Alternate Universe – What would happen if Padme survived and Darth Vader finds out?
"The lights in the valley outshine the sun."
- Serapim Sigrist
"My heart has four empty rooms
Three wait for lightening
And one waits for you"
The procession moved slowly along the main thoroughfare of the city. The people were silent as Senator Amidala's body passed them.
The current Queen of Naboo pondered the fate of the Senator who had once held the same public office as herself as she walked in the procession behind her body. The Senator's career had been an extraordinary one. She had been the youngest Queen ever voted into office. The people of Naboo wanted to extend her office beyond the legal time limit but Padme herself had refused to break the law of Naboo in order to retain power. Padme was a true democrat. The Senate had wanted her after that and Padme had bowed to the new Queen's wishes to represent them there. She had been a good Senator but the tide of change had left no place for a true democrat in the Senate any longer. Padme had lived only long enough to see the ideal of liberty dissolve in the space of one of Darth Sidious's speeches.
With the Jedi and the Separatists all but gone, Palpatine now ruled unopposed. The Senate was made up of Palpatine's puppets and was, in reality, an empire ruled by the Sith.
The young Queen wondered whether Padme was lucky in a sense, not to have lived to see all this. She looked around at the faces of the crowds around her. Padme had been their most popular Queen. They mourned her dreadfully. The young Queen knew she was loved herself but Padme had been a shining star of public life. How did Padme's life end up like this, she wondered?
The Queen watched patiently with the crowd as Padme's body was put into a small carrier. She was to be buried by the lake that she had loved from the time she was a small girl. Obi Wan Kenobi was to accompany the body there. As the doors closed, a collective sigh went up from the watching crowd. It was to be the last time anyone was to see the former Senator.
"You can get up now Padme," Obi Wan said quietly once the doors were safely sealed.
Padme opened her eyes reluctantly and looked at Obi Wan without expression. She got up as the craft lifted from the ground.
"There was quite a crowd there," Obi Wan said with a wry smile.
"Everybody loves a funeral," Padme replied tiredly. "I forgot to ask you earlier, does Yoda know I'm still alive?"
"Yes, Yoda and I are the only ones who do know. The droids have had their memory erased," Obi Wan replied, helping Padme out of the carrier she had lain in for the procession.
"The Queen doesn't know either?" Padme asked.
"No. The fewer who know, the better," he replied. "What I do need to ask you about is Luke and Leia. It would be too dangerous for them if you were with them constantly. Anakin may still be able to sense you are alive and if he does, he will find you even if he has to tear every solar system apart to do so. If he finds the children too, there will be no hope of them being brought up away from the Dark Side of the Force," Obi Wan said quietly.
Padme looked at Obi Wan for a long time without saying anything. "I don't want to be kept completely away from them. I want to at least visit them occasionally," she said in a low, firm voice.
"I'll see what Yoda has to say. If need be, I'll persuade them to let you have access. But do you agree that they can't stay with you?" Obi Wan pressed.
"Yes," Padme said with some of her old resolution. "I won't have my children exposed to what their father could teach them even if it is only a small chance that he could find us," she said.
"Good," Obi Wan said with obvious relief.
- - -
Padme and Obi Wan spoke little for the rest of the journey. After they had disembarked and Padme's trunk of belongings had been taken off the craft, Obi Wan searched Padme's face carefully. "Will you be alright here on your own for a couple of days? Once I have news of Luke and Leia, I will come straight back to see you but for now, I must go and see about arrangements for them," he said kindly.
Padme managed to smile at her old friend. "I'll be fine, Obi Wan. I'm more concerned about the twins for now. I won't rest until I know they are in safe hands."
"They are in safe hands," Obi Wan said reassuringly and re-boarded the craft. "You know how to reach me should you need anything," he called out and then took off.
Padme looked around her attractive apartment set in the side of one of the lakeside hills. It was not the palace she was used to but it was still extremely comfortable. She was fortunate to have been a Queen and a Senator. It had given her financial independence and a comfortable standard of living for the rest of her life.
Slowly she sat down on the one of the enormous, padded chairs and looked out on the lake without really seeing it. What she had told Obi Wan was true; she could not rest until she knew Luke and Leia were as safe as they could be.
As for Anakin… She pushed the thought away. That wound was still to tender to explore.
- - -
Darth Vader shut himself in his chambers and went into a deep meditation. He allowed his thoughts to reach out to Padme using the power of the Force. Once again, they came back to him empty. One part of him did not believe that Darth Sidious had told the truth that Padme and their baby was dead. Another part of him was terrified that it really was true. If he could just get some sense of her presence then he would know that Darth Sidious had lied to him.
When he had first been told, they had to sedate him. The drugs they used were powerful. The Force was so strong with him that he resisted even the physical effects of the strong sedatives. Finally, he had succumbed and they had kept him that way for several weeks. He had lost his opportunity to use the Force to find her earlier.
He had been trying now for weeks to sense where she was. He was beginning to fear that Darth Sidious had told him the truth. Something obsessive drove him on despite the lack of results. If he gave up, he was afraid he might go a bit mad. Endless restlessness drove him on.
- - -
Padme was restless in her new home. The surrounds were familiar to her and she felt as safe as she ever expected to again but there were not enough distractions. Without her work as a Senator, she felt lost. She had been active from such a young age that it was now almost impossible to be still.
Of course, being alone without much to do meant she brooded. Mostly, she thought of her babies. Luke had his father's colouring and Leia had her own. She would miss everything in their lives. She would miss them as babies, as toddlers, as children and as young adults. She would have very little say in their day to day life and no influence over who they would one day become. Padme had always known she would pay a price for allowing her love for Anakin to influence her choices. She would never have guessed that it would mean not being able to bring up their children. She had expected to one day lose her career but she had thought she could take up a private career once that happened. Now she had to not only retire from work altogether but hide like the fugitive she was. She had to disappear. Loving Anakin hadn't just cost her public life, it had cost her everything.
She was surprised that she wasn't angry with Anakin in the knowledge of this. The only person she was angry with was herself. If she hadn't given in to her love for him, she would still be a Senator and perhaps Anakin would never have been tempted to join the Dark Side in order to 'save her'. Despite this, the thought nagged at her that if it was in Anakin's nature to become a Sith, he would have done so anyway. Also, that a man who genuinely wanted to 'save her' would probably not try and choke the breath out of her either.
The memory of the last time she had seen Anakin came to her so vividly that it cut through her brain like a knife and the merciful numbness that had shrouded her since her 'death' fell away. Suddenly she was crying so hard that it was difficult to draw breath. Her own sobs were choking her. She felt frightened by the intensity of her own emotions. She was usually so controlled but she couldn't control the way she felt. She was afraid she would always feel like this and she didn't know how she'd cope.
- - -
On the bridge of the Command Ship, Darth Vadar was taking the last watch alone. Suddenly he felt his breathing constrict. The machines that controlled his lungs regulated his breathing but the choking sensation did not leave him. He staggered and fell heavily into the nearest chair and wondered for half a second if his life support was about to fail when he realized that the feeling was not his own, he was receiving it from someone else via the Force. He forced himself to remain calm but it only took another half second for him to know who it was.
Every sense sharpened instantly and he probed the far reaches of the galaxy with his mind, reaching toward the feeling. All his muscles (what was left of them) were rigid with tension. The thought flashed across his mind like lightening that Darth Sidious had lied, she was alive! He felt fury at the lie so strongly that he shuddered and gripped the armrests of the chair until they bent and twisted under the pressure. Immediately after that was the thought that she had deliberately faked her own death and hidden from him. If he had been standing, the thought would have brought him to his knees. It took his breath away that his angel would feel the need to hide from him or it would have, it he wasn't forced to breathe whether he wanted to or not.
Underlying this rush of emotions was the sensation of choking. Why couldn't Padme catch her breath? He made himself calm down and relax. If anyone was hurting her, he would find them and kill them but he would never know unless he regained control of himself. He deliberately relaxed his muscles and quieted his mind.
He tried not to wince as the emotions that came to him battered him like a wave. There was a fathomless sorrow, there was grief, there was regret and there was anger. There was fear too but not the sharp fear that accompanies being attacked by another but a fear borne of overpowering emotions. She was afraid of drowning in them.
He reached out to her with all the power of the Force that he could muster. It went out with laser-like directness, borne on the tide of their combined emotions. He knew the second he made contact; he felt the shock of her mind recognizing his instantly. Then before he could communicate, she withdrew suddenly and completely from him. It was as immediate as a light going out. He roared in pure frustration, leaping out of the chair. He wrenched it from the bolts in the floor and threw it at the heavy doors behind him. It crumpled like foil and slid to the ground.
He knew she would heavily guard her mind in future. He had lost his first and best chance not only to communicate with her but to find her at all. He could feel warm dampness underneath his mask but he could not dry his own tears. It was just as well his face was completely hidden both from his men and from Darth Sidious. He would not have been able to hide his emotions from them but it was essential that he did if he was ever to succeed in finding his wife. From now on, it was his first priority.
- - -
Padme was frozen in shock. She had no doubt at all that Anakin had made contact with her. She had felt him as strongly as if he was sitting next to her, talking to her. It was like he had just been in the room. His presence still hung heavily in the air.
Fortunately, her mind had instinctively slammed shut on him before he could find out anything. Her heart started pounding in fear. Had he sensed where she was? Had he had the chance to glean any information, particularly about the babies?
She slowly let her breath out. She honestly didn't think so. It had happened so fast, like a millisecond of time. And yet, his presence had been so intense.
The worst thing was that he now knew she was alive. If Obi Wan was right, Anakin would tear every star system apart until he found her. That could endanger Luke and Leia. If Darth Sidious found out that Anakin was trying to find her, it was likely that he would try and find her first in order to kill her. The last thing the Sith Lord wanted was for his apprentice to have a vulnerable spot in his wife.
Padme knew she was in terrible trouble.
Half an hour later, Obi Wan contacted her via hologram to give her information about Luke and Leia. Obi Wan could see immediately that something was wrong.
"Padme, what is it?" he asked in his soft, well-bred tones, his face creased into a frown.
Padme opened her mouth to answer but no words came out. She took a deep breath and tried again. "It's Anakin," she said finally, drawing in a shaky breath. "He's made contact. He knows I'm alive. Where are the children? Are they safe?" she asked in a rush.
Obi Wan's eyes widened. "What do you mean, Padme? How could he make contact?"
"I-I don't know. It was like he was here but he wasn't. I don't mean physically… but I sensed his presence so strongly that it frightened me," she said, struggling to explain.
"He's used the Force to connect with your mind," Obi Wan said flatly. "I thought he would try it but as he hadn't succeeded so far, I thought he wouldn't be able to. I will ask Yoda to give you lessons on how to shield your mind. How long did you feel him there?" Obi Wan asked seriously.
"A millisecond," Padme replied. "It was like my own mind slammed shut all of a sudden and he was gone."
Obi Wan's frown cleared slightly and he regarded her with interest. "It's fortunate that you're so strong-minded Padme. Still, Yoda could help you learn how to keep up a permanent mind shield."
"Tell me about Luke and Leia," Padme pleaded, eager to hear the news.
Obi Wan examined her carefully. "Do you think it's wise if I give you the details now that Anakin knows you're alive?" he asked gently.
Padme's face tightened into a mask of tension. "Don't tell me where they are just tell me what Yoda decided," she finally said quietly.
"He decided to split them up, that way if Darth Sidious discovered one he would not discover them both. As far as he knows, there was only one baby," Obi Wan explained.
Padme nodded. She didn't like her babies split up but she saw Yoda's wisdom in this decision.
"Leia has been adopted by a prominent family. She will want for nothing and have a very privileged life. She will also be much loved. Luke is with a family that was close to Anakin's mother - I won't tell you where - and will also be greatly loved. He will not be as wealthy or privileged or powerful as Leia but he will lead a healthy, peaceful life surrounded by people who knew his family well," Obi Wan said soothingly.
Padme took a deep breath and nodded slowly. The painful ache in her chest suddenly increased in intensity until it felt unbearable. She wondered if her heart would actually rend in two, so great was the pain. She was fiercely glad that Yoda had made such wise choices for her children and that they would be safe but it all seemed so final all of a sudden. With their future decided, there was no going back.
Suddenly the sensation of Anakin was so strong again that Padme gasped and turned around, half expecting to see him standing just behind her.
"What is it, Padme?" Obi Wan asked sharply, straining to see what had frightened her.
"Anakin," was all Padme could say. Her face had gone white to the lips.
"Block him again!" Obi Wan commanded his face tense.
But once again, his presence had only lasted a millisecond. Padme shook her head. "It was only brief again," she said shakily.
"I'm going to come and fetch you Padme," Obi Wan said decisively. "Pack your belongings but not good clothes. I won't tell you where I am taking you in case Darth Vader visits you again."
Padme nodded slowly. She could not bring herself to call Anakin his new name but she had noticed that Obi Wan had called him Darth Vader from the time of their final battle on Mustafar.
Padme's hands shook as she packed some basic clothing and toiletries. Her body was still weak from the difficult birth and the strain had been too much. Would she spend her life packing and running – living out of a suitcase? She checked her clock. She had time for one swim in the lake before Obi Wan arrived. It may be the last time she ever swam in her beloved lake. She was not strong enough to go far but that didn't matter. She just wanted to be in the water of Naboo one last time.
- - -
Less than an hour later, it happened again. He felt a pain in his chest and at first, wondered if he were having a heart attack. Once more he realized that it was not his own pain he was feeling. Immediately, his mind went out in search of her. He was surer this time. He knew he could reach her. It only took a few seconds and again, her emotions hit him full force almost overwhelming him. Again, he sensed grief but it had a different quality. It was filled with longing rather than regret this time. The feeling of loss and helplessness was profound. Oddly enough, underlying this was a kind of fierce gladness. He tried to pinpoint what these emotions were connected to but again, her mind crashed shut like an iron grill. Tears of pure frustration sprang to his eyes. He felt her emotions acutely but could glean no information from them. Until he knew what was hurting her, he could do nothing to help and that was unbearable. He groaned in frustration but the noise that emitted from behind his mask was more like a growl. His only relief was in destruction. This time, he shattered a soldier droid when it dared to interrupt his solitude on the bridge.
Darth Vader knew he needed to make plans but he was too overwhelmed by making contact with his wife to think clearly straight away. He needed to calm down. He needed space to process everything that had happened.