Title: The Grand Vizier of Oz
Rating: PG-13 / T
Summary: "Please come back - you're my daughter, I'd do anything -!" She stopped, hand half-raised and ready to cast a spell. "Anything?" AU, Fiyero/Elphaba. Complete.
Disclaimer: Neither Wicked nor the world of Oz are mine in any way.
Author's Notes: This story began because I wondered what it would take for the characters of Wicked to actually achieve a real 'happily ever after' – what work they'd have to do, what troubles they'd have to deal with, and what things would never work out no matter what. I wanted it to be canonically plausible, not a total fantasy with no sadness or negative consequences. I think I've managed.
This is musical-verse, but I've included some things from the book, mostly names and places which can fill out the musical world. There are some things I've deliberately left out – my characterisations of the Wizard, Frexspar and Melena are based on the impressions I got the first time I saw the show, particularly Joel Grey's performance (his "always longed to be… a father!" broke my heart), and that of the Melena actress, who looked so sad when she reached out for her baby that Maguire's Melena never really worked for me.
Every chapter begins with a time stamp. Years are measured from when the Wizard took power, which is (conveniently) the year that Elphaba was born (Year 0). This would otherwise have been Year 1678 of the Ozma reign (or "Before Wizard" as opposed to "After Wizard") – this is completely arbitrary and has no basis in either canon.
(Originally the time stamps were absolutely necessary as I was planning to have each chapter jump around in time, telling the story in random snapshots. That didn't work out, so now there are only two non-linear scenes, but sometimes there are rather big jumps between chapters, so they just keep things clear. If nothing else, it makes Elphaba's age easy to remember.)
Many thanks to all my beta readers, particularly Anna Fay and Kaylle. They are amazing. Between them they've put up with me fretting over two totally different stories at once and indulged me in about a hundred hours of gmail chat to thrash out characterisations. There is no way to thank these ladies enough, so please applaud them, because otherwise we'd have trailed off somewhere around chapter six.
Revised and reposted April 2012.
The Grand Vizier of Oz
"Excuse me, coming through, coming through... Excuse– excuse me! That hurt! Watch where you're–"
The offending foot-stepper heard nothing of this complaint, worming his way through the crowd in the vain hope of getting just a little bit closer to the Grand Balcony. Nera Verstwit, reporter for The Glow, leaned on the shoulder of some random person as she tried to rub her bruised toes without dropping her precious camera.
It was a sunny day in the Emerald City, and that didn't much help her mood. The city was so bright and clean that it was almost painful in this light, and Nera had to squint if she looked at anything but the ever-moving sea of green fabric in front of her. Muttering rudely, cursing herself for losing her tinted glasses, she wriggled back into her shoe and took hold of a lamp post, trying to climb it.
Most of the city had turned out for this announcement and it was heavily rumoured that the Wizard himself would be making an appearance. Gossip from the palace staff – printed, of course, in every low-class tabloid Nera could get her hands on – claimed that Lady Glinda had been ecstatically happy these last few days (more so than usual, that is), that she had involved all of her few close friends in some sort of preparations and – most tellingly – that her favourite seamstress had ordered several bolts of white lace and silk. Needless to say, even Nera's own magazine had been printing every picture they had of Lady Glinda and that Winkie prince, and Nera herself was quietly sure she already knew everything that was going to be said, save for why the Great Oz would trouble himself with a public appearance – after all, there were more important things to think about than the engagement of his beautiful apprentice.
It was no secret that the Wizard looked on Lady Glinda like a daughter, and a marriage to Vinkun royalty would certainly have political ramifications, but really, why bother? The Great Oz was extremely busy, dealing with all these Animal issues, and though it wasn't widely spoken of, Nera thought it must be very tiring for him to change from his normal, imposing form into a human all the time.
Suddenly there was a soft cry from those lucky (and probably very pushy) people who had managed to get to the front, and applause broke out across the square as a figure appeared on the Grand Balcony. Slim, soft and lovely, it had to be Lady Glinda. She smiled, lifting a hand to wave and eliciting a thunderous applause. Even Nera smiled; no one could help but like Glinda.
Two other people were coming out with her. More subdued in their dress, neither sparkled as Glinda did, and it took a brief moment – filled with the sound of her snapping camera – for Nera to be sure she recognised them. One was Fiyero Tiggular, of course, as unfairly handsome as ever in his casual blue vest, and the other...
It was her.
The Green Lady, the Grand Vizier of Oz. Lady Elphaba.
Nera might have been less surprised if it was the Wizard. Except for her introductory presentation to Ozian society, Lady Elphaba never bothered with public appearances unless it was about one of her new laws concerning Animal Rights – which, Nera was sure, this was not. Her sources in the cabinet (four cleaning maids and a bribeable assistant) hadn't reported anything unusual, and even that one time when the Vizier had surprised everyone with her Equality Employment Act, there had still been whispers of late-night file checking and hushed conversations. This time, nothing.
Lady Elphaba – or the 'Green Lady', as she had been so appropriately nicknamed – was standing quietly beside the others, wearing one of her usual in dark green dresses, with a matching pointed hat that added height and prestige. She seemed less solemn than usual, Nera thought, but then again, who was she to say, hanging from a lamp post a good thirty feet away?
Lady Glinda kept waving and smiling, but seemed to be waiting for something. The prince kept glancing between the dark doorway and the Green Lady, and for a brief moment Nera swore he touched her hand – or said something, maybe. Whatever it was, Lady Elphaba suddenly smiled, and Nera was quick to capture the image – snap, snap, snap.
"Don't know what she thinks she's doing up there," muttered a nearby Ozian. "Too good to see us the rest of the time, isn't she?"
"Oh hush," said his wife. "I think she's shy. And anyway, what's wrong with not talking unless there's something important to say? Oz knows you do it often enough."
"She wants to seem mysterious," chimed in an older woman, a mint-frosted cupcake with the air of one who was generously willing to share her wisdom with the next generation. "It's a common trick with young leaders – those girls aren't a day over twenty-five. How else could she expect to command your respect?"
"Lady Glinda doesn't have that problem," argued the husband, briefly softening as he gazed at the sorceress.
"Lady Glinda isn't green," snapped the wife. "And anyway, it's all a lie. I've seen the tabloids – they're not nearly as grown-up as they'd like us to think."
Nera, still keeping her eye on the balcony, smirked. The Wizard's star pupils weren't grown-up at all – her peers had caught endless snaps of the pair laughing and chatting as they shopped or dined in town, usually with their escort prince. She'd taken such pictures herself, and was particularly proud of the time she'd caught a snap of Lady Elphaba with strawberry ice cream spilled into the lap of her skirt. That had made The Glow's front page, and proved to the world that the Green Lady was nowhere near as mature and sophisticated as she wanted people to think.
But she was intimidating. On the day of the ice cream incident, Nera had taken three snaps and run, secretly terrified that the powerful sorceress would turn her into a newt or something. Oh, everyone knew that she did good for the people of Oz, but no one could ever really get over that skin. Green, really – could fate have picked anything more ironic? And those eyes! Such intensity, such expression! Even through the time delays of developed photographs, Nera felt a chill whenever that stare fixed on her; it always made her feel like a scolded schoolgirl.
She wasn't the only one. Up on the balcony (where there was obviously some sort of delay), Lady Glinda was entertaining reporters by explaining her newest fashion statement – one-sleeve coats – and Prince Fiyero had been asked a few polite questions, but no one approached the dark, green lady.
Then, a cry – delight, awe, sheer shock. Heavily ornamented soldiers in stiff uniforms and tall hats marched through the doors, striding in perfect sync and pivoting neatly on their heels before striking their heavy staffs against the ground. A gong sounded. Lady Glinda stepped back, as did the Green Lady and the prince, making room for–
Nera squealed, snapping pictures as fast as she could with trembling fingers, trying to keep it above the flailing hands, gloved in green, that waved frantically at their leader. The Wizard! The Great Oz himself! Oh, Nera had never seen him – not personally, anyway. She'd spent a week refusing to speak to a co-worker who had been that lucky, and now her Ozian pride was bubbling through her veins like a drug. She was seeing the Wizard!
He had taken human form again – no one had ever managed to capture an image of his natural state, and it was rumoured to be magically impossible – and was thoughtful enough to appear as a kind, elderly gentleman, the sort that reminded Nera of her story-telling grandfather. He smiled and waved, and Nera had to hold on for dear life as the crowd surged, screaming joy and praise.
It seemed to go on forever – the sheer energy of the people was enormous. A small, sarcastic part of Nera's mind wondered if the Wizard avoided public appearances just to escape the noise-induced headache. Then she scolded herself – how could the Great Oz get headaches?
Suddenly, a funny thing happened, so fast that Nera almost missed it, and certainly didn't have time to ready her camera: Lady Elphaba coughed. Not a natural, sorry-I'm-a-little-ill cough, but the sort of irritated cough one makes when annoyed or impatient, and the Wizard, standing beside her, was briefly startled (was that possible?). He glanced at her – she was frowning – and lowered his waving hand, gesturing for Lady Glinda to take the podium.
It was possibly the first time in history that anyone had been disappointed to hear Glinda speak.
"Fellow Ozians," she said brightly, "I am delighted to be the bearer of happy news – yes!" she said, lifting a finger as excited chatter filled the square. "Possibly the happiest news that anyone can deliver, news to which our beloved leader–"
Here she had to stop as cheers erupted again, and nearly thirty seconds passed before her gestures for silence were heeded.
"–our beloved leader has given his personal consent and blessing. Friends!" she declared, raising her arms in an open gesture of welcome. "One month from today we will join together to celebrate a day of happiness. One month from today, we will celebrate..."
Nera readied her camera. This was going to be good.