"You're not going to tell my father I'm here."
Obi-Wan stared down at the child, all of seven years old but holding herself as though the entire galaxy answered to her command. Her arms were crossed and her chin jutted out defiantly.
It always amused him, seeing Anakin's expressions on Padmé's face.
Not that Obi-Wan could let her know he was amused. No, that would only inspire defiance. He had to play along lest the girl grow a much bigger head.
And as much as he might adore them all, with the parents Leia had, she was well on her way there already. The twins were simply too well-loved to not be a little spoiled.
He settled for a mirror of her pose instead, folding his arms across his chest and arching an eyebrow. "Oh? And why is that, precisely?"
Leia smirked. "Because he wants you to be boring."
Now that was interesting. Just what was Anakin telling his children?
To Obi-Wan's intense disquiet, Leia seemed to have him right where she wanted him, because her smile grew as he considered her words. As if he were the one caught out doing something against the rules, rather than what had actually happened: he had followed the familiar Force signature into the bowels of the temple and walked into a dueling room to find Leia running her hands along a rack of training sabers with clear intent to swipe the one that most took her fancy.
But he was not the Negotiator for nothing, retired though he may be.
He could certainly handle the youngling offspring of his former padawan and his never-secret wife.
"And why would I be boring, little princess?"
(It was a nickname Anakin had given her for her prissy attitude even as an infant, but now most of them used it fondly. Except Anakin. At some point in the last few years, Leia banned him from using it, and threw tantrums when he inevitably did anyway.
In the end, the stubborn child had won, of course, and the rest of them laughed that a being who barely reached his knee managed to outlast Anakin himself in a battle of wills.)
The girl preened, then motioned him down with one of those tiny hands.
Obi-Wan twitched, nearly cracking a smile, but in the end he managed to keep a blank face as he complied, crouching down on one knee at her eye level.
Immediately, Leia put both her hands on said knee, leaning in to regard him with utter seriousness, large brown eyes unblinking. "It's a secret. Promise you won't tell."
He raised a finger to his lips. "I promise."
Leia nodded once, curtly, then launched into a long, babbling, suitably complicated explanation. "Luke and I ran away because he bet us that he was the most pro-tec-ti-vist parent ever and he would never lose us if we ever tried to run away, and I wanted to show him he's wrong."
She stood on her tiptoes to whisper conspiratorially in his ear. "I told him I would too, and I would make it to the Temple because you guys are like my second family, and I'd just stay there. I mean, here. He laughed at me and said 'Obi-Wan's boring, if you run away to the Temple he'll just find you and give you back to me.'"
Leia stepped back and fixed him with that imploring pout that melted most sentiments' hearts in an instant. "So you see, if you give me back, you'll be proving him right that you’re boring."
How he always did love the simple logic of children. He ruffled her hair fondly, ignoring the obligatory wrinkled nose he got in response.
This time, however, Obi-Wan was actually inclined to agree with her.
Obi-Wan was boring, was he? He'd been called a lot of things in his life, but that word never made the list. In fact, common consensus was that Anakin's exploits were really the only thing that made his behavior seem sane in comparison.
Returning Leia to Anakin and Padmé straight away would be the responsible choice, of course…but it sounded like he needed to teach his padawan one last lesson, ex-Jedi or not: everyone had an inner child just waiting to be brought out. The fact that Anakin somehow failed to notice this based on Master Yoda’s everything was impressive.
"So...are you gonna tell on me?"
He smiled genuinely now, and shook his head. "No, little one. In fact, I may have some ideas for how we can...correct your father on this matter."
Leia giggled, covering her mouth with her hand; Obi-Wan held out his own, intending to lift her up and brace her on his hip, but this earned him an instant scowl instead.
"Luke might like to be carried like a baby, but I'm too big for that now," she proclaimed.
Obi-Wan stood. "As you wish." He held out his hand instead.
Leia considered it carefully, then seemed to deem this acceptable, and slipped her hand into his.
Obi-Wan gave a quiet sigh of relief as he finally managed to lead the untrained girl away from the blades. To keep her from needing to scramble in his footsteps, he kept his strides short but not obviously so. With his other hand, he lifted the wrist comm to his lips, whispering a notice to Padmé of the unfolding situation. Hopefully she would allow this.
"You said Luke came with you?" he asked when he was done.
She nodded. "He went to find Aunt 'Soka though. He still thinks he can convince her to let him hold her shoto."
Might as well cover all the details. "Where are your parents right now?"
"Still on Naboo."
Force. Obi-Wan pinched the bridge of his nose. "Then how did you make the journey to Coruscant?"
Leia shrugged carelessly. "Luke and I stole a ship from Father's hangar and made Artoo fly us here."
"You did what?"
"I threatened Artoo and told him I'd have him dismantled if he didn’t listen. I was bluffing—Mama taught me that's when you pretend you will do something outrageous to force somebody to do something—and I think he knew it, but he did it anyway."
Probably because he knew the twins would find a way to do it with or without him. The droid might be as insane as Anakin, but he was always loyal and never did anything to endanger the kids if he could help it.
Still, when Obi-Wan finally saw fit to return the twins to their parents, he would definitely be expressing his concerns about how easily they had managed to accomplish this.
For now, he was going to finally step into the role of fun uncle. Revenge was not the Jedi way, but he would be remiss if he didn’t...remind Anakin that as a boy he’d run away no less than ten times after the smallest arguments.