Disclaimer: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is the property of Lucasfilm Ltd. No profit is being made.
Illustration by Rogue
The sound of birdsong roused Qui-Gon from his slumber. He automatically reached out for the other half of his soul... but found only an empty space. Oh yes, he remembered, a soft smile lighting the proud, leonine face. Stretching sinuously, his body again in perfect condition after long months of hospitalization and therapy to recover from the Sith Lord's blow, Qui-Gon rose and gladly faced the day. Wandering out of the sleep chamber, he touched his mind to his Padawan's.
Good morning, Master, came the cheery reply. Did you sleep well?
Yes, Anakin, thank you. Am I interrupting you?
No, sir, Master Obi-Wan and I finished sparring an hour ago, and he left to... prepare. I've just finished my morning meditations, and I, too, am about to begin getting ready.
Ahhh, so I am the only layabout today? Qui-Gon thought, smiling warmly.
You were also the last abed last night, Master, Anakin reminded gently. Qui-Gon had volunteered to stay up to greet the Council members who were arriving in the early hours of the morning, or the late hours of the night, depending on how one looked at it. So it was a long time before Qui-Gon could find his solitary bed, and even longer before he drifted off, too used he was to having another body in bed with him.
You are quite correct, Padawan, and I will stop feeling guilty about my laziness. I will let you go back to your day and will see you later this afternoon, yes? A flood of love for one of his father-figures and unbound joy came through their link as Anakin bid his Master farewell for the moment.
Anakin was quite pleased with himself, Qui-Gon thought mirthfully. As well he should be. The boy was turning out to be even more devious than Obi-Wan had been at that age. And with a co-conspirator like Amidala? It was a wonder that Anakin's masters had been able to resist as long as they had, Qui-Gon marveled.
Ordering a light meal of fruit and juice, Qui-Gon sat on the balcony of their rooms and took in the sun-splashed brilliance of water and vegetation below him. The Palace of Theed was truly the jewel in the crown of Naboo. He and his companions were quite blessed to be able to call this place home.
A vibration in the Force heralded the arrival before the door chime went. "Come in, Mace," Qui-Gon called out.
"Qui-Gon, rested up are you?" Mace Windu asked as he joined his friend on the balcony. "What a view, I see why you never tire of it, old friend," Mace continued.
"It is awe-inspiring at that," Qui-Gon agreed. "So, to what do I owe the pleasure of your visit? As if I don't already know."
"Just came to make sure you were ready and to make sure this is what you really want..." Mace replied.
"How could I not be? This is what I want, Mace, what we both want. We were placed on this path a long time ago; we are merely continuing the journey. I've searched my heart long and hard, and the answer is always the same. It is the will of the Force." Qui-Gon told his friend, touched by his concern, happy beyond words that this day was finally here.
"I know, Qui-Gon; I've known from the moment I first saw the two of you together. Your journey has been a difficult one, and you are both stronger for it. This is truly a joyous day. I'm just glad to be part of it. I'm even more grateful that you are here to be part of it!" Mace answered.
Both men were drawn back to that terrible day three years ago. The day the world nearly fell apart. Qui-Gon remembered well the agony of the Sith's blade slicing through him, the scream of his then Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi, the certainty that he was going to die. What he hadn't counted on was the sheer tenacity and stubbornness of said Padawan and the way Obi-Wan had fought with every fiber of his being to keep Qui-Gon among the living.
Waking up in the Healers area of the Jedi Temple a week later and seeing a haggard and desperate young man sitting beside his bed, staring listlessly into nothingness, Qui-Gon had been given a revelation. One that changed a great many lives. He was in love with his Obi-Wan.
And your Obi-Wan loves you, old man. Now stop staring at sun sparkles, and get moving; the ceremony isn't that far away! came the delicate and teasing touch of his love.
"Old man? You'll pay for that tonight, bratling!" Qui-Gon muttered out loud.
"Obi-Wan teasing you again?" Mace chuckled.
"He was ordering the old man to stop daydreaming and get on with it, which is what I should be doing indeed. Is everything ready?" Qui-Gon grinned self-deprecatingly.
"It pays to be such close personal friends to the Queen of Naboo, Qui-Gon. What Amidala has arranged is ... breathtaking, and perfect. Now let's move, old friend. You have a busy day ahead of you!"
The royal gardens of Theed overlooked the cliffs and were strung with silver ropes of rivers. The sound of the numerous waterfalls melded with the chorus of songbirds and the sweetness of hundreds of varieties of flowers.
In the center of the gardens was a grove of rare starflower bushes interspersed with gracefully slender Lyssum trees, planted in a large circle. The branches of the young trees barely met to form a lovely natural canopy, while allowing streams of golden sunshine to filter through. The bushes were in full bloom, so the scent of a thousand starflowers permeated the air.
White and silver ribbons were woven into the living ivy garlands that bedecked the lower branches of the trees and tied to the higher branches so they fluttered in the breeze. A multitude of benches and chairs were placed throughout the grove, placed in concentric circles that were broken by four aisles to allow people to gain their seats.
In the very center of the grove, a sea of silver-blue sand created a peaceful oasis, and carefully placed stepping-stones led to an intricately carved stone island large enough for half a dozen people to stand comfortably. It had been christened 'the sea of tranquility' many years ago by a long gone ruler of Theed for obvious reasons. This area of the garden was originally designed as a place of silence and meditation, but today it had a far more happy use. Today it was the site of an ancient and powerful ceremony.
The guests began to enter the grove through the four elaborate stone arches around the circle, dressed in all the colors of the rainbow, smiling happily. Leading the processions were Queen Amidala, Master Mace Windu, Padawan Anakin Skywalker and Master Yoda. Among the guests were the entire Jedi Council, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Captain Panaka, Ric Ollie, Boss Nass, Jar Jar Binks and Shmi Skywalker. Si Treemba, Guerra, Paxxi, Clat'Ha and a newly knighted Bant were there as well.
The guests took their seats, but Amidala, Mace, Anakin and Yoda continued on, each taking one of the stepping stone paths to the island at the center of the sea. A hidden quartet began to play soft, unearthly music as the guests talked and laughed.
Are you ready, oh wise and ancient Master? teased the beloved mental voice.
I think I've been ready from the moment I first met you, bratling, another mental voice returned caressingly.
Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn stepped through one of the stone archways, dressed completely in white Jedi garb, his hair tied back with a silver cord. He was every bit the powerful warrior of old, with his lightsaber clipped to the thin silver belt surrounding his waist. There were a few more strands of silver in the sandy mane and a few more lines of worry, but other than that he looked as if he hadn't aged a day in the past three years.
At the same time Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi stepped through the stone archway on the opposite side of the circle. He too was dressed in white Jedi garb. He looked exactly as he had three years ago with the exception of a missing Padawan braid. A mischievous grin played over his features, and a devilish twinkle graced those hypnotic sea-blue eyes.
Both men moved as one towards the center of the circle, one moving with elegant purpose, the other prowling forward sinuously. They reached the center of the island at the same time, and the music faded gently away. They stood before one another and their assembled guests, the purity of their love blazing like a nova in the heavens.
Master Yoda began to speak in a solemn voice, but the twinkle in his eyes was visible to all. "Call upon the power which binds us all, we do. That which binds us and brings to us life so witness we may, this joyous event today. But remember always we must, and forever embrace the Code which binds us all."
The powerful baritone voice of Mace Windu took over. "There is no emotion; there is peace. However, today we witness that love is the one emotion that will bring peace. It is the binding of two souls into one, the birth of a new creature created out of love."
"There is no ignorance; there is knowledge. The knowledge that these two belong together, that they are one being, two bodies, one soul," continued the beaming Anakin Skywalker.
Amidala added her beautiful voice to the ceremony. "There is no passion; there is serenity. The serenity that in each other they have found their destiny."
"There is no death; there is the Force. These two, once joined, will never be alone again. Together forever, will they always be." Yoda concluded. "Meditate we shall, on the purity of this union and accept that this is truly the will of the Force."
A moment of silence passed as everyone looked with both eyes and heart - and realized that these two truly belonged to one another.
Mace Windu motioned Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan forward. "Do you both join us here of your own free will to acknowledge before these witnesses and through the will of the Force the bond that is shared between you both?"
"We do, " Qui-Gon vowed, his voice vibrating with emotion.
"We do," Obi-Wan promised, his voice full of light-hearted happiness.
Turning to face one another, the men clasped together their left hands then their right, forming the symbol of forever between them. Together they spoke as one. A deep, rich voice blended perfectly with a strong and earthy one, both full of joy.
"You cannot possess me, for I belong to myself. But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give. You cannot command me, for I am a free person. But I shall serve you in those ways you require, and the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand. I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night and the eyes into which I smile in the morning. I pledge to you the first bite of my bread and the first drink of my cup. I pledge to you my living and my dying, each equally in your care. I shall be a shield for your back, and you for mine. I shall follow the will of the Force, which brought us together, and through the following pledge myself to you. I shall honor you above all others, and when we quarrel, we shall do so in private and tell no strangers our grievances. This is my life-bond vow to you. This is the binding of equals. This is the will of the Force." The men released their hands, only to join their left hands together once more, standing side by side before the four officiators of the ceremony.
Taking the silver cord proffered by Queen Amidala, Mace Windu began to wind it around the joined hands of Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon. "Here before witnesses, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi have sworn vows to each other. With this cord, I bind them to the vows that they each have made. However this binding is not tied, so that neither is restricted by the other, and the binding is only enforced by both their wills."
Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon turned to face each other once more, speaking in unison. "Heart to thee, soul to thee, body to thee, forever and always, so will it be." Unbinding their arms, they turned to their Padawan. In each of his hands was an intricate, exquisitely crafted ring. The men smiled at Anakin, and Obi-Wan lightly cuffed him teasingly as they took the rings and placed them on each other's ring finger.
Once more Master Yoda spoke. "These promises you make by the sun and the moon, by fire and water, by day and night, by land and sea. With these vows you swear, by the will of the Force, to be full partners, each to the other. If one drops the load, the other will pick it up. If one is hurt, the other will provide comfort; if one is happy, both are full of joy. Never let an angry word go unforgiven or an argument unsettled. Together you are stronger than you are alone. Each will bring a new aspect to the other. Each shall complete the other, for this is the will of the Force. Never forget the vows you have made today; never forget that you are no longer alone."
Qui-Gon pulled Obi-Wan to him, cradling the beloved face of his life-bonded in his hands. "I love you, bratling," he whispered, tears adding an extra sparkle to his eyes.
"I love you, Master," Obi-Wan whispered back, a beatific smile setting his moist sea-blue eyes afire.
They met each other's mouth half way, arms wrapping around the other pulling them closer together. Lips tasted and teased, then softly devoured while two minds melded with one single thought