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Obi-Wan doesn’t ask where Padmé is when C-3PO opens the door, but Anakin sees him register her absence and knows his old master doesn’t need to ask to know where his wife is.  Vice-Chancellor Amidala is where she always is –– at the Senate, trying to keep the Republic from disintegrating into utter chaos around their ears.  It is, of course, a worthy goal.  They’ve fought too long and too hard to let things go now.  But it isn’t a very warm thing to tell Luke and Leia when they cry for their mother at night. 

 

This, Anakin sometimes thinks, is the real reason why Jedi have traditionally not been allowed to have families: the constant pull, not only of duty against affection, but of one duty against another –– the tension between knowing that every night you come home late is a day your children don’t see you and also knowing that any moment you give less than uour best to the Republic can make a difference in untold lives, the lives of other parents and children scattered across the galaxy, countless faces you’ll never meet. 

 

He doesn’t say all this to Obi-Wan, doesn’t say I get it now, Master.  Luke and Leia are worth everything, and as for Padmé Anakin wouldn’t have her any other way.  He’s lost his impatience with politics, his burning urge to simply force a way.  The cost of power is too high.  Besides, there is no point in telling Obi-Wan what he already knows.

 

Even a Jedi cannot change the past. 

 

So he hands over Leia, instead, and lets Obi-Wan pace gently through the motions of an ages-old exercise for Younglings with her, while he holds Luke and watches them play.  And then, because all things in their due time, he takes Leia back and watches Luke spar with Uncle Obi.  For a special treat, Obi-Wan helps tuck them in and tells them a bedtime story, some lighthearted tale about one of his early missions with Qui-Gon Jinn. 

 

Qui-Gon Jinn is a legend now, years too late. 

 

(Would it ever have made a difference?) 

 

(Maybe this is the difference he made.) 

 

Obi-Wan doesn’t comment when the twins murmur their goodnights in a language learned from neither of their parents but a dissident adopted aunt. 

 

(One of these days, Ryn will maybe even be all right.) 

 

Then they retire to the kitchen to talk shop. 

 

It is an experience at once familiar and strange: sitting with Obi-Wan in the evening and discussing strategy.  Familiar because, after all, they have done this so many times before.  Strange because it’s never been quite like this –– rarely in such opulent surroundings, and of course none of the places they’ve stayed in have ever belonged to either of them.  Padmé’s apartment, for better or worse –– better and worse –– is home. 

 

“There’s been fighting on Ryloth again,” Obi-Wan says, and Anakin straightens to give the Jedi Master his full attention.