SUMMARY: This is fifty random (but essentially chronological, if with some overlap) moments from the life of Darred Janren, whose life is forever altered when a family by the name of Naberrie happe...
02.) Burn: He yearns for the touch of soft hands and the press of loving lips, and he burns even more, with shame, for the fact that the one he longs for is not the one who is his wife.
03.) Silence: The silence between him and Sola has deepened steadily, inevitably, since her miscarriages, and there are days when he wonders who this stranger is, who sleeps so rarely on the wide bed beside him.
04.) Secrets: There are so many secrets in their marriage already that he finally decides he cannot, in good conscience, begrudge Sola whatever it is that has so recently eaten up so much of her time and energy and taken her so often out of Theed altogether, especially not since she seems so much more like her old self again, when she does return home, and could so easily simply be visiting the Naberrie Lake House Retreat on Varykino or the old Thule manor house up in Gallo Mountains, as she generally vaguely claims.
05.) Blankets: The blankets on their bed have steadily grown heavier and greater in number, as the years have passed, for they so rarely manage to sleep at the same time and in the same house that they are so close to being virtual strangers that they generally silently hug the opposite sides of the bed, whenever they do end up having to share it.
06.) Linger: His eyes linger helplessly on the smiling face of his true beloved, as she laughs and showers his two girls with the kind of easy, open affection that makes her seem so much more like a real mother to them than their own distant and often frighteningly fierce mother ever does.
07.) Clouds: The day that he learns, from a strangely exultant Sola, that her sister has finally secretly taken a lover is the day that clouds roll permanently in to blanket his heart and soul.
08.) Liar: He wants desperately to call her a liar, for the Padmé he knows would never do something so selfish or irresponsible – especially not with the boy that Sola speaks of with such an odd mixture of intense satisfaction and almost condescending off-handedness – but she’s entirely too pleased with the news for him to muster any real sense of conviction on the matter, and so all he can do is smile, hollowly, and wonder when and why the world began to go mad and how it is that he never noticed it before now.
09.) Remember: He finds himself remembering, more and more, those first innocent years of association with the Naberries, back when he was just a friend of Sola’s from school and his painful crush on her little sister was a secret he cherished close to his heart, in the hopes of one day being mature enough to share that love (and his life) with the young lady in question.
10.) Marriage: He loves most of his clannachd – his two girls and his family by marriage – far too much to ever subject them to the indignity and pain of a severance of the contract binding him to Sola, but he wonders, sometimes, how they can fail to realize (and even if they truly don’t know) that he and Sola are joined now (as they have been, since perhaps four months prior to the birth of their youngest) only in name and by nothing else.
11.) Hand: He forces himself to take his sister-in-law’s hand and pull her to him for an all to brief, entirely chaste embrace, averting his eyes so he will not be forced to look on her face and see that she is happy with another (however illicit the relationship might be) and she will not be able to see the hurt and disapproval lurking in the back of his eyes.
12.) Distance: The distance between him and his wife is so great that he is actually surprised to arrive home from yet another extended visit to the Dala City site for work and find her there, curled sleeping like the dead in the center of their oversized bed.
13.) February: This is traditionally the month of lovers, the time when most young ones coming of age will take their first lovers as a part of the traditional rituals surrounding both the coming of summer and the dawning of adulthood, and he throws himself into his work on the Dala City project feverishly, trying to banish the memories of desperately wanting to wait for one Naberrie to be old enough to ask and instead being tricked (half drunk as he’d been) into accompanying another to the festival bonfires.
14.) Fill: His girls and his work fill a surprising amount of the hole that’s eaten away his heart and begun to swallow his soul as well, but he fears, sometimes, that he will never know true rest or completion.
15.) Hold: He is surprised beyond words to return home one afternoon to find Padmé weeping in their garden, and holds her tight, determinedly not speaking, as she chokes out the story of Obi-Wan’s disappearance on Jabiim and the High Council’s decision to declare him not only MIA but presumed KIA and so not even bother to try to find him, despite Anakin’s firm conviction that his former Master is still alive and is being held somewhere against his will.
16.) Fire: Jealousy is not just a poison but a fire in his veins, smouldering evilly in his gullet, and he is ashamed beyond words to find himself hoping that Kenobi is truly dead, so envious is he of Padmé’s unfailing love and devotion to the Jedi Master who’s just too damned foolish to love her in return as she deserves.
17.) Tomorrow: He tells himself, again and again, that tomorrow he will make himself quit this foolish insistence on dwelling on the past and what could have been, that he’ll break the habit of near-obsessive love for a woman he cannot and will never have, but somehow, despite the very best of intentions, that morrow never seems to dawn.
18.) Closer: He can feel himself drawing closer and closer to a decision that he fears will destroy his world, and so he clings ever harder to his work and to his girls, hoping to use them as shields and barriers against any rash action.
19.) Heed: He wishes he could heed the advice Sola gave him, so many years ago, back when they still cared for each other and showed it, and just forget Padmé and get over the fact that the path of her life and of his diverge in such a manner as to preclude the notion of ever meeting in the manner he might wish them to, but he’s beginning to fear that he’ll literally have to gouge her out of his brain and his heart, to ever be able to accomplish such an act of forgetting.
20.) Jealousy: The day Anakin returns with Obi-Wan from Rilfor, Padmé comms the Naberrie home when he just happens to be there, sharing a quiet evening meal with his children and their grandparents, and the look of such uncomplicated happiness and relief on her face (her lovely dark eyes shining with tear of love and relieved joy) makes her so exquisitely beautiful – and reminds him so painfully of the fact that she is not and never can be or will be his – that his throat swells shut with an ugly mix of grief and jealousy and envy and rage, and he has to excuse himself swiftly from the table, before he can do or say anything unforgivable.
21.) Underneath: He is increasingly certain that he is becoming more and more wholly hollow, underneath the unassumingly amenable, often serene or else quietly jovial mask of the devoted family man and thoroughly in love with his job borderline workaholic, which he presents to the world constantly that so no one can ever see the true him, and he wonders, a bit distantly, if the day will come when his physical form will actually cave in on itself, collapsing like a house made out of cards.
22.) Hide: He’s so used to hiding his pain, his longings, his true love, and so many of the other things that make up the core of who and what he truly is that it never fails to amaze and unnerve him, when one of his girls effortlessly sees through a part of his facade, just by looking at him.
23.) Flash: The day that Pooja told him that it was alright if he loved mamaithryn Padmé, since she and Ryoo loved her, too, he felt a flash of such unreasoning fear and anger that he found himself wanting to strike one of his children for the first time ever in his life, and it horrified him so completely that he got up and fled the room without a word, leaving his youngest with her too sharp and entirely too hopeful eyes behind as if all of the proverbial hounds of hell were right on his heels, too terrified to even try to make up an excuse as he fled to Dala City and his work.
24.) Anger: He’s usually slow to anger and quick to forgive, so this rage frightens him as few things could, to the point where he can tell, with a sick sort of certainty, that he’s drawing entirely too near to a dangerous breaking point.
25.) Shame: He’s so used to feeling shame that it’s almost surprising to find that he’s capable of feeling even more than the thought of his utterly inappropriate feelings for Padmé generally elicits, and he finds himself avoiding his girls, such is his confusion and dread over his reaction.
26.) Adoration: The adoration he feels for Padmé has never once wavered since the day he first set eyes on the precocious and almost eerily lovely young girl, as a child, but it comes close to wavering, when he observes the slight thickening of her ankles and wrists that he remembers so well from his wife’s own pregnancies, and knows she’s been foolish enough to allow herself to quicken with the issue of a Jedi she does not truly love, not like the look of absolute worshipful devotion and love her eyes ever betray that she still feels for that damned Kenobi every time she speaks of him or catches a glimpse of him or overhears him name come up in conversation.
27.) Waves: He forces himself to smile as he waves yet another temporary goodbye to his girls, preparatory to fleeing once again to Dala City, though he is increasingly sure that both girls know why he keeps leaving and desperately wish he would stop trying to run from the truth.
28.) Apologise: He brings the girls back so many books and toys and beautiful dresses that his coworkers tease him mercilessly about how he’s spoiling his children rotten, but he has so much to make up for and cannot bring himself to try to apologize verbally, and so the gifts are the only thing he has to try to soothe his conscience with, which in turn means that he cannot keep himself from getting them more and more things, each time he flees from Theed to Dala City.
29.) Waiting: More and more, he feels as if he’s just marking time, waiting for a coming disaster to finally hit, and it bothers him, distantly, that he isn’t trying harder to do something about it, to keep the disaster (whatever it might be) from happening, but he can’t ever quite manage to summon up enough concern or willpower to move past a vague sense of disquiet about it.
30.) Mirror: Sometimes he feels as if the tumult in the larger galaxy mirrors his own inner struggles so closely that he wonders, in a rather macabre turn of thoughts, if his battle will end when the war does and as it surely must, with a kind of death.
31.) Watch: He has no right to speak to Padmé, not when he wants her for himself, and so all he can do is stand by helplessly and watch, as she willfully destroys herself and her career (her life), in essence suiciding by Jedi.
32.) Regret: There are so many regrets in his life that he wonders, sometimes, at its relative briefness, in terms and years, and the despair that hits him, when he contemplates what that portends for the remainder of his natural span of years, is so crushingly all-consuming that he cannot even bring himself to go to work that day.
33.) Plain: The truth is so plain to see that it amazes him how no one outside of the family (with the probable exception of Padmé’s handmaidens, who really don’t count, seeing as how they’re all essentially her adoptive sisters by merit because of what they are) has yet kenned to the fact that they are essentially all examples of pure paragons of absolute dysfunction, all loving people they should not and bound to people who will inevitably eventually destroy them, in the end.
34.) Shy: Sabé (who so far as he is aware has never truly been shy a day in her life) approaches him once, eyes downcast as if out of timidity or uncertainty of her reception, but he cannot bear to hear either her gentle expressions of concern for him or any of the halting attempts at apology she might make, for failing to save Padmé from herself, and so he uses work as an excuse to flee from her as quickly as he can.
35.) Moonlight: There used to be an old superstition that linked moonlight to madness, and, when he finds himself unable to sleep (for fear of what he might dream) and fixedly staring at one or another of those luminous orbs, he finds himself idly wondering if there might not be more to the idea than most beings believe, for there are times when he can almost feel the tides of lunacy rising in his body, thrumming in rhythm motion to the swelling of the moons.
36.) Melt: The only thing consistently capable of melting the ice around his heart is the look of uncomplicated love and joy on the faces of his girls whenever he returns home, and the cracking of that ever-deepening barrier is so painful that he finds himself going away and staying away for longer and longer periods of time, the more the war drags on, unable to make himself return and face the torment of being made to feel again.
37.) Half: He’s not only half a heart, torn jaggedly open and hollowed out, made incomplete by the lack of love in his life: there’s so little of him left intact that it continually amazes him (in a distant sort of fashion) that no one catches on to the fact that he’s little more than a mortally wounded body that’s not yet had the decency to just lie down and finish dying already.
38.) Leave: Either he leaves or Sola leaves or they both leave, and the girls practically live with their grandparents, so much so that they consider the Naberrie home more their own home than the smaller cottage house that he made for Sola, after they agreed to handfast, and he can hardly blame them for it, though he was once incredibly proud of that home, which he designed and built as an act of . . . well, if not true love, then at least liking and respect and profound thanks, to Sola, for being willing to love him even though they both knew he loved someone else far more than he had ever quite managed to grow to care for her.
39.) Neutral: He always adopts an aura of indifferent neutrality, when the subject of the famous Team happens to come up at work, but thankfully no one has gathered that this apparent lack of interest is caused less by a desire to protect the privacy of such close friends of his family by marriage than by an attempt to betray his increasing apathy and antipathy for both Jedi.
40.) Family: He wonders sometimes, a little idly, if the Naberries truly realize how desperately he still loves their youngest daughter, and inevitably always finds that he has to laugh bitterly at himself, for being so foolish as to presume that they could ever possibly not know and still be who they are, Jobal and Ruwee having both tried to gently warn him, back when he was still a boy, that Padmé’s need to help others and her interest in politics was not likely to ever allow for much of a family of her own – something which was assuredly not the case with Sola, who even as a girl desired a family for herself above almost all other things in life.
41.) Winter: Winter has been ensconced in his soul for so long that he wonders, sometimes, why the hoarfrost in his heart doesn’t spread through his blood and freeze his body from the inside out, until even his skin has frozen over and cracked open, blue-white with cold and hard and unfeeling as stone.
42.) Flowers: He cannot abide the water lilies for which Padmé is named, and it would be all too painfully obvious if he were to avoid only them, so he pretends an allergy to flowers in general, to avoid either causing himself more pain or giving himself away to others.
43.) Gentle: Padmé is a gentle and giving and caring and loyal soul: he’s quite certain that the wrong is Obi-Wan’s and Anakin’s, not hers, and, even though he rationally knows that she had to be the one to agree to and even to arrange the secret handfasting, he very irrationally persists in blaming the two Jedi for her current precarious position and increasingly dangerously obvious (and wholly inexplicable, unless she’s willing to give up the secret of her handfasting) condition.
44.) Speak: He would rather die than ever speak to Padmé of her folly, but Great Goddess, what he wouldn’t give, some days, to have things out with those two gorram Jedi!
45.) Last: The absolute last thing he wants is to cause his family pain or to allow his shameful preoccupation with Padmé to drive him to do something foolish enough to make him as much a traitor in deed as he knows he already is in spirit, but he can no more keep from envying and hating and wanting to be both of those damned Jedi than he can teach himself to stop loving and desiring Padmé altogether.
46.) Dew: The dew on this lily has not faded: if anything, Padmé is even more radiantly lovely, at twenty-seven, than she was as the newly elected Queen of Naboo, and there is something both utterly fit and wholly unfair about the fact that her beauty is blossoming even as her body is ripening with illicit issue.
47.) Night: Endless night is but a breath away from falling over his soul and he knows it, yet still he cannot quite rouse himself enough to make the effort necessary to stave off its coming, and he wonders if perhaps there might be something wrong with him even worse than this malaise of the soul, that he could be so heedless of the danger his apathy risks bringing down on his family.
48.) Footsteps: His world ends with the sound of running footsteps, moments before a tearful and desperate looking intern breaks into his office to cry out, “Darred, your wife is on the comm, claiming that word for Coruscant is the planet’s under attack by the Separatists and demanding that you come home /now/!”
49.) End: In the end, he isn’t surprised to learn that Sola was a traitor and a Sith-in-training, for she was, after all, his wife, and they always were well-matched, as a couple, even if in ways that neither one of them ever truly most desired.
50.) Forget: Padmé tells him to forget her, forget about what they’ve done, so that he will not and cannot be hurt by her any longer, and the command is from her as well as being strong in Force-compulsion, and so he obeys . . . to a point, anyway, cherishing a blurry memory of her extraordinary beauty and gentleness close in his heart but waking to find his life is a new spring of possibilities and endless potential for growth instead of a winter of mourning and despair, his blood warmed by the unconsciously lingering heat of her loving kisses.