Here's my attempt at a somewhat angsty-fluff one shot of an already overwritten 'what if Anakin didn't turn' prompt. I'm by no means a perfect writer, and there are bound to be mistakes, so I apologize. I just can't get enough of Padmé and Anakin recently.

Padmé-centric, with references to Anakin. And of course, Luke and Leia. Reviews are appreciated, and a sincere thanks to those who take the time to read what I've written.

Word Count: 3,949

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Look to the stars


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19 BBY, Tatooine

5 standard months after Empire Day

Sand.

Her Ani had been right; sand is a dreadful thing, coarse and irritating—absolutely everywhere from the soles of her shoes to the sheets in her bed. With desert storms and heatwaves so scorching, she's sure the place could be hell itself. Of course, her comparisons are drawn from her own home planet of Naboo, and there is no competition when determining which place would make a better home to her and her family.

Her family…

Padmé Amidala Skywalker looks to the children in their crib and smiles softly at them. Her finger reaches to brush the cheek of her stirring son, letting it glide gently until his chubby fingers reach for the sister beside him and pulls her close.

Luke. Leia.

A part of her heart breaks at the sight and she pulls away, whispering her love to her two angels before walking out of their room.

He should be here.

He should be able to see eyes of umber and baby blue stare up at him with the blinding love and adoration she's graced with every glorious day she's with them. He should be here to bask in the wonders and trials of parenthood, beside her, where he belongs.

But he isn't.

The thought of his absence alone makes her ache.

Padmé clenches her eyes closed and steadies herself on the wall beside her. She must be strong. For him. For them. For herself.

She must.

Tan walls and small alcoves, their homestead is vastly different than the place she'd once envisioned in her dreams. Dwelling on the 'what could have been' accomplishes nothing – it does nothing but bring forth more heartache, and she's had plenty of that to last a lifetime. The thoughts are tucked away and she instead focuses on the positives of her life.

She's alive. Her children are alive.

Yet, Ani… her poor, sweet Anankin; parsecs away from her to hunt the very man who'd nearly taken him from her completely. Hunting the man who she'd unknowingly helped to in his rise to power. Her heart clenches painfully in her chest, a dull sting of pain she's sadly becoming used to, and wraps a cloak around her shoulders before stepping outside.

The stars glitter like crystals in the sky. The night is warm, as it always is here on Tatooine, and the air dry and musty; yet, she shivers.

It's silent in its usual loneliness. So far from the nearest village, Ahsoka, under her husband's order, had made sure their location was remote. To keep them off the radar of Emperor Palpatine. The repulsion she feels in thinking that man's name is enough to fuel blistering hot anger inside her. She inhales deeply to calm her wired emotions and feels her nails digging deep into the flesh of her arms.

Look to the stars and think of me. No distance is too great for our love. Nothing will keep us separated forever. I will come back to you, angel. I promise you.

Those had been the last words he spoke to her. In the aftermath of her childbirth, his best friend by her side, his voice had sounded broken over Obi-Wan's comlink. Broken to be so far from her. Broken to be absent in the delivery of their children. And broken to be forced to leave her in the hands of someone that was not him.

And so she does. Every night, after she puts the children to sleep, Padmé walks outside and looks to the stars, imagining her Anakin out there somewhere.

The Rebellious Hero, the whispers of those opposed to the new Empire calls him. The last of an extinct Jedi. But he's just her Ani. Hero or not, she doesn't care. He's hers, and she wants him back.

Her eyes burn with unshed tears and she exhales shakily.

Somewhere out there, her husband is fighting. Fighting to come home. In the vast immensity of the galaxy, in the pageant of stars, moons and suns, he's out there.

A cry pierces the night's silence and Padmé gives one last glance to the sky before walking back into her home.

Come back to me, Anakin. I miss you.

… … …

18 BBY, Tatooine

3 standard months before Empire Day

"—rumor has it they're bein' called 'rebels'. Can you imagine such a thing? This will be no good news for the rest of us tryin' to just live our lives. When will the fights en—"

"Ms. Starkiller? …Ms. Starkiller?"

From her eavesdropping to the few young men beside her in the grocer's tent, Padmé snaps her attention back to the vendor as her alias registers and quickly gives her credits with a small apology before taking her bags of produce. Outside, she adjusts her hood and the straps to the carrier around her chest. Tuffs of blonde and chestnut curls tickle her neck as her babies press themselves snuggly toward her breasts. Her lips graze each soft head before she deposits her bags into her speeder.

Rebels.

She's heard that term before, and her heart hammers in her chest to think of a resistance to the Empire. It's a jumble of emotions that scatter too quickly to make sense of, but she knows whatever it is these 'rebels' are doing, Anakin is either in the forefront of, or not far behind.

The instinctual urge to steal the nearest ship and join a fight against the Empire is so strong, her breathing hitches; but the small cough from the lips of her daughter gravitates her back to reality. She argues with herself that keeping her children hidden and safe is part of the fight.

To the Empire, Padmé Amidala died in childbirth, along with her child.

Now she is Ami Starkiller. A widowed mother and hermit in a desert land filled with farmers and crooks.

Her fingers soothe her daughter's fussy state, and she whispers soft words of comfort before they set off for their home.

In the evening, she sits on the floor and can't help but feel a smile pull from her lips at the way her twins interact with one another. It's not a language she understands, just gurgles and coos, but they're in tune with one another as they lay on their tummies and stare at one another. From her position nearby, sewing a wookie doll together, she waits for the familiar pang of heartache at the fact her husband is missing out on this.

The baby babble, the crawling and laughing… Anakin is missing this, and she is missing him.

And when she tucks her children into their bed hours later, she walks the steps up to the desert sands and looks up.

Look to the stars and think of me.

Some nights, she plays out scenarios in her head. Of Anakin flying to where she's at. A million different scenes play out in her mind, of their reunion. Some of them she's crying, some she's laughing. And always, he's there, taking her hands and kissing her like she is the air he needs in his lungs. Like he can't breathe without her.

Maybe it's an unhealthy thought, to acknowledge the co-dependency she knows they share with one another. But she doesn't fight it, because a life without Anakin is a life she doesn't want to envision. He will come back.

The dry wind rustles the sand around her bare feet and she wraps the shawl around her shoulders a bit tighter before giving one last glance to the jeweled stars above before heading inside.

… … …

17 BBY, Tatooine

Two standard months after Emperor Day

Some days are harder than others.

Parenting alone is far more challenging than any political dispute she's been up against. Padmé gains new levels of respect for those who manage it.

Her twins are beautiful, loving and sweet beyond comprehension, but they are rambunctious and often unruly. The biting, hair pulling and tantrums… Padmé has never been broken by her work, but then again, she's never worked with Skywalker toddlers before.

She's making supper when a crash from the other room has her bolt with spiked adrenaline. Her heart stutters and her feet slap the ground with breakneck speed as she moves through the small abode to her children. She can hear her son's high pitched wail and feels a wave of terror as one thought comes to her mind: they've found us.

But when she reaches the children's bedroom, there are no Stormtroopers there to seize them, and there is no Emperor to take them away from her. No, there is only Luke spread out on the floor, his feet kicking the ground as Leia stands to the side with her hands clutching his alloy blocks.

"Mine!" he wails as his chubby fingers point to his sister.

Their vocabulary isn't extensive.

If she wasn't a mere toddler, Padmé would be sure there's a bit of smugness to Leia's face. But her heart is still racing in her chest and it takes the children a second to notice her presence before Luke's on his feet and clinging to her legs. "Mama! Mama!" he cries out, his face blotched with snot and tears.

Leia's smugness disappears at her presence, but she stands tall with her tiny feet shuffling guiltily.

Padmé rests her hand on Luke's head and shushes him with strained patience. Her eyes narrow in on her daughter as she speaks. "What is going on here?"

She walks to Leia and reaches her hand out expectantly before brown eyes shine with welled tears.

Oh, no.

Leia begins to cry then, for being caught or on the verge of reprimand, Padmé doesn't know. Her hand doesn't move as she waits for the blocks to be placed into them. "Leia," she warns with an even tone. Padmé knows they're still younglings, but they're smart enough to know the rules about sharing. But instead of being given the toys, they're thrown to the floor with a loud cry before Leia's dress whips Padmé's fingertips and she throws herself onto her bed.

Padmé sighs and takes a deep breath.

Luke is already picking up his toys but she takes them from him gently, walking him over to his sister's side. Now Leia is the one wailing as Luke is placated. And suddenly, it's all too much. The adrenaline from believing something had happened to her babies is still pumping through her veins and her hands are shaking and she's exhausted and the pressure behind her eyes has been present for days now and she's just so. kriffing. tired.

In a moment of weakness, Padmé's throat tightens and a choked sob escapes her.

Loving her children is easy.

Being a mother is hard.

She feels like a failure.

Padmé's hand snaps to her mouth and she feels disgusted that she's lost control in front of her children, but it's too late. She's been on the verge of a breakdown for weeks now, having the pent up emotions with each tantrum and fight dealt with, fester inside her. And now her cries are intermingled with her daughter's, until they aren't.

She's so disgusted with herself, so distressed, that she can only cry harder when Leia's no longer crying but circling her arms around her neck in an embrace. Luke wriggles his way in as well, and suddenly, Padmé is clutching them to her like they'll disappear the moment she lets go.

How could she ever have been upset at them?

How can they drive her so crazy, but make her fall so madly in love with them?

How can she allow herself to breakdown in front of their tender gazes?

When it's over, Padmé apologizes to them, as if they'll understand her drawn out apology, and brings them to the dining area where they're forced to eat the food she'd ran from to get to them, and burned.

Again, she's struck with the horrible feeling of being a bad mother, making her children eat burnt food after she'd just laid the waterworks on them. But she missed her last trip to the grocers, and they're short on food.

When she tucks them in, there's only hollow relief that they don't put up a fuss and fall asleep quickly.

She takes a few minutes to tidy her home up before walking outside.

This night, she doesn't complain about the sand. She falls to her knees and lets it dig into her skin with its roughness. Her head turns upward and she's soothed by the midnight velvet sky.

"I feel like a terrible mother." she confesses to no one in particular.

The words are carried away by the gentle evening breeze.

"I'm trying, but it's so hard." Her eyes flicker down and she takes a steadying breath as her fingers move to clutch the keepsake in her hand. The japor snippet.

Look to the stars and think of me.

"Anakin," his name falls from her lips and drifts away with the wind also.

Her twins are like two puzzles put to together, a single piece fit to her perfectly, but she's still incomplete. Like they are linked with each other, she is linked to her husband. But it's been two standard years and each day, she misses him more and more.

Nothing will keep us separated forever. I will come back to you, angel.

… … …

14 BBY, Tatooine

1 day after Emperor Day

It takes everything in her not to demand answers when she goes into town. Her hood stays up, and her blaster fit snuggly in its holster on her hip. It's the day after Empire Day, but the town had been anything but celebratory. Stormtroopers are everywhere, a testament to the whispers she's heard more and more of in recent years of their tighter enforcements.

The Rebel Alliance.

Whatever they've done, there's a noticeable shift in Imperial patrols.

"Mama, can we have spicecake? Oh, please Mama!"

"Ew, no! Mama, we had spicecake last year!"

Padmé looks to her twins, each holding a hand on both sides of her as they plead their cases to which desert they want for their birthday. It's a luxury not often made, due to her limited credits, but a special occasion nonetheless. She chuckles as she gathers ingredients and walks to the vendor. "What about blackberry pie? You both like that, don't you?"

It's a reluctant compromise, but they agree on the pie.

When they're in the walls of their own home, Padmé is feeling remarkably light this evening as she prepares the pie for the next day's celebration. Luke is doing his home studies at the table a few feet away, and Leia is beside her, helping with the prep. It's a small moment of domesticity, where fear isn't clouding Padmé's thoughts. Nor loneliness or anxiety. Just simple peace.

"I wish daddy were here."

The peace is shattered.

Padmé feels herself go rigid, but her daughter continues in her work and her son continues in his home studies.

"Me too." Luke agrees, his feet swinging beneath his stool.

"Mama?" Leia finally notices her frozen position and Padmé blinks herself back into movement. "What's wrong?"

Padmé finds her voice after a few seconds and her hands begin to move again, resuming her task of kneading the dough between her fingers. "Nothing, my love," she lies, though her thoughts swirl with the casual statement.

"Do you think Daddy will be back soon?" Leia speaks again, and Padmé feels torn between desperation for her to stop and eager for her to continue. It's not as though she's kept Anakin from their thoughts. She's told them how brave and wonderful their father is. How he fights every day to keep them all safe.

"He will." Luke answers for her. "He said he will try and be here for our next birthday too!"

Padmé goes stiff again until her face whips toward her son. "W-what?"

"Daddy said—"

"When did you talk to your father? How?" She asks anxiously before smacking herself mentally. It's just his imagination. A child's wishful thinking, and mental conjurations of a conversation to a father he's never met.

"He talks to me when I sleep." Luke replies easily with a smile before it wilts into a frown. "'Cept not all the time."

"Me too!" Leia adds, not to be outdone by her brother. "Daddy visits me too! And sometimes he even hugs me!"

"I get hugs too!" Luke sits up straighter.

"But I probably get more."

"You do not!"

"Yes, I do!"

"No, you don't! Mama!"

"I—I…" Padmé is gobsmacked. Could it be true? Was it possible Anakin has contacted her children through some form of Jedi mind trick? She doesn't want to feel the jealousy if that were true, but she can't help it. Under the shock and joy that he has seen his children, Padmé can't help but feel a sliver of jealousy at the discovery.

"You made Mama upset!"

"No! That was you!"

Padmé quickly turns to them both and shakes her head. "I'm not upset, darlings. I'm just… surprised." She says honestly, choosing her words carefully. "Why haven't you told me this?"

The twins share a look that doesn't get by her, and she furrows her brows. "What is it?" she implores softly, her worry heightening at the thoughts that perhaps there's an unsettling reason for their secrecy.

"It's just…" Luke fidgets in his seat until Leia intervenes.

"You get sad when you talk about daddy… We don't want you to be sad."

Oh.

Padmé bites her lip as guilt hits her. She will not cry.

"Oh." She manages weakly before feeling a tidal wave of love and affection for the two. Their empathy and tender hearts are more than she deserves. So much more than she deserves.

Her head dips to kiss Leia on the corner of her mouth, catching the juice of blackberries she's been sneaking. Luke is next, and her lips linger on the top of his unruly blonde hair. "How can I be gifted with such wonderful children?" she asks them rhetorically before a soft smile stretches over her face. "You never have to hide anything from me, okay? I'm sorry if I sound sad when we talk about daddy…. I just… miss him is all."

Luke nods beside her in understanding, his small features pinched in a sympathetic expression. "Me too."

"Me too." Leia echoes, her gaze solemn as the mood shifts to one of longing.

Padmé grabs the dough from the counter and pats a bit of the flour to Leia's nose, making the child giggle. "Well, I know he misses us too. But he'll be back one day." She tells them with a genuine smile, watching their expressions perk up. "One day soon."

"You really think so, Mama?"

Padmé nods. "I do."

That night, she tucks them to bed and tells them stories of Anakin. Stories of his heroism. Stories of their love, and his love for them.

She wants them to know him.

Even though he's not here, she wants them to know how truly and deeply he loves them. And when Leia says she can't wait to meet him for real, and Luke nods in agreement, stating he wants to be a hero like his father, Padmé can only nod as well. Because she can't wait to see Anakin again either, and picturing Luke as an older version of his father makes her stomach flutter with emotions ranging from pride, love and adoration.

When she steps out of their home to looks to the stars that evening, she smiles.

Luke wakes sometime later and finds her sitting against the curve of their home. Padmé lifts her cloak and lets him burrow close to her side.

"Look to the stars, Luke." She tells her sleepy child, watching his baby blue eyes flicker up with curiosity. Blue eyes that are identical of her husband's. Her heart swells and she pulls him closer. "When you miss daddy, just look to the stars. He's out there, thinking of us."

"Really?" Luke's eyes widen with awe and she can just picture the thoughts he's having of his father out there, saving the galaxy and thinking of them.

"Yes." She smiles at him, looking back up to the sky as her head tilts back against their home.

He falls asleep shortly after, and she picks him up gently and carries him back inside.

A shooting star streaks across the sky.

… … …

13 BBY, Tatooine

Two weeks before Empire Day

"Did you hear!? Ganthar, turn the HoloNet on, for goodness sake!"

A man bursts through the shop she's in, rushing for the mechanic working on her speeder. Her hands clutch her children's arms by reflex, her protective instincts flaring at his wild look until one hand hovers to her blaster.

Except he spares her no glance.

"What is it?" Rotef, the mechanic, looks up irritably at the man.

"The Emperor—"

Padmé can't help the gasp that leaves her.

"—he's dead! The Rebels have claimed victory over the Empire!"

Padmé doesn't know what she feels when she hears this. Every emotion seems to hit her all at once until she's numb. She can't help it, she stands and looks to the Hrakian man. "What? Are you certain?"

He flicks the device on and the news is broadcasted through the holonews.

"He's dead!" The man tells her with unrestrained joy. "The rebels, they did it! My son can come home now! My son—"

But her ears are no longer listening to the man. Instead her sole attention is focused on the words being spoken through the holo. It's true. Palpatine is dead. The Imperial Army have been seized.

An image of Anakin flashes, Obi-Wan at his side, and Padmé loses her balance, gripping the table beside her as Luke and Leia rush to her side.

He's still so handsome. Worn and weary looking, a bit aged and haggard—but still her Ani.

Padmé listens to everything coming from the feed with rapt attention until her speeder is fixed and they're headed home.

Excitement bubbles in her chest. Relief. Anxiety. Hope. Pride. Wonder. Anticipation. Yearning. So many things, so jumbled in the wake of this knowledge.

She waits outside their home the whole night until the suns rise.

And again the next night.

And on the third night, when she tucks Luke and Leia to bed, kissing them with all the love and happiness she feels, her feet carry her back outside. Her toes dig into the sand and her arms overlap as she hugs herself and looks to the stars.

They glimmer brightly and hang in the air, as if strung by invisible strings.

Nothing will keep us separated forever. I will come back to you, angel.

Look to the stars and think of me.

And for six years, she does. Every night, she stares at the night sky and thinks of him and only him. Her husband. The Rebellious Hero.

Anakin, her heart sings, calling out for him. Come back to me.

But this night, late in the hour, when the breeze picks up and her head dips to the curve of their home, she sees it. Hidden at first, like another star in the sky, it glows bright and luminescent; until it largens, coming closer and closer.

And then she hears it, the low hum of ship drawing nearer.

Padmé jumps to her feet and can barely hear it land over the sound of her own heartbeat. She takes a step forward and holds her breath.

The ramp lowers.

She breathes out.

I promise you.