Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lord of the Rings belong to their respective creators, Joss Whedon and J.R.R. Tolkien.
Author's Warning: major AU. Absolutely non-canon. Seriously, I am not kidding.
The news of the proposal for Buttercup Brandybuck-Baggins's hand was the talk of the Shire not a whole day after the departure of Gloin and his son.
Buttercup heard about it the following evening, when, as Bilbo wrote in his book at his writing table and Buttercup tried to sew up a torn patch on her leather shirt, they were both alarmed to hear the front door slam open, struck from the other side. Buttercup snatched up a knife from her belt lying in the chair next to the leather, Bilbo reached for a poker from the fireplace, and then they were both shocked almost speechless to see Meriadoc Brandybuck come hurtling into the sitting room.
“Buttercup!” he shouted, and collapsed over her knee. He was gasping for breath, hair and clothes gray with dust, his cloak nearly torn from his shoulders.
“Merry?” Buttercup pushed the leather shirt aside, scattering spools of thread and leather thongs everywhere. “Merry, what are you—” “You can't marry the Dwarf,”
he howled suddenly, getting back on his feet. “You can't
Buttercup tried to close her mouth. Bilbo was red-faced.
“He'll take you away into the mountains,” insisted Merry almost tearfully, still breathless, clutching Buttercup's sleeve. “He'll lock you into his hall under the mountain and then I'll never see you again! You have to stay here!”
Abruptly, he stepped back, straightening his spine. A resolute expression on his dirt-streaked face, Merry fell to his knees, threw out his arms, and proclaimed, in a loud, commanding voice, “You can marry me!”
Bilbo made an explosive noise under his breath. When both Merry and Buttercup turned to look at him, he raised both hands. “Oh, please, don't, um...I, er, I'll just...excuse myself, then.”
He put one hand to his mouth and hurried out, forgetting to even close his book. From the other room, Buttercup heard a strangled, smothered noise, as of someone choking.
Buttercup turned back to Merry. He was looking up at her expectantly, a mess in his spring cloak and dust-covered breeches and shirt.
“How did you get here?” she blurted.
Merry looked very proud of himself. “I took a pony.”
“You took,” said Buttercup slowly, “a pony.”
Buttercup hurried outside. At the door, an altogether bedraggled pony, wearing nothing but a rope, his hooves, legs, and flanks dragged with mud, stood blowing heavily, head down. When she appeared, the pony whickered half-heartedly and gazed sadly up at her.
“Great-Aunt Amaranth was visiting in Whitfurrows when she heard,” explained Merry from behind her. “She came home and told everyone that the Dwarves had come to carry you off. Uncle Merimac laughed so hard he got ale up his nose, and everyone thought Grandfather Rory was choking, so no one noticed when I sneaked out and took a pony to come here.”
Buttercup's stomach sank. How far had the news gone? Who had known about it? Had the Dwarves been indiscreet when they had gone down to Bywater, or after, when they had set off for home again? Had Uncle Bilbo told anyone?
Down the road, from the direction of the Gamgee house, she saw another small figure coming hurtling down the way toward Bag End.
“I'll tell Mr. Baggins we're to get married,” Merry was saying. “Then he can't send you off to live with the Dwarves! He and Grandfather are good friends, so I think they shouldn't mind. You'll have to wait 'til I'm of age, of course, and we can live here at Bag End, if you want. Brandy Hall is getting quite crowded, anyway.”