AN: Sorry about the wait, I got distracted with other things, then I had a false start, then I got stuck, and...yeah. But, anyway, we're back in motion now, so hopefully the next chapter won't take as long as this one did, lol! Um, so...

This chapter is kind of where we start going a little deeper into the Fiyero side of things, just to kind of give you guys a bit of an idea how his mind is functioning at this point in his life and that sort of thing, you know?

Um...ok, so one more thing before we start! The book excerpt in here is from an actual book that I have and that some of you might even have, especially seeing how it is another one of GREGORY MAGUIRE'S wonderful books! So, bonus points to anyone who can tell me which of his books it's from, and even MORE bonus points to anyone who can tell me what it is that they're talking about at the beginning of the excerpt, okay? :D

Have fun and enjoy!

Much love as always,
Maggie


Fiyero stared blankly at the wall in front of him. He'd been in his current position for the last several hours or so, just laying there on his side in the middle of the floor with his dead arm underneath himself and his good arm just gone limp in some random position he hadn't even bothered to pay any attention to. Was this what people meant when they said someone was catatonic? Or did you have to be in a coma or something to qualify as catatonic? Wait...How had he gotten here again?

He closed his eyes. Just as he'd expected, images of a million different things began to flash across the back of his eyelids; his mom laughing, the warmth in his dad's eyes even when he was at his sternest, his niece running up to him with a huge smile on her face to show off a picture she'd drawn and was so proud of, his oldest nephew laughing as he stood on top of a courtyard wall and peed from there, his other nephew coming inside with bright red cheeks and snowflakes stuck in his hair, his cousin dancing around like an idiot...and his sister.

His sister when she was only five, picking flowers for their mother. His sister two years later as she lay in bed unconscious with bandages covering her eyes after the accident that left her blind. His sister holding their niece's hand in the gardens. The feeling of her head against his chest and her body curled against his as they sat together in their favorite windowseat in the library and he read out loud to her from one of their favorite books. His sister, his sister, his sister...

And then green.
Green? Why green?

Fiyero's eyes snapped open and he sat up, then looked around for a moment before crawling around to the other side of the bed towards the nightstand. Crawling could be a bit awkward for him with only one arm; he'd figured it out quite a while ago, but it still felt a little strange, almost like he was limping, only with his arms instead of his legs, and of course, the one arm sort of dragged on the ground as he moved. But once he'd actually figured it out and had the chance to practice a bit, he'd eventually reached the point where he could actually move pretty quickly like this. If he had only just recently started doing this, it would've taken him about a minute and a half, maybe even two minutes to reach the nightstand, but with as much practice as he'd had with it, he got there in under a minute, and then proceeded to sit himself down in front of it. Reaching into the little cubbyhole of it, he pulled out all four of the books he currently had there. He picked one up, opened it to a random page, and started reading.

Pepper shrugged. "It's true that this is what we tell ourselves. Is the history accurate? Who knows? How could we know one way or the other? Does it matter? It's a pretty enough story." The crowd was chanting, Free the tooth! Free the tooth! "Can I meet Silviana?"
"In your dreams," barked Old Flossie, wiping her eyes on her sleeve. "She doesn't condescend to notice the likes of you, laddio. Besides, you have an appointment with Doctor Ill. Pepper is to take you to his den at once." She blew her nose loudly. "I do love to be reminded of our duty," she said, and cuffed Pepper on the shoulder. "And so should you, Pepper. Now get going, you, and don't keep the good Doctor waiting."

Fiyero blinked as he involuntarily snapped the book shut.

"But how did she get mutated?" Niobe asked for the fifth time in a row. Fiyero sighed as he marked their page and set the book down. "I don't know, Nini," he said, "it doesn't say, it just says that 'through no fault of her own, this nameless skiberee,' blah blah blah, 'happened to mutate.' If I knew how it happened, don't you think I would've told you by now?" Niobe considered this for a moment or so. "Okay," she said finally. "So...she couldn't turn invisible anymore and had a bunch of babies, is that it?"

He blinked again, frowned at the book, then stood up, turned around, and threw it across the room. It hit an unfinished picture of his cousin right on one of his temples, then fell to the floor with a dull thump. Fiyero slowly walked up to the image and stared at it. He studied everything he'd drawn, from the curly dark hair to the wide smile on Dryxen's face. He sighed heavily, wishing that he'd given Dryx the chance to show him that smile one more time before he was put in this place. He hated himself for what he'd done the last time he'd seen Dryxen, and he always would for as long as he lived. He would never get the chance to apologize or anything, he'd just have to spend the rest of his life sitting in this room and hating his own guts over what had happened. He was even more of a monster than his bitch of a twin sister, and he didn't deserve to be alive. Why wasn't he dead yet? How was it that he was still breathing after saying such horrible things to Dryxen that day? Why wasn't he dead yet after that?

"Dryxen, you are the most vile thing that has ever walked the earth, and I hate you more than anything in the world, and I would give anything not to be related to you, you no-good son of a bitch!"

"Fiyero, I just"
"You just nothing, jackass! Why didn't you die instead of Asta, huh?! Why couldn't it have been you that got killed in the Grasslands?! I always liked him better, anyway, and then he died, and I got stuck with you for the rest of my life, why couldn't it have been the other way around?! I hate you, and I wish you'd never been born, I wish you didn't even exist and that Asta had been born an only child, you fucking piece of shit! I hate you, and I never want to see you again for as long as I live, so you can just go and throw yourself into Kellswater for all I care, because you're useless and you should just kill yourself anyway!"

Dryxen nodded, but Fiyero was oblivious to the pain in his cousin's eyes. "Well," Dryxen said quietly, "alright then. If that's how you feel, then...fine. Thank you for...for telling me the truth. Thank you for being honest with me and not trying to spare my feelings. If that, um...If that's really what you want, then that's just fine. I won't bother you anymore. I'll just leave, and...you won't ever have to see me again after this, alright? You can just...do whatever you're gonna do with yourself, and I'll stay away, I won't try to...I'll just stay out of your life from now on since you obviously don't want me in it. So, um...just...Tanae valkan stamah jaganae, Fiyero. Goodbye."

"Good riddance."

"I'm sorry," he murmured to the sketch on the wall. "I'm sorry, Dryxen. I'm sorry. I didn't mean what I said. I'm sorry. I don't hate you. I love you. You're my cousin, you're my best friend. I don't deserve you, not after that. But I still love you. I've always loved you. And I always will. I'm sorry. I don't deserve forgivness. But I'm sorry. If I could make it better, I would. Don't forigive me, though. You shouldn't ever forgive me after what I did. I just want you to know that I'm sorry."

He pressed his cheek up against the curve of Dryxen's shoulder on the wall and closed his eyes, wishing that he could feel the fabric of his cousin's shirt instead of...whatever this wall was made out of. He wanted to feel the fabric, and the warm, solid shoulder beneath that fabric, not this cold...whatever it was. Oz...how long had it been since he'd hugged anyone? The last time he remembered giving or getting a hug was...

"I'm sorry, Fiyero. I don't want to do this, but you've given us no other choice. Avash sivalia, sweetheart. You'll always be my baby boy. I'm so sorry."

"...Mom."

Without even thinking about it, he ran back over to the nightstand and got a piece of charcoal out from the bin he kept them all in, then tucked it behind his ear as he grabbed the iron footboard of the bed with his good hand and dragged it across the room, shoving it up against the wall not far from the door. He took a few steps back and examined the blank wall before him, then nodded, took the charcoal from behind his ear, climbed up onto the bed, and began to sketch. He could see her clearly in his mind's eye, as if it had only been mere hours since he'd seen her last. He could picture every last detail perfectly, from the warmth of her smile, right down to each individual wrinkle and laugh line on her beautiful face.

She was Zerelda, but she was more than that; she was his mother. She was Mom. And before that, she'd been Mommy. She was the woman who had held him when he'd cried, told him stories before bed, kissed his bruises and scrapes, the one who'd held his hand during those terrifying moments following Niobe's injury when he thought he might have lost her, and the one who had held him close all through the night and cried along with him when he had been crying harder than he ever had before when he really did lose Nini.

Zerelda Tigelaar was the kindest, most warm-hearted person Fiyero knew. His mother the Queen was known for her radiant smile, warm compassion, and loving nature. From her, Fiyero had taken not only his crystal clear blue eyes and full lips, but also his former love of life, those around him, and really just the world in general. He'd gotten her sense of optimism, even though it had all but faded during his time in Ozma Psych, and her fascination with new people, her desire to learn as much about them as she could, and her ability to make and keep friends with hardly any effort at all on her part. It had always seemed to Fiyero that somehow, Zerelda had managed to figure out the perfect balance of queen, mother, and wife, so that in public, she could be all three at the same time without any of them ever gettig overcome by any of the others, but behind closed doors, the queen aspect of it went away and she became just like any other married woman with children, except, of course, for the fact that not every woman had a castle or servants. But other than that, when she was out of the public eye, Zerelda was just like any other wife and mom.

One of Fiyero's earliest memories of his mother was from when he was maybe five or six years old, and even after all these years, he still remembered it with such clarity, and sometimes, if he just closed his eyes and held perfectly still, he could still manage to catch the phantom scent of the lotion she'd had on that day; honeysuckle and lavender mixed with something else he'd never really been able to put a name to but had always struck him as being sort of...tangy, almost, or maybe a better word would be citrus-y, perhaps? Almost like an orange, but not quite. Either way, it was the first memory he had of his mother singing or playing the piano, so it was one of his favorites.

He didn't know exactly when it had happened, only that it was sometime in the winter, which he knew only because he could remember looking out the window from his mother's lap and seeing snow clinging to everything outside and seeming to faintly sparkle in the beam of dull sunlight that had managed to pierce through the gray overcast in the sky. He remembered that he had heard the sound of the piano from down the hall and followed it into a parlor, where he'd found Zerelda sitting in front of the baby grand that was in the room. She'd smiled at him, and when he reached out for her, leaned over and picked him up, setting him down on her lap. What are you doing, Mommy? he'd asked. She'd smiled again and sort of let her fingers drift lightly across the keys. I'm playing piano, she had told him, and pointed to the sheet music open in front of her. See? This tells me which keys to push and when to push them to make the song sound the way it's supposed to.

That doesn't look like a song, Fiyero had said, it just looks like a bunch of funny squiggles and stuff on a bunch of lines. Zerelda had laughed, and even just the memory of the sound always filled him with a warm sense of security that nothing else had ever been able to equal. It's called sheet music, sweetie, she'd said. It might not look like much, but when you know how to read it and do it just right...

And then she had started playing, and from that moment on, it was one of his favorite songs in the world. Sometimes when he couldn't sleep at night, he would draw on the memory of the tune and the sound of her voice singing the lyrics as she played for comfort. His "ghost lullaby," that was what Bria had called it one time when he'd told her about it.

What he wouldn't give to hear his mom singing to him again...


AN: UGH, is it Friday yet?! I WANNA FREAKING GO TO THE LAKE CABIN ALREADY! I WANNA FREAKING SEE FREDDIE THE GIANT BASSET HOUND!

No, seriously, this dog is like ENORMOUS, one of his paws is about the same size as my brother's palm, I kid you not, no exaggeration! He's huge and slobbery and needs a bath, but he is an absolute sweetheart and he likes grahm crackers! Yep. Freddie. Loves. Grahm crackers. :)

AND I WANNA GO SEE HIM, WHY IS IT NOT FRIDAY YET?!

Oh, and before I forget, Arjiki translation!

Tanae valkan stamah jaganae: Pronounced as "tah-nay valkan stah-mah jah-gah-nay," and it means, "May the gods and spirits bless you," as in like the gods and spirits that their ancestors believed in, you know?