Long time, no see! The first chapter (obviously) is up…a bit earlier than I had said! And again, I have most of the story planned out, so there shouldn't be too many very long delays in the course of this story.
The same game applies to this story…guess the musical that the title of the chapter came from and you'll be congratulated at the beginning of the next one. Good luck.
To those of you that are new, I'd suggest reading the story that came before this one first (Darkness Rising), but if you don't want to, here's the basic jist:
Dumbledore asked Glinda for help against Voldemort. She came over to Hogwarts. She and Elphaba fell in love during the war. Elphaba was captured for two weeks by Voldemort and subjected to intense torture. Ron is evil. In the end, Harry and Elphaba defeat Voldemort together using a spell from the Grimmerie. Fiyero and Hermione end up together. Glinda goes back to Oz. Ron steals the Grimmerie and has disappeared.
Disclaimer: I do not own Wicked or Harry Potter. End of story.
Now, on with the story!
Chapter 1: Accident Waiting to Happen
Dark clouds were gathering. The wind was beginning to pick up and swat irritably at Ron Weasley, who was struggling to cut through roots and fallen logs. He frowned, observing a thick cluster of trees in hopes of finding the portal to Oz there. As he recalled, Thropp had relayed to the Order several years before that it was around such an area that the portal resided.
He dipped a hand into his bag, feeling around for the hard, cold spine of the Grimmerie to check that it still rested with him. After breaking out of his restraints and stealing the book from Thropp's rooms, he had wandered in and out of bear caves and clearings, studying the ancient pages. However, no matter how he squinted or hexed the damn thing, Ron still made not even the slightest dent in evolving his comprehension of the Grimmerie's ancient language. He hoped to ally himself with someone who could at least decipher a spell or two.
And who knew? Thropp couldn't be the only one in Oz to read it, and she spoke so little of the place that the redhead assumed it to reserve infinite opportunity. Normally, he wouldn't welcome outside help, or search for aid from others, but the unique circumstances could, if he played the game correctly, pose to his advantage. The Grimmerie was such a powerful object that to Ron, it didn't matter anymore. All he wanted was the completion of his one goal: get revenge on Elphaba Thropp.
England was a dreary outlook for him, changing as it were, and he reasoned that sticking around wouldn't be safe. He wouldn't admit it out loud, but both Potter and Thropp were as intimidating, powerful entities as the Grimmerie was, and they were undoubtedly searching for him. The Death Eater required time to collect himself, build a group of allies and attain more magic before heading out to attack the green witch.
Ron paused, suddenly sensing an influx of magic so close that there was a sensation of being pulled into it. He cautiously edged to his right, creeping along as though someone might catch him. He caught the glow of whirling white and silver lights that made up the portal to Oz out of the corner of his eye. He suppressed a cry of glee, for he had been searching for days on end for this very moment. He watched it for a while, in awe of the power centered in such a confined space. He took a determined step forward, but spotted an owl sitting on a branch next to the portal, unmoved by its magnificence. It reminded him of something.
It was July 31st, his ex-best friend's birthday. I'm sure Harry would be delighted to receive best wishes from his dear pal, thought the redhead, before flicking his stolen wand in brief movements and conjuring a 'birthday card' for the Boy-Who-Lived. He turned to the owl and handed it the crimson colored envelope gruffly.
"Deliver this to Harry Potter." The bird swayed, as if considering, before flying off with the cargo. Ron surveyed the area that would be his last look at England for a long while and sneered. "Happy Birthday, Harry Potter," he muttered before stepping into the portal and leaving that world behind.
It was too dark, and the place was dampened by the lack of oxygen provided by absent sunlight. In front of Elphaba Thropp stood three distinct figures, appearing and disappearing in fleeting wisps of smoke. She was defenseless in the face of their wands, being that she had been chained to the cold, uncomfortable wall.
She couldn't run away. Her body ached from the tugging her limbs met with suspending her weight. They were attacking her- wracking her body with unnatural pain again and again. She was shaking against her will, shuddering and cringing with pain.
Invading red eyes appeared to calculate her. "Elphaba Thropp," the eyes sneered, cold as the wall and red as her blood. "We meet again."
"No!" Elphaba croaked, her voice too raw from screaming, fearful of the eyes peering down at her. "You're supposed to be dead. I killed you. Harry and I-"
"That was all a dream, Thropp. A witless, hapless fantasy of the hopeful," replied the eyes, piercing her and stealing her lifeblood for its color. "Did you truly believe that, I, Lord Voldemort, could perish by means of a simple spell? What a foolish thing you are. You've been dreaming all along, little green thing. No one's rescued you, or given it any thought, really. You're still here, existing solely to entertain me."
Elphaba pulled desperately against her confinements, electing new pain as they cut deeper into her wrists. She tugged violently at her own flesh to escape the new figure that visited. "Morrible!" Elphaba spat at the appearance of the giant, malicious woman. It was confusing to see the two together; since when did Madame Head ally herself with Voldemort?
"Hello Elphaba dear." Morrible feigned kindness, as she always had. "Fancy seeing you here, of all places. It's fitting for you, really: placing the animal in it's stall. Or Animal, as the case may be."
Elphaba croaked in response, thinking up a curse, when Morrible changed. Her flesh melded into a different kind and became Dumbledore. His blue eyes were devoid of kindness or signs of twinkling, cold instead of inviting. They were uncannily reminiscent of Voldemort's. "You murdered me, Fae," he pointed accusingly.
"What do you- no! I didn't mean-" Elphaba began feebly.
"I nurtured you at Hogwarts, gave you a purpose there, let you into the school and the Order, and how do you repay me? By allowing me to die before you!" His beard was shaking with anger unseen before.
"No, I swear, Albus, I didn't want it to happen," Elphaba begged. "I promise you, I-"
"Silence!" thundered the deceased Headmaster. "I've been given the pleasure of torturing you first, being that you're my killer. I will take…great pride in your screams."
"Albus, please," Elphaba pleaded, searching and coming up short for logic of why the Headmaster was in front of her, a hair short of spitting on her. Whatever insanity had gripped him, she desperately hoped it could be reserved.
Dumbledore didn't so much as look at her. He expertly removed his wand and pointed it between her eyes. "Crucio!"
Elphaba woke with a start, wheezing slightly at the jolt in her rib cage, which reminded her of the nightmare and where it had came from. She strained her eyes to reassure herself that she was far from the Riddle House, but rather, in her rooms at Hogwarts. She had been reading through a book Snape had lent to her on potion making when her eyes slept against her will.
This occurrence was much more familiar compared to sleep lately. It seemed that with Glinda gone, her nightmares of the Riddle House grew worse. The blonde was always there to comfort her when jostled awake by Elphaba's crying out in her sleep, if she unable to subdue the visions completely. The green witch thus reasoned that memories of the Riddle House and that part of her life was dead and buried, but now, it seemed as if it had just been lingering and waiting for a ripe time to return. If it wasn't bad enough, Dumbledore began to appear more often then not – accusing her and driving her mad.
She attempted to stifle a yawn and peered at the clock on the mantle. She swore under her breath as she realized she would be late for Harry's 'surprise' birthday party. The green witch slammed her book shut and raced out of her rooms like someone was chasing after her.
When students were on holidays, professors and Order members used the Great Hall for whatever cause they saw fit. Hermione decided, with much authority, that it would be the best place to host her best friend's surprise party, but Elphaba had a sneaking suspicion that the man already knew what was in store for him.
Elphaba stretched her back, transforming with a pop, and as a black panther, swiftly made the rest of the way to the Hall. Skidding on the cobblestone floors outside, she entered the hall with two minutes to spare, suppressing huffs for air and faking to be nonchalant.
"There you are, Fae," Hermione flustered, redirecting the green witch. "We were worried. I even sent Fiyero after you."
"Sorry. I fell asleep," Elphaba explained, muttering and allowing herself to be lead.
"And no wonder." The bushy haired witch frowned. "You look like you've missed some valuable rest. It'll be important for the school year, you know. What have you been up to, Fae?"
"Nothing." Elphaba waved her arm in dismissal. Hermione put her hands on her hips and offered a scrutinizing glare. Elphaba elaborated, "I'm not doing anything on purpose! Just… nightmares."
"Nightmares?" Hermione repeated, reaching out to touch Elphaba's forearm with concern. "Are they bad. Do you need any potions from Snape?"
"No," Elphaba rejected hastily. "I'll be fine, really. It's just a phase I should work through- nothing of serious concern."
Hermione didn't look convinced, but was interrupted by Fiyero, who came running in with his dark hair floundering about his handsome face. "'Moine, I couldn't find-" he swallowed his words when he noticed Elphaba standing there with an amused expression.
"Either you need glasses or should search harder, Master of Order Scouting," Elphaba teased. "I'm standing right here."
"Okay, quiet!" Hermione demanded. "Remus is coming with Harry; there are footsteps outside!"
"Elphaba," Fiyero whispered, nudging said woman in the side affectionately. "Are you alright? You look like a zombie lately; you definitely need more sleep. There's something going on."
"Thanks, Fiyero," Elphaba scowled, hissing her whispers. "It's always flattering to receive such a compliment. I would sleep more, but there are some horrible images of Voldemort I should probably knock out of my head first."
Harry chose that time to enter, his eyes growing wide at the scene. Everyone hollered, "Harry birthday, Harry!", or something along those lines, and sung the celebratory, obligatory song drunkenly and loudly. Random people in the room congratulated him on his twenty-sixth year, rushing him with gifts.
Elphaba spoke with Harry for a moment and clapped him on the back before receding to watch the proceedings in a corner. It wasn't that she didn't want to wish her friend well or celebrate his survival, but social gathering were never her forte, and the people were just too happy for her speed.
Elphaba wasn't normally ill wishing or jealous of others' happiness, but there was a nagging feeling in her gut. After Glinda had left to go back to Oz, Fiyero and Hermione became closer and Harry had begun considering taking Ginny to dinner (flirting shamelessly as they were). It was enough to highlight what was absent in Elphaba's life. Of course, one of her other best friends was without companionship as well, but the Potions Master seemed content as ever to hide in his classroom brewing potions all day.
The green witch stayed in her rooms lately to spare her friends from the awkwardness of their contrasting fortunes. There were questions, and they cluttered up her social time when she did emerge from her living quarters, causing Elphaba to wish she'd stayed in her rooms the entire time. She wanted to snap at them, sarcastically roar that yes, she was fine with a girlfriend far off in another world.
Elphaba and Glinda were communicating through the mirrors Harry gave to them a week or so ago, but it wasn't the same, as the green witch had predicted. She didn't mention her insomnia or nightmares to the blonde, who had enough on her plate, constantly having to leave the mirror to divide her attention to political matters.
She was in a daze when someone called her name. She looked over at Harry. "Fae, are you all right?" he repeated. "You weren't even in the room just then."
"I'm fine," Elphaba replied mechanically, being an expert from constant repetition. She could even deliver it in several different ways, being a mastermind of language. "I was just thinking…about…things." Harry raised an eyebrow, halfway amused.
"Thinking about the Grimmerie again?" he offered incorrectly. "I've told you before, Fae, worrying over it places us more backwards than forwards in finding it."
"No, I wasn't-" Elphaba shifted to speak to him when an inhuman screech cut her off. Everyone in the Great Hall gazed heavenwards at the black-feathered owl, proudly stretching out its wingspan and carrying a smoking red letter. A Howler.
The owl dropped its consignment on the table in front of Harry before retreating into the rafters. Everyone turned their attention to the man's direction, making him feel as though he were back in school under the scrutiny of his fellow students. He poked the envelope anxiously with his wand to check for enchantments or curses. When none was forthcoming, he took a breath before carefully opening it.
Instinctively, the guests clasped their hands to their ears as the Howler went off, the voice echoing through the Great Hall like a scream. No matter how often a Howler was experienced, it seemed wizards always forgot that listening would cause their ears to ring; they would only smack their hands to their ears after the first roar. Several guests gasped as they realized that the voice belonged to Ron Weasley.
"Happy birthday, Harry Potter! Another year gone, and you're still alive. Celebrate, Potter, for who knows if there'll be another? After the green freak is rotting in the ground, you're next. Happy, happy 26th, Harry." As the last word died out, the envelope shredded itself into papery bits, some of which whacked Harry in the face.
Hermione broke the silence by cursing. "That bastard!" Then, everyone spoke at once, questioning and accusatory.
"Harry?" Elphaba said hesitantly.
"Fae, please don't start," Harry sighed. "I promise you that I'll be okay. I'm perfectly fine with being confined to Hogwarts for as long as needed, and Ron won't be able to get in. Besides, there will be many people he needs to get past before he reaches me, like you, who he said he was after first anyway. We should be protecting you."
"Weasley's said that before," Elphaba shrugged indifferently, but her stomach clenched. This would be another thing to keep from Glinda, and it was already hard to lie in front of the blonde. If she were there, Elphaba thought amusedly, she would push Elphaba all the way back to their rooms and lock her in until Ron was captured.
But she's not here, a voice that sounded very much like Glinda's reminded the green witch. If you continue to think like that, things will only get worse.
"Yes, I know," Harry countered patiently, "but none of the Aurors in my department have been able to track him down yet, and with his reputation as a Death Eater, he'll be loyal to his word if the prospects are rich. He's smarter than he let on to us, we must remember that. I know that you have a tendency to, well…underestimate your opponents sometimes, Fae."
"Are you calling me arrogant?" Elphaba asked in disbelief, jerked awake by the idea.
"No, not arrogant…" Harry muttered. "Just sometimes a little…overconfident for your own good."
Elphaba scowled at him. "And what about the Grimmerie?" she demanded. "It's not just a pretty book. He wants to take advantage of it. He won't let the opportunity pass; he'll twist it to his own personal gain. He's doing it now!"
"Fae, you need to keep your voice and your anger down," instructed Harry. "If this is what you think about on a daily basis, no wonder you've been dozing off in the afternoon all time."
"How in the world does everyone know about my sleeping habits?" Elphaba cried, exasperated. "It's not like I tell the entire world that I have insomnia."
"Have you taken a good look at yourself in the mirror lately?" Harry asked rhetorically. "It's not hard to tell. Your color is paler; sometimes I can hardly tell it's supposed to be emerald green. That can't be healthy, Fae. You're about as lively looking as Snape. Does Glinda know?"
"Does Glinda know? No," Elphaba snapped, annoyed by the suggestion. "And I'll thank you not to tell her, either. She's got enough to worry about over in that accursed place without the burden of worrying for my nightmares."
"Nightmares?" Harry frowned. "What type?"
Elphaba's first impulse was to slam her hand on the table, cursing internally for being loose-lipped. "I don't mean to be rude, Harry, but it's none of your business. Please just leave me be. I can take care of myself. If they get bad enough, I'll ask after a Dreamless Sleep Potion from Snape or Madam Pomphrey."
"It sounds like you have it all planned out. And when exactly is 'bad enough'?" retorted the dark-haired wizard. "Is it when you're barely sleeping? Does that not count as 'bad enough'? I can tell you what it's like to be kept up night after night. Are you willing to find out what it's like to be driven so far? I know very well the experience of nightmares, Fae."
Elphaba didn't answer him on the subject, knowing fully well that when Voldemort crept into Harry's mind, the ensuing visions were horrendous on his wakeful state.
Harry sighed. He knew that if he pressed the wound persistently, Elphaba would shut down completely and never utter a word about the subject- she was that stubborn. He opted to forget the subject for now, and grabbed the shredded bits of Howler to distract the people who were eavesdropping.
He threw them into the air like confetti, and all of a sudden, different people in the hall commenced another round of the happy birthday song, and the counter rendition of, "You live in a zoo!"
"Okay, Fae," Harry said to Elphaba once the others' attentions had been diverted. "I'm sorry to pry like that. I'm just concerned for you."
"I know, Harry," Elphaba admitted, but she wasn't smiling. She rarely smiled lately. "I really do."
Coming up: Glinda's side of the story, and Ron finds some new allies.
Well, what do you all think? The next chapter will be up soon. If it's not, you can send my flying human-lupine mutants after me. Or my flying monkeys.
Oh…and it happens to be the one-year anniversary (or at least close to it) of the beginning of my obsession with Wicked.