What if the path of the Emperor's Hand had taken a very different turn? AU
Obi-Wan Kenobi was lost in his own thoughts as he silently guided his small ship through hyperspace toward what he hoped would be a safe destination for the package he was carrying. He glanced over at that "package" and a small smile touched his lips at the sight of Luke, sound asleep in the co-pilot's seat. The tow-headed boy was only three standard years old and so he was able to fit curled up in the seat of the large chair. Obi-Wan reached a hand over and gently stroked the boy's hair, sighing as he did so.
It had been a difficult decision for PadmÃ© to separate the twins--he knew that. He felt guilty that brother and sister would have to be apart while they grew to adulthood. But he knew, in his heart, that it had been the right thing to do, simply because it was too dangerous for them to be together any longer. The older the twins got, the stronger they became in the Force. And the Jedi could not risk the two of them being found.
He remembered the conversation with PadmÃ© with a twinge of pain.
"It has to be done, PadmÃ©, surely you can understand this."
"I understand nothing of what has happened in my life these last few years, Obi-Wan. They are my only comfort in an otherwise painful existence. Do not ask this of me. I cannot!"
Obi-Wan sighed and closed his eyes as he tried to think of a way to make her see. Unfortunately, he understood her pain, for he felt it as well. When he had finally realized that it was too late for Anakin, that there was no saving him, it had been like someone stabbed him in the heart with his own lightsaber. He had helped PadmÃ© to escape, to get away from the monster her husband had become and the demon who controlled him, but now he knew that having escaped wasn't enough. They were searching for her and searching hard if the reports were true. Had they known she was pregnant when she left? Obi-Wan prayed that they had not and still did not know.
He suddenly felt a shimmer in the Force and turned around to look at the children in surprise. Two little heads were close together, giggling over the game they played as they lay in the floor at Obi-Wan and PadmÃ©'s feet. He watched in astonishment as Luke levitated a block towards Leia's head. It wobbled a little and Leia's hand rose and seemed to help him until the block nestled on the crown of her hair. They both collapsed into laughter as the block fell to the ground.
PadmÃ© watched them as well, an unreadable expression on her face. She turned back to look at Obi-Wan at the same moment he turned his gaze towards her.
"Do you see? I felt that! Leia is strong in the Force, Luke stronger still. Together, the two of them are like a beacon that cannot be ignored. And it's only going to get worse as they grow older. If Vader--"
"Do not say that name to me! I will not hear that name! I do not know Vader... he is Anakin. He has only forgotten."
She broke off with a cry and covered her face with her hands. She lowered them as she felt two small heads touch her knees. Luke and Leia sat looking up her, each of them hugging one of her legs.
"It'll be okay, Momma." Leia spoke first and Luke chimed in a heartbeat later. "Don't cry, Momma."
PadmÃ© bit back a sob as she caressed each of their faces. She looked at them through her tears. So beautiful were her children, she thought to herself. And so vulnerable. She wished she could take the Force away from them, that they wouldn't have to bear this burden. She took a deep breath and smiled to reassure them.
"Luke, Leia, why don't you go play in your room for a bit, while Momma and Obi-Wan talk? I'll call you for dinner when it's time."
They both chirped "Yes ma'am" and after giving her kisses, raced each other to the room they shared. She listened to their peals of laughter for a moment with a pang of regret. She knew what Obi-Wan was saying was true, but she didn't want to face it. She had noticed in the last six months little things the twins did that were proof that their Force abilities were beginning to emerge and getting stronger quickly. Just two days before Obi-Wan had arrived, she had caught Luke levitating the cookie jar down from the top shelf while Leia looked on. And today, Leia had looked at her and said "Unca Obi's coming" right before the comm had beeped with a message from him.
"Where would you take him?" Her voice was dull with pain and Obi-Wan winced when he heard it.
"I can't let you know."
She looked up at him and anger flashed in her eyes. For a moment, he saw the young queen that Anakin had fallen in love with what seemed like a lifetime ago.
"What!? You would take my child from me and I cannot even know where he will be, what his life will be like? Who will raise him? How dare you, Obi-Wan!"
"PadmÃ©, I wish that I could spare you this pain, believe me, I wish that I could spare us all this pain, but there is no other way! If they were to find you, you could not keep Luke's location from them and he may be the only hope we have of stopping them someday."
"He is my son, not a contingency plan." Her tone was cold and cutting and Obi-Wan couldn't help flinching. "And what of Leia? How can you guarantee her safety?"
"Once the two of them are separated, their Force presence will be diminished considerably. The two of you should be safe here on Varonat. You're far enough away from the core that they should not be able to find you."
She didn't reply as she turned to look at the door her children had gone through. She could hear them playing, laughing and teasing one another. Her darlings. They were the only thing that had kept her sane after Anakin's betrayal... and now, to have to give one of them away, possibly never to see him again? She didn't think she could bear it. And how would they bear it? The two of them were so close, if they weren't different sexes, one would think they were identical twins instead of fraternal. They never fought and sometimes she swore they were communicating silently, although Obi-Wan had told her they were a bit young for that, even given their strength in the Force.
"Give me one more day." Her voice was barely a whisper and she hated that it sounded as though she were begging, but in a sense, she supposed she was.
Obi-Wan hesitated. They really needed to move as quickly as possible, but he couldn't deny her this. She had already lost so much and was now about to give up something so precious. He nodded and tried not to let his own eyes tear up as she cried.
The parting moment had not been easy on any of them and the children had reacted even worse than PadmÃ© had feared. They had screamed and cried and begged her to let Luke stay. They simply could not understand why this awful thing had to be done. Finally, in desperation, Obi-Wan had told them that they would be able to visit with one another and they had calmed down, though they still sniffled pathetically. PadmÃ© had speared him with a fierce glare for what she knew to be a blatant lie, but thankfully she hadn't called him on it.
He gave a small sigh as he tried to steer his thoughts away from the painful situation they had found themselves in. He knew that he could change nothing; so dwelling on it was only hurtful. He almost couldn't help himself, though. He could still see the shock, the anger on Anakin's face as he'd started to fall backwards towards what Obi-Wan had thought was his death, and he remembered screaming in panic and denial as Anakin had slipped from his grasp. He saw two tiny children crying out their misery at having to be parted because of events beyond their understanding and control. He could almost feel PadmÃ©'s agony as she kissed her son good-bye.
A sharp cry of terror suddenly reverberated through the small cabin and Obi-Wan jerked in surprise. Luke had awakened and was sitting up in the co-pilot's chair, his small hands gripping the armrests tightly and he was screaming as though he'd just seen a krayt dragon. Obi-Wan reached over to grab him, but Luke fought against him, still screaming for all he was worth. He finally succeeded in getting the boy to let go of the chair, but it was like trying to hold onto a struggling bantha cub.
"Luke! What is the matter? Did you dream--"
"Leia! Leia! Can't feel Leia!"
"What do you mean? Calm down, Luke and talk to me!"
Luke stopped struggling against Obi-Wan, and he began to speak in broken sobs. "Leia. Where she stays, in my head, she's gone and I can't find her!"
Obi-Wan was astonished. Apparently the bond between the two of them was even stronger than he had imagined. He felt a tremor of apprehension as he realized what Luke's words implied. He raised a hand to Luke's temple and touched it, saying, "Sleep." in a soft voice. Luke's body immediately went limp and his eyes fluttered closed.
Obi-Wan gently probed the boy's mind, trying to see what had caused his sudden distress. He saw the bond with Leia and it was indeed stronger and deeper than he would have thought possible. He gasped in shock when he saw that it had been abruptly severed, obviously from Leia's end. His body sagged in despair as he knew that this could only mean that Leia was dead, no doubt PadmÃ© along with her. He felt the wetness on his cheeks and he cursed Palpatine and Vader in a very un-Jedi-like manner. He cupped one hand along Luke's cheek and stroked his finger across the child's brow.
"Oh, Luke, I am so sorry. Your life was going to be so difficult anyway, and now never to see your mother or your twin again..." His voice was a harsh whisper and it trailed off as a thought occurred to him. It danced dangerously close to the Dark Side, what he was considering... But it was true that Luke's life would be hard and unyielding, fraught with danger and probably a lot of pain. If he could take away this one part, wouldn't that be justified?
Ignoring what he was sure was Yoda's admonishing voice in his head, Obi-Wan touched his hand to Luke's temple once more. This time, he searched out every memory of Luke's bond with his sister, every moment they had shared together and pushed, forcing them to the deepest reaches of Luke's mind, where he would not be able to access them by himself. He didn't want to erase them completely. Maybe someday, after all this was over, he would be able help the boy remember his twin and the bond they had shared.
Obi-Wan sighed again as he looked at Luke's now peacefully sleeping face. "Someday this will be behind you, Luke. You will be a strong Jedi, hopefully the salvation of us all."