There is a Jedi Order that remains as strict, with Council members as strong-headed.
Master Treville has hard edges and a barking voice to hide his soft forgiving heart. By forty, he’s picked up three strays.
Only one is technically his apprentice, because that is what the Council allows, but the other two tag along everywhere anyway.
“You’re sitting on my robe,” says Athos, monotone, giving the proffered garment a small tug. Porthos lifts his leg to examine the spot where his bum is affixed over cloth, and then puts it back down. He says,
“It’s your own fault for wearing robes all the time, anyway. What’s wrong with just your tunic?”
The firelight is warm and dancing where the group of them sit gathered, on a short mission to Utapau that is mundane enough that Treville is finally relaxed. His only stressors are Aramis’s campfire singing and the prospect of returning to Coruscant and dealing with Armand Richeliu’s ridiculous goatie. And, perhaps, the idea that the Council may give him trouble again, for so stubbornly ignoring their rules. He remembers Belgard, and his disgrace, and suppresses a shudder. But then, Treville has done nothing so damaging as to break the Code.
The little astromech droid that Porthos favors so much chirps suddenly in his ear, and he cracks cracks one eye half-open to glare at it.
“I’m supposed to be asleep, Dee-Dee,” he tells it, his whisper unheard by the three boys bickering on the other side of the fire. “Go back to the ship and do your damned duty.”
Sometimes, Treville thinks, it is easier to deal with politicians than with Jedi. At least the dramatics of Richelieu’s argumentation style are entertaining.
Terribly impractical, but entertaining.
“Athos thinks robes make him look more Jedi-ly,” Aramis is informing the group, blessedly pausing in his humming. Porthos laughs; Athos scowls.
“Nothing is wrong with tunics,” he says. “I’m just cold.”
There is the faint sound of shuffling amidst the boys’ laughter, as both Aramis and Porthos move to drape their cloaks over Athos. Pretending to be asleep, Treville smiles without moving his mouth; he tells the Council when they get back to Coruscant that the padawans learn better as a trio than on their own, and, blessedly, this is accepted.
There is a Farmboy from Tatooine whose parents are dead, but this one is not destined for tragedy.
“The Force,” Aramis has decided, “likes to damn Athos specifically.”
Athos thinks sometimes he must be a terrible Jedi for all that he does not believe in the more mystical side of the Force. For Aramis, it comes naturally. Porthos is unbothered by it either way, which Athos wishes he could emulate.
But anyway: the Farmboy. And Athos’s damnation.
Sometimes he thinks it’s because Master Treville never tells him anything. Usually, he blames Aramis and Porthos.
This time, the mop-haired gangly youth who’s made it to the Jedi Temple all the way from Tatooine and is determinedly trying to kill him cannot be blamed on any of the above categories.
He’s still not sure where the blame goes a whole two days later, after the mess with Chancellor Richelieu’s corrupt guards and Athos nearly being kicked out of the Order, standing in front of Master Treville with his scarf wound tightly between his fingers and the shoulder of his blue robe slipping. The boy is hovering behind him and putting on a fervent display of his stubborn jaw and determinedly splayed legs.
“He is,” says Athos, taking a deep breath, briefly closing his eyes, and becoming fully cognizant of the fact that his voice is coming out quite agonized, “uncannily strong in the Force, Master.”
Treville says nothing.
“And he saved my life,” Athos adds belated, reluctant.
Treville says nothing.
“I’m ready,” says Athos finally. “For an apprentice of my own.”
Treville’s moustache bristles.
The Council is going to be very displeased. Richelieu is going to meddle. Aramis and Porthos will probably find it all hilarious.
They take d’Artagnan in anyway.
There is a Queen from Naboo, and she needs a girl-guard by her side.
She does not have one quite yet, but the young woman managing the Temple clothing dispensary shows tremendous promise if not for the insecure husband she’s been tied to by law.
As such, Constance Bonacieux is not guard nor apprentice to anyone at present, but the boys keep telling her she’d make a brilliant one.
“Don’t you have important Jedi business to attend to,” she says, not really despairing, always in the middle of swatting one of them.
“We’ve just been knighted,” says Porthos, who looks more tired than usual in the muted Temple lights. There were complications, d’Artagnan had said. Something about his father. “We’re allowed a break.”
“By break you mean coming over here and bothering me .”
Constance wishes every day that she could take their compliments and make them real. Instead she remains dutifully married, and manages the dispensary whenever she’s needed, and hopes she is not too eager in her blossoming friendship with Athos’s newly-minted padawan. Jedi are not allowed romance, anyway, so that’s the both of them accounted for. Even if he did kiss her once, when he first showed up in Coruscant, and he’s kind and bright and warm and makes her blood thrum with the thought of a nebulous something every time she’s fitting him for new boots.
“You are the best woman I have ever met,” d’Artagnan declares, one day, as she is measuring him for a robe. He keeps getting his caught in everything, or burnt. It’s terribly impractical.
“Stay still,” Constance tells him, “or these pins will go places they’re not supposed to.” She herself can’t use the Force, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know things.
“I’m being truthful, you know,” he says. Constance smiles and does not meet his eyes, only goes back to enter her notes into the Temple database. Outside the window, traffic whizzes by in the Coruscanti airways, the lights both confusing and beautiful.
“You’d better be,” she says, “as I don’t keep you four around for my health. Terribly stressful, being friends with Jedi.”
She wonders if it’s d’Artagnan or adventure she craves more. It bothers her that she can’t figure it out, so Constance stops letting her eyes trace the lightsaber hanging at his belt, and the curve of his smile, and allows herself to simply be content with the tremendous warmth of her ridiculous friends. She hands out robes and tunics and boots as she’s needed, and tells Master Treville she sees more grey in his beard each time she sees him.
And then there’s a fugitive from Ryloth to be squirreled away, and an Alderaani baby kidnapped, and a young girl is killed just outside the Temple airways, trying to deliver a message to the visiting Queen of Naboo. Constance is involved -- because she can’t stand to see people hurt, because he friends are incorrigible, because she knows it will bother her husband (it does).
At the end of a year, she’s no Jedi, but she’s pretty damn good with a blaster. She wants to say she doesn’t feel d’Artagnan’s fingers lingering around her waist, or his mouth on hers, but that would be a lie.
And then she’s summoned to the Senate chambers, her husband in tow.
“I’ve a need for a confidant,” says the young woman with the painted face, who is smiling at her more genuinely than Constance knew Queens could smile. “And a body-guard. And you come highly esteemed and recommended, you see.”
Behind the Queen, Constance thinks she sees d’Artagnan flush. Aramis and Porthos are beaming -- Athos knowing. Are they assigned to the Queen, Constance wonders? And for what? Her husband makes a spluttering noise from behind her, something about meddlesome Jedi.
She has barely the time to thank the Force for just those before her mouth opens and she is breathlessly accepting.
The Queen’s smile dimples, and Constance nearly grins.
There is an attempted assassination, and a coup, and a Knight and a Queen, and a not-so-secret baby.
In this universe, these all happen in swift succession. Athos claims later that this ages him prematurely.
The blasterfire is still loud in the room when Porthos and Athos arrive from the next room, not quite breathless and ready with a plan of attack. Aramis is helping Anne to her feet; she is not trembling, but she was, moments ago. This is not the first time he has saved her life -- it’s becoming a regular occurrence, and Athos will not stand for it.
“We must leave Coruscant.”
“I do not like hiding when others are in danger,” Anne says, a stubborn set to her girlish face. Her eyes and cheeks are not painted as they were the first time Aramis saw her, but she is still dressed as a Queen, if in a beaded dress slightly less ornate than the traditional Noobian gowns of before. Constance stands beside her, their hands entangled. The starship they are aboard is sleek and gilded even on its inside, and privately Aramis wonders what Anne’s feelings are for this vessel that ferries her place to place without her full consent.
“With all due respect, Majesty, to stay now would be foolish.”
“I will not abandon my people, Master Jedi --”
“Your Majesty,” says Athos. His quiet voice has a hard edge. Aramis is reminded quite suddenly of Master Treville, who is at the Senate, now, keeping an eye out. “This is not up for debate. In the privacy of this ship we can agree that Chancellor Rochefort has gone madder than Richelieu ever was. The Jedi are loyal and brave, but I will not risk the lives of my apprentice and brothers for your stubbornness.”
Anne’s expression is complicated, but she is not as girlish in her personality as she is in her features. Wisdom and courage, Aramis realizes, are two things he very much admires about her.
They do not keep her safe in Varykino, nor Tatooine, but in a small Noobian convent off the side of a beautiful country lake. Constance, now husband-less, remains behind -- braver (d’Artagnan claims) than all of them put together.
Aramis is not specifically assigned to protect Anne, but the Force appears to have conspired such that he is there to fall in love with her anyway, to kiss her for her kindness and idealism in the soft orange glow of the sparse, earthy room she’s been given. The small statues of worship held by Anne’s people (and once, Aramis’s mother) line the windowsill -- they are both, its seems, tied to the Force in their own way. Outside the window, the nighttime hides the planet’s natural greenery. Noobians do not have kings, but he is a Jedi Knight, and she an aspiring senator.
Still -- they are to their credit less foolish, more cautious, more selfless in their love than they might have been. They promise each other their hearts, but not their futures. They return to Coruscant. Rochefort, the Separatist Spy, is dead, and his conspirators arrested. The Order is already following leads to other Separatist threats; the sly Coruscanti bounty hunter who used to work for Richelieu and had Athos looking anguished each time she entered a room has left them enough evidence to take down an entire army.
Master Treville, reluctant with his affection as always, is relieved that they are unharmed.
When d’Artagnan leaves the Order and his saber to marry Constance, Aramis’s heart aches, silent and unforgiving.
He hears the familiar chitter of Dee-Dee at his feet, alerting him, on his way back through the garden after the small, private ceremony. His plan had been to -- what? Hide in the ship? Meditate, perhaps.
Aramis looks up to see Anne, there.
“Your Majesty,” he hears himself croak. “You shouldn’t be here. It’s dangerous.”
“I promised Constance,” she says. She is dressed discretely, not as a queen -- just as she was those few months before, on the run. There is no paint on her face and her hair is hanging mostly free, curling at the ends and golden over her blue cloak. She turns her head and looks sheepish, as though caught. “Or -- I promised myself I would come for Constance.”
Aramis says, “it was a beautiful wedding. They’re very happy.”
Anne is already much closer than she was before.
They break their promise.
The Order crumbles, and is rebuilt, as is the case for all ancient things.
There is no massacre, nor a decade-long rebellion, but there is a war and there is outcry from the people.
The Senate feels different, Athos realizes, from before. Perhaps this is for the aching absence of Master Treville, once always a severe presence in the podiums. Perhaps he has simply grown older. Or perhaps it is because of where he is standing -- not in the Order’s cubicle, but in the public stands. The burn of the lightsaber wound at his side has dulled, but Aramis still holds a hand to his elbow, helping him stay upright.
It is hard not to smile, even now. As the Senate is called into session, Sylvie catches his eye from across the crowd and winks, softer now without her Mandalorian armour.
Love, thinks Athos -- weary, exhausted, no longer a padawan but not a Knight either -- love must never be forbidden. A loveless life does not give strength, but keeps order that hides rot, and apathy that pretends at calm. A Jedi, Aramis has always argued, might actually be encouraged to love.
Aramis is quite often a fool, Athos decides, but perhaps in this he has always been right.
Porthos laughs. D’Artagnan says, “Well, I figured it all out first, anyway, didn’t I.”
“Shush,” says Aramis, eyes bright and affixed on the senate floor. “The distinguished senator from Naboo is speaking.” Athos purses his lips; d’Artagnan does not bother to hide his eye roll.
Anne is, indeed, speaking, standing tall as elected senator in her hovering podium. Her voice is clear and commanding but gentle as she puts forth a movement to rebuild a new Order, one that does not distance itself from the galaxy, but thrives from within it, from what makes all beings shine.
As his brothers clap from the public stands and loyal, fierce Constance beams, and as the small curly-haired child by Anne’s side peers curiously down the podium at the gathered assembly, smiling gap-toothed at a grinning Aramis -- Athos thinks that the Force must have some sort of say in things, after all.