Elphaba and Galinda discuss the pros and cons of their favoured evening activities and entertainments. A getting-to-know-you moment from the early stages of their friendship. Gelphie friendship, musicalverse, oneshot.
"I believe that spending every evening of your term at Shiz so far with your nose buried in a boring, stuffy old book from seven till ten is an utterly hideotous waste of time!"
I glanced up. My crisp new Encyclopaedia of Sorcery's Most Notable Magical Definitions had been claiming my rapt attention for a good half hour or so – now, however, my roommate was providing a distraction. She stood with hands on hips and chin jutted high across the dormitory room from me, wearing a wafting, tent-sized nightgown and a scowl.
I raised my eyebrows.
Hm. This was new.
A scowl as bad-tempered, as grouchy, as downright ugly as this one; it didn't suite her. Didn't suite those usually exquisite features that made even Nessa's pale into comparison.
"Oh?" I responded to her little outburst, flipping a page to begin on chapter seventeen. "And why might that be?"
She let out her breath in a gush.
"Elphie, you just don't get it…"
"Clearly. But please, enlighten me."
She huffed a sigh, sweeping across the room in a cloud of strawberry-coloured silk and scrambling up onto my bed beside me. She kicked her heels off, letting them tumble to the floor.
I muttered a spell, sending them skidding across the room to their proper position next to my own boots by the door.
"Ok. Elphie. We spend every single silly day at this place in lessons, don't we?"
"That is correct."
"Well, then!" she burst out, throwing her arms up in the air. "Why not enjoy your evenings, whilst you can!"
I sighed, closing my book with a quiet snap. "I happen to enjoy learning, Miss Galinda. Which, I might add, is the sole reason I came to Shiz in the first place." I eyed her dubiously over the top of my book. "Unlike some of us, it seems."
She squirmed a bit in her seat, suddenly very interested in her fingernails. "Well – well, Fiyero thinks -!"
"That's a first."
She slapped my shoulder, with about as much strength as a newborn puppy, whilst I cackled.
"All right, all right! Please, continue. I'm intrigued to hear what that idiot can come up with when he sees fit to use a brain cell, once in a while…"
She glowered. "Fiyero thinks there is a lot of merit in relaxing yourself, sometimes. 'Recharging your batteries' – that's what he calls it."
I snorted. Could he be any more full of himself?
"Better to be 'recharging your batteries' with a couple of quality books in-hand than some lumbering, hormone-driven prince feeling you up in a broom cupboard."
She stifled a squeal, widening mock-horrified eyes at me. I hid my grin in Chapter Seventeen: Linguification whilst she whispered, "You didn'tfollow Fiyero and I last night, did you -?!"
"Fiyero and me," I corrected."You is the subject."
"And no, I did nothing of the sort. I merely placed a tracking spell on the both of you, in case that pitiful excuse for royalty should see fit to drag you farther outside the grounds than is permitted again –"
"Shh, someone might hear you!" Her hands clapped over my mouth. "Really, Miss Elphaba, your tongue."
"The only tongue I believe we need worry over in the evenings is yours, Miss Galinda; how to keep it inside your own mouth –"
"Elphie!" she squealed, hands flying away to stifle another fit of giggles. "Stop it, please, someone will hear. Talk like that is so…so…!"
She struggled to find words, hands gesticulating in various shapes but forming no meaning. I turned another page idly.
"Common?" I supplied, but she shook her head, ringlets bouncing.
"No, that's the wrong word…it just so…oh, I don't know. So immodest! So improper!"
She let out her breath in a gush, fixing me with a tentative smile.
"And so…so…I don't know…" She hesitated, whilst I watched her, truly intrigued now.
"Go on. I'm listening."
Her teeth raked her lower lip, nibbling gently.
"I don't know, Elphie, I'm not like you with words. It's…new and grown-up. And sort offorbidden. Really, I don't know what Mumsie would say if she heard you!"
A thousand cutting remarks came to my mind in respone to that – but I bit them down, nodding instead and trying to look like I understood.
Oz, there was more to this Miss Upland every day...
Galinda seemed to have relaxed, most likely relieved – and, dare I say it, just a touch disappointed? – that I had no more cutting, suggestive remarks to retort with.
"I know you will hate me for saying so," she hedged, bluebell eyes cautious, now. "But I do envy Avaric ever so much, sometimes."
My jaw dropped unwittingly.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Avaric," she murmured.
"Yes, I failed to miss that unfortunate part –"
"- no, Elphie, listen…" She inched across the coverlets, reaching for my hands. They were tiny against my monstrous-sized, skeletal-thin ones.
"See, Avaric has made life so easy for himself. He says dreadful things, drops the crudest innuendos and tells the filthiest jokes, though he's born as high class as I am!"
"And?" I prompted, bewildered as to where this was going, but attentive none the less. Her thumb caressed circles across my palms absent-mindedly, round and round.
"And…" she fumbled, struggling for words again. "And I can't. I mustn't. I mean, I'm Gilikin. I'm Galinda Upland of the Upper Uplands. Mumsie is more renowned than Madam Morrible! I must be quiet, and demure, and virtuous – I must uphold my family's honours and traditions, I must marry whom they see fit to be suitable for me, I must not drink too much, or curse, or gamble, I must not indulge in any activities unfit for a girl of my status, I must be good, I must – I must –!"
"Behave at all times like the modest, sensitive, beautiful young woman you are," I murmured half to myself – cursed Oz, listen to me, all soppy-talking. She beamed.
"Oh Elphie, you don't really think that, do you?"
"Of course I do," I said, crisply, "as I believe any sane person who knows you would agree."
She nodded, thoughtful again. "I am rather good at it, I suppose. And I do enjoy it, mostly, I do. But sometimes…"
She bent closer, intent, face lit with excitement again. "Sometimes I look at Avaric, at how wild he is, and I just want to join in! I want to drink as much as Milla did at Pfanee's birthday party, I want to curse as dreadfully as Crope does, I want to gamble like Fiyero, I want to…to…"
She was scarlet in the face now, and I raised my eyebrows; grinned; opened my mouth to say it myself –
"Miss Elphaba -!"
"- oh, spit it out, you little idiot!" I cackled, ignoring her scandalized expression and pretending to drag her hands away from her ears where they had flown in panic.
"Please, please don't say it!" she begged, mock-slapping out at me, but I dodged away. Her giggles mingled with my own cackling as I scrambled away down the bed.
"Elphie!" she called after me as I clambered off the edge and padded across the floor towards the bathroom. "Oh Oz, you can't possibly want to go to sleep yet…"
"If I recall correctly," I called over my shoulder, entering the bathroom and reaching for my toothbrush, "we have an early start tomorrow. Don't you remember? I believe Doctor Dillamond said the test would begin at eight sharp, and we wouldn't want to wake late and find we had no time to curl our hair or primp our lashes to perfection, now, would we…?"
"Oh, that silly test," she sighed miserably, skipping up behind me to meet my reflection in the mirror. "I had so many plans for the weekend, but no, we must slouch our way through a horrendible question paper all Saturday morning instead."
She slumped against my shoulder, a tumble of sunshine curls. I pushed her away, bending to rinse my mouth. She sighed, leaning against the doorframe instead and plucking at the ribbon on her nightdress sleeve. A few moments of silence passed, whilst I washed my face, dried my hands, tidied my towel and toothbrush. It was only when I was padding back to my bed, Galinda behind me, that she spoke.
I laid my precious book on the bedside table, careful that it sat a safe distance away from the water jug. "Last question, Miss Upland."
"Mm-hm…" She sidled up beside me, arm paddling through mine as I drew back my covers, a mischievous glint in her eye. I eyed her warily.
"Ok." She grinned up at me. "Isn't there someone – anyone – at Shiz that you wouldn't say no to spending an evening in a cupboard with?"
My eyes narrowed. She giggled in delight.
"Please, Elphie?! There must be someone!"
"Well, a cupboard's as good a place as any to strangle Avaric. Plenty of rope around. And I'm sure Doctor Dillamond wouldn't mind using it as an alternative classroom to lead his private tutorials in –"
"Elphie." She gave me another scowl – she was getting a bit too fond of those – hands firmly planted on her hips whilst I grinned, folding myself into bed and tucking the blanket in.
"Please. A proper answer."
Her eyes were pleading, alight with hopeful curiosity. In the dimming firelight, they were bluer than ever; the colour of crushed cornflowers, Boq always said, and I had to admit, I could see where he got that from.
"Just…just think." She bent close, all secretive and whispering. "If you absotively had to be in that cupboard I was in, last night…who would you want in there with you?"
A beat of silence, whilst I scowled up at her. I felt my mind straying, playing over her words; if you absotively had to be in that cupboard…Fiyero's stupid, smirking face appeared in my mind, laughing that ridiculously overloud laugh all the girls loved to simper over…
"No – no – Galinda – Miss Upland – this is madness, there's no one, no one in Shiz, no one in the entire world I would ever…"
"No one…?" Her face fell.
"Miss Upland, I'm tired," I snapped out quickly, not quite meeting her eyes. "I'm tired. Please."
She bit her lip, all that eager enthusiasm slid from her face like water. Pouting, she sidled away, back across the room and into her own bed. I stared very hard at the ceiling, watching the firelight dance and flicker. Silence stretched between us.
I sighed. Yes, I truly was a natural at breaking up conversation. The first snippet of something one might even refer to as girl talk – the very phrase made me cringe – and I had ruined it in about…oh, three minutes flat?
Brilliant, Elphaba. Just…brilliant.
I heard Glinda shuffling around; the muffled thump of a fist against a pillow, a heavy sigh from her end, as well.
I gritted my teeth. "Miss Upland –"
"I just wanted to say goodnight, Elphie!"
"Oh. All right. All right, go – go on."
Silence for a moment. Then…
"Ok. Goodnight, Elphie. See you in the morning. Sweet dreams."
I turned over, pulled the covers around my ears, closed my eyes. Knowing my luck, I would dream of nothing but Oz-damned cupboards all night.
This friendship thing was going to take some getting used to…
"You too, Glinda."