Written for Tami as part of the "while we tell of yuletide treasures 2004" obscure fandoms secret santa project.|
A Moment, Out of Time
by Beth H.
(c) December 2004
Sarima and her sisters.
So many dead.
And Nor, her heart still beating, yes . . . but now no more than half alive, a shadow, chained and broken at the feet of a madman.
It had been all Elphaba could do to keep from dropping to her own knees while the Wizard - messenger and murderer both - remained in the room, speaking calmly of Books and Other Worlds and what fun it had been to hatch plots with Madame Morrible all those years ago.
And then he was gone, taking Nor with him.
His departure should have given Elphaba a sense of release, but instead it only added to the oppressive atmosphere, as if all the oxygen in the room had followed in the Wizard's wake.
For a moment, she felt as if she were suffocating, drowning . . . and then she was moving toward the door.
How much time passed before Elphaba became aware that she had gone out into the gardens was unclear. How she had come to be standing beside the latticed folly that had been erected when her mother was still a girl, Elphaba did not know. She did not care . . . she was just grateful that she could breathe again.
She shivered in the night air, her fingers clenched tightly around her thin arms, her nails piercing the coarsely woven fabric of the robe she had worn to her sister's memorial service that morning.
Resting her forehead against a wooden post at the side of the folly, pressing hard against its weather-roughened surface, she closed her eyes, then breathed deeply.
It was little more than a whisper, but there was no mistaking the speaker.
"Glinda," she said, her voice sounding sharp and bitter, even to her own ears. "What are you doing here at this time of night? Wait, don't tell me! You've come to talk about fashion. Seems an odd time for it, but . . . no, perhaps you wanted to continue our discussion about reunification?"
She stiffened at the sound of the old name. Call me 'Witch," Elphaba wanted to scream, but she bit down hard on the words before they could be spoken.
They tasted of ash in her mouth.
A moment passed, and then she felt Glinda's hand rest feather-light on her shoulder.
She pulled away from the touch.
"Won't your husband be wondering where you . . . "
"Elphaba," Glinda said quietly. "I know the Wizard came to see you tonight."
She turned around and glared. What right did Glinda have to be here? What right did she have to speak of that monster in this place and on this night?
What right did she have to be standing so close to Elphaba, her flaxen hair silvered and diaphanous in the moonlight?
She might have asked those questions - tried to ask them, in fact - but before she could say a single word, she was drawn into Glinda's arms.
Elphaba attempted to pull away, but it was impossible. Either Glinda had grown far stronger than she had been when they were young, or . . . perhaps Elphaba wasn't really trying terribly hard to break free, for it had been so long, so very long since she had been held this close by anyone, so close that she could feel the beating of Glinda's heart as if it were her own.
Then the unaccustomed, but all-too-welcome warmth of body to body was no more, and for a moment, Elphaba felt unaccountably bereft, until Glinda's hand reached out for her own under the dark cloak of night.
"Come, Elphie. Come with me."
Glinda led her up the stairs and into the folly. She stumbled on the last step, but Glinda was there to steady her, to keep her from falling. Odd that Elphaba had never felt clumsy in these boots before tonight.
Eyes still half-closed, she let herself be seated on one of the two benches, its deep, velvet cushion soft beneath her.
Sweetly-scented, smooth hands brushed gently against the taut skin of her sharp cheekbones and pushed her hair back from her face. Glinda's kiss, warm and soft, was planted first on one temple, then the other.
Moving slowly as she'd heard people say one moved under water, Elphaba leaned forward to claim a kiss of her own. It had been almost two decades since their lips had last touched in a shared farewell, but Glinda's mouth was still perfect.
Once more, Elphaba pressed her lips to Glinda's mouth, then along her jaw and down her neck. Glinda's skin was clean and fresh, the way Elphaba sometimes imagined water might taste. She paused at the base of Glinda's throat, captivated by the sudden quickening of Glinda's pulse.
She drew back, wanting suddenly to see the expression on her old friend's face, but as she did, Glinda looked away and lowered her hands to her side.
Elphaba bit the inside of her cheek, trying to keep her frustration in check . . . but Glinda raised her hands again and ever so deliberately, she removed her cloak and set it beside her on the cushioned bench, then unlaced the pale pink ribbons which held together the front of her thin gown.
"Come, Elphie," Glinda whispered, a tremulous note in her voice that Elphaba had heard only once before.
Slowly, Elphaba cupped Glinda's breasts with her hands, her long green fingers curling vine-like around ripe orbs. She brushed her thumbs across the rose-brown nipples, feeling them harden beneath her skin. Glinda moaned and arched her back slightly, and Elphaba lowered her head.
Times beyond counting, she had been told the story of the night she was born: the night the dwarf brought the Time Dragon Clock to Rush Margins. She heard how the crowd's frenzy had left her father beaten and forced to take shelter from one of the villagers. How he'd been unable to return home to help his wife deliver their first child. How her mother had been attended by the three - crone, wife, and maiden - and how Elphaba, a singularly unlovely child, had been born with a set of teeth one would more usually expect to find on a beast and a fierce hunger to match.
And how she had, in her first hours in the world, bitten off the finger of the fishwife all the way up to the knuckle.
No, there would be no breast feeding for her, no comforting embrace within her parents' arms . . . little enough touch of any kind throughout her life.
Glinda's words were spoken with more urgency this time - less entreaty than command - and Elphaba was happy, for once in her life, to obey. She drew close, then closer still, and very carefully, she closed her mouth over one of Glinda's nipples.
The taste was sweeter than Elphaba had expected it to be, different from the surrounding skin in some odd way she could not name. She took an experimental suck, smiling to herself at the moan it elicited, then grazed her teeth along the tender skin, giving in just this smallest bit to her oldest and strongest desire.
Glinda's moan deepened, and she held Elphaba tightly in her arms, loosening her hold only to run her hands down the long, straight fall of Elphaba's black hair.
"I've always loved your hair," Glinda murmured softly, emotion causing her voice to quaver. "So beautiful. So very beautiful."
Elphaba continued to travel over the contours of Glinda's breasts with her mouth, her lips, her tongue, until Glinda's soft moans became a series of breathless "Oh's" before finally the clutch of fingers on Elphaba's arms and quick burst of tears on Elphaba's face told her that Glinda had reached her completion.
As her own tears had done so many years ago, Glinda's tears burned like fire on her skin, but only for the briefest of moments before they were wiped away by Glinda's hands. Then, without saying a word, Glinda pulled her cloak over both of them, and the two women lay together on the cushioned bench, wrapped within the warm embrace of each other's arms.
This had changed nothing; Elphaba knew this. It was only one small moment out of time, and it had not come without pain. But it is these small moments - of love, of passion, of acceptance - that remind us we are alive . . .
. . . at least, for a time.
As she strode through the forecourt of Colwen Grounds, she crossed paths once again with Glinda. But both women averted their eyes and hurried their feet along their opposing ways. For the witch, the sky was a huge boulder pressing down on her. For Glinda it was much the same. But Glinda wheeled about, and cried out, "Oh Elphie!"
The Witch did not turn. They never saw each other again.
Chit chat, Critiques, Gratuitous Praise: beth-h @ mrks.org
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