Disclaimer: I don't own "Stargate: Atlantis" and I don't claim to. (If I did, Teyla and Ronon would be happily married with half-a-dozen kids by now.) I am making no monetary gain from this, it is meant for entertainment purposes only.

Summary: He's honored this day with obsessive perfection for a decade now. He's clinging to the past. But how can he let go? RononMelena, RononTeyla implied

Rating: T

Warnings: Memory of minor character death

Pairing: Ronon/Melena, implied Ronon/Teyla (future)

Title: Traditions

Author: fyd818

Part 1/1

Dedication: To Dia.Dahling – geez! – who's managed to do it to me again. Thanks, sis, for encouraging me to write this out.

Author's note: Even though I am forever a Ronon/Teyla fan (they are sooo my OTP forever!), I did think Ronon had a beautiful relationship with Melena. So this is kind of my tip-of-the-hat to their relationship. I hope you enjoy – thanks for reading!

"Traditions"

fyd818

He's honored this day with obsessive perfection for a decade now. He's clinging to the past. But how can he let go?

Some deep, denial-ridden part of him knows Melena would have wanted him to let go a long time ago. She'd be horrified if she knew he was still clinging to her memory like a stubborn child. He was a broken warrior, lost in a past that was as much his present as the room housing him.

Even during those seven years as a Runner, he'd honored this tradition. He'd taken time out of the running – from his enemy and, in a way, his past – to remember. His lack of concentration had almost gotten him killed twice, but it didn't matter. He'd vowed never to forget.

Ronon knelt before the hastily-assembled shrine of memory in the corner of his room. As soon as the tradition was complete, he'd tear it apart and hide it again, until next year. It was shameful, but he didn't want his teammates to know the depth of his infatuation with his Satedan life. He didn't want to give it up, to let go of the memories. He'd seen the ruins of his world, faced the demons of his past, but he still couldn't let go. They were a part of him, and that would never change.

The light from the candles before him flickered against the backdrop of black, leering shadows. He closed his eyes against them and concentrated on his ever-fading memory of Melena. Ten years was a long time, and no matter how often he thought of her, he knew his mental picture of her was beginning to fade. It made him afraid – a bone-deep, screaming, all-consuming fear – that one day, he wouldn't be able to remember her at all.

Yet another reason he clung to this (what may seem to some) meaningless ritual.

A shudder built deep in his chest, but he forced it back. The motion did not come without a price – it felt like he was going to shake apart from the inside. He'd only cried once since that day on Sateda. He wasn't going to change that now.

Tears pressed against the backs of his eyes, daring him to break his record – yet another part of the ritual: his ever-silent grief. The shaking he could handle, the tears he could not.

He could almost hear all his fellow soldiers on Sateda – they would surely have shunned him for this. For his weakness. For his clinging to ghosts in fear of the future.

Another shudder. He let this one come, but slammed the lid on the whimper that tried to come with it. Ancestors. . .

Why was this year so much worse?

"Melena." His hands – when had he clenched them into fists? – raised and pressed against his forehead. He drew in deep breaths, so deep they hurt his lungs, trying to regain even some thin measure of control. Her smile, her eyes, her hair, everything about her haunted him.

He couldn't do this.

He wasn't even entirely sure what "this" was. Remembering? Mourning? Living?

The door chime sounded obscenely loud in the stillness. It seemed to echo in his head – but then he realized that wasn't the chime, that was a sob from his own throat.

Ancestors! He was losing control, and it was beyond the point where he could stop it. Why, why, why was this year so much worse?

Another ring of the chime rivaled another whimper ripped from him as if by force. No, no! Go away! He couldn't face anyone now. Maybe never again.

He doubled over, fists pressed against his forehead so hard it hurt, gasping as he tried futilely to regain his long-lost control. Perhaps it had just been a façade, his warrior's mask – it certainly wasn't strong now.

"Ronon, Ronon." Two soft, feminine hands descended to rest on his shoulders. The voice, gentle and sweet, just assisted with his mind's launch backwards in history.

Melena? Ancestors be thanked he couldn't get enough air in to say it, for his mind knew it was not she.

Teyla didn't say more . She wrapped one arm around his shoulders – firm, the grip of a warrior instead of a healer's, as Melena's had been – and extended one hand toward the shrine, palm up.

Ronon opened his eyes, not caring that it lifted the dam that had been holding his tears at bay. They poured down his face as he looked at the face of the warrior that had been like him more than he'd thought – she looked as grief-stricken, as lost, as he knew he did.

She began to whisper, in words he didn't know she knew. "Today we honor Melena Dex, Ronon's heart, lost too soon. May Sateda rise from crumpled ruin and remember her on this woeful day." Her arm lowered, fully enclosing him in her grasp. She didn't say more, in the Ancestral tongue or any other. She didn't need to.

Ronon turned his face into her shoulder. He was beyond shame now, beyond caring what she thought of him. Perhaps she would never trust him – this weak, battered soldier – in battle ever again. Did it matter? Perhaps she would hate him for his weakness – that didn't matter, either.

Teyla's head bowed against his, and he was surprised to feel her tears drip into his hair. "Remember her, Ronon. Remember the past, so you can embrace the future."

"I don't know how."

"You are a warrior. You have taken a vow – unspoken or spoken, it does not matter – never to forget. You will not. Her love made you strong – even in death, your love for her makes you strong. Never forget your past. Learn to live with it, while moving on into the future." There was no selfishness in her tone, nor was there condemnation. They were spoken truly from the heart, from one scarred warrior to another. One lost person to another.

Ronon still couldn't look up, but he was able to wrap his arms around her. "I miss her." It felt wrong, somehow, to admit that to Teyla. But still. . . Saying it out loud, to someone who could truly understand, made him feel infinitesimally better.

"Remember her. Love her, for one day, then let her go."

Ronon closed his eyes and once more brought his mental picture of Melena to the forefront of his mind. He held it there for a long moment, treasuring the memory of her touch, her smile, her laugh.

Then, very carefully, he folded her memory to the back of his mind, into the little mental shrine he'd built to honor Sateda. But he kept the love connected to her memory in the forefront of his mind, to help him embrace the future.

Teyla began to sing. Her voice was untrained, but pure and sweet.

Ronon sat and listened quietly. He wasn't sure he'd ever have the words to thank her, for this day.

It had been ten years since Melena's death. It had taken him ten years to reach this point, and he would not completely heal in one day. Perhaps it would take him another decade to be able to ease his pain enough to accept this day.

But. . .

Somehow, he knew he was going to be able to heal.

His eyes caught and held on the face of Teyla's watch. There was one minute left in this day.

Melena. He drew out the name in his mind, one last time. Clung to it, relished the sweetness of his memories of her.

Teyla's watched beeped, a sign of a new day.

Ronon let go of Melena's memory then, for a little while. Until next year, on a day that would undoubtedly be less painful than today.

Melena – I forever love you.

. . .Goodbye.

-The End-