It is hard to focus on lessons.
The young princess’ eyes wander away from her stack of history books and settle on the arched window and the blossoming cherry tree outside of it.
There is no one else in this stuffy corner of the Sorceress' grand library. The princess imagines that she could easily go to the window without anyone noticing her and climb onto the branches of the tree. She imagines how pleasant the boughs would be to sit in and how perfect a place it would be to hide from boring lessons.
The lessons wouldn't be so boring if they weren't in books. There are other ways of learning. Wandering about the city and Glinda's palace and talking to different people about their lives is a good way to learn new information about the world. Lectures, are a perfectly respectable way of learning things. Professor Wogglebug is thoroughly educated and gives lively ones regularly in the city. He’s gathered a little group of thinkers and like minded educators and Ozma is in the process of allocating the resources to build a university for them to give their lessons at. In the meantime, Glinda is doing what she can to make sure the princess is caught up with the history of the world and what being the "Regent of the Land of Oz" entails. Glinda likes books, so books it is.
Ozma looks down at the text and tries to grasp the meaning of the words in front of her. They having meaning, she knows as much. Ozma has known that written words have power from the moment old Mombi sat Tip down at the kitchen table and had Tip practice letters on a slate. The book in front of her is about past kings and queens of Oz and their accomplishments and contributions to the country but the words are empty of any real meaning. As far as Ozma is concerned, these kings and queens are long dead and therefore have little to do with what is happening right now. What is happening right now is that the current regent could be sitting in a tree and listening to the sound of the bees collecting pollen. She needs to finish this chapter before going downstairs to her magic lessons with Glinda but there seems to be an endless amount of pages.
Her eyes glaze over the words and finally she realizes she’s been looking at the partial phrase “Pastoria II’s political views had” for several minutes. She’ll finish this chapter and then go downstairs for magic lessons and then dress for supper and then have supper, dessert, perhaps take a walk, prepare for bed and wake up to another day of Glinda’s endless tutoring. Ozma wishes Glinda would give her more time, it’s been less then a year since she found out she was a princess after all.
“Pastoria II’s politcal views had-“
The same phrase refocuses in front of her. Not the Pastoria that’s her father, but some other Pastoria from how many generations back she’s forgotten and she can’t bring herself to flip back to the page in the back of the book with all the lineages and family trees and lengths of reigns. Ozma can’t bring herself to want to finish this chapter.
"Pastoria II's political views had-" nothing to do with her or this lovely afternoon.
She yawns and stretches. The window with the glorious cherry tree is still there and she eyes the closed door Glinda had disappeared from a little over half an hour ago.
The blossoms smell sweeter than she expected and shake their tiny petals into Ozma’s hair as she pulls herself up through the branches. This is much more satisfying than sitting in that stuffy corner of the library. She wonders if Professor Woggelbug’s progressive teacher friends will teach a course on tree climbing. Ozma thinks she should be a guest lecturer on the topic.
This was posted in my one shot/warm up collection "Merry Old Land" when I was warming up to the idea of writing a story about Ozma's relationship to magic. I've tweaked it a bit and it fits in the timeline of Over the Rainbow if you'd like to treat it as a part of that.
On the marble tabletop is a delicate crystal vase and in the vase is a pink rose. Its petals begin to tremble in the still air. The Sorceress waits patiently for the Princess to find the magic to perform the spell. With enough experience the Princess will not have to dig so deep to find it and she will have magic on the tip of her fingers to use at her command. That is the Sorceress' hope. For now the Princess uses a silver wand as a conduit instead of her body. (The Princess has been using the wand for some time now but the Sorceress can see that she will be using it for a while yet.)
The Princess’s brows furrow as she extends the wand to the rose. She is to turn it into a poppy. A simple transformation spell. The Princess had excelled at transportation spells, especially long distance transportation spells to move objects from one location to another in the blink of an eye, and regularly employed them in sending correspondences to countries across the deserts. She could even make slight alterations to the properties of magical objects, such as the Magic Belt and the Magic Picture, to suit her needs. (The Sorceress had read in her Book of Records that Dorothy no longer had to make a signal to the Magic Picture to arrive in Oz, she simply had to wish to be in Oz and the Magic Belt would transport her, even when Ozma wasn’t wearing it.) ((It has yet to be used for this purpose but Glinda is certain it will succeed.))
Easy and practical transformation spells, however, still prove a difficult task. (It is turning a flower into a different flower, it is not like she is turning an owl into an elephant.)
There is too much tension in the Princess’s shoulders and her grip on the wand is too tight. (The Sorceress will correct her on these at another time.)
The stem of the rose wriggles in the air. There is too much fire in the Princess’ eyes for this sort of beginner's magic. This spell will be easier when she is older and has formed a better image of herself. For now the Princess is a moody teenager frustrated and distrustful of her own powers. She is a child too used to seeing magic as a threat. (This test is not to measure the Princess’ skill but to let the Sorceress understand how long they must wait to try again.)
There is a sudden burst of green smoke and the shaking petals fall off the rose. The stem shoots up and curves around itself. The vase that once held a rose now holds the sharp and angry vine of a blackberry bramble. No blossoms or fruit, just jagged leaves and large thorns. (The Sorceress will give credit where credit is due, it is a successful transformation.)
The Sorceress looks at her pupil hoping that she can be pleased with what she’s done but it is clear from the Princess’ still knitted eyebrows that the bramble was not the intended effect. “Perhaps it did not want to be a poppy,” the Princess says tersely. (The test proves what the Sorceress has long suspected and is therefore successful. The transformation lessons can wait a while yet.)
This chapter was originally written as the one shot "On Parenthood" from "Merry Old Land". It's much different here. I decided to post these three chapters at once since I like how they read together. There will be more but I still need to detangle some of the details and logistics. I do have most of the middle outlined and a majority of the ending written so it will be up in time.
It is one of her earliest memories. There is the dappled sunlight making patterns on the trunk of an apple tree and there is the smell of rotting fruit. She, a boy child then, with short pants and tanned and scabby knees, is pulling at the little blades of grass that run along the exposed tops of the roots. Dirty purple skirts and worn work boots move with an old and hunched body over the caked dry dirt. The child looks up to see their caretaker collecting bitter black apples into a basket. The fruit is not good to eat fresh but the old woman looks the child in the eye, something she only does before raising her oak staff or willow switch, and bites into the fresh picked black apple on the spot.
Ozma hasn’t been back since becoming a princess but she still sees it in dreams. A wooden farmhouse painted purple with witch’s charms hanging around the front porch, wind chimes ringing and sun bleached animal bones that clatter in the wind. She smells it in dreams too. Dried plants and roots hanging from the ceiling. Sometimes Glinda uses the same ingredients in spell work and Ozma is back in that witch’s kitchen.
There was a garden filled with vegetables. Turnips and artichokes, rutabagas and purple carrots. Dark tomatoes and eggplants on a vine and every year enough purple potatoes and red cabbage to make one sick. The Princess does not allow the kitchen staff to serve her cabbage. On travels to the Gilikin Country, she will eat it out of politeness to her hosts, but she will still feel hungry after the meal.
There was the herb garden, with loads of sage and rosemary and lavender and other things witches need. In her childhood, Ozma had done well to avoid this place but in dreams she finds herself there and wakes up at the site of muddied purple skirts. There was another garden she was not allowed to touch for the plants that grew there were all poisonous and while the old woman did not treat her charge well, she was careful to not let the child die.
On the borders of the land there were brambles, thick and spiky and impassible. Once the child tried to run away from her caretaker, but whatever distance was traveled away from the house, the child never arrived at the blackberry thicket and always returned to the house, as if the Earth had been placed on some rotating stage. Ozma knows now that this was done by magic to keep her on the witch's property but the effect consistently shows up in her dreams. Still, in the late summer months, the bramble was full of blackberries, plump and juicy and sweet as the sweetest spring water. In August the Princess craves them and rides out to a Gilikin farm (far and in the opposite direction from the witch's house) to pick them. It’s an annual event. She brings her royal retinue and they picnic afterward.
In the Princess’ memories there is the freedom of hiding in the fields near the edges of the bramble. Big fields of tall grass were excellent for hiding and the child had honed hiding to a well polished skill. The old woman had always said it was Tip’s curse and Ozma still does not know if that was meant figuratively or literally. When he was meant to collect firewood, Tip would hide in the canopy of a great oak tree and watched a bird tend to its nest. Tip could squeeze himself in the space between the house and the garden shed to escape any foul smells brewing in the kitchen. Tip could had hide behind the wood pile when the old woman was particularly frustrated with the world and needed to unleash her anger. Tip had hidden in the rows of purple corn and waited until the lavender sky turned midnight blue and had counted all the stars.
It is difficult to count stars in the city, between its endless glow and how its towers and spires rise out of the landscape as if to say, "Here I am! Here I am!" Ozma revels in the unnerving luxury of visibility and still there are some days when Ozma yearns to hide again, but it seems all her childhood curses have worn off. Perhaps it is because she is all grown now and sometimes she thinks that perhaps the world is not as cruel as an old witch. Some days the Princess patiently goes through the motions of the day and anxiously waits for the exposure of the fact that she is just a farm child and not worthy of her position. It is, she realizes when she takes the time to think about it, a silly, unfounded fear. Dorothy had been a farm child too once and in Ozma's mind, Dorothy is worthy of everything.
In the Gilikin blackberry fields, Ozma’s friends smile, pleased at being able to take such a marvelous outing. They compliment Ozma on her skill at finding the best and biggest berries, buried deep in the hard to reach crevices of the thicket. Afterwards they spread out the big checkered blanket in a field of cropped grass. They rest and talk and those who have the need to eat take lunch. Dorothy is radiant as she lays in the sunshine and Ozma cannot help but lay down beside her. She presses her face in the corner of Dorothy’s shoulder and neck and allows the Sun to pour his rays over them.
Dorothy is dreaming. Of what she doesn’t quite know. It’s not a terribly important dream but it is the sort of dream that’s full of nice colors and warm feelings. Suddenly there’s a shout and she’s plunged right out of it like plunging her face into cold water and she finds herself laying in the bed she fell asleep in. It is not her bed, rather Ozma’s luxurious pile of green velvets and satin. Dorothy is awake and the shouting repeats itself in her ear and the sheets beside her are moving and to her dismay she realizes what is happening.
She moves over to where Ozma is twisting herself in the bedsheets and yelling out some half finished thought into the bed curtains.
This is not the first time Dorothy has woken to this.
Dorothy has learned the best way to deal with this is to pull Ozma into her arms and kiss her forehead and tell her that she’s not wherever she thinks she is and that she’s in bed with her. The first time was shortly after Dorothy had taken up spending nights in Ozma’s chambers. Dorothy had tried to shake her awake but it only ended with Ozma yelling louder and Dorothy had to fetch the maid for help but by the time she and the maid had returned, Ozma was asleep again. When asked in the morning Ozma could not remember the incident at all and insisted that she had slept soundly all night long.
It has only happened a handful of times since and it doesn’t happen every night. Once in an odd blue moon really. Each morning afterwards Ozma is insistent that she slept fine or that she didn’t have any dreams to speak of.
Dorothy now shifts to hold Ozma until she falls back asleep. Dorothy quietly smooths down her hair down. Tonight is different though. Ozma inhales and her eyes change. She looks up at Dorothy. Dorothy knows she is awake, really awake, and not still dreaming with her eyes open.
“Oh,” she breathes and Dorothy can feel her arms tremble. “Was it happening again?”
“Yes dear, but you are all right. You are here. We’re in bed together and there’s no one to bother you here.”
“Oh,” Ozma mutters, arms relaxing, lips pressing a kiss onto Dorothy’s cheek.
- - -
In the morning over breakfast in the sitting room of the Royal Suite, Ozma looks up from a letters she’s reading and sips her tea. “I remember what my dream was about.”
Dorothy looks at her expectantly, “What was it?”
Ozma shakes her head dismissively and turns back to the papers. “It wasn’t anything awful. I dreamt I was at Mombi’s house.”
Dorothy nearly drops her toast. Ozma rarely speaks of Mombi except in recounting the tale of how Jack came to life to new comers and by now it is a long since memorized script. From what little she knows about it, Mombi’s house does not strike Dorothy as a pleasant place.
“Do you often dream of Mombi’s house?” she asks tactfully, reaching across for the jam.
Ozma shrugs, turning back to the mail. “No more often than you might dream of Kansas. Doesn’t everyone dream of their childhood?”
Dorothy knows that there is a world of difference between her memories of her beloved Kansas farm and the scarcely spoken realities of life at Mombi’s house. “Was it a good dream?” she asks.
Another shrug. Ozma opens another letter with a quick slice of a silver letter opener. “It was neither a good dream nor a bad dream. I simply dreamt that I walked from the porch to the little herb garden.”
“That’s what had you shouting like that?”
“The Scarecrow and the Patchwork Girl have invited us to a party at the Scarecrow’s house. Should we go? It sounds like it should be amusing.”
Dorothy knows when Ozma wants to change the subject and turns her attention to the invitation.
i want this fic to read like an soundtrack-less art house film but also like oz, please bear with me while i find the balance
lol I may have to rearrange the chapter order to give a neater linear flow lol but I'm gonna keep it how it is until I figure out some more stuff. I know what the final design of this quilt of a fic will look like, and I know the overall colors and patterns of all the pieces/chapters, I'm just at the part where I'm tacking the pieces to the board to see what looks best together.
Glinda had not been pleased when she discovered the arrest of the Munchkin boy named Ojo. She had never been pleased at all with Ozma’s general ban on magic. She admonished the princess in a strongly worded correspondence, sent the night before the trial.
“I know my words will not dissuade your opinions on the use the magical arts. It is true that as a ruler your obligation is to decide if magic is being used justly and the punishments for those who use it to harmful ends. I remind you that it is also true that your people are fairy folk and have the right to practice their innate magic freely.”
“I implore you to pardon your ‘prisoner’ who does not harness magic directly and only seeks to collect magical ingredients out of purely good intention.”
Ozma will take the details of Glinda’s plea for Ojo’s innocence to heart, but she will not touch the legal restrictions on magic work she has put in place.
- - -
After it was all over and Ojo’s uncle is restored from his petrified state, the Shaggy Man had wanted to send stories from Oz over wireless telegraph to some historian in California to be recorded. He had been putting together a manuscript pertaining to the trials and adventures of Ojo and the Patchwork Girl. A few days after the final court session regarding the case, Ozma had found herself seated on the cushion of a bay window in her chambers looking out over the gardens. Dorothy was sitting beside her, going through the Shaggy Man’s notes and adding her own details. She had asked Ozma for her perspective of the trial and Ozma felt obliged to explain her reasoning behind some of her decisions.
“Doctor Pipt only created his version of the powder of life in the first place to help his wife. 'Make a patchwork girl to help with the housework that becomes a burden in old age.' His intentions were good. His execution, however, creating a whole new living creature whose sole purpose was to take on unwanted labor with no worry of the consequences, was foolish. I have since alerted the ruler of the Munchkins to the needs of his more isolated citizens and have allocated the resources for better social services in the mountain community that the Pipts were a part of. Ojo and his uncle only went to the Pipts because they were starving and would not have been involved in this whole mess if it weren’t for that. If my people are taking part in actions I have decreed illegal then it means I am not giving them something that they need."
There had been a pause as Dorothy finished penciling in her transcription. Ozma was glaring distractedly out the window.
“Did Glinda really allow the Wizard to take Doctor Pipt’s magic away?” asked Dorothy.
“Of course not,” Ozma had said, mildly irked that this was the case. “She would never. Not in a thousand years.”
Ozma could hear Dorothy pause her writing and she knew that Dorothy was thinking. “Then why did you have the Wizard take his magic away if Glinda would advise against it?”
Ozma blinked at her own furrow browed reflection staring back at her in the window glass. She tried to soften her face and turned to answer Dorothy. The pencil and papers were set aside on the cushions.
“Doctor Pipt gave me his word that he would not practice magic anymore, and at his age and after receiving his needed resources, I believe that he will keep his promise. The Wizard didn’t take his powers away. Only a person with very advanced magic skills can take away another’s magic.” A person like Glinda, is what Ozma did not say. The concept of magic being taken away presented the flash of a memory of standing in a red tent, distracted by loving and doting friends while the acrid smell of magic being drawn out of an old woman seeped out from behind closed curtains. The memory came in a second and then it was gone and Ozma continued, “Our dear Wizard was once a stage magician you know, and despite all the real tricks that he has up his sleeves these days, his best power is still the ability to make a large crowd believe that whatever he says must be true.”
“Why pretend that he did it then?” Dorothy had asked.
“So that anybody who tries to practice foolish magic understands what they could be in danger of losing,” Ozma had replied. It was a trick as bad as one of the Wizard’s might have been back in the old days, but one she considered necessary. Ozma didn’t want to see whatever Dorothy’s expression might be so she looked back at the window until she heard the sound of papers shuffling again.
“This is an awful lot to put through Morse code,” said Dorothy finally, “I think much of it will have to be shortened.”
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
In which there is a party.
This one's longer and more Ozzy in tone. Scraps is here as well as the usual cast of thousands. I've taken some liberties and made up quite a bit of new stuff, as you will see.
I have all the themes and arcs straightened out and outlined and a few major chapters already written so I just need to fill in the rest. Unlike Over the Rainbow I know how this one ends so hopefully when Blackberry Stone is done I can go back with what I learned about these characters and finish the first fic. Thanks for reading!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Dorothy, long and lean, is sitting at her silver dressing table and getting ready for the party. She is pulling up her hair into a tidy bun at the nape of her neck and putting on a string of blue beads. She plays with the idea of wearing matching earrings before setting them back into her jewelry box and catches Ozma’s eyes in the mirror. Ozma knows she’s been caught watching. She steps forward into boudoir places a kiss on Dorothy’s cheek before turning to the mirror to adjust the poppies in her hair.
- - -
The main roads through the Winkie Country are paved but the Sawhorse runs fast enough to still kick up a fair amount of dust. He turns the wagon onto a side road and soon it feels like the wagon is traveling through a dust storm. Or Ozma assumes it is what traveling through a dust storm is like. Ozma had once seen a sandstorm in the far distance when traveling the desert. Dorothy is more familiar with actual dust storms, Ozma supposes, but Ozma does not to make any mention of it to her.
The wagon continues on and soon they are in sight of the tower that rises out over the yellow fields of wheat and corn. The Sawhorse turns onto another road, this one paved with yellow brick. There are a number of travelers on it and the Sawhorse slows only slightly. They are all traveling in the same direction as the Royal Red Wagon. Mostly they are Winkies from neighboring farms or villages, walking in on foot in their best dancing shoes and still others are riding in their own carts or buggies. Some bow politely as the royal retinue passes but most simply wave in a friendly and familiar manner.
It is the first warm night of early summer and the sun has not yet set when the Red Wagon pulls up into the drive of the Scarecrow’s glittering manor.
Tik-Tok steps down from the wagon first with a helping hand from the Shaggy Man. As soon as the mechanical man touches the ground, the Shaggy Man leaps out and pulls a copper key from a ruffled pocket. He twists the key into Tik-Tok’s back three times. Tik-Tok gives his thanks before tipping his copper bowler to the various others arriving at the party.
Ozma steps down from the Red Wagon next. A breeze kicks up her skirts, making them flutter around her like petals on a long white flower. Dorothy, looking ever elegant in a powder blue robes de style dress, laughs at the sight of the yellow dust swirling into the cloud of white gauze. Ozma tries to roll her eyes and pretends to be put off but she knows Dorothy can see the gleam in her eye. Ozma extends a hand and helps Dorothy down from the wagon. It’s less of an offering of help (Dorothy rarely needs any) and more of an excuse to show off how neatly their hands fit together. Once Dorothy is out of the wagon, the remainder of the Royal Party alights from the wagon and arranges her feathers comfortably on Dorothy’s shoulder.
“You two lovebirds get a move on, I want to see what insects the Scarecrow has about in his cornfield.”
“You could go by yourself if you’re in such a hurry,” says Dorothy.
“But it is much faster to ride,” says the Yellow Hen, “and besides this is a better vantage point to see people from.”
The invitation sent by the Scarecrow and Scraps had left the nature of the party intentionally vague. Ozma knows that Oscar, that is, the Wizard, has been working with some artisans from across the land on some creative project on the Scarecrow’s property and Ozma has made the assumption that this is going to be the unveiling of whatever it is. Both the Oscar and the Scarecrow have kept it hushed and Scraps only ever answered Ozma's questions about it with more vexing riddles. Still, the mood of the crowd is cheerful and in the distance Ozma can see a group of people carrying instrument cases walking to the back of the house. One thing is certain: Tonight is going to be a light hearted evening full of friends and dancing and Ozma enjoys few things more than an excuse to dance with Dorothy.
The Sawhorse gives his word that he will be along as soon as he parks the wagon and shakes off his bridle.
The esteemed members of the royal court, ordinary farming neighbors, and other strange magical creatures are greeted at the door by the Scarecrow’s housekeeper. The small Winkie woman, a staple to the Scarecrow’s odd estate for as long as Ozma can remember the Scarecrow having an estate, directs the guests to an empty field behind the house, though the house would be open for those who wanted a rest from the festivities.
The field is full of yellow grass, such as the sort that grows in the Winkie Country in the summer and serves as a sort of lawn for the Scarecrow’s home. Dorothy has said that it reminds her of the dry Kansas grass during drought season, except that it does not “crackle beneath her feet”. Fairy lights have been strung across poles and there are a good number of chairs and round tablecloth covered tables for sitting. The people with the instruments are setting up near an area of flattened grass clearly meant for dancing.
Some of the guests are seen wandering down a fresh dirt path leading into the surrounding cornfields. The corn is still young and short enough to see what the path is leading to. Ozma’s eyes settle on an odd structure on the near horizon and smiles. Dorothy must see it too for she is laughing out loud. Ozma links arms with her and lets Dorothy lead them (and Bill) down into the cornfield.
The dirt path leads to a structure that looks like an oversized tomato shaped pincushion. Its rounded walls are painted red and the roof is made of green shingles, fanned out to form a star shaped stem. Green rain spouts run up and down the walls, clearly marking the different sections of the tomato. Sparkling in the sun are long golden pins sticking out of the roof, each with a different colored gemstone as their heads. Sapphire, ruby, amethyst, citrine, emerald; all the colors of Oz are represented. A couple of the pin heads have openings, suggesting that they are chimneys. There are skylights in the roof and wide windows with curtains that are, somehow predictably, made up of patchwork cloth.
“Oh I wonder who lives here,” the Shaggy Man says in a joking manner as Ozma, Dorothy, and Bill approach.
“So this is what our Wizard has been working on,” Ozma says while Dorothy and Bill go ahead get a closer look. From where Ozma stands she can see that the green rain gutters slide down the house into an odd little garden, the picket fence of which, is also made to look like glittering bejeweled pins. A section of the garden is filled with plots of cotton, flax, and hemp. Another larger section is empty save for one or two abstract sculptures that Ozma recognizes as the work of the sculptor who makes the busts for the palace gardens. On either side of the entry gate are two poles shaped like twin golden needles. Thread though the eyes of the needles are flowering vines growing blossoms in all number of colors.
The green door swings open (the doorbell next to it shaped like a thimble, of course) and the Wizard steps out onto the porch. Ozma notes that for such a short and wiry man Oscar still commands much of his old stage presence. His appearance alone gets the excited crowd to fall into hush.
He begins with much flourish and a wave of his black silk hat. “Ladies and gentlemen, animals and automatons, fairies and fellow mortals-"
“Oh get on with it!” A voice from inside the pincushion building, causing the audience to break into laughter.
“Ahem,” he straightens up, “Some of you hardworking artists, craftspeople, and tradespeople are in the know as to what has been happening here and some of you have been wondering just what on Earth has been going on over at the ‘Scarecrow’s field’. I will explain to the latter group in attendance just exactly what we’ve been up to here. Some months ago I was approached by the Scarecrow, who is thoughtful, and the Patchwork Girl, who is full of so many thoughts I can hardly keep up, as to how it would be possible to build a space for people who enjoy express themselves creatively to share ideas and create art together. As a long admirer of the arts I-“
“Oh you’re taking too long!” The door opens all the way and Scraps tumbles out onto the porch, her arms raising into the air, “We built a place where people can make art! A lot of people worked hard to help make this happen! Come see it so we can get the party started!”
The party it seems is a house warming party turned grand opening party. Scraps had come to live with the Scarecrow on his farm and had a house built in similar style as his corncob tower but in short time realized that a person who did not have need to eat or sleep did not need a house for her own and half way through construction changed plans for it to become a place for people from around Oz to come and make art.
One of Scraps' tenets in life, of which she has many, is that every person has the right to express their self as they please (so long as no one gets hurt) (who doesn't deserve it), and this tenant is apparent in every aspect of the building.
Upon entering, it is clear which parts of the building were designed by Scraps. The walls are covered in patches of wallpaper in every color and pattern, as if she couldn’t choose just one. The parts of the floor covered in carpet is made up of different swatches all connected together like a quilt. There are no bedrooms but rather a series of large spaces made to be something of an eclectic art studio. There are spinning wheels and spindles in different shapes and styles and a loom with a half finished tapestry of all colors of thread and yarn. There are shelves and shelves of fabric and yarn and against one wall a large table for piecing quilts and sewing projects. There’s already a dazzling pinwheel quilt made in fabrics that must have come from all over Oz. In a second room there is light let in by the skylights and windows and a wide wooden floor (each board made of a different wood or painted a different color varnish) for dancing. Along the walls of this room are easels and painting and drawing supplies. A third room, also well lit by skylights, has a kiln and pottery wheels. For those who would need it there is a kitchen and washrooms.
Though she had not been overly fond of the circumstances of the Patchwork Girl’s creation, nor the subsequent debacle of Ojo’s arrest and trial, Ozma cannot help but be delighted by Scraps as an individual. When given the choice to live wherever she liked, Scraps first chose to stick around the castle and sustain the friendships she had made in the royal court (most notably a very warm “friendship” that had blossomed between her and the Scarecrow). When she made court appearances others often expected that she should serve the role of jester, but Princess Ozma welcomed Scraps in council because she was not afraid to be frank about her opinions about rulings and traditions that did little to serve the people. When Scraps was not in the city she was known to wander around all corners of Oz looking for different unique sights and ways of thinking and doing things. When she is in the city, Scraps is known for putting on modern dance performances, encouraging children to engage in harmless pranks, and up until very recently, could be seen at the Wogglebug’s Athletic College teaching hands on workshops in conceptual, fiber, and performance arts. (Her visual work is not conventional but if anyone were to look at it and say, “Why anyone could do that!” she will reply with much enthusiasm and no hint of hurt, “Exactly!”) Ozma thinks that if she herself didn’t have to stick around the Palace with all her responsibilities, then she would love to travel and learn and teach and do as Scraps does (though perhaps with less poetry).
After the tour of the grand pincushion, Ozma and Dorothy make their way back through the cornfield to where the party is growing more lively.
“It was kind of the Scarecrow to let Scraps use his property for her new,” Dorothy pauses to think of the right word, “… house? Studio? Public arts center?”
“It’s wonderful isn’t it?” bursts Ozma excitedly. Her head is buzzing and brimming with the possibilities of different artists from all over Oz coming together to make different things. “But if I know Scraps, I doubt the Scarecrow had any say in whether or not his farm was going to be the spot for it. She probably announced it was going to happen and it did.”
“Let’s ask him,” says Dorothy, gesturing to where the Scarecrow is greeting guests near his house. At the moment he is talking with a beautiful young woman in a dress as bright and vibrant as the inside of the new building.
“Poly’s here!” gasps Dorothy.
The woman twirls around in a way that somehow displays an even brighter array of colors while also being the most elegant and controlled movement ever seen.
“Dot!” The woman beams and it’s as if the whole radius around her face is like the sun itself. Her eyes seem to reflect nothing but the color of the deepest sky. Elemental fairies, but especially those completely in tune with their own nature, are never anything less than gorgeous.
Ozma watches on as Dorothy and the Rainbow Fairy hug like old friends ( and they are old friends , she must remind herself) and exchange a round of “It’s been too long!” “Whatever are you doing here? There hasn’t been any rain.”
“So glad you could make it!” says the Scarecrow with a clumsy bow to Ozma.
“I’m so happy you invited us,” smiles Ozma. “We just came back from seeing Scraps. I think it’s a marvelous thing that she's doing!”
“Yes, she is full of brilliant ideas,” the Scarecrow smiles and puffs out his chest with pride.
“Scarecrow, please settle something for us,” says Dorothy, drifting away from Polychrome and pressing her arm reassuringly on Ozma’s shoulder. “Did you offer for Scraps to set up so close to your house?“
“Or," Ozma leans in, "Did she tell you that it was just going to happen this way?”
The Scarecrow laughs and scratches his head with his floppy gloved hand, “I suppose we came to the agreement together. We wanted to be close together and then she had the idea for a space for the arts and I was rearranging the fields anyway and it all just worked out nicely.”
“I bet it’s nice having her nearby,” says Dorothy with a grin that makes Ozma blush. The Scarecrow, to Ozma's surprise, catches Dorothy’s meaning and only laughs.
“Have you seen the new building yet?” asks Dorothy turning to Poly.
“Not yet, should I?”
“Oh, you’ll adore it,” says Ozma.
- - -
So the nature of the party is then seemingly settled. Guests arrive and are lead to the new structure and marvel at the display of fairyland architecture. There will be dinner for those who require food and dancing for all afterwards, because, as those in attendance agree, it is not a true fairyland party until there is dancing. The middle of the party is where things take a turn. Of course it takes a turn, thinks Ozma, because it’s a gathering partly hosted by Scraps and the Patchwork Girl would never take part in something so straight forward.
Dinner is winding down and everyone is eager to start the dancing. All eyes start to veer towards the members of the band who are finishing up their plates and gradually moving towards their instruments. “Do you think they’ll start soon?” whispers Dorothy giving a quick glance to the fiddle player at the next table over. Ozma is feeling relaxed and though this may be from her one glass of spiked lacasa, she is all too familiar with the sensation of being in a group of mostly fairy folk who are anxious for the music at a party to start. That Dorothy is a part of them makes something in her chest swell.
The last band member sets aside her glass of lemonade and walks over to where her instrument is waiting and while not everyone is taking about it, it does seem as if everyone is holding their breath. The unwelcome interruption of silverware clinking on glass makes the whole crowd lurch as if they were all aboard an unsteady boat.
The first voice to rise over the collective groaning is Scraps' exasperated rhyme:
“You know I love you but we all beseech,
Please! Please! Please no speech!”
The Scarecrow is standing on a chair at one of the tables with the perpetrating glass (empty, not matching all the other glasses, and seemingly conjured up just for this purpose) and spoon in hand.
“Speech!” shouts Nick’s unmistakable tinny voice.
“I want to thank everyone for coming here tonight!” says the Scarecrow, “I know our friends have worked hard constructing the new building. A toast to our friend the Wizard who used his magic and woodworking skills to help raise such a fine structure!”
“To the Wizard!” the crowd raise their glasses while Oscar stands from his seat beside Ozma. He gives a most theatrical bow and a wave of his hat.
“A toast to the hardworking craftsmen and carpenters and artists from all over Oz who helped us put this together. You will always be welcomed here to put together more of your wilder ideas!”
They raise a toast to the craftsmen and then to the carpenters and then to the artists, who, when they stand, are indeed are dressed in all the colors of Oz.
“And a toast to Scraps! Who had this whole idea to begin with!”
“To Scraps!” shouts everyone and the Patchwork Girl gives a bow and backflips onto the chair beside the Scarecrow.
“And a toast to this handsome fellow for being so agreeable with the plans and also for helping host this party!”
“To the Scarecrow!” they all cheer. Ozma has just taken in the last sip of her lacasa when Scraps sings out:
“Also a week ago we got married,
But nobody likes a dry ceremony,
So instead of subjecting you to that boring schmaltz,
We’ll welcome you to a roaring waltz!
Ozma splutters on her drink. She can feel it go up to her nose and she coughs into her napkin as the band starts up with such a fervor that nobody knows whether they should start dancing or give another toast. All around is complete happy chaos. Ozma looks to her right but Dorothy is already out of her chair and pushing through the crowd that has gone to congratulated the apparently newly weds, one half of whom is trying to drag her partner onto the dance floor.
Oscar is still in his seat to her left, tapping his fingers on the table in time with the upbeat music. “I don’t suppose you knew anything about this development?” asks Ozma. He only smiles and shrugs his shoulders. Ozma rolls her eyes in mock annoyance but she can't stop the smile that's spreading across her face.
The Scarecrow is Dorothy’s oldest friend in Oz and of course she’ll want to congratulate him as as soon as she can. Ozma on the other hand, can see Scraps’s plan of action and meets the Patchwork Girl and the Scarecrow at the entrance to the dance floor. “Not that it would have stopped you, but you have my royal blessing,” the Princess says cheerfully.
“Thanks!” bounces Scraps.
“We really do appreciate it,” grins the Scarecrow with a playful salute.
Ozma gives a polite bow and, brief royal duties now taken care of, tries to find Dorothy. There’s a squeeze on Ozma’s shoulder and a “Shall we dance, darlin’?” in her ear.
Whether it is on the polished ballroom floor of the Palace or on the trampled grass behind the Scarecrow’s corncob house, there is nothing Ozma relishes more than a dance with Dorothy. The perk of not being the host of the party is that Ozma can have as many dances as she likes with the other princess. No slow waltzes with dignitaries or awkward shuffles with ambassadors as so often happens at Palace balls. The band plays tunes from all over Oz. The swing of the music and the outdoor setting, Ozma realizes, is similar to the Kansas barn dances Dorothy has described to her, which might explain why Dorothy’s smile is brighter than usual. Or perhaps Dorothy is just happy for her friends. It could be as simple as that too. Whatever it is, Dorothy has been smiling without stop and Ozma can’t get enough of it.
Of course others do want dances with the two princesses. It's not everyday the average Ozite from the country can dance with a princess and as well as this there are so many old friends here. Ozma and Dorothy dance with Jack and Nick and the Wizard and the Shaggy Man and yes even the Scarecrow and later Dorothy agrees to a dance with Polychrome. When this happens Ozma sits at one of the tables to take a rest.
She drinks some water and watches Poly lead Dorothy across the grass. Ozma once had tried to court Polychrome, some years ago when she was a little younger and Dorothy was away in Kansas. Poly was a good sport about it but the princess didn't really know what she was doing. It ended shortly and on good terms. There had been something about Polychrome that didn’t quite fit with Ozma and Ozma could never quite put her finger on what it was. Perhaps it was Polychrome’s brightness or her overwhelming fairy charm or her certainty with her place in the universe as the Daughter of the Rainbow . Perhaps it was simply that she wasn’t Dorothy and that at the end of the day no matter how far away from Oz she was, Dorothy always had the stronger claim to Ozma’s heart.
“I thought fairies never tired of dancing.” There is the sound of straw rustling as a figure in blue sits beside Ozma.
“I thought that scarecrows never tired at all,” Ozma replies with a smile. “This is quite the party.”
“Do you like it?” the Scarecrow sounds chuffed, “I wasn’t sure about the music at first, songs and musicians from all over Oz, but I say its grown on me.”
“I think its marvelous that the people of Oz are finding ways to work together and make new things,” says the Princess. “Places that stay the same too long grow dull, don’t you think?”
“Quite right,” says the Scarecrow.
“Congratulations, again on your marriage. It came as a surprise, but a surprise is the least one can expect from Scraps.”
“Certainly so,” the Scarecrow sighs in adoration. Ozma follows his gaze to where Scraps is performing a lively dance with Nick. “It certainly surprised me when she proposed, but as you said, things get dull when they stay the same too long.”
Ozma laughs, “Of course she proposed. I could not imagine it any other way.”
“It was a small ceremony and very spur of the moment. Nick was our witness. I worried that more people may have wanted to attend but Scraps pointed out that everyone important was coming over for this party anyway. We figured that as long as we made it a good one, no one would mind.”
“It doesn’t look like any of your guests mind. If anything it gives a reason to celebrate more than they would have before.”
The band sweeps into the next song and Poly and Dorothy remove themselves from the dance floor and find their way to Ozma and the Scarecrow.
Ozma can feel her own cheeks burn up as Dorothy sits boldly in her lap and wraps an arm around her neck. “Are you having fun?” asks Ozma.
“A wonderful time,” says Dorothy kissing her on the cheek before leaning over to talk to the Scarecrow.
Dorothy expresses no disappointment at missing her oldest friend’s wedding. Ozma finds herself impressed by the Scarecrow’s deep trust in his friends not minding not being at the actual ceremony. Dorothy and the Scarecrow and Polychrome continue talking while a small vision flickers through Ozma’s mind: Dorothy and her in white. They could do that too couldn’t they? Elope and marry in a small Munchkin altar somewhere? No one would know, except perhaps Glinda and they could exchange rings. It wouldn’t change anything. They share the same bed most nights and Dorothy has taken on many royal duties at the palace. It would only be a way of saying, “I am yours forever” to each other. It is a nice vision, but Ozma knows that she and Dorothy are too public of figures to do that without upsetting someone. The Scarecrow and Scraps can trust in their friends to not be upset and apologize to everyone else with a party. Ozma would have to trust that the entire kingdom wouldn’t be upset and the makeup party would have to be so big that they might as well do the whole thing properly but- now that she’s thinking of it (now that she's looking at how much Dorothy is glowing right now), that wouldn't be so bad either.
Ozma balances Dorothy on her knees and plays with the loose hairs falling out of her once tidy bun. The whole of Nonestica can see their hearts belong to each other already. Still, it is something to consider. Just an idea for the future.
- - -
It is very early morning when the royal party finds their way back to the Emerald City. Dorothy falls asleep with her head on Ozma’s shoulder. The Shaggy Man and Oscar sit side by side in front of them looking up at the stars scattered across the sky. The Shaggy Man is saying something about constellations. Bill is in Dorothy’s lap with her head beneath her wing. Tik-Tok’s gears are gently ticking, but it seems even the mechanical man is looking on the calm cool night with wonder.
- - -
The two Princess’ collapse into the same bed at near four in the morning. Dorothy does not want to bother with waking up Toto or break the news to him that he missed quite a lot. She kicks her shoes off next to the bed and places her party dress and beads carefully on a chair in the corner of Ozma’s bedchamber and slips into the bed. Ozma can’t find the words to express how full her heart is right now and is glad that sleep overtakes her before she feels the need to express it out loud.
-Somehow I think it's important to not include the term "carriages" when writing about travel in Oz? Like wagons, carts, and buggies, even thought they sometimes mean the same thing, are somehow more specific to the Americana tone of it.
-The song that I imagine playing when Scraps says "Hit it!" and Ozma chokes on her drink is "Flight of the Passing Fancy" by The Squirrel Nut Zippers starting about 20 seconds in.
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Another flying dream. Ozma floats above her bed and above the palace and the city. She is being drawn north. It’s almost expected. She doesn’t often remember her dreams, with the exception of when she is dreaming, and in that dream space this sort of travel is routine.
Where will she go tonight? The barn? The briar patch? Old Mombi’s house? Oh let’s not go somewhere so dreadful, let us visit some friends first.
She averts her dreamtime flight, lands in the Munchkin Country. Now is the time when she forgets that this is a dream, which is the time when dreams really work their magic. She sees a farm with a blue barn and a house with little forget-me-not flowers painted all over it. Beside it an orchard of toffee trees.
Jinjur is home and Ozma takes tea with the former general and her nervous husband in their sunlit kitchen. Jinjur pours the teapot, which produces not tea but a distressing flow of dead bees. Ozma takes a sip and crunches on the bees. It is not dissimilar to eating popped corn. “Have you met my sister?” asks Jinjur, blowing on her teacup to cool it. When she does so, the bees shake awake and fly away out the open window. Ozma tries the same but her bees stay dormant. “My sister is visiting from out of Oz.”
Ozma is too preoccupied to figure out why her own bees won’t come to life when Jinjur gestures to the right of Ozma. Dorothy is sitting next to Ozma, knitting with long blue needles.
“Oh! That’s not your sister. That's Dorothy!”
“That is my sister,” says Jinjur with an intense glare. “She keeps bees, just like you or I or even my husband.”
“I do not keep bees,” says Ozma, confused.
“Oh. I think it is time you go then,” says Jinjur now rising from her seat at the table. As she does Ozma feels tired and decides to go home.
She goes home, in the way of dreams, by suddenly appearing at home. She takes off her purple cap and her mud stained shoes and tucks into the pallet by the hearth in the familiar round room.
There is a strong smell here that Ozma can't put her finger on. Has Dorothy tried some new perfume? No it is not Dorothy and it is too familiar to be new. She wonders if Dorothy will be coming to bed soon and realizes she has never seen Dorothy in this bed. The thought crumbles at a memory of watching Dorothy, just last night, not more than a few hours ago, braiding her long yellow-brown hair in the electric lamp light. But that was not this bed. That was her bed back in the city with the green comforters and velvet bed curtains. That was not this small corner tucked next to a gone cold cauldron and the smell of drying herbs and dense magic.
The image of her real bedroom and the image of her pallet in Mombi’s home criss-cross in her mental map of reality and dream space. Oh. She’s here again in this place that is not safe.
She looks around the room for any creeping sign of danger. She remembers other dreams like this. What will go wrong now that she’s here again?
Like clockwork there is a tug at the collar of her shirt and she is lifted off the pallet.
“What are you doing here?” says the disgusted voice of an old woman.
“I’m sorry!” Ozma is annoyed that her voice does not sound like her own, but that of a scared small child, “I don’t know why I keep coming here! Please!”
However hard she turns, she cannot catch sight of the witch. It is like her eyes are open but not.
There is a warm movement on Ozma's arm. It feels different from the grip on her collar and neck. It strokes up her shoulder and around and down her back and it feels… real.
A voice is in her ear, she can feel the vibrations of it travel down her jaw. “Darling you're alright.”
The grip on her collar loosens and the circular room fades and while there is the rhythmic sound of blood pulsing between her ears, Ozma feels herself floating and overwhelmingly safe until she is on the soft bedding of home again.
The dream disappears from her consciousness. The dream space locks itself away neatly into a little box and buries the key deep into the dirt.
Ozma opens her eyes. It is dark. Dorothy has her arms wrapped around her, is sleeping deeply. The clock on the mantle strikes four in the morning. Ozma counts the chimes and then yawns and falls back asleep.
There are no more dreams for the rest of the night. Not that she often remembers her dreams anyway.
Chapter 8: Little Wizard Stories Part I (1908 - 1909)
"Idk man, if a big chunk of my narrative identity was 'When I was a baby some dude sold me to a witch' I probably wouldn't be so immediately on board with welcoming said dude back into my life." ~ OR ~ The personal history of Ozma and Oscar.
I meant this section of the story to be one chapter but it got away from me and became very long so now it is two chapters. This is helpful as the end of the second part is taking some time to write, and I'd like for you all to have some reading material while you wait.
This is another flashback chapter. A good portion of this takes place immediately after Chapters 15 ("Old Friends are Reunited") of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908). If you would like to reread Chapter 15 (it being the sort where Baum just has the characters sit around and recount the adventures of the previous books with fascinating inaccuracy), the book is in the public domain and on many websites.
A final note: The naming of the rulers ultimately comes from Gregory McGuire, but it's a detail so steeped into my Oz headcanons that at this moment in time I'm going to use it instead of figuring out something better. That being said: The source material for this story is in public domain EXCEPT that particular detail which belongs to McGuire so, as the elders say, "credit to the author where it is due".
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Ozma had made up the story about witches dividing up the kingdom and overthrowing her grandfather. In hindsight it was full of logical fallacies and naive concepts of the nature of the world, but only the four of them were at the dinner table. Dorothy had so ardently vouched for the Wizard and his apparent change of heart (“He is just old and lonely and all by himself I think,” she had said amongst the roses of the greenhouse) but at the time Dorothy seemed to be much younger and still so much a child. Ozma couldn’t help but want to shield her from the whole truth of the Wizard’s role in shaping her own early life (though Dorothy would learn in time). As for Zeb, he would never stick around long enough to find out the whole story for himself. That left only the Wizard and Princess Ozma knowing the finer accuracies of how Pastoria lost his throne.
There were some truths brought out in the story that the Princess and the Wizard built at the dinner table on the Wizard’s first night back in Oz. The princess’ ancestors were indeed titled “Oz” or “Ozma”, with informal names to determine one from the next. Her father had been Oz Pastoria, and she herself would be Ozma Tippetarius, though now she found herself as the only Ozma alive and with little desire to be called “Tippetarius” ever again. Ozma became her self proclaimed name and title. The naming of the rulers and the land and the nickname the Wizard gave himself truly were a coincidence. The stage magician from Omaha, believing this coincidence to be a sign to implement his American right to “manifest destiny”, used his sleight of hand tricks and papier-mâché wonders to manipulate a population who had a tendency to defer stations of power to the strongest magic workers amongst them.
While Ozma’s half of the story was full of partial truths and outright lies that could be quickly and easily disproved, the half of the story that belonged to the Wizard displayed an absurd lack of knowledge of the culture and people he conquered in the name of his own initials. (“They thought me a superior being,” he said with no trace of self doubt and Ozma had to suppress an eye roll.) The story told at the table did not say what the Wizard did to remove the pre-existing seats of power, nor did it give explanation as to why years ago a baby was given to a witch.
After dinner, after the meeting of old friends, when the guests decided to retire for the evening, the Princess walked with Dorothy to the floor where their respective rooms were located. She bade Dorothy good night and when Dorothy’s door had shut, Ozma went back downstairs.
Behind the throne room was the entrance to a tower that had been locked and unused for many years. Ozma had explored it once, using a transportation spell learned from Glinda to send herself into the top most room and back out again. It had been dusty and stuffy and held only a cobweb covered bed and an empty work bench. She had hoped to find some of the Wizard’s masks or costumes that her friends had told her about, but it appeared anything of importance had been removed by the time the Wizard left in his balloon. Ozma had left the tower disappointed, especially since the energy expelled to magically exit the tower meant that she had little left for her magic lessons in the following week.
Ozma now stood at the bottom of the tower and knocked on the gold gilt door.
There was silence and then the sound of descending footsteps. The door creaked open but all Ozma could see was the empty stone stairway.
“Who’s there?” asked the Wizard’s voice from behind the door.
“Oh,” the Wizard’s voice sounded relieved and he slid out to stand in the doorway. He was still dressed for dinner in his green velvet coat. She could see him slip something shiny and metal into the coat pocket. He bowed deeply, presenting her with the shiny dome of his head, “Your majesty.”
“I hope you have no reason to fear attackers while you are in this country, Wizard,” said Ozma evenly. “Though your story at dinner did leave many things unsaid about the last time you were here. Perhaps you have enemies I do not know about. You mustn’t keep secrets, I do not want the safety of my people, or those in my protection, at risk.”
The Wizard gave a guilty expression and Ozma, looking upon his wrinkled and spotted skin, did think he looked terribly old. “My apologies, your majesty. Being back in this place, well, I fall into old habits. I suspect you know, that not everyone considered me ‘wonderful’ or ‘great and terrible’, even when I was on the throne.”
Ozma gave what she hoped was a stern look and held out the open palm of her hand. The Wizard reached into his pocket and handed over a silver letter opener. Beyond the usual static of the fairylandishness of the object, there was not a trace of magic about it. Ozma regarded it curiously, but did not hand it back to the Wizard.
“Would you like to come in?” the Wizard gestured up the winding stairs of the tower.
“No, I would prefer to stay out here. I only wish to have a world with you.”
“Of course, your majesty.”
“As you know I am very good friends with Dorothy Gale. She speaks very highly of you and your reformation of character and I want to believe every word she says. I never knew you personally when you were on the throne, but my other good friends the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman did and during tonight’s gathering they also expressed that you are much changed from the time when they knew you.”
The Wizard blushed, “Your friends are keen observers. I like to think that I am much the same man that I was when I left Oz, but perhaps I am a little changed from my second time in the circus.”
“I trust the words of my dear friends but I have yet to form a full opinion of my own. What I know about you, besides what is written in the history books, is that when I was a baby you gave me to a witch and my life until a few years ago was not one I would wish upon any child.”
Something shifted in the old man’s face then and his eyes seemed to look at her for the first time. He was taking it in now. How the baby who was once a mere obstacle was now a living walking person, undoubtedly molded and changed by his schemes of manifest destiny. His grey eyes slicked over for a moment but he did not lose his composure. When he next spoke his voice was different. It was different from seconds ago when he spoke to “your majesty” and it was different from the dinner table and the sitting room where he spoke as if to an audience. “I beg your majesty forgive me,” his voice was soft and he spoke to Ozma, the girl, not the princess, “For what I did to you and your father.”
“What did you do to my father?” she asked gravely.
“I gave him to the witch Mombi, along with you and your mother.”
She ignored the sensation of her heart being sliced in half. The sudden blotted form of a mother rising into her story. She would feel it later, try to put a face to the mother later.
“What happened to them?”
He gave an expression that told her how much he never considered what happened to the royal family once they were out of his way. Glinda had once, under bated breath during a history lesson, called the Wizard “A foolish man”. Ozma knew a great many people who called themselves fools but were in fact amongst the smartest people she ever met and Ozma knew a great many people whom only she thought was a “fool” but thought themselves the smartest person in the room. Ozma could now see what sort of “fool” the Wizard was.
It was painful to have this revelation while simultaneously watching him reflect on his actions. He straightened himself up, back to performing for the child queen, “Well uh, I’m sure whatever she did with them-“
It was all Ozma could do not run away from where she stood. She stared into him, hoping her unflinching gaze looked the way Mombi's or sometimes Glinda's could. Perhaps it worked because he deflated then and she could see a tear leak out and down the side of his crooked nose.
“I do not know what happened to them after that. I only needed the royal family out of the way and I was considering just banishing them to the countryside somewhere but the witch from the North-" and Ozma knew from his voice that he was not referring to the "Good" one, "-had promised to help me in my endeavor, but she threatened to expose me if I didn’t give them to her and if I am honest, nothing scares me more than witches.”
“You and I both.” Ozma did not hold back the bitterness that flooded her voice.
The Wizard stared at the ground, his eyes still reflecting all matter of foolish, heartless, cowardly actions taken in his life. The silence was overwhelming, Ozma didn’t even notice that she was holding her breath until he looked up and spoke.
“Perhaps I just came all this way to apologize. I can leave in the morning. You can whisk me away with magic shoes or carpet or whatever have you- Dorothy’s told me the different ways and you would have the right to do so. I’ll go back to the United States and promise to never look for the Fairylands again.”
Ozma crossed her arms and considered the crumpled old man in the velvet suit before her. Her anger was with his foolishness. His revelation and apology showed that he was not foolish like that anymore, but what was in the past could not be changed.
“Or you can cut off my head,” he continued, “Have me hanged, drawn and quartered, find out what happened to your parents and do that to me. It is a fate not undeserved.”
He may have kept her family alive. Her anger then, she realized not for the first time, was with Mombi. The old witch took advantage of a man trying to take advantage of a captive audience. Ozma decided to keep a large quantity of her anger on Mombi and allocated a fair amount of it onto to the abstract concept of “claiming yourself king of a land where other people already live and have a complex system of governance, simply because you’ve never heard of it and you landed there on accident.” Ozma was never very good at her formal history lessons but she understood history. It was her job to look into the past and see what did and didn’t work so as to make the best decisions for the present. She understood that if the Wizard acted so foolishly and unthinkingly, it was because what he did was what was done back in Omaha, or the United States, or wherever it was he was from. She could see his willingness to accept humility but that did not mean he had still learned the right thing to do.
“You will stay here,” she said, coming to her decision. “You will watch how this country was meant to be governed. You will understand how its traditions, its culture, its government are meant to be without threats of magic or interloping showmen calling themselves ‘wizards’. You will not intervene with matters of politics or affairs of state.”
The startled expression on his face told Ozma that this was not an option he had expected. She continued, “If after sometime you find yourself changed from this experience, you will be free to do as you like. Return to where you are from, travel the globe, stay here. If after sometime you find yourself unchanged, unperturbed by the idea of an invading force claiming a group of people ‘conquered’, then we will perhaps consider…” she didn’t even know what to call it, “…a different course of action for you.”
The Wizard, no, Mr. Diggs, bowed his head again. “Thank you, your majesty. I agree to your terms. It is the very least I can do. I accept my role as prisoner.”
“I never said you were a prisoner. You are an observer,” said Ozma sharply, “You have done enough. The most beneficial thing you can do would be doing ‘the least’.”
- - -
Forgiveness, is not as hasty as what is written by royal historians. “Forgiveness", is the word applied when the royal historians are from the same culture of “discover and conquer”, where wrong doers are not allowed the opportunity to heal or change but are locked away from public eyes and ears. “Forgiveness", is the word applied when the royal historian cannot think of an alternate form of repercussions other than “punishment”.
When Ozma went to bed after confronting Mr. Diggs, she tried to imagine the different ways she could go about doing what it was she had so suddenly found herself setting out to do. At first Ozma was tempted to toss a load of history books at him and have the old man read up on the history of Oz. She wanted to quiz him on the ways of life before his sudden appearance in the country’s timeline and have him write long unimaginably boring essays on why he was wrong. She fell asleep brooding on this idea but when she woke up in the morning, she realized that would mean putting herself in the role of school teacher, the way Glinda had been to her, and that was not something she was willing to put a grown man through. What she understood as what he needed to learn, how he needed to change, needed to be done through more practical means.
Everyday of the weeks and months that followed, Ozma requested Mr. Diggs’ presence at court. As promised, he did not involve himself into the matters that did not have to do with him. He did not take a hand in matters of state and did not say a word, but he watched. He listened. He took note of how the different matters were handled.
Ozma in turn felt his presence at court and felt she needed to teach by example. This is how you rule a country, this is how you resolve conflicts. This is how you allocate resources fairly so that everyone receives what they need, this is how you effectively stop witches. She worked harder at her duties to prove to him and herself and her people that she was more than capable of helping her country flourish. As the Princess built up her kingdom from the disrepair it was in when she came into power, she felt the people’s trust in her grow and she felt trust in herself grow.
Through out it all, Ozma could see Mr. Diggs thinking. She could see him talking to others outside of court, not to speak to an audience, but to listen. He worked to keep his public image spotless and apologized appropriately when he inevitably made a mistake (though his mistakes were never so major as to create an incident). In turn his reputation began to turn favorable by those who had every right to wish ill of him, though there would always be those who had the right to choose not to forgive him for his past actions.
Ozma tried to imagine how this scenario would have played out had he been unwilling to change his ideas of the world but decided to remain simply grateful that he was willing.
- - -
Mr. Diggs would put on performances of his stage magic now and again to delight the court or visitors of the Emerald City. He would have his tiny piglets jump through hoops or produce bouquets of flowers or balls of fire from his sleeves or hat. It was a popular source of entertainment in the palace, especially since to real fairies, there was something amusing about a mortal man who claimed his practice was “magic”. Ozma was at least glad that he wasn’t claiming it to be anything other than a series of sleight of hand and voice throwing tricks.
- - -
In hindsight, the second part may just be tacked to the end here to make it the long chapter I intended. Please stay tuned and I'll adjust accordingly.