Elrond had been in an odd mood that morning as Lindefal had arrived in the bedchamber at dawn, he was already awake and standing at the broad windows humming to himself. As Lindefal laid out his clothing and started to review the day's activities, Elrond said, "I am not meeting with anyone all day. Today I am resting my ears from the sound of voices." He rejected the flowing house robes in Lindefal's hands in favor of soft high boots, his favorite old leggings and a short loose tunic. Lindefal took pride in Elrond's appearance as an extension of his responsibilities as the Aide to the Master of the House, and Elrond was rarely allowed to suit himself when dressing. The faded, soft, patched and worn leggings he favored had been rescued from the ragbag more than once.
Lindefal grimaced as he watched Elrond smooth back his hair and wind it around in a simple knot at his neck, pulling the ends through to secure it within itself. This was an old habit that popped back up now and then, despite Lindefal's best efforts to care for the thick black hair and dress it in a fashion befitting the Master of the House of Rivendell.
Pleased with himself and his attire, Elrond grabbed a soft bath cloth and filled it with apples from the large bowl on his desk, tying the ends together and making a satchel. With this in hand he picked up his quilted jacket and his riding gloves and headed towards the stairs to the study. "You can't find me today," he said as he descended the curving stairway with a light step.
Nodding silently his aide had bowed and extended an arm to the stairs as he passed, accepting the change to the day's schedule gracefully. As Master of Rivendell, Elrond was generally available to any one; he met with the Inner Council on a regular schedule and held court frequently for minor disputes and other household problems. He moved among the residents with ease and performed his rotation of household chores when he could. Lindefal thought he could manage to arrange a rare day off for him today.
Elrond was humming again, and Lindefal could not place the tune that drifted back to him. Old sea shanties were not part of his personal history, whereas Elrond had spent hours at sea when he lived at the Grey Havens, and had enjoyed the company of sailors as he worked the riggings and charted the coastlines. This old cheerful song came unbidden to his mind and was hummed unconsciously.
Of course today there was a long list of things to be done and people to meet, and guests arriving later, but things would resolve themselves. Lindefal decided not to make a fuss about the change this morning for some reason. He stood on the landing outside the study and watched the tall figure descend the stairs. Elrond passed through the courtyard below and beneath the arched stone gateway, and across the lawn to the river gardens.
Erestor was sweeping along the outer corridor on a different level with an armload of linens and handful of documents. He was discussing the arrival of the guests later in the day with his aides, and dinner plans as well, and he wished to catch Elrond before he became enmeshed in whatever Lindefal had planned for him that morning. He happened to look out over the railing as they came around the corner and he froze in his tracks. He handed the linens to one aide and the pages to another as he leaned out for a better view. Squinting in the misty morning light, he saw Elrond in casual clothes strolling along the well-worn path upriver, with something slung over his shoulder. He gritted his teeth, rolled his eyes and growled in frustration. It was going to be one of those days today.
He watched as Elrond turned aside to a small pocket garden near a spillway and sat down on the bench there. The tumbling falls filled the air with mist and rainbows in the morning sun. Elrond carefully stretched his long legs out before him, laid his arms along the bench and slowly leaned his head back. These actions were so deliberate and relaxed that Erestor guessed his business would have to wait until later. Much later. He turned, assigned his aides new tasks and headed towards the kitchens. His own plans for the day were now juggling in his mind after this change in their regular schedule. He'd have to proceed without consultation then and make all the arrangements as he normally did, with his own impeccable taste and elegant style. "What would they do without me?" he thought as he hurried down the stairs.
Findalor and the evening shift of Border Guards were riding home along the lower cliffside path in the mist, that path now made safe since the crumbling upper areas had been secured with plantings and retaining walls. They were visiting among themselves and ready for breakfast when they noticed the still figure seated sunning in the garden across the rippling water. Findalor just nodded to himself as they passed, noting mentally that a change to the routine was going to occur today.
He would advise the Household Guards to be watchful. Now and then the daily schedule was adjusted without plan, and his Household Guards kept a discrete eye out for the wandering Master of the House, in case he was needed for an emergency, or had an emergency of his own. He wondered if Elrond enjoyed himself thinking he was free from his responsibilities and on his own for a while. Elrond, on the other hand, enjoyed these times specifically because he knew that his movements were noted and hidden eyes watched over him. He had given up long, long ago trying to have any secrets from Findalor.
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