“Are these our new quarters?” she asked, eyes wide. Luminara chuckled.
“Yes, young one,” she replied, standing next to her padawan in the quiet hallway. “The Council has granted us new quarters, far from your…old ones.”
“How far?” Ani asked warily, eyeing the door cautiously.
“At least six floors down and on the opposite side of the building, from what I heard,” the Master assured her.
“From the Healer’s Wing, too?” she asked impishly, humor glinting in her eyes. The elder woman laughed and ruffled her medium-length, blond hair. She had been back in her black outfit of skirt, boots, and dressy upper tunic since a little after Ani had been patched up. Ani’s former outfit, too bloodied and damaged to be salvaged, had been incinerated. Now she wore black boots with gray pants, gray over tunic that went to her knees and was fastened with a black standard Jedi belt, and dark brown longsleeves underneath that tunic. The girl still looked small, but she was safe now, and given proper care would undoubtedly reach her physical growth potential.
“Yes, my padawan, far enough from the Healer’s Wing too.” The padawan gave a small sigh of relief. She knew that if she wanted to have a chance at a new life, she had to do her best to keep away from the quarters where she and her former master had stayed in. Trying to remember past memories without totally going berserk would be difficult, but she was ninety-nine percent sure her new master would help her through this. After all, Master Luminara was nice…right?
Luminara chuckled. “Don’t worry young one, I made sure to tell Master Yoda that you hated the Healer’s Wing, which he understood. That’s one reason why we got this. The other is so that we can spend some time together by ourselves – away from the other Jedi for the most part.” Ani smiled up shyly.
“Thank you, Master,” she said in a near whisper, beaming a small smile up to her. She was glad that they’d be able to spend some time by themselves, away from other beings. She had never felt really comfortable around other beings, preferring the silence and aloneness, and with the trauma inflicted on her, she was less inclined to subject herself to their company intentionally.
Luminara personally was pleased, also, that they’d be able to have some time to themselves. She really wanted to know more about this little one, now in her charge, who was so shy, who had few friends, and who looked (even though she really hated to say it) undersized. Probably that brutal master of hers, she considered, and agreed. As she looked at her padawan, beaming with newfound happiness, she silently vowed, I will never let you be abused again, my padawan. Never again, as long as I’m around to protect you. However, she sensed that some dark and trying times were ahead, and that only a true bond forged then would be able to stand underneath it all.
The problem was, the girl still had the former bond in her head. Barely distinguishable threads of it remained, but it was still there. In order to create a long-lasting bond, they had to completely clear her mind of the old one in order to make room for the new one. However, that could cause nightmares, night terror, and possibly medical complications for her, not to mention that she was the only half-blood Mirialan Jedi, with a system just a little abnormal but made her nearly impossible to fully comprehend. Hopefully, they wouldn’t be called for any missions for at least a week or so. Bonding took quite a bit of time, and trust wasn’t gained in a day.
Shaking the thoughts away, Luminara turned to find her padawan. “Come, Ani,” she called to the still-grinning young one, who looked up at her and straightened. “Let’s go in.” The door whooshed behind them as they entered their quarters, and talked awhile, for the first time. The future danger could wait. After all, they had to form an apprenticeship unlike any other in order to face it.
“It’s so big!” Ani gasped upon entering. Together the two females entered in enough for the door to automatically shut and lock behind them. They were standing in the living area, looking ahead to view the open doorway to the kitchen area. Off to the left, two rooms with sleep couches and a fresher were inset off from the living area. Compared to the dormitory-style rooms of the initiates, the small quarters high above close to the south spire that she had formerly shared with Master Pollo, and the private rooms in the infirmary in the Med Center, this was pretty spacious. Their things had been moved here by Luminara the night before, and lay in two separate trunks on the floor.
“What do I do first? Unpack? Check out my room?” Ani was practically bouncing off her heels in anticipation, looking carefree and more happy, more like a normal teenager than a traumatized child. The Jedi Master almost didn’t want to spoil the moment.
“Not quite, young one. There is something you and I have to do first.”
“Huh?” Ani quickly looked over to her master, and then the happiness faded from her face. “Oh. Yeah.”
“We need to undergo the meditation ritual, where we clear your mind of all the traces of your previous bond with your master, and then formally establish our own bond.” Luminara went over to the middle of the living area’s carpeting and sat down, cross-legged. “Come here, padawan,” she said gently, keeping eye contact with her padawan. “Please.” Ani appeared to hesitate, and Luminara refused to tense up, keeping everything relaxed and calm.
“Okay,” Ani said, breathing out loudly. “I’m ready. I’m freaking out, but I want this – I want our bond to be strong, and if that means I need to clear out the end of the former bond from my head, I can do that.” She sat down across from her master, crossing her legs.
“Not alone.” Luminara took one of Ani’s hands and squeezed it. “Remember, I’m here to guide you, teach you, bond with you. I promise that I will, to the best of my ability, be there for you in all aspects of your training and your life. You may have felt and been isolated for a while, but no more. We have each other, as well as the other Jedi here who I hope you’ll come to trust eventually.” She raised an eyebrow. “Generally.” Her padawan shrugged almost flippantly.
“Anakin's interesting and very skilled,” she argued. “I’m lucky to have befriended him through Ahsoka and trained somewhat with him.”
“The days of senior Padawans tutoring younglings don’t necessarily correspond to real training, Padawan.”
“Maybe not technically…” Luminara shook her head ruefully. One thing at a time. First the battle of the bonds, then later on she could address rules and protocol and why they were important to follow. At least she could demonstrate that adequately enough in spending several standard weeks at the Senate building. Maybe even a month.
“Let us begin,” she said. “First, we shall enter into a meditative state. Only when the mind is relaxed can the least damage be done, especially when removing a past bond…”
Luminara smiled as she laid down to sleep that night. Her
padawan trusted her so far. It was going okay. From this point on, she’d be
treading on eggshells…okay, on a krayt dragon’s cave at night. Not exactly a
great thing, but it had to be done. Hey, she had done a great job in coaxing
Ani out of her shell so far. Now all she had to do was convince her that she,
her Master, was worthy enough to confide in. There was enough time to take it
slow, however. The slower the better, not just for her padawan, but for herself
as well. Besides, they were off duty for a while, not until at least two weeks