Still not mine, still can't change username, still thanking Levade for betaing. . . This is a bit different from anything I tried before and I'm not very sure about it. Please let me know what you think!

~*~

The woods were silent tonight; even the trees seeming to know that soon there would be little left to say and that what words they had would be inadequate. The lanterns glowed green and silver and gold, the light steady and the shadows motionless, not daring to flicker or falter. Even the leaves were still, floating like dark clouds in the cold air.

Time was hanging still. The days had rushed towards them of late - the last years of this Age hastening towards the end as darkness spread and shadows grew longer - but now time waited in silence. Waiting only for one.

He had watched her during these past months, since the coming of the messengers from Rivendell. He had seen the light, cold and wondering rekindled in her eyes. He had watched her spend endless hours with the mirror, and she would no longer speak with him of what she saw. He had come to fear that should the Ring not take her, her desire for it would.

Even in times of rest, her thoughts and dreams were bent towards it.

They had spent much time together over the last few days, silent and alone. They had lived long years together and seldom needed to speak to know the other's thoughts, but she would not burden him with this, and for his part he would not speak his mind unasked. This temptation was for her alone, and he would not attempt to shield her from its power or counsel her as to its outcome.

It would take her from him, this test, whichever way fate fell. He was not yet ready to leave these lands, even if they faded and became overwhelmed by shadow, but she had long yearned for the sea and would not linger once all was done. She had never truly been his, her thirst for power and desire to control ungovernable throughout the years. He had not married an elf- maiden alone.

He would love her still, whatever her choice.

~*~

She was silver in the moonlight as she slowly undressed and changed into her nightgown, and as white and fragile as starlight on water as she stood before the window, looking west over her lands as she brushed her pale tresses.

Motionless on the pale quilt behind her, Celeborn watched and waited in the heavy, lingering silence. He could hear his breath being drawn softly in and out, matching time with his heartbeat - the slow and steady rhythm suitable for the silence, if not the moment.

She knew that he was awake, he was sure, but neither dared speak. He could not see her face as she stared into the trees, but he could hear - and right now, that was enough. Each breath was fast and shallow, catching irregularly at the back of her throat as she remembered. The brush was moving smoothly through the shower of pale gold, the task done, but she was not yet ready to let go.

Finally as the pale moon began to set in the lightening sky, the figure at the window turned and slowly, softly, lay down beside him. She was quite still and her tears were cold, and as close as they were he could not ease the dark, painful knot in her chest. Aching inside, Celeborn reached out and held her, allowing the hurt and hopelessness and despair to be shared between them. He had bound himself to her, and he had known then what burdens she carried with her. It was his duty to help bear them, whenever he could.

They lay together in silence a while, and then, as he took her hand in his and brought it to rest against his heart, she spoke.

"My lands will fade into the shadows of time." Galadriel's voice was deep and soft, carefully devoid of any emotion. "I will diminish and go into the West."

"Aye," Celeborn paused for a moment, at once feeling sorrow and regret and relief. Then, as she continued to lie still, unmoving but for the soft rise and fall of her chest, he drew her close and buried his face into her hair, speaking in a low whisper, "and yet you shall remain Galadriel, and for that I am glad."