Out of the Way

"Could you please pass me that bowl, Sweetheart?"

"Of course, Darling."  Obi-Wan took hold of a large bowl of steamed falaa roots and handed them over to Hermione.  A young Padawan apprenticed to Master Jacobi blinked at them in confusion, then noted that the boy called 'Harry' was suddenly very interested in his food while the other boy was staring at them in something akin to shock, his ears becoming almost as red as his hair.  A quick 'look' using the Force and he got the joke, suddenly becoming very interested in his own food.

Harry rubbed the scar on his head worryingly, a frown creasing his brow.  "This isn't right.  This is our fight, not yours.  We shouldn't be dragging you into this."

"Of course you should.  The Jedi felt the Dark Side coming through that portal, Harry.  Darkness such as that is a threat to everyone, not just young wizards in training.  Besides, what if he succeeds in conquering your world and decides to come through a portal to attack our own?  It's best we meet this threat head on."

"Then why are we sitting here having dinner instead of looking for Voldemort?"  Hermione stabbed at the slices of roast on her plate.  She had thought it prudent not to ask what animal it was.

"Because the Master Jedi are meditating on the best course of action."

"Oh, that's easy."  Ron blushed and swallowed the mouthful of food he had started talking around under Hermione's withering glare.  "It's Voldemort we're talking about here.  Hit him hard and fast, and don't let him get a chance to hit you."

"Ron's right.  More talking won't solve anything.  We need to find him and hit him first."

"Harry, we don't even know where to begin looking.  We only know he's here.  We won't solve anything with you and Ron charging in like a couple of rampaging bulls."

"We wouldn't be alone.  We've got Snape.  Sure he's a slimy git with the personality of spoor mold, but he's a powerful wizard.  Dad always said that if he hadn't gotten a guilty conscience and come back to our side, Voldemort would've won the last time."

Obi-Wan pushed his now empty plate away, folding his arms on the tabletop to look at the two boys seated across from him.  "Be mindful of your feelings, young ones.  You could learn something from Hermione.  I know that you both believe she over-thinks the situation at times, but there is something to be said for stepping back and examining the problem at all angles.  Consider for a moment the sacrifices that have been made to keep you safe.  Your professor willingly dropped his appearance as one of this Voldemort's loyal followers, revealing his true loyalties, in order to keep the three of you safe.  If the two of you go rushing in blindly now, very likely getting yourselves seriously injured or even killed, then what use was the risk he took?" 

The boys looked down at their plates.  Harry pushed his away, suddenly no longer hungry.  Ron was silent for a moment, pushed his food around a few times, and then pushed his own plate away as well.  Hermione, still possessing a spotless conscience, took another savory bite of fruit, looking rather pleased at being right.

The doors behind them slid open with an electronic hiss, allowing Snape, Qui-Gon and Mace to enter the dining hall.  The trio walked over to the table and joined the students, reaching for their own meals.  Hermione, Ron and Harry turned expectantly to their professor.  Snape, for his part, ignored them.  Obi-Wan waited a moment, and then ventured a polite "Master?"

"Master Yoda is in meditation, searching the Force for some sign of where this Voldemort has gone off to.  From what Severus tells us, he is much like a Sith Lord, only he uses the same altered state of the Force that our guests do."  Qui-Gon offered a warm smile to the three children who were now listening to him with rapt attention.

"Those differences could very well win us this confrontation."  Snape helped himself to some of the steamed fruit, still not looking at the children.  "The Dark Lord is not prepared for what would be considered 'wandless magic' in our world nor would he expect light sabers.  He certainly will not be expecting such a formidable presence as the Jedi."  Something that looked suspiciously like a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth.  "It's too bad we're cut off from our own world.  An enterprising soul could make a fortune selling tickets to this."

The jaws of the three Gryffindors fell open.  Had Professor Snape just made a joke?  It was almost more than their young minds could comprehend when set against what they knew of his acerbic personality.  It wasn't just the joke, either.  Now that they looked more closely, the Potions Master actually looked, well, relaxed. 

Obi-Wan noted their confusion and lowered his gaze before they could catch his smile.  Once he had regained hold of his sense of humor, he ventured an inquiry.  "Masters, perhaps I could take the students on an excursion outside of the temple.  It would only be for a few hours and it might help them to clear their minds of the situation."  And serve to keep them out from underfoot while you make your plans.  This last was sent to Qui-Gon and Mace, who both nodded.

"An excellent idea, Padawan Kenobi.  The distraction now will help them better focus later when we need them."

"But not too far, Obi-Wan.  The city is no safer for strangers than it is for citizens."  Qui-Gon gave an affection squeeze to his student's shoulder and a fatherly smile to the three teens.  "And the city certainly isn't prepared for these three."

"Don't worry.  I plan to put the boys on leashes.  I don't expect any trouble from Hermione," Obi-Wan looked down at the girl with a grin, "do I, Darling?"

"None at all, Obi."  She smiled sweetly up at him, ignoring the outraged squawk from Ron.  Harry almost lost a battle to hold back his sniggers until one of her delicate fingers gave him a hard poke in the back of his ribs.  The Jedi pretended not to notice, with the exception of Master Windu who only gave the young Padawan a stern frown that appeared to go unnoticed.

"Then let's be off."  Obi-Wan gathered his dishes to take them to the window before getting up, his guests following suit.  "There are some places I can think of that I'm sure you'll find entertaining, and we'll head over to the Senate building for Hermione."  They turned in their trays and headed out through the doors of the cafeteria.  He led them through the grand, sweeping corridors of the temple past classrooms where younger students learned basic skills before being chosen.  The teens were trying to take everything in as they glided over the polished marble floors, down an elegant staircase and finally turning down another corridor.  In time, they reached a kind of docking area where vehicles designed for travel within the planet's atmosphere were held.  Obi-Wan chose an open top speeder with seating for six.  "Everyone climb in."

Harry, Ron and Hermione clambered inside.  Harry noticed that Ron made a point of sitting up front next to Obi-Wan, thereby keeping Hermione from doing so, but he felt it best not to point this out.  From the smile on Hermione's face, he guessed she noticed it as well.  They shouldn't be taking so much pleasure in Ron's obvious jealousy, but if the boy was too thick to come out and admit that he liked Hermione as more than a friend it was hardly their fault.  Obi-Wan seemed more than willing to help keep things rolling. 

"Uhm… Obi-Wan… where are the seat belts?"

"The what?"

Hermione was still looking in her seat.  "The seat belts, the straps to hold you in so you don't fall out."

"Oh, there's nothing like that in a speeder, other than a weak force field for emergencies.  Don't worry; I'm a rather good pilot in spite of what Master Qui-Gon says."  He winked over his shoulder at her before he turned on the thrusters and began to pull out of the dock.  Hermione didn't look at all calmed by his claims.

"Obi-Wan, where are we going first?"  Harry stretched tall in his seat, trying to see what was directly ahead of them as they entered the teeming traffic lanes seamlessly.

"I thought we'd take a look at the ship yards first, let you see how these speeders are made.  We can also go to the Galactic Botanical Gardens, they have the largest collection of plant specimens from all over the Republic, and if you promise no to tell your professor or my master, we can take a brief rest at one of the clubs that broadcasts the pod races.  I think you and Ron will enjoy those, they're fast and dangerous, much like your Quidditch sounds as though it must be."

"And then the Senate?"  Hermione's voice wasn't as confident as it usually was, but she did sound interested.  Obi-Wan chuckled.

"And then the Senate, Hermione.  I think you'll find the running of the Republic quite different from what you're used to.  Senators from every planet in the Republic gathering together to shout about what's wrong with the Republic and what should be done about it, but never actually managing to get anything accomplished."

"Huh."  Harry was now looking at the tall buildings as they went whizzing by.  "Sounds like Parliament."