I am taking an official hiatus from fanfiction, so this will be my last piece for a while. I wrote this to further develop my RP character, Jedi Master Ksandra Mallan. She is around 130 years old, and the ex-Padawan of Qui-Gon Jinn. The man called 'Ander' is a fellow character, and Ksandra's now-fiancé. This was written before she said 'yes' to his proposal.

Ksandra's been alive for over a hundred years. She's seen two governments rise and three governments fall—she's seen friends murdered, and she's killed for money.

As a Jedi, she is a success. A member of the Academy council, a wise, experienced Master (supposedly, anyway), a deadly lightsaber duellist, and a leader well-liked and well-respected. Her powers are growing stronger by the day, and there seems to be no limit to what she can do. The Dragons are growing and maturing, becoming a force to reckon with.

The Lioness—smuggler and bounty hunter—is still talked about. Cool, smart and lethal, she always gets the job done and never misses a target. She's almost—or as good as—Han Solo's equal. She can outfly nearly anything, and can shoot like nobody's business. Honorable, but cold.

As a woman-- just Ksandra-- she's doing well. She's finally found a place to settle down and call home, and she's found a place that not only accepts but welcomes her unorthodoxy. She's fulfilled her childhood dream of starting a starfighter squadron. But most importantly, she's found friends-- and love.

All things considered, Ksandra's doing very well right now. In the day, on the outside, she's all confidence and optimism, but at night, in the privacy of her mind... that's when the doubts, the haunting whispers, come out... and slip into her dreams.

Some nights, she dreams of her old Master, Qui-Gon Jinn. In her dreams, he is alive and well, and they spend hours walking and talking together as they used to do. While the dream lasts, she rejoices because her beloved teacher is still with her—but when the dream fades and she wakes... those are the dreams that leave her staring at the holo of her Master, silent tears stinging her eyes.

Some nights, she dreams of past battles, reliving the horrors, helplessly watching things go wrong, or—rarely—wondering as things miraculously go right. The memories have her tossing restlessly in her sleep to come awake with a gasp, while the nightmares make her sit bolt upright in bed, screaming and pouring sweat. Those rare dreams where what was disaster is now going smoothly are the other type of dreams that she desperately wishes were true-- but when she wakes, it is with a wry, bitter smile twisting her lips.

Sometimes, the shades of dead friends—or the accusing ghosts of those she killed—appear, whispering and answering the questions she cannot answer or has no satisfactory answer for. Why did you kill me? Why didn't you save me? How could you have failed me when I needed you the most? When the shades come, her cats are the only ones who have heard her sobs, seen her huddled and crying, chanting apologies to all the ghosts dogging her footsteps.

There are other dreams—her fears and regrets given life—and on those nights, she sleeps uneasily. She counts a dreamless night as a good night.

She's slept alone for over sixty years so no-one will hear her cries or watch as her mind turns against her. She loves Ander dearly—adores him—but she's afraid. She knows Ander loves her, she knows he would never do anything to hurt her... but the fear still haunts her.

She has worn internal armor and shields for so long that they've grown into her, and she doesn't know how to remove them any more. She fears being vulnerable, so she stays aloof and avoids attachment... but now things are different. Someone loves her and wants to be with her... but she's scared. She's been alone for so long that she doesn't know how to open up and let Ander see the real woman—the scared woman who's been running and hiding for far too long—beneath her tough exterior.

She wants love, she wants to let someone know who she really is and tell them about all the fears, doubts, and regrets she's carried for so long.

But she's too afraid to do it. And she curses her weakness, her cowardice... but she cannot bring her armor down, because she just doesn't know how.