Author's notes (longer this time): I'm so sorry for taking like forever to upload the last chapter of this story, I was kind of busy lately. So, yes, this story is over now, after 32 chapters and more than half a year. What am I going to do with my time now? :P
A tremendous THANK YOU to all my loyal readers, especially those who reviewed, those 149 who have placed this story on their alerts list, and those 93 who added it to their favourites. Guys, you really rock!!
And last but not least a special thank you to Miss Fenway, Padawan13, lionesseyes 13, Geri K, EwanLuvr4Ever, artemiswolfboy, general-joseph-dickson, yellow 14 and Torli for sticking with me from the beginning to the end. Really, you guys are great inspiration :)
Obi-Wan had little time to appreciate the unobtrusive elegance of the house, portraying the typical alderaanian taste. Anakin and Padme, who'd somehow managed to snag both babies from whoever had been holding them, ushered him into a small room with an elegant blue couch and a window to the garden, leaving the rest of the group in the large living-room with the fire-place.
Anakin took one of the babies from Padme, holding it out to Obi-Wan.
"This is Luke," he said, his eyes brightening with the pride of a father.
Obi-Wan accepted the boy and settled him in the crook of his arm, smiling down at him gently. Luke already had small tufts of very blond hair, and Obi-Wan couldn't help but notice that his eyes were of exactly the same bright blue color as his father's.
Cooing softly, he tickled Luke's stomach, enticing a giggle from him, and making him squirm and reach with his little hands for his big one.
When their fingers met, a prickling sensation went down his arm and -
He lay in a bed, which seemed to be in a med-ward, white sheets blending into white bandages on his torso and arms. He looked older, more lines on his face, both of age, wisdom and pain, hair and beard now streaked with gray. On a chair next to the bed a young Padawan, his braid only dangling to his shoulder, sat, his strikingly blue eyes worried, an unruly mob of blond hair falling to his eyes – Luke.
"Master, why is father so upset? He hasn't been talking to anyone for days," Luke asked, frowning, the worry in his eyes intensifying.
The older version of him sighed. "Anakin feels guilty that he didn't prevent me from getting hurt."
"Getting hurt?!" Luke asked incredulously. "You nearly died!"
Obi-Wan shrugged minutely. "The point is that Anakin thinks it's his fault."
"But that's stupid! He couldn't have done anything!"
He smiled wryly. "Try telling him that. Anakin has been known to do some stupid things now and then..."
But Luke's mouth was set determinedly. "I'm going to tell him he's behaving irrationally."
"Believe me, I have been trying that for years and it has yet to show any signs of success," Obi-Wan said tiredly. "He's just too stubborn for his own good."
Luke chuckled. "And you aren't?"
Obi-Wan looked positively innocent. "Who me?"
Luke's clear laughter sang through the air.
Obi-Wan staggered backwards, letting go of Luke's hand – and found himself face to face with a worried Anakin, who looked on the verge of snatching Luke from his arms. Obi-Wan gave him the baby shakily.
"Obi-Wan, are you alright?" he asked, alarm slowly fading, scrutinizing him closely.
"Yes, yes, I'm okay. It's just not every day a baby dumps a vision on your head..." he assured him, getting back his bearings. He looked at Luke, whom Anakin had given to Padme, in whose arms he now cooed contentedly. "He had enormous potential, you know. His powers are as great as yours, Anakin."
Obi-Wan's eyes were serious when he added, "Or greater."
Anakin sighed. "I know. And I can't decide whether the Force has gifted or burdened him with that...What did you see in your vision?"
For a long moment Obi-Wan didn't answer. "He was my apprentice." His lips tilted wryly. "And there I thought I had earned a lifelong sabbatical from training Skywalkers."
Anakin snorted. "You wish! I will tell Luke and Leia to get kids of their own quickly."
"Hmpf. Do you really want an eighty-year-old fossil to train your grandchildren?" Obi-Wan asked challengingly, crossing his arms.
"Well, at least then I would know said fossil was good at survival..."
Obi-Wan sighed. Sometimes Anakin's – non-existing – sense of humor could really get on his nerves. "Funny, Anakin."
Seeing Anakin's dangerously bright smile, Padme cleared her throat pointedly, before they could go off on another round of bickering, and took matters in her own hands.
"And this is Leia," she said, stepping forward. Obi-Wan held the baby in his arm a bit cautiously, but no second vision assaulted him so he concentrated on the little girl snuggled in his arms. Lively, inquisitive, chocolate brown eyes stared back at him without any trace of caution of that new man in front of her. Unlike her brother, the stubble on her head was a very dark brown, nearly black – all facts pointed to her growing up to be the spitting image of Padme- He would have wagered this little one would be a heart-breaker when she was older as well.
Suddenly Leia reached out with one pudgy hand, grabbing at his beard.
"Ow! I'm not a teddy bear young one!" he protested, nevertheless gently disentangling her hand from his precious facial hair.
While he was busy with Leia's right hand, her left hand attempted a surprise attack.
"Hey" Stop pulling my beard!" Obi-Wan scolded, trying somewhat successfully to brush both her hands off with only one, since he needed the other to hold her.
She giggled delightedly, as he grimaced, ignoring the amusement he felt coming from her very unhelpful parents.
"Here Padme, please take her back, she definitely has the Skywalker spirit. And the Skywalker tendency to annoy me."
Trying rather futile to hide her smile, Padme took her obstinate daughter back, and, planting a kiss on Anakin's cheek, and taking her son from him, left the room.
After a few minutes of silence Obi-Wan finally plopped down on the couch in the corner, stating, "They will be quite the handful when they grow up, I wager. One should pity the galaxy...two new Skywalkers on the loose, not to mention you."
Anakin grinned. "I'll take that as a compliment, Obi-Wan."
Then his smile vanished, a more serious expression taking it's place. "Actually there was something we – I – wanted to ask you. Would...would you agree to be their godfather?"
Obi-Wan stared at him as if he'd just proclaimed his undying love for a Hutt. Before he could muster enough wits to say something, however, Anakin hastily continued, looking anxious, "Of course I understand if you don't want to..."
Obi-Wan found his speech again. "No, no, no! I'm honored that you ask me, but...me? Are you sure?"
Anakin visibly relaxed. "Yes, I am sure. I wanted to ask you since Padme told me she was pregnant."
"And is she alright with this?"
"Of course! She thought the idea was great."
"Then I gladly accept," Obi-Wan said, deeply touched that they both wanted him to fill that role in the twins' life, a bright smile of joy blossoming on his face, making his eyes shine. "Thank you, Anakin."
"No, thank you, Obi-Wan," Anakin insisted, returning the smile with an equally brilliant one of his own.
He hesitated for a moment, then Obi-Wan said, "In fact I wanted to talk with you about a similar topic. I...well I thought about adopting Han. What do you think?"
Anakin grinned. "I knew it was something like this, you two really got attached to each other." More serious, he continued, "It's a great idea, Obi-Wan. Han needs someone who is really family – and you're the closest to being that anyway. Just ask him."
"Of course I was going to ask him first! I just wanted your opinion beforehand," Obi-Wan grumbled, slightly miffed.
"What about Mara?"
The Jedi Master sighed, looking out of the window for a moment, stroking his beard absent-mindedly. "Mara is more difficult. She is not old enough to decide for herself..."
"Why don't you just adopt her as well?" Anakin asked, looking at him curiously.
"I could, of course, but somehow I have the feeling Han and Mara together would make a mess of things. Actually I was thinking about asking Bail. You know he and Breha always wanted to have children," Obi-Wan replied thoughtfully.
Anakin snorted. "If you can get Mara to accept that. Already she is quite fond of her 'daddy', I believe, and she won't let you go that easily. Besides can you really imagine her as the princess of Alderaan?"
Obi-Wan winced slightly at the though of the rebellious four-year-old in a dress and having to behave nearly all the time. Maybe that really wasn't such a good idea.
"You have a point...but two extremely stubborn adopted kids?" Obi-Wan groaned half-heartedly. "I don't know what I'm getting myself into!...But I'll think about it."
Anakin's teasing grin was positively devilish. "It will do you good, Master. They will keep you on your toes when I'm not around."
"To think that I had hoped for quiet retirement after training you..." Obi-Wan sighed dryly.
"Look at the bright side of it: at least you don't have to look after Skywalker twins."
"Did one of them ever punch you in the face?" Obi-Wan only asked, raising a brow.
"I thought so. Besides you'll probably call me over to babysit often enough anyway."
Anakin was silent for a moment. Then:
"How did you figure out my evil master plan?"
Obi-Wan raised his hand to cover his grin. "You are that predictable, my dear ex-Padawan. Now shall we go and rejoin the others?"
Han was lounging on the couch with Chewie – he had soon decided Chewbacca was too much of a mouthful – who looked decidedly out of place in the expensive surroundings, deeply in talk about different types of space-ships and their advantages and disadvantages, when he noticed Ben approaching.
"Han? Would you mind walking with me for a bit?" he asked, throwing Chewie an apologetic smile, who wuffed his approval.
"Sure," he agreed easily, rising and following him out of the room.
Ben was silent until they had left the house, and Han didn't push him though he was, admittedly, quite curious what he wanted to talk about.
Finally, as they were strolling down a garden path following a little stream, Ben spoke.
"Han, now that the Emperor is dead and order is being restored, there is the chance for all of us to settle down a bit more."
His eyes met Han's and his voice wasn't as calm and sure as Han was used to it being, when he continued, "I was thinking about adopting you."
Han stopped dead in his tracks, a whirlwind of emotions rising in him. Ben wanted to adopt him? Him? A street boy from Corellia? Surprise and shock warred with joy and happiness and he couldn't quite quench the tiny seed of doubt. Did Ben really want to do this?
Obi-Wan knelt down in front of him, gently lying his hands on his shoulders, looking deep into his eyes, expression utterly serious.
"Yes, Han, I really want to adopt you. Think about the offer and take all the time you need to decide, this is a serious matter. And you are, of course, free to refuse," he said softly, his eyes shining with sincerity.
Han's mind, still mired down with a ton of emotions, needed some time to process what Ben had really just said.
His eyes widened. "Are you kidding? If course I accept!"
Ben looked at him searchingly. "Are you sure about this, Han?"
"Yes, I am. I did not doubt you, really...it's just that nobody has ever cared that much about me," Han answered quietly, blinking back tears.
Before he could say another word, Ben's strong arms had drawn him into a hug and the older man murmured, "I know. But that has changed now."
Han smiled into Ben's shirt. "Speaking of that, I still have a bone to pick with you about getting yourself captured and leaving me..."
His grin grew wider when he felt Ben's chest heave in a silent sigh.
"Just for the record, I didn't get captured, but let myself be captured, okay?"
Afternoon found Yoda, Obi-Wan and Anakin in the 'meditation chamber', discussing the future of the Jedi Order. Well, at least Yoda and Obi-Wan did.
"I just spoke with Bail on the comm," Obi-Wan was saying. "He, Mon and Garm managed to get the Senate back together and avoid total chaos. After Palpatine's very...positive display of how an Empire treats normal citizens, people aren't very fond of the idea of another tyrant, so Bail is confident that they will be able to reinstate democracy. Like the Republic only with a few changes of constitution – like Co-Chancellors."
"Hmm, a good idea that is. Senator Organa and Senator Mothma, good Chancellors they would be," Yoda stated thoughtfully.
Obi-Wan smiled slightly. "That's what I said as well, but they to find something for Garm as well – he doesn't like being left out."
Yoda nodded. Anakin, who would be the first to admit he sucked at politics wisely his mouth shut, waiting for a topic of discussion he could contribute something to – and silently wondering how Obi-Wan managed to know so much about a subject he, as was general knowledge, despised.
"Ask him, did you?" Yoda wanted to know, ears twitching slightly.
Anakin frowned in confusion. What as the Grand-Master talking about? Maybe Mara, Obi-Wan had thought about asking Bail to adopt her...
Obi-Wan, however, seemed to understand what he meant.
"Yes, of course. He said it would be an honor."
Yoda's wrinkled face wrinkled even more as he smiled. "Good that is. Need to make plans we do."
Gradually Anakin really felt left out of the conversation, the suspicion that he was missing some point creeping up on him.
"Um, sorry to interrupt you, Masters...but what are you talking about?"
Obi-Wan looked genuinely startled. "Oh, I'm sorry, Anakin. I forgot you don't know about this. Master Yoda and I wish to build a new Jedi Temple here on Alderaan."
So he had been missing the point. "That's a good idea, I guess. I just never thought about the Temple not being on Coruscant."
"Wish to be mired down in politics again we do not. A mistake that was. And too far from Coruscant Alderaan is not," Yoda explained, regarding him with green-gold eyes.
"But we still need to work together with the Senate to get anything done. Just not fall under its jurisdiction," Obi-Wan added.
"That makes sense..."
Obi-Wan looked as if he was biting back a sarcastic comment, rolling his eyes, but then he settled on saying, "Well, and then we need to change some other things as well; the Code, the age of children we accept..."
For a moment his eyes glazed over a bit, looking inward at something far away it seemed, and murmured, "It was true then..." though Anakin didn't think he and Yoda were supposed to hear that.
"Obi-Wan?" he asked carefully.
He started a bit, snapping out of his daze, blushing a little. "I'm sorry, I was just remembering something."
Anakin's curiosity piqued. "What?"
"Something that happened on Tatooine," Obi-Wan replied evasively, making it clear he wouldn't tell them more about it.
Anakin frowned slightly. Now that he thought about it he noticed that Obi-Wan hadn't told anyone what had happened while he was dead, either. He resolved to talk to him later to get the whole story out of his stubborn friend.
"Okay, let's start with the Code..."
The last golden rays of sunlight bathed the house and garden in a beautiful light, warming the group of people standing outside on a patch of meadow.
Anakin slowly stepped forward, bearing a black stone with elegant silver carvings in his arms. Choosing a spot in front of a little bush with blue blossoms, giving of a tantalizingly sweet smell, he carefully lowered the stone to the ground, straining a little under its weight, the others watching on silently – even Mara and Han, on both sides of Obi-Wan, were still.
No sound disturbed the utter silence.
The marker read:
YOU WILL BE REMEMBERED
Such a simple black stone, only made different from thousands of such stones by carefully chosen letters carved into it, yet it meant so much, so many emotions, good and bad, tangling around it.
And he was sure the Jedi wouldn't have wanted it any other way – a pompous memorial just wouldn't have been true to their natures.
Anakin's mind, as he looked at the stone, trying not to think about the Temple again – he would keep that for a later time when he was alone – wandered to Roald Shryne, the last to die of all those remembered here. He send a quiet prayer to the Force, thanking him for his sacrifice – which he, as he suddenly realized, still hadn't told Obi-Wan about because he just knew he would blame himself for that as well. Sometimes, it seemed, they were more similar than anybody might notice on first sight – not to mention quite dense when it came to certain subjects...
He looked over to his friend, his head cocked in a silent question. Obi-Wan shook his head slightly, his eyes over-bright. Then to small hands slipped into his, instinctively offering comfort. Obi-Wan smiled down at Mara and Han, squeezing their hands slightly in thanks.
Anakin's heart warmed at the sight. Obi-Wan would heal in time with the help of his beloved ones.
He turned slightly, smiled, and sank into the loving embrace of his wife, coming up behind him.
Yes, Obi-Wan would heal – and so would they all.