Pastoria fidgeted nervously as the swarm of girls flitted around him, offering a place to sit down, a cool drink, their apologies that their mistress was unable to receive him at the moment, as she was in the middle of a lengthy enchantment that could not be interrupted. Pastoria had few women in his life. So much femininity cowed him. He pulled nervously at his sleeves and twisted at the hem of his shirt, accepted the seat, no, he wasn't thirsty, and could she be told that he was here?
Luckily for him, there were a few among the girls who knew the true nature of their mistress's confinement, and they quickly appeared and whisked him discreetly away. He waited gratefully as they opened the tall doors for him.
The room they led him into was quiet, as befitted a woman so recently come from childbed. Tall windows lined one side: he blinked to adjust himself to the light, looking around until his gaze fell upon-
He stopped short, catching his breath, watched as she raised her head, shaking red hair back, and smiled at him. He went to her side, and she freed a hand from holding the child in her arms and held it out to him. He kissed her fingers lightly, his eyes never leaving her face. "How are you?"
She laughed at him. "How do you think? I've been better, and yet I never have." She looked down to the baby, then back to him, and he grinned at her.
"I think I know what you mean." Something in him snapped, and he stopped being a king and started being a man, and bent to kiss the woman on the forehead. "Glinda, my love, I was so worried."
"You shouldn't have been," she told him. "I'm fine, Pastoria."
"And the child?"
"A girl," she told him. "Our daughter."
He reached out and she gave him the child, and he held her- a strange heavy weight, for one so small. For a moment he couldn't speak. "She's so tiny," he said in wonder. And then, after a moment, quietly: "She's beautiful."
"She is," said Glinda, with a smile. "Look, she looks like you."
Pastoria couldn't help but smile back, looking from his daughter to his lover. He sat down on the edge of the bed. "What will we call her?"
He turned in surprise. "The old name?"
Glinda nodded, her face now troubled, and reached out to take her daughter back. She held the baby close for a moment, then looked up. "She will be as the Ozmas of old," she said. "Pastoria, she is not only our daughter. She is a sort of changeling, a fey child."
He stared incredulously. "You're saying that my daughter is a fairy?"
"Yes." She sighed. "Yesterday I had a dream, only it wasn't a dream- I knew I was awake and yet I was nowhere in Oz. And Lurlina herself came to me, Pastoria, and she told me that the child I would bear would be the kindest, greatest ruler Oz had ever seen, and that she would carry the legacy of the fairy queen herself. And she said that I must name the child Ozma. And that-" She paused, then sighed again, unhappily. "And that I too would be given immortality so I could aid her as she needed."
Pastoria, shocked, reached out to touch the little girl's face. Suddenly he looked up at Glinda. "Just you?"
"I'm afraid so, my love. I asked her about you, but she wouldn't answer."
"And- Ozma. She'll be a child forever."
"Once she reaches eleven, yes."
"I'll stay as I am."
"And I-" Pastoria looked up and checked himself. "I'm sorry, my love, I shouldn't. Today should be a happy day." He slid his arm around her shoulders and she leaned into him, and they both looked down at their daughter. Finally, Glinda sighed.
"You know that nobody can know she's ours. Or mine, at least."
His arm tightened. "I know."
Glinda twisted to look up at him, her face anguished. "I don't want to lose her. I don't want to lose either of you."
She looked so completely broken that he leaned forwards and kissed her forehead again, taking her face between both hands. "Glinda, my darling, listen to me. Nobody is going to take Ozma from you if you say no. And I'm not going anywhere anytime soon. All right?"
He smiled at her. Then he said, abruptly, "We can't just call her that, though."
"What, Ozma? But we have to-"
He shook his head. "That's not what I meant. It's risky," he said shortly. "Counting our chickens. I know, I know, but- I feel like she should have a name that's not a title."
"Like…" Pastoria thought about it. "Like Tippetarius."
"It's not that bad," he defended, and she smiled.
"It isn't. All right. You're right, I like it."
Pastoria nodded, looked at the girl. "Well, Ozma Tippetarius." He sighed wearily. "What shall we do with you?"
"Let me keep her with me," said Glinda, quickly, almost pleading.
"Of course," he assured her. "Of course."
"Thank you," she said softly.
"In all respects she should be in the Emerald City," Glinda explained, surprised that he would ask. "Pastoria, she's a princess, she's the heir to the throne of Oz."
Pastoria looked tenderly at her. He reached out and smoothed Glinda's hair, then let his hand drop to touch the baby's face, gently. "True as that may be, she's our daughter too. And that comes first."
Glinda nodded her understanding, unable to speak, and leaned back into him.
"But Glinda-" He didn't want to say it. "You know it can't be forever."
Glinda nodded again and shut her eyes. "Six months," she said finally. "Let me have six months."
"That's not very long…"
"Any longer, and she'll remember too much of me."
"Oh, Glinda." He saw her bend her head, and once again she freed a hand, but this was to wipe away tears.
"I'll see her. She just won't-" Her voice cracked. "Pastoria, she can't know- she'll never know- that I'm her mother. Oh, sweet Oz…"
There was nothing he could say to comfort her. She turned her head and buried her face against his shoulder, and he held her tighter, feeling each shake of her shoulders as a jar to his heart.
Finally she pulled away from him. "I don't know how much longer we have together either," she said, and with a sense of dread he realized that she was right.
"I'll come back," he promised her.
"Two weeks. Say I didn't have the answers you needed. Say I had to finish the spell. But come back to me."
"I will. Always." A new thought came to his mind. "People will wonder if I suddenly bring a child into the palace and call her my daughter."
"I can make it so they don't," she told him.
"Oh, my love." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "You're doing so much for her-"
"She is my daughter," the Sorceress interrupted fiercely.
"- and I can't possibly imagine how hard it must be for you."
Glinda looked up at him, pained. "I'm losing my daughter, I'm losing you. Piece by piece I'm losing everything I care about. I don't know how I'll get on without either of you."
He bent his head and laid it against her shoulder. "Had I any say in this," he whispered, "none of that would happen. I would never leave you, Ozma would never have to. We'd be a family…"
"A family," she echoed, the forbidden word finally out.
"Sweet Oz," he said wearily, "you've no idea how much I wish it were that simple."
"I think I do, my dear," she said quietly. "I think I do."
So close to her still, he felt, rather than heard, her yawn, and made to let her go. But she clutched at his arm.
"What is it?"
His lover looked, all at once, terrified, weary, happy, lost. "Don't go yet."
Pastoria pulled away from her and looked her in the face. Then he wrapped his arms tightly around her, bent his head and kissed her red hair. "I won't leave you," he promised her. "I know I have to," he amended, at her look, "but believe me, it won't be by any choice of mine."
Later, when a pair of the girls returned to fetch him back, they found their mistress asleep and their king pacing the length of the windows, the child cradled in his arms. He looked up at them plaintively: must I? and they nodded back, apologetic: I'm sorry, your majesty. He sighed, then nodded. One of the girls came forward to take the baby from him. He went back to the bed, careful not to wake the Sorceress as he placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. Then, with one last backwards glance, he followed the remaining girl out of the room.
Disclaimers: these characters belong to L. Frank Baum (or whoever it is that holds the copyright- is it his family, or the publishers, or who?), as does Oz in general.
I was wondering why it is that Glinda's always so willing to help Ozma and her friends, and how it is that she stays young forever, too, and this story is what came of that. I know the whole thing's a bit Oz-defying and out of context, and I'm sorry if any of my details are off (I'm more used to Wicked than I am to the original Oz books, and I don't remember them all that well). If they are, feel free to point it out. And please review. Thanks.