"I hate you!"
Once more he felt his heart stop in his chest, responding in despair:
"You were my brother, Anakin, I loved you."
Obi-Wan jolted awake, covered with sweat, breathing fitfully. His head ached as if someone smashed him in the head over and over again. He slowly sat up in bed and massaged his temples. Once again the nightmare, he groaned, asking himself when it would stop.
He got up, because he knew all too well that sleep would elude him for the rest of the night. He had to drink something against the headache. He entered his small kitchen, poured water into a glass and sat down at the table. Letting out a deep sigh, he covered his face with his hands. The dream appeared almost every night now. During his first years on Tatooine he had been able to sleep three of four nights; now he felt relieved if he slept more than one night a week. Every night it came. He had a hard time fighting against the emotional turbulence it brought, no amount of meditation calming him. He would try to reach the Force but it seemed reluctant to yield any answers to his dilemma. The guilt over what had happened was making him sick to his stomach. In the back of his mind he knew he had to get over these feelings, almost able to hear his former Master telling him not to dwell on the past.
"Yes, Master, I know that!" he said wryly. "But how? Meditation won't help, and there isn't anybody here to teach me this particular lesson. And you have decided to stay away from me it seems."
Master Yoda had given him instructions how to reach Qui-Gon, but apparently it didn't work, and after he had tried over several years, he had simply given up, figuring that his former Master wouldn't forgive him his failure.
Desperately Obi-Wan took the glass and smashed it at the wall. There he was, a Jedi Master not able to cope with his past. His eyes blazed with anger and he couldn't feel remorse about it.
"Be careful, Padawan. You could have hit me with this."
Obi-Wan almost jumped out of his skin at seeing the blue shimmering form of his former Master standing there, his lips tugging in the slightest hint of a smile.
"How?" Obi-Wan whispered, awe evident in his voice.
"The time was right, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon simply replied and took a seat opposite the younger man.
"And you decided that?" Obi-Wan asked, fighting the sarcasm in his tone.
"No. The Force has decided. I am merely a tool. You have harbored your feelings of guilt long enough, and it is time to let go, Obi-Wan, I am here to help you." Qui-Gon smiled at him, and when Obi-Wan didn't react, he continued. "It's not your fault, Padawan, you have to realize this."
The younger man seemed to search for the right words, then not able to elaborate a suitable phrase, he blurted out, "How can you say that? I was responsible for him, I was supposed to guide him, teaching him the nature of the Force. And all I've done was to love him. I loved him so much I even turned a blind eye on his flaws. I disregarded the code and I formed an attachment."
Qui-Gon looked at him with surprise. "So that's the core of your guilt? You think you failed because you loved him?"
"Yes, don't you agree? If I hadn't loved him that much I would have realized his anger and his closeness to the Dark Side. My attachment blinded me. I've never thought he would let me down, I was so sure about him."
"No, Obi-Wan, I don't agree. Love never leads to the Dark Side. I loved you, but I've never been blind to your flaws, and you have seen Anakin's flaws quite well. You even pointed them out to the Council. Regarding the last days before Anakin's fall there are many things which led to his decision, but in the end it was a choice he made, there isn't one person responsible for his downfall. You must realize this!"
"So you suggest I did nothing wrong? How can I believe this, Master? This is even more frustrating. I can't accept his turn had been unavoidable."
"No, I didn't say that. You need to listen closely. I said it wasn't your love, and it wasn't your behavior alone which has created the situation. There are many small things which added to the fall of Anakin Skywalker: the Council, the Code, Palpatine, his attachment to Padme. Above all there was his fear and his inability to deal with it. And, yes, Obi-Wan, you weren't able to teach him that, but you aren't the only one responsible for it. Even I have my deal of responsibility in this. Perhaps I was wrong when I decided to take him with us. Maybe the Council was right, but there is also the possibility the situation would have been much worse if I had left him on Tatooine. We don't know that. And we'll never know. You have to move on. Concentrate on the here and now, and examine the past to learn for the future. Don't bathe in your guilt."
Obi-Wan looked at the fading form of his former Master, his face closing in thought. Examining the past to learn about the future? He thought he had done that, but being honest with himself he needed to admit that Qui-Gon had a point. He hadn't looked over his actions to learn but to confirm his responsibility. With eager willingness he moved outside, where the suns of Tatooine were rising right now. He sank to his knees and almost immediately reached a meditative state. For the first time since Mustafar he felt calm enough to give himself over to a deep meditation. He reached out through the Force and was met with its soothing energy. He suddenly understood why he hadn't been able to get answers until now. The Force had wanted to teach him a lesson, and he had denied it, covering the will of the Force with his own feelings. He drifted away on the soft waves without noticing how deep he sunk into his meditation. The Force seemed to guide him and lead him and he merely obeyed.
Mustafar emerged and for the first time Obi-Wan was able to see what had happened there as an outstanding spectator. He was led through the Clone Wars, Geonosis and his whole Mastership with Anakin. When he reached Naboo he felt a stab of pain, realizing there were things hidden he hadn't sorted out until now. And slowly he paced back in time, more and more deeply unified with the Force.