter how he tried, the dark feelings in his heart would win out.

Suddenly, Frex turned on his heel and left the room. He did not look back, even as Elphaba awoke and began to cry. Quiet but wrenching tears shed for a mother whose face she was already starting to forget. But, there was one thing she did remember, one of the last things her mother had said to her. They had both been very afraid, knowing the new baby would soon arrive. With tears in her eyes, Melena had told Elphaba that if anything happened to her, if she had to go away, all Elphaba would have to do to feel better was wait for a night the moon was bright and full. "There I will be," she had said. 'High above, shining down on my beautiful girl.'

With these words ringing in her ears, Elphaba got up from her tiny bed and went to her window, fumbling for a moment before she was able to open the drapes wide. When she saw the silvery moon shining, Elphaba's tears stopped in an instant and she smiled, trusting that her mother could see it.