Chapter 1 in the "Heart and Soul" series. (1/5)
Part 2 of 2 Written by: Shawn
Summary: An unexpected Separatist attack 'accidentally' reunites two star-crossed lovers, giving them a brief moment of peace at a time of war.
Rated: R there is a NC-17 rated version. Email me if you want it
Category: Angst/Romance/Drama Pairing: Anakin/Padme
Timeline: Obviously, knowledge of Star Wars: Episode 1 and 2 is needed. This story takes place one year and eight months after the beginning of the Clone Wars. Padme and Anakin have been married for that long. Check 'Authors Notes' for more information.
Disclaimer: George Lucas and Lucasfilm owns everything. I just want to give Padme and Anakin a happy, albeit passionate ending. Oh, by the way. I loved Episode 3!
Email: Notes 1: In this universe, the Clone Wars will last three and a half years. It's commonly known that Anakin and Padme were seperated for five months before Episode 3 when Obi-Wan and Anakin were dealing with the Outer Rim Sieges. This story picks up one year and eight months after Star Wars: Episode 2, and will take us through the Clone Wars and up until Anakin's moment of truth in the Episode 3. From there, I take things in my own direction.
Authors Notes 2: While slightly overdramatic as a couple at times, I also imagine a passionate, playful, deeply loving relationship between Anakin and Padme. They have so little time together, so when they have a chance to steal a moment together, it can go from intense to sweet to passionate and back again in a heart beat.
Authors Notes 3: Dorme, Padme's handmaiden and best friend in this story knows of her marriage to Anakin. Obi-Wan only suspects more is going on than he knows but, but elects not to pry.
A Republic Assault Cruiser One year and eight months into the Clone Wars
Despite the bells and whistles of droids puttering about around him, as well as gunship engineers working with heavy machinery near by, Obi-Wan would still be able to recognize the sound of Anakin's footsteps anywhere. "I told you to get some sleep."
"I tried, Master. Sleep does not come easy to me these days."
"Must you always be so difficult?"
"Must you always be so critical?"
With his arms crossed in the pose of a slightly disgruntled parent, Obi-Wan sighed. "This conversation seems well rehearsed."
"I strive to be consistent."
"Consistently driving me out of my mind," he noted. "I swear, Anakin, you'll be the dea..."
"Please, Master. Don't say it again."
"You're not the only one who likes to be consistent."
"You clearly need a vacation."
"To Naboo, perhaps?" Obi-Wan needled ever so gently as he stood on the 'Engager's' docking bay ramp with a suddenly quiet, almost shy Anakin. He figured that might silence his sharp tongue.
Sight unseen, if someone listened to their conversation without knowing of their wry smiles, or the brotherhood they exuded so effortlessly, one might get the feeling that they didn't like each other all that much. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Their friendship exemplified the elemental push and pull between father and son, master and pupil, older brother and younger one. Often argumentative, their opposing ways of dealing with certain situations have left them on bad terms many times, but never for long. Minor spats were forgotten minutes later. Respect always, even in the face of disagreement. They might go at each other vehemently, with vigor, but neither stood alone when the other needed back-up.
Flanked by twenty Republic investigators, three battalions of Clone Arc-troopers, and eleven med-droids, Obi-Wan and Anakin waited patiently for the locking devices to secure and the air-pressure stabilizers to set before the freighters hanger bay door would rise.
Casting a glance out of the corner of his eye, Obi-Wan remarked, "You're tense. Relax."
"I'm sorry, Master," he replied as a echo of a memory tugged at the back of his mind. It felt all to familiar. Something was on the horizon. He could feel it. There was a disturbance in the Force, but it was not one he feared. It was a bone deep sense, just underneath his skin. He's... exhilarated, as if on a high. For the life of him he couldn't explain it. "Assisting you here will at least give me something to do. Hopefully the work will tire me out so that I can get some sleep."
"Practicing your meditation techniques would help as well."
"A drink would accomplish the same goal," he joked with the curve of a grin dancing along his lips. He knew all to well his good friend would not have a leg to stand on if he denied that claim. Obi-Wan wasn't above a glass of Jolesq wine before going to bed. Then again, neither was he. "What's wrong? A Wookie got your tongue?"
Obi-Wan stared straight ahead at the hanger bay door, doing his best to maintain a serious expression. He struggled mightily. "I cannot wait for the day you have an annoying Padawan of your own."
"If he or she saves my life as many times as I've saved yours, I will count myself very lucky." Possessing a far superior sense of humor than a typical Jedi, Anakin greatly enjoyed the lighter side of his Master's personality, as well as his ability to enjoy a friendly poke at himself.
Obi-Wan heard the loud metal pops of the lockdown pins spring open. "Finally." The red and blue panels lit up simultaneously on either side of the hanger bay doors, signaling the docking sequence was complete. With a motion of his hand, the troopers, investigators and medical-droids took their position. "Would you like to take command of the first deck investigation?"
"Not a problem. I'll have it swept for tracking devices and spy droids. I suggest you personally interview the non-injured survivors first."
"Yes, I do feel talking to those who are conscious would be a far wiser course of action than those who are not."
Oh yes, Anakin had a great comeback for that one, especially since even a Clone seemed to snicker at his expense. He held it in only for appearances sake as the wide hanger bay door rose slowly from the floor. Having been quickly briefed just after he left his quarters, he hoped he wouldn't fall asleep when he talked to the personality-less representatives the Supreme Chancellor usually surrounded himself with. At least he won't have to think about...
... this isn't
Roaring waves of overwhelming emotion cascaded over Anakin so powerfully he was forced to shut his eyes, sensing a presence... feeling 'her' presence before he saw her. And then as if a glorious sun rose brilliantly from it's hiding place in the sweet morning, there she was. Padme... utterly beautiful, even standing in that dusty, decrepit hanger bay of a mining freighter. His proud, noble, capable angel. His heart caught in his throat, beating even there as he quickly put up his Jedi mental-shields to ward off Obi-Wan's sensing what her presence meant to him. He's devastated with the purest joy imaginable at the mere sight of her, drinking her in with a unquenchable thirst, and she hasn't spoken yet. Hasn't even seen him as she exited the freighter with Captain Typho and a group of twenty others. He absolutely couldn't speak, frozen in place by a dream he prayed was reality.
Surprise seemed to be the nature of the evening, or so Obi-Wan figured. "Senators," he greeted them with a bow, especially the very surprised Senator Amidala, who's trademark cool facade broke for a fraction of a second the moment she saw Anakin, then slipped back into place just as easily. In the span of one heartbeat and the next she revealed nothing at all, and everything. He felt her euphoria. It's implications scared him. "I am sorry for the losses you all suffered in the attack. Rest assured the Supreme Chancellor and the Jedi Council have been notified, and the Republic Cruiser 'Sandstorm' will arrive in twelve hours to escort you back to Coruscant. The long waiting period is due to our ships reassignment and the 'Sandstorm' having to carefully navigate a minefield to reach this part of the galaxy. We have rooms and food available, so you will be comfortable and the wounded will be tended to. I assure you we will get to the bottom of this attack quickly."
"General Kenobi, it's good to see a friend," Padme somehow managed to say in her normal, calm voice, shaking his hand while wearing a gracious smile. "Anakin," she spoke his name as if her every wish had come true, offering a polite nod his way. Contrary to every predictable, clichéd HoloNet romance movie she hated but watched with her sisters in her youth, when the woman would rush across whatever distance seperated her from her love and throw herself in his arms, at this very moment she wanted nothing more in the universe than to do just that. She struggled to regain her professionalism. Her heart's pounding so loudly in her chest she worried someone might actually hear it. "Two of Senator Graham's guards are the most severely injured. The rest of us are just a bit shaken up. There was a fire in the engine room we managed to put out, but some of the dead were buried under rubble. We could not retrieve their bodies."
"Are you alright?" Anakin asked quickly, before even his Master could speak. Courtesy be damned, he needed to know she how she was doing. Then he needed to know who attacked her. Then he needed body bags to fill their corpses with after he killed them.
"I'm fine, Anakin," she assured him with a trusting gaze. Her precious Ani, before her now, as tall and strong as she remembered. Alive, and so she can breath again. She lifted her right wrist, revealing a faintly purple bruise. "I took a hard fall when the attack began, but I'm not injured. Others need medical attention far more than I do."
Nodding respectfully, Anakin took a step back as Obi-Wan greeted the other Senators. His protective stare never for a second left Padme. She was holding up far better than him, detailing the attack with the other Senators while listening and offering her insight. If it were up to him he'd Force-shove everyone out of the way, take her into his arms, and never let her go again. Alas, duty mattered to her, and so it had to matter to him as well.
Anakin watched the Clones board the freighter, standing off to the side, next to Obi-Wan. His Master seemed reflective. In a mood of sorts. Most troubling was the fact that as he himself had his mental shields up to guard against Force-reading him, so did Obi-Wan. Curious indeed.
How ever did Qui-Gon become his Master once upon a time? Obi-Wan wondered if he'd be half as prepared for someone like Anakin had he not been trained by a man like Qui-Gon? Hardly. Rules were subjective to the moment, he once said. "Anakin, would you kindly escort the Senators to their quarters while I begin the investigation."
Anakin looked to Obi-Wan. A surprised expression focused on his Master. "I thought you wanted me to begin the investigation on the first floor?"
"I've changed my mind. I want the representatives of the Supreme Chancellor to be escorted by you personally. See that they have everything they need, and are prepared to answer questions within the next two hours."
"As you wish, Master," Anakin had no choice but to comply, or seem at odds with his Master in front of the Senators. After bowing his head, he cast his arm forward, leading the group of chattering Senators from the docking bay into the corridors, towards the elevator being held open for them. He maintained a careful distance from Padme, though he could feel her mood through the Force. She's simply desperate to touch him. She will have her way soon enough. "Kindly follow me, Senators."
Sparing a glance at the departing group, Obi-Wan pondered if he had done the right thing, encouraging what he only suspected. Or at least allowed himself to suspect while looking no further into matters that were not his own. He trusted Anakin with his life. There was a mystery here for him to sink his teeth into, and so he shall, leaving all else to work itself out.
The official Galatic Dictionary defined the word 'patience' as the calm endurance of a trying, tedious or annoying situation. Wearing her ever-perfected disguise of a woman slightly above it all, Padme quietly trailed Anakin and the last two Senators he was escorting to their rooms. She realized that despite the many heated arguments and fierce debates she's engaged in the Senate Hall over the years, she had never exercised patience to the extreme degree she was doing so right now. Her ability to remain calm, cool, and collected no matter what situation she found herself in was a gift she thankfully had a her disposal in this dire time of need.
No one noticed her hands were trembling, or that her heart was beating a mile a minute.
"This Republic Assault Cruiser is capable of operating and landing within a planetary atmosphere, deploying hundreds of troops and their vehicles into combat," Anakin replied to Senator Kriliak's query about the ship. A former military man himself some twenty years ago, his fascination with the newer Republic vessels was unending, much to the Jedi's dismay. Annoying though he was, Anakin at least had a voice to focus on since he dare not look anywhere other than straight ahead. The sheer torture of having his beloved wife so near and not being able to touch her was driving him mad.
"In my days before public service, I was a partner in Rothana Heavy Engineering. They're the company that built these cruisers for the Republic," Senator Ty added with his trademark level of self-pride. Never one to allow any being that lived the satisfaction of not knowing of his immense wealth and powerful connections, both political and in industry. "When we began designing these ships we never dreamed they would be put into production so quickly. We were under the impression that another decade of research and planning would be necessary."
Senator Kriliak considered his words carefully. "War pushes everyone and everything further and faster. In the Megis Sieges some twenty..."
Wishing his party would pick up the pace, Anakin fought back the rude retort on the tip of his tongue. He's struggled his whole life it seemed with what he wanted and what was expected of him. He wanted to get these men into their rooms immediately without hearing them utter another single solitary word. He needed to be patient, as Obi-Wan had preached to him many times as it pertained to politicians. Nonetheless, he couldn't help himself, shifting just enough when they turned a corner to glance over his shoulder... a moment of bliss, drinking in the sight of Padme. Within her beautiful, warm brown eyes laid the answer to every question anyone who wanted anything from him could ever ask.
You do not matter more than her. None of you.
Unable to touch her the way he longed to, the way he knew she longed for him to, Anakin reached out with the Force instead. He never intruded where she did not want him to go, and had taught her how to mentally halt him if she was in a mood for her own personal inner thoughts. Often times, as was the case now, she was open and willing, dying to share with him. He allowed the voices around him to gently fade into the background, again focusing on the joy of his life. She's frustrated to a level he's not seen in quiet some time, and that amused him as much as matched his own feelings. She's a little hungry, and she's wondering why he's chosen yet another darker cloak. She thinks his longer hair is sexy, and he swore he could feel her smile when he learned that bit of information. Her left wrist was still bothering her.
"Jedi, sir. What is the height of this ship?" Senator Kriliak asked just before they reached his room. Anakin opened the security lock, sliding the door aside.
"752 meters long. It is currently the largest ship the fleet uses." Standing to the side as the Senator walked into his room and looked around, Anakin's gaze locked with Padme's for a brief, agonizingly painful moment. If Senator Ty wasn't so disinterested in practically everything that had nothing to do with him, he would have noticed their sheer need for each other. "Senator Kriliak, I'm sure everything will meet your requirements until the 'Sandstorm' arrives in twelve hours."
Once inside, Senator Kriliak removed his jacket, then sank down in a chair next to the bed. A older gentleman who's used to far more, but has lived and loved in far, far less. "I'm just happy to be alive and off my feet after what happened. Everything is more than satisfactory, Anakin. Thank you."
"Good evening, Senator." One down, one to go. Offering a polite bow, Anakin pressed the door button, and with all his might willed himself not to throw Senator Ty's tall, lithe frame over his shoulder and race him down the hall to his room.
The winding corridor seemed to go on for miles when in actuality, they were less than twenty-feet away from Senator Ty's appointed quarters. Upon reaching the door, Anakin opened it as he had the others, then stepped aside for the Senator to enter. He was seconds away from being alone with Padme. Seconds... "Someone will be reporting to you within the next two hours for a official inquiry. I assure you it won't last long, and then you won't be bothered until the 'Sandstorm' arrives."
Senator Ty seemed neither pleased nor dismayed, affording a small nod as acknowledgement of what the Jedi said. "The Supreme Chancellor speaks so highly of you, Anakin. I feel safe in your company."
That was something Padme did not feel in his. In a rare effort to be fair, for tonight's secret meeting Palpatine allowed a small group of Senators who regularly opposed his views to travel with a few who were known to be his strongest supporters. Senator Ty was as swarmy as he was a liar in the Senate. He had a reputation for two things. Corruption and womanizing. The fact that he, on no less than three occasions asked her if she wanted to 'share a drink with him' in his quarters alone, spoke volumes about his character. His dark eyes held no want for political conversation or debate of any kind. His baser urges were best satisfied by his well-known wife of over thirty years. He regularly made Padme sick, and though she exhausted little effort in fending him off, he seemed to have no trouble in continuing his efforts.
"Senator Padme," he spoke her name in a wispy shrill of a voice, his unwanted gaze appreciating her. "Would you care..."
"No. Thank you. Goodnight." Padme shut the door herself, exhaling a long deep breath. What Senator Ty might consider to be rude behavior, in fact, couldn't be farther from the truth. Her success was two-fold. For one, she may have just saved his life. While Clone troopers didn't care if sexual overtures were made in front of them, Anakin surely would. And while she had no problem rebuffing anyone with such veracity that ninety-nine percent never tried again, her words were no match for her husbands lightsaber.
Her second success happened to be the purest. The one that mattered most. At long last, she was alone with Anakin, albeit in this security-camera observed corridor. Caution here, as salvation for a short time was not far away. They set about a casual walk, led by Anakin of course. Padme ached to take his hand into hers, curling around it. The sight of him was intoxicating. "The HoloNet's nightly news reports on the war are filled with awful sights. How have you been holding up?"
He paused before answering, "I'm doing okay."
Letters and communications that could be picked up or read had to use coded messages. A secret language all their own, developed in bed one night not long after they married. 'I'm doing okay' translated to 'I've missed you terribly and I can barely stand it.' The raw pain echoed in his voice caused her heart to ache. "I'm doing okay too." Suddenly, his hand shot out, grasping her right wrist. He stopped in front of her, his superior height towering over her. Heat seared every nerve in her body, causing her belly muscles to clench. She felt lightheaded from his touch alone. Unable to resist any longer, her trembling hand rose to caress his face, to run her fingers over his jaw and chin, to know this moment was real. "Your hair's a little longer."
"So is yours," Anakin whispered softly, emotionally. His eyes shut under her tender ministrations, leaning into her desperately missed affection. He reached up to pull a wisp of her silky hair from her lovely face. He was at a total loss for words. All he knew was that he wanted to kiss her. To hold her until the end of time. Her slender shoulders, her luscious mouth, her long silky hair, her subtly curved body all called out to him. He absorbed the thrilling sight of her, struggling to maintain his composure.
The soft feel of his fingers on her skin made her tingle from her toes to the crown of her head. Padme tried not to let her emotions get the best of her, but she couldn't help it. She felt sentimental. Perhaps she wanted to. Catching that familiar hunger in his eyes for her alone, she remembered the exquisite way he made love to her for hours, forever marking her as his. There are faint scars on his back made by no war, but the passion he drew from her. Branding him for all time as hers.
"Follow me. I'm sure you're tired." Mustering all the remaining restraint he had left, Anakin relinquished his gentle hold on her wrist, and then rested his open palm on her lower back. He escorted her down three long corridors, past two sets of saluting Clone guards, until at last they reached her room. He had already decided to give her the one farthest from the other Senators for privacy. So far, so good.
"Jedi, sir?" Padme called out, ever mindful of the security camera on the other side of the hallway facing her corridor. "I'm thoroughly exhausted this evening. Would I be troubling you in asking that you take my formal statement for the investigation now rather than later? I would like to rest uninterrupted for as long as I can until the 'Sandstorm' arrives."
"It wouldn't be any trouble at all, my lady." Force, did he ever love her mind, body, and soul. Anakin pressed in the wall-mounted keypad the security protocol that opened the door. He extended his arm just inside the door, motioning for her to enter. When she did, his extended hand summoned the Force, and quickly severed four wires from the wall-embedded security camera near the window in the far corner of the room. He followed her inside and shut the door behind them.
All of a sudden the war, the Senate, Palpatine, the Separatists, and the Jedi Council ceased to exist.
As if a dream fulfilled at long last, Padme found herself swept into the loving home of Anakin's strong arms, and was kissed endlessly. Her feet dangled barely off the floor, clutched to his chest in such a possessive manner that they might never be apart again. The tender plundering of his mouth on hers evolved into a devouring of lips as her arms slipped around his neck. A sense of urgency was nearly overwhelming them, so long had they gone without seeing each other. Their ten and a half week separation was finally at an end.
They broke their kiss only when the need to breathe became a priority. Anakin held her around the waist so tight, his forehead pressed against hers, eyes shut. He savored her scent, the soft feel of her skin, and the peace of soul that only came with her presence.
His eyes drifted over her, she observed. Her eyes lingered only a second, and she could see his delight. "I love you so much," her voice cracked with the truth of her life. Her throat tightened and she suppressed a sob.
"I'm overcome," he found his voice, though barely above a whisper. He held her closer, burying his face in her neck, inhaling the scent of his beloved.
"I was so worried about you. I feared every evening Holonet broadcast that might bring word of your death."
He softly caressed her cheek with his flesh hand. The dread she's been forced to live with, he silently swore she would know an infinite amount of happier times. He would see to it by any means necessary. "I've slept in tents and holes made of dirt and dark caves. Sometimes in the pouring rain, or the bitter cold. I've seen so much death that sometimes I think it haunts me. I've suffered and witnessed suffering," he confided, lifting his head to take a good long adoring look at his wife. "I survived it all just to come home to you."
Her fingers threaded into his hair as she drew him down to her, pressing her lips to his in a kiss that spoke of the deepest commitment. Of something eternal, shared only by them. She often wondered if any woman in all the galaxy was as loved as her. "I am so proud of you. You have exuded such bravery."
His smile evolved into something partially sheepish in the wake of her praise.
They simply held onto each other for the longest time, allowing the moment to sink in before they became hungry and kissed again. Only this kiss was full and passionate. It was a kiss of lovers, and it lingered on and on.
"You smell so much better than Obi-Wan."
Padme laughed and leaned against him, letting her head settle on his shoulder. "I should hope so. If the case were otherwise I'd have far more to worry about than I already do."
Her laughter breathed hope back into his heart. "How have you been? Really, I mean."
"I've missed you so much," she confessed. "Otherwise, I'm doing as much as I can to discover a way to end this war peacefully. Keeping busy helps, but at night..."
"Lonely," she finished for them both, her fingers curling through the hair on the back of his head. With him so near she could smell his masculine aroma. She took a deep breath, savoring him. She lifted her head from his shoulder, smiling. His sudden silence wasn't what she wanted. "You're brooding. Stop it," she ordered playfully.
"However do you know I'm brooding?" he teased, then pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead. "Are you sure you're not a Jedi?"
"No, but I'm married to one."
"One who missed you more than words can say."
"His wife missed him just as badly." Anakin released his hold from around her waist. His left hand rose, ghosting his touch past the side of her neck. A long wistful sigh escaped his lips and his robotic hand clenched into a fist. "What is it?"
"I can't take much more of this," came with such bitter frustration he had to step away from her, turning his back. "I'm sick of this war. No one's winning it. For nearly two years now it's been going on without an end in sight."
"The Republic has to and will find a peaceful solution," she maintained. Her hand grasped his forearm so that he faced her again. "The Senators might bicker regularly, but all of them want the same thing. They want this war to end. That is the Senate's top priority, I assure you."
"Then let them deal with the war," Anakin declared in a dark tone, his eyes narrowed seriously. Padme was not only his wife, but his very best friend. They accepted their opposing views on the war, it's true origins and what it was really about at the end of the day. But at the end of that day, his life, the one that mattered most, was meant to be lived by her side. "I can't stand being apart from you for months at a time with no way to communicate with you," he complained. "When Senator Gyles was kidnapped and his staff assassinated, I was horribly worried for your safety. You are a well-known, highly respected Senator with direct ties to the Jedi Council and the Supreme Chancellor. It doesn't really matter that you no longer fully support him. The next attempt on your life wouldn't be the first."
"My personal security, as well as the other Senators has been increased. There are more Jedi stationed at the Galatic Senate, as well as undercover officers patrolling twenty-four hours a day," she explained to him. "One thing you need to understand is that those attacks are meant to provoke us into changing the way we live our lives and scare us into inactivity. They tried to use fear as a weapon, and they have failed. They will continue to fail."
"If I lost you..."
"You won't. Not now and not ever."
Sometimes, when he was alone in the dark, he wasn't so sure. "This has to end."
"I'm open to suggestions."
His intense stare found hers. "We could disappear."
"And we've talked about this before. What about the Jedi Order? What about my position in the Galatic Senate?
"I am not the last Jedi. And the Senate won't fall apart without you."
"Disappearing would be selfish of us," she reasoned with him using a calm, rational voice. For just a moment his wife had to leave the room so that his trusted confidant could help him see the bigger picture. Her husband, though wonderful and satisfying to her heart in every way, had a side to him that she didn't always like, but understood nonetheless. "Duty," she watched him bow his head, "A word I know you hate to hear coming from me, matters. We made commitments long ago and we have to uphold them the same way everyone else does. People are counting on us, albeit in different ways, but nonetheless, they are."
"I don't care."
His defiant glare was almost cute. Her beloved carried with him such a fiery temper. Padme approached him with careful steps, resting her hands on his chest in a affectionate manner. His tightened jaw relaxed, as did his mood, and his shoulders settled from their once rigid pose. When she tipped his chin with a finger, smiling as she gazed into his eyes, he softened that very moment. "Yes, Ani. You do care. It's one of the many things I love about you so much."
He's had little doubt since earning her love that she was the cure to all that ailed him. She could brush aside his pride and ego with a gentle wave of her hand. Whenever he lost focus, she showed him the way home. He might not always agree with her, but he loved her with every fiber of his being. "I want to ask you a question."
"Ask it." He took her by the hand and led her over to the bed, then motioned for her to sit at the end, before falling to one knee beside her.
"Do you know your place in my life?"
Padme brushed her hand over his face, awed by her feelings for him. "I'm not sure I know what you mean. Of course I know you love me. I've never doubted that."
"This isn't about love, Padme. This is about your place in my life. This is about you knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt where my priorities are." He searched for the right words to convey life from lifelessness, which best described him after he met her. "Being a Jedi Knight is fulfilling in a way I could have never imagined. It's exciting and dangerous at the same time. Our duty is to protect and keep the peace in the whole of the Republic. We garner the utmost respect wherever we go in the galaxy. In a lot of ways, we are the hand and the fist of the Galatic Senate. And one day soon I will become the youngest Master ever, as well as the youngest person ever elected to the Jedi Council." He knelt before her, taking both of her small hands into his. His gaze spoke of an everlasting devotion. "None of those things matter to me more than you do. I would walk away from my life as a Jedi if you asked me to. I would do it without hesitation. I know you're right when you speak of duty and our responsibilities. And I would be lying if I said being a Jedi meant nothing to me, when in fact, it means a great deal. And yet, being a Jedi is not the sum total of my life. Being with you, and loving you, is."
Heartfelt tears sparkled her eyes until one lone droplet fell, followed by another as it leapt off her cheek and onto their joined hands. Padme gathered Anakin to her, wearing a smile that bore a touch of euphoria. Aside from a kiss, he was her first everything, and if there had been others, none would have a hope of comparing to her Ani. He filled every corner and every section of her heart entirely and she wouldn't have it any other way. She had never truly doubted her place in his life, nor would she ever deny how beautiful it was to hear him confirm it. "You humble me," she proclaimed in a almost fragile tone of voice.
"You should be exulted."
Padme smiled so bright. "And to think, I thought I could not possibly love you more."
A devilishly daring grin came over his face. "So, does that mean you're ready to run away with me?"
"We're needed, Ani," she replied with a kiss as he slowly pushed her back on the bed, his solid weight pressing her into the soft mattress. How ever did that survive so many nights apart, they both thought as their lips danced and played joyfully.
"My precious Padme," murmured against her lips. "I need you."
"It's been so long, Ani," her voice dripped with wanton desire. "Show me how badly you need me. Make me feel how badly you've missed me."
Amid softly whispered endearments they undressed, toying playfully the whole while. Hovering over her, Anakin leaned down and breathed fire on her throat, skittering across it with his tongue. As her fingers combed through his hair, he suckled her pulse point. The sensation elicited that sweet humming sound she made whenever his attention was focused on that part of her neck.
The heady sensation of his mouth mesmerized her. His soft lips touched her ear, then he took her lobe between his teeth, nibbling it. More than anything she was aware of his warm breath bathing her neck. When his fingers trailed down her thighs, across it, and up her inner thigh, her skin tingled. She craved his touch and only wanted more.
Eight Hours Later
Anakin wasn't quite sure why Padme asked him to bring her here. Then again, she was never a predictable sort of woman. He watched her carefully appraise the room, taking in every detail. "It's not much to look at, I know."
Her need to see where he slept was an odd one, even to her. Nonetheless, Padme wanted to visit where he spent his nights away from her while aboard this ship. The mid-sized room, with it's bland gray walls and tiled hard worn flooring carried with it no personality at all. The wall-mounted HoloNet viewer, and just below it, a R-Unit recharger were the only things to remotely be considered as decorations. The ceiling bore the crest of the Republic. There was nothing of Anakin here, she surmised. No pictures of any kind. No items that spoke of the man she loved. No plants, nor anything else alive at all. It was a simple room with a bed and a refresher. It was a place to sleep, and no more than that. "Do all the rooms look this way?"
"Yes, except Obi-Wan and I are the only two individuals on this ship who have a room all to ourselves. Clones share rooms four at a time. We also have the biggest rooms, for what it's worth," he told her from his place by the door, standing just inside. His followed his wife as she toured his quarters, moving past the bed where she traced her fingers over the blue covers that kept him warm at night. He could feel her mood grow somber as she moved about. "Tell me what you're thinking?"
"I'm thinking that my husband deserves better than this," Padme responded quickly. She turned to him, then looked away, out through the glass hub into black of outer space. "But this is a time of war and so many across the galaxy are suffering in ways far worse than your humble accommodations." She heard him walk up behind her. Instinctively, she leaned back against him the moment his arms slid around her waist. Her hands rested over his, covering both the flesh and the gloved metal of the man she loved. Her eyes shut briefly while in his safe embrace. "I needed to see where you slept, Ani. I try so hard to picture you somewhere peaceful and quiet. It helps me rest when you're not with me."
"My offer to disappear still stands, you know?" He enjoyed her amusement, and knew her answer before she gave it. "I know, I know. We must accept our duty."
"It's nice to know you listen to me."
"I always listen to you," he sought to remind her.
"No, you don't."
"How could you say such a thing to me?"
"Remember that time at the Lake Retreat a year ago when my sister stopped by unexpectantly?" Padme felt her husband tuck her head underneath his chin. "I told you to wait in our bedroom until she left, but you saw fit to come out and say hi."
"I felt it would be the polite thing to do."
"Did you truly believe she would think you were protecting me again?"
"It wouldn't have been the first time."
"Yes, but last time she did not meet you walking out of my bedroom without wearing a shirt, barefoot, and grinning like a well satisfied man."
She had him on that one. "Okay, so next time I'll listen to you."
"You should always listen to me and do everything I say."
"That sounds like a dictatorship."
"Well," she reasoned with a smirk adorning her lips. "If it works."
"Funny, Padme. Real funny." He spun her around in his arms, leaned down and kissed her for the longest time, holding her so tight around her waist. Their time was fast running out, and both knew it, as well as avoided talking about it. They'd woken from a blissful sleep only thirty short minutes ago. After a dual refresher visit of the most pleasurable kind, Padme made her request. The 'Sandstorm' was due to arrive any minute, and with it's arrival would come yet another separation. For how long was anyone's guess.
Padme's emotions washed over her so quickly and she began crying even before they stopped kissing. She wept softly against his chest. Her hands clutched his cloak the whole while he held her through it all.
Anakin felt helpless to ease her pain. Comfort was all he could offer, and he realized it was enough. Padme cried until she stopped almost instantly, and when she lifted her face from his chest, the strong-willed, proud Senator Padme Amidala had returned. No less of a woman, only the one she needed to be in public. "Are you alright?"
"I won't be until you're home with me for good and this war is over with. But until then I will be alright. And so will you."
The true strength in their little family resided in her most of all. Anakin didn't worry about himself. Reckless and overly aggressive, he'd throw himself into any situation. Just another walk through the fire. As long as his angel could persevere, then he would too. "I don't know what to say."
"Then say nothing, because nothing will make this better for either of us. It's our lives right now. We just have to make the best of it." He nodded his understanding, though he didn't like their reality one bit. Suddenly, his comm-link went off.
"Yes, Master?" Anakin answered, holding it to his face.
'The Sandstorm' has arrived. Kindly escort any remaining Senators who are touring the ship to the hanger bay. A shuttle is waiting to transport them.'
Anakin sighed as he held Padme closer. "I'll be right there, Master.'
Their time together has ended. A brief stay amidst their commitments during a time of war. Why did it seem as though no matter how hard they fought against it, fate found a way to pull them apart.
"We have to go," Padme said with little emotion. Willing herself, she slipped from his arms. She took a long, deep, cleansing breath. She wiped her face clean of any evidence that she had been crying, and walked towards the door. Anakin followed her, quiet and sullen. "Ani, I love you. And when this war is over, we will never be apart again."
"Do you promise?" he teased in a moment he truly needed something lighthearted.
Padme smiled. The Jedi Master to be still held enough of that little boy him in that he still needed promises. "I promise."
Anakin bent down to her and stole one last, long kiss for the cold, lonely days ahead. "I love you, Padme."
"I know," she kissed him again, then turned away from him and opened the door. They took to the hallway as friends from afar. They walked down a winding corridor, took a deathly quiet elevator ride, and soon found themselves entering the crowded hanger bay. Ahead of them was the transport that would take her to the 'Sandstorm' and away from the one she loved. Alas, that was unavoidable.
Anakin made sure to walk a few steps apart from Padme, for appearances sake. They did not say goodbye, for they promised they never would. And when she walked away from him without a last word, he felt no anger when she never looked back. This was there way. He followed with his eyes until she rejoined her group, greeted Captain Typho, and then Obi-Wan as the other Senators conferred around them. Hugs and handshakes later, she boarded her shuttle. The ramp door shut ever so slowly as he watched the blue-white heat of the shuttles engines ignite. It lifted from the floor, it's landing gear retracted, and it took off, out into space towards the 'Sandstorm.'
At least they had a few hours to remind them what was most important, and what they were truly fighting this war for.
"You seem well rested," Obi-Wan greeted him as he approached.
"I actually enjoyed some uninterrupted sleep."
Standing beside his former student, Obi-Wan felt his somber mood, though found him in far better shape than he was hours ago. There was a spark to his sprit. A recharging of sorts. He had little doubt why that was. "It's a good thing you did. It may be a long while before you can again."
Such a curious thing to say, Anakin thought. "I'm sure you could use some too," he stated, arms behind him. "Sleep, I mean."
With a touch of the Sith in his grin, Obi-Wan replied, "Indeed."
Chapter 2 "Shadows of Winter" coming soon.