Four Years Later
Clad only in her pyjamas Padmé lounged on the comfortable divan in her parent's drawing room, the early morning sunlight just beginning to stream through the ice-encrusted windows. From the toasty warmth near the fire she watched eagerly as the birthday girl, now four-year old Leia, dug the next present out of her pile.
"I wonder what –" the little girl began her ritual of guessing the contents before she opened her gift.
This time was different. This time she stopped. Mid-sentence. Cocked her head as if listening to something. Turned her eyes towards the wall of all places. Stared thoughtfully for a moment. Then shared a knowing glance with her brother.
Padmé observed the incredibly odd behaviour, quite taken aback.
Suddenly both twins were scrambling to their feet.
"I'd like to go outside," Luke declared.
It stunned the rest of his extended family as both twins immediately headed for the hooks where their cloaks hung.
Padmé shot her sister a look of complete lack of understanding, then hurried to follow them. When she reached the small entranceway both four year olds were already wrapped in thick material.
She eyed the hooks suspiciously. Neither twin would be able to reach. Or even tug them down. What had they done – floated them off the hooks? She didn't want to admit that it was entirely possible they'd done just that.
Still, she retrieved her own cloak and caught up to them as Leia was reaching for the front door controls.
"Now what do you two think you're doing?" she asked, truly intrigued.
They shared a look then Leia repeated "we want to go outside. Please mummy, pleeeassee?"
She sized them both up.
"You're still wearing your pyjamas. And it's freezing. And you haven't finished opening your presents."
They both looked forlornly at the door.
"I want to go outside more than I want my presents," Leia murmured.
Her eyes downcast to the floor like she was apologising.
"Please," Luke mumbled.
Padmé's eyes widened as tears started trickling down Luke's face.
She immediately knelt and pulled him close.
"Lukie, what's wrong?" she worried.
He turned his eyes to the living room, then looked back to the door and pointed.
She turned and looked to Leia. Tears covered her cheeks too.
"Put your boots on," she murmured in defeat.
Not understanding at all what this was about. They complied with an immediacy she'd never seen before. And were waiting at the door before she'd even finished with her own shoes.
Padmé wrapped her cloak tightly around herself, dressed completely inappropriately for going outdoors. Beneath it her nightgown was warm against her skin, but the thought of anyone outside seeing her in it was mortifying. Still, she had to find out what was going on with the twins.
She stood above them and pressed the opening panel, watching the door swish up. They had bolted before she could stop them.
In the most curious display she'd ever seen, they dashed out into the snow-covered street, looked left and right for a moment. Then both ran full-pelt for the small side-entrance to the house.
And disappeared entirely from her view. Then she heard it. A simultaneous screech of
She slapped the door panel closed and sped after them. Not even wondering if the rest of her family had heard.
She rounded the corner at top speed. To find both her twins wrapped in the folds of Anakin's cloak. His tall form kneeling in the snow. Hugging them both to his chest. Both the children were crying, emotionally overwhelmed. And Anakin had a huge grin on his face, as he wished them a happy birthday in his deep familiar voice.
"Anakin," she couldn't stop herself from squealing happily.
He was immediately on his feet and in her arms. Taking her in a fierce embrace. Kissing her joyfully.
Padmé could feel the twins clinging to each of Anakin's legs. She glanced down to see each had taken a handful of his cloak and wrapped it around themselves. Their entire family wrapped in his warmth.
"What are you doing here?" she whispered eagerly.
His mouth pressed back to hers, groaning very quietly.
"It was more important to these two, and to you, than I realised."
He reached out and caressed her cheek. Said nothing for a moment as he stared deep into her eyes.
"So I took a chance."
Her heart swelled as her tear ducts did. She slid her hands over his shoulders. Embraced him tightly.
"Anakin," was the only word she could force out.
He buried his grinning face in her neck for just a moment. Then the demands for attention from his knees became too intense. And so he shifted his gaze down to the little ones.
He gave Padmé another quick kiss, then released her and kneeled again.
"Did you get nice presents for your birthday?" he asked.
Tenderly pushing Leia's loose curls out of her eyes.
"We're not finished opening them yet," Leia informed him with a defiant grin.
He eyed his daughter questioningly for a moment.
"Then why did you come out here?"
There was a long silence as he studied his children. They frowned, shot one another long and questioning looks.
Padmé suddenly let out a small laugh, then knelt down into the snow with them.
"Maybe they knew the best present was out here," she smiled.
Rubbed her hand over his shoulder. Placed a small kiss on his ear.
"How could they know –?"
Anakin interrupted himself. It suddenly occurred to him just how they knew. They had always heard the force strongly. But to sense him out here they must have actually been listening to the subtle teachings he was slipping into conversations with them. And what was more, they must have practised while he was away.
No, it couldn't be true. They were far too young. And yet – they were his children.
"Did you feel me out here?" he asked, an incredibly proud grin spreading onto his face.
Even as he asked he knew the answer. He tugged them both to him for a crushing hug.
"Padmé? Is everything alright?" a voice called from the house.
He watched her beautiful lips open and melodically call out "It's fine! We'll be inside in a minute."
"How long can you stay?" her soft voice breathed over his ear.
"A week, maybe two."
Her eyes widened in glee.
"Jedi Skywalker I was unaware of this threat. But I am grateful such an unobtrusive method of protection for me has been chosen. I would be glad if you would join my family as a friend for my children's birthday celebrations."
Padmé's cover story made him smile. He reached over and kissed her once more.
"Now remember," Padmé murmured, running her hand through Luke's soft crop of hair.
"What is daddy's name when everyone else is around?" she asked her young children softly.
"Anakin," they answered in unison.
"Exactly. And I'm only mummy's friend and I never stay the night at home," he reminded.
They nodded obediently and each took his hand.
Leading him inside to the family who would never know just how important it was to the two young twins that this Jedi had come to spend their birthday with them.
Unwrapping presents had taken a surprisingly short amount of time. In fact, barely half an hour later, with breakfast plates scarcely cleared, the Coruscant-raised twins were desperate to go and play in the oddity that was snow. While their winter-weary relatives warily eyed the cold, wet shifts lining the street.
"I'll go," Anakin volunteered.
It took Padmé but a moment to see what he was doing. Seizing the opportunity. Taking the perfectly presented moment to escape with her husband and young vibrant children into the winter wonderland, she smiled with just a hint of falsified exasperation for her parent's benefit.
"That's very kind of you Anakin. Are you sure you don't mind?"
Her tone asked so sweetly, so innocently, that her mother turned to bestow a most grateful "so generous" on Anakin.
"Not at all."
It took some time for the twins and herself to properly ready. After that the four of them had trekked the few blocks over to a stretch of wilderness that followed the path of the local river. And as soon as they were out of general sight, the world changed. The good friends walking a respectable distance apart moved infinitely closer, each slipping a hand out from beneath long cloaks until lovers' fingers intertwined. Respectable conversation of a general nature became soft kisses mixed with intimate, teasing banter.
As their children skipped ahead, hiding behind trees and playing with each other, their parents lagged behind at a much more sedate pace. Their foray into the winter wonderland became more of a lover's walk than a backdrop for playing make-believe.
"The day is coming," Anakin thoughtfully mused. "Where I am going to have to make the decision between the twins and Obi-Wan."
Padmé looked up at him with her understated sympathy.
"Is it a choice?" she asked in that tone that couldn't hide that she already knew the answer.
There was a brief pause before he looked down, the crystal clear blue of his eyes silently searching hers.
"No, it's not a choice," he confirmed.
He turned his head away in shame, staring out unseeingly into the lightly wooded forest as they strolled along the wide, majestic path. And in that moment she was for the first time without a solution.
"He'll be so disappointed in me," he sadly murmured. "But even worse, he'll blame himself.
There was silence between them. She always managed to come up with a suitable solution in political arenas, but in this matter of something so precious – Anakin's heart – she was stumped. Maintaining the fundamental tenants of a Jedi life was at the basis of Obi-Wan's self-definition, to say that he had failed to pass that on to his student was to say that he had failed. And yet it was that or his children's future.
"Let's not think about it today," was the wisest council she could offer.
His head bobbed, for a moment more lost in his own mind. Then he released her hand and tugged her closer. Wrapping his arm around her waist and tucking her into his side in an obvious desire for comfort she was only too happy to give.
Each child yelled for a parent before simultaneously squealing in excitement from somewhere up ahead
Their return to the house was noisy. The children barrelled in the front door in a blur of colour and motion. While all four of them stomped the snow from their boots and struggled out of extra layers of clothing. Amidst the excited babbling of four-year olds their father knelt, struggling to get them safely out of their cloaks. While their mother attempted to stop their outer garments from ending up in a big wet pile, and hung up on hooks to dry for later.
"Anakin…" Jobal paused.
From his position crouched on the floor, struggling to pull Luke's small boots off, he looked up at her in surprise.
She had quite happily fed him breakfast in the kitchen this morning . And was full of quiet pleasant conversation the handful of other times he'd met her. But she'd never approached him. She'd certainly never sought him out specifically.
And now she was wringing her hands together nervously – as if she were about to say something he wouldn't like.
"We, the family, have been invited to go out to a dinner tonight," she started nervously.
Anakin nodded slowly. Alright, that was simple enough. Did she want him to dress differently? That was the most common complaint he got from civilians.
"It is just family. People we love and trust."
Before she could continue on Anakin glanced behind her shoulder to see Padmé's frowning, then setting her features in fierce determination.
"Anakin is not coming to dinner!" Padmé said loudly, indignantly.
As her mother turned to look at her, Anakin shot her a quick confused look. He hadn't even said anything! Hadn't said he wanted to go, hadn't even argued about it. All he'd done was sit here and politely listen!
"I do not need protection at a private family gathering and I will not stand to have my life so compromised."
Anakin forced himself to look passive as Jobal turned back to him. But then Padmé started nodding frantically in the background. Encouraging him to argue?
"I will not leave you to be exposed for such a period, M'lady," he convincingly disputed.
"There is no threat posed amongst lifelong family friends, your assistance is not required in this instance Master Jedi," she snapped.
Her manner was puzzling him. He couldn't remember her ever dismissing him so bluntly.
"I am here to protect you at all times, not just when it's convenient for you," Anakin said coolly.
Jobal turned back to Padmé. Whose eyes slit in apparent seething rage.
"May I speak with you privately, Anakin," she practically spat.
He stood abruptly, leaving Leia and Luke in their grandmother's care and following her from the vestibule into the house. Up into her bedroom where she made sure to slam the door in anger.
Then dropped the act and rounded on him.
"What was that all about?" he asked carefully. "I don't have to go out to dinner. If you're going out and so are your parents I can spend some time with the twins."
"I know," she smiled cleverly.
Her hands came up to caress his cheeks, making him smile. Making his head drop softly.
"Pretend to fight with me," she said under her breath just as their lips met. "Senator against Jedi, that could take a few hours to resolve."
Ahhhh. He understood. He waved his hand and heard the small sound of the door lock clicking home.
"Padmé," came his appreciative whisper.
She kissed him. Her terribly missed, very familiar lips pulling his down hungrily. Abandoning any sense of time or place and letting their hands come up to steady them. With passion that only truly emerged from them when there was no fear of being caught. And they let it consume them for a very long time.
"It has been far too long," her voice whispered into his ear.
"I know. I'd given up hope of being alone," he whispered back, stroking her soft hair and shoulders with his fingertips.
Slowly they let it become something more. Anakin eventually falling to the bed, stretching out flat on his back.
Soon enough he lay eagerly waiting beneath her. Her hands caressing and playing with his clothing. About to be with her as he'd been denied for months. Of course her mother would choose that moment to come looking for them.
Wanting to maintain the pretence of fierce argument, Anakin had been keeping his feelings stretched out. So he could sense her when she started up the stairs, and then was moving down the hallway. About to knock and surely interrupt.
"Padmé I do not feel I can assure your safety, leaving you unaccompanied for such a long period of time," he said slightly louder.
She pulled back and looked at him questioningly. He tucked her hair behind her ears with a small smile, then turned his eyes towards the door. Braced his palms against her back and watched her head turn.
"Oh," she mouthed to him.
"You are already intruding into my family home. If I succumb to the fear this threat imposes I have fallen prey to the threat itself, and that is something I cannot do," she said more loudly.
Then she buried her head into his shoulder and slipped herself over him.
He sighed as he could feel himself suddenly inside her once more. Pulling her as close as he could, he looked up into her warm eyes, her hair falling down his cheeks.
"I'm so sorry," came her whispered voice as they lay still for one moment. "I don't mean that. You're not intruding, you belong here."
They lay together and he let her harsh comments pass as he kissed her quietly.
"Oh Padmé you feel wonderful," he sighed.
Then he changed his tone and got louder again. Trying to sound like the calm rational Jedi friend. "M'lady it is conceivable your family meal could be a target for just such a reason. Because you think it is safe."
He covered her lips with two fingers, smiling as she started putting butterfly kisses on them. He waited a moment, feeling Jobal leave. Then he pulled Padmé down for a fervent kiss.
"Mmmm, she gone?" came her voice through her soft, occupied lips.
"Hmm," came his positive reply.
Much too engrossed to disengage from her mouth. His fingers digging into her back briefly as she started moving over him.
He let his hands travel the wonders of her bare back. Delighted in her taking control as they were together again. Her hands holding his shoulders down. Her body greedily enveloping him.
And he wasn't her distant Jedi guardian anymore. She wasn't his mission of protection for this month. He was Anakin, who loved her deeply and thought about her constantly. Who shared everything with her, not just the occasional argument over her security arrangements. Who spent months missing her and appreciated their fake disagreement to grab a few precious hours alone in a way no one but her could understand.
She whimpered and he had to force himself to keep his groan low as they shared an intense push.
Whispered words of love started coming from them both. Feelings and sensations much heightened by so much time spent apart.
And with the sudden thought that this may be the only chance he could have to be with her his whole time here, he was suddenly slowing them down and drawing it out. This was going to last.
Anakin suddenly said loudly "No! I will not accept that!"
Padmé shifted sleepily on his chest, a smile curling on her lips.
"This is my life! My family, my home!" she replied perfectly, stifling a yawn at the end by burying her face in the bare skin that lay waiting for her under her cheek.
Anakin chuckled softly, his fingers curling in her hair.
"Not my home, but definitely my family," he whispered to her alone.
He smiled at her as she lifted her head to grin at him. Her head bent down temptingly, and he shot up to give her a lingering kiss.
"Is she gone?" Padmé asked as she sunk back down to his shoulder.
"It's your father and he's still there," came his deliberately quiet reply.
"You will not accompany me this evening. If you wish to make yourself useful you can stay here and protect my children," Padmé told the door in a calm voice.
Anakin started placing kisses on her shoulders again. Running his hands up and down her soft sides in affectionate caresses.
"Again Ani?" she grinned.
He pulled her close, suddenly swapping their positions to cover her as he enthusiastically whispered "oh yes."
She grinned up at him in anticipation, cupping his cheeks in her soft palms.
"Do it," she said softly.
Her legs came up and wrapped around his waist. Moaning gently Anakin reached for one of her thighs. Let his flesh hand caress it tenderly.
He looked at her ever so briefly, then closed his eyes and buried his face in her neck.
"You're so beautiful Padmé," he whispered into her skin.
Her hands came up to rest on his back, squeezing two handfuls of his flesh.
"Look at me," she coaxed, raising her hips.
Their eyes met as he once more disappeared into her softness.
Her groan of his name was intense but well-muffled.
"Oh it feels so good," came her desperate whimpers in his ear.
She met his eyes and they gazed at one another for a single perfect moment of stillness. Then he rolled his hips and her face lit up for him. She threw her head back and gasped. As he moved over her passionately. Placing irregular open-mouthed kisses wherever he could.
Later that night, the whole house was tucked up in their beds and he'd been banished from his wife's side to the guest bedroom. Anakin was tugged from a restless sleep by the feeling of one of his children waking. He lay still. Reaching out. Now that they weren't babies he didn't need to bother them every time they awoke. And even if they were scared, and needed comforting, they'd want to fall asleep with a parent. And in this house, that couldn't be him.
With a sigh he stretched his muscles. Waited. Identified his small son clambering out of his bed. He transferred his attentions to Padmé, sent a whisper of caress over her. A silent apology for the boy who would soon drag her from her sleep.
But then he felt Luke stop in the hallway. Right outside the entrance to this spare room. Anakin's eyes were open and he was staring patiently at the door when Luke finally walked through.
"What's wrong?" he murmured.
He held out his arms. And Luke made a dash for them, clambering up onto the bed. Two little arms threw themselves around his neck.
"Can I sleep with you?"
Confused, Anakin reached out and brushed against Luke's mind. There were no lingering remnants of a nightmare. No obvious fear.
But there was a longing. A loneliness. Startled, Anakin realised he was observing the same distress he felt when he was away from his family.
He wrapped his arms around his little prince.
"Of course you can sleep with me."
The two of them lay down and Luke curled happily into his side. But as soon as the lights dimmed once more, sleep seemed to elude the younger Skywalker.
He started whispering over-dramatically. Things he would never be able to say around his grandparents and cousins and aunt and uncle without getting all of them into a lot of trouble.
"I can feel you," was the first decided announcement.
Anakin looked down at Luke with a grin. Brushed his fingers over Luke's forehead.
"Here?" he asked quietly.
Luke nodded. Tiny fingers came up and rested over his heart.
"And here too," he confided.
"Do you just feel me?"
Luke shook his head.
"Leia too. And –" he paused. "Mummy too, but not the same."
Anakin grinned and gave Luke a squeeze.
"No, she feels different," he agreed with his son.
"It's harder to feel her. She's not as – strong."
Anakin wouldn't know about that. He almost fed off Padmé's force presence it was so strong in his life. She definitely wasn't Jedi material but being around her almost blinded Anakin to anything else in sight.
Still, Luke hadn't spent most of his life longing for the soothing waves of energy Padmé emitted.
"Who else do you feel?"
Luke suddenly reached out and pointed his finger at where Anakin's lower rib lay still healing beneath his shirt.
"You're hurt here," he informed his father.
Anakin looked down, surprised. He covered his hand over the injury he hadn't even confided in Padmé about.
"Yes," he confirmed.
He eyed his little prince in awe.
"How did you get it?"
"In a battle," Anakin told the truth.
Then he paused. Looked towards the door. Leia was awake. Probably sensing that her brother was gone. But she took the path to Padmé's bed and Anakin returning his attention to Luke.
"Is it sore?"
There was a long period of silence, blue eyes constantly searching his own. Eventually they started to drift closed and Anakin too settled down to sleep. Until he heard
"Can I have a brother?"
Anakin was sure his heart literally skipped a beat. His mind filled with images of making love to Padmé. Followed by NOT making love to Padmé for what felt like years as she recovered from the twins. And the sense of loss he felt when he was away from them now. No way was he going to bring another child into that equation.
"W – why?" he questioned.
"I want a boy to play with."
"You have me."
"Not all the time though."
Just as Anakin was falling to pieces the door to his bedroom flew up and Padmé dashed in. Anxious with a physical tenseness that screamed worry.
"Anakin I can't find Luke."
He rolled onto his back to study her and the small boy emerged from the shadow of his side.
"I'm here," Luke greeted Padmé with a smile.
Padmé paused for a moment. Leia appeared behind her, clinging to her skirt. Almost frightened.
Padmé softened at the sight of her two boys. Leia's worry had been so overwhelming she hadn't even been thinking straight. Anakin's fake assignment had almost seemed real for a moment. Like someone could have actually kidnapped Luke to try and hurt her.
But here he was. Tucked up beside Anakin. Where she herself would most like to be.
With a relaxing grin, she shifted her weight to the other foot.
An image quickly formed in her mind.
"Well, since you and Leia are both up, why don't you come lie in my bed? It's bigger."
"Daddy too?" Leia begged by her side.
She smirked at Anakin.
"Yes. But we all have to be very quiet."
The twins nodded and, jumping from the bed, made a dash for Padmé's room.
Anakin stood more slowly. Taking the time to capture her in his arms.
And her mouth with his. Padmé groaned quietly and pulled her younger husband closer. His large hands tenderly caressed her back, bringing her body to life. She felt like a fire had been lit under her, when he tried to pull away for breath and she dived in deeper, refusing to release him.
Just having him back with her, even though they had to hide again, was so fulfilling. His entertaining conversation over lunch had her laughing until tears had fallen from her eyes. The way his hand had quietly slipped into hers when they were out walking with the twins in the afternoon had reminded her what life was.
Their kisses became more passionate as Anakin gently pushed her up against the wall and made her feel so incredibly loved. Began to arouse her very slowly with his hands.
Then a small noise interrupted them. Giggling.
"We'd better get back to them before they wake the whole house," she murmured.
Before they totally pulled apart she nibbled on his lips for a few seconds more.
"Mmm," came his soft voice.
When they disengaged for good there was no regret. He slipped his arm around her waist and they quietly walked into her bedroom, sharing smiles of contentment. In a highly familiar scene, Luke and Leia were already giggling with each other as they lay with the blankets pulled up to their chins, waiting.
"I want to sleep next to daddy!" they both declared simultaneously.
"Shhh," Padmé hushed, already seeing an argument coming.
The twins scrambled to flank him as he climbed into bed beside them, shooting Padmé an amused smile.
"Ok, settle down," Anakin murmured.
He let each twin curl up under an arm by each of his sides. Turning his head from side to side, he kissed each of their foreheads in turn.
"Goodnight my princess, goodnight my prince."
Anakin's head turned to meet Padmé's eyes. She smiled longingly at him, tugging her pillow closer. Making it clear that of all the members of their family who wanted to sleep on his chest, she desired the feeling of him the most.
"Goodnight my queen," he whispered, watching her intently.
The sincerity in his gaze meant she couldn't hold herself back. Padmé propelled herself up and leaned over Leia who lay between them. She pressed her mouth back into his, dipping deep in to taste him. Along her neck she felt him free Luke for a moment, and press his hand into her. His live fingertips brushing against her eagerly.
"Goodnight," she smiled lusciously.
She returned to her position and settled into her pillow with a deliberate slowness. Feeling Anakin's eyes never leaving her. Hungry for her. She could almost feel the promise of his love in the near future. She grinned longingly at him but shrugged. It couldn't happen now, no matter how much they wanted it.
Grinning in defeat he tucked Luke's small wiry body back under his arm. Let his eyes linger on her until he seemed to drift off.
Anakin woke to the movement of soft hair under his chin. He cracked an eye open, watching as untamed dark curls bounced in the corner of his vision. Leia murmured something in her sleep and nuzzled into him deeper. Grinning, he squeezed her close and pressed a kiss into her hair. Curious he rolled his head to the other side. Fine, almost white blond hair was the only sign of the little boy buried under his arm. He almost wanted to laugh at the pair of them, both so cute with the sweet innocent way they loved him. He gave Luke's head a brief kiss too, stroking his thumb over the little arm he could feel pressed into his hand under the cover.
"Daddy? Can we make a snowman?"
Anakin watched in surprise as the light mop of hair raised up to reveal a familiar face.
"What, now?" he whispered.
Anakin looked at the bedroom window suspiciously. It was barely past dawn and if the frost on the glass was anything to go by, it wasn't very hospitable outside.
"It's still cold Lukie."
For effect Luke shivered and tugged Anakin's arm tighter around him. Without even thinking Anakin released Leia for a moment, tugged up the blankets tighter to Luke's chin.
"Go back to sleep. You were up late last night," he tried to distract Luke.
"I want to make a snowman," Luke quietly complained. "It's my birrrthday."
In truth he was already settling himself back down to sleep. Anakin gave him a smile and a quiet promise of "we will in a little while." Knowing that there was definite time with Anakin in the near future seemed to help and Luke collapsed back into stillness.
Enjoying the silence he turned his head and pulled his daughter close again. His heart swelled as his eyes fell on an almost continuous carpet of curls. Padmé's large loose swurls blending into Leia's ringlets as they lay side by side.
Padmé was facing away from him but his eyes travelled over what little of her he could see. Admiring every line, curve, bump, corner of her tucked up form. He briefly rolled his eyes, knowing that if the twins had slept in their own beds he would have been able to ravish her into wakefulness. A warm nightgown fabric covered her arms but he could visually trace the line of each of her slim fingers, splayed out on the blanket. That small sight alone was enough to make him shiver.
The next evening found Sola's family just returned home and Padmé's parents out at a friend's home for dinner. Leaving the Skywalker family tucked up in the cozy living room. Quietly watching a popular fictional children's story unfold on the holo before them.
Luke and Leia had claimed the floor, their little legs absently kicking back and forth as they eagerly watched.
Their parents were less engaged in the plot. For Anakin it was hard to think of anything when he was so relaxed. Stretched out with his head in Padmé's lap. Almost dozing as she ran her loving fingers through the waves of his hair.
The only thing to bring him to wakefulness was Padmé, leaning down and putting her lips near to his ear.
"When they've fallen asleep we'll take them back to bed. You can lie in my bed for a little longer," she offered.
Anakin's eyes lazily opened to gaze up at the wondrous sight that was his wife – more beautiful now than when he first saw her. It crossed his mind that actually it might continue like this forever. Padmé would be more glorious every time he set eyes on her. If that was true, then he had much to look forward to as she flushed into the full bloom of womanhood.
"How long have you been here?" he asked quietly, studying the golden flecks of love in her dark, soulful eyes.
"With my parents? Three weeks."
"Could we take the twins and go somewhere else? The lake country? I don't want to be your bodyguard Padmé, I want to be your husband."
Her fingers danced up, tracing across his forehead.
"I'll make the arrangements tonight, we can leave tomorrow."
Anakin took a deep breath, released it. And revealed his final decision.
"For the next few years – I think that's all I'll be."
He captured her hand and tugged it down. Turned his cheek into her palm. Looked up at her with all the meaning made clear in his eyes. Their family could not be revealed in the light of day, could not be brought out into the light. Not until their children were fully grown. And they're starting to truly be shaped as little beings – he can no longer be absent.
He doesn't want to be absent. He wants to help them become who they're going to become. He wants to be a father.
He wants to be a husband.
He wants Padmé.
They may have other children, they may not. But until every offspring he's sired is far too old to be considered for Jedi training, which considering his own acceptance may have to be as far away as their late teens, he won't return to the Order.
"Leaving the Order is…complicated," Padmé warned, admitting in the same breath that she had put some study into the subject.
She looked at him worriedly, and he knew it was for himself that she was concerned. He considered her taught features for a moment, thinking of the grief his formal parting would heap on her – the woman who brought about the ruination of a sacrosanct Jedi. Then he momentarily glanced toward his innocent children. The ones who would be immediately seconded to the order.
"I won't leave. I'll just disappear," he whispered. "I will send a message to Obi-Wan, and watch out for him from a distance. I'll help people in my own way."
"Will you miss the thrill, the sense of achievement of helping to shape the course of the galaxy though?"
Turning his head slightly, he fluttered a kiss on her palm.
"Every day I will touch you, see you. I will return to the Jedi in the future but if there's one thing they've taught me, it's that with power comes responsibility. That lesson is the first I learnt. They mean it on a grander scale of course, to be careful when shaping civilisations."
He twisted onto his side, raised a hand and caressed as he kissed her flat abdomen.
"There is other power though. Other responsibilities."
Anakin was alluding to the power of fatherhood – of marriage and familial responsibility. And without having to say another word, Padmé understood. The kindness in her eyes told him that she also knew he was making the choice that would make him the happiest.
That would fulfil his soul.
When they return to Coruscant a month later it is Anakin who draws his cowl up, carefully obscuring his features in the darkness of his cloak. He doesn't return to the Jedi temple, he follows the balls of energy and light that make up his existence with cries of "Daddy! Daddy!" as they cling tightly to his hands. His mind projects forward to just what he'll be doing once they return home. His eyes dance to Padmé and the skin-tight flight-suit she's wearing, her features intent on her chief of staff. His body can't help but jump in anticipation at the arousing image of being tangled up with her. In his chest his heart pitter-patters a little louder at the prospect. He aches to be with her, and knows that soon he will be. Because now – he never has to wait, be denied. Now, he feels free to love her, take her. He can finally stop denying the strongest pull in his heart.
Now that he has made his choice, he is overjoyed – even though he is the one who will be hidden.
Author's Note: Hey to all the beautiful people who've read all the way to the end! This has been a megawork on my part – and one of the few pieces of fiction I've ever gotten around to finishing. Before Revenge of the Sith I was a Star Wars liker but not a Star Wars Fan. Then I saw ROTS and couldn't sleep, horrified with the idea that, for Anakin and Padmé, that was it, he'd never get to say he was sorry, or express his obviously deep feelings for her again.
So I started Hidden. And here we are, almost three years later.
I have a nasty habit of being swayed by reviews, where thoughtful readers who've become involved in the plot make suggestions for future events. Unfortunately this clashing of their imagination with my own ideas, tends to stunt my creativity and I can go for months without the words coming onto the page correctly. So I stopped reading chapter reviews for Hidden and I've saved them all up in my inbox. I've just glutted myself and can I just say
Wow! So many honest messages of encouragement and support for the story – it's unbelievable! Also a handful of strange comments but it's a big big world out there and we're all entitled to our own opinions.
I try to write for myself – getting the fantasies I come up with when I'm bored onto paper (laptop) for my own amusement. Most of them never make it off my hdd. But the many many reviews I've received for Hidden are more than I ever expected or could have wished for and I'm stunned. Grateful.
To those who have taken the time to read and review – I appreciate it more than you could ever know.
To those who have read but didn't review – that's ok! Sometimes I read other people's work well into the night because I get caught up in the narrative, then find myself too tired to do anything except fall asleep and dream about another writer's world. I just hope you enjoyed my little fic – after all, you can be like this alternative version of Anakin – one who's very much content to stay Hidden!
Best wishes to All
Disco Shop Girl
Sunday 15th June 2008