A short fic, for broken hearted people
And then Anakin left.
And for awhile, it was just Obi-Wan Kenobi against the galaxy, or so it seemed. He was given command of the 501st as well as the 212th, and suddenly everything was just so exhausting. He told himself every day, every hour, why he was fighting. Reminding himself that the point was so much bigger than him.
But it was a hard thing to fight alone.
Ahsoka left, and Anakin left.
...And then Ahsoka came back.
She was different now, quieter, her eyes colder. She was not afraid to criticize the Council or her elders but she was also not afraid to offer them compassion, or admit her own faults.
She was so very nearly ready for Knighthood, they simply did not know what to do with her.
But she did.
“Anakin isn’t coming back,” she said, the words painful and honest, like still-healing scars on tender skin. “He’s not ever coming back. Master Obi-Wan, will you be my Master?”
Obi-Wan looked at her and saw himself asking that question of Qui-Gon Jinn — who had said no — and of Anakin asking that question of Qui-Gon Jinn — who had said yes — and of Anakin asking that question of Obi-Wan himself — who had said you will be a Jedi, I have promised to train you — and wrenching free of all these unsatisfied ghosts he said “Yes,” almost before she had finished speaking.
And Ahsoka smiled.
There was no pleasure in sharing the burden of war with his new Padawan, of delegating trials and tasks to her, of letting her run the 501st almost entirely alone, of watching her rush off without him sometimes, wondering if she would come back this time.
Anakin, after all, had not.
Ahsoka had left and returned.
Anakin had left and never looked back.
But it was easier, far easier, than fighting alone. Once again there was someone to teach, to protect, to share quiet moments of sorrow and comfort and cups of tea with, someone to cherish.
It was easier to believe in the fight when he had someone to fight for right by his side.
And then Anakin returned.
But not in the way any of them had ever hoped.
The Clones turned as one force and fired on their commanding officers, on their allies, on their friends.
Jedi died in a great and terrible wave, and Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka Tano, fresh from their successful strike against Grievous, fell to their knees in their Temple quarters, blinded by agony.
Two cups of tea shattered on the floor.
They hadn’t even stopped to shower yet, hadn’t seen the Healers.
And boots were marching and blasters firing and Jedi were dying, dying, dying above their heads as an army of friends with eyes like droids marched into their home, tramping on their corpses without care.
“Obi-Wan—” Ahsoka gasped.
Deeper into the Temple, deeper into the trap, left with nowhere else to go.
Master Nu was dead in the hallway and two of Ahsoka’s classmates were shot in an upper corridor and toppled over the railings, falling, falling, shattering on the floor.
A child cried.
Without word, without thought, Master and Padawan turned towards the sound and discovered a terrified group of younglings, most of them younger than eight, some of them so small that they squirmed and squalled in the protective arms of other children. The eldest was a Padawan, her braid so short it barely reached the edge of her soft-curved jaw.
“Hello there,” said Obi-Wan, and he was so gentle, so soft, so patient, an anomaly in the sounds of murder and marching feet coming from all around them. “Are you lost?”
“We can’t go up,” said the small Padawan. “And we lost my Master.” Her breath hitched, and she met Ahsoka’s eyes, her face saying everything she didn’t dare say before the other children. Acting like the adult she was not.
“We’ll stay with you,” promised the Padawan-who-had-returned. “Come with us.”
Down, down, deeper.
Into the trap. Into the dark.
Hoping for mercy that was not coming.
Ahsoka stifled her cries of pain as she leaned against the wall, the burning injury to her ribs making each breath an effort. The small Padawan was a few feet away, in the dark, clutching two toddlers in her lap.
Ahsoka held a human baby in her arms. A boy. She couldn’t even see what color his hair and eyes were in the dark, didn’t even know his name, but she held him close to her rattling chest and rocked him as he whimpered.
The other children were pressed close, all around. A few of them cried silent tears, perhaps unable to understand why they were crying, simply overwhelmed by the miasma of death and betrayal heavy on the air, a howling phantom they were far too young to understand.
Outside the door, footsteps marched closer.
And then there was a hum, and blue light spilled beneath the frame.
“Stop,” said a familiar voice. “I will handle this.”
“Anakin—” Obi-Wan said, his voice shattered, bent and broken, less familiar than the harsh coldness of his brother’s tone. “Anakin, please. The children, Anakin, at least the children.”
“You have thrown in your lot with traitors,” said the Padawan-who-had-not-returned. “The Jedi must die so that there can be peace. I will bring peace. I am strong enough to do what you couldn’t do.”
Ahsoka closed her eyes and breathed in deep. Past the pain, past the suffering.
She knew what to do.
She and Obi-Wan had agreed.
Outside the door, that flimsy barrier between themselves and the hand of Death, she could feel Obi-Wan joining his mind with hers, helping her along, even as the sound of clashing sabers cut the silence.
Crash. Crash. Crash.
Ahsoka began to sing.
Softly, softly, a lullaby from the crèche, a song so familiar that every Jedi knew it, had been weaned and raised and rocked to sleep by its sweet rhythm.
The children settled.
She sang, and sang, and the Force seemed to sing with her, and Obi-Wan sang with her, and the younglings fell asleep.
Small heads cushioned on each other’s laps, on folded arms, against the walls. Tiny lips parted in soft breaths. Round cheeks and soft arms shifted, tiny feet kicked out and then settled.
The small Padawan crouched beside Ahsoka, blinking slowly at her in the dark.
“You’re putting them to sleep,” she accused, her young voice so uncertain. “Forever.”
Ahsoka nodded. Felt her lungs aching as her wounds began to overtake her, felt her eyes burn with anguish too exquisite for words.
“Yes,” she whispered. “Yes, to sleep.”
“They won’t wake up,” the Padawan said. Understanding was beginning to dawn in her young face, the round cheeks stiffening as she frowned.
“No, they won’t,” agreed the Padawan-who-had-returned. “They won’t see anything else. They’ll sleep, and go on sleeping.”
“I’ll stay awake with you,” said the small Padawan, voice blurred by tears.
“I won’t stop you,” said Ahsoka, reaching up with one trembling hand to trace the child’s face. “Brave little Padawan, you go your way. Follow your Master in your own manner.”
When Obi-Wan’s voice fell silent and the door erupted inwards, and the golden-eyed child of cruelty and greed stepped through, so handsome even in his selfish rage, this is what he saw:
A room full of sleeping children, innocent and quiet and unmoved by his presence.
A small girl with a saber like sunshine, a mocking contrast to his burning eyes, standing protectively between them and the devil.
A familiar young woman with burning scars down her chest, an infant pillowed in her trembling arms, and unforgiving blue eyes that met his without fear, singing, singing, still singing, undaunted.
He slaughtered them all, but he saved the singing woman for last, strangled the air from her throat, choking off her voice.
But she did not stop singing, even as her blue eyes dimmed.
And she did not sing alone.
Twenty years later, when out of the ashes of the Republic two twin children with the name of Organa but the eyes and smile of his dead wife rose up against him, Darth Vader heard, for the first time, the song that had gone on unbroken inside his broken soul... stop.
His moment of relief was shattered when Ahsoka’s voice laughed softly inside his mind, when her hope and amusement shot through him so brightly it felt like pain, when Obi-Wan’s voice said —
“Look at the children who do not sleep, Anakin. Will you cut them down, too?”
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