Title: Tea For Two
Summary: Dormé has a tiny little crush on Obi-Wan. There is a slight possibility he reciprocates.
Timeframe: Between AOTC and ROTS
Disclaimer: Star Wars is the property of George Lucas. No disrespect is intended with this story.
Notes: Their story doesn't end with this chapter. Rather than have a large chunk of time pass, I opted to write the last two-thirds as a sequel. It's entitled 'Third Time is a Charm' and is being posted at present. Apologies for the confusion.
Two months from tea --
It was too late in the day. Obi-Wan gave a longing glance towards the holotransmitter, grudgingly deciding that he needed rest more than he needed an hour of seeing Dormé. If he tried to talk to her now, he'd likely make no sense. Lack of sleep for several days in a row had him irritable and very close to falling asleep on his feet. It was no wonder Anakin had taken himself off to make a visit with a friend upon their arrival.
He admired Anakin's stamina. He was just as sleep-deprived as Obi-Wan, yet he'd committed himself to dinner with one of his many acquaintances. Who, Obi-Wan wasn't quite sure, but he had a vague idea of where Anakin was heading. The posh area of Coruscant. One of his friends liked a restaurant near where Padmé's building was...
Ahh, he thought. To be young again.
Then he chuckled. As if he was old and decrepit.
He changed into his nightclothes and poured himself a drink before relaxing on his bed. It was good to be back here, if only for a few hours. He'd have to remember to contact Dormé in the morning. Perhaps he should wake up a little earlier. Dormé had once admitted to being a morning person, just like he was.
Obi-Wan closed his eyes and fell asleep before he could take a single sip of his drink, exhaustion sucking him under.
A crisis that brewed in the night kept him busy with the Council in the morning and he wasn't able to complete his plans to contact Dormé.
"Oh, Ani, you look so tired!" Padmé ran her fingers in soothing strokes along his face.
Anakin held her to him in a tight embrace. It felt good to hold her again, to have her arms around him and her body pressed to his. Unfortunately, he didn't have time for even a few minutes of proper snuggling. "I had to see you, if only for a couple minutes. I've got an hour, if I can stay awake. I told Obi-Wan I was meeting a friend for dinner." He gave a polite nod in the direction of Dormé and Ellé.
They returned the gesture and he thought Dormé was going to say something, but then she nodded once more and left the room, Ellé following her.
"How long are you here," Padmé asked in a hopeful tone, pulling him towards the couch.
Anakin hated to smash those hopes, but he had to get some actual sleep. He was running so behind on rest that it'd spell disaster if he stayed here long. He rarely got any rest when he stayed with her. It wouldn't be good to accidentally fall asleep right when he was needed. "We leave again tomorrow. Mid-morning. This was just a brief check-in."
"I know. I'm not happy about it either. Obi-Wan and I are both short on sleep and temper. I hate it when he's grumpy and he's been grumpy for days. If he doesn't get some rest soon, I swear I'll slip him a tranquilizer." He sat, drawing her onto his lap and kissing her with all of the pent up longing he'd been feeling. "I miss you so much when I'm away. I wish I could stay here with you."
"I know." She ran her hands through his hair, pressing kisses to his face. "Are you sure you can't stay? An hour, Anakin, maybe an hour and a half?"
"I'd love to, but I have to get some sleep. I've never been this exhausted, Padmé. It's never-ending. There are too few of us, I see that. We're already spread so thin..."
"Sshh." She kissed him. "An hour. It'll have to do, won't it?"
Perhaps as the war went on there'd be visits where he could spend an extra half an hour. Anakin put his face against her hair, breathed in the scent of her perfume. It wasn't going to happen, but he could pretend, couldn't he?
Dormé and Ellé lingered in the hallway, far enough that the illusion of privacy was given and close enough to be on hand if needed. They listened to the conversation, heard the mention of exhaustion. Dormé clasped her hands together. She hoped Obi-Wan got some sleep. Briefly, she wondered if she should nip into her room and contact him for a few minutes right now.
No, she decided. He needed rest more than conversation. When she woke in the morning, she'd contact him. He was an early riser like herself.
The next morning, she found her plans turned upside down. Moteé became ill and Dormé did not have a spare moment for casual conversation.
Six months from tea --
Tepin wined her and dined her and not once did he overstep the bounds of propriety. As the days had passed and became weeks without word from Obi-Wan, Dormé let herself be wooed. She let herself entertain wonderings of...Tepin.
If she couldn't have Obi-Wan and she knew she couldn't, then Tepin was almost like him. She shared similar tastes with Tepin, from foods to entertainment and he tried so hard to keep her at ease. He wasn't Obi-Wan, but if she tried really hard...
Five months from her last afternoon with Obi-Wan, Dormé had accepted things as they were. She'd shed many tears in the realization that her dear Jedi friend was only that: a friend. She treasured those brief moments they'd had together, where she'd dreamed anything was possible. She cherished the all too quick brush of his lips upon hers and, with a sadness that lingered, turned her affections fully to Tepin.
Still, when she had the time to turn her thoughts to fancy, Dormé wondered what might have been had things been different. Marriage, babies and Obi-Wan beside her. But it was only fancy, nothing more. Never more.
Tepin's proposal surprised her, though it shouldn't have. He'd made no secret of his feelings for her. She had known from the start he loved her.
Dormé sat down with Padmé, a final few minutes together before Tepin returned to the apartment for her. They were leaving for Naboo in a few hours to begin their life there.
Padmé was crying. "Dormé, I'm going to miss you!"
"And I you."
"I can't believe you're leaving."
A few minutes passed, gentle conversation and Dormé brought up the one subject they two had not discussed since the afternoon tea that day months earlier. "My lady, I have a request." At Padmé's nod, she continued. "If you see Obi-Wan, will you..." She licked her lips, feeling awkward, yet that she had to make this request. She couldn't leave him wondering and it hadn't ever felt right to contact him through the Jedi Temple. "Will you tell him..."
Dormé gave a shaky laugh. "Tell him the news." She wiped at the tears that slipped from her eyes but they wouldn't stop coming. "Tell him in person and if he asks...I am happy."
Padmé's hands grasped hers, gaze searching and serious. Her voice was a whisper. "Dormé, did you love him?"
"Tepin or Obi-Wan," she countered.
"Dormé." Padmé shook her head. "It's not impossible--"
"I made a choice. I'm not strong enough to withstand being parted. I made my decision...Padmé. I will love Tepin and be a good wife to him. That's my future."
Padmé was quiet and then, "Did Obi-Wan ever have any idea?"
Dormé didn't reply.
"Yes. He's known from the start. I was honest with him."
They were quiet for a long while. Padmé released her hands. "In person. I promise."
Dormé left the apartment and walked into a new life.
Seven months from tea --
It was an occasional luxury to work from the apartment, with all the comforts of home right on hand. Not to mention that Padmé could kick her shoes off as she read reports without feeling unprofessional for doing so. She worked on the final rearrangements to her evening plans, not glancing up when Moteé came to her. If she paused now, she'd never get this worked out to her satisfaction. "One minute, please, Moteé." Within minutes, she'd cleared a full three hours to see Anakin, the longest stretch they'd had together in nearly seven months. Pleased with herself, she sat back. "Yes, what is it?"
"My lady, there is a transmission waiting for Dormé. What should I do with it? Forward it to Naboo?"
A transmission? Who would send a message to her here? She'd thought all of Dormé's friends knew she was... Padmé blinked. No, not all. There was one who would not know. Obi-Wan. Padmé had not made a mention of Dormé to Anakin when they'd spoken. They'd had little time to indulge in small talk in their brief meetings. Therefore, Anakin couldn't have told Obi-Wan. "I'll take care of it."
She heard the message in private. It wouldn't do to send it on to Naboo if it was something...personal. Tepin was a nice guy, but there were limits and having the man his new wife had been in love with come calling on her might strain his cheerful mien. The message was mild, however, naming a place and a time. Padmé shook her head at the expression on Obi-Wan's face. And Dormé had assumed there was no hope. How could she not have noticed Obi-Wan's feelings? They were right there on his face.
That could have been me with Anakin, she thought. Just missing, never meeting, and moving on both a bit older and a bit sadder for the sense of what may have been. It made her sad just thinking about it.
She remembered her promise. In person. She had to tell him in person. Getting up from the chair, she headed towards her room. If she hurried, she'd arrive only a few minutes after Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan Kenobi sat at the café he and Dormé had met at, more for nostalgia's sake than anything else. He sat at the table they had last taken, a pot of tea and a plate before him. She had not returned his transmission, this first one he'd had time in months to send, and so he had come here alone, meeting no one to cement the memories in his mind.
Well, he thought, I can take a hint.
She obviously no longer wished to spend an afternoon with him. That was fine. He realized that much could have changed in the time he'd been gone from Coruscant and when he and Anakin had been back, he'd barely had time to breathe, let alone meet with Dormé for a casual, relaxed hour or two.
What did bother him were the wonderings if he'd done anything wrong on their last meeting. He didn't think he had, but sometimes women made no sense. He thought they'd parted on good terms. She hadn't seemed upset over the problem at the museum, or the zoo, or even nearly getting mugged. She had let him kiss her. Twice. That meant good terms, yes?
But she had been sad at the end, when they'd parted outside the police station. He'd felt her sadness and not asked on it, assuming it was the same reason he'd been a little sad: that their time together had ended for the day. Had he said something, done something that had offended her? If only he had some idea what had gone wrong that she wouldn't even send a reply. It wasn't like her. Dormé was a lady in her manners and ladies always sent replies.
"May I join you?"
He glanced up, surprised to find Padmé Amidala beside him. She was swathed in one of the more voluminous robes her handmaidens wore and he wondered on the disguise. Was excitement once more on Padmé's doorstep? Her gaze swept the café and returned to him. She carried a cup in her hands. "Of course." He motioned to the chair across from him with one hand. "Please do."
She set her cup down and sat. Her expression was almost sympathetic and she came straight to the point. "Dormé did not reply to your transmission because she has left Coruscant for good. She is no longer in my employ."
That surprised him. Dormé no longer a part of Padmé's entourage? Strange. Why? What had happened? He'd thought she'd enjoyed her work and been happy there. He nodded. "I see."
Padmé sipped from her cup. "Moteé told me of the transmission. I told her that I would take care of it. Here I am."
"I appreciate the courtesy."
"Well, I knew you were friends. You should know the why of it." She paused, then rushed on. "Last month, Dormé married Tepin from building security."
Married? Obi-Wan sifted through faces in memory until he placed the man. He hadn't had occasion to speak with him more than a moment, but he remembered thinking that Tepin was nice and quite competent. A good man.
"The wedding was small and both Tepin and Dormé's families came from Naboo for it. It was just how Dormé wanted it. Quiet. She looked so pretty in her dress..." Padmé trailed off, taking a large gulp of tea and coughing.
Obi-Wan wondered if his shock was reflected on his face.
"Anyway, Tepin took a position with Royal Security on Naboo and naturally, Dormé wished to be with him. They left before your transmission even came. She wanted to tell you herself, I know she did, but--"
There was a peculiar little ache in his chest. Wherever had that come from? It hadn't been there a moment ago. No, it had been there, but now it was so much tighter, constricting. Obi-Wan nodded. Married. Dormé, his lovely lady Dormé, was married. The only thing he could think of to say was, "Is she happy?"
Padmé looked him over before replying. "Yes, I believe she is."
He blinked, and for a brief moment, imagined what could have been were circumstances different. Marriage, babies and Dormé. He imagined a quiet life somewhere together. What would it have been like to wake up to her beautiful face everyday? To hold her close whenever he wished and tell her just how much he... There was the sting of tears in his eyes and he consciously held them back.
Let her go. You know you have to.
He sighed to himself and managed a small smile though the ache was still there. "Well then, the next time you speak with her, please convey my congratulations. I wish them a long happy life together."
It was the truth. Obi-Wan would never wish anything less for his Dormé. He took a sip of tea. She was not his Dormé any longer was she? She was Tepin's Dormé. He hoped they would both be very happy and have lots of babies if they so wished it. A good life.
Padmé watched him a moment longer, and he had the sense that she didn't understand something. Her head tilted slightly to one side, mouth opening as though to comment, but she frowned instead, drinking down the rest of her tea.
Was she wondering why he didn't ask how to contact Dormé? Did she realize how awkward he'd feel doing so? It wouldn't be right to call on another man's wife, not when he had feelings for her. He should have told Dormé, shouldn't he? Maybe then...
"I will tell her." She stood. "I must be getting back."
He inclined his head and watched her go. His glance raised to the sky, and after a minute's contemplation, he called a server over and ordered one of Dormé's favorite pastries.
It was sweet, and this time, he did not find it overly so.
Be happy Dormé, he thought as he ate. I will cherish the time we had together.
Obi-Wan paid for the tea and the pastry and began the stroll back to the Jedi Temple. The day was perfect for a walk. Not too cool and not too warm. Just right. He passed by the museum, the zoo and the park, a smile on his lips as memories of that afternoon months earlier played in his mind. Her company had been delightful. He reached the Temple and went inside.
Ignoring the lingering sadness in his heart, Obi-Wan went on with the business of life.