Obi-Wan sat quietly in meditation, feeling the Force flow through him, filling him with a familiar warmth and comfort. The peacefulness inside the small adobe hut was in stark contrast to the harsh environment outside. Tatooine was a hostile, unforgiving planet and at the moment a sandstorm was beginning to form, bringing with it howling wind and an overcast darkness that threatened to drown out even the harsh glare of the twin suns. But storms such as this were of little surprise to the Jedi who had lived in a self-imposed exile for nearly a decade. Indeed, Obi-Wan almost looked forward to them, as they brought a little diversion to an otherwise monotonous existence.
The feel of an approaching presence roused Obi-Wan from his meditation. He rose, his brow furrowing as he tried to identify the individual who was brave enough - or foolish enough - to be traveling the Dune Sea on such a day. It only took him a moment to realize who it was, and he smiled slightly as he moved to the door to greet his visitor. He walked outside, squinting to see through the churning sand, and finally saw a figure in the distance, head down, wrapped entirely in thick robes walking slowing away from a landspeeder.
"Beru!" he called to her, waving his hand, trying to get her attention.
In response, Beru Lars raised her head slightly, adjusting the scarf that covered her face. She traversed the last distance quickly, grateful when Obi-Wan took her arm and helped her down the steps that led to his door. Once inside, she unwrapped the scarf from her head and shook the sand from her hair while Obi-Wan assisted her with her cloak.
"You chose an interesting day to travel," he commented as he shook out her cloak and draped it neatly over a chair. He motioned for her to sit, then started toward the small kitchen area. "Would you like a cup of caf?"
"Yes, please," she answered, sitting down in one of the hard wooden chairs that surrounded the rustic eating table in the corner of the room. She smiled as Obi-Wan handed her a drink. "Thank you, Ben."
Obi-Wan sat down opposite of her, and smiled. He regarded her a moment with curious eyes.
"You cut your hair," he commented, watching as her face flushed and her hand went up to touch her shoulder length brown hair.
"It's more practical this way," she stated simply.
"It becomes you," he responded with sincerity.
Beru lowered her eyes and took another sip of her drink. She hadn't come here for small-talk, and she knew Obi-Wan certainly understood that. But, as he always did when she came to visit, he would not rush her. He would simply wait for her to initiate the conversation with a calm patience. It was just as well, because on this particular day Beru was not entirely certain why, exactly, she had sought out the aging Jedi.
"How is Owen?" Obi-Wan asked gently, taking a sip from his own cup.
"He's fine. Working hard, of course, now that the harvest is approaching."
"And Luke?" he asked, watching her carefully.
Beru hesitated, wondering how she should respond. Luke was nearly 10 years old now, healthy, small and strong. He was doing well in his studies and was starting to be a great deal of help around the farm. He was good boy, but she knew that wasn't what Obi-Wan was asking.
"He's doing it more now," she answered, staring at her drink as though transfixed. "It happened again last night. He was reaching for a plate on the second shelf. He couldn't quite reach it but somehow..." she trailed off, looking lost, then released a ragged breath. "It moved, Ben. Not far, but far enough."
Obi-Wan sat back, nodding his head. This news was not entirely unexpected. Luke had been showing signs of his Jedi traits for many years - everything from unnaturally quick reflexes to heightened perception. And now, apparently, he had discovered the active ability to move objects with the Force. It was unavoidable, really, considering Luke's parentage. He had inherited so much of his father, including his extraordinarily high midi-chlorian count. The Force was swirling in young Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan knew it would not lay dormant for long.
He looked up and saw Beru staring at him with worry in her eyes. He understood what she must have been feeling and he smiled, trying to relieve some of her concern.
"How did he react when the plate moved?" he asked as casually as possible.
She sighed heavily. "He jumped back. His eyes were wide. It scared him, Ben." She paused. "And me."
Obi-Wan looked at Beru, hearing the unspoken meaning in her words. Beru was a good woman - compassionate and loving. She had lived on Tatooine the whole of her life, never traveling farther than Mos Eisley. She was strong, practical and asked very little from life. She was the perfect wife for a moisture farmer like Owen Lars, who was himself as solid as the ground on which he walked.
Obi-Wan recalled the day he had brought Luke to Tatooine, the day he had shown up at the Lars homestead with an infant in his arms. Before Obi-Wan had even gotten a chance to fully explain the situation, Beru had taken the baby from him, gently rocking him as though she was already an experienced mother. She had listened patiently as Obi-Wan explained the tragic events that had brought Luke to them. She had accepted the child into her home with a promise to raise him as her own. Obi-Wan knew that Beru would never fail to keep that promise.
But still, there were many times Beru had come to visit Obi-Wan. She would come to ask questions, to make sure she was doing what was best for the Jedi child that had been entrusted to her care. She knew the day would come when Luke would have to leave to fulfill his destiny as a Jedi and she was haunted day and night by a deep fear that she was not preparing Luke properly for that destiny. She knew that in times past potential Jedi were taken from their family almost from birth, to insure they were given the right foundation for a life of great power and greater responsibility. And Luke's destiny, she knew, would have consequences for the whole of the galaxy. How could she, the simple wife of a farmer, possibly give Luke what he needed? Obi-Wan had explained to her many times that Luke was learning a great deal under her guidance - the value of hard-work, loyalty, compassion. Those traits were central to the life of a Jedi, and would serve Luke well in the future. But whenever Luke exhibited a new ability, Beru would always seek out her Jedi friend for reassurance - just as she was doing now.
"The ability to move objects is a common Jedi trait," Obi-Wan explained, keeping his voice conversational. "It's not something I would have expected Luke to be able to do without training, but I wouldn't be concerned."
Beru leaned forward, lowering her voice even though no one else was nearby to hear. "But what if this happens again? I can't stop him, Ben. What if he does it too much and they find him?"
Obi-Wan looked in to Beru's pained eyes, seeing a very real fear. He had explained to her before why it would be dangerous for Luke to start actively training in the Jedi way. For once an individual opens himself to the Force, they become a powerful beacon of energy - one that can be noticed by others who might be looking.
"He won't be sensed, Beru. Not now, anyway. If the time comes when Luke's presence in the Force becomes too strong - and I doubt that day will come soon - I will certainly sense it."
"And you'll take him away?" she asked, her voice a mixture of hope and fear.
Obi-Wan smiled. "I'll do what must be done, Beru. I promise you that."
She nodded, relieved. She picked up her cup once more and took a long sip, trying to delay, as best she could, the reason for her visit. There was much she needed to tell Obi-Wan, but she was in no rush to do so. But there was no point in hiding behind idle chatter and caf, she decided. She placed the cup pointedly back down on the table and turned her eyes to Obi-Wan.
"Owen made a decision last night, Ben," she began, choosing each word carefully.
"About me?" he questioned, knowing the answer even before she nodded in confirmation.
"He won't allow you to see Luke anymore."
Obi-Wan did not move, betrayed no hint of what effect - if any - the statement had on him.
"I argued with him about it," Beru continued, not meeting his eyes. "But he wouldn't listen to me. He's convinced that it will be better for Luke if he never learns anything about the Jedi, or his father - even you." She shook her head, and her voice lowered apologetically. "I'm so sorry."
Obi-Wan offered a smile, knowing it pained Beru to be having this conversation. He allowed the silence to draw out a while before responding.
"He can't change Luke's destiny."
Beru looked up at him, a storm of mixed emotion on her face.
"I know," she told him quietly. "But Owen doesn't believe in fate, or destiny or even the Force. Not anymore."
Obi-Wan nodded, knowing that Owen would never bend on his views, or on his decision to keep Luke away from him, the local 'wizard.' He was a hard man, Owen Lars, forged by the fires of the double sun and years of toiling on an unforgiving planet.
"He wasn't always like that, you know," Beru stated, her eyes distant. "But after she was killed, everything changed with him."
Obi-Wan frowned in confusion before realizing that Beru was talking about Shmi Skywalker, the only mother Owen could remember. Obi-Wan knew the story of Shmi's death, knew that she was presumed dead before Anakin unexpectedly arrived on Tatooine and found her barely clinging to life in a Tusken camp. He knew from Beru that Shmi's death had devastated Owen every bit as much as Anakin. Perhaps even more.
"He has never forgiven himself for that," Beru continued sadly. "He didn't go after her with the others. His father asked him to stay at the farm with me, and he did. He always did what Cliegg asked of him. When they couldn't find her, it was assumed she was already dead. And when Anakin found her alive weeks later...." Her voice trailed off, and a tear welled in her eye. "Owen was devastated by guilt. Afterwards he just became so angry, saying the Force was a cruel joke - one that would lead a son to his mother, just so he could watch her die." She shook her head. "When he looks at Luke, I don't think he's really seeing Anakin's son. I think he's seeing Shmi's grandchild. He feels he owes it to her to keep Luke safe. And there is nothing that you or I or anyone else will be able to say that will make him think differently. He's lived too long with the guilt of not trying to save Shmi. He'll go to his death trying to save Luke the best way he knows how."
Obi-Wan sat quietly, taking in everything Beru had said with a combination of understanding and sadness. He knew, no matter what Owen believed, that Luke's destiny could not be halted. But he also knew that it would do no good to argue the point.
"I will respect his wishes, Beru," he stated. "I won't try to contact Luke." He paused, looking her in the eye. "But there will come a time when he will seek me out."
Beru hesitated, then nodded in understanding before standing up. Without thinking, she reached for the two now-empty cups on the table, only to be stopped by a gentle hand.
"I'll take care of that," Obi-Wan told her with a smile. "The storm seems to be letting up. You should probably get going home if you want to make it before nightfall."
"You're right," she replied, moving to get her cloak. She pulled it around her, tying it at the waist, then took her scarf and wrapped it around her head.
"You are welcome to come by any time, you know," Obi-Wan told her as they moved to the door.
"I know," she said, smiling at the Jedi. "I'll keep in touch. I promise."
She opened the door and walked up the steps, laughing when she realized she had parked the family landspeeder a considerable distance from the hut.
"I couldn't see a thing with that storm earlier," she told him, slightly embarrassed.
Obi-Wan laughed, then waited as she fired up the speeder and drove away. He watched her go, waiting until she was only a speck in the horizon before turning and going back indoors. Once inside he picked up the cups from the table and placed them in the sink, then sat back down at the table in the seat Beru had just vacated. He reached into his robes and brought forth a familiar lightsabre - one he had tried, and failed, to give to Luke just the day before. Owen hadn't allowed it, saying it would only cause trouble and give Luke ideas he didn't need. But Obi-Wan knew it was only a matter of time before Luke answered the call of the Force. He stood up and walked to an old looking chest, lifted the lid and moved a few items to the side to make some space. He took one last look at the lightsabre, then placed it carefully in the chest, covering it with a cloth, unseen but not forgotten.
Original cover by FernWithy. HTML formatting copyright 2003 TheForce.Net LLC.