Chapter 7

Jedi Temple – Several weeks later

"I hereby grant you the title of Jedi Knight," Anakin said as he cut the padawan braid from his first born. He smiled and handed Luke his braid, the pride he felt for his son filling him. "Congratulations," he said. Luke stood up and bowed to his father, and then bowed to the rest of the council. Once the formalities were over, Anakin took his son in his arms and hugged him tightly. "I'm so proud of you," he said.

Luke smiled. "Thanks Dad," he said. "I couldn't have done this without your support."

"You'll always have it, Luke," Anakin said. "As long as I live."

Outside the council chamber was Taza, with the rest of Luke's family, waiting expectantly.

"This waiting is killing me," Taza said, pacing up and down. She had decided to delay her own trials until after the baby was born, which was in a few more weeks.

Padmé watched her daughter in law, wondering how the young woman would have handled being married to a Jedi during the Clone Wars as she had been. She smiled. "Taza, relax," she said.

"I wish I could," Taza said. Just then the door opened and Luke and Anakin emerged. Luke held up his braid to show his wife and Taza squealed with delight. "You did it!" she said, walking over to hug him.

Anakin joined Padmé, and they watched as their son embrace his wife. "Another Jedi knight in the family," he said.

Padmé nodded. "And soon another," she said, for Leia would be taking her final trials soon as well. Padmé sighed. "How did they grow up so fast, Ani?" she asked.

Anakin smiled. "I have no idea," he said. "And soon we'll be grandparents," he said. "Imagine that, Padmé. Us. Grandparents."

"You know what, I'm looking forward to it," she said. "It will have all the fun and reward of being a parent without the work."

Anakin laughed. "You know you're right," he said. "Though if I know you, you'll be looking after that baby as often as you can."

Padmé just smiled in response, as Luke came over to accept her congratulations.

Later that evening

The Skywalker home was full of people, all celebrating the newly knighted Jedi Luke Skywalker. Luke's grandparents had arrived from Naboo, as well as his Aunt Sola and her family. In the past, such celebrations were frowned upon by the Jedi Council; but times were different now. The importance of family was not lost on the Jedi now, rather it was celebrated.

"Dad, Mom, can we talk to you for a minute?" Leia asked as she approached with Han in tow.

Anakin and Padmé exchanged a look, each of them knowing what was coming.

"Of course, Leia," Padmé said. "What's on your mind?"

Leia looked at Han, urging him silently to speak up.

"Well, Padmé," Han began, wiping his sweaty palms on his pants. "Anakin," he said, "I've come to ask you both if you'd let me, I mean if you'd let us…that is to say," he stopped, took a deep breath, and then proceeded. "I've asked Leia if she'll marry me," Han said. "And she said yes, and we'd both love to have your blessing."

Padmé smiled, and hugged Leia tightly. "Of course you do," she said.

"You've been like a part of our family for years now, Han," Anakin said as he shook Han's hand.

"Thanks, Anakin," he said. "Means a lot that you'd say that."

"We don't want to take away from Luke's big night," Leia said. "That's why we'd like to keep it quiet for tonight."

"That's very considerate of you," Padmé said. "But I don't think Luke would mind, Leia, really," she said.

"I know he wouldn't," Leia said, "but we'd like to wait just the same."

Anakin had mixed feeling as he watched Han and Leia walk away together, hand in hand. While he thought very highly of Han, it would be hard for him to see his daughter get married. She's not my little girl any more, he reflected.

"Ani? You okay?" Padmé asked.

"Yes, just…thinking," he said, taking her hand. "Another one married, Padmé."

"Well, not yet," she said. "I'm sure they'll wait a few years. It's not like Luke and Taza's situation, after all."

"Thank God for that," Anakin said. I'd have to rearrange Solo's face if it were…

"Come on," Padmé said. "Let's dance, Master Jedi."

Several weeks later

"Ani, wake up!"

Anakin opened one eye and looked at his wife, who was standing beside their bed. "Why?" he asked sleepily.

"Luke's taking Taza to the hospital," she told him. "The baby is coming!"

Anakin opened the other eye. "That's great," he said. "Can I go back to sleep now?"

Padmé frowned at him, her hands on her hips. "Anakin Skywalker," she said in her most annoyed senatorial voice. "Your first grandchild is about to be born! How can you sleep at a time like this?"

"Like this," Anakin said, yawning and rolling over.

Padmé stood for a moment, then went around to the other side of the bed and crawled onto it to confront her husband again.

"Ani, please," she said. "Don't you want to be there? At the hospital?"

"My being there won't make the baby come any faster," Anakin said, looking up at her with a smile.

Padmé frowned at him. "I can't believe you're just going to go back to sleep!"

Anakin's smile grew, and he pulled her towards him. "Well, I don't have to sleep," he said. "We could fool around if you prefer."

Padmé grew exasperated. "You can't be serious," she said as Anakin wrapped his arms around her.

"I never joke about sex," Anakin said.

Padmé began to see that he was teasing her, and smiled. "You are so mean to me," she said with a pout.

"I know," he said. "I'm awful."

Padmé laughed, unable to keep up the pretense any more. "Now come on," she said. "Get dressed. I can't wait to hold that baby."

Anakin laughed, and released her. "If you insist," he said.

A few hours later

"She's just beautiful," Padmé said with a smile as she held her new granddaughter, Rey, in her arms for the first time. Rey looked up at her, melting Padmé's heart as their eyes met. She kissed Rey on the tip of her nose. "Welcome to the family, little Rey," she said, tears in her eyes.

Anakin watched her, still having a hard time believing that his son was a father. He looked at Luke and Taza, who looked exhausted but thrilled to be parents. I missed the birth of my first born, he reflected sadly. I never knew that joy that they're feeling.

"Would you like to hold her, Ani?" Padmé asked.

"Yes I would," Anakin asked, taking Rey from Padmé's arms. He looked down into his granddaughter's eyes, astonished by the feeling of absolute love he felt. Hello precious one, he thought, sensing within her the same strong force signature that all seven of his children carried. Welcome to the family, Rey. "A great Jedi she'll make," he said with a smile. He kissed her on the forehead and then looked up at Luke who had walked over to him. "You did well," he said to his son. "Congratulations," he said. "She's perfect."

Luke smiled, and stroked the tuft of dark hair on top of his daughter's head. "I can't take all the credit," he said.

Anakin laughed. "You're a wise man," he said. He smiled down at Rey. "Nothing like it, son," he said. "Being a father." He looked up at Luke. "No feeling will ever make you feel as complete as being a father."

Luke smiled. "I know exactly what you mean," he said. "The bond is indescribable, it really is."

Anakin nodded. "I wasn't privileged to be there when you and Leia were born, but I felt that bond as soon as I met you," he said. "I'll never forget that moment. You were so shy, Leia was so confident."

Luke smiled. "I remember it very well," he said. "I knew you were my dad, even before I was told. I just …felt it somehow."

"Where is that baby?" Leia demanded as she and the other Skywalker children entered the room.

Anakin laughed. "Right here," he said, turning to Leia.

Leia didn't wait to be asked, and took Rey from Anakin's arms. "Oh my GOD!" she squealed. "She's so cute!"

All of Luke's siblings gathered around to coo over the baby.

"Get used to that," Padmé told Taza with a smile. "With so many uncles and aunts, Rey is going to be spoiled silly."

Taza laughed. "I'm sure," she said. "She's a lucky girl to be part of such an amazing family," she said, looking up at Padmé. "We both are."

Padmé smiled, and kissed Taza on the cheek. Anakin and Luke joined them, letting the rest of the family visit with Rey. Padmé looked up at Anakin, knowing that he was as moved as she was by this momentous occasions. He looked down at her and put his arms around her. "Just think, Angel," he said. "If you had never come looking for me, we wouldn't be here today celebrating the birth of our first grandchild."

"You're right," she said. "The galaxy would be so different. The Jedi Order would never have returned, Palpatine would still be terrorizing the galaxy."

Anakin nodded. "I would have spent my life in darkness, never knowing my beautiful children, never being able to rebuild my life with you."

Padmé smiled. "Our lives have certainly been interesting," she said. "And now, a new chapter."

Anakin nodded. "Yes, the first of many," he said.

"So how do you feel now that you're a grandfather?" she asked. "

Anakin looked over at Rey, who was being held by her maternal grandmother. "I feel like I'm going to live forever," he said.

Padmé smiled, and walked over to give Luke a hug. Anakin watched, marveling at the good fortune that had brought him to this point. Three generations of Skywalkers now, he reflected as he watched Luke talking with his mother. If only you could have lived to see this, Mom, if only you'd lived to see how lucky I am. It wasn't lost on Anakin how blessed he was. From out of abject loneliness and deepest darkness, he had been reborn the moment his wife reentered his life. And now they were grandparents. He smiled.

"Daddy? Everything okay?" Leia asked, seeing the tears in her father's eyes.

Anakin looked at her and smiled. "Yes," he said. "Everything is perfect."