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.
She never said anything, but she was always very sure that Buttercup wasn't really her name. Still, it was what everyone called her, so she answered to it, and that was how she was known, as Buttercup Brandybuck, Rorimac Brandybuck's foster daughter.
They tried to send her to school, except that she already knew most of what they taught at Tuckborough. She could read and write, that in a fair hand, and she could do math that many children twice her age had trouble with. Mommy gasped and said what good teachers she must have had, and Daddy claimed that none of his other children had known so much at so young. He even took her into his study and had her write some things for him, a thing he had never done with either of his sons until they were at least of age.
The only thing she didn't know was history, and that was what Daddy taught her instead of sending her to the village school. It was important that she should know her own background, and it was the one great failing in her education, that she knew hardly anything about the Shire and her own people.
She made mistakes, at least at first. The third time she asked what she thought was an obvious question—“But what about the Industrial Revolution?”—and Daddy didn't know what she was talking about—“The what?”—she stopped asking at all. She thought maybe there were lots of things that she thought were real but weren't, things like shoes, which everybody said only Men from the other side of the river wore, and they only made people look at her strangely and whisper in corners about what uncommon folk her parents must have been, so she stopped saying out loud the things that sometimes came up in her head.
Mommy taught her things, too. There were things that every lady should know, and girls learned them earlier than boys did. So she spent as much time with Mommy as she did with Daddy, and she went with her to lots of places, most particularly to Mrs. Gamgee's house, because those two ladies were such good friends, and she got to see Sam more than she'd thought.
It was on one of those visits that little Sam took her hand and said to her, “Buttercup,” and Mrs. Gamgee dropped her teacup and Mommy gasped.
“His first word,” cried Mrs. Gamgee, and she cried, because she had been so very worried that Sam would never talk, though he was already two years old and everyone had been whispering about how that child wasn't talking.
She held Sam's hand and looked at him, met his solemn, steady eyes, and felt something move in her heart, something that felt like one box falling off of another, and she couldn't say what it was that made her feel a little more lost and a little more awake, but she thought about it the whole trip home.
Except that evening, when she went to kiss Meriadoc good night, he grabbed at her hair and said in his small, bubbling voice, “Buttercup!”
Esmerelda gasped, Saradoc gasped, and then everyone was talking and clapping, because Meriadoc was barely a year old. Everyone agreed that this was the quickest any Brandybuck child had spoken, and Mommy said there must be something about Buttercup that made people want to talk to her, and then she had to tell the story about what happened at the Gamgee's all over again.
She got to hold Meriadoc while the grown-ups had a toast to celebrate, and she felt him drowsing in her arms, his head lying against her shoulder, and there were boxes tumbling everywhere in her head when he whispered, quietly in his sleep, “Buttercup.”
Buttercup closed her eyes.