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Title: Severance
Author: thelittlepadawan
Rating: PG
Pairing:Implied Obi-Wan/Anakin and implied Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan
Disclaimer: Star Wars belongs to George Lucas.
Summary: Anakin is Knighted.
Based on a writing prompt from swficlets challenge #67 over on LiveJournal; also cross-posted to my personal journal and a handful of other places. Feedback welcome.

*
Severance
*

Obi-Wan had wondered on many occasions if this day would ever come; if he would ever successfully fulfill his promise to his late Master and train the brilliant boy from Tatooine. And yet, now that it was here, he almost felt as if the twelve years they'd known each other had gone by too quickly.

He focused on Anakin, his Padawan no longer, who looked at him and grinned. Obi-Wan smiled back, the expression holding a slight chastisement that Anakin knew well. He often reluctantly succumbed to tradition, if only for his Master's benefit and comfort that Everything Was As It Should Be, albeit airily, as if he were never quite able to take it seriously. And yet, despite their differences, Obi-Wan knew that Anakin was more to him than an apprentice: he was his best friend.

"The Force is with you, Anakin," he said, reciting from memory the short speech traditionally used by Masters on Knighting Day. "You've passed your Trials, and now the Jedi Order bestows upon you the next title in your life-long service to them." He held up the shears he kept in his utility belt and mimed cutting with them, then broke character for a split second. "Any last words?"

Anakin laughed softly. "No, Master." He sobered as Obi-Wan reached up and pinched his slender braid between nimble fingers, tilting his head in acquiescence to the scissors being positioned beneath his ear.

"Anakin Skywalker," Obi-Wan spoke authoritatively. The shears were whisper-soft, and the braid fell into Anakin's upturned palm without any sound at all. "You are a Jedi Knight," Obi-Wan finished.

Anakin glanced down at the now severed plait, studying it for a long moment. "Thank you, Master," he said sincerely. "For everything." He threw his arms around Obi-Wan impulsively, and Obi-Wan, pleasantly surprised, returned the embrace.

"I'm technically not your Master any longer, as you're aware, Anakin," he said warmly when they drew apart, his hands still resting on the boy's shoulders. "But I will always avail myself to you if you need me."

"You will always be my Master," Anakin replied firmly, meeting Obi-Wan's gaze head-on, almost fiercely as if to accentuate his point. "Even when you take another Padawan, I will still have had you first." His serious scrutiny made Obi-Wan squirm a bit in spite of himself, to say nothing of Anakin's rather possessive and un-Jedi-like declaration. The older man coughed and shuffled his feet.

"If it helps," he chuckled, "I do not foresee myself taking any other apprentices on." Anakin smiled, but Obi-Wan knew it was masking ... hesitancy, he thought. "Is there something you would like to ask, Anakin?" he queried. "You do not have to be afraid of bringing up any sensitive subjects."

Anakin nodded, but looked down at the severed lock of hair in his hand. "If I may know," he began finally, "who Knighted you, Master?"

Obi-Wan blinked. Normally, such an answer was obvious, as tradition for centuries held that it was a Master's duty to officially Knight their Padawan. But his indoctration into Knighthood had been unique, as were the series of events that had followed. It was customary for newly-Knighted Jedi to grow accustomed to their rank before going through the process of choosing a Padawan. Obi-Wan had never had that time; he had not been ready to lose his Master, let alone the braid symbolizing his relationship with Qui-Gon. But suddenly, they were both gone, and in their place had been Anakin, young and eager and extremely powerful. Too powerful, Obi-Wan had thought initially, but he had promised Qui-Gon he would train him. There would have been no other option in his mind after that.

He glanced at the boy standing before him who had suddenly become a man. "Master Yoda," he finally answered. "Master Yoda Knighted me, and then granted me permission to train you."

Anakin gazed solemnly at him. "He didn't want you to." It was not a question, merely a wry statement, and Obi-Wan's grip on his shoulders tightened just to hear it.

"You're right, he didn't." He knew he could not lie to Anakin - he had never been able to, actually. "But Qui-Gon did," Obi-Wan said firmly. "And that was all that counted." He sensed that more needed to be said. "He would have been very proud to see how far you've come, Anakin. I am very proud of you." His hands slipped from his now-former Padawan's shoulders; one fell to hang at his side, but the other Anakin caught and held close to his chest, captured between his real hand and his bionic one.

Obi-Wan studied it for a long minute, remembering how he'd sat by Anakin's bedside in the healing wing, clasping the boy's good arm and pressing soothing fingers to his pale face. Anakin had never complained about the accessory, had never seemed wistful about what he had lost. Obi-Wan assumed that his then-Padawan had recognized the robotic arm for what it had taught him: that compulsiveness, recklessness always had consequences. He would not make the same mistake again.

Anakin's fingers pressed Obi-Wan's palm to his chest, letting him feel the rhythmic heartbeat within. It was strong and steady, and he became quite lost in the intimacy of the moment. Anakin's voice eventually pulled him out of his trance-like fasciation with the young Knight's physiology. "I am proud to have brought you joy, my Master," he said. "And I am honored to have been taught by you. I have learned so much."

"And I have learned much from you, Anakin," Obi-Wan said sincerely. He retracted his hand at last and brought it up to stroke the young man's face. The tips of his fingers memorized the texture, lingering perhaps a bit longer than necessary, but Anakin seemed not to mind. His head, in fact, inclined slightly so his cheek could press against Obi-Wan's palm; when his eyes opened again, curiosity clouded them. "May I ask you one more question, Master?"

"Yes, of course," Obi-Wan said encouragingly. "Anything, Anakin. Always."

His former apprentice paused. "Master," he finally said. "What were your Trials?"

Obi-Wan closed his eyes for a split second, then met Anakin's gaze head-on. "I destroyed the Sith Lord whom I watched destroy my Master," he said softly. "And I did not destroy myself in the process."

Anakin nodded but remained silent, contemplative, and Obi-Wan felt suddenly that the boy had plenty enough to reflect on for the time being. "It's almost dawn," he chided gently. "Best we meditate a bit before our meeting with the Council. I have a feeling we are to be sent on a mission."

"Yes, Master," Anakin said. He pocketed his shorn braid, then reached up and tugged the small ponytail in the back of his head out of its fastening. Unruly waves of hair fell heavily to his shoulders, gently framing his face, giving him a matured, even slightly hardened look. Something else had changed, as well, a feeling between them, and again Obi-Wan marvelled at how Anakin had grown up.

"Thank you, Obi-Wan," his former apprentice said again. Obi-Wan accepted it for what it was and followed him out to the training yard for meditation. He had done what Qui-Gon had asked of him, he thought happily; he had turned Anakin into the best Jedi he could be, and formed the bond with him that Qui-Gon had been unable to in death. Whatever was in store for them now, he knew in his heart of hearts that they could weather through - that he would muddle through, with Anakin, together.

For the first time since Qui-Gon had died, he stepped outside to greet the first vestiges of a new day, and he was not afraid.

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