A/N - This episode takes place shortly after Chapter 34 and before Chapters 35 and 36. Most of Haruu's sequel will take place on Dantooine. There will be a slight reworking of these end chapters for the sequel. Riven's story later (it is no longer attached to Haruu, but was included for several days for those who read it). These stories are chock full of OCs though cannon characters will continue to appear.
Jaac frowned and quickly turned down the suncatchers. The fire in the metal pit was merely a soft orange glow. It was late and soon Kierzon and the other children would be asleep in their bundles. The days were busy with learning and they fell asleep quickly now, with neither thirst nor hunger clawing into their dreams.
Bird had apparently gone from baby silence to absolute comprehension of language in a matter of days and was full of questions. Jaac knew it was because she finally felt safe. They all did. Nub had fallen in love with the bantha and, without asking Jaac or Tyrlanya, had apprenticed himself to the herdmaster, Lukai. It had been Lukai who'd come to the tent laughingly calling for his apprentice who had told them. As adults, they discussed Nub's possibilities and, in the end, Nub was apprenticed to Lukai for a one-year trial to extend in exchange of a year out of one of Tyrlanya's apprenticeships. Jaac had stayed out of that discussion; it involved three other clans, four families and consulting with Adwr. Apparently an apprenticeship was not a simple one-for-one trade.
Nac simply ran and laughed. He followed Jaac as Jaac learned about living on Dantooine from Col and Dub. He followed Tyrlanya to the thread houses and ran errands for the women. He followed Kierzon as he studied, Nub as he learned about bantha and he played with Bird. Nac became a carefree child and reveled in it almost as much as Jaac reveled in his son's playfulness.
One day Nac had run into the tent hollering for containers – water was falling from the sky. Rain had fallen from the sky and Jaac's little family were the only ones outside in the cold water.
"At least close your mouths when you look up," laughed Tyrlanya gently from the tent's mouth, hugged in her warm vest. "So you don't drown." But she had sat at the doorway of the tent, smiling, watching them rejoice in water that fell from the sky. Later, Jaac had told her of the desert planets he'd been on – Geonosis, Tatooine and Thvenya. She promised to take them to the river in the spring and teach them all to swim. Nac, Nub and Bird had no comprehension of the word. He didn't tell her that the largest river in Thvenya was narrower than he was tall.
Kierzon had taken a battery of tests. He had failed many of them, but he understood that his weaknesses were scholastic rather than intellectual; of being a stranger rather than lacking intelligence. He knew what to study and often read aloud to them in the early evenings. Sometimes he would go to the thread houses and read to the women. They were a hard audience; asking questions or definitions, making him repeat important concepts, asking for proof, his thoughts. After the first time he read to the women only when he thought he knew the subject.
Tyrlanya offered Kierzon three hangings with which to carve out his privacy of the tent, a room for himself. He asked if he could be near the entrance and Tyrlanya nodded. "There are extra duties associated with being there, but you are well capable." He found out it gave him extra status among the other younglings. It was a place of importance and trust; the first to hear messages and greet visitors, the freedom to leave each morning, the responsibility for the morning fire and, in earlier times, the major defender of the tent. He invited her to call him 'Kier' and promised himself he'd be worthy of trust.
Before the first snows arrived, the nerf were culled; the meat was put in a special tent for smoking and drying; the hides defleshed. Adwr told Jaac that early winter was the busiest time of the year because so much of their survival depended on it, yet the days were shorter. The tents were moved up the hill next to the thread house, the only solid building, and much closer together, in an oval around an open-ended corral for the tame bantha to gather. A tent for the unmarried women was attached to the thread houses. There was no tent put up for the few unmarried men who were mostly Col's brothers. Col's brothers usually spent the night with family, several times in Tyrlanya's tent with them; talking and training. Jaac noted that Tyrlanya didn't seem to favor any of his brothers over him when they moved belongings and the fire pit to spar. He nodded to himself; his gift of children had been sufficient for her heart. For her sake, he wished he wasn't scarred.
Tyrlanya smiled often even though it was the darkness of winter. She had brought out a small loom and was teaching Bird to weave on it while she was spinning fine thread. Kier was reading for them all; magical stories instead of one of his regular texts. Nub was worrying about his bantha, running fingers through his fire-red hair, and Nac was going through one of the packs of clothing sorting it at Tyrlanya's direction.
"Another baby thing," said Nac as he held up a tiny tunic sack for Tyrlanya to judge. She was giving so many of the baby things to Ehveen, expecting another children at high winter. Not the best time to birth a child, but her sister had never had any problems before – even with her first, Colehn. It was embroidered with green and blue, colors of grass and sky. Lucky colors. Tyrlanya's eyes grew wet as she realized it was the first one she had made, almost twenty years past when she'd been just coming into womanhood and had been so hopeful of the future. When she didn't immediately respond to Nac he looked at her.
"The stack for Ehveen?" His voice was tentative. Tyrlanya gave a nod, she didn't dare to speak or all the emotion would swallow her. Jaac looked up from the large pot of soup he was making at Nac's tentative tone and saw the tears in Tyrlanya's eyes, her hands shaking as she stopped the whorl and set the thread aside.
"That is quite a pile of baby things, Nac," he interrupted. "Why don't you and Nub take them to Ehveen. You can stop by Lukai's and talk bantha on your way back. Be back before moonrise."
"What if they invite us to dinner?" Nub wasn't quite keen on Jaac's cooking now that they had regular good meals. Jaac hadn't yet mastered the skill and his meals were not always as palatable as Tyrlanya's, although his stews were usually decent.
Kier snickered and Jaac ruefully shook his head. "Then you can stay. The stew might need a day to season into palatability."
The two boys quickly pulled on winter coats, fur-in and hooded, and were out the tent each carrying a stack of baby clothes. Kierzon slowly put aside the stories. "I should go also. Colehn wanted me to help braid leather rope."
Jaac gave a nod and his grimace which substituted for a smile. "No more eager for dinner than your brothers," he quipped though he knew Kier was given him and Tyrlanya privacy.
"No. Come on Bird," Kier helped her on with a brightly embroidered warm vest and pulled on a warm, fur-inside coat. Bird was very well-dressed; Tyrlanya had shown early enthusiasm for threadwork. It was more evidence of her desire and love for children.
"Are you ok, Tyrlanya?" Jaac asked softly as his last two children left the tent.
She rubbed her face with her hand. "I am not ill. I simply remember so long ago."
"When your hopes were new and shiny? When anything might come true?" He asked gently, standing and moving next to her.
She nodded then put her hands to her face to hide the sudden flow of tears. He sat beside her, to offer support if she wanted, if she forgot his scars. At his touch on her hand, to let her know he was there, she threw herself against him, hugging him hard around the waist, her face buried in his chest. He put his arms around her, his face into her neck and held her, gently rubbing her back.
"Tyrlanya, what can I do?"
She shook her head. "I am maudlin," she mumbled into his chest. "Being in the tent with my family is joyful, but seeing the baby clothes was…" Her lips quivered again.
"I'm sorry. I know you want children of your own body."
Again she shook her head. "No. That isn't… yes." She frowned and shook her head more firmly. "It's not that."
His lips twisted in what she recognized as a grin as she looked up and blinked her tears away. The burn scars on his face sometimes made it hard to decipher his expression but she was getting good at it. He often ducked his head to hide his scars, though less and less, especially in the tent; their tent, their home. "Very decisive, aren't you?"
"I don't need children of my own body. Bird and Nac and Nub; even Kierzon, they are sufficient. They have rapidly become the children of my heart."
"Then I don't understand." Jaac found she was warm and comfortable against him. He didn't need to move; he'd let her move away from him first.
Tyrlanya was quiet for a moment, simply listening to her breath and the beating of Jaac's heart. He was kind and strong and, most of all, gentle. "My wishes and dreams," she began slowly, "have always included having their father; having a husband." She moved slightly so she could look into his eyes. "You haven't come to my bed." She stated it as simple fact.
He grimaced, a true grimace of pain and regret. "You can't want to bed these scars. I knew you wanted children and I knew you would take care of them like they'd been born from your body. I am simply what you had to take to have Bird and the boys."
"Oh, Jaac," She reached her fingers to his face but he pulled back from her hand. She shifted, facing him as she knelt before him. She grabbed his hands in hers and brought them to her lips. "I wouldn't be bedding scars. I would be loving my husband; a man with strong hands and broad shoulders, a quiet man who observes and notices and does what is necessary. A man who has raised fine children by himself in a situation…" She reached her hand to the side of his face. This time he didn't stop her. Her fingers brushed the rough skin. "If I cannot give you happiness, let me know. There is no censure for dissolving a year marriage and if you cannot have happiness with me then you can search for it among my people."
"I have happiness," Jaac stated, surprised. Did she think she hadn't given him enough? "There is food and water for our bodies, learning for our minds and companionship for our souls. What I have now is beyond what I had ever known to even wish for." He took her hands in his and held them to his lips, merely breathing warmth onto her strong fingers. "For you to offer more is beyond my comprehension. It is something I am not prepared for."
She leaned forward and up, brushing his fire-scarred lips with her own. "I am afraid, not of your scars." Her voice was a fearful whisper. "I love you."
Jaac shook his head in disbelief. "Tyrlanya, you asked me to marry you. You took me by the hand and never once did you say I was ugly." He bowed his face over her hands. "You gave us a home, you love my children. I am afraid that if I ask anything more, I will realize this is only a dream."
There was no answer except to once again reach up to his lips with her own.
I've never done this before." It was hardly more than a whisper. Then he gave a small smile. "Four children and I'm still a virgin."
Her palm cupped his face, the rough scars tickling her skin. She could weep that he'd been scarred; that his beauty had been stolen by war, that his courage had been so ravaged by defeat. She leaned against him. Slowly his arms came around her, trusting she wouldn't pull away from him, holding her.
"I think a lot of it will become self-evident as we continue."
"Oh, I know Tyr. Most nights I dream of pleasuring you, of being in your arms, of what I would do..." He ducked his head embarrassed. "In the dark. I couldn't bear for you to see my face while we're making love." He was self-conscious about his scars; about how he looked and how his skin felt to her fingers. "I'm... I'm sorry."
Tyrlanya nodded. "I understand. But as time passes, I will want to see you." Her hands slid from his shoulders to his chest, unfastening the laces of his tunic. "I will want to make love in the daylight. I will want to lie down with you in the soft grass beside the river after a good swim and laugh together as we touch each other." She smiled. "I will want to make love in the river." Her fingers reached down and touched him where no woman had ever touched him before.