Chapter Twenty - Coronation
Anakin vowed to get revenge. He never imagined his Master was capable of such cruelty, but he was mistaken. Announcing that Faydra was due to arrive in less than an hour was a horrifying, cruel joke. It wasn't enough that his Master had let him think she actually was arriving when he vocalized his objection, no… his Master had let him digest that information for a full minute before admitting he was only kidding. Between spurts of laughter, his Master had told him that he had looked like he was about to be trampled to death by a Reek. His Master had also told him not to take things so serious.
Not take things so serious? This, coming from the same Obi-wan Kenobi who's scolded me many times for not taking things more serious.
Anakin only closed his eyes, inwardly seething at Obi-wan's hypocrisy. He hadn't had any time to figure out what to do about Lili until now, let alone Faydra. However, he calmed enough to let only a wave of annoyance pass through him before marching past his still-chuckling Master to find Lili.
Anakin strode down the grand corridor, passing several servants and palace employees rushing about preparing for the nights important festivities. Several smiled and nodded, bringing out a renewed politeness in Anakin in response. He slowed and stopped at one of the windows that had been opened. The cool breeze of dusk filtered in, whipping the delicate sheers of fabric around his face. He took a deep breath, inhaling all the sweet scents of the garden below. He smiled before opening his eyes again. The scent reminded him of Lili's shampoo. I can do this…
He followed the instructions he was given to find Lili's new suite of rooms. Seeing as she was to be Queen, she had been moved at the King's courtesy to her own Royal Chambers. Anakin heard from Sabé that she had at first refused, not wanting to compromise the King's own sleeping arrangements and that she was fine just where she was, Queen to be or not. The King insisted, informing her that he was to leave the Palace tonight with relief and for her not to worry. Lili had responded, announcing that since it was his sincere request and not a demand, she would agree. Anakin only had to think about it and grin, knowing that it was somehow only Lili who would refuse the King and get away with it. Anakin also wanted to believe that she didn't want to change rooms, wanting to stay close to him.
But, unfortunately, her Chambers were now on the other side of the Palace, far from his own room. If he had his way, he was going to change that arrangement. And he would have his way, provided Lili agreed with what he was going to do. Anakin strengthened his grip on the box he held, rounding the corner and trying to feel somewhat prepared to face his future.
He slowed when he saw a guard outside her room. Anakin frowned with displeasure at the notion that Lili would need more than him as a protector. He wondered if she had requested a guard outside her door or if it was simply a matter of all royalty having a standard amount of protection.
"I'm here to see Lil, uh…Padmé," Anakin declared, remembering that the rest of the universe knew Lili as someone else. The name of Padmé still seemed to sound strange to him. Was he supposed to call her that now?
The guard simply continued to stare at Anakin.
Anakin raised an eyebrow in response. "Please?" he asked with a slight tilt of his chin.
"No one is allowed entrance but the Queen's handmaidens and Advisor Mo'ral."
Anakin met the guard with a blank stare. "And who told you that?"
"Advisor Mo'ral," the guard answered with a forced grin.
So…the Advisor has permission to enter into her private rooms, but I don't… He contemplated his options, undeterred. He had to squash the urge to physically remove the stoic guard in front of him. He didn't want to receive yet another lecture from his Master on the improper uses of his strength. Instead, he decided that using the Force to persuade the guard into letting him in was a more forgivable offense.
"I am allowed," he said softly with a wave of his fingers that initiated the Jedi Mind Trick.
The guard's grin disappeared and he focused on Anakin's voice. "You are allowed."
"Advisor Mo'ral is not allowed," Anakin followed with another wave and a truly determined look. Ever…
"Advisor Mo'ral is not allowed."
Anakin was satisfied. He suggested to the guard that he take a break. Anakin also explained the new Queen would be safe for the time being with him. The guard nodded and moved away from the door, leaving Anakin alone.
He took a deep breath, trying to motivate himself knock on the door. Why is this so damn difficult?
He was saved from answering his own question when the door suddenly opened and a pixie came running at him.
Lili ran out, intending to find Sabé when she smacked into a brick wall.
Anakin grunted, hearing her muffled gasp in his tunic.
"Oh, goodness, Anakin, you scared the life out of me!" Lili scolded, pushing herself away from his chest.
She was wearing nothing but a thin-as-air slip with a mass of curls covering her shoulders. Anakin swallowed, already feeling the swell in his pants. He was thankful he had sent the guard away earlier. Anakin pictured himself trying to explain to his Master that it wasn't his fault he had to kill the guard. It was because he had seen her with practically nothing on, really, and that was a crime wasn't it? He didn't think Obi-wan would buy it.
"You should really stop doing that, you know and what in a Sith's Hell are you wearing?"
Lili was taken aback by the gruffness in his voice. "Stop doing what? And clothing, thank you," Lili said, innocently peering up through thick lashes at her lover.
"What you are wearing is not defined as clothing. And you shouldn't be wearing that while standing in the hallway where everyone can see you."
Ignoring him, she repeated, "Stop doing what?" Stop staring at you like I don't deserve you?
"Bumping into me. Last time you knocked us both over, remember?"
She stood there gaping at him, looking as if she wanted to give a rebuttal to his comment. Instead, she became the defiant Lili he knew all too well.
"I'll knock you over twenty times a day if I feel like it, you know. What are you doing here?" she asked, placing her hands on her hips.
Before he could even begin to answer, she turned around abruptly, causing the skirt of her nightgown to billow out and giving Anakin a glimpse of the smooth legs that were wrapped so tightly around him the night before.
Oh, Force help me…
Lili marched back into her room. He followed, determined to not let her just dismiss him.
The room was no different than her previous suite, with the exception of a grander scale. All the furniture in that room had been moved here and although he thought that to be quite odd, he didn't make a mention of it. Perhaps she was just reaffirming to herself that she had been fine right where she had been.
"I was looking for Sabé, have you seen her?" Lili asked as she sat down at the vanity they had "christened" earlier and began to brush her hair.
Anakin became mesmerized by the method she was using to brush out her curls. First, she would brush it ever so slowly and then run her fingers through it, as if to soften it out. Force, and then she would sigh, as if it was the most pleasurable thing she had ever done to herself. Anakin's mind went into overdrive then. He imagined how he would lightly sweep her hair out of her face and over her shoulder as she looked down at him, her face reflecting the sensations their lovemaking would make, rocking herself back and forth…
Anakin snapped out of his daydream at the sound of his name. She wasn't staring at him with a confused look as if to wonder what he was thinking about. No…she was looking at him with an accusing smirk as if she knew exactly what he had been thinking. And that she had caused it. "Yes? I mean… no. No, I haven't seen her."
Smiling, Lili noticed how red his cheeks were. She felt an arrogant surge of womanly power rush through her. She pushed the mass of waves over her shoulder and continued with the rest of her hair. "You're not supposed to be in here, Anakin."
"Oh, but the Advisor is?" Anakin asked, trying to distract himself now from thoughts of running his hand across her now exposed shoulder. The movements of brushing her hair caused the thin strap to fall down.
"Of course not, Anakin. Who told you that?"
"It doesn't matter." Slowly… He'll die ever so slowly…
"Anyways, I have yet to tell him that he will not be my Advisor. Sabé will be. I trust her judgment more than anyone when it pertains to Naboo. She's lived here for so long and…," Lili stopped, when she noticed how Anakin suddenly looked like he wanted to kill someone again. This time she assumed it wasn't her, so she smiled at the brooding reflection of him in the mirror. "Do I see a hint of jealousy, Skywalker?"
"Not at all, Naberrie," Anakin stated blandly, straightening his posture.
She put the brush down on the dresser and turned to give him a sarcastic look. She knew the use of Padme's last name was in response to her use of his last name.
"What's that?" she asked, pointing to the metallic rectangular box he held in his hand.
Anakin looked down, staring at the little box as if he had forgotten what it was. Lili watched several emotions play across his face and it only piqued her curiosity more. Whatever it was, she got the feeling that it was very important to him and so she waited. She smiled when he finally he looked up at her, seemingly decided upon what to say.
"Uh…it's a gift." Anakin cleared his throat, getting the rest of his announcement out. "For you."
He looked as if he was a little boy about to be punished. "Then may I see it?" Lili persisted, noticing how Anakin was clutching it very tightly.
Anakin chuckled and held the box out. "Of course. Sorry. I'm just…"
Lili took the box and turned away from him. It was embossed with a seal of gold flowers and etched scroll patterns. She worked the little latch on the front of it to open the box. She heard Anakin's intake of breath when she finally got it open.
"Oh wow, Anakin…."
Inside were six loosely coiled ribbons, lain on black velvet cloth. Each ribbon was uniquely embroidered with tiny jewels, flowers, and silver-gold threads. The colors were soft pastels and made of a material that shimmered in the light of the room. She held one up slightly, noting the delicacy and the craftsmanship of the ribbons. They were truly the most beautiful things she had ever seen in her life.
"These are incredible, Anakin. I…I don't know what to say." She knew she sounded flabbergasted, but she didn't care. It was the fact that Anakin had given her something so precious that mattered. She turned around and smiled, holding the box to her chest.
"They're called Suil ribbons. They are…very rare. Much like you are, Lili."
He wasn't sure if it was his compliment or if it was the sparkle the ribbons made in the light that made her smile. Either way, Anakin decided that he could spend a day just watching Lili smile. It brought out a refreshing and renewed sense of thankfulness that he had met her.
"Well, they are beautiful. Thank you."
"You accept them then?" Anakin asked with all seriousness.
He had sounded…scared? Lili wasn't sure what to make of that, but wanted to reassure him of any doubt he may have that she didn't like the ribbons. "Of course I do, Anakin. If they are a gift from you, of course I will accept them."
Anakin let out a huge breath, very pleased. The brilliant smile on the face of the woman staring up at him warmed his heart.
Lili stood and walked to the bed, putting the box under the gown laid out on the huge bed. "I shall wear them tonight."
He was hoping she would say that.
Anakin closed his eyes at the sound of Sabé's shout. And the moment was going so well… He didn't need to Force to know that she was standing there, hands on her hips, with a disapproving look on her face.
"You are NOT supposed to be in here. Force, she's not even dressed."
Anakin turned around to face Sabé and was about to explain to Lili's handmaiden why he had intruded upon her privacy. It was a very important matter, after all, and Sabé should know.
He changed his mind when he heard a sweet voice behind him say, "I told you so."
Instead, Anakin looked to the ceiling and sighed. "You're absolutely right. I'm not supposed to be here. And thank you Sabé for reminding me she's not dressed. I really hadn't noticed."
And with that, he left to prepare for tonight's activities.
Sabé thought it was quite odd that she could hear him whistling down the hallway. Shrugging, she approached Lili. "You should really be careful letting him in here looking like that. I'm afraid I'll see you limping again."
"I was looking for you and I bumped into him," a blushing Queen-to-be admitted. "Where have you been? I need you to help me get into this…thing, if that's alright."
Lili pointed to the contraption that she was supposed to wear. From what she could tell, it looked like a torture device with a headpiece next to it. She had already spent half an hour trying to get into the garment, but had given up to look for Sabé. From what she could tell, there was a corset in there somewhere under layers upon layers of gauzy fabric and beads.
"It's called a Coronation Gown, Lili, and I'll be happy to help you into it," Sabé said, approaching the bed. "It's been a tradition to wear a gown of this type to a Queen's coronation. Queen Amidala wore a similar one to it when she was elected."
"But, it's so…bulky." Lili had found a few hairpins in the vanity, twisting her hair up to get it out of her face.
"It will be beautiful on you," Sabé affirmed, lifting the heavy gown off the bed.
"What is this?" Sabé asked, folding the gown over her forearm. She picked up the box that had been hiding under the bed and turned back to face Lili.
"Oh, Anakin brought those to me. They are very beautiful, aren't they?" Lili mumbled around a hairpin she was holding between her teeth. She still wasn't used to fighting with a mass of heavy curls that was now her hair, but she was going to try.
Shuffling the garment she held over her arm, Sabé carefully opened the elaborately designed box.
And almost dropped it.
She was dumbfounded. "These are Suil ribbons. They are very rare."
Lili turned to see the surprised look on her friends face. "That's exactly what Anakin said. Why are they so rare?" Sabé's expression was confusing to Lili.
Still staring at the ribbons in the box she held, Sabé answered her friend's question, "Uh, they are from a planet, Suil. An ancient race of people on that planet died long, long ago due to an imploding star. They cherished beauty, grace, and harmony in all things. These ribbons somewhat symbolize that. There are few Suil ribbons that still exist. Anakin must've paid a fortune for six of them…"
"I promised him I would wear them tonight."
"You accepted them?"
The incredulousness in Sabé's voice almost made her laugh, as did her expression. Lili approached her friend and took the box from her. "Of course I did. How could I not?" She carefully took the ribbons out of the box and handed them to Sabé. "I told him I would wear them tonight. I want to wear them tonight."
"Tonight? You said you'd wear them tonight?"
She couldn't help herself. Lili began laughing. "Sabé, what is the matter with you? You're acting so weird. Will you help me put them in my hair instead of that headdress?"
Sabé nodded her head. "Of course I will, Lili. If you wish to wear them tonight, then you shall." She pushed herself out of her stupor. If Lili had accepted the Suil ribbons, then that was her choice.
As Sabé helped Lili into her gown, she had a thought that made her smile.
Should I feel sorry for Anakin?