"Happy Birthday Luke and Leia, happy birthday to you!"
"I get to wish first," Leia announced. "You wished first last year."
"Did not!" Luke protested. "You did! You always do!"
"I did not! Mom, Luke is being bossy again!"
Padmé exchanged a look with Anakin who smiled.
"Somehow this argument sounds vaguely familiar," Padmé said. "And what do I tell you every year?"
"Make a wish at the same time," the twins responded in unison.
"Then do so!" Padmé replied.
"Just think, Padmé," Dormé told her. "You'll have to go through this every birthday from now on."
Padmé laughed. "Oh boy," she said. She looked at her younger daughter who was in Dormé's arms. "You and your brother aren't going to squabble on your birthday, are you Shmi?"
Shmi just waved her little fists in the air, giving her mother a smile in response.
"Of course she will," Obi-Wan said, looking at the baby boy in Anakin's arms. "She's a Skywalker, isn't she?"
"Hey, now what is that supposed to mean?" Anakin asked.
Obi-Wan smiled. "Only that you live to be...contrary," he replied.
Anakin laughed. "Well, not anymore. I have to set a good example now you know, being a father. And you'll have to do the same in a few months time," he added.
Obi-Wan nodded, looking at his wife who was expecting their first child in another five months. "Yes, I suppose so," he replied wistfully. "No more carousing, no more gambling," he joked, loving the expression on Dormé's face.
"That's right Obi-Wan," Anakin said, playing along with the joke. "No more exotic dancers, no more drinking…"
"You two are just awful," Jobal interjected, shaking her head as she placed a piece of birthday cake on the table in front of each of them. "And here I thought the Jedi were supposed to be so serious and contemplative."
"We're serious, sometimes," Anakin told her with a smile. "Aren't we Obi-Wan?"
"Absolutely," he concurred.
Anakin frowned and looked down at his son. "Well Obi-Wan, what do you say to some diaper changing practice?" he said.
Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows. "Oh…well, I hardly think that is necessary," he said.
"Oh yes it is," Dormé said. "Go and learn, Master Jedi."
"You heard the lady," Anakin said, standing up with young Qui-Gon in his arms. "Come on."
Obi-Wan stood up and followed Anakin out of the room and to the nursery.
"It's easy," Anakin said, demonstrating with remarkable ease how to change Qui-Gon's diaper. Having changed more than a few in the past three months, he was now quite adept at it.
Obi-Wan watched Anakin closely. "You make it look so easy," he muttered.
"Well it is easy," Anakin replied. "It took me a few tries to get it right, but once I got the hang of it, I could do it in my sleep. I think I probably have, what with the two of them up feeding every three hours."
"I can't imagine," Obi-Wan replied. "But Dormé isn't carrying twins, so we won't have quite the same challenges on our hands."
"True," Anakin said, picking up his son once again. "Have you told her the gender?"
"No, she doesn't want to know," he replied. "She wants it to be a surprise," he added with a smile.
Anakin smiled. "Think you can keep it secret for another five months?"
"I think so," he said. "Can you?" he added with a smile.
Anakin laughed. "I won't tell a living soul that you are having a son," he said. "Jedi's honor."
"Yes, well what about Padmé?" Obi-Wan asked.
"Well…uh…she already knows," Anakin admitted sheepishly.
Obi-Wan laughed. "I knew it," he said.
The two friends turned to leave the nursery and were surprised to see Qui-Gon Jinn standing before them.
"Qui-Gon!" Anakin said with a smile. "It's good to see you."
Qui-Gon smiled. "I've come just in time to see my young namesake awake I see," he said, looking at the baby in Anakin's arms. "Last time he was asleep as I recall."
Anakin looked down at his infant son. "Yes, he was," he replied. "He's three months old now, Qui-Gon," he said. "He's awake more during the day now, and very curious."
"A common trait among your children, I've noted," Obi-Wan remarked.
Anakin nodded. "Yes, I think they come by that honestly," he said with a smile.
"No doubt of that," Qui-Gon agreed. He looked down into his namesake's face. The baby, who was able to see the Jedi even in the ethereal form he now assumed, looked back at him. "He is already strong with the Force, Anakin," Qui-Gon decided, smiling at the infant. "He will be a great Jedi one day, just like his father."
Anakin looked up at Qui-Gon and smiled. "Just like his namesake," he added.
Qui-Gon smiled. "I am very proud of you, Anakin," he said. "You have fulfilled the prophecy, and now you are rebuilding the Order."
"Almost single handedly," Obi-Wan added with a grin.
Qui-Gon chuckled. "Well, the Jedi population needs new blood," he said. "Anakin is doing is part to see that it gets it."
"And so are you, Obi-Wan," Anakin reminded him. "You just need to talk Dormé into having three more and we'll be even."
Obi-Wan laughed. "We'll see about that," he said.
"I will let you return to your families," Qui-Gon said. "A sixth birthday is a special one, and you don't want to miss any of it, I'm sure."
"Will you be in attendance at the Temple next week to see the new younglings Yoda has discovered?" Obi-Wan asked.
"Yes, I'll be there," Qui-Gon replied. "And I look forward to seeing your other three children soon as well," he told Anakin.
"Until then, Qui-Gon," Anakin said as the image of Qui-Gon Jinn faded away.
Anakin looked down at his son. "Shall we get back to the party?" he asked. Young Qui-Gon smiled at his father's words.
"I think so too," Anakin said with a smile. He looked up at Obi-Wan. "Coming?"
Obi-Wan nodded. "Absolutely," he said. "Lead the way."
"I can't believe Luke and Leia are six years old," Padmé said as she climbed into bed with Anakin later that night.
Anakin pulled her into his arms. "I know," he said. "The past year has gone by so fast."
"But what an eventful year it has been," she said. "You know it was just the day after their fifth birthday that I learned the truth about you, that you were still alive."
Anakin nodded. "Yes, that's right. I shall never forget that day when you turned up on my ship with the twins. You were so brave to do that, Padmé. You had no idea what I was going to do."
"I knew that you would never harm your children," she told him. "And I knew that what had happened at Mustafar had been a terrible mistake, and that you would never harm me."
"You placed so much on the chance that there was still a human heart inside of me," Anakin said in amazement. "I'm still in awe of your belief in me."
Padmé smiled. "When you love someone as much as I love you, you never stop believing in them, even when everyone else does."
Anakin took her face in his hands. "I am the luckiest man in the galaxy," he said softly.
Padmé smiled at him. "I'm glad you think so," she said as he pulled her close to kiss her.