Exactly 500 words.

A snowy day in Imladris towards the end of the year 2933 Third Age.

Spiced Wine on a Snowy Day

The snow floated lazily to the ground, covering the landscape of Imladris in a white blanket. So still, so quiet, with only the soft shushing sound of the ice crystals landing one upon the other.

Erestor sat beneath a sheltering evergreen bough, his back against its rough trunk. He blinked and shook his head when a snowflake landed on his lashes. He smiled. He loved watching the snow on days such as this! Too often, he did not have time to escape his duties to enjoy it from even a window, let alone sitting bundled in a warm cloak.

Taking a sip from his fur-wrapped wineskin, he discovered the spiced wine was still warm, the spices reviving, and that was all that mattered as he sipped and watched the landscape succumb to the onslaught of winter.

The soft crunching of footsteps alerted him that someone had joined him. Not looking up, he simply downed another swallow and said, "Sit down, Glorfindel," and held up the wine.

Leather-covered fingers brushed his as the skin exchanged hands, and his friend joined him beneath the tree.

Glorfindel must have drunk, for he suddenly coughed and sputtered. "For the love of Mandos, Erestor! What is in that?"

Erestor grinned. "I am not quite sure what there is to love about Mandos, but I shall take your word for it. The wine contains: tangerine, hibiscus, cinnamon and some of my potpourri." He glanced over in time to see his golden-haired friend blanch. Then, the wineskin was pressed back into his hands as he chuckled and turned his eyes back to the falling snow.

They sat in silence for several minutes. "Where did you get tangerines?" Glorfindel asked. "They grow far from here, in the jungles near Umbar, I have heard."

"Elrond received several boxes from Círdan. I am not sure how the traders who visited Mithlond came by them, but they are quite delicious. Elrond presented me with a basket of them along with some oranges."

"Now those would make a nice mulled wine, my friend!" Erestor heard the excitement in the other's voice. Glorfindel was quite fond of mulled wine, provided it was sweet, rather than his own more spicy variety. "Orange, cinnamon, cloves, maybe some juniper…"

"We will have to make some," Erestor concurred. More silence followed, broken only by the sound of snow slipping off an evergreen branch. Erestor took another swallow of his wine, offering it again to Glorfindel who took it hesitantly and sipped, rather than gulped this time.

"I wonder how many more years we will be able to sit like this, before the darkness finds us and taints even this land?" Erestor spoke directly to the point and looked sadly at his companion.

"Not long, I fear," Glorfindel answered. But his eyes were drawn across the snowy meadow, along the path to the Last Homely House, where a young widow and her toddling son were still adjusting to life away from their people. "But there is still hope…"