Author's Note: This was written at Arahiril's request at the Faramirexchange LJ community. As my OC here, I have used a character I wrote in my drabble Respite, one of The Nine Drabbles. Also, I owe some of this story's ideas to Cressida and her wonderful work The Fifteenth of January. Both can be found here.
Many thanks to Illwynd and Cressida, who were both so sweet that they agreed to be my beta readers for the story!
For the Rangers at Henneth Annûn, that night was more welcome than any other.
They had fought a short but fierce skirmish against a Haradric company; the Rangers made a successful ambush, and that allowed them to get off rather lightly. Ten of them were wounded, including their Captain, who was departing for Minas Tirith with a report on the following day. Faramir would join the escort of the three Rangers whose injuries needed care that could only be provided in the Houses of Healing; he himself had only taken a cut to his arm, not too deep.
Faramir was quite determined to get a good night's sleep before departing, but that was not to be. He was apparently tired to the point that sleep evaded him.
After a while of tossing and turning, he got to his feet. Often, a walk would help in a fix like this. Or a friendly talk – surely that would not distract the Ranger who was the sentry at the entrance that night.
Faramir walked out onto the wide doorstep, and the man outside immediately turned around, hands reaching for his weapons. However, he instantly recognized his Captain.
'Is…is anything wrong, Captain Faramir?' he asked in an alarmed tone.
'No, all is quiet,' Faramir answered. 'But wait…you are Andir, are you not? You joined us but a week ago.'
'So I did,' the Ranger replied, nodding. Faramir came nearer, barely able to see the sentry's face in the scarce light of the crescent moon. Andir was the youngest of them all, a lad of twenty years of age, and in the week he had spent at Henneth Annûn, he had managed to win over every single older Ranger. He was as lively and bouncy as a young dog; however, when he needed, he could shame any cat with his silent steps and perfectly balanced moves. Andir was a born Ranger, young as he was.
'But what are you doing here at this hour, Andir?' Faramir asked. 'I thought I had ordered for no one to be put on sentry duty after they have been in a fight…'
'I offered to carry it out myself,' the young Ranger replied quietly. 'I cannot sleep anyway, so I thought I might as well make myself useful and let someone else rest.'
Faramir took another step and stood beside the lad, casting a sideways glance at him. 'Because of the ambush?'
Andir nodded and sighed quietly.
'I have fought before…there had been two smaller ambushes, but somehow…somehow they did not make me feel the way I do now,' he confessed, looking at his Captain.
Faramir smiled with sympathy and gently put a hand onto the younger man's shoulder. 'I think I know the cause of your unrest this time,' he said.
'Yes. Those two other ambushes…they were Orcs, right?'
The lad nodded.
'And today…you had to fight Men. That is what makes the difference for you.'
Andir looked down, where the water was falling endlessly onto the sharp rocks. 'That is true…' he said almost in a whisper. 'Men just like me…except that they chose the other side.'
They stood in silence for a while, until Andir spoke again. 'Perhaps…perhaps thinking that makes me a worse defender of my land. After all, they are all enemies of Gondor, and we must fight them, whoever they are.'
'Then I am just as bad a defender of Gondor as you are,' Faramir said, giving his shoulder a gentle squeeze. 'I had these same thoughts when I had just become a Ranger, and they still revisit me quite frequently.'
'That gives me hope, for certain,' the young Ranger said earnestly. Faramir smiled.
'I think such thoughts can only do you credit, Andir,' he said. 'Not everyone is born to be a warrior, and those who are not often suffer at times like ours. And still, we all fight. Some fight for the exhilaration of the battle; some for a reward; and others still because they know it is the right thing to do, even if they fear it or simply do not enjoy it.'
'I think I understand, Captain Faramir,' he said. 'I hardly hated those Haradrim we fought today; I just knew they were enemies that we had to slay…or even Orcs, for that matter. Those are, after all, sentient creatures too; we only know that they have speech, but do they also have friends with whom they crack jokes? Do they have homes to return to? Do they ever look at the fiery Orodruin and enjoy the sight the way we enjoy looking at the starry sky at night?'
He sighed again.
'Perhaps it is good we do not know that,' he said. 'Could we fight our enemies at all if we knew everything about them?'
'I believe both you and I fight for that last reason I mentioned, Andir,' Faramir said. 'That is why we ask ourselves all those hardly answerable questions. They might be answerable at the time of peace…but we have war here. A long defeat, I have heard people say; but I daresay the defeat would be a rather short one if we never stopped to reflect in the midst of our actions.'
'Many would not agree with you, Captain Faramir,' Andir said with a faint smile.
Faramir laughed softly. 'I should not be offended. There are many that I do not agree with.'
Andir produced a quiet laugh too, followed by a wide yawn. Faramir patted him on the shoulder.
'See, your Captain has managed to talk you to sleep, Ranger,' he said. 'Go inside and wake the man who is supposed to be on duty here; I shall wait for him and then seek my own bed.'
'I shall do so,' Andir said, nodding. 'And…thank you.'
And with that, he disappeared in the darkness of the cave, leaving his Captain to reflect upon their talk with a smile on his face.