Disclaimer: All characters from Wicked belong to Gregory Maguire

I lifted the title from what I recalled as a line from one of my fave childhood series, C.S. Lewis' Narnia books.

Bookverse with some gleaned Musicalverse as well when it suits.
Takes place some short years after Elphaba goes underground after leaving Shiz. Glinda continues to look for purpose and perspective, as well as Elphaba. Elphaba/Glinda friendship/relationship is central.

I decided that I couldn't decide about starting a sequel to my first fic, or continuing it. I came to the conclusion that I was not finished with Rare Birds and Revelations, but was not in the frame of mind to continue it quite at this moment. So…I took the bit of foreshadowing I included in my last chapter and ran with that for now, therefore basically starting a sequel, but have not finished the first part. Confused yet? In other words, I knew where I was going, and wanted to get some of it started while it was fresh in my head. (nothing like lying around in mild discomfort with nothing better to do that read or think or type…) I spent 6 hours stairing out the windows yesterday as the southwestern virginia highlands went speeding by, and if I could have typed without getting too urpy, I could've pounded out a few more chapters yesterday. As it is, I will keep up with both of them from now as best I can.

So, this takes place a good ways down the road from Rare Birds and Revelations, but it is in my head still a continuation. But I will return to Rare Birds as my mood and mobility improves!

A/N I left off Rare Birds last chapter with this: ( but again, I have not finished with Rare Birds yet by a long shot I promise)

Hope, anticipation, faith, all are funny things. And it wasn't far off that Autumn when Elphaba and Galinda would learn how long they could hold out; how long they would have to hold out, and how two hours can be a mere blink of time. They would come to know that a body, a soul could stretch an hour, a handful of hours or nights, and keep them close and burning brightly at times, or glowing and warm in the longer in-betweens.

She dispelled the bubble along with the glamourie as soon as she touched down on the balcony of the Arduenna ancestral family home. She shivered as the tingle of magic slid away, leaving her feeling, as it always did now, a little tainted. Shedding that Glinda always relieved her, and left a veneer of shame clinging to her. It lingered more these days. But it was good to be home, even if it was only for enough time to wash the grime of her life away for a few days.

Sighing, she opened the balcony doors and headed inside. It happened that Whinnow was in her rooms upstairs just then, and she glanced up startled when the doors opened, but then she relaxed again. The woman's face gave away what Glinda suspected; she must look as hellish as she felt.

"Good morning Lady Glinda, it does my heart good to see you home. I'm so sorry, I was just seeing to your quarters, I didn't realize you were expected, else I would have finished before now. My apologies. Shall I draw you a bath, and let you parents know you've arrived, or perhaps they know already?" Whinnow dipped her head in a perfunctory curtsy and moved towards her now, reaching out to take her traveling cloak as Glinda removed it.

"No, no, not yet, but thank you Whinnow." She handed her pink cloak over. "I'm heading out again as soon as I can get a few things together. Mother and Father don't know I've come yet, but please do tell them, and let them know I'll join them for dinner in two days if you would. Sir Chuffrey stayed in the city, so no need to worry about his rooms."

"Certainly my Lady. I'll inform the rest of the staff and your mother, then I'll be back to collect the rest of your traveling clothes for cleaning shortly. Should I turn Ghillie out as well? He's been pining a bit, so I'm sure he'll be delighted to see you."

Glinda allowed herself a small smile and chuckle and teased the middle-aged woman. Whinnow hadn't been her Ama, but she'd been with her family since Glinda was tiny. "And how could you tell then? But yes, that would do I think. We'll keep each other company. Thank you Whinnow."

Whinnow ducked her head and left the room, thinking she was hiding the look of worry on her face better than she had. Glinda noticed. She sighed. Even had she done a better job, Glinda knew everyone was concerned about her. And they had been for quite a while now. She didn't know whether to be offended or grateful, so she spent a little time feeling both for half a minute before she heard some telltale clicking across the Ixian marble stairs, increasing in tempo and volume as it came down the hall.

Ghillie came trotting in with his long mournful face, looking as happy as the stately Vinkus Hound possibly could. He had grown well into his adult dog hood. Extremely long of limb and lanky, he had been well-suited for ranging the dry deserts of his native lands, but here, he often looked a wee bit miserable and altogether too damp. But he had a fine time around the estate, coursing the rabbits and running them to ground, the poor things. But he was so proud of his prowess she didn't begrudge him it too much. And Father adored him, even if he said he couldn't tree anything worth the effort. And Mother loved him because he always looked like he needed loving. Loving and food as well. He was delicate in his acceptance of both. And she loved him because, because of where she had found him. And because he reminded Glinda of her. Reminded her of Elphaba.

At least he had his winter coat coming in a bit, feathering his tail, his narrow but deep chest and his flanks; he wouldn't suffer too much the next couple of nights of early Autumn in the Glikkus.

Whinnow meanwhile had hurried downstairs with the news for the staff that Lady Glinda was home, sans Sir Chuffrey for a brief but undetermined amount of time, and would be dining at the house in two evenings when she returned from her outing. She then set out to find Glinda's mother, finding her finally in the far wing, near the winter atrium.

"She's back again then?" She asked, anxious for news. "And how does she look? She's going to…meditate then I take it?" Whinnow wished she could reassure Glinda's mother, but instead she shrugged and then nodded her opinion. It had been close on three months since Glinda had been home, and her last visit had been a social and family related affair, picnics and pleasantries. Not penance.

The Arduennas of the Uplands didn't stand on nearly as much ceremony as they once had. Not for a while now. Since the marriage to Sir Chuffrey – a 'good match' to be sure – Glinda had been handling the chores of being the rising star in the family well, so they couldn't complain.

But something had happened in the last couple of years that had dropped a cowl over their once vital bubbly girl. Still a young woman in their eyes, it was apparent the enthusiasm of her youth had faded. In the Spring two years ago, Galinda had shown up by bubble, a shell of herself, at the family home, with Ghillie in tow, both of them looking world-weary.

She'd been married for a handful of years already then but at the time they did wonder if her new beau had turned out in the end to be that unfortunately all-too-common breed of husband who hid a twisted or cruel bent. She assured them on this point, telling them Chuffrey was not to blame. Puzzled, they alternated between pressing too close, and allowing her complete solitude. Eventually after a wide enough berth, Galinda one day announced she was going on what she termed a 'hike'. They were puzzled still, thinking it was something she picked up at University, this 'hiking' thing. They watched with worry as she carefully packed some supplies, took a good stout walking stick, and led the gangly, perpetually hungry looking hound up into the hills and crags that ran for miles up into the mountains above them, feeling helpless.

Three days later, she'd returned. Filthy, damp, quiet, but more refreshed, and more…herself. In the meantime, the Family had somewhat come to a decision of sorts. They had seen the value in striving to make their daughter's family home a haven from public life, and not the showcase for society it had always been. They had planned for and used Galinda as the playing piece she had been, true. But the Glinda that had emerged from Shiz had become a person, a daughter that they were worried for. And while they felt helpless to a larger extent when it came to her well-being outside in Oz at large, they did feel that at the very least they could attempt to alleviate as opposed to aggravate the pressures of her public life when she came home.

These peculiar outings to the mountains she made always seemed to hollow her out, cauterize some wound they couldn't see themselves. Whether that was a good thing or not, Delia Arduenna did not know.

Glinda made short work of changing into suitable clothing, but she was also was methodical in the extreme about seeing to everything thing she needed for these particular trips by herself. It was becoming a ritual. She'd gone through a lot of her young life twittering along, not knowing who she was, worse yet actually being callow enough to believe she did know who she was. She'd had everything done for her most of her life, and it had showed. But that had changed. Even if her public persona didn't always reflect that fact.

This packing and preparation had become part of her journey, as much as sending the bubble away, as greeting Ghillie, squatting down to look him in his big sad eyes, and gently tugging his ears in hello.

Once she had most of what she needed packed, she penned a quick note at her writing desk.

Mother and Father

I've gone upland for a few days with Ghillie. We'll take good care of each other. See you in time for dinner the day after tomorrow, weather permitting

– G.

She folded the note, picked up her rucksack and let out short whistle. "Come on my friend, off we go." She headed down the servants' stairs, and to the kitchen and cellar, grabbing necessary items as she went, snuck into the great room and left her note on the large muskwood table, and then it was out onto the back lawn, surrounded by stone. Then beyond that through the vineyards, and soon they were winding their way up into the highlands.

Ghillie loped along next to her, sometimes ranging ahead to take a bead on something rustling in the brush, but never too far. Nor did he straggle too far behind, bolting back to catch up with her if he fell too far behind for his comfort, or for that matter, hers. Glinda set a brisk pace for herself. It wasn't mid day yet, but it wasn't much more than an hour or so before that time, and she had more than a few miles of punishing terrain ahead of her. They continued on. Further up and further in.

Sorry if anyone is confused, I just took a turn for the serious this week, so thought I should run with what was in my head for now. I will keep up with both stories, really. Thanks for reading, and any reviews that come my way, as I shifted gears quite a bit, I'm a little nervous frankly!