Disclaimer: I'm really getting sick of this...
Vitaria Niele leaned against the temple wall, feeling the damp cold of the stone seep through the relative warmth of her Jedi robes, although the frigid wind that whipped about her and resided within the stone wall was nothing compared to the coldness of her heart. She stared up at the night sky, and to the "Love Star," as it had been named millennia ago, before technology had graced the galaxy and brought understanding of the cosmos. The Love star's legend was repeated at many a hearth throughout the galaxy, filling many a young breast with desire and longing for a perfect love, and it was told most often on this night. It was Lover's Eve on most planets, a night where romance was celebrated above all else, and legends of star-crossed lovers were told in countless languages and in countless ways. Vitaria herself hadn't been subject to this holiday growing up; she was a Jedi, after all, and such attachments were shunned. But through her journeys aboard the Ebon Hawk, she had learned many things, and she too had heard the legend behind the Love Star.
But no matter how many times she had heard it, or by how many different people had spoken it, the telling had never been as grand as when a certain young man had sat her down on Lover's Eve and explained it to her better than anyone else ever could. Since then, she had memorized the words that he had spoken; burned the look on his face as he repeated it to her into her mind. As she stared at the velvety sky, she felt herself drawn back to that night; a night beyond compare.
Suddenly, the world around her fell away, and she was once again seated in the Ebon Hawk's cockpit, being bested at Pazaak by the devilish pilot who had stolen her heart. She found herself a child again, delighted by the minor things in life that no longer held any appeal to her now - the grown, hardened woman that she had become.
(Three Years Before)
"Atton!" Vitaria exclaimed as she threw down her cards. "You're cheating!" she accused him, although with a smile. He had won the past few hands easily, ever since she told him that she wanted him to stop letting her win. He had apparently taken that to mean 'Don't let me win, and use every trick up your sleeve to keep me from winning.'
The scoundrel seated across from her just grinned and shuffled his well loved Pazaak deck. "Sorry, babe, but you've got to learn how to play the game. The word Pazaak is synonymous with cheating, you know," he informed her, continuing to shuffle his deck. "Since I'm doing so good at this, do you feel like giving me a great Lover's Eve present, and play by Nar Shaddaa rules?" he asked with a lopsided smile.
Vitaria groaned. "No!" she exclaimed, self consciously pulling her Jedi robes around her so tightly that the fabric rested just below her chin. She frowned suddenly, and turned to look at him. "What exactly is Lover's Eve, anyway?" she asked, genuinely confused. She had gathered bits and pieces of everything, of course, and knew that the night generally involved a lot of presents, proposals, and a general swarming of men into joy-girl's rooms. Other than that, however, she hadn't picked up much more on the subject.
Atton burst out laughing, thinking that she had made a joke, before realizing that she wasn't laughing with him. He sobered suddenly, and his eyebrows shot up. "You're serious, aren't you?" he asked, incredulous. At her nod, he was even more stupefied. "How can anyone not know what Lover's Eve is?"
Vitaria shrugged. "I was a Jedi, remember? They don't exactly encourage us to develop relationships," she reminded him, with more than just a little sarcasm in her voice. "So, is there some sort of tradition that happens that I should know?"
Atton's mouth curved into a sensuous smile. "Well, actually there is one thing that is pretty common…" he said as he reached over to grab her. Vitaria quickly side stepped him, and cast him a furious glance.
"Not that kind of tradition!" she exclaimed, and could feel the heat rising to her face. She took a deep breath, and counted to ten. Does he ever think about anything else? she wondered. She let out the breath that she'd been holding, hoping that her exasperation went out with the bad air. "I meant a different tradition. You know, that parents do with their children and such?"
Atton shook his head with a rueful smile, quickly banishing all thoughts of his childhood from his mind, deciding to go along a safer route than to mention something that he and his family used to do. The woman was too blasted curious, and if she pried too much, they'd end up screaming at each other, and then they wouldn't talk for days. They were stubborn that way. "Well, sometimes people tell each other stories about where Lover's Eve was thought to originate from," he said with a nonchalant shrug as he sank back into the pilot's chair, absently playing with his cards.
Vitaria sat quietly for a few moments, her brow furrowed in thought. "You mean like legends?" she asked at last.
Atton shrugged, and began to shuffle his Pazaak deck again. "I guess you could say that," he said, his eyes never leaving his cards. Although he knew they were just legends, his parents had insisted that some of them were true. Sure, Pop. Love is written in the stars, and we don't have any say in the matter. Sounds like something that came out of a kid's book to me.
"Do you know any?" She asked. Atton chuckled, and nodded. Vitaria bit her lip. "I know I might be a bit too old to want to hear stories, but…will you tell me one?" she asked, her strange golden-brown eyes alive with curiosity.
Atton merely grinned. "You got it babe," he said, and swung her into his arms and onto his lap before she could protest. When she opened her mouth to say something that Atton was sure would be scalding, he silenced her with his own voice. "Hey, you want to experience the tradition, so I'm helping you. A lover only tells his beloved a legend if she's in his arms," he informed her with a smirk.
Vitaria choked. "We aren't lovers, Atton, so I don't think that rule applies to us," she muttered as she tried to free herself from his grasp. He held her fast, and she was angry to find that he was stronger than she was. She glared at him, but stopped fighting to free herself.
"Not yet at least," he told her with a self assured smile once she'd somewhat relaxed.
Vitaria rolled her eyes. "Don't flatter yourself. You're not all that appealing," she muttered under her breath, moving into a more comfortable position against him. "Now, will you just tell me the story already? I'm beginning to wish that I'd never asked."
Atton laughed. "Am I that despicable?" Vitaria opened her mouth to say something, but he quickly cut her off. Judging from the look in her eyes, her response wasn't exactly what he wanted to hear. "Never mind, don't answer that. So, you're really more interested in a story than you are in me?"
Vitaria gave him a smug smile. "Definitely."
Atton shook his head. "One day you'll be singing a different tune, sweetheart," he told her. Little did he know how right he'd been. But of course, he couldn't see into his future, all he could see then was the sweet little bundle of a bristling ex-Jedi who was rejecting all of his advances.
"Just get on with the story already," she told him, and placed her elbow in his gut.
Atton winced, and pushed her arm away. "Alright, alright," he laughed, and then looked out the cockpit window, at all the stars that were shining brightly. Out of the trillions in view, however, one caught his attention. "You see that star?" he asked, pointing to it. Vitaria followed the direction of his finger with her gaze, and nodded when she caught sight of it. "It's called the Love Star, and it was created very long ago. But it isn't the creation of this star that's so important, but how it was created." He spared a glance down at Vitaria, and smothered a smile when he realized that he had her full attention. Heck, if I'd have known that love stories are what got a woman's attention, I would have started telling them long ago, he thought, grateful that she was too absorbed in the tale that he had begun to spin to read his mind.
"You see, in a time many generations ago, even before the formation of the Jedi order, the Republic, and all the wars that the two groups are associated with, the gods were unchallenged, and ruled the galaxy with a heavy hand. They mercilessly wrote out the mortal's destinies in the stars, the intricate patterns of the night sky the weave of the tapestry of humanity. In this time, the wars that raged were caused by the gods, but the suffering that was left in their wake was only increased by humanity. Love was useless in this time, for what did harsh gods have a need for such a spineless emotion? Or at least, they thought it was a spineless emotion until a fated couple, Lunai and Sarven, were born under the new moon, signifying that they were to do great things."
Vitaria unconsciously snuggled closer to Atton, so enthralled was she in the tale, and Atton's breath caught in his throat. He could feel the generous curves that he had managed to see once while on Nar Shaddaa when she danced for Vogga the Hutt, pressing against him, and his mouth went dry. She suddenly realized the silence, and she frowned slightly, staring up at him. "Did you forget the rest?" she asked after a moment, disappointment clouding her voice.
She's such an innocent, he thought, although not with frustration this time. Right now, he felt very relieved that she didn't know much when it came to the world of men. It spared him a very embarrassing moment, a moment that Mira would have easily caused had he done the same thing to the redhead. He cleared his throat. "Yeah, sorry. It's been a while since I've told this story. I just had to think for a minute, I remember now," he said covering his thoughts easily, and tried to ignore her when she relaxed against him again. He was beginning to think that making her sit in his lap to hear the story was a very bad idea on his part. He cleared his throat, and continued where he'd left off. "Against the will of the gods, these two found each other, and in each other's arms, they discovered a force more powerful than the gods could ever possess. For the gods are not like us, and are unable to experience the emotions that we take for granted. Seeing the power that the two had when they were united as one, the gods became uneasy, and decided to separate the couple lest their authority be challenged. The King above all gods sent one of the undead - one of the immortals cast out from eternal paradise for the sins that he committed against the greatest of the immortal beings - down to the mortal realm to swallow our heroine, Lunai whole, and leave Sarven to wander the galaxy in pain for the rest of his days.
"But the creature rebelled against the gods' command, drawing the couple into a trap instead of just Lunai alone. He separated them, and conjured up an image of a beaten and broken woman lying in a pool of her own blood. When Sarven stumbled upon the vision, he believed that his love was truly dead, and attacked the creature in rage for the death of the woman that he loved. He failed, and his body was as broken as the image that had lain on the floor. When Lunai finally entered the room, she did not see Sarven, for the creature did not give her time to see. She defeated the gods' monster not with anger, but with kindness. It wasn't until after the undead's corrupted soul had left his body did she see her loved one, dying upon the floor. She rushed to him, and held him in her arms as he breathed his last, and as he passed into the next world, her soul left her body and joined him in death.
"The mother of all Gods watched the scene in anguish, and felt pity stir in her breast. In honor of the dead lovers, she created a star to shine brightly in the night sky, to proclaim the undying love that our heroes had for one another. It became known as the Love Star, and shown with all the intensity of the passion that had burned so brightly in the couple's hearts."
Vitaria sighed softly as the story ended. "You know, for a guy who seems so insensitive, you really told that with feeling," she teased him with a little grin, and she pushed himself off of his lap.
"Should I take that as an insult or a compliment?" he teased, and to his surprise, she bent down so that she was eye level with him.
"I'd definitely take it as a compliment. It means that there's more to you than you let anyone see," she told him softly, and placed a gentle kiss on his lips before walking out the door. Atton just stared after her, bewildered. I definitely should have started telling girls love stories earlier. It gets a pretty good response.
Vitaria blinked away a tear as she looked up at the love star. "Who knew that our story would be so similar to Lunai and Sarven's?" she asked with a tight laugh. "The gods were right. So strong a feeling should never be experienced. All that it leaves us with is pain," she finished in a voice no louder than a whisper.
A hand on her arm jerked her to the present. "Are you alright Vi?" Mical asked, and Vitaria turned her head away to hide the tell tale moisture on her cheeks. She shrugged, and Mical sighed wearily. "You miss him, don't you?" he asked after a few moments of silence.
Vitaria took in a shuddering breath, and nodded, her gaze still fixed on the sky, remembering his last words to her, from a time that had seemed like eons ago.
I love you…I'm just sorry that it took so long for me to realize that. I never was too bright, was I?" a coughing spasm left him weak and trembling in Vitaria's arms, and he closed his eyes, trying to regain his strength.
Vitaria felt the tears pour down from her eyes, and they cascaded down onto his ruined face, causing him to open his swollen eyes, and stare at her in wonder. He couldn't help but ask himself if she loved him too. "Don't leave me," she whispered, as she bent down and buried her face in the nape of his neck, "I need you; I love you," she murmured against his bloody skin, wishing that her tears could cleanse all of his hurts.
Atton let out a deep sigh of contentment and smiled up at her, despite his pain. "I'll never leave you," he managed through a dry, cracked throat. "Just look to the star, and I'll be there…" he whispered, and felt his strength begin to fail him.
Vitaria wiped her face with the back of her hand, and leaned down, kissing him gently, tasting the salty blood from his mouth as Malachor crumbled around her. She sniffled, and pulled away from him, cradling his head in her lap as the life left him. She knew then, how Lunai of the legend felt… and she longed for her soul to travel with his to be one with the force. But it could never happen. She had a greater destiny than to defy the gods.
She looked to Mical with a watery smile. "I miss him, yes. But he's always here with me," she said softly, looking back up to the star. And she could have sworn she heard a familiar voice floating on the wind that said, And I will never leave you…
Please review, pretty pretty please with a great big cherry on top!