30: Do as the wizard says

The hobbits and Gandalf had made good time on their return journey to the Shire, and they were now approaching the village of Bree. Gandalf would leave them after their stay there, but they would have a little while with him at least.

Eventually they reached the village and made straight for the Prancing Pony, where the hobbits were looking forward to the good food and comfortable hobbit beds. They remembered their last eventful stay at the inn, and Frodo was quiet as they approached, but for the most part they were cheerful and unworried.

They received many funny looks from the villagers, Men and hobbits alike, but when they reached the inn and handed Nob their horses, the lad looked at them with wide eyes and reverence.

'And to think last time I met you that you would all become so fine!' he gasped when he saw them in their elven cloaks and rich clothing, remembering the rather tired and muddy hobbits that had arrived at the inn all those months ago, and left with the Ranger in that cloud of speculation.

They proceeded into the inn, the hobbits first and Gandalf behind, and the hobbits made for the bar where Barliman Butterbur was busy serving his customers with pints of ale and golden beer. When he saw the hobbits, his face widened into a smile and he let out an exclamation of welcome, until he saw Gandalf towering over the hobbits when his face instantly fell and his welcome turned into a yelp of surprise and fear.

'Yes, Butterbur, you have reason to fear me,' Gandalf boomed out, and instantly the room fell silent, and it seemed as if it grew darker as the wizard spoke. 'Did I not say that if you didn't send on the letter before the month was out that I would give you a roasting? And did you not only give Mr Baggins here the letter 3 months late? Do you know how much trouble could have been avoided if you had not had a memory as short as your beard!' Gandalf's voice was trembling slightly in anger.

Butterbur began trying to protest, but his voice failed him and he began quaking a little as Gandalf advanced.

'You shall get a roasting, my dear Butterbur; yes indeed,' Gandalf continued, walking forwards towards Butterbur. He leaned in and whispered conspiratorially into Butterbur's ear.

'I expect the very finest rooms, the finest food and ale, and the very best in entertainment.'

Butterbur looked at Gandalf. Was he being serious? He didn't want to think himself out of trouble only to be turned into a mouse or something else unnatural.

'Chop chop, butterbur!' Gandalf said briskly, clapping his hands.

If poor old Butterbur had known, he wouldn't have thought himself so lucky.

After showing the hobbits and Gandalf to the best parlour, he was run off his feet fetching them mug after mug of ale and many platters full of delicious and homely foodstuffs. By the end of it he almost wished he had been turned into a rat; he would have been less tired than this!

When finally Gandalf sent the hobbits off to bed to sleep off the ale, Butterbur quickly took a rest, slumping down on one of the vacated benches.

'Well, my dear Butterbur, I do believe I've worked you hard enough tonight! Hopefully next time I leave you a message you'll actually deliver it!' Gandalf chuckled. Butterbur nodded meekly, and gratefully stood up to go to bed, the bar having been long since cleared of customers.

'Breakfast at eight o'clock sharp, Butterbur! With all the trimmings,' Gandalf threw over his shoulder as he walked off to his bedchamber.

With a sigh, Butterbur slumped down again. He supposed he deserved it! He knew one thing now – if Gandalf told him to do something, he'd do it! Doesn't do anyone any good crossing a wizard.

A/N: Well, this is the last one! For RotK, that is... Due to quite a bit of interest I've decided to extend it! Updates won't be regular - maybe a bit sporadic - but every time I get an idea for an Awkward Moment in the people of Middle-earth's lives after the events of the War of the Ring, I'll write it and post it for you lovely, lovely people! You've all been amazing, sticking with me this far! I really do appreciate it. :)

But for now, Namarië! :D