Any witch, and any person with a mind to see it and the stubbornness to choose to act, knows the world was made up of stories, built up on the layers of layers of them, like the stones of Ankh Morpork only cleaner. The Disc is carried on the shoulders of a story of four elephants and a turtle. The story of the elephants and the turtle is true. Most stories are true.
The hard part is telling the difference between what was true and what just happened. A tendency not to need the privy can often be a sign of being stuck in a story, or of a need to eat more fibre.
Witches didn't like the word fate. A witch who believes in fate is only a few letters away from believing in a good cackle (most witches can spell, they just choose not to). It was a witch's job to know who she was, to shove that knowledge in the cracks and gaps of the world as a lever and to pull and push until the story ran as close to true as possible.
Tiffany sat in the dairy, the aftermath of a story still clinging to her boots, her hands working at what wasn't cheese yet, but had lost any claim it might have had to being milk.
Sheep were remarkably calm animals - Tiffany had often thought it came from eating nothing but grass, and thought about telling Mrs Golding to try it for her fits. She hadn't, because it was just as likely to be on account of running about the downs with no clothes on and being nipped by sheepdogs and it was probably better for the calmness of the Chalk in general, and Mr Golding in particular, that Mrs Golding not do that.
Stories are rarely interested in cheesemaking, but despite that the tails of a tale were trying to rap itself around Tiffany.
It wasn't like something creeping down the back of her neck, and Tiffany was familiar with that from years of being an older sister to a younger brother before she decided to become a witch, but Tiffany felt something wiggling behind her and out of the corner of her eye.
Slowly and deliberately she stood up. There were several stages of cheese-making that needed the use of a big, heavy stick and Tiffany felt the weight of it in her hands and hoped not to have to hit anyone over the head with it. It was older than she was, and in certain literal ways, more valuable.
The dairy was empty, except for her, cheese - both in cheese and pre-cheese forms, other cheese related accessories and her hat, hanging on a hook on the wall. Tiffany picked up her hat and jammed it on her head. The forces of narrativium recognised the shape of the hat, heard a voice outside and the remains of its waveform collapsed into an attempt at a happy-ever-after.
When a story comes up against a witch, the story loses.
The Nac Mac Feegles had a saying.
Actually they had several, "Who're you lookin' a'?", "Tha' sheep oer there, tha's ma sheep." and "Tha couldnae find a cow's pat wi' aye feets, Daft Wullie," being some of the most popular, even among those Nac Mac Feegles who had never met Daft Wullie, heard of Daft Wullie or even been accidentally set on fire by him.
Then there were the sayings of people who encountered them, which were usually along the lines of "What have you done with my (cheese/sheep/anvil/antique woodcuts), you bastards!" or the wheezy, snorty gasp of somebody who's been punched in the unmentionables by someone much smaller than them and found it more painful than they were expecting in the short time before they reached unconsciousness. Upon which point the Feegle would jump up and down on them shouting, "Come on, ye wee bigjob, ye calls tha' a fight?" until they were distracted by the next target, be it Feegle, bigjob or You. Littler-than-little-Angus-Angus didn't like to talk about the time he tried to thump the hag-o-hag's cat, but at least now the limp was almost gone.
The kelda held it to be 'It's not the seeing of it, but the knowing of it that holds it true' while the rest of the clans held to 'it's not tha seein' o' it, but the taking and the having that makes it mine and not yerrs' often accompanied by stealing whatever they could lay their hands on, which was a surprising large amount considering the size of the average Feegle's fists.
But a kelda saw and, if she looked deep enough, a kelda knew. Sometimes what she saw didn't make any sense, and sometimes what she knew had to be told despite that. Other times were calmer - for a value of fight-happy Feegleness - and easier - for the same, and Jeannie could let the knowledge rest in the warmth of her stomach, with a smile for the big wee hag and security for the clan.
So it wasn't a surprise to Jeannie that Rob had come home waving a grubby piece of paper twice the size of him, back again from looking after the big wee hag and with all his limbs attached. He presented it to Jeannie with a deliberate nod and a, "The big wee hag made the wee Baron give us this all proper legally-legitimate-" during which word Rob came to a mangled halt with, "All ours."
"Is that so then, Rob-of-mine?" Jeannie frowned at the words on the paper, dozens of them tangling up with curlicues and curly-r-s to give the Feegles something already theirs.
"Aye," said Rob Anybody, engaged as he was in pawing through his many pockets, "And not even stolen," he added, knowing that his kelda had some funny ideas on that.
"No?" Jeannie looked at him.
"No," Rob said. Jeannie looked at him again. He shuffled his feet. She was still looking at him. He tried thinking, but the only thought that came rolling out of him was the hopefully offered, "No' that?"
While Rob was showing Jeannie the fine collection of party string - in pink and yellow and white - from the wedding, and struggling to explain exactly what it was for, Tiffany was chasing Horace over the downs while the cheese made eager squeaky noises.
The cheese was fast and left a thin pale trail of something that Tiffany was putting in a mental box labelled as 'stuff', and choosing not to think about. She might have made Horace, being a witch meant taking responsibility for things - quite often the messy awkwardness of other people's responsibilities - however problematic and sticky, and Horace was both, but contemplation of the cheese's interior was a subject best left to those nights that she really needed to stay awake.
Tiffany's hair was bundled up inside her black pointy hat as she chased the cheese. Witches didn't chase rogue dairy products through thankfully empty corners of the Chalk, grass springing up under feet in sensible boots laced up tightly because their mothers were sure they were going to grow into them. And they particularly didn't let anyone else see them do that.
Anyone other than the near-everpresent Feegles, which was why Tiffany clearly said, "You didn't see this," before launching herself into a Quirmian tackle.
Scrambling to her feet, her hat still firmly attached to her head and her arms full of the vigorous squelchings of an enthusiastic Horace.
"Dinnt see wha'?" asked a voice out of the air.
"The big wee hag dinnt wans us to see her jumping oer and showing her knickers," said another, more informed or perhaps just less subtle voice.
"The aggy blue ones or the ones wi' wee flo'rs on?" asked a curious third voice, as Tiffany turned slightly pink on the inside. On the outside she folded her arms; Horace safely tucked away in a double knotted sack, and made a 'hmm' sound deep in her throat.
Three, two, one, and the dustball of a scuffle that had broken out in the vicinity of Tiffany's ankles spat out a sheepish looking Wee Mad Arthur. It was difficult to look embarrassed when you were inches high, blue and wearing the patches of armour held on with what had been the insides of a sheep, but Wee Mad Arthur gave it his best shot.
"We're no' here," Wee Mad Arthur said, positing his best metaphorical conundrum and waving it at Tiffany like a weapon, only less sharp.
Tiffany unfolded her arms just a bit. "You're not here?"
"So you're not following me?"
The sack at Tiffany's feet made an attempt to roll away. She grabbed the slowly shuffling sack and told it, "Stand still or I'll take your kilt away." The contents shrugged and gave a gentle cheesebutt to her ankles, but settled down.
She looked back down at Wee Mad Arthur. The whirling fight behind him had now evidently taken offence to a nearby tree and was now happily picking on someone not their own size.
"And if you're not here and you're not following me, you're not talking to me?" Tiffany said.
"No," then Wee Mad Arthur thought a bit. "Yes. Um," he dragged his thoughts together, and tried, "Maybe?"
"Maybe, what?" Tiffany asked, wrapping a well worn irritation in the entertainment that was tying the Feegle in front of her in knots.
"Maybe, we should go and not-follow you somewhere else?" Wee Mad Arthur suggested, with the air of a wizard who had spent too much time talking to Hex.
"That sounds like a good idea," Tiffany said, and as he turned to go, followed by a cloud of wheeling arms and legs from which the occasional 'crivens' could be heard, she called "Wee Mad Arthur!" and pulled out two-thirds of a newspaper. "The latest Times, from Ankh Morpork."
It was two months old, and the last third - sport, business and 'miscellaneous interesting happenings involving those interesting persons of interest' - was currently the latest in personal hygiene accessories for Mrs Spinney's favourite pig, but it was snatched out of Tiffany's hands like it was made of the gold that the streets of Ankh Morpork certainly weren't.
With Horace safely secured, Tiffany went to see Mr Potts' broken shoulder strapped and set - complete with an exhortation not to try and chase his sheep off the roof next time - and then reassured Annie Stoker that it was both perfectly normal when the baby she was expecting kicked like that and when it didn't.
The Aching dairy was cooler than the rest of Home Farm. Tiffany didn't need to doze off there in the spare minutes she could take between one urgent errand and another happy event, she had her own bed that she often saw at least once a night and often more times than that. There was though the uncomfortable feeling that she shouldn't go to bed in the day even if she had been up until sunrise with the newest member of the village, making sure they stayed that way. It sounded like Granny Weatherwax sniffing and commenting that "Only someone who's no better than she ought to be is in bed in daylight" Sometimes there was Nanny Ogg, who was no better than anyone ought to've been and frequently worse too, just behind her saying, "Oh, you don't need a bed for that, Esme," and giving Tiffany a look that was so full of spill words - half of which made her turn red and the other half she had to go and look up. She hadn't broken into the schoolhouse, Tiffany thought, she just had wandered in when Preston wasn't there and then wandered out with more knowledge than she had when she went in. She wasn't sure how the hopefully figment-of-her-imagination Nanny Ogg had got such a wide vocabulary.
Anyway a witch got used to sleeping upright, at right angles and once, in the case of Miss Tyre of Little Hooping, upside down from a rope suspended from the corner of her cottage.
When they had been littler, and in Wentworth's case considerably stickier, Tiffany would wake up to find grass in her hair or down the back of her neck. Now, her brother was sure she wouldn't turn him into a toad or a figgin or an elephant - he'd seen a picture of one once, all spikes and trunk. Fairly sure.
Still Tiffany woke up to the familiar smell of cheeses, proto-cheeses and the distinct eau-de-sheep, the wet splash that was the background smell of most the Chalk and a continued lack of brother-shaped annoyances. Her mum had left a wrapped up sandwich on the rough table where Tiffany had left her hat - her broomstick was nestling in the rafters. Lately it had difficulty in staying on the ground, and if she sopped it she wasn't sure it would start up again, which was less of a problem than when it decided to fly point upwards. Hanging on wasn't appropriately witchy and all her bottom related padding couldn't make that a comfortable ride.
Letitia probably didn't have to consider padding issues when it came to her dresses, Tiffany thought, with an echo of remembered meanness that was more habit than anything meant. Possibly some frontward padding, so that when she wore floaty dresses that were designed to cling to the bosum area the dresses would have something to cling to. The thought of Letitia in 'the latest lowcut witch about town' line from Mrs Proust's new catalogue, made it hard to hang on to the petty irritations that bubbled up in the privacy of her own head, and Tiffany had just about got used to not checking that every thought in her head was her own.
The big gates to the Baron's castle were propped open by a guard in a hotchpotch of uniform that had been vigorously polished, even the parts that weren't metal. Steve might have had better luck if he'd washed his shirt in water, or jumped in sheep dip with all his clothes on, but at least his chainmail and helmet shone clear enough for Tiffany to see herself in them. If she wanted to peer at his stomach or over his head as he shuffled into a more upright position and said, "Afternoon," his mouth flapped open, "Miss Witch."
"My name is Tiffany, Steve," Tiffany said, not letting her sigh show or her eyes roll. Respect for the uniform was easier when you didn't remember the contents of it trying to eat as much dirt as he could before he was sick.
"Yes, miss," Steve said, his face crumpling in thought, "But my old nan said I should respect my elders now I'm part of the establishmentarianism treading my feet on the necks of- people."
"That would be old Mother Partridge?" Tiffany asked. Before Mother Partridge had been Steve's nan, before she'd even been a mother, she had been Anniversary Sedgwick who ran away to the big city and then came back wearing a sprig of lilac, carrying a baby wrapped in a blanket and holding a deep distrust of anyone in authority or a uniform.
The shock of dark hair that was trying to escape from under his ill-fitting helmet wobbled as its owner nodded. "She's the only one I've got M- Tiffany."
"And I'm your only witch," Tiffany said.
"I know that, miss," Steve told her. "You've got the pointy hat and-" He waved his hand. "And- But she makes me sandwiches." The power of sandwiches is a powerful one, especially when they contain pickles.
Tiffany took a deep breath and missed Preston.
Steve continued over Tiffany's train of thought, thoughts that were about the quality of guard recruits and not at all wistful or warm. "An' you're five months older than me," he said, bashfully. "I think."
"I don't think your nan meant," Tiffany said to the notebook waving arm in front of her. She took it reflexively and started to read, 'Penny Petty, Year of the Quivering Rat, Annabellamaria Quick, Year of the Leaping Gerbil' and pages of names, some carefully marked with a cross and some with a tick. "Exactly this," she said.
Although maybe she did, the Partridges had always been oddly literal.
Tiffany handed back the well-worn notebook, carefully ignoring the SP+AH doodled on the cover, and said, "I think you've misspelled Rotational. Oh, and Steve, I think you need to ask the sergeant about metaphor again."
"Right," the guard said, pulling a pencil stub out of his ear. "Are you looking for the Baron or the Baroness, miss?"
"Letitia's in the library?" Tiffany said, already past him and half-way to where she was going.
Where she was going was a door to the cellar. These days there were a lot fewer bottles of wine and sherry and imported scumble in tin pails than there had been during the old Baron's time. Most of those bottles were soon emptied and then kept as lovingly as the books that Letitia had brought with her. The cellar was well-lit, dry and the pages of unseen books rustled in a wind that wasn't.
Tiffany didn't deliberately avoid where Mrs Coble had landed dead, with her neck at an angle and violent words on her sherry-stained lips. Neither did she walk over the space on purpose. It meant that crossing Letitia's library once a fortnight on a Octeday afternoon was less a walk and more of a twitching of her legs, but some things, Tiffany felt, were important and respect was one of them. She wasn't sure if it was respect for Mrs Coble - or at least respect for the volume of alcohol she could absorb - or respect for herself, but the witch who doesn't know the value of respect is just a woman with an odd taste in headgear and a fondness for black, or in Tiffany's case, blue.
"Hello, Tiffany," Letitia said. She was standing by a workbench with a pair of goggles balanced on her head. Long blonde hair was pulled back in complicated looking plait. She reminded Tiffany of an elaborately groomed horse, and the practical pale grey dress that hung from Letitia made her look like a flickering candle - slight but almost glowing in the shadows of the cellar.
"Letitia," Tiffany nodded, glad that the ceiling was high enough that she didn't have to duck or take her hat off. She was as much a witch without the pointy hat as she was with it but teaching Letitia - even if it wasn't the same as a proper apprenticeship - made her feel at least one of them should look like a witch.
The warts and makeup and most of the other Boffo had been packed away into a box. Letitia still got the catalogues, and had wondered how suitable a fake human skull - complete with 'ye olde candle dribble' - would be as a Hogswatch present for Tiffany. She'd asked one of the Feegle's and his loud assurance that if she wanted a skull they could get one to her, no problem, if she didn't mind it having dents in it, had made one of the lawyers turn purple and make a face at Roland before hurrying up with the deed and not even staying to sand the papers afterwards.
There was a smudge of dust across Letitia's left cheek that highlit her cheekbones. Tiffany inhaled slowly and faded from the foreground, wrapped in the shadow.
Letitia looked where she had been standing, saying, cautiously, "Tiffany?"
Tiffany watched as Letitia stared hard at empty space, before her gaze shifted and her eyes went briefly cross-eyed. The daughter of proud Keepsake's and prouder dancers looked about the cellar, her blue eyes going out of focus as they slid across the path Tiffany had taken when she'd become not-invisible, but Tiffany wasn't there any more.
She reached out to tap Letitia on an elegant shoulder, and appeared just Letitia turned around. "Oh," said Letitia, blinking, "There you are. I could almost see where you were, I think."
"It's your turn, then," said Tiffany, not sure that she had. Letitia hadn't taken easily to witchcraft easily, it was if the shape in her head had been shaped by book magic and the self-belief moulded to it. Self-belief was important as long as you believed in the right things and didn't believe in the wrong things.
Letitia closed her eyes and scrunched up her fists. Tiffany interrupted her, before she started. "Not in here." When they'd scrambled up into the courtyard, amid the banging of the blacksmith and the myriad noises of people who had a job to do as well as those who didn't but know full well that if they weren't looking busy then someone - probably Tiffany - would find them one.
"Here?" Letitia said, looking round. "But it's full of people."
"Anyone can hide in the dark," Tiffany said. "It's harder not being seen when anyone could see you."
Biting a dubious lip, Letitia said, "All right." She tried to slide into the almost non-existant shadows and Tiffany watched.
"It's not how much space you take up," Tiffany said, trying to be helpful. "It's more holding yourself between spaces."
Letitia frowned and tried again. And again. And...
Roland nodded at the man on duty at the gate when he returned that evening, and Sergeant Brian managed a salute with his free hand. The other one was holding a paintbrush. Letty was keen on decorating, and that thought pushed Roland into asking, "Do you know where the Baronness is?" He still wasn't quite used to referring to Letitia as his wife, but there'd been a Baronness at the castle since the first de Chumsfanleigh had bashed someone over the head with an axe.
"She was trying to play hide and seek with Tiffany," said Brian, who had not spent his entire shift looking for marauding enemies and irritated pigs. Either enemies or pigs would have made enough noise for him to have noticed them. The sound of a anguished pig that was determined to share its anguish with anyone within earshot was not a sound easily mistaken for anything else. "I think she's looking at the hall tapestries now."
Roland decided to latch onto the last sentence. Not that he didn't respect and trust Tiffany, and think certain remedies of hers had been very helpful, but somehow his mind seemed to go fuzzy around her and there were gaps in his memories that he managed by not thinking about. He would have asked her about them, but then she might have told him. It was like making sausages, once he'd seen how it was done he couldn't un-know it.
Tiffany had a mind for sausages, he didn't.
Tiffany's mind wasn't on sausages at the moment.
The Aster's old sheep was off its food, Mr Stewart's bandages would need changing tomorrow, she needed to take Granny Walker some secondhand sheets the Parks' had given Tiffany in exchange for curing Mikey Parks' toothache with coloured water, a piece of string and a hammer. That wasn't on her mind either. At least not the surface layers. There were layers of Tiffany's brain that never stopped working, even when she was asleep.
But right now, Tiffany was concentrating on what was in front of her, second and even third thoughts lined up along with the first ones. Standing with ink down his front where Big Finn had thrown it in frustration at the alphabet. Feegles were only a small fraction of the school, a small vocal part of the new school. Last week Wentworth had come home with a newly expanded vocabulary and a black eye.
Some stories had happy endings. Some witches were lucky and got happy endings, some were luckier and got happier beginnings.
Tiffany didn't believe in luck. The Lady didn't believe in her, either.
But the witch did have Her attention.
 Just about anything was cleaner than the immediate vicinity of the Ankh, where throwing up onto the river would only improve the water quality.
 After Tiffany's Feegle accompanied visit to Ankh-Morpork, a student wizard with too many brains and too little sense and very probably containing too much alcohol at the time decided to conduct field research into Feegle society. He came back three weeks later with a notebook full of profanity - the Feegles had words that weren't swears, they just had no words that sounded like they weren't - and a recipe for sheep liniment and started a very profitable combination winery-metal restorer business.
 Which is where all Feegles know a person's thoughts and feelings are kept. You feed and wrap your stomach up carefully, while a head is mostly just useful as a weapon to hit things with.
 The young ladies of the Quirm college for the same had recently developed a game that involved the throwing and kicking of an oddly shaped ball in unexpected directions as well as the wearing of shorts short enough to see they had ankles and occasionally throwing themselves at the ground or each other or both at the same time. Multiversal morphic resonances, what can you do?
 Mrs Proust had a new experimental line that seemed largely based on charging as much money as possible for garments made from as little material as possible. Tiffany thought you could get a similar effect by throwing a perfectly good dress into a fight of Feegles, but although very few actual witches bought from the Charm line the clothing was very popular with seamstresses.
 Presumably to practice repair work on.
 Knowing what the right things and the wrong things to believe in is easy. The trick was knowing which witch was which.