"Ben, I've got something to tell you." Luke blurted suddenly on the walk back to our quarters. He fairly radiated guilt. It didn't take any great insight to guess what he was going to say. I braced myself to take it calmly. "I've decided to accept a commission in the Rebel
Forces. So I won't be able to continue my lessons in the Force."
"You must chose the path that feels right to you," I answered. Ihad complete control over my face and voice - but I
couldn't fool Luke that easily, not after all those hours of rapport during the battle.
He saw right through me. "Ben, this is something I can do now," he pleaded. "The Alliance
It needs Jedi too. I thought but did not say. Struggling to get my emotions under control I said instead; "I admit I'm disappointed, Luke, you have the potential to be a great Jedi. But the Path must be freely chosen. If you've decided on another way I accept that." But it wasn't easy.
"I'm sorry, Ben," he said miserably.
I got myself in hand. This wasn't Luke's fault it was mine. "You must do what you feel is right." I said firmly.
"It's my fault." I told Ani sounding every bit as miserable and guilty as my erstwhile student. "If I hadn't delayed his training he wouldn't have had to chose between the Alliance and the Jedi."
A muffled voice came from under the V-wing. "Poodoo!"
I blinked. "I beg your pardon?"
Anakin slid out and sat up to give me a level look "Poodoo!" he repeated clearly. "I know you, Obi-Wan, I know how determined you are. If you'd felt Luke was ready to be trained you wouldn't have let Owen or anything else stop you."
I opened my mouth to answer but words failed me. I was suddenly uncertain of my own motives. I'd put off Luke's training in deference to Owen's feelings - hadn't I?
"Luke's led a sheltered life," Ani continued, "he's been overprotected. I'm not blaming Owen and Beru for that but he's very young for his age. He needs to grow up a bit before he can choose the Path. You sensed that and held off."
I sat down on a nearby crate to consider. Could Ani be right? Force knew I'd been reckless enough in my time. Why had I contented myself with watching over Luke from afar? Had it been caution - or an instinct I hadn't fully recognized? "He's already old for the training." I argued weakly.
"Way too old." Anakin agreed. "So a few more years won't make much difference."
"A few years?"
He smiled at the hopeful note in my voice. "At most. He will chose the Path, Obi-Wan. It is the destiny he was born for. He will come to it in his own time."
I breathed, letting guilt and uncertainty drain away. I would be patient and trust in the Force. I smiled at Anakin, he had indeed grown. "Whatever you say, Master."
Ken-Jin Kenobi: I admit I was pleased when Master told me Luke had
decided to accept the commission Dodonna'd offered him. Nothing against
the kid but he'd already taken up enough of my father's time - twenty
years of it. I wanted a chance to get to know Obi-Wan Kenobi as a man
instead of a legend. And I didn't want to have to compete with a Padawan
for his attention!
But I wasn't jealous of Luke anymore. Not since the battle. Forced
to choose between us Father's first though had been for me. Maybe it was
un-Jedilike to be glad I counted for more than his duty - but I didn't
care, it had made me very happy.
It didn't occur to me until much later that I was right between Luke
and Master Anakin, exactly as I'd feared Luke might come between me and
The moment the transport landed Ani was striding across the hanger deck towards it. Luke stayed by me, visibly jittering. His mother had arrived. She came down the ramp and disappeared for a moment into Anakin's embrace but quickly broke loose, almost running across the deck to her son. Ani could barely keep pace with her - the rest of her party didn't even try.
"Luke!" she reached us and put her small hands on her boy's shoulders and looking up at him with tears in those beautiful eyes and a smile on that lovely face. "Oh, my baby son - all grown up and handsome as his father!" Standing on tiptoe she kissed his cheek.
"Mother." Luke returned the kiss awkwardly but with none of the reserve he still showed towards his father. Obviously he was finding his dainty little mother far less intimidating.
Luke Skywalker: Father had called her the most
beautiful girl in the universe. She wasn't a girl
anymore, but she surely was beautiful - and familiar
somehow. I could almost fool myself into thinking I
remembered her from when I was baby.
Padme managed to tear her eyes away from her son long enough to smile at me. "Obi-Wan, thank you."
"You are more than welcome." I returned, with a smile of my own.
By now the rest of the party had caught up with her. "That Obi-One? Yousa gotten old!"
Jar Jar Binks, master of tact.
"As have you, my friend" I replied pointedly.
"Old, old." he agreed, eyes widening guilessly. "Meesa got grandchildren!"
Now there was a thought. When I first met Jar Jar Binks he was a clumsy adolescent no self respecting Gungan female would look at twice. And I'd been a stiff, arrogant young Jedi with a pitifully narrow focus. How Master put up with me I'll never know. We'd both changed - for the better I hoped. Jar Jar was as gawkily thin as ever though his orange pigmented skin was beginning to fade in patches - a Gungan sign of age. The long coat he wore covered most of his scars - all but the one ragged ear. I smiled up at him. "It's good to see you again, old friend."
"Good to see Obi-One too." I was half smothered by a Gungan embrace, then he released me and turned his attention to Luke. "Yousa gotten big!" he rolled an eye back at Anakin. "But not as big as Ani!"
"Thank goodness." Padme chimed in adding to her son. "When I first met your father he was so tall - " she held a hand a meter or so above the deck. " - The next time I see him, he's - that!" and waved up at her towering husband.
"It was ten years later!" he protested. "I grew up."
"And up and up." Rabe teased, throwing me a wink. Eirte, beside her, grinned wickedly.
"There's nothing wrong with being tall," Ani huffed.
"As long as you stay out of waste pipes." I said, joining the fun.
He rolled his eyes. "You are never going to let me forget that are you, Obi-Wan?"
"Never." I assured him.
Leia and Han joined us at the hanger door. Padme hugged her daughter. "Oh, Leia, I'm so sorry!" she said into the coil of hair over one ear.
The princess blinked back tears, struggling to keep her composure. "I know. Let's not talk about it now, please."
There would be a later, Padme would see to that. Leia was determined to keep up a brave face for Luke and Han and her father and me but she'd be able to let go and cry with her mother for all she'd lost. Right now she pulled away from the maternal embrace and continued with slightly forced brightness. "You're just in time for the decoration ceremony."
"Decorations?" Padme queried.
"I'm awarding the Gold of Valor to Luke and Captain Solo - for their part in the destruction of the Death Star."
"I'm Solo." Han put in and took the hand Padme offered him. "Pleased to meet you, ma'am."
She smiled brilliantly up at him. "And I to meet you, Captain. I'm told I owe you my son's life. Thank you."
Han was clearly dazzled. "It was my pleasure."
Han Solo: Old enough to be my mother as well as the
kid's but still one of the most beautiful women I'd
ever seen. Skywalker had great taste - not to mention
luck. And the lady had class as well as looks. I hoped
her Royal Heightyness was taking notes..
"What about Ben?" Luke protested. "We'd never have gotten off the Death Star if it weren't for him."
"Jedi never accept decorations or honors." I told him.
"One of the advantages to being a Jedi." Ani put in.
Han snorted. "Guess it's way to late for me to join."
I looked at him consideringly. He was certainly old for the training with a lifetime of habits and attitudes to unlearn, but the Force was strong with him - I wondered what his midichlorion count might be - maybe...
He registered alarm. "Hey, General, that was a joke."
"I know." I said, in my best impenetrable manner. He was not reassured.
I looked at the middle aged man across the tactical display mentally subtracted twenty years and smiled recognition. "Carlist Rieekan, it's good to see you again." He took my hand visibly struggling against strong emotion. Like everybody else who'd known the old Obi-Wan he was finding the present incarnation distressing. "You're with our reinforcements, Colonel?" I asked, reading his rank patch.
Rebel units had been pouring in over the last few days. We knew we'd have to abandon Yavin base soon but Anakin and Dodonna were determined not to move without a good fighter cover, and we'd lost all but three pilots to the Death Star.
Rieekan shook his head. "I've brought what's left of the White Legion to join her Royal Highness."
Of course. Carlist was an old Legionnaire, he'd served with me during the Clone Wars. Many Alderaanian veterans had chosen to settle on other planets of the system or outlying colonies. Survivors had been coming in along with the reinforcements, rallying to their Princess.
"We thought you were dead." It wasn't an accusation - quite.
"I know. I'm sorry. It was safer that way."
Rieekan shook his head. "You look like hell, where've you been all these years?"
His eyes widened. "General Skywalker's homeworld? That was a heck of a place to hide."
"It was perfect." I corrected. "Out of the way, not under direct Imperial control," I smiled, "and so obvious Palpatine would never think to look there."
He grinned faintly in response. "Like Kettlebray."
"Exactly." I'd quartered my landing force in a ruined fortress, destroyed by the Mandalore when they'd taken the planet. As I'd expected it was the one place they'd never searched.
Carlist still hadn't let go of my hand. "The men would like to see you."
"And I them." I said as warmly as I could.
To be honest I wasn't all that eager. For reasons never completely clear to me the Legionnaires had developed a fierce personal loyalty
for their general which I'd often found very difficult to cope with. It was almost as bad as I'd feared. Rieekan's dismay and distress
magnified a thousand times over. Admittedly I've aged but surely I don't look all that bad - do I? I kept my countenance somehow and the emotional atmosphere eased as I began to talk one on one with the men, remembering faces and names, being introduced to sons and nephews.
Then the door to the big assembly room opened. It was Leia, looking astonishingly like her mother in an all white uniform with her hair braided and coiled around her head. The likeness was reinforced by the presence of Rabe and Eirte a half pace behind on either side of her. The men cheered her and Leia took it like a queen, bowing acknowledgement then holding out her hands to Rieekan with a smile that got a second cheer all its own. I faded gratefully into the background, watching like a proud grandfather as Leia welcomed her Legion and made the necessary arrangements for quarters and rations. Every inch her mother's daughter, and her father's too. Then I followed the three women back out into the corridor.
"Was I all right?" Leia asked Rabe the moment the door had closed behind us.
"Perfect," she answered with a hug.
"Your father and mother would be proud of you," Eirte added with a kiss.
All four of them. "You give your people hope, Leia," I told her gently, "and purpose. A reason to go on living."
She pulled away from Rabe to wipe her eyes. "Thank you, General, they're doing the same for me." Then she gave us all a determined smile and marched off down the passage.
"Amidala's girl through and through." I said.
Eirte nodded. "She'll be all right as long as she's got a job of work to do."
"Poor little girl." from Rabe.
"Don't let her hear you say that." I warned. Then I made the mistake of adding; "The Legion was almost in tears at the sight of me just now. Do I look that terrible?" which got me a prolonged scrutiny from the brown and blue eyes of my late wife's best friends. I was seriously regreting the question when Eirte smiled.
"Not bad at all - for an old man."
I returned the smile. "I am an old man."
"And we're a pair of old women." Rabe sighed taking one arm as Eirte took the other.
We strolled. "I can't say I've noticed much change." I said blandly. "As lovely as ever the both of you."
I was answered by delighted if disbelieving snorts. "You always were a flatterer Obi-Wan Kenobi."
"A Jedi speaks only the truth." I assured them solemnly and was pierced by a pair of skeptical looks. "Unless an untruth is absolutely necessary - for tactical reasons." I conceded.
"You were always very good at thinking up 'tactical reasons', Obi-Wan." said Rabe. "Sabe used to say -" she broke off abruptly in some confusion.
"It's all right to speak of her." I said quietly. "In fact I hope you have, often, to Ken-jin."
"You didn't seem to want to hear her name when you left." Eirte reminded me.
"That was twenty years ago. I didn't dare think about her then, there was too much that had to be done." I smiled reassuringly at Rabe. "It's good to hear her name again, from somebody else who loved her."
"We've told Ken-jin everything we can remember about his mother," she assured me seriously, "from the day the three of us entered Princess Amidala's service."
Eirte snickered. "Well not quite everything!"
Rabe grinned wickedly. "Right. There are a few stories Sabe wouldn't want her son to hear."
"Such as?" I asked, intrigued.
More snickers from both of them. "She wouldn't want you to hear them either!" said Eirte.
I was still speculating over what my sweet wife could possibly have done in her short life that she wouldn't want me or our son to know about as I entered the room I was sharing with Luke. The possibilities were legion.
I found my erstwhile student inside, staring dreamily into the distance. "Leia's my sister," were the first words out of his mouth. So they'd decided to tell him. "We're twins. Mother and Father split us up for safety. She even looks like Gran, but like Mother too. You know the minute I saw her holograph I knew we were connected somehow, that I had to find her - help her."
I sat down. Obviously no response was required, just a listening ear.
"We've decided not to say anything to Leia just yet." Luke continued earnestly. "I've always been a Skywalker but she'd lose her name and her title and that's about all she's got left now."
"And the Alderaanians need their princess," I pointed out.
"That too. The time isn't right. We'll know when it is, the Force will tell us."
Us. I silently congratulated Padme on a diplomatic coup equal to any she'd brought off for the Alliance. In a few short hours she'd turned her husband and long lost son into a family. It had been clever to take Luke into their confidence about his sister and
include him in the decision of what to tell Leia. I agreed with them of course. This was not the time to confuse the poor girl with a whole new family before she'd had a chance to properly mourn the old one. But Leia was as strong in the Force as her brother. Given time she might well intuit the truth for herself - when she was ready to face it.
"If you'll step over here please, General Kenobi, General Skywalker, - yes that's right, next to Jedi Kenobi." Willard hurried off to position the rest of the official party on the dais at the far end of the soaring hall at the top of the defunct pyramid temple in which the decorations ceremony was to be held.
Leia took her place at the center, dressed in a smooth white gown with a silver necklace and her hair coiled into a high crown atop her head. Padme stood at her daughter's left hand with Rabe and Eirte behind them, all three of the older women in soft green with lace veils shadowing their faces. Jar Jar, Dodonna and several other general officers were grouped at the far left. We three Jedi were on Leia's right with Artoo Deetoo and Threepio standing among the lesser officers behind us. Willard stepped back to view the final effect,
nodded satisfied and signaled for the doors to be opened.
The pilots and crews of the new fighter squadrons, the White Legion, Alderaanian Royal Guard, technicians and support troops marched through the massive portal, down the steps and up the long hall to salute the Princess then fall into ranks on either side of a central aisle. There was a long pause before the doors opened again, this time to admit three figures; small with distance. Luke, Han
"Are you serious about training Solo as a Jedi?" Ani asked softly as they began the long walk to the dais.
"I don't know yet. Perhaps." Han had a destiny, I'd known that the minute I'd met him. But whether it included becoming a Jedi was not yet clear.
Anakin shook his head. "Talk about starting late!"
"I think perhaps we've been a little too dogmatic on that point." I responded.
He gave me a startled look. The Obi-Wan Kenobi he remembered hadn't been in the habit of questioning tradition.
The boys climbed the steps of the dais to stand before the Princess. Behind them the troops pivoted to face front. Leia looked down at them, haughtily regal. Luke grinned up at his sister and she broke down grinning back. She took the medals Padme handed her, hung one around Han's neck and the other around Luke's. I could swear I saw Solo wink at her. Luke gave his mother a smile, with another for his father and me that turned into a laugh as Artoo emitted a shrill, excited whistle. Leia gestured for them to face the hall and the troops broke into applause.
Suddenly Qui-Gon was beside me, translucent, softly glowing, beaming his approval. Padme turned to share a proud smile with her husband and her eyes widened. I realized she'd seen our Master too. After a split second's shock the smile came back, even more brilliantly than before, meant for us all. I couldn't see her but I knew Sabe was watching too, and Yani, and Sache, and Bail, and Owen and Beru, and all the others who had died to make this moment possible.
This wasn't the end but it was a beginning for many things.