A/N - I haven't really written anything like this before so it's more of an experiment than anything else. All reviews are much appreciated as I like to know what people think.
Disclaimer - Not mine.
Another drink, Glinda tells herself, and everything will be alright.
She sits in the corner at the Peach and Kidneys, surrounded by a group of her closest friends. It is not an unusual sight; in fact, to an outsider it looks like any other, average evening. But, to Glinda there is nothing average, or ordinary, or normal about it, and no matter how much she might want to, she cannot forget that.
Tonight is different.
Tonight people speak in hushed whispers, unsure of what to say or how to act. There are no jokes being told, or drinking games being played, or awkward questions being posed by Avaric who, as always, has had one too many.
Tonight people drink to dull the pain, or to help them forget, or simply because they feel it's what they are supposed to do. An air of awkwardness has fallen over the table of friends, and tears replace laughter as death has replaced life.
Dr. Dillamond is gone, and now Ama Clutch too. They are dead (murdered, say's Elphaba) and their deaths are surrounded by conspiracies and theories, rumours and hearsay; pieces of a puzzle that, try as she might, Glinda cannot seem to solve.
And in the wake of it all there is sadness and sorrow, and for Glinda, an overwhelming sense of guilt. Her mind taunts her with accusing questions, and she is forced to give in to them because, in her current state of mind, it seems there is nothing else she can do.
Why did she tell that horrid lie about Ama Clutch when she first arrived at Shiz? Why did she have to be so proud and vain and careless? Why couldn't she have just been the person she is now? Why couldn't she have just been Glinda?
She asks herself this last question time after time, but when she looks over at Elphaba, who is sat beside her with a sombre look on her face; Elphaba, who glances up at her and offers a gentle smile; Elphaba, who casts her own grief aside and, placing her hand over Glinda's, tells her softly, 'it'll be okay,' Glinda realises she already knows the answer. It is only because of Elphaba that Glinda even exists (before that there was only Galinda, a girl she outgrew as one might a pair of shoes). It is only because of Elphaba that she has changed at all, and Glinda finds this particular revelation as terrifying as it is comforting.
She owes so much to Elphie, and she cannot bear to think about whom – or where – she would be without her; what she would do without her. The very notion makes her shiver with fear, and in an attempt to put it to the back of her mind, she reaches for her glass, and takes a sip of newly opened champagne.
Just another drink, she tells herself, and everything will be alright.
There is only so much silence that alcohol will allow before it takes control, and makes things better...or worse. Gradually, conversations grow louder, and the air rings with the sound of laughter and familiar songs; the chinking of glasses as toast after toast is made in honour of the departed. But many of Glinda's friends only knew Ama Clutch for a short time, and although they were fond of her, they find it is Glinda they feel sorry for. It is her loss they think of now, and not their own.
As people cease their mourning, and start, instead to celebrate life, Glinda feels a pang of loneliness hit her like a blow to the stomach, stealing her air. Her knuckles turn white as she grips her seat tightly in a vain attempt to shake off the cold, empty feeling that surrounds her. She takes a deep breath, and focuses on the strangely irregular rise and fall of her chest. Then she hears a familiar voice ask if she's alright, and she turns to see Elphie, and her breath catches in the back of her throat for a completely different reason.
Her mind flicks back to earlier events, before they came to the pub, and Glinda finds she is more confused than ever.
For the life of her, she cannot remember what happened in Morrible's office. Nor can she remember what she was going to ask the others, afterwards, when the words became jumbled in her mind, and everything swirled about her until she couldn't even stand up, let alone think straight.
But she remembers the feelings that overtook her; the way her head spun, and her body, light as a feather though racked with desire, started falling towards the floor. And she remembers being caught by the only person she will ever want to catch her (someone who has caused her to fall in another way entirely). And she remembers a new rush of desire as Elphie held her in those surprisingly, strong arms. Their eyes fixed on each other, their lips so close they were almost touching. How Glinda had wanted to bridge that gap between them; how she wishes, now that she had!
Nessa must have fainted too, because by some small mercy Nanny was too busy fussing over her to notice Glinda's sudden outburst, and for that she is grateful. Glinda has fought to keep her feelings hidden for too long for them to unexpectedly out themselves in broad daylight to the woman who sleeps next door (Ama Clutch's replacement, she thinks to herself, but she refuses to dwell on that; she knows it will only make things harder than they already are). Glinda doesn't know why Elphaba didn't faint – perhaps she is less susceptible to such things? – But she cannot help but wonder if her roommate felt what she did; is it wrong, she wonders, to hope so?
'What are you thinking about?' Glinda hears Elphie ask then, and because the alcohol has made her dangerously brave, she replies, 'you,' and Elphaba smiles.
Glinda cannot help but notice the way Elphie's eyes linger on her own for a moment longer than usual; dark and enchanting, and strangely seductive, and she feels the hope she so desperately clings to swelling inside of her; a burst of warmth amidst the harsh cold the recent weeks have brought with them.
It is only when Elphaba starts speaking with Boq that Glinda realises she is still staring, still lost in her own thoughts; lost to her own desires. She forces herself to look away, and with a hard swallow and a shaky hand, she picks up her glass.
One more drink, she tells herself hopefully, and everything will be alright.
There is music now, and there is noise, and there is life. And when Avaric pays for saffron cream inhibitions are left behind, forced to wait somewhere between that third glass of champagne and the cocktail Boq insisted on ordering from the bar.
Elphie's finger brushes lightly against Glinda's bottom lip as she coats it with cream, 'nice?' she asks softly, and Glinda, eyes wide and heart pounding, can only nod in response.
The night seems surreal, and this moment is the strangest of them all. Glinda is so close to finally getting what she wants that it feels like a dream, but it is one surrounded by the nightmare of death and magic and lies, and Glinda fears that to wake up from one will be to lose the other completely.
She is contemplating this, despite herself, when she hears the barman's raised voice, and she realises they are being told to leave.
People are standing and putting on their jackets now, and saying too loudly that they were 'only having a bit of fun!' And Glinda can taste the cream and the wine and the salt of her tears, and part of her wants to go home, whilst the other part never wants the night to end; never wants to face the void left by Ama Clutch's strange demise; the void that is currently masked by alcohol and desire; the void this night is filling, if only temporarily.
Just as Glinda is wondering what will happen next, Avaric pipes up, 'I've got an idea,' he says. 'Who's man enough for the Philosophy Club tonight?'
For a second, Glinda thinks she will have to refuse his invitation, and then she realises there is no-one to stop her accepting, and suddenly it seems like the best idea Avaric has ever had. The Philosophy Club is dark and unknown, as shrouded in mystery as everything else in Glinda's life seems to be. But it is a mystery that she can delve into and uncover, if she so chooses; and she wants to! At this moment she wants to more than anything (almost anything).
This impulsive, new longing only prevails until Elphaba tells her no.
Glinda doesn't put up much of a fight (after all, what would be the point of going to a place like The Philosophy Club without Elphie?) but she resists just long enough for Elphaba to inform her of her plans (their plans, it seems). She doesn't have to go to the Emerald City, but she knows from the start that she will. She will do anything that Elphaba asks of her (and there are so many things Glinda wishes she would ask! It is surely only a matter of time before one of them gives in).
It is bitterly cold outside, and the journey ahead promises to be as long and dangerous as the roads that stretch before them, but Glinda feels safer than she has in a long time (or maybe she just feels braver now that Elphie has chosen her?).
The comfort of the pub and its alcohol seem strangely far away, but Glinda doesn't need them anymore. She doesn't need extra courage or confidence from a bottle, or even the convenient loss of memory she was sure to have feigned tomorrow had she actually gone with the others. She is with Elphaba now, and she wants to see everything clearly; wants to remember every moment and saviour it as though it is the last (it is almost as if she knows; a fact she will one day find ironic, but then she always did overlook her bizarre talent for premonition).
For now, Elphaba is there to hold, and reassure her; there to be her new world now that her old one has fallen apart. And, as Elphie takes her hand, and holds it firmly in her own, Glinda knows that everything will be alright.
It has to be, really; her heart is depending on it.