Glinda stood watching her friend scurry around the attic looking for an escape, although they both knew the only door was the one they'd already come through. Elphaba stopped to look up, and Glinda followed her gaze to a window whose great height shrunk its image considerably. It seemed to be what Elphaba was looking for, as she stopped her frantic search to look at Glinda.
Time seemed to both shoot past and slow down as green hands thrust out a broom. The internal conflict in Glinda's mind was deafening in the silence of the room, and she began to tremble as she took a step back, a step away from her friend.
Her mind spun as three guards burst through the door, and the small, frightened blonde barely registered a kiss on her forehead before Elphaba took off through the window and out of sight.
"Where is she going?" a dangerously low masculine voice brought her swiftly back to a confused reality and she whipped around to see the guards, all seemed miles taller than her, staring down as would predators to prey.
She shrunk back, the abundance of emotionally jarring events that had occurred that day spun before her eyes and the poor girl fainted dead away.
She awoke much later, though what time it was, she did not know. She was in a clean, yet dark room. It was beyond freezing and as she looked around Glinda figured it to be a sort of dungeon or jail cell. The room was a small, four-walled square that seemed to close in on her as she sat on a makeshift bed. One of the walls had a sturdy looking door, but she could not see much else, for the only source of light was an open skylight on the ceiling in the direct center of the room.
The door was flung open and Glinda squinted as the room was momentarily flooded with light before a man slammed it closed once more. Glinda backed even further into the corner when the guard trained a gun on her and demanded to know where her green friend was. She sobbed and told him truthfully that she didn't know and the man kicked the dingy bedpost, causing her to jump in fright.
Elphaba watched discretely through the skylight nearly spitting with fury as the guard continued to threaten Glinda who was all but cowering under his wrath before he stormed out of the room. If not for better judgment and extraordinary discipline which comes only from being a minister's daughter Elphaba would have flown in right then and there to take the girl in her arms and fly out with her forever, but she didn't, for the man appeared to have returned with new tactics.
He came into the cell once more, and Glinda looked up to see him standing before her with a piece of bread that her deprived stomach found increasingly appetizing. He asked her once more where Elphaba was, and she said once more that she didn't know.
What surprised Elphaba was not the injustice that presented itself in the form of a deprivation of food, but the sudden change in Glinda's demeanor. As if reassured by some unidentified force, perhaps Elphaba's unseen presence, Glinda extracted herself from the corner of the bed and stood in front of the guard. However, the bigger surprise was not the girl's unsourced courage, but the look of pure fury and loathing in those now ice cold blue eyes. It was a glare that frightened even Elphaba, as she'd never seen the sweet blonde drip in such hatred.
Sure enough, the guard threw the roll of bread at her and disappeared from the cell. Elphaba reasoned that Glinda's sudden change in behavior was result of adrenaline surging through her, for when the door slammed closed she jumped and scampered over to the cot, curling up on its surface.
Elphaba waited until the last rays of sunlight brought the day to a close, covering her surroundings in a blanket of darkness. She grabbed her broom and lowered herself through the ceiling, landing noiselessly on the floor.
She looked around to see Glinda curled on the moth-bitten, sheetless cot. The poor girl was shivering from the unfortunate mixture of a lack of covers and the cool night air. Elphaba felt her heart rise in her throat as the tiny girl shook with a sob, murmuring a quiet 'Elphie' into her manicured hand that served as a pillow.
"Glinda," she whispered fiercely. Back at Shiz, the girl slept like one of the dead, waking only when she felt it was appropriate, but now, she jolted into a sitting position at the small noise and looked around frantically for its owner.
As the blue gaze settled itself on her, Elphaba was relieved to see recognition behind the frightened eyes she'd learned were a key to understanding Glinda's thoughts. Over their months spent as roommates Elphaba had come to the realization that no matter the situation, she could look at Glinda's eyes and read her thoughts almost as easily as the words in her books.
Glinda's lips mouthed 'Elphie' before she flew across the small room into open green arms that lifted her clean off the ground and held her tightly, as if to never let her go. Glinda locked her arms around Elphaba in a vice-like grip, burying her face under the chin of the girl who was swaying her back and forth.
"Elphie, Elphie, Elphie…" Glinda whimpered over and over again until Elphaba walked over to the cot and settled herself upon it, holding the blonde in her lap close to her chest.
As the time passed, Elphaba, perhaps uncharacteristically let herself remain in the unfriendly situation. She stayed awake that night, and hours after Glinda had fallen asleep in her arms, Elphaba tried desperately to convince herself that the girl was really safe now, really, truly, in her arms, snuggled against her in that moment, and that the shivers and shakes that tore through the green body were just as nonsensical as the tears burning down her cheeks.
She blinked the tears away, disgusted at her display of weakness, even if she was the only one who could see it. She looked down at Glinda who had wrapped herself around Elphaba's body and was clinging to it desperately, though she slept with a peaceful smile. Elphaba was amazed at the girl's unexpected metamorphosis from not being able to look at the green skin to burying her own pale face in the neck of the girl she'd once so hated, and while Glinda had obviously gotten over the mental and physical feelings of repulsion, her once prized and envied personality had changed as well.
Glinda sighed and snuggled in closer, mumbling some senseless, incoherent babble that made Elphaba smile and realize that Glinda was genuinely happy in her presence, and the revelation made her quite sure that she was indeed devoted to the blonde with every ounce of her being.
She stroked the golden hair absentmindedly before gently shaking the girl awake. The pale eyelids slowly opened and Elphaba found herself gazing into bleary blue eyes that still held the innocence and beauty of a child's. She wiped a stray lock of hair away from Glinda's face, the latter of whom was surprised by the almost delicate touch. She gave Elphaba a sleepy but happy smile and kissed her cheek before resting her head on the strong shoulder once more.
"No, Glin, wake up. We've stayed here long enough," she shook the blonde again, and Glinda stretched, unable to suppress the yawn that was creeping up through her chest. She then turned slightly to rest back comfortably against Elphaba's chest. She leaned her head back onto the strong shoulder and looked up at Elphaba, who was stroking her hair so gently she felt her eyes close again.
"Where are we going, Elphie?" she asked sleepily, moving neither her body nor her closed eyelids.
Elphaba wrapped her arms around Glinda's waist, letting her hands rest on top of the pale ones on Glinda's stomach. She placed her chin on top of the girl's head, and she herself realizing that she never wanted to move; that she wanted to stay there, happily snuggled with the one person she cared about, forever. She couldn't bring herself to accept the fact that one day, and soon, she would have to say goodbye to her only source of joy and sanity.
"I don't know, Glin," she said, and even Glinda, in her semiconscious state could tell Elphaba was deep in thought. "We have to escape before sunrise or we'll find we've dug ourselves into a hole too deep to get out of," and with that she tapped one of Glinda's hands, a signal that she really meant it this time.
Glinda stood, swaying slightly until she woke fully. She walked over to Elphaba and stood in front of her, underneath the skylight that had been so carelessly overlooked by her captors.
Elphaba pulled Glinda closely to her, and after slipping the broom under both of them, she guided them through the open ceiling to land effortlessly on the roof.
They brushed themselves off, and Glinda moved closer to Elphaba, taking her hand so gently it caused the green woman to look at her with concern. She had noticed, of course, that Glinda had not been saying much, though who wouldn't notice, when circumstances were so removed from normalcy, and she supposed the girl was frightened. Scared of being caught, she assumed, when the real reason was the fear of never seeing her friend again after that night. Glinda couldn't bear it.
She stepped forward and wrapped her arms around Elphaba's slim waist, burying her head into the area where neck became shoulder and shoulder became chest. Elphaba didn't question the girl's sudden need of comfort, but accepted it fully, wrapping her arms around Glinda in return. She held Glinda, kissing the top of the head of blonde curls. She ran one hand slowly up and down her back while stroking her hair with the other.
Glinda responded only by tightening her hold on Elphaba's waist. Elphaba tilted the pale chin up to face her, the blue eyes now holding a hint of utter devotion that Elphaba could not see. She kissed the girl's forehead, then pulled out of the embrace. Glinda took her hand once more.
"Come," Elphaba thought for a moment, then ushered a silent Glinda in front of her, "you'll be safer this way."
Glinda was nervous as she climbed onto the broom, but as soon as Elphaba was behind her and the green arms reached around her to hold the broom she was infinitely reassured.
The broom rose, slowly but surely, and Glinda had to stifle a yelp of panic when she felt the comfort of the roof yanked from beneath her feet. The girl's eyes clamped closed as she tried to bar the increasingly dizzying expanse of land from her view.
Elphaba took a hand off of the broom and wrapped it tightly around Glinda's waist. She pulled the girl in close and the tension in her body seemed to ebb. Elphaba looked over Glinda's shoulder and guided the broom with one hand toward the outskirts of the city.
The blue eyes ventured open as if the girl was drawing strength from the concentrated green face at her ear or from the green arm that resided so comfortably around her waist. She chanced a look and she eagerly took in the bright lights of the city, the intense feeling of the wind whipping past her, ruffling her hair and warming her heart.
She felt the grip on her waist tighten as Elphaba eased the broom downward, and she turned her head sideways to look at her friend.
"Almost there, my sweet."
Glinda tried to recall the exact moment of that night when she and Elphaba had changed. They had grown closer, more comfortable with each other than ever before. She breathed a sigh of relief caused by both Elphaba's promise of a nearing landing and the ever-present feeling of safety that seemed to surround her when Elphaba was near.
She was eased from her thoughts when her feet reconnected with stable ground. She dismounted the broom and followed close behind Elphaba as the two weaved their way through the backstreets of the Emerald City. Glinda grabbed Elphaba's hand when they came to a suspicious looking alleyway, and she noticed once again the comfort it brought her.
Elphaba hurried to a building and steered Glinda inside. She locked the door behind them and led the small girl upstairs.
Glinda took in her surroundings. It was dark, and she could barely make out a hallway lined with doors as she ascended the stairway. The hallway upstairs was quite similar, though each door was guarded by a sputtering candle, casting an eerie, flickering glow over the corridor.
Elphaba walked over to a door and produced a silver key that opened it. Glinda took note that it was the fifth door on the right, as the doors had no numbers. When she entered the room, Glinda was pleased to see her suitcase at the foot of the bed. She turned to Elphaba inquisitively.
"When did– how-" she stumbled over her words as dozens of questions tried to come out at the same time.
"Hush, my sweet. Not now. Go to sleep."
Glinda nodded, then paused before walking wordlessly over to where Elphaba had placed her suitcase and extracted a light green nightgown, as it was the warmest one she'd brought, though she knew nothing could keep her warm that night. The draft was fierce from the wind outside.
She stood awkwardly, waiting for Elphaba to finish changing almost as if she needed the green girl's permission to go to sleep. Elphaba slid into the bed and pulled back the thin blanket for her friend. Glinda climbed in beside Elphaba, shivering at the crisp coldness of the sheets. Elphaba turned to her and smiled gently, holding out an arm.
Glinda nodded and settled in next to her. She felt the green arms encircle her trembling body, and her shivering began to subside. She tucked her head under Elphaba's chin and wrapped her arms around Elphaba's waist. She started to warm as Elphaba rubbed her back slowly, playing with her curls with the other hand.
"You're leaving, aren't you?" she didn't want to hear the answer, but the question had slipped out anyway.
"Oh," she said, "my Glinda, I'm here now, so what does it matter, really? Go to sleep, dear."
Glinda bit her lip to keep the newly forming tears in her eyes from flowing down her cheeks to hurt the girl who both devastated and comforted her at the same time. For though Elphaba hadn't answered her question Glinda knew that it was going to be all too soon that they'd be swept apart.
"Elphie," she whimpered, whether it was to let out the sob at the back of her throat, or to try to change Elphaba's mind, she did not know.
The dark eyes found blue ones and a green thumb stroked a pale cheek.
"Shh, dear, don't cry. Silly girl, I haven't yet informed you of my departure so it is foolish of you to assume it's true. Assumptions, my sweet, are not nearly as correct in reality as they are in the mind, for it one did leave, who's to say one wouldn't be back, though if one didn't leave, how would one be certain one wouldn't leave in the future, so really-"
Elphaba stopped abruptly when Glinda huffed and rolled out of her arms to face the wall at the opposite side of the bed. Glinda couldn't tell whether it was because of Elphaba's apparent indifference to her tears or the way that Elphaba was mocking her, she felt almost snubbed by Elphaba, and she felt compelled to snub her in return.
After several moments of silence, long after Glinda had started shivering again, and long before the sun would bring warmth back to Oz, Glinda felt a light hand on her upper back. She jumped and her shivering increased from the light touch on her skin.
"Are you wearing green?" Elphaba asked, out of slight shock and the need to see a smile on her friend's face.
"Yes, Miss Elphaba," Glinda said curtly. "It's a perfectly respectable color. Really, of all people."
Elphaba smiled at Glinda's response. She looked down at the sheets, perhaps they would give her the strength to continue.
"I am leaving," she said softly, and she heard Glinda take in a shuddering breath. She was still shivering from the cold, it seemed only Elphaba could fix that, "but Glinda, that doesn't mean that I won't still be with you, that I won't think of you always."
Glinda rolled over to face Elphaba, her eyes red with silent tears and suddenly it was all too much; the cold air sweeping through, numbing her to the point where she wasn't shivering anymore, the thoughts of Elphaba leaving, not hearing her gests or being the victim of her sarcastic comments, of not feeling her embrace or being called 'my sweet,' of losing her best friend, the only real one she'd ever had…
The tears slipped relentlessly down her cheeks, as she inched over to Elphaba, the only one who made her cry, and the only one who could make her stop. The sobs wracked her body and she buried her face into Elphaba's shoulder as if emerging herself in the fabric would make Elphaba stay with her forever. Elphaba pulled the girl in closer, ignoring the small burn on her neck. Glinda's fist beat into her other shoulder before the growing intensity of her sobs caused her to just cling to Elphaba tightly.
"El-Elphie," the tears were slowing, but her body still shook with devastation, abandon, and empty sobs.
"Shh, my sweet," Elphaba sat up, and leaned back against the pillows, pulling Glinda to sit sideways in her lap. She wrapped an arm around her waist, rubbing her thumb back and forth along the girl's side, and rolling the golden curls through the fingers of her other hand.
Glinda sighed and rested her head on Elphaba's shoulder, giving up on stopping the tears, and lulled almost to sleep by the comforting touches. She looked softly up at Elphaba, who kissed her forehead in return.
"Sing to me, Elphie," her voice was soft, questioning almost, as she brushed a piece of loose black hair off her face.
"I couldn't possibly, Glinda. It's late, and other people are sleeping."
Elphaba wasn't sure if it was the teary desperation and innocence of her tone, or the light touch of those small fingers to her elbow, but she closed her eyes and began humming a tune that flowered effortlessly through her lips.
She sang to Glinda in a soft, gentle voice and melody one would use to comfort a child. She sang a song of no lyrics, yet one that was full of unspoken emotion and Glinda was entranced by it, until the gentle strokes to her scalp and side, the slow rhythm at which Elphaba was rocking her back and forth, and the sweet song carried her off to sleep.
Elphaba continued the song until it was finished, singing the lyrics in her head, but not out loud.
She sat on the bed afterward, awake, for hours, staring at the ceiling while her fingers were busy caressing the blonde curls of the girl who for the second time that day seemed to sleep peacefully in her arms. She knew she had almost tricked the girl into falling asleep, guiding her mind away from her own departure by coaxing her to sleep with soft touches and melodies, and perhaps a little of her own magic.
Yet while Elphaba had assumed Glinda would be in a restless, uneasy sleep all this time, she seemed to sleep as she always had. Elphaba didn't notice, however, the way Glinda's white-knuckled fingers were desperately entangled in her nightgown, or how in the bleak cold weather the way that Glinda was at ease only when Elphaba was near. She did not notice the way Glinda looked to her for support and confidence and encouragement, or the way that Glinda was looking at her at that very moment.