To the galaxy at large, there is nothing suspicious about the two women walking through the busy market street, each carrying a child on their hip, one dressed in faded indigo blue and the other in charcoal grey. They cover their hair and faces but this too is not unusual. They talk quietly to each other before the grey one purchases something from a shopkeeper’s stall. With a bow of her head she turns back to the other woman and hands over a small sachet of candied fruit wrapped in flimsi.
The children on their hips are delighted.
The women continue onwards, carefully meandering through the crowd, standing too close to be anything other than family but look nothing alike. The blue garbed woman is petite and the occasional glimpse behind her protective scarf reveals a stunning beauty with delicate features and wide brown eyes framed by a loose brunette curls. She looks every inch the mother of the small young girl in her arms.
The grey woman is taller, sharper and there is an air of danger about her movements. Her eyes are blue with bits of green and grey and they are always watching, staring out at the world with lupine wariness. The boy on her hip has hair of golden wheat and his eyes are blue like the sky at noon. It is clear he is not hers and yet he clings to her just as tightly as any child would to its mother.
To the keen eye, they are a family unit and to the clever observer, they are a lady and her knight, on the run from the shadow always nipping at their heels.
“Luke and Leia are getting tired,” the brunette murmurs, reaching out with a soft hand to touch the shoulder of her auburn haired beloved. “Let’s go back to the ship.”
“We’re missing a part to the power coupler,” came the equally tired reply. “I would like to find a replacement sooner rather than later. Why don’t you three go back to the ship?”
“And give you the opportunity to slip away from us?” the smaller woman snorts, shaking her head and wrapping her hand around the other’s. “No. We’ll all find the power coupler or we’ll all return to the ship, Obi-Wan.”
“Not so loud,” Obi-Wan hisses as she looks back at the woman beside her. “We don’t know who’s listening.”
“No one is listening,” the brunette sighs and shifts her child on her hip, the girl yawning and snuggling closer as she chews on her candy. “Come. Let’s go back. You’re getting that look again.”
“And what look is that, Padme?” Obi-Wan sighs, turning her head to kiss Luke on the top of his head as he mumbles his agreement with his mother. “Do you have an exhaustive list of my Looks?”
“We thought about making one,” Padme chuckles softly, for a moment forgetting that “we” is plural and that the other person necessary to make the pronoun work was lost to them. “Please, my love, I’m tired and you look like you want to jump out of your skin. Let’s just head back and leave this place.”
Obi-Wan wants to leave but that power coupler will not handle another convoluted hyperspace jump. They have to stay long enough for her to get the part and replace it.
Time is a luxury they cannot afford.
“Fine,” Obi-Wan sighs, giving in to Padme’s gentle hand on her shoulder and the soft way she presses against her. She’s never been able to tell Padme “no”.
Not when she was a Padawan assigned to keep all of the Queen of Naboo’s handmaidens on the ship.
Not went Padme invited Obi-Wan into bed with her and Anakin.
Not when Padme begged her to run away, leaving Darth Vader and the chaos of the death of the Republic behind.
There was no place safe for them, a pregnant Senator and her Jedi lover, and so they took Padme’s ship and ran until they stole another and another until they finally gathered enough credits to abandon the last stolen ship and purchase a light freighter that looks identical to all the other ships in the shipyard.
It is home for the four of them and Obi-Wan lets out a sigh of relief when they are back on board and the twins are tucked up together in their bunk, their cheeks flushed with sleep.
Obi-Wan walks back up to the front of the ship and sits down in the pilot’s chair in the cockpit, scanning the incoming and outgoing signals with a black market item she won in a game of sabacc. The Imperial chatter is boring and routine and it is almost enough to put Obi-Wan to sleep.
“You know I hate it when you listen to that,” Padme’s voice is soft and gentle and she presses a mug of hot tea into Obi-Wan’s hands before she sits down in the co-pilot’s chair. “Anything interesting?”
“No,” Obi-Wan smiles, enjoying her tea and the sunlight shining through Padme’s hair from the windows. “Water is still wet. And the suns rise in the east.”
It was a favorite saying of Anakin’s when he was younger and Obi-Wan can’t quite remember when she started using it too.
Padme smiles, a distant, sad expression. “Any word on him?”
Obi-Wan shakes her head. “No. According to the holonet he attended a banquet in honor of our dear friend and Sith Lord, Emperor Palpatine. He cut quite the dashing figure I’m told.”
Padme sighs and shakes her head, sipping her tea. “He’s too handsome for his own good.”
“Indeed,” Obi-Wan chuckles bitterly, wondering for the hundredth time that week if giving into her desires and attachments had led the galaxy down this nightmare path. She was supposed to be better than that, stronger and unyielding in the face of temptation and yet…
“You’re brooding again,” Padme says, her voice soft and gently chiding. “Stop trying to carry the galaxy on your shoulders, Obi-Wan. You aren’t responsible for what Anakin has done.”
Padme stands up and crosses the space between the two of them, sliding a slim leg over Obi-Wan’s lap and settling down against her, delicate pale hands resting on tense, exhausted shoulders. “He made his own choices and we made ours. You did not turn him into that… that monster.”
Obi-Wan frowns up at Padme and sets her mug of tea to the side, unwilling to tell her beloved wife that she did. That they did. That by always giving Anakin what he wanted, who he wanted, they allowed the shadow of greed, of attachment to take root in his heart. They allowed the darkness in and let it take root while they spent all their time fighting a proxy war they didn’t even know they were losing.
But Padme doesn’t want to hear about Obi-Wan’s many theories into how she failed. She wants Obi-Wan to smile for her, to tell witty jokes and be the charming Cavalier Padme has always loved.
If Anakin was a storm, a dragon, an elemental creature bewitched by Padme’s ethereal beauty, Obi-Wan was a classic knight, vowing to love chastely from afar, to ride to her lady’s call and defend her honor and life. Anakin claimed and Obi-Wan wooed and Padme happily let them both into her bower and for a time they were happy and at peace.
The Queen, her Cavalier and their Dragon.
And then Padme was pregnant.
And Anakin’s nightmares started.
But these were not things to think about with Padme in her arms, soft silken warmth hiding a core of durasteel.
“Where do you go when you do that?” Padme asks, combing her fingers through Obi-Wan’s hair. “You look so far away and lost.”
“It’s not important,” Obi-Wan murmurs, looking up at her beloved, leaning into a caress. “Forgive me. It’s been some time since we’ve visited a system this populous. The crowds make nervous.”
“Perhaps you just need someone to take your mind off of things,” Padme teases, leaning down for the briefest kiss. “Especially that stupid power coupling.”
Obi-Wan chuckles and pulls Padme closer. “Hmmm… I would not complain should you desire to offer such a distraction, my lady.”
“I still don’t understand how Satine ever let you get away,” Padme sighs into a happy embrace, the two growing silent as they start a coy game of catch played with hungry kisses. “What was she thinking?”
“I don’t want to talk about Satine,” Obi-Wan murmurs, pulling Padme closer and silencing such talk with a hard embrace. “Unless you want to talk about Rush Clovis. I’ve heard enough about him to fill several data pads.”
Padme let out a giggle. “He was so jealous. It would have been amusing if the Separatists hadn’t tried to poison me.”
“See, this is the problem with you,” Obi-Wan laughs as she wraps her arms around Padme and stands up, carrying her to their bedroom. “Every time I leave you alone someone tries to assassinate you or kidnap you or marry you off to a Separatist leader. One would think you require round the clock Jedi surveillance.”
“Good thing I married the best Jedi the Order could provide, no?” Padme whispers, her voice warm and liquid, promising a momentary respite from fear and anxiety, a brief vacation from growing totalitarian nightmare they live in.
Obi-Wan let out a sound that did not at all sound convinced and perhaps a tad teasing. “I didn’t realize you had married Master Windu as well. Really, your majesty! How many Jedi are you married to?”
“Just the best,” Padme sighs happily as they sink down into their small bed.
For a short time, the rest of the world goes away and it’s just the two of them, Obi-Wan and Padme, twined together in a shared moment of love and desire.
It will take three days for the part to the power coupling to come in.
Three days Obi-Wan is almost positive they do not have.
She takes her lightsaber out of a locked box and hides it in a blaster holster. Padme says nothing but holds her arms open for a tight hug smoothing her hands across copper hair and tense shoulders. She lets Obi-Wan cling to her and have a moment of weakness, a moment of fear, hidden in the dark curls of Padme’s hair and her surprisingly strong embrace.
“Mumma! Obi-Mum!” a shriek of childish hysterics ends their quiet moment. “Bird! Biiiird!”
“Do you want to or shall I?” Obi-Wan murmurs releasing Padme with a sigh.
Padme kisses Obi-Wan and heads for the cockpit where a small little black bird has settled down just on the other side of the window where Luke and Leia are pretending to be pilots, shooting down Separatist vulture droids, twisting back and forth in their seats. The avian creature regards them with a cool yellow eye and shakes its feathers before tucking a head under a wing and going to sleep.
“What are you two doing up here?” Padme asks, kissing the top of Leia’s head and ruffling Luke’s hair. His does not curl as much as his father’s but other than that he is the very image of him, like an echo of a young boy now lost to Padme.
“Playing pilots!” Leia giggles as she arches up to give her mother a hug. “I’m the big pilot.”
“Oh?” Padme smiles, stroking Leia’s hair as Luke waves his hands, trying to use a furious scowl to scare the bird away. “That was very nice of you, Luke, to agree to be the co-pilot.”
Luke looked up at his mother and let out a soft huff. “Obi-Mum said to.”
“Oh, did she?” Laughing, Padme reaches down to pick up Luke, who shrieks with delight and does his best to escape her kisses and hug. Leia pouts and demands to be let in on the fun and affection and there is a small ruckus as the Amidalas try to find the right balance of kisses and seat space.
“Mumma! No fair! I wanna sit too!”
“No! Me! I wanna sit!”
Padme is about to call for reinforcements when they arrive in the form of a yelp from Leia and happy gasp. “Obi-Mum!”
“Oh, honestly,” Obi-Wan shakes her head, smiling down at the little brunette darling in her arms. “I leave you two alone for five minutes and you’ve already surrendered to the Queen of Naboo? For shame!”
Leia laughs and points at Luke. “Luke did it first!”
Padme smiles from where Luke is wrapped around her tighter than a kyysh vine and scowling at Leia with the full might of his tiny spirit. “I think we’re getting a little stir crazy. Why don’t we go get something to eat?”
“Can I have candy?” Leia asks, already delighted by the prospect of food.
“We shall see, little princess,” Obi-Wan says, already heading towards the door and pulling her hood up. “Are you two joining us or are there more vulture droids to kill?”
Luke breaks free from his mother’s grasp and runs to get his coat, Padme’s shawl and the keys to the ship. Padme strolls over to where Obi-Wan is whispering endearments to Leia and shakes her head.
“You are spoiling her,” Padme sighs, her eyes sparkling with love for this tough woman battered by destiny and by heartbreak. “She’ll never end up a proper and well-behaved Jedi at this rate, Obi-Wan.”
“Good,” the Jedi replied, turning to smile at the young girl in her arms. “You’re going to be just like your mother when you grow up, aren’t you, my little princess?”
Leia nodded, leaning into Obi-Wan. “Ah huh. Just like Obi-Mum, too! I’ll be a Jedi Princess!”
Padme laughs as she pats her lover’s shoulder. “You walked right into that one.
She takes her shawl from Luke and steps around the offended Jedi and their daughter. “Come along, Luke. Obi-Mum and Leia have some negotiating to do.”
“You are spoiled rotten!” Obi-Wan huffs, her eyes bright with love as she carries Leia out of the ship. “Where did I go wrong?”
Obi-Wan’s melodramatic moaning is quickly drown out by the laughter of her family and for a time, she forgets that the Shadow is still chasing them.
It is late the second night of their stay and Luke is having a nightmare.
“Mumma! Obi-Mum! Luke hurts! Luke hurts!” Leia’s shouts pierce the light sleep the two women do not get enough of.
Obi-Wan is on her feet, lightsaber in hand and running to the room where the twins sleep together, Padme on her heels just as quickly. When it’s clear that “Luke hurts!” is figurative and not some kind of attack, Luke is quickly bundled into the arms of his mothers, Leia clinging to him tightly.
“What’s wrong with him?” Padme asks, frantic and terrified for her son.
Obi-Wan closes her eyes, stretches out with the Force and finds Luke, frightened and too far away from himself to find his way back. She can hear Leia crying for her brother but even worse she can hear the darkness calling to him.
Son of Skywalker. Son of the Force. Come to me, little one I will take you home.
Obi-Wan is fire and rage, a tidal wave of white hot fury and maternal fear for the young boy as she wraps herself, her very essence around the delicate, flickering spirit of Luke.
You will not touch him, you monster! Obi-Wan snarls as she gathers up her son and flees from the darkness, from the hissing, writhing maw of hatred and agony. Leia is there too, somehow, reaching for her brother and then the two are one and the darkness is gone, driven away by a light so blinding it could only come from the Skywalker line.
Padme waits, agonized and afraid as her beloved family sits silent and unnaturally still, Obi-Wan’s brow furrowed, Leia’s cheeks flushed with tears and Luke’s pale and cold. She wants to shout, to scream at Obi-Wan to tell her what’s happening, to tell her who’s hurting their son but she knows that would only distract her beloved when she needs her concentration most. It is painfully familiar to the former senator who spent her nights during the Clone Wars waiting to see if her beloveds would return to her, praying for their safety.
It is all she can do now and the futility of loving such powerful Force sensitives when blind to it herself is almost enough to drive her mad with grief.
If only she could use the Force, she would be able to help Obi-Wan, to save Luke.
If she could use the Force, she could have been a Jedi.
If she had been a Jedi, maybe none of this would have ever happened and the galaxy would be at peace instead of torn apart by fear and greed.
Padme hugs her family close and prays.
Please let Luke be alright. Please bring them all back to me.
“M-mumma?” Luke yawns, coming out of his nightmare, confused and upset. “Mumma, there’s a monster.”
Leia comes to at that moment, shaking off whatever trance she slipped into. “Luke? Luke!”
Padme holds her children close and waits for Obi-Wan to come back to them and she does, a terrifying heartbeat longer than she usually does and her blue eyes are grey and distant. She looks up and meets Padme’s eyes and shakes her head.
It wasn’t Vader. He hasn’t found the children yet.
Padme exhales and promises Luke that everything is fine, that he’s not in trouble for having a terrifying nightmare and that she loves him.
“You’re safe with us, my little star,” Padme whispers, kissing his forehead and hugging him tight. “We’re all together and safe. Aren’t we?”
Leia clings tightly to her twin brother and carefully Obi-Wan and Padme carry the twins to their bed. The little family huddles together against the shadows and the darkness that are far closer than they have ever been.
Padme and Obi-Wan do not sleep that night but Luke and Leia do and that is all that matters.
The part comes in the next day and Obi-Wan leaves to go purchase it and bring it back to the ship. Padme stays behind, prepping for take off, the Jedi’s anxiety and Luke’s nightmare convincing her that her lover’s fears are valid.
Something is coming for them. Something dangerous.
“Mumma?” Leia walks up into the cockpit of the ship, her brown eyes round and worried. “Mumma? Can Luke and I wait for Obi-Mum?”
Padme frowns at her daughter. She wants to say yes, to protect her from the fear and tension that has infected her and Obi-Wan both. Leia would not understand why she and Luke could not sit on the end of the loading ramp and wait for their other mother. She is too young for Padme to explain that there is a bounty on both Obi-Wan’s head and her own.
She does not realize that the father in the stories Padme tells her is the same Shadow that chases them across the galaxy.
The Dragon in the fairy tale Obi-Wan tells the children to explain away their past.
Once upon a time, your mother was a Queen. She was loved by two cavaliers, your father and myself. But a dark sorcerer turned your father into a dragon and that is why he is not with us.
The children sometimes ask if it’s possible for their father to return to them, for Obi-Wan to use her “magic” to turn him back into a human. Padme never has the heart to listen to the answer to that question.
“Mumma?” Leia repeats and shakes Padme from her thoughts. “Can we go? Please?”
Padme decides that she would like to wait for Obi-Wan as well, the sooner they are reunited, the sooner they can all leave this planet. She gathers up her scarf and her blaster and takes Leia’s hand.
Luke is already sitting in the doorway, staring out at the spaceport, his blue eyes far away.
“Luke? Let’s go wait for Obi-Wan, okay?” Padme says, holding her hand out to him. “We’ll wait at the entrance, so we don’t miss her.”
Luke nods, standing up and clinging tightly to Padme’s hand, as if he’s afraid she would let go. “Okay, Mumma.”
Leia peers around Padme’s legs before the three of them leave the ship and walk towards the large gate that serves as the entrance to the city that they’ve landed in.
The port is busy with sentients of all races mingling about. There are a few official-looking humans hear and there but nothing jumps out as Padme as dangerous. Luke and Leia comment on a Wookie and then a purple Twi’lek. After that they are enthralled by an overweight Pantoran gentleman and his family.
Padme holds her children tight and makes it to the arch that divides the port from the market and the rest of the small city. Leia demands to be held up so that she can look for Obi-Wan in the crowd. Luke is content to cling to Padme’s leg, not letting go even when she offers him her hand.
“Mumma…” Luke says, his voice almost lost in the low roar of the crowd. “Mumma, I love you.”
Padme frowns and looks down at Luke. “Luke? Is something wrong?”
Luke looks up at her, his blue eyes full of tears. “I love you, Mumma. I love Leia, too.”
Padme looks at her son, at the absolute heartbreak and sadness on his face. She looks at Leia, who looks just as confused, an angry scowl puckering on her face.
Padme is not Force sensitive but she knows something is Wrong.
And it is taking Obi-Wan far too long to get back to them.
Luke’s sniffles are growing worse, his little shoulders shaking with effort as he tries to control himself, to be a good Jedi like his Obi-Mum. To not give into fear or anger.
Padme kneels down by Luke, setting Leia on the ground next to him as she looks at them both. “Luke, you know I don’t have magic like Obi-Mum. I need you to tell me what’s wrong. What are you feeling?”
Leia leans into Luke and puts her head on his shoulder. She closes her eyes for a moment and then lets out a gasp. “Mumma! He’s…”
But it is too late.
The Dragon has come for them.
Freedom is just a few steps away when the stormtroopers surround her, their white armor horribly familiar and chillingly blank. She has no way of knowing if the men under those helmets are brothers of her former men or if Palpatine’s Empire is putting ordinary recruits into the army. They don’t wear colors on their armor anymore and for all she knows, she’s staring down the barrel of Cody’s gun.
She doesn’t really care.
A crowd grows, curious to see why the stormtroopers are there, to see what criminal the Empire has tracked down to their corner of the galaxy. Maybe she’s a Separatist or a sympathizer. Maybe she’s a notorious thief or something like that.
Maybe, a few dare to whisper. She’s a Jedi.
Obi-Wan takes a breath and stands up, only to see Padme and their children watching, horrified. Blind panic almost overtakes her and Obi-Wan was to take a moment to breathe and find her center, to reach out for the Force and desperately pray that there is a way out of this, that it’s all just a misunderstanding.
“Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're under arrest!” The squad leader announces, stepping forward. “Put your hands up and come peacefully.”
Obi-Wan looks up at Padme and their eyes meet.
Run! Fight them! We can get away! Please! Padme’s eyes beg her.
Obi-Wan shakes her head minutely. No. This is where it ends. Go. Run.
Obi-Wan takes a breath and turns around to face the squad leader. “I don't suppose it's too much to ask you to let me go?”
The crowd presses in closer against the small circle of storm troopers. Jedi were rare creatures before but after the purges they are as rare as an honest Hutt. Let alone one whose name was once as familiar as the Emperor’s is now.
“Kenobi? Wasn't there a general with that name?”
“Hey! Wasn’t that the name of a famous Jedi?”
“Is she the Kenobi who was on the holos all the time?”
Obi-Wan looks at the squadron leader and then glances at the crowd. She doesn’t want to do this here. She doesn’t want to be another dead face in a holo report. Not here. Not now.
And most definitely not in front of Padme, Luke and Leia.
And she still believes that somehow, some way, when her end comes, Anakin will be there.
The crowd presses closer and Obi-Wan wonders if she can use that to her advantage, if she could use the Force to turn the crowd against the Imperials.
That idea dies in her chest when a tall, dark masked figure steps out from behind the stormtroopers, his very presence pushing the crowd back, making some of them cower in terror.
The Sith are predators and Darth Vader is their apex, the apotheosis of their might and power.
The Dragon has come for Obi-Wan.
“When my men told me they found you on this miserable planet, I did not believe them,” Vader speaks, his voice modulated through a mask. “I did not think you would be that stupid but here you are.”
Obi-Wan raises her chin. “Yes. Here I am, Darth. One more Jedi traitor for you to cut down.”
“Is that what you think will happen to you?” The Dragon asks, standing still like a shadow cast from a building, sucking in all the surrounding heat and light. “Do you think I would be foolish enough to give you a glorious martyrdom? To strike you down unarmed in the middle of the street like a common criminal? Is that what you think of me now, Obi-Wan?”
Frowning, Obi-Wan realizes that Vader isn't going to play along, that he wants to drag her back to Coruscant and a show trial for his master. They will drag her and the Jedi through the mud, one final glorious reminder that the Sith have defeated her and her kind completely.
Obi-Wan looks away, frowning for a moment. She needs to distract Vader, to keep his attention focused on her and her alone. As long as she does that, Padme and the children have a chance to get away, to flee from the Empire. In theory their ship could survive one last hyperspace jump to a close by system, perhaps Alderaan or Corellia.
She prays that Padme is already trying to pull the children back to the ship, that they won’t see the Empire carry away their mother in chains.
Obi-Wan never told the children the end of the story, about the Dragon chasing after the Queen and her Cavalier, about whether or not their father could come back from the spell the Sith Sorcerer placed on him.
She never told them because she doesn’t know the answer and she doesn’t intend to find out.
Obi-Wan intends to die today, to arouse Vader’s fury and rage so much that he does not stop to notice the persistent glow of light radiating out Luke and Leia.
Goodbye, my loves.
The silence has gone on for too long and someone in the crowd lets out a shout. “Jedi scum!”
“Yeah! Kriffing traitors!”
“Where’s your ‘Force’ now, Jedi bitch?”
Obi-Wan glances at the crowd and then turns her attention back to Vader, who lifts his chin and stares down at her from behind his mask. “This is the rabble you would stand your ground for and protect? These worthless cowards? They want to watch you die.”
“Is that supposed to scare me?” Obi-Wan retorts, taking out the hilt of her blade and sending the crowd scurrying backwards, no doubt pushing Padme and the Twins further back into the space port.
Vader looks at her and she can feel his mind racing in the faintest edges of the dark halo that is his Force presence, a black umbra shot through with golden lightning. He is trying to out think her, to out maneuver the Negotiator, to out think his mentor.
The Dragon doesn't understand that the Cavalier has come to die.
There is no thinking involved in this.
Obi-Wan charges, her blade hissing to life just before it lands against his and Vader grunts, surprised. There are screams in the crowd as some start running, fleeing the sight of bared lightsabers. Some stay cheering on Vader and others watch in silent testimony, witnessing the death of another failed servant of the former Republic.
Padme grabs Luke and Leia and tries to run with the crowd, to find their way back to the ship and to flee. She holds a hope in her heart that somehow, some way, Obi-Wan will find a way out of this, that she’ll break free and rejoin them on Alderaan. That was what they agreed to before, long ago. If they were ever separated, they would make their way as fast as possible to the safe haven of Bail Organa’s home planet.
Yes. She tells herself as she tries to soothe Leia, who’s crying and Luke who’s struggling to run back to Obi-Wan. Luke always connected more strongly to Obi-Wan than he did to Padme. She had always assumed it was the Force and had Anakin been a part of their lives that connection would have naturally shifted to his father.
“No! Obi-Mum! Obi-MUM!” Luke yanks on Padme’s hand, desperately trying to stop her and Leia from abandoning Obi-Wan. “Mumma, No! Have to stay! No!”
Padme loses her patience and bends down to pick up Luke. “We have to go. Obi-Wan told us to leave.”
They race along with the crowd, Luke pounding at Padme's shoulders and back, kicking and screaming as the people around them shout in terror at the sudden appearance of more and more storm troopers who try to funnel them into bottleneck. Padme darts down a side alley that lets her and the children slip to a quiet dark corner unnoticed. Leia is quietly sobbing and Padme holds her close, begging her to be quiet, still and small like Obi-Wan taught them.
“Luke I need you to help your sister,” Padme says, wiping at Leia’s tears with her scarf. “Luke? Now is not the time to… Luke?”
Leia lets out a wail. “He went to Obi-Mum! To save her and fight the dragon!”
Padme picks up Leia and chases after him.
Obi-Wan does not notice when Luke makes it back to where she is fighting the Dragon, where she and Vader clash swords. She is barely paying attention to anything that is not Vader or his blade.
They spin around blades meeting and hissing before they part. Vader presses forward using his superior height and strength to his advantage. Obi-Wan parries his blows but each one feels like it rattles her bones more and more. They know each other too well, trained together far too long to let the fight end.
Obi-Wan knows she has weaknesses he is not exploiting.
She knows she is not taking advantage of Vader’s either.
The fight goes on and on, a nonverbal argument they refuse to stop. Vader demands an answer to his questions, attacking and aggressive. He will beat it out of her if he must.
Why did you abandon me? Why did you run? Didn’t you love me?
Obi-Wan is always evading, blocking and deflecting. She won't give him the answer he wants, the answer she's scared of letting slip past her lips.
You changed. You destroyed our world. Why wasn’t our love enough for you?
They are perfectly matched.
Two halves of one warrior.
They loved each other once.
But that was a long time ago, Obi-Wan tells herself as she drags the fight on, not going for the kill when she could, trying to give Padme time to get away. To give her family time to flee to the safety of Alderaan. If Vader is down on the planet then he cannot be in his Star Destroyer overhead, issuing a blockade.
“Why are you hesitating?” Vader asks, his voice surprisingly soft through the vocoder. “You could have struck me down three times by my count. This is unlike you, Obi-Wan.”
“I could say the same for you,” Obi-Wan grunts at a particularly strong attack. She feels something pull and a sharp pain lances through her, only to be shoved into the depths with the rest of her fears and doubts. “I thought I taught you not to play with your food, Darth. ”
“Does my title bother you that much, Master?” Vader asks, pressing his advantage now, trying to overwhelm Obi-Wan’s defenses, trying to disarm her. “ Do you not like it when we are equals, my old Master?”
Vader is trying to trap her like a wild creature to be taken back to civilization for the slaughter.
Obi-Wan is almost willing to let him, to bring an end to the farce of their duel, of the long series of disappointments and failures that have made up her life.
After another exchange, Vader paces back and forth, his gaze locked on hers and Obi-Wan can almost hear him thinking, can almost feel the emotions pounding in his chest in her own. She never severed their bond, only dampened it and kept it frozen under as much ice as she could conjure up.
And not even twenty minutes in Vader’s presence has thawed that to almost shattering.
Vader comes to a stop, a decision made. He changes his stance and takes a new form, aggressive, powerful, a Sith form.
The Dragon moves in for the kill and the Cavalier raises her blade to salute him.
Let’s end this. Obi-Wan thinks, her heart slowly burning up in her chest. At least you will be by my side and our children will be safe.
Obi-Wan waits for Vader to charge, thinking that this will be the end, the last thing she will see.
Until she notices scuffling at the edge of the circle, and a small boy with messy blonde hair and eyes as blue as the skies of Tatooine sobbing, trying to break past startled on-lookers and storm troopers.
Time slows for Obi-Wan.
A woman in the audience sees the tragedy before anyone else and screams, hoarse shouts of someone else quickly following.
The storm troopers point their blasters at the child streaking towards their leader.
Luke cries for his other mother, desperate to protect her from the Dragon. “NO! OBI-MUM!”
Vader has taken three steps and is bringing his blade in a downward arc that will destroy Obi-Wan’s world.
She’s not fast enough.
Not to save them both.
But Obi-Wan’s life has only ever been a thing to give away, to devote to her Order and then to her family.
And she makes a choice.
Whirling around between Luke and Vader, Obi-Wan wraps her arms around her son and covers him with her body, shielding him from incoming blaster fire and his own father’s assault.
It took less than one heartbeat.
A life for a life.
An exchange Obi-Wan has always been willing to make for Anakin and now his son.
I love you, Luke. I’m so sorry you have to see this.
And then everything starts moving again.
Luke is crying and the crowd is screaming in horror. The growl and heat of a lightsaber slice through Obi-Wan’s world with white-hot agony. The high pitched whine of blaster fire provides a discordant harmony to the low rumble of ships taking off.
“Obi-Mum!” Luke sobs, pressing his hot face into Obi-Wan’s shoulder. “Obi-Mum! Wake up! Please, Mum! Obi-Mum!”
And then there is darkness, cool and muffling as the blaster fire stops and someone bellows to “Stand down or I will kill every last one of you!”
Obi-Wan inhales sharply and realizes that she is alive.
The Dragon did not kill her.
Luke is alive.
They are alive. Vader spared them both.
How? How is that possible?
Obi-Wan’s back aches but the injury there is not mortal, perhaps not even serious. Luke clings to his mother, terrified of the dark shadow standing over them, ordering his troopers to disperse the crowd. The Dragon snarls above them that if they fail at this task, he will personally see to their punishment detail.
“Mum?” Luke whimpers against Obi-Wan’s neck. “Please wake up. I’m scared.”
Obi-Wan opens her eyes and takes a stinging breath. “I’m right here, Luke. I won’t let him hurt you.”
“But the Dragon…” Luke whispers, gazing up at the back of the black figure standing between them and a squadron of storm troopers who wanted to kill them not even two minutes ago.
She swallows harshly. “I know. But we have to be brave, don’t we? Like the Cavalier, remember? We… ah… we must be brave now, Luke.”
Vader turns around once the road is mostly deserted, save a few storm troopers protecting their leader from afar. He gazes down at them from behind the shiny beetle-black mask, his fists on his hip.
“Is this your son?” Vader asks, his voice carefully neutral. As careful as he can manage.
Obi-Wan nods, exhausted, agony making a hash of her self-control. “Yes. His name is Luke.”
Vader is silent.
It makes Luke uncomfortable and he looks away from the onyx Dragon with his frightening visage and robotic voice.
“Who is the father?” Vader asks and for once, no emotions slip past his shields. Obi-Wan is flying blind in a storm, with only her own weak heart to guide her. She should not tell him, should keep Luke’s heritage a secret in the hopes Vader might let him go. In her pain-addled fantasy, Padme snatches Luke up in the dust of the departing Imperials and they flee to safety.
But that is a one-in-a-billion chance.
Not even Skywalkers are that lucky.
“Who do you think?” Obi-Wan retorts, playing for time, trying to inflict her own wound as her strength wanes and the edges of her world turn grey and then black.
And the ice over their bond shatters as shock, fury and horror fills Obi-Wan’s mind, as thoughts pour in, as familiar as the night sky over Coruscant.
Is he mine? Obi-Wan, is he mine? Is that my son? He’s Padme’s child, isn’t he? He’s our son, isn’t he?? Tell me, Obi-Wan! Is Luke our child??
Obi-Wan bows her head and nods, hugging Luke close. “Yes. He is.”
And then the darkness overwhelms her and it is only Vader kneeling in front of her and Luke that keeps her from collapsing in the dirt.
He catches her gently, carefully, shifting her around in his arms to cradle her against one shoulder as Luke clings to her, sniffling and glaring up at him with red, angry eyes, full of tears.
“Stay away from Obi-Mum!” The little boy shouts, a little fist raised to ward off the man in front of him. “You’re a bad Dragon! You hurt my mum!”
“Dragon?” He murmurs and sees Luke, his son, Sweet Force, wince at the harsh sound of his voice through the mask. He must look terrifying, like a nightmare.
This is not how it was supposed to go. Luke shouldn’t have seen any of this. Not his mask, not their duel, and not him striking Obi-Wan with his saber.
“I’m not a Dragon,” he says, bowing his head and flicking back the clasps that hold his helmet in place. “I don’t know what your mother told you, but I’m not a dragon.”
This would be easier with two hands but he has the Force and with its help, the mask and the neck piece are removed, floating down to the ground behind him. His hair is sweaty, plastered to his face and he takes a moment to shake it out, to feel the cool, dry air on his skin before he glances down at his son.
Luke looks up at the man who was the Dragon, who smiles back at him with his own face, eyes yellow where Luke’s are blue. There is a thin scar running on the edge of his right eye and his hair is darker and wavy but other than those frightening eyes, there is nothing about this man that says “dragon”.
“Who are you?” Luke asks, trying to huddle closer to his mother’s unconscious form. He’s confused and scared and he needs Obi-Mum to wake up and explain things so the world makes sense again. He needs Mumma to hug him and rock him and tell him everything will be all right. He needs Leia’s confidence and her protective fury. Luke needs his family.
“I am your father, Luke,” the man says, his voice soft, almost shy. “I’m Anakin Skywalker and I’m going to take you both back home, where you belong.”