Chapter One

Senator Amidala was dead. Her body being taken through the Palace Plaza, down the main thoroughfare of Theed, underneath the Triumphal Arch, toward the mausoleum which housed the bodies of all the past Queens of Naboo. There she would rest and there would she remain.

And it was all his fault.

The guilt of this particular failed responsibility weighed heavily upon Obi-Wan Kenobi's mind, but he kept it hidden. Buried his personal burden just as he had been burying his attachment to the beautiful young woman for the past fifteen years.

Perhaps it would drive him insane with despair. If so, he deserved it.

At the time, he hadn't had a choice, had he? He was a Jedi Master. He wasn't allowed to love. Not romantically anyway. Not allowed to pursue the passion that burned within his heart. Instead, he chose to confine his feelings in a stuffy, small container labeled friendship.

Just a few years ago, before Anakin, she had wanted more, and he had denied her of it. What she had desired, it simply wasn't allowed.

Apparently, however, his apprentice had gone where the Master feared to tread. His own Padawan had taken Padme into his arms, and into his bed. He had married her in secret and fathered her children. What hurt the most though, was the fact he had taken her away from him. Forever.

Even knowing that and suffering the pain of such loss, Obi-Wan couldn't bring himself to kill his student. At least in that instance, love had prevailed.

Why had he not done the same for Padme? He had allowed her to suffer. If he had forsaken his vows, pursued his dreams, would she still be alive? Would Anakin have even turned?

The questions had no answers and Obi-Wan struggled to clear his mind of the endless string of doubts, pushed aside his guilt and grief, just in case the Jedi Master seated close by could read the turbulent emotions raging inside him.

Master Yoda could always see right through him it seemed, and apparently his improved shielding and knowledge of the Force did little to protect him. The large, green eyes looked upon him sympathetically. Very similar to the expression upon the Senator of Alderaan's face. Bail Organa also bore a remarkable amount of forbearance and understanding.

Well, he didn't need their pity. He had enough to deal with already.

"Focus upon there here and now." His Master, Qui-Gon Jinn had told him again and again. It was a lesson that was difficult to learn, much less put into practice. Obi-Wan had been given the gift of prescience, although it seemed that the older he got, his focus was more on the past. Especially now. However, he knew that dwelling in the present and looking forward to the future was what he must do if he were to survive.

If Padme's children were to survive.

"What about the boy?" His voice sounded pained, though he tried to hide it.

"To Tatooine, to his family you must take him. Watch over him, you will."

"Yes, Master." It was the least he could do.

Obi-Wan rose to leave the presence of the ancient Jedi and the Senator, pausing only for a second when Yoda requested that Bail Organa stay. That was fine. He needed some time to be alone, to take refuge in his private cabin, and in the Force.

With each passing year, the distance between Obi-Wan and Padme's son, Luke, grew. By not only a physical distance alone. The foster parents of the child did not want a Jedi influencing the boy, filling his head with fantastical tales of adventure and danger.

"Luke is going to be a farmer." Owen Lars had told him during Obi-Wan's final visit. "You are no longer welcome here."

Thus began his solitary and lonely existence in the outskirts of the Tatooine desert, far out beyond the Dune Sea, where only the banthas and nomadic Tusken raiders roamed. Occasionally, he would set up camp on a ridge that overlooked the Lars farm, using his electrobinoculars to spy on the lad, but he never approached him.

On those days though, when the sand seeped into his sanity and the only conversation was between his deceased Master or himself, the need to be around other sentient beings outweighed all else, and Obi-Wan would venture into the nearest town of Mos Eisley, where he would sit quietly in the corner of the local cantina, slowly sipping a drink whose flavor and texture resembled the red motor oil the pod racers used, but mostly to listen to the conversations floating around him.

He soon came to be known as the strange hermit from the dunes. Nobody spoke to him, nobody bothered him. Which was fine with Obi-Wan. He wasn't looking for companionship, and the less noticed he was, the better.

However, Obi-Wan noticed. Everything and everybody. He knew the regulars, recognized the travelers, listened to the space pilots tell the news of the Galaxy. Often, he would hear about his wayward apprentice, how he and the Emperor were slowly gaining control over every single free system left in the Republic. It was as he had feared. Democracy had died.

Finishing just enough of his drink to maintain his sobriety, Obi-Wan left the cantina, keeping his appearance as well as his identity a secret by wrapping the simple brown cloak he had adopted a while back around his body, the hood drawn close to conceal his face.

Obi-Wan always tried his best to return to his simple dwelling before dusk -- before the nocturnal desert creatures emerged from their hiding places. He hurried out of town, knowing that he had time to spare.

That is, until he felt a tug upon his consciousness. The Force drew his attention to a shadowy figure who lingered next to a food vendor's shop already closed for the day. It was a petite, female figure wrapped in layers of sheer, black cloth, similar to what he would expect someone who was in mourning to wear. Over her head was a matching veil, which concealed her face.

Through the Force, Obi-Wan could sense her grief and loneliness, similar to his own emotional state, and he was drawn to her. However, the closer he got, the further she backed away, until the woman completely disappeared from sight.

Obi-Wan jogged the short distance to where the humanoid had vanished, only to be disappointed that he could discover no trace of her. Not in the darkening alley between the shops, nor in the open sandy street behind him.

Perhaps he had had too much to drink tonight, or perhaps he was truly going mad. He was sure there had been someone here, but he didn't have time to investigate. The twins suns of Tatooine had begun their descent beneath the horizon. To make it home before darkness fell, he would have to hurry, and honestly, he didn't feel much like running.