Chapter Eighteen

Anakin's fingers rested numbly on the controls of his ship as he piloted his way off of Naboo and towards Coruscant. He wasn't sure where he really wanted to be. Naboo held so many beautiful memories, yet just as many painful ones that he had lost count. And she was there. But that could be looked at as either a good or a bad thing as well. Then there was Coruscant, dizzyingly busy with city life, which had never really appealed to him, but then again, she wasn't there. And that could be looked at as either a good or a bad thing as well also.

He sighed and leaned back in the pilot's seat, glancing carefully at the clock. Well, she was probably well on her way to being married now. He had given her every possible opportunity to abort and maybe even come to him, and even when his hopes were fading fast, he had waited until the last possibly moment to leave for Coruscant and had left the minute the ceremony was to start.

Despite his best efforts to resist, he flipped on the holonet that rested in the cockpit, looking for some sign that she had indeed gotten married. He immediately turned the volume up as the words came pouring out of it:

"…it appears that Senator Amidala has left the church. She apparently refused to recite the vows, then fled out of the church. No word yet on her whereabouts or the current state of Senator Organa. Senator Amidala and Senator Organa became engaged one year ago at the…"

Anakin switched it off with trembling fingers, not needing to hear anymore. She did it. She really did it! He couldn't believe what he had just heard, but he knew that it was true. He was bursting with pride for the woman he loved and realized that it could only mean that there was a chance she still loved him too. Even if she didn't, he told himself firmly, he needed to know. And he had to congratulate her.

With his mind made up, his now steady hands turned the controls back to Naboo, headed for the one place he knew she would go to for solace.

Padme twirled around in the grass, her skirts flaring out around her and she laughed. It seemed like she couldn't stop laughing today. It just spilled out of her and gave her more of a relief than she could have ever imagined laughing could give. Now she was dancing, twirling her arms out in front of her, her laughter floating up into the wind.

"What are you laughing about?"

She froze at his voice, stronger than she had remembered it, and now it also held a hint of laughter in it. She turned, her dance now forgotten, and she looked into the face of the man she had thought she'd never see again. His face held an amused grin and she found herself smiling back at him.

"I am laughing because I'm free."

His grin widened and he took another step closer to her, folding his arms to his chest in mock disapproval. "And that's funny?"

She laughed at that and replied easily. "No, it's not funny. It's wonderful and glorious and triumphant and everything else I never knew I could feel. I'm free, Anakin, of all of it. I never have to see him again. I never have to do anything I don't want to do ever again."

He couldn't help but laugh right along with her. Her laughter was so infectious that he thought he would burst if he didn't join her. He knew he was bursting anyway though. The love and the pride he felt for her at that moment had never been stronger. She was radiantly beautiful, more so than he had ever seen her be, and he certainly knew the reason for it. And she had every reason to be radiant now. And he had to resist every urge to reach out and touch her.

"I'm so happy for you, Padme. I wanted this for you. I really did. I can't tell you…"

"Wait, I thought you were going to Coruscant?" She interrupted.

"I was. But then I heard that you left Organa at the altar on the holonet and I couldn't resist coming here to congratulate you."

Her heart nearly fell onto the grass as he spoke his last words. That was it? He came all this way just to congratulate her and wish her well? Well, if he was going to do that, then he could just leave right now and be done with it.

"So you're leaving right away again? You're not going to stay?"

He shifted nervously and deliberately refused to meet her eyes. This was exactly what he had feared in coming here. He had known that this would happen and that he would only have to tell her his decision had already been made…but had it really? Could he really walk away from her again and really be able to move on with his life as if nothing had ever happened here? He knew that wasn't possible. Not ever for the Chosen One. But still, he had to know just what her intentions really were.

"I don't know. I mean, there really isn't anything left for me here, is there?"

She eyed him carefully, toying with the idea of simply throwing her arms around him and kissing her with all the passion she possessed. Instead, she decided to play his game, only this time, she wasn't planning on letting him win.

"I think there might be."

His eyes immediately flew to crash with hers in mixed shock, surprise, and joy. He had always known there was something there for him on Naboo; he had always just thought that she had never wanted it.

"Really? I've always thought there wasn't."

She smiled softly and closed the distance between them.

"There always has been. Ever since the day a certain little boy asked me if I was an angel, there has been. It's just that I didn't know it until a few hours ago." She whispered into his ear before catching his mouth into a passionate kiss.

He broke away several minutes later, much to his dismay, but he needed to do this the right way. "Padme, I know…"

"No, please, just listen to me. I realized something today while I was putting on this stupid dress. Bail was saying horrible things to me…"

"Wait, what? He was…was he hurting you? I'll kill him…if he even laid a hand on your hair, I'll…"

"Anakin," she whispered softly while putting a finger to his lips. "Let me finish please."

He sighed and held up his hands in defeat, which she took as her signal to continue.

"Bail wasn't being very polite to me; I'll just put it at that. I realized that there was no way I was going to live with that man every day of my life. And just like that, everything else fell into place. Once that decision was made, everything else seemed so easy, so incredibly simple that I had to laugh at it. I was so stupid for believing I could give you up and marry that…that…I don't even know the right word for him, but I was so stupid for believing I could compromise everything I had believed in, everything I had ever felt just because I was my stubbornness won over my heart. I'm never going to do that again, I can promise you that. I don't need you anymore, Anakin. Not the way I used to. I don't need you to make everything better because I know now that I can do that myself. I don't need you, but I want you. I want you to be there for me."

He smiled faintly and placed a tender kiss on her forehead. Well, it was now or never.

"Padme, I know that this isn't happening exactly the way you imagined it, but I'm going to do my best, alright?"

She nodded, despite her confusion, but then that quickly faded when she saw him bend down on one knee.

"I've never felt the way I feel before when I'm with you. You're free now, and I'm so happy for you, and you did that completely on your own. But you know what? I'm free too, and that's entirely because of you. I'm completed, and hopelessly in love with you that I can't even stand to be away from you for two seconds. You make me whole, Padme. And there's no where I'd rather be than right here with you, in this moment, just loving you for your strength, for your determination, even for your stubbornness. And you have never looked as beautiful as you do right now that I can hardly keep my hands to myself. What I'm trying to say, what I really mean is, will you do me this honor and become my wife? I know we'll have to hide it but I know we…"

She cut him off by leaping into his arms and wrapping him in her love with the most passionate kiss either of them had ever experienced. Love and happiness surged through them both as she finally spoke her answer: "Yes, I will marry you. Yes, I will be your wife."

Only a few hours later, husband and wife stood out on the balcony that looked out onto the shimmering lake. Anakin gently took his new wife's hand in his and brought it to his lips as the holy man and their droids looked on.

As they looked out onto the lake, watching the glorious sunset that spread across it, the future had never seemed brighter. They were together, they were joined forever, and they were one. It was all either of them had ever wanted, and as they gazed at each other now, each realized that their lives had taken on greater meaning. He was meant to protect her, and now, he would give up his very soul if it meant she would be safe. And she, who had always been reserved and restrained, was bursting and basking in an even greater freedom that only the love her new husband could give her. She was meant to love him, no matter should befall them, no matter what obstacle thrown in their way, and she would stand by him until the breath left her lungs. Their destinies were entwined, long before this day, maybe even long before they had ever met. They were destined to love each other, even though it had taken them a considerable amount of time to realize this, but a fact is still a fact.

They gazed into each other's eyes and suddenly, the rest of the world was only a memory. All that remained was the two of them and their unfailing love. It had guided them through countless arguments, countless amounts of pain, countless bouts of stubbornness and they knew that it would not fail them as long as they lived. It had wavered, but it had always renewed itself even when it had seemed there was no hope. There was no more resisting it, no more fighting it, it was there, and it was real and it was true.


Look for the sequel, "Fix You" within the next few days. Thanks to everyone that's stuck with this. It's really meant a lot to me.