When Elphaba first began descending the grand staircase, a frown had been prominently etched on her face as she faced the other students. She heard their not-so-quiet whisperings, listening to the derogatory comments that had plagued her throughout childhood. Elphaba noticed her roommate in the corner, hiding in the arms of her new boyfriend as her eyes looked anywhere but towards the staircase. Even her sister, Nessa, sat quietly to the side, unwilling to defend her sister per usual.
So with no pride left to lose, Elphaba moved to the center of the room. She began moving her arms to the song she was humming in her head, as the DJ had long since halted the music. She let her movements become more erratic, giving the crowd what they wanted. But just as she went to swing her arm around, Elphaba nearly struck the blonde who had approached, brave enough to come within striking distance. Elphaba looked at Glinda with a mix of anger and apprehension, wondering why Glinda was suddenly willing to make eye contact, let alone acknowledge her presence in front of others.
"May I cut in?" the blonde asked, failing miserably at faking confidence. It took a minute for Elphaba to even register what Glinda was referring to, but nearly snorted with amusement when she realized Glinda was asking for a dance. Though he had held back from audibly laughing, she couldn't keep the smirk off her face as she motioned for Glinda to go ahead.
Her jaw dropped slightly as Glinda not only started dancing, but attempted to mimic Elphaba's erratic movements. Of course Glinda made the movements look beautiful and graceful, but she had come to Elphaba's level in front of everyone. She hesitated for only a moment when her friends approached hesitantly, looking at her with judging eyes.
But the pause lasted only a moment before Glinda turned back to Elphaba, beginning her fluid movements once again. Elphaba joined her this time, exuding her willingness to meeting Glinda halfway. For a full minute, Elphaba blocked out everyone else as she let herself wordlessly bond with Glinda. They had nothing to say, but their eyes seemed to communicate the same thing: that despite their differences, they were going to be okay.
Elphaba let her gaze waver for just a moment, and gasped when she took in the room once more. The whole room was full of synchronized movement, gracefully repeating the dance steps Elphaba had invented only minutes earlier. Her thoughts were interrupted when she felt a hand gently gripping hers, and looked to see Glinda smiling nervously. It was a smile Elphaba readily returned, the first time she truly smiled all night. And though the song came to an end, Elphaba had no doubt that this would be just the beginning.
Elphaba never thought this moment would come: she was at a school function – a dance, no less – and she was smiling. Thanks to Glinda, Elphaba was no longer the joke of the party. Certainly no one was lining up to chat with her, but no one was lining up to throw rocks either.
Elphaba and Glinda spent nearly an hour enjoying the music while talking – truly talking – for the first time. And although Elphaba had to awkwardly nod her way through parts of the conversation involving fashion, it felt nice to have someone want to talk to her.
"So I can't believe Madame Morrible is allowing me into class!" Glinda smiled at Elphaba gratefully before staring down at her training wand.
"Glinda, it was nothing, I-"
"Sweet Oz! I haven't even shown Pfanee my wand!" Glinda cried, rushing off towards her friend, waving her wand erratically. Elphaba knew she should probably be insulted by Glinda running off, but couldn't find herself being upset. She had long ago accepted that Glinda was a social butterfly, and was impressed that she had devoted an hour of an event like this to speaking with Elphaba. Therefore, Elphaba had no qualms with Glinda going to talk to others, and took the opportunity to get some punch from the corner of the room.
After pouring herself a glass, Elphaba stood quietly with her drink, watching the other Shiz students move about the Ozdust Ballroom. They moved so gracefully with their intricate movements, Elphaba couldn't help but envy them. She looked on longingly as the pairs moved about the floor, getting lost in the beauty of their dance.
"You look sad," a voice far too close to Elphaba's ear whispered, causing her to jump, spilling her drink all over the voice's owner.
"I am so sorry! You scar-" Elphaba turned to see a familiar face trying to wipe punch off his jacket. "You!"
"Me?" he responded innocently.
"You're the one that nearly ran me over with your cart!"
"And you're the one who nearly drowned me with punch!" was his retort.
"Am I supposed to feel bad?" Elphaba asked skeptically.
"Well, I saw you over here by yourself, and thought I'd come apologize for earlier…" he trailed off, leaving Elphaba feeling guilty despite herself.
"Then I guess we both have something to apologize for," she sighed, hating the idea of apologizing, especially to him.
"Can we start over then? I'm –"
"Glinda's boyfriend," Elphaba provided, glancing over at Glinda as she passed her new wand amongst her friends.
"Fiyero," he ammended. "And you're-"
"Elphaba," she provided, keeping it short.
"Well Elphaba, care to share a dance?" he turned to her, hand outstretched.
"What, saw green and thought it meant 'go dance'?" Elphaba sarcastically repeated his words from earlier that day. She looked down at his outstretched hand as she continued, "And aren't you afraid I'm contagious?"
"Don't be ridiculous," Fiyero sighed, taking Elphaba's hand before she had the chance to argue. "There," he smiled, "if you're contagious, now I've got it too."
Elphaba was speechless for a minute as she looked into Fiyero's eyes, shaking her head with sudden nervousness. "Fiyero, I can't dance, and what about Glinda?"
"Glinda is with her friends, and it's just a dance. And don't worry about the moves, it's all in the leading," he winked as he led her to the dance floor just as the song changed.
Elphaba listened as a quiet piano played the opening notes of the ballad, soon joined by the soft playing of an orchestra. She felt Fiyero tighten his grip on Elphaba's hand, bringing his free hand to her waist. Hesitantly, Elphaba brought her hand to Fiyero's shoulder, noticing his gentle smile before moving his feet. He swept Elphaba slowly around the floor, making the moves look easy and seamless as Elphaba was twirled about the room.
Elphaba vaguely listened to the male singer along with the orchestra, singing about fate and destiny and a love that almost was, but Elphaba was too caught up in the dance to notice the people watching. Most of her attention was on the man across from her, the man who kept eye contact as they continued dancing. Just as she had with Glinda, Elphaba found herself having a wordless conversation with Fiyero as they moved. However, in a way that Elphaba couldn't describe, this seemed like a much different type of conversation, one that Elphaba was unable to put her finger on.
Despite herself, Elphaba felt herself get lost in the soft music of the night, the gentle touch of her partner's hands, and the piercing eyes of Fiyero's gaze. It made time stand still, yet move all too quickly at the same time. And just as Elphaba heard the song crescendo into the final chorus, she felt a gentle tap on her shoulder. She jumped slightly as she was brought back to reality, turning to see a smiling Glinda standing expectantly.
"Thank you so much for keeping Fiyero company, but would you mind if I cut in?" she smiled sweetly.
"Oh," Elphaba sighed, giving Fiyero the briefest of sad looks before turning back to her roommate. "Of, of course," Elphaba stammered, backing away from the pair. "I'm quite tired anyway, I'll see you back at the dorm."
"Well don't wait up!" Glinda giggled and Elphaba could have sworn she winked flirtaciously at Fiyero.
Glinda's words stung, and Elphaba struggled to understand why. Maybe it was because she was having a good time dancing. Maybe it was because she was upset about missing time with her blonde friend. Or maybe the thought of someone else in Fiyero's arms…
Elphaba dismissed the thought quickly, rushing towards the stairs and out of the Ozdust ballroom. Music and murmuring clouded her head as she left, but she could have sworn she heard a sad, soft voice call out, "Goodnight Elphaba, thank you for the dance." Whether the words had truly been spoken or not, Elphaba etched the sound of them into her mind, a way to remind herself how she had come so close to a moment of pure happiness.