Author: Findswoman Title: The Drabatan Lady Downstairs Era: Late Saga—PT / early Saga—OT Characters: Paodok’Draba’Takat “Pao,” his mother (Lualani’Draba’Takiil “Lua”, OC), and an unnamed OC Genre: vignette, drama (I guess?), mother-son feels Summary: The tenant of the upstairs apartment has long learned to tune out her loud-voiced downstairs neighbor—and then overhears a conversation downstairs that is different from any that have come before it. Notes: It’s only been two and a half years or so, but I finally, finally managed an entry for @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha’s Memorable Melodies Roulette challenge! The song I received was “You’ll Be in My Heart”: Spoiler: video with lyrics And since it is a mother-son story, I thought it fitting to have it ready for Mother’s Day, and I dedicate it to all the mothers among us here on JCF. Once again, I thank @Raissa Baiard, herself an excellent mom, for beta reading and feedback. A Drabatan lady lived downstairs. She was the owner of the seamstress shop on the ground floor of the building, and she occupied the apartment directly behind it. She was older and lived alone. And the tenant of the upstairs apartment always knew when the Drabatan lady had company. It was not only that the building was old and that the floors and walls were thin. Nor was it only that the tenant of the upstairs apartment belonged to a species with extremely acute hearing, though that certainly intensified matters. It was that the Drabatan lady had a very loud voice and a very distinctive habit of speaking SOME words LOUDER THAN others. (It was a characteristic of the Drabatese language, she had explained once: different volume levels gave the same combination of sounds different meanings. Gak’te’rekezp, for example, meant “compassion,” but GAK’TE’REKEZP meant “foam rubber.”) So when the Drabatan lady had one of her fellow older lady friends over for tea and gossip in the early evening, or the whole group of ladies over on Taungsday nights to play galactic tiles, the tenant of the upstairs apartment could hear everything, and in particular every word the Drabatan lady uttered: every AMUSING story she told, every piece OF JUICY gossip she shared, every single TILE she called. The tenant of the upstairs apartment quickly became used to it, not to mention extremely adept at tuning it out. Then, one day, the Drabatan lady downstairs was visited by a voice that was different than any of the others: male, much younger, and also with the distinctive habit of speaking SOME words LOUDER THAN others. The tenant of the upstairs apartment remembered that her downstairs neighbor had mentioned a son, and had once shown her a holo of him. Was this he? She perked up her sensitive ears and listened, intrigued. She did not understand the language being spoken. But had she been able to, she would have heard something like this: “Oh Paodok’DRABA’Takat’Tu, my BOY, you really THINK you DO it? Really?” “Mi’Draba, Mother, I MUST. There’s NOTHING else I can DO back HOME. The Em—they’ve—IT’S GONE too FAR.” “But you really GO JOIN the—” “Shh, Mi’Draba! NOT SO loud! Who KNOWS who’s listening!” “Sorry, my BOY. I SO sorry. Your old Mi just in AWE! ’Cause you SO BRAVE!” “But I’m NOT BRAVE, Mi’Draba... I’m scared to death! I NOTHING but a lowly engineer, NOT some FREEDOM fighter—” “Paodok’DRABA’Takat’Tu…!” “And WHAT if I NEVER COME back?” “Paao’Tuuuu! You NO talk that WAY! ’Course you WILL!” “But I CAN’T just GO ON like NOTHING happened, either, NOT after what they do TO US. Because it WASN’T just US they do that TO… SO many OTHER worlds! I had NO IDEA!—” (Something in his tone—which here rose to a wail—caused a spasm of sorrow to seize the tenant of the upstairs apartment. She drew a deep breath and took a fortifying drink of tea before listening on.) “—I MUST, Mi’Draba. NO WAY I let everything Sa’Kalla FOUGHT for—” A sudden choke in the voice, a long sigh, a high-pitched wavering in what followed. “SOMETIMES I still hear her VOICE…” “Paaao’DRABIIKI’Tuuu! COME here, COME close!” Another pause, a sound of shifting, a rustling. “You NO cry, DEAR Pao, DEAR BOY…” “Mi…” “COME here, my BOY. You KNOW what, if she was here NOW, she be SO proud of you, she be just BURSTING with LOVE… just like me, your old Mi. NO matter WHAT happen.” A long pause. “You SO brave, Pao’Takat’Tu. You can DO THIS, you just HOLD on.” “I hope SO, Mi… I hope SO.” There was silence for a few moments. Then one of the voices from downstairs (hers?) began a quiet but high-pitched keen. The other (his?) joined it in a lower but still quiet keen. The two keens twined, one now soaring above the other, one now dipping below, both now rising to a plangent swell. The tenant of the upstairs apartment could make out no words, but she knew that they were singing. She closed her eyes, and listened, and let her own sorrows rise upward on their melody. Spoiler: Notes Lua first appeared in Shaman, Traveler, Oracle, chapter 8, and this visit from her son is mentioned in chapter 12. (I love working plot bunnies for some stories into other stories—it’s a great way to “take notes” and save them for later!) Incidentally, if you are familiar with Shaman, Traveler, Oracle, you will probably be able to guess the identity of the tenant of the upstairs apartment. There are various clues throughout this story as well. All the stuff having to do with the Drabatese language and the Drabatan characters’ speech patterns are based on my fanon interpretation of characteristics of the Drabatese language. (The words gak’te’rekezp and GAK’TE’REKEZP, their meanings, and the distinction between them are completely fanon.) Sa’Kalla: https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Sa'Kalla. Her name becomes Pao’s battle cry at the Battle of Scarif. Although it’s not established in any way, I am playing with the idea that Pao loved her.