Hello again! I've just realized that I've been working on this story for OVER A YEAR! Some of my older (meaning stuck with me since the beginning) readers may recall a most happy time when I updated once a week! Ah, those were the days. Sadly enough, dancing 30 hours a week and starting school soon is not improving my update rate. I implore you to bear with me. On with the show…
Disclaimer: I do not own Wicked. I do not think anyone in their right mind would write a fanfiction for their own novel.
Ever since the last letter, Glinda had been plagued by nightmares full of remorse. They were always the same: Elphie would melt on the ground, her hat floating in the puddle, and then suddenly she would materialize again, her and Fiyero and a faceless baby, and she would plead silently, "How could you forget me?"
Every night it would be the same. Glinda would awaken, sweating and panting, her breath ragged from the night terror, and wonder the same thing each night: Could I have somehow prevented this? Could I have found a way to bring Elphaba and her family out of obscurity so they could live in peace?
The part of the dream that disturbed her wasn't the extreme vividness of her friend's death.
No. It was that Elphie was pleading
Glinda knew Elphie well enough to know that pleading was something that Elphie did in her life so little that she could most likely count the number of times she begged on one hand. She could never remember Elphie imploring for anything. It always seemed that she demanded- ordered Glinda to come to the Emerald City with her, insisted she have Nessa's shoes. Elphaba was never really as pessimistic as she wanted everyone to believe; Glinda believed that, deep in her heart, Elphie knew people were mostly good, but when they showed that they were a bit reluctant to work for what Elphie considered good, she insisted that they rearrange their priorities to match hers. Really, Glinda remembered, it was a bit trying at times.
But then Glinda remembered, clear as the unionist church bells, two incidents in which Elphaba was pleading. Once was with the Wizard in the Emerald City. The other was something that Glinda considered trivial at the time, but now that she was low on memories, it seemed of utmost importance to her.
> > > > >
"Sweet Oz, Glinda. That's the sixth one in the past half hour."
Glinda twirled around in front of the mirror, which they had bought soon after the infamous hat incident. Glinda had decided she would not be bothered with trotting over to the bathroom in different outfits to simply view herself. Right now, she was dressed impeccably in a peach satin cocktail gown embroidered with pearls on the bodice and the trim. Glinda smiled at her reflection, admiring the bold cut of the neckline, the cap sleeves, and the fashionable Glikkun lace. She had purchased the dress from a tiny little shop on the edge of town nearly a year ago, and she'd paid nearly an arm and a leg for it, but right now she felt like going out to dance tonight, and she felt she would not dance as well in any other dress.
Suddenly, Glinda became aware that Elphie had spoken to her. She whirled around and peered at Elphie, who was on her bed, studying her history notes.
"This is it," Glinda replied. "This is the dress. I shan't have to try on any more."
"Thank Oz for that," Elphie's sarcasm bit the air. "If you tarry any longer, we'll be late."
Glinda glanced at the clock dismissively. "Not late enough for them to worry." Her gaze became critical. "What are you wearing tonight?"
"What's wrong with what I'm wearing?" Elphie asked, offended.
Glinda studied Elphie's dress. It was pretty, Glinda conceded, but not right for cocktails. It was short sleeved, which was odd for Elphaba. The inky black (an Elphaba staple color) material hugged her upper body, and came down in an a-line cut from her waist, floating out in a swishy skirt. It was Bohemian and chic, Glinda thought. In vogue, even. But not right for cocktails.
"Well, Elphie," Glinda explained patiently, "it's a cocktail party, and cocktail dresses are short."
Elphie shrugged. "I think it's okay. Besides, we won't be at the cocktail party long. Boq and Crope and Tibbett and Fiyero and Avaric the Bastard have no patience for dancing. You wait and see- by nine o' clock, we'll be at a seedy pub for sure, and my attire will be more accepted there."
Glinda sighed, exasperated, and glided over to her wardrobe, throwing it open. "Humor me, why don't you?"
Glinda inspected Elphaba's collection (if you could even call it that) of clothes. They were all plain, modest dresses- some long, some short. Black, black, and more black, here and there navy or brown. Glinda sighed. She had her work cut out for her.
"I see you are unwilling to work with me," she said matter-of-factly. "We'll just have to use something from my closet."
"No." Glinda could tell Elphie was alarmed. "I refuse."
"No choice," Glinda sang out while throwing clothes around, trying to find an outfit for Elphaba to wear. She needed something that would complement her bright skin tone and her sharp un-feminine features.
"Perfect!" she exclaimed, pulling out a dress. In a tornado of Glinda-enthusiasm, she whipped off Elphie's current dress and left her shivering in her underclothes for a split second before forcing what Elphie believed was a storm cloud over her head and stuffing her into it. Glinda tugged and pulled the fabric, cursing under her breath.
"Oh dear," Glinda groaned.
"What?" Elphie's muffled retort came irritably from under a sea of fabric.
"I put it on the wrong way," Glinda sighed, jerking the dress downward. "You're supposed to step into it. But we'll just make… it… fit… good thing you're skinny." she gritted her teeth and grunted, and with one final yank and a quick zip up the back, the dress was in place.
Glinda watched Elphie gaze at herself in the mirror. The dress was beautiful. It was a mint-green knee length, almost white, covered in lace. It was simple, tight around the bodice, and broadening at the waist. Glinda smiled at Elphie, who was speechless. The color balanced her skin and the dress made her look coy, almost flirtatious.
"You look lovely," Glinda said, and she meant it truly. "Elphie, you are fantastic. You could wear white heels and I do believe I have a lace shawl somewhere around here." Glinda reached into her jewelry box and pulled out an opal pendant on a ribbon. "This would go perfectly, and I lent Pfannee the earrings, but we could stop by her room on the way over and get them, and you would have a matched set."
She plowed on giddily. "It look's fabulous! In fact, you can keep the dress. I've gained just a tad bit of weight since I bought that, and besides, that color makes me look sallow anyway…" Glinda moved to fasten the necklace around Elphie's neck.
But the contact seemed to have broken the spell. Elphie regained her normally lucid gaze and shook her head abruptly. "No," she said, "it's too much."
"Nonsense!" Glinda chimed. "It's a gift, Elphie."
"I meant the dress... it's just too much, I don't know… too much something," Elphie said slowly.
"You don't like it?" Glinda asked, crestfallen.
"No," Elphie continued mechanically, still a bit overwhelmed, "it's the most beautiful thing I've ever worn in my life. But it's not me. I just can't wear this out."
"Elphie," Glinda said impatiently. "You are wearing this dress. I insist. It looks gorgeous, you look gorgeous- what's not to love? I won't take no for an answer."
Elphaba turned her eyes to Glinda, and they frightened her. They were wide and pleading. "Glinda," Elphie said, her voice soft, "please don't make me wear it. Please. I just… can't wear this. I would feel very uncomfortable. I would much rather wear one of my own dresses." She went to her wardrobe and pulled out a black spaghetti strap dress.
"Alright," Glinda said, both a bit hurt and shocked at her friend's remarks. "But at least wear a bow around the waist and maybe some trim. I think light pink."
"How about silver or gray?" Elphie asked hopefully.
"White," Glinda said firmly.
"It's a deal," Elphie replied.
They shuffled around awkwardly, searching for something to say to break the silence. Finally Glinda said, "I guess I'll get started on this dress. I can finish it in ten minutes."
So Glinda altered Elphie's cocktail dress and Elphaba went back to her history notes. Gradually the awkward silence disappeared into a comfortable one, and they both pretended the cocktail dress incident never happened.
> > > > >
Glinda knew that she had crossed a line that day: a fine line that Elphie had drawn between sarcasm and insecurity, a line that should never be toed. Part of Glinda had wanted to scream and shout, "Why won't you let yourself be pretty? What do you have to lose?" But she understood that if she forced Elphie to expose her uneasiness, she would throw her over the edge, and their friendship alongside her.
> > > > >
The next morning, Glinda felt much more refreshed. Memories to her were what drugs were to others: an escape from reality, a chance to be someone else, to remember when she was someone else. It was a good high, but a horrible withdrawal- when she came back to reality, the bump was more like a huge wallop, and she thought that if she wasn't careful, someday she might just withdraw like a recluse into her memories and cease to live outside her own mind.
But for now she was content to enjoy the calm before the storm. And when she glided into the kitchen early in the morning, she was perfectly alright with the fact that Hilda, and therefore her morning entertainment, was absent. Instead, it was just little black-eyed Marla, baking a peach cobbler.
"Morning!" Glinda cried shrilly, startling the girl so that she almost dropped her pan. "Where's Hilda?"
"Called in sick," Marla said. "She wanted to come in, but she would have infected the whole place. I convinced her not to."
"Good girl," said Glinda absently.
"Would you like breakfast, madam?" Marla asked politely, remembering her manners.
"Simply an apple, I think." Glinda said. Seeing Marla moving to fetch one, she exclaimed, "Oh, no, dear! Stay where you are and finish that scrumptious-looking dish! I can get it myself. What are you baking for anyway?"
"Oh, a friend," Marla replied, checking the heat. "I visit a lady called Clarinda on Sundays. She's like an aunt to me."
"Clarinda, Boq's daughter?" Glinda asked.
"Yes." Marla looked confused. "I believe her father is called Boq."
"Oh, how splendid!" Glinda said delightedly. "I should really accompany you sometime. I haven't seen Clarinda since she was a wee little girl! Tell her that Glinda says hello when you see her, will you dear?"
"Of course," Marla curtsied as Glinda backed out of the room, humming to herself. Marla turned her attention back to the peach cobbler, wondering what Her Ladyship had been drinking last night.
The dress scene serves no extremely important purpose. I just wanted to show some more Younger Elphie. I wanted to open up more of her insecurities. The dress scene was inspired by my friend, who has Elphie-like clothes taste and makes shopping a pain in the ass.
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