Prologue – Positive Stress

Summary: Overwhelmed by the stress of recent life events, a young woman takes refuge at a favorite childhood spot at the forest preserve. By accident she falls into the river and nearly drowns, only to be rescued by a man from another world on his way to Rivendell. He offers to take her home before joining the Fellowship and now she won't let him out of it when her memory beings to fade.

Disclaimer: I do not claim ownership of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, or the Silmarillion. I also do not claim ownership of Peter Jackson's films based on the aforementioned novels. There will be no monetary gain as a result of this fan-made work, and it is intended purely for entertainment purposes. Please, please, please don't sue me! I have so much student debt as it is...

AN: I would like to say that I originally began writing this fanfic for personal pleasure. It was not my intention to ever publish it but after lots and lots of encouragement my friend convinced me to do it. Anyway, there seems to be a deficit of good Boromance on here... Though I will say I have found a few good gems that I've really enjoyed and I realize maybe other people might enjoy this, too. It is not intended to be Mary Sue, and I genuinely don't believe it is. I assure you there will be no lack of updating – I've already written about 84 single-spaced pages in Microsoft Word. Expect updates about once a week while the summer lasts (I'm pursuing a Masters in I/O Psychology right now, so during the school year I get super busy – give me 2-3 weeks during that time).

Also, please feel free to provide criticism. The best way to grow as a writer is to receive feedback (in fact, feedback is important for any skill you want to develop, but I digress). I'm also open to input in terms of the direction of the story – while I have already written a great deal, I find myself editing and re-editing all the time, so please provide feedback if you have any! Most of my ideas for the story come from discussing it with my friends and debating the possibilities. I'd love to do the same with all you readers!

Anyways, this first chapter is just a prologue that I very recently added to give you a chance to get to know the main character. It offers a little back story about her life situation directly before transportation to Middle Earth. However, if you prefer you can skip it and still understand the story. Like I said, if you want to know the main character better, it should be helpful. (By the way, these author's notes will never be this long in the future, haha.)

Warning: The M rating is for the high probability of lemons later on.

The morning air was uncharacteristically cool as a young woman stepped outside her door. A harsh wind whipped past and she shivered before turning to head back into the townhouse. It was late June and yet the recent stormy weather managed to bring the temperature down to the low sixties. She jogged upstairs to her room, the one with the walls completely covered with posters and wall scrolls: a map of Westeros hung next to a poster of Johnny Cash flipping the bird, beside a wall scroll of Vegeta, and beside that, a wall scroll of Link. At 22 years of age she still held onto her favorite tales.

She glanced at her cell phone sitting on her computer desk. A flashing blue light indicated a new text message. Her eyes went from her door to the phone, and she gave into the urge to check. It was a text from her good friend, Derek, which read:

Catch later today? We have beeeeer.

PS: Andrew bought new arrows and a glove.

The girl smiled and quickly typed her response before setting the phone back down. She hesitated a moment and contemplated whether or not she truly wanted to leave her digital connection to the world at home. Suddenly the phone came to life, the strong vibrations rattling the entire desk as the Tristram theme song filled her room. "Aaron…" she muttered, and remembered why she intended to leave the phone behind, the reason she decided to go for a walk in the first place. Furthermore, the reason she moved back home with her father: after three years with the same man, she realized she could no longer tolerate his alcoholism. He, however, had no desire to end the relationship, and in the last week his calls and texts came endlessly.

She sighed, pulled on a brown zip-up hoody, and left the room without another thought about the phone. She would not allow herself to regret her decision – the change was difficult but good, her friends and family told her. Positive stress was the term they used in psychology, the kind that came from happy life events, like weddings or the birth of children. Or breaking up with jerks, she added in her head. As she passed through the kitchen she stole a glance at a particular piece of mail she opened just that morning. Another bit of so-called positive stress…

That morning she received a letter of acceptance from her first choice of graduate schools. While this news was undoubtedly good, she found herself overwhelmed by the prospect of such a challenge. She would have to acclimate to a new school, new professors, and meet new people. Butterflies danced wickedly in her stomach and she averted her gaze. A walk was in order, a nice quiet walk, with no interruptions from Aaron, where should could gather her thoughts. She left the townhouse and locked the door behind her, setting out towards the little path through the woods just a few blocks away.

With the advent of her acceptance letter she also wondered whether or not she should leave her second job at the bicycle store. She began working there when she was just 17, a high school kid, and she knew she would miss the guys if she left... But the heavy course load she expected to receive in graduate school left her apprehensive about working fulltime. Besides, she reasoned, I still have my weekend job at the hospital.

She jammed her hands in the pockets of her hoody, disgruntled about her indecisiveness on the matter. Her friend Erin was looking for a roommate and she would happily oblige, but her weekend job alone wouldn't cut it if she had to pay rent; then add utilities, groceries, all those miscellaneous expenses into the mix, plus all the things she surrendered to Aaron that she would have to buy new, like dressers and cutlery. She could feel a headache coming on. Not only that, but she wanted to get ahead on her student loans from undergrad, especially now that she'd have to take out more loans for graduate school. She halted a moment. "But if leave the bike shop… ugh," she grunted. She continued to walk, turning off the sidewalk into the opening of the forest path. She could hear the river bumbling along next to the path, and her frown began to fade into a faint smile.

She always liked the little river – "The Mighty Duper" people called it in her hometown, the good old Du Page River. She'd waded through it with her brothers and the neighborhood boys too many times to count, as the water was shallow and the current gentle. She played and biked between the trees of the forest preserve just a little ways up the path – maybe her tree was still there, and she decided she would go and find out.

It took only a few moments for the river to come into view as the path leaned in closer to the water. The young woman stepped through the short foliage at the edge of the water and peered down at her reflection. Distorted as it was, she could see her oval-shaped face and straight nose, her hazelnut brown hair that went down just past her shoulders. A small smile crept across her lips; her bottom lip was fuller than the top, but both before and after braces people told her she had a pretty smile. A small, black ring pierced her bottom lip on the left side to match the black industrial bar in her right ear. She pushed her long bangs behind her ears and gingerly made her way back to the path, anxious to find her old spot in the forest preserve.

I commend you if you made it through the dull prologue, but hey, I have to introduce my OC somehow, right? Now head on over to the first chapter where things start to get interesting! Also, reviews are always appreciated! Thanks for reading :)