"We weren't close," said Shell, studying his nails. -- Son of a Witch, page 110.
Elphaba was dead. Was gone. Had died. Had left.
Elphaba wasn't meant to leave. Elphaba, who had never even been there in the first place for the past twenty or so years, wasn't ever meant to really leave.
They hadn't been close, but then the idea of being 'close' to somebody like Elphaba was unfathomable, a foreign concept. She had been moody, and quiet, and wholly unexciting - but she had also been his big sister. Not a stifling porcelain doll who happened to share his quarters, but his champion, and ally, no matter how silent. As a child, he would have defended her to the bitter end; as an adult, he would have done the same, if she had ever let him.
Hers had been the lap he had crawled into for his afternoon naps, badgering her to read to him until she gave in, her gravelly voice flooding through him until he dozed off. Her books were always horrifically boring, and her lap was the sharpest, most uncomfortable place on offer, but to a weary five year old, it was perfect. Frex's lap had been unapproachable, Nanny was too brisk for such frivolities, and the idea of going to Nessarose was a joke unto itself - she was nice enough to look at, but strictly not to touch.
Elphaba wasn't anything much to look at, but at least she was touchable, once he'd learnt that her dark looks were only looks. He had even tried to hug her on occasion, but had always missed; she was all angles and elbows and grave confusion at why Shell was trying to wrap his grubby little body around hers.
Only once had she ever held him back, on the morning she had set off for Shiz. Awkwardly, she had clutched onto him, one hand on the back of his head, the other a steel rod across his back. It was about as comfortable as hugging a coat stand.
It was the last time he ever saw her.
And now, she'd gone and died. Had let herself die. The Elphaba he'd known - albeit briefly - had been stronger than that. Elphaba would never have died. How dare she go and do something so utterly out of character?
Shell's fist somehow found itself on the other side of the window, several of his nails breaking from the force. It had been over twenty years, after all, since he had last seen her - who was he to say what her character was? How was he to know how much solid, static Elphaba had changed through an entire lifetime? To him, she was still a jagged sixteen, barefoot in the grass as she reluctantly helped glue together a model bird, her hands jittery as she awaited the outcome of her scholarship papers.
These days, she was called a witch, but it was in name only. Armless Nessarose, who had grown to develop fists of iron, had been a witch. Elphaba was simply Elphaba, and not even a hundred years could change a person that much.
But then, they hadn't been close.