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Spiced Wine
09/20/18 12:15 pm
That was what I was doing, too! Glad you sorted it out :)
Gabriel
09/20/18 12:03 pm
Thank you Spiced! But I think I've figured it out. I think I inadvertantly missed something out. *Shakes head at self* Anyway I skipped previewing and just added and it seems to have worked.
Spiced Wine
09/20/18 11:52 am
You could just email me the text, with the charcters, ratings, summary etc
Spiced Wine
09/20/18 11:51 am
Who had this problem recently? Gabriel, I have access to posting fic, if you can send me your fic I could try and post it, although I am out for a while
Gabriel
09/20/18 11:45 am
Now its telling me i can't go past 'O' in the character section.
Spiced Wine
09/20/18 11:45 am
Also ensure everything you need to check on the form has been checked
Spiced Wine
09/20/18 11:44 am
I get that message myself, sometimes, it is a glitch, and I have to try again
Gabriel
09/20/18 11:33 am
Okay trying again.
Spiced Wine
09/20/18 11:25 am
So I am stumped! Yes, try going back?
Spiced Wine
09/20/18 11:24 am
Well, there are no chapters waiting to be validated on here, which is a glitch but *sometimes* happens
Shout Archive


Of Lapwings, Hares and Speckled Eggs by Narya

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Aman, Y.T. 1367


“Pityo! Telvo! Wait for me!”

Ingalaurë's plaintive voice floated across the meadow from behind them. Telufinwë stopped and rolled his eyes as their younger cousin stumbled towards them on short chubby legs. “Keep up, Ingoldo!” he called impatiently, and turned to his twin. “Why did we have to bring him?”

Pityafinwë blew upwards, ruffling his mop of coppery hair. “Because Makalaurë said so.”

“He's too little.” Telufinwë kicked at a pebble. It skittered into the mallows and daisies, trailing a cloud of dusty soil behind it and startling a lapwing from her nest.

“Ooh!” Pityo's eyes grew wide and round as the bird took wing with an anxious cry of mew-wit! Mew-wit! Warm light caught in her feathers and flashed cherry-red and emerald-green. “I've never seen one so close before!”

“Me neither.” Telufinwë tipped his head back, tasting the spring air, and felt a giddy rush of elation as he breathed in the smell of the meadow and felt the kiss of the warm breeze on his face. He hadn't wanted to be saddled with their little cousin, but at least they were out of the house and free, away from the nagging of their brothers and mother – and from Grandmother Indis's sharp tongue. He couldn't understand why everyone was so bad-tempered. It was only a stupid wedding, and there were days and days to go yet. He wondered why Turukáno wanted to go and get married anyway. Silly thing to do, getting stuck with a girl for your whole life, he thought, trailing his toe through the crumbling lumps of dirt as Ingalaurë panted his way towards them. I'm never getting married, that's for sure.

“Oh! Telvo! I know!” Pityo tugged his brother's sleeve, a wild expression dancing in his eyes that Telufinwë was all too familiar with.

“What?” he replied cautiously.

“Lapwings nest on the ground, don't they?”

“Mmm.” He wasn't sure he liked the sound of this.

“Let's find her eggs!”

“And do what?” Telvo's stomach twisted into a sick knot at the thought of the mother bird coming home to find her unborn babies gone. He dreaded the look on Tyelkormo's face if his big brother ever found out.

“Just look at them,” Pityo said, blinking innocently.

Telvo folded his arms. “Alright. Just look,” he repeated with more authority than he felt. For the first time he wished one of the older ones had come out with them – perhaps Artanis, or Laurëfindë. Ingalaurë's brother had a magical knack of keeping Pityo's mad schemes under control, without ever spoiling their fun.

Pityo nodded vigorously. “I promise. Come on, Ingalaurë,” he added, holding his hand out to their cousin, who was red-cheeked and puffing. “We're going to be very quiet now, understand?”

“Yes, Pityo.”

Together the three of them crept through the meadow, leaves and grass tickling softly against their skin. The wildflowers' scents swirled and mingled as they brushed past – honey and herbs and pepper and cherries and soap. Ingalaurë sniffed at a cowslip and sneezed, then squealed in surprise as a bee crawled out of the drooping yellow bloom.

“Ssh!” hissed Pityo, scanning the ground. He smiled in triumph, and pointed. “There, look.”

In a scrape in the ground, sheltered by tall, nodding flowers and waving grass, nestled four speckled eggs. They were barely a finger's length from tip to base, and were a kind of yellowish-cream in colour, with flecks and spiky lines of dark brown spidering across their surface like cracks in the glaze of a clay vase. The mother bird had carefully surrounded them with stems of dead grass and slender twigs, so they were as snug and safe as they could be while she was gone.

Telvo nudged his brother. “We should go,” he whispered. “She won't come back to them if we're still here.”

“Just a few more moments...”

“Who won't?” Ingalaurë demanded loudly. “Who won't come back?”

“The mother -”

But just as he was about to explain, a sleek, glossy hare lolloped out of the long grass. It sat on its hind legs as though inspecting the children, then dropped back to all fours and began sniffing around the nest. Ingalaurë gasped with delight and rocked on the balls of his feet.

“There you are, Telvo.” Pityafinwë grinned and winked at his twin. “She did come back.”

“What?” Telvo frowned. Surely Pityo didn't think that lapwings could turn into hares?

His brother dropped into a crouch next to Ingalaurë. “Listen, cousin,” he said solemnly. “This is one of the great secrets of springtime. Every year, as a sign that summer will return, the hares make nests in the ground and lay speckled eggs.”

Oh. Telvo saw the gleam of mischief in his twin's eyes, and their little cousin's enraptured face, believing every word. Well, as Pityo's practical jokes went, this one seemed fairly harmless.

“But you must be careful who you tell,” Pityo continued. “Few who haven't seen it with their own eyes will believe you – but you see, don't you? See what a good mother she is, and how she loves her young ones?” The hare snuffled gently at each egg in turn, for all the world as though joining in with Pityo's performance.

“Yes, I see,” breathed Ingalaurë.

“Pityo, come on.” Telvo put his hands on his hips in his best impression of Artanis. This was all well and good, but he knew that the real mother was probably somewhere nearby, frantic with terror for her nest.

Pityo lifted his head, challenge sparkling in his smile. “Or what?”

Telvo sighed. Sometimes he really, really wished he didn't have such a stupid, annoying twin. “Or the hare might change her mind about bringing summer,” he invented. “She can do that, you know.”

Ingalaurë gave a gasp. “Oh, no! Come on, Pityo, let's go now – please?”

Pityo tilted his head, his expression veering between amusement and annoyance. “Very well. Let's go and see if there are trout in the stream.”


***


Beleriand, F.A. 540


There was a note of green in the stale winter air, Maglor thought, closing the window against the draft.

Across the study Maedhros was huddled over a book, the scars on his face deepened by a thoughtful frown. A fur cloak was draped around his shoulders, though he claimed not to feel the cold. Maglor smiled sadly and threw an extra log onto the fire. It popped and hissed, then little ribbons of flame sprang from the cracks in the bark, and a gust of wind over the chimney swirled the fiery orange sheets together and tugged them upwards into a blazing tower. The heat grew fierce. Maglor closed his eyes and sought the Song.

Sure enough, there it was – the warm, teasing lilt in the familiar melodies, heralding the coming of spring and new life. Only Maedhros's thread in the song remained flat and grey. Sighing, Maglor sent a loving caress towards his brother's mind, but was rebuffed by a cold barrier thick as a drift of snow.

Somewhere in the tower below, a door slammed. Excited footsteps scampered up the stairs; a pair of near-identical voices laughed and teased one another; there was a yelp and then more laughter as one of them slipped and regained their balance.

Maglor put a finger to his lips as the door swung open and Elrond and Elros tumbled into the room, cheeks flushed, hair in disarray. He tilted his head towards Maedhros, who didn't seem to have noticed the twins' disorderly entrance. They gave him a cautious glance, and the mirth in their Music faded into silence.

“What is it, boys?” Maglor asked softly. Now that the snow had melted, it was unlike the twins not to be roaming around outside.

Two pairs of grey eyes exchanged uncertain looks, as though deciding who should go first.

“Adar,” Elrond said eventually, “hares don't lay eggs, do they?”

There was a snort from the other side of the study, which rapidly turned into an exaggerated cough. Maglor frowned. “Of course not. Hares give birth to live young – leverets.”

“I told you so!” cried Elrond, turning to his twin in triumph.

Elros looked crestfallen. “Are you sure, Adar?”

“Perfectly.” Maglor's voice acquired a hint of snap – although from the corner of his eye, he could see his brother's shoulders shaking. “Elros, you should know this from your studies; why do you ask such questions?”

“I think I can guess.” To Maglor's astonishment, Maedhros laid his book aside and crossed the room to join them. His brother arranged himself elegantly in the window seat opposite Maglor's armchair, an amused smile softening the lines of his ruined face. “You two have been playing with Gildor, haven't you?”

Elrond and Elros shared a nervous look and nodded.

What does that have to do with anything? Maglor wondered – and was surprised and delighted to feel his brother's answering touch on his mind, like the brush of an eagle's feather and sunlight on snow.

Do you remember this? Maedhros opened his memories to his brother and showed him an image from a golden evening long ago, across the Sundering Seas. Turukáno and Elenwë, newly wed, danced under Laurelin's boughs; their father Fëanáro sat at a table with Nolofinwë, the pair of them sharing a decanter of wine and swapping bawdy jokes; and their younger cousins sprawled in the grass in a little huddle, listening wide-eyed as Ingalaurë declared that only a few days ago, he had seen a hare laying eggs. Nelyo, Makalaurë and Artanis had overheard, and glared suspiciously at Pityo and Telvo, who had looked sheepish and giggled behind their hands...

Yes, Maglor remembered. A smile tugged at his mouth.

“But Gildor showed us a hare in the pasture sitting next to a pile of speckled eggs,” Elros said defensively. “And they were in a little shallow scrape, like hares make.”

“Correlation does not imply causation, Elros,” Maedhros explained in the same soft, patient tones Maglor had often heard him use when tutoring a young Findekáno. Ice knifed his heart, and he quickly shielded his mind and memories in case his brother picked up on his thoughts. “What you saw was a lapwing's nest. They lay their eggs on the ground – often in shallow scrapes, as you noticed – and, like hares, they prefer flat, grassy terrain. Pasture and meadows and wetlands, and so forth.” His eyes were half-closed and slightly unfocussed, as though he was looking at something far away. Maglor's smile deepened. He was willing to wager that in his mind, Maedhros had returned to the great library in their grandfather's summer house, and was remembering some beautifully illustrated tome of natural history. “Hares are bolder than lapwings, though, and more placid. If a mother lapwing hears you coming, she will flee – but any nearby hares are unlikely to be so nervous, and may well stop to inspect the newcomers in their territory.” His eyes returned to the twins, and he smiled. “You saw the hare, but that does not mean the hare laid the eggs.”

Elrond and Elros had drawn closer to Maedhros during this speech, curiosity evidently overcoming their usual wariness. “I told Gildor hares didn't lay eggs,” said Elrond, “but he shouted at me and said I was stupid and ran away.”

“Ah.” Maedhros turned his head and gazed out of the window, his smile fading.

Maglor reached out along their newly-reopened bond. Shall I continue, brother?

Please do.

“Sometimes,” began Maglor, thinking carefully, “people can be very passionate about hares – and other things. Their beliefs can become very precious to them. To challenge those beliefs is to challenge the very truth and fabric of their world. They will fight fiercely for their beliefs until you present them with proof that they are false – and even then, they may still choose to cling on to the hare.”

Elros frowned. “I don't understand.”

Maedhros sighed tiredly, and brushed his fingers across the boy's sheet of silky black hair. Elros's eyes widened at the gesture, but he didn't pull away. “Gildor is here because he is an orphan; his father Inglor died fighting Morgoth's armies. It was Inglor who told Gildor that hares lay eggs.” His eyes drifted to the window again. “He used to believe it was nature's promise that summer would return.”


***


Imladris, T.A. 3018


The Ring slept for now, power from Vilya and Narya webbing around its seeking tendrils and containing the worst of its dangers – but it could not stay in the Valley. Even the power of the Three combined could not hold it forever.

Gandalf sucked on his pipe. The burnt vanilla smell of his tobacco curled through the evening air, and the cheerful chatter of Peregrin and Meriadoc drifted up from the courtyard below.

“...simply the finest place you've ever seen, Pip?”

“...quite the finest...splendid food...although I wish we could have come in springtime, and seen the hares laying their eggs...”

His old ears pricked up at that. Hares laying eggs? What nonsense had that fool of a Took got into his head now?

Meriadoc's response was reassuringly doubtful. “I'm not sure you've got that right, Pip. Hares don't lay eggs.”

“Oh, yes, they do – Gildor said so!” Peregrin's voice was petulant. “Just you ask Sam – or even Cousin Frodo, when he wakes up...”

Gandalf frowned. He recalled Samwise mentioning that he, Frodo and Peregrin had met Gildor on the road near the Woody End, but why in the name of Elbereth would a great Noldorin lord want to fill the Hobbits' heads with such stupidity? He considered going down there to set them straight at once, but thought better of it. He was due to relieve Samwise at Frodo's side – and in any case, the notion was harmless. Dark days were coming, and the air smelled of war. If Peregrin found joy in the idea of hares laying eggs, then Gandalf supposed there was nothing wrong with letting him believe it.


***


Great Smials, Tuckborough, The Shire, Fo.A. 17


“...and that, little ones, is how you will always know when summer is on the way.” Pippin puffed out a smoke ring for effect, enjoying the rapt gazes of his son Faramir and his friends as he finished the story.

In the corner of the sitting room, Diamond tutted.

“Believe what you wish, my love; I had it from the great Gildor Inglorion himself.” He leaned forwards and addressed the children in a conspiratorial whisper. “Now – which of you fine little Hobbits will be the first to find me a hare's nest?”

“Me!”

“No, me!”

The children shrieked and scrambled to their feet and raced out of the door in a flurry of brass buttons, lace ribbons and curly golden hair.


***


St. Andrews, Scotland, 2012 C.E.


The April sunshine poured through the ice cream parlour's glass front. Cat-like, Maglor arched his back in pleasure, revelling in the warmth after so many months of cold and grey.

“What are you thinking?” Claire asked without taking her eyes from the rows and rows of options. Some – vanilla, toffee, raspberry ripple – were very traditional. Others – bubblegum, dirt and worms, Irn Bru – were less so.

Maglor found the choice bewildering.

“You go first,” he said. “I haven't decided.”

He managed not to wince as she ordered one of the Easter specials – a Creme Egg milkshake – with a scoop of coconut ice cream blended in. He knew from her mischievous grin that she'd only chosen it to annoy him. Well, he wasn't rising to her bait, not this time – although he did steal a disgusted glance at the offending product as the server handed it over. The clear plastic cup held a thick slurry of white ice cream and milk, speckled with dark chocolate and laced with ribbons of bright yellow sugary gloop.

He selected a rosehip sorbet, and they set off for the cathedral.

“I can't believe you've never had Jannetta's before,” Claire said for what felt like the tenth time.

Maglor sidestepped a group of students dressed in medieval combat gear, complete with shields and spears. “Believe it or not, I didn't come here for the ice cream.”

She slurped noisily at her milkshake, giggling at the expression on his face. “I didn't either, but come on, that place is legendary.”

“That word does not mean what you seem to think it means.” Although the sorbet was very good, he admitted to himself.

Claire, though, squealed and bounced on the balls of her feet. “Oh my God, you watched it! You watched The Princess Bride!

“There's no need to sound so shocked.” He smiled and opened the old wrought iron gate. “After you.”

The old sandy-grey stone seemed to soak up the sunshine and glow with a soft, butterscotch light. Children darted among the gravestones clutching crayons and crumpled pieces of A4 paper. They tripped and giggled and yelled across the grounds to each other while indulgent parents watched from afar.

Maglor looked on, entertained and bemused. “What are they doing?”

“Have you never seen an Easter egg hunt before?” Claire asked, incredulous. “The curators hide cardboard eggs around the grounds – there, see.” She pointed at a blue and white speckled creation propped against a nearby memorial. “The kids run about and mark them off on their list as they find them, and then when they're finished, they'll get a chocolate bunny or something – oh, look out!” She gripped his wrist as a small shrieking girl with pigtails gambolled across their path, threatening to crash into them both.

“Mummy, look at all the eggs the Easter Bunny laid!”

Maglor froze, his mind flying back across the memories of tens of thousands of years.

“...Adar, hares don't lay eggs, do they?”

“Of course not...”


And before that, before the Oath and the darkness and the grief, a glorious spring evening in Laurelin's embrace, his family united, and a cluster of credulous children listening to a story that made them gasp in wonder...

The girl's mother hurried after her, throwing the pair of them an apologetic glance. “No, sweetheart, the Easter Bunny doesn't lay the eggs...he brings them in his basket...”

Beside him, Claire was shaking with laughter and making strange choking sounds. “God, kids are brilliant.” She took a deep breath and looked at him, and her smile faded. “Hey, are you OK?”

“Fine,” he said automatically.

She touched his arm again, more gently this time. “No, you're not. What's up?”

He stared out over the sea, considering. He hardly ever spoke of his family now – but she knew what he was, this child of the Atani. She knew what he'd done, and still she stood beside him. He could tell her.

They wandered slowly down the Pends and out to East Sands. Once he started talking he found to his surprise that he couldn't stop. He told her of Turukáno's wedding, of Pityo and Telvo's prank on their gullible cousin, and how Inglor had clung to this mad belief through all the years of his life. She laughed and listened as he told her of how Elrond and Elros almost fell for the same nonsense, and she took his scarred hand in hers as he described how Maedhros had finally, briefly, thawed after losing his love, allowing himself a few precious years of something like happiness.

“But I can't understand how the idea is still around, after so long.” Maglor paused. They had reached the end of the beach and were halfway up the path through the caravan park to the golf course.

Claire shrugged. “I suppose it's like your brother said. Correlation and causation. People see the hare – or the rabbit, in this case – then their brain makes the jump, and there you go.” She hesitated, then slipped her arm through his. “Thank you for telling me.”

As they turned back towards the town, a familiar wailing cry of mew-wit! Mew-wit! echoed across the cliff tops behind him. He stopped and scanned the sky, but the lapwing was nowhere to be seen, hidden even from his Elven eyes.
Chapter end notes:
Quenya names and miscellaneous notes:

Pityo/Pityafinwë - Amrod
Telvo/Telufinwë - Amras
Makalaurë - Maglor
Tyelkormo - Celegorm
Artanis - Galadriel
Laurëfindë - Glorfindel
Turukáno - Turgon
Fëanáro - Fëanor
Nolofinwë - Fingolfin
Nelyo - Maedhros
Findekáno - Fingon
Ingalaurë/Ingoldo - Inglor. Not exactly a canon character, but not exactly an OC either. Ingalaurë was a discarded mother-name for Finarfin in the early drafts, and Inglor was a name used for Finrod in other versions. In my 'verse, Inglor is the son of Írimë/Lalwen, which also makes him the younger brother of Glorfindel and cousin to the Fëanorions. His son Gildor is, as the story implies, the same Gildor Inglorion who meets the Hobbits on their way to Crickhollow in The Fellowship of the Ring.

This story was inspired by the (possibly apocryphal) pagan myth that hares lay eggs.

I couldn't resist linking up the end of the story with Nocturne, my other piece set in St. Andrews. It also features Maglor and Claire. The 2012 date was selected because that's the last year I lived up there; a few things about the town have changed since then, and I didn't want to introduce mistakes and anachronisms, however minor. Jannetta's is still there, though, and is well worth a visit if you're ever in the vicinity.
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