DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the characters borrowed from L. Frank Baum's masterpiece "Oz" series.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
CHALLENGE: Written for Epic Proportions 2013.
FEEDBACK: To daughter2artemis[at]yahoo.com
A New Dawn
Glinda stood before the stone water well in the center of Munchkin Land. She waved her hand over the drinking water as she muttered an enchantment softly. The glassy top of the water shattered as ripples opened and spread across the entirety of the water's surface. The clear blue color began to tinge and shade into deeper colors outlines by figures and structured images. The longer she circled her hand over the make shift looking glass, the clearer the visage of the one Glinda held most dear became.
Theodora sat before a fire and slowly removed her red hat and released the pin that held her ebony hair in a perfect coiffeur. Beneath Glinda's chest her heart stopped, her breath catching as the firelight danced magically across Theodora's skin.
The Good Witch's grip upon the edge of the well tightened as the 'Wizard' offered Theodora a music box. The look of sheer astonishment and glee that brightened Theodora's eyes caused Glinda immense pain.
"No one has ever given me something because they wanted to before."
Glinda turned her head away from the bright smile of her most beloved friend. It was too painful to see such joy over something so simple as receiving a gift. As Glinda squeezed her eyes closed she recalled a memory from her past.
"Father, father, look!" Glinda, no more than ten years old, raced towards her father in excitement. The King bent down on his knees to capture her up in his arms. He lifted them both up and twirled around, causing Glinda to laugh loudly, the sound like wind chimes swayed by a great wind.
The King finally released Glinda, the child's face flushed with her happiness as she presented her father with the treasure she had found. In her hands were a diamond and a ruby, a red ruby.
The King looked down at the red ruby, his eyes widening as the gems glowed brightly as Glinda held them in her opened palm. He looked up with a tentative smile. Glinda's attention was consumed by the diamond in the center of her palm. The two stones seemed to thrive off of each other, as before the shine of the ruby dimmed the diamond's light would glow before ebbing.
As Glinda stared at the diamond she watched as her reflection fractured and appeared in each edge of the jewel.
As the King watched, the shine of the gems brightened so swiftly and so strongly that he had to turn his head and cover his eyes to retain his sight. As the light dimmed he looked back to see Glinda. She didn't blink, hadn't turned away from the glow, merely smiled wider before looking up into her father's eyes.
The King saw what Glinda could not. The shine of the diamond reflected in her blue eyes, even now as she stared at him and not the precious stone.
"Great Ozma " The King whispered, causing Glinda to frown slightly at his actions.
The King forced a smile as she closed Glinda's hands around the stones. "Where did you find such pretty things, my lovely?"
"I found them in the meadow during my walk, father. One minute there was nothing but then they appeared." Glinda bounced up and down with energy. "They are pretty things aren't they, father?"
"Yes, but not as pretty as my favorite pretty thing." The King gushed as he slid the back of his forefinger over Glinda's cheek, making her giggle and blush at the compliment.
"What do you intend to do with them, my dear?" He paused, wondering if he should attempt to take the magic gems from his daughter. "They must be kept safe. They are very precious stones after all."
Glinda opened her fingers a fraction so she could stare at her treasure. "I think I shall keep this clear gem," Glinda said her eyes riveted on the diamond.
"It is a diamond." He educated his daughter, smiling as she looked up at him as if he held the answers to all things. "It is a very precious and valuable stone. It can cut through the hardest of surfaces." The King put his hand on Glinda's shoulder and began to lead her towards her private rooms. "What of the ruby?"
"Hmm " Glinda looked down at the red gem, only looking up when she heard a familiar squeal of laughter. Just down the hall from where she and her father stood was Theodora laughing and running around in a circle as Evanora chased after her.
Glinda stared up at her father, a silent request upon her face. The King sighed and opened his hand, releasing Glinda's. Glinda was halfway down the corridor towards the two sisters before she turned and ran back to her father. She put the two gems in his hand and crooked her finger so that he would bend down.
Once he was down she kissed his cheek.
"Thank you, father." She curtsied to him before she lifted up the skirt of her dress and ran down the hallway.
Theodora laughed hysterically as Evanora wrapped her up in her arms and tickled her sides as she held her just above the ground. "Princess Glinda!" Theodora gasped for breath, "Glinda, save me!" Theodora begged through her laughter, doing her best to wiggle free from her sister's grasp.
The King watched from down the hallway as Glinda bounced on top of Theodora, pulling her free from Evanora's grasp. The two children, hardly fazed by the impact, jumped up and raced away down the connecting corridor. Evanora met the King's eyes for a moment, her smile sly. She inclined her head in respect but there was a fire in the young woman's eyes that the King recognized. He knew, just from her raised brow that she was waiting for his response. A response to a question they never spoke aloud.
He bowed his head and knew as Evanora smiled and raced after the two children calling for her, that the girl would meet him in his chambers later that evening.
At dinner that evening the King sat and listened to Glinda retell all the fun she had with Theodora and Evanora that afternoon.
"Yes, my sweet?" He looked up from his plate to see Glinda nervously pulling at the napkin in front of her.
"May I give someone else the red ruby I found?" Glinda inquired softly, her eyes only peering up at him for a few seconds before they fell back to the napkin in her hands.
"What have I told you about shying away when asking for something?" The King reminded, and watched as Glinda sat up straighter and determinedlyor as determined as a ten year old could appearmet his gaze. "Much better." He took a sip of his goblet. "Now, what is this about giving away your precious ruby?"
Glinda took a deep breath and let it out slowly, "I wish to give it to Theodora."
The King choked a bit on his wine. He coughed to clear the wine from his throat. "Why, would you wish " he wheezed a bit, " to do such a thing?"
Glinda sighed, her gaze and shoulders falling before she shrugged.
"Glinda Arduenna Upland shoulders back, chin up. Now " He waited as Glinda posed herself. "Use your words."
"It is my ruby, isn't it father?"
"Yes, it is." The King's eyes narrowed a bit.
"Then I may do with it as I please, can't I?"
He knew when he had lost and was man enough to admit defeat. Even if that defeat was to his ten year old child.
"Yes, you may."
"Then I wish to give it to Theodora."
"Very well then, may I ask why you wish to give her the ruby?"
Glinda smiled, that was simple really. "Because red suits her."
The next day Glinda became nervous. She had never given someone a gift before and she didn't know what she would do if Theodora didn't like it. She was nervous and cowardly. But she was determined that Theodora have the ruby, so she devised a plan to give Theodora the ruby without her knowing it had been her, thus making it impossible for Theodora to say she didn't want it.
It took her two days to come up with a plan but once she had made it, she was thrilled and excited and ready. Except nothing went according to her specifications.
Glinda waited until Evanora and Anora, Theodora and Evanora's mother, left the rooms they shared in the palace. Glinda hid until the hallway was clear before she snuck up to the door and put the ruby right in front of the door. She knocked on the door and then raced away to hide behind one of the suits of armor in the hallway. She peeked around the armor to watch.
Theodora opened the door and looked right and left. When she saw no one she went back into the rooms and closed the door. Glinda became frustrated with her friend and she tried twice more by knocking on the door only for Theodora to open the door, see no one, and angrily close the door.
On the fourth try Glinda stomped her feet and crossed her arms as she made her way to the door. She knocked on the door and before she could knock a second time the door was thrown open. Theodora was angry and had her arms crossed in front of her chest. Until she realized it was Glinda at the door and she quickly curtsied and stuttered an apology.
"Princess Glinda, what can I do for you?"
"I came here to play." Glinda huffed, turning her head away from Theodora.
The smile that formed on Theodora's face disappeared as the younger girl didn't understand why Glinda would be angry with her.
"Have I done something wrong?" Theodora asked, trying to choke back tears. Her mother would be angry with her if she cried.
Glinda wanted to scream yes, but refrained. "No." Glinda sighed. "Here." Glinda thrust the ruby into Theodora's chest. "I found this in front of your door. Someone must have left it for you."
Theodora looked down at the ruby and stared wide eyed at it. She watched as her reflection appeared in the face of the gem. It felt warm in her palm and as she watched it started to glow. The glow got brighter and brighter.
Glinda's eyes widened and she squeaked as she closed her eyes at the bright flash of red. She stumbled back from the doorway, rubbing at her eyes to make the red haze go away. "Great and Holy Ozma!" Glinda gasped as she bent over a little and continued to rub at her eyes, blinking repeatedly to see if her eyes got any better.
Theodora's eyes glowed a soft red for several seconds before they returned to their natural hazel color. Seeing Glinda leaning against the wall on the other side of the hallway she rushed over to her friend. "Princess, Princess, are you alright?"
Glinda groaned and waved off Theodora's hands. She stood up tall and straight and stuck up her chin and did her best not to appear weak. "I am fine. That ruby just " Glinda looked to Theodora.
There was something different about her friend. Glinda's eyes could not look away from her friend as she looked her over to find what made her friend different. There was a new flush to Theodora's skin, a soft pink hue that disappeared the longer Glinda stared. Shaking away her thoughts, Glinda just put that show of light up to a trick of light.
"Never mind. It is pretty isn't it?"
Theodora smiled, "Yes, very." Then as if the brunette realized something she opened her palm and smiled at Glinda. "Would you like it?" She offered up the precious stone, a hopeful look within her sparkling eyes.
Glinda's jaw fell open and she felt the need to stomp her foot. "No!" She shook her head, sighing when Theodora stepped away from her a bit at her outburst. "It is yours!" After all the work she had done to give it to the girl she would just go and give it back!? Did she not know how long it had taken her to come up with this plan? How suited she was to the ruby? "You must keep it safe. It is a special ruby."
Theodora's mouth opened in a silent 'o' as she stared down at the jewel in her hand. She closed her fingers around it and pulled it close to her chest. "I promise I'll keep it safe."
Glinda nodded, "Good. Good. Now " Glinda straightened out her dress. "Want to go play?"
"Uh huh " Theodora nodded following Glinda down the hallway before she stopped and raced back to her rooms. She ran inside and put the jewel in a special secret hiding spot before racing out the door after Glinda.
As the door closed behind her, Evanora could be seen down the hallway staring after Theodora and Glinda with a dark glare. A green glow was present in her own eyes as she clutched at the green emerald the King had given her.
Glinda shook away her childhood memory. That had been more than ten years ago.
The innocence of her youth was long lost. But it appeared that the innocence of her dear friend had remained, and this fraud sought to soil it.
"Don't tell me no one has ever asked you to dance. A pretty girl like you, with the visage of Helen of Troy?"
"No one has " Theodora whispered in awe as she allowed herself to be helped up.
Glinda watched as Theodora was instructed how to dance by the well groomed man. Her breathing labored as she leaned farther over the well edge as if to get closer. When the Wizard spun Theodora around and they stared into the other's eyes, leaning closer to the other, Glinda ripped her eyes away. That dance, that kiss, was meant to be hers!
Glinda dipped into a perfected curtsy. Her sky blue gown sparkled as she pressed her palm against her partners and danced a half circle with him before turning to press her other palm against his and return the way she'd come. Around her the ballroom was full of dancers. The celebration for her eighteenth birthday was a splendid affair.
Upon the dais her father stood talking in hushed whispers with Evanora. Even behind the mask Glinda could recognize Evanora's gleaming green eyed glare. She would recognize her former nanny anywhere. The words spoken between her father and Evanora became heated, as they had recently.
Evanora had remained upon the sidelines as her father's mistress for the last ten years. Glinda was not meant to know of the relationship her father had with Evanora, but during one of the many evenings she spent under the stars with Theodora, her friend had confided in her the palace's greatest scandal.
She and Theodora spent hours upon hours together. As Glinda grew, the few children around the palace shied away from playing games with her. All save for one. Theodora remained her friend while all others left her side, too frightened by her standing as Princess or her developing magic.
It had been a long time coming, her father told her five years ago. Her magic had been buried deep inside her waiting and growing as she did until the time was right to be released. Until she was capable of handling such a gift. A gift much like his own. He was the great King of Emerald City, heralded across the land of Oz. He had a vision of their beloved Oz; one of freedom and prosperity. He did all he could with his own magic to grant those who deserved their deepest wishes.
He promised her that one day she too would have the ability to grant those who were worthy their deepest desires, but until that time she had to learn to wield her magic, craft it properly. Until she could one day expel her magic wand-less like him, her wand would help her gather her magic and release it as she wished, her precious diamond fixed to the top of it.
As the music stopped Glinda bowed her head and disentangled herself from the arms of her partner. As she made her way towards the edge of the room to find herself a glass of the punch being served she did her best to keep an eye on the dais.
"Princess?" Glinda's eyes moved quickly away from the sight of her father and Evanora bickering to face the young woman standing in front of her in a brilliant red gown. As brown eyes looked up at her slowly from behind a maroon mask Glinda felt her breath catch in her throat. Her heart raced against her chest as she swallowed thickly, her mouth suddenly dry.
Theodora had informed her she would not be attending the ball, that she had been feeling quite unwell this evening. Glinda had gone to her friend's rooms to see if she might reconsider attending only to be shooed away by Evanora so that she did not catch what Theodora supposedly had.
Glinda wondered if she was not meant to recognize her best friend. She had done her best to mask the sound of her voice; rather than deepen it, she had raised it several octaves. Glinda had wondered if it was truly Theodora but the moment she had looked into the warm brown eyes staring at her she knew her instincts had not failed her. The beauty before her was in fact her dearest friend. Why she seemed so intent on masking her identity bewildered Glinda, but if this was how Theodora wished to play out the evening, so be it.
Glinda was surprised that Theodora remained bent in a curtsey in front of her, her head tilting to the side in question. "Oh " She gasped, breathing once again, as she bowed her head, allowing the woman to stand upright.
"May I offer you a drink, your majesty? You seem a bit flushed."
"Thank you, kindly. Perhaps a bit too much dancing?" Glinda accepted the offered crystal flute of punch. She swirled the ruby liquid around the glass for a moment before bringing the glass up to her lips and sipping at it slowly. The cool sweet nectar brought a smile to her lips.
Glinda stood with her back to the wall, her eyes looking out over the hall. Her cheeks were still flushed a deep red at having been so startled at Theodora's beauty. "Red suits you," she whispered, her head turned away from Theodora.
"I beg your pardon, your majesty?" Theodora stepped closer and Glinda felt even warmer than she had while amassed in the crowd of dancers upon the main floor.
Glinda sighed heavily; torn between lying to Theodora and repeating her comment truthfully. She turned back to meet soft brown eyes. "Red suits you, my lady. It compliments your skin tone and your eyes." Glinda expanded her previous compliment, unable to stop her tongue from embarrassing her fully, bewitched by Theodora's proximity and the intoxicating scent of her perfume.
A blush spread quickly over her friend's cheeks and over her neck, leaving Glinda's eyes following the flush towards her friend's chest.
"Thank you, your majesty. You look breath taking this evening."
Snapping her eyes up quickly Glinda looked away, bringing up her glass to finish the contents with one swift chug. She couldn't even revel in the compliment for very long, far too mortified to allow herself that simple pleasure. Perhaps it was time to find something stronger than the punch. Her father had been offering her strong red wine earlier in the evening, maybe it was time to take up his offer.
Speaking of her father, Glinda peered toward the dais to check on him. Within moments her eyes narrowed as she stared at her father behind her mask. They were still bickering over something, though to anyone who did not know them it would only appear as if they were in a passionate discussion. She however knew them better, as did Theodora, and both of their gazes watched the pair carefully for a moment. They watched from their space as her father turned away from Evanora, raised his hand, and silenced anything the woman would have said next. Effectively ending their argument and dismissing Evanora.
Glinda looked away from the two, determined to enjoy this evening, her birthday, without worrying about her father's lurid affair. Glinda, like Evanora, did not understand why her father did not simply marry the woman he obviously loved.
It made little sense to Glinda, but as her father had not confided in her the nature of his relationship with Evanora, she said nothing. She would not break the confidence Theodora had in her by tattling.
"Would you like to join me on the veranda?" Glinda asked softly, offering one of her gloved hands to Theodora.
It took a moment for her friend's shock to wear away before a black gloved hand was gently placed in her own. Glinda fought off a smile as she led Theodora out onto the veranda to escape the heat of the ballroom, and any curious eyes. Once they stepped through the large stained glass doors the cool night air did wonders to relieve the warmth surrounding Glinda's person.
"It is a lovely evening, is it not?" Theodora asked, her voice still a bit raised, though it sounded closer to her normal voice than the last time she had spoken.
"Yes, it tis." Glinda hummed her agreement as she leaned gently upon the stone of the veranda, her eyes taking in the beauty of the emerald city sparkling under the star light.
Glinda swallowed a bit nervously when Theodora leaned upon the stone edge as close to her as one could be without actually touching her. Glinda stared at the younger woman through the corner of her eye and gasped when she was caught staring. She quickly looked away and stepped away from Theodora quickly.
She felt panicked. Her heart thundered against her chest as it roared in her ears. She could not stand to look at any one thing for more than a moment as she backed away slowly from Theodora. Horrified to realize her friend was slowly following her, for every step she took back Theodora would take one after her. Theodora's brown eyes stared intently at her face.
Glinda squeaked as her back touched the wall of the veranda, now officially hidden behind the open doors in the small nook where shadows easily enveloped her, and then Theodora as she stepped forward, trapping her. Glinda's palms perspired against the silk of her gloves and a fine sheen of sweat began beading itself up at the small of her back as she forced her eyes up, and stared into Theodora's. There was hardly any space between them, not even the slimmest of parchments could fit between them.
"I I " Glinda's shuttered inhale of breath became a soft moan as Theodora stepped that last bit closer and they stood flush against each other. The cool of the stone behind her could do nothing to quell the heat radiating from her body or the heat searing through her gown from the addition of Theodora's body heat.
Glinda sagged, allowing her muscles to relax as her hands fell to grasp onto Theodora's forearms, the touch of Theodora's hands on her hips making her body shiver. Theodora leaned forward, her lips, her beautiful succulent lips, inched closer and closer to her own as her head tilted to the side. Ideas of how her father's affair would no longer be the greatest scandal of the castle filtered through her mind. No, not when her own affair would be legendary.
"You, you haven't even asked me to dance." Glinda stupidly interrupted Theodora's approach, horrified at herself for saying anything. She could practically taste Theodora's breath as it ghosted across her lips and chin.
Theodora leaned away, blinking away what appeared to be confusion, before she cleared her throat and shook away the cobwebs that must have grown within her mind. Or perhaps she was battling against a hazy fog, much like Glinda herself.
"Yes, my apologies, Princess. Would you " The sound of Theodora's husk deepened voice made Glinda's knees quiver, ready to buckle, as she continued to curse herself for saying anything.
Her heart continued to race but it felt as if it had jumped up into her throat now as she stared at Theodora and saw the uncertainty that hadn't been there moments before.
"Yes. Yes " Glinda immediately stated, interrupting Theodora from asking her to dance in the first place. It was worth it, the smile that blossomed across Theodora's face nearly brought Glinda to tears it was so beautiful.
Just as Glinda reached to take Theodora's hand to dance the sound of Evanora's voice cut through their special moment.
"Glinda, there you are Princess. Your father is looking for you, and my, don't you look pretty." Evanora gushed, but there was something in her eyes that unsettled Glinda as she looked from her towards Theodora. Who, to Glinda's surprise, had her back to Evanora and was leaning over the edge of the veranda several feet away from Glinda.
The cool night air cut against her chest, her body immediately missing the warmth of Theodora pressed so intimately against her. Glinda stared at Theodora's back for several moments before she cleared her throat and stepped away from the wall to proceed with Evanora back into the ballroom.
Glinda tried several times for the rest of the evening to find a moment to be alone with Theodora again, but Evanora seemed to become her shadow, following after her or standing only feet from her. It was like being a child again that needed to be watched over. It bothered her and frustrated her for the rest of the evening.
It took her much of the evening to gather enough courage to stalk across the ballroom and demand a single dance from Theodora, be-damn anyone and or anything they might say. It was her birthday! She would do what she damn well pleased. She was no child and it was time she acted like the grown, courageous woman she knew she could be.
Half way to Theodora Glinda's blue eyes met Theodora's brown and the smile that spread across her friend's face when she realized her plan was like staring into the most beautiful cosmic anomaly. Glinda only made it three quarters of the way to where Theodora stood before Evanora physically took ahold of her hand and steered her in the opposite direction and from the ballroom all together. Glinda was able to only catch one last glimpse of Theodora before she was pulled away by her former nanny, and the sadness etched onto her countenance tore her heart to shreds.
"Release me!" Glinda demanded, trying to yank her arm free from Evanora's grasp, but the older woman's grip was too strong. She stumbled in an effort to not follow Evanora, but the woman ended up dragging her by the soles of her heels easily. "I said release me!" Glinda raised her voice and was so thankful that Evanora released her she didn't even notice Evanora grasp her hand and stare at her palm as if it were burned. "What is the meaning of this? How dare you remove me from my own party!"
"How dare I?" Evanora screeched, rounding in on Glinda instantly, making the younger woman step back with a bit of fright. "How dare I how dare you play with my sister's heart so casually!" Glinda took a step back from Evanora, never seeing the woman so angry before. The brunette was trembling, physically trembling with her rage. "She is but a child. She does not know any better. She envies you! When you encourage her on her delusions you do nothing but hurt her, harm her."
Delusions? Encourage her? Glinda swallowed nervously, her back hitting the wall as she was once again trapped between a wall and the body of a Thropp woman.
"You know as well as I that nothing can come of you two being " Evanora gestured around empathetically with her hands, the woman unable to come up with words to sum up her rage or description of what kind of relationship Glinda and Theodora had taken steps towards this evening.
Glinda swallowed, an ounce of her courage still remaining from before. "I love her." Glinda's voice was soft, small, but she had spoken the words that should have been said to Theodora first, not to Evanora.
Evanora's eyes widened and she took a stumbling, involuntary, step backwards. She merely blinked, her mouth opening and closing as she fought to find something to say. "You cannot love her."
"But I do " Glinda begged Evanora to see that she spoke the truth, that she did not speak lightly of these feelings for Theodora, that they were heartfelt and meaningful. She would not lie about such things. Not when it was frowned upon in their society for women to love other women. To be a woman lover damned many to hardships and unsatisfied lives.
"No no. That, NO!"
"I do, Evanora! I love Theodora. I would not say so if I did not ahaa " Glinda cupped her cheek, staring with unshed tears at Evanora as the slap of skin on skin echoed down the otherwise empty hallway.
Evanora looked at her hand as if she had never seen it before and then to Glinda's tear-filled eyes and the red handprint that Glinda's white gloves valiantly attempted to hide.
"Glinda I " Evanora hesitantly reached out towards Glinda, flinching when Glinda flinched violently away from her.
"No. Do not touch me!" Glinda pushed passed Evanora and did not look back as she stalked down the hallway away from Evanora so the woman could not see the tears she shed.
Glinda raced back to her own rooms where she threw herself upon her bed and remained there for the rest of her evening, her tears cool against the red hot sting of Evanora's slap.
Glinda's head lashed to the side as the arms she used to hold her up trembled, her legs useless. She could not bear to see them kiss. To watch as that gigolo took something that was never meant to be his.
A single tear fell from her closed eyes. It traveled slowly down her cheek to the edge of her jaw before it collected itself into a single drop and fell. It splashed softly in the water of the well, the single ripple it caused distorting the image of Theodora wrapped tightly in Oz's arms. Both Oz and Theodora remained unaware of Glinda's despair as the Good Witch fell to her knees before the well. Her nails trailed down the stone edge of the well, falling to her thighs as she rested her head against the grey brick and allowed her heartache to consume her.
Glinda breathed in through the pain. "Damn you, Wizard. Damn you."
Glinda had been slow to offer her assistance to the Wizard, giving him ample time to prove himself. He was just as she suspected; an imposter. He was not the great man her father had prophesized would come to save their land.
Escaping the Wicked Witch's minions had been left to her. Had she been more prepared to battle against both the Winki Guard and her Baboons she might have been able to improvise something stronger than a thick fog. Perhaps there was a part of her that was hopeful that the Wizard would prove himself. Prove her wrong.
It was a foolish daydream. He was nothing more than the gigolo she had watched swoop in and snare the heart of the woman she loved. He held no regard for Theodora. None. It angered her so that he had the opportunity to be with someone as beautiful and wonderful as Theodora and he dismissed it, dismissed Theodora. The woman deserved to be loved, truly loved. Glinda wished more than anything in this world that she could be the one to love the younger woman, but they were just not meant to be.
Glinda, for a moment, entertained the idea of 'popping' the Wizard's bubble and letting him fall for his crimes against Theodora. She did so for only a moment. She did enjoy his shriek of fear when she informed him that her barrier would only let the pure of heart pass through. He was right to fear for himself. He was far from pure of heart, but she needed him, so she allowed him to pass.
Glinda looked over her shoulder at the man who had hardly passed through her barrier. His heart was not true, but his soul was yearning for redemption.
It was a pity really. She despised him already and she had hardly spoken with him. Even now he still weaved lies easily to her, expecting her to believe the fabrications as easily as everyone else had. As easily as Theodora had, Glinda sighed as at her side her fist tightened around her wand, although outwardly she appeared as calm and kind as she always did.
Knuk and Evanora knew the truth. This man was not the man that her father had prophesized about. Not the man they were looking for to save them, but he was all she had. Evanora made it impossible for her to retaliate on her own.
A simple threat to Theodora's life had kept Glinda away from the Emerald city. The woman was cunning and bitter. There was nothing she could do. She could not risk Theodora's life. Evanora had killed the man she professed to love more than anything before Glinda even knew the woman had lost her mind. How easy would it be for her to kill a sister she pitied and sheltered, thinking her ill for the love she held in her heart? Glinda could not risk Theodora's safety.
When Evanora had called the Winki guards on her, framed her for her father's death, and proclaimed her a murderer in front of everyone including Theodora, Glinda had stood speechless. She had stared between Evanora and Theodora, the only one to see the spark of electricity grow stronger behind Evanora's back, her eyes fixed on Theodora. With a simple raise of her eyebrow Glinda understood the unspoken threat. So, she had looked to Theodora for one last time face to face, beseechingly before she had run.
It was not something Glinda was proud of. She left her people to be ruled over by the power hungry woman whose heart had become consumed by darkness. She had hoped that with her departure Evanora would leave Theodora alone, that she would not feel the need to attack anyone else. Her revenge had been met, hadn't it?
Glinda was no longer respected or looked upon with anything but fear by many. Evanora had the power she wanted and the throne she should have been ruling beside her father on for years. Evanora ruled peacefully for many months before whispers and rumors spoke of hope of another King being found. That Oz would once again have a great and powerful and kind ruler, who was male. Not Evanora, not Theodora, and certainly not Glinda, although the throne was rightfully hers. The people were looking towards the prophecy her father had given, his last bit of insight.
Sometimes she wished her father had spoken of her saving Oz and their people. Sadly that wasn't the case, and any frustration she felt over her present situation was never held for long. Above all else she missed her father and the life she had before her eighteenth birthday.
Glinda sat amongst the flowers outside the great walls of the Emerald city and kept her eyes straight ahead. She felt her father sit before her on the ground and heard the steps of his personal guard stop just behind them.
"Tell me daughter, what is troubling you?"
It had been several months now of attacks against the Emerald city and other cities and towns in Oz by an unknown entity. At first it was an increase in robberies. Then there had been several attacks by Baboons in varying cities. Now the family of Baboons attacked together en mass. Her father was working with many city officials to attempt to mount a defense against such attacks, but with no discernible pattern, no one knew what the next target would be.
"The future of Oz is no longer assured." Glinda dropped her head down to the top of her knees and wrapped her arms around herself.
She had come here to the same meadow where she found her soul crystal, the diamond that allowed her to control the magic within her. She had needed to escape her personal guard to do so. She had asked several castle workers to assist her to escape the guards' ever watchful eyes. She just needed time to herself and thought the presence of the guards would only draw more attention to her as she slipped through the streets of the Emerald city undetected.
"That is true, child, but that is not what troubles you, Glinda." He looked to her as he placed a comforting hand upon her shoulder. "What plagues you?"
Glinda felt a lump form in her throat and her eyes burn with unshed tears. She hid her face between her knees, allowing her hair to curtain her face so her father would not see her cry. She could not tell him. Could not confide in him why her heart ached so completely. It had been months since she had spoken with Theodora.
It was nearly her nineteenth birthday! A year had almost passed since the night of her birthday ball. That night she unknowingly ruined herself for anyone else. She had allowed herself to believe, for several long breathtaking moments, what life could be like if she spent it with Theodora at her side. In that one moment she damned herself to live an unsatisfied life, never to be with Theodora as she longed to be.
In an effort to protect herself she distanced herself from Theodora. She never spoke of the woman at the ball whom she almost kissed. Theodora had asked how her evening had gone several times. Glinda knew her friend was attempting to broach the subject without revealing herself, trying to discern what Glinda's reaction had been to a woman's attentions.
Glinda could not speak of it, dared not.
In an effort to distance herself from the truth of the matter she spent less time with Theodora. Much of this avoidance was her own doing and the rest was done by Evanora. Theodora was bound to Evanora's guardianship, their mother having died many years ago. What Evanora told Theodora to do she did. The younger woman had no choice. So within two months almost all of Glinda's contact with Theodora was ceased, and how it pained her so!
She dreamt of days she could spend with Theodora. Glinda imagined conversations she wished to have with her where she shared all of her hopes and dreams with her friend like she always had in the past.
It was selfish of her to be so heartbroken over a relationship she herself was responsible for destroying when her people were in danger, when her father was in danger. She could not help it. She was selfish in this one thing. Outwardly, all her worries were on the future of Oz, while within herself she cared little for Oz's plight when she herself was falling to pieces. No one was here to put her back together again. No one cared enough to see and act. Evanora saw. She had to see. It was impossible for her not to know the pain being caused by their separation.
It was only today that she had finally met the line she could not cross.
Theodora had been rushing down the hall to go about her duties while Glinda was rushing to see an advisor her father had instructed her to meet with. They had run right into each other. The physical pain of colliding with Theodora's body became secondary the moment she'd met Theodora's eyes. Even as they both winced and moaned in pain Theodora was quick to back away from Glinda as if she expected to be physically reprimanded for the accident.
There were a shower of papers around them, Glinda's as well as Theodora's. It was painful having to kneel on the floor inches away from Theodora for what felt like an eternity and have nothing to say. No, that wasn't the case. She had so much she wanted to say to her friendformer friendthat she did not know where to start.
"I'm sorry, I wasn't watching where I was going."
"No, no, Princess, it was my own fault it, it won't happen again, I'm sorry, please I didn't mean to be such a problem." Theodora looked close to tears, her eyes shining with them as her hands trembled as she reached for the same paper as Glinda.
"Theo " Glinda gasped at the contact.
The moment their hands touched Theodora withdrew as if burned. She stood from the floor and with bleary eyes turned and raced away from Glinda, leaving the rest of her papers behind.
"TheoTheodora!" Glinda had called after the brunette but she had already disappeared around the corner leaving Glinda as frazzled and scattered as the pages around her.
"I ache, father." Glinda finally admitted, looking up to meet her father's blue eyes when she felt his hand sifting through her blonde hair. "I hurt and I feel angry. All the time." Glinda squeezed her hands into tight fists, magic sparking from her knuckles, tears gathering on her lashes.
"What," The regal King breathed in slowly at the quiver in Glinda's chin, "Who causes you this pain?"
Glinda looked away from her father's eyes, afraid he would be able to read Theodora's name from her eyes, as if her gaze alone bespoke whom her heart ached for.
"Glinda " He picked her face up with the pad of his fingers. " who has hurt you?"
"Oh daddy, they haven't hurt me."
"But your pain ?"
"I cause them as much pain, but it is my own doing. I've turned away from them."
"Oh Glinda," The King sighed heavily over his daughter's troubles.
Glinda threw herself into her father's arms when he opened them up for her to slip into. He whispered sweet nothings into her ear to keep her calm as they sat outside of the Emerald city staring out at the blooming fields.
"You should speak with her--ahhuhm them. Yes, them." The King cleared his throat but watched as Glinda peered up at him knowingly. He smiled softly in return and kissed the top of Glinda's head. "If there is this much pain between the two of you, there must be a great deal of love as well. And love is the most powerful magic of all, my darling daughter. Remember that."
"And if this love is, is wrong?" Glinda pressed on, biting into her bottom lip with worry.
She should not have been worried at all. "True love will never steer you wrong. No matter whom it is shared with. It is as simple as following the yellow brick road. Follow your heart. It will never lead you astray."
Glinda wished on days much like today that she could speak with her father once more. Hear his advice and perhaps call him on his misjudgments. Her heart had not led her astray, but she had watched in the well last night as Theodora's did.
Glinda had not placed her faith in the wrong person, had not given her heart blindly to someone so callous to disregard the honored gift he was given, as the man her father prophesized she needed to win against Evanora had. She was also not like Theodora who threw her heart so frivolously at a man she knew for but a moment.
Glinda groaned loudly as the paper within her grasp burst into white flames and fell as ash to the desk top. For the nth time since seeing Oz through her looking well, she wished another had been sent. One that would not have taken what was not his to have. Breathing deeply, Glinda did her best to control her growing anger. After several deep breaths and long exhales she felt in control of herself once again.
She sighed, dusting off her hands before she massaged the wrinkles in her forehead as she sat behind her father's old desk. She was stuck waiting for Oz to decide whether or not the gold in the palace in Emerald city was worth risking his life. The crowds outside were gathering so he could 'appraise the troops'.
"I'm ready." Oz appeared in the doorway with Finley and the China Girl. Finley was attempting to wipe off some kind of makeup. It seemed he had not escaped the hands of the Quadling children.
"Wonderful." Standing slowly, Glinda bowed her head and followed Oscar back out into the courtyard where the Tinkers, Quadlings and Munchkins waited for them.
"These are no soldiers."
"Well of course not!" Glinda had to tell herself that if things were easy she would not have needed Oscar's help. "We are a peaceful people. We cannot kill." She was beginning to consider taking up the task with him as her fist victim, Evanora as her second and final one of course.
He rolled his eyes at her and shook his head, as if this truly troubled him. "Of course not "
Glinda's jaw clenched as she stepped closer to Oz with the intent of wringing in his scrawny neck. She was inches from him when shouts and screams broke out amongst the crowd behind them.
"Look!" Glinda turned to see a robust black, grey, and red cloud trying to overtake her barrier.
"The Wicked Witch!"
"She's breaking through!"
"Please, Ozians, remain calm." Glinda tried to calm them down, sure that her barrier would hold. It wasn't until she felt something sharp prick against her chest that she realized her error. Turning her head to stare at the barrier she watched as it creaked under the onslaught of power and the ripples could no longer hold it off. It was broken through.
The pain of the barrier falling caused her to reach out and grasp at the first arm she could, the hand that happened to be Oscar's. They both looked at her hand upon his arm as she grimaced. Her body ached from the force it had taken to break her barrier. A barrier she had connected physically to herself and thus her magic. She was the 'battery' that powered the barrier and kept it erected. It felt as if she had been dropped from several stories high with nothing to soften her landing at it being so violently broken through.
"Run, find cover!" Glinda called out to the crowd that gathered.
"The Wizard will save us!" Came a cry, and people stopped moving.
She ground her teeth together as she turned once again back to the people still standing around. Stupid, ignorant fools! The Wizard could do nothing to save them from such powerful magic when he had none of his own.
"Flee! Take cover!" Glinda cursed beneath her breath that Oz could not in fact save them, or protect them. It certainly would have been helpful, especially as she turned around just in time to push herself and Oscar out of harm's way.
Oscar was slow to help her stand, and she was unwilling to admit that she needed his assistance to remain standing as they both stared at the crater of open red flames. Glinda leaned heavily against him, hating that she required him even in this small matter. Still, with both hands grasping his arm they turned to the open flames as they grew, exploding upward, and a black silhouette became visible.
Glinda knew before the flames receded who it was that stood before them all. The pain in her body tripled exponentially at her realization. "Theodora " She whispered so softly no one heard her.
The sight that greeted her and the crowd shocked even her. She stood rooted in place, horrified at the sight of the green skinned witch that emerged from the bright red flames. No, her heart groaned and moaned and broke all over again at the sight.
Evanora hadn't kept her word. She had harmed Theodora. The darkness of her eyes, the lack of the joviality and optimism for life was gone. Vanished, and it made her legs weak.
She was so weak and shocked that she could do nothing but watch as Oscar was risen up like a marionette and paraded in front of them all in the air as the powerless phony he was. Glinda stumbled without his assistance in standing. She took to one knee and looked up through her lashes as Theodora lashed out at Oscar for his cruelty, rightly so in her opinion. She didn't mind seeing the man taken down a few pegs, or hearing what Theodora now thought of him. It still tore at her to know he had caused Theodora such pain, but it delighted the selfish, jealous part of her.
It wasn't until Theodora collected a large powerful ball of fire in her palm that she forced herself to stand up and put the flame out with her natural element, water turned to ice.
This immediately turned Theodora's attention to her. Where it should always have been.
"Glinda " Theodora hissed and the anger she had seen in Theodora's eyes directed at Oscar was paled by the pure hatred burning like Theodora's flames in her once beautiful brown eyes, now a purplish black.
"This is not you. This darkness. This is your sister, Theodora." Glinda slowly circled around, Theodora following her lead, both weary of the other.
"No. My sister helped me see the power I could have if I believed in myself. Not a conniving man." Glinda gasped as Theodora flew right up to her, no longer playing her game and circling around her while she fought to find a way around this situation. She had never imagined she would have to face Theodora. Not like this. Not put herself between Theodora and her prey, prey Glinda despised herself.
Glinda gasped as Theodora let her long black nails scratch just under her chin, forcing their eyes to meet. "And you, my pretty one, are just as bad as he is."
Glinda hissed at the insinuation. "No, no, Theodora, please " Glinda shook her head in the tiniest of increments, afraid that if she moved too swiftly Theodora's nail would cut into her skin. Please don't mean that. Please, Ozma, don't mean that, Glinda thought desperately.
Glinda snapped her mouth shut as she felt the people around them all shudder in fear at Theodora's explosion. Glinda blinked slowly and swallowed thickly as Theodora leaned closer so her lips were practically caressing her ear as she spoke.
"You lied to me. Just as he lied. You made me believe," the witch's breath caught for a moment. " believe that I was loved."
Glinda closed her eyes tightly for a moment, two solitary tears sliding from her eyes at the pain she could feel from those words. It bombarded her as relentlessly as Theodora had the barrier.
"You have always been loved." Glinda whispered as Theodora withdrew from her, speaking louder so those around them could hear her once more.
"Yes, by one." Theodora nodded her head, and Glinda knew she was not the one the newly green skinned woman meant. "My sister. No one else."
Glinda stepped forward but only a short distance. She was still weak. "No, she alone has not always loved you." Glinda looked around at the people before them and wished she could say the words that were at the tip of her tongue.
I love you. Glinda hoped, prayed to Ozma and all the deities of their land, that Theodora could see what she could not say.
"Lies!" Theodora screeched, her magic erupting at her lack of self-control.
Glinda groaned in pain as a rush of hot flames scorches her knee, causing her to fall, her legs already weakened. Glinda believed whole heartedly that the first attack was an accident. The shock on Theodora's face almost cemented that idea in her mind. Until she had to breathe through her pain and block the next shot of red flame with her wand. That, had been deliberate.
"You've lied to me, lied to me for years."
Glinda can hear the next words as if Theodora spoke them aloud even as her eyes are riveted on Theodora and she sees them remain closed off in a snarl. 'You left me.'
Glinda faltered, her wand falling to her side. Should Theodora wish to attack her again she would not defend herself. The despair in Theodora's words hurt her far more than her flames ever could.
As much as she would have liked to deny Theodora's words she could not. She left Theodora. Abandoned her. Twice. She turned her back on Theodora when she pushed her away after her eighteenth birthday and again when she fled the Emerald city without Theodora.
"I had no choice!" Glinda growled as she forced herself to stand up. She saw the eyes of the Munchkins, Quadlings and Tinkers on her as she stood. She chose to ignore the fact that Oscar stood only feet away from them doing nothing to assist her. Good. Let him prove his uselessness. She cared not. Not when she stood before Theodora, so close she could reach out and touch her.
With her head held high Glinda looked into Theodora's eyes, pulled into them even now that they were darkened by Evanora's magic.
"I loved you." Glinda's voice was strong and sure as she spoke the words aloud, the sound of them echoing around the open courtyard.
There were several gasps but the only one Glinda paid close attention to was Theodora's. That sound was followed by a small step backwards, the words becoming almost a physical blow.
"I still love you."
This time Theodora was not the only one to step away from them, but several citizens around them tried to back away, as if by doing so they could pretend they weren't hearing Glinda profess her love to the Wicked Witch. Glinda forged on; let them hate her, let them pity her or reject her. She was their last chance, and she would not lose her own last chance to right some of the wrongs she had done to the woman she loved.
"With all of my heart and soul, Theodora, I love you."
Theodora took to shaking her head from side to side, her own small way of denying what she was hearing as Glinda took a slow step forward, cringing only as her bad leg cursed her for moving at all.
"I have always loved you. Always." Glinda swallowed thickly, "And I always will."
"No. No!" Theodora screamed and another burst of flame shot from the Witch's hand and smacked with a resounding and sickening squelch of burned flesh flat against Glinda's chest.
This time Glinda could not see if Theodora had a brief moment of grief for her lack of control. Her body lay across the brick of the pavement before she could utter a single sound of protest and pain.
Glinda's eyes remained open. She stared up at the sky and the clouds as they moved slowly across the sky's open canvas. The wind was cool against her heated flesh. The smell of charred cloth made her stomach roll in the most undignified of ways.
She heard Theodora mock the wizard about a broom before her eyes closed without her permission, the edges of her vision blurring.
The sound of Theodora's cackling echoed in her ears as everything went black and there was no more pain.
Glinda's lips quirked into a soft smile as warm hands massaged her shoulders from behind. Her eyes remained on the documents in front of her. There was still much to be done before she could rest for the evening. There were several meetings Glinda had with representatives of the many cities of Oz come tomorrow afternoon. She would need to be well versed in the new legislation. There was still a strong opposition to the new laws and she expected protests to be held in the main square as the meetings were conducted.
The warm hands squeezed away the tension in her muscles expertly. Pausing, if only for a moment, Glinda enjoyed the warm touch. The warmth offered by the hands grew in small increments, heating the tight muscles.
"Mhmmm " Glinda's eyes closed as she leaned back against the large arm chair. The smile turned into a smirk when the magical hands drifted away from her shoulders down towards her breasts. They exuded a pleasant heat that spread from her chest down to the tips of her toes.
"Dora " Glinda warned factitiously as she popped one of her eyes open and caught sight of Theodora's breathtaking smile.
"Don't you Dora me, Glinda. You need to rest."
"There is still so much that I need to do." Glinda halfheartedly complained, already resigning herself to calling it a night. The decision was made the moment she'd felt Theodora's fingers expertly working against her body.
Theodora leaned over the back of Glinda's chair and kissed the blonde witch's cheek. "You have done enough."
Glinda turned to face Theodora. "No, no, I haven't. I, there are "
Theodora leaned forward and captured Glinda's lips, silencing the Queen of Oz. Glinda moaned as she tried to turn further around in her chair. Theodora smiled against the blonde's lips, her hands now cupping either of Glinda's cheeks. "You have done enough for tonight. Come, the hour is late. You need to rest."
Glinda shook her head. "I have no desire to rest now."
Theodora smirked, her eyebrow quirking up at Glinda's statement. "Oh, and what do you desire?"
"You." Glinda stood from her chair as Theodora backed away slowly, her maple hair cascading down around her shoulders.
"Then you shall have to catch me." Theodora stepped into the shadows behind her as Glinda willingly followed her.
Around her Glinda lost sight of anything recognizable, the shadows engulfed everything as she continued walking, trying to catch the woman whose laughter echoed all around her. Glinda laughed, finding the game entertaining. The further and further she walked into the darkness the harder her heart raced against her chest. The pleasant warmth that had engulfed her chest at Theodora's touch moments before became painful.
"Theodora!?" Glinda called out, spinning around in a circle, the dark mist around her clouding her vision from finding anything discernible.
"Over here " Glinda spun around and growled when she could still not see Theodora.
"Theodora?" Glinda asked softly, her voice echoing around her just as softly before her voice began to rise and rise until she was forced to clasp her hands over her ears against the wail.
Then there was sweet silence, but Glinda was still lost in the darkness around her, the pain in her chest indescribable.
'It is easy as following the yellow brick road. Follow your heart. It will never lead you astray.'
"Father?" Glinda asked the darkness, suddenly panicked and desperate to find the man whose voice continued to echo around her, slowly sounding farther and farther away as the moments passed.
Panting, Glinda clutched at her chest, crying out in pain as she fell to her knees. Tears slid from her eyes as she saw nothing but her own body surrounded by darkness. Suddenly before her there was a bright light, white in nature. It pulsed stronger and stronger until there was a second pulse, red in color. The two lights were calling to one another. Standing on weak limbs, Glinda forced herself to head towards the red light, one hand feebly cupped above her eyes to shield them from the flash.
"Theodora?" Glinda asked in a broken voice as she stood several feet away from a kneeling figure surrounded by fallen papers. "Theodora!" Glinda yelled as she raced towards the woman and fell to her own knees before her. "Theodora, are you alright?" Glinda slowly reached out to tilt her love's face up her fingers touching a soft angular chin. "Oh Theodora I was so worried."
Theodora snapped her face up, but the woman was not Theodora. Not as Glinda remembered her. She had thick green skin and black eyes and hair. The lovely red dress the woman had worn turned black before Glinda's eyes. The soft touch she had felt from Theodora in her father's office was replaced by a bitterly painful grasp about her neck.
Glinda was far too weak, the pain in her chest making it almost impossible to move.
Theodora's fingernails bit into her neck, drawing blood. The green skinned witch leaned forward, her lips tilted up in a snarl. Her breath was rancid and her lips a deep purple. "Do not fear my pretty one. Nothing can hurt me now." Theodora tilted her head back and cackled bitterly.
Glinda thrashed against Theodora's hold, her arms flailing and legs kicking as the very floor beneath her vanished. She fell back into the deep blackness that she had once willingly traveled into to find the woman; she now fell into it to escape, the wicked laughter following her all the way down.
"No, Theodora!!" Glinda screamed, her arms thrashing against the firm grip that held her down. She fought and jerked from one way to the other until she found the strength to lift her leg up, her knee connecting with the Wizard's groin.
Oscar fell atop Glinda, his head resting just over her shoulder as he gasped in pain. He rolled willingly off the bed and fell with a THUMP, whatever air that had been left in his lungs escaping.
It took several moments for Glinda to realize that she was in her own rooms, lying in her bed and that Oscar was not the only one present. At the end of the bed stood Master Tinker and Flowra, one of the lead female Quadlings. They were staring at her. Finely was perched on the window sill snickering at Oscar's predicament. The only one missing was China Girl.
This observation took only a moment and in that same second the pain in her chest resurfaced with a vengeance and tears fell freely from her eyes as she moaned in excruciating pain.
Oscar's head slowly rose from over the side of the bed, his face red and eyes still wide.
"Well if it isn't sleeping beauty risen from her cursed sleep."
Glinda groaned in agony at the sound of that annoying voice. She wanted to swat it away as if it were a bug she should shoo. He was a bug. A filthy disgusting bug she wanted to stomp on and crush beneath her heel.
"What...?" Glinda cleared her throat, her mouth dry.
"Here, Princess " Flowra rushed around the bed, ignoring Oscar as he slowly stood up, and brought a straw to her lips. She drank eagerly from it, the cool water soothing the burn that had spread down her throat.
Flowra remained by her side, diligently checking the bandages. The white strips of cloth were cool against her burned flesh, a local remedy applied to them to help the pain and healing process along. Glinda smiled thankfully at the woman, who blushed as she left the room to retrieve more water.
"How long?" Glinda asked, looking with only her eyes, as turning her neck pulled at her burned skin, to Loyl, the Master Tinker.
"A day." He seemed as saddened at this news as she was. She had lost a full day. A day that they did not have for her to waste in recovery.
Glinda's eyes widened. "We do not have much time before "
"Shh, Princess, rest assured we have plenty of time, the Wizard has handled everything." Glinda stared at Oscar, her eyes aflame. Her title sounded more like an insult coming from his mouth.
"Oh, and tell me, Wizard " She inflicted as much insult as he had into her title, " how have things been handled?" She dared for him to lie to her, to speak ill while there were witnesses around them. She was so sick of being lied to, or lying to others. The greater good be damned. Nothing about falling in love or following her heart was easy. Her father was wrong and he was wrong about the man in front of her. He would lead them all to their death and the destruction and imprisonment of Oz.
Oscar seemed surprised at the venom she was capable of. "I-I " He stuttered and Glinda rolled her eyes as she worked slowly so she could sit up. It hurt to do so but she needed to speak with Loyl about what needed to be done. Theodora's threats could not be taken idly. She would come, and the yellow brick road would flow red with their blood.
"Do tell me Wizard, what great plan have you concocted in my absence?"
Finely snickered from his spot but hushed himself when Oscar turned to glare at him.
"Well, I, you see "
"The Wizard and I spoke shortly. We have a few ideas." Glinda smiled softly at Loyl, knowing that he had a few ideas and Oscar was merely taking credit for them.
"Then you and I will discuss matters, Master Tinker. The rest of you may show yourselves out."
Finley began to leave but Oscar made no move to do so. She cleared her throat as she pointedly looked at him. He stood up from where he was sitting at the edge of her bed, insulted.
"Me? You wish for me to leave?"
Glinda forced a fake smile. "Yes."
"But you need me. I'm the Wizard." He pathetically tried.
Glinda outright laughed. "No. No, I do not need you. The people of Oz may need you. They may need to see your face and believe in you. But I do not. You are nothing more than the poster boy. You have no right to rule over Oz and take the throne that is rightfully mine. My father's prophecy was a tactic to scare Evanora."
"Hey!" He objected, Glinda refused to look at him. "Does this mean I'm not getting the gold?"
Glinda laughed whole heartedly, cringing only minimally. "Leave."
"I liked you better when you were nice."
"And I pretended to acknowledge you as if you had my respect?" Glinda glowered at him, her hands fisted at her sides, sparking with white hot flashes of magic. "I have despised you since you arrived. You are the cause of more troubles then you can even comprehend."
Oscar stared at her for several long moments, looking at her like her father would when he was trying to decipher her motives. Slowly a smile spread across Oscar's face.
"You know, you're just like me."
Glinda bristled, magic burning the sheets at her sides, the stench making her feel light headed.
"You lie to everyone. You pretend that you are this great woman, peaceful and kind, when beneath that facade you are nothing but conniving and violent. Just like Evanora and "
"Don't " Glinda hissed between her teeth but he paid her no mind.
"Theodora. At least now we can see her for what she really is. An evil wicked fool of a woman who doesn't know the kindness of others because no one has ever loved her as she deserves."
Glinda screamed as she flew out of bed at the man, shoving him against the wall, her arm across his neck as she stared into his sparkling eyes. Her hair blew about them with the magic that manifested around her. The burns on her chest slowly disappeared without her notice as her magic healed her. "You know nothing! You abused your power over her."
"Just like you."
"No! I love her."
"Ha, no. I loved her, you just watched from afar."
Glinda put more pressure against Oscar's throat, her body trembling as she snarled at him. "How dare you think to touch her! You are nothing more than a gigolo. She deserved better than you! It is your fault she turned to Evanora!"
"We are both toackto blame." Oscar grasped her arm and tried to push her away enough to breathe properly.
"No, no " Glinda shook her head from side to side, tears slipping past her lashes at the truth he spoke. "She was fine before you came. She was surviving." Glinda's chin quivered.
"Surviving is not the same as living." He knew that from experience. He survived by working in the traveling circus. He could have been living if he'd stayed with Annie. He might have been miserable but he would have had the woman he loved with him and that could have been enough. He was even more miserable in the circus because he was doing what he wanted but was not satisfied.
"She could have been! She could have been!" Glinda's vision spun around the room as a blast of her magic in the shape of her entire body rushed forward, pushing Oscar further against the wall and making the structure cave in on itself.
"Damn you! Damn you! Damn you!" Glinda screamed, the wall caving in inch by inch with each curse she threw at the man.
Tears streamed freely down Glinda's cheeks and her breath came in short gusts as she hyperventilated. "She was she was on her way to me! To find me! When she, she stum stumbled upon yah you!" Glinda hissed, pushing away from Oscar, leaving him to gasp for breath against the wall as she stumbled back.
She leaned against the poster of her bed, the truth of the situation they found themselves in finally piercing through the lies Glinda had told herself and the fog they'd created. It was enlightening and startling how much relief could hurt a person, how it tore at her and left her bare and vulnerable and distraught.
Her eyes were downcast as she stared at the floor between her and Oscar.
"She was coming here, to me. She was looking for me " She sobbed, moaning at the pain that encased her heart at the last chance she may have ever had with Theodora slipping through her fingers. It happened so swiftly she had no time to do much else but watch through her magic well. "But she found you and you you ruined her!" Glinda raged as she fell to the floor, bringing her legs up to her chest, making herself as small as she felt.
The men in the room allowed her this moment, both watching with sorrowful eyes. Oscar was the only one to approach her. He sat down beside her, leaving enough room between them that they weren't touching, but could be if Glinda so much as reached out.
"I love her! Truly love her." Glinda proclaimed as she looked up to stare at Oscar. His head fell as if truly remorseful. "And you took her to satisfy your incessant primal need. She deserved better!"
He nodded slowly, hardly able to meet her accusing eyes. "Yes, she did. She deserved someone who loved her to be with her the first time."
Glinda cringed, a part of her having hoped he wasn't Theodora's first while the other knew he would have been. She would have been had she been braver.
"I only left her to keep her safe. Evanora threatened to kill her if I were to stay and fight. I could have won." Glinda defended herself.
She knew that Oscar did not deserve this explanation but she needed to say it aloud. So that others knew the pain she had felt at leaving Theodora behind. They may not understand, could not fathom the pain it had caused her and the pain since as she blamed herself for each and every life lost and dream destroyed by the Wicked Witch. She was responsible by default. She had left Evanora in charge when she could have stopped her. But she was too much of a coward to live without Theodora. The cost of her victory would have been too much.
"Evanora knew that. So she kept Theodora close, my only weakness, and left me with an impossible choice." The lives of her people or the woman she loved. "But I chose. I chose to keep Theodora alive " Safe didn't seem like the correct definition anymore. Theodora hadn't been safe, but Glinda had believed she would be so long as she left.
"I fled. I was selfish. I would rather," Glinda swallowed, her breath catching in her throat. "I would still rather die a tarnished woman than live as a hero without Theodora." Glinda squeezed her eyes shut as she thought of the consequences her actions had reaped. "And look what that belief has done!"
Theodora had allowed herself to be corrupted. First by Oscar and then by Evanora. Cities were destroyed, lives taken and entire families obliterated. She had left a mad woman in charge of Emerald City and of Oz and Oz was now paying the price. A price she had not been willing to live with before and even now could not live with.
Glinda could feel Oscar's eyes bore into her as well as Loyl's as she hid her face between her knees once more. Her hair fell as curtains to block her face from view as she bemoaned once more the life she had chosen to live.
Oscar placed a hesitant hand upon her shoulder and gently squeezed. His eyes looking up to Loyl's over Glinda's bowed head. Both men nodded, something having been decided between the two of them.
Glinda stared out over the gathered crowd as Oscar gave a very halfhearted inspiring speech. They had worked for days on a plan to dethrone Evanora and rescue Theodora. There were only three who knew of their true intent with Theodora. Oscar, Loyl, and Glinda herself only knew the entirety of the plan. It would keep there from being too many slip ups, and Ozma forbid someone was capture they would only know their end of the plan, not everyone else's. The plan was multi-faceted and would require them all to play their parts to a 'T' if they wished for it to work.
It was strange for Glinda to stand before the same people who had heard her clearly state her love for Theodora, the woman they believed to be the Wicked Witch. The day after her 'recovery' she had been faced with a public onslaught of distrust and ridicule unlike anything she had ever faced before.
There had been rotten vegetables thrown at her. It was only when those who still supported her stepped up to aid her and created a barrier with their own bodies to keep her from any further harm did she feel hope again. A small glimmer of hope had blossomed in her heart when the Munchkins climbed upon each other's shoulders to block the violently thrown rotten vegetables and fruit from hitting her once again.
The small flame of hope only grew as those who still believed in her defended her so passionately and valiantly. It hadn't hurt that Oscar, their new hero, had stood beside her and shamed those who would turn their back on her after all she had done to protect them.
Hearing a roaring cheer break out amongst the crowd in front of them Glinda stepped forward and placed her hand on Oscar's shoulder. The man graciously patted hers and bowed his head, a sure sign of respect that would translate well to those who were still weary of her.
"You ready for this, witch lover?" Oscar whispered, his lips hardly moving at all as he grabbed his hat and brought it down to his chest to stifle the words from reaching the ears of someone they should not.
She kept her smile and watched as he rose to stand tall once again. "As ready as I ever have been, Conman."
He laughed softly as he fit his hat back on properly and stepped down into the crowd.
She watched him move through the crowd towards the carriage encasing the projection machine. She could admit, if only briefly, that she was a bit misguided in her judgments of the magician. His heart was in the right place when the time called for him to be serious. What he lacked was the fortitude to maintain this particular characteristic for long periods of time.
If he should prove himself worthy no. Not even then would she forgive him for what he'd done.
The fiery jealousy in her heart was hardly contained even now. It demanded retribution. To presume she could extinguish it so quickly was foolhardy. Still, she loathed him with a passion, but she saw that his heart was in the right place when the time called for him to be serious.
Watching the carriage pull away and head down the yellow brick road Glinda turned to the crowd and called for their attention. They had a lot of work to do. She smiled as she was offered a hand down from the boulder that had been their makeshift dais. Thanking the Quadling she gathered her own forces and began their journey to the Emerald City an hour behind Oscar.
As they traveled, an energy unlike anything Glinda had ever felt before bombarded her. Staring at all the anxious faces she saw beneath that and saw the light. The shimmering flame of hope, of belief, grew stronger and stronger in their eyes the closer they came to the Emerald City.
They would defeat Evanora. They would retake their beautiful land of Oz. Oscar would get his riches. Glinda would save Theodora from herself and the pain that had been caused her. And for the first time since seeing what a fraud Oscar was and his wickedness, she felt hope encase her heart and belief quicken her step. It wouldn't be as easy as traveling down the yellow brick road as her father proclaimed, it wouldn't be easy at all, but they were strong and they would not meet defeat. They would be victorious, they just needed to believe.
"Hurry, back into the forest Quadlings!" Glinda called out loudly, stepping to the edge of the forest in front of the Poppy field. The enchanted mist she had placed over the field was evaporating. She needed to get the Quadlings to safety. "Leave what you cannot carry, hurry, please." Glinda begged them as she waved them into the forest and watched as many of them dropped what they were carrying and raced away.
"Look out!" Glinda turned around to stare at what Flowra was pointing to.
Her body shuttered with the sudden burst of electricity entering her and caressing her spine like an old friend. Her legs gave out. She never made it to the ground. The baboons hefted her up by her arms and hovered above the ground while Evanora flew towards them. Her eyes were heavy and her muscles continued to ache and spasm as the electricity left her body. In her struggle to get free from the baboons' grip she flung her wand back towards the woods. Not a second after she did so Evanora's magic slid against her skin causing the hairs all over her body to rise before she swallowed a scream at the pain. Her head lulled to rest against her chest, unconscious.
Glinda played nervously with the material of her sleeves. She stopped biting the inside of her cheek when her father tapped her elbow and looked at her pointedly. She sighed and released the skin of her cheek, though in its stead her foot began tapping. Her father sighed and shook his head at her before turning back to the group around the table.
"Please, continue Councilman "
They were sitting before the council, discussing what was to be done about the baboons. It had come to the point of war. Glinda knew it was coming but she had not expected the men around the table to come to the same conclusion. Her father was known for looking for peaceful delegations, but the leader behind the Baboons' attacks refused to step forward and speak with him publically. They remained in the shadows of the destruction they were causing leaving her father with little choice. He needed to protect the people of Oz. It was his responsibility. One that she too would need to bear when the time came for her to take the throne.
Had these attacks not begun there would already be talk of her succession to the throne. Her father was not getting any younger although he still had the appearance of a dapper young man. Had she been male there would have been talks before her sixteenth birthday and here she was nearly days away from her nineteenth birthday. Glinda was surprised she hadn't realized that her father often had to forestall motions for her to begin looking for a husband. The issue had been raised twice in the last two weeks although it was quickly swept under the rug so that they might deal with the more important matters. To these men a Queen could rule over Oz if there was peace throughout the land, and only then. Ozma forbid she rule unmarried!
Her father told her to be patient with the old notions that many of the citizens of their great land held true. She would remain patient, but her patience could only last so long.
Her father was capable of handling the Councilmen. They worshiped the ground he walked on and those that might be uncertain were governed by their fear of her father's magic. Magic she had inherited. She didn't see them bowing to her every whim even with the knowledge that she was a white witch of great power. Her father had upped her training and had even begun practicing casting with her himself rather than leaving it to Yackle and the rest of her tutors. The lessons were rigorous and he was not soft on her.
It unnerved her, worried her to the deepest parts of her soul, that he was attempting to pass on so many lessons intellectual, social, and physical in post haste as if afraid he hadn't the time he needed to do so slowly. She never spoke of these worries. Her father was a great and powerful man. He was untouchable. He could not fall before his time. She pushed those worries away into the deepest recesses of her mind. There were other matters to think on that did not revolve around her father's mortality and the evil upon the land.
Currently her nervousness had more to do with the meeting she had requested with Theodora. She had sent a formal address to the younger woman by the Royal messenger. She knew it would scare Theodora. Perhaps the brunette thought she wished to punish her for last week's mishap in the hallway. That was not the case, but she would let Theodora believe so if her friend would meet with her. The nervousness Theodora was bound to feel would quickly be washed away as soon as Glinda announced her true intentions during their private meeting.
"That is the last I will hear on this matter." Glinda blinked as her father's hand slammed down upon the table's surface drawing her immediate attention. He was angry, his face was red and his eyes were pinched around the edges, his glare fierce. There were even dots of perspiration beading upon his forehead as his fist shook. She wished she had paid closer attention to what was said.
"Father, here, drink this." Glinda insisted as she noticed how agitated her father was becoming, how ill. He took the glass from her hands and swallowed the cool water in great gulps before spraying much of it back out across the table. Glinda rose from her seat in shock, eyes moving swiftly between her father and those around them. They all seemed as perplexed as she felt.
"Father!" Glinda called out in sheer horror as she watched her father slump forward onto the table before tilting his chair over to the side. He lay crumbled on the floor for only a second before she was kneeling before him, his head resting on her knees. "A doctor! Call for a doctor!" Glinda demanded, her voice carrying over the mayhem that the Councilmen were causing. One of them heeded her order and rushed form the chambers calling for a doctor.
Glinda forced a calming smile onto her face as she stared down into her father's eyes. She brushed his peppered hair away from his face, the short strands sticking to his sweaty skin. "It will be alright father."
He wheezed, coughing as he reached up to cup her cheek. "I know it will, my sweet. You will be here."
Glinda nodded hurriedly. "Yes, I will always be here at your side."
He smiled kindly at her, his eyes speaking the words he could not. Her words had not been the correct interpretation.
"You will lead him to goodness. To do great things. He'll come from a far away land, bearing the name of our beloved world. He will " He wheezed his words lost to Glinda and those men crowding around her to hear his words. "wi-ahsh-tahla-beyah king. He will help bring peace."
"Who will, Father?" Glinda wanted to beg for him to explain what he was saying, who this man would be.
"Oz " He beckoned her to lean forward. She placed her ear just by his jaw. "Be happy, Glinda." His voice was rough, as Glinda snapped her head back to stare down at her father's face she felt her heart catch. His eyes were glassy, his chests movements becoming easier, no longer strained.
Around them the ground shook, the windows creaking as the chandelier above them rattled. Glinda leaned forward once again to shield her father from any harm. The men around her began calling out in panic once again, some hiding beneath the grand table while those brave enough to stand still did their best to remain standing at all.
Glinda could hear the screams echoing in through the open balcony doors, the cool breeze that it had been letting in was now stifling with the terror and fear the people of Oz felt as their world jostled around them.
Glinda's eyes widened, their hue changing to a deep glowing white as she felt something powerful, gentle, and beautiful pass through her. It lasted for several intricate seconds; it was pure and breathtaking, like being cocooned by true love. Then she felt the last lingering touch of peace and love leave her. As it did the trembles stopped and around her everything was quiet.
The sound of wheezing was gone, silenced.
"Father " Glinda swallowed thickly as she straightened up and looked down to him. Her eyes returned to their deep baby blue as tears pooled in them as she stared at her father's unmoving chest.
"Father!" He did not answer. "No, no, father, please please " She shook him, looking up only as the doctor dropped to his knees in front of them. "Help him!" She demanded.
After what felt like an eternity but was only minutes, Glinda watched as the doctor sat back and turned to look at her. Glinda's gaze moved between the doctor and her father. As the doctor opened his mouth to speak she shook her head vehemently. "No. No."
"Princess, I'm so "
"NOOO!" Glinda screamed and all the windows in the grand hall shattered, the glass flying every which way. The Councilmen covered themselves from harm while Glinda sat still, allowing the shards to shower around her. As the last of the glass found a place on the ground around them, Glinda's head fell to her chest as her hands reverently cupped her father's cheek.
"Papa oh Papa." Bending down so her forehead was against his she sobbed, mourning.
Around her a cry of treachery and murder rose. It was all lost to her as those loyal to her father and her helped her collect his body from the floor, but only after she could be torn away from him.
Groaning, Glinda lifted her head slowly; it felt heavier than normal and her mouth was dry. A side effect of being electrocuted by Evanora's electricity. She squeezed her eyes closed after trying to open them twice, her sensitivity to even artificial light heightened. She peeked her eyes open slowly, conscious of the pain the lights caused.
The first thing Glinda became aware of as her vision cleared was the large crowd in front of her. Second was that she couldn't hear what they were saying but they appeared to be angry and shouting. The third thing she recognized was the Emerald of Emerald City. It was as the large gem became clearer that she began to piece together the fuzzy shouts and voices of the citizens before the risen platform before the entrance to the palace. They were calling for her release.
Turning her head slowly to the side Glinda saw Evanora shouting at the people to listen to her, for the Winkie guards to hold the crowd back. A small smirk tugged at her lips as she realized just how little control over the situation Evanora had now that word of her innocence was preached everywhere by anyone willing to gossip.
Glinda was sure she could name over fifty of the people in the courtyard. Many of these people were merchants that Glinda had met in her travels to the market. The others were the men and women who served or worked in the palace during her childhood. She had learned from a young age to know the names of those who worked for her and to treat them with respect. A respect Evanora lacked.
"Control them!" Evanora screamed at the guards who were being overwhelmed by the rioting people.
"It looks like you've lost your edge, Nora." Glinda commented as she laughed, regretting her joke the moment Evanora turned towards her and another stream of green electricity enveloped her body.
Her arms thrashed as wide and far as they could while locked in place by the shackles holding her down. She fought the urge to scream, groaning instead. She needed to remain strong. She could not let the people of Oz see her weak, watch her break at Evanora's ministrations. They needed to trust in her strength, her ability to protect them. So she grit her teeth and tried not to bite off her tongue as her body was raked with the Wicked Witch's dark voltage.
When Evanora finally stopped, Glinda slumped forward panting for breath, her body still trembling.
"Aww, out of witty comments, my sweet?" Evanora asked, bending down to grip Glinda's chin tightly between her fingers. The brunette's lips were raised in an angry snarl as she glared at the twitching good witch.
"Give me a moment I'll be sure to think of a few." Glinda spoke between her efforts to catch her breath.
Evanora laughed darkly, the sound causing goose bumps to rise on top of the goose bumps already covering Glinda's body. It wasn't as manic as Theodora's new cackle, but it was just as dark in nature. "Oh " Evanora rubbed her hands in glee, "I am going to enjoy watching the light in your eyes darken, my sweet."
Glinda ground her teeth together as she daringly met Evanora's eyes, her stubbornness an invitation for Evanora to do her worst. Feebly, Glinda hoped as she watched Evanora playfully flick green sparks at her that Oscar, Knuk and Loyl were on time.
It was sure an eternity before Evanora took some pity on her. Her head remained bowed, her skin enflamed, and her muscles burning through her from the inside. Each breath she sucked in took more and more effort, the tissue of her lungs surely crisped. There were words being spoken in angry whispers but Glinda could not make out who they belonged to, nor did she try and lift her head from staring at the green stone beneath her.
"What is this?" Theodora pointed to Glinda.
"Come now sister, you know as well as I that she cannot live. I was merely waiting for your assistance before disposing of her."
"This was not part of the plan."
"Has she not caused you just as much pain as the Wizard? Why should she not suffer for what she has done to you? To the both of us? It is because of her that you are like this now one way or the other. It was always her that held your heart, wasn't it, Theodora?"
Theodora stared at Evanora as if understanding something she hadn't before. Looking between her sister and the broken and battered blonde she stepped away, allowing her sister to do as she pleased.
"He's leaving." Glinda tried to open her eyes at the sound of Theodora's voice. When had she arrived? "Your precious Wizard is abandoning you," Theodora accused as Glinda fought to stretch her neck up so she could look at the green skinned woman. "Seems you share that trait." Glinda flinched as if struck.
"No ." Glinda could barely shake her head from side to side in disbelief. However, she was not surprised at the idea of Oscar abandoning her, abandoning them all. She just did not wish to be associated with such a horrible memory for Theodora.
Both sisters seemed to think she retained some form of faith in Oscar. "He has left you to your fate."
"Then it is my fate to be had." Glinda swallowed what little saliva she could, her throat raw.
"Why do you continue to resist what is clearly before you!" Theodora raged, her grip on the blackened broom tightening as she stepped closer to Glinda.
"Because I believe." In you, was what Glinda wished to speak aloud, but her words were taken in the wrong context.
"Believe in this then " Theodora spun around, gathering a large fireball in the palm of her hand. She looked over her shoulder at Glinda for a split second before she released the flame.
Glinda watched it soar into the air towards the hot air balloon. There was no way for Oscar to dodge the attack. The flames engulfed the basket of the balloon like a spark did dry grass. Glinda and the citizens of Emerald City watched in horror as the balloon slid towards the ground exploding in a spray of molten gold coin and smoke.
"There is your precious Wizard." Theodora pointed the top of her broom at the fiery mess that no one could have survived, Wizard or not. The cries of the terrified people grew and the guards were easily able to regain control of them as their hopes were lost as the smoke of Oscar's escape was thwarted. Glinda's own hope now solely rested upon the woman it had always been placed on.
"He is no Wizard of mine, nor is he as precious to me as you." If she weren't in a life and death situation, Glinda might find the shocked appearances on Evanora and Theodora's faces amusing. "I never believed in him."
Evanora laughed. "You have become a fine weaver of lies, Glinda dear."
Glinda did not spare Evanora another look, she had eyes only for Theodora. "I have always believed in you," the good witch stressed as she held Theodora's widening eyes.
"What?!" Evanora screeched as she lunged at Glinda and grabbed her chin in a vice like grip and physically turned Glinda's eyes towards her.
Glinda held Evanora's raging glare. "I do, Evanora! I love Theodora." Glinda whispered mimicking the words she had used the first time she told Evanora of her love for Theodora.
Unlike the night of her eighteenth birthday Evanora did not slap her; she did, however, toss Glinda's head to the side in disgust. Within seconds she rethought her decision and pulled Glinda's chin back towards her and leaned forward, her lips pressed against Glinda's ear. "Be careful what you say here, my pretty."
Glinda remained silent as Evanora leaned away from her, a satisfied smile upon her lips. Glinda glared, tugging at her restraints; this time she could not run or protect Theodora should Evanora go through with her threats.
"Damn you!" Glinda cursed as she thrashed against the chains in her attempt to reach Evanora. "You'll rot, Evanora. I'll see to it. I swear I will."
Theodora looked between the two silently, though her eyes were panicked and uncertain.
Evanora laughed, "You first " Evanora raised both of her hands above her head and gathered a mini lightning storm between her palms. It was when Evanora looked to her left and stared pointedly at Theodora that Glinda finally looked back to the younger witch. Her mouth opened in a silent moan of shocked pain as she watched Theodora raise her own hands up to her chest and gather a fire ball meant for her.
Glinda took a deep breath and stared at Theodora, unwilling to look away from her. If these were going to be her last moments she would spend them staring into Theodora's eyes.
A loud explosion rocked the dais they stood upon and all eyes turned to the center of the courtyard where from the smoke Oscar's face could be made out, his voice omnificent. Glinda saw the fear and shock appear on the sisters' faces. Evanora even took a faltering step back as Oscar released the power of the stars.
Glinda was mystified by the bright colors, "So those are fireworks " She uttered softly.
Theodora turned back to look at her questioningly. Playing her part well, Glinda remained as shocked as the rest were at the show of Oscar's power. Faulty as it may be. Her eyes moved between the exploding fireworks and Theodora's eyes.
There was something beneath the hatred she saw targeted at her, but whatever it was disappeared in a moment and Theodora screamed as she sent a stream of fire out at Oscar's projection. As planned the flames evaporated the fog and Oscar pretended to be harmed as his image disappeared.
"You see, he is nothing but a fake." Evanora proclaimed as she retook the steps she'd retreated. "Now where were we?" Glinda nervously looked between Evanora and Theodora.
Something was going awry, Oscar should have reappeared already. She needed to stall. So she turned to the only witch she thought she could appeal to.
"Theodora. This isn't you. This wickedness. It's never been you. Your heart is pure."
"Begging for your life, how cowardly." Evanora sniped like the viper she was.
"What would you know of my heart? You abandoned me. Betrayed me. He is as much to blame as you! You were never meant to love him."
"Neither were you!" Glinda spat her fury at Oscar, not Theodora.
Theodora grinned as if she had just received the answers to all her inquiries. Glinda's anger and jealousy all she needed to recognize the falsity of her claims. "My condolences on your loss, Princess."
The large torches that lit the area extinguished one by one and Oscar's machine began working once again. His face projected as tall as the first three stories of the castle and as wide as the great hall entrance. His invention was genius and the technology foreign to almost all of Oz, especially the two witches before her.
Evanora cowered at the reemergence of Oscar's face. He claimed to be dead already, his body destroyed by them, and now his true power and spirit were free to avenge the people of Oz. His comment of protecting the entirety of Oz but especially the goodherdidn't go over well with Theodora. She sent several balls of flame at the projection. Glinda was surprised by the fireworks sent in retaliation, appearing as if they came from Oscar's mouth. Evanora and Theodora both dove for cover, while she could do little more than duck her head and cringe as the sparks danced across her skin.
Glinda watched Evanora race away at the show of power like the coward she had always been. She damned herself for being locked in these shackles. Her job was to eliminate Evanora as a threat and the longer she remained here the more time Evanora had to regroup or simply escape.
"Glinda " The witch turned to see China Girl carrying her wand. She smiled and waved the girl closer to her as she tried to reach the wand she was holding up to her.
"Hide!" Glinda insisted as she saw Theodora turning around. China Girl hid behind Glinda's back and she did her best to straighten up to make it easier for the porcelain girl to hide.
"You may be all powerful but even you feel."
Glinda cringed as she realized Theodora's train of thought and she tried to reach for the wand but couldn't without revealing China Girl. Gritting her teeth she called for the wand, opened her palm and forced it to enter her palm.
"Let me take from you what you took from me."
It took a great deal of effort but she accomplished it fast enough to utter a spell of invisibility for her and China Girl so that Theodora could not see them as she backed away towards the doors of the castle. Theodora screamed in frustration seeing Glinda had escaped.
Looking around, Theodora saw the Winkie guards being overrun, and if she remained out in the open the Wizard could continue to attack her. So she slipped on her broom and flew off into the air. Glinda had no time to watch her leave. As discussed with Oscar he would allow her to leave unharmed if she were to escape. Glinda would find her later. For now she had to deal with Evanora. After all there was still hope for Theodora, small as it might be it was there, while there was none for Evanora. The woman's soul was black as night and riddled with the hundreds of lives she was responsible for killing.
"Stay here," Glinda instructed as she put China Girl down, hidden in a small nook in the hallway that led to the throne room.
"Okay." China Girl nodded as she slid between the small break in the wall to hide. Glinda didn't expect anyone to come down this hall. The Winkie Guards had all abandoned their posts. It was just a precaution to hide the vulnerable child.
Once China Girl was set down and hidden in the shadows Glinda ran swiftly through the halls to the throne room, sure that Evanora would return there. Word from her spies was that the witch kept much of her herbs and personal items there.
Her feet made not a sound as she traveled through familiar halls.
It had been nearly three years since she had been inside these walls. The last time here she had run in the opposite direction, fleeing from the throne room and defending herself against the Winkie guards that attempted to hinder her path. As she rounded the hallway that led to the grand throne room, Glinda slipped between the small crack of an opening between the doors.
The room was bathed in shadow, the lights from the fires raging outside casting moving shades over surfaces. As she slid her feet over the tile floor Glinda kept her wand raised, eyes peeled on the moving shadows sure that Evanora would appear from them.
As she neared the center of the throne room she heard Evanora fiddling with her things. The sounds came from behind the large curtain which led to the private seeing room. Glinda would not allow Evanora to take her father's crystal ball. She would not let her pervert her father's things and use them against Oz ever again.
"Going somewhere?" Glinda asked as Evanora rushed from the private room, completely bypassing her, her figure hidden in the dark shadow of the room. She used her wand to light the room. She wanted Evanora to look into her eyes, to face her properly. Not behind lackeys or from behind the mask of an unknown tyrannous villain. It seemed fitting that as she faced Evanora she would do so before the throne that was rightfully hers.
"Oh Glinda, you startled me." Evanora clutched at her chest above nonexistent heart.
Glinda ignored her charade. "You will never again terrorize Oz."
Evanora eyed the doors behind her before meeting Glinda's eyes again. "You have what you want now, don't you, dear?" She stepped back slowly, cursing internally as Glinda began to circle her forcing her away from the slightly open doors. "The throne. The Wizard. What more could you possibly want?" Glinda placed herself between Evanora and the doors. Evanora's only escape now being through her.
"You know nothing of what I want." Glinda fumed, her grip upon her wand tightening.
"Don't I?" Evanora challenge,d her eyes sparking at something Glinda could not see.
"What I want you cannot give me." Her father, Theodora, peace, they were people and a state of being that Evanora could never hope to give her, that she could never ask Evanora to give her. "You took everything I cared about and destroyed it."
"I am sorry that the Wizard's body is destroyed. I'm sure as he's all powerful he'll be able to pleasure you in other ways."
Glinda cringed at the vile idea of Oscar touching her at all. Behind her someone screamed in frustration and Glinda turned to look over her shoulder and saw Theodora flying towards her, rage evident.
It was only by the skin of her teeth that she fell to her knees, Theodora soaring right over her to hover beside Evanora. On instinct alone Glinda raised her wand in time to stop Evanora from electrocuting her again. The green energy sparked wildly as it met the barrier her own magic created.
"All out of bubbles dear?" Evanora asked as she too took to the air, hovering above the ground as she and Theodora tried to trap her between them.
Glinda kept walking around in a circle to keep them both in front of her, doing her best to keep her eyes upon the both of them equally. She could not allow herself to be distracted by Theodora's appearance. She had a part to play, a duty to carry out and she would do so, even if that meant disabling Theodora as well.
"No need." Glinda kicked up from the ground a bit and flew above the ground just as effortlessly as Evanora and Theodora were. "Bubbles are just for show." She directed the comment to Theodora, glad to see some recognition spark in the green skinned witch's eyes.
It helped that water was her element. Something Glinda had always thought made Theodora perfect for her. Her natural element could tame Theodora's, soothe her jagged edges and extinguish the flames of hate, pain and anger in the younger woman.
Evanora lashed out, flying straight towards Glinda. Glinda knew she couldn't allow for them to box her in between the two of them, she would easily be overcome. She had to keep them both across from her, in her sights. That meant remaining on the defensive for now. She needed an opening, and knowing both sisters she knew one would arise. A witch's emotions contorted their magic; it was only with control of ones emotions that they could control their magic. Both Evanora and Theodora were always too quick to anger. The emotion was hostile and violate, uncontrollable in nature, making them predictable and capable of being outwitted.
Evanora threw energy after energy ball at her. Each one repelled or absorbed by her wand, just making the older witch angrier.
"Do something!" Evanora yelled at Theodora, who had been stagnant after her initial attack.
Glinda dared to shift her eyes to Theodora and saw the momentary conflict that was easily overcome and she too began to throw flame after flame at her.
With both women attacking her simultaneously Glinda couldn't deflect all of their attacks. She focused on keeping her upper body safe, the skirt of her dress burnt from both fire and electricity. If they continued like this, the sisters would eventually tire out, but not before they got the upper hand.
Glinda gritted her teeth as flames scorched up her ankle to her knee, the burnt dress turning to ash under the intense flame. The pain caused her to lose enough concentration for Evanora's whip of energy to wrap around her thigh.
Evanora cackled. "We've got you now, Princess. Have fun ruling Oz as a corpse!"
The current of dark energy and the searing pain of the flame over her leg caused Glinda to scream. "You first, you bitch!"
Glinda battled both elements away as she allowed herself to drop towards the floor as if losing the ability to fly. Centimeters before she touched the ground she was flying back up to meet them again, this time taking the offensive. She tossed a ball of ice towards both women and smirked as Theodora protected Evanora against her attack. It allowed for two things. Glinda to see that all hope was not lost with Theodora, and that her plan worked. The room fell into a haze as the ice turned to a foggy mist, allowing her to put herself behind the two sisters.
Theodora screeched as she and Evanora bumped into each other.
Her grip on her wand tightened as she fought against the pain in her leg and waist, and blocked another of Theodora's flames and caused it to bounce back at the witch through the fog.
"Clever little witch, but not cleaver enough." Theodora spoke into the fog.
Glinda's eyes widened as from right in front of her Theodora pulled in her magic and released it in a bursting wave of flame, the fog around them evaporating, but also forcing her back several feet.
Glinda's eyes watered, momentarily blind from the attack. She raised her wand and created a simple shield around her while she recovered. Glinda pointed her wand down at the ground and released a bright flash of light to disable the other witches long enough for her to regroup.
Glinda heard Evanora and Theodora gasp in pain as they were thrown back by the release of light energy. Someone fell to the ground beneath them.
While they clutched at their eyes, both blinded.
Glinda shook her eyes and blinked, tears falling from them. She couldn't see clearly; she could see shapes and figures but everything was blurry. Too blurry. There was too much damage to her eyes for it just to take a moment to heal. The fire light released had done more damage than Glinda thought it could.
However she didn't have time to worry. She was too busy raising her arms up to defend herself as Evanora soared towards her with a sickening scream. The speed behind Evanora pushed them into the center of the throne room, several feet above the throne itself. Glinda could see the outline of Evanora's face a foot away from her own but she could not make out the distinct features of the woman she had known all her life.
"You're weak. Just like your father. Blinded by hope and belief in something more, something greater that does not exist. Love blinds, Glinda. It does not lead you to happiness. It is not the key to anything but misery and pain."
Glinda's arms shook with the effort it took to hold back the dark energy from reaching her skin. Evanora was a master of energy, dark only because of the caster's darkness. Glinda's own white energy was weak in comparison.
There was a moment of shock upon the older witch's face at the sight of Glinda's form of electricity used to counter Evanora's. What Theodora and Evanora did not know was her true ability to manipulate all the elements. A stronger and more advanced magic that her father had been teaching her before his death and a magic she had perfected in her three years of exile.
"You're wrong ." Glinda bit out, flinching at the touch of Evanora's magic. "Your hatred and anger make you blind, cause you to act without thinking." As they both had done many times tonight. It was their weakness, what they had all counted on to make their plans work.
"You're a fool!"
The two witches spun faster and faster up towards the ceiling, the air around them kicking up dust and dirt and manipulating the very seams of time around them.
"No. You're the fool. Love makes you strong, it leads you to something greater than yourself."
Glinda could feel Theodora's approach and knew something had to be done now or she would be in the one position she could not afford to be in: the middle.
"It makes you greater than you were before." With a deep breath Glinda used the gem that hung from her crown to block the second stream of energy Evanora tried to release against her face.
With a swift kick the air around the room shifted. It turned into a strong gust of controlled energy and smacked Theodora in the chest, throwing the approaching witch backwards into the wall with audible 'THUDS'. One echoing as she hit the wall and the second sounding as she came to rest on the floor.
"Impossible!" Evanora cried recognizing her manipulation of another element.
With Theodora no longer an impending obstacle, Glinda focused her energy into her diamond, her hand reaching out for the enchanted emerald her father had gifted to Evanora many years ago.
The glow of her diamond brightening steadily until the entire room was bathed in blinding white light and the energy trapped around them in their vortex exploded, throwing both witches back from each other. They landed on opposite sides of the room, Glinda hitting the wall hard only to tumble down a full flight of stairs.
Her entire body throbbed in pain as she attempted to lift her head up from her arm. She winced and moaned as she tilted her head to the side. Her ears rang while her body began to throb, the entirety of it bruised and emanating the pain the fall had caused.
There was movement somewhere, Glinda could feel it. It forced her to move faster, make her body do as she wanted it to. She tried to stand, to lift herself up by her arms. All she could do was lift her head up, craning her neck. Before her she could make out two figures. The ringing in her ears continued, making it impossible to hear what was being said or what exactly was going on. The injury to her eyes made it difficult to distinguish why the two figures weren't coming closer.
Glinda blinked and slowly lifted her chest up off the floor, pushing with her palm so she was turned onto her side, looking out towards the center of the throne room. Glinda stretched her jaw and worked it to try and get the silence in her ears to dissipate.
"You, you can't. Please sister, please." Theodora begged as she pushed against Evanora's shoulders to keep her older sister away from Glinda's fallen form. She had opened her eyes from her fall to see Glinda crumpled upon the floor with Evanora standing above her smirking in victory. Glinda was helpless to do anything to defend herself and it pulled at something inside her chest that she thought long dead.
"I must, I must do it now. Her power her power Theodora " Evanora's voice was soft but the fear and reverence for the power Glinda had exhibited was physically felt with the words.
"She will kill us. We have taken her kingdom. We will be burned Theodora. Burned. They will burn us. See reason sister. She will lock us away, cage us, drag us before the public and kill us. She must die! There will be no mercy." Evanora was becoming desperate as she tried to push back against Theodora even as she limped with each step she took and the pain in her chest worsened with each breath she took.
Theodora looked over her shoulder at Glinda. Her hands were still firm against her sister's shoulders to hold her back, up both. She watched as Glinda moaned, moving slowly to stare up at them.
No mercy. They would be burned. Caged. Theodora could not be caged. She would rather die than remain here locked behind enchanted walls as Glinda lived her happily ever after without her. Glinda stared right at her, and there was no kindness there, no recognition. Evanora was right. There would be no mercy.
Theodora dropped her hands away from Evanora's shoulders. Evanora walked around her slowly, using her shoulder to keep her standing. Theodora felt her begin to pull magic towards her but then something changed. Something happened.
Theodora snapped her head to the side at the sound of Evanora's pained gasp, "What have you done to me?"
Theodora caught Evanora around the waist and watched in horror as her sister's skin started to sag and melt off of her, revealing an old crone who was nothing more than skin and bone. Theodora's eyes stared at Evanora's bare chest before she glared at Glinda.
Glinda looked down at the mess of blackening rock in her hand, the emerald destroyed. She forced herself to stand up, leaning heavily against the wall to do so. She looked at the fallen women, wishing she could make out what was truly happening before her.
"What did you do!?" Theodora screamed as she looked to her only living family growing closer to death before her very eyes.
"I took what she held most dear to her." Glinda explained, swallowing thickly against the bile rising in her throat at the pain in and around her. "Her power."
Theodora put Evanora down gently and watched a single tear fall from her sister's eyes as she curled up upon herself and cried at what she had just lost because she stopped her. Because she had made her wait.
"Curse you!" Theodora threw herself at Glinda, flinching as the blonde raised her wand. She had no control over which direction she was suddenly traveling in. There was a sharp pain in her back as she crashed through the window and fell over the balcony. She stopped herself from falling to the ground beneath her at the last minute. As the wicked witch looked up she gasped and soared upward, her arms extended to catch her sister as she too came flying over the balcony. Before she made it to Evanora, two of her flying baboons did and they carried her away to safety.
Theodora flew up towards the balcony and saw Glinda standing at the edge staring at her, a small smile coming over her lips. She snarled in return and called her broom to her. "I'll get you my pretty one. You and your Wizard too!" She promised before she flew off towards the west leaving Glinda and the citizens of Oz to celebrate in their victory. For now.
Glinda's shoulders sagged as she watched the blurry black figure of Theodora fly away. The relief she had felt at seeing the green skinned witch flying just before the balcony had been intense. It almost dwarfed the pain. Almost.
"Theodora " Glinda wheezed, the sound of triumphant cheers and cries echoing around her. "Come back."
Glinda felt her legs give out and the sharp pain of broken glass cutting into her back as she collapsed to the cold stone beneath her and everything faded away.
'Past to Present to Future'
"What is all of this?" Councilman Geoffrey questioned, looking around the throne room. Glinda took in the scene carefully. It had been five days since she had buried her father. She had just returned to Emerald City after burying him in Gillikin where he had wished to be interned beside her mother's grave.
Those Councilman and dignitaries and officials that had left the capital city with her stood behind her. At the doors there were men in uniforms that Glinda did not recognize, and beside her father's throne Glinda recognized Evanora dressed in a shimmering green and black gown. Her father's green emerald hung from a necklace on her chest and it glowed softly. Just behind Evanora Glinda could make out Theodora and several of the new uniformed guards.
"This is an uprising." Councilman Rowl stated as he stood to Evanora's right.
"The Princess has been found guilty of murder." Evanora's voice rang clear into the room, the vibrations of her words knocking Glinda back a half step in shock.
"Murder!?" Glinda gaspe,d the men around her as shocked as she was, while those that had been in the throne room before they'd arrived remained unaffected by the pronouncement.
Glinda stared at the faces of the men who'd served on the council with her father. She searched them for some kind of explanation to this madness, but found none. When her eyes landed upon Theodora the younger girl turned her head, looking away from her almost immediately.
The guards that had been by the door pushed through the crowd behind Glinda. Many of the men pushed back against them to keep them from apprehending Glinda.
"What madness is this!?" Geoffrey shouted as he pushed the guards that had come at them from the front away from Glinda.
Several of the men formed a protective circle around Glinda and did their best to hold back the Winkie guards. They were no match for the wide built men. Many of the councilmen were doing their best to remain standing without the use of their canes which were quickly grabbed, kicked, or thrown away when they tried to use them to hold off their adversaries.
"The Princess had committed no such crime!"
"She is the rightful ruler."
"Treason, this is treason!"
Those loyal to Glinda cried out at the injustice while Glinda and her dwindling number of supports were pressed against the wall, a semi-circle of loyalists between Glinda and a wall of Winkie guards and a horde of people looking for her head.
Glinda looked to the throne and saw Evanora smiling down at her. Challenging her, taunting her.
'You let these old men fight for you. Hide behind the weak.' Glinda cringed as Evanora's voice rang in her ears even as the witch's mouth remained still.
Turning around at the sound of Geoffrey's groan, she watched him fall, blood spilling between his fingers as he held it against his wounded head.
"Stop " Glinda's voice broke, too soft to be heard over the mass hysteria filling the room as those loyal to her did their best to defend her. Seeing a guard knock Miya, an elderly woman who'd helped her mother nurse her as an infant, Glinda snapped.
"STOOOPPP!!" She screamed, the opposing force falling onto their haunches as her magic blew them back, the diamond she wore on her wrist as a bracelet thrusting them all back.
Those who were still standing helped their comrades up to their feet while the Winkie Guards and many of the councilmen crowded behind the throne and Evanora and Theodora. Glinda pushed passed the overly protective councilmen who wished to stand for her. She placed herself between them and their enemies. Her hands formed a circle against her stomach, creating a barrier between her group and Evanora's. Her heart ached as she had to look at Theodora as she stood on the other side of it.
"Poison was found in the King's glass. A glass you insisted he drink from." Rowl pointed a shaking finger at Glinda.
"I would never hurt my father!"
"We watched you hand him the glass!" An unseen councilman shouted.
"That does not mean I poisoned him! I adore " She swallowed, tears pricking her eyes. "..adored him!"
Theodora took a small step forward, separating herself from the group that stood behind Evanora, the woman making her own singular group free from both. "A vial of the same poison was found in your personal effects." The brunette announced, her voice shaky, eyes pleading with Glinda to prove the evidence false.
"It was planted!" Someone called out from behind Glinda.
"She was gone for days."
"The murderer planted it!"
"Lies, all lies."
"She did it, the proof cannot be disproved!"
"We thought her innocent too "
"She is guilty."
"She wished to take the throne."
"She would have inherited it in two years."
Glinda ignored the voices and their back and forth arguments, focusing instead on keeping her barrier up and keeping eye contact with Theodora.
Glinda's voice was soft as she leaned forward slightly, "I did not do this, Theo." She beseeched Theodora to believe her with the look in her eyes and the truth of her words. It seemed as if she did as a small smile lit up her face before Evanora stepped forward and tried to break through the barrier.
"We witnessed the fight between your father and you. We know how unhappy you were with him." Evanora included Theodora, causing a flame of doubt to burn again in the expressive eyes.
"Fight? What fight?" Glinda could not recall fighting with her father.
"In the third hall, do you deny what we saw to be true?"
"We we did see you." Theodora's voice was weaker than Evanora's, proof that she wasn't as assured of this all as Evanora was.
Glinda had to think what they could mean, what fight they could be talking about. Then it hit her, slapped her as hard across the face as Evanroa had the night of her ball. The sparing match, her lesson with him.
"You used magic against him. He defended himself, belittling you."
He had, he had been trying to anger her, get her to lose her focus and lash out. He was trying to teach her to control her emotions and thus control her magic, better it.
"No, it wasn't like that. He was teaching me! Tutoring me."
"You expect us to believe that?" Evanora challenged, her supporters nodding their heads. "Why should we when you lie, lie all the time about important matters." Evanora dug in, causing Glinda and Theodora to flinch at the implications. Whatever doubt Theodora had in her quilt diminished a bit more at Evanora's reminder of the mistakes Glinda had made.
"Because it's the truth!" Glinda yelled, bending forward as she did so her arms pulling in closer to herself.
Glinda knew what the scene could look like from the outside. She hadn't been able to control her emotions. He had picked at her insecurities, her fears, and he had spoken ill of Theodora. She had lost control of her emotions, her anger getting the better of her. She had lashed out at him and he had easily been able to overpower and outsmart her. He was disappointed but knew that it would take practice. He had apologized afterwards for the things he said, promising he had not meant them as he kissed the top of her forehead.
"Please, Theodora, I did not do this." Glinda could care less if the misogynistic men behind Evanora believed her. It only mattered to her if Theodora did. Theodora just needed to believe in her and this would all fall away. She could derive the strength she needed in the faith Theodora had in her.
"Do not speak to her directly again." Evanora put herself in front of Theodora, blocking Glinda from making eye contact with her. "You will not fool us again. Make us think you are sincere, honest, kind. You are conniving, dishonest, and wicked. You are the witch antagonizing our peaceful land. You crave chaos, needed it to distract us all from your plan to steal the throne from your father, a great and powerful and righteous man."
Evanora invigorated her supporters and the guards began hitting their staves against the barrier she had created. Each blow caused a sting in Glinda's skin as the barrier remained connected to her physically.
"No. No, never, I would never!" Glinda shook her head from side to side, wondering how this could have all happened so quickly. She had come home expecting to retire to her room to mourn alone before waking in the morning to take on the duties that befell her as the only heir to the throne. Not come home to find her castle stormed by traitors looking for her head for a crime she did not commit.
"Back up " Glinda insisted of the people behind her. They could not win this. Not now. Not like this, so outnumbered and unprepared. Glinda found Theodora's eyes around Evanora's shoulder. She needed the innocent to leave. She could not openly defy and fight Evanora with so many helpless there for Evanora and her guards to pick off.
'Go with them.' Glinda begged and watched Theodora's eyes widen at the request. 'I will allow you through the barrier.'
Evanora's grip on Theodora's arm tightened. "Leave now with your life, but with the knowledge that we all know of your vileness."
"No, I will not." Glinda looked behind her and was glad to see that there were only a few men remaining and those that did were well trained in self-defense. "Go with the others. Get them to safety."
"My mother's castle." They were hesitant to leave her behind, but they did as she asked, leaving her in a room surrounded by her new enemies and her true love.
"This is my castle, my home, my kingdom. I will not abandon my people to be ruled over by any of you sniveling cowardly men!" The councilmen in question bristled at the insult, but did not step out from behind the Winkie guards. "You hide behind lies and falsities so that they might see themselves upon the throne."
"They will not rule. Oz will."
"Oz?" Glinda asked.
"The great and powerful Wizard that will come and smite you for your wickedness. He will rule!"
Glinda laughed at the absurdity of that claim. She knew her father's last words and that these men had taken them as this tickled Glinda, even in this stressful situation. "You would give the throne to a man you do not know over me? The woman you've known since infancy, and who you know is incapable of murder?" They nodded, "Have you gone MAD!?"
"No. We have not. We believed in your father and his prophecy." Evanora called out, as if championing her father. 'The fool that he was.'
"You bitch!" Glinda stepped forward menacingly, her anger overwhelming her at the nerve of the woman responsible for her father's death 'championing' anything of his.
"Temper, see what a temper she has!" Evanora pointed out, stepping back a bit as if in fear so the men around her would believe her charade.
"Curse you, you did this! You killed him!" Glinda pointed an accusing finger at Evanora, causing a gasp to echo around the room as those present absorbed her accusation.
"Me? You only wish to blame another for your actions?" Evanora shook her head sadly. "Accept your guilt, Glinda. And then maybe your soul can be saved."
Glinda stepped forward, a swirl of magic energizing the air around her.
'Come any closer and I will kill her.'
Glinda's steps faltered as she stared at Evanora and her grip on Theodora's arm. She shot her eyes to see the guard behind Theodora with his pointed staff slowly moving to point at her.
Glinda did not need to speak or push any of her thoughts at Evanora for the older woman to recognize her fear and disbelief.
'Test me then, watch her die before your very eyes.'
Glinda's hands tightened into fists at her side and she glared at Evanora, her eyes burning with hate. "I will be back." Glinda promised Evanora, her eyes flickering to Theodora's shocked countenance. "Mark my words, this is not over."
Glinda pushed the energy around her at the group in front of her. She knocked them all over, save for Theodora and Evanora who deflected the magic, as she turned on her heels and ran.
Glinda sat up quickly, pivoted her protesting body grabbed a hold of the arm in front of her and twisted so she tumbled down to the ground atop her attacker. Her heart raced and she blinked, unable to see anything.
"Whoa " Oscar complained as he was held down, "Ah, ah, ah, my arms, jezush, no need to break mah arm. I swears I was ah gentlemanly!"
"Oscar?" Glinda released her hold on Oscar's arm and pushed away from him. She stumbled and bumped into something.
"Easy there, Princess." Loyl spoke as his calloused hands gently held onto her shoulders to steady her.
"What, I, I can't see " Glinda raised her hands up slowly to her eyes and sighed in relief as she touched cloth, explaining why she couldn't see anything.
"Yes, you took quite the beating." The tisk of disapproval rang clear in Loyl's tone. "You'll be able to take those off in another day or so."
Glinda's shoulders sagged. There was a bit of stiffness in her muscles and the discomfort and pain she'd felt before was a dull ache now. "How long have I been asleep this time?"
"Well, Sleepin' Beawty, it's been a week since I drove off the " Loyl cleared his throat pointedly. "Since we drove off the wicked witches. You've ah missed most of the womans work. Yah know, the clean-up."
"Oscar and I have been handling everything in your absence." Loyl interjected.
Glinda sat back down, happy to land on her bed, "A week!?"
"The healers thought it best to let you heal on your own terms. Like I said, you took quite the beating." Loyl repeated, the tone broking no argument from Glinda.
Glinda gently prodded at the cloth around her head, and was gently slapped to keep from touching it. "I feel like I've been run over by a family of horses of a different color."
Loyl laughed while Oscar uttered something she couldn't make out. Only then realizing that she did not know who else was in the room, where she was located, and how their 'troops' had faired.
"What of everyone else?"
"Fine, fine, they're fine. The Baboons have left and resettled just east of Munchkinland with Evanora."
"How close are they to the cities?" Glinda questioned, looking in the direction she believed Loyl to be standing in.
He sighed. "We'll have to keep an eye on them."
Glinda knew Loyl well enough to know that meant Evanora and her Baboons were rather close to the cities and it might require actions to be taken if they disturbed the populations around them.
"What of Theodora?"
There was a moment of silence between the two men, making her think they had purposefully left out information about Theodora.
"Your witchedy witch witch has takefen refuugge in ah, Kimono CoCo."
Glinda could feel Loyl's eye roll. "Kiamo Ko." The tinker stressed the proper syllables for the outsider.
"Yesh, yes, Kiamo Coo, in the Winkus."
"Vinkus." Glinda corrected this time wondering if the man was alright. Granted this was the same man who called her Wanda for several hours after knowing her name, she'd pronounced it for him several times just so he would. He could just being an ass, or truly didn't know the proper pronunciation of the Vinkus or Kiamo Ko. He wasn't from this land after all.
"Tomato, Tamato " Oscar waved off and hiccupped. "The burlies guawrds aras there wiff hehr."
"Are you intoxicated?" Glinda questioned the air around her, unable to see for herself the state Oscar was in.
"There was a feast to celebrate our victory. It appears although he could not attend in his corporal form he enjoyed himself nonetheless."
"Is not fair. I sav saved the day. I shaoulda get to party too."
"He wished to see you before I helped him find his rooms. It seems he had been lost for some time before I came across him."
Glinda wanted to giggle under her breath, sure that Oscar looked a fright, but the frustration in Loyl's voice kept her from finding the situation amusing. There were serious matters to consider. If Loyl had not been the one to find Oscar the rumors would spread and Emerald city could be attacked again.
Both witches had escaped. Only one of whom was disabled from hurting anyone else physically but neither threat was eliminated. Evanora still had loyal subjects in her Baboons, and it would appear the Winkie Guard's loyalty had shifted to Theodora and Theodora was still angry and capable of magic. If Oscar was known to not be 'all powerful' they could lose much more than they had recently gained.
Sighing, Glinda laid back in bed. "Thank you, Loyl for your continued assistance and patience."
"Anything for you, Princess Glinda." Glinda offered a grateful smile in the direction of Loyl's voice. "Alright you, let's go. I will return momentarily, Princess."
Glinda chuckled as she heard Oscar complain about Loyl hitting his ass with that cane of his as the two men's voices grew distant. Bringing her palms up to her eyes Glinda pressed them gently against her bandaged eyes and focused on her breathing. She tried to will the magic to course through her hands to heal her eyes. She could not be holed up for any longer. Now that she was awake she could attend meetings, help with assignments, hear reports, but she needed to be healed. She could not show any weakness. Not now. Oz needed her to be strong and appear that way before them, not wounded.
"Uhhh " Glinda threw her arms down onto the mattress beneath her.
"You need to rest. You used a great deal of magic. Your body needs time to recuperate."
"Yackle?" Glinda asked the sudden silence of the room. Sitting up, she listened carefully to each noise, no matter how soft. There was no answer to her inquiry. "Yackle? We thought you dead."
Yackle was one of Glinda's many tutors in magic as a child. She had been on retreat as a monastery in her home land when the Baboons attacked the monastery, killing all parishioners. The attack had been organized to eliminate Yackle as both Glinda and Evanora had been seeking the old witch's help. Glinda always assumed Yackle had refused to go with Evanora's men quietly and was defended by the Ozma priestesses.
There was still silence for several long minutes. So many, in fact, that Glinda thought she had lost her mind.
"I am not dead child." Glinda gasped at the sound of Yackle's husky voice, assured that she had not lost her mind. Not completely. "I am merely in hiding."
"Do the others kno"
"They do not."
"But, but, Loyl, he was devastated by your loss." Glinda heard the old witch sigh. The soft tap of a cane against the floor was distinguishable in the otherwise silent room before a weight rested on the edge of the bed closest to Glinda.
The blonde moved to sit up against the headboard of the bed, her ankle touching the solid form of Yackle as she moved. "I do miss that old geezer."
"You can come back. Evanora is gone, her powers gone. You don't need to hide any longer."
"I wish I could, Blondie. I wish I could."
"Why, why can't you?" Glinda did not understand. Could not understand how Yackle could choose to stay away. "Please, Oz needs good witches. The people need to see that those with magic are not all evil."
"And they will," Yackle stressed, "through you."
"I cannot do this all on my own, Yackle."
"Yes, you can, Blondie. You were always meant to."
Glinda had always thought that when the time came for her to rule over Oz she would do so with her father's presence in the shadows, his guiding hand teaching her. She had never imagined taking the throne because of his death. Had never imagined she would rule over Oz without the support she'd once had in her father, Theodora, and yes even in Evanora.
"Nothing is as you said it would be." Glinda accused the prophetic witch, pulling her legs up to her chest like a depressed child.
"No, it is just as I said it would be."
"No! When you gave me those precious gems that day you told me they would bring me happiness." Glinda wished Yackle could see her eyes so she would know just how angry she was with the witch.
The day Glinda 'found' her diamond and Theodora's ruby she had to barter for them. She had seen them upon the ground but Yackle had picked them up before she had. The witch had made a deal with Glinda. Glinda had to promise to give the ruby to someone else that was deserving of the happiness the gems could bring the owners. Yackle said if she promised to do that she could take both gems from her for nothing more.
Glinda had promised, already having Theodora in mind when she had made the promise to Yackle that she would give the ruby to another deserving person. The happiness Yackle promised may have seemed like an impossible promise, but when Glinda met Yackle again years later her father told her just how powerful Yackle was as a Seer. The witch's third eye was always in the future.
"Did it not bring you years of happiness? You and Theodora?"
Glinda grit her teeth, "You told me that I would find peace for Oz, that I would find happiness even in my darkest hour." Glinda would not allow Yackle to play her word games with her, not now. "Oz is at war and I have come to my darkest hour and left it with nothing, alone."
Yackle chuckled and patted Glinda's knee, and if Glinda didn't know better she would think the witch did so patronizingly.
"Oh my dear Snow Flake, your darkest hour has yet to come. This is merely sunset. You have quite a ways to go before you come to your darkest hour." Yackle squeezed Glinda's knee. "But as I told you then, Princess." Yackle put one of her hands over Glinda's eyes, her unique potent scent wafting to Glinda's nose, making it twitch.
"Do not fret over it. Do not let the darkness consume you, too." Yackle's voice grew distant and her touch softer and softer. "For it is always darkest before the dawn, Blondie, and your dawning will be magnificent. All of Oz for centuries to come will speak of it. So do us all a favor and take it easy for a while. Your green witch can wait. Oz cannot." Until her touches disappeared completely.
Glinda brought her hand up to the bandages over her eyes and slowly untied them. She unwrapped the cloth and blinked slowly as she took in the dark room around her. She was in her old chambers. Her things were no longer present, having been removed, but she recognized it as her own.
As she looked around the room and at the spot where Yackle had been sitting a moment before, no one was there. The indentation of a person's weight was slowly righting itself and the smell of Yackle's body odor remained in the air around her. Shaking her head solemnly Glinda stared into the empty room. "Thank you, old woman."
Eight Months Later
"What do you mean they've lost her?" The table shook with the force of Glinda's fist slamming down upon the surface. The men and women around the table jumped in fear, having never seen the Good Witch of the North so angry before.
"I, I it uhm " The munchkin man looked between those behind him before facing the witch in front of him.
"There were sightings of her leaving the Witch of the East's tower " he swallowed thickly, his Adam's apple visibly trembling, " she never arrived back at Kiamo Ko. She has been quick, Lady Glinda. Very quick, she keeps out of sight mostly when we do spot her it is only for short periods of time."
"She knows that we know where she lives. Why keep so secluded? Why hasn't she come back yet?" Glinda asked to herself, pondering aloud what had been bothering her for these long eight months.
"Terrorizing the munchkins again, Glinda? That's hardly nice."
Glinda slowly looked over her shoulder to see the large projection of smoke and shadow that made out Oscar's 'Wizard' appearance. They had created two more projection systems so that Oscar might appear in different areas. Creating the portable projection unit had been difficult, but with Glinda's magic and Oscar and Loyl's understanding of machinery they had succeeded. Now, Ozma forbid they needed Oscar to appear in random areas around the castle or the city, they could do so remotely without him ever leaving the castle.
Glinda glared at Oscar's visage before forcing herself to take several deep breaths. It had been eight months since the Great Battle of Emerald City took place. Eight long months had been spent working through political, sovereign, and theocratic nonsense. Glinda had yet to take the throne officially as Oscar was still considered King, although he was not given the title of King, rather Wizard. At least Glinda and the politicians agreed that a non-corporal man could not be crowned King. But apparently he was capable of ruling Oz while she, fully corporal and powerful, was not.
It had only been thirty two weeks and Glinda was at her wits end. If she was expected to continue on as this 'advisor' when it was truly her ruling the entirety of Oz, she would go mad. And if Oscar made one more comment about her derrière looking lovely in the leather pants she was wearing, she would kill him herself.
"I apologize Grook, I am frustrated. Her ability to slip past our watchers is a bit unnerving. For all we know she could be hidden somewhere here in the City." Glinda knew that Theodora was not in fact in the city, but scaring the people in front of her wouldn't hurt anyone. Let them realize just how important keeping proper tabs on Theodora was, if only by recognizing her anger. This wasn't just for Glinda's benefit but for theirs as well.
Glinda may selfishly wish to know where Theodora was at every moment but the mission of keeping an eye on the Wicked Witch of the West was not completely selfish. There were practical reasons as well, and if Oscar would stop joking about her infatuation with Theodora being the main cause, everyone else might understand those serious reasons as well. Theodora was still a mystery to them all. She had been quiet, as had Evanora, but Theodora made regular visits to her sister. They were planning something and until they knew what, everyone had to be on guard.
They were slowly rebuilding Oz and the decimated villages and cities Evanora and her Baboons had left behind. China Town was now reconstructed, and calls for those who had escaped the attack to return had been made weeks ago. The city wasn't thriving, not yet, but its citizens were returning from hiding.
Glinda had wished to follow Theodora immediately after her recovery, but Yackle's warning had kept her in Oz to rebuild the city before she sought Theodora out herself. She had almost given in to her desires to see Theodora a number of times. Each time something 'catastrophic' took place that kept her away. Kept her busy or locked away in chambers discussing policy with enraged citizens. Truly why it had taken so very long to reestablish a command over Oz, when command hadn't really been lost just taken over by a dictator was beyond Glinda.
If it weren't for all the political tape she had to cut through things would have been finished months ago and she could have gone to see Theodora then. Now, she was still bound to the city. At least until she could just trust Oscar to handle things in the Emerald City for a few days without her. Then she could leave. Sadly, she couldn't even trust Oscar with remembering how to use the secret passageways located through the castle to get to the throne room.
"It is alright, Glinda the Good." Glinda did her best not to cringe at the new title. She couldn't be Princess when there was a 'king' on the throne that was not her father. It 'warmed' her heart, a little, to know that the people of Oz and the politicians trusted her enough to inherit the throne if Oscar abdicated. But only then, and only if she had a partner to rule beside her, because she was so incapable of doing it now.
"Gork, do as Glinda the Good says. It is important to know where our enem " Glinda cleared her throat pointedly. "Our opposers are at all times."
"Yes, Wizard, sir." Grook bowed, as did the other munchkins behind him. They were quick to exit the throne room.
Glinda turned towards the curtains that hid Oscar from view, her arms crossed tightly over her chest as she glowered in his direction. "She disappeared after visiting Evanora. This is not something to joke about or find amusing. We do not know what she is planning, what she is capable of. You cannot continue to trivialize my interest in her."
If Glinda's looking glass spell worked on Evanora or Theodora there would not be this problem. It seemed the two were quick to find a way around the magic form of spying, a trick of the trade Glinda was going to have to borrow. More like figure it out rather than borrow. It unnerved her to no end. She herself had not laid eyes on Theodora in eight long months. She only had the words of spies and scouts that saw her from afar upon her broom or in the distance on the ground behind lines of guards. At least before she could 'look in' on Theodora to know how she was fairing. Nowadays it was impossible and it left her on edge and, well, cranky.
"But it makes you such a pretty red color when I do," Oscar said as the ominous looking display of smoke above the throne. "Like you are right now."
Glinda stomped her foot. "Oh, enough of that. Come out and speak with me."
"Ah, I think I'll stay right here until you cool down." Oscar chuckled. "You've gotten crankier and crankier. Perhaps you should consider calling one of those lovely servant girls into your chambers to help alleviate some stress. I can recommend the better ones."
Glinda huffed before she turned on her heels and stormed out of the throne room, the doors slamming back against the wall as she stalked towards Loyl's office.
"Princess, how may I help you?" Loyl asked; he and only a few others continued to address her as Princess while alone. "Oh my, what has he done this time?"
"Did you know he has been taking women to his rooms?"
"Did you expect him to change overnight, Glinda?" Loyl sighed as he returned to his work, his eyes focusing on the magnifying glass as he cauterized some wire.
The spats between Glinda and Oscar were nothing new to him. They were like bickering children; Glinda the mature older sister and Oscar the annoying little brother. Which made him the uncle, or in most situations the father, as he more often than not was the voice of reason between the two.
"He is still the same man he was when he came here, merely with more power and the ability to recognize a serious situation."
Glinda sighed heavily as she took a seat on the couch in Loyl's work room. "I need to be able to trust him."
Loyl leaned away from his work table. He inspected the dark circles under Glinda's eyes and noticed that she had lost even more weight from last week. "Perhaps it is time to let him surprise you."
"Surprise me? The man is hardly capable of doing anything according to plan."
Loyl stood up and slowly made his way to the couch to sit beside Glinda.
"You have been here from the very beginning to pick up his messes. Maybe it's time that you work on picking up your own and let him deal with his. You can't always be here to protect what he stands for." He took a seat beside the Princess and rested his cane against the arm of the couch. "Besides, maybe he won't surprise you but you'll have cleaned up your mess with Theodora and it won't matter if he is found out or not. After all, I'm much rather see you upon that throne than him."
Glinda rested her head on Loyl's shoulder and thought on his advice. "I'll make the arrangements. Make it appear as if I am going on a spiritual retreat. I'll find her and I'll make her see."
"I have no doubt that you will. Just, do so quickly. I fear I do not have as much patience as you do Princess. I may throttle the boy before you come back."
Glinda laughed. "I'd grant you a full pardon. After all, that man makes even the sanest of men crazy."
Loyl chuckled. "Isn't that the truth."
"I'm scared," Glinda admitted after their moment had passed. It had been so long, what if she could not reach Theodora any longer? What if she had missed her chance to save her?
He pulled Glinda into a tighter hug and kissed the top of her head. "I'm scared for you, but we have to have faith. If you think there is still hope for Theodora to be reached, then I believe it too. There is no one on this earth that knows her better, and no one else I'd trust to reach her."
Glinda turned her head up as it rested on Loyl's shoulder and met his eyes. He truly did believe in her, believed in her ability to save Theodora. Now, she just had to believe as well.
'Happily Never After'
Glinda poked at the fire she had started several hours before. The weather was bitter the closer she came to the mountain ranges and she could not risk flying in this area as there were many Animals that claimed the territory and might view her as a threat. Shivering, Glinda pulled her cloak tighter around herself. She had taken shelter for the night beneath a rocky ridge that lead into the valley several kilometers before the start of the mountains. Glinda had passed a traveling caravan the day before who spoke of meetings taking place between a Vinkus representative and tribe leaders. Glinda bet everything she owned that the representative from the Vinkus was Theodora.
Glinda had perfected her 'fly by bubble' routine because of Theodora. As children they had loved chasing after bubbles, popping them, creating them, watching them fly high into the air out of their reach before bursting to shower down on them. Countless hours had been spent playing in such a fashion and even more time had been spent in her room perfecting her bubble magic. But traveling by bubble had been out of the question lately.
Come morning, however, she was forgoing her decision not to travel by bubble and heading back to Kiamo Ko to wait for Theodora's return. She could not go traipsing all over Oz following after the woman as she was. She was not prepared for this kind of task. She hated the cold. She was the Good Witch of the South after all.
It had been six days since she had left Emerald City. Leaving the capitol in the hands of Oscar Zoroaster Diggs was no easy feat. It had taken her two months to secure her plans to leave to begin with. The man was completely incapable and without the sworn contracts with several loyalists Glinda would have returned to a disaster. Loyl promised to do his best to keep things under control for as long as she needed, which was only slightly assuring. Still, there was hope yet that Oscar might out himself, thus relieving her of any unneeded stresses and ridding her of the conman from Kansas.
It had been two days since she had left the Saint Galinda Monastery in Gillikin where she was supposed to be staying during her retreat. If anyone asked, she was cloistered for meditation and was fasting, so she was not to be disturbed. Glinda did not expect anyone to follow her closely, but to keep her charade in place she kept herself hidden. Her mother had once spent her youth in the halls of the Monastery as the priestesses took in orphaned or abandoned children.
Many times they found families for the children, like her mother, or they raised them in the monastery. Glinda had come here many times with her mother before her death. Her father was so grateful to the women who had taken care of her mother that he often allotted funds just for the Monastery and charity balls.
Glinda had always turned her nose up to such functions, but when Theodora had moved into the castle she hadn't minded attending if she had company her own age. Theodora had asked her once why there was a big ball for a holy place, and specifically this one. Glinda hadn't understood the true importance of it but she knew that her mother and father respected the Priestesses of the monastery and she'd told Theodora all the good things that the Priestesses did for orphans. She'd told her about the children Glinda had been able to play with who didn't have mommies and daddies but were taken care of by the women that dedicated their lives to the Unnamed God and Ozma's return. As they grew older they learned of all the important work the Priestess did for orphaned children, women in need, and the poor all around Gillikin and the other districts of Oz.
She was going to be sure to broach this subject with Oscar when she returned to Oz. The funding put to such places like this could not be withdrawn. They would continue to hold the charity balls or Glinda would make his life a living hell. Worse than the living hell he helped make hers.
As a cover it made sense for Glinda to retreat in such a sacredly held place for her.
Glinda traveled by air only at night and on foot off the main roads during the day. She rested when she could, where she could. Time had been of the essence.
While she was at the Monastery she was informed by one of the priestesses that a green skinned woman and company had come through the area not five days ago heading South towards the mountain ranges. Theodora and company had stopped at the Monastery for refuge during the storm that had held Glinda up from leaving the Emerald City earlier.
And here she was, freezing as she fought to keep her feeble flames alive with the gusting bitter wind whirling around her. She should have stayed at the Monastery another night, but she had wanted to find Theodora, catch up with her. She had been too hasty. She needed to do this properly.
Come morning she was most certainly traveling by bubble.
It took her three days, where she only slept for four hours a day before resuming her flight, to reach Kiamo Ko. When she arrived she noted the patrols that the Winkie Guards conducted but they lacked security on the west tower of the former royal castle. The hour was late, nearly early in the morning when she entered the castle undetected through the balcony on the fifth floor of the west tower.
She did not expect to walk into Theodora's personal chambers. Nor did she expect to find the green skinned woman waiting in a chair by the fireplace, facing her. Theodora crossed her right leg over her left and stared, just stared at Glinda. At least Glinda knew Theodora was aware of her presence, though she had yet to be greeted and she herself stood stock still.
"You never were very good at keeping yourself hidden. You'd always giggle while playing hide and seek as children." The doors behind Glinda flew closed, making her jump in surprise though she never looked away from Theodora.
Glinda didn't see how this pertained to anything. As if knowing her train of thought, Theodora clarified.
"You make too much noise, disturb things," Theodora explained as she slowly stood from her chair. "You're not a very talented sneak, Glinda. And you're not one for prayer, especially secluded fasting prayer." Theodora's eyes raked over Glinda's body. "Though you certainly look as if you haven't been eating well." She walked across the room and smiled to herself as Glinda remained stationary. Her head and eyes were the only part of her body capable of moving. "I've been waiting."
"I, I can't move." Glinda shivered as Theodora's long nail scraped across her cheek as she circled her.
"Handy little spell I learned from my sister," Theodora whispered into Glinda's ear, her hands grasping either of Glinda's forearms as she leaned over her shoulder to speak into her ear. "See, you fell right into my trap. I knew it would only be a matter of time before you came for me yourself. Ten months though, Glinda, I expected more from you."
Glinda turned her head to watch as Theodora moved confidently across the room towards something that rested in the corner. Glinda's eyes widened as Theodora revealed her own crystal ball. "Fashioned just like your father's. Seeing as his is still nestled away in Emerald City I thought it prudent to create another."
Confidence, poise, self-assurance; Theodora exuded it all. There was a maturity about her that had not been a part of her nature ten months ago. This development of character worried Glinda. That, and there was a darkness in Theodora's eyes that had only grown since the last time she had seen her.
Theodora held the crystal ball in her palm and waved her hand over it, a purple fog swirled around inside the ball before it slowly revealed Emerald City and the castle where Glinda watched as Oscar sat at a table with Knock, China Girl, and Loyl eating dinner.
Glinda cursed inwardly, she had not thought to protect the castle against spying enchantments such as a crystal ball, foolish in her belief that her father's was the only one as he was the only one powerful enough to create one.
"It seems the Wizard is as whole as you and I." Theodora looked up from the crystal ball to meet Glinda's horrified countenance.
A smirk pulled at her lips to catch Glinda so off guard. She did not wish to look away but turned to replace the crystal ball where she kept it hidden inside her cabinet under lock and key, the cabinet enchanted to open only for her.
"Is that why you've been traveling? Collecting allies to attack?" Glinda tried to force her legs to move, to take a step and make her arms sway, even just a little. Nothing happened. She remained as still as she had been moments before. She was trapped and unless she could decipher what type of binding spell Theodora had used she would remain that way.
Theodora shook her head as she walked back to stand in front of Glinda. "No. I have no interest in the throne. I'll leave that sabotage for you to handle, my pretty one."
"Me? What makes you think that I "
"Do not try my patience Glinda. I have been watching you " Theodora cupped Glinda's cheek, her thumb brushing slowly over the skin as her purple eyes bore into Glinda's.
Glinda's eyes fluttered at the touch, unconsciously turning into Theodora's touch before she could stop herself. She cleared her throat, forcing herself to stay on topic. "So why?"
Theodora scraped the tip of her thumb down to Glinda's jaw as she allowed her hand to fall away from the blonde's cheek. "I have been recently inspired to do a bit more undercover political work." Theodora watched understanding dawn in Glinda's eyes.
"The Underground? You've entered the Underground?" Glinda's jaw dropped the slightest bit. The Underground was a political organization of rebels that demanded freedom from all sovereign rule in Oz. "You said you have no wish for the throne."
"I don't," Theodora assured over her shoulder as she walked away from Glinda to pour herself something to drink. "I think there should be no throne."
Glinda had never known Theodora to be anti-monarch. "Even if I were to rule?"
Theodora drank slowly from her glass. "Even if you were to rule. There is one rightful ruler of Oz, Glinda."
Glinda nodded. "Yes, Ozma," the Good witch agreed. "But until she returns, how should Oz fair under democracy? Would people who know the taste of democratic rule so easily return to being ruled over when She returns?"
Theodora seemed to consider Glinda's opinion as she stared out the curved window at the night visage of Vinkus land.
When it seemed Theodora had no reply to her Glinda sighed, her chin resting against her chest. "Release me, Theodora." Glinda waited until the green skinned woman looked to her before she added, "Please."
She seemed to consider it. "No."
"Very well then." Glinda did not attempt to break free from the spell. She was not here to fight with Theodora. She was rather thrilled that their meeting had not come to blows or a screaming match yet.
"Why have you come, Glinda?" Theodora slowly turned to meet Glinda's eyes once more. She was bathed in the soft blue light of the stars outside. The hue complimented her new skin color and left Glinda breathless. "To kill me?"
Glinda's jaw fell open instantly at the question. "Nah never. I would never!"
Glinda shook her head in disbelief. If Theodora thought her capable of killing her, here to do such a vile act, why hadn't Theodora attacked her as soon as she arrived? Truly this must mean she had justification in her hope that all was not lost with finding the goodness inside Theodora once again.
Theodora laughed decrepitly. "Is it so strange of me to question your motives? I have spent months doing my best to hide from your spies. Ten long months of learning how to control my magic and finding out who I can trust and who I cannot. I've watched my sister wither away to practically nothing but skin and bones before my very eyes, nearly been killed more times than I would care to admit. Lost lost apart of myself that no one can ever replace." Not even you. Theodora's eyes became misty for a moment, her countenance hardening a moment later. "It is not implausible to think you might be here to finish what you started that night in Emerald City."
"My intention that night was never to kill you, Theodora."
"No?" Theodora shook her head in fake amusement. "You sure could have fooled me, Princess. No, I'm sorry. Its Lady Glinda the Good now, right?" Glinda cringed at the new title she had been given throughout the land. "It wasn't your intention to kill me, just my sister?"
"Ye..no I " Glinda fumbled over what to say.
"That's what I thought."
"It isn't as simple as you are making it."
"If it were that simple I would not be here. Would I?" Any desire Glinda had of not starting a fight disappeared at the innocent act Theodora began playing herself in.
"What are you on about?"
"It was not I that tried to kill first, was it?" Glinda challenged her eyes aflame at the silent allegations Theodora was throwing at her.
Theodora's eyes hardened and her grip on her glass tightened.
"If it weren't for my magic, your lapse in control or intentional attack, whichever you wish to decide to call it, would have killed me at the Gillikin castle." Glinda would not let Theodora forget that, she certainly had been reminded of it enough times by Loyl, Knuk, and Oscar in the last few months. "You would have let Evanora kill me countless times that night, even tried yourself on a number of occasions. So, no, do not pretend to be the wrongly accused in this matter Theodora. You will find no victory down that path."
Theodora threw her glass with the remainder of its contents into the fireplace before facing Glinda once more. The flames in the fireplace flashed dangerously at the addition of the accelerant while Theodora's eyes flashed just as brightly and treacherously.
"You stand there, helpless." Theodora bitterly reminded Glinda of that which she did not need be reminded of. "And have the gall to attack me?"
"Well, haven't you heard the rumors with your crystal ball?" Glinda smirked, wishing she could move from her frozen position in the midst of Theodora's chambers. "I've gone a bit mad when it comes to you." Glinda softened her expression, "I attack nothing Theodora. I state facts, nothing more."
Theodora stalked forward, her steps as heavy as her breathing. Her hand trembled at her sides as if fighting her desire to throttle Glinda. Theodora snarled, her teeth a bit sharper then Glinda recalled them being before. They almost made her look feral.
"Go on, admit it. You want to kill me. Even now. You're stopping yourself from doing it, just so you don't prove me right."
The hands in question twitched at Theodora's side more violently, flames flickering between her fingers as the green witch did her best to remain calm, her labored breathing shifting towards controlled intakes of air.
"You've taken everything from me. Everything I've cared for," Theodora whispered, her voice rough and horse, her eyes closed as she made the admission.
Glinda's eyes softened instantly. "I would give anything I have to give you what you desire most Theodora. You must know that I would."
"You lie, like you've always lied." Theodora's chin quivered and she turned her head away from Glinda but did not move from where she stood in front of her.
"No, no I do not. What is it that you want most, Theo?"
Theodora's eyes snapped open and her hand raced through the air and connected with Glinda's left cheek. The sting, if possible, was more painful than Evanora's slap had been.
"Don't call me that! You lost the right to call me that when you "
"When I what!?" Glinda bristled, turning her head slowly back to stare straight ahead.
" broke my heart." Theodora stumbled back a step as she said the words.
Glinda's groaned as if in physical pain at her inability to move and wrap her arms around Theodora, who looked so broken and vulnerable in this moment.
"Don't act so surprised. You knew it was me that whole time. Just as I knew you would. I was so excited. To finally be able to surprise you, you who just seemed to know everything. I had you fooled, I even had Evanora fooled. Everyone thought I was sick. Did you know it took me three months to save enough money to buy that gown? It did, and I thought it was worth it." Theodora rolled her eyes as she stared up at the ceiling, "I was a fool."
"Theodora " Glinda begged, focusing on breaking the spell that kept her bound.
"No, no shut up!" Theodora pressed the palm of her hand against her forehead. "I won't listen to any of your lies or excuses. You are just as bad as he is. At least he made no overtures. He was honest in his debauchery. You " Theodora swallowed thickly as her eyes watered. "You still swore your love to me, even while helping him. Planning to attack me."
"I had no choice!" Glinda raised her voice, unable to gesture wildly like she wished she could. "You left me no choice! Evanora had to be stopped, Theodora. She had to be stopped. You knew that. Some part of you did." Glinda breathed softly, "You were coming to me when you found Oscar. You were weary of your sister even then." Glinda realized her mistake a moment too late.
Theodora's eyes flashed and the flames in the fireplace raged, licking at the top of the stone that barely contained it. "You knew I was coming to you?"
"I I "
"You knew!?" Theodora reclaimed her position directly in front of Glinda, no personal space between them, their breath mingling as Theodora violently shivered.
"Yes." Glinda's own eyes became glassy with tears.
"And you, you saw," Theodora looked embarrassed for only a moment before her anger returned. "You let him"
"What was I to do?" Glinda's voice broke, sobbing twice before she pulled herself together. "I was miles away! I only saw it when it was too late." She shook her head, tears falling freely. "I had been preparing for your arrival, having watched you leave the Emerald City. I was so happy that you were finally coming to me, escaping from under Evanora's thumbthe one place where I could not reach you." Glinda swallowed her tears. "When you did not arrive by nightfall I became worried and I I saw you dance with him, kiss him before it was too much."
The flames in the fireplace weakened as some of the tension in Theodora's shoulders relaxed.
"At least he had the courage to ask me to dance." Glinda flinched.
"I wanted nothing more than to dance with you that night Theodora. I had every intention of doing so. You saw me that night, I know you did. You smiled so beautifully." Glinda's eyes glazed over with the memory of seeing the sunny smile spread across Theodora's face, her eyes sparkling in excitement that made Glinda's legs weak.
"You were breathtaking that night, in that dress. You had the courage that I hadn't, Theodora. It took me almost all night to find it again, but I was walking over to you when your sister stopped me. She " Glinda looked away, ashamed of allowing Evanora to stop. Not just that night but every night since. "I let her stop me, let her threaten me. She spoke of a truth I was too naive to consider."
"Consider, what truth?"
"The consequences of my actions."
Theodora laughed angrily, wiping and flicking away the tears that fell from her eyes to prevent them from burning her skin. "Did you consider what your inaction did, the consequences of that?"
"I did, I thought about it every day, Theodora. Every day I agonized over it, my precious one."
Theodora flinched stepping away from Glinda as if afraid Glinda might be able to reach out and touch her. The longing for which Glinda could not properly express.
"I cared, care, love you more than society thinks right. And by the time I finally realized I'd rather live with the consequences of our love, whatever they might be, so long as I had you, it was too late. You would not see me and Evanora was masquerading as the Wicked Witch. The night my father died I called that meeting with you to tell you all of this. To ask you to give me another chance, a second chance to prove to you that I was worth all the effort you'd put in to romance me. That I could be worthy of your love."
Theodora closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around herself as if they were the only form of protection she had against Glinda. She believed her, Glinda realized. She believed everything she was saying.
"It hurts so much, Glinda. So much " Theodora whimpered, clutching at the black cloth above her chest.
Glinda mentally bucked and thrashed against the spell binding her, desperate to physically comfort Theodora. It killed her to be so very close to her and unable to reach her all over again. It was like reliving her worth nightmare.
"Curses Theodora, release me!" Glinda panted heavily as she watched Theodora pull into herself. "Please, please release me."
Glinda felt the restraints that kept her still release, causing her to fall forward onto her knees in her imbalance. She didn't remain there long. She stood and stepped up to Theodora and wrapped her arms tightly around the younger woman. The hug was awkward as Theodora did not release herself from her own hug, but Glinda did not care. It was the first time she felt Theodora's body, while they were not trying to kill each other, against her own for far too long.
Glinda kissed the top of Theodora's forehead as she felt the younger woman's body relax. Theodora dropped her arms away from her chest, and gently put them on Glinda's waist.
"I love you Theodora." Glinda whispered, causing Theodora's hands to clutch at the material of her dress.
Theodora flattened her hands against Glinda's back and pulled herself closer to the blonde. She hid her face against the side of Glinda's, her eyes held tightly shut to keep any tears from falling. Her breath blew softly over the blonde's neck, causing goose bumps to rise over the skin. The darker witch's lips moved, opening and closing as if unable to find the words she was looking for before she sighed heavily and held herself to Glinda tighter.
"My heart is dead, Glinda," Theodora contritely admitted.
"I don't believe that." If Theodora's heart was truly dead she would not feel so powerfully other emotions besides anger. She would not feel the torment she had just exhibited. There was still hope.
Theodora tilted her head to the side to stare at Glinda, "I took the apple, Glinda. I allowed Evanora to harden my heart."
"Hardening your heart is not killing it." Glinda cupped Theodora's cheek, smiling softly at having the opportunity to touch Theodora so intimately again. "If magic is what 'killed' your heart then magic will revive it."
"What if I do not want it to be revived?"
Glinda bit her bottom lip, trying not to over think Theodora's statement. "Then we would leave it be." She didn't understand why Theodora would want to leave her heart as it was but if that was one of the gives she had to do to try, truly try, then she would give in.
"We?" Theodora's eyebrow raised in question.
"Yes, we, I, do you " Glinda withdrew slightly. "Do you wish for me to leave?"
"I hadn't, I never thought that you would stay." Theodora's voice was so soft and her expression so unsure in that moment, Theodora reminded Glinda of an innocent child.
"I may not be able to stay here," Glinda stated as she looked around at their surroundings. "But I will not, I won't abandon you." She wouldn't abandon Theodora as she had before. "I will always return. Always. I cannot bear to be without you again, Theodora. I know " Glinda placed her finger against Theodora's lips, stopping her rebuttal. "I know that we have both changed. I do know that." Glinda smiled nervously. "But you are still the woman I love."
Theodora flinched minimally at her profession this time. Glinda would just have to keep saying how much she loved Theodora until the green witch could hear the words without expecting there to be some 'but' statement after it. They were different people. They had grown up in the last four years. They weren't the children that had shared a drink at a birthday ball and nearly kissed, hidden in the shadows on the balcony with hundreds of spectators a room away. They had both faced death, seen it firsthand, but they had come away from that. They lost their support systems and they had to question everything that they'd once believed in, including each other.
"I want to get to know who you've become. Green and all." Glinda marveled at her pale thumb moving over Theodora's forest green cheek. "Please, please say you'll give me that chance."
Glinda would bet that they came away from this whole cockamamie situation stronger than ever before. If they were the only good things to come out of this, it would be enough for Glinda. If she had Theodora at her side, it would be enough. Theodora was enough. She didn't need Oz, the throne or the titles. The only titles she'd need were the ones Theodora would give her.
"I want to trust you, Glinda. More than anything, my sweet, I want to trust you. To believe in what you are saying. But I am conflicted."
It was fair; it hurt, but it was fair. Glinda hadn't given Theodora much to believe in the last four, no, five years. It wasn't right of her to ask Theodora to trust her after four years of uncertainty. Even the year before all of the drama began and they found themselves on opposite sides of a war she and Theodora were at odds with each other. Glinda had hurt her then, more than she ever had in their eighteen year friendship.
Glinda dropped her hands down to clasp both of Theodora's. She pulled them up to rest against her chest and only looked away from Theodora's purple eyes to kiss the witch's knuckles three times.
"Let me show you that you can trust me, Theodora. Just give me a chance, another chance."
Theodora still seemed unconvinced.
"I've asked you for much in the past, Theodora. I know I have. But never more than you could give me, never more than you were capable of. This is no different. I know you are capable of giving me another chance." With or without the spell that hardened Theodora's heart the woman still had the ability to let them try.
"What I want to know is if you are willing to." Theodora's eyes widened as Glinda squeezed her hands a bit more tightly. "You can always tell me no." It would break her heart and possibly her spirit but Theodora had the right to turn her away. "You have every right to tell me no." Glinda let go of Theodora's hands completely, her hands falling to her side. "I would accept your decision."
"You would?" Theodora raised her brow in speculation. "And when I said no," Theodora looked around them as she stepped away from Glinda, each soft footfall crushing more of Glinda's dwindling hope. "You would just leave? Just like that? You would leave me in peace? Alone? You and him?"
Glinda released her hold of Theodora's hands slowly, the distance growing as she took a half step away. Swallowing back the tears and the prospective pain, Glinda nodded her head gently three times.
"Yes. I wouldn't bother you, and I, I would wouldn't allow him, or anyone to bother you." Glinda bit the inside of her cheek. "Is that what you want, Theodora? To be left alone?"
Theodora turned away from her. Glinda could do nothing but stare at Theodora as she seemed to fight with herself over the question. It was when Theodora's shoulders shook, her arms wrapping tightly around herself again that she knew what the witch wanted but was unable to say. Glinda breathed through her pain, realizing that if she didn't actively think about taking a breath and letting it go that she wasn't breathing.
"I'll leave." Glinda spoke, her voice several octaves too high. "I'll keep my word. I won't bother you. I'll keep him away as well. You'll be able to have peace here."
"You won't spy on me?" Theodora asked, turning to look over her shoulder; still unbelieving that Glinda would keep her word.
"No. I won't."
Glinda put her arm on Theodora's shoulder and squeezed it gently as she stepped up behind her. She couldn't move, couldn't make herself release Theodora's shoulder. She just needed a moment. Just a moment to collect herself, a moment so that she could process this, all of it.
Theodora nodded as if to herself. Assuring herself that Glinda wasn't lying. "I'd like for you to leave and not to come back."
Glinda swallowed her whimper and held her eyes closed tightly against the sting of tears. She eased her grip on Theodora's shoulder until she was barely touching the younger woman. Licking her lips, her mouth suddenly dry, she wrapped her arm around Theodora's shoulder, her forearm resting across Theodora's collarbone. She pulled Theodora back into her arms she hugged her from behind with one arm as her other slid down to hold the green skinned hand. Glinda breathed in the unique scent that was only Theodora and sandalwood. Keeping her eyes closed she held Theodora, memorizing everything she could about the feel of the witch in her arms.
Dropping her chin to Theodora's shoulder she hid her face against Theodora's neck, she felt her jaw flex and the swell of her artery against her cheek. Turning her head slowly she peppered the skin with gentle kisses, from the harsh slope of Theodora's chin, over her jaw to the hollow of her neck. Theodora threaded their fingers together as Glinda placed a lingering kiss to the skin there, allowing herself this one guilty pleasure.
Glinda whimpered as Theodora leaned back against her, her left hand reaching up to squeeze tightly at her wrist, her jaw opened slightly in a silent gasp. She noted the taste of Theodora's skin and the smoothness of it as she caressed it with her lips, the heat of it, and the smell, mesmerized by it all.
Glinda knew, deep into her bones, she knew that Theodora wanted her to stay; but she had asked for her to leave. So she would honor her wishes. With a shuttering intake of breath Glinda kissed Theodora's cheek and withdrew from the woman. Theodora's fingers scraped against her wrist as she pulled her arm away from her chest and she stepped back. Her body ached, just as it had on her eighteenth birthday, at the loss of Theodora's warmth.
Theodora refused to release her hand at first. Glinda could not meet Theodora's eyes. She could not look upon Theodora's face and then be expected to leave. She hadn't the strength.
Glinda's hand was limp in Theodora's as the younger woman held it, forcing Glinda's arm to remain taught behind her, her body turned away. Glinda's tears fell only as she felt Theodora's lips kiss the heart of her palm and breathe an apology against it.
"I'm sorry Glin, I'm sorry."
"So am I Theo, so am I," Glinda whispered, her chin quivering as a slow stream of tears slid down her pale cheeks.
Theodora sniffled and placed another lingering kiss to Glinda's hand before she finally released it. Glinda stumbled forward towards the balcony doors. Once there, the cold night air blew against her, but her body was numb. She felt nothing.
She stared out at what landscape that night's stars and moon allowed for her to see. The flames behind her could be heard flickering as the wind blew into the room, kicking her blonde hair up to float behind her. Her likeness was similar to the moon goddess herself.
Glinda bowed her head and turned it to the right. "Be happy, Theodora."
She didn't bother with a bubble this time. She just floated up into the air above the stone of the balcony. She closed the doors behind her and flew into the darkness of the night. Alone.
It wasn't until she reached the Monastery that she finally turned around to look behind her. She stared out over the Gillikin land as if she could see hundreds of miles away and see Theodora watching her fly away behind the closed balcony doors of the West tower of Kiamo Ko.
'Finding Happiness Again'
One Month Later
"Lady Glinda?" A Priestess spoke softly, nervously.
Glinda turned, her eyes still glazed over to look at the priestess in front of her. She was young and shifted from foot to foot, clearly uncomfortable speaking with Glinda.
"Yes?" Her voice was so hoarse she hardly recognized it. She hadn't spoken much to anyone since her return. She spent most of her days in her rooms lying in bed. When she wasn't in her rooms she was here, standing before the gates of the monastery staring westward. She didn't interact with those that arrived for their pilgrimages or the priestesses unless she had to. Many just assumed she had taken on a vow of silence for her stay.
She liked it that way. It kept her from having to make small talk with ignorant people. People who wanted to congratulate her for banishing the Wicked Witch off to the West. People who did not know the pain she had in her heart and the longing she felt to return to join the 'banished witch'. Theodora was not banished. She willingly chose her solitude, chose it over being with her. Was she so terrible? Was she so unworthy? Curse it all! Was she so unlovable that Theodora would not even give her a chance?
"Lady Glinda, our ah, our May-Matron would lie-like to spe-speak with you. When, when you ha-ha-have a-a moment," the girl stuttered, drawing Glinda's attention once more.
Glinda bowed her head and made her way into the monastery, leaving the relieved priestess behind. She wasn't sure how long she had been standing just in front of the main doors of the monastery looking west, and it didn't much matter to her. Her legs were stiff and weak as she climbed the stairs to the Matron's office. The only time she spent with others was during prayer and meal time. She hadn't eaten for the first three days after she'd returned.
It was only at the insistence of the priestesses that she ate and when she did she did so minimally. Just enough to keep herself alive. She looked a fright, far from the enlightened image that one should take on or represent while seeking solace in a holy place. She had not found the Unnamed God while here, she had not spoken with Ozma herself. She had withered away, become a shell of the person she had been while others left renewed, invigorated, and touched by something deeper. It wasn't anyone's fault but her own, and maybe the Wizards, and Evanora's, and Theodora, and the universe itself to keep knocking her back down once she'd thought she'd finally found happiness.
She was due to return to Emerald City in five days and she feared for the wellbeing of those at the castle. She was short tempered, quick to anger, and it was very possible that she would kill Oscar Diggs if he said more than two words to her at a time. Her patience for good people was short; her patience for conmen somewhat responsible for her heartbreakif not completely responsiblewas nonexistent.
As she climbed up to the Matron's office, at the top of the east tower, she heard the soft whispering prayers that came from the many open doors. It calmed her heart, soothing like only a balm was on a burn.
"Come in." Glinda hadn't even knocked yet, but she entered the spacious office. It housed many bookshelves with books and files crammed onto the shelves. There were comfortable chairs and a couch in one corner and a large desk in the other.
There was a soft whimpering coming from somewhere inside the room.
It was as Glinda turned to the couches that she saw what was making the noise. The Matron of the Monastery of Saint Galinda was sitting on the couch holding a crying infant. She wore the traditional habit and was doing her best to comfort the fussy infant.
"Oh, Lady Glinda, we were so happy to hear of your return," the elderly woman stated, her smile a bit thin. "Oh, take a seat dear." She gestured to a chair across from the couch with her head, her arms full with the now wailing infant. "I am sorry that I was unable to meet with you sooner, but I've had my hands full." There were dark circles under the matron's eyes, even darker than the ones under Glinda's.
"Yes, it is nice to have returned." Glinda grimaced at the cries the infant was releasing. She was exhausted and weak in body, mind, and spirit, but the sound of the infant crying instantly called to her. She wanted nothing more than to soothe the pain or discomfort the infant felt to be so unhappy.
"Will you be remaining with us for much longer?" The Matron shifted her hold on the child switching to cradle it rather than hold it against her shoulder.
"Only five days, Madame." Glinda watched the older woman manipulate the child carefully, cringing as the cries became blatant screaming.
The Matron sighed. "I do apologize. Perhaps we can meet at a later hour. She had been so calm moments ago." And by the looks of it, it wasn't often that the child was calm.
"Forgive me for saying so Madame, but I did not take it that the Matron would be responsible for a child. Is she a relation of yours?"
"No, one of the orphans given up to us to look after. She is rather rowdy and fussy. The other Priestesses were unable to go about their other duties while she was in their care."
"I thought infants were found families quickly." Glinda knew before her statement was answered, why this child had not been adopted. If she was always as loud and unhappy as she was now it was no wonder she would be overlooked.
"Normally they are. However this little one is a bit different."
"Different?" Glinda could not see anything unusual about the child, but she was swaddled and held in a way that Glinda could not see the child's face. She imagined it to be rather red from all the screaming she was doing.
The matron sighed. "Yes, it appears that when the child is upset her pigmentation changes."
Glinda's eyebrow rose as she stood up from her seat immediately. "Her pigmentation?"
"Yes, odd as can be." The woman seemed truly mystified by what ailed the child. "Like a horse of a different color, the girl turns green when unhappy." She stressed the color, shaking her head as if amused, though she seemed anything but.
"Great Ozma " Glinda gasped, covering her opened mouth with her hand. It couldn't be. It couldn't possibly be. And yet, Glinda reached forward with her free hand, the other still clasped over her mouth, and moved the cloth that covered the infant's green skin face. She withdrew her hand as if it was burned, allowing the cloth to hide the child's dark flushed face.
"As you can see, it turned many of the prospective parents off, as, well, as it reminds them of"
"The Witch of the West." Glinda breathed out as she sank into the couch next to the elderly matron, her eyes staring at the green skinned infant she held. What breath was left in her body left her as she stared at the crying child and the woman holding her.
"Yes, exactly." Though the Matron seemed curious as to why Glinda had not added the adjective Wicked before the rest of the witch's moniker.
"How how old is she?" She asked as her hand dropped marginally away from her face.
"Well, she came to us only a few days old, about I would say a little more than a month ago." Glinda did the math in her head and felt faint. Her vision swam a bit and she needed to grasp the back of the couch tightly to keep herself grounded. "Actually, it was a few days before you arrived, Lady Glinda."
Glinda swallowed down the bile that rose.
Surely it was a coincidence that the week Theodora passed through and stayed at the Monestary a child that's pigmentation turns green when upset is left here. It had to be. It couldn't be surely not.
Theodora had been here at the monastery days before she arrived. With company. Thinking back, Glinda hadn't asked what company the priestesses had meant when she'd spoken to them about Theodora's visit here. Glinda had always just assumed Theodora had been accompanied by some of her Winkie guards.
But why? Why would Theodora give up her child?
"Why have you come, Glinda? To kill me?" Nearly been killed more times than I would care to admit. Lost lost a part of myself that no one can ever replace."
Glinda's eyes widened. Theodora had thought Glinda was there to kill her. Thought people would come after her to murder her. Spoke of almost being killed several times in the ten months since the Battle of Emerald City and of, of losing a part of her no one could replace. She had given up her child to protect her from harm. From the danger of retaliation. She kept out of sight. Was quick to hide when she spotted spies and had worked on a charm to keep Glinda from being able to magically look in on her or Evanora.
Glinda had thought it was because they were planning something. But was it? They had plenty of time to organize a counter offensive, to attack, and they hadn't. And Theodora, she had been so different, so mature. Secretly carrying a child for nine months while under threat of death could and should do that to someone.
Glinda's eyes watered, she had been pregnant during the battle. Very early on, but she had to have been. Glinda's hands shook. She had fought with Theodora. Hurt her. Thrown her into a wall, the trauma alone could have hurt the child she was carrying. Ozma, had she even known? When did she find out? What had her reaction been? Did she seek solace and comfort in Evanora or was she alone?
Oh my love you must have been terrified Glinda thought to herself as she recalled how broken, weak, and childlike Theodora had been. More so than Glinda had ever seen her in all the years they'd known each other. Why hide this from her? Theodora had wrapped her arms around herself in a form of protection.
Did she think Glinda would reject her if she knew? She couldn't, she would never. Not over something like this, something Theodora could not control. It would hurt at first, to know that to have the child Theodora had been with another, but it wouldn't last. Her jealousy would always be there but so would her hatred of Oscar and her love and devotion to Theodora, and to any child she had. Didn't Theodora know that? Did she think her so cruel and heartless as to turn her back on her after having a child?
"Oh, Theodora " Glinda whined in pain as she covered her face with both of her hands and cried into them.
It took Glinda quite some time to calm down and even as she wiped at her eyes, tears still fell from them. She looked to the Matron in front of her and the crying infant, Theodora's daughter, and motioned for the child.
"Let me try."
The Matron's eyes looked her up and down, uncertain of her capability and probably her sanity. Glinda did not blame her for either doubt. She offered a calming, watery smile, and was relieved when the woman slowly handed the child over to her.
"Be careful with her head, hold her like this." The Matron instructed Glinda on how to hold the child properly. "She does not take well to new, actually to people in general."
"That is something the two of us share in common then." Glinda joked softly, awed by the child in her arms. She did not, could not, look away from the tiny face and wiggling body she held gently against her chest.
Even as the baby continued to cry Glinda could not help but smile down at her. She had Theodora's nose, her real nose, not the one that had formed after the spell. She also had one deep mahogany eye and one aqua blue. It was a mix of Oscar's blue green eyes and Theodora's new purple irises.
"Beautiful so beautiful." Glinda chuckled through her own tears. "Green skin and all."
The Matron watched Glinda carefully, shocked and a bit inspired by the blonde's interactions with the child in her arms. To her shock the child began to calm as Glinda spoke to her in a voice as soft and sweet as spring honey. Her ears rang a bit at the lack of a screeching cry and both women watched as the green pigmentation of the child's skin faded to a soft tan similar to their own.
"She has her mother's nose," Glinda confided, finally looking away from the child. The Matron was taken aback by Glinda's comment and became a bit uncomfortable.
"Perhaps I should take her back." Glinda turned her upper body away from the Matron in her attempt to keep the baby.
"There is no need. I have no ill will towards her, how could I?" Glinda breathed softly, lost again in the heterochromatic eyes. "She's precious, so very precious." Like her mother.
"And for her mother, you hold no ill towards her?" The Matron questioned seriously.
"Her mother ," Glinda began, looking up once more, "And I have our opinions, differing as they may be." About more things than Glinda thought previously. "But I wish her only the utmost happiness."
Glinda knew how that must sound to someone who only knew the rumors and the stories that spread like wild fire through Oz after the Battle.
"You truly are a woman of Good."
Glinda laughed softly, "I'm no better, or good, than anyone else."
The Matron disagreed. "It takes great courage and strength to forgive those who have hurt us."
Glinda swallowed thickly, looking away from the knowing look in the Matron's eyes.
"She she." Glinda shook her head. "Does she have a name?" Glinda quickly changed the subject.
Glinda closed her eyes momentarily at the child's name. In a way Theodora had named her child after her. Arduenna was her middle name. Theodora had always said how she adored the name, while Glinda could not stand it. She only ever heard it pronounced by her father when she was in trouble or announced at a boring 'grown up' party.
Glinda looked up, surprised at the sound of the Matron's voice.
"I'm sorry, forgive me, I was merely surprised." Glinda ran her thumb over the top of Arduenna's cheek, wiping away the tear tracks left on her pink cheeks. "It is a beautiful name."
Glinda felt the hole in her chest fill with love as Arduenna snuggled deeper into her, smacking her lips contently as she looked up at her with sparkling eyes. For the first time in years Glinda felt truly whole.
Elis had been a priestess at the Galinda Monastery for over forty years. She had watched many of her friends pass on and witnessed the birth of hundreds of children. She cared for dozens of children that had no relation to her and watched them grow, caring for them as if they were her own.
She watched many of them leave and a few remain to continue the holy work that had raised them and enriched them. Forty long years she had been here, the last five spent as Matron and in that time she had seen the look in Lady Glinda's eyes many times before. Had seen bonds form that would never break between infant and a prospective parent. Watched as childless women found the fulfillment they sought holding children as reverently as Glinda held Arduenna.
Seeing all of that, Elis knew. She knew before Glinda herself did that everything had changed for the young woman. Glinda was not leaving her retreat alone, of that Elis was sure. The child currently cradled in Glinda's arms was joining the former Princess when she was to leave in five days. Which was both a blessing and a curse, as that meant while she had very little time to get the paperwork in order, she would be free of the burdensome child.
Five days later Elis watched Lady Glinda fly off in a magic bubble. A sight she'd never seen before. Lady Glinda flew to the South carrying Arduenna Gale Upland, her newly adopted child.
As Elis had known, the paperwork had been trouble but there had been little reason to deny Glinda the opportunity to make a family with the young child no one else had wanted.
As Elis watched the blonde disappear into the sunny horizon, Elis thought it fitting. And if she were to admit, a bit unnerving. Even after all these years, that old crone Yackle, a schoolmate of hers many decades before, could still be right. Even after death.
Shaking her head good naturedly Elis walked back into the walls of the Monastery assured that a new era had just dawned for Oz. She just hoped that Oz would be ready for the rest of the storm to arrive after basking in the calm of it.
The End (For Now)
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