Disclaimer: Nothing of WICKED is mine.
Author's Note: Final chapter. As I said, it will be continued in a sequel because I love this story far too much to finish it yet. I do feel that 31 chapters is enough for this fic, though, so I'm wrapping it up. The second half of this story will essentially be about the second half of their lives. I hope you'll keep reading. No promises about when it will be out because I start Uni again in two weeks.
As Minas promised, they did stroll through the finest cultural establishments of the Emerald City. Nothing new was really learned, but the artifacts and atmosphere of the buildings themselves were stunning and perfectly designed to satisfy the mildly curious. Of course, once they had had lunch and the afternoon drew in, Galinda's anxiety resurfaced and Elphaba gave in to her pleas to begin shopping. She and Fiyero had already had a angrily whispered argument over cost and payment of the clothes she was supposed to buy: he obviously wanting to pay for it all and Elphaba insisting she pay for as much as she could.
No agreement had really been reached and Fiyero merely intended to intercept at the cashier's desk and put his money down before Elphaba could. Preferably while she was still changing. She would resent him, but he didn't care. Elphaba knew that was how he liked to show he cared for her, but she felt embarrassed in front of his parents and worried they might think she was depending too much on him. She had not voiced this to Fiyero.
Galinda was entirely untroubled by money problems.
Two stores were gone through by the time they began to come upon gowns thought suitable enough by Nanda and Galinda. Elphaba had little opinion and though she was prepared to draw the line at certain things, she would allow herself to be dressed up until such a reaction was called for.
Thankfully, the outfits they handed her were dark and deep colours. Not all black, some were blue or purple or even a subtle green when they were held to the light. Elphaba looked at Fiyero before she and Galinda were ushered into the dressing rooms and his gentle smile made her heart sing. Fiyero had not been allowed to see the dresses, but that Elphaba had emerged with a subtle blush on her cheeks told him she was at least not dreading the evening and perhaps even looking forward to it.
Though Elphaba had not been amused when she arrived at the cash point to find Fiyero had indeed already paid for her, the rest of their party noticed it had taken only a few minutes for her to soften towards him again. He had kissed her and merely reminded her of their morning, but it was enough to make her smile reluctantly and take his arm again. Galinda wondered what in Oz was happening to her friend.
"Galinda? Can I use your dressing table? Actually, scratch that, can I use you and your dressing table?"
"I beg your pardon?"
They had returned to their respective rooms after completing their purchases, Elphaba becoming amenable towards the idea of dressing up for the night with each passing moment. She realised, with a hard swallow and a slight flip of her tummy, that she wanted to look nice for Fiyero. She wanted to feel that he was proud to be with her and glad to tell his family about her. So when he had begun getting ready in their room, Elphaba decided to make her attire a surprise. She had learned that he liked that kind of thing. Elphaba responded sheepishly to her roommate, with that in mind. "I don't want Fiyero to see, and Oz knows I don't know what I'm doing."
Galinda put her hand on her heart and felt tears prick. "Aw, you don't want him to see you? That's so sweet Elphie! I love that! Of course you may use my table! Here!" She led Elphaba to the chair and pointed out all the different things she thought Elphaba would find most flattering. "Oh he is going to go weak at the knees! He's so lucky."
"Yes, of course."
"Galinda, you say that as if it were the most obvious thing in the world."
"And you are acting as if it's not the most obvious thing in the world, which I find ridiculous. Come on Elphie. You were there today! You and I and Fiyero are going to be the next leaders of Oz!"
Elphaba rolled her eyes. "Oh we are not. Don't exaggerate!"
"Elphaba!" Galinda plopped herself down on the seat beside her and began to powder her nose. Elphaba watched her and unscrewed a mascara stick, peering deep into the mirror to get it right. "Don't lie and don't pretend you didn't take that from what he said. He was going on and on about our positions working with him and how much he wanted us to influence the new generations of Ozians. And he kept asking your opinion on everything." Elphaba sighed: she couldn't deny it. "I'm right. You know I am."
"For once." She admitted. "Galinda . . . I . . . uh wanted to say thank you." The blonde looked from her own reflection to Elphaba's. "You know for . . . everything you've done for me since that party at the OzDust. I wouldn't have any of this if it weren't for you."
"Well, that's not true I mean, you'd still have been invited here and-"
"Alright, alright. Maybe. But it wouldn't be half as wonderful." Galinda smiled softly in the dim lamplight. Elphaba liked that her white skin was tinged with green from the glow of the city outside. "It wouldn't." Galinda closed her compact mirror and gently hugged her friend.
"I love you, Elphaba." She whispered, almost afraid for her to hear it. Galinda had to breathe in a few times when she heard Elphaba whisper it back to her.
"I love you, too, Galinda."
"How do you think she's gonna look?" Fiyero asked his father, pacing nervously up and down in the lobby.
"Why are you so nervous, son? Sit down, you'll make your mother feel faint." Minas replied, his reference to Nanda irritating rather than pleasing her, which had been his intention. He had always loved to wind her up. Nanda gave him a look this time, in the direction of their son. Minas sighed. "Fiyero, she's with Galinda remember."
"No I know I know! She'd look beautiful anyway. It's just . . . ah I'm nervous about tonight."
"Why on earth, Fiyero?" His mother questioned. "It's just a party."
Fiyero took three determined strides towards his parents. "This is not just a party. This is a family gathering and you did not tell me." They frowned, making Fiyero groan in frustration. "Elphaba is not . . cool with that kind of thing. You do realise tonight means she is going to meet every single member of our family at once. As my girlfriend! And you know what they're all going to assume!"
"But Fiyero of course we thought of that! We . . . we thought that was a good thing." His mother said tentatively. "Do you not want her to meet the rest of the family? Our friends?"
"Of course I do, Mam." He sighed and sat down. "I want to introduce her to everyone. I want her to feel like part of the family. I know that she's already starting to feel that way because of Kiamo Ko."
Nanda smiled, glad to have the vocal affirmation that Elphaba felt loved. "Well that's good!"
"Yes, but I'm worried she'll feel overwhelmed."
"Fiyero - now listen carefully to me." His mother cautioned, sitting forward and lowering her voice. "I have been watching you two since the first moment you arrived together. I may not know everything about Elphaba but she is like a daughter to me and . . . well your father and I had hoped one day she would be. Officially." Fiyero looked from his mother to his father and back again, trying to ascertain if they were serious. "Elphaba loves you so much, Fiyero. There's obviously not another person in her life whom she trusts more. I think you're not giving her enough credit. Just bear in mind how much happier she has been since you have been together and start assuming that she has recognised how lucky she is, too."
"Mam!" Fiyero chided at her mother-like words. "Anyway she's always telling me how much she doesn't deserve me, so at least on that subject you both agree."
"I do not. I think Elphaba does deserve you. I was just telling your father . . ."
Minas nodded at the prompt from his wife. "Son, this is an important evening, but you're a fool if you think Elphaba is going to feel pressured. She has just had the most thrillifying day of her life. All afternoon she was beaming and not just because of how much attention you were giving her."
Fiyero smiled. They were right. He let silence fall for a few moments. "I want to propose to her . . . one day. Soon."
Nanda grinned, and her hands flew to her face. Minas leaned back on his chair proudly. "Oh Fiyero!" His mother said, trying to keep her voice from betraying her enthusiasm.
"Calm down Mam, I'm not asking her tonight. I don't even have a ring."
"Yes you do." his father's face contained a hint of barely controlled glee, which Fiyero had never witnessed from the man before. "You just don't have it on you." Fiyero knew he was referencing a family ring, and he prepared himself for the morning it would arrive at Shiz in a brown paper package. If he was honest, he could easily ask Elphaba to marry him that night, but they had not been dating for a whole year yet and though he felt so strongly about the decision to marry her, he was not willing to rush in until he knew how Elphaba felt, too. He had tried to hint it, telling her repeatedly that they would be together forever, and he wondered if she had put two and two together to think of marriage. On one hand, she was intelligent enough to do so, but on the other she was so self-conscious that it was entirely possible she thought he would never actually want to attach to himself to her in that way.
He turned in the direction of his mother's pointing finger to see Elphaba and Galinda hurrying to them, giggling and smiling. The best of friends. Fiyero thought Galinda looked gorgeous in her yellow, which he was sure she'd correct and tell him it was lemon or sunset mist or something.
But it was Elphaba, of course it was Elphaba who had that beauty that was beyond any description Fiyero's mind could conjure. Instead of feeling that no one else was watching them, he felt that everyone was and that she was the main attraction of the city above any tall structure or famed wizard. She was wearing lace and the cut hugged her figure. It was v-necked and sleeveless and he wondered how his mother and Galinda had convinced her to wear it, never mind buy it. She had taken two pieces of hair from each side of her face and pinned them back, allowing the rest to fall down her back almost like a shawl. She had curled it and she was wearing make-up. He heard the sound of heels from the floor-length hem and kissed her as soon as she reached him.
"Money well spent, then?" She asked. "Surprise." She added, plainly.
"You are so beautiful."
They kissed softly again. "Thank you."
As they left for the carriage, Fiyero held her hand and understood that she had finally come to see herself as beautiful in her own way.
The Gilded Balloon was everything they had expected from a central Emerald City location: green, enormous and glittering. The place was teaming with people unfamiliar even to Nanda and Minas and they found themselves torn in every direction to be introduced. Elphaba watched Galinda flit over to family she had found and jealously watched them hug and kiss her hello. She crushed hopes that her parents could be there, talking proudly about their eldest daughter. She turned to Fiyero.
"Fiyero, don't you dare leave me in here. I haven't a damn clue who anyone is."
"I'm not letting you out of my sight, Fae. You look too good. Besides, listen to that music! Let's dance."
"Right now? Before I've even had anything to drink?" She was joking, but he led her towards the bar and ordered wine. "Vinkus wine, Yero? I hope you've diluted it." She watched him pour a few drops of water from a decanter. "Thank you, darling."
"I just don't want you spilling it and using magic to clean it up again." She blushed at the memory. "You were so frightened." He said, knowing she was thinking of that day, too.
"You were frightening."
"I was not! I loved you."
"You what?" Elphaba asked, shocked. "Really? Even back then?" He replied in the positive and kissed her hand. "You know if you had kissed me then, I would have let you."
Fiyero shook his head. "No, you would have shoved me away or blown me halfway across the room."
"Drink your wine." He said, unable to continue when she winked at him. "You are irresistible you know. An utter temptress." She kept eye contact with him as she took a long sip from her glass. "That's not an appropriate look to give me in public."
"Ah but you are the only one who knows what it means." She giggled at the heady feeling of the wine as she swallowed. "Anyway, this is supposed to be a family gathering and as of yet, we're the only one of our group who haven't met anyone. Do you think it's because I'm green?"
"Oh come on! Now I'm not saying they'll all immediately hate me, but you can't deny that there is going to be some curiosity."
"Fiyero." She copied his warning tone, not picking up on the frustration. Or the anger. He hated that she still thought of herself that way, or that she thought his family were the kind of people to judge anyone he cared about so harshly. "They'll probably think you lost a bet or that I'm some sort of weird ancient Vinkun punishment from your parents for your years of-"
"Alright Elphaba that's enough." Elphaba had never heard him speak like that before, and she certainly never expected him to use such a demanding tone with her. But she knew why he had, and she flushed in mortification. She couldn't look at him, so she had no idea what he might be thinking. Fiyero just watched her and didn't know how to move past it when she wouldn't lift her head.
"I'm sorry." She said quietly. "Um . . . I don't know why . . . I'm sorry." Fiyero's next words, though he was not exactly set on what they would be, were cut off when she put her glass down and walked away from him. He stood there like an idiot for a few seconds before shoving through all the guests to reach her.
"Where are you going?" He asked, once he'd grabbed an arm and made her face him. She didn't respond with anything coherent, and he didn't know the place well enough to find somewhere private for them. "It's alright, Fae." He said, finally deciding just to head for the most populated area. "Let's dance."
Elphaba let him lead her to the middle of the floor: this room had to be at capacity. It reminded her of the very first time they had danced together and when Fiyero's hands pressed the small of her back, she stepped forward and rested her head on his shoulder. "I don't know why I said that. I know . . . well I don't know . . . but I think I know that your family would never . . ."
"It's alright Fae. I just don't like it when you talk that way about yourself. I thought you'd begun to think differently."
She looked up at him, her hands on his neck firmly to convey the conviction in her voice. "I have, Yero, and it's because of you. Bad joke. Bad, bad bad."
He smiled. "No more Vinkun wine for you." She leaned back to laugh and he caught her lips. She kissed him back, putting into her kiss the apology she could not word and shivered when he closed the distance between them. "I love you." He said, planting seedling kisses along her jaw. "I'll always love you."
"Always?" He nodded, kissing her again. "I'll always love you, Yero my Hero."
"I wonder if you'll still be calling me that in thirty years." She only smirked. "Elphaba . . ."
"What is it, Yero?" She whispered to him. "You know, Galinda thinks you're going to ask me to marry you tonight." He stopped dancing, shocked that she would say that. "I obviously don't, otherwise I wouldn't have said anything." He stared. "Fiyero? She told me not to mention it, but I think it's something we ought to talk about and I'm much more comfortable with the subject if I'd had a sip or two. Of wine, I mean. Even though I almost fucked up the entire evening a moment ago."
"You didn't. I'm just . . . I was just telling my parents that . . ." He stalled, not really certain he wanted to say. How much of a surprise would it be then? On cue, she reminded him of her hatred of surprises and he continued. "I was telling them that I want to propose to you. And they were so excited. You know Mam already considers you her daughter and she's just waiting for the day we tell her we're getting married."
"Wow, Yero." He could feel how fast her heart was beating and the unsteadiness in her step. "I'm not scared, so don't look at me like that. I'm touched. I'm . . . I guess I'm excited."
"Excited?" He asked hopefully.
"Yes. I love you, Fiyero. I mean what was I supposed to think when you said you and I would always be together? I don't ever want to be apart from you." She laughed when he began to pad his pockets and told her he didn't have a ring. "I'm not asking you to do it now. I just want you to know that when you do . . . I promise I'll say yes."
They were eventually introduced to many members of his family that evening, and Fiyero had to fight to stop himself from calling her his fiancee on almost every occasion providing a constant source of both amusement and comfort for Elphaba.
In his bed, The Wizard of Oz fell asleep with a happy smile and his daughter's voice echoing in his head.
A happy ending. This time.