Trigger Warnings: Forced marriage, implied rape, domestic violence.
The first time she watched the movies she was seven, hiding behind the couch to view them in secret since Mom thought they'd be "too scary" for her, and it was love at first sight.
As she got older, her daydreams always somehow managed to find their way back to elves and orcs and hobbits, and she imagined herself swinging a sword or firing arrows or launching spells right next to the Nine.
She didn't expect to wake up in the woods at the age of fifteen.
She didn't expect the man who found her to speak a language she'd never heard before.
She didn't expect to find herself standing in front of an altar with a stranger less than a week later.
She didn't expect to be forced into marriage with a man old enough to be her father.
Learning Westron came slowly, but as her understanding grew she was able to piece together what happened: a ranger had found her in the woods near Bree, and brought her to the inn. Nobody had quite known what to do with the girl, until one man suggested marrying her so she would be provided for.
Her husband, the baker.
She learned the trade faster than she learned the language: making bread from scratch was basically the same no matter where you did it, and within a few weeks her loaves were near indistinguishable from his.
(He hit her whenever she burned a loaf; pain was a strong motivator for improvement.)
In the first few months, she thought constantly about running away. Rivendell wasn't far from Bree, was it? But she had no survival skills, no command of the language, no clue which way to even go. Nevertheless, the idea persisted.
After she became a mother she stopped thinking about it.
She had someone to stay for, now.
The first time she saw a Hobbit was five years later. Her little girl was running around outside, and she held her baby boy in her arms as she stood behind the counter selling their wares.
(She was much better at sums than her husband, and as her Westron improved she demonstrated she was much more capable at handling money.)
The Hobbit woman had ordered a baker's dozen of loaves, and as she handed the woman her order she couldn't restrain her question:
"Do you know someone named Bilbo Baggins?"
The woman raised an eyebrow, looking at her like she was crazy before taking the loaves and leaving.
"What kind of name is 'Bilbo?'"
The bedtime stories she told her children were half-remembered stories both of her old world and her new one.
During one particularly fanciful tale of a city of elves (Rivendell, she thought to herself without ever speaking the name aloud), her daughter asked her where she learned all these stories.
"I read them in a book," she replied with a smile.
Her daughter asked if she could learn how to read, and she came to the realization that nobody in this house knew how to read or write Westron.
She began to teach her daughter English.
Her third birth was harder than the first two.
She was only 22, but the midwife said it was the kind of difficulty in pregnancy that would be expected from a much older woman.
While giving birth to both her daughter and her son, she had cursed in a language nobody else could understand, cursed her horrible luck and swearing that she'd do anything for modern medicine.
Even if she'd never finished high school, she still knew enough about the difference in mother and infant mortality rates from medieval to modern times to fear for her life when she heard the midwife.
The babies - conjoined twins - didn't survive the night, and it was only later that she learned she shouldn't have survived, either.
A year later, she gave birth to another boy.
She didn't become pregnant again.
The day after her daughter's 16th birthday, the butcher's boy came over to ask the baker for her hand in marriage.
Her husband proudly gave his consent, and the young couple was married just a few days later.
Her daughter wore the same wedding gown she had once worn, and the girl - much too young - couldn't stop smiling.
Did she look as young on her wedding day as her daughter did now?
Was it wrong to become a grandmother at the same age her mom had become a mother?
Was it wrong to feel pride when holding her first grandson?
One day, her husband became ill.
Within a day, it turned serious, and within a week, he was dead.
It shouldn't have come as a surprise; he was a good thirty years older than her, after all, and the life expectancy in this world must have been much lower than in an industrialized country.
Her oldest son was a bit young to take over the bakery, but she promised to be there to support him.
She wore black to her husband's funeral, but couldn't bring herself to cry.
She became a force to be reckoned with after becoming a widow.
The baker's mother, as she was now known, came out of her shell without her husband's hand to restrain her. She was a fierce defender of her children, a compassionate neighbor, a ruthless haggler, a skilled businesswoman, an excellent cook.
Hidden away in her heart there was still a girl who wished for another world.
It was pure chance that she looked out the window one rainy night to see four very small, very familiar figures walking towards the Prancing Pony.
She had lived in the most mundane part of a fictional world for forty years, but had never been able to quite forget just what world this was.
In that moment, every childhood fantasy and escapist dream that she'd ever crushed sprung back to life, and it was like she was a teenager again.
A million imagined scenarios rushed through her head: walking through Rivendell, Lothlorien, Edoras, Minas Tirith; striking down the Balrog in Moria; blocking the arrows fired at Boromir; holding the Fellowship together; defending Helms Deep; facing down the Witch King; throwing the Ring into Mount Doom herself.
She wanted nothing more than to run into that inn and beg the Fellowship to take her with them, but this chance had come decades too late. Her hands were more suited to kneading bread than nocking arrows, more suited to counting coins than killing orcs.
She sent her granddaughter off to the Prancing Pony to sneak a fresh loaf of bread and some dry crackers that would keep well into the room of the Hobbits, and hoped that her little contribution would make their days a little easier.
She didn't trust her own resolve enough to deliver them herself.
Pippin and Merry made it through the loaf of bread within the night.
The rye crackers went undiscovered for months, tucked into a small, unused pocket of a pack. They were a welcome surprise for Frodo and Sam after too many days of nothing but lembas.
A/N: I procrastinated on my midterm paper, and this happened. I currently have no access to a copy of either the books or the movies, so I ran mostly off memory. I tried to look up what I could about baking in medieval times, but I had to bullshit my way through most of it.
-The Thunder Alchemist