All was silent in the cool of the midnight garden. The lanterns lit the night with silver moonlight crystallized in the shallow bowls of mother of pearl. She stood there, dressed in her simple white gown. Far away dark shadows moved across the sky, obscuring the stars. They were restless. It was happening soon.
She filled the silver pitcher from the trickle of water emerging from the stone. Sacred streams that had long since abandoned the surface world, which she had coaxed back to aid her sight. The stream of water was liquid crystal and diamond bright as it arched towards the basin on the ancient stone carved pedestal.
The Lady Galadriel stood in her garden, in the most secret part of her glade, and peered into her mirror and saw all. She saw the armies massed at the Black Gates. She saw the devastation of Minas Tirith, the dead and dying across the Plains of Pelennor. She looked and saw the two small Hobbits and their impish charge enter the heart of Mount Doom. Soon, soon it would be all over.
She stepped away from the glass and walked towards the river, turning her brilliant ring round her finger. She could be at the Gates, or even in the heart of Mount Doom with the hobbits. She could help either of them. But she knew she wouldn't. She would stay in Lothlorien until the Ring was destroyed. Until Sauron was no more. That was the promise she had made many years ago. She remembered it well.
"My Lady, please, you must not do this." Gandalf the Grey had attempted to bar her way with his staff. "You know my suspicions about this one that calls himself the Necromancer. Who I suspect him of being."
"And since when do we fear the darkness, Mithrandir?" She still had a glow about her then, and the stars pooled in her eyes before the great sorrow.
"It is not the fear of darkness that I perceive to claim hold upon you." He had said, lowering his face, "It is the love of darkness, with all due respect, my Lady of the Galadhrim."
She had waited then, searching her own heart as the words came in a whisper, "Truly, Mithrandir, your perception is without question. But if the Necromancer is who you think he is, how shall you resist him, small Istari? How long has it been since you have walked upon the world in your form of light, as the Maiar did in times past?"
"And how shall you resist him, Altariel?" He whispered. "Or did Melian tell you some secret of the first singing that even I do not know."
"If you recall that name then you recall the might of the House of Finarfin, the power that is my birthright. You have seen in my mirror that it is I alone, of all the Eldar, who will cast down Dol Guldur after his return." And as she spoke she radiated light as she had done in younger days. "And do not think that I shall waver because of the past. Was it not I who told Celebrimbor not to trust Annatar. Was it not I who told Celebrimbor his true name and nature?"
"And yet, you do not call him by his true name." Gandalf lowered his staff and stepped aside, "Perhaps some part of you still sees him as he was when he deceived us all."
"He did not deceive all of us." Galadriel said as she walked past, "Sauron did not deceive all of us."
Behind her she knew Gandalf would guard the path until she returned. He would not follow her because he knew that the best chance they had at stopping the Necromancer was if she went and spoke to him. Alone. He would listen to her. And maybe she could buy them enough time to find a way to stop him for good.
As she stepped into the clearing, she could sense him there, in the darkness. A light breeze rustled through her hair, shining as the Salmarils had, as the two trees had at the dawn of the world. She couldn't help herself. She held her breath.
"Artanis? Is that really you?" His voice had not changed.
"I have not been called by that name for a very long time, Annatar." She whispered without turning. "Do you have form yet?"
"I do. I can." He wavered as he spoke, "How I have longed for the touch of your skin."
And she felt the hand slide onto her shoulder. She turned to face him, knowing who he was. Knowing that the face he wore now was just one of many he could put on or take off at a whim. But it was his face for her. Skin, pale as her own, hair as dark as a starless night. And eyes the blue of the sky before dawn.
"I had hoped that if I took this old form and legends of the Necromancer reached you that you would seek me out. I was right. You haven't changed a bit." He said smiling his crooked smile. "Though you do not glow as brightly as you did when we were together in my Mountain."
"You have." Galadriel said, turning away from him, "I can feel it. Since your fall on the steps of Mount Doom, your spirit has darkened."
"Time does that when you don't have a body for a while." He replied looking away, "So I take it you have not come to see me just because you missed me."
"Did you think that is why I would come?" Galadriel's eyes shone with controlled tears.
"I had hoped." He looked away into the darkness of the forest, "You know, that promise I made to you still stands. You would make a most wonderful dread-Queen."
And the Lady of the Galadrhim laughed a tinkling laugh, "Oh and be the terrible witch queen, feared and loved by all? The Mistress of Morgoth's successor? You know that I will never say yes. Why even ask?"
"Because I had to try at least one more time." He sighed. "I will find my strength, in time."
"You mean your ring?" And she help up Nenya, glowing blue and brilliant. "And then what? Will you force me to do your will?"
"Of course not." He looked away from her. "Things could have been different though."
"You could have chosen not to rebel against Iluvatar." She turned towards him, "You could still choose to make your peace with him."
"I will not return to my Father's house." He spat. "Do not speak of things which are impossible."
"Only because you chose to make them impossible." But he pulled away from her as she spoke.
"Some doors can never be opened. Some bridges can never be rebuilt. You said that to me, back in the old days, before Galadriel and Sauron, when we were simply Artanis and Annatar." He hung his head. "But we are not them anymore, are we?"
"No." She could not look at him then.
"I see." He raised his face to her. "Then this is the last time we shall speak face to face. The last time I shall wear this visage. It was only ever meant for the Lady of the Galadhrim. As a remembrance of our love. And I shall not come against Lothlorien myself, that it may be preserved until the very end. I will not touch you or yours. For our love that once was."
"And I shall not stand against your Black Gates at the final battle. Nor will I bring my devestation to Mordor until you have fallen. As a remembrance of when I was Artanis and you were my Annatar." She whispered.
And then he kissed her as he had done that final day, before he had told her his true nature. Before he had revealed his true plans. Before he had given her Nenya and she had thrown it back in his face, only to have Nenya entrusted to her afterward when the Rings were hidden. Nenya that was the same brilliant blue as his eyes.
And then he was gone, just as suddenly as he had fled from her the first time.
"My Lady, what news do you bring." Gandalf remained where she had left him.
"It is all as you suspected. The Necromancer is indeed Sauron and he seeks the One Ring." She spoke looking down towards the glade she had come from. "He will not take human form again."
And Gandalf must truly have had great perception because he did not ask more of her. And she returned to Lothlorien and she watched the return of Sauron and the coming and going of the Fellowship as they journeyed to fulfill their destinies. And then the One Ring came to her.
"Take it!" Frodo Baggins had yelled as he stretched the Ring to her.
"And now it comes to it at last. You will give me the One Ring freely!" And she felt him there with her, so close, so near, like a small heartbeat. Maybe if she took it she could still save him or remake him as her Annatar. "In the place of the Dark Lord, you will set up a Queen, and I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night. Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain... all shall love me and despair!"
And that was the ending of her heartbreak. She could not do it. She could not change him. He had made his choice. And so had she, "I pass the test. I shall diminish."
And now as she watched, she no longer felt the heartbreak. She no longer felt that she was losing her Annatar. She had lost him so long ago. Had mourned for him. And now she was finally watching them bury him. She turned her face from the mirror as the Ring fell into the heart of the Mountain in the hands of the imp. She did not need to watch anymore.
Now to gird herself. She had kept her promise. Now she would tear apart Dol Guldur and then she would go into the West and do what Annatar could not do. She would go home and she would make peace. Some doors will open if you try. Some bridges are never truly burnt.