After the Battle
by dilly r

The streets are alive with celebration below the room where Obi-Wan Kenobi was left. He has folded the blinds and drawn the drapes to block the sunlight and the spectacular balcony view, but he can not shut out the sound of it. He should be able to meditate regardless of any outside distractions, but not today.

He has experienced as much in the past few hours as he expected to experience in the next few decades: the death of his master, his own knighting, taking a Padawan. He hadn't expected it to come quite in that order.

Soon, he will have to join the celebration.

He left Anakin with Yoda. Yoda is telling Anakin things, and Yoda is cutting Anakin's hair down to the Padawan style. Obi-Wan should be there, but he isn't. He hasn't even cut off his own braid or let down his own hair. He isn't ready.

A knock at the door startles him out of his thoughts. He is laying on his side in the great Nabooian style bed with it's thick, soft linens and feather-stuffed blankets. He does not want to get up, but there is another knock, and he forces himself to his feet.

He does not expect to see Padmé Amidala standing there in her white and pink gown calmly peering up at him, but she is there. Her face is not yet painted, and it looks as though there are layers of her dress yet to be applied.

Obi-Wan realizes he has been standing there, silently staring at her, for too long. "Yes, Milady?" he finally manages.

"I wanted to see you before we go down there. May I come in?" Her voice is flat and regal. It is strange coming out of her unpainted lips.

"Of course." Obi-Wan backs up a step to allow her entrance, then he closes the door.

Queen Amidala stands very still near the center of the room with her back toward Obi-Wan. Her narrow shoulders raise slightly with a deep intake of breath. "Sir Jedi, I do not think I've had the opportunity to thank you the way I should have."

"There's no need to thank me."

"I think there is." She turns around to look at him. Her voice softens. "I don't know you well, but I know that you sacrificed a great deal. I know that you lost someone dear to you, and that a large part of the reason you did was because he was helping us. Because of my decisions on how to handle the situation.

Obi-Wan moves away from the door. Closer. His hands behind his back. "Only a small part. No one forced Qui-Gon to do a thing in his life."

"I had that impression from the short time I knew him, yes." She smiles, but sadly. "I found myself at first frustrated by him, and then wanting his approval."

Obi-Wan almost laughs, but it comes out as breath pushed from his throat. "I had a similar reaction when I met him."

Queen Amidala looks at him intently, as if trying to see something inside of him. It is an uncomfortable feeling.

"I heard that you are taking Ani... young Anakin as an apprentice."

"Yes, I am. The official ceremony will take place in the Temple, but he will be dressed as a Padawan for the event."

She wraps her left hand around one of her narrow fingers -- a sign of nervousness he hadn't yet seen in her. "You'll take good care of him, then?"

"I shall try," Obi-Wan says. "Master Qui-Gon asked me to..." He finds himself unable to finish the sentence. He casts his eyes downward.

The sounds of the celebration below are overwhelming. The procession must be getting closer, Obi-Wan thinks. The delicate tips of Queen Amidala's shoes enter his view, and he looks up to find her no more than an arm's length away.

"I'd wanted to talk to you," she says quietly. "At the funeral, I'd wanted to say something. You seemed so alone. Even with everyone around you."

Obi-Wan swallows before he is certain he will be able to speak again. "Do you know your parents?"

She seems a bit stunned by the question. "O-of course."

"I don't. Most Jedi don't. We are taken as infants, then we are chosen by a master before our thirteenth birthday. We stay with them until we are knighted. Qui-Gon was more than a mentor. He was the center of my life." Obi-Wan pauses. "It's a grief that must be borne alone."

Queen Amidala is silent for a moment, then she steps forward. She reaches out, and she curls her hand into Obi-Wan's. She is looking up at him with a false serenity -- a neutral point between the fright and fearlessness jockeying for position in her expression.

"I can't understand your grief," she whispers. "But I do know what it is to be alone."

If it were not that particular day, he would have drawn away from her. If it were not that particular day, in that particular moment, he would find a polite way to drive her away from him. But the smoothness of her palm against his callused hand, her intense eyes looking up at him -- today, he can not deprive himself of humanity.

He laces his fingers around hers, and with his other hand, he cups her face. He dips his head down. He kisses her. Not a deep kiss or a long one. Barely the touch of skin against skin. Then, he puts his hand around to the back of her head and hugs her gently against his chest.

"Thank you," he says. Her eyes drift shut at the sound of his voice, and she presses her cheek against him. He says again, "Thank you."

She wraps her arms around his waist, and they stand together, very still, until one of Queen Amidala's handmaidens comes to tell them that it is almost time.

The battle is over. They will have to face the celebration.