The Mirror of Galadriel

by Evermind

Stepping slowly, almost reverently, Celeborn approached the silver basin. It lay where she had left it, in the exact centre of the stone pedestal. Now for many years it had lain unused, yet the silver still shone unsullied, and no trace of dust nor age was upon it. She might have left only yesterday. Gently the elf lord lifted the silver pitcher, and filled it from the stream. The water was colder than he remembered it, and silent, it's laughter stilled now that she was gone. From the troubled waters, his reflection gazed back at him with haunted eyes. Slowly he poured the water from the pitcher to the silver basin and breathed upon it. The water rippled gently, and was still.

Celeborn shut his eyes for a moment, wondering at his own weakness of will. There was no reason to suppose that he would see anything at all. He was no ringbearer. The elf lord opened his eyes at last, gazing into the clear depthless water. The mirror was still, and his own form was not reflected in it, only the deep sky, and the stars, more beautiful than he had ever known them. How could the eldar live without the stars?

Slowly, the surface of the mirror began to darken as if the stars were hidden beneath a dark veil. Then the darkness cleared and shaped itself into a memory; small, yet perfect, it's colours vivid as if painted upon the water by elven skill. Within the mirror the new-wrought sun, arrayed in fiery splendour danced amid a wood of golden trees. A green mound stood in the midst of the forest, and there an elf maiden danced. Her face was ageless, beautiful, she was clad all in white, and beads of dew flashed beneath her white feet as she danced. The new sun enshrined her with a bright halo, and her long hair caught the golden rays in a mesh of light. Celeborn's breath caught in his throat, and for a moment, it seemed as if he could fall through the mirror and join her. He watched, entranced as she whirled upon the bright air. The sunlight sparkled in her eyes and new blossom was strewn about her feet.

The elf lord closed his eyes, as if in pain, and her image flickered and was lost. An image of the past, nothing more.

The images flowed swiftly then; glimpses of a past that now he could not change. Things of an elder time before the world was broken and changed. Wide realms of green trees, and the depthless eyes of Fangorn, master of forests. The dark halls of Doriath, and richly patterned tiles stained with blood. A field of battle far away, and dead elves piled into a high mound before the gates of Angbad. A young elf who leaped from the white prow of a ship with the wind in his flowing hair, to sink beneath the waves. A small figure upon a dark road who bore in his scarred and broken hand a living star.

Celeborn turned away. How could she have borne this? How could she have choosen to remember things this way, to know the true futility of their own existence?

The surface of the water shifted, and the image changed again: A grey sky he saw, and grey trees beside a grey river, all shrouded in a veil of dark rain. Celeborn's beautiful face twisted in a bitter smile. Laurelindorenan. The Land of the Valley of Singing Gold, that it was once upon a time. No mallorn tree grew here now. She was gone, and without her all light had faded from the land of blossom. The image saddened him, and yet, as he looked around him, it had indeed come to pass. The grass beneath his feet was failing, the little elanor long dead. The river now was but a river, no longer the magical torrent that laughed and danced for no other reason than because she willed it. He wondered at it now, as if he had seen it only thus for the first time. And yet... if he had but looked he would have seen it before now. He had not wanted to see it. He had only closed his eyes.

"To conquer death," he seemed to hear, or remember hearing "To conquer death, you only have to die." Celeborn found to his shame that there were tears in his eyes.

When his gaze returned to the mirror, it had changed again. He saw then many things; brief, far-off glimpses of a future he had no power to affect. Great trees growing dark and wild until the forest failed, and evil things walked in the shadow of the returning dark. A tall King with an old and noble face, who sat upon a bed of death as if it were a throne. An elf maiden lying slain upon Amroth's mound. The last of the ringbearers, a small figure standing upon the prow of a great ship, while from the west came a great rain of bitter tears, and none were left behind to watch him sail.

A great terror welled up inside of him, a great choking biterness of defeat. With an anguished cry, he struck the silver basin a great blow, sweeping it from the stone pedestal to crash in riven fragments to the ground. With a sob of horror, he collapsed against the stone, the sobs now welling forth unrestrained. He wept then. He wept for Lorien the fair, and for Galadriel, more beautiful than the thoughts of mortal men. He wept for the frailty of the aftercomers, and for the bitter legacy of the eldar race. He wept with the final knowledge that in the end, all was vain. The futility of all their deeds and words was at last made bare to him, and he saw, and comprehended for the first time the doom that reached out to claim them all. Celeborn's body shuddered once, and was still.

Slowly, as in a dream, he rose and left the glade. He did not look back. The heedless waterfall rolled on, unchanging. Celeborn passed on, out into the place that had once been named the heart of elvendom on earth. As he passed through the deserted towers of Caras Galadhon, the elf lord put out a slender hand to touch the dying bark of the last mallorn tree. The silver-grey bark was thick with rain-drowned lichen, and it crumbled soft and gritty beneath his touch. Suddenly, Celeborn was overwhelmingly aware of the tree's pain. He could feel it, ingrained deep into the silver bark, could feel the agonised sting of sap slowly withdrawing along the failing limbs back into the broken heart of the tree.

Slowly Celeborn, Lord of Lothlorien withdrew his hand, and passed away, silent as the veil of rain from the land that he had loved. And when the last ship had sailed from the grey havens, silent and unremarked by any save the ceaseless stars, bearing the Lord Celeborn with his grandsons, and Cirdan the shipwright, and with them the last ringbearer of all, then truly an end was come to the age of the firstborn. But Dwimordene, Laurelindorenan the golden, Lorien of the blossom, faded, and the light of Aman was spent. But if there are mallorn trees beyond the great sea, then none have reported it.