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: Thank you to everyone for your comments and suggestions. This story has been a joy to work on, though I must admit I cried as I wrote this final chapter. Thanks to GemL for the continuing beta work. Oh, and if you think you've noticed mirror moments, nods to various events in canon, and symbolism...You're probably right. ;) Questions, comments, colorful metaphors?
"Don't do this Anakin." Padmé closed her eyes, then immediately opened them as her stomach went queasy. He handled the speeder carelessly, pushing the speed to the limit, ignoring other drivers.
"If you won't tell me where our children are, the Emperor will get it from you."
They zoomed past other speeders, diving up and down to other lanes at his whim. Her hands clenched in reflex, but each time she thought he was going to lose control of the machine, he righted it. "Slow down please!"
A glance at his profile showed annoyance on his features. Their speed increased. "You worry too much, Padmé. You always have." His tone turned mocking and falsetto, throwing words she'd once spoken back at her. "I will not let you give up your future for me. We have to keep this secret. We can't tell anyone." Now his voice dropped down. "You worried too much."
He dived the speeder, weaving through the lanes of traffic. They missed a building corner by perhaps inches. Padmé was feeling quite ill, a clammy sweat on her brow and a rolling in her belly. "Anakin please!"
The machine leveled out. "You ripped our family apart. You ran from me. And now you hide our children from their father. How motherly of you. I must admit I never expected such a turn from you. You were so loving with your nieces..." He nosed the speeder up now, throwing her back in her seat.
She had the feeling he was deliberately trying to unnerve her, to make her vulnerable. "You're not their father," she yelled. Her Annie was their father, not this twisted man pretending to be him.
He turned his head. His eyes bled from blue to yellow and red as she watched. Rage distorted his features. "What did you say?"
"You're not my Annie. You killed him when you forced him to bow to the dark side. He loved me. He fathered the twins, not you."
He jerked his gaze back to the lane, leveling them out once more, a laugh bursting from it. "My powers have grown exponentially, my love. I'm the most powerful Force user in the galaxy because I took that step to freedom."
Tears welled in her eyes. "What freedom do you have, Anakin? You may be powerful but you still serve Palpatine. You're little more than a slave to his will --"
"No!" He pushed their speed a bit more. "I have more power and freedom than you can understand."
"Come back to me, Annie. Please come back. Leave Palpatine, leave Coruscant."
"Madness," he spat out.
"It's not too late."
The speeder began to shake from being at top speed, their swoops and turns becoming wide and almost sloppy. "You sound like Obi-Wan did. Tell me where our children are and we can be happy here. We don't need to go away, Padmé. We can have everything right here."
She let her sadness at giving away the twins flow forth. "We can't have them anymore, Anakin. The twins are gone. They're gone and they can't come back."
He went quiet, shaking his head. "No. No, you're lying. They're only children..."
"Please Anakin. Annie. You're a good man. Come back."
"They aren't dead, they can't be." His jaw clenched. "Be quiet, Padmé, just be quiet."
Padmé's throat began to close, breath wheezing and finally non-existent. Her Annie was gone, finally taken over by Vader. There was nothing remaining. No light, no love, no hope. The man she'd loved with all of her heart was gone. Vader had won.
Light blurred in her vision, darkness swirling about her. Air rushed back into her lungs, but it was already too late. Padmé released her hope and fell into the waiting dark.
By her own willing, Padmé Naberrie Skywalker, former Queen, esteemed Senator, wife and mother, passed quickly into death. The Force wrapped her up and absorbed the essence of her.
For once, Padmé heeded his request for silence. He released the Force hold on her throat and relaxed in the silence, enjoying the wind whipping at him and the speed propelling them. Flying, Vader could be his own being, in control of everything around him. After a moment, he sighed.
"We can work this out, Padmé. We will --" His glance turned right to her and...
Anakin surfaced. He couldn't sense her anymore. His Padmé, his angel, was limp in the seat beside him, her eyes open and lifeless, staring.
No. Oh no.
His own eyes widened, right hand stretching to her , attention leaving the lane.
"Padmé." He prodded her and she slipped limp towards him, head falling onto his shoulder.
She's not breathing.
She's dead. She and the twins. All gone from him.
"No, no, no. What have I done? Padmé, come back to me!" He willed and willed her to return, but her body remained lifeless. Dead.
Vader surfaced. You killed her.
The past came back to mock him. Images assailed him of his wife, from her gentle smile to her sadness, images he'd collected over the years. He saw her laughing and frowning, the sun on her beautiful face. He heard her laugh. Then he saw her staring in disbelief as he choked her on Mustafar.
Dead. She's dead. I killed her.
Anakin heard screaming, a metallic screeching, and then the speeder was out of his control and he could hear his own voice laughing hysterically as the ground seemed to fly up to meet them. There was heat, searing, unbearable heat along his body and a terrible numbness in his legs.
Too much feeling, such roiling emotions. The emotions hurt.
He closed his eyes and let the agony rush over him. Anakin couldn't live without her. Without her, without their children. What was there left for a good man? He retreated into the deepest recesses of his mind and let Vader take control once more, welcoming the darkness that covered him over.
In the darkness, he didn't have to feel.
...a boy on Tatooine becomes a man and receives a lightsaber for his birthday. He puts it away and wakes one night to find a transparent man beside his bed. He learns of the past, of the Jedi, and that his destiny is closer than he thinks.
...a young Alderaan Princess serving as Senator in the Imperial Senate races towards a hidden base with stolen plans in her possession.
...Anakin Skywalker stirs in his place in Vader's mind. He senses something familiar; a thing he'd long ago put away as lost.