Author’s Note: I’m pretty sure there are no adoption ceremonies in Tolkien’s books, but if my little made-up ceremony offends anyone, I’m sorry!
Novarwen pulled a long white dress on, feeling awkward. It was the first time she had worn a dress since she left Mirkwood, and it didn’t feel quite right. The few times she had worn a dress, it had been in the muted greens and browns of Mirkwood, and not in the very feminine and floaty white dresses that Galadriel and her ladies wore. Novarwen resisted the urge to strap her long knife under the dress, to have something familiar with her, and let the young Elf-girl who was there to help her get ready do something with her hair. When the girl proclaimed her finished, Novarwen quickly left the room without looking in the mirror at herself.
Haldir was waiting outside the flet to escort Novarwen to the hill of Cerin Amroth for the adoption ceremony. Now that she knew he was Theryn’s father, Novarwen could see faint echoes of her beloved in the Marchwarden’s face. She hid her smile and, feeling like an imposter who was only pretending to be a lady, gave Haldir her hand and let him lead her down from the mallorn and through the Golden Wood. To Novarwen’s embarrassment, Legolas and Boromir both saw her coming down from the mallorn. The look on her brother’s face was one of amazement and pride, but Boromir, although she could see he tried to hide it, could not suppress his wide-eyed admiration. Novarwen blushed and tried to ignore it.
Galadriel refused to pace, to show everyone there how nervous she was. Coming back to this hill, waiting again for the entrance of a beautiful golden-haired Elf clad in white…she hoped the memories of Celebrian’s wedding would not cloud over the joy of the adoption. Novarwen deserved better than a mother who could not look at her without thinking of the daughter who had gone before.
Celeborn, standing beside his wife, half-smiled sadly. He knew instinctively what she had been thinking of, and he was not at all surprised that he had been thinking of the same thing. When he had seen the Princess of Mirkwood, the first thought that had come to his mind was how much she looked like Celebrian. He reached out and took Galadriel’s hand, holding it gently. The Lady of the Wood looked up at him, startled, then smiled gratefully.
“My lord, my lady,” said an Elf near them. “I believe Princess Novarwen and Lord Haldir are approaching.”
Galadriel straightened, looking ahead carefully. The Elf was right; she could see Haldir and a white-gowned figure in the distance, drawing closer. She swallowed. “They may come,” she whispered.
Haldir entered the clearing and brought Novarwen to Galadriel. The Elven queen swallowed again as she took Novarwen’s hand and led her onto Cerin Amroth. She wondered if Novarwen was as nervous as she was.
Novarwen looked carefully at Galadriel. She could tell, with her battle-trained senses, that the Lady of the Wood was nervous. Novarwen felt even stranger, knowing that the Elf who was going to adopt her was as worried about it as she herself was. She waited, her eyes cast down. It was for the elder to speak first.
Galadriel took a deep breath. This is when it begins. “I, Galadriel, daughter of Finarfin, wife of Celeborn, mother of Celebrian, and grandmother of Arwen Undomiel, take you, Novarwen, as my adopted daughter.”
Novarwen closed her eyes for a moment before giving the reply. “I, Novarwen, daughter of Thranduil, sister of Legolas, take you, Galadriel, as my adopted mother.”
“You will be as my blood daughter, and I will always treat you so.”
“You will be as my blood mother, and I will always treat you so.”
“I promise to listen to you when you want to talk, and to talk to you when you want to listen.”
“I promise to hold myself subject to your customs, but without losing my own.”
“I will honor, care for, and respect you as a true daughter of my body until the day we shall sail over Sea.”
“I will honor, love, and respect you as the true mother of my flesh until the day we enter into Valinor.”
“By the light of the sun and the gleam of the moon…”
“By the glades of the forest and the ripples of the stream…”
“By my honor and my word as the Lady of the Wood…”
“By my home, and all that I cherish in it…”
“I accept you, Novarwen, as my daughter.”
“I accept you, Galadriel, as my mother.”
Novarwen gave Galadriel her hand, and the Lady pulled her into a hug. “I know I’m not Celebrian,” Novarwen whispered quickly into her adopted mother’s ear, “but I will do my best to be a good daughter.” She felt a small tear drop onto her shoulder from Galadriel’s eye, but said nothing about it.
Then they separated. She is right, Galadriel thought. She’s not Celebrian. No one could be Celebrian. But she is Novarwen, and I can love her for who she is without trying to make her be Celebrian. She gave her new daughter a brilliant smile, and walked with her down from Cerin Amroth.