So I was watching Disney's Robin Hood the other day, and I heard this line that I really liked and thought, "Hey! I could use that for a title!" And so, I had a title for a new fan fic, and even a one-sentence summary to go with it (go me!). But now, wonder of all wonders, I've managed to find a plot! (By the way, seeing as how the title was inspired by a Disney movie and with the way the plot seems to be going, I'm guessing this thing will be ripe with Disney references - I'm either really creative or a big nerd :P ) Hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer - I own only what you don't recognize, which will probably be very little. Everything else belongs to those wonderful folks over at Tolkien Enterprises, and whoever else happens to have a share in this fantastic tale.

*crosses fingers and hopes for the best*

Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady

Chapter 1 - Unlikely Heroes


Bywater, 1419 S.R.


'Fire, Foes! Awake!'

Estella Bolger let the book she had just pulled off of a shelf fall to the floor with a thud. A horn was being blown somewhere in town, but it was not the horn of the ruffians; the music from this horn was greater, prouder, and though she did not know who blew it or why, the mere sound of it made Estella's heart swell. She rushed to the door where her parents, as well as her aunt and uncle, whose house they were now at, already stood. After a brief moment of peering over their shoulders, Estella quickly squeezed between them and, ignoring their cries of protest, dashed down the front steps and out into the road, where dozens of hobbits were beginning to gather.

In the center of this growing crowd were three hobbits sitting astride ponies. From the firelight, Estella could tell that these hobbits were dressed quite strangely, in gleaming armor the likes of which she had seen only in books. With a gasp, she suddenly recognized one of the hobbits as old Frodo Baggins, formerly of Bag End, whom most believed to have perished somewhere in the Old Forest. But there was something different about this Frodo - when last she'd seen him, Frodo had been robust and energetic, despite his fifty years. Now he seemed worn, tired; though whether this was an effect of his travels or simply age catching up with him, Estella could not guess.

She moved closer to get a better look at Frodo's companions, and her eyes went first to the one who held the horn that had called them all out that night. He had his back to her, but even from that angle and with him atop a pony, she could tell that he was quite tall for a hobbit. But without his face, she could not begin to guess his name. She then turned her gaze to the last hobbit, who had just climbed off of his mount.

Estella had to clench her teeth to keep her jaw from dropping. He had grown much taller and looked quite older than last she remembered, but there before her was young Peregrin Took, complete with armor and even a sword at his belt. Seeing the tweenager whom everyone had often referred to as "little Pippin" dressed up in such a manner made Estella want to laugh at the irony of it all. But she bit back her mirth and returned her gaze to the other strangely tall hobbit, who had also dismounted his pony and was now turning to observe the crowd gathered before him.

This time Estella could not catch her jaw as it dropped open. Later on, she supposed she shouldn't have been so surprised to see him there with his friends Frodo and Pippin, but at that moment, she could not help but be shocked to see Meriadoc Brandybuck holding a horn that could not have come from the Shire and dressed like a warrior out of a storybook. This was the same Merry Brandybuck who had helped Estella's brother torture her incessently throughout their childhood, from pulling her hair to chasing her up trees.

Before she could think much on the subject, Merry raised his hand, and any murmurs were silenced. When he spoke, his voice was clear and strong so that all could hear. "Good hobbits of the Shire - my companions and I have only recently returned, but it is apparent that we've come back none too soon." After receiving many vigorous nods, he continued. "And while we don't know all that has transpired in our absence, we will fight to take our homes back and put those ruffians in their place!" His statement was met with cheers from the surrounding hobbits. "Who is with us?" he cried.

The cheers came again, louder this time, and Merry smiled grimly, a smile the likes of which Estella had never seen him wear. He, like Frodo, had changed in the months during his absence, but instead of taking away vibrance and youth, Merry's experiences seemed to have added something to him. Wisdom, perhaps?

Estella snorted at this last thought. 'The day Meriadoc Brandybuck is counted among the wise is the day I become his wife.'

She was spared from thinking any further on the somewhat disturbing subject by the arrival of a new hobbit. Estella guessed from his garb that he was yet another of Frodo's companions. Upon closer observation, she saw that it was Sam Gamgee, Frodo's gardener, and he had just come from the direction of the Cotton farm. Estella smiled to herself, taking a good guess as to who Sam had gone to see.

Her thoughts were once again interrupted, this time by a hand on her shoulder and the voice of her father, saying, "Go inside with your mother and aunt, Estella. I don't want you out here for whatever's about to take place."

Estella could not help but scowl at him. "But father, I--"

Her father's voice was firm but gentle. "Inside, Estella. Things could get dangerous."

She wanted to argue the matter further, but when her mother came and took her by the arm, all but dragging her towards the house, she sighed and allowed herself to be taken away. She knew her father only wanted to protect her, but having other people protect her was not something Estella was very fond of. To hobbits outside her immediate family, it made her seem stubborn and even a bit snobbish (the latter was especially true of lads who had seen her as a potential wife). And while it was slightly irksome to be called "the most bull-headed lass in the Shire" by her older brother (though it was becoming more a term of endearment to the siblings), Estella remained convinced that a sheltered life was a smothered life, and not the life for her.

But for that night, she allowed herself to be smothered, if only for the comfort of her parents. She resigned to simply watch what was going on outside, her nose practically against the window, and wish for a day when she could be the one to fight for freedom.

'For my freedom...'


I'm a bit uncertain about that chapter... it either seems really rushed or really drawn out. Either way, I'm sorry. :P