Laughter of children echo about him, playing against his senses, tickling his hearing, bringing amusement to his soul. He cannot see them, not with physical sight, but he knows they are there. Their voices whisper his name.
"Master Kenobi!" "Master Kenobi is here!"
But it is not the children he wishes to see. When Obi-Wan opens his eyes, he first sees the beloved face of his Master. Qui-Gon approaches him with a broad smile and an opening of arms, pulling his young apprentice into a fierce hug.
"You have done well, padawan." He warmly states, tugging on the long braid that trails across the young man's shoulder as he releases him.
A smile blooms of relief and joy as he meets the blue-eyed gaze of his previous mentor, but Obi-Wan's eyes steal past the larger man to glimpse the one being who sets his face aglow and Qui-Gon smiles, acknowledging the young man's longing, nodding his head in her direction.
Padmé waits as the handsome, bearded Jedi approaches her. She does not see him as Qui-Gon does. His hair shines coppery colored with just a trace of silver against the white glow of the Netherworld entrance. His beard is neatly trimmed, his eyes sparkling blue and green with a mixture of joy and mischief. Just as she remembered him on Coruscant all those years ago.
"Obi-Wan." She breathes at last, holding out her hand and pulling him to her.
Ethereal breaths mingle before their lips meet, a kiss that consumes and expands them into the surrounding white light, sending their souls united out beyond the void into the forest, where they become One with the Force.
Together, at last, for all eternity.
A/N: That's all folks! This was a different fic for me in a few ways. I kept it in present tense (which was extremely difficult at times) and tried to stay with a Padmé POV.
This story stemmed from a challenge I picked up during "Replenishment" that claimed Obidala authors tend to rush a romantic relationship between the couple. Hopefully, I have created a story that argues against that belief.
Thanks for the R&Rs. The first chapter to my 40th (!) story will be posted very soon. Be looking for "Letters to Naboo." A post-TPM, pre-AOTC romantic fic that includes a padawan Anakin.