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Les Oiseaux qu'on Met en Cage (The Birds They Put in Cages)

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He watched her training from the edge of the cliff where he usually stood.

He took pleasure in seeing her swift instinctive movements, her keen desire to master lightsaber fighting. He liked how his father’s weapon looked and moved in her hands. As if the saber was constructed by her. Or as if it had chosen her as its new master.

He took pleasure in one more thing. While training, she didn’t think of Ben Solo at all.

For some queer reason, Luke couldn’t stand a trace of such thoughts in Rey’s mind. During her first days at Atch-To, they were not unfrequent.

Once he felt Rey thinking about going to “Supremacy” secretly and trying to help Kylo Ren return. Panicked, Luke woke up immediately and began searching the girl. He didn’t find her in the Force at once, and finally sat on a stone near his hut, sad and exhausted.

Luke imagined Rey met by Kylo who opened before her the doors of his rooms, the girl smiling brightly to her prisoner…

He shuddered at the thought of Kylo and Rey staying together and literally cried “Rey, beware of him! Run away!” Then Luke lowered his eyes and saw his reflection in the waters of the mountain spring under his feet. The weary face of an aged man.

He imagined young, self-satisfied Kylo’s face and whispered bitterly:

“You’re right, Rey… so that is how a man should be – he need only have a handsome outside!”

Suddenly Luke heard behind his back the familiar sound of a lightsaber swishing in the air and cutting small grass of the island. His heart jumped with joy and pleasure. She didn’t leave him. She stayed here and was training.

He was ready to dance of delight aroused by such simple news.

In the same evening it dawned upon Luke that the Rey’s insistent thoughts about Ben, or Kylo, were not her own, but imposed on her mind by Snoke’s wicked will.

He touched her mind very carefully in the Force and saw distinctly the whole plan – to deceive the poor girl, to get her come into the trap on “Supremacy”, to torture her and make her tell Snoke and Kylo Luke Skywalker’s location. And then execute her by Force-choking.

Then, while Rey was sleeping, Luke tried his best at Force mind efforts and finally broke this horrible connection, almost audibly hearing Snoke’s displeased roaring.

Since that night Rey thoughts about Kylo Ren became quite rare and unclear to him.

And Luke composed a song.

From time to time, he whispered, like a prayer, this melancholy and fantastic text, without rhyme or rhythm:

“Look not on the face,
Maiden, look upon the heart.
The heart of a fair youth is oft unsightly;
There be hearts that cannot hold love long.
Maiden, the pine’s not fair to see,
Not fair to see as the poplar is,
But it keeps its green the winter through.

“Alas, ’tis vain to speak like this!
What is not fair ought not to be;
Beauty will only beauty love;
April looks not on January.

“Beauty is perfect.
Beauty can do all.
Beauty is the only thing that does not live by halves.”

He didn’t know whether Rey heard his song or not; he wasn’t sure about her real Force abilities.

A week later, late in the evening, he meditated at the edge of the cliff, as usual. Rey wasn’t seen anywhere, she probably went to her hut to have some rest. But Luke was happy just to know she was near. He had already decided that in a few days he would come together with her back. To those who had been waiting for him so long. Now Luke was ready for this, and full of strength and inspiration.

As for his feelings for Rey… Luke was still reluctant to tell her. She was worth of more than this, thought he. She had suffered too much, been alone too long, and, finally was just too sweet and beautiful to be attached to an aged grey-haired man.

“You’d spent here almost the whole day watching my training, Master Skywalker. Would you like some water?” suddenly heard he soft voice, the dearest to him in the Galaxy.

He turned and saw Rey, reaching out a hand with a bottle of fresh water to him.

Luke flinched.

On Tatooine, when somebody offered you water, it meant that friendship was offered. Even more than friendship - it meant that you might trust the offerer even with your life.

Without doubt Luke took the bottle from Rey’s hands, and drank eagerly. She smiled to him, and this smile was like a sunbeam for his outraged soul.

“Listen, Rey” said he with an effort, “I have something to say to you.”

She signed to him that she was listening. He sighed deeply, opened his lips, seemed for a moment to be on the point of speaking, then looked her in the face, recollected something, shook his head, and slowly turned away.

The next moment he felt her little hand on his shoulder and heard Rey’s voice speaking:

“Don’t hesitate to say that, Luke. I know everything”.

***

She felt him watching her almost every day.

He told her on the day of their meeting that he was not ready to take any decision yet. But she might stay at the island until he made up his mind about that. She might train, and he would watch her trainings, support and guide her in the Force.

And he kept his word. Though they almost never talked, Rey really felt Luke's support, and his guidance was of great help for her.

Then, later, she began feeling something new. Something - more than simple interest in her success, more than a Master’s care about a Padawan. These were traces of utmost tenderness and devotion. Only traces, subtle shades of these feelings – as if the person who experienced them tried to conceal them from her. But still, she felt.

She felt not only this. There were also shades of suffering, of deep wounds which hadn’t been healed through the years. The man who tried to heal and warm her with the heat of his heart, was nearly broken himself. But still, he was surely ready to give the last drop of blood for her.

She would find some food or warm blankets in her hut when she woke up in the mornings. Once the invisible hand repaired the little crack on the hilt of her lightsaber, while she was sleeping. The other day she found a bunch of beautiful flowers in a small container on the window of the hut.

But the dearest gift to her from Luke was given when one morning Rey discovered that someone freed her from a bond with Kylo Ren, from the connection that tortured and abused her, from the bond that made Rey almost forget her real self.

Luke had never approached Rey very closely, as if he felt embarrassed in her presence. But she managed to notice that he had a kind, slightly sad and noble face, and awesome deep-blue eyes. The expression in these eyes (when she caught once his look at her) was that of pure worship and affection.

Since the morning of her freedom from Kylo’s mind attacks, every day she got up with the thought of Luke. She compared him with Ben Solo and admired Luke. She wanted to see him, to feel him watching her trainings. To speak to him. To share her feelings and thoughts with him.

Sometimes in her mind Rey heard his song, tender and hopeless. Oh, how much did she wanted to tell him that he was wrong! But when she tried to approach Luke, he would notice this and go away before she appeared.

That evening she caught a moment when he wasn’t watching her, and decided to try one more time, offering him what she thought most dear – a bottle of fresh water.

On Jakku, when you offer water to someone, it meant that you trusted this person with your heart and soul. That’s why it was one of the ways to confess your feelings to your dearest one. Did Luke guess that or not? Rey didn’t know, but was sure he might feel everything and read it in her eyes.

She blushed when reaching out her hand with a bottle. For a second, she felt like in the moment when she gave Luke his lightsaber and he refused it, saying that it belonged to her now.

But this time everything was different. He took the bottle at once, and drank from it with pleasure, never tearing his eyes off her. Rey felt warm waves in her stomach and flame in her chest, when Luke began speaking and, as usual, broke himself and looked away, embarrassed.

No. Not this time. She wouldn’t allow him suppress his feelings any longer. She needed them. She needed him loving her, trusting her, taking her love doubtlessly.

“Don’t hesitate to say that, Luke. I know everything”, exclaimed she, putting her hand on his shoulder.

He turned and glanced at her, shocked, half-believing.

“I know what you feel”, said Rey, looking straight into his eyes and taking both his hands in hers. “And I love you, too.”

Luke knelt before her and hugged the girl silently, while Rey was gently stroking his hair. She knew now that she, like him, was ready to give for him everything she had to give.

***

Almost nothing changed this evening when the sun was setting over the first Jedi island at Atch-To.

To say nothing of the two, kissing passionately at the edge of the most picturesque cliff near the Temple.

The children outraged by life were learning to love again.