A/N: This story was written in response to the 'Guess the fanfiction writer' challenge at the JC. Unfortunately, my 'Britick-ness' gave me away!
Be Careful What You Wish For
It was late at night in Coruscant and the Hero without Fear was sleeping with his wife. Anakin buried his face in Padmé's curls, and felt peace for the long time since forever. Without waking, she murmured something and tightened her own hold round him. He felt his heart clench within him. He loved her so much. She was the only thing that kept him sane in the mad rush of the galaxy.
All too soon the dawn came. Anakin pulled gently out of his wife's embrace, careful not to wake her. She murmured soft words of protest but at the touch of his hand on her head, she fell silent. It was not a mind trick, just her unconscious acceptance of their separation.
He made his way through the ventilation shaft, navigating the maze of network until he had slipped into a service escalator. His very presence was masked and dampened in the Force. With every step he took away from his wife's residence, Anakin felt the weight of his worries, his fears, his powers and his responsibilities fall back on his shoulders. Anger that he had to sneak and hide like this only made the burden heavier.
When he finally stepped out of the Apartment building and gazed up at the balcony high above him, all the peace had had felt in Padmé's presence had abandoned him and he was a tightly sheathed blade of smoldering rage.
I'm tired of this deception! My love for her should not be hidden like some sort of immoral thing!
Only two things had kept him from declaring his marital status to the whole world: the desire not to harm Padmé's reputation; and fear of Obi-Wan's disappointment. But sometimes, even those two strong reasons were not enough. He made his way to the Jedi Temple like a prisoner to his goal, and wished desperately that his secret would one day be exposed.
When Senator Amidala arrived at her offices that morning, she had no idea that her world as she knew it was about to end.
"May I have a word with you, my lady?" Dormé asked.
"Of course," Amidala said. She sat down on the small couch she preferred for private conversations, expecting Dormé to follow.
It was only after her old handmaiden stood silent for long seconds, during which she glanced pointedly at Moteé that Padmé understood.
"Moteé, will you excuse us please?"
"Of course, milady." Moteé bowed gracefully and left.
Dormé sat down.
"She's been with us for almost a year now," Padmé chided Dormé gently. "Isn't it past time our full disclosure extended to her and Elleé?"
Dormé smiled gently. "I'm sorry, milady. I wasn't sure of the extent you had confided in Moteé of your relationship with Anakin Skywalker. I didn't want to divulge anything embarrassing to you."
"What?" Padmé was completely astounded. Sure, she had taken Dormé in her confidence after the wedding, but her handmaiden had never discussed the matter with her in the years since then. Why was she doing so now? And in such a public place as the Senate where even now sophisticated listening device might be following their conversation?
Dormé continued softly. "Of course, since you prefer a system of full disclosure, it might please you to know that the Holonet News will offer me a considerable sum of credits if I can confirm your affair."
She paused, expecting Padmé to say something but the Senator from Naboo was speechless with shock. She stared at her handmaiden as if she could no longer recognize the woman.
Solicitously, Dormé added, "The Jedi, too, will be interested in this information."
Blood rushed into Padmé's cheeks. "Are you trying to blackmail me?"
"Well, milady, I do not mean to try." Dormé's low respectful voice made Padmé want to slap the two-faced little blackmailer across her face. "I'm very sorry, milady but I never was cut out to be a handmaiden for long."
"No!" Anakin shouted. "Don't do it!"
"I can't give into this," Padmé said, trying to keep her voice even though her body was still shaking with outrage. "We can't. It will only get worse, Anakin. I'll resign before the worst of the damage can be done. As for you and the Council…" Her voice trailed off and broke. "I'm sorry, Anakin. I'm so sorry!"
Anakin wished he was with her so he could put his arms around her. The thought of confronting Obi-Wan pained him, and the thought of not being a Jedi anymore frightened him. But he had been ready to risk all those things to be with Padmé before and his feelings had not changed. It was the pain Padmé was going through now that made him long to go after Dormé and introduce her to the business end of his lightsaber.
"Anakin, are you still there?"
He clenched his fist round the COM link and breathed out his anger. Padmé needed him now to be strong enough for both of them. To think.
"Did she let you know for how long she was willing to wait?"
"Anakin, I'm not interested-"
"Padmé, please did she tell you?"
Padmé sighed. "She told me a day and I told her fine. It'll give me enough time to tie up loose ends here, give word to the Queen, and formally resign before the Holonet News picks up the rumor… and you to meet the Council"
A day wasn't much but it was something and Anakin had the rare privilege of having a friend who had the power to make things happen in one day. He had never dared take Palpatine up on any of his repeated offers of personal favors. That was about to change.
Anakin's face twisted. He broke out of his rigid stance and started pacing the length and breadth of the Chancellor's office like a caged beast.
"Yes." His voice was a mixture of pride and defiance.
"Are the Jedi aware of this?" Shock and concern oozing out of Palpatine's voice.
"Not even your Master?"
"O dear, that is problematic."
"I don't care about the Jedi," Anakin declared. "All I care about is Padmé. She's planning on resigning before the scandal starts but… I know her. She complains about her work but she loves what she does. The Queen may never trust her after this. This would ruin her completely."
"W-well," Palpatine said slowly. "Perhaps it is for the best. Certainly, this double life can't be healthy for any marriage. Perhaps it's time for you and Senator Amidala to-"
Anakin moved from where he had paced to the furthest side of the office and was by Palpatine's side in the blink of an eye.
The Chancellor started at the sudden movement, alarm on his face.
"Jedi Skywalker, try to contain your-"
"Please, your Excellency! Help me. If this happens, Padmé and I… Padmé could hate me for this! Maybe not now but one day, she will! I know she will! I can't lose her, Chancellor! I can't lose her!"
The Chancellor stared up at the young Jedi, lines of sympathy etching in his face. He closed his eyes briefly and when he opened them, they were tired.
"I've never understood the Code's rules against human affection, my son," he said at last. "I make no promises but I-I'll do what I can."
Relief was like a cloud of rain on his head after a hundred days of wandering through a sand dune.
Anakin didn't even know he was going to make the motion until he had fallen to his knees before the Chancellor.
"Thank you," he said, gasping. "Thank you, your Excellency."
Palpatine placed a fatherly hand on Anakin's bowed head and made a soothing noise. Lord Sidious looked down at the kneeling figure of the Chosen One and he smiled.
It had been a busy day for Padmé. Ever the soul of responsibility, she did not plan on leaving her offices without first tidying up her affairs. Audits were made; deputies appointed; bills allotted. She hinted to Moteé and Elleé about their new duties without revealing the details. She placed express orders that Dormé not be allowed within the confines of the Delegation to Naboo offices.
At the end of the day, long after most of the non-nocturnal sentients that worked in the Senate had retired to their homes, Senator Amidala typed her resignation letter. She reviewed it once and saw no errors. Simple and to the point. It was written in elaborate parchment, as deserving of its import, and when she rolled it into a scroll and used her official seal for the last time, she was struck with an overwhelming sense of relief.
After almost two decades of living her life for others, Padmé Naberrie – no, Padmé Skywalker – was going to start living her life for herself. She and Anakin. She felt horrible and selfish for being happy that Anakin would lose his dream of being a Jedi, but the wife in Padmé could not help rejoicing that no longer would she spend her mornings checking casualty lists for her husband's name. A few weeks of scandal and gossip would be expected but after a while, the Holonet crew and gossip-mongers would find fresh meat. And she and Anakin could live their lives fully and completely together, and without deceit.
A sigh of complete contentment filled her face like sunrise after a cloudless night.
Perhaps even – at long last – she and Anakin could start a family.
There was a knock on the door.
"Come in," she called cheerfully.
Dormé sidled into the office.
Two months and endless battles passed and at last one late night in Coruscant, the Hero without Fear found his way into his wife's arms.
He came with his usual gift of fresh scars, bearing a particularly striking one that seemed to pass through his right eye. Padmé held him as if she could keep him in her arms forever and tried not to torment herself with thoughts of how differently things might have been.
"Padmé." His voice was a soft murmur in the darkness. "What is it?"
She sighed deeply. "Dormé sent in her resignation letter from Naboo this morning."
She felt the shrug of his muscles beneath her hands. "So? I'm surprised you kept her in your service after what happened."
"She was so contrite. Her mother had been ill and she didn't know what to do. We've been friends for so long."
"And in the last couple of months, she changed so much that you could barely recognize her, remember?" Anakin countered. He didn't say it but the implied words, you're too trusting, Padmé echoed between them.
She sighed again and curled completely into the crook of his arm. Quietly, she told him her heart. "By now it – the scandal, the gossip – would have been all over. We would have been happy and at peace and together. No more lies. No more sneaking around. We would have made our own lives, Anakin – away from the Jedi and politics."
Anakin started, staring at her with complete surprise. Then his face positively glowed and his arms tightened around her like bands of steel. "We will, Padmé. Soon. I promise you. I will win this War and then-"
She shushed him with one finger. "All I want is you love, Anakin," she said softly. She replaced her finger with her lips and she gave him a kiss that was a prayer from her soul. A prayer that one day he would understand that she truly meant those words.
His hand came up to tangle in her hair and for a while, they forgot everything but each other.
That night, the Chancellor of the Republic worked deep into the night. After amusing himself with reports of the Jedi's conquests and losses in battle, particularly in Anakin Skywalker's latest heroic victory, he immersed himself in his alter ego's personae and reveled in the subtle eddies of the Force.
Not far away, an illicit union was creating patterns of the most fascinating nature. The weapon that would win the Sith their Chosen One was not long from being formed.
It was a thought to bring pleasure of the most acute nature to the Sith Lord. He treasured it in the secret recesses of his mind, returning to it time after time to savor.
In the bowels of Coruscant, the lowest levels that even the underground population dared not venture, the ashes from a twenty-odd year-old woman of Naboo origins floated in the sewer.
In the 'fresher of a Naboo spaceport, a changeling was resuming her true form after three months of deception. She stepped out of the cubicle and disappeared into the teeming crowd.
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