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In the Morning, at Takodana Manor

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Rey found herself pacing in the garden some short time later, her mind full of Mr. Ren’s words. Phrases such as “a want of restraint” and “without society, only the very best of breeding can overcome general lack of practical exposure”. She let her breath out in a huff, glad no one was there. Despite his rudeness and callous nature, Rey still found herself noting on him. He was a respectable men, even if his pride and lack of empathy left him with little else to offer. He was not as a agreeable as Finn, nor did he had the gentle stability that Mr. Dameron possessed, but she found the gravity of his person and his manners to be intriguing.

“Rey Kenobi, you are a fool.” She said, turning and making her way down the grounds of Takodana. It was beautiful here, she thought, full of a lively collection of colors that she knew no where else. The lawn was splendid, rich like a fine carpet, and she never knew that so many shades of green could exist in any one place under heaven.

Rey was so enraptured by the view before her that she did not realize she was not alone until she was nearly to the pond at the end of the garden. She heard a foot behind her reach the gravel of the walking path around the pond and turned, expecting to see Lady Katana. Instead, she was greeted by the dark figure of Mr. Ren.

“Miss Kenobi,” the man said, giving a inclination of his head in greeting. He seemed rather out of sorts. He was speaking in all politeness, but Rey could tell by the look in his dark eyes that his mind was very much elsewhere.

“Good morning, Mr. Ren,” Rey replied, “Do you intend to walk this path? If you do not want a companion, I can walk elsewhere. I had no particular design in choosing this place.”

“You may proceed,” Mr. Ren said, waving a hand distractedly, “I am rather lost in my thoughts and will be no use for conversation in any case, I believe.”

After pausing for another moment, noting how his forced composure, Rey began walking down the path around the little pond. She enjoyed the view as always and the ducks proved to be very diverting. She soon found that the presence of so large a figure as Mr. Ren was distracting. His distressed hand-wringing left her unable to focus on the scenery for any length of time.

“If you do not mind the question, you seem rather troubled, sir. Is there some trouble at Moraband?” Rey asked, keeping her eyes ahead and resisting the urge to watch his expression.” Is Mr. Snoke quite well?”

“Mr. Snoke is in perfect health, thank you.” Mr. Ren said, “and I do not mind the question. I received a letter from Mrs. Phasma just three days ago. Everything is fine there. No, my distractions are not from home, I will admit.”

Rey frowned, unsure what could leave him so perturbed, but did not press. She was a country bumpkin to him and she was afraid of seeming impertinent. The man, however, gave more information without any further protest. It was obvious that he was eager to unload his burden on someone:

“My troubles arise from myself and no one else. I am one who has a tendency to both act rashly and to meditate on my follies and troubles far too long. It is a most ungracious combination, I will admit. To be very frank, my distraction stems from feelings that can be neither expressed or gratified, but cannot be dismissed due to a lack of certainty in the finality of the situation of the one for whom they are directed.” He took a deep breath, then sighed, "I speak of love, Miss Kenobi. Of a love unrequited and yet all-consuming, even in its quiet."

Rey lifted her chin, blinking in surprise. The idea of Mr. Ren being in love with anyone, to be point where he would find himself so troubled was astonishing. Whatever creature had garnered such admiration from him must be an impressive woman, for whatever he lacked in agreeable manners and temperament, Mr. Ren made up for in respectability.

“I am sorry you find yourself so distressed. Is there no hope for the situation?” Rey asked cautiously, afraid to reveal either her surprise or her blatant curiosity.

“Hope is one of man’s greatest follies and most loyal companions,” Mr. Ren said dryling, “He lingers far too long and clings far too fast. There is some hope, I would say, but it is small and little worth mentioning.”

Rey sighed, “But it is there. Is this lady within reach or correspondence? If you feel as strongly as you do and if there are no objections, you cannot risk little more than disappointment by educating this woman of your regard.”

“I pride myself, Miss Kenobi, on not revealing myself to be a fool.” Mr. Ren said, his voice hardening in a way that frustrated her. He was a frustrating man, willing to suffer for pride and yet unwilling to tame or dismiss his emotions. There was no victory or resolution here.

“Sir, if I may be so bold,” Rey said, stopping and turning to look at him, “You are a very frank person and speak very decidedly on all matters, regardless of whom you are in the presence of. I cannot fathom such a break of character from you and do not know how to reconcile both aspects of you in this moment. You feel keenly and yet reveal nothing. You seek to maintain both pride and honesty. You both hope and doubt. I find little contentment in you seeking solace around a garden pond if there truly is some chance that you may find happiness! I charge to make some decisions before long, ere you find yourself wandering away your life!”

She had said too much. She saw the color rise in Mr. Ren’s face, settling especially in the rims of his ears, and his expression tightened as he sought to regain control of himself and his emotions. Growing up alone at Jakku, Rey had been allowed far too much room for honesty. While Mr. Plutt would never have stood for such insolence, his frequent absences and the indulgence she had received from the housekeeper had left Rey with an inclination to speak her mind. Some words, however, could not be dismissed with a simple apology.

“Is is all well and good for a woman secure in her attachments to speak to me about mine,” Mr. Ren said, his voice low and full of emotion, “You are a pleasant-mannered woman, I grant you, but you want a depth of character with matters such as these. While you may find my reasons insufficient for restraining my tongue, I do not. I have enough responsibilities and opportunities to be getting on with. I understand you enjoy a certain amount of freedom due to your wealth and relationship to Lady Katana, but I cannot excuse this!

“I am a contradiction in nature and accept this great flaw in myself. Every man must make his best effort to be consistent in his character, but I find myself torn between two sides of myself and cannot always reconcile the two. Those closest to me understand this and the very observant recognize this in my behavior, although I fully understand why you have been otherwise diverted from a full participation in society as of late.”

“Sir, I do not grasp your meaning,” Rey said, her voice tense. Whatever he may have said, she found him to be very consistent. He adjusted his behavior for the company, but underneath, he was emotive and Machiavellian, “I have been here for five weeks and have not missed a single outing or opportunity to engage with those in the house.”

“But your mind has been very much elsewhere, has it not?” Ren asked, turning away from the pond, which he had watched with a focus so absolute, Rey wondered if it might not boil under his gaze, and turned his scorching eyes on her, “While you have been physically present to all those in the house, your particular preference for one occupant has made your company nearly impossible to receive and your attention has been rarely diverted since you arrived, although I am to understand that you shall receive much happiness as a result of such interactions.”

“Mr. Ren, I cannot understand your meaning. I must insist that you speak plainly.”

“Miss Kenobi, are you not engaged to Mr. Finn?” Mr. Ren said, his dark eyes cutting through her like a knife. He spoke quickly, like the words were being torn out of him, and when she saw the corner of his mouth twitch, Rey realised how much these words seemed to hurt Mr. Ren. They did, however, catch her completely off-guard.

“I beg your pardon?” Rey asked, almost unbalanced at the suddenness of such a question.

“You and Mr. Finn are engaged, are you not?” Mr. Ren said, his voice slower and yet less controlled.

“No, we are not.”

This garnered such a reaction from him that Rey found herself gasping from surprise. The man took a step back, eyes wide. He turned away from her, his eyes falling to the gravel road, “I was assured that you were,” he said, his voice tight. This was more emotion from him than he had ever seen. She could feel her own composure slipping as she realized, very suddenly, the reason for such emotion: she was the woman Mr. Ren had spoken of earlier.

“If this is true, then-”

“Mr. Ren, please speak no further,” Rey said, “I cannot discuss this with you. If I am correct in understanding the object of your regard, we can have nothing to say to each other. If I am wrong, I do not mind being a fool in this instance. You are too much for me, sir. There are too many secrets and too much that is both uncovered and hidden. I beg you give me leave to return to the house.”

She registered Ren’s disappointment. There was also something there, underneath, anger and frustration. She knew that, if she had any regard for him, she was about to lose any hope of maintaining his affection. However, Rey felt sure that any connection or promise now would only cause them both pain. There was something decidedly dark, lurking beneath the surface of Mr. Ren’s composure, and she knew she could not allow herself to be too close to it.

“Good day, madam.” Mr. Ren said, bowing his head and allowing Rey to depart for the house as quickly as was appropriate.