Characters: Vader/Anakin, Padmé Amidala
Summary: Certain the reports of Padme's death are another Jedi lie, Vader visits her tomb. One-shot.
Disclaimer: Much to my disappointment, there has been no change in status. I still own nothing.
Author's Note: This little viggie has been driving me crazy. I've been editing it for weeks, and I think I finally got it the way I want it. Please read and review if you have a moment. I will be eternally grateful.
I am still burning.
Even now, my eyes scream in agony. It has been two weeks since I was encased in this life-sustaining black suit… yet I haven't dared to sleep – although it would mean an escape from the pain. For every time I close my eyes, I am afraid I might question what I have become.
It is horrifying.
It is agonizing.
But it will all be worth it if I find my beloved on the planet below, alive and well.
I return my attention to the sights before me as they grow larger in the view port. Naboo is still the most breathtaking gem in the Galaxy – the serenity of its lush forests and placid water visible even from here. Its beauty reminds me of my angel and now, more than ever, I am certain she is there. Waiting for me.
As if encouraged by the thought, my fingers fly eagerly over the console, engaging the landing sequence. It won't be long now.
Despite my desire to get to the surface, I have to admit… the journey has been good for me.
Through my meditations, I discovered the reason behind my suffering, for the humiliation I suffered on Mustafar.
It had been a rite of passage, dictated by the will of the Force. The lava wrapped me in its arms in order to return me to my true self… to burn away the deceitful life I lived as a Jedi. I had emerged cleansed, a servant finally worthy of its power. The pain had been an unfortunate necessity, deepening my connection to the dark side.
I always believed I was a child of fire. Now I simply bear the physical proof.
It is even in the blade I wield. Blood-red, it reminds me of the colors of the setting suns on Tatooine. While the scene was one of beauty, there was an air of finality to it. After all, the fiery splendor signaled the death of another day... Quite an appropriate metaphor, I believe.
There can be no denial. I am Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith. I welcome my new parentage and accept it willingly.
But as I guide my ship to the meadows below, there is a whisper in the back of my mind. Soon, it unfurls into a loud roar and I nearly choke on my respirator as I realize for what I am wishing…
The man I once was.
One that was aware of the fire, but kept it at bay. The man who was a devoted husband, a soon-to-be father, a loyal brother and friend. The man who was whole in body and spirit and blissfully in love.
A man whose wife still lived.
My fists clench and I shake my head, refusing to acknowledge such thoughts.
The small shudder that indicates a successful landing brings a halt to my ruminations and I am relieved. Gathering my cloak and utility belt, I exit the small shuttle and quickly make my way through the silent capital. There is no one out at this late hour and I am glad for it. I do not want bloodshed on my wife's home planet. I will not dishonor her in such a manner.
It is all I can offer, in this moment.
My skin starts to burn hotter from the hurried movements, but I push on relentlessly. The pain will be a constant companion and I know I must learn to embrace it, as I would an old… friend. It serves to remind me of who I am now, what I have gone through to gain her safety. My path was chosen for a reason and I will not question it.
Moments later, I find myself standing before a pair of ornate doors, imprinted with the seal of Amidala. I lift a hand and send them crashing open, but take care to cushion them so they will not crack.
The chamber beyond is fairly dark, lit only by a row of elaborate candles. I feel my heart leap at the fortunate omen - fire is my mark now, the symbol of my new life. Surely, this must be a sign?
The floors are slick with moss and it cushions my footsteps as I move into the chamber. I can see her now against the far wall. She is clad in her favorite gown, her chestnut curls spilling over the plump pillows that cushion her head. She seems so peaceful, so still...
For a moment, my heart falters.
No! No. I will touch her and she will be warm. My sacrifice has made it so. My destiny is now tied to fire – surely I will find it in her skin? How could I not? It has always been there, brought raging to the surface by my simple caress alone.
At least, it had been. Before...
Reverently, I approach the altar and kneel, running my gloved hands over her prone form. My eyes trace the swell of her belly, the japor snippet clutched in her hands, the wilted teardrop petals scattered through her hair. Her skin seems to glow, perfect even amidst the morbid backdrop.
"My love, I am here," I try to whisper, but my voice is unnaturally loud and I curse the clumsiness of my vocabulator. "I am sorry it took me so long, but finally, everything has been set right."
She does not respond and I grasp her arms tightly, willing her eyes to open. A tendril of panic begins to worm its way into my heart, but I bring forth the roaring flame to incinerate it.
"Padmé, it is me, your Anakin. Please, don't be afraid," I plead. "I have come to take you back with me. We can finally be a family - just like we always wanted." I put my hand on her cheek and curse the artificial limbs that will not allow me to detect her soothing warmth.
With shaking hands, I reach to my neck and release the locks that hold my mask in place. It lifts off with a quiet hiss and my lungs immediately begin their losing struggle. I hardly notice the discomfort, choosing to focus on how hot my skin still feels, even with the cool night air whispering across it.
It is another omen, a blessing for the wife of the son of the suns.
Lurching forward in excitement, I sink to my knees and bring my bare head to hers. Ever gentle, I brush my scarred cheek across her parted lips, relishing their familiar softness. But there is something else... Something that is now so foreign, I cry out in dismay at the sensation.
A temperature that not even I, the son of fire, will ever be able to warm.