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Jun 24, 2021 5:57 PM
Catherine goes to fairyland and meets some Feanorians
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"She'll be a while, see, she's got a whole step left. We'll sleep and wake and maybe sleep again, and then she'll be here." He eyes the woman more carefully. "I think we won't need to sleep twice, not if she's hurried once she can't see you."

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"I don't wanna sleep without mommy."

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"I guess you can run around not sleeping, if you'd like that better. I can't make her go any faster."

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Ingolfr sucks his thumb and whimpers.

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That's not a good idea but it's not really his job to explain that and the tiny human doesn't look of a mind to listen. 

 

"Well, I'm going to sleep."

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"I can't sleep without a story," says Ingolfr, looking like he's about to cry.

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"Well, if you'd care to owe me a story, I know some, but maybe our stories won't be any more to your taste than our meat, and where would we be then?"

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Ingolfr flops down in the grass and sobs.

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He considerately ignores this and pretends to sleep, though the crying is in fact too distracting for sleep. 

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He sobs for several minutes and then passes out.

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That's all right, then. 

 

He spends a while bending blades of grass into a more satisfactory pattern and then sleeps too.

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Eventually Ingolfr wakes up.

He thinks about crying some more, and then decides to try pulling on his mother's hand to see if that helps.

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It doesn't.

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Well OK he's out of ideas now.

He cries.

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He wakes up and sits up and watches him, holding his hands in his lap as if one is preventing the other from extending itself to do something useful. 

"It won't be very long now. I think she has noticed she doesn't see you, and is hurrying."

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He quiets a little, and tries to calm down, and can't, and sobs some more.

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Giving him a hug would be practically as bad as telling him a story, so he does neither, and after some reflection decides that he could sing himself a song, and does this, ignoring entirely whether it has any effects at all on the small child.

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He cries for a bit and listens and eventually manages to quiet down. He shreds some grass between his fingers for a while, and then clings to one of his mother's legs, because this is sort of almost like a hug.

He's very hungry, but he isn't very good at noticing when he's hungry, so he doesn't say this.

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And eventually his mother's stride interrupts some particular threshold and she's not slow, anymore, and can notice him, and notice the man in the clearing, and notice (if she thinks to look for them) the ring of mushrooms around the clearing.

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Her first concern is really the fact that her child is visible again and looks like he is hanging onto his ordinarily bizarrely calm demeanor by a thread. She scoops him up. It's hard to scoop a baby and a toddler at the same time, but this is important, and she manages.

She notices the man. Notices the mushrooms. There are stories, both here and in Britain, of beings that are neither human nor angel nor demon, beings that create rings of mushrooms with their dances. Two seconds ago she would have said, if pressed, that she wasn't sure whether she believed in unseen spirits that meant neither good nor ill, but now she believes. The main point of uncertainty is whether such beings are more like elves, the powerful but almost benignly human creatures the Scandinavians speak of in well-lit feast halls, or more like fairies, the creatures she only knows from whispered dire warnings she heard as a child on the edge of sleep. Fairies, she remembers, are legalistic, vengeful, obsessed with politeness, and above all, impossible to predict, their values only dimly reminiscent of anything a human might consider caring about. You may try to protect yourself with medals or charms or clever words or iron swords, but the only way to ever be really safe from them is to avoid anywhere that fairies have ever thought to claim as their own. 

For the first time in years, maybe ever, she hopes the Scandinavians are right. She isn't counting on it.

She rocks her child back and forth. She doesn't say anything to the fairy, or the elf, or whatever he is. But she doesn't step out of the ring, either.

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"He was a long way ahead of you," he says, "and didn't sleep for very much of it."

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Well, if she isn't going to carry him right back out, then clearly she's going to end up talking to the fairies at least a little. This is a terrible idea, but you don't exactly meet a fairy every day, and it's been very boring, being locked in stone halls for the past twelve years.

 

"I don't know what that means."

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He stands up, walks three steps across the clearing. He points at the people she was travelling with, the ones who didn't wander off their path in pursuit of a toddler. 

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She looks at them. She notes that they're not moving.

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"You didn't know? That's how humans are. They're slow. They can't see anyone else because nothing can possibly hold still long enough."

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