Disclaimer: None of Wicked belongs to me; hey ho, who cares?

Note: It would seem that Christmas has flown right by, without an update- but I did receive a lovely head cold from Santa Claus this year. So bask in your vengeance while I blow my nose. This is my Boxing Day gift to anybody who reads.

- - -

Shiz's auditorium was a great brick skeleton, erected lonely in the middle of the grounds and remained lonely most of the semester, save for the welcoming of first years and their eventual graduation. The ceiling extended so as to touch the clouds- the students sat low, natural acoustics aiding a speaker, though, undoubtedly, Morrible would cast some sort of spell, regardless of how vociferous she was initially.

The day was two, and Boq had written to his favourite cousin, however begrudgingly, of whom he had not known Miss Elphaba had taken a liking to. She did not ask after the naturally diminutive boy on their way to the auditorium, but rather, focused on gathering her cloaks so as to shield her lanky frame further from the looming, chilled fog that covered the grounds. Consuming her thoughts was the whereabouts of her roommate, who must have arrived to their destination already.

Elphaba thought, as she bent her shoulders inwards to hide from the morning nippiness grouchily, that if she never invited Galinda to speak of the other night, it would eventually be erased from time. Logistically, it was a senseless assumption, but for the green girl, who never had the opportunity to daydream about creatures of fantasy, she required some false nous for, at least, that day.

"You think she'll mention our toilet paper thing?" Crope asked groggily, emitting a yawn wide enough to catch innocent, passing flies.

"As an artist," Tibbet began proudly, much more conscious than the other two, "it was mightier, bolder work than last year, if I do say so myself."

"I didn't know enough paper could immobilize a closed door," Crope nodded, yawning again. The grey walls of the auditorium were visible from the distance, now. "The things you learn in a day."

"The both of you criminals devastated the entire west side of Three Queens; half of the boys escaped through windows," Wedekind scolded, though his mouth smiled. He was waiting for the post to arrive, grateful for taut economic partnership between his home and Gillikin.

"Crope and Tibbet might be committed to years of transgression, yet the underlying subject becomes Morrible's desperation to escape her own facility, like a thief fleeing his plunder so that the Gale Force recovers only evidence," Elphaba commented sourly, quietly, although her voice was always stony. Nessarose would say that Elphaba's voice was unsettling; how she much preferred a black bear lull her to sleep.

Wedekind peered at her peripherally. "Come again?" her beckoned politely.

Elphaba let her body convulse in a quick shiver. "What I mean to say is, we're being called to the auditorium this early so as not to delay our beloved headmistress on the morning train out."

"She's taking a vacation?" Wedekind wondered incredulously, his eyes widening so that his spectacles fell down his nose. He hastily pushed them up, careful not to smudge the lenses.

Shuffling her boots over tufts of dewy grass, though Crope and Tibbet chose to slide through it some safe paces ahead, Elphaba caught the Munchkin's eye, which she was able to maintain with her exotic, positively gypsy guise. "Welcome to Shiz," she saluted, not at all sarcastic.

-

The doors to the auditorium were unlocked but not pried open- someone was cautious to prevent the unexpected chill of morning from seeping into the giant, single room. Akin to a lecture hall, small seats bolted into the floor were set in rows, elevating in a semicircular manner about a small, wooden stage. Crope and Tibbet had complained of their discontent toward its size, for their plays were performed here, and they greatly disliked falling off the rostrum.

Wetness might have been absent from inside, but cold was ever present, and Elphaba was glad for grabbing her cloaks before rushing out the door. From birth, her eccentricities were more prominent than others, her own father affirming that she was an unusual sight, indeed; and so her tendency of early rising meant awakening before the sun. However, this morning was changed. She had been plagued by nightmares of things she swore off in her waking state.

Though Elphaba's atmosphere felt wintry and slothful, the small handfuls of students remaining for the break were not all shivering as she. A boy, propped up against two chairs, was sleeping with a poncho tightly swathe about his midsection, and others were wearing clothing that anticipated warmth for the afternoon while chatting will seldom breaths between, as socialites were so apt to do in the presence of company.

For instance, Galinda was already in the midst of a conversation with another girl, both their clothes similarly thin-strapped and pastel coloured. The other girl possessed mousy features, and if that weren't enough, larger-than-normal ears, but the shy smile flashed every once and a while at Galinda's words was enough to label her charming.

Elphaba only vaguely recognised her, hoping she wouldn't rudely comment if the green girl were to bud in on their conversation. The blonde's eyes strayed from her companion for a moment and caught her green roommate gawking, a smile spreading from her eyes to her glossy lips once Elphaba refused to look away. Then she bit her lower lip, and began stealing glances back and forth.

Behind her, Crope was leaning against Tibbet's shoulder, his slackened, slightly drooling mouth staining the boy's vest. Wedekind was checking the grandfather clock at the edge of the auditorium hastily. The green girl decided that they could do quite well on their own, and made her way toward her blonde roommate in the nick of time- for her company waved and dove into a row of seats.

Galinda's luxuriant knee-length, pastel blue sundress was imperial in comparison to the blanket-esque cover Elphaba held over herself, concealing a murky purple frock, as was their differing heights a sight to behold. Elphaba was not fond of sizing herself up, predicting the judgements of others; disobedient to hindrance by way of what she deemed paltry, and she hoped that Galinda, who favoured exterior, would not slink away with distinct cowardice displayed in the past.

"Good morning, Elphie! I was going to wake you earlier, but found myself in such a fix, were you perturbed upon awakening," the girl greeted brightly, slightly ruffling her skirts as she spoke.

"It's not as though there was anything important going on," grumbled Elphaba.

"Oh! You see, but that's why I rushed here," Galinda started brightly. "We have no other way of figuring who might have stayed for the break, being as nobody would dare spend time in the cafeteria. I mean, goodness! With off-campus practically being an enormous outdoor kitchen!"

Elphaba smirked, having eaten lunch in the cafeteria one day previous, but the blonde caught her in the act and mocked the expression. "Don't make that face at me, Elphie; what else am I supposed to do while you're locked up in Dr. Dillamond's laboratory, attaching human limbs to Animal parts from nearby graveyards and creating your very own politician? Twiddling one's thumbs gets tiring after the first few minutes, I have come to discover."

"You're positively hilarious this morning, you are," Elphaba shook her head, marvelling at how the blonde wasn't turning blue as her dress with pneumonia. "I've yet to wake up."

"I can tell- you've practically dragged your bed out with you," Galinda nodded toward the green girl's shoulders, draped in black material. She rocked back and forth in her heeled shoes, watching her roommate bitterly stare back, then suddenly parted her lips with an idea for conversation. She tucked loose strands of blonde behind her ear discreetly, "You see that girl I was just speaking to?"

Elphaba nodded. "We've never quite been introduced, but she's familiar."

The happiness in Galinda's expression plunged as she immediately spotted the girl again, then turned back to the green girl. "I just about destroyed any chances of social success for her at this school. And yet, she was so polite, even kind to me. How does that work?"

Elphaba inhaled sharply, feeling warmer now that she was contained by walls, and loosened her cloak. Often times, Galinda's definitions of things were more drastic, and certainly more dramatic, than the literal nuance. "It depends on what you've done, but really, this isn't a confessional."

The blonde's delicate facial features crinkled with discontent while holding a glance with the green girl, perhaps suggesting that what she had done was a completely normal classification of wrongdoing, however unlikely. Elphaba decided to keep talking. "I understand that associations are imperative for some, especially within business or family. But forgiveness is indispensable for a person's sanity." Galinda missed the apparent implication in the way the green girl was explaining. "If every flame was kept ablaze, all of Oz would have burnt down by now."

How many times could Elphaba have held against Nessarose the hardships that could have been another's, if not for her younger sister? What factors of their relationship would be different if Frex would stop blaming Elphaba for the death of his wife? Elphaba likened forgiveness to a skinned, bloody wound; as the latter is painful to touch, the former was harrowing to discuss, nevertheless indirectly.

Galinda must have felt the restlessness radiating from Elphaba's very pores, shuffling her feet. "You know, I never even remembered her name," she said quietly.

"The simple art of query and sheepish apology never hurt," shrugged the green girl, movement on the platform catching her attention. A professor was trundling a podium to centre stage. "I believe it's about to begin."

Galinda turned to see the professor barely miss rolling the podium from the edge of the stage entirely, and nodded in agreement. "Sit with me?" She laced their fingers together and led her green skinned roommate uncomfortably close to where most of the remaining students had converged.

-

Madame Morrible's meaty hands clutched each side of the podium as if it were the only factor holding her upright, her small, black eyes scooping the sparse crowd. Her attire resembled something close to travel wear; the shawl and cummerbund were evident, but the mass of lace and stripes running along every direction were a compliment to her immensely theatrical personality.

She was mid-way through a speech explaining that she had duties elsewhere, but would not specify as to why she was leaving; only that, if great discomfort should agitate a student, they would be able to contact her in the Emerald City.

Taking a seat near the front, Elphaba was forced to crane her long neck upwards in order to see their boisterous headmistress claim excuses. It were moments when she witnessed authority shirk their obligations that she, if not marginally, contemplated taking up post as Thropp Third Descending, completely out of spite.

"Furthermore!" thundered the headmistress, her painfully clear articulation coercing wakefulness upon her students. "I bring news before my departure, straight from the mouth of the Wizard, and-" she lost enthusiasm here, but only if one squinted, "tumbled along officials to be heard by student bodies everywhere." She took a great breath in, her pushed up bosom inflating enormously, then spoke upon exhalation, rolling her tongue and stressing at every antiquated word. "Remember the Oziad: 'Art thou not great to conquer the lesser? Thou art not. Thou art great when the lesser need not be conquered, for they already bow.'"

The green girl could have sworn that Morrible's eyes had flickered to rest on her, if not for the slightest of moments. She tightened the grip of her crossed arms and sat upright, watching intently. Madame Head was often guileless and shameless in parades of cloth and fanciful words- but there was an ulterior impetus from time to time that could not be concealed by graceful hand waving and a finishing school accent. Perhaps she didn't want it concealed.

"I leave the remaining faculty in my place, of whom are more than capable of performing my responsibilities together," grinned the headmistress, her slathered rouge lipstick parting to bare teeth into a grin, having flattered herself. "As well as Grommetick, who shall report to me any stunts attempted. Friday's wretched spoiling of Three Queens does not go unnoticed-" here, Crope and Tibbet shared a shoddily suppressed snicker, "-and nothing of the sort shall be replicated, else the measures of a ticktock creature cannot be monitored from a mistress quite a distance away."

Peripherally, Elphaba saw Galinda's face squeeze into pitiable anxiety. She knew the blonde was immensely unused to ticktock creatures, claiming it unnatural for scrap metal to move of its own accord, but to Elphaba, the distaste looked a lot more like fear. The green girl had her own doubts about this particular, Grommetick, whose loyalty to Morrible was ungainly animal.

It seemed a threat, however veiled, to mention the ticktock creature, which was probably sitting motionless in Morrible's office out of sight.

Morrible's beady eyes flickered toward the grandfather clock and howled. "Oh! My dear students, it would seem that if I prolonged this magnificent gathering, I should be fairly late in leaving it. I bid you a quick farewell," she tapped her long, pointed fingernails against the wood of the podium's face. "For those of you who have chosen to sacrifice your break for experience in the work force, I encourage and applaud your extended learning. For those of you who were rejected to return home," she smirked, cheek heaving to the side in way of the snooty expression. "Er, very well. Goodbye, all!"

With a mighty heave and a swirl of colour and fabric, Madame Head had leapt from the podium and hurried offstage. The green girl was invaded by a comical image of Morrible taking up her bags, which were settled just stage left, and waddling past the professor who was to remove the podium, knocking him over in her rush.

-

"For they already bow," Elphaba mumbled under her breath, holding her folded cloaks tightly against her breast, obsolete now that spring sunlight had strangled the wind's chill. If the matters of a headmistress abandoning her fortress for the frivolity of a trivial holiday were not suspicious enough, a very specific, bitter flavour of deception was apparent in the way Morrible's vast array of skirts and flesh swayed in the green girl's direction as she quoted the Oziad. "Honestly, who quotes the Oziad?"

Galinda was walking alongside her roommate, surprisingly timid, day purse flapping lightly against her waist. "The deeply religious?" she suggested.

Elphaba failed to swallow- something hard and incorrigible welled there in a matter of moments. Analyzing the subject, and the nature of Morrible's departure, would no doubt ruin her experiences that day in the laboratory. Dr. Dillamond had promised a breakthrough, though minimal, and spoke openly of celebration. That, too, worried Elphaba on the subject of Madame Head's leaving.

"The Oziad is a political volume," sighed Elphaba, swallowing again with no avail.

Galinda let out a frustrated squeak and skipped several paces to keep up with the other's practically frantic march. "Elphaba, stop walking so fast, this isn't a race."

The green girl studied Galinda for a moment, smirking. "That's yet to be decided," was vaguely heard beneath her breath. "It only makes me wary," Elphaba cleared her throat, hoping to gage her roommate, "as Morrible has never been partisan for minority, that the entirety of her speech was to warn us of Animals."

The blonde managed to slow Elphaba into easy strides by taking hold of green fingers and lacing them into her own. "That's silly," scoffed the blonde. "Her obvious warnings of that… damned ticktock thingy… unnatural, in every way."

The shudder that ran past the blonde's shoulders, one that radiated through the jitters that followed and a vacant, inward expression, her disapproval was most definitely a manifestation of fear. Elphaba bit the flesh of her inner cheek and pretended that it went unnoticed, a thing performed as often as the green girl's mind drifted to exactly how fascinating her roommate was.

"I could have sworn she'd peered at me, if not for a moment," insisted the green girl, halting abruptly and then waking with large strides again, as though forgetting her purpose. "That passage has been considered out-of-date for decades; and to claim it was word from the Wizard is utterly ridiculous. What does she know of the Wizard more than you or I?"

"I've never known anyone as cynical as you, Elphie," Galinda chided. "There is not one person at Shiz that you truly trust, is there?"

The green girl stole a sideward glance at her roommate and clenched her jaw. "That was completely hypothetical of you. By simply existing, we entrust more things to others like spreading disease."

Galinda scoffed, fluffing out her skirts with a free hand. "But there you go, likening trust with disease. Name one person here that you trust."

"I trust you, don't I?" Elphaba asked rhetorically, remembering the night before with a cringe. Accompanying their kiss was a tidal wave onslaught of passion and resentment for it; things the lanky girl could have survived with leaving alone.

Galinda smiled a little, perhaps secretive smile and rolled her eyes. "Besides yours truly, silly, that's obligatory; and even then, you have your moments."

Inhaling deeply gave the green girl a time to rack her brain for an excuse to prove Galinda wrong. Truthfully, Elphaba was a deeply sceptical person without shame for it; life and civilization lacked sincerity in her experience. Recently, though, recently, she had succumbed to the sheltered reality of university, easing into friendships that seemed so natural, within each participant's peculiarities complimenting her own. Although, Boq's infatuation for her roommate could hardly be branded as a peculiarity. But she would not let that go unnoticed.

"Master Wedekind," claimed she. Galinda connected her eyebrows to show her unfamiliarity with the name, but was silent. Elphaba lolled her head to one side. "I've entrusted my grade in languages to Master Wedekind, who, in turn, has entrusted his grade in life sciences to me."

The blonde quirked a brow and gave her roommate a sly, smoky look. "Why, Miss Elphaba, I hadn't known you were so loose with your future!"

Elphaba grumbled, though she was smiling. "We're tutoring each other during the break. Funny, actually, that we were quite engaged on Friday, when I upset you so."

Their hands broke apart; Elphaba's lazily fell to her side as they reached the building, but Galinda opted for cradling the hand to her naked cleavage, unsettled by the green girl's words. She recalled that Elphaba was usually surrounded by three boys, if not already by herself; Crope and Tibbet, and likely Boq.

The boy who accompanied them this morning seemed a new addition, what with his single, vacuous expression and large, indulged belly. Something stirred in the pit of the Frottican girl's stomach as she glared at her roommate, new suspicions gathering in her mind. They seemed absurd and irrelevant, but Galinda couldn't suppress the jealousy that was bubbling inside her. Was this break not promised to her?

They had arrived to the building with which Dr. Dillamond laboratory extended; a science hall that was under funded, but certainly not impoverished, what with it's high ceilings and antique furniture adorning the corridors. Elphaba glanced at the blonde, ready to part ways, but Galinda wasn't yet satisfied.

"Elphaba," she beckoned.

The lanky girl smirked. "Standing before you."

Galinda bit a thick, lower lip and impaired her speech slightly; it was becoming a nervous tendency that would no doubt mortify her socialites, and also displeased her, though she couldn't impede it. "What you said before the assembly, about forgiveness-"

The green girl swayed with the course of a gust of wind, as though devoid of a bone structure. "You were listening? I was almost certain you were daydreaming then," her eyebrows raised to crinkle her forehead slightly.

The blonde ignored her and continued, intent on reaching an argument. "Don't you believe that… Oh, I don't know… that Animals and their faction should be able to forgive those who are controlling them so dreadfully?"

As if intently mulling over the offer, Elphaba's legs halted as her eyes studied the entrance of the science hall, the cobblestone steps, Galinda's exposed legs, causing the blonde to blush bright crimson. Finally, she made a clicking noise with her tongue. "That kind of wrongdoing doesn't need to be forgiven," she answered quietly.

Galinda struck a pose on the walkway, a fist on each hip. "I though you said Oz would burn if everyone kept flames?"

Elphaba's head bobbed loosely on her slender neck, coloured lime in the bright sun, as she made her way up the steps. She did not cast a glance at Galinda, only replied while taking hold of the large entrance knob and pulling. "Those people didn't keep flames, they released entire symbolic forest fires." Before disappearing into the hall, she added, "See you later."

Galinda heaved a disappointed, exasperated sigh, looking around and trying to figure her way back.

-

The Goat was waiting in the dank laboratory once Elphaba had entered, seeming calm and preserved, his straightened, ironed clothing a mixed message in terms of their exercises for the day. Either side of his snout did not smile while the girl set down her cloak and bag, then began preparing without having to be summoned.

"Dear girl, has the split between you and Miss Galinda been mended?" he wondered.

Elphaba clenched her jaw and considered whether lying would be a valid response. "In a manner of speaking, yes," she replied, not looking up from her work.

It seemed the Goat was satisfied with her elusiveness, his face becoming grim as the next question was asked. "Were you present during the assembly this morning?"

The green girl ceased her work, eyes rising to meet the Dr. Dillamond's seeking, dark beads, which resembled Madame Heads'. "Yes," she answered simply, communicating more in one word than what could have been done with five.

This seemed to please the Doctor more than before, as he got up from his seat and clasped his hind hoofs together, at last smiling. "Right, then! There's much to do today!" His scratchy vocals rose to the triumphant tone that only seemed present in the lab. Elphaba smiled and let out a hand in order for him to precede her.

- - -

And that, my friends, might just be the beginnings of a plot. Grommetick is the correct name, right? I don't have my book at home. The bestest gift you could ever give a poor, fanfiction writer is reviews, and so, I wish you all a happy belated Christmas!