|Foundations of Hope
Author: Lilac Moon PM
Very AU. Anakin Skywalker lives on a moisture farm, unhappy and unwanted. Princess Padme fights an eternal struggle against Imperial rule. Apart, they are lost and lonely. But together, a love powerful enough to save the galaxy will flourish. Anakin/PadmeRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Adventure - Anakin Skywalker & Padmé Amidala - Chapters: 70 - Words: 250,202 - Reviews: 727 - Favs: 195 - Follows: 87 - Updated: 09-08-09 - Published: 03-14-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4131632
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars
AN: Here's chapter 70! Thanks to everyone for reading this story. It's been an amazing journey. I hope you all have enjoyed reading this story as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
Foundations of Hope
Chapter 70: Foundations of Hope, Legacy of Love
One year since the fall of the Empire…
The Nabooan sun slowly rose over the horizon, bathing the planet in the glow of dawn. Theed was an elegant city full of history and ancient monuments telling of times long past. But new recent history had made an impressionable imprint on the city and in the short span of a year, the disarray the palace had fallen into under King Lago had been rectified under Queen Amidala-Skywalker. The palace grounds were lush with flowers and greenery with not a dead spot or weed in sight. A bronze statue that Ian had employed an artist to erect in his likeness in the square in front of the palace steps had been swiftly swept away upon Padme's coronation. In its place stood a gorgeous marbled jade fountain. The design upon which water spilled from was a symbol crafted by Padme herself and it quickly became a Nabooan symbol of peace. It was a crescent moon with a star resting on the base of the crest; a symbol Padme's grandmother had fashioned. Naboo had readily rallied around their new Royal family, as they enjoyed a prosperous year under their new leadership. Anakin and Padme not only earned loyalty from the people, but their staff and the Royal Guard as well. They had inspired faith in almost everyone for a bright future. As the Royal guard's nightly watch shift ended, the day began, as business at the palace began to buzz. Today would be a busier day than normal for that evening, the Queen was holding a gala to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Empire's fall. Holonet reporters were already lining up at the gates, hoping for a glimpse of the Royal family. But Anakin's highly trained Officers would hold them at bay and they would only get a glimpse if Anakin allowed them to. He took the security and safety of his precious family very seriously.
Inside the Royal suite, everything was still quiet and peaceful, as sunlight filtered through the elegant royal blue curtains in the Master bedroom and Anakin stirred. This was the usual time they awoke, for palace life was very busy. But they somehow managed to make sure they fit time in for each other, as well as time with their children. To say their lives were hectic was an understatement. Between the responsibilities of their day to day duties and little ones, there never seemed to be enough time to fit everything in. But somehow they managed and were very happy. And Naboo was happy with the job they were doing. Anakin yawned and stretched before cuddling closer to his beautiful wife. She emitted a sleepy sigh, as she turned in his arms and snuggled against his chest.
"Good morning beautiful," he said, as her eyes met his.
"It always is when I wake up in your arms," she replied, as they shared a soft kiss. He deepened the kiss and rolled her onto her back, as their lips dueled passionately. Padme giggled, as his lips traveled down her neck.
"Good morning indeed," she said playfully, as she ran her fingers through his hair. Unfortunately, the whimper of a baby interrupted their passionate romp.
"Uh oh…somebody is awake," Padme said, as she sat up.
"Well, she slept through the night finally," Anakin said, as he got up and peered down into the bassinet where their six month old daughter lay. They had the nursery all ready for her, but they liked having their youngest little one close to them, especially since she had begun teething early. Shortly after taking office, Padme had discovered that she was three months pregnant. She and Anakin had been ecstatic of course and they welcomed Isabella Shmi Skywalker into their lives six months ago.
"Hey…it's okay, tiny angel. Daddy's here," he cooed to her, as he picked her up in his strong arms. Bella, as they called her, was already Daddy's little girl and quite content in her father's arms.
"Good morning baby," Padme said, as she kissed her brown haired head. Like her siblings, Bella was a beautiful baby with her mother's rich chocolate color for air. But she had her father's gorgeous sapphire eyes. Anakin helped her shrug the strap of her nightgown off, before putting the baby to her breast to feed.
"Mommy can't wait to put you and your sister in your little dresses and your brother in his formal robes and show you off to everyone," Padme said, as Bella ate hungrily. As she mentioned the twins, they began to hear noise on the baby monitor. Luke and Leia were awake too and could now be heard blowing raspberries at each other. They also heard Artoo whistle a good morning to them and they eagerly responded.
"Atoo!" Luke called. This was followed by more whining and raspberries. Anakin shook his head.
"I'll go get our saliva drenched ankle biters and get them started on breakfast." He said, as he kissed her softly.
"Thanks sweetheart. Bella and I'll be out to join you soon," Padme replied, as she watched him leave the bedroom.
Padme smiled, as she came into the kitchen with the baby twenty minutes later. The twins' cherub faces were messy with the residue from their cereal that their father was feeding them.
"Mama!" they both called, as they spotted her.
"Good morning babies," she said, as she dropped a kiss to each of their heads. Luke accepted another bite and then Leia did as well. But she decided it would be fun to blow a raspberry with the food in her mouth, spraying her tray. Padme shook her head.
"Leia…don't do that," Padme scolded, but she only giggled.
"Well, I guess she's finished," Anakin said, as he started wiping their hand and faces, since the cereal was gone now. They fussed a little, as Anakin wiped their mouths. He got them out of their high chairs and let them down. Threepio entered and quickly stepped aside, as the twins toddled with excited squeals into the living area to play with their toys. As Anakin and Padme watched their eighteen month-olds play, they ate a quick breakfast themselves, thanks to Threepio's help. Soon, there was a knock at the door, as Beru arrived.
"Mawa!" Luke called, as the two year old joined them, as her mother greeted her Aunt and Uncle. Beru and Sola had taken to caring for the children during the day for Anakin and Padme. The young parents were glad they had so many people around them that they could trust their babies with.
"I suppose Ben is waiting for me already," Anakin assumed.
"Yes, he told me to tell you that he's going to win your spar by default if you don't get there soon," Beru replied. Anakin scoffed.
"He wishes," Anakin said, as he leaned down and kissed his wife passionately.
"I'm going to go clean up," he said, as he kissed Bella's head and went to the bedroom.
"So are you excited for tonight?" Beru asked, as she sipped at her caf.
"I am. Can you believe it has been a year?" Padme asked.
"It's flown by. But you and Anakin have made amazing accomplishments in just one year. And you've drawn the attention of the galaxy," Beru said. Padme nodded.
"I noticed the guest list tonight was quite impressive. Most worlds used to see Naboo as a backwater little planet, which they paid no mind to," Padme replied.
"Yes, well that's certainly changed with you in charge," Beru said.
"I'm just glad that I'm finally able to do the right thing for my people and at the same time, raise my children in a free world," Padme stated.
"You and me both," Beru added, as she glanced at Mara, as she played with the twins. About that time, Sola came in.
"Good morning," she called. Padme's older sister glowed with the radiance of an expectant mother, as her belly was round with child.
"Good morning," Padme greeted, as Threepio served Sola a glass of fresh shurra juice
"How are you feeling?" Padme asked, as she sipped at her own juice.
"Much better. Once I get past the initial morning sickness, it's mostly smooth sailing," Sola replied, as she made a goofy face at Bella, initiating a giggle from the baby. About that time, Padme's handmaidens arrived.
"Well, I better go shower so they can help me into my gown," Padme said, as she kissed Bella's head.
"Time to go see Aunt Sola," Padme said, as she handed Bella to her older sister. Padme kissed the twins and headed for the bedroom. She closed the door and spotted her husband coming out of the fresher in a towel. She let her eyes feat on his bare, muscled chest.
"See something you like, My Queen?" he asked.
"Oh yes…very much so," she replied, as they closed the distance between them. Their lips met with passionate fervor, as Padme's hands slid sensually along his chest, enjoying the feel of his shredded muscle beneath her fingertips.
"Angel, if you keep doing that, we'll never leave this bedroom today," he said.
"Would that be such a bad thing?" she asked coyly, as she gazed up at him with a seductive gaze.
"Well no, but there is a lot going on today. Our appearance and attendance is required. However, there is always…tonight," he replied, meeting her gaze with a sexy stare of his own that sent chills down her spine.
"Then it's a date…tonight. Clothing is optional, of course," she said sultrily, as she sauntered toward the fresher. He was tempted to follow her, but unfortunately, his duties wouldn't permit it, so he proceeded to get dressed. His official title was Prince Consort, though it was rumored that the public wanted that rule amended so they could officially make him King, because for all intents and purposes, that's what he was. He wore a uniform when he attended to his duties, which consisted of a black tunic and pants, with gold trim and sash. He wore his utility belt with his light saber at his side and black boots. As he exited the bedroom, he found four of Padme's very young handmaidens waiting for the Queen's signal to enter.
"Good morning ladies," he said, with a nod. The girls bowed to him, their cheeks burning red and each looking faint.
"Good morning, Your Highness," one squeaked with a dreamy stare, which mirrored the ones the other girls wore. Anakin resisted the urge to shake his head, as Sola and Beru snickered. They, like Padme, found it hilarious that all the handmaidens were so smitten with him. He found it annoying and didn't understand their avid interest in him.
"My wife will be out of the fresher shortly. You may go in," he told them, as Luke toddled to him, holding a toy star fighter.
"Daddy!" he called. Anakin picked him up.
"Hey buddy, what do you have there?" he asked, Luke held up the toy and began making his best ship sounds. Anakin chuckled.
"That's my boy," he said, as he handed him to Beru.
Yes, he's definitely a chip off the old block," she said. He nodded proudly.
"He'll be a natural someday, just like me. I better be going," he said.
"Yes. Mace has probably arrived with his guests by now. You've completely missed sparring with Ben," Beru reminded. He winced, but then shrugged.
"Oh well, I can always kick his tail later," he replied.
"Wave by to Daddy," Sola told Bella, as she helped her wave.
"Goodbye my little angel," he said, as he kissed her forehead. He kissed Luke and then saw Leia toddling to him
"I didn't forget you, Princess," he replied, as he kissed her too.
"You're late. Go," Beru urged.
"I'm going. See you at dinner," he called, as he left quickly.
"Daddy…" Leia called, with a pout.
"Daddy will be home before you know it, pretty girl. Why don't we get the lot of you dressed and go play in the gardens," Sola suggested, as they took the four children to the twins' bedroom to get them ready for the day.
Padme donned a jade green elaborate gown and her hair was done up in an intricate twist, with a jade green headpiece that was adorned with real Nabooan jade. This was normal everyday attire for her as Queen. No longer did the monarch of the Naboo don the traditional white face paint or scar of remembrance. That old tradition had been abolished upon her coronation. Padme stood for hope and peace, which she had brought to her people. Naboo had broken away from the past and forged ahead into the future under Padme's fair rule. It was time for new traditions and the symbol of the New Republic adorned the entryway to the parliament rotunda. She entered to participate in the session, as she always did.
The Royal Guard snapped to attention, as Anakin stepped onto the landing pad. His mother, Quinlan, and Ben awaited him, as Mace and his guests disembarked from their ship. Mace had been heavily involved in bringing the surviving Jedi back together after the Empire's fall, as had Shaak Ti as well. Early on, just after Padme's coronation, he had suggested they build the new Jedi Temple in Theed. But many surviving Jedi wanted a neutral planet. Yavin IV was chosen and construction, thanks to funding from the New Republic, had just begun. Since Anakin's place was on Naboo, he, Ben, Tahl, and Quinlan all attended Council meetings via hologram. Shaak Ti and Mace lived on Yavin and would be the Temple's Grand Masters. They had brought some of the surviving Jedi to meet him in person for the first time. He was eager to meet some and others not so much. Shaak Ti smirked at Anakin and bowed.
"Your Majesty," she greeted. Anakin rolled his eyes.
"Knock it off Master. If one more person bows to me, I'm going to scream," he replied, as they shared a hug.
"But you're the King and people respect you," Shaak Ti replied.
"Prince Consort," he corrected.
"It's only a title. Your strength of character makes you a King," Shaak Ti said. Anakin raised an eyebrow to the woman who was like a loving Aunt to him.
"Does the rest of the Council share your opinion of me?" he questioned. She smiled.
"Some. The others are blind fools and frankly a bunch of sticks in the mud," she replied, getting him to chuckle. Anakin bowed to Mace.
"Master," he greeted.
"You're looking well Anakin. Introductions are in order, but perhaps there is a better place," Mace stated. Anakin nodded.
"Yes, I've had a meeting room prepared. Follow me," he said.
"The Naboo military is looking quite impressive. I hear Bel Iblis is making the journey to Naboo for tonight's festivities, just to see your work," Mace mentioned.
"That's what General Antillies told me. I've heard he's an interesting man," Anakin replied.
"He is. He loves a good party and he's a brilliant military strategist. He's also boisterous and a bit arrogant at times. He also loves his liquor," Shaak Ti said.
"Sounds like you Ben," Anakin teased.
"Funny, hero boy. Congratulations on coming up with that one all by yourself," Ben retorted. Anakin smirked, as they went inside and led their guests to a meeting room.
Padme listened to the head chair or speaker of parliament drone on, as he brought the day's final issue to the floor for discussion. Sitting next to her was Governor Cy Bibble, as strong supporter of her rule. While most supported her reign, like Cy, she was not without opposition and the head speaker of parliament was one of her most outspoken critics. Anakin often described him, as a bitter old buzzard who was still sore that she had chosen Cy for the position of Governor, which subsequently led to his election right behind her own.
The final item on the agenda is an appeal filed by the attorneys of one Mr. Chaz Martin and his wife, Mrs. Sabe Martin in your presence Majesty. They claim that their sentence was extreme and want their case reviewed again before parliament," the speaker stated.
"Mr. Martin and his wife were charged and convicted of treason. We were already lenient with a sentence of thirty years. Such charges usually carry a life sentence or the death penalty. But due to King Lago's involvement in threatening them, we lessened their sentence," Padme responded.
"I agree with the Queen. They kidnapped her and betrayed their people. Their sentence was lenient enough," Cy added.
"Forgive me, Your Majesty, but perhaps you are too close to this issue," he suggested. Padme narrowed her gaze on him.
"I assure you, Gentlemen Speaker, that I strive to make all my decisions with a high degree of impartiality. But if you insist, my husband and I will hear their appeal a week from now, though I doubt it will altar our decision. Padme replied sternly.
"Forgive me again, Your Majesty, but the Prince has no authority to make any decisions in legislative matters, unless you were ill," the speaker retorted.
"But I do have the authority to make those decisions and I am allowed to consult whomever I wish. Now if our business is concluded for today, there is somewhere I need to be," Padme said, as she rose. The session was dismissed and Cy followed her out.
"I believe Speaker Morris had made it his life's mission to make my work more difficult," Padme mentioned, as they walked through the corridor.
"He's still bitter that he didn't get my job," Cy replied.
"Well, he's not doing himself any favors, because he's not on my good side," Padme replied.
"Well, his term is up in another year, so re-election for him isn't looking so good," Cy mentioned. Padme smiled.
"That is a good thing, though I'm sure he'll make it a point to be a pain in my neck all the way to the end. Right now, however, I have another meeting to attend," she said. He bowed to her.
"Then I will see you this evening at the gala, Your Majesty," he said, as they parted ways and Padme continued on toward the meeting room.
Anakin stood at the head of the table and his guests quieted.
"I want to thank you all for coming. My wife and I are honored to have you all here for what will be a milestone celebration for the New Republic and the New Jedi Order. I believe face to face introductions are finally in order. As you know, I'm Anakin Skywalker," Anakin said.
"His Majesty, Anakin Skywalker, Prince Consort," Tahl added proudly.
"Mother…" Anakin chided in embarrassment.
"Sorry sweetie, but you know how proud I am and how much I love to brag about you," Tahl replied.
"You should be wary of such pride, Master Skywalker," Stass Allie warned. Anakin saw his mother's eyebrow twitch in annoyance. The squabbling among them was at times worse than parliament.
"And your bitterness is so overwhelming that it can be tasted," Tahl retorted.
"Here we go," Quinlan mumbled.
"Ladies please…this behavior is hardly becoming of a group of Jedi Masters," Nejaa Halcyon reasoned.
"Master…a term used so loosely nowadays," Stass quipped.
"It would have to be used loosely for you to acquire the title," Quinlan said.
"This isn't getting us anywhere. Please…you are all my guests and we are the last surviving Jedi. What kind of example are we setting for the children?" Anakin asked.
"Ani is right. We're all here for a celebration and so far, we have been very ungracious to our host," Tahl stated, as the door opened.
"Am I interrupting?" Padme questioned. The Jedi present rose to their feet and bowed in respect.
"Of course not, Your Majesty. You're just in time for introductions," Mace said, as he bowed kindly to her. She smiled.
"It's wonderful to see you again, Master Windu," she greeted, as they were all seated again.
"This is Jedi Master Stass Allie," he introduced first. The stern looking woman bowed curtly to them.
"Your Majesty," she said to Padme, ignoring Anakin completely. Attachment was a sour subject with her and she directly blamed Tahl for the fall of the Jedi. Anakin had already had words with her in several meetings and it seemed that things would not change between them.
"This is Jedi Master Nejaa Halcyon," Mace continued. Nejaa and Anakin gladly shook hands and the other Jedi bowed graciously to Padme.
"It's an honor to finally meet you Anakin and you as well, your Majesty," Nejaa said.
"Please, call me Padme," she replied. Nejaa was a good friend of Tahl and Quinlan's. He had a wife and son, whom he had brought along, and was completely in favor of rewriting the Jedi Code. Anakin and him were fast friends and Anakin looked forward to doing a little sparring with him.
"This is Jedi Master Plo Koon," Mace stated. The Kel Dor male had remained neutral in most of their meetings, but had cited his opinion that the time for change had come. From what his father had told him, after one of his otherworldly visits he had made to Anakin during meditation, Qui-Gon had spoken highly of him, stating that he was an expert swordsman.
"It's an honor to meet you, Master Koon. My parents both have spoken highly of you," Anakin said respectfully.
"Thank you Anakin. It is good to meet you both as well. Perhaps we can spar later?" he asked. Anakin grinned.
"Yes Master," he replied. But Anakin's smile disappeared, as they came to the last Council member. In fact, his entire body tensed up and he struggled to keep his emotions in check.
"And this is Jedi Master A'Shared Hett," Mace introduced carefully. A'Shared Hett was a Tuskan Raider and Anakin had more than one nasty encounter with his kind during his childhood. Tuskan Raiders were known for terrorizing the moisture farmers and for their savagery. The fact that there was one that had Jedi abilities greatly unnerved Anakin, especially since he could sense a darkness about him. But he sobered, determined not to let this creature get to him.
"It's nice to meet you, Master Hett," Anakin said calmly.
"You as well, Anakin," he replied, as he acknowledged Padme with a bow.
"We should commence with our meeting," Stass interrupted.
"Of course. I am very glad to meet you all and I hope to see you all at the gala this evening. For now, I must attend to my duties," Padme said, as she turned to her husband. They shared a brief, soft kiss.
"I will see you soon," he told her, as she exited the room. They sat down at the table and the Council meeting commenced.
Ben waited in the living area of their personal quarters, as Beru finished getting ready for the gala. He held Mara, who was wearing a beautiful little jade green dress. Beru finally came out and Ben felt himself staring like he was seeing her for the first time.
"Wow…you look amazing," he said. She smiled shyly. She wore a light blue shimmer silk evening gown and her blonde hair was done up in an intricate twist, while two curls framed her lovely face.
"You're not looking so bad yourself, handsome," she replied, as she observed him in his most formal robes. The distance between them was squelched, as their lips met in a soft, passionate kiss. Then, together with their daughter, arm in arm, they left for the celebration.
Later that evening, Anakin waited in their living room with his mother, Quinlan, and the children, as Padme readied for the gala.
As her four handmaidens exited the bedroom, they stood to the side, as Padme exited. Anakin gazed at her in awe, as she once again took his breath away. Tahl smiled and took Bella from him, as he approached his wife. Padme wore an elegant, formal whitish silver royal gown that fell to the floor, hiding her feet, so it looked like she was floating. The bodice hugged her curves and it was strapless. Her hair was piled atop her head, secured in place by a glittering crown, while the rest of her curls cascaded down her in back. Around her neck was a beautiful, glittering necklace made of Nabooan diamonds and she wore matching earrings.
"You are, without a doubt, the most beautiful woman in the universe," he told her, as he took her hands in his own. She blushed under the splendor in his eyes, as he looked at her.
"Thanks. You're looking pretty handsome yourself," she replied, as she admired the way he looked in his formal attire as well. He offered his arm to her and she accepted, looping her arm in his. Tahl, Quinlan, and Ruwee followed with the children.
Dignitaries and rulers from all over the galaxy had flocked to Naboo to take part in the one-year anniversary celebration. Many were most intrigued by Naboo's prosperity over the past year and they wanted to make friendly relations with Naboo. Granted, many didn't have noble intentions, but fortunately, those who didn't would easily be identified by Anakin. Much of their evening so far had been spent as host and hostess, along with Bail and Breha, who had journeyed from Coruscant. Breha was currently holding Bella and doting over her, as the rest of them politely greeted guests from other worlds. Senator Irina Jamilla, a promising young politician about Padme's age, stood with them as well. Padme had chosen her to serve as Naboo's representative in the new Senate. Padme was quickly seeing why she was glad they only did this once a year. One spoiled dignitary or royal figure after another, each mostly interested in lining their own pockets, rather than doing what's best for their people, filed past them, all hoping to capture her undivided attention. Some weren't like that, for her husband and Ben stood near her, talking with an animated Bel Iblis, probably about military strategy or "shop talk" as she fondly referred to it.
"Queen Amidala! It's so lovely to finally meet you darling!" a woman said, as she barged her way toward Padme.
"Hello…I welcome you to my palace. And you are?" Padme asked.
"Queen Mother Ta'a Chume, of course. When I heard about this little event, I just had to come. Such a quaint little planet, Naboo is. I'm so used to Hapes, you know. Everything there is so much bigger," the Queen rattled on.
"Um…I'm so glad you came," Padme lied, as she noticed a small toddler beside her.
"Is that your son?" Padme asked.
"Hmm…oh yes, him. Yes, this is my little Isolder, the crown Prince of Hapes. Children are such a joy," the Queen said, as she spotted Padme's little ones.
"Oh my, how precious! These must be your little ones. What were there names, Logan and Lyla, right?" the Queen babbled.
"Um…no, this is Luke and Leia. And our youngest, Isabella," Padme corrected.
"Marvelous. Perhaps our little ones can play together. And your baby is simply gorgeous. I always wanted a little girl to put in cute little dresses. May I hold her?" Ta' a asked, but didn't wait for an answer, before plucking the baby out of Breha's arms. Bella started to whine and Padme looked a little horrified. She didn't let just anyone hold her babies.
"Oh, it's okay little Izzy," Ta'a said, as she started rocking her. But her whines turned to crying. Padme snatched her baby from the woman.
"She's not used to strangers," Padme said, as politely as possible, holding her daughter close to her chest. She kissed her head and cooed to her. Bella calmed, especially as Anakin approached, having excused himself from his conversation with Bel Iblis.
"Angel, is everything okay?" he asked, as he slipped his arm protectively around her waist.
"Oh my, Prince Anakin, it is such an honor to meet you. You're even more handsome in person than you are on the Holonet. I'm Queen Chume of Hapes," she introduced, batting her eyes, as she held up her hand, expecting it to be kissed. But Anakin reluctantly shook it, much to her disappointment.
"It's nice to meet you, Your Majesty," he lied.
"Mmm…you are as irresistible as they say. Padme, how do you keep other women away from him?" Ta'a asked forwardly.
"She doesn't have to, because she's the only woman for me," he replied. The Queen sighed overdramatically.
"Such devotion; you're almost too good to be true! Anyway, before you joined us, I was just telling your wife what beautiful children you have, especially little Izzy here," Ta'a said.
"Bella," Anakin almost snapped.
"Pardon?" the Queen asked, oblivious.
"We call her Bella," he stated sternly.
"Lovely," the Queen said, as she continued to ramble on. Padme shrugged her shoulders, as they looked at each other, as if to say she had no idea who this woman was or why she was here. The Queen seemed harmless, albeit eccentric, yet Anakin could sense that she wasn't here just to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Empire's fall. Like many others, she wanted an alliance with Naboo that would be financially beneficial. And the things she was thinking about him were just horrifyingly disgusting. And if the Queen of Hapes wasn't anyone to be concerned about, another possible threat made themselves known.
"Chancellor Organa, it is so nice to finally meet you," a Reptilian looking male said.
"Prince Xizor of the Falleen, I presume," Bail stated neutrally. Anakin noticed that Bail had seen him coming and thankfully the twins had needed a diaper change, so Breha and Sola had gone to tend to them. It was no coincidence that Bail made sure Breha had found something to go do, before the Prince approached. Anakin tightened his hold on Padme's waist and shielded her senses with the Force, as he approached.
"Oh my, Prince Xizor, how lovely to meet you," Ta'a gushed. Xizor smirked.
"A pleasure, Queen Chume," he said casually, before his eyes locked on Padme.
"Queen Amidala, I cannot begin to describe what a pleasure it is to finally meet you. You are easily one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen," Xizor said smoothly, as he kissed her hand. She quickly snatched it away.
"That's kind of you to say. This is my husband, Prince Anakin," she introduced.
"A pleasure, I'm sure," Xizor replied dismissively without taking his eyes off her. Padme resisted the urge to cover her nose. She didn't want to be rude, but this man had a terrible stench.
"I'm enjoying my visit to your planet immensely. I would love to get to know you better. Perhaps you can give the children to your husband and enjoy a drink with me," Xizor leered, releasing a dose of his pheromones. Anakin glared at him and it took every ounce of self control he had not to Force choke the scaly skinned Prince. Padme was offended by his blatant advance.
"I'm glad you're enjoying your visit, but I don't believe we'll be sharing anything. Now, if you'll excuse us, I would very much like to share a dance with my handsome husband," Padme retorted, shocking the Prince, for no woman ever turned him down. Anakin smirked smugly at the Prince. Bail gladly took Bella for them, as he led his beautiful wife to the dance floor.
"What an egotistical, self absorbed, slimy…jerk!" Padme exclaimed. Anakin chuckled.
"He has no idea how lucky he is to still be breathing right now," Anakin replied.
"He smelled horrible," Padme said. Anakin cocked his eyebrow curiously.
"Really?" he asked. She nodded.
"Didn't you smell him? It was overwhelming," she replied.
"Oh I did, but usually a Falleen male's pheromones have a different effect on human females," he said.
"What do you mean? What pheromones?" she asked.
"Well, normally, Falleen male releases his pheromones and it attracts most human females. They often successfully seduce women that way. I used the Force to shield your senses against him, but it looks like I didn't need to. They don't seem to affect you like they would a normal woman, though I shouldn't be surprised. You are an extraordinary woman and about as far from average as you can get," he replied.
"Or maybe it's just because you're the only man I could ever be attracted to," she added. He smiled, as he leaned forward and kissed her tenderly.
"I love you far too much to ever be strayed from you, especially not by some scaly green prick, who thinks he's the Force's gift to women," she said.
"We have been through a lot and it's been amazing, just like I know the rest of my life will be amazing, because I'm with you," he replied. She giggled.
"Flatterer. But seriously, did you really think that someday we'd be here?" she asked.
"Well, I don't know about here. But the moment our eyes met, I hoped that you'd be mine. I'll never forget that moment our eyes first met," he replied.
"Me either. I love you Ani…so much," she said passionately.
"I love you too Padme, my angel," he replied, as his lips descended upon hers, as they continued to sway to the soft music. When their dance finished, they joined their family and the people they loved, as the gala slowly wound down for the evening. Getting here had been no easy task, but their love had made it all possible. There would be challenges in the future, but they didn't worry about anything that would come, for their love could conquer anything that was thrown at it. They had built a lifelong foundation of strong, amazing, and passionate love that would still be talked about long after they were gone and all it had taken was a tiny sliver of hope in their hearts.
Well, there you have it everyone. Foundations of Hope has finally come to a close. I haven't decided whether or not there will be a sequel or not yet, but I'm not ruling it out. If I do decide to do one, it will be a few months before I start on it. For now, I will be focusing on the Forever Destined Vignette series and Under the Setting Sun, which I hope to begin getting more frequent updates on. I hope everyone has enjoyed this story as much as I have. Please leave a final review and let me know what you think! Thanks again to all that have reviewed.