Disclaimer: They don't belong to me until I figure out how to use a Jedi Mind Trick on George Lucas and have him sign the rights over to me. I'm so very close.

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The last glowing embers faded and died with the setting sun. Taking this to signal the end of the ceremony, the onlookers quietly began to go their separate ways into the night. Only Obi-Wan, Anakin, Mace, and the Queen lingered. Anakin looked up anxiously at Obi-Wan, who hadn't budged, but stood gazing at his Master's ashes on the pyre.

"Master Kenobi," the boy said softly, not wanting to be rude. Obi-Wan glanced down at him. "I'm sorry to disturb you, sir, but shouldn't we be going? It's getting dark, sir, and cold."

Obi-Wan didn't want to leave just yet, but felt a responsibility to his new Padawan. He sighed almost imperceptibly and was about to speak when Mace interrupted.

"Master Kenobi should take this time to be alone," Mace said. "I can escort you to your quarters, Padawan Skywalker."

Anakin looked from Mace to Obi-Wan, who nodded, then the boy turned to leave. Obi-Wan gave Mace a grateful look, which was answered with a slight nod. Then Mace turned and disappeared with Anakin back to the Theed Palace. Obi-Wan looked back to the pyre, lost in thought.

The Queen knew she should return to the Palace as well, but didn't want to leave the young Jedi alone. His face was stoic, but his eyes seemed sad and lonely. She debated whether it would just be best to leave him by himself, but finally decided she needed to say some words of condolence to him. Slowly, she walked up behind him. "Master Jedi."

Obi-Wan could sense that it was the Queen, but her tone lacked the cool, formal air she usually used. Instead it sounded warm and friendly, like it did when she allowed herself to relax under the guise of a handmaiden. He turned around and bowed slightly as he said, "Your Highness."

"Please, call me Padme," she insisted with a small smile. If there was ever a time to drop her hard exterior, this was it. She hoped the Jedi would allow himself to do the same, but he didn't return the cordiality. Brushing this aside, she continued slowly, "I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am for your loss. I regret that I did not get to know Master Jinn better. He seemed like a good man."

Remaining solemn, Obi-Wan looked down as he said quietly, "Qui-Gon was an excellent man, an excellent Jedi."

"I know, being his Padawan for so long, you must have loved him like a father," Padme said, hoping she wouldn't upset the young Jedi further. But to her surprise, he looked at her steadily.

"A Jedi does not love nor become attached to anyone."

Padme could not help but be taken aback by the comment. "Of course the Jedi do not marry, I know, but certainly one cannot help but develop certain bonds of friendship and brotherhood with his fellow Jedi."

"To a limited extent, Your Highness."

"But...this whole time, you've never even cried. Don't you at least feel grief?"

Obi-Wan's voice raised slightly. "Why should I feel grief? Master Qui-Gon is One with the Force. There's nothing I could do to change it." Padme could hear the masked frustration arising in his voice. "Besides," he continued, "crying would be an indication of fear, and weakness."

"How is it fear?" Padme said, her own voice starting to show anger with Obi-Wan's apparent lack of feelings.

"Fear of what's to happen to me now, or to Anakin..." his voice trailed off.

"What is to happen to Anakin?"

"I am taking him as my Padawan," Obi-Wan said, trying to muster confidence.

"Your Padawan? But, pardon my indiscretion Master Kenobi, is it wise for such a young Knight to take on that responsibility?"

Obi-Wan's eyes flashed indignantly, "Both myself and the Council have full confidence in my ability to train Anakin." He tried to sound bold, but his expression betrayed his weakness. Padme could see that the Jedi didn't have complete confidence in his own words. Obi-Wan took a moment to calm himself, then said evenly, "It's late, Your Highness, and I'm sure your guards would much rather have you back at the Palace than out here. I'll escort you back if you like."

"Thank you." They walked in silence down the marble pathways which lead back to the Palace. Obi-Wan kept his hand clasped behind his back, and stood a few feet from Padme. She was starting to feel very sorry for Obi-Wan, who despite his confident words, seemed apprehensive and worried. She decided to encourage him. "I didn't mean to offend you earlier, when I questioned your training Anakin. I obviously know very little of the ways of the Jedi."

"No, you were right in what you said, Your Highness," he replied quietly. "I'm not ready to have a Padawan. Certainly not one as powerful as Anakin. I shouldn't even be a Knight yet."

"Nonsense," she contradicted. "You proved yourself against that Sith. You're more than ready to be a Jedi Knight."

"Qui-Gon didn't seem to think so."

"What?" she asked, confused.

Obi-Wan now finally looked at her as they walked and he spoke, "He said I still had much to learn."

Padme shrugged. "Well, there's always more to learn. Didn't he endorse your being Knighted to the Council himself?"

"Only so he could take Anakin as his Padawan," Obi-Wan said slowly, looking forward now. She could see his jaw muscles tense as he clenched his teeth slightly, but angrily.

She wasn't sure what to say. "Well I'm sure he never would have said you were ready if he didn't think you were."

"Yes," Obi-Wan said quietly. "I'm sure you're right. I only hope I don't fail his wishes in training Anakin."

"Anakin's a very special boy, but you're also a very special man," she said cautiously. He looked at her questioningly for a moment. "You've shown great skill not only in fighting but in your wisdom. I'm sure you'll be a great mentor to Anakin." He was still staring at her, trying to gauge whether she was just trying to sugar coat her words or not. But he sensed that she was being sincere.

"Thank you for your confidence, M'Lady."

"Padme," she corrected.

"Padme," he said softly, but with the same respect he always addressed her with. They came to a stop next to her chamber door, under a softly glowing lantern. "I truly am grateful for your compassion and support."

"After all you and Master Jinn did for my people, it's the least I can do to say thank you." He nodded politely to her, and she paused before adding, "And I know I haven't known you very long or very well, but I only felt that... well, that you needed someone to share your feelings with at the moment."

Obi-Wan looked at her steadily. "Emotions are dangerous. They are very powerful and, if allowed to get out of control, can lead to the Dark Side."

His words sounded so full of wisdom and age which contrasted with the youthfulness she saw in his features. And yet he remained impassive in his expression. Padme thought of how much more young, vibrant, and full of life the Jedi would seem if only he would allow himself to smile more often. From what little she knew of him, she knew he had a wonderful wry sense of humour, but seemed to use it sparingly. She shook her head slightly. "I don't understand it sometimes."

"Understand what?"

"I don't understand how you can force yourself to be so cold and statuesque."

Obi-Wan opened his mouth slowly to say something in the contrary, but realised that he couldn't argue. So instead he merely gazed back at the young Queen steadily.

Padme continued. "Don't you ever just want to relax?"

"I have a duty to fulfill. You must understand that."

"Of course I understand that. Better than anyone. Which means I also know how much I just want to escape sometimes. Once in a while, I just need to remind myself that I'm not just a Queen. There's more to life than duty!" She moved a bit closer to him, and slowly placed her left hand gently on his cheek. "Don't you ever just want to feel, Obi-Wan?"

Stunned at the sudden feeling of her small, soft hand on his face, his jaw slacked a little. He took a few short breaths as he looked from her hand to her face, which was filled with compassion and earnestness. For a moment, she saw a flicker of pain in his eyes. Then it was gone, and he slowly reached up. With both his hands, already coarse and battle-hardened despite his youth, he gently pulled her hand away from his face. "It's not a matter of what I want, M'Lady."

She was still staring at him, but he was looking down at the ground. She could tell he was growing uncomfortable from his using the formal address. Still she was unable to comprehend it all, but decided not to press the issue any further. "I admire your strength of character, Master Jedi," she said, a little more coolly and formally than she intended.

He looked back at her and bowed again slightly. "Thank you, Your Highness. You really should be getting some rest before the ceremony tomorrow."

"Yes, of course." She paused, searching his eyes one last time for any hint of feeling. But he had reverted to his stoic coolness, which she was beginning to loathe. It wasn't right for the Jedi to be forced to suppress their feelings, she thought. But there seemed no way to get Obi-Wan to budge from his mindset. Perhaps she should really admire his fortitude. As Obi-Wan bowed again and started to head off down the hall, she called out to him softly. "Master Kenobi!"

He turned back. "Yes, Your Highness?"

"You are going to make an excellent Jedi Knight."

"Thank you, Your Highness," he replied with a nod, before turning to leave. Padme couldn't be certain, but she thought she saw a slight, amiable smile cross his lips.