I just discovered ff.net a week or so ago... and then stumbled across the LotR section... and the Merry/Estella stories... *happy, dreamy sigh* So I figured... why not try out some of this cuteness myself? And so begins the story... my first attempt at anything LotR related... so I'm hoping you all enjoy! =)

Quick note: I need a beta, if anyone is willing - someone who is prepared to be tough on me and give me any and all advice and criticism. If you'd like to have the job, please e-mail me about it. Otherwise, just feel free to enjoy ;)

"Stars are nothing more than dreams that have been placed in the sky..."

Chapter One

Her Shooting Star

The night hadn't been like this in quite a while, and Estella Bolger found that, as she stood at her window peering into the night, it brought most unwelcome and unwanted memories. The weather and even time of the night were almost exactly similar to the time, months earlier, that Estella had given up hope on ever seeing her brother, Fatty again.

Confined in the lockholes with those ghastly awful ruffians in charge... Estella found she couldn't begin to fathom the memories the event must hold for her brother. Certainly, her own recollections were horrid enough and she hadn't even been there... she had merely thought she lost someone she cared for more than anything else she knew. Which scenario is worst? she wondered now. To witness such a vile, unforgettable thing, or to be cast aside as nonessential, without knowledge of what was happening, without knowing if you would ever see your loved one again... without knowing if they would see another day...

She shivered, hating the thoughts on her mind. She fished around in her brain for a change of subject, when the front door suddenly opened and a pool of light was cast upon the shadowy ground. Her brother stepped out and the door was shut; he disappeared into the night.

Estella drew her cloak on almost instantaneously and she, too, was quick to leave the house. Across the front lawn, shuddering slightly with the chill, she stood on the edge of the road in a relatively short time, peering around for her brother. It didn't take her long to spot him, gazing off into space near the edge of their property, arms enfolded closely across his torso.

Without a single word, Estella slipped up behind Fredegar and wrapped her arms around his middle, burying her face in his shirt and inhaling deeply. Fatty smiled and said without turning, "Hello, Estella."

A small smile played about her lips and she glanced up, questioning, "How did you know it was me?"

Fatty chuckled and turned around to face Estella, embracing her in return and resting his chin upon her head. "One would think I would know my own sister, after so many years."

Estella laid her cheek against his chest, eyes shut in a brief, blessed moment. "Yes," she agreed softly at last. "One would think that." She was silent a moment, listening to Fatty's heartbeat as breezy night air danced about the two of them, playing through their hair and tugging at their cloaks. A sudden desperateness filled her as her thoughts returned again to the time not even a year before, without Fatty... "Do you remember the ruffians?" she asked awkwardly. A foolish question, she knew; how could one forget?

"Of course, Stell," Fatty responded quietly.

"I missed you so much," she said choked hastily, voice hardly above a whisper, not bothering to disguise how her voice quivered and trembled. She was overcome with emotion thinking back on it even this far into the future; she loved her brother half to death. "Were you... were you frightened?" she swallowed hard. "In... the lockholes, that is." Fatty hadn't spoken of it much, and she and her parents hadn't asked much, as though they thought the mere mention of it would send him into some sort of hysterical depression.

"I'd be a fool not to be," Fatty said, shuddering briefly, and not merely from the chilly air alone. Estella gazed up at her brother, pale eyes large and worry stretched across her face. "Day in and day out... it was horrible, the whole thing." He paused, and Estella hid her face in his chest, eyes shut tight against the flow of tears that threatened to stream from her eyes.

"We were so scared for you," she mumbled. "Mother and father and I. We feared... we feared we might never see you again." She trembled, her heart fit to bursting with the impulsive familiarity feelings of grief and worry so intense it had made her sick on more than one occasion.

"Do not worry, Estella," Fatty whispered into her curls. "It's all in the past now, and I'm home. It's been almost a year now, hasn't it? And we are all still fine."

"Thankfully," Estella sniffed, wiping her eyes. She stood on tiptoes and planted a small kiss on his cheek, and a comfortable silence settled over the two of them.

Bright stars twinkled in the sky above them in vast quantities, lighting the frigid night very slightly. The wind was not strong; however, every time it blew it brought with it even more bitterness than before. The clear night accounted for the chill in the air, and also for the fact that Estella's feet were quickly numbing atop the damp grass. She was about to suggest that they retreat to warmer conditions, when Fatty spoke again.

"Stars are nothing more than dreams that have been placed in the sky, in hopes that they may take the form of a shooting star," he glanced down at his sister. "Because everyone knows that wishes tied in with shooting stars are always granted."

Estella gaped at Fatty wordlessly from a few moments, a pleased sort of disbelief upon her face. The corners of Fatty's mouth turned up into a smile. "What is it?" he asked. She shook her head in incredulity.

"Nothing," she said with a small smile. She hadn't heard those words for a long while - far too long in her opinion. And never had she heard Fatty say them. It had always been her brother's foolish friend, Meriadoc. Though perhaps not so foolish, she mused now. The words seemed to fit coming from Fatty's own mouth - she had always glared scornfully at Merry when he had said it in the past. It had always been in attempts to cheer her up, though the only thing it did was further distress her. She never had been one to take Merry seriously. Why should she? He and Peregrin and Fatty were always causing trouble. Since they had sprung Fatty from the lockholes and had rid of the ruffians that had terrorized the Shire along with Frodo and Samwise, Estella hadn't seen much of them. Not that she was complaining; they were nothing more than immature lads with a tendency to pick on her.

Insufferable lads, she thought with a minute smirk. She hadn't recognized them when they had first returned; they were taller now, and adorned strange garnishes. Frodo had looked much the same; if anything, he had seemed tired and more worn out. Older. This was strange, because before he had always seemed so young despite how much his years climbed upwards. Once or twice Merry and Pippin had stopped by to see Fatty since their return and only one time had they brought Frodo, too. Only a few short words had been exchanged between Estella and her brother's friends. ("I am surprised you did not perish, like so many thought, being gone so long and incapable of almost everything like you are," Estella had declared. "You could never get rid of us that easily," had been Merry's retort.) Perhaps their lack of mischief signified the fact that they had, indeed, managed to mature to some extent while being away, Estella thought with amusement.

"What are you thinking of, Estella?" Fatty asked his sister suddenly, jarring her from her reminiscences. A slow smile spread across Estella's face, and instead of answering truthfully, she said slowly and thoughtfully, "I suppose I had my very own shooting star."

"What do you mean?" Fatty queried, gazing down at his sister with interest.

"I would think it obvious, Fatty dear," Estella said, smile growing larger with every passing second. "I wished for your return home. I dreamed of the day you would return home... back with us... and you know what they say about shooting stars..."

Fatty said nothing at first, but held Estella close, blinking back the unexpected wetness in his eyes. "What did I do to deserve such a wonderful sister?" he murmured at last.

"That's easy," Estella responded. "Absolutely nothing. You were just lucky, I suppose."

Fatty laughed. "I suppose I was," he said. "I suppose I was."