What, exactly, was being a maiden of the Lady? What was she expected to do? The dark-haired Sindarin maiden looked out of the talan, barely noticing the breathtaking view. Whatever she had been expecting in coming to Lothlorien, it had not been this. Of course she had expected to work-- what she hadn't expected was that she would be one of the Lady's maidens. Embroidery and weaving were all very well, but was she supposed to do nothing else? What were her duties?
"Aramel?" A head poked into her talan. It was Eirien, another of the Lady's maidens, and the only one Aramel knew as of yet. "Come with me for a moment."
"What for?" asked Aramel.
"The Ivonwin," said Eirien. "We're initiating you. If you wish, of course."
Aramel's mind raced. The Ivonwin were the Maidens of Yavanna, the group of women in every community who dedicated themselves to her, and made that community's lembas. They were highly respected, and in the Grey Havens, at least, secret. They kept their mysteries, and no man was foolish enough to ask them to reveal them.
"What?" she said faintly. "I thought... the Ivonwin were not easy to join."
Eirien sniffed. "Some communities are highly selective. Why, did you know that some only allow Noldor women to join? The Lady doesn't hold with that. Besides, all the Lady's maidens are Ivonwin. You didn't honestly expect to do nothing but weave all day. Now, come."
They came into a clearing in the woods, and Aramel saw that at least twenty women were assembled there. The stars shone pale on their hair, and they were silent and serene. She was filled with awe at these women, whose power and grace came from no man, but was their own by right, and given by a goddess. Even Eirien, whom she thought she knew, was revealed in dignity.
The tallest of the women turned towards them, and Aramel saw that it was the Lady. Proud and pale and fair she stood, and a light shone about her. Aramel knelt without being told.
"Whom do you bring here, Ivonwen?" the Lady asked in a clear voice that seemed to resonate in the clearing.
"Aramel Ithilweniel, Besain," answered Eirien. Aramel gave a start, for Eirien had named her as her mother's daughter, and not her father's. She supposed that she should have expected it, but she had never been thus called, and the feeling was strange, a mixture of novelty and pride. She had no time to wonder, though.
The Lady's voice rang out again. "Why comes she?"
"To join our sisterhood," said Eirien. "To honour the Giver of Fruits."
"Then come," said the Lady, turning to Aramel and laying her hands upon Aramel's head. "Do you come of your own free will, to join the sisterhood of the Ivonwin?"
"I do," said Aramel. Her voice came out as little more than a whisper.
"Do you swear to honour the green earth, and all good things upon it, great or small?" the Lady continued.
"I do." Aramel's voice was steadier this time.
"Do you swear to revere Yavanna, called Ivann in these Middle-lands?"
"I do," said Aramel, and felt a wave of elation wash through her.
"Then rise, Aramel Ivonwen," said the Lady, "For the Maidens of Yavanna bend knee to none." There was no mistaking it; the light in the clearing grew brighter, and the stars seemed nearer, burning with silver flame. The Lady raised her left hand, and so did the other women, and Aramel saw that upon their wrists were slender bracelets of gold, wrought into the form of wheat and corn twined into a wreath.
"We bear these bracelets in token of our service," said the Lady, "For they show that which Yavanna has made; and they are wrought of that which the mind of her lord Aule first conceived. Accept it now, both as a mark of honour, and as a token that you are bound to the Sisterhood, and to Yavanna, never to divulge our secrets to the uninitiated, and never to offer the lembas which bears her blessing to the uninitiated, for that is the right of the Besain."
Aramel raised her own hand, mirroring theirs, and the Lady clasped a bracelet about it. "You are one of us, now."
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.