DISCLAIMER: Characters and places belong to Gregory Maguire, musical references to Steven Schwartz and Winnie Holtzman.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This was kindly beta'd by joran, katrin and mystic_meg_gal. This fic is sort of a mix of bookverse and musicalverse. Just worked out well that way, there are bits and pieces pulled from each, but Galinda and Elphaba are more their musical characters than the book ones.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

After the Oz Dust
By atsammy


Part 3

It was a few days before Galinda was able to look more closely at the book she'd purchased. She had it hidden in her closet, and Elphaba never asked her about it. She waited to investigate it further on a day when she knew Elphaba would be late. From time to time, she did sneak a peek at the images that had so enthralled her in the bookshop. Galinda realized almost immediately why the shopkeeper had called the book "scandalous" when the author, who claimed to have known both the Kumbric Witch and Saint Glinda, said that he was writing the story of two lovers torn apart. It was, he claimed, the "story no one ever told, about the two women who'd been pulled from each other by outsiders who didn't understand them, leading one to hide from the world and the other to set up an orphanage for the children whom, like her lover, had been abandoned by it." He claimed to have gotten the story straight from St. Glinda herself, four hundred years earlier, though she died before it had been published, so he was aware that many would doubt its truthfulness.

She was so caught up in the tale that she almost missed the sound of Elphaba's boots in the hallway, but she managed to shove the book under her petticoats and shut the door before she came in. Elphaba looked at her oddly as she came in, and she knew she was flushed and her heart was racing, as much because of what she'd been reading (he'd been describing the first time the women had become lovers) as from her rush to the closet.

Later that night, it took her a long time to fall asleep as she couldn't stop thinking about what she'd read. She supposed that she'd known that kissing preceded becoming lovers, but she'd never considered sex with a woman before. She'd heard of it, yes, in gossip her mother shared with her friends back home, and from tales people told of the Philosophy Club. Was that where she and Elphaba were headed? Did she want that? It would mean no marriage or children, the things she'd been raised to expect, didn't it? She couldn't imagine wanting to kiss anyone other than Elphaba, much less anything else. She'd been kissed before, by boys in Gilliken, but she'd never really felt anything, and it was so exciting to be pressed against Elphaba that way. And she'd never gone any further than kissing them, though she was one of the few.

But she had never been interested in girls before, either. Turning over in her bed, she stared at her roommate. All she could see was her hair across her pillow, as she was sprawled on her stomach facing away from her. She was struck by the sudden, powerful urge to go lie down beside her, curl up against her and sleep with her head on her breast. It was an urge so powerful that she had to clench her fists in her blankets to not crawl out of bed. Then, she had a terrifying thought: what if Elphie didn't want to be her lover? Galinda didn't sleep well that night.

Elphaba was aware of Galinda's distraction that week, and she caught her looking at her at the oddest times, a curious expression on her face. She said nothing though, and pretended to be studying in the evenings while Galinda read the same issue of Ozmopolitan over and over again at the other end of the bed. Hidden in the pages of her science text was the book she'd brought the other day, the one Elphaba had blushed over when Master Tricket had seen it. It was one of those romantic fiction ones, like what Galinda read on occasion and Pfanee swore by. She'd hoped that reading it would help her figure out what was going on, but instead it gave her more to think about.

Because of her green skin, Elphaba had always figured that the whole notion of love and romance was something she'd never have to think about. Nessa had told her many times that in her future spinsterhood, she should plan on leaving her inheritance in Nessa's hands since she'd never have children to pass anything onto. Her sister's words had been harsh, but true, since Elphaba couldn't imagine anyone wanting green children. Their parents had never been able to look past it, and she knew her father was leaving more money to her sister because she was pretty and could carry on the family line, for all she couldn't walk. She would have use of the money.

But what of this new factor in her life? Was this thing with Galinda a romance, and did she want it to be? She'd read that book twice now, hoping it would help her understand, but really it was no help. She was no male, so the vivid descriptions of sex weren't very useful, and she couldn't imagine barging in one day, throwing Galinda over her shoulder and carting her off to an abandoned castle to "ravish her." She supposed she could try courting her, she'd read of that and watched it enough at the start of school, as every boy it seemed came after her roommate. It also seemed like Galinda might have been doing that to her, so maybe that was the way to go.

She looked over the top of her books at Galinda just as she heard a page turn, but she didn't see any paper move in the magazine. There was something her roommate was hiding from her, she'd known that for the past week, but she didn't bother her about it. They were allowed their secrets. Not that her secret kept her from kissing Elphaba whenever she wanted. From past experience, the green girl knew that as soon as she got up and went into the bathing area, Galinda would scurry to her closet and hide that book somewhere in there, and be back on her bed when she returned. When they kissed, Elphaba had the feeling that Galinda was trying to figure something out, but she enjoyed it just the same.

This evening, she just carried her books to her desk and fiddled with stuff there for a few minutes. A glance at the window showed her roommate watching her, so she made a show of looking through a folder. After a moment, Galinda disappeared into her closet briefly, then came out and put her magazine on her bookshelf. Elphaba tensed briefly when arms slid around her waist from behind, and then relaxed as she turned to face Galinda. They just looked at each other, smiling slightly, then Elphaba looked down for a second, then back again. "Go for a walk with me?"

They found themselves strolling by the stream. The sun was down, and the night was clear and cool. They'd worn cloaks, and Elphaba had taken Galinda's arm once they left Crage Hall. They didn't talk much, each lost in their own thoughts, but it was a pleasant walk. They stopped at a large tree on the banks, and Elphaba sat on the grass against the trunk, and almost disappeared in the darkness. She still held Galinda's hand and she tugged her down. She wasn't expecting her to turn and sit facing away from her, but she just spread her legs as much as she was able and wrapped her arms around her waist. Galinda settled back against her and set her hands over the green ones resting over the belly.

They sat like that quietly for awhile, enjoying and absorbing each other's presence. Elphaba liked the weight of Galinda against her, and she tightened her arms slightly and felt Galinda sigh and relax more. She considered bringing up her questions, not realizing that Galinda was thinking the same thing.

It was very dark out, and pretty, with the stars forming pictures in the sky. Galinda had turned in her arms to sit sideways against her, nuzzling into her neck. It took very little effort on Elphaba's part to press a kiss to Galinda's forehead, and she let her lips linger there. "Galinda?" she murmured quietly.

"Yes?" She felt the word spoken against her neck more than she heard it.

"Will you go to dinner with me tomorrow night?"

Galinda looked up at her, but couldn't make out her features in the dark, so she settled back against her shoulder. "I'd love to. Where did you want to go?"

"It'll be a surprise. Is that ok?" she added, uncertainly.

"It's wonderful," Galinda sighed. Nosing into the side of Elphaba's neck, she traced her tongue across the other girl's skin. She felt Elphaba's shiver and did it again, sitting up further so that she could reach her ear. After tracing her ear with her tongue, she suckled lightly on her earlobe, and the other girl couldn't contain a low moan. Elphaba turned her head quickly and caught her lips with her own. Galinda shifted in her lap to face her more fully. Elphaba was pressed against the tree as Galinda assaulted her mouth with enthusiasm. She slid her hands inside Galinda's cloak and pressed them into her sides. In the back of her mind she remembered how it felt when Galinda had touched her there. It had felt strange, but also good. She had just been startled by the feelings coursing through her. They'd been the same feelings she had when kissing Galinda, but so much stronger.

She slowly moved her hands down until they were cupping lightly around Galinda's bottom. Galinda squeaked as she felt the pressure pulling her closer and bit down on Elphaba's bottom lip. Elphaba's hands tightened as she pulled back with a yelp, and Galinda could feel her fingers as though she was wearing nothing. She fell forward and pressed her cheek against her roommates, breathing heavily against her hair. She turned her head slightly until she could rub her nose against Elphaba's and whispered against her mouth, "We really need to talk."

Her own hands had been busy, too. She'd tangled one hand in Elphaba's hair at the base of her neck, and the other had been playing with the buttons on the back of her dress. She'd opened a few of them and slid her fingers over Elphaba's skin. They kissed for awhile longer, not as fervently as before, giving each other and themselves an opportunity to calm down.

Later that night, Galinda again had trouble falling asleep, tossing and turning until finally she lay on her side and could see her roommate. Elphaba was lying on her back, and the moonlight coming in through the window glinted off her hair. Watching Elphaba's chest move up and down slowly with each breath, she once again felt the urge to urge to join her in bed, and this night she didn't fight it. Climbing out of bed, she carried her blanket with her and carefully spread it over the thin blanket covering the other girl. She waited to see if she'd woken her, but Elphaba didn't move. Biting her lip in concentration, she carefully lifted the two blankets and climbed into bed next to her. Keeping her eyes on Elphaba's face, Galinda lay down beside her and curled up against her with her head on her shoulder.

As soon as she touched her, Elphaba jolted awake. "What…?" she gasped, confused. She tried to sit up, but Galinda wrapped her arm around her waist and settled down.

"Shh… It's just me, Elphie," she said sleepily. The warmth from her roommate's body soaked into her and she relaxed and closed her eyes. Nuzzling into the side of Elphaba's neck, she tightened her arm around her and drifted off to sleep finally.

Elphaba lay there, eyes wide open staring at the ceiling. She was awake, but was finding it difficult to process what had just happened. Looking down, she saw blonde curls and pink, slightly parted lips, and soft, gown-covered breasts pressed against her side. Blinking, Elphaba felt her heart rate slow as she watched Galinda breathe. Tracing the length of Galinda's arm with her eyes, she wrapped her free arm around the sleeping girl and went back to staring at the ceiling until the sun came up.

When Galinda woke the next morning, she was alone in bed, wrapped around a pillow. When she sat up, she realized that Elphaba was gone from the room. Troubled, she got ready for the day, worrying that she had been too forward the night before. At breakfast, she didn't see her roommate anywhere, so she sat by herself. Stirring her yogurt idly, she stared out the window, and jumped a little when someone set their tray down opposite her. Looking up, she saw Fiyero looking back at her, and he asked uncertainly, "Can I sit here?"

She nodded and pulled her tray closer to her. "Sure." Taking a bite of her yogurt, she watched him get settled. She was very aware that the other students in the room were watching them closely. "How are you?"

He spread jam over a slice of bread as he answered. "I've been good. How are you? Haven't seen much of you since the dance."

She blushed faintly and ate a piece of cantaloupe. "Yeah." She saw a flash of green out the window and turned to look, but it wasn't Elphaba. She sighed and stabbed at a piece of apple with her fork. She jumped a little in her seat when she saw Fiyero; she'd forgotten he was there.

"Are you ok?"

She nodded, "I'm fine. Just… fine." He didn't look like he believed her, and she stared at her plate again, taking a bite of her breakfast without really tasting it.

Fiyero watched her carefully for a few minutes, confused. When they'd first met, Galinda had matched him pretty well in personality, background, general lack of care for anything but being part of the in-crowd. She was still gorgeous, still popular, but she'd changed. "Galinda?" The blonde head tilted up until he could meet her eyes. "Did I do something wrong at the dance? Everything seemed fine, and then you just stopped talking to me. You stopped talking to everyone."

Galinda carefully set down her fork. No one was sitting close enough to eavesdrop on their conversation, but she wanted to get away from the prying eyes around her. Putting on a smile, she announced, "I guess I'm not that hungry right now. I'm going to go for a walk."

Fiyero caught onto her unsubtle hint and stood up. "I'll join you. Anything to put off going to class." He offered her a hand to help her up, and they left the dining hall. As soon as they were out the door, everyone started talking. Finally, it seemed, Galinda was acting normally.

When they got outside, Galinda looked around, hoping to see Elphaba on her way back from the library. But there was still no sign of her. She walked along, worrying her nails. She had slept so well last night, after joining Elphaba in bed. Her roommate was warm, soft where she needed to be, comfortable. But now she was terrified that she'd moved too fast, done the wrong thing. When Elphaba had agreed that they needed to talk, she'd taken that to mean that she wanted to move further. It was why she'd given in to her desire to sleep with her.

Fiyero watched her as they walked. The smile she'd left with had faded and she looked scared, and sad. Stopping, he caught her arm so that she would look at him. He didn't like the troubled look in her eyes. "What's wrong?" When she shook her head and looked down, he reached out and gently tilted her head back up. "I may be brainless most of the time, but that is because I could care less about school. I do care about you though. You can talk to me, I won't spread it around." When she just looked at him, he added, "I promise."

Galinda bit her lip as she watched him. He was a very handsome young man, the kind she'd been raised expecting to marry. She had been drawn to him at first because he was who she was supposed to be with. But looking at him now, all she could think of was Elphaba and how right it felt to kiss her and lie against her.

When she didn't answer right away, he sighed. "I know there is something bothering you. I asked your roommate, but she wouldn't say anything. If you…"

"You talked to Elphie?" she interrupted, surprised.

The familiarity inherent in her words startled him. He knew that Galinda and Elphaba had been spending a lot of time together recently, but everyone seemed to think that she was plotting something, given that she'd hated her before the dance. No one thought that she could really be friends with someone… green. Looking at her now, he realized that maybe they all were wrong. "A while ago, yeah."

"Have you seen her today? She was gone before I got up." Galinda started walking again, and he followed behind.

He shrugged. "Not today. She's kind of hard to miss." The last thing he expected was for Galinda to whirl around and glare at him.

"Don't talk about her like that!"

She said it so vehemently that he took a step back. "But she's green! How many green people do you see around here?"

"Doesn't mean she's not beautiful! She is! You don't have to say it like she's not. She isn't something to be stared at like some… some… some festival show. She's a person, a beautiful girl who has spent too much of her life being stared at and laughed at for something she has no control over. I won't have it anymore, I love her too much to have it anymore!" She turned around and stormed off towards the dormitory, leaving Fiyero standing there staring after her, dumbfounded.

After five hours of lying there holding Galinda, Elphaba gave up on sleep and carefully left the bed. Galinda didn't want to let her go, but after a moment, she loosened her grip and rolled over long enough for Elphaba to slip away. She hurried through her morning routine as quietly as she could, praying that she wouldn't do anything to wake the other girl up. When she was ready to go, she watched Galinda for a moment from the doorway; the blonde had rolled back over and was shifting restlessly on the bed, one hand sliding across the warm spot that Elphaba had been lying in. She wasn't using the pillow, so Elphaba carefully turned it around so that Galinda could feel it. A wave of unexpected tenderness flowed through her as she watched Galinda wrap her arm around the pillow and snuggle up to it, settling once more.

Shaking her head, she quietly left the room. Her first stop was the kitchen, where she charmed one of the cooks into giving her some fruit and a cup of juice. She ate quickly and headed off to the library. She had some research to do. The librarian was just unlocking the doors when she got there, and, though it wasn't unusual for Elphaba to spend hours at the library every day, the librarian was surprised to see her there so early. Elphaba played it off lightly, saying something about last minutes studying, before disappearing into the stacks of books.

There was a section of books written by members of the pleasure-faith, which, other than the fictional romance novels, were the only books that really dealt with relationships. She was hoping to find one on how to be in a relationship, or at least some tips on courting a woman. She'd been thinking, and she didn't think she'd be able to serenade Galinda as Avaric had done to Pfanee, or send sickeningly sweet cards that Milla loved. Flowers she could do, and a nice meal; her grandfather would be happy that she was actually using the allowance she was given every month.

Looking through the books, she pulled up short when she came across the title Kumbrician Love: Women Who Love Women. She pulled out the book and carried it to the closest window seat. Hiding the book inside her notes, she read until the clock chimed twenty minutes before her class. Glancing furtively around, she didn't see the librarian around as she closed the books and slid both of them into her satchel. She waved at the woman sitting at the front desk as she hurried out towards the science building.

She was the first one in class, and she took her time getting settled before pulling out her notes for a final review. A gaggle of giggling girls came in not long after, but she ignored them until she heard Galinda's name. Her focus gone, she listened as they went over step-by-step Galinda eating breakfast with Fiyero and then leaving with him, hand in hand. Their consensus was that Galinda had finally shown some sense. This last was said especially loud by Pfanee, ensuring that Elphaba heard it. She hunched her shoulders and stared at her notes, missing Fiyero coming in and staring at her, an odd look in his eyes.

Galinda rushed in a few minutes later, out of breath as she barely beat Dr. Dillamond through the door. Seeing the open seat next to her roommate, she sat there, trying to catch Elphaba's eye. The green girl didn't look at her, so she reached over and slid her hand over Elphaba's wrist, curling her fingers gently around it. "Elphie? You ok?" she asked softly.

Elphaba looked at the delicate fingers on her skin, bemused, and then turned her head to look at Galinda. Over her head she could see the rest of the class watching them intently. The Winkie Prince, Fiyero something-or-other, had the most peculiar expression on his face, and Pfanee and Shenshen had their heads together giggling. Nessa didn't seem to be paying any attention at all, but Boq, sitting next to her, was glaring at her until he caught her gaze.

When she finally met Galinda's eyes, she half-smiled, then pulled her hand out from under Galinda's and slid a stray curl of blonde hair behind Galinda's ear. "I'm fine," she muttered, watching the path her fingers took. And with that, everything was alright again, as Galinda flushed a pretty shade of pink and touched her ear.

Class went on after that. The test that had that day ended up being a very simple, five-question quiz, and Dr. Dillamond seemed uncharacteristically distracted. She considered staying after to talk to him, but Galinda tugged her sleeve and she followed after her.

To Be Continued

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