Disclaimer and such in Part 1
Padme leaned against the porch railing at the back of the treetop house. Inside she could hear the murmurings of goodnight wishes as each of her companions made his way to bed. She wished she could have such a luxury. It was the night after she had let Illyria go, and unfortunately, the evening directly following the worst lecture she had ever received from Qui-gon. He had reprimanded her for two good hours at least, asking for explanations and apologies, and then had proceeded to force her to clean the entire house, floor to ceiling. That had not been too bad, but the hours he had made her stand in various training stances were brutal. The worst part, though, had been when he had told her that when they returned to Coruscant he was going to take her in front of the council for questioning and sentencing. The shame she knew she would receive from that was more than she cared to think about.
Rubbing her sore biceps below the gauze that covered her slowly recovering wounds, Padme closed her eyes. Every muscle in her body ached. She had tried earlier to ease them with a nice, hot bath, but that had only provided minimal comfort. She knew that it was her stress that was causing her muscles to be even more sore than usual, but she couldn't relax at all. The prospect of defending a whim in front of the Council was not a fun one. And adding to her stress, Qui-gon had decided that she not be a part of all meetings concerning any future courses of action. The days just kept getting better and better.
Padme looked down at herself. Her hair curled down her back in soft waves, now that it was dry and devoid of her Padawan braids, save the lone one that was tucked lightly behind her right ear. She had forgone her regular garb to wash it after her bath and had instead put on an emerald colored dress she had found in one of the sanctuary's wardrobes. It was simple, with bell sleeves, a square cut neck, and an a-symmetrical hemline that rested around her knees. Plain, but flattering all the same. As she fingered the tie at her lower back, Padme sighed. Without her braids, garb, or inclusion in meetings, she felt less like a Jedi than when she was a little girl on Naboo and had not yet even joined the Order. Tears threatened to spill from her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. It was a small solace, but she felt much more like a Jedi if she could keep her emotions in check.
The sound of approaching footsteps quickly brought Padme out of her reverie. Turning her head to the right, she saw Master Antol smiling and heading in her direction. A confused look came onto her face as the older man settled himself against the railing beside her.
"Master Antol." Padme inclined her head out of respect, but the question in her voice did not go unnoticed by her companion. It was not often that Rohhe spoke to her. Their conversations were usually limited to small pleasantries, and had never ventured into a long, personal discussions. It seemed odd that he would extend that offer now.
"Qui-gon can be stubborn sometimes." Rohhe said after a few moments of silence.
Padme's eyebrows itched ot shoot up at the remark, but her face remained neutral as he continued.
"He told me of his decision to take you before the Council, and while I agree that it is the best course of action, Padawan Naberrie, may I impart with you a few words of wisdom that my master once told me?"
Padme could do nothing but look at him with confusion and nod her head. Rohhe smiled to himself at her loss of words.
"I know that Qui-gon is your Master and that you have sworn an oath to the Jedi Order, but please remember this, young Padawan, these things are not what is the most important. It is the Force, and the Force alone, that you must listen to, even if it goes against what the Order tells you."
This time Padme's eyebrows did shoot up. What he had just said made perfect sense, but it was hard for her to justify going against the rules of the Order. Sure, she had gone against them in the past, but she could never justify doing so.
"Master Antol..." She began as her brows furrowed together in thought, but the older Jedi cut her off with a raised hand.
"Padawan Naberrie," he smiled and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, "just think about what I said for the future."
Padme looked into his eyes for a long time. Something in his voice and the way his eyes twinkled didn't quite seem to make sense. The future? Were they still talking about her situation with Qui-gon and Illyria? For some reason she felt as if he was alluding to something else, but she had no idea as to what it could be.
Rohhe squeezed her shoulder before letting it go and softly pushed himself off of the railing.
"Get some sleep, Padme. It has been a long day for you, and I sense that things will not be getting any easier."
Padme wanted to ask what he meant by that, but the words died in her mouth as he turned his back towards her and walked into the house. With a sigh, she turned back to the dark forest canopy.
There were only a few stars visible through the thick leaves and branches, but it still was nice to see something somewhat familiar on the much-too-foreign jungle planet. She had had nothing but trouble since they had crashed on Iagone. First with injury, then with meeting Illyria, and now with Qui-gon. Plus, to add to it all, she had new and confusing feelings for the man she had thought only to be her best friend. She wished everything would just start to make at least a little sense. As tears once again tried to spill from her eyes, Padme looked to the heavens and started to pray.
"Force, I know I can't contact you directly, but, please, guide me..." Padme's eyes glanced at the nearby lit-up window as she saw Obi-wan's projected silhouette move along the cloth drapes, soon followed by Qui-gon's.
"...in everything." She finished with a whisper.
Heeding Master Antol's advice, Padme sniffed away the offending tears that had yet to fall, and made her way around the porch to her chamber. Tomorrow was another day, but at the moment, getting away from the world of the conscious was the most appealing idea she had heard in a very long time.
Obi-wan sighed as he sat alone in the dark living room. It was well into the early hours of the morning, and he still could not sleep. The events of the past few days had left him utterly disturbed and uncomfortable. First the attack with the Iagonians, then watching Padme get punished, and finally the decree that Padme was no longer allowed in strategical meetings. The other punishments she had received he could live with, and even a few agree with, but to seclude her from important planning, that he could not accept. They had come to Iagone as four Jedi on a research mission. Now, to exile one of them to pretty much the status of civilian distressed Obi-wan completely. At the beginning of the evening, when he first learned the news, he had been beside himself with shock and anger, but he had set those feelings aside for the moment and was now simply trying to work out a way to persuade Master Jinn into temporarily forgetting the punishments he placed on his padawan, and, instead, let her be the asset he knew she was to the team. The solutions, however, were few and far between. Obi-wan knew that once Qui-gon made up his mind there was no changing it, regardless of the situation.
Craning his neck from side to side, Obi-wan felt his muscles begin to stiffen. All this stress and no way of accessing the Force to relieve it was really taking a toll on him. He had even gone to Lieutenant Canton earlier to hear more about the relaxation techniques he had been teaching Padme for her stress, but it was of no use. After just five minute of listening to the man talk, Obi-wan had become so irritated with his niceties that he stood up and left the room without a word. He had thought that perhaps if he and Canton weren't discussing Padme then he would be able to tolerate him, but that just was not the case. The man was plain irritating, no matter what the context.
Forcing all thoughts of the disturbingly perfect lieutenant out of his head, Obi-wan stood up. His musings were getting him nowhere. He was more tense now than he was when he first sat down, fuming about Padme's situation. Scratching his thickening beard, he started down the short hallway to the refresher. A nice, long shower was just what he needed to calm himself down. At least under the hot water he could relieve his aching body, if not his aching mind.
Shutting the door and undressing, Obi-wan gently turned the hot water knob and waited until the room was filled entirely with steam before he parted the long, cloth curtain and stepped into the metal basin of the tub. Once the warmth of the water hit his bare chest, he knew he had been right in assuming a shower was the perfect remedy for his melancholy. It soothed his sore muscles, especially the ones under the wounds on his abdomen.
Leaning his head against the wood panels of the wall, Obi-wan let the beads of water flow down his back. The pulsating stream of warm water did wonders for his tension, but his mind was still focusing on other things besides relaxation. One, namely, being the young padawan he called his best friend. She was all he had been able to think about for the last few days.
It had been incredibly hard for him watch Master Jinn punish her in the way that he had, and to hear that she would be sent in front of the Jedi Council for sentencing was heart-breaking. Padawans had been kicked out of the Order for doing less than Padme had done. He didn't want to lose his best friend, but he was almost certain that she would be stripped of her title if things didn't work out well on Iagone.
Sighing, Obi-wan scrubbed some soap into his hair. Why were things so complicated? He thought back to when he and Padme had awoken the previous morning in each other's arms. It had felt so natural to him, so right. Even now, he didn't know why he hadn't kissed her, because, as startling a discovery as it was, he had wanted to, very badly. He still wanted to, in fact, which unsettled him even more, because he knew Padme would not be like the girls he had chased after when he was younger. She would not be a one-night stand. No, he knew if he started anything with her, it would be lifelong, and that scared him. It was against the rules and everything that had ever been taught to him. Things like that were strictly forbidden, and would not be tolerated in any form. Both of them would be thrown out of the Order and made shameful examples to all Jedi, new or old.
"But I don't care," Obi-wan whispered out loud.
He paused as his own words hit him. When had Padme become more important to him than the Order?
As much as it shocked him to the core, he could not deny that it was true. Some time during their constant bickering and playful banter, he had let her in, under his skin, and had begun to care for her, deeply.
The sound of knocking on the refresher door brought Obi-wan out of his thoughts.
"Padawan?" came Rohhe's muffled voice.
"I'll be out in a minute, master," Obi-wan managed to choke out after a few minutes of silence.
"Alright," Rohhe said, although a hint of question could be heard in his voice, "but make it quick. We do not want to be detected." Obi-wan could hear his master's retreating footsteps almost immediately.
Reaching to turn off the hot water, Obi-wan paused and looked down at himself. He was trembling. Admitting to himself that his best friend meant more to him than the order he swore his life to left him feeling slightly jarred. Placing his hands on the wall, he once again leaned his head against the cool wood he found there. Force, he needed time. Time to sort out his feelings, time to figure out what he was going to do about them, but he knew that was not a luxury he was going to get any time soon. With a sad sigh he pushed himself upright.
'So much for a shower relaxing me,' he thought while stepping out of the tub. Quickly toweling off, he pulled on his breeches and inner tunic and opened the door to the hallway. As silently as possible, Obi-wan made his way to his bedroom and crawled into the bed he shared with his master. He knew Rohhe was still awake, but also knew that he would not ask any questions as to why his padawan was taking a shower at such a late hour.
Mentally thanking the Force for such an understanding master, Obi-wan closed his eyes and tried as best he could to fall asleep.
'Only twelve more days,' was the young padawan's last thought before fatigue overtook him and he finally got the rest he deserved.
I'm sorry it took me so long to update this, but real life, yet again, has been getting in the way. I've been doing schooling in France for the past few months, so I didn't have much access to the internet. However, now that I'm back in the states, I will try to update more often. Just rest assured that I do not plan on giving up on this story. I will update, it just may not come very frequently.
Anyway, I hope you liked this chapter. Thank you to all of my faithful readers and my wonderful beta! Special thanks to:
Jedi Keladry: Thank you so much for all of the lovely reviews and critiques you have given my work. I really appreciate your comments and corrections. They really help me with my writing and inspiration.
sassy-satine: Sorry to keep you waiting so long! But I do thank you for your patience, and of course for your wonderful reviews of the past few chapters. I hope you enjoyed this chapter too.
Saskia: Thank you so much for your reviews! I also appreciate the e-mail of concern you sent me. I'm here and all right! Hopefully this chapter met up to your standards.