[FIN] Such A Quiet Thing
He said he had noticed her from the first, but she didn’t believe him.
He was tall, golden, with midnight hair and laughing brown eyes. He had an easy walk and easier laugh. People flocked to him, without even realizing it, perhaps. The Force danced around him in merry sunshine hues of yellow and orange and wrapped around everyone near him, holding them safe and close.
She was small, quiet and serious. She never did see how her own band of brilliant greens, precise and ordered, soothed those around her. She stayed with the books and lived through history. She didn’t mind, though. She loved the hunt for answers through the strands of time, knowing she was the best at what she did. She liked to watch the world from a distance. She liked the quiet, the sense of timelessness.
And then he had smiled at her and history stood still. She had dropped a carton containing a new shipment of holocrons from Manaan.
It took almost an entire week for her to forgive him for that. She had called him a fool, and then felt badly.
He had returned to the library again and again, charming and teasing her out of solemn stares. Making her laugh.
In the end, it took much, much longer to forgive him for that.
She watched the Force dance through her eyelids, light and effervescent – and yet, she could walk on it, if she chose. She did not.
She simply sat, in the dim, dusty light of the conclave library and smiled at the multicoloured threads that weaved and sparkled between the ancient texts and holocrons. Light tied together each story, each life, each decision for millennia. Every question ever asked. Every answer. No-one could untangle those strands like she could, to make sense of the past and connect it to the future. No-one could search like she could.
But she wasn't focused on the rainbow hues, now. She only saw the single yellow ribbon of light that wrapped around her and teased her full lips into a shy grin. Every word, every dream, every hope, every record that sat, waiting to be discovered exploded into waves of connection to the outside world, and brought it all back. To her.
Brought him back.
A rush of crimson vitality blew through the library, causing the sedate Force strands to flutter and wave. The lone Jedi’s smile widened and her warm, sherry-coloured eyes opened. She waited for the footsteps that echoed down the hall to catch up with the swirling energy that preceded them.
“Hello, padawan. You are early.”
“I know, Master Kreia,” grinned the young man, skidding to a halt in front of her, “but you left off at such an exciting point last time. I thought, maybe, we could get an early start?”
“You would begin without the others, Revan? That is hardly fair,” she chided, but continued to smile at the gawky youth who was only beginning to grow into the presence that surrounded him. She raised a hand and a hefty tome flew to her fingers.
Her eyes softened at her student’s crestfallen look. “Here. Take this.”
Revan stared at the dusty book, his blue eyes widening with appreciation. “What is this? Paper? How old is it, Kreia? Who wrote it? Does it have anything to do with our last lesson on the Hundred-Year Darkness?”
The Jedi Master’s low chuckle ruffled the dust that danced in the sunlight around her. “Perhaps you’d be better served by opening the book to look for your answers, Revan.”
Her pupil flashed a grin and gingerly lifted the heavy cover. Kreia beamed her approval at his gentle touch. He let out a soft whistle and ran his fingers through his bright, unkempt hair, raising his eyes to hers. “Kr…Master…this can’t be, really? How could any of Ajunta Pall’s writing have survived? Why would it be here?”
“Read it, padawan.” The Jedi’s tone was soft and indulgent. “Pall was a Jedi once, and wrote many journals while within our fold before he fell. Perhaps these words will offer you some illumination as to why we study the Hundred-Year Darkness. If you know the paths that have been trod by others, it may be easier to see where you set your own feet.”
Revan didn’t answer. He was already seated – backwards – on one of the library’s chairs, hunched over the text. He didn’t look up again until his classmates clamoured into the library, disturbing the peace of the place. He said nothing to them, but closed the book and gave it back into Kreia’s care with a smile.
“Thank you, Master. You’re right. I will get more out of this next lesson.”
The librarian nodded solemnly and watched her star pupil join his friends. As she blinked in the slanting light of late afternoon, a dark blue shimmer caught her eye. A line, a ribbon slicing through the Force web that layered the room, danced between Revan and the ancient book, but it rippled and disappeared. She stood motionless, staring at the empty air between her and her apprentice.
“Are you coming, Kreia?” Malak’s booming voice rumbled through the library. “I’ve got weapons training after this and I don’t want to be late!”
I’m coming, impatient one. Force knows we wouldn’t want to keep you from your weapons.
Kreia gathered up an armful of holocron cubes and strode toward the group of youngsters before her. “Now, hopefully you all remember where we left off … a group of rogue Jedi were looking for the secrets of eternal life when they fell to the Dark Side …”
A shadow slid along the corridor. Not even a whisper of sound followed Jedi Master Kreia’s progress as she wound her ways through the Coruscant conclave, following a brilliant yellow strand of joy. She had no need for light, no need for direction – the bright beam of Force directed her footsteps, steered her intention.
He was back. He had been gone for so long. Perhaps he has forgotten. Perhaps it is all gone. But the ribbon of his wake was still pure and bright as it had been the day they met, so she followed.
She hesitated only for a moment, when she stood at the thick door. The door swung open before she could raise a hand to knock. There, with warm light spilling out around him, stood Jarel, tall and golden, his eyes laughing down at her. One strong arm wrapped around her and the other closed the door behind her.
Later, in the flickering gloom, she smiled into his dark eyes. His midnight hair disappeared into the shadow and her own chocolate tresses spread over his chest. They had never needed words between them.
I missed you.
Did you, Jedi? You were very busy and it was I who waited here.
His hand reached out and tugged at a tendril that spilled down over her eyes. You know I did. You’re the only reason I returned.
“What? You can not mean that.” Kreia sat upright in the tiny bed, knocking the single light blanket to the floor. “You thought you would not return? Jarel …” My love “…what happened?”
He drew her back down to him, to his heat, and stroked her cheek.
“I haven’t even debriefed to council yet, and I want to run from this place. Things are different out there, Kri. You have no idea. I had no idea. The council…they have no idea. I’m not going to be able to make them understand. I’m not going to be able to make them see.”
The pain in his voice tore through her. She wanted to see. She needed to see.
Fire from the sky. Heat. Burning. Terror. Blood. Cowering and hiding. Inescapable eyes behind metal masks. Death and death and death.
She whimpered, and he held her closer. He was shaking beneath her hands and that scared her more than anything else.
“Di’wor, Gyndine, Aralia … they’ve all fallen to the invaders, Kri. Anyone left alive has been enslaved. It’s not going to stop. They’re not going to stop.”
He held her until she could breathe again. “This place, this conclave, feels like a trap, Kri, like I’m chained. I know what they’ll say. That the Outer Rim is out of our hands, that we have to wait, to study … I’ll go mad, Kri. I have to do something.”
She lay alone in the dim morning light, but her mind followed his bright, yellow thread until distance snapped it.
I love you, Kriea.
His voice whispered across space.
Jedi Master Kreia didn’t have many answers for the council when they came for her. She told them of Jarel’s fears, of the things he had said. She did not tell them that he had wept in her arms and then kissed her as if his life – their lives – depended on it. She did not tell them about the bright band of amber that sometimes reached out to her from the dark, begging for comfort.
She, who had been erudite, became obsessed. There were days when she could not remember the last time she had entered her own quarters. She sat in her library, tracing patterns, chasing strands from ancient texts to modern holos on Mandalorian warfare and politics. There were so many questions. No answers.
She taught her classes, for the council demanded it. They told her that her time would be better used with students than researching the motivations of a rogue Jedi – a fallen Jedi. But she wasn’t available for extra time with students – even her favourites. The ties between the Hundred-Year Darkness and the fall of Gyndine were too tenuous for her to focus on at any length. They didn’t matter.
Sleep was a place of despair. Jarel called to her from fields of blood. The bright yellow of his essence, tinged and sticky with red, drifted through time and space, looking for her. And she was powerless, an impotent shell of a pedantic academic, while he fought and suffered. She pleaded with him in her dreams, beseeched him to return to the conclave. To her. In her dreams, he was always weeping, but strong and determined to do what was good.
A fallen Jedi.
One evening, as afternoon sank into night, her eyes locked on a deep purple thread that dove between holocrons of the Mandalorian Crusades and journals of Ulic Quel-Droma. She snarled in frustration as the connection wavered and dodged her attempts to make sense of it.
“Master Kreia? Don’t you need some light? How can you see … ?”
As the room’s overhead lights flickered to life, Revan’s mouth hung open as he observed his Master, her deep brown hair grey at the temples and her warm, laughing eyes, pale and unfocused. She sat, surrounded by mountains of ancient texts, some heaped in piles as if they had been thrown there without care for their age or delicate nature.
“I…I just wondered if I could read that journal of Ajunta Pall’s again…but, you’re busy …”
“Yes. Yes, I am busy, padawan. I am sorry. If you can find the book, please take it.” She waved a negligent hand towards the jumbled, abused tomes behind her. “I can not…”
Revan stooped to lift a large book from its resting place, splayed out across the floor. He dusted it off and placed it carefully on a shelf.
“Kr … Master Kreia? Can I offer you some assistance with your task?” He scooped up another book and stowed it in its appropriate place, carefully not glancing her way. “You look like you could use some help.”
The librarian peered at him for the first time in weeks. Months? When had he grown into a man? When had the crimson chaos that whirled around him settled into a deep, commanding glow?
“I am sorry. Give me but a minute. I will help you find that book.” Her voice seemed dry and cracked from disuse.
She pushed her hair back from her eyes and glanced towards her student. Her eyes narrowed.
“Revan. Come here.” The words whipped out in a command. He hesitated only a moment before crossing the floor to her with a shrug.
Her hand grasped his wrist as she regarded him. An indigo thread, finer than shell-spider’s silk, wound around the young apprentice. Small filaments darted out in all directions into the galaxy, but one of those had drifted out to coil around the sheen of magenta that had been tormenting her moments ago. She turned from him, blind to everything but the blue trail that pulled her forward, deep into the mounds of information littered across the library floor. It led her, it led – directly – to the journal of Ajunta Pall.
She picked up the ancient book, too startled to feel ashamed about its rough treatment. “Here it is, Revan. Why were you wanting it?”
He began to shuffle with unease, but quickly stopped himself and met her gaze. The red fires of power around him thickened to a deep russet.
“Haven’t you heard, Master Kreia? The Mandalorians are practicing all-out slaughter!” His face seemed so young to her now, as he paced the floor, his youthful energy, straining at a tight leash. And the blue chains around him dug deep into his scarlet field. “The Republic does nothing, Master. The council does nothing!” His gaze encompassed the state of the library in a single contemptuous sweep. “You’re all content to hide here behind your protocol and investigation and allow the galaxy to die around us! You…!”
Whatever words the padawan expected to speak next were cut short as a single gesture from Kreia lifted him from his feet.
“Do not tell me what I am content with, youngling!” she seethed.
Revan stared down at her, shock evident even as he struggled to breathe. In a second, her golden eyes met his and widened. The young man tumbled to the floor even as his Master sank to her knees among the library’s chaos.
“Oh, I am sorry, Revan!” She stared at her hands in horror. “I … I … do not know how I did that. I am just so tired. And there are no answers!”
With that, she buried her face in her hands and wept as she had not when she realized how far Jarel had run. My love!
Silently, Revan restacked the library’s inventory onto the shelves. When he finished, he crouched beside his Master and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Tell me what you’re looking for, Kreia. I’ll help you.”
More months passed as the Jedi Council on Coruscant debated the politics of the Galaxy as one might discuss the benefits of owning a Czerka skimmer over a hanno speeder. When Revan wasn’t pleading for action, he could be found in the conclave library, helping Kreia untangle the web of information and history that connected the Mandalorian rampage to the Jedi mandate – anything to make the council listen!
He watched with some concern as the strain began to tell on his Master. The grey streaks in her hair thickened, and she stared at him, more often than not, without seeming to see him. But she flew through the shelves unerringly as if possessed, lifting volumes from their place, opening them and discarding them. Together they tried to untangle prophesy, philosophy and history.
Every time Revan and Kreia found a link to the Jedi, she’d urge him to take it to council – to use the powers of persuasion at his disposal. Every time, he’d return, his face a thunderous mask, and report his failure.
With each failure Jarel's ribbon fluttered further into the gloom of space. With each failure the Force whispered to her of her defeat, of her loss.
As time went on, Revan’s classmates joined them in their search – first Malak, then others. Even young Mical returned day after day, if only to get his hands on texts that would otherwise be beyond his classes.
They searched and failed. Searched. Failed.
“Enough!” Revan’s temper finally gave, and the blue chains around him snapped, bleeding purple through his essence.
His friends froze, a sense of anticipation boiling through the room. Kreia watched silently, allowing his passion, his natural leadership to speak for them both.
“No more of this. How many have died while we have done nothing but collect dust? My heart can bear no more!”
Malak, looking pale and weary, nodded.
“They may as well train us to bake bread, if our skills in combat and tactics must sit idle while civilizations disappear and entire generations are enslaved…!”
Understanding where this would lead, Kreia stepped forward and raised a hand. Revan’s speech stopped, his hand drifting unconsciously to his throat.
“I can not hear this, padawan. You speak of treason, rebellion. I will not have it in my library.”
She began to herd the young Jedi out the door with varying looks of disbelief and disappointment on their faces. Revan was last to leave. He paused at the door, as if to speak once more, to convince, but she stopped him.
“Go, Revan. You can do more good without me now, I think.” She pressed a small, mouldering text into his hands. “Take this. I do not think we’ll see each other again, soon.”
Revan left without another word, The Infinite Empire tucked safely in his robes.
That night, Kreia tried to sleep again. She hunted desperately through the Force for some trace of a single, wavering gleam of yellow. Often, she felt it just out of her reach, but could not touch it.
Jarel. My love. They come. Wait for them. They are coming.
She knew that they would consider Revan's departure a betrayal of the Light, but it had never occurred to her that they would blame her.
Only after they hounded her from the academy did she hear about the massacre of padawans on Taris, the slaughter of Cathar. But she knew. She had lived them with Jarel. How dared they speak of betrayal??
Exiled as she was, she felt free. She was free to find him. She sliced through the strands of the Force, following only the broken, bloody trail of his stained yellow ribbon through the galaxy. She called out to him, but he hid from her, limping from planet to planet. But no-one could search like Kreia.
She found his body, in the grassy plains of Malachor V, black hair sticky with blood and brain. She lifted his head into her lap and rocked under the night sky, stroking his ruined cheek, his still-beautiful mouth.
Fool! Was it worth it? Who did you save?
But she had on her person a tiny holodisk, a later writing of Ajunta Pall. Eternal life. No-one could search like Kriea.
She pieced him back together like a child’s puzzle and held him together with her hatred. When his remaining eye flickered open, and fixed on her lined face, she didn’t see the damage of him, only the sickly yellow-orange hue, swimming with a green putrescence.
“Come, my love,” she crooned. “Revan will be waiting for us.”
Sion only nodded and followed.
Thank you so much for reading this! Comments and con-crit are very much appreciated! If you enjoyed this, or know how I can improve it, please, please let me know on the [FIC] thread. Thank you!
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