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Saga "The Rest is Silence", Song-verse Ficlets, Anakin Skywalker & Ensemble Cast

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Mira_Jade , Feb 7, 2018.

  1. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Title: “The Rest is Silence”
    Author: Mira_Jade

    : Everything
    Rating: PG
    Time Frame: Everywhere
    Characters: Anakin Skywalker/Padmé Amidala, Luke & Leia Skywalker, Ensemble Cast

    Summary: The way things might have been – from a certain point of view.

    Notes: I have an uncountable many ideas floating around my head from my Song 'verse - the world “An Old Song Re-Sung” and “Her Still, Small Voice” are set in - and I wanted to have a place to put those all down and share with you guys. So, this thread will be a collection of ficlets and drabbles and whatnot – all set in my AU-ish world where Anakin was not quite as dumb and Sithy.

    Then, I have to thank the Word Race, again, for giving me an impetus to clear out my folder of WIPs. It's an invigorating experience for my muse, and hopefully I can keep that going beyond February. ;) [face_love]

    But, in the meantime, I thank you all for reading and hope that you enjoy! :)

    Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words.


    Index of Stories

    "I Give This Woman" - Anakin Skywalker & Ruwee Naberrie

    "Blooms in Adversity" - Darth Maul & Mara Jade

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
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  2. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    “I Give This Woman”
    Anakin Skywalker & Ruwee Naberrie

    It was promising to be a cool spring's day by the lake; the breeze was gentle off of the murmuring waves, stirring the branches of the trees and coaxing the flowers in their beds to release their sweetness to the air. Ruwee Naberrie was content to sit by the water's edge with his wife, feeling the warmth of the rising sun was pool on the stones and listening to the call of the morning birds as they sang to greet the dawn.

    The weight of Jobal's head was soft against his shoulder as she dozed. It had been a long night for his family – the twins had taken ill with a stomach virus the day before, and they'd come to help their daughter while her husband was away. He knew that his wife was greedy for every moment she could steal with her grandchildren – and her daughter, too, for that matter. She was always eager to help, but it was still a long, difficult night spent dividing their attention between the two sick babies. Padmé herself was inside, and finally just laying down to catch what sleep she could. While both women rested, Ruwee had his ears trained for the twins, ready to take his turn with them should they awaken in distress. Hopefully, they would sleep the rest of the sickness through now, but it paid to be vigilant; so, vigilant he would be.

    He was just closing his own eyes to better enjoy the sunrise on his face when a shadow whispered across the veranda. Ruwee looked, and saw his goodson standing just outside the entryway, still in his traveling cloak and robes. Ruwee inclined his head, pleased to see a quietly concerned expression pinching Anakin Skywalker's features as he gazed at Jobal's soft, dozing face. He had made good time, returning home to support his wife.

    But, for all of his concerns where the boy was concern, questioning his love and ability to care for his family was never one of them. Not quite. “She is fine – just tired,” Ruwee assured him. “The same goes for the children; the worse has passed, and they should sleep now.”

    “I checked on them before coming out here,” Anakin admitted. “I can't thank you two enough for helping Padmé – it's hard enough taking care of one sick child, but with two it's even more -” he gave a frustrated sigh, and ran his artificial hand through his hair. “I picked a terrible day to be gone, it would seem.”

    Ruwee raised a brow, and drolly commented, “You cannot predict these things, Anakin. And none would ever chide you for being an absentee father.”

    The words seemed to strike Anakin, though. He gave a small, tired smile, but didn't quite agree with him outright. If, even a year ago, someone would have told him that he would be endeavoring to try and make his son-in-law kinder to himself, Ruwee would have laughed at them outright. Yet it was true – the boy held himself to such an impossibly high standard, as if he was trying to build himself up from a ghost lurking in the shadows, and it worried Ruwee. No man was infallible, no matter how they endeavored to be. But, for all of his initial reservations as to his daughter's life choices, he could never argue that Anakin Skywalker was anything less than a devoted father and husband.

    And, with the revelation of their relationship being the catalyst freeing Padmé from her duties, and Anakin from his, in time to raise their children, together - well, Ruwee had learned long ago not to question the ways of fate. He merely accepted the will of the Weaver, and looked forward to see how the threads of his life would continue to wind upon the loom.

    “Was your trip successful, at least?” Ruwee asked instead, ready to speak of lighter manners. “You were secretive when you departed – and Padmé was even vaguer still.”

    And that was an interesting reaction his words garnered – the boy looked down in time to hide the flush coloring his cheeks, and he swallowed. For all the world, Ruwee suspected that he was flustered – nervous, even. Anakin did not immediately answer him as he shouldered off his pack and knelt on the ground before him, instead.

    Strange, and stranger still. Yet a whisper of understanding dawned, and Ruwee had an inkling of where this was going as Anakin placed his hands on his knees and took in a deep, shuddering breath. He had seen that look on the face of Sola's husband-to-be, now some years before - and he himself had worn it as a lad, asking Jobal's father for her hand in marriage . . .

    Unconsciously, he sat up straighter, and cast his expression into a careful mask.

    “This isn't quite how I was planning on doing this,” Anakin admitted, his voice rueful. “But the sun is rising, and there is so much I haven't done right already – so, I would appreciate it if you would hear me out.”

    Ah. Ruwee fought the urge he had to smile, and waited for him to continue.

    “I will never be able to rightly apologize for what we deprived your family of when marrying without your knowledge or consent – but we are coming up on five years together now, and I wanted to formally ask you for your blessing before our next anniversary. I . . . I couldn't ask you last year; I didn't think you would have been able to say yes, then. But, now . . . ”

    Yet Anakin paused, and took in a breath. The Hero Without Fear, the quasi-Jedi Knight, decorated war veteran and general of legions, clearly gathered himself to ask for something he already had. He could not immediately speak, not without first summoning his strength.

    “Ruwee Naberrie,” Anakin finally addressed him with a strong voice, “Over the years I have known her, I have come to know and deeply love your daughter; I wish to weave my life alongside her own. For your consideration, I offer this from my eyes.”

    From his pack, Anakin drew out a string of dazzling, glowing white gems, and presented them for his consideration.

    “The first time I met Padmé, I was only nine . . . so much about Tatooine was harsh and ugly, both inside and out, but seeing her was like looking on a mirage in the desert. I thought she was an angel, flown down from Iego. So, from the moons of Iego, I present this gift of celestial stones. They are but a shadow of what I first saw in her.”

    He was doing this traditionally, Ruwee was pleased to see. The clarity of gems was starling, he critically observed, and each tiny stone seemed to pulse with a life of its own. A rich gift, Ruwee thought to himself, but waited for Anakin to finish before commenting.

    “From my hands, I do not have a skill to offer to support her as is traditionally expected,” Anakin admitted, before continuing somewhat hastily, “But I can promise to stand by her side as she goes about her life's work – you and I both know that this leave from the political sphere is only temporary; she will only sit still for so long; there's too much that needs to be done in the galaxy for her to do anything else. So I offer you my sword – I promise to protect her and honor her interests as my own. She will never be alone as she fights for others; I will fight alongside her, and for her with everything I have in me.”

    Anakin placed his lightsaber down on the ground between them – and the symbolism of the gesture was not lost on Ruwee. He had already given up everything for his daughter, and he would continue to do so for as much as was asked of him.

    “From my heart, I offer this for your consideration – as a visible embodiment of my love, and proof of the sincerity of my vow.”

    His daughter did not have a traditional wedding ring, the knowledge ghosted across Ruwee's mind; she had a jasper pendant she wore on a cord, instead. A whisper of the hurt and sorrow he'd first known when Padmé admitted both her hidden relationship and impending motherhood shadowed his heart then. Though that wound had lost its ability to fully sting his heart over time – how could he dwell on his regrets when he had his daughter's happiness and his dear grandchildren to rejoice in, instead? - it still returned to him in odd, unguarded moments. That pain whispered across his senses then – the knowledge of a hundred different lost moments they hadn't been able to experience together, all because of conflicting duty and circumstance.

    Yet, now -

    - Ruwee took the small, velvet lined box from Anakin's hand and looked over the wedding band within with a critical eye.

    “It's Kuati white ever-gold,” Anakin was hasty to explain. “It's one of the strongest ornamental metals in the galaxy, and with it there are - ”

    “ - more of the celestial stones?” Ruwee's voice was soft to touch the simple, elegant setting of the gems on the band. It was graceful, yet strong; beautiful, just like his daughter was.

    “Yes,” Anakin's cheeks colored to say. “At first I wanted to go with something traditional, from Naboo, but - ”

    “ - no, the symbolism is fitting here,” Ruwee gently interrupted him. He did not have to explain. “This is a beautiful piece, Anakin. Padmé should love it.”

    Anakin looked down, as if to hide some expression too large for his eyes to share, before he continued – almost as if in a rush, “From my mouth, I can only promise you that I will love your daughter as she deserves to be loved, and humbly beseech you for your blessing.”

    Ruwee was quiet for a long moment as he considered his reply. He looked between the ring he held in his hands, to the waiting lightsaber resting between them, and the strand of celestial gems. Anakin was still kneeling, something small and hopeful hesitantly blooming in his eyes. Without further thought, Ruwee pushed the gifts aside, and rested a fond hand on the boy's shoulder.

    “My blessing I do grant . . . my son.”

    Anakin exhaled a long, shaky breath, and the posture binding the terse set of his shoulders finally relaxed. A thread of strain between them, ever pulled tight and deliberately unacknowledged, seemed to snap then, and Ruwee let it go. He laid his losses to rest, and acknowledged all that he had gained, instead.

    “Sola said that should work,” Anakin tried to summon a note of humor to cut through the emotion lingering in the air. “But I have to admit that I didn't quite believe her. All I could think of was: if I were you, and it was Leia who had . . .” but his voice faltered, and he sighed. “I can't tell you, how very sorry I am . . . again.”

    “As I believe you have said many times now – I accept your apology, just as I accept you.” Ruwee was ready to move forward with his goodson – truly he was. “And you will surprise yourself, someday, when a suitor – the right suitor, comes calling.”

    Anakin huffed, and a shadow darkened his clear blue eyes. “That, I can't believe - not yet,” he disagreed, snapping the ring box closed and returning it to his pack. “But . . . I have time to resign myself to the idea. Hopefully it's enough time, in the end.”

    “It will quickly - too quickly, at that,” Ruwee couldn't help but ruefully admit. “So enjoy what you have, while you have it. This time is precious – the years while you are still your daughter's entire world.”

    Anakin nodded to his wisdom, before saying, softly, “You still mean so much to her, you know – you always did. Even, when . . . ”

    Yes, well then.

    With his higher reason, he understood that - truly he did; and yet his heart still warmed to hear the words spoken aloud, even so. He squeezed the boy's shoulder, one last time, and then let his hand fall away. “I know,” he said – and that was that. They did not need to speak of it again. “I know.”

    Instead, Ruwee settled back in his seat, content to watch the sun as it continued to rise in silence.

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2018
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  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Gorgeous setting and beautiful sincerity of the various pledges from Anakin. The humility and undoubted love he has for Padme. Ruwee's POV is wonderful: caring and open-hearted and honest. =D= Happy wriggles for this 'verse which is so delicious. [:D]
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  4. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Author's Note: Hello again, dear readers, and surprise! My SW muse has been waking up from her winter-sleep and reminding me just how much I adore this AU. So, while inspiration is still with me, I want to dabble in this world by first completing a few outstanding challenges, and then hopefully I can work on Her Still, Small Voice and my NSWFF stories at the same time over the summer. That's my plan for now, so let's see how my muse cooperates! ;)

    To start the ball rolling, I am finally writing my response to the Disney Animated Movie Quote Challenge - where my quote was Mulan's: "The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all." Yep, I have been sitting on this for that long. ;) :p My characters here are Padawan Mara Jade, and a Darth Maul who is also on a very different path than the one we know from canon. It was quite the interesting exercise writing this vignette, that's for certain, and I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

    Enjoy! :)

    (And, @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha - thanks so much for the thoughts you left on the first viggie! I always appreciate your encouragement and support. [:D])


    II. "Blooms in Adversity"
    Mara Jade & Darth Maul

    There was no force in the galaxy that would ever compel him to say it aloud, but the aubrett’s visits were bright, coveted moments in the otherwise dull monotony of his existence.

    Even more so than his required sessions with the Jedi mind-healers, or even Kenobi’s frustratingly routine visits for tea and cu’bikad, the brief, quiet interludes he spent with the growing girl-child offered his spirit a succor he wouldn’t admit to needing otherwise. Perhaps it was the static shape of his existence that made him desperate enough to latch onto anything that served to break up the grey expanse of his days, or maybe something within his heart that was too-long starved saw her light and instinctively turned to it in the hopes of sharing her warmth. He did not know exactly why he looked forward to his time spent with her, he only knew that he did. For him, that was enough.

    In anticipation of her arrival, Maul put on the earthenware kettle for tea – only years of good behavior had won him that particular luxury, no matter that he grudgingly made the beverage for his guests (few as they were) more so than he enjoyed any particular brew himself. The quicker their tea was drank, the quicker Obi-Wan would leave, after all - while for her he simply wanted to extend what courtesy he could, in what small way he could.

    The water in the kettle whistled as it came to a boil, and he pulled the vessel away from the heat just as the door chimed. Padawan Jade arrived as was her custom, just after the sun had fully risen to crest over the treetops. Still in the lingering throes of dawn, the Ossus sky was streaked with tones of pale pink and delicate violet, lightening the heavy green of the dense jungle with shades of wispy, pastel color. That much, at least, Maul could see from his single, solitary window. The birds were still singing, no matter that the rising of the light would silence them soon enough. Even in the Force-void bubble that surrounded his cell, he could feel an echo of her arrival – shining like a young star from the veils of an interstellar cloud. Fleetingly, he allowed her presence to flicker across his senses; in that moment, he thought to understand the morning birds and their singing to the sunrise.

    When the door opened, he briefly noticed the tell-tale light-staves of the temple-guardians flanking the entrance. They were ever vigilant in their watch, no matter that their numbers, at least, had decreased over the years. The security surrounding him had never lessened – never quite that, but he had won a certain measure of trust and leniency as a result of his complacency with his sentence. In his own way, he'd endeavored to be an ideal prisoner for some time; he had no reason to be anything else. Not then. Maul narrowed his eyes at the presence of the guardians before his expression smoothed - how could it not? - to see her instead. Then, she was all he could see.

    “Aubrett,” he greeted. Then, perhaps somewhat roughly, he remembered his manners and added, “welcome.”

    Mara Jade’s smile was small, but it crinkled around her eyes when she said – with infinitely more grace than he managed, “Thank-you. Good morning to you too, Maul.”

    Though only a five-day had passed since her last visit, Mara looked taller to his eyes. He wracked his mind, trying to remember just how old the girl was by then. She’d seen fourteen - almost fifteen years, perhaps? The passing of time was illusive in his cell, and he often had trouble telling the days from weeks and the months from years. To further challenge his perception, she would always be slight in stature - her early-most days had passed in such a way that she’d never be anything else, he suspected, and what height she did have was then overly thin and wiry in the ways of an active youth. But her freckles where thick and dark across her face from the sun, and her skin was tanned a deep golden color underneath. To match, there were more shades of warm orange and rich mahogany than outright red in her braid from the light of the summer season. She looked healthy to Maul’s critical eye; healthy, and content. Seeing so, something deep within him soothed, and he released a breath.

    Yet, though she seemed pleased to see him – as much as anyone could ever be pleased to see him, at least, she stayed just a few steps within the entrance, and waited for some cue that he was not privy to understanding. Something was different that day - something about their time-worn routine had changed. Maul glanced behind her, curious when the door did not immediately close to bar his exit again. Where the temple guardians ever seemed to blend into the background, an approaching presence moved with the express purpose of drawing attention and holding it – forcing his eye to a tall, middle-aged human with dark robes, and then -

    “ - Master Skywalker,” Maul could not quite help the low tone that lined his voice. It was not quite a polite greeting he managed, but rather, an acknowledgment. “This is a surprise.”

    That, at least, was true: no matter the passing of the years, his serving his sentence of confinement at the Temple was one that Anakin Skywalker would never completely understand, or fully support. He never accompanied Obi-Wan where Maul could sense him, although he often suspected that he remained just out of sight – especially now, with Mara’s preference for maintaining . . . whatever sort of relationship that was between them being what it was.

    Mara glanced back over her shoulder – and she must have flashed that same, small smile to her Master. She did not say anything to Anakin aloud, however. “He’s nothing to worry about,” instead, she turned back to assure him. “He’s with me today.”

    Maul could see the way Anakin bristled at the casual dismissal, but Mara was looking at him expectantly – and whatever expectations she had of him, he would try to meet. For the time being she needed him on his best behavior, and so, he would oblige her. Nettling the Chosen One could come later.

    “What is this?” finally, Maul asked outright, gesturing between them.

    That same dimpling smile flashed across her face again. Instead of answering him plainly, she countered his question by asking one of her own, “Would you like to go outside today?”

    Maul heard her words the same as feeling a lance run through his side, and he had to keep from blurting out an affirmative – not like an overly excitable youth, but like some barely tamed animal kept from the ways of the wild for too long and eager to return. His room, although comfortably appointed, was still a cell by every definition of the word, and the times when he was permitted to escape it were few and far between. For the idea of fresh air and the ability to breathe beyond the Force-void bubble that surrounded his every waking hour . . .

    . . . yes, he’d like that very much indeed.

    “Is that your Master’s purpose?” even so, he turned her question again. “He’s to play the role of guard-dog?”

    Just barely, Mara’s mouth thinned. “Yes,” she answered, giving him a look. “That’s one of the masters’ stipulations for this outing.”

    Maul could feel his own mouth purse. For a moment, he felt the urge to deny her offer, simply to be contrary. If this whole thing was just Kenobi’s doing, perhaps he would have. Yet it was not Kenobi standing before him, but the aubrett.

    “The juni flowers have just bloomed.” Mara added simply. Visible even with her tan, her cheeks flushed a bashful shade of pink. The gesture was almost shy, in a way. “They are my favourite, and I thought to show them to you.”

    Years ago, the idea of a fledgling girl bribing a Sith Lord with an offer of flowers would have been ludicrous – beyond laughable in every conceivable way. Now, the temptation was strong enough to tug on his heart and draw him short of breath. He hesitated.

    “Red, this is pointless.” Skywalker, however, saw his reticence and interpreted it as something else entirely. His face was heavily creased in a scowl, and his clear blue eyes were stormy with mistrust. Even in the void of his cell, the Force coursed through its chosen vessel in agitated rivers of barely leashed power. Maul breathed in deep at the sensation, and exhaled. “Come on,” Anakin continued, taking a step towards his apprentice. “Let’s go and leave him to - ”

    “ - yes, I would like to see the juni flowers with you,” Maul, however, surprised himself by interrupting. “I will agree to any stipulations that requires.”

    Mara inclined her head, and said, “thank-you,” with an ease that suggested that she never once doubted his answer otherwise. It was a disquieting thing, he thought, not for the first time – to be so easily known by a child. Even this child.

    He did not have anything to his name to take with him, and the weather beyond the Temple did not require any outerwear during the hot season. Instead, Maul held up his hands in a gesture of promised peace, and waited for the girl to lead the way.

    Seeing that he was ready, Mara did just so. She turned, and walked out of the room, clearly expecting him to follow. So, follow he did.

    Maul could feel the exact moment when he walked beyond the barrier that kept the Force at bay from his rooms. His skin seemed to prickle, as if he was too close to a live current, while his every nerve ending was seemingly awake and on edge as his too-raw senses readjusted to the full brunt of the Force after knowing only the barest of echoes for so long. Usually, he was only permitted to reach out to the Force during his sessions with the healers – and though he no longer drew on the Dark, he’d yet to feel an affinity with the Light. Instead, he endeavored to concentrate on the Living Force – on the wild play of life and death that was the ancient, constant ebb and flow of nature. In that manner, Ossus was an unending fount for him to draw upon, and he’d since found what peace he could while relearning everything he once thought to know about the entity that bound the universe together. He could feel Mara as he fully opened his intangible eyes to the Force again - she was steady and pulsating and so, so bright to his senses, even if that brightness was somewhat dwarfed by the unbelievably massive swirl of power that was Anakin Skywalker’s unparalleled presence in the Force. That presence seemed to shimmer then, as if the Jedi Master was making sure that he wouldn’t easily forget - or ignore, his might.

    Maul drew in a deep breath, and held it. It took all of his concentration, but he did not allow the return of his senses – his most vital sense, even, to slow or check his side.

    Instead, he concentrated on the sights and sounds and scents around him as they made their way down from the Temple proper and out into the cultivated rings of gardens that surrounded the tower complex. They did not pass another soul, and Maul briefly wondered if their way had been cleared ahead of time. He was further surprised when, instead of turning down one of the manicured stone paths, Mara kept on going towards the boundary of the jungle. Even when reaching the brink of the wild, she did not stop or change her stride. Their path turned rugged, following the dips and turns in the landscape as they headed down to where the Ossua river flowed, far within the boundary of the trees.

    Maul raised a hairless brow, but before he could ask aloud, Mara explained, “I found this place when exploring with the twins, a couple of years ago. The juni flowers are native to Ossus – but they only bloom just after the monsoon rains, for only a day or so, while the jungle is filled to the brim with water.”

    Sure enough, the rich black soil sucked at the soles of his boots as they passed. The tropical landscape around them was sodden with water; further out in the river basin, he knew that the Ossua had overfilled its bounds to create a monsoon forest that only watercraft could reach. They were further from the Temple than Maul had ever been, at that, and the knowledge tugged at him. Though he knew that Skywalker was a formidable presence – one he doubted his ability to defeat, even when he was at the height of his power – it was the thinnest barrier that had stood between him and freedom in a very long time.

    But he let that thought pass, as he did with so many thoughts, and instead followed the child through the undergrowth.

    Only a few minutes passed before they came to a set of vine strewn stairs – built by some ancient hand and long left to be reclaimed by the wild of nature. The stairs took them down into a deep grotto, where a clear creek babbled over polished black river stones to feed a carpet of pale, white-pink flowers. The fledgling buds were small and dense, but the blooms that had opened were rich shades of fuchsia and violet and the deepest of blues. Not a spot of green was left untouched, and the air was thick and heavy with a sweet, floral aroma in the aftermath of the summer rains. Moisture beaded against his skin and turned his robes heavy; his mechanical legs and torso labored underneath the pall of the humidity, but any sort of physical discomfort paled next to actually being able to breathe in the fresh air to his heart’s delight. He would not utter a word aloud in complaint.

    Mara, still content to know that he was following her, climbed to sit atop of one the massive stones lining the floor of the grotto. There was a place next to her, and, understanding her invitation, he took his own seat when offered.

    Skywalker, Maul noted, never came down into the grotto with them – but he could feel his presence prowling around the lip of the impression in the landscape, never truly leaving them alone. His loitering was understandable, but unnecessary - Maul had no intention of anything other than enjoying the fresh air and the flowers . . . and the presence of his aubrett.

    “I like the feel of the jungle after the monsoons pass,” Mara finally broke the silence to say aloud. Her eyes were heavily lidded; her dark lashes fluttered to veil the vivid green of her irises as she spoke. “When I close my eyes, all I can feel in the Force is growth and renewal. It feels open and clean . . . even when I can't feel that way about myself. There were times when I never thought I’d be able to experience the Force the way it was meant to be . . . the way Luke and so many others feel it. But here . . . here I can. It's easy; touching the Light doesn't have to burn here.”

    He . . . he thought to understand her words, in the small way he could. There was a reason he still did not find it possible to touch the Light – why he thought that, sometimes, the Light shied away from being found, even when he searched for it. But he could feel the Living Force – perhaps, just the same as Mara did. He could feel the hundreds of blossoms and the tiny little home they'd carved out in the Force, just as she said. He could feel them bursting into life, there to exist for so short a time before they passed to the turning of the seasons. But, in that too was the way of life; there was balance to be found in the cycle of nature.

    That the Light side of the Force shied away from him was no great mystery - he had too long sullied his hands with the Dark to expect anything else. Yet, for the same to be true of this child . . .

    Knowing of her struggles left a sour taste in his mouth, and he could not help but bow his head in reply. His heart felt heavy in his chest – heavy in a way that guilt and self-rumination often failed to move him otherwise. His actions simply were what they were, and he could not wholly bring himself to mourn the course his life had taken. Yet, for her . . .

    Maul glanced over to see where her eyes were still trustingly closed as she concentrated on her breathing. Her hands were very small as they folded neatly in her lap; her hair was heavy in the humidity, and stray strands from her braid slipped loose to stick to her brow. He watched her, and felt something indefinable expand in his throat.

    “Why do you continue to come, aubrett?” he finally asked – quietly, so quietly that he first did not understand his intention to speak until the words whispered from his mouth.

    She did not open her eyes right away. “Why do you continue to let me come?” she asked, just as thoughtfully.

    That was something Kenobi would say, Maul fought the urge he had to roll his eyes and sigh. He was still all too quick to rise to – and give into, irritation. That he knew as well as she.

    “I do not know,” even so, he finally answered. “Doing otherwise is simply . . . not an option.”

    That was the truth, as plainly as he could give it a voice. He could not give such an emotion a more accurate name than that, when he suspected that it had none. It was too large for him to properly express in any amount of words.

    Just barely, her eyes winked open. “A part of me feels like I have to,” she finally admitted, returning his honesty with that of her own. “I know what you did for me back then.”

    The idea of any sort of obligation existing between them sat like a weight on his chest. He was an old dragon to demand and covet her time, he knew – and though her presence in his life was one he’d made an axis out of, he’d not have any sense of duty keeping her by his side. The very idea was abhorrent to him.

    “No, no . . . not like that - I promise,” Mara’s eyes went very wide to say. He watched as she bit her lip, with even the peace of the summer’s morning and the blooming flowers all around them having lost their sway. “I just . . . I feel like I know you, and I always have. I - I know that I never would have been the Apprentice . . . I was never meant to be the Apprentice, as she clearly now is.” Such heavy, dark words, so easily spoken from so young a mouth - but they were truths, unfortunately so. Maul breathed in deeply, and had to fight to exhale. “I was intended to be a tool for Sidious, and nothing more . . . just like you were. If Master Skywalker had not found me – if I had not found him, and his family . . .”

    But, no matter her bravery, Mara could not finish her sentence. She could not give her words a voice, even if he could hear her thoughts as clear as he could the singing of the birds and the babbling of the creek. If she'd continued to grow as he did – spending her adolescence preparing to be a weapon wielded at her master’s command, even when not assigned the ultimate honor of a place by his side, as she perhaps would have deserved . . .

    You never would have walked my path, Maul wanted to protest – to sooth, even. You never would have been capable of making the choices I made, of committing the deeds I committed in the name of the Dark. You never would have felt the burning need to please him, nor would you have had to build your life over when he was through with you, and you had nothing left but his memory.

    Yet . . . who was to say what her path would have been? Sidious was as devious as he was charming, and the power he offered was intoxicating in its every shape. His ability to convince others to follow him was something that made him not merely dangerous, but lethal. Once, Maul would have happily walked through fire for him, if only for a word of praise spoken in return. Even after being freed from his yoke, the idea of proving himself worthier than his successors had consumed him. He hadn’t been able to think beyond that single, all-encompassing goal; sometimes, it was still a way of thinking he had to fight to remember as false.

    It was a dark path to imagine for Mara – this quietly determined and sad child; but, unfortunately, it was not an inconceivable path. Her course had very nearly echoed his own, no matter his bitterness to acknowledge it. Though the day was warm, almost oppressively so, he shivered. That was not her path now, he reminded himself. For many years, that road had not belonged to he, himself, either. That was all that mattered.

    Her hands were clasped tightly together, Maul could see. Her knuckles were white, as if she fought to keep them from shaking. He felt rage rise up in his gut to bite though his veins – an anger that was different from the emotion that had once been his entire driving force and reason for being, but still a sense of rage, nonetheless. Only, this felt purer, somehow – righteous, even. He had a brother, once – although he hadn’t understood what that bond had meant until it was ripped from him. This, he acknowledged, felt similar.

    Distantly, he felt the urge to reach out and cover her hands with his own. He wanted to comfort her; to assure her of the road she was walking – not the one she had been kept from by the strange turns of destiny and fate. Yet, he suspected, he had spent to much of his own path in the shadows to so easily shed light on her own. He did not know how.

    Instead, he reached down to pluck a sprig of juni flowers. The petals felt like heavy silk in his hands. He had to be careful to keep from crushing them, even without meaning to.

    “My mother’s people have . . . had, the same word for bloom and burn, did you know that?” he finally whispered. It was, perhaps, more about himself than he'd ever shared aloud. To anyone.

    Dathomir was a hard world, but beautiful in its own way. He’d been little more than an infant child when Kycina had given him to Sidious – ironically, to protect him from a life of darkness and servitude with the Nightsisters of Mother Talzin’s convent. But he still remembered what he could of her words; of her songs. He’d studied what more he could find since then, during his confinement. It was a way to pass his days.

    “I didn’t know that,” Mara answered, and her green eyes were very bright to study him, “but it does not surprise me.”

    That’s what aubrett meant, he wanted to say next. The word had leapt to mind the first time he’d met her – back in those early days, when she had no words for herself. She had escaped the darkness, like he’d never quite managed to do. She had bloomed, and gone on to thrive like an ember stubbornly determined to burn . . . and that inspired him. Her course gave him hope, in the far off, distant way he could acknowledge the sentiment as. Yet, though he was full of words, he found that he couldn’t quite give them a voice. Not then; perhaps not yet.

    Instead, he contented himself with merely sitting by her side for as long as she would permit. In what peace he was allowed to find, he reached out with the Living Force, and, for a little while, felt nothing but the young flowers as they bloomed.

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh, @Mira_Jade -- the gorgeous tapestry you paint with words of the setting. How very much, MUCH like Tolkien you are!!!! =D= =D=

    Your Mara is as different as Raissa's is from the Mara Zahn gifted us with, but I love each of your Maras like his. They're etched in strength and inner courage that is dazzling. [face_love]


    Even your Maul is intricate and sympathetic, quite the accomplishment!


    [:D] !!!
    Findswoman likes this.
  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    First of all, I should apologize—because I remember having read “I Give This Woman” when you first posted it, and I thought I had commented on it. But it turns out I hadn’t, and I didn’t find that out until just recently when you posted “Blooms in Adversity” (which of course I was very happy to see too). So my apologies, and I’ll rectify that right now. Both of these are absolutely gorgeous (not that I expect any less from you ;) ), and I enjoyed both of them very much. You’ve really got that lyrical touch to your writing; it is indeed very Tolkienesque, as @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha points out! :cool:

    “I Give This Woman”: Wow, Anakin and his father-in-law Ruwee—this definitely takes the cake for an original combination of characters! The in-law bond is not one that’s explored very often in fanfic, so it’s a treat to see it treated so sensitively here. And of course it’s always wonderful to see members of the Naberrie family; I love that they get to play an active role as inlaws and grandparents in your AU. This is Anakin at his best: that serious, earnest, driven personality we got to know in AOTC is being put to the noblest and most beautiful possible purpose here, that of restoring balance to his larger family unit. (Restoring balance of course being a familiar theme with Anakin, in whichever universe. ;) ) The ritual of asking for the blessing is gorgeous (again, no surprise coming from you ;) ), and it’s so clear that Anakin is doing this not just to go through the motions, not just to impress his father-in-law in some way, but out of a genuine desire for bonding and reconciliation. Ruwee’s steadfast sensitivity is a good balance for Anakin’s drivenness; I can very much see him remaining by Anakin’s side with wisdom, support, and love even at that fateful future time when Some Suitor comes asking for his own’ daughter’s hand. (And wow, it would be very cool to see how that would come to pass within this AU! :D ) And this:

    Is about the most wonderful, poignant, bittersweet advice a dad could ever give another dad! Just as this story was a wonderful, poignant, and bittersweet scene of bonding between these two dads. <3

    “Blooms in Adversity”: Also a very unexpected and original combination of characters, and one that in your hands works amazingly! The timid, sickly waif of "Her Still, Small Voice" has grown up into an awesome young woman with a unique and vivid brightness in the Force, and even someone as far gone as Maul knows it. Let me see if I have this right—as Maul’s aubrett, Mara seems to have a specific role in the process of purging the dark from him and perhaps eventually returning him to the light? Something along those lines? Their meetings together do seem to have some kind of a therapeutic effect on Maul, in any case, though I understand why Anakin is so wary of the whole arrangement. As always, your descriptions are incredible, whether it’s Maul’s dark, Force-excluded cell, the flower-filled grotto with the creek running through it, or the way Maul suddenly feels the prickle of the Force as he passes the barrier of his cell. And of course this would be a breathtakingly gorgeous story even if it were just about Mara and Maul going out to enjoy nature, see the juni flowers, feel the Living Force all around, etc. But what makes it even better is the way their conversation reveals some important commonalities between the two of them: they both struggle with touching the Light, and they were both groomed to be servants of the Emperor in one way or the other—though Maul got to a much more advanced stage with that than Mara did, which is why his journey back to the Light is so much more fraught than hers. But it’s through talking with Maul that Mara comes to realize that all of the burn she has experienced during that journey really has been a form of blooming, a way of growing and letting her potential unfold. (I don’t know if the Dathomiri connection between “bloom” and “burn” is canon or fanon, but it’s absolutely amazing cool, and makes for a great tie-in both to the prompt quote and the flower-filled landscape. :cool: )

    So this wasn’t such an odd combination of characters after all! And, once again echoing Ny, you even manage to make Maul nuanced and sympathetic in his own way—that takes a really special kind of talent, and if anyone has that talent, it’s you! [face_love] Bravissima on your amazing work with both these stories, and do keep this breathtaking AU coming. =D=
    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha likes this.