Anakin—no, Darth Vader—got to his feet slowly.
A clone came up behind him and undid his cuffs. The feeling of relief as he had access to the force again was instantaneous, like water breaking through a dam.
He hid his shaky hands under the sleeves of his robes as he took excruciatingly slow, measured steps toward his wife.
“How could you?” Ahsoka seethed. She didn’t understand. He didn’t expect her to.
He ignored her, kneeling by Padme’s side. Placing a hand on the side of her neck, he sighed in relief at feeling her pulse, dropping his forehead against hers. She was barely conscious. She was never meant to get hurt or caught up in all of this—all he wanted was to keep her safe. He kissed her one last time before he stood up and returned to Palpatine’s side.
She might hate him, but she would live. As long as she survived, he would pay any price.
“Uncuff them,” he demanded Palpatine.
“Not quite yet, my apprentice,” he replied. “That would be dangerous.”
“What threat do they pose?” Vader gestured around at everyone in various states of injury, feeling a moment of relief to see Luke and Leia mostly unharmed. “They don’t have weapons. You promised their safety.”
“That I did,” Palpatine said, “But I will not fall into stupidity. While you have come to your senses, I’m not sure the rest of them would agree.”
Vader offered no reply.
“Besides, I only promised your family’s safety. Unless there’s something you’re not telling me, I do believe most of them are expendable.”
“No!” Vader shouted for what felt like the millionth time today. “That’s not what I meant!”
“Don’t worry, your wife and Padawan are safe,” Palpatine reassured. “As for Master Kenobi, the Council’s loyal puppet, well...” he trailed off, his intention clear.
Shit. Now Vader was regretting all the times he complained about Obi-Wan. “Master Kenobi is no use to us dead,” he said, hoping he sounded threatening. “He would make a powerful ally.”
“Or a powerful enemy,” Palpatine countered. “Besides, don’t you want him gone? After all the harm he caused you, nobody could begrudge you a little revenge.”
“Revenge is not the Jedi way,” Vader said automatically.
“And that is why you are a Sith now,” Palpatine hissed. “Kill them.”
“You are my apprentice, and you will do as I say,” Palpatine said. “Prove your loyalty. Do it!”
This wasn’t good. He couldn’t kill his children any more than he could Ahsoka or Padme. And Obi-Wan—they fought all the time, but he didn’t want to kill him. His master had faked his death once before. Vader didn’t know what he would do if it was real and by his own hands.
Anakin shook his head, refusing.
“Very well, I’ll do it myself.”
Instead of turning to Obi-Wan, Palpatine shot his lightning at Luke, who fell to the ground screaming.
“STOP!” Anakin shouted while Palpatine cackled. “He’s family, you can’t do this!”
Palpatine stopped. “Family?”
Anakin swallowed. There was no hiding it now. “My son.”
“My apprentice, there is no need for lies. That is impossible.”
“It’s true,” Obi-Wan added, still breathless from getting electrocuted. “Time-travel. We’re not sure how it happened.”
“Time travel? I suspected...” he trailed off. Palpatine suddenly looked even more menacing as he turned toward Luke. “Tell me about this future of yours.”
Luke, still laying on the floor, spoke with certainty. “Never.”
“There are other ways to make you talk,” Palpatine mused.
Luke didn’t acknowledge him, looking to Anakin instead. “Father, don’t.”
Anakin knew what he meant, but was tempted to ignore it anyways. Their plan had been off the rails since they first set foot in Palpatine’s office. What did it matter any more that he followed it? Before Anakin could try and intervene, Leia spoke.
“How did you get the clones?”
“What?” Palpatine asked, uncharacteristically confused.
Leia tried to take a step forward but a pair of clones held her back. “How are these men loyal to you?”
Palpatine didn’t say anything. Keep him talking. Anakin moved slowly behind the Sith.
“It was my understanding that all clones have an ‘inhibitor chip’ implanted in their brains,” Leia continued. “But the thing is, all of these chips have been either deactivated or removed. You no longer have access to them.”
“And how do you know this?” Palpatine demanded.
“That’s not important right now. Why are these men loyal to you and turning against innocent civilians and Jedi?”
“I see,” Palpatine said, a smile growing on his wrinkly face. How did Anakin ever find him comforting? “You’re from the same time as young Skywalker here.”
“Actually, Luke’s older than Anakin. So really, he’s old Skywalker,” Han interrupted.
Luke nodded. “It’s true.”
“I am,” Leia admitted her existence as a time-traveller while Anakin kept inching toward his lightsaber.
“Would you say the two of you are close?”
“What do you mean?” Leia asked cautiously.
“I think you are,” Palpatine decided. “And that’s the interesting thing, you see. Usually, good people just can’t be persuaded to speak for their own life. But I’ve found that under the right circumstances, they will almost always speak for someone else’s. And you, my dear, have information that I want.”
Leia’s eyes widened. “No,” she whispered.
“Yes,” Palpatine grinned, once again directing his lightning toward Luke.
Anakin lunged for his saber while Leia screamed at Palpatine. It was pure, blood-curdling rage. The force of it knocked Anakin to the ground, clones collapsed where they stood, and furniture flew around the air, knocking into the walls. Leia ran toward her brother.
There was no way Palpatine wasn’t surprised by Leia’s display of power, but he kept torturing Luke. His attention, however, was divided between the lightning and defending himself from Leia’s storm of an assault.
Amidst the chaos, Anakin struggled to his feet. He ignited his lightsaber and drove it through Palpatine’s chest.
The Sith gasped, looking Anakin in the eyes one last time before he crumpled at his feet. He looked disgustingly human in death, a frail old man who barely had the strength to walk up a flight of stairs. It was strangely anticlimactic—for some reason, Anakin felt like there should have been more explosions.
Anakin felt a hand on his shoulder and flinched.
“Anakin,” Obi-Wan said. “He’s dead. It’s over.”
That did it. Anakin turned around and pulled his old master into a tight hug, rambling apologies into the fabric of his robes like he was a child.
“It’s okay, Padawan,” Obi-Wan pulled back. “There’s nothing to forgive.”
Anakin nodded gratefully, looking past him and realizing that Luke and Padme were walking toward him. Luke grinned, which, given his injuries, looked far more grotesque than he probably intended.
Padme smiled despite her obvious pain. “How was that for aggressive negotiations?”
They only had a few moments respite before Padme—still hardly able to stand on her own two feet—put everyone to work. She contacted Senator Organa and a few others while Obi-Wan called the Council.
“Skywalker!” Windu barked as he walked into the room. “What is the meaning of this?”
Normally Anakin would have yelled right back, but he was exhausted. The thought of holding a debate with Windu right nowmade him feel like he should have never left Padme's apartment that morning. Luke answered instead. Anakin held back a laugh—he kept forgetting he wasn’t the only Skywalker anymore.
“We killed your Sith lord,” Luke said plainly.
“You killed—” Mace said. “What?!”
Luke gave him half a smile, folding his hands in front of him. “Emperor Palpatine was the Sith lord. Father killed him.”
“Father?! You mean Anakin?! This is—I can’t do this right now,” Mace muttered, placing a hand on his forehead.
It was still weird hearing 23 year old Luke call him father. Good. But weird. The weirdness was definitely worth seeing Mace speechless, though.
Yoda had stepped back from the conversation to examine the body. “Dead, he is,” he announced.
A lightsaber through the chest will do that. Nevertheless, Anakin was still relieved at the confirmation. For some reason, he felt like it shouldn’t have been that easy to kill him. He wondered if there was some Sith secret that could allow him to come back to life.
“Without permission, this assassination was.” Yoda continued, frowning at Anakin.
“Sorry?” Anakin said. He literally just killed the Sith lord. Shouldn’t they at least be a little bit grateful?
“Master Yoda,” Obi-Wan began. “This was my idea. You know the Council would have spent too much time deliberating and clearly,” he gestured at all the destruction, “we needed to take action. Palpatine was onto us.”
“Or this is the result of a poorly formed plan,” Windu said. “Were the Council to have assigned a mission to take on Palpatine, we would have never sent all of you. Certainly not Skywalker, with all of his attachments.” His lip curled as he said the last word, like it was disgusting.
Anakin was about to retort back—he couldn’t talk about Padme or his future kids that way—when Luke gave him a look, one he usually reserved for Leia. Its message was clear enough: leave it. It was weird to feel so chastised by his future adult son, but Anakin listened. He had more important things than to fight Windu right now. Like eat. He was starving.
Yoda ignored Windu’s comment and Anakin’s growling stomach. “Medical care, you need. Discuss this later, we will.”
Anakin nodded as they left, distracted by Padme and Leia walking back in. Leia hugged Bail tightly before he left, and Anakin averted his eyes. He understood, but that didn’t mean he had to like it.
Ahsoka ran up to him, still holding her right arm funny.
“Snips! Are you okay?” He exclaimed, looking her over for more injuries. “We need to go see the Medics at the Temple before this office is swarming with politicians.”
She didn’t say anything, just stepped forward and slapped him across the face with her good arm. Ouch, that stung.
“I probably deserve that,” he said, rubbing his cheek.
“Probably?!” she shouted. Oh boy. This was not going to go well. “Probably?! Master, I thought you actually fell! I thought I lost you! You’re not allowed to keep me out of plans like this! Especially after before! Do you have any idea how that felt?!”
“Ahsoka, I-” he started, excuses ready. She wasn’t supposed to have ever been there for the attack to begin with! But then he remembered how he felt when Obi-Wan didn’t tell them about his fake death, and instead said, “I’m sorry.”
She stared at him for a moment before stepping quickly toward him. He stepped back, expecting another slap. Ahsoka laughed. “Don’t worry, Skyguy, I’m not going to hit you. Probably.”
He hugged her then, carefully avoiding her right arm.
Finally, they began to leave the office. Right before Anakin walked out, he turned around to glimpse what remained of the man he used to consider like a father. Instead, he saw Leia and Han lingering behind. Han leaned over and spit on Palpatine’s corpse.
A short while later, Anakin stepped into the Council room, once again hand in hand with his wife. If the Council wanted to give him shit for it, let them. What did they know?
“Young Skywalker,” Windu said formally. “We commend your actions in eliminating the Sith Lord known as Darth Sideous to us, and in your children’s future as Emperor Palpatine. Nevertheless, this was highly reckless and dangerous.”
“But it worked!” Ahsoka exclaimed. “He’s dead! You can’t punish us for that!”
“Punished for killing the Sith, you will not be,” Yoda agreed. “Fret not, Padawan.”
“Consider the situation with Darth Sideous handled, Knight Skywalker,” Mundi said. “It is your attachments we are concerned about.” He glanced down to Anakin and Padme’s joined hands.
“What about them?” Anakin said, squeezing Padme’s hand a little tighter.
“Don’t pretend to be stupid, Skywalker,” Windu said. “You know attachments are against the code. We cannot let this continue.”
“Why not?” Luke interrupted. “What is so wrong with attachments anyways?”
“A Jedi, are you not?” Yoda questioned.
“You finished my training yourself, Master Yoda. You did warn me of my attachments to my friends, yes, but never in such extreme terms. Why are you all so against Jedi having attachments? Isn’t that what the light side is about? Love?”
Windu sighed. “Attachments are corrupting influences. At best, they will distract a Jedi. At worst, they will cause their fall. It is an unnecessary risk. Therefore, Jedi are forbidden from it.”
“Is that even legal?” Leia asked, frowning. “And logistically, how do you forbid thousands of people from making emotional connections? That doesn’t sound realistic or healthy.”
“Sounds like a cult,” Han added.
“You wouldn’t understand, civilian,” Mace said, a look of distaste coming across his face. “This is the Jedi way.”
Anakin couldn’t take this anymore. He was trying to be civil in front of Padme, but this was too much. He had to do something.
“You know, Master Windu, I bet if you actually got laid once in a while, you would feel a lot different about this subject.”
“Excuse me?” Mace said threateningly.
“I think maybe you’re just jealous.”
Windu gave him a death stare, looking like his head was about to explode. Anakin stared right back, but he stepped closer to Padme (she was definitely going to yell at him about this later).
Master Mundi cleared his throat awkwardly. “Actually, Anakin, Jedi are not forbidden from…intercourse. It is simply attachments we must avoid.”
Anakin blanked. “So you’re saying you would have preferred I had sex before I got married?!”
“Master Kenobi,” Plo Koon said. “Did you never explain any of this to your Padawan?”
Obi-Wan had his head in his hands. “I did my best,” he said weakly.
“You knew?!!” Anakin practically shouted before addressing the Council as a whole. “You’re all disgusting. Have a sense of decency.”
“Really, Skywalker, have a sense of maturity, please. This is unbecoming,” Windu said.
“First off, I’m twenty-one. You’re the fifty year old man telling me it’s okay to have one-night stands but marriage is unacceptable. Second, WHAT THE HELL?! HAVE YOU ALL HAD PREMARITAL SEX?!!! YODA?!!!!!!!!! DO YOU KNOW HOW—”
Anakin was pulled out of his rant by choked laughter. He looked back to see Han with his hand over his mouth. Leia glared at him. She looked pissed, but her face was bright red. Luke, too, was blushing, all the way to the roots of his hair.
Padme took his moment of distraction to remove her hand from his grip and cover her face. He paused his tirade. “Sorry, Angel,” he muttered.
“You will be,” she said through clenched teeth. Anakin hoped it would be the fun kind of sorry. Oh force, would he have to think about the Council every time he was with Padme now?!
“Regardless of your own miscommunication,” Leia said, blush fading, “Your code surrounding attachment is unhealthy.”
No shit, Anakin thought to himself.
“How so, Miss Skywalker?” Windu said, failing to regain his sense of decency after being publicly slut shamed by a 21 year old.
Leia’s eyes flashed. “You may address me as General Organa, Mister Windu.” She continued. “And forbidding attachment is clearly an unrealistic expectation—what sentient being is not attached to someone? You’re setting your entire order up for failure.”
“I am the last Jedi of my time,” Luke added. “ Without my attachments to my family and my friends, I would never have been able to stay sane, much less been able to complete my training as a Jedi.”
Padme stepped forward, hands clasped behind her back. “In this future, the Jedi order has fallen. Clearly what you are doing now is not working. The Order needs to change and progress in order for its survival. You can’t just stick with thousand year old mantras for the rest of your lives. Like Leia said, it’s unrealistic.”
Yoda grunted. “Regular people, Jedi are not. Processed differently, our emotions are.”
“This is true,” Windu agreed. “Jedi are granted great power. To be so careless with their emotions would undoubtedly lead to disaster.”
Anakin was fuming. Was the Council seriously lecturing him that is was a flaw to love his wife?! This was ridiculous. “Look, I killed Palpatine because I was attached. And don’t you all think I’m the Chosen One? Shouldn’t my opinion hold some weight here?”
“All due respect, Master Windu,” Padme said. “But it sounds like your current path leads toward disaster as well. The Jedi cannot remain stagnant as you are. And regarding Anakin’s prophecy, do any of you know what bringing balance to the force even means? Perhaps his role was not to destroy the Dark Side, but to reconcile the extremism of the Light.”
Anakin wasn’t exactly sure what she meant, but it sounded smart so he nodded along before he spoke again. “If you won’t change the rule on attachment, I’m leaving the Order.”
The Council room burst into chaos again. Obi-Wan gave him an exasperated look from his seat. Anakin grinned back. He always had been good at making the Council lose their heads.
Padme leaned in closer, eyes wide. “You’d leave? Are you sure?”
Anakin looked down, surprised at her surprise. “For you? I’d do anything.”
Anakin’s eyes met with Ahsoka’s as she crossed her arms. She rolled her eyes. Right. Anakin had promised he would stay for the completion of her training. Maybe there was a way he could leave the order but continue to train her? Obi-Wan had promised him he would train Ahsoka if anything happened, so maybe he could just sneak in with him. He didn’t want to abandon his Padawan, but there was no way he could stay with the Jedi if they insisted on continuing this insanity.
“If Master Skywalker leaves, I’m leaving too,” Ahsoka announced loudly.
Anakin barely had a second to process his surprise when Obi-Wan stood up. “As will I.”
Anakin raised his eyebrows, legitimately shocked at Obi-Wan’s admission. Ahsoka had always had a rebellious streak, so he wasn’t too surprised she was willing to leave in order to prove a point, but Obi-Wan? Obi-Wan was the perfect Jedi—and on the Council! He was the Jedi authority, but he was willing to leave for Anakin.
Then Yoda got to his feet, slamming his cane against the ground three times. The room immediately fell silent.
“Leave, none of you will,” he said. “Discuss revisions to the Code, we shall.”
Anakin brushed Padme’s hair off the back of her neck as he slowly zipped up her dress. It was dark blue and had incredibly fine and intricate detailing that served no purpose other than aesthetics. He didn't understand why someone would design something with no practical purpose, but she certainly looked beautiful wearing it.
He bent forward and kissed the back of her neck. “All done,” he said quietly, resting his other hand on her waist as she slowly turned around in his arms.
When she saw his face, she froze. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he said, nervously running a hand through his hair. “It’s just that this is going to be our first time in public now that everyone knows we’re married.”
She stepped closer. “What do you mean?”
“I just don’t think,” he tried to say, ignoring the look of amusement on her face at that. “I don’t want to mess it up. I’m horrible at politics. What if being married to me ruins your career? Or what if I—”
Padme cut him off with a kiss as she wrapped her arms around his neck. Anakin happily obliged, closing his eyes and moving his free hand to the back of her head, carefully avoiding her intricate updo.
She pulled back. “You won’t mess up. Besides, the public loves you, Hero With No Fear. You don’t mean to tell me you’re scared of a little party?” She teased with a soft smile.
Anakin blushed at the mention of his “nickname,” but he had already forgotten why he was worried about the party—now he was focused on kissing his wife. His hands began to creep lower down her back when he remembered—Yoda. Ew. He had to stop.
“What is it?” Padme asked, her teasing expression gone.
“Remember how when we were talking to the Council, and they revealed that,” Anakin felt his face heating up again, “Jedi were not celibate?”
“Yes,” she said slowly, taking a step away from him.
“Well, you see, I just thought about—” He couldn’t finish the sentence. He couldn’t do it. He’d rather fight Palpatine again.
“Yoda,” she finished with a grimace.
Padme sighed, walking over to sit on the bed. Anakin followed her. She got up.
“Well, Ani, I think we’re going to have to go to couple’s therapy for the first time too,” she said, sounding exhausted.
“Couples therapy?!” Anakin said. “I haven’t even been to regular therapy!”
“You haven’t been to regular therapy?!”
Anakin waved his hands around, trying to find a response. “No?”
Padme groaned, resting her head in her hand. “How did the Jedi ever think you were okay…”
The war didn’t end with killing Palpatine—there was still Grievous, and Dooku, and apparently Maul—but the end was in sight. Anakin had also been granted a few weeks of off-time from his general duties, as he had to endure a whole legal trial about assassinating Palpatine. The Senate didn’t seem particularly focused about him actually being an evil Sith lord, though. They were more upset that he had been playing both sides of the war from the beginning. Either way, Palpatine was declared a traitor and Anakin innocent (for once).
Bail had been elected Chancellor after everything. Anakin was confused why Padme hadn’t even been considered for the position, but she told him that she wouldn’t have been elected anyways—the Senate, after all, was full of stupid politicians. From their perspective, she was too connected to Palpatine through Naboo and way too connected to his murderer through marriage. Anakin told her he would personally visit every single Senator who would oppose her as Chancellor, but for some reason she didn’t want him to do that.
At the moment, Anakin danced with his wife at the inauguration party, arms carefully positioned like Obi-Wan had lectured him about in a diplomacy lesson years ago. Speaking of Obi-Wan, he was smiling a suspicious amount while talking to the Duchess of Mandalore across the room. His old master had seemed a lot happier now that the Order had officially relaxed their stance on attachment.
Anakin did not want to think about what Obi-Wan might be doing now that the rule was abolished. He shuddered. That was almost as bad as Yoda.
“Hey,” Padme said softly. “Come back to me.”
“Sorry,” he said. “Just thinking.”
He grimaced. “Obi-Wan.”
She shook her head. “We really need to get you to therapy.”
Then, over Padme’s shoulder, he saw Leia and Han dancing. Force, she looked so short next to him. Also, he was dancing way too close to her. Anakin knew Han was a smuggler, but Leia was a princess! He should have some respect.
Han leaned down to whisper something in Leia’s ear, which she pulled back and slapped his arm for. Then she stepped away and called out, “Luke! Come dance with me!”
“Excuse me,” Anakin said to Padme, walking over toward where Han stood forlorn by a pillar. Artoo was with him, rambling on and on about some dumb thing Threepio had just done.
“I get it, buddy,” Han said. “My friend Chewie is the best, but sometimes he doesn’t understand that not every problem can be solved with his crossbow.”
Anakin stepped in. “You know, I’m sure Artoo would love solving problems with a crossbow.”
Han looked surprised that Anakin was there, but he didn’t run away screaming, which Anakin took as a good sign. He cleared his throat. He knew Luke and Leia were a little older than him, which was weird enough on its own, but his future son-in-law? That was too much.
“How old are you anyways?” he asked accidentally.
Han snorted. “To be honest, I’ve got no clue. I grew up on the streets.”
Well, that wasn’t where Anakin had been hoping to take this conversation. “Oh. Uh. I’m sorry about that.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Clearly Han did not want to be having a conversation with him right now. “Look, I wanted to talk to you about Leia.”
What? Did he really not know why? “Time travel or not, she’s my daughter,” Anakin said, copying the same speech he had heard on many different holo-films. “I think you’re a good man and I can see you make her happy, but if you do anything to hurt her in any way, there is no place in the galaxy you will be able to hide from me.”
Completely serious, Han looked him dead in the eye and asked, “What would you do?”
“If you found me,” he said slowly. “What would you do?”
Anakin paused, taking in that comment. Did he think he was joking?! Was Leia a joke to him?! He felt himself growing angrier by the second when Han spoke again.
“Both Leia and I have been on the receiving end of Vader’s anger, so, really it’s going to take a lot to scare me away. I can handle it.”
How was Anakin supposed to reply to that? Fortunately, he was spared by Han bursting into laughter.
Anakin nervously joined him, but kept glancing around, hoping someone would come get him out of this conversation. Padme, Luke, and Ahsoka were talking, and by the way they were laughing, they wouldn’t notice his struggles. Leia was standing with Bail and Breha, a smile on her face. Anakin realized that he wasn’t even jealous—he was just grateful that she grew up in a loving, supporting home. Even if that home wasn’t with him. Either way, she probably wouldn’t even want to rescue him from Han.
Just as Anakin was losing hope, Obi-Wan walked over.
“Sorry to bother you, Mr. Solo,” (This time Artoo joined in on the laughter) “But could I borrow Anakin for a moment?”
“By all means,” Han said, still chuckling. “Take him away.”
“What is it?” Anakin asked once he and Obi-Wan had walked away from the party. “Did Satine propose?”
“Propose? Propose what?” Obi-Wan asked. “Ah. No, this is not about her.” He paused. “Do you think she will?”
Anakin gave a genuine laugh. “I’ve got no clue, Master. What did you want to talk to me about?”
“Right. I spoke with the Council. As you know, since we killed Palpatine, the Force has become much clearer. Less fuddled with darkness.”
“Yes,” Anakin said. It was true—Palpatine’s very presence had manipulated the Force so much, it was like they were trying to see in a sandstorm. Now, it was as clear as the lakes of Naboo.
“Because of this,” Obi-Wan continued. “We have a way to return your children and Han to their own time and universe. They found the very same artifact which sent them here in the first place. But records in the Archives indicates it will only be active for a few more hours. We must act quickly if they are ever to return.”
Anakin looked back toward the party, seeing Padme and Leia sitting on a bench. They were sitting leg to leg and smiling as they chatted. They looked like they could be sisters. Ahsoka was off talking to Satine’s nephew (who still looked suspiciously like Obi-Wan). Artoo was creating chaos as always, showing Luke and Han his rocket boosters. It was only a matter of time before he offered to give Luke a ride—which, if he had any sense of self-preservation, he would decline. For all his similarities to Padme, Luke was Anakin’s son too. He would absolutely want to go flying sitting on top of Artoo.
If they are ever to return. Maybe Anakin should just let time run out, and they could stay a family like this forever.
“Do you want me to tell them?” Obi-Wan asked after a moment.
Anakin pulled his gaze away, looking Obi-Wan in the eye. “Do we have to?”
“No,” Obi-Wan said. “But do you really want to keep them from their lives?”
Anakin sighed. “I can tell them.”
“I assume you want a moment to say your goodbyes?” Windu said.
Anakin nodded, holding back his thoughts. Now was not the time to start a fight.
“Very well,” Windu replied.
“Fast, you must be,” Yoda said as he walked away with Master Windu. “Much time, we do not have.”
Anakin tried not to shudder at the green troll’s voice. He was definitely going to need some therapy.
The goodbyes began. How do you say goodbye to your future children who haven’t even been conceived yet? Knowing they are going back to a universe where you are actively trying to kill them? Even Padme’s diplomacy skills couldn’t handle this.
Despite how momentous it was, it felt like a blur to Anakin. Obi-Wan quietly said a good-bye to both Luke and Leia before stepping back to give everyone more privacy. He had never been good with emotions.
Anakin felt frozen, sending a panicked look toward Padme, who looked back knowingly. She walked up to Luke first and hugged their son tightly like when they first met, his eyes tearing up. “Goodbye, Mom,” Anakin heard him mutter against her shoulder. She kissed him on the cheek and he squeezed his eyes shut, a few tears escaping.
Right after that, Leia walked over to Padme in uniform, controlled steps. She embraced her cautiously, only really hugging her after Padme whispered something in her ear. Leia gave out a short laugh before turning her head against Padme’s neck. Anakin knew she hid it well, but there was no mistaking Padme’s sniffle when they parted.
Anakin went to say goodbye to Han, so she had a moment to compose herself. He didn’t really want to hug him, so he clapped him on the shoulder the way he and Rex did.
“I meant what I said before. You’re a good man, Solo,” he said. “Take care of them.”
To Anakin’s amusement, Han blushed. He recovered quickly, but the tips of his ears were still pink. “I’ll do my best, but they can be pretty damn stubborn about getting into trouble sometimes.”
Obi-Wan had wandered back at some point, and laughed at Han’s comment. “If they’re anything like either of their parents, I wouldn’t expect anything less. Good luck.” He paused. “You’ll need it.”
Then the moment had come for Anakin to say goodbye to Luke and Leia.
Luke approached him first, immediately stepping in to hug him. Anakin was a bit surprised, but wasn’t going to question his son’s ability to forgive. He clearly took after Padme, and she was a much better person than Anakin could ever hope to be. He stood there for a while, marvelling both at Luke’s innate goodness and his height. Seriously, he was so small. Yet another sign he was Padme’s son.
Eventually, Luke stepped back, giving him a small smile. “You’ll see me again.”
“Luke,” Anakin began. “When you’re back, you’re probably going to have to confront Vader at some point.”
“I won’t kill him,” Luke insisted.
“I know,” Anakin assured. “But you might have to fight him. When you do, bring a container of sand—from Tatooine if you can. Throw it at him. Trust me.”
Luke nodded, taking his request completely seriously. Anyone from Tatooine knew sand was not to be joked about.
As Luke walked over to Masters Windu and Yoda with Han, Leia stayed behind. She approached Anakin cautiously, stopping about a foot away from him. He didn’t know what to do. Most of the time she had been there, she could hardly stand to look him in the eye. In fact, the closest he had been to her was when she had literally attacked him. How could he try to hug her right now?
Leia set her jaw, and Anakin was once again reminded of how much she looked like Padme. She stepped forward and pulled him into a stiff hug. Anakin didn’t know how to respond, and his first thought was how the top of her head didn’t even reach his chin. He leaned down so he could rest his head on top of hers, closing his eyes. Neither of them spoke, both too stubborn to break the silence first.
Leia pulled back first, smoothing her hands over her shirt. “Don’t mess this up,” she warned.
Anakin nodded, not trusting his voice. Then, giving one last glance at Padme, she turned around and left.
They were gone.
Obi-Wan and Ahsoka returned to the Temple soon after everyone had been sent back to their proper times, but Anakin and Padme stayed behind, staring at the spot their children had vanished into thin air.
Anakin held Padme close to his side, kissing the top of her head.
“So, you ready to start trying to make baby Luke and Leia?”