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Hope (alone at the bottom of the box)

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In some other universe the four who save everything are young, hardly more than children, and they all lose so much in the doing.

In this universe the four who save everything have already lost much before the universe fractures. They are older, tired and sad but determined.

*

Obi-Wan gets out of the Clone Wars with half the limbs he started with.

Dooku takes his left arm just below the elbow and Grievous takes his entire left leg and nearly his life as well. It’s a wonder, he sometimes thinks, that he’s still got most of his internal organs and both his eyes and ears.

(He misses Anakin more than either of his lost limbs, misses him like Qui-Gon. He spent ten years with each of them, living every breath in unison, relying on one another in ways the Force-blind cannot truly grasp for all that his relationship with Cody came close.)

At least he’s not entirely alone.

Ahsoka tries to be a crutch, a replacement, as much as Obi-Wan tries not to let her. She’s his stability, his balance, and he does everything in his power to give her what she needs in return.

(Some days it hurts to look at her. She is so young, so like Anakin that it takes his breath away.)

(Padmé looks at her like she can see it too. She looks at Obi-Wan with such sad knowing that he aches.)

(Obi-Wan has never known what Yoda thinks, can’t tell what he feels. A small vicious part of him, born of war and loss and horror, resents Yoda. Even now Yoda never once gives any indication that he understands what Anakin’s death did to Obi-Wan.)

*

After Palpatine declares himself Emperor, Padmé is forced to learn many things very quickly.

Obi-Wan, the only person she knows and trusts who also has military experience, becomes one of her most important teachers.

In the end, Padmé’s role in the Rebellion is a cross between diplomat and spymaster. She tries to ignore how many people view her as a figurehead, the face of the rebellion.
Even as Queen or as Senator she’s never before been the keeper of so many secrets.

(Obi-Wan, these days, seems to consist largely of broken pieces haphazardly glued together. She gives him what comfort she can and prays his wounds will one day heal.)

(Cody makes her promise never to tell Obi-Wan that he’s joined the rebellion. She chafes at it even as she understands. Obi-Wan would forgive him and Cody cannot accept that gift.)

(Once, she trusted Palpatine. She is as much to blame for all of this horror as that cursed Sith himself.)

(Sometimes she dreams of Anakin. Most of the time they speak, long meandering conversations about everything from her day to military tactics or the nature of the Force. Sometimes she dreams of the future they never had, of the children, the life, all the little moments. When she wakes she pretends she isn’t crying.)

*

Bail doesn’t speak to Padmé for many years; the risk to both of them is too high.

Every now and again he catches sight of Obi-Wan; he turns away and tries to forget every time.

Breha shares what news of his old friends as she can, wrapped and layered and disguised in the words she chooses. These days she has more freedom than he does so she maintains the friendships he built on Coruscant and lends him her strength when he feels he might collapse under the strain.

*

The Republic dies with the Jedi and Bail does not tell her where he found the child he brings her.

The boy knows better than to speak openly of where he spent his childhood and Breha never asks but makes sure to do so in a way that lets him know he could speak to her if he wished.

The Republic dies with the Jedi and Breha adopts one of their orphaned children as her own.

*

Emperor Palpatine is found murdered one morning with no trace of the perpetrator.

The galaxy breathes once more.