Just a little more info before the story starts. This is an AU where Padme is actually a strong person, emotionally and mentally, like we were led to believe she was in TPM & AOTC. In this story, Padme is no blind, love-struck pushover. Her convictions and resolve are rock-solid.


Padme stood anxiously awaiting the ship's arrival. She had always been pretty good at shielding her emotions, which had been extremely useful back when she was the Queen of Naboo. Right after their wedding, Anakin had taught her even stronger mental shielding. He had known that she would need it to keep their marriage a secret. Padme was grateful for that mental shielding at this moment. She was standing on the landing platform with Masters Yoda and Windu, awaiting the arrival of her husband and Obi-Wan.

The two had been away for more than a month helping a beleaguered planet, called Kataan, fight the Separatists. Padme looked completely calm on the outside, though inside she was excited beyond measure to see Anakin again. They had been married for a year and a half now. The first couple of months of their marriage, they'd been able to spend quite a bit of time together. Obi-Wan had been kept on Coruscant most of that time to plan and strategize for war operations. He was quickly given the title of General when his wisdom and cunning proved invaluable to Republic victories.

After those first two months, however, she and Anakin had only had a stolen night here, a day there. Anakin was now a Jedi Knight, Obi-Wan a Jedi Master and member of the Council. They were gone so much of the time. She worried constantly for her husband, of course, but she also worried about Obi-Wan. He had become a good friend to her since the events on Geonosis. She had once thought him to be aloof and cool, but now she knew better. He was about the warmest person she'd ever known – always in control, but very warm and funny. He had quite the wry, sarcastic sense of humor!

The breath caught in Padme's throat as she spotted the ship pulling out of the traffic lanes and down towards the platform. Soon the ship was stilled and the door was opening. The ramp extended downward and immediately she saw Obi-Wan start to descend. Padme watched the scene in fascination. He was holding a little girl in one arm and holding the hand of a little boy with the other. Behind them was an older boy, perhaps ten years old. She could see the Jedi Masters beside her cock their eyebrows in curiosity.

Obi-Wan and the children walked up to the waiting group. He bowed slightly. "Masters, Senator." He gave them a warm smile.

Mace gave him an ironic smile in return. "Obi-Wan. Perhaps you can introduce us to your guests." He glanced down at Yoda, who had amusement in his eyes.

"Of course." Obi-Wan gestured to the girl resting on his hip. "This is Kira." He lifted the hand holding the young boy's. "This is Devin." He turned to the older boy, now standing beside Devin. "And that is James. They will be staying with me for a while."

Mace raised his brow at that. "Oh?"

"Padme, would you watch the children for a moment?" Obi-Wan knelt to put Kira down, but she had firmly attached herself to his cloak. "Kira, honey, I will only be gone for a minute. I need to talk with Mace and Yoda alone. Padme's a good friend. You'll like her. I'll be right over there. Okay?"

Padme watched as the girl finally acquiesced. She knelt down in front of Kira as Obi-Wan talked with the two boys. "Hi, Kira. My name is Padme." She offered the girl a warm smile.

The girl looked scared. She obviously didn't like being parted from Obi-Wan. She kept looking over at the Master who was now in conversation with Yoda and Mace. The girl turned back to Padme. "Hi." The two boys joined them shyly. She introduced herself to them as well.

Yoda sat on his floating hoverpad. "Interested in hearing your story, I am, Obi-Wan."

"These children were being held as slaves by the Separatist forces on Kataan. We found them when we took control of the Separatists main camp. I befriended them and kept an eye on them while I was there. I couldn't leave them behind, Masters. It probably would have taken the Republic officials months to decide to do anything about them. They wouldn't have been a high priority. James and Devin are brothers and were stolen in a raid on the planet Naylon. Kira was taken after her parents were killed. I'd like to do what I can to find the parents of the boys. As for Kira, I'd like to see if I can find her a good home."

"That could take a lot of time, Obi-Wan." Mace didn't like the idea of Obi-Wan being out of commission for any length of time. The Republic and the Order needed him too much.

Yoda's eyes narrowed. "Leave of absence you desire?"

Obi-Wan shook his head emphatically. "No, Masters, I'd never want to neglect my duty like that. I just figured maybe I could play the role of strategist more than actual combatant for a while. Any strategizing that needs to be done, I can do it here. All of the field commanders can report to me here via hololink."

"You'd also be expected to take on your full duties as a member of the Council." Mace knew there was no point in arguing. Obi-Wan's mind was made up. And he trusted the young man's judgment.

Obi-Wan nodded. "I understand that, Masters. And I really don't think it will take all that long to help these children."

Yoda pointed his stick at Obi-Wan. "Filled your days will be with duties and your search. Someone in mind have you, to watch the children?"

Obi-Wan shrugged. "Well…" Actually, he didn't have anyone in mind. He knew the children couldn't be taken to the creche. It would be too disruptive to the younglings there. He looked over at the children and paused. Padme and Kira were involved in an animated hand game. The boys were watching and laughing. "Hmmm…" He walked over to rejoin the children, followed closely by Mace and Yoda.

Kira jumped up and down excitedly. "Obi-Wan, did you see? Padme taught me a new game!"

"I did see, Kira. That's very good."

Padme laughed. "She's a fast learner!" So engrossed with the children, she didn't even notice that Anakin hadn't left the ship yet.

Obi-Wan put his hand on Padme's arm. "May I speak with you a moment?"

"Yes, of course." Padme walked with Obi-Wan until they were out of earshot.

"I have a huge favor to ask of you. If you can't do it, that's okay. I know you're busy and I don't want to pressure you…"

Padme laughed. "Obi-Wan, will you just ask me?"

Obi-Wan smiled a bit sheepishly. "Well, I'm going to be keeping the children with me here at the Temple. I'm going to try and find the boys' parents and find Kira a good home. But I also have my duties to attend to here. I need someone to watch them during the day. I want someone the children will really like and trust."

Padme blinked. "You want me to watch the children for you?"

Obi-Wan nodded. This was a bad idea. He shouldn't have asked. "I'm sorry, Padme. It was wrong of me to ask. I know you're busy and I don't want to take advantage of our friendship."

Padme put her hand on his arm. "Are you going to give me a chance to respond?" She laughed quietly. "I think what you're doing for those kids is wonderful. They obviously adore you. I would be honored to watch them for you. I have no pressing engagements with the senate for the next several days. The work that I have to do can be done here as well as my office."

Obi-Wan's face broke into a huge smile. "Thank you, Padme!" He kissed her on the cheek. "I owe you one!"

Padme's face suddenly grew serious. "No, you don't." Thoughts flashed of the young Padawan who had come to her planet's rescue, at the cost of his master. Of the Knight who had risked his life to solve the mystery of who was trying to kill her. "If anything, I owe you."

Obi-Wan shook his head, confused. "No, Padme…"

"Let's go join the others, shall we?" Padme smiled as she took his arm. She stopped suddenly as they walked. "Wait a minute. Where's Anakin?"

"I don't know." Obi-Wan turned towards the ship. "Maybe there was a mechanical problem that he wanted to fix before disembarking." He reached out with the Force towards his former padawan, but came up against heavy mental shielding. Anakin had been shielding from him more and more of late.

Anakin had been watching everything that had transpired since landing. It was bad enough that those kids had to tag along with Obi-Wan almost the entire time they were on Kataan. But then Obi-Wan had decided to bring them back to Coruscant with him! Anakin had hardly had any time alone with the man he'd come to think of as part father, part brother and part best friend. Even though the missions could be grueling and the time away from Padme nearly killed him, he had come to really enjoy those times with Obi-Wan. The dynamic in their relationship had changed. He was no longer the apprentice. He was an equal, a partner. Okay, maybe 'an equal' was stretching it a bit. Obi-Wan WAS now a Master and a member of the Council. A flash of jealousy shot through Anakin at that thought.

Anakin knew he was being childish. What was he afraid of? Was he worried that those kids had taken his rightful place? It always came down to possession. Possession was forbidden for a Jedi. Even so, Anakin fought his desire for possession every day – possession over his wife and now possession over Obi-Wan. He's MY master, MY best friend, MY teammate. He and Obi-Wan made a great team. They were The Team. They were unbeatable. They were the most famous two Jedi in the Republic, thanks to the holonet. People everywhere loved them.

The first thing Anakin had done upon landing was look for Padme. He gazed out of the viewport at his beautiful wife. He was so glad to see her again! It had been over a month this time! He sighed as he watched Obi-Wan approach the two masters, children in tow. Those kids had really attached themselves to Obi-Wan – literally and figuratively. He hoped that Obi-Wan would find a good place to dump those kids today. Then things could get back to normal.

He watched as Obi-Wan left the children with Padme so he could go talk with Masters Yoda and Windu. Padme looked completely at ease with the children. She talked with them, keeping a warm smile on her face. Anakin rolled his eyes as he watched his wife teach the girl a hand game. Oh, don't tell me that SHE's enthralled with those little brats too! Anakin was not fond of kids. They made him uncomfortable. He preferred to avoid them if at all possible. Unlike his former master, who seemed to enjoy interacting with the crechlings and younglings at the Temple.

Anakin's wandering thoughts were interrupted when he noticed Obi-Wan and Padme break off from the group to talk alone. Possessiveness started to rear its ugly head again. What could those two possibly have to talk about alone? Obi-Wan looked a bit embarrassed. Padme…She seemed to be looking at Obi-Wan with affection. Padme was putting her hand on Obi-Wan's arm. Wait! Did he see that correctly? Did his master just kiss Padme on the cheek? Since when did Obi-Wan do that? A moment later, Padme slipped her arm through Obi-Wan's as they headed back to the others. What's with all this touching all of sudden? Jealousy coursed through Anakin.

Suddenly, Padme and Obi-Wan stopped. Obi-Wan turned to look up at the ship. "Oh, so you two finally thought of me, huh?" Anakin could tell that Obi-Wan was trying to touch their mental bond. He got up with a sigh, knowing he had probably better make an appearance.