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Prepare Yourself New Love to Entertain

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Padme and Anakin meet on the first night of term, when he’s sorted into Slytherin and she into Ravenclaw; they first meet Obi-Wan on the following morning when, confident and calm, the school’s recently-graduated, new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor puts them through their first paces with a simple disarming charm. With his heart still in his throat and still nervously embarrassed of his patched robes, Anakin finds it a great relief that the young teacher, with messy hair and the beginnings of a beard which helps (barely) in making him look less like the teenager he so recently was, has such a gift for putting them all at ease, and a certainty of strength in the way he corrects their stammering pronunciation, their weak and shaky grips on their wands.

“He’s a Hufflepuff, I can tell,” Padme says confidently at lunch, while she pores over her already much-loved books. “He’s so nice.”

“What can you tell about me from my being in Slytherin?” Anakin asks, shyly, and her small grin turns conspiratorial.

“Oh, don’t worry, Ani,” she giggles. “I’m sure you’re not like them.”

Her name appears on Anakin’s palm when he is thirteen. Panicked, he tries to scrub off the meandering, beautiful pen-strokes of silver, but is, of course, completely unsuccessful; when he sneaks back into Professor Kenobi’s office after class and, blushing, shows it to him, Kenobi’s only answer is to hum gently, and carefully inspect Anakin’s hand.

“You’re quite young for it,” he says eventually, kindly. “But that doesn’t mean it’s not real, Anakin. Do you know if she – ?”

“No,” Anakin mumbles, miserably. “I don’t think so, anyway. I’ve never seen it.”

“Ah. Then you know you’ll have to wait – well, I should hope you’d wait anyway, young man,” Kenobi continues, raising an eyebrow. “Do you understand me?”

“Yes, sir.” Anakin gulps. “Gloves?”

“I’d say so. And quickly, too.”

Anakin is seventeen and powerful with it, one of the most prolific Chasers his house has ever had and Obi-Wan’s star pupil, favored by his laughter and tutoring and stern encouragement, when Padme finds him in the Great Hall, one of her fists clenched and her eyes wide. She’s supposed to be running a meeting of the Student Council (which she started, of course, in their fourth year), so he knows it’s serious, tries to grab gently at her wrist.

“What’s wrong?”

She says nothing – simply opens her bloodless fingers, shows him his own name scrawled luminescently across her palm, and, with tears in her eyes, gives him a blinding smile.

They are married at eighteen. The war breaks out on their wedding day.

With Hogwarts shut, the Ministry of Magic is flooded with young students eager to make their mark, being turned away in terror if they are underage; but, luckily for them, Padme and Anakin get the office they want in the Auror division, and when, on their second day, there is a quiet rap at their door and Obi-Wan is standing there with a carton of books, his beloved and well-used quills already in their inkwell, they find space for him at their huddle of desks in a hurry. He’s grown tired, Anakin thinks, as the years have passed, but never anything less than his usual steady self; he looks his age, now, dignified and commanding, and they take to his lead like ducks to water.

It takes two years in that room – two years of group missions, of each of them saving each other’s lives from indiscriminate Death Eaters again and over again, of tramping through ruins and bodies in the middle of dark nights, of breathless duels and encounters with fabulous beasts and dangers barely understood, until it happens. When it does, Anakin is hardly even surprised, and neither is Padme – they simply sit there together in their bed, quietly, first thing in the morning, holding each other’s hands, tracing new letters as they shimmer, uncertainly, in and out of existence.

“Should we tell him?” Padme whispers.

“I don’t know what we would say. I’ve never seen him bear any name.”

“He told me he had one, once,” Padme says, shaking her head. At Anakin’s surprised look, she only shrugs, helplessly. “He said he died.”

Anakin looks at Obi-Wan so closely over the next week that he can’t help but be noticed. There have been stranger things, he knows, after all – they’ve all grown up on tales of new names added and others disappearing, of some who bear their lover’s name even after they are widowed, of those who met their intended and ran away, weeping, crushed by the wrongness of fate.

There have been stranger things, all in all (though Anakin had always thought they were urban legends – he has never been so wrong) than the idea that Obi-Wan might have a Concealment Charm on his person, hiding away such an essential part of himself like he hides away, as best as he can, the fear he feels for them every time they are out in the field, the protective terror that manifests itself in fierce embraces when he knows they’re safe and his silent presence outside their front door at night, like some angelic sentinel.

And so they go to him, and they show him his name on their hands, and he just stands there and stares.

“No,” he says, bluntly, just as Anakin is about to speak. “No, I will not – damn it, I will not inflict yet another grief upon you both.”

His expression is heartbreaking, keeping what looks like years of yearning repressed. “You’re both so young,” he sighs.

“Show me,” Padme demands, and, reluctantly, Obi-Wan’s hand opens into hers, and the layers of the enchantment peel back – there are scars of an older soul there, deep under the skin, blurred and indistinct, but the names of Amidala and Skywalker are as clear as day.

“Oh, Obi-Wan,” Padme breathes. “How long?”

“A year.”

“Fuck that,” Anakin says, and only shakes his head in the face of Padme’s stern glare. He takes Obi-Wan’s other hand in his; traces the lines of veins and knuckles with the tip of one of his fingers, presses the gentlest kiss he can muster to his thumb and listens, somehow enraptured, to Obi-Wan’s sudden intake of breath.

“Home,” Padme says hoarsely, and Apparates all three of them to their bedroom.

He would have done this anyway, Anakin thinks, later, when Obi-Wan’s head is pillowed on Padme’s breast and she is murmuring soothing words to him while Anakin kisses his way down a straining abdomen, curling into the sensation of trembling fingers in his hair. Padme’s chin fits perfectly into the hollow of Obi-Wan’s palm, and no soulmark would ever have changed that, made it more or less true. Obi-Wan’s nails scrape into the exact right spots in Anakin’s scalp when Anakin takes him into his mouth, and no flashes of fickle skin could make any of this less or more right.

Obi-Wan has always had talented hands, ones which can correct, teach, admonish, praise, and punish. To put them to work at love, if it is the work of fate, might – Anakin thinks, when he and Padme get their sweet, tortuous, eternal reciprocation – be its greatest achievement.

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