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XXV. A Change of Plans

“So how did Glinda and my mother become friends?” Saguaro asked. “It doesn’t sound like they could ever stop hating each other.”

 

Psudina smiled. “Actually, I believe your father’s arrival set that into motion.”

 

She had nearly forgotten that Glinda had also known her father. “What do you mean?”

 

For the first time, the story went in a more familiar direction. Psudina described Fiyero’s arrival at Shiz, which was similar to “Fyre’s” at the last school he attended. Her father had apparently charmed everyone with his carefree façade and arranged a dance party his very first night on campus.

 

“What you have to understand is that Galinda was a very different person, then,” Psudina said, as Saguaro took this in. “I love my niece dearly, but she held herself above most Shiz students and was very careful about whom she chose as friends. Do you remember meeting Boq yesterday?”

 

“What does he have to do with my mom and Glinda?”

 

“Well, at the time, he had a little crush on Galinda. He was also in your parents’ and Glinda’s class at Shiz. Boq wasn’t tin then and was simply an ordinary Munchkin, but Galinda had no interest in him. I’m a bit hazy on the details, but I believe he asked Galinda to the dance. Galinda noticed your aunt nearby and expressed sympathy over her being confined to a wheelchair. In order to nudge Boq in the right direction, she said that someone would impress her if they asked Nessarose to the dance. Boq, of course, took the bait, which left Glinda free to go with Fiyero.”

 

Saguaro’s mouth fell open. “Wait. My father went to the dance with Glinda?”

 

Psudina chuckled at her surprise. “You know, Saguaro, you’ll need to get over that. They dated for a number of years.”

 

“What?”

 

It did make sense, considering that “Fyre” had been attracted to pretty, popular girls for a while, but she still couldn’t believe that her father had been involved with Glinda the Good.

 

“All right, I’ll get over it,” she said grudgingly. “I’m not saying that I like hearing about it, but I can at least try to tolerate it. Now. What happened with Boq and Auntie Nessa? Did Auntie Nessa know that Boq had only asked her because of Glinda?”

 

“Alas, no. She expressed enthusiasm over her date to your mother, and your mother was surprised that Galinda had done something so nice for her sister. In return, your mother decided to give Galinda a second chance and arranged for her to attend her sorcery seminar. That, combined with a few other factors, resulted in them finally becoming friends.” She chuckled again. “I still have Galinda’s ten-page letter, telling me all about it. She couldn’t decide what was more pressing: that she was now the girlfriend of Prince Fiyero Tigelaar or that she was friends with the roommate she once loathed. Half the letter was filled with exclamation points. I really must dig it out sometime. You’ll be quite amused.”

 

“I’m not sure about that,” Saguaro muttered. “I still can’t imagine my dad dating anyone before my mother. I mean, I know he dated lots of girls…but I can’t imagine him dating anyone seriously.

 

“Well, it will please you to know that I don’t think your father ever had deep feelings for Glinda. He liked her well enough, but I don’t think he was ever in love with her. I visited the two of them after Shiz, and he never seemed to look at her in that way.

 

“In Galinda’s next letter, she described how Doctor Dillamond had been fired. Considering the way Animals were treated at the time, it’s astonishing that he lasted as long as he did. A new professor was hired in his place, and during his first class, he showed the students a caged Lion cub. Your parents rescued the Lion cub together and set it free.

 

“From that day on, your father changed. Galinda wrote to me about how distant and moody her boyfriend had turned and was especially concerned with how thoughtful he had become.” Psudina raised her voice a few octaves higher in an obvious imitation of Glinda. “‘Oh, Auntie Psue, I don’t know what to do! Fiyero’s been so moodified ever since Doctor Dillamond was fired. In fact, I don’t even know him anymore! Perhaps Elphie can help. He was with her when he released the Lion cub, after all.’” She returned her voice to normal. “Glinda never has been good at seeing what’s right in front of her.”

 

“So you think that setting the Lion cub free made my parents realize they had feelings for each other?” asked Saguaro.

 

“I do. I don’t know exactly what transpired between them, but I do think that was the beginning. Galinda might have been oblivious, but as soon as I read between the lines of her letter…well, I can’t tell you how happy I was for your mother and father. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before.”


 

8 1/2 Months A.D.

 

There are so many ways Fiyero could approach this conversation.

 

If he were Elphaba, he knows exactly what he would do. After some small talk and questions about how Elphaba is feeling (and pretending that he has no idea just why she is feeling ill), he would plunge into the subject at hand. “So, I heard some interesting news today,” he’d say with Elphaba’s trademark sarcasm. “Anything you’ve forgotten to tell me?”

 

If he were Glinda, he would survey the room to make sure nobody was listening before launching into a rant. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me!” he would fume, an angry flush rising to his cheeks. “Do you know how hurtful it is to learn news like this from someone else?”

 

The problem is that he has no idea what he should do.

 

He steps into their one room apartment, trying to ignore his tangle of nerves. Elphaba is sitting on their couch, reading a book. She looks up when she sees him.

 

“Oh, I didn’t realize it was time for you to be back. I must have lost track of time. And before you ask, yes, I am feeling better. The sickness passed soon after you left.”

 

It is this comment that propels him. Fiyero is not sure of many things, but he does know that he is tired of pretending.

 

“Elphaba. I know.”

 

Elphaba’s eyes widen like those of a stunned deer. He finds himself taken by how small she looks and how different she appears from the strong college student with whom he first fell in love.

 

“Did Millie tell you?” she says, referring to the Sheep whose fiber shop is below their apartment.

 

“She wanted to congratulate me,” Fiyero says, his voice cracking. “She thought I already knew.”

 

Elphaba closes her eyes. The only sound in the room is the ticking of the clock on their mantel.

 

“I thought I had more time to prepare for this conversation,” she says finally, after opening her eyes. “I don’t know how to talk about it just yet.”

 

“Well, I need to talk about it now,” Fiyero says. “We’re having a baby, Elphaba. In nine months or less, we are going to have a child. That’s a lot to take in.”

 

Elphaba begins to fiddle with a loose lock of hair. “I know that, Fiyero. And I meant to tell you. But I didn’t even know for certain until a few weeks ago, and before that I honestly thought I was being paranoid. But then I got sick and I missed my cycle for the second time. I couldn’t ignore what was happening, so I decided to find out for sure. And I didn’t plan to tell Millie, but she recognized my symptoms and confronted me. She kept asking me when I was going to tell you, so I just said that I was going to tell you yesterday. I never dreamed that she would say something before I did.”

 

“Would you mind starting from the beginning?” he says, cutting in before she has a chance to speak again. Once Elphaba begins talking, it can be difficult to stop her.

 

Elphaba lets out a breath.  “How far back do you want me to go?”

 

“How about to when you think it happened? I’m pretty stunned. I didn’t even know this was a possibility. We’ve always been so careful.”

 

She motions for him to sit beside her.

 

“Do you remember that night a few months ago in January when you woke up in the middle of the night and found me awake?”

 

He remembers. Ever since they arrived in Cascadia, Elphaba has had trouble sleeping. He has awakened several times to find her staring into space, reliving her experiences as the Wicked Witch of the West or worrying about someone finding them. Still, something stood out about that night in January. She looked so much more delicate than normal. When he took her in his arms and reminded her that they were both safe now, he was stuck by how frail she felt.

 

“So that’s when it happened?” Fiyero says for affirmation.

 

She nods. “I didn’t realize we’d been careless until the next morning, of course. I could tell that you didn’t have any idea, and I didn’t want you to worry if there was no reason to be concerned. Besides, I didn’t think it was possible. It was only one time, after all, and the idea just seemed so remote. Even when I missed my cycle two weeks later, I assumed it was due to stress. It wasn’t until I missed my cycle for the second time and began to exhibit other symptoms that I decided to find out for certain.”

 

“And when was that?” says Fiyero.

 

“Two weeks ago. I’m about ten weeks along.”

 

Fiyero takes this in. He cannot believe he did not realize it sooner. While he knew something was going on, every time he tried to ask Elphaba about it, she rebuffed him with a harsh snap. When she chalked up her recent bouts of illness to the flu, he believed her. It is difficult to believe that she has actually been carrying their child all this time.

 

“I’m sorry, Fiyero,” she says, reaching for his hand. “I need to stop shutting you out when something is bothering me, and I promise I’ll try harder. But I’ve been so worried. I know you think we’re safe here, but what if you’re wrong? Caper found out that we’re alive; others could, too. And if that happens, what will happen to the baby? They killed my sister just to trap me. Can you imagine how much danger our child will be in if someone finds out about it?”

 

“That’s not going to happen, Elphaba,” Fiyero says, suppressing a shudder. “The only reason Caper found out is because he saw my letter. Besides, it wasn’t as though they targeted Nessarose just to get to you. They were also trying to get rid of the so-called Wicked Witch of the East. Even they wouldn’t kill an innocent child.”

 

Darkness haunts Elphaba’s eyes, reminding Fiyero of her hatred for Dorothy. Fiyero knows that no matter how hard he tries, he will never understand the horrors she experienced.

 

“You have no idea what they’re capable of, Fiyero. Innocent child or not, if that child belongs to me, ‘innocent’ is the last word they’ll use to describe it. And if the baby is green, it will be confined to a life of seclusion, with no opportunity for the unlimited future it deserves. You know whom the Ozians will think of if they see a green child, after all, and Oz only knows how much I will fail as a mother. Don’t you see, Fiyero? I’ve damned this child before it has even been born.”

 

She speaks these last thoughts devoid of emotion, as though already defeated. Fiyero is struck with the urge to embrace Elphaba and never let go. He cannot believe that Elphaba has been shouldering all of this alone.

 

In the wake of such pain, there is only one thing he can do.

 

Ignoring Elphaba’s bewilderment, Fiyero pulls back the curtain separating the living area from their bedroom and crosses the room. He returns with an object in his pocket.

 

“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and there’s no question in my mind that this is the right time,” he says. “You don’t have to give me an answer right away, but please think about it.”

 

“Fiyero, I don’t understand what you’re talking about,” Elphaba says, her brows furrowed. “What does any of this have to do with the-”

 

She gasps when he takes out a small wooden box from his pocket. Fiyero sinks onto one knee and takes her left hand in his free one.

 

“Before I met you, I was a confused boy who didn’t know his place in the world. My rebellion against my parents’ strained relationship and my own arranged marriage tainted my attitude toward love. But once I got to know you and fell for everything about you-your beautiful green skin, your passion for what you believe in, and your determination to change things, even when it seems impossible-I realized how wrong I had been. Love is real, and every time I look at you, I’m reminded of just how real my love for you is.”

 

He opens the box to reveal a ring woven from straw that he purchased a few months before. “Miss Elphaba Thropp, otherwise known as the most fiery, intelligent, compassionate, and beautiful woman in the world, will you do me the official honor of spending the rest of your life with me?”

 

He has never seen Elphaba look so stunned. She stares at the ring, as if unable to believe it is real. “Where is this coming from? I thought we agreed that we were committed to staying together without conforming to the convention of marriage.”

 

“It’s different now.” He drops her hand and touches her still flat stomach. “We made that decision when it was just the two of us, but it’s worth reconsidering now that we have someone else to think about.”

 

“You don’t need to do this, you know,” Elphaba says quietly. “We told people in Cascadia that we’re married anyway, so it isn’t as though the baby’s status is at stake.”

 

He shakes his head. “Elphaba, doesn’t it occur to you that I wouldn’t be asking you unless I wanted to?”

 

“But we talked it over, and you said that you’d never been in favor of marriage after witnessing your parents’ relationship.”

 

“I wanted to spare your feelings, so I told you how I used to feel. I knew we had enough to worry about as we adjusted to our new life together. But I’ve had this ring for a while, Elphaba. It’s been sitting in my trunk since long before you got pregnant. I’ve always planned to give it to you.”

 

“How long have you felt this way?”

 

Fiyero thinks back to when it all began. “Do you remember when Caper told us about Cascadia and you left for a few minutes to think it over?”

 

“Vaguely.”

 

“Caper and I had a conversation. I’d noticed how distant he was around me, and when I confronted him, he told me that he wasn’t sure the two of us were right for each other. He thought we wanted different things. He, uh, remembered the way I’d been around Dorothy and suggested that I might want a child of my own one day. I hadn’t thought of it before, but I realized he was right. What better way to rebel against the way my parents raised me than to give my own child a loving home?”

 

“Wait just a clock tick,” says Elphaba, as she finally comprehends. “Are you saying that you’re excited about the baby?”

 

Fiyero smiles as a series of scenes appear in his head. He envisions a toddler that is the splitting image of Elphaba, who lights up when she sees him and giggles when he tickles her. He imagines telling her stories, showing her around Cascadia, and watching the world through her young eyes. Next to the prospect of a future with Elphaba, he has never been as excited about anything in his entire life.

 

“Yes,” he says. “That’s exactly what I’m saying.”

 

As he and Elphaba consider each other, Fiyero is struck by the potential truth of Caper’s concerns. Ever since he and Elphaba moved to Cascadia, they have not had much conflict in their relationship. While they still have petty arguments over such things as her need for alone time and his desire to be more social, they have not let these arguments define them. They are together, and after their experiences in Oz, that has been enough.

 

But now, Fiyero realizes that perhaps being together is not enough. He wants more. He wants to call Elphaba his wife and commit to her in a way that is more binding than his private promises. And he wants this child. He wants to build a cradle for her nursery and pick out toys. He wants to argue with Elphaba over silly things, like whether the baby will be a boy or a girl or what color they should paint the nursery. Perhaps more than anything else, he wants a normal life. They’ve battled prejudice and lies, but this is one adventure they have not yet experienced.

 

They have lived together for the past eight and a half months, but as he studies Elphaba’s stunned face, Fiyero wonders if she really knows him, after all. He recalls when they reunited on the night of his engagement ball, and she expressed concern that he had changed and now believed the Wizard’s lies. “I have changed,” he had told her, referring to how much he had grown from the shallow boy he’d been at Shiz. Why is she so surprised that he is not the same person he used to be? Can’t she see how extraordinary this could be for them?

 

You’re overreacting, Fiyero tells himself. In seven months, he is going to be a father, and not getting married won’t change that. Still, his stomach churns as he realizes that she has not yet answered him.

 

“So, what do you say?” he says, still on one knee. His kneecap is beginning to hurt, and for a moment, he wishes he were still stuffed with straw. “Will you make an honest Scarecrow out of me?”

 

Elphaba bites her lip. She looks down at the book on her lap, and he already knows her answer. In truth, he has known it all along.

 

“I’m sorry, Fiyero,” she says, finally meeting his gaze. “But this is a lot to take in, and I need some time to think about it.”

 

“Can’t we do the thinking together?”

 

“No. I need to be alone.”

 

He wants to stay. He wants to shake Elphaba by the shoulders and tell her not to be afraid. They got through Oz; they can certainly get through this, too. He loves her, and getting married and having a baby won’t change that. In fact, it will only make him love her more.

 

Still, he knows this will only scare her off. Elphaba needs space in order to come to her own conclusion. So he gets up and places the engagement ring on the table, then shuts the door behind him.

 

 

****

 

Fiyero’s wanderings lead him to the clearing in the forest where he and Elphaba plan to build a house. He gathers an armful of sticks and begins arranging them on the ground to map out the dimensions of the home’s second story.

 

After he finishes, he realizes that he needs to change the size of the spare room, since it is too small for a nursery and a connecting bathroom. He wishes Elphaba had told him before he completed the final draft of his plans.

 

Fiyero misses the old Elphaba. While she would have been shocked at the prospect of becoming a mother, she would have been much more receptive to looking on the bright side. Sometimes, it feels as though their roles are now reversed, and he has taken over the optimistic way Elphaba once looked at the world.

 

Just as Fiyero finishes a revised layout for the second story, someone clears her throat behind him. He turns to find Elphaba standing a few feet away, a bright blue kitten in her arms.

 

“I thought you might be here,” she says, forcing a smile. “Mind if I join you?”

 

Fiyero shrugs and motions to the kitten she is holding. “Who’s this?”

 

She scratches the kitten behind its ears. “This is Azure. I just named her. I found her outside Millie’s shop, and since she appears to be a stray, I thought we could adopt her. Is that all right with you?”

 

Struck by how maternal Elphaba appears, Fiyero smiles back. “Of course. We’ve been wanting to adopt a cat for while, and I’m sure our child will love to grow up with an animal.”

 

“That’s what I was thinking, too.”

 

Hope overcomes Fiyero. This is the first time that Elphaba has acknowledged their future with the baby in a positive light. Perhaps she is beginning to see the appeal of having a child, after all.

 

Elphaba motions to his plans. “Is that our house?”

 

“Come on. I’ll show you.”

 

He leads her to the far side of the second story and shows her their bedroom, the master bathroom, and the library. Elphaba likes what she sees and compliments him on what he has done.

 

Just as he is about to show Elphaba the nursery, Fiyero hesitates. Though she seemed more receptive to the baby when talking about Azure, he is not sure she is ready for this.

 

“It’s going to be dark soon,” he says. “Why don’t we go home, and I’ll show you the rest tomorrow?”

 

Elphaba studies his face. “This is the baby’s room, isn’t it?”

 

“I don’t have to show it to you now, though,” Fiyero says quickly. “I understand if you’re not ready.”

 

“No, I want to see it. Show me.”

 

He leads her into the room. She scrunches her eyes as she looks around, as if trying to imagine it for herself.

 

Fiyero feels self-conscious. “I don’t have many ideas for furnishing it yet. I was thinking that we could put the cradle against one of the walls, and then in addition to the usual bedroom furniture, we could put in a rocking chair, in case one of us needs to sit with the baby. I also added a connecting bathroom, so the baby will have more privacy when he or she is older.”

 

Elphaba is still looking around when she says, “I think you have more ideas than you give yourself credit for.”

 

She sits down on the ground and pets Azure in her lap. In response, the little kitten begins pawing at her in an attempt to get away.

 

“Funny cat,” Fiyero says.

 

“I don’t think so,” says Elphaba, surprising him with her intensity. “She’s been by herself for so long that she doesn’t know how to handle someone else taking care of her. But I think she’ll learn to be more receptive if you’re willing to be patient.”

 

“You really think so?” Fiyero says, meeting her gaze.

 

“At the very least, she is going to try.”

 

She stands up. Fiyero is so distracted from worrying about whether he should have helped her up that he almost misses it when Elphaba flashes her left hand to reveal the straw ring on her finger.

 

“Oh, and Fiyero? My answer is yes.”

 

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