I'm back! Everything is mental - two shows going on at once. Currently playing Jennyanydots in Cats and Kate in Avenue Q, so this is just a little filler chapter to get me on my way again. I promise, it will get more exciting! Please read and review, and enjoy! x
"How's the patient?" Elphaba asked, closing the door to the annex quietly behind her. Doctor Dillamond looked up from his papers, smiling at his young protégée.
"He's looking a little better. The infection is leaving his wounds – I think he may finally be out of the woods," the Doctor said, nodding towards the curtained off area where his patient slept. A wave of relief swept over Elphaba at the news that her new project would live.
"Thank Oz for that. Mother sent me over with some mushroom soup. She said it always makes her feel better."
"Ah, Melena has always known her remedies! Pop your head around the curtain and see if he is awake then you can help him with it," Dillamond instructed, waving a hoof then returning to his paperwork.
Silent as a mouse, Elphaba crossed the room and peaked cautiously around the curtain. Yero was sitting up, staring out of the wide window with a faraway look in his eyes.
"Good morning, Yero," the green girl murmured, reluctant to break him out of his reverie. The boy jumped, startled, then clutched at the bandage on his abdomen.
"You scared me!" he replied, gingerly settling himself back into a more relaxed position.
"I have a habit of doing that to you. Better be careful, next one might be fatal," Elphaba replied stiffly, depositing the soup on the bedside table and producing a spoon from her cardigan pocket like it was an implement of torture. Yero chuckled.
"You look like you're going to stab me with that thing. I think I'm capable of feeding myself now, you know," he said, smiling in an attempt to make up for offending his young carer.
"I haven't ruled it out." Elphaba scooped up a spoonful and held it out, and soon Yero had cleared the bowl.
"So, what's going to happen to me when I'm better? Are your parents going to send me away?" he asked quietly, playing with a loose thread on his coverlet. Elphaba frowned and wrinkled her long nose, shrugging.
"I shouldn't think so… I expect they'll keep you on, if you don't mind working for your keep," she replied, dropping the spoon into the bowl with a clatter and sitting back in her chair, knitting her limbs together in thought. "Is there anything you can do? Farm? Groom horses?"
Yero thought for a moment, then rolled his eyes. "I don't know. I can't remember what I did before. I could have been a prince and I wouldn't know. I don't mind working, though."
"Well, once you're better we'll see what you can do. Maybe by then your memory will have started to come back and you can-" Elphaba stopped, realising there was no way the boy could return home.
The news from the Vinkus was not good. The rebels had taken hold of the small wealth of the state and were press-ganging citizens, including children and young as eight into joining their army, which they proclaimed would soon storm and seize the Emerald City. There had been rumblings in outlying areas (brought to Munchkinland by some of the braver traders) that one of the royal children had survived – one of the princesses. The rebels were offering a handsome reward to whoever captured her and delivered her body to them. Elphaba only knew all of this because she had keen ears, which were good at eavesdropping on her mother's office which was conveniently situated next to her favourite haunt – the library. Her parents would hate for her to know about the atrocities, so she made the executive decision not to impart what she knew to Yero.
"Yes, as I was saying. Your memory will come back and you can decide what it is you want to do to earn your keep. Is there anything you'd like me to bring you from the main house?" she asked, doing her best to smile kindly.
"Someone has been playing music. And singing – they've been singing too. Could you just ask them to open the window wider when they do it, so I can listen? I love music, that's pretty much all I remember. And can you ask Doctor Dillamond to open mine too when he hears it?" the boy asked shyly, obviously embarrassed at this simple request. Elphaba, however, found a genuinely warm smile spreading across her usually serious face.
"Of course you can. And then, when you can sit in a wheelchair, you can come over to the main house and sit in the music room with us. My mother plays the piano and my sister and I sing. I'm glad you've been enjoying the music. Do you play?"
"I'm not sure. I think I maybe do – but then again maybe I don't. Maybe when I'm stronger your family will be kind enough to let me try," he smiled, flexing his fingers and closing his eyes slightly, clearly ready for sleep. "Thanks for the soup, Elphie," he added softly, his breathing regulating as he slipped into sleep. Elphaba cocked her eyebrow in surprise at the nickname, then shrugged and stood, slipping silently from the annex.
Melena was thrilled to hear that Yero enjoyed listening to their daily music sessions, and at once insisted on throwing open the bay windows and playing with all the vigour she could muster. Her beautiful face lit up as she played, her nimble fingers flying across the ivory keys. Nessarose joined in with a clear, pure voice, but it took Elphaba a few moments of nudging from her father to join with them. Eventually, she added her rich soprano to the mix, separating into a harmony that soared.
Across the way, Yero smiled widely and closed his eyes, allowing the music to seep deep into his mind. It was a soothing, familiar sound that held a comforting reminder of home. Home. Where was that? He couldn't remember, no matter how much he strained his memory. There were flashes of sound and colour that came late at night in the moments after a dream, and the occasional smell. Faces swam in his mind, but whether they were memories or fantasies he could not understand. Surely, he reasoned, his family must be searching for him? Yero had no idea of the atrocities in the Vinkus, so had no reason to believe that they may not be able to do so. The only memory he had, clear as day, was the memory of pain as blow after blow was inflicted on his body, and the disorientated sense of panic that still haunted him, his heart pounding in his ears.
With that thought, he struggled down under the blanket and pulled it over his head, blocking out the light, the music he craved so much and his one solid memory.
"He's going to have to stay hidden. The rebels have spies in all the countries of Oz, and they will be looking for any survivors. We can take him in, make sure he learns a trade, but he is going to have to stay in the shadows. As much as I would prefer to integrate him into the family, it's simply not safe for us or the boy himself. If my suspicion is correct, the best thing we can do is keep him out of sight until he is old enough," Melena sighed, shaking down her mane of auburn hair. Frex frowned at her, puzzled.
"What do you mean, your suspicion?" he queried, settling on his favourite plush armchair and focusing his pale eyes on his wife. She pursed her lips, her business head firmly on her shoulders.
"I can't tell you that, sweetling. You will find out in due course, but I do hope I'm wrong." The woman threw herself carelessly onto a chaise, stretching out her tired limbs and letting a smile cross her fine face. "It's good that Elphaba has something to focus on, though. I'm not sure if she will ever be happy, but seeing her contently playing the nurse is gratifying. She even seems to be – Oz forbid – enjoying herself a little!"
"If only it were under better circumstances. She and Nessa could use a new play mate."
"True. Well, Yero will be up and about soon enough. I think we'll keep him in the kitchen just now, have him help the cook and whatnot. If that doesn't work, send him to the stables."
"I thought perhaps a gentler pastime? He has been through a terrible ordeal, after all," Frex mused, fiddling with a strand of his neat grey beard thoughtfully.
"I wish we could afford to do so, but he is more easily hidden in that kind of role. It is imperative we hide him. Perhaps, once all of this has blown over, we will be able to send him on his way with his head held high," his wife replied. "What?" she added, as a mischievous smile slipped across Frex's face.
"Perhaps," he grinned, "We will be able to send him with a – companion, shall we say?"
"You don't mean –"
"Do you think…?"
"If we make sure the relationship is cultivated, I do."
"A little early, don't you think?"
"Much too early, of course. We must let a few more years of childhood pass. Four at least."
"Quite right. Well, we will see in time. One sister or the other, it makes no matter."
"You could have put that better, my sweet," Frex laughed, picking up a nearby book. Melena laughed with him.
"That did sound harsh, didn't it? What I meant was we won't know which, if either, of the girls may fall for him, and vice versa, for several years. Let's just leave it alone and see what happens," she chuckled, yawning widely and stretching. She rose languidly and dropped a kiss on her husband's cheek.
"For the record," she added, crossing to the door, "I have a feeling it might be Elphaba."
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