DISCLAIMER: Characters appearing from Wicked belong to L. Frank Baum and Gregory Maguire. No infringement meant, no profit gained in the writing of this story. Everything else is mine. No archiving w/o permission of the author. F/F subtext ahead. Nothing graphic.
Thanks to Vicki A. for the beta. Whew! Now, on to our story....
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By angharad governal
Everything came back so quickly for Glinda as she stood in the gaudy splendor of Colwen Grounds when she saw Elphaba -- Elphie -- again after so many years. Her heart thudded in her chest. Elphie! She hadn't changed -- not a whit -- still splendidly green and sure and sharp as a sword. When her old school chum latched onto her arm and led her to the gardens, the memory of those surprisingly soft, cool, dark lips on hers -- their first and only kiss -- flashed through her mind. She began to talk of architecture as they walked from the house, pointing to this and that hoping Elphie didn't notice the shudder of delight that passed through her frame.
That week -- that long, uncomfortable, frightening, exhausting and exhilarating week which took them from Shiz to Emerald City, that week filled with bumpy, cramped carriage rides, Elphie nodding off against her shoulder, nights shared on small lumpy beds in tiny rooms above noisy kitchens -- came back to her in a whirl of images and feelings she had tampered down for so many years. It was then when waiting in a carriage heading back to Shiz, her lap full of oranges and bread, Miss Elphaba, Thropp Third Descending of Nest Hardings, kissed her and said goodbye for what she had thought would be forever, that the swirling uncertainty of her growing feelings for her longtime friend and roommate finally became clear. It was the beginning and end of so many things. Looking back, Glinda wished suddenly she was bolder in her youth, quicker to realize why, despite so many things that made them so different from one another, she was drawn to the green girl. Now, after so many years, her Elphie was back. And she, Glinda of the Arduennas was suddenly young and uncertain and longing for things she wasn't quite sure of all over again....
That first night, even after hours of enduring the jostling, uncomfortable carriage ride, she was still annoyed -- both at herself and especially Elphie -- annoyed her roomie had kidnapped her and forced her to join in this mad mission to see the Wizard, annoyed that she, herself, had done so little to resist Elphie from dragging her into it in the first place. The room, if one could call it that -- it was more like a tiny drafty closet -- consisted of one lumpy looking bed, a small dirty lamp mounted over the bedstead, and in one corner, something that looked like an old-fashioned standing kettle stove which, as far as Glinda could tell, was producing nothing in the form of heat. The noise of the kitchen below drifted up from a small grate on the floorboard opposite the bed.
"The driver said we're to leave early tomorrow and if you want something in the lines of food for the journey to get something from the kitchen tonight." Elphie entered the room and dropped her valise by the door. "This is it?"
Glinda nodded and reached for her own small suitcase. "How early is early?" She was determined to get to the carriage early enough to find decent seats for them (front-facing with a window). Being forced by Elphie on an unwanted journey to Emerald City was one thing, but by the Unnamed God, she was going to do so in seats that wouldn't cause her to throw up during the long trip.
Glinda sighed and began to arrange the bedding as Elphie placed hands to hips and surveyed their sleeping quarters.
"Don't you want anything?"
Glinda sat on the bed and winced at the state of the mattress. She began to ready herself for sleep. Not that she was going to get any sleep. "Want anything? Not especially."
A dark brow arched up against a green forehead scrunched in skepticism and concern. "Glinda.... I -- I'll get something for us, okay? Some bread, maybe some fruit?"
Glinda shrugged as she lay against the bedding. "Suit yourself."
Elphie shook her head as she watched Glinda pull a worn blanket around her frame and face the wall.
By the time Elphie had returned to their room with their provisions for the next day, Glinda was well on her way to feigning sleep. The mattress was beyond uncomfortable and no matter how tired she felt, she knew that sleep would be elusive tonight. The bed was lumpier than bad saffron cream, but Glinda's own annoyance at the situation grew tenfold when she felt the pallet dip down against Elphaba's weight. She had never shared a bed with anyone before, but never in her wildest dreams would she have pictured this. She fought a sudden flutter of nerves as she felt Elphie finally settle down beside her. Although her eyes were shut tight, Glinda could tell that her green skinned roommate was studying her carefully -- that sharp, hawkish profile turned just so, those dark, blazing eyes darting here and there. Surely Elphie would realize that Glinda was as wide awake as she, that a talking to had to be had if they were to get to Emerald City with any semblance of the friendship they shared at Shiz.
The minutes passed. She felt something brush against her forehead, touch lightly upon the golden curls on her head. She heard Elphie sigh softly and a whispered, "Fresh dreams, Glinda" before the lamp was extinguished and the room was flooded with silence and darkness.
Upon waking that first morning and seeing Elphie had a bad night of it too, Glinda decided anger would do neither of them any good. She had to make the best if it -- they had to or things could go badly when they had their audience with the Wizard, if getting an audience with the Wizard was even possible for two university students -- two female students, at that. Not that she was looking forward to such a thing. As far as she knew, no one had ever survived a meeting with the tyrant. By the end of the week, she and Elphie would be dead -- dead as Ama Clutch or Doctor Dillamond. Or maybe something even worse than dead.
No, anger wouldn't do. She had to be civil -- there was such a thing as manners, after all.
It was on the third day that Glinda realized Elphie never slept during the night. She was amazed, in fact, that Elphaba had stayed awake for as long as she had. The hypnotic pull of the carriage, the whirling scenery of scrub and sand and scraggy, stunted trees had lulled Glinda into a light doze on more than one occasion; Elphie however, had, at least until mid-afternoon on the third day, remained solidly awake.
Glinda was trying her best to ignore a middle-aged man who was openly leering at her from the other side of the carriage. He wore an ill-fitting dull brown checked suit, a bowler hat two sizes too small for his head and, to top off the ensemble, a lurid yellow bowtie. Glinda couldn't decided whether to be appalled that such a creature had the gall to throw such looks her way or that she was actually in the company of someone with such horrid fashion sense. She began to hum an old Gillikinese ballad as she stared out the carriage window and tried her best to imagine herself somewhere else. Midway through the second verse, Glinda felt Elphie's head slump against her shoulder. Mildly surprised and wondering whether her friend was playing some sort of game, she tilted her head and looked at Elphaba. She was asleep, genuinely asleep, and Glinda couldn't help but smile at the sight. She had watched for the past few days as Elphie fought hard to stay awake and alert -- Glinda never knew why exactly, but was now glad that her friend would finally get a bit of rest. She tried to remain as still as possible and watched with quiet fascination as Elphaba's breathing evened out and the girl slipped into a deeper slumber. Glinda's eyes traveled over her friend's face. Despite being roommates at Shiz, gatherings with their circle of friends, picnics at Suicide Canal with the Thropp sisters (and Nanny) and sharing the same bed during the trip, Glinda had never really gotten such a close look at her friend before, never truly had a chance to see Elphaba so unguarded and open as all are when asleep.
She was beautiful. The thought hit Glinda quite suddenly -- despite the sharp nose, the cutting features, the arching brow, the green -- Elphie was genuinely beautiful. It was her lips that drew Glinda's gaze -- dark, darker than her hair -- a shade that was a deep, rich, alluring violet. What would it be like to touch those lips, to feel them against her mouth, to feel them...elsewhere? She blushed at the thought, surprising herself at where her mind had suddenly wandered. She was glad Elphie was asleep; she wasn't too sure how to explain away the blush and the look she was probably sporting at the moment.
Glinda turned her head toward the couple sitting directly in front of them. They were an old Gillikin couple. It was the woman who spoke.
"She's lovely. You make a lovely pair."
Glinda nodded politely. "Thank you."
The woman, nodding her head like a deranged tiktok, smiled widely. "Honeymoon?"
Neither confirming nor denying the woman's question, Glinda stole a quick glance at the still sleeping Elphaba.
The old woman continued, "Lovely to see two young people in love, especially during times like these." She gave a breathy sigh. "Happiness to you both."
The following night found them in yet another bare room above another noisy kitchen. Glinda, already cocooned under a thin blanket, made room on the narrow mattress as Elphaba lay down in the space next to her. As soon as Elphie arranged everything just so and made herself as comfortable as she was able given the state of the bedding, Glinda laid her head against her friend's shoulder and placed an arm around Elphaba's slim waist.
"It's cold in here and the blanket's too thin and there's a broken spring on my side of the bed and will you stop looking at me like that and turn down the lamp?" Glinda finished in a slight squeak, sounding nervous, impatient, gentle and bossy all at the same time. She avoided looking at Elphie's face and instead pulled the thin blanket tighter around herself.
Elphaba blinked owlishly at her before reaching up and turning down the tiny flickering flame on the lamp above the headboard. The sound of dishes being washed and the waitresses yelling food orders at the cook drifted up from the kitchen below. A shaft of moonlight illuminated part of the now darkened room from a small window on the opposite wall.
"And what if that awful man from the carriage tries to come in here and--"
"Oh, I don't know." Elphie said quietly as she maneuvered her arm to a more comfortable position, her fingers resting against Glinda's golden hair. "I think we can take care of ourselves. You can make his hat explode, for instance."
A soft tittering laugh escaped from Glinda's mouth and Elphaba chuckled wryly. "Besides, he doesn't seem the type who would bother people on their honeymoon."
An obvious silence followed. Neither woman, however, stirred from their positions on the bed.
"You heard that?" Glinda said finally, whisper-soft with a slight nervous hitch of breath.
Elphie hummed noncommittally. She felt Glinda's fingers curl nervously against her waist. "You didn't seem to deny it."
"It was easier," Glinda said slowly. "You wouldn't want it known that we're off to see the Wizard? And, and-- I thought that salesman would stop leering at me when he learned that I wouldn't be at all interested."
Elphie smiled. "I'm not sure it worked. I think he's leering at both of us now."
"Oh dear, " Glinda said. She snuggled closer against Elphie's slim form, finally settling down to sleep at last. "Maybe next time I should say that you're my sister instead of my--"
"Lover?" Elphaba hushed softly.
This time, it was Glinda who uttered an indistinct hum.
"I still think exploding his hat would've done the trick."
Glinda smiled at that and when she felt Elphie's lips brush lightly against her forehead, and her friend utter, "Fresh dreams, Glinda" she sighed happily and fell into a deep and pleasant slumber...
After the memorial service for Nessarose, Glinda tried her best to get Elphie to sit down and talk to her about everything -- the girl, the shoes, their friendship, but Elphaba would have none of it. When she saw Elphie storm out from her meeting with the Wizard, she was met with stony silence -- Elphaba rushing past her seething with an anger Glinda had never seen before. She turned, cried out her old friend's name, but it came to nothing.
It was then, completely and finally, that she knew she would never see Elphie -- Elphaba -- again.
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