Spoilers: Still no new spoilers. :)

Disclaimer: I own the DVDs and the soundtrack...does that count?

A/N: It's hard to believe that this is the last chapter of "Slipping," but I have certainly enjoyed working on it. As many of you already know, there is a sequel. It is called, "Falling From The Light." The plot is this: Sidious was defeated by Anakin, but he left something behind which may not only destroy the Chosen One, but his family as well.

I will start posting it next week. I hope all of you will check it out! :)

Slipping Into Darkness

Chapter 21

Dawn on Coruscant was always a sight to behold, but this morning was simply spectacular. Brilliant shades of gold reached across the horizon, bathing everything in their soft glow. Every street and corridor was awash in color and light, the mirrored surfaces of the buildings reflecting the display, magnifying it. The glimmer of a few stars could still be seen shining through the sunrise, a rare occurrence on the bustling city-planet. It was as though the galaxy itself had chosen to celebrate the event which had taken place: the births of Luke and Leia Skywalker.

Anakin stood, lost in the wondrous scene before him, but it was not the beauty of daybreak which had drawn him in so completely, it was sight of his family. His family. Nothing he had experienced in his time as a Jedi could ever compare to the feeling those two words produced within him.

Padmé lay on her bed in the healing ward, her breathing deep and steady, exhaustion having finally pulled her into a peaceful sleep. Her long brown hair cascaded around her shoulders, the chocolate curls framing her still slightly flushed face. To Anakin's eyes, she seemed radiant, her beauty in this moment infinitely greater than when she had worn the elaborate costume of a Queen or the stately robes of a senator. She was incredible, her outward beauty only surpassed by the beauty of her spirit.

Anakin walked carefully to her side and gently bent to kiss her, using the Force to whisper a soft, I love you. As she stirred under his touch, Anakin quickly soothed her. After a moment, he felt her slip into a restful slumber once again and smiled, then he moved away so as not to disturb her further. His eyes, however, lingered upon her. He took comfort from every breath she took, and he whispered a silent thank you to the Force that the births had gone without complication, the horrible event that began his vision never taking place.

Then, he turned and walked to the cribs which the healers had brought from the crèche. He looked down at both of his children with awe. They were perfect and beautiful, created by love and destined for greatness.

As if sensing him, both of the twins opened their eyes and blinked sleepily, one pair of eyes a deep blue, the other a rich brown. An intense joy rose in Anakin as he carefully reached down to touch his children, to convince himself that this marvelous sight was real. Leia cooed softly, almost as if to assure him that it was. Luke flailed his small arms, then grasped onto his father's finger, both his small hands wrapping quickly around it.

Wonder flooded Anakin as their gazes locked with his own. Gently, he drew on the Force and his vision shifted. Their strong presences, which he had once sensed bound to Padmé, now shown even brighter. Anakin carefully brushed both of their minds and he felt their essences shimmer with recognition. Anakin's smile grew as he felt Luke's grip tighten.

Finally, wishing that this moment would never end, yet realizing that his children needed rest, Anakin called upon the Force once again. He allowed his love to flow through the bond he shared with the twins, then he added to it a most gentle suggestion to sleep. After a moment Luke released his finger and blinked at him, his eyes quickly drifting shut. Leia soon followed her brother, but not before gurgling sleepily at her father.

Anakin continued to watch them, smiling at his two beautiful children for a long moment before he finally stepped back. He didn't leave, choosing to step onto the balcony which adjoined the room so that he could maintain a silent vigil over those loved.

It was quiet now, the only sound that of his family's slumber, and Anakin was grateful for the peace. His mind was a torrent of thoughts, filled with ever-changing images of the many events which had taken place since his meeting with the Jedi Council. In many ways, it seemed unreal. So much of his life had changed in so short a time.

He would never forget the stunned silence that had greeted him as he finished speaking in the Council chambers. He had told them everything, not only relaying the terrible events of his vision and the choices he had made in it, but everything else as well.

He had told them about every instance he could remember in which he had called upon the Dark Side, no matter how minor or trivial it had seemed at the time. He had told them what had taken place when he had found his mother on Tatooine, and he explained the overwhelming rage that had gripped him when she died and the slaughter that had resulted. He had told them how close he had come to falling when he fought Palpatine, and how he had almost been deceived by the Dark Lord. Finally, he had told them about his marriage to Padmé and about the children, soon to be born, who had resulted from that marriage.

Once he was finished, Anakin had risen to his feet and taken his lightsaber from his belt, setting it in the center of the room. He knew that he would always remember every detail of what had followed…

"Masters," he said softly, "when I was still a slave on Tatooine, I dreamed of being a Jedi. I wanted to help people, to have the power to right wrongs. And I still wish to serve as a Jedi, though I know I have done many things which make me unworthy of that title. I have broken the Code and been tempted by the Dark Side. But I do not want to relinquish my place in the Order. I want the chance to make up for what I did…and what I was going to do. I want to remain a Jedi. However, you must know that I will not leave Padmé. She is my wife. I love her with all my heart and I always will. So, I turn the decision over to you. You may choose to allow me to remain, accepting my marriage and family, or you may choose to expel me for what I have done. Whatever decision you make, I will abide by it. I will not question or fight it. I trust your judgment, Masters."

With that, Anakin bowed deeply and left the Council to decide his fate. He had expected the hours that followed to be filled with worry and anxiety, but that had not been the case. Rather, he had felt almost free, as though a great burden had been lifted from his shoulders. He knew then, that no matter what awaited him, he would accept it and he would be happy.

Finally, his waiting ended and he was called before the Council once again. When Anakin stepped into the chamber, he prepared himself for expulsion, prepared to walk away from the Temple forever, if that was what they ordered. Instead, it seemed that the Force had other plans for its Chosen One.

"Anakin," Master Yoda began, "come forward, you will." Anakin obeyed the command, and knelt in front of the ancient Jedi. "Considered your words carefully we have, and examined your spirit. Sense, we can, that wish to hide anything from us now, you do not."

Anakin nodded, yet remained silent.

"But hidden much in the past, have you. Deceived this Council and your Master. Broke the Code by marrying in secret did you. Admitted, you have, that tempted by the Dark Side you are."

With this Anakin bowed his head, waiting to hear the words which would banish him from the Order forever.

After a another pause, Yoda continued. "But know this as well, do we: saved us all, you have."

Anakin felt a surge of surprise rush through him, and he immediately raised his head.

"Masters?" he questioned.

"You will remain a Jedi, Anakin," Mace Windu said, speaking for the first time. "We understand what you have done, and we understand that you have struggled. But what speaks to us more clearly than your words are your actions. By coming before us, you have demonstrated that we can trust your judgment. You have learned and grown from your experiences, and you have driven the darkness back, both in the Force and in yourself."

Anakin was too stunned to form an answer, instead he looked to Obi-Wan for a confirmation of what Master Windu had said. In response, Obi-Wan simply smiled at his former Padawan, his blue eyes sparkling.

"In light of what you have done for the Order, and the wisdom you have shown, we grant to you the rank of Jedi Master. And," Mace Windu continued, "we offer you a seat on this Council, if you will accept it."

Anakin felt so overwhelmed, that for several moments he couldn't speak.

Finally, he asked softly, "What about my family?"

"Ask you to abandon your wife and your children, would we not," Yoda said firmly. "Against the Code your marriage was, but allow it we will, because sacrificed so much have you already." Yoda's tone softened as he added, "Ask we do, that allow us to test your children, you will, once they are born. Great potential, I sense they will have."

Once he finished speaking, the ancient Master withdrew Anakin's lightsaber from the folds of his robe and held it out to him. "Left this with us, you did, when here last were you. Belong to you it does."

Anakin stepped forward and accepted the blade, the ultimate symbol of a Jedi.

Words escaped him as he humbly considered the future. Then, lifting his head and turning to gaze at each Master before him, Anakin spoke.

"I am honored, Masters. I accept."

Those words still brought a smile to Anakin's face, and the expression only grew as he considered the many other events which had taken place.

The war was over. With Grievous and Dooku dead, the Separatists had no one to lead them. Nute Gunray had tried to assume the position, but he was not a military commander as those before him had been, and with Sidious gone as well, he had lost a great deal of his influence. Combined with their losses at Kashyyyk and Utapau, the strain had proven too much, and the Confederacy had begun negotiating surrender with the Republic.

After weeks of debate, the Senate had finally appointed a new Supreme Chancellor, one who lacked the executive powers that Palpatine had so carefully gathered. Anakin was certain that the newly elected Chancellor Organa would serve the Republic well. He was a skilled negotiator, and he would work hard to repair the rifts that the war had caused in the galaxy.

It would take time to rebuild the worlds which had been devastated, but the soon-to-be-decommissioned clone army would serve as a police force to aid in the reconstruction. Order 66 had been deactivated, and the Jedi could once again work beside the clones.

There would be peace. It would not come immediately, or without struggle, but it would come. Of this, Anakin was certain. For surely, if a Jedi with such a troubled heart could find peace, then a troubled galaxy could as well.

With that, Jedi Master Anakin Skywalker turned from the balcony and moved back inside to watch over his family, his heart filled with hope and expectation for the future which awaited them.

The End

A/N: If you're interested, I hope you will all check out the sequel, "Falling From the Light." :) Thank you so much for reading!


Author's note 4/10/2016:

It's hard for me to believe, but I was 17 when I wrote this story over ten years ago. At the time, it was simply a fun project I wanted to complete. But it turned out to be the first of many stories because I haven't stopped writing since. In fact, it was "Slipping Into Darkness," that really inspired me with a love for writing, and so, clichéd as it may sound, it's always had a special place in my heart. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that it would reach over 400 reviews, or that, to this day, it would still be the most-reviewed, most-favorited story I've written.

It was also, just recently, nominated for the Fanatic Fanfics Multifandom Awards for the "All-Time Favorite Star Wars Fanfic." My jaw dropped when I read that PM. I don't know if it will win, but even just the nomination means quite a lot. (Of course, if you'd like to go vote, I wouldn't at all object, lol. ;) ) Seriously, though, to whoever nominated this story, thank you!

Voting runs from April 11, 2016, to May 2, 2016. You can cast your vote at awards - dot - fanatic fanfics - dot - c o m (forward slash) index - dot - p h p (forward slash) vote (just take out the spaces and replace the words with the right mark-ups, dots, etc.)

Your vote would be incredibly appreciated!

With the vote coming up, I decided to go back and do something that I had been wanting to do for a while. I went back through this story and edited it, altering a few sentences and correcting some typos and grammar issues. I was careful not to change the tone of the story, so it is, Lord willing, exactly the story you remember if you've read it before, it's just a slightly smoother read. :) I hope that you enjoyed this slightly revised version, and thank you so much for reading and reviewing!

Take care and God bless!

Ani-maniac494 :)