Title: Awaiting the Light of Dawn
Author: Aelan Greenleaf
A/N: After a long absence, I have returned, if only for a little while. This is set post-RotS, well into Obi-Wan's exile on Tatooine.
She was always strangely cold during the day, even under the harsh rays of the twin suns above her. Owen told her that it was her imagination; that the cold was just a trick of the mind. He often dismissed such notions, notions of unusual and strange things, practical man that he was. She couldn't blame him, she supposed.
And yet, she wanted to.
She wanted to blame him for the gruff mask he wore, for the curt dismissals he offered her, and for the cold shoulder he would present to her sometimes. Maybe that's where the cold came from, she thought, a virus that passed from him to her, spreading across her until it seeped beneath her skin and settled deep inside her bones. A permanent chill, eternal frost set upon her heart. Sometimes, in the darkest of nights, she would find herself feeling nothing for the man sleeping beside her, an empty space where love should be.
But even in the darkest of nights, there was hope: hope in the form of an eight year old boy, all smiles and laughter, pale hair gleaming in the sunlight. She loved feeling his tiny arms wrap around her, his warm cheek against her stomach, holding her close. Luke's bedtime goodbyes were the highlight of her day, the one tendril of love in her day. Even if the child was not related to her through any bloodline, he was still her son in her eyes and in her heart.
However, Luke was not here to give her his customary evening embrace. The house was empty; Owen and his nephew had traveled to Mos Espa for their bi-annual trip, collecting parts and machinery for the moisture farm. Luke loved traveling, anywhere and everywhere, as long as he was going somewhere new. His uncle grumbled about foolish dreams and impractical ideas, comparing it to the dead ambitions of his long-dead step-brother. Beru, however, was content to allow her nephew his hopes and dreams, knowing that on a planet like Tatooine such ambitions were most likely impossible. Did it really matter if she let him reach for the stars?
She trailed a hand through the pit of sand beside her, cleaned out of the processors daily by the droids. It really did get in everywhere: into the parts and the wires, into the food and into the water. Even into her heart, tainted and weak.
The twin suns plunged towards the horizon, and it was then that she saw them. Tusken Raiders. Though she could only see one for certain, she knew there would be more, crouching low in dunes between her and the figure waiting before her. Panic flooded her senses, and it seemed that an invisible force had grabbed at her lungs. She shouldn't have gone out this far, not so close to the sunsets and not without Owen around. She had no weapon with her, no way to fight off these nomadic scavengers
Beru Lars found herself afraid.
She turned away from the sunsets and the lone figure on the horizon, and started to walk back to her home, her steps much quicker than usual. She could feel the eyes watching her, tracking her movements, taking in every step. She shivered, and it was not from the cold inside of her.
And then it happened. A hand reached out and latched onto her arm, and she heard the howling of the warrior-nomad who had reached her. She screamed, trying to wrench her arm out of his grasp. Another approached from behind, grabbing her other elbow. The second raider lifted up his free hand, ready to strike the blow that would knock her unconscious before they took her and ransacked her home. In a futile act of defiance, she lifted her chin upwards, determined to not see her pride and dignity broken at the hands of a ruthless thief.
In that moment, however, she saw the face of her savior. Cerulean eyes met her dark ones while his hands moved as lightning, knocking the two Tuskens to the ground in a crumpled heap. The cloaked man checked their pulses, and then moved over to her, kneeling down to the meet her on the ground where she had fallen.
"Are you hurt?" he asked softly, and his civilized voice ruined the illusion of a half-crazed hermit wandering the wastelands.
She shook her head, but her wincing as she rose to her feet gave her away. Then, before she could even react, he had scooped her up into his arms, holding her tight to his chest as he began to walk, heading the faint lights in the distance that was her home.
The twin suns set behind them, the fading rays dancing upon his features, illuminating the scars that time had left upon his face. She raised a cautious hand, tracing lightly with her finger the outline of an old wound upon his jaw line, wondering what this man had been when the world had been young and the Republic a haven for the free. Who was this man, the Jedi Master who lived alone on a backwater planet, exiled from all he had ever fought for? Her eyes wandered his face, trying to the find the answer.
He smiled down her unexpectedly, and she found herself delighting in the attention, a kind expression from a person who was not eight years old and still just a boy. This was a man, a man from the stars, a protector of the Republic.
Without her even noticing, they had entered her home, her safe haven in the barren desert. He carried her to her room, laying her down gently. "Your ankle?" he said, just as soft as before. She nodded, and he reached down, laying his hands upon her injured foot. Warmth exploded beneath his touch and she gasped, amazed. His eyes were shut in concentration, and for several moments he stood still, using powers foreign to her to heal.
Electric eyes surfaced once more, and his gaze met hers. "It will be sore for a few days, but nothing more." He turned then, without another word, and headed for the doorway, leaving.
"Wait!" she called out, "please, wait!"
He stopped, but did not turn to face her. "Yes, Madame Lars?"
"I…" she began, unsure of how to begin, "I just wanted to thank you, to thank you for your help."
"It was nothing," he said, and moved closer to the doorway.
"Obi-Wan?" she whispered, uncertain of how he would react to his real name.
The Jedi stiffened, and said nothing, body tense at the reminder of the past.
She looked down at the bed before her, cold as always. "Though Owen will never appreciate it, I understand what you are doing for Luke," she said, shifting in her blankets, uncomfortable with speaking the truth. "Your sacrifice will not be forgotten."
A long silence passed between them, and she noted than the suns had set completely, as the night spread over the expanse of sand that was Tatooine. And when he spoke, it was with the tones of a defeated and lonely man, suffering through the dark night and awaiting the light of dawn. "Thank you, Beru," he murmured, and was gone.
In the wake of his departure, Beru Lars could feel the cold creep back into her bones, and she drifted off to sleep, still trying to remember his warmth.