Author's Notes: This tale is rather old and was meant to be what would later become Pilgramage. This is an AU and is unbetaed! so please be warned.
It was spring when Asajj Ventress left the dark side of the force. She could not recall the name of the world, but she never forgot the scent of the purple blossoms that had covered the landscape. Nor did she ever forget the strength of his hands holding her broken form, the lack of pity she saw in his blue eyes and the warm lilt of his voice assuring she would get help.
The invitation of peace had always radiated from Obi-Wan's force signature; in the past, she had always ignored it. On that fateful day, she finally accepted the offer.
The great warrior believed she died that day, from a certain point of view he was right. When she let go of the dark, the frightened child known as Ventress ceased to be and in the cold confines of space, the young woman that was Asajj was born.
It was only after the Republics fall, a sith lord's birth and the Jedi's end that Asajj finally found the strength to undertake the journey she called her Pilgrimage.
It was spring-the wet season-when her black boots sank into the pale sands of Tatooine. The heat of the desert made her think of Rattatak.
The warmth she saw in Obi-Wan's eyes and the surprised smile he wore told Asajj that she was home. Obi-Wan's hair once the colour of healer's stones-a rare mineral on her home world-was now as white as her flesh. He wore it well in spite of his young age; carrying himself with all the poise and grace of a nobleman. Asajj's body too betrayed her experiences; her pale flesh now covered in scars adorned tattoos, gifts from the leaders of Rattatak tribes.
Some things had not changed; his eyes though dimmed by the weight of the world were still as blue as the oceans of worlds she once dreamed of visiting. The invitation of peace was there too and it was a comfort to see them again.
She did not need to ask why his heart was heavy, Obi-Wan was not a man accustomed to passing blame, even if it pertained to things beyond his control. Anakin Skywalker now Darth Vader had become the jedi master's greatest sorrow, a burden that he carried alone. Asajj knew Obi-Wan needed peace as much as she once had. The time had now come for her to return the favour.
They stood side by side, not as enemies, or as a student with a master, but as friends, as equals. With calloused fingers carefully intertwined, they watched as the small orchard of Acacia rustled and swayed whispering their secrets to the wind as their tiny blossom petals drifted into the sand.
After years of searching Asajj had finally found her place in the universe, it had been here by his side all along.
The dry season suited Asajj far better than it did her companion. Rattatak was a planet of extremes, with its blustering winters and its dry desert like summers. It had prepared her for Tatooine long before she was even aware of it.
Though the heat of the suns baked his skin a dark tan and made his lips blister and throat raw Obi-Wan did not slow down. The dangers of their new home-the dangerous wastelands, the even more deadly cutthroat society and lack of water did little to distract him from his goals. The jedi knight was even more strong and resilient than Asajj had initially believed.
Yet even Obi-Wan had his limits and Asajj made it her self-appointed duty to be mindful of it. Concerned for the well being of others Obi-Wan often forgot to bother with his own physical health. His selflessness was an annoying, if not admirable trait. While Asajj respected Obi-Wan's decisions even she had her limits. Her words and warnings always fell on deaf ears. For a wise man, he could be such a fool.
In time she began to understand the reasons behind his actions and it was with some reluctance that she agreed to help him in his subtle if not noble cause.
It was almost a year since her arrival to Tatooine when the flash floods came. The skies had torn itself open before proceeding to tear the desert sands apart. It occurred every couple of decades, Obi-Wan once explained, before adding that it involved the magnetic poles of the planet and it placement with the two suns.
To no one's surprise, the orchard of Acacia was decimated. The damage done had been extensive. What the monsoon did not destroy, disease, poverty and lack of sanitation did. Technology was archaic at best on Tattooine. What little was there was made available only to those who had vast amounts of wealth, connections or both.
Ever noble and chivalrous the selfless the jedI master was quick to aid the survivors. Mindful to mask his sensitivity to the Force Obi-Wan found other ways to ease the Tatooine's suffering. Locals soon learned that there was more to the old hermit than met the eye. His knowledge of herbs and ointments saved many lives during the aftermath.
Asajj offered Obi-Wan what little knowledge she had on the primitive medicines she had learned from the healers of her world. She did not care what happened to these people, it was not her place to interfere with their lives. She helped the jedI master because he was the first to call her friend, because he had faith in her when no one else did and because of the promise she swore to herself a year before.
As strong as the great warrior was the long hours spent with the sick and the dying was taking its toll. In time even Obi-Wan could not deny that his health was not what it used to be. It did not stop him from fulfilling his duty or his self-appointed mission.
It was the end of the dry season when the Jedi knight succumbed to his exhaustion. Chapped, cracked lips reminded Asajj that he had not been drinking the water she had given him during his journeys. As always, Obi-Wan had found someone, or something that needed it more. If she were not so concerned by his waning health, she would have been livid.
The fever was quick to take hold. The chills that shortly followed were merciless and violent, a sharp contrast to the heat of the desert suns. It did not stop him from attempting to make his journey into town to help others heal from the floods of the passing dry season. He got no further than his bedside when he collapsed. It was then that the jedi master finally paid heed to the young woman's warnings. Asajj feared that his stubbornness and her blind trust in him would cost Obi-Wan his life. She kept her fears to herself.
His skin was flushed, while his beard was damp with sweat. While his body shivered violently beneath a mountain of blankets, adding to her concern and frustration. This is the price of kindness, of selfishness Asajj thought as steam rose from the cooling clothes used to break his fever. Even the cooling shade of their small home, could offer no reprise from the heat.
The herbal pastes, tea and powdered mixes she had feverishly prepared did little to ease Obi-Wan's suffering. Her skills in healing were limited at best and her fear-so familiar yet so undesired-only added to her inability to channel the Force as she had been trained to do since childhood.
The locals knew of the hermit's condition; his attempts to hide it had been fruitless in spite of what he believed. They did not know of his hideaway but they were familiar with the orchard that once bloomed in the wastelands. They left offerings of food, medicinal and precious water there in the hopes that his friend, the pale faced woman would find it. Asajj did, and she gave everything they offered to Obi-Wan hoping that in some small way it would help. His health continued to deteriorate.
Asajj struggled not to curse the Force, or turn her back on all she had learned from him. The weight of loss had always given her strength in the past and pain had been a comfort, it would have been so easy. Nonetheless she refrained, to succumb now would only add to the heavy burdens he already carried. She would not do that to him.
The hour was late when the great warrior opened his eyes-a first in days-and with shaking hands took her fingers into his own. Asajj did not know what brought him to consciousness and did not dare ask why. It was a struggle to fill his lungs with air but it did not distract him from holding her gaze. His smile was weak, yet sincere, and all the things he could not say with words, Asajj finally understood.
It was time for them to let go of their burdens, after a great struggle, she did just that.
The rattataki woman was not merciful on herself; she never had patience weakness. With Obi-Wan's life energy fading, her strength was needed more than ever before. It was the first time she truly let go of all the doubts, the fear and frustration that she had harboured. Giving herself fully to the light side Asajj found courage and strength she never imagined she was capable of experiencing.
The knight's healing was all consuming and miraculous. Absorbing the fever from Obi-Wan's body she proceeded to release it into the Force. It was a strange, if not beautiful sight to behold; it left Asajj both exhausted and in awe. Only after the fever had been completely removed from the jedi master did she allow herself to collapse in the chair across from his bed.
As his Force signature embraced her own Asajj finally found rest. Peacefully they slept with fingers intertwined.
There were no romantic words exchanged, no flowers, sweets or false pretences to mask blind lust. There was an unspoken understanding that accompanied stolen glances, subtle smiles, and the accidental-some times not so accidental-brush of fingers. The teasing banter exchanged over the years was the only thing that had not changed between them.
Slavery had long since broken all romantic notions of love or compassion for the rattataki woman. At a young age she learned that physical affection was a weapon to be wielded, a means of breaking one's prey or getting ahead.
Obi-Wan had long since taught her that not all legends were broken tales told to naïve younglings. That honour was real, and compassion was in reality a weapon of another sort. There had been so many lessons learned not from his tutelage, rather through his actions. Now she understood what it had all meant, and what he had meant to her all along.
It was the first time she had ever experienced the night skies of Tatooine. To witness a star filled and moons lit sky was not nearly as rare as the torrent rains experienced half a year ago, but it was far more beautiful.
"A complete Tatooine night comes only twice a year," the knight explained in gentle and peaceful tones, "so we will have to enjoy it while it lasts."
The silence that followed was peaceful, the unspoken emotions that hung between them was not. It filled Asajj with anticipation, hope and a little fear. She did not want anything to change between them and yet deep down she knew it already had.
It came as no surprise when the noble knight politely-with warming cheeks-asked permission to taste her lips. Anything less would have been considered improper and hardly gentlemanly conduct.
It was not the first time she had been kissed. The violent experiences of the past were now distant dark memories. Only the scars on her lips and chin now hidden behind tribal ink spoke the truth. It could not mask the weight in her eyes, or the nerves felt as she tried to hide her excitement and cautious joy from her soon-to-be lover.
Asajj had nothing to be ashamed of, her past was known to him. Even then she had spared him of the sordid details, leaving only hard facts in its place. Obi-Wan's guidance, compassion and lack of pity had ensured that the past would remain put where it belonged, in the past.
Such comforting thoughts were not enough to quell her nerves. One look at Obi-Wan's warm cheeks and the vibrant colours of his Force signature told Asajj that she was not the only one who wanted it to work. The discovery brought her much relief.
Their lips met and the galaxy was turned on its side. There were no platitudes or professions of love to follow. The silence spoke for itself-as it always did-Asajj would have it no other way. Gentle, calloused fingers intertwined with hardened, pale hands as the two wandered further into their little orchard.
With the stoic small trees and the star filled sky as their witnesses, the two lovers exchanged their unspoken vows. Through their kisses, they professed their love, while through passionate caresses they expressed their heart's desire.
All around them the Force shifted and turned as balance was found in one another's embrace. Here in each others arms their dreams of true peace had become reality.