Notes: Written for the 2015 b2mem, for starbrow’s prompt “I'd love to see a 5 times (or 5 + 1) story about Gandalf stopping off in The Prancing Pony for a drink on his way to/from the Shire, and what Barliman thinks of him, and how that changes over time.”
Since I chose the drabble format, I could not adhere too closely to the prompt. I hope it’s still an interesting enough reading.
Also for lotr_community March Challenge: b2mem prompt.
“The Wizard is coming!” the children in Bree shouted, running. Barly wanted to come too, because he had heard the older ones telling stories about the wizard’s magic tricks, but Daddy wouldn’t let him and Mommy quickly found him a chore.
But Barly didn’t want to carry logs. He wanted to see fireworks. He slipped out and tried to climb to the wizard’s wagon with the other boys. Before he reached them, Daddy caught him. Daddy beat him often but this time… Barly didn’t remember much, only the wizard whispering strange words over him, taking the pain from his head.
“The child is going to die before midnight,” old hag Figgins said, as she shoved little Liam back to his crib.
Barliman held his wife tighter as both cried. His first and only son was the light of his life. He only wanted a chance to be a good Dad to him. It was not fair. And now… now someone knocked insistently on the door.
“We’re closed,” Barliman bellowed between sobs.
The locked doors opened and the wizard entered. “Stop this nonsense,” he said. He whispered foreign words and slowly Liam’s eyes opened.
“Thank you, sir,” Barliman said, between sobs.
Barliman’s youngest, Bessie, was to be wed. The only problem was that Barliman didn’t trust her betrothed. Growing up, the damned boy had caused more property damage than he could remember and had stolen fruit from every tree within three leagues of Bree. Later, he had thrown pebbles at the windows of every single girl in town.
Now he said he had a job and that he was going to make Bess a good husband. Gandalf chuckled when Barliman confided his fears.
“Fear not, my friend. The lad’s heart is kind. She will be happy!”
Barliman gave them their blessing.
Fee was getting older. No more children for them. Barliman loved all his twelve children but he could see that bearing and raising them taken a toll on his wife. Her knees were the worst, swelling all the time until they had become two red masses and walking was a torment for Fee. Sometimes she cried, and no one knew why. But the old man brought her an herb that made her laugh and took the pain away. It was for tea, but sometimes the two of them smoked it. Barliman smiled. Maybe the next time, he would join them.
Friends of the King! Who would have thought! Barliman had known the old wizard for all his life. Sometimes he had been scared of him. People said things about the old man. Also, Barliman still had a nightmare to this day, where he was little and scared and the wizard was there, but it wasn’t him who was scary. And the wizard could be short of temper. Yes, sometimes Barliman was fearful of him, but he was also grateful. Gandalf had saved Liam. And had always brought ointment for Fee’s joints. Gandalf was a good friend. Of kings and innkeepers.