Soothing Presence

"...your presence is soothing..."

Anakin Skywalker, Attack of the Clones.

author's note: When I wrote this, I had intended for it to have taken place in the refugee ship en route from Coruscant to Naboo. Not soon afterwards, I realized that the secluded setting of the story did not fit in with the environment of a refugee transport. However by then, the story had already been written and only drastic modifications could have corrected that. So although this fic is a missing moment that is supposed to take place between Coruscant and Naboo, it is technically an AU.


I, Aching

The ship cut its own path through hyperspace. The astromech droid piloting it had placed the ship's motors on autopilot. The droid routinely performed monitoring: on the ship's navigation and on the two life sources that lay quiet and motionless in distinct portions of the ship.

The more prominent life source was human, large and male; and was visually identifiable as Anakin Skywalker of the human social class of Jedi. Right now, the Jedi was lying motionless in his sleeping chamber. His body was at once relaxed and aware in the pseudo-somnolence that his mind had achieved through ten years of training, discipline and steady recourse to the Living Force.

The less prominent life source was located in the ship's only actual sleeping chamber, positioned at the interior and near the heating reactors. Human, petite and female. Visually identifiable as Padmé Naberrie, Senator Amidala of Naboo and the R-2 Unit's possessor for the past decade.

Padmé lay on her side and watched the star lines through the porthole. For once, her mind was not thinking of everything and anything at once. There were no intricate plots to deploy or to unravel, no grand scheme to execute. Her mind was silent within her and she was merely feeling.

Aching.

The luxury of sleeping alone was still alien to her. As children of the mountain village, she, Sola, and any variable number of cousins had slept in the big bed next to the window overlooking the ack trail. In the Academy, her younger roommate, afraid of night-monsters, would crawl into her bunk with her. As Queen Amidala, true to the tradition of the Nubian Monarchy, she and her handmaidens slept in one room and more often than not on the same bed. A routine had been established to lead to the most effective use of nighttimes. The sleeping Queen's body would roll from side to side on the large bed while Saché or Eirtaé completed the complicated whorls in her braids.

Now she lay in pain, feeling and aching and thinking at how much comfort it would have been to her if she had simply stepped away from the open door and allowed Anakin to follow her into her room, allowed him to follow her into her bed, allowed him to overwhelm her with his consuming presence...

A few moments ago, the ship had shaken with a violent tremor as it passed through an asteroid field that even R-2 had had problems navigating through. Padmé had been jerked abruptly awake and in one swift motion, she had grabbed the blaster from under her pillow and slid from her bed to the floor. There, she crouched against the plasti-steel frame and watched the lights under the door, heart pounding and breath hitched in her throat.

She had remained there until she heard the soft thud of footsteps and the softer sound of the Jedi's voice asking her to go to sleep.

She jumped up and ran to the door.

"What was it? What happened?" She asked, whispering her fright.

Anakin Skywalker stared down at her with protectiveness shining through his blue eyes.

"Nothing. We just passed through an asteroid field, my lady. I've stabilized the ship. Please go back to sleep."

His blue eyes had stared into Padmé's as if he wanted to go back with her. She had paused, frozen between her fright and a deeper fear that she refused to put a name to.

"Goodnight, Anakin." The words seemed to be forced from between Padmé's lips. Her body made no move to go behind her door and her eyes were drinking him in. He, too, must have been just woken from sleep. He was more dishevelled than she had ever seen, his thin inner tunic thrown haphazardly over his Jedi pants, the faint yet strong definition of muscle beneath tan, smooth skin visible. Her lungs drew in air sharply. She had not even realized that she had been holding her breath.

Anakin watched her scrutiny of him; he scrutinized her in turn, his blue eyes seeming to want to devour her. Her grip on the door tightened as the strange fright intensified, causing an ache somewhere in her stomach.

"Good night, my lady." The words sounded literally torn from him. He bent his head in formal courtesy, and never once did he take his eyes off her.

Padmé never knew where she had got the strength to shut the door against him, to rest her weight against the wooden frame and then wait for a period of time that had seemed endless until she heard the sound of retreating footsteps. Without remembering how, she had crawled between the covers of her bed sheets and now, she lay on her side, watching the star lines through the port window.

to be concluded in Pt 2, Soothing...