Ignite the Stars
She stared out over the skies of Coruscant, surveying only a small portion of what was hers. She was no one by birth, Queen and Senator by election and Empress of the galaxy by the power of one man; the man that she loved.
Empress Padme Skywalker stepped away from the railing of the balcony, but hesitated to go any further into the magnificent and monolithic Imperial Palace. It was always so dark within the Palace. It clung to the corners, swirling away from the light, but always present. It had taken her years to notice that trick of the shadows.
Those first years had been too filled with pain, worry and despair. The years that had followed had been long and in those years she had allowed herself so little introspection, fearful of what she would see. Everyone bore the marks of choices made in their past. Some were simply more visible than others.
She had made the choice that brought her to this night, over four decades ago, and she had been waiting for this night since that moment.
Padme shifted her shoulders, letting her robes fall in closer around her body before she stepped into the Palace. Immediately two courtiers stepped towards her. She waved them away. Normally she would have made an effort to be more attentive to the people who acted as her aides, but not tonight.
They stepped away from her quickly, uncertain how to respond to her dismissal, but afraid to be wrong. She ignored them as they scurried back from her. She didn't even respond as the two red cloaked guards fell into step beside her as she stepped out of her quarters and into the palace proper.
This would be the last night that the Royal Guards followed her along this path.
The chorus of voices brought Padme's focused walk up short. She stopped quickly and turned to face her children. Brother and sister stood side by side, still in their uniforms. Luke was wearing the traditional uniform of a Grand Moff, but it was accented by a sweeping black cape that contrasted sharply with his sister's clothing. Leia looked every part of the Imperial princess that she was. Her elaborate robes fell down off of her shoulders and swirled around her feet in a thick drape of fabric. Still her clothing showed as much of an Imperial style as her twin's. It was all sharp lines and harsh colors, but it still managed to retain some of the haunting, regal design that Naboo had once been famed for throughout the galaxy.
"Luke, Leia." Her voice was full of warmth for her children. Today had been the moment that their whole lives had been preparing them for and it was clear that they had been celebrating. Behind them in the corridor, she could see their consorts, standing uneasily with a small circle of guards surrounding them. They would never approach her as easily as her precious twins and with good reason. Few but her children would dare to approach her uninvited.
Luke swept into a gallant bow in front of her. He was her son. It was only in him that she saw the echoes of the woman that she had once been – that young champion of freedom and democracy. Leia tugged her brother's hand forward, ever impatient with him, as she reached her arms out to embrace her mother. It wasn't a sign of weakness as some might think, but a sign of the fierce emotions that made Leia who she was.
She released Padme and together the twins stepped back.
"We were just going out to celebrate, Mother." Luke flashed a grin, "After all it's not every day that your twin sister is placed in charge of the Imperial Senate."
Leia shot her brother a look that quieted, if not subdued him. "Mother, I have the reports in from Alderann, Nos Kalvn and Sen-Ket-Ton. Their report is not acceptable and they will be dealt with as soon as my dear twin consents to loan me a few of his precious ships."
Luke nodded his consent, willing to give his sister whatever she needed. However they treated others, their bond always forged a strong connection between them. They would always stand together.
"The project is actually running a month behind schedule. But I will insure that it is completed on time, even if I have to go supervise its final stages myself.
Padme nodded. She was, of course, familiar with her daughter's projects, but it was unimportant. She reached out to her daughter, her hand gently running down the side of her daughter's face and then her son's in a motherly caress.
"My precious twins," she murmured to herself, "so very different than what I'd dreamed."
Leia's voice was sharp, worry and surprise mixing together. Luke looked equally concerned.
"I have to go," Padme said softly and with one last look at her children, she turned away.
Two Royal guards stood in front of her, blocking any from entering the rooms in front of her.
"I would see my Lord Vader." Her voice carried a note of command that made it an order, not a request.
The two guards moved quickly to swing the doors open for her.
Trembling, Padme stepped into the darkened rooms. She didn't even flinch as the guards shut the doors behind her again with a heavy thud that echoed dully. She stood quietly within the darkness, adjusting to it. She didn't move to activate a light, but instead walked towards the center of the room.
"Ani," she called out softly into the darkness.
The room which had been silent before echoed with harsh mechanical breathing. She shivered, but stepped towards the sound. She held a hand out into the darkness and instead of soft, smooth leather, she felt cool, slick metal. She twined her fingers through the cold metal and let the solid, reassuring grip of those fingers wrap around hers.
Without a word, she led him after her out onto the open balcony. This night had been decades in the making. A rare clear, Coruscant night, the sky glittered with a thousand stars. His arms slipped down to her sides and she slid into his embrace without a hint of hesitation.
"I'm sorry, Angel."
She thought that she could hear a quaver in his voice, even as she knew that it wasn't possible. She looked into the reflective, opaque blackness that masked his eyes and marveled.
"I was right," but her voice was a sad as it was amazed. "There is still good in you." Over the years she had lost the glimpse of what she had once seen in him and in herself.
"Please, Angel, it's time."
She hadn't been strong enough once before, but she had to be or she would truly destroy the last traces of the man the she had loved.
"Forgive me," she whispered and raised her hands to reach up behind his neck. She gently released the clasp of his cape. It fell away. A hiss of air was released as she undid a second clasp. Her hands shook as she lifted his helmet away.
A tear trailed down the horribly scarred face as he looked into her eyes. She reached up tenderly to brush the tear away.
"I love you, Ani," she whispered, just before her lips brushed against his. He clung to her fiercely, and returned her kiss. Together they faded into the waiting embrace of the Force.