A/N: I found this floating in some old drawers when I was getting ready to go back to school. So this story is rather on the oldish side, but I spruced it up and I think it's now fit for human consumption. BTW, this is an alternate ending to Ep. 1. I know it definitely doesn't fit in with the humor of the previous chapters, but if you read the second A/N at the end, I address that.
Part Five: The Last Song
Qui-Gon walked down the grand halls of the palace, his soft boots making the only sound. His hood was drawn up over his face, his arms tucked into his sleeves. To most observers, his face would have seemed safely neutral. However, anyone who had known him long enough would know he was only just masking his grief until he was alone.
That was the most horrible meeting he had ever gone to. Enduring the Council's endless questions, relating the events of and leading up to the battle of Naboo, the Sith, Obi-Wan… everything.
He bowed his head at the thought of his apprentice. Obi-Wan, his Obi-Wan. How could the Master Jedi have been so stupid as to give the Sith an opening? Hadn't the Padawan proved to him long ago that he would take any shot or blade in his mentor's place? Hadn't the Padawan been willing to die for his Master without restraint on so many occasions?
He could still remember the shock and betrayal sifting through their bond when Qui-Gon announced his intentions to take Anakin as his Padawan. He could sense the young man's old feelings of unworthiness coming back that Qui-Gon had spent years and years trying to get rid of. And it was now, when he needed the Padawan the most, that he wasn't there. That no gentle, calm voice would return his mental summons.
Small footsteps shook him from his thoughts. He had to stop himself from reaching for his lightsaber. Since that battle he had been more jittery and prone to being caught off-guard as he was lost in his memories and regrets. But it was only Anakin looking for his wayward mentor.
A day ago, the sight of the child would brighten his whole day. Now, he was only a reminder of what he had lost. Obi-Wan had been afraid of the boy, as was the Jedi Council. Few things could truly frighten his headstrong but logical Padawan. Fewer still could rattle the Council as they were rattled by this boy.
Qui-Gon originally thought this fear in Obi-Wan was due to jealousy and a need to beat this new rival for affection. He thought the Council was merely being pig-headed and rigid to change as usual. But lately his meditations, usually so focused within the Living Force, were showing him things. Things that made him wish he had heard out the fears when they were spoken to him instead of tossing them aside.
"Um… Master Qui-Gon, sir?" Anakin began hesitantly. His face was uncertain but hopeful. He wanted something, that much one could tell without using the Force.
"Yes, Anakin?" The Master asked, his voice even and calm. No hint of grief could be found in his countenance. He didn't want to upset or confuse the boy.
"Well… Yoda just called me to talk to him. He said that… that I would be trained at the Temple but not by you. Why is that?"
The Jedi Master sighed. There was so much this small one didn't understand about their ways through no fault of his own. Training such an old student would be difficult, much more difficult than one trained from infanthood.
"Sir? You said you would train me."
"Anakin, when a Jedi loses their Padawan either to… death, the Dark Side, or to Knighthood they do not take a student for at least a year or more. A student taken in before then might be seen as a replacement and it is not fair to the Master or Padawan. And the Master would not want to choose a student for the wrong reasons."
He could tell that Anakin was beginning to understand, but was still not satisfied. "So it's because Obi-Wan died and you don't want to think of me as his replacement?"
How could the boy speak so casually about the young Jedi's death? Qui-Gon knew that the two rarely had talked and that the underlying friction between them started as they left the Temple caused them to stay even further away. Therefore, the boy logically couldn't feel much besides regret from the Padawan's death. However it still hurt to think that Obi-Wan meant so little to someone.
"Ani, you have to understand that I think of Obi-Wan as my son. I loved him very much and I need time to come to terms with what happened."
The boy nodded, but his disappointment was evident. "I understand. I'm sorry."
"Don't be. It's not your fault. Now run along and play. Today is a day of celebration."
The boy did so, leaving the Master to his thoughts. Part of him wished he had stayed despite orders. It was what Obi-Wan would have done. Too stubborn and too knowing to leave his Master in this state of distress.
He halted his thoughts immediately. Hadn't he learned long ago not to compare Padawan? Hadn't Obi-Wan's heart been trampled on time and time again because Qui-Gon couldn't stop comparing him to Xanatos? He wouldn't do the same to Anakin.
"Qui-Gon?" a soft voice broke his train of thought once more. Looking up through his hood, the grieving Master saw a much beloved form at the end of the hallway.
"Master Sifodyas, I didn't know you would be here." He tried to bow respectfully to his former mentor, but he was prevented by a gentle push through the Force.
"My boy, do not use such formality with me. It is I who should bow to you."
"I do not feel I deserve any respect for yesterday," Qui-Gon said softly, modestly. He bowed his head forward, his hood hiding his sorrowful expression. He could hold his bearing in front of the others, Jedi and Nubians alike. But he could never hide this from his old Master.
The elder Jedi looked upon his former apprentice with compassion. It broke his heart to see the man grieving so, especially after everything he had gone through already in his life. "You and your Padawan saved a planet. Further lives have been saved from that Sith. You are a hero to these people. And you paid a great price for your valor."
Qui-Gon shook his head, still hidden by the long hood. "It is a price that is too expensive. A Master should not have to light their Padawan's pyre."
Sifodyas agreed solemnly. "And I thank the Force that I do not have to light the pyre of mine."
"I knew my time was drawing near. I had had a lifetime lived and I was ready. It is I who should have gone. I can feel it. But Obi-Wan," he let out a half laugh in exasperation. "He was so stubborn, so…"
The aged Jedi smiled gently and clasped Qui-Gon's drooped shoulder. "Your Padawan always was the more headstrong of you two. I suspect he too knew of your vision and fought it like he did all things that didn't please him. Stand tall, my Padawan. His life was given to you as a gift. Do not reject it, for he gave it happily and without regrets. He was among the greatest of his generation, even the Council must admit it. Be proud of him, of his love for you."
The great Qui-Gon Jinn was reduced to tears as he looked into his old mentor's ice blue eyes. "That does not make the pain lessen. The Force is weeping. I can hear him crying." He felt and sounded like a young boy, but could not feel the shame to care. He could hear Obi-Wan crying through the Force as well as if the boy were weeping on his shoulder.
Sifodyas closed his own eyes and felt the Force around him. When he opened his eyes, he looked sad as well. "The Force always weeps for lives taken before their time. Especially for ones with the power he possessed. He cries for you, Qui-Gon, for your tears." He led the way down the long passageway toward a back room near the palace's holy temple. "The Council is waiting for you. It is nearly sunset."
"Who else will be there?" Qui-Gon asked, quickly composing himself from his earlier breakdown. No tears remained now, nor any other hint of grief. He was the perfect model of the benevolent Master.
"The Queen, some high officials. A few of Obi-Wan's classmates arrived earlier today as well. They will no doubt be there. No one needs to be there if you don't want them."
"No," the younger Master said. "They need to be there as much as I do. And the Knighting Ceremony?"
"Public, like any other."
They reached the door at last. Opened, it revealed a medium sized room with a dais in the middle that was bare to the sky. Forming a semi-circle around the dais stood the entire Jedi Council. Normally the entire Council would not come to a simple funeral of a fallen Knight, but this was a special circumstance. This certain Knight had been a personal favorite of the two Senior Councilors. The circumstances surrounding his death were also unusual enough to attract the rest of the Council.
On the other side of the dais stood the Queen, her entourage of maidens, and much of the higher Nubian officials. Most of them had probably never even spoken to the introverted Padawan, although many of the handmaidens had been enamored with him. You didn't need to sense it through the Fore to know this. The rest were probably there out of obligation. Out of them all, Qui-Gon sensed true loss from only the kind Queen and the head of her guard who had respected the younger man's skills.
On the other side opposite Qui-Gon stood a group of Knights, Masters, and Padawans. Some former classmates, some instructors. All were touched by the young life cut down so early. The Master recognized each member of the small group of friends his Padawan had run with since infanthood. Some had reached Knighthood recently. Others still had their braids. It was a somber reunion for the good friends.
Sifodyas sent a comforting wave through the Force and took his place near the friends of the deceased. The funeral had begun.
As Qui-Gon stepped up to the raised pyre, Yoda limped forward to meet him there. His large green ears were drooped and his shoulders bent with burden. He leaned heavier on his gimer stick than usual. It was no secret that he the dead Padawan on the dais was a favorite of the aged Master.
As a member of the Council, Yoda was not supposed to have favorites. Yet he championed the young man's cause more than he ought; personally oversaw his training until he knew he was under the wing of his Padawan's Padawan. News of young Obi-Wan's death obviously caused him deep grief. Grief that the wisest of the old Masters should not have.
The platform that held the body was low enough for the small Master to reach his hand up. Placing a small clawed hand on young Obi-Wan's forehead, Yoda closed his own eyes and spoke so softly that not even Qui-Gon, who was right behind him, could hear him. It was just as well, for his final farewell was for Obi-Wan alone.
When he was done, Yoda turned back to Qui-Gon.
"It is time."
That was the cue the Council needed to approach the dais. Master Windu stepped from the line to address those in attendance. "Here before us is Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi, of the Year of Ten Thousand Stars, apprentice to Master Qui-Gon Jinn of the Year of the Twin Rose. After 13 years of apprenticeship, Obi-Wan has gone through both triumph and defeat. This mission to free the planet of Naboo was to be one of many trials to determine the readiness of Kenobi for the status of Knighthood.
"Yesterday, he and his Master faced and defeated a confirmed Sith warrior who threatened the safety of Naboo. Padawan Kenobi fell to the Sith's blade, giving his Master the opening to take the enemy..."
Qui-Gon could feel the eyes of many upon him as the story of the battle went on. His bowed, hooded head remained fixed on his student's peaceful face. That was how he had died in Qui-Gon's arms. With all the serenity he had held in life. And the stoic, stern Master weeping like a Youngling.
Master Windu continued to talk about Obi-Wan's accomplishments as an Initiate. How eager he was to do well in everything he did. How eventually his instructors had to give him some Padawan level lessons so he wouldn't be so bored as to cause mischief.
Qui-Gon saw out of the corner of his eye as Bant let out a half laugh, half sob at the mention of her friend's impish ways. While Qui-Gon and the other Masters were able to perfectly control their emotions, his friends were not so skilled. He could not blame them entirely. All too often the young ones did not see their Knighting Ceremony. And Obi-Wan had been so close, held so much promise.
He turned his head away from the emotional group of friends and to Master Windu who was finishing the funeral eulogy. When he had said his peace, he fell back into rank next to Master Yoda. The small Master hesitated a moment before stepping forward.
The funeral had ended.
The Knighting had begun.
"Not often it is that promoted a Jedi is after death. However, spoken upon the matter the Council has and agree we do. A Knight young Kenobi died. A Knight young Kenobi will be remembered."
He turned to Qui-Gon and nodded. The Master would take the vows for his apprentice who could not answer. But the end result would be the same. Obi-Wan would be a Knight.
"Master Jinn," Yoda said. "Behave according to the Laws of the Jedi Code, did Padawan Kenobi?"
"He did." Qui-Gon's voice was firm and steady.
"Uphold them did he?"
"Honor, respect, and obey his betters did he?"
"Reject the Dark Side in all its forms did he?"
"Protect truth and justice with his life did he?"
Qui-Gon's throat constricted suddenly but he managed to answer properly. "He did."
Yoda paused again in quiet reflection. "Then a Knight he is." The elderly Jedi reached into his robes to produce a small vibro-blade. "A Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi died. Possessed inside he did every quality needed. Now a Knight on the outside he must be. Qui-Gon Jinn, taught your student well you did. Now release the Padawan from years of learning you must. So," his ears drooped slightly, "teach future generations he may. An example he has been and an example he will continue to be."
Qui-Gon took the blade to turn to Padawan-no-more. Now was the time for final goodbyes before the bond between them would be severed. But now there was no bond to cut anymore. Only an empty painful hole where a bright blue light used to reside. Therefore, instead of using the non-existent link, he reached deeply into the Force where he could feel Obi-Wan's shining light waiting to be called. Even changed by becoming one with the Force, he could not mistake his vibrant Padawan.
'Obi-Wan,' he called to him with all the affection he felt, 'Padawan. You came to me as a headstrong young boy at the age of 12 years old. I was your last chance to be a Jedi, and I would not take you even though I felt our connection nearly immediately. I was stubborn and foolish and it took you willing to die for me before I acknowledged what was there the entire time. We had many adventures, you and I.'
He let a finger trace the edge of the Padawan's face one last time. It was soft as ever, yet cold and lifeless. 'And I could never stop being selfish even for your sake. At first I wanted to stay as far away from you as I could. I didn't want to care about anyone else because I was afraid of making the same mistakes as with Xanatos. And in the past year…' he closed his eyes in shame. 'A year ago you could have passed the Trials and become a Knight. But I didn't want to let you go. I had to make up faults just to keep you with me. My folly and selfishness may have cost you your life. You always suffered for my stupidity. Forgive me, Padawan.'
The crystal-sapphire orb that had separated for a moment from the Force wrapped around his aching heart. The warmth and love that had always been Obi-Wan in life now filled Qui-Gon, easing the pain in a feather soft embrace.
'Master,' a faint voice soothed. 'Master…'
It… no, Obi-Wan said no more, but the Master felt the forgiveness he didn't deserve so freely given to him. But then, that had always been his Padawan's way.
'You were my most talented student,' Qui-Gon continued, knowing he should be finishing his good-bye soon. 'And one of the most talented at the Temple. My vision of you as a great and wise Knight was true, Obi-Wan. That future could have been yours. If only you hadn't taken that blade. It was my blade. It was my time. Yet you always did delight in defying destiny, didn't you? Your life has honored all it touched, and I am proud of being the one to guide you. As I made you a Padawan 13 years ago with a braid, I make you a Knight now with its removal. As a Knight you gave your life. As a Knight your memory will live on.'
'Master,' the soft voice breathed again, beginning to fade back into the Force. It was nearly time for the young Knight to return. But he would stay by his Master's side until the end of the ceremony.
Qui-Gon opened his eyes and took the long braid in his hands, fingering the beads that stood for each accomplishment, each obstacle overcome. The hair was soft. Newly cleaned.
"Welcome, Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi," he murmured almost reverently, shearing the braid in one quick move of the vibro-blade.
"Welcome, Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi," the Council repeated. "May the Force be with you."
Where the newly anointed Knight would have returned the blessing and bowed, there was only silence.
The ceremony over at last, Qui-Gon felt his Padawan-no-more recede back into the Force to spend the rest of eternity. Backing away from the pyre, the braid clenched tightly in his fist, the weary Master bowed. "May the Force always be with you," he whispered, knowing of the irony he spoke, but not caring in the slightest.
The next part needed no words. The actions said plenty for all in attendance. Igniting his lightsaber with decisive swiftness, Qui-Gon touched the green blade to the mat. The sticks of cinnamon and straw caught easily, sending the pyre up in flames. Someone gasped behind him, he did not know who. But he couldn't be bothered with finding out. All his attention was narrowed into one long dark tunnel where lay a boy in flames at the end.
Every instinct in him screamed loudly; demanded that he douse the flames. Jump into them to rescue the dear boy. Anything. Obi-Wan was only sleeping, couldn't everyone see that? He was hurting his Padawan! Obi-Wan hated the medical wing and when he awoke with burns, he would have to go. And he would gripe the whole time about how he was well and did not need treatment, and…
Someone was breathing raggedly and it took him a few minutes to realize it was he. His last remaining self control was teetering dangerously. And even that was limited, betraying his shattered psyche with a few treacherous tears. Masters were supposed to be strong! He couldn't lose even that much control! They would be looking at him, judging him.
"Obi-Wan," the broken Jedi whispered. The empty shell on the pyre made no response as it allowed itself to be consumed. No gentle rise of the chest relieved his torture.
Obi-Wan was dead.
He couldn't do this. He couldn't be strong enough to watch as the young man who had been his son faded into the ashes. How could Yoda do this, year after year? Watching as all his students grew old and died as he endured. Risking a glance over to the elderly Jedi, he could see the pain shining in those large round orbs. No, Master Yoda was no more immune or detached to the pain than he.
Just as he felt he could no longer take it anymore, he felt the gentle presence of his old Master supporting him. Then came Master Yoda's, and his old friend Mace… they all tried to ease the pain as best they could.
As much as he loved them, he didn't want them.
Then came the soft blue light, encasing his spirit once more. It wasn't supposed to separate from the Force again, yet it did all the same. Ever the rebel. As Obi-Wan's soft presence made itself know, Qui-Gon could feel the wonder and surprise of his friends, but they eventually backed off, leaving him in Obi-Wan's expert care. The young spirit said nothing as he wrapped his Master in the Force, but the meaning was clear. He wasn't there on the pyre so he couldn't be hurt. He was just fine. And this time he stayed for the rest of the funeral, until the last ember failed. When it was time for Obi-Wan to go at last, Qui-Gon wasn't ready to give him up. But give him up he did.
Because eventually you had to let the birdling fly away.
And sometimes their wings failed them and they fell.
So much could happen to a young bird on its own without its keeper's protection.
But as Obi-Wan showed him this evening, nothing could keep him from soaring.
End Part Five
A/N: This was going to be a separate one-shot, but I didn't think it stood strong enough on its own. What do you guys think? If you think it should be on its own, I can always change it
The answer to last update's trivia question was indeed '…I will be your slave' as said by Jareth in the wonderful movie Labyrinth.
Today's question will be a bit harder. Once again, fill in the blank. 'In the beginning the blank was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.'
Agentj0: Yay, you got it right! I really do appreciate your comment. I was unsure myself about whether it was over the top or not. I think it's one of those 'sounds funnier when you're actually talking about it at 3 in the morning with a crazy cousin' things. I know it would never happen in real life, and it's definitely not to be taken seriously. I apologize if you were offended, I should have probably thought it out better. If it makes you feel better, Qui-Gon will get his revenge in the next chapter : )
LuvObi: I'm rather partial to the meteor shower one myself. I'm glad you like it : ) Thank you so much for your support, I look forward to hearing from you again!
Rae of Rosemary: I'll do what I can, Rae. Thank you so much and I hope you keep on enjoying!
Lauren: Yay, you got the question right too! Great movie, isn't it? I'm glad to have put a smile on your face. : )
Amber75: Obi-Wan and Yoda? I can manage that. (goes off to write that down)
ERMonkey Burner of Cookies: lol. I love your sn! Thanks!
Sith Queen: Oh, revenge is definitely on my to-do list. Just you wait and see, girlie. I hope you feel better!
Night of the Land: Oooh, I like the way your mind works. (adds 'burnt veggies' to list) I could have fun with that one!
Jedi Keliam Kenobi: lol, I seem to be seeing your sn's quite often lately!