Meadow Song · 10:09pm
Before I started writing Without a Hive, I spent a lot of time in planning, thinking out what I would do. One of the first elements that came to mind was how Nictis's time as Meadow Song (Whose name I hadn't even come up with yet) would eventually end, and how. The scene in the alley, when the truth finally comes out, was the first scene I had fully worked out, and it made me think on the aftermath. Nictis would be hiding among ponies, the life he'd built up over so long having been destroyed. I also figured that news of ponies discovered to be changelings would be a major topic in the days after Chrysalis's failed invasion. That spawned the idea of a picture of Meadow being shown in the paper, showing the form taken by one of the imposters.
But what picture? Obviously, it would be one that Spark (Also not named, at that point) had kept. In fact, it felt even more obvious that it would be something he had valued, perhaps even treasured. Originally, something that expressed happiness, and later showing just how much they had both lost. It had to be important.
I immediately thought back to Fragments, to a familiar scenic outlook beside a friendly café, and imagined Meadow Song there, forelegs resting on the edge, looking beautiful and content as she gazed out into the late-evening sky.
It was one of the first fully-formed visuals I had of the story, and after all that happened, it's still one of the first ones to come to mind when I think of Without a Hive. Maybe the first. That photograph of Meadow shows a lot of the arc of the story. First, it shows her increasingly content being among ponies, even while she remains oblivious of her growing feelings for one of them, and it shows Spark's admiration of her. Later, it comes to represent the happiness they have together. And finally, it comes as a reminder of what they had both lost.
Jykinturah picked a perfect moment to portray. I love that scene, where Spark snaps this picture. It's ultimately a small, single moment in the whole story, but it's one that I always felt was like a simple distillment of the overall story. It's a visual that I've had in my head for a long time, and it made me so happy to see this picture.
I was actually pointed to it a little while back, but I was hesitant to link it at first. I couldn't think of a good way to portray how much I liked it. I hope I've done that now.
As an aside, I never did specify the color of her mane in the story. I'd always vaguely pictured it as something brown. Earthy. But you know, I really like this color, too.
On the note of things I should have linked to a while ago, Jordan179 started up TVTropes entries for both Fragments and Without a Hive. Give them a read, if you don't mind losing much of your day trapped in the maze that is TVTropes!