Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Chyntuck, Jan 21, 2018.
She's back, and we have the happily ever after. Such a sweet, sweet story!
Thank you for the reviews and thanks to everyone who stopped by to read!
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed this story, and I am doubly grateful that you took the time to read it, because I experienced how difficult it is to keep one's headcanon straight while reading yours. I won't say that this is my last Thrawn & Ayesha fic because never say never, but now that I wrote this I do feel that this cycle has run its course and that it's time to read and enjoy other Thrawn stories. I'm looking forward to the next updates to yours!
Thanks for this, and THANK YOU once more for all the time, energy and passion you dedicated to beta-reading Ἀνάγκη! You motivated me to come up with a sequel that wouldn't be quite as tragic as the original ending and that would be satisfying for you, and I hope I managed to do that here. The very mushy epilogue is coming right up. I'll never manage to write mush as mushily as you, but I tried hard here and I can say that I learned from the best!
Thanks again to everyone who's been reading this. And now, the end of the story...
“Thriyé! You had enough of those already! Come here now!”
The toddler stuffs a last handful of berries in her mouth and runs out of the vegetable garden enclosure towards her mother’s arms. Her lips and palms are purple from the crushed fruit, but Ayesha lifts her off the ground and hugs her nevertheless. They are wearing identical outfits of baggy trousers and a tunic that she stitched together from the hide of animals he hunted, and they are laughing as if smearing sticky wasaka juice all over themselves is the most entertaining activity in the galaxy. It is a moment of pure joy, and he savours it to the fullest. He knows how much it has cost them – how much it has cost her – to make it possible at all.
Every day, several times a day, there are moments such as this one where he is reminded of her generosity. He is still in awe that she found it in her heart to forgive him without really knowing what she was forgiving him for. Every night, when their child has gone to sleep, he thinks of broaching the subject. She has the right to know what he did, what he is atoning for. But he cannot bring himself to speak of it. Not because she will think less of him – as she should, as he richly deserves – but because it might send her hiding behind the fortifications of her soul once more.
Instead, he has written it down. Their story, his story, his plans to kidnap the Solo children and hand them over to a mad Jedi clone – he has recorded it all in a datapad that is now stored in the compartment under her workshop table, together with the letter she wrote to him before she snapped. He told her where to find it if she ever wants to know. He told her that, even if she never reads it, she should give it to their daughter when Thriyé is old enough to understand. Thriyé, too, has the right to know. She has the right to know why her mother sometimes becomes still as a statue, what her father did to cause it, what he did to bring her back.
Ayesha smiled and said it didn’t matter. She said that she didn’t need to remember, that some things are best left in the past. But he saw that, later that day, she removed the Screaming Woman from the table in the lounge and put it away with his datapad. For a little more than a year now, the spot on the table is empty. They are still building the life they have, but she has told him in her own way that his failures belong in the days of yore.
He can only hope that they will be able to live their new future together.
Perhaps it was caused by the fact that he is even more driven to protect his daughter now that she is born, or by that recurring pang of pain in the old wound to his chest and shoulder – or, perhaps, he should simply admit that he is still ambitious, that he is still vain, and that he misses being Grand Admiral Thrawn, the genius strategist, the fearsome warlord who would unite all star systems into a single force to face the coming threat of devastation and death. At any rate, there was a day when he felt compelled to sneak off to the shuttle and learn news of the world beyond this planet. He read on the HoloNet that his clone had been killed, that the Emperor reborn had been defeated, and that the victorious New Republic was rebuilding the galaxy from its ashes. He heard enough on the encrypted frequencies of the Chiss Ascendancy and the Empire of the Hand to understand that the Far Outsiders were assembling a new fleet, and that the invasion would ultimately proceed. For a fraction of a second he was tempted to stand up and tell Ayesha that they must go back to Nirauan, that they must return to their old life, to his old ways, that there is more at stake than her and Thriyé’s immediate well-being – but then he heard his child call for her father, he heard Ayesha’s footfalls on the boarding ramp. He deactivated the data terminal and pretended to busy himself with wiping dust off the surfaces. He has not given it any thought since. He will not be the one to destroy her once more. Saving the galaxy is another’s burden. His own is to care for his lifemate and daughter, and a sweet burden it is.
He remains on the porch swing, gazing at the happiness he does not deserve, until Ayesha and Thriyé come and sit at his side. There is still much that he needs to say, much that he needs to do to be worthy of the gift of their presence. But he is grateful for the moments when there is no need to talk.
* * *
He believes that she has come back for their daughter, but she needs to find a way to persuade him that she has come back for him too.
She hasn’t told him, and he doesn’t know it, but she remembers. She doesn’t remember everything, but she remembers enough. She remembers her dreams of Anakin’s grandchildren and the dark Jedi who wanted to take them away. She remembers that Thrawn was conspiring with C’baoth. She remembers that she had to stop him.
She doesn’t remember what she did. She doesn’t want to remember this – not because she’d rather not know, but because, every time she tried to remember, the price to pay was a few minutes or a few hours of what she has come to call her ‘absences’. She doesn’t want Thriyé to see her like this. She doesn’t want Thrawn to see her like this.
He says that what she did saved his soul. Maybe it has. But she was sentencing her daughter to a life with a mother who wasn’t truly there, and they would not be a family if Thrawn hadn’t brought her back. She can’t recall what happened while she was absent, but at night, she often sees herself surrounded by a white haze enclosed in a soft blue sphere, and she knows that he is outside waiting for her. It may simply be her subconscious telling her that she and Thriyé are safe and loved, because Thrawn is there to care for them and protect them. But she likes to think that this was their life before her awakening – that he didn’t seek to break her barriers, but to give her a reason to come out.
For this, she owes him, and they should call it quits. But, most importantly, she loves him, and he doesn’t appear to know.
In some ways, he reminds her of the early days of their relationship, when he couldn’t seem to fathom why she had chosen him. She often catches him staring at her, scrutinising her as if trying to decipher an unexplainable mystery, and he sometimes thanks her for no particular reason, for things that are so obvious that she thought nothing of doing them. At night, when she lies at his side after putting her daughter to sleep, she can particularly sense his awkwardness. His kiss used to be possessive, his hands used to be demanding. Not anymore. Now he comes across as shy to touch her. He is asking for her permission to give her his caress.
There was a day when he came to her with a datapad and told her that he had written down that of which they cannot speak. She knows that he fears as much as she does that she will sink back into a permanent state of absence, and, as much as she wishes things could be otherwise, she knows that he is right. But he also proved that day that he is not trying to hide, and she wanted to show him that she understood. Years ago, she had sculpted the Screaming Woman for him as a way to tell him about herself. Ten years on, it is no longer who she is. The never-ending turmoil of her mind is still there, of course – but it does not define her. She chose, long ago, to share her life with him, and she does not regret it. It is time for them both to acknowledge that.
She removed the Screaming Woman from the table and put it away with his datapad. It has been over a year, but, while he seems to have understood that her pain belongs in the past, he still appears to be uncertain about the future. She sees it in his eyes when she brings Thriyé to sit at his side on the porch swing. She needs to find a new way to tell him that she loves him, that the future is now.
She has been trying to create a sculpt to display in lieu of the Screaming Woman, one that would depict them as a family, in the workshop that he has built for her. But even in this precious environment where her every need is attended to, Thriyé took up too much of her time to allow her to engage in such a project. However, it now dawns on her that the sculpt Thrawn needs to see already exists. He knows that they are a family; he has given up on every other aspect of his life to make it possible. What he needs to hear is that they are a family not only for Thriyé’s sake, but also for themselves.
She leaves her daughter with her lifemate and makes her way to the workshop. The Lovers are standing on the corner of the shelf, a reminder of another time when she was losing her way and he brought her back. She wipes the dust off the scented wood to bring out its golden polish, and she carries the sculpt to the table in the lounge. The gap left by the absence of the Screaming Woman – the gap between Thrawn and her – is instantly sealed. This is who they are. This is who they will continue to be.
Dang, you really know how to pull at a woman's heartstrings- do you know that? Lovely finale. Expect chapter 22 on Sunday.
Gorgeous and poignant. The momentary "I have to return" -- the undeniable tug to the world outside was transitory but realistic. It makes his continued choice and prioritizing of their family all the sweeter.
Ayesha's POV -- it is so beautiful and candid because she does love her family so much and actually remembers more than he guesses.
This last bit was especially wonderful:
The gap left by the absence of the Screaming Woman – the gap between Thrawn and her – is instantly sealed. This is who they are. This is who they will continue to be.
The warmth and tenderness speak for themselves as Thriye will never ever doubt her parents loved her and one another.
Sorry, that I did not react any earlier, because I have a few obstacles to deal with at present.
Thanks for letting us into the minds of our tragic heroine, Thrawn and the baby. It was a bitter-sweet ride. You are truly amazing!
Oh, gorgeous. So gorgeous!
What an amazing follow up to your epic. Such tenderness on both their parts, forgiving and being forgiven, hoping and fulfilling each other.
Its an intresting new prespective on Thrawn,to see him outside of his rank as Grand Admiral, as a miliatry officer in general, but instead as a private person. Its nice to see that even in his private life he is as dedicated and careing to everything as he is in the military.
I don't know the OCs but it was an intresting insight into their story.
Oh, this story!!
I can't even begin to tell you how much joy it brought me to read this tale, Chyn. This was such a fitting 'happy ending' for Thrawn and Ayesha - such healing, such closure! Yep. I am quite the happy fangirl, no doubt about it!
The highest praise that I can think to give was that this story stuck with me for days after reading it. So much of Star Wars is the intrensic nature of good vs evil - but this brought the epic space opera down to such an intimate, human level. There was no clean cut line between right and wrong here; instead there's just a family with it's share of ghosts, where love proves to be stronger than fear and trauma. I have such a smile on my face, even scrolling back through the text now to search for quotes!
Because . . .
Now THIS fascinated me. That's the ultimate sign of true love from Thrawn - that he's not only able to give up a career he loves, but his ego, in a sense, in thinking that he's the only being poised - or even capable - of taking on the Far Outsiders when they come. Here, his family wins out over his ambition/duty - and it presents the very intriguing possibility of there still being a Thrawn to fight in the future, if it comes to that. I know he checks in on the galaxy again in a few years, and rightly decides to leave it be - but what about when their daughter grows? Will she be curious about life beyond their little world? Will Thrawn be able to stand so passively by indefinitely? Will Ayesha?? I'm so intrigued for their future future that I can't even say.
THIS. Thrawn trying to reach her through her art - which has always been so highly symbolic and valued between the both of them was so incredibly poignant.
Everything he did to care for her was touching, that said - from building their home, to taking care of her physical needs - he was so patient and tender. There's a lot of guilt fueling his actions, yes - but he's always been hyper aware of everything she needs on a physical level and determined to provide for her - sometimes to the point of thinking he knows best in the past! Now, he simply understands what she needs from him emotionally, too. He's not one to shy from a challenge, especially when the stakes are this personal. Together, they triumph.
Everything about the Little Soul and the Whiteness and the Wall and Beyond was the perfect vehicle to convey how Ayesha was protecting herself and their daughter. The lyricism in your prose was so lovely to read! Then, I love how Ayesha returns to the outside world through her child. She answers to the Little Soul's curiosity for the Beyond, and slowly losses her fear until she needs all of her courage to join her daughter outright and the Other! All of these passages so tugged at my heart.
Emotional gut punch warning; emotional gut punch warning!! Such a powerful, beautiful scene!!
Oh! Such a lovely name!! Does it have a meaning, too, in your fanon?
Oh, this poor dear. It's hard enough being a new parent, but he's basically a single parent of two right now for all of the effort he is extending. But that's just what you do for your loved ones - again, he is acting out of love more so than penance, though that guilt is certainly there. I adored the quiet pleasure he took from his caregiving, though. He's healing as much as Ayesha is during this time, in a different way.
OF COURSE!! OF COURSE SHS WAKES UP TO AS SIMPLE AND EVERYDAY A CONVERSATION AS THIS!!
What a perfect way to resolve the tension you'd built. I was as shocked as Thrawn was. But it fit.
Yes!!! I don't have words enough to explain how much I appreciated reading their road to healing. There is truly more love than pain between them - and their daughter is there to anchor and provide them with a tangible reason to continue and fight, each in their own way. I love, again, the role art played in their story. From the Screaming Woman, to an empty space, to the Lovers. What a beautiful way for their story to come full circle.
I know I sound like a broken record - but I'd adore reading anything more you have up your sleeve for this couple - as if you haven't written enough! In the meantime, thank you for sharing this piece. I've truly enjoyed every word.
Caught up at last, and very glad I did. What a wonderfully satisfying and gratifying denouement for Anánke! So amazing to see that “Ayesha’s herself again”—and what’s most amazing is how she gets herself back to that point. I really like the the gradual process you’ve set up throughout the story for her healing from her catatonia, and the views inside her own mind and consciousness as she negotiates that process. The images of the soft whiteness and the Wall show is lot about why she’s stayed in that state for as long as she has. It was a self-protective measure that she took to keep herself and those she loved from ever being hurt again—and pretty understandably so, given how badly she was hurt. We see her very carefully weighing the choice between the white, airy, safe inner world and the less safe world beyond—which is nevertheless the only place where rewarding, beautiful things like love can be found.
Of course baby Thriyé plays such an important role in bringing her mother back. Her curiosity about what’s beyond the Wall, and about the Other out there who loves her too, does so much to motivate Ayesha to venture back as well. Indeed, it’s Thriyé, in a way, who makes her mother aware of Thrawn and his love once again. But it’s ultimately Ayesha who makes the decision to take that plunge, and who brings herself back. Naturally the process of recovery is going to be an ongoing, lifelong one: it makes sense that she would still have occasional “absences” the rest of her life, but she now knows how to come back from them, and that’s no small thing. She’s in more in control of herself and her life than ever—the hopelessness and loss of self, represented by the Screaming Woman sculpture, is all gone. It’s replaced by the dynamic, living sculpture of all of them as a family—and, as we see at the very end, the Lovers, as the emblem of the love she will rebuild with Thrawn.
One thing this all makes me wonder, of course, is to what extent similar things might have gone on inside the mind of Ayesha’s old friend Uumana Kerević. I imagine that perhaps she was farther inside the whiteness than Ayesha was, farther away from the Wall, and she arguably didn’t have quite the same the impetus to come back that Ayesha had in the form of her child. Even so, this story helped me understand a lot better about what happened to both characters.
Thanks for sharing with us this wonderful conclusion to Ayesha’s saga! In a way, though, for her and her family, it’s just the beginning.