TITLE: “The Handmaidens’ Own Little Kallaia: Ryoo Naberrie” PAIRING: Ryoo is approximately not quite six through about nine and a fourth years of age during the Clone Wars era, folks (she wa...
01.) Hero: Obi-Wan Kenobi has been her hero her entire life, and it never ceases to thrill and amaze her, to realize that he is, by right of honor, essentially a part of their extended family.
02.) Grave: Naboo erected a monument to the heroes of the invasion that includes Qui-Gon Jinn, and (for Obi-Wan’s sake) she visits it as often as she can, bringing flowers to leave, incense to burn, and handmade prayer flags and wheels, as one might do to beautify a beloved’s grave.
03.) Repent: It is her opinion that not all the genuine repentance in the world can make up for some crimes (even if the one doing the repenting makes offerings of proper reparation), but then, she’s been told often enough that she’s too fierce to’ve ever made a good Jedi, so perhaps she shouldn’t be surprised that Mamaithryn (who is almost Jedi-like, in her ability to love and to forgive) thinks her a little bit bloodthirsty, when it comes to the kind of punishment she’d like to see meted out to proven traitors and deliberately evil beings.
04.) Change: Da’mâth Jobal says that losing her first two children changed Sola and that Ryoo and Pooja need to be aware of this and make allowances for her, but Ryoo’s old enough to have clearer memories of Mother, and the truth is that she started changing noticeably in the year leading up to the war.
05.) Power: If Ryoo had the kind of power that the Team commands, between them, she’d tell the Jedi High Council to blow it out their collective ear and go hunt down that second Sith Lord, whether Palpatine or Yoda or anyone else wants them to or not!
06.) Glory: It isn’t that she’s foolish enough to believe that battles or fighting is glorious – she’s seen enough of the aftermath of battle to know there’s a lot more needless suffering and dying than any kind of glory involved – but she is realistic enough to know that some folks are just downright cruel and others are thoughtless enough that they’ll hurt others and not care about it and not stop, either, unless someone else makes them, and she’d prefer to be one of those people who stops the bad ones and keeps them from doing more evil.
07.) Bitter: Her mother is unsurprisingly bitter about the Trade Federation’s invasion and (not brief enough) occupation of Naboo and the fact that those most responsible received little more than slaps on the wrists, but her adulation of Palpatine is a lot less understandable, to Ryoo, considering he didn’t actually do anything until it was already all over.
08.) Smiles: Mamaithryn has the most beautiful smile, and she never smiles so widely or so happily as when she’s speaking of Obi-Wan Kenobi and the news is not dire, and it’s that which tips Ryoo off to the fact that her aunt loves the Bendu Master, long before Da’mâth Jobal thinks to try to explain it to her.
09.) Her: Her fondest dream is to be trained up as a Jedi by some renegade Master (like Djinn Altis) and to do something so marvelous that the Jedi Order has to accept her, as an actual real Knight, but she’ll settle for just keeping her little sister alive and safe and happily working, and be content enough with her lot in life, if it comes down to that.
10.) Heart: Pooja is her responsibility and she takes her duty as her little sister’s protector very seriously, so much so that /Mamaithryn/’s handmaidens refer to her as a handmaiden-in-training, and, even though she smiles to hear the nickname, privately, she brands that title and all of the work and responsibilities and privileges that go along to it deep into her heart.
11.) Escape: There are some days when she daydreams about escape, for she’d like to gather up her family (including Aeshtaúr Bail and Bendu Master Kenobi and even his troubling Padawan) and flee until they find a place that the war has not touched, but she knows Mamaithryn and Pooja would never be happy and how she could ever get Athro Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker to agree to go is entirely beyond her, and so she usually doesn’t dwell on such useless fancies for very long.
12.) Rose: Mamaithryn Dormé says she’s a Naberrie rose – beautiful to look upon and sweet to the senses, but possessing razored thorns to strike down the unwary – and Ryoo can never quite decide if this is a compliment or not.
13.) Heart: Her heart belongs to her family and her duty, and she at once has no more room for any other individual and room enough to enfold the whole of the galaxy there, a fact that used to puzzle her immensely until Mamaithryn Padmé explained the Jedi notion of infinite compassion to her while relating it to their rules forbidding personal attachments.
14.) Bleed: When Pooja’s little friend is slain in some senseless terrorist attack on Theed on the second-year anniversary of the Battle of Geonosis, her heart bleeds for her sister, though she cannot help but think that it might be for the best (and certainly kinder) that the relationship will have no chance to go any further than it has, considering how much Daddy still loves and pines for Mamaithryn Padmé.
15.) Crimson: She finds it ironic that the color crimson is considered the color of courage by Nabooians, considering how very like to the color of newly spilled blood it is, and wonders if there are other similarly curiously fitting explanations for the meanings of certain colors in traditional garb, just waiting for anyone who’s willing to put a little thought into it to discover.
16.) Pain: She’s not afraid of pain so much as she’s afraid of failing to protect her sister, and so she trains and trains and trains until the handmaidens for the newly elected Queen only half laughingly begin to refer to her as their own little Kallaia (Kallaia being both famous and infamous for her bloody war of attrition against the smugglers and pirates who thought to take Naboo over as their own private little heavenly stronghold, back in the aftermath of the Jedi Civil War and the Second Sith Civil War, before Naboo was officially made a part of the Galactic Republic).
17.) Relax: She used to relax, when the handmaidens were with them, but after Khandra and Bóanca were killed defending them and then Shmé took a blaster bolt and a knock to the head meant for Pooja, she stopped feeling completely safe anywhere that’s out in the open and away from the Naberrie home (the one place no one has ever tried to attack, perhaps knowing how fiercely and constantly it is guarded).
18.) Lover: When she first finds out that Mamaithryn has taken a lover, her first instinct is to rejoice that the distance between Padmé and Mamaithryn Sabé has been bridged, but then she discovers that Padmé has instead secretly handfasted Anakin Skywalker (of all people!), and her joy all turns swiftly to a horror of dread and disappointment.
19.) Without: It’s hard to put any kind of spin on Padmé’s actions (regarding Anakin Skywalker, who for pity’s sake was still only a Padawan at their handfasting) that will make them seem more acceptable without completely ignoring the reality of the inevitable awful consequences Mamaithryn has called down on herself, but for Pooja’s sake (as well as her own, for she still adores/ Mamaithryn/, even if she fears that Padmé has taken all leave of her senses), she tries.
20.) Imagine: She tries to imagine what the world, the galaxy, will be like, when the war is finally over, but all she can see when she closes her eyes is a veil of gathering darkness, like the kind that gathers in the sky before a violent storm, and she fears what might be coming, now, is going to be even worse than the war, though what could be worse she has a hard time imagining.
21.) Child: When feeling particularly macabre, she wonders if it hurt her mother more to lose the first baby or the second one, but her morbidity doesn’t quite extend far enough to actually ask, though she desperately wishes she had the courage enough to demand to know what it was that could have hurt Sola so much, before the Clone Wars, to make her change so much again.
22.) Banned: They banned her from the training salles for two weeks, when she broke three bones in the left arm and leg of a sloppy trainer, but Lyxé took her aside and promised to start teaching her the far more dangerous and demanding art of blade dancing, if she promised not to tell her father or mother about it (since apparently Da’mâth Jobal and Mamaithryn Padmé and her other honorary aunts all thought she was ready for the training, but feared to upset her parents with the idea), and so she never even got a chance to finish her first protest before she became entirely too busy to spare the thought or energy for a good complaint.
23.) Grin: She got an honest-to-Goddess, ear-to-ear genuine grin out of Athro Kenobi, once, when she answered a comm call for Mamaithryn and got to talk to him for almost ten minutes before Mamaithryn could get out of another call for him, and she still has to blink, to drive away the lingering after-effect of light-dazzle, from the remembered smile.
24.) Pattern: There are patterns to things – defense, offense, tactics – that are a joy to her and her analytical mind, no matter what their seeming complexity, and Lyxé begins to speak, only half jokingly, of making her the supreme commander of their armed guard, but she has a hard time believing other people can’t see and understand the same patterns of vulnerability and strength – at light right up until the time she beats Lyxé in their first dejarik match.
25.) Imprint: The kind of imprint left behind by the solid blow of a square hit by a training blade is a lot more difficult to camouflage than the various little generally far more spread out bumps and bruises and occasional abrasions caused by hand-to-hand defensive combat; thankfully, though, her mother and father both are so often gone (Sola doing whatever it is that she does, when she goes on her retreats, and Daddy off at the Dala City site, working) that they spend the majority of their time with either Da’mâth Jobal or Dama’mâthair’cairdha Thule, and so no one notices, whenever she happens to get one, who’ll make a true fuss about it.
26.) Cost: Pooja is good at wrestling with more abstract concepts, like the moral and ethical cost of war and the danger of making peace or of winning at any cost, and that’s why she knows that her little sister will make a far better Queen or Senator than she ever could, even if she’s equally sure that she’d be at least as good as (if not better than) most other currently possible choices for the offices who aren’t already in service to the current Queen or Senator.
27.) Calculate: She tried to calculate the true cost of the war, once, by estimating the total number of lives that have been lost (based on how many Naboo has lost with each attack and estimating, given certain similarities of attacks and population densities in areas of battle and reported lists of casualties from other engagements, the numbers of lives lost by other worlds touched by the war), but gave up after she passed the billion mark with only a fourth of the known battlefields accounted for in her equations, too horrified by the numbers she was arriving at to continue with her calculations.
28.) Gasp: Once, when she was very, very small, she discovered quite unexpectedly that her father was in love with her Mamaithryn by virtually walking in on him when he was in bed and, well . . . doing that thing that adults do, when alone and fantasizing about the ones they love (and making enough noise at it to cover the soft sound of her gasp of shock and the noise her bare feet made on the floor, as she fled back to her bedroom, completely forgetting the glass of water she’d wanted help getting), and the feeling of breathtakingly sudden enlightenment, when she realizes that Aeshtaúr Bail is as in love with Athro Kenobi as Mamaithryn or Mamaithryn Sabé is,is both as unexpected and as absolutely irrefutable.
29.) Benevolence: She’s not surprised so many people love Bendu Master Kenobi – he is, after all, grace and benevolence and serenity and beauty and light made flesh, in a way that dazzles her constantly with the reflection of love and power radiating from the Great Lady onto him and so refracting out to others – but it amazes her how blind the man seems to be to his own sense of appeal, and wonders if that’s maybe a Jedi Master thing or just part of what makes Obi-Wan Obi-Wan (and rather suspects it is the latter).
30.) Nightmare: Ever since she first found out about the secret handfasting between him and Mamaithryn/, she’s had dozens of nightmares about /Aeshtaúr Skywalker being engulfed and eaten alive by some monstrous black /thing /that then goes about riding his body and doing hideous things, and only the absolute certainty that Obi-Wan would find a way to free him from such a state, no matter what it might take, is enough to keep her from sobbing in fear every single time the night terror returns.
31.) Angel: When Daddy calls her his fierce little angel or Mamaithryn declares Pooja her angel or compassion or she hears about how newly Knighted Aeshtaúr Skywalker calls Padmé his angel of deliverance, her first response isn’t pride in herself or pleasure for another but rather to wonder, wistfully, if there’s a rule that bans angels from having any angels of their own, and if it’s just a general rule of thumb that might be avoided, if one is very careful, or if it’s an actual sacrifice required of the angelic position.
32.) Teddy: She stopped sleeping with a cuddly toy the year Pooja was born, because she wanted to be considered grown up enough to take care of her baby sister and, why she missed her stuffed animals, she also soon came to believe that being the one whose bed would get regularly snuck into for comfort and protection against night terrors and other worries more than made up for the loss of any inanimate plush toy.
33.) Failure: The thought of failure frightens her a lot more than the threat of pain, some days, and only Pooja is able to get her out of the training rooms where she practices her katas, just as some days she’s the only one capable of getting Pooja to come away from her books and political treatises to make sure she remembers to eat and sleep.
34.) Sigh: Knight Skywalker told her once (with that crooked little half smirk of his that isn’t quite an honest grin) that his former Master considers there to be an almost meditatively cleansing aspect to a good long heartfelt sigh, but that he rather preferred the kind of release that came of a good full-throated scream, instead, and, much as she hates to admit it, she rather thinks she prefers Anakin’s method of seeking calm than Obi-Wan’s.
35.) Overdose: A trainee in the Queen’s handmaiden program being threatened with harm to her family if she didn’t turn traitor took a technically honorable (if cowardly and criminally uninformative) way out of the situation by deliberately taking an overdose of sleeping pills: she and Shmé were the ones to find her, but Shmé swore not to reveal that Ryoo had been there to anyone but the Queen, and Ryoo’s never told anyone – either about what she saw, or the seductively peaceful look of relieved joy on the dead girl’s face.
36.) Saviour: She thinks it’s ridiculous (and unrealistic and unhealthy), the way the Jedi High Council carries on as though Anakin Skywalker is some kind of savior, given his (presumed) status as the Chosen One, while utterly failing to acknowledge the fact that he’d likely be unable to save anyone at all (least of all himself) if he didn’t have Obi-Wan’s strength and compassion and loving support to draw on, and she can tell that Pooja thinks pretty much the same thing, but she doesn’t want to hurt the young Knight’s feelings any more than Pooja apparently does, and so they both keep their silence on the subject.
37.) Epitome: She finds it depressingly ironic (if fitting) that she’s so much more like Anakin than Obi-Wan, for if Obi-Wan is the epitome of the perfect Jedi Bendu, Anakin just as perfectly embodies just about everything that the Jedi are not and that they eschew because of their Code.
38.) Syringe: The sight of that syringe plunging towards her little sister is enough to have her a heartbeat away from drawing her throwing knives and taking the bastard bounty hunter wielding it out/, signal from Lyxé to wait or no, and it’s a damned good thing that Shmé shoots when she does, because otherwise she would’ve had no choice but to defy a clear order from the /aónes dævítru eisharti to wait.
39.) Mask: She doesn’t necessarily approve of the idea of a ruler’s mask, but she has to admit that she never could have given such a calm and literally empty accounting of the attack to their father as Pooja manages, so she supposes that perhaps those masks are good for something after all, since they get spared another parental melt-down and series of unrealistic lectures.
40.) Light: When she was very young, her mother’s form used to shine in her mind as though limed with light, and it bothers her, in an increasingly difficult to dismiss manner, that this sense of light has not only been eclipsed in recent years but has, more and more, been replaced with an increasingly dark and insidious pall of all but palpable darkness.
41.) Angst: It isn’t any sense of childish pouting or adolescent angst that drives her sometimes to retreat to her room and look the doors, but rather an intensely urgent need for just a little bit of space where she can stop worrying (about her family, about her friends, about her planet, about the galaxy) and just simply take a little while to merely /be/.
42.) Loss: In her darker moments, she’s fairly certain that the loss of her first two children destroyed everything in her mother that truly made her Sola Naberrie and that the rest of her body just hasn’t caught on enough to the fact to have had the decency to lay down and die, but she tries to avoid thinking such dire thoughts, for they make her feel such a strange mix of sorrow and impotent rage and guilt that it drives her to distraction.
43.) Wrapper: She snatches the wrapper up on the fly, throwing it on over her bedclothes and running for Pooja’s room, determinedly ordering her, “Stay in there!” before shoving her back inside, slamming the door shut behind her and bolting the lock, before dashing for the stairs, blaster in one hand and blade in the other, determined to be ready for whatever it might be that’s brought someone to the Naberrie door, pounding like a mad thing to be let in.
44.) Christmas: The rest of the galaxy is celebrating like Winter Fete has come early this year, certain that the defeat of the Separatists at Coruscant means that the war is nearly over, but the whole of Naboo is essentially in mourning, waiting for word on whether or not their beloved Senator and former Queen has survived the battle or not.
45.) Flicker: The thought flickers across her mind that she should have expected this, should have seen it coming, but somehow she never thought that their Mamaithryn would become a casualty of war, not with so many good people guarding her and all of the narrow escapes she’d managed to pull off, over the years.
46.) Glimmer: There’s a glimmer in Pooja’s eyes that she recognizes, and knows she’s had the same semi-traitorous thought – that perhaps /Mamaithryn/’s death is for the best, all things considered – and so she reaches out and enfolds her in a tight hug, hoping to reassure her (as she cannot quite manage to reassure herself) that everything will turn out alright in the end and that thinking such things doesn’t make her a bad person, only a realistic one.
47.) Bells: She’s been working on an intricately beaded prayer wheel for Mamaithryn/, carefully stringing crystals and tiny silver and gold and copper bells onto its slender silk ribbons, and so it’s a little disconcerting, at first, to discover that Padmé’s spirit is a lot more alive than her body, though Force alone that knows she’s unspeakably glad for the chance to see her again and speak to her one last time and have a chance to be able to tell her again how much she loves her, even if /Mamaithryn is only going to be able to stay for a little while.
48.) Voice: For as long as she lives, Ryoo doesn’t ever think she’s going to be in any danger of forgetting how peculiarly strange and yet somehow oddly right it seemed, to hear /Mamaithryn/’s loving words in a voice so like that of Ryoo’s mother and her coolly distant and traitorous sister.
49.) Listen: She thinks herself a romantic little twit, for having such a thought in the midst of so much upheaval and upset, but she really could happily sit and just listen to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s gentle cultured voice for hours and hours and hours on end and be nothing but perfectly content, perfectly enthralled, perfectly satisfied merely to bask in the wash of warmth and light that the Bendu Master so effortlessly, constantly gives off.
50.) See: If she closes her eyes and just lets herself drift a little (not towards sleep, but towards that state of calm acceptance of being that her athron of blades describes as true meditative serenity), she can almost see the shape of the future that is coming – Obi-Wan and Anakin forming a blazing bulwark of Light against the darkly looming threat of coming storms; Mamaithryn Sabé taking up the mantle of Queen while Mamaithryn Dormé takes over as Senator and Apailana and her handmaidens learn the ways of the Jedi Bendu in Dala City; Pooja growing to be Princess of Theed and then Senator for the current Princess (who will be Queen, after Mamaithryn Sabé) while she and Daddy adjust to life as Jedi Bendu themselves; the infinitely precious twins, growing to be a rallying symbol of hope and freedom and everything that’s good and right and just and true in the galaxy, as storm winds begin to blow and threaten disaster – and she finds herself looking forward eagerly, straining after that future, certain that she’s ready to play her part in the shape of things to come, no matter what that part might be.