There was a duck, a female pochard, nesting in one of the flowerbeds up on the Plas. What had happened to her mate was anyone’s guess, but it had quickly become clear to Ianto that Mrs Duck was going it alone, so he’d taken to putting food out for her, to save her having to trek far for a meal, leaving her eight eggs vulnerable.
This morning, however, as Ianto went to feed her before starting work, although the eggs were still in the hollow Mrs Duck had excavated for them, the duck herself wasn’t there. All that remained were feathers and some smears of blood nearby. It seemed that Mrs Duck had become a late supper for some hungry creature, probably a marauding fox. The eggs were still warm, however, and not wanting mama duck’s sacrifice to be in vain, Ianto gathered them into the tub of food he’d brought out with him and took them down to the Hub, thinking he’d try to hatch them.
To keep them warm while he located an incubator and got it set up, he put the eggs in a box lined with an old towel, then tucked a hot water bottle underneath, but coming back from the archives, lugging the heavy incubator, he found only one egg left in the box. None of the team were in yet, it was still too early, and Jack had left a note saying he’d been called out to one of Cardiff’s alien residents. The eggs hadn’t hatched, there were no bits of shell, so where had they gone?
Then Nosy appeared, making a beeline for the temporary nest, where it gently plucked out the final egg and slithered away. Ianto followed with the box, intending to retrieve all the eggs and put them out of reach, but he changed his mind when he saw that Nosy had built a nest out of blankets, and the eggs were resting safely in the middle. Tucking the final egg in with its fellows, Nosy carefully curled itself around them, humming softly.
“You’re volunteering for parental duties, are you?”
“Hum.” Nosy had obviously decided the eggs should be its responsibility.
“Well, if you’re sure. It shouldn’t be long before they start hatching.” With that, Ianto left the Fluff to play foster parent.
Two days later, he heard an excited hum from Nosy and hurried to the ‘nest’. The eggs were hatching! He and Nosy watched entranced as the damp, downy little ducklings battled their way free. Nosy blew gently on them to dry them out, and soon they were arrayed on top of the Fluff, with only their heads visible through its thick fur. Nosy looked inordinately proud of its new family.
“You do know that they think you’re their mother, right?”
“That means you’ll have to help them learn to be ducks. Good luck teaching them to swim and fly.”
If the prospect worried Nosy, it didn’t show. It was a Fluff; it would figure everything out.