Obi-Wan and Edna jumped like the small furry creature had.

Aunts Randii, Georgette and Dolpha rigidly confronted them, having stolen upon them unseen, unheard, unthought of, and they now stood in grim horror, merciless and implacable. They advanced in a swooping horde, after one moment of agonizing suspense while Obi-Wan wondered how the kriff the three draigons had lumbered up the hill and plowed through the copse without either Edna or himself hearing them. How much noise had the two of them been making? They snatched Edna into their midst, glaring three sorts of loathing upon the trespassing Jedi.

"Has this person kissed you, or attempted to do so?" hissed Aunt Dolpha.

"Not yet," meekly answered poor Edna.

"I assure you ladies ..." began the trespasser, but Aunt Dolpha cut him short.

"Silence, sir!" she commanded. "We wish no explanation from you, whatever."

Obi-Wan was crushed. Explanations were what he was good at. The little company wheeled and marched away, bearing Edna an unwilling and impenitent captive, two of them ingeniously keeping behind her so that she should have no opportunity of even exchanging a backward glance with her new friend.

Left to himself, the trespasser moodily kicked holes in the turf. When his big toe hit the jade outcropping and he hopped about in a brief spasm of pain, he had an intense desire to do something violent: to smash something, no matter what. He was furious with the trio of aunts. It was a shame, he told himself, to bury alive a lovely and noble young woman like that, through a warped and mistaken notion of life. What right had they to condemn a sweet creature such as Edna to a starved existence? It was his Jedi duty to rescue her from the colorless fate that hung over her, and he would do his duty. Master Qui-Gon would feel the same. The blouse split more as he flexed his biceps, gathering inspiration from thoughts of his powerful Master's Force presence.

Would he free her? How? Should he resort to a legalistic tack such as a search warrant or writ of replevin? He snorted at himself. This whimsical view of the case only exasperated the more as it presented the utter hopelessness in approaching her ... of ever seeing her again ... her friendship denied him forever. When Milo and Gloria came chasing a flitterbug in his direction, he threw them a dirty look and Force-batted the flitterbug away like he did when he played scramball with his former Clan mates. The neks bounded uselessly away in pursuit. Blast them, anyway! It was their fault!

Next he blamed himself. If he had only resisted the lure of the creek like a Jedi ought, he would not have been kilometers away from help from home, dressed in bloomers and embroiled in a mission with little chance of a positive ending. This thought tainted the success of his Council-appointed mission, completed only this morning.

Then he blamed Edna. Why, why was she such a confiding artless innocent? He would call her a fool, except she wasn't. He remembered her eyes and abjectly apologized to the memory of her, which might be all that he would have left. She deserved a pedestal: well-bred, unspoiled, without guile or subterfuge, healthy, beautiful and honest. That had been the thing he recalled the most: her honesty. It spoke ill for the galaxy that this should have seemed startling. By all the stars, she should not be swallowed up in the Maw Cluster of this paltry life. He would rescue her, and claim that first kiss.

He sat down on the stream bank to think over this phase of the question. He had known her several years in the minutes since his eavesdropping, and it was time for this foolishness to come to an end.

Time flies when youth listens to the heart of the galaxy which beats in time with its own heart. Obi-Wan was surprised to note a strange hush settling down over the woods. A chill vapor seemed to rise from the gurgling waters. There was a melancholy in the tweetings of the birds which flew over the stream, searching for flitterbugs. The rustling trees softened their murmur to a continuous whisper, soothing and caressing. The waters' noise became a tinkle, each note separate and metallic. Near the reeds, a sudden chorus of frogs croaking blended with the chirps of the small furry creature and there were other sounds, mysterious, untraceable, but all musical in greater or lesser degree. Obi-Wan listened harder.

He understood at last. These sounds, the rustling leaves, the swooping birds, the jangling creek, the frogs' and others' intangible cadences, these were the instruments of the Force's vast orchestra, playing their lullaby for the drowsy day. It was dusk, and he was desperately attached, not to one person, but to Love, and he had on a fool bloomer suit and he had to return to his larger world of civilization just as he was. Woe, woe and anathema! Would the object of his attachment be kind, or relentless, or impossible to understand? Was Love too broad an entity to be attached to? Should he forge past the revelation that the Living Force had shown him? Never had he wished for Qui-Gon's counsel more. A further question bowed his shoulders. Could he handle rejection from those he loved? Obi-Wan put his head in his hands. He had to move, or go mad.

At the house, he found a table set under a shade tree back of the kitchen. Supper for one was illumined by the rays of a solitary glowrod. Aunt Dolpha and Aunt Georgette, each with a Verpine pistol in her lap, sat grimly to one side. Neither Edna nor Aunt Randii were anywhere to be seen, and he divined with a thrill that Aunt Randii was acting as jailor to the young woman until he should safely be off the premises. Evidently, she had been hard to manage. Good for her!

He bowed as he approached..

"I should like you to know who I am," he began.

"You will please to eat your supper without conversation," Aunt Dolpha interrupted. "We know who and what you are."

"I wish to see your niece at least once more, to say goodbye," he protested, but the ladies, finding rudeness necessary, clasped their hands to their ears.

"Kindly eat," said Aunt Georgette, without removing her hands.

Obi-Wan sat down and glared at the food. He thought he heard Edna's voice and the sounds of a scuffle in the house, and it gave him inspiration. He arose, and, leaning his hands on the edge of the table, shouted as loudly as he could:

"I am Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi of Coruscant. I will give you no cause for worry. We Jedi form no attachments." He meant this sincerely, and with his recent epiphany on the stream bank, his sincerity approached quantum levels.

"Are you going to eat your supper?" inquired Aunt Dolpha.

He gave up. He could not, as a Jedi, take Aunt Dolpha's and Aunt Georgette's hands from their ears and make them listen to what he had to say. He turned sadly away from the table. The armed escort also arose.

"Please lead the way," requested Aunt Dolpha. "The path leads directly from the front of the cottage to the road."

He had stalked, in dismal silence, almost halfway down the winding avenue of trees, gloomily watching the gigantic shadows of his limbs leaping jerkily among the shrubbery, when it occurred to him that the women could scarcely carry the glowrod and pistols and still hold their ears.

"I am Obi-Wan Kenobi, of Coruscant," he shouted, and looked back to address them more directly. Woe again! The pistols reposed in the pockets of the skimpy black gowns, the glowrod rested askew in Aunt Dolpha's belt, and both women were holding their ears.

Lost in his own distress, he could not know that they had been whispering about him, however, and really, for man-haters and Jedi-haters, their remarks had been very complimentary. Not even that ridiculous costume could hide his athletic figure and good carriage; indeed, as he preceded the two, it may even have enhanced them.

They were nearing the road when they heard a woman's voice shrieking for them to wait, and at length Aunt Randii came running after them, breathless and excited.

"You must come back to the house at once, all of you," she panted. "Edna is wildly hysterical. She insists that she must see this young man, monster or no monster, that she will die without him. I truly believe she would!"

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Aunt Dolpha. "Come on, then."

It was Aunt Dolpha who swiftly and anxiously led the way. At the door of the parlor, she paused and confronted the young Jedi.

"Remember," she warned, "that however impulsive our poor, misguided niece may appear, you must not kiss her!"

Without waiting for a reply, she opened the door for him. Edna, smiling through the last of her tears, sprang to meet him, and, seizing his hand, drew him down on the sofa beside her. The flower had dropped from her undone hair in her display of emotion and Obi-Wan could see that her natural enthusiasm for his presence had awakened her to her own desires in a corollary to his Force-driven epiphany.

"I'm going to keep you here always, now," she declared with pretty authority, as she locked her hand in his and interlaced their fingers.

Obi-Wan looked around at the aunts and suddenly longed for his own clothes. They had pulled their chairs in a close semi-circle about the sofa and were helplessly staring. He felt the hot blood burning in his cheeks, on his temples, down the back of his neck. With his free hand, he tugged the torn blouse to hide his mid-section. He draped his braid to hang behind his shoulder, touching the Merit Beads to further his resolve. He seemed to feel Master Qui-Gon's hand smoothing the length of hair all the way down his back. He smiled. Still, he was too nervous to relax his head against the antimacassar.

"You will stay, won't you?" Edna asked, anxiety as natural to her as was her appreciation of his eyes.

"I think I shall take you with me, instead," he replied, smiling down at her in an attempt to conquer his embarrassment.

Edna sighed as he suspected she had done on her moonlight walks. The spectators suddenly arose, retiring to the far corner of the room, where they held an excited, whispered consultation. They came back and sat down in the same solemn half-circle. Aunt Dolpha ceremoniously cleared her throat.

"You will please to unclasp your hands and sit farther apart," she directed. This obeyed, she proceeded: "Now, Padawan, we are curious about your name. 'Obi-Wan,' that is. Is it possible you hail from our world?"

All three leaned forward, obviously rapt on his answer. Obi-Wan formed a theory: their ideals were reaching for any scrap of information that would render his presence in Edna's life more acceptable. Never would these three soar into the stratosphere of a planet, bound for the heavens. This world of hearth and home was their reality, forever, unless the galaxy should change and their ideals die. Suddenly, he found himself more sympathetic to their guardianship of a girl and he felt the same guardianship. Edna, too, had ceased smiling, listening with all her open heart. He squeezed his knees and bowed his head, asking the Force what he never had before. A node inside himself that he felt sure would have responded to his unspoken question remained as still as that revelatory moment on the banks of the stream.

"No," he said softly. "I do not know my heritage. The Jedi are my family." Was this revelation what the Council had hoped for, on this mission to Qui-Gon's planet? Was he to realize down to the quick that he and Master were kin in the Force only, separate from any physical bond? It hurt only a little.

The four women relaxed. "I think I may safely say, may I not, Sisters Georgette and Dolpha, that this quite alters the case?" was Aunt Randii's strange query.

"Quite so, indeed," agreed Aunt Dolpha.

"Very much so," added Aunt Georgette.

"Decidedly," resumed Aunt Randii. "We are pleased."

Edna had gradually hitched closer to him, and now her hand, unreproved, stole affectionately to his shoulder. Aunt Dolpha was wiping her eyes. Aunt Georgette openly sniffled. Aunt Randii cleared her throat most violently.

"Your origins are all that we could wish, young man," she admitted in a business-like tone. "We shall waive, in your favor, our objections to men in general. If we must have intercourse with one, we are to be congratulated upon having one whose home world is not our own." The three aunts, as by one electric impulse, bent forward with shining eyes.

Obi-Wan was busy parsing 'intercourse' to mean 'interpersonal communication.'

"Huh?"

Aunt Randii smoothed her gown. "You must have wondered about our signage upon the approach to these premises. All who pass this way do." A smidgen of pride crept into her tone. Obi-Wan considered that this idiosyncrasy set the family apart in a land where novelty was scarce. "Years ago, a Jedi visited our canton. He had a solo mission to complete, as he told us, before deciding upon his first Padawan to train. He knew about the River of Light. He knew his origins rested on our world." The others plucked at their hair, adjusted hems or in Edna's case, smoothed the petals of the flower still at her throat. They had heard this tale before.

"He and I shared a friendship," Aunt Randii went on. "We became close, though Uncle Potor discouraged our relations. It became a game to me to slip out to meet him, and I think I wanted what my dear mother and poor Sister Jan-Elaine had: a man."

Obi-Wan's throat tightened. The coincidences were mounting up as his theory bade fair to turn into a hypothesis. He was not ready for any more revelations, yet as one views a speeder wreck, he could not stop listening. If what he suspected were true, his plans for a Coruscant homecoming would need to change drastically. The revelation he had experienced on the stream bank could not have been a cruel prank his psyche had played on him, could it? Edna, gleaning his discomfort, leaned her arm against his in silent support.

Aunt Randii warmed to her subject.

"Sometimes, we meditated together, well, as much as I could do, young Obi-Wan. I, I think, because of my great beauty and the fact that we were fellows in our planetary birthright, that he fell in love with me." She turned to Obi-Wan, intent on proving her innocence in such a dastardly charge as encouraging Jedi to look outside the Order for fulfillment. "His mission ended. He lingered. He was censured by your Council. He got into trouble because of me."

Obi-Wan's theory dissolved. So Aunt Randii and the rest did not wish to risk even a chance of pain for their precious Edna. In their reaction to the heartache of nearly two decades ago, they had become reactionary. Edna should not have any pain, whatsoever, but particularly something they could prevent. It was laudable, it was impractical, it was going to stop right now. He had formed a response and had his mouth open when he saw in his mind's eye the Master he knew so well, honorable to his own personal Jedi Code. Obi-Wan wilted on the inside. Qui-Gon would have done that. He would have lived in the moment, following his heart to be with this woman for as long as he could. Then he would have returned for choosing Genevra to be his first Padawan, but remaining constant to his feelings, which was why Obi-Wan had never known Qui-Gon to pursue intimacy with himself or anyone.

Aunt Randii's gaze became distant. "He came from the upland cantons, I could tell because of his jointed name, you see, just like our dear mother honored her heritage when she gave the name Jan-Elaine to her last child." Obi-Wan wished that the woman would stop talking, because the things his imagination was showing him pained his heart. Qui-Gon's planet held information about his Master that he would give a great deal not to have been shown. If he did not know Qui-Gon's leanings, then he could still hope. He barely heard what Aunt Randii said next.

"And Jan-Elaine had just birthed Edna, and he was supremely tender with the baby and really, I could see that, Jedi or not, his vocation was to mind the dearest, most precious things, our legacy … " Obi-Wan's face fell further. Of course, Master adored younglings of all sorts and species. Obi-Wan would not have used the term 'vocation', but then these ladies were incredibly dutiful and used the language of their strict notions of propriety. Qui-Gon, oh, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan thought, sighing like the gusty breeze through the greel trees near his afternoon's excursion. He gathered his strength to endure the rest of this speech. If Qui-Gon had romanced his fellow citizen Randii, then the family's story deserved his full attention and he rallied. There, the woman seemed to have reached the end of her tale of woe.

Edna's life should not contain woe. Obi-Wan spoke out as firmly as Master would have done.

"I wish to have continued contact with your niece. I wish to communicate with her, in friendship, so that she may feel she has an interested party in the galaxy outside the confines of her home. In time, she may wish to visit and I should be honored to escort her about Coruscant, when time permits from my Jedi duties. She will not die, if I leave now" ... he turned to Edna, grazing his forehead to hers ... "as she and I both know" ... Edna colored, looked trustingly up at him and nodded ... "because she will realize that our paths may be separate, yet our hearts will keep company." Until the galaxy should dim, she would remain his idol, safely on her pedestal, as safe as if she were his dear sister. If anyone should harm her, he would leap to her aid. If her circumscribed life should trouble her, he would help her to find another. But, looking around at the materteral love which surrounded her, he did not think she would come to harm of any sort. And she was young, and he was young. There was time for changes.

Aunt Dolpha glanced at her sisters. At their nod, she responded:

"We are in agreement. The answer is yes."

But Aunt Randii was still plucking the fond rosy memories of her youth from the bushes that lined memory lane. Her hands brushed her bosom, and Obi-Wan averted his gaze. She swallowed hard, rummaging in yet another pocket, her eyes downward.

"I wept when he left. He dried my tears with this."

It was a plain ecru handkerchief, marked with initials for the punctilious Jedi quartermaster's record of supplies used on each mission.

Obi-Wan looked.

"A-A."

"Ali-Alann, his name was." Aunt Randii arched a brow as high as her taut hairstyle would permit. "Why, who did you think I meant?"

Obi-Wan could not speak. Ali-Alann? Not Qui-Gon? So he did have a chance with Master? Master, whose romances included, as he now knew, no women and whose last liaison must have been, what, six years previously? Master, who would be starving for - Wheels upon wheels of possibilities spun before him, each cog fitting neatly into place, gears moving precisely like the galaxies wheeling unseen over all their heads.

Then negotiation training took over. "I could not say. I am only a Padawan and the Knights are many."

He changed the subject. They spoke of the weather and Obi-Wan learned of local politics and the latest crop failures, things that his mission briefing had covered in lesser detail. He acknowledged in a dignified manner their praise of his handling of the accord which would make the selling of their crops more profitable. By and by, he crossed his legs in comfort as a home-like feeling crept over him. Suddenly observing their bloomered exposure, however, he tried to poke his legs under the sofa, and twiddled his thumbs instead. The evening passed from dusk to dark. Eventually, he felt the call of duty and spoke of his resolve to leave.

Edna's brow remained unfurrowed. "I know! I shall program Milo and Gloria to lead you down the path and to the City. You shall not venture forth into the dark alone." This statement comforted him in ways that he could not fathom and he allowed Edna to draw him into an embrace. With the aunts' steady regard, he pulled back, but Edna clung, her face expectant. Obi-Wan felt the Force move.

"And when do our young people expect to reunite?" meek Sister Georgette ventured to inquire.

"As the Force wills," Obi-Wan and Edna chorused. They smiled at each other, caught up in an accord as neat as the one that Obi-Wan had witnessed that morning. He was astonished, and rather pleased, too, to find her suddenly embarrassed and blushing prettily. In contrast, he felt himself calm, sinking into her appeal as he had sunk into the welcoming coolness of the pool. The fall, rather than making him dizzy, strengthened him and he moved to act upon the vow to deliver her first kiss.

Before he could do so, Aunt Dolpha announced, "I believe, then, that you may now kiss our niece; may he not, Sisters Georgette and Randii?"

"He may!" eagerly assented the others.

"Very well, then, proceed," commanded Aunt Dolpha, folding her arms.

The young man braced himself to meet this new shock, then gazed down at Edna's upturned face. She looked full into his eyes with the steady flame of her integrity, and he kissed her willing lips.

"Ahhh!" sighed the man-hating trio in ecstatic unison.

Leaving Edna's arms with a less intense kiss to her brow, he smoothed her unbound hair in farewell, only now noticing that the red-gold in it complemented his own auburn. She seized his hand and kissed its palm.

Abruptly, Obi-Wan rose and bowed. "I must be on my way. You all have been hospitable. The Jedi thank you."

Edna's lips quivered and rather than ushering him out, she sank further into the sofa. Two of her aunts gathered around her, and it was Aunt Randii who saw him to the door.

Once on the threshold, Obi-Wan studied her. The situation called for something more from him.

"She had to learn sometime."

The redoubtable Randii firmed her lips as she did something with Milo and Gloria's implants, then stepped back as the beasts charged out the open door, waiting at the bottom of the porch steps with open mouths and eager eyes. She thrust a glowrod into Obi-Wan's hand.

"Not on my watch."

Having no answer, Obi-Wan bowed once more and made his escape. He had a lightsaber to reclaim, and a Jedi Master to make his mission report to. A kiss would not be out of the question.

~.~

EPILOGUE:

After the Purge, Obi-Wan remained in shock from survivor guilt until he met again with Edna, who had never moved from her aunts' estate, content to sing in her secluded woods as she swam in its pool. Since the galaxy had everted, as Obi-Wan thought it might two decades previously on his Master's home planet, he returned to that world briefly while en route to Tatooine with baby Luke. After a hasty explanation that Luke was not his baby, Edna wanted a baby, too, and she welcomed Obi-Wan to her home and her bed. When Obi-Wan left the next morning, he had started the genesis of Mara Jade. He never knew it, though he did feel that the galaxy had paid something of what it owed him. For years, he was smart enough to keep his distance from anyone named Skywalker whenever he could, but Fate was not to be kind to him, not that she ever had been. He was dutiful to the end, mentoring Luke for their short time together, never complaining because he had no one to complain to.

IOIOIOIOIO

The End.

a/n Fanon has it that Obi-Wan was Mara Jade's father, and since I could not satisfy myself how this rumor started, here is a story to compensate. Also, Obi-Wan is the Slut of the Temple in many, many Master-Apprentice stories, so this tale might account for that.