Disclaimer: Still don't own Wicked, no matter how hard I wish.
Author's note: An attempt at something a little more light hearted than last time, we'll see how this one goes. It's mainly bookverse but I have borrowed from the musical a little too. What can I say? I saw it for the third time recently and it insisted on coming home with me.
There were few places upon her person where she had been touched during her 19 years of living. Quite unaccustomed to green skin playmates recoiled during games of Tag You're It during childhood, which at least invariably led to her never actually being 'it', whatever 'it' was that particular day. And parents, her own included, were weary of a child who had deep dark eyes and skin as luminous a green as the firs that adorned the big houses during Lurlinemas each year. Avoidance of touch was practised on a daily basis, a scraped knee repaired by the fleetest of rubs, a cry in the night visited with a stiff pat on the head, the terror of bathing her naked skin swiftly solved by nature afflicting her not only with her distinctive verdigris but an acute aversion to water. The oils that were anointed to get past this further problem she could deftly handle herself by age 3, so the touches that had been transitory to begin with became even rarer as the years grew old.
Because she hadn't known otherwise she didn't really miss the feel of warm skin connecting with her own. A handshake or a hug they were both the same to her: elusive, ponderous, a waste of kinetic energy, and quite wholly against her solitary nature to indulge in. So it was much to her chagrin that she found herself longing for the gentle touches so easily bestowed on others, by the volcano of blonde curls that had erupted in her life a few months ago. Having never before so much as pined for a reassuring squeeze of her shoulder by those closest to her (such a list wasn't long, Nanny headed it with her father and siblings somewhere near the bottom) it was beyond all comprehension, and not in the least terribly vexing, to now want to feel the hands of Galinda Arduennas of the Uplands upon her person.
This wasn't to say that there hadn't been a minimum of contact between the green skinned girl and her paler roommate up till now. Of course inhabiting such a small space (admittedly by Shiz standards small was a bit of an exaggeration, the room had two fitted wardrobes, two not inconsiderable sized beds, a vanity for each girl, an ensuite bathroom and a window seat replete with velvet cushions and rooming capacity for two) an involuntary brushing of body parts was inevitability going to happen. However it wasn't the involuntary or the brushing aspect of their contact that was causing Elphaba such incommodious thoughts towards the blonde girl. It was the yearning she felt each time such elliptical contact was made. A yearning for it to be extended. To last longer than a fleeting arm resting against her own when sitting together at mealtimes. To be more concrete than a brush of a curvy figure against her gangly frame when they passed in a narrow hallway. To mean more than the arbitrary touch shared between two almost friends, where a glance of hands as they reach for the same sorcery book only results in shy giggles and polite inferences of ownership.
All of which, the giggles, the shyness, the very fact she was capable of being polite, a skill which hadn't availed itself to her up to this point in time, caused the green skinned girl further vexation than she already felt at the hands, or rather not at the hands, of her popular roommate. After all, if she could count on one hand how many times she had received a tender touch in her life it didn't take many more digits to accrue the amount of times she'd blushed. Or giggled (giggled?!) for no real reason. Or been so conciliatory and, well, outright nice to give the blonde free reign of the only copy of A Sorceress' Guide to Change: How Magic Can Save the Morally Corrupt. Even though the green skinned girl had desperately needed it for her term paper, and suspected that Galinda had only wanted to borrow it in order for the uneven legs of her vanity to be brought in alignment, so her reflection didn't list to the left any longer.
There was just no use. No matter how hard she tried Elphaba simply could not unravel the reasoning behind the sensations she found herself experiencing every time Galinda was near. Her acute scientifically inclined mind appeared to have no recourse in which to file such sensations, nor hypothesis towards removing herself from them. They just kept on coming. As relentless as the rains that had begun to fall, marking the changing season and necessitating sturdier footwear and more care to be taken in the grounds of Shiz University by the green skinned one. But to at least the rain she could protect herself in advance and be ready for when it came by surprise, as rain in Oz often can. To her roommate there were no such layers of defence Elphaba could employ in order for further confusion and turmoil to be surmounted.
The way Galinda had begun to make her feel always surprised her, just as everything the effervescent blonde girl did came as a surprise to her polar opposite roommate. And lately Elphaba Thropp came to the conclusion that she didn't like surprises, especially blonde ones.
Something needed to be done.
Just as a fire starved of fuel will eventually die out the green girl took a chance that rudimentary physics could be applied to her own situation. If she didn't feed the thing inside her, then surely it would wither and die, she'd be left in peace.
"I assume from your lackadaisical position you are intent on occupying these quarters all evening Miss Galinda?"
It's back to Miss is it? Wonder what's twisted her knickers lately the blonde heiress thought turning slightly away from the window she was sat by to catch a quick glimpse of the green girl's face, before it was swiftly facing the other way. Galinda had noticed lately, even if it was beyond most people's comprehension that she could possibly do such a thing, that Elphaba rarely met her gaze anymore, could no longer address her for more than the briefest of times eye to eye before turning away, like she did just then. To say it vexed the blonde was no more than the truth. To say she paid it more thought than which fashionable garment from her gargantuan supply she would wear next, would have been stretching that same truth somewhat.
"If by lackadaisical you are referring to my relaxed repose in some derogatory manner, I would kindly ask you to take into consideration that I had Madame Morrible for a double Magicks 101 seminar last thing this afternoon, and she was quite the tyrant in her proclamations."
Galinda wished that when talking with her roommate it didn't always require quite so many words or syllables to express herself, she'd had quite an exhausting afternoon as it was. Still it was no good to show the green girl a weakness to be exploited by her quicker and far more extended vocabulary.
"So as you can imagine, I feel a few moments of quiet reflection and contemplation after such an afternoon is the least I deserve."
Elphaba resisted the urge to look up as Galinda spoke, it was much easier to remain angry if it was just that annoying slightly too high a pitch voice she had to deal with, and not the entire girl whom she had begun to think of as, well in the very least, as a friend. The green girl didn't have many of those. And yet if she was to remain resolute on her path to putting out the fire of whatever it was within her that made her want to reach out and touch the girl before her, she knew she had to keep her eyes averted, and her will strong. How few friends she had didn't even come in to it.
"Furthermore," a little known skill all the Uplands' possessed, once they were on a roll there was no stopping them. "In regards to your actual question in discerning my whereabouts for the evening, no doubt you asked this simply from a selfish perspective as I imagine you were hoping to have our room all to yourself, in order for you to bury your head in that pile of books I see you dragged back from the library."
This time Elphaba did look up as Galinda gestured with a pale, but perfectly manicured hand over to the very pile of books the green girl had been meticulously arranging in the interim period of entering their room and finding Galinda without a care in the world gazing out of the window, to asking the question in her usual accusatory manner that Galinda now felt compelled to throw back at the green girl's sharp face.
"Well I hate to disappoint you Miss Elphaba," emphasis on the B Galinda thought as the name fell from her lips with a little more vehemence she'd ever uttered before. "I have no more a desire to set foot out in that torrential squall as you do, and taking into consideration that any other location for my habitation this evening," Galinda could feel herself waning, that sentence had far too many ations in it, "would require me to cross at least twice, what did pass as a perfectly walkable courtyard this afternoon but now resembles a fast moving riverbed," she gestured again with that pale perfectly manicured hand of hers (why did the green girl find it so mesmerising all of a sudden when she did that?) out the window she looked upon, "I can say in all confidence that the answer to your enquiry is yes. I shall be occupying these quarters all evening."
Elphaba, not quite prepared to have caused the upset she did with what she thought of was a fair and just line of questioning (even though her intention had been to create a level of animosity between them she didn't think she'd achieve her goal quite so quickly) had only one response to Galinda's well formulated reply.
"Sheesh, I was only asking."
An expelled puff of frustrated air blew the blonde's curls away from her eyes as she turned back to the window in significant a huff at the green girl. Why were things so difficult with Elphaba lately? Galinda couldn't begin to fathom it out. And right now, she didn't have much inclination to. Crossing her arms and scowling for good measure, just in case green skin was thicker than it looked.
Two can play at this game Galinda thought, throwing another cross pout of pink lips the green girl's way, noticing with some surprise that caught off guard Elphaba wasn't wearing her usual smirk of superiority, instead was that regret flashing in hazel brown eyes?
The blonde's resolve began to weaken.
"Elphie?" she began, her voice returned to the soft yet perky pitch of usual.
The tall green girl quickly turned her back on her roommate, re-ordering once more the books she'd already rifled through twice, no wiser to which tomes she'd actually chosen that afternoon in the darkened library, so worried about the storm that was brewing outside and the storm already doing damage inside her. One tempest she'd managed to avoid so used was she to battling the elements of Oz, she found it increasingly difficult to avoid the other one when it was sat in her very room, peering at her with those big blue eyes. She willed herself not to respond to the gentle plea she could hear in Galinda's voice. Elphaba straightened her frame, sharp angles and gangly limbs creaking and cracking as she did so, steeling her mind to ignore the blonde woman behind her, or more specifically, to ignore the way Galinda made her feel.
"I really wish you wouldn't call me that," though less harsh than her earlier entreaty to her roommate she couldn't get her voice to fully soften with her words, Elphaba supposed that was a skill someone as prickly as she would need years to acquire.
"If you insist on dropping the honorific Miss Galinda then I must insist you address me by my given name. Although I don't personally hold much in the way of feelings for the people who gave it me, it is the name I was bestowed with at birth. I do hope you will remember that and address me accordingly."
Galinda struck dumb by her roommate's sudden dark demeanour towards her sat with her mouth agape, a frown taking over from the pout of before. Anger inside her, a not uncommon feeling admittedly but one she avoided because she'd heard it caused wrinkles, started a slow burn.
Although not one of Shiz's brightest thinkers (well not on the surface, but both she and her roommate knew Galinda had what it takes) the blonde had been secure in her assessment that since the whole hat-makeover thing, where they'd shared secrets and Galinda had finally gotten her hands on that austere braid that had been driving her mad with the wasted potential of the hair tightly woven in it, that the two of them had become, albeit tentatively, friends. They'd take their meals together in the food hall if timetables allowed, and during joint classes Galinda wouldn't always immediately sit with the disruptive and vacuous (in that order) presence of Shenshen and Pfannee but seek out the green girl in the black dress. Because, to her surprise and gentle astonishment, she found she paid more attention to things with her roommate around. If she concentrated on what the teacher was bleating at the front of the class it would mean that in the evening in their shared room, silence and awkwardness would not necessarily prevail for they'd have a common subject on which to touch upon. In the most oblique and abstract fashion to begin with, Galinda had discovered if she let the green girl drone on about politics or science for long enough and remain engaged and present in the conversation, then eventually the two of them would fall in to a more natural cadence of conversational topics, such as those normally shared between friends. And it was more than a pleasant surprise, in fact you could say she was quietly thrilled, to discover that she enjoyed getting to know the green girl.
It had dawned on her early on that in all likelihood there hadn't been many friends in the green girl's life before she came to Shiz, frankly there weren't many friends in the green girl's life since coming to Shiz Galinda conceded, which made the tentative steps of friendship the two of them were making now all the more precious. No matter how well the blonde heiress carried out the actions and vocalisations of a shallow empty-headed spoiled little rich girl, deep down underneath it all, well in reality I suppose you could say, that wasn't who she was at all. And the one person to spot such an important hidden truth was the green girl before her, hence the shared intimacy of friendship which Galinda offered. Hence the meals together, the loaning of books, the creation of a name only she could address the green one by. Hence Elphie.
Galinda sighed, a watery sound that was her signal tears would follow shortly if she didn't contain them the way she'd learnt to do growing up in the lonely halls of Upland Manor. No-one likes a cry-baby she remembered her mother saying.
"Well Miss Elpha..." she was no more than those few utterances into her response when a sob broke out from no-where, catching her unawares, giving her pause in the middle of what had become such an important name.
The green girl looked on, shock and concern warring in her deep brown eyes as she saw the permanently frivolous Galinda acting in a most un-frivolous manner.
"Miss Thropp," beginning again with more control of her emotions Galinda pressed on quickly, not daring to look at her roommate directly for fear the smirk and heart-chilling cackle were moments away from appearing. "You can rest assured that I will only address you in the future when directed to, and always in the proper manner. I wished no harm with my previous familiar invocations but as I see harm has been done, I apologise."
Galinda turned away from the tall gangly girl and looked back to the window, the evening outside undistinguished amongst the heavy rain and battering winds. In the time of their strained exchange it had grown dark in the room, the small lamp on her vanity the only illumination. It cast a pale glow behind her, shadows appeared on the walls, their long dark form echoing the foreboding which had suddenly engulfed her heart. Had she just lost the first person she really counted as a friend? Galinda sighed again, thinking that time was a strange master. For it only seemed that a moment ago everything between her and Elphie...her and Elphaba rather, had been fine. How swift feelings and situations can change, just like the rain clouds in Oz. Coming from no-where, obliterating the landscape. Making everything dull and grey. The heiress sighed once more, dull and grey was exactly how she felt inside.
Elphaba stood stock still, rigid as any time she thought she heard a sound when creeping out after curfew over the kitchen's garden wall. A nauseous feeling was swilling around inside her, which she wanted to think was from the stale saffron cream she'd had with her tea at lunch that day, but was smart enough to know that it was to do with the blonde girl sat by the window. Her intention hadn't been to hurt Galinda's feelings, just to calm the ones that were inside of her. What was she thinking saying all that in the manner she did? Why did she find human contact so difficult? Well there was a rhetorical question if ever there was one, because human contact wasn't the problem, it was Galinda contact that had her all in a twirl.
She looked to the blonde again, her back was turned to her, she'd been gazing out into the dark night for minutes now without moving. Stock still just like the green girl. If she wasn't seeing it with her own eyes Elphaba would have doubted the effervescent blonde could ever keep so still for so long. She could just make out the blonde's features, blurred a little though they were, in the reflection of the window glass. She frowned at what she saw, was that? No surely not. Their exchange was curt yes, but surely it hadn't, had it been that bad? Were those? It couldn't be. Elphaba blinked hard just once as if to clear a mist that had covered her eyes and when she opened them again she'd know she had been mistaken in what she'd seen. Only there had been no mistake, admittedly she hadn't been convinced of that fact at first, what with the heavy rain streaking the outside of the window in fat droplets, distorting Galinda's reflection somewhat. But closer inspection by the green girl did unfortunately confirm what she had feared at first. And that nauseous tumult of feelings that had sparked inside her moments ago was joined by a dead weight of regret that seemed to fall directly from her heart to the pit of her stomach.
All she'd wanted to do was relieve the confusing emotions she'd been having when thinking of her blonde roommate lately. All she craved was a little distance from her, a return to the normality of their daily lives as they had been before the Oz Dust. What she hadn't wanted, what she actually now discovered was the antithesis of all that she had wanted in relation to the blonde by the window, was for that very blonde to be sat crying.
Elphaba had caused that. Had caused sadness to dull the always cheerful persona which greeted her every day in the shape of the pretty blonde Gillikin girl. She hadn't meant for that to happen. And if she thought that her feelings and thoughts towards Galinda had been confusing and bewildering before she'd made her cry, it almost took her breath away to suddenly realise that the same thoughts and feelings ran much deeper, became much more confusing and a lot more bewildering as she looked upon the tears she had caused to fall.
What is happening to me? Elphaba thought. Wave upon wave of emotional flotsam crashed around inside her as she watched Galinda wipe at stained blue eyes, clearing them of their saltwater.
Water was supposed to put out flames not fuel them and yet here she was, just as on fire as all the other times when she considered how she felt in the presence of the blonde girl. Only it seemed the flames had been forced higher in her own misguided way of dealing with them. If there wasn't so much tension in the atmosphere of their room at that point Elphaba was sure she'd cackle at the irony of it all. As it was she looked on the crying girl and all she wanted to do was make things right.
Whatever right was between the two of them the green girl didn't know, she only knew that she wanted to get back to it as soon as possible.
Something needed to be done.
And this time around Elphaba decided that rudimentary physics, bio-mechanics or any of the sciences she knew so much about couldn't help her quell the flames within her. In fact the green girl didn't have the faintest idea what would help her in her current predicament, having never been in such a situation before nor versed in the necessary history to base a best line of approach on. So for once in her life she decided to trust her instincts, and take a leap of faith where Galinda Arduennas of the Uplands was concerned.
Elphaba only hoped that it was a faith, and a leap, well placed.
To be continued...
Author's end note: oh no, Galinda's crying again! I think I have a thing for weeping blondes. This was going to be a one-shot, and it actually started out with a different title too, which only reinforces my notion – I don't know what the hell I'm doing :D Ahh that's not quite true, I know exactly what's going to happen next. Send me some reviews over, and you could too.