A/N: Yes, Frex's personality changes a bit in this chapter, but perhaps you'll see why. And now this story's taken a VERY strange turn, I'm not sure how it came about.

Elphaba had never seen her father drunk. It seemed as though Shell was unused to it too, for--though he had been excitable waking Elphaba--he was skirting around Frex as though the priest had a plague of some kind. Frex was holding an empty bottle of some kind of Quadling spirit. Priests normally did not drink, but ever since the Time Dragon came through, there were fewer and fewer priests following that rule.

"Elphaba. Go, hike, now." Frex pointed a shaky finger at the door. Elphaba made no move. Frex grew angry. "Hike!" Elphaba stood, rooted to the spot. Unwise. Frex lunged for his eldest daughter and gave her a ringing slap across the face. Shell shrieked girlishly and ran from the room. Elphaba was stunned. Frex had never, never hit her.

"Father?" Frex turned his back to Elphaba and stalked away, as though it was Elphaba's fault.

"Hike. Get out of my sight." Frex's voice was quiet and fierce. "Just leave." Elphaba snatched up her cloak and dashed out the door. She immediately regretted the decision. Fiery drops pelted her skin before she could whip up the hood of cloak. She hissed angrily and darted behind the large house, into the woods surrounding the estate.

The drippy leaves provided a slight cover for Elphaba. She huffed at her father. How did he dare strike his child? Lightly, she touched the mark his hand had left. Elphaba winced and struck up an angry pace, trekking violently through the wood. She heard small animals scamper away as she stomped around. After a good half hour of aimless stalking about, Elphaba began to cool off. The rain was letting up a little and she felt in good enough spirits to check that the coast was clear before she started humming softly to herself. A little tune she made up one night watching Glinda sleep.

The rain had completely stopped after about an hour and Elphaba wandered closer to where she had entered the woods, nearer to Colwen Grounds. A sudden shriek pierced her thoughts and she tore through the damp woods to get back to the house. She found that the entire estate was in flames. A few passersby were trying to find some kind of extinguisher, the rain now stopped and useless.

"Somebody save the Thropps!" An anonymous voice shouted. Several magical Munchkins were trying to pool enough magic to stop the fire. Elphaba ran forward and looked frantically for her father and brother. They were nowhere to be seen in the crowd. Presumably, this meant they were still in the flaming house. Elphaba, ignoring many shouts from the onlookers to "Stop, what are you doing?" and "Don't do that, Miss Elphaba!", hustled to the door and grabbed the handle, intending to break down the door if need be. The need did not arise, as the door handle was just waiting for an unsuspecting bystander to grab it and sent a jolt of hot pain through Elphaba's arm, making her reel backward into the crowd.

Elphaba stood again, ready to rush back to her family, when the sorcerers of Nest Hardings engulfed the house with water. The splash caught Elphaba's cloak and doused it firmly, but the crowd of Munchkins, whatever small protection they offered, had forcibly spun Elphaba around and covered her legs with their arms.

"Come on, Miss Elphaba." Bfee, the old mayor, took Elphaba's arm and led her away from her own house.

"No!" Elphaba protested. She had to find her father and brother. "Where are Father and Shell?" Bfee simply stood, not speaking, and let Elphaba run back to the house. The door was open, a few Munchkins bravely venturing in to find the Thropps. Elphaba pushed past the men hurriedly and rudely, searching the few rooms downstairs before running up the soggy staircase.

A small body presented itself to her, clutching what was undeniably Elphaba's rose-scarf. The small bits of fringe and a long red thread were the remains of the beautiful material. Elphaba choked back tears and went in search of her father. He was in his own room, holding a burnt stick, a match, Elphaba realized, and a smashed glass bottle of what must have been gasoline. There were many exploded bottles around the room, leading Elphaba to the conclusion that it was purposeful. Filled with rage at her father, she slammed her palm down on the blackened skull. It was still warm and the water that had extinguished the house was glistening on the char. It burnt her hand even more than the doorknob, but she repeated the action again and again until the skull cracked from the spine and fell to the floor.

"Miss Elphaba," Bfee came in and touched her shoulder gently. "We'll get you a train ticket and you can go back to school and explain this to your sister." Elphaba's spirit fell even further. She had forgotten Nessarose for a second. How could she explain this to her darling sister?

"He killed them." Elphaba whispered to Bfee. "He had this gasoline, he sent Shell away, he lit a match, he killed them. He killed himself and my baby brother and he did it on purpose. Why didn't he kill me too! He didn't even live for Nessa. He killed himself and oh my God." Elphaba swooned and fell into Bfee's strong arms.

"Come on, Miss Elphaba, you've got better brains!" Bfee used the common Munchkinlander phrase to snap Elphaba out of her swoon. It didn't work, as he expected it wouldn't. She fainted in his arms and he was forced to lift her up and cart her unceremoniously out of the house. He doubted this was a good image for the next Eminent Thropp, but really, her father just killed himself and his own son, so Bfee could hardly ruin the picture more by carrying out a defenseless girl.


"Yes, Madame." Elphaba's voice was controlled and quiet. Madame Morrible had been questioning her for the last hour about the "unpleasant incident," as she called it. Elphaba had been slowly growing quieter, until finally Morrible had asked if she was quite alright.

"Go off to your sister, Miss Nessarose should know about this." Morrible sent Elphaba off with a small squeeze of the shoulder, the most affectionate touch Elphaba had felt from the headmistress since coming to Shiz. Elphaba sped off to her own room in search of her sister.


Glinda, who had skipped several days of classes, pounced on Elphaba the second she walked in.

"ELPHIE I MISSED YOU SO!" Glinda clasped Elphaba's face in her hands and kissed her fiercely and repeatedly.

"Glind--" Elphaba kept trying to speak, only to be cut off by another furious kiss. "Glin--Stop!" Finally Elphaba pushed Glinda away angrily.

"What? Elphie, haven't you missed me?" Tears welled up in Glinda's perfect blue eyes.

"Where's Nessa?" Elphaba wanted desperately to kiss Glinda's tears away, but had to remain stable long enough to explain. "Take me to Nessa, I need to tell you both." Without explanation, Elphaba led the way, betraying her own request and dragging Glinda by the wrist to find Nessa.


"And I found him..." Elphaba was slowly, painfully recounting the story she had encountered, "lying at the head of the staircase, holding the shreds of my blue scarf," Elphaba paused while Glinda forced a gasp backward into her throat. "And Father was--"

Nessa closed her eyes and shook her head. "Stop it." Her calm voice was unusually harsh. Elphaba tried to touch Nessa, brought her hands up and looked as if she would cup Nessa's cheek in her soft green hand, but Nessa jerked her head away. "Stop it." She repeated, the serrated quality not gone from her voice. Elphaba stood abruptly and stalked out of the room. Glinda followed carefully, shooting a sympathetic glance to Nessa before she shut the door gently.

Elphaba had stormed into the bathroom and locked the door. Glinda decided she ought to wait out the fury and the thunderclouds that would undoubtedly emanate from the bathroom. She was unprepared to hear a retching sound. Elphaba was vomiting. Glinda tried to open the door again, even picked a bobby pin out of her hair to try and break open the lock.


Elphaba leaned over the toilet, nausea overcoming her, and threw up what little she had eaten over the past few days. How common this vomiting at Shiz was becoming, she really must stop it. Her own sensible thoughts made her almost laugh. Almost. First Doctor Dillamond, the thought of that "unpleasant incident" bringing up more vomit, and now part of her family. Elphaba wiped her hand with a shaky mouth and fell backward onto the cold tiled floor, hoping it would cool some of the sweat forming on her forehead and neck.


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