Chapter Twenty-Eight: Homecoming
It was a dry summer, for which Elphaba was grateful – the humidity was hard on her skin. Heat was more tolerable when it was dry. She was able to spend more time outside than she had expected to. Sometimes, when Fiyero was in meetings with his father, she would walk the grounds and practice levitating small things she'd find in the dirt. If it was dark – sometimes Fiyero would be in his father's office late into the night – she'd light the way for herself. She found an old crystal ball in a storage room and once or twice tried to pull premonitions from it. On that, she was not very successful. Sometimes she'd see strange things: shoes, a house she did not recognize. But none of that made any sense to her.
Fiyero would return to their bedroom and still be restless. Merely following his father's movements all day and not doing anything for himself seemed to have him incredibly bored. The two of them were more eager than they had even expected to head back to Shiz.
Before they were even settled back in their apartment, Elphaba dragged Fiyero over to Glinda's – now Glinda and Nessa's, to see how everyone was getting on. Nanny, Nessa and Glinda were in the room trying to coordinate things in such a way that it would be easiest for Nessa to get around, and that if she were to fall, she would be least likely to hurt herself.
"Fabala! Fiyero!" Nessa smiled widely upon seeing them.
"Elphie!" Glinda jumped up, but stood back and let Elphaba hug her sister before she ran and squeezed Elphaba so tight she lost circulation is one of her arms.
"It's good to see you, both of you," Elphaba smiled.
"It's good to see you, too, Elphie!" Glinda was bouncing on her toes.
"I was just getting acquainted with Glinda. She's a very kind person. Thank you for suggesting I be her roommate, Fabala. Although I am a little shocked that you two are friends. It doesn't seem like you, dear sister."
Fiyero laughed at that. "I thought the same thing."
Later that afternoon, Glinda pulled Elphaba aside. "I think I know why my Ama is ill."
"What do you mean, Glinda?"
"I... I think... I think I did it. I made up this illness as an excuse to Madame Morrible as to why I shouldn't have to be placed in the larger quarters with ten other girls. I said my Ama was unable to care for that many girls. And now she has it. Did I wish it upon her? Is my sorcery more powerful than I thought and I did it to her?" Tears welled in the blonde's eyes.
"No! Glinda, no matter how much either of us wants something, we still have to know the spell to get it. And you didn't want your Ama to be sick. You just didn't want to live with ten other girls. You did not do this."
"But then how come this illness is exactly like the one I described to Morrible?"
"I don't know." But Madame Morrible was a more powerful sorceress than they were. Well, she may not be, but she was a better trained sorceress at least. But why would she do such a thing? "Wait... when did you say your Ama got sick?"
"Around the same time Dr. Dillamond died..."
"Oh sweet Oz..."
"What? Elphie, what are you thinking?"
"The only other person you described this illness to was Morrible, Glinda. And I think... I don't know how to tell you this, but I think Morrible killed Dr. Dillamond. What if Ama Clutch saw something, Glinda? And Morrible cast a spell?"
"Elphie, you don't really think such a thing!" Glinda's eyes widened, but Elphaba thought perhaps it was not because she didn't believe her, but because she saw the connection, too.
"I do. That's exactly what I think!"
Glinda swallowed hard. After a moment she said, "It does make sense."
"It makes perfect sense."
"If only Ama Clutch could tell us what she saw," Elphaba muttered.
"I don't think she can. She's getting worse. She's still here, you know, in the infirmary."
"Maybe there's a way... a spell or something."
"I've tried, Elphie. I've felt so guilty that all I've been doing is trying to reverse it. There's nothing. We may never know what she saw."
"So," Glinda changed the subject carefully, "how's Fiyero?"
"He's the same as he's always been. And don't think you're going to distract me. I'll leave it alone for now, Glinda, but I'm going to look into this."
"I figured you would, Elphie."
Fiyero walked over to them then. "Catching up?"
Elphaba jumped, surprised by his presence. "You could say that."
"Well, Nessa's been pestering me to go to services with her so I'm here begging you to rescue me," Fiyero said in a low voice.
"Oh dear," Elphaba grumbled. She followed Fiyero back to the room her sister and Nanny resided in. "I'm sorry, Nessie, Glinda and I were catching up."
"That's fine. I was just asking Fiyero were they might hold Unionist services near campus."
"And asking him to join you?"
"Just because his people are godless doesn't mean..."
"Nessa! That is not true. Once, his people had many gods. And Fiyero is not going to services with you. Ever."
"You're not even letting him decide on that," Nessa whined.
"I'm not going to put him on the spot. Now, can we please leave the religion discussion for another time? We were going to meet some friends at the cafe in a little while and you need to finish unpacking."
Fiyero gave her a grateful look.
When they all gathered at the cafe, Elphaba felt more eyes drawn to them than usual. She could imagine how their little group must look. The Vinkun prince, the green girl and the girl with no arms. Nessa only added to the strangeness. Instead of feeling self conscious, she felt protective. She hoped Nessa could not feel the eyes on her the way Elphaba could.
She didn't seem to. Though she was quiet, she listened with great interest at the conversation around her and answered when she was asked a question. In fact, Elphaba noted, Nessa barely even spoke about Unionism.
"So, Nessa," Crope began, "since Elphaba was arranged to marry Fiyero, does that mean you're spoken for as well? Is it a family tradition?"
"No it is not. Elphaba was... married to Fiyero because of her position as the Third Thropp Descending. I, however, am of no importance."
"Since when did Crope know why we're married?" Elphaba whispered to her husband. "I only recall telling Boq and Glinda."
"And in doing that, you told everyone."
Elphaba laughed. "That would probably be true. How long did they know, then?"
"Probably since day one."
"And they've never brought it up? Interrogated us about it?"
"Some people aren't as nosy as Glinda," he smirked.
"Stop your whispering over there!" Glinda cried from across the table. "It's not fair! You two can talk plenty later. We're all here now."
"Yes, we all are." Elphaba looked around the table. She felt Fiyero's hand on her knee. She saw her sister smiling shyly, her Nanny with her arms folded sternly. She watched Glinda laugh at something Tibbett said. Avaric grunted approval and some comment Boq made. And it was then she realized that she felt something strange, a sense of belonging. Here at Shiz, with her husband, with her sister, with her friends, she was finally starting to feel at home.