"Brave Beren killed the wicked monster, Carcharoth. They all lived happily ever afterwards,” Aragorn told his son.
“Truly?” asked Eldarion. “There were no more monsters in the kingdom?”
“Not one,” Aragorn said firmly. “It is time to sleep now, ion nîn. I will tell you another story tomorrow.” He bent and tucked the covers around the little boy.
“Where is Smaug?” Eldarion asked sleepily.
Aragorn glanced around the room. He could see no sign of Eldarion’s favourite toy. “Is he not in bed with you?” the King asked, feeling under the covers. There was only a wriggling small boy there. Aragorn sighed. Doubtless, the toy was on the floor under the bed. Dropping on his hands and knees, he prepared to investigate. He found a ball, some marbles, and a half eaten cake, not to mention a great deal of dust. Of Smaug there was no sign.
Sneezing, Aragorn got to his feet, determining to have a stern word with the maid who was supposed to clean Eldarion’s room each morning. “Smaug is not there,” he told his son. “You will have to sleep with another toy tonight. What about Shadowfax?” The King picked up Eldarion’s toy horse from a shelf as he spoke.
“I don’t want Shadowfax! I want Smaug!” Eldarion’s lower lip began to tremble.
“Don’t cry, ion nîn, ada will find him for you,” Aragorn said reassuringly, repressing an inner groan. Arwen was attending an important meeting of the Weavers Guild and he had blithely assured her that he could settle Eldarion to sleep before she returned. “Your nanny will sit with you for a while I find your toy,” Aragorn told his son after vainly searching the rest of the room.
After checking with the woman that she had not seen the toy, Aragorn went in search of his friend and Steward. Faramir was good at solving problems and would surely know what to do. The Steward was fortunately in the Citadel to attend a Council Meeting upon the morrow.
“I wondered if you might know, since you grew up in the City, which craftsman made Smaug?” Aragorn asked after telling his friend his dilemma. “I thought we could tell the man we urgently required another dragon.”
“Have you forgotten, mellon nîn, that the toy was a birthday gift for Eldarion from King Thranduil?” said Faramir.
Aragorn buried his face in his hands. He could hardly send a messenger to Eryn Lasgalen to return with a new toy that night.
“A toy dragon cannot have flown too far,” Faramir said hopefully. ”We will just have to hunt for it in all the places where Eldarion has been this day. The guards and servants can assist us.”
Soon Aragorn’s apartments were in an uproar as every cushion was moved, every chair looked under, and every cupboard turned out. The cook even looked in the ovens, while the Master of Hounds searched the kennels. High and low they searched, but there was no sign of Smaug.
“Whatever is going on?” Arwen answered, entering with two of her ladies.
“Eldarion has lost his favourite toy, vanimelda, and cannot go to sleep without it!” Aragorn explained. “We have hunted everywhere in vain!”
“Have you tried the Great Hall?” asked Arwen.
“Eldarion does not go in there!” Aragorn protested.
“Don’t you remember anything?” chided the Queen. “I brought him in to see you in your crown and robes this morning after you had judged the prisoners.”
“Of course!” said Aragorn. ”I have had such a busy day that this morning's judgments seemed to have passed a long time ago!”
King, Queen and Steward made their way to the Great Hall. There on the throne, grinning at them with finely carved jaws, sat Smaug.
Aragorn grabbed the toy and bore it in triumph to his son’s bedchamber only to find the child sleeping peacefully with his chubby fingers clasped around Shadowfax.
“I gave Master Eldarion his toy horse and told him to go to sleep,” said the nanny in reply to Aragorn’s query. “Good as gold, he was!”
King and Queen exchanged a rueful glance before placing Smaug on the bed and tiptoeing from the room.
“Eldarion was fast asleep clutching his toy horse!” Aragorn informed Faramir who was waiting outside. “Thank you for helping me search for Smaug.”
“I know how much a favourite toy means to a child,” said Faramir. “ I truly loved my wooden horse and a brightly covered picture book when I was Eldarion’s age.”
“I had a set of carved Elven warriors that I would play with until the colours wore away,” said Aragorn. “And then there was my favourite wooden sword....”
“Come and join us for dinner, Faramir,” said Arwen. “You can both tell me more about your favourite toys while we eat.”
“An excellent suggestion,” smiled Aragorn and after we have eaten I must show you the latest books I have acquired for the royal library."
Faramir’s eyes lit up with childlike joy.
Arwen suppressed a smile. It seemed that little boys never truly grew up.