Disclaimer: From the first letter to the last word, I don't earn money off of any of it. This is purely a stress reliever.
Author's Note: There is an epilogue to follow.
Anakin T Skywalker: Thank you!
Dawn of Time: Haha, I'm so glad someone caught the use of military time! I'm oddly pleased about that!
pronker: Thanks for reading it! :)
ObiBettina7: No, I think this is the end of this story. I'm pretty satisfied with how it turned out, and I don't want to kill a good thing. I'd have to really get an interesting sort of inspiration to add anything else to this. I've got some other ones in the works, though.
InkSpellWeaver: It is the end, but here's the epilogue!
Mo Angel: I hope the epilogue can clear up some of that.
Lightside: Thank you SO much! :D
jmeec316: I'm glad you liked that part. That bit was something I really wanted to emphasize, since I thought it finally made Anakin understand exactly how Obi-Wan felt and maybe why he did some of the things that he did.
Feedback: Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to review this story. I appreciate it SO much!
With a sigh born of frustration that he doesn't really feel—that is really more for the benefit of his young charge—Obi-Wan turns around. Apparently, he doesn't do so quickly enough to satisfy—the boy is already speaking again.
"Patience, Luke. A Jedi is patient."
Luke heaves a sigh that is far more real than Obi-Wan's was. "Sorry. I know, but—"
Yes, he does know. He has all the knowledge in his head, but putting it into practice is far more difficult. Obi-Wan can't help the small smile that finally makes its way across his lips as he thinks about that. "I know you're eager to see your sister."
At ten, Leia is a bit young for the internship program in the chancellor's office on Coruscant, but even with her lack of years, she is still one of the finest interns that they have. Though, Obi-Wan is hardly surprised when she bests children quite a bit older than she; with Anakin's personality and Padme's patience for politics, she's an entity to be reckoned with.
The internship, however, has taken her away from home for a few months, leaving Luke alone. Obi-Wan will never cease to be amazed at how close the twins are, occasional spats aside.
"It's all right, Luke," he offers kindly, placing a hand on the boy's shoulder as he casts a glance at the other figure walking alongside him. "I assure you, you're a far more patient padawan than your father ever was."
Beside them, Anakin crosses his arms and grumbles, though Obi-Wan suspects the gesture is probably far more for Luke's benefit than it is out of true annoyance. "I was patient—"
"You were many things, Anakin, but you were never patient. You still don't possess that particular gift."
Anakin is reduced to the practice of more muttering. Luke sees that and laughs, strategically turning the noise into a cough when his father shoots him a glare. "Ben's kind of right, Dad," he admits with a shrugged apology.
"I need to find Leia," Anakin mutters, rolling his eyes. "She'll side with me."
"Not likely, Dad. She always sides with Ben."
More muttering, and Obi-Wan doesn't even bother to try and stifle his laugh.
Frowning, though with a glimmer of affection and teasing in his eyes, Anakin counters, "I don't know why you're laughing—Leia is capable of manipulating you completely."
To some degree, that's probably actually true, and Obi-Wan isn't going to deny that to himself. To him, Leia is always going to be the tiny little girl who used to fall asleep when he held her or who demanded his attention in a way that no one else—not even Luke, though he cares for him every bit as much—ever did. They have, and probably always will have, a very special bond. She is, as Anakin like's to say, his little girl, no matter how old she gets.
Of course, Anakin can't talk, either. Actually, Obi-Wan suspects that either of the twins could get him to do just about anything.
"I'm sorry, Anakin, but why did Luke miss his sparring session last week?" he asks with feigned politeness and a smile that he usually reserves for politicians. That is to say, it's a smile that is completely fake.
And Anakin knows it.
Scowling, he shoots Obi-Wan another glare. "It was just one podrace—"
Obi-Wan nods mockingly. "Hmm, yes."
Like he and Leia, Luke and Anakin are very close. That's not to exclude Leia—Anakin loves her very much, but Obi-Wan has discovered that leaving Anakin and his daughter with each other for too long is similar to attempting to force magnets of the same polarity together. It simply doesn't work. Their personalities are too similar, and they clash easily.
Luke has a gentler, less confrontational personality. That's not to say that he doesn't have his moments—he is much like his mother in that respect. He has strengths in spades, and when the need arises, he's unyielding and forceful, but overall he is less abrasive than either Anakin or Leia. His personality is less likely to clash with that of his father's.
"You're making fun of me."
Beside Obi-Wan, Luke snickers. "Yes, I do believe that I am," Obi-Wan says, patting Anakin lightly on the back. "And I'm doing a rather good job of it, too."
"Some days, I think you should go live with Yoda."
"Ah, but then who would train your son?"
Anakin certainly could, and he'd likely do a very good job of it, Obi-Wan is sure. It's Anakin that isn't entirely secure in that knowledge. Even though it's been years since his foray into darkness and subsequent return to the light, he still doesn't trust himself to train someone else. As he put it, there was something in me that made me vulnerable to turning, Obi-Wan—what if I were to pass that on to Luke?
And so, though, Obi-Wan disagrees with Anakin's assessment of himself, he is the one to train Luke.
Really, he's getting too old for this sort of thing.
"Besides that, Dad," someone says from out of their line of sight, "who else would you spar with? No one else but Yoda can beat you anymore."
"Leia!" Luke exclaims excitedly, spinning around to face his sister before launching himself at her in a fierce hug. Leia meets him with open arms, grinning widely. Clearly, the time apart has been hard on them both.
"I'm not sure that's entirely true," Anakin replies as he reaches out to hug his daughter once Luke releases her.
It's not that far from the truth—there aren't many Jedi left who can best Anakin in a duel—but neither is it entirely true. A fairer assessment would be that there really isn't anyone Anakin doesn't have at least a fifty/fifty chance of beating.
He has become, Obi-Wan will admit, that good.
"Hi, Ben!" Leia greets him once she breaks away from Anakin and pushes herself into the circle of Obi-Wan's arms. "I missed you."
He squeezes lightly, realizing how much he's missed having her around. It's good to have her back. "I'm glad you're back, Leia. It's been far too quiet without you."
"Yes, well, she's been a joy to have around the offices," a masculine voice announces from behind them.
Obi-Wan glances back and then smiles when he catches sight of Bail Organa. Where years before there was a wasted man, Bail has now regained his previous physique: he looks healthy, if a little tired. Though, that's to be expected.
The position of Supreme Chancellor is stressful, after all.
Leia smiles and lets go of Obi-Wan. "Thank you, Chancellor."
"You're very welcome." He gives a quick bow to both Obi-Wan and Anakin. "And how are things at the Jedi Temple?"
"Oh, as usual," Obi-Wan answers. Usual, of course, being entirely unusual to most people. Though, a little more normal than it used to be, at least.
Things haven't changed overnight. The Jedi Code is still essentially the same, but ever so slowly, things have begun to ease up. Attachment is still not a sanctioned doctrine, but as long as it doesn't interfere with a Jedi's ability or judgment, the council is content to pretend that it doesn't exist.
It's not an ideal situation, and Obi-Wan would prefer that it was dealt with differently, but it is at least something, and in an order as steeped in tradition as that of the Jedi's, progress will have to come in small increments.
At the very least, the children are allowed to stay with Anakin, who chose an apartment right next to Obi-Wan's in the Jedi Temple. As a result, more often than not, Obi-Wan still has to deal with his former padawan throwing himself down in a chair at his kitchen table, asking what's for dinner… and if it's not Anakin, it's Luke and Leia.
He's not complaining, of course. His life would be far too quiet otherwise.
"We got a new group of younglings," Anakin says conversationally. There's still some measure of hesitancy to his voice as he speaks to Bail. There always is, and truthfully that's understandable. Anakin will never cease to feel guilty in the face of those that he wronged.
That, Obi-Wan is rather inclined to think, is his greatest punishment.
In addition, he will never be promoted to the rank of Jedi Master nor will he ever serve on the Council, despite his considerable skills. That was a decision that what was left of the Jedi Council, along with their newly elected members—all of whom were Jedi who survived the purges—made. Anakin's crimes were numerous, and the fact that he was re-instated into the Order at all was remarkable. Much was forgiven, but it was the collective opinion of the Council that a promotion would dishonor those who had died at his hand.
As the council saw it, there is forgiveness, and then there is accountability.
They will not neglect one at the expense of the other.
"Promising?" Bail asks in regards to Anakin's statement about younglings. There's still a hint of distrust in his eyes, but it's keep well in check. Bail is trying, Obi-Wan knows, but what Anakin did to him is not an easy thing to forgive.
A tiny smile plays at Bail's lips. "Your own youngling is equally promising," he replies, his gaze flickering over towards Leia. There's warmth there, Obi-Wan notes. He seems genuinely fond of her.
There's no mistaking the pride in Anakin's eyes. It's the look of any parent whose child has accomplished something good. "Thank you." Still, he keeps his emotions in check—he's always tries so hard at that now whenever anyone outside of his family is present. "We tend to think she is, too," he adds, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and giving her an affectionate one-armed hug.
"Aww, Daddy," she mutters, pushing him off.
Still, there's no hiding her small, pleased smile.
"Well, if you're ready then, Obi-Wan," Anakin says, still grinning at his daughter, "I think we should head back to the Temple."
"You go—I'll see you later tonight, as I'm assuming for Leia's first night back you're not going to want to eat in the cafeteria?" Anakin's less-than-sheepish grin is answer enough. He appears as though he's trying to look contrite for his lack of culinary skills and his subsequent tendency to take advantage of Obi-Wan's competence in the area, but is failing miserably in the endeavor. "I rather thought so. However, I've been meaning to talk to Bail for a few days. Chancellor? If you wouldn't mind?"
Bail gives him a small nod. "Certainly."
Anakin doesn't question. More often than not, conversations like these are Jedi Council business, which Anakin will never be a part of. Obi-Wan suspects that its easier for him not to ask—and to trust that Obi-Wan will tell him if it's anything else—than it is for him to try to hide how out of place he feels if he's informed that it's indeed something he can't be a part of.
"All right, Master," he says, gesturing for Luke and Leia to follow him.
"Ben, have I got a sparring session tomorrow morning?" Luke asks as he heads after his father.
Obi-Wan's hair is already beginning to streak gray, and by the time Luke is knighted, Obi-Wan suspects it will be entirely silver. At least Luke bothered to ask this time, rather than worry Obi-Wan by not showing up at all. "Yes, Luke. What have I told you about writing these things down?" Force, but that boy can never remember a schedule. In that respect, he is not like Padme, but rather very, very like his father.
"Sorry, Ben!" he calls over his shoulder before running after his father.
And, so, Obi-Wan is left alone with one chuckling Bail Organa. "I'm sorry, Master Kenobi," he apologizes, stifling his chuckle with his hand.
"Sometimes," Obi-Wan admits, cracking a smile, "he is entirely too like his father."
Bail stops trying to hide his good humor. "And you love that. Retirement wouldn't suit you—it would be far too boring. " Still smiling, he finally takes a deep breath; it is, Obi-Wan knows, a signal that he's ready to talk about whatever else it is they need to discuss. "Now, I believe you had something you wanted to speak with me about?"
"Yes." It's not what Bail thinks, nor is it what Anakin thought it was, either. Today Obi-Wan is not on sanctioned council business, and even if this matter does indirectly affect the Jedi Order, it's not an issue that is vital to its well-being.
It does, however, directly affect Bail Organa.
"It concerns one of the new younglings at the Jedi Temple."
Crossing his arms, Bail nods. "How so?"
"One of the new younglings was found in the Outer Rim; an earthquake destroyed his village, and we found him and his infant sister in the destroyed remains of his home. The father was killed previously. His mother was killed when the roof fell—the children somehow managed to avoid being crushed, largely, I believe, due to the Force-sensitivity of the oldest."
"The baby isn't Force-sensitive?" Bail asks.
Obi-Wan shakes his head. "No, which, as I assume you can see, presents something of a problem. A child that isn't sensitive to the Force cannot be raised in the Jedi Temple. We can give the child to an orphanage, but I thought that, if it was in my power, it might be better to place her in a home where she could occasionally see her brother." Before the Jedi Purges, this would have been unthinkable. Obi-Wan knows that Yoda still will not agree, but he's gotten a little more used to the idea that maybe Yoda doesn't need to have a hand in everything. He is old and wise, yes, but that doesn't make him the Force itself. He is not, as the fall of the Jedi showed, always right.
"You have another proposal?" Bail asks, looking interested.
"And I thought that, perhaps, you might want the child."
Surprise registers on Bail's face—a sharp furrowing of his eyebrows, and a flash of shock in his eyes. Still, there's no open rejection, and maybe, under the surprise, a layer of well-controlled curiosity.
Good. That control is good. Obi-Wan wouldn't respect him if he accepted an offer like this without some reserve. Children—and the duties that come with raising them—are not something to be taken lightly.
Obi-Wan would know.
He agreed to his master's dying wish, and twenty-three years later, he's still got that child—who is decidedly not a child anymore—taking up a good deal of time in his life… not that he's complaining. Said child, he's also found, while he was a lot of work, was also rather rewarding.
"You want me to raise this child?"
"Well, your wife, too, of course," he replies with a good-natured quirk of his lips.
"I—Obi-Wan, I don't know what to say…"
"I hope you say yes."
"I—Breha would be pleased, no doubt, but it's a huge responsibility, and—"
"Breha is very good with children. I saw her with Luke and Leia. Truthfully, her way with children was a deciding factor in my decision to ask you if you would take this child."
Swallowing hard, Bail falls silent. The concentration—deep thought—is entirely evident in his face, in the lines of his forehead as they wrinkle when he draws his brows together, and in the tiny narrowing of his eyes. He wants to agree to the proposition that has just been laid before him. Obi-Wan can see that clearly. He wants it, but like the sensible man he is, he will consider every angle first.
But, ultimately, Obi-Wan believes he knows what his decision will be.
After what must be nearly a minutes, Bail shatters the silence with a shaky laugh. "Force, Master Kenobi!" he exclaims, running a hand over his face and through his hair. "How can you just drop this on me?"
The same way Qui-Gon dropped Anakin on him. He has half a mind to point out that at least he's not planning to make it his dying wish. Instead, he merely crosses his arms over his chest and chuckles. "Account it to what I believe to be the will of the Force," he says with a wry smile.
"The Force," he repeats, shaking his head slowly, laughing. Finally, throwing his hands up in the air, he says, "And who am I to deny that?"
"Then you'll take the child?"
"Yes." He looks surprised to even be saying the words. "Yes, I'll take the child."
And, just like that, a large smile blooms over his face. The decision made, his entire demeanor has changed. Where there was uncertainty, there is now excitement and joy, which is exactly what Obi-Wan was hoping for. "What does she look like?" he asks, still laughing quietly to himself as if he can't quite believe what he's just agreed to. "This little girl."
"She's beautiful," Obi-Wan admits. "A tiny head full of dark hair, and these brown eyes that make you believe she knows exactly what you're saying to her, even if you're only talking nonsense."
He arches an eyebrow. "A bit like how Leia was as a baby?"
He shrugs, unable to totally suppress a smile. "A bit."
He can't find it in himself to be offended at Bail's following chuckle. "That's why you've worked so hard to find her a good home, isn't it? She reminds you of your little girl."
"Leia isn't my daughter. She is Anakin's—"
Bail waves him off, rolling his eyes. "So I've heard it said. Oddly, you seem to be the only one saying it."
Truthfully, he has very little to give in reply to that. Even Anakin enthusiastically declares that Obi-Wan has as much right to parental claims as he does. Of course, that's typically when the situation calls for some sort of discipline that Anakin would rather not give… "If you say so."
"I do. And I can truthfully say that I hope this little girl—my daughter," he says slowly, trying the word out on his tongue for the first time, "turns out as well as Leia. Of course, if she's anything like Leia, she'll probably end up leading the Senate. That girl of yours is certainly fiery," he says with a grin. "If the Empire was still intact, she likely would have been the one leading the rebel alliance by the time she was of age!"
Yes. Probably. That would be like Leia.
"Well, your child might not have cause to lead a rebel alliance," Obi-Wan replies with an easy shrug, "but someday she may be instrumental in leading the Republic. With you guiding her, I'm sure she'll someday be very active in the preservation of democracy."
"I think, Master Kenobi, that any chance she gets to do that, she owes quite largely to your efforts. I think this galaxy owes quite a lot to your efforts."
"Don't flatter me, Bail. I played a large part in the downfall of the Republic in the first place."
"That's arguable. What is not arguable is the roll you played in building it back up again… you and Anakin both."
Surprised, Obi-Wan jerks his gaze straight up to meet Bail's. That's not what he expected. Compliments paid to Anakin are few and far between, and when they come, he's inclined to feel thankful on his former padawan's behalf.
Clearly sensing his surprise, Bail holds his gaze, as calm and serious as any Jedi master. "In the end, Obi-Wan," he begins slowly, every word deliberate and clearly chosen, "he did what was right, and, eventually, he'll be remembered for that. Maybe not now, and maybe not for a long time to come, but someday it won't be about what he did wrong anymore—it will be about the end result. It will be about what he eventually did right. What we all did right." His dark eyes glitter with humor as he adds, "After all, the winners get to write history… and in this case, the yesterday's records are going to be penned by that of a free society."
"Yes," Bail agrees, tipping his head back slightly in pride. "A Republic."
Not perfect, still fallible, and sporting problems, but a Republic. Free. It is an opportunity to start over, for him, for Anakin, for Bail, for everyone. And, maybe, as Bail says, they'll be remembered for that—for what they did right.
In the end, they'll be remembered for the new chance they created.
It is a new day, indeed.