The figure moved quickly through the silent streets. She carried a broomstick in one hand, a large book in her other arm, and a pointed hat rested on her head. It was a calm, cold night, and the only sounds were from the young woman's feet. She seemed almost more shadow than human, and she looked nervously behind her more than once. Her cape billowed softly behind her as she swiftly walked past the many houses, all of them getting more rundown as she passed them. She stopped suddenly, and turned to her right. After checking the house numbers, she walked up the crooked cement steps, and her green hand shuffled the broomstick around to knock quickly on the door.
She stood waiting, her eyes on the ground, and in a few more moments than she was comfortable with, the door opened.
Dr. Dillamond looked down at the woman on his doorstep and gasped in a sigh of relief. She didn't look up. "Elphaba," he breathed. He took a step forward and embraced her in his large arms. She let him, leaning in to his shoulder, and he felt her shudder. He wasn't sure if it was from the cold or from the emotion, but he didn't ask her. He held her for another moment, then stepped back. She looked up at him finally. Her face was expressionless once again.
He ushered her inside quickly, and she stepped past him into the doorway. As soon as she had, he poked his Goat's head outside of the door and looked both ways, making sure she hadn't been followed. He didn't see anyone, and he came back inside, shut the door, and turned around.
She was standing in his living room, staring downwards. She looked awkward with all of her things, and he noticed it. "Come, let me take…" he trailed off uncomfortably, feeling odd saying "broomstick". She handed him her broomstick and book, and he gestured for her hat, which she gave up after a moment. He set them next to the door, and faced Elphaba. They held eye contact for a moment, and then he gestured towards the worn, moth-eaten couch. "Sit down, sit down," he told her. She did, and was quiet for a moment.
"Thank you," she then said softly. "I wasn't sure if…"
He nodded. He knew.
He grabbed a chair from the wall that he never used, for lack of need, and sat across from her. They stared at each other, then he stood up hurriedly. "Do you need anything? Food…?"
"Some water," she told him, not skipping a beat.
He came back from his tiny kitchen with a plate of bread and a glass of water. "I'm sorry," he apologized, "I haven't gone shopping in awhile."
She shook her head. "It's fine. Thank you."
She took the plate and glass from him and took a long drink of water, and began eating, glad he had brought it, though she hadn't asked. Dr. Dillamond was quiet, watching his green, former student eat, but his mind was elsewhere. She finished quickly and he took the plate and glass from her, taking them into the kitchen. He came back and sat in his chair again. She continued to stare at the floor, clearly troubled.
"I was very afraid for your safety, Elphaba," he told her in his husky voice. She looked at him, her face holding no meaning, but her eyes showing gratitude. "But I didn't believe them," he said, answering her first comment. "I didn't believe anything told to me...I got the paper – "
"The paper?" she cut him off, in near-disbelief.
He caught his breath, feeling as if he shouldn't have said anything.
She felt chills on the back of her neck. She was in the paper? She knew she was a fugitive, she grasped that…but they considered it that big to put her in the paper?
"May I see it?" she whispered.
They looked at each other for a moment, and then he got up, walking back to the kitchen. He came back with a newspaper in his hand, and gave it to her.
She started to tremble as she saw that she was front-page news. The words scrolling across the top of the page read
"Beware! Wicked Witch spreads horrible lies and mutilates defenseless animals".
She dropped the paper on the wooden coffee table in front of her. She didn't want to read any more. She brought her shaking hand in to her slowly, and her lower lip trembled a bit before she regained composure. Dr. Dillamond watched her carefully.
"Being different caused both of our downfalls, didn't it?" he asked her, trying to keep the tone light – it didn't work.
She didn't respond to his statement for a moment, then nodded slowly, not looking at him.
"What happened?" he asked her after a moment. She met his eyes, almost in surprise that he had spoken. He noticed her shade of green had grown a few shades lighter, and he guessed that meant she was pale.
"What did you hear?" she asked him in return.
He told her. In the paper, it had told him, in short, that she had mercilessly mutilated a flock of the Wizard's monkeys, and then began to spread lies about the Wizard for "reasons unknown to the media at this point". She then flew off, stealing a valuable spell book.
"It sounds to me," Dr. Dillamond concluded, "that they weren't done concocting their story. I'm afraid…I think there will be more to it in tomorrow's news."
Elphaba flinched, and looked towards the Grimmerie. "I think I did steal it," she said, not sounding sorry. "But that's it!" she said earnestly to Dr. Dillamond. "I didn't…" she trailed off, suddenly looking very tired. "Did you hear anything else?" she asked after another moment.
"Like…gossip-wise." She seemed almost scared to hear about it.
He rubbed his eyes, not wanting to tell her everything he had heard in gossip – not being able to break her heart with tales of people staying indoors until she was caught, of keeping their children right next to them when they did venture out, of those who blamed her skin color, who said she wasn't "built to function in a normal society"…he couldn't. He shook his head. "I haven't gone out today," he lied.
She knew he was lying, but didn't question it, not entirely certain she wanted to know anyway. "What about Glinda?" she asked quickly.
"She's fine, I'm sure," he reassured her. "The paper have made her out to be a hero, you needn't worry about her."
She breathed a quick sigh of relief, deciding not to wonder about why Glinda was a hero – she thought she knew. She stifled a yawn, but Dr. Dillamond saw it anyway. "Come," he said, standing up. "You need some sleep."
Elphaba didn't argue, and stood up, following him to his bedroom. There was a small bed in a small room, and he patted her on the shoulder. "It'll be okay," he said, hoping he wasn't – and fearing he was – lying. She nodded, not really listening. He went out of the room and shut the door behind him. He'd spend the night on the couch. He was just glad that she was safe – and that he knew it.
She awoke late the next morning, with the sun already trying to stream in past the tightly drawn curtains. She sat up and rubbed her eyes. Her vision was blurry, as she had lost her glasses, and she hated the helpless feeling she always got when she didn't have her glasses on. She stretched her arms and then got out of bed, still fully dressed (cape and all) from the night before. She made the bed with the handmade quilt that adorned it and stepped around the bed to the door, cautiously walking out to the living room.
Dr. Dillamond wasn't out there, and she immediately felt her heart pound. Had the Guard come and taken him away while he was sleeping because she was there? No, that wouldn't make sense, they would have taken her. She bit her lip, hating thoughts like these that were already coming so easy to her. She walked to the room that she hadn't been in last night, the kitchen. He wasn't there, but she noticed a piece of paper. She walked to it.
"Don't leave, I'll be back soon."
She assumed the note was meant for her, and her heartbeat returned to normal. She looked around his kitchen. It was small, like the other few rooms, and held very few things. There was a cupboard on the wall, and an ice box on the ground. A small, flimsily made table sat in the middle of the floor with one chair next to it. She walked back into the living room. She hadn't noticed very much about it the night before, but she was a little more coherent today. It had a beautiful painting on the wall, clearly an antique, the couch, the chair, and a wooden coffee table in front of the couch. It also had a bookcase shoved in the corner, big, with books overflowing out of it. She looked more closely at the coffee table. Even with her blurry vision, she could tell there were now two newspapers on it. She stood in the doorway of the kitchen, staring at the paper. Did she want to read it? She knew she did. Would she be able to handle what it said, though?
She heard steps outside, and she quickly retreated to the kitchen, not liking that that was instinctively. She heard the door open and then slam shut. She knew it was Dr. Dillamond, and felt silly that her breath was coming shorter.
"Elphaba?" he called out softly, confirming her suspicions. She poked her head out of the kitchen, and he smiled at her. He had two bags of food with him, which he brought into the kitchen and laid neatly on the counter. "Did you see the paper?" he asked, hoping to seem off-hand.
She cleared her throat. "No," she said.
He nodded, and decided that she wouldn't want to hear about the signs posted all around with safety precautions to take since the "Wicked Witch" was on the loose.
"Do you want breakfast?" he asked her. She shrugged and nodded at the same time.
"Thanks," she said. He waved it off.
After he shooed her from the kitchen, she wandered to his door, looking at the things she had brought with her. The Grimmerie…her broomstick…her hat. She kneeled down and sat cross-legged, gently putting the Grimmerie into her lap. She opened it carefully. It was an old book, and she was afraid that it would break every time she turned a page. She didn't know why she could read it, but she could. She had flipped to that dreaded page, the page that had given the monkeys wings – though it had made her broom fly. She closed it quickly and set it down. She would look at it later.
After breakfast (which was actually lunch for Dr. Dillamond; it was after noon) Dr. Dillamond and Elphaba both went to the living room and sat down.
"What do you plan on, Elphaba?" he asked her seriously.
She broke his gaze and stared off. "I don't know," she said, somewhat helplessly.
He continued to look at her, instinctively knowing, as a teacher should, that it wasn't his turn to speak.
She looked back at him. "I don't know," she whispered again.
It was his turn, now. "You can stay here," he said. As she began to shake her head, he went on. "Elphaba, no one will suspect me of having you! Most don't even know where I live, I don't even know how you did," she glanced over at the Grimmerie then, as it had showed her where he was, "I moved after I…stopped teaching. Anyway, Elphaba…you'd be safe here."
They stared at each other for nearly a minute, and neither one said a word. She shook her head, though. "I know I would," she told him. "But you wouldn't."
Hooray, all! I'm back! I think this is already starting out better than my last story, which gives me hope (besides the fact that neither character is yet...in character). Hope you all liked it, review saying if you did!