Gold and purple spread across the hallowed sky as Galadriel waited in the paused stillness to mark one of the last vestiges of time. The sunrises of Valinor were bitter and sweet; all the world had been darkened when she had turned toward Middle Earth before the coming of the sun, and she had first witnessed morning on the shores of Ennor. That this ancient rhythm also lit the land of her birth was both disconcerting and strangely comforting. It was wrong; anything but the Trees was wrong. And yet there was a defiant hope in it that spoke to her still, though, like the sunrise, she could not grasp it.
Hope and time. Two things lost to her at last.
Valinor had healed her, but not all had found their way to paradise, and their absence was a distant ache. As one who had been rent and torn, she had been saved by the loving care of the Blessed Realm. She was mended, but not made whole, for there are some wounds that, once inflicted, can not be undone.
The Eldar had slowly wearied of counting the days, and then the years, and then the ages. Many had abandoned time at a day that was even now in the distant past when the ships had come no more. Without the tide of elves from Middle Earth it seemed that intrusions of time into Valinor ceased altogether.
Yet Galadriel had continued to note the days until word came that the dead had stopped treading the path to Mandos. All who yet remained would fade into grief, Námo had said. And on that day she had yielded to eternity at last; it was futile to count forward from some vague past through an infinity that held no end. There was no need to anticipate what would not be.
He had not come.
They called her Artanis after that last day.
During the next eternity of uncounted days the halls of Mandos had been emptied, save for those few who refused to depart. The reunions of living and dead had been joyous; so many noble and beautiful ones who had once departed returned to their places beside their families and the generations were relinked. But 'twas an imperfect chain. Many lines of Avari were missing altogether and some of the greatest of the families of all the Eldar remained horribly disfigured, ending in ragged, gaping loss.
Hers was one.
All of her grandchildren had remained, and so Celeborn had remained. They, more than the land, more than the trees, more than the years, were the reason he had stayed even as she had departed. She knew that somewhere over the sundering seas their lineage echoed in the children of Men, a testament to an ancient union of which Men certainly were not aware. And she also knew that the echo has outlasted its immortal sire. She had felt Celeborn's melody fade into the song of the land he had loved until the two could not be distinguished, and in the decrescendo of his soul he had become a part of the earth from which his heirs were made and of the dust to which they returned.
She knew that in some time that was not yet, she would cross those seas with the elves who would return briefly to Middle Earth seeking their lost kin. She knew that when she arrived, she would find nothing of her love but the breath of his voice on the wind. She knew she would stand beside Elrond Peredhil, who would plead with his children's children to ally the worlds of Men and Elves once last time, to fight the final battle. She knew that Men would decide their fate, but she did not know what they would decide.
If they decided wrongly, Arda would end, and all elves with it.
If they decided rightly, Arda might yet end, and all elves with it.
Until then, she would stand alone and face the east and wait for the sunrise until the sun came no more and all days, counted and not, were ended at last. Perhaps the darkness would become an eternal night of oblivion; if it were so, she would welcome it.
And yet, Galadriel thought, perhaps the end of days was merely the darkness before the dawning of a new unending day when all the Children of Ilúvatar would be sung anew.
Galadriel looked to the cobalt sky of Arda Marred, the promise of another day, and then bowed her head.
I gleaned the mythology of the end of the world from several sources, chief among them The Histories of Middle Earth II, The Book of Lost Tales II. Go here for some interesting takes on Dagor Dagorath:
And I just had to write one where Celeborn and the Sons of Elrond didn't show up in Valinor. Tolkien left their fates unknown, and happily ever after just isn't his style.
Updated briefly on ff.net 10/4 because in fixing one thing I unfixed something else.