Author's Note: Yes, this has taken an insanely long time- and for that I'm truly sorry. Writer's block has been the main cause of this very delayed update. Anyone got the cure to it? Care to share? Well…enjoy chapter 17!

Disclaimer: None of the Wicked characters belong to me. However, the maids, Calix, Brea and the lullaby in this chapter are all my own original creations.

Making Plans

Glinda, with baby Brea on her hip, led Calix into her parlor just as Brea began to fuss. "Wait here, I'll gather Elphie and Fiyero and we'll have a discussion about the recent…events," Glinda told him as he seated himself on one of the overstuffed chairs. Brea began to whimper loudly, her tiny features crumbling in tiredness, "And I'd better put this little one down for her nap. I'll be back in a few minutes," Glinda finished. She then turned on her heel and made her way upstairs to the guest room that served as Brea's nursery.

She exhaled slowly as sank into the rocking chair that was next to Brea's bassinette. What a day this had been so far! Just as it all started to look better, another problem popped up. Glinda blew a piece of hair out of her eyes, and tried to, for the moment, for get about her newest challenge. Instead, she focused solely on the baby in her arms. She watched as Brea's eyes went from scrunched up in agitation, to slightly droopy with impending sleep as Glinda rocked her slowly, methodically back and forth. Just as Brea's eyes were almost completely shut, Glinda prepared to begin the little ritual she had instilled whenever she put Brea down to sleep. To her, it was a very sacred and private ceremony- one only Brea would probably ever be privileged enough to encounter. She inhaled one deep breath, and then in the quietest, sweetest voice, Glinda began to sing.

"Sleep, my little one, may your dreams be soft and sweet

Sleep, little child, with closed eyes you may meet

The angel who put the sparkle in your eyes,

Or the one or whom my heart cries.

Sleep, little dreamer, for my love will never end

You hold my heart forever in your hands."

Glinda let the last note linger for a few moments, her voice gradually softening, until there was complete silence in the room except for the rhythmic breathing of a now sleeping Brea.

"Sweet dreams, little one," Glinda whispered as she deposited Brea into the bassinette atop her pink blanket. Glinda smiled gently at her sleeping goddaughter's little face- even in sleep she bore a striking resemblance to her mother, she noted. It was the shape of Brea's mouth and chin and in the way her brow furrowed, giving her that distinctly worried look that Elphaba wore at points. Glinda sighed, and ran her fingers along Brea's soft cheek. "I'm worried too, Brea. But I will find a way to keep you and your mommy and daddy here with me. I'll keep you all safe," she paused for a moment, then added, "I promise."

Suddenly, someone reached out and touched her shoulder and startled her. She spun around and came face to face with Elphaba.

"Elphie!" she exclaimed in a hoarse whisper, "you scared me nearly half to death. Don't sneak up on me like that!"

"Sorry," Elphaba said quickly, then leaned over Brea's crib and tenderly stroked her daughter's hair. She stepped back and let her hand rest on Glinda's shoulder once again. Her eyes, still on her daughter, she quietly said, "You have lovely voice, Glinda."

Glinda flushed. "You heard me singing?"

"Only the last couple of lines of the lullaby," Elphaba confessed, she paused and then said, "And you've been doing a wonderful job of keeping us all safe. I trust you. You know that, right?"

"I guess so, it just always seems like you expect me to do something stupid or childish and ruin it all," Glinda told her slowly.

Elphaba laughed quietly and said, "I admit, when I first came here, I thought you were going to try and drag me out shopping or some other 'bonding' activity, so we could reconnect. On the other hand though, my instinct told me that the past year changed you a lot. And I was right-"

"Big surprise there," Glinda interjected, rolling her eyes.

Elphaba smirked, but continued, "Glinda, the bottom line is I trust you fully."

Glinda turned toward Elphaba and took her smooth green hands in her own. "Well, you're going to have to remember that when we go downstairs. We have a few things to discuss."

Elphaba's brow creased, and she opened her mouth and Glinda thought with an inward cringe she was going to start firing questions (and possible answers) at her in her logical, no nonsense way. But instead, Elphaba took a deep breath, squeezed Glinda's tiny hands and said, "Ok."

When everyone was seated in the parlor, Glinda recounted the story of what happened in the garden- and finally, she told her friends what had occurred that night she had dined at Lord Nolen's.

At the end of Glinda's story, Elphaba's face was grim. Her lips were pursed, and her eyes were narrowed, when she finally spoke, her voice was dangerously low. "How dare he treat you in such a way?"


"If I wasn't such a rational person, I would fly over there and punch him in the face."

"Wouldn't we all?" Calix inquired bitterly, and he pulled Glinda close to him. Fiyero nodded in agreement.

"Thank you? I think?" Glinda was touched by the outpour of support from her friends. She didn't know how she had ever expected them to react in any other way. She cleared her throat and then said, "Well, that's all over with now. I'm fine. We have a something else to worry about now."

The group quieted for a moment, then Elphaba, who had jumped up off of the couch during her little outburst, sank back down into her seat and asked, "Why do we have to run into so many problems?"

Glinda tried to smile, "I prefer to think of them as challenges."

Elphaba raised an eyebrow skeptically.

"I just say that you and Calix show up, and say that Brea got sick and 'your friend' had to stay behind and take care of her," Fiyero suggested.

"That came to my mind, too," Glinda admitted, "but I have a feeling that Lord Nolen would hound me until he got to meet my mysterious friend. That, or he would know something was up. He's a crotchety old man, but he's a perceptive one too. I swear when I talk to him, he can look into my eyes and know when I'm lying," she shuddered.

"Personally, I think we should show-up to dinner, with Elphaba in tow behind us. We'd shock the hell out of everyone, huh? Plus, you could give Lord Nolen what he deserved, Elphaba. A good old-fashioned beating. Then we'd all live happily ever after. How does that sound?" Calix asked, chuckling.

"I wish," Elphaba said wistfully, resting her head in her hands.

"Any other ideas?" Glinda asked hopefully. Everyone fell silent. Fiyero rubbed the back of his neck with one hand, Calix looked deep in concentration and Elphaba shifted in her seat, a thoughtful look crossing her face.

They all sat there for a few moments, contemplating in dead silence. Glinda sighed. They were getting nowhere. The parlor door was pushed open, and Masha entered humming and carrying a tray laden with cups of hot tea and cookies.

"I just thought I would take the liberty of bringing everyone some refreshments," she said, setting the tray down on the table in the middle of the room, Glinda had to keep down a smile as she watched Masha steal a quick glance in Calix's direction. Glinda knew that her maids all adored Calix- it had been a long while since there had been a significant male figure in Glinda's life, and she knew the girls wished them all the best. It probably didn't hurt that Calix was attractive, either. "Thank-you Masha, I appreciate it," Glinda told her indicating the tray.

"Of course," Masha squeaked as Calix nodded in her direction and smiled, taking a cookie.

Quite suddenly, Elphaba lifted her head up and her eyes lit up, "Masha," she said, almost wonderingly.

"What?" Masha asked, giving Elphaba a confused sidelong glance.

"Wait! Glinda, don't you see? Masha's the answer to our problem!" Elphaba exclaimed.

"Challenge," Glinda corrected.

"Whatever. But look, she can play Brea's mother! It's just for one night, but it solves everything!" Elphaba was practically giddy as she explained this.

Glinda felt her eyes widen, of course! It couldn't have been any simpler! "That is brilliant. Simple, but brilliant. Why didn't I think of it?"

"Wait, what? What didn't you think of?" asked Masha, worriedly.

Calix grinned, stood up and shook Elphaba's hand enthusiastically, "I must say, Miss Elphaba, that is a good idea. Better than anything I came up with."

"I know," Elphaba said coolly, but smiled in return.

"Can someone please tell me what's going on?" Masha pleaded, looking rather pathetic.

Glinda circled Masha and nodded approvingly, "She even has dark hair like Brea's. It's perfect. We can dress her up, put on some dramatic make-up to bring out those gorgeous brown eyes and maybe even cut her hair," she fingered a piece of Masha's long, curly hair.

"Can someone tell me what you're all talking about?" Masha's voice was bordering on the edge of hysteria.

"Oh, of course, sorry dear," Glinda said smoothly, taking the young girl's arm and leading her to the couch where Masha sat down, still looking perplexed.

"Masha, dear," Glinda gave Masha a glowing smile, which Masha returned hesitantly, "Lord Nolen's having a dinner and we need someone to be Brea's 'mother'," Glinda went on and explained the whole story to Masha, whose expression was becoming increasingly more horrified by the second.

"No. Way." Masha asserted, crossing her arms over her chest and shaking her head as soon as Glinda had finished.

"What?" Glinda was startled by the Masha's unwillingness. Usually she was prepared to help in anyway possible. "Masha, please. We really, really need you."

"No. That man is just so…" Masha's voice quavered, "intimidating." She cast her eyes toward the ceiling, and she looked a little teary just being reminded of him.

"Oh Masha," Glinda put a hand on the girl's shoulder. "I truthfully forgot all about that bad experience with him and the last time he came to dine. I'm sorry. But I can promise you, that when I'm done with you, he won't even be able to recognize you. He'll have so many guests at this dinner, he probably won't even have any time for us."

Masha still shook her head adamantly, "Why can't you get Paiva or Elle to do it? Anyone but me?"

"Because, you have dark hair like Brea's. It would look strange if someone with totally different coloring from Brea's came to the dinner, claiming to be Brea's mother," Masha opened her mouth to say something, and Elphaba silenced her by holding up one hand, "and, yes, according to Glinda he would remember such particulars about Brea. According to Glinda, he has a very keen eye for details."

"I don't know," Masha said slowly, still not looking convinced.

"Think of it as a chance to get a free makeover Masha!" Glinda exclaimed cheerily, trying to reassure her.

Finally, Calix came over to them from across the room where he had been watching this uphill battle. He got down o his knees, in front of Masha, so he could be eye to eye with her. Taking one of her hands in his own he pleaded, "Please, Masha. It's just one night and it would mean so much to us."

Masha gazed downward, flushed and Elphaba added in quickly, "Please, Masha. Here I am, Oz's own beautifully tragic green monstrosity, begging you."

Masha looked up and let out a strangled laugh, "Well, I just don't see how I'm going to get out of this."

Glinda clapped her hands together, taking Masha's answer as an agreement to go along with their plan. She went around to the back of the couch and put her hands on Masha's shoulders. "So we're all decided? Masha will be Brea's 'mother' for the night of the dinner?"

There was murmured agreement from everyone in the room.

Masha lifted her eyes upward and whispered, "May Lurline help us all."

Author's Note: Stay tuned for next chapter (already in the works)! It'll be all about the dinner- and what happnes! Once again, sorry for the long delay on chapter 17! Reader's Poll: What's everbody's summer/vacation plans?