A/N: This takes place in the Rings universe about two thousand years before the books/movies (hence the reference later on to Legolas being one thousand years old), and in the Buffyverse in season 4 post-Oz, pre-Tara. This story will start out in the lower ratings and work its way up in places.
Disclaimer: (boring recitation mode on) I own nothing in the Tolkien or Buffy universes. I have no money for which to sue. To do such would just waste your time. (boring recitation mode off)
Willow had wandered the terrifyingly dark forest for close to five days. She struggled on through the ancient trees out of sheer determination to find any sign of life. And what she wouldn’t give at that moment for water. She could not believe that she’d not come across a single source of water in her five days. She dared not sleep for fear of what might find her if she did. Willow hadn't exactly seen anything yet, but she could definitely feel something lurking in the trees, just outside her perceptions. 'Besides, the cold'll probably freeze me to death if I try to rest anyway...' she mused bitterly.
The icy night air penetrated clothing, skin, muscle – all the way to bone. Willow shivered violently as she stumbled over roots and stones, the sandals on her feet having allowed them to become bruised and cut as she walked. Her thin cotton skirt and sleeveless silk shirt had not been designed for such overwhelming cold, and the gaping holes and tears they now sported thanks to thorny bushes and low-hanging branches did not help matters. Tears welled up in her eyes as she vainly rubbed her hands over her arms in an attempt to warm them.
‘Stupid magic,’ she thought miserably. ‘How could a simple spell to find out who the man in my dreams is have ended up like this?’ She’d been puzzling over this very question since she’d woken up on the forest floor. Her dreams of late had been haunted by a man she’d never seen before, and given the propensity of those on the Hellmouth to have prophetic dreams, she couldn’t resist trying to learn more.
Now, here she was trudging through a creepy forest with no idea how to get back to civilization, no water, no warm clothing, and a sinking suspicion based upon her increasing queasiness, that those berries she’d eaten yesterday out of desperation were probably poisonous. Lifting one of the remaining fruits in question from one of the pockets of her skirt, she contemplated her situation. ‘After all the hell-beasties we’ve faced, I’m going to be taken down by stupid berry,’ she mused depressingly.
Before her thoughts could continue on their gloomy path for the umpteenth time since her arrival here, she saw an orange glow up ahead. ‘A fire,’ she realized hopefully, ‘Where there’s fire, there must be people.’ She quickened her pace what little she could, but the days without sleep and the ill-chosen food were quickly taking their toll. The light was still several yards ahead when Willow’s vision began to blur; with a strangled cry she threw her aching and tired body into the forest clearing and knew only darkness.