Disclaimer: These characters are not mine. They belong to George Lucas, who in his infinite wisdom doesn't mind that some of us occassionaly wander into his backyard to play. I also make no money off of this. It is merely a hobby to get me through the day.
A/N: Please ask before archiving. Also, I love it when readers comment, criticize, etc.
The first time I met her, I didn't think much of her.
She was impressive, of course. I was surprised that such a young girl could have been elected queen, even though she had been primed for it since she was very little. Still, I thought that she was rash and unrefined; passion couldn't make up for experience. Maintaining a typical Jedi view point, I thought that her emotion was just a mask for something else, something she could hide behind, keeping the less attractive side far from view. It wasn't until much later that I learned her dedication wasn't faked. Her passion was real, and she was a better person for it.
It was hard for me to accept her, especially after Qui-Gon died. Somewhere deep inside, I think I blamed her. I can still remember how I felt, seeing that creature run my Master through. It seemed in that instant that I saw everything which had brought us to Naboo, all of the events in my life that had brought me to that point, that complete pain.
I didn't know what pain was then.
She came to me the next day, and in my grief, I didn't want to see her. But I never forgot that she took time to thank me and to offer her condolences. She made sure that Qui-Gon had a pyre befitting his rank, that all of his friends were there to see him one last time.
It was in her nature to give so much.
The next time I saw her was a decade later, when I had time to mourn and realize that she wasn't the reason my Master had died. I can remember teasing Anakin in the lift to her apartment, seeing the sweat on his brow and his feet shifting in nervousness. Anakin understood that she had grown up, just like he had, in the time that they had been apart. I still expected a girl of fourteen but found a woman instead.
My breath caught in my throat when I saw her, mirroring my Padawan as he watched her enter the room. She had become magnificent, cool and poised, though in her eyes there still glowed the amusement and heart that I had noticed, and been contemptuous of, on Naboo.
I could see it in Anakin's face before he confessed how he felt later that night. I recognized it because I felt the same way, wanting to see that same look on her face when she looked at me. Although my cheeks didn't flush as his when he thought of her, or spoke with her, I knew how he felt.
When he went to Naboo, I knew that he would not come back the same. His eyes gave him away when he got onto the transport. I was concerned for him and his conflicting emotions towards being a Jedi and being a lover. He was not the first Jedi to fall in love yet remain in the Order, and for a long time, I doubted he would be the last.
They appeared in the arena, bound together, and I felt more pain than I expected. Her face held more emotion than I had ever seen in it, roiling feelings that spilled into the Force, and I felt an overwhelming desire that those emotions be for me. I didn't know what had happened on Naboo, or what had brought them to Geonosis, but I knew that during that time, Anakin had consumed part of her, and she had finally claimed the part of him he'd reserved for her so many years ago on Tatooine.
It nearly destroyed me when we had to leave her on the sands of that planet, chasing after my former Master's mentor. Anakin screamed at me, thinking I didn't understand how he felt. But I knew what she would have wanted us to do. Sacrifice wasn't an unfamiliar word to any of us.
I watched as Anakin's love consumed him, painfully aware of how it could have been me, if circumstances had been different. I understood every slip he made about promises to be on Coruscant, about excuses to go to the Entertainment District, about going to the Senate Chambers to meet with the Chancellor and conveniently leaving out the part where he meets her for supper.
I memorized his every pained look at staying extra days on missions and every quicker step back towards the ship which would take us home. His passion fueled my love in ways I would have never thought possible.
I never allowed anyone to see that passion.
But he still knew.
I had been sent to Akania V to investigate Separatist activities in hopes of stemming them before they bloomed into another full theater attack when Anakin hunted me down.
I can still see the look in his eyes when he located my camp in the I'doi foothills where I was gathering intelligence on a Separatist cell operating there. He strode into my camp, coming up to the warmer I had set up to keep me warm through the chilly nights. My former Padawan just appeared, materializing on the edge of the dim light given by the warmer.
I looked up, taking in the look on his face, a look of jealously and rage that was only made worse by the relief of shadows thrown on his features, hiding his eyes.
"You were always holding me back," he hissed. "From everything. From being a Jedi. From rescuing my mom. From my wife." He bit out the last words, igniting his lightsaber.
I stood up slowly, offering him my empty hands. "Anakin…"
"You have no right to speak, you traitor." He lunged at me, and my lightsaber was in my hands blocking his attack before I was aware of what was going on.
"You've always been jealous of me, of my power in the Force, of Qui-Gon taking me back to the Temple, of my wife from Naboo." He punctuated every point with a hard slash which popped and sizzled against my lightsaber, hits that jangled my nerves up into my shoulders. I parried every one, concentrating on his movements while trying to block out his words.
"I've loved two women in my life. One was taken from me because iyou/i wouldn't let me save her. Do you think I'll let you take the other?" I could hear the edge in his voice, the hoarseness from tears he wouldn't let me see. He thrust hard at me, and I spun away, ignoring the conflict within me. There was a part of me who wanted nothing more than to take her in my arms, to love her and keep her safe, to have her look at me the was she looked at Anakin. The other part was fiercely loyal to the life I had chosen; the life of a Jedi, a life of dedication to the peace of this galaxy. A life of sacrifice.
"You think she could love you?"
I blocked another attack, and my training began to take over, finally worming its way through my pain and shock. I found my feet taking an offensive stance and my hands finding blocks and making their own slashes, moving into a rhythmic dance with my former Padawan, one we had practiced over and over and over again until he had learned the moves by heart.
"She's my wife!" Anakin feigned to his left, moving into a sweeping slash towards his right, thundering down in a humming, deadly arc. My blade came up underneath his, reversing his lightsaber's direction I could hear my blood pounding in my ears and every breath I took as I immersed myself in the Force. There I wouldn't have to feel the sting of his words.
I wouldn't have to hear the truth spoken to me, even if I had never acted on it.
I heard the sob he choked back, and I felt the fevered energy in his arms as he turned it into a fierce attack, hacking and slashing at me until it took all my concentration to counter his hits. "You could have had any other woman in the galaxy, but you had to want her," he roared. "Her, Kenobi! Why her?"
I flipped, coming down behind him, slashing low along his legs. I watched as his moves became more erratic. I could feel him giving into his emotions, tripping his way along the Dark Side. I wanted to say something to bring him back, but I found I couldn't speak through the tears running down my throat.
We fought for a while in the silence, each trapped in his own thoughts. I tried not to think, but I couldn't get the images of her from my mind; her deep brown eyes, her elaborate dresses, her gentle expressions. Over and over again, I watched her shake her head, her soft brown hair movement slowly, curling at the ends, and a rare smile, an even rarer look of joy. She always seemed on the brink of saying something, but the image would always shatter as our blades came together, hissing upon contact.
I didn't realize that I had cut him down until I heard him moan. I looked down to see my former Padawan maimed, his mechanical arm missing and a cauterized wound deep into his abdomen. I saw the tears on his cheeks and suddenly became painfully aware of my own wet face. "She was my wife," he said softly, "my Padmé..."
I am standing in the lift, waiting to get to her apartment.
I don't want to be here. She'll be waiting inside, wondering who's calling so late into the evening, probably thinking it to be some hapless Senate page
I can't even begin to think of what I'll say to her once I get into her room. How do you tell someone that her husband is dead?
No, not dead. Worse than that. Fallen to the Dark Side, partially because of his love to her. Driven completely there by the man who has to give you the news.
The doors slide open, and one of her handmaidens is standing there, wrapping in a dark robe. Her eyes are blue, searching into mine even as I look down to see her. "General Kenobi? Is something wrong?"
I shake my head slowly, even now resisting the urge to get back into the lift and disappear from Coruscant forever. But duty is duty, and I can't leave this task to someone else. She must know, even before I tell the Council.
"I need to speak with your mistress," I begin awkwardly, not trusting myself to say her name. "It's about her husband."
The girl's eyes widen, and she disappears in a flurry of robes and nightclothes back into the living area of the apartment.
I go to stand by the window, watching the lights of the Coruscant traffic stream steadily across the atmosphere. I'm trying not to think about the last time I stood before this window on a night she almost died and her husband had confessed that she was intoxicating.
How true that statement still is.
A soft padding alerts me to her presence, and I turn, feeling my breath catch yet again in my throat. Even eight months pregnant, she is magnificent. Her hair is tumbled, messy from sleeping, and her nightgown hangs gracefully on her, showing the curves that her pregnancy has enhanced, even making the low sweep of her belly alluring. I take a deep breath.
"Obi-Wan?" Her voice is tense, and her features go from confused to concerned at my silence. "What's happened?"
"Anakin is…" I pause, not sure how to end that sentence. Instead, I gesture to the sofa in the middle of the room. "I think you should side down."
She moves away from me, perching on the end of the sofa. I stand behind the other one across from it, trying not to look at her but unable to look at anything else.
"Anakin followed me to Akania IV. He approached me at my camp and… attacked me."
Her brow furrows, and her eyes hold mine in an intense way uniquely hers. Even now, I want to pull her into my arms and wipe away the tears I knew she was going to shed. But first I have to give her a reason to hate me.
"Why did he attack you? That doesn't sound like my Anakin."
I flinch at her statement, the reminder of what he was and what I wasn't, the reminder of what I had done to her Anakin. "He wasn't acting as himself. He's not a Jedi any more." I swallow as her expression changes, this time to pain and anger. "He's fallen to the Dark Side."
"Why didn't you bring him back?" Her voice has gone icy cold, and she looks away from me.
"He attacked me, and I fought to defend myself. I immersed myself in the Force, becoming one with it, and when I came back to myself…" She is looking at me again, and there are tears in her eyes. I lose my nerve and have to turn away, knowing that I can't give into this. "He had a cauterized wound on his abdomen and had lost his mechanical arm."
"Why didn't you bring him back?"
"He didn't want anything to do with me. I left him there."
She stands, walking over to the window on the other side of the room. I can see her reflection, the glassy appearance of tears on her cheeks as she looks out onto the planet's service, glittering like a jewel, each light a facet on its surface.
"Palpatine collected him. He's the one who… tainted Anakin. He's the Sith Master. Dooku's Master."
Suddenly, she's doubled over, gasping for breath and holding her stomach. I'm at her side in an instant, supporting her as she begins to tremble in my arms. She grits her teeth and calls for her handmaiden, who appears at a dead run.
Neither of the women says anything. To the handmaiden's credit, she takes one look at her lady and disappears again. I can hear her talking into the comm station, and a speeder arrives mere minutes later.
I lead her to the couch, helping her to settle comfortably on it. She loosens her grip on my hand as her contraction eases then chuckles apprehensively. "I've been having back pains all day," she says as though I had just dropped by before going back to the Temple. "I guess I thought the beginning of labor would be more dramatic."
Medics come into the room from the lift pushing a grav-sled for her, though she's still clinging to my hand. "Don't leave me, Obi-Wan," she says finally as I try to move away to let the medics work. "You're the only friend I have left. Don't make me do this alone."
I can hear my voice catch in my throat, a choking, gasping sound, before I regain control of myself. "Of course," I whisper hoarsely, and she tightens her grip on my hand as another contraction rips through her. As they begin to move her away, I can't help but thinking what Anakin would make of this. I also realize that I couldn't refuse her this. Especially tonight.
I watch a brilliant sky full of stars tonight, unable to sleep even though the wind has finally quieted and stopped blowing sand against my small home. In the distance, I can sense a small light in the Force, a child who may redeem the generation who came before him.
But even as I search out his touch in the Force, I'm thinking of his mother, instead of him.
Even now, I can see her eyes dancing in front of me, shining with love and devotion, a passion that I have never felt returned nor truly understood. She herself seems to be dancing in my vision, a spontaneous, joyous reunion with her husband which I was never supposed to witness. Her mouth is laughing, a beautiful sound, and she takes Anakin's hands, prompting him to twirl her. He is smiling too, although the look fades as he glances up and meets my eyes.
She follows his look, taking in my presence, but her eyes slide over me, back to Anakin's face. She shakes her head, her brown hair moving gently, the curls in the ends bouncing. Pure joy is on her face, and she leans in to kiss Anakin, a quick but deep gesture with enough passion that I can almost taste it.
But it is not me. The look is not mine to have, nor the kiss. The love is his, the devotion. The passion.
They are not mine.