She felt wrong too, because she wasn’t worn from completing the Trials. The Jedi Council had agreed she should not have to take them, that battling a Sith Lord was enough to make her a Jedi. But she would have endured a thousand Trials if it meant that battle could be undone, and her Master still alive.
If she closed her eyes, could she imagine that he was amoung the figures around her? But no, she would always have known him, and could not hope to believe another was him.
He had promised her he would be here, at this ceremony. When she was still only twelve, and she had watched him knight one padawan who had passed his Trials while Master Yoda had been away. She had expressed a hope that he might be the one to knight her as well, and he had smiled, because back then he had still smiled every once in a while, and said, “I’m afraid Master Yoda is here most of the time these days, but I promise you, I will be there, watching.”
Why had he made that promise? In the best of times there would have been no certainty that he could have lived to keep it, and the Sith had already made more than one appearance, already killed many. She’d known that even then, but she’d willfully forgotten it, as perhaps had he.
She shouldn’t even be knighted now. Her training wasn’t complete. He had told her at the beginning that he would almost certainly keep her for at least a dozen years, and very possibly more, because what he had to teach her would take that long to learn. She would still learn everything; Master Billaba had promised to complete her training, but surely she could not teach Padmé as well as well as their Master could have.
Master Billaba was here; Padmé recognized her Force signature. She too was grieving for her old Master, but he had trained her many years ago, and she had no need for him the way Padmé did. Losing him did not make her afraid.
It was wrong to feel fear now, Padmé knew, but she couldn’t help it. Her life had been a dangerous one since she’d come into the Jedi Temple with it still reeling from the Sith’s first attack, but only once before this had she truly been fearful. When she had been approaching twelve, had been so certain she would not be chosen as an apprentice that there was little room to fear such a likely failure, and then had come the Sith’s second attack, and that had frightened her before she had met her Master, and he had tested her for the most terrifying six months of her life before taking her, and then she had felt she could never be afraid of anything again.
I won’t feel fear, she thought desperately, not at this moment. But when she knelt before Master Yoda, and his lightsaber cut her braid off, without it she felt impossibly naked. The very air around her was menacing. She thought she might faint with her fear.
A gentle whisper in her ears, “Rise, Knight Naberrie. Fear leads to the Dark Side. Resist the Dark Side, you will. Crumble now, you cannot. The hardest part of your life, still to come is.”