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The Adventures of Kitten Anakin

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A thick layer of mist concealed the treetops of the jungle planet Asinonyk as Anakin flew in on his Aethersprite, searching for both a clearing to land in and any sign of Separatist activity. The tip of a vine-encrusted pyramid was the only thing visible above the mist - an abandoned Jedi temple supposedly containing artifacts that could swing the tide of the Clone War in favor of the Republic. Obi-Wan had picked up a rumor that Count Dooku was interested in them, so Anakin was on a scouting mission to make sure the Sith hadn’t gotten to them first.

 

“See anything?” he asked Artoo over the comms.

 

Artoo beeped a negative, indicating that there was no trace of any other ships on the planet, Separatist or others.

 

“Okay, let’s try landing in that clearing off to the left,” Anakin decided, decelerating and engaging the thrusters in preparation for landing. Artoo’s response was a skeptical blat, but he didn’t try to steal controls from Anakin, which meant he was in agreement.

 

Playful wisps of mist curled around the edges of the ship as they sank beneath the treeline, a reflection of the way the Force ebbed and flowed throughout the jungle, centered around the Jedi temple in the distance. The gentle thump of the Aethersprite’s landing startled a few bird-like creatures into the air, but other than that the dark jungle was unchanged and unimpressed by Anakin’s arrival. Anakin jumped out of the cockpit and paused to take a few deep breaths as his boots sank into the forest floor, letting his lungs adjust to the switch from sterile, cycled air to the thick, humid air of the jungle.

 

“I shouldn’t be gone for too long,” Anakin said once he was done, patting Artoo just above his photoreceptor.

 

Artoo whirred back that he had a taser and wasn’t afraid to use it if Anakin wasn’t back before night fell.

 

Anakin snorted. “Alright buddy, I’ll be careful.”

 

There were no obvious paths or other signs of civilization beyond the temple in the distance, so Anakin plunged into the depths of the jungle at a spot that felt right, trusting the Force to lead him to the temple. Barely any light escaped through the thick canopy, and the hoots and hollers of the animals echoed through the trees, making it seem as if he was surrounded by hostile creatures. After the third time he tripped over an obstacle on the ground, Anakin turned on his lightsaber. The blue light threw the surrounding trees into an eerie light, and all sound ceased. The playful eddies of the Force gained a watchful edge, which grew the closer he got to the temple.

 

Anakin didn’t even realized he’d reached the pyramid until something sparkled under the blue light. A few careful slices of the vines revealed a metal statuette of some sort of feline - with six forelimbs, horns that curled back behind and around its ears, a forked tail, no claws, and opposable thumbs to separate it from the typical cat - set into a carved recess in the stone of the temple. The Force hadn’t changed from the watchful state, but Anakin couldn’t feel any sort of indication of danger, so he returned his lightsaber to his belt and carefully pulled the statuette out, figuring it might be one of the artifacts he had been sent for. If not, it was the sort of gift Padmé would appreciate, full of history and utterly unique- after he made sure it was okay with Obi-Wan first.

 

A slight tingle in his flesh hand was the first indication that something was going wrong. A moment later, the tingle shifted into the sadly familiar feeling of being electrocuted. The statuette fell from his hands as Anakin crumpled to the ground, riding out the pain the best he could. Once it was over, his body felt like one giant muscle cramp, bruised and aching. Still, it was nothing he wasn’t used to, so he pushed himself to his feet in order to stagger back to the Aethersprite.

 

Or, well, he tried to.

 

Anakin couldn’t see very well in the gloom, and nothing seemed to work right, joints complaining when he tried to sit up, legs getting tangled up in something attached to his spine that hurt when he tugged on it, prosthetic hand just gone. Something heavy had draped itself over him while he’d been recovering from the electrocution, possibly a giant leaf, but it was keeping him from standing upright along with the horrible cramps.

 

It was impossible for Anakin to determine how much time had passed while he swam out from under whatever was pinning him down as the forest was still dark and gloomy, but it felt like it had been a while. If he couldn’t get back to the Aethersprite soon, Artoo would either be calling in the cavalry or would come charging in himself. Probably both, knowing him. Anakin awkwardly reached out with his flesh hand to call his lightsaber to him with the Force. He could feel the Force curl around his lightsaber, delighting in the kyber crystal, as it flew towards him, but something about it was off. Before he could figure out just what it was, though, his lightsaber hit first his hand and then his face.

 

Obi-Wan could never find out about this.

 

He groaned and tried to push himself to his feet once the pain and cramping had passed, pushing passed the nagging sense that something was wrong besides the ancient statuette that electrocuted people. It was only when Anakin gave up trying to stand and flopped back down that he began to consider that something had gone drastically wrong.

 

The darkness made it difficult to see clearly, but it definitely wasn’t as dark as it had been when he walked to the temple. Therefore, when Anakin looked from his lightsaber to his hand and back again, he noticed a rather severe size change. As in, his lightsaber now looked as if it was about as big as him, rather than sized for his hand. So, either that statuette had seriously messed with his brain somehow, or it had shrunk him and probably done something else awful to him as well.

 

Anakin liked to think he knew better than to go around shouting in an unfamiliar forest with only a droid as his backup, so he was very careful not to turn the air blue with curses when he squinted at his hand and saw a paw instead. After a much closer and more careful investigation, Anakin determined that he now had three legs, a tail, whiskers, strong ears on top of his head, eyes that could penetrate the gloom of the forest much better than before, fur, and retractable claws.

 

Oh Force, the statue had somehow turned him into a cat.

 

How was he supposed to pilot his starship now? He wouldn’t even be able to reach the controls, much less use them without thumbs. He wouldn’t be able to use his lightsaber either, as it was currently way too big for him to even lift, let alone use. As were his clothes. Great.

 

Anakin squeaked in frustration a few times and clawed up some of the dirt before he turned in a circle a few times and curled up on his clothes in order to think. He was now tiny and nearly defenseless, so he would need a plan to get back to his ship. Once he was there, he could set off the distress beacon and have someone come and pick him up. It would be embarrassing, but at least he would be able to get help. First, though, he needed to figure out a way to survive the jungle.

 

Wait, hadn’t Artoo mentioned something about coming in after him if he wasn’t finished by sunset? Of course, the droid had couched it along the lines of chasing after him in order to use his taser, but the sentiment had been there. Well, then all Anakin would have to do was wait for Artoo to come after him and hitch a ride out with him. After all the combat he’d been in, the droid was more than a match for any jungle. In fact, Anakin pitied any wildlife that tried to pick a fight.

 

His plan to get back to the ship formed, Anakin now just needed to survive long enough for Artoo to find him. He was, after all, a baby animal alone in the wilderness, his only immediate ally the Force. It would be pathetically easy for him to be killed and eaten by any of the predators here if he let his guard down.

 

And so Anakin cracked his connection to the Force open as wide as he could stand it without his mind drifting away from his body, in a way he’d never been able to do around any other Jedi for fear they’d be overwhelmed by his presence. He’d done this only once before, when he’d just become a Padawan and was learning how to meditate, and four younglings in the lesson had passed out. Anakin himself had been one of them, the emotions of all the sentients on Coruscant too much for him to handle. Now, though, he was the only Force-sensitive in the area for him to worry about.

 

It was almost overwhelming, the sheer amount of information that poured into his head. This planet was teeming with life, and the Living Force was dominant here, almost drowning out the faint echoes of the Light Side left over in the temple. Using the temple as a focus point, Anakin slowly pulled his awareness in from the entire planet to the area around him. It was a good thing there were no sentients on the planet, otherwise it would have taken him even longer.

 

As it was, Anakin barely registered the feline, which greatly resembled the statuette that had turned him into a cat, that dropped from the canopy to investigate him in time to muster up an effective defense. His fur standing on end, Anakin hissed and swiped at the grasping paw before it could get too close to him. The creature shrieked back at him in outrage, as if shocked that something it considered prey would dare to strike back. Which was ridiculous; prey animals were usually the most vicious when being hunted. Anakin pushed the animal back with the Force, accidentally misjudging how much effort he would need to use in his tiny new body and launching his opponent into the canopy.

 

Come to think of it, that was probably why his lightsaber had smacked him in the face earlier.

 

The creature didn’t venture back, and so Anakin was able to spend the rest of his wait in a trance, monitoring his surroundings for Artoo.

 

The droid came barreling into the clearing with all the subtlety of a shipwreck burning upon re entry to an atmosphere, his taser alit. Artoo froze upon seeing the piles of clothing, prosthetic arm unattached to Anakin’s arm, and lightsaber lying on the ground. Then he whistled sharply, a call for Anakin to stop with the pranks and get out here right now.

 

Anakin tried to communicate back in binary, but his words came out twisted by his rough tongue, sharp teeth, and biological vocal cords so that he claimed to be a bantha-milk chef rather than telling Artoo he’d been turned into a kitten. Still, that seemed to be enough for Artoo to realize that something was up with him, even if the droid didn’t guess the truth. Jedi turning into kittens was a little far fetched. If Anakin hadn’t been living it, he never would have believed it.

 

Artoo tucked the lightsaber away into the special compartment Anakin had built for it then scooped up his clothes and prosthetic with a claw and beeped out an order for him to follow. Best droid ever.

 

The trip back was uneventful, and Artoo set up the distress beacon to seek out the nearest Jedi ship. After that, all they had to do was wait. Anakin closed his connection to the Force and curled up in his seat for a much needed nap.

 

Anakin was woken up by a large hand wrapping around his belly and lifting him in the air. He reflexively hissed and dug his claws into the hand, but it didn’t release him. Anakin reached out to the Force to help him before he realized that it was Fives that had picked him up.

 

“Kark, that hurt,” Fives cursed, dumping Anakin back onto the seat of his starfighter and cradling his hand to his chest.

 

Artoo laughed.

 

“Well, what did you expect? You startled the little guy,” Rex said, also amused by Fives.

 

Anakin immediately perked up and tried to say “Rex!” but all that came out was a small meow.

 

“You gotta make sure you support their butts when you pick them up,” Rex continued as he carefully scooped Anakin up as if to demonstrate. “Otherwise they’ll get scared and lash out.”

 

Anakin meowed indignantly, prepared to jump back down to his seat, except then Rex started scratching behind his ears. It felt really nice. He didn’t mean to start purring and settle down into Rex’s hand, which was almost as big as he was, but he did. It was very easy to feel safe now that his comrades and friends were here.

 

“How do you know so much about taking care of kittens?” Fives asked.

 

“The Commander smuggled one on board a few months ago. I helped her take care of it until we found it a new home,” Rex explained.

 

Anakin would have made a note to make Ahsoka meditate on the foolishness of keeping cute baby animals from him, except he was too comfortable to want to inflict such torment on her.

 

“I couldn’t find any sign of Anakin,” Ahsoka said as she jogged out of the jungle, her shoulders slumped. “It’s like he just disappeared, but I can still feel him in the Force.”

 

Anakin immediately perked up. He could tell Ahsoka what happened through the Force, and she would be able to hear him through their bond. He reached out along the bond, sending waves of happiness, as they hadn’t worked on it enough to send words. Ahsoka froze, glancing around as if he might emerge from the jungle at any second.

 

“Master,” she yelled back at the jungle. “Master, where are you?”

 

Anakin meowed in response.

 

Artoo beeped at Rex, attempting an explanation.

 

He felt more than heard Rex’s surprised intake of breath.

 

“General Skywalker?” Rex asked as he carefully raised Anakin up so that he was level with the Captain’s face.

 

Anakin nodded and reached out to gently bop Rex on the nose. Finally, someone besides Artoo recognized him!

 

“Oh kriff, that’s the General,” Fives exclaimed, horrified. “Commander, we found him!”

 

Ahsoka’s eyes widened when she saw Fives gesturing at him, carefully cradled in Rex’s hands. Then she burst into laughter.

 

“How in the Force, Master,” she giggled. “Just, how?”

 

Anakin grumbled at her, but had no way to explain about the statue and so settled for glaring. Maybe he should revisit that meditation idea.

 

“Fives, contact General Kenobi and brief him on the situation. Commander, I think you should take General Skywalker now,” Rex said, taking charge of the situation while the two Jedi were indisposed.

 

Anakin was carefully handed over to Ahsoka, who immediately brought him up to eye level.

 

“You make a really cute kitten, Master,” she said, a barely suppressed grin tugging at the corners of her mouth.

 

Anakin meowed and rubbed his head against her arm. Ahsoka was family and needed to be marked as such. Come to think of it, maybe he should have made sure some of his scent got on Fives and Rex - wait no. Humans didn’t scent mark people. Oh Force, he was starting to think like a cat. That statuette was bad news, and as soon as they got back to the temple he was telling someone about it even if he had to use badly accented Binary to do so.

 

Ahsoka tucked him into the crook of her arm and patted him with her other hand while they waited for Fives to get done updating with Obi-Wan. Hopefully his old Master had heard of something like this before. Otherwise they were going to have to spend a lot of time in the Archives.

 

Still, maybe he had time for a quick nap while they waited. He was really comfortable, and it probably couldn’t hurt.

 

0o0o0

 

Anakin blinked his eyes open and meowed in a questioning tone when he felt Ahsoka move.

 

“It’s alright, Anakin, I’m just sitting down,” Ahsoka soothed, running her hand down his spine once before turning back to whatever it was she had been doing before she woke him up.

 

Anakin huffed and tucked his feet underneath his body. Hopefully Ahsoka would start petting him again soon. It was her duty as his Padawan, now that he’d been turned into a kitten without an immediate way back to his old body.

 

“Master Obi-Wan said he wants you to come back to Coruscant so the Healers can make sure you’re okay,” Ahsoka continued. “I’m taking us there while Rex rounds up the rest of the 501st, and Fives is taking care of your Aethersprite .”

 

Anakin’s ears flattened against his head. Fives had better be careful with his ship. Obi-Wan was going to laugh at him for being careless around unknown artifacts and ending up a kitten, he just knew it. And oh Force, what would Padmé do once she heard?

 

“Hey, Skyguy, it’ll be okay,” Ahsoka said, picking up on his distress. “Master Obi-Wan will know what to do.”

Chapter Text

Anakin settled in on Ahsoka’s lap for the jump back to Coruscant. He closed his eyes, planning on napping for most of it, only wake up back in the jungle again. Either the retrieval team had been a stress-induced hallucination, or he had dropped straight into a Force vision. Based on the fact that there was no sound coming from the jungle and streams of tiny, golden lights flowed just beneath the treetops, Anakin was going to go with Force vision. It was surprisingly lucid for a vision, though. Usually they were just flashes of future pain and suffering.

 

A familiar, eight-legged feline dropped down from the trees. Anakin flexed his claws and tensed, preparing for the same sort of hostility he’d experienced earlier from it.

 

Instead of attacking, though, the feline sat down, staring at him with implacable, endless blue eyes. “Anakin Skywalker,” it said, its voice reverberating through the forest, with deeper and higher undertones to its androgynous pitch making it impossible to determine what gender the creature was. The glowing lights flashed in time with its voice.

 

“What do you want?” he asked, forgetting for a moment that he was a kitten and therefore shouldn’t be able to speak.

 

“Child of the desert,” it continued as if he’d never said anything. “You have been chosen.”

 

Anakin sighed. Great, another Force entity insisting he was the Chosen One. As if the whole Mortis situation hadn’t been bad enough.

 

“What do you want ?” he repeated, suddenly angry. As if turning him into a kitten and disrupting his life hadn’t been bad enough, now this thing wanted to demand something from him. Well, he didn’t feel like cooperating.

 

The creature shrugged. “It is not a matter of what we want. It is a matter of what has been given to you.”

 

Anakin narrowed his eyes, suspicious of the creature. Nobody gave him anything for free; there was always a catch.

 

“It is also a matter of whether or not you are worthy of what has been given,” it continued.

 

And there it was.

 

“How am I supposed to know if I’m worthy of this gift?” Anakin asked, suddenly tired of this whole affair. He wished he’d never come here, that this mission had been assigned to someone, anyone else.

 

The feline stood and began to circle him. Anakin watched it with fatigued eyes. He knew what a predator looked like when it was considering whether its prey was worth pursuing.

 

“Do you know what it means to have ultimate power?”

 

Oh. This is a test. Great, he thought he was done with those once he became a Knight, but apparently not.

 

If Anakin had ultimate power, he would keep everyone safe, make sure no one gets hurt. People had told him before that, as the Chosen One, he had more raw power than the majority of the Jedi. It sure didn’t feel like it when he couldn’t even save his mom, though.

 

“Ultimate power means that you’re strong enough to protect people from anything,” Anakin said.

 

The feline keeps circling. “An interesting answer. If you can figure out what the most destructive and beautiful thing for any sentient is then maybe you will be worthy of the gift that has been chosen for you.”

 

“Wait, what do you mean?” Was this creature incapable of giving straight answers?

 

The jungle around him began to fade out into a gray mist. The last thing he saw before he woke was the feline’s eyes, glowing a bright blue.

 

0o0o0

 

Anakin felt discomfited by his vision, but he was tired enough to try and nap for the rest of the flight, waking up occasionally when Ahsoka scratched behind his ears. He’d been doing a lot of napping since being turned into a kitten. Maybe the transformation had sapped more energy than he’d thought. Of course, his tiredness could also be because he’d opened himself up to more of the Force than usual or because he was in the body of an baby animal, and babies needed more sleep than adults.

 

He was very hungry by the time they got back to the Jedi Temple, a feeling which he shared with Ahsoka through their bond. It was probably another side effect of whatever was making him so tired.

 

She snickered and said “Alright, Master, let’s drop off your stuff and then go see if the commissary has any food for us.” before jumping out of the cockpit.

 

He carefully clambered after her, only to be swooped up and deposited up between her montrals. It was a very precarious position, and Anakin had to fight against his reflexive desire to dig in his claws to get a better grip. Masters were not to hurt their Padawans, after all, unless it was through extra katas or meditation.

 

They drew numerous stares as they walked through the halls from other Jedi. Anakin shot them baleful glares until they looked away and emitted a general prickly feeling in the Force. He didn’t want to take the risk that they would try to pet him, and he was still a little miffed from the encounter in his vision.

 

They made a quick detour to their rooms to leave his clothes, prosthetic, and lightsaber somewhere safe before heading to the commissary for something to eat. There was only one problem with their plan: they had no idea what was actually healthy for a kitten to eat.

 

“Cats are carnivores, right?” Ahsoka piled a rare steak onto her plate and poked at another one.

 

Anakin sent her a feeling of dubiousness. He wasn’t fully grown yet, and that steak looked like it was as big as he was.

 

They poked around the food selections a little more, but ultimately had to face the truth: they had no idea what Anakin could safely eat.

 

“Don’t worry, Skyguy, I’ve got an idea,” Ahsoka said, heading towards the nearest holonet terminal and leaving her plate behind. A quick search later, and she was pulling up a diagram of what kittens could safely eat by age. “Looks like kittens only drink milk until they’re four weeks old. Do you feel younger than four weeks?”

 

Anakin jumped down onto the terminal and shot her the most deadpan glare he could. It wasn’t a very impressive glare considering he was a fluffy kitten, but it was the principle of the thing. He was twenty two years old, no matter what his body looked like.

 

“You’re right, you look a lot older than that. Maybe two months, which means you can eat meat, as long as it isn’t raw.”

 

There were very few people in the commissary when they returned, so Ahsoka and Anakin were able to settle in and eat in peace, Ahsoka with her steak that was so rare it was almost bloody and Anakin with a small pile of torn up chunks of meat, just as rare. It tasted delicious, and once he’d finished, the feeling of a full belly was making him sleepy again.

 

Their peace was interrupted when a group of younglings entered the commissary, chattering loudly about their lightsaber class. Anakin’s ears flattened back against his head and he tried jumping down onto Ahsoka’s lap to hide, but it was too late. They had seen him, and there would be no escape.

 

“Padawan Tano, where did you get a kitty?” one of them, a Tholothian, asked brightly after approaching the table.

 

“Can we hold it?” the Rodian girl asked before Ahsoka could answer, widening her eyes pitifully. “Please?”

 

Anakin looked up at Ahsoka, silently begging her to say no. Ahsoka’s smirk was downright evil.

 

“Yeah, of course you can hold him. This little guy is the sweetest kitten ever, he loves children,” she said as she scooped him up and handed him to the Wookiee youngling.

 

“He’s so tiny and fluffy!” the Wookiee howled in Shyriiwook.

 

“Can I hold him next, Gungi?” the Rodian asked.

 

Gungi patted Anakin’s head very roughly before passing him to the Rodian, who squeezed him so tightly he thought his ribs were going to crack. Anakin tried to escape the minute her grip loosened, not wanting to be injured any further.

 

“Oops, careful guys. You don’t want to hurt him,” Ahsoka cautioned as she rescued him from the younglings.

 

“Aw, I wanted to hold him,” the Ithorian burbled.

 

Anakin hunkered down into the relative safety of Ahsoka’s arm, resisting the urge to hiss at them. Jedi younglings should know better than to handle small animals so roughly. What if he’d been an actual kitten?

 

“We have to go see Master Kenobi right now, but maybe once we’re done we’ll come see you guys again,” Ahsoka said.

 

Anakin sent a fierce denial at his Padawan through their bond. They would not be seeing any younglings until they learned the proper way to hold small animals.

 

The younglings pouted while he and Ahsoka left the commissary.

 

“Sorry, Master,” Ahsoka whispered to him once they were alone. “I thought they would be more careful than that.”

 

Anakin glared at Ahsoka for a moment, then rubbed his face against her arm and meowed to let her know that all was forgiven. It wasn’t as if she had been the one to teach them, and he’d played worse pranks on Obi-Wan when he’d been a padawan. That time with the gundark had been especially comical.

 

“Although, I can’t wait to see what Master Obi-Wan has to say about all this.”

 

0o0o0

 

As it turned out, Obi-Wan thought Anakin’s situation was hilarious. It took him a good five minutes to stop laughing.

 

“I’m sorry, Anakin, but a kitten? How? Just, how?” he asked through giggles.

 

Anakin squeaked at him in an annoyed fashion.

 

Obi-Wan took a few deep breaths to calm down and then replied “I suggest we check the Archives to see if there’s anything more about the temple you were investigating that might have caused this.”

 

Anakin clawed his way up to Obi-Wan’s shoulder, claiming it as his perch.

 

“Anakin, no, get down from there,” Obi-Wan scolded.

 

Anakin meowed pitifully. He was comfortable here. Obi-Wan had a broad shoulder and his beard was scratchy. He rubbed his head against Obi-Wan’s beard a few times.

 

Obi-Wan’s shoulder shifted underneath Anakin’s feet as he sighed.

 

“Fine, you can stay there. But only until Ahsoka finishes with her meditation.”

 

Anakin started purring.

 

0o0o0

 

Anakin was greatly enjoying the research that Obi-Wan was doing. All he had to do was open the page he’d used for basic research on Asinonyk, sit on Obi-Wan’s shoulder and meow encouragingly every once in awhile. Obi-Wan would pet him occasionally, if he got too deep in his research to notice his surroundings. It was a very nice place to nap. Anakin could feel some of the stress he had been carrying around since the beginning of the war fade away.

 

Of course, then he couldn’t help but think back to what had happened the last time he had fallen asleep on someone and the vision. The creature had seemed satisfied by his answer on what he thought someone with ultimate power should do, but he had no idea what the last question was about. How could something be destructive and beautiful, but only for sentients? Whenever Anakin thought about something with both of those qualities, he thought about a natural disaster, like a storm, or the Force, or the way Padmé could be when she was tearing apart her enemies, or how Obi-Wan stood at the front of an army, deflecting blaster bolts back at their shooters. Something told him that wasn’t the answer, though, or at least not all of it.

 

He wondered what Obi-Wan might think was the answer to the riddle. Maybe something like death, with how it was destructive to the lives of those left behind but beautiful because the deceased became one with the Force. That seemed like a typical Jedi answer anyways, and Obi-Wan was always the perfect Jedi.

 

“Well,” Obi-Wan said finally, leaning back in his chair and pulling Anakin from his shoulder with some difficulty. Anakin’s claws had gotten a little stuck in Obi-Wan’s clothes. “It looks like the Temple you were investigating on Asinonyk was created by a small group of Jedi who split from the Order due to disagreements over the rule of attachments.”

 

Anakin blinked at Obi-Wan. That was an interesting fact, but he didn’t see what it had to do with his current situation. There wasn’t even any mention of the strange statuette. Also, it didn’t explain why the Separatists had been interested in it or how a statuette could turn him into a kitten. It was too bad they had broken their bond when Anakin had been Knighted, otherwise he would have been able to provide more detail about the temple.

 

“Stop looking at me like that; I would need to do a few more days of research and probably visit the temple itself before I could come to a hypothesis about what happened to you,” Obi-Wan sighed, slumping. He rubbed a hand over his eyes.

 

Anakin stopped thinking about the temple and focused on Obi-Wan, who smelled funny, like stress and the dregs of adrenaline and grief. Anakin probably would never have realized how badly the war was affecting his old Master if he couldn’t smell it like this. Obi-Wan was so good at concealing his emotions, at being the picture perfect Jedi, that Anakin sometimes forgot that Obi-Wan could feel things very deeply.

 

Obi-Wan deserved better than to have to constantly scramble to keep up with the war effort. Anakin felt bad for dumping his situation on Obi-Wan’s shoulders as well, but Obi-Wan was the only one he could trust to help him.

 

Anakin butted his head against Obi-Wan’s hand, silently trying to offer some comfort. It wasn’t Obi-Wan’s fault that he couldn’t find anything, and he shouldn’t be beating himself up about it. Anakin was too small to make Obi-Wan sit and rest, but maybe he could use trickery and cuteness to get Obi-Wan to stay in the Temple for a few weeks.

 

For a moment, Anakin hated being stuck as a kitten. Before this, he hadn’t truly minded it, beyond the vague annoyance that comes with being limited to this form, but now the limitations were too much. He couldn’t speak, he couldn’t fight, he couldn’t do anything but be cute and fluffy and share his emotions with people in an attempt to get his point across. It had been working so far, but he was under no illusions about how well it would work in the future. He wanted to offer Obi-Wan more than silent comfort, he wanted to tell him about the vision he’d had leaving the planet, he wanted to be able to communicate in ways that didn’t involve heavily accented binary. Even typing out what he wanted to say was such a long and laborious process that he wouldn’t be able to fit all he wanted to say in time for it to be useful.

 

And then he was done with his feelings of hatred, bottling them up until he could unleash them on some unsuspecting Separatist droids as soon as he was human again. Obi-Wan was too tired to deal with his problems efficiently right now, so it was in Obi-Wan’s best interest to stay in the Temple and get some rest for a while. Since he couldn’t communicate this, Anakin would just have to use his brain and, yes, his cuteness to try and manipulate Obi-Wan into staying.

 

“I’ll have to report this to the Council; they’ll want to know why you can’t go back into the field,” Obi-Wan said, running his hand over Anakin’s head. Something about being a kitten made it a lot easier for people to touch him, and Anakin was not complaining about it.

 

Anakin sighed heavily and curled up in Obi-Wan’s lap, worn out just by the thought of interacting with the Council. Normally he was perfectly fine with being confrontational, but this day had been anything but normal. Hopefully he wouldn’t have to face any of them. Master Windu would probably be unbearably smug.

Chapter Text

Master Windu was not, in fact, unbearably smug about Anakin being turned into a kitten. In fact, he seemed to be wholly disbelieving of Obi-Wan’s report.

 

“If this is a joke, Master Kenobi, then it is not a very funny one. Knight Skywalker being unfit for duty is no laughing matter,” he said.

 

Most of the Council members were too busy with the Clone War to meet with Obi-Wan, so it was a more informal meeting that had been called, consisting of Obi-Wan and three other Council members: Master Windu, Master Yoda, and Master Ti. Once Obi-Wan’s information had been presented, it would be discussed in a meeting with the full Jedi Council, with the other three serving to verify Obi-Wan’s statement.

 

Obi-Wan sighed, his shoulder moving up and down and nearly disturbing Anakin from his perch. “Masters, I only wish I was joking. Anakin has been turned into a kitten; Padawan Tano confirmed it using their training bond. I myself have felt him use the Force.”

 

“Perhaps a demonstration is in order,” Master Ti suggested. “That will at least prove that the kitten in question is able to use the Force, and a Mind Healer familiar with Knight Skywalker would be able to confirm whether or not the kitten is the Knight in question.”

 

Anakin really did not like being referred to as ‘the kitten’ - it harkened back to Watto always calling him ‘the boy’. He had a name; turning into a kitten didn’t change that.

 

Obi-Wan seemed to have picked up on his feelings, if not the reason behind them, because he looked down at Anakin and raised an eyebrow. Unable to resist a bit of his new feline instincts, Anakin butted his cheek against Obi-Wan’s and then leapt down onto the floor in one jump and sauntered over to the center of the chamber.

 

What to do with the Force, though? Most things he routinely did were used in combat, what with the war on, or for personal reflection. Summoning another person’s lightsaber was considered a little rude, so it would probably be for the best if he avoided doing that. Or maybe not. A lot of the Council members thought he had absolutely no manners whatsoever, so doing something rude would be playing right into their notions of who Anakin Skywalker, Chosen One, was.

 

Obi-Wan’s lightsaber was the one he was most familiar with, so Anakin reached out to the way the Force curled around the kyber crystal and coaxed it into flying towards him. He ducked at the last moment, remembering his last attempt at summoning a lightsaber in kitten form, and managed to avoid any injuries.

 

The Council chamber was dead silent for a moment as they all stared at him, most probably just realizing that Obi-Wan’s claims were no joke.

 

Master Yoda was the first to break the silence, chortling to himself. “With the Force, truly impossible, nothing is. Expect this, none of us did, but believe it to be true, I do. Call for the Mind Healer now, we must.”

 

While they waited for the Mind Healer to arrive, Anakin curled up where he sat and stared at the various members of the Council, laughing internally at their expressions. If Master Windu had been the reactive type, his jaw would have been hanging open wide enough to snare a bantha. As it was, the wide-eyed expression he was currently sporting had the same effect. It was an image Anakin would savor for the rest of his life. Master Ti was used to dealing with young clone antics, so she didn’t show any shock, at least, not to anyone without any experience with togruta. His experience with Ahsoka let him catch a few hints that she too was shocked that he could use the Force.

 

The Council called for Nikado Frenn, the Mind Healer that Anakin had met with when he first came to the Temple. It was the only time Anakin had ever met with one, as they were usually in high demand. Master Frenn was a Draethos, a tall species with large overbites, blue, black, or purple skin, and pronounced telepathic abilities. It was the last part that made them excellent at Mind Healing, as they could communicate with anyone in a five hundred meter range without the developed Force bond that most Jedi needed.

 

“Thank you for joining us, Master Frenn. We appreciate that you took the time to meet with us, but it is imperative that you keep the contents of this meeting a secret,” Master Windu said.

 

“I am at the command of the Council,” Master Frenn said, bowing at the waist. “What would you have me do?”

 

“Communicate with the kitten, we would have you,” Master Yoda said, gesturing to Anakin.

 

Master Frenn looked at Anakin, then at Master Yoda. The deadened look in his eyes was enough to convey the sheer exasperation the Draethos was feeling at the request. However, it was equally as obvious that Master Frenn felt he had no place contradicting the Council. “I cannot speak with animals telepathically. Perhaps it would be better to request the aid of someone more proficient in the Living Force,” he suggested.

 

“If you are unable to do so, then we will go with your suggestion,” Obi-Wan said. “However, we must ask you to at least try.”

 

Master Frenn sighed and turned to Anakin. “Very well.”

 

The Force rippled between them, a pattern Anakin had felt once before, as Master Frenn reached out and linked their minds.

 

Hello, Master Frenn, Anakin said. It’s Anakin Skywalker.

 

All of Master Frenn’s composure left, his eyes wide as he gaped at Anakin.

 

Anakin? How can this be? he asked.

 

Mission gone wrong, was all Anakin said. He didn’t know how much the Council planned on telling Master Frenn, so it was better to err on the side of caution for once.

 

“Well, Master Frenn? Were you able to communicate with the kitten?” Master Ti asked.

 

Master Frenn visibly shook himself as he disengaged the connection. “Was anyone planning on telling me that the kitten in question was Knight Skywalker?”

 

“Sure of that, we were not, until now,” Master Yoda said. “A secret from the rest of the Order until further discussion, this is.”

 

Master Frenn nodded. “I understand.”

 

“Your service was much appreciated, Master Frenn,” Obi-Wan said.

 

Clearly understanding the dismissal, Master Frenn bowed to the Council and turned to leave. Just before he left, though, he reached out again to Anakin and said Feel free to come speak with me if you feel the need during this trying time, Knight Skywalker.

 

Thank you, Anakin said.

 

Once the door slid shut behind Master Frenn, Anakin returned to Obi-Wan and climbed up to sit on his shoulder again. His claws must have caught on the cloth earlier as there was a loose thread that was just begging to be pulled.

 

“Now that we have established that Anakin has been turned into a kitten, I believe the best course of action would be to have him declared medically unfit for duty,” Obi-Wan said.

 

Master Windu nodded. “Yes, and he will need to be confined to the Temple.” He said something else, but the thread was too tempting.

 

Now that they didn’t seem to need anything from him, Anakin had to fight to keep himself from clawing the thread out and chewing on it. It would probably unspool so nicely when he did, too, and he could pounce on it once it started dangling.

 

No. No, he was going to resist. Jedi could resist temptations; they didn’t give in to their baser instincts, no matter how tantalizing loose threads were.

 

The meeting wrapped up while Anakin devoted most of his focus to resisting the alluring thread on Obi-Wan’s shoulder. From what little he caught of it, the Council members had decided that Obi-Wan was going to research the temple on Asinonyk in order to see if there was an easy way to reverse Anakin’s transformation, and no one who wasn’t already aware of it was going to be informed besides the other Council members.

 

Unfortunately, after a few days of research, Obi-Wan was unable to find anything that had to do with Anakin’s condition in the Archives. Anakin’s efforts to get Obi-Wan to relax, which included both typical cat activities such as lying across his terminal keyboard, pushing things off the table, and meowing loudly when Obi-Wan needed to eat, as well as Force-assisted efforts, were not particularly effective. He took a few more breaks than was usual, but the scent of exhaustion still clung to him. Anakin suspected that it would take the end of the war for it to completely vanish.

 

Obi-Wan had decided to check other Jedi Temples, such as the one on Corellia, to see if they had any answers rather than going straight to the ancient Temple. Anakin suspected Obi-Wan was worried about being turned into a kitten if he visited the Temple on Asinonyk. Normally Anakin would encourage Obi-Wan to go for it - being a kitten was fun, except when he was ambushed by younglings - but it would be detrimental to the war for both of them to go missing.

 

The larger Council had decided that they were going to keep Anakin’s kitten form a secret, just in case the Separatists caught word of it and tried to use it against him or something. Anakin wasn’t sure how exactly the Separatists might take advantage of his transformation, but they could be very devious when motivated. Better to keep everything secret and safe.

 

While Obi-Wan was busy, Anakin was sticking close to Ahsoka. Even if she had subjected him to the not-so-tender mercies of the younglings, she was still the only other Jedi not on the Council who knew what had happened to him. Because he was on medical leave and so not able to contribute to the war effort, they spent a lot of time outside, meditating, napping, or just playing in the Room of a Thousand Fountains.

 

Ahsoka was sometimes joined by Barriss Offee, a newly Knighted Healer, in her meditation. Anakin didn’t know her very well, but she and Ahsoka seemed to have an easy camaraderie. Anakin mostly stayed by Ahsoka when she meditated with them, not wanting to disturb the other young Knight.

 

Three days into their enforced vacation, however, Ahsoka was called away for Senior Padawan duties.

 

“It’s alright, Skyguy,” Ahsoka said, a bright grin on her face. “You can just stay with Barriss until I get back.”

 

Anakin glared at her, trying to convey that he was perfectly capable of looking after himself and did not need to be babysat by another Knight. Ahsoka seemed to get the general gist of it, if not the exact nuances, because she rolled her eyes and scooped him up off of the cushion in their quarters where he had been napping.

 

Anakin meowed, annoyed at being moved. Did they really have to go right now? He had been hoping to get another vision of the feline from Asinonyk.

 

Ahsoka sighed. “I might be gone for the rest of the day, Master. Somebody needs to make sure that you get food while I’m gone.”

 

Anakin sulked the rest of the way to Barriss’ quarters.

 

“Ahsoka,” Barriss greeted as she opened the door to her quarters, a blink the only sign that she was surprised to see them. “How are you?”

 

“As busy as everyone else. You know how it is. Can you watch him?” Ahsoka asked, holding Anakin out from her with both hands. “I’m going to be gone for at least the rest of the day, and I need someone to make sure he eats.”

 

“Of course,” Barriss said, gingerly taking him from Ahsoka and glancing down at him warily. She had probably never held a kitten before. “Is your Master okay with this though? He just lets you have a kitten?”

 

“Oh, yeah, he’s absolutely fine with it. His idea, in fact. Thank you so much, bye!” Ahsoka called, already walking away.

 

Barriss stared down at Anakin in bemusement. Anakin stared back at her sullenly.

 

“I need you to know that I know nothing about taking care of cats,” she warned.

 

Anakin shrugged. If she did something he didn’t like, he would just hiss at her.

 

“He probably can’t understand me anyways,” Barriss muttered as she set him down on her bed then moved to her meditation mat.

 

Anakin dozed while she meditated, or at least he attempted to. The vision from Asinonyk was still plaguing his thoughts. He couldn’t help but wonder if maybe it was the key to becoming human again. He was also distracted by the fact that Barriss wasn’t having a very peaceful meditation session, constantly shifting and sighing. He couldn’t help but startle out of his thoughts every time she did so.

 

He had started paying more attention to scents after noticing how often Obi-Wan smelled like exhaustion, so it was fairly easy for him to discern the stench of fear, sadness, and most of all anger that began to surround Barriss the longer she meditated. Deciding that it would probably be bad for her if she was left to stew in those negative emotions, Anakin pushed himself off of the bed, climbed into her lap, and began to meow loudly at her in order to catch her attention.

 

Barriss froze, her entire frame tensing up. When he didn’t do anything but stare up at her, she tentatively reached out to run a hand along his spine.

 

Anakin forced himself to start purring loudly and projected positive, soothing emotions at her through the Force. Barriss picked him up and cuddled him to her chest before suddenly breaking into giant, heaving sobs.

 

“I wish I never had these awful visions. There’s just so much Darkness in the future,” she sobbed. “I can see it every time I meditate, and it’s all tied up in the war. I’ve started to feel the Darkness whenever I reach for the Force now, and I just don’t know what to do.”

 

Kriff. Oh, kriff. Anakin did not know what to do here. It was hard enough for him when it was Padmé crying; he didn’t really have any idea what to do with someone he didn’t know well enough. Not to mention her mentions of the Dark side of the Force was setting off all sorts of alarms in his head.

 

Well, Padmé appreciated being held and comforted, so maybe he could do that. Although he was a little too small to be hugging Barriss, Anakin could still manage the comforting bit. His new form was practically built for it.

 

Anakin nudged his head against hers, projecting as much calm and acceptance into the Force as he could.

 

Tears continued to stream down her face, quieter now, as she leaned back into the wall. “Sorry, sorry, it’s stupid for me to be crying about this. I should know better than to dwell on it; I need to just release my emotions to the Force. Still, I can sense it inside of every Jedi, even,” Her breathing hitched. “Even me. Sometimes there’s so much of it that I feel like I’m choking on it. We should never have gotten involved in this war. I know that it is our responsibility as keepers of the peace of the galaxy, but there’s something so infected with Darkness at the center of it that it’s spreading to everything else. I think I want to leave the Order, but I don’t really know if that would be the right thing to do. I just wish I could stop feeling it all the time because I don’t believe that there’s any way to fix it,” she confessed in a whisper.

 

Anakin suddenly wished that he could speak, that he was human again, so that he could reassure her that it wasn’t just her that had doubts about the Order. His were more along the line that sometimes he felt like he wasn’t worthy of being a Jedi, that he was too emotional, that others were just waiting for him to Fall rather than constantly feeling that everything around him was falling to the Dark side, but he still could relate.

 

But he couldn’t easily communicate with anyone other than Master Frenn and the droids, and it would be a breach of the trust she gave him to do so.  Therefore, Anakin settled on offering as much comfort as he could in his current form and resolved to speak with her as soon as he was human again. Even if all he could offer was the acknowledgement that she wasn’t alone, then he would do the best he could.

 

Eventually, Barriss’ sobs petered out, and she relaxed into the deep sleep of the exhausted. Her expression was more relaxed, though, as if the confession had drained something in her, like sucking the poison from a wound. Anakin only stayed awake a few hours longer to make sure she didn’t have any nightmares before he too fell asleep, sure that Ahsoka would wake them up when she came back to get him.

Chapter Text

Another two days of research had passed, and Anakin was still a kitten. Obi-Wan had been called away from his research in Corellia by the war, so it was unknown how long he’d remain this way. In the meantime, Anakin had been meditating on his vision on Asinonyk in his spare time, but he hadn’t gotten any further. After the incident with Barriss, Anakin had considered seeking out Master Frenn for advice, either on what to do with Barriss or about his vision, but he had a feeling that whatever the feline had been trying to tell him was a little too radical for any proper Jedi to ponder.

 

The media hadn’t yet picked up on his disappearance yet - they probably thought he was still on the front lines - which was a good thing. The war had made the Jedi the focus of the galaxy in ways they hadn’t been previously. It was a little off-putting for some, but for the most part Anakin loved the attention. Sometimes it got annoying, such as when tabloid reporters thought he was in a relationship with Padmé or Obi-Wan or both, but he mostly thought that the increased recognition for how much good the Jedi did in the galaxy was a good thing. Although, whenever articles came out about how scandalously close his relationship to Padmé was they would have to avoid each other, much like he was being forced to do now. Anakin had rarely spent so long on Coruscant without seeing her at least once. He missed her.

 

Therefore he was feeling both terribly worried and downright gleeful at once when he learned that there had been vague death threats made against Senator Amidala and that she had specifically requested Ahsoka as her bodyguard. Nobody had told him that he couldn’t accompany her in order to supervise, of course, so Anakin was glad to be able to hitch a ride with his Padawan when she left for her assignment without violating the letter of any rules. He was pretty good at breaking rules without technically disobeying them.

 

Anakin’s heart leapt as if unhindered by gravity when he saw Padmé from his spot on the ground by Ahsoka’s feet. He had been so eager to see her, to be next to her, while they were separated that if Ahsoka didn’t say anything soon, he was going to make a break for it.

 

“Ahsoka!” Padmé exclaimed, standing up from her desk in order to greet her with a friendly hug. “It’s so good to see you. How have you been?”

 

“Good to see you too, Senator. I’ve been alright. I want to go back out and fight, but what with what’s happened to Master Anakin, the Council’s been a little -”

 

“Wait, something’s happened to Ana- Knight Skywalker? Is he okay? The Senate has heard nothing about any battles he’s lead,” Padmé interrupted, the space between her brows wrinkling.

 

Ahsoka hesitated, glancing down at Anakin, who was sitting patiently at her heels, waiting for her to explain the situation to Padmé. There was no one around except the three of them, so it should be okay. Anakin meowed at her and pushed gentle reassurance through their bond.

 

“Anakin had an incident at an ancient Jedi Temple,” Ahsoka said, stooping down to pick him up and hold him up like an offering. “ This happened to him.”

 

Padmé froze for a moment, her eyes flicking between Anakin and Ahsoka, before she raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you think this is a bit of a poor time for a joke?”

 

“It’s not a joke, Senator. Ancient temples can be… unpredictable at the best of times. Really, Master Skywalker was lucky that it didn’t just try to kill him outright,” Ahsoka explained.

 

“Is there any way to fix it?”

 

Ahsoka shook her head. “We have no idea exactly how it happened, or how to fix it. He’s been like this for a few days now, and everyone is just hoping that it might wear off at some point.”

 

Padmé pinched the bridge of her nose and took in a few deep breaths before she spoke. “Okay. Jedi can turn into animals now. Okay. That is something that happens. And now Anakin is one for an undetermined length of time.”

 

“It’s been five days already,” Ahsoka helpfully added.

 

“Thank you. Is there anything I can contribute to the effort to fix it?” Padmé asked.

 

Anakin meowed and wriggled in Ahsoka’s hands. He really wanted to greet Padmé and reassure her, even if all he did was rub his head against her hands a few times. He hated to see her worry. The Force was nudging him along, telling him that his problem would be one step closer to being solved if he spent time with her.

 

“Master Obi-Wan was investigating the ancient temple, but he didn’t find anything before he was needed again. Do you want to hold him?” Ahsoka offered, changing the subject.

 

Padmé gently accepted him from Ahsoka, cradling him close to her chest and carefully running her hand over him a few times. Anakin immediately started purring, so happy to just be with her.

 

“You’re so soft, Anakin,” Padmé said. “And so cute.”

 

Anakin allowed himself to enjoy the petting for a moment longer before he jumped up from Padmé’s hands to her shoulder and started rubbing his head against her chin. He could feel that she wasn’t as unruffled as she was presenting herself to be and wanted to offer as much comfort as he could.

 

“I’m just going to go make sure the rest of the place is secure,” Ahsoka said, eyes averted as she backed towards the door.

 

Padmé nodded in acknowledgement, her composure lasting until Ahsoka was gone. Then, shoulders tense and eyes wide, she pulled him off her shoulder in order to stare at him and unleashed a number of curse words that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the clone barracks. Anakin kept purring, familiar enough with her moods to know that Padmé would begin to wind down once she got it out of her system.

 

“Kriffing hell, Ani,” she finished. “This makes absolutely no sense. I mean, you’re an adult. Why did it turn you into a kitten rather than an adult cat?”

 

Padmé was definitely focusing on a more trivial aspect of his transformation rather than its entirety in order to work on processing the sudden shift in her reality.

 

“Maybe the default setting on whatever changed you was kitten so that if any younglings came across it they wouldn’t have to deal with being an adult,” she mused, setting him down on her lap and running one of her hands down his back. “Of course, I would need to know more about the temple you were at and the Force in general to come to any solid theories, so I’ll have to stick to just idle musings for now.”

 

She spent a few more minutes giving Anakin her undivided attention, which was wonderful. Padmé gave the best ear scritches. Even when she had to turn her attention to her work, Padmé continued to run one of her hands along his back or scratch behind his ears. Anakin was purring the entire time, the only sound to disrupt the blissful silence, as he drifted on the currents of the Force, meditating on his vision and the new information given to him.

 

How was it that Padmé could help with his predicament? In the vision, the creature had asked him what the most destructive yet beautiful thing in the galaxy was, and, as much as he loved Padmé, Anakin didn’t think she was it. Maybe she knew the answer, though. If only he could ask her about it, then he might be able to figure out how to become human again.

 

Anakin slipped deeper into his meditation, casting out his question as to why Padmé might lead him to his answer out into the Force.

 

Another vision bloomed behind his eyelids, showing him Ahsoka’s exhausted face as she sat up after he’d brought her back to life, the Daughter’s still body beside her. It faded into the last glance he’d had of his mother when he’d left Tatooine with Qui-Gon, worry and hope for his future in equal measure shining from her eyes.

 

Anakin jumped slightly at the sudden beeping of Padmé’s comm, his eyes flying open as his vision faded on the edge of a revelation.

 

Anakin hissed and clawed at the air in annoyance over having his vision disrupted.

 

“It’s just the comm, Anakin,” Padmé chuckled as she answered it.

 

The blue figure of the Chancellor rose up, as tall as Anakin currently was. “Good afternoon, Senator Amidala.”

 

“Supreme Chancellor,” Padmé nodded. “It is a pleasure to hear from you.”

 

“Why thank you, my dear. Under normal circumstances, I would be delighted to speak with you at leisure, but I’m afraid new information has come to my attention that I must discuss with you,” the Chancellor said.

 

“Oh?” A raised eyebrow was the only sign that the Chancellor’s new information was concerning.

 

“Yes, it regards the new committee you’re leading with Senator Organa,” the Chancellor said pleasantly.

 

“Of course. I am free to meet with you as soon as possible,” Padmé responded.

 

“I happen to have an opening in my schedule,” the Chancellor said. “Do be careful when you come to see me, though. I heard about the threats made against your life, and it would be simply terrible if something were to happen.”

 

“It will take more than threats to keep me from doing my duty to the Republic,” Padmé said. She was so amazing. “I will see you soon Chancellor.”

 

The Chancellor smiled before he disappeared, having disconnected the call.

 

Padmé sighed and leaned back in her chair, then put Anakin up on her desk so that she could stand without dropping him.

 

“Do you want to come with me?” she asked as she shook out her clothes, smoothing out nonexistent wrinkles. “It won’t be very interesting; I know how you feel about politics.

 

Anakin meowed his assent and walked over to the edge of her desk, taking care not to step on any of Padmé’s various data pads. A Jedi needed to be with Padmé at all times, even if they were currently kitten-shaped. Anakin still had the Force, and so he was still able to keep Padmé safe from whoever wanted to kill her. Besides, although Anakin couldn’t talk to Palpatine, it would be nice to see his friend.

 

“I’m going to hide you in my sleeve, okay? I won’t let you fall, I promise,” Padmé said, holding out a hand for him.

 

Padmé was wearing a dress with wide sleeves today, so there was plenty of room when she tucked him into them. Anakin curled up into a ball, carefully suppressing the purr that wanted to rise up at the proximity to her, after she hid both him and her hands in her voluminous sleeves.

 

He opened his mind to the Force as they walked, noting each of the people Padmé passed on their way to the Chancellor’s office, making sure none of them had malicious intent. He kept his focus so that he could pick up on any subtle movements people made, such as reaching for a blaster. He also noticed that there was a loose thread on the inside of Padmé’s sleeve, one even more tempting than the one that had been on Obi-Wan’s shoulder, but he was able to resist pouncing on it with great effort.

 

“Senator Amidala, so good to see you arrived safely,” the Chancellor said as he stood to greet her once they were in his office.

 

“Always a pleasure, Supreme Chancellor. Now, I’m assuming that the information you wished to speak with me about was rather urgent.” Padmé smiled politely..

 

“Yes, about your -” The Chancellor paused, then sniffled. “Oh, excuse me -” He pulled out a handkerchief. “I do apologize, my allergies appear to be acting up.”

 

“Oh, it’s no problem,” Padmé said, her smile still in place.

 

“Thank you, my dear, now, I understand that your committee is addressing a number of the issues surrounding regulation of our hyperlanes in the Outer Rim, but I have heard word that there has been quite a bit of activity from the Confederacy of Independent System’s droid army along the routes,” the Chancellor said, his voice already beginning to sound nasally and his eyes turning red.

 

“If that is the case, then it would be dangerous to send anyone out there to investigate.”

 

“My thoughts exactly.” The Chancellor sneezed into his handkerchief. “Pardon me. In fact, I had heard that the Jedi were considering sending out General Skywalker to try and sort things out.”

 

Oh wow, the Jedi Council was good at coming up with cover stories if even the Chancellor believed that he was out on the front lines.

 

“I see,” Padmé said. “That does complicate things.”

 

The Chancellor sneezed three times in quick succession.

 

“Perhaps we could discuss this more later, when your allergies aren’t quite so bad,” Padmé suggested.

 

The Chancellor’s Force signature fluctuated, as if he wanted to react but didn’t. Instead, all he said was “Thank you for the consideration, my dear. I shall send you a document with a more concise summary of my information.”

 

“I hope your allergies clear up soon,” she said, nodding her head in respect. “And that the rest of your day is much more pleasant.”

 

Once they were back in Padmé’s office, she let Anakin out of her sleeve. He was a little confused to note that she was stifling a grin.

 

Anakin tilted his head to the side and meowed questioningly.

 

“The Chancellor was going to use our meeting to try and get one of his people invited to the charity dinner Bail is hosting tonight, likely to sow doubt among the supporters of our committee,” Padmé explained.

 

Anakin didn’t fully understand the nuances of what had just happened. To him it seemed like they had just walked across half of the Senate building for nothing, but Padmé was the politician, not him. If she was happy, then he was happy, even if he was a little sad that Chancellor Palpatine was sick.

Chapter Text

Anakin was able to spend the rest of the day basking in Padmé’s presence, with Ahsoka periodically dropping in to update them on the complete lack of assassins or bounty hunters. It was a wonderful break from his time in the Temple, searching for a solution to his transformation. Anakin was free to be around Padmé in front of other people because no one cared that she had acquired a kitten beyond the initial cooing over his cuteness, and he decided not to meditate on his visions any further after the breakthrough he’d almost had earlier.

 

Once Padmé returned to her suite in order to prepare for her committee dinner with Bail Organa, something Anakin would definitely be attending with her, he felt a shock of alarm from the Force, a signal of impending danger, and a rush of adrenaline from his bond with Ahsoka. She was under attack, and the threat was headed their way.

 

He sprang at Padmé’s head with a yowl, unable to otherwise convey the urgency of the situation, his claws carefully tucked away so as not to hurt her.

 

“Anakin? What are you doing?” Padmé yelled as she ducked out of his way.

 

Anakin was unable to answer, both because he was a kitten and therefore incapable of speech and because Ahsoka had just crashed through the window, pursued by blaster bolts.

 

“I found the threat, Senator,” Ahsoka yelled while she deflected the bolts away from them. “He’s just a little tougher than I expected.”

 

Padmé pulled her own blaster from underneath her skirts and returned fire out the window from her position on the floor.

 

Anakin hid against the wall underneath the broken window, the Force and common sense telling him that the assassin would using that as an entrance.

 

He had already begun his leap moments before the assassin, a rodian wearing a rather light set of armor for an assassin, jumped through the opening, latching onto the man’s toughened synthleather trousers. The muffled thump of the assassin’s boots landing on the carpet masked the sound of claws catching on fabric. He climbed up the bounty hunter’s back while the man dueled Ahsoka, the toughened synthleather and armor keeping him from feeling the prick of Anakin’s claws.

 

Through luck or the Force, Anakin was able to make his way up to the top of the rodian’s shoulder, despite all the jumping and dodging he was doing to avoid lightsabers and blaster bolts, before the assassin noticed him. Anakin slashed at his face, missing the assassin’s eyes but raising deep claw marks just underneath.

 

Unfortunately, the addition of an unexpected variable to the fight with a Jedi caused the assassin to reassess his odds and decide to choose his life instead of his wallet, jumping back out of the window and into his speeder, Anakin still clinging to his shoulder.

 

The assassin, of course, had no way of knowing that the kitten he’d just absconded with was also a Jedi, one who had an intimate knowledge of just about any form of engine in the galaxy, and so didn’t know how futile his actions were.

 

A quick application of the Force in just the right spot to the speeder’s engine, and not even the best mechanic in the galaxy would have been able to fix it in time to escape Ahsoka.

 

She yanked him back through the window, banging his head on the frame as it went by, and then dropped him in front of Padmé. Anakin leapt off of the rodian’s body before it hit the floor, completely unconscious, not even needing the Force to land securely on all four feet.

 

“Anakin!” Padmé yelled, pushing herself to her feet and swooping him into her arms. “That was so reckless!”

 

“It’s alright, Senator Amidala,” Ahsoka said. “Master Anakin and I have been in much more dangerous situations before. That assassin wasn’t even that much of a threat.”

 

Anakin knew Ahsoka’s words were meant to reassure Padmé, but he also knew that they would only make Padmé worry even further. She always feared for his life when he was away, even though she didn’t have to.

 

Padmé closed her eyes and sighed heavily, momentarily tightening her grip on Anakin. When she opened them, she had the composed mask of a Senator, or a Queen, carefully in place. Padmé placed her blaster on the nearby vanity then nodded regally at Ahsoka.

 

“Thank you, Padawan Tano,” she said. “Would you be willing to offer your assistance in the interrogation of the assassin? I’m sure the Senate Guard will have questions for him, but I want to get a chance before he disappears into the system.”

 

Ahsoka bowed shallowly. “Master Skywalker and I will need to return to the Temple now that the threat is over, my lady, but an investigation may prove that wrong. Besides, Jedi are authorized to assist in any ongoing investigations. I can’t imagine anyone would be upset if we helped you.”

 

Anakin rubbed his face against Padmé’s fingers, not even bothered by his cat-like behavior. Anything to give her comfort right now.

 

After all of his weapons had been removed, one of Ahsoka’s boots to his side was enough to bring the assassin back to consciousness with a groan.

 

She stepped into his field of vision, waved two fingers in front of his face, and, in the low monotone of the Jedi Mind Trick, said “You will tell us everything we need to know.”

 

Anakin held back a shudder of revulsion. Something about the Mind Trick felt really awful to him, even if it was only supposed to work on those with weak wills. Besides, the way Ahsoka was using it was risky, relying too much on whether the assassin would want to tell them.

 

“I will tell you everything you need to know,” the assassin repeated.

 

“You can trust us.”

 

“I can trust you.”

 

Yeah, give him lightsaber combat and Force pushing any day.

 

Still, Ahsoka’s Mind Trick seemed to work, as the assassin began to spill the details of who had hired him and why. By the time he was done, Padmé was nearly shaking with repressed fury.

 

Ahsoka also noticed. “Did you recognize the company that hired him?”

 

“It’s a shell corporation. Officially, it can be traced back to the Hutts. Unofficially, some Senators have been known to send anonymous donations to it. Senator Taa of Ryloth is one of the more prominent members,” Padmé said.

 

It all clicked. Human trafficking. One of the side effects of increased attention on Outer Rim hyperlanes would be that it would be more difficult to run the slave trade.

 

Anakin leaped out of Padmé’s arms so that he could pace back and forth, literally spitting mad. If he had hands, the assassin would be dead.

 

“I’ll just restrain this guy, then,” Ahsoka said and proceeded to do so.

 

“Of course.” Padmé lifted Anakin up near her face and whispered “Stay safe, please,” before placing a kiss between his ears.

 

Just as suddenly as Anakin had become a kitten, he was human again.

 

Padmé was the first to react.

 

“Anakin?” she whispered, her hand reaching up to touch his face tentatively. When her hand made contact, Padmé proceeded to wrap him up in one of the tightest hugs he had ever received from her.

 

“Skyguy!” Ahsoka yelped, clapping her hand over her eyes. “Put some clothes on!”

 

“It’s not like I could wear anything as a cat,” Anakin said, pulling away from Padmé with great reluctance.

 

Mirth was dancing in Padmé’s eyes as she grabbed a purple silk robe from a drawer and offered it to him. “Sorry, but it’s the only thing I have that will fit you.”

 

That was an unmitigated lie. Anakin had left enough clothes at her suite to put together any number of outfits. Of course, Ahsoka would no doubt realize that their relationship was a little more than what they said if she knew he left his clothes here.

 

The robe fit. Barely.

 

“You can look now, Snips,” Anakin said, resisting the urge to cross his arms over his chest, silken purple pulled taught and clinging.

 

Ahsoka started laughing the instant she saw him, bending over to brace her hands on her knees. Padmé, on the other hand, was the picture of composure, if one ignored the way her lips were slightly quirked so as to hold in her own laughter.

 

“Very fashionable, Skyguy,” Ahsoka giggled. “You should wear that instead of the boring old Jedi robes from now on.”

 

Anakin reached over with his arm and pulled Ahsoka into a tight hug. “Like you’re one to talk, Snips. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you wearing a proper Jedi robe.”

 

He could practically feel Ahsoka rolling her eyes in the Force. “Whatever. I’m glad that you’re back to normal now, Skyguy.”

 

“As normal as he ever gets,” Padmé said as she joined their hug.

 

Anakin wasn’t able to wrap an arm around both of them, but he enjoyed the hug nonetheless, smiling so widely that his face hurt. The Force bubbled with the joy flowing from the three of them.

 

After a few more moments, they released each other, and the atmosphere of the room grew awkward.

 

“We should probably get rid of the assassin,” Ahsoka said, breaking the silence.

 

Padmé was already heading towards the door. “I’ll get the Senate Guard. Anakin, you need to think of an excuse for why you’re here.”

 

“So, Senator Amidala, huh?” Ahsoka teased once Padmé had left the room, wiggling the white markings over her eyes.

 

Anakin studiously stared up at the ceiling. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, Snips.”

 

“Oh come on,” Ahsoka exclaimed. “She kissed you, and then you were human again. It’s like something out of a bedtime tale. True love’s kiss, or whatever.”

 

Was it really that simple? Had the visions been pointing him towards love the whole time?

 

“The Order has rules against that sort of thing,” Anakin reminded her, his mind barely on their conversation as he considered what he had learned. “Attachments are forbidden.”

 

“Didn’t the temple you visited split from the Order over attachments?”

 

She was right. Ahsoka had been able to see what was right in front of his eyes the whole time. Love was beautiful, like moments before when they had all been embracing each other, like Padmé, like his mother, like bringing Ahsoka back to life, but it was also destructive, like how he had killed the Tusken Raiders.

 

Ahsoka crossed her arms over her chest when he didn’t answer. “Alright, fine. Whatever you say, Master.”

 

Anakin sighed quietly in relief that she was letting it go for now. He needed to do some serious thinking before he was ready to talk about this with anyone else. “Thank you, Padawan.”

 

“But if there was any sort of attachment going on, then Padmé’s a good choice,” Ahsoka said quietly.

 

Before Anakin could respond, the Senator in question returned with two members of the Senate Guard in tow.

 

“Thank you for your assistance, Commander Tano. Uh, General Skywalker,” one of the guards said, eyeing Anakin’s outfit, while the other one hefted the unconscious assassin over his shoulder. “We didn’t see you come in, sir.”

 

“I was tracking the assassin,” Anakin bluffed. “I came through the same entrance he did. Unfortunately, he ruined my robes.”

 

“Ah, I see sir, thank you sir,” the guard said, glancing at the window.

 

“Yes, thank you, both of you, for your help in saving my life,” Padmé interjected before any more awkward questions could be asked.

 

“It was our pleasure, my lady.” Anakin bowed slightly to Padmé, Ahsoka following suit a moment later. “We’ll be returning to the Temple now that the danger has passed.”

 

Anakin and Ahsoka hurried out of the suite, heading towards where Ahsoka had parked the speeder.

 

“What’s the big rush, Master?” Ahsoka asked as they walked.

 

Anakin looked down at Ahsoka, then back ahead. “Well, besides changing into more appropriate clothes, letting Obi-Wan know that I’m okay, and letting the Council know that I’m ready to return to active duty, I need to talk to Barriss.”

 

“Barriss?” Ahsoka furrowed her brow. “Why? Is something wrong? Did something happen while she was watching you?”

 

Anakin swung himself into the driver’s seat of Ahsoka’s speeder and sighed gustily. “I sure hope nothing’s wrong, Snips, but I want to make sure, just in case.”

 

“If you think that’s best, Skyguy,” Ahsoka said. “Hey, wait, I wanted to drive.”

 

“Be faster next time,” Anakin suggested, laughing as she grumpily got into the passenger’s side before speeding off to the Temple. He was still furious about what the assassin had revealed, but that was Padmé’s battleground. He had every faith in her.

Chapter Text

The Council was very much interested in hearing how Anakin had become human again.

 

However, in the interest of keeping his marriage to Padmé a secret, he had merely shrugged and said “Perhaps there was a time limit. We could send someone else to the ruins of the Temple on Asinonyk to try and find out.”

 

The Council had, understandably, decided against sending another Jedi. They didn’t have enough Jedi left on Coruscant to waste on a research a mission at the moment.

 

Ahsoka had followed Anakin’s lead and said nothing about how Anakin had become human again. When she gave her report on the assassin, though, there were a few raised eyebrows.

 

“I thought you said that General Skywalker had not yet turned back into a human at that point,” Master Ti said, attending the meeting from Kamino.

 

Ahsoka glanced up at Anakin for a moment before continuing. “He hadn’t.”

 

“Then please explain how he was able to help you take out the assassin,” Master Windu said, his expression almost completely unchanging. Anakin thought he might have seen Master Windu’s eye twitch a little, as if he was anticipating an eminent headache.

 

“If you look at the assassin, you’ll notice that he has wounds on his face. That’s from Master Skywalker climbing up the assassin and scratching him. I was able to use the distraction my Master created to incapacitate the assassin,” Ahsoka explained.

 

Anakin could feel the amusement of several Council members in the Force.

 

“A kitten, young Skywalker may have appeared, but still a Jedi, he was,” Yoda said.

 

“Thank you, Master Yoda,” Anakin said, bowing to the aged Master. Coming from Yoda, that was high praise.

 

“Let us hope that your return is permanent, Knight Skywalker, and may the Force be with you,” Master Mundi said before his image flickered out.

 

The meeting was over.

 

“Thanks for not saying anything, Snips,” Anakin said once they were well out of sight of the Council chambers.

 

“About what?” Ahsoka asked, winking. “Now, didn’t you say something about talking to Barriss?”

 

“I did, but,” Anakin sighed a rubbed a hand across the back of his neck. “Now that I’ve had a little time to think about it, I realized that I’m not sure what to say or how to word it.”

 

“I think you’ve been spending a little too much time with politicians, Master,” Ahsoka teased. “Just tell her the truth.”

 

“Why don’t you go get something to eat,” Anakin said. “I’ll comm you for directions when I think I’ve figured out everything I want to say to her.”

 

Ahsoka tilted her head to the side, as if debating whether or not she should leave, before she shrugged and said “Alright. Good luck, Skyguy,” and left.

 

Anakin watched her go for a moment before he turned down another hallway. He had some idea of where he wanted to go and who he wanted to talk to, but he wasn’t sure how well it would be received. He’d been told that Master Frenn was available to talk to him when he needed it, but he wasn’t sure what exactly constituted as ‘need’ for a Mind Healer. He got directions from the first terminal he found, contemplated getting directions to Barriss’ quarters, then decided against it, as having Ahsoka as a temporary buffer would make things easier.

 

As the Jedi Temple was a big place, it took Anakin at least ten minutes to get to Master Frenn’s quarters, which was enough time for him to second, third, and fourth-guess himself. He tried to keep his face relaxed and serene, the picture of a perfect Jedi, but he was sure that anyone who looked at him could tell that he was struggling with something.

 

Master Frenn opened the door before he had a chance to knock. “Knight Skywalker, good to see you back in your natural form. Did you want to speak with me about something?”

 

“You said I could come to you at anytime.”

 

“I remember. Would you care to accompany me to the commissary so that we can speak over dinner?” Master Frenn asked.

 

“Actually, Master Frenn, do you think we could talk in private?” Anakin asked.

 

“Of course. My office is always open to any Jedi in need. Would that be suitable?”

 

The Mind Healer wouldn’t have offered if he didn’t have time, so Anakin figured that he wasn’t being an imposition. Still, he reassured himself for the fifth time that it would be fine to talk to Master Frenn about Barriss before he nodded.

 

Master Frenn led the way to his office, opening the door and allowing Anakin to precede him inside it. There were two comfortable chairs facing each other at either end of a small table in the middle of the office. A desk with a computer terminal was shoved into a corner beneath an artificial window displaying a mountain range that looked like a rainbow due to the variety of minerals in the rocks. A small kitchenette occupied the opposite corner, the shelves covered in tins of tea and powdered chocolate.

 

“Would you like some tea or hot chocolate while we talk?” Master Frenn offered.

 

“A hot chocolate would be nice, thanks.”

 

They waited in silence while Master Frenn heated up a kettle and filled two cups, one with tea leaves and the other with powdered chocolate. When the water was hot enough, he poured it into the cups and brought them over to the table.

 

“I thought we could speak while we waited for these to cool a little. Now, what is troubling you?” Master Frenn asked.

 

“Hypothetically, if someone had a friend who wanted to leave the Jedi Order, what would you say to them?”

 

Master Frenn raised a brow. “Well, hypothetically, I would need to know more about why leaving is this friend’s best option.”

 

“I’m not entirely sure that leaving is their best option, but it seems to be the only one they have,” Anakin said, stirring the powdered chocolate idly.

 

“Do you want to elaborate?”

 

Anakin stopped to think about how much he should reveal about what Barriss had told a kitten in confidence. Maybe just revealing the contents of the visions without getting into her emotional reaction to them would be enough for Master Frenn.

 

“This friend has been having visions about the Dark side growing because of the war,” Anakin said tentatively.

 

Master Frenn leaned back in his chair and took a sip of his tea, watching him over the rim of his cup.

 

“Specifically, the Jedi falling to the Dark side.”

 

“How much do you know about the Draethos, Knight Skywalker?” he asked as he set his tea cup to the side.

 

“Not much,” Anakin admitted. He’d never seen one on Tatooine growing up, and Master Frenn was the only one in the Jedi Order.

 

“We are a long-lived people, some reaching as many as a thousand years, but it is an increasingly rare occurrence because the people of Draethos revere warfare and martial prowess above all others. I, who believed that we should utilize our natural telepathy to help one another prosper as a species, was exiled, and my only crime was wanting peace. I swore then to never pick up another weapon,” Master Frenn explained, his gaze unfocused as he called upon no doubt painful memories. After a moment, his eyes refocused, and he leaned forward in his chair. “I do not carry a lightsaber for this exact reason. You may let your friend know that they are not the only one who saw darkness in our future the very instant the Jedi, a peacekeeping organization, agreed to go to war, nor are they the only one who is finding it very difficult to find arguments for why they should stay true to the Jedi when the Jedi have not stayed true to them.”

 

Anakin stared at Master Frenn, his eyes wide. “But isn’t that almost . . . treason?”

 

“When did we sign up to join the army?” Master Frenn shrugged. “I do not remember the Jedi being dogs of the Republic.”

 

Anakin flinched and tried to cover it up by setting down his hot chocolate. That was a little too close to some of the secret, uneasy thoughts he’d had about the intersection of slavery and the Jedi.

 

“I am sorry,” Master Frenn said quietly, his sharp eyes catching the flinch. “I am aware of your past and what my words might mean to you. I should not have let my emotions get the better of me.”

 

Anakin waved off the apology as he stood and began to pace behind his chair. “What about the Sith, though? They’re our problem, and if we don’t fight then they could take over the galaxy.”

 

“Except this was is about whether or not the systems involved in the Confederation have a right to secede from the Republic, not the eternal struggle between the Jedi and the Sith,” Master Frenn said.

 

“They’re evil! Separatists work with slavers and organized crime and who knows what else!”

 

“I am not disagreeing with you,” Master Frenn said. “I merely disagree with how the Jedi are being used in this war, and I fear for the state of the Order once it is over.”

 

Anakin stopped pacing and took a deep breath. They had gotten off topic. He had come seeking advice on Barriss, not a debate on the war. He should go and talk to her before it got any later. He was going to miss dinner in the commissary as it was.

 

“Thank you for the talk and the hot chocolate, Master Frenn, but I have to go,” Anakin said. He didn’t wait for a goodbye or a dismissal.

 

He stalked out of Master Frenn’s office, not really paying attention to where he was going. How could anyone think that the Jedi shouldn’t be fighting in the war, that it was against what the Jedi stood for to fight? It was their duty to do so - otherwise how would they be able to spread peace throughout the galaxy? And besides, what would they even do if they weren’t actively taking part in it? Ignore it? No, they were supposed to fight, or rather, the ones who could fight should. It wasn’t as if they were forcing younglings onto the front lines, just Masters, Knights, and Padawans. . .

 

Okay, so maybe shoving Padawans out into the field was bad. Sure, it was how he became Ahsoka’s Master, but it was probably also why Barriss was so freaked out. Especially with Master Unduli, who had pretty much just given up on Barriss when she had gotten into a bad situation with Ahsoka on Geonosis, and then the brain worms. . . Yeah, Anakin could kind of understand why some of those traumatic experiences, coupled with horrifying Force visions, could be worrying. His own experiences with visions had been either awful or mysterious, so he could understand a little of what she was going through.

 

“Hey Master, is everything okay?” Ahsoka asked, carrying a container with a half-eaten nerf steak.

 

Anakin startled, then forced a grin. “I’m fine. Do you know how to get to Barriss’ quarters? Now that we’ve gotten everything else out of the way, I think it’s time for me to talk to her.”

 

He wasn’t really feeling up for another potentially emotional conversation, but it was better to get it out of the way now rather than waiting until he felt steadier. Besides, if he waited, then he might talk himself out of it.

 

“You still can’t tell me what this is about?” Ahsoka asked.

 

“Nope.”

 

“Fine, this way, Master,” Ahsoka said. She led him to Barriss Offee’s quarters and knocked on the door. “Let me tell her you want to talk to her first.”

 

Barriss opened the door with a delighted smile on her face when she saw Ahsoka. “Ahsoka, how good to see you,” she said, opening her door wider. That was about when she noticed Anakin, her smile faltering. “And Knight Skywalker. Can I help you?”

 

“My Master,” Ahsoka gestured towards Anakin. “Wanted to speak to you about something.”

 

“Alright. Please come in Ahsoka, Knight Skywalker,” Barriss said, stepping aside, leaving them room to enter her quarters.

 

Anakin scratched the back of his neck. “Actually, I was hoping to speak with you in private, Knight Offee.”

 

Barriss nodded. “Very well. I’ll see you later, Ahsoka. Oh, wait, before you go, I wanted to ask if your kitten was alright.”

 

Ahsoka didn’t even bother to cover her smirk. “Oh, he’s perfectly fine, no need to worry about him. Did you want to meet in the Room of a Thousand Fountains?”

 

“That sounds good.”

 

“I’m going to go stow this in the fridge while you two talk,” Ahsoka said, hefting her container. “Bye.”

 

The atmosphere was awkward and a little tense in Barriss’ quarters after Ahsoka left, Barriss offering up a pillow for him to sit on while she took one facing him.

 

Anakin wasn’t exactly sure how he was going to begin the conversation he wanted to have with her. Should he circle around, maybe start with her fears about the war? No, that would be too confusing. Maybe he could just straight up tell her that he had overheard her, and he wouldn’t have to mention his time as a kitten. Except, that would be lying. He would start at the beginning, with the assignment from the Council to investigate the ancient Temple and proceed delicately from there.

 

Apparently, though, he had taken too long in formulating his thoughts and staring at everything in the room except Barriss while he did so, because she began to speak.

 

“What was it you wished to speak with me about?”

 

“I was the cat,” Anakin blurted out. Or he would just tell her everything as bluntly as possible, that was a good plan. “Or, the kitten, sorry. I didn’t mean to hear what you said - about the war and the Jedi and the Dark - when you were watching me for Ahsoka. And I just wanted you to know that I was here. If you needed to talk.”

 

Oh, karking hell. Wow, he sure was great at awkward conversation openers.

 

Barriss blinked. “Pardon me, but I could have sworn you just said you were turned into a kitten.”

 

Anakin sighed. Of course she didn’t believe him. “I’m telling the truth.”

 

“Well, have you been to see the Healers?” Barriss asked, tilting her head to one side. “Just to make sure there weren’t any side effects?”

 

“I know what you’re doing,” Anakin said, narrowing his eyes. He may not have perfected the art of changing the subject to avoid awkward conversations while he was Obi-Wan’s padawan, but he had learned how to recognize it. “If you don’t want to talk about what you said about leaving the Order, then that’s fine. You should know, though, that you aren’t the only one who’s thought about leaving. And besides, the Council had me speak with a Mind Healer when I was first turned into a kitten.”

 

Barriss froze, her widening eyes and a soft echo of shock in the Force the only signs that she had even registered his words. He waited for her to collect her thoughts, sensing that she would need time to come up with an answer.

 

“I don’t exactly want to leave,” she said finally. “This is my home. It’s just become so stifling that I almost wish it wasn’t. I don’t want to fight a war, to die for a Republic and an Order that’s become rotten with corruption and lies.”

 

“You may not want to leave, but it sounds like you might need to,” Anakin pointed out. “And I can recommend a somewhat trusty Mind Healer if you just need to talk to someone and don’t want it to be me. I mean, I’ll try to make time if you do need to talk, but the war.”

 

Barriss pulled her knees to her chest and stared at the ground, absently tracing lines with her finger while she contemplated what he had said. “I understand, and you may be right about speaking with someone.”

 

Anakin pushed himself to his feet. “And if you do decide to leave, I can put in a good word with the Senator from Naboo for you, get you set up there if you wanted.”

 

He was almost out the door when he heard a soft “Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, Knight Skywalker.”

 

Anakin paused, but when he didn’t hear anything else from Barriss, he left. He still needed to do some serious meditation on his visions.

Chapter Text

Anakin made it halfway to his own quarters before a strange pressure built up behind his eyes. He blinked and rubbed at the bridge of his nose to try to get rid of the sensation. It didn’t hurt, exactly, but it wasn’t a very pleasant feeling either, a bit like the beginning of a sneeze. He paused and waited, hoping the pressure would stop if he wasn’t moving, but nothing happened. The pressure continued to build until it was on the point of actual pain, and then he changed.

 

He was once again a kitten.

 

Kriff it all.

 

It was a very long way back to his rooms when he was like this, and he felt very tired. Of course, he’d almost always felt kind of sleepy the last time he’d been a kitten, but not like this. This felt like there was a Besalisk sitting on his eyelids, dragging them closed.

 

Anakin clumsily stumbled over to the wall of the hallway and curled up, tucking his nose under his tail, before sleep swiftly claiming him.

 

0o0o0

 

“Skywalker? What are you doing out here?” a deep voice asked, rousing Anakin from his nap.

 

Anakin lifted his head and blinked blearily at the orange figure in front of him, too tired to bother with meowing at them in annoyance. He lowered his head back down onto his paws, intending to go back to sleep if the person didn’t have anything else to say.

 

Unfortunately, the person had other ideas. Two large hands wrapped around his middle and hoisted him into the air.

 

This time Anakin made his annoyance known, meowing loudly as he was tucked into the corner of the person’s arm, reaching out with the Force to further express his displeasure.

 

Master Koon, as the person turned out to be, simply laughed when Anakin glared at him, gently scratching him behind one of his ears as he picked up Anakin’s robes, lightsaber, and arm.

 

“Let’s get you back to your quarters,” Master Koon said.

 

Anakin wasn’t listening. He’d melted into a puddle of goo, purring louder than he’d even thought possible, as soon as Master Koon had started scratching him behind the ears. It felt so amazing that he couldn’t even fall back asleep.

 

He didn’t pay attention to where they were going, content to just lay there and purr, although he did sense Ahsoka’s presence growing closer. Maybe Master Koon could teach her the secret behind his masterful skill at ear scratching.

 

Anakin was stirred from his happy daze when Master Koon stopped scratching to knock on a familiar door. It swished open, revealing Ahsoka.

 

“Master Plo!” she exclaimed happily before blinking down at Anakin. “And Master Skywalker.”

 

Master Koon picked Anakin up around his middle and held him out to Ahsoka along with his belongings. Anakin meowed plaintively at the loss of scratches.

 

Ahsoka stared at him for a second before she burst into laughter, forced to lean against the door for support. Plo chuckled a few times behind his antiox mask, although Anakin couldn’t tell whether he was laughing at Ahsoka or with her.

 

He glared at his young Padawan, silently plotting to punish her horribly with extra meditation and shifts assisting Master Nu in the Archives. She wouldn’t be allowed to do anything fun for a whole week. Punishment lasting longer than a week bordered on cruel, as Anakin had learned as Obi-Wan’s Padawan, and he wouldn’t be that mean.

 

“Sorry, Master,” Ahsoka giggled as she accepted him from Master Koon, blissfully unaware of the horrendous punishments in her future. “It’s just, you only changed back a little while ago, and now you’re a kitten again.”

 

“I recommend you keep a careful eye on him,” Master Koon said. “I found him sleeping in the hallway.”

 

“In the hallway? Really, Master,” Ahsoka mock scolded. “You should be more careful. Anyone could have stepped on you.”

 

Anakin reached out and patted her on the nose reassuringly. He wouldn’t have let anyone do step on him and escape without severe scratches on their ankles.

 

Master Koon nodded to the both of them. “I’ll see you later, little ‘Soka.”

 

“Bye Master Plo,” Ahsoka said, tucking Anakin under one arm and waving.

 

Anakin wriggled free, jumping out of her arms and making a beeline for the fridge, the beginnings of a ferocious hunger stirring now that he wasn’t quite so tired.

 

Ahsoka was still at the door when he reached the kitchen area, so Anakin pushed himself onto his hind legs and reached out into the Force to keep himself upright. Then, with far more focus than he would normally use, Anakin gripped the handle of the fridge and yanked on it with the Force.

 

“Do you want me to comm Senator Amidala?” Ahsoka asked as she moved into her bedroom.

 

Anakin sent vague negative feelings through their bond as he browsed the fridge, looking for something to eat. Probably no fruits or vegetables, no bread either. Really, the only thing he was certain would be safe for him to eat as he was now was meat. It was a good thing he lived with a Togruta because there was plenty of meat in the fridge.

 

“Why don’t you want me to call the Senator?” Ahsoka asked.

 

Anakin got back down onto all fours and pulled the closest piece of meat out of the fridge with his teeth. It was some of Ahsoka’s leftover nerf steak: a little tough and chewy, but still delicious.

 

“Master, why - hey!” she exclaimed as she stepped into the kitchen area. “I was going to eat that later. And why are you eating it on the floor? That’s so gross.”

 

Anakin shrugged as he chewed on a mouthful of steak. He’d eaten in worse places, and besides, their kitchen floor wasn’t that dirty.

 

Ahsoka wrinkled her nose at him as she sat down on the floor next to him. “If you don’t want me to call Senator Amidala, then how do you plan on changing back?”

 

He shrugged again, more intent on satisfying the hunger clawing at his insides than anything else. Anakin swallowed his last bite and reached over to pat her on the shoulder, forgetting for a moment that he was a kitten again.

 

That strange pressure built up again, faster than it had the last time. He scrunched his face and shook his head, trying to get it to go away.

 

For the fourth time, Anakin went through the shift between human and kitten.

 

Ahsoka reached over and poked him in the side. “You’re back!”

 

“I think I can control it if I practice, Snips,” he said, absently flexing his fingers. A gleeful smile broke out across his face as numerous possibilities ran through his mind.

 

Ahsoka’s eyes widened as she clearly began to imagine some of the same possibilities this would give them.

 

“Although, maybe you should figure out a way to keep your clothes on first.”

Chapter Text

The next morning found them in a training salle after practicing his transformation for half the night. It had been disorienting but necessary if they were going to be able to train in some of their riskier ideas.

 

They had also figured out that Anakin could manage to keep his prosthetic arm and a layer of clothing on if he concentrated. It was a little like how he managed to keep his hair and fingernails despite them being dead tissue - he considered them a part of himself. Hopefully, one day he would be able to keep everything when he changed, although it would require a lot of mental twisting.

 

“Ready?” Ahsoka asked with an eager grin.

 

Anakin meowed to tell her that he was ready when she was.

 

“I’m throwing on three,” Ahsoka said. Anakin braced himself in her hand as she counted. “One, two, three!”

 

On three, Ahsoka wound her arm back and threw him at half strength, which was pretty close to full strength for those not strong in the Force.

 

Anakin flew through the air for one endless moment, twisting around so that his feet were facing the ground. Then he changed back into a human.

 

In theory, Anakin would either land on his feet or roll to a standing position. In practice, however, it had not gone so smoothly. The timing was the hardest part of the whole maneuver.

 

This time, Anakin changed back and almost immediately slammed into the wall, with just enough time to turn his face to the side and avoid a broken nose, before flopping onto the ground. He was able to get up right away and shake off the pain, but it still hurt.

 

“Maybe you could try throwing with a little more arc,” Anakin suggested, rolling his neck to work out some of the soreness.

 

“I thought there was no try,” Ahsoka said snippily.

 

Anakin rolled his eyes and walked back over to her, not even dignifying her comment with a response. He changed into a kitten and was ready to go again when Barriss Offee walked into the training salle.

 

She nodded to Anakin in acknowledgement and then turned to Ahsoka. “May I speak with you?”

 

Ahsoka’s eyes darted down to Anakin for a moment before she replied “Sure.”

 

Barriss closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Anakin could feel her pulling on the Force to steady her nerves.

 

He and Ahsoka waited patiently for her to collect herself.

 

“I’ve decided to leave the Order,” she said finally, opening her eyes to catch Ahsoka’s reaction.

 

“What? Why?” Ahsoka asked, askance.

 

“This war has twisted the Jedi into something they should not be, and I no longer want any part of it,” Barriss practically snarled.

 

Anakin could feel her emotions race inside of her, spilling out into the Force and battering against his shields.

 

Ahsoka seemed to feel it too, but, rather than flinch away, she stepped forward and put her hand on Barriss’s shoulder. Some of the rage and indignation seemed to leak out of Barriss as she leaned into the touch.

 

“I just want to be able to stay true to myself, to Barriss Offee the healer, not Barriss Offee, Knight and General,” Barriss explained.

 

“You could stay and make a difference, help change things for the better. Being a Knight or a General isn’t a bad thing,” Ahsoka suggested calmly.

 

Barriss shook her head. “I’m just one person. Besides, it’s already too late. As of twenty minutes ago, I am no longer Knight Offee of the Jedi Order. I’m just Barriss now.”

 

“Well, I happen to like just Barriss very much. Thank you so much for telling me about your choice,” Ahsoka said with a sad smile.

 

Anakin felt a little like he was intruding on a private moment. Maybe he’d been wrong about her being too attached to that Bonteri kid. He narrowed his eyes and sat down to observe his padawan and her friend more closely, his tail twitching slightly.

 

“Actually, I wanted to ask you something as well,” Barriss said.

 

Anakin didn’t like the sound of that.

 

“Would you leave the Order with me?” she asked.

 

Ahsoka gaped at her. Anakin was barely able to hold back a hiss of displeasure. Leaving may have been best for Barriss, but he didn’t want to lose his padawan, not yet. It was too soon.

 

“I- I- I can’t,” Ahsoka stammered, her hand falling from Barriss’s shoulder.

 

“Ahsoka, there is a sickness, a darkness inside the Order, and it will contaminate everyone it touches. I- I care about you too much to just sit back and let that happen to you. Please, Ahsoka,” Barriss pleaded, her expression slightly wild.

 

“Barriss, the Order is my home. If it is corrupted, like you say, then I have to do what I can and fight to fix it. I’m sorry, but I can’t leave.”

 

Barriss’s shoulders slumped, and she turned her head, unable or unwilling to meet Ahsoka’s eyes. “Alright then. I’ll call you when I get a private comm set up. If you change your mind, just let me know. Goodbye Ahsoka.”

 

“Barriss, wait,” Ahsoka called, but it was too late.

 

Barriss had already left the training salle in a dejected flurry of black skirts.

 

Anakin felt conflicted. On one hand, he was glad that Ahsoka wasn’t going to leave him or the Order. On the other hand, he felt bad that Barriss was probably feeling abandoned. Yet on another hand - paw, maybe - he was relieved that she was getting away from somewhere she felt trapped in and smothered and alone. On the fourth paw, he felt a little angry that she had tried to take his padawan with her. Ahsoka had a support system and people who cared for her already.

 

However, right now Ahsoka needed him to be there for her more than he needed to figure out his feelings.

 

Anakin changed back into a human and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “Are you okay, Snips?”

 

“No,” she admitted, leaning into him.

 

He could feel her emotions through their bond, loss, grief, and confusion most prominent.

 

He hesitated only a moment before curling his other arm around her in a proper hug. She tucked her face into his chest and clung to him, her fingers curling into his tunics.

 

“It’ll be okay,” he said in a soothing tone, running his hand gently up and down her back. “You’ll see her again someday. Barriss is strong; she’ll be fine.”

 

“I know,” Ahsoka said, the slight hitch in her voice the only indication that she was holding back tears. “I just feel really empty right now.”

 

“I’m sure my clothes will be able to handle a few tears,” he said, unsubtly letting her know that it was okay for her to cry.

 

Ahsoka sniffed deeply then slowly, reluctantly let go of him and stepped back, her eyes still shining. “Thank you, Master, but I feel as if I need to improve my hand-to-hand skills right now.”

 

She bowed shallowly, her jaw clenched and her spine straight. Anakin could easily identify the signs of wanting to be strong even if you weren’t sure how. He felt helpless as she turned and left the room to go beat up some training dummies.

 

Barriss had been absolutely right that there was something wrong with the Order, Anakin realized, but he thought that Ahsoka’s approach was also right. He suspected, though, that the sickness might have started before the war began, long before.

 

Master Frenn thought that the Jedi were meant to serve the people outside of the war. The creature in his vision clearly thought that Jedi were lacking in love, although the specifics had been unclear. Anakin didn’t exactly agree with them, but he also wasn’t quite sure what he thought was wrong, just that something clearly was.

 

Anakin’s conflicting feelings hardened into a resolve to fix things, and make the Order right. He was the Chosen One, after all, so how hard could it be?

Chapter Text

Deciding to do something was a lot easier than actually doing it. Truthfully, Anakin had very few ideas on how to go about fixing the Jedi Order, especially when he wasn’t completely sure what was wrong with it. He tried meditating on it, but he’d never had much luck with it when Force visions weren’t actively flashing before his eyes, and this was no different. He’d tried talking to Padmé, but she didn’t really know the inner workings of the Order that much. Besides, something good had happened during her dinner with her fellow politicians, so Padmé had been in a mood to celebrate, which meant they’d both gotten a little distracted. Ahsoka was still hurting over Barriss, so most of his interactions with her were spent in training salles or watching cheesy holodramas over smuggled ice cream.

 

“If you could change one thing about the Order, what would it be?” he asked, staring at the actors and pretending as if he didn’t care about the answer.

 

Ahsoka was silent for so long that he though she hadn’t heard him, but eventually she said “Master, do you think there’s something wrong with the Order?”

 

“Yes, no, maybe? I’m not sure,” he admitted. “I think there are some areas where we could definitely do better, but I’m having trouble figuring out where those areas are. We both heard what Barriss thought, Master Frenn thinks along the same lines, and the temple that gave me the ability to turn into a kitten thinks we need more love, even though attachments are against the code.”

 

“I think you should talk to Master Obi-Wan,” she suggested, idly poking at her ice cream with her spoon.

 

Anakin almost immediately shot down her suggestion, but then he stopped and actually thought about it. Obi-Wan was on the High Council and had been raised as a Jedi, so he'd probably have a better idea of how to go about fixing the Order because he knew its inner workings. Besides, Obi-Wan almost always knew the answers to his questions, so even if he didn’t specifically know what was wrong Anakin was sure they’d be able to figure it out.

 

“That’s actually a pretty good idea, Snips. When did you get so smart?” he teased.

 

Ahsoka tossed her head haughtily. “It’s about time you recognized my genius.”

 

Anakin stared incredulously at her for a moment, and then they both started snickering uncontrollably.

 

“Sssshh,” Ahsoka stuttered ineffectively, too busy laughing to properly articulate herself. “The talented Courtesan is going to chose either the rich, beautiful Duchess or the - hehe - fiercely handsome Mandalorian soon.”

 

Anakin stifled his giggles as best as he could and decided to hunt down Obi-Wan once the holodrama was over.

 

They managed to watch the rest of it with only minimal interruptions to get more ice cream, and both of them were surprised by the end twist.

 

“I can’t believe both the Duchess and the Mandalorian were already married to each other when they tried to woo the Courtesan,” Ahsoka said.

 

“Yeah,” Anakin said, a strange feeling gathering in the pit of his stomach. “That was very unexpected. And the twist where Duchess was another Mandalorian the whole time.”

 

“Maybe the Duchess and the Mandalorian are actually the same person,” Ahsoka suggested in a ridiculous tone.

 

Anakin snorted. “I think you’ve been spending too much time with the clones if you’re getting that dramatic.”

 

Ahsoka paused. “Maybe. At least they managed to make everything work out in the end.”

 

Anakin pushed himself to his feet, wanting to stop talking about the holodrama for some reason. “Well, I’d better go see Obi-Wan now. Make sure to clean up and hide the ice cream.”

 

“Sure thing, Skyguy,” Ahsoka said, then grinned mischievously. “Make sure to tell Master Obi-Wan you love him.”

 

“What?” Anakin frowned, his mind going blank.

 

“What what?” Ahsoka asked, blinking at him innocently.

 

Anakin narrowed his eyes. “I am not in love with Obi-Wan.”

 

“I didn’t say anything about being in love with him,” Ahsoka pointed out, her brow markings climbing towards her headdress. “Just that you love him and that you probably agree with whatever turned you into a kitten about the love thing. It’s pretty obvious.”

 

“I- I have to go,” Anakin said, his cheeks burning as he swiftly made for the door. Maybe he could hide in the Room of a Thousand Fountains? No one would notice him there, especially if he was a kitten.

 

“You project your feelings more when you’re a cat,” Ahsoka called after him, laughter audible in her voice. She had definitely been spending too much time with the clone troopers if she was seeing drama where there wasn’t any.

 

Still, at least someone thought this was funny.

 

Anakin decided against going to the Room of a Thousand Fountains. Instead, like he always did when he was trying to avoid thinking about something, he went to the garage to work on damaged ships and speeders. His mind might have been a mess, but at least he could do something valuable with his spare time. No matter what he did, though, he kept going back to his conversation with Ahsoka, prodding at it like a sore tooth.

 

He wasn’t in love with Obi-Wan, was he?

 

Sure, Obi-Wan was smart, talented, strong, and had been there for Anakin when no one else had, but they also fought all the time. Except, that was a little more like bickering than actual fighting, and they were the best team in the Order, there was no doubt about that.

 

Anakin cursed under his breath when a loose wire burned the back of his hand because of his inattentiveness. It wasn’t that bad of a burn though, so he forced his mind back to the task at hand and continued digging through the innards of the speeder for the other half of the wire. He knew he should have had Artoo with him, but he wasn’t in the mood to listen to his friend’s snarky commentary.

 

That was another reason he couldn’t be in love with Obi-Wan: too much sarcasm for any one being to handle. It was kind of funny when Obi-Wan used it against someone else, though, even if it did often devolve into flirting, which was just another reason Anakin couldn’t be in love with him. Obi-Wan flirted with practically every adult except him. Why did he do that? What was so great about those people that made Obi-Wan flirt with them? Force, he even flirted with Ventress of all people. Clearly, Anakin couldn’t be in love with him because he had poor taste.

 

Well, Duchess Satine hadn’t been that bad. She seemed to have some of the same scary competence that made him love Padmé so much, so he could understand how Obi-Wan had fallen for her. She hadn’t seemed to appreciate what Obi-Wan felt for her though, which was pretty foolish in his opinion. If Obi-Wan was in love with him, Anakin would have refused to relinquish him for anything. Of course, Obi-Wan wasn’t in love with him, so that was kind of a moot point.

 

Sure, Obi-Wan was supportive, but that was his job. He would work himself to death for anyone who needed help. It was very annoying, actually, and sometimes it made Anakin want to just bundle him up in blankets and sit on him for a while until he slept.

 

The speeder switched off beneath his hands, which meant that there was something else wrong with it other than some loose wires.

 

As he ran a software check to make sure the source of the problem wasn’t there, Anakin idly wondered what it would be like to kiss Obi-Wan. His beard looked like it would feel soft, but there was no way of knowing unless he actually touched it. It might feel bristly and stiff against his face, his neck, his -

 

Anakin abruptly broke that chain of thought, his eyes widening in shock. Had he just been fantasizing about kissing Obi-Wan?

 

Oh Force, he had.

 

Why had he been thinking about kissing Obi-Wan if he wasn’t in love with him? He knew that people could experience attraction without feelings involved, but he’d never been that way.

 

The more he thought about it, the more Anakin realized that he wanted to imagine kissing Obi-Wan, of pinning him to a wall and leaning down just a little, not as much as he needed to with Padmé -

 

Oh kriff, Padmé. She was going to be so angry with him, and for good reason. He was her husband, and he had been thinking about kissing someone else, was possibly in love with -

 

Anakin set down the scanner and sat down, arms propped up on his knees and his head in his hands.

 

She was never going to forgive him, and Force, he was going to deserve every ounce of her scorn. He couldn’t lie to her though, go on pretending like everything was normal when it wasn’t . Anakin knew he would have to tell her, and if she told him to get out and never come back then he would do just that. He hoped he’d get a chance to beg for her forgiveness, but he wasn’t counting on it.

 

Was this another aspect of what the creature meant about how love destroyed things? His relationships falling apart because he was too stupid to keep from falling in love all over again.

 

Anakin had been in love with Padmé in some way, shape, or form for thirteen years, since he was a precocious nine-year-old who thought she was an angel, and now it was all about to crumble into nothing.

 

He checked the newly repaired speeder for any more damage and, finding none, started it up. His heart heavy, Anakin climbed on and steered it towards the Senate building so that he could confess to Padmé that he might be in love with Obi-Wan.

Chapter Text

Padmé wasn’t in her office when Anakin got there, but her aides were so used to seeing him that they let him in with little fuss. He didn’t even have to use his pre-crafted excuse about making sure the assassin didn’t have any accomplices.

 

Unfortunately, since she wasn’t there Anakin had time to go over his realization of just how badly he’d kriffed things up by going and falling in love with Obi-Wan. Padmé was going to be so mad that he’d probably be lucky if she didn’t want to dissolve their marriage.

 

Anakin felt like he couldn’t breathe, the weight of his thoughts constricting his chest. His mind was clamoring with panic and alarm, but most of all guilt. It was his fault, all his fault. Padmé wouldn’t want a husband who fell in love with other people. Obi-Wan would never love him either; he was the perfect Jedi.

 

He crumpled to the floor, curling in on himself as if to keep the negative thoughts from digging their claws any deeper into him. He didn’t know how long he laid there before he shifted into a kitten, hoping that a layer of fur would be better protection against his own insecurities, and climbed up on Padmé’s chair.

 

It smelled like her, and Anakin soaked up as much of her scent as he could get. It was soothing, although not as much as her actual presence was. Still, it did more to wash away his anxiety than anything else.

 

Anakin cast about for something else to think about other than the giant ball of guilt that was just waiting to coerce him into a panic attack as well as its source, anything else. He flexed his claws as he felt the anxiety seeping back, then froze as a thought occurred to him.

 

Was this why Jedi were forbidden from attachments? All of this internal anguish and fear, it was easy to see how the Jedi could think that it was dangerous. After all, letting fear consume you was the first step down the path to the Dark side, and Anakin had let himself feel all of it rather than releasing it to the Force.

 

Still, if attachments were so dangerous, why would a temple that splintered from the main Order because of them reveal how perilous love was to him?

 

The sound of the door swishing open kept him from spiralling further into his negative thoughts. He sat up, peering over the top of Padmé’s desk to see who had just entered her office.

 

Despite his intense feelings of guilt, Anakin started purring almost immediately when he saw that it was Padmé. Somehow, she always managed to make him feel better. She was so kind and beautiful and smart and brave, and she was going to be so upset with him once she realized why he was here.

 

“Anakin,” she said, a smile appearing on her face like the sun breaking through clouds. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

 

Anakin shifted back to human form before she could pick him up and took a step back. He didn’t deserve to touch her, not until she knew what he had done.

 

Padmé frowned. “Something’s wrong.”

 

He nodded, not trusting himself to speak. He needed to ease his way into this confession, help her understand that he didn’t mean to fall in love with Obi-Wan. He couldn’t just blurt it out like he had done to Barriss.

 

“Tell me,” she said. “Please.”

 

Anakin could never deny her anything.

 

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, the words sticking in the back of his throat. “It was an accident, please, you have to believe me. I would never do it on purpose.”

 

“Anakin, what is it? What happened?” Padmé asked, stepping forward and reaching for him.

 

His knees nearly gave out when she touched his face. “It was an accident, I swear.”

 

“I can’t help you unless you tell me what’s wrong,” Padmé said, rubbing her thumb over his cheekbone.

 

Anakin leaned into her touch before he could help himself, but he flinched away as soon as he realized what he was doing. “I’m in love with Obi-Wan,” he admitted in a small voice.

 

Padmé blinked. “Well, of course.” She paused, her eyes widening. “Wait, have you only just realized this?”

 

Anakin’s mind stuttered to a halt. He had absolutely no clue how to respond to what Padmé had said.

 

Padmé kept speaking. “You two just seemed to understand each other so well, and your face lights up whenever you’re talking about him. Well, except when you’re complaining about how he doesn’t pay attention to you. I knew after Geonosis that I wasn’t the only person in your heart, and I was okay with that.”

 

He opened his mouth, then closed it, unsure of what to say. Padmé was too good for him. Hopefully she never realized that.

 

“Come here,” Padmé said, pulling him up and into a hug. Anakin sagged into her arms, so relieved that she hadn’t pushed him away.

 

“I thought you would hate me,” he said, burying his face in her hair.

 

“Oh, Anakin, no, I could never hate you,” she promised, running her hands up and down his back.

 

“Can- can I stay with you? Just for a little while?” he asked tentatively.

 

“Yes, of course. Whatever you need. I have to review some bills before I go home, but after that I’m all yours,” she said.

 

“I can stay out of the way while you do that, maybe hide in the back,” Anakin offered. “Or maybe come back later.”

 

“If you were a kitten, no one would suspect a thing,” Padmé suggested.

 

Anakin lit up, pulling back from the hug and beaming at her. “You’re a genius.”

 

He shifted into his kitten form and stared up at Padmé, silently begging her to pick him up. She cheerfully obliged, setting him onto her lap once she sat down and started working. A loud purr rumbled out of his chest when she began scratching behind his ears.

 

Anakin had no idea what he was going to do about Obi-Wan, nor how he was going to go about fixing whatever was wrong with the Jedi Order. However, for now he was completely happy.

 

His fear and anxiety had so consumed him that he’d forgotten that love had been described as beautiful too in his vision. Sure, it was capable of destroying his life, but he wouldn’t have a life worth living without the people he loved.

Chapter Text

The beep of a comm going off pulled Anakin from his light doze. He blinked up at Padmé and chirped.

 

“It’s Ahsoka. Do you want me to answer it?” she asked.

 

Anakin sighed and nodded. Apparently a few hours of rest was all he was going to get.

 

A small blue Ahsoka sprung to life above Padmé’s comm once she answered.

 

“Good afternoon, Senator Amidala. Have you seen Master Skywalker anywhere?” Ahsoka asked.

 

“Do you have a message for him?” Padmé asked, blatantly avoiding the question.

 

Ahsoka sighed. “Master Kenobi has been looking for him. I believe the Council has a few more questions for him regarding the Temple that turned him into a kitten.”

 

Anakin pulled his paws over his ears; he didn’t want to talk to the Council right now, or ever.

 

“I’ll let him know when I see him next. Thank you for the call,” Padmé said.

 

Ahsoka nodded and hung up.

 

Anakin let himself have one more moment to enjoy sitting in Padmé’s lap before he jumped down to the floor and changed back.

 

“Thanks,” he said, bending and pressing a kiss to Padmé’s forehead. “For listening and letting me stay.”

 

“Of course, Ani.” She stood and hugged him, tucking her head under his chin. “Be careful when you talk to Obi-Wan, though.”

 

“What do you mean?” he asked, pulling back to look at her.

 

“Just that Obi-Wan isn’t me. He might not react as well as I did when you tell him about how you feel,” Padmé said.

 

Anakin frowned. Padmé was right - of course she was - but he didn’t feel comfortable lying to Obi-Wan. “Doesn’t he deserve to know, though?”

 

“You told me that Jedi weren’t allowed to fall in love, to be in relationships. Obi-Wan’s been a Jedi his whole life. Maybe it would be a better idea to figure out how he feels before you say anything,” she suggested.

 

Anakin sighed. “Maybe. I’d better go see what the Council wants. Thanks for listening. I love you.”

 

“I love you too,” Padmé said. She leaned in to steal one last kiss. “Now get going.”

 

Anakin skedaddled.

 

0o0o0

 

Obi-Wan was waiting for him when Anakin got back to the Temple, both of their travel bags in hand.

 

“What’s with the bags? I thought the Council wanted to know more about the temple on Asinonyk,” Anakin said, prompting Obi-Wan to explain the bags.

 

“Actually, the Council already came to a decision about that,” Obi-Wan said, directing Anakin to a small transport of a model that he was unfamiliar with, only big enough to fit a few people. “You and Ahsoka, as the only two Jedi familiar with the planet, will be escorting me as I do as much research as possible.”

 

“Ah,” Anakin said as he tried to suppress a flare of panic. Obi-Wan was good at research, and he would inevitably discover the secret to how Anakin managed to become human again if he saw enough of the temple to puzzle out an explanation. After all, he already knew that it was created by a faction who split from the Order over attachments.

 

“Our main focus should be on figuring out how they managed to turn people into kittens by touching a statue, as transforming something using the Force is well outside of our current abilities. We need to learn about it and also keep the Sith from discovering it,” Obi-Wan explained as he led the way into the transport.

 

Ahsoka was waiting for them in the co-pilot’s seat, going through the pre-flight procedures on the navcomputer. Anakin slid into the pilot’s seat while Obi-Wan put their bags away.

 

“Did you plot out the route yet?” Anakin asked.

 

“Everything’s set and ready to go when you are, Skyguy,” Ahsoka said.

 

“Thanks, Snips.”

 

All too soon, they were in hyperspace, heading to Asinonyk. Anakin could tell that Obi-Wan had questions, but thankfully he held off on them until they reached the planet.

 

There was a noticeable difference in how the living Force on Asinonyk felt to him now. On his first visit, it had been an anticipatory, watchful thing, waiting for him to trip up, to make a mistake. Now, though, he’d already made the mistake. He’d touched the statuette, become a cat, and figured out what he needed to know. And so the currents of the Force welcomed him back, amused at his temerity in returning to a place that had been anything but friendly.

 

Obi-Wan and Ahsoka clearly noticed something was happening with the Force, but they refrained from mentioning it while Anakin brought them in to land in the same clearing as last time.

 

“Do you remember the best way to the temple?” Obi-Wan asked once they were all out of the ship, gazing at the looming jungle.

 

Anakin shrugged. “I just trusted in the Force, and it didn’t lead me wrong.”

 

“It did turn you into a kitten, though,” Ahsoka pointed out.

 

Anakin smirked. “You say that like there’s a downside. I’m more adorable than ever now, and I can grow claws.”

 

“And you’re easily stepped on,” Ahsoka argued. “I mean, it’s fun to throw you around, Skyguy, but I don’t know if I’d want to risk it.”

 

“Anyone who steps on me is in for a hell of a surprise,” Anakin said. “It’s a great way to be inconspicuous, too. Who looks at a kitten and thinks ‘Ah, yes, that is obviously a highly skilled Jedi on a mission’? Nobody, that’s who.”

 

Ahsoka tilted her head to the side, considering. “Hmm, that’s a good point. Do you think I’d turn into a kitten? Or maybe I’d be something from Shili.”

 

“Padmé had some ideas on that, actually,” Anakin admitted, scratching the back of his head. “She thinks that kitten is just the default setting because the transition from adult to infant is enough for adults to handle, but a transition from infant to adult would be really bad for any kids or babies who touched the statue.”

 

“Maybe the Jedi who used to live here exposed their younglings to it so that everyone could be a cat whenever they felt like it, and they just never changed the setting back,” Ahsoka suggested. She then paused and looked around the clearing. “Hey, did Master Obi-Wan already head out without us?”

 

Anakin froze, then whipped his head around the clearing, searching for Obi-Wan. It was futile, though; he could feel Obi-Wan’s Force signature deeper in the jungle.

 

Ahsoka grimaced. “Let’s just hope he’s still human when we find him.”

 

This trip through the tangle of the underbrush went much quicker than his first journey, as if the Force wanted him to reach his destination as soon as possible. It wasn’t soon enough, though.

 

A tiny orange ear was all that was visible of Obi-Wan underneath his pile of clothes next to the statuette that had started everything.

 

Anakin cursed under his breath. He would have to explain quite a to Obi-Wan, and it might get him expelled from the Order if Obi-Wan was feeling particularly angry. Strangely, he didn’t feel fearful about the prospect as he had three years ago on Geonosis, but it still wasn’t ideal.

 

A low, rumbling hiss and a vicious glare was his only thanks when Anakin pulled Obi-Wan out of the clothes and held him against his chest.

 

“And people call you the reckless one,” Ahsoka said, shaking her head with a snort. “You should probably turn him back now.”

 

“Alright. Are you sure you don’t want to give being a kitten a go? Now’s probably your only chance. Once I explain things to Obi-Wan he’s not going to want that statue anywhere near other Jedi.”

 

Ahsoka had a strange look on her face when she glanced at him. “Are you sure you’ll be able to change me back?”

 

He had brought her back from the dead once. Kissing her on the forehead would be no big deal. “Of course, Snips.”

 

She sucked in a deep breath and slowly let it out before she nodded. “Alright. Here I go.”

 

The change was much more underwhelming from the outside - it happened in an instant, one moment a teenage Togruta was touching the cat statuette and the next a gray and white kitten was squirming out of her clothes.

 

“I’ll explain later, but first you should close your eyes,” Anakin told Obi-Wan in an undertone. Once Obi-Wan had done so, Anakin leaned down, closed his own eyes, and kissed Ahsoka on the forehead. “Let us know when we can look.”

 

A few moments later, Ahsoka said “I’m decent,” and they opened their eyes.



Obi-Wan tilted his head to the side in order to give Anakin an inquisitive stare once he had verified that Ahsoka wasn’t a kitten any longer, prompting him to begin the explanation. Anakin wavered for a moment, wondering if he should turn Obi-Wan back before he told him anything, but in the end he decided against it. It was much harder to be intimidated by a kitten-shaped person than a person-shaped person.

 

Still, it was hard to figure out where to begin. This was just like with the talk with Barriss, except the potential consequences would be much greater if he screwed up. How could he get Obi-Wan to see his side of the story? Where would he even start? With his marriage to Padmé, with the day he brought Ahsoka back to life, with some of the many problems he had seen in the Jedi Order? Should he mention that his love for Obi-Wan was romantic, or should he just be vague about it?

 

No, he knew where he should start.

 

“As we were leaving the planet after I touched the statuette, I had a vision. I think it was from the temple, like some sort of guardian spirit. Anyways, it told me this really bad riddle…”