Harry Potter / Star Wars-over. While leading the final charge against a retreating Dark Lord, Harry is thrown through a destabilized Demon Portal, landing on a strange world in a galaxy far far away.
I don't own Harry Potter in any way. JKR has those rights... Also, Star Wars is owned by Lucasfilm/George Lucas, etc etc.
*Author's Note *
Inspirations: Sword and Magic by bluminous8
Chapter First Published: 2016-01-23
Chapter Last Update:
Chapter 10 – A Place to Hide
Harry had only barely registered that he had woken up before he suddenly found himself dragged out of bed. He looked up from his new place on the floor to find the culprit responsible, only to halt the words that were about to come out of his mouth when he saw the backside of a completely nude Aayla as she walked out of the room.
Almost as if it were an afterthought, Aayla yelled over her shoulder, "Hurry up and get dressed, Harry. We're all going out for our morning workout."
His mind had barely caught up to fact he had just seen Aayla's perfectly formed backside and a brief profile view of her very ample blue cleavage before she had sauntered fully out of the room to take a quick shower.
'What was that?' thought Harry in complete confusion.
Normally, Aayla had respected the fact that, while their strange friendship had evolved to have both of them nude in the same bed while they slept, the two had never actually seen each other in that state in anything but utter darkness. In fact, their normal routine for getting in and out of bed had the person already in bed facing away while the other slipped in. Neither of them had ever hinted at anything further desired, and while Harry felt sooner or later he would give in to the desires he had towards Aayla, for the time being, a relationship would likely needlessly complicate things in an already stressful time.
Harry's brain still pondered the possible reasons for the break in their unspoken rules he had just witnessed. The visage of her toned, yet voluptuous, body was still on his mind when he walked out of the bedroom after his own shower to find Aayla already halfway out the door of their shared quarters.
"Figured you wouldn't want to miss the morning workout," she said with a cheeky smile.
"A bit more warning would be nice," he said as he followed her out the door, which shut with an electrical lock, which made Harry hope Aayla knew how to get back inside as he didn't want to have to apparate back inside if that became their only solution..
"I didn't have much warning myself. Just a sense from Master Ti that she would be heading out, and I figured you would want to join us."
"And why would you think I would want to join you working out?" he asked, more to tease than to imply that he actually didn't wish to work out with them.
An evil smirk was his only response as Aayla looked over his shoulder to see Shaak Ti and Maris approach from their rooms.
"So the evil ones dragged you out of bed too, huh?" Maris asked Harry in a very sleepy voice.
"Yep, future Dark Lords, err... Ladies here. I don't even know what time it is actually," he responded in a slightly put off manner.
"You can worry about the time when we've finished," uttered Shaak Ti in a no-nonsense voice.
What followed over the next three hours was more straightforward than any workout he had done on Felucia under Aayla and later Shaak Ti's direction, but somehow after this session Harry felt more tired than he had ever been in his life.
They had done a simple running circuit, but it was interspersed with vaulting over smaller ships and freighters in long-term storage at the adjacent starport, along with repelling down cliff faces with equipment that Shaak Ti had provided near the city using only to use the Force to control their downward velocity. Their landings seemed harder than normal, and Harry found the need to power his cushioning charms more than normal to not feel like his bones and teeth were rattled violently upon impact.
When he asked about this, the response he received was something he honestly would have never figured out on his own.
"The gravity on this world is a bit higher than most that support life. It's not enough to notice if you're standing around or just walking for short periods, but if you're working out and jumping large distances, it becomes very apparent, quite quickly. It'll take a few weeks to adjust," said Aayla.
"And it's good that you noticed, many do not when they arrive on a new planet and hurt themselves before realizing how to deal with the change," said Shaak Ti.
Their walk back to the Royal Palace was slow as they talked idly about Alderaan and its various political beliefs.
"We'll likely have some meetings this morning to attend," idly mused Aayla as they walked.
"Why would we be involved in any meetings here?" asked Harry.
"Shaak Ti is now famous. You did see the Holonews reports about her, right? I know I caught you looking my name up" retorted Aayla in a teasing manner. "People tend to like Jedi to be around when administration and policy negotiations take place, and Yoda and Shaak Ti represent some of the best at that in the entire Order."
Harry fought hard to contain the blush he felt when she teased him about looking her name up on the Galactic Holonet. He actually had learned a bit more about Aayla while he searched topics randomly on Galactic news archives while on the way to Alderaan. There were numerous articles about her, half of them dealt with her amazing accomplishments during the three years of the Clone Wars. However, the other half seemed to originate from the equivalent of gossip rags. Those articles usually salivated over her sexy body and contained numerous subtle innuendos and falsehoods about her non-Jedi exploits and conquests.
Well aware of Aayla's high morals, Harry knew she would never do even one of the degrading acts the articles mentioned she had done. But it all did make Harry feel slightly special that he was the one who slept every night alongside with the beautiful Rutian, despite whatever conflicts it may be to her Jedi ideals.
In the end, Aayla was correct about the meetings. The moment they had all showered and met in the observation lounge, a droid walked in and requested their presence in a conference room. Upon their arrival, they were thankful to see a late breakfast had been set up along a side wall in a buffet. As Harry walked over, he again realized he was a long way from home when he didn't recognize a single dish that was prepared.
"Can you tell me what all this is?" he whispered to Aayla, who was in front of him in the line of dignitaries and officials who were there to collect their breakfast as well.
The blue Twi'lek had a grin on her face that instantly unnerved Harry, "Are you sure you want to trust me with your food choices, Harry?"
Harry thought that he probably should be afraid of some practical joke targeted towards him, but in the end, he was well beyond the point where he would trust Aayla with his very life. Faith in her to pick somewhat edible food was something he could extend to her as well.
Eventually he settled for putting on a brave face as he stated, "Yes, why wouldn't I?"
In the end, Aayla's personal choices turned out to be quite good, and he chose the same foods for his second helping when he went back up. She had remembered a request he had made while on the ship, and most of the foods were high in proteins and carbs, as the amount of food he ate had dramatically increased since he had first met the ridiculously fit woman. He figured that was due to the amount of physical and magical-based exercise he now participated in daily.
Eventually the temporary dining table and food was cleared away, and everyone present turned their attention to Senator Organa. Harry's three Jedi friends, plus Master Yoda were granted, seats at the table itself. Harry slunk into the shadows along the wall, where he placed a subtle notice-me-not charm that would more than likely make every official here ignore him.
It was revealed they had been requested to attend a semi-regular planetary administration meeting. Senator Organa was present and in charge because he represented his wife the Queen, as well as through his own office of Viceroy. The first twenty minutes were completely forgettable to Harry. They dealt with miscellaneous internal issues specifically related to Alderaan such as droughts and other localized issues.
Harry personally doubted any meetings like this had occurred on Earth in years. Demon eradication and cleaning up their aftereffects had so thoroughly dominated all levels of every one of Earth's remaining governments that there was little room for anything else.
Eventually the topic turned to the conclusion of the Clone War. The discussion centered around legislation to end the declaration of war against specific members of the Trade Federation and Separatists. Harry felt like he was enduring torture beyond belief, but definitely understood the reason behind it.
It was quite simple after all. Before Alderaan could deal with the newest war, the leftover aspects of the last war had to dealt with. Even planet-wide governments had to deal with its own red tape. He watched disinterestedly as mid-level bureaucrats were tasked with drafting the various bills to be presented to the Queen for ratification later.
In the end, the meeting had probably only lasted a few hours. But they was hours that Harry felt like he would never get back. The only part that he had lifted his head was when the discussion of the Jedi came up.
It wasn't a long discussion. One quickly tabled for a later meeting after dignitaries and representatives from other planets would have a chance to be present. Right now, the initial dust wasn't even settled from the Clone War, and things were far too chaotic as systems still struggled to react to the galaxy's new political landscape.
One thing that was decided in the small group was that Senator Organa and the Queen would offer shelter to the "Felucian Four" in one of their homes. The fate of the Jedi Order as a whole and the rest of the Jedi who were slowly trickling into the system was left undetermined until later.
Bail Organa turned to Master Yoda, "For now I believe it would be very wise to focus upon the future of the Order while we await the arrival of hopefully more refugee Jedi. Plans and plots are numerous and all are currently in motion. The sides in the upcoming conflict are currently solidifying positions, negotiating alliances with neighbors, and ramping up their planetary war effort if it already wasn't in effect due to the Clone Wars. You have time, perhaps a few weeks to a bit over month, to devote to evaluating the Order before all of our attention must refocus on the coming conflict."
"Gratitude of the Jedi you have, Senator Organa, for even this brief respite," said Yoda, and the Jedi surrounding him nodded their agreement. "The Jedi will need to recover, and unknown the status is of so many of our missing. Injured many could be. Patience again must be instilled into our ranks after so many years war seen they have."
Yoda's voice turned more grave "Much consideration must the path of the Order be given now. Change we must, or face our end we will."
That seemed to satisfy all the local politicians in the room and it was agreed that any major decisions would be forestalled until it could be talked about in a larger group with more of their allies present and able to have a voice in the proceedings. The Queen stood which seemed to be the official signal that the meeting had come to an end because people had quickly dispersed.
"Now, let's do what I always do after boring myself to death in meetings and trying to stave off death from boredom. Let's get some more food," Harry said with a deliberate wink at Aayla.
He had been surprisingly able to feel her emotions as the brief discussion about Jedi continued. She obviously was worried about the fates of many of the people she had known for most of her life. She was also concerned with the status of the Jedi Order as a whole.
Yoda only spoke obliquely, but it was clear he was reconsidering some of the facets of the Order, though what that might be Harry had no clue. His overall knowledge of the Order was constantly shown to be lacking, so he often gave up assuming he knew a majority of their normal operational procedures. He merely hoped that whatever change it ultimately was would strip the Order of the arrogance it seemed to have developed. Though Harry wasn't certain of how likely that would be, since Yoda had lead the group for hundreds of years and only now was thinking of implementing changes when they'd been nearly upon the cusp of annihilation.
However, the aged being seemed genuine in his thoughts and repentant for his actions, but Harry was worried it was ultimately still a case of the blind leading the blind.
Aayla's mood shifted abruptly, and Harry was happy to know that the distraction of food succeeded in its purpose, and the involuntary laughter that escaped her lips told him that he had lifted her spirits, if only slightly.
Lunch introduced a completely new variety of food. Unfortunately, for Harry, he could not determine no more than half the food presented whether it was meat or vegetable. The names Aayla would say meant nothing to him, so he finally, after he plead and pouted, managed to get her to say simple things like "spicy avian leg" or "crunchy vegetable with a tangy sauce." The variety of food seemed to defy all logic in Harry's mind, since he was used to buffets in the past that consisted of some theme such as Italian or Chinese.
Aayla arched an eye at the observation and merely asked, "Why would you only want one kind of food to eat at a meal?"
His eventual choices for lunch seemed extremely tame when compared with what Aayla had chosen. She "Ooh'd:" and "Aah'd" over every other dish, saying this particular food was an delicacy, or that the price of that specific food over there had risen in recent years because of wars and was harder to import. That seemed to be the first criteria behind what Aayla chose to eat. The second seemed to involve the most unnatural colors an Earth-born sentient like him had ever seen. He briefly saw blue liquids oozing out of red meat and green slimy looking tentacles that still moved despite Aayla's oath that they indeed had been cooked for at least an hour before they were served.
When compared to Aayla's plate, Harry's servings of white colored meat with a light sauce on the side seemed decidedly tame, and she definitely let him know.
"You're not scared of the food, are you?" she asked with a smile while she wriggled her eyebrows at him.
"Theoretically, no," said Harry as he tried his hardest not to look too closely at Aayla's tray as they both sat down in a corner of the cafeteria-like room. "I actually had a few real worries since I've come here, that I would get sick or have an allergic reaction from eating or drinking something you're all used to eating that I'm not. But so far, I've been fine."
"Oh, you haven't had any reactions because of me," she said absently." While you were doing your language thing on the second night, I remembered that you didn't have any vaccinations or the normal boosters that all galactic citizens get. I found some in the medical supplies we stole and gave you one, and that ends up covering for quite a bit of the stuff you'd run into while eating normal everyday food like this."
Harry winced as she described the tentacle monstrosity on her plate as 'everyday food', but nodded his understanding. He took a drink of the blue milk Aayla had recommended to distract himself from the thoughts that had decided to run rampant through his head at that point. Aayla just admitted she had injected him with something while he was unconscious. He would've been completely at her mercy while he dealt with learning those languages, and she had only taken advantage of it in order to help him.
Once he had reconciled that, he quietly said, "Thanks."
He felt it was better left unasked where on his body such an injection had occurred. The mental image of her giving a small cackle as she jammed a needle in his arse was unavoidable.
"Just looking out for you," she said as she bit into the red piece of meat, and blue goo seeped out of it and dribbled upon her chin.
Harry's shudder at the sight caused her to burst into laughter, and she held out a piece of the meat, and laughed even harder as his eyes widened and went cross-eyed as they followed its path towards his mouth.
She could not help it.
Every time she looked at Harry, she laughed. He had literally fallen out of his seat to avoid the Grazer meat she had attempted to feed him by hand.
"Laugh it up," Harry said, eyeing her evilly. "You will rue this day… rue!"
She found this about the least intimidating thing she had ever seen, though she was quite aware Harry wasn't trying to be. The mental comparison of Harry's current face to her memories and nightmares of being chased down by General Grievous or Asajj Ventress made her snicker at the lunacy of the idea.
"Come on you frightened nerf. Let's go find Master Ti and Maris and see what's going on."
They wandered back up to the Palace's observation deck on the roof and were rewarded with the sight of Shaak Ti and Maris. They lounged in two comfortable looking chairs with two coffee-like drinks upon the table between them
"And the Hutts emerge from their grazing," said Maris theatrically. "We were on the other side of the hall watching you two. How many helpings of food did you each go back for? I saw three plates, each."
"Aayla kept picking food off of my plate, so I had to go back for more," said Harry in a mock-hurt voice before she could respond. "So she actually had about five plates worth."
She wanted to be angry at the comment, but even she couldn't resist the lop-sided half-grin he turned around and gave her after the retort.
"Any news on our new digs?" asked Aayla in an effort to change the subject.
"No," said a suddenly serious Shaak Ti. "Master Yoda was speaking to the Queen and Senator Organa about our location as well as dealing with several Jedi who have requested to attempt to track or assist former masters or padawans that may be stranded or endangered."
"Well, hopefully they don't run into any trouble," said Aayla with a bit of concern. "There's too many groups out there which must be having a field day knowing the Emperor declared open season on the Jedi."
"I'll be a lot happier when we're not out in the open. I wonder where Senator Organa will place us. I certainly hope its outdoors, it'll be nice to meditate outside when it's not so hot that your clothes are soaked with your own sweat after twenty minutes," said Maris.
"Wherever we do end up staying, I'm placing my wards over it," said Harry to no one in particular. "Full Fidelius where the only person not amongst us keyed into it will be Senator Organa and his wife and some people he has chosen."
"You can probably place some around here as well. At the bare minimum some of the fire suppression and structural stability wards would make them quite appreciative," said Aayla.
"I wouldn't do it for them simply because they would be indebted over it. I would, however, erect wards for Senator Organa and the Queen because they're good people and I think will be good friends," said Harry quietly.
This statement brought forth smiles from all three Jedi. Aayla placed her hand over Harry's that was situated between them on their shared seat and said, "Good answer."
The discussion that followed slowly morphed into an introduction to wards and a demonstration of a few runic arrays. A datapad had been commandeered and Harry had eagerly began to trace basic arrays through the touch interface. The lesson stopped with the arrival of Grand Master Yoda, Senator Organa, and Queen Breha.
"Came we have to tell you, many of the Jedi will be venturing covertly for the near future. Attempt to gather the members of the Order still out there cut off." Yoda stated grimly.
Aayla glanced at Shaak Ti a moment before speaking, "We volunteer as well Master Yoda."
Yoda shook his head negatively, "Chosen already those who will venture. Search for Jedi they have personal connections to they will. Endanger Jedi who have successfully hidden we will if publicize the search we do."
"Not to mention endanger the rescuers themselves." Harry interjected, a dark look crossing his face. Harry felt as much as saw the disgruntled reactions on his companions faces so he continued.
"You don't want to end up losing more people than you rescue. And if the enemy finds your rescue attempts, they can set traps with the ones you hope to rescue as bait." Harry spoke from experience. He may not know interstellar technicalities but he understood strategy, and search and rescue missions in dangerous areas.
The Queen suddenly spoke up. Aayla could tell she was aware of how easy it was for him to become mired in his inability to return home, so she immediately changed the subject. "We also came by to inform you we have chosen the isolated homes and shelters which the few Jedi who remain here can take sanctuary for the next few weeks while you regroup."
"Assume the four of you wish to stay together, we will?" Master Yoda asked the assembled group. Aayla nodded and watched Shaak Ti, Maris, and Harry all exchange glances amongst themselves and give subtle nods as well.
Shaak Ti spoke for the group, "I believe we definitely prefer to remain together. Harry has been sharing the Force training and exercises of his world, and all three of us wish to continue learning from him. We were getting an introduction to Force based protections for various kinds of structures when you all arrived."
Yoda nodded, and lowered his head before speaking. "Stay on Alderaan, I cannot. A beacon for Darth Sidious and any acolytes or hunters he has, I will be. Endanger you all this will. A few errant Jedi focus upon he will not. Myself among the ones he will focus on. Travel to a remote world I will until called upon to return."
"Master Yoda has been declared public enemy number one, by the Empire and has a large bounty to the tune of 50,000,000 credits on his head " The Queen spoke up looking grim. "Already bounty hunters and imperial forces scour the galaxy for him."
Aayla looked towards Harry the same time he glanced at her. She knew Harry didn't like Yoda, but she hoped he would realize the aging Jedi Grand Master still would serve a far greater purpose here than in hiding somewhere else. Harry looked into her eyes for a long moment, and seemed to understand. He gave a subtle nod and then turned back to the Queen and spoke up without any hesitation.
"I may have a solution for that. Temporary and long-term."
The group watched as Harry stood and apparated away. Aayla was curious why he did so, since she was well aware that Harry had his trunk on his arm. She assumed he didn't want others to know of its existence since the trunks and the holster they were in were normally invisible to anyone but Harry and her. Harry had keyed her into the holsters invisibility spells after the first day back on Felucia in case something happened to him, and she had a sneaking suspicion Shaak Ti and Maris were as well. But he apparently wanted to keep it secret from everyone else or whoever may possibly bs observing their current meeting.
Harry returned with one of the necklaces she had worn the first few days on Felucia in hand. "On my world, the demons hunted people by sensing their magic. Everyone was required to learn how to suppress their aura or the demons would eventually find them and the communities they hid in. Children used these necklaces until they learned hide themselves. Their manufacture was rather difficult, so that's why everyone eventually learned to not use them. It should hide your presence from Palpatine if he is somehow scrying for you."
The diminutive Jedi Master took the necklace in hand, adjusted the string around it to fit him, and carefully placed it over it his head. The effect was immediate. The bright shining beacon of Force energies that Yoda normally projected instantly vanished.
"That should make you invisible to all eyes searching for you through the Force until you learn to do the same thing on your own," said Harry.
Yoda nodded, "My thanks you have. Teaching this to the others you are?"
"Yes, Aayla's the farthest, but Shaak Ti seems to be a complete natural at it and is quickly catching up. Maris is a bit further behind, but she's also been focusing on a wider set of things I can teach than just the meditation based stuff." Harry shrugged lithely.
Aayla thought briefly about what she had learned in comparison to the other two female Jedi she had come so close to over the past few days. Shaak Ti was excited about the meditation improvements Harry provided, although the improved mental defenses and memory recall was a nice added bonus. Maris wanted to learn everything, and was constantly able to sidetrack Harry with questions that often segued into theory discussions that made all three Jedi feel like they were back in the Temple as Younglings.
Aayla herself had her own reasons for focusing upon the mental discipline. After losing her entire life's memories once already, the possibility to recover more, plus having greater memory recall was a very enticing goal. She had found most of what she had been missing, but she wanted to be sure there was nothing more hidden from her.
Yoda's eyes seemed to focus on Harry for a long moment before he spoke up. "This you do even now."
Harry nodded, "Magicals on my planet learned this skill or they died. Night or day, we learned to always hide ourselves from the demons."
"This you also do when you're asleep?" Yoda seemed even more intrigued.
Harry nodded, "It's much like breathing for me."
Yoda nodded slowly, and ever so briefly a smile broke upon his face before he nodded resuming his mostly stoic expression. "Discuss this more with you I must. More balance to Jedi teachings provide this will."
"I take it you would like to join these four then, Master Yoda?" asked Senator Organa.
"Yes, but travel will I to other Jedi as well. As return from their rescue missions, they do many will seek assurance. Give them this in person, and many discussions I must have with others. Do this while await the new coming storm I will."
"My personal guards are already moving to prepare a few short term shelters for those few without any connections or those few injured. Master Yoda knows their locations already," added the Senator.
He moved closer to his wife, and wrapped an arm around her waist, which she reciprocated with a smile. "Her Highness and I have cleared our schedule for the remainder of today. We would like to accompany you all to the location we chose for your group. It's an old summer retreat that hasn't been used by the House of Organa in about four hundred years. It will likely be in extreme disrepair, as it was damaged by a weather system some time ago and never restored, but it is isolated in the middle of a protected nature reserve on the far side of the Castle Lands "
Aayla felt Harry shift next to her. He was looking at the Senator with some mirth in his eyes. In fact, they were twinkling madly at him, the pronounced emeralds standing out far more than normal.
"Hoping for some magical repairs, Senator?" he said with a friendly half smile.
"Why, the thought never occurred to me," said Senator Organa with a straight face, though the effect was ruined by the Queen's quirked eyebrow at her husband.
Aayla felt Harry stifle his laughter. She watched him as he observed the Queen and the Senator, and recalled his statements the previous night as she lay in bed with Harry. He had wished there were more politicians like Organa on his home world; then maybe things would have turned out differently there. Aayla had to crush his dream when she revealed to him that Bail Organa was an anomaly. He had quickly risen in the ranks of the Senate to become a legend from a planet that was even more legendary.
Harry's response cut off her thoughts. "Well, I think I can pay our collective rent with some repairs and additions to the estate. There's some unique things we can quickly add I think you'll definitely like."
The trip to past the Castle Lands was an awe-inspiring trip for Harry. First, there was their method of travel. The luxury air speeder and ten escort and support craft that accompanied it were beyond Harry's expectations. He personally witnessed the absolute loyalty the pilots gave to their sovereign leaders and attained a deep respect for the men and women who served the rulers of Alderaan.
The way these troops would likely follow their Queen and Viceroy anywhere reminded Harry very heavily of his own troops back on Earth. Bail didn't seem to pay mere lip service to the way he mingled amongst his personal guards. He would constantly ask about family and children of random soldiers, just like Harry would do with his own. More and more the Organa's looked like people he could easily see himself in the service of or allies somewhere in the future.
As for the trip itself, Harry slowly watched as the Palace and capital city faded into the distance on a monitor and they quickly traversed the very mountainous terrain of Alderaan. Eventually they came to the Castle Lands, ancient petrified burial mounds created by the original indigenous civilization of Alderaan. The Senator explained to Harry how no one knew what happened to them, they simply vanished.
Beyond the ruins, they passed another mountain range and veered their course towards a hidden forest amongst the roots of the snow-capped titans. The forest was an island amidst the mountains, surrounded on all sides by tall peaks. A ship could fly overhead and easily miss the area if one wasn't informed that it was there ahead of time. As the ship closed upon their destination, Harry could clearly see the boundaries of the old estate, but the declaration that the area had fallen into disuse was clearly understated.
There was a faint bit of magic in the air. Only a single ley line, that was a fair distance away. Enough for the protections that Harry had planned, but not much else. Any wards he placed would have enough ambient magic to be self-sustaining, but there would never be enough magic to feed multiple sets of ward stones. Whatever single stone he laid down, would be the only one in the area.
Half the ships landed including the Queen's, while the other half continued circling them from above on patrol while the Queen was on the ground. The main house was very similar in design to the Royal Palace, just on a scale that was far smaller. Various guest houses surrounded it along with servants quarters, all of which were equal in size to upper scale mansions that Harry had seen back on Earth.
Harry could not imagine any desire from the Jedi to stay in such posh housing, but he could definitely see them relaxing through efforts to reclaim a portion of the overgrown gardens of the area. Harry did not see many materials his standard household cleaning charms would fail to reclaim. None of the structures were magical, and none could likely fight the desire and intent to repair back to their original state like Harry's godfather's family manor had done back when they restored it from two decades worth of neglect.
Harry's ponderings about where they would all sleep were answered when one of the support ships unloaded five plasteel temporary shelters. Each was assembled in a manner of minutes, and a quick look inside the nearest one revealed a simple twin sized bed, a fresher in the corner, and a sonic vibe shower. Not much for privacy, but then again they probably assumed each would contain only one occupant.
Harry, of course, had no intention of using the space, and planned to set the tent up inside of his. He had no doubt Aayla thought the same.
A quick landspeeder-based tour of the estate followed, which was as much for the Jedi and Harry's benefit as it was for the Organa's, since it was their first time ever visiting this specific property. The borders of the grounds were shown in detail, so they would know where the limited remote surveillance of the properly ended.
It was nearly nightfall the group they returned back to their base camp in the overgrown courtyard of the main building. The Royal family bid the Jedi adieu and the convoy departed. They left one support craft there in case it was needed for emergency transportation or Yoda wanted to contact another Jedi on the planet in person.
The tired group went to the area in between all of their temporary shelters, where it was suggested by Shaak Ti they make a fire. A few quick transfigurations provided big squashy chairs for all five of them, and an overlarge blue-ball flame surrounded by various stones they found around the courtyard became their make-shift campfire.
Nothing of consequence was said that night between the group. Harry couldn't tell if it was because of how mentally or physically tired they were, or if the presence of Master Yoda had put that much of a damper upon conversation. Eventually Yoda either felt the lateness of the hour or how his presence had affected the group, and begged off to retire to his personal structure to ponder the day's events.
Aayla took the immediate opportunity to stand up from her chair and order Harry to expand the size of his. He laughed at her demands, even as she pouted with her hands on her hips in a decidedly Hermione-like fashion that reminded him of his friend whenever she didn't get her way.
Harry never could resist Aayla for longer than a few seconds, and he was too tired to even ponder an attempt now. The chair expanded with a casual wave of Harry's wand, and Aayla immediately sat and lay down with her head in his lap.
"Aww, and I was about to ask to sit in Harry's lap," said Maris, no attempt whatsoever to hide the teasing in her voice that was directed at Aayla.
"Aren't you a little young to sit in a man's lap?" responded Harry, who had decided to not let the young padawan's comments go unanswered.
Maris goggled at the comment, definitely not used to having someone answer back to one of her flirtations. He could hear Aayla's soft giggles from his lap as she turned her head to mute the sound with his stomach.
Shaak Ti however rose to the challenge. "I'm not sure Maris is old enough to sit in a male's lap, but I'm fairly sure I am. Please expand the couch in the other direction, Harry."
Harry often found it difficult to read Shaak Ti, with her very non-human features and painted face. But there was no way he could mistake the mischief in her dark eyes as she sauntered over and gave Aayla a covert wink. Another wave of his wand expanded the couch to the right, which left Shaak Ti room to sit down and lean her head against Harry's right shoulder. He was surprised at the soft touch of the horns at the top of her head, which he had learned were called montrals.
"There's only one spot left now, Maris," said Shaak Ti as she pointed to Harry's unoccupied lap.
The Zabrak teen stuttered and stammered a few moments before standing up. "I think I'll be heading to bed now. Night," and Maris bolted for her shelter. The sound as the door slammed behind her seemed like music to their ears.
The quiet laughter from the two females surrounding him started immediately, and Harry couldn't help but laugh too. After the drama of the day, and the all the effort to get here, they could finally relax for a bit in the relative safety of Alderaan.
"You both feeling better now that we're here?" asked Harry aloud as all three stared into the blue flames of the fire.
"We're simply in the eye of a storm at the moment," said Shaak Ti ominously, her mood quickly changing. "I believe the Force will grant us a few short weeks to rest and regroup. Maybe three. Then I see the four of us joining this war."
Aayla shifted at the words. "Do you see the four of us staying together?"
A forlorn smile graced Shaak Ti's face as the light of the blue fire flickered against her red skin, casting a purple glow around her. "You know, as well as I, that the future is always in motion, Aayla. But for now, most paths keep the four of us together for much of the foreseeable future."
Aayla's eyes quirked at the statement, though Harry didn't catch it with how tired he was. Both women glanced at Harry, who noticed the tired wizard no longer followed their conversation anymore.
"Perhaps a discussion to be had another day then, no?" Shaak Ti whispered with a blossoming half-smile.
"Definitely," said Aayla as she returned the same grin. "I think it's time for wizard boy here to get some sleep. We'll see you in the morning."
"I'll help you get him into your bed," said Shaak Ti as Aayla began pulled herself up from her temporary spot in Harry's lap.
Aayla felt her hand slip from the side of the conjured couch the moment she heard the words. She looked at Shaak Ti and knew her own face had suddenly filled with likely with apprehension and a slight tinge of fear. She knew she had Master Yoda's permission, but she wasn't about to flaunt her actions either.
"Aayla, like I said before. You wear your heart on your sleeve too often. Maris and I are both aware the two of you are sleeping together," said Shaak Ti patiently.
"We haven't mated Master Ti, if that's what you're implying. I've never been intimate with him in any way," Aayla said with a bit of defiance in her words.
"And it won't be long before you are, Aayla," Shaak Ti spoke quietly while placing a hand on Aayla's shoulder. "You will not see any objections from us. Well, at least from me. I think Maris is developing a crush upon Mr. Green-Eyes, here."
"There's nothing happening yet, Shaak Ti. To be honest, I wouldn't know the first thing about how to start a relationship. Especially with someone like Harry who has no mental hang-ups about the whole thing. My attempts to begin something with Master Fisto didn't exactly prepare me for this," whispered Aayla. Towards the end her voice sounded strained even to her own ears and knew there was no way Shaak Ti had not heard it.
"Just be yourself. The two of you work quite well together. Trust the Force to let what should happen come to pass. The Force had to have placed Harry on Felucia for some reason. Just think, out of how many hundreds of thousands of habitable worlds in our galaxy, he came to the one you were on at the exact moment you needed him the most. At the moment we all needed him. Trust the Force, Aayla. It will not steer you wrong."
Aayla had no idea what to say in response to Shaak Ti's advice. Her Togrutan friend saw the indecision and lack of a clear path that obviously still showed in her eyes, and added, "Have you at least mentioned to him what Master Yoda told you?"
"What do you mean?" she knew what Shaak Ti referred to, yet found no reason to confirm it first.
"I spoke with Master Yoda earlier. He told me of his intention to lift the Taboo, and that he had already spoken about this to you." Shaak Ti paused, and placed a tentative hand on Aayla's shoulder and whispered, "You need to tell him of this. Nothing will occur if you do not make the first move. He respects us all too much to do otherwise. To even think to do otherwise."
Aayla and Shaak Ti worked in tandem and used the Force to gently float Harry into Aayla's shelter. They laid him down upon the bed inside and Shaak Ti bid Aayla good night after they made tentative plans for another training session to occur just after sunrise in the morning.
Harry woke suddenly as a feeling of dread washed over him. He took a few deep breaths and tried to center himself using some of the exercises that Aayla had taught him. It only took a quick look around the room for him to ascertain exactly where he had woken up. He was in one of the small beds inside one of the shelters, and Aayla slept on his right like normal despite the small size of the bed.
A few more deep breaths calmed his fight or flight instincts, but the uneasiness remained. The Senator had assured them the number of people who were aware of the location of the estate numbered under fifty when all the escorts pilots and security personnel were included. In theory, their group was safe at their current location. But he couldn't shake the sense that something truly was wrong and that he needed to do something about it right now.
He slipped out of bed and groped about the nightstand for his holster. He removed some sweatpants and a long-sleeve t-shirt from one of his trunks. After a few moments, he decided not to awaken Aayla for what he was about to do. The relative warmth of the climate controlled shelter was quickly replaced by the cool night of Alderaan as he ventured outside.
It was very chilly this particular night, and Harry was glad he had put on warmer clothes. He had planned to put up proper permanent wards later that afternoon, but the distant feeling of urgency he sensed told him time was of the essence and he needed to do so immediately.
He reached out with his senses, much as he did when he first arrived on Felucia. The planet's magic seemed older to Harry, almost like an older wiser being in comparison to the youth and primal nature of Felucia. This place was so unlike Earth, which seemed to have suffered terrible pains and injuries at the hands of the demons who had slowly infested their world. Instead of reaching outwards like he did on Felucia, this time he reached down. He knew that below him would be the bedrock of the mountains that surrounded the estate, and he now looked for something very specific: a large flawless piece of granite.
He quickly sensed many candidates, and was surprised how well his warders spells gave readings through the five meters of clay and dirt below him. There were numerous candidates for him to choose from, but relatively few that were close to the surface. The best one was even deeper down, under trees and dozens of meters of compacted clay and dirt. But he needed that stone, and he needed it now.
He sank inwards and readied himself mentally for what he was about to do. There was no way he had the strength to rip the specific section of rock free from ground and then still have energy afterwards to do what he needed. So he was going to repeat what he did during the last battle on Earth. He began to draw the magic of Alderaan towards him where he could harness and store it within himself. At first it was a slow trickle, as he searched about for the small ley line that he had spotted nearby earlier in the day. It took a while to find, and when he did, a tidal wave of magic flowed into him.
It was much easier to do now, than it was during the final battle of the Demon War. There, he was not the only warrior who could tap into the Earth to extend his reserves. The flow of magic then was so slow it had taken almost fifteen minutes before he had was able to summon Neptulon the Tide-Hunter from the Plane of Water that ran parallel to Earth's normal dimension.
A quick shake of his head refocused Harry's thoughts on the present. He found it too easy sometimes to fall back into memories of the life and world that was likely lost to him forever. The here and now was what was important, and there was a shadow of threat now against his companions and himself.
He now had a firm grip upon the stone in question now, and decided it was time remove it from the ground. The slow rumble that resulted from his earlier efforts doubled in size and sound, and with a sudden sound that tore through the surrounding area, a massive five-meter wide, solid, flawless specimen of granite burst from the ground and slowly floated towards Harry.
Aayla's first clue that something was wrong was the vibration of her bed. The next clue came when she realized Harry was nowhere in sight within their one room emergency shelter. She quickly stood up and got dressed, only belatedly throwing a Jedi robe over her normal outfit due to the chilly weather that often prevailed during Alderaanian nights.
She stepped outside her tent, lightsaber in hand and ready to ignite, only to see Master Yoda and Shaak Ti already present. Both silently watched Harry as he stood silently ten meters away as he directed an utterly massive amount Living Force into the ground beyond the tree line that surrounded the estate.
Aayla looked to Shaak Ti, who stared impassively at Harry as she watched every slight flicker of movement in both the Force and from Harry himself. Master Yoda stood with his eyes half-closed and his free hand extended as well. She realized he had fully immersed himself in watching Harry's actions within the Force.
Aayla turned back to Harry, and allowed her mind to slip into the state that allowed for Force perception to occur. She was shocked to see that the entire area was awash with the Force, all of it directed towards Harry in a slow pull that extended out from him as it channeled its way into the forest and into the ground. She could even see now that the faint tingling she felt was ambient energy in the air as it brushed past her on its way to Harry.
She had no idea how to characterize it. She had never seen any being come close to channelling the amount of energy Harry now wielded. At the same time, the effect seemed to be muted. She realized that Harry was also using the Force to hide his actions. If someone was trying to view from farther away than a few hundred meters they likely wouldn't sense anything.
The ground gave an even bigger lurch, and Maris finally joined them outside as well. "What's going on?"
"Felt disturbance in the Force, our young Wizard has. Felt the same have I. Decided to do something about it he has," said Master Yoda softly and cryptically.
"I didn't feel anything," said Aayla quietly. She looked to Shaak Ti who felt her gaze.
"I did not feel anything substantial that I noticed at the time in my meditations, but now I definitely know there is a disturbance in the Force upon further reflection." Shaak Ti said with an intent look at Harry who continued oblivious to their presence.
"What's he doing?" asked Maris, very wary of the large amount energy thrown around by her friend that did not for the moment seem to have bothered the adults..
"Patience, almost done he is," whispered Master Yoda. "See will you then. Watch the trees you should."
Aayla sank again within her perceptions and followed the trail of living Force erupting from Harry into the ground. It sank into the soil and roots of the planet before it stopped suddenly as it wrapped around a very large boulder that slowly moved upwards.
"Follow the trail of the living Force, Maris," said Shaak Ti. "Open yourself up, and follow it from Harry into the ground. Then you will see what he is doing."
Maris did not have time to make the attempt however, because the boulder erupted from the ground at that very moment and began to float over towards Harry. They watched as he set it down on the ground and slumped his shoulders.
With the exertions that brought the boulder from the ground done, Aayla began to move forward. She had only taken two steps though when a large flash of the Force burst forth as Harry firmly said, "Diffindo!"
The others didn't realize it, but Aayla realized it was a sign of how tired he already was that he was verbalizing the command.
One whole side of the boulder sheared off neatly and left a completely flat polished surface. A casual wave of Harry's hand rotated the boulder ninety degrees and another flash of the Force saw another piece of the boulder fall away. He repeated this four more times until he had a solid cube two meters in size that floated in the air. He set the stone down, and began to repeat the process with smaller shapes from the remains of the boulder he had sheared off.
After five minutes of quick exertions, Harry had produced five or six dozen slightly curved stones along with two circular plates of stone. He then walked over, took a deep breath, and summoned a very large hole out of the ground.
The group as a whole still had no clue what Harry was doing, only that his focus was completely upon his self-appointed task. Once more the amount of force energies used was staggering. Aayla knew the three most powerful force users she knew, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the fallen Anakin Skywalker; would be exhausted after merely lifting the rock from the ground. She remembered Harry being in awe of her simply lifting and holding her starfighter in the air. This though, was something beyond her abilities.
It was true that "size mattered not." The size of the rock itself would not have been a problem in the slightest. The dirt, soil, and trees on top of the rock however did matter. And he not only lifted it but all these other rocks and a giant hole and he was still moving.
Aayla however, started to think that she may have an idea what he was doing. She remembered the small stones in the cave and around the ship that had protected them from animals of hostile intent. She also remembered the huge effort Harry put into the custom stone slab outside their tent the first night they had together on Felucia.
'Could he be building protections for the estate?' she thought as she tried to remember as much as she could about that small stone slab she had only briefly seen. The differences in the processes she saw then and now were like night and day. She had no point of reference to know if what he was doing now required more or less total effort to accomplish.
She was distracted from her thoughts when the smaller cut stones began to assemble themselves within the hole. One of the circular two meter wide plates settled at the bottom of the hole, and the smaller curved stones began to line up around the edge, building a miniature circular structure a little over two meters in diameter.
She then felt one of the stronger pulses of the Force she had felt so far this night as Harry waved his wand at the remaining debris from the boulder and it began to transfigure together into an almost liquid-like mass that slowly floated down and around the structure. It surrounded the outer edge of the block cylinder and solidified into a one-inch thick protective coating around the tube. A final wave of his hand brought much of the summoned dirt back into the hole in the ground, where it surrounded the cylinder and left the top hole exposed to the elements.
She tried to analyze what he had done so far. Harry had told her in the past that her ability to move large dense objects with the Force far surpassed his own. On the other hand, he had quietly and deftly cut each piece of stone using only the Force to rotate them one after another. She had found that her reserves of strength were most powerful when her task did not require many complex movements and motions. Harry however had not only rotated the objects in a way that a master craftsman would be proud of, he then used the Force quite nimbly when assembled the structure in the hole.
Another glance at her companions saw they were both impressed by his actions and still entirely confused at what he was building.
"I still do not understand, Masters," said Maris aloud. "It was all very impressive. I know I could not do most of what he just did, but I'm still not sure what it all was for."
Aayla herself knew with absolute certainty Harry was making a very large ward-stone, one that would be big enough to protect the entire estate. He had mentioned previously that he intended to provide protective enchantments to the area, but the disturbance in the Force must have compelled him to do so now rather than later today after their workout.
"He's making a ward stone. It will protect the estate once he's finished engraving specific runes upon its surface and charging the stone up. I have no idea how many protections he's planning to put up, but if he does the Fidelius, he'll probably sleep for the next day or two," said Aayla.
The group watched as Harry stumbled over the ward stone. Five waves of his wand produced glowing balls of light that hovered above the stone, lighting each visible face so that it could properly be seen.
He sat down next to the massive cut cube, and began waving his wand over it, tiny writings and shapes forming in the wake of the moments. Aayla walked over and sat down behind him. She didn't speak, but merely watched. She figured if nothing else, she would have the memory of Harry's methods to learn from later via Occlumency if her skills improved to that degree.
The rest followed her over. Shaak Ti spoke up quietly, "Do you require any assistance, Harry?"
Harry finished his current wand-movement, and lowered his hand, wiping his eyes the other. "No, this won't take all that long for me to get the basic ones engraved. Can you just stand watch and make sure nothing's coming? Just in case this feeling I have is correct. I don't think we have all that much more time. I'm worried this has taken me too long"
Yoda ambled over, and gestured towards Maris. "Come, Padawan Brood. Patrol we will, while Masters Shaak Ti and Secura over our Wizard friend watch. Already notified I have Alderaanian Space Authority of our concerns."
Shaak Ti watched as Maris and Master Yoda slowly walked off into the night. When they disappeared from sight, Shaak Ti removed her lightsaber from her belt and began to scan the tree line and sky for threats. Aayla though, was more concerned for Harry's well-being now. He was definitely pushing himself hard. She could feel his exhaustion as it began to settle in. Her empathy began to pick up more and more stray thoughts as his mental protections lessened as he became more and more exhausted.
Face after face of the stone was inscribed, though he did not comment on what he engraved as he did so. He left massive open spaces upon the stone in certain sections, and Aayla got the feeling they would finished later when time was not as important a factor.
Almost fifteen minutes later, the sense of dread she knew that Master Yoda, Shaak Ti, and Harry had felt earlier, now screamed in Aayla's ear. She had no idea what was about to happen, but she was sure that it could not possibly be good.
"Done," said Harry.
He took his wand and with a final wave, a bowl like insert was created dead center of the top of the cube.
"Can you both help me lift this into the hole? I'm so tired I don't want to risk damaging it," asked Harry with a half-glazed look in his eyes.
Shaak Ti heard and immediately came over and stood by Aayla. "Place it within the center of the hole there?" asked Aayla.
"Yes, just try and set it down gently," said Harry, as he raised his hand and attempted to move the stone. "The bottom face must completely touch the bare ground under it."
It barely lifted due to Force exhaustion, and Aayla knew he was on the verge of collapsing. She and Shaak Ti she immediately called forth the Force to assist and the stone rose easily into the air. They guided it together into the hole and set it down gently. The descent was so controlled and gentle only the faintest low scrape was heard as it came to rest.
"Just a warning, I'm probably going to pass out here. I'm gonna charge it as much as I can. It should hopefully tide us over for a while until we can fully charge it later. Stay within the wards when I'm done. You'll likely be a bit disoriented while I'm knocked out, but you'll be safe here," said Harry as he pulled a vial of a familiar smokey grey liquid from his belt, and couldn't help but laugh as she saw the effects of a pepper-up potion on another being.
Before Aayla could protest and ask how they could assist him, Harry stepped forward, conjured a knife, sliced open his palm, and dripped blood into the bowl like depression at the top of the cube. He slowly healed his wound, and then fed a powerful burst of force through the blood collected on the stone.
The burst from Harry was answered immediately by an extremely powerful tingle that spread over the entire area. Master Yoda and Maris quickly came into view as they had clearly felt the wards begin to activate. Harry held the channeling for roughly twenty seconds before he slumped bonelessly and was caught by Aayla.
"He said he would charge them as much as he could, and he would finish later when he was more rested. Hopefully the protections given here will be enough till then," said Shaak Ti as she repeated what Harry said earlier to Master Yoda. There was a noticeable buzzing that seemed to push down upon her mind that was easy to ignore now that she was aware it was the protections Harry mentioned."
"I'm getting him to bed, I'll return afterwards to start a patrol," said Aayla as she walked away from the group while she carried Harry in her arms.
Before she got out of hearing range of the group, she heard Yoda say to Shaak Ti, "Contact the Senator you should. Let him know of our continued unease. Other trouble there may be."
Aayla kept walking, allowing Shaak Ti to explain more of what happened and Harry's warnings. Holding on to the unconscious man who constantly did amazing things to save them all in her arms gave Aayla a single moment of feeling useless before she buried the thought as much as she could. With a casual flick of the Force, she summoned the door to their shelter open and pulled it shut behind her. For the second time that night, Aayla set her friend down upon their bed and slowly undressed him. With his pants and pullover removed, she pulled the covers over him and gently stroked the side of his face with two fingers.
"Sleep well Harry," she whispered before she kissed his forehead and returned to the cool night air to begin her watch.
Harry awoke some time later and felt like the Knight Bus had run over him, and then backed up over him for good measure. An involuntary groan came from his lips at his first attempt at movement, which caught the attention of some silent watcher within the room.
"Oh good, you're awake," he heard a voice say.
He opened his eyes to see Maris seated beside his bed, a smile on her face and a forgotten datapad on her lap.
"You've been out for almost two days," she said bluntly.
"Two days? That's odd, I didn't think the ward stone was that big. Is everyone alright?"
"Aayla's been beside herself with worry about you. We only got her to go to bed finally a few hours ago. We've been patrolling the area in shifts, but nothing's actually made it onto the estate."
Maris took a deep breath, "There was however a scout ship that managed to enter the planet's airspace. There were no identifying markers or anything else. However, Master Yoda says he could feel them attempting to reach out within the Force. They were were trying to find active Force users. Apparently, they were being drawn in our direction for some time."
"Further proof of just how well plotted out this entire thing has been. Even with Mistakes being made and wrenches being thrown in the mix, your former Chancellor was very prepared for the hunting and tracking of Jedi," Harry's expression grew grim as he spoke.
"We believe they're focusing on the strongest Jedi first, then worrying about the lower ranks once word of the fall of the leaders hits and demoralizes the Order's remnants." Maris replied,
Harry nodded a little bit pleased that she seemed to be picking up the complexities of the situation, "You take the strongest and the leaders out and people tend to panic. Panicked people make rash decisions that tend to leave them far more vulnerable and irrational than they might otherwise be."
However, Maris smiled, "The others have said pretty much the same thing, commenting on how blind and foolish we must have been. However in this instance planetary forces however finally caught the object on their scanners and headed this way. It fled before they could get any close look, but they did manage to catch an encrypted holonet transmission that they then decoded. It said, 'No Force users of significant power detected. Proceeding to next assigned area to search for Master-level Jedi'."
Harry nodded, and let out the breath he had been held through her whole story. "Well it's clear they're hunting all of you. But it looks like I got the protections up in time."
"Now, the only problem is none of the planetary security forces can find this place. Their scanners can't see it, and neither can the people on board. Master Yoda seems a hundred years younger with all his excitement over what you did." Maris laughed a little bit.
"I'll need to get a hold of Senator Organa and the Queen so I can key them directly into the wards and let them take ownership of them. It is their property after all," said Harry slowly as he felt a headache come on and put his hand up to his forehead.
"Get some rest, Mr. Wizard. I'll let the others know you woke up. I'll have them pass on a message as well to let them know the Senator and Queen will need to stop by at some point so they can… take ownership, you said?"
"Yeah, wards are almost always linked to someone. Usually it's the predominant male head of family, but they can assigned to anyone, even someone without Magic. The control will eventually pass on to their children someday since it'll be tied to their blood."
"Nothing is ever boring around you, is it?" said Maris with a laugh after his explanation. "Sorry to disturb you, Your Majesty, we need your blood. You get to have that conversation with them, not me. At least they like you."
"It'll be fine. They'll understand it when I explain what it's for," said Harry, already feeling sleepy again.
"Go to sleep, Harry," she said, leaning back on her chair once again.
Harry waited a few moments, and said, "Maris?"
"Thanks for watching over me."
Harry could almost hear the smile in her voice, "No problem."
There was a pause and Harry felt himself start to drift off when he heard her say softly, "Aayla isn't the only one who likes you around here."
He had no idea how to respond to that. Nor did he think Maris meant for him to hear it.
The next time Harry returned to consciousness, he found Maris' chair now deserted. He looked around the room subconsciously to find a window. His mind had not caught up to the fact that there were no windows in the shelter, when he noticed Aayla asleep on a sofa in the corner of the room. The sofa looked familiar, and when he gazed around the room again, he was rewarded with the sight of his tent set up against a corner. Realization dawned on him that Aayla must have set the tent up and dragged out the sofa from inside so she could watch him from out here.
He wanted to get up, yet found himself incredibly weak and sore. Instead he called out, "Aayla?"
She was instantly awake and halfway across the room before he could barely register she had moved. Only seconds after he had called her name, she was next to the bed and had pulled him in a tight hug that made his back groan under the pressure.
"Never do that to me again, Harry," she said forcefully. He was surprised to hear how emotional her voice sounded as well. He reveled in her touch for a few moments before he pulled away slightly.
"I'm sorry, but it needed to be done," said Harry after he managed to get her to release her grip a bit. "We were in danger, and there's no way I'm going to let you get hurt."
"I can protect myself, Harry. You don't need to kill yourself to keep me safe," she replied as tinge of anger crept into her voice.
Harry pulled back further and looked into her eyes. They were the complete opposite of what her voice told him. The only emotion he could glean from the way she looked at him was absolute worry for his safety, and that look only caused his mind to become further confused as to how he should act around her. He had seen Aayla joke around, be serious, and ponder deep mysteries they had faced. He had never seen her as emotionally raw as she was right now except when she had collapsed after she relived Barriss' death on Felucia. It suddenly made him question everything he thought and had assumed about the relationship the two had slowly built.
Everything he knew about Jedi in general screamed to him that this was a bad idea. He had a great friendship going with Aayla, possibly one of the greatest he had ever found in his whole life. He knew, at best, his present thoughts would likely lead to an unrequited love from him to her and, at worst, her complete abandonment of him. But at that moment, he found it really hard to care.
He could tell she sensed his change in thoughts as well, but she did not move. They were incredibly close to each other now, their noses mere inches apart. A small smile graced her lips, but she didn't say anything. He could not help but think she might think the exact same thing as him at that moment. He looked more closely at her. The whites of her eyes were slightly red, yet the golden hue of her irises shined brightly.
She had been crying. She had been crying because of him.
He felt the time was right to finally bring voice to how his feelings had changed for her over the past few weeks. "Aayla, I-"
The door to the shelter burst open and flooded the shelter with bright sunlight. Both Aayla and Harry shielded their eyes with their hands after they jumped apart from each other.
Shaak Ti strode in, a wide smile upon her face. The darkness of the inside of the shelter apparently kept the closeness of the room's occupants hidden from her sight initially.
"I felt Harry wake in the Force. How are you feeling?" asked Shaak Ti, completely unaware of the moment she had just broken between the two in the room.
"Pretty sore to be honest, I kind of rushed that whole thing. There's a reason it's supposed to be done in stages. Are the protections still holding?" Harry asked.
"They hold, and they are perplexing some of the smartest minds on the planet at the moment. Senator Organa has the situation firmly under control, but quite a few people are now aware that an estate has apparently been protected via the Force and are just clamoring to come here and investigate it," said Shaak Ti in a half-joking way.
Harry was quiet for a while. Aayla had since moved from her original place to lay with her legs crossed upon the bed just beside Harry. He had not noticed, because he was currently still trying to split his thoughts between what had almost transpired between Aayla and him as well as think about protections for the Senator.
"I need to make another stone," he suddenly said aloud, which made Aayla stand up straight in horror, as well as Shaak Ti's mouth drop. "This one will be much easier to make because there won't be such a rush to get it done, but I still need to do it."
"You will do no such thing until you are rested and recuperated," said Aayla firmly. He suddenly envisioned Hermione before him, one hand on her hip as the other shook her finger at him.
"I'll be fine. It wasn't the first time I've magically exhausted myself," he said as he reached over and grasped one of her hands, causing her to gasp as he did so. He looked at her curiously, and he could swear Aayla blushed right in front of him.
"I also need the Senator to come here so I can key him into these wards. He does own them, it's rather impolite to keep him from his estate," said Harry quite cheekily.
"He'll be around later today. The Queen and him have kept an open block on their calendars every few hours for when you wake up so they can come here immediately. They've definitely taken a liking to our group," said Shaak Ti, suddenly businesslike in her manner.
"Well, let me know when they arrive. I'll walk to the edge of the wards with you guys to bring them in. I need to key you all in as well so you can leave. Right now if you left, you wouldn't be able to get back in."
"We were wondering about that," said Aayla. "When no one else could get here, we figured that if we left, we might not be able to get back, so we stayed close. Master Yoda has split his time meditating and clearing some of the forest creep that has intruded upon the open areas of the estate. Maris has mainly just been getting a feel of the house up there, trying to determine what's safe structurally and what will need to be replaced "
Aayla didn't continue, so Harry asked the question he thought he knew the answer to, "What about you two?"
"We've spent most of our time watching you, Mr. Wizard," said Shaak Ti. "You had us both very worried about you. You were unconscious almost two whole days."
"Sorry," Harry said sheepishly, but not before he caught the strange look Aayla gave Shaak Ti after her comment.
"Well, thank the Force you're awake. I'll go notify the Senator he can stop by when his schedule permits." the Togruta master said.
Shaak Ti was about to leave when Harry spoke up, "Shaak Ti, can you see if they can find another stone that matches the one I summoned out of the ground? It needs to be flawless and preferably granite or the equivalent, two meters by two meters square."
"I can mention it. What about the material the cylinder was enclosed in? Granite as well?" Shaak Ti asked seriously.
"Yes, but that part isn't as important." Harry waved his hand negligently.
"Will do. I'll see you both later."
Shaak Ti left the shelter and closed the door behind her. Harry closed his eyes and leaned back, resting his back against the headboard of the bed. Aayla moved over and lay beside him, shoulder to shoulder. She placed her hand back upon his and said, "Don't push yourself Harry. The Senator's security is quite good. It's not worth you getting hurt."
Harry shook his head, "He's our best ally, Aayla. If I have to be a bit uncomfortable and tired for a few days to ensure he and his family is safe, I'll do it in a heartbeat."
Before Aayla could respond, Harry had slipped down a bit and rested his head on Aayla's shoulder. Her counterarguments melted instantly, which had been Harry's hope all along. He felt safe with her. Safer than he had felt in a very long time.
"Get some rest, Harry. I won't leave you."
Aayla watched as Harry quickly drifted off to sleep, a sure sign of just how exhausted he still was. She couldn't help herself and shifted a little bit in the bed, curling into his side, allowing their bodies to meld just a tad bit closer. She reached up with her free hand and lightly stroked her fingers along his cheek and through his hair.
She let her mind wander, the past two days had been miserable. In the back of her mind, she knew Harry would be fine, but she ultimately had done nothing but worry for him. She had barely slept and it had taken a staged intervention by both Shaak Ti and Maris, both of whom seemed not to be doing too much better than herself and equally concerned for Harry. But they had forced her to give up her vigil and leave to get some rest. She had only left for two hours when he had woken up, had a brief conversation with Maris, before slipping off into unconsciousness again.
There was a quick pang of… something at the thought of Maris being the one to speak to him first and not herself, but Aayla dismissed it. She wasn't jealous per se, it was more that she had missed an opportunity to see him and reassure herself that he was all right and reaffirm that she would do anything within her power to always watch over him.
In the end, she had managed four hours of restless slumber before she had left her bed and gone back to Harry's side. She had ignored Maris protest and had opened up his tent and dragged a couch out and promptly curled up there. The rest she'd achieved then hadn't been overly helpful, but she was closer to the focus of her thoughts and she was at least able to sense him a little bit. The fact that she mentally linked the scent that lingered on the couch to Harry also helped her relax a bit more.
Aayla allowed herself a small sigh of contentment. It felt so good just to lay next to him and have the full breadth of her empathic abilities once again tell her every subtle nuance of Harry's emotions. Of course that just brought to mind the emotions she had felt a few minutes before.
When she had hugged Harry, she had been as overcome by her own relief as she had been by his. It was afterward, when Shaak Ti had come in and he had grabbed her hand, an instinctive comforting gesture. But she felt it.
Something inside Harry had changed. No, not changed, not really. More like he had accepted something, as if some barrier had been crossed. Or perhaps it was him just allowing her in deeper, Aayla wasn't certain. But she had rarely felt emotions that intense from any being. And the emotions were clearly directed at her.
Aayla wasn't stupid, when she was looking into his eyes right before Shaak Ti came in she had felt the desire to start kissing him and not stop. Being honest with herself it wasn't the first time she had experienced that emotion with him. But in this case it was the first time that it nearly overwhelmed her to the point she almost acted upon it. Aayla had thought she had felt attraction and love before, but that was a pale… pale reflection of what she felt now.
She had never needed before. Needed to be in someone's presence. Needed to know he was safe. Needed to be close and to be touching him. That didn't even over it, it wasn't just a need. It felt like there was something fundamentally wrong to her when they weren't together. Those were all new experiences for her.
And if she was reading Harry right, and based on the conversations they had had about his history, she didn't think he'd ever felt something like that either.
If he wasn't so exhausted, she would have woken him up as she tried to put her feelings into words. That was still the hardest part for her. It felt like anything she said wouldn't be doing her words justice. Certainly the feelings she had experienced from Harry were the same way, even trying to put a description to it in her head left her feeling like there were no words for it.
She wondered when she would have the courage to bring up the conversation topic that was increasingly obvious was both relevant and necessary.
It was these thoughts that circled Aayla's mind as she closed her eyes and drifted off to the first restful sleep that she had gotten in over two days. Comfortable. Safe. Right.
The arrival of the Queen and the Senator turned out to be a very quick event. Harry escorted them from the edge of the wards to the estate along with five of their most trusted personal guards. For the first time, Harry and the rest of the Felucian Four were introduced to the Senator's daughter, Leia Organa. She was a newborn, only a few weeks old. Harry was surprised when he felt a fair bit of magical power flow from her already, so he knew that she would one day be a very strong witch… no, Force User, he reminded himself for the umpteenth time.
Blood from the Queen, the Senator, and a tiny drop from Leia at her parent's insistence were all added to the ward stone. Harry then tied an empty book he had also asked for to the protections. It would grant or restrict access to the estate if names were written or crossed out within. The Senator promptly wrote down the names of all the Jedi present and the guardsman,
Later that day, the Queen asked Aayla and Harry to join them later that night deep within the bowels of the Royal palace. When the two arrived, they found the two-meter square cube he had requested next to a pit dug directly into the bedrock beneath the ancient structure.
Slowly, under Aayla's protective and inquisitive eyes, he recreated many of the protections that now existed upon the Senator's remote estate. Left out where wards such as the unplottability and any illusionary wards, but in their place he amplified the power diverted to structural integrity and fire-proofing. Harry had to explain to Aayla that structural integrity wards would not prevent updates and additions to the palace. If an owner of the wards like the Senator and Queen wanted a change, the wards would allow them. But if it was an attack upon the building, the wards would do their best to protect the structure so long as they had strength within them.
He explained and narrated each step involved in the process, and an Archivist droid that served the Royal Family digitized all information it could acquire from Harry. The process took much longer to finish than the rushed job he did days earlier, but he expended nowhere near the amount of energy this time. The transfer of power to the wards felt easy this time, especially when he carefully instructed Aayla how to assist him. The two slowly powered the wards up, and left instructions with the Archivist droid about proper maintenance as well as how to bind new people to the stone in the future.
Aayla and Harry returned to the estate via portkey halfway through the night. Master Yoda, Shaak Ti, and Maris all stayed up to hear Aayla's report on their accomplishments at the palace.
Aayla found it easier to review exactly what Harry had done through a holo projection that the archivist droid had created. The droid had already edited the footage so it contained many of Harry's comments given in a way a teacher might give a lecture at a university. The three hour ward carving was reduced to a thirty minute overview complete with high speed close-ups and holographic three dimensional projections of each array as it was carved by Harry.
"You deliberately left blank sections in the stone?" asked Shaak Ti once the overview had finished.
"Yes, just in case some day far in the future the palace needs more comprehensive protections. Right now, it has the standard ones a public government building would have if it needs to be seen and used. If that ever changes, the ward stone can be upgraded later," explained Harry.
"How advanced was that stuff you did?" asked Maris. "I had trouble following a big portion of the specifics, though the overview was very well done."
Harry hesitated a bit. "Fairly advanced. Some of those were ward schemes that would only be taught to a Master Warder at the magical community's bank, Gringotts. That institution is run by a race called Goblins, who are rather mistrustful of anyone not of their race. I managed to do them a few favors after a… misunderstanding and they were so happy with the results they continued to teach me quite a few of their customs and ways. A bunch of the ward schemes on both this ward stone and the Palace's are things I learned from them."
"You mentioned before, that you needed to do more to the stone here. When will you do that?" asked Shaak Ti in a slightly concerned tone.
Harry smiled, "Don't worry Master Ti, I won't push myself. Tonight was actually fairly easy, especially with Aayla there to help charge the ward stone."
"You still haven't mentioned when you'll do this," Shaak Ti persisted.
"Probably tomorrow or the day after. Not sure at the moment. Important thing is to just check the stone and make sure everything is stable. It was a rather rushed job," Harry said with a half smile.
"Careful you should be. In no danger we are at the moment. Push yourself you need not," Master Yoda said before he rose to his feet. "Rest now you all should."
Yoda hobbled off to his shelter, which left the four by themselves, though they also quickly said their goodnights.
Harry would look back and consider the days after he raised wards at the Royal Palace as some of the most exhausting of his life. After the morning training sessions with Aayla, Shaak Ti, and Maris, Yoda would usually hobble over and asked Harry if he would continue for a while with him. Outwardly, his reasons for the extra training were that he wanted to gauge Harry's level of physical fitness as well as how intuitively he could utilize the Force.
Maris was subjected to the same extra sessions as well, and Yoda insisted the two trade the backpack that carried him constantly so he could always whisper and offer advice to the pair. Yoda gave Maris a very structured workout, which Harry could tell had been finely honed over centuries of Jedi tutelage. The diminutive Jedi Master pushed the young Zabrak Padawan constantly beyond the limit, and each time she switched the carry-all their trainer rode into Harry, Maris would nearly collapse in exhaustion on the ground.
The one good thing was that Maris said the grueling endurance runs had made her a bit more in-tune with her body afterwards, and she could find her core even faster. Harry was thrilled to hear this, and promised to help her move on towards Occlumency with some guided lessons at his first possible opportunity.
Shaak Ti had quickly moved on to Occlumency herself. The stoic Jedi Master would spend nearly all her time now in deep meditation as she sorted and reviewed the memories of her life. He found Aayla in Shaak Ti's quarters one afternoon, the two linked together in an embrace to console Shaak Ti. She was in tears over some memory she had lived through again, and Aayla was so in-tune to her friend that she was immediately at her side to offer comfort. Harry didn't inquire as to what the specifics were even while alone with Aayla later on. He figured he needed to earn that trust with Shaak Ti on his own.
Harry's training sessions with Master Yoda were rather general and abstract when compared to Maris'. Yoda would seemingly talk about completely random things that had nothing to do with training at all. They would talk mainly about Harry's past and Yoda would randomly switch from a question that focused on the abuse Harry suffered from his relatives to details on some highly obscure magical creature Harry was positive he had only mentioned once in passing in a conversation days prior.
It took a few days for Harry to figure out the Jedi Master's goal to Harry's specific training runs: Multi-tasking on a level Harry would have never pondered previously. Harry had to immerse his mind in his subconscious magic deeply to successfully accomplish the physical tasks he was given while he simultaneously had to use his active mind to ponder eloquent answers about random and sometimes personal topics with his taskmaster.
When he later mentioned this revelation around a campfire late at night with only Aayla and Shaak Ti present, both gave him small secretive smirks before they left, which made Harry wonder if he had been right or wrong about with his conclusions.
While Jedi related training occurred in the mornings, Harry firmly controlled the afternoons. Harry bet McGonagall wished she had students as well behaved as the Jedi he taught. Harry sincerely desired to follow the Hogwarts curriculum, but understood the Jedi, as soldiers in a war, needed training instead of a light education suited towards people whose greatest enemy would be the epic battle against dust bunnies and dirty dishes.
He went back to the mainstays that Maris had already learned while on Felucia. The stunning spell, the petrification curse, the door locking and unlocking charms, lighting charm, and the spell finisher to undo anything they had done. He was surprised to find that both Aayla and Shaak Ti held roughly the same affinity to his mother's wand that Maris did. Yoda unfortunately did not hold any real affinity to any of the wands Harry had in his possession, so he was forced to use one of Harry's backups and brute force his spells through.
Hours of frustration passed before he could even get to the point of teaching Yoda spells, though. For years, the aged Jedi Master communed to the Force in a very specific manner. Usually, Yoda would actually surrender his conscious mind to it and just let things happen. That method would unfortunately not work with Magic though. Harry's use of the Force required intent, willpower, and a conscious effort, which was something Yoda had taught others for 900 years not to do.
"Wrong feels this. A weapon the Force should not be. Guide us the Force should, not should other way around be," said Yoda calmly as he evaluated the latest lesson, the Stupefy spell.
Harry had to think a few moments to respond to this. He had seen the Jedi use the abilities in an offensive manner, yet it often wasn't against a person. But he also knew the Jedi had abilities to use against their enemies, so he tried to approach Yoda's problem from a different angle.
"Aayla mentioned most Jedi are taught to use the Force to put people to sleep. She demonstrated it to me, and it is the exact equivalent to my people's 'Somnus' charm. These spells are safe, both for you to cast and for their target," said Harry in response.
"What spells wouldn't be safe to cast?" asked Maris, which definitely got everyone's attention. Maris seemed to have an intuitive ability to ask questions that would help cut to the heart of the matter behind many of the problems experienced by Master Yoda.
"There's many. Some good. Quite a few of them are bad. Most are perversions of medical and law enforcement spells. For example, it's good to have a spell to help a police officer take control of someone threatening suicide on top of a building for a few seconds. It's bad to use that same spell, with the intent to dominate and subjugate, to enchant someone to essentially become a slaved extension of your mind."
Gasps met that statement. Aayla got the basis of the lesson first, "It's all about intent. Isn't it?"
"Yes, same as what I've told you before. It's not emotions themselves that drive a person to good or evil. To the light or dark side. Its intent. It's the choices you still make when you know the consequences of those actions. Becoming one of those clichéd people who will use any means to meet their goal, no matter how immoral or nefarious it would be."
Harry was silent a bit, then went on to explain something he felt would give Master Yoda something to relate and ponder. "There are three spells that are considered 'Unforgiveable' spells to my people. All of them originally medical spells. All of them now perverted."
"The first is the Imperius curse. It's the one I mentioned earlier. Control. Complete control and obedience over the victim. It takes a very strong mind and will to cast and an even stronger mind and will to resist it. To cast it successfully and maintain it, you not only must have the willpower, you must have the utterly base desire to subjugate someone else to your will. It's not something Maris could cast right now at Master Yoda and ever have a chance to work."
Yoda frowned and murmured quietly, "Spell much like the Sith use. Incantations they also use for some of their abilities. Qâzoi Kyantuska, suppression of thought it is also known as."
Harry raised an eyebrow, this as the first time the use of incantations for any of the skills the Jedi or Sith used came up. He had to admit that 'suppression of thought' was a good way to describe it. He also noted that Yoda didn't seem to be directing disapproval or suspicion at him for the similarity. Before he could inquire about incantations and derail the conversation, he was interrupted by a question.
"Have you ever used it?" asked Shaak Ti, emotionlessly.
Harry felt there was no reason to lie to these people if they were going to continue to trust him. "Yes, Once. It was at the end of the war. Voldemort's servants had infiltrated and controlled all levels of society and government. There were roving bands of killing squads killing all the first generation magicals and anyone they deemed as a 'blood traitor'."
"Everything was going about as bad as it possibly could go. They even managed to get their people into the Goblin run bank, Gringotts. Just imagine the most obstinate, rude, and greedy species imaginable. That's what the goblins are like. We found out one of the… trinkets… we needed to permanently kill Voldemort was hidden in one of the bank's vaults. We had a half-way decent plan, but it went to hell almost immediately. I had to use the Imperius on a Goblin who was about to raise the alarm in the bank. If I hadn't used it, my best friends, Ron and Hermione, and myself… we would've been dead within minutes. And that would have been it. No one else had the same knowledge we did about ending the war."
"In the end, we got the item we needed from the bank. Within a day of getting that item in hand, I defeated Voldemort and we ended the war. We had roughly two years of peace before the next Dark Lord made himself known."
Yoda gave a long sigh at the end of the story, and his voice was solemn when he spoke. "Necessary it was. Corrupt you this exposure it did not. Disgust for it's use, I hear in your tone. However, careful in the future you must be to avoid such things."
Harry nodded, Yoda hadn't said anything he hadn't told himself repeatedly. "The next curse began as a medical spell. It'll fire every nerve in the body in a quick burst, and can restart someone's heart if it has stopped beating. It was never meant to be used for longer than a split second, and never on someone who is awake."
There was a pause as he saw frowns on the expression of every person there as they worked out what he was saying.
"By the Force, firing every nerve in someone's body..." whispered Shaak Ti. "To use the Force in such a manner. It would be worse than Force Lightning."
"Pain," Harry simply stated. "Pure all-encompassing pain. It fires every nerve in your body at once. It feels as if your very bones are on fire. You wish for death after a few seconds, and death is better than prolonged exposure. A little more than five consecutive minutes exposure to it and your mind will break to escape the agony. There's no known cure for the condition that results."
He could see a look of comprehension dawn upon Aayla's face, but he ploughed on with his lecture. There existed no desire whatsoever within him to talk about his own experience with the curse.
"The spell doesn't work if you don't have pure hatred focused upon your victim. If it doesn't, it behaves like it was originally designed. I used it once upon the woman who had just killed my godfather right in front of me. She laughed at me when I cast it. She said righteous anger wouldn't hurt her for long. You have to have the desire to see the person you're cursing suffer, to extend it beyond its original intended use. She explained that you need to want them to want to die rather than experience one more second of that spell." Harry's eyes were shadowed as he spoke.
"She then went on to give me a 'lesson' in how to cast it."
"She used it on you?" asked Aayla with concern in her voice, already guessing what Harry meant.
"I've had it used on me probably fifty or sixty times. You tend to lose count after a while." Harry said flatly.
Harry stopped his explanation, lost in his memories of the Graveyard, the Atrium, and of Snape fleeing Hogwarts. He didn't see the silent looks between Aayla, Shaak Ti, and Maris. All of them now regretted the pursuit of this line of information.
"Last curse you say was unforgiveable," Master Yoda cut across his thoughts. "What is that one?"
"The last curse… is the most infamous of the three. And the reason I was so unknowingly famous when I grew up. I'm the only person to have ever survived a properly cast one. The killing curse. One hit. Dead. Your soul ripped from your body without a mark left upon you."
"You survived it?" asked Aayla. "Wait… the nickname you said they gave you. 'The Boy Who Lived?' Krong, Harry…"
Harry gave them all a rueful smile. "People tended to not think that the reason I survived was because I was the child of the 'Parents Who Died for Their Son.'
Maris was by now quite misty eyed, and he knew he couldn't look at her if he wanted to keep his resolve to continue.
"Anyway, the reason these three curses stand out above all others is because they are completely unblockable via magical means. You can summon something into the path of one to intercept it. Conjure something solid for it to impact against. Dodge out of the way. But if you use any magical based shield against them, the spell goes right through it."
"But that's only part of the problem with those spells. There are easier ways to torture people. Easier ways to kill people. These specific spells take a lot of magical power to cast, and require a very specific emotional state at the time they are cast. Anger, hatred, the desire to control others. To relish in the pain someone else is receiving. All the sorts of things normal people don't use to fuel their magic. Normal people get angry, then they deal with the source behind it and they come out better people for it. Dark Wizards get angry and decide to use Magic to solve their problems with those emotions controlling them."
"Focus the Jedi have upon emotions in their teachings. Choices afterwards. Wizards, focus upon choices first, then emotions," contemplated Yoda.
"I'm not sure whether either method is the best," said Harry with a dark chuckle and a shake of his head.
He hesitated a moment before he continued. "In the end I think what separates good wizards from evil ones, or light from dark users if you prefer, boils down to one of the things my old headmaster used to say. 'There is a difference between doing what is right and doing what is easy.' I think it applies in this case."
There were pensive expressions all around as they considered his words. Yoda especially seemed especially interested in the deeper meaning of those particular words.
"Well, I believe that's enough lessons for today. You all should take the rest of the day off and just relax," interrupted Shaak Ti. She had enough of the dark undertones of the conversations that highlighted the various dark curses that Harry had been subjected to in the past.
"Come on Harry, let's go play with all the wand stuff from Felucia that's just sitting there," said Aayla.
"Can I watch?" inquired Maris, eager to see a wand created.
"I would not mind following as well," Shaak Ti asked as well, and a bit of eagerness shined through despite her efforts to stifle the emotion.
Harry looked to Aayla, who appeared to have a bit of a resigned look about her. She gave a subtle nod before she favored him with half a smile, one that clearly showed a bit of frustration.
'Apparently she wanted to talk to me, alone,' thought Harry as he looked back and forth between the three women.
The four friends retreated to Aayla's and Harry's shared shelter and the tent that was pitched within. They all sat around in the Great Room and quietly conversed while they waited for Harry to bring out the supplies they had gathered from Felucia. He still had the various doors that lead to the cargo holds full of ships, weapons, and supplies inside the tent. They leaned inconspicuously in a stack against a far wall of the room.
Harry returned a few minutes later with samples of various pieces of wood and potential cores. The first thing Harry did was the easiest; he measured each Jedi for their wands. Many of the various things Ollivander did when a person entered his shop were nonsense and sleight of hand to create a mysterious atmosphere, but the one true thing he did was measure the distance from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow. This is what was called a personal cubit to old-world craftsmen, and the personal cubit at the age of eleven was the base length of the ideal wand for a witch or wizard. Additions and subtractions could occur to this number based upon a number of things, such as age, nose bridge length and the overall length of time a person took to be annoyed by the act of measurement.
Problem was, all three Jedi were obviously not eleven years old. Maris, despite being 16, had mentioned that she had reached her full height, though she admitted with a blush her body still would fill out in a few places.
Harry's best guess was to take the measurement from each woman's inner elbow to wrist, since that measurement was the equivalent length of Harry's first Holly and Phoenix feather wand. Harry had one surprise for the Jedi. Bail Organa had some finishing tools and materials for wood delivered. Some of them were antiques from a Royal Museum that had not been on display to the public in centuries, and had been in the Museum's possession for far longer.
Millennia of disuse was repaired in seconds by Harry with a few 'Scourgify's' and 'Reparo' charms. When repaired the equipment was exactly what he needed to grind down burs and create smoother edges and points for the wands.
He really didn't understand a lot of wandlore theory. He picked up quite a bit when he decided to learn more about how the Elder Wand had given him its allegiance. He understood basic facts, how birthdays in certain months of the year related to specific kinds of wood. But those were just baselines. There were dozens of additional wood types that had no relation at all to calendars. Then, throw wand thickness in as well as the core itself, and it all got way too confusing for Harry.
Suddenly, Harry's plan to be a wand crafter didn't seem to be that smart an idea anymore.
Then Harry realized he may have an advantage, since none of Olivander's clients had been Jedi. If nothing else, these three woman seemed to be highly intuitive and precognitive. 'Maybe they'll just know which wood and core will be theirs,' thought Harry.
He figured it wouldn't hurt to try.
Harry cleared his throat loudly, and hoped none of them caught on that he was about to completely wing the whole process. The three Jedi stopped their idle conversation and focused upon him.
"Ok, normally, a starting wand is premade and you just go into a store and try specific ones based upon the time of year you were born in and a bunch of other criteria. However, we don't have that luxury, since I have no idea about the specific magical relationship between the star Felucia orbits or how its various moons interacted as well. We also don't have hundreds of combinations of possibilities already in stock here either."
He could see some doubt creep into their eyes. It was plain they all thought they might not get their wands after all. Harry felt it was time to correct that thought immediately.
"So we're going to do the second method of getting a wand. Very wealthy people don't get pre-made wands. They often go to a crafter and get custom wands built that are tailor made to the individual or their profession. That's what we're going to try here."
One night Aayla described the process she made her two lightsabers and her backup. The entire process was driven by a Jedi's feel of the Force, from the selection of materials and gems, the layout of the circuits within the hilt, to the actual construction itself. No machine could ever assemble a lightsaber. It required an individual to manipulate the components in such a precise way that a Swiss Watchmaker would be envious.
He lined up all the materials, and asked the Jedi to simply trust their instincts like they had instructed Harry when he attempted to commune with the Force himself.
Shaak Ti went first. Halfway to the pile she closed her eyes, and Harry could sense a definite shift in the feel of the room. She had her hand extended as if to reach for something, but she remained motionless. Occasionally, every few seconds, she would step forward towards a particular cut of wood, but her step would almost always end before it began. Eventually she gave a small gasp and promptly stepped forward and grasped a single piece of wood from a tree flower. Harry could tell that, when completed, the wand would likely have a deep iridescent green tint to its mottled grey.
Harry set it aside and marked it. Shaak Ti then proceeded to go over the core components. Harry had a much wider variety of ingredients here, since he had decided to splurge a bit and make a bit of his potions stores available to the girls. The process she utilized to select the wood evidently became easier with experience, because she immediately veered straight towards the Rancor heartstring samples and selected one.
Maris took the longest of the three, and was coached a bit on how to be sure that she interpreted the will of the Force correctly. After fifteen minutes of coaxing and a half-dozen confirmations that had Shaak Ti move a specific piece of wood randomly around that Maris always gravitated towards, they all agreed Maris had the wood for her wand. She selected one of the random pieces of wood that had been collected by Harry during a cleanup session of the local courtyard on the Organa estate. As for her core, she was surprised to discover that she gravitated instantly towards the heartstring of a gelagrub, the indigenous grub like beasts of burden that had been domesticated and used for single person transportation through the swamps of Felucia.
Aayla had the most interesting connection of all three. Her wand would be comprised of a giant purple mushroom stem from Felucia, one of the first samples the two collected in fact. The core is what surprised them all. On a whim, Harry had placed one of the feathers from his animagus form amongst the samples. Aayla instantly gravitated towards it, much to Harry's shock, and secretly, his joy.
"What is that feather from, Harry?" asked Maris inquisitively as neither Aayla or Harry spoke after she picked it up.
Aayla didn't ask the question because she seemed absolutely entranced by the connection she had with the feather. Harry was pretty sure she didn't know what it was from, but that she would likely figure it out quickly no matter how vague he was in his response to Maris.
"It's a feather from a bird on my homeworld. A magical, immortal bird of fire called a phoenix. My first wand actually contains a feather from a phoenix. That phoenix was red. The feather Aayla has came from one that was white."
Aayla's head shot up instantly at the word 'white' and looked at Harry. Her eyebrows rose, and scrunched her forehead into her protective headguard. She had a clear look of expectation as she subtly gestured towards the feather while she looked straight into his eyes.
Harry merely nodded with a half smile, and received an ear-to-ear grin from her in response.
"Really?" asked Aayla, who didn't seem to believe it to be true.
"Yes, really," said Harry.
"Oh, Harry. Thank you," said Aayla as she ran and gave Harry a bone-crushing hug.
"What did we just miss?" asked Shaak Ti in a half-amused and half-confused way.
Aayla let go of Harry to stare at Shaak Ti. Harry saw the flash of insight cross her mind when she realized that Maris and Shaak Ti had no idea about his alternate form yet. The Rutian made a sideways glance at Harry, in what he could tell was a silent plea to explain exactly what had occurred.
Harry let out a deep breath, "You know, Aayla, I'm not going to have any secrets left soon because of you."
"There are secrets and there are secrets. The reason for this being a secret doesn't exist in this universe for you Harry. Besides, you did say your closest friends knew about this in your world," Aayla had a wide smirk on her face at the end and had looped an arm around his back.
"Fine, but please, this doesn't leave this room… tent… whatever. You both may want to sit down for this."
Shaak Ti and Maris moved over to the couch, and Harry swore he saw the same sort of glee in Aayla's eyes he saw back when Shaak Ti and Maris were first exposed to the Fidelius. Apparently, Shaak Ti saw it as well.
"Aayla, try to not lose control like the last time Harry chose to surprise us," she drawled.
"This one's bigger than the Fidelius, Shaak Ti," Aayla said, once more sounding practically giddy.
"Well, don't keep us waiting," exclaimed Maris.
With a quick laugh at their exuberance, Harry started out. "There's no easy way to explain. It's one of those things you need to see. Some wizards and witches on my planet have an ability they can learn to turn into an animal. It takes years to learn. Aayla's feather is from me."
The moment he finished, Harry shifted on the spot and transformed into a White Phoenix. He flame-flashed instantly to Aayla's shoulder and gave a soft trill that made the shocked look on their faces turn into grins.
He loved his transformation, especially since he had barely been able to use it in front of others. It was everything he could possibly want in an animagus. He could use magic to travel extraordinary distances. Heavy burdens meant nothing to a phoenix, as he aptly demonstrated once to Hermione long ago when he picked up a fully loaded military fuel truck without a problem. Finally, the tears. Even if Harry's form somehow was injured and couldn't ever fly again, the tears were a resource that were worth their weight in gold.
Especially after they had helped Aayla.
"By the Force," whispered Shaak Ti in amazement.
"Harry?" asked Maris tentatively as she got up and stretched forth a tentative hand. She scratched softly behind his head, and he couldn't help the involuntary trill that escaped his beak.
"So your focus, will contain a feather from Harry?" asked Shaak Ti. He wouldn't have heard it as Harry, but with the phoenix's keen auditory senses, Harry definitely picked up the very subtle and suppressed bit of jealousy and envy that was there. The tightrope act Ron Weasley's jealousy had ingrained within him an extreme sensitivity to the growth of jealousy within others. He had to stop that right now.
He instantly jumped from Aayla's shoulder and flamed to the couch next to Shaak Ti. The transformation back to human form occurred almost instantly.
"There's nothing wrong with your wand core, Shaak Ti. Nor yours Maris. The core focus material doesn't mean anything symbolic. It merely means, from the admittedly very meager offerings we have here, that the components you each picked were the ones most suited and in-tune with your own bodies' magic."
Maris nodded, and Shaak Ti reluctantly did as well. Harry wondered about her strong reaction to the feather. Shaak Ti didn't seem to be one who would be jealous. In fact it seemed to Harry that jealousy would be another one of those emotions related to attachments that Jedi weren't supposed to allow themselves to succumb to. With that thought, Harry had to laugh internally. Three women in close proximity for the last few weeks. It really wasn't any wonder that some sort of cat fight would break out eventually, even if Jedi mental discipline reigned those fights in with wills of iron.
Harry decided the topic of the feather was best broached later with Aayla, if it was to be spoken of at all.
After setting aside each woman's wand core and wood, in clearly marked boxes so that he could continue work later, Maris and Shaak Ti both made their excuses for the evening to return to their own sleeping areas.
As was usual Aayla and Harry began to prepare for bed together. When they had settled into bed next to one another Aayla finally spoke up after a long period of silence. "I have a question."
"You know you can ask me anything," Harry responded without hesitation..
"Your feather. Is… that normal for pieces of of such a personal nature to be used in wand cores on your world?" Aayla asked quietly.
Harry was silent for several long moments as he weighed his response. "No. At least as far as I know. Most people can't turn into animals like I can. I did know a young woman who had a hair from her grandmother in the core of her wand, so it isn't completely unheard of. Though as I said, I'm not an expert."
Aayla was quiet for a little bit before she responded, "To have that...it was incredibly personal and I wanted to say that I appreciated it."
Harry nodded slightly and looked up at the ceiling of the tent, one that still showed the night sky of Felucia. "I should probably capture the night sky here, so we're sleeping under something more accurate to our present surroundings." Harry mused quietly.
"No. Leave it. I like to be reminded of the Felucian sky." Aayla said quietly. "It's where we met. A singularly important event in my life."
Harry instantly pounced on the possibility to needle Aayla a bit.
"Isn't that forming an attachment?" he said with a small smile as they lay in bed and stared at the ceiling together as they listened to the nighttime sounds of a world that was thousands of light years away.
"It is, but I don't think the Jedi will stress the importance of some aspects of The Code as strongly as they've done in the past," Aayla responded cryptically.
"Why is that?" Harry asked, unsure what to make of that statement.
He was well aware that attachments were one of the primary restrictions placed upon the Jedi that many members found problematic. It was the reason many who left the Order cited as their reason behind their dissatisfaction with the organization. He was also well aware that Aayla had already skirted the edge of a bona fide romantic attachment in the past with a Jedi Master who was a member of the High Council, and neither had pursued the relationship further.
"Master Yoda mentioned it a few days ago. In that meeting he pulled me aside to talk to me alone when we first arrived."
"You did seem happy afterwards," said Harry cautiously as he vaguely remembered her behavior after the meeting. But he was definitely aware that Aayla held something major back that she hadn't spoken of yet.
Aayla raised her head up just slightly. He always did like the way her golden eyes reflected the light from the Felucian night. She looked at him for a few moments as her mouth opened and closed a few times as she thought of what she wanted to say. Eventually she found her voice.
"I was happy. The happiest I've been in a long time," Harry watched her stop as she thought something over in her mind as she looked at a space beyond Harry left ear. Eventually she turned her attention back to him fully and said, "A new path has opened up to a possible future I never thought I could have."
She continued after a few more seconds, though her voice was much quieter now, "It's an option I've honestly never considered, and it frightens me. I'm not sure what I should do."
Harry felt slightly hurt on the inside, though he had no idea why. It sounded as if Aayla specifically had received an opportunity few members of the Order were allowed to undertake. This conversation sounded to Harry that it was less about attachments and more about some risky mission or specialized secret instruction from Yoda himself based upon her reluctance to speak directly on it.
The wizard was well aware the possibility existed that his greatest friend in this galaxy could be reassigned somewhere at any moment, and he wouldn't be able to follow. The thing that twisted the knife even further was that Aayla didn't feel that she could talk to him about it.
"Is this something that needs to be decided right away? If this is some decision that could affect the rest of your life, probably means that you shouldn't rush into it," he asked quietly. He hoped he buried any nervousness in his voice deeply.
"No, there's no rush on it at all," said Aayla quietly after a few moments silence. It sounded like his words had steadied her, and she felt less worried about whatever conflict was in her mind.
He felt her place her head back down on his shoulder. "I can feel your worry, Harry. I promise I definitely won't be making any decisions regarding this without you."
Unfortunately, her words did little to assuage the sliver of fear now planted in Harry's mind.
Yes, I'm alive. Imagine that.
This chapter, along with the next few, have been done for literally a few years now. I was never truly happy with a few elements of them, and it took Kat messing around with them a few months ago for me to finally get to the point I was happy with the flow of events.
That being said, they're done, but not done. Still need to re-read / edit / etc with the next few before I consider them post-worthy. Updates will be slowly forthcoming.
So long as, you know… Kat doesn't come up with more awesome scenarios in our google doc space that ships Harry, Tonks, and Fleur… which is my equivalent of "Ooohhh, shiny!"
Yeah we tend to move from story to story relatively easily. It kinda depends on what catches our eye on a certain day. Usually one or the other of us will get home to a message going "Go look at what I added, changed,shifted, borked, in X story." That being said, I think I rewrote/organized this chapter… three different times in order to make Plums happy enough to post it. As he was the one that first got me interested in READING crossovers much less writing them, i've been pretty insistent. (I.E. i've made a pest of myself) Still. It's finally here ^_^ So enjoy!