Anakin has few fond memories of childhood. He started working for Watto when he was five, and though his mother gave him all she could, there were many things he missed.
He never realises how many until he has children of his own.
Padmé has been in the kitchen all morning and by noon, the smell of honey cakes is so intoxicating that Anakin, in the hanger, can't stand it any longer.
"You know they aren't going to be able to eat all this," he says, gesturing to the mound of cakes on the table. There are still more cooking. "They won't even remember it."
At the counter, Padmé rolls her eyes. "Of course they won't, but we will. It's a momentous occasion."
Anakin frowns, trying to remember his first birthday. He's too young to remember the celebration himself, but his mother never told him about it. Beyond the fact that he live on, there was never any proof it happened. He's never cared before, but watching his wife now as she prepares the feast for their children's first birthday, he feels cheated.
"Maybe you're right," he says, taking a honey cake from the pile and sampling it. It melts in his mouth. "It's important. And these are delicious."
Padmé's is laughing even as she throws her spoon at him.
The beauty of having children, Anakin quickly realises, is the ability to relive the joys of childhood—or in his case, experience them. Padmé teases him sometimes, saying he's worse than either of them, but she secretly enjoys it too.
He knows he's never been happier.
"And just when I thought the droid army was going to kill us for sure, your uncle Obi-Wan finally arrived with the clone troopers and we won."
"Again! Again!" Luke hollers as he finishes.
Beside him, Leia wrinkles her nose. "Not the same one, Luke. Tell us another one, Daddy. A new one."
Luke glares at her. "I want to hear that one again!"
Anakin smiles. Story time is his favourite part of the bedtime routine, but also the most difficult. "Why don't we save them for tomorrow. You wouldn't want to run out of stories, would you?"
Luke looks horrified at the thought, but Leia flashes him a disbelieving look that makes her look eerily like her mother.
"You can't run out of stories," she says matter-of-factly.
Anakin chuckles. "Says who?"
"Mummy. She says you can always make them up."
"Well, maybe you should get Mummy to tell you a story tomorrow," Anakin says, spying his wife hovering in the doorway. He winks and she sticks her tongue out at him.
Parenthood isn't helping either if them to mature.
Luke starts showing a genuine interest in tinkering shortly after his fourth birthday. Leia has absolutely no interest in Daddy's workstation—it's "too dirty"—but Luke spends all his free time there, watching Anakin and Artoo fixing vaporators or building speeder bikes.
Anakin remembers starting to tinker with things in the back of Watto's shop at a similar age, only his son never has to worry about getting beaten if he's caught.
He starts telling Luke about his podracing days, much to Padmé's chagrin. It's not nearly as popular a sport now as it was when he was young, but Luke talks of nothing but getting his own pod for weeks after.
When he asks for one for his fifth birthday, Padmé says no. Anakin suggests they build a speeder bike together instead.
They end up levitating tools and examining the construction of Anakin's lightsaber, and by the end of the evening, Luke has abandoned all thoughts of racing in favour of becoming the galaxy's greatest Jedi.
"Now you remember to be good to your father while I'm gone," Padmé says firmly.
"Yes, Mum." Leia pauses long enough to smile at her mother.
Padmé is travelling to Alderaan to meet with Bail Organa and several of her former colleagues to discuss future action against the Empire. Anakin refuses to leave the children in someone else's care for three days, so Obi-Wan is travelling with her. She is attempting to say goodbye and lay down the ground rules in her absence—Anakin is no better than the twins—but the three of them are much too engrossed in their game of Sith vs. Jedi to pay any attention.
"And you be good too, Ani," she warns. "I don't want to come home to a disaster."
Her husband, currently trying to escape the scarves tying him to a chair, nods absently. "You won't."
She sighs, knowing a lost cause when she sees one. "All right then. I love you."
"Love you!" Leia calls sweetly, swinging the practice saber threateningly at her father as if to prevent his escape.
"Love you more!" Luke yells, popping up from behind the couch, saber at the ready.
"No you don't!" his sister retorts.
"Do too —! Leia! He's getting away!"
Free from his bonds, Anakin slips over to kiss Padmé quickly. They've done it a hundred times, and yet there are still as many butterflies in her stomach as the first time. "I'd give you a proper goodbye, but I'm on the run," he whispers, kissing her swiftly again. "Be safe."
He sneaks a third kiss before the twins descend, howling and waving sabers over their heads, and he has to flee.
Padmé laughs. Her children are a handful.
And her husband is the biggest child of them all.