Chapter 1 – Bant Eerin
Obi-Wan couldn’t remember a time when he hadn’t been able to hear the Force murmuring secrets to him or see the ethereal golden trails of sand spread out before him, dancing and weaving around as they laid out different paths to different futures. He knew it wasn’t really sand, of course; sand didn’t glow and sing with the Force, but the way they shifted and swirled made it an apt description.
He was only an infant when his parents gave him to the Jedi Order. He could walk by the time he was one but even he didn’t know exactly when he learned how to talk. He never had much use for talking when the futures he saw were more than enough to keep him occupied.
Obi-Wan didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to see them, of course. Not at first, anyway, and he didn’t always understand what they were trying to tell him. But at the age of five, after he stopped a few crèchemates when they were walking across one of the Temple’s courtyards and, mere seconds later, a piece of the alcove above them cracked and fell down in front of them with a loud crash, he didn’t miss the strange looks they gave him in return nor the way they hurried away as soon as possible. Obi-Wan felt somewhat hurt but he pushed the feeling aside, bowed to Master Yoda who was staring at him thoughtfully amongst the other bustling Jedi as they swarmed the fallen roof, before walking away as well.
That very same night, Yoda visited him when he was sitting in one of the Temple gardens, having snuck out after curfew.
“Gifted you are,” Yoda started without preamble, answering the silent question Obi-Wan had been contemplating in his mind. Was his ability a gift or a curse?
“But a burden too, it is,” Yoda continued, taking a seat next to Obi-Wan. “Keep it hidden you should, or placed in danger you will be.”
Obi-Wan shifted uneasily and blinked as one gold path dispersed in a shower of sparkling dust.
“I don’t understand,” He finally mumbled. He understood that there was good and evil in the world, that his gift could be used for evil; he had instinctively known this for a long time, but he didn’t understand why the Force had given him something like his ability. “Why do I have it? Why me?”
Yoda pinned him with a contemplative gaze. “Works in mysterious ways, the Force does,” He said at last. “Destined for great things, perhaps you are. Have this gift you would not if handle it you could not.”
Obi-Wan stayed silent for a long moment before glancing hopefully at the Jedi Master. “I thought Jedi could see the future,” He said. “Can’t you do what I can?”
Yoda smiled almost sadly at him as he shook his head. “Visions, Jedi have,” He explained. “Not always clear, it is. But the ability to see the possibilities of different futures, only you have.”
Obi-Wan frowned, tilting his head as the Force whispered and he caught a glimpse of black cloaks and yellow eyes. “I don’t want it.”
Yoda nodded in a confusingly satisfied manner. “Then in the right hands, your gift is.”
Nothing more was said as Yoda patted his knee before ushering him back to his dorm, slyly telling Obi-Wan’s crèchemaster that he had summoned Obi-Wan and kept him out late.
Obi-Wan didn’t completely understand everything Yoda had told him but he kept his mouth shut from that day on. There wasn’t much danger in the Temple after all, and the other kids thought he was weird enough since Obi-Wan was usually content with simply keeping himself company.
But still, the end results of the futures he saw were mostly unpleasant. He wondered if he should tell Yoda but the Jedi Master hadn't asked last time so Obi-Wan kept it to himself.
One night, Obi-Wan went to sleep and saw a girl with silver eyes and a shy countenance. He saw the same girl growing up and becoming a Padawan and then a Knight and he saw himself beside her, laughing and talking. Worst of all, he saw her pain and grief when her Master died and he saw her death in the midst of battle, fierce and resolute to the very end.
And when Obi-Wan woke up and headed down for breakfast with his heart aching and his entire being tired, he wasn’t surprised when their crèchemaster told them that they would be getting a new crèchemate that day.
But in the midst of classes, Obi-Wan let his mind wander down the one path that would lead to his future friend’s accidental death only a year later and fully tapped into the Force for the very first time in his life, letting his instincts guide him. He didn’t hesitate when he snapped the golden strand and allowed the sands of time to fade to a mere possibility. He would not let that future happen.
After that, he thought he had finally found a use for his gift. He could use it to protect his friends, to protect all the things that were important to him. But he was only six, and he didn’t really know how to go about it so he stuck to the closest events for the time being. He had a Mon Calamari to befriend after all.
The Mon Calamari girl – Bant, the Force supplied helpfully – was sitting in a corner of the refectory by herself when dinner rolled around a week after she arrived. There were no other Mon Calamarians in their crèche and the other kids tended to stare at anything new.
She was picking at her dinner and not really looking at anything else so Obi-Wan gathered his tray and headed over to her table. The whispers doubled but Obi-Wan ignored them and offered a friendly smile when Bant looked up. The action was stiff and foreign; he wasn’t used to smiling, having never had much to smile about.
“I’m Obi-Wan Kenobi,” He shifted his tray into one arm before sticking out a small hand. “Wanna be friends?”
Bant gaped at him for a moment, her salmon-coloured skin darkening subtly before she took his hand and shook it shyly. “Bant Eerin,” She said softly. “And sure.”
Obi-Wan grinned a little and promptly sat down across from her. Having never had a real conversation with anyone before, their exchange was somewhat awkward at first, but once Bant realized Obi-Wan wasn’t going anywhere and honestly seemed to want to be her friend, the chatterbox Obi-Wan had seen in various futures shone through.
Bant told him about her home planet Dac in the Calamari system and the other races living there. Obi-Wan hadn’t actually seen much more than a few glimpses of the planet so he listened with interest as she described the city she was from. Bant was two years younger than he was but even at four, her descriptions couldn’t be called lacking and anything she struggled to relay to him was made up for with her enthusiasm.
By the time dinner was over, they were fast friends and Bant stuck to Obi-Wan like a second shadow.
After he bid Bant goodnight, Obi-Wan returned to the dorm he shared with the other boys in his crèche and took a minute to examine the threads. He smiled when he found a few of the darkest futures gone, never to happen now that Obi-Wan had drawn Bant to his side.
Obi-Wan turned, a little startled at having anyone call out his name with such eagerness but relaxed again when he found Bant bounding towards him.
“Morning, Bant,” Obi-Wan greeted, pausing long enough for her to catch up.
“Good morning,” She beamed at him and took his hand as they headed down to breakfast. “We have Force studies first, right? I hope I do okay.”
Obi-Wan smiled and nodded as Bant went off on another tangent, keeping half an eye on the immediate future for bullies. He had managed to mostly stay out of Bruck’s way but the boy would always be a problem and he had one more to protect now.
“Obi? Do you know who our other crèchemates are?” Bant suddenly asked, stepping even closer to Obi-Wan as they entered the refectory.
Obi-Wan glanced around and most of the eyes that had zeroed in on them when they had walked into the room skittered away. It wasn’t everyday Obi-Wan went out of his way to talk to someone but there weren’t many children willing to challenge him either. He wasn’t particularly tall or big for his age, but his eyes, irreversibly weary from all the things he had already seen, always seemed an effective countermeasure against other people.
“Bruck Chun,” Obi-Wan pointed out first, directing Bant’s attention at the white-haired Human boy sitting at one of the tables with a few others. The Force muttered irritably in his mind and his grip on his friend’s hand tightened just a little as images of Bruck’s sneering face, his refusal to let Obi-Wan save Bant, and his fall to his death flickered through Obi-Wan's mind. “He and his friends can be real mean, but just stay out of his way and there won’t be any trouble. They’re not part of our crèche actually, but we sometimes take classes with them.”
Bant nodded, perfectly happy to defer to Obi-Wan since she was still new, and even at six, Bruck had the beginnings of destructive arrogance already painted on his face, something Bant wasn’t too young to take note of.
Obi-Wan listed a few others as they sat down at their own table before his gaze settled on a cheerful-looking boy sitting with a reticent Dresselian. He tilted his head and watched the golden sand swirl. The Force directed his attention to a tall bold-looking Knight standing shoulder to shoulder with Obi-Wan, and a cloaked determined figure, also a Knight, standing on his other side.
“Garen Muln and Reeft,” Obi-Wan said aloud, gesturing at the table a few feet away. “I don’t really know them yet.”
He almost bit his tongue when Bant peered over at him with a curious look but she didn’t call him out on it and returned to her breakfast instead.
Breathing a sigh of relief and letting the Force fade to a hum at the back of his mind, Obi-Wan didn’t catch the inquisitive glance Garen and Reeft sent his way. Instead, he wondered if he could trust Bant enough to show her his gift. He was mostly sure he could already.
Bant couldn’t even begin to describe the relief and gratitude she felt when Obi-Wan had approached her. She was the only Mon Calamari in her crèche, and while she wasn’t ashamed of what she was; far from it, she also hated the fact that she was already four and hadn’t grown up alongside the other children from near birth, not to mention being the youngest in her crèche.
So it was more than a bit of a surprise when a Human boy two years older than she was walked right up to her and introduced himself before requesting her friendship with open sincerity. Bant had probed the tentative connection she had with the Force, trying to sense even a hint of falsehood in his words. In the end, it had all but shoved her in the boy’s direction.
Admittedly, Obi-Wan Kenobi was a bit on the weird side. He was kind and he really listened to her and never left her to flounder when she struggled with something in class.
But there were times when Obi-Wan would stare off into the distance at something she couldn't see, and she hadn’t known him long enough yet to feel comfortable pressing him for an explanation. Other times, he would look askance at one of their crèchemates like he wanted to say something to them, but as far as Bant knew, she was Obi-Wan's only friend. A part of her was secretly pleased by this fact; it meant Obi-Wan had chosen her friendship over everyone else's and she found that she was quite happy with keeping him all to herself, at least for the first few months. Obi-Wan might be seen as a bit of an outcast by everyone else, and maybe she was fairly biased, but in Bant's opinion, they didn't know what they were missing out on.
And even though she had only started working with the Force, the one thing Bant was sure of was that it utterly loved Obi-Wan. Whenever she concentrated on her friend during a meditation session, Bant could almost hear the Force singing contentedly in her mind. Obi-Wan was startlingly Light, more so than her other fellow crèchemates when she connected enough with the Force to feel them with her eyes closed, and she had absolutely no idea how it was possible. Obi-Wan knew things; knew which hallways bullies laid in wait, knew when teachers would be a little late, knew what was for dinner even, and while half of her was itching to question him about it, the other half was ecstatic that Obi-Wan would trust her with his secret. She was sure no one else knew, and she was definitely not going to be the one who betrayed him.
Because Obi-Wan was her friend and Bant was determined to stick with him no matter how strange he was. And she had to admit, if only to herself, that keeping Obi-Wan to herself was somewhat selfish, so, six months after she had come to Coruscant and befriended Obi-Wan – and caught him eyeing the Human boy who always seemed very cheerful and the Dresselian who always seemed overly shy – Bant decided to ignore the slight fear that she would be left behind if Obi-Wan found other friends and brought his interest in the boys out in the open instead.
“Do you wanna make friends with them, Obi?” Bant asked, glancing anxiously at the two crèchemates out of the corner of her eye before looking back at Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan turned to her with a thoughtful gaze, his blue-green eyes becoming a little distant in the way Bant was sort of accustomed to by now. And then his gaze sharpened again and he offered a rare honest smile in her direction. "Not yet," He murmured softly, and the Force hummed in agreement.
Bant blinked but took the prophetic words in stride. She was used to Obi-Wan's not-yets and not-right-nows. “Then when?”
Obi-Wan tilted his head, his eyes briefly flashing grey before settling on its usual ocean colour again. “A few days.”
Bant nodded and said no more. Obi-Wan always knew best about these things. But, she supposed, she could give her friend a few more months, get to know him a bit more, before asking him how.