Obi-Wan Kenobi stood on a stone balcony overlooking the city of Theed. The stars overhead shone down on the polished streets and reflected off of the glistening waterfalls, the sound of which created the only noise audible in the silent night. A cool breeze emanated from the waterfalls creating a brief respite from the warm Nubian night. He leaned forward, bracing his hands on the balcony rail and contemplated the evening’s events.
The arrival on Naboo had been uneventful. Upon disembarking, Obi-Wan and his 13- year old apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, had been greeted warmly by Queen Padme Naberrie Amidala. Both noted with delight that she had foregone the stylish facial decorations that had characterized her early years as ruler.
“Greetings, Jedi Kenobi and Skywalker, ” greeted the queen, “We welcome you to Naboo.”
Obi-Wan bowed and replied, “It is an honor to assist you. We come to serve.”
“Your help is greatly appreciated, ” answered the queen gravely, “How are you, Anakin?”
“I’m doing well, thank you, Your Highness,” smiled Anakin. He was always happy to visit Theed. The queen seemed standoffish to some, but not to those who knew her well, as Obi-Wan and Anakin did.
After greeting Governor Bibble and Captain Panaka, the two Jedi were shown to their quarters to settle in before dinner. The afternoon passed quickly, accentuated by the arrival of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine on a rare visit from Coruscant. By evening, the dinner was set and the guests seated.
“It is a pleasure, Your Highness,” remarked the chancellor, “to see that you have discarded the facial decorations of your youth.”
“You forget, Chancellor,” answered the queen, “that the decorations were needed because of my youth. While my election was proper, there are systems which would not have taken such a young ruler seriously.”
“I, for one, applaud the change, “announced Obi-Wan. “Your Highness looks more lovely with each year.” He stifled a grin.
“At least this way, we know for sure who the queen is and is not,” laughed Anakin. The rest of the guests concurred with a polite chuckle.
“And, Your Highness, I am greatly pleased that you have finally agreed to the establishment of a standing army,” replied the chancellor.
“I find the idea of warfare distasteful, Chancellor,” whispered the queen, “But I will not see my people oppressed again.”
“Forewarned is forearmed,” cautioned Obi-Wan, “The Trade Federation is long gone, but it is important that the Naboo feel secure in their homes and persons.”
The queen nodded her assent. Although the Trade Federation had been ousted from the planet nearly five years ago, the people of Naboo had never forgotten the oppression under which they had suffered. Those memories ran deep and they were determined never to feel that vulnerable again. Consequently, under pressure from the Supreme Chancellor, Queen Amidala had agreed to the establishment of a standing army on Naboo. In concert with the Gungan army, the joint services would be conducting practice maneuvers over the next several days. The Supreme Chancellor had requested that the Jedi Knights provide advisors to the Naboo in this matter and, knowing the queen’s particular fondness for these two Jedi, had asked that 29- year old Obi-Wan Kenobi and his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, serve in this manner.
After dinner, the guests retired to their private quarters to make preparations for the next day’s activities. The queen and her handmaidens returned to her chambers. After the handmaidens were dismissed, Queen Amidala examined various reports from Theed Security when a knock at the door sounded. Her bodyguard, Sabe, moved across the room and opened it.
Smiling at the visitors, Sabe announced, “Jedi Kenobi and Skywalker to see you, Your Highness.”
The queen happily put down her work and warmly greeted her two friends. Anakin had grown several inches and his voice was cracking; she took pains to acknowledge the former and ignore the latter. She also noticed, with great appreciation, that, while responsibility had matured Obi-Wan, he still had that unmistakable gleam of mischief in his eye. Taking seats, the trio proceeded to catch up on their activities since last meeting.
“Tell me,” smiled Obi-Wan, “Do you still rely on that handmaiden of yours to provide a decoy for unsuspecting persons?”
“Not at all,” she returned his smug grin, “I’ve grown quite adept at my self-defense lessons. I’m pleased to say that Sabe poses as me only in extremely dangerous situations.”
“Such as formal dinners with Boss Nass?” suggested Obi-Wan. When the queen began to protest, he continued, “Any outing with Jar Jar? Come now, Padme, I can only imagine the terrible dangers that exist in the horrific day to day life of the queen of Naboo.”
“Forewarned is forearmed, Obi-Wan, ”
chastised the queen, throwing his own words back at him. She noted, with glee, the sparkle in those clear cerulean eyes of his, acquiescing the debate.
“Boring, ” yawned Anakin, “Padme, let’s talk about something more important.”
While in the company of others, the trio maintained a friendly formality. In private however, they were simply Padme, Obi-Wan, and Anakin. It was on this level that they laughed and discarded any pretense and privilege.
The subject turned to Anakin’s adventures with pod racing. He told Padme how he had sneaked into a pod race on Malastare without Obi-Wan’s knowledge. “You should have seen the look on his face!” laughed Anakin. “He didn’t find out until they announced my name. I thought he was going to jump in the pod with me.!”
He isn’t telling you about the hours of meditation assigned to him when the race was over,” Obi-Wan shook his head.
“It was worth every hour I spent meditating, too.”
“Come now, Obi-Wan, Anakin should be allowed some fun! Speaking of which, when are you going to get your own lightsaber, Ani?” Padme queried.
Kenobi gave a mock look of horror at the thought of Anakin coming within an inch of an actual lightsaber, but conceded, “He needs only to find the right focusing gem.”
It’s Anakin, not Ani! I’m not a little kid,
thought Anakin, but, stifling a yawn, voiced aloud, “He’s just afraid I’ll start beating him in Temple contests,”
“All work and no play…”wondered Padme,” Do Jedi ever relax and enjoy themselves?”
“We relaxed on Alderaan last month,” protested Kenobi.
“At the Harvest Festival?” she asked in surprise.
“No,” he admitted, “We mediated a disputed over which of the two ruling families had the right to the hereditary title of Viceroy.”
“Do you see what I mean?” she laughed, “Anyone with half a brain could have seen that the Organas had the proper claim. Why did they need a Jedi for that? I’ve made my point. All business, no pleasure.”
She gave him a pointed look and he made a feeble attempt at changing the subject. “Anakin’s asleep.” He noted, gesturing at the prone form of his sleeping apprentice stretched out on his back on the floor.
“He’s going to have a busy day tomorrow. Like all of us.” She whispered.
“He’s missed you. I think he feels more comfortable here than any place else. He…we…think of you as a friend,” Obi-Wan admitted.
“And I you. It’s difficult to maintain friendships with such responsibilty as mine. I find it difficult to know whom I can trust. My advisors are competent and my handmaidens loyal…but I have no confidant.” She said.
“I know exactly what you mean,” He acknowledged. “I sometimes feel that I am completely alone in the galaxy. I thought that, once I became a Jedi Knight, life would be easier. It’s unnerving to think that I don’t always have the answers for Anakin.”
“You are lonely, are you?” she wondered with amazement in her voice. “With all of your power, you are a very lonely person. No family, no close friends to speak of.”
“Guilty as charged, ” he shrugged. “It’s not a side of myself that ‘s seen very often. Qui-Gon was the only family I… ” His voice trailed off. No, not even Anakin had seen the not-so-self-assured side of Obi-Wan Kenobi. It was a compliment of the highest caliber that he shared it now with her.
“I think it makes you more human, “she said, her dark eyes accentuating the exotic features of her face. She averted those eyes quickly to avoid the direct stare of his own eyes.
“Human?” He raised his eyebrow. “I had no idea I had sprouted an extra eye!”
She suppressed a laugh, “You know what I mean. The Jedi have a reputation for passionless stoicism. I was merely pointing out that it’s refreshing to know that you don’t always know what to do.”
Anakin stirred on the floor, then settled back into sleep. Obi-Wan paused, “I suppose we should be going.”
Padme reached out and took his hand. “If you need someone to talk to, Obi-Wan, you’ll find I’m a good listener.”
“Thank you, ” he answered. Starting to get up, he glanced at her and their eyes locked. Simultaneously, they leaned toward each other and met in a deep kiss.
Wrapping his arms around her, he felt her hands clutch his shoulders. He slid his hand to her waist and planted kisses on her cheek. “Padme…I…”
The sound of a clearing throat stopped him.
The two adults slowly separated and turned their heads to see the now-very-much- awake apprentice looking at them with an expression born not of confusion, but of irritability. Propped up with his outstretched hands behind him, Anakin looked at the the two and dryly remarked, “Do you need to be alone?”
Quickly, Obi-Wan said his good-byes and, with his apprentice in tow ,quickly exited the queen’s quarters before an embarrassed silence enveloped them all. The door closed behind her, Padme turned and entered her private chambers. Soon, there was a small knock. Sabe stood at the door, staring back at the closed entrance which the queen’s friends had used in their hasty departure.
“Do you require anything, Your Highness?” she asked.
“No, thank you, Sabe,” whispered the queen.
With another look at the main entrance, Sabe responded, “No, I suppose not.” With that, she excused herself.
Obi-Wan and Anakin had quickly retreated to their shared quarters in the palace. Upon entering the rooms, Anakin had stalked into his bedchamber, bounced onto the bed, and thrown the blankets over him completely after giving his master one last glare.
With an awkward look, Obi-Wan moved silently onto the balcony. Looking out over the night sky, he thought about what had just happened. It was not easy being Anakin’s teacher. Most initiates were trained in the Temple from the first year of their lives. They learned to live under the will of the Force. The boy had had 10 years of being self-reliant, for a slave. He had been familiar and secure in his surroundings. Now, he was only one of a large array of force-sensitive individuals. He had taken some Temple training in order to catch up on what he had missed, but friendships were few and far between. The other initiates were wary of him, some hostile, some jealous, and some fearful. It was as if removing him from that miserable slave environment had made him less secure.
“Of course, it has,” came a voice from behind him. Obi-Wan whirled around to see the shimmering form of Qui-Gon Jinn.
“Master!”, he smiled, “How? I mean…you are…”
“In the Force, Obi-Wan, all things are possible, ” smiled Qui-Gon. ” I am one with the Force now…able to assist you when you are troubled. Such as now…”
“Training Anakin is harder than I expected, ” admitted Obi-Wan, ” I thought I could do a good job, but I’m barely a Jedi Knight myself.”
“You must understand, Obi-Wan, Anakin is very self-conscious about his own worth. Most of his life, he existed as property. Now, he is the virtual property of another ‘master’, one who makes his failings obvious. Remember, Anakin is well aware that the Council initially rejected him…and that you only agreed to take him on because of my request.”
“Does that mean that he thinks I don’t mean to train him properly?”
“Merely that you need to provide a proper example to him.”
“Master, I have followed the code to best of my ability! I’ve instructed, guided, disciplined when necessary… What more can I do?” he asked, exasperated.
“The example I speak of does not refer to your training of him.” cautioned Qui-Gon.
“Then what?” demanded Obi-Wan, then in a moment, he understood. “You’re talking about Padme, aren’t you? ”
“Obi-Wan, she is not part of your destiny.”
“Why not?” demanded the Jedi. “What does she have to do with the training of my own Padawan/”
“You are responsible for the example you set for him and the consequences of your actions.”
“I am responsible for my actions. What does that have to do with Anakin?”
“Obi-Wan, what we choose has a profound impact, not only on ourselves, but those around us. That is why innocents often suffer for the poor choices of others.” He answered with sympathy. “If you pursue this relationship, you affect your life, of course, but also her life and the lives of those around her. Anakin, too.”
“But it isn’t fair. We aren’t perfect, Qui-Gon. We are seekers, not saints,” he pressed, quoting an old Jedi adage.
“No, it isn’t fair, Obi-Wan. We are not, any of us, promised fairness in life anymore than we are guaranteed happiness or good health or longevity. But we cannot ignore that others look to us for an example. If we knowingly do what we shouldn’t, the galaxy would not look to us for impartiality or justice. You must trust the Force to guide you in this matter.”
The young man turned away and faced the shining landscape below. “Some rules are meant to be broken. You taught me that yourself. How many times did you break the Code for a cause you championed? Wouldn’t it be understood that I am a good person?”
“When I broke the code, “reproved Qui-Gon, “I did so for the greater good, not for my own selfish desires.” Seeing the younger man stung by the criticism, he softened his tone. “The code is not meant to punish, but to help us. While it does not expressly forbid romantic entanglements, it does warn against allowing them to cloud our judgment. It is our guide when difficult decisions are at hand.”
Qui-Gon stood beside his former apprentice. “Be wary…there is more at stake here than you realize.” The shimmering image faded into nothingness
For a long moment, Obi-Wan stared toward the sky at nothing in particular. Finally, he exhaled sharply through pursed lips and announced, “I can take responsibility for the insignificant consequences of any action I take. I hardly think the Republic is going to collapse because of one kiss.”
Leaving the balcony, he went back inside, walked past the sleeping form of Anakin Skywalker and prepared for bed.
To be continued…