By Bloody Phantom

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars. I just own the plot of this piece.

In Queen Amidala's throne room on Naboo, Obi-Wan bowed his head down in respect to Master Yoda. The moment of his life where he should have felt great happiness, excitement, and a sense of accomplishment was filled with grieve, indifference, and pain. His Knighthood. The moment where a Senior Padawan becomes a Jedi Knight, going on solo missions and thinking about taking on a student of their own. The day filled with bittersweet feelings, leaving the Master who taught you, but embracing the next step in life. The moment where independence takes on a whole new meaning. But that wasn't the case for him. He was not getting the traditional Knighting. It would be rushed through for important issues, like helping the Queen, discussing what to do with…Qui-Gon's body, and the return of the Sith.

It was only Yoda and Obi-Wan in the room for this quick promotion to Knighthood. It matter not to him. The one person who he wanted with him was not able to be there. Would he have been glad to be there anyway? Obi-Wan couldn't help but think. Would Qui-Gon want this rushed Knighting just so he could quickly accept Anakin Skywalker as his new apprentice? His heart will never be full again. It had started to crack the day Qui-Gon pushed him aside for Anakin in front of the whole Jedi Council. From that point on, it cracked more and more until it completely shattered the day the Sith stabbed him through with his lightsaber. The pieces of his heart were too little and too disbursed to be put together. Some pieces were lost eternally in the river of red blood still going through his cold veins. With no chance to set things right with his Master, this was the heart that will forever stay in his chest. Broken, unable to ever be fixed. Alone and cold. Working like a hundred year old machine, just pumping cold blood like clockwork. Barely alive, barely working.

Obi-Wan heard the hiss of Yoda's green lightsaber and quickly tuned into what the Grand Master was saying. "…ready, you have become, Senior Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi. Proud of you, your Master is."

Obi-Wan closed his eyes. Would he be? Obi-Wan couldn't help but doubt it. He was unable to stay by his Master' side. He was not there when Qui-Gon needed him the most. He was too slow. He was too weak against the Sith. He almost let the dark power of revenge consume him. Qui-Gon was all too willing to push him aside for another. What was there to be proud of? He was a Senior Padawan who was being Knighted only because his Master had died. It wasn't because of his accomplishments. He didn't do a trial mission. It was forced upon him, by a Master who wanted to get rid of him to train another, a stronger boy. Would Anakin have made Qui-Gon proud where Obi-Wan didn't? Obi-Wan tried to release his feelings of doubt into the Force with difficulties.

"Doubt me, you do, Senior Padawan," Yoda observed. "Doubt, you shouldn't. Know it, you should have. Told you himself, Qui-Gon should have. Proud, he is. Silent he has been."

Obi-Wan slowly raised his eyes up, showing his doubt and pain in his eyes. Yoda was standing in front of him, his lightsaber out and ready to cut his braid. His eyes were full of disappointment. Obi-Wan cringed only to realize Yoda was not looking straight at him, but up over his shoulders, as if staring at someone. Curiously, Obi-Wan peered over his shoulders, but, as he had sensed, no one was there. He gave Yoda a concerned look. "Master Yoda?"

Yoda snapped his eyes back to him. "Hmmm. Ready, are you?" He raised his lightsaber, acting like he hadn't been distracted by something.

No. Never. Not without Qui-Gon. But Obi-Wan nodded. "Yes, Master Yoda." He bowed his head again as Yoda used the Force to raise his braid.

"Senior Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi, no longer known by this you will be…" A swing of the lightsaber and the braid fell to the ground. "…Known, now, by Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi, former padawan to Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn. Stand." Obi-Wan stood up, but he couldn't tear his eyes away from his discarded braid on the floor. Yoda bent over and picked it up. He placed it into Obi-Wan's palm and closed his fingers over it. "Yours now, to do as you wish." Yoda backed up and stood there, staring. "You are dismissed now, Knight Kenobi."

Obi-Wan lifted his braid and opened his hands. He stared at it, unsure what to do with it now. Usually, a padawan would hand it over to their master's as a show of affection and appreciation for all they done for them. Obi-Wan had been looking forward to the day he could hand over his braid to Qui-Gon, but…Obi-Wan closed his hand around the braid in a fist. Now, his Master was dead and, if he hadn't died, would he have wanted his former padawan's braid? The braid didn't symbolized what it was supposed to, not anymore. It was a reminder of how Qui-Gon didn't want him, not at the beginning, not at the end. With a heaviness in his chest, Obi-Wan opened his fist and tilted his hand to the side. He watched as the braid slowly slipped from his palm and fell to the floor. Without looking at the Grand Master, Obi-Wan bowed and headed out of the Queen's throne room, not glancing back once.

Yoda stared at the long braid on the floor and hmm-ed. "Hurt him, you have," he said into the opened air. "Wished you were here, but couldn't sense you were because of his grief and pain. Doubts himself, he now does."

"I know." The baritone voice came from the blue figure that was standing close to where Obi-Wan had stood. He was tall and broad. He had long hair that was pulled back away from his face and a short beard. His arms were folded across his chest and his eyes, which had once been blue, were staring down at the forgotten braid as well, knowing it should have been placed into his hands at the end of the Knighting ceremony. He walked forward and knelt down. He reached out, as if to take the braid, but, as he knew it would, his hands passed through it. He sighed and glanced at the closed door. "I had not meant to hurt him so. I had thought he knew." Qui-Gon Jinn glanced at the small green troll with downcast eyes. "Feeling such comfort myself when I am around him, I had forgotten how insecure he could be. I failed him. I seem to have a habit of failing him."

"Yet, unwavering in his loyalty to you, he has been," Yoda pointed out. "Despite failures and mistakes. Carry each of your failure on his shoulders, he does and forever will."

If Qui-Gon was a young padawan he would have cringed at the harsh truth sprouted from Yoda's mouth. He nodded in acceptance. "I know." He glanced back down at the fallen braid. "I have to let him know he is not at fault. That I do not blame him. That I am proud of him." He eyes flashed back at Yoda. "May the Force be with you, Master Yoda," he said.

Yoda nodded in acknowledgement. "And with you, Master Qui-Gon."

Qui-Gon glanced back down at the braid and closed his eyes. He pulled what he could from the Force around him, focusing, as he reached back down and picked up the solid braid. He then disappeared.

A week later, Obi-Wan stepped into Qui-Gon's old sleeping quarters at the Temple. He could hear Anakin getting familiar with the living quarters as he set his traveling bag down on the sleeper. He stared at the green, neat sheets, the holograms of wildlife on the walls, the small plants scattered around the room, and the organized mess on Qui-Gon's desk. Everything that made this room personal for his Master. He closed his eyes and stretched out with the Force. He could feel his Master's presence still strong within the room. It was as if he was still there. Obi-Wan shook his head and opened his eyes. He knew better.

He turned around and headed back to the door, when a brush of air froze him in place. Confused to where the breeze came from, he turned to gaze around. Everything was still in place…except…Obi-Wan really did freeze that time, his eyes staring at the object that appeared on top of the pillow. "How…?" He blinked, but the object was still there. Cautiously, he walked towards the sleeper.

He reached down and, after a moment of hesitation, picked up the object. He ran his hands down the familiar soft hair. "My padawan braid?" Where did it come from? He had left it in the throne room on Naboo. Of course, he had thought Yoda would have picked up it and kept it or tried to convince him to take it back, but to see it show up here was the last thing he expected.

Suddenly, a familiar presence brushed up against his mind. He jerked, physically, away, as if he could get away from it and dropped his braid back on the sleeper. He shook his head to clear it. There was no way he just felt Qui-Gon's comforting presence brush against his mind. He was going insane with grief. He decided. He glanced down at the seemingly harmless braid…and that was not helping his state of mind.

He picked it up and quickly left the room. Anakin was outside on the balcony, leaning over the railing to see below. Obi-Wan didn't give him much thought as he headed for the kitchen. Before he could give a second thought, he dropped the braid into the waste dispenser.

After settling Anakin down for the night, Obi-Wan headed off to the Master's sleeping quarters, pausing at the doorway. His Master's room with his lingering presence was still strong. Would he be able to sleep there? Feeling his Master around him, but not having him there. That would be torturous. But…he would have to get use to it. There was no need pushing it for another night. If he refused to sleep in Qui-Gon's room tonight, he would never sleep there and sleeping on the couch permanently was not an option.

He forced his feet forward. With a wave of his hand the light turned on and the door closed behind him. He glanced around the room and sighed. He could do this. He could. He slowly took off his tunic and started getting ready for a restless night. He was by the closet, putting on his night tunic, when the same familiar brush of wind made him pause. He finished putting on his tunic and cautiously glanced over his shoulder. He once again froze, catching sight of his padawan braid on the pillow. He looked around the room, trying to figure out where it came from. He had thrown it out. For a second he thought Anakin had put it there, but the boy wasn't talented enough to get by him nor did he see Obi-Wan throw it out earlier. It wasn't like he told Anakin about it.

A breeze brushed his mind. "…proud…" It seemed to say. Obi-Wan shook his head. No. He was dead. He rubbed his forehead and closed his eyes. He really was going insane. He reopened his eyes. The padawan braid was still lying there. He walked over to the sleeper and reached for the braid. A feeling of warmth washed over him the moment he held it in his hands. It felt powerful, this feeling of being loved. He closed his eyes and focused on the familiar Force signature that seemed to be radiating the feelings he felt. It was so powerful he had to sit down on the sleeper. He could feel the burn of tears at the back of his eyes. "…proud…" A voice echoed in his mind.

Obi-Wan held onto his padawan braid tightly, holding it to his chest. He let the feelings with his Master's Force signature in. Just for that moment he wanted to pretend it really was from Qui-Gon, that his Master was proud of him, cared for him. He wanted it to be real, desperately so, but was unsure if he could handle believing it was real. His heart felt broken already. What would happen if he believed what he was feeling was real and it turned out not to be? He didn't think he could handle that at all. A stronger brush of warmth hit him, as if begging him to believe.

His sight suddenly blurred and he gasped as he was sucked into a vision. He used to have visions all the time, but, as the years went by and with Qui-Gon's and Yoda's help, he was able to rein them in. He hadn't had a vision in six months, a record that was just broken.

Birds sang, sunlight entered the large colorful windows, splashing the occupants with blues, reds, and yellows. He was in a familiar room. Naboo. The throne room. Yoda was standing with his lightsaber out and he saw himself kneeling in front of the Grand Master in the middle of the room. Obi-Wan stood between Yoda and himself, confused. Why was he witnessing his own Knighting? He heard Yoda say a few things, but was unable to pick up any of the words.

Still confused, Obi-Wan took a step back until he was no longer standing directly between the visions two people. When he had backed away, he saw someone at the corner of his eye. He quickly turned and froze. An all too familiar blue figure was walking towards the kneeling, distraught young man. His eyes not leaving the figure. Obi-Wan blinked. It felt like his heart stopped. All he could do was stare at him, breathing heavily in shocked wonder.

Qui-Gon Jinn stepped beside the kneeling Obi-Wan and placed a hand on his shoulder. As if he could feel it even now, the real Obi-Wan reached up and touched his own shoulder, right where Qui-Gon was placing it on the kneeling young man. Obi-Wan closed his eyes, feeling the burn of tears again. Had he really been there?

He reopened his eyes and knelt in front of the blue figure. He stared up at Qui-Gon's face, studied it, imprinting it into memory. Qui-Gon knelt down, his face staring at the vision Obi-Wan with an open expression. Obi-Wan never seen his face so opened before. His eyes seemed to shine with an emotion. Strong, bright, and warm. It caused Obi-Wan to choke up. Had this truly happened? He needed it to have happened. This couldn't be some trick in the Force. It couldn't be. The Force wouldn't that to its servants. This must have happened. And, Force, he was effected by it. His Master was there for his short and simple Knighting. It meant the world to him, just to have Qui-Gon there. He needed this to be real. He didn't know just how much he wanted his Master there until he thought he wasn't. To see this, knowing that he was…Little pieces of his heart was getting put together.

Obi-Wan studied the sharp shape of his mentor's facial structure and every winkle. He reached up to touch his face, but, like he knew it would, his hands passed right through. He barely noticed the tears that slipped pass his defenses and down his cheek. "Master…" he whispered with longing.

A green flash beside him made him jump. He turned and saw Yoda had cut off his padawan braid. It lay on the ground now. He stared at it. For some reason, it was the braid that triggered this vision. He blinked when his gaze on the braid was blocked by Yoda's long, green fingers as he picked it up. Obi-Wan turned back to Qui-Gon, who was now standing. He stood up as well.

"You are dismissed now, Knight Kenobi." Yoda's words finally broke through his hearing.

He closed his eyes, knowing what was about to happen. He heard the slight clang as the beads on the braid hit the hardwood floor. "Oh, padawan…" Obi-Wan snapped his eyes opened in surprise. He stared at his former Master. Qui-Gon's face was pulled back in pain. His eyes were reflecting the anguish inside him as he stared at the discarded braid on the ground before watching the vision Obi-Wan walk away.

Obi-Wan winced when he realized what he had done. Dropping the braid, the symbol of his apprenticeship to him, like trash on the ground was disrespectful. It was like telling Qui-Gon he didn't like him, didn't care about their time together. It was one of the worst things a padawan could do. It was an act of throwing away their relationship as if it was nothing. It did not help that later he would try and throw the braid into the waste dispenser, a stronger sign of defecting their relationship.

The regret inside of him was so strong, Obi-Wan fell to his knees before him and bowed his head in shame. "I'm so sorry, Master. I didn't mean it," he whispered, knowing his Master would not be able to hear him.

Yoda's voice broke through his shame. "Hurt him, you have. Wished you were here, but couldn't sense you were because of his grief and pain. Doubts himself, he now does."

"I know." Obi-Wan nearly burst back into tears at the sound of his Master's voice. He kept his eyes to the ground, but was able to sense Qui-Gon's movements and, at the corner of his eye, saw him kneeling before the padawan braid. "I had not meant to hurt him so. I had thought he knew. Feeling such comfort myself when I am around him, I had forgotten how insecure he could be. I failed him. I seem to have a habit of failing him."

"Yet, unwavering in his loyalty to you, he has been. Despite failures and mistakes. Carry each of your failure on his shoulders, he does and forever will."

"I know. I have to let him know he is not at fault. That I do not blame him. That I am proud of him." Obi-Wan quickly looked up at that. He relished in those words he had been longing to hear for years. Proud. His Master was proud of him. That was not the only thing that caught his attention. A weight left his shoulders. Qui-Gon did not blame him. Although, he didn't blame him, Obi-Wan couldn't help but continue to blame himself. It was nice, though, knowing he was the only one that blamed himself. But…how could Qui-Gon not blame him?

Obi-Wan glanced up, realizing he had missed the rest of Qui-Gon's words as he was in his thoughts. "And with you, Master Qui-Gon," Yoda said.

To his surprised eyes, Obi-Wan watched Qui-Gon as he picked up the fallen braid and faded away. Before he could comprehend the fact that a ghost had picked up a solid object, he felt the pull of reality as he was sucked out of the vision.

Obi-Wan gasped in air as he left the vision. He looked around still breathing heavily. He was back in the Masters sleeping chamber, sitting on the sleeper and clinching his padawan braid to his chest. He stiffly moved his hand away from his chest and stared at the braided hair. He couldn't possibly try and get rid of it now. Not after that. He held the braid almost reverently before placing it carefully on the nightstand. It would be as revered as the river stone Qui-Gon had given him for his thirteenth birthday. Another link to his late Master, a connection to him. The proof that he was once Qui-Gon Jinn's padawan. The proof that his Master was proud of him.

He couldn't believe his Master was there at his Knighting. It was every padawan's dream to hand over their braid to their proud Masters…a dream that was shattered when Qui-Gon died. Although he still didn't hand the braid over to him, it made Obi-Wan breathe easier knowing his Master was there.

He placed his braid on the stand by the sleep couch and reached into his pocket. His fingers traced the smooth surface of the riverstone before pulling it out. The black exterior of the stone was warm from his pocket, but seeing it seemed to have burned love into his soul, fixing the broken heart piece by piece. He set the riverstone down next to his braid. His hand brushed the soft texture of his braid one last time. "Thank you," he whispered into the air. He was unsure who or what exactly he was thanking. His Master for being there, the Force for allowing him to be there, fate for letting Obi-Wan know Qui-Gon was there...He just didn't know. Maybe he was thanking all of the above and he was thankful for all of it.

With his heart in his chest feeling better, although still not completely whole, Obi-Wan settled down on the sleeper. He waved his hands and the lights went out. With the familiar presence of Qui-Gon around him, almost protectively, watching over him as he slept, Obi-Wan was able to get the first restful night of sleep since his Master's death.

The End