Chapter 12 (and final)

One small moment in time can make a galaxy of difference. It can completely change your outlook...your life. Just that one moment. So unexpected, so precious. And one seems so unreal now.

Was it a dream? Did Padme actually tell him that she loved him? That she had loved him all this time?

How was that possible? They had rarely seen one another since Naboo, and the tragedy surrounding their time together then didn't actually lead to anything significant. Not to his knowledge. They had spoken briefly, but that was all. Obi-Wan's grief had consumed him, and his newfound responsibility of training a Padawan had overwhelmed him. There wasn't an opportunity to pursue anything else, to wonder why her eyes seemed to have the ability to gaze into his very soul, how her few chosen words meant more to him than those of Yoda declaring him to be a Knight.

The memory of Naboo seems a haze now. A distant haze from a nearly forgotten past.

But here she is, in the present, holding his hand - her smooth, delicate fingers grasping onto his callused claw.

When had this happened?

He had followed her career, praising her silently, admiring her from afar.

"Ask her. She's sitting right next to you," came a voice of reason sounding all too much like Master Qui-Gon.

"How long did you...?" At that precise moment, her thumb slid across his and the sentence came out incomplete. Somehow, though, he knew she would understand.

"During that awful mission to Zeldor."

Ah, he remembered that. It was almost three years ago. He and Anakin had been assigned to try and put an end to a clan war, which had been ravaging the planet for nearly a decade. The mission was a success even though Anakin ended up having to pick up the pieces. Literally. An ancient civilization using ancient weapons. A lightsaber isn't much use against a primitive scatter grenade. Although his Padawan had escaped unscathed, Obi-Wan had taken the blunt of the explosion, shrapnel embedded in every part of his body he had used to protect his student.

"When I came to the Healers' Hall, I was surprised to see you still alive. You were a mess, hanging there in that bacta, but all you cared about was how Anakin was. If he was all right," Padme recalled.

He remembered that. He had thought Padme had been there to check on his Padawan. Not him.

"I realized then that you were the most selfless and caring man I had ever known, and that I loved you."

Obi-Wan had never done well with compliments. His Master had been rather stingy with them, and he supposed he never got to practice the humility of accepting them. He felt his face turn hot and covered up his embarrassment by drawing Padme's hand to his mouth, relishing the quiet gasp she made when he nuzzled her fingers with his lips.

Their transport had stopped and Obi-Wan took the opportunity to hold onto those precious digits, escorting Padme to her door, but that was as far as he would go. Although they had known each other for his entire knighthood, they didn't know each other like this, although this was something he had always wanted.

"Would you like to..."

She was having speech difficulties as well, thought Obi-Wan, or maybe it was because he had stepped up closer and taken her in his arms. He knew what she was going to ask. How could he refuse and make her understand?

"I'm not sure..." he stammered as her hands made their way beneath his cloak. He could feel the warmth of them burn through his undertunic and deep into the skin beneath.

"I want you to."

Dark eyes beseeching, her beautiful mouth open beneath him, her breath coming out in quick, quiet pants.

Oh...blast it all!

"I want you too," Obi-Wan replied, making his meaning clear by drawing Padme closer, until their breaths mingled and their hearts beat together as one.

And so they would for all time.

"Thanks," Anakin sniffled as he accepted the white handkerchief from the dark-skinned hand which thrust it forth beneath his nose. He hadn't realized he'd been crying. Was this the kind of drunk he was? A slobbering whiner? Oh well, he couldn't help it. Watching his Master and Padme declare their love was more than he could handle. And that kiss. Wow. He had seen kisses before, but never one that like that. One that opened up the heavens where all that was good and light shone down upon them. It was if the Force declared them a couple. They were practically glowing, or maybe it was the smear of the street light in his tears.

"We need to get you back to the Temple," spoke the deep voice belonging to the hand which gave him the cloth.

The sight of Master Windu usually was not one for celebration, but Anakin was far too giddy to care. His smile widened when he turned to face one of the strictest Jedi in the Order. "Isn't it great, Mace? Look at them!"

"Yes, I see them. Come along."

"And to think, it was all me! I'm the one who did this! It's just too wonderful. Everything's okay now. Master Obi-Wan is happy, I'm happy, Padme's happy. Master Windu, are you happy?"

(Anakin mentally adds "babbler" to his drunk personality list.)

"I'll be happy once we get some caff in you. Come on," Windu demands, escorting the young man by his arm. "And by the way, you won't be happy for long."

"Why's that Waster Mindu? I mean...Master Windu?" Anakin is stunned to hear a giggle escape him, but for once, he doesn't care.

"Because, as a Member of the Jedi Council, it is my duty to inform you of the punishment you will receive for intoxication below the legal age limit, and for setting my niece up with that scoundrel, Fisto."

"Kit? You don't like Kit? I do. He's nice."

"Whatever. I expect to see you in training room eleven at 0500 sharp to begin your discipline session. Two weeks' worth of saber drills, level III."

"Yes Master," Anakin sways and is immediately supported by the broad shoulder of his mentor. "I love you, Master Windu," the youth gurgles as the council member shoves him unceremoniously into the transport.

"I love you too, Skywalker. Let's get you home."


A/N: LOL That last line is creating all kinds of strange thoughts in my head, but I swear this is it for this story. No sequel! I swear!

Thanks to my reviewers for hanging out with me. I don't know about you, but I had fun!

And as it always happens, when I finish one story, I usually have another brewing in my head. Stay tuned, although I'm not exactly sure what's coming! :)