This post is dedicated to coruscantbookshelf, who writes the most awesome stuff, inventor of Nasriel Kaliu Threeb and master of the online email roleplay. Seriously. Go check out her blog. Thought-provoking, enjoyable stuff to be found therein.
Since I obviously can’t send her a care package this Christmas, I’m settling for something almost as good–an original story to enjoy. This is my gift to you, am’yana arens. May the light of Christmas shine ever in your heart and home, and may the Force be with you. Always.
Lights gleamed against the shutters, casting slatted luridly-colored psychedelic patterns across the roof, walls and floor of the darkened room. Obi-Wan turned over, trying to go back to sleep, mentally cursing Coruscant and its sickening night life. The blankets were too warm, the pillow flat, the atmosphere of the room choking, the Force outside churned and confused and muddy. Obi-Wan groaned and moved so that he was staring straight up at the ceiling. He couldn’t sleep. He tried blocking himself out from the miasma outside, but it wasn’t seeming to work.
Slowly, the twisting, writhing lights subsided into a less tawdry gleam; the Force calmed somewhat, the first heavy raindrops splattered against the window. Obi-Wan gave a cynical, faintly malicious smile at the startled feelings outside as the orgy was replaced by a rainstorm. Serves you right, he thought. The soft patter of raindrops was relaxing, lulling, cathartic. Obi-Wan drifted off, at last, thoughts becoming more and more scattered. Tomorrow’s air would be cleaner—the rain carried pollutants and other “things” down out of it. Why didn’t it rain more often? If only cleaning the air of war were so easy…
Suddenly, he jerked back to full wakefulness with the sensation of falling. It took a moment to remember where he was, what he was doing, a moment longer to realize that the jerk into wakefulness was not coming from himself.
It was one of the Padawans.
Obi-Wan reached out, breathing into the Force. Both Padawans seemed to be shielding, Ben much more lightly than Nasriel, but Obi-Wan could still sense distress seeping distantly from her. Silently, he got up, slipping a robe around his shoulders against the night-time chill. He chilled easily, always had, especially when wearing less than the full tunics. He walked across the common room and waved open the door to Nasriel’s room, entering quietly. “Nasriel? Are you all right?” he asked. Nasriel looked sharply up.
“I locked the door,” she said defensively. Obi-Wan sighed.
“Nasriel, I wouldn’t be a Jedi Master if I couldn’t open a simple lock. What’s troubling you, alir’yana?”
“Nothing,” Nasriel muttered, turning away. Gently, Obi-Wan put a hand on her shoulder.
“Nasriel, you don’t have to protect me from the ghosts of your past. I’ve dealt with my own for years now. What’s troubling you?”
“I don’t know,” Nasriel muttered. Obi-Wan glanced out the window, noticing suddenly the complete, lovely silence that had fallen outside. Perfectly formed crystals dropped silently from the sky, blanketing everything in white. Even better—more precious—rarer—than rain, and perfectly pure, absolute white.
“Nightmare?” he asked, turning back to his Padawan.
“Mmmmm,” Nasriel said.
“You can’t hold onto it, Nasriel. You have to let it go.”
Suddenly, Nasriel launched herself forward into Obi-Wan’s arms. He froze for a moment, then willed himself to relax. He hadn’t liked to be embraced since Qui-Gon had died; the memories were just too painful. Qui-Gon had never been effusive in any emotion, and his Padawan had been much the same, but there had been the occasional physical contact, which memories Obi-Wan had always clung to like a drowning man. After Naboo, any close contact was painful; it reminded him of things that hurt too much to recall, because they never would be reachable again. Perhaps it had been selfish, but he had preferred to allow those memories to remain untarnished, locked away in a place in his mind where nothing could ever mar them.
But that was then. Now, Nasriel was sobbing her heart out against his shoulder. Clumsily, Obi-Wan raised his hands and patted her back, reassuringly, or so he hoped. He didn’t speak. Better to say nothing than nonsensical, sugary promises that no one could keep. Long experience had taught him that it was better to just be there.
Finally, Nasriel’s sobs drew to an end. Obi-Wan lifted her chin with one long finger, smiling slightly. “Feel better now?” he asked. Nasriel nodded. “Come on. I have something to show you.”
Stopping in the kitchen to pick up some instant hot chocolate (Obi-Wan wondered how he could have ever sworn at the faucet after burning himself on the boiling-hot water earlier,) he led Nasriel out of the Temple, into the outdoor gardens. She shivered slightly in the chill breeze, and Obi-Wan wrapped the cloak around her. It drooped around her, pooling like russet velvet in the snow, the sleeves far too long for her arms. She looked strangely like he had when Qui-Gon had wrapped his own cloak about him in a similar situation. Obi-Wan passed her the thermos of hot chocolate. “Beautiful, isn’t it,” he said, softly. Nasriel nodded, silently. “I must have been even younger than you when Qui-Gon brought me out here the first time, to watch the snow fall. Now—it might as well not be Coruscant you’re standing on. Strange how other people don’t seem to see the magic in this.” Obi-Wan closed his eyes, lost in memory. He wasn’t cold any more. Fluffy, fat flakes settled in his hair, beard and eyebrows; Nasriel was crowned in sparkling jewels of filigreed mithril.
Nasriel looked up at the snow. “It’s like fallen stars,” she said.
Something hit her from behind. She spun around to see Obi-Wan smiling at her, holding a snowball in one hand, a mischievous grin on his face. Despite the beard, she thought she had never seen him look so like Ben before. Obi-Wan nodded to her. “Come on. Aren’t you going to strike back?” He laughed softly. Nasriel picked up a handful of snow.
“As soon as I can figure out… how to… make it into a ball…” she said, watching in dismay as it crumbled away in her hand.
The next few hours were spent in snowballing each other, flinging huge piles of slush at each other, and so forth. It was about the fourth hour past midnight when they finally went back inside, soaking wet and completely happy.
Ben woke up, wondering why someone (Obi-Wan or Nasriel, it didn’t matter which) hadn’t come in to wake him up already. He snuggled back down into the warm covers with a sigh of contentment and looked out his window as he did so. He gave a whoop of excitement upon seeing the snow and threw on his clothes, joining the throng of winter-clad Padawans in the hall.
It didn’t matter if the Council member and older Padawan slept in at the moment.
It was Christmas break, after all.
Quick book recommendation: Letters from Father Christmas, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Enjoy!
Merry Christmas, and may God bless us, every one!