Chapter Eighteen: Celebration and Looking to the Future
The celebration went off without a hitch. The Jedi Council had sent their congratulations to Queen Amidala and the Gungans now co-existed peacefully with the Naboo without the undercurrent of slight mistrust that had previously been present. In honor of the new understanding between the two societies, Padme had asked Jar Jar to stay in the palace with her and act as a liaison between them. Jar Jar had happily accepted and the Naboo palace staff got used to the slight clumsiness that the friendly Gungan still couldn't quite get rid of. Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Harry and Anakin were part of the celebration as they'd helped with the battle, but they deflected most of the praise back onto Padme as her plan had saved the planet.
The day after the celebration as the Jedi were preparing to leave for Coruscant when a Republic transport landed and Palpatine, wearing the official robes of the Supreme Chancellor stepped out. He watched as Nute Gunray and his deputy were escorted on board and then walked up to the small group comprising of the Jedi and Queen Amidala.
After shaking hands he thanked the Jedi for their help and then, as he walked past Anakin he rested his hand briefly on the Padawan's shoulder and said, "We'll watch your career with great interest young Skywalker." Harry bristled silently and thought, 'You'll not get near Anakin if I can help it Chancellor.'
Anakin looked slightly puzzled, he hadn't picked up on the hostility but he had felt Harry tense as the Chancellor touched him. He shrugged and let it go, figuring that Harry would explain later if he asked. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan were also curious as to the reason; they had picked up on the hostility, even if Anakin hadn't.
Palpatine had moved past the Jedi and was talking quietly with Padme, congratulating her on her plan which had saved the Naboo people. As Harry, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Anakin walked to their ship, Palpatine half turned and his eyes rested first on Anakin with a slight smile, and then rose to meet Harry's gaze, the expression in his eyes changing from benevolence to a slight malice.
Harry shivered inwardly and reinforced his shields. Dropping a hand to Anakin's shoulder, he met Palpatine's gaze evenly and tightened his grip, angling his body so that he came between Anakin and Palpatine. The Chancellor broke the impromptu staring match first and looked away. Harry looked at the man who was now the leader of the Republic for a few seconds longer before turning away and getting on the ship that would take them back to the Temple. As he sat down and fastened the seat restraints, after checking that Anakin's were done up securely he had one thought before sinking into a light meditation: 'There is something seriously wrong with Palpatine. I'll have to keep Anakin as far away from him as possible.'
3 years later
The hum of lightsabers filled the training salle where Harry was busy sparring with his 12 year old Padawan. Anakin flipped over Harry's head and swung his blade at his master's neck. He thought he had won until Harry ignited the second half of his lightstaff, and Anakin had to dance back out of the way to avoid getting skewered.
"Hey no fair, that's cheating" the apprentice complained. Harry glanced over his shoulder before smoothly turning to face the 12 year old. "You knew I was using my lightstaff Padawan and I never said anything about not using the second blade. Stop complaining and fight."
Anakin took a couple of steps back, and reset himself as Harry settled into a defensive stance, shutting off the second blade of the lightstaff as he did so. Even though he hadn't said anything about not using both blades of the weapon, he did want the sparring match as fair as possible as Anakin wasn't experienced enough yet for him to start teaching him how to face an opponent with a lightstaff. For that reason, he alsowasn't going to Apparate,or use any other magic either. This was purely a sparring match, nothing more.
Anakin charged, ducking and rolling forward at the last minute, bringing his blade up and around trying to sweep his master off his feet. Harry jumped up in the air to avoid the strike and brought his own blade down to prevent Anakin from striking upwards as he landed. The match had been going on for half an hour, and was drawing to a close as Anakin was getting tired and starting to make more mistakes.
Harry watched his apprentice as he moved closer, striking lightly, trying to draw Harry into attacking him. The Knight wasn't taking the bait though and Anakin threw everything into one final attack. Harry blocked each and every thrust and cut before sweeping Anakin off his feet with a well timed leg sweep and then brought his blade near his Padawan's throat. The blades were set on the lowest power level so they weren't very dangerous, but they still hurt when they touched skin. Harry gently touched the side of Anakin's throat, signifying a "kill" before stepping back and shutting off the blade.
Holding his hand out to help the apprentice to his feet he said, "Well done Anakin, you almost had me a few times. Keep practicing and remember to guard your left side more, you're still leaving a wide gap there."
Anakin nodded and said wearily, "Yes Master. May I go and get changed now? I've got that ethics class after lunch and I don't want to be late."
Harry checked the time and then nodded, letting his Padawan go before heading for the showers himself. When he came out he found Obi-Wan waiting for him. Raising his eyebrows he asked, "What are you doing here?"
"I'm hurt" Obi-Wan exclaimed in mock anger before punching Harry in the shoulder. "Anakin's coming along well then?" Harry nodded. "Yes he is. He's settled in well and is excelling in his classes."
"Problems?" Obi-Wan queried. Harry shook his head and grinned wryly. "Not problems, just an overabundance of high spirits. He's played quite a few pranks, and his friend, Padawan Ayton has been involved in several. Other than that there have been no real problems."
Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows. "None at all? Wow." Harry laughed. "Nothing really serious I should say, a few minor clashes with other Padawans, some degenerating into fights but nothing major. All in all he's a good kid."
Obi-Wan grinned. "Bet you never would have thought that you'd be in this position when you first came here did you Harry."
Harry glanced sideways at the Knight that had been his friend and brother since he was 17 and then replied, "No I didn't but I'd not change a single thing about it. My life changed the day we met in Azkaban and I love what it changed into."
With that the two Jedi walked towards the dining hall, intent on getting some food before heading off to research for their next assignments. As Harry looked around the dining hall he spotted Anakin eating with his friends and he smiled. Life with Anakin Skywalker around was never dull but he wouldn't change a thing.
To Be Continued.
Ok this is it, the end of A New Life. The story continues in March of War, coming soon.
May the Force be with you.