Padme Amidala's Star Skiff
En Route to Mustafar
1 day after the formation of the Galactic Empire
Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Master, closed his eyes and tried to relax. On the one hand, his hidden alcove under a bed in a cabin on Padme's ship was quite comfortable. He had liberated a spare pillow and blanket from the small closet, and the cleaning droids on board had kept the underside of the bed surprisingly clean.
On the other hand, he really really really needed to use the refresher. Like, two hours ago. But Padme was still awake and he didn't dare use the facilities until she was asleep. He was keeping a tenuous Force tendril on her mind and while he knew she was in bed, and drowsy, she wasn't asleep yet.
He did not dare reveal his presence on board to Padme Naberrie. He was still vaguely surprised that she had engaged in an intimate relationship with Anakin Skywalker, one intimate enough to result in a child. Yes, of course Anakin had broken the Code and fallen in love, but Padme? The woman's middle name should have been 'responsibility'. This was a forbidden relationship and Padme, while strong willed, brave, and bold, had usually walked the path of respectability. The whole thing was incredible.
He wasn't sure what he would do when he got to wherever they were going, where Anakin, now a Dark Side acolyte, was no doubt carrying out some nefarious purpose for his Sith Master. But certainly Padme needed his help. Obi-Wan knew that the woman loved Anakin, but Sith apprentices were no longer capable of love.
No, he needed to be there, to intervene, to ... he didn't know what. He didn't want to kill Anakin but he would. He would if he had to.
Perhaps he wouldn't have to. Maybe his bladder would burst and he would die of embarrassment before the ship arrived at its destination.
Padme Amidala Naberrie Skywalker shifted onto her side and closed her eyes for the 18th time in the last thirty minutes. She wanted to sleep. She needed to sleep. But her anxiety over Anakin, and the nearly ceaseless activity of her unborn child, made sleeping difficult.
Not to mention that her bladder was complaining almost continually. What was the child doing in their, deesco dancing? Or perhaps her son was a prenatal Kel tag enthusiast.
Her son ...
Her eyes filled with tears even as she gently patted her enormous belly. How she loved this little soul and in some ways, she could hardly wait for his birth.
"But don't even think about coming yet, little man," she whispered aloud. "You have 6 more weeks in there. I just need to find your father and we'll straighten things out. And then you can prove I'm right that you are a boy."
Anakin insisted the child was a girl. Insisted. As if a mother wouldn't know!
Once again, tears formed in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks, but these were tears of terror and distress, not hormonal joy. Obi-Wan had told her that Anakin had turned to the Dark Side, that he had killed the Jedi younglings only yesterday, a few hours after Palpatine overthrew the Republic and declared himself Emperor.
It couldn't be true. It could not! Yes, she knew Anakin had been terribly frustrated with the war in general and his role with the Jedi in particular. She knew he was extremely worried about her and the baby, and he'd been having bad dreams again. But he would not, could not have done such a terrible thing.
But Kenobi seemed so sure!
And yet, Ahsoka Tano had come close to being convicted of murder, and only Anakin's committed probing into the bombing of the Jedi Temple had resulted in the 11th hour discovery that Barriss Offee was the true culprit.
Surely it was the same here. Anakin was innocent of such heinous crimes as killing children, he must be! She would find him on Mustafar and they would flee to Naboo where she would give birth and they would raise their baby together. Given Palpatine's recent actions, it was unlikely that the Senate would exist in any useful form for much longer.
Padme bit her lip. If only she and Anakin had revealed the truth of their marriage years ago. What did it matter if they had been removed from their positions as senator and Jedi? Their roles had seemed so vitally important, but she knew that Anakin had been pushed to the breaking point.
But not to the point that he would murder the younglings whom he had cared for and befriended. Surely not that.
Her belly rippled again as the child within stirred. This time it was a pleasant movement, and Padme forced herself to think of the baby, and how she would see his sweet face in less than two months.
She drifted toward sleep.
"Welcome, Lord Vader," a Separatist leader said with a slight bow of his head.
Darth Vader, previously Anakin Skywalker, gestured to one door and then to another, causing them both to close. He grasped his lightsaber and prepared to destroy these scum, to obey his master.
To save Padme.
Darkness. Warmth. Comfort.
Thump thump thump thump thump thump thump.
A sudden twitch from the Other and the infant shifted away in discomfort.
He loved the Other, but the Other sometimes impinged on his space.
It was crowded in here.
Tired. Very, very, very tired ...
Something ... something wrong.
It was time.
The unborn child reached out shakily to his precious Other and joined minds. Together, they connected to the life giving power of the Light Side of the Force.
Obi-Wan Kenobi closed his eyes in exquisite relief as he exited the refresher. Padme had finally dozed off and he'd been able to use the facilities.
Refreshers were a true blessing.
He smiled in satisfaction and dropped to the floor, preparing to return to his hiding place under the bed.
Suddenly, a bolt of terror ripped through the Force from Padme.
"No! No!" Padme cried out aloud, though she was alone in the ship with the C-3PO. "No!"
It was six weeks too early. Six weeks! The baby could not be born now, but ...
She gazed down in horror at her soaked sheets. She had surreptitiously studied enough about pregnancy to know that the amniotic sac which had been safely surrounding her child for more than 7 months had broken.
She took a deep breath and forced herself to relax. It wasn't ideal. It was messy, and there was (she seemed to remember) a danger of infection. But so long as she didn't go into labor, everything would be all right. Though how was she supposed to talk to Anakin on Mustafar dripping all over?
She took another deep breath, and another, and another.
And then clenched her teeth as her uterus tightened and a painful contraction tore through her body.
Darth Vader stood, his hood pulled up over his head, his eyes blazing yellow, and stared down into the lava flows outside the command center where dozens of Separatists now lay dead and dismembered.
He felt, to his vague surprise, tears tracking down his cheeks. Why?
He had enjoyed killing the Separatists, relished in the vibrant power of the Dark Side.
But ... but ...
His old life was truly gone now. And what would Padme say? She had suffered and served for the Republic. Unlike so many politicians, she was truly noble, and she would not understand or agree with his decision to pledge allegiance to Darth Sidious.
He narrowed his eyes and impatiently brushed aside the tears with the Force.
It was all worth it to save Padme. He would explain why he had turned to the Dark Side, to save her. She would live, and the child with her, and they would be a family. He had done the right thing.
30 minutes later
Padme muffled another scream as the pain of the contraction crescendoed to its full height before receding again.
"Mistress Padme, Mistress Padme," C-3PO said in a particularly agitated tone, "that contraction was only 4 minutes and 32 seconds from the previous one. I'm afraid the rate and pain level of the contractions are increasing!"
"Yes, I know, Threepio," Padme replied, gasping and wiping her face with a wet towel that he had provided. She wanted to panic, but she wouldn't. Realistically though, she was in trouble, alone on a ship with only a protocol droid to assist. Threepio was a good droid, but as he had said only minutes ago, he was an interpreter, and not very good at delivering babies.
She was due to arrive at Mustafar in 30 minutes but there was no doubt that this was labor, and it was progressing far more rapidly than expected. According to the holobook: What to Expect When You're Expecting (the 300 species edition), the average female human had an average first labor of roughly eight hours.
Padme didn't think she had that long.
Another contraction, harder, ripped through her and she squealed. This was definitely very, very painful ...
The door slid open, and Obi-Wan Kenobi sidled nervously into the room.
Padme couldn't talk until the contraction subsided and then she couldn't talk because she was totally amazed. What was Obi-Wan doing here? The Jedi were strange and powerful and mysterious (she even found Anakin quite bizarre at times) but surely they couldn't teleport.
"Obi-Wan, what are you doing here?" she finally managed, straightening up and gazing at him in bewilderment.
"I, er, I ... stowed away on your ship," the man replied in a hesitant voice.
It took thirty precious seconds for her to go from incredulous to shocked to horrified to angry.
"You WHAT?" she snarled at him, turning toward him to poke his chest with one elegant finger. "How dare you?"
The Jedi Master managed to combine determination with reluctant guilt in his next statement.
"I'm sorry, Padme. Anakin has to be stopped. He has turned to the Dark Side. He killed the younglings in the Temple."
"How do you know that?" she hissed through her fury. Kenobi had stowed away in her ship. There were insufficient words to express the full level of anger and outrage and sense of betrayal, though she would do her best to express her disapproval in a very thorough way.
"We saw security recordings of the slaughter in the Temple, Padme. There is no doubt," Kenobi said softly, his hazel eyes dark with sorrow.
Padme sucked in a horrified breath, then shook her head, "Just like there was 'no doubt' that Ahsoka was guilty? "
The Jedi winced openly but protested, "That was different, Padme. Master Yoda and I are absolutely certain that Anakin has turned to the Dark. He is now a Sith. Padme, I know you love him, or rather the person he used to be. He is no longer the Anakin we both loved, nor does he love you anymore. You can't go to him and expect him to ..."
She cried out as the next contraction hit, and when she glared at Kenobi through the pain, the man was pale with distress.
"Padme! What's wrong?"
"What's wrong?" she gritted out. "What do you think is wrong? I'm in labor!"
Kenobi's eyes grew so wide she wondered, semi-hysterically, if they would pop right out of his head.
"You're in labor?" he gasped. "Now? I had no idea the child was due so soon! What were you thinking to rush here when you were due to give birth?"
She gasped and ran her shaking hands over her sweating face, "The baby is 6 weeks early, Obi-Wan. But at this point I know labor can't be stopped. You're going to have to help me deliver this baby and then we'll talk about your outrageous decision to stow away on my ship. You may think you know a lot but I know Anakin, and I know that whatever else is true, he loves me and our child."
For the first time in many years, Obi-Wan Kenobi felt a strong inclination to faint from panic.
"Help deliver a baby? Me?!"
Darth Vader, the newly knighted Sith Lord, strode out of the fortress room where so many Separatists lay in cauterized heaps of limbs and torsos and heads. He had set multiple explosives to go off once he left the atmosphere of Mustafar; Palpatine had not ordered him to cover up his destruction of the Separatist leadership, but Vader had the vague idea it was for the best. There might be records here showing that Palpatine and the Separatists had previously been working together, and now was a tenuous time in galactic history with the Republic fallen and the Empire established.
For the first time since he turned to the Dark, he pondered Count Dooku. Dooku was a Sith Lord, so he was working for Palpatine up until the moment of his death. The entire scene on the Invisible Hand had obviously been orchestrated by Darth Sidious himself, and Palpatine had enticed Anakin Skywalker to murder Dooku in cold blood. Did that mean that Palpatine might discard Vader some day? Surely not. He was the Chosen One. He was young and mostly whole and powerful beyond belief. In any case, all this was for Padme. He had to save Padme and only Palpatine's knowledge of the Dark Side could save her from death in childbirth.
Deep in thought, he strode out toward his ship, only to stop in surprise and alarm as Padme's Star Skiff settled onto the ground near his own ship. What was Padme doing here?
Then he started in shock as Obi-Wan Kenobi rushed down the ramp and screamed in a surprisingly high pitched tone, "Anakin! Anakin! Help! Help!"
Author Note: I have many children, and guessed the gender wrong more than right by a significant margin. My instincts are lousy! I guess Padme and Anakin had it easy since they had one of each. They could hardly be wrong!