belongs to Joss Whedon. Lord of the Rings
belongs to JRR Tolkien's estate. I didn't create them, I'm just playing with them for a bit.
Buffy smiled. She couldn’t help it. Mithrandir had been right. It was impossible to stay dreary in the company of Halflings. Their cheerful ways were a balm to her very soul. Doubtless that was why she had been sent to live among them for a while.
It wasn’t that she didn’t want to be happy. It was just… hard. Harder than she’d ever expected, or Willow had ever dreamed it would be when she resurrected her. She’d had eight good years after that. She’d seen Dawn get her GED and go on to finish her History course at Oxford with honors. She’d seen Xander finally settle down, with another Slayer. He’d known it wouldn’t be happily ever after, but he thought it was worth doing anyway. She’d helped Giles build the New Council into something that would never see any of the girls as only a weapon.
She’d even had a child, something she had never seriously thought would happen right up until the day she went into labor. A daughter. She’d been smitten from the second she looked into her baby’s eyes. She’d prayed to the gods every day that her little girl would never follow in her footsteps.
Because throughout it all, she had still been a Slayer. No longer the, but somehow still the one everybody looked to for leadership, even Faith (although she probably would have killed someone before admitting to it.) That also made her the number one target for every baddie looking to make a name for himself.
It was inevitable that sooner or later, one would succeed. Like Spike had said a lifetime ago, there was only one of her against a neverending stream of darkness, and all of them were looking for just one good night. It was a miracle that she’d made it as long as she had. Eleven years was a long time for a Slayer to survive.
The problem had come after that one demon had had his one good night. Buffy had known the second the knife pierced her heart that there was nothing that could be done. She’d surrendered to the descending darkness knowing that where she was going was warm, and safe, and she was finished. No being ripped back this time. Willow and Dawn would see to that.
Except that she woke up again. She felt herself, her body, the grass beneath her, the breeze on the skin of her face, and knew immediately that it was wrong. She wasn’t where part of her had been wishing to return ever since she woke up in that little wooden box. She was still alive.
A woman was watching her. Buffy turned her head to look at her. Whatever she was, she wasn’t human. She was powerful. And she was not a demon. She was almost the exact opposite. She was so pure it made part of Buffy’s soul sing, and the other part weep.
“Well met, Buffy of the Summers,” she said. Her voice was low and lyrical, and it occurred to Buffy that if this woman sang, it would be blues.
“Hi.” She didn’t know what else to say. “Um, look, I don’t mean to be rude, but I think there’s been some sort of mix-up. I’m supposed to be dead.”
The woman nodded. She said nothing, but Buffy felt that her pain was already known.
“Not that I’m upset about being alive,” Buffy continued, even if I sort of am, “But where am I, and why aren’t I dead?”
“You are in Arda. You spoke truly, you should have been dead. But a terrible deed was done, ripping you from your peace, and it cannot be undone.”
Buffy’s blood ran cold.
“You mean-“ She couldn’t finish. Couldn’t make herself say it.
“You are beyond death now, Slayer. You could not stay in your own world, for there is no place for the deathless there. But here, in the one I keep watch over, you will not be so out of place. You may find within the walls of this world healing for your hurts, and understanding for those wounds beyond healing.”
Buffy hadn’t realized at the time what the lady, who she later found was called Nienna, meant by ‘wounds beyond healing’, not until she came to Imladris. There it was explained to her that in this world, mortals who died passed from it, to the afterlife that she had been expecting. Those like herself, who were here called Eldar, were bound to Arda, even after seeming ‘death’.
She had indeed found understanding in the house of Elrond Half-elven for the grief that came from knowing that she was sundered from her family forever. Elrond’s own twin had chosen to be counted among mortals and had passed from the world long ago.
But watching the hobbits dancing about, singing drinking songs as they celebrated the end of a good harvest, it was hard to remember her grief. Here, she could just be Buffy, in a way she hadn't been since before she was Called. Even if it was only for a little while.
One of the younger ones came running up with a mug of ale for her. He handed it over to her with an infectious grin.
“Buffy, will you sing the next one with us? It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the verses, just make sure you come in for the chorus!”
She smiled. Yes, the grey pilgrim had definitely known what he was doing when he sent her here.