A/N: Hi everyone! So, this is it, the ending chapter of this new part of the By the moons saga! I hope you enjoyed the journey! This chapter gives us hope - I think - and makes us weep - me, at least. You'll be warned.
For those who are interested, we'll see each other around July or so, because there is a high chance that that Solo movie will inspire me at least a one-shot that will go extremely well with the first trilogy I wrote and that surrounded Tani Kenobi. You may read it first (although I am in the process of editing it, so you may as well wait for a bit).
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars or any of its characters. I only own my OCs Cas Andé, Tani Kenobi, Niobé Skywalker and Sehr, as well as the plot surrounding them.
11. Trial of Courage
It was becoming a habit, to lie there, surrounded by light and nothingness. Cas inwardly thought this a peaceful development to her current situation, if it didn't also mean that she was, in fact, alive.
She had faced an AT-AT and once again thrown her safety to the wind to safe her friends' skin. But more than that, she had faced the First Order with the consequences that it'd entail: Kylo Ren now knew she had survived the Temple, that she was alive and that she could, in fact, use the Force against his minions.
She had put herself in danger selflessly, to save a few.
It would have been unthinkable a few months prior. There, lying on her back and thinking about all things she'd done, Cas remembered the last day of bliss, when she had spent a sinful afternoon with a mechanic from Theed. She could laugh at her past stupidity.
How things had changed since then. She had left her home, Naboo; had discovered her mother's past; had met the Resistance and become part of it; she had become a Padawan in her own right; had found her strength in the Force; and she had destroyed an AT-AT that could have swallowed a hundred of her.
Someone chuckled close to her, and Cas felt like looking for the disturbance.
A deep voice she recognized only after said "Yes, you have changed, Cas Andé, and I am surprised to see just how much."
Cas' purple eyes sought the person sharing her mind, and her gaze widened when she noticed Master Skywalker advancing on her, clad in a beige Jedi tunic with a long dark-blue overcoat. He looked dashing, and somehow younger than last she'd seen him. She thought he'd looked that way when she had been admitted to the Temple forever ago, but couldn't be sure.
What was sure was that he was in her head, and he was smirking at her.
She felt like sitting up, and he shook his head. "Not yet, child, you have to rest first."
"How am I not dead?" she asked bluntly. "I thought I'd die."
"I know you did," he said while kneeling next to her. "You are in-between. Your body hasn't yet decided if it'd die or not. But it soon will."
Cas' brow furrowed. "Is this the moment you ask me whether I want to live or not? Because I find it ironic that it's you who'd ask."
The smirk made his grey-blue eyes twinkle. "I was an idiot for so long I don't understand how I did not bore myself to death." He chuckled to himself, then his whole face became serious in the time of a blink. "You were brave, Cas, when you faced that army. Very brave. It called to me, made me realise something."
She didn't answer, merely blinked again when he reached to place a hand on her forehead, forcing her to close her eyes. She felt something tickling her from where he touched her, as if he was- "Are you-?"
"I am giving you some of my live-force, yes. Enough for you to wake up and help your friends get to safety. You deserve it." He removed his hand, and smiled this time, something tender and almost fatherly. "I was wrong when I pushed you and Rey away. You are both far stronger than anyone else I could have trained. I am sorry."
Cas felt herself go, and knew then that she was going to wake up and never see Master Skywalker again – and how she knew that she had no idea. "Wait! What am I to do now?"
He smiled again. "You'll figure it out." He paused, and before his figure became blurry for good, he added "You have passed your Trial of Courage, Padawan Andé. I congratulate you."
Cas groaned, and opened her eyes, her ears being immediately attacked by loud noises of blasters and people running and something chiming.
She was being cradled against someone's chest, feeling the steady beating of their heart, and one long sniff made her realise it was Poe. Of course it was. She groaned again. "Don't hold me so tight, you idiot, you're going to crack one of my ribs…"
There was a gasp, and the handsome pilot's lovely dark eyes entered her sight, filled with worry and what suspiciously looked like tears. "I thought you were dead!"
"So did I, but I'm not…" She tried to watch her surroundings, and realised he had carried her back inside the hangar, which doors had been blasted into oblivion. "How are things?"
"Bad," he answered, still staring at her as if she'd disappear. "We're going to try and run for it."
Cas closed her eyes one second, feeling Master Skywalker's energy blaze into her steadily enough for her to feel his presence nearby – and Rey's also. "Master Luke?"
Poe sounded at a loss. "We've all seen him. It was surreal. He came to you and put his hand on your face and then he went outside. He's facing them now."
"He's buying us some time," Cas realised. "We need to move." She tried to sit up, but groaned again. "Captain, I think you'll have to carry me."
"Anything you require, as long as you don't do anything like that ever again." He scooped her up as gently as he could, and Cas wrapped her arms around his neck, knowing for sure right then, that she was in love with him.
Master Luke's diversion gave the Resistance enough time to escape the main hangar and follow the cricketing of the crystal foxes that had apparently found another exit to the mines.
Leia, who had looked as relieved as Poe to see Cas alive, was certain that Rey was looking for them, as their coupled beacon blinked red. The young woman could feel Rey as well, knew that she wasn't far, and she was broadcasting far strongly than ever before.
When at last they reached an exit, and found it blocked by fallen rocks, Cas was the only one not to lose hope, knowing, feeling, that Rey was going to save them all.
The light of day made her blink tears away. When she saw Rey, with her arms soon wrapped around Finn, a smile appeared on her lips.
Poe merely tightened his grip on her, making her purple eyes seek his brown ones. "What?"
"You never looked that happy to see me…" he said with a teasing smile.
Unable to stop herself, Cas placed a gentle hand on his cheek before softly kissing his lips once, then twice. "I've always been that happy to see you, I just have a different way of showing it…"
Poe kept his eyes closed for a second longer, and she realised that she had poured far more emotion into that kiss than ever before. It scared her, because she half-expected him to push her away, but his gaze was so affectionate it made her heart soar.
"Fine with me…"
The Falcon was filled to the brim with famished and thirsty people, sometimes injured as well, and Chewbacca seemed mildly displeased to see his old ship so invaded.
Rey was surveying the boarding of all survivors, and after a quick hug, she directed Poe – and Cas in his arms – to Han's private cabin. She'd have to share with Leia, but she did not mind.
It was when her Knight in sooty armour placed her down that Cas felt it – the biggest rip in the Force she'd ever experienced. It tore at her heartstrings, at her brainstems, at her very core, and she clutched at her chest, thinking that she was, in fact, dying for good.
When she realised that what she felt was someone else fading, dying, and becoming one with the Force, she stared blankly at Poe, whose own gaze had darkened when noticing her discomfort.
"Master Luke is dead."
And whereas he no doubt saw in this the end of an era, the death of a hero, and the loss of hope, she thought only of one person.
And her next and last words for that day were "We need to go to my mother."
A/N: So, there we are... My dear Luke's dead. You can't imagine ho much I cried during that scene. I've been in love with that idiot for twenty years, damn him. Anyway, I preferred to end the story here, because for the previous instalment, I had made the mistake to go further and everything I'd guessed would happen didn't. Silly me. So, no diverging from canon until 2019! ;)
See you then!