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XXX. Through the Window

Ch30

 

On the morning of Glinda’s engagement ball, Saguaro woke up with a sense of alertness. For the first time in over a week, her eyes did not feel heavy, and her body no longer ached. Instead, she felt more normal than she had in a long time.

 

She glanced at the bed opposite her, where Glinda was still sleeping. Unlike Saguaro, Glinda did not appear to have slept well. She was still tossing and turning and murmuring to herself. Since Glinda had asked Saguaro to make sure she woke up early, Saguaro climbed out of bed and tiptoed towards her.

 

“Glinda?” Glinda ignored her name and rolled over on her stomach. Saguaro tried again and began to nudge her. When Glinda still did not respond, she raised her voice. “GLINDA!”

 

This time, Glinda snuggled deeper into her blankets. “I don’t have an early class today, Elphie.”

 

“No, but you do have to pick up your mother.”

 

At this, Glinda’s eyes popped open, and she sat up in bed. “Crowsie! I’m so sorry. I had no idea what I was saying. I didn’t mean to mistake you for your mother.”

 

“It’s all right,” said Saguaro. “I’m sure you were just dreaming about Shiz. Did you have a good night?”

 

“Well, it wasn’t my best, but it could have been worse. How did you sleep, dear? You were a bit restless last night.”

 

“Actually, I feel fine. I think our talk really helped.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Really.” She gestured to her pillow, underneath which lay the green bottle. “That and the bottle. Sleeping with it was surprisingly comforting. Maybe Mom was on to something, after all.”

 

Glinda chuckled, then walked over to her closet.

 

“I’ll leave some bread out for toast. We’re going to take my mother out for breakfast after we pick her up from the train station, so I’m afraid you’ll have to eat alone. If you get bored, I’m sure Gabryel won’t mind if you help yourself to his books. With the size of his collection, there should be something that interests you.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

Glinda selected a shimmery yellow frock before turning back to Saguaro. “Crowsie, I am so sorry that we can’t include you today. My mother doesn’t adapt well to change, and I don’t want to upset her before my ball. I promise we’ll tell her about you tomorrow.”

 

“It’s fine,” said Saguaro. “I could use some time alone. Besides, I’ll see you this afternoon, won’t I?”

 

“Absolutely. I even have a surprise to share with you. Now, why don’t you sleep for a few more hours? I know you slept well, but it would be nice to take care of those shadows under your eyes.”

 

By the time Saguaro woke up a few hours later, the palace was empty. She stretched and took a few moments before rolling out of bed.

 

Something was different today. She could feel it. It had been exactly a week since she’d met Glinda and learned the truth about her mother, and eighteen days since she’d run away. Not only did she feel more alert, but her senses were tingling. She had the distinct feeling that something important was about to happen.

 

Something besides Glinda’s ball, anyway.

 

When the others returned home, it was an hour past noon. Saguaro was lying in Glinda’s spare bed, reading one of Gabryel’s books. A voice Saguaro did not recognize, but assumed was Gadonna’s, was ranting about something, and Glinda and Psudina were attempting to reassure her. Finally, the voices faded when Psudina offered to take her sister outside to walk in the gardens.

 

A few minutes later, Glinda appeared in the doorway. To Saguaro’s puzzlement, she was holding the purple dress they had bought at Lanetta’s, along with a pair of silver heels from another shopping trip. Perplexing Saguaro further, Glinda turned around and nodded at someone behind the door.

 

“Surprise!” said Glinda, once the Animal in question had appeared.

 

Saguaro tried to hide her astonishment.

 

“I thought it would be nice for you to meet one of your mother’s Monkeys, so I sent invitations,” Glinda said, as Saguaro found herself staring at the winged Monkey she had met outside Camp Gabryel. “None of the ones who work at the Munchkinland A.R.C. could come, and neither could Chistery or Knikko, but luckily, Caper was free!”

 

“It’s a pleasure to officially meet you, Miss Saguaro,” said Caper, bowing his head. “I recognized your parents in you when I first saw you, and I’m glad my suspicions were correct.”

 

“Oh, pish-posh!” said Glinda. “You, at least, had the advantage of knowing that her parents were alive. Crowsie, would you believe that Caper’s known all this time and never said anything?”

 

“You know I couldn’t, Miss Glinda,” said Caper. “They made me promise not to say anything.”

 

“Be that as it may, don’t you think that kind of information would have been important to share with your employer?”

 

“What are you talking about?” said Saguaro.

 

After shooting Caper a look, Glinda turned back to Saguaro. “It appears that your parents weren’t as secretive as we’d been led to believe. When he accepted my invitation, Caper admitted that he’d known they were alive from the very beginning. Apparently, he’s the one who suggested Cascadia.”

 

“I found a letter your father had written about their plans to escape,” Caper told Saguaro. “They never confided in me directly.”

 

“Oh,” said Saguaro. She’d always assumed her mother had been the one who found out about Cascadia, but apparently that was not the case. “Have you been corresponding with them this whole time?”

 

“Not at all,” said Caper. “For safety purposes, we agreed to abstain from further contact after I told them about Cascadia. I didn’t know they had a child, though I certainly considered the possibility.”

 

Saguaro bit her lip. For a fleeting moment, she had dared to hope that her existence had not been a secret, after all.

 

Shaking this thought aside, she glanced at Glinda, who was still holding the dress and shoes. “Why did you bring those here?”

 

Glinda had been staring into the distance during Saguaro’s exchange with Caper, but at these words, she seemed to brighten. “How would you like to be a guest at tonight’s ball, after all?”

 

“What do you mean?” asked Saguaro. “I thought you said that it would be an inconvenience to make everyone wear green glasses during the ball.”

 

“Yes, and I maintain my opinion. We wouldn’t want the glasses to clash with people’s outfits, after all! But no, I was thinking of another option entirely. What if you could attend the ball without people associating you with your mother?”

 

Saguaro stared at her. After handing the dress and shoes to Caper, Glinda sat next to Saguaro on the bed.

 

“Crowsie, one of the things that’s been hardest for me about this experience is watching you step into your mother’s shadow. You’ve handled it beautifully, of course, but you shouldn’t have to hide because of your green skin. Your mother sacrificed a lot, but that doesn’t mean that you should be equally limited. It’s clear to those who know Elphie and Fiyero that you’re their daughter, of course, but if we come up with a plausible explanation for your skin color, no one else will ever suspect. We could even do a variation of the truth; perhaps we could tell people that you’re a budding sorceress who accidentally turned yourself green. I was thinking that I could do an announcement about it and present you at the ball tonight. We can still tell my mother the details tomorrow, and though I haven’t asked Wroc yet, I know he won’t mind. Caper can be your escort.”

 

Glinda was beaming. In an act of affection, she reached over and squeezed Saguaro’s hands tightly. “What do you say, Saguaro?” she asked. “Shall we present you as yourself, once and for all?”

 

Saguaro felt her throat constricting. More than anything, she wanted to agree. She wanted nothing more than to embark on life as her own person, free of the constraints of her parents’ pasts. Still, one important fact remained, and she knew she could not say yes.

 

“Oh, Glinda, I’d love that, and I really appreciate your offer. But I can’t.” She swallowed hard. “Did Sarima or Psudina ever tell you about Ozma’s Brigade?”

 

Glinda dropped her hand, looking affronted. “Ozma’s Brigade? What in Oz’s name do the men who tried to kidnap Nor have to do with this?”

 

Caper was now watching Saguaro. “The prophecy wasn’t referring to Princess Nor, was it? I always had my suspicions about Nor’s paternity, but I never felt comfortable enough with Queen Sarima and Master Avaric to ask them,” he said.

 

Saguaro nodded.

 

“I’m afraid I’m dreadfully confusified,” said Glinda, frowning. “The prophecy claimed that a princess would reinstate the Ozma Regime after my term. While I don’t believe the prophecy is true, surely Nor’s the only one to whom it can pertain.”

 

“That’s just it,” said Saguaro. “I don’t know how comfortable Avaric or Sarima would be with me telling you this, but Nor isn’t a blood princess at all. She might have been raised as one, but the most important part about the prophecy is that it describes a girl whose father descends from royalty. I’ve been trying to ignore the possibility since Psudina told me about my father, but I don’t think I can any more.”

 

Though she felt guilty about betraying her aunt’s confidence, Saguaro explained to Glinda what she had learned during her voyage to Camp Gabryel. Glinda sat quietly, absorbing every word.

 

“So Ozma’s Brigade got it wrong,” she said slowly. “It had nothing to do with Nor. If all this is to believed, then the prophecy could only pertain to…”

 

“Me.”

 

Glinda stared at her, as if seeing her clearly for the first time. It was evident that she had not spent much time considering the significance of Saguaro’s paternity. For her own part, Saguaro had been so preoccupied with the identity of her mother that she hadn’t thought much about it, either. In a strange way, after her history as the outcast of Cascadia, it was almost easier to grasp that she was the daughter of the Wicked Witch of the West than a descendant of royalty.

 

“I still refuse to believe this prophecy business,” said Glinda, finding her voice. “It’s true that people have claimed that the Time Dragon has made accurate predictions in the past, but in my opinion, that’s mere propaganda started by followers of Tiktokism and the Pleasure Faith.” She was referring to the beliefs to which supporters of the Clock of the Time Dragon subscribed.

 

Caper, who had been following the conversation, shook his head. “In the end, it doesn’t matter if it’s true. What matters is that enough people think it is.”

 

“He’s right,” said Saguaro. “You should have seen these men, Glinda. They believed every word they were saying.”

 

“But…” Glinda was clearly trying to clutch at straws. “It’s not as though they’ll associate you with your father, Saguaro. And I doubt any of them will be at the ball.”

 

“Miss Saguaro performed a spell on them to save Nor, Miss Glinda,” Caper said, “and, as you well know, Ms. Elphaba’s relationship with Master Fiyero was never a secret. It won’t be hard to guess.”

 

Glinda took a few moments to consider this. She startled Saguaro when she reached over and engulfed her in a massive hug.

 

“I just wanted to do something nice for you, Crowsie! I don’t understand why all of this has to be so complicated.”

 

Glinda pulled back, her eyes awash with tears. On the bed beside her was the dress Caper had laid down, which now looked lost and forgotten.

 

“It’s all right, Glinda,” said Saguaro. “It’s not your fault. You’ve done as much as you can.”

 

“It hasn’t been enough.”

 

Glancing at the dress again, Saguaro recalled how much Glinda had enjoyed their shopping outings. Even when Glinda seemed the most distracted, clothing and makeup always cheered her up.

 

She was struck by an idea. “You know, Glinda, just because I can’t go to the ball doesn’t mean I can’t dress for the occasion. Tonight’s as good a time as any to wear my dress.”

 

Glinda frowned. “But nobody’s going to see you tonight, Crowsie. Wouldn’t you rather wait for another occasion?”

 

“Didn’t you tell me that part of the reason you enjoy putting so much time into your appearance is because you like the process?”

 

Glinda paused for a moment, then burst into laughter.

 

“Oh, Crowsie! You are too funny. As it happens, I have a few hours before my makeup and hair artists are to arrive. It’s a ridiculous idea, but why not?”

 

She stood up and walked over to her vanity, where she began rummaging through her cosmetics.

 

“You know I’m only doing this to cheer you up, don’t you?” said Saguaro. “I’m still not sure how I feel about fancy clothes and makeup.”

 

Glinda exchanged a look with Caper, who was smiling at them.

 

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. But even if you’re only being charitable, I’ll accept it. It’s too good an opportunity to pass up.”

 

****

 

Glinda was uncharacteristically quiet as she applied Saguaro’s makeup. Though she made a few comments about wishing she had a blush that would compliment Saguaro’s skin tone, she was otherwise silent. Saguaro wondered if her plan to cheer Glinda up had been unsuccessful.

 

After Glinda finished her makeup and Saguaro changed into her dress, Glinda brought her over to a full-length mirror. Though Saguaro had previously been impressed by how well the dress flattered her body, this time, she was taken by how well the makeup complimented her face. It brought out her features, and though it made her appear older, Glinda had taken great care to keep it natural and appropriate. Saguaro felt as though she was being given a glimpse into the pretty girl she could be.

 

Glinda was watching her closely. “I remember the first time I gave your mother a makeover. When I showed her a mirror so she could see what she looked like, she was so surprised she ran out of the room. I didn’t understand her reaction at the time, but now I think it was the first time she realized how beautiful she is.”

 

“I still don’t understand why she’s so insecure about her appearance,” Saguaro said, turning back to Glinda. “She might not be pretty in the same way as you, but she’s beautiful in other ways. I know you and Dad helped her a lot, but I wish she were more confident.”

 

Glinda smiled sadly. “So do I.”

 

Saguaro found herself overwhelmed with gratitude for everything Glinda had done for her. For her entire life, Saguaro had longed to meet someone else who understood her mother, and in Glinda, she had found the best person she could ask for. Not only had Glinda loved Elphaba, but she had also opened her heart to Saguaro. She’d been there for Saguaro in a way no one else ever had.

 

Unsure of how to relate the extent of her gratitude, Saguaro took a step forward and hugged Glinda tightly. Glinda kissed her on the forehead and embraced her back. Though no words had been spoken, Saguaro could tell that Glinda understood what she was communicating.

 

****

Several hours later, Saguaro lay on her bed, paging through the Grimmerie. After making Saguaro promise not to attempt any of the spells herself, Glinda had lent it to Saguaro so that she could entertain herself during the ball. As the orchestra and laughter hummed from the ballroom above her, she took in the strange symbols of the spells.

 

Caper sat in a chair across from her. Though he had been invited to the ball, he instead had decided to keep her company. Despite this, the two had barely spoken. Caper was engrossed in a book of his own, and he seemed much more reserved now that the two were alone.

 

Upon reaching the middle of the spell book, Saguaro came across a page with a handwritten note. She immediately recognized her mother’s even script. It appeared to be a spell that was written as a transliteration, and in larger letters, the title read, “To Find Nessarose’s Slippers.”

 

“Why would my mom want my aunt’s shoes?” said Saguaro aloud.

 

“Hmm?” said Caper, looking up.

 

She showed him the page, and he chuckled. “Oh, that. Well, after your aunt died, Glinda gave the shoes to little Dorothy Gale because of their powers, and your mother became obsessed with retrieving them. She felt she deserved them because they belonged to her sister. It was her way of dealing with grief, I suppose. She must have written this spell so that she could track them back to Dorothy.”

 

“Did she ever get them?”

 

“No. Dorothy ended up using them in order to return to Kansas. As far as I know, they’re still with Dorothy somewhere.”

 

Saguaro felt strange as she reread the spell. Just as when she’d first woken up, her senses had begun prickling.

 

“You know, I feel like I know you quite well even though this is only our second meeting,” said Caper, shutting his book. “I’ve heard so much about you.”

 

“Really?”

 

“As a matter of fact, I have. You’re independent, you’re spirited, and you’re fiercely determined. Not just anyone could have gotten as far in their search as you did.”

 

“It’s a good thing you didn’t talk to my mother, then,” said Saguaro, half-joking. “I’m sure she wouldn’t have been as complimentary as you.”

 

Caper frowned. “What do you think she would have said?”

 

“That I’m too impulsive and that I’m too inexperienced to have been out on my own. She probably thinks I ran away just to make a point.”

 

“Even if that has crossed your mother’s mind, I doubt that’s the only thing she thinks about you,” said Caper. “I’m sure she’s very proud of you.”

 

Saguaro shrugged. “I’m sure she was much prouder of me before I turned myself green and ran away.”

 

Caper did not have a chance to respond to this comment because at that moment, Gabryel ran into the room. His normally wavy hair was sleeked back for the ball, and his dinner jacket made him appear even more precocious than usual. A surge of guilt shot through her. Though Glinda had reassured her, Saguaro still felt self-conscious about the amount of time she’d been spending with Glinda.

 

Gabryel, however, did not appear to hold it against her, because he turned to her at once. His eyes were shining, and when he spoke, he was out-of-breath. “You’ll never guess who’s here!” he said. “I was watching the dancing when I started to get a strange feeling, so I peeked through the curtains to look out the window and-and-”

 

“And what?” said Saguaro.

 

“Look and see!” said Gabryel, grinning now. He motioned towards the window. “Look and see!”

 

Saguaro’s ears were beginning to ring. Ignoring the sensation, she walked over to the window and looked outside.

 

Standing in the garden was a dark-haired figure, holding a worn broomstick and dressed in a ruffled gown. She kept looking around the garden, as if unsettled about something. Despite the uncharacteristic clothing, Saguaro did not have to look twice to identify her.

 

No.

 

No.

 

No.

 

Goose flesh formed on her arms, and the ringing in her ears magnified.

 

No!

 

“I can’t wait until Mom sees her!” Gabryel said, standing beside her. “She’s going to be so happy! I don’t understand the dress, though. Does she usually wear things like that, Saguaro? Saguaro!”

 

Saguaro stepped back, feeling unsteady. “Why is she here?” she said through gritted teeth. “Why in the name of Oz is my mother here?”

 

“Saguaro, calm down,” said Gabryel, taken aback. “I’m sure she was worried about you!”

 

“She’s not supposed to be here! All of Oz thinks she’s dead, and she risked her life to come here! And even if none of that were true, and she hadn’t put her life in danger…well, she still shouldn’t be here!”

 

Her last statement came out as a shriek. Gabryel stared at her.

 

She’d felt anxious many times during her journey. Anxiety led to panic attacks, which led to losing control of her powers. None of those experiences, however, had prepared her for this. She would happily spend hours shut in the Time Dragon tunnel in exchange for never coming face-to-face with her mother again.

 

Her mother, who’d never wanted her in the first place.

 

She didn’t realize that she was swaying until she felt Caper steadying her.

 

“Miss Saguaro, Master Gabryel is right,” Caper said, looking up at her. “Your mother is only looking out for you. You might be safe now, but your mother didn’t know that until recently. Besides, I’m sure your mother isn’t planning to bring you home immediately. She’ll want to catch up with Glinda and straighten things out with you. You just need to give her a chance.”

 

Though his words were sincere, Caper seemed too calm for someone who had not seen Elphaba for sixteen years. He had hardly flinched at Saguaro’s reaction and had not even looked out the window for affirmation.

 

It hit Saguaro at once. “You knew she was coming, didn’t you? That’s why you were the only Monkey who could come tonight. She made you promise to keep me here.”

 

Caper’s gaze cast downwards. “Our paths crossed at Camp Gabryel. When I received the invitation from Miss Glinda, your mother asked me to accept it. She’s very worried about you. She just wants to make it right with you.”

 

“Well, did she tell you what she did?” Saguaro said, her voice rising. Upstairs, the orchestra was playing a soft ballad, so she lowered her voice when she spoke again. “Did she tell you that she’s the one who drove me away?”

 

“Not exactly. Still, I know how sorry she is. I’m sure if you give her the chance to explain, everything will make sense.”

 

“I don’t need her to explain,” Saguaro said. “I know what I saw. What I need is to get away.”

 

Gabryel, who’d been staring out the window, turned back to them. “Elphaba can’t move. She’s completely frozen. I think you did something with your powers, Saguaro, because I don’t know what else could have happened.”

 

“I’m sure she’ll be all right,” said Caper. “These effects are only temporary. When Miss Saguaro calms down, Ms. Elphaba will return to normal.”

 

She was not going to calm down. She’d never felt less calm in her life.

 

Back in Cascadia, whenever Saguaro was upset, she went out running. Though her anger never completely disappeared, something about the drumming of her heart and the pumping of her legs always calmed her. Now, Saguaro was overcome with the urge to run once more.

 

“Saguaro, you need to calm down,” Gabryel said. “I know you didn’t do it on purpose, but I’m really worried about your mother. She’s like a statue.”

 

She looked out the window. Sure enough, her mother stood frozen, her broom pointed in the air. Though Saguaro’s first reaction was concern for her mother, she pushed this away.

 

None of them understood. She did not want to hurt her mother again, but she had no choice. There were some truths she was still not ready to face. Besides, she had been hurt first.

 

She felt the wickedness of the words as she said them. “I don’t care. At least this will give me enough time to get away.”

 

Gabryel’s mouth fell open. “Wait. Where are you going?”

 

She picked up the Grimmerie and turned to the page with her mother’s handwritten spell.

 

“I’m off to find Dorothy’s shoes.”

 

« Chapter Twenty-Nine 

 

1 Comments ↓

One Response to “XXX. Through the Window”

  1. avatar
    Christine March 4, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

    Ah!! I just stumbled upon this internet gold this morning, and have read it all in one day. I must say, I am hooked. You are SUCH an amazing, wonderfulicious writer…I can’t wait for the next chapter!!

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