AUTHOR'S NOTE: Most fics focus on the romance in Wicked, but can we talk about the Thropp family? Man they were messed up.
Realistically, Elphaba and Nessarose are probably no more than two years apart in age, as they attend Shiz at the same time. Frexspar, obviously, held Elphaba back until Nessarose was old enough to go; Nessarose is clearly more important than Elphaba's education. But I expanded the sisters' age gap so Elphaba is old enough to hold a conversation with Melena around the time of her mother's death. Also, in the musical, Melena seems a lot more caring towards Elphaba than in Gregory Maguire's book.
My cast is Willemijn Verkaik as Elphaba, because she looks almost exactly like the book cover. And if Idina Menzel and Norbert Leo Butz don't play Melena and Frexspar in the supposed movie adaption, I'm going to sue.
This is based on the musical, with the only change being the shoes are ruby (as in the 1939 film) rather than silver.
Even before Elphaba can talk, she loves her mother's ruby slippers.
When she sees Melena wearing the jewel-encrusted shoes, the green-skinned infant gurgles in her governess' arms. With a dazzling smile, her pale mother goes to Elphaba and the Munchkin maid. Melena wears a dark green gown in the Emerald City style, but her crimson heels are the focal point of the outfit.
"And how is my darling, as beautiful as the Emerald City?" Melena kisses Elphaba on the top of her dark hair. "I wish I could take you tonight."
Her daughter reaches a green hand from the blanket in the direction of Melena's heels. "Do you want to see Mother's shoes again?" Melena says with a smile. She takes off one crimson shoe and holds it up for Elphaba. "Isn't it beautiful?" the Munchkin maid says as Elphaba runs her fingers over the gems covering the shoe.
The governor's wife turns to see the balding Frexspar Thropp in the doorway of the nursery. "We're going to be late!" her husband snaps.
"I was only saying goodbye to Elphaba," Melena explains.
"Be quick about it! We can't be late to the meeting with the Lollipop Guild!"
Frexspar storms off. Melena sighs, but she gives her daughter another smile. "Be good for your governess. I'll be back the second the meeting ends, my little emerald."
With a kiss to Elphaba's forehead, Melena leaves the nursery.
As a rule, Elphaba has no interest in clothes.
Her mother is the most fashionable woman in Munchkinland. But her seven-year-old daughter already draws enough attention from her skin, and Elphaba tries to disappear behind plain and boring outfits. Melena tries to offer prettier clothes to the girl, but Elphaba always refuses them.
But today, Elphaba goes to her mother's closet.
The girl looks up in wonder at the rows of glamorous clothes in every color of the rainbow. She pauses at the gowns, feeling the fine silk of a blue dress and wishing she had pale enough skin to wear it and feel pretty for once. Her mother tells her she is beautiful, but the other children at school say otherwise.
Elphaba then goes to the shoe rack and scans the exquisite footwear, but the collection's crowning jewel are the ruby slippers. The shelf is too high for the seven-year-old to reach, so she summons them with magic. Her untrained sorcery is clumsy, and one of the heels hits her head as the shoes fall. Rubbing the lump on her scalp, she picks up the shoes from the floor, and goes into the hallway.
The pregnant Melena is resting in the guest room. The Munchkin doctor had given instructions that she not be disturbed in any way, so she was moved to a quiet room of the governor's mansion. One instruction that the Thropp family ignores, however, is the doctor's warning to stop chewing milk flowers for the sake of the baby. Rather, Melena wanted to obey, but Frexspar forced her to take the flowers all day and all night.
And so when Elphaba enters the room, her mother bites off the head of yet another milk flower. A bowl piled high with the plants, their petals as white as snow, is on the table. But Melena is more focused on the small Greening Liquid Elixir bottle in her hand, with the faded label declaring that it cures what ails ya including headaches, influenza, and loneliness.
Even though she is as alarmingly pale as the milk flowers, Melena manages a faint smile. She sets aside the Greening Liquid Elixir. "Hello, Fabala. What do you have there?"
Elphaba climbs up on the bed and places the ruby slippers on the blanket. "I thought these might make you happy. You always looked happy when you wore them."
"Thank you, darling," Melena says. "You're sweet to think of me."
But then Melena winces, and her hands go to her bump, only seven months along.
"Elphaba, fetch your father."
"Get your father!" Melena says with a gasp in pain, and Elphaba runs.
She is pushed out of the room by Frexspar and the Antelope midwife. Soon the local Muchkin doctor is called, and he rushes by Elphaba in the hall into the bedroom. Hours pass, and still the girl waits.
Then there is an infant's cry, but Elphaba's mother is silent.
"Could you find the ruby slippers?" the eight-year-old Nessarose asks innocently.
The fifteen-year-old Elphaba glances at the door of her sister's bedroom. "Father will be furious if he finds out. And I don't know where he hid them."
"You remember Mother," her sister says, wheeling herself forward in her chair. "I don't. I don't remember anything about her. I just want to see the shoes that you said she loved."
Elphaba's love for her sister outweighs her fear of Frexspar. "Alright."
The green teenager closes her eyes and searches the house with her magic. It doesn't find the slippers in the closet of her parents' bedroom, or anywhere in the first or second floor of the governor's mansion. But in the garret, she feels a tug from her magic.
"They're in the attic. I'll be right back."
Leaving Nessarose downstairs, Elphaba goes to the garret. The teenager picks her way through the dust-covered, cobweb-strewn, and mothball-eaten clutter in the forgotten attic. Inside a box of odds and ends is a hint of red, and Elphaba pulls out one shoe, and then the other. She wipes at the dusty heels with her sleeve, and they gleam as brightly as before.
Nessarose tries on the ruby slippers in front of an old full-length mirror with a gilded frame. The heels, though too large on the girl, nearly distracts the eye from her wheelchair. "You look like her," Elphaba says.
Nessarose smiles. "Tell me how Mother looked when she wore them."
Her older sister's throat closes up. "She was brilliant, and dazzling, and fiery, and you couldn't look away. She was like a red star lighting up the room."
"You try them on next," Nessarose says.
Despite herself, Elphaba accepts the shoes her sister held out. Taking off her plain brown boots, Elphaba steps into the ruby slippers for the first time. When she finally looks in the mirror, the image reflected back at her is almost beautiful. The heels are nearly her size, and she stands tall in them unlike her usual slouched posture. The red sets off her viridescent skin, like roses against green leaves.
She whirls when she hears her father's bellow. Face almost as red as the shoes on his daughter's feet, the apoplectic Frexspar strides into the room. "What are you doing? How dare you wear Melena's shoes!"
"I asked her to get them!" Nessarose speaks up, but their father barely acknowledges his younger child.
"I don't blame you, Nessa dear. But your sister should have refused!"
"She wanted to see them, to have some connection with Mother!" Elphaba exclaims. "And I did too, instead of always pretending Mother never existed like you do-"
Frexspar slaps his green daughter.
"Your mother humiliated this family, and my office of governor! And if that wasn't enough, she gave me a green freak of a child! Never speak her name again, do you hear me? Now give me the shoes!"
Tears streaming down her cheeks, Elphaba takes off the shoes. Frexspar tears them away hard enough that the jewels cut her hand open, and marches out of the room.
Nessa never asks to see the ruby slippers a second time, and Elphaba never goes in search of them again.
On the sisters' first day at Shiz University, Frexspar opens a carved wooden box to reveal the crimson heels. "I wanted to give these to you, Nessa," he says as the pale eighteen-year-old gasps and wheels herself forward. "I shouldn't have stopped speaking of Melena. You deserve to have these. Will you forgive me?"
"Of course," Nessarose says.
"Father…" the twenty-year-old Elphaba begins.
He snaps the lid of the box closed. Clearly there is no parting gift for his eldest daughter. "Look after your sister. I want her to succeed at Shiz."
Elphaba helps Nessarose get ready for the dance at the Ozdust Ballroom.
The elder attempts to do her sister's hair. The younger, the more fashion-conscious of the pair, does everything else and doesn't actually need Elphaba's help. But Elphaba quietly enjoys feeling needed; no one else gives her the time of day, but Nessa does.
"Could you get Mother's shoes from the closet?" Nessarose said.
Elphaba blinks, remembering their father's reaction. "Are you sure?"
Nessarose nods. "I want to take Mother with me to my first dance. She can't actually be here, but at least her memory can be."
Elphaba retrieves the shoes from the shelf, recalling the day she had taken them to her mother. Nessarose takes off her plain ballet shoes and puts on the blood-red heels, and instantly transforms.
"Mother would be proud of you," Elphaba says, a lump rising in her throat.
"Thank you," Nessarose replies in a watery voice, and the sisters embrace.
In the midst of learning that the Wizard is a charlatan despot, Elphaba sees Oscar Zoroaster Diggs holding a green bottle. It looks exactly like the Greening Liquid Elixir that Melena owned. The sight suddenly reminds Elphaba of the day her mother died, the green bottle, and the red shoes.
Elphaba is intimately familiar with anger. But seeing Dorothy wearing the ruby slippers makes the witch's blood boil. How dare Glinda give Elphaba's mother's shoes away? How dare Dorothy so easily do what Elphaba was always denied by her father? How dare Dorothy take Elphaba's last link to both her mother and now her dead sister?
The witch hunts the girl in gingham blue down the Yellow Brick Road, stalking Dorothy like a hawk stalks a hare. Dorothy is joined by an irritating terrier called Toto, Fiyero in scarecrow form, a bitter tinman Boq, and the nervous Lion who Elphaba had freed at Shiz. Finally, Elphaba has had enough, and sends Chistery and the other Flying Monkeys to capture Dorothy.
But when Elphaba tries to pry the blasted shoes from Dorothy's feet, the ruby slippers burn.
As the witch tends to her scalded green hands, Elphaba suddenly feels tired. Her very soul, if she has one, is exhausted. All she ever does is fight the world every single day of her life, and she's drained of all courage. The universe is clearly telling her that she will never have the shoes. Even if she carves them from Dorothy's feet with a knife, Elphaba will never truly own them. Melena and Nessarose were allowed to have a connection with each other, but not Elphaba. She is too strange, too alien to have even this.
She stops trying to take the shoes. Elphaba pretends to be melted by the bucket of water that Dorothy throws at her. Through a crack in the trap door, Elphaba sees one last glimpse of red as Dorothy runs off. As silence falls, Elphaba stays in the darkness of the cellar. Later, Fiyero comes back to open the trap door. Without a word, Elphaba climbs out, falls into his straw arms, and sobs. She weeps for the loss of so many things that had been taken from her.
But one among many is the ruby slippers, and all they represent.