Okay, wow! So I know it's been quite a long time since I last posted, and I'm sure many of you reading this now are new readers, but I would just like to say that it's nice to be back! Welcome, wonderful new readers, and welcome back to the fabulous old ones! I intend to keep this story up and running for a little while yet, so hopefully I can get most of it done again before hitting another writers lull. But have no fear- I have the plot very carefully written out, if like before I stop writing, I can pick it up again without too many problems.
The italicised section at the opening of the chapter is, as before, the last lines of the previous chapter.
So, on with the story!
But the headmistress wasn't finished yet. "I'm sorry, Mrs Rachaels, but this really is quite enough... Madame Pritchard tells me she is refusing to cooperate with her in the annual GreenDay Production. I will not have it. As I told you last year, all students are expected to contribute, whether on stage or off it. Please, make sure she gets the message, and make sure that when she arrives on school grounds tomorrow, that her skin is as the Unnamed God intended. Good day, Mrs Rachaels."
Mrs Penny-Foster turned her heal and left the fuming Mrs Rachaels in her wake.
Phoenix saw her cue to make a run for it. She grabbed Rose's shoulder and gestured with her head. They leapt up and started running.
"PHOENIX!" Her mother roared.
And they continued running.
Skipping round to the back of the market and pulling a steep left, Phoenix dragged Rose down another narrow lane at full pelt before breaking out at a small pedestrian crossroads, in the centre of which stood a thick stone well. Phoenix collapsed against the side of it, her arm snaking up around the thick iron post as she dissolved into unrestrained gasping laughter. Rose heard the notes of a cackle buried in there. She creeped up beside her panting heavily, bracing herself against the cold brickwork as she unsurely joined in laughing.
"Oh... I am in soooo much trouble when I get home." Phoenix smiled. She waved off the look of uncertainty on the girl's face. No big deal. She didn't however say anything further, other than the sounds of heavy breathing.
"So, how often does this sort of thing happen?" Rose said, referring to Phoenix's obvious talent for trouble.
"Probably on a less regular basis then you imagine, but I do try to keep up appearances. You caught me on a good day. Or, should I say, a bad one..."
There was another muted pause whilst the girls' breathing slowed, before Phoenix nudged Rose's green arm and took off running again. As Rose followed her she spotted a couple of boys from the school just visible at the end of the lane.
Phoenix took her down another narrow lane, off to the side down what looked like someone's private garden path and then back round in what felt the opposite direction behind towering hedges till the mud path unexpectedly opened out into a spacious river bank.
Rose stood frozen as the redhead walked out across the fresh vivid grass to perch on the green shelf before the water. The blonde slowly made her way forward, the low lying stream becoming a thick river as it came into view. She noticed there were several large boulders dotted about the fast flowing water forming a wide chain of widely set stepping stones, and that in ages past the river must have flowed higher, carving out the land to where she now stood. Yet now it was much lighter, much lower, flowing forcefully against the opposite bank leaving several feet of exposed, compacted mud below the four foot mini-cliff Phoenix was seated upon.
Rose cautiously took a grassy perch next to the (quite bizarrely) serenely quiet redhead, wide eyes flicking between her green face and the fast flowing water rumbling around the rocks.
"We don't have open flowing water in the Emerald City. I mean, my mum- I was told that there are underground channels that some old dirty river flows through, but it's sealed off, it's toxic. But I've never seen..."
The redhead barely acknowledged her.
"Make sure you don't fall in."
Rose frowned. "I'm not that stu-"
"If you thought crying was painful, you don't want to know what real water feels like over green skin like ours."
Rose frowned, mind catching an uneasy undercurrent of meaning. Phoenix shrugged her off again. "I was curious. I was green. After you hear all those stories- well, as I said, I got curious." Smiling, she turned to regard the other girl, and rolled her eyes at the blonde's horrified expression.
"Oh come on, I didn't bathe in it. Just trickled my hands under the tap for a moment. It kinda stings like hell really. Still gave me a rash like sunburn even after the Emerillium had worn off. So you really don't want to fall in. Plus, I don't have any towels with me..."
Rose was mercifully quiet for a few moments. Then frowned again, folding her green arms against her body with an almost audible huff.
"How the hell do you know about the Witch of the West. How the hell does anybody here know about her? We're in the furthest point away from the Emerald City you can possibly go, we're in the centre of bloody nowhere, so how the hell do you know about the Witch of the West? How come GreenDay is still celebrated here? We moved bloody here to get away from all that ridiculousosity and yet you still celebrate it. What is wrong with you?"
Phoenix stared at her incredulously. "You're still getting the hang of the whole social skills thing, aren't you?"
She stared the smaller girl as Rose's eyes flickered down once more to her perfect skirt hem. She could tell by the slant of the shoulders that the pink princess wasn't as thick shelled as she put out to be, and; - was that a sigh?
"I've thought that my whole life. My mum, when we moved here, couldn't get it either. Flew into one of her mad tempers- and yeah, if you've ever witnessed one, you don't want to be around for another. They were trying to flee the whole 'Wicked Witch' madness, and it was just after everything happened with that 'Kansas Girl', and it- well- kind of enraged her. My mother I mean. Not the... Well, anyway. That was a few years before I was born. We don't really celebrate it in quite the same way here. It is just a hangover from the Emerald City; we don't decorate the village and put green banners up and everything like I think they do, I think barely half the town knows it's actually happening. All we get are a few cards. Sometimes a little dress-up, but it's really nothing more than an excuse to be silly and drink heavily. Well, as far as some of the tavern regulars are concerned."
"Then what about your school production? That sounded like a lot more than just a 'hangover from the Emerald City'."
"It's... tradition. The school likes indulging in the 'extracurricular spectrum of learning', meaning the teachers get time off trying to keep us in order and we all get to mess about for a few hours a week till the big (green) day when we get to make complete idiots out of ourselves. It's only since the old drama teacher retired last year that it's started to become something... more than it used to be. Technically speaking we're all supposed to be involved, but good ol' Jannett used to let me get away with just painting a few trees and providing a broomstick or two, but now the new cow wants more. She expects everyone to be involved, and she wants the show to be 'authentic' and perfect. I think she's been teaching in another of the outlying areas for a few years, but she's an Emerald City woman, born and bred. Of course, she doesn't know shit about our ways and our town."
Rose felt she heard and unspoken 'me' dropped into the end of the sentence and couldn't help the smile that crept over her face. She tilted her head down to hid it.
"And so, the green boy, your ex..."
"Told the evil witch I loved playing the villain so much I was a bloody expert on the matter. Of all the bloody things that traitor..."
Rose kept her head down, finding Phoenix's choice of words a little unusual. Though they'd only just met, Rose had a feeling that Phoenix didn't need to resort to dramatics for a couple of small telltails. She got the distinct impression there was more to what happened than she was letting on.
"Madamme Pritchard came running up to me at the end of assembly- you know, the whole school were still there, just starting to file out; and she's practically jumping up and down with this stupid excited look on her face, saying that she was starting to get worried she'd never find a 'Wicked Witch'. And then she's asking me about everything that I know about what happened and of Kiamo Ko and she's literally babbling on and on in hysterics, and the whole school just kind of halted and watched, and... well, I was quite justified for what I did to Kris, and more."
Rose softly nodded in understanding. The torrent of words had been very similar to her own when locked up in the bathroom- a warm flooding relief after the dam burst. Yes, definitely bathroom conversation, or- Rose grinned slyly at the other connotation her rambling mind had brought into her head.
Yet there was something niggling at her, yet again, digging out at that notch of curious uncertainty. After eighteen years since the fateful night when the Witch of the West had been killed and Rose's own mother Glinda the Good had had to announce the death of her secret best friend, barely anyone could remember the facts that backed up the now twisted and warped heroic story. They only remembered how the foreign girl, the alien girl, had slain the Wicked Witch in her great castle. Few barely remember the name of the mystical land the girl had hailed from. And even fewer still- those indirectly involved or just nuts, remembered the name of the outlying castle within which the woman had died. Rose could quite understand an Emerald woman still knowing all the details- you occasionally got freaks like that in the Big City, but how the hell does a girl born and raised in one of the farthest villages from the Capital know the name of that castle? How the hell could she even pronounce it correctly, let it roll off her tongue as if it was some foreign language she had mastered or a fact of life ingrained upon her memory. Rose knew all the intimate details of the murder which had happened in Kiamo Ko; her mother had made sure to tell her the truth about the brave courageous (even if slightly unusual) woman she had once befriended at Shiz University. But how the hell did Phoenix know?
Phoenix patted her on the knee.
"Time to go. We'd better get to your house before your mum tries to pick you up at school."
Oh shit. Rose's mother. Glinda the Good.
And Rose was still obstinately green.
As was Phoenix.
Update since posting the chapter: I am really sorry, but due to conflicting requirements and lack of readers, I have decided to indefinitely abandon this story. I am going to dedicate most of my time to my Merlin story 'By the Fires of Camelot', which I know reaches a far greater readership. For some reason, this story is just not visible enough to get the readers I believe it deserves.
Please, I absolutely love this story to bits. I tried to resurrect it after four years, I was hoping that possibly I could get new readers. As I mentioned previously, I have the entire plot of this story carefully detailed, I know exactly what is to happen- it will be all to easy to continue this again when there is interest, so PLEASE-
- if you are interested in this story continuing, if you like this story, you MUST let me know.