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Remedial Jedi Theology

Chapter Text

“Train the boy,” Qui-Gon said with his last breath. “He must be trained.”

“I will see it done, Master,” Obi-Wan swore, even as he grieved. And, more to the point, even as he thought, this is going to be a cluster fuck.

There is no death, there is the Force, was one of the primary Jedi testaments and Qui-Gon certainly seemed determined to fulfill it with his dying wish.

Once a being has existed they can never truly be gone, for the Force connects all living things through both space and time. And while Qui-Gon himself had been an expert in the living Force that spread through space, Obi-Wan was most comfortable with the unifying Force that spread through time.

Even as Qui-Gon died, Obi-Wan could see his presence stretching for years and centuries into the future, evident in all his accomplishments and all the things he had set in motion. The societies and futures of hundreds of planets bore the imprint of Qui-Gon’s life, and so too did Obi-Wan’s own life.

There could be no death, for Qui-Gon had lived within the Force and always would. His effect would continue to grow like ripples in a pond. That effect would only be greater still when Obi-Wan followed through on his word to his dying master, to see to the training of a boy already rejected by the Jedi Council and so dangerous in Obi-Wan’s own senses.

But he had given his word. Qui-Gon Jinn had been a great master with unparalleled sense of the living Force. Obi-Wan would trust in him and abide.

His report to the Council was even more unpleasant than the previous one had been, when Qui-Gon recommended Obi-Wan for his knight trials in a blatant move to free himself to take Anakin as his padawan. The Council had been disapproving of Qui-Gon and pitying of Obi-Wan, neither of which Obi-Wan appreciated.

Obi-Wan had only been offended by Qui-Gon’s lack of tact in his abrupt replacement, not the act itself.

It had been years since Obi-Wan had forced his way into a padawanship with Master Qui-Gon Jinn. They hadn't been a great match, but Qui-Gon had been Obi-Wan's last hope to become a Jedi and he had done everything he could to coerce it. He had known that he had not been chosen as a padawan in any meaningful sense of the word, so it had been jarring to see Qui-Gon actively choose a padawan, but not betraying. He hadn't previously considered the possibility, but he was grateful that Qui-Gon found his new padawan only after Obi-Wan was old enough to be knighted.

He wondered if that was why Anakin was so much older. The Force had always told Obi-Wan that he was destined to be a Jedi Knight. Had it delayed Anakin's discovery to ensure that Obi-Wan had enough time with Qui-Gon to make his trials?

He had released his gratitude and his shame into the Force.

Love is a gift, not an earned reward, Obi-Wan knew. He knew this because he knew that the Force loved him and that there was nothing he had done or could ever possibly do to earn it. But it loved him and he loved it right back.

From the looks on some of the Councilor's faces at Qui-Gon's dismissal of him, they thought he should have felt betrayed. Betrayed and abandoned. But Obi-Wan knew what he had done when he had coerced Qui-Gon into taking him on in the first place. Obi-Wan had wanted to become a Jedi even if it meant that he would be scraping by with the bare minimum of training and the bare minimum of natural affinity as well. But he was a Jedi. If he trusted in the Force, it would lead him well. And it had led him well.

He had even been looking forward to starting his life as a Jedi Knight, without the constant struggle of working in tandem with a master who felt the will of the Force so differently from how Obi-Wan himself felt it. It was tough being pulled in two directions: by the will of the Force speaking to him directly of a dark future and the direction of his master who told him to focus on the present always. The present was important, but the future… oh, the future how it pulled at him.

He had known that he would pass his trials and he would take missions and he would do what needed doing.

He had bowed to the Councilors and confirmed that of course he was ready for the trials.

If he was young for the trials, he was not too young, just as Anakin was old but not too old, whatever the Council might say. The Force provided balance.

That Council meeting had essentially been like any other. For all that it had circled around Obi-Wan’s status, it had mostly been the another instance of the ongoing struggle between Qui-Gon and the Council.

This Council meeting, though, to report Qui-Gon’s death and his own oath to see Anakin trained, was much more difficult.

Jedi gave themselves to the Force, trained their sensitivity to the will of the Force such that they could act as its manifest will. The death of a Jedi should always be grieved as the loss of such a manifestation, but never grieved for the loss of a person. For that person lived well and gave themselves to the Force and was taken back by the Force.

The Force was not exactly sentient, but it loved and it desired and it had method. It loved the Jedi, it desired to promote life, and like water in a river bed, it found the easiest and most direct method to get to what it desired.

Obi-Wan wasn’t angry at Qui-Gon for trying to replace him with Anakin. He was, however, angry with Qui-Gon for leaving him to deal with Anakin on his own.

The Council had asked him about the prophecy and Obi-Wan, who liked having order, liked being part of the Order and the direction it gave to his life when the will of the Force felt too large, its demands too amorphous, had had to declare his own philosophy before the masters’ impassive faces.

“There are those who fear balance in the Force because they think the light has held supremacy for so long, that it must be time for the dark to be supreme,” he had started carefully, knowing that at least some of the Council members likely believed that. “I think all of those beings throughout the galaxy suffering from famines and plagues and natural disasters, much less those suffering from slavery and repression, would disagree that the light is currently held supreme.”

“Think you, more light we must give, then, balance to have?” Master Yoda asked.

Obi-Wan really didn’t want to have this conversation. He wasn’t ready to have this conversation. What balance could there be between the light and the dark that he would ever find acceptable to promote? And wasn’t the universality of mortality balance enough? All beings lived and all beings died. Was that not balance enough?

Rather than voice that thought, he tucked it away in a corner of his mind to be available should he ever need to stall any discussion with a massive philosophical debate. Right now he didn’t want to extend this conversation indefinitely, he wanted to get it done with.

“Since all we have is the half-destroyed journal of an ancient prophet saying ‘a child will be born from the Force and will bring balance to it’ I’m inclined to think it will happen on it’s own or not, and we don’t need to concern ourselves with it.”

And by inclined to think, he meant really hoping against hope that this is true; that it would be safe to ignore both the prophecy and his own sense of impending danger in order to focus on the here and now. He had either successfully blocked that level of thought from the Council or they agreed with him, because eventually Yoda nodded.

“Wise that is. The future in motion, always is.”

The Jedi Council gave their agreement to Obi-Wan taking Anakin as his padawan.

Obi-Wan wondered if he should be grateful for that.

He wasn’t.

He had expected that his offer to take Anakin himself would inspire the council to back down and assign the boy to someone more appropriate. Someone with at least a higher midichlorian count, since Obi-Wan’s own count was perhaps half of Anakin’s.

Releasing his anger to the Force was something he always needed to work on and this was no different. He was following the path laid out to him in the Force to the best of his abilities, and the Jedi Council seemed to go out of their way to make it more difficult, sometimes through obstruction but other times through supposed support.

When Qui-Gon had demanded that Anakin be trained, the Council had refused to grant the student to one of their most respected Jedi Masters. But after that Master’s death, the Jedi Council granted permission for the single most recent Jedi Knight, who hadn’t even passed the formal test for that status, to train the boy…

It felt like being set up to fail.

The most basic tenets of Jedi philosophy and mental control were taught practically from birth to the members of the crèche. When you will be taught mental abilities to manipulate matter and energy, it was vitally important that you learn control over your own mind first.

Just as teaching the use of a blaster consisted first of how to disarm one and carry it safely, the lessons for a padawan assumed they already knew how to disarm any anger or frustration in their own minds.

As a slave, Anakin was probably used to thinking of his mind as the one place he was free to do as he liked. Obi-Wan wasn’t sure how Qui-Gon had ever expected to make Anakin understand that he would need to be his own master when it came to his very thoughts and feelings, cultivating them like a particularly ruthless gardener, pulling weeds and trimming excessive growth.

For the most part, these skills were less a matter of teaching than of instilling at formation in the crèche. Obi-Wan wasn’t sure there were any Jedi currently alive who had a method for teaching those abilities. Luckily the Jedi were an ancient Order and there was almost always some precedent hidden somewhere in its thousands of years of history.

Historically, before the temple was first established on Coruscant, the Jedi had only accepted adult students. Force-sensitive individuals worked years or decades to learn that control on their own before ever being allowed in as a student of the greater skills in Force manipulation.

Anakin wasn’t an adult, though, anymore than he was an infant. Obi-Wan’s new student was years past infancy and yet years too early for adult comprehension and self-knowledge.

Walking away from the Council room with his newly approved padawan beside him, he considered how best to approach this.

“Tell me, Anakin, do you understand the difference between you calling Watto ‘master’ and me calling Qui-Gon Jinn ‘master’?”

Anakin looked suspicious, like he thought it was a trick question, which was not a particularly encouraging reaction. “Why?”

“Can I take that as a ‘no’?”

“No! I know the difference! Qui-Gon was good and wanted to help me!”

“Yes, he was and yes, he did. But I need to know whether to explain what 'master' means in different contexts.”

“What does that even mean! Master means Master!”

“Not really. You speak several languages and know how slang is often used in slave quarters to ensure that the slave masters don’t understand them. Some words mean different things. Master is one of them.”

“Oh.” Anakin mulled that over. “So what does it mean here, then?”

“A Jedi Master is someone who has mastered the Jedi Arts. It’s a sign of respect and an acknowledgement of their knowledge and abilities. It is not, in and of itself, a sign of any authority.”

Anakin looked confused.

“I don’t actually have to obey someone just because I call them ‘master’.” Obi-Wan clarified. And over-simplified. Hopefully none of the Jedi Masters were listening in right then.

“Oh.” Anakin’s eyes were large at that thought.

“I am guided by their knowledge and try to learn from their examples, but that’s different.”

“Huh.” Anakin was back to looking suspicious.

Obi-Wan sighed and tried to think of another way to explain it.

“I call them ‘master’ in the same way I might call you ‘Podracer Skywalker’. If I was podracing, I would then defer to your direction because I trusted that you knew more about it than I do, not because you could order me to do anything. They understand the Force better than I do, so I defer to them.”

“Huh.” Anakin said again, but more accepting. “I guess that makes sense?”

Obi-Wan breathed a faint sigh of relief. Maybe he’d be able to get through this relatively well? They arrived at their quarters at the temple, which were really Qui-Gon’s quarters. Obi-Wan took a moment to focus on his breathing and keeping it calm and steady. They would need to reorganize the rooms as Obi-Wan moved into Qui-Gon’s and Anakin moved into the padawan attachment.

It was reassuring to have a plan of action. To have something to do rather than to just think about either the past or the present. He could get their physical situation dealt with before dealing further with his new padawan.

“But,” Anakin said, and Obi-Wan tried not to slump. “You called him your master.”

Or maybe he would focus on his new padawan immediately and without pause. “Yes, I did. I called him master, because he had mastered the Jedi Arts. He was my master, because he had agreed to teach those arts to me.”

“Oh, so he was your teacher and a master. And I guess it’s just shorter to say your master if everyone knows what that actually means.”

“Exactly.” He smiled with some relief.

“I guess I can call you my master then.”

Obi-Wan wanted to die. There was no way he had any sort of mastery at this point, and that title would ring false in the Force.

“Why don’t you call me your teacher instead?”

“Won’t that be disrespectful, though?”

It was probably disrespectful to teachers across the galaxy, frankly, to lump Obi-Wan among them, but less so than calling him a Jedi Master when he was barely even a Knight. Rather than explain that set of complexities, Obi-Wan stuck to simply saying, “No, ‘teacher’ is perfectly respectful.”

“Okay…” Anakin sounded just as dubious as Obi-Wan felt.

“Or maybe you’d prefer Tani? It means teacher, but in archaic Aurabesh and that can make it sound more official. It’s actually the word that matches Padawan, meaning student. Tani fell out of use while Padawan carried over to modern Basic.”

“Okay, Tani Kenobi!” Anakin sounded pleased with that, and Obi-Wan settled for getting some odd looks on the temple grounds from the other Jedi once they noticed. “Can I learn that language, the archaic, aura-something?”

“That is an excellent idea, Padawan Skywalker. Modern Aurabesh was actually the foundation of Modern Basic so it should be relatively easy for you to learn. Studying archaic Aurabesh can also introduce you to the Jedi Code, since the original version is in that language.”

Before Anakin volunteered to start immediately, Obi-Wan continued, “But for now, we’ll get settled in for the night and you can get a good night’s sleep.”

“Okay!”

Obi-Wan counted himself lucky that Anakin did get a good night’s sleep because it meant that Obi-Wan had eight uninterrupted hours to figure out what they were going to do the following day, grab a quick nap, and then plan some more.

He had always been told that teachers learned more from their students than students from their teachers, and it had certainly seemed evident in those classes he'd taught in the creche as a senior padawan. But this, having his own padawan, was possibly going to kill him.

He not only needed to teach Anakin, he needed to figure out what to teach him.

Well, Obi-Wan thought, I’ve been set up to fail both myself and this child, but if I am to do so, I will do so with everything I have. This will be a mission like any others, to go into a situation with incomplete knowledge and the high likelihood of explosions and find the right way to create a beneficial outcome for everyone. There had been, after all, a handful of Jedi in the early days of the temple who arrived still needing to learn even rudimentary self-control at the temple.

Over the next week Anakin took a variety of placement tests for his registration into various of the padawan classes. This had involved another preliminary talk just to ensure Anakin understood what those were.

“There are going to be a lot of tests with many different people on many different topics. It won’t be fun, but just do your best and know that there is no such thing as failing a placement test.”

“What if I’m the first one ever to fail?”

“The only way for these test to be failed is for the instructors to fail to assess you. The intent is to judge the extent of your knowledge and understanding. No one knows everything. So the instructors must figure out how much you know, so that we know what to teach you. Their goal is to find out what you don’t know.”

“I guess that makes sense.”

“It will be draining and can be discouraging as they search for what you don’t know, but I want you to know that you cannot fail these tests. You are already a padawan.”

“Okay.” Anakin looked uncertain, but Obi-Wan left it at that.

While Anakin was being grilled on everything and anything, Obi-Wan registered himself as a mastery student for the basics of mind control. He had once seen it mentioned as a holocrom course made available to interested Jedi knights, of whom there were almost none.

It was the equivalent of taking a mathematics class in why one plus one equals two. Sane people just learned it and moved on. Insane people tried to figure the first principles underlying basic arithmetic. Obi-Wan was about to join their number.

He had to figure out how to explain meditation techniques, both simple and advanced, to a child well-equipped with questions, who already had years of using the Force, for podracing at the very least, and likely had a variety of bad habits to discover and change.

Most skills were taught by starting with the easy stuff and advancing progressively harder. Obi-Wan realized he was going to have to focus on skills that weren’t necessarily the easiest to accomplish but the easiest to explain. Which left him throwing both Anakin and himself into the deep end with meditation skills.

He waited for an evening when Anakin came back from his latest batch of tests not completely exhausted, which was sadly only three days later. Free-time was not something that the Jedi temple promoted, given the type of chaos younglings and young padawans with Force abilities could cause. Obi-Wan was fairly sure the Council included knights and most masters among the people who needed to be kept busy for the good of the galaxy as well.

“While you are testing and eventually taking classes during the day, we’ll start studying healing meditations in the evening.”

“Why? I’m really healthy.” Anakin sounded defensive.

“Yes, you are,” Obi-Wan agreed. Slaves on Tatooine tended to go between really healthy and really dead without much time in between. “But healing meditations let you observe your own body and fix it when it’s hurt, and that includes finding and removing foreign objects.”

Anakin’s eyes went wide. “You mean the explosive. I could get rid of it?”

“Yes.”

“Can’t the healers just take it out? The stories say that if escaped slaves get to the core planets with their controllers, the healers can remove the explosives. Did all the escaped slaves really die?” Anakin was working himself up into a panic. Obi-Wan was both impressed with how quick Anakin was, going from Obi-Wan’s description of healing meditations to the implications for escaped slaves, and horrified at what this spoke of their future interactions. It seemed unlikely that Obi-Wan would ever be able to fully control a conversation with him.

“Healers can remove the devices quickly and easily. If you want, we can go to the Healers right now and get the explosives removed within the next hour.”

“Then I want to get rid of it right now!”

“If that’s what you want, then we can certainly do that,” but Obi-Wan didn’t actually move towards the door. If Anakin could make inferences easily, then Obi-Wan would nurture that skill.

Anakin looked at him funny. “Why don’t you think I should do that?”

“If we go to the Healers right now, you’ll be sedated and the explosives will be removed. You’ll wake up with a bandage on a small wound that will leave no scar. You won’t feel a thing. In a week you’ll barely remember it happened.”

Obi-Wan had helped free slaves before. He was thankful he had never been called to be part of the mind healing corps who continued to provide assistance to the freed slaves. It was hard enough to free their bodies. Freeing them in their own minds was more difficult than he could imagine.

Although perhaps he shouldn’t be thanking the Force too quickly for that, since here he was, trying to deal with the mental and emotional fallout of a freed slave.

“It won’t feel real if the healers do it.” Anakin said slowly.

Obi-Wan remained quiet, letting Anakin continue to think it through.

“If I do it myself, even if it takes longer, I’ll know it’s out.” He was still mulling it over. “It’s like building my own droids. If I build it myself I know how it works and how to fix it when it breaks.”

Anakin finally nodded decisively. “Yes, I want to learn how to get rid of it myself.”

Obi-Wan nodded. “Excellent.”

Obi-Wan wasn’t sure if he should be ashamed of using an implanted slave explosive as a motivator for learning meditation. He just appreciated that, between healing meditation and the Jedi code in the original language, he had a solid, and potentially exhausting, plan of study for Anakin, for the time being, at least. He had time to figure out a more long-term plan for Anakin’s education.

Studying meditation, language, and theology-by-way-of-language was a good solid start but every time Obi-Wan thought he had settled on an educational plan, he realized he’d overlooked some other fundamental issue.

The temple tested Anakin’s knowledge of Galactic and planetary histories, his understanding of political methods and governmental structures, his engineering abilities and his language skills. Obi-Wan tried to double-check that Anakin even knew what a Jedi was.

He waited until after the placement tests were completed but before the results were compiled to schedule a day for them to talk about Anakin’s future. They went to one of the meditation groves that they’d used before, where Anakin had made amazing strides in his healing abilities, enough to identify foreign objects in his body. He was well on his way to performing a full check-up on his own health status. He was able to monitor the explosive device at this point. He still had a lot further to go before safely disintegrating it and flushing it out of his own system, but he was working hard on it. At this point, if the healers were to remove it, Anakin would at least be able to confirm its absence.

It was nowhere near where he would need to be, to fully master the meditation technique, but it was more than any non-Jedi.

So much had happened in the last two weeks and Obi-Wan had spent much of it trying to map out a path through the next few years that avoided the doom he still felt swirling through the Force. Qui-Gon had regularly chastised Obi-Wan for being too focused on the future to see the present. So this day would be a chance for both him and Anakin to pause and take a look at the present, and confirm which way the future should go before they were irrevocably set on one path.

“I need you to understand,” Obi-Wan started, “that the Jedi are a religious order. The religion does not have priests or hold public prayers, but the Jedi Order is the official religion of the Republic. We fulfill our mission and support ourselves by providing services to individuals and governments, but ultimately we are a religious order.”

“Huh,” Anakin said. “I guess I sort of knew that? I mean, the Jedi always do good and have amazing powers, so it makes sense that it’s a religion.”

Obi-Wan winced internally. This was the new recruit to the Jedi Order, who ‘guessed’ that it ‘made sense’ for the Jedi Order to be a religious order. He hoped he hid the wince. In any other situation, Obi-Wan would have said that simple lack of knowledge precluded any ability to consent to joining an organization. Admittedly most initiates lacked knowledge of the Order, but that was because they arrived as infants. By the time they were chosen as padawans, they knew a great deal. Anakin was skipping a lot of steps here and in this particular situation, it was Obi-Wan’s task to fill in for that lack. He tried to speak gently, “Don’t let the jobs we do, or the training we receive in order to perform those jobs, distract from the fact that this is a religion. You can receive similar training and perform similar jobs without being part of the religion.”

“You said I couldn’t fail the placement tests!”

“You can’t and you didn’t. I haven’t actually seen the results yet, but I’ll be placing you in classes tomorrow. If you still want to be. But I need to confirm that you still want to be. Because the results of those placement tests could just as easily place you in any number of other career paths.” Obi-Wan kept his voice calm and collected and wondered if this was how all of his own teachers had once felt at his own outbursts. Anakin seriously needed to just calm down.

“No, I'm a Jedi! I know I am!”

"We all interact with the Force in different ways. If you say you are a Jedi, then I must accept your knowledge of yourself." Obi-Wan was just really dubious that a young ex-slave child would seriously want to join a monastic order such as this.

“I want to be a Jedi! I know I can be a great Jedi!”

Of course, who was he to doubt? After all, most masters had thought an angry child like Obi-Wan had been had no place in such a religious order either.

Although it was honestly a bit disturbing, Obi-Wan thought, for a sentient being with any emotional attachments to want to join the Order. There was a reason why the Jedi trained up from infancy to avoid attachments. It was one thing to avoid them, it was quite another to sever existent ones.

“You could also be a great engineer, a great senator, a great pilot.”

“You think I’m dangerous.” Anakin threw the words out like a weapon.

Obi-Wan had spent his life training to negotiate ceasefires and trade deals between mortal enemies. He was used to wading through the complex politics of conflict around the galaxy and even within the Jedi Council itself. Anakin’s attempt to trip him up with words and insight was oddly adorable. Rather than smile fatuously, Obi-Wan kept his face calm and his voice serious, “It is always dangerous to train a Jedi.”

“But you think I’m too dangerous to train.”

“Master Qui-Gon Jinn told me that I was too dangerous to train, too.”

“Really?” Anakin was surprised out of his distress. He was ridiculously easy to distract.

“Really. You can ask around if you like. It was all a bit of a scandal at the time, because I was technically expelled from the Order before he changed his mind.”

And frankly changed his mind was overstating the issue. More accurately, Qui-Gon got coerced into changing his decision. But Obi-Wan was more than willing to take what he could get, both then and now. And since Qui-Gon had used his last breath to ask Obi-Wan to act as a Jedi Master, he took that as tacit endorsement of him being at least somewhat competent, even if he was the only option available.

Being the worst and the slowest in a group made up of the best and brightest is still an accomplishment. It was an accomplishment that Obi-Wan was proud of.

But he brought the discussion back on topic. “Anakin, why do you want to be a Jedi?”

“Because they save people!”

“A lot of jobs save people. Queen Amidala saves people. Healers save people. Engineers save people. Why the Jedi?”

Anakin frowned in concentration. “They all, they all can save people, but it’s smaller. The Jedi come in and change whole worlds.”

The problem with that answer was that it wasn’t actually wrong. Obi-Wan had expected Anakin to be wrong. Even though he was fairly sure Anakin didn’t understand the full import of what he was saying, what he was saying was still absolutely correct. “Yes, the Jedi do tend to change things on a larger scale than most people can. One of the primary uses of the Force is to position ourselves in times and places where a single person can effect massive change.”

“Exactly!”

“But we’re also a religious order. A monastic religious order, in fact. We’re monks with a religion based around belief in the Force.”

“Yeah?”

“There are some places that separate the two aspects: the abilities that draw you to be a Jedi and the faith, but this is not that place.”

“Okay.” Anakin shrugged, like it didn’t matter.

Obi-Wan wasn’t sure how blunt he needed to be here, but apparently it was more than he’d been so far. “We follow the will of the Force. Sometimes that means saving people. Sometimes it means walking away. What you consider to be the right thing to do will not always be what the Force thinks is the right thing to do. As a Jedi, you must follow the will of the Force.”

“But the Force wants us to do what is right.” Anakin spoke with the faith of a child. Obi-Wan felt a surge of respect for Shmi Skywalker’s apparent ability to protect her son from the harsher realities of making hard choices. He was less happy with now having to introduce Anakin to those harsher realities himself.

“You should consider if you would prefer to be settled onto Naboo as a citizen there. I know Queen Amidala would love to have you. She and Senator Palpatine could provide a variety of options for you that don’t involve joining an ascetic monastic order.”

Anakin looked suspicious. “You’re trying to get rid of me.”

“No. I’m trying to make sure you have options.”

“I want to be a Jedi.”

“You also want to be free.”

“I am free! Qui-Gon freed me!”

“You know how I explained that slave masters are different from Jedi masters?”

“Yeah. Slave masters tell me what to do but Jedi masters are masters of themselves.”

“Well, Jedi masters are still going to tell you what to do. And even more than slave masters, we are going to tell you what and how to think,” Obi-Wan finally stated bluntly. “Force manipulation is about mental control, and we will be teaching you that control and demanding it off you. As a Jedi, you will live simply, not own anything personal, and obey a set of rules that few free beings do.”

Anakin’s eyes got bigger and bigger. “You are a slave, then!”

“The difference,” Obi-Wan explained with as much patience as he could, “is in the choice.”

“What does that even mean?”

“You like building droids, right? You do it for fun, because you want to. It’s a choice you have made. But if Watto told you to build a droid for his shop, he’d be ordering you to do so. You would have had to do it, even if you didn’t want to. Did he ever order you to do something that you would have done anyway?”

“Uh… sometimes, maybe?”

“Being the one to choose makes a big difference, doesn’t it? Even if the thing you’re doing is the same.”

“Uh, I guess?”

Obi-Wan took that for a big old “no”, but he also wasn’t sure how else to explain consent to a nine-year-old ex-slave. Sex often made the best example of the difference between choice and no-choice, but nine was a bit young for that… hopefully. On one hand, he’d been a slave. On the other hand, his mother had apparently convinced Anakin and everyone around him that Anakin had been a virgin birth. 

Obi-Wan rather thought she must have amazing Force abilities herself to have so readily convinced Master Qui-Gon Jinn of that bit of history. He wished he’d had a chance to meet her.

Lost opportunities were nothing to dwell upon though. There were always more things to accomplish than there was time and energy to accomplish them with. One must always move forward.

He released his disappointment at not meeting Shmi Skywalker and focused instead on Anakin Skywalker.

“I can register you for padawan classes tomorrow, and you’ll start training with the rest of the padawans as well as continue to study with me, and go on missions with me, but before any of that happens, I need you to consent.”

“I want this.”

“I need you to know that I’ll be giving you orders and the other masters of the temple will be giving you orders. As a member of the Jedi Order, you’ll live under more constraints than even most slaves do, although they are very different types of constraints.”

Anakin finally looked daunted enough that Obi-Wan could hope that he understood.

“Freedom isn’t about getting to do everything you want; it’s about being responsible for everything you do, and being responsible for the results of what you do as well. As a free person, you get to choose, but you also have to be responsible for your choices. Joining the Jedi Order, especially at your age is going to be difficult. Being a Jedi Knight or Jedi Master is both difficult and dangerous. All Jedi have chosen to do that difficult work and take those dangerous risks. I need you to know that you don’t have to. You have a choice, and you do not have to choose to be a Jedi. But if you do choose to be a Jedi, then we both have to know that it is a choice you have freely made.”

Anakin listened intently and then they both sat in silence for a few minutes. It reassured Obi-Wan. Anakin spoke seriously when he finally spoke. “I choose to be a Jedi.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”