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“Ada! Ada! I gotta present!”

Looking up from reams of reports, Aragorn can just see his small son's excited face peeking over the top of the huge oak desk.

“Have you now? From whom?”

“From da Har – Hari...”

“The Haradri ambassador, Prince Telkhanar”, Arwen supplies from the doorway. “He knew that Eldarion turns three next week, and as his embassage must depart tomorrow, most graciously presented a gift in advance.”

“Gracious indeed.” The King of Arnor and Gondor gravely surveys his heir. “And what is your present, my son?”

Eldarion is beaming from ear to ear.

“It a offerlaunt!”

Elessar feels the blood draining from his face. Where, in Eärendil's name, is he supposed to billet an oliphaunt? It surely can't be kept in the City, the beast will need forage – can he send it out to Faramir at Emyn Arnen? No, Éowyn would kill him, it would terrify her horses – oh, White Tree, and we daren't refuse it; matters are at such a delicate stage with Harad; blast Telkhanar, are they actually trying to sabotage the negotiations?...

Look, Ada!” Through his feverish speculations he realises Eldarion is insistently holding something up for inspection. “Offerlaunt!”

The mûmak is beautifully carved of lebethron wood, tiny emeralds for eyes, a jewelled palanquin upon its back; Eldarion proudly demonstrates its jointed limbs and trunk. Aragorn feels weak with relief.

“ That is... a most appropriate gift, Elda'.” He glances at his Queen and knows, from the faint twitching in the corners of her mouth, that she has caught him in his error. “Perhaps Nana could help you compose a suitable note of thanks to Harad.” He lets out a long breath. “I am certainly very grateful indeed.”


With thanks to Greylin for the post-hoc beta, and Happy Birthday, Altariel!


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