Title: When Angels Weep
Summary: Anakin has won the duel with Obi-Wan on Mustafar. Padmé must now manage to extricate herself and the babies from growing danger.
Disclaimer: Star Wars is the property of George Lucas. No disrespect is intended with this fic.
Notes: I started wondering what might have been different if Anakin had won and one thing led to another until I actually had a plot. I've tried to look at the events logically and hypothesize by the characterizations on screen what could have occurred, taking into account the loss of Obi-Wan Kenobi and the events that could not occur without him. A huge undertaking. This will be primarily from Padmé's POV and may not explore events through A New Hope.
Please be patient for new chapters.
Constructive criticism is welcome.
Anakin Skywalker stood over his former master, observing Obi-Wan's pain-filled writhings with something akin to enjoyment. He could not help the gloating words that leapt from his lips, nor the swell of pride in his chest at what he had accomplished. He found he did not want to.
"I'm the master now, Obi-Wan."
Obi-Wan's lightsaber had very nearly taken off his legs. If Anakin had been a fraction slower, the older man might now be standing in his place and Anakin would be the one on the ground. But he wasn't and Anakin was the victor. Well, he would be in a few minutes, after he finished the job. There was no doubt of that happening. Obi-Wan was too badly injured to retaliate. Anakin crouched down, watching the play of agony across Obi-Wan's features, drinking it in. The power he felt surging through him and about him was a high like he'd never before experienced. It was far greater than when he'd killed the Tuskan Raiders or the Jedi in the Temple, heady and sweet.
"You're a servant," the dying Jedi gasped. "A slave. You'll always be one in serving the dark side."
Stretching his hand out, he willed Obi-Wan's lightsaber to come to him. So, his old master thought him a slave? Anakin shook his head. He'd been a slave once. Never again. Just words. Obi-Wan was trying to get into his head, to twist him as he'd claimed Palpatine had already done. "I'm free, Obi-Wan. I'm free of the Jedi oppression. My eyes have been opened."
"Your eyes have been closed and you are blind."
His lips compressed into a thin line, eyes narrowing. "That's your opinion." He stood, contemplating giving his old master a shove into the flow of lava and watching him burn to death. "I don't have to listen to your opinions anymore."
Obi-Wan said nothing more, no pleas and no begging, only a pitying stare tinged with anguish. Anakin expected nothing less. This man would not admit wrong doing or the treachery of the Jedi. No, he firmly believed in the Jedi as good. Anakin gave him a last lingering glance, pushing memories of happy moments with this man into the back part of his mind. It was time to put away the past.
Anakin's lightsaber flashed downward a final time, silencing forever Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Slowly, taking the time to relish what he'd accomplished, Darth Vader set out back towards the landing pad. As he approached, he remembered unfinished business.
Padmé was in trouble. It didn't take a genius to figure that out, not with Palpatine's interested tone of voice upon hearing the news that she was alive and Obi-Wan Kenobi was dead. Not to mention that Anakin had ceased to be Anakin. She was neck deep and sinking, not in a position to take charge and save herself. A pregnant belly that got bigger by the day rather hampered quick movement at times.
Besides, she found fear of Anakin growing in her breast with every satisfied glance he turned her way. Fear. Her eyes closed a brief second. She'd never thought she'd ever have to fear Anakin. He was her Annie, her love, the one who made her whole. He completed her.
Padmé drew a long shaking breath.
Her Annie was gone, buried in this creature that inhabited his body. He was there, she knew he was, unable to wrench himself free. She couldn't believe anything else.
This man was not her husband. That was apparent in how he'd behaved upon entering the skiff. The man she'd loved would have held her, kissed her and cuddled her, his hands gentle upon her. As he'd stepped to her, she'd hoped he'd do those things; that she'd dreamed the entire moment on the landing pad. Padmé had held on to that hope with a desperation that startled her. She'd hoped they could still return to how they had been.
She'd dreamed, nothing more. She'd passed out from the fumes of this place, nothing more. Obi-Wan had lied, nothing more. Each thought had put hope inside her, a hope quickly snuffed out as he'd stopped beside her, looking down at her with eyes too cold to be her Annie's.
Dead eyes, as though a walking corpse stood at her side.
The man with her did none of those loving things she wanted. He did touch her, but as one would a treasured possession, with a satisfied sweep of a hand across her belly. There were no tender kisses upon her lips or the soft caress of his fingers on her cheek.
Obi-Wan is dead, he'd said. He can no longer poison you against me. Things will be fine, Padmé. You'll see. We'll be happy, like before.
He'd not understood her tears, brushing aside her protests that he wasn't her husband with stern words. He'd acted, played the part of Annie, a grotesque mimic of her husband.
You're confused. Of course I'm your husband. Who else would I be?
And then his anger had flared as she'd wept and turned her face away.
Stop crying. There will be no tears. I won't allow them.
She'd remembered his hand lifting on the landing pad, her throat closing up under his direction. His direction. Her husband had tried to kill her. The moment of realizing he would choke the life from her replayed over and over in her mind.
He had killed younglings. Anakin had given himself over to the dark side. He had become twisted and very, very...dangerous.
Padmé attempted to turn her mind to the twist of fate that put her here. The Jedi had been killed and with Obi-Wan's death, she presumed there were no more. Even if there were, she figured they'd be killed soon. No help for her. Obi-Wan would have helped her; would have taken her to safety.
Safety, her mind jeered. What sort of safety is there for you now?
Her heart was a constant pain in her chest, the baby thrashing in her belly as though in agreement with her heartbreak. There was no rescue and the man she'd always thought would protect her if she needed it was gone. Padmé was on her own.
Grief for the man who'd been and was no longer overtook her, wrapping her in a tight embrace that she could not free herself from. It stroked her hair and told her to cry, but then her glance fell on the doorway and she knew she couldn't, not in his hearing. She didn't want to be choked again.
Instead, Padmé lay still, hands stroking her belly, trying to ignore the nausea that accompanied the baby's turnings inside her. How long was she still? How long was she silent? How long exactly did her mind turn in circles of anguished thought? A sense of calm slowly settled over her, as a blanket being gently tucked across her body. In her veins was a curious warm tickling.
Am I dying, she wondered? Is this what it's like to fade away into death's arms? If so, then it was pleasant and she'd willingly take that walk.
Her glance returned to where the droids stood. Threepio was silent for once as Artoo made low murmurings. They both looked so worried. Strange how droids could project emotion. Did they grasp what had occurred? Had they come to realize the precariousness of their situation?
Anakin wasn't visible to her.
No, he wouldn't be visible would he? He was piloting them back to Coruscant now, his attention on that task. They were going where Palpatine ordered. Anakin was to return her to her apartment.
"You're stronger than this, Padmé."
It was a voice in her mind, and yet audible by ear as well, gentle and concerned, familiar even, though she couldn't place it.
"I can't," she whispered. "It hurts too much." Everything hurt. Her mind, her heart, her body. She wished she could will herself to die and escape this new world Anakin was taking her to.
"Padmé?" Anakin's voice came from the cockpit, silky and a bit sly. She imagined him turning in the chair to look at the doorway. "Are you talking to yourself, my love?"
She stilled, eyes trained in that direction, not even taking in a breath. Would he get up and come back here? The baby stilled as well and when Anakin didn't appear, she relaxed as best she could under the circumstances. After a fashion, the voice continued in her mind and Padmé knew what she had to do.
Protect her unborn children, whatever the cost.
All thoughts of dying disappeared from her mind.
Vader relaxed in his seat, considering each action he needed to take upon reaching Coruscant. There was Padmé to care for, then Palpatine to kill and the empire would be his. Nothing would stop him. His power was still growing, he could feel it inside him, stretching out through his limbs.
He closed his eyes, immediately re-opening them, his smirk fading away. There was something... Vader turned, staring towards where Anakin Skywalker's beloved wife was resting. He heard her voice and was that another voice answering? Not the droids. Vader called out to her.
He wasn't surprised when she didn't answer his question. She was sulking right now and likely would be for awhile. No matter. Padmé would come around eventually. As time passed, she'd see he was right and everything Anakin had done was for her. Slowly, he returned his gaze to the window, making a mental note to search her clothes when they landed. When the sense of another presence returned, Vader mulled it over, attempting to tune himself to it, but it was gone before he could grasp it.
Vader snorted. It hadn't felt threatening, just...there. A presence he vaguely recognized. He knew there was only he, Padmé and the two droids on the ship, so he didn't think on the presence overlong, letting his thoughts return back to the musings of the glorious empire he was going to rule.
Her hands rubbed her belly, eyes closing as she recalled the gymnastics of the baby inside her, so much twisting and turning she'd sometimes been ill from it. Had she allowed the medical droids to tell her anything aside from that she and babe were healthy, she would have known there were two. But she'd wanted to be surprised, to share that surprise and the wonder of birth with her husband. Her Annie would have been a grinning, happy innocent to see and hold their baby for the first time.
He'd had such innocence in him, a wonder for all things new to him.
How would this man with her now react?
Padmé didn't want to think about it. She envisioned her life from here on out. It was going to be cold and bleak, the light of love snuffed out and hope a tiny flame far from her in the darkness. There were going to be problems, horrible problems. She'd always known Anakin had a jealous streak. He'd tried to hide it, be casual about her male acquaintances. She was going to have to tread carefully now. A trusted friend such as Dormé would need to be present during any dealings with men besides Anakin.
Her mind raced around and around, replaying the choke hold her husband had gripped her with and fast forwarding to what she was going to have to do to protect herself and the babies. Her grief was a numbness inside her, the propelling force to her decisions. Her actions were going to be for her children, herself and ultimately, the good man she knew her Annie to still be.
He was still in there. He was still good. Padmé clung to that belief. She had to find a way to bring him back, even if it took her a lifetime.
The ship set down and Anakin came from the cockpit, sauntering to her. "You've calmed somewhat." His expression took on a puzzled cast and he searched the area, opening cupboards and closet until he'd gone through them all. "Who were you talking to? I heard you." When she didn't answer, he leaned over her, hands braced on either side of her.
A shudder rippled through her.
"No answer? Your tongue grown silent? I'll search you then."
He was efficient in the task, hands doing a thorough pat of her clothing and surrounding area, coming up with nothing. Her trembling would not cease, the babies in her belly kicking hard, as though they sought to free themselves. Padmé bit her lip to keep from crying. She could hear Artoo and Threepio in the background, Threepio's worried conversation and Artoo's answering whistles.
Anakin tossed a glance over his shoulder at them. "Enough of that, both of you." Now he stood, critical gaze running over her as he crossed his arms. "Don't you know, my love, that you should never answer when you talk to yourself? Someone might think you're crazy. We can't have that. Not with my Empress."
She searched desperately for calm, trying not to give in to the panic that skittered over her skin. He still planned them to rule together? After she'd refused? "Don't call me that," she whispered.
He tilted his head, the ghost of a smile upon his lips. "Crazy," he asked with a lift of his brows.
"You love," she spat out.
"But you are, Padmé. You are my love. Obi-Wan may have turned you against me, but I assure you, it's only temporary. I'll make you remember. No one is going to take you away from me. I won't allow it. You're mine." His left hand stretched down, the backs of his fingers brushing her cheek in a tender caress, a parody in her mind of her Annie's touch. "That's final."
"Have I no mind to decide what I want for myself?"
"Of course you do." His voice was soothing and she fought against being lulled by it. "One of the reasons I love you is for your quick mind. You're upset now, confused. Obi-Wan fed you lies." Soothing and superior, condescending, as though he knew best and she could not understand her own mind. "We'll undo his brainwashing, my love. You will remember."
Padmé jerked her head away. Her mind didn't want to process how far into darkness her husband had gone. He was delusional indeed if he thought she'd ever follow him down that stretch of road. Didn't he remember her? He was speaking again and she returned her attention back to him.
"--droid standing by to check you over. We'll make sure you're healthy. Those dreams won't come true."
Be calm, she thought. Be very calm. You're in no condition to fight. Let him take you inside. Save your strength. It's only a few steps.
Anakin lifted her, one arm behind her back, the other beneath her knees, his grip firm. Padmé whimpered, kept on biting her lip, but nothing was keeping that crawling sensation on her skin away. Panic curled about her limbs, twined as a serpent. She sucked in breath after breath, squeezing her eyes tightly shut as she finally identified the emotion she was feeling.
She was repulsed by Anakin, by the touch of his hands and body against her. It wasn't supposed to be this way. She wasn't supposed to feel sick when her husband was near her.
But he wasn't her husband, now was he? Her Annie was gone, held prisoner by this cold stranger. It was this stranger that repulsed her.
They were on the landing pad, his strides sure and quick, the droids behind them.
I can't do this!
She twisted, pushing at him. "No!" He lost his grip on her back and for a lurching moment, she thought she was going to fall and crack her skull open on the pavement, but then he had a hold on her once more, shifting her into place. "Let go of me!" Though she tried to kick, his mechanical grip on her legs was too sure.
Padmé was wrestled from her private landing dock and into her apartment, past several guards, a medical droid and her ever faithful Dormé. The presence of these others was noticed only as a background, much like Threepio's chatter and Artoo's beeps. They were of no concern. Her primary concern was Anakin's proximity to her.
He was calm, deadly calm, his lips pressed into a tight line. Laying her down on the bed, he knelt beside her. Her arms were held down, keeping her in place. "Just relax, my love."
She rolled her head on the pillow, twisting her wrists, knowing it was no use struggling, yet unable to stop. Her face was wet with her tears, her nose beginning to run. Tomorrow she was going to show bruises from that circle of his fingers on her wrists. Already, they were aching and tender. "No! Let me go, let me go, oh please, let me go," she sobbed, over and over. The medical droid checked her over. Padmé didn't pay any attention to it, continuing to twist and turn in a futile effort to free herself.
"Calm down," Anakin said, moving to look directly down at her.
Her glance flicked upward to his, mouth opening in horror. Her Annie had the most beautiful blue eyes. No more. Where blue should be was yellow and red. Drawing in a long breath, she screamed.
Anakin's hand left her wrists, touching her forehead. There was no sting of a needle, yet she knew she must have been sedated as a heaviness took her body, sleep sucking her under in frighteningly quick seconds. The last thing she saw before she closed her eyes was Anakin's satisfied smile.
The apartment was quiet, the shades over the windows creating shadow. Dormé sat on one divan, waiting for Anakin Skywalker to begin. He was at the other end of the divan, forearms resting on his thighs and hands loosely clasped together. He'd been that way since Padmé had succumbed to sleep and the guards and medical droid had gone. She hadn't found it in her heart to leave the two of them alone. He looked like he needed someone there to talk to. She'd filled that position with Padmé enough, so she'd remained, making herself available, tidying the rooms and waiting. Finally, he'd asked her to sit a moment. When he spoke, his voice was low, nearly a whisper.
"I know I can trust you with this, Dormé."
"What is it?" Her lady was sleeping in the bedroom. She'd been surprised to see Padmé hysterical, twisting and hitting and kicking as Anakin brought her in. Even in the most dangerous situations, Padmé Amidala was never less than composed. Seeing her like that had brought home to Dormé that something was quite wrong. But what?
"I'm certain you've noticed by now that Padmé is not herself. She keeps telling me that I'm not her husband, which is absurd because I am. In all honesty, I fear for her welfare, her state of mind." He took a deep breath and released it slowly, head remaining bowed. "You should know the details. There was an...attack on my life. Padmé was there."
Dormé gasped. "She saw it?"
He licked his lips. "She was there," he confirmed. "Obi-Wan had used her to find me, betrayed her trust in him and my own. So much for the Jedi way."
Obi-Wan? She let her glance turn from him to flick about the room. She'd liked Obi-Wan, found him friendly and charming. The last thing Dormé had ever thought to consider him was an assassin. It didn't feel right, but then, little felt right in this world they lived in any more. War changed things. It changed people. She supposed that included Obi-Wan.
"So you see, she's under quite a bit of stress, with that added to everything else."
Her regard switched to the bedroom. In her mind, she saw Anakin holding Padmé down as the drug was administered, remembered Padmé's hoarse cries that faded to whimpers as she'd succumbed to sleep and that loving brush of Anakin's fingers along Padmé's brow. "I see."
She did see, clearly. Dormé counted herself among the privileged few who knew of Anakin and Padmé's marriage and of Padmé's pregnancy. She knew the enormous strain her lady had been under, hiding her love for the young Jedi from friends and family. Only a few people had been given the knowledge, those who would protect her. Dormé had watched her lady become more and more withdrawn and uncertain in her personal life as the months had passed. Padmé had not liked hiding, but had seen no other choice, obviously torn between doing her duty as a Senator and being the wife to Anakin that she wished to be.
"I'd like to know that when I'm not here, she'll be taken care of."
She returned her attention to him, found his stare upon her, a strange intensity in his blue eyes. He was waiting for an answer and she hastened to give one. "Of course I'll stay. I won't abandon my lady when she needs me."
His smile was warm and relieved. "Good. I can't tell you how much this means to me. To us." Anakin straightened. "I doubt I'll be gone as much as I was, so there won't be too many extended absences. Peace doesn't require the travel that war does, obviously."
She returned the smile. Padmé always worried so much for him. "That will please her. She always missed you so when you were gone."
Anakin nodded. "Then it's settled. You'll stay. All I ask is that you tell me how she is, how her days go. Is she happy or sad? Is she claiming things that can't possibly be true? I want her to be herself again, to remember..." He broke off suddenly, turning his face away. "I want my wife back."
The clear emotion to every gesture in his voice touched her heart. Padmé was lucky to have a husband who loved her with such a fervor. "We'll take each day as it comes."
Standing, Anakin went to the balcony. "Thank you. Will you sit with her for awhile?"
He was gone in moments and Dormé was left in the silent apartment, reflecting on Anakin's devotion to her lady.