Never Too Late to Change by Linaewen

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Story Notes:

Written for the Back to Middle-earth Challenge 2016, from a 2011 prompt -- the consequences of refusing to change.

"No!" said Denethor emphatically.  "I refuse."

"Please reconsider, Father!" Faramir begged.  "What will they say when...?"

"I care very little for what people say about me," interrupted the Steward.  "When I choose a course of action, it is because I know the circumstances and I make my decision accordingly.  In this case, time is of the essence, and all other matters take second place, even personal matters.  I know my own mind, and it is made up.  I will not change."

"You are being stubborn, Father! cried Boromir angrily.  "Faramir is right; you cannot go forward on this course.  It is folly!  I know you care nothing for how people might talk, but if you do not change, you will certainly regret it.  No matter how important arriving on time is, what good is it if you make a bad impression?  You really must listen to us, and change, or the consequences will be grave indeed."

"What grave consequence could there be, other than arriving late to an exceedingly important council session and making a bad impression due to my tardiness?  I cannot afford the time to change!"

"Which is worse, Father -- arriving late or having the council members laugh at you?"

"L..laugh?" Denethor faltered.  "Surely they will not laugh..."

"How can they not when you go dressed like this!"  Boromir stooped down, and lifting the edge of Denethor's robe, he indicated the long jagged tear in the hem of the garment.

"It is nothing." Denethor dismissed the matter with a wave of his hand.  "No one will notice."

"Father, you can barely walk without tripping on it." Faramir's words were gentle but firm.  "They will definitely notice."

"Take the time to change, Father.  It is not too late to do so," Boromir urged.  "You will not regret it.  You are the Steward of Gondor, you have the right to be late to a meeting you have called yourself.  But you cannot arrive looking like this!  Even if the Council does not laugh, they will not be able to pay attention to your presentation due to wondering why you are at such an important session in torn clothing.  It will distract them so much that they will not hear your words."

"He speaks the truth, Father," Faramir agreed.

Denethor hesitated, scowling.  "It is of utmost importance that they listen to what I have to say," he said at last.  "I cannot afford the Council's inattention."

"And you do not want them to laugh at you," Boromir added.  "Or to go home to tell their wives, so that they too will laugh..."

Denethor shuddered.  "No, that must be prevented at all costs!  Very well, then.  I will change, even if it makes me late."

"A wise decision, Father!"  Faramir said reassuringly.  "If you hurry, the Council will hardly know you are late."

"But have a care on the stair," Boromir called after his retreating father.  "Do not trip, or then you will have to deal with more than being late!"

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