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Reasonable Sacrifice

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He’s old.

Silver-haired, round-faced, weighed down with stolen years. Older than the scanty four and a half decades he lived. A grandfather, though his children are childless -- barely past twenty and driven by the same purpose that consumed him.

This is how he should have ended: an elderly man, lying in bed a century from now, his descendants shadowed by nothing but grief. Yet a thought drifts into his mind and refuses to leave, following him no matter how he twists and darts away: it isn’t what happened, isn’t true by any measure of truth. It’s smooth and slippery, the truth, and he slips with it. His form forms and reforms, shifts past a multitude of selves, settles.

He’s young.

His hair is as fair as his son’s, his skin smoother, unmarred by anything but a scar near his eye. He is neither Father nor the other, but merely himself, the last time he was himself. Before the end, the cessation of self that his second master termed death.

This would have been a good time to die, too. Before the few unfettered scraps at the edge of his nature overpowered the rest. Before he darkened his mother’s name, perhaps forever. Before the children who admired him, the enemies who feared him, the family who trusted him all suffered at his hands. Before the fire, too, the death that would have been slower and more excruciating than any he's ever dealt out, had it happened.

But it did not.

Certainly he was not himself, at that moment, or in the years that followed. But neither was he wholly not himself. The other Jedi are still unsure to what degree he can even be held responsible for his various crimes. Nobody has ever come back; as always, they have no protocol for him.

That is the question: what can he justly be blamed for?

Everything, he would say (as his daughter says), but he now refuses (as his son refused) to submit his will and his destiny to others. He will take his children for his guide, in all the uncompromising duty and fierce independence that, despite everything, they share.

He is standing by a pool, and unsurprised to see another form reflected back: not young, not old, the face a little weathered, the hair a little darker, lines deepening about the eyes and nose and mouth. He stands tall and straight, and knows that it will not always be so. Not like the others, who define themselves by the moment of their death, or by some accomplishment, and fix themselves there.

Not for him. Everlasting life and glory may await him, after the penance, but they are nothing to the twins. To be sure, he can take little enough credit for them; yet, he gave his life to keep them safe, and he succeeded. After a hundred generations of Skywalkers born into slavery and death, his children are free. He is the Chosen One, he balanced the Force, destroyed the Sith forever, and he doesn't care: this is the accomplishment by which he defines himself.

Obi-Wan may remain the hermit, and Yoda the mystic, but Anakin will be Luke and Leia Skywalker’s father into eternity. He will change as they change, constantly shifting, evolving, recreating himself. Something tells him that this is as it should be: that, in some way, this is what he was made for.