Erestor came around into his field of vision; well it would have been if he had had his eyes open, and stood with hands on hips. "Where were you at dinner? You know we have guests in from Caras Galadhon, and I was stuck with them all evening!" Elrond kept his eyes closed and held the wine glass where he could sniff its aroma. Lindefal said, "Well, you said you would be out today, you did not say you would miss dinner too. I had them in the library all day long and they can't find what they wanted. It's a wreck in there now." Elrond opened his eyes and very deliberately picked up his fork and stabbed a bite that looked very juicy indeed. He placed it in his mouth and chewed thoughtfully, ignoring everyone. His cooks had outdone themselves again, probably for these guests he had forgotten about. He took another bite as Erestor simmered before him.
"Are you going to stand there the entire time while I eat my dinner, or do you think you might sit down and give me a moment's peace?" Elrond asked calmly. Erestor just stood there not moving, heedless of the sarcasm. Lindefal pulled another chair around and sat nearby, taking a bite of bread roll and dipping it in the sauce on Elrond's plate. "I thought they did a very good job with this tonight, " he said as he popped the bite into his mouth. Elrond's hand paused and the fork hung in the air above his meal. A bent eye from Elrond slowed Lindefal's second dab at the plate, but he continued and savored that bite as well. "So, how was the day off?" came Findalor's voice down the stairs.
"Well, this is cozy," he said as he came down the curving stairs from the bedchamber and joined the group. "I thought you'd be with the guests from Lorien now," he continued. "It's a larger group than last time. They don't think they are happy in the guest wing." He pulled up another chair and sat next to Lindefal, taking the roll from his hands and dabbing it in the sauce also. Elrond moved his wine glass close to his chest in protection from the meal's marauders.
While Lindefal and Erestor had come by to catch the Master of the House up on business, Findalor had come to judge whether the day off had benefited Elrond or signaled deeper problems to come. He was relieved to see the calm demeanor and clear eyes before him. He was no stranger to haunted memories and unsettled nights spent with the quiet figure seated in front of him. Nights spent in those arms in pleasure were nearly equaled by nights spent embraced in pain. It was the nature of their relationship.
Centuries of close association, working together, playing together, emergencies, battlefield trauma and casual intimacy made this group right at home with each other. Elrond had their undying devotion in all things, had their support and obeisance at ceremonial affairs, and they were informative and helpful in the course of the day's business. But here in the privacy of the study, Elrond was just one of the guys, and he recognized this now, when one of the guys was not who he wanted to be at the end of his perfect day. Erestor finally got tired of posturing and pulled another chair around to the fire, and there they all sat.
Elrond chanced another bite. It was delicious. "I don't suppose I could ask you all to come back tomorrow could I?" he asked hopefully. Negative nods met this question. "I don't suppose I could order you all to come back tomorrow, could I?' More nods with raised eyebrows this time. "Well, It was worth a shot," he said and took another bite. "This would taste so much better without you here to bother me," he said through a mouthful. He poured more wine. No one moved. They watched him eat.
"I hope you are planning to bathe tonight before going to bed," Lindefal remarked with a sniff, "Your bed linens are clean and it looks like you brought back half the fields with you. And look at your hair, it's a mess." Elrond shrugged, and chewed another bite. Lindefal could not help but scold, but he secretly wondered how that knot of hair had stayed exactly as he had tied it that morning. With a smudge of dirt still on his cheek, he thought Elrond looked like a sunburned and errant child who had played in the dirt all day long. Maybe a day spent playing was good for him, but he would not let him get away with going to bed dirty-those oversized linens were a pain to wash and to dress the bed with. Enough other things happened there anyway, he could at least start the night out clean.
"I'll go get the bath ready then," he said as he headed up the stairs. Elrond had given up preferring showers years ago; Lindefal could fuss over him so much better in the carved wooden basin anyway. It made him so happy to do so that Elrond had not only given up on efficiency of the shower, he had actually grown to relish a nice soak at the end of the day. He looked across at Erestor who was lost in thought.
"So, did we make them happy in the guest wing then?" he asked through another bite. "Yes, they all got their own rooms and their own pages and stewards and anything else they asked for, just to please them. You know Melindir is very fussy and demanding when he is here. You are too accommodating to him." Elrond nodded, thinking that if anyone could make the priggish group happy, Erestor could. "Well," he said, "he is the counselor to Celeborn, and he is a renowned scholar, so we should be honored to have him study in the library at Imladris," he said with a wry smile. "Did Glorfindal come home with them?" Erestor nodded, "Yes, he was glad to see our rooftops he said, after months of living in the trees. We have missed his wit at mealtimes I can say for certain." "And his sharp eyes along the borders, " added Findalor. Taking his final bite Elrond chewed slowly and thought a bit. Speaking to himself he muttered, "I think I know the manuscripts they need to see tomorrow, I will have to think where we put them however. They were very old and fragile," he frowned in deep thought.
Looking aside at Findalor, as he was studied in return, he smiled and asked, "And how are the borders then, all secure?" Nodding, Findalor replied "Quiet and calm as can be. Our guests have been the only traffic for days. The river is up a bit from the rains on the plateau, but not enough to worry about." Elrond nodded, "And the Household and the guests, all secure?" Findalor nodded. Having noticed the close looks he had gotten from Findalor, Elrond could not resist asking, "And the Master of the House, well and secure also?" Findalor smiled, laughed, and said, "Well and secure it seems." He laid a hand on Elrond's shoulder and gave it a squeeze as he rose to go. Elrond both tolerated and appreciated the close watch his circle kept upon him. He was here today because of them. Elrond polished off his wine as Lindefal beckoned him upstairs to bathe. Erestor joined Findalor as he headed out the study door.
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