Anakin was dejected.
Sitting on one of the couch on the Nubian starship, going back to Naboo to help Padmé and the Queen, he could not sleep. He could only think about what the Jedi Council told him.
If Master Qui-Gon couldn’t make them change their minds, he would never be a Jedi. He would have left his mother behind for nothing.
He sniffled, wiping a lone tear. He would not cry, he wasn’t…
There was a slight sound and he whipped his head around, startled.
A tall figure was making his way through the room, oblivious to his presence, taking a cushion from one of the couches and kneeling on it.
It took a minute for him to recognize Obi-Wan, Master Qui-Gon’s apprentice, and he flinched. The young man… did not have kind words to say about him, even if he was probably not supposed to hear, before their departure.
But Anakin was a nine years old. A curious nine years old.
“What are you doing ?” he asked, gathering his courage.
There was a slight movement coming from the other man, before he answered.
“To calm myself. I cannot sleep.”
“Why here ? If it’s to sleep, it would be better in your room, no ?”
Obi-Wan opened his eyes, turning his head to look at him.
He had a smirk on his lips.
“My Master snores.”
Anakin couldn’t help it. He laughed.
But some of his sadness must have slipped through his voice, because the young Jedi frowned.
“Are you crying ?”
Ignoring Anakin’s denial -he was NOT, he was perfectly fine-, Obi-Wan rose and joined him.
“What is it ? What’s wrong ?”
“Why do you care ? You don’t like me.”
“You heard me talking to Qui-Gon.” he said.
Anakin nodded, his eyes downcast.
“Anakin… I’m sorry. You have nothing to do with this, I was… speaking in anger.”
Anakin looked at him, surprised.
“What ? But, the little green Master, he said that anger was a bad thing. Like fear.”
And if they would not train him because he felt fear, why would they train Obi-Wan ?
“It is.” said the young man. “But we’re humans, we feel in spite of what we aspire to be, even Jedi. That why I was medidating. To release that anger, to free myself from it.”
Anakin stared at him.
“Then… you don’t hate me ?”
“No. No, I don’t.”
He lifted his hand to ruffle Anakin’s hair, before taking a small strand of it, just behind his ear.
“After we free Naboo, I’ll take my Trials and become a Jedi Knight… and Qui-Gon will take you as his Padawan. That’ll make a good start for your braid.”
Anakin touched the hair, entwining his fingers with Obi-Wan’s.
“You really believe that ?”
“I do. Qui-Gon said you’ll be a Jedi, and I believe in him, more than anything. You will be his Padawan.”
Obi-Wan smiled, letting go of the small strand of hair to ruffle the rest, again.
Anakin was worried.
The rush and joy of the battle, the triumph of blowing up that huge ship, were fading. Everyone was celebrating, they had won…
But he could not see Master Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan.
When the tall Jedi appeared at last, relief flooded through Anakin and he ran towards him, almost colliding against his legs.
Master Qui-Gon barely noticed.
“Master Qui-Gon, are you alright ? Where’s that red and black guy ? Did you beat him ?”
The Jedi did not answer, dropping his hand on Anakin’s shoulder.
“Master Qui-Gon ? Where’s Obi-Wan ?”
Anakin had never seen the two Jedi appart since they had rejoined when leaving Tatooine, the Padawan -his brother-to-be, he had a brother- always near his Master.
Qui-Gon flinched, his hand tightened and dread filled Anakin.
Anakin was sad.
He had never been so sad in his entire life, standing there as flames engulfed Obi-Wan’s body.
He was not supposed to die.
He was supposed to be there, become a Jedi Knight and become his brother.
“What will I do, now, Master Qui-Gon ?” he whispered, searching for comfort.
The tall Jedi looked at him.
“Now… you will be a Jedi, Anakin. I will train you, as I said.”
But the warmth in Qui-Gon’s words had left, dying somewhere under Theed’s palace, beside a melting pit.
The only warmth in the room was coming from the pyre, and it was only icing their hearts.
Anakin was grim, as Qui-Gon was cutting his hair.
The hands were not harsh, but they weren’t gentle either.
Anakin gripped tighter the strand of hair behind his ear, his future Padawan braid.
The exact same strand Obi-Wan had chosen.
Anakin was disgusted.
He had had such high hopes for his future. Master Qui-Gon would train him, he would have a companionship with Obi-Wan, a Master and a brother, a family, to help soothe the loss of his mom.
He would become a Jedi Knight, and then go back to Tatooine to free her, and then, life would be perfect.
Instead, he would not be a Knight for several long years yet, his mother was far from his reach, his brother was dead, and his Master… his Master hated him. Disliked him, at best, since Jedi were not supposed to hate.
Qui-Gon no longer looked at him. He looked through him, his gaze still lost towards Naboo.
Anakin was lonely.
He had been too old to be in the creche, and already a Padawan learner to boot, expected to live with his Master. He had been looking forward to meet and play with children his age… but it was not to be.
Perhaps for the better. In half of his classes, he was the oldest one, feeling dumb when learning the same things as five years old, and no connection towards his younger classmates.
In the other half, he was the same age or a bit younger… but they were all still Initiates, not Padawans, and he could feel the jealousy, the ressentment some of them sent his way. He was an outsider there too.
Anakin had no friends.
For months, Anakin had hoped salvation would come from the older ones, the Padawans learner, older than him but wiser, kinder, than the children. Obi-Wan’s exemple shined through his memory, his first slight forgotten, Anakin focusing on his apology, the precious moment on the couch where he was called a brother, and the few hours after that, basking in the warmth of Obi-Wan’s arms and talking about everything and nothing.
But the older Padawans and young Knights… weren’t like that. They were not Obi-Wan, they were not patient and kind. Some of them smiled at him, but it was just in passing. A lot of them watched from afar and whispered.
Everything would have been ok, if only Obi-Wan had been here.
Anakin had no brother.
And his Master…
Anakin had no Master.
Anakin was hateful.
He was sick, and tired, of being compared to a dead man. It was NOT his fault Obi-Wan died ! He missed him too, and could not talk about it to the one SUPPOSED to help him, because Qui-Gon harshly told him to shut up every time his dead Padawan was mentionned.
It was NOT his fault, and to be honest, it was more Qui-Gon’s fault than his ! Wasn’t he supposed to be a Jedi Master, good with the lightsaber ? He should have killed the Sith before the Sith killed Obi-Wan ! He should have protected Anakin’s brother, his own Padawan !
But then, Master Qui-Gon didn’t seem to know how to care for his Padawans, did he ?
Everything would have been better if it was Obi-Wan that had lived. If Qui-Gon had DIED !
Anakin screamed into his pillow, Darkness rolling around him.
Anakin was frustrated.
Why was he supposed to care about the economic and political structure of Abregado-rae ? He didn’t know the damn planet ! He wasn’t even sure how to say the name ! Abregado-ray ? Abregadoo-rAey ?
I sure does not miss that gigantic pile of endless shit.
Anakin started, looking around him. He was alone in his room, his Mas… Qui Gon having left, alone, for a mission.
Oh, sure. OF COURSE you’d finally hear me when I’m swearing.
Anakin was doubtful.
For three years, he had begun to hear voices when he was either very relaxed, medidating, or, paradoxically, deeply annoyed.
They weren’t many possible explications : he could be haunted by a ghost, this could be a… strange ability because if was the so-called ‘Chosen One’ or… or he was going crazy.
The third possibility filled him with dread. He was pretty sure crazy people did not become Jedi Knights.
He was terrified, and did not dare speak of it, searching for answers and solutions on his own.
He had never spent so much times in the Archives on his own volition before.
Anakin was so preoccupied by it that, at first, he did not notice Qui-Gon… changing.
The Jedi began to ask him about his day. Offered to help him with his research. Gave him advice to improve and speed up his reading.
At first, Anakin believed that Qui-Gon had discovered his illness, was trying to gather information and proof to expel him.
And then, Master Qui-Gon apologized.
Anakin was giddy.
The last six years had been… good. Better. Always improving.
First, he was pretty sure he was not crazy. He still heard voices now and then, had really realistic dreams, saw objects flying without any Force-use on his part… but he was now sure that it was a ghost.
A specific ghost. A ghost he could not quite see, yet, but who was helping him.
A nudge against his elbow during a kata.
A book opened at a specific page before an exam.
A set of coordinate already entered inside a navcom when they were tracking someone.
Endless tugs on his braid.
He was beginning to suspect WHO was haunting him. He dared not hope, not yet, but…
Second, the ice around his Master’s heart had melted. What Anakin now recognized as grief had begun to… settle. Heal. Slowly, Qui-Gon had opened himself to the world again, and to his Padawan.
He had apologized, several times, and made good on his promises.
Anakin now had a propre Master, one he had grown to respect for good during the last years, one he was growing to really love like he had always dreamed of.
The Darkness clouding his thoughts and dragging him down was gone.
Third, they were assigned to Senator Amidala, as bodyguards.
He was going to see Padmé again !
Anakin was glad.
When they had left for Naboo, to hide and protect Padmé on the Jedi Council’s orders, they had missed the big public starship supposed to take them there, because Anakin had… temporarily misplaced his lightsaber.
He was sure it was NOT him that had hidden it under Master Yoda’s council chair.
Then, Padmé had been furious at him from reprogramming their small craft’s navicom toward Tatooine.
He HAD NOT. He put Naboo coordinates inside, he was sure of it.
But he took the opportunity to speak to her about his dreams, about the dread he was feeling for his mother, and she agreed to go to Tatooine.
She even smacked him on the head, saying he should have told her. She had fond memories of Shmi Skywalker.
Their small shift landed next to a moisture farm, to Anakin’s growing puzzlement.
Until he discovered that the owner, Cliegg Lars, had MARRIED HIS MOTHER.
Then he just glared at empty space, hoping a certain ghost was feeling ashamed for his meddling.
Discovering that his mother had been abducted less than three weeks ago put a damper on the revelation, and he left in a hurry to find her.
Tusken Raiders’ lairs where often harder to find but Anakin had a bit of ghostly help.
(Footprints on the sand ? Honestly ? His ghost was NOT a subtle one)
When he found his mother, battered but still alive, and strong enough to make it, his relief was almost not enough to prevent him from taking revenge.
And then, he got a fistful of sand in his face, and a harsh tug on his Padawan braid.
So, Anakin was glad. He had not succumbed to his Darker emotions, brought his mother home… and now, his slight regret that he would not spend time alone with Padmé on Naboo was also soothed by the fond looks she was sending him when she watched him nurse his mother back to health, or interact with his new step-family.
Anakin was in love.
He knew it was love, and not a silly crush. He knew Padmé felt the same, after her declaration on Geonosis.
The Force sang to him with joy, telling him that it was right, despite the Jedi Code.
He would tell his Master, when they came back for Naboo, but he would not regret marrying her.
Better ask for forgiveness than permission, and all that, right ?
Qui-Gon wouldn’t be able to protest much. Was he not the ultimate Master when it came to defy the Jedi Council ?
The violent tug on his braid made him cry out.
“Ow ! Come on, Obi-Wan, stop doing that !”
There was a second of silence, and then, the Force brightened with joy.
Anakin was laughing.
Adrenaline was rushing through him as he was running with Force-enhanced speed, dodging blaster bolts with impossible ease.
He was feeling the slight pressure against his side, telling him to duck, the quiet whisper in his head, telling him where the shooters were, the grumbling muttering in the Force, telling him he was a reckless idiot.
He could hear all that, but the clones couldn’t. And Rex’s expression, when Anakin joined him, was priceless, oscillating between atonishement at his stunt and despair at his attitude.
If Anakin hadn’t been his Commander but one of his brothers instead, the Jedi was pretty sure he would be getting the bitching of his life right now.
So he laughed.
Anakin was peaceful.
They were on leave for a few days, and on Coruscant, which meant he had made his report alongside Qui-Gon, taken a shower… and fled toward 500 Republica.
He was now sprawled on a luxurious couch, his head in Padmé’s lap as she was playing with his hair, telling him about the last months on Coruscant.
The lights had dimmed on their own, soothing the headaches they both were feeling, and they enjoyed their precious time together.
Anakin was happy.
Tonight, in front of the whole Jedi Council, and in front of his Master, he had been made a Jedi Knight.
Grandmaster Yoda had said the words, and his braid had been severed, leaving him a Knight of the Jedi Order.
The Force radiated with happiness and pride but Anakin was pretty sure a certain hanger-on was not expecting his next move.
He was now suspecting that Master Qui-Gon knew something of their ghostly visitor, for the Jedi had not been surprised when Anakin only offered him half of his braid.
Now, Anakin was kneeling on his medidation mat, the rest of the braid resting in an incense burning plate.
“Obi-Wan ? Are you there ?”
The Force resonated with a sense of acknoledgement, and of curiosity.
Anakin lighted the half-braid on fire.
“For you. Qui-Gon has been my Master, but I owe you so much more. Without you, I would be dead ten times over, I would have lost my mother… I would not know how to control my emotions. I would have let my anger guide me so many times… Without you, I would not be a Jedi Knight. That is the definition of a Master, is it not ? So there.”
As the braid burned, Anakin began to see more and more of a glowing shape in front of him, kneeling on the other side of the mat.
Soon, there was a Force-ghost looking at him in wonder.
Who knew that ghosts could cry ?
“I missed you.”
I never left.
“I know. I missed you still.”
“But I will not miss your tendency to tug on that damn braid, you know ?”
And then, Anakin felt a hand ruffling his hair.