Author's Note: A great thanks to Yvi, who, if reading this, gave me much strength and "hele-on" that I needed for this piece. The email was unexpected and well-received. It cements me so much to see that the people who do enjoy this enjoy my experimentation, however strange, with the characters. Thanks.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Maguire's.

Chapter 5: No Sin to Be Scintillating

"But Dorothy's right," said the Scarecrow. "No one is exempt from grief."

"Nice to see you again, Margreave."

The man nodded as garlands of flowers exploded into petals behind him, the continuous layers of alabaster white irritating his eyes. He hoped the good shoes and suit he was wearing lasted through the day; there were copious amounts of red wine and pastries.

Those servants had better be balanced, he thought. Fuck if they ruin something their week wages will never pay.

He deftly snatched a drink from a moving tray. Weddings always irritated him. He chugged the damn thing down, retching inwardly at the taste. Glinda couldn't afford anything tastier? Someone in particular caught his eye and he sauntered down the aisle, wondering if the bride wouldn't mind his premature departure from her most marvelous guests.

"Boq, my good sir, how do you fare?" He smirked quite deviously, knowing in advance about his friend's elopement with a certain Miss Milla. Boq, in turn, smiled warmly and placed a freckled hand on his comrade's expensive shoulder.

"Avaric. Lurine, it's been years." Avaric's shoulder slumped in relief and smiling also, he took Boq's face in his hands and kissed his forehead and cheeks, an upper class Gillikinese custom that he knew bothered Boq.

To Boq, Avaric looked as dashing as ever. Fantastic build, immaculate hair (Boq fretted wildly about his; Bfee had started losing his during his mid-twenties) and terrific teeth. If anything, since graduation, Avaric had gotten much more good-looking…which couldn't be said for some of them. Avaric nodded involuntarily as if reading his private thoughts.

"Heard about you and Miss Milla, Tick Tock Boq!" He ruffled his hand through Boq's hair and Boq squirmed, laughing.

"At least I'm married, you cad." Avaric laughed also, a good hearty sound that really hadn't been heard in years.

"What d'yo mean by that?" He aimed a punch at his friend, but Boq dodged it, grinning.

"You know what I mean, you Gillikinese whore."

"Better a whore than a married man!" They must have looked so silly, two men in suits badgering each other.

"Like little boys", an older, bejeweled woman sniffed, unnoticed by the joking men. The older woman then turned again to her discussion partner, but found that he had left, and towards the men no less!

"Men…" she muttered under the good graces of her exterior. Grumbling inwardly, she gingerly picked up the hem of her gown's cape and adjusted her glittery silver mask. "Lady Eminence! How wonderful of you to be here!" Hearing her name, she flashed a terribly wide smile to the approaching stranger.

"I wouldn't have missed it for the world, Miss Galinda."

The light fastened onto Avaric's glowing face, ripples of gold shimmering on his fine skin. Boq grinned as he stared at the man he so fondly admired. Yet something lurked beneath in those watery gray eyes. A shiver of unease washed over Boq like the icy lake water that Elphie hated so much.

Elphie…

Boq stumbled backward slightly, remembering something not meant to be remembered, yet before he could remark, something that was painful enough to be remembered slammed into his shoulder.

He whirled around, confused, in the direction of his attacker, but before he could succumb to the pain in his shoulder, he opened his arms up wide and embraced the man. With or without the dark skin and tattoos, Boq reckoned he could spot his old friend anywhere.

"Fiyero!" Avaric patted the man on the back, forgetting much in this frenzy of reunion.

"How goes it, Sir Prince?" Fiyero laughed, tossing back his shoulder-length hair that had gotten in the way of introductions..

"I ask the same of you, Sir Margreave."

"Fucked that wife of yours, already, have we? I can see the glow of utter delight on your face." Boq sputtered at his friend's callousness and, in other circumstances, bravery. Fiyero looked built enough to kill lions and tigers and even bears.

Thank Unnamed God, Boq thought, that Fiyero decided to laugh.

"She's pregnant with our second child, actually. Quite unnaturally fertile." Avaric grinned, a most malicious type of grin, thought Boq, but thought no more of it.

"A boy, am I right? It would be terrible if the first-born was a girl." Fiyero cocked his head at this, smiling faintly as if considering a different fate.

"What's wrong with girls, Margreave?"

A servant girl approached them with a tray of cocktails, and Avaric plucked a severe, lime colored drink from the chilled tray. He sipped it, relishing the biting flavor.

"Girls are dreadful trouble."

The fine hairs on the back of his neck prickled slightly, the muscles on his back froze rigid under his suit. He recognized the forcefully gentle breathing instantly, and from somewhere in his life.

"Are we?" The musical lilt to her voice scratched at his ears. "Are we really?"

Judging from the barely masked longing in Boq's face, he knew he couldn't be wrong.

"Miss Glinda."

Boq was startled at the initial harshness in Avaric's voice. Perhaps a slight cold interfering with his senses? Avaric, with his glacial beauty and unnatural poise, had always seemed quite cold. Boq wondered for a moment if Avaric had ever fallen in love and if that really mattered to someone like him. He toyed a bit with his thoughts, and remembered something Milla told him a while ago when the subject of Shiz came up. Something about inefficiency? And then he wandered over to the unspoken thoughts, the thoughts about the Philosophy Club roughly a year ago…two?

However, before Boq could recall what desperately needed to be recalled, his thoughts, as all thoughts of Munchkins go, fell upon his loved one…which can not, should Milla find out, be Glinda. For Boq was a good farmer, and a better man. Cheating is cheating, and so the wickedness in thought were just so: wicked.

So he wondered (since the conversation was probably meant for the two of them, and Boq didn't want to be rude), and wondered. Had Avaric "done" his Milla at Shiz? Boq glanced around, much like a person just realizing the sudden disappearance or forever loss of something.

Where had Fiyero gone?

Avaric casually glanced her over, cocking an eyebrow approvingly. Beautiful as usual, he thought. And, like everyone else, usual beauty.

Not wanting to seem like a total ass, he extended his hand and surprisingly (or not so?) she accepted it, the irrevocable glamour in her diamond ring stinging his eyes. It glittered copiously, like everything else in his life, and judging from the cut and color, he surmised it must have cost a fortune.

The lady before him, so beautiful and girlish, looked suddenly so tired as she glanced up at him. He breathed in the slight rings around her mouth, caused from smiling too much and far too wide. His handsomeness choked in her leaning frame, also caused by wedding preparations and tottering around in heels.

And that poor, tired, beautifully tragic doll-of-a-person embraced his damned self, so spontaneous that even Boq stepped back in amazement and Fiyero, now having moved to the other side of the wedding, stared unabashed. His body and heart at the same time stiffened and stopped.

"I miss her, Avaric." Her tears soaked through his suit and she murmured against him, a little girl dressed in a wedding gown and tiara, just whispering the name Elphie, Elphie, Elphie, like a strange song that seemed never to end. He stood there, insides doing cartwheels, as he again welcomed those ruining tears onto his coat.

Boq just stood there, taking in the sight. He saw a terrible crease of lines where Glinda's ring had moved upwards on her finger, and the probability of a ruined suit caused by Glinda's joyous crying.

But he digressed, as he always did. For they were rich, and also beautiful.

And the rich and beautiful can afford a ruined suit and an ill-fit ring.

Fortune, they can spare.

Said the Scarecrow. "No one is exempt from grief."