DISCLAMER: Ok, I'm so fool that I waste my time for no money, because STAR WARS isn't mine, but it's all George & C.'s stuffs (but you have known yet, haven't you?)
SUMMARY: Set 10 years before ANH - Wishing to become a more sympathetic parent, Owen Lars buys a book about modern pedagogic doctrines. Characters: Owen, Luke and Beru.
- This is translation of my Italian fiction "Istruzioni per allevare un eroe". Since the first translation had several mistakes (as you can see in the first reviews), frodogenic helped me a lot, betareading and fixing up this fanfiction. I thank her very much for her work.
- This fiction is little AU: It was written before ROTS and, since Leia's words in ROTJ, I guessed Padmé survived some years to Anakin's turn. But you'll see, it isn't very important here!
- K+ for some little curses and one non-explicit lightly violent shot.
Directions for Bringing Up a Hero
Owen Lars and Modern Pedagogic Doctrines
"Damned Jawas! I should hang one from every vaporator and leave them to rot under the suns!"
Owen Lars was so angry that he didn't care about what a ridiculous spectacle he must be making inside Tosche Station.
"A whole year's worth of savings! Do you know what that means?" He didn't pause to wait for an answer. "I paid a whole year's savings for that droid! They assured me it worked perfectly, of course but the motivator is completely broken. Do you know how much it's costing me for replacement parts?" he asked, more on a rant than expecting a response.
"Mmm… I'd say roughly five thousand," the retailer reckoned, piling memory cards, pistons, valves, bars, rollers, screws, cables and pins on the counter.
"Five thousand? That's sheer robbery!" Owen declared promptly.
"It's all first-rate goods."
"Yeah, just like Jawa goods." The farmer regretted his own causticity as soon as he had spoken. No point in getting mad at the shopkeeper: it was the Jawas who had tricked him, not this guy.
"Special price: four thousand, five hundred. And let's hear no more about it," the other man sighed, knowing how hard it could be to deal with Lars when he was irked.
Pleased, Owen paid without further complaint and, putting his goods in a box, he called loudly his nephew, who was supposed to be outside. "Luke!"
But the boy was just behind him and gave a start at hearing his name. He went forward, keeping his head down and creeping close by the wall. Then he asked in a very small voice, "Yes, sir?"
After his initial astonishment at the speedy answer, his uncle murmured coldly, "Already here? I guessed you were outside playing with other children. Now, help me load this box, so we can get back home."
Luke nodded and got down to work, keeping his head lowered.
Owen gazed at him for a while. For the past several days, his nephew had seemed shier than usual, almost in awe of him. This was one of those occasions that made him wonder if Beru was right, when she complained that he was being too strict with the boy.
As they brought the box out, Owen stopped to look at the most famous book in the galaxy, the best-seller of the moment, sold even on the lonely sands of Tatooine.
Dinner went on in the usual way of that last week: Owen railed at the Jawas' fraud, his wife tried to distract him from that obsessing thought, and Luke kept silent, having no desire to attract attention from his uncle, who had been even touchier than usual since the Jawa incident.
As soon as Beru started clear the table, her husband took out the bulky treatise he had just bought. He examined the Bordeaux fabric stiff hardbound cover and brushed his fingers over the title, engraved in precious golden letters. He read seldom, but he really needed whatever advice he could get that might improve family life in the Lars household. But if his reading was going to be profitable, the last thing he needed was constant bothering.
"Luke," he said, without lifting his eyes from the book, "it's time to go to bed."
"It's early!" the interested party protested from where he still sat at the table.
"I said, go to bed," Owen repeated sternly, this time looking directly at his nephew to be sure the boy understood it was an order and not a suggestion.
"But…" the boy whined.
His uncle slapped the table emphatically and sprang threateningly to his feet.
"On second thought, I'm a bit tired!" his nephew rectified promptly, and retreated to his room.
Pleased, Owen sat back down to read his book: How to Raise Your Child With Sympathy and Communication. He skimmed greedily through the index, but he was quickly disappointed: the book didn't boast a single chapter, or even little paragraph, about Force sensitive children or Sith's spawn. Ignoring this initial difficulty, he began to read here and there, looking for what he thought was most relevant to his own situation. Far into the night, he stopped unwillingly. He was tired out, but happy: now he had a least a summary idea of how he should behave. Before going to bed, he swore to study the book more methodically over the coming days. But he felt he knew enough now to start making changes in his behavior towards his nephew the very next morning.
"Talk" was the watchword, according to the book. Owen pondered this as he and Luke worked silently around the vaporator on south ridge. For a while he looked at the boy, who was busy regulating moisture drain cocks, tightening and loosening screws to align them with flasks. For the very first time, he understood how stifling that silence was, and realized that he himself had imposed it in order not to be distracted from work.
But how should he start now? He wiped away the sweat on the back of his neck and decided to let Luke pick the subject.
"Why don't we chat? Do you want to speak about something?"
His nephew just barely hid his instantaneous worry. Quickly he counted all the pranks he had been able to hide in the last weeks, trying anxiously to figure out which one his uncle wanted him to confess. He shook his head in denial, waiting for a clue so as not to reveal a crime his uncle didn't already know about.
"Don't you want to chat?" an amazed Owen asked.
Luke shook his head again.
"Well… I do! What should we talk about?" Owen pressed, beginning to be annoyed by Luke's clear unwillingness to cooperate.
"Why?" his nephew asked suspiciously.
"What do you mean, 'why'?" This time Owen's voice was louder than what usual civil conversation called for—why did this dratted boy have to be so difficult? "Because I want to! Now tell me what you'd like to talk about or so help me…"
"I'd-like-knowing-why-I-don't-have-my-parents," Luke stammered out the first thing he could think of.
His uncle regretted immediately that he had pressed. But at this point, he couldn't take back everything or get angry without losing his nephew's trust. He was sure he had read something like that the night before.
He sighed. He didn't feel ready to answer this question, but fortunately he had studied the chapter about adoptive children with great attention. He tried to clear his mind.
First: Telling the truth.
Well, wouldn't that be easy! Owen thought fast, trying to invent a suitable version of reality for his boy's psychic balance.
"Well, your mother died giving birth to you, and your father…your father was a navigator on a space freighter. A few months before your birth, his ship was attacked by pirates and the entire crew was killed." Owen glanced nervously at his nephew, trying to assess just how many of those lies the boy had believed. But, astonishingly, Luke appeared to be satisfied: it was the very first time that his curiosity had gotten an answer, instead of a rebuff.
Encouraged, he thought forward to Point Number Two.
It's important to make the child to understand his parents loved him, in order to prevent him from losing confidence in either motherly love or himself.
"You see," he went on, "they loved you. They were so excited about having a baby. They'd wanted so much to raise you."
Owen didn't believe a single word of his own speech. Luke was doubtless much better off away from those irresponsible parents of his. Until her dying day, Padmé had never once tried to get information about her son. And Anakin… well, Owen felt better not thinking about his stepbrother! But for his nephew's good, he wouldn't mind making the truth a bit nicer. Indeed, he thought it wise to emphasize that idea: "You know, no one can love a child like his own parents!"
Luke felt suddenly sad; he had never understood before how much he had lost in his parents. In his naivety, he had always thought his uncle and his aunt treated him as their own child! He lowered his glance, not wanting to show his sorrow to his uncle, who seemed to like talking for the first time.
But Owen didn't fail to see the worry on his nephew's face, and he instantly remembered Point Number Three:
Some children may have secret fear of being abandoned by their adoptive parents. You need to make it clear that never, no matter the situation, will that happen.
"But I and Beru do love you and we would never abandon you," he went on, happy to see his boy's plain relief. He thought he could make Luke more confident by binding this assurance to something more concrete than a vague love: "On the farm, a helper is always needed! We'll keep you here forever to work with us."
Luke nodded silently. So that was the reason they had received him in their home? He looked quickly away to the landscape, feeling a bit stifled. Here forever! The wide desert wastes seemed to him like impenetrable prison walls.
"Everything all right today on south ridge?"
Owen lifted his glance up from the book to meet the suspicious one of Beru, who was joining him in bed.
"It was. Why?" he answered defensively, not understanding what she could rebuff him for.
"I don't know. This evening Luke looks… upset."
Owen smiled. Not only was he not to blame this time for perceived family discord, he actually felt himself to honestly deserve some praise.
"Oh, he isn't. I guess he's just musing! Today he asked me about his parents… and I've answered all I've been able to," he hurried to add at Beru's instant frown. She knew all too well what usually happened after that question. Enjoying her surprise, he went on, showing the book he held: -"Look, here they explain how to deal this matter. Of course I couldn't tell everything, but I'm sure he's happier now—"
"Oh! I'm very proud of you!" his wife genuinely congratulated him, brightening up. "You actually got up the nerve to fix things and you even researched it!"
Next day, Luke came back from school silent, and as soon as he finished his dinner he retreated to his room with unusual speed. His uncle and his aunt decided by a glance to ignore his attitude for the moment.
As usual, Beru begin to clean the kitchen. Her husband, thoughtfully resting in his seat, saw their nephew come hesitatingly back, holding his notepad. Luke quickly slipped it under Owen's nose and moved back nervously a few steps to wait.
Owen sighed: he knew what this was about. In spite of his very good marks, at school sometimes Luke lacked discipline, argued with friends and got into fist fights. His uncle had always strictly repressed his misbehavior, but the boy didn't improve. Owen took the notepad up, read vacantly the usual note and touched the screen to input his finger-print, an un-falsifiable sign that he had read.
Maybe it was time to find another way of dealing with this problem.
Try to understand deeply reasons of a bad attitude, Owen mentally reviewed and kept his tone quiet—albeit with some difficulty.
"Why do you insist on getting into fights with your friends?" eventually he asked, studiously keeping his gaze on the datapad screen.
Luke understood neither the reaction nor the question. "I don't go in fights with all my friends, just Fixer!"
"So, why do you get into fights with Fixer?"
"Because he says my mother was a no-good and she abandoned me, and she didn't even know who my father was," the boy answered matter-of-factly.
"WHAT?!!" his uncle roared, shocked and scandalized. He glanced up to his nephew. "Why didn't you tell me so before?"
"I didn't guess that was important," Luke justified himself, worried that he had worsened his predicament.
And how would he have known otherwise, since Owen had never asked before? Owen felt sudden guilt: how had he been so unfair to have never investigated? It would have been so very easy.
But he could still make up!
"Come with me!" He stood up and grabbed the arm of his nephew, who gulped, expecting the usual punishment.
"But, uncle, I'm cold and tired," Luke begged, looking at the second moon rising as the night air brushed his skin.
"Stop whining like a little girl and hit in the way I've just taught you!" Owen ordered.
Luke gathered his last scrap of strength and punched his uncle's palm.
"Owen, that's absurd!" Beru's voice resounded in the underground courtyard, as she came out from the house, dressed just in her night shirt. She had both hands on her hips: bad sign, her husband thought, glancing at her.
"It isn't! He's weak," he noted, lightly pinching Luke's scrawny bicep for proof. "He'll never win if he doesn't know a few tricks!"
"Owen, we don't WANT him fighting!"
"He should defend his mother's honor!"
"Of course, but in a fairer way." Beru turned to her nephew. "Tomorrow you're going to tell Fixer, if he says those things again, we'll have to have a talk with his parents. And now, everybody in bed: we're all tired!" Owen knew better than to argue with THAT tone.
The next days passed more peacefully than ever. Owen's new behavior was showing wonderful results: Luke seemed happier and more cooperative. But the farmer hadn't realized just how much more cooperative! That afternoon going into the garage, he caught his nephew carefully cleaning the new droid, which still needed some new parts to work properly.
When the boy noticed his presence, he began to babble in fright. "I… I just wanted…"
"You're very good to clean it without having to be told," his uncle comforted him, very gratified by his nephew's initiative. He decided Luke deserved something more than mere praise.
Try to reward your child by giving him a bit of your free time, not buying toys: your attention is more important to him.
Owen remembered this suggestion well, because he liked it very much. He thought it was socially fair, not requiring cash outlays that poorer parents couldn't meet. So, he continued, "I was thinking…don't you like playing?"
Luke nodded hesitantly, but he turned just a moment to look at the new droid, feeling guilty about not finishing his chore.
"Don't worry: you'll have plenty of time to finish cleaning it before it's fixed," his uncle reassured him, anticipating his objection. "Now, come play… with me!"
His nephew glanced at him skeptically and then ventured: "But couldn't you bring me to Biggs', please?"
"No, no friends. Today WE'RE having fun together!"
"All right." The disappointed boy gave up quickly, knowing how hard it was to change his uncle's mind. He'd better just take what he could get.
In spite the initial awkwardness, Owen found out how easy forgetting his age was, as he curled up round a corner to play being a Tusken against a farmer. He felt just like he was ten again!
Luke overcame his distrust too, and quickly got used to his unusual playmate. After a quick diverting action, he succeeded in surprising Owen from the back. Aiming a fictitious blaster at his nape, he threatened him with gusto.
"Damned Tusken! I'm gonna hang you on the first vaporator and let you rot under the suns!"
The violence of that curse was too much for the uncle to ignore. Turning, he stood up and yelled, "Where'd you learn language like that?!!"
Luke frowned and answered with an unusually challenging tone. "From you!"
Perhaps suns had unexpectedly doubled their beams, or a silent hot wind had begun to blow from south. Whatever it was, Owen felt his face begin to boil and his mind to spin, as he remembered himself saying exactly those words, thinking his nephew hadn't been near. Uncomfortable, he bent down to the boy's height and, putting his hand on his shoulder, he looked for very easy words to explain a very hard concept:
"Well, sometimes, things are different because of circumstances. At the moment we're just playing and it's really bad using that curse just for fun. But in my case, the Jawas had tricked me and I was really angry. It's different, don't you see?"
Looking at Luke, who nodded weakly and glanced down guiltily, his uncle was amazed that his short lecture had hit the mark so well. When they began to play again, the boy couldn't have fun as before. Then Owen began to feel uncomfortable, but he got really worried that evening, when, sitting in his chair for dinner, his nephew seemed to still be sad. Had he made a mistake? He referred to his faithful book to look for a clue. Nothing! His previous talk was literally right out of the handbook. His only recourse was ask the person concerned.
"Luke, are you all right?"
The boy sat there silently, pondering possible courses of action.
"You know we can talk peacefully, if you have some troubles," Owen pressed him gently.
Luke glanced doubtfully at him for another long moment and then burst into sobs. "It wasn't Jawas' fault!" he wailed. "It was mine! The motivator worked perfectly before I cleaned it! But I wanted to finish in a hurry so I could play and so I forgot to check the lubrication. When I turned on the droid, its engine caught on fire and most of it burned up. Then, I tried to fix everything, but I didn't have enough parts and I couldn't…" And as he calmed down, he begged, "Uncle Owen, please, forgive me!"
But for once his uncle was without words. He stood up, trying to keep his anger under control. Stiffly he looked at his trembling nephew, who still wept softly from regret and fear. The farmer hadn't a clue how to deal with this. He held the pedagogy book as though hoping for a suggestion via osmosis, with a single thought running through his head: "I paid a year's worth of savings and he forgot lubrication… I paid a year's worth of savings and he forgot lubrication … I paid a year's worth of savings and he forgot lubrication…"
Luke couldn't help but complain every time the gauze skimmed the cut just above his left eyebrow.
"Be patient, honey: I'm almost done," his aunt tried to encourage him, as she cleaned the wound. "Fortunately your head is strong!" she added, looking at the black bruise that covered half of his forehead and swelled where the book had hit violently.
Shaking her head, she sighed, "Let's just hope next time your uncle will study how to become a more sympathetic parent reading a pocket edition!"