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Oh, for the Rainbow!

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The first Emerald City Pride was an almost subdued affair, Elphaba thought – when terror of her upcoming public speech didn’t drive all other thoughts from her head, that is.

After Glinda deposed the Wizard, she’d begun working to rehabilitate the memory of her (presumed) late best friend. Doing so had inevitably attached her to the cause of Animal rights; whether Glinda had come to pursue that cause so vigorously in memory of her, or through new-found passion, Elphaba couldn’t say – and wouldn’t ask. Still, eventually the time had come when she and Fiyero found there were no rebel Animals left in need of support. Moreover, public opinion – always a fickle thing – had shifted so that she was no longer reviled as a terrorist, but revered as a freedom fighter. Well, ‘revered’ might be an exaggeration, but she finally felt it might be safe to go home.

Of course, there was the small problem of her having no home, no family to go to. Fiyero did, though, and they had finally parted ways so that he could reunite with them. Elphaba almost inevitably gravitated towards the Emerald City; Glinda, it seemed, was the only person left she cared about. Unsure as to how she might go about obtaining an audience with someone who was to all intents and purposes the ruler of Oz, she chose the simple expedient of using her broom to sneak into the palace under cover of darkness. Finding her way to the door of Glinda’s chambers, she stood outside nervously for a long while before summoning the courage to knock.

“Come in!” came the call, in that wonderfully musical voice that she hadn’t heard in so long. Slowly, Elphaba opened the door and stepped inside. Her eyes immediately locked onto a mass of golden curls tumbling down over a pink robe. “Yes, what is…” began Glinda as she turned around. Her eyes widened in shock, and she took a few hesitant steps forward. “Elphie? Is that really you?”

“Yes, Glinda, it’s me.” Her voice was shaky, an unexpected tide of emotions flooding over her at seeing her friend’s beautiful face again after so many years.

“But… I saw that little girl meltify you!”

“It was only a trick; if the Wizard’s forces thought I was dead, they would have no reason to pursue me.”

“Oh.” Slowly, Glinda’s expression began to change. “The Wizard has been gone for years. Why didn’t you come back sooner?”

“I wanted to, but…”

“But what, Elphie? What reason did you have to stay away for so long? I thought you were dead! I mourned you! Do you have any idea what you’ve put me through?” In the face of Glinda’s fury – and her own guilt – Elphaba fled, heedless of Glinda calling after her.

Seeing Glinda again had reawakened old feelings, things she had repressed over the past few years. The attraction that was only just forming itself when the Wizard’s schemes tore them apart was back with a vengeance. Elphaba could no longer deny that she had romantic feelings for her best friend. Her female best friend. It would have been another reason for her father to despise her – Munchkinland wasn’t known for its tolerance. That gave her pause; with Animal rights largely restored, she’d been feeling a little useless. Here was a new cause worth fighting for, and one which was even more personal than the last.

She quickly discovered that her ‘new’ cause was, in fact, already well established – and in no need of fresh leadership. What they could use, however, was a figurehead. Somebody who just happened to have one of the most recognizable faces in all of Oz. And that was why, a couple of weeks later, Elphaba found herself clutching a pre-written speech, preparing to proclaim it the right of all Ozians to love whoever they chose, no matter their gender, species, or the color of their skin.

Even if it was green.

The second Emerald City Pride was all about the rainbow. A few of the inaugural marchers had used it as a symbol, and this time it seemed to have spread to more than half of the crowd. A crowd which was far larger than the previous year – people had come from all over Oz to join the parade. Elphaba had been asked to give another speech, but this time she was only one of several speakers.

Over the past year, she and Glinda had slowly repaired their friendship. It had taken a while for Glinda’s anger to subside, and affairs of state meant she had scant time to spare, but they had a second, longer, reunion a couple of months after Elphaba’s return. After that, they met monthly, and eventually weekly, getting to know one another again, sharing the joys and sorrows of the past few years, learning to trust once more. They had, Elphaba hoped, got back most of what they’d lost.

When the date of the second Pride drew close, Elphaba casually asked if Glinda was considering going, but she claimed to have ‘an important engagement’ that day. Elphaba managed to hide her disappointment; she’d come to understand how much political capital Glinda had spent supporting the cause of Animal rights, while fighting the legacy of the Wizard’s regime. Maintaining support for her progressive agenda was a delicate tightrope act, and one that Elphaba didn’t envy her friend.

She was rather less nervous about speaking than she had been the previous year – being well aware that this time she was little more than the warm-up act for the real leaders of the movement who would be following her. As for the day’s final speaker, no-one had actually told her who it was. She was as surprised as the rest of the crowd, then, to see Glinda descending in her bubble to give a speech which, while heartfelt, was perhaps a little pompous and self-centered. Some things hadn’t changed.

It was only later that Elphaba realized just how personal her friend’s speech had been. She began to wonder if Glinda was, in fact, suggesting that she too was romantically interested in women. And if so, perhaps she might be interested in one woman in particular. Elphaba resolved to find out as soon as possible – the two of them had already wasted enough time.

The third Emerald City Pride was essentially a party. If the crowd hadn’t grown as substantially as it had the previous year, that was largely thanks to a number of other towns and cities across Oz holding their own Pride celebrations over the preceding weeks. Of course, those had simply made the Emerald City determined to out-do them all.

“Are you ready?” Elphaba called impatiently. As usual, Glinda was – in her opinion – taking far too long to put on clothes and make-up.

“Almost!” Glinda replied. “Could you please come in here for a moment?” Elphaba sighed, and went through into Glinda’s dressing room. Technically it was their dressing room, but as her clothes occupied a tiny fraction of the storage, when compared to her girlfriend’s extensive wardrobe, she didn’t really think of it as a shared space – unlike the bedroom. Glinda, wearing her favorite blue gown, was sat at the make-up table, studying her reflection intently. “What do you think?” she asked.

When Glinda turned towards her, Elphaba could see a delicately painted rainbow starting around her left eye and curving down her face. She suspected that it had been magically applied – cosmetic spells were something that Glinda had, not unexpectedly, taken to rather well. “You look beautiful, as always.”

“You don’t think it’s too much?” Coming from Glinda, that was a somewhat ridiculous question.

“No, it’s very… you.”

“Good. Now, sit down. It’s your turn.”

“What? No!” That didn’t last long; Elphaba had struggled to say ‘no’ to Glinda ever since that very first makeover back at Shiz. Soon, she had a matching rainbow stripe going up her right cheek, all the way to her hairline.

“There! Now we both look splendiferous!”

“Indeed we do. Are you nervous?”

“Terrificated, but I want to do this anyway. It’s important; to us, and to all those people out there who feel the same way we do.”

This would be their first time appearing in public together; whilst their relationship was something of an open secret among those who worked in the palace and, to a lesser extent, among citizens of the Emerald City, today would mark the moment that they officially acknowledged it.

Arm in arm, the two witches walked down from the palace gates to join the parade. Their appearance caused a stir, and soon they were posing for photographs taken by the gentlemen – and ladies – of the press. After a few minutes, they were left in peace to enjoy simply being part of the crowd. Elphaba marveled at how much things had changed in just two years: from a march to raise awareness, to a celebration of differences. Eventually, they reached the park, and peeled away from the rest of the parade to go around back of the podium.

“So, ready for our big speech?” Elphaba asked.

“Yes, my sweet.” Glinda held out her hand. “Let’s go tell all of Oz how madly in love with me you are.”

“Um, Glinda…”