Hello! So, it's been a while eh? Hmm, let's see - the last time I updated this story was - wow - 2007. That is just mental to think. I can't actually believe that! Umm, ok - well here we go - thought I should eventually finish this - so here - the final chapter. I really don't know if anyone will bother reading this ;) But if you do - thank you, and I really hope you enjoy it.
So - the chapter:
Fortune Favours the Brave
Elphaba pawed through the Grimmerie, her expression set in a mask of grim determination. Glinda's lifeless body lay beside her, comfortably placed on some pillows.
Elphaba looked to the body, jaw quivering, before wrenching her eyes away and continuing her relentless search through the weathered pages of her spell book.
"Elphie - please, don't torture yourself," said Fiyero, kneeling next to Elphaba. His voice was little more than a hushed whisper and his eyes were bloodshot from tears. "Please."
Elphaba appeared to ignore him for a second. She flipped through a couple more pages, before stopping. Her grip tightened on the page in her hand and it crumbled beneath her clenched fist.
"Come on you miserable book! What? You can offer me the most powerful spells not found in even my wildest imaginings, but you can't bring back one measly life?" Her voice came out hoarse and pained, and though she could feel the threat of tears sting at the backs of her eyes she refused to let them fall. If she cried she'd be admitting that Glinda was really gone, and at that very moment that was a truth she could not handle. Or accept.
"I. don't. understand," she uttered. Her eyes fell to Fiyero. "Fiyero - I don't understand."
Fiyero sighed, a deep, heavy, mournful sigh and pulled Elphaba into a hug. She lay in his arms numbly. "Elphie…the Grimmerie, despite its power, is still only a spell book. I…maybe it's…there's a rule to everything in this world, a thin line which can't easily be crossed. Maybe the Grimmerie isn't supposed to tamper with fate. Maybe…this was just meant to be."
Fiyero winced at the words. They were horrible and cruel and far too honest.
Elphaba moved from Fiyero's grasp wordlessly. "Glinda did," she said quietly. "Glinda tampered with so-called 'fate.'"
Fiyero regarded her sadly. "That was -"
"Glinda risked everything to save me…only for her to die." spat Elphaba, and then, dazedly, she uttered, "Die. The word seems impossible." She stared at the body. It was a clichéd thing to think, but it really did look like Glinda was just sleeping. She looked so peaceful - blonde hair splayed around her and cream hands resting by her sides. It was as if she'd awake any moment and laugh at how foolishly her friend was acting.
The only imperfection that threatened to spoil such a perfect picture was the mortal blade wound through her friend's stomach. The blood on it was dried now and crusted over the frayed fabric of Glinda's under-shirt.
Looking at the sight, it didn't seem real. Elphaba wondered vaguely if it ever would.
Fiyero robotically got to his feet, grabbed a sheet from nearby and careful placed it over Glinda's dead body. He had been crying for what seemed like an age and yet still tears flooded to his eyes.
Elphaba took a hesitant breath and then said, "It should have been me." Her voice shook. Bit by agonising bit, she could feel her strong internal resolve breaking down.
Fiyero looked to her questioningly. "Elphie, no," he breathed, sliding down next to her again. "Come on, Glinda wouldn't want you saying that."
"No," said Elphaba forcefully. "No, it should have been." The witch locked eyes with Fiyero and continued, "I…I prophesised it."
There was a beat.
"I had a dream that showed me…it was supposed to be me."
"Elphie," said Fiyero, grasping his friend's shoulders in support. "That was just a dream."
Elphaba let out a bitter laugh. "No - it was real. I never dream…I know it was real. And yet here Glinda is - dead." The word shook. It was probably the closest thing to crying Fiyero had ever seen Elphaba do. She closed her eyes for a second. "Don't you understand, Fiyero? Glinda should never have brought me back. She could have done so much good, but now…"
The line ran off, lost in the despair of the room. Elphaba stared into nothingness.
Fiyero sighed. "What are we going to do now?" he asked.
Gradually, the image in the bubble began to fade, leaving Glinda shaking. A person was never meant to see themselves dead, or the pain of their loved ones left behind. She took a breath and turned to look to Tilus. Her eyes met his solemnly.
"Of course Elphie would want me to live. …Just like how I want her to live."
"Yes," concurred Tilus. "Of course…but you heard what she said?"
Glinda nodded, mind lost in turmoil. Inwardly, she pleaded that this was all some messed up dream and that she really wasn't about to make the final decision to live or die - to kill or grant life.
A moment of nausea hit her. But this was real - all too hideously real.
"I…I know what I must do." Glinda's voice shook furiously, but somehow she struggled on. "I know. It's what Elphie would want." Pausing, Glinda smiled lightly to herself. "She always did put everything else before herself - the silly - oh, the stupidly selfless thing!"
Tilus watched sadly as another torrent of tears swamped Glinda's eyes.
Though she did not cry. She would not let those tears fall. She'd be strong like Elphie. Taking a breath, she announced, "I will save Oz. I'll save Bucepatus, and every other brave soul who stood against Gilder." Looking to Tilus with a ghostly expression, she said, "All except one."
"Elphaba would be proud," Tilus said. "Fortune favours the brave - remember this, Glinda the Good."
Closing his eyes, the man bowed his head and suddenly Glinda's world was a blur. Unsteady feet lost their precarious balance, as Glinda's mind whirled from the frenzied muddle of colour whipping past her vision. Glinda felt herself fall -
And then she just stopped.
She was on the ground and her sight was suddenly alarmingly clear. Breathing heavily, Glinda sat up and warily scanned her surroundings. She instantly recognised it as an office. But not just any office - it was her office - in her palace. Looking down, Glinda found she was dressed in what was once - well what was, she supposed, her usual finery. She hadn't been dressed that way in an age. It felt strange. Even a tiara adorned her, no-doubt, perfectly styled hair.
Standing, she wobbled, but determination brought her to the open window of the room. She was met with the sight of the glistening Emerald City.
Her city. - Where dreams were made and dreams were shattered.
Glinda couldn't believe it.
Looking sadly to the floor, she knew what that meant. "Elphie…"
"Excuse me, Lady Glinda?"
Glinda turned to the voice, startled. It took her a moment to form words. "Y - yes?"
A timid looking man entered. He looked instantly familiar to Glinda, though his name escaped her. "I'm sorry, please excuse the intrusion - I -"
"Please," Glinda interrupted, moving to the man with a sudden urgency. "Please, you must tell me - what has become of Oz? Of Munkinland and the Animals?"
There was a warm smile on the man's face, though it hadn't come quite quick enough to mask the look of confusion he had initially shown. "Oz is perfect Lady Glinda. Munkinland is as you made it - liberated and gracious. And well…all Animal Banns were lifted by your word, so I assume they'd be quite happy too." He paused for a moment, before asking delicately, "Are you quite sure that you're alright, your Ozness? I - I can fetch the masseur if you wish?"
Glinda stared at the man in stunned silence, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. "Oh no - that's quite fine. I'm quite alright. Really."
She moved away from the man, feeling as if she were in some kind of beautiful daydream. Everything had worked out. She'd saved so many lives. Perhaps she may even visit Bucepatus at some point. The thought excited and terrified her in equal measure. He hadn't exactly been the most accepting of hosts when they first met. Though that had been when he was under strict rule - he may be a completely different Wolf by now.
The only thought to taint Glinda's new found euphoria was that of Elphie.
"Umm…I'm sorry Miss -" the man uttered uncertainly. She had almost forgotten he was there.
"Oh yes," she said, turning back to him. "Of course - I do apologise. You had something to tell me."
"I merely wanted to inform you of the current reports, your Ozness."
Reports? Glinda vaguely recalled such things. "Fire away," she said.
"Well, it seems that the Ozians have never been happier. In a poll conducted two months ago it's been reported that ninety-eight percent of the people rated themselves as 'extremely happy' under your gracious rule my Lady -"
Glinda frowned. "Hmm, seems we'll have to work on that remaining two percent then. Continue, please."
The man grimaced. "Ah, it is worse news I'm afraid, my Lady. Well, you see - there's still been no sign of the witch…or our rogue Captain of the Guard."
Glinda's eyes widened and she whirled round on the man so fast that it made him jump. "Witch? Which witch?"
"Ah, The Wicked Witch, my Lady…that is to say, there's been no luck yet, but we will surely catch her. I'll send out the military guard, shall I?"
Glinda barely even heard the question. She was smiling, dancing inside, lost in her own complete happiness. Elphie was alive. Her silly selfless friend had found a way to save herself. Of course she had been cast out, misunderstood by many - but alive she was! No one had needed to die. Somehow, for some reason, everybody lived. Glinda caught the little man staring at her and instantly bit back her smile. He must think that she'd gone quite mad.
"Umm - no," said Glinda, thinking back to what the man had mentioned about the military guard.
"No, your Ozness?"
"Yes. …No. It will do the populace no good to see the soldiers out. It would only cause panic," she said, hoping that her ramblings sounded at least a little bit credible. She had quite forgotten the formalities involved with ruling. "For the time being, we shall call off all search missions for the witch. I feel positive that she shall reveal herself in time."
Glinda hoped so at least. If Elphie did make herself known, Glinda knew she'd be right there to help her friend - and that she'd do it right this time. She looked at the man. He appeared somewhat perplexed, but seemed to be buying her story in any case. After a second, realising Glinda had finished, the man nodded enthusiastically at her idea.
"Yes, Lady," he said. "Of course. Quite a masterstroke on an idea! I shall inform the guard."
Bowing curtly, the man turned to leave.
"Um...good Sir?" asked Glinda, suddenly remembering something. She wished that she knew the man's name. She couldn't very well call him 'good Sir' for the entirety of her rule could she?
The man turned back. "Yes, your Ozness?"
Glinda bit her lip. She really hoped that what she was about to ask wouldn't sound too insane. "Just out of curiosity, whatever became of that young girl? Dorothy, I believe her name was?"
"Dorothy, my Lady?"
Glinda faltered. "...Y-yes." There was a moment of silence. Glinda's teeth pressed down harder on her bottom lip. Perhaps in this timeline Dorothy had never actually existed and she had just made herself sound like some crazy person.
The little man seemed to consider his answer, as if wondering if it were a trick question. "Well," he began hesitantly. "You sent her home with your divine powers, Lady Glinda. It was a day of great celebration and joviality." He blinked across at Glinda. "At least, that's how I recall it, my Lady."
"Ah yes," said Glinda, breezily, as if she had merely temporarily forgot such an important event. "That is, of course, the correct account. Thank you so much."
She smiled, and the man caught the dismissal in her tone. He bowed once more and this time Glinda allowed him to leave. She had so many other questions - about the Wizard and Fiyero and Elphie, but she thought that she may have to discover those answers on her own. The doctor would surely be called to check her for bumps on the head if she asked anything else that she should already know.
Glinda breathed out a sigh and once again found herself at the window, staring down at her beloved city.
She almost couldn't believe what had just happened. How had it all worked out so well? So quickly?
Had this been a reward? A prize for setting fate back to the way it was supposed to be? Glinda didn't much care, but something told her that that was exactly what had happened.
Fortune favours the brave.
And indeed - it had.
She wondered if she'd ever see Tilus again - and then quickly dismissed the thought. Whatever Tilus was, he was clearly not of this world. Glinda believed that he had helped with what he needed to - and had now moved on.
The cynical side of Glinda told herself that it was all too perfect. Something must go wrong - but, as it was, she was in power, her people were happy and Elphie and Fiyero were safe. At that moment Glinda felt like she could have faced a thousand Gilder's.
Reluctantly, Glinda turned from the window and swept out of the room. She couldn't spend all day looking at the view - after all, she had a city to run.
A/N: And that's it. Done. After years and years of waiting and holding this off, Defining Goodness is finally complete. I really hope that you've all enjoyed it - and that this final instalment was worth the wait. I can't believe that it took me this long - and I can only apologise.
Thank you to all my reviewers over this time. You don't know how much all your comments were appreciated.
I'll be doing other things - writing other things - and trying to complete other things ;) so I might catch some of you on those other stories. But if not, then it's been a pleasure - and I hope that you've enjoyed this Wicked ride ;)