“I only kill monsters,” the Hunter says, refusing the handful of pennies the young girl in the faded dress is clutching.
Her eyes fill with tears and she persists that surely the reason he’s come to her village is to help her, reiterates that Mother’s new man is a monster, that he’s hurting Mother, that her eye is blackened and there are bruises on her neck like he was trying to choke her soul from her.
“I only kill monsters,” the Hunter repeats with a sigh as he walks away, but this much is true: neither he nor Mother’s new man were ever seen in the village again.
Something was wrong. With the time stream, with all of this. Things were happening in the wrong order, and other things were happening that just…shouldn’t have at all. A storm was coming, but would they be ready when it did?
The Calm Before
You can feel electricity in the air before a storm. You can tell that it’s coming, but you can never tell how soon the clouds and lightning will crash over your head.
Prompt idea from @strictlynofrills asking for a “It’s A Wonderful Life” style idea where Bilba is feeling down and gets shown what would have happened had she not gone on the quest. I decided to take it in a biiiiit of a different direction but I think it’s still the same idea! :D
Bilba stood at the edge of a broken path, darkness stretching away beneath her feet, and slumped in defeat. Rain from the earlier storm pattered on her head, sending cold rivulets sliding down the collar of her dress.
Her entire body felt like ice, but not enough to numb the pain in her feet because she hadn’t considered they might not be designed to trek through mountains full of sharp rock and bitterly cold ice.
She was miserable and now she was stuck out here being rained on because she was too stupid to remember the path was gone.
Seriously, it had been like a half hour ago, and she’d been there. She’d watched the stone giants fighting, had nearly been killed by them for Yavanna’s sake and yet, here she was, like an idiot thinking the path was going to just miraculously put itself back so she could trek down it.
Words ran through her mind, as biting in memory as they had been when she’d heard them out loud.
“She’s been lost ever since she left home. You should never have come. You have no place among us.”
Bilba flinched and clenched her jaw as pressure built between her eyes. Wouldn’t that just be wonderful, if they were to come out and see her weeping in the rain?
What had she been thinking? That she was off on a lark? That she’d skip along picking flowers and stopping for picnics along the way? For Yavanna’s sake, she’d worn a dress. No wonder Thorin thought so little of her. She’d given him more than enough cause.
Kili’s face floated through her mind and she closed her eyes and bit back a groan. She could still remember her excitement running out the door of Bag Eng, fantasies of love and adventure filling her head.
She’d had visions of riding next to Kili and entertaining him with witty dialogue during the day and impressing him with her cooking in the evening. She’d catch him watching her out of the corner of her eye and would smile coyly and then pretend to be interested in the way ahead while all the while sneaking peeks back at him.
That had been her fantasy. In reality, she’d given no thought to the fact that she’d never ridden a horse in her life, or that the Company hadn’t hired her as a cook, because they already had one.
She’d also never given any thought to the fact that Kili might give her no particular notice.
As far as he was concerned, she might as well not have existed.
At least until tonight when he couldn’t have helped but her hear his uncle’s scathing dismissal of her.
She was pretty sure the entire mountain had heard.
She opened her eyes and curled her hands into fists. There was no way, just no way she was letting them come out and find her out here. There was no way she was going back either, to face the long months ahead as an outcast, unwanted, unneeded.
She took a deep breath and then, carefully, started to shuffle toward the wall of the mountain. There was a small shelf of rock still there, barely a strip of jagged, uneven stone jutting out from the mountain.
She reached where it started, and felt her stomach curdle inside her.
At its thickest point, the path was probably little wider than her foot, and that was being generous.
For the briefest of seconds, she considered giving it up. Returning in defeat to the cave and putting up with their disregard and disgust until they got to a point where she could somehow find her own way back.
She shook her head at the thought almost immediately. Just the thought of alone made her want to die of humiliation, there was simply no way she could suffer through it in reality.
She steadied her nerves, and took a step out onto the ledge. She pressed her body against the wall, fingers splayed against the rock, and tried to keep her eyes focused on the far side of the path.
Don’t look down, she told herself firmly. Just focus on the other side.
Something boomed over her head and she froze. Please be thunder, she thought desperately. Please be thunder.
The mountain, thankfully, stayed where it was and she tried to relax. She started to slide her foot out another step, stomach turning flips as loose rock and shale slid out from under her toes.
She edged her foot out just a little more…and the shelf crumbled away from under her.
She froze, and her brain locked, paralyzed with terror. In almost slow motion she felt her body slip backwards from the rock. As if watching from somewhere else she saw her fingers scrabble to find purchase against stone she was no longer touching.
Her stomach dropped.
Distantly, she thought she heard someone scream her name but the sound was lost to the roar of the wind past her ears.
And then she was falling.
She was falling.
And then she wasn’t.
Bilba stood in blank confusion, eyes so wide it almost hurt, breaths coming in short, harsh pants. Her heart was racing so fast she feared it would give out, and she was trembling violently.
She was standing in a small grove of trees she didn’t remember being at the base of the mountains. The trees were in bloom, light pink flowers dusted in snow. A bright sun shone down from a brilliant blue sky, lighting fat flakes of snow swirling about her. Most snow mounded under the trees and beneath her feet. Her breath frosted when she breathed, but she didn’t feel cold.
Bilba crossed her arms nervously. Was this it? Had she died and this was what came after?
Her lips pursed and she swallowed thickly.
She hadn’t wanted to die.
She’d wanted to go home, sit in her chair again and forget she’d ever tried to go on an adventure where no one wanted her around. She could just imagine the disgust on their faces when they realized she’d gone and managed to get herself killed like an idiot. Especially Thorin. He’d probably –
“Greetings, daughter of Earth.”
Bilba shrieked, not only because the voice came from behind her without warning, but also because it sounded very much like Thorin’s.
It would be just her luck that she’d get herself killed and somehow end up in an afterlife populated by doubles of Thorin Oakenshield.
She whirled around, and let out an audible sigh of relief at the sight of a Man standing behind her. He was tall, as Men tended to be, with long dark hair and a powerful build. In those areas he did remind her of dwarves, but not that dwarf thankfully, and also not the one she’d been foolishly pining for, which was also nice.
Suddenly realizing that she was simply staring at him, Bilba shook herself out of her own thoughts, and forced a smile. “Greetings. Could you possibly tell me where I am?”
Please don’t say the afterlife, she thought. Please don’t say the afterlife.
The man’s eyes narrowed and his mouth quirked as if in some private amusement. “Where do you think you are?”
“I really can’t say,” Bilba confessed. She was beginning to calm down as she spoke to him, her heart slowing and and her shivering easing. There was something strangely non-threatening about the Man, in spite of him being a complete stranger.
She looked up, planning to show him where she’d fallen from, only to freeze in shock.
There was no mountain.
Over her head all she could see was the tops of trees and blue sky, stretching for miles in every direction.
“Is there a problem?” the man asked, voice casual.
Heart back to to thundering in his chest, Bilba turned her attention back to him. “I’m dead, aren’t I?” she asked. A sick feeling settled in her gut, along with renewed despair.
She really hadn’t been able to do anything right, had she?
“Are you?” the man asked. “Do you feel dead?”
Bilba frowned at him. “I don’t – I’ve never been dead before. I wouldn’t know how it felt.” She hesitated. “It would seem I’m not where I was before, though, and that doesn’t seem very encouraging.”
“Hmmm,” the man looked around himself, taking in their surroundings. “I would say this is a far cry better than where you were a moment ago, wouldn’t you, Bilba Baggins?” With the last he turned to look her directly in the eyes and Bilba felt her heart stutter in her chest.
“How do you know my –” Her eyes widened and she dropped to her knees immediately, head down. “My apologies, my Lord. I didn’t recognize you.”
She still didn’t recognize him to be honest. There were multiple male Valar and she couldn’t remember enough about them to know them on sight. She’d always been more concerned with Yavanna, and why in the world wasn’t she there?
Perhaps, Bilba thought, because she was so useless that not even Yavanna wanted to see her and instead had foisted the task on…her…husband?
“Rise, child,” the Valar said, amused. “And, worry not. My wife isn’t here because you are, in fact, not dead. At least not yet.”
BIlba’s head jerked up and hope rushed through her. “Really?”
“Really,” Mahal said dryly. He indicated and Bilba quickly scrambled to her feet, dusting the snow off her skirts in an attempt to look at least a little presentable.
She looked at him expectantly, but he merely raised an eyebrow in return. After the silence stretched for several long, awkward minutes, she cleared her throat and timidly asked, “So, um, can I ask what’s going on?”
“What do you think is going on?”
Oh, great, Bilba thought, it was worse than trying to talk to Gandalf. She wouldn’t have thought it possible, but here they were.
“I don’t know.” She tried to sound polite, she really did. “I fell off a cliff on my way back home and –” she swept out her arms to indicate their current surroundings. “And you say I’m not dead–” yet, he had said yet but she decided to overlook that part, “so I’m not really sure what’s going on.”
Mahal nodded his head to the side. “Walk with me, child.”
He started off without waiting and Bilba hustled forward to fall in alongside him.
“Why were you returning home?” Mahal asked without preamble.
Bilba’s shoulders sagged and she clasped her hands in front of her. “Because I’m useless,” she said softly, “and no one even wanted me there.”
“Is that so?” Mahal mused. “And if I were to tell you that, without your presence to distract the trolls, three of your number would have been killed before Olorin arrived?”
Bilba’s eyebrows drew together. “Olorin?”
“Gandalf,” he clarified.
“Oh.” Bilba focused on her feet where they were scuffing through the snow. “In that case, I’m glad I could help, but it doesn’t mean I was of any real use overall, or that I would be. Thorin was right. I shouldn’t have come.”
Mahal sighed. “Thorin tends to be one of my more stubborn children, but he carries much upon his shoulders. His people starve while he tries to secure their future.”
“I didn’t know that.” Bilba felt a rush of sympathy for the surly dwarf.
“And still he tries, even after those who owe him their loyalty refuse to help.” Mahal’s eyes turned hard, and Bilba felt a bite to the air for the first time. “Their actions will not be forgotten.”
Bilba was suddenly very glad she wasn’t one of the dwarven lords who’d refused to help Thorin in his quest. “I didn’t realize it was so very important,” she confessed quietly. “I’m happy I was able to help with the trolls, but I’m sure my leaving now is for the best. I’d have only been a burden, and they can’t have that on a quest this important.”
“Is that so?” Mahal frowned, eyes fixed on some empty spot in the distance. “Would you like to see how things will happen without you there?”
Bilba was taken aback. “Would things change that much? I can’t have been very important.”
“So you say,” Mahal countered, “and yet I have just told you what would have happened if you’d been absent during the encounter with the trolls.”
“Sure,” Bilba said nervously, “but that was just a lucky thing. Being useful once doesn’t mean I’d be useful again. I doubt they’d even notice if I was gone.”
Her mind went back to Kili again and the way he’d stared after the female elves in Rivendell. He’d never looked at her that way. She might as well have been a fellow male for all he took notice of her, no matter how much effort she tried to take in her appearance.
“Would they?” Mahal asked quietly.
He waved a hand, and the landscape in front of them simply…melted away as if it had never been there.
Instead she found herself staring into the foyer of Bag End as her past self, ran to answer the front door.
It hadn’t been all that long ago, but it felt like another lifetime. Almost as if the young woman she was watching was someone else entirely.
Her past self jerked the door open to reveal Fili and Kili standing on the other side. Bilba remembered his part very well. She’d been dazzled by Kili almost immediately and had started stammering and acting like an idiot, struggling to look both cute and alluring at the same time.
She’d thought, at the time, she’d done a good job. Now, looking at it from the outside, she could see she looked awkward and silly. Kili appeared to take no particular notice, breezing past her as if she weren’t even there.
Fili took the time to stop and talk to her, and Bilba mentally cringed at how dismissive she was toward him, eyes instead following Kili as he wandered off toward the kitchens.
The scene shifted to the next day when she’d run after the Company and Fili and Kili helped her into a saddle. She’d been enamored with the fact that Kili had touched her, however so briefly, and had simply stared at the spot on her arm, trying to convince herself that it meant something.
Yet again, as she watched from the outside, she saw something she hadn’t seen the first time. Fili trying to speak to her, only to give up when it became clear she wasn’t listening.
After this the images sped up, scene after scene of Fili ensuring she got food before he did, helping her on her pony, riding beside her and keeping her company, and then quietly backing away any time Kili approached.
Bilba flinched, remembering their time in Rivendell when Fili had invited her on a walk and they’d spent a pleasant afternoon seeing all the sights in the area. It was only now, with the scenes stitched together, that she realized he’d only invited her after she’d expressed excitement over being there and a desire to see everything.
Bilba had been aware of Fili during their time on the quest. He was a friend, someone easy to talk to and fun to spend time with. Watching the scenes as Mahal was showing her, revealed another level she hadn’t even been aware of.
Fili had been interested in her.
At least at first. He’d been trying to approach her, court her.
And she, in turn, had spent all her time fawning over Kili who hadn’t given her the time of day. Fili had clearly caught on, and had politely dropped back to not just being a friend, but to actively trying to help and encourage her when it came to her infatuation with his brother.
And she’d never even noticed.
“It would seem at least one would have noticed,” Mahal mused.
“So it would appear,” Bilba agreed in a low whisper.
Guilt assailed her for how often she’d simply dismissed or outright ignored him the second Kili had shown up. She’d treated him as an afterthought, and he’d taken it all with quiet grace and continued to treat her as a dear friend.
Her mother would have been ashamed of her behavior.
The scenes faded, Fili along with it, and left her simply standing back in the snow lit woods.
Bilba wasn’t sure how to feel. On the one hand, it was nice to realize at least one dwarf would have missed her.
Bofur’s face as he’d said good-bye to her flashed through her mind and she flinched again.
Two. Two would have missed her.
“And perhaps more,” Mahal said in a low voice next to her. “Only one was cruel to you and, though there is no excuse for bad behavior, I have found mortals are apt to speak rashly in moments of high stress.”
Bilba grimaced, moments when she’d spoken without thought coming easily to mind. It didn’t mean she felt Thorin was justified, or that he didn’t owe her an apology, but it did help her understand a little more at least.
They were both mortal, and sometimes they said things they shouldn’t. Thorin certainly didn’t want her there, but if she were being honest, he had cause. She wasn’t prepared for any of this, had no idea why Gandalf had chosen her of all people to join.
“I was running away,” she whispered, focused on her hands where they were clasped in front of her. “It’s been so much harder than I thought it would be.”
“And yet you’ve already come so far,” Mahal responded. “You’ve done splendidly, and managed to save three of their lives, whether they know it or not.”
BIlba gave a weak smile as the words sent a warm feeling through her.
That feeling was dispelled a moment later when Mahal’s expression turned grave. “Would you like to know how things will go without you?”
Bilba felt uneasy, but nodded. “Okay.”
It couldn’t be that bad, after all, could it? How much difference could one, small hobbit make? Thorin was a capable warrior in his own right, and had an entire contingent behind him. Perhaps she’d been wrong about her absence going unnoticed, but that didn’t mean her presence would make any sort of actual difference to the quest.
Really, Gandalf had claimed they needed a burglar when they already had Nori who actually knew what he was doing. Why in the world Gandalf had seen fit to add someone else, and someone like her who was wildly ill equipped for anything that didn’t involve her garden, kitchen or library was beyond her.
Mahal nodded…and her mind shattered.
Images, and sensations flooded her, overwhelming over.
A single, lonely peak silhouetted against an empty sky.
A massive, baleful eye.
The roar of an army flooding across a plain.
The sharp gasp of a last breath.
“Go back to your books, and your armchair. Plant your trees, watch them grow. If more people valued home above gold … this world would be a merrier place.“
Her own gut wrenching sobs.
Silent forms laid out on slabs.
Bilba staggered and fell to her knees. Her breath was ragged, and her throat burned as if she’d been screaming.
She lifted a trembling hand to her face and felt the wetness of tears streaming down. Her heart thundered in her chest, and her head pounded with a truly spectacular headache.
Mahal knelt in front of her and Bilba looked up at him in shock. “They die? All three of them?” And that was only part of it. Yavanna, the fire on the lake, and the army…so much death. She shook her head. “You can’t possibly be suggesting I can change any of that?”
“Why not?” Mahal asked. “Even the smallest person can change the course of the world. Many of the heroes you read about in your books were but one person, set out on a great adventure.”
Bilba scrubbed her hands aggressively over her face. She settled back on her heels and took a shuddering breath. “What do you want me to do?”
Mahal put a hand on her shoulder. “The question, my dear, is what do you want to do?”
Bilba pushed to her feet. “Are you saying I could still go home?”
“If you wish.” Mahal had stood to face her. “If you so desire, you can be back in Bag End, safe and warm and surrounded by your books.”
Bilba crossed her arms. Right then, the stench of blood in her nostrils and the echo of screams in her ears, going home sounded exactly like what she wanted to do.
Just…go home and crawl into her bed, hide under the covers and go to sleep. Then, maybe, tomorrow she’d brew herself a nice pot of tea, find a good book and go out to the bench outside her backdoor.
She’d sit down, and open her book…and spend the rest of the day feeling the heat of fire as it scorched through buildings. Feel the tremor under her as thousands of feet marched upon the earth. Picture the Durins marching to their deaths.
Sweet, kind Fili.
Exuberant, funny Kili.
Even Thorin for all his stubbornness and irritation still commanded her respect in other ways. His love for his nephews. The loyalty he’d so clearly earned from those following him. His desire to regain Erebor for his people.
She didn’t want to see them die.
She shut her eyes and tightened her arms until she was hugging herself. “I can save them? All of them?”
“Perhaps,” Mahal said, his voice toneless. “Is that your choice then? To try and save them?”
Bilba took a deep breath and then opened her eyes. Fear curdled low in her gut, but there was a fire in her eyes and her voice was steady when she spoke. “Yes. Please, send me–”
The shelf crumbled away from under her..
Her body froze, and
her brain locked, paralyzed with terror. In almost slow motion she felt
her body slip backwards from the rock. As if watching from somewhere
else she saw her fingers scrabble to find purchase against stone she was
no longer touching.
Her stomach dropped as she began to fall away.
A hand grabbed the edge of her skirt and yanked, hard. Her body flew to the side, and an arm wrapped around her waist and wrenched her back.
She landed, not on hard rock but a firm body, arms closed tightly around her waist.
She twisted enough to look up and found herself looking at Fili who, in turn, had his head back and his eyes heavenward while he tried to catch his breath. As if sensing her gaze, his eyes flicked to hers. “Are you all right?”
Bilba nodded shakily. Fili let out a sigh of relief and then began to struggle to a seated position. They were pretty well tangled together and, at one point, Bilba found herself quite firmly seated on his lap with her face mere inches from his.
His eyes widened and he flushed. “Sorry,” he said quickly, putting his hands to her waist to move her off. “I’m –”
The last bit was cut off in an “oof” as Bilba lunged forward and threw her arms around him, hugging him. The images Mahal had shown her – the look in his eyes as a blade was driven through him, the grief that had washed over her at the sight of him laid out on a slab – ran through her mind and she hugged him tighter.
“Hey,” he said softly, completely misunderstanding the reason for her upset, “it’s okay.” He hugged her back just as tightly. “You’re all right.”
Bilba buried her face in her arms, and against his neck. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I shouldn’t have left. I don’t know what I was thinking.”
Fili urged her back and took her face in his hands. “It’s fine. I just wish you’d have said something. If you’d wanted to go home, I’d have been happy to take you.” His mouth quirked into a self-deprecating smile. “Or perhaps I could have convinced Kili.”
“I don’t want your brother to take me,” Bilba muttered. “I’m not interested in him anymore.” She laughed quietly. “He made it pretty clear he isn’t interested. I just wasn’t listening.”
Fili went still. “Is that so. Decided to give up on romantic entanglements?”
Bilba smiled at the clumsy attempt to ask her a question without actually asking her a question. She met his eyes, and was mildly surprised at the flutter that ran through her stomach. Perhaps she hadn’t been as immune to him as she’d once thought. Perhaps she just hadn’t been paying attention. “I don’t know yet,” she said shyly, “but I’m open to possibilities.”
Fili grinned broadly. He gently moved her off his lap, got up and helped her to her feet. It was still raining, and Bilba didn’t resist as he took her hand to lead her back to the cave. The rock was wet and slippery and she didn’t relish the thought of falling for a second time.
Besides, she thought as she put her shoulders back and lifted her chin. She couldn’t fall.
People needed her.
She wouldn’t let them down.
In midair, invisible to the mortal eye, Aule stood and watched as one of his children led the young hobbit back to the temporary safety of the cave.
A figure stepped beside him and he nodded his head respectfully. “Father.”
“You might be surprised,” Eru started without preamble, “to learn that the pattern has changed and the line of Durin is no longer fated to end at Ravenshill.”
“Is that so?” Aule asked innocently.
Eru gave him a look of pure exasperation. “You were meant to show her what would happen if she went home, not what would happen either way.”
“I did show her what would happen if she wasn’t there,” Aule explained. “In that battle she would have been knocked unconscious early on, hence, not there.” Eru gave him a look that was decidedly not amused and Aule held his arms out helplessly. “It was that or listen to Durin endlessly complain about the end of his line.”
“How is it,” Eru asked, “that he even found out?”
“He may have overhead me discussing it with my wife.” Aule gave an unrepentant grin and Eru shook his head.
“You’re fortunate you did not change things for the worse,” he said with affection.
“I should have changed them for the better,” Aule said hopefully. “The ring will be far closer to Mordor when the time comes, and Frodo Baggins and his friends will be untouched by Sauron’s evil.”
Eru was silent, contemplating. Aule had no doubt that not every change would be positive, and he hoped Eru would be willing to adjust things to get the desired results, and not simply insist it all be put back to the way it had been.
After a second, Eru sighed. “I’m far too lenient with you.”
Aule grinned brilliantly, and then he was alone. He stayed where he was a few minutes later, watching as the hobbit reached the cave with her young dwarf. Idly, he wondered how long it would take for them to learn they were each other’s Ones.
Or that the relationship was a gift, meant to strengthen her for the trials to come.
“Stay strong, little hobbit,” he whispered after her as she vanished from sight. “You will need it for the days ahead.”
Then he was gone, and all that was left was the wind howling through the crevices, and the patter of rain upon the rocks.
Really Belated Writing Wednesday! SO this was a story I started months ago and hadn’t finished. It’s finished now, and is long enough to be about a four chapter long fic SO I’m gonna post a chapter a day til the fic goes away. :D :D
Little Warning: This fic gets pretty intense later on so please keep in mind that it’s still me writing it which means it’s still T Rated, No Archive Warnings and a Happy Ending. :)
For those who watch the show Supernatural, Sam and Dean make a cameo but the story is mainly about Bilba and Fili.
Anyhoo, I hope you all enjoy! Chapter 2 will be up tomorrow (on AO3). I’m not going to post each chapter on here, I don’t think, but I’ll post something letting you all know it’s up.
Bilba met Fili on a rainy January evening when she was six and he was eight.
The rain had left her stuck inside, and she’d been slowly going stir crazy. Her
foster mother had turned the lights down to put a movie on and, while the other
children were engrossed, Bilba took the opportunity to sneak out to go exploring.
She headed straight to the basement.
None of the kids were allowed down
there and she could just imagine the looks of awe she would receive from the
others when she regaled them with tales of her adventure.
Tragically, what she found were boxes, and dust. Lots and lots of dust that
tickled her nose and sent her into a violent sneezing fit.
When she’d finally recovered, she’d looked up to see a young boy staring at
her suspiciously from the other side of the room.
Fili, as he’d introduced himself, had snuck in to look for monsters. The way
he said it, all serious and solemn, nearly made Bilba laugh but she managed to
control herself and simply nod back with what, she hoped, was an equal level of
She could understand where he’d gotten the idea. The home she had been
placed in was in an apartment building, five stories with a stone exterior
stained dark in places by the passing of years. In wintertime the leaves died
off which left the trees spindly and creepy and, at night cheap lightbulbs caused an otherworldly orange light to shine from the windows.
Bilba thought the place had a ghost, and she lived there.
She’d ended up helping Fili look because it sounded like fun (even though he
continued to insist it was very serious) and, together, the two hunted
through boxes and searched shadowy corners for any evidence of ghosts, ghouls
or other assorted monstrosities.
It had been nearly an hour later that her foster mother found them, along with
a tall, dark haired intimidating man that turned out to be Fili’s uncle. Fili
had been dragged off, while Bilba had been sent to her room for the evening for
sneaking away and making everyone worry.
That might well have been the end of it, if it hadn’t been for Fili showing
up a few days later to see if she wanted to play. This time he’d been dropped
off by a different, just as intimidating, man Fili had introduced as Dwalin.
Dwalin had left and she and Fili had spent the entire afternoon running about
playing. This had been followed by a similar afternoon the next day, as well as
the one after that and the one after that. It was nearly five days later, in
fact, before Dwalin had arrived to take Fili away again.
Bilba had cried for hours.
Two weeks later and he was suddenly back again, this time with a younger
brother named Kili in tow. They’d stayed for only two days this time; and then
it was another week before they arrived again.
It became a normal, if irregular, occurrence after that for both of them to
be dropped off. Her foster mother explained that she and Fili’s uncle were old
friends, and she watched his nephews while he was away on business trips.
Fili insisted that his family was off fighting monsters, and they knew her
foster mother because they’d once saved her from one.
Bilba didn’t really believe him but had to admit his story was more
interesting than the one her foster mother told.
As they grew older she grew closer to both of them, but her bond with Fili
was always a little bit deeper than it was with Kili. When
they were gone, Bilba spent most of her time sitting at her bedroom window
waiting for him – them to come back.
Fili began to visit more often, not always with Kili, and not always times
where he had to stay. His family lived in a small, rundown house on the edge of
town, and he’d ride an old battered bike in to spend the day with her.
On Bilba’s eight birthday, Fili and his family showed up to take her out for
dinner. It was the first time she’d felt like part of a family, just like any
other kid out with their parents and siblings to celebrate. The restaurant
staff had given her a free cupcake with a cheap, plastic eight that she’d carefully
preserved and hidden away for safety.
Later, Bilba got permission to go with Fili and his uncle on outings,
sometimes to that rundown house on the edge of town, other times to the movies
or the park or mall. Once, they all went to the beach and she got to see the
ocean for the very first time.
She got to know them all. Fili of course, and his uncle, and then Kili.
There was also Dwalin and a host of other people who came in and out at various
times. Many of them were quite serious and had a tendency to brood, but they
were always very kind to her.
She never met Fili and Kili’s parents. The one time she’d asked, Fili had
gotten sad and simply told her they were gone.
Fili’s family seemed to get hurt a lot, often sporting bandages or favoring
arms or legs, but she was always waved off when she tried to ask what had
happened. Fili and Kili never got hurt. He said
it was because he wasn’t old enough to hunt monsters yet and, as always, Bilba
simply nodded and accepted it. She’d learned long ago not to be a bother. When
you were a bother, people didn’t want you. She didn’t ask silly questions or
raise her voice and she certainly didn’t go anywhere near the many weapons they
told her to stay away from.
In addition to them, Bilba also got to meet Tauriel. She was a friend of
Kili’s and, when she visited, she spent a lot of time sharpening her own
weapons. She was Fili’s age but, as he always complained, her family let her hunt. She rarely ever got hurt. When Bilba asked why, Tauriel
said it was because she knew when to duck.
Fili got his first knife when she was eleven and he was thirteen. Soon
after, Bilba stopped seeing him as often. Instead of being left behind while
his uncle and Dwalin went on their trips (to hunt monsters as Fili always
insisted) he went with them. Kili still came to stay sometimes, but it wasn’t
the same for either of them and he soon stopped.
It was around this time that the doubt first started to creep in.
She supposed it came from watching the other kids around her come and go.
Mostly go. There always seemed to be people looking for a little boy or girl to
come and complete their family.
No one ever asked to meet her.
She didn’t know why. Maybe she wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough or a
thousand different things. In the end, all that mattered was she simply wasn’t
enough. No one wanted her. As time passed, a small voice inside her head
began trying to convince her that Fili and his family didn’t want her either.
Sure, they took her out, but they always brought her back. Always turned
and drove away. Off on their business trips for days, or even weeks, at a time. Without her.
They never offered to adopt her, never even seemed to consider it.
the other kids taunted her for it.
Sometimes that voice inside her head taunted her too.
Maybe, it would say, she’d never been anything more than a built-in playmate
to keep Fili and his brother busy and out of his uncle’s hair.
Maybe they thought she was annoying even though she tried her hardest not to
be. Maybe they only tolerated her. Maybe Fili thought she was annoying but was
too nice to get rid of her or maybe they thought of her as nothing more than an
irritating little girl who couldn’t take a hint.
Maybe they were just waiting for her to go away.
The thoughts got louder as she got older, particularly once her eighteenth
birthday started to become less of a far-off concept and more of a rapidly
approaching reality. She couldn’t stay in the home once she turned eighteen.
She’d have to move out, find a job and place to stay.
She’d be all on her own.
When she was three months from her eighteenth birthday and he was well into
his twentieth year, Fili got hurt for the first time. Really hurt. He’d been
hurt before, ever since he started going away on those business trips with his
uncle, but it had never been more than a few cuts and bruises or, once, a broken
This time he came home unconscious and pale, with blood still staining
his neck and soaking through his shirt in a bigger pool than she’d ever seen.
His breathing had been shallow, and his pulse been so slow she almost couldn’t
His entire chest had been wrapped in heavy bandages and she knew he should
be in the hospital, hooked up to all manner of machines and tubes, but instead
they put him in his bed and set up a crappy old IV
pump that they’d stolen at the same time they’d snuck him out of the hospital
he should have been in.
It was the first time Bilba had gotten mad at them.
It was the first time she’d yelled.
It was the first time they’d yelled back.
She’d threatened to call the police, and they’d threatened to take Fili and
leave…and never come back.
Bilba would always remember the cutting pain as those words had lanced right
through her. She’d reeled back as if they’d physically struck her and, in many
ways, they had.
Kili had shouted at his uncle, while Dwalin had ordered them all to shut up
and, through it all, Bilba had simply…stood there.
She hadn’t moved until their uncle had stalked from the room and slammed the
door behind him. Kili had tried to talk to her but Bilba had simply shaken her
head. She’d gone and stretched out on the bed next to Fili…and stayed there.
No one from her foster home came looking for her.
It had taken three days for Kili to convince her to eat, and then only
because he’d threatened to have Dwalin drag her from the room if she didn’t.
After that, Bilba had made sure to eat, and shower and do what she was supposed
She did it by rote.
She did it in silence because if there was one thing she now knew with utter
certainty it was that while she couldn’t live without Fili and his family, they
could certainly live without her.
Life could be unfair that way sometimes.
Fili took two and a half weeks to wake up, and it would be weeks more before
every moment of that waking wasn’t spent in agony.
Bilba stayed with him the entire time, even later when he was mostly healed,
and the rest of the family started their business trips again.
She finally asked Fili what happened.
He told her it was monsters.
Something inside her had snapped. She’d screamed at him and, for the first
time since they’d met, Fili had realized she’d never believed him about the
The fight that followed was the biggest they’d ever had, mostly on her end.
All of it suddenly came pouring out. The horrible voice in her head, her
anxiety over her eighteenth birthday, the gut churning terror she’d felt as
she’d watched over him and begged him not to leave her.
At some point he’d stopped and simply listened to her, eyes wide. Bilba had
wanted to stop, had told herself to stop, to just simply shut up, please shut
up, for the love of god, just shut up.
Don’t be a problem.
Don’t make his life harder.
Don’t get in the way.
He won’t want you anymore.
None of them will.
They’ll leave and then where will you be?
She couldn’t seem to stop, however, and by the end of it her voice was
hoarse, and her eyes were swollen and puffy, and she was shaking so hard it was
a wonder she didn’t collapse.
She’d run from the house before he could tell her that he hated her. When he’d
tried to visit she’d refused to see him, and when her phone had rung with the
ringtone she’d set for him she’d turned it off.
Eventually he’d stopped trying, and she’d finally learned the answer to the
question she’d always been too afraid to ask.
It had been an illusion.
A pleasant dream she’d used to pass the time until she was forced to face
No one sent me a prompt for tomorrow’s Writing Wednesday SO I’m gonna post a Bilba/Fili Supernatural Hobbit AU that I wrote a few months ago. I’ll just need to write the last 10% or so and edit it! Woot! 😆
Feel free to send prompts for future Writing Wednesdays. Note you can also send requests for deleted/alternate or what if scenes to my stories - completed or in progress.
Happy Writing Wednesday guys! Literally up at like the crack of dawn (it’s not even dawn yet to be honest) and I gotta open for work but I’ll be back at like 10 ish. Hopefully then I will have motivation to write (I’mma gonna doing it!) since I want to clear out my drafts. Sooo talk to you guys then! =D So sorry in advance for keeping you guys waiting so long…
forgive me for asking, but why did you stop making writing wednesday prompts?
Don’t apologize, Anon! I’m open to answering your question!
The thing is, I was starting to get mentally exhausted and frankly was not really enjoying the blog anymore because of it so I am taking a break.
I don’t know if I’ll start up the prompts again. Maybe once the last season comes out, I’ll think up of some things, but for now I’m just trying to enjoy other things outside of social media.
I’ve been running this blog mostly by myself for over 4 years, so I’ve been getting steadily tired. Now that the series is confirmed to get its closure, I’m kind of winding down and getting ready to step away altogether one day and archive the blog.
When that happens, I’d probably wait long after the series is officially over, of course.
You find a coin purse lying the road. Inside is a wealth of gold and silver—along with a diamond the size of a man’s fist. The gemstone glimmers with an inner light. When you hold it firmly in hand, you hear a voice.
And I will look out over the fields and make it known
If this is all there is to life
No grand adventures. No one true love.
I will smile at the idea
That God looked at even the smallest of dandelions
Twisted and frail, the one who is alone
And with a comforting smile he whispered
“You are someone’s reason to live”
You are the meaning of life.
Also fits Writing Wednesday for @celebrate-the-clone-wars, Remains of the Day. Ahsoka starts to realize what her refusal to follow orders on Felucia cost.
They were piecing together everything that had gone right, and everything that had gone wrong, and Ahsoka didn’t know what to say.
She stood back amidst the group of officers and holograms on the Negotiator’s bridge and nodded dutifully when she was addressed. Inside her head, she tried work out how to explain her contributions in a way that didn’t bring any more ire down on her than her refusal to retreat already had.
After it had been clear they had been lured into a trap, she had genuinely believed she was gaining ground on dismantling it and thereby holding onto Felucia. Before they had even gone to the surface, both Master Obi-Wan and Skyguy had impressed upon her the sheer importance of them taking Felucia and securing it. They had been emphatic that losing Felucia would mean losing a chunk of the Perlemian Trade Route, and given how much fighting they did in the Outer Rim, they needed to hold that. That losing a staging point like Felucia would mean giving the Seppies a much easier route to take the fighting back into certain Republic territory.
Armed with the desperation of the situation and a healthy dose of pride and confidence in her men – or so she thought, at the time – she had gone on a drive against the droid army, taking her patrol up against the first batch she saw and taking heart when they started retreating from her fire. She’d been so caught up in that, she missed where the droid army was flanking her comparatively small group.
Now, she realized her mistake. She was proud she had not lost any of her men, and that only one more clone had died between when the retreat started and when they hypered away, but she had definitely been pinned down without realizing it.
And at least she wasn’t the only one who had made a mistake. Both Master Obi-Wan and Master Skywalker had decided to move forward on the intel stolen from a Seppie listening post without waiting for any kind of recon and confirmation on it. Ahsoka took some comfort in the fact that she wasn’t the only one who screwed up; that by comparison, hers seemed almost small. And cost neither group she had been with any lives.
They had walked through the whole thing, from their initial assault on Felucia, to their realization it was a trap, to the evac, compiling all of it for a formal action report to be logged and studied. When she heard Master Plo bring up the Blackbirds, she shifted her focus away from her own explanations; she hadn’t even known they had been in the area, let alone on Felucia.
“They succeeded in saving every troop still alive when they landed at Raptor Base,” Master Plo said, voice heavy. “Air support was delayed, however, and the vultures that had been harrying us broke formation; several returned to the base and opened fire on their perimeter and the base itself. Out of two hundred and fifteen troopers originally deployed at that base, they nonetheless saved ninety-four and lost one.”
It took a few moments for Ahsoka to understand just what Master Plo had just said. If they saved every trooper at the base who was still alive to save, how could–
It hit her dead center in the chest and she felt her breath catch short around the hard thump of it, like her heart had jolted inside her chest and then stilled for a moment, stunned. A bird into a transparisteel window. Then it started beating again as her arms tingled and her vision narrowed; it was pounding hard when she turned her wide eyes to Master Obi-Wan and found him looking back at her with– with– complicated sorrow and– and–
Later, she would look back and see it for what it was: Grief. Empathy. Even a bit of frustration. But in the moment, she thought it was also reproach. Master Skywalker opened his mouth, but Ahsoka didn’t hear it; instead, she heard her own voice, vibrating in her montrals like the thin cry of a hunting bird, asking, “Who did they lose?”
Hey I just wanted to say that even though I don’t participate in writing Wednesdays, I think it’s a really good idea and your prompts are always very interesting and meaningful, and it’s really cool how you promote people’s writing! Same thing with Fanart Fridays.
Thank you! This blog has always been about helping sharing works from the community. And I always like seeing how people interpret the prompts I put out. Everyone is so creative and I love and appreciate when they are taking the time and effort to make something in general.
A short conversation between Thrawn and his pilot for the past prompt, Foresight.
Spoilers ahead if you haven’t finished Thrawn: Alliances!!!!
Thrawn entered his ship’s cockpit, pondering all he had learned from his mission with General Skywalker and Senator Padme. He didn’t speak as he took his co-pilot seat, taking a moment to undo the collar of the too-tight tunic he had procured from the Separatist shuttle for his earlier disguise.
“Course, sir?” His young pilot, Shi'dramidi, asked politely, throwing him a curious glance.
“Home.” His reply was short, mind still turning over the disasterous collapsing of the mine’s tunnels. The images of Mokivj’s magma roiling to the surface, of ash and dust spewing into the clear sky, were dancing in his head. The planet was likely lost due to General Skywalker’s actions.
The trip back to Csilla was short, and made in it’s usual silence as Shi focused on guiding them through hyperspace without incident. She was younger than other pilots in the service, her bright mind and considerable talent allowing her to be assigned a position sooner than most.
After they reverted to real space some distance away from Csilla (the dictated practice, to allow sentries to deal with any ships that may have followed), Shi set the ship to auto-pilot and turned to him, drawing her knobbly knees to her chest in her chair.
“Who was that man?” Shi asked the question innocently enough, but Thrawn had been with her long enough to know she had many more questions about the adventure than that simple one.
Thrawn smiled. The Aristocra had given Shi to him because they knew they were similar. Curious, driven, unafraid to ask questions that might offend the powers at be. They knew that, should Shi not learn when and how to seek the answers she desired, she would find trouble settling into the rest of Chiss society. Shi was to be his pilot, and Thrawn was to be her mentor.
“He is a General in the Grand Army of the Republic. And, he is a Jedi.” Thrawn replied as he opened a side compartment in the cockpit, pulling out two meal bars and offering one to her.
Shi accepted the bar and unwrapped it, taking a bite and chewing thoughtfully as she considered his reply. After a moment, she spoke. “He told you he is a Jedi? Not a Sith?”
Her question gave him pause. “Why do you ask such a question?”
She looked at him guiltily as she took another bite. “It would break the rules if I told you,” she said softly, words a little muffled as she spoke while she chewed. He raised a brow at her, and she swallowed quickly. “Sorry,” she said sheepishly, knowing his unspoken chiding was due to her poor manners.
“You have seen his future?” Thrawn asked carefully. It was indeed ‘against the rules’ for the Force-sensitive children to divulge knowledge of the future to anyone but the Admiralty. But Thrawn was still curious as to what his young pilot had seen.
Shi nodded, watching him with wide eyes. “And you wish to know if I think what you’ve seen could happen?” She cocked her head at that, screwing up her face as she thought on his question.
“Not that if it will happen,” she replied slowly, still thinking. “His future is… dark. He does not do good things.” She frowned, likely wondering if she had said too much.
“You are wondering if he is a good person.” Thrawn said softly. She nodded again, seemingly pleased he had understood her question without her needing to divulge more of her visions.
Thrawn was silent for a moment as he thought on his answer. Was General Skywalker a good person? Such an question could be answered by examining a being’s motivations for their actions. Skywalker had not intended to destroy Mokivj by collapsing the mine tunnels. He had not intended to leave the factory workers destitute by shutting it down. He had not intended to leave a world in ruins by driving the Separatists away. But despite his best intentions, he had done so.
“I believe… he has a good heart.” Thrawn said. “But despite his motivations to do good for the people he serves, he may indeed have a dark future ahead of him.”
Shi nodded, uncurling from her seat and retaking the controls as they approached Csilla. Thrawn could tell she wanted to speak again, and let her gather her thoughts.
“I’m not supposed to tell you this, but because it involves you…” She shot him another quick glance, eyes looking suddenly careworn despite her youth. “You will meet him again.”
Thrawn nodded, absorbing her statement. “I believe you should inform the Admiralty of your vision,” he said softly. “It may prove very useful to the future of the Ascendancy.”
Lost in thought, I didn’t even notice I had missed the turn.
Instead I drove on.
It’s funny how it all feels guaranteed now
-the routine of it all I mean-
I roll over from a nap knowing I will turn to see your lips, pressed firm to the thoughts only dreams can entertain.
I pull you into my arms knowing you need affection my vocabulary cannot render.
I hum softly knowing fair well that even in your stillness you hear me.
Except some days….
I do not.
You do not.
And sometimes you find yourself driving, no longer sure of your destination.
Valerie slipped out of her uniform and dumped it in the rowboat. She winced as she slipped into the chill water and pushed the boat to the current which pulled it downstream. The uniform would’ve weighed her down and the last time someone ran away from Academy…
She pushed the thought out of her mind and swam to shore in the opposite direction of the boat. Upon reaching shore, Valerie made her way to the dark house atop of the hill. She froze when a figure stumbled out of the house next down but relaxed when they walked down the street to where lights and music were overflowing the lower area of the neighborhood. Gaslights were lit along the street, but Valerie kept to the back of the homes.
She came to her target and looked into a back window. She could see two sleeping figures in the two small cots near the window. The servants’ room. The window open quietly, and Valerie slipped in but stilled when a dark scent hit her. Decay.
Using the moonlight spilling, Valerie looked at the servant nearest her. The servant was a woman, but Valerie couldn’t make out more as her head was caved in and her brains were seeable. The same wounds were found on the other servant.
“Of all the houses,” Valerie grumbled. “At least I can steal their clothes.”
Valerie stole a shift from one of the wardrobes and went upstairs to see if the employers were asleep or down at the party. Hopefully, it was latter as Valerie didn’t need to be accused of murder alongside her other problems.
She found a parlor near the front of the house and used the dim light from the gaslights outside to move around. There were sofas, tables, and decorative items filling the room, but it was the painting above the fireplace in the corner opposite the door that caught Valerie’s attention. She didn’t bother lighting one of the small gas lamps on the table near her and went up to the painting. There was enough outside light to make out a man, his wife, twin daughters about the age of twelve, and a son who had to be half the age of the twins.
A greater search of the home uncovered the whole family dead in beds with their heads caved in like the servants. Valerie stole the small gaslamp on the table near the dead wife and went to go find the study she passed earlier.
Upon entering the study, Valerie went straight to the desk near the large window and rummage through the papers to figure out where she was and who the dead people were. Trade papers revealed the dead man was Monsieur Chevrolet, a wealthy merchant, and letters meanwhile told Valerie Madame Chevrolet was a beloved socialite and daughter of the infamous Captain Boucher, The Butcher.
She was in Royaume, the southern country famous for its extravagance and Midsummer Festival. In her lessons about Royaume domestic servants beared the family emblem of their employer which meant Valerie couldn’t go with her plan of stealing clothes from the dead women downstairs. Her empty hand roamed the stolen shift until it came across embroidery above her left breast. She would be taking clothes from the Madame’s wardrobe.
A clock in the room rang twelve bells, reminding Valerie she had six hours until she would be discovered missing. She put the papers back where she found and went to the master bedroom to change.
Before going to the Madame’s wardrobe, Valerie went back the bedside table to find more fuel for the lamp. The light caught something in the Madame’s hand, and Valerie realized it was a piece of cloth. Valerie quickly refueled the lamp and inspected the cloth without touching it. It was dark blue with silver stitching that shined dimly under the gas light. The Madame had ripped off the embele worn by her murderer.
“May they find whoever did this.” Valerie turned away from the dead couple and went to the adjence room that was the wardrobe. Her Royaume lessons were correct about women having an entire room as their wardrobe.
Valerie struggled to find a dress that was fancy even to let her blend in but one simple enough to make her unrememberable. Her light brown skin, thick black hair, and accent would already cause her to stand out; she did not need her outfit to make it more obvious she wasn’t from here.
Nearly sighing in relief, Valerie found a plain emerald colored dress with a square bodice cut and sleeves that would stop a hand above her elbow. Better yet, the back had adjustable laces which meant no need for a corset. Valerie shortly found the proper undergarments and a matching set of shoes and cloak. She changed and had slipped back to the servants’ room by the time the clock chimed one.
She returned the stolen shift and when she left the room she noticed a door on the right. She pushed it open and saw sitting on a large wooden table. Her light showed that the bags were leather and meant for traveling as well as brand new since one of them had half of the family emblem on it. Valerie grinned and grabbed an unmarked bag that would be perfect.
Valerie stole back upstairs to shove a few more clothes and cash into the bag. She passed the vanity and cringed at her semi-soaked knotted mess of hair. Valerie dropped the bag onto the floor and grabbed a brush.
While brushing her hair, Valerie looked through the vanity for hairpins to use and found a box with gold pins with a pearl on the ends. There was a note with them stating they were a gift from someone named P. “Thank you P for your simple taste.”
Valerie land the brush down and stared at her reflection. The bags under her eyes made the exhaustion on her face more pronounced, and her lips were chapped and bloodied from the constant worrying they received on her escape from the Academy.
She didn’t know how the local women did their hair, but she knew the simple braid her hair was accustomed to weren’t do. Her hands moved on their own twisting her long hair into a low bun like the one her mother worn for dinners and parties. A few locks fell out and framed her face lovingly. In the green dress on her body and pearls in her hair, Valerie swore she was staring at her mother, abit a couple of decades younger.
Valerie tore away from the vanity and grabbed the bag then clicked the lamp off before returning it the bedside table. She couldn’t be distracted by memories of her mother and past, not when the Academy would come hunting for her once the Sun came up and shone on her empty spot at the table.
Valerie didn’t look back as she fled from the house of the dead Chevrolet family and to the bright Midsummer Festival.
Relationships: Misha’la Linnsho & Clone Troopers, Senator Card
Summary: Padawan Linnsho’s first solo mission is met with disaster. Meant to escort Senator Card to his homeworld of Scipio, their hyperdrive is sabotaged and their ship is shot down above the ice world of Dolis 3. Surviving the frigid planet will be dangerous enough, and Mish faces her first difficult test freeing the survivors from the crashed ship.
first thing she became aware of was the acrid smell of smoke. The second was
the discomfort of the restraints holding her in place. She straightened her
spine and opened her eyes, wincing as she rubbed the back of her neck. The
cabin was filled with smoke which obscured her vision, but the occasional spark
of damaged electronics lit her surroundings well enough for her to see the clone
troopers were also stirring in their seats.
Mish coughed and waved away the smoke from around her head. “Senator Card?”
here,” muttered a resentful voice form the other side of the gunship. “I’m
the senator from Muun had not perished in the crash-landing, Mish focused on
the next task of pushing up the restraints. They refused to yield, apparently locked
into place. She reinforced her efforts with the Force, and the bars pushed
upward with a groan of protest.
gained her feet and wobbled for a moment. “Is everyone all right?” Besides
Senator Card, the gunship was also filled with soldiers who were a mixture of
Coruscant security and troopers from the 212th.
‘cept I can’t get this damn thing off!” Minus snarled as he pushed against the
bars holding him in place. “What’s wrong with it?”
appears the emergency release mechanism for these restraints is broken,” Solus explained
calmly. It was true. The rest of the troopers, including the Muun senator, were
locked into their seats. Mish raised her hand and concentrated on the heavy
gunner’s restraints. They shuddered and abruptly pulled upward, releasing Minus
to the trooper’s vocal relief. One by one, she did the same to the others,
though some of the clones managed to pull up the other’s restraints through
sheer physical force alone.
they were all free, Mish sensed they didn’t have time to rest. “Whoever fired
on us will come looking, and soon. We must hurry.”
got a problem, Commander,” the clone medic, Novac, stated in a strained voice.
He stood near the front hatch and pushed several buttons, but the door remained
firmly shut. “The door controls aren’t responding.”
think we’ve been sabotaged, boss,” added Minus ominously.
Vanessa hurried down the side of the road, hidden away in the shadows. Tomorrow her peers will spill their blood and pledge their alliance, the start of their years of training on the upper campus of the academy. She cannot be among them for even they find out who her biological father is, they’ll kill her. It doesn’t matter that she was barely twelve.
She pulled her hood closer and quicken her even steps more. She barely reached the forgotten road leading out of the campus when a voice called out.
“Where are you going, Rhodes?”
Vanessa spun around, hood falling from her head and knife sliding to her hand. The voice belongs to someone emerging from the building across the road; Christopher, her partner of a year tomorrow.
“None of your business.” She snapped.
“It is since we’re bounded, remember Nessa?” He closed the distance between them, and Vanessa realized he had a bag hanging off his shoulder. He knew I lied about running. “I’m your shield, and you’re my sword.”
“It’s Vanessa.” She bristled at the nickname. “I can take care of myself without you. I’ve told you that multiple times.”
“Well, I can’t finish my training without you, so I’m coming along.” He tossed an arm around her shoulders and turned her back to the road. “Besides, that toothpick won’t keep what lurks in the dark away.”
“You’re their favorite golden boy.” Vanessa pushed his arm off before putting her knife back in her sleeve. She kept pace with Christopher though. “They’ll let you finish, Topher.”
“It won’t be the same, Nessa.” Christopher smiled at her. “I take my promise of being your shield seriously.”
“Fine, but I’ll ditch you.” She warned him. “I’m not sentimental like you.”
–from the next chapter (unposted) of Blackbirds: Year One. For @celebrate-the-clone-wars writing Wednesday, revisiting the theme Fresh wounds. (Admittedly, this is the aftermath of said wounds, but it fits if I read the prompt right!)
He didn’t surface all at once.
It came in pieces, instead; different, fleeting moments like air bubbles. The only constant was the heaviness; the sense of being held down, but with none of the panic that would normally accompany such a thing. It was warm – Important, he thought, a word shot through with a feeling of faith rewarded – and there was a settled familiarity to it. Maybe a scent or several; maybe just an impression.
It wasn’t the first long drift Maul had known in his life, but it was the most comfortable. There was no sense of urgency to it; no despair, either. It felt as if he had earned it; or, at least, that he wasn’t stealing it. It reminded him of pieces of time on Alderaan, here or there, filtered in on the familiar scent of the blanket he had brought from there, by way of the Negotiator. The only thing missing was Obi-Wan. The familiar weight of Obi-Wan’s head on his shoulder, or the sound of a single human heartbeat under his own ear.
I miss you, Maul thought. He had no sense whatsoever of the Force right now, was self-contained and whole as he could be in that state, but he aimed the thought automatically in the Jedi’s direction anyway.
Probably the most notable thing was the utter lack of pain. He felt a bit stiff, when he could check in with his body, but no pain. Not the electrical shooting that occasionally hit his right hand, or the sometimes soreness in his right shoulder. Not the constant companion ache around where what was left of his spine met his cybernetics, something he was so used to that he never honestly acknowledged it anymore, and only did now that it wasn’t there.
Still, everything was heavy. It took him a long time to get his eyes open, and when he did, he found himself in his own bunk. There was an arm over him and the press of a heavy body up against his back; the feeling of air softly huffing across the back of his neck.
“Raze…?” he managed to ask, mouth feeling clumsy enough that he was mindful of his articulation.
The arm over him gave a squeeze and the breath against his neck picked up a fraction, but Raze’s voice came from above.
The demo expert’s spiky-haired head leaned over from his bunk, and he beamed at Maul from upside down. “Nope, not me this time, Lieu.”
Maul peered at him for a moment, squinting, not even able to really lift his head to do it, then shifted his head just enough to look down; aside the various gauze and paraphernalia on his own arms, the brown one over him was likewise taped here or there and wrapped at the wrist. He wet his lips, mind no where up to processing speed, and then asked, carefully, “Is this a cutlery situation?”
“Hn?” Shiv asked, arm tightening a little, as he was apparently not quite awake himself.
“He’s asking if he’s the little spoon, in Maul-speak,” Tally said, from somewhere adjacent, sounding humored.
“Yeah, looks like it,” Shiv mumbled back.
Maul had some questions – at least, he thought he probably should have questions – but the heaviness was already layering back over him, and he didn’t even manage to get his mouth open again before he drifted back off.