Coranar 6. The Perfect Day by The Tired Scribe

Elrond rose from his chair and set the empty plate on the desk, and carefully placed the favorite wine glass next to it. He blew out a few candles and headed slowly up the stairs. 'A whole day of doing nothing was very tiring," he thought. He brushed a strand of hair back from his face and sat down in a chair upstairs to remove his boots. He unlaced them and slid them off with a sigh. He sat back in the chair and looked around the bedchamber. A small fire flickered up here as well and candles gave the space a warm glow.

"Lindefal," he said, "We need to look for those manuscripts we copied from the ones at the library at the Grey Havens a few years ago, the ones on red parchment with silver ink. I think they are in the tall cabinet by the south window, they are the ones tied with blue ribbon. Melindir is seeking the earliest version of a tale I remember we copied onto the red parchment."

The image of the long halls at the Grey Havens Library, lined with high writing desks, crept into his mind. It had been remarkably unchanged from the days of his youth the last time he was there to study. He remembered days and nights spent there as he caught up his education, or prepared information for the High King's use. He would sit hunched over the tall desks in silent concentration for hours as his hand moved smoothly along drawn lines on parchment. One particular night he squinted at the page to be copied in deep concentration. He studied the exquisite miniature illustration that flashed in the candle light with flecks of gold among the rich colors. He had been so engrossed he had not heard Gil-galad approach in the still darkness, and the High King had moved silently behind him, and watched him work for some time.

As he reached out to touch the shoulders hunched over their labor, he startled the scribe, and the pen jumped a bit on the page, spoiling the perfection of the copy with a splatter. Elrond cried out a hearty curse and sat up in tired dismay, placing the pen in its holder and surveying the damage. He would never scrape the ink off the page and start again; he would start with a fresh page tomorrow. Gil-galad's brawny arms encircled him in a bear hug. "You spend too much time here with the books and not enough with me anymore," he growled. He buried his face in the knot of braids wound low on Elrond's neck.

The subtle scent of the mosses that grew along the shore was present in the strands. Elrond had shown great skill in the preparation of distilled scents, but rarely used them himself, and then only in the soaps and shampoos he made that were so popular among others at Court. This made him quite different from others; especially the ones who sought to create a signature with their scent.

Unpleasant memories for Elrond were tied to some of those heavy scents favored by the jaded courtiers. His affections were sought by others there, with close conversations, or feigned appointments to entice him to a solitary place. His favor with the King made him a target for those wishing to further their own interests. Some of them reeked so that one could smell them coming long before they arrived. They left the heavy scent in the rooms after they left as a haunting memory as well.

Elrond had always smelled of the sun and the sea and of clear and simple things, not complex layers of deep and heavy scents. It made him unique and different among the courtiers, as if he needed anything else to keep him in the King's heart. Gil-galad had crushed him into another embrace and kissed his neck, "Come to bed now," he begged, "It is late and I have missed you today." Elrond shivered as he felt those arms around him now in his bedchamber, he focused on the manuscripts he had in mind now. 'I am sure we put them in that cupboard now."

Lindefal looked over his shoulder and nodded. Leave it to Elrond to know exactly where some obscure item was stored, after all, it was his library and his knowledge of the many items stored there was amazing. In fact he had copied many of the manuscripts found there himself over the centuries, and his smooth and flowing script, and beautiful spacing and expression, was easily recognizable.

Lindefal busied himself adjusting the steaming water to a tolerable temperature, and he added a subtle green scent. It had been diluted many times. He was always after Elrond to pursue an elegant pleasing of the senses, both for himself and to please others. He now restrained himself when adding scent to things, to make them manageable to Elrond's sensitive nose. As a healer Elrond preferred to keep his senses sharp and clear, they were important for blending medicines and identifying plants. A sneezing fit one morning had caused the robes cupboard to be emptied out onto the floor in a rare fit of temper. The cupboard had to be aired for days after Lindefal's heavy-handed application of fragrance among the garments had unexpectedly annoyed Elrond beyond endurance.

Elrond had stood in the midst of the tangled robes on the floor and made a remark about the heavy scent reminding him of the smothering fops at Gil-galad's Court. He had left the chamber in a huff after that, and was stormy in temper for days afterwards. Lindefal made certain that the garments were laundered and hung to air immediately. That particular fragrance was never again used anyplace in the Great House. Gil-galad's ghost was present often enough in the night without other reminders to call him forth.

Lindefal wondered what memory of unpleasant events in the distant past had been prompted by that fragrance to cause such a reaction so long afterwards. He was very careful with fragrances now. Cirgalad had given him good advice on flavors and types of scent to use, but shared no insights on the fit of temper. His wise eyes knew the story, but his lips did not reveal it.

Elrond pulled his loose tunic over his head. Rising, he unlaced the soft and worn leggings and stepped out of them. "I want to see these washed and returned to their drawer Lindefal, don't even think of scrapping them." "Whatever, but they are just rags now. I don't know how they stay together," replied his aide, "they are just not decent to wear." Elrond walked to the basin and stepped in. Lindefal had managed to get the water just right, and the scent was very faint, and pleasing.

Elrond sat in the warm water, reached back and untied the knot of hair. An old sailor's trick to keep it out of his face, it was the style he favored on his days off. It was simple, effective and it annoyed Lindefal no end. Cirdan had tied it up like that one day for him, and Gil-galad had laughed at the simple solution applied to Elrond's thick dark hair as it had whipped in the sea wind.

It was the perfect hairstyle still for those rebellious days away from responsibility. Lindefal did not know he had retied it after swimming, and again in the meadows. The silken strands worked themselves loose from any restraints as the day progressed. It was as if they desired to wave and stir in the breeze, and to tangle around his face and neck in waving coils. He had kept it tightly braided and knotted at his neck at Court at the Grey Havens when he was young to prevent having to deal with it during the day. Certain lovers there had enjoyed the slow untangling of the braids in bed, and taking it down in the candle light at night had been that much more tantalizing to Gil-galad as they spent quiet time in his great study over-looking the harbor. Elrond's hair fascinated everyone but himself.

He sat back in the water and laid his head down on the cloth along the edge of the basin. Lindefal smeared an ample slather of cream across both of Elrond's cheeks and said, "Here, rub that into the sunburn while your skin is damp, there is more when you get out. Galenbrethil sent it up for you." Lindefal ran a damp cloth over the dark hair to remove the dust and then combed though it with the delicate silver comb. The engravings flashed in the candlelight as it moved through the strands, which were for the most part smooth and untangled, despite his complaint earlier. He'd never admit that a sailor's knot in that long dark hair was acceptable, or useful.

As he smoothed the creamy lotion over his sun and wind burned cheeks Elrond's mind drifted back over his perfect day. After a lazy morning spent idling along the riverbanks, he had wound his way to the deep spring pool where swimming was a favorite pastime for many in the community. It was too cool for swimming now autumn was fading into winter, and no one was around the banks at this time of the morning. He stripped down and dove in, sputtering at the shock of the cold water as he splashed upwards again. He struck out with long smooth strokes in the clear water, and swam lap after lap, enjoying the bracing cold as it flowed around him. He waved at the circuit guards riding by on the path above the pool and made another lap. His location had been noted and they moved on.

He climbed out to catch his breath and untied his satchel to dry himself off with. He pulled on his leggings and laid in the grass to enjoy the midday sun, it was warm today for the season. He bit into one of the apples he had brought along, it was crisp and the juice ran down his chin. He thought back to days spent swimming in the ocean at the Grey Havens, and he missed the plaintive call of the sea birds now. The rush and slide of the waves across the pebbly beach there was different than the bubbling and splashing of the river through the settlement here, but the presence of any moving water soothed the Elven soul and tied them closely to nature.

Swimming in the cool, clear spring water was very different indeed to rising and falling along the salty sea waves, but that was where he swam then, and this was where he swam now. He had chosen his own path; he had left that life behind him. He untied his hair and leaned his face back into the sun. He banished the images of the beach, the quayside and the buildings along the sea. Imladris was his home now.

After he had warmed up in the sun he dressed and retied his hair into the simple knot and climbed the stairs to the greenhouses stacked along the cliff sides of the lower valley. It was quiet and the classes were still dismissed for the midday meal. No one was in the long alleyways between the tables of fragrant flowers, herbs and medicinal plants. He strolled through a drying room under bunches and clusters of plants and stems hanging from rods along the ceiling, and noted trays of drying leaves and stems without disturbing them. Neatly lettered notes marked each group, and he mentally reviewed the many uses for the materials. Galenbrethil looked at him curiously from an adjoining aisle, and he smiled and gave her a little wave, and kept moving along, observing the medicinal plants on the trays. The variety was amazing.

She watched him for some time and decided if he needed anything he would ask. The touch of sun on his normally pale cheeks gave him a spark of warmth and youthfulness in appearance. He looked calm and relaxed. She made a mental note to send a cream along to ease the burn. She had not been to the Great House lately, as she was tied to her work in the greenhouses. She had even missed the communal meals this week as well.

As she observed the play of sunlight through the windows and across his hair and face she realized she had missed his company lately. She determined to make time in her schedule for dinner tonight and to find him on the lawns later. She returned to her work without a word. One of the reasons he liked her so well was this independent streak she had, and her respect for his personal space. The spirits above knew he had intruded inside hers more than once, and none to gently either.

He moved outside and sat at the hot springs with his feet in the rippling water. He watched the bubbles as the flow from the hottest pool dripped downwards and swirled around his feet. Galenbrethil and Cirgalad paused as they passed through the pool's courtyard on their way to class, they exchanged a look and he smiled. He had been alerted to the change in the routine of the house already.

In fact he had advised Elrond to spend more time in reflection and relaxation at every opportunity he got. He was amazed to see his advice taken today. Shaking his head he passed along the courtyard and into the greenhouse before him. Today they were discussing poisons and antidotes; he did not want to be late. Galenbrethil looked back over her shoulder as she passed through the doorway, things seemed to be all right as far as she could tell from observation. She wondered at the change in routine.

Pulling on his boots again Elrond descended the stairs past the flourmill, stopping to watch the giant wheel turning lazily around in the rippling bubble of the millstream in its channel. He liked this old building with its simple stone construction and towering eaves; he gave a wave to the miller and the Household Guards standing in the loft's opening and headed down to the pastures. The wind stirred the long grasses and they waved and flowed in the wind, rippling and flashing the mellow hues of autumn. Here and there gray and white horses grazed in the rich grasses.

He took off his jacket and untied his hair, and climbed up on the fence. He sat there with the wind in his hair and on his face, hearing the dry rattle and swish of the grasses as they brushed against each other. Holding out his arms he moved them in the strong wind blowing across the flat meadows just to feel the pressure and slide of it along his skin as it plucked at his clothes. The dark strands of hair whipped around his face and curled around his throat. The guards up on the hill could imagine what they wanted to, he did not care. At least he was not on the roof today seeking to be one with nature.

It always worried them to find him on the rooftop. He had laughed the first day they came to get him to call Arwen down from a perch on high, she had found the study roof to be the best place for watching the sun rise. Instead he had climbed up to join her. They had often sat in high places together and enjoyed the view and wind in their faces. Findalor finally had had benches built for them there. Elrond missed his dark haired daughter and wished she was at Rivendell for a change. She was torn between two homes, and he let her chose her schedule as she pleased. He imagined she would return before long. When she was in residence in the Great House the twins stayed around more, and adding sunny Legolas to the mix caused a youthful exuberance to descend upon the Great House and its residents. Elrond hoped they would all gather for winter festivities soon.

He let the elements wash over him now, the sunlight, the wind and the sounds of nature. He had always been able to find a mental release in isolation with the elements. He felt they could cleanse him of worldly cares and of the woes in this life. They could scour him clean as they burned his cheeks and dried his skin, and the wind could air out his soul, sweeping away the dark memories and haunting voices that lurked always at the edge of consciousness. Even though he embraced the Elven love of evening's coolness and the starry nights, he had a fondness for the sun on his face as well. He had learned this at sea with Gil-galad and Cirdan, and he relished his time alone in nature here in Rivendell as well.

Leaving further memories of his past life on the blue rolling sea behind him he headed out across the swelling sea of swirling grasses and walked to the far ends of the meadows. The sun was sinking slowly and he wanted to relish this last part of his day. His favorite horse had seen him and was ambling over through the high grasses. Together they walked side by side along the worn path to the stream that ran through the pastures. The bells for the evening meal rang out.
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