Joy and Sorrow Everlasting

This story is for Diana, who introduced me to fanfiction and loves The Lord of the Rings as much as I do. I miss you as much as the Elves missed Middle- Earth after they left it.

Anything that you even remotely recognize belongs forever to J.R.R. Tolkien, not me. Don't even bother reading this if you haven't read the book, it will make no sense to people who've only seen the movies. A little knowledge of the appendices is useful, as is having read The Silmarillion. However, for those of you that are unable or unlikely to read the Silm, I will put explanatory notes about references to it at the bottom of each page.

Chapter 1: Sailing Far From Home

It was the eve of Lady Galadriel's departure to the Undying Lands. She had been reprieved from the Doom of Mandos long ago, but she had needed time to bid farewell to the golden woods of her kingdom. Tearing away from a place that had been your home for thousands of years is never an easy task. Yet her longing for Valinor, her birthplace, was just as strong. She had not seen it for two Ages, and her memories were beginning to fade. Galadriel also wished to be with her beloved daughter once more. The centuries had passed without notice, and it was only when looking back did she realize how much time has flown by her.

Undoubtedly the most difficult part of her leaving Arda was Celeborn. Her husband wished to remain in Middle-Earth for a while longer. He had lived in this forest since before the moon was part of the night sky. Valinor had no hold upon him, for he had never seen it. Celeborn knew that he must go someday, but not yet. It had been a very difficult decision for both of them, as neither of them knew when he would be following his wife. Neither of them could bear the thought of being parted for any amount of time, but their other needs made this necessary.

These thoughts were what kept Galadriel awake this night. She sat by the window of their bedroom, gazing at the trees that she would never lay eyes upon again. A terrible sense of desolation filled her heart as she thought of leaving this land and her love behind. Valinor seemed like a distant dream, a dream for which she was to cast away a life that had been hers since the First Age. Galadriel looked back at her husband as if to etch his image into her mind. He was lying on the bed with his eyes open, and, as all Elves sleep this way, she had no idea whether he was awake or not.

She wondered if he was glad that she was leaving. It must be tiresome having a queen that overshadows you in every respect, she thought. I am the only she-elf to bear a ring of power, the only one to be the ruler over a kingdom, the only being on this side of the sea to look into the hearts and minds of others. Does Celeborn resent that? Does he regret having married me? Or am I being foolish, making decisions based on doubts? Why do I fear this step I am taking? I wish I could speak now to him about my thoughts. I haven't needed his help so much since .I cannot remember. I haven't worried about these things since our daughter left for the Havens. Why did Illuvatar decide for the fate of the Elves to be this way, to diminish instead of dying? Why did he give men the opposite fate? My thoughts are filled with the whys that cannot be answered. And tomorrow it will be too late to talk to Celeborn. If I knew that he were awake I would ask him.

No sooner had she thought this than the king of Lothlorien rose and sat down beside Galadriel. "Should you not be resting, my love?" he asked her with concern in his voice. He was speaking Sindarin, of course, the language of his people. "You depart early tomorrow. I do not wish for you to be too weary for the long journey."

The love in his words banished all her previous fears. Galadriel was now certain that he felt as much pain about their coming separation as she did. Her relief, combined with the sense of loss that she already felt, moved her to tears. This shocked Celeborn, who had not seen her cry for centuries. He held her close to him and said nothing, letting the tears fall down her cheeks and waiting for her to speak. After being married for millennia both of them knew perfectly how to comfort the other. Neither of them made a sound for several minutes. Celeborn knew that his wife was reading his emotions to find out if he felt as heartbroken as she did, and was gathering her thoughts together.

Finally, she whispered, "This forest is so very dear to me, Celeborn. My heart is already filled with the pain of leaving it forever, and the pain of leaving you for no one knows how long. I am afraid. Why does it have to be this way? Why have we had to live so long as to witness the end of our time in Arda? Why must we bear witness to every tragedy that ever occurred since the sun first rose, and never be able to forget it. Why are we condemned to see all things change except us, as we slowly fade from the world? Our lives go on and on, with never an end, until all that we hold dear is gone. I do wish to return to where I dwelt as a child, I wish to be with our daughter that we both have missed for years, and I wish to see the Trees of Valinor again, though their light has been lost beyond recall. But I will never again watch a mallorn carpet the ground with golden leaves, never watch the Anduin flow by, never meet another mortal, never visit Imladris or Mirkwood again, and I will have to leave you. When will you follow me? Will it be weeks? Months? Years? Centuries? And I will have to wait, with no message from you until you come." The last sentence was nearly a sob.

"My darling," Celeborn replied soothingly, "you have seen these things for many years. I know not how fair the Undying Lands are, but from what you have told me I am certain it can soothe every pain. You yourself know of your own will and resilience. You have been steadfast all this time, be strong now for me. I do not wish for our separation any more than you do, but we will be together again. And not all that you hold dear is lost. What of our love? We have been together for eons more than any mortals could hope, and I will be with you again to spend the rest of eternity with my eternal wife. Our bond has not been broken by time, it will not be broken by distance."

"Thank you," Galadriel said. But she did not speak this in Sindarin, she spoke it in Quenya, the tongue of her childhood. "I love you." And the silver and gold lovers kissed. If anyone had been watching them, they would not have seen two powerful monarchs in this room. They would have seen two lovers, vulnerable yet enduring, helping each other survive a fate that neither could ever escape.

Notes: The Elves are separated into two main branches, the Elves that went to Valinor in the First Age before later returning to Middle-Earth, which was the group Galadriel belonged to, and the Elves that never left Middle Earth until the Third Age, Celeborn being one of them. The former group spoke Quenya, the latter, Sindarin. Most of the Elves that came back from Valinor were welcome to return to the Undying Lands, but for various historical events Galadriel's kin was forbidden to sail back to Valinor again. This was known as the Doom of Mandos. The Trees of Valinor that Galadriel spoke of were magical trees that shone with a celestial light that was later stolen by the Dark Lord Morgoth, who was Sauron's master until the Second Age.