If Obi-Wan just didn’t look out the window, he could almost pretend that he was back in one of the nurseries of the Temple. The room was simple and clean enough for it to be, with its whitewashed walls and freshly swept floor. He’d even installed a warm light overhead, replacing the ugly fluorescent that had once been in its place.
He thought briefly about how he’d have to set up a larger room when the child grew—he doubted that little Leia would want to stay in this small room forever.
But that would be a later problem.
For now, Obi-Wan continued pacing around the little room, his steps light against the floor. He’d learned quickly that Leia didn’t like being still for too long, at least not when she was trying to sleep. A fussy child already, attentive to the sudden changes around her.
Obi-Wan could feel Leia’s little breaths against his shoulder. Her heartbeat, too—a steady, light reassuring thrum that told him that he wasn’t quite alone.
Obi-Wan looked out the window.
Long stretches of sand waited for him, all of it still save for the occasional swirl of it that carried from the wind. The suns were only just starting to set, rays of its orange-yellow-red light winking a little down the horizon. Soon the suns would disappear completely, and Leia would wake again, and the two of them would have to pass through another quiet night.
Leia stirred a little against Obi-Wan, making sounds that he was realizing that babies only a week old made: little snuffles, short breaths that reminded him to resume his pacing.
“You’re a bossy thing, aren’t you?” Obi-Wan murmured, rubbing a hand lightly against Leia’s back. “Always on the move.”
Leia didn’t respond, of course. Obi-Wan smiled a little to himself, pacing to the other side of the room. As the sunlight faded from outside, his shadow lengthened, adding another companion to their quiet company.
Leia was five years old when she insisted that there were actually more visitors in the hut. She said this matter-of-factly, or at least as matter-of-factly as a five-year-old could possibly sound, with one hand gripping a spoon and the other casually rolling the toy fighter across the table.
“What do you mean?” Obi-Wan asked, brushing the sand out of the girl’s hair. It was growing out again, long enough to brush against her shoulders. She usually liked tying it up—but only tying it up a certain way, sometimes complaining if Obi-Wan didn’t tie it up tight enough. No matter how her hair was done, however, it didn’t stop her from somehow rolling around in the sand and bringing the mess home.
“I mean there’s more people here,” Leia said, shoveling more cereal into her mouth. “We should get food for them.”
That was unlikely. Tatooine didn’t have too many animals to begin with, but just the other day, he’d spotted something that looked suspiciously like a rat lurking around the corners of the house. He wouldn’t have minded it, save for the fact that he didn’t think the rat was too friendly.
“What kind of people?” Obi-Wan asked anyways, shaking the last of the sand off Leia’s back.
“Mm…nice people?” Leia said after a bit. “There’s another kid.”
Obi-Wan paused, guilt needling at his chest. The number of regrets circulating around Leia’s childhood had already started to mount (and Force knew there were many, many regrets), but one of them included the fact that there weren’t too many playmates for the young girl. There was the occasional child at the market, but those friendships were short, never lasting long enough for anything permanent.
“Is that so,” Obi-Wan said.
“Uh-huh,” Leia continued, rolling away the toy ship. “Sometimes a nice lady.”
She was quiet for a little while, and then she said, “She looks a little like me.”
Obi-Wan stopped. He looked down at Leia, who just spooned more cereal into her mouth. It took another moment before she looked up at him, both her eyebrows inching up her forehead. “Is it okay if we leave food out for her?”
Obi-Wan swallowed. “I think she’ll be fine,” he replied.
“Oh. Okay then,” Leia said. “I’ll let her know.”
Leia didn’t talk too often about any new visitors after that, but eventually, Obi-Wan and she laid out a bowl for anyone who came along anyways.
When it was late at night, Obi-Wan sometimes checked inside the room—there was never anyone else in there save for Leia’s little sleeping form and the shadows that crept in through the windows, but besides that…well, he’d learned to not think too little about certain visions.
Obi-Wan could have sworn he heard a laugh later that night.
At least Leia enjoyed her lessons. Her laughter could probably be heard from miles and miles away, but Obi-Wan didn’t mind it. There weren’t any people to actually hear of the happiness happening in this little room.
Leia dangled upside down from her bed, hair now cut short so that it wouldn’t brush against the floor. That didn’t stop her from getting dust and sand getting caught in between her clothes though, and it certainly didn’t keep her out of other kinds of trouble—like the fact that she was very precariously floating over an abundance of objects, all of them very, very breakable if she didn’t keep control of her concentration.
“See, I’m doing it,” Leia said triumphantly.
“Very good,” Obi-Wan said from the opposite side of the room. “Although I don’t see why you can’t do it sitting right-side up.”
“It’s boring that way.”
Leia lowered each of the objects one by one to the ground. First the data pad, then some of the toy ships. A few cups. Her face was wound tight in concentration, but it relaxed into triumph when each of the items were carefully set on the floor.
“See?” Leia said again, rolling over on her stomach. She grinned at Obi-Wan, her brown eyes dancing in the morning light. She was at the age now where she was beginning to marvel a little bit at whatever it was she could do—quickly and without too much thought, her presence sparking gold like the suns that rose every morning.
“I see,” Obi-Wan said, smiling. He pushed himself away from the other side of the room, bending down to pick up some of the cups. “Let’s put these away now.”
Leia nodded, sliding off the bed. She dutifully picked up the items as she went along, and when she used the Force to float some of the items back into their proper places, Obi-Wan couldn’t quite bring himself to scold her.
One by one, they pushed cups back into place. Books back to their shelves. Data pads back to their charging ports. It wasn’t until Leia tugged on Obi-Wan’s sleeve did he realize that she had been carrying around something else.
“Where does this go?” she asked.
Obi-Wan looked down, expecting another plate—but instead, he found the smooth, metallic glisten of a weapon turned life turned relic.
It took Obi-Wan too long to find his voice.
“Where did you find that?” he asked.
“In your room.” The honesty of children was a funny thing—the honesty of the child standing before Obi-Wan was something else entirely.
“Give it here.”
Leia obediently set the lightsaber in Obi-Wan’s hand. It was cold against his skin.
“What is it?” Leia asked.
“Something we’ll learn about later,” Obi-Wan replied, slipping it away.
They learned about other things first. Obi-Wan found plenty of things to teach her first anyways, and Leia had plenty of things to learn first. She was quick like Obi-Wan expected she’d be, movements fluid in a way that reminded him both terribly and brilliantly of children from a distant past. When they were alone, she also liked to float over things to him when she thought he wasn’t looking.
He always was though—and he always let Leia amuse herself, partially out of curiosity of just how much she had already learned, but more so out of the warmth it brought to him. He could always catch Leia’s little smile to herself, hear the beginnings of a stifled laugh from somewhere behind him. Fourteen years of these kinds of shenanigans had at least improved her stealth.
Sometimes, Obi-Wan let the game end—other times, he would continue to walk around the hut that was now becoming a home, wondering how much longer Leia would keep up the little charade. Where it had once started as something that would last for only a few minutes now seemed to stretch into a half hour, sometimes longer.
Tonight, though, was not really the night for those particular kinds of games.
Instead, Obi-Wan and Leia sat outside the hut. Tatooine skies were always clear, but there had been a sandstorm in the last few days, making going outside impossible. There was no more sand lingering in the atmosphere though, and for the first time in some nights, the two of them could actually see the stars.
Leia had her back to the wall, dark eyes reflecting the even darker sky above them. Her hands were folded neatly on her lap, legs splayed out in front of her.
“There’s a lot of them,” Leia said. “How many?”
“I’m not quite sure,” Obi-Wan replied. “More than we can count, I’m sure.”
“More than you can count?”
“Yes, even more than I can count.”
“Huh.” Leia looked back up at the stars. She smiled, and point a finger to one cluster, continued, “That one kinda looks like you.”
Obi-Wan looked closer at the cluster Leia was pointing at. He couldn’t make too much sense of the stars or the shapes, but if Leia said that they looked like him, then he would at least attempt to believe it. He tilted his head to the side anyways, at least in a show of thinking on the image. “I think you’re right,” he said at last, smiling when Leia did.
“There,” Obi-Wan said, pointing to a different cluster of stars. “I think I found yours.”
“There.” Obi-Wan pointed again, and slowly, Leia’s eyes landed to where he was pointing.
“You’re right,” Leia said proudly. “That’s me…and that’s you…and that’s…”
Leia’s finger drifted to a different set of stars, this time to the one closest to the cluster that made up Obi-Wan’s shape. “That’s everyone else.”
For a moment, Leia’s finger hovered there in that empty space, pointing to stars that Obi-Wan couldn’t actually make shapes out of. He followed her pointing anyways, eyes drifting to the sea of white and yellow and blue stars that blinked in and out of existence the longer he stared.
“Everyone else?” Obi-Wan repeated.
“Well, yeah,” Leia said, setting down her hand. “Everyone else, including the people you don’t like to talk about.” She said this last part with so much more confidence than should have been possible for someone her age, and yet Obi-Wan was dimly aware that perhaps, in the end, he might just not have been used to such confident young voices in quite some time.
“Everyone I don’t talk about…” Obi-Wan said, giving Leia a brief smile. “And you know so much about that?”
“Not so much,” Leia replied. “But I think I know a little bit.”
She lowered her hand to her lap, dropping her head back against the wall of the house. “They say hello sometimes,” she said. “They say you’re hard to talk to.”
Obi-Wan stared down at the little force of nature that was Leia at his side. She knocked her feet gently together, hands still folded in her lap.
“They say that,” Obi-Wan repeated. His voice came out quieter than he expected. He couldn’t trust himself to make it that much louder. He was glad that Tatooine’s night was still enough for him to not need to actually raise his voice.
“They do,” Leia said. “I think it makes them sad.”
She paused, then looked at Obi-Wan with an open, honest smile that only children could give.
Yes, Obi-Wan thought. It had been far too long since he’d seen something like that.
“It’s okay though,” Leia said. She pointed to the stars again, and for just a moment, they seemed to glow brighter. Or that might have been Obi-Wan’s imagination. (He wouldn’t put it past himself though.)
Obi-Wan looked back down at Leia, whose smile had grown just the slightest. “I think we’ll get to talk to them some day,” she said. “To all the people who can’t get to talk to you yet.”
Obi-Wan turned his gaze back to the stars. He eyed the twinkling lights above him for some time. He was starting to see the shapes within them now, maybe because Leia had pointed them out or simply because he wanted to find the people that the young girl had somehow detected.
He saw a few faces in the stars—a sad woman’s, a sad girl’s, a sad boy’s who became a man’s.
Obi-Wan blinked down at Leia. She was waiting for him—his response.
“I think I’d like that,” Obi-Wan said at last.
“I think I’d like that very much.”