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Battle of the Golden Wood  by Marnie

Namárië! Nai hiruvalyë Valimar
Nai elyë hiruva. Namárië!

Swiftly Anduin bore away the boats of the Fellowship. They passed like fallen leaves, swept from sight. Galadriel lowered her hand and, as the song ended, she stood gazing out into the wide, grey lands beyond Lorien. Now shadow reaches out over all, and it may be that the only escape to Valinor henceforward will be through death.

Celeborn stepped up beside her, studying her face. He would not intrude on her thoughts, but it was possible he could discern them even thus, though he smiled. "We have drunk the cup of parting," he said, echoing her own words, "And my Lady bids me be not sad." He shook his head, his silver hair glinting like the surface of Anduin. "Even this impossibility I will accomplish for you. If you will do the same for me."

What a fool she had been to speak such words. Returned upon her, she tasted their heaviness. How can I not be sad, when I have given up even the faded remnant of my dreams? So sure I was that I would accomplish everything, yet if I return at all, it will be with nothing. Last and least of all my kin.

"You let the Ring go," Celeborn said, taking her hand, "I wondered if you would find the strength."

"You wondered? You didn't know?" She pulled away, feeling ill-used and then angry. "You doubted me?"

He took a step back in mock fear, but there lurked in his eyes a look she had learned to associate with a certain Sindarin harshness in him. A look which would have sat well on the face of Oropher, or Thranduil. She braced herself. She had not married him for his fine manners, but, in part, for exactly this gift of pointing out the bald truth. Not a comfortable gift, but a valuable one.

"Since you exiled yourself for Feanor's gems," he said, "And could not resist Celebrimbor's Ring, though you knew it to be tainted, I had a right to be unsure."

Water murmured against the river bank, chuckling beneath the roots of the alders as Galadriel braided up her hair once more, her thoughts like a shadow over her. In truth, he saw more clearly than she would have liked. He always had. "You had a right to doubt, indeed," she said, "For now that it has gone beyond my reach, I wish I had accepted it. If I had, we would not now be waiting powerless, for the Enemy's wrath to fall on us like the sea."

The swan boat drew level with them, and leaping aboard he offered her his hand to help her in. As usual she disdained the petty courtesy and made her own way, light and quick as any wood elf. It made him laugh. "Nay," he said, "I am glad you did not take it. I should not have liked being wed to Morbereth, Dark Queen of the Earth."

She had turned to the prow, as was her wont when unobserved, but now she turned back, both horrified and amused. Would he never stop renaming her? "Do not jest so! It is in ill taste."

"I do not jest."

In Doriath there had been a softness to his beauty - the sheen of untried youth. That was gone now, and though he did not claim the title, he was kingly, stern and fair as Elwë himself. It was a hurt she would not think on, that he loved the lands of Middle Earth more than he loved her. That whether victory came, or not, these days were the last they would ever spend together. For he would not chose to go to Valinor with her, even were she to lower herself to plead.

If she had kept the Ring, that would have been the first of her choices she would have forced on him. But it would not have been the last.

She shuddered. "What would you have done, if I had taken it?"

His face darkened and he turned away. "Let us not speak of that."

The swan boat nudged the hythe gently, and silently they disembarked. She took his arm and walked by him, the foreknowledge of loss making even this small closeness precious to her. They climbed to the Great Hall, and looked out at the fume and heavy darkness which lay over Dol Guldur. Hidden beneath endless night, in the dark and spider-infested forest of Mirkwood, orcs were breeding, brooded over by the starved and deathless mind of the Nazgul Khamul, and the sleepless Eye of his master, Sauron.

"The shadow has grown," said Celeborn quietly. "We have little time to prepare before war is unleashed on us."

Galadriel's thoughts were with the Ringbearer, and beyond him, in Valinor. "Let us hope Frodo succeeds," she said, "Or before this year is out you, I and all our people will have gone West by the speediest route, and fire consumed every tree. Lorien will have become a place of wraiths and dread, like the Marshes of the Dead in the Land of Shadow."

Celeborn laughed again. "My lady is cheerful this afternoon."

She had drunk the cup of parting and given up, with her ambitions, all hopes founded in Middle Earth. But she smiled at her husband nevertheless. I will do the impossible for you, and grieve not. And I will see that this land, where we have been happy, is preserved. It will be as my farewell gift.

"One of us has to be," she said.


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