Disclaimer: Gregory Maguire wrote the book, approved the musical, and is raking in the profits accordingly. I have done none of these.
Notes: I felt like deconstructing Nessarose and experimenting with disjointedness. Shifting POV, ahoy.
1.) The belief in the deity of one's own self without denying the existence of other deities.
2.) Deification of one's self; self-worship.
She was always gentle, except for her tongue. In school, one of her classmates had muttered those words and sent Avaric's mouth curling lazily into a smirk.
Nessarose knows what she wants.
Elphaba, perpetually vacillating between passion and indifference, was never so easily satisfied.
Nessarose, though, takes what she's been given and runs with it, in a manner of speaking. She wants to live, but not simply by breathing and sleeping and tottering through life with her eyes on the ground. Above all, she knows she wasn't made to spit out children and lap up conventions. Both inside and outside of the classroom, she has a habit of politely but deliberately speaking her mind until her opponent's argument is worn to dust. Any convictions she possesses are backed up with infallible logic and a refusal to be proven wrong. To support the former and ensure against the latter, she devoutly studies the notes taken for her during class and has Nanny turn the pages of her books by the hour. Nessarose Thropp, who wavers like a reed if she takes more than half a dozen steps on her own, rarely budges on matters of the mind.
Not everyone understands her, a fact she accepts with placid smiles and bored eyes. It's only to be expected. The plane on which she chooses to operate is loftier by far than that of the populace. She is holier than thou, but with good reason, looking down her delicate nose at whoever thou may be. Nessarose is not the prototype of perfection, but she believes and does it with a vengeance. She is not sinless, but she knows her aspirations, which is more than most people ever realize.
She thinks so, anyway, but no one has ever proved her wrong. Frex had his guilt-ridden sermons, Melena had her nostrums, and Elphaba long ago learned it was best that they agree to disagree.
Before, she and her sister fought as children in the marshes, Elphaba with words and Nessarose with kicks. She has damnably pretty legs, which Elphaba sulkily thinks are nature's compensation for the limbs she lacks. (When Elphaba twists and hunches the way she does so often, her knees seem sharp enough to slice open her palms, but she stubbornly hugs them around her legs all the same.) Once, while they argued yet another philosophy into the ground, Nessarose was sitting on her bed. As Elphaba bent to look her in the eye, Nessarose lifted one silk-stocking clad leg and clocked her under the chin. Elphaba, floored and bruised, had glared daggers and quickly swished both sleeves under her watering eyes.
Nessarose does not look back on the occasion with any semblance of pride. She sequesters her pride for other occasions and Elphaba, after all, never laid a hand on her. She may be as pensive and sullen as they come, but not given to senseless violence. When she was very young, Elphaba claimed she would never hit anyone incapable of hitting back, and she kept her word. But Nessa could kick, and occasionally still doeswhen there are mealtime conversations that make her eyes narrow almost imperceptibly, someone's carelessly swinging legs have a habit of working beneath the tablecloth to change the subject for the price of a few bruised ankles.
Righteousness aside, she is capable of forgiveness, albeit only so long as she feels the situation merits it. That evening in the marshes, she gave it willingly. There were sunsets in Quadling country when the clouds were thin and lavender and the sky was veined with red. Nessarose tenderly brushed her lips against her sister's cheek and in the light it seemed Elphaba's face burned the color of flames.
The illusion never repeated itself until Shiz, when Nessarose made the mistake of mentioning the decline of religious factionalism in front of the headmistress. Madame Morrible's response had been a diatribe on the naïveté of youth, culminating in a claim that Nessarose's beliefs were only the result of her sheltered upbringing and anyone her age had yet to experience life as it truly was. "Such vulnerable positions all of you inhabit here," she had pronounced, blandly and serenely. "One must bear in mind, however, that one cannot expect to face the world so…unarmed."
Elphaba, armed with a diatribe of her own, strode into her sister's room later that day to commiserate, only to find herself promptly and uncharacteristically staggered. There was Nessarose, sitting backwards in an armchair, too preoccupied to realize there was anyone at the door.
Through the gossamer slab of a window, sunlight streamed into the room and trembled across the green girl's pinched face. Framed by the doorway and the sunset, she stared. The situation was self-explanatory but seemed intent on instead making itself clear in pieces, registering little by little in Elphaba's mind as if she were recalling a dream from the night before. Images approached, then context, then comprehension, then a superhuman effort not to let her jaw drop down to her ankles or her fist slam into a wall.
The shoulder was first, a neat knot of bone and muscle, and then the other, both free of sleeves. Then the buttons, not orderly at all, and a favorite dress that bunched and crumpled on its wearer in unfamiliar ways, like a blanket. Sitting backwards, but not completely on an armchair, one leg on either side of another pair of legs. Nature's overcompensation fully displayed, from willowy thighs to rounded knees to slender feet, still ensconced in those red, red shoes that hardly touched the ground. And there were arms. It was the arms that did her in. Nessarose, age fifteen, hair down and skirts raised, had hands on her in the most literal sense possible.
Elphaba wasn't feeling particularly intelligent. "Well, fuck."
He laughed at that, smoothly and easily. Avaric was always laughing, so sophisticated, never daunted. Maybe it hadn't been the best choice of words.
Nessarose was caught off guard and reacted like someone who is unaccustomed to being caught off guard. "What in the world are you doing here?" Avaric was grimacing, or grinning. Baring teeth, either way, that gleamed whitely between lips that were unusually bright. "What are you doing here?" Always gentle, except for her tongue.
"Seeing as I live next door and Master Avaric does not, it…uh…" She was still too stunned to summon up a graceful reply. Damn it.
The Gillikinese boy didn't bat an eye. Damn that, too. "Good evening, Miss Elphaba."
"Normally you knock," Nessarose pointed out.
"I didn't expect to come in here and find you straddling the bastard. Where the hell is Nanny?"
"Nanny is running errands," she said significantly. "Master Avaric was kind enough to keep me company."
Thanks to the sunset, Elphaba was livid. "For what, a theology lesson? Is this a stylish new way to share your love for the Unnamed God? Would Master Avaric be so kind as to place his hands in plain view?" She wondered if she sounded like a schoolmarm. She wondered if she cared.
Nessarose languidly inclined her head, shoulders rolling, neckline dipping far below the neck. "How silly. You want to specialize in the natural sciences, therefore you should be well-versed in the mentalities of adolescent females, assuming you aren't already by being one yourself. Of course, for someone as inhuman as you're fond of claiming to be, heaven knows. That's the difference between us, Elphie. I don't sulk and theorize: I act. You, who never so much as prays, can't possibly comprehend the value of acting."
"There is a different between activism and vainglory."
"Shove off," Avaric was beginning to look bored, as if the whole thing was a dull, drawn-out joke. "She's a smart girl, leave her alone. A person can have whatever they like as long as they know a feasible means of attaining it." The one indolent eye not obscured by his mussed hair met Elphaba's, and he grinned like a wolf.
"Don't envy me, please," Nessarose said, all innocent and solicitous.
When Elphaba slapped her, all three of them yelped like animals.
Blushing at last, Nessarose prosaically presented her other cheek, resting the injured one on Avaric's shoulder. "Please get out, Elphie."
Elphaba left, one hand over her face, and no one watched her go.
Nessarose knows what she wants. Mortals are just that; the Unnamed God is where devotion truly matters.
With Nessarose, everything happens for a reason. Her courses of action fall neatly before her. She can decide to square her too-narrow shoulders and go plunging against the world, or she can decide to gracefully fall into its tides and let it support her like a hand on her back. And then, there is also the option of rising too far above the crowd to be bothered with it at all.
There will always be undeniable truths. Bonds between mortals can be cut, but the Unnamed God endures; she and Elphaba cannot always agree to disagree; and no one can ever have everything they desire. But if confidence is power, Nessarose is fully armed in a way no headmistress will ever understand.
She's used to being misunderstood. It comes with the position. There is no one like her in the world.