A/N: Another Glessa fic :). This is the first femslash I've ever written, but I must say, I'm a bit proud. Reviews will be accepted with great appreciation. (The rating's T for a reason!)
Trusting in Faith
Nessa was so lonely after Elphaba left. She kept mostly to herself, befouling her sister to whoever would listen (there weren't many who would), lashing out at Nanny, and keeping a regal, sad, poignant pose etched in her armless stance.
It was tragic.
Perhaps that was why I befriended her. Perhaps she reminded me of myself- broken and determined not to let it show. Or perhaps it was simply due to the fact that she was the only part of Elphaba that I had left.
Whatever the case, I did befriend her- rather, she took pity on my numerous attempts to initiate conversation and finally decided I would be a welcome change in company. We became startlingly fast friends. I gave her company- real company that valued her for who she was, instead of worshipping her for being the Eminent Thropp's granddaughter or teasing her for being born deformed. She, in turn, came to know the real me, the insecure young woman who had lost a friend, her plans, her hopes, and her future in the same day.
It seemed destined that our fates would lie intertwined from that point on.
Still, we had our differences, and we fought often, as only good friends or lovers can do. Most were, unsurprisingly, about Elphaba.
One happened when I made the mistake of calling her "Nessie."
"Don't call me that," she had snapped, fixing her eyes on me.
I shifted uncomfortably. "My apologies, Nessarose. It was just a force of habit-"
"How could it be habit? You've never called me that before. The only person who calls me that is Elphaba." She spat out her sister's name as though it were defamation.
A sigh escaped my lips before I could help it. How many times would we have to go over this? "Nessa, she did nothing wrong. I still don't see why you've been so angry at her."
Nessarose's eyes snapped back up to meet mine, burning into my soul, piercing, twisting, and hacking away at all my exposed sins. "She left me. She left you- oughtn't you to be mad?"
"She did what she thought was best for her," I whispered, the subject still sore. "I wouldn't begrudge her for that."
"Well," she replied, her tone nonchalant but her eyes still full of raw emotion, "perhaps for that, you are far more forgiving than I." She laughed, then- a bitter laugh with more self-loathing in it than humour.
Sadness shot through my heart as I looked at her. "Nessa… she wouldn't be mad at you."
I was far from surprised when Nessa's laugh sounded as though she were close to tears. "Maybe not, but that's Elphaba. I would be mad at me. It's one of my sins, I suppose… I don't forgive easily."
"It's not a sin to miss her."
"I suppose not."
And that was that. Needless to say, I refrained from calling her "Nessie" after that. However, it did not stop her from bringing up Elphaba.
"Why did you make friends with me?" she asked me one night, looking up from the book on her lap- I suppose she had become tired of asking me to turn the pages. Since I had started spending more and more time with Nessarose, Nanny had started taking more and more time to herself- after all, the woman was getting old and time off was a blessing.
I put my notebook down, looking at her in genuine confusion. "Do I need a reason?"
She had the decency to look ashamed, at least. She ducked her head, a faint blush colouring her cheeks. "It's just… you only took an interest in me after Elphaba left. Sometimes I feel as though that's the only reason you became my friend- because you pitied me."
"Nessa," I said, moving off my chair. I was in front of her before I even had time to realise it. "That's not true. I'll admit, it probably would not have happened so quickly if not for the fact that we both were lonely, but what does that matter?"
"It does," she whispered. "Everyone's always telling me-"
"Don't," I said, the one syllable coming out sharper than I had intended it to. She looked up at me, startled. "Don't let anyone else define who you are."
She had turned away again- I don't understand why it was so infuriating, but I had to get my point across. I placed both hands on opposite sides of her face and gently moved it, making her look me in the eye. "Nobody, understand?"
She nodded, her head barely moving between my hands.
"Not silly schoolgirls," I started, placing a kiss on her left cheek. "Not your father." A kiss on the chin. "Not Elphaba." A kiss on the right cheek. "Not me," I said, starting to realise my voice was becoming softer and softer as I continued. I placed a kiss on her forehead. "Not even the Unnamed God." Her expression was unreadable, so to soften the blow some, I gently kissed her on the nose- a sign of friendship.
Nessarose, for some reason- I'll never know what it was, decided that wasn't good enough. She moved her head up, capturing my wandering lips with hers, muffling the moan that suddenly escaped from my mouth. Lurl- Unnamed God it should be a sin to be that good of a kisser. My mind went blissfully blank as our lips continued their dances of exaltation, our hearts beating out a tattoo similar to that of a lyre or timbrel.
My hands, still pressed to her cheeks, slid downwards and back until they clung at the nape of her neck. Far too soon, our brief glimpse of heaven ended as we broke apart, breathing heavily. I pressed my forehead to hers, eyes closed- I didn't want to see her expression for fear of disappointment or a similar emotion.
I only felt safe to open my eyes when I heard her give a small sigh of contentment. Upon looking at her searchingly, she didn't say anything; she only gave me a quick smile.
I felt tempted to say something, but what? 'You're a good kisser?' 'What was that for?' 'What does this mean?' 'Thanks?'
I kept my mouth shut.
We grew closer and closer in the following months, far closer than I had ever gotten the chance to become with Elphaba. She was like my sister in some ways- I could confide in her with anything, and she would be there with support and love, steady as a rock. In other ways, though, she would be as far from a sister as one could get.
We still argued when we got on each other's nerves. She hated how I would seem carefree one day but emotionally heavy the next- I would retort that unlike some people, I didn't keep my emotions at the surface. I would rave about how annoying it was when she preached on and on about religion and could she not relate something to the Unnamed God just once? She'd get furious at me, and we wouldn't speak for days.
No one knew about us, but we would often get comments about having 'lovers' quarrels.' It wasn't that we were scared of what people would think- well, at least I wasn't, I'm not so sure about Nessarose- it was just delicate.
Elphaba became even more of a sore subject between the two of us, if that were even possible.
"I'm just a replacement for her, aren't I?" Nessarose asked me one night, only a few months before I graduated from Shiz. The two of us were lying on top of her bed, simply talking with one another.
I wasn't sure as to who she was talking about, at first. "A replacement for whom?" I questioned.
She looked away from me, her gaze fixing upon a scarf that laid on her dresser- a gift from Elphaba in years past. "Elphaba."
"What?" I answered with a slight laugh. "Rosie, that's ridiculous."
She shifted uncomfortably, and I could tell that this had been festering for quite some time.
I sighed and propped myself up on my elbows. "Nessa, I love Elphaba, but I love you, too. You can love two different people in two different ways."
Nessarose turned towards me and attempted to sit up, laughing cynically as she had to resort to my help to prop herself up. "Don't use that word so lightly."
"Yes," she said simply, staring at me as if expecting me to back down.
I wouldn't. "Why not? You don't believe that I love both you and Elphaba?"
She inhaled sharply. "You use the term so easily. Love isn't something you can just give away to anyone, Glinda."
"I know," I whispered, my heart clenching.
"I don't think you do."
"Oh, but you do?" I asked, becoming a bit irritated. Who was she to tell me who or how to love? Oz, most people would die to have someone who loved them. I told her I loved her and she was lecturing me.
Nessarose blinked rapidly as though she were trying to hold back tears. "I do."
"Rosie, have you ever been in love?" I said, my tone much softer now. I couldn't be mad at her- this was what she did.
"Then why are you so quick to believe that I'm not in love with you?"
Her remaining resolve crumbled as a few tears slipped down her cheeks. "Love is delicate," she explained. "It's more valuable than a few stolen kisses or daydreams of a future together. Love is trusting someone completely, being so open with them that there's nothing between you and them whatsoever. It's like touching souls." Her voice was filled with such pure longing, sadness, and reverence that it broke my heart.
I got up from the bed without a word and walked over to her side- her side. That still amazes me- that we fell into a routine so natural as to have sides of a bed to talk on. Once I was facing her, she started to apologise. I placed my finger over her lips before she had even uttered the first syllable.
My hands moved to my neck and unfastened the first few buttons of my blouse.
"What are you doing?" Nessa asked me, her voice laced with confusion and a bit of hesitancy.
I finished with my shirt and slid it off my arms, letting it fall to the floor. "I trust you."
I could tell she was nervous and scared, but I could also tell she wasn't about to tell me to stop. "Glinda?" she whispered.
I slid my skirt off next. "Trust me," I said simply.
Her eyes caught mine, and I felt as though I were a sinner looking into Lurline's face for the first time- unworthy of such grace. "I trust you," she whispered.
My throat felt tight. "I love you," I said as I climbed back onto the bed, bringing the covers down with me.
"I love you, too," Nessarose replied after a moment's pause.
My soul was soaring high.
Despite the new level of intimacy in our relationship, Nessa was still hesitant about several things- or perhaps it was because of that. She confessed to me on the night before my graduation that she was frightened, that love between two women was viewed as a sin. She was scared that she wouldn't be allowed to go to heaven.
I was speechless- something I had found myself becoming more and more frequently in her company. Finally, after several moments of trying to think of something to say, I just said, "Remember what I said to you all that time ago, the night we first kissed?"
She blushed. "Yes."
"I told you not to let anyone define you."
"I remember," she mumbled.
I moved to her side and placed my hands on her face, similar to the way I did that night. "Promise me you'll try and listen to it?"
She nodded, a few tears caressing my hands. "I promise," she avowed. "As long as you promise me something."
"Anything," I said, and truly meant it.
She sighed and chewed on her bottom lip for a moment, as if she were nervous about something. "I know you were planning on coming back here next year every once in a while to visit, to keep in touch."
I nodded; where was she going with this?
I was hurt but tried my best not to show it. "Is there a reason why?" I asked, my voice cracking embarrassingly.
"We were being silly and selfish, Glin," she breathed. "After Shiz, we have to do what we must. You're set to become the Adept of the North, and I the East. We were foolish if we ever thought this could go further than graduation."
"I see," I murmured, standing back up and collecting my things that had accumulated in her quarters over the previous few months.
She struggled to get up, and the love-struck fool I was rushed to help her to her feet. "Don't be mad, please," she pleaded.
I swallowed. "I won't," I said. "And I promise."
"I'll miss you," she murmured.
"And I you."
Once she had safely reached the bed, I turned to leave. "If I don't see you tomorrow… I do love you, Rosie."
"I love you too," she whispered, her voice barely audible.
I left the room before she could see the tears forming in my eyes. She didn't attend the graduation the next day. I left Shiz, feeling rather put out, lonely, and pessimistic.
Adept of the North, indeed. Adept at what? The only thing I had been adept at in Shiz seemed to be making friends only to lose them.
I kept my promise, if only to say that I did. I moved back to Gillikin. I married a wealthy stockowner, a man nearly twice my age and whom I felt no love for. The only reprieve I got from the monotony, the only person who knew Glinda for who she really was was Crope. The poor thing came to me after he learned of Tibbett's deterioration, asking if there were any jobs nearby I could help him get, since I was such a powerful figure in the North.
I told him he was being silly; he would work for me.
The first trip he came with Chuffrey and me on was to the Emerald City. Chuffrey was off to various meetings and exchanges most days, giving me freedom to do whatever I pleased. Crope went with me to most places; however, if I would see a shop he would absolutely die before setting foot in, I would take pity on him and tell him to wander off for a while.
I saw Nessarose again.
I was with Crope when I ran into her, and dammit, I have never despised his company more than I did in that moment.
"Nessarose?" I pressed, praying to the Unnamed God (I stopped using 'Lurline' in trivial expressions as an homage, of sorts, to our relationship; it was a small price to pay) that it was her and also dreading it was her.
She whipped the top half of her body around fast enough to throw herself off balance; Nanny, only a few paces behind her, rushed up to catch her before she fell. "Glinda?" Nessarose asked breathlessly, paying little attention to anything else.
I swallowed hard, trying to remove the lump that had formed in my throat. "Hi."
We chattered about aimless things- politics, mostly. Occasionally, though, I would say something tactless or strange, and Crope would send me a knowing look that sent an uncomfortable shiver down my spine. Perhaps he knew more than he let on.
All too soon, Nanny ushered Nessarose out, the latter promising we'd talk again, hopefully soon.
We didn't. The next time I saw her would be years and years later, after she'd become the Eminence of the East. My first glance at her took me by surprise: how different she had become, in retrospect- and yet, how little she had changed.
She had taken to wearing black, high-necked, conservative dresses. She wore little makeup, jewelry, or any other adornments; the only decorations were the silver shoes rested on her feet.
She preached more than ever, and the way that she enforced her laws on her subjects made me a little queasy. Who was I trying to fool, though? I had always known she was like this, and yet I still allowed myself to fall for her.
The first chance we had to discuss anything without prying ears (Nanny) listening in, our discussion (or lack thereof) was filled with awkward pauses.
"So you're married now?" was the first thing that Nessarose said.
I laughed, finding some way to ease the tension. "Yes," I said, not bothering to elaborate.
"Do you love him?"
I thought about the answer for a long while, though I'd already had my answer from the moment she asked me. "No," I finally whispered.
She bowed her head. "I'm sorry."
The shoes caught my eye. "Rosie, do you remember that promise I made you?"
"Which one?" she asked, an ironic smile twisting her pretty face.
I laughed half-heartedly, though my brain was racing too fast for me to ponder too long on formalities. "The one I made in the Emerald City, about a spell."
Her expression became so stoic, so full of obvious hope that she was trying desperately to funnel away, that I became nervous for even bringing the subject up- what if I failed?
"Do it," she begged me, the wall she had created in front of her emotions crumbling.
I took a deep breath, trying to calm my own racing pulse. "I could mess it up, Nessie."
She didn't even notice what I had called her. "The Unnamed God will see me through."
With another deep, cleansing breath, I made sure she could stand steadily, placed my hands on her silver, sparkling slippers, and began chanting the spell I had memorised.
And Nessa, my sweet, brave, devoted Nessa, could then walk.
I stayed for a few days more, despite Nanny's blatant irritation at said factor (the spell I'd enchanted Nessarose's shoes with had, more or less, kicked the old woman out of her job). However, when it was finally time to go, I enveloped the now freestanding Nessarose in a hug. "Be strong," I whispered in her ear, lovingly pushing back the strands of hair falling across her face.
"I won't need to, now," she said with a radiant smile. "These shoes- your love- makes me strong enough. The Unnamed God gives me strength."
I left her then, hoping beyond hope that the gut instinct I felt was wrong, that I would see Nessa again.
I never would. The next time I arrived at Colwen Grounds was years and years later- at her funeral. I flew to Munchkinland as fast as my carriage would carry me once I heard the news. There were slogans, terrible slandering things, all along the beautiful walls of the Colwen Grounds. It was a shame, really.
I saw Elphaba again. How fitting, that Elphaba's disappearance brought Nessa and me together in the first place; now Nessarose's death would bring Elphaba and me to see one another again?
She wanted her shoes. Nessa's shoes. How in the world could I explain to her that I did not want her having those shoes? How selfish of me. So I relayed the story of the girl and the dog, enunciating the fact that Elphaba was not to harm the girl.
She huffed and disappeared into a swirl of black cloaks.
At Nessarose's service, I wept, if only for a few moments. Be happy, Nessa, I thought. You're getting what you wanted.
Oh, how the Unnamed God was lucky to have such a beautiful Rose.