Dedicated to fellow fanfiction author Throppsicle, who requested this. Happy Christmas, Throppsicle!
"Your very first party? Ever?"
I chewed my lip, considering that a moment. Parties. That entitled a few specifics, I was sure – dancing, yes, that was definitely a must. Food and drink, of course, and judging from tonight's experience, a great deal of drink, especially where the male attendees were concerned. Hm. I remembered Father collapsing halfway through Mother's funeral from having emptied half the wine cellar in one-sitting earlier that morning – ugh, what a day that had been – and hesitated.
"Would funerals count?" I hedged, eyeing Miss Up – Galinda – across the room. She giggled, tossing back half-deflated ringlets. Tiggular had – cough – 'accidentally' ruffled them with a little too much enthusiasm whilst giving his new girlfriend a kiss goodnight. I'd tried not to watch. The sounds alone were bad enough. Ugh.
"Oh dear, no, I don't think they do," Galinda said, flouncing first one way, then the other on her coverlet as though trying to find the comfiest position without actually lying down and flattening her precious curls any further. Honestly. "But really – to have only just been to your very first party…"
She trailed off, hand gesturing wordlessly – then bounded up and over towards me. I skittered backwards, almost falling off my bed. Oz. Obviously, Galinda had less of a respect for personal space than Fiyero did for his girlfriend's dignity. She flopped down right beside me on the coverlet, folds of that ridiculous baby-pink frock settling over my knees whilst a flurry of glitter showered from her head to mine. I coughed.
"Now, I know what we can do!" she chirped. "Let's tell each other something we've never told anyone ever – I'll go first. Fiyero and I…we're going to be married."
That stopped me. I was suddenly much too busy trying to remember how to close my mouth. Married. She couldn't be serious.
"…He asked you already?" The words came out a question. She beamed.
"Oh no," she trilled. "No, he doesn't know yet."
That explained a lot. Hm. I imagined Tiggular's reaction when his girlfriend informed him they were engaged after spending all of two hours with her, and swallowed laughter. Poor guy. He was in for a surprise.
Galinda was playing with my hands, turning them over and over in her own as though checking for green-free spots. Good luck with that, dearie.
"Come on, now you tell me something. A special secret, all of your own."
I stared hard at the floor.
"What sort of special secret," I muttered, whilst she pouted.
"Hm." She pretended to think, tipping thumb and finger under her chin and staring at the ceiling a moment.
She bounced up, swiping something from behind – oh Oz – my pillow. "You can tell me why you always sleep with this funny little green bottle in your bed -!"
"- give that back!" The words burst out of me, frantic, as she swung Mother's vial high in the air with fingers loose and slipping to let it fall, fall – "Give that here, Galinda -!"
"- tell me -!"
"- let me have it -!"
"- first tell -!"
"- it was Mother's!" I blabbered desperately as my fingers caught around the tiny stopper, yanking it from her hands. "It was Mother's, that's all! That's - that's all…"
My words trailed off as I bent over the precious bottle, caressing every inch, every exquisite little contour of glass, just in case, but there wasn't a mark on it, no, not a mark, and my knees buckled with relief, sinking down onto my bed, heart pounding…
…if she'd broken it…if she'd broken Mother's bottle…
"Oh." The voice was small. Lonely, in the sudden silence of the room that was broken only by my still-racing heart. "Oh well. If you don't want to be like real roommates."
I glanced up in time to see her flop back down onto her own bed, head hung. Her eyes were wide and resentful as they met mine.
"That's not fair though, you know. I told you a really good one."
I frowned. That was the old Galinda speaking. The one I'd known before everything that had taken place between us at the Ozdust this evening. The pouting, pretending Galinda. The Galinda who loathed me every bit as much as I loathed her. The Galinda I could never have dreamed of seeing a shred of truth, of meaning, of real something in, until tonight.
Until the Ozdust…
"My father hates me."
The words stumbled out, tripping over my lips and tumbling between us. I had a sudden, mad desire to get that real Galinda back. The strange, new Galinda I was, impossibly, starting to know in a way I'd never dreamed of knowing anyone in all my life before. Perhaps complying to what she wanted would pull that Galinda out of her shell. Who was I to know? I had nothing to go on. No experience with this.
Still, it seemed to be the right thing to do. She whirled around, ringlets flying, mouth dropping in a perfect round little, "Oh."
"That's not the secret," I muttered, rolling my eyes. Oz, wasn't it blatantly obvious? Father had never been exactly careful about keeping his feelings towards me a secret. Not that I cared. Much.
I sighed, shaking the thought off.
"No," I murmured, quieter now, not meeting her gaze. "No, that's not the secret. The secret is that he has good reason."
I stopped then, hesitating. Oz, was I really going to tell her? Something I'd never told anyone, ever…a special secret…I almost smiled. This was crazy. Ridiculous, how ready I should feel to let her in on this. Mad.
But then…so was everything, this evening…
"It's my fault."
The words were barely a whisper. Galinda's face was very careful, very cautious as she slowly rose from her bed, and padded across the room to mine again. She settled herself beside me, tucking her knees up this time and resting a gentle hand on mine. Then she waited.
The words didn't need to be spoken. They hung in the air between us. Her eyes were patient, open. Expectant. I took a deep breath – and dived in.
"When I was five, and Mother was carrying Nessa, my father began to worry that the new baby might come out, well…green."
Her lips mouthed the word at the same moment mine spoke it. We both smiled. Something passed over me, touched me; a flicker of – togetherness. Almost understanding. A connection. Just like I sometimes felt with Doctor Dillamond. It was nice, strangely comforting.
"He became so frightened, he made Mother chew milkflowers, day and night, only it made Nessa come too soon, with her little legs all…tangled…"
I could see it all again; see the mangled flesh, hear poor Nessa's wailing, mingled with Mother's screams…such terrible, terrible screams…
"…Mother…Mother never woke up."
Silence, for a long moment. I didn't look at Galinda. My eyes watched the firelight mirror tongues of flames in Mother's bottle, green and orange mingled.
"But that was the milkflowers' fault," Galinda's voice piped up, "not yours."
I glanced at her. Her brow was furrowed, creasing lines of make-up, and her eyes lost in thought. Deep thought.
Well, I suppose there's always a first time…
Then she smiled, seeming to have reached a conclusion of some sort.
"No. No, that may be your secret, Elphaba, but it doesn't make it true. Ok?"
She squeezed my hand tight, cream skin clashing spectacularly with olive. I shook my head, ducking it away from her. My face felt warm. Ugh. No. No, her words were kind, yes, but…that didn't make them true.
"Oh! Oh, oh, oh!"
I jumped, blinking awake from my daze.
"It's tomorrow!" Galinda squealed, clutching at my arm with one hand whilst the other gestured wildly to the window. It was true. There were just a few flecks of pink and grey icing the sky beyond the glass; barely visible, but very much there. Oz. We'd been out the whole night. How long had we danced together, down at the Ozdust? It had felt like only minutes, but I must have lost track of time.
Galinda was hopping up off my bed again, a strangely business-like expression on her face now.
"Right, Elphie –"
"- who -?"
"Oh – Elphie!" She laughed, clapping her hands together and spiralling to face me. "Is it all right if I call you Elphie?"
I raised my eyebrows, not really sure whether she was serious or not.
"It's a little perky," I commented, all dry humour and sarcasm, though I should have known it would be completely lost on her.
"And you can call me…Galinda!"
She laughed again, a silvered stream of a sound, all wind-chimes.
"You see, Elphie," she went on, business-like again. "Now that we're friends –" that one little word made me do a double-take, but she hurried on – "I've decided to make you my new project!"
Pause, whilst I blinked at her, wondering what in Oz a project could entitle and why…why I suddenly wasn't sure I wanted to know the answer…
"You…really don't have to do that…" I mumbled, wary now.
"Oh, I know," she sang, shrugging her little shoulders. Then she beamed. "That's what makes me so nice."