The first time he heard it, he was eight years old.
One summer day, he sat alone in the garden, contemplating all that had just passed. His face that normally held a deceptively angelic smile was now blank, no expression whatsoever residing there. Instead, he sat still as a statue, chin planted firmly on his little hand and staring listlessly of into the distance. He stayed like this for some time until he was discovered by his mother, who released a deep sigh of relief, as the whole palace staff had been in an uproar for the past hour upon discovering the young prince's disappearance.
As she watched him now, the queen's heart clenched. Going to him, she did not scold him as she had planned, but wrapped him in a tight embrace. He didn't move for several moments, still as stone, but she eventually felt his little arms come around her, clinging tightly to the fabric of her robes.
Oh, my precious boy. Her embrace tightened. You're much to young for this kind of pain.
He moved a moment later and his mother reluctantly released him, tipping his tear-stained face upward. "It's all right to cry, you know," she said softly. "It helps."
The boy shook his head. "Father wouldn't want me to. I'm the man of the family now." The next words were whispered. "I have to take care of you."
For a moment, her grief turned to anger. The boy was still very much a child-an extremely caring, confident eight-year old-but a child none the less. See what you've done, my love? He's much to young! How could you leave us like this?
Taking a moment to compose herself against the tears that threatened to fall, she released the boy, turning his to face her. "Listen to me, Fiyero." she said softly, "None of this is your fault. None of it and I never want to hear you say otherwise."
The young prince sighed. "I know that, Mama. It's just…" he paused, turning brilliant blue eyes on her, the same eyes she had gazed so lovingly for over a decade. "I don't want to disappoint him."
"Oh, my sweet boy," she whispered, gathering him to her again, something he would have normally fought her, being much to old for his mother's arms, but he did not fight her. Not today. "That would never be. Your father loved you so, so much. You could never disappoint him." Sighing, she said, "I couldn't have children; not easily anyway. Your father and I tried for years, but to no avail. Then, one day, I discovered I was pregnant, against all odds." She squeezed him tighter. "You are a miracle, Fiyero. You and your sister and brother; you're all my miracles. And we'll survive this." Pulling away she pressed a kiss to his forehead. "Somehow, we will."
"How?" His eyes were earnest. "I don't want to hurt anymore."
"Neither do I, love." Setting him down, she moved to take a seat next to him. "It will for a while, it always does, but the blue sky will come through soon enough."
His small face bunched. "Huh?"
Chuckling through her tears, she wrapped her arms around him again, unable to resist and just needing to touch him, she explained, leaning her had against his shoulder. "The blue sky. Think of a rainstorm. It's dark and loud; sometimes just downright scary. But it never lasts forever. Eventually, the sun comes out, the sky turns blue again and life moves on. It's something we can always count on, my son. A sign of hope for better things to come It may take hours, days, sometimes weeks or longer, but the sky always turns blue again.."
Fiyero glanced up at her. "I like blue skies. They're beautiful."
With a laugh, she hugged him again. "Yes, they are, Yero. So beautiful. And even though we're hurting now, Papa would want us to see the blue sky in this too. He wouldn't want us to be sad forever."
"I know," the prince responded softly, "I'm just glad he's not hurting anymore."
"Me too, sweetheart," the queen whispered softly. "And that's our comfort here. That's our blue sky."
Her son said nothing, only brought his gaze to the heavens above and said with a shaky smile, "I miss you, Papa…and I love you."
It was this simple conversation that he carried with him for many years to come. Even when his sorrow and the weight of his unwanted responsibility turned into a rebellion he could neither be pound of or explain, he never forgot the words he had shared with his mother that day, so many years ago.
In fact, in wasn't until fifteen years had passed that he dared to speak of it again. Once again, he found himself in a state of silence, but this time it was not of sorrow, but the greatest joy. Fear still lingered, but he would not allow it to dominate him. Instead, his arms held another woman, not his mother, but someone he loved even more. Smiling down at her, he could not resist stealing yet another kiss from the woman he had loved for as long as he could remember.
When he pulled away, her eyes still held all the wonder they had from the moment he had taken her hand in the throne room. Holding his gaze, she asked, "Why?"
He understood. "Because I couldn't deny what I felt for you anymore. You were what kept me going when all hope was gone. When everyone said I should quit, I saw your face in my mind and knew I could never stop until I was holding you like I am now." He kissed her again.
"You were my hope, Elphaba. You were my blue sky."