We all know the story: 'Elphaba is appointed as Fiyero's late-night library tutor so he can get his grades up, they fall in love, and everyone lives happily ever after at Shiz.' Same old, same old. Simple, but always effective ;)
What I wondered, whilst reading fanfic after fanfic revolving around this plotline, was…how the heck did Elphaba end up tutoring him in the first place? Give up her precious schoolwork and reading hours for brainless old Tiggular? Why? And how?
Low and behold…out came this, attempting to answer all those questions. With varying degrees of success. Enjoy!
I was not having a good day.
In fact, at the present moment, I was being dragged down my history class corridor – emphasis on the dragged – by Elphaba Thropp, her fingernails cutting sharp as cats' teeth into my upper arm, emerald features carved into the iciest glower I'd ever seen her muster. Which was saying something.
"Hurry up, won't you!" she hissed over her shoulder as I stumbled along behind her, tripping over my own feet – Oz, she had some strength in those spindly legs of hers … "I want this over with by lunch, Glin's expecting me to meet her – faster, Tiggular, faster, for Oz's sake -!"
"I'm trying -!" I protested indignantly.
"Well, try harder!"
She yanked, more like I was a dog on a lead than anything else, her bag – probably chock full of books, as always – slipping off her bony shoulder. She cursed, whilst I glanced feverishly up and down the corridor – what if Avaric or Pfanee or anyone else saw me now, dragged along by the artichoke…?
"…hurry up, Tiggular!"
Oz, she was impossible! A hissing, grabbing, bad-tempered, tangled mess of everything I wasn't, everything I didn't understand, everything I could never seem to grasp, never seemed to be able to get a firm hold on…
"In here -!"
She was pointing to the open door of the kitchens – dark, as it was mid-afternoon, but as unappealing as ever with it's odour of rotting potatoes and burned bread. Yuck. Oz, I wouldn't be able to walk into the lunch hall after being in there.
"Elphaba," I began, voice rising with faint panic as I struggled to free myself from her vice-like grip. "Seriously, come on, we can't go in there -!"
"Oh yes we can," she growled with steely determination, her hands practically clawing my shoulders off as she shoved me in front of her and proceeded to march me through the open door. I tripped, half-falling into the room and colliding with the nearest table – collapsing into a heap on the clammy tile floor. Definitely not one of my better moments of royal dignity.
I scrambled round just in time to see my captor slamming the kitchen door tight shut behind herself, and heard the key turn in the lock.
I gulped. Oh Oz…what had I got myself into? What terrible wrong had I committed against Galinda now, that would inspire the green bean to drag me off like this? I thought back to that last time, when she'd caught me messing about with Pfanee in the greenhouse out in the grounds. My eardrums had suffered an hour-long blast about loyalties and girlfriends with reputations to keep up and how delicate and sensitive Galinda truly was underneath her bouncy façade, and how if she – Elphaba – ever caught me messing around with another girl ever again I would answer to her, and sweet Oz, didn't she have the most spectacular jinxes in place for me if I did…
In the dark of the kitchen, gazing up at the dagger-eyed silhouette of the furious seaweed-skinned girl, I could believe that. I bit my lip, glancing anxiously around myself, wondering what sort of knives the Shiz staff were allowed to leave easy access too – then stopped quickly, in case she followed my gaze and got any ideas.
She advanced on me slowly, a poisoness-green snake preparing to strike, taking deep breaths to calm her quiet panting – hm, maybe she had found me pretty heavy to lug around after all.
"Look, Elphaba –" I began, attempting a friendly smile as she dragged me up from the floor with both hands.
"Shut it, Tiggular!" she snapped, shoving me back against the kitchen table I'd crashed into. "And don't you speak a word until I tell you to!"
"But Elphaba -!"
I shut it.
Well, I might be brainless, but I'm not…that brainless. I knew better than to argue with the artichoke when she was het up. Things were well known to burst into flames, explode etc. where an angry Elphaba was concerned.
She surveyed me witheringly for a few moments, fingers curled in dragons' claws over my shoulders. Her eyes were hard as flint as they bored into mine. I waited in meek silence, trying not to meet her burning gaze, wondering whether I could make a break for it out the back door – it was only a few feet away, I was sure I could make it if I really ran…
"Don't even think about," my captor snapped irritably, her dark eyes following my gaze like a hawk's following its prey – and with a click of sliding metal, the bolts on my only escape route slid shut, sparks flying from them as her silent spell completed itself.
Sweet Oz, she really was a witch-in-training…
"Now," she began in a more business like tone than before, though her piercing gaze didn't soften, not one bit. "Let's get to business. Tutoring."
I blinked. Say what?
She rolled her eyes in exasperation. "I said, tutoring – try to listen a moment, won't you!"
"I - tutoring?" I spluttered. "What tutoring -?"
"Oh you know," she drawled with spectacular sarcasm. "That fascinating occupation of reading books and studying texts to cover valuable academic information moststudents with half a brain cell have alreadyabsorbed from lessons by that incredible fete known as class attendance, something you simply don't seem able to understand the concept of, Master Tiggu -!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" I interrupted, practically back-bent over the table as she jabbed closer and closer. "Oz, slow down, Elphaba, I haven't got a cl -!"
"What I'm talking about, Tiggular!" she almost snarled. "Is poor Doctor Dillamond's frazzled request that I, Elphaba Thropp, of all unfortunate students, take time out of my schedule, out of my study time, out of my carefully planned hours of revision and work to do nothing other than tutor you, you, of all the brainless idiots in this school, in practically every subject under the sun, as you yourself have been deemed by every teacher incapable of making any progress whatsoever by yourself, that you require tutoring by your hard-working fellow classmate to advance even the tiniest step, be taken by the hand like a five-year-old, like the stupid, obnoxious, useless, stuck-up, playboy prince I know you are!"
There was a very long silence.
I realised my mouth was open, and quickly shut it. O…k. I stared blankly at my captor's eyes – dark hazelnut brown, I noticed for the first time, and then wondered why I hadn't before; they were rather a nice brown, as brown went. I knew better than to speak until she'd calmed down a bit. Her face was still contorted with rage, breathing heavily from her rant.
Patience, I told myself cautiously, patience was the key here, when the green girl was going at you. Give her time to cool off, and she'd always lose some of her bite…
…well…some, at least.
I waited, mentally trying to process what she'd said to me – that Goat doctor guy wanted me to be tutored? But…why?
Well, dumb question, I supposed – I hadn't attended class more than about twice in the past few weeks, nor had I handed in homework in Oz-knew how long, but still…wasn't Father paying Morrible enough to keep her satisfied without worrying about my actual education as well? This made no sense! Not to mention, studying was the last thing I wanted to spend the rest of term doing, and with Galinda's prickly, vegetable-coloured roommate of all people. If only she'd give me a break with all the snarky comments and glowering…what had I ever done to offend her so much?
My captor's hands were still shackles around my shoulders. I opened my mouth to ask if she could maybe let me loose, it wasn't like I was planning to do a runner – but she held a hand up.
"No," she snapped, business-like again. "Don't talk. Let me think a second."
She pushed herself away from me –I toppled back onto the table top itself with a flump– turning away to begin pacing the kitchen floor. Her boots clumped against the stone tiles underneath. I picked myself up from the table, and waited with baited breath, shooting anxious glances towards the back door to check whether it was still locked. It was. Oz-damnit.
Then she suddenly stopped, a thought seeming to strike her, and turned – her thick jet-black plait whipping through the air so fast and close I ducked with a yelp. Her face was abruptly much brighter, alight with an idea.
"Who's your partner in Life Sciences?"
Oh help. I had no idea.
"Well?" she demanded, eyes narrowing again.
"- um, Avaric!" I improvised, vaguely remembering some teacher partnering us for a project a couple of weeks back. "Why?"
She moaned, clutching a hand at her midnight hair. "Of all people! Ugh, that's no good, then…"
"Elphaba, please, can't you just tell me what's –"
"Doctor Dillamond said I was to tutor you Mondays, Wednesdays, and weekends after dinner," she rattled off irritably, so fast I had to listen hard to keep up, "and that he would let us use his classroom to do so, but if my schedule changed and I was unable to make those dates any longer, I must at least find you a suitable replacement student tutor, so I shall speak to Madam Morrible about changing our sorcery lesson times, inform Doctor Dillamond that I shall be unable to tutor you, and find a replacement to stand in for me – Avaric won't do, and I know Boq will never agree –"
"What about Nessarose -?" I suggested, and then wished I hadn't at the expression on her face. "- hey, not that it's up to me, of course -!"
"It certainly isn't," she snapped, a scowl etched so deeply into her features I couldn't imagine ever seeing her smile again – not that she did much. "And don't you dare even mention the possibility of tutoring to Nessa!"
"Nessa likes me," I mumbled, truthfully. The younger Thropp sister was friendly enough, and really rather pretty, too, come to think of it…
"I won't have it," my captor stated, in a voice that meant the matter was closed, and I was not to argue. Not that I'd considered doing so, of was never any point, arguing with Elphaba – she always won. "Nessa needs her evenings in for studying and quiet time, much as I'm sure she'd swoon at the idea of tutoring a prince…"
She sneered the word with such scorn I had to laugh.
"It's not the least bit funny, Tiggular!" she exploded, but I couldn't help myself –Oz, she was just priceless, sometimes. "I will not have you alone with my disabled little sister in the library till all hours of the morning, tutoring or no tutoring! Oz knows what you would get up to without me there to protect her…"
She shuddered, lips pressed together in a thin line. I stopped laughing at that, unable to help defending myself a little.
"Aw, come on, Elphie, you know I wouldn't ever do anything to Nessa…"
"Says the boy I caught exploring Miss Pfanee's skirt with such interest in the greenhouses only last week!" she retorted hotly, and I felt my face burn red, in spite of myself. Ugh...yeah, she knew how fight a case, that was for sure. "And at any rate – this is all beside the point. What we need now is to find you a suitable tutor to take my place –"
"Why not just do it yourself?"
She froze, staring at me with a mixture of disbelief and horror.
"I beg your pardon?"
I shrugged, wary now of her chilly gaze. Don't push it, Tiggular, watch yourself, you're on thin ice…"Do it yourself. You know. Tutor me."
Well, how bad could it be, really? And I'd stand a better chance of flunking out of lessons with Elphaba than Boq or any other student. I'd have her detestation of me on my side; maybe, I thought, just maybe, I could play that to my advantage. If I really did irritate the hell out of her enough…and hey, anything would be better than spending all day shut up with Avaric…
My captor was watching me like I'd just grown an extra arm or two. I shifted under her stare, feeling a smile creep up the edges of my lips in spite of myself.
"Wow," I mumbled. "Yeah…um…Elphaba Thropp, lost for words. That's a first."
Her features whittled back into a glare faster than blinking.
"I swear, Tiggular, one of these days you will push me too far and –"
"Yeah, yeah, I know." I grinned, feeling daring. "I'll regret the day I was born and no pretty girl will never look twice at me again and won't you thank Oz he let you live to see that day."
Her eyes narrowed to slits. I rolled my own. "Come on, Elphie, chill out. Hey, you never know – it might even be kind of fun. Tutoring, I mean."
She said nothing, merely continuing to glare…but her teeth gnawed at her lower lip. Sweet Oz, was she seriously considering it? Guess she really was scared I might head for her sister with the job offer. Hm...
…I hesitated, wondering how far I could push her. She continued to frown, eyeing me with speculation.
So I decided to take the plunge – and gave her a sly look, eyebrows raised. "Don't tell me you're scared of being with me 'alone in the library till all hours of the morning' –"
"Don't be ridiculous!" she snarled, suddenly her old self again…but those olive cheeks flushed, just a little. I chuckled, dodging as she made a grab for my shoulders.
"- aw, Elphaba, I wouldn't do anything to you, you know that -!"
"Will you be quiet -!"
"- and anyway, I'm condemned to loyalty with Galinda for eternity now, aren't I, since you announced that friendly threat last week –?"
"Oh, what an achievement," she declared poisonessly, catching the collar of my school shirt – ouch – and whipping me round to face her. "A whole week spent in single servitude, I'm just swooning with admiration -!"
"Aw, I knew you'd come around someday!" I grinned, mock-lurching towards her with arms outstretched. She skittered backwards so fast I might as well have been brandishing a hot poker, something like a hiss breaking its way through her teeth.
"Quit that, Tiggular!"
"- always knew you were just like all the others -!"
"Shut up!" she almost spat, face blazing scarlet – and with a great crash and smash of breaking china, every plate lined on the draining board across the kitchen from her shattered into a thousand tiny, glittering, deadly pieces. I yelped, throwing both arms over my head. Yeesh. It seemed I'd hit a nerve. Who would have thought she'd react so spectacularlyto jibes of that nature? Always full of surprises…crazy…
…but still scary, a little voice in my head piped up as my captor deflected the rainstorm of broken porcelain away with a twist of her wrist.
Silence fell between us for a single beat of a moment.
"Um…" I mumbled eventually. "That was – um –"
"Last chance, Tiggular – shut up."
I did, mouth gaping like a fish as some silent spell knotted my vocal cords. I choked, clutching the kitchen counter with one hand.
" – ugh – ugh – Oz, low blow, Elphaba!"
She only glared in reply, face still flushed to rubies and emeralds. Weird…don't think I'd ever seen her blush before…
"Quit that," she snapped. I widened my eyes incredulously.
"What did I do this time -?"
"- I mean, quit gawping like you haven't seen me lose it a thousand times before," she bristled, not meeting my gaze. Her hands twisted, twirled, twined together and apart and around each other, trailing little rivulets of magic. Sizzling filled the room as china pieces refitted themselves smoothly. Her brow furrowed in concentration, shoulders rigid with the effort…
Whilst I gawped.
Sweet Oz. Sure, she could be a nightmare. Correction – she was a nightmare, most of the time. As in, ninety-nine percent of it. But…Oz, she could do some…some…things with magic, sometimes. No wonder we were all so petrified of her. Who wouldn't be? Aside from Galinda, that was…
I blinked, jerking out of my reverie. Say what? She was done, staring at me now with an incomprehensible expression on her face. I bit my lip.
"Monday, Tiggular. Monday night. Eight sharp. And not one second later, or I will be putting those jinxes to good use. Understood?"
I shook my head, completely lost. "What are you -?"
"For Oz's sake," she hissed, throwing her arms skywards in a despairing gesture. "Is there even a single brain cell in that royal head of yours?"
I got it, then.
"Oh – oh, you mean tutoring –"
"Yes, your highness," she hissed through gritted teeth, stomping towards me again. "Tutoring. Monday. Eight sharp. That's eight in the evening, not the morning, mind you. Is that clear?"
"Is that clear?"
I took a look at her, then. I mean, a really proper, careful look. Because…this couldn't all be just down to her sister, could it? Sure, it would be tough to find someone better fit for the job, but…
…still…I couldn't help asking…why?
Her face was very cautious, very composed, as I examined it. All razor-cut angles. Nope. I couldn't read it. Not one inch. None of the usual tactics ever seemed to work, on her – none of the usual methods I reserved for deciphering females. She was closed. Guarded. Wrapped up in herself, in her skin, in that skin…
Quit the gawping, Tiggular.
I almost smiled. Yup. That was Elphaba, in a nutshell. An endless, burning mystery to the end. But then…if she was offering – in the loosest sense of the term, but still – well. It wasn't like I was going to say no.
"Sure." I shrugged, trying to look nonchalant. "Seven sharp –"
"- eight sharp -!"
"- Eightsharp. Got it. Cool."
She said nothing, merely continuing to scowl at me a moment. Weird – If I hadn't known better, I'd have said she was scrutinizing me every bit as much as I was her…
I cleared my throat, eyes darting towards the still-locked door, now.
"So…uh…can I, you know, go now?"
She shook herself, seeming to awaken from something.
"Oh – yes. Yes, I suppose you can."
Her fingers flexed once, and my escape route creaked open. I let my breath out in a gush. Ok. That wasn't so bad.
She went over to stand by the door; arms folding, foot tapping.
"Unless you'd rather I lock you in again, Tiggular – and believe me, I'd be morethan happy to – I suggest you move. Now."
I tiptoed obediently to the open door, not meeting her gaze. Her eyes followed me the whole way. Hm. I thought about giving her a wink or something, see if she'd rile up again…no, it wasn't worth it. Besides, I was hungry now. Lunch and Galinda awaited.
I sighed, smiling to myself and swinging my arms. Behind me, my captor closed the kitchen door with a snap. Then she turned to me, abruptly business-like again.
I tried not to groan as her hand seized my shoulder for the second time that day – and began to drag me back down my History class corridor. Oh well. At least now, she wasn't glowering anymore.
I heaved a sigh, settling in for another long, painful journey back up to the lunch hall. She'd want to go even faster this time, of course, because Galinda was waiting. Then we had Doctor Dillamond for the afternoon. And most likely, I'd have to attend. Because – wait for it – Elphaba…was my tutor now.
Oh dear Oz…
I was not having a good day.
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