Drowning: Chapter 15- All Good Things Must End
Author: Angeladear a.k.a.: Mistress Eden
Feedback: Angelic By Design , The Force Boards, and anyone else, please ask me! Thanks!
A.N.: Ok everyone. Here it is. The last chapter! ducks I'm not hugely thrilled with how it came out, but it says what I needed to say. I do think the last bit is a little sappy:P but screw it. I've put them through hell I can do sap if I want... cough I may end up redoing this, I don't know, it depends on the response. This story has taken me over a year to complete and tops out at 111 pages. Phew! Anyway, I'll probably be taking a break from this genre for awhile, I'm a little tapped out, and feel like playing with some of my other favorite fandoms, and I'm actually working on writing a couple of books, hopefully with better caliber writing lol. Anyway, I wanted to thank you all for the incredible support you have given me. Seriously, I don't believe I would have been able to finish this story if it hadn't been for the support of each and every one of you. Thank you. Really, you have no idea how much your response has meant to me. I love you guys! It's been a hell of a ride, and I hope this chapter is everything you wanted, remember, that there are a couple of things I am saving for the slated sequel so don't get disapointed if I don't give specifics on a couple of things :P. Thank you again! Hugs!
"Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive"
Sir Walter Scott quotes
"There is no art in turning a goddess into a witch, a virgin into a whore, but the opposite operation, to give dignity to what has been scorned, to make the degraded disireable, that calls for art or for character."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quotes
"There is no past that we can bring back by longing for it. There is only an eternally new now that builds and creates itself out of the Best as the past withdraws."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quotes
I awaken, heart pounding in my chest and nightmares dancing at the edge of my vision. The dreams swiftly fade as I become aware of the warm weight that is wrapped around my waist. Anakin.
Sighing heavily, I snuggle more deeply into him. Losing myself in the steady rise and fall of his chest beneath my cheek. His other arm is buried in my hair, gently cradling my head in the palm of his hand. His grip is deceptively gentle, his arms are like iron bands around me, and I know that even if I wanted to I would be unable to escape his grip. However that is the last thing I want to do. Lying in his arms fills me with a deep sense of comfort and safety.
My eyes flicker over the broad expanse of his chest, idly noting the differences. He's broader, more dense, and the once smooth expanse is littered with raised scars. Still I cannot help but think it is a nice chest. His face is relaxed in sleep, making him seem almost innocent. I fancy I can see the boy he once was in the face of the man he has become. But time and war have done their work well, he is changed, older, and wiser, as am I.
Some things however, have not changed. Like the way he makes me feel, or the way I fit so perfectly into the crook of his arm. In the dim light of early dawn, I can almost imagine that we are the only two people in the world, and that the rest of the galaxy has melted away.
In my heart I know that I am only lying to myself. I know that soon this fragile peace will be broken and I will have to confess my duplicity. The thought terrifies me. I don't think I could bear to lose him again, not after coming so close to reclaiming some measure of what we once shared, but I do not have a choice. I will have to tell him the truth about our children.
Soon, but not now. With that thought firmly in mind, I snuggle further into his warmth and allow sleep to claim me once again.
When I awaken again Anakin is gone, and for a moment a feeling of panic swamps me. Swinging my legs onto the floor I breathe deeply and stubbornly fight down the reaction. I fear my imprisonment has caused scars that may never heal. The idea that I will be fighting irrational feelings and impulses for the rest of my life terrifies me. For someone who prizes control so highly, this weakness is almost unbearable.
Pushing these thoughts aside I push to my feet and pick up my discarded nightgown from where it lies on the floor. I shake my head and discard it once again as I realize that it is ripped neck to hem. A smile curls my lips at the memory of how it came to be torn in the first place.
With a sigh I pad naked to the closet and put on a warm velvet robe. Like so many of my former outfits, it is far to large and hangs from my slight frame. Giving in to childish impulse I stick my tongue out at my reflection as I pull the belt tighter and knot it securely. Looking over my vanity, I cannot locate my favorite brush. With a mental shrug I select another from the innumerable collection of implements that litter it's surface and gently work out the knots.
I glance up to the mirror as I finish braiding my hair, and bite back a startled gasp. Anakin is standing in the doorway, ankles crossed and his shoulder casually propped against the jam. He grins at me softly and walks across the room. Gently lifting me to my feet, he presses a warm kiss to my lips. Shivers course through my body and my eyes drift slowly shut. Just as I feel myself surrendering to the sensation he releases me and steps back slightly.
"Good morning, how did you sleep?"
My eyes pop open and I shoot him a glare at the sight of his wicked grin.
"Just fine thank you." I answer formally. My chin raises several notches at his soft chuckle.
"You must be hungry by now. Common I got us some breakfast." He says mildly as he reaches out a hand toward me. I eye it for a moment before taking it in mine and allowing him to escort me to the diningroom.
I smile at the mounds of fruit, bread and cheese that litter the dining table. I glance up at Anakin and he shrugs slightly.
"I wasn't sure what you would like."
I laugh softly as Anakin solicitously pulls out a chair for me before seating himself.
Breakfast is a relatively quiet affair, filled with half starts, and awkward silences. We are still getting used to one another again, and it has been a very long time since either of us has truly conversed with another.
In direct contrast to our awkward conversation, the food is divine. The fresh fruits are like heaven to me, sweet and tart the juices burst against my tongue in a wash of flavor.
Bright berries, goomi, larkmelon, and juma. I can't recall the last time I had fresh juma. I freeze mid-bite as I realize that is not true. While juma has always been a favorite of mine, during my pregnancy I ate it almost incessantly.
The bright, painful memories of that time remind me of what I must do, and the food turns to sawdust in my mouth. My ravenous appetite vanishes, and the sight of the food almost nauseates me.
"Are you alright?" Anakin asks, and I raise my eyes to meet his concerned ones.
"I... No. Not really. I have to tell you something, and I have no idea how to do it."
He frowns slightly. "Alright."
"I wasn't completely honest with you yesterday. I led you to believe something that wasn't true. I am sorry for it, I wanted to tell you but I was concerned for the consequences and..."
Anakin raises a hand cutting me off. "It's alright. I know."
I feel myself staring at him dumbly. "You do?"
"Yes. I could sense you were hiding something yesterday, and it wasn't that hard to figure out what it had to be. I can understand why you would feel the need to protect him. He did save your life and for that at least I'm grateful."
The budding relief I feel freezes in my chest. "Wait. What?"
Anakin frowned, "Obi-wan, you were protecting him..."
"Obi-wan? What does he have to do with this?" I ask incredulously.
"If you weren't protecting Obi-wan, what were you protecting?"
I pause for a moment before releasing a heavy sigh and whispering softly. "Our children."
Anakin's expression hardens, and his eyes are like ice chips. "What did you say?"
"I said, that I was protecting our children. They are alive Anakin."
He is frozen for a moment before shoving out of his chair with a curse and stalking across the room. His back is to me and I can see the tightly clenched muscles quivering with pain and anger. "You kept this from me. You let me think they were dead!"
He whirls to face me and pulls me to my feet, his hands grip my biceps like bands of steel. "Why? Tell me why!"
He punctuates his words, shaking me slightly.
"I was scared Anakin. I was terrified of what Palpatine might do if he discovered they were alive. Yes I lied to you, and I would do it again. I would do far worse things than lie to protect my children."
His eyes search mine and I do my best not to flinch from the searing rage in those icy depths.
"No. It's not just that is it? You wanted to protect them, but you wanted to punish me too. You wanted to make me suffer for what I did to you,... to them."
I open my mouth to deny his words, and close it as I realize that he is right. He always knew me better then I knew myself, and some dark part of me did want to see him suffer for all that he had done. He released me with a curse and retreated across the room. This time I follow.
"Your right. I did want to hurt you. Is that what you wanted to hear? I was angry, hurt, and raw with the loss of my children. I lost everything Anakin. Everything! I admit part of me hated you for it. I had to watch and do nothing as my two precious babies were torn from my arms, and it nearly killed me. When I watched Obi-wan carry them out of that room, some part of me died, and I wanted to make you bleed like I did. I only got to hold them for moments, mere moments! Those moments have haunted me these ten years Anakin. Ten years with nothing but memories!"
He looks at me and I glimpse the raw woundedness in his heart. He speaks, and my own heart breaks with his softly spoken words.
"I never got to hold them at all."
I take a step toward him, hand outstretched. "Anakin..."
He shakes his head to cut me off. I've had my piece, and now he will have his, even if it kills us both.
"I never even got to see them. To know if they had your eyes or mine. Sith! I didn't even know that they were twins. I had memories too, but the only thing I could remember clearly was the look on your face when I choked the life out of you."
His voice breaks slightly and he runs a hand over his head before looking at me again.
"It's been ten years Padme. Haven't we both suffered enough?"
This time I do go to him, and his arms wrap around me tightly. Tears stream down my cheeks I whisper. "I'm sorry Anakin, so sorry."
His face is buried in my hair and I hear him whisper, "As am I Padme, as am I."
As we stand together, looking over the vast city scape, I cannot help but think of all that has happened. The terrifying highs, and the devastating lows.
Anakin and I have been through more then any two people should, and yet, here we are. We're still standing, we're still together, and I cannot help but think that counts for something. After all that has happened, I feel a new sense of optimism, a new belief that though obstacles may rise before us, together we can overcome anything. A little cliched and sappy I know, but I truly believe that it is true. There is still much that needs to be done. The Republic needs to be rebuilt, and it will have to be better and stronger then it ever was. And soon, soon Anakin and I will find our children, and we will finally be a family. I'm sure that there will be hard times ahead, in fact I can guarantee it, but that my friend, is life. Every day is a struggle, and a fight, but it's that very struggle that makes life worth living.
I smile up at Anakin as his arms wrap around my waist, and he pulls me back against his chest in a warm embrace. He bends his head down to mine and our lips meet in a kiss of almost unbearable tenderness. The remaining barriers between us are washed away by the resulting torrent of love and emotion that wells within us. Emotions, heartbreaking in their intensity wash over me, and through our bond. Love, fear, joy, and perhaps most importantly, hope.
My heart is at peace for the first time in far longer then I can remember. I find that I can honestly and wholly forgive him for all he has done because, for all he taken from me, he has given so much more.
He came for me when I needed him the most, he took me out of the darkness, and gave me hope. Something I had lost so long ago. Yes. I can forgive this man because I love him. Wholly, completely, madly, passionately, I. Love. Him. In the end, when everything else is gone, and all has been said and done, that one thing remains. Love. And that, is the most precious gift of all.