Disclaimer: Not Lucas, or Darth Kerichi, although I have been listening to the Empire's Theme a lot! Jedi Knight Padme and other Star Wars fans (like myself) inspired me to write this for everyone who knows that searching your feelings is a pathway to the strongest force in the galaxy- love. This fic is rated T- Suitable for teens, 13 years and older for minor suggestive adult themes, i.e. kissing and implied intimacy. Things that make life worthwhile. :D

The Force of Love

Pleasure seekers from multiple star systems filled the crowded hotel bar on Arden Prime. The water planet was a fashionable retreat for those from less temperate worlds. Lush resorts famous for catering to every whim and offering water sports of every kind imaginable were the official tourist draw. Unofficially, the infamous motto of 'what happens on Arden, stays on Arden' made the planet a popular rendezvous location for illicit lovers and those seeking a discreet paramour.

The lone woman seated at the bar stared fixedly at her drink. Her lovely features and long chestnut curls attracted the interest of various males looking for a companion for the evening. Over the last hour, several had attempted to pick her up. The 'I'm waiting for someone' reply in a cold tone quickly sent would be lovers looking for easier game.

"May I buy you another drink?"

Without taking her eyes from the goblet rim she was circling with a fingertip, the incognito Senator Amidala of Naboo declined, "No thank you, I'm waiting for someone."

"He's not here, but I am."

Sighing inwardly, Padme met the gaze of a lava miner, from the faint sulfur smell of his clothing. As the closest pleasure planet to the Outer Rim, Arden Prime benefited from lonely miners eager to spend their hard earned credits on a good time. Levelly, she insisted, "I'm not interested."

The miner was tall, dark, and handsome, and obviously not used to being turned down. His smile turned ugly. "I could make you interested."

Padme closed her eyes, remembering her husband's teaching and concentrating on feeling The Force. Drawing upon it, after a deep, slow breath, she gazed at the man and said persuasively, "You don't want to waste your time. Go try your line somewhere else."

He blinked at her and then growled dismissively, "I'm not going to waste my time here; there are other bars with more beautiful women."

Amused, the petite woman smiled while she watched the man stalk off.

"I don't believe any woman is more beautiful than you."

Her heart leapt. Turning, Padme's smile widened until her cheeks hurt. Sliding off the stool, she took a step toward the most compelling man she'd ever known- her husband Anakin. She responded the same way she always did when he complimented her, "It's because I'm so in love."

Anakin laughed with joy as his wife threw herself into his arms. Tightening the embrace, he whispered against her hair, "It feels like we've been apart for a lifetime."

Voice trembling, she said, "I've missed you."

He gazed into eloquent brown eyes. The Jedi's mouth curled at the corners while lowering to hers. "Show me how much."

Anakin kissed her softly, a tender press of lips on lips. Reserved as ever, she protested, "Not here…"

He cupped her cheek, kissing her forehead, eyelids, and cheeks before smiling against her mouth. "Yes, here." No one in this bar or on this planet would recognize them as Jedi and Senator. In this place, they were just another pair of lovers. Wanting to show his love openly, Anakin closed his lips over Padme's, pressing until hers parted. When slender fingers twined in his hair, he delved into her mouth, caressing her tongue with his until she sighed with pleasure. Satisfied with making a public show of the feelings he was normally forced to keep private; Anakin lifted his head and urged, "Let's go to our room. I want to show how much I've missed you."

Her blushing nod of agreement made him long to toss her over his shoulder, but he held her hand instead. The walk out of the bar and to the elevator seemed to take forever. Patience was one of the many Jedi virtues he'd never mastered. The lift was made of glass. A view of the island-dotted cerulean sea made other passengers gasp in admiration. Anakin's intense gaze remained focused on his wife.

She smiled almost shyly while showing him their suite. He dutifully nodded when she enthused about the balcony's view, giving it a cursory glance before leading her away. "Show me the bedroom."

Suppressing his passionate nature while they were apart made Anakin long to express it in every way possible whenever he and Padme got a chance to be together. The thought of making use of the first horizontal surface the moment they entered their rooms had been tempting . He knew, however, that his wife needed to be reassured of his love, to be wooed with tender kisses and caresses before her emotional needs transformed into physical. So instead of yanking his clothing off and expecting her to do the same, he slowly pushed the straps of her dress down her shoulders. Soft, light kisses and words of love led to deep, ardent exchanges and complete satisfaction of body and soul.

Lying on her side, with her head propped up by a hand, Padme Skywalker watched her husband sleep. The blue moon that seemed to hover outside their balcony illumined features that seemed endearingly boyish when relaxed. His tall, muscular frame shifted in response to some dream. Her gaze flickered over the light brown hair streaked by the sun, the handsome face, sensual lips, and the defined planes of his chest. She couldn't hold back a soft laugh. Anakin was no boy- he was an amazing man. Serving her people as Senator was a noble calling, but it didn't fulfill her half as much as being in her husband's arms.

Not for the first time, Padme wished that things could be different. She wished that the Jedi way wasn't so ascetic and narrow, that the Order didn't state that to serve, a Jedi must give up all rights to a life and love of his own. Feel no love but the sterile devotion to others. Anakin was The Chosen One; his destiny was greater than an ordinary Jedi's. Why couldn't his great purpose include a greater capacity for love?

"You look upset. What's wrong?"

He rolled to his side, facing her. His face changed from sleepy to sharp awareness in an instant. She shook her head. "Nothing." With a determined smile, Padme teased, "I don't get to see you very often, so I can't help wanting to soak up every moment I can." Pointing to a small scar on his lower abdomen, she asked, "What happened?"

He shrugged. "Droid."

His fingers began sifting through her hair. She stroked his cheek. "I've heard rumors that the Council will be sending you and Obi Wan to the Outer Rim to track General Grievous. Is that true?"

"Yes. Clone Intelligence Units have narrowed his possible locations to a system in the Outer Rim. We'll be heading out right after…" His eyes lowered to watch his fingers glide down her throat and lower, "…I return."

He was trying to distract her from thinking about their upcoming separation. Responding to the persuasion of his lips and body, Padme allowed him to cloud her mind and senses with a sensual magic that had nothing to do with Jedi Mind Tricks.

Two days later, Anakin raced his Jet Glider across crystal blue water. Looking over at Padme, he shouted, "Watch this!"

Pulling up sharply, he performed a flip before landing near her. The resulting splash soaked his wife, causing her suit to cling in a way that was truly inspiring. For some odd reason, she didn't appreciate his uninhibited laughter. Flipping her high ponytail back from where it had flopped forward to cling wetly to her face, she smiled wickedly. Revving her thrusters, she leaned sideways and sent a deluging spray over him. He shook back his hair and grinned when she threw a challenging look and took off in a burst of speed that had him scrambling to follow.

She hurtled toward a small island. By the time he reached the shallows, Padme had already brought her glider ashore and stood waiting for him with her hand shielding her eyes from the tropical sun. Dragging his glider alongside hers, Anakin scooped her up and said, "Where to, my Queen?"

Her rare giggle warmed like the sunlight. "Follow the path, my Jedi Knight."

Padme's arms twined around his neck, her smile telling him that she was enjoying their time together as much as he was. The path led to a small waterfall, and a picnic waiting on a blanket in a small clearing beside it. Setting her down on the soft red fabric, he smiled. "When did you arrange this?"

"While you were sleeping…"

Eagerly reaching for a container of fruit, he admonished, "I love this, but you need to sleep too."

He watched her smile dim. "I'll sleep when you're gone." Making an obvious effort be cheerful, Padme added flirtatiously, "That way we can be together in my dreams until you return."

Reaching over to kiss her full on the mouth, he assured, "Nothing will stop me from coming back to you. Have faith." Looking away, he confessed, "Sometimes, it's hard for me to have faith in the Order. I get so frustrated, always having to conceal my thoughts and feelings, knowing that I'll never be the Jedi my master wants me to be." Controlling the anger that burned every time he thought of the Council, of his worry that he would never earn their trust or take his rightful place as a Jedi Master, Anakin smiled crookedly. "Yoda would say..." Scrunching his face, he imitated the Master's voice with uncanny accuracy, "Anger is a path to the Dark Side." Her startled laughter encouraged him to continue after grinning, "Admiration leads to kissing which leads to love…"

Padme joined in, "Which is a path to the Dark Side…"

Their shared laughter eased the pain that came from living a lie in order to fulfill his dreams and destiny. After lunch, they took a swim in the cool, pure water of the pool. Kissing beneath the streaming waterfall was an experience Anakin knew he would dream about on future nights when he had only the stars for company.

Standing on the large open balcony overlooking the moonlit sea, Padme spun around when music wafted out from the lounge behind her. Anakin stepped out of the shadows and said, "Dance with me."

Fiercely glad that she'd bought the revealing gown of ice blue silk that was Anakin's favorite, she took his hand and smiled. Into his arms was the only place she wanted to go. Close dancing became a swaying embrace. His hands roamed her bare back.

Tracing her ear with his lips, he said huskily, "One day, after I become a Jedi Master, we'll tell the Council about us. However they react, we'll be together." His arms held her close. "I won't lose you Padme."

Her throat began to tighten and ache. She tried to hide her fear that one day, he would leave and not return, but her smile was wobbly. "I don't want to lose you either, Anakin. I can't live without you."

He bent and captured her mouth, using the kiss to convince her that nothing would keep him from coming back. Meeting his passion with her own, Padme let the power of The Force in Anakin and his strength of will give her the faith to believe it. When forceful kisses turned softer and sweeter, she caressed his face. "Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo, when there was nothing but our love."

Anakin smiled and began removing the jeweled pins that held up her hair. Later, when they lay tangled together, unwilling to waste a moment of their last night in sleep, he vowed, "There will never be anything more important than our love."

A/N: I hope you enjoyed the story, and the lines I used from Episode 3 to foreshadow and give perspective on their feelings and relationship. Personally, I found Yoda's 'Fear of loss is a path to the dark side, train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose' advice rather craptacular, and wished Anakin would've said 'Up yours' and run off with Padme- but that would've ruined the series. (Sighs heavily like Napoleon Dynamite) I almost used the planet Ando located in the Middle Rim for their rendezvous, but that water world has nasty walrus-faced natives (remember the alien Obi-Wan sliced the arm off in the Mos Eisley cantina?) and they only have swamp-covered islands while I needed a pleasure world conducive to romance! If this story was a pleasure to read, please review!