“Master Eldarion cannot sleep,” his nanny informed the King and Queen who were just about to retire to their own bed.
“I will go to him,” said Aragorn. ”My duties have, alas, kept me from spending much time with him today.”
”I shall retire to bed then,” said the Queen.
Aragorn followed the nanny to Eldarion’s nursery where a very wide-awake little boy was sitting upright in bed clasping his toy dragon, Smaug.
“What is wrong, ion nín?” enquired Aragorn after dismissing the nanny to wait in the next room.
Eldarion regarded his toy thoughtfully. “I’ve been learning about dragons in my lessons today,” the child said thoughtfully. “My tutor said that dragons were all nasty and cruel, and that Smaug liked eating people!”
“That was only the real Smaug,” Aragorn explained. “Your Smaug is a very friendly dragon.”
“Are there no real friendly dragons?” Eldarion persisted.
“I think not, ion nîn, for the great Fire Drakes were creatures of Sauron and therefore evil.”
Eldarion looked as if he were about to cry. ”Poor Smaug will be so lonely if there are no friendly dragons for him to play with!”
“All toy dragons are friendly,” Aragorn said soothingly. “I will see if I can find you another wooden one to play with.”
“Smaug is real! He plays with me,” Eldarion insisted.
Aragorn stifled a yawn. He had no desire to spend all night discussing whether or not Smaug was alive with his son, neither would he lie to the boy. The child had a vivid imagination and to him, his toy was as real as Nimrodel, his puppy. The King well remembered when he was a boy, and had believed that his wooden horse was alive and talked to him. “Well we do not know about what manner of creatures dwell in Elvenhome far beyond the Sundering Seas. Maybe there are friendly dragons there,” he suggested, in order to placate the little boy.
“Tell me a story about them, ada!” Eldarion pleaded.
“It is late, and time you were asleep,” Aragorn demurred.
“Very well, just a short one,” Aragorn agreed. Since Eldarion’s sister had been born there were times when the little boy needed extra love and attention from his parents. Aragorn preferred to tell his son stories about Middle-earth’s great heroes, but tonight he would humour him with a fairy tale. “Once upon a time, far away in Elvenhome, there lived two dragons. One was as crimson as flame, while the other was as white as snow.”
“What were their names?” demanded Eldarion.
“You guess!” said the King.
“Was the crimson one was called Andúril and the white one Snowfire?” suggested Eldarion.
“Those were indeed their names,” smiled Aragorn, delighted that he would not have to think of any at this time of night.
“ The two dragons lived in caves far away from each other and they were both very lonely,” Aragorn continued. “Andúril was a magic dragon who could cast all manner of spells.”
“What sort of spells?”
“He could make fireworks like Gandalf and he could make the flowers change colour, or even turn them into butterflies so that they would fly away!”
Eldarion laughed delightedly.
“Snowfire was a healer,” Aragorn continued. ”She knew the uses of every herb and her very breath could cure very wound!”
“She sounds like you, ada,” Eldarion snuggled against his father’s broad shoulder.
“One day Andúril was showing off his magic tricks to a group of Elven children. How they marvelled at his arts!. He made a splendid firework for them, which exploded in a shower of golden sparks .One young, Elf, though, a boy called Dirlin moved to close to the firework and it burned his face and blinded him. He cried loudly for help.”
“What did he do since you weren’t there to make him better?” Eldarion enquired anxiously.
“You forget that better healers than I, dwelt in Elvenhome,” said Aragorn. “Snowfire happened to be flying near by, hunting for healing herbs. When she heard Dirlin’s cries for help, she flew at once to his aid and breathed on his burned face after chewing some athelas. At once he was healed and able to play with his friends again.”
“I’m glad,” Eldarion started to sound sleepy and snuggled more closely against his father.
“The Elven children quickly ran off home as they knew their parents would be angry if they stayed out too late. The two dragons were left alone.” Aragorn took a deep breath. He was certain this part of the story would send his young son to sleep. “Andúril thought Snowfire the most beautiful dragon he had ever seen, while Snowfire thought Andúril the most handsome! They fell in love, and the very next day they were married. They had many children and lived happily ever afterwards and were never again lonely.”
Aragorn’s voice dropped to a whisper. He looked fondly at Eldarion who was now asleep in his arms. The King lingered a while, lovingly studying every feature of his son’s face. Sometimes after so many years of waiting he could hardly believe that he truly posessed all he had dreamed of at last. He had been just as lonely as the dragons he had imagined for Eldarion.
Aragorn gently lowered Eldarion down upon the bed and tucked the covers around him. Planting a kiss lightly upon the boy’s brow, he tiptoed from the room and went to join Arwen and his baby daughter. Sometimes fairy stories did come true.