Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Lucasfilm, Ltd. No money is being made and no infringement is intended

Rating: PG (If anyone disagrees with that please let me know.)

Summary: Padme has been separated from her husband for far too long and is finally reunited under frustrating circumstaces.

Senator Padme Amidala of Naboo stifled a sigh as she worked her way down the receiving line of the evening's diplomatic reception. The line was moving far too slowly for her tastes and her elaborate formal dress was already beginning to wear on her nerves. She was simply impatient this evening —even her assistant had noticed it.

Of course, no one could know the reason that she was impatient. This reception was identical to a thousand others that she had attended, but on this night she didn't want to be there. She wanted to be at home in her comfortable mid-level apartment with Anakin. That, however, wasn't possible and wasn't likely to be for quite some time. Her last discreet inquiry about Anakin's status a week ago had suggested that he and General Kenobi were both heavily involved in several long term missions and weren't likely to return to Coruscant for quite some time.

It had already been a month and a half since she had last seen him. She missed him so badly, missed the way he held her, and kissed her and made her forget everything that wasn't them and there in that moment. She had no idea how she had survived a decade without him.

"Prince Bail Organa of Alderaan, may I present to you the former Queen and current Senator of Naboo Padme Amidala." The major domo's voice caught her attention in time for her to realize that she was finally at the head of the receiving line.

At least she wouldn't have to lie about the fact that she was genuinely glad to see Bail. She wondered when she had started cataloguing the statements that she didn't have to lie about. Was it when she had become a politician or was it a far more recent occurrence? Maybe it didn't really matter.

"Bail," she said warmly, looking up into the eyes of the handsome prince. She curtsied and then took his hands after he had responded with a bow. She kissed him once formally on each cheek and added, "It's good to see you again."

They were good friends as well as colleagues who worked well together. She had missed his presence in the Senate during his brief return to his home planet recently.

"It's good to be back, Amidala," he replied and smiled at her. "And I have some excellent personal news, as well," he glanced behind him at someone that she couldn't see. "Actually, that's the whole reason for this."

She nodded and returned her old friend's smile. It was good to see someone happy. So many people weren't these days. "That's good to hear." She hesitated and then asked, "I'll see you on the Senate floor tomorrow?"

He nodded. "Yes, there are some proposals that I wish to be present for." He thought for a moment. "Perhaps we can meet for lunch to discuss business?"

Amidala nodded. "That would be good." They really did need to discuss the direction that the war was taking. Everything felt as if it was out of control these days—moving too fast.

She moved away quietly, blending into the crowd of politicians and wealthy supporters with ease. Padme made her way to a quiet corner and then took the opportunity to scan the inhabitants of the room. Besides Bail, who was still occupied with his duties as the host of the function, there wasn't anyone there that she would consider a close personal friend. Most were acquaintances and the rest she knew by reputation, but there was no one that she particularly wanted to socialize with.

That left work—persuading politicians and other financially influential beings to aide her causes in the Senate. With a feeling of resignation, she began to move toward the nearest small knot of people. There was no reason not to start there.

"Senator Amidala, I believe," a smooth, cool voice caught her attention and she half-turned to face the being.

To Padme's surprise, she suddenly found herself face-to-face with a tall, handsome man. He had dark hair and a smile that was both pleasant and chilling. The look in his eyes made her want to take a step back. Padme, however, was not known for her tendency to back down in any situation. "Yes," she responded in her best politician's voice, "and you are Emond Dvoth." She looked at him neutrally, trying with a gaze to discern his reason for approaching her.

Dvoth traveled in much of the same social circles as she did, but until now she had never met him. He was a wealthy businessman who controlled a significant enough portion of the galaxy's trade to make him a very important man at a very young age. Some of the rumors about him suggested that some of his dealings weren't entirely legitimate, however. It was, Padme supposed, merely an attempt to discredit the man. Dvoth was one of the Chancellor's staunchest supporters. Surely Palpatine would have examined accusations of such a serious nature.

Dvoth nodded as if he had simply assumed that she would know who he was. "Chancellor Palpatine mentioned that we might have similar interests in the Refugee project. Perhaps we could discuss that this evening? I have resources that could be very valuable to your efforts."

For an instant Padme hesitated. Something about this man and his proposal felt wrong to her. She could think of no reason why a man with his reputed interests would be interested in relocating refugees. Still if he was truly interested in helping, even in his arrogant way, she would hesitate to accept it. "I would be interested in discussing that." She met his gaze fully. "I'm intrigued to see what you're proposing, Master Dvoth."

He flashed that cool smile at her again and Padme felt a shiver run down her spine. "I think you'll be very interested in my proposal, and please, call me Emond."

For the rest of the evening, through dinner and the formal dancing after it, Dvoth accompanied Padme. He was a polite enough companion, and very knowledgeable about the Refugee Restoration Project that she was heading, but his intense interest in her made her slightly uncomfortable.

Despite her occasional uncomfortable moments with Dvoth, or Emond, as he insisted that she call him, he was a charming companion. He was an excellent dance partner and he even managed to draw a laugh out of her on one or two occasions. Only Padme's years of experience in politics and her total dedication to Anakin made her immune to his intense charm.

It was no wonder, she thought later that evening as they once again joined the swirling dancers out on the dance floor for a slow and elegant dance, that he had risen to his position of power at such a young age. An instant later, Padme froze in mid motion of the dance. Only their momentum, kept her swirling through the proper motions and back into Dvoth's arms.

It wasn't possible. He couldn't be here. There was no way. Anakin was far, far away from Coruscant, fighting on some war torn planet, not here in the swirling ball room. A second later, she gasped as she saw him again. This time it wasn't a stolen glimpse among the crowd, but a clean view of him. Anakin stood against the wall, wearing his formal Jedi robes. His skin was bronzed from the suns of dozens of worlds and he had seemed older, more mature. His arms were folded behind his back and his eyes were focused on her as if he could see nothing else. She pulled away from Emond involuntarily, not even noticing the man anymore as she moved towards Anakin. She couldn't wait to be in his arms and kiss him.

"Amidala?" Padme spun back around to face Emond abruptly, as he caught her arm in a solid grip. "Where are you going?" He expression was puzzled and slightly belligerent.

She stared at him blankly for an instant, only one thought in her mind. Anakin. And then her mind caught up with her actions. She couldn't run to Anakin here and she certainly couldn't greet him the way that she wanted to. "Nowhere," she shook her head, more shaken than she could reasonably excuse.

She finished the dance, but her movements were stiff and wooden. She could feel two pairs of penetrating eyes watching her as they danced. As the dance ended and Emond lead them firmly off of the dance floor, Padme tensed. She was already tired of the pretense that she was maintaining and she'd had enough of Dvoth's company. As they approached their quiet table, he moved his hand from its polite grip on her arm to wrap around her waist and he leaned in closer to her to whisper quietly in her ear.

"It's getting rather late. Perhaps I should escort you back to your private dwelling and we can further discuss the matters that I suggested this evening."

A hot surge of anger flashed through her with that statement. This man had no interest in the work that she championed, only in her, and he had wasted an entire evening that she could have spent campaigning for her cause. She looked up at Dvoth sharply and then flinched involuntarily as she saw Anakin over Dvoth's shoulder. He started towards her, a look of jealousy and rage clearly on his face. Anakin had sensed the sudden change in her emotions and he recognized Dvoth as the cause of it. It had broken the control that Anakin had kept his emotions under. In the next instant she met his gaze with hers, begging him to back down. This was not a place to have an angry confrontation. There were holoreporters all over the place. She flicked her gaze back to Dvoth and took an automatic step back. She needed to be as far away from him as possible right now for all of their sake.

"I don't think so, Master Dvoth," Padme replied politely, but coolly. "I want to stay for Bail's announcement; however," she added, "if you still wish to contribute to the financial backing of the Refugees, perhaps your assistant can get in touch with mine with the details. I'm certain that you're a very busy man."

Dvoth's smile, which had been cool and somewhat haughty throughout the evening was now and icy and his tone of voice when he replied was abrupt and rude. "Perhaps it can be managed," he responded, but his tone dismissed the possibility. He turned on his heel without even excusing himself and stalked into the crowd.

Padme only wasted an instant wondering if she had made yet another enemy. She stifled a sigh. If she had, Dvoth would just have to get in line. Distantly Padme heard Bail trying to gain the attention of the room as he prepared to make his speech, but she ignored it, choosing instead to slip quietly through the crowd. It took all of her self-control to walk calmly and disinterestedly out onto the terrace. She leaned casually against the railing in front of her and stared off into the view in front of her, waiting. She knew he wouldn't be long. Padme wasn't disappointed.

"You're more beautiful than ever, Senator."

Anakin's voice was distant and polite, merely a Jedi making small talk with a Senator, but it certainly had an effect on Padme. She felt a shiver run down her spine at hearing his voice again. She shut her eyes against the urge to turn around and throw herself into his arms. "Thank you, Padawan Skywalker." She took another deep breath and tried to control herself as she turned to face him.

Meeting his eyes gave her a jolt that even seeing him earlier hadn't prepared her for. The words that she had been about to speak died unspoken on her tongue. "Anakin." It was barely a whisper, but it broke the tableau of control between them.

He moved closer to her in two quick steps, but stopped short of actually touching her. He looked down at her with incredible intensity. "Padme," he whispered her name reverently.

She half-glanced over his shoulder, making sure that no one was looking in their direction and then gave in to the temptation in front of her. She quickly took the half step forward necessary to put her up against Anakin, wrapping her arms around his neck in a tight embrace, pulling his head down to her so that she could kiss him.

As the kiss ended, Anakin pulled his lips away from hers slowly. He leaned his head down into her shoulder into his lips were brushing her collarbone as he spoke. "That man, he angered you. I could sense your emotions. He troubled you. No one should ever be allowed to treat you like that."

Anakin's voice was so serious that Padme couldn't help but giggle. Just being with him for a moment had already calmed and relaxed her—the annoyance of men like Dvoth already forgotten. Anakin looked up at her sharply, his indignation written clearly on his face.

She hesitated an instant and then smiled brilliantly at him, leaning down to draw him into another kiss. As they pulled marginally apart to breathe, Padme murmured softly, "I love you so much, Ani. Never forget that, my love."

Three Years Later

Darth Vader strode down the long corridor of his Super Star Destroyer Executor with his dark cloak billowing behind him. Today the Executor was host to his master, the Emperor himself, and a slew of bureaucrats and other beings that deemed themselves influential. Vader knew otherwise and he savored their fear whenever he approached them. He was already well known as the enforcer of the Emperor's displeasure.

A man dressed in formal finery followed by an entourage of slaves walked towards Vader, but hardly seemed to notice him. Vader brushed past the group as if they were beneath his notice. He was on his way to see his master and he did not have time to play. Something about the man, however, caught his attention an instant after he had passed him. The man's face triggered something within Vader, something that he couldn't place.

"Halt!" His voice boomed out between eerily rasping breaths. Vader listened as the footsteps ceased almost immediately and then slowly turned to the small group of people. He stared penetratingly at the man, reveling in the fear that surged off of the man in front of him. His mask was certainly effective. Vader eyed the man carefully, searching for what had caught his attention. "What is your name?"

"I am Master Emond Dvoth, and the Emperor is expecting me," the middle aged man said, drawing himself up importantly. He looked at Vader contemptuously, but Vader could feel the fear pouring off the man, as well as, surprisingly, the arrogance.

That was when Vader remembered. "You." It was an impressive feat that his voice managed to sound even more menacing as he sneered the word at the man. His gloved hand snapped up from his side and he directed the Force sharply out from him slamming Dvoth into the wall. "You will die." Vader slowly clenched his gloved fist together, constricting his Force grip on the man's airway as he did. With a wrenching twist of the Force the man hit the deck, dead.

Vader wheeled away sharply without sparing a glance for his entourage. No one should have ever been allowed to trouble his angel. If only she would have allowed him to protect her. He shook the thought away as anger consumed him again. His Emperor awaited him, and he certainly wouldn't miss one man.

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