Many thanks to Rachel for the education, and to Erin for worrying about exactly how cringe-worthy is this going to be, Rosalie? Hope I don’t live up to your fears.
This story is one of the few I have ever dedicated: it’s for the splendid person who inspired Kijé. You know who you are. Happy Valentine’s Day, my own darling.
The low, dappled light of a blasted forest, trees leafless, lifeless, dead as the hard dirt at their roots. Cold and dim as night, although as nearly as he could guess it was noon. But no guess could be terribly near, not with the roaring darkness all around him, the roaring darkness inside his mind, pulsing sluggishly through every vein, shrieking like a vibrosaw as it cut his sanity to shreds. Couldn’t move. Couldn’t speak. Couldn’t breathe, for Force sake… Arrgh! Very suddenly could breathe, but the room was dark and he could see nothing.
In the distance, impossibly far away, there was a tiny flicker of golden light. A flicker of golden danger. Yanking himself instantly into full consciousness, he groped for his lightsaber. But the distant light was friendly.
“Master Obi-Wan?” Slender fingers shielding a guttering candle from the draft through the open door. “Are you all right?” Worry turned to sympathy in the flicker of a flame. “Was it a really bad one this time?”
“Zigoola.” Yes, it was a short answer, but no more than that was necessary.
“Oh. If – I mean, I’ve found that if you tell someone about it, you dream it less.”
“No. I will not ever tell you about Zigoola. There are things in this Galaxy that should not be told, and certainly never to children. I don’t want you to know. Go back to bed.”
“Yes, Master. As you wish.”
Although it was the policy of the Order to give newly assigned Padawans and their Masters as few missions as possible for at least three months, when the Master in question was Obi-Wan Kenobi… well, the usual rules did not apply. And so, Obi-Wan and the two Padawans most recently assigned to him were off to war after no more than four weeks together.
Going away. Going off to fight, to relieve the two Jedi currently commanding the battalion at Zayam III. Obi-Wan had insisted on being returned to the duty lists: “Because the children can take it.” Being able to “take it”, the Padawans considered, was a very poor qualification for fighting with a unit whose casualty rate was close to the Galaxy’s highest. Belonging to Obi-Wan Kenobi was rather better, but… odds were one or other of them, or, Force forbid, their Master, would not return to the Temple.
Returning to his quarters from a last-minute meeting with Yoda and Mace Windu, discussing plans and strategy, Obi-Wan found Siri Tachi waiting for him at the door.
“So it’s true,” she said sadly. “You’re for Zayam.”
“Yes. We ship out this evening. Come in?”
In the main room of the quarters, Siri studied her friend as if trying to memorize every line of his face. “It’s goodbye, right.”
Despite the order of the words, it was not a question, but Obi-Wan answered it as one anyway. “If the Force wills it.”
Walking idly across the room, Siri picked up an inkpencil from the table and rolled it in her fingers. “Not like last time, Obi, please.”
“Getting captured and -”
“All right.” His hand rested on her shoulder for just an instant. “I’ll certainly try not to. Repeating oneself does become tedious, after all.”
“This is no joking matter. I’m… so frightened I’ll lose you again.”
“Siri…” Something in his voice made her turn quickly to face him. “For what it’s worth, I promise you, if I can return I will.” Instinctively, Siri wrapped her arms around Obi-Wan and hugged him. At first he tentatively stroked her hair, but finally gave in and hugged back.
Feeling suddenly secure, she looked up at him and begged, “Why do you have to go? You don’t have to be on the list, Obi-Wan, not yet. I wish you could stay.”
“Siri, no. We can’t do this.” Obi-Wan bent to kiss her lightly on the forehead, like a friend or a brother, but Siri tilted her head back, taking the kiss on her mouth.
As he pulled back slightly, bemused, Obi-Wan repeated, “We can’t,” but did not move farther away.
“We can. I’m just a girl saying goodbye to a friend.” Siri stood on tiptoe, so that their faces were barely an inch apart.
“Goodbye.” As his lips parted around the word, they brushed gently over hers. Heart pounding, Siri did not move. She could feel his breath, warm against her cheek, and the soft scratch of his beard. The Force eddied about them, half-blank with too many thoughts impossible to put into words.
One brief eternity later, breaking apart, soul still locked in the clear blue of Obi-Wan’s eyes, Siri smiled up at him. “I love you.” A feeling of being more connected to him than she’d ever been to anyone else. There could be no undoing it. They would share a bond for ever after.
“We made a vow.”
“We did.” Gently disengaging herself from his embrace, she unclipped a ring, set with a fiery golden tourmaline, from a chain around her neck, and pressed it into his hand. “Do me a favor? Wear this for me until you come home safely. As a symbol of… what you’ve vowed never to accept. As a symbol of my love.”
“Siri…” But he slipped the ring onto his finger anyway.
In the Archives, quite a different scene played out. Nasriel crept quietly up behind Madame Nu’s assistant as he stood in one of the narrow aisles, recalibrating a corrupt file, and tapped him on the shoulder.
Without looking around, he sighed, and brushed off her hand. “Hi, Witch.”
“Hi, Kijé. Uh, listen, I’m not gonna be in for a few weeks. Master Obi-Wan and Ben and I are heading for Zayam tonight.”
“Okay.” Nodding disinterestedly, his head whipped suddenly about to stare at her in horrified disbelief. “Zayam? Oh my. Witch, be careful.”
“Kijé, I’m…” crying? This was ridiculous. Jedi did not cry. “I’m so scared.”
“Shh. Of course you are. You’re going to Zayam, for Force sake. Keep it down, will you? This is the Archives.”
It was hopeless: she was already past the whimpering stage, and really weeping in earnest. Glancing an apology to Madame Nu – I’m sorry my friend is crying in your domain – Kijé hastily folded Nasriel into his arms, muffling her sobs in his rough grey tunic – an easy task, he was at least a foot taller than her.
“Come on, Nas, stop it. It’s all right. Shh. Shut up, chenexenu, you’re making a scene.”
“S-sorry. Sorry, Kij, it’s just… what if I die out there?” Back to breathless, hiccupy gasps for air, Nasriel struggled to speak clearly. “What if he dies?”
“Who? Master Kenobi? He won’t. Look at me, Witch.” When she obediently raised her head, “Dear Force,” Kijé sighed in amused exasperation. “You look terrible. Listen closely. Obi-Wan Kenobi is not going to die at Zayam, because if he does we will lose the war. It’s as simple as that.”
He was interrupted by a voice from the end of the aisle: somebody sounding sharply taken aback. “What in the name of… Padawan Yenseh, may I ask what this means?”
“Oh. Um, hello, Master Kenobi. We were just talking about you.”
“I could be wrong,” Obi-Wan said civilly, “but it appears that you are either contravening the Code’s stipulations against attachment and – ah – hm. Or attempting to contravene them. May I ask what is going on?”
Wondering what he could say to avoid either lying or embarrassing his friend in front of her Master, Kijé eventually settled on, “Nasriel was a little upset, sir. As we’ve been best friends since we came to the Temple together, I didn’t think it would be incorrect to give her a hug and try to comfort her.”
“Very well. Is she all right now?”
Turning slightly, Nasriel replied in a subdued tone, “Yes, Master.”
“Good. I came to find you to say that if you think you’ll need a blaster, get one from the stores here. Sign in my name if they don’t want to give it to you.”
“But… I can borrow one at the battle station, can’t I?”
“No. The situation at Zayam is… worse, so we are doing what Rex calls ‘going in hot’; straight from here to the ground. Which means you need to come with me right now because Mace wants to be sure you and Ben understand what’s going on as well. Padawan Yenseh… if you would be so kind as to release my apprentice?”
“Oh… yeah. Sorry, sir. See you later, Witch.”
Zayam III was not hot. Not remotely hot. Zayam III was eye-tingling, throat-stinging, finger-numbing cold. For a jungle world this was unusual, but Nasriel didn’t really have the time to think about the disparity in temperature and terrain – she was just a little busy.
At present, the exact part of the Galaxy under threat was a disused mine extensive enough that whichever side held its entrance complex, effectively held the planet of Zayam III. Unfortunately, the situation is worse was merely the Great Negotiator’s diplomatic way of saying this mission’s objective has changed from defend to recapture.
Nasriel’s attention was focused mainly on three things: the clones she was in charge of, the battle droids in and on the nearest building, less than a hundred meters away, and Rule Number One of lightsaber work – do not fall down. This was easier said than done, because the vast majority of the undergrowth in the area was taller than she was, besides being so cold from the frigid air as to be almost painful to touch.
Despite these distractions, however, Nasriel managed to keep two tendrils of consciousness reserved. One for Obi-Wan and one for Ben, drifting around the edges of their Force auras, making sure they were all right.
As a blaster bolt narrowly missed her face, Nasriel shook her head to stop the ringing in her ears, and suddenly became aware that no, the others were not both all right. Master Obi-Wan. Quickly informing the clone officer that she was hereby handing over to him, Nasriel ran.
Dear Force dear Force dear Force dear Force – the words thudded in the back of her mind, keeping pace with hastening feet through treacherous undergrowth, keeping pace even with suddenly frantic pounding of heart. She didn’t need to say what she was pleading for: the Force knew.
Didn’t need to look too hard to find her Master – oddly, heavy Force-shielding could make a person’s location easier to identify. And Cody’s pure fear was almost tangible. Cody. Scared. Clone scared. Very very bad.
“Master Obi-Wan?” Yes, there he was, crouching on the flattened stems of some strange plant or other, face set, hiding from her in the Force, irritably waving Cody away.
He looked up as she came nearer, and only then became visibly worried. “Are you all right?”
“‘s’Master. I’m fine.” Watching him uneasily, she added after a second, “You’re not.”
“Oh, not you as well! As I have already explained to Cody,” – with a weary glance in that clone’s direction – “it was just a throwing star. Barely scratched me. Now for Force sake go away and do your own job.” Obi-Wan had one arm pressed tightly across his stomach, like a man trying to stop himself falling apart.
“Master…” No, there was too much blood. The ground already looked like somebody had spilled a jar of red ink, and it wasn’t even dripping anymore, but running in a steady stream over his clutching fingers and trickling onto the cold soil. “That is not a scratch. That is…” At that moment she noticed the reason behind the steely grip: a four-centimeter, double-edged steel blade protruding between his fingers. One of four such spikes. “That shuriken is still embedded? Dear Force.”
“Dear Force yourself,” Obi-Wan snapped. “I’m all right. I can pull it out and keep going.” Tugging gently at the barb, however, only provoked an involuntary yelp of pain and a renewed gush of blood.
“With all due respect, General,” Cody said firmly, “that would kill you.” He brushed one gloved finger over the visible spike, pointing out the barbed edges. Obi-Wan didn’t move a muscle. “Look, sir. Pull this out and it’ll take half your guts with it. You need to get up to the station, get a medic to see to it. Even then it won’t be pretty. I can manage here.”
“Fine. Nasriel, Cody wins, you can go away now.”
Nearly ten hours later, the shuttle landed in the station hangar, and Nasriel stumbled wearily down the ramp. Counting. Counting clones lost, clones injured, near misses. Counting exactly how many more steps across the polished hangar court to the elevator where… chizzk. Obi-Wan stood barring her way, so still that each fold of his cloak could have been carved in granite.
“Master, you’re supposed to be in the medbay.”
“What? Oh, not at all. After last time, Vokara insisted on explaining to me the basics of looking after oneself – I’m quite all right.”
She smiled tiredly. “If you say so. We did it. Oh,” seeing the direction of his gaze, “Ben’s fine. He’s just coming up with another shuttle.”
“Good. Now, perhaps you can tell me what this is.” Unfolding his hands, Obi-Wan revealed a small book and held it out to Nasriel.
Well, of all the… “You went through my things,” she accused him.
“I did. By fighting alongside you I put my life in your hands. I need to know who you are. What is this?”
“It’s a book, Master.”
“I can see that. In fact, it is…” – every word dripping with contempt – “‘A Promise of Rain.’ It’s a Milsenbuun novel – what Dex picturesquely calls a ‘hot romance’.” He sighed. “Where did you get it?” The question sounded almost routine, as if he had asked it many times. Probably he had.
“From Kijé,” Nasriel admitted softly. “It’s just a book, Master. He said somebody left it behind in the Archives, Madame Nu said it was too unedifying to be shelved, and… he thought I might like it.”
“Some books, Nasriel Threeb, are worse than just unedifying. Some books are poisonous. They will fill your mind with worthless – often evil – ideas, and one story is never enough; it will become addictive, and eventually destroy you.” Tapping the cover lightly, he added, “Books such as this one. I am going to throw it away. No negotiation.”
“All right. Go and get some sleep while you can.” Nasriel obeyed, even though Obi-Wan looked far more in need of rest than she did – far paler even than usual, he wore a curious glazed expression, and swayed slightly as if about to fall.
“Master! Did they really let you go or did you sneak away like you do at home?”
“That,” Obi-Wan replied coldly, “is none of your business whatever. I am fine.”
“Okay. ‘Fine’. I’ll pretend to believe you.”
However, Nasriel never did get to the cabin she was directed to: a helpful astromech droid rather removed from its usual duties appeared in the corridor to inform her of a comm for her in the control room.
It was a voice-only call, given the distance, but Nasriel was still delighted by it. ‘Kijé! Chenexeno, what’s going on over there?”
“Nothing much.” A little crackly over the long-distance comm, Kijé sounded faintly sheepish. “Just… called to shoot the breeze. Was I right about Kenobi?”
“Well,” Nasriel smiled, forgetting he couldn’t see her, “bar a run-in with a shuriken, yes, he’s fine. But he’s confiscated your book.”
“Gee blue,” remarked Kijé mildly. “Oh, Sima’s just reminded me, I’m to ask you what to say to that Senator’s son if he comes back asking about you.”
“Ha!” Nasriel couldn’t suppress a shriek of laughter. “What, again? We will deal with this once and for all,” she promised. “Can you record this at your end? Oh, and Kij, try not to gag. This is going to be ridiculous.”
“Okay. Right, go.”
Mind racing to remember the lines Reseda’s friend Mi had taught her years ago, Nasriel adopted a silky, throaty voice, and, when she heard the click of Kijé’s voice-recorder, began, “Darling, I’m so terribly sorry, but it can’t be. There’s nothing I’d like better than to spend my time with such a wonderful boy as yourself, and believe me, if I were free you’d be my first choice. If I ever leave the Order it will be because of you, my only love. My heart is yours forever, until the stars grow cold and the very Force crumbles. I only wish I could be with you. I love you, I adore you, my sweetheart, my own.” Suddenly sensing a shifting in the Force, Nasriel switched back to her normal voice and whispered quickly, “Have to go, Master Obi-Wan’s here. Bye, Kij.”
“Padawan Nasriel Threeb.” She wasn’t sure if she’d ever heard her Master’s voice so icily furious. “Who were you talking to?” When she hesitated, he rapped, “Answer me!”
“Kijé Yenseh,” submitted Nasriel in a shaken whisper. “We were -“
“In blatant disregard of every tenet of the Code. Come.”
“My cabin,” Obi-Wan explained tightly. “Unless you’d rather settle this with half the battalion listening in.”
In the small cabin, at the click of the closing door, he turned around. “What, if anything, have you to say for yourself?”
“I have to say that you’re hardly one to talk about forbidden attachments!” hissed Nasriel. “Come on, Master, did you really think I know so little tai vordrax I wouldn’t notice? At least Kij and I are lightyears apart. Gee skeg. You and Master Tachi were kriffing making out in our quarters.”
“Who do you think you are? ” Much angrier now even than before, Obi-Wan retained a veneer of glacial calm, but the Force shivered with his rage, and Nasriel had all she could do not to tremble herself. “How dare you accuse me of hypocrisy? How dare you? Any relationship between Master Tachi and myself is strictly honorable and platonic – and you are not so skilled in the ways of the Force as you think, my very young apprentice.”
Oh no! I was wrong after all, and, dear Force, what a horrible thing to have said, was the only thought to cross the Padawan’s mind. “I was wrong,” Nasriel said quickly. “I apologize. I beg you to forgive me. I will accept whatever punishment you think suitable.” Really, there wasn’t anything else to say, except, Master, I will do anything to avoid losing your respect, and that sounded too… groveling.
“Punishment?” the Master scoffed. “Nasriel Kaliu Threeb, in case you had not noticed, we are on a battle station. Therefore I cannot readily deprive you of anything because you have nothing but absolute necessities. What punishment do you think would have the slightest effect on you?”
Nasriel shrugged. “Beat me.”
“That would achieve nothing,” Obi-Wan said disgustedly.
“I sure listened to Gueca, didn’t I? Listened to Jiron.”
“Very well.” Without warning, Obi-Wan slapped her, hard, across the face. Nasriel looked up at him in shock, her fingertips ghosting over her stinging cheek, trying to make herself believe what had happened. Stone-faced, unreadable, he hit her again, backhanded, the other cheek, with the Force behind the blow, sending her flying across the room to collide with the wall. The golden stone of Siri’s ring ripped Nasriel’s skin, tearing the purple markings on her face. Dabbing away blood, she struggled to her knees, glaring at her Master, about to spit some of the curses Gueca and Jiron had been so familiar with.
Obi-Wan looked almost bewildered, glancing rapidly from Nasriel to his outstretched hand, and back again. After a few seconds he drew off the ring and slipped it into his pocket, and then turned to the Padawan. Nasriel walked cautiously toward him, but stayed out of reach, just in case.
“Do not – ever – make me do that to you again.” Obi-Wan drew her toward him. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close. Resting her smarting face against the rough cloth of his tunic, Nasriel breathed a sigh of relief: I have my Master again.
Six weeks later: (the author apologizes for this rather peculiar temporal hiatus and promises upon her honor as a Jedi chronicler to fill it in with a later story.)
The laboratory wing of the Temple was habitually plagued with smoke from the burning of various substances, usually more toxic than otherwise. This afternoon, a day after the Jedi returned from Zayam, was no exception.
Anakin shoved open the door of the ninth-level chemistry workroom and was instantly overpowered by a fit of coughing. Two Padawans glanced guiltily up from the far workbench and one hastily hid his hand behind his back.
“Um, hi? Who is that?” In a barely audible whisper, he added nervously, “Do I need to put this out?”
Nudging him familiarly, the other grinned, “It’s only Master Skywalker, Telc. You’re all right. Anakin? What’s up?”
“That,” said Anakin threateningly, “had better be bacci and not stim, or I swear I will call Master Che down on you. Witch, I’m nobody’s errand boy, but Obi-Wan’s busy so he sent me for you. Get your butt home.”
“Yes, Master Skywalker. I’ll… tell you the rest later, Telc.”
Unobtrusively swiping the back of her hand across her eyes, Nasriel turned to follow Anakin out of the room. “Jiron was Telcontir’s cousin,” she explained awkwardly, “and Telc hadn’t heard about how – oh, never mind.” Checking her chrono, she asked, “And what’s going on anyway? I’ve never been called home this early. Oh, no. Nothing’s – Anakin, there’s not anything wrong, is there?”
“Ha! I forgot you hadn’t done this before. Drawback of being Obi-Wan’s Padawan: he’s political, so you have to be as well. And Ben ate something he shouldn’t’ve and he’s puking up his guts… and Obi-Wan’s in a chuba giz ’cause nobody knew where you were and you have to go even though it’s not your turn. So he says.”
“To the Senate,” said Anakin patiently. “Weren’t you listening? And if you see Pa- Senator Amidala, say hi from me.”
“And I’ll tell you now to save you a Kenobi-patented Deadly Lecture: you look like a nerf-herder, change your clothes, comb your hair, remember your manners, you’re representing the Jedi, don’t drink anything you can’t identify – I think that’s nearly all. No doubt there’ll be a few extra items. Any questions?”
Nasriel was scurrying to keep up with the older Jedi’s long strides. “Yes. What the blue Force-forsaken Wild Space is going on?”
At that moment they reached their destination, and Anakin pounded on the door. “Ask Obi-Wan. Then he’ll stare at you as if you’re stupid – it’s all right, you get used to it – and then he’ll explain in words of one syllable, giving you an oh-Force-how-did-I-get-landed-with-this-kid look the whole time. Got that?”
He was wrong. As he later said to his own Padawan, “Maybe he’s getting mellow in his old age – or maybe less stressed because she’s not Chosen for anything – or maybe just being nice because she’s a girl. Don’t expect me to take cues from him on that, Snips.” But whatever the reason none of Anakin’s predications came true.
Partly, of course, this was because when he impatiently waved the door open, he found Siri Tachi in the room as well. Talking to Obi-Wan. Close to Obi-Wan.
“Obi, you dense gundark, it was a gift.”
“It was a symbol, and I am afraid all too apt a one. The same things can be said of the symbol and of what it symbolizes. It is beautiful and valuable. I treasure it as the unique and precious gem it is. I wish I dared claim it, but I cannot. And it causes injury and pain to others I care about. So I thank you, Siri, but I am forced to return it to you. And beg that you do not tempt me with it again.” Obi-Wan took a ring set with a golden stone out of his pocket, and dropped it into Siri’s reluctantly outstretched palm.
“I’d better go,” Siri said quietly. “You’re in a hurry – and Anakin’s found your Padawan.”
As Siri brushed past her on the way out, Nasriel asked in amazement, “What the blue skeg was that about?”
“Grownup problems,” Obi-Wan answered shortly, and then stopped, wrinkling his nose slightly. “Take a shower and get the smoke out of your hair. I’ll tell you how bad for you bacci is when we’re on our way.”
“I wasn’t smoking, Master,” the Padawan explained hastily. “It was Roni’s cousin Telc.”
A political function, Nasriel discovered in remarkably short order, is singularly boring. Especially when you are only sixteen years old and spending most of your time tactfully avoiding a boy who happens to be infatuated with you. The problem is exacerbated when you have been informed ahead of time that unless you are summoned, you are expected to leave your Master alone. And he is talking to people he apparently recognizes and you don’t know from T’Xann.
After she had been standing quietly out of the way for nearly an hour, observing the crowded room – opulent, huge and low-ceilinged, and mostly golden in color – and undetectably disapproving of the low necklines and choking perfume most female politicians seemed to prefer, she finally saw somebody she recognized. Nasriel was unaccountably pleased to see Senator Organa. Perhaps it was just that his face was familiar, or perhaps Master Obi-Wan’s brief description had something to do with it: “Bail Organa. A good man, for a politician.”
“Padawan Threeb, I presume? Senator Organa,” he added by way of explanation.
“Yes, Senator. I’m pleased to meet you.”
“Recognized you from the HoloNet,” smiled the Senator. “Tagging along after Master Kenobi. He’s a good man, you know.”
“Believe me, sir, I know.” That sounded a little too fervent. “I mean -”
“No, I know what you mean. Have you ever been told about the time he saved my life? No? Well, surely you’ve heard the Zigoola story.”
“If you please, Senator… I’d prefer not to hear about it. It would be very kind of you to refrain from telling me.” Diplomacy 101 for junior Padawans: never ever say that anything is by your Master’s orders unless you are specifically instructed to. Appearing awkward yourself is a hundred times better than putting your Master in a difficult position.
“Oh.” The Senator sounded vaguely disappointed. “Well, I’d best keep moving. It was nice to meet you, Padawan Threeb.”
Unfortunately for Nasriel, Senator Organa’s departure to talk to… somebody from someplace… did not leave her entirely alone, for now a much younger man stood beside her. The Senator for Utapau’s son smiled down warmly.
“Nasriel, sweetheart. I didn’t expect you to be here. Listen, after this whole slog is over, shall we slip away and -”
“Did you get my last message?” Please, Kijé, please have forgotten! Extending a desperate mental plea to her Master – get me out of this! – Nasriel met only firmly closed shielding and absolutely no promise of rescue. Oh dear. And the Senator’s son was talking again.
“Nope. Just some stiff-and-proper guy in your library told me you were away. An’ I told him you’re not his girl, if anything, you’ll be mine. So, like I was saying…”
“I’m sorry, but that’s not possible.” Thanks, Kij! Always the soul of discretion. “I took an oath, five years ago now, to devote my life to the service of the Order. Which means that however much I would like to, I cannot be anybody’s ‘girl’. I’m sorry.”
“You could put it aside, just for one night, couldn’t you? In the interests of political… alliance?” He winked conspiratorially.
“The Jedi are not political, and a vow is not nearly that casual.”
“Excuse me.” Apparently Obi-Wan had not been completely ignoring her after all. He bowed very slightly to the boy before turning on Nasriel, grim-faced. “Kindly come with me, Nasriel.” All smiles and politeness again. “I’m afraid I must borrow my Padawan back briefly… You are in deep trouble, young lady.”
“Whew!” As Nasriel hastily followed her Master, the Senator’s son whistled softly. “Rather you than me, kid.”
“Wh-what -” Nasriel was having trouble figuring out what the blue skeg she’s done this time. “I was just talking to him, Master.”
“I’m sure you were,” Obi-Wan replied sarcastically, leading the Padawan rapidly across the room to the end, where heavy velvet drapery shrouded the entire wall. Silently parting the curtains, he drew her out onto a wide terrace overlooking the city. The air was much cooler here, and the sun just beginning to sink down behind the Temple, visible in the distance. “I know you were. You’ll find I have also dissuaded your friend from following us.”
“Oh. Thanks, Master.”
In silence, they watched the sun set, and the silver moons rise ghostlike over the great city.
“You know,” Nasriel said thoughtfully, “I think love’s more trouble than it’s worth.”
“You know, I think you might just be right.”