Family Matters Part 7

Written by Healer Leona

Carefully balancing the dinner tray in one hand Leona knocked on the door to the private room where Jemmiah had been moved.

"Come in!" came the exasperated answer.

"I have your dinner." Leona stated the obvious, placing the tray on the bedside table.

"How are you fee..." the healer's question was cut short as the young Corellian let out a short scream, putting her hands over her ears and shaking her head vehemently.

"If I hear that question one most time I really will go Sith!" Jemmiah commented gruffly, hiding the data pad she had been typing in under her covers.

"Sorry." Leona apologized, "But it kind of comes with the job." Rotating the table over the bed, the healer began setting the girl's meal in order.

"I *can* do that myself." Jemmiah snapped.

"Fine." Leona answered calmly, unfazed by the girl's sharp tone. One was use to the irascible temper of those she dealt with. Even the most even-tempered of individuals were given to ill-humor when confined to the infirmary, and Jemmiah certainly didn't qualify as such even under normal circumstances.

The healer had long ago simply chose to see the irritability as a sign of recovery. Taking a seat in the lone chair she watched as the girl began to move the food around the plate, not really eating.

"Do you want some?" Jemmiah asked annoyed at the way the healer stared at her. It was just another thing that bothered her greatly, making her feel like some sort or sideshow attraction.

"No thank you." Leona smiled sweetly, "I've already eaten, but for your own good I suggest you at least try and get something down. It will speed your recovery."

"I'm just not hungry." she said, pushing the tray away, reaching for her hair clasp.

"Loss of appetite is a sign of depression." Leona noted aloud. "Would you like to talk about it?"

"Oh, so now you're a mind healer?" Jemmiah flared, fed up at the way everyone presumed to understand her.

"Hardly, I just thought it would be easier to talk with someone who might relate to what you were going through."

"Really? And what makes you so qualified. Being a Jedi or a Healer?" Jemmiah inquired bitterly.
"I don't want to talk about *it*, now or ever. Why can't anyone see I want to put it behind me, forget about *it*.

Leona frowned pensively, making Jemmiah instantly regret her words. She knew Leona was only trying to help but she was tired of everyone's 'help'.

Leona released a small sigh and Jemmiah thought the healer had finally given up.

"Actually, my empathy stems from the loss of not just a child but a husband as well."

Jemmiah's eyes widened at the unexpected revelation.

"You were married?" the girl asked, more than a little shocked, "But you're a Jedi."

"Being a Jedi doesn't make one immune to affairs of the heart Jemmiah, you of all people should understand that. There are a number of married Jedi in the Temple, An-Paj for instance."

"Yeah, but he's...he's An-Paj and six wives hardly constitutes a normal married relationship." Jemmiah stammered.

"Well, maybe not to us. But it's a normal fact of life for where he comes from."

Leona paused as she collected her thoughts; thoughts that had gone untouched for quite a long time.

"It was a good many years ago. I met Romja at seventeen while still an apprentice healer and fell madly in love with him and he with me. After graduating my trials we were married and by the next year we had a baby girl."

Jemmiah noted the glassy sheen of the healer's eyes as she related the story, remembering the reaction of the healer when she'd asked about the gender of her own lost child.

"Balancing life as a wife, mother and Jedi was difficult, but with the help of a kind, loving husband it was manageable. I had applied for a position in one of the hospital's on Ixonia, where Jedi healer's had a semi-permanent presence due to the planet's long standing civil war.

"My thinking was that there would be less travelling and we could stay together. Unfortunately Jedi presence only aggravated the conflict, even though we were based in neutral territory and administered to all in need.

"One side, I don't even remember which anymore, hired mercenaries to do their dirty work and one day when I was meeting with a transport sent with medical supplies they targeted the small town in which the hospital was located."

Clasping her hand in her lap Leona closed her eyes, "I returned only to find the town decimated, the hospital in smoking ruins. It took three days of relief operations to locate survivors and the bodies of those who had been killed.

"We found Romja on the third day, in what was left of the hospital. I was told when the bombing started he had rushed there to do what he could. He had pulled a number of people to safety before being trapped when the hospital was hit. Our infant daughter was one of few never found."

After a few moments of silence Jemmiah cautiously asked, "Does Qui-Gon know?"

Leona slowly opened her eyes, shaking her head.

"Why tell me?"

"Because after that I buried myself in my work, isolating myself from everyone. I blamed myself for what happened, thinking if he'd never met me he'd still be alive. I wasted a good many years with that guilt, never allowing anyone to get close for fear of something happening to them.

"My returning to the Jedi Temple and taking a padawan was the first positive step I made."

Reaching over, the healer took Jemmiah's hand. "I see what you're doing and I don't want you to make the same mistakes I did."

"Now" Leona cleared her throat, patting the girl's hands, "I want you to eat and if you *ever* need someone to talk to you know where I am."

Getting up, Leona leaned down kissing Jemmiah on the forehead before turning toward the door.

"What was her name?" Jemmiah quietly asked as the healer turned away.

"Karima." Leona answered with a sad smile.


Family Matters Part 8

Written by Jemmiah

Gods, I never hoped to find myself in such a state.

For a moment I had managed to convince myself that things were slowly beginning to get back to normal. Everyone is feeling the strain, of course they are, but I harbored a false hope that with everybody’s support we would cope with recent events and start to look to the future once more. I can see now how wrong I was.

Leona warned me. She told me repeatedly that she was worried about Jemmiah: anxious over her state of mind and her lack of communication regarding the trauma she has been through. Each time she brought the subject up I swept it aside, telling her that she would learn to cope in her own way as she had done time and time again on countless other occasions. How I wish I’d taken her advice! What does it cost to listen, after all? Why do I never listen?

On reflection I am not sure if my disregarding her professional opinion was due to my not believing it or not knowing how to cope with it. Depression is a serious matter. How could I sweep it to one side as if it were of no significance?

Jemmiah’s been missing for three days without a word or any sign of where she could have vanished. It is not the first time that she has run away but this time she’s covered her tracks really well and it’s quite obvious she doesn’t want to be found. My padawan and some of his friends have been trying to locate her. Trying to think where she might have gone or whom she might be staying with. Spider has been contacting her former school friends incase Jemmiah has approached one of them for help but so far there hasn’t been any word. Rela’s been searching too and has promised to keep in touch should she hear anything. She’s been spreading word round the cantinas that Jemmiah’s been known to frequent. Force, somebody has to know something…

The last few weeks have not been kind to anybody but especially so for Evla. I’ve tried to reassure her that she will turn up safe and well but with every passing day that hope seems to diminish even further. How do you find someone who doesn’t want to be found? Or worse still, can’t be found…

No, I won’t think like that.

She’s still on Coruscant, of that much I feel certain. When she left she took only the money she had on her which couldn’t have been very much, her diary and the hair clasp I gave her when she was ten. She’s certainly not going to get very far with that inventory. That’s the worrying thing. Maybe she doesn’t expect to. Captain Demodae’s been searching as well, putting the word around the smugglers and freighter haulers that do business, legitimate or otherwise, incase she tries to hitch a ride or stowaway.

My padawan is beside himself with worry. He and Mace are out searching the lower levels at the moment, working on the theory that if Jemmiah has little money then she will try to find somewhere inexpensive to hide away. Obi-Wan doesn’t seem too confidant of finding anything valuable to our search but he continues doggedly so that he can keep his mind occupied and busy himself in a productive way. That’s what we are all doing. He’s blaming himself for not spotting that something was amiss earlier on.

The first we knew of Jemmiah’s disappearance was on discovering a note written on flimsy plast. Evla had left to go on her night shift with the initiates and it wasn’t discovered until her return some four hours later. There was a note enclosed with her own addressed to my padawan which Obi-Wan guards doggedly and refuses to let either of us share. He says it is personal and won’t hand it over but he assures me that it does not give any clues as to her whereabouts. I believe him. Nobody wishes her found more than he does.

Evla’s letter simply said: "I’m sorry. Please forgive me."

Leona has volunteered to help me search and I have accepted her offer more than willingly. It’s guilt, mostly. Guilt for not having listened to her in the first place. She’s tired after her long stint in the infirmary and I have no right to ask any more of her, but her presence is a comfort I will not deny myself at this time. An-Paj has been contacting all the hospitals on Coruscant, of which there are many. So far there has been no response and I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. Part of me wants so much for her to be found as quickly as possible that I’ve been secretly wishing for her to be safe in some other hospital bed.

What kind of man does that make me, to wish suffering on someone so that my own would end?

I made a promise over seven years ago to keep her safe and I have failed yet again. Leona insists that I do not shoulder the blame for this because it was an impossible promise to keep.

Who else is there to blame?
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