The Jedi Change
Disclaimer: I am, regrettably, not at all affiliated with Lucasfilm, Lucasbooks, or any other entity of the Star Wars enterprise. StarWars characters belong only to George Lucas. The character of Siri Tachi belongs to Jude Watson.
Any similarities to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Chapter One-Confession of a Jedi
Siri kept the door close to her, neither smiling nor welcoming.
He would have to ask, and that hurt him. "May I come in?"
"Obi-Wan, it's late. I have been asked to speak before the Senate along with Masters Windu and Yoda very early in the morning. I'm exhausted. I do not want to fight with you any more."
"I am here to apologize," he told her softly. "I made an incredible assumption yesterday that was not only offensive but without base. I should have known better. I do know better. I have no excuse. Please forgive me."
Her expression told him that she had already done that. She gave him a short nod and replied, "Of course."
Siri gripped the lapels of her night rail tighter and cleared her throat. "Good night, Obi-Wan."
He put his hand on the door to stop her from closing it. "Siri, please? You are my best friend. Please let me talk to you."
They stared at each other for a moment before she, hesitatingly, allowed him entry.
Anakin's presence still resonated throughout the sparse but cozy apartment. It was a tangible energy that permeated the air, even after nearly a day. Images immediately flooded the Jedi master, and he fought to squelch them.
Obi-Wan could see them clearly. Siri had touched his former padawan with wondrous tenderness. Her lips had skimmed his brow. Anakin leaned into her embrace, his arms twining around her small waist. His face burrowed closer into the sweet spot on her neck, his breath on her ear. She held him tighter and wept.
Obi-Wan sighed. "The Force is so strong in the two of you."
"And you are reaching into it," Siri protested, terribly hurt. "There is nothing going on between me and Anakin. You've learned so much today. You know everything that man has been through and why. How can you still--?"
"I don't think…Siri," he breathed. "It's too much. It is all so…unbelievable."
He looked at her, into her lovely green eyes, and was lost. "Palpatine is the Sith lord we have sensed, and he was right under our noses for years. He has spent the last decade and more plotting the destruction of the Jedi Order. He arranged for the creation of the Clones, the fog of war, and the cultivation of apprentices to do his bidding. Then, there is Anakin."
Siri placed a hand on his arm. "I know it's a lot to take in at once, but you have to be mindful."
"Did you know?" he asked her simply. "Did you know that Anakin and Padmé had—"
She swallowed. "Yes."
He virtually collapsed onto her sofa, her falling sweetly beside him.
Obi-Wan nodded. That was the connection. That was the thread that held Anakin and Siri closer than the already tender bond they shared. He continued to be astounded at the realization that they had both managed to keep such an overwhelming secret from him. He could not have been more surprised had they announced that not only was Anakin married, but he had married Siri!
"Were that the case, no one would have been more surprised than I," she told him, bringing his attention back to her.
He smiled, but it was sad. Soberly, he spoke again. "I think he had tried to tell me many times."
"Obi-Wan," she softly began, taking his hand. "You did know. You felt it. I know you did. Anakin once told me he suspected you knew; you simply chose to ignore it. He felt that you were trying to protect him, so you never brought it up."
Siri stroked the lines of his palm with her fingertip. She didn't seem to be aware of it as she continued. "I think because you knew of his childhood and what his mother's death did to him, something inside you demanded that he be allowed the one thing that gave him great happiness."
"Padmé," he whispered.
Her eyes met his. "Padmé."
Her palm settled on his. "Did you sense it as well? Is that how…"
She had the grace to blush. "I officiated the ceremony."
Of course you did, he thought and twined his fingers between hers. The action startled her a little, but she relaxed in his grasp. "Tell me about it."
A lovely blonde brow arched. "The wedding?"
"'Tis only fair considering I was not invited," he groused quietly, making her smile again. "I was his Master. Since we cannot go back to that day, I would like to hear the details from you. If you are willing."
"Are you certain you have time for this? Are you not also to testify—"
"Concentrate on the here and now, Mistress Tachi," he told her. "Tomorrow duty shall take care of itself."
That stunned her. It was something their beloved Master Qui Gon constantly admonished them. She wet her lips, nervously.
Siri thought to herself that for the first time in a long while she had an opportunity to regain her spirit. She had spent many years longing to banter with Kenobi as they had in their youth, before the conflict within her heart bespoke her need to be free of the Order. Before the desire to possess him had made her leave.
The Jedi Order consisted of rules that required strict adherence. Their ways were dedicated to the sacrifice of self for the good of all. It was a life that demanded dedication and boundless faith in something, an essence that could neither been seen or touched, to promote a better quality of life. They were a service to every living being throughout the galaxy, a resolute embodiment of peace and reverence.
They deserved loyalty, but for Siri Tachi, there was a difference between allegiance to the Jedi Order and fidelity to the Force. They were not one in the same. It had pained her to leave. They were the only family she had ever known. Yet, it would not have been fair to remain while she harbored such resentment of their dictates against romantic love, for she had loved Obi-Wan Kenobi. She didn't know if it was their time with Taly or if it had been from the first day they met. She only knew that it was true, and it was torturous. She could not be a Jedi and be in love with Obi-Wan.
So she left.
Siri stood abruptly and crossed the room to an ornate service cart that had been a housewarming gift from Padmé. It was lovely in its simplicity and function. She had not known how to react when it was presented. She still wasn't quite used to owning things and calling them hers.
She cleared her throat. "Would you like something to drink?"
"It isn't Hoi Broth, is it?"
That her hand shook as she poured tea into a delicate cup irked her immensely. "I have no interest in creating an intergalactic Force-felt allergic reaction this evening, Kenobi. It's Sapir tea."
She turned and held the cup out to him. "Would you like some?"
"Yes," he replied, taking the proffered cup. "Thank you."
Siri poured a cup for herself and took a seat in the chair across from where he sat on her sofa. It made him frown slightly.
"If you would be betraying another confidence, Siri," Obi-Wan said quietly. "You do not have to…"
"It isn't that. Anakin will tell you himself, eventually." She relaxed against the chair. "There really isn't much to tell."
He sipped. "They were wed on Naboo. When he escorted her back after the debacle on Geonosis. You were waiting."
So he had felt it. "Yes."
"Had you foreseen it?"
"No. I received an encrypted message on my private COMM link while on my way to Kashyyyk," she told him, crossing her legs. "It was a…hmm. It was a request for my presence on Naboo, an audience with Senator Amidala."
"Padmé contacted you from the skiff."
"No. She and Anakin had already arrived. I was asked not to report my flight plan to Theed but to travel to the lake country and land on a private pad outside a resort villa."
Siri closed her eyes with the memories. "Padmé was alone to greet me. I remember wondering why we were meeting there and suspect at the absence of her loyal guards. I would have asked if something had happened, if she were all right, but I didn't need to. I had never seen her look so…radiant before, Obi-Wan. The tranquility within her was almost palpable. How I had envied that…"
He sighed. "She is usually so controlled with her feelings. It is how no one on the council knew of their marriage. They were both careful to hide it."
"Not that day," Siri smiled. "We walked along the gardens. She was excited, I could tell, and I finally asked her what she needed. She turned to me, luminous, and informed me that she couldn't say until Anakin joined us."
"I imagine he was more than a little reluctant about speaking with you."
"Yes," she reflected. "Not reluctant about the vows he would be taking but the vows he would be breaking. I suppose he felt it wrong to ask another Jedi to help him shatter what was essentially a most sacred Jedi oath."
"'A Jedi shall not know love'," quoted Obi-Wan, studying her. Loving her. "They wanted someone they trusted to commit them. They could not ask a member of local clergy to do it. That would have necessitated paperwork, and they could not risk it being leaked to the public."
He sat up straighter. His voice vehement with compassion. "That must have been agony for him, for both of you!"
"It was, Obi-Wan," she replied. "It was terribly difficult for him. It always had been. He wants to be a Jedi, but he loves her. He wants to serve the Republic, but he wants a family of his own. He wasn't the only one in danger. She would have been forced to resign from her office in disgrace."
"What about you, Siri?" He put his cup down on the table beside him and leaned forward. "What did you say when they told you what they had planned?"
In her mind's eye, she saw Anakin looking at her pleadingly.
"I know I have no right to ask this of you," Anakin told her, earnest and forthright. "I know it is wrong to expect you not only to perform it but to keep it secret from everyone."
Humbled, he kneeled at her feet and took her hand. "I can only hope you understand why I must. I love her, Siri. I have never fought it for if I did, I would be denying a part of who I am, of what makes me Anakin Skywalker. She is part of me. She is the best part of me. She is my hope. She is my compassion. She is my heart."
Anakin took her hand and pressed it to his heart. "Master, please. She is already my wife. You must know that. A ceremony would only serve to please our need for the words. Please?"
It brought tears to her eyes then. It did so now.
Siri opened her eyes and saw that Obi-Wan was staring at her, his mouth slightly agape. He was reading her mind.
"How could I deny him, Obi-Wan?" she cried softly, unable to prevent the tears. "I feel no remorse. I was so happy for him. I was so happy for both of them! I made him stand up, and I told them to prepare themselves."
She wiped her stained cheek with the back of her hand. "Soon after we stood on the sunset-drenched, flower-bedecked veranda of a beautiful romantic lakeside villa. It was very solemn and quiet. I had never been prouder in my life. I swear it, Obi-Wan. They recited the vows that joined them together for all eternity. There was no applause, no fanfare, only the whirl and echo of the two droids in attendance. By the authority vested in me as a servant of the Grand Republic and a knight of the Jedi Order, I proclaimed them husband and wife.
It was the absolutely the best moment of my life."
Obi-Wan exhaled the breath he hadn't known he was holding. The vision of it in her memory was…indescribable.
He cleared his throat. "And you turned in your lightsaber shortly after."
She waved off his words. "That had nothing to do with their marriage. That was me. I realized something in that clandestine ceremony that I had been denying for some time. I have no place in the Jedi Order. It is not my destiny as it is yours, and it certainly is not the path that it is Anakin's.
No matter what the council decides for him, Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker is a Jedi. He is the Chosen One. Should they dismiss him from the Order, he will survive, but they will not. Their destinies are intertwined. Should they deny him, everything they are built on will crumble beneath the backlash. The Jedi codes are antiquated. The fear that love and the Jedi path cannot coexist has been decimated."
She stood as though she couldn't remain still a moment longer. "Anakin has more than proved he is the Chosen One. He delivered the prophecy. He has single-handedly destroyed Palpatine and the Sith. He apprehended the Separatists, effectively shutting down the droid army. He stopped the war, all while fending off his own darkness. He let it go, Obi-Wan. When it was time for him to make a decision, when the fate of the galaxy hinged on him releasing his anger, shedding his hate…he did it! He let it go. He became one with the Force, and he let it go."
Watching passion fire in her eyes, Obi-Wan came to a conclusion.
Siri Tachi was the most extraordinary woman he'd ever known. She did not know of her own courage and seemed genuinely unaware of her strength. She had loved him. She had always loved him, but she had never asked for a solitary thing in return. She had abandoned the only life she knew to spare the Jedi from a distracted knight and he the conflict.
She had never let any of them down. When Anakin needed her support she had given it freely and unflinchingly. When the Jedi were stretched thin across the galaxy fighting the abhorrent Clone Wars, Siri had come charging along to fight beside them.
And when he had held her in his arms on that fateful day in the Room of a Thousand Fountains, she willingly abdicated the influence of her love for him so he could follow his own path. She, a woman of independent capabilities and of soaring spirit, relinquished her own selfish desires so he would not have to leave the Order. To fulfill his destiny.
Siri had done what he never could, and Anakin could only recently.
She had let go.
"Don't look at me like that, Obi-Wan," she implored heatedly.
He was still staring at her. She didn't know what he was thinking.
"You don't know what it was like to conceal what I knew," she tried to explain. "Not just about Anakin and Padmé. The more involved I became in my investigation, the more I saw…"
Obi-Wan stood and stepped closer to her. His tone was gentle when he spoke.
"What did you see, Siri?"
She shook her head. "I can't… I can't tell you."
"Haven't we had enough secrets, Siri?" he asked patiently, his voice a caress. "I don't want any more walls between us. I want us to be able to speak freely. Can you do that? I'd like that."
"So much has changed for me over the last twenty years, Obi-Wan. You wouldn't understand."
"I would like the chance to try." He touched her cheek, and the fact that she fit her cheek into his palm moved him irrevocably.
"I started meditating more when I left the Order," she told him. "I wanted to atone for my weakness with the Force by exercising it. The more I did, the more I saw."
She clasped his wrist tightly, pressing her cheek closer, tears once again in her eyes. "I saw Palpatine. I saw him in his Sith robes. I…I felt his evil, Obi-Wan. He was steeped in it. I felt his hatred, his greed, his lust. He…he was a nightmare I could not wake from."
Siri broke into heartbreaking sobs, and Obi-Wan pulled her into his embrace. He closed his eyes and rocked her against him.
"Tell me, Siri," he said, desperately. "Tell me."
"I could see his thoughts," she cried. "I knew what he was feeling when he felt it. I saw him talking to Nute Gunray. I saw him talking to Anakin. I saw…I saw Order Sixty-Six."
Order Sixty-Six. Obi-Wan knew what that was. Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, and several other loyalists had found those…interesting…and diabolical flimsiplasts earlier today in what was left of Palpatine…Lord Sidious', bunker in the prairie banks of Outer Coruscant. To call it disturbing was elementary. Order Sixty-Six was Sidious' coup de grace. It called for the utter demolition of the Jedi Order. Those words from the Dark Lord of the Sith would have meant the murder of thousands of Jedi throughout the galaxy. The Jedi would have never seen it coming. They would have been slain by the same troops that had fought beside them these past three years-ambushed on land, blasted on mobiles, or shot out of the sky.
Obi-Wan shuddered and held her closer.
"He meant to kill you. To kill all of you!"
Siri tried to get a hold of herself. She wanted to finish this. She needed to if she were to finally rest.
Composed, she stepped away from him. She led him back to the sofa. Their knees touched as they faced each other. He didn't release her, clasping her deceptively delicate hand in both of his.
"Obi-Wan, Palpatine was manipulating Anakin's dreams."
His gaze narrowed. "What?"
"Palpatine planted incomplete visions in Anakin's subconscious in an effort to force his will," she told him, gravely. "Obi-Wan…Anakin did kill Dooku, but…when he did, Dooku was defenseless. Anakin had severed his hands. Palpatine's manipulation of Anakin's thoughts started right then."
The utter soullessness of the act appalled Obi-Wan. "Anakin would have never killed a defenseless man. Even Dooku."
"Palpatine spurred him on, using Anakin's rage and thirst for revenge. He used Dooku's history with Anakin to make Anakin react to his pain."
How could I not know that? Obi-Wan grieved. How could I have overlooked my padawan's pain?
"That night, Anakin was with Padmé in her apartments." She looked away briefly, shaking off a memory. She wanted to leave them their privacy. "He had only found out about her pregnancy that afternoon, once they met in the hangar bay of the Senate building. He dreamed, later, that she died in childbirth. It terrified him. He didn't know where she was in the dream. He only knew he wasn't with her, and that she was heartbroken and dying, begging for him.
You know what transpired over the next few days. He grew more bitter with the council about the mastery and what he felt was their insulting disrespect. It made him angry that it seemed you agreed with them. Everything was falling apart. He was under so much stress with the war, the council, his wife. Palpatine.
He was desperate, Obi-Wan. He was scared that he would lose her the way he lost his mother, that she would die and never see their child. Palpatine told him some story about the Sith having the power to conquer death. In Anakin's vulnerability, Palpatine struck. He knew Anakin would do anything to save Padmé. So, he continued his seduction."
Obi-Wan tried to breathe, to calm.
This is too much. Too much!
"You must listen," she pleaded. "Anakin deserves that, Obi-Wan. You must listen to his story."
Siri sniffled, and leaned her face closer. Their gazes locked and her expression was dire. "Obi-Wan. If Palpatine had succeeded in his scheming, Padmé would have died in childbirth."
She groaned her despair, and Obi-Wan had to press closer to hear, "Because of Anakin."
Obi-Wan gaped at her, rearing sharply back in disbelief.