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"I would be honoured if you would dine with me tonight, Obi-Wan Kenobi." 

I had extended my generous invitation with just a touch of Force pressure, and in return you bowed slightly in the irritating manner of all Jedi which is supposed to convey humility but actually suggests only smug superiority. 

"Thank you, Chancellor Palpatine.  The honour would be mine."

I detected a slight frown between your brows, as if you weren't entirely sure why you were accepting the invitation.  No matter.  I was quite confident that my controls had been exerted with such subtlety that you would never be aware of the manipulation

And now you are here, completing your meal and accepting a glass of wine from a protocol droid with the air of polite abstraction you've worn all evening.  It is the same slightly glazed and detached look you've displayed ever since your return from Naboo, as if only by distancing yourself from reality can you find any semblance of composure.  I know the look - your late master himself wore it for some time after his little tryst with me - and I don't need to risk probing into your mind to find out why you are so wretched:  thinking me blind in the Force you wear only the most fragile of masks and so your grief warms me like the fire of a bright, burning sun. 

Beautiful. 

I smile inside as I stare through the crystal glass in my hand and watch your reflection splinter into a thousand pieces as I twist the spiralled stem.  My late apprentice accomplished more than I thought before his untimely death at your hands: with a single thrust of his lightsaber Maul brought you into being - this lovely, tormented creature who sits opposite me. 

"We should drink," I say, raising my glass with grave deliberation, "to the memory of your brave and honourable master who gave his life in defence of Naboo.  To Qui-Gon Jinn."

You swallow visibly, shocked from cool neutrality by the mention of that name.  Your eyes are stricken.  "To Qui-Gon Jinn," you mutter almost inaudibly and, even though swallowing appears to be suddenly painful to you, I note with satisfaction that you drain your wine almost to the bottom of the glass.  Naturally.  To do any less would be to dishonour your master's memory.

I regard you for a moment in sympathetic silence.  "Master Yoda has told me of the return of the Sith.  You know I will ensure that the Senate does everything it can to track down the remaining Sith Lord."

"I know."  Quietly, with a painful dignity.  "But it will not bring back my master."

"Alas, no.  He was a great Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi.  It is right that you should mourn him." 

"He is one with the Force, Chancellor.  I know I should not shame his memory with pointless grief, but I miss him very much."

"Of course."

"I loved him."

"I understand."

Your head lifts and your guileless eyes, brilliant with unshed tears, meet mine.  "You are the first in many weeks to accept my grief at face value, and for that kindness I thank you.  But no, you don't understand.  I loved Qui-Gon Jinn as more than friend and master, Chancellor.  But we were never ...  intimate.  He wouldn't become my lover; he said it would be wrong of him to accept such affections until after I was made knight.  I thought we would be together then, even though he was determined to take Skywalker as his new apprentice.  I had so much love to give him and now I'll never ...." 

With a choked sob of pain, you give up on words and slump forward, burying your head in your arms.  The uncharacteristically graceless movement topples your glass sideways into ruin, the dregs of wine spreading in a dark stain between the crystal shards and across the pristine surface of the white table cloth. 

I smile. 

Jedi are so proud of their ability to detect tainted food or drink before they consume it, but I had needed only the slightest Force manipulation to slip this particular concoction past your depleted defences.  You've lost the battle without even being aware that it was joined, your natural inhibitions weakening, and all that hard-won control over your emotions splintering into exquisite jagged pieces of pain. 

Yes, weep young Kenobi.  Weep for the love you never knew.  It's such a shame that I can't yet add to your grief by telling you that I once had what you craved.  Had unwillingly, of course.  Qui-Gon Jinn was a very stubborn man, as you well know, and utterly refused all my most subtle blandishments.  But then his body wasn't being betrayed by the insidious influence of drugs; nor was he emotionally vulnerable to my attentions - and you are both, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

I push back my chair and move to stand beside you as you lay your head on the table and weep out your pent-up misery.  The Jedi are fools to think they can cloak death with meaningless platitudes about the Force; they would have done far better to let you grieve for your loss in your own way and time, but their precious Code no doubt forced you to bury all that emotion.  So now you're generously presenting it to me, and it's a valuable gift that I intend to take full advantage of.

But at first I do no more than press one hand very gently into your hair.  The strands are feathery under my touch, not yet properly grown out from that absurd cut imposed on you, but the braid is gone.  You are an apprentice no longer, but a knight with a padawan learner of your own.  Delicious.  Right at this moment you are not emotionally capable of training any child, let alone a precocious and prodigiously talented youth like Skywalker.  Qui-Gon Jinn was cruel to impose this task on you, little one, but I shall so enjoy ensuring you fail at it.

You don't flinch from my touch as I smooth your hair from crown to velvety nape, cupping your warm neck with my palm and splaying my fingers down your tense back.  I'm making the sexual invitation more explicit now, but still you don't resist, caught up in your grief for what you can never have.  So I move behind you and lean forward, this time letting my hands glide over your hunched shoulders and under the layers of tunic until they brush your soft nipples.  Then I kiss the top of your head, inhaling deeply the fresh, sweet scent that proclaims your youth and lack of sophistication.  Poor ingenuous Obi-Wan, so utterly unaware that you will soon be a willing accomplice in your own corruption! 

You catch your breath sharply at the brush of my lips on your hair, but I can sense the waking desire shuddering through you, and I rub gently at your nipples, feeling them rise and harden under my skilled touch.  My advances are utterly unexpected and I know you're shocked by what I'm doing, but the drugs ensure that you're not unresponsive.  Oh my poor sad little Jedi - you're making this so very, very easy.

"Chancellor -"

"Shhh.  I want to help you."

"I don't think we should -"

"We both grieve for one who dear to us, in our different ways.  If we can find comfort together, Obi-Wan Kenobi, do you think your master would find it in his heart to censure us?"

"No ..."  Your reply is soft and throaty, not just with grief now but with raw aching need.  So much need ....

Reluctantly I take my hands from you, but only for a moment.  Drawing you away from the table, I raise you to your feet and turn you towards me.  Like an awkward child, you hang your head, scrubbing at your face with the sleeve of your tunic and trying to hide your distress from me, but you needn't.  I'm enjoying every moment of your misery.

"I've never ... I haven't ...."

Oh, how perfect!  My poor little virgin Jedi!  Saving yourself for Qui-Gon Jinn?  What a pointless exercise that was!  I have no doubt you see only noble self-restraint in his refusal to bed you, but I can assure you that it had nothing to do with his integrity.  I know precisely why he chose to keep you adoring, eager but unsatiated:  it was because of what I did to him thirteen years ago.  A bond was forged between us then, you see.  For Qui-Gon Jinn it was a dark, terrible connection that he could never sever and yet never trace back to its source; for me it was a bright, beautiful chain that I could pull upon, shattering his composure with a single nightmare whenever I felt the need to taste his suffering once again.  

"You need not be afraid of lovemaking, Obi-Wan: I shall teach you.  You've pleasured yourself many times, I'm sure."

"Yes."  Shyly.

"There's no shame in it.  Each of us are flesh, after all, and as such have needs that must be met."

I move closer and wrap my arms round you, giving you the warmth and strength you crave to cling to.  And most gratifyingly, cling you do, with an almost desperate starving hunger.  Are the Jedi blind that they didn't sense this depth of need in you and offer you succour?  Or did you close yourself to them so thoroughly that they failed to detect it?  I know it's not impossible.  Proud and stubborn to the last, Qui-Gon Jinn managed to hide his continued torment from the Jedi for years. 

And from you. 

Did you know there were dark places in his mind that he never let you visit, Obi-Wan Kenobi?  I was most intimately aware of them, of course: my skill not only created them but chained the memories so tight about his soul that he chose celibacy rather than risk rousing any into sudden horrifying life.

Your head is nestled against my neck and I have to use one hand to prise you away so that I can kiss you.  Your lips meet mine almost chastely and I feel a shiver of expectation ripple through you.  You are a curious contradiction in my arms - smoothly, almost bonelessly pliant, yet your hard, demanding cock pressed insistently against my thigh speaks most eloquently of your desire.  Did you cling so to your master, Obi-Wan, and beg him to love you?  What a torment that must have been to him!

I ease my hands under your tunic once more, stroking the palms over your back.  You don't have the height of your late master, but your compact body is trim, the muscles firm and well-toned as a young man's should be.  I trace one hand after another down the hard line of your spine until I can caress the small of your back; the skin there is unexpectedly silky and soft.  Then I reach inside your clothing, cupping and squeezing the smooth globes of your pert rump.  Your mouth falls open in a groan of shock and pleasure, and I use the opportunity to slip my tongue in between your parted lips, tasting your heat and sweetness.

Ah, Obi-Wan, it was not like this with your master.  His lips did not part willingly under mine, eagerly matching my desire with his own wanton need as do you.  Qui-Gon Jinn's mouth I ravaged, seizing first his lips and then his tongue between my teeth and biting down hard until the warm metallic tang of blood filled his mouth and mine like a sweet, dark wine.  Believe me, there is an art to that kind of abuse, too, just as there is now in your seduction.  What I am doing to you, Obi-Wan, is merely a different kind of defilement; I am connoisseur enough to savour them both.

You're trembling now, your face still wet with tears, and I can't stop myself from lifting your head so that I can tenderly lick away the moisture.  So sweetly salty.  It reminds me of when Qui-Gon Jinn wept at the terrible hurt I'd inflicted on him.  I tasted his tears then too.

"Tell me, Obi-Wan," I whisper in your ear, "do you think on anything in particular when you touch yourself?"

"I liked to imagine my hands were those of my master," you confide, your low voice tinged with both despair and self-deprecation at such wishful thinking.

"Of course.  What would be more natural?  Obi-Wan Kenobi, if you wish to imagine that I am your master as we make love now then I promise you I will not be offended."  Quite the contrary.  It will amuse me no end to hear you scream your master's name as I take your virginity.

You manage a fleeting smile.  "You are very generous ...."

"And you are very beautiful.  I wish to make this moment special for you."

You begin to disrobe in front of me, Obi-Wan Kenobi,  stripping with a mixture of awkwardness and elegance.  Taking off your clothes is a common-place act, but this is the first time you have performed this ritual before a lover-to-be and it makes you clumsy.  I mirror your actions with more grace, smiling encouragement at you as I do so.  Your face is flushed and as you discard the last of your clothing, kicking it aside in a tangled heap, I can see that this isn't the only part of you where heat is concentrated.  Your cock is long and thick, flushed with blood and already standing upright, begging for attention.  You are such a magnificent young man!  Ripe and ready, and mine for the taking.

I catch your hand and lead you to the plump-cushioned couch.  My cock is also beginning to rise to the occasion, and you regard it with concern as I push you down until you are lying sprawled enticingly on your back, the scarlet velvet framing the creamy flesh of your naked body.

"No need to worry," I whisper reassuringly.  "When I take you, you'll be well prepared and ready for me.  See?"  I show you the small bottle of oil placed ready by the couch, prising open the stopper and dribbling out a thick colourless pool of liquid onto my hands.  You watch, your expression every bit as aroused as apprehensive, while I warm the oil between my fingers.  "You've no need to be fearful.  I don't want to hurt you." 

Not yet.

That first oiled touch has you squirming and gasping with delight as I place my fingertips on your chest and then slither them in slow sensuous circles over your hard nipples.  The oil was specifically chosen to enhance your ardour and my own, and the rich scent of it hangs heavy and sultry in the air.  Very gently, I slide my silky hands across the flat panes of your stomach and then over the tender flesh of your inner thighs, carefully avoiding your cock even though you're so desperate for my touch that you're practically thrusting it at me.  Ah, the eagerness of youth!

"Please ...." you moan, your hands tugging insistently at mine, your head twisting from side to side in rising excitement.  "Please ...."  You want me to touch you.  How perfect! 

When Qui-Gon Jinn begged like this it was because he wanted me to leave him alone.  His once lordly voice had been hoarse and shaking by then, and oh it was sweet to hear him beg!  I watched his face as he pleaded with me, and savoured the dread that sparked in those cobalt-blue eyes.

Your eyes, Obi-Wan Kenobi, are lighter, green and blue mingled together in ever-changing sea-tones.  Right now they are wide and bright with lust, your mouth dropping open in a cry of ecstasy as at last I oblige you by wrapping my oil-slick palm round your cock and pumping it.  Your breath is quickening, your hips bucking, and I know you won't last much longer.  So I dip my head and fasten my lips around your cock, the fingers of my other hand squeezing tenderly at your tight satiny balls.

Your semen hits the back of my throat in a warm flood as you scream in incoherent delight, your body arcing off the couch in uncontrollable spasms.  I suck the sweetness from you, enjoying it all the more because I know exactly whose lips you imagine are locked round your cock, and because I'd ensured it would never happen.

I let you lie still for a moment in the sweaty and flushed aftermath of orgasm.  Your eyelids are half-closed, screening the wild heat of your eyes, and your lips are parted, quick, shuddering breaths escaping through them as you struggle to regain composure.  I like you like this, so vulnerable and so beautiful.  My cock twitches and hardens as I watch you, and I lean forward, sealing my dripping mouth against yours, letting you taste your own semen.  Your tongue licks the inside of my mouth tentatively, and then greedily as you suck back the last traces of your passion. 

Coating my fingers once more with the fragrant oil, I smooth them down over your limp cock and soft balls, and circle my forefinger across your tight, virgin opening.  Your mouth still locked on mine, you give a choked gasp as I let the finger push inside you, gliding it lightly up and down to create a delicious friction.  You moan under me, rocking your body as I push further inside you.  When my finger slides out I hear you hiss with disappointment, but your cries become rapturous as this time I insert two well-oiled fingers and probe deeper up inside your body.  Your warm muscles clench invitingly around my fingers as I explore your flesh, and your mouth jerks free of mine in a yelp of excitement as I push insistently at the hidden, untouched core of you.  Wide-eyed in shock and delight, you stare at me.  And then as I test you by holding my burrowing fingers still, you push back at me with your hips, wordlessly demanding that I give you more.  What a greedy little slut you are, Obi-Wan Kenobi!

"Am I hurting you?" 

"No...no!  Don't stop - please!"  You almost wail in disappointment as I withdraw my hand. 

"Give me your hands."  Biting your lip and breathing hard, you obey, and I tip the last of the oil onto your shaking fingers before I guide your hands down onto my thick cock.  "Make me ready, Obi-Wan Kenobi," I whisper.

Your hands may lack the expertise that Maul's had, but your touch is deft enough as you smooth the glistening oil on my cock.  I close my eyes for a moment and surrender to the sensations your caresses arouse in me.  Your cock is hard again now; I can feel it nuzzle me as you curve and stroke your silky fingers around my flesh.  Finally I'm ready, and I prise you off me, pushing you down onto the floor.

"On your hands and knees," I whisper at your puzzled face.  "Now.  Go down on your elbows and let me look at you.  Do this for me."

You do exactly as I ask, going down onto your knees and elbows, raising your rump in the air like a bitch on heat, your hard cock curving up to your belly.  You are cloaked in your own desire, a beautiful image wrought in hard muscle and taut flesh, your body aching with such need and lust that the heat of it rises from you in a palpable wave.  Then you jerk your hips at me, moaning.  An irresistible invitation!  Without any more ado, I turn you onto your back, push your parted knees up against your chest and sheathe myself firmly in your all-too willing flesh.

When I raped Qui-Gon Jinn my first thrust into his delectable body was violent enough to rip a full-throated scream out of him.  The look of anguish on his face in that moment was exquisite!

Your face, Obi-Wan, is just as exquisite but it is contorted in ecstasy not pain.  Unlike your master, both your body and your mind have been prepared to enjoy this desecration.  So you thrust up hungrily to meet me while I drive myself deeper into your oiled warmth, relishing the feel of your strong muscular flesh clasped around my cock like a hot velvet fist.  As I find a rhythm that impacts against the raw centre of you on every forward stroke, so your eyes turn smoky with lust, and your mouth falls open, gasping for air.  Oh how sad that Qui-Gon Jinn never knew you this way, never felt you squirm and cling to him in the white heat of passion!  You're mine now, Obi-Wan Kenobi.  All mine.

"More!" you groan.  "More!  Harder!"

Harder?  I think maybe I detect in you a need to be hurt, a need to pay penance for failing to save your master.  I'm afraid I can't indulge you too much there, Obi-Wan.  After all I'm Palpatine now, not Sidious as I was when I took my pleasure with Qui-Gon Jinn.  I'm sure you would agree that he'd have found it far less painful to accept Palpatine's advances than be forced to submit to Sidious's.

For I was not Palpatine that night I raped Qui-Gon Jinn, but my darker, more powerful alter-ego who had ordered Jinn's kidnap after he had rejected the Naboo senator's advances.  I was masked, an unknown creature of darkness, unleashing all my fury on the Jedi I despised, and in such brutal displays of power I have no equals.  I fucked Qui-Gon Jinn like he deserved, keeping one hand gripped round his cock and milking him to climax in tandem to my own savage thrusts.  Afterwards I licked away his tears as he sobbed helplessly under me.  So sweetly salty.  It had been quite beautiful.

This is beautiful too, for different reasons.  I am corrupting an innocent, and you are actually delighting in what I'm doing to you, unaware of the atrocities to which I subjected your beloved master.  One day, when you find out the truth, the memories of how willingly you played the whore with your master's rapist will destroy whatever is left by then of your innocence and faith.  Poor Qui-Gon Jinn.  Maybe he's better off dead and knowing nothing of how I stole what should have been his.  Or maybe he can see all this from whatever hereafter Jedi are consigned to.  What a delightful thought!  To bring him torment in the next life as well as this would be sweet victory indeed.

Your cock is rising and rubbing salty tears against my chest as I plunge into you more strongly.  So I close my hand round it, matching stroke for stroke until I feel it pulse in my hand.  Your eyes are closed now, your fingers digging into my hips, and I feel your mind as it gathers and focuses the blazing heat of your need and passion not on me, but on the one you loved.  On the one I have denied to you.

"Master ... love ... Qui-Gon!"  His name on your lips is enough.  You become incoherent, ripples of ecstasy shaking your body, your semen spraying between my fingers in a warm, milky fountain.  I watch your face, so wonderfully expressive, your every emotion as transparent as glass.  And as your muscles clamp round my cock so I respond in kind, filling you with my seed, claiming you as mine.

For a long delirious moment we cling together in mutual release, our bodies pumping and writhing as we mark each other with the fluid warmth of passion.  And then you fall back against the floor, limp and exhausted.  Your eyes flicker and I sense your discomfort, your awareness returning to remind you that the lover who covers your body with his own is not the one you wanted it to be.  There is a glint of tears in your eyes as your head turns away, and I sense your grief renewed.  Ah, not just grief this time, but guilt.  Guilt at having used me.  Oh, the irony of that is just too perfect!  Without a word, I lift myself away from you and watch as you draw up your knees, curling up on one side and shivering with reaction.

I know that Qui-Gon Jinn had thought his ordeal ended when I finally removed myself from his body.  I felt the sudden wild flare of hope that coursed through him, and it brought me great pleasure to crush it still-born.  The men who'd kidnapped my poor Jedi Master were all too eager to accept the bonus I offered them, and they raped Qui-Gon Jinn repeatedly with a casual brutality that was truly a delight to behold.  When they were finished I had them take him to one of the more infamous brothels in Coruscant's underworld.

Ah, Obi-Wan Kenobi, unlike your master, you loved being fucked by me, didn't you?  Indeed, I hardly think the aphrodisiacs were necessary: I'm sure that with only the slightest show of affection and encouragement you would have dropped your pants and let anyone who wanted ream that pretty little backside of yours.  Not all your self-disgust at your wanton behaviour now can disguise that fact, I fear. 

I've made you into a whore, just like I did your precious master. 

I did not see Qui-Gon Jinn again until some weeks after his Jedi brethren had finally delivered him from his ordeal.  Then he was haggard, his eyes dark and haunted, and he flinched at every sudden movement made towards him.  I remember touching his arm deliberately - with much apologies afterwards - just to feel him tremble, every muscle shivering as a thousand ugly memories raced unchecked through his mind.  The physical damage could be - and was - repaired, but Jinn refused all but initial counselling, feigning serenity and preferring to nurse his emotional wounds in private.  It was very considerate of him; it undoubtedly made it easier for the Council to hush up the whole unfortunate affair. 

With a soft sigh of dismay, I lean forward and place a hand on your shoulder, my fingers combing through the sweat-soaked tendrils of hair that cling to your neck.  You tremble under the light caress, just as Jinn did, and I feel your emotions flood through me in a sweet, scalding wave: a broken torrent of loss, shame, guilt and grief.  "It's all right," I tell you gently.

"No, no it's not."  Your voice is harsh, and you swallow hard.  You're crying again, but this time silently, the tears spilling down your cheeks in wave after wave of misery.  "It's not all right.  I thought ... I don't know what  I thought!  Maybe that this would help, but it hasn't.  I don't think anything can help ...."

"Obi-Wan, I'm so sorry."  I speak soft, honeyed words of reassurance, my hands caressing your cooling, cringing flesh as if I had no thought on my mind other than easing your grief.  "I thought it might help, too.  Believe me, I had no wish to add to your suffering."

"I know.  And I thank you.  And I ... I apologize ... I feel like I just used you.  I'm sorry ..."

"Don't be sorry, Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Both of us did what felt right to us at the time.  The only sadness I have is that it failed in any way to ease your pain."

"I don't think ... I don't think that pain will ever ease ..."  You draw a shuddering breath at that, pulling away from me and casting about you with one hand for your clothes.  I let you go then, draping my discarded robe around me and watching as you dress in hurried, clumsy silence.  Your pain is now a bright open wound and I batten onto it, feasting on the sweetness of your suffering.  I hadn't thought that anything could be as darkly precious to me as the agony of soul I inflicted on Qui-Gon Jinn, but your pain rivals it, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

It appears you intend no formal leave-taking.  I watch and wait as you cross to the door, and then I call your name.

"Obi-Wan."

You turn and look at me.  Your face is bleak, your eyes bruised with grief and loss.  My poor sad Jedi!  I am almost ready to let you go, but I have one last twist of the knife to make.

"Talk to the healers at the Temple, Obi-Wan.  It may be that they can help you.  It's not good that young Skywalker should be aware of your distress."

You raise your head at that, displaying a touch of your old pride and confidence.  "He isn't aware of it, Chancellor, I assure you.  I keep myself shielded at all times from him."

Shielded at all times?  So the apprentice is being denied the comfort of a mind bond with his young master.  Interesting.  I foresee a time when I can use this information to feed the youth's natural anxieties and insecurities.  Skywalker shows promise of maturing into a handsome young man; I shall very much enjoy completing his education, in more ways than one.  "That's comforting to know, but you must seek help for yourself, Obi-Wan.  It will do no good to let this wound fester inside you as Qui-"  I broke off there, biting my lip as if regretting that I had said so much.

You hesitate only a fraction before taking the bait I offer so ingenuously.  "What were you about to say?  That it would do no good to let this fester inside me as Qui-Gon did?"  Your voice rises in anxiety.  "What do you mean?"

"Forgive me.  I have spoken out of turn."

"I want to know what you meant, Chancellor!"  Your hands clench involuntarily, and I see the knuckles whiten.  What price serenity now, my young Jedi?  Where Qui-Gon Jinn is concerned, you are all raw emotion!

I sigh heavily, and then spread my hands in reluctant capitulation.  "Not long after I made the acquaintance of Qui-Gon Jinn he was kidnapped and brutalized - this was shortly before he took you for an apprentice.  As I understand it, he refused counselling and so delayed the healing process."  Delayed it?  There was never any healing process for your beloved master, Obi-Wan.  He died still bleeding inside. 

As will you.

You take a step back towards me, visibly shaken by the information.  "How brutalized?"

"I have no details.  You must understand, I was just a newly-appointed senator then.  No-one of any consequence.  I was only part of the information loop because Qui-Gon Jinn was kidnapped after leaving a reception I had hosted.  The Council kept the details private."

"Then I will get the details from them."  Ah, the tenacity of youth!  There is a spark in your eyes now, the tears drying on your face, a gleam of determination shining through the grief.  You have found a fresh focus for your thoughts, although quite what you imagine you can do about the incident at so long a remove I really don't know. 

"If you think it will help." 

It won't, of course.  When you find out the truth it will only anger and distress you further.  If you imagine you can use this knowledge to help you through your despair, you will find you are sadly mistaken. 

Your late master tried to heal himself by helping others, by nurturing all those waifs and strays.  So commendable, and so utterly futile!  I saw how he schooled himself to appear tactile and at ease in the company of others, and I knew it for the smokescreen it really was; he could embrace intimacy with the Living Force, but intimacy of a sexual nature with any one individual within it was now impossible.  Maybe he even accepted the situation, until you grew up before his eyes - his spirited, beautiful apprentice.  Ah, Obi-Wan Kenobi, I can imagine how badly Qui-Gon Jinn must have wanted you!

Straightening your back, you compose yourself with an effort.  Then you wrap your robe around yourself, hiding from the world in its comforting folds, the hood screening your face until you look up at me one last time.  To any who didn't know better you would appear a very calm young man, wearing an expression of quiet gravity.  "I must go, Chancellor."

"Of course."

"I ..."  You hesitate, not knowing quite how to express your emotions, and not knowing, of course, that I can read their fascinating complexity quite clearly.   I can assure you that one day, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you will have no difficulty in deciding exactly how you regard me.  "Thank you for what you tried to do, Chancellor. It was kindly meant."

    I smile.  "Believe me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the pleasure was all mine."

    END