1 / Glinda
Glinda hadn't wanted to be the one to tell Nessarose about her sister.
She wasn't given much of a choice, and that was something she wasn't used to. As far back as Glinda could remember, she'd always gotten her way; through her looks or charm or just plain stubbornness. But Elphaba seemed immune to Glinda's pleas and tears when she deserted her at the last second, with barely an explanation why.
In Glinda's mind, the right thing to do was to run after her. To tell Elphaba that she was being stupid and rash, and beg her not to run off and abandon her. And Nessa too, but mostly her. But she couldn't bring herself to move, and Elphaba disappeared into the Emerald City crowd without a backwards glance. She left Glinda with no choice but to return to Shiz on her own.
Deep down, they both knew Glinda would never abandon the life she was so accustomed to, never stray too far from the path that was laid out for her. Graduate Shiz, marry well, be beloved by all.
She wouldn't sacrifice that, not even for Elphie.
Glinda sat numbly in her seat, staring out the window, and ignored the tears that streamed down her cheeks. It wasn't until that first night, when she crawled into the cold bed alone, that she finally began to comprehend what had happened. She buried her face in the thin pillow and cried.
2 / Shiz
She felt their eyes on her and it didn't affect her the way it used to, back when she was Galinda and cared about what others thought. Glinda didn't care about the faint whispers and pointed fingers, she didn't care about her flattened curls and the dark circles under her eyes, didn't care that Boq, who had been so excited when he heard she was back, took one look at her and recoiled.
She found Nessa sitting alone in her room, and the first thing that struck Glinda was how like Elphaba she was. It seemed strange to think they had anything in common beyond being family, but they both possessed a kind of striking beauty. They could be charming when they wanted to, and equally mean if they wanted as well.
"You look horrible." Nessa's smile was bright, vicious. She could say the cruelest things, and their effect was somehow softened because she was so pretty. "Serves you and Elphaba right for leaving the way you did." Glinda stood silently, chewing absentmindedly on her bottom lip. She couldn't remember the last time she looked at herself in a mirror; couldn't remember the last time she even cared to.
"Well?" Nessa raised her brows, staring at Glinda expectantly. "Where's my sister?"
"Where is she? Did she stop at the library first?" Nessa asked, and a reluctant smile touched her lips. "How like her."
"She's not here," Glinda responded tentatively. "At Shiz." Nessa's face darkened. "I don't know where she is."
"She didn't travel back with you?"
"She didn't." Glinda paused and then corrected herself. "She wouldn't."
"Then she will once her little mission in Emerald City is through?"
"She's not coming back," Glinda's voice was louder, harsher, than she intended. If Nessa was surprised or saddened by the news, she hid it well. Instead, her eyes flared with anger.
"So she just ran off on her own?" Nessa demanded. "She ran off and abandoned me on a whim? I'm her sister."
"I don't know, Nessie. I'm sure she had a good reason."
"Well, if you're sure," Nessa replied harshly. Glinda took a step forward. She wanted to reach out to Nessa, to offer her some small comfort, to tell her that she understood what it was like to be abandoned by someone you loved and be left with only questions. But the words felt hollow and she stopped and looked down at Nessa sadly.
"I know I'm not Elphie, but maybe I could..." Glinda trailed off, and Nessa let the words linger stale in the air. Her bottom lip trembled for a fleeting second before she could catch herself.
3 / Front
Glinda did her best to keep up appearances, to pretend she'd never run off with Elphaba; to make everyone forget that she'd come back worn and weary and alone. The day she returned from Emerald City was the first and last time anyone had seen her looking as she felt - a mess.
She went back to her perfectly curled hair and delicate dresses; went back to being admired by the girls, and lusted over by the boys. No one knew that instead of spending countless hours staring at her reflection in the mirror, she opted to pick up a book and study, to give herself the challenge mindless gossip fell short of delivering.
She learned to manipulate her emotions, to deflect from what she was really feeling with a catty remark, an empty laugh. The more her heart ached, the wider she smiled. Once, someone asked her if she was glad to be rid of the green girl as her roommate, and her face nearly cracked.
4 / Grief
Nessa was inconsolable. She rarely left her room, except for classes, hardly ate anything, except what Nanny all but forced down her throat. She retreated inside herself, used silence to push everyone else away; it was easier that way. Easier to be alone than to be pitied.
Glinda understood that Nessa didn't want to be reminded of Elphaba's leaving, even though it was all she could think about herself. She respected Nessa's closed door as a request for privacy, and fought the urge to intrude, to pry into Nessa's grief, to compare it with her own.
Sometimes, on the way to classes, they would nearly collide in the hall, and Glinda would awkwardly shuffle to the side to let Nessa and Nanny pass. She'd apologize profusely, unable to say anything else, and Nessa would murmur a polite response as she walked away. She would never meet Glinda's eyes.
5 / Start
"Nessie, you really should eat something." Glinda, having had enough of the silence, walked in without invitation and set the tray down on the table Nessa was sitting at.
"Glinda," Nessa looked up and sighed petulantly, "you don't have to take care of me. I have Nanny for that." She smiled slightly at that, knowing full well that Nanny's old age was catching up to her, and Elphie's disappearance hit her harder than she let on.
"You don't have to feel sorry for me, either," Nessa continued, meeting Glinda's eyes with a pointed stare. "I hate that."
"I don't feel sorry for you." Glinda shook her head.
"You might be the only one at Shiz, then." Glinda laughed inappropriately at that, but when Nessa looked at her curiously, all Glinda could do was shrug. She couldn't bring herself to mention Elphaba. Instead, she picked up the spoon and laid a gentle hand on Nessa's shoulder.
"Let me help."
Nessa pursed her lips together in a frown, but nodded.
She hated to admit she needed anyone, but spent her entire life doing just that. She knew that for the majority of people, their desire to help her was borne of guilt, of obligation, of pity, and she was required to accept that. But with Glinda, she could pretend it was an act of friendship.
Really, Nessa knew about Glinda's devotion to Elphaba. Though they tried to hide it, she knew their relationship ran deep. She'd go so far as to say that they were in love, though that didn't matter anymore. At the very least, she knew they fucked.
Out of a misplaced sense of loyalty, Glinda would take care of Nessa. She'd pick up the pieces Elphaba had so carelessly tossed aside, and try to mend what was broken. And Nessa could delude herself into thinking it was a show of affection, instead of what she knew it really was - a favor to Elphie.
6 / Bond
"I'm cold, could you please..." Nessa trailed off, gesturing with her chin towards the shawl on her bed.
"Oh, of course," Glinda stood in a hurry, and wrapped the material around Nessa's shoulders, pinning it in place.
"Thank you, Glinda," Nessa responded softly, sincerely. She smiled, unlike the cold way she used to before and for the second time in barely a year, Glinda found her unexpectedly fond of a Thropp girl.
7 / Promise
"Doesn't Morrible remind you of a carp?" Glinda asked, suddenly looking up from her books and at Nessa; she pulled a face, what she imagined a carp would look like on land had it been graced with legs. "Honestly, Nessie, am I horrible?"
"Well, you look horrible," Nessa said with a giggle. "Don't let Morrible see you make that face."
"I won't," Glinda smiled slyly. "Elphaba always said I was quite talented at being two-faced. Come to think of it," she trailed off, lost in thought, "that probably wasn't much of a compliment." She hadn't realized what she'd said until she looked up and saw the expression on Nessa's face.
"Nessie, I didn't mean to - " Glinda sighed. She had been so careful not to mention Elphaba. If Nessa wanted to talk about her sister, she would. But she never did.
"It's okay," Nessa brushed it off smoothly. "You can't help it."
"You know, this is what magic is for," Glinda announced suddenly; she wasn't sure what compelled her - if it was guilt or affection or thinking, deep down, it was what Elphaba would want - but she continued anyway.
"If I have to study so hard for Morrible anyway, I may as well learn something I can use." She reached for Nessa, touching her knee as she continued to speak earnestly. "There's a way to give you your freedom, Nessie, I know it. And I'll do whatever I can to find it, I promise."
8 / Anger
When Glinda wished that Nessa would open up to her about Elphaba, she'd thought they'd trade fun stories and bond over mutual abandonment and heartbreak. She never imagined Nessa would have so many mean things to say about her.
"I'll spit on her if she ever dares to come close enough."
"Nessie, don't talk that way about her," Glinda frowned. "She's your sister."
"Don't you talk about her like she didn't hurt us both. She's selfish."
"And you're self-righteous," Glinda countered boldly.
"Dear Glinda, you're confusing that with being right." She bared her teeth in a smile meant to infuriate Glinda. And it did; she squealed in frustration.
"You always think you're right," Glinda responded angrily. "There's more to life than being right." Nessa arched a brow, as if daring her to give an example. "There's being good." Nessa nearly snorted.
"Is that how you see Elphaba?" she spat. "Good?"
"She's doing what she thinks she has to. There's goodness in that."
"There's goodness in many selfish things, by that way of thinking."
"You're so resentful towards her."
"Better than what you're doing," Nessa accused. "You treat her like she's a martyr for abandoning us."
"I can't help it if I don't hate her like you do."
"Glinda, my sister exasperates me. And I'm sure the feeling is mutual," she added wryly. "But I don't hate her. I don't believe in that."
9 / Lust
"You still think about Elphaba." It wasn't a question, but a simple statement, murmured hotly against Glinda's skin.
"Nessie," Glinda squirmed, "don't talk about her. Not now."
"She's the only thing we ever talk about anymore." She pulled back, gave Glinda a pointed look. "When we talk at all."
Glinda ignored her and instead watched as she brought her hand to Nessa's breast, pressing against the taut peak with the pad of her thumb. She bent forward and replaced her hand with her mouth, sucking harshly. Nessa arched into her, moaning as she felt a hand roam over her hips and stop to rest delicately on the curve of her backside.
"Come back up," Nessa breathed. Glinda did as she was told, having long since learned that Nessa's requests weren't optional, but demands. She pressed her lips to Nessa's, letting her tongue find its way into her willing mouth.
"It's okay," Nessa rasped, rolling on top of her, brown hair spilling into Glinda's face, "if you want to close your eyes and pretend I'm green."
"Don't be crude, Nessie." Glinda turned her head away, and Nessa's only response was to lick along the length of her throat, stopping to suck on Glinda's wildly beating pulse point.
"I thought you liked it when I was crude."
In a practiced move, Nessa braced her forehead against the pillow peeking out behind Glinda's shoulder and slid a thigh between two reluctant legs. Glinda moaned; an involuntary, guttural sound from deep inside her. For her lack of arms, Nessa was surprisingly capable, even graceful.
She curved her body to Nessa's, fleetingly imagining what they might've looked like to someone watching. The armless girl rocking on top of her, Glinda's hands pinned between their bodies, one grasping at her own breast, the other sliding between her legs to mingle with Nessa's insistent thigh.
Glinda squeezed her eyes shut, too caught up to notice the cloaked figure that watched from the window.
10 / Alone
"I'll miss you, Nessie," Glinda threw her arms around Nessa, who had no choice but to stiffly accept the embrace. It was strange that an innocent hug felt more awkward than the times they'd spent tangled between pink sheets, that raw emotion felt more intimate than nudity.
"Don't lie," she said flatly into Glinda's ear.
"I will," Glinda insisted as she let Nessa go and looked into her eyes. "I wouldn't have gotten through those sorcery classes without you, you know." Glinda smiled half-heartedly and blinked back tears. It occurred to Nessa that she didn't feel the same sadness Glinda seemed to, and she let the comment go unacknowledged.
"You'll be okay here, won't you?" Glinda asked, her perfect brow furrowed in concern.
"Of course. Why wouldn't I be?" Nessa strained to keep her voice from wavering. To her, the conversation only served as a reminder of Elphaba's abandonment, which still stung her. The hurt feelings had faded, but the anger still burned inside her. And though Glinda had the decency to say goodbye, she was leaving all the same.
"We'll meet again," Glinda assured her. "I promise."
"We will." The words sounded meaningless, the empty promises merely a courtesy between two people who were sometimes lovers and never quite friends.
"It's getting late," Glinda's voice was soft, tinged with reluctance. Without thinking, she reached for Nessa's hair and let the soft brown locks glide through her fingers. They fell onto Nessa's shoulders, framing her face delicately. She was beautiful, even when she scowled.
Glinda hated to think Nessa could resent her the way she still resented Elphaba. She leaned forward, pressing her lips chastely against Nessa's, a simple gesture she'd hoped would leave things between them on better terms.
"Your Sir Chuffrey is waiting," Nessa mumbled against Glinda's mouth, ignoring the kiss. Glinda pulled back, slightly flustered but she covered it quickly with a polite smile.
"Yes. Well, goodbye Nessa."
11 / Shoes
"It took a while before I could get the charm to work just right." Glinda stood in front of Nessa, shrouded in a ridiculously excessive dress, and Nessa looked up at her in abject fear; Glinda's wand was pointed directly at her.
"You don't want to know what happened to the first few dozen shoes," Glinda continued, laughing airily, ignoring Nessa's panicked expression, "but I was determined." She paused, remembering a late night at Shiz, surprised it was still clear in her mind after so long. "I promised, after all."
It wasn't nearly as painful as Nessa expected. The shoes, worn and nearly falling apart, were magically resoled; they tightened around her feet and she felt her legs tingle. Uncertainly, unsteadily, one shoe, then the other, touched the ground. As if propelled by an invisible hand, Nessa stood upright.
"Oh, Nessie, look at you!" Glinda beamed and clasped her hands together. Nessa teetered for a moment, before finding her balance. "How does it feel, Nessie?"
"Wonderful," Nessa said, sighing in relief; rapture. "Empowering."
"Yes," Glinda agreed; she knew how Nessa felt about having to be dependant on the people around her for the simplest of things. The independence she'd gain from standing on her own would mean everything to her. It meant that much to Glinda; she'd given Nessa something no one else ever could.
"Come here." The familiar order escaped Nessa's lips, but she was the one to close the distance between them. She felt a surge of freedom, of aggression - a rush her studies and her religion had never given her. The heady feeling of power surpassed all other sensations.
"What are you doing?" Glinda reflexively backed away, unsettled by how agile Nessa became instantly. As if she'd been walking all her life. She strode smoothly towards Glinda, a predatory gleam in her eyes. Glinda stopped abruptly, her back hitting one of the expansive bookcases that lined the walls in Nessa's study.
"I'm thanking you," Nessa leaned in to kiss her, but Glinda turned away at the last second.
"Nessie..." Glinda's breath hitched as she felt the familiar brush of lips against her cheek. She wriggled uncomfortably, heard the telling rustle of her dress. "I'm married now." Nessa pulled back to look at her, arching a brow dubiously.
"I'm meant to believe that Sir Limp Dick actually satisfies you?" Glinda struggled not to laugh at Nessa's sharp, often vulgar wit. It would only encourage her.
"Don't talk about Chuffrey that way," she responded with a huff, trying her best to sound offended. "He's a pleasant husband."
"Pleasant?" Nessa's lips curled into a malicious smile. "You're a lucky woman, then."
"I am," Glinda replied, ignoring Nessa's tone, trying to ignore the way Nessa's hips pressed into her. "He's very - I mean he's quite - " she faltered as Nessa forced a thigh between her legs, "fine."
"Well, I'm certainly surprised he's let you out of his sight for this long. Being a quite fine husband and all."
"I see you can still be quite a bitch," Glinda hissed and angrily pushed Nessa away. Nessa staggered backwards, and Glinda briefly felt guilty, but she fought the instinct to reach for her. Nessa regained her balance quickly, expertly, and glared coldly at Glinda.
"Just because it wasn't a marriage of love," Glinda continued, composing herself, "doesn't make it any less of a marriage."
"It makes it a business arrangement," Nessa laughed "And how convenient, you can keep your precious public status, all the while pining away for Elphaba in secret." Glinda's mouth fell open; she had a dozen responses, nothing came out. She pressed her lips together and swallowed.
"Don't you ever learn? If she wanted you," Nessa continued harshly, "she would've bothered to contact you by now."
12 / Gone
Glinda sat alone in the pew, high above where Elphaba and her father had mourned Nessa's death; she mourned too, but in secret; alone and quiet, dabbing at her eyes with the edge of a ruffle on her dress.
"Did you love Nessa?" Glinda looked up, startled to hear someone talking to her. She brushed the hair out of her eyes and sniffled.
"The last I remember, you were casual acquaintances, at best. Her death hit you almost harder than it has me." She paused, and something flashed in her eyes that Glinda didn't recognize. "Did you love her?"
"We became friends," Glinda answered tentatively. "After you left Shiz." Glinda took a shaky breath before continuing. "I did love her. In some ways." Elphaba flinched inwardly, but forced her countenance to remain expressionless.
"She could be so self-righteous, so infuriating," Glinda's voice rose in frustration, and then softened. "And she could make me forget all that so easily." Elphaba smiled wryly.
"She always got her way." There was a long pause as Elphaba considered her next question; there was no right way to phrase it and the words burned her tongue as they left her mouth.
"You were lovers, then?" Glinda's face darkened and she folded her arms across her chest.
"I don't see how that's any of your business."
"I have my answer nevertheless," Elphaba laughed. "Fucking the Thropp third descending," Elphaba continued, her tone mocking. "The other one, that is."
13 / Again
Elphaba reached out and cupped Glinda's cheek, her palm resting lightly on smooth skin.
"It's been so long," she murmured, to herself more than Glinda, as her thumb traced the curve of Glinda's jaw. She marveled at how the years had changed so many things, took them in such starkly different directions, but left untouched the one thing Elphaba never expected had any staying power.
The feelings that stirred in her now were those of another lifetime ago; when her impetuous, young heart belonged to the girl standing in front of her.
"Whose fault is that, Elphie?" Glinda snapped, surprised by how harsh she sounded. The anger, the ache, that was triggered in her by a simple touch.
"Oh, Oz," Elphaba groaned, letting her hand drop to her side, "it's mine. I know it's mine. What else was I supposed to do? Turn my back on a cause I believed in because it was inconvenient to leave you?"
"You could've asked me to go with you."
"We both know you were far too selfish back then to give up all your pretty things to join forces with the green girl of Shiz. And far too shallow to ever live in the shadows." Glinda cast her eyes to the floor, embarrassed by the sliver of truth Elphaba's words held.
"Well. You don't have to be so mean about it."
"Dear Glinda," Elphaba said with a laugh, causing Glinda's head to snap up, "don't you know a poor excuse when you hear one? I couldn't ask you to go with me. I couldn't ask you to put yourself in some unknown danger."
"Yes, you could've," Glinda replied stubbornly.
"I couldn't have," Elphaba shook her head. A small smile touched her lips. "You might've said yes."