AN: Yes, yes, I admit defeat. PeachBlossom wins. Congrats. And somehow, suddenly... this ended up being the final chapter of this story.

I know. I wasn't expecting it either. But I figured they've all been through enough by now, and I didn't know what disaster I could possibly bestow on them now again. Morrible's ghost? Sorry. Not gonna happen. So I wrapped it up. I'm not sure about the ending, but I guess it's okay.

Elphaba'sGirl: In that case, you've been crying for a long time *sadistic smirk*.

Stefy: Looking out, but can't find anything about it, so don't know when it will be :(.

Failey (yes, you're Queen Failey now, but I'm lazy): That's exactly the feeling I wanted you all to have 3:). Yay for me. (And yes. Cool.)

BlueD: I laughed way too hard at that. I was just totally picturing Elphaba scrambled back on the bed, clutching the blankets, screaming her head off because there was a bug on the wall or something xD. But I guess she would scream like that if she woke up to find her entire room pink...

Lexie: Nope, I really don't :D.

Watercolor & Elphaba-WWW: No matter how much I loved your review (and yes, of course I know The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo!), I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you. I don't write chapters in advance. Ever. The moment I finish a chapter, it comes up here :). Anyway, you really had me laughing there - I could totally picture the two of you hacking my laptop, smirking sadistically and cackling maniacally :P.

Chapter 24. Love

'Will you never say such a thing again!' Glinda shouted to Cyara as the girls followed Fiyero out of the sitting room. He had bolted not a clock-tick after hearing the scream, and the two blondes weren't far behind. 'You're jinxing us!'

'Well, I'm sorry!' Cyara snapped back. 'I didn't mean to!'

Fiyero, naturally, got there first. He spun around, searching for anything that might be wrong, but he found nothing. The room looked completely normal.

He turned towards Elphaba in the bed. She had stopped screaming, but was still trembling violently, and he crawled onto the bed next to her, tentatively touching her arm. 'Fae?'

She jerked her arm away, whimpering. 'Don't touch me!' she suddenly yelled. 'Don't you dare touch me, you creepy old witch!' Only then did he realise that she was still asleep.

'It's okay,' he told Glinda and Cyara, who had come running in after him. Relief was written all over his face. 'She's just having a nightmare.'

Cyara let out a breath and Glinda sighed. 'I was already mentally preparing myself for another creepy binding spell, or Morrible's ghost haunting the bedroom, or… I don't know… Morrible coming back to life once again.'

Cyara elbowed her hard in the stomach. 'What did we just say about jinxing?'

Glinda's eyes widened. 'Oh! I'm sorry!'

They only shut up once Fiyero glared at them. Glinda cleared her throat. 'Um, yes. Well, if Elphie is okay, we'll just… um… go.' She pushed Cyara out of the room and quickly followed.

Elphaba suddenly started squirming. 'No! Fiyero!' she cried, and he shook her gently in an attempt to rouse her. 'Fae? Fae, calm down, it's me.' He brushed her hair away from her face and tried to wake her. 'Fae?'

Suddenly, her eyes opened and she gave a yelp, shooting up, putting one hand over her heart. 'Oz, Fiyero! You scared the living daylights out of me!'

He let out an incredulous laugh. 'I scared the living daylights out of you? Are you serious?'

She chuckled softly and lay back down. He wrapped his arms around her, nuzzling her cheek. 'You okay?'

'Mm-mh,' she murmured, snuggling closer to his chest. 'It was just a nightmare.'

'Judging by your screams, it must have been one hell of a nightmare.'

She looked up at him. 'Did I scream?' she asked, blinking up at him. He nodded and she sighed. 'I'm sorry, Yero… I didn't mean to scare you again,' she apologised, and she could feel his soft chuckle vibrating in his chest. 'I know. Yet you keep on doing so, Miss Commotion.'

She stuck out her tongue. 'Yeah, well, I hope it's over now.' She sighed. 'It is, isn't it? Over? Morrible isn't gonna drop from the sky again to kill us, is she?'

He laughed and kissed the top of her head. 'I certainly hope not.'

She huffed. 'And otherwise I'll just once again have to kick her giant fat-'

'I get the message,' Fiyero interrupted her drily, and she let out one of her rare giggles.

He carefully moved his one hand to her waist, gingerly resting it on top of the tight bandage one of the doctors had applied around her ribcage, to support her broken ribs. 'Does it hurt?'

She shrugged. 'I've been through worse.'

He thought of the torture in the dungeons and of Morrible's binding spell, and he made a face. 'Yeah… I guess you could say that.'

She rested her head against his chest and closed her eyes, allowing the steady sound of his heartbeat to lull her back to sleep.

'Fellow Ozians!'

Glinda looked around the small square, smiling at the many, many people gathered there. They were all looking up at her expectantly, and she beamed at them.

'As you might have noticed, the Emerald Palace is being rebuild,' she said. 'Construction of a new Palace has begun, and with a little help from our fellow Ozians and perhaps a tiny little spell here and there,' she smiled and a few people laughed. 'We expect it to be ready within a year.'

The people cheered and clapped, and Glinda waited patiently until the noise died down again. 'Also,' she continued, 'I'm happy to announce that my dearest friend, Elphaba Thropp, is now safe and recovering fast from everything she has been through.' She leaned over the balcony, locking eyes with each and every person below her. 'She's been through so much,' she said quietly. 'She's lost so much, she has been hurt so many times… only recently, Morrible had put her under a spell; fortunately, we managed to break it, but magic almost always comes with a cost.' Her gaze grew even more serious. 'Some of you might have seen Morrible on the Emerald Square, after I told you of her demise,' she said quietly. 'It wasn't her ghost; it really was her. We were forced to bring her back in order to save Elphaba's life.'

The crowd buzzed in surprise and slight anxiety, but Glinda held up a hand to silence them. 'Don't worry, she is gone again now. For good this time.' She felt Athul's presence behind her, which calmed her; she reached out a hand behind her, without looking back, and he took it and squeezed it slightly, giving her the strength to go on.

'Elphaba has fought Morrible,' she said quietly. 'And she won. We almost lost her in the process, and Prince Fiyero, too, for Morrible had cast a spell on him… but we won, and they both survived. Fellow Ozians… I know you have been misled in the past,' she said. 'And I know you find it difficult to trust Elphie, because you've been led to believe that she was wicked for all these years. You have no idea how badly I wish I could change that.'

She swallowed. 'Elphie fought Morrible, but not just for herself or for her friends… but for you as well. I think you should know that.'

Again, murmurs from the crowd. Glinda looked more solemn than any of them had ever seen her. 'Some of us wanted Elphaba to run,' she said. 'To go into hiding again. Some of us even suggested she promised Morrible that she could rule Oz, in exchange for the old witch leaving Elphaba alone.' Her blue eyes were piercing as she looked down at her people. 'She never considered it for a clock-tick,' she said quietly. 'In fact, she got mad at the mere suggestion. Because she knew that if Morrible would get to rule Oz, she would destroy it. She would slaughter the Animals and suppress the people, and she would make you grovel at her feet. Elphaba wants to protect you all, to keep you safe… she cares about each and every single one of you, even though none of you have ever even cared a twig about her.'

Now they shifted uncomfortably. Glinda smiled.

'Fortunately, that's all behind us now,' she continued. 'We won, and as her best friend, I am so, so proud of her.' She half-turned towards the open balcony doors. 'So I'm asking you now,' she said softly, 'to open up your hearts to her. To see her for who she really is, instead of seeing her the way other people made you see her. And to give her all your love, because she deserves that. If not for the beautiful person I know she is, then for saving you from a horrible fate and never turning her back on you, no matter what.' She let her gaze drift across the crowd before announcing in a louder voice, 'Please welcome my best friend, Elphaba Thropp!'

When the dark-haired witch stepped onto the balcony, everyone was dead silent. She was still limping and she was leaning on Fiyero for support, his arm securely around her waist and their fingers laced together – she was just happy that no one could see that she was actually nearly crushing Fiyero's hand. Last time, it had been even worse to get out onto this balcony and face all these people; but just because now was easier, didn't necessarily make it easy in itself. She still hated the attention, but she knew it had to be done.

She stepped outside, ebony hair blowing softly in the breeze, chocolate brown eyes taking in the people slightly warily. Fiyero stayed by her side, his back straight and his jaw set, ready to protect Elphaba from whatever might happen. A part of Elphaba expected another shooter to step up to try and kill her, but of course, Boq was still in prison, and no one else stepped forward. Instead, they just stared at her, making her feel decidedly uncomfortable.

But then, it happened. One of them, a woman with a little girl by her side, stepped forward. Her eyes locked with Elphaba's and the green girl was stunned to see nothing but respect and gratefulness inside of them. 'Thank you, Elphaba,' she said softly, but loud enough for everyone to hear. 'Thank you for saving us.'

Another person, a teenage boy, started to clap. Slowly, but clearly audible, his gaze fixed on Elphaba. The woman joined him almost immediately, and then her small daughter did, too; and before they knew it, every single person on the square in front of Glinda's mansion was clapping. The teenage boy whistled on his fingers, and the crowd joined him, cheering and clapping and screaming her name… Elphaba's name. Her eyes were wide and unblinking as she stared at the people below, fighting back tears. Never before had people accepted her like this. No, they weren't just accepting her; they were loving her. For the first time in her life, she was loved – not just by Fiyero or Glinda, but by people who barely even knew her. People who respected her and loved her for what she had done for them. Finally, after all these years, it felt like they gave her the gratitude Glinda and Fiyero had always told her she deserved.

She felt Fiyero resting his forehead against her temple. 'You okay?' he whispered, and she turned her head slightly to look at him, her eyes huge and brimming with tears. 'They… they love me,' she whispered incredulously, and Fiyero laughed and kissed her nose. 'They should have started doing that ages ago.'

The people cheered even harder when they saw the couple together, and much to Elphaba's shock, Fiyero slid his arms around her, drawing her closer, and slowly kissed her. The Ozians nearly lost it, Glinda – who was standing next to them – and Cyara – who was lingering in the doorway – were swooning 'Aw!', and Elphaba swatted at Fiyero's chest. 'Not in front of everyone!'

His grin only widened. 'They love you, Fae.'

A slightly goofy and positively beaming grin of her own immediately spread across her face, illuminating her beauty for everyone to see. 'They do, don't they?'

'They do.' He rested his fingers under her chin and kissed her again. 'And so do I.'

The people went crazy again, and as if that was his cue. Athul stepped forward. 'People of Oz,' he began. 'In these past weeks, a lot has happened. The Wizard has left, Morrible has been marked as a traitor, the Wicked Witch turned out not being so bad after all…' He winked at Elphaba, and she rolled her eyes at him, but she was smiling. A few people laughed.

'But,' he continued, 'through all of that, there was your new ruler: Lady Glinda the Good.'

More cheers from the crowd.

'Though I agree that Elphaba deserves your love and applause more than anyone in this world,' he said gravely, looking at the people, 'I am also very proud of my Glinda, for being everyone's rock in these times of need. Everyone's rock, but especially mine. And therefore,' in one swift movement, he pulled a small box from his pocket and knelt down upon one knee, making all the Ozians – and his friends as well – gasp, 'I want to ask her a very important question.'

Glinda's face flushed a bright pink and she fanned her face with her hand.

'Glinda, my love,' Athul said, eyes locking with hers. 'Will you marry me?'

Everyone went dead silent. The Ozians stood on their tiptoes in anticipation. Cyara was covering her mouth with both hands and silently bouncing up and down with excitement, and Elphaba cuddled a little closer to Fiyero, both of them smiling as they looked at their friends.

Glinda, however, seemed ready to faint.

'Iiiiiieeeeh…' she squealed. Then she started bouncing up and down, sending her curls flying and her tiara slowly sliding off her head. 'Iiiiiiiieeeeeehh!'

Everyone was laughing now. 'You do realise that's not an answer, don't you?' asked Elphaba drily, grinning at her friend, and Glinda punched her arm. 'Shut up, Elphie.' Then she turned back towards Athul. She opened and closed her mouth a few times, then let out another, 'Iiiiieeeh!' and turned back to Elphaba. 'He just asked me to marry him!'

'I know, Glin,' Elphaba said in obvious amusement. 'I was there. He's waiting for an answer, you know.'

Glinda suddenly looked extremely panicky. 'But… But what should I say?' she hissed at Elphaba, who laughed. 'Try 'yes',' she suggested, chuckling. 'Well, you could try 'no' if you really don't want to marry him, but I'm guessing you do. Don't you?'

'I do!'

'Then turn around and say yes.'

Glinda nodded nervously. 'Okay.' She turned back around to look at Athul, and a dreamy and goofy smile spread across her face. Then she started bouncing again. 'Yes!'

Everyone started cheering louder than ever before, and Athul slipped the golden ring around Glinda's finger and rose to his feet. Glinda flung herself at him, throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him deeply, and he spun her around.

It took a long while for the excitement to die down, but finally, the Ozians left back home and the friends went back inside again. They were freezing by then – the wind outside was very cold and they were all dressed in clothes that were suitable for being presented to the people, but not exactly for standing in the cold for hours. Athul fetched them all blankets and both couples snuggled underneath a blanket together, leaving Cyara with a blanket of her own. They all sat down by the fireplace in Glinda's sitting room. Athul settled for a comfortable armchair, with Glinda making herself comfortable in his lap, the blanket securely around them; Cyara stretched out on the couch, not really minding the fact that she had it all to herself now, as Fiyero and Elphaba settled down on the floor in front of the fireplace. Fiyero tugged the blanket closer around them both and tried to rub some warmth into Elphaba's fingers as she snuggled closer into his embrace. She sighed. 'I wish this could last forever.'

They were all silent for a moment, pondering the happenings of the past years, before Cyara spoke up quietly. 'Who knows? Maybe it could. Maybe… maybe it will.'

'I hope so,' said Glinda softly, leaning her head against Athul's shoulder. The man raised his eyebrows at Fiyero. 'So, what about you, your Highness?' he teased him. 'Surely now that Glinda and I are going to be married, you and Elphaba can't stay far behind now can you?'

Fiyero grinned at him, pulling Elphaba closer. 'We won't.'

Elphaba looked at him with one eyebrow raised. 'Oh?'

He laughed and kissed her. The others went back to their conversation; only Cyara, ever observant, saw the small but distinctly box-shaped lump in the pocket of his pants.

She smiled. Perhaps now, after all this time, they would finally have their happily ever after.

'I, Fiyero Hamold Tiggular,' he smiled down at her as he took her hand, lacing his fingers with hers and squeezing them slightly, 'hereby take you, Elphaba Thropp, to be my lawfully wedded wife. I will love and cherish you forever, Fae, because that is what you deserve. I love you, and I promise to stay by your side forever, if you'll let me.'

She smiled back at him, her chocolate eyes filled with emotional tears – much to her own dismay. She took a deep breath and took the ring, sliding it around Fiyero's finger.

'I, Elphaba Melena Thropp, hereby take you, Fiyero Tiggular, to be my lawfully wedded husband. I will always save you, in any way you might need saving, because you have saved me so many times before. I love you, Yero, more than anything in this world or another; you are my light and my life, and I will never, ever let you go again.'

The priest seemed to be slightly surprised by the fact that the couple changed his vows into vows of their own, but he just looked at them with a soft smile, spread his arms, and boomed, 'I know pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.'

Slowly, Fiyero took Elphaba's veil and draped it back over her head, revealing her face. He placed his hand in her neck and she leaned up to him, and their lips met in a sweet, loving kiss.

Every single person present in the ballroom of the brand new Emerald Palace cheered with joy, and confetti sprayed all around the room. With a smile on his face that he was sure would never fade again, Fiyero led his wife – his wife! – to the dance floor, ready to dance the first dance with her.

There were hundreds and hundreds of people there, but as the music started to play and he drew her closer, allowing her to look into his sapphire eyes, it was like all those people faded away, like the world only existed of her and Fiyero.

He leaned down to rest his forehead against hers. 'Are you happy?' he whispered.

She smiled at him, tears once again brimming in her eyes. All her life, she had barely cried; but the rare times she had, they had been tears of hurt or grief or pain. Now, for the first time in her life, she was experiencing tears of happiness – and she found that she suddenly didn't mind the tears so much anymore.

'Yes,' she whispered back, tracing his cheek and jaw with her slim fingers. 'I love you.'

He kissed her fingers. 'I love you, too.'

That night, Fiyero carried her upstairs bridal style – insisting on doing it the proper way – and into their bedroom, helping her out of her huge ball gown. She huffed as she wiggled herself free from the heavy fabric. 'Seems like Glinda got me into a ball gown after all. Though I prefer her just buying one for me over her nearly poking me in the eye with her training wand and yelling 'BALL GOWN!' into my face.'

Fiyero cocked his head to the side curiously. 'Before my time?'

'Actually, no,' she said with a chuckle. 'The night you arrived. After Glin and I became friends.'

He laughed. 'Well, that I wasn't there, doesn't mean I can't picture it.' He drew her into his arms again, kissing her softly. 'But I would love to see you wearing ball gowns more often,' he murmured.

She smiled against his lips. 'Anything for you, Yero.'

He pulled back, surprised. 'Really? You'd even wear ball gowns for me?' he teased her, but her gaze was serious and sincere when she looked back at him with those unreadable huge dark eyes of hers. 'I'd do anything for you. You know that.'

He pressed her closer to him and kissed her deeply in reply, and she wound her arms around his neck. He lifted her into his arms and carried her to the bed. She looked up into his eyes. 'I love you, husband.'

A broad, goofy smile lit up his face, and he kissed her again. 'I love you too, my wife.'

Later, when they were lying huddled in the blankets together, legs entwined, Elphaba comfortably tucked against Fiyero's chest, she looked up at him. 'Yero?'

He was trailing soft, slow circles on her bare back. 'Hm?'

'Do you think…' She swallowed. 'Do you think we're safe now?' she asked quietly. 'I mean… It's just… so much has happened, and I just can't shake the feeling that…'

'That something will go wrong again?' he guessed, feeling the exact same way himself, and she nodded softly. 'Yes… sooner or later.'

He looked thoughtful as he continued to trace patterns on her back and down her spine, making her shiver. 'Perhaps,' he said finally. 'Only time will tell. But Fae…' He shifted a little to get a better look at her. 'I believe now that, whatever happens… we can handle it.'

She smiled softly. 'Together?'

'Together,' he agreed, drawing her back into his arms, pressing butterfly kisses to her throat. 'And if it's up to me, we'll always be together.'

'Always,' she echoed softly, melting into his touch. 'We'll be together for as long as you're mine.'

He looked down into her eyes and slowly lowered his lips towards hers, kissing her deeply. 'And I'll be yours forever,' he whispered.

She smiled and kissed him back, looking into his eyes for a moment, their foreheads and noses touching. 'Then we have nothing to worry about.'

I hope you liked that ending.

Each and every single one of you, thank you soooooo much - for reading, reviewing, following or adding the story to your favourites, THANK YOU. I love you all. Not in a creepy way. I promise. *cackles* *curtsies* Until we meet again, my pretties! (Speaking of which - I just started a new story. Aren't I horrible? It's called Wonderwomen and I'll be updating it alongside Shadows for a while. Heheh.)

Your Ultimate (Evil) Queen of Cliffies,