Title: Song of Rest Author: AngelQueen Timeframe: Six months post AotC Characters: Obi-Wan, Sabé, Anakin, Padmé Genre: mostly General, though some hints at Romance Keywords: rest, music Summary: A trip to an ancient temple on Naboo provides Obi-Wan a chance to rest from the labors of war. Notes: This story is a response to the Winter Holiday Challenge at Fate Forbidden. Long live Sobiwan! ----- Obi-Wan Kenobi stared out the speeder window, taking in the snow that covered the Naboovian countryside. After six months of constant battle, the Jedi Council had finally allowed him and his Padawan to take shore leave by the way of escorting Senator Amidala home to observe one of her people’s religious ceremonies. He sighed. It had been a long trip. Watching Anakin and the Senator dance around one another while pretending to be completely blind to it grated on his already taxed nerves. For years, he’d maintained that Anakin would be the death of him, but even all they had been through for the past eleven years could not compare to what Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala had conspired unleash upon him. They were playing with fire. Their feelings were obvious to anyone with eyes. Anakin had always carried his heart on his sleeve, but Obi-Wan thought that the Senator would never have been so foolish to dabble in an illicit romance that could cost her everything she had worked so hard for. He’d always thought Senator Amidala a practical, pragmatic woman, but now she was acting like, well, a silly schoolgirl. He shook his head wearily, and rubbed his eyes. He had not slept properly in months, having been so engulfed in the business of this war. He hoped this shore leave would grant him a time to rest his mind. “Anakin, Obi-Wan,” Padmé spoke up quietly. Obi-Wan turned to look at the Senator. She sat across from him, wrapped in the warmth of a white, fur-lined cloak. Her expression mirrored his own weariness at the moment. “We should be arriving within the next few minutes,” she told them, “but I need to explain this ritual to you. There are things you should be aware of.” Obi-Wan glanced briefly at his Padawan, who only continued to stare at the Senator with a curious expression. Obi-Wan turned back to her and nodded. “The Rite of Valoria is a tradition that goes back to the first days of my people’s inhabitation of Naboo. Historians are not certain whether it was brought from our original home world or if it was first created here, only that it has been passed down from generation to generation. Every child on Naboo is taught the ritual from the cradle,” she explained. She paused a moment, her eyes sweeping over both their expressions, and then continued. “When we enter the temple, there will be three acolytes who will take our cloaks. We will then step into the great hall, where the priestesses will be gathered in prayer. Follow me to the high altar, where we shall present our gifts to -” “Gifts,” Anakin interrupted, “What gifts? We didn’t -” Padmé waved her hand at him, calling for silence. “It’s already been taken care of. I’ll give you the gifts you will present when we get there. After we have presented our gifts to honor the spirits, we must then join the inner circle around the High Priestess.” She then smiled at them, now appearing rather enigmatic. “Don’t worry about doing anything else beyond that. Just follow your instincts.” Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow. He trusted her, as much as he trusted any politician – Especially one who is seducing – Don’t go there. “Is there anything else we should be aware of?” he inquired, careful to keep his inner thoughts masked. “We do not wish to offend anyone during such an important occasion. Perhaps we should wait outside -” He was cut off both by Padmé’s reassurances and a dirty look from Anakin. Clearly, his Padawan was unhappy at the thought of sitting in the cold with only his master for company. He must prefer the warmth of – Don’t go there! “You’ll be fine, Obi-Wan,” Padmé assured him. “Just follow my lead.” She paused, considering him for a moment. Then, she said, “Though, I will tell you something. These Priestesses belong to perhaps one of the oldest religious orders on Naboo. They’ve played a part in the affairs of this world for centuries. When I was elected Queen, one of their junior priestesses left the temple to serve as one of my handmaidens. Such a gesture had not been given since the end of the Jafan dynasty.” She raised an eyebrow and glanced at Obi-Wan. “I believe you remember Sabé, don’t you?” Memories of the clever young woman who had disguised herself as the Queen surfaced. He remembered how she and her fellow handmaidens had managed to keep him from discovering the truth behind the ruse they had perpetuated on the outside world. It wasn’t until later, after Padmé herself had revealed the truth, that Obi-Wan had been able to appreciate the shrewdness of the young woman he had thought was the true Queen. So, yes, he remembered her. “She was a junior priestess then, one of their most accomplished. After my second term on the throne ended, Sabé returned to the temple,” Padmé continued, unaware of Obi-Wan’s distraction. She smiled, adding, “Just a year ago, she became the High Priestess of the entire older, one of the youngest to ever hold the position.” Obi-Wan nodded, taking in the information. He leaned back and returned his gaze to the snow-covered landscape that continued to pass them by. He barely noted that Anakin and Padmé continued to speak in soft, deliberate tones. Eventually, the speeder came to a halt. Just before they stepped out, Padmé handed Obi-Wan a small object wrapped in a thin, red cloth. Anakin received a similar object, only wrapped in green, while Padmé kept one for herself, wrapped in gold. After they had vacated the speeder, she led the two of them up a path that had been recently swept clear of snow toward a structure that Obi-Wan thought looked more like a villa than a temple. Just before the large doors opened to admit them, Padmé murmured, “Remember, follow your instincts. Let the music guide you.” Anakin looked ready to speak up at that point, but was interrupted by the doors opening to admit them to the temple. As Padmé had told them, there were three acolytes standing in the foyer, waiting to take their cloaks. All three women were clad in white robes with a matching white hood, which obscured their features. Padmé unwrapped her cloak from her body and laid it in the waiting arms of the acolyte closest to hers. Obi-Wan and Anakin hastened to follow her example, juggling the parcels in their hands. As Padmé turned to enter the great hall, Obi-Wan and Anakin moved to follow, coming up just behind either of her shoulders. As they swept into the hall, Obi-Wan observed the number of priestesses and acolytes lining the path through the hall and up to the altar. Those women too wore white robes and hoods that obscured their features. As they strode forward, Obi-Wan could not help but feel curious. Ever since the events at Geonosis that had plunged the Republic into war, the Force had darkened, grown heavy and difficult to draw upon. He could feel the Jedi’s collective strength beginning to fail. Now, though inside this temple, the Force had begun to clear, almost like the dawn. It was a feeling he had almost forgotten. When they at last reached the altar, Padmé stepped forward and, after unwrapping her parcel, placed the object on the altar’s surface. Over her shoulder, Obi-Wan could see a set of elegant white and blue candles. She turned then and silently motioned for him to come forward and repeat her actions. He did so, and unwrapped the parcel he had been given. It was a small, jeweled ornament decorated to appear like a planet, perhaps Naboo itself. As he set the ornament down on the altar, a feeling of warmth began to fuse with him, starting at his feet and traveling up his body. The Force did not warn him of any threat, but the sensation, no matter how relaxing, set him on edge. Once Anakin had presented his own parcel, Padmé again led them toward a door off to the left of the altar. As they slipped through, Obi-Wan saw a group of ten priestesses, each holding a long white unlit candle, all gathered in a large circle. One of the priestesses moved, allowing the three of them to enter the circle. Once they had entered the circle, Obi-Wan saw a smaller circle, this one made up entirely of the same kind of candles that the women were holding. Within that circle stood another priestess. She, however, was dressed differently than her cohorts, having donned robes decorated in swirls of red, gold, and white. This priestess hood was also drawn over her features, but when Obi-Wan reached out carefully with the Force, he discovered a warm, familiar presence, one full of kindness and amusement. Sabé. She knew he was here. She knew he sought her out through the Force. Greetings, my old friend. It has been a long time. Obi-Wan started in surprise. She remembered him? He had not thought himself so memorable. Do you remember what I taught you, Obi-Wan? What you taught me? She remembered this? It had been a shock to find someone so sensitive to the Force and yet was not Force sensitive herself. Obi-Wan had been fascinated to interact with someone so unique. Listen, listen and remember… And then the music began. The priestesses in the outer circle were singing the song in Basic, but Obi-Wan barely heard them. Instead, he was enthralled by the woman before him. He did not know the tongue she sang in, but when she sang, the Force seemed tos ing along with her, expanding outward from her very being and wrapping all in a blanket of peace. "Depone, carita amori meii Astri nathrae milanim satrait Notic tierra, mantic tempia Alya sanei, carita amori meii Namae anorit doritia sailii Ray mina artis astri tierra..." Obi-Wan closed his eyes. The music, her voice, all of it was so soothing. It seeped into his tired mind, his aching body. He had not felt anything like this in so long… it was as if he had forgotten what it was to be still, to be at peace. "Depone, carita amori meii Astri nathrae milanim satrait Notic tierra, mantic tempia Mania elle sarii atia elle Larata shii erat mellina Sanit rayit minat astri telia Depone, depone, nem depone Carita amori meii, carita meii Amora mae, amoras tae amorat sae Depone, carita…" Then, as quickly as it had begun, it was over. The ten priestesses curtsied to Sabé and then left the room, their candles in hand. Obi-Wan did not move as Sabé knelt down in the small circle and blew out the candles that surrounded her. He did, however, glance at his other two companions. Padmé had an expression of smiling contentment, her eyes having taken on a dreamy element. Anakin’s expression, however, was greatly troubled, and he was staring at Sabé, looking strangely… fearful of her. Obi-Wan’s thoughts on the others were interrupted when Sabé appeared in front of him. Her hood had come down, allowing him to see her unimpeded. She had changed, certainly, had grown. It was easy to recall the young woman ho had covered herself in face paints and ornate gowns in order to convince everyone she was the Queen of Naboo. In truth, Obi-Wan had only ever seen her outside of that disguise a couple of times before he had left Naboo behind. Now, though, she stood before him in her own guise, in a niche that she had sought for herself, and was recognized for her own achievements. Had not Padmé said that Sabé’s position was one that was highly honored among their people? “Hello, Master Jedi.” Had her voice grown softer, smoother over the years, he wondered? Her eyes were brightened than he remembered as they sparkled cheerfully at him. Softly, he replied, “Greetings, milady. It is an honor to see you again.” Sabé smiled benignly at him before stepping away to greet Padmé with an embrace and a cordial nod to Anakin. Obi-Wan again noted Anakin’s continued wariness of Sabé, but did nothing to call attention to it for the moment. He sensed no urgency to the situation, and both he and Anakin were exhausted. They would do better when they were rested and renewed. “… welcome to remain here for the evening,” he heard Sabé say. “My acolytes have already prepared rooms for you.” Padmé smiled. “Thank you, Sabé.” Obi-Wan saw her glance at both him and Anakin before adding, “We’re all exhausted and a night in the temple may be just what we need.” Sabé nodded and gestured to the door where, Obi-Wan saw, two acolytes were waiting. He moved to follow Anakin and Padmé out the door, but a small touch to his arm brought him to a halt. “Stay a moment, Master Jedi,” Sabé requested softly. “I would speak with you.” He nodded. “As you wish, milady.” He looked at her expectantly as the last of the acolytes closed the door behind those who had left the room. Surprisingly, she turned away from him and began to collect the candles that were still on the floor. “You’ve been making quite a stir lately,” she said. “I hear people speaking of you, calling you ‘the Negotiator.’ Talking your way out of a fight.” She laughed, sounding rather wistful. “It’s not that surprising, though. You did manage to talk the Tusken Raiders into setting me free without bloodshed.” He stared at her, unsure of her purpose. He certainly had not forgotten the rather… embarrassing incident during their brief sojourn on Tatooine when Sabé, disguised as the Queen, had been kidnapped by the primitive raiders who inhabited the deserts, forcing him to chase after them and secure her release. She had been under his protection, so it had been his duty to free her. He did not take pride in that, or in any of his other, more recent, actions. They had been his duty, something that simply had to be done. Sabé stood and turned to him. Her gaze swept over his face. “You’re exhausted, my old friend,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper. She moved toward him. Her palm cupped his cheek carefully, and Obi-Wan’s eyelids seemed to grow even heavier. He wanted nothing more than to close his eyes then and rest, secure in the knowledge that she was watching over him. A guardian for the guardian. That’s a new one. “Come with me,” she ordered him suddenly, taking his hand and leading him out of the room. They moved past the altar and through the main hall, but toward a different area than the one he and the others had come from. She guided him down a dimly lit hallway, pas a number of closed doors. Obi-Wan let her lead him. His exhaustion was overtaking him, and her voice and presence had torn down the remnant of his defenses. Eventually, they came to a halt in front of a door and Sabé opened it and led him inside. The room was decorated rather simply, appearing no grander than what any other member of the order would likely be entitled to. A small tree sat in the corner by the window, decorated by various ornaments. Including, Obi-Wan noted vaguely, the ornament he had placed on the altar earlier in the evening. A fire burned in the fireplace, permeating the room with a cozy, welcoming heat. Sabé led him over to her bed and had if he’d still had the strength, he would have questioned the propriety of such a move. “Lady down,” she instructed him. “You will rest here tonight.” “Milady… is that -” She pushed him down, cutting him off as she tugged and pulled at his boots. Much to his chagrin, he felt his eyes closing. She has bewitched me… No, my friend, you have exhausted yourself. I give you the gift of rest. In a storm such as this that rages in the galaxy, it is the only gift in my power to give you. My time as a soldier has come to an end. Yours is just beginning. She did remember. She could still speak to him… He surrendered to her. He could not resist her lure, or the lure of the aura that had infused this place. I don’t even know what it is they were celebrating… The last thing he heard were the words, “May the grace of winter’s Lady be with you, Obi-Wan Kenobi.” The last thing he felt were soft lips brushing across his in a tender kiss. Then, for a time, he rested.