A Glimpse of White.
"You can't win, Vader. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."
Obi-Wan Kenobi, A New Hope.
Obi-Wan sensed Luke's presence before he caught sight of him. Allowing himself a moment's pause from the duel, he met the boy's gaze, noting his startled expression, in reaction to the sight before him, an old wizard fighting with the second most feared being in the Empire.
Obi-Wan let his eyes travel from the shocked young man to the hangar bay that lay behind him, where Han, Chewbacca, Leia - thank the Force -, and the droids were making their escape to the Millennium Falcon. The craft's gangplank was still down, a remnant from the interrupted search by the Imperials, the running lights on, in concert with its brightly lit surroundings. A flash of white appeared by the entryway, a sharp contrast to the colours within the ship, causing his sea shade eyes to focus in alarm, then widen in understanding before the hiss of Vader's blade clashing with his own weapon brought him sharply back to his present circumstances.
With a flick of his wrist Obi-Wan disarmed his old apprentice. Vader fell to his knees clutching his injured limb, his mask seeming to convey an injured incredulity which harked back to a similar move nearly twenty years ago. Unlike then there was no time now for recriminations or explanations, nor did Obi-Wan feel they were necessary. He had come to terms with the betrayal a long time ago. Without pause he stepped out of the corridor to Luke's side and took the blaster from the boy's hand, firing a shot at the door controls, preventing the cavalry of stormtroopers who were marching towards Vader's location from pursuing them.
"Still so uncivilised," he murmured in judgement of the blaster, before tossing the weapon away, then with a hand clasped on Luke's shoulder, hurrying himself and the boy to the Millennium Falcon, dodging enemy fire on the way.
It was clear Luke had questions about what he had just witnessed, but wisely chose to defer them in favour of helping the others in their escape from the Death Star. Obi-Wan saw him to the cockpit, where he lingered long enough to realise that his own assistance was not required, then returned to the passenger area, where he took a steady seat and waited.
She joined him a few minutes later, taking a place beside him as the sound of gunfire from the turrets reached their ears. For a moment they sat in silence, savouring each other's presence, then Obi-Wan turned to ask her how long she had been on board.
"Since Mos Eisley," Padmé replied. "I left Alderaan shortly after the Tantive sent a distress call. After the transport dropped me off, I searched for a ride to the farmsteads until I managed to catch sight of you with Chewbacca in the cantina. I then followed you to the docking port. I boarded the ship without anyone else seeing, found a place to hide, where I waited until I heard the lightsabers. I knew that sound could only mean you, so I ventured out to the gangplank, and then you saw me."
"Your appearance was timely," he confessed, "I was about to make one of the biggest mistakes of my life."
"I know. And considering you rescued me from one of mine, I thought that it was only fair to pay you back in kind."
"You were far kinder to me than I was to you," he judged as he wrapped an arm around her, drawing her to his side. "I was still too angry with you and him, when I emerged from my hiding place to rescue you all those years ago."
"Oh, don't be thinking I'm not," she informed him. "But now is not the time nor the place to rail at you, especially as you're aware of your own stupidity. Sense came to me only after it was too late."
"From a certain point of view," he countered. "You were under a great deal of stress at the time. And there was much more to come," he added, thinking of all that followed that fateful confrontation on Mustafar. How before that he had paid a visit to her apartment on Coruscant, confessed what he had seen on the recordings at the Temple concerning Anakin, that it was Yoda's opinion that his apprentice had fallen to the darkside of the Force. She had been incredulous at first, unable to believe it, even when she knew something that he did not, a prior event that should have warned her, could have warned him if only he had known of it, that Anakin was heading down a dark path.
Too shocked to conceal her pregnancy, she sank down on a sofa as he had asked her if she knew where Anakin was, her mind still reeling from the news she received. It was only then that she realised why he was asking, and confronted him with it. His response was not a confirmation, but nor was it a denial either, which left her unable to give him the answer he wanted. His parting comment had struck her so much, that it was not until later, after she had confronted Anakin on Mustafar, discovered that Obi-Wan had snuck aboard her ship to face Anakin himself, before falling to the dormant volcanic ground unconscious, choked by her now former husband, when she was woken within the asteroid medical facility to give birth, that she could summon the courage needed to tell him the truth.
"How did you endure it?" she asked him softly, with memories of that moment fresh in her mind. "All those years, watching him from afar?"
"Much the same as you, I imagine," he mused. "Watching her."
She shrugged her own suffering away, it seemed nothing in comparison with his years of hermitage on Tatooine. "I had Bail and Breha's quiet sanction, whereas you received almost nothing of the kind from Owen Lars." She paused before adding, "I still don't understand why he hated you so much, he barely knew you before you came to Tatooine to give them Luke. When I was there, he seemed a kind young man."
"A lot of the animosity was because of Anakin," he explained. "From what I can gather Shmi painted a different picture of him from how he was when the two of you were there. And I think he blamed me for failing to help in that regard, along with causing the death of his stepbrother and placing him and Beru in danger from the Empire when the Luke's heritage started to emerge."
"And you never told them the truth," she admonished him astutely. "You're too modest for your own good at times."
"How could I tell them the truth," he argued, "it would have only placed them in even more danger than they already were. As it was, even the little they knew failed to save them from their fate, though Beru was kind enough to warm me of the droids' arrival before the stormtroopers found them." He went on then, to tell her what had happened to them, the report he heard from Luke, when the boy returned to their makeshift funereal rites for the murdered Jawas, after dashing off when he realised that the stormtroopers would have followed the trail that led from the Jawas to the Lars homestead.
"And what about Luke?" She queried after expressing her sorrow at the loss of Owen and Beru Lars. "Does he know the truth?"
"Not yet," Obi-Wan answered. "I wanted to tell them both together, when the present crisis had abated. Of course that was before I felt Alderaan's destruction. Since then I've been rather distracted." This last was directed towards her with a slight smile.
Shifting herself in his embrace she tilted her face towards his, returning the gesture. "May I distract you some more?"
"With pleasure," he murmured before her lips met his. The touch was gentle at first, a reintroduction in consideration of a long separation. He returned the tenderness in kind, in view of the years that had passed since the last time they allowed themselves this indulgence. Then as the years faded in favour of their present shared sensations, gentleness gave way to a passion and an energy which belied the twilight of their years, harking back to a mutual misspent series of youthful indiscretions.
As the ship jumped into hyperspace they parted, knowing their privacy would soon be disturbed. Obi-Wan gave her an appraising gaze, noting how kind the years had been to the woman he loved, his mind contrasting her current looks from the memory of when he had last held her like this, after she had recovered from the medicated sleep required to endure her state funeral. Not too long after that event they parted, he for Tatooine, she for Alderaan to watch over the twins. Neither had expected to see each other so soon, the recovery of the Death Star plans a surprising shard of light in these dark times.
His warm appreciation showed in his expression with a soft smile and desiring glint that added lustre to his sea shade eyes. It was a look which reminded her of their first time spent in an embrace such as this, when she sought his comfort from fears of there being truth in the reports of her husband's death. He had been equally concerned for his apprentice and grateful for the chance to spend time with another who shared his emotions and provide comfort, instead of both being alone to suffer their worries in silence.
In hindsight the worry proved unnecessary for the reports were unfounded, rendering their actions that evening and night a shade more forbidden than they would have been if the reports proved to be true. Yet despite what that colouring lent to their time together, neither regretted their conduct for it had resulted in the conception of the two who were the most precious beings in the universe to them.
Obi-Wan pressed a kiss to her hair, then they were both obliged to turn their focus from each other to their surroundings, as the Force warned him they had company, in the form of the two whose care they had been charged with these past nineteen years. Their children together for the first time since their birth. Somehow that thought was a far more heady sensation than the first glimpse they caught of each other after almost two decades spent apart.
Four pairs of eyes stared at each other for a seemingly endless moment, taking each other in, the full measure that they could from appearances. On one side it was an unfair advantage, as they knew the full truth behind the mystery which they currently presented to the other two concerning their identities and motives in bringing them together.
It was time to restore the balance.
"Luke, Leia, sit down," Obi-Wan kindly requested. "Padmé and I have something to tell you."