Sometimes I like to imagine an au where Anakin and Obi-wan and Padme have been plotting against the mysterious Sith lord since Geonosis, and Anakin makes the decision to go deep cover and play along with Palpatine’s weird manipulation in order to get close enough to the Senate to figure out who’s calling the shots.
He figures out it’s Palpatine too late to pull out of the mission, and ends up having to do some things that will haunt him in order to maintain his cover. Like stand aside and not stop the clones executing Order 66.
Obi-wan and Padme know the truth, but no other Jedi do, nor can they be told or the operation is a bust.
Obi-wan is good at making a big theatrical production out of absolutely everything (because while you’re focused on the sassmaster Jedi, his soldiers are already past your defenses and capturing your base), so when he meets up with Anakin and Padme (who is a darn good actor in her own right) on Mustafar, he makes the duel look good.
But then Anakin wants to push it even further, make it more drastic. Obi-wan isn’t sure he can, but Anakin will force his hand if he has to. (“Look, I’ve lost the hand before. It’s fine, just chop it off, I need an excuse to not have a lightsaber”)
But then the lava surges. And Anakin is burning. Obi-wan tries to help, truly he does. But they both sense it when Padme goes into labor, and Anakin all but orders him to prioritize Padme’s safety over his. So Obi-wan walks away.
That will haunt Obi-wan forever.
The next year is a blur for Anakin and there are times when he can feel himself teetering on the edge of a precipice, times when he’s not sure he’s pretending anymore, when it gets harder and harder to reach the Light Side.
But then he’s sent to Alderaan to threaten the Queen and Viceroy and there’s a chubby bundle of ruffles and attitude clinging to Bail’s fingers and resolutely attempting to walk and he knows who it is.
He reveals his identity to Bail in private, who is astonished and heartbroken for all his friend’s husband has put himself through for a chance to stop the emperor. A chance that he ultimately missed. They begin to arrange secret codes and dead drops and things even the fledgling Rebel Alliance would have trouble deciphering.
Bail also discovers that Anakin and Breha are both of the “She’s crying! Bail, help!” school of parenting. They’re great at keeping Leia happy, but when she cries, Breha is like “is that the hungry cry or the angry cry I don’t know them apart yet!” and Anakin is like “Did I break her? It’s my fault, isn’t it. Don’t cry I’m sorry!!”
His sporadic, clandestine visits tend to leave Bail wondering which of her four parents Leia will take after the most.
Once every other month, Anakin sends encrypted messages as “Counterweight” to fellow conspirators “Linchpin”, “Leverage”, and “Fulcrum”. (Obi-wan, Padme, and Ahsoka of course). This is also how he and Padme exchange news, and record messages for the twins to watch when they’re older.
Luke grows up knowing his father is a “secret agent” with lots of scars, and that when he’s old enough he’ll get to help him fight the bad guys.
Leia grows up knowing her “Other Mama” is an “outlaw superhero”. (Bail and Anakin came up with that one together. Breha reflected “well, you’re not wrong.”)
It was Leia’s idea to become Vader’s somewhat political nemesis in order to divert suspicion from them. Breha thinks she’s just reveling in the chance to get to be like Bail and Padme while utilizing her natural Skywalker Sass.
Luke trains a little with Obi-wan, but mostly practices piloting. (Mother thought that might be what they’d need almost as much as Jedi, and Mother is never wrong). He and Owen may or may not have constructed a secret bunker under the homestead just in case Anakin ever makes it out to Tatooine.
But then word starts leaking out that the Separatists’ secret doomsday weapon wasn’t scrapped. That it had begun to be constructed during the last days of the Clone Wars, and was nearing completion.
A planet killer.
Looks like the Skywalker family reunion may be happening a little sooner than planned.