It is late into the night when the nightmare returns to Jeyna. It’s been a while since she has had this particular bad dream, but it strikes with a vengeance. It fills her senses so realistically, she loses herself in it almost immediately. The smoke burns her throat, scorching her lungs with every desperate gasp. Her eyes tear up, irritated by the sooty haze.
The explosions around her are strange. She can feel them, but everything is oddly silent. The chaos shakes her body, each new blast making her wince and cower. Jeyna can’t see her mother now, she can’t see anything but the wall of flames. All around her the fire licks higher, consumes more. Another shudder under her feet, and a beam in the roof gives way. Sparks shower as it slams down, partially collapsing the room she is in.
Jeyna is crawling, she thinks. Hands and knees across a floor that is too warm, her skin protesting against the heat of the air. She can’t find her way out. Everything is the fire, it’s surrounding her. She won’t escape.
She opens her mouth to scream, to shout for help against the destruction that’s trapped her. But again, nothing but silence presses against her eardrums. She can’t hear her own voice, no matter how hard she tries to make a sound. Jeyna is powerless, voiceless against her fate.
Her chest hurts, it feels like something has reached in to grab her heart and twist. She tries to sob, collapsing down, her ears feeling deadened by the absence of noise. But then, she hears it. A sound amongst the nothingness that had smothered her cries.
Jeyna tries to focus on it, to make it out. She closes her eyes to the flames, tries to block out the heat scorching her face. It’s a voice, she realizes. She can hear someone’s voice, calling to her.
It’s a nightmare, Jeyna. It’s not real.
But when she opens her eyes, she can see it. She can see her home, burning around her. The roof collapsing in further, black smoke quickly obscuring her senses.
You’re okay. It’s in the past, remember? It’s only a memory.
Jeyna clamps her eyes shut again, focusing on that voice. Is this a memory? Is that it?
You need to wake up. It’s okay, you’re safe here with me.
The voice breaks through the terror of the dream, and she feels intense relief as soon as the recognition crosses her mind. “Ben…” she gasps, his name managing to slip through her lips. She can feel his energy, there with her as if he’s right beside her. She wants to reach out for him, wants to find her way out of the terror and back to him.
Yes, that’s it. Come back to me, Jeyna.
When her eyes slide open again, the fire is gone. It’s replaced with the dim interior of the dormitory of the Millennium Falcon. Her heart is pounding rapidly, her breath too fast and shaky. She pulls away, struggling, for just a moment when she feels someone holding her. But then her senses fully return to her, and she stops. Ben’s arms are wrapped around her, her shoulder against his chest.
Jeyna relents immediately, letting herself slump into him as she tries to calm her body down. “I’m sorry,” she murmurs.
He hushes her, wrapping her up tighter in his arms. She presses her face into his chest, slowing her breathing. Her heart rate slows down too, the longer she’s awake. The panic drains from her muscles, helped along by Ben’s embrace. He feels so steady against her, and she can feel him in the force. Even his energy is wrapped around her, soothing.
Jeyna sighs. “I’m sorry I woke you up,” she says.
Ben makes a dismissive noise. “Don’t be,” he insists. She feels him press a kiss to the top of her head, and she nuzzles further into him. “I get them too sometimes. Nightmares, I mean.”
“It’s been a while since I’ve had one that bad,” she admits.
“It was awful, what happened to your planet,” Ben says quietly. “I remember hearing about it, when I was little. Not many survived…”
“No,” Jeyna agrees. “Not many did…I still don’t even know the names of the people who saved me from the wreckage. They were Republic, I think.”
They are silent for a while, as Jeyna tries to remember their faces. But time has blurred them, and all she can remember is huddling on their ship, wrapped up in a blanket. They’d taken her to a refugee center, and from there she’d been shipped out to another planet to find a foster home.
“Well, whoever they were… I owe them everything,” Ben says. She takes one of his hands, entwining her fingers with his and squeezing gently.
“Can you show me how to do what you just did?” she asks curiously.
“What do you mean?”
“Can I help you wake up from bad dreams? The way you just helped me?” Jeyna questions.
Ben’s silent for a long time, as if thinking. His thumb absentmindedly strokes little patterns against her shoulder, only pausing when he finally answers her. “I wouldn’t ask you to do that,” he says. “I don’t want you to see that.”
Jeyna pulls away, squinting to make out Ben’s face in the shadows. She can’t read what emotion is darkening his eyes, even as they hold hers. “Why not? If I could help you, I want to.”
Does he not want her to see his private dreams, she wonders? She wouldn’t have thought Ben would keep secrets from her, not after everything they’d shared already. He takes a faltering breath, before trying to explain.
“I wouldn’t want it to upset you,” he says softly.
Jeyna raises her hand to cradle his face. She scans his features, full lips and an aquiline nose, before searching his eyes. They’re nearly black with such little light, but she feels like she can see so much held back in them.
“I can handle it,” she insists. “If you’re there for me in my darkest memories, I should be there for you in yours.”
Ben tilts his head, leaning down. She closes her eyes in anticipation, rewarded when his lips brush against hers lightly, for just a moment. “Will you teach me how?” she asks.
“I’ll try,” he answers. Then his lips catch hers more earnestly, a chaste kiss that seems to settle her fully. It chases that last lingering bit of fear, leftover from the dream, from her body.
When he pulls away, she sighs with content. The air is slightly chilly at night on Dantooine, even on the ship. His body heat and the blankets over her legs tempt her to crawl back onto her pillow and pull him down with her. But Ben shifts and stands up, surprising her.
“I have something that might help,” he says.
Jeyna watches him cross the room, pulling open the lockers to rifle through one of the drawers. When his hand emerges, she catches sight of something dangling from his fingertips. He returns to her, and she realizes it’s a crystal, on a delicate chain.
“I was going to give it to you on our wedding night, but maybe now is better,” Ben says uncertainly, sitting beside her on the bunk. She hears something in his voice that almost suggests shyness.
“Where did you get it?” she asks, surprised. Jeyna takes it carefully from his hand. The crystal is small and clear, but even in the low light she can see something within its depths. There’s a dance of color in its core, a shimmer of blues and violets. She turns the crystal, watching the lights shift and play.
“I made it,” Ben replies. “When I was fixing my lightsaber. I found the crystal in the cave, and something about it made me think you’d like it. It’s not energetic enough for a lightsaber, but I think it might help you focus.”
“It’s gorgeous,” Jeyna breathes, unable to tear her eyes away from it. She can feel it in the force. It’s a soft, calming thrum of energy. It seems to resonate with her, helping to settle the anxiety that always lingers in her thoughts.
“I thought you could use it, if you wanted to try meditating-” he begins to explain, but she interrupts him with a hug.
“I love it, Ben,” she says, throwing her arms around him. “Thank you so much.”
He murmurs something into her hair in response, but she can’t quite make it out. “What was that?” she asks.
“I love you,” he repeats louder.
Jeyna smiles, happiness filling her. “Will you put it on for me?” she asks, pulling away to turn around on the bed.
Ben takes the necklace from her, and she sweeps her hair out of the way. He fixes it around her neck, and it feels light against her skin. She traces her fingertips over the crystal once again, liking the shape of it. She never wants to take it off.
Her eyes flutter closed as Ben’s lips graze the back of her neck, sending a pleasant chill sparking down her spine. He trails kisses over her skin, before pausing to murmur. “We should get back to sleep. We have a big day tomorrow.”
She grumbles, disappointed that he wants to stop. She’d sacrifice sleep for more of him, and Ben seems to know it. He laughs softly, wrapping his arms around her to pull her back against him.
“There’s plenty of time for that tomorrow night, when you’re my wife,” he insists, his voice teasing.
“There’s plenty of time for it right now, too,” Jeyna retorts, laughing when he urges her down to lay on the bunk. He pulls the blankets up over her, tucking her close to his side.
“We should at least pretend to do things properly,” Ben points out.
She grins at the thought of him being so traditional, partially surprised by it. But perhaps she shouldn’t be, as there were hints of it already. “I like doing things how we want to do them,” she argues.
“Well, in that case…”
She giggles when he rolls over on top of her, propping himself up on her pillow. When he kisses her again, it isn’t chaste. He’s given in, his lips sinful as they coax hers into a deeper kiss. She is silenced as they abandon all pretense of waiting.
Jeyna freezes with guilt when Ben’s voice calls to her from the galley. “Did you eat all the jogan fruit!?”
“…Maybe,” she admits.
Ben emerges, face incredulous. “We just got that two days ago.”
“I’ve been eating dried rations for so long, I just got a little excited over fresh food,” Jeyna replies, shrugging.
Ben only laughs, shaking his head. “Should we pick up some more before we leave?” Jeyna asks suddenly. “I didn’t think about it…”
She realizes she hadn’t planned much of anything apart from exchanging vows and rings. But surely they should plan on some sort of party or celebration after? Her mind begins to spin anxiously, as she wonders what all even happens at a wedding. She’s never been to one, nor bothered to look into traditions.
But Ben shakes his head. “All that’s taken care of.”
“What do you mean?”
“Let’s just say my mother was more than pleased to arrange everything,” Ben says. “We just need to show up.”