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XXVIII. An Unexpected Possibility

From that point on, Psudina explained what had happened with Saguaro’s aunt, Nessarose.

 

Frex died about a year after her mother became the Witch of the West. As a result, Nessarose became governess of Munchkinland. Unfortunately, Nessarose put her personal needs above everyone else’s and was not a good or benevolent governess. She began to rescind Munchkin rights and even passed a law that prohibited Munchkins from leaving Munchkinland. Saguaro could not believe that her mother’s frail younger sister had been responsible for so much turmoil.

 

“I paid Nessarose a visit to express my condolences shortly after her father died,” Psudina told Saguaro. “Nessa had never been a very happy girl, but she seemed uncharacteristically angry that day. When we were alone, she expressed how vexed she was at Elphaba for not saying goodbye to Frex. I suggested that Elphaba probably did not know about Frex’s death, as it seemed out-of-character for her to not acknowledge it. Nessa, however, ignored me. She complained of feeling abandoned ever since Elphaba was proclaimed the Wicked Witch. Elphaba had not visited her, and she couldn’t understand why Elphaba had never used her powers to help her.

 

“During that visit, I met Boq. I remembered Elphaba mentioning Nessarose’s boyfriend, and I could tell that Nessarose still had feelings for him. When I got a moment alone with him, Boq explained that although he and Nessa were not together anymore, he had accepted Nessarose’s offer to become her servant as it paid well, and he needed to pay back loans from school. When Nessarose began passing her laws against Munchkins, he found himself trapped. When he learned that I was Glinda’s aunt, his eyes grew very wide. I could tell from his expression how infatuated he was with her. It was clear that although your aunt still loved Boq, he had no real feelings for her.

 

“When I had another moment with Nessa, I tried to broach the issue of the Munchkins’ suffering, and she became very angry. She was upset that I had been talking with Boq and told me how much her father had disapproved of me. She hadn’t believed him until then, but she now understood that I was just as immoral as he had always claimed. With those words, she threw me out of the house. That was the last time I ever saw Nessarose.”

 

“At least you tried to talk some sense into her,” Saguaro said softly.

 

Psudina’s smile did not quite reach her eyes. “I suppose, but I try never to confuse effort with results.”

  

 

4 Years A.D.

 

When Glinda and Elphaba were roommates, Glinda, then Galinda, never understood how Elphaba could push aside her emotions in order to get schoolwork done. Even after she received her invitation to see the Wizard, she managed to complete her essay for the next day’s class.

 

When Galinda heard of her friend’s plans to finish the essay, she was aghast. “Elphie, you just received an invitation to see the Wizard! I’m sure your professor will understand if your essay is late just this once. We should go out to celebrate!”

 

Elphaba shot her a look. “Just because the Wizard wants to see me doesn’t mean that I’m free of obligations. This essay happens to be fifteen percent of my grade. I’m not sacrificing that, no matter how excited I am.”

 

Glinda is not like Elphaba in this regard. Whenever she is distracted by something, she has trouble focusing on the work at hand. Now, as Glinda attempts a letter to the new Munchkin governor, she finds herself envious of Elphie. Elphaba would not let a breakup distract her from her work.

 

Blinking away another tear, Glinda wonders if she will ever stop feeling inferior to her late best friend.

 

Someone knocks at her office door. “Come in!” Glinda says, and to her astonishment, Boq enters. He holds a bouquet of winter jasmines in his silvery hands.

 

For a few moments, neither says anything. Glinda can feel herself growing more tense, and even Boq looks stiffer than usual.

 

Not quite looking at her, he says, “Excuse me for interrupting, Miss Glinda, but Master Meinhart wanted me to tell you that he’s going home for the day.”

 

“Thank you, Sir Boq,” Glinda says, using the proper title for addressing a guard. She glances at the flowers. Boq follows her gaze, and she has a feeling that if he weren’t tin he’d be blushing.

 

“Oh, those,” says Boq. “Well, I know that I’m the last person you’d want to bring you flowers, but I noticed that you looked sad when you came home today, and I was concerned. I’m not expecting this to change anything. I know you hate me.”

 

“I don’t hate you,” says Glinda quietly, before she has a chance to analyze what she is saying.

 

Boq blinks. “What?”

 

Glinda feels herself beginning to flush. She checks to make sure the door is closed before continuing. “I just meant that while I don’t approve of what you did, you have kept my secret for the last four years. You could have told all of Oz that I was her best friend and was lying this whole time, but you didn’t. I may never forgive you for your role in her death, but I do appreciate you keeping my secret.”

 

Boq grasps the bouquet more tightly. “I would never tell anyone. I know that you might not understand this from my actions, but I wouldn’t have hurt Elphaba if I’d known. I knew Elphaba a little in school, but not that well. Nessarose was so embarrassed about her that she went out of her way not to talk about her. When Nessarose started abusing her powers, I just assumed that Elphaba had the same fixation with power as she did. I never guessed that she was actually trying to save my life.”

 

“You know that I can’t be certain about that part, don’t you?” Glinda asks. “I’m positive that Elphie would have never hurt you intentionally, but I don’t really know what happened.”

 

“I know. But I did watch Nessarose cast the initial spell…the one that made my heart shrink.” He toys with the heart pendant the Wizard had given him. “I don’t remember what happened after I blacked out, but I think Elphaba meant to save me by turning me tin. I’ve been going through different scenarios in my mind for the last four years, and that’s the only one that makes sense.”

 

Glinda raises her eyebrows, surprised at what she is hearing. “You’re saying that you believe me about Elphaba?”

 

“Miss Glinda, I believed you when you first told me,” Boq says. “I never would have risked the safety of Oz if I had any doubt that you were telling the truth-even if you didthreaten to put me in prison if I dared to say anything. Besides, you’re forgetting that I’m one of the few Ozians who knows that the Wizard was a fraud. After you slipped and told me, everything began to add up.”

 

Glinda flinches as she recalls the day in question. Boq arrived to speak with her about the Wizard’s “promise” to make Boq her adviser. She knew from Boq’s public story about how he had been turned to tin that the Tin Man and Boq were one and the same. She remembered the shy Munchkin she’d set up with Nessarose, and she could not believe that Nessarose’s boyfriend had tried to kill Elphaba.

 

She did not mean to tell Boq the truth about Elphaba. But after Boq said something about Elphaba turning him tin, she was unable to hold back. At that moment, everything came out. In retrospect, Glinda supposes a meltdown was inevitable. She had only sent Dorothy home a few days before, and the stress of her new leadership and her best friend’s death was beginning to take its toll. She needed to take out her anger on someone.

 

Surprisingly, Psudina was the one who suggested that she hire Boq to watch over Glinda’s castle. Glinda could not put a national “hero” in prison, and this would give her the chance to watch Boq and ensure that he kept her secret. Boq was more than happy to comply when she explained her plan to him. So far, it has been effective. Though she hates to admit it, Boq is good at his job, even if he is much shorter than the rest of the guards.

 

Aside from small talk, the two have managed to avoid each other. Glinda checked in with Boq during the first couple of years to ensure that he didn’t give anything away, but stopped when it became clear that Boq intended to keep her secret. In fact, this is the first time they have been alone since those conversations ended.

 

“Well, I’m glad to hear that you believed me,” says Glinda, at a loss for how to respond. “I’m sure Elphaba would have appreciated someone else believing the truth, too. Now, if you don’t mind, I have a lot of work to do. Thank you for the flowers.” She holds out her hand and gestures for him to give them to her.

 

Boq hands her the bouquet, but does not leave the room. “You know, Miss Glinda, sometimes when a person is upset, it helps to talk. I don’t know why you’re upset, but I want you to know that I’m here for you if you need me.”

 

“I appreciate that, Sir Boq, but I’m just trying to get my work done.”

 

“Funny,” says Boq. “Every time you call me by my name, I’m a little surprised.”

 

Glinda flushes. The last thing she needs is a reminder of her own role in Boq’s and Nessarose’s relationship. Boq seems to recognize that she is uncomfortable, because he continues talking.

 

“Look, maybe I didn’t make myself clear. I know that you don’t want to talk to me, but I also know that there aren’t many people who know the truth about Elphaba. So if it’s something to do with that-the reason you’re so upset, I mean-then I’d like to help. I don’t even need to say anything. I can just listen.”

 

“What makes you so sure that I’m upset?” asks Glinda.

 

“Your eyes were red earlier. And even now, your nose is a little pink, the way I’ve noticed it gets after you cry.”

 

Glinda tries to conceal her surprise. She never noticed that her nose gets pink after she cries, and she can’t believe that Boq is the one who pointed it out to her. Why hasn’t anyone ever mentioned it before?

 

She decides to reward him for his observation. “If you must know, the reason I’m so upset has nothing to do with Elphaba. I had just come back from lunch with Sir Chuffrey when you saw me earlier, and the two of us have decided to end our relationship.”

 

“Oh,” says Boq. She can tell from his expression that this is not what he volunteered for.

 

“Do you mind if I sit down?” Boq asks after a moment. “I apologize, but I get stiff after standing for too long, and I think I need to oil up.”

 

Glinda flushes again. She always feels so guilty when Boq brings attention to his condition. She has no right to feel responsible, considering that she was not even there during his transformation. But Glinda did set up Nessarose and Boq in the first place, and Nessarose would have never cast her spell if Boq hadn’t attempted to run off to see Glinda.

 

She motions to the chair on which she is sitting. “You can sit here, if you like. I was just going to find a vase for the flowers. I think I have one around here somewhere.”

 

“You don’t mind?”

 

“Not at all. I need to stretch my legs, anyway.”

 

Glinda stands up, and Boq takes her place. She tries not to watch as Boq takes out his oil can and begins oiling his joints.

 

As Glinda searches her cabinets for a vase, Boq speaks. “Did one of you initiate the breakup, or was it mutual?”

 

“It was more or less mutual,” says Glinda, still lost in her search. So far, all she has found are endless stacks of paperwork. “He was always rather old for me, and while I was all right with it at the beginning, it became a thorn in our relationship.”

 

“Well, I’m sure you won’t have any trouble finding someone your own age,” says Boq quickly. “After all, you are Miss Glinda the Good.”

 

Glinda turns to face him. “Is that what you think it’s like for me?”

 

“Isn’t it?”

 

Glinda sighs. She cannot help the next words that come tumbling forth.

 

“Most people think so, but it’s not. Not at all. I’m the Leader of Oz, and while I hope to find a companion someday, I never have as much time to commit to a relationship as I’d like. Besides, for as much as people pretend to respect me for being a woman in politics, the truth is, they don’t. Most men are only interested in my beauty or are convinced that they have a pathway to power by marrying me.”

 

Boq stares at her. “Really?”

 

She bites her lip. While she is not about to admit this to Boq, she is more than a little convinced that Chuffrey’s main motive for dating her was the possibility of power.

 

Forcing an even tone, she says, “One gets used to it.”

 

Boq shakes his head.

 

Glinda finally manages to locate the vase. Since Boq does not appear to be leaving anytime soon and she needs to step out in order to fill the vase with water, she leaves it in the cabinet.

 

“You’re so matter-of-fact about it,” says Boq. “I don’t know how you do it. I know that no woman will ever want to marry me because I’m tin, but it still upsets me.”

 

Glinda shrugs. “That doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. Quite the contrary. But one gets used to being matter-of-fact when the situation requires it, especially in a more public setting.”

 

Recognition washes over Boq’s face. “Are you saying that the only reason you’re acting so calmly is because you don’t want to admit your true feelings in front of me?”

 

Glinda averts her gaze. The only man who ever recognized the difference between her public and private behavior was Fiyero, and she does not want to think about him. It’s distressifying to realize that the only man who ever understood her was in love with her best friend.

 

“You don’t have to hold back in front of me, you know,” Boq says, when she does not respond. “The first time I was ever alone with you, you yelled at me, and I didn’t know that a person could be yelled at by Glinda the Good. No matter what happens, it will never be as surprising as that.”

 

Despite herself, the corners of Glinda’s lips twitch as she imagines how other people would react if they knew that Glinda the Good once yelled at someone.

 

“You’re sure you want to risk it?” she asks, startling herself with the coyness of her tone. “I really am quite emotional if you get me started.”

 

Boq grins so widely that the smile reaches his eyes. “Try me.”

 

Glinda smiles back, but she can feel that her smile is more forced. She cannot believe that she spoke to Boq in such a coquettish way. What in Oz’s name has gotten into her? It has been so long since she teased a man. Sir Chuffrey was not the teasing sort, and when she teased men before him, she was purposely flirting. She was decidedly not flirting with Boq.

 

But Boq is still grinning, awaiting her response, and she decides not to overthink it. There must be a reasonable explanation for her behavior, so there is no use trying to decipher what it is.

 

“The truth is, you’re right,” says Glinda. “I do worry that I’ll never find someone. I’m twenty-eight-years-old, and most of my friends from school are married with children by now. Even Elphaba, Oz rest her soul, found Fiyero before she died. I’m not very upset about my breakup with Sir Chuffrey. It was courteous enough, and quite honestly, I’m glad I didn’t settle for him. I just feel further from finding my perfect man than I already was. And what’s more…” She blushes and wonders if she should continue.

 

“What?” asks Boq gently.

 

“I was hoping to have a child by now,” Glinda admits, and at this confession, her cheeks grow hot. “I don’t know if you remember my friend, ShenShen, but she just had a daughter, and she sent me a picture of her.” She reaches into her purse, then takes out a photograph and hands it to him. “Isn’t she lovely?”

 

“Quite,” says Boq, examining the picture. “Whom did ShenShen marry?”

 

“Some Gillikinese businessman. He didn’t go to Shiz. I don’t know him, but ShenShen seems happy.”

 

“So, you’re upset that you’re not married because it means you can’t have a child?”

 

Glinda gives him a worn version of her trademark smile. “I know, it sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But I’ve always adored children, and I thought I would have one by now.”

 

“I don’t think it’s ridiculous, Miss Glinda. I saw the way you dazzled Dorothy. In fact, I think you’d make a wonderful mother.”

 

Glinda takes back the photograph. “I’d thank you, if there was any chance of it happening.”

 

“I’m sure it will. I have no doubt that you will marry eventually. But even if you don’t, you don’t need a husband to have a child.”

 

Glinda stares at him. “Are you suggesting what I think you’re suggesting?”

 

“No! Sweet Oz, no!” Boq’s eyes widen, as he realizes what he has just implied. “That isn’t what I meant at all! I just mean, I got this letter from my sister, and…have you ever considered adoption?”

 

Adoption. The word turns over and over in Glinda’s mind. Though she always imagined herself with a biological child, she has been a strong supporter of adoption. Glinda has even visited Ozian orphanages on several occasions and left special toys for the children. The sight of so many parentless children always tears at her heartstrings, and it takes great strength not to take them all back with her.

 

Boq continues speaking before Glinda has a chance to respond. “I don’t know if I ever mentioned my sister Bria, but she’s a maunt at a mauntery in Ix. It was always something she wanted to do. Even as a child, she was very dedicated to the Unionist life. She left Oz just before Nessarose passed the law prohibiting anyone from leaving Munchkinland. When I was Nessa’s servant, Bria wrote me letters, encouraging me to remain optimistic. It wasn’t legal, of course-Nessa forbade contact with anyone outside of Munchkinland–but we managed to smuggle our letters back and forth. It was the only contact I had with anyone outside of Munchkinland.”

 

It occurs to Glinda how little she knows about Boq. She has grasped that he is from a large farming family and received a scholarship to attend Shiz, but she does not know much else about him. She does not even know how many siblings he has.

 

She considers her half-written response to Munchkinland’s new governor. Though she does not want to admit it, she has a feeling that Boq, who had direct contact with Nessarose during her time as governor, would be an important asset in helping to rehabilitate Munchkinland. She is just not sure that she is ready to ask him.

 

“I appreciate you sharing this with me, but I’m afraid I’m a little confusified,” says Glinda. “What do your sister and her lifestyle have to do with adopting a child?”

 

Boq takes out a leather satchel and pulls out a folder. “This was Bria’s last letter. Apparently, one of her fellow maunts became pregnant. It was quite a scandal, as you can imagine, and it ended very tragically. Two months ago, the mother died in labor, and nobody knows who the father is. As far as they can tell, the baby has no one. He’s completely alone.”

 

Glinda’s heart clenches. She can still remember the look in Elphie’s eyes when she explained how her mother died giving birth to Nessa. She cannot imagine this baby experiencing the same pain that Elphaba did.

 

“The mauntery has an orphanage attached to it, but Bria’s very worried about the baby. He’s the sweetest thing, she says. Apparently, he hardly ever cries, and he has the most intent way of looking at you. The maunts do their best, but they can never give enough attention to all the babies. Bria is worried that because he’s so quiet, he’ll be lost in the mix. She’d even adopt him herself, but since it’s not allowed, she asked me to pass on the information to anyone who might be interested.”

 

“And you think I might be interested?” Glinda asks softly.

 

Boq shakes his head and dodges her question. “He’s the sweetest, most compliant baby the mauntery has ever had, and he doesn’t even have a name. The maunts know that if he is adopted, his parents will want to name him themselves. Still, can you imagine not having a name to call your own?”

 

Glinda shudders. Even after she changed her name from Galinda to Glinda, her name has always been part of her identity. Without a name or parents, what does this baby have?

 

Boq takes out something from the folder. “I’m not saying you should step into this blindly. Oz knows, it’s a huge decision, and I’m sure many parents in Oz would be eager to adopt him if we were to get the word out. But please, at least look at him. Then you’ll see.”

 

He passes Glinda a tiny photograph. Unlike the professional photo of ShenShen’s baby, this one is dark and difficult to see. She manages to make out a small, chubby-faced baby with wide hazel eyes. His intent gaze seems to pierce through the paper.

 

Glinda has fallen in love multiple times. She fell in love with the boy who sat behind her in primary school and with Zhander Settica, her first real boyfriend. Then, of course, she fell in love with Fiyero and became so lost in her infatuation that she ignored his obvious feelings for Elphaba.

 

Still, her previous glimpses of love have not prepared her for this. Although it is true that the physical symptoms are the same-she feels her pulse and breathing quicken-she is unprepared for the overwhelming feeling that washes over her as the stares into the eyes of the tiny baby boy. It is as if she has always known him. More than anything else in the world, Glinda wants to be involved in the future of this nameless boy with the wide eyes. She has never felt so instantly connected to anyone in her entire life.

 

“Gabryel,” she whispers, her eyes beginning to sting with tears.

 

“Hmm?” says Boq, glancing over.

 

“It’s the name I’d always thought about giving my son,” Glinda says. “The Wizard mentioned it once. It was the name of a friend in the world he came from, and I always liked it. According to the Wizard, there was an angel named Gabryel in his version of the Unionist bible. And this baby looks like an angel, doesn’t he?”

 

A small smile forms on Boq’s lips. “Very much so.”

 

“One of the reasons I like the name so much is because it starts with the same two letters as Galinda. After the way my mother responded when I changed my name, I think I owe it to her to give her a grandchild whose name starts with the same two letters.”

 

Boq laughs.

 

She glances at the photo again. It is overwhelming to imagine this tiny baby, alone at a mauntery so many miles away. How can he be so far when he feels so close?

 

Though it was initially difficult to talk to Boq, she has no trouble saying the next words. “Do you really think I can do this? Adopt a child and become a mother on my own, I mean?”

 

“I know you can,” says Boq firmly. “You might not believe this, but you’re the strongest person I know. And if you ever need help, like bringing the baby from the orphanage or looking after him later, I’ll be there.”

 

Glinda frowns. “You’d do that for me?”

 

Boq chuckles. When he speaks again, he has regained his seriousness.

 

“When we were at Shiz, I told you I’d do anything for you. I know you don’t remember, and I don’t mean it the way I once did, but I want you to know something. I never back out of my promises. I would still do anything for you, Miss Glinda. That will never change.”

 

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