"Mama, tell me a story. Please?"
"Of course, Artanis. Of what do you wish to hear?"
"Tell me how you and father were betrothed," came the almost wistful reply. Eärwen stopped brushing her daughter's deep golden tresses for a moment. They were both dressed for bed, and the curtains had been drawn. 'When did Artanis take an interest in such things?' she asked herself. Putting the brush aside, she quickly plaited her fifteen year old daughter's hair, and then waited while her child got into her bed. Then, Eärwen sat down on the bed and smiled down at Artanis as she brought the blankets up to cover her daughter.
"I first laid eyes on him, on a warm summer day, while I was on the beach with my sister, Írimë..."
We had just come from the water to lay upon the sand, when I saw him standing on the hill above the beach. His long golden hair blew i nthe breeze, and I thought I had never seen any as beautiful before.
"Eärwen, did you not hear me?" Írimë said as she gave me a little shove. But her gaze followed mine and she then understood.
"Who is that?" I whispered. I was almost afraid he would hear me, even as far away as he was. Írimë only shrugged her shoulders in reply.
I watched him as he made his way down to the docks. He had apparently come to Alqualondë on business, and soon he was lost among the crowd. I sighed heavily and turned back to face the water. I did not know if he had seen me, and some small part of me than wished he had. Whatever Írimë had to say to me was forgotten, and we spent another few hours dashing from water to sand, laughing and having a grand time.
It was not until much later that I saw him again. My father had organized a ball and invited all who would come. I think everyone Aman must have come, Artanis. The ladies were all in their finest silken gowns in every color imaginable. The lords who accompanied them wore doublets and trews of a darker color from their partner. My own dress was mother-of-pearl colored and it shimmered as if were made from the irridescent substance. Írimë had helped me with my hair, a single plait wrapped around my head with many small, curled tendrils falling from it.
"I think you have dressed for only one man tonight, Eärwen," my sister said as she walked beside me. I said nothing, but felt my face flush. She was right, of course. I did only dress for one man, and I was more than certain that he was at the ball.
"I do not even know his name," I said with a laugh, but Írimë knew better.
The herald announced us as we entered the grand hall. Írimë kept a tight hold of my arm to keep me from dashing away to find him. We smiled and waved coming down the staircase, and people stood aside to let us pass. My sister finally released her hold on my arm, and we parted. She had to meet her friends, and I was left on my own.
The musicians began to play the introduction to the first dance, and as I had no partner, I went to the side. Finally, I saw him! He stood on the other side of the dancing couples, looking directly at me. It was then that I knew he had seen me on the beach that day. He was dressed in an ivory doublet and trews, with a golden belt around his waist. My heartbeat quickened, and my eyes were fixed on him. After the first dance ended, he crossed the floor and stood in front of me. I curtsied, and mumbled a greeting. His deep blue eyes were shining with mirth. He returned the greeting and bowed gracefully.
"My lady, if you are not otherwise engaged, I would like to dance the next two dances with you," he said. His deep voice sent a thrill through me.
"I am not engaged, sir. I would be honored to dance with you," I barely managed to whisper. When the first chords of the next dance began playing, he took my hand in his and he led me to the floor. I did not notice, but he had led me to the center, and the dance called for all the other couples to dance around the center couple. We moved gracefully together, touching wrists, holding arms, never losing contact with each other. But he surprised me with his own move at the end of the dance. His hands went to my waist, and he lifted me off the floor, high above him. I smiled and laughed as he brought me back down, and I wrapped my arms around his neck.
I lost count of how many dances we danced, Artanis. There were fast dances, stately dances, and slow dances. I felt at home within his embrace. By the end of the ball, my father came up to us and introduced himself to my lord.
"My name is Olwë. I am am this young woman's father. Who might you be?" My father's voice was stern, but held no animosity.
"I am Finarfin, my lord," and he bowed to my father.
"Your attention to my daughter did not go unnoticed. Have you met before?"
"Not before tonight, my lord." They stood looking at each other before my father turned to me.
"Enjoy yourself, Eärwen. You have chosen well, and you have my blessing."
Turning away, he left to return to my mother and sister, who stood watching us. Írimë was smiling and she waved at both of us. Finarfin bowed to them and then led me out of the Hall. We walked to a small grove of Oak trees and there he gave me my first kiss.
"When I saw you on the beach, your silver hair shining in the light, I knew I wanted you for my wife, Eärwen," he whispered in my ear.
"And when I saw you on the hill, your golden hair flowing in the breeze, I knew I would have no other for a husband."
Then he kissed me again. We were betrothed to each other in the Oak grove. I had never felt more loved then at that moment. He made me happier than I had ever known.
Our families held our betrothal feast at my father's hall not too long after we told them of our intent. The decorations were modest; flowers and white fabric used as streamers ran over the windows. Food was laid out on the table, and there were a few servants that waited to fill our goblets with wine. During the feast, Finarfin and I stood at the head of the table and exchanged brightly shining, silver rings. He placed his on my finger, and I placed mine on his. The rest of the time was passed with laughter and joy. My father had even hired a small group of musicians to play, and your father and I danced many times. Often, we danced alone, our families watching us. The looks on their faces were mixed with remembrance of their own weddings, or wistfulness for weddings to come.
Eärwen's eyes refocused and she looked down at her daughter again. Blue eyes the color of the sky looked back at her, even as eyelids began to droop over them.
"Will you tell me another story tomorrow, mama?" she asked with sleep in her voice.
"Of course, my dear. Of what do you wish to hear?"
"The day you and father were married," she replied. Eärwen caressed her daughter's face and hair and bent to kiss her forehead. She watched the eyelids close all the way. Artanis was finally asleep.
Rising from the bed, she tucked her youngest child in, and went out of the room. When she closed the door and turned, she found Finarfin standing there, waiting. He gathered her in his arms and kissed her.
"I love you," he said softly.
"I love you, too," she replied.
He led her to back to their Oak grove, where the were betrothed, and they celebrated the anniversary of their wedding making joyous love with each other.
A/N - According to the custom of the elves, the father of the new son or daughter gives them their name. Finarfin named his only daughter Artanis, 'noble woman'. Her mother, Eärwen, waited a while to give her daughter a name. From her height and great strength of body and will, Eärwen chose the name Nerwen, meaning 'man-maiden'. In the end, though, their daughter used neither her father-name nor her mother-name, and instead took the name by which she is known to history: Galadriel. (from: The Encylopedia of Arda)
A/N - I used 'Artanis' in this story as I believe she had not yet chosen the name 'Galadriel'.