Rising Light
by River Winters

Author's Intro/Notes: Welcome and thanks for stopping by! This is the sequel to Hand of Fate (find it on my main profile), which covers Sabé and Obi-Wan's love story from The Phantom Menace to Revenge of the Sith. This story will cover the Tatooine years where Sabé and Obi-Wan have taken Luke to raise as they prepare to have a child of their own - a baby girl they'll name Rey. This is a AU Rey Kenobi origin story, so strap in for angst, drama, adventure, family feels, and more romance. As always, I appreciate your reviews! And don't forget to visit the story blog at hof-story dot tumblr dot com - happy reading, and may the Force be with you! FYI, I anticipate that updates will be somewhere between once every two to three weeks.

Rising Light

Chapter 1 / Wanted by the Empire

19 BBY
Mos Eisley, Tatooine

All times of day on Tatooine are the same: miserable. Under the dark robe of night, temperatures plunge to a hostile frigid chill, and then during the daytime, the planet roasts beneath the oppression of blazing twin suns.

The cruel heat is already sweltering the city today, even so soon after sunrise. Mos Eisley is not a destination that attracts tourists, nor will it ever be—this place is an impoverished hive of crime. Danger is promised around every dilapidated corner. With very little local government in place and security forces that either can't be bothered or that have been bribed into inaction by different gangs, the place is essentially a free for all. A day doesn't pass without an assortment of violence and lawlessness: robberies, murders, and vandalism to name a few. Despite how harsh and dangerous a planet Tatooine is, it has a sizable population. After all, even degenerates and lowlives need someplace to call home.

The dusty thoroughfares here blow through with gritty loose sand that sticks into every sweaty crevice and finds its way into even the most carefully packed bags and items. The smells enveloping the hot air are pungent: sweat and body odor, charred grilling meats, the sickly sweet smoky perfume of hakka incense, dung from the many animals ridden by travelers.

Even this early in the day, there is quite a surprising crowd out in the just-opened market tents. There's been a small boom in population since the newly-formed Empire was instated a few weeks ago. Either way, from riffraff bristling with weapons to scurrying underlings trying to go about their business in relative peace, all sorts of citizens and travelers swarm the streets today.

Lost among the slowly-milling morning crowd, a woman stands at a small fruit stand that's shaded from the rising suns by a ragged brown tarp. The woman is of nondescript height and build. She isn't very eye catching—and that's the point. Snuggled up onto her chest is an infant who sleeps deeply, securely worn against her front with an elegant bind of faded fabric. A quarterstaff is slung across the woman's back—the only weapon that's visible. She's swathed in ratty clothing complete with a wheat-colored frayed poncho, a dark brown hood loosely drawn over her head, and a beige cowl that obscures her nose and mouth. By all appearances, she's a local. What gives away the fact that she isn't a local is despite her face covering, one can see that her face is very clearly sunburned—her fairer skin is not yet acclimated to the conditions here.

"And how much for the rishi melon?" she asks, eyeing the piled high fruits with the soft blue rind.

The middle-aged male Duros alien manning the tent peers at her, eyeing the sparkling yellow kyber crystal hanging around her neck. "Four for a trugut."

The woman sees exactly what he's staring at and pointedly pulls her robes closer, hiding the jewel from his sight. "Yesterday it was five for a trugut."

The alien's red eyes flick up to meet hers unpleasantly. "And today it's four."

The woman deliberates, her sharp brown eyes studying the Duros male carefully as she takes three seconds then decides not to press the issue. "I'll take eight."

She hands over two truguts and takes what's given in exchange, quickly stuffing the blue orbs into the canvas bag that's belted to her middle. The melons are small, each one about the size of an adult's palm. They'll be a meager breakfast that certainly won't take away the constant hungry feeling that's plagued her ever since their arrival to this desolate wasteland. But she's just glad to have food at this point.

With a protective hand over Luke, Sabé continues on her way. Casting watchful glances around, she assesses danger and threats as is instinct by now—but she's even more paranoid than usual. These are dangerous times. She marvels in a very grim way at her life. It feels like she's been drifting in some kind of hot, sandy, desolate limbo for at least half year. But it's only been four weeks since they arrived here to hide from the Empire.

Hardship, frustration, dead ends, and discomfort have defined the time since. Baby formula is hard to find here. DC-10's gears keep getting full of sand and inhibiting the droid from functioning—Sabé finally powered the droid off and put it in their ship as storage for now. The ship, which is waiting at a rented dock, costs them quite a few credits each day to keep there—another stressor. Their search for a permanent home has been fruitless and full of roadblocks. They've already been held up six times in attempted robberies. The clinics and medical facilities, if they can even be called that, are dirty and run poorly. Tensions are high and prospects feel hopeless. The feeling of absolute loss—of relationships, people, and life as they knew it—has left an unshakable heaviness. Morning sickness is plaguing Sabé each day. In fact, right now, her stomach is turning like she's motion sick. Swallowing against the nausea, Sabé ignores it and trudges on. She can feel little grains of sand working their way into the tall boots she wears, and it irritates her further.

Everything in Mos Eisley has the same weathered, worn, dulled look to it: the sandstone buildings are all bleached like bones and the faded vendor tents, once brilliant colors that stood out proudly, are now faded pale replicas of their former glory. It's a bleak, joyless place that slowly burns life away under the twin suns. Sabé feels like the gloom here has already taken hold of her spirit and body, quelling hope and instilling an existential dread that she can't shake.

Sabé scuffs past a jewelry stand, a dried goods shop, a rundown tech repair cart. Smoke from open grills further up the street send a haze of drifting smoke that makes her eyes sting, stomach turn, and lungs quake—Sabé coughs and attempts to draw her robes more closely around Luke momentarily for fear of the smoke harming him.

No one fully trusts each other here, and you can see it in the suspicious glances all the sentients give each other. Sabé is no different, looking at everyone and everything with thinly veiled wariness. In her mind, every passing stranger could be an agent of the Empire poised to attack and then rip Luke away. Every ship that jets by overhead could be an Imperial envoy set to take the three of them by storm. Every lurking figure could be an informant ready to alert the enemy of whereabouts.

The thoughts leave Sabé in a state of agitation. She feels herself growing apprehensive to the point of feeling physically ill.

No, wait, that's… oh, kriff.

Sabé recognizes the sickening surge that suddenly clenches her stomach. It's a warning, and one that doesn't give her much notice. She barely has the time to clutch Luke's head close, yank her cowl down, and bend over before she vomits onto the street. The unfortunately familiar upheave takes over momentarily, forcing the contents of her stomach out quickly and unpleasantly. Sabé spits when she's done, trying to get the sour bile taste out of her mouth. She curses morning sickness and doesn't even have a chance to contemplate how embarrassing this should feel: As she's dashing the corner of her mouth with a sleeve, there's a brief, sudden sound behind her—the unmistakeable sound of a blaster being cocked.

Instincts kick in: Danger! Everything else fades away, and a lifetime of training informs her response. Sabé whirls in a half second, her quarterstaff practically flying into two strong hands. She's come face to face with a Duros male, a generation younger than the one who sold her the melons. He has a blaster pointed at her and his red eyes are on the kyber crystal at her neck. He looks like the musclehead type—big on brawn, small on brains. He's standing too close to her and foolishly leaving himself vulnerable by doing so. "Hold it right th—" the alien begins, but doesn't finish. Sabé uses the element of surprise and in a single movement that's both lightning fast and not even full strength power, she knocks the blaster out of his grip with one end of the staff. No sooner has the blaster gone flying than Sabé is giving her weapon a powerful whirl to gain momentum. In tandem with the blaster plunking down into sand, the Duros takes a very hard thwack! to the side of the head. He falls backwards, unconscious, and Sabé stands over him, seething and breathless. Common thieves…

Jostled by the movement, Luke starts to cry where he's worn against her front and Sabé glances around tersely at the few people who noticed the commotion. With urgency to keep a low profile, she re-slings her weapon, yanks her cowl back up over her face, then slips into the crowd quickly, her heart rate elevated and breath coming quicker than it did before. As she goes, she checks on Luke, bouncing, soothing, and shushing him as best as she can so that people don't stare—all while throwing backward glances nervously. Mercifully, Luke settles.

The refugee and her precious cargo travel down the main street for a block before Sabé cuts into an alleyway, then down another one and around a corner. There, she waits with short, fast breaths and listens to see if she's being followed. After a moment, she's satisfied that no one is on her, but she doesn't continue onward yet. Instead… she sags against the wall she's near and her harsh outward expression breaks. Her shoulders slouch as she loses the ability to stay strong for a moment. All of her pent up despair, loneliness, and fear translate into stinging, shameful tears she clings to baby Luke—for his reassurance or for hers? It's unclear. Most days, she's been able to make it through by disconnecting from all of her thoughts and feelings. There hasn't been time for grieving here, only for surviving to the next day. That's the most exhausting feeling of all.

After a moment, Sabé forcibly calms herself with deep breaths and wipes off her face, clearing her throat and composing herself. She's going to be late if she doesn't hurry up. The galaxy doesn't have time for her feelings.

With a hard sniff and a re-squaring of shoulders, Sabé puts a strong expression back on and slips back into the obscurity of the bustling streets. There she threads her way to Mos Eisley Spaceport, where Obi-Wan is waiting as planned, just underneath the Departures sign. Sabé pauses when she catches sight of him, and she's obscured from his vision by the crowd of moving people between them. He looks pensive. Tense. She's having trouble recognizing him these days, and seeing him just now makes Sabé feel a sense of bitter yearning. Without his Jedi robes and cloak on, he looks like he's in costume or a disguise. Which she supposes he is: the wrapped sandstone leggings, the belted poncho, the loose scarf draped across his shoulders that he'll use as a hood later… they all hide his former identity easily. The only thing from his old life he wears are his Jedi boots. They carry dark burn marks from Mustafar.

Just then Obi-Wan catches sight of her, stands up taller, and acknowledges her with a tight little expression. An attempt at a smile. Sabé hesitates, a flicker of pain passing through her. Then she steels herself, responds in kind, and crosses the distance between them.

It's not just his clothes that are different these days. His face is sunburned just like hers. His hair and beard, always so neatly kept before, have both been completely abandoned and left to be untamed and forlorn. A striking, tragic metaphor for his internal state.

"Any trouble?" he asks quietly as she approaches.

Sabé shifts Luke, eyeing the passersby briefly and shrewdly before meeting his gaze fully. "Nothing we couldn't handle."

Obi-Wan, perceptive to a fault, can obviously see that's there's more to the story. But he doesn't bring it up. He merely greets Luke with a little head touch and bittersweet smile, then meets Sabé's conflicted gaze. A muscle flicks in her cheek. Her face is sad but resolute. Obi-Wan falters and grows fractionally more melancholic. They say nothing, each visibly thinking, but neither speaking their thoughts aloud. The silence becomes burdened and dense. Painful. After a lingering injured look at Obi-Wan, Sabé ducks into the shade and coolness of the spaceport. Inside, more travelers teem, moving between public transportation hangars.

Obi-Wan follows Sabé's lead into the privately owned hangar bays and there, Max Orbo's familiar bright yellow landspeeder awaits. Max is a 'sentient of all talents!' according to himself—and he owns quite a few properties in the general area. He's been showing them potential homes for the past few days. Always at a cost of quite a few credits. But that's how real estate works on Tatooine—bribe the buyer to show you their home. Then hope they actually do.

Max is an animated and portly little creature with a greenish skin that looks shiny and translucent. His voice is boisterous and comical. "Good morning, weary travelers!" he greets, laughing while his guests don't bother to hide their low moods. "Are we ready to go? I have a little place on the outskirts of Bestine to show you today, remote like you want and everything." His ears twitch.

Obi-Wan's reply is distracted and automatic. "We cannot wait to see it for ourselves."

Max claps his meaty hands together enthusiastically and motions for them to get aboard. They do, but not without a brief, hooded glance. Once they're all seated, the speeder exits the hangar on the back side of the building, which opens up into the main streetway. Sunlight spills over them once again. They crawl through some traffic then jet off into the desert once they reach the city limits. The hot wind that hits them as they travel makes it feel like they're slowly being baked alive.

The desert is remarkably plain here. No shade anywhere. No mercy in sight. Only heat, blinding sand, and endless blue skies. In the distance, some rocky ridges march—the Jundland Wastes. A wild, uninhabited place where the Tusken Raiders apparently like to hunt—animals and sentients alike. They're headed toward Bestine now, one of Tatooine's only 'nice' cities. The locals laugh at it, calling it pretentious. Offworlders scoff, labeling Bestine as garbage. Sabé hasn't seen it yet, so she can't say. But everything here she's seen so far is wretched. No wonder Anakin swore to never return…

A thought that sends a predictable, painful reminder over her. Glancing at her silent companion briefly, feeling his silence even more than usual, Sabé has to turn her gaze away to keep herself composed.

The trip to Bestine will take about an hour and a half. It will be a hot, silent, uncomfortable journey, just like all the other ones have been. By now, Max doesn't try to start small talk with them—he already knows that they will not participate. Obi-Wan and Sabé are using false names and being overly cautious in terms of speaking to anyone about anything. They agreed on a no small-talk policy with anyone they don't know. And here, they know no one except each other. Obi-Wan is now Ben. Sabé is now Isa. Two names chosen at random that bear no connection to anything in either of their lives.

Despite the wind guard on the speeder, Sabé's hood falls back and she's left to squint as her hair, tightly braided in place along her head, still manages to become frizzed—little hairs break loose to dance around. Luke begins to make little moans that Sabé recognizes by now within a second: he's hungry. Obi-Wan recognizes the sound too. Even as he shifts and pulls out the premixed formula from his pouch—his errand this morning—Sabé digs around in hers and trades him the infant's bottle for half of the rishi melons. He takes them with a weary little smile and offers to feed Luke so Sabé can eat first. She declines, then watches as Obi-Wan eats three of the melons and hands her one back, claiming he's not hungry anymore. He wants her to have it. Sabé is reluctant and doesn't believe him, but takes the fruit back, mindful of their audience, Max Orbo.

Obi-Wan has lost weight since Mustafar. She hasn't mentioned it to him, but she hasn't mentioned much at all to him. They haven't been talking, not past what's necessary.

He's having nightmares every night. He wakes up sweating and gasping, sometimes in tears. Other times in what seems like despairing anger. Obi-Wan hasn't said what the nightmares are about, or even used that word. But Sabé knows.

She's struggling too. There's no real sleep in her life anymore. She and Obi-Wan take their cues from Luke, and the newborn only sleeps a couple hours at a time, even during the night. It's left both adults short on patience and rest, and between a baby rousing out of sleep crying for formula and Obi-Wan's bad dreams, Sabé has come to dread night time. But she dreads the day hours too: long, miserable, hot beyond belief. Her body aches. She worries about her pregnancy. That's why she willingly eats the extra melon that Obi-Wan handed her. For the baby.

As the speeder ride continues, Sabé retreats into her thoughts. She's found herself in a very tragic place, and she doesn't want to think about it, but she can't avoid it either: she's physically right beside Obi-Wan, but in every other way, she's not sure where he is. They share the same bed, but not like before. They've only touched each other in passing—handing Luke to each other, for example. It hurts. It makes Sabé wonder if the Empire took the man she loved from her despite the fact that they escaped physically. For how close they were before, how connected… he almost feels like a stranger to her again. It's difficult to understand. He's not unkind, he doesn't ignore her—he dutifully shows up every day to face his share of the responsibilities—but emotionally he's just… gone.

How is that supposed to make Sabé feel? They have a child on the way, for stars' sake…

Am I going to be alone in this?

It's thoughts like these that compel Sabé into dark, despairing spirals. Without being totally aware of her own actions, Sabé's hand skims to faintly touch her stomach, just under Luke's leg. Life. Growing. Both inside her body, and right here resting against her torso, too. She's terrified to lose either one of them. These beacons of light in the darkest of storms. Luke is gurgling, finishing his bottle gladly, peering up at her with curiosity and good eye contact. Sabé smiles at him with every bit of quiet heartbreak she feels as her thoughts temporarily shift. This baby boy is a small ray of sunshine in a very dark, low valley. For herself, she isn't sure she can go on right now. But for him, and for the baby girl Master Yoda said they would have… she'll stay.

She bows her head down over the infant's head, where she inhales and then plants a light, lingering kiss. As always, she cannot feel affection for Luke without being pulled into sadness about Padmé. When she looks at Luke again, he coos happily, smiling at her. Sabé's heart melts and eyes crinkle and she puts a digit into his grabbing fingers for him to hold. Fierce love and loyalty, a deeply abiding commitment to protect him forever burgeons in her chest. Falling in love with this tiny human has been the only part of all this that's felt anywhere close to right.

Abruptly aware of the feeling of eyes on her, Sabé glances over at Obi-Wan. He's watching her with Luke, expression unreadable. For a moment, brown eyes hold blue. Then Obi-Wan looks away, distinctly guilty. Sabé doesn't know what to say. What can she say? Instead, she waits. To see another home that will probably disappoint them both and raise their frustration level even more. The homes for sale on Tatooine all seem to have one running theme: they're all in extreme disrepair. Most aren't even livable.

The search for someplace to call home is beginning to really wear them both down. Sabé hopes today will be the day things change. Her spirit begs for it.

She's not sure how much more of this holding pattern either of them can take.

That Night

The travel lodge. It's a wretched place, predictably. The rooms are all old and absolutely no modern touches exist in the run down facilities. None of the air circulation units work. The inner walls are thin, resulting in constant noise from other lodgers. The lodge itself seems to be a magnet for seedy dealings, and it doesn't feel safe to exit the lodge after sundown alone. The water pressure is low, the bed is hard, there are rats. The fresher is pathetic, but at least the shower still works.

Sabé shuts the water off and steps out of the minuscule shower stall, exhausted from the simple act of washing her hair and body. As she towels off and then slips into a sleeping robe she brought from Naboo, more pain cuts at her heart. The fabric, buttery and soft, embroidered with graceful pale stitchwork on deep blue, is so beautiful. A reminder of home. Of what's lost. This robe and everything that it came from… this type of beauty cannot be found here on Tatooine. Only barrenness.

The house Max showed them today was more or less a godsdamned tent. Obi-Wan made a comment that perhaps Max was stringing them along on purpose. At this point, who knows. Coming here was a mistake, that's the thought Sabé finds herself returning to over and over again.

After Sabé has finished in the fresher, she trudges out into the tiny attached room. The floor, walls, and ceiling are all a ruddy red exposed stone, roughly hewn and cracked in places. A small bed, table, and hanging rack furnish the space. Other than that, it's plain and empty. Luke is asleep beside the bed on the floor, in a makeshift cot Obi-Wan made out of an extra blanket and bits of clothing. The room is lit by a few burning candles, and Obi-Wan stands by the window, peering out of the shutters. He's already showered and is wearing tunic and pants that don't look right on him.

He hears her enter and turns slightly. Their faces and eyes are the same cast of tired, worn, and stressed. A silence spans between them that doesn't feel comfortable. It feels tense. Unsure. Obi-Wan finally breaks it by attempting a positive statement. But he sounds so tired and unconvinced. "Maybe tomorrow we'll have better fortune, hm?"

She could walk to him in about five steps. But he seems five million lightyears away. Replying takes great emotional effort—Sabé resists the urge to be negative. "One can only hope," she says, her composure wavering. There's a flash of memory of their time on this planet before. A smile, marred by the despondence she feels, stretches weakly across her lips. "This isn't the first time we've had to problem solve together on Tatooine, is it?"

Obi-Wan's eyes hold nostalgia and pain. His reply is slow, taking several heavy seconds to come at all. "How different things were then."

Yes. How different things were then. Before the dark times. Before the Empire. Sabé works hard against her ragged, disintegrating emotional state, her eyes threatening to fill with tears. She has so many words, yet none at all. Another gutwrenching silence extends between them that feels heavy as a stone. Sabé exhales shakily. Her broken heart is in her throat. "…Obi-Wan." It's just his name, but it's a plea, and her tone begs him. Come back to me. Where are you? Please, I need you. Neither of us should be alone right now.

Guilt and heaviness rest over him. His eye contact falters. "I know," he murmurs, eyes looking far away and into nothing. "I've been… distant." By all appearances, he looks faintly ill. Lost. It takes him a very long time to come up with a four word justification. "Nothing feels right anymore," he manages after a moment, his voice on the verge of breaking.

Nothing. Not even us. Sabé is sinking even lower. Her chest hurts. Her throat hurts. Her eyes hurt. But she nods. Resigned. Defeated. Her voice is so weak it's barely audible. "I know." The distance between them feels more and more profound. Sabé doesn't know how to reach him across it. His eyes meet hers again, and they're apologetic—wounded. So much is unsaid. It remains unsaid, too, when Sabé makes no further reply. Too tired in every possible way, she gives up. Instead of anger, she feels grief. With low energy, Sabé checks on Luke and then gets into the hard bed, putting a hand down to the cot on the floor where she can feel the rise and fall of the baby's stomach as he sleeps. Verification that he's alive and breathing.

She's so exhausted that she feels dizzy at this point. Silent tears spill out onto her face. She doesn't bother to wipe them away. The question of if she will ever feel close to normal again looms. As of now, she doubts it.

She hears Obi-Wan hesitate for a long moment, then pad around the room and blow the candles out. The bed moves and creaks under his weight as he comes to lay down on the other side of the bed. For a moment, Sabé thinks he's about to say something. But the wounding silence continues.

In the dark, turned away from him, she can't see the way he looks at the back of her head with a pained, devastatingly unsure expression. His hand twitches as he visibly thinks about reaching out to touch her. But then he doesn't. Instead he sets his jaw, breathes out heavily, and resists falling asleep, because in dreams, a hellscape awaits. Inevitably, fatigue will win out, and he will not win his battle.

Sabé and Obi-Wan fall asleep like that. Close, but not close. Together, but not together.

In about two hours, Luke will be waking up, needing another feeding and changing. It all adds to the disorienting feeling of days and nights having little structure or rhythm.

Nothing is the same anymore. Nothing.