Disclaimer: There's a reason it's called fan fiction, you know, and it's because I own neither Wicked nor Spring Awakening, as much as I wish it for either.

Notes: This is for my long-awaited (okay, now I'm flattering myself) Summer Exchange Fic! The assignment was to "write a one-shot in which Glinda somehow knew that Elphaba and Fiyero lived through out the events of the musical and were required to leave (without their knowledge)." And since my last song fic was so popular (feel free to go review that too- no, really), I've decided to do this using a song to connect parts of the story from a song from a relatively new musical we've probably all heard of- Spring Awakening! The song is "Those You've Known," where Fiyero plays the part of Moritz, Elphaba is Wendla, and Glinda is Melchior (only a girl Melchior).

Silence.

Her footsteps disturbed the otherwise natural calm, making quite a racket in comparison. The moonlight did nothing to still the eerie feeling that engulfed her as she passed through the empty fields, the long blue shadows falling. The miles traveled didn't deter her from reaching her goal, nor the tears in her dress, not the most ideal for traveling, but certainly less extravagant than her ordinary costume. Emerged in herself, she hardly noticed the passage of time. She hadn't noticed it for a long time anyway. Ordinary days blended into ordinary days- after all, they were only steps closer to the end of the road, where she could finally rest. But not necessarily in peace.

Her destination was in sight, but somehow, she missed the figure that stood before the grave until she was meters away. His hand reached out towards the grave, a lily within his fingertips. She froze, half in fear at being discovered, half in wonder that anyone would care to visit such a grave.

Sensing her presence, the figure turned, his expression shocked and angry. His eyes narrowed as he recognized her, and all of the normal angst drained out, leaving his eyes expressionless.

"Lady Glinda," Tin Man announced coolly. "What brings you here on this winter night?"

"The same thing you're doing, I imagine," she answered casually, gesturing towards his flower with hers. "Honoring the deceased in the customary manner- though, I do believe roses are generally more common. But then again, Nessa was no common girl."

He stiffened, if that was possible of a man in his costume. "I beg to differ," he stated coldly. "The Witch deserves no honor."

Glinda frowned, then sighed. In the years she had known the tin man, she had really not gotten to know him at all. He was always so closed, and the moment he started to show some sign of emotion, she would say something wrong, and he would retreat into the cold pretense that she refused to believe was his true nature. The brief displays of feeling were enough to convince her that times had forced him to be as harsh as his exterior suggested. She found herself wondering if he was not alike her, alike them all.

"Lying doesn't suit you well, Tin Man," Glinda stated plainly, refusing to allow him to take her as the fool everyone used to assume she was. "You'd need a heck of a cover story to get me to believe you're standing over Nessa's-" She emphasized the name. "-grave with a lily because you're trying to ward off her wickedness or something."

"Actually," Tin Man swallowed, losing posture by the moment, "that was what I was doing." His wavering tone suggested otherwise.

"Right," Glinda rolled her eyes. "So," she propped herself on top of another grave, "how did you know her?"

"I d-don't know what you're talking…" Tin Man began, silenced by her glare. "Um, we knew each other," he admitted quietly.

"I know. I figured that much, as indicated by my previous question." Perhaps a bit of Elphaba had stayed with her after all- the glares, the formal words all belonged to her friend, another piece of knowledge Elphaba had passed on. "Which you still haven't answered," Glinda reminded, prodding him on.

With a sigh, Tin Man repeated, "We knew each other." Peeking up at her, he continued, "Well. But," he gestured, glancing away and back at Nessa's grave "that was a long time ago. Before this all." Glancing down at himself, he repeated, "Before this."

Glinda frowned. "How did that happen, anyway? I know," she went on before he could interrupt. "The Witch put a spell on you. But I can't think of any grudge Elphaba could have had against you."

"The Wicked don't need grudges to justify their malevolent doings," the tin man stated. "Perhaps Miss Elphaba had her own reasons for doing this-" He gestured at himself helplessly, sorrow in his deep eyes. "-to me."

"Yes," Glinda agreed softly after a short pause. "I suppose she did." Her eyes narrowed, but this time, she didn't glare at the tin man, examining him in suspicion instead. "Wait, what did you just call her?"

Tin Man stared up at her guiltily. "Uh, the W-witch?" he stammered sheepishly, obviously lying once more.

"You called her Miss Elphaba!" Glinda declared, ignoring his previous statement. "And don't deny it, I'm not going deaf yet!"

"It was a mistake!" he blurted. "You called her El- that name- before, and I repeated it unwittingly and completely accidentally."

"You knew her name was Elphaba," Glinda mused, completely dismissing the man's desperate excuses.

"I assumed, based on your previous statement…"

"No, you knew Nessa, you had to know about Elphaba," Glinda deduced. "And there's not many who knew Nessa well enough to mourn for her. Certainly no one from her childhood, so that would mean…" She trailed off, studying Tin Man closely.

He squirmed under her piercing gaze. "What?"

"Who were you?" Glinda asked suddenly.

"You know me," he sniffed. "I'm Tin Man, remember? Dorothy's traveling buddy?" As always, he attempted to hide behind the world's name for him, always overlooked as people glowed about the farm girl.

"Before you were Tin Man. That wasn't always your name."

"Maybe it was," he tried. She didn't dignify this with a response, simply rolling her eyes. Sighing, he continued, turning away, as if ashamed, "I have no name."

"You had one once," she disagreed. "What was it?"

He shook his head, beginning to panic. "I don't know! Her sp-spell, it- it did this! I can't remember, it made me forget! I had long term memory loss before this, I was an amnesiac!" Deciding to stop before his excuses could get any extremely lamer, if that was even possible, he turned back towards her, fire in his eyes. "Lurline, why can't you understand, Elphaba was wicked! Maybe she wasn't at school, but she changed, and she changed everyone else too!"

Glinda opened her mouth to interrupt, unsure what she would even say, but she was saved from saying anything as Tin Man continued. "Don't argue, I've seen how you get when anyone mentions her name- depressed, withdrawn. You, you miss her! The person who turned your lover into a traitor, who ruined my only chance to love anyone, who terrorized all of Oz for a year, you miss her!"

Her temper flared up, and she found herself shouting, "Well, maybe I do miss her! She was my friend, and feelings as strong as ours don't just fade overnight! It takes time, and even then it still hurts. Everyday, you're left wondering how it could have been if things had turned out differently, if you had noticed earlier and tried to make a difference, but there's no way of changing things! You're stuck living through the same hell over and over and over again, every day and every night, and it's never going away because it's real!"

Angry tears slid down her cheeks, and she felt all of the anguish she had been holding in for some time now spill out with the droplets. Sniffing, Glinda continued in a strained tone, "You'll never know what it's like to wake up everyday, her voice in your ear, only to remember that she'll never wake up again. You didn't have to watch your lover drift farther and farther away, watch your best friend grow crueler by the day, knowing all along that you've been left behind forever. You didn't- look at me while I'm talking to you!"

But Tin Man had spun away, dashing away from the graveyard as fast as he could manage, sobs barely discernable above the winter wind. She stared after him for moments as the sounds of his abrupt flight vanished, and turned to…

Silence.

Glinda kicked the dirt, cursing him under his breath. Who cared about him anyway? It wasn't like he cared about anyone. Maybe the Wizard gave him a heart, but it hadn't done him any good- he was as callous as ever, as if any spark of emotion would remind him of unpleasant days of the past, days he could never relive. He forgot that he wasn't the only one.

Glinda took a step forward, closing in on Nessa's grave.

Silence.

Silence as she stared at the grave for a timeless period. Silence as she watched the moon progress across the sky, a clock of nature that lit up the lilies and wildflowers, simple buds poking out from the ground, that gathered at the bed of the graves. Silence as she remembered. Remembered everything.

No one laid a lily on their grave, but nature had its own way of remembering and rewarding those once known to the world, now lifeless corpses in some godforsaken cemetery. Not even a cemetery, his body had been lain to waste in some field, forgotten, and she hadn't even left a body behind to bury. They were both gone, as if they had never existed, and soon, even memory would wither and fade- but why should that matter, if all they were remembered for was a lie anyway? Why live a lie?

Why die a lie?

The twilight clock refracted through the moisture Glinda refused to call tears. As leader of Oz, she was supposed to be strong, something she had never been good at, though she supposed she had thought herself strong in her days at dear old Shiz. A different kind of strength though- she had had people lean on her in those days, but in truth, she had leaned on everyone else. She had had everyone else. And now she had…

No one.

No one entered this grave yard, and never in the dark. No one mourned the wicked; the wicked died alone, and they were forgotten.

But she remembered. She wasn't supposed to, as history was writ. But she had to- what else was there for her but memories?

Memories, such as it was, of the person in the grave below her, once a tragically beautiful young woman- but she would now be remembered as merely tragic. Glinda had never seen her as beautiful before, but now she actually took the time to think about it, Nessa had been quite pretty, at the very least.

All she had been back then, though, was a pitiful girl to shrug a gullible munchkin off on. Look what had become of that; now Nessa was dead, and Boq, too, presumably, having lived their final years in misery where there could have been happiness.

That had been her fault- not just Nessa's death, but her downfall as well. And Boq, wherever his body may lie, or if like Elphaba, he had no body at all, he was her fault too. If she had given him one chance or if she had even given him the courtesy of telling him she didn't love him before dumping him on Nessa, perhaps he would have understood and appreciated what he had. Unlike her.

Now she thought about it, she wished she hadn't thought at all. Inevitably, an image of Fiyero rose in her mind, a bodiless corpse, obviously fabricated but lifelike in its nightmarish sense. His eyes were holes, empty pools of endless darkness rather than the ice blue orbs that had done his talking for him, not that he didn't do enough of it already, and his lips curled in a wicked grin unlike any expression he had ever worn before, harsh cackles spilling out.

"Because I knew you, I have been changed…" The words she had last sung with Elphie were twisted in his mouth, and she covered her mouth to keep herself from gasping and disturbing the unnatural yet necessary silence.

A ghost haunted her relentlessly, a ghost of years past, a ghost of many faces. It followed her endlessly, never to leave her alone; and she didn't want it to.

She wasn't supposed to be here, but somehow, the urge to visit her old friend had gotten the best of her.

And even that was a lie. Nessa hadn't ever been her friend, and even now, she wasn't; had Nessa been alive right now, she wouldn't want to be, after all Glinda had done. Although she didn't mind visiting Nessa, caring for her overgrown grave since no one else would, Nessa wasn't the reason she had came.

She had come for someone else- for some people else. For all those whose lives she had ruined, for all those whose graves she couldn't visit. For…

"Those you've known…"

The voice that came from nowhere, the voice she knew well, the voice of a ghost echoed through the chilled air. Only, this time, it came from behind her, and she swore she felt his fingers curl around her shoulder. Instead of squeezing painfully, the hand was gentle, as his had been. Almost longingly, she reached to place her own hand on her shoulder, where his should have been, only to find…

Flesh.

Her eyes widened, staring ahead at the grave as if determined not to prove herself wrong.

Don't wish, don't start. Wishing only ruins the heart…

Hadn't she learned her lesson?

Slowly, almost against her will, her head turned, her eyes fixating on the face she was forbidden to forget yet was afraid she'd forgotten.

"Fiyero?" she whispered.

"And lost," his voice continued, floating on the breeze,"still walk behind you. All alone," his eyes blazed, piercing hers in complete understanding. Somehow, he knew, remembered. Remembered everything.

Fiyero removed his hand, taking a step forward. Glinda simply stared in shock, in disbelief, in fear.

"They linger 'til they find you."

He had found her, a different kind of ghost, for even in her wildest dreams, she couldn't bring herself to believe, to hope that this was truly Fiyero. Still, the ghost didn't appear to be out to taunt her, taking joy and laughing at her pain. Nor was he here for vengeance; his words were whispered with no threat, but with yearning and understanding.

It wasn't simply an image of him, possessed by some nightmarish demon of death. It was him, and without thought, she spoke as if he were still alive and could hear her, "I've been a fool."

"Without them," the ghost that was Fiyero went on, as if he hadn't heard her, a possible way of disagreeing, "the world goes dark around you."

His words struck a chord within her, and her eyes widened even more in realization. As he stared at her, and she at him, an eerie chill crept up her spine. Ghosts weren't real. They were pure imagination, the longing for an absent friend, or a self-inflicted punishment.

But he was real. He was alive.

"And nothing is the same," he stated, "until you know that they have found you."

Silence.

She broke it, as she had broken everything else in her life. "Well, you have the right idea," Glinda hissed fiercely, pulling out a knife from inside her bodice.

She stared at it. It was purely for defense, as she had learned was necessary for a person of her position. She hadn't even intended to remove it; she couldn't use it against this ghost. Gazing at it, she realized, she hadn't pulled it out to use against him.

Could she do it? Take the final step, the last on her road to eternal condemnation? Was this why she had stolen away in the twilight silence, taking several probably unnecessary steps to ensure her privacy? So that she could be alone?

She was always alone anyway. She had no one.

No one. No one to truly mourn; but no one mourns the wicked anyway.

Fiyero gazed at her, at the knife, and although she pretended to study the knife in contemplation, she instead looked beyond, trying to decode the message in his eyes. Was that his message, a signal that it was time?

And then, with a jolt, she realized that he wasn't staring at her but behind her, at another unknown figure.

Glinda didn't want to know. She pretended to concentrate on the knife, wondering if it would hurt. Wondering if it had hurt.

"Those you've pained…"

The voice was unmistakable, and despite herself, Glinda felt the moisture in her eyes break, tears streaming down her face. Frozen in place, she found the strength to utter a single, restrained word: "Elphie?"

"May carry that still with them," her voice continued, approaching. Glinda glanced helplessly up at Fiyero, who simply raised his eyebrow, a gesture so painfully familiar.

"But… but…" Glinda stammered, at a loss for words as Elphaba came into view. "You can't be here, you're dead… I killed you…"

"All the same," Elphaba whispered as if aware of her words yet beyond hearing at the same time, "they whisper, 'All forgiven.' "

Her eyes, dark as always, pierced Glinda's blue orbs with sincerity. With forgiveness, as they had at their last meeting…

But that was before. Before Glinda had watched her best friend die before her, offering no assistance, scorning each memory. This wasn't real.

"Still your heart says the shadows bring the starlight," Elphaba went on, gesturing towards the midnight sky. Although a dark fog had set in earlier, it seemed to lift in mere seconds, revealing a blanket of shining orbs, gazing down upon the world. "And everything you've ever been in still there in the dark night."

Even beyond the grave, Elphaba was giving her advice, as cryptic as it may be, and comfort, a feeling she had forgotten with her friends' deaths. She was everything she had been when she was alive; but she wasn't. Alive.

Watching her friends was just too much, and Glinda forced her gaze back down to the knife. Was this a sign? The ghosts were calling, calling for her…

"Though you know, you've left them far behind you," Fiyero's voice came from the background. "You walk on by yourself, and not with them…"

Should she?

"When the northern wind blows," Elphaba sung in counterpart, "the sorrows your heart holds…"

Would she?

"Still you know," Fiyero continued solemnly, "they will fill your heart and mind…"

Could she?

"There are those who still know," Elphaba informed her. "They're still home."

And there's no place like home.

"When they say," Fiyero placed his hand gently on her shoulder, "there's a way through this."

Another hand joined his on the opposite shoulder as Elphaba finished, "We're still home."

The knife clattered to the ground, her decision made. Slowly, she lifted her head, gazing forward, unseeing, and concentrating on the feel of her friends' hands on her shoulder.

She finally dared to take a glance at her friends, only to be met by matching smiles.

"Those you've known," the group stated simultaneously and seriously, "and lost still walk behind you."

They took several steps forwards in contemplation of the world around them.

"All alone," they continued, "their song still seems to find you."

Each met each other's gaze, recognizing the others in them. They were whole again; they were whole. "They call you, as if you knew their longing. They whistle through the lonely wind, the long blue shadows falling."

Glinda perched on Nessa's grave, looking down upon her friends, but only in the literal sense. Inside, they had reached the same level of friendship that was finally possible. Hardly believing the situation, she called, "All alone, yet still I hear their yearning. Through the dark, the moon alone dare burning."

And indeed, it glowed in the sky, shining upon the world and lighting up the buds that peeked through the tangle of weeds at the feet of the graves.

Gesturing towards the now-starry night, she continued, "The stars too, they tell of spring returning, and summer with another wind that no one yet has known."

Smiling, both Elphaba and Fiyero joined in the chorus, their mission accomplished. With a jolt, Glinda realized that this was real. Maybe they weren't truly there, but the forgiveness and comfort existed, and the spirits had traveled across the abyss to tell her what she had forbidden herself to believe for a year now. She was forgiven, and right now, that was the best feeling in the entire world.

"They call me through all things," Glinda proclaimed, curling her fingers at the stars. "Night's falling, but somehow I go on."

"Still you know," Fiyero called, "there's so much more to find. Another dream, another love you'll hold…" His eyes sparked, inviting the barest air of mystery. Somehow, she suspected her future was no mystery to him. How else had he known to come?

"The northern wind blows," Elphaba repeated, "the sorrows your heart's known." With a shout and a gesture, she declared with true faith, "I believe!"

"Still you know to trust your own true mind," Fiyero told her, a statement that his former self would scoff at, maybe even cross himself upon hearing it. He reached out to pat her on the back, to remind her, "On your way, you are not alone."

"There are those you still know," Elphaba put in, taking a step closer to her friend.

"You watch me," Glinda warned as her friend approached. "Just watch me. I'm calling…"

Elphaba reached out, and Glinda grasped her hand, pulling her into a long-awaited embrace. "From longing…" she sighed, at home in her friend's arms. Fiyero joined in the embrace, towering over both of them and making Glinda laugh in delight, recalling the olden days.

But there was a new set of days to look forward to now, a new future. A bright one.

Pulling away, Glinda grabbed both of her friends' hands and dragged them with her. "Now they'll walk on my arm through the distant night. And I won't let them stray from my heart," she added sternly, glancing at both of her friends, who nodded in acknowledgement.

"Though the wind, through the dark, through the winter light," Glinda swore, "I will read all their dreams to the stars."

Just because Elphaba hadn't succeeded didn't mean the movement ended with her; no, Glinda was simply the next in a long line of succession. She had been conservative, hardly accomplishing anything in her grieving for her friend. But spring was the time for change, they said, and soon, Oz would bloom with the wildflowers in prosperity.

"I'll walk now with them," Glinda declared. "I'll call out their names. And I'll see their thoughts are known." In a moment of realization, she whispered,"Not gone. Not gone. They walk with my heart…"

"Not gone," Elphaba reminded.

"And I'll never let them go," Glinda swore, grasping both of her friends' hands even harder.

"Not gone," Elphaba agreed.

"I'll never let them go," Glinda repeated.

"Not gone," Elphaba promised.

"Never let them go," Glinda whispered. She started, realizing that she was at the edge of the graveyard- really, it was a rusty pike fence with crumbling stone foundations, holding only a few graves of those people wanted to forget. Glancing up, Elphaba and Fiyero stared back at her, their expressions telling her all she needed to know.

She needed to go on alone now. But, she wouldn't be alone, for they walked with her heart…

With a heavy heart at that, she released their hands, taking a single step forward, out of the perimeter of the graveyard. Suddenly panicked, she whipped around to find them staring back at her in encouragement. Not gone.

"You watch me," Glinda called to them. "Just watch me. I'm calling…"

She took another step backwards, her eyes never leaving her friends. "I'm calling," she repeated, a promise to them that said everything that remained unspoken between them. "And one day all will know…"

With that, she turned and walked onward into the winter night, for the first time in her life not looking back to the past. She didn't need to; she knew what she would find.

Her friends. Not gone.

She didn't know how far she had walked before realizing she had left her knife at the bed of the grave, buried in the grass, where it could forever. Without thought, she placed her hand where the knife had pressed against her skin, almost over her heart. Frowning, something rustled, and she withdrew her hand, revealing a single lily tucked in her bodice.

She knew she shouldn't return to the graveyard, that her need to mourn had been fulfilled, but somehow, her mission was incomplete without laying the lily on the grave of the wicked. Elphaba would want her sister to be remembered, and more importantly, she, Glinda Upland, wanted to remember Nessa and to ask for forgiveness, something she had feared until now.

Perhaps it was Nessa's spirit that led her back to the grave, for when she approached, another figured was bent over the grave, reaching out and touching it preciously, a ruined lily at the foot of the grave. Startled, Glinda realized she had filled in the figure with her mind, naming him as the only other person who would even consider returning to Nessa's grave. But it couldn't be…

At the sound of her footsteps, the figure turned, and Glinda relaxed slightly, almost disappointed to find she had been wrong. Of course, it hadn't been Boq, the munchkin was as gone from her life as all of her other friends.

"What are you doing here?" Tin Man sniffed coolly, trying to erase all emotion from his tone, but nothing could hide the two long rust marks, rough shadows down his cheeks, and his blood-red eyes.

"I think we went over this already," Glinda stated, stepping forward. "Perhaps you've changed your mind since then." She glanced towards the dirtied lily, then back at the tin man. "But perhaps not. Regardless, I'm going to mourn for my friend, and no one's going to stop me."

She reached for the grave, stopping mid-reach. "My friend," she mused. "I called Nessa my friend." She smiled at no one. "Yes, Nessa's my friend. And Elphaba, and Fiyero, and Avaric, despite our weekly misinterpretations on flirting. Heck, even Boq, wherever he's vanished to!"

Tin Man jolted up, disguising it as he shifted his position, but he continued to stare at her. She ignored him, laughing cheerily. "I don't care who likes it or not, because no one's going to change it! They're all my friends. They may hate me with good reason, but I still love them, and I always will."

She took a breath, staring at the grave. "And they may be dead, but they'll always live in my heart."

And I'll never let them go…

Tin Man continued to stare at her as she laughed. "It's funny, Boq always wanted my heart, and now that he's got it, he's not here to experience it." She assumed a thoughtful position. "Still, I wonder what he'd say if he was here."

"I think he'd be happy you remember," Tin Man answered sincerely, and when she turned to face him, she found tears once more rolling down his eyes. He trembled slightly as he went on, "And I think he'd return the favor in any way he could, even if he couldn't really."

Her eyes met his, question shadowed within them. With a wry smile, surprising yet chillingly familiar at the same time, he continued, "But I'm afraid you were wrong before. I, too, was forced to watch my lover drift farther away, and my best friend grow crueler and crueler with each passing moment- because of me." Wiping tears from his eyes, he went on, "I relive our last moments each day, and I wonder, if I had done something, if her death could have been prevented. At the time, I hated her because I thought hate was all I was allowed to know. But now, now that time's passed, I think I miss her. And I think I can forgive her for all the things I blamed her for. And," he reached out to touch the grave longingly, "I wonder if she forgives me as well."

He stared at the grave as she had earlier that night, his eyes full and empty of emotion at the same time, a solitary man surrounded by unseen spirits. With a gentle smile, Glinda felt those spirits touch her soul, those she'd known across the years reassuring her and prodding her to reach out to this lonely soul, so alike her. Elphaba and Fiyero were beside her once more, joined by Nessa, who had her arm around the man she had loved too much over the years. She glanced up at Glinda briefly, giving her a reassuring nod and permission to approach.

When her fingers touched his tin exterior, she swore she didn't feel cool metal, but warmth, the warmth of his heart. He turned to look at her, almost startled to find her standing beside him, having been lost in his mourning.

"Those you've known," she whispered. "And lost, may still pain within. But we've grown, they tell us we're forgiven."

Taking a step closer, she raised her voice, "You're not heartless to wonder if you're guilty. But everything they've done for us can still yet be rebuilt, see."

Boq- yes, he had a name, and she hadn't forgotten- stared at her, emotions tearing through his heart so quickly that Glinda could scarcely name them all. She almost laughed in joy despite the new layer of tears that flew down his face. He was healing; he was feeling.

Moments passed before she reached out to the trembling munchkin. "I think they forgive us," she whispered, taking his hand.

He grasped it back and let her pull him up. Around them, the spirits seemed to smile vanishing slowly and suddenly at the same time. Glinda hardly noticed, staring instead into her old friend's eyes, the one person who understood her pain.

They said time could heal all wounds, repress them to mere scars, but Glinda had resisted any form of healing, afraid it would make her forget. Now, she realized, there was nothing to heal.

"I think," Glinda commented as she strolled with Boq through the fields, "that being forgiven is the best emotion ever, don't you?"

He nodded wordlessly, a bit overwhelmed. She squeezed his hand in reassurance, and he glanced up at her, startled and nervous for a moment before dismissing it as he looked away. They'd have to have a talk later, and knowing the munchkin's nervous tendencies, it'd be a long one. Oddly enough, she didn't mind.

The blue wind brushed through the wheat in front of them, making a discernable path. Only it wasn't the wind…

Seemingly out of nowhere, a child appeared, sprinting through the wild grasses and almost crashing into the pair, swerving to the side just in time. Beside her, Glinda felt Boq tense and heard him wince; evidently, he still feared being seen in such a place. Where was his home anywhere? she wondered, then wondering if he had had family, siblings he had left behind. People who thought he was dead- it had to be near here, maybe they could visit afterwards…

As the child turned, Glinda immediately noticed his ice blue eyes, light and cheery but that could be dead serious if provoked. His raven hair, long for his age of approximately four years, hid his face, but his eyes glowed through the thick strands.

"Sorry, sorry!" he shouted quickly before frowning and assuming thoughtful- and oddly familiar- position. "There's something else I'm supposed to say, isn't there?" Glinda made to interrupt, but he held out his hand to stop her. "No hints, Papa says that thinking's good for me- though Mama laughs when he says that, I don't know why… I've got it!" He flashed a quick and wide grin before continuing, "Excuse me." Glancing at her thoroughly for the first time, he made an awkward bow, amending his previous statement, "Excuse me, miss."

Turning to Boq, the boy brightened even more, if that was possible, rambling on before anyone could say anything. "I know you!"

Glinda froze, not scared of this enigmatic boy, of course, just fazed. Of course many people recognized her, it was too much to hope that her homelier costume would fool many people.

"You're a tin soldier!" he declared.

She turned to Boq in surprise to find him shrinking away in fear, not appreciating the attention he was about to get.

"Except you're alive, I think," the boy continued. "My set doesn't do that- which one are you?"

Boq stuttered a bit, glancing at Glinda, his eyes begging for help. The boy only waited a few seconds before continuing, "Never mind, I'll just have to tell Papa- he told me that he knew a man made of tin, like my soldiers. Do you know him?"

Glinda finally found her words, questioning, "What is your father's name?"

"No, not my father. The Tin Man," the boy corrected. "That's not really his name, I figure because if I were tin, I'd want something that made me different than the rest." Nodding, he declared happily, like he'd been taught his entire life, "Different is good."

Boq glanced at Glinda before clearing his throat, and meekly, speaking, "I believe your father was talking about m-me." He smiled timidly, still uncertain and half-hiding behind Glinda.

The boy whistled. "Wow. You're famous aren't you? That's weird. Not being famous of course, 'cause that's cool. But that Papa knows you? He doesn't know many people. Says we're a private family, and that people are boring. So I suppose that's why he knows you, because you don't seem to be boring…"

He trailed off, and Glinda took advantage of the dead space. "Wait, you're father actually knows Bo… Tin Man?"

The boy nodded eagerly, and before he could make another monologue of her sentence, she pressed on, "What is his name?" There weren't that many who knew Tin Man, as he was generally closed or occupied with sulking. And even fewer would remember Boq, much less know what he had become…

"Oh, I don't talk to strangers," the boy suddenly remembered. "Mama says it's dangerous." He smiled sympathetically. "So, what's your name?"

Automatically, Glinda answered, "Glinda," to this perfect stranger and even smiled for a second at his pure joy before realizing that she was irritated with him for refusing to tell her who his father was.

He was chattering something about names now, and Glinda saw her opportunity. He was only a boy, after all, and he wasn't likely to stop talking anytime soon. Eventually, if she approached it subtly, she could probably get any information she wanted out of him.

"What's your name?" Glinda questioned gently at the next pause.

The boy considered this for a moment before shrugging, answering, "Liir."

"Liir," Glinda mused, strumming her fingers absent-mindedly against Boq. Hearing the hollow echo, she glanced at him and removed her hand from his shoulder. "Sorry."

He didn't look like he half-minded as he smiled back. "Liir," she continued, blushing slightly for some reason, "I don't suppose you'd let us walk you home?"

Liir frowned. "I'm not supposed to tell people where I live or bring anyone home. More of that private family business Mama's always preaching about."

"I don't mean to intrude," Glinda tried, "but it's already dark, and although I don't doubt that you could ward off any beasts you might find in these parts, it's still late for you to be alone in these desolate parts."

"True," Liir agreed, assuming his thoughtful position once more. "Well… I suppose you could walk me home, but only if he comes." He pointed at Boq, who in turn glanced at Glinda.

"I hope you don't mind…" Glinda began.

"I would do anything for you, Miss Glinda," Boq stated sincerely, a promise reminiscent of the one she had pretended not to hear during her days at Shiz.

"Well," Glinda finally stated, filling in the awkward silence- which was a miracle with Liir around. "Onwards, then."

Taking her free hand, the boy skipped onwards, whistling a merry tune. Beside her, Boq stopped abruptly, his hand ripped out of hers. Startled, Glinda glanced back at him to find him completely stiff, something like cold wonder in his eyes. His eyesight wavered as his eyes met hers, silent communication rushing between them.

Liir skipped a few more paces before realizing they had stopped. Halting mid-whistle, he turned to the pair. "What?" he questioned.

Boq took a second, his eyes still glued on Glinda. "Nothing," he finally answered, dropping his gaze as his courage failed him once again. "Nothing at all."

Liir shrugged, seeming to accept this, but Glinda knew better, and her eyes pierced his with that knowledge when he dared glance up again. Sighing slightly, he stammered abruptly, "That t-tune… where d-did… how…. w-who taught you that?"

"Oh, it's a favorite of my papa's," the boy remarked casually, regrabbing Glinda's hand, accidentally grasping her wrist. "Mama chases him out of the house whenever he starts whistling it, though."

"Of course," Boq whispered, half to himself, allowing Glinda to gently grasp his hand once more.

They walked in silence for a few paces before Boq turned to Glinda, uncertainty in his eyes.

"Do you think…?" Boq trailed off, glancing at Liir, the unspoken question perfectly clear.

"Yes," Glinda nodded softly, having connected the dots far before Boq. "I think."

"So do I!" Liir declared proudly before frowning. "Think what?" he questioned. "Or is it in general? Papa says that I inherited Mama's thinking. He's says it's very important."

Glinda nodded, and for some reason, sorrow welled within heart. It wasn't the guilty kind; she was through that, as impossible as it seemed. When the spirits- she couldn't think of another word to describe them- had appeared, it was as if they had lifted the weight off her shoulders. And now, that Elphaba and Fiyero, if it was them, were alive…

She stopped thinking. Despite Liir's assurances that it was important, she knew that if she over thought the situation, she might end up feeling, as she had only once before in her life, excluded and hurt that Elphaba hadn't bothered telling her that they had survived, that she had lived her last five years in an endless hell of guilt and loneliness…

But she understood.

After listening to Liir to chatter for another five minutes, Glinda found a nice place to interject, asking playfully, "Do you ever stop talking?"

"Don't know," he answered truthfully. "I haven't tried for long." He paused thoughtfully, and Glinda realized just how much he reminded her of Fiyero with his endless and usually mindless chattering. "I can try now."

Glinda smiled as the boy managed to stay quiet for ten, then twenty seconds, his mouth twitching. She opened her mouth to comment, "You know…"

"Can I say one more thing?" Liir interrupted.

Glinda couldn't help but smile at the boy, recalling just how much he reminded her of Elphaba as well.

And she knew she would forgive them.

"I'd just like to thank you for… back there," Liir continued without waiting for permission, shy for the first time.

"For what?" Glinda questioned.

"I appreciated it," he stated slowly, trying to find the right words. "I- I don't see people much. See, my parents- they're different."

"Different is good," Glinda said mindlessly, repeating his earlier words with utter sincerity.

"I know," Liir replied. "But people don't, or at least, that's what Mama says. She says that someday, I'll be able to go and live with people, normal people. But I told her I don't want to be normal. She said that then I could be different in another way without people realizing, by making other different people find a place, except it was more complicated than that." He frowned. "I can't remember. She said that it'd be easier with Lady Glinda's laws…" He trailed off, glancing at her for a second. Glinda let him.

"What?" she finally questioned innocently.

"Your name's Glinda," he pointed out, as if that were necessary. After a moment's pause, he seemed to shrug. "Were you named after her?"

At this Glinda failed to stifle her laughter.

"What?" the boy questioned. "Why are you laughing? Lady Glinda's a respectable person, and you shouldn't make fun of her, and I don't really know what she's doing, but Mama says it's great, so it's great!"

"Ah, if only it were that simple," Glinda sighed teasingly. "Your mother is wise. Much wiser than anyone else I know."

"Me too!" Liir agreed. "Though you probably know more people than I do."

Glinda thought about it for a second before shaking her head. "I really don't…" Of all of those she'd met, only a few brave souls stuck out, and those were the ones she'd known.

"Of course you do," he stated plainly. "You know him." Liir gestured towards Boq, who was now staring at the ground seriously, as if to remain out of the conversation. Tin Man's antisocialism seemed not to have disappeared much; but then, Boq hadn't exactly been the most socially aware person even when he was alive. No, not alive, for she considered him alive now even if he didn't.

"I do," Glinda replied, and by that statement, deciding exactly what she thought of Boq.

"He doesn't talk much," Liir commented.

"I'm sure he doesn't mind you talking for him," Glinda assured the boy.

"Like I do for my tin soldiers?" he questioned. Not requiring a response, the boy skipped on with a giggle, brushing a hanging tree branch out of the way, proclaiming, "Here we are!"

The cottage was simple, much like Elphaba would have liked in her college days. It was by no means pretty, and Glinda certainly noticed several structural mistakes, the familiar handiwork of a certain Vinkan prince. Nonetheless, it was homey, with natural colors, a tree swing, and groomed plants. Somehow, it blended into the landscape, and Glinda got the feeling that one might not notice it without attention being drawn to it.

Liir led the pair in a few steps, finally letting go of Glinda's hand as he half-danced forwards without them.

As she studied the cottage, she became vaguely disturbed. There was nothing wrong with it; indeed, she might even enjoy living there if not for her love of finery, which she fully admitted to. It was the atmosphere which disturbed her, not quite eerie, but quiet, almost peaceful, as if not wanting to be disturbed. She halted abruptly, and Boq would have continued on without noticing had she not held her hand out.

"Wait," she whispered, putting a finger to her lips, and from the house, she could faintly discern the most welcoming sound in the world: the laughter of two friends who'd never leave her heart.

Abruptly, she grabbed Boq's hand and turned him around to his astonishment, practically dragging him away hurriedly.

"What are…?" he began, and for once, she didn't appreciate his words, shushing him.

"We're leaving," she stated tersely and without room for doubt.

"But I thought…" Boq protested.

"Yes, so did I," Glinda replied, urging him forward. He obeyed instinctively, trusting her blindly but unable to mask his confusion. Feeling it her duty, she continued, "That place was never meant for human tarnishing. No one should know." After a brief pause, she whispered, "Even us."

Glancing back, she thought he understood. Looking half-relieved and half-disappointed, he let himself be led to a better vantage point, out of sight but within hearing.

"What about Liir?" he questioned loudly, and she put her finger over her lips.

"Listen," she commanded, and he fell silent.

The boy's chatter rang, echoing through empty woods, masked only slightly by the muffled sounds of the night.

"…and I swear, she looked like an angel! And guess what?" Liir left no room for his current victim to answer, declaring, "Her name was Glinda too, just like the one you always tell me about!"

Glinda smiled slightly, proud that her friend had mentioned fondly her to Liir.

"And the other one- I still think he has a name- he was like one of my soldiers, only bigger and talking. Well, he didn't talk much, but still! Imagine! Of course, you won't have to because they're right…"

The voice paused for a few seconds. "Huh," came the puzzled tone, "where'd they go?"

"Are you sure you weren't dreaming, sweetie?" a familiar female voice questioned gently, and Glinda clasped Boq against his shoulders to stop herself from making any noise.

"No, that's silly! How could I dream while I was awake?"

"You never know," a male voice put in with a chuckle. "I did it all the time in History. Well, when I wasn't staring at your mother." This was followed by a muffled yelp, and Glinda got the impression that Elphaba had smacked Fiyero.

"Don't rub off your bad habits, now," she scolded. "You've already contributed enough as it is."

"I thought we'd made a truce and agreed that the nose was yours!" Fiyero complained playfully.

"I was referring to his late night disappearances," Elphaba replied sincerely. "Liir, baby, you know you shouldn't stay out that late."

"I didn't mean to!" the boy protested. "I was just sitting by the old oak, and I think I…" The voice stopped abruptly, and Glinda could see the parents exchanging a knowing glance in her mind.

"But it wasn't a dream!" Liir shrieked desperately. "I saw them, and they talked to me, and she said they'd lead me home, and then they did, and, and… it was real!"

"Some dreams are," Fiyero stated wisely, somehow not an oxymoron. Well, Glinda considered with a smirk, perhaps a bit of a moron…

"I wasn't dreaming!" the boy wailed as became increasingly upset. "It was real- they were real, and…" His words were interrupted by a stifled sob, but not for long. "And if you don't believe me, then I'll just have to go believe myself," he cried, thumping footsteps echoing as he dashed away, towards the cottage, Glinda assumed, "alone!"

The parents sat silent, and after the long pause, Glinda began to wonder if they had followed the boy, even though she was almost certain she hadn't heard their footsteps retreat.

"He'll be okay," Fiyero reassured, breaking the silence and proving his position.

"I know," came Elphaba's softer reply, weighed with a sigh. "Do you think we should, maybe… well, stop telling him so many stories? He's already started believing so many, and with comprehension too."

"I think," Fiyero trod carefully, "that they aren't stories. And that he was a right to believe whatever he wants."

He couldn't see Glinda's wide beam as he recited these words, but it was there all the same.

"I know," Elphaba said once more. "It's just, I wanted him to be normal, or at least have a normal chance at a childhood…"

"There's no such thing as normal, not for us," Fiyero replied. "But, I think Liir's happier this way- have you listened to one of his differences monologues recently, by any chance?"

Glinda and Boq exchanged a glance, and even Boq was unable to keep himself from grinning slightly.

"He's so optimistic," Elphaba sighed. "He truly believes he can do it."

"Maybe he can," Fiyero pointed out. "I wouldn't be one to doubt him. Maybe he doesn't look like much of a threat on the outside, but when he's determined, I don't thinking even an angry mother equipped with a flying broomstick can stop him."

This provoked a laugh from Elphaba, and Glinda could only imagine what Fiyero was referring to.

"Similar to a certain blonde we both know," he continued, and the laughter stopped. There was no doubt to whom he was referring to now, and Glinda, almost afraid of what would come next, gripped Boq even tighter. He reached up to pat her comfortingly, easing her nerves for the next portion of the conversation.

"I think," Fiyero deduced, "that when he came running in with his tales of golden princesses and tin soldiers, you believed him. That you wanted it to be Glinda and Boq." A brief pause passed before he added, "So did I."

"It's silly," Elphaba admitted. "There's no reason she'd come out here, and even if she did, there's no way she'd find us, much less want to see us." The last part was choked. Clearing her throat, she continued, "Fiyero, I dreamed of her. During my nap, I dreamed she came to see me, and you were there too. She was behind me, and she said…" Elphaba broke off, unable to continued.

"She said she forgave us," Fiyero finished, and Glinda could picture him reaching out to hold Elphaba, stroking her luscious hair. "I remember."

Elphaba probably sent him one of her famous glances, for he laughed, "I was there after all!" He continued seriously, "I dreamed of her too."

"I thought you were supposed to be waiting for Liir to come home," Elphaba stated accusingly.

"I was," Fiyero argued innocently, "but my mind, or lack thereof, has a mind of its own. Besides, the kid could never get lost, and you'd know if anything dangerous happened. We've got to remember, he's a growing kid who needs his space, not just a squashed cottage in the middle of nowhere."

For once, it seemed, Elphaba didn't argue, perhaps nodding before continuing, "Fiyero, it seemed so real…" She sighed, referring back to the dream, seeming unable to let it go.

"Maybe it was," Fiyero replied, his words suggesting he had taken hold of her arm. Repeating what he had told Liir earlier, he went on, "Some dreams are."

"Perhaps," Elphaba replied, not quite believing, but not disbelieving either.

"After all," Fiyero explained, "she walks with our hearts."

"Not gone," Elphaba agreed.

"And we'll never let her go," Fiyero finished, as if quoting a familiar song. He paused, perhaps listening for something in the distance. There was only…

Silence.

"I think we had better check on that kid of ours," Fiyero declared abruptly as real life resumed amidst the dreaming.

"Oh?" Elphaba teased as he led her away.

"And you might want to bring that broom."

"He's on the roof again?!" Elphaba's voice exclaimed disbelievingly.

"I told you my acrophobic tendencies were a plus, but he had to go inherit your reckless…" His voice vanished in the distance, and several beats passed before Boq spoke.

"They're gone."

Frowning, Glinda stood up and took his hand. "Not gone," she argued. "They walk with our hearts."

"And we'll never let them go," Boq whispered, his hand rubbing the place that should have held his heart. Abruptly, he dropped his hand, wondering aloud, "That sounds familiar, like some sort of song or something… did we learn it at Shiz?"

"In a way," Glinda replied, and with that, she brought the munchkin's arm closer to her. She'd walk on his arm through the distant night, and she wouldn't let him stray from her heart.

Against the long blue shadows, the silhouetted pair walked on together, their hearts glowing in the darkness of the night. But the shadows brought the starlight, and if they kept on walking forward, they'd find the source someday, and all would know the wonder of summer.

The nighttime sounds of owls hooting, mice scampering, and wind blowing began to mask the sounds of their fading footprints. Everything retreated into darkness as the shadows vanished into starlight, and the forest was still, free of human tarnishing.

And then…

Silence.


Long, huh? I should probably thank all of you who actually made it through… A few notes to include that were omitted at the beginning so as not to reveal spoilers:

1. The Glinda/Boq relationship- ambiguous. Whatever you take away with it is what it's meant to be. Personally, I see it was a growing friendship with seeds of romance, but that is not and will not turn into a romantic relationship.

2. Liir- Basically, I mixed Elphaba and Fiyero, used the name from the second book, which I haven't read, and tried to make the character that would touch Glinda the most. And, if you look carefully enough, I do believe I left enough hints to his future…

3. Why didn't Glinda just go see Elphaba?- This was her friends' private spot, and she didn't want to intrude. Although they may have enjoyed it, Glinda understands that they each have their own lives to live, and if their stories ever intertwined, it will be at Elphaba's choosing. Glinda basically wanted to give them the choice to hide so that they all could fulfill their duties.

4. Were the ghosts really there? Was the dream real?- Some dreams are. *laughs mysteriously* And are the ghosts really there in "Spring Awakening?"

I'd really appreciate a review after all of this hard work… please…anything but silence…