When Glinda had charted the cartography of her life, she had never factored in the quiet. There was school and graduation, love affairs, stolen kisses, songs, dancing, parties, friendship, children, old age (but gracefully), and all the things that were expected to be in a proper lady's life. But she had never thought there'd be so much quiet.
Her apartment in the Emerald City was beautiful. It should be, she had reupholstered it three times in the past few months. But the green was the one thing she couldn't change. She was sick of the green that shone outside her window like a constant moon. It was a stupid complaint, criticizing green in a city made of emeralds. If Elphaba were here, she'd…
Now, what made Glinda think of Elphaba just then? Glinda put down her book (she had been reading it while sitting on a plush chair that tastefully mingled with the throw rugs and curtains of her reading room) and looked out the window. There was the usual flow of citizenry, although appreciably less Animals than there had been in her youth (since Elphaba seemed fixed in her mind, she speculated that the green-skinned woman would probably have something to say about THAT). Advertisements, fountains, vendors, sellers, buyers, beggars; the flotsam and jetsam of city life.
And it was all.
She opened her windows to let the noise in and even that was quiet. Sound leaked upwards as loud as water evaporating. It amounted to merely a buzzing in her ear. Glinda closed the windows and realized that the buzzing was coming from the doorbell. She opened it and asked herself if it couldn't be that she had, in the course of learning sorcery, perhaps picked up premonitory powers. For, not a minute after the name had first entered her mind, Elphaba was standing in her doorway.
"You look dreadful," Glinda greeted her. And it was true. Elphaba had a haggard appearance, with bruised-green bags under her eyes, which appeared to be as vehemently red as the rest of her was green, from crying no doubt. Odd. Glinda had always suspected that the Munchkinlander has no tears in her. "And it is in sinful excess to your genetics, so don't blame your color."
"It's good to hear your voice again," Elphaba said, sounding strangely subdued, as if she meant it. She nodded once to show her assent to Glinda ushering her inside. "How does life find you?"
"Married. And yourself? What have you been busy at?"
"Nothing. Nothing I've accomplished…" she paused to laugh harshly at the very idea, "has changed or amounted to anything."
Glinda sat her friend down in the living room, which was exceedingly livable at the moment, having a roaring fire currently consuming wood in the fireplace. Quickly recalling the most comfortable couch, Glinda sat Elphaba down in it and went about the business of being a good hostess: fixing drinks, straightening up a few messes out of sight, and even tugging the black boots off Elphaba's feet. Within moments, they were comfortably seated within a few feet of each other and sharing a spot of tea.
"How's your husband?" Elphaba asked, uncaring.
"Nonexistent; I divorced him. He's in good company. My three priors were all good men and lacking husbands."
"Marital recidivism? From you?" Elphaba eyed the Gillikinese woman. "I'm scandalized. I should think you, of all people, would prefer the sociality of even a loveless marriage to the loneliness of the divorcee."
Glinda demurely sipped her tea, which was of course the only proper thing to do when one was temporarily struck for a response. How to put it into words, the strangely unsatisfying nature of what should have been the culmination of all her efforts? "I can only point to you as being a bad influence," Glinda settled on before hurriedly attempting to move the conversation along. "Forgive the human-centric chauvinism, but even Animals do not act as beastly as Men and they at least have an excuse. It's like…"
"We only bother with boys because we're supposed to?" Elphaba supplied.
"Precisely! I'm glad the years haven't robbed your taciturnity of its truth."
"Taciturnity? As I recall of dear old Shiz, you always thought I talked too much."
"No," Glinda said, pouring more tea for both of them. "You said too much to the wrong people and talked too little."
"And were you one of those wrong people?" Elphaba asked. Glinda, social butterfly that she was, sensed there was something more crucial to the question than she realized. She sipped her tea, thought over her words (a bad habit Elphaba had impressed upon her), and said…
"Goodness no. I could listen to you blither on wrong-headedly for hours."
"Far be it for me to disrupt your charitable hospitality, but at least I blithered about something," Elphaba said, at last regaining some of her trademark spitfire nature.
"Same old Elphie." Glinda glanced at the clock. Near supper-time and she was expecting no guests. Sometimes, the Unnamed God make Him or Herself so clear that His or Her name was practically on the tip of Glinda's tongue. "Join me for dinner?"
"Starving, thank you."
"You are starving or you prefer to starve?"
Elphaba made a face and went to wash up as Glinda prepared dinner. Quite unexpectedly, Glinda had discovered that she found preparing food to be agreeable to her. As she preferred not to have servants rampaging through her apartment at all hours, this was yet another duty she delegated to herself so that she could preserve her solitude. It was possible that Elphaba had not yet had impressed upon her the extraordinary social status Glinda had risen to, thus she used the excuse to cook up a three-course meal. Normally, it would take her all day to bring that kind of feast to a boil, but with a little expedient sorcery (socially frowned upon, but who cared?), she had the table set by the time Elphaba returned from her sojourn.
Cleaned up, the Munchkinlander made a much more pleasant picture. Her tangled hair had been brushed back, she'd taken off her bulky coat and hat, and the shy pitter-patter of her bare feet made for a far more engaging noise than the clomping stride of her boots. Glinda had to stop herself from rudely staring. It was so good to see her once again, to fall back into the old pattern of friendship that they had abandoned for so long. The words of reconciliation were left unspoken; they simply… picked up where they had left off, as if the years had never separated them.
"You eat alone?" Elphaba asked, clearly surprised. It made sense. Glinda was at times surprised herself at the lack-of-company she kept.
"Save for you," Glinda reminded her pointedly as they sat down to eat. "You may not be the best of company, but try not to sell yourself short. Yes, I eat alone. Eat alone, live alone, sleep alone..."
"Fornicate alone?" Elphaba said, a spoonful of beet soup halfway to her viridian lips.
Glinda blushed furiously, making her already rosy cheeks flush a deep crimson.
"Same old Galinda…"
"I prefer Glinda now," Glinda reminded her. "I've gotten in the habit of answering to it and the girl who was Galinda…" she stopped short and returned to the pressing matter. "I thought you knew that."
"Sorry. Nostalgia clouds the memory."
Wonders never cease. Glinda had recalled that dragging an apology out of Elphaba was somewhat akin to pulling teeth from a crocodile.
Clapping once, Glinda said "Wrong, good mum! For I don't recall you being so agreeable to look upon, so unless you've grown so…"
"Perhaps you simply appreciate it more with age."
"Bite your tongue," Glinda said sarcastically. "I haven't grown that old."
But her jibe fell on deaf ears. Elphaba had become engaged in half-heartedly herding a mob of peas around her plate. "You know," she said in a low voice, hinting again at the deeper sorrow that had driven her to seek Glinda out, "once I thought that you and Nessa and I were all being manipulated by some nefarious spell." She looked up, eyes rimming with tears. "Now I can't believe I ever thought I was that important."
Glinda stood up and hurried down the length of the damnably long table. "This is a side of you I've never seen before: Self-pity." Grabbing up a napkin, Glinda dabbed at Elphaba's eyes before the unshed tears could burn her skin. "Shame, I used to have such admiration for your… atypical brand of confidence."
Elphaba grabbed the hand Glinda was holding the napkin in. "You admired me?
"I try to find something to admire in everyone," Glinda said, a bit too dismissively. "Keeps me young."
Elphaba let a single tear fell down her cheek. It sizzled on her flesh like acid before melting away like fat on a skillet.
More in-depth interrogation revealed to Glinda that Elphaba had nowhere to spend the night. No sooner had the words left her mouth than Glinda was mentally drafting an offer to allow her to spend the night. Elphaba beat her to the punch, however, asking if it was at all possible for her to sleep there until she got her bearings. Glinda's proposal caught in her throat and so she simply nodded.
It being evening and the food having settled well in their stomachs, they went about the business of preparing for slumber. Glinda changed into her nightgown, a foofaraw more elaborate than Elphaba's daytime clothing. They stood beside each other before the mirror in the decadently large bathroom (Glinda had installed the Vinkus bath which dominated an entire quarter of the room last Tuesday) and went about their tasks: Glinda studiously removing her jewelry and make-up, Elphaba brushing her teeth three times, looking a tad enviously at Glinda's own sparkling and straight incisors after every brush.
"You really admire something about everyone?" Elphaba asked after she had spat out her toothpaste. "What about the Wizard?"
Glinda recognized the coy testing of her politics. Luckily for their friendship, she had little love for the emperor's policies. "Well, I hear he has excellent personal hygiene and enunciates very clearly."
They giggled and renewed their preparations.
Elphaba was a little surprised when she awoke to find that nothing untoward had happened to her. Since she didn't have any nightclothes on her, Glinda had lent her an old throwaway gown. She couldn't recall having ever worn something so auspicious. It made her feel jittery and odd. The scent of Glinda on the clothing, still rose-petal sweet, made her feel altogether different.
And it was too soon to be feeling different, too soon to be feeling anything other than guilty or sad or dead.
The guest bedroom obviously hadn't been occupied in a while. Glinda, usually fastidious about cleaning, had left a thin sprinkling of dust on a few surfaces. Elphaba dressed in her clothes, washed during the night, and went out to find Glinda. Back when they had been roommates, Glinda had always been quick to get breakfast out, believing it the healthiest start to a healthy day, but now the table was strangely barren. Needling her fingers against her brow, Elphaba searched the apartment. It dawned on her how isolated all the empty rooms must have made Glinda feel. Were making her feel?
She was so wrapped up in feeling sorry on Glinda's behalf that she walked into the bathroom without knocking.
"Ooh!" Glinda squealed, sinking herself deeper into the tub until she was up to her neck. Two long legs breached the sudsy water and dangled over the side of the tub. A rubber ducky bravely floated along the surface.
"Oh!" Elphaba repeated, startling to see Glinda so… immersed. "I didn't mean to…"
"It's quite alright." Glinda stood up out of the bathtub. Her flesh was pink and rosy and surprisingly appealing in its moistness. She looked positively succulent. "I mean, it's not like either of us has anything the other hasn't."
"Mine aren't so…" Elphaba blinked. "Ample."
"Why, thank you. Could you hand me the towel?"
Elphaba looked at the towel rack. It was closer to her than to Glinda. She picked up a fluffy white towel and held it out. Glinda didn't take it, just stared at her, mesmerized. Water dripped off her body and Elphaba was suddenly very interested in what it would be like to be wet.
Reaching out, she caressed Glinda's face with the towel, wiping up the moisture. Her golden curls had flattened and darkened with wetness. The hair came all the way down to Glinda's shoulders, like a tapestry. Elphaba reached out to run a hand through it, remembered the water, and instead rubbed Glinda's dried cheek. Glinda arched her back semi-consciously, thrusting her chest out, prompting Elphaba to go lower. The witch did, groping Glinda's breasts through the towel, feeling it become sodden with unshed dampness.
By the time she pulled the towel away, Glinda's breasts were dry, her nipples erect and ruby red. Elphaba lowered her head and suckled on one. Glinda let out an excitable noise and craned her head back with pleasure. The towel moved lower, drying off Glinda's belly and moving on to between her legs. Glinda moaned louder and folded herself into Elphaba's kiss. Her lips were soft and luscious, heavenly to suck on and chew on and nibble on and drag at and lick past and generally have fun with. Elphaba found herself letting out a more somber, more sultry version of the sound currently emitting from the back of Glinda's throat.
"Elphie… I'm dry now."
The Munchkinlander got the message. She knelt down, running the towel over Glinda's bare legs, face to femininity with her womanhood.
Elphaba had always been afflicted by water. Never been able to drink, unless it was somehow distilled, a juice or liquor. But now, as she delved between Glinda's legs, something sweet and watery hit her tongue. For the first time in her life, Elphaba realized what she'd been missing. And for the first time, her thirst for something pure was quenched.
They never did get around to having breakfast.
Dinner was a lost cause.
"I adore your sweat," Elphaba said, licking up a bead she had missed from the crescent of Glinda's buttocks. "I simply adore it."
"That is what it's there for," Glinda said politely, kicking her feet excitedly as Elphaba once more began paying courtesy to her flesh. It felt so good to be with Elphaba, inside her, astride her, beside her, anything, so long as it was with her.
Something buzzed in Glinda's ear and she had to push Elphaba away before she realized it was the doorbell. Hurriedly, she threw her dressing gown on and went to the door. Elphaba stayed behind, the green of her flesh clashing deliciously with the bed's pure white linen.
"Gale Force!" came a rigid voice from the entry room. "Open up in the name of the Wizard!"
Elphaba drew the covers to her mouth as soon as she heard the not-so-secret police mentioned. Hurriedly, she began rummaging around for a wand. She was so fixated on her search that she didn't notice Glinda returning, having dismissed the policemen.
"It was you," Glinda said in a dull croak. "You killed Morrible."
Elphaba wrapped the covers around her chest. "She killed Dillamond."
"And killing her brought him back!?" Glinda demanded.
"No, it didn't! It didn't do anything!" Elphaba brought her fist down on the mattress. "It didn't even make me feel better!"
"Then why'd you do it?" Glinda said, near tears.
"I don't know!" Elphaba replied, equally stricken. "What else was I supposed to do?"
"You could've asked me for help."
"Because you were of so much use when we saw the Wizard," Elphaba said with bitter sarcasm.
"What did you expect? I was a child!"
"You still are a child!"
"This child just saved your life!" Glinda pointed out. "I told the Gale Force I had no idea where you were! And if I'm a child, that makes what happened in the tub pederasty!"
"If it were pederasty, we'd both have to be men. I'm a witch, not a hermaphrodite."
"You're neither!" Glinda shouted. "You're a pretty young woman and I'm sorry I didn't see it, but you can't keep punishing us for that!"
"Everything I do is not because of you or your failings!" Elphaba shouted so loudly that she threatened to crack the Emerald City.
As if shocked by the volume, Glinda's voice retreated to a bare whisper. "Then why'd you leave me?"
Elphaba's arms dropped to her sides and she let the covers slip down over her body. "Because there were bigger things at stake than a schoolgirl crush!"
"Is that all I am to you?" Glinda took a step backwards. "Some… sick fantasy!"
"No! Well, maybe you used to be, but… you've grown on me."
Glinda looked down at Elphaba for a moment. Then tackled her against the mattress with a deep hug.
"Like a wart or some sort of abscess, perhaps..." Elphaba added before Glinda tickled her mercilessly.
"Despite your best efforts," Elphaba said of her reflection in the mirror, "my chromaticity appears to be unaffected by any newfound morality."
"'Only bad witches are ugly'," Glinda quoted by rote, standing over her girlfriend's shoulder to better examine the mirror.
"Who gets to say who's a bad witch and who's a good witch?" Elphaba argued. "Who gets to say who's ugly and who's pretty, for that matter?"
"I find that a sobering thought. And if that's a sobering thought, the implications are positively parching."
"I'm not making any statement of deity-hood," Glinda clarified, as was often necessary.
"Then what are you saying?"
"I'm saying that you're beautiful, therefore you can't be a bad witch."
"Maybe…" Elphaba mused romantically, "good witches are just witches who have people around to tell them they're beautiful."
"Yes, you should hire some forthwith."
"They could come in, reassure you of your beauty and conjointly of your rectitude…"
"I'm starting to be disassured of your attitude."
"Then just hustle off and leave you to your bustle."
"If their employment's purpose is to assuage me of my own turpitude, they would have to hustle off any time I became fixated on your bustle." In point of fact, Elphaba had become quite fixated on Glinda's bustle and was presently effecting its removal by lazily dragging on the lace that tied down her corset.
"Only the most cynical could describe anything you do following the removal of my bustle as a turpitude," Glinda replied smartly.
"And I am reassured of your attitude," Elphaba said as she slipped her hands under the half-uncovered bustle.
"Keep that up and you'll soon have my gratitude."
"To earn that, I'll need a great deal of latitude."
"Do your worst, oh Eminent Thropp."
"And we return to the issue of righteousness! You pick the strangest topics for pillow talk, Good Witch."
"You talk too much, Elphaba."
"You scream too much, Glinda."