By: Mistress Eden, A.K.A.: Angeladear

Disclaimer: The story and situation are my own warped creation, the characters and setting belong to Lucas Arts.

Distribution: Angelic By Design (angelicbydesign dot net), Fanfiction dot net, and The Force Boards

Chapter One

"Having nothing, nothing can he lose."

By William Shakespeare

I can hear the steady drip of water.

It's like a heartbeat- comforting, yet maddening at the same time. It grates on my nerves sometimes. But mostly I just close my eyes and pretend that it is a heartbeat, that I'm not alone.

But in my heart I know it's not. I know that when I open my eyes there will be no one there, just the unrelenting darkness.

The water has brought a chill with it. The air is cool and damp. At first it was refreshing, but now I can feel it seeping into my bones, digging into my chest with an aching cough. I frightened myself the first time I coughed. It was the first real noise I'd heard in years.

A droid comes twice a day, lowering into the pit that is my home.

It never makes any noise, but I can see it because, for the few minutes it takes for it to bring me my food and take away my old tray, I can see the dim glow of light high above my head.

Sometimes when the quiet is drawing in on me, I feel a strong urge to attack the little droid with my fork, just to hear it squeal and watch it spark. I don't, because it is my only link with the outside world, and because I'm afraid if I do, they will forget me completely. If they haven't already.

I remember when they first brought me here, I was still numb from the loss of Anakin, and from having my babies torn from my arms. Sometimes, I imagine I can feel their phantom weight in my arms. Just like I sometimes awaken with my husband's kiss on my lips. I wonder how old they are now? Irrelevant, I suppose.

When I was first captured by Palpatines toadies, I was placed in a basic cell with the rest of the prisoners in the detention center. But Palpatine wasn't satisfied with that. He wanted to punish me. I'm still not quite sure why... I usually just chalk it up to him being a miserable, withered old man whose only joy comes from hurting others-which I figure is pretty close to the mark. Anyway, I had only been in the cell for a couple of days when I heard them come for me again. Dangerous, they said. 'Ha! I don't have it in me anymore to be much of I threat,' I remember thinking. It didn't matter. They came, and they took me to the special treat that Palpatine had cooked up for me. My own special type of solitary confinement.

When I first saw my new home, what little self-preservation I had kicked in and I tried to get away from them. It didn't matter. To three armed storm troopers, a single, sickly woman wasn't much of a threat. So, despite my voluble protestations, I was lead to the low black door in the stone basement of the detention center. I watched, heart in my throat, as they slid back the heavy metal door, revealing the shadowed pit below. They didn't give me time to think about it. They simply pushed me in and left me alone.

It hurt. The fall was a long drop, and I hit hard on the packed earthen floor. Looking back ,I was lucky I didn't break something. I didn't really appreciate that at the time. It wasn't long after that that I decided to explore my new surroundings.

It didn't take me long. My personal pit consisted of four walls roughly 10 feet by 10 feet, a small 'fresher in one corner, and a rough pallet in the other. That was it. Little did I know then that this was to be my home. I estimate that I have been here for 10 years now. I wonder if I had known then how long I would rot here, if it would have made a difference.

I'm racked with the pain of a spasm tearing through my chest. The damp is a harsh companion these days. I carefully ease myself back, leaning gingerly against the wall. At times, it seems as though I am not an 'I' at all. It's difficult, almost impossible, to hold on to one's sense of self in this place.

Closing my eyes, I run my fingers over the rough etching in the wall. It's crude and deep, gouged again and again as a reminder to myself. And maybe, to whoever may come after me. I don't need to see the words, I know what they say. 'I am Padme Amidala Skywalker.' I AM. No one can take that away from me. I've lost my husband, my children, my home, and any semblance of my life. But this is one thing that not even Palpatine can take away from me. I am real. I existed.

Though, sometimes, I wonder.

At first I thought that Palpatine had forgotten about me, about whatever evil purpose that he had for keeping me alive. But now I've come to realize that this is his purpose. He put me here to forget me- so that everyone would forget me. And in that, I believe, he has won.

It has been 5 years since anyone has even checked on me-five years since my last human contact. I know, because it was right after that that I began my etchings. One line for every day since then, each one painstakingly carved into the stone of my prison with a spoon I stole from my dinner tray. Slightly melodramatic, I know, but you'd be surprised at the things you will be drawn to do when the madness and the silence creep up on you. It's not as though I have much else to fill my days.

I do not feel the change of time, nor the passing from one season to the next. I do not know what year it is, what month, or even what time of day. Time is meaningless here, yet at the same time, defining. I can feel the stretch and pull of it in my bones. I feel old. Whenever I touch my face, I'm surprised to still find it smooth and unlined. I feel like an old woman. I'm only 34.

I'm not in such bad shape, really. Not much chance of me losing my figure, not with the way I'm fed. But then again, I can sometimes feel the bones beneath my skin, too close to the surface. Sometimes my skin feels like tissue paper, and I imagine if I press in on it, it will give and tear, and I will be able to feel the warm pulse of my blood beneath my fingers.

As I said, the madness wears on you.

At any rate, my days are not busy ones. Often I will do 'Tong Gi', a series of Jedi exercises that Anakin once taught me. Anakin... to even think of him brings an ache to my heart, even after all these years. Sometimes, I wonder if he still lives under that cold exterior that is Darth Vader. I wonder if there is a part of him that aches as I do, as for a phantom limb- a feeling of something that should be there, but isn't. Sometimes I wonder if he remembers me at all.

Sometimes, I close my eyes and pretend that I'm back home on Naboo, that I'm a girl again, madly and innocently in love. Sometimes, I hate that girl. 'Fool!' I want to cry. 'Stupid, ignorant fool!' I was blind, and it was Anakin and my children that paid the price.

I wonder if my children will ever even know I exist. It hurts to think of it, but at least I know that they are safe. As much as it hurt, having them torn from my arms mere hours after being born, I know that they are safe. Obi-wan promised me. He failed in his other promises, but this one I know he will keep.

He has to.

Sometimes I pretend that I'm with them, that I'm holding them in my arms and that none of this ever happened. I dream that Anakin is still Anakin and we are a family.

Sometimes...sometimes, it hurts to dream.