A/N: I can't believe it's been almost a year since I updated this story

A/N: I can't believe it's been almost a year since I updated this story! I'm so sorry- junior year is like death and taxes combined into one. Tedium, useless math, futility, all that sort of thing. But I've done SAT and ACT and their alphabet soup of friends- oh, that sounds bad, doesn't it, oh well- and all that remains are the AP's. So- please review, if there's anyone who remembers this.

Disclaimer: Not mine.

"Citizens of Oz-" Glinda's voice caught a little. It always did when she greeted the crowds before her, with the echo of Morrible's strident cruelty in her ear. She took in a deep breath, looked over her shoulder, and gave the fidgeting Dorothy a wink. "I come to you today with good news." Another catch in her throat. "Our great heroine, the savior of our country-" Elphaba Thropp, she thought- "Miss Dorothy Gale, has returned to us!"

The crowd burst into mingled cheering and gasps of thrilled disbelief. Glinda motioned to the girl to step forward.

"She wishes to greet her old friends and compatriots, our fellow heros, the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Lion," Glinda said firmly, her voice never revealing that she knew who two of them were and that one certainly would not becoming forward- that the Scarecrow, such as he had ever been, no longer existed. "If anyone has information on their whereabouts, or if they are here, please let them come forward. Thank you all." She stepped back, her perfect smile in place.

"How do you do it?" Dorothy asked quietly, giving an unsure, awkward wave and receiving the cheers that followed with a slightly frightened smile. "How do you talk to them when you know the truth?"

"Because Elphaba made me promise," said Glinda, "And I had to keep my word to her."

"Why do they all hate her?"

"Do you hate who your king tells you to hate?"

"Our president," Dorothy corrected absently. "Well- he tells us to hate criminals, I suppose."

"That's all well and good, so long as they really are criminals."

"But how do you know?"

"Come on, dear." Glinda said, not answering. She led Dorothy off the dais back into the palace. The two women didn't speak until they arrived back at Glinda's apartments. As soon as the door shut behind them, Elphaba shimmered into view.

"So it works!" Glinda enthused, hugging her friend tightly.

"yes, well," Elphaba said, her attempt to disguise her own euphoria belied by the rosy flush to her green cheeks.

"you were there the whole time?" Dorothy asked, bewildered.

Elphaba grinned in response. "If only the Ozians knew."

Glinda giggled merrily.

"I wonder if the Tinman will come," Dorothy mused aloud.

"Oh, he will," Elphaba assured her. "He's in love with Glinda, and he hero-worships you."

"How fast can you do the invisibility spell?" Glinda asked. "In case he comes now. Like as not they'll just let him through, recognizable as he is."

"I can do it fast," Elphaba said. She chanted all the words less one. "There. I just have to finish it and it'll go."

"Good," Dorothy said from her position by Glinda's enormous, pink-curtained window, "because he's on his way."

Elphaba finished the spell and, presumably, took herself somewhere comfortable and out of the way to listen to the coming encounter.

As Glinda had predicted, Boq's distinctive, hollow knock was heard at the door in a few minutes, unannounced by the usual messengers.

"Miss Glinda," he said when she answered, bowing creakily.

"Master B- Tin Man," she returned cordially, giving him her hand to kiss. "you recall Miss Gale, of course."

"Of course."

Dorothy, following the formal example of the adults, curtseyed laughably. There was a muffled cackle from the direction of the bed, which Glinda covered with a series of delicate sneezes- more than sufficient to distract Boq.

"Bless you, bless you, bless you, bless you," he said, then- "Lady Glinda, are you all right?"

"Oh, perfectly fine, thank you," she said. "So, where have you been keeping yourself, Master Tin Man?"

"Here and there," said Boq. "I'm staying in the Emerald Towers Inn, now. There aren't many jobs for a tin man, but they let me stay for free, on account of being a hero, and all." He spoke awkwardly and Glinda had the sense that, had he a human body, he would have blushed.

"I need your help, Mr. Tin Man, sir," Dorothy said. Elphaba, from her invisible position on Glinda's bed, noted the shift in the girl's allegiances in the way she spoke. Before, it was all Scarecrow and Tin Man and Lion dears and darlings, and she had been Miss Wicked Witch of the West. She hoped Boq would not be as perceptive.

He wasn't. He gave Dorothy a soft-eyed look.

"Of course, Miss Dorothy. What is it?"

"It's- um, it's Scarecrow," she lied. "I can't find any trace of him. I'm sure Lion's in the forest, being king, but I can't imagine where Scarecrow might be, and no one's heard of him, either."

"Oh, dear," Boq said. Elphaba stared at the girl, openmouthed, and Glinda was barely masking her own horrified astonishment. What was she doing?

"Will you help me find him?" Dorothy asked without a tremor.

That girl, Elphaba reflected, had better have a plan, or she would see just how wicked one retired Witch could be.