“BY THE FIRE”
An Obitine fanfic
The girl and the boy were sitting by the fire, their clothes soaking wet, the sound of the rain filling the silence between them.
Obi-wan noticed that Satine was trembling.
“Where are you going?” the young Duchess asked when she saw her protector getting up from the floor and heading to the exit of the cave they were in.
“I just thought we could use more wood for the fire” he replied without stopping his course or turning around to face her.
“Don’t go, it’s raining. You’ll catch a cold. And that’s the last thing we need right now. If you want to look like a hero, you’ve already missed your chance today” she said with a bitter look.
“With all due your respect, your Highness, a few drops will not kill me. I can manage”.
“Very well, as you wish, lazer-brain! But don’t you say I didn’t warn you”.
“Oh, I’m sure you would be awfully pleased if I got sick. Why do you try to stop me?” he raised his voice.
“You know what, maybe I shouldn’t. Go on and do whatever you like. Kill yourself, I don’t care!” she shouted back.
“At least then I will be spared of your nagging complaints”.
“Fine!” she yelled.
“Fine!” he repeated louder and left the cave murmuring in anger.
Although their bickering habits were executed too frequently the last two months the two Jedi had come to her aid, Obi-wan still was amazed by the girl’s temper and unrefined manners. However, that didn’t stop him from searching for more wood for her. He was not particularly cold.
When he came back with more wood, the Duchess had tightened her arms around her knees, her head buried between them, and her whole body was trembling. As soon as she heard his footsteps, she raised her head and quickly wiped her eyes, now notably red.
Her hair was a mess, huge dark circles laid under her crystal blue eyes and her face was just so skinny, as if her bones were about to come out of her skin. Since the first moments of their acquaintance, Obi-wan had noticed that the Duchess had a very impressive body-shape. Thin, elegant and tall. Her figure was so imposing and yet so woman-like, despite her young age of nineteen.
But now she was but a shadow of that elegant lady. They hadn’t eaten well in a while, and when they did find good food she didn’t have appetite. In addition to that, the constant running had resulted in her losing much weight and the disappearance of her once attractive posture.
However, now that Obi-wan was looking at her, there was a strange beauty hidden behind her tired expression and maltreated body. She was extremely different from when she was wearing her formal outfits on Sundari. Her traditional wigs and weird hats (as Obi-wan called them) gave her a sense of authority, which was essential to her role as a leader, but they hid too much of her soft golden hair. And even though her hair was now seldom clean or well combed, he thought that he preferred it that way. Most of her remaining clothes were also dirty and usually torn around the edges, but they made her look more natural.
Now she didn’t look anything like royalty. She was just a normal girl. Or a poor, filthy girl, to be honest.
Obi-wan had seen her smile only a few rare times, but when she did she was ‘more beautiful than a blossoming tulip’, as he had admitted to master Jinn when asked about it.
And now seeing her sitting there, her sad little eyes gazing at the slowly dying fire, her messy hair falling on her tiny trembling shoulders, her snow white face now rosy and warmed up by the fire, that was when it hit him: he liked her so much more when she was natural. She was real. And she didn’t need any formal dress or pretentious make-up to become beautiful; she was already stunning. So much that he couldn’t take his eyes off of her.
“What are you looking at? You take pleasure in seeing me suffering in the cold?” she asked annoyed with a cracked voice.
“No, of course not” Obi-wan replied. He did take pleasure in seeing her, but certainly not frozen.
He then put the additional wood into the fire, making the cave significantly warmer. He wasn’t a greatly gifted Force-sensitive padawan, but he could feel that same warmth overwhelming her.
He sat down next to her.
“Thank you” he heard her voice as soft as a whisper.
He nodded calmly.
He had a lot to think about. What they were going to do in the morning, where his master could be, where should they look for supplies… Yet at that moment, he didn’t want to do anything else than just sitting there next to Satine. He couldn’t explain it, but he always felt her presence was soothing, as bitter as her words may have been at times.
“How is your leg?” he inquired after her injury, which was caused indirectly by him, when earlier today he dropped her while he was running and carrying her in his arms.
“Nothing too serious. I… I believe I overreacted earlier. Worst case scenario, I will have a mark with a rather interesting and funny story to remember”.
“Oh, will you not be angry at my clumsiness?”
“No, but I will laugh at it” she admitted smiling cutely.
“I believe I can bear with that” he said cheerfully. “I… I suppose I haven’t really apologized about it” he admitted with hesitation.
“No need, Obi!” she immediately cut him off. “Eventually, you carried me to safety. You protected me”.
“Not well enough!” he said, angry at himself. “And today was not the first time I failed you. What happened back on Concordia was all my fault! And if my master wasn’t there, I don’t know what would have happened”.
“Don’t be too harsh on yourself. You tried your best” she comforted him.
“’Do or do not do. There is no try’. That’s what they teach us in the Temple. Maybe I am not ready for this mission”.
“Don’t say that”.
“Isn’t it true? What if we face Mandalorians again, without my master present? What if I crash the ship and you are in it this time? I was brought here to protect you, but how am I supposed to even make you feel safe if I fail in everything?” he said with a wobbly voice.
His guilt was almost drowning him. He knew it very well: if something ever happened to Satine, it would leave him broken. He had dreams about her. Or maybe visions. He still couldn’t tell the difference. They were so intense and felt so real. There was her, scared and desperate for breath. Calling him to save, and him unable to do anything. A mysterious force choking her, a dark presence. Red and black everywhere. And then a blade coming through her. At that point he would wake up, panting and full of sweat, only to find her sleeping a few meters away.
Maybe it was a premonition of the future, or just his own guilt and fear playing games with his mind. Whatever it was, he was not going to let come true. How could he face his master after that? Or even the Jedi Council? And even more importantly, how could he live with that? But was he enough to save her? Was he strong enough to protect her?
“You are wrong to think that, Obi” her tender voice soothed the atmosphere.
“I feel safe when I am with you. I know I couldn’t be in better hands”.
“You are very polite to say that, but—” he questioned but was soon interrupted.
“It’s the truth. That’s how I feel. I know it’s weird, and it doesn’t make any sense, but despite all the mess we are going through, when we are together, it feels like home. I don’t know how you do it. Maybe it’s a Jedi trick, maybe—”
“Maybe you are just very fond of me” he teased her.
“Shut up! What I’m trying to say is that maybe you are stronger than you think”.
“My master also thinks so. He said that when we go back to Coruscant he will suggest to the Council that I take the final trials in order to become a Jedi. The thing is, I don’t feel I am ready. I don’t even feel ready for this mission”.
“Maybe sometimes we must do what we have to, even though we don’t feel capable. Life can lead us in difficult situations, but we must not forget our duties”. She sounded so serious and wise that really touched Obi-wan.
“That’s what happened to you?”
He sensed an uncomfortable and surprised feeling through the Force all around her, but it didn’t last long.
“Well… to be honest, yes. I may look brave and intimidating, but the truth is that most of the time I’m just scared. I mean, how can I live up to the expectations of my people? They say that I am just a child and maybe they are right. I’m not ready for this! My dad was a natural leader. He was a great politician, a wise ruler and a good man. And that he’s gone, how am I supposed to take his place?”
He had often heard her calling him in her sleep. Shouting “dad” terrified and in agony. Those nightmares were hunting her every night and Obi-wan would always try to send her a calming wave when he heard her.
“I am not like him” she continued. “I wish I was, but I am not. My own people want me dead! I can’t be their leader, I’m a mess. I mean, look at me! I don’t even look like a Duchess!”
“No, you don’t. Not at all” Obi-wan said and for a moment he made her feel even worse and turn her hurt gaze to the ground, but then he continued: “You look much more beautiful”.
Now he didn’t have to be Force-sensitive to feel her surprise. Even though the light of only very few flames could reach her face, Obi-wan could see that she blushed.
“Did you really say that?” she asked shyly and obviously flattered.
Obi-wan was certain that she must have been complimented on her beauty thousand times, and by far more important and influential people. But none of them must have seen her like that, so plain and so far from her royal luxuries. Perhaps that was why his comment was so important to her.
“Don’t take it too serious, it was just to cheer you up” he replied, hoping the topic would be dropped.
“Really? Tell me the truth, stupid nerf herder. If of course you are brave enough” she challenged him.
“Well… Okay, I’m not saying that you are the ugliest creature I‘ve ever seen, but… you know…” he was stuttering, much to Satine’s delight. “Oh, come on, you know you are gorgeous” he finally admitted and then saw a timid but bright smile on Satine’s lips. That gave him courage to continue: “And not just that. You are also brave and strong and you care about your people. You truly want their best. You have survived so much and you fight for righteousness. You have endured what other rulers have not even imagined. And I know that in the end you will prevail. Mandalore is truly lucky to have a leader like you”.
He stopped talking and noticed the beginning of a tear in one of her lovely eyes. It was a happy one.
“I believe in you, Satine” he added softly.
The young Duchess playfully poked his shoulder as she drew closer and, undeniably touched, said:
“I believe in you too”.
That was everything he needed to hear. He didn’t know what the following day would bring, but he was sure that the Force was with him, and also that he would do anything to protect her. Tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and in all the tomorrows that would come until the end of time.
The fire was again slowly dying, but now they didn’t feel cold. They were sitting so close to each other, their bodies keeping them warm. And it was one of those times Obi-wan forgot he was a Jedi. Forgot all about the Order, Coruscant, wars, the whole galaxy. He was just a man, sitting next to a woman, feeling compassion for her. Nothing else existed in the universe: him, Satine and the fire.