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Title: Forgiven
Author: Snack Size
Rating: PG
Genre: Angst. It can be read from a Slash POV or a Father/Son POV.
Disclaimer: The characters in this fic belong to George Lucas and whoever else has dibbs on Star Wars. I am merely playing with them for my own amusement and do not own them in any way.
Summary: A sort of AU spin on Anakin Skywalker's fate in which there was no lava scene and no big battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin. This fic is based solely on one question, "What if Anakin had been innocent all along?"

~*~*~*~

Obi-Wan's POV

I can hardly believe I'm standing here...staring down into the face that has caused me so much fear and pain and heartache--the expressive eyes that have haunted my dreams for a decade. It's nearly impossible to believe that I've managed to convince myself to hear this man out, to accept even the slightest possibility that he might be telling the truth. But wasn't that, even after all these years, all I ever really wanted--to be able to believe him, to know in my heart that his betrayal had all been a lie? It pains me to look into his eyes--the same bright blue eyes that once held an adventurous sort of humor, always kind, forgiving, brave...so utterly Anakin.

But now the humor has been stripped from them, along with all traces of hope or joy. They seem empty--two obsidian pools of nothingness, drawing me in, drowning me in despair, and I am nearly helpless against its pull. I blink, pulling myself back to the here and now, realizing that there are others near. I spare them a glance--, Padme looking angry and scared, gripping a leg that appears to have a nasty burn from a 'saber. Leia, sunk against the wall, fighting back frightened tears with determination. Luke...an expression so full of anger and hurt and hate, one that a nine year old boy should never know...and it is directed at the man on the floor, a man he never had the chance to know. Anakin looks so broken, kneeling on the floor before me, his hands clasped giving off the illusion that he's praying. Or perhaps begging. Though his face betrays nothing, his eyes are suddenly full of heartache and despair. I glance at Luke once more, and then back at Anakin, and suddenly, I feel my heart breaking for him.

I force myself to look into those searching, sunken eyes again, the bones of his face protruding sharply around them. He is but a ghost-- a shadow of the boy I knew so long ago. But where those eyes only moments ago seemed so empty, they are now filled with emotion-- something between anger and pleading and remorse.

*~*~*~*

Anakin's POV

I swallow as I study the look in Obi-Wan's eyes, watch it change from anger and fear and loathing to remorse and understanding.

It's me, Master, I want to say. I didn't betray you or Padme or the Jedi Order...I never could...you have to believe me... And the sudden urge to grab Obi-Wan and hold him close, to ask him how he's been all this time sweeps over me, but I remain silent, waiting for his answer. Will it be acceptance or condemnation? He studies me in mirrored silence, his face uncertain. He's paler than I ever remember him being, and slightly thinner, but otherwise, he looks just like the Obi-Wan I remember, if not a little older and more worn around the edges. I know that his ailment is most likely the cause of this phenomenon, or perhaps all the pain and anguish he must have suffered these last ten years. How hard has it been for him, facing his torment alone?

~*~*~*

Obi-Wan's POV

Our eyes are still locked, and I cannot even begin to surmise how much time has passed. Mere seconds I presume, though it feels like an eternity. I can sense the tension emanating from the children around us. Luke's eyes are still on me, and oh, what agony his expression brings. But for the moment, I burry that emotion as far as I can and focus my concentration on Anakin. If I can just get to him, make him understand...

But when I look at you, even now, with those sunk-in eyes and that ghostly face, I see forgiveness, compassion, regret, uncertainty and...hope. Suddenly, it all feels like too much. So much has been lost to us forever, so much left unsaid. And I find myself gripping your arm and hoisting you to your feet. A split second passes between our eyes, but it is enough, and I reach toward you, embracing you like a brother. Like a father. Perhaps like a long- lost lover.

Anakin's arms close around me, his body cold and shivering, but there is a warmth there that I haven't felt since he left me, and I let the small amount of strength he exudes as he squeezes back be my comfort.

I know there is a long road ahead of us--one filled with agony and hardships. But joy overcomes the previous fear and sadness. I have Anakin back, and he's innocent. He's never betrayed my trust. I truly know he'd die for me and Padme, as he would have for Luke and Leia had he ever been given the chance. We're no longer alone. We have each other.

Until the Council arrives.

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