This is a story that begins with an end and ends with a beginning.

I guess you could call it timeless. You've probably heard some version of it before. But it's different every time, isn't it? I mean, hate, anger, magic, love, teenage angst: ever just the same, ever a surprise. Some things don't change, but sometimes people do. Don't doubt it. It's happened before, and it will again, certain as sunrise in the East.

Endings: they are changes. Some are large, some are little- small, to say the least- but they are changes nonetheless. Sometimes we adapt, we accept. More often than not we fight for what used to be.

And beginnings: they are changes as well, for you cannot begin until something forces you to- well, to bend, unexpectedly. So we bend. We adapt, we accept. We learn.

They are much the same, endings and beginnings.

This is a story that begins with an end and ends with a beginning.

Because who says an end has to be the last thing?

And who ever decided that a beginning has to come first?

* * *

"Fiyero! Hey, Fiyero, let me see your sunglasses. Where'd you put them?"

"They're right… they aren't right here." Fiyero checked his pockets, his school bag. Then he looked up at his friends, his eyes narrowed in mock-anger. "All right, who took them?"

"None of us. Seriously!" Avaric protested. "You must have left them in class."

Fiyero tilted his head, thinking. He'd put them down on his desk. And… he snapped his fingers. "You're right. I'll catch up with you, all right?"

"Want us to wait?" Shanna suggested, but he shook his head.

"No, go on. I'll be right there." He winked at them and spun on his heel, starting back down the path. He'd just made it to the Ozma University arch when he smacked head-on into someone. Picking himself up, he flashed a quick grin their way. "Sorry," he said, turning again.

"I've had enough. You stop right there."

To his surprise, Fiyero found that he couldn't move. He struggled against invisible chains. "Let—me—go—umph." He was suddenly released, and with extreme effort was able to keep his balance and turn himself around.

"Honestly? Honestly?"

He spun again and yelped.

A girl about his age stood not three inches from him, so close he almost ran into her. He threw out his arms, flailing to keep upright. She tilted her head, and he was frozen again, this time tipping over like a pratfalling twit. Adjusting the red jacket of her Ozma University uniform, the girl walked around him in a slow circle. Fiyero watched her as much as he could, confused.

"You tripped over me." She watched his expression, and was obviously annoyed to see no change. "Again."

"Again?" Fiyero choked out, still puzzled. What in Oz could she be talking about?

"Again, yes. You have at least twice a week for the last month and a half. And when you don't knock me over, you usually walk into me anyway." She was back in front of him now, and she pinned him with a supercilious, disdainful glare. "I'll bet you don't even recognize me." Bringing her hand up in front of his face, she snapped her fingers, and he thumped to the ground. "Do you?"

Fiyero barely kept from gaping at her. "Look," he said slowly, "I think we got off on the wrong foot—"

"No excuses, my prince." The girl reached out and snapped again, this time next to his ear. Pain spiked behind his eyes, and he grimaced. The girl's hand trailed gently down his cheek. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said, sounding surprised. "Did I hurt you?"

"Just a bit," Fiyero said easily. Anything to get away from this girl. He grinned winningly at her, because it had gotten him out of situations before. He had a great smile. "I'm sure this is just a mix-up—"

The girl gripped his jacket collar and yanked up, sharply. Fiyero choked. "I said no excuses," she said angrily. The wind was picking up, and her blonde hair whipped wildly behind her. She twisted Fiyero's collar, pulling his face close to hers. "I will give you one last chance," she said evenly. "If you try to talk yourself out of this again, I may have to do something you really won't like. And I will know if you try." She smiled sweetly, and her eyes crackled with fury. "Are we clear?"

Fiyero nodded frantically. The girl released him, and he put a hand to his neck, coughing. Sweet Oz, this girl was crazy! A few bumps, and she expected him to remember her face, when he had much more important things to see to, like the state of his sunglasses or whether or not to ditch history or science the next day? She should've gotten out of his way, anyhow. Time to get this over with. "All right then. No, I can't say that I recognize you. But honestly." He scoffed. "Do you expect me to keep track of everyone I've ever seen?"

The girl stared at him for a long moment, then turned away, shaking her head in disgust. "Six weeks running into me, knocking me off the path and pushing me into trees nearly every day and you don't even remember my face. I have lived far, far longer than you know, Master Fiyero, and never have I met anybody so inconsiderate— don't even think about it."

Fiyero was frozen in the middle of his attempt to sneak away. The girl raised her eyebrows, turning her head to look at him.

"Really now. I knew you were self-absorbed, but I've never met anyone shallow enough not to recognize a witch when they're dealing with one."

Fiyero cringed. I knew something was weird here. "I'm sorry," he said quickly, smiling at her again. Bad idea, making a witch mad. "How about we fix this? What's your name?"

"Oh, you idiot! Really? You expect me just to forgive you, really?"

"Well… yeah." Fiyero nodded. "Yeah, I guess I do."

The girl's mouth hardened into a thin line. "You should have thought of that a long time ago. I've given you chance after chance, and look at you now! You still don't care! You just want to get away from the crazy girl. Right? I'm right. Don't bother answering." Her eyes narrowed, and her mouth curved into a wicked little smirk.

"Tell me, Master Fiyero. What's your worst nightmare?"

* * *

Disclaimer: characters and lyrics = not mine.

I have only one thing to say, and it is by way of apology. I know I haven't got the best grasp on Fiyero's voice, even after all the time it's taken me to get this up, even though I've re-written this entire chapter. I'm working on that.

Comments? Suggestions? Anyone have a guess as to what my challenge was? =)