Author: Jedi Keladry
Setting: Three to six years after AotC – this is how I might bridge the gap between Episodes II and IV. There's a little Episode IV epilogue. A few Episode III spoilers are present, but they're the no-brainers. I've decided to fill in the timeline's gaps myself, rather than decide which of the swirling rumors are true and which ones aren't. (I guess that makes this AU, and it certainly will be AU after May of 2005.)
Category: Drama, eventually Obidala Romance (but not for a looooong time...)
Summary: Obi-Wan Kenobi appears on Naboo, bearing news of Anakin's apparent death. He discovers that Padmé is pregnant, and is assigned by the Jedi Council to protect her for the time being.
Status: Work in progress
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters belong to the Great Flannel Man and Lucasfilm, except for the healer Alanna Olau. She is loosely modeled on Tamora Pierce's shero, Alanna of Trebond.
Chapter One - Reports and Rumination
The call came through the comm system in her office; she had a visitor. Senator Padmé Amidala sighed. She had been working all day in the Palace Complex on Naboo, and she was glad of a distraction. Padmé stood and arched her lower back as the afternoon sunlight glowed gold on her shoulders and hair. She straightened, savoring the warmth, lost in thought.
She wished it would be Anakin. Even though it had been three years since their wedding, the need for secrecy – and therefore, discretion – remained. Padmé had only seen him once, almost three months ago, since her parents' funeral. Even though she wondered how passionate their relationship would still be if they didn't see each other so infrequently, Padmé wanted to hold her beloved husband now more than ever. She wanted to feel his arms around her, hear his voice call her his Treasure, as he always did. There was something she had to tell him…
The signal beeped again. Oops. "Enter." A figure in a hooded robe entered, ushered in by Dormé, one of her handmaidens.
Padmé's heart leaped for a moment, then she took a deep breath when she saw that the visitor was not quite tall enough to be her husband. "Master Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi to see you, M'Lady." The cloaked figure bowed slightly, dipping into the sunlight, then back into shadow.
"Thank you, Dormé." Padmé smiled, though cautiously. She had not seen Anakin's former knight-master since the trials a year ago, when Ani had earned the rank of Jedi Knight. Only when the door slid shut on Dormé's slender silhouette did Padmé say, "Welcome, Master Kenobi. It's been far too long." Obi-Wan still said nothing. What's wrong? Padmé walked around her desk, coming to stand face-to-face with her husband's knight-master.
With a trembling hand, he pulled the hood from his head. Obi-Wan's red-gold hair was mussed, and there were shadows under his eyes. No, it was more than that, Padmé realized – He looks so sad. Padmé's brow creased in concern. "Master Kenobi, please sit down, you're not well." She took his elbow and led him to a chair, then had to push on his shoulder to get him to sit. The senator crouched in front of him, so they were eye-to-eye.
For the first time, Kenobi's gaze met hers. He's been crying? Her stomach, none too stable as it was, seemed to flop over. When he did speak, his voice trembled like a moth that had just emerged from its cocoon. The Jedi's eyes were a glassy grey color. "M'Lady, I'm so sorry. Anakin –"
He got no further than that, because for the first time in many years, Senator Amidala was clumsy. At the mention of her husband's name her knees wobbled, then gave out. She thumped to the floor in a heap of senatorial robes. Padmé's eyes began to fill with tears as she gasped, "What –"
At her distress, the Jedi got to his feet and helped her to his chair. He pulled another closer and sat, facing her. Obi-Wan's eyes were on the floor as he began to speak. "M'Lady, I came as soon as I could. He hasn't been himself lately." His eyes locked onto hers, pleading. "The council found out about your marriage, Senator."
Padmé's breath came easier. Was this about Anakin's status as a Jedi? Yes, their secret marriage was in defiance of the traditions of the Jedi, but if that was it, Obi-Wan was overreacting.
"You probably knew, M'Lady, that several of us were on Alderaan, working with Senator Organa. Master Windu summoned Anakin to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant to face the council, but he didn't go. He knew he had been found out. M'Lady, he became enraged," Obi-Wan's voice trailed off. The muscles in his neck and jaw clenched and relaxed as he fought to keep his self-control.
Enraged? Padmé began to shake her head, then stopped. Anakin had often been angry, whether it was directed at his former master, the council, or the Tusken Raiders that had killed his mother. It was always something.
Her guest continued, saying, "He lashed out, he was furious, I've never seen him so upset. I didn't know about the two of you, M'Lady. Master Windu didn't tell me how the council learned of your marriage, but Anakin knew he was facing expulsion from the Jedi Order. I had been sent to the Meitrus Ridge on Alderaan, to coordinate a rescue mission at one of the volcanoes. Anakin just appeared, saying I'd betrayed him, that I'd betrayed you, that I was…my Lady, he attacked me." Tears streamed into Obi-Wan's beard as his eyes begged for understanding. "I had to defend myself. He fought me, he was so angry. He would have killed me, but then he fell…through…" he wept, "in a cave where I was searching for survivors of the crash, he fell, slipped into –" The Jedi's voice broke again. "M'Lady, I'm not a healer. I couldn't reach far enough without falling in. The lava was too hot. I went to get help, but when I came back, he had disappeared." The sorrow took hold of Obi-Wan's features once more, but an identical expression on Padmé's face told him that this was no time to lose control.
Obi-Wan unhooked something from his belt. "This was all that was left of him, Senator." Padmé, through her tears, reached her hand out to receive the chrome handle of her husband's lightsaber, the blue-bladed one he had put together last year.
When she could speak, it was little more than a whisper. "Please go." Her beautiful face was contorted – a mask of calm, barely concealing the horror his news had wrought.
"M'Lady, if there is any –" he began, but she interrupted.
"Call Dormé. Tell her I will retire." The senator bowed her head until he had left. She clenched her small hand around the silver weapon as her composure broke and she began to cry.
For several days and nights, Senator Amidala remained in seclusion. She had recently announced her intention to end her term as a senator in the Galactic Republic. Courtiers and palace servants speculated that she was taking a sabbatical, but if that was the case, why not wait until her replacement was appointed and ready to take office? All the senator had told anyone, including Queen Jamilla, is that she was ill and needed to rest. But then why refuse the services of a healer?
At the request of the queen, Obi-Wan had also stayed in the palace. "Whatever caused her illness arrived when you did, Master Jedi. It also seems to have affected you. Stay here and rest, and watch over her." Kenobi had bowed his obedience, though his presence was probably the last thing that Senator Amidala wanted. He really should have gone on to Coruscant to report to the Council personally, but a request from a planetary sovereign was not to be denied, even one made out of compassion rather than necessity. Obi-Wan sent a report to Master Yoda and the Council and promised to return home to the Temple soon, then retired into meditation. He was grateful for the uninterrupted time that he used to mourn for the young man who had been so dear to him.
Two days after his arrival, while in a Force meditation, Obi-Wan saw something he did not understand. He stood in front of Senator Amidala, as though guarding her. But from what? They were surrounded by darkness.
Anakin's body was suddenly illuminated with red light; his eyes opened and he stood. Ghostly hands covered Obi-Wan's erstwhile student in a white cloak, but when Anakin stretched forth his hand toward Kenobi, it was as black as death. Anakin reached into his former master's chest and twisted, then tossed him aside like a doll. Obi-Wan was paralyzed by the pain; all he could do was watch.
Anakin beckoned. Padmé looked terrified as she was brought to stand before her husband. He cupped her face in one hand and kissed her, though she struggled. Anakin's other hand circled her throat. His wife collapsed.
Anakin let her fall, focusing on two tiny points of light that rested in his hand. Defiant but fragile, they shone through his black fingers. In agony, Obi-Wan reached for his former apprentice, wanting to rescue whatever Anakin had taken from Padmé. Kenobi's former Padawan laughed as he clenched his hand and extinguished the two tiny lights. Darkness crept back, Obi-Wan was choking. A cackling laugh echoed, like brittle branches breaking under the weight of fresh snow.
Where had he heard that voice before?
Obi-Wan opened his eyes. He paced in his suite for a full day, eyebrows knitted, thinking about the vision. He could understand this vision of Anakin wanting to destroy him, whatever his Padawan had represented. But Anakin was dead. What did the rest of the vision mean?
Two tendays after Obi-Wan's arrival, he was requested by Queen Jamilla to attend a reception in honor of a visiting ambassador. The Jedi bathed, then straightened his hair and beard. As he pulled his usual beige tunic and tabards over his broad shoulders, Kenobi reflected that he didn't want to do this. As a servant of the Republic, I am obligated to obey, he thought. But I don't have to like it. The grief and consequent exhaustion had not diminished, but he felt able now to subdue it and perform this task for a few hours.
He arrived a little early. When Queen Jamilla arrived, she smiled a little at him. Obi-Wan bowed slightly as the Queen passed, courtiers and dignitaries in her wake. Senator Amidala was there.
Obi-Wan was taken aback at her presence until he remembered a shouted conversation with his Padawan three years before: "What do you think Padmé would do, were she in your position?" She would do her duty. Obi-Wan couldn't help but remember the last two tendays; each time he had opened his mind to the Force, there she had been, her spirit screaming with grief.
As the reception began, Jedi Master Kenobi exchanged pleasantries with guests, but his focus was always on Anakin's widow. He did not choose to probe her with the Force now, and he also avoided approaching her. The last thing Senator Amidala will want is for me to hover and remind her of Anakin. Especially when she has work to do. Obi-Wan retreated to a balcony for some fresh air. There was no moon out tonight, and even the stars seemed to draw veils over their faces.
The voice was barely audible. "Master Kenobi."
He turned. It was Padmé. She stood on the balcony with her husband's knight-master and looked out at the Temple District of Theed. "Senator," he murmured.
The lights of the party set her hair and dress aglow, but left her face in darkness. Obi-Wan could barely make out where her eyes were, for they caught what little light reached them and reflected it back in pools of misery. "I thank you for your kindness and concern. I believe what you said. Ani was so proud of that lightsaber he built, and the fact that it's with me instead of him –" Padmé stopped, breathed deeply. "He taught me to listen to the Force. I believe you, I know you told me the truth about how he died."
Obi-Wan felt her gaze burn into him as he sensed heard her unspoken thought: You are blameless. But you are alive and my Ani is not. I hate you. He turned his head, screwing his eyes shut.
Padmé's voice reached Obi-Wan's ears, prolonging his punishment. Amazingly, she almost sounded amused as she said, "It's not just you, Obi-Wan. I hate everything." Amusement disappeared, and grief built in her voice and in the Force, waves of violent distress pounding at him without mercy. "The music, my work, the people who are having fun in there," she said savagely. Another deep breath, and the anguish vanished. "I cannot grieve openly. It is well known that Jedi are forbidden to marry, and I am still in a position to care about public opinion.
"He said you were like his father. You lost him, too. I am very sorry." Without another word, she returned to the party. He finally caught a glimpse of her face; it looked tired and pinched. All Obi-Wan could do was stare. Jedi were not prone to surprise, but he had been startled by this woman twice in one hour.
A moment later, Kenobi also rejoined the party. He slowly prowled the reception chamber, not wanting to stay in one place for long. When musicians seated themselves and servants began to clear a space, Obi-Wan fled to an adjacent parlor. Jedi training included the instruction of many styles of dance, but he had preferred lightsaber practice. Master Kenobi turned his back on the glitterati and opened his mind to the Force.
The Jedi sensed her coming before he saw her reflection in the transparisteel window. He could tell that Padmé had her emotions under a tight rein again. "Master Kenobi, it is tradition here to dance first with a friend. Do you know the Nagara Reel?"
She calls me a friend only a few minutes after admits that she hates me. Senator Amidala certainly takes her duty seriously, the Jedi decided. Out loud, he only said, "Yes, M'Lady."
He let her lead him to the dance floor as the introductory music began. The men and women were forming two lines, facing each other. Padmé let go of his arm when he stood parallel to the other male dancers, and she took her place opposite him. As the music started in earnest, Obi-Wan stepped out in between the two rows, joining hands with the woman on Padmé's left. They circled one another, smiling politely, then backed into their places. The man to Kenobi's right then joined Padmé in the center. They clasped hands and orbited each other, then retreated to their lines. The music continued, each dancer mirroring their partner's movements, weaving in between each other in the complex pattern dance.
Again, Obi-Wan opened his mind to the Force, becoming more aware of the people surrounding him, until the dance brought the couples together momentarily. Senator and Jedi swept together in a swirl of brown and red robes. Rotating around each other, she placed one hand on his shoulder, then closed her eyes. His hands went to her waist as she laid her forearm on his. She trembled. But then Padmé looked at Obi-Wan's face, as if daring him to do the same.
She is beautiful, Obi-Wan thought to himself, his breath catching in his throat. But I don't understand Anakin. I guess I never did. Odd, he reflected as he tried to distract himself, how stiff fabrics and embroidery can make someone as slender as Padmé seem, well, not so slender. He felt his face warp just a little as mourning threatened to explode out of his heart, shattering him into a thousand pieces.
The closeness only lasted a few seconds, then the dancers began to weave in between each other once more. The contact repeated several times during the dance, but neither Padmé nor Obi-Wan tried to make eye contact again. At the end, each couple drew together and joined hands. Just one thing left to do – the traditional kiss. For lovers it was usually on the lips or cheek, but for those not quite as close, a peck on the lady's fingers would do. Grey eyes watched brown as he lifted her small hand in his callused palm. Obi-Wan and Padmé read the heartache once again in each other's countenances. Her eyes shone like stars – Stars? – as he gently kissed her. Her nose scrunched and she smiled a little. My mustache must need a trim.
Several young men flocked to Padmé as Obi-Wan walked away. He puzzled over that until he remembered again that the Senator's marriage had been a secret. The Jedi sensed a flash of hesitation and looked over his shoulder. Obi-Wan could tell she had something else to say, so he nodded. The Senator then accepted a dance from one of her swains, and Obi-Wan sat down to wait.
Padmé was able to escape to the Jedi's side for a moment after that dance. "Would you please meet me in my office at fifteenth chime tomorrow?" she whispered.
"Of course, my Lady." Obi-Wan was glad she wanted to talk. He wanted to help her with the grief he had brought to her; maybe the sharing would help him, too.
Obi-Wan's meditation the next morning began like any other. He sat cross-legged on the floor, the morning sun warming his bare back and shoulders. The Jedi Knight began breathing deeply, stretching out with his feelings, relaxing the muscles in his body as he focused on the Force. His mind led him to Master Qui-Gon Jinn, who was Obi-Wan's mentor for a dozen years. Kenobi's sorrow mounted as he remembered his own sandy-haired Padawan. Memories raced through Obi-Wan's mind, ending with the last time they met. When Anakin had tried to kill him.
He again saw Anakin, shrouded in white. Obi-Wan was startled by the familiar snap-hiss of an activating lightsaber. Anakin's handsome face, lit only by the red glare of the saber, contorted into an expression of rage and hatred as he reached for Obi-Wan again.
A bent personage in a black cowl pointed at the two stars, which had also reappeared. Their light had increased tenfold. Anakin sneered and turned from Obi-Wan. He reached for the two points of light, but this time they remained bright. The more Anakin tried to extinguish them, the more they glowed. Suddenly, they flared, and nothing was left of Anakin or the cloaked figure except ashes.
Stars – two of them? – Anakin – where was Padmé this time? Anakin had taken them from her – taken them from her – two of them – from Padm
Obi-Wan came out of his trance with a gasp.
Tears that Obi-Wan didn't know he'd shed dripped into his beard. The Jedi bathed and dressed, knowing at least some of what the Senator would have to say to him. He also had a pretty good idea of why Padmé hadn't wanted to see him earlier in the morning.
"Master Kenobi, M'Lady." Dormé led the Jedi into Senator Amidala's office. Padmé stood to welcome him, but Obi-Wan's eyes were fixed on her hand, which was pressed on her desk to steady herself.
The Jedi was staring intensely at her, almost as if his mind was elsewhere, and Padmé felt a vague buzzing in her body – What's he doing? Then the dizzying feeling stopped, and the power behind his light blue gaze disappeared. "Master Kenobi, I have something to tell you," she began, taking her seat.
"I have something to tell you," he sighed. "But you'd better go first." He sat stiffly in his chair.
She couldn't meet his eyes. "I'm going to have a baby," she murmured to her clenched hands.
"Not exactly," he replied.
Padmé looked up, indignant. What's that supposed to mean?! "I beg your pardon –" she sputtered, but he held up his hand, silencing her.
"You are pregnant," the Jedi agreed quietly. The ghost of a smile contradicted his tired, anxious eyes. "You're not having one baby, you're having two."
"Oh," she murmured, her ire dissolving. Padmé was completely poleaxed. "How do you know? No, that was stupid." She sighed. "But you're sure there's more than one?"
The Jedi nodded. "I have reason to believe that you and your children are in danger, Senator. You know that Jedi are prone to visions from time to time. Sometimes, we see the future, sometimes the past, or friends as they are now, only half a galaxy away.
"But it wasn't like that this time. At first I thought it was showing the past, because Anakin was in it. Now I don't know. What I do know, Senator, is that it would be in the best interest of your children to keep your pregnancy private for now. I will continue to meditate on it to find out what the visions mean, but until then, it is imperative that we keep it a secret. For your safety, and theirs."
The Senator's eyes flashed as Obi-Wan uttered the word "we," though she kept silent, thinking. Perhaps he was meant to help her, to guide her children as they grew up in this unstable galaxy. But what if they're strong enough to become Jedi? They'll be tested and taken away from me before they're even a year old, she thought, alarmed. Padmé's anxiety only grew as Obi-Wan described Anakin and the stars from his visions. Would she be able to stay safe? What did it mean when Obi-Wan saw Anakin rise from the dead?
"I have to return to Coruscant, M'Lady." Obi-Wan's voice broke into her thoughts; she nodded absently. After the Jedi Knight left her office, she sat in her chair and pondered his words for a long time.