Disclaimer: LOTR doesn't belong to me, unfortunately. Stairway belongs to Led Zeppelin or whoever wrote it. Interpretation is my own.

Summary: Stand-alone one-shot songfic inspired by Stairway to Heaven. A Lorien elf muses before Helm's Deep.

A/N: I had to take out some parts of Stairway because they didn't make sense in this context. Note that the portrayal of Galadriel might not be wholly accurate so I apologize in advance.

The Cry Before The Storm

We left one week ago, with the Lady of the Golden Wood's blessing.

There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold, and she's buying a stairway to heaven.

She knew we would do our best to help the men of Rohan. But her eyes said she knew something we did not — and could not.

When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed, with a word she can get what she came for.

I said goodbye to my family before we left— just my brother, now that our parents have left. He smiled sadly when I told him I would come home victorious— but now I'm not so sure. Haldir and Aragorn have been talking for a long time and they both look very, very grim.

There's a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure

'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.

My betrothed kissed me goodbye then hurried away— I knew where she was going, to our private place down by the banks of the Anduin, but I didn't follow.

In a tree by the brook, there's a songbird who sings

I wonder what she knew that I didn't. My beautiful maiden, so full of laughter and smiles, watching me go with tears in her eyes.

Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.

Once, I went to send off some friends who were leaving and sailing West. I didn't go near the Sea – wishing to stay in Middle-Earth longer – but it still called to me, luring my heart with its deadly song.

There's a feeling I get when I look to the west

And my spirit is crying for leaving

I thought I could make out smoke where the sky and the sea met. Others dismissed it as just a trick of the light, but I stood there for hours amidst their voices as we watched the ship sail past the horizon, straining to see what lay beyond this world, past the veil that separates Middle-Earth from the Undying Lands.

In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees

And the voices of those who stand looking

Every elf knows that if we fall in battle, we can never see the Blessed Realms. I've gambled with my life before – and won – but I fear that this time, the sun will not rise for any of us. Even Haldir, experienced as he is.

And it's whispered that soon if we all call the tune

That the piper will lead us to reason.

The Halls of Mandos aren't as dreary as Men make them out to be. Huge tracts of undisturbed forest; clean, unharmed land and fresh air… my heart sings just thinking about it.

And a new day will dawn for those who stand long

And the forests will echo with laughter

A day before we reached Helm's Deep, Haldir called us together with an old, weary look on his face. He said anyone who wished to turn back at that point could do so without any dishonor; that it was all right to return to Lorien.

Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run

There's still time to change the road you're on.

Nobody did. We were all determined to go, and so we sealed our fates.

My friends and fellow warriors are busy sharpening their swords. It's a familiar sound, one that could lull me to sleep… the hum of the whetstones is like the call to dance with death.

Your head is humming and it won't go, in case you don't know

The piper's calling you to join him.

Oh, Lady Galadriel… do you hear this song of death to come? Do you know of our fate? Your song isn't blades and death, it's the wind whispering through the mallorn leaves of our realm, telling you of our destiny.

Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know

Your stairway lies on the whispering wind.

The sun is sinking beneath the sea, and we cast long shadows on the stone of Helm's Deep. Shadows as long as our hearts are heavy.

And as we wind on down the road

Our shadows taller than our souls

I remember the time I saw our Lady silhouetted against the morning sunlight. It turned her hair to liquid gold and she seemed to blaze with white fire… ai, it took my breath away to see her in her full glory.

There walks a lady we all know

Who shines white light and wants to show

She also told me how everything can be for the best if you look at it the right way. "Even death?" I'd asked.

"Even death." The smile on her lips was bittersweet – then, I knew not why. Now I do. In this desperate hour, I finally understand.

How everything still turns to gold.

I can hear faraway drumbeats, sharpening stones, and the sweet, clean, wind's whisper. Our call to arms.

And if you listen very hard, the tune will come to you at last

My bow's wood is cool to the touch. At this moment, I am one with all my friends and allies – I can feel their nervousness and determination as though it were mine. It probably is.

When all is one and one is all

"We must stay strong." Brethil whispers, giving my shoulder a light squeeze. I smile back at him.

To be a rock and not to roll

Twilight is upon us, and night will fall soon. I can see the dawn to come.

It is time. Time to dance with death.

And she's buying a stairway to heaven.

Comments are welcome! No flames, please.