20. Day 20: A Different Kind Of Preparation (Bergil, Beregond)
"Why?" They seemed to ask, and at fourteen, Bergil did not really have much of an answer. The determined set of his father's shoulders willed him to at least try to come up with one.
"Let us review this again, Bergil," Beregond said. "Master Iorlas tells me that you refused to write your report on the siege of Minas Tirith. Twice. 'Came most unprepared to his lessons,' were his exact words."
His father held his stare.
Bergil ducked his head.
"You know the material." An unexpected hitch of his father's voice made him look up. "May I ask why?"
No. Please, do not make me say it.
"Bergil." More forcefully. "May I ask why?"
Do you remember that look on your father's face when he tells you to do something? The way he waits with the utter conviction that you will do as asked, and how you feel like you would do anything but disappoint those hopes? What do you do when either path leads to disappointment?
You take the path that also involves obedience.
"Master Iorlas," Bergil began in a very small voice, "wanted a detailed summary of the key players and what their...roles...their duties were...during the siege."
"That is easy enough; you were there."
"Wherein...lies the problem?"
Bergil had never felt more uncomfortable in his whole life. His eyes fixed on a lose thread that dangled from the cuff of his shirt as he tried to find the words to tell his father.
"Bergil," Beregond said, kneeling beside him. "Why would you not write this assignment? I know it is not because of willfulness, as master Iorlas has suggested. I will stand by you, son, but you must give me the reason."
There were those eyes again... Oh, confound it!
"Since I was there, I would have to write everything I knew, right?"
"If not, I would be lying."
"Yes, methinks you would."
"Well?" he asked, projecting into his stare everything that was in his heart, hoping that his father would read it, and understand.
Something passed through Beregond's face—something that made Bergil hold his breath.
"Son, what did you learn from the siege of Minas Tirith?"
Bergil did not have to think to answer. "I learned that everyone can and must do his part—no matter your age or station, there is always something to contribute."
Bergil smiled. "That the most important duty is to one's own heart, and to what one believes is right. A clean record is but a poor substitute for a clean conscience."
Beregond smiled—Bergil thought he would forever remember that smile, for as long as he lived—and squeezed his son's shoulders. "In this, at least, was Iorlas mistaken: you are not at all unprepared, my Bergil."
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.