Fabala stood awkwardly at her chair, not sure if she was supposed to sit down or stay standing. Lady Glinda hadn't arrived yet, so she had no idea what to do with herself. The maid had disappeared into the hallway behind her, and the firelight from the hearth flickered off of the elaborate Quoxwood paneled walls. On each wall hung various oil-on-canvas paintings of landscapes and dignified looking portraits. The ornate lamps on the walls were muted, the amber light giving the dining room a warm quality. The long table before her was able to seat six, a person at the foot and head of the table with two on each side.
Two place settings were laid out, with rather simple china plates and plainly decorated silverware. A bottle of wine sat on the table in a bucket of ice, and a large bowl of decorative fruit sat between the head and foot of the table, where the two place settings were. The green girl startled when the door creaked to admit Lady Glinda.
"Oh, my dear, I'm sorry. I should have knocked." Glinda, looking less ostentatious than before in her practical dress, was contrite. Fabala gave a wry smile.
"It's alright. I would have simply startled earlier, and possibly knocked over something in the process." Glinda smiled, almost hesitantly, and motioned for Fabala to take a seat in the chair at the foot of the table. Walking to the other side, Glinda took her own seat at the head.
"The rain has not let up, I'm afraid." Pausing in thought, Glinda added, "My dear girl, I'm afraid that this may sound odd, but how old are you, exactly? In all of the bustle today, I believe I missed it."
"I've been recorded as being thirteen years old, Lady Glinda." Glinda smiled benevolently.
"Ah, to be thirteen again. I do remember those days." Fabala nodded, unsure of what to say. A tense silence filled the room, only to be broken by the creaking of the door as the maid brought in the first dish- a rather plain vegetable stew. As the dishes were being set, Fabala placed her hands together, palm to palm. Glinda looked impassively at her soup.
Fabala murmured a short prayer, then looked hesitantly at the daunting array of silverware that stretched out to either side of the plate. The smell of the stew wafted up on the mist of steam from the bowl. Identifying the soup spoon by its wider design, she dipped it into the stew and blew on its contents softly. After it seemed sufficiently cooled, Fabala brought the spoon to her lips. The warm stew raced with a welcoming stream of heat into her belly, the first thing she really felt that entire day. With that realization, Elphaba II started in on her soup with more gusto, but still neatly. Glinda smiled as she watched the younger girl eat. After finishing off her stew, the younger girl looked up from her dish.
"Lady Glinda, I have never had anything so good before…" her voice trailed off. Then after a moment of clinking her spoon around in the bowl, she looked up and locked her gaze with Glinda's own. "Why did you choose me, Lady Glinda? Of all the girls, why did you choose me?" Glinda gazed at the flickers of firelight on the wall opposite Fabala, almost entranced by their dancing patterns. For a long while she was silent. The maid brought in the second course, chicken and rice with a white cream sauce and peas. They ate that portion of the meal in silence, as Glinda mulled over what Fabala had said. Dessert came and went, and soon they were sitting in front of empty dishes of chocolate whip. Glinda finally spoke.
"When I was younger- a few years older than you, I was in college. Now, I had a very dear friend who I didn't always get along with, and didn't always listen to, but a dear friend all the less. This friend, she taught me many valuable lessons in life. And one of them was to always care for others. Don't scoff, hear me out. For a long time, I was always percieved to be a fabulously airheaded Good Witch, the poster child for all things that were good in Oz. But I was really only lying to myself, and to everyone else around me. I didn't care for them. I cared for myself. I shut out everything and everyone, and floated around in a bubble of false security.
My life changed on one night. My friend, she disappeared. And in the uproar following, I thought I would lose myself- she was like another part of me. She touched me, here-" Glinda laid one hand over her heart. "And I couldn't forget her, or her legacy. So I've been trying to make it up to her. She always tried to help me, to make me think, to make me see the blindness I grew up in. I didn't see until her disappearance. I didn't see until I took off the green-tinted glasses. And so, I try to make the world better. But I'm not immortal. One day I will die, like my friends, and my family. I will die, and my teachings would all be for naught.
Except for you, Fabala. I know you have a bright mind. And I feel that you have the capacity to be… wonderful. I'd like to show you my world, and perhaps you could follow in my footsteps, if that is your wish. But I don't want a copy of me. I want to show you what I learned. And in your lifetime, you will be faced with all sorts of terrifying truths about this world. But if I could just show you one or two pieces of wisdom I have been taught and I have learned, perhaps you will bear the blows of reality more easily. And maybe, just maybe, you'll pass the teaching on. So that in every generation there will be Goodness.
I know that Goodness has been mistaken, look at my life. I'm not the Good Witch. She was. She was, in all of her crotchety, sarcastic, blistering existence. She was. For whatever selfish reasons she had, she strove for that peace that we're all lacking. She said she never had a soul, but no. She did. She had the best and most wonderful, most complex soul of us all! She saved my life- why didn't we save hers?" Glinda had gradually become more choked up as she went on speaking. At that, she began to cry, her shoulders shaking. Fabala stood awkwardly, unexplainably touched by what the blonde woman had said. Walking over to Glinda's chair, she put one lanky arm around her new guardian. Glinda gladly leaned into the embrace and cried brokenly for everything she had lost.
After a few moments, she pulled herself together. She smiled gratefully at Fabala and patted the girl's arm as the green girl stood to her side. "And here I am, trying to fill the shadow of her cape and hat, and I'm not fitting at all. But you will, Fabala. You will. Thank you, my dear. It's too late for this sort of talk. Let me put it this way. I will always care for you Fabala. If you can't call me your mother, you can call me your friend. And this friend knows that it's getting late. Emilia, Troika's niece and your maid, will lead you to your rooms." As if on cue, there was a quiet rap on the door, and it creaked open to admit Emilia. Fabala whispered a thank you and left, silently following the maid. Glinda turned her chair so it would face the fire. For a long while she sat and stared into its smoldering depths.
The next day dawned bright and clear. The sun rose from its forested depths and shone its morning rays through Fabala's roof windows. Stretching and yawning, the gangly young girl curled into a ball under her sheets, clutching the material around her to retain the warmth. She pushed herself deeper into her sheet cocoon, until only the crown of her head was visible. As she adjusted to the warmth of her position, she fell back into sleep.
Glinda's bedroom windows were filled with the light of the dawn over the forest. She was already wide awake and dressing in a walking dress for her morning stroll before she got down to witchy business. Her dress was sensibly cut to avoid constant splashing around in the mud, and was made of a warm material that was a cotton/wool blend. The blue of the dress matched the blue of Glinda's eyes, a sky blue. Pulling a shawl over shoulders, Glinda set out to take a walk out in her gardens.
The morning's chill held the faint scent of wet earth. The rain had continued into the night after dinner, stopping only a few hours before dawn. Glinda knew this only because she had slept fitfully all night. Glinda wove her way through the house to the kitchens, where she greeted the servants warmly and accepted a warm sausage roll from Cook. She stepped out of the kitchen door to the small kitchen garden. The earthy scents were mixed in with that of baking bread, herbs, and the faint odor coming from the compost heap near the wall. Trees of various fruit-bearing types grew along the walls of the kitchen garden, providing seasonal color. There were designated areas for potatoes, cabbages, beans, tomatoes, squash, and other vegetables.
Glinda slowed her pace as she was struck by a flashback.
"Come with me to the vegetable garden, Galinda." The green girl sat on her bed, having put her book down. Galinda, brushing her hair, was startled at Elphaba's abrupt statement.
"I say, Miss Elphaba," she started, stressing the Miss, "Whyever should we go down to the vegetable garden at this hour? It's late, and I've got a Sorcery quiz tomorrow, not to mention a lunch picnic with Pfannee and Shenshen." The older green girl stood.
"Oh come Galinda, where's your sense of adventure? Who knows, perhaps there are falling tree nymphs in the garden to-nite. Or are you afraid?" The girl's sarcastic amusement was evident. Glinda put her brush down, starting to get riled up.
"Miss Elphaba, just because we are roomies does not give you license to tease me so!" Elphaba crowed.
"So now you acknowledge my existence-" The incensed blonde cut off her roommate.
"This is not about you, Miss Elphaba, this is about-" Elphaba approached the younger girl.
"You? Everything is completely about you.Everything you do, everything I do. I ask for a simple stroll down to the vegetable garden at a pleasant hour. Of course, there you may bask in the light of the moon. And perhaps you shall shimmer amongst the stars. The very heavens will sing your glory. This is the perfect preening opportunity, Galinda. And you push me away. Loudly. Horrible Morrible is apt to come down and find out what we're arguing about this time." Galinda lowered her voice, but kept her tone an intent whisper.
"What are you talking about? It is most certainly not a pleasant hour, and I do not appreciate that tone. Why do you want me to go down to the vegetable garden?" Elphaba leaned down to confront the blonde eye to eye.
"I am trying to be a good person. Now, for once in your life will you just do as I ask? Do something for others, instead of forever doing things for yourself?" Galinda was appalled. Of course she did things for others! For instance, just the other day she had bought a dress out of Rionno's dress store before another lady could buy it. Of course, this was for that other lady's good- the woman looked horrible in pale yellow. Galinda was only saving her the humiliation she would suffer at the hands of that dress.
"Miss Elphaba, I am angered at the very thought that I do not do things for others. Fine. I shall come down to the garden with you, only to settle your obviously maddened mind. Never let it be said that Galinda does not do kind things, even when others are being beastly." Elphaba cracked a sarcastic smile and swept open the door to their dorm room with a flourish.
"After you, Lady Galinda." The smaller girl flounced past in a huff.
That was her first meeting with Boq, the Munchkin who was decidedly lovestruck with her. He was a cute little thing, but Glinda didn't feel anything but a passing amusement and some apprehension at being caught with a boy and Elphaba in a vegetable garden. After sending the poor boy on his way, Glinda had confronted Elphaba as they retreated to their room.
"Miss Elphaba, the very nerve- bringing me to a meeting with a boy, in a the kitchen vegetable garden!" Elphaba looked back at her, her face almost disturbingly blank.
"Well, do you like him?" Galinda was surprised.
"Hardly in the romantic sense- Goodness! He's a Munchkin, for the Wizard's sake!" Elphaba looked at her, a shrewd glint in her eye.
"I'm a Munchkin as well, you know." Galinda flapped a hand at her roomie.
"But you're not a boy, and you're not lovestruck. That makes you alright." Elphaba smiled her crooked smile, the one that gave Galinda no insight to what she was feeling.
"Ha. So the great Galinda of the Uplands and Arduennas is racist and sexist. The tabloids should hear about this." Looking closer into her eyes, Galinda could detect a hint of humor. Feigning an appalled look, she began to chase Elphaba down the hall.
"Take that back, Miss Thropp Third Descending! Perhaps the tabloids ought to know what a horrible mean green girl you are, leading a poor Gillikin girl to a meeting with a strange lovestruck boy in a garden!" Elphaba laughed, her laugh slightly softer than her cackle.
"Then perhaps I should tell them how un-mean I am." They had reached their doorway. Elphaba had begun to unlock the door, when Galinda wrapped her arms around her waist from behind.
"Who would they believe- me, or you?" Elphaba suddenly went rigid- from Galinda's touch or the statement, neither of them knew, fumbling and almost dropping her key. She managed to open the door, pushing through into their bedroom. Disentangling herself from Galinda, she marched over to the wardrobe to pull out a nightgown. Dressing quickly and efficiently, she turned to face Galinda.
"Well, I'm sorry for keeping you up late, Miss Galinda. Pleasant dreams." With that, she climbed into her own bed and rolled over to face the wall. Galinda stood in the middle of the room, clad still in her walking gown and gloves, wondering what had just happened. In a somewhat confused whisper she replied,
"Pleasant dreams to you too, Elphaba."
The morning after the "garden incident,"as Glinda recalled it, was calm, and neither she nor Elphaba had said anything about it. That was the very first occurrence that Glinda could recall Elphaba actually considering her welfare. Overall, it had been an alien idea in the past, but not so much now. They were different people back then, different yet innocent.
Glinda was taken out of her reminiscing mood as she stepped into a somewhat large puddle beside the walking path. Having been absorbed in her thoughts, Glinda hadn't thought to look where she was going. Making a face at her own folly, the blonde woman returned her attention to the path before her. As she studied the cobblestone path before her, trying to clear her mind and open herself to her surroundings, she suddenly felt as if she were being watched.
Straightening up and turning around in a circle quickly to scan her surroundings, she drew her wand. However, the area was clear of anything other than Glinda. She returned her wand to its holder at her side, then continued walking with a sigh. You're getting old, Glinda, she thought to herself. As she stared at the cobblestones before her, she saw a glimpse of shadow flit across the path just inside her peripheral vision. She looked up, only to see the wind blowing around the rattling dead leaves from an ash tree. A single leaf chattered across the pathway. Glinda shook her head at her jumpiness and continued the rest of the walk without incident. Entering into the house via the kitchen's garden gate, she stepped into the warmth of the kitchen. She hung her shawl on a rack near the kitchen doorway and took a seat at the long wooden table that was situated in the kitchen.
The table was used primarily for cutting vegetables and fruits- the meats were cut on a large slab of polished granite, for sanitation's sake- and as the place where the house servants dined. Glinda had put up standing orders for the servants to enjoy their breakfast whenever they wished, so that the kitchens weren't as busy in the mornings. A large platter of fruits and a few rolls of gently steaming bread sat on the long table. Glinda snagged a wooden plate from a stack of clean ones and sat down to eat a roll with butter, as well as an egg, two slices of ham, and a helping of fried potatoes. A young servant girl brought over a pitcher of milk, with water beading at its sides from the coolness of the liquid within. Glinda gratefully accepted a cup from a passing servant and dug into her food with gusto.
Servants were dining at the table as well, eating the same food Glinda had been served. Most of the household staff liked Glinda better than her uptight husband, Lord Chuffery. She relaxed many of the house rules when her husband was gone. A young stable hand came in, washing his hands quickly at a sink. He bowed to Glinda, then took a seat at the table to start in on a platter of fried potatoes and sausages. Glinda turned to the young man. His boyish features revealed that he was about fourteen or fifteen years old.
"Yoran, how were Evaniel and Ricarm? Yesterday's ride was longer than usual, and I hope that they weren't strained." Evaniel and Ricarm were Glinda's carriage horses, and though they were old, Glinda loved the matched white stallions. Yoran, the stable hand, shook his head vehemently, swallowing his food.
"Oh no, Lady Glinda. They settled down nicely last night after a good rubdown and some warm oats. The rain was very loud, wasn't it?" Most aristocrats wouldn't allow a stable hand to address them in such a fashion, but once again, Glinda was very different.
"Very. Did you get enough sleep, Yoran? I know I had difficulty doing so. And I heard lighting and thunder all night." He nodded, pleased that Glinda was concerned with his welfare.
"Oh, I did get a good rest. I say, Lady Glinda, if I may ask…" he trailed off, stirring his fried potatoes around with his fork.
"Go on, ask. I won't mind." He looked up at her inquisitively.
"Who was the girl with you yesterday?" Glinda sipped at her milk.
"She's my ward, if you will. Her name is Elphaba. If she wakens, maybe she'll be down for breakfast soon. But she did have a very busy day yesterday. The night was stormy as well. If I were her, I'd be sleeping in too." Yoran nodded.
"She looked a bit nervous, or maybe frightened." Glinda nodded.
"She was, a bit. She is new here, after all. Don't you remember what it was like when you first came here, just a year ago? You came to apprentice with your uncle." Yoran smiled, revealing surprisingly straight white teeth.
"Yes, I did. It was pretty scary to me. Do you remember, in my first week, the mare Tyara birthed? It was certainly very hectic in the stables." Glinda smiled with fond remembrance, and she and Yoran began to reminisce about their horse stories.