Disclaimer: All characters from Wicked belong to Gregory Maguire

I lifted the title from what I recalled as a line from one of my favorite 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.

Slowly, she rose and propped herself on her elbows. Quietly. Ghillie suddenly dropped his butt and sat, whining. An oddly familiar, alarmingly unattractive haggish looking shape was entering her clearing.

Glinda watched as she (and Glinda wasn't entirely sure why 'she' popped into her mind to describe the shape, but that was the sense of it somehow), moved out of the vague outline of the brush and trees surrounding her camp. Quickly pulling her feet beneath her she knelt at the ready. Ready for what was unclear also, but ready nonetheless. Between her poised position, and Ghillie in his 'sit' position near the fire, they looked oddly alike, both attentive and unsure.

The misshapen, irregular accumulation of rags and scarves in front of her moved further out of the surrounding ring of trees, rather spryly towards her, quick more graceful than she would have guessed. Glinda wondered if perhaps she had been mistaken about the age of the creature; the weathered skin, or what she could see of it, would seem to indicate someone bordering ancient. But these mountain folk though, sometimes they looked older and worse for wear long before they should. Tough life, tough winds, tough weather up this far up in the Glikkus highlands.

When she spoke, the voice did seem more in keeping with her initial impression. Dry and creaky, the vaguely womanish thing spouted, "Well, well. What do we have here? A Girl and her Dog, or a Dog and his Girl off in the woods all alone? Didn't your parents ever warn you about wandering off on your own?" Noting the look on Glinda's face, she continued, "Oh my dearie, don't let Mother Yackle frighten you…" She raised the strange crook she carried with her and pointed it at her levelly before continuing, "Or interfere with your little confession out here then. It is a confession, yes? Bless you child, have you gone forth and sinned further?"

Glinda slowly stood, not answering, or admitting anything. Absently, she also she wondered if she'd said dog or Dog? She shook her head, not in reply to the woman's question, more to clear her head. She wasn't feeling threatened per se, but still she was running through her options, in the event she needed them. Who knew whom or what was dangerous anywhere in Oz anymore?

She didn't really need her wand for sorcery all the time, unless it was a particularly complicated spell she was attempting. And she rarely attempted anything too difficult anyway. When things went too awry, it could be ugly. And anyway, Ghillie was incredibly fast and had some powerful jaws as well, as some poor rabbits and even a badger or two had cause to know back at home. Still, she felt she wanted at least her walking stick nearby. What? In case she felt like bludgeoning a more than likely harmless old woman over the head with it? 'Nice Glinda. Very civilized,' she chastised herself. She calmed her breathing, coming down from the high alert she'd been at, to a more reasonable level of suspicion. It was just a rather old, hapless looking woman, alone. How dangerous could she be?

Nevertheless, as she collected herself somewhat and stood up all the way, she was relieved when Ghillie came to sit next to her. Emboldened just a little by his presence, she addressed the stranger. "You. You look familiar…how do I know you? Are you an Uplander? What are you doing here?" She let the question trail off, her eyes narrowing.

The woman's face contracted into even more wrinkles at this, her eyes almost disappearing altogether. "It seems being out here, with no one to talk to but Handsome there, it must take the polish off even an uppity noble such as yourself then. No matter. Mother Yackle never stood much on ceremony either. Yackle is just an old woman, and she gets around true, fair to say. Could be you've seen her before, indeed. Could be."

Glinda absolutely detested hearing someone, anyone, refer to himself or herself in the first person. It reminded her of an encounter, an audience she had long ago that she would rather forget. It also reminded her of what a complete and utter ass she'd been in her younger days, not so long ago really. She sighed and let it pass, refusing to let the intruder call her to the carpet on her manners, asking in the same brusque manner, "So, then...I know you yes, or I know you no?"

"Could be. Could be you know me, true. Could be I know you as well, minnow. Could be I know well who you've been schooling with, my pink little fishy."

The lump of rags stepped lightly past her and moved on by, chuckling deep in her throat as she went, and though the woman didn't come close enough to touch her, Glinda thought she felt hands on her face, her chest, and her thighs, and down below all at once, insinuating. The wind picked up suddenly and dropped again just as quickly. She couldn't help herself, and she started and shivered, as the feeling of touch shimmied over her, leaving her feeling funny somehow. She ran her hand over her hair again to clear her head of that feeling, and it was forgotten for now.

Clearly, the old biddy was talking like a fool; but Glinda also had the inexplicable, vague idea that it was her laught that made her sound sane. Peculiar that. A different sound; a titter, a cackle, a giggle, all probably would have served to cement in Glinda's initial idea that she was just a daft crone roaming the hills, some mid-wife loon peddling 'miracle elixirs' to the isolated towns up here. But she was a good ways from any of the known settlements up in the mountain gaps that she knew of, so she was quite turned around and lost if that was what she was about. And again, her laugh somehow eased her anxiety, took the scariness out of her. Which was probably a little insane too, frankly.

Feeling no less confused, she let the woman continue past her to find a seat by the fire while she pondered.

As it turned out, the fire was not the Mother Yackle's only objective this evening. It was, apparently, the fire and the wine she was headed for. She unabashedly plopped herself down right about where Glinda had been sitting. And then, damned is she wasn't soon helping herself to the bottle of wine. No niceties like pouring the wine seemed necessary as far as she was concerned; she was clearly about to upend the bottle itself.

"By all means, Mother Yackle, Mother Cackle, whatever you care to call yourself. Help yourself, no need to ask! Really!" Glinda said sarcastically. She motioned to Ghillie to come sit next to her. He settled down next her, leaning his solid frame against her, making her feel more solid as well.

Yackle stopped with the bottle halfway to her lips, one eye peering at her. She lowered the bottle slightly and grinned, her teeth were in the shape one would expect from an old woman tramping through the mountains, chewing pinlobble leaves probably. Not a pretty sight. Of course Glinda wasn't expecting the woman to stick her tongue out at her, but expecting it or not, that is what the woman did before she spoke again. "You remind me of someone else. Someone…unique, as well. She wasn't slippery, flippery, fishy like you. She was…"

Glinda had had enough, and cut her off quickly, "Oh, very nice. Barge into my camp. Call me a fish. Drink my wine. Insult me. You are a delightful creature, you are." Glinda snorted her protest, and then shrugged her shoulders, her shaking her head. "Have some then."

Yackle laughed. "Ah, well then, you aren't half so fishy as you once were! Good girl then!" She raised the bottle to her lips and took a long pull at it. Lowering the bottle, she wiped her lips on her oily looking sleeve. Then she put the bottle back so it sat between them, and took out an old pipe and a pouch out of the folds of her cloak.

Glinda watched her scrape the pipe out, while she sat petting Ghillie. What did she mean by that comment? After half a bottle of wine, she was half in the bag herself, she knew, and a bit hazy clearly, as she let a complete stranger waltz in and drink her wine and all. But really, what was with all the 'fish' comments?

The repeated mention of fish made a her a little wary once more, and tickled unpleasant memories again. It brought mind again that harpy Madame Morrible. Just the thought of that woman, even now, was enough to make the hairs on the back of her neck stand up in revulsion. She shivered despite the warmth of the fire, and reached for Ghillie again. She closed her eyes and shook off the feeling, and turned back to the interloper again. Well, at least Ghillie didn't seem to mind her, and she trusted him, and hoped he was a good judge of character. She relaxed slightly.

She didn't know why she let the woman make herself at home exactly. Well, she knew somewhat of it. She was grasping at a reprieve that presented itself nicely. She could keep the woman company for the evening, and put off the rest. And that was fine with her at the moment.

Mother Yackle, old woman, whoever she was, continued to make herself at home in Glinda's little clearing.

"Come here, little man," the visitor suddenly pointed at the hound, surprisingly gently, but also with a undertone of command. It wasn't a request. Ghillie immediately rose and went to her, lowering his head to sniff at her. "You're a handsome one, aren't you? And fair ways from home I see." Ghillie cocked his head and looked at her intently. "Cat got you tongue boy? No? Well, you'll let me know if you want to speak up then." Yackle scratched between his ears and turned to Glinda now.

"And how did you come to have one of these traveling with you, I wonder? Winkie royalty usually keep them you know, they hunt them in tandem with hawks. A long way from home, you are boy." She looked to Glinda again, "And you, I know, you're Gillikin born and Gillikin bred clear as day." She scratched Ghillie some more, rubbed his ears.

Doing her best to turn the tables in a conversation and a situation she didn't feel she was in control of, Glinda retorted, "Indeed? Well I wonder how you would know what Ghi- " she cut herself before she gave his name for some reason and continued, "What he is? As you say, he's a long way from home. How do you know of them then? How did you wander so far as the Vinkus"

The old woman started to speak, and then coughed. Drily. Obviously. And coughed again.

Glinda rolled her eyes, shook her head and said as sardonically as possible, "Subtle as a Reformed Unionist on a Sunday, aren't you?" She reached for the bottle of wine, filled her tin cup, and passed the remainder of bottle over with a sigh. "Have it then, that cough sounds nasty there."

Yackle winked at her, and took the bottle, sipped a bit of the rosy liquid before speaking again, "Well, your little man here has some distant relatives I think. He puts me to mind of one I ran across, also far from the dusty Vinkus. A…curious, an unusual minder that other little pup had. As much a…fish out of water," she laughed wetly, "as you are. Though, mayhap not a fish, for she could not abide the water, that's sure, froggy looking as she was. Green around the gills you might say…"

The intake of Glinda's breath was audible, and almost painful. Ghillie whined. It was unclear as to whether he whined at what the visitor had said in separate understanding, or at the reaction from his Mistress. In either case, or both, he set to whining, while Glinda steadied herself, and tried to sift what she had heard.

Yackle grinned again, and tipped the wine bottle once more.

Thanks all for reading and reviewing again! Sorry, I'm moving a little slower in the updating these days. Holidays approaching, etc., company, annoying dogs that are more annoying when the weather oustide is frightful, won't let them play, etc.

Trawling back thru my early days as a lit major and recalling things I've been forced, er, I mean lucky enough to read, I had a helpful thought. So… if anyone has ever read, or had to read a book by Canadian author Robertson Davies, called Fifth Business…this will make sense. I finally determined that Yackle is pretty much 'Fifth Business' defined for me. Who knew I could reference operatic conventions without ever having seen an opera? Anyway, as such, she's whatever you need her to be, thankfully! You can look it up in Wiki if need be…. And I did enjoy the book for the record I think. Or at least it stuck with me…