Class had been fine. Galinda prided herself for getting more comfortable with the material. She let herself relax around her professors, who used to feel so intimidating to her, with their disapproving gazes and tongue clicks as they handed back her essays and tests with red marker scribbled to the edges. Her ease into her classes this semester came from her roomie, she realized. Elphaba, in her funny, antsy way, questioned their professors to the point of harassment, as it sometimes seemed. One might think the girl was upset but really, she was as content as ever. In her element. Her pointedness in class (the few classes they had together), was always entertaining to watch and to Galinda, soothing. She was in control. She was comfortable with her loudness and so it made Galinda comfortable with her softness. She was studying better, reading better, writing better. She was asking more questions, not to the degree of Elphaba, but a healthy, moderate amount that made her feel smart.
She thought back to the day she tried on Elphaba's old pair of glasses, how she wanted to see if they would make her feel smarter. They hadn't really done anything, they were so foggy and scratched, and besides, Galinda couldn't see out of them with her perfect vision. But later she'd realize just how much of an allegory it all really was. If not Elphaba's glasses, then it was Elphaba who was making her feel smarter. Her work habits, her strange, bookish language that she spoke in, her late-night discussions with Galinda about the world and its secrets. It made Galinda feel important.
She carried this new feeling of importance around with her, to class, to lunch with friends, to the few times she'd run into Morrible and be forced to talk to her. It washed over her like a security blanket. Like a quilt, one of Nanny's quilts. She could picture it. And now she could picture Elphaba, sleeping back in the room, sick as a dog. She didn't think the girl could ever get sick she was so filled with energy. But Elphaba surprised her (it wouldn't be the first time), and just like the rest of them, she got sick.
That's why Galinda almost gasped when she saw the familiar mean, green, jumping bean out on campus, books in tow. She watched as Elphaba rubbed her nose into her sleeve not so gracefully and dipped her head back to prevent further leakage. Cute, Elphaba.
"What are you doing here?"
"I live here, don't I? And if we want to get all technical, I study here too." Elphaba's sarcasm, which Galinda had grown fond of, sounded waxy against her hoarseness.
"You're sick, Elphaba. You're supposed to be resting, never mind your classes—" then she stopped. She smelled the air. Spring brought out the flowers, with the lilies, the daisies, the roses. The roses. Galinda's eyes scanned the ground for any roses, but it was too early in the season. Her eyes landed back on Elphaba, and she leaned in a little, smelling the space between them.
"Do I get an explanation as to why you're sniffing me like a hound."
"Are you wearing the perfume?" Galinda asked, unaffected. If she was, she was drowned in it. The simple rose petal perfume that Galinda picked smelled closer to a bundle of fresh bouquets. While intense, Galinda had to admit that it did smell nice. Elphaba smelled dangerously good.
"I don't wear perfume, so no. And I don't know what you mean by 'the perfume,' either. Is there only one? A communal perfume that you girls take part in? I had no idea." Galinda rolled her eyes.
"Then what was that bottle in your drawer? The one that had some type of oil in it?" No sense turning back now. She was curious.
Elphaba was confused and thrown for a loop.
"You looked through my stuff?" she asked. Her voice, scratchy, had an undertone of annoyance to it. "If I weren't your roommate or your friend I'd report you for that."
"I'm sorry Elphie, I shouldn't have done it. But then, what was it if not a bottle of perfume?" she asked, worried now. She hadn't just switched them, she had thrown the old one out, too.
"Galinda, I use that to bathe. Now, I have to go, my class is starting and you've made me late." She fled before Galinda could tell her anything else.
She uses it to bathe? Oh god, what had she done. The poor girl couldn't even smell how ridiculous she was. The stares she received today, not of the usual kind, but of unapologetically rude intrigue. Elphaba wears perfume? they must've all thought, or rather, that she swam in it.
Galinda felt bad, and she was ready to tell Elphaba that night, but the thought of her wearing the perfume for the next couples of days delighted her. The rose petals (bouquets) suited her well; it was intoxicating. Galinda didn't know why she phrased it like that and she didn't plan on addressing it. She just knew that she liked the way her roomie looked and smelled like a flower, her green skin stem-like. And she knew it would fade into nothingness sooner or later, as long as Elphaba went a couple more days without it. Then Galinda could tell her.
Except she didn't.
She bathed every day. Probably because of the sick germs she wanted to be rid of.
It was dizzying. Galinda felt overcome with desire every time Elphaba entered a room, a space, an outdoor space. One day, she was having lunch outside when Boq and Elphaba came to join her. Elphaba was over her frostiness toward Galinda.
"Mind if we join?" Boq asked, somewhat rhetorically. Galinda smiled her smallest smile.
"Not at all. Hello Elphie." Galinda almost choked the words out, it was so much.
"Hello Galinda." She smirked. "I hope you aren't catching my illness? I'm almost over it. It's quite stubborn."
"Like someone I know," piped up Boq. Elphaba slapped him playfully.
"Almost over it? That's great!" Then you can stop confusing me with that drowning scent of yours!
Though it had been her fault, really. She was to blame. And what was stopping her from telling Elphaba herself? Was it because it'd put an end to this little fiasco? Sweet Oz, I'm attracted to her. She gulped, guiltily. It was there all along, the perfume had just sort of helped her.
She felt dirty all of a sudden. She couldn't wait to come clean. Elphaba didn't know the effect she had on her 'cause she didn't know what "the effect" was. To her everything was more or less normal, except for how nice everyone had been treating her all of a sudden, as they were pulled in by her aroma as much as Galinda had been. It made Galinda jealous, which only made her feel worse. Jealous over what? She was acting as if Elphaba were hers... although, truthfully, she wanted her to be. The perfume, subconsciously, had been a present to her, too. Something she could enjoy from a distance, something she could identify every time Elphaba were to put some on. Maybe Elphaba thought of her every time she poured some onto her fingers and dabbled it along her neck.
Well she didn't now. She couldn't now. And it was so obnoxiously strong that it wasn't something shared between them. It was shared with the world. Galinda bit into her sandwich irritably.
"Elphie, have you noticed how amazing you've smelled these past couple of days?" Galinda shot Boq a look. Elphaba put her fork down and matched his face in her own look of confusion.
"What are you on about? Is this your horrible attempt at flirting with me, Master Boq?" She set her pointed elbows on the table and rubbed her temples with her fingers. "Not you too. I've had enough of this. All day and yesterday, people I've hardly ever seen before helping to carry my books, walking me to class, treating me like one of those high-end girls, like, like..."
"Like Pfannee and Shenshen," Galinda offered.
"Exactly." Elphaba looked gobsmacked, but she plunged on. "Everyone's being so nice to me and I don't know why, and I can't help but think it's some kind of trick. What's this about my smell?"
"Maybe that's it. Maybe somebody pranked you. Swapped your shampoo for that of cologne. Or a love potion."
Love potion? Galinda's eyes went a little out of focus. Did she misread the labeling? Had it actually been a love potion, cleverly disguised as your typical perfume? She felt excited, but also disappointed.
"Excuse me. I have to go... do something." She got up and hastily wrapped the remainder of her sandwich. They eyed her suspiciously, Elphaba studying her especially. "It was lovely catching up. Boq, Elphaba." She left without a nice, proper goodbye, fleeing to the room, to check the perfume's packaging for any mentionings of "love" or "potion" or "love potion."
Elphaba calmly turned to Boq, her arms placed casually on top the lunch table.
"I think I should say my farewells too, Boq. Your mentioning of this 'prankster.' I think I know exactly who it may be." And with that, she got up and left, almost in a run.
When Galinda returned to the room, she dropped the sloppy remains of her sandwich onto her desk and went straight for Elphaba's drawer. She rummaged through it and pulled out the bottle—only half of it was left.
She turned it over, her eyes scanning the small print for any indication that yes, this was a love potion, and no, Galinda wasn't actually in love with Elphaba Thropp.
She didn't have to look that hard. In big, swirly lettering read the words Love Potion Perfume. In smaller print, it read: "The subtle and safe way to one's heart. Makes one irresistible. For maximum effect, apply every day."
Well she's certainly done that.
But she felt better. It all made sense now. She felt stupid for not noticing it in the store, though, where she could've prevented this whole mess. Suddenly, before she had enough time to return the bottle to its rightful place, Elphaba came in and all Galinda could do was shut the drawer and put her hands behind her back, the bottle with it.
Elphaba eyed her, her dark skirts whirling.
"What's behind your back," she said tensely.
"Nothing." This was so stupid, but she hated to see Elphaba mad. Mad at her.
Elphaba snatched the bottle from behind Galinda, who stood rigid. She held it by the tips of her fingers and studied it, reading the swirly lettering out loud.
"Love Potion Perfume." She studied it some more, her face composed and rid of any emotion. Until it wasn't. "Why?" she asked so tenderly, so brokenly that it hurt Galinda, who could feel herself beginning to cry. How was she to do this, how was she to explain.
She had to try.
"Elphie... I didn't mean... it wasn't..."
Elphaba's lips stayed pressed. Galinda went on, carrying that feeling of importance she had with her. She sighed.
"It was supposed to be a birthday present. Nessa even advised against it, saying you hated presents. But I didn't listen. I thought, I could do something nice for you." She paused. Elphaba's eyes softened. Galinda forged on. "I didn't even notice the words on it. They're big and obvious but I didn't even notice them. I was just there to replace your old bottle of oil, what I thought to be perfume. Amateur stuff. I didn't know it was... for bathing..." She blushed a deep red. "And now the whole school thinks they're in love with you," she murmured under her breath. Even me, but that's okay. Because it's the potion, not me. It's the potion Elphaba, so you don't have to worry.
Elphaba sighed and clucked her tongue. She began to grin to herself.
"Silly girl," she simply said, and it made Galinda blush harder. "How do you manage to be so sweet yet so silly?"
"Oh come on, Elphaba. I'm not 'silly.' I'm stupid. You can say it."
"No, no I don't think I can." She kept grinning to herself then studied the bottle again, then she let out a big laugh which startled Galinda.
"What?" Galinda asked, laughing a little herself. Elphaba's laugh could do that.
"Some potion. It didn't even work on everybody," Elphaba mused to herself.
"Oh?" Galinda asked playfully, the tension from before quickly draining away. She moved toward Elphaba's bed and sat on it, attributing it to the alluring potion that was seeped into her sheets and pillow.
"For starters, it didn't work on Boq," Elphaba reasoned aloud.
"That's not true! For once he left me alone. He was following you around like some lovesick puppy."
"More than usual, too." Elphaba sighed. "I guess you're right. But that still leaves you. You weren't affected, I don't think." Elphaba began to hum to herself as she joined Galinda on top of her own bed.
Galinda's heart began beating rapidly. It hadn't worked on her? Her head felt dizzy.
"What do you mean? What do you mean I wasn't affected?" Her voice was as level as she could make it. Elphaba stopped her humming.
"What I mean is, I couldn't notice any obvious differences between pre-potion Galinda and post-potion Galinda. Both are very sweet toward me, both are very talkative, both are very—"
"Both are very much in love with you."
Galinda's eyes widened. She had just said it, so easily. She could hear her heart thumping in her chest, she could feel the top of her cheeks getting hot.
"What?" Elphaba asked, softly. Her eyes were big, childlike, her cheeks flushed a darker green. "You... you..."
All Galinda could do was show her. And all Elphaba could do was call her silly, silly girl between each caress and kiss.