DISCLAIMER: I don't own Wicked...good, I'm glad I got that off my chest.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the first Gelphie story I've written and I'm not even sure if it's going to work. I just couldn't seem to let go the idea that these two were more than just friends. And I know I'm not the first to think that. This is slightly AU, but definitely inspired by the bookverse. If bits of musicality crop it's really not my fault, I listen to that cd all the time, it's bound to have an effect.
SPOILERS: Nothing obvious that would spoil the enjoyment of reading the book for the first time, but it might all make better sense if you have at least glanced at Gregory Maguire's masterful novel.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
To the End
There wasn't much more to be done. Perfection having that annoying habit of being, well, perfect. Glinda needlessly checked her reflection one more time in the full length mirror. Hoping to find some imperfection, some small smudge that would sully her flawless appearance and necessitate calling the whole thing off.
She couldn't find one.
She was a vision in white. Her small frame belied by the floor length gown she wore, curves and contours accentuated by its clinging fabric, the promise of a curl in her wavy glistening blonde hair framing her pale skin, creating an ethereal effect. It all seemed so effortless when seen from afar. There really was nothing more to be added to the ensemble to make it more beautiful, more perfect.
Well maybe one thing, Glinda thought as she saw the obvious flaw staring back at her from the mirror. Forcing one of her beatific smiles to a face that up till now was the only thing marring the perfect image she saw before her. But it was beyond difficult, she considered, as the smile languished for a few moments before retreating into the forlorn expression it had been up till now, to be happy on your wedding day when your heart, and all the intricacies it needed to keep beating, was aching for someone not waiting at the end of the aisle for you.
Glinda sighed, the hot sting of tears trapped behind the clear cerulean blue gazing back at her from the mirror. She would not cry today. She'd spent too long on her eyeliner to risk ruining it with some wasteful salt water. The bride-to-be smirked, wishing that the vacuous blonde persona were actually true for once, and vanity could be blamed for not letting the tears come now, instead of the real reason she'd promised no tears would fall that day.
She would not cry because it was all so easy to feel nothing when she did. To let it all melt away with the tears. To forget for a moment, a thing she'd promised never to do. She would not cry because it was too strong a desire to let herself drown in the floods that came, no more suffering. Of course Glinda knew that it was highly unlikely someone could actually drown from their own tears, no matter how fierce they flowed, but knowing that you couldn't do something didn't mean the desire to do it evaporated. The way her tears always would in the end. Robbing her of the numbness she craved. The pain increasing as each racking sob lessened and she wanted more. The tears would cease their urgency and the ache deep within her would return. The ache of a heart broken. No not broken, it was shattered. Decimated. Pulverised. Pulped. She would say it was smashed into smithereens if she knew what a smithereen was. Suffice to say Glinda's heart was irreparably damaged beyond all recognition.
Now now my sweet. The familiar voice always said. No need to be so melodramatic.
Alright, she always conceded to the voice that only she could hear now. A heart simply broken then.
Only there was nothing simple about Glinda's heart and the nature of its malaise. And today of all days she refused to give in to whatever brief respite her sobbing gave her. She refused to feel the numbness of despair rather than the consciousness of why the despair was present in the first place. She surveyed herself once more in the long mirror. Glaring at the pristine figure before her, just daring it to defy her and let those trapped crystal drops glistening in the bright blue of her eyes fall once more.
"Not today," she told herself. Her voice thick with the emotion suspended within her. "Today you feel everything."
She hiccupped once, a brief watery sound which threatened her resolve and almost breached the floodgates, but in the end she held on. And she could feel herself regain control, she could feel the tears receding like a clichéd wave upon the shore heading back out to a now calm sea. The pain was coming back and that was just fine with her. No more watery squall of released emotions, instead the tightness and resolve to stay standing under the weight of how awful it all was. If she was really going to go through with today she considered, if she was really going to betray her heart's desire like this and give up holding out for the most remarkable, the most perfect love she's ever known or likely to know, then Glinda Upland of the Upper Uplands was damned sure she'd do it feeling every moment, every breath of pain the act caused her.
"I owe her that much at least." She said aloud finally turning away from her reflection, not noticing as she did the one tear that had escaped its prison. Streaking black down her cheek from her heavy lashes, leaving a watery mark for the first person to come through the door and remark upon.
Thankfully the first person to come through her door was at that particular moment in time the very person Glinda wanted to see most of all in the entirety of Oz. Well perhaps not the person she wanted to see most in all of Oz, but her dear friend Crope came a very adequate second right then.
"Sweet Lurlinemas Glinda," he began once he'd gently closed the door behind him and had a good look at the resplendent bride-to-be before him. "You look stunning." He walked over to the smaller woman, taking both her petite hands in his own much larger ones to give them a reassuring squeeze.
Glinda smiled up at the big man, who had lost none of his charm from their Shiz days, even if his wit had deserted him ever since Tibbett well let's just say ever since Tibbett, and leave it at that shall we?
"Thank you dear," her voice sounded forced, as though it came from far away. "Don't I just look the embodiment of perfection?"
She stepped away from Crope, intent of giving him her patented show-off twirl she'd been employing ever since she could walk, when a look in her friend's eyes stopped her in her very dainty tracks.
"What is it?" She asked, sudden concern crowding her already overloaded thoughts.
As gently as possible Crope reached up to Glinda's beautifully pale cheek and caught the end of her solitary tear on his finger.
"Not quite perfect I'm afraid." He explained in his soft caring voice. And apart from a certain head strong young woman known for her luminous skin, Crope is the only other person in the world Glinda would tolerate such a staggering admission from.
She looked at the tear, reached up with her own fingers and felt the betrayal of wetness on her cheek. The contraction in her chest and throat as she felt the tears within her rush back to the surface was immediate.
"Damn it." She said rather harshly. Stepping away from Crope turning her back on him. "Not today." She implored in a voice barely above a whisper it was difficult to make out.
Crope saw the false good humour that Glinda had greeted him with disappear before his eyes, and didn't know whether this was one of those times when his friend needed to be left alone with her emotions, or if she needed the soft-hearted man to wrap her in his warm embrace, an inferior substitute for the embrace the blonde mourned though it was. He didn't know if this was one of those times when tact and support needed to be brushed aside and what the blonde woman actually needed, whether she liked it or not, was a really good talking to. Some sense knocked into her nonsensical head perhaps. Some home truths brought to the fore maybe. Like the one about crying for a lost love was actually an okay thing to do. As he was just building up the courage to go with the latter and risk the petite blonde's wrath in doing so, Glinda turned once more to her friend, and for once the mask she usually wore to hide the pain was very much in abeyance.
"Did you find her Crope?"
Always the same question. Always the same look in lost azure eyes when she asked it. Hope. Hope that today her old sweetly effeminate friend would say yes, I did. She's right outside.
It had been a gloriously hot summer. For weeks the air was thick with heat, the ground cracking open where no water had been. The roads throwing up an unhealthy mixture of dust and soot, compared with the equally unhealthy mixture of muck you had to be careful of avoiding when walking alongside the carriage ways in less forgiving weather. There was a sense of urgency in the air. A kind of expectancy, of what no-one was sure, but everyone felt a part of it. It was as if the sun-bleached summer not only dried away the remains of the floods and the rains and the grey misery that had been the previous seasons in Oz, but also the experiences and the lives of the people too. So something new was left in its stead. Something uncertain but good. Some sort of change was afoot, and that change was being felt most of all by the pretty blonde heiress, often found gazing at the now brighter skies in the gardens that surrounded Shiz University.
For the summer had not only brought with it brilliant sunshine, but a respite, a re-birth even, of the harsh lonely seasons that had marred her last year at Shiz. And now that the lighter cheerier season was well under way, and everyone had begun to forget how long and cold the winter had been, Glinda decided in all her curly blonde wisdom that the time had come to move on. She was convinced of the fact. Certain that the well of loneliness she'd barely been able to climb out of her last year of university with her room as empty as she'd once wished it to be (a painful reminder to the blonde of being careful of what one wished for) was all down to the incremental bad weather, and nothing more than that was to blame. The rains had come and she became depressed. She was sure it was because the pastel hues of her summer dresses suited her complexion more than the austere wardrobe one required for the winter. After all, in the past she had always been able to laugh off her black moods as a result of her accessories not matching, such was her shallow frivolity back then. Why should now be any different?
And even if deep down she knew it wasn't because the skies outside were always black, but actually the absence of the woman who favoured the colour so much that was making her insides feel hollow, her chest to constrict with tears at the slightest sweet memory. Even if Glinda could admit to everyone, not just Crope (who really had more sense than the others gave him credit for) that she felt like a part of her had died when she was sent away from the Emerald City. A fleeting goodbye and a too short kiss her only company on the lonely ride back to Shiz, with the rains that came so quickly afterwards compounding her melancholy making it worse. Even if Glinda would acknowledge all this, would confess that she woke up screaming and crying out in the night, her last words reverberating in their desperate urgency.
"Hold out my sweet."
Even if Glinda knew, and deep down of course she did know, that it wasn't the bad weather that had caused her unhappiness, just like she knew deep down that the good weather couldn't take it away again, it was still the time to move on. Because of the change of weather or simply because Glinda had at last come to terms with her abandonment, she couldn't say why this was the right time. Glinda just simply knew that it was. Time for a change of scenery. A new beginning. A fresh start, and other hackneyed clichés she'd gushed about when telling family and friends of her decision. She was a graduate now with the whole of Oz at her feet. It was only proper that she take her rightful place amongst its denizens. It was time to move on indeed!
And the fact that she was moving on to the very city where she'd last seen her lost love, to take up a not-quite menial public relations role in one of the lesser known publishing houses (which everyone from her exalted father downwards offered the opinion that it was beneath her) didn't seem to dent her idea that she was finally moving on with her life at all. The fact that once settled and ensconced in some fairly respectable apartments in a not too drab part of the city she would purposefully stroll five blocks out of her way to work every morning, because that particular route happened to cross the junction where the carriages deposited and picked up their bedraggled passengers, where she herself had shared that awful goodbye two winters ago never struck her as contrary to her plans of putting the past behind her. She simply liked a long walk in the morning before work began she told herself (even if she could chose better shoes for the endeavour, pink kitten heals quickly turned out to be ill-equipped for the Emerald City's cobbled stone). It never crossed her mind that she might actually be going to that part of the city for a reason. To look for something say, or someone perhaps. Someone whose last known whereabouts were the carriage station in the Emerald City for example. Someone who had left Glinda with an open wound in her heart only the same someone's return could heal. And despite the glorious change in the weather and regardless of how many times she told Crope (the only friend left she found she cared a stitch for from her Shiz days) that she had moved on, this has nothing to do with all that foolishness, the ache she'd been left with the first time she visited the Wizard's glorious city of green just kept on growing bigger every day.
So every day she came looking, however conscious she was of the fact (very actually, since you asked). And every day the same, hundreds of people, coming and going. Excited and exhausted. Awed by the extravagance of the shimmering city yet angered by the same thing, because parts of Oz lay broken and starved at its expense. So many different faces, and none of them the beautiful verdigris she missed so much.
"Oh Elphaba, where are you?"
Crope remained silent as Glinda regarded him with pleading blue eyes. If thought alone could have conjured the green skinned woman at that moment he knew he would have nothing to worry about. The urging of azure seas so clear with that which they wanted. What they wished for. And he could feel his own fragile heart break a little at the sight of his beloved friend's pain, a pain that increased with every moment she was apart from the one she loved. Knowing a final hope was being dashed by him that day and hating himself all the more for it, because nothing could be done to avert the inevitable answer he must give. For the first time since Tibbett had no, that memory was still too painful for the first time in a long time Crope wished for the frivolousness of his youth again, when caring and responsibility were the antithesis of his character, and all this could be laughed away with his rapier repartee. Alas, the time for flippant asides and light-hearted merriment had certainly been left within the gates of Shiz University, out in the real Oz the tall man soon learned, emotions and the like were of a lot more serious a credence than he had previously known.
When Crope began to understand that Glinda's love for Elphaba transcended all that he thought he knew about that wonderful hideous emotion. When he realised the love they shared certainly on the blonde's part, and he suspected from what he recalled from their shared Shiz experience that the spiky dark haired woman felt the same, was a rare and unique love. The kind you only read about in fairytales. The kind that we all long for but in reality we don't actually believe it exists. When Crope realised his dear sweet friend, despite all she said to the contrary, just wasn't getting over Elphaba Thropp, wasn't getting over the type of love he always wished Tibbett had felt for him. The profound kind that defies words but can be found in a look, an exchange of smiles, a loving gesture just between two. Like a tear wiped away from a green cheek before damage can be done for example. When Crope finally comprehended that Glinda needed the green woman as much as she needed air to breathe, he vowed to himself he would do everything he could to reunite the two unexpected lovers.
He started to accompany the blonde on her daily missions at the coach station. Began to hang around coffee shops and markets that were beneath even his meagre social class as he hoped to find patronising them the green woman, hoping her habits for mixing with the proletariat had not been broken since Shiz. He even took to visiting the various religious sites across the city, an act Tibbett he was sure would have howled with laughter at if he could see him now, because he'd heard tales of maunts and the like lending a hand to the Animal Cause and remembered how impassioned Elphaba had been when Doctor Dillamond died.
But it was all to no avail.
He imagined that it wouldn't be so difficult to find a woman with such a distinguished look as the vociferous Miss Thropp possessed, but after endless months, then a year, of seeing only pale inhabitants of the Wizard's shiny city Crope came to the conclusion that Elphaba was either dead, or just didn't want to be found. And on the days when it all became too much for Glinda, when the pain and the anger grew to a fiery ball inside her which she'd have to let out, the floods of tears finally allowed their freedom, Crope would wonder which was the worse knowledge for the beautiful blonde woman.
Knowing her lover had died, or knowing her lover did not want to see her anymore.
He sometimes thought that Elphaba Thropp must truly be the wickedest witch he'd ever known, when he held his dear friend tight, her tears soaking his vest and undershirt. Then his innate compassion for the world and all the people in it would come to the surface again, and he'd remember how much in love the green girl had been with the blonde at Shiz. Oh to most of them their interactions were harmless, friendly gestures born of the intimacy sharing a room had thrust upon them. But Crope had seen, he knew. The looks. The longing. The love that would shine in chocolate eyes for ditzy blonde Glinda. Crope remembered all this and then thought of where Elphaba might be now (assuming she was alive which he always did) And he wondered who held her when she felt the pain of separation. He wondered who the green woman had to lean on when she thought she saw a glimpse of the woman she loved in the street, only to face bitter disappointment when she found out she'd been mistaken, it had just been a trick of the light. He wondered if she had someone she clung on to in the dead of night, when the tears spilled over, burning flesh with their intensity.
He often came to the conclusion, remembering how difficult Elphaba had found human contact back at Shiz that she did not have such a tower of support as he was for Glinda. And when he came to this rather sad fact, the green woman was no more a witch than Glinda or he was. She became as lost and lonely as Glinda then. And similar thoughts to his friend's would echo in his mind whenever he thought of the future Eminent Thropp Third Descending.
"Oh Elphaba, where are you?"
Say yes. Say it's finally happened. Please. Tell me the wait is over. No more broken nights of half-remembered dreams. No more waking nightmares of days without her. Please Crope. Tell me you've found her. She's waiting outside.
Glinda silently begged, silently wished her friend could alleviate the heaviness she felt in her heart each time she asked that question. The weight increasing each time her friend couldn't do such a simple thing as that which she asked of him. Only it wasn't simple, and it wasn't fair to blame Crope for how she felt when he'd failed to find Elphaba once more.
Don't shoot the messenger she'd once read in a book absently chosen, without premeditation or forethought, from the library at Shiz. She had liked the swirling patterns on the cover and wanted to prove to her roommate she actually knew where the library was (even if it did go unmentioned that it had taken the better part of a day to locate) And by the look in Crope's eyes he must have read the same book, his silent plea of don't hurt me unmistakable alongside the bitter regret she could see in her friend's kind face for once more not being able to do as she had asked.
The blonde relaxed her gaze. Her silent questions abated once again, perhaps forever this time. After all today was her wedding day and propriety dictated that this be the end of her foolish notions of love. For she knew after today there would be no room for love in her life. No room to search for her Elphie anymore. This was it.
Another tear broke free from its mooring and trickled slowly down her cheek. Neither of them made a move to wipe it away this time.
"So then," Glinda began, her voice thick with her unspent tears. "That's the end of that." She had to force the words past her lips, knowing as Crope did that they were a lie. There would never be an end for her and Elphaba, wasn't that the entire problem to begin with?
"I always thought we'd find her." Blurted out Crope in a rare moment of actually saying what he thought the moment he thought it, rather than censoring himself to spare Glinda's feelings. His own tears were springing to the surface rather quickly now, the weight of the day crashing down on him as it had done on the woman before him.
Glinda forced a smile for her old friend, the only one who had always been there for her. She reached out to him and cupped his cheek with the palm of her hand.
"So did I dear Crope." She managed to say before her voice was lost again to the thickness of pain inside her.
"We could keep looking." Crope grasped at anything to ease Glinda's pain. "I could keep looking on my own. I know I can do it, I know I can find her." He knew no such thing of course, but right then he believed it and Glinda gazing into his sincere eyes wanted nothing more than to believe it too. But she knew she couldn't.
"No dear." She said as she gently wiped his tears for once, turning away after she did to hide the few of her own that had broken free. "We've run out of time. I've run out of time." She sat down at the ornate vanity and began to fix the damage the unrelenting tears had caused even when she swore they would not have manoeuvre to.
"I can't hold out any longer." She continued, almost in a whisper so Crope could barely hear her, it wasn't really him she was speaking to anyway. "They won't let me." She went on. "You must have known that." Glinda's reflected gaze in the mirror focused passed Crope to someone unseen in the room, a presence longed for but never real. "You must have known when you asked me to hold out all those winters ago that they wouldn't let me do so forever."
Crope wept silently as he watched Glinda address her missing soul mate, wondering how many empty conversations she'd had since Elphaba pushed her away. How many unanswered questions there had been between them.
"You always seemed to know everything." She smiled briefly to herself, Crope's presence quite forgotten as she became lost in happier memories. "It was the most infuriating, intoxicating thing about you my love. You knew everything and I knew nothing. And look at us now! It hasn't changed at all. I still know nothing. I don't know how to find you, I don't know where you are, do I?" Her words were beginning to crack, her voice growing higher and desperate.
"I don't know how to hold out any longer."
Tears flowed quickly now, Glinda hardly noticed them.
"And I don't know how to stop loving you Elphie."
She cried out finally. A sob, no more a desperate wail escaped her with the words and she turned sharply from the mirror, needing space from her own sobbing reflection. Her feet got tangled in her long shimmering dress as she got up to move and soon she was crashing to the floor. Deep guttural sobs echoed forth, shaking her petite frame with their voracity, Crope of course was next to her in moments. Holding her as tightly as all the other times she needed him to, knowing that this time the need was more desperate. The tears more painful. The sobbing much deeper. The realisation that she really had lost Elphaba finally sinking in.
He murmured soft words of comfort to her she couldn't make out. Her head buzzing as it was with the intensity of her tears. She thought she could actually hear bits of her heart shatter under the weight of all this emotion. What hadn't been broken before was sheared off now, leaving her breathless. Leaving her huddled on her bedroom floor sullying her perfect wedding dress with the tears she'd promised herself she would not let fall.
And maybe now she could finally let them go on forever. She could finally let them take all the pain away, hopefully taking her along with it. Glinda could feel Crope's arms around her but their grip was lessening, the oppressive room they occupied felt larger somehow, the walls farther away. It was like she was being washed away with her tears. The light from the day faded, the soft voice of her friend grew less and less coherent as her sobbing and her tears grew louder. She was giving in to what she had always refused to and yes, she truly felt like she was drowning in her own tears. The world was melting away and she along with it. And surprisingly Glinda was okay with the idea. Feeling the tears course down her face, their salty burning texture streaking pale skin. Their hot intensity reminded her of Elphaba, the way she would never let the tears trapped in her eyes fall, for fear of the burning pain they'd create. Now Glinda welcomed the very thing Elphaba feared so much. She welcomed the tears, she welcomed the blackness of unconsciousness that was beginning to sweep over her.
She'd only fainted once before in her life and the green girl had been there to catch her then. How apt it seemed that the second time Glinda felt the pull of nothingness it was down to thinking of Elphaba.
The blonde felt the tears come and with it the gentle insistence of unconscious sleep. Thinking as she did so of strong green arms that had held her the first time she had felt like this. Imagining she could hear the words Elphaba had cried desperately out in the filthy street back then.
"I love you too much."
Hoping that somehow, with all the magickness and weird coincidences that is life in Oz, Elphaba could hear her words in return now.
"I love you Elphaba, I will never stop loving you."
And with that Glinda fell silent and still in Crope's arms. Her promise to herself about the tears not falling broken and forgotten. Her promise to Elphaba about holding out lay somewhere in between.
Author's end note: Okay for my first Gelphie story I didn't intend for it to be so bleak or have quite so many tears in it. Believe it or not but the original idea had been a light-hearted one! Still I found writing it very cathartic and I hope it's not all been in vain. Any chance of reviewing and letting me know?
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