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Benediction

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“You’re married,” Obi-Wan said.

 

Splayed on the couch across from him, Anakin stirred a bit; his eyes didn’t open, but he shifted enough that Luke, nothing more than a tired bundle on his father’s chest, made a soft and startled little gurgle. Leia—the reason, of course, that the two of them were relegated to the living room—toddled over to her father with a squeal, attuned to even the smallest, most minute shifts in her family’s presence in the Force. Obi-Wan shouldn’t have expected a Skywalker to be anything less than gifted, but even then, the twins’ adeptness startled him from time to time. Such small presences in the Force, given that they were so young—he’d grown used to being at Anakin’s side, sharing the heart of the maelstrom of fire that was Anakin in the Force—but keen, far keener than most.

 

“I hadn’t noticed,” Anakin said, dryly.

 

It was, of course, a dull observation. Duller than usual; it was pushing four in the morning, and as often as Obi-Wan had gone without sleep during the Clone Wars, it was far more difficult when he was laying on his side, peacefully watching his—maybe he thought of her as a cranky little niece, granddaughter, something, there would be a word for it one day—while Anakin dozed, the happy little bundle of Luke weighing him down. The two of them were like a soft wind in the Force, a gentle, sleepy knot of light in front of him. All of Anakin’s fire was reduced to a controlled burn, a warm little campfire on a chilly night, topped off with the soft breeze of Luke, too small to hold a candle to his father’s power but his father was bound to his influence all the same. For her part, though, Leia was determined never to sleep again. Somehow it was more difficult to wait Leia out than it had been during several Separatist sieges; somehow, Obi-Wan’s eyelids were more heavy now, his limbs more boneless, on Padmé’s couch than they had been on countless battlefields.

 

A digital drawing of the scene by Tumblr user @symeona.

(image by @symeona on Tumblr)

 

Obi-Wan wouldn’t have had it any other way.

 

“I mean that you’re married,” Obi-Wan said.

 

Leia slapped Anakin’s arm several times, babbling. Anakin cracked an eye open. “Abiya,” he said, softly. One of the Huttese names of devotion Anakin preferred; and that, too, had been a surprise, buried in all of the shocks that had followed immediately after the twins were born, the cavalcade of sweet names Anakin had brought out just for them, seemingly out of nowhere. The truth was that it was maybe as close as Obi-Wan would ever come to meeting the woman who had raised Anakin when he was small. He had no idea what Shmi Skywalker had looked like, but he liked to think, looking at him blinking blearily at his daughter—he’d have met someone with a straight back and deep-set eyes, deceptively soft features hiding a deeper ferocity, who called her son abiya in a soft murmur, whatever it was that abiya meant.

 

“There are traditions of marriage, and you’re married,” Obi-Wan continued, trying, and failing, to suppress a yawn. Decades of Jedi countenance broken by a girl who had celebrated her first birthday a week ago. That was Leia Naberrie Skywalker—on her feet as soon as her legs would allow it, and not a moment later.

 

“I think you’re speaking in code,” Anakin said. Leia gurgled at him, flapping one of her hands at his face, and then turned and tumbled off unsteadily to one of the piles of blocks she’d been throwing about earlier, and returned to her father, holding it out with big and expectant dark eyes. Leia made a high whining noise, and the Force fluttered with flashes of her young, intense feeling; garbled and mostly wordless, just flashes of disjointed images, a sensation Obi-Wan would describe as desire.

 

Anakin extricated one of his arms from beneath Luke—who responded in the Force with a mild, exhausted frustration at his constantly-interrupted sleep—and plucked the block from her hands. “Thank you,” he said. “You should bring some to Obi-Wan.”

 

“Oh, I’ve certainly no need for blocks,” Obi-Wan said, waving a hand, but Leia’s head had already turned towards him and pinned him with a rapturous look.

 

“Bee,” she said.

 

“Do you mean Obi?” Anakin said, his voice pitched in that—odd, slow, cooing babytalk. Between Anakin and Padmé, Obi-Wan had come to believe it was an instinctive thing, for parents too croon in such ways at their children. Ahsoka had gotten fairly good at it, as well, and—try to fight it though he did—the urge often besieged Obi-Wan himself.

 

Leia looked between Anakin, and then back at Obi-Wan, and then back to Anakin, and said, loudly, “Bee. Beebee.”

 

Anakin’s face split into a grin, and he looked at Obi-Wan, delighted, having won some battle Obi-Wan hadn’t even realized they were fight. It had so much in common with Leia’s rapturous little glare that Obi-Wan’s breath was almost ripped from his chest. “I’m encouraging this,” Anakin said. “You need to know that I’m encouraging this.”

 

“Aren’t you supposed to be teaching her to say proper words,” Obi-Wan said, while Leia remembered her motivations, and started off once more towards her blocks.

 

“We’ll teach her to say every other word properly. You’re forever notarized as Uncle Beebee.”

 

Leia trotted back, pausing halfway through to be distracted by a swirl in the carpet’s pattern, and then forcefully offered Obi-Wan two brightly colored blocks in her pudgy little fists, that same eagerness bursting from her in the Force like a beacon. “Thank you for the kind donation,” Obi-Wan said, dryly, and with what felt like incredible effort, he took the blocks from her. This delighted Leia immensely, and she giggled high and clear like the sound of a bell.

 

“That’s Beebee, Leia,” Anakin said. His grin had not faded in the slightest. He looked like some prowling hound that had found carrion at last.

 

“Beebee,” Leia repeated, and Obi-Wan resigned himself to his fate.

 

Though, in truth, and though it would take immense—incredible—effort for him to admit to it out loud, Obi-Wan had gone by many names in his life; Master Kenobi, General Kenobi, Ben, but Uncle Beebee was perhaps his favorite by far.

 

“What is it that you’re on about,” Anakin said, while Leia continued to study Obi-Wan like she had never seen him before. She had that habit—staring, most especially when she was tired. But so, after all, did Anakin; maybe it was that Force adeptness, the uncanny ability to pick at a person, poke at their mind with a touch of the Force, that proved an insurmountable distraction for a tiny mind. Or maybe it was simply that neither of them had any manners to share between them.

 

“I mean to say,” Obi-Wan said, “that, generally, in a lot of cultures—in cultures across the galaxy, I mean, it’s certainly not only tradition on Coruscant, it’s—I don’t mean to be presumptuous.”

 

“How can you be presumptuous if you haven’t managed to say anything yet,” Anakin said, and pushed himself upright, cutting his eyes at the chrono on the wall. “It’s four? E chu ta, I didn’t mean to doze. Would it be bad parenting to try and use the Force to get my daughter to go to sleep?”

 

Obi-Wan stilled. My daughter, and the casual way Anakin said it now, and the reverent—nearly possessive—way he’d said it when he’d held Leia for the first time, on the best and worst night of Obi-Wan’s life. It had always been easy for Anakin to name his people, to slot them into places like puzzle pieces, but still it baffled Obi-Wan, how quickly he could adjust to it; a man who was a Jedi, and held all that passion close to his chest, and defended it like a dragon.

 

 “If it’ll work. I tried once with you, you know, when you were ten.”

 

Anakin cocked his head. “Did you? I don’t remember it. How did that go?”

 

“You stayed up twenty-four hours straight in what I think was a subconscious effort on your part to punish me,” Obi-Wan said.

 

“You earned it, old man. Gharmessa, eche’e gharmessa, little Leia—you can’t make Obi-Wan melt by staring at him, abiya, I’ve already tried.”

 

Leia’s head whirled, and, with a happy giggle, she stumbled off towards Anakin, who swept her up on his lap with his free arm in a smooth, easy motion. The Force spiked with a flood of hot annoyance. Luke let out a sharp cry, deeply displeased that his formerly peaceful sleep was now interrupted by his squirmier, louder sister.

 

“Lukkali,” Anakin murmured. “Easy, little star, easy. Abiya?”

 

Leia’s hands wrapped around Anakin’s fingers, gripping as tightly as she could; a deep undercurrent of the Force shifted, pulled, warm and slow and curled around her, just a thousandth of the near-cataclysmic power that ran in Anakin’s blood. Her eyelids drooped. Her head dipped forward, and then it was only Anakin’s hand holding her up. “Leia,” he cooed, softly.

 

Obi-Wan’s chest squeezed. Maybe it was something he treasured, these small moments where he was privy to such idle gentleness; maybe it was something he wondered at, and then held close to his chest, right next to his heart. A gift was a gift no matter where it came from, and the longer Obi-Wan lived, the more he came to believe that it was the greatest gifts alone that he would never see coming. “I’ll get Luke, if you can keep her asleep,” he said, pulling himself ever-so-slowly off the couch.

 

“He’d thank you for the rescue,” Anakin said.

 

Indeed, when Obi-Wan lifted Luke, there was a moment of broiling frustration that threatened to turn into a cry, before Obi-Wan leaned the tyke against his chest and there was a moment of sweet, intense emotion—warmth, and darkness, and peace, and the youngest kind of love, one that came from gentle touch and safety—before Luke slid back into his sleep, with a soft little groan.

 

Obi-Wan swallowed thickly. It had to be the hour. He wouldn’t otherwise carry this much sentiment. “I’ll put him down,” he said, ghosting a hand along the fluffy light hair growing thick on Luke’s scalp.

 

“I would follow you,” Anakin said, tapping a pattern on Leia’s back—a pattern that was unrecognizable to Obi-Wan, but seemed to have all the well-worn feeling of rote memorization—while she shifted slightly in her sleep, “but I don’t want to risk it yet. A few more minutes. Padmé will be awake, soon, anyway.”

 

“Alright,” Obi-Wan said, but he didn’t move. “About those customs.”

 

“I got married on Naboo, not Coruscant,” Anakin said, sourly.

 

“I’ve lived here all of my life, however,” Obi-Wan said. He huffed. “Anyway, that’s all—besides the point. My point lies elsewhere. I wanted to say that it—it’s a common courtesy, in my observations, that those close to the—couple—often offer… offerings.”

 

One of Anakin’s brows raised. “Offer offerings.”

 

“I wanted to give you a belated wedding present,” Obi-Wan said.

 

Anakin’s hand stilled over Leia’s back. “A wedding present?”

 

“Whatever you wanted,” Obi-Wan said, quietly. Luke let out a long breath in his sleep, and Obi-Wan thumbed the space beneath his eyes, the bridge of his nose—mapping a face that he’d seen hundreds of times, now, but couldn’t bring himself to love any less. He wondered, often, if Luke looked anything like Anakin had, if Luke would look anything like Anakin had, if Luke would look anything like Anakin did. If you are listening to me, Obi-Wan said to himself and the Force, you will never let this boy get taller than me, because I don’t think I’d ever hear the end of it.

 

There was a part of him, sick and aching, that wanted to say, you won’t live long enough to see it, but Obi-Wan wrestled it down in his own mind. The Clone Wars were over; the Sith were defeated; and, if he hadn’t died in all of that, then there was surely something he was meant to live for, and if there was one thing he wanted to live for, it was to be older and grayer and to watch the boy in his arms grow. If Luke would look anything like Anakin, Obi-Wan wanted to be there to see it himself.

 

“Whatever I wanted,” Anakin repeated, just as quiet. “Abiya, your Uncle Bee is a strange man.”

 

Obi-Wan scoffed. “You truly won’t let that go?”

 

“Not until I’m on my deathbed.”

 

“Stubborn,” Obi-Wan said, a fond smile curling the corners of his mouth. With that he shifted his weight, and shuffled deeper into Padmé’s apartment—which, despite her recent unprecedented promotion to Supreme Chancellor in the wake of the death of her predecessor, remained largely the same, given that a Jedi for a husband was about the best security anyone could ask for—towards the nursery, and the lovingly ornate cribs carved with Nabooian altache. He settled Luke into the plush interior, and turned to find Anakin had followed him to settle Leia into hers.

 

“Abiya,” Obi-Wan said, when Anakin had straightened, after a long moment spent adjusting her covers. “What does it mean?”

 

“What does it mean?” Anakin repeated, squinting.

 

“I know it must be Huttese,” Obi-Wan said. “I just—I don’t know. I’m a bit curious, I suppose. I’ve never heard it before.”

 

I know it must be Huttese, was what Obi-Wan had said, but what he truly meant was, I know it must be something your mother said.

 

Anakin scrubbed the back of his neck. “Huttese doesn’t have—words of love. It doesn’t have… benedictions. It’s kind of a cruel language. There’s a whole case for groveling and then—there’s really only the word for love.”

 

“And that’s abiya?” Obi-Wan said.

 

Anakin’s grin was crooked. “No. That’s luke. In the Tatooine dialect, at least, it’s luke. We used—things, mostly, to—you know.”

 

“Luke,” Obi-Wan said, tasting the word, looking down at the sleeping child he’d just been holding, one who carried his parents’ love for him in his name. For the first time in all his life, he wondered what his own name meant, and who it was who had given it to him.

 

“Abiya is the milk from a flowering cactus,” Anakin said. “It’s very sweet. And rare. I only ever had it once, with my—my mother.”

 

Obi-Wan turned to look at Anakin again. The expression on Anakin’s face was raw, intense, but Obi-Wan forced himself to look at it, out of respect for the memories of a woman he owed all of Anakin to; the one who had protected him, loved him, when Obi-Wan hadn’t known he had existed at all.

 

“It also means the morning rain,” Anakin said, waving a hand. “A lot of words in Huttese have many definitions. Abiya, though—it’s a relief. A respite. Pure joy.”

 

Obi-Wan swallowed around the burning in his throat. “I see,” he said, strangled.

 

Anakin looked away, his throat bobbing. “Luke only has the one definition, though. There’s only one word derived from it, too, lukkali. Noun and a verb. A krayt dragon whelp, or—krayt dragons, the mothers, their carry their whelps in their mouths, because there’s no place on Tatooine that’s safer, so it’s also the act of doing that.”

 

Obi-Wan smothered a smile. “You call your son a baby dragon?”

 

Anakin scowled. “You’re the one who asked. You didn’t have to know anything.”

 

“I wasn’t passing judgement,” Obi-Wan said, lightly. “But it is very much like you, I should think. I was just curious about the names.”

 

Anakin’s brows furrowed. “Why would it matter to you?”

 

Obi-Wan rolled his shoulders. “Why wouldn’t it? I’m the erstwhile uncle, aren’t I? That makes your children—my family, as well, then. And I was—curious.”

 

Anakin’s eyes were shining. “Tell me why.”

 

It was the hour. Surely, it was the hour; when Obi-Wan had slept, some control would be returned to him. If he were at all what he had been meant to be, he would bat Anakin’s request down, he would turn on his heel, he would leave. Meditate and try to unlatch that burning thing in his chest and throat, let it flood into the Force and leave him—but then, what would be left? What would be the point of his—husk of a body, with none of this exhausting, infernal, powerful lightness inside of him? Did he want to be the man who felt nothing beside Anakin’s maelstrom, a towering crown fire with funnels of heat and embers peeling into the sky, or did he want to be the man who felt at least this much, the warm slant of sunlight in his blood?

 

“When you were a boy, I used to create all sorts of names in my head, to avoid the one I truly wanted to call you,” Obi-Wan said, softly. “The one I always came back to was little sun. That’s how you felt, in the Force. The words I was looking for—little brother.”

 

There was a shriek and then a barrel of shadow and then Anakin collided with Obi-Wan, and—to Obi-Wan’s everlasting horror—felt that he was spun around briefly before being dropped back on the ground, blinking in shock at Anakin’s rapturous face. He looked halfway between the excitement of his grin and the mania of his eyes, an intensity that had always made Obi-Wan uncomfortable, and Obi-Wan was struck with the sudden thought that this must have been how Anakin had looked at Padmé, shortly before the twins were born. Absolute, incandescent delight, warring with—whatever the beast was that warred within Anakin. The dragon in him that had orchestrated Anakin on his knees in front of the golden-eyed Chancellor, the same dragon that was the artist behind the same Chancellor’s death that same night.

 

“I would do anything you ask,” Anakin said, deathly quiet, “if you would say that again.”

 

Obi-Wan reached out—tentatively—and clasped his shoulder. “You’ve never listened to me before in your life, you heinous creature,” he said. “Why should you start now?”

 

And then Obi-Wan’s hand, propelled by something he couldn’t define, cupped the back of Anakin’s neck, and his head fell onto Obi-Wan’s shoulder, slumping in a boneless, weakened way. The Force around Anakin prodded at him, all that heat and pressure, condensed like a star, like one that promised to become a supernova—and Obi-Wan ignored it, and pulled his own soft, slanting sunlight closer to the both of them, for a moment of peace. He wondered, idly, if such a moment, if such a place, was ever what Qui-Gon had intended, when he’d pulled Anakin out of the sands.

 

“The wedding present,” Anakin mumbled, muffled by Obi-Wan’s shoulder, “the wedding present. This is it.”

 

Obi-Wan scoffed, and flicked the back of his head. “I’ll give you a proper one. I don’t particularly know what this is, but it isn’t a wedding present.”

 

“I consider it a gift.”

 

“You have profoundly bad taste,” Obi-Wan said, even as his heart warmed, even as that warmth threatened to overtake him.

 

Anakin pulled out of his arms. Obi-Wan missed it, in the back of his mind, the weight of him. “Then I want to go lockjaw racing,” he said, and the combination of his obstinance and tired, teary eyes made Obi-Wan want to laugh.

 

“Lockjaw racing,” Obi-Wan repeated.

 

Anakin nodded. “Yes. It’s the only thing you’ll have a chance to beat me at, and I want it to be at least a little bit of a challenge.”

 

“Incorrigible,” Obi-Wan said, fondly.

 

If this place, this time—this family—wasn’t what Qui-Gon had foreseen, wasn’t what Qui-Gon had wanted, then Obi-Wan decided, then and there, that maybe Qui-Gon had the wrong idea. There wasn’t a reality in all of the realities that the Force was the architect of that could be better than the one he was living now.