She's always in your thoughts, a constant reminder of what might have been. Everywhere you go, you search for her face in the crowd. Any flash of viridian catches your eye and sets your heart to a thundering beat that takes far too long to calm again. But what you think you see is never what you truly wish it to be. Maybe they were right, and she really is dead and long gone now. If she lived, she would have made some sort of attempt to contact you, wouldn't she?
Sighing, you shift to a more comfortable position on the window seat, and press your cheek to the cool glass. There's nothing to see outside at this late hour and, even if there were, the sheeting winter rains would hinder your view. The full orb of the Lurlinemas moon isn't even visible; not that it's ever been all that interesting since she d-- went away.
A knock at the door pulls you from your nightly introspection. "Lady Glinda?"
"They're waiting for you."
"Yes, I'm sure they are," you mutter before clearing your throat to continue in a louder voice again. "I'll be right there, Joseph."
You linger at the window a moment longer, unwilling to leave. What if she should suddenly appear here, after all these years, only to find you gone? Would she leave you a sign of her visit? Would she come back again? Could you survive knowing that she'd been here and left without actually speaking to you?
~You can't do this, my sweet,~ her voice whispers in your head. ~Please don't torture yourself like this over me.~
"Oh, Elphie," you whisper and lean forward to press your lips to the glass. If she comes, she'll see that as a sign to stay, to wait for you. "Don't leave if I’m not here. Wait for me."
Using spells from the Grimmerie always drain you to the point of exhaustion. You've no idea how Elphaba ever did it without the bone-deep weariness. Then again, you've learned enough over the years to know how closely it's tied with her father and his genetics. It took over a decade of ceaseless study to break the code of the language and its constantly wandering text. And yet, you found that you just knew some of the spells without even knowing how to pronounce the words, let alone what they meant. You have no idea how it would even be possible to learn this arcane language from the Wizard's home of Kansas without a tutor versed in it.
The rain deflection spell is one that you use so often, it can be activated with the barest thought; the sun shade spell works the same way. The Ozian masses will be huddled about their fires or under their down comforters tonight, praying to Lurline that they won't get sick. You'll be huddled under your down comforters tonight, as well, just for a thoroughly different reason.
Stepping into your bedroom to strip off the ostentatious dress of office you're forced to wear, the lights illuminating the room feel too bright for your suddenly sensitive eyes. Without thought, you move around the room, dousing more than half of the lights. The room takes on a twilight atmosphere, and the bands tighten around your heart as the memories threaten to break free of their closely guarded prison in your mind.
Slipping into your most comfortable nightclothes, you wander back toward the window seat. Feet tucked up under you and comforter wrapped around your body, you rest your forehead against the cold glass again. A finger traces the lipstick print you left before being hustled off for your public address.
"This always was your favorite time of day, Elphie. Barely enough light to see, but filled with shadows to blend into and disappear."
~My favorite time of the day has always been the time I spent with you, my sweet.~
"Oh, Elphie, I miss you…"
~Turn around, my sweet.~
You shake your head, fighting frustrated tears at the thought of a ghost talking to you in your own mind. Maybe you've inherited the insanity that clearly runs in her family, so obvious in the Grimmerie. Many times in the past, you did turn with hope in your heart, only to be reminded that she wasn't there. Why should it be any different now?
~My sweet Galinda.~
The faintest of breezes stirs your hair, and you swear you can smell that earthy oil she always bathed with. Squeezing your eyes shut, you force yourself to breathe deeply and slowly. It's just the exhaustion playing with your emotions. You really should go to bed, but you can't get your body to obey and move. The rain's steady shushing lulls you into a kind of lethargy, and your mind begins to wander into forbidden nooks and crannies without your conscious approval.
The faintest of lullabies begins to drift through your mind; the words are unintelligible, but they make you feel safe and comforted. The bands around your heart begin to loosen as you surrender to the heaviness of exhaustion and let the dreams take over again. The sensation of fingers combing through your hair further relaxes you, and that earthy scent gets stronger.
"Elphie," you whimper, struggling against the resurgence of tears.
"I’m right here, my sweet."
You stiffen as those words sound closer than they ever have before, but fear turning around to be thwarted again. Those fingers tighten in your hair briefly, and then a warm hand cradles your cheek, urging you to turn your head. You want to fight, but surrender in exhaustion instead.
"Open your eyes?"
You shake your head, heart clenching in your chest again. The softest of sighs sends a breeze across your face; it's the only warning you get before lips press warmly against yours. The sensation is so real, so strong, it makes you gasp, and your eyes open to lock on the deep black of her eyes.
"El-- Elphie?" you stammer, voice cracking on that beloved name.
"Hello, my sweet," is all you allow her to say before you pull her closer for another kiss, unwilling to let go and lose her again. Her lips are soft, pliant against the desperation of your attack, and her hand still cups your cheek. When you finally pull back to suck in a much-needed breath, she smiles and taps a finger against your nose. "Yes, I'm really here. I'm no figment of your imagination."
You shift to tug her into the alcove with you, reluctant to relinquish your hold on her. She silently puts up with your intense scrutiny. She's older, and yet she doesn't look all that different from when you last saw her. There are care lines etched into the skin around her eyes and mouth, and she looks skinnier than she did, despite feeling so very solidly muscular.
"Where have you been?" you finally ask.
"The ruins of Kiamo Ko, the Mauntery, Munchkinland, the Quadling Country," she says. "Wherever I was needed to help the Animals and learn more of the magic of my heritage."
"But never here."
"Always here. I have stood in the forest, staring up into your window, so many times; the shadows at the fringes of the crowds gathering at your appearances; anywhere that gave me the opportunity to see you. Did you never see the signs I left for you?"
Confusion furrows your brow. "Signs? You mean--? Of course, Elphaba lives."
Her delighted cackle, like her gentle kisses, is a balm to your soul. "No, that wasn't me, my sweet. Your favorite flowers left in various places, regardless of the season. The ones I remember being your favorites from your childhood."
"But you couldn't come to see me until now?"
"You never left me a sign that I could," she says sadly, then stretches to trace the lip prints on the window. "Until tonight."
That simple explanation pulls the ground from beneath you like that rogue wave that nearly killed you all those years ago when you were a child. You could have had her here with you long ago? The tears start in earnest now, and you don't even try to stop them.
"I'm so sorry, Elphie," you whisper between ragged, hiccupping breaths.
She pulls you close, stroking your hair and back repeatedly as that lullaby begins again. The last thing you consciously remember understanding is her voice repeating, "I'm here, my sweet, I'm not going anywhere."
Dawn breaks, casting rosy streaks of rainbow color across your bedding. You move to stretch and bump into a warm, lanky body. Panic flares for a brief moment until you crack open your eyes to find that beloved face next to yours, smoothed in sleep. You watch her for a long moment, holding your breath in fear of her sudden disappearance at the slightest disturbance. When those impossibly long lashes flutter and part to reveal her dark eyes, you breathe again.
"Good morning, my sweet," she murmurs huskily and leans closer for a gentle kiss.
"You're still here."
"I am. I'm not going anywhere, Glinda. I'm tired of running and being alone. Animals don't always make the best of companions when your heart is pining for the one you love."
You feel the flush heating your cheeks at her admission, heart nearly bursting with love. "But people think..."
"Let them think it. I have slipped in and out of their presence for more years than I care to remember. But I won't spend the rest of my life without you by my side," she says, then closes her eyes briefly. "That is, if you still want me."
Your arms tighten around her waist, pulling her closer. "You're all I've ever wanted, my Elphie."