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The Storm

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He wonders if she remembers.

He does.

And he keeps the memory alongside others; all of them cherished.

The Jedi don’t set stock in possessions.

A paradox, given the opulent temple on Coruscant, but that is shared by all even if it is administered by the few, and what he has in the temple belongs to the Order, save what no one else cares to take.

But this memory, this picture, is his and he keeps it in the only place left to himself – his mind.

There the colours never fade and the lines never blur. It is never blue like the holovids, never thins like the ‘graphs.

And he is glad.

Because Satine’s hair had threads of gold, and her skin was peach and pink and cream. The tip of her nose turned red in the cold and he remembers – so carefully – that she had black dirt under her nails. Smears of grey dust on her boots.

He remembers how the rain slicked her brown jacket and the grimy white shirt beneath the jacket clung to her curves.

He remembers her smile, her lips cracking from exposure and exhaustion and from the way she used to chew on them in her stress. So young she hadn't learned to swallow back her fears.

And there are other pictures of her that he carries in his head – of her crying quietly in the night, and Qui-Gon’s hand on his shoulder and a silent shake of the head. Of both of them leaving her to her doubts and grief and misery alone. And yet her smile in the morning light, her unflinching hope for a new day and a better future. Her belief in the basic goodness of her people.

There is no woman like her.

He can still smile at his younger self, wishing that she would pick up a blaster or a sword or even just a big rock to defend herself against the incursions of rebels who wanted her dead. But just as they refused to fight a war for her, she refused to kill to protect herself.

“Help us to help you,” he’d argued.

“I will not help you commit murder,” she’d returned.

And Qui-Gon had simply let them argue, standing quietly by and watching over their safety.

Two opposing forces; neither willing to compromise.

But oh, the spark when they clashed.

Her eyes like ice and fire, and his heart a war drum in his chest. The sense of them in the Force like a storm.

He carries that picture along with the taste of rain on his lips and the smell of wet decaying leaves.

Her laugh pure delight as she stood in the rain and pirouetted. The only flowers in her hair the wild petalmeres he had picked just to see her flagging spirit brighten.

And he had known then that watching her was a privilege. A secret never to be shared with anyone else except perhaps his Master, who had chosen in his delicate way to leave her to her private emotions.

But he hadn’t.

And there she had been, dancing in the rain. Hungry, filthy, and dispossessed, but shining with the joy of life.

And his heart had ached with how much he wanted to join her. The storm of her passion and the stone of her belief – unshakeable and unstoppable.

He carries that picture in his head.

In colder moments, he draws it out and meditates on it.

Because the irony is that to be worthy of her, he couldn’t abandon the Jedi Code. He couldn’t betray his own beliefs.

Not even for her.

And he knows, as he runs careful mental fingers over the clear lines of her memory, that she is the only one who would have ever understood.

It never fails to make him smile.