Jan 2003

Disclaimer: It all belongs to Lucasfilm, I'm making no money off this, I simply write for fun.

Author's Notes: This was an Episode 2 speculation fic and was begun before episode 2 came out. Several things are different (many of them in fact) Padmé is still the Queen, her 23rd Birthday fast approaches and Anakin and Obi-Wan are invited... only to be thrown into a world of danger and politics.

Note 2: When two people talk to each other in their minds, the 'thoughts' are in '*'.

The Ties That Bind

Chapter 1

Ice blue eyes haunted her dreams, the sadness lingering underneath the smile, the intelligence and the laughter. She rolled over, tugging the covers to her chin as she tried to banish those blue eyes to the dark recesses of her memory. After all this time, she found herself doubting his eyes were ever that intense shade of sapphire. She groaned, frustrated, and tugged her pillow over her head. Her 23rd Birthday was fast approaching and she hoped to see him again. She'd seen him briefly, about 3 years ago and been taken aback by how much he'd changed.

Underneath his master's influence he'd gained a poise, a calmness... not to mention a charming streak a mile wide. Oh, she'd only seen him for a few hours, but he was already taller than she was. He'd had yet to fill in, standing at a lanky 6'4", but his smile hadn't faded. She'd seen the look in his eyes when he smiled at her and she couldn't help but wonder if his crush on her would ever fade (and she secretly hoped it wouldn't). Not that she minded, it was endearing, even if some of the looks he'd given her made her uncomfortable.

Liar, she accused herself silently, pulling her head out from under the pillow and staring at the ceiling, his looks don't make you uncomfortable, they make you melt. She grimaced slightly before smiling. Well, it was true enough, some of his looks felt more like a physical caress, and she admitted to herself, if he'd been older she might have been inclined to see where those looks led. But he'd been 15, she 20, and she'd never encourage him. At least, she amended, not consciously.

One hand crept up to grasp the pendant resting on her collarbone, feeling the smooth, familiar lines of it under her idly caressing fingertip. She hadn't removed it since putting it on 9 years ago. Only one pair of hands would ever be able to make her take it off; the same ones that had placed it around her neck before the First Independence Day of her people.

Her mind wandered back in time, hearing a small, earnest voice ask, "Are you and Angel?"

She slid her hands behind her head. She missed him; she was woman enough to admit that to herself. She missed his smile, his laughter, his company, and most of all his easy acceptance of her as a person, not her position. "Where are you now, my little Padawan?" she asked softly. She grinned into the darkness. He wasn't so little anymore. Younger, but not little, and not lacking in intelligence. In a lot of ways, he was smarter than she was, more talented too. At least, in her own opinion. She knew of few people who could fluster her, and he could do it with a look.

She remembered his last words to her, spoken with a certainty beyond his years. He'd caught her alone in her chambers before departing, and smiled his breath taking smile of his. Even when he'd been younger, she'd been defenseless against that smile. His voice echoed in her mind, caught somewhere between the boy she remembered and the man he was becoming, "When we meet next, Angel, I'll no longer be so little, or so young. Someday I'll marry you..."

She remembered being speechless for the first time in many, many years, even more so when he'd taken her hand in his and gently kissed the back of it. He'd smiled then, that sexy, sweet half smile that stole her breath away, and disappeared. She hadn't seen him again, oh, she'd wanted too, but her heart had been racing and she'd been afraid of what she might do.

He would be here for her birthday celebration though, she thought with a smile, she'd made his Master promise and then issued a royal invitation, specifically naming them both, to the Jedi council. Master Yoda himself has sent his reply yesterday with a promise they would both be present. She wrapped her arms about her middle for a brief hug.

She curled onto her side and slid one arm under her head before grasping her pendant again. Her gaze fell on the holo-image sitting on her bedside table that had been taken 9 years previous. Her little Padawan. He'd changed, grown so much over the last few years, she wondered if she knew him anymore. If she'd ever known him in the first place. She smiled, reaching out to run a gentle finger over his innocent features in the picture. Of course she knew him, better than he knew himself sometimes.

She rolled back onto her back and resolutely closed her eyes. He'd be here in the morning and she'd need every ounce of strength to face him again. Anticipation or no, she was nervous about this first meeting and what it might bring.

Liquid warmth, hot like chocolate, melted his resolve as he stared at her through a cloudy dreamland. She lived in his dreams. His and no one else's. Her hands reached for him, soft as they grasped his. He pulled her towards him, aching to hold herm aching to kiss her, but knowing it was only a dream. She came willingly, her face upturned, her eyes fluttering closed as he watched her angelic face. His head lowered, inch by agonizing inch. He wasn't surprised when she suddenly disappeared from his arms moments before their lips were to touch, but he couldn't help the frustration or disappointment that ripped through him. He closed his eyes, bowing his head as he fought it. Starlines greeted his vision when he finally opened his eyes again and he sighed.

His body ached from anticipation, the way it had countless times in the last few years when he'd woken up from a dream about her. He shifted, trying to find a more comfortable position before settling on his back, crossing his arms behind his head. A smile curved his lips as her image danced before his eyes, an image of the last time he'd seen her. Her hair had been down, unkempt, and fell to her waist. Her traveling gown had been a simple, light blue that suited her well, hugging her body just enough to entice him, but hiding everything. Her eyes, those brown orbs that were wise beyond her year, had been the thing to hold him captive. She was an Angel, his Angel, and had been since the first time he'd seen her.

He grimaced, his master's words echoing in his head. "She can make you loose your focus, young Padawan. You must banish her from your thoughts if you wish to find you center of calm."

Oh, she made him loose focus alright. All he had to do was see something that reminded him of her, hear a laugh that sounded close to hers, and he was a wreck. He'd tried to forget her, tried and failed miserably. The harder he'd tried to throw all he had into his Jedi training, the harder her memory seemed to cling. He knew why, he'd known it nine years previous when he'd asked if she was an Angel. She had his heart, had it from that very first meeting, even if she didn't realize it yet. She would though, he vowed silently.

He'd grown up a lot since that first meeting, and more so since their last. He couldn't hold back a chuckle, didn't even try, as he remember the shocked look on her face the last time they'd talked. She'd known he was serious, he's seen it in her eyes, heard it in her thoughts. Not intentionally of course, but she was unnaturally easy for him to read. Not that he minded, but he was sure she'd have a thing or two to say about it when he told her.

He sighed, rubbing his padawan braid between his thumb and forefinger, and tell her he would, as soon as he could. Blasterbolts, he'd even help her find some way to shield her mind from him if she wanted. He'd do anything for her, anything she asked, just to see her smile at him.

She as sure in for a surprise, he found himself thinking, I warned her I wouldn't be a little boy next time she saw me.

*Far from it, my Padawan,* came the wry, unexpected thought from his master.

He grinned *My apologies, Master, I didn't mean to wake you.*

*You think too loudly and broadcast your thoughts. Shield them next time.*

*And let you get some rest old man?*

He could feel his Master's amusement through their Force bond, *Go to sleep, the sooner you do, the sooner we'll be there.*

*Yes Master* he shot back before shielding his thoughts. He stared at the starlines flying by.

His master was right, of course, if he was awake for all of this journey the time would pass slowly. He smiled a half smile, "Soon my Angel," he promised softly, "Soon I shall be by your side and this time, it's where I'll stay."

Closing his eyes he willed himself back to sleep, back into the whispers and images of her in his mind. Soon, he promised his lady, this will all be real.