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.
Since that day in the woods, Buttercup had been keeping a closer eye on those Men who called themselves Rangers.
She’d noticed them before. Once outside the borders of the Bindbale, or even a short way into the Old Forest, it was almost impossible to miss them skulking through the trees. She had kept herself hidden from them, disinclined to approach such disreputable-looking types, until that night in the Dim Hills when she’d been unable to turn her back on the two Men carrying their wounded.
If they had dropped him and fled, Buttercup thought to herself, they could have easily gotten away from the Orcs and the wolves. Instead, they had refused to leave him behind, had been ready to fight to their deaths to defend him.
Buttercup could not stop thinking about that.
She watched them. They were stealthier than the other Big Men she’d seen, chiefly those who lived in Bree, and made up for what little they lacked with a perseverance that she’d only ever seen before in starving wolves. It made it harder for her to stay unheard and unseen, but there wasn’t a Man alive who could catch a hobbit, especially one who’d made up her mind that they wouldn’t.
They were obviously watching for her. No one went out of his way, but she saw how their eyes searched every tree, every thicket, how they stopped now to examine holes and burrows they wouldn’t have glanced in before. She heard them whispering together, a few times, and they would ask each other when they met “Have you seen him? The little fellow?” and they would answer each other “No, not this week.”
She considered making herself known to them, but Men were still men and she was still a girl. Likely they would pitch a fit and try to march her straight home, where most people seemed to believe a good hobbit lass should be. And if these were the kind of men who were noble to their fellows but otherwise to women, well. Buttercup decided that the most prudent course of action would be to keep her distance.
But in keeping a watch on those who wandered the wood, Buttercup began to see more than only Men.