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The house was bathed in a soft darkness that reminded Obi-Wan of the room where he'd learned meditation as a youngling. The whole place seemed to, for lack of a better word, glow faintly in the Force with Anakin and Padmé's mingled presence, and now that of their children.

It wasn't quite the same as the quiet emanated by some of the oldest rooms in the Temple: there had been more joy here, brilliant in a simple and unshielded way, but it felt just as safe, just as... home.

Obi-Wan almost gasped out loud, recoiling at the thought. This wasn't his home. This wasn't his family. The Temple was, the Jedi were. Not this. This was not for him.

"Obi-Wan, stop moping so loudly," whined a voice from the sofa, "You'll wake the children. They are very sensitive to that, you know."

Pride shone clearly even through Anakin's sleepy tone. As if to confirm his words, Leia shifted in her sleep, scrunching up her little face like she did when she was about to cry.

"And this is your home. No arguments. Sssh. Don't. Come here and cuddle your babies. Padmé is finally sleeping in the other room and you really don't want to wake her."

Obi-Wan was going to say that those were most definitely not his babies, but then he thought better of it. He really didn't want to deal with a newly awakened and thoroughly pissed Padmé: he was brave, not stupid (whatever a certain Clone Commander might have to say on the subject).

Anakin was lying on the sofa, shirtless, with Leia on his chest. He was holding her steady with his flesh arm, keeping the durasteel one carefully away from her. Luke was in his crib beside them.

"Apparently skin on skin contact is good. Improves parental bonding and possibly even the immune system."

"When did you become an expert on this?" Obi-Wan asked, grasping at any semblance of normality in the situation, as if words could keep away all the things he was feeling.

"I've been reading about childbirth and babies and parenting under your nose for months, Master. Maybe your perceptions are not as finely tuned as you though. Now come here."

Obi-Wan snorted rather inelegantly, but still moved towards the sofa. "We did have a war to fight, my young friend. Apologies for not focusing my entire attention on you."

Either oblivious to the irony or determined to enjoy actually having his former Master's attention all to himself, Anakin said: "Well, now that you have no clankers shooting at you, you can pick up Luke and do some bonding."

"But..."

"You don't want Luke to feel unloved, do you?"

"They are so tiny, you could hold them both," he protested weakly.

Anakin smiled ruefully, opening his right hand, durasteel palm upwards in explanation. "I'd rather not. Maybe when I get better sensors installed and with some covering for the metal. In the meantime, shirt off and butt on the sofa."

"Have you always been this bossy?"

"I'm not bossy, just efficient," Anakin protested. Then he laughed softly. "I just realised... That's exactly what Padmé says when I complain."

"Did you actually call your wife, senator Amidala, bossy to her face? And you live to tell it?" 

It was easy to imagine Anakin bristling at suggestions phrased like commands, and yet desperate to please. Even before he'd found out they were married, Obi-Wan had seen the easy familiarity between his former Padawan and the Senator, the affection when they looked at each other. He knew it wasn't very Jedi-like, but he had fed off their happiness, treasured the smiles they gave each other. If Anakin could smile like that in the middle of a war, there was hope yet.

"Not exactly, no..." Anakin covered his face with his free hand. "Whatever, this wasn't the point. Get going, Obi-Wan."

Obeying Anakin's command, Obi-Wan had shook off his various layers and picked up Luke from the crib. He then went to lie on the sofa mirroring Anakin, with his head pillowed on an armrest and his feet tangling with Anakin's.

On his chest, Luke gurgled happily, while his sister slept on.

Obi-Wan touched a finger to the boy's cheek, delicate and almost reverent.

"Princeling," he whispered.

"You know Naboo is not actually a hereditary monarchy, right?"

"Don't listen to your father, Luke, he's trying to be sensible and that never works well for him."

A wave of warmth and affection flowing through their bond surprised Obi-Wan. There wasn't quite a Master-Padawan bond between them anymore, but something had lingered, something that had, when in battle, saved their lives multiple times, making them a legendary team. Out of the battlefield, their bond had been quiet for a long time. Obi-Wan knew now that Anakin had been trying to shield from him his relationship and the overwhelming, burning joy at the discovery of Padmé's pregnancy, effectively cutting him out entirely.

But now, in the safety of this house, the space between them was less of an uncrossable chiasm. There were whispers, echoes of long-suppressed emotions, and over all a sense of contentment like Anakin had never expressed before.

Obi-Wan knew that if he opened his eyes, he would see Anakin smile, but he couldn't bring himself to look just yet. He would in a moment, he told himself. He could face his student, his friend smiling at him, unguarded and happy, he could.

He fell asleep still holding that thought, and that's how Padmé found him when she walked into the living room later that night.

Anakin smiled up at her. "Don't worry, he won't turn in his sleep and drop Luke, I'm keeping an eye on them," he told her immediately.

"I trust him. I trust you both," she said, leaning down to kiss his forehead.

 

 

Chapter Text

Following the discovery of a Sith Lord right under their noses, the Temple had been a hub of distress. Obi-Wan himself had helped calm some of the younglings, but the effort had left him drained. The Padawans and those Initiates old enough to understand the threat were afraid, while the younger ones had simply picked up on the general mood and every time one stopped crying, someone else started. The monster under the bed, the thing that was never supposed to come out from tales of the Old Republic had been right there all along. Distress was leaking out unchecked even from some of the younger Knights - and so many of them were far too young, knighted out of necessity during the war, years ahead of time, or left masterless on battlefields they were never supposed to see. Obi-Wan could relate.

The Force itself felt different, like a dusty window that had been smashed open – letting in more air and light, but with dangerous, jagged edges. All Jedi were suddenly feeling everything more sharply, the world so bright it went out of focus. The Healers Halls were full and Council meetings were suspended until at least half the members were no longer dealing with debilitating migraines.

After hours of pouring out every last ounce of calm, Obi-Wan was completely drained. His feet had taken him to a speeder and then from there to 500 Republica without conscious prompting. He was so tired and in need of a respite from so many Force sensitives projecting so much. After raising mister Anakin "What Are Shields" Skywalker, he should have been used to it but he wasn’t that sprightly young Knight anymore. He just needed comfort and didn't have the energy to lecture himself on it, even if said comfort came in the shape of his very married former Padawan and his family.

Despite having been given the key code weeks earlier, he knocked, as he always did. The door opened, and he walked to the living room, where he was greeted by a very unusual sight.

While Obi-Wan had seen the Senator and former Queen without facepaint and dressed informally before, nothing could have prepared him for the sight of Padmé looking absolutely dishevelled. Her hair was actually in disarray. She had bags under her eyes.

But when she smiled up at him, her whole face brightened up. "Obi-Wan, thank the Ancestors! I was just about ready to run away to the Outer Rim and never come back," she then looked back at Luke, "No, honey, mummy doesn't really mean it, she's just very tired."

"How can I help?" Asked Obi-Wan, all thoughts of Sith Lords and scared Initiates running out of his mind.

"Would you mind terribly picking up Leia? She's been fussing, and Luke refuses to eat if his sister is unhappy. It's really moving but terribly unhelpful at the moment. Sssh, Luke, see, there's nothing to worry about, Dad's here now, he'll take care of Leia for five minutes so you can calm down enough to eat. "

Obi-Wan had already picked up Leia and settled on the sofa beside Padmé when her words caught up to him.

"Padmé..."

She was adjusting Luke on her breast, looking the picture of innocence. "Yes, dear?"

She was so tired, it must have been a slip.

And suddenly Obi-Wan was tired too, too tired to question, nitpick and worry. He just wanted to cradle the tiny squirming bundle in his arms and stare at her minuscule hands and translucent skin. Human newborns were ridiculously small and delicate, but also very cute. Leia wasn’t doing much yet, but in the Force he presence already had a very distinctive feel. And she seemed happy to be in his arms, which made something in his chest open up like a flower in bloom.

"The Temple is a mess," he said, without thinking. It wasn’t his intention to burden her with his worries and he wasn't in the habit of discussing Jedi business with civilians. Still, this was Padmé.

"You should see the Senate," she replied with a sigh.

"Does the Senate come with an attached crèche of terrified younglings who just discovered their worst nightmare was living next door?"

"You win this one," she snorted out an exhausted, inelegant laugh.

"Have you started working again, then?" Obi-Wan asked after a moment, curious.

Padmé looked up from Luke, and leaned back, slouching a bit. "Not really, and I don't want to yet, but I've been in a few holoconferences and Bail comes over a lot to keep me up to speed. It's an important time for the Republic, but also an important time for my family. I'm just trying to balance things."

In the soft evening light, she looked tired still, but more at peace than Obi-Wan had seen her in years. Maybe ever. She had been fighting, too.

They swapped the twins around, and Obi-Wan burped Luke, while Padmé tried to convince Leia to stop trying to grab her hair and start eating.

"From where I'm standing, it looks like you're doing a wonderful job of it. Your children are clearly well cared for, and Anakin... is very happy,” he finished lamely, words deserting him like they often did when it came to more personal matters.

He put aside the towel he’d put on his shoulder and put Luke back in his crib.

Padmé narrowed her eyes, weighting him. “And yet you seem sad.”

Obi-Wan took his time in answering, and she didn’t try to rush him. He appreciated that.

“While I am happy for the four of you, I also feel a measure of guilt. I thought this was never supposed to happen,” he looked around, encompassing the house, the children and Padmé herself, “I cautioned Anakin against attachment, knowing what he felt for you, hoping that he would let you go. And hoping he wouldn’t, because you made him happy,” he shook his head with a bitter smile, “I have always been conflicted when it came to him.”

“So have I,” she said sweetly, “And what I found was that happiness is precious. With so much darkness around us, we ought to protect it. Forgive me if you think I am overstepping here, but I do understand the reasons behind your Code. I understand how important it is to have strict rules for those with power. Do you know why Queens on Naboo take on a new name after coronation?”

Obi-Wan shook his head. The intricacies of local history and lore were always fascinating to him, but his time on Naboo had been fraught with dangers and he never had the time to research as much he would have liked.

“It’s because they are not just part of one family or clan, but belong to the nation. We are not supposed to put personal interests first, and so we renounce even our names. We are both more and less than one individual, like Jedi are.”

“Oh.”

“Well, that and so it’s not illegal for Handmaidens to take the Queen’s place,” she added with a sardonic smile, “The name does not technically belong to one person, so no one can be said to be impersonating someone else.”

Obi-Wan laughed at that, surprised. Rationally, he had known that a lot of planning and shrewdness went into constructing a political figure such as a Queen, but Padmé had always been so good at playing it straight that it was easy to forget that. She made it look like there was a physical manifestation of the people of Naboo, effortlessly brought to life, rather than a whole government and legal system.

“So I understand better than you might think,” she went on, her voice serious, “But I also think that you should let go of that guilt before it festers. Whatever you’re telling yourself, you made a choice by not telling the Council about us. You made a choice by coming back for Anakin against orders. Feeling bad about it won’t change a thing.”

Obi-Wan would have gladly fought a rancor rather than have this conversation. Deep down, he acknowledged her bravery for bringing it all up. Very deep down.

“I would never hold your integrity against you. You taught Anakin what you though was right, you stood by your beliefs. But I don’t see you trying to convince him to leave his family now. Things change, it’s normal.”

“The Code doesn’t,” Obi-Wan replied, resolutely looking at a decorative vase in front of him, “We can’t just pick and choose whatever is convenient.”

“What is convenient, or what is right? Sometimes the right thing doesn’t require a sacrifice. This isn’t the Old Republic anymore.”

Between the lines, he could read the accusation that following the Code hadn’t prevented the rise of a Sith Lord in the very core of the Republic. Obi-Wan bristled at that, feeling like she was trespassing on territory that was not her concern, but tried to let go of his irritation.

While they talked, Leia had fallen asleep mid feeding. Padmé looked mildly exasperated but put her into her bassinet.

“She is going to wake up in no time screaming because she is hungry,” she complained, buttoning her gown. She shook her head, then went on. “Let me put it like this: do you think I would ever push for legislation that only benefits me, or my husband or my children, to the detriment of others?”

“Of course not!”

“Would you ever use your own power unfairly, damage people so that you or Anakin might get advantages? Actually, have you ever done that? Sometimes I swear you lot forget how much power you have. Anakin told me of that time you accidentally mind-tricked someone while drunk.”

That was a very low blow and Obi-Wan could feel his face warm up in embarrassment. “No, I wouldn’t, unless you include self defence.”

She shot him an unimpressed look. “Then just keep asking yourself these questions. Learn how to live an ethical life without renouncing everything. And hug your damn kids. If they grow up as touch-starved as Anakin, I’ll shave your beard and sell your lightsaber for scrap parts.”

“They’re no-

“Now, Obi-Wan. Careful about what you’re about to say.”

“But Padmé-

She silenced him with a glare in a way only Master Nu had ever managed before.

“Why?” he asked after a long, uncomfortable pause that had even Luke squirming. Stars, he really was sensitive.

“Because Anakin loves you,” she said, looking at him straight in the eye. There was a steely determination to her, the same that must have kept her strong throughout the war without ever making her bitter. “I won’t let you tear yourself apart from him out of some misguided sense of duty. Because you saved my life, and my children’s, and we wouldn’t be here without you. Because they love you already, and I want you in their lives. You’re a good man, Obi-Wan, even though I get the feeling that you might have trouble believing it.”

So that was how her political adversaries felt after basically being blasted out of their pods by her oratory, Obi-Wan though, dazed.

He had sacrificed so much throughout his life to simply let go now. If he went back on his beliefs now, wouldn’t it all have been for nothing? Oh, but it hurt, the idea of going back to trying to mould himself into the image of the perfect Jedi. And what was he going to do about Luke and Leia? Was he really going to argue that they ought to go to the Temple créche? That would have been... No, he could never do that. Sithdamn, he did have attachment issues, so many of them.

He closed his eyes and tried to silence the storm in his head. Padmé was silent beside him, the traffic noise from outside barely there, a vibration more than a noise. Tentatively, he reached out into the Force, like he had been avoiding to do for too long, and in that moment he knew with absolute certainty that if he tried to sever himself from the people he loved, he’d lose himself in a darkness worse than any Sith curse.

A tear escaped from his closed eyelids, and he felt Padmé’s warm hand on his.