Author's note: Noela belongs to me and was based on the user Noelie. She can be first found in [link=http://boards.theforce.net/before_the_saga/b10475/23095764/p1/?46]Cruel and Unusual Romance[/link], but this is my first attempt to use her beyond that. I hope you enjoy this. It was inspired by listening to "Ashokan Farewell" on the Civil War soundtrack, left on repeat a few many times. Who knew that Appalachian fiddle music could put me in the mood to write a Utahn and a Scot talking about a dead Irishman? ***** He couldn't honestly remember a time when he had been able to separate the two. Qui-Gon had not been in love with the woman; their relationship had passed beyond the need for romance even before Qui-Gon passed beyond the pubescent need for hormones. Certainly, she had eventually moved past any romantic inclinations she had ever harbored for him. Three unnecessarily enthusiastic children and a very happy marriage were evidence of that. Nevertheless, it had been a fact of matter that the former Senator of Alderaan had been almost as much a part of Qui-Gon Jinn's family as Obi-Wan himself. Diplomatic courtesy demanded that he address her as Senator, but today, he had no desire to adhere to diplomatic courtesy. He owed that much to Noela. When she opened the door, however, he knew immediately that he didn't have to tell her that Qui-Gon was dead. Certainly, she might have heard of it on the newscasts, since he had been mentioned with inadequate praise by every sentient capable of caring about Naboo. She might have found the information on the casualty lists that he knew she perused too regularly. Knowing her, there was a part of her, the part that Qui-Gon teasingly referred to as her rebellious midichlorian, that had known her loss the moment it had happened. They had not loved each other, not in the way that most people thought of what passed between a man and a woman of a responsible age, but they had possessed a love that would have not allowed her to ignore when part of her died. "You came alone," she said quietly. "I'd hoped to meet this child that Qui-Gon had so much faith in." There was something inordinately sad in the fact that Qui-Gon had been able to speak to her about Anakin, but had fallen short in his ability to speak civilly on the matter to the young man who was the closest thing that he'd ever sad. Nevertheless, Obi-Wan quashed these feelings and offered a wry smile. "Even the Chosen One has classes," he said dryly, "and I wasn't interested in making a scene." "Nor was I," she conceded, turning away from the door to let him pass. "Maybe that's why I asked you to come when the others would be at work or school." It was a plausible excuse. It was not so much in the look in her eyes as she surveyed his face to find a confirmation of the gut-wrenching rumors that kept his tongue. It was the fact that, for the first time that he could remember, Noela looked old. The silver in her golden hair was barely noticeable and she certainly had managed to keep every trace of wrinkles out of the places that could not show laugh lines, but he only had to look into the pale blue of her eyes to recognize a weariness that he had never expected to find. It was the same expression that he had abhorred in the mirror every day since he had left a reactor chamber in Theed. He did not condemn it, only wished that it had stayed in his own eyes instead of plaguing those Qui-Gon had cared about until the last moment. "How did you find out?" he asked without further preamble. "I have my connections in the news," she admitted, crossing to where the familiar decanter of Alderaanian green rested on the side board. " He was not surprised to find her offering him that wine, much as he hated it. It was simply the vintage that Qui-Gon had presented to her upon the occasion of her wedding in memory of far too many years of sharing the vile concoction. "I'm not much of a sentimentalist," she said as if reading his mind, "but since I won't be able to..."