Mirkwood's Blade - Chapter Seventeen - The Mirror of Galadriel

Novarwen stared at Galadriel in shock. "Me?" she managed to say. "But...why me? I'm not anybody special."

Galadriel only smiled. "I do not ask unworthy people to look into my Mirror," she replied. "As I told you before, have no fear about your worth." She raised her silver pitcher and poured a stream of crystal-clear water into the basin. Novarwen gulped and looked into the Mirror.

She gasped. Theryn stared out at her from the water. Quickly the images shifted, showing her the faces of Legolas, Thranduil, Aragorn, Frodo, Boromir, even Gimli...all the people she cared about. She felt Galadriel's eyes on her, but she couldn't look up, couldn't tear her eyes away from the Mirror.

It was changing again. She saw a tall black tower standing in the center of a wide circle of pits and wood towers. Immediately she knew what it was - Isengard, the tower of Curunir, or Saruman. Inside the tower, Curunir was speaking to a hideous creature. Novarwen thought at first it was an Orc, but it was so different. It was tall and frighteningly muscular, and it had long stringy black hair. It stood taller than Curunir himself, and it breathed in harsh rasps of breath. She was glad when the scene changed, but now thousands of those creatures were running over a forested hill, armed and weaponed. She heard the distant clash of sword on metal, and she wondered what fight was taking place, but the Mirror would not show her. It moved on, changing suddenly to Mirkwood, the forest she loved, but now it was restored to its old glory. It was sunny and green and beautiful, and Novarwen almost wept to think of its present condition. Then the peaceful forest changed into the dark, foreboding wilderness it was now, and she did cry.

The Mirror moved on, showing the plains of Rohan, the White City of Minas Tirith in Gondor, even the beautiful Rivendell, first as scenes of glory and beauty, then one by one tarnished and destroyed. Novarwen did not even realize she was crying as, one by one, she watched the lands of Middle-earth fade.

Then a face looked at her from the Mirror. It was her face.

Novarwen gasped. The face in the Mirror gasped, too. Then the scene changed to a familiar one - the darkness of Moria, when Gandalf could not remember the way. Novarwen watched, fascinated, as she lay down in Legolas' lap, closed her eyes, and fell asleep. She watched her own face grow agitated as the dream took hold. Tears came out of her closed eyes, and she woke up and hugged Legolas. Then, suddenly, the Mirror went blank, and Novarwen could step back from it and look at Galadriel.

The Lady of the Wood smiled at her. "Do not ask me what it meant, Novarwen. You will know in time. However, there is one thing you do not know that you should, and soon."

Novarwen gulped. "What is it?" she asked.

Galadriel met her eyes. "You are a seer. I do not know where you got this gift, but you have it. That is why you could see Mithrandir fall, and unless you take steps to guard him, your beloved will die as well."

Novarwen gasped, her eyes widening. "But what can I do? I'm going to Mordor, and he's all the way on the other side of Middle-earth!"

"Did I not just tell you that you were a seer?" Galadriel asked. "You will know what you must do, and when. And there is something else I must tell you about Theryn." She took a deep breath, let it out, and went on. "My Marchwarden, Haldir, fell in love once. Her name was Anirien, and she was one of my handmaidens. They were married for only fifty years before Anirien left Lothlorien to visit her kin in Mirkwood. A spider got her there.

"Haldir was furious and broken hearted. He left almost immediately to try and find her." Galadriel turned away, her voice choked with unshed tears. "He brought her body back to us, at least. She is buried beside that mallorn." Galadriel pointed to one of the taller trees.

"Haldir never recovered from losing her. He would not eat or sleep for days. He was so lost in grief that he did not even see the child Anirien had borne a few years before she left. I myself brought the boy to Haldir, but he looked at me and turned away. Celeborn and I decided it was best to take the child to King Thranduil of Mirkwood, as Anirien had had relatives there, and let him foster Haldir's son." Galadriel turned her sad blue eyes on Thranduil's daughter. "And that baby boy is the Elf you fell in love with."

Novarwen closed her eyes. Galadriel, her heart swelling with pity for the girl, reached out and pulled Novarwen into her arms, comforting her the way she had comforted her own daughter. Novarwen buried her face in Galadriel's white-gowned shoulder and cried quietly.

When the sobs were dying out, Galadriel gently pushed Novarwen at arm's length from her. "And now, Princess of Mirkwood, you have a choice to make."

"A choice?" Novarwen repeated shakily.

"Yes. I told you that you are a seer. To see properly, you must be trained, and I could train you. But if you agreed to that, then you would have to stop your journey with the others of the Fellowship and stay here in Lothlorien. Each choice has its merits and its sacrifices, but you must be the one to make that choice." Galadriel brushed a wisp of hair away from Novarwen's forehead. The Elf-girl looked so much like Celebrian that it was almost painful to look at her.

Novarwen shifted so she was sitting on the stone lip of the pool and closed her eyes. Unbidden, the image she had seen in the Mirror of her dream came back to her. Galadriel said I could be a seer, she thought. I could know what that dream meant. It wouldn't just have to scare me. I could be able to protect everyone from danger! I could...I could leave everyone behind. I could stay here wondering if they ever made it to Mordor and when Sauron's forces will destroy us all.

She looked at Galadriel, hoping it was the right decision. "I can't learn," she said quietly. "I have to go on with the Fellowship."

Galadriel smiled. "That is well, Princess of Mirkwood. And before you leave here, I have a few things I wish to say to you.

"Frodo looked into my Mirror before you came here. He offered me -" The Elf queen stopped, drew a deep breath, let it out, then continued. "He offered me the Ring." Galadriel dropped her head into her hands. "And I came close, Novarwen, so close to taking it and dooming us all! I could see only that simple gold band lying on his hand, so close, so close to me..." Galadriel closed her eyes. The years seemed to fall off her like a cloak as she opened them, once more peaceful. "But I was able to recall myself. You have done the same, at the Council of Elrond. I was able to refuse the Ring, and I will forever be glad of it. But Frodo suffered, not only from almost losing the Ring. He saw many things in the Mirror. I cannot tell you, but I saw them as well, and they must never come to be. I charge you therefore, on your honor as a Princess and a warrior, to watch over Frodo, to guard him with your life. He is the fulcrum on which our entire world turns." The Lady's blue eyes held Novarwen's. "Please, Novarwen."

"I will." Novarwen swallowed as she made the pledge.

"And the second matter..." Galadriel sighed. "You know now that Boromir of Gondor loves you."

Novarwen's eyes widened. "I do," she replied, trying to keep her voice steady.

"He has perhaps the hardest road of you all. He is the weakest in spirit of all of you, and the Ring knows that. The Ring is testing him, trying to see if, through Denethor's son, it can return to Sauron. Only a few things are keeping Boromir inside himself. One of those few things is, of course, his country. He loves Gondor more than he loves his own life. Another is his duty, another his family...and the last is you. He knows about Theryn, and that you love him, yet as you have known for four hundred years, love cannot be denied. He is hoping that somehow he can find a way that you will love him. Don't worry," Galadriel added, a hint of a smile on her face, "his intentions are quite honorable." In a lower voice she said, "He hopes to make you Queen of Gondor."

Novarwen sat back and almost fell into the shallow pool. "Queen of Gondor?" she sputtered in shock. "But...but I don't want to be queen! And isn't Aragorn going to be king? And -"

Galadriel held up a hand to hush Novarwen. "I am not asking you to love Boromir, to tell him you'll marry him, or to give him any encouragement. I am asking you to be kind to him. Now that you know his hope for his future, and what trials he suffers, I am asking you to understand and to accept it, and to be kind." Galadriel's hand dropped to Novarwen's, and she gave it a quick squeeze. Hoping the young princess could not hear, Galadriel murmured under her breath, "For his hopes will never come true." She, too, had looked into her Mirror, and had seen the fate of the Man of Gondor. There was a slim chance that Boromir could save himself, but it was very slim. Galadriel grieved, but in her mind, Boromir was already doomed.

"Lady?" Galadriel started. For a moment, she could have almost believed that Celebrian and not Novarwen spoke. "I will do as you ask," Novarwen went on behind her.

Galadriel turned to face her. "Good."

Novarwen wanted desperately to ask Galadriel something, but she was sure it would be completely tactless. She wrestled with her mind, and suddenly the words came pouring out of her mouth while her conscience was still calling her mind a stupid fool. "Lady, I didn't know my mother very well, since she died two hundred years after I was born, and I was wondering...would...could you consider adopting me?"

Galadriel stared, then smiled. Had Novarwen known that she herself had been wondering the same thing? "I have already," she replied, "and I believe I would like very much to." She took Novarwen's hand, and the princess reached out tentatively and hugged her. Galadriel squeezed back tears of memory. It had been such a long time since she had held a daughter in her arms that it almost hurt to hold Novarwen.

The princess moved away. "I should go back," she said, half-smiling.

Galadriel nodded. "Good night," she called after her. Novarwen turned around to smile at Galadriel before going up the stairs, walking back to her cloak, and falling asleep the moment her head touched the ground.

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