"What are you doing?"
Tenerië finished pressing the metal leaf into the gesso before looking up to see who had invaded her workroom. The boy that stood hanging in the doorway couldn't have been more than seven or eight years old but his face was alight with curiosity.
"I'm fixing a book. You're not supposed to be down here, you know."
The child ignored the asperity of her tone and drifted across the short distance between the door and her scriptorium. "You can fix books?"
She sighed. Usually, when she used that particular tone of voice people went away. It was just her luck to have attracted some urchin who was immune to its effects. "Yes, I can fix books--and don't touch anything!" she snapped as he fetched up against the small table that held her supplies.
She watched his gaze move over the collection of items with fascination--knives, an awl, linen thread, pots of glue (both fish and rabbit hide), the little folder of various sheets of finely beaten metal leaf, scraps of parchment and that new-fangled paper that Anlir was raving about, and an oddly shaped piece of agate that she used for burnishing--then turn his gaze to the folio she was trying to restore.
If he appeared fascinated by the tools of her trade, he seemed positively hypnotised by the historiated initial she was repairing. He stared at the depiction of the Two Trees that filled the bows of the elegantly painted tengwa, frowning at the scratches marring the gleaming gold trunk of Laurelin and the gilded frame surrounding the whole, where a dull pink colour showed.
Tenerië glared at the boy once more then turned back to her work, reaching for a fine brush. Perhaps he'd go away if she ignored him. She expertly applied a thin film of size to the exposed gesso... at least the idiot who'd dropped the book had only knocked the gesso off the corner of the border which made dealing with these scratches much simpler. Barely had she lifted the brush from the page when her other hand had the thin leaf of gold in place. A minute or two's work with her agate burnisher and the edges of the new gold had seamlessly blended into the original metal.
It was only when she reached for the silk to give the gold a final polish that she realised her visitor was still there, a look of awe on his face.
"You fixed it," he whispered, his eyes not leaving the gold and mithril image. "Was it magic?"
Tenerië had intended to order him out of the workroom again but there was something about the way he looked and sounded that made her change her mind. "No, just a lot of practice. Would you like to learn to do it?"
The smile that greeted her when the boy looked up was dazzling in its joy. "You mean, you'll teach me? Oh, yes!"
Before she could say another word, another person invaded the workroom, this one a taller, older boy who was obviously closely related to her visitor.
"There you are, Faramir! I've been looking all over for you. Come along, Uncle Imrahil is almost to the Gates." He reached for his younger brother's hand and started to pull him from the room.
However, Faramir resisted long enough to smile at Tenerië once more and say, "I'll come back tomorrow after my other lessons. Thank you!" before disappearing down the corridor.
The ancient book temporarily forgotten, she stared after him, gaping. "Faramir? Oh, Valar, what have I gotten myself into?"