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All I can do to keep you safe (is hold you close)

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“We must separate the twins,” Obi-Wan says quietly, hating the idea even as he says it. Bail and Yoda nod with similar reluctance, but Obi-Wan senses the faint hope in Bail, the deep concern in Yoda, and wonders if either of their doubts are sincere at all.

“No.”

Padmé’s eyes are open, when Obi-Wan spins on his heel. “They stay together.”

 


 

They do, too. They stay together, Luke and Leia, sleeping side-by-side in a floating cradle by the foot of Padmé’s bed.

She wanted to return to the apartment she and Anakin shared, Before, but Obi-Wan managed to convince her that it was impossible. The Temple, too, is no safe haven, and the former Senate the same, and so they have placed themselves in Bail Organa’s hands, and have been richly rewarded for it.

“There is still good in Anakin,” she says firmly, her voice so strained and weak by Anakin’s attack that it will likely never recover, but her spirit already burning bright once more. “Even if he has lost it in himself, it lives on in our children. I know it, General. You know it, too.”

Obi-Wan does not know it, because he saw the hatred in Anakin’s eyes on Mustafar, and the rage, and such things are not of the Light. Anger, yes, passion, but not directed as Anakin has directed his, in recent times.

No one truly of the Light could ever bear the title Darth . That, Obi-Wan knows without a doubt.

“I will not fail my children,” Padmé says, exhausted already by what little conversation they’ve managed. “I failed Anakin, but the children will be better.”

 


 

As soon as Padmé is well enough, Obi-Wan finds himself chopping off her long, thick hair, shaving his beard, and passing himself off as her husband. They dress themselves in dusty, travelworn clothes that Senator Organa delivers from sources unknown, and with credits kindly gifted by Bail’s urgent hands, they buy passage to Naboo.

Obi-Wan thinks it’s madness, to return to her home, where Anakin will surely look first for the wife he is so obsessed with, but Padmé is insistent that her sister will guarantee her safety, and that the people of her home would never allow harm to come to her, their most beloved former Queen.

Obi-Wan is more concerned that they might discover her and crown her once more, as they had tried at the end of her second and final term as Queen, but he doesn’t say that aloud. Padmé would not welcome any criticism of her people, and is so clearly desperate for the safety she is sure awaits them that what little weight she has regained since the birth of the twins seems inadequate, leaves her cheeks hollow where they should be round.

 


 

Obi-Wan has not considered the twins much, before now, and yet he finds himself carrying the two of them in the crooks of his elbows more often than not, during their long journey.

They are not even three Coruscant months old, yet, but already he can- he can feel them, warm little lights in the Force as much as they are warm little weights in his arms, and the rush of something he does not recognise which fills his chest whenever Leia squirms and Luke yawns, well, it is dangerously close to what he felt for Anakin, protectiveness and fondness and love, and Obi-Wan knows that if these two tiny people betray him so completely as their father did, it will be his undoing.

He still does not know how he survived Anakin’s loss, after all, and he knows that Padmé, sleeping against his shoulder as he watches the twins’ round little faces in fascination, feels the same.

 


 

Leia begins to walk before Luke.

Padmé laughs, bright and full and slightly hollow, as Leia toddles across the plush carpet towards her, Luke scooting himself along on his bottom in her wake, and Obi-Wan wonders how long this can last.

They have been on Naboo for seven months, by the Coruscanti calendar, and there has not been even the slightest echo of the newborn Empire in their little sphere. Obi-Wan remains vigilant, terrified that the burned, empty husk of Anakin will find them here, will sense all the people who are the most important to him gathered in one place, and the thought of Padmé and the children defenseless against Vader’s power is the only thing that stops him from slipping into the shadows at night.

How can he fail Anakin’s wife and children, after already failing Anakin so completely?

 


 

“You worry too much,” Padmé tells him one night, when the lake is perfectly still beyond the wooden veranda and the moons high and pale in the dark sky. “We are safe here. I have made sure of it.”

“And if the Emperor sends his bloodhound after us?” Obi-Wan asks, startling a little when Padmé’s strong, warm hand wraps tight around his wrist. “What do we do then, Senator?”

“We fight, General,” she says evenly, the wicked edge of her smile belying her ever-hoarse voice. “Neither of us might like it very much, but we’ve proven ourselves to be very good at it, haven’t we?”

He laughs, for the first time since his last conversation with Cody, since Utapau, and follows the tug of Padmé’s hand on his wrist, slipping into the shadows in her wake.

Luke snores like a Wookie, and Leia chatters a stream of nonsense in her sleep, and Obi-Wan feels more at home in this strange place than he ever has in his life.

 


 

Obi-Wan blushes for the first time in his adult life when he catches Padmé watching him.

He doesn’t know why -  why she’s watching, why he’s blushing - since he is only carrying the twins back from the lake, one balanced on either hip. Leia, who has recently discovered the word more, points back toward the water and insists on their return, and Luke nods his agreement. Luke is not so talkative as his sister, more thoughtful in a way that clearly puzzles Padmé, but Obi-Wan recognises that same thoughtfulness and consideration as an echo of a young Queen, just as he recognises Leia’s forthrightness as a reflection of a pod-racer long forgotten.

But he forgets everything altogether, when he catches Padmé watching him, and he blushes.

 


 

“Your beard suits you better,” she tells him as the twins wrestle one another on the sloping lawn above the lake. “Than being clean-shaven, I mean.”

“It is impossible,” he says, thoughtless, “without a barber to help maintain it. It grows so quickly.

Padmé laughs, and the hollowness that has soured her joy this past year-and-five-months-by-the-Coruscant-calendar seems gone. Her hand is so warm, when she presses it to Obi-Wan’s cheek, and her eyes are even warmer.

“If you learn to braid Leia’s hair,” she says, teasingly serious, “I will trim your beard.”

He blushes again, ducking his head so that her hand is curled more firmly around his jaw, and smiles.

“A fair exchange, Senator,” he says softly, daring to look her in the eyes through his fringe. “And perhaps the first of many.”

 


 

He has not flirted since… Well, he hasn’t flirted very much ever, truth be told.

Siri and he were so close that there had been no need for flirting, and they had sworn that would never come to anything, anyways, and Satine had done all the necessary flirting - not very much, in hindsight - to tease Obi-Wan into revealing his own feelings.

So this thing that is growing between himself and Padmé, it is strange and unknown, and all the more terrifying because of it. The twins are unknown, but they are a tangible unknown, something he can set his hands on and set right when it is upset, but the balance of his relationship with Padmé is shifting so quickly he can hardly keep his feet.

“I don’t need to be wooed, General,” Padmé says, spilled across a thickly upholstered couch in a nightgown of pale green silk and not much else. Obi-Wan’s cheeks and neck and ears are burning, and Padmé’s smile is so knowing he could burst. “You are charming enough without any flirtation, I promise.”

The burning spreads right down his chest and settles low in his belly, and Obi-Wan excuses himself to take a swim in the lake, under the icy watch of Tasia.

 


 

“Mine,” Leia insists one day, holding tight to the hem of Obi-Wan’s tunic, and Luke mirrors her position at his other hip, nodding his agreement.

Obi-Wan is not sure which will kill him first - the blush that floods his face at Padmé’s laughter, or the pride in so clearly belonging here, with the twins, with their mother, in their home. He does not think he minds.

 


 

“He will never harm you,” Obi-Wan assures her, winding his fingers through hers as she stares at where the holo from her sister had projected. “I will not allow it.”

She squeezes his hand in return, her jaw set when she looks up at him from beneath all that hair.

“We stay together,” she agrees, and that is that.