... ... ...
There was a new student coming. Or, rather, Uncle Luke had just left to go and fetch the new student. Some stupid force ‘prodigy’ named Harrison. That’s all Ben had heard before Luke had flown off on his ship, leaving the sixteen-year-old in charge of the temple.
That part was cool. The rest of it? Not so much.
He groaned as he led the other initiates through the morning exercise routines, led the little ducklings to get breakfast, and after that: meditation.
It was boring and Ben didn’t want to do it. This was never the life he imagined for himself. Yeah, it was cool to be able to move objects through the Force and all that garbage, but it just…
Wasn’t for him.
… … …
It took an entire standard day for Uncle Luke to return with the stupid new prodigy. Ben had been in charge for an entire day and he was annoyed. The kids at the temple had so many questions that he just didn’t know how to answer, and the ones he did know the answers to were inane and repetitive.
Yeah, he was Ben Solo, son of Princess Leia. Yeah, his father was Han Solo. Yeah. Yeah. YEAH.
But Luke was finally back and he could be in charge again. Though telling all those brats what to do had been fun…
… … …
If Ben was being honest with himself, and he tried to be most of the time, the new kid wasn’t very impressive.
At eight years old he wasn’t the youngest there, barely, but he was definitely the shortest. Harrison “Call me Harry” also had the same messy black hair Ben did and even though their faces looked nothing alike people kept commenting on how they could be related. It was annoying and Ben felt like he just might hate Harrison “Call me Harry”.
But Uncle Luke said that, as a Jedi, he shouldn’t feel hate like that and he should let his emotions go into the Force or something.
So, after everyone crowded around the new kid, Ben left so he could go meditate.
Maybe it would help.
… … …
It didn’t help. Nothing helped. Clearing his mind and ‘purging his emotions to the Force’ only left him feeling hollow and frustrated. It’d been an entire year since Harry had arrived and the brat had quickly become the top student at the temple. The handful of students that were younger than the nine-year-old and most of the older students were in awe of Harry’s powers with the Force and respected him for it.
Ben hated him for it.
Ben was the son of a SKYWALKER! He was supposed to be the best! HE was the most Force-sensitive, so why…!? WHY!?
Screaming out his rage, Ben smashed his fist into the wall of his room. When his voice finally gave out he pressed his forehead to the abused wall, panting from the force of his fury. He could hear these traitorous whispers in the back of his mind. They had been happening since around the time that Harry had been brought to the temple.
Ben wanted to scratch at his head until the insidious whispers went away… but… Snoke listened in a way that Uncle Luke didn’t anymore.
Luke had too many students already and turned down every time-conserving idea Ben brought up-- mentorships, buddy systems, AI training all ignored-- and still took on so many side-projects that his nephew was pretty much a non-priority. At least, before, Ben had been included on interesting missions like the hunt for old Jedi artifacts lost during and after the Clone Wars.
The last time that Luke allowed Ben on a mission was when he had met the Knights of Ren. Ren had offered Ben a place in their ranks, even though he was Light Side. Ren said he could ‘sense’ Ben’s potential with the Dark Side.
Ben could sense it too.
Especially in moments like this.
“He is not worthy to teach one like you,” Snoke whispered to him through the Force. Ben grit his teeth and settled himself at the desk in his room. “Someone with your talent…”
“Shut up,” Ben spoke aloud to reinforce the command, pulling his journal towards him and some calligraphy pens. He enjoyed writing in this way. It was something that worked to soothe his mind almost better than meditation, certainly better than ‘giving his emotions to the Force’.
In the back of his mind, Snoke still whispered to him, but while he was writing, it was much easier to ignore him.
Until Snoke brought up Harry and the entire cycle started again.
… … …
Several of the learners at the temple were gone today to forge their Lightsabers. Ben’s felt heavy at his side, but he knew he had earned it long ago.
Harry was gone with the group, a young teen of fourteen who acted older than Ben did at twenty-two. The absence of that stupid prodigy made the entire temple feel so much better. Then again, Ben was the only one who felt that way. Everyone else missed the brat.
Ben was wandering the grounds when he heard the ship returning. By the time he approached, most of the new Jedi had shown off their new lightsabers in a sea of mostly blue and some green.
One lightsaber stood out in a bright white and Ben sneered when he remembered the old classic meaning of colors. Most didn’t hold to that anymore, but he could remember.
Neutral. Harry was a neutral Force user.
It made sense when he thought back to how Harry was rather defiant in the face of Luke’s teachings and most things to do with the Jedi. But, at the same time, Harry didn’t agree with any teachings of the Dark Side that Ben had been learning from Snoke.
He really was truly neutral…
Something Ben knew he couldn’t be anymore.
… … …
The HoloNews was clamoring about how Lord Mellowyn of Birren had died. As his closest living relative was Senator Organa, she was being offered the leadership of their planet. She wasn’t interested though. His mom spoke for him and said that he wasn’t interested either, without actually consulting him, and now Lady Carise Sindian was the ruler.
And then the news turned on to explain his mother’s true parentage.
About how she was the daughter of Anakin Skywalker.
Anakin Skywalker who was actually Darth Vader.
How he was the grandson of Darth Vader.
… He was the grandson of Darth VADER?
WHY HAD NO ONE EVER TOLD HIM!?
In the privacy of his room, he fumed silently. Or as silently as he could. He had learned his lesson five years ago when he had nearly destroyed a wall in his rage and the lecture from Luke wasn’t worth it. He could still feel the saintly do-gooder disapproval from that one.
He threw his feelings into the Force and Snoke answered him as always.
He listened and explained and urged him.
The Jedi were not the right way.
Come to the Dark side.
You can be strong. You can lead.
Come and take your rightful place.
Ben tried to shut him out, but … But if he was the grandson of Darth Vader… wasn’t the Dark Side really his rightful place? A birthright, even?
Just because his mother sent him off to Luke to be trained doesn’t mean that the Light Side was right for him, it just meant that she never bothered to try and learn the tenets of the Dark Side. How it was so much more than evil and lightning hands and corruption. Those were human elements. Human choices.
She hadn’t even finished her Jedi training, so how could she possibly understand the Force the way he did? She couldn’t. She just had a bad experience with one Sith and villainized the rest of the Dark Side.
He scoffed to himself about her hypocrisy, when she claimed to be a political advocate for equality.
Clearly the Dark Side is where he truly belonged. But to leave all that he knew…?
… … …
Elsewhere in the Galaxy, Snoke chuckled as his plans were coming to fruition.
… … …
Luke was worried… He could see the darkness building in his nephew. He had seen it in fleeting moments during their training, increasingly so in the last couple of years.
It was this worry that drove him to do what he did, or at least that was the excuse that Luke made to himself.
He looked into Ben’s mind.
And he saw the darkness there.
His heart had been turned. He would bring destruction, pain, and death… the end of everything Luke loved…
For the smallest of seconds, his instincts told him to stop it. To put an end to this darkness. All it took was that smallest of seconds to push a button. The sound of his saber turning on woke up Ben and Luke knew that he had fucked up.
There was no eloquent way of putting it. He’d fucked up royally.
Ben force summoned his own lightsaber to defend himself and the next thing Luke knew, the entire house had been brought down on top of him.
… … …
‘BETRAYED!!!’ Ben stumbled away from the collapsed house, holding a hand to his stomach-- he may have cracked a rib?-- but it was his mind that was screaming. ‘Betrayed! How could Un-- No! HOW COULD HE DO THAT? That… That…’
“Jedi… That foolish Jedi…”
“YES!” Ben groaned aloud, looking to the sky and the storms brewing there and then to the temple where the other students were rushing out. “Foolish… Jedi!”
Like a scene from a bad holo-vid, lightning broke the sky and struck a nearby tree, setting it aflame. Ben turned to look at the tree and then the students rushing towards him with their lightsabers raised.
They were yelling about how he had killed ‘Master Skywalker’ and Ben scoffed. He raised himself to his full height and brought his saber to bare against those foolish enough to fight against the legacy of Vader.
Ben had killed several of these Jedi hopefuls when he felt something impede his footsteps.
“What?” He looked down to see what looked like his actual shadow holding him in place. Looking back up, Ben spotted HIM. That insufferable…
“Oh? Hello Ben,” Harry wiggled his fingers in a mockery of a wave to him and Ben struggled against these shadows that held him in place. “I’ll be with you in just a moment, hang tight.” The teen in front of him was redirecting the students away from Ben and towards the fallen Skywalker hut to see if their master still lived beneath the rubble.
They were doubtful, but since they respected Harry, they did as he commanded.
No one ever did that for Ben.
He raised his hand to use the Force to make the students stop, but Harry raised his own hand and Ben felt his entire body lock into place. If those strange shadows weren’t wrapping around his legs, he probably would have fallen over.
What kind of Force power was this!? It didn’t feel light or dark, just… It just WAS.
“So you did notice that eh?” Harry casually lit his lightsaber and twirled it around like it wasn’t a giant light stick of death. “It’s not exactly the Force, Ben.” The teen approached the older Jedi and grinned at him, all teeth, like a shark. “You tried to create quite the mess here, didn’t you?”
“He tried to kill me!” Ben finally spoke in his own defense, but Harry didn’t appear to listen, tsking his tongue.
“And look at all that you killed?” Harry gestured around them at the fallen students, all younger than Ben.
“They came at me first! It was self-defense!”
Harry opened his mouth to say something then paused to scratch his chin. “You do have a point. You should have listened to your uncle first though, you naughty Dark boy. There may be cookies on the Dark Side, but it isn’t the answer.”
“Cookies. They’re delicious, trust me I know. Dark chocolate and fudge with marshmallow bits and caramel…”
Ben stared at Harry, confused and incredulous. “What are you talking about!?”
The teen Jedi in front of him stopped waxing poetic about cookies and turned back to look at Ben. He tilted his head and then reached out a hand and angled Ben’s head in a specific way. “Holy shit, SNAPE?”
“WHO?” Ben raged, thrashing against the power that held him still.
“Nononono… No. Wait. No.” Harry took a step back and put the heels of his hands to his temples, rubbing viciously. The teen was muttering to himself and somehow it allowed whatever was holding Ben in place to slip and he felt his body reanimate.
He immediately fell into an attack position and did just that.
Not even paying attention, Harry parried the blow. Ben made a noise of anger, glaring at the look that Harry was giving him. Even when Harry was completely worn from training all day, Ben had yet to beat him in a spar.
But that was before Ben had felt it, before he had given himself fully to the Dark Side like he had now. He turned his rage into strength and pushed Harry back and quickly swung again, only to be blocked.
“Self-defense, huh?” Harry muttered as he seemed to forget whatever he had been thinking about previously and focus fully on this sword fight.
For several minutes they exchanged blows. The remaining apprentices had been joined by R2D2 who helpfully beeped that he could sense ‘Master Luke’ was still alive under the rubble. This elated them and they worked harder, a combination of the Force and manual labour to clear away the debris.
Harry and Ben, however, were completely unaware.
(Well, Ben was. Harry knew. Harry already knew that Luke was alive for obvious reasons).
Ben felt like his rage would allow him to win until Harry pulled out what looked like a carved stick.
“What is--?” He began to ask when somehow the stick ignited in a beam of light that resembled… a LIGHTSABER? “WHAT IS that!?”
“This is my--... What the fuck?” Harry trailed off, looking at his glowing stick that was cycling through colors. “What are you, a mood ring?” He tapped the stick against the hilt of his actual lightsaber and the colors shifted again. With Harry’s clear annoyance, the stick’s light was glowing an orangey-red.
“Well, whatever,” Harry literally shrugged it off and fell into a dual-wielding fighting stance that Ben did not know he knew.
Ben snarled, threw his rage into the Force again and breathed in the Dark and dove back into the fight.
He really shouldn’t have been surprised when he earned both sabers-- or saber and stick-- to the gut. He consoled himself with the fact that Harry had got as good as he gave, several deep lightsaber wounds on his body, including a through-and-through on his arm.
Harry stood in front of Ben and deactivated both of his weapons. When Ben tilted forward, Harry caught him and gently lowered him to the ground. Dying via instantly cauterized gut wound was as painful as Ben had imagined.
In the back of his mind, he could vaguely hear Snoke’s fury through the Force, but he was mostly focused on the Living Force in front of him.
“Self-defense…” He mumbled, coughing harshly and feeling how it was wet. Ben looked up at Harry who was holding him most gently. “I hate you, you know?”
“I know,” Harry grinned in response, resting a hand over the dual wounds. “You didn’t exactly hide it well.”
“Uncle Luke never knew,” Ben retorted, the sentenced ending with several harsh coughs.
Harry scoffed and Ben felt something push into his wounds, numbing the pain. “That’s what you think. Why do you think he was in your room tonight? Sure as fuck wasn’t to tuck you in.”
At twenty-six, Ben would hope not.
“He was reading your mind. Your intentions. Through the Force,” continued Harry as Ben coughed some more, feeling the world go a bit dim around the edges. “He could sense how much you had fallen to the Dark Side. I think it probably scared him.”
With a small shrug, Harry finished with, “It was merely instincts. You reacted with instincts too. But trying to kill your uncle, even if in perceived self-defense, is never a good idea. Familicide never is. Though this was technically Avunculicide...”
Ben nodded, feeling the Force slowly leaving him. Part of him wondered if he should apologize. Say he was sorry for trying to kill Luke, but he wasn’t really sorry. That was part of the problem, wasn’t it?
“It’s too bad you never got to meet her,” Harry mused as he pulled his hand away from Ben’s stomach and just as Ben was wondering who Harry was talking about, he breathed his last.
… … …
Harry looked down at the body in his arms as one of the young students came up to him to say that they had found Luke and they were bringing him to the temple to heal. Some of the older learners had made sure that the temple didn’t burn from the fire that smoldered around them.
“Good job,” Harry told the girl, ruffling the hair on her head then turning to look down at his lap and Ben disappeared into the Force. ‘Such a weird death,’ mused the teen, strangely reminded of other lives he had lived where people disappeared like that.
Though usually there was a lot more green involved in that life.
With nothing but a pile of clothes left, Harry got to his feet and scooped up Ben’s lightsaber. He clipped to his belt, next to his own and the holster he had made for the Phoenix Wood wand that had, apparently, followed him to this universe too.
This thing was more loyal than the Elder wand, which wasn’t loyal at all, and definitely more than his original wand.
Well, any other wand he had ever used really.
This thing was the best!
Harry gave it a little pet, muttered, “precious…” and went up to the temple.
On the way, he waved his hand to the fires and put the rest of them out.
He had a Jedi Master to heal up, after all.
… … …
YOU LIVED A GOOD LIFE MASTER.
Was the first thing that Death said to Harry when he finally appeared there after living out that life.
It had taken a few years after the death of Ben Solo for Harry to actually die himself. He had actually lived into his twenties!
“Yeah… Yeah I did,” Harry replied, looking down at all the Jedi who gathered for his funeral. He had died in battle and his body had already disappeared into the Force by then, but it was nice to see this kind of peace.
Luke was even still alive with his new prodigy apprentice in the form of Rey, Just Rey. That ex-stormtrooper too, Pin or something? Harry wasn’t sure. He had spent way too long tracking down and destroying the Supreme Leader Snoke (which had been stupidly easy for Harry) and the Knights of Ren (noticeably more difficult simply because of numbers.)
That’s what had killed him in the end. Taking a giant buster type sword in the gut-- and why the fuck didn’t they use lightsabers like other Sith?-- would definitely do that to someone.
At least a sword to the gut was a familiar death to Harry by now. (seriously, was this number four or five?)
“It felt good to feel Balance in the Force,” mused Harry, watching the funeral for a bit more before turning to Death. “The Force was fun. I wouldn’t mind coming back.”
Harry felt like Death raised an eyebrow at him with that comment.
“Oh come on, we both know that I go back to worlds,” Death’s attempt to lie by omission was literally waved away. “But never right away. So where to next?”
… … …