Author's Note: This was written in response to a writing challenge from my friend, and inspired by the story of Turin Turambar in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion. It's not really complete, but I decided to post it anyway after a lot of pressure from aforementioned friend, and there will NOT be any more of it. Keep in mind that this is NOT slash, and may not be interpreted as such. WARNING: Don't read this if you are in the mood for some happy fluff.
Obi-Wan could barely see him, but he felt Ferus nudge gently at his mind, the mental equivalent of a beckoning finger. Ferus was peering over the edge of the cliff, and when Obi-Wan joined him, Ferus wordlessly gestured downward, and Obi-Wan's gaze fell over several slavers setting up camp for the night. Pack nuuku stamped their six feet, snorting softly, and the slavers spoke to one another in muted tones as they laid out bedding on the ground. The entire scene was lit only by a single portable glo-lamp, hanging from a stark, leafless tree branch, and beneath the gnarled trunk lay a single form, bound hand and foot, eyes closed.
It was Anakin.
It had been so long since Obi-Wan had seen his former apprentice, pain-ridden months filled with falsely-lifted spirits and hopes that were raised only to be dashed, that the Knight had practically given up. He had refused to hope and be cruelly disappointed yet again. But as he looked upon Anakin's helpless form, missed for so long, he felt that tonight, it was all over. Nothing could go wrong when they were so close, he was sure of it. As one, elation and relief and pure, sweet joy rose up within him, making him feel almost giddy.
The slavers had almost finished setting up—most of them settled into bed, while one remained standing. This one, his tanned face illuminated by the glow of the lamp, strode impatiently over to the tree and prodded Anakin with the toe of his boot to ascertain that the Jedi was indeed asleep. When satisfied, he reached up and switched the lamp off, then presumably made his way back to his bed in utter darkness.
This was it.
This was it.
Obi-Wan's heart was pounding furiously, stubbornly ignoring his years of Jedi training in the wisdom of the words, "There is no passion; there is serenity." Anakin was his once again.
Without a word spoken, Ferus knew what Obi-Wan intended to do. Together, they made their way down the winding path that led to the foot of the cliff. Obi-Wan pulled the short dagger out of his belt as he walked, careful to feel around with the Force before taking each step. Ferus walked behind, one hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder to guide himself.
No sooner were they level with the camping ground than Obi-Wan was racing toward Anakin—all restraint had deserted him. If he tried hard, he could see the rough outline of the dead tree against the darkened sky, and Obi-Wan headed straight for it, leaving Ferus behind. He fell swiftly to his knees underneath the trunk, and his outstretched hand first touched hard dirt, then rough, ragged cloth.
Slowly, his eyes began adjusting to the dimness—he could make out Anakin's form, lying on his back in the dirt. His hands were tied in front of him, and so he couldn't run away, his ankles were lashed roughly together as well. Anakin's lips were parted, his eyes shut tightly, his face turned toward Obi-Wan. When he could see well enough, Obi-Wan reached out and gingerly began sawing through the ropes around Anakin's feet. He thought of the countless nights Anakin had endured in this fashion, sleepless at first and then he would grow used to it over time, and in Obi-Wan's emotional whirlwind, he could not stop a tear from running down his cheek. Oh, my Anakin, be safe and I will never let you leave me again, never, never again…
The dagger was not as sharp as it should have been, and it was difficult for Obi-Wan to see exactly where he was cutting. His fingers felt thick and clumsy, stiff from the cold, and Obi-Wan was terribly afraid that he would cut Anakin in the process. Thus, it was several minutes before he managed to slice through the ropes at Anakin's feet, then he immediately began work on his wrists.
It will be over soon—this will all be over, like nothing but a bad dream, he promised, to both Anakin and himself.
Sleep never came easily in such circumstances as Anakin had to endure, but over time he had learned to ignore the shouts of laughter and muttered words, the sharp, random jabs in the ribs and the roots and stones that jutted out of the dirt.
But what woke him out of his slumber this night was none of those things. It was the unmistakable prick of sharpened metal. It had happened before, his captors being possessed of a warped idea of entertainment—one or two of them, gleeful at having such a helpless victim, would dig the tips of their vibro-shivs into him, sometimes going so far as to nick shallow cuts into his skin. Always Anakin could do nothing, only close his eyes and pray that they would tire of this game soon. But the figure kneeling over him in the darkness had made a mistake—the vibro-shiv was so close to his hands—if only he could grab it—
Anakin moved before he thought, adrenaline surging through his veins. Sitting up abruptly, he closed his fist around the blade of the dagger, paying no heed to the pain that sliced through his palm. Before the figure had even an instant to back away, Anakin lashed out at their head and felt blood spurt onto his arm. The figure fell backward, and Anakin almost laughed out loud—let them try it again, let them see how helpless he was—he couldn't wait until morning, so he could see their shocked expressions, though they would certainly punish him for this—
Without warning, the air around him suddenly filled with light. To his shock, Anakin saw Ferus—Ferus, of all people—standing above him, his face contorted into a mask of horror. Then Anakin's eyes fell to the ground, to Ferus's feet, to see the reason.
There was blood splattered all across Obi-Wan's chest, its source a wide cut directly across his windpipe, deep and deadly. His eyes were unfocused and wide, as though Obi-Wan himself could not believe what had just happened. A still-wet tear glinted on his cheek as he stared up at the sky through the spreading branches of the tree.
Not a single thought passed through Anakin's mind. He stared, unmoving, at Obi-Wan's face, and so terrible was his expression that Ferus did not move either, afraid of what Anakin would do. It was a mixture of shock and fearful pain, and of despair so deep that, had a sound come from Anakin's mouth, it would have been one long, unending scream.
Blood dripped slowly from Anakin's palm, staining the dirt. Not a breath of wind stirred the air, not a single muscle twitched—even the stars above, normally so indifferent to pitiful sentient affairs, seemed to have halted in their celestial paths, stunned beyond belief at the earthly betrayal below them. And the light from the glo-lamp shone relentlessly on, giving Anakin no choice but to look at his devastating mistake.
Anakin's world consisted entirely of Obi-Wan—the slavers did not exist at all, so it was no wonder that he did not hear their tell-tale grunts and murmurs from only ten yards away. But Ferus heard them, and he had no choice but to speak.
"They're waking up," he whispered tremulously. "They—they'll come."
Anakin blinked slowly, as though waking from a deathly sleep.
"We have to go," Ferus said quietly, his voice gaining in strength and urgency. "Now, Anakin."
A dim voice broke suddenly into Anakin's grief-stricken existence. "Wazzat?" cried a slaver fuzzily, newly awakened. "Wyza light on?"
"Anakin!" Ferus snapped, his voice a hiss.
There was no time to take the body, barely even time to say goodbye. Torn in indecision, his movements startlingly abrupt, Anakin glanced at the beds of the slavers—some of them were stirring—then back at his Master's prone form. His eyes dry, his hands still tied before him and stained with blood, Anakin bent his head and kissed Obi-Wan on the mouth. The volumes that he wanted to speak—pleas for forgiveness, final goodbyes—remained silent.