Chapter 1: Arrival
Anakin Skywalker watched as his eldest child tackled her twin and they tumbled into the lake. At least they knew how to swim and saw sand as something to build castles in, not to seek shelter from. All these years later and he still marveled at there being so much water, so much life, in one place.
Both children popped up, laughing, Luke swiping water and blonde hair out of his eyes. He glanced up the hill and his sister followed his gaze. Leia nodded to something her brother said, then shouted, "Race ya to the top!"
The twins dashed up the hill, laughing the entire way and leaving trails of mud behind them. Anakin knelt and held out his arms, and they ran into them. He hugged them tightly, not caring if they left his robes damp. Better than the robes being sandy, that was certain.
Luke ran his fingers through his damp hair and grinned up at him. "How long are you home this time?"
Anakin's grin was broad. He scooped both children up into his arms and strode towards the house. "A whole month," he said. "Daddy's bosses purposely made it a long trip."
"And Uncle Ben?" Leia asked from her perch on his right hip.
"I'm also here for the duration," Uncle Ben said, and the twins shouted in excitement.
Anakin set them down onto the porch's tiled floor. "Go get dried off and changed for dinner," he told them. "Don't give Threepio a hard time."
"'Kay," they called out, already halfway into the house.
He shook his head, then looked over at 'Uncle Ben'. "Duration?" Anakin asked. "Obi-Wan, they're five years old."
"There's never a better time to build a better vocabulary than the present," Obi-Wan said.
Anakin rolled his eyes in response as the pair walked into the house, then nodded to the security guard standing near the door. The guard smiled. "Milady's in the parlor," he said.
The pair nodded and headed to the parlor. Padmé crossed the room and kissed Anakin on the cheek. "So, they were outside?"
Anakin nodded. "Leia tackled Luke into the lake, so I sent them to change. They're so big! They sure are a handful, aren't they?"
"No more than what you were, I can assure you," Obi-Wan said wryly.
"Oh, of course not, Master," Anakin said, his eyes lit up with mischief.
Padmé laughed. "My mother tells me that children are ten times worse than the parents were, in order to vindicate the grandparents," she said lightly. "But if they're a handful, that's not my fault."
Anakin poked Padmé's shoulder. "Oh, so their behavior is all my fault, is it?"
"She never dove out of a speeder in mid-air," Obi-Wan said.
"I learned from the best, O Window-Diver."
Their shared laughter was soon interrupted by the sounds of two children running in the hallway. They skidded into the parlor and clung to Anakin's legs, shouting hellos to all three of the adults.
Obi-Wan squatted so he could look into two pairs of curious eyes. "Hello there, my little friends," he said.
"Hiya, Uncle Ben!" Luke said.
"Didja bring us presents?" Leia asked.
Obi-Wan laughed. "Perhaps. If I did, you'll get them later." Both children shouted happily.
"Oh, Obi-Wan," Padmé said. "You'll spoil them."
"No chance of that, milady," Obi-Wan said. "Anakin's not spoiled, after all."
"Wellll," Padmé said.
"Hey, how about we get cleaned up for dinner," Anakin suggested. "As long as I can get my children off of my legs."
Obi-Wan glanced down at the twins, then back at Anakin. He smiled. "Good luck." He headed for the refresher.
Fifteen minutes later, Obi-Wan lounged on the bed in his room, pretending to snore, when Anakin entered. He unceremoniously tossed his cloak onto Obi-Wan's stomach. "Stop faking, old man," Anakin said when Obi-Wan made no reply save for a light snore. "You're a much noisier snorer than that."
Obi-Wan arched one of his eyebrows, though his eyes remained closed. "Who's old? It didn't take me fifteen minutes to get here."
"You didn't have to pry five-year-olds off your legs, either," Anakin said, picking up his cloak from where he'd tossed it onto Obi-Wan and draped it over his shoulder. He slid onto the chair beside the bed. "Was I really that much trouble?"
"Oh, Anakin, you were far worse."
"You met me when I was ten!"
"You had had five years to perfect your annoying cuteness before I ever met you."
Then came a sound of bells, mixed with Anakin's groan. "Time for dinner, old man," he teased.
"I'm sure it will be excellent," Obi-Wan said, opening his eyes and sitting up. "Let's go."
Chapter 2: After Dinner
Dinner was indeed excellent. Both Luke and Leia had been on their best behavior, Padmé assured them, despite the occasional floating fruit and spilled glass of juice. They'd both chattered idly, telling their father and favorite uncle all about the past six months.
After dinner, they went back to the parlor, where the fireplace had been lit, and settled onto the couches. Anakin wrapped his real arm protectively around Padmé's shoulders, and the children burrowed--one on either side--of Obi-Wan, who was still getting used to all of this affection. It impressed Anakin to no end at how his children were so open with their feelings.
Or, at this particular moment, their desire for a story.
"It's almost bedtime," Anakin said.
"Please," Luke said. "Just one story?"
"Then we'll go straight to bed with no complainin'," Leia said. "Compromise?"
Anakin chuckled. She sounded like Padmé when she said things like that. "Sure, a story. What kind of story?"
"Wait," Padmé said. "There's only a story if the compromise is agreed to. Is it?"
Two heads--one blond, one brunette--bobbed in agreement. "Tell a Jedi story!" Luke said.
"Tell a politics story!" Leia said.
"Ah, well, that topic means Uncle Ben shouldn't be the storyteller," Anakin said.
"Anakin," Obi-Wan said warningly.
"Well, it's true," Padmé said. "I believe there's a total of two politicians you like."
"Three," Obi-Wan said.
"The point stands," she said. "I'll tell the story."
"Is it about Jedi or politics?" Luke asked.
"Shh, Luke," Leia said. "Let Mommy tell the story."
"Once upon a time, there was a war," Padmé started. "It was a war that began in politics and ended with Jedi. The Jedi were brave and bold; they led troops against droid armies. Two Jedi were particularly gifted at what they did. They were compassionate and clever and won many battles. They eventually became famous for it. Many times, they would arrive--"
"Jumped in with their sabers and saved the day!" Luke said, looking up at his uncle.
"Shhh," Leia commanded.
"They would arrive and the planet would already be in the midst of a battle. They would fight the droids and they would win, bringing liberty to a planet that General Grievous--"
"We learned about him from our tutor," Leia whispered.
"Shhh," Luke said.
"Liberty to a planet that General Grievous had stuck under his thumb. The two Jedi had been a team for a long time--they were Master and Apprentice and knew each other very very well, even after the Apprentice had become a Knight. One day, the Master was sent to capture General Grievous. The Knight had stayed on Coruscant, where he could be with his wife, whom no one knew he'd married."
"Why?" Luke said. "Why didn't anybody know?"
"Yeah, why?" Leia said. "People are s'posed to celebrate marriages, not hide them."
"The Jedi Order didn't think that marriages, save for a few exceptions, were good for the Jedi. They were afraid that attachments could lead the Jedi to be manipulated into making choices that weren't compassionate or clever," Anakin said. "And the Knight hadn't told anyone about his wife except for the leader of the Republic, and the Knight was tormented by dreams that his wife, who was a Senator, would die, and then he discovered--"
"Ahem, I believe that I'm telling the story," Padmé said. The twins giggled.
"Oh, right," Anakin said. "Go on."
"The Knight discovered that the leader of the Republic was also General Grievous' boss."
"He was in charge of both sides?" Leia sputtered. "That's illegal."
Anakin exchanged a look with Obi-Wan, and Padmé continued, "The Republic's leader only acted like he was a good person. He told the Knight that he was actually a--"
"Was he a Sith?" Luke asked. "Daddy said that Sith are like Jedi, but bad."
"Shh," said Leia.
"Yes," Padmé said, "he was a Sith, one of the most ancient enemies of the Jedi. He wanted the Knight to join his side." She looked at Anakin, who smiled at her and nodded. "The Knight told him no and went to one of the Jedi Council. He told them that the Republic's leader was a Sith, and the Councillor told him to wait behind. The Knight, afraid for his wife, followed the Councillor and found him barely holding the Republic's leader at bay. Now, the Knight face a choice--to help the Jedi, or to help the Sith."
"Why would the Knight help the bad guys?" Luke whispered.
"Didn't you hear Daddy? He was afraid that his secret wife would die," Leia said.
"The Sith had promised to help the Knight save his wife," Padmé said. "And because the Knight loved his wife, he wanted to save her, if he could. And so the Knight was torn between his duty to the Jedi and his devotion to his wife. So the Sith cried out 'I am the only way to save your wife!' and the Knight had to choose. He chose--"
Luke's eyes were wide now, and Leia's were fierce. "He better have picked the Jedi," she said. "That's the right thing to have done."
"Shh," Luke said.
"He chose to help the Councillor capture the Sith and they kept him contained until he was put on trial for war crimes and then executed."
"Good," Leia said passionately.
"Couldn't he become good again?" Luke asked.
"He didn't want to be good," Anakin said. "Some times people choose that they won't ever be good. And that is sad."
"And the Master defeated General Grievous," Obi-Wan said, "and he returned to Coruscant as soon as he could. The Knight told him about everything that happened with the Sith."
"And his wife," Padmé said. "And the two of them--the famous team that they were--decided that the Knight would tell the Jedi Council about his wife. The Jedi Council wasn't pleased--"
"At first," Anakin said.
Padmé silenced Anakin with a look. "And they wanted to throw him out of the Jedi Order, but his Master, who was part of the Council, convinced the others that throwing the Knight out would be a bad idea. And so the Council changed some of its rules, and the Knight was able to be a Jedi and have a family. And the Knight and the Master travel the galaxy, doing good and helping people."
"Did the Senator die?' the twins asked in unison.
"No," Padmé said, curling a hand over Anakin's. "The Knight's dreams were wrong."
"What happened to her?" they asked.
"Well, her planet was not very pleased to find out she had secretly married, so she retired for a time. After having her children, she was asked to come back and work as a liaison between what was left of the Separatists and the Republic, which she could do from Coruscant or from home."
"Did this story really happen?" Leia demanded.
"It did," Obi-Wan said.
"Daddy, do you and Uncle Ben know those two Jedi?" Luke asked.
Anakin winked at Obi-Wan, then grinned. "Why, yes, we do, from a certain point of view," he said, and Obi-Wan chuckled.
"Time for bed, kids," Padmé said.
Obi-Wan was glad he was here, with two children snuggled next to him, sitting across from the Knight and the Senator. With his family. Only one person was missing from this scene. What he would give to have Qui-Gon see this.
Time to wake up, Padawan, a familiar voice said as the scene froze around Obi-Wan.
Chapter 3: Reality
Obi-Wan leapt from his bed, automatically calling his lightsaber to his hand. He lit it and swept it around the small room. The blue light fell onto the items that had filled the place in the past five years--faded robes, an old sparring remote, the box where he kept the Knight's lightsaber. He'd offered it to the boy's uncle as a gift, but it had been rejected as being 'inappropriate for a five-year-old'. Perhaps it was.
He breathed in deeply, chest heaving. Snap out of it, Kenobi, he told himself sternly. It was just a dream.
Obi-Wan deactivated the lightsaber. He padded to the window that overlooked the Dune Sea, where the buildings of the closer homesteads and beyond that, the city (could he really call it that?) of Mos Eisley, shone in the moonlight.
"You'd think I'd would quit having dreams like that after five years," he said softly. Perhaps he spoke to his master, perhaps he spoke to no one. He turned from the window and its view. "And, yet, it was a rather nice dream," he said, looking down at the cylinder in his hand. "Too bad I couldn't give that future to Luke. Or to Leia. Or to Padmé."
Or you, the voice intoned.
"Or me," Obi-Wan said. "I would have enjoyed that future. Uncle Ben. I would have enjoyed that future very much."
He shook his head, almost as if to erase the thought and the feeling that accompanied it. That future could never be. It hadn't happened that way--the Knight had picked the Sith, not the Jedi. He fell, she died, and you failed. He failed you because you failed him. There's no other explanation.
No other explanation that you're willing to listen to, the voice said.
Obi-Wan sighed. He was in no mood to argue with the dead tonight. He set his lightsaber on the chair beside the bed and tucked himself back under the sheet he slept under. He fell back into an uneasy sleep, and, because of the unalterable past, dreamt of the unattainable future.