Star Wars does and always will belong to Mr. George Lucas. Aryn Leneer and Zeerid Korr are characters from the book Star Wars: The Old Republic: Deceived, by Paul S. Kemp. I am merely letting my imagination run wild.

Fool's Hope

"You are a fool Aryn Leneer."

He'd said it with such conviction, such kindness, and yes, with love as well.

Aryn Leneer was a Jedi Knight, a guardian of the Republic and the light, and love had always been something forbidden to her. Love interfered. It clouded your judgment; it distracted you from your duty. And for so many, it was the first step to the dark side.

She knew it to be the truth. All she had to do was look at the still unconscious form of Eleena to see the wisdom behind the Jedi ban on attachment. Eleena was a good person; Aryn had no doubt about that. Looking into the woman's eyes, listening to her soft, honest voice and feeling her pain, had revealed that truth to Aryn. Eleena was a good person, but love for a man steeped in the dark side had, in turn, made her an agent of the darkness as well. She killed innocent people, helped Darth Malgus perform his vile tasks. She had been part of the attack on the Jedi Temple, where Aryn's former Master, Ven Zallow, had suffered such a cruel death. Out of love, Eleena had helped to bring down the Republic. If that was not the dark side, she didn't know what was.

But who was she to judge. She had fallen into the same trap as the Twi'lek. She loved Master Zallow; there was no way around it. He had been like a father to her for most of her life, and even when she had attained the rank of Jedi Knight, their bond remained. It was why she had felt his death, why her stomach still ached and burned with the memory of a phantom lightsaber stab. And it was why she had left Alderaan and come to Coruscant. Her heart had been broken and she'd needed to know who was responsible, so that she could break him in turn. All in the name of love.

Love, however, could also lead you back to the light. She had been too angry, too hurt to see it before. The pain of Master Zallow's death had been too great and she had not seen how close she had come to crossing that perilous line between light and dark. She had been willing to kill a defenseless woman for the sake of her revenge. The darkness had loomed ahead of her so invitingly, but the same love that had driven her to the brink, had also brought her back. She had loved and still loved Master Zallow. And because of this love, she could not kill Eleena. It would be a betrayal of everything Master Zallow had taught her, of everything he had held dear. Her actions would disappoint him and she could not add that agony to the memory of his tortured expression as, already dying, he had seen Coruscant fall and had witnessed his own and the Order's failure. She loved him too much to do that.

And it was love, of course, that made her surrender to Zeerid's kiss, to even kiss him back. They'd already formed a strong bond during her time with Havoc Squad, but her status as a Jedi Knight and his being married had kept that bond firmly in the realm of friendship and camaraderie. She had been glad to feel that bond still present when they had met again on Vulta. And of course, she had felt it deepening into something more during their brief time together. Then, she had been too occupied with her grief and anger to fully appreciate Zeerid's concern for her and how that concern was only a starting point for his love.

But standing together in that hangar, watching him struggle with his desire to remain with her and to return to his daughter, the last of her blindness had been lifted. And in the resulting clarity, she had found the passion to return his kiss and the strength to send him away. He belonged with Arra, who deserved to have her father's guiding presence during the coming years. Just like she had had Master Zallow.

Aryn watched Zeerid walk away from her, his back and shoulders stiff with the effort to keep from turning around and looking back at her. She could still feel his lips on hers. Love could be the path to the dark side, yes. It could cause you to make selfish decisions, or to turn a blind eye to the faults of the one you loved. But love could also lead you to acts of selflessness. Eleena had been willing to sacrifice everything for Darth Malgus: her freedom, her peace of mind, her life. And Aryn was willing to watch the man she loved walk away from her, towards what would hopefully be a brighter future filled with his daughter's love and the peace of a Dantooine farm. She was a Jedi, acts of selflessness were part of her being, of her understanding of self, and so she did not cry as Zeerid disappeared into the Dragonfly drop ship.

He had called her a fool and she told him that maybe she was. But what was so bad about being a fool? Didn't fools sometimes harbor the sweetest of hopes? She turned towards the hangar doors, sensing the quickly approaching maelstrom that was Darth Malgus. She could die here. Probably she would. But she could carry the memory of Zeerid's kiss and her love for him with her into the battle.

Aryn Leneer was no longer a Jedi Knight. She had left the Order in the wake of her grief to confront the man who had taken away her beloved Master. She knew that, even if she lived through this fight, she would not return to the Order. She had changed too much, had come to acknowledge that forbidden emotion – love – too much to turn back to the doctrine of non-attachment. Aryn held on to the memory of those she loved and let that certainty guide her through the eddies of the Force. Maybe, just maybe, she could join Zeerid and Arra on their farm on Dantooine, perhaps become a farmer herself. It sounded like a good life.

Peace and calm settled over her and as Aryn found her focus, she prepared herself to face Darth Malgus once more. Not in anger or hate this time, but with love in her heart, and a fool's hope in her mind.

Author's note: I really liked the book Deceived and couldn't help myself writing this little OneShot about Aryn after being kissed by Zeerid. Those two are a wonderful couple. I know the OneShot doesn't really belong in this category, but I couldn't find a better place for it. If someone has a suggestion where it might make better sense to have this posted, please feel free to PM me. I am always open to suggestions and requests.