The Shroud By LuvEwan

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I suppose it is ironic.

In the grand sweep of life, we are all blind to the truth.

And only allowed to see it in full glory when we are gone.

So at this moment, detached from my worldly form, a spirit hovering above the coarse, hot desert winds, I gaze at him.

For much of my existence, which is considered brief by normal standards, though I regard it as a painful eternity, I possessed an unbridled hatred for this man.

A man.

I smirk at the observation. The last time I stood facing him, he was but a child. A youth with glittering eyes and rounded jaw. A gangly Padawan in earth-toned tunics, nearly glowing in purity. The stench of boiling tar billowing thick around us, so quickly followed by the melancholy aroma of death.

Perhaps he had breathed it in deeply. Maybe he had relished it.

But, studying this ever-solitary form, trudging along the smooth, tan dunes, I know it was not so.

He never hated me. Not to the bone. Not with the blistering loathing that I imagined.

Of course, he tried. He is human, after all. And I belonged to the Dark. I was without conscience, red blade intent on destroying him and his Master. I was the shadow that followed Jinn, that shaded the boy from experiencing the full light of that roguish man.

I was the enemy.

In the simple line slashed between good and evil, we were on opposite ends. I was cursed to the black, while he flourished in luminescence. His was the soul that could not be tainted. I was the demon of dark mane and eyes chiseled from ice.

He understood that malevolence seethed in me.

Still, he could not despise me.

My hands were stained in the blood of others. My mind was corrupted by the tantalizing allure of wealth and power. I followed the path, lined by twisted, dead trees and shrieking, hollow-eyed crows. He clung to ancient teachings. Above all, he gripped onto his Master, and sealed his eyes against temptation.

So as I plunged off the side, and my skin bubbled, a distant part of his heart mourned.

And though I had expected to be damned to crackling flames, endless reliving of my numerous sins, I was lifted to the Force. I became one with that powerful entity.

It was then that the darkness was stripped from me, and I found the shroud pulled away.

I saw the Universe laid bare, everything revealed for what it was.

I glimpsed my father for the terrible, shriveled creature that he was. I was moved by the love hidden in Qui-Gon's heart, for a scoundrel who abandoned his Order, and his mentor.

Above all, I saw that Obi-Wan Kenobi was never my foe.

I had convinced myself that the gentle aura constantly surrounding the boy needed to be poisoned. I was intent on shattering the fragile child, the offspring of light.

Only he was not as delicate as I would have liked.

He fought.

Tenaciously, with fierce determination, unwavering focus.

The traits of a Jedi.

No.

The qualities of a hero.

I chuckle softly, watching him enter his little, rundown hovel.

From the beginning, the Force cradled him, and swathed him in brilliance. He ran faster, jumped higher, battled harder.loved stronger.

For if I have noticed nothing else, I have seen the very depth of Kenobi's affection. Few reside at his core. Only Qui-Gon, Anakin, and scant others.

Yes, his apprentice continues to be beloved to this scarred warrior.

As he cannot hate me, he honestly cannot hate Skywalker.

When he decides to embrace someone, he does not do so hesitantly. He opens his arms wide, and will never release them. That fortunate soul will forever be showered with that precious, all-encompassing love.

Today, as I am a wraith, observing him in his dimly lit home, it dawns that no one but Skywalker is left. Everyone else who beat in his heart has gone.

And the thuds of the life-giving organ echo in his ears.

Reminding him of his aching loneliness.

In my time, I would have reveled in his suffering.

As the tears stung his paled eyes, and trickled down his sunburned cheeks, I would have laughed.

At this moment, I cannot.

I grasp the meaning of living now. Not in words can it be rightly expressed.

But in Obi-Wan Kenobi, it is kindled.

He faced the man who would have gladly murdered him and his teacher, and did not hate.

He was not without the venom of sin, for he surely did hate the Sith who cut down Qui-Gon, though the stroke that sliced the tattooed creature was born of defense.

And, another imperfection marred this otherwise flawless being. Jealousy. It flared in him too often, a cloud that hazed his vision. An agony that lanced through his heart.

He could handle experiencing envy, if it was due to anything else---save his Master.

Then he could hardly bear it.

First it was me. He was an innocent child, immediately attached to Qui-Gon, and thoroughly adoring him. He was also insecure, and it was that uncertainty that festered in him whenever his Master was distracted by memory, lost in regret and guilt.

Then, Jinn discovered his intimate love for Tahl, and the boy's only real family was stolen away once more. He endured the slighting quietly, as was his way. When the woman died, he offered his Master anything. Beyond condolences. He would have laid down his very life to alleviate Qui-Gon's pain.

Finally, after countless nights spent in cold solitude, Obi-Wan was given the full, warm attention of his Master. It was then that he blossomed. When the stars were placed in his eyes, and shone brightly there.

He was blissfully happy, and managed to forget.

Until Anakin Skywalker barreled into their lives. The dusty lad ripped Qui- Gon from him, and the feeling of ineptness was etched into his wounded mind.

When he trained that despicable boy, he swallowed his grief and resentment, giving every last shred of himself. It left him here, lamenting over wrongs that were never his.

He would, will, believe, until the day he is allowed die, he was unworthy of Jinn.

That is, ultimately, why he cannot bring himself to hate me.

I think that when he last looked upon me, when our eyes locked for a quick, tense second, he penetrated my extensive, solid shielding, and saw what was concealed beneath.

I too, loved Qui-Gon Jinn, as my father, my friend. I strove to please him, to evoke pride. And he seemed content with me. But, in those thoughts buried in the foggiest corridors of my psyche, I never believed he was. I imagined that he secretly waited for me to improve, and masqueraded his disappointment. He wanted the perfect apprentice.

Someone who never, and could never have, existed.

I shoved him away, when I could stand no more. My father claimed to care for me, and I forced myself to hate Qui-Gon for killing him. I branded my cheek with the half-circle, with the testament to my newfound aversion.

It was a comfort.

Yet, Obi-Wan Kenobi couldn't find his own. He would not leave the man who continually, albeit obliviously, hurt him. He attempted to be the immaculate protégé that his Master desired. He trained throughout the night, took on extra assignments when his load was already overly heavy.

Sometimes, he thought of me. During a starless twilight, with sweat coursing down his golden-hued forehead, he remembered what I had been before my turning.

I think that he feared what I had become. Because I had once been what he was.

And we shared the same vice.

We both needed the approval and support of Qui-Gon Jinn.

I was foolish, I did not realize he had loved me, and that he would be so absorbed in his lingering feelings it would detract from his commitment to Obi-Wan.

I do not hate Obi-Wan Kenobi.

He was the most compassionate of the Order, of any race. Man of steady resolve and striking intelligence. His beauty only rivaled by his kindness.

And the loneliness was his companion. Unless Qui-Gon ushered him into the shelter of his arms, he stayed in the chilly corner. He waited for him to fill the empty chasm of his soul.

And he waits still.

He shuffles to his beaten, tattered sleepcouch, and collapses. He has accepted that this will be his home.

I know differently.

For Obi-Wan Kenobi, his home has always been the Force.

For him, and for me, it is our destiny.

Two avenues, foreign to one another, leading to a single, illuminated passageway.

I drift from the silent, barren room, back to the refuge of our promised land, where we will meet again.

He is unaware, ginger lashes curled against his skin. He does not feel the warmth draped over his body, by the mentor he had believed would never love him.

I can leave, knowing he will be looked after.

Our Master watches over him. Always.

And I, doomed to be remembered as the fallen Jedi, comprehend.

It is the will of the Force.