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The Greater Good

Chapter 1: The Greater Good

by BellemaineChercoeur

Padme Amidala was weeping.

Great heaving sobs tore through her throat, burned her lungs and made her shoulders ache. Scalding tears burned her cheeks and stung her eyes. A wordless cry of agony was wrenched from her soul.

Unable to bear the sight of her grief any longer, Obi-Wan Kenobi turned away from her, shifting his gaze to the moonlit garden outside. He knew that what he had demanded of her was almost inconceivable to a mother, he knew that her heart was too delicate to withstand this double blow, but he also knew that he was left with no other choice. The final dictates of the Jedi Council had been clear, and although there were now but two members of that Council left, he meant to see their wishes carried through.

Anakin was lost to them. He had turned to the Dark Side, eagerly embracing its gifts. Its charms had ensnared him more easily then Padme ever had done, his lust and enchantment for the dark power easily overpowering his once genuine love for her.

The Dark Side had claimed him.

Obi-Wan felt a bitter smile curl his lips as the realisation struck him. The Prophecy had been correct; Anakin was the one to bring balance to the force. Qui-Gon Jinn had been both absolutely correct and fatally wrong. Anakin Skywalker was the one to bring balance to the force; yet he should never have been allowed to train as a Jedi. His powers were strong, yet ultimately his character had been unsuitable for one of the Jedi Order, a fact recognised by the now destroyed Jedi council when Anakin had been brought before them. Qui-Gon had focussed only on the power of the boy, thought only of the benefits that a Jedi of Anakin's strength could have brought to their Order. The memory of Qui-Gon demanding the right to take Anakin as his Padawan still had the power to cut him, yet Obi-Wan knew that, as always, Qui-Gon had been acting in the best interests of the child. It was inconceivable to his Master to allow someone with Anakin's connection to the Force to remain untrained and ill informed about his own abilities.

And ironically enough, Anakin was the one who had brought balance to the Force. Yet he had not done it alone, and it was not in the manner in which Qui-Gon had foreseen. Obi-Wan held the tool of both Vader's destruction and the restoration of the Force in his arms. A child. A child born of the light, a child who must grow to maturity not knowing that his Father could not know of his existence for fear he would commit murder. The Dark Side had indeed clouded everything, obscuring the true purpose of Anakin, perverting his character so that he would see fame, glory and power as the true rewards of his life. Vader would never know the true purpose for which the Living Force had created Anakin Skywalker.

Obi-Wan closed his eyes and focussed all his energies upon the child. He felt the warmth of the living force embrace him and a strong sense of contentment flooded through him. Startled he opened his eyes and met the gaze of the baby he held. Shining blue eyes smiled up at him, and Obi-Wan gently cupped the baby's head. Yes, this was the one. He could feel the light within the child; this was their only hope, the only chance to restore not only the Jedi Order but to bring back peace and prosperity to the Galaxy at large.

Padme's heaving sobs had settled slightly, and he turned back towards her. He forced himself to observe her dispassionately, using the Force to keep a barrier between them. Her eyes were red, her nose was puffy and her hair fell in disordered curls over her shoulders - yet her inner beauty remained unassailable. Feeling his gaze upon her, she stiffened, and Obi-Wan saw her draw on the years of political training she had willingly endured. First her spine stiffened, then her shoulders drew back. Her hands swiped quickly across her cheeks, then twisted her hair into a knot at her neck before falling composedly into her lap. She lifted her head, the cool calm expression of countless senatorial hearings fixed on her face. She could not hide the agony in her eyes. Obi-Wan fought to keep the barrier of duty and responsibility between them.

"I beg you not to take them from me."

Her voice was cool, her diction perfect, and Obi-Wan sensed the effort it had taken from her. He strode towards her and placed the child in the small cradle that stood beside her. The child turned towards his twin sister, who sleepily opened her eyes. A grave look passed between them, and the two adults watched in stunned awe as their tiny hands clutched each other.

A heavy silence blanketed the room, broken only by the soft breathing of the twins. His heavy bantha wool robe pooled around his feet as he knelt before her. Holding her barely trembling hands in his own, he asked her, "Padme, do you trust me?"

Mutely she nodded, causing a few wayward curls to fall across her damp cheeks.

"If there were any other way, Padme, I swear to you I would have found it. He is coming. We have no time to build any type of defence against him. He is no longer our Anakin, he has turned his back on us so completely that there is almost nothing left of the man we knew. Anakin Skywalker has been betrayed by the Dark Side's creation of Darth Vader. If he were to learn of the very existence of Luke and Leia, he would tear apart the Galaxy until he found them. The ability to use the Force can run through families, Padme, and Qui-Gon told me that he could sense the untutored power in Shmi Skywalker. The Dark Side and the Sith Lord would demand that Vader train his children, that he should turn them, teach them to pervert the use of the Force. He would take all that is good, all that is sweet and innocent about them, and he would turn them into acolytes of the Sith."

His grip on her hands tightened as a violent shudder racked her slight frame. He kept his voice soft, the tone firm yet slightly sorrowful. "Our only option is to conceal the three of you from him. Master Yoda said that Vader would consume Anakin entirely, but I could sense the fragments of Anakin within him, and it is those fragments that will betray him completely to the dark. You are his greatest weakness, Padme, and once the Emperor realises that a part of Vader yearns for you, he will destroy you to ensure his hold over Vader is complete. For the sake of us all, we need to hide you, we need to keep you safe, and we need to ensure that the children are protected."

"And the only way to protect us is to tear us all apart? Obi-Wan they are only babies!"

He smoothed a stray curl back from her face, settling it beside the knot of hair at her neck. "Padme, I know that they are only babies. I know that it will break your heart to lose them, but I know that there is no other way. Think of Master Yoda, think of the Jedi younglings. The Force does not wait for the child to mature, the ability to use the Force is always present. Would you judge Master Yoda on his size? In a few years, both Luke and Leia would be the same size as him, and both would be showing signs of Force sensitivity. It is too dangerous to keep you together!"

"I am willing to risk it! You said it yourself, Anakin..." Her words trailed off, and Obi-Wan saw the death of Anakin Skywalker in her eyes. At that moment, the young man that had loved her, married her, and created two children with her, died. Padme had accepted that no matter what happened, the Anakin Skywalker she loved was gone forever, and in his place a creature of Darkness called Darth Vader stood. She steadily held Obi-Wan's gaze then resumed speaking.

"Vader is not looking for a Mother with two young children. He is looking for me, a woman, alone. If you were to come with me Obi-Wan, we could all travel in safety! Think on it; two parents and two children! The Empire would not be searching for a party of four, we could travel unseen, flee to some remote world and watch the twins grow in peace and safety."

The vision was so strong that his heart lurched and begged to take the option that she offered. Her eyes pleaded, and her hands clutched the collar of his robe.

"Obi-Wan please!"

Cold reality, however, crowded out the dream and he felt sick with the knowledge that he must shatter not only her dreams but her piece of mind as well.

"We cannot Padme. It would be a fantasy; we would never be safe."

"Yes we would; a family we could be a family!"

He gently covered her hands with his own. "The danger would be ever present. Think, Padme, we must not draw any attention to ourselves. Our only hope lies in our separation. The twins must not use the Force, it would create too large a disturbance and that would be felt. If three Jedis stayed together it would be inevitable. It's too risky."

"I trust you Obi-Wan. If you do not teach them, how are they to know? They would remain ignorant of the talent, and we would be able to watch over them."

Knowing that this would hurt her even more, he steeled himself to do it. He released one of her hands and pulled a data crystal from his inner pocket. "We are too well known." He activated the crystal, and she watched in horror as images of her face were presented along with an order for her arrest, a list of her crimes and a huge reward. "This has been distributed throughout the Empire. I feature in another. Unintentionally, we will bring danger to the twins. If we travel together, we increase the likelihood of being recognised. We would confirm our identities. We must travel separately. Although, you are also right. As we will each be travelling with a child, we will be harder to find."

"And always alone. They are a pair Obi-Wan they belong together. Would you condemn them to a life apart! All they have known are each other; they have spent their entire life together, shared my womb, and been constant companions. How can you separate them?"

Obi Wan said nothing, did not move, and merely continued to hold her gaze. As he watched, tears welled and were ruthlessly suppressed.

"Say something! Tell me why! Tell me how my husband could have turned against me! Tell me why their own Father would destroy his children! Tell me why you wish to break my heart and tear my children from me! Tell me why!"

The tears broke through, spilled over her cheeks once more, and Obi-Wan gently gathered her into his arms, pulling her from the chair and onto the floor beside him. Her cheek came to rest on his shoulder, and his arms pressed her close as the sobs threatened to tear her apart. His cheek rested on her bent head, the softness of his beard tangling gently with the silk of her hair.

"Padme, I cannot tell you why Anakin turned. All I can tell you is that the Dark Side has taken him, that the Anakin Skywalker we knew and loved was unable to resist that temptation. Perhaps, and only perhaps, if he had never trained as a Jedi the temptation would not have been placed before him. I believe that his talent, that his gift was so strong that the Dark Side would have always needed him, always wanted him. At least he did good as a Jedi, at least there are some things that will expiate the crimes that he has committed and will yet commit. The Dark Side is what forces us on this road, Padme Amidala Skywalker. That is the cause of our grief, our torment and our suffering. The Emperor and Darth Vader will blight this galaxy. The Jedi have fallen, yet the Force remains. We must ensure that those who can use the Force are protected, that in time the Force can be cleansed of the Dark Side. The Empire will fall, as will the Emperor, but it will take time, maybe even generations until our galaxy is free of them once more. Until then, we must guard all that exist as a beacon of hope. Luke and Leia are that hope. A New Hope that will ring through the ages."

He held her until her tears were spent, until the moisture on his own cheeks had disappeared, until the knowledge had become familiar enough to be just enough to bear in untold agony.

"When must we go?" The words were soft, defeated, yet Obi-Wan heard the acceptance in them.

"Now. This sector is not safe. We are too easily found here."

"Where?"

"It is arranged. You shall go to Alderaan with Leia. Bail Organa will protect you; he has the entire royal court at his disposal. You will be safe there. Alderaan is a peaceful world, the people are warm and giving and loving. You will heal there, Padme. Over time, it will become home."

Padme shook her head, denying the truth of his words. "Never completely, Obi-Wan. If Luke, if you are not with me, then how can the hurt be gone?"

His arms tightened around her, pressing her even closer to him.

"Where will you take Luke?"

"Tatooine."

Startled, she pulled back from him. "No, Obi-Wan it is too dangerous! There is no law there, the Hutts have too much control, the climate, the people....not there."

"It is the last place that he would look. Tatooine has too many bad memories, too many ghosts that would haunt him there. I will watch over him, keep him from harm, keep him safe."

"Yes." The unspoken promise lay between them. The children must be protected at all costs. Their own lives were secondary.

He leant forward, and placed a gentle kiss upon her forehead, a silent benediction that would give her comfort throughout the many lonely nights that followed. "Come, we must go."

Obi-Wan slipped an arm about her waist, helping her to her feet. He picked up her travelling cloak from the arm of the chair and placed it about her shoulders. Almost unconsciously, Padme turned to him, drawing on his strength as she moved to say farewell to her son. Together they moved towards the cradle, Obi-Wan standing behind her, his hands resting gently on her shoulders. She stood silently, drinking in the sight of the twins, then quickly stooped to gather Luke into her embrace. Hungrily, her fingers ran over his face, his arms, his feet, her aching heart memorising every feature, every part of her baby boy. She rested her cheek against his, inhaling the scent of him, covered him with kisses, sending desperate entreaties to whatever power that watched over them to keep both the child in her arms and the man behind her safe and free from harm. Knowing that she may never see her son again, Padme willed him to know that she loved him.

Her heart breaking, she said. "Take him."

Obi-Wan moved to stand beside her, gathering the child into the crook of his arm, settling the folds of his robe about the bundle. Padme reached down, bringing Leia up to rest against her heart, filling the emptiness in her arms with her daughter. Leia opened her eyes and looked up at her mother, and Padme stroked cool gentle fingers over her brow and summoned a smile for her child. Reassured, Leia's eyes closed once more, and Padme rocked her gently back to sleep.

Knowing the moment of departure was upon them did not make the leave taking any easier. Holding the sleeping child against her breast, Padme looked up at the Jedi Knight before her. Obi-Wan forced a smile for her, "I swear to you, Padme. He will make you proud."

She forced her own lips to curve, and his heart ached at her effort. "Leia shall also. She cannot know of this, of her Father, or of her Brother, but she shall know of Ben Kenobi, the General who defended us all in the Clone Wars, the man who held her as a baby, who cared for her mother, who loved her like a daughter. She will know."

"Padme..." For the first time, Obi-Wan was lost for words. He knew the honour of the name she had bestowed on him. Naboo culture reserved the word "Ben" as an honorific, bestowed only upon those who performed a great service or undertook a great duty or commitment, or those who shared a common bond and purpose. It usually translated as "Beloved" or "Held in Our Heart". Soulmates, families, lovers; the word was always attached to great love, great commitment and often great loss. It was never given lightly.

Careful of the sleeping children between them, Obi-Wan bent towards her, intending to press a farewell kiss upon her cheek, a token of thanks for the honour. As he moved away, their eyes met and as if it were preordained, they moved together; their lips joining in a kiss of loss.

Padme poured every emotion that tormented her heart into the kiss, and felt his answers echoing in her soul. Loss, pain, despair, rage, hope, love, dedication, wonder, all melded into the mass that joined the two of them. Unspoken, unacknowledged through overt action or word, Padme Amidala Skywalker and Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi accepted that being parted would break their hearts, as the last strong emotional foundation of their lives was to be torn from them.

Slowly, moment by hard-fought moment, the kiss came to an end. Their eyes drank in the sight of the faces before them, the adult and the child, before Padme spun on her heel. Clasping Leia to her, she begged him to go. "I cannot watch you walk away from me. I have borne the loss of everything else that has ever been important in my life; duty, postion, family, husband. Knowing that you have also lost all that is dear and true in your life... Your loss will break me. You must leave, Ben, I cannot bear it any more. May the force guide you both, may it keep you both safe. May it tell you that I love you always."

She sensed more than felt his hand brush her hair, but his voice when it came, sounded from across the room. He stood by the door. "It will, Padme. You will know it, because you will feel it and be able to rest in that knowledge. Keep her safe, keep her in your heart, as we will keep you both in ours. Even though he may not remember her or you, I shall remember for us both. May the Force be with you. Always." He forced himself to walk away.

Padme spun about in time to catch a glimpse of them both as the door slid shut behind him. She forced herself to remain in the same spot, to stay behind, even as her heart demanded that she follow her son and the man who held her heart. It took all of her willpower to remain in that one spot.

Bail Organa entered the room, mere minutes after Obi-Wan had left. He looked into Padme's eyes, and almost flinched at the devastation he saw. He took her arm gently and guided her towards the door. Unresisting, she moved with him. At the door, she turned back, determined to see the room one last time. Here it was her heart had broken, never to fully heal. Here it was she had acknowledged the death of her husband. Here it was she had held her children, drunk in their love for her and each other. Here her heart had beat secure in the knowledge that she was loved, and that love would last a lifetime. Here she had knowingly sacrificed her heart for the greater good, and for the rest of her life, she would be torn between the knowledge that she had done what was right and how close she had come to denying it in order to follow them to Tatooine.

End.