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Beyond - Legends Saga - Legends Fractured (AU, family drama, OCs, Renewal!verse)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Gabri_Jade, Apr 8, 2022.

  1. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fan Fiction Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Registered:
    Nov 9, 2002
    Title: Fractured
    Author: Gabri_Jade

    Timeframe: 14 BBY - 10 ABY
    Characters: Ronan, Nadira, Nico, and Corissa Jade, mentioned Mara Jade
    Genre: Legends AU, angst, drama, family

    Summary: Nadira Jade never expected to have to go on without her daughter. She could never have imagined just how hard it would be.

    Notes: This is the prequel to Renewal. Despite that, I’d suggest reading Renewal first; however, this should still be comprehensible if you read Fractured first, or even as a standalone (though I’d hope you’d want to read Renewal after reading this :p ). If you’re jumping in here without reading Renewal first, here’s a primer on it:

    When Palpatine took Mara from her family, her parents, Ronan and Nadira, survived despite Palpatine ordering their execution. They left Coruscant and spent years on the run out of fear that Palpatine might be searching for them, during which time they had two more children, Nico and Corissa. They reunited with Mara approximately six months after The Last Command, when they saw mentions of her on news reports about the new Smugglers' Alliance and its liaison and reached out to her.

    The rest of the Renewal!verse so far:
    Renewal
    Fragments of Jade

    Many thanks to @ViariSkywalker for her most excellent beta work and for always offering her firsthand experience with babies and small children to help me depict them realistically [:D]


    ---------------------


    Nadira stumbled as Ronan nearly threw her inside their apartment, quickly shutting and locking the door behind them. “Go pack,” he told her, starting toward the main computer terminal. “Necessities, only what we can carry. We have to leave now.”

    Nadira roughly shoved her disheveled hair back out her eyes, staring at him disbelievingly. “We can’t leave!”

    “They’ll come for us,” he said, hitting the terminal’s power switch. The computer gave its usual slow hum; it was several models behind the cutting edge, and tended to need an extra few seconds to fully power up. Ronan thumped it, cursing under his breath.

    “What are you talking about?” Nadira grabbed his arm, pulling him to face her. “Why are we even here, we need to go back—”

    Ronan grabbed her upper arms, and the intensity in his eyes frightened her. “We can’t get her back right now. We need to get off Coruscant right away, find someplace to hide.”

    “Do you even hear yourself?” Nadira yanked herself from his grasp. Her hair tumbled over her eyes again; she ignored it. “She’s our baby, they have our baby, we can call the security forces—”

    “And say what?” A distinctive hum indicated that the computer was finally ready to use, and Ronan spun back toward it. “That the Emperor took our daughter? Do you think they’ll storm the Palace and confront him?”

    Nadira forced her way between him and the terminal. “I’m not leaving her! What is wrong with you—”

    Ronan took her face in his hands, pinning her in place with his gaze. “Nadira,” he whispered. “He ordered the Guard to kill us. They know Mara’s name. They could be here any minute to finish the job, and then what hope does Mara have? We need to leave Coruscant, get as far away from the Emperor as possible, and we need to do it right now.”

    Her knees were suddenly weak, and she clutched at Ronan’s arms to stay upright. “We can’t!” The words were nearly lost beneath a sob that caught her by surprise. “We’ll never find her—”

    “We’ll look for her,” Ronan said, his voice strangled. “We’ll never stop looking for her. But if we stay here, they’ll kill us, and then there’s no one to look for her, no one to try to get her back.” He shook her gently, and his own breathing was as ragged now as hers was. “We’re all she has, Nadira. We have to stay alive so that we can look for her. Go pack. Please.”

    She stared at him for another endless moment, then found herself stumbling toward the bedroom. In a daze, she pulled their travel bags from the closet and began opening drawers, moving faster and then faster until she felt like a human whirlwind, spinning between the closet, the dresser, the refresher. Clothes, a few changes each, the most versatile ones they had. Necessary toiletries. All the credits they had in the apartment. Dragging the least-full bag to Mara’s room. Mara, her baby, her green eyes wide and terrified as the guard pulled her away, the scream that still echoed in Nadira’s mind—tears were streaming down her face now, her vision blurry. The baby blanket that Mara loved fiercely despite having outgrown it. Her favorite starship model. What else, what else—

    Her eyes fell on the little plush bantha sitting in her usual place of honor on Mara’s bed. Mara had wanted to take it with them to dinner, but Nadira had insisted that Banta was tired and needed to stay home for a nap. The little bantha was by far Mara’s most prized possession, and she would be inconsolable if it were to be lost. Nadira hadn’t wanted to take the chance. And now Mara was gone, alone, frightened, without even her favorite toy to comfort her. Nadira shoved Banta into the bag. They would find her, they had to find her, and she would need Banta.

    She ran into Ronan in the hallway, carrying the family holo album. “I withdrew everything in our bank account and booked us passage offworld under your parents' names. The flight leaves in half an hour.” He took the still-open bag from her and started to put the album into it, then paused, a choked sound escaping him as he caught sight of Banta.

    Nadira took the album from him, swiping at her still-streaming eyes. “I have it. The other bags are in our room.” Ronan set the bag down and touched her cheek briefly before disappearing into their bedroom. Nadira slid the album under Banta and fastened the bag, then took it to the kitchen and began filling a shopping bag with the least perishable food they had.

    She was almost done when Ronan joined her, dressed in different clothes, a bag in each hand and some of Nadira’s own clothes draped over his arm. “I’ll finish that,” he told her. “You need to change. They might have an alert out for us.”

    The logic was flawless. Of course it was. Ronan had always been the practical one. Nadira took the clothes from him and began undressing on the spot, leaving discarded garments where they fell and pulling the new ones on as quickly as she could, then running to the refresher, still fastening her blouse, to pull her hair into a quick bun and splash water on her face. Ronan met her in the living room, now wearing his warmest cape and holding out hers. Their bags were already lined up at the door.

    “What about work?” she asked, pulling the cape on and yanking it into place so that it would lie straight. It wasn’t really cold out, but the approaching evening chill would be enough to keep them from looking out of place, and she didn’t know where he’d booked passage to. If he was grabbing the capes, they’d probably need them.

    Ronan shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. We can’t tell anyone we’re going. Let them wonder.”

    They didn’t have enough savings to last very long without regular pay, especially after buying tickets offworld. Nadira dismissed the thought almost as quickly as it had come. They’d figure it out as they went. They didn’t have any other choice.

    Ronan took her shoulders as her cape settled, and let his forehead rest against hers for a heartbeat. “We’ll find her. We will. But first we have to get offworld, and that means looking casual.”

    Nadira knew he meant you can’t cry and nodded. What else was there to do? He stroked her hair, then handed her two bags and picked the other two up himself, keying open the door as he did so. Nadira looked around, then followed him out of their apartment for the last time.


    ------------------------


    An hour later they were in a tiny cabin on a passenger liner in orbit, the cabin door securely locked while Ronan paced and Nadira sat on the edge of the bed, staring at her hands in her lap. A barely perceptible shudder ran through her, and Ronan suddenly stopped pacing, taking a deep breath. “We’ve jumped to hyperspace,” he said. “We’re safe. At least for a while.”

    Safe, Nadira thought dully. And where was Mara right now? What was she doing, who was watching her? Was she safe?

    She unfastened the bag beside her, intending to change into her nightclothes. Instead, she found herself looking at Mara’s beloved little bantha.

    They should have been finishing dinner right about now, getting ready to return to the apartment, where Ronan would crawl around on all fours with Mara shrieking with laughter on his back, eventually collapsing beneath Mara and pretending to snore so that Nadira could say, “See, Daddy’s fallen asleep, now it’s your turn,” and scoop her up, still giggling, to carry to the refresher to brush her teeth, then to her bedroom where she could be changed into her nightclothes and tucked into bed, holding Banta close as she yawned.

    Mara had never once slept without Banta since the day they’d bought it for her. What if she couldn’t sleep now, wherever she was, because she didn’t have her bantha? Why hadn’t Nadira just let her take it with them tonight?

    Safe within a ship speeding her light years away from her daughter every minute, Nadira no longer bothered to try to contain her sobs.


    ---------------------------


    The days blurred together, and Nadira all but sleepwalked through them, aware only that Mara was missing, always missing, forever missing, because no matter what Ronan said, how could they ever get her back now? The time for that had been in the moment, when Mara was still within reach, but he had dragged her away and left their daughter behind and now they weren’t even on the same planet, and how was Nadira supposed to carry on without her?

    It was more than three weeks after they’d left Coruscant before reality became insistent enough to catch her attention in any meaningful way, at which point Nadira bought a pregnancy test and held her breath as she waited for the results.

    Positive.

    She just stared at it, unable to wrap her mind around the idea. They’d been hoping for exactly this, not so long ago. Mara had brought such joy to their lives that they knew early on that they would want more children. Nadira had been greatly looking forward to being able to explain to Mara that she would be a big sister.

    And now—now she had to find a way to raise another child despite her own crushing grief, without Mara, without a stable home or income, without anything she’d been expecting to be able to count on. How could she ever do this? How could she ever find a way to be a parent again when she could barely face the prospect of living through another day?

    She was drowning, and there was no end in sight.


    -----------------------


    Steam rose more swiftly than Nadira expected as she lifted the pot lid, and she instinctively dropped it, shaking her hand. It landed with a resounding clatter, causing Nico to let loose a particularly loud wail. Since the apartment they were currently staying in only had a single bedroom and refresher off the small main room that comprised the kitchen and living area, there was nothing to block the sound, and it echoed along with the fallen lid.

    Across the room, Ronan glared at her over Nico’s head. “That will definitely get him to sleep, good job.”

    Nadira’s thoughts drifted unbidden to the forlorn plush bantha still tucked away in her travel bag, and to the image of Mara clinging to it every night. Where was she now? How was she sleeping? She was hardly more than a baby herself yet. Did she have anyone to rock her when she cried?

    She bent to pick up the fallen lid and slammed it back onto the pot, noting Ronan’s cringe with grim satisfaction. “He’d sleep better in decent surroundings. Like home.”

    “We’re not going over this again.” Ronan’s voice was low, nearly a growl. “We’d be dead now. So would he.”

    Nico continued wailing, and the grief that was Nadira’s constant companion boiled over into a sudden rage as she spun toward Ronan. “Because this is so much better.”

    Ronan stopped bouncing Nico and went very, very still. Nadira recognized the warning sign, and didn’t care. “At least we’re alive,” he said. “We can still find her—”

    A bitter laugh bubbled out of Nadira before she even realized it. “Find her? We’re half a dozen systems away from her. How exactly are we going to find her?”

    “You’re right,” Ronan said, his eyes alight with an anger that matched hers. “I should have let you charge the armed guards who’d just been ordered to kill you. That would have ended well.”

    “As opposed to this?” Nadira gestured sharply at the dilapidated apartment—all they could afford, and even that was a tenuous thing. “No home, no money, no connections, nothing.” She stepped over to take Nico, who was crying harder than ever, a thin, high-pitched sound that clutched at her heart. “He’ll never know his sister. Because of you.”

    Ronan’s eyes narrowed. “He’s alive because of me.”

    “You still haven’t made a case for how that’s any better,” Nadira snapped.

    They glared at each other as Nico sobbed, and Nadira deliberately turned her back on him. “Dinner’s ready,” she said over her shoulder.

    “I’m not hungry,” Ronan all but snarled, and his receding footsteps were followed by the slam of the bedroom door.

    Nadira bowed her own head over Nico’s and sank into a chair as she wept along with him.


    -------------------------


    Even in her anger, Nadira had regretted those venomous words almost immediately—not that she’d admitted as much to Ronan, even though she should have.

    Two years later, she came home to find Ronan sitting on the couch with Nico on his lap and the family photo album balanced atop Nico’s own tiny lap.

    “This is Mommy’s mommy,” Ronan was saying, pointing at an album page, still unaware of Nadira’s return. “And see the baby she’s holding? That’s your sister, Mara. She likes to take things apart, just like you do. Someday we’re going to find her and bring her home, and then you two can play together.”

    “He’ll never know his sister. Because of you.” Nadira remembered the hateful words she’d once flung at Ronan, and remembered how utterly he’d adored Mara from the very beginning, and burned with shame.

    She closed the front door behind her and put conscious cheer into her voice. “I brought dinner! Who’s hungry?”


    --------------------


    The door had hardly closed behind Ronan before he spoke. “We need to leave by the end of the week.”

    Nadira looked up from the floor, where she was sitting and helping Nico with his blocks, her heart already sinking. “What happened?”

    Ronan took off his cape and tossed it across a chair just in time to scoop up Nico, who had shrieked with delight and abandoned the blocks in favor of dashing over to greet his father. “An Imperial garrison’s been assigned to the city,” Ronan told her.

    It wasn’t really a surprise. The Empire’s military presence had steadily increased over the years, despite all the initial promises of peace and security. But then, whatever Chancellor Palpatine had seemed to be during the Clone Wars, he had clearly either always been a monster or become one since declaring himself Emperor, and a monster’s word couldn’t be trusted.

    “Daddy,” Nico said, blissfully unaware of what his father’s grim words meant for them all. “I made a house!”

    “You did?” Ronan asked him. “Where?”

    “There!” Nico pointed at the precarious stacks of blocks around Nadira, none of which resembled a house in the slightest.

    Ronan grinned and kissed Nico’s forehead. “That’s a great house.”

    “We’ve only been here three months,” Nadira protested. “And you know how tight the finances are.”

    “Nadira,” Ronan said quietly. “Stormtroopers are going to be on every corner within the month.”

    “Surely we can’t be important enough for anyone to still be looking for us,” she argued, almost pleading.

    “Down,” Nico insisted, squirming. Ronan obliged, and Nico ran back to the blocks. “Mommy, now we make a ship!”

    Ronan watched him, then looked meaningfully at Nadira. “Do you really want to take that chance?”

    She looked at Nico, happily starting a new stack, and remembered what it felt like to have a child pulled from her arms. “No,” she whispered.

    “I’ll pull up the list,” Ronan said with a sigh. The list had been one of the routines developed in the first year of their post-Coruscant existence: every time they landed somewhere new, the two of them would compile a list of potential places to run the next time. They’d learned that it was better than scrambling to make that decision under pressure. “We’ll just take the cheapest option.”

    As always. They hadn’t been well off on Coruscant, but she’d never had to make do with so little, either. After nearly four years, that previous life felt more like a dream than anything else.

    “All right,” Nadira said, because what else was there to say? She stood, and Ronan gave her a quick hug before heading for the bedroom.

    Nico frowned as he looked up at her. “Mommy, we have to make the ship.”

    Nadira forced a smile. “Mommy has to help Daddy with something, sweetheart. You go ahead and start the ship, then maybe Daddy can help you finish it.”

    “Okay,” Nico agreed, and carefully placed another block.

    There were only three days left in the week. At least, Nadira resignedly, they didn’t have all that much to pack anyway.


    --------------------------


    Nadira cried when Corissa was born. The attendants assumed it was the normal rush of emotion and hormones that tended to accompany birth. She didn’t tell them that it was more the memory of being handed another tiny, squalling, red-haired girl.

    Later, after she and Corissa were cleaned up and settled, Ronan brought Nico, quiet and wide-eyed, from the medcenter’s childminding area to meet his new sister. He sat beside Nadira on the bed and thoughtfully observed the sleeping baby she held; gently touched her cheek with a small finger. He looked up at Nadira. “Mara will like her,” he said.

    Ronan swooped Nico up into his arms and held him close before he could see the way Nadira was suddenly gasping for air, composure shattered. “Of course she will,” he murmured in Nico’s ear. “She’ll love you both. Just like Mom and I do.” He reached a hand out to Nadira, and, still shuddering, she took it, holding Corissa carefully in one arm as she clung to Ronan like a lifeline.

    Eventually Nico slept as well, and Nadira and Ronan cried together.


    --------------------


    They were on the fringes of the park when Nadira heard it: a woman’s voice, with a frantic edge that she remembered. “Lana?

    Nadira’s breath caught; her pulse suddenly pounded suffocatingly in her throat. Ten meters away, the woman called out again, turning around to look over as much ground as possible, her body tight with a tension visible even from a distance.

    Just beyond her, a small dark head popped up from within the high-edged sandbox. “Mommy?”

    The woman was by the girl’s side in a heartbeat, dropping to her knees to enfold her daughter in her arms. “Don’t hide like that,” she scolded. “You scared me.”

    At Nadira’s side, Nico tugged at her hand and whimpered. “Mommy, you’re hurting me.”

    Nadira inhaled sharply, pulling her gaze away from the woman and her daughter. She was standing as still as a stone, as though she’d always been right in this spot, as though it had never occurred to her to even try to move from it. Her heart was racing, and the metallic taste of adrenaline was in her mouth.

    Worst of all, her hand had clenched like a vise around Nico’s own, his tiny fingers turning white as she looked down. On her other side, her arm was tight around Corissa propped on her hip—so tight that Corissa’s startled brown eyes were beginning to brim with tears, while her breath had the ragged edge that preceded a wail.

    A full body shudder ran through her as she loosened her grip on Corissa and let go of Nico’s hand to press his head against her side. “I’m sorry, baby. Are you okay?”

    He nodded, looking up at her with eyes that held more worry than someone his age should ever feel, but his voice was hopeful. “Can we go on the swings first?”

    The other woman was sitting on the edge of the sandbox now, helping her daughter—Lana—to pack sand into a loose sculpture, harmony restored.

    Nadira couldn’t stop shaking.

    She took Nico’s hand again, careful not to squeeze this time, and turned around. “Not today.”

    Nico turned to watch the park over his shoulder as Nadira pulled him away. “But you said—”

    “Not today,” Nadira said sharply, trying to catch her breath without giving vent to the sob that wanted to escape.

    Corissa whimpered slightly—little Corissa, who was always so bright and happy that they joked she didn’t know how to cry—and buried her head against Nadira’s shoulder. Nico fell into silence, trotting alongside her as Nadira tried to slow her pace enough so that she wouldn’t be dragging him.

    She’d promised him. When they’d moved into the new apartment last week, Nico’s eyes had brightened at the well-equipped park only a block away. She’d promised that once they’d settled in, she would take him there to play. She’d promised.

    But she was still shaking, her heart racing as though the Imperial Guardsman was standing before her again, and she had to get to a safe place before she fell apart.

    Within the apartment, Nico and Corissa were both quiet, Nico bordering on sullen. She couldn’t blame him. She made him a sandwich with trembling hands, and set Corissa in her crib with her favorite plush nerf.

    Once she was sure they were both safely settled, Nadira went to the refresher, buried her face in a towel, and wept.


    --------------------


    “Where’s Mara?”

    Nadira looked up from her plate. Corissa returned the look plaintively. Nadira glanced at Ronan; found his eyes on her as well. They’d never hidden Mara’s existence from Nico and Corissa—couldn’t have if they’d tried. Not when nearly everything they saw reminded them of her. This was the first time that Corissa had thought to ask this question, though.

    “She got stolen,” Nico informed his little sister solemnly. Nico had asked that question several years ago. Trying to explain the concept of kidnapping in anything approaching an objective way had been the second hardest moment of Nadira’s life.

    Corissa slammed her spoon down. “They can’t steal her! She’s ours!”

    Ronan made a choked noise, and Nadira reached across the table to take his hand. How had she ever thought him coldhearted, she wondered. Even in the horror of that moment, even with Mara pulled from her arms, how had she ever believed that Ronan hadn’t felt the same anguish that she had?

    “We’ll find her someday,” Nico said, still solemn. “Won’t we?”

    “Of course,” Ronan assured him, almost steadily. “Of course we’ll find her. And you’ll love her.”

    “Is she looking for us?” Corissa asked.

    Nadira and Ronan exchanged another glance. If she was still alive—stop that, don’t think it, never think it—Mara would be only eleven now. Wherever she was, whatever she was doing, it was unlikely she’d be able to do any such thing. If she even remembered them at all.

    “Don’t worry, sweetheart,” Nadira said. “We’re looking for her. Someday we’ll find her.”

    Corissa seemed mollified, and ate another bite of mashed tubers. Nadira closed her eyes as Ronan squeezed her hand, wishing she had half the faith of her younger daughter.


    -------------------


    “But I don’t want to go.”

    Nico’s voice wasn’t even plaintive, and it was that which broke Nadira’s heart. It was obvious that he didn’t expect his opinion to change anything. She paused in her packing to glance over just as Ronan crouched down to be at eye level with their son.

    “I know you don’t,” Ronan said gently. He had always loved the children so much, and was so natural with them. She loved that about him. “It’s hard for all of us.”

    “Then why do we do it?” Now a hint of plaintiveness crept in.

    Ronan hesitated. They’d known this question would come someday, and had discussed how to handle it. Unfortunately, they hadn’t come up with a good answer, sure only that they didn’t want to frighten Nico and Corissa by making them think the family was being hunted. “We have to keep looking for Mara.”

    “Does moving help us find her?” Nico asked, curiosity lighting his eyes somewhat.

    “It might,” Ronan answered, after another brief hesitation.

    “What’s Mara like?”

    Nadira could see the deep breath Ronan took from all the way across the room, and an answering pang rose in her own chest.

    “She loves ships, like you do,” Ronan told Nico softly. “You two will have so much fun together when we find her. Come on, I’ll help you pack your toys.”

    He stood to take Nico’s hand and lead him down the hall, and Nadira took a deep breath of her own. Somewhere—would she be on Coruscant still?—wherever she was, Mara would be thirteen now, and it was getting harder to imagine what the cuddly, bright, mischievous three-year-old might have become with time. She would be soft-spoken like her father, Nadira decided, graceful like Ronan’s mother, and creative like Nadira’s own mother. She would be patient and affectionate with her little brother and sister, and they would adore her.

    Nadira held tight to that thought, and went back to her packing.


    -------------------


    Corissa was seven when she took her first dance class. To say that credits were tight was an understatement; they had just arrived on Crespa, and securing a short-term rental was always more expensive than the long-term ones were. But it had only become more obvious with time that Corissa was a born dancer like her grandmother, and her eyes had gone wide with awe when she saw the holo ad for a local dance studio.

    “I want to do that,” she breathed, barely above a whisper, as she stared. On the holo display within the shop window they were walking past, a girl only a little bit older carefully replicated a ballet position that Nadira remembered seeing Ronan’s mother teaching to her own students. “Mommy, Daddy, I can do that. I can, I know I can. Please?”

    Ronan and Nadira exchanged glances. “We’ll look into it,” Ronan said.

    “Daddy, I have to,” Corissa insisted, then turned to wrap her arms around Nadira’s waist and gaze up at her, the faintest sheen of impending tears in her brown eyes. “Mommy, please. I’ll be so good, and I’ll never ask for anything else. Just this. Please.”

    Nadira knew the state of their finances. She also knew how much Nico and Corissa had gone without in their young lives, and that if Ronan’s mother hadn’t been in that speeder crash and if the family was still on Coruscant, Corissa would have been having one-on-one lessons from the time she could stand. In a moment of reckless determination, she stroked Corissa’s coppery hair and nodded firmly. “All right.”

    Ronan stared at her. Corissa shrieked with joy and released Nadira to spin wildly in place, her hair streaming. Nico’s brow knit. “That’s not fair,” he said. “What do I get to do?”

    If she was going to conjure up dance lessons they couldn’t afford, what was one more impossible request? “I bet there are drawing classes around here somewhere,” she told Nico. “Would you like to take one?”

    Nico’s own joy was far quieter than his sister’s, but Nadira knew all the telltale signs: the soft intake of breath, the almost-smile, the sudden brightness in his green eyes, so like hers and Mara’s. “Yes!”

    Nadira could feel Ronan’s eyes on her, and carefully didn’t look.

    Later, after Nico and Corissa were asleep, Ronan let his head fall into his hands as he sat at the kitchen table, raking his fingers back through his hair. “I don’t even have a job yet, Nadira. You only have a part-time job. We aren’t even sure we can make the rent next month.”

    “We’ll make it work,” Nadira told him. Her earlier determination remained, although now mixed with a deep worry. He was right, they didn’t have the money. But Corissa’s entire heart had been in her eyes as she begged, and she asked for so little. “They have to have something normal in their lives.”

    “Do you think I don’t want the same?” Ronan demanded. “But we also need a roof over our heads, and food on the table, and credits for the next move.”

    “We’ll make it work,” Nadira repeated. “This is what I do. And there are at least three mechanic shops within a five-klick radius. You’ll get something.”

    Ronan glared at her, but the promises had already been made, and couldn’t be taken back. “I guess we’d better hope so.”

    Nadira registered the children for their classes the next day. It was another week before Ronan found a job. They made the next month’s rent by the skin of their teeth, and only because Ronan and Nadira both skipped lunch every day until the payment was made.

    Nico and Corissa, meanwhile, were overjoyed. Corissa practiced the steps she learned with an all-consuming focus. Drawing had always been Nico’s favorite pastime; now his endless artwork took on new detail and precision, still childishly rough, but even Nadira could see the potential that lay within. Far more precious, though, was the way Nico’s overly serious demeanor lightened as he sketched with a new purpose, and how his smiles came more easily. What were a few missed meals in exchange for that?

    And if Nadira sometimes thought that in a happier reality, Corissa’s lessons, at least, would have been free—well. You did what you could with what you had. Her children were more content than perhaps they’d ever been. She’d do whatever she had to in order to keep them that way.


    ------------------


    “Did you hear about Contruum?” Nico said one day after school.

    Nadira glanced over at him. At fourteen, he was already an inch taller than her. She rather thought that he’d inherit Ronan’s height. “What about it?”

    “They got rid of the Empire last year.” Nico finished rummaging in the cupboard, coming up with a bag of tuber crisps. “Zaen was talking about it at lunch. It used to be occupied, but they fought back and the Empire actually left the whole system. Zaen said that if the Death Star hadn’t been destroyed, the Emperor would have destroyed Contruum because of it, like he did Alderaan.”

    The mention of Alderaan and the Death Star was enough to make Nadira shudder—wasn’t it bad enough to have to choose between worlds with an Imperial presence or those where criminal gangs took full advantage of the Empire’s absence without worrying about whether an entire planet would be obliterated from orbit?—but her sudden intense curiosity about Nico’s story overrode the instinctive reaction. “I hadn’t heard that, no,” she said, trying to keep her voice casual. “Are you sure it’s not an exaggeration? I’ve never heard of the Empire leaving a planet completely, let alone a whole system.”

    Nico, who had just put an entire handful of crisps in his mouth at one time, shrugged. It took a minute before he’d finished chewing enough to speak again. “That’s why I thought it was interesting. But I haven’t checked it.”

    “Mmm,” Nadira said. “It is interesting. Maybe I’ll look it up myself.”

    “Okay,” Nico replied, heading out of the kitchen, crisps bag in hand. “Tell me if it’s true. I have math homework.”

    “Don’t eat that entire bag,” Nadira called after him. “Dinner isn’t that far off.”

    Nico waved noncommittally, his mouth full again, and disappeared down the hall.

    Her heart in her mouth, Nadira reached for her datapad and pulled up news reports for the Contruum system. Twenty minutes of reading was enough to verify what Nico had said. There had been an insurrection on Contruum, and it had done the unthinkable. The Empire had actually retreated.

    But dinner still had to be made, and when Ronan came home the children pounced on him as always, and to pull him aside would raise their suspicions. So Nadira went about her evening as though nothing was out of the ordinary, smiling and carrying on with the usual dinner time conversation and then helping get Corissa settled for bed while Ronan and Nico bonded over some mechanics periodical.

    Eventually Nico also went to bed, and when she was sure he was asleep, Nadira showed Ronan the reports.

    It took the better part of the month for them to research Contruum thoroughly, but everything they found confirmed that the Empire was avoiding the system, and Contruum itself seemed perfectly suited for them, with an established shipbuilding industry, a variety of prestigious universities, and a mixture of cities and arable land, without the ecological devastation of places such as Eriadu. They could find affordable housing in one of the cities where she and Ronan could easily find jobs. Nico, already sure that he wanted to work in ship design, could attend one of the applied sciences universities, while there was an equally thriving arts culture where Corissa could continue her dance studies. They would still be near natural environments, something both Ronan and Nadira had come to value after leaving Coruscant.

    And there would be no Imperial presence. Maybe not ever. The Death Star may have been destroyed, but the Empire still had the starfleet, yet not once in the year since their withdrawal had there been any repercussions. No Destroyers in orbit, no new garrisons, no planetary bombardments. It might be safe.

    Corissa had yet to pay much attention when they moved, so long as she could still dance wherever they ended up. Nico, on the other hand, had started falling into a depression each time they did. Progressively more worried about the effect it was having on him, Nadira and Ronan had been trying to keep the moves to a minimum for the last several years, but the Empire was everywhere they turned, and the fear of what that might mean for them all precluded their truly settling anywhere. Now Contruum offered that possibility.

    Four months later, after much planning and watching Contruum in case of an Imperial change of heart, they made what Nadira desperately hoped would be their last move.


    -------------------


    Ronan found work immediately at a repair shop owned by a kindly Besalisk named Balram, and it only took another two weeks for Nadira to get hired as an accountant for one of the local schools. The combined income was enough to rent a better apartment than they’d had for some time, as well as keep Nico and Corissa in their usual art and dance lessons.

    Corissa, to no one’s surprise, adored her new dance teacher, adored the city they’d chosen, adored her school, adored everything—an indefatigable ray of sunshine personified. Nico, on the other hand, was particularly quiet and withdrawn for more than a month, but even he seemed to perk up more quickly than he usually did after a move. Nadira did her best to encourage that, paying him extra attention and making his favorite meals as often as possible, and before long he too appeared to be settling in.

    Nadira and Ronan stayed ever watchful for any hint of incoming Imperials, but it never came. Nico became ever more comfortable, Corissa remained cheerful, and Nadira and Ronan’s jobs paid well. So well, in fact, that it took only a year for them to consider the unthinkable: maybe they could finally buy their own place. A house, even, rather than their usual apartments. The children were getting older and deserved more space of their own. Maybe they could even have a yard, a small patch of ground that was their very own.

    As Nadira’s mother would have said, the Force must have been with them, because the owners of the very first house they looked at, an older couple who were moving to be nearer their adult daughter and her children, were so taken with Nico’s solemn courtesy and Corissa’s exuberance that they pulled Nadira and Ronan aside and actually offered to drop the price by several thousand credits.

    “We’re not hurting for credits,” the wife told them, “and you still have children to raise. And they seem to like the place.”

    “They do,” Ronan replied, glancing wide-eyed at Nadira. “We all do.”

    “Well, then,” the husband said, as if the matter was settled.

    And so they bought their first ever house, smallish, yet larger than any other place they’d lived—and by now, that was a long list. It not only had the wished-for yard and bigger rooms than they were accustomed to, but also an extra bedroom and a small storage area that could easily be used as an office if need be. After all, even with the lower price, this was still an extravagant purchase, and with a quiet place to work, Nadira could take on the occasional freelance job to help cushion the expense. Meanwhile, Nico and Corissa could alternate using the extra bedroom for their own activities; it had excellent light and decent floor space, and they’d never had a place outside of their own bedrooms or the main living space before. Maybe later on as they got older, it could become a guest bedroom so they could have a friend stay over if they wanted.

    It was surprising, Nadira thought, not for the first time, how quickly the unthinkable could become reality. For once, though, the unthinkable reality of their lives was something positive.

    They were home.


    --------------------


    One day, toward the end of a particularly busy week where they had been shorthanded at the shop and Corissa forgot to tell her about the snacks she was supposed to bring to class until an hour beforehand and Nico had won second place in his grade’s art contest and Ronan had caught some mild illness yet insisted on pushing through instead of resting the same as he always did, Nadira paused suddenly in the middle of mixing spices for dinner and wondered when the last time she had thought about Mara had been.

    She couldn’t remember.

    Worse, the realization didn’t break her.

    Somewhere along the line, they’d all not just learned to function without Mara, but how to be comfortable and happy and normal, even though Mara wasn’t with them, even though they didn’t know where she was, even though they might never know what had become of her.

    It was exactly what she’d spent years trying to create for Nico and Corissa, who deserved a happy and normal family life. Somehow it had never occurred to her that she would reach that point herself, as well.

    Once, when Nadira had been very young, she’d taken a serious fall while playing with the neighbor children and badly broken her leg. It had taken longer to heal than normal, even with bacta treatments. “Even the worst fracture eventually heals,” her mother had told her. “You just have to give it enough time.”

    This fracture wasn’t fully healed, would, could never be, but somehow, when she wasn’t even looking, it had reached the point of only residual aches.

    Nadira didn’t know whether to feel grateful or guilty. She hoped that wherever Mara was, she had also managed to find a measure of happiness. Even if she never remembers her parents or knows her siblings, Nadira silently beseeched whatever deities might be out there, please, please let her be happy.


    -------------------


    The front door opened, and Nadira glanced at the chrono on the wall. It was probably Nico; Ronan was unlikely to be home for another hour, while Corissa had her late class tonight. She would have to remember to set aside a plate of dinner for her.

    Footsteps through the living area—definitely Nico’s, and Nadira turned back to the report before her. The past month had been relatively profitable, thank goodness. Though the worst times seemed to be behind them, she could never quite shake the fear each month as she tallied expenses and profits. Quiet voices in the other room; Nico had turned on the holo. Now, next month could be a little tighter. They’d have to redo the floor of the shop’s main work area soon. But there was that scheduled full overhaul of a freighter’s hyperdrive next week, which would balance out the expense, with some profit left over. Not bad overall…

    “Mom!” Nadira looked up, standing before she even realized it, such was the urgency in Nico’s voice. “Mom, come out here now!

    She hurried to the living area. Nico turned to her, an expression on his face that she’d never seen before, and pointed to the holo. Baffled, Nadira looked over. It was a news program; some interview, apparently. The woman being interviewed was young, with coppery-golden hair.

    Then a name appeared beneath her image, and there was a sudden thud as all other sound seemed to go distant around her, as though she was underwater.

    “Mom!”

    Nico, beside her, an arm around her shoulders. Nadira was kneeling on the floor, with no idea how she’d gotten there, her eyes wide, hands pressed against her mouth.

    Mara Jade.

    It couldn’t be. It couldn’t.

    Nadira scanned the background of the image and the superimposed text. Coruscant. Mara Jade, liaison to the Smugglers’—

    The interview ended, and the program moved on. No, no no no no no—

    Light red hair, like Corissa’s. Coruscant. She was the right age—wasn’t she? How old was Mara now? Why couldn’t she remember? Nadira could feel the panic bubbling up inside her. “Call your father.”

    “Mom—”

    Nadira lunged to her feet. “Call your father!” Without waiting to see if Nico obeyed, she ran back to her office, closing her files and opening a search field. Mara Jade, liaison, smugglers’—

    The information came up almost immediately, and Nadira read as though her life depended on it, her breath coming short and quick. Mara Jade, liaison to the Smuggler’s Alliance, an arrangement to supplement New Republic shipping capacity. Appointed six months ago. The personal history wasn’t much more informative; she had recently worked for Talon Karrde, a smuggler. Assisted on some New Republic mission to a planet called Wayland, with—Luke Skywalker? The hero of Yavin, currently the galaxy’s only known Jedi Knight? How could she even have met someone like that? Nadira kept reading: this Mara had been an Imperial agent for several years before the death of the Emperor, then a long gap until her employment with Talon Karrde. Birth date—

    It was Mara’s.

    Nico entered her office hesitantly. “Mom?”

    “It’s her,” Nadira whispered, and burst into tears.


    ---------------


    Ronan arrived fifteen minutes later. Nadira had just finished crying, but when Ronan started, her own tears welled up again. Nico quietly left the house and returned half an hour later with a wide-eyed, uncharacteristically subdued Corissa, and the two of them made dinner while Nadira and Ronan pored over every scrap of information and every holo they could find, with the family album open before them. The resemblances were subtle, but clear. The eyes were the same brilliant green, and the underlying facial structure was the same, although now matured. She even still had the same light spray of barely-there freckles along her cheekbones. She looked an inch or two shorter than Corissa, with the same slender build, but with the more serious demeanor that Nico usually wore, rather than Corissa’s carefree one. Her hair was slightly redder than it had been when they knew her—it had always been a mix of Nadira’s own blonde and Ronan’s red, but now the red predominated while the blonde had darkened to a golden undertone. One of the few recent holos had been taken outside, in natural sunlight, and her hair gleamed like gilded copper. She’d never been able to fully picture an adult Mara; now Nadira thought that her heart might burst over her daughter’s beauty.

    Corissa brought dinner to the office, then silently withdrew. Nico looked in an hour later, and Nadira saw him glance worriedly at the untouched food before informing her that he’d called the shop to say that Dad wouldn’t be in tomorrow, and notified his and Corissa’s teachers that there was a family emergency and they needed the rest of the week off. Nadira pulled her attention from the holo they were currently studying to smile and thank him before he also withdrew.

    The sun was rising before Nadira and Ronan staggered to bed, a consensus reached and a letter drafted. Exhausted in a way she hadn’t been for years, it was nearly midafternoon before Nadira awoke. Before she even sat up, she reached for her datapad on the bedside table and ran the same search she had yesterday.

    The information came up just the same. It hadn’t been a dream. Mara was alive.

    Nadira dragged herself out of bed and to the refresher, then the living area, hardly even knowing what she felt. Elation. Grief. Terror that despite all the evidence, maybe she’d hallucinated the whole thing. Dread of what Mara might say when they reached out. Did she even remember them?

    Nico was sitting on the couch reading, but he looked up at her arrival and quickly stood.

    “Sweetheart.” Nadira greeted him with a weary smile as her stomach growled.

    “You didn’t eat dinner,” Nico said, his eyes still full of worry.

    “That’s right,” Nadira said, looking back over her shoulder as she remembered. “I think we left it in the office.”

    “Corissa cleared it away.” Nico came over to hug her. “I’ll make you a sandwich.”

    Nadira hugged him back, hard, then stepped back to cup his cheek. “Thank you, darling. Could you possibly make it two while I go wake your father?”

    “Sure,” Nico said, and headed for the kitchen.

    She and Ronan reviewed the letter they’d written while they ate their sandwiches, and agreed that it was the best they could do. Mara’s position as liaison to the Smugglers’ Alliance, although a public one, was designed to be accessible to the people she worked with, not the public. Fortunately, one of Nico’s friends apparently sliced as a pastime, and Nico had contacted him last night. Before they’d finished their sandwiches, Nico quietly handed them what he said was Mara’s personal comm code. Under normal circumstances, Nadira would have been more inclined to point out the perils of being friends with someone who engaged in illicit activities. Today, she just hugged him.

    Ronan sent the letter, then held Nadira when her tears started again.

    All they could do now was wait.
     
  2. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    *SNAGS* [face_love] [face_dancing]
     
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  3. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    [​IMG]

    BOTH OF YOU MADWOMEN PUT UP YOUR OFT TEASED LONG FICS WITHIN AN HOUR OF EACH OTHER, WHAT EVEN IS THIS??? [face_hypnotized] [face_hypnotized] [face_hypnotized]

    It's a good day to be a reader, is all I'll say further on the subject. :p This already looks to be so good - awful and heartbreaking and all sorts of painful, but goooood. Of course I'll be back with better feedback, but I had to start there. ;) [face_love]

    [:D]
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2022
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  4. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Yes more about the Jade family
     
  5. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    I love this opening line because it's just so different from the quiet, gentle Ronan we met in Renewal, while still being perfectly in character.

    I was struck by the intensity as I visualized this scene. Great job all around with the movement and emotions throughout. ;)

    =(( :_|

    :(

    And I don't know why, but I love that he didn't actually tell her she couldn't cry, but that's what he was trying to say and she knew exactly what he meant.

    This is the most adorable thing ever and how very dare you, Gabri.

    I still like how you got this point across in a way that also highlighted Nadira's mental state.

    Reminds me of Mara's introspection in Perversity of Life, about whether she could still be a mother without a child. =(( =((

    Dammit, Ronan. *shakes fist but also loves his angry snark*

    I really appreciate - going back to Renewal - that you didn't make Ronan and Nadira the ideal couple who have always been able to solve their problems quickly. Now obviously Mara's kidnapping is way bigger a trauma than most couples have to endure, so maybe if she hadn't been taken, Ronan and Nadira would never have had fights like this. But either way, I appreciate seeing a realistic depiction of two people trying to coexist together after being brought so low.

    Everything about this exchange hurt and yet I love it so much. =((

    First, I love your commitment to capes. [face_love] ;)

    And second, I love little Nico running over to greet Ronan. [face_love] [face_love]

    lolol this is definitely an accurate depiction of a toddler construction project [face_love]

    =(( =(( :_| :_|

    Aw, little Nico is precious and he loves his sisters. [face_love]

    :(

    As someone who has experienced that build-up to a full-blown wail many times, I found this to be an excellent and visceral description of such a moment.

    Your depiction of Nadira's trauma and her kids' reactions to it were excellent. And even without the trauma, this is the sort of thing I think most mothers of one or more small children have experienced at some point, being so stressed you feel like you can barely function in the moment.

    I love all the SW stuffed animals. :p

    Because you're human, Nadira. o_O :p

    It's that lack of expectation that makes this so heartbreaking. :(

    Yeah, Nadira never stood a chance. Look at this little girl. :( [face_love]

    Again, totally accurate with kids. :p But also from Nico's perspective, I can see being particularly irritated because he's the oldest and hasn't had anything for himself like this yet. Good thing Nadira had it handled. [face_love]

    [face_love]

    I'm sort of dreading the day any of my kids surpass me in height, even though I know it's inevitable. :p

    I still think this is kind of a crazy thing to have happened in canon (and I felt the same when it happened with Lothal o_O), but I'm all for using it here if it means the Jades can finally have some peace and stability. :p

    Between this and everything else Nadira learned about Contruum, you'd really think everyone in the galaxy would be trying to move to there. [face_thinking]

    I really love all the small ways you developed Nico throughout this story to show how he became the young man we met in Renewal.

    Perfect for bee funerals. [face_mischief]

    Aww [face_love]

    =((

    This is all very good, Gabri, and perfectly understandable that Nadira would want to heal while also feeling guilty for doing so.

    I could feel that no no no no no =((

    [face_love]

    He's such a thoughtful boy. [face_love]

    lolol

    And we know this story at least has a happy ending! Excellent job as always, dearest! Loved getting to see even deeper into these characters' backstories, and I look forward to seeing even more in your Renewal!verse. =D= [face_love] [:D]




    This is a coordinated strike directly at your feels, is what it is. [face_mischief] [face_whistling] [face_batting]
     
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  6. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fan Fiction Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Registered:
    Nov 9, 2002
    @Mira_Jade
    What Vi said [face_mischief] [face_whistling]

    Nadira definitely got the angstiest part of the story, this is true =(( But it's pretty good anyway, if I do say so myself :p

    @earlybird-obi-wan
    Here you go :p

    @ViariSkywalker
    Ronan can definitely keep his head under pressure, and sweep someone else along with his own intensity. Mara is her father's daughter in many ways.

    Thank you kindly [face_blush]

    Right? =(( Being able to give Mara her stuffed bantha back turned into one of my favorite details of Renewal [face_love]

    Ronan and Nadira have a close and happy marriage, despite the awful years right after losing Mara. I feel like they'd understand each other without words the way Luke and Mara do.

    Because it's so adorable, Vi. Imagine little Mara getting horsey rides and then giggling all the way to bed [face_love]

    I kinda do too, I admit :cool:

    I've written some angsty things in my day, but PoL is definitely the champion in that category.

    He is also very young and stressed and mourning the loss of a child! And bear in mind that they lost his parents before Mara was born and Nadira's parents not all that long afterward (mostly because I was already pushing it having her parents escape; it would hardly be realistic for them to successfully drag a bunch of extended family off Coruscant as well), so they're both dealing with a lot of emotional trauma, plus near-poverty, the fear of being hunted, and trying to take care of a newborn. They're a huge mess, to put it mildly =((

    My headcanon is that if Mara hadn't been kidnapped, Ronan and Nadira would have had the occasional ordinary fight, but never anything so vicious as this. This is very much two people at their breaking points. And it is understandable that Nadira would blame Ronan for their losing Mara - completely unfair, but understandable - and of course Ronan would resent that. =((

    Yeah, Nadira's really not pulling any punches here :( I do appreciate (which sounds ridiculous, considering that I wrote it, but whatever :p) that in that last conversation with Mara in Renewal, Nadira knew and admitted how unfair she'd been. That's a hard thing to face up to. But you know what? Mara herself is highly intelligent, quick-thinking, strong-willed, determined to do the right thing, and always willing to face up to her own mistakes no matter how much it hurt. Those qualities didn't come out of nowhere. In a very real sense, I reverse engineered Ronan and Nadira from Mara's own character traits. [face_thinking]

    I am Edna Mode's polar opposite. Yes, capes. We should all be wearing capes on a regular basis, they are amazing. Look at how good Lando and Bail look in them and tell me we shouldn't be following that example. :cool:

    Despite all the difficulties during his early years, Ronan and Nadira are loving parents and Nico loves them right back [face_love]

    I remember hearing or reading decades ago that when a small child shows you their art or block creation or whatever, you should never say "what is it?" because you'll hurt their feelings. To the child, it's perfectly obvious what they made, and they're proud of it. You don't want to burst that bubble. You should always say, "that's amazing! Tell me about it!" Then you get an explanation of what exactly it is you're looking at, and the child doesn't know that their scribbles and random piles of things are indecipherable to an adult :p

    It seemed plausible that Corissa being born with red hair too could be a real gut punch for them =((

    He is and he does [face_love] (and he was right that Mara would like Corissa [face_batting])

    That would have brought Nadira back like nothing else, but how awful for her =((

    Aw yeah, I love it when I get the baby/kid stuff right :D

    Poor Nadira is about a heartbeat away from a panic attack here, and she can't exactly fall apart in public when she's alone with two tiny children =(( But yes, I do imagine that even ordinary life with small children will push you right to the edge sometimes. My own mother says I threw truly epic tantrums as a toddler :p

    Nico's favorite plushie was a mudhorn. I have spoken.

    True, but I think this is something she'll never entirely forgive herself for, even long after Ronan's forgiven her :(

    Nico simply does not have the sort of personality that can adapt well to this sort of instability. He would have been a quiet and serious sort of person anyway, but this early trauma exacerbated it, and there's a fair amount of worry and insecurity beneath that somber demeanor of his. Plus protectiveness of his parents and Corissa that stem from that constant worry. Nico basically internalized from a very young age that nothing lasts and there's not much he can do about that. Lack of control can be very stressful :(

    Corissa wears her heart on her sleeve and always has. Can you imagine trying to tell that adorable little girl that she can't have something she wants that much? No one's that strong :p

    Nadira's such a good mother [face_love]

    See, she knows exactly how to read each of her children, even though they're so different [face_love] Which honestly plays into her dead-on reading of Mara in Renewal - Nadira loves her children deeply, and watches the tiny details.

    You have four, babe. It's totally inevitable. One or two of them might stay your height, but not all of them :p

    Yeah, it's on the weird side. But the way I explain Contruum in my head is that they fought hard enough that it was a serious financial loss for the Empire and Palpatine finally just got sick of them and said, "Screw it, Imma Death Star them." And then Luke messed up that plan, but Palpatine knew perfectly well that he had another of those babies under construction (ain't no way they went from beginning construction to fully operational with a Death Star in three years), so he was content to wait a couple of years to just blow the whole planet up instead of throwing more money at it :p

    Well, it is a whole galaxy. That's a lot of area to keep track of. And the Empire would have a vested interest in keeping this quiet, and since Contruum's planetary government didn't openly throw in with the Rebellion, it seems that they figured if they also kept quiet, they'd be allowed this little oasis for themselves. They were wrong, Palpatine wasn't going to let them off, but they had reason to think he might, based on his lack of reaction. So if neither the Empire nor Contruum itself are advertising any of this, I can see how it wouldn't necessarily be common knowledge [face_thinking]

    I really, really loved getting that chance. Nico needed to be a cipher in Renewal, but he had entirely valid reasons for the way he acted and reacted all the way through the story, and this fic was perfect for showing that.

    Someday a corner of that yard will have a bunch of tiny headstones and pyre remnants, because Aunt Corissa helped her nieces and nephews lay many bugs to rest in Grandma and Grandpa's yard. She'll teach them the properly respectful way to do a funeral dance, too.

    It turned out that there was a lot of ground to cover in this one-shot! It all came together very nicely, though, and I love their finally settling in on Contruum [face_love]

    I was thinking about what Corissa said to Mara in Renewal, about how she didn't think Ronan and Nadira believed they'd really find Mara in those last few years, but they still kept looking. It only makes sense that at some point, after years and decades apart and other children to raise and a life to live and there's just no information on their lost daughter no matter where they look, they'd reach a certain level of resignation. Hope, still, but deep down that hope has mostly turned into hoping that Mara is still alive and happy somewhere, rather than any real hope of being reunited. And how would that moment feel, when Nadira realized how that hope had changed? I think it would be a lot like this, a mixture of guilt and relief and distance and hope, letting go in a way without really wanting to, but feeling that there are no other options now.

    And of course, all that resignation and relief shatters at this moment... I wound up not including it in this story, but Ronan and Nadira definitely did try to look for Mara; it wasn't just soothing words they told Nico and Corissa. And surely Mara's not the only Mara Jade in the galaxy, but whatever searches they might have tried with her name would have only turned up Maras who obviously weren't theirs, who were the wrong age or appearance or background or whatever (because of course their Mara officially didn't exist, and wouldn't have had public records). This Mara, though, is the right age, in the right place, with the right appearance, and completely out of the blue, and it must have just knocked the breath right out of Nadira.

    You know how you can look at an adult's childhood pictures and see the adult in the child? But it's really hard to go the opposite way. You can see how a child might look when they're an adult, but I'd bet that outside of those fancy computer aging models, not many people guess exactly what a 3yo will look like at 25. So Nadira's spent all these years remembering Mara, but she only had the memories of a baby and toddler to go off of. To suddenly see who Mara became must have been overwhelming - and of course, Mara could have been the plainest person alive and Nadira would still think she's indescribably beautiful, because that's what mothers do :p

    He honestly is! And he loves his parents and little sister so much, and they've all been through so much instability, and he worries about them because of that, because having stable lives now doesn't mean having stable lives tomorrow. And I didn't plan this last section out before writing it - I knew that Nadira would see mention of Mara on a news report, but literally everything else just flowed during the actual writing, because of course it would be Nico who quietly took charge of everything while his parents were utterly distracted: he calls Ronan, he goes to get Corissa, he makes dinner, he tells his father's work and his own and Corissa's schools that they won't be in the next day, he worries that his parents aren't eating, he asks his friend to slice Mara's contact information. Because this is exactly who Nico is. And that's why he was so upset when Mara appeared cold and distant and pulled back from their mother and said that meeting with them was a waste of time. Nico was with his parents all those years and saw what Mara's absence did to them and experienced the trauma of always running because his sister's kidnappers might come for them, too. Nico knows what they all went without, and as a young adult now, he has a much better idea of what his parents sacrificed to try to keep them all together. He saw his parents' reaction to finding Mara, and knows just how desperate they are to have her back, and he quietly took care of them and found a way for them to contact her, and then this long-lost sister, living in luxury with her legendary friends, actually shoves his beloved parents away, after everything they've suffered for her sake? Of course he's pissed at her, of course by the end of the week that resentment has reached a boiling point.

    The flip side of that is that once he realizes how wrong he was, he's going to feel terrible about it and try to make it right, and he and Mara are very much alike anyway, and Mara wants to fit back in with the family, and Nico is a thoughtful caregiver sort of person. It'll take them a little time and conversation to sort all this out, but they'll wind up becoming very close [face_love]

    Nadira's such a mom :p But you know, another thing I was thinking about as I was writing this: Ronan and Nadira would have wanted their children to be good people no matter what. They would have been the sort of parents who discouraged gambling and swearing no matter what. But with their circumstances, where they spent their whole adult lives terrified that they, and potentially their children, were under a death sentence if they were brought to the attention of the authorities? Damn right they insisted that Nico and Corissa always behave and stay away from anything that could ever draw any official attention.

    We do indeed :p It's not exactly a suspenseful ending, knowing that (unless you're a rebel reading this before Renewal :p), but it does add some extra weight to Ronan and Nadira and Nico's parts in Renewal. And I got the fun of writing more about my beloved OCs [face_love] Guess I'll go work on the sequel now :p
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2022
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    How I loved the progression, so realistic from devastation to barely-coping, to normalcy and even a measure of contentment, including the realization that the jagged fracture had resolved into a residual ache. =D= I adored how the personalities and pursuits of Corissa and Nico became ever more defined.

    Then the 'discovery' of Mara! :) The sudden onrush of emotion as if it all happened just yesterday along with a resurgent hope. Now what was fractured can move towards wholeness.

    ^:)^