Easter.Cross.Cultures

Author: -.aranel.laerien.-

Rating: G

Disclaimers: Anything that's recognisable as Tolkien's is his, not mine, and I don't own the Easter bunny...


Four hobbits gathered around the clearing in the light of the evening sun. Should anyone ever ask what a hobbit was, all you would have to do was point at these four. There was a hobbit of considerable reputation, a gardener keen on folklore, a rather intelligent and adventurous hobbit and this particular hobbit who was curious above all hobbits, made the most mischief, and in fact, was the most foolish.

Right now, they crowded together, four stump-like beings rising from the ground, doing what they all loved best – eating and chatting idly. They were indeed the very epitome of their kind.

"Strider!" The young Pippin called suddenly. "What's an Easter bunny?"

The ranger looked over from where he was communing with Gandalf the wizard and Legolas the elf. Gandalf's eyebrows were instantly raised and Legolas' face broke into a mischievous grin.

"Go over," the elf said. "You're the expert at this!"

Aragorn glared somewhat at the elf before joining the hobbits, noticing with interest that both the wizard and elf were moving over, and even Boromir and Gimli had interrupted their conversation on building techniques to listen in.

Aragorn suddenly felt conscious of the attention on him.

"So, what do you want me to say?" he asked.

Pippin repeated his question, "What's an Easter bunny? They won't tell me anything!" He motioned exasperatedly at the three other hobbits.

"That might be because they do not know anything," Legolas laughed, enjoying the sight of three red faces.

Gandalf seriously wondered if Legolas was truly Thranduil's son; that elven prince never seemed to ever get serious.

Seeing that Aragorn had yet to answer, Boromir gave a quick explanation, "Some people believe that on Easter day, a bunny would hop by and hide eggs all over in their gardens. This grew into a tradition and now it is people who do the hiding for their children to find the eggs."

"Bah!" Gimli put in gruffly with pride. "To the dwarves, 'Easter Bunnies' is the favourite dish. It is said that bunnies caught and cooked on Easter day taste the best!"

"I think that sounds good," Pippin put in.

When the topic switched to food, Sam would not be left out.

"But that is only if you stew them the right way. You can't use too hot a flame too," he contributed his cooking expertise.

"Our Easter bunnies are rabbits which gather near the Palace on Easter day," Legolas said in his fair, light voice. "They send greetings and well-wishes to us. Legend has it that this is the day something good will happen to the realm and the hares have never failed to bring glad tidings. Once, they led us to find an elf who had been missing for a month."

"That's a beautiful tale," Frodo said. "Is it not a day of good-will as well?"

"Yes," Legolas replied. "We exchange small tokens as a sign of blessing and friendship."

"We have no such stories, do we, Mister Frodo?" Sam asked.

"No, but you can write one," Frodo suggested, causing all who heard them break into helpless laughter.

Aragorn had been silent throughout the conversation, and Merry scooted over and asked, "Strider? What do you know of the Easter bunny?"

The attention shifted back momentarily to Aragorn. Gandalf saw his hesitation and spoke instead, "I have heard many tales of Easter bunnies, but…"

Aragorn was visibly lost in his own thoughts, having tuned out the sounds of the conversation a long time ago. He remembered the first time he had read about an Easter bunny. That was many decades ago, when he was yet a child. He had been bored, cooped up in Lord Elrond's house because of the heavy rain. Then, his mother had passed him a book on ancient tales and legends to ease his restless spirit.

He could still remember his mother; her gentleness, her beauty, her wisdom… She had great foresight and although she often spoke of ill omens, her presence was always a comfort to him. Whenever he was in any trouble, she would be there, be it to defend him from Glorfindel's wrath or that of the trees, which were growing irate at his arrows sticking out from them.

But that day, she was not around. Now that Aragorn thought of it, it was just as well. Elladan and Elrohir had taken the child out for a casual stroll down in the South, and if she were there too… Aragorn did not wish to know what might have happened.


Flashback


"Estel! Don't run so fast, or you'll fall!" Elladan called after the toddler.

They were on sloping ground, and the elf was doubly cautious. He did not wish to be the one to carry back an injured child and face his father's ire.

Thankfully, Estel obeyed instantly, slowing down to a jog.

Elrohir scooped the child into his arms.

"So, Estel's being a good boy?" He asked, laughing as the boy nodded solemnly, then giggled and squirmed around at his tickles.

A warning look from Elladan put an abrupt stop to this.

"Something's coming," Elladan whispered, although Elrohir had already been aware of this.

Crouching in the bushes just above a gentle slope, they were able to see the approaching figures below them clearly. The twins exchanged a look of worry. Estel caught the expression, although he did not understand it.

"Who are they?" He asked quietly, eyes riveted on the relatively neat marching columns.

"Easterlings," Elladan answered softly. They were not that far from where they hid, and Elladan did not wish to test his new blade on the entire army.

"Easter-lings?" Estel thought it over in his small mind. "Why must we hide from the Easter children?"

"No, Estel," Elrohir tried to explain. "They are not children, they are servants of the Dark Lord. They are bad people."

Estel nodded, but did not seem to understand that completely either. His brain decided that even if they were bad, they must be nice people too, or why would they have a nice name and be called children? Whatever Elrohir said, "-ling" meant "children" and children were nice people.

The columns marched by (followed by Estel's enthralled gaze) and the twins sighed in relief.

But it was not over yet.

Two Easterlings had been left behind, and now they came running up to rejoin the main force.

And Estel thought of a way to confirm his suspicions.

Before the twins could react, he ran out of the bushes, down the slope and stood right in front of them.

"Greetings," he said in his most grown-up voice. "You are Easterlings?"

The next thing he knew was that a knife came thrusting towards him. He froze for a moment, then he found his body and ducked, but not in time. The knife cut his side painfully, and he fell onto the ground in pain, trying not to cry.

He was scared and trembling badly. What did he do wrong? Why did they make him hurt? Estel broke out in soft sobs. It was painful, and he still did not understand why they were like this. So, Easterlings were bad.

Either way, Elladan and Elrohir finished those two off before they could do anything else or even answer his questions. Estel, still sniffing, was carried home (by a murmuring Elladan), and the injury was finally and properly treated.

Both Lord Elrond and his mother had each given him a long lecture about being good. If there were anything he needed to know, he should ask ada, nana, 'Dan or 'Ro. Never talk to strangers. He would remember that.


End of Flashback


He smiled at the memory. That seemed so distant now. But his mother would always live within him, guiding him wherever he may be. So would Lord Elrond and the twins. He would never be alone. And if he had any questions, he would ask them.

"Aragorn? Why don't you share something of the Easter bunny?" Legolas gave him a teasing smile, snapping him out of his reverie.

Aragorn shrugged as nonchalantly as he could, then said, "I have nothing much to share; what I know has already been mentioned. I will get more firewood."

With that, he disappeared into the woods, knowing full well that it would have made no difference.

A while later, laughter sailed through the air to where he was poking the undergrowth carelessly with a fallen branch. He went further into the woods, telling himself that his red face was the result of the miruvor, which he had drunk about two hours ago…

When he finally decided to sneak back to the campsite and throttle Legolas under the cover of the night, the elf had disappeared. He smiled. This was just perfect…

On Easter morning, everyone woke to find beautiful elven-woven leaves near where they slept. Everyone had a different weaving, and was immensely satisfied with his gift. Well, everyone except Aragorn; his only gift was loud elven laughter.


I Veth