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Title: A Warm Gun
Rating: PG?
Pairing: Liir Thropp/Trism bon Cavalish (Son of a Witch)
Word Count: 1529
Warning: Spoilers for the book
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me...sadly
Feedback: yes, please.
Summary: He calls her Elphie
A/N: I fully acknowledge that I have never read A Lion Among Men, so on the off chance that Gregory Maguire continues Liir's story there in any way, consider this an AU that takes place immediately after the end of Son of a Witch.





He calls her Elphie.

And in his mind, in that peculiar talent he has for reading the past, he can hear Glinda. “You knew my Elphie!”

The Witch was never Elphie to him. She was barely even Elphaba when the occasion demanded. She was always the Witch. Auntie Witch.

Now, looking at Elphie's green skin, the stories about his parentage and hers seem more likely to be true.

Can you be a father, he wonders, if you don't remember the act of conception? If you weren't even conscious for it? If you must take the word of a girl whom, on good days, you think you may have loved, still love, will always love?

It matters little now. He is Elphie's father in the practical way. In the way that the Witch was his mother. Biology plays into it very little. She needs him to survive, and he can't leave her to die. She's his penance and his reward. She's his chance to make up for the Bengdali girl, tossed from the burning town by her parents, lost to all memory, all history since then.

He'd wanted Candle to be that girl, his chance to make up for the massacre. Now he wondered if Candle were any girl at all to him, anything more than another of his mistakes. Once he'd entertained thoughts of domesticity, himself and Candle and Trism and Candle's baby—his baby, perhaps—all living at the farm, happy in a way that Liir has never been happy, that he can recall.

He takes her first to the Mauntery, in the hopes that perhaps Candle would have gone there with nowhere else to go, that she would have taken the place the Superior Maunt made for her on the council, the hastily formed tribunal.

But all that he finds is the ruined remains left by Commander Cherrystone's forces when it became apparent that neither Liir nor Trism were hiding in its fortified walls. The Superior Maunt is still there, and Mother Yackle, and Sister Doctor, but they have not seen Candle, and though they are sympathetic to his plight and offer him what hospitality they can under the circumstances, they cannot help him.

He stays one night and continues on, goat and broom in tow, Elphie strapped to his back in a peculiar sling the maunts rigged up for him.

It's a long journey to the Emerald City, and he chooses not to tempt fate by stopping at the same inn where he and Trism sheltered for a night. He and Elphie sleep out, instead, camping under a tree near but not too near the road.

He wonders if this life will be better than the one the Witch provided for him.

And then he wonders if it needs to be.

***

He doesn't find Trism in the Emerald City. Not Candle either. Not even Nor, whom he is still determined to look for when he can, in between other missions that seem to always crop up to keep him busy.

When they leave—because the City is far too dangerous a place for Liir to stay, in the shadow of his uncle-Emporer—he can't help wishing he could just take the broom, fly off somewhere safe with Elphie, back to Kiamo Ko, perhaps. But there's the goat to consider, and Elphie will have nothing to drink if they leave it behind.

So they trudge on instead, tromping north this time, leaving the City by the Shiz gate. Once again, Liir thinks he should recognize the name, that there's something important about Shiz, but he can't recall it, choosing the direction chiefly because it's somewhere he's never been and therefore might not be recognized, and also because they can take the Yellow Brick Road at least a little ways and avoid the harsh troubles of traveling through the wild.

He takes to talking to Elphie about the landscape as they pass, sometimes singing as well, but mostly just chatting, though she sleeps soundly on his back, no doubt paying no attention whatsoever to his rambling conversation.

When they reach Shiz, it comes to Liir that he has no terribly useful skills, never having been trained for anything other than soldiering, but he can peel potatoes with the best, so he secures himself a job at a small boarding house, working as kitchen help for room and board, offering the use of the goat and what milk it provides that he doesn't need for Elphie to the landlady to secure the position.

He hopes, at first, to be able to listen to the chatter of the guests and so keep up with the news of the wild world, perhaps hearing something of Nor or Trism. Of Candle, he has little hope of finding news. An initiate from a rural mauntery being less likely to engender rumors than a former dragon-master turned deserter.

He finds, however, that he has very little time to listen to conversation, spending most of his evenings rushing back and forth from the kitchen to the tables, carrying mounded plates of food he only dreams of tasting himself.

They live well enough, though, going neither hungry nor full, and among the serving maids, there is always someone willing to watch Elphie while he works, despite her unnerving skin color and the mild rumors it spawns. Even here in Shiz they have heard of Liir Thropp, the supposed son of the Witch. So he keeps to himself as much as he can, his head down and his nose clean, making neither friends nor enemies as much as he can avoid it.

***

It's several months later that he hears a familiar voice in the street, asking if there are any rooms available before being ushered inside by the housemaid.

He'd been right to think that though he would keep the essence of Trism in his memory all his days, the particulars—the shade of his eyes, the texture of his hair, the timbre of his voice—would fade in time, and though he knows he recognizes the voice from somewhere, he does not immediately associate it with his...what? Friend? Partner? Lover? Lord Ottokos had said 'husband,' and though that title pleases Liir the most, he thinks it may be the least accurate.

He rarely looks at the faces of the guests as he serves them, and this night is no different. He rushes through his tasks, anxious to check on Elphie, and the flash of blond hair at one of the tables, the turn of a half-remembered wrist resting on the board, do not catch his eye, nor is he aware of the heavy gaze of one of the guests on his slim form as he slips in and out of the kitchen door.

After the meal, when he has seen Elphie safely to her little cot next to his bed, he's startled by the soft voice behind him, not having heard the door to his tiny room open and shut again.

“I had hoped, were we to meet again, that you would not have so much trouble remembering me as before.”

Liir turns to face the intruder, and his jaw drops for a moment, the familiar voice coming back to him as easily as the name comes to his heart, though not his lips.

“I had hoped,” he finally manages, not sounding nearly as put out as he intends to, “were we to meet again, it would have been where I asked you to be.”

“Confounded, the both of us, then,” Trism answers, and his tentative smile is met with Liir's own.

They don't cling to each other quite as desperately as they had that night in the Welcome Arms, but there is a tenderness to their reunion that makes up for the lack of desperation. They keep just as quiet as they had then, fearful this time less of disturbing soldiers than of waking the child.

Sweat-slicked and exhausted, limbs thrumming with spent energy, Liir begins drifting, though he would like nothing more than to stay awake just looking at Trism if not speaking.

Trism seems determined to keep him awake at least a moment longer. He reaches across Liir to lightly touch the basket where Elphie sleeps, setting it rocking softly.

“The girl you sent me to, is it hers?”

Liir nods sleepily, unsure as ever whether to be ashamed that he hadn't told Trism more of what to expect.

“And is it yours as well?”

Sighing softly, Liir shifts to look at the basket. “She may as well be”

He can't see Trism, but he feels the press of the man's lips on his shoulder and takes that as blessing enough to surrender to sleep.

In the morning, when Elphie is fed and changed and strapped comfortably in her sling, Trism turns from his shaving to look at a softly smiling Liir.

“If I didn't know better, broom-boy, I'd say you looked almost happy.”

“Do I?” Liir replied, his smile growing slightly. “Is that what this feeling is?”

Trism shook his head, chuckling softly. “Don't worry. I expect you'll get used to it in time.”


fin

Date: 2010-08-11 12:00 am (UTC)
misslucyjane: poetry by hafiz (Default)
From: [personal profile] misslucyjane
Aww. That's very sweet.

Date: 2010-08-11 01:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] skidmo-fic.livejournal.com
Thanks, bb. :D

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