Title: Something Most Odd
Fandom: Wicked – mix of book and musical, though I’ve never actually seen the latter
Archiving: This will be at www.realmoftheshadow.com/harper.htm with the rest of my drivel. Thanks to Kim for hosting it.
Disclaimer: I do not own them. I suppose I own the things they do here, but I don’t make any profit from it so I’m not sure what that gains me.
A/N: This is un-beta’d. All mistakes are mine. Galinda and Elphaba couldn’t decide if they belonged in the bookverse or the musicalverse, so they tend to hop back and forth between the two. If you have anything to say about it, I’ll be at Xfjnky2@yahoo.com. I hope you enjoy.
It was most irritating, Galinda decided, to be infatuated with someone so decidedly odd.
For example, instead of doing something about her dreadfully dull, unpainted nails or actually owning a wardrobe that she could look through to try and find something better than the torn and tattered frock she always wore, Elphaba was instead reading. Ahead.
“Miss Elphaba, we haven’t even been assigned those chapters yet,” Galinda whined, the crisp flick of a new page almost driving her to rip the book from her roommate’s hands and set it alight with her candle.
In response, Elphaba merely shot her a haughty, slightly arrogant glance before deliberately turning back to her book, brows furrowed with a concentration that seemed even more intense than before. The dismissal made Galinda wiggle about on her bed in frustration, punctuating her irritation with sighs and overly dramatic, angry looks.
Though Elphaba ignored the antics for as long as she could, Galinda had never been a girl who was used to (or okay with) being ignored, and so she increased her efforts. In turn, after enduring as much as she could, Elphaba gave an aggrieved sigh, very carefully marked her place with a bookmark and closed the book, setting it aside. “Yes?” she asked expectantly, arching a brow Galinda’s way. “You obviously want something.”
Suddenly shy, not having actually expected to garner Elphaba’s full attention with her posturing, Galinda murmured, “I thought maybe we could talk. Or something.”
Elphaba’s brow seemed to arch even higher as a smirk brought out dimples in her cheeks that Galinda found mesmerizing. “You want to talk. About what, Miss Galinda?”
The words were uttered with a sly, sarcastic mocking that Galinda chose to ignore. Instead she pasted on her brightest smile, voice sweeter than saffron cream as she said, “Why, whatever you want to talk about, Miss Elphaba. You’re the one who knows all there is to know about the important happenings in Oz. I’m sure you can think of an appropriate topic of conversation.”
“Very well then, Miss Galinda. There has been something troubling me as of late, so perhaps the opportunity for debate of the issue is exactly what I need.” Elphaba paused, smirk shifting into a wicked smile. “I read the most interested article in the newspaper the other day. I’m sure you’re aware of the Wizard’s campaign to curtail the rights of Animals? Of course you are. Even you couldn’t be unaware of it.”
Galinda frowned for a moment. Then she remembered how the expression made her look and pictured herself developing wrinkles and promptly stopped. “I said talk, Miss Elphaba, not mock.”
“Very well,” Elphaba allowed, though the twinkle in her eyes was still bordering on the line between mischievous and malevolent. “The article explored in some depth what would happen to those in human/Animal marriages if the Wizard is successful in his vendetta. Do you have any thoughts on the matter you would care to share, Miss Galinda?”
Galinda was proud of the way she managed to keep her face impassive as her mind raced. This was what Elphaba wanted to discuss? Sweet Oz, but she was destined to say something horribly wrong, and not even mean it.
“I’m not sure what part of that begs my comment, Miss Elphaba,” she said instead, smiling guilelessly. “The Wizard’s plans? Human/Animal marriage rights? The potential impact the Wizard’s plans might have on human/Animal marriage rights?”
Elphaba gestured expansively, the flickering light from the candle throwing her face into dancing shadows made almost ominous by the full darkness that had descended outside of the rather small window into which, that night at least, moonlight did not shine. “You may take your pick, Miss Galinda. I anxiously await hearing your thoughts on any of the matters you mentioned.”
Despite herself, Galinda frowned slightly. She was not well known for her stellar track record when it came to the treatment of Animals, though she had definitely begun to see the error of her ways after the incident on the train with Dr. Dillamond. And Elphaba… well, Elphaba was nothing if not a well known and staunch supporter of Animal rights. One probably intently sensitive to any verbal missteps, the kind Galinda seemed almost doomed to make.
“I think,” Galinda said slowly, carefully, “that the Wizard is wrong.” She paused, knowing that her words were painfully simplistic and expecting Elphaba to laugh at her at any moment. “I think that it’s easy to marginalize and ostracize Animals because they’re so different. I think he’s afraid of what they represent. If sentience isn’t a solely human quality, then perhaps that means we’re not the only things in Oz who deserve to have a say in how it’s run. And, if that’s true, then they represent a threat to his power.”
“Well,” Elphaba drawled, “you’ve managed to scratch the surface, at least.”
Galinda glared, but fought the urge to throw her pillow at Elphaba. “And as for the other… I believe that if you love someone, you should be able to be with them. Human or Animal,” she said pointedly, “so if this has all been your sly way of telling me you’re having an affair with Dr. Dillamond, then I’m sorry you won’t get to have the satisfaction of throwing a colossal tantrum over my intolerance.”
At that, Elphaba snorted. “This newly cosmopolitan attitude of yours is very convenient, Miss Galinda. Is revolution the new fashion?”
“Are you really having an affair with Dillamond?” Galinda challenged in return, smiling slightly as she mentally etched a one under her name on the chalkboard in her mind.
If Elphaba had been prone to rolling her eyes, she would have indulged in the expression at that moment. “Dr. Dillamond is in love with science. I wouldn’t stand a chance of tempting him away from it. Besides,” she scoffed, “I thought you wanted to talk, not gossip.”
“Gossip is talking, just with a different purpose than the one you’re used to,” Galinda huffed, though she continued to smile. “But, I want you to know that I was serious. I meant what I said.”
Elphaba narrowed her eyes shrewdly, mouth twitching. “So, you would marry an Animal, then, if you met one who caught your eye?”
“My eye has already been caught,” Galinda blurted before thinking, blushing as she realized just what she had admitted.
Elphaba snickered, absently falling into gossip without realizing it. “Boq?”
Galinda blushed even more deeply, thinking of the adorably cute Munchkinlander who, despite her better judgment, had managed to distract her for a small while. “No, not Boq.”
Elphaba quirked a dark brow in surprise. “Not Avaric, then?”
“I should think not.”
“Is beyond blissfully happy with Tibbett, and I would never dare to intrude.”
“Married. Also, a little too shy for me.”
Elphaba smirked again, eyes dancing in the flickering candlelight. “Shenshen?”
Galinda barely resisted the urge to gasp. “Miss Elphaba, you have lost your mind.” She paused, frowning slightly, “Do you honestly think I could like…”
“A woman?” Elphaba interrupted, voice harsh with challenge.
Galinda’s frown deepened, irritation clear in her voice as she said loudly, as if to override Elphaba’s words, “Someone who is undoubtedly even more high maintenance than I am. Honestly, were we to even think of romantic engagement with one another, I believe we would begin to fight over which one of us was more fabulous before we could even really get to any of the good stuff.”
Elphaba’s quiet cackle sent a shiver down Galinda’s spine. “The good stuff, Miss Galinda? I’m intrigued. What does that entail, for a girl like you?”
“A girl like me?” Galinda murmured demurely. “Holding hands, I suppose.” Then she paused, giving Elphaba a rather devilish look. “At first, at least, until there are kisses. If the kisses are good enough, over time I imagine there will be touches. And then more intimate touches, given that they’re done appropriately. Do I really need to go into specifics here, Miss Elphaba?”
Galinda would have loved to have laughed at the look on her roommate’s face, confused and shocked and begrudgingly intrigued, but she didn’t want to spoil the moment. So instead she sat in silence, though her grin was so wide it almost encompassed her entire face.
Elphaba huffed, then narrowed her eyes. “So, if not Shenshen, then I doubt it’s Pfannee who has caught your eye. I’ll confess that I’m at a loss, Miss Galinda. Who else do you know?”
Galinda nibbled her lower lip mischievously. “You’re a smart girl, Miss Elphaba. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”
* * * * * *
Elphaba looked from the shiny apple sitting proudly and prominently on her pillow to Galinda, who was studiously painting her nails and avoiding her roommate’s gaze.
“Miss Galinda?” she murmured questioningly, picking up the apple and looking at it speculatively.
Sighing in exasperation, using the edge of her nail to correct a slight mis-swipe of polish, Galinda said, “It isn’t poisoned or anything, Miss Elphaba. Do I really seem like the kind of girl who would poison you?”
“Not especially,” Elphaba allowed. “Then again, you don’t seem like the kind of girl to be leaving apples on my pillow, either.”
“Apparently you’ve forgotten just how nice I am, then. I’m always doing nice things for people, Miss Elphaba. Why should I not do nice things for you?”
Elphaba couldn’t think of a non-derogatory reply so instead gave the apple a tentative nibble, still watching Galinda warily as if she were secretly a tiger disguised as a bubbly, oft times scatterbrained and clueless university student.
Later, when the apple was reduced down to its core and discarded and Elphaba was reading by the light of a candle, arms bare in her sleeveless nightgown, Galinda rolled over onto her side and stared at her roommate unabashedly. Elphaba’s hair was so dark of a black that it seemed to absorb light into it and release it in a bright shine of glossy color, a sort of reverse rainbow. It was long, wild over her shoulders in the few moments a day that it was loose from its braid. Galinda always secretly treasured those moments, when Elphaba pulled the messy, loose strands down around her shoulders before brushing them quickly, roughly, capturing all of the unruliness created by the listless tossing and turning of the night before and ruthlessly regimenting everything back to order. And then soon after the ubiquitous braid would be back, hanging in a thick rope down her back.
There was something about Elphaba with her hair down that made Galinda feel a fluttering in her belly. Down, her hair framed Elphaba’s face in a way that made her look like an exotic temptress. Her lashes seemed longer and thicker, shading mysterious dark eyes that held secrets and promises. The sharp planes of her cheeks and the cutting jut of her chin became an inviting adventure in the architecture of skin and bone instead of cruel, harsh and unforgiving features that inadvertently combined to create a fearsome visage.
With her hair pulled back in its customary braid, Elphaba looked severe. And intense. And, sometimes, slightly scary.
It was just her face, though, Galinda mused, as the rest of Elphaba could never be considered scary. If anything, scrawny was more appropriate, given her thin, muscular arms, prominent collarbone, and the slight cradle of her pelvis visible where it pushed up against the worn fabric of her nightdress. Galinda had never really seen more than that, though if the moon shone through the window at just the right angle, she could catch a glimpse of the ridge of Elphaba’s ribs and the slight slope of her breasts.
Galinda wasn’t entirely sure what it was about the entire package that fascinated her so.
Neither, apparently, was Elphaba. “I fail to see what you find so fascinating, Miss Galinda.”
Jumping, a desperate hint of paranoia rushing through her as she wondered whether she’d spoken aloud or if Elphaba had simply spontaneously developed a talent for mind-reading, Galinda said, voice high-pitched and squeaky, “I’m sorry, Miss Elphaba?”
Closing her book and placing it gently to the side, Elphaba swung her legs up and in so that she was hunched over herself, arms wrapped around her shins and chin buried in her knees. “Since you have been staring at me for the past quarter hour, I assume you have found something fascinating enough to hold your attention for so long a span. I was merely letting you know that I fail to see what it is that could have done so.”
Deciding that she was far too discombobulated to think of an appropriate lie, Galinda instead used a half-truth. “I was merely thinking that you should wear your hair down more often, Miss Elphaba. It’s really quite beautiful that way, and that braid is so plain. And, quite frankly, overdone. A girl should have more than one hairstyle.”
Frowning slightly, pulling the braid over her shoulder to examine the end of it and drawn into conversation despite herself, Elphaba muttered, “It’s really more practical this way.”
“Practical!” Galinda cried, springing up off of her bed and across the room before she could stop herself. “Miss Elphaba, practicality has nothing to do with fashion. Let me…”
And then her fingers were undoing the braid, slipping through the silky strands of inky black hair before Elphaba really had a chance to protest. She took much longer than was necessary combing through Elphaba’s hair, but Galinda honestly couldn’t believe that her irritable and private roommate was allowing her the liberty.
“There,” Galinda finally said, voice subdued and strained as she looked at Elphaba, hair draped alluringly across the back of her neck and down over one shoulder, “absolutely beautiful. You are beautiful, Miss Elphaba.”
She realized belatedly that she was standing much too close, having somehow insinuated herself in between the spread of Elphaba’s thighs. And now their noses were inches apart, and Elphaba’s eyes were narrowed and shrewd and dark. Her mind whirled, and she told herself to take a step back, far enough so that they weren’t sharing the same air, but instead she reached up to tuck Elphaba’s hair behind her ear, fingers accidentally tracing down the line of the other woman’s jaw as she did so. Then, as if guided by someone else, her fingers continued on their path, brushing lightly over the sharp cut of Elphaba’s collarbone to slide over her sternum.
Elphaba took in a deep, startled breath and Galinda gasped in horror at what she had done, snatching her traitorous hand to her chest and cradling it there.
“Me, Miss Galinda?” Elphaba questioned with hesitant disbelief, and despite the fact that she really wished she didn’t, Galinda knew exactly what the other girl meant.
Taking in a shaky breath, Galinda nodded. “I’m so sorry, Miss Elphaba. I’ll understand if you want to change rooms. Really, I will.”
Elphaba was always hard and brash, and sometimes Galinda thought that her aggressive antisociality was a way to keep others away so that they wouldn’t be allowed to hurt her. Thus, it was most disconcerting to see a shimmering hint of vulnerability in her eyes and a slight sag in her shoulders, as if something inside of her had caved in on itself.
Stumbling backwards, shame painting her cheeks red, Galinda babbled nervously, “Please forgive me, Miss Elphaba. I didn’t mean to make you feel awkward. I should never… I didn’t mean…”
Elphaba’s gaze shot up sharply, pinning Galinda where she was, leaning nervously against her bed. “Is this a trick, Miss Galinda? If so, say so now, before more damage is done.”
“Have I already done damage then, Miss Elphaba?” Galinda asked in a weak voice, sinking down on her mattress with a whimper. She cursed the candle, the moonlight, the very shadows lurking in the corners. All, surely, had played some part in her rash actions, had driven her to betray herself.
Elphaba said nothing. She seemed to be taking her time to examine the issue, and Galinda began to wish that she knew how to be suave and confident enough to either escape the situation or twist it so that it played out in her favor. As it was, she had nothing but the trembling in her legs and the pounding of her heart, and neither provided much in the way of reassurance.
“I do not believe you.”
Elphaba’s stern voice broke through Galinda’s panic.
“Don’t believe me?” she said incredulously.
Nodding emphatically, Elphaba repeated, “I do not believe you.”
Shooting off of the bed in anger, Galinda stalked back over to Elphaba’s side of the room. “You think I’m lying?” she asked with a sharp poke to Elphaba’s bare shoulder.
“I think that you can correctly infer that I believe you’re lying,” Elphaba said evenly, seemingly unphased by Galinda’s anger.
Stomping her foot in frustration, Galinda cried, “Miss Elphaba, I have been flirting with you – blatantly flirting with you. I… I brought you an apple! I played with your hair! I told you I found you beautiful! I talked with you! What more can you expect me to do?”
Elphaba sniffed haughtily. “I am unconvinced. You, along with the Misses Pfannee and Shenshen, seem to take great delight in playing tricks on me. This time, I refuse to play the dupe.”
“You… you…” Galinda sputtered, nearly giving over to the urge to dig her nails into Elphaba’s shoulders and shake some sense into her. But then she thought of something much better.
Hands on each of those sharp cheeks, Galinda caught Elphaba’s lips in a kiss before the other girl had time to divine her intention. Stunned by the sudden move, Elphaba remained motionless under the heavy pressure of Galinda’s lips, the soft flick of her tongue. But, despite her lack of participation, Galinda seemed determined to continue and so, after a moment, Elphaba brought her hands up to rest lightly on Galinda’s waist and parted her lips to return the kiss shyly. Despite that, she was surprised by Galinda’s resulting whimper and the limp sag of her body as she pressed into her.
When Galinda pulled away, her eyes were still closed and her lips parted. “That was… oh,” she gasped, seemingly unable to find the words to describe what she was feeling. “Elphaba,” she continued, unconsciously dropping the honorific as her eyes fluttered open, “that was… that was wonderful.”
Elphaba wasn’t sure what to say, so instead she scowled.
“Oh, don’t tell me you didn’t like it,” Galinda cried breathlessly, the fingers of one hand drifting up to touch her bottom lip reverently. “I shall be most disappointed if that is the case.”
Despite the pull of denial, Elphaba couldn’t make herself believe that Galinda would go so far as to kiss her for the sake of a prank. And so, struggling to keep her voice even, she aimed for droll as she murmured, “I thought you said that hand-holding came first, Miss Galinda.”
Brow furrowing as she tried to make sense of the statement, Galinda finally pulled the whole of the prior conversation from her memory. “Oh, well,” she said shyly, moving so that she was sitting beside Elphaba on her bed, “I suppose those steps weren’t exactly set in stone.”
Looking somewhat intrigued, Elphaba said coolly, “So kisses won’t lead to touches, then?”
Perking up slightly, inching closer and hesitantly reaching out to place her hand over Elphaba’s where it rested on the covers between them, Galinda shrugged guilelessly. “Not unless you want them too, Elphaba. I can call you that, can’t I? And you must call me Galinda. Surely we’ve moved past the formalities.”
Shooting the other girl an arch look, Elphaba said, “I think that I might be persuaded to do so, Galinda.”
There was something about the way Elphaba said her name, the honorific gone and replaced with a rumbling hint of seductive darkness, that made Galinda melt slightly. Sliding her hand under Elphaba’s and twining their fingers together gently, she leaned over, letting their shoulders bump together.
“So can I hope you aren’t too distressed, then,” she asked shyly, looking up at Elphaba from under blonde lashes.
“I am… surprised,” Elphaba admitted honestly. “Past that, I’m not overly disturbed.”
“You need to work on your romance, Elphaba,” Galinda huffed crossly. “A girl doesn’t want to hear that her affections aren’t disturbing. She wants to hear that they’re welcomed, cherished, humbling, a dream come true… something more along those lines.”
Elphaba snorted. “I’m sorry, Galinda. I thought we had met before. Do you remember me ever saying anything so ridiculous as that? A dream come true? Honestly.”
Tightening her fingers as if in warning, Galinda murmured sharply, “You could at least try. Would it kill you?”
Galinda shook her head in irritation, a hint of steely resolve shining in her eyes. “If you continue to be contrary, I’ll simply have to work harder to break you.”
Feeling a bit brave despite herself, Elphaba said smartly, “I should think you wouldn’t want to change me. Don’t you like me the way I am? Is that not why you felt compelled to admit that I am the one who has caught your eye.”
“I could like you better,” Galinda grumped, then kissed her again.
* * * * * *
In the wake of her confession and their shared kisses, Galinda found that she couldn’t be around Elphaba without developing a most acute case of shyness. In the mornings, she was no longer able to watch her favorite Elphaba ritual, that of the brushing out and rebraiding of hair. It was simply too much, especially with the memory of Elphaba the way she had looked that night, with her lips swollen and dark with kisses and her hair shrouding her face in a strange sort of mysterious sensuality.
“Tired already, Miss Galinda?” Elphaba asked, the blandness of her tone instantly alerting Galinda to… something. What she wasn’t sure, but in all the time she’d know her, Elphaba had never been bland.
Straightening up slightly, smoothing down the covers she’d been clutching so tightly in her anxiety that they might be permanently wrinkled, Galinda replied in a small, confused voice, “No?”
Elphaba’s movements were more stiff than usual as she eased herself down onto her bed, knees clasped tightly together and hands a locked prayer in her lap. “I can only imagine you’ve had a long and stressful day.”
Galinda bit her bottom lip in consternation, so suddenly awash in the awkwardness of the moment that she feared she might drown. “Are we back to first day jitters, Miss Elphaba?” she asked with a sigh. “You know full well my day was anything but stressful.”
The downward tilt of Elphaba’s chin lent a pout-ish quality to her glare, and Galinda felt her breath catch in her throat, the unexpected hint of unplanned sex in the expression letting loose a flock of butterflies in her stomach. She had every reason to suspect that the kisses they had shared were Elphaba’s first and knew that her roommate was as far from skilled in the seductive arts as it was possible for one to be, but there was just something about her that was so utterly and completely…
“Captivating,” Galinda said aloud, eyes growing wide and round as soon as she heard the syllables meet air.
“Your day was captivating?”
Galinda wasn’t entirely sure if Elphaba was teasing her or not, but she rather suspected that she wasn’t. There was something about the look in her eyes that was too honest for teasing. There was a hint of shyness there too, and Galinda felt her insides melt the tiniest bit.
“Why must this be so difficult,” she mused.
Elphaba cleared her throat, pursed her lips, and frowned. “This is difficult?”
“No, it’s just…” The next words came out in a rush, but Galinda was helpless to stop them. “Elphie, when do you think we might kiss again? Not to pressure you or rush into anything, but we stumbled into it the once and I’d very much so like to do it again, but I’m not quite sure how one goes about initiating such things…” As quickly as the burst had come, it faded away and she trailed off, cheeks burning bright pink. Mortified, she tried not to look at Elphie’s face, with its single eyebrow arched in either shock or condescension (she wasn’t sure quite which), and lips turned up either in a smile or a scowl.
Elphie was quiet for a long moment, and Galinda thought she might cry in regret of ever having spoken. “I suppose,” the green girl said finally, hesitantly, “that you might take some sort of cosmetic pleasure in experimenting with different hairstyles, with me as your model for once instead of yourself.”
Galinda was smart enough to know exactly what was being said. Elphie probably couldn’t have been less excited about the prospect of elaborate new hairstyles than she would a glittery pink gown, so what she was offering was explicit permission. Permission that Galinda would have to take advantage of, naturally, which placed her in exactly the one position she didn’t want to be… in charge. When she’d been kissed before, Galinda had always been the recipient. Boys wanted her, pined after her, and schemed of ways to win her favor. She was always appropriately demure, with coy smiles hidden behind her small hands and the ability to opine later that she’d simply been caught off guard. The notion that she’d ever be put in the position of outright pursuit was almost laughable.
Or, it would have been, had she not taken in a deep breath, pushed herself up off her mattress, and walked as slowly as she could manage until she was standing directly in front of Elphaba, silently willing the girl to step up and make a move
It wasn’t going to happen, she decided, and tried to ignore the way her hand trembled slightly as she reached up to brush her fingers along Elphie’s hairline, soft strands of inky black hair almost ticklish against her fingertips. Acutely conscious of her ever so stylish and quite transparent ivory gossamer robe and the matching silk chemise beneath it, she tried to imagine she was confident and daring and bold as she leaned even closer, hand brushing down the thick rope of Elphie’s braid to undo the rough bit of leather holding the whole thing together.
“I’m almost certain this is your job, Elphie,” she murmured as she began to separate the braids with her fingers, slowly combing through the other girl’s hair over and over until it was a nearly crackling curtain flowing freely down her back.
Trying not to be lulled to sleep by the rhythmic scrapes of Galinda’s short nails against her scalp, Elphaba pulled herself together long enough to murmur a noncommittal, “Hmm?”
“It’s just that,” Galinda started, then paused, taking another tentative step forward and gently easing into the tiny vee of space created by the instinctive parting of Elphaba’s legs, “I’ve never known you to shy away from being in charge of a situation.”
Elphaba’s resulting smile was rueful, voice wry as she muttered, “True. But then again, I usually know what I’m doing.”
“I’d say you did quite well the other night,” Galinda blurted before thinking, face immediately flushing bright red.
“Beginner’s luck, my pretty,” Elphaba replied with a hint of a smirk, hands coming to rest gingerly on Galinda’s hips. “I make no guarantees.”
Easing another step closer, outer thighs brushing against the inside of Elphaba’s, pushing up the thick black nightgown as she went so that green knees were almost visible, Galinda sighed. “Why must this be so difficult?”
“Because it’s no small thing, Miss Galinda. I don’t think I could handle being taken lightly.” Elphaba tried to keep the quiver from her voice. She was not overly given to emotion, particularly when the emotion in question wasn’t anger or rage, but given the arm’s length at which she’d been kept her entire life, she had no vocabulary suited for dealing with something that might be turning into… something more than she was prepared to contemplate at that moment.
Galinda’s palm was on Elphie’s cheek before she even noticed the impulse to place it there. But it was the way the other girl instinctively turned into it, the move one of familiarity and comfort that somehow eased the transition from standing to straddling Elphie’s lap.
Instinctively falling back on her elbows, finding herself with Galinda looming over her with a naughty sort of mischief sparkling in her eyes, Elphaba cackled softly. “I see you’re much better at this than me.”
Smiling softly down at Elphaba, thoroughly enchanted by the uncharacteristic look of uncertainty on her face, Galinda whispered, “This is no small thing, Elphie. Not to me.”
When Galinda’s lips met hers, Elphie unconsciously reclined back, sinking into her bedding. She didn’t notice, as intent as she was on the perfect pink lips moving against hers with a delicate sort of precision, until Galinda reflexively settled herself against Elphaba’s spare frame more comfortably.
“Much better,” she murmured again, long fingers skimming past the delicate curve of Galinda’s hips on their way to her waist.
The ties to her nightgown had been undone, the fabric pushed to the side by fingers set on tentative exploration, and the candle had melted down to a guttering flame before Elphaba recovered the wherewithal to speak again. “Miss Galinda, I think it would be best if we stopped.”
Galinda did stop for a second, but only to enjoy the breathless quality of Elphaba’s voice. It was normally so stern that to hear it with the muted tremor of desire running through it set her heart to racing even faster.
“And why is that?” she questioned, painting the sharp juncture where Elphaba’s slim neck met her collarbone with soft, languorous kisses.
Elphaba’s fingers contracted involuntarily, though she hadn’t quite realized just where she’d left them until she heard Galinda’s moan. So, carefully prying them from an all too tempting backside, she said roughly, “Because very soon, I might not be able to.”
“Oh my,” Galinda murmured, pausing for a moment. Resting her face in the crook of Elphaba’s neck, she took in a deep breath, eyes fluttering shut at the mixed trace of lavender and vanilla infused with a hint of something unmistakably Elphaba. It was a mistake, really, as it brought to vivid color a barely remembered dream she’d had only a few nights before – small white hands smoothing shimmering liquid against shining green skin, Elphaba writing beneath her as she pressed her fingers into wiry muscle. “That is indeed no small thing, Miss Elphaba.”
Something about the tone of Galinda’s voice, or maybe it was simply her nerves, brought forth an uncharacteristic giggle.
Galinda, for her part, ignored it. “Despite my better judgment, I might have to agree with you,” she mused. “As much as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the events leading up to this point, I’m not sure I’m ready for the inevitable conclusion.”
“Inevitable?” Elphaba drawled, voice as full of sarcasm as it was question.
Elphaba was intensely aware of the way Galinda’s hips pressed even more firmly against her own as the other girl pushed up to her hands, ringlets falling over her shoulders as she glared down. “This is not the time for teasing, Elphie,” she said crossly, emphasizing her words with a sharp flick of her curls.
Brow arched in amusement, Elphaba murmured, “I was merely commenting on your presumption.”
“I don’t really think it’s that much of one,” came the muttered reply, as Galinda’s eyes flicked down to the panels of Elphie’s nightgown, currently spread wide to reveal a great deal of green skin. She was a bit surprised to see just how great the results of her passion were, having gotten to a point she hadn’t anticipated with a little more speed than expected. Suddenly a little shy, though hiding it behind all of the bravado she could muster, Galinda looked at Elphie meaningfully.
Elphaba thought about flicking her nightgown closed, and not only because she knew it would irritate Galinda. Instead, with her head no longer swirling from the feel of Galinda’s lips on her, she remembered her skin and just how much of it was exposed. Not exposing her skin was one of the main reasons why she covered up as much of it as was humanly possible on a day-to-day basis, and so laying there brazenly baring it for Galinda to see made her suddenly, and quite angrily, shy.
Though she wasn’t always known for her ability to perceive (or really, even pay attention to) the emotions of others, Galinda was watching Elphaba’s face closely enough to see the change. Her dark eyes had been a bit hazy, or at the very least not as sharp as usual, until the sharpness had returned, bringing with it a narrowing. The narrowing, in turn, brought with it the pursing of lips and the clenching of jaws, and Galinda sighed.
“Don’t be difficult, Elphie,” she said, leaning down to place a soft kiss on Elphaba’s lips, now set in a rigid frown. Continuing on until she was snuggled on top of the other girl again, face pressing into a green neck and arms wrapped tightly around wiry shoulders, Galinda subtly informed Elphaba of her intention to stay.
* * * * * *
Galinda had never been known for rushing back to her room after classes and dinner were over. She was more of a socializer – some might even go so far as to say social butterfly – and had been known to hold court with the Misses Shenshen and Pfannee for hours, the three taking pains to hand out bon mots as if they were prophecies from the lips of saints.
Thus, Galinda found the fact that she had eschewed her customary practice to return to her room immediately following dinner for the past week to be extremely confusing. There were forces actively at work inside of her, constantly bickering and pointing out to her the potential social ruin she was facing, but she couldn’t bring herself to sit around gracing others with her fabulousness for hours on end anymore and it was all her contrary roommate’s fault.
Elphaba had started wearing her hair down.
Not in public, of course. Galinda doubted she’d ever be seen outside of their room with the raven locks in anything other than the strictest of braids. But, when she’d come in from dinner on the night that had changed her socializing patterns for good, Elphaba had been propped up in her bed reading, nightgown already on, and hair wild and free about her shoulders.
Galinda had thought it most unfair.
She’d also been so frustrated she’d almost cried. “Oh, Elphie,” she had said, voice almost trembling, “have you been sitting up here like that the whole time?”
For a moment, Elphaba had given off an air of intense shyness. Then she’d pulled back her shoulders, fixing Galinda with a glare. “And what of it?”
At the time, Galinda had been heedless of the change, so focused on the way Elphaba’s hair tumbled over her shoulders that she wasn’t aware of much else. “What of it?” she’d nearly screeched. “Why, I’ve been down there all this time talking about nonsense while you’ve been up here looking like this?”
She’d missed the uncomfortable way in which Elphaba had squirmed, too, focusing instead on the sheen of Elphie’s hair in the candlelight.
“You could have told me.”
Elphaba wasn’t at all sure what she should have told Galinda, and said as much. “Told you what?”
Galinda would have answered, but she realized belatedly that instead of standing just inside the closed door and staring at Elphaba, she could have been perched on her bed, fingers running through that gloriously unbound hair.
The frills of her dress made space a precious commodity on Elphaba’s mattress, but she didn’t care. One hand was already pushing a dark fall of hair behind Elphie’s ear, the other balancing on the other girl’s shoulder.
“So beautiful,” she had whispered, the fingers at Elphaba’s ear continuing down to trace over her sharp chin.
At that, Elphaba had swallowed hard, the feeling burgeoning inside of her unfamiliar. “I imagine you’re the only person in the whole of Oz to believe that, Galinda, and frankly, I find it difficult to believe you believe it.”
Galinda had sighed, then placed a kiss on Elphaba’s cheek. “The rest of Oz could disappear, for what I care about what they think,” she had murmured. “And if no one else has bothered to take the time to tell you how beautiful you are, much less notice it for themselves, then you’re right and they are all much too stupid to tolerate.”
Elphaba had been thrown for a bit of a loss, and the feel of Galinda’s form trying to get closer to hers despite all of her ruffles hadn’t helped. “So am I to infer, then,” she began guardedly, hands smoothing over Galinda’s hips, “that you aren’t upset that I’ve been sitting up here with my hair down because something about it is an affront to the sensibilities of the students of Shiz, but because you weren’t here to witness it?”
At the time, Galinda had only nodded shyly, though privately she’d wondered just how Elphaba could be so dense. Only in retrospect did she realize that Elphaba wasn’t at all dense, that she’d certainly sussed out Galinda’s particular weakness as she’d never before bothered to remove her hair from her braid before bed. Doing so had been a calculated ploy and the rest, in a move that was so utterly foreign to her perception of Elphaba, had been a quite obtuse and ultimately ironic case of Elphie fishing for a compliment.
Until the next day, when she’d had plenty of class time to contemplate the issue, Galinda hadn’t quite realized that Elphaba was, in her own way, just as insecure as everyone else. The front she presented to the world might have led most people to believe she was immune to the things that plagued normal Ozians, such as insecurity and a need for reassurance, but Galinda had discovered something shockingly normal the night before.
Much like almost every other girl at Oz, Elphie needed to hear that she was beautiful.
The realization had been both a shock and a revelation, actually, and had confirmed to Galinda that, in direct contravention of the laws of nature, she was actually going to have to court Elphie instead of the other way around.
Thoughts of just how one went about courting Elphie took up much of Dillamond’s class, which she spent staring forlornly at the back of the head of the girl in question. The sight of the severe braid centered her, reminding her of why it was important that she get this right. After all, Elphie had, by wearing it unbound, made a tentative and deliberate step toward – and dare she think it – making her happy.
And so, at the end of the lecture, she looked down at the notes she had managed to take.
Diatomic atoms and hydrogen. Covalent and ionic bonding. Covalent can bond with same element, ionic cannot. Hydrogen has one electron, wants another electron. In coming together, can both gain an electron. Mutual attraction bonds them together.
Galinda = H.
Elphie = H.
Galinda + Elphie = H2.
Elphie + Galinda.
Galinda + Elphie.
Elphie and Galinda = Covalent bond
Things Elphie likes:
--Talking about social issues and other serious things
She’d run out of things to list fairly quickly, unfortunately, and had spent most of the class tapping her pen against her notepad in irritation and glaring at the back of Elphaba’s head. After all, if the other girl weren’t so contrary, then their relationship could progress as normal, with Galinda receiving the lion’s share of attention and not having to do any work in return.
“Miss Galinda, what is that?”
Galinda nearly jumped out of her seat at the words. “None of your business,” she snapped, slamming her notebook closed.
“But I quite clearly saw my name on it,” Elphaba pointed out logically, settling down into the empty desk beside Galinda’s. It was only then that the blonde noticed they were quite alone in the classroom.
So that’s what it feels like to be lost in thought, she mused, the concept not completely familiar to her.
“Things Elphie likes,” Elphaba quoted with some measure of amusement. “I believe the list was populated with, ‘Books, studying, talking about social…”
“That’s plenty,” Galinda muttered in irritation, lips pursed in a scowl. “I’m not a huge fan of the mocking, Elphie, just so you know.”
Elphaba did know it, but that didn’t mean she was planning on stopping. “Enlighten me, please,” she prodded, voice haughty and demanding. “Why the need for a list of what Elphie likes? And, why so short?”
“Because I don’t think you like much of anything,” Galinda grumped, giving the other girl a glare.
Elphaba merely smirked. “Why make a list then?”
“Because how else does one go about giving someone else something they might like, unless they first know what those liked things are?” Galinda huffed, crossing her arms over her chest in a sulk.
Taking the words in, turning them over in her mind and letting curious neurons attack and dissect them as she tried to process just what they might mean coming from Galinda, Elphaba remained silent. For a brief second.
“Do you mean to say that you were making a list of things you think I like so that you may give one of them to me?” she asked, unable to keep the incredulity from her voice. “Whatever for?”
“I’m not spelling this out for you,” Galinda grumped, pushing up to her feet and snatching her notebook from the desk. “You will simply have to figure it out.”
“You’ve gone daft,” Elphaba muttered. “Am I correct in thinking that you compared us to covalent bonds?”
Elphaba had been unaware that blue eyes were up to the task of a scathing glare.
“And hydrogen at that?” she said, though her tone softened slightly. “You do know that hydrogen, in its pure form, is highly flammable? Some might even say explosive.”
Unable to keep up her anger any longer, Galinda sighed wearily. “Elphie, if this is your idea of flirting, then I’m afraid you’re going to need remedial courses.”
“Only if you promise to be my private tutor, my sweet,” Elphaba replied with a wicked grin, voice suddenly full of gravel and seduction.
Galinda couldn’t help the shiver that ran down her spine. “I’m impressed. You’ve shown such remarkable improvement already,” she murmured. Then, with a wicked smile of her own, added, “I can’t wait to see how well you’ll do with the advanced lessons.”
* * * * * *
“Our two favorite girls!”
Elphaba couldn’t tell which of them had said it, Crope or Tibbett. The sun was behind them, throwing them in shadow, and her mind was rather wiped clear after a long day of classes. She wouldn’t normally have admitted to academic exhaustion, not even to herself, but its presence was inescapable and it was all Galinda’s fault.
“I wasn’t aware that you had any favorite girls,” Elphaba said drolly, though her voice was a little more sharp than she’d intended.
“Leave the less than scathing allusions at home, Miss Elphaba,” Crope said smartly, spinning as he came even with Elphaba and Galinda so that his arm looped neatly around Elphaba’s in a sudden reversal that left them walking the same way.
“We’re going into town,” Tibbett added, looping his arm through Galinda’s in a similar manner. Elphaba was a bit aggrieved to see the way Galinda giggled in response, though she couldn’t have said why.
Elphaba wanted nothing more than to go to her room and take a nap. The new thing she had entered into with Galinda was wreaking havoc on her circadian rhythms, and for the past few nights, Galinda had not so casually managed to sleep in her bed. Elphaba wasn’t at all used to that much close contact, and the warmth of Galinda against her side was still unsettling.
So, of course, Galinda said happily, “Town! Oh, Elphie! Let’s go into town with the boys!”
The look that accompanied the question was pleading and hopeful. Elphaba wasn’t at all used to having her opinion on such things as outings matter, either, but in this instance, she had to wonder if Galinda was actually asking for permission more so than anything else. The thought was unnerving, as if the two of them were now a unit with equal vetoing powers, like a tentative and untested bilateral agreement between rival nations more often at loggerheads than not.
“Yes, Elphie,” Crope teased, though he made the endearment sound more like gentle mocking. “Come into town with the boys.”
Elphaba’s sigh was enough of an agreement for Galinda. She didn’t even bother with suggesting that they return their books to their room, knowing that the moment the other girl stepped within its confines, she’d be unable to prize her back out again.
Shiz was bustling with Friday traffic. They weren’t the only students from the university out and about, Elphaba noted uneasily, as yet another cadre of underclassmen stopped by their table to exchange pleasantries and try to wrangle an invitation to sit.
“How do you know them?” Elphaba grumped as the latest flock wandered away, looking at Galinda incredulously. She hadn’t even been aware the girls were students with them, much less known their names, but Galinda had taken the time to gossip with them about happenings as if she were well acquainted with them all.
Galinda gave her indulgent look, which made Elphaba want to sulk even more. Instead, she scowled. “Some of us aren’t social recluses,” Galinda said haughtily, though there was a hint of tease underlying the words. “I’ve spoken with them before. Amelie is from Gillikin.”
“Boq is from Munchkinland, but I don’t feel the need to gossip about with him as if we’re the best of friends,” Elphaba muttered. “And he is at least minimally tolerable.”
The flutter of Galinda’s hand on her knee lasted for only a short second, but afterward, Elphaba refused to notice how much calmer she felt in response.
“I’m going to get us some more tea.”
Elphaba wasn’t sure why it felt like the words were laden with a deeper meaning. It had to have been the slightly deeper timbre in Galinda’s voice and the teasing smile she’d shot Elphaba’s way as she’d risen from her seat. It might also have had something to do with the mischievous glint in her eyes. Regardless, all of it together threw her for long enough for Galinda to disappear inside the small café they’d initially graced with their presence nearly three hours before.
“Why, Elphie, if I believed such a thing were possible, I’d say you looked positively smitten. Has the fair Galinda finally softened you up a bit?” Crope teased, rolling his eyes at the scowl the words received.
Sliding down slightly in her seat, partly to try and hide from view and partly because she felt suddenly trapped, Elphaba sighed. “Are you trying to insinuate that I’m not personable?”
“Trying to insinuate?” Tibbett scoffed. “I think it was more that he rather aptly insinuated that you can be a crabby, antisocial bitch on occasion.”
“And that, as a result, your tolerant attitude toward Miss Galinda is all the more shocking for its unexpected and odd nature,” Crope added, leaning forward on his elbows.
“Insinuation can only stretch so far,” Elphaba muttered, “before it apparently emerges as unsolicited criticism.”
“Not criticism,” Crope protested. “We quite like you the way you are, Elphie.”
“Makes us feel less catty,” Tibbett concurred.
“What did you do to her?” Galinda scolded, sliding a fresh cup of tea into place in front of Elphaba before reclaiming her seat. “She didn’t look nearly this cranky when I left.”
“We did nothing!”
“Quite the contrary,” Elphaba said smartly. “There was a great deal of insinuation, followed shortly thereafter by unprovoked barb tossing.”
“Boys,” Galinda scolded lightly. “She’s not nearly as tough as she looks, you know. Beneath that rather austere frock beats the heart of a sensitive soul.”
Elphaba cut her eyes shrewdly at Galinda, taking a sip of her tea. Much to her surprise, it was fixed exactly as she liked it – barely sweet, and with only the slightest hint of cream. “And now, with mocking from all sides,” she muttered, shaking her head in frustration. “I have no defense against the three of you. Two at a time I can handle, but past that the cosmic mass of the collective disapproval from the lot of you tends to overwhelm.”
“But I was being serious,” Galinda said innocently, inching her chair closer to Elphaba’s.
“That almost makes it worse.”
Crope propped his chin on his hands, bestowing them both with a sickeningly sweet smile. “Ah, you have a champion,” he said slyly.
Galinda’s eyes narrowed on a glare. “You leave her alone,” she said sternly, lips pursed in a scowl.
“I appreciate the defense,” Elphaba drawled, “but I think I can handle anything these two might come up with. We’re not dealing with genius, you know.”
“Ouch,” Tibbett and Crope murmured at the same time, hands going to their respective hearts in a move that almost looked practiced.
“I take it back,” Tibbett added playfully. “You’re far more catty than either of us.”
“Will you protect us from her, Miss Galinda?” Crope teased, looking at the blonde dolefully. “My soul is the very embodiment of sensitivity. Very easily damaged… fragile, really. In need of a fierce protectoress like yourself.”
“I suppose I could entertain solicitations,” Galinda said haughtily, barely able to suppress the smile teasing at her lips, “but I’ll have to warn you that I’m completely booked at the moment. My present assignment consumes all of my free time.”
“Perhaps you need to diversify,” Crope enticed, flashing Galinda a naughty smile.
Elphaba nearly jumped out of her seat at the feel of Galinda’s hand on her knee again. “I see absolutely no reason to do that,” Galinda said guilelessly, not sparing Elphaba a glance, though her fingers tickled a path against her the green girl’s thigh. “When you’ve found a project to which you can devote yourself fully, why waste resources on other, less worthy causes?”
Despite herself, Elphaba couldn’t help smiling.
* * * * * *
Surprisingly, Galinda’s almost forgotten list of Elphaba’s likes had managed to produce results.
“Who knew,” Galinda murmured, combing her fingers through Elphaba’s thick hair, “that I was so brilliant.”
Elphaba snorted in amusement, flicking to the next page in her book.
“Well, I am,” Galinda protested, fingers momentarily skimming over Elphaba’s shoulders.
They’d lucked into the position. Despite her desire to continue engaging in their growing intimacies and flirtations, Elphaba couldn’t completely abandon her studies. And so, one evening, Galinda had been most distressed to discover that Elphaba had absolutely no intention of abandoning the book she was reading in favor of other, more pleasurable (and interactive) activities. Having gotten quite used to having Elphaba all to herself in the hours before bed, Galinda had found the situation beyond upsetting.
“Surely you don’t plan to read all night,” she’d said with a pout, torn between cajoling and demanding.
Elphaba had taken a moment before responding, patiently finishing the sentence she was reading. “No, not all night,” she allowed. “But for another few hours, at least.”
“And what am I supposed to do until then?”
Nonplussed, Elphaba had looked up in confusion. “Whatever you want.”
“I want to play with your hair,” Galinda said mulishly, “and… and… other things.”
“Then play with my hair,” Elphaba said off-handedly. “The two acts aren’t mutually exclusive.”
Galinda had thought about protesting, then realized that Elphie was right. Besides, the other girl was offering the liberty up freely. Not so long before, she wouldn’t have permitted Galinda on her side of the room, much less given her free and unobstructed rein to do with her as she pleased.
Glad that she was already in her nightgown, Galinda decided to take Elphaba up on her offer. It had taken a little maneuvering, and some prodding of a recalcitrant Elphaba, but Galinda managed to ease herself between the other girl and the headboard of Elphaba’s bed. The position allowed Elphie to lean back against her, book still propped open wide, resting on its end on her belly, and gave Galinda unfettered access to the dark fall of the other girl’s hair.
So now it was a nightly ritual, the two of them moving in an unspoken pas de deux until they had managed to arrange themselves in the appropriate positions. Galinda tried to not make a big deal of the whole production, somehow sure that if she did so that Elphaba would bolt like a nervous colt. She always seemed on the verge of doing so anyway, in those seconds when she tensely tried to relax back into Galinda. And so Galinda would wait a few minutes before touching her, letting Elphie re-accustom herself to the notion of their closeness and begin to lose herself into her book. Once she felt the gradual disappearance of what almost felt like steel cabling running beneath Elphie’s skin, she would slowly begin to remove the tie to the other girl’s braid. She took her time with the process, dividing the tightly interwoven strands of hair with precision and care before combing her fingers through the unbound mass.
After she was satisfied that the locks were well ‘brushed’, she would wait for a few seconds before moving on to the second phase of her ritual. Her nails were kept trimmed to an appropriate length specifically for this – not too short but not too long either. The goal was to tease, not to hurt. She would begin at the edge of Elphaba’s hairline, slowly working her nails back along her scalp in a light scratch, the rhythmic movement varying in intensity as Elphie began to relax even further. Once the book was all but abandoned, Galinda would trail her nails lightly over the back of Elphaba’s neck, then down over the exposed breadth of her shoulders before slowly letting them trace just slightly below the collar of her gown. There was something about that move that always drew the slightest of gasps, sometimes with an accompanying shiver, and soon after the book would be closed and on the floor.
The first few times she’d done this, she’d almost felt the internal battle raging within Elphaba, the desire for more battling against the stubborn determination not to ask for it. She’d waited patiently, quite proud of herself for doing so, and when Elphie did nothing further, would place a soft kiss on the top of her head, blow out the candle at the bedside, and snuggle down into the other girl’s bed. She wouldn’t ask, just simply make herself at home, and drift off to sleep (or at least pretend to do so) before Elphie could figure out a way to effect a change in things.
It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth night that the gasp and shiver had been followed by a growl. The growl had excited Galinda, though not nearly as much as the searing kiss that Elphaba delivered following it, her body twisting sinuously to reverse her position with such swiftness that that attack took Galinda by surprise. It was gratifying to know that she’d caused such excitement, though mental gratification soon gave way to something much more basely physical, and Galinda soon found herself with her head spinning and her heart racing out of control in excitement. She wasn’t sure whether Elphaba was a quick study, whether she had a natural talent, or whether she was just somehow innately attuned to Galinda’s needs, but the other girl had quickly learned how to reduce the blonde to incoherency with her kisses.
Galinda had been slightly dismayed to learn that she wasn’t quite sure how to handle herself in the situation. The way Elphie would nibble on her earlobe, nose brushing against the shell of her ear and soft exhalations of breath sending waves of pleasure well out of proportion with the intensity of the act itself, made her slightly afraid. Soft bites and nibbles to her collarbone made her cry and out convulse with pleasure. The pressure of Elphaba’s fingers in her hair, gripping tightly and pulling her head back to bare her throat, made her hips rock uncontrollably in an almost embarrassing display of need. She was on the verge of being out of her element, and wanted desperately to know that Elphie felt the same way. In the daylight hours, she would plan and scheme, playing out the scene in her mind. Instead of falling victim to Elphie’s kisses, she would turn the tables. She would press Elphaba onto her back, would rake her skin with kisses and turn her into the keening, crying mess that she normally left Galinda.
It never worked. Once Elphie was there, with her hair falling over her shoulders to brush against the sides of Galinda’s face, she was lost. She couldn’t summon up the willpower to move, much less enact her carefully rehearsed plan.
After some time, however, Elphie’s kisses would gentle, and she would still her roaming hands and nuzzle almost shyly into the curve of Galinda’s neck. This gave Galinda some comfort. It was as if the fire she started in Elphie earlier in the evening could only carry itself for so long before Elphie found herself unable to control it any longer. Galinda didn’t think that it burned itself out, necessarily, but that Elphie reached a point where she no longer knew what to do with it and so she smothered it out slowly, extinguishing the embers one by one with soft kisses. And that, somehow, reassured Galinda because it meant that Elphie, at least in this, was as clueless as she was.
On this particular night, Galinda had varied her routine. Instead of moving to the next phase, she had stopped after combing through Elphie’s hair, instead letting her hands rest on the other girl’s shoulders, kneading softly, her touch almost non-existent. She’d taken the time to think, to wonder about their relationship and the future and what it all meant. The result had been a number of questions, many of which she wanted to ask Elphie but all of which seemed just a tad too threatening. Galinda wasn’t sure she wanted to prompt Elphie to give the thing between them too much thought as she wasn’t entirely sure that such a process would work out in her favor.
Despite that, after a long silence, Galinda couldn’t keep herself from murmuring, “What are you going to do after Shiz, Elphie?”
The words were left hanging for a moment, and Galinda wondered if the other girl had even heard them. Elphaba’s finger was tracing over a particularly salient point in the passage she was reading, and Galinda was getting ready to ask the question again when Elphaba replied distractedly, “Change the world.”
Galinda took that in with a frown. “Sounds like a rather time-consuming occupation. Do you think you’ll be able to squeeze in a little time for me in your schedule?”
“You can always join me in the enterprise,” Elphaba said off-handedly, tapping her finger against the sentence she’d just read. She needed a pencil, or a pen perhaps, to mark the spot.
Suddenly tired of being ignored, Galinda dug her hands into Elphaba’s shoulders, fingers instantly finding and tracing the tense muscles there. The move earned a hiss from the other girl, and Galinda shivered as Elphaba’s head fell back, sending her hair brushing against Galinda’s collarbone. “I would make a very good ally,” she observed, deepening the massage and building on her momentary edge over the book.
“How so?” Elphaba questioned absently, head falling forward to bare the back of her neck. Galinda took a second to clear away the drape of the other girl’s hair, revealing the emerald of her skin beneath. Elphaba’s spine crept up to the base of her skull in a line that reminded Galinda of pictures she’d seen of endless deserts rippling with sand dunes, and she almost chuckled at the image.
Instead, she took a second to let her fingers trace the hills and valleys that disappeared into the neck of Elphaba’s gown before resuming her massage, unwilling to let Elphaba have enough time to redevote herself to her book. “Because people love me,” she said plainly, as if the answer should have been self-evident. “They’ve always loved me.”
“Perhaps,” Elphaba allowed, well aware of the way that people seemed to flock to Galinda, “but being loved does not a revolutionary make.”
“A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down,” Galinda sang softly, and Elphaba cackled, the words a remnant of her childhood that she’d almost forgotten. Frex had taken her to see the traveling play, along with Nessa, in one of the few outings they’d had that hadn’t been somehow directed at protesting the pleasure faith.
“So you propose to ensnare Oz in your web, is that it?” Elphaba teased, unconsciously relaxing back against Galinda as the other girl’s touches moved down her arms.
Pleased at the way Elphaba was responding, Galinda leaned forward, lips almost brushing against the shell of a green ear as she whispered, “One day. For now, I have my sights set on something a little closer to hand.”
“Hmm?” Elphaba hummed, relaxation stealing through her body from Galinda’s touch.
Galinda’s smile, though unseen, was still quite naughty. “I was thinking of starting with you.”
Much to her delight, Elphaba couldn’t stifle the moan the words evoked.
* * * * * *
“Elphaba, wait up!”
Fiyero’s voice was breathless, and by the time he caught up with her, he had to place his hands on his knees for a second to recover. His hair was a wet fringe edging across his forehead, and a drop of sweat rolled slowly down the side of his face.
Smirking, Elphaba drawled, “So much wasted exertion. You called out and I waited, Fiyero. I didn’t run away.”
“I know,” he said, straightening and flashing her a bright smile. “Something about the day compelled me to add to the drama of the moment. Perhaps it was the sunshine… after so long a winter, it could be my brain has turned to mush along with the snow.”
Elphaba’s soft cackle elicited an even deeper smile from Fiyero. “And now I feel like a fool, of course,” he added. “I only wanted some notes.”
“I’m a very good notetaker,” Elphaba said solemnly, though her eyes flashed with mischief. “I daresay my notes are worth more than a lazy sprint in the mid-afternoon sun, particularly to a boy who spent most of the class staring longingly out of the window.”
“Ah, Miss Elphaba,” Fiyero murmured slyly, taking a small step forward, “I wasn’t aware you noticed.”
“Well, the back of your head was in my way.”
“Do a bit of window gazing yourself?”
“A bit,” Elphaba allowed. “But luckily for you, I’m quite adept at multi-tasking. The question now, however, is what you might possibly have to offer me in exchange for these.”
The words were accompanied by the tap of a long forefinger against her bookbag, and Elphaba looked up at Fiyero significantly. “Your kingdom for a passing grade, my prince?” she teased.
“It always comes to this,” Fiyero said forlornly, clutching his hands over his heart as if in agony. “It is forever my destiny in life to be overlooked in favor of my castle, though why any girl would covet the drafty old thing in beyond me. Besides, it’s already equipped with one wife. Despite what some people might think, the Vinkus wouldn’t be very happy with me if I tried to bring in another.”
Pulling the notebook free, Elphaba handed it over with a warning look in her eyes. “Residence in a castle in the middle of the Vinkus is about the last thing I want,” she scoffed, shaking her head in amusement. “But, if I find even a single tear on a blank sheet of paper, I’ll at least get a glimpse of it when I personally cart your corpse back home for the best princely funeral your people and saintly wife can muster.”
“You’ll see them tomorrow, safe and sound. I promise,” Fiyero swore, offering Elphaba another smile. “Give my regards to Miss Galinda.”
“Give them to her yourself,” Elphaba shot back. “I’m not a messenger.”
“But hadn’t you heard?” Fiyero said brightly, sketching a small bow. “We’re all in the service of the fair Galinda. Even you, Elphaba.”
“And here I’d begun to think you might be clever,” Elphaba tossed back with a grin.
As the two parted ways, Galinda let the curtain fall to cover her window again, shrouding the room in darkness.
* * * * * *
By the time Elphaba made it up to their shared room, Galinda was on the verge of tears. The fact that Elphaba did not immediately notice only made it worse.
And so, Galinda employed a well tested trick. She sniffled piteously.
The sound immediately drew Elphaba’s attention. Attention did not equal understanding, however, and so she put her bag down slowly, looking at Galinda as if she were an exotic animal poised to pounce. “Is something wrong?” she asked slowly, back of her thighs still pressed firmly against her mattress, spine stiffly straight.
Galinda wanted to shout that something was indeed wrong. She wanted to throw herself at Elphie with fists flying, wanted to stomp her foot and demand that the other girl never converse with anyone other than her again. She wanted to kick Fiyero squarely in the shins. She wanted to hex his silver smooth tongue, then make all of his hair fall out. Instead, she found herself pressing against a mental wound she wasn’t even aware she’d been carrying.
“Are with me just because I offered?” Galinda asked, voice a mix of petulance and fear. She couldn’t keep the image of Elphie and Fiyero out of her mind, the two of them standing close together in intense conversation. The look on Elphie’s face had been free and happy, her usual smirk edging perilously close to a smile, and Fiyero had been beaming in return.
Elphaba’s arched brow drew forth more rambling, as Galinda found that once she started talking about it, she couldn’t stop. “I mean, there isn’t someone you want more, is there? Someone you’d rather be with, but you’re with me because I asked and this other person just hasn’t gotten around to it yet? Is it all convenience, Elphie? I don’t want your attentions because you’ve no where else to put them. I want you to want me.”
“Have I given you any indication to the contrary, Miss Galinda?” Elphaba asked guardedly, not quite sure how to handle the unexpected explosion of Galinda’s uncertainty. She’d been under the impression that things were progressing quite well, though, she mused, her impression of the stability of personal relationships was perhaps a bit lacking. She’d never really had a successful one, not even with her family who at the very least should have had to like her by default.
“Oh, Elphie,” Galinda sighed, the response not doing anything to lessen her companion’s confusion. “I’d tell you to tell me that you want only me, but I’d want you to mean it and I never could know if you did if you were only saying it to make me happy.”
Frustrated, Elphaba felt a wave of helplessness wash over her. “I will say or not say only what I choose,” she mumbled with a frown, “and I don’t see why you’ve picked this moment to lose all of your reason and sense.”
Galinda bit the inside of her cheek to keep from saying more, but soon found the move of little practical value. Instead of keeping her silent, the pain fed her growing irrational anger, all of the checks and filters she’d so carefully put in place flicking free to let her thoughts and fears roam loose, taking her tongue with them. “I don’t want to be your safeguard, Elphaba Thropp,” she said with a sharp poke to the other girl’s shoulder. “I don’t want to be your little experiment. I know that I’m not Fiyero. I’m not dashing and handsome and… and smart, but I’m special. And you can talk to me like that, like you talk to him, like you actually want to hear what I’m saying.”
On a roll, she advanced forward, all of the half-formed thoughts she’d felt crowd into her brain at the sight of Elphaba and Fiyero standing together so closely spilling free. “If Fiyero is who you want, then you need to tell me now. I’m not a fool, Elphie, and I can see. You might think me a bit slow, and sometimes you might be right, but this time I’m not going to play the part.”
“You’re being ridiculous,” Elphaba growled, Galinda’s vehemently spoken words throwing her off-balance, bringing her defenses – though primarily her surliness – to the fore.
Hands balled up tightly and pressed firmly into her hips, Galinda scowled. “I saw you with Fiyero in the yard today, Elphie. I saw the way you looked at him, the way you stood so closely together. The look you had in your eyes… I know what it means.”
“You’re imagining things,” Elphaba scoffed, frowning severely. “I spoke with Fiyero for barely five minutes about classwork. Does that constitute a passionate affair in your mind, Miss Galinda? Are we now to cuckold his wife and run off to be married?”
Elphaba watched in horror as Galinda’s face began to crumple slowly, the first few tears streaming forlornly down pink cheeks before the encroaching torrent joined them. Galinda’s nose was bright red within seconds, her skin shiny and her eyes a scorched pink, and Elphaba felt herself begin to panic. She’d not often been confronted by a crying girl, and wasn’t at all certain how to handle one, particularly her emotional and irrational roommate/something more. But, she couldn’t let Galinda continue to stand there, shoulders slumped and chin tilted downward, looking so small and despondent that it tugged at places in Elphaba’s heart she hadn’t realized she had. So, in lieu of any actual idea of the appropriate response to a sobbing, distraught girl who had just accused her of any number of things which were most emphatically not true, Elphie decided to step into Galinda’s shoes for once and anticipate what the blonde would do were the situations reversed.
As soon as she wrapped her arms around Galinda’s shoulders, the other girl nearly knocked the breath from her lungs with the force of her response. Arms tight around her waist, Galinda pressed herself into Elphaba, nails digging into the other girl’s hips.
“Even if it’s true, don’t leave me Elphie,” Galinda whispered miserably, words muffled in the thick fabric of Elphaba’s dress.
Hands tentatively stroking Galinda’s back, Elphaba wished she were more well versed in the art of dealing with the darker side of unwieldy emotions.
“I don’t want anyone but you,” she murmured sincerely, chin resting atop of Galinda’s head. “I’m not sure how you reached the conclusion that anything else might be true, but you’re mistaken. I’m not to be taken lightly, Galinda, but neither are you. Whatever you think has happened hasn’t.”
Galinda sighed miserably, sniffling. “I’m in love with you, Elphie,” she said dejectedly, burrowing deeper into the other girl’s chest. “I think it makes me crazy.”
The words came as such a surprise that Elphaba gasped – audibly.
“What?” Galinda said crossly, pulling free of Elphaba’s hold. She was scowling now, eyes still watery and pink, and Elphaba wondered how it was possible to swing from one wild emotion to another without any break in between. “Are you horrified? Irritated? Angry?”
Brows drawing lower, scowling herself now, Elphaba pulled herself completely out of Galinda’s grasp. Taking a step back, she walked a few steps to her left before changing direction abruptly. Spinning on her heel, she retraced the few steps she had taken so that she was standing in front of Galinda again, shoulders set stiff.
“I refuse to be held accountable,” she said sharply, nostrils flaring with the force of the proclamation.
What little bit of ire she had been feeling gone and replaced by confusion and a creeping hint of despair, Galinda sniffled again, then drew herself up to her full height. “I’m not entirely sure I know what you’re talking about, but I am certain that it is most definitely your fault. You’re the one who was so secretly beguiling,” Galinda said fiercely, punctuating the point with another sharp poke. “You’re the one who was so interesting. You’re the one who turned my life topsy-turvy and made it so that I could think of little else but you. It’s all your fault, Elphie. Every last bit of it.”
Not quite sure how to take the other girl’s tirade, Elphaba was silent for a long moment. Then, with a sigh, she said softly, “Tell me, if you can remember, why we’re arguing.”
“We’re arguing because you were flirting with Fiyero,” Galinda said emphatically, crossing her arms over her chest.
Elphaba held up a long finger, as if trying to preemptively forestall Galinda’s inevitable protest. “I will admit that I conversed with Fiyero, perhaps even in a friendly way. However, it is my right to talk with whomever I choose.”
Galinda seemed to shrink at the words, and Elphaba felt a hint of alarm shoot through her. She wasn’t sure she could take another crying jag, or another bout of accusations and wild proclamations. But, instead of the histrionics she anticipated, all Elphaba got was a quietly murmured, “But why don’t you talk to me like that, Elphie?”
“If you’d like to discuss classwork, I can certainly indulge you.”
“No,” Galinda hummed, irritated. “Why don’t you talk with me as if you’re actually interested in what I might have to say in reply? Why don’t you look at me like I’m interesting?”
“Galinda, sweet,” Elphaba said, though the exasperation in her tone wasn’t enough to deter the thrill that ran through Galinda at the endearment, “I do look at you that way. It’s just that you, for some reason, don’t see it. Do you honestly think I would have allowed this to proceed if I hadn’t been interested in return? It might be harder for a green girl to get a date than it is for a Monkey to fly, but I’m not that desperate. Honestly.”
“Maybe not, but I know you,” Galinda said, something about her tone slightly menacing. “Most people look at me and see the blonde hair and the blue eyes and the perfect skin and beautiful smile, and they don’t care to look further. They’ve seen all they need to see. But you don’t care about those things, do you? You see them and note them, and you might even appreciate them to an extent, but when it comes down to it, they just don’t matter to you. It isn’t the packaging that interests you, Elphie, but what’s inside. And if what’s inside of this package can’t hold your interest, then all the pretty wrapping in all of Oz won’t matter in the end.”
“Is that what you think this is for me? Hormones run amok? A brief diversion? Do you think you’ve caught me up in your pretty wrapping but that once I tire of the glitter…”
“I don’t know,” Galinda cried wretchedly, breaking into Elphaba’s angry words. She didn’t want to hear the end of that sentence. She didn’t want to hear any of it, actually, and wished she could rewind time back to the beginning of the conversation and prevent it from happening in the first place. She hadn’t meant to say all of those things, hadn’t even meant to think them, but she couldn’t help it. Elphie had talked to Fiyero, and now she was a bumbling mess of uncertainty and cloying need, and even she hated herself. “You make me crazy,” she whispered again, the words as much for herself as they were for Elphie.
Elphaba sighed, scowl softening into a rueful smile. “Don’t you see,” she said softly, something inside of her cracking gently as she tilted Galinda’s chin up so that their eyes met, “that you make me crazy, too.”
“Oh Elphie,” Galinda murmured, hand coming up to cup Elphaba’s cheek as she searched for any hint that the other girl’s words were anything less than completely truthful, “I can’t help myself.”
Elphaba felt as if her body was buzzing with anticipation. Galinda’s eyes were serious, heavily lidded and full of yearning. “Can’t help yourself? From what?”
“Wanting you all to myself.”
Elphaba smiled crookedly. It made no sense to her, that Galinda could somehow be so utterly infatuated with her. She had the distinct impression that the roles should be reversed, that she should be the one filled with doubts and insecurities. After all, everyone wanted Galinda. No one had ever wanted her, not even her parents.
“Love, you have me. I promise.”
Love. Galinda repeated the word in her mind, burning it into memory along with the softness in Elphie’s eyes and the beguiling, shy smile on her lips.
It was afternoon. The light was shining in through the window, muted by the drawn curtains but there nonetheless. It highlighted every flaw, added the weight of consciousness to every movement. It hid nothing, and yet Galinda didn’t care. She felt horribly exposed anyway, emotions raw and scrubbed bare, and so it felt natural to her to reach up on her tip-toes to kiss the smile on Elphaba’s lips.
Elphaba’s hand slid from under Galinda’s chin to the back of her neck as she wrapped an arm around the other girl’s waist, pulling her forward so that they were pressed tightly together.
Pulling back slightly, licking her lips to catch the taste of Elphaba on her tongue, Galinda murmured, “I’d be lost without you, Elphie.”
Elphaba didn’t quite know how to respond, and so she kissed Galinda again.
When Galinda’s fingers managed to undo the last of the row of buttons holding together Elphaba’s dress on her way to pushing it free of the other girl’s form, her heart nearly melted at the way Elphaba shrank away uncertainly.
“As I’m sure you’re aware,” Elphaba said shyly, voice slightly strangled, “I’m green all over.”
Eyes twinkling as she edged the thick black fabric over the sharp edge of the other girl’s shoulders, Galinda murmured softly, “I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
The soft kiss she placed on Elphaba’s recently exposed shoulder stole any further words she might have had.
* * * * * *
Elphaba found she couldn’t think. Galinda was snuggled cozily into her side, naked skin pressed against her own, and she couldn’t summon a single thought to mind, no matter how hard she tried. Which, admittedly, wasn’t very hard at all.
“I don’t plan to ever move from this spot,” Galinda declared softly, fingers tracing a lazy, undefined pattern across the flat plane of Elphaba’s belly.
Her body was still overly sensitive, aftershocks of pleasure shivering through her at unexpected intervals, and the slight scrape of Galinda’s nails was almost enough to drive her crazy. “Someone would come looking for us eventually,” she said, voice as vague and unfocused as her gaze.
Galinda giggled, hand leaving Elphaba’s belly in a slow path that ended at her shoulder. “They’d get quite the surprise, then.”
Galinda’s thigh was sliding across her own, draping possessively over her hips, and Elphie shivered. “Quite,” she concurred, turning her head so that she was looking at Galinda. The other girl’s eyes were shining, almost glowing in the sparse light from the descending late evening sun. Spurred forward by a need she couldn’t deny, Elphaba kissed her softly.
Galinda deepened the kiss with a helpless whimper. “Let them look,” she averred, lips tracing a path over Elphie’s chin to tease at her neck. “Nothing can come between us now, Elphie. Nothing.”
“Nothing,” Elphie echoed, already lost.