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here are eternal dreams, woods without pathways

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The sudden crack of the barrack's door slamming against the wall had Rex instinctively reaching for his sword, but seeing his brother standing in the doorway had him relaxing for a moment. That is until the way those brown eyes narrowed had Rex biting back a smirk. "Lose something?"

Cody glared at him with an aggravated furrow of his brows and out of the corner of his eye, Rex saw several of their cousins duck their heads in kneejerk reactions. Cody on a warpath, literally and figuratively, was never a fun time. "Have you seen her?"

"Seen who?" Their da always did say Rex never did learn when not to poke a sleeping dragon. Or, Rex amended as Cody glared even harder, gloved fingers tapping out an absentminded, irritated rhythm on the sword at his side, an already peeved dragon that had its treasure stolen.

Being the kind-hearted family man that he was, Rex carefully did not direct Cody's attention to the way Waxer was laughing silently into a mug of ale. Boil less-than-discretely smacked his husband's arm and Rex counted three different money pouches exchanging hands. Impertinent bastards, he thought with a silent laugh.

"If she's gone, where do you think her brother is?" Cody said simply, brows raised expectantly. "Because where one is, the other follows."

Rex bit back a groan, already clambering to his feet as he looked mournfully at his half-eaten evening meal. "Ah shit."

He'd deny the fond grin tugging at the corner of his lips until the day he died.

---

Obi-Wan smiled gently at Anakin, swinging her feet idly from her perch on the oak branch as she soaked up the warmth of the setting sun. Her brother tossed an apple from hand to hand, smirking impishly up at her from the ground.

"Cody's gonna be pissed." Anakin took a bite of the fruit, teeth clacking sharply in emphasis that had always made her cringe.

Obi-Wan shook her head, smiling ruefully. "Only that we didn't take him with us. Master Windu on the other hand-" and she couldn't help the laugh at Anakin's sour countenance, so she finished gently, "It's not every day that one's brother is engaged to be married, they cannot blame us for celebrating."

"Some celebration," Anakin grumbled unconvincingly, eyeing the shaded glade that had been their refuge since they were children. Of course, he'd have to lose the smile for Obi-Wan to actually believe him, so she merely tossed an acorn at his head.

"Only the very best for my brother," affecting an imperious tone that was more appropriate for court than the forest outside the castle.

Anakin bounced on his feet, the nineteen-year-old dropping the grimace to shoot her a blinding grin. "I'm getting married, Obi-Wan!"

"My condolences to Padmé," Obi-Wan said dryly, avoiding the apple core with a startled laugh and duck of her head. Her brother continued to beam at her for a moment before bounding up the tree trunk to join her. Anakin wrapped around her like an unfortunate growth, resting his chin on her head like the obnoxious bigger little brother he was.

Obi-Wan relaxed into his hold, looking out over the verdant forest that hid them from view. She stayed silent, enjoying the comfort of his hug as soon he would be far beyond her reach. The embrace he provided is a familiar warmth, though the first time she had been the one to offer the comfort, a terrified nine year old sweeping the six year old boy into her arms to hide him from the slave traders.

Obi-Wan remembered clearly the look on her father's face when he found them, the green of his lightsaber shining off the manacles binding her form. She remembered the tears dripping down his cheeks as he took in the sight of her wounds, the sobs he tried to stifle as his men rounded up her captors. He had enfolded them gently into his arms, hiding them away in his cape to protect them from prying eyes.

Out of so much pain and suffering, her father had opened his heart once more to another lonely orphan and she had gained a younger brother who she loved dearly.

Anakin let out a deep sigh, breath rustling her bangs and Obi-Wan turned to him with an unspoken question. He buried his face in her copper hair, arms tightening their hold around her slim form. "...Once the wedding takes place I'll be leaving with Padmé for the Kingdom of Naboo."

"That is what happens when one gets married," she murmured dryly, flinching away from fingers pinching her side.

"Dad is..." Anakin stumbled over his words, grief hanging heavy between them. "Our dad is dead, Xanatos and Feemor are gone, and when I leave, you'll be alone." He whispered and Obi-Wan turned to take him in her arms. It had become more and more awkward as the years passed, his towering form not exactly conducive to cuddles, but she never let that stop her.

"I won't be alone, I have Mace and Yoda-" she corrected softly, steadfastly ignoring the way Anakin's lip curled in distaste at the mention of the Masters. "- and Quinlan and Cody. I have the Jedi and the Council. I will be far from alone."

Obi-Wan leant in and rested her forehead against Anakin's own, lacing their fingers together in support. She dropped her voice to a mischievous whisper, "I'll even have Grandfather Yan, though I'm sure he'll take great glee in telling me all the things I am doing wrong."

Her hope to break the mood backfired quite spectacularly, she mused quietly to herself as Anakin snarled and the grip he had on her hand turned punishing. "You can't trust him, he'll hurt you!"

"Do you remember," Obi-Wan started calmly, tugging him close once more, ignoring the pain flaring from his grasp. "How many people told me I couldn't trust you, that you'd hurt me?"

She refused to let him jerk away, pouring every ounce of care and pride and love she held for him into their bond. He'd come so far and she would not let him retreat back into misery and ignore the words that needed to be heard. "You are my brother, Anakin, I love you, just as I love Grandfather Yan. We've all made mistakes, but I have faith in you, just as I have faith in him. I have faith in the Light we serve as Knights and faith in the Force that guides us."

Anakin's face crumbled, tears pooling at the corners of his eyes and she cupped his cheeks in her palms. "Do you remember what our father said when we were growing up?"

"We are one with the Force, and the Force is with us," he grumbled with a sigh and Obi-Wan couldn't bite back her grin. Meditation and philosophy had been the least favorite of his lessons growing up, to the point their father would chase him from one end of their home to the other to try and get him to sit still long enough to learn.

"No matter where we go, where our paths take us in life, the Force is with us. And we are one with the Force. So even if I die tomorrow, I will be with you, because the Force is with you." She hugged him closer, two incomplete halves being made whole. "Look for me in the Force and you will always find me there."

Anakin shuddered before sighing deeply, body relaxing against her. Obi-Wan relished the peaceful silence, so of course Anakin had to break it. "If Dooku betrays you again, I'll kill him."

Obi-Wan groaned silently, wishing she could let loose the several choice words she had for Anakin's bullheaded stubbornness. "He won't, just as you won't. Grief can turn even the kindest soul bitter."

"You didn't," Anakin whispered, and Obi-Wan felt her throat tighten at the obvious regard that she did not deserve. "You were there, you were the only one there, you were forced to deal with it on your own and yet out of all of us, you were the only one who didn't turn to Darkness."

"I was angry though," this time it was Obi-Wan that tried to pull away, to distance herself from the conversation that should have rightfully taken place years ago. Anakin once more wrapped long arms around her, and she pushed down her need to hide, to run from her emotions. "I fought with a wrath I never knew I could possess, and I killed Maul not out of justice, but vengeance. I was a disgrace to father and the Jedi."

"No, no, I know what it is to kill in a rage, and you didn't." Anakin's oh-so-blue eyes seared into her with a conviction that shook her to the core. "You might have been angry, but the Darkness never touched you. You are so kind to everyone, Obi-Wan, so please be kinder to yourself."

Obi-Wan scrubbed her eyes, fighting back tears as she chuckled wetly, "We are blessed that Naboo and Ahch-To are so close, otherwise I fear Mace will have my head if I keep running off to visit."

"I'd be more afraid of your captain," Anakin said with a grin, settling more comfortably against her as the pall that had overcome them lifted. The dying light of the setting sun set his golden hair aglow in a halo, and Obi-Wan would be forever grateful to the Force that her family had survived Qui-Gon's death and come out stronger for it.

"Cody is a good man-"

"A very good man," Anakin cut in with a ridiculous wiggle to his eyebrows that had Obi-Wan thumping him on his leg for his sheer impudence. "Speaking of, I expected him to be here sooner."

"Considering most of our time has been in the War Room and the Temple, he probably checked there first." But it was strange, as he was her silent shadow more often than not, especially given the number of assassination attempts there had been over the last few years. Closing her eyes, she reached out with the Force, the magic eagerly answering her call. Expanding her senses briefly, she sought out the presence she knew better than her own most days.

Obi-Wan didn't the fight rush of warmth that seared through her when she felt him, and Rex too, at the edges of the glade and out of her and Anakin's immediate line of sight; obviously keeping guard while still allowing the siblings some small measure of privacy. He, like all his family, was Force-Blessed, and while not powerful enough to be trained by the Temple, the two of them had forged a bond during the war that they had refused to sever. It was far too useful, though she'd keep it even if only so they could have a distraction during tedious court sessions.

That time already? Obi-Wan whispered to him, hiding a grin against Anakin's shoulder at her captain's fond exasperation. She could tell Anakin was reaching out to Rex in the same manner, but whatever they were conversing about had Anakin snickering loudly as he planted a wet kiss against her cheek, much to Obi-Wan's disgust.

You have about an hour or so, but please, a forewarning next time would be nice, Cody grumbled, and Obi-Wan sent a wordless burst of affection to her captain before withdrawing back into herself.

Obi-Wan looked over at Anakin and smiled, "See? I won't be alone."

He sighed heavily and pouted, "I know, I know. You can't blame me for worrying, though. Somedays I turn around expecting to see my trouser-clad, sword-swinging, knight apprentice Obi-Wan, not…."

"Not bejeweled and begowned O'ben, Queen of the Jedi." Obi-Wan finished for him, mouth tightening slightly but understanding far too well. She had been the third in line, far from the throne and grateful for it, and when the coronet had been placed upon her brow, it had felt little more than a noose. She can't help but reach out to the bonds she shares with Feemor and Xanatos, but they are as silent and cold as always.

She shakes off the melancholy, because they are supposed to be celebrating Anakin's future, "We could sneak into the Temple's orchard and make some fresh candied pears to send to Padmé."

Anakin, of course, looks absolutely delighted. "Master Windu will be so pissed!"

"Yes, because sending a present to your bride-to-be is contingent on how mad you make the masters, honestly, Anakin." Obi-Wan tsked, smoothing away any amusement she felt for a serene, dignified countenance that lasted only for a few seconds before she began to smirk. "Come on, it's been a while since Cody and Rex have been our lookouts, we need to keep them in practice."

Anakin's bright peel of laughter echoed through the forest and Obi-Wan basked in the feeling of Light and love. And for a moment, Obi-Wan liked to imagine she could hear their father's laughter echoing her brother's as the wind ruffled her hair.