Anakin was nine and his soulmate mark disappeared the day after Qui-Gon died. The day before, it had just read NO for hours on end, as if Anakin’s soulmate, out there somewhere in the universe, had also suffered a great tragedy.
Much to his relief, it came back about a week later, after the funeral and then the celebration on Naboo. He and Obi-Wan were in their cabin on the Jedi cruiser. Anakin glanced at his palm out of habit and then started when he saw something there again. Keep... a line read in an unsteady hand, the lines of the letters trailing off as it faded. Let...
“What is it, padawan?”
Anakin looked up at his new master. He clenched his fist shut. “Nothing,” he said instinctively.
“Anakin,” Obi-Wan said, a slight warning in his voice.
Anakin frowned. Reluctantly, he let his fingers peel up. “Do Jedi have soulmates?” he asked.
“Not usually,” Obi-Wan answered, “but they are rare in general. A few members of the Order are marked, but Jedi do not act upon such things. Soulmates are a tremendous attachment.”
“And attachments are bad?”
“Jedi do not have attachments,” Obi-Wan answered.
Anakin stared back down at his palm. For a long time, his soulmate was the only thing that was truly his. “I think she’s sad,” he murmured.
Obi-Wan frowned at Anakin, but rather then demand to see his hand he just curled Anakin’s fingers back on top of it. Anakin felt a sudden surge of gratitude at the non-intrusion. “Do you want to be a Jedi, Anakin?” he asked.
“More than anything,” Anakin answered.
Obi-Wan nodded. “Then a Jedi you will be.”
Anakin was 12 years old. It was summer on Coruscant, and he and Obi-Wan were sparring in one of the training rooms. It was hot, and they had taken off their shirts some time before.
“There will be times when you can’t overpower your opponent, Anakin,” Obi-Wan was lecturing. His master tilted his head in consideration, and then suddenly deactivated his lightsaber and rose from his fighting stance. “How about a break?”
Anakin broke out in a grin. “My four favorite words,” he declared, snapping his own lightsaber off and trotting off towards the edge of the room, where they had dropped off their cloaks and water bottles. Obi-Wan was watching him, seeming slightly pleased at his padawan’s eager water guzzling. Anakin pulled the water bottle from his lips and smiled back. “Don’t you want any, Master?”
“Not right now,” his master answered. He turned away and walked towards the windows instead.
Anakin put his water bottle down and followed. The windows in this training room looked out over the gardens, and the view was beautiful. His master seemed to think so too. He was stroking his beard and staring outside at the - Obi-Wan had something on his back.
Anakin jogged the last few steps to see it. It was square in the middle of his back, right between his shoulder blades. Anakin made out the words hope he’s proud of me before they faded away, almost instantly replaced with is he ok.
“Master!” Anakin yelled, shocked. Obi-Wan glanced over his shoulder, confused, before he realized what Anakin was looked at. “You! Have a soulmate mark!”
Obi-Wan twisted his neck around to look at his back. “Oh. Yes. I’d mostly forgotten about it, too be honest.”
Anakin spluttered, flabbergasted. “You forgot! How do you forget about your soulmate?!”
Obi-Wan shrugged. “Well, I can’t see it without a mirror, so I don’t interact with it much.”
Anakin tilted his head to read the script off his master’s back. “It says what an idiot,” he supplied sulkily. “Yours changes fast. Mine stays the same usually, for a long time.”
Obi-Wan turned around fully. “Enough of this, Anakin. Jedi cannot have attachments.”
Anakin frowned. “I don’t see what’s so wrong with being attached to your own skin, Master. It’s not like it’s going anywhere.” He glanced down at his right palm - as it had the last few days, all it read was I need to focus on technique.
“Your soulmate’s probably super exciting,” he speculated. “But mine’s really focused. I think she’s an artist, or something.”
Obi-Wan brushed by him, back to the middle of the training mat. Anakin read i wish he understood on his back before Obi-Wan turned around again and dropped into a fighting stance. “As I was saying, padawan. A skilled Jedi requires finesse.”
Anakin is fifteen and Obi-Wan is coming home today. He’d been away on an undercover mission for nearly a month, leaving Anakin back on the temple to take classes with the other mid-level padawans and answering to Master Tachi for morning meditation and evening saber training. It had been a long, boring month, and his quarters felt much colder without Obi-Wan in the bedroom next door.
Anakin, having finished his mechanics test early, was waiting for Obi-Wan on the platform. His transport should be arriving any minute now…
20 minutes later, Anakin was biting his nails out of boredom when his palm twinged. Annoyed, he looked at his soulmate mark. The older he got, the more active it seemed to get; he wasn’t sure if it wasn’t normal or not, since most people concurred that everyone’s soulmate mark was different. It’s not like he could ask Obi-Wan. His master did his best to pretend his own soulmate mark didn’t exist, and anyways, he’d been gone for the last month.
Instead of the there’s nothing better than a hot shower that had been written there on his palm this morning, there was What I wouldn’t give for a meal at Dex’s. Anakin’s eyes widened. Logically, in the galaxy, there was probably more than one meal-serving establishment in the galaxy named Dex’s. But what if his soulmate meant the same one he thought of? What if he could meet his soulmate there?
The noise of the transporter finally arriving drew Anakin out of his thoughts. He rushed forward to the ramp to watch the passengers disembark. There were a few other knights and a padawan or two, all having come from the main planetary landing port before hitching a ride to the temple, before Obi-Wan finally emerged. He was the picture of jet lag, bag was a little lumpy and his clothes rumpled, and Anakin’s heart lifted at the sight of him.
“Master!” he called, catching up with Obi-Wan as he left the ramp, falling into step with him to go back to the temple. Anakin tugged at Obi-Wan’s bag until he was allowed carry it, which his master acknowledged with a small grateful smile. “It’s so great to see you. The temple was the most boring place. It was almost standing still without you here.”
“It’s good to see you too, padawan,” Obi-Wan said, “although I must remind you that the overall status of the temple is not affected by one Jedi knight.”
Anakin sighed dramatically. “Couldn’t make it one minute without correcting me on something, huh.”
Obi-Wan chuckled. “My apologies. By all means, I’m glad you value my capabilities as a master.”
“Good,” Anakin said. “You’re a great master who just completed a huge difficult mission successfully. I think we should go out to dinner to celebrate, once you’ve had time to settle in and all. Maybe at Dex’s?”
Obi-Wan blinked in surprise. While Anakin never said no to leaving the temple, he usually dedicated a good deal of energy trying to avoid spending extra time with his master if he could avoid it. “Anakin,” he said, “That is a spectacular idea.”
Anakin beamed. He could almost feel his palm tingling from its grip on Obi-Wan’s bag.
He gave the bag back to Obi-Wan once they reached their quarters, and rushed off to his bedroom so he could study any new messages in peace. He’d been right, his soulmate’s thought had changed. It now read the best i could have asked for, and he could almost feel his soulmate’s happiness.
Unless that was just Obi-Wan. He reached out along the training bond, but Obi-Wan was only emitted a very Jedi-like sense of contentment, and satisfaction. He was something of a homebody; Anakin wasn’t surprised.
He was probably just projecting his own sense excitement. Even though it was unlikely, he could meet his soulmate. Tonight! Once he saw his soulmate, he’d know, Anakin was sure of it. If he was lucky, maybe it would even be Padme, the most beautiful woman in the world.
He and Obi-Wan went out to dinner. Obi-Wan seemed to enjoy himself, but Anakin didn’t see anyone soulmate-worthy. There was no earth-rattling connection; nothing really dramatic at all. Oh, well. It was a long shot anyways.
Anakin was 19 when he saw Padme again. She was everything he imagined and more: perfect, kind, smart, generally all around good. He traveled back with Naboo with her as her bodyguard and tried to get her to know everything about him, so she can know how much he tries to be good and how kind he is and how much he will love her.
He’s helping prepare dinner when she sees the black mark on his hand. “Ani, you’re making such mess,” she sighed, but teasingly. “What is that?”
He offers his palm out to her. It’s been displaying curious messages all week, that was unexpected and I wonder what’s here. His palm now reads be careful. “It’s my soulmate mark,” he said carefully, and his heart is racing and he can feel heat rising to his cheeks.
She delicately holds out her own hands. “May I see it?” she asks, and he nods, and she takes his hand in hers. The very air is charged as she strokes the curve of the words, and then she says “It’s beautiful.”
“Thank you,” Anakin answered.
“I wish I had one,” she said, wistfully.
It felt like the air surrounding them cracked; Anakin’s heart froze, skipped a beat, before forcefully starting up again in a callous rhythm. “You don’t have one?” he asked, forcing his voice to sound neutral. It shouldn’t be a surprise. Most people don’t have one - it’s a rare human mutation, one quickly growing extinct.
“No,” she said. “but I love the idea. It’s very romantic.” She let go of Anakin’s hand and he withdrew it, feeling like the planet must be spinning off its axis. “I didn’t know the Jedi had soulmates.”
He swallowed. “Most don’t. It’s...untraditional.”
Padme, either not noticing or wisely ignoring his distress, went back to making dinner. Anakin, although quite a bit more somber now, did the same.
So Padme wasn’t his soulmate - so what? He was a Jedi. This was probably for the best. In any rate, it wasn’t as if his soulmate had died or anything. They were still out there - waiting for him.
They received a message from Obi-Wan on Geonosis the next day.
Anakin in 19 years old when he loses his right hand.
He doesn’t remember much after Dooku flew away; he must have have blacked out from the shock while they waited for evacuation. At any rate, he woke up with a jolt in a hospital bed in the hall of healing, heart hammering and looking around wildly. Before he could move too much, a comforting hand grasped his shoulder, lightly holding him down in the bed.
Anakin looked up, but then relaxed when he saw the hand’s owner standing beside him. “Master,” he gasped out. Obi-Wan smiled weakly, but it didn’t reach his eyes.
Concerned, Anakin raised his own hand to reach out to Obi-Wan, when something registered as different. He couldn’t quite feel feel his hand - he could move it but there wasn’t really much sensation, as though his hand was asleep.
He glanced down at his hand. It was a skeletal gold prosthetic. Of course. Dooku. His hand had been cut off.
Obi-Wan’s grip tightened on his shoulder. He looked back up at his master. “Anakin,” Obi-Wan started, “How are you feeling?”
It took a second for Anakin to register any new information. “How are you doing, master?” he said. “Is your leg alright?”
Obi-Wan grimaced. “It will be. A little stiff for now, but I’m told it will recover with physical therapy.”
“That’s good,” Anakin said. “Is Padme - is Senator - is she alright?”
“Padme’s fine,” Obi-wan soothed. “How are you feeling?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Anakin, you just went through-”
“I said I don’t wait to talk about it,” Anakin snapped. He swallowed, and did his best to get that wobble out of his voice. “Please, can we just-” He cut himself off, because he sounded suspiciously like he was about to cry.
Obi-Wan moved his hand from Anakin’s shoulder to the back of Anakin’s head, pulling him to an embrace against Obi-Wan’s torso. Much to Anakin’s embarrassment, he was trembling. Obi-Wan began rubbing Anakin’s back.
“Oh, my padawan,” he said - whispered, really, into Anakin’s hair. Anakin buried his face into Obi-Wan’s robes, so no one could see him. “You are so brave,” Obi-Wan said. “I’m so sorry I could not protect you.”
Anakin could feel the tears now, hot and threatening to escape from his screwed-up eyes. “It’s gone,” he murmured.
“What was that?”
Anakin tilted his head down, just a little, so his mouth was free. “My hand. Not just my hand. My mark. It’s gone.” He smashed his whole face back into Obi-Wan’s robes. “I know Jedi aren’t supposed to have soulmates,” he whispered, half-hoping his voice would be too muffled to hear. “But it’s like I had someone always with me and now they’ve left.”
He heard Obi-Wan sigh, felt the hands around his shoulders squeeze him close. “Anakin,” he breathed into Anakin’s hair, just as softly.
Anakin wasn’t sure if Obi-Wan was projecting, or if they were just so close that Anakin could pick up loud thoughts through the training bond. In any case, he could hear it as clear as if Obi-Wan had shouted in his ear. I will never leave you.
Anakin was twenty-one and Obi-Wan was unconscious.
They were on a continent mostly covered in rainforest, on a planet mostly covered in water. The most highly evolved native species was a type of fish with no more than a handful of brain cells between them. Anakin and Obi-Wan had been the distraction to draw the droids out of a base the clones would then infiltrate, take down the shields, and destroy. Anakin hoped the clones were doing well; he and Obi-Wan certainly had to cut their losses and run.
Well, Anakin was running. Obi-Wan was mostly unconscious after taking a blaster bolt to the shoulder, and Anakin was starting to struggle to carry the other man. Luckily, the forest was dense and the high humidity caused everything to mist, slowing down the droids. He had probably lost them.
Just to be safe, Anakin trekked a little bit further with his master slung over his back, until he found a nice spot where a tree had grown over top of another, creating a nice shelter between the roots of the two. “This looks good enough, wouldn’t you say, Master?” he said conversationally, although a little out of breath.
He put Obi-Wan down gently. The blaster wound was mainly on Obi-Wan’s upper back, so Anakin sat down on the ground, positioning Obi-Wan in a sitting position between his legs so Anakin could get a good look at it. He’d assess Obi-Wan’s injury, and then radio the clones.
Obi-Wan’s Jedi robes were a bit damp due to the high humidity; Anakin made a face as he shrugged Obi-Wan’s tunic off his shoulders, and then carefully lifted Obi-Wan’s undershirt over his head. The injury, fortunately, wasn’t too bad (looking, at least). Obi-Wan would definitely have a bruised rotator cuff, but with a few days rest it would be fine. Hell, even Anakin with his limited force-healing abilities would be able to heal that if he had to.
Anakin’s eyes wandered down from Obi-Wan’s shoulder to the soulmate mark, a little lower in the middle of Obi-Wan’s shoulder blades. He tried not to be bitter towards Obi-Wan’s blatant disregard towards it, but he didn’t always succeed. He missed his soulmate like he missed his right hand.
Obi-Wan’s mark, although a little streaky from the sweat layering it, read clearly Obi-Wan is fucking heavy.
Anakin jerked backwards, knocking his head into the tree behind him, almost dropping his mentor. That was...he had just thought that…
Obi-Wan’s mark changed quickly to what the hell what the hell what the hell what the hell.
Oh, god. This couldn’t be happening. No, soulmates weren’t - not like this. Anakin always thought he’d know, right away, when he first set eyes on his soulmate. His other half, it couldn’t be... not like this.
He suddenly, desperately tried to remember some of the things his old soulmate mark had read, back when he still had it. He had been born with his mark, his mother told him; that meant his soulmate had been born first. It used to - his soulmate had always been very focused, and cautious, and curious, and always wanted to go home, or sometimes Dex’s, and had sometimes gone into fits of self-doubts about not being good enough for “him,” and -
The mark now read It’s me.
Anakin is twenty-three and there is no way in hell he’s letting Obi-Wan go after General Grievous alone. No matter what the council, or the Senate, or even Chancellor Palpatine says (who, by the way, was really starting to piss Anakin off with all this “leave Obi-Wan behind” and “Obi-Wan is just holding you back” business. He’s a kind politician, and good at his job, and normally Anakin would trust his judgement but kriff was he wrong about this).
Anakin stows away on Obi-Wan’s ship. It’s definitely not his first choice, and he felt a little bad about deceiving his old master after the speech he made when they were saying “goodbye,” but he’s not leaving his soulmate. Not after he just found him.
Afraid that Obi-Wan would dismiss it if Anakin presented his discovery, Anakin had kept the whole “soulmate” fact to himself. If he had been a little more protective since then, or a little more comfortable sharing personal space, Obi-Wan hadn’t said anything. They were already a galaxy-acclaimed famous duo; Anakin didn’t need more validation than that.
He comes out of hiding three-quarters of the way to Upactu by simply walking into Obi-Wan’s quarters. It’s night-time, according to the Anakin’s internal clock, and Obi-Wan is preparing to sleep when Anakin walks in. Obi-Wan is not pleased.
“Anakin?” he inquires, confusion quickly turning to annoyance. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m coming with you,” Anakin stated.
“You had direct order to stay at the temple!”
“General Grievous is dangerous, master. This sort of mission would normally require two Jedi and you know it. I’m going to look out for you.”
Some emotion Anakin didn’t recognize clouded Obi-Wan’s face. “You can’t complain about not being made a master,” Obi-Wan said, “and continue to pull stunts like this, Anakin. It’s disorderly, disrespectful, and it’s not the Jedi way.”
Anakin frowned. “The Jedi way?” He’d been less than pleased with the Jedi recently. “Obi-Wan,” he said earnestly. “If there was ever a choice, between you and the Jedi, I’d choose you every time.”
Obi-Wan didn’t seem particularly surprised, but his frown deepened. “That is particularly not the Jedi way. It’s blasphemy for you to be speaking like this.”
“I don’t care,” Anakin said, “Whatever we have between you and I goes way beyond the Jedi order.”
Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow. “And what exactly is between you and I, Anakin?”
“We’re-” Anakin started, paused for a second to consider his reservations, and found he didn’t have any. “We’re soulmates.”
This did get a startled reaction out of Obi-Wan. His mouth dropped open a little as to say something, but he didn’t. His raised his arm behind him, as if to touch his soulmate mark, but aborted that gesture too. Finally he just turned his back to Anakin.
Anakin’s heart dropped. This, this was the reason he hadn’t told anyone. Obi-Wan was going to reject him, he was going to split up the team, he was going to-
Obi-Wan turned back around, looking resigned. “How long have you known,” he asked flatly.
“Almost two years,” Anakin said. “Maybe longer, subconsciously, but-” he cut himself off, studying his old master’s face. “Wait. You knew! You knew?” Obi-Wan gave a tiny inclination of his head in acknowledgement. “How long have you known?”
Obi-Wan closed his eyes. “I’ve had my suspicions since you were young. I accepted it by the time you were 14, at least.”
Anakin’s jaw dropped open. “You knew. For 10 years!?” Obi-Wan was silent - he didn’t look at Anakin. “For 10 years,” Anakin repeated. “And you never said anything. Or acted upon it at all? Do I mean nothing-” his voice cracked.
Obi-Wan opened his eyes. “Anakin,” he said, slowly, dangerously. “Never question your value to me.”
Anakin laughed wildly. “Did you know I spent my entire life searching for you?” he asked. “Do you know how much of a shock it was to find out you’d been under my nose this entire time?”
“Of course I knew, Anakin!” Obi-Wan snapped. “You spent your entire childhood using your soulmate mark like a damn security blanket!”
Anakin narrowed his eyes. “It really wasn’t that much of a shock at all,” he said. “After all, I already loved you.”
“What,” Anakin mocked. “Did you already know that, too?”
“Show me,” Obi-Wan demanded.
“Show me,” Obi-Wan repeated, a little desperate.
“What? Show - Fine.” Anakin crossed the room in two strides and picked up Obi-Wan’s chin in his hands. “Fine,” he repeated, and bent down to kiss him.
Kissing Obi-Wan felt like his entire life was a puzzle and the last piece just fell into place. Obi-Wan must have felt the same - he kissed eagerly, as though he was afraid Anakin was going to leave, squeezing Anakin’s arms in his hands. Anakin kissed him until all of his tension and aggression flew out of him, leaving just the energy of it all left behind.
Eventually Anakin pulled away, just a centimeter, resting his forehead on Obi-Wan’s and letting his smile overtake his face. His happiness was buzzing all around him; he was sure Obi-Wan could feel it in the force, because he could feel Obi-Wan solid and warm next to him like the other half of his soul.
“Master,” he said playfully, as Obi-Wan narrowed his eyes in mock-derision. “I don’t care how many ships I have to stow away on. You’re not getting rid of me until the day I die.”
Obi-Wan had left without him, and he shouldn’t have left without him, Palpatine was a Sith, and Anakin burst into the Supreme Chancellor’s office and Obi-Wan was about to kill Palpatine and Anakin shouted Wait! and Obi-Wan hesitated and then…
Anakin was twenty-five when his soul died.
Palpatine - or Darth Sidious, apparently - slid his lightsaber out of Obi-Wan’s body, stepping aside to let it drop to the floor. “He betrayed you,” the old man warned. “The entire Jedi order betrayed you. They were going to kill the two of us. Your own soulmate, when you were just trying to save him.”
He stared down at where Obi-Wan had fallen. He couldn’t quite feel anything, which surprised him in an academic sort of way. “I am no longer loyal to the Jedi,” he stated. “All of my reasons to are dead.” His voice sounded dead. His mechanical hand reached down to his lightsaber on his belt, but he didn’t draw it right away.
Sidious smiled. He had a smooth voice, although a wary glint in his eye and a twitch in his saber arm. “Are you ready, Darth Vader?”
Darth Vader nodded, an old legend popping into his head. When one soulmate dies, the other goes insane. Perhaps this had been Sidious’s plan all along. “I’m ready. What do you need me to do?”
Sidious still had his lightsaber in his hand when he executed Order 66. Even old and decrepit, he was a skilled warrior. The only advantage Vader has was that he didn’t particularly care whether he lived or died. It ended as Vader lopped off three of the emperor’s limbs and he flew out of the window of his office and fell to his death onto the unforgiving Senate floor.
Vader summoned Sidious’s lightsaber with the Force, and quickly walked over to Sidious’s desk where the communication panel was. “Chancellor Palpatine is dead,” he transmitted. “Darth Sidious is dead. I am the next in control of the Empire.” He paused for a second to let his words sink in. “This is Darth Vader. Your direct orders are to immediately cease execution of Order 66. Execute order 101.”
There. As an afterthought, he comm’d the Jedi grandmaster’s private line. He left his message brief. “Master Yoda,” he stated. “I have killed Darth Sidious and ceased the march on the Jedi temple. As you many have noticed, the clones have all been ordered to kill themselves.” He paused. This next declaration, he had dreamed about giving many times. Never in these circumstances. “I’m resigning my commision from the Jedi Order,” he stated.
Vader closed his eyes. He could vaguely feel the part of him that had once been Anakin crying, but his voice was steady. “Darth Sidious killed Obi-Wan Kenobi in the confrontation. You’ll find his body in the Supreme Chancellor’s Office. He died a Jedi master.” His voice hardened. “Do not try to contact me or find me again. I shall be leaving the Republic for the Separatist systems. The Separatists will cease war with the Republic and remain within their confined systems. I will keep them in line. If you don’t us, then we won’t bother you.”
Vader’s eyes snapped open. He could feel the heat behind him, as if his whole body was on fire, and wondered if this is what insanity was like. “This I swear to you with my full authority as Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith.”
He ended the transmission.