Thank you to everyone that has been supportive in giving me feedback. I really appreciate it.

It may seem alittle confusing but, it Italicized portion is a detailed memory.


THIRTEEN

Another month later…

After spending the better part of the morning searching for him, Obi wan considered for the moment that perhaps Anakin left already. Stretching out into the force, he dispelled the notion quickly as he sensed that Anakin was still on the temple grounds.

Obi wan searched the temple in all the places he'd think Anakin would go. It was not like him to disappear like that for so long. Usually after his morning ritual of deep meditation and a light breakfast, he would expect to run into Anakin. But today was different. Today was an ordinary day for some, a special day for others and a tragic day for one.

Obi wan was dressed in formal Jedi attire and frustrated in his unsuccessful search for his friend.

Judging by the light of day, he realized that if he wasted any time looking for Anakin, he would surely be late. He decided to make one last attempt and search in the sublevels.

'Perhaps he is assisting maintenance with repairs.' Often times, Anakin would be there fixing broken machines, making modifications to droids or searching for spare parts. While Obi wan found peace in quiet meditation in stillness, Anakin found peace in meditation during making repairs or creating things.

Just before the reaching the turbolift, he noticed Kit Fisto speaking with a padawan. He turned his head and smiled.

"Good morning Master Fisto." Obi wan said with a slight bow of the head.

The Nautolan casually glanced at Kenobi's formal Jedi attire. "Master Kenobi, you clean up pretty nicely. Where are you off to today?"

"Senator Amidala's wedding." Obi wan replied glancing at the padawan.

"Oh yes, I've heard it's supposed to really extravagant."

"Yes, I have heard that as well." He stroked his beard in thought. "I was wondering if perhaps you've seen Anakin."

"The last time I saw him, he went into the sparring room—but that was hours ago. I doubt if he is still there."

The sparring room. It was the one place he never considered Anakin to be especially at this time of the day. Sparring offered a great way to release tension and stress from the mind. He mumbled to himself. "If I know Anakin, he will be—Especially today." He looked at the Fisto and said, "Thank you, master."

Obi-wan turned and walked to the turbolift bank.

Anakin stood still in deep meditation. His eyes were distant and fixed on a spot beyond the remote hovering before him. His hair was licking his forehead, soaked in sweat. His bare chest slowly heaved up and down as he concentrated on the moment.

Surrounding him were eight remotes circling, pausing, raising, pausing, and lowering. With his weapon at the ready, Anakin remained motionless as if in suspended animation aiting for the remote to fire.

Suddenly eight blasts were emitted from them. He swung his blade downwards, upwards and twirled behind his back, blocking each shot.

Sensing Obi wan's presence and the need for a break, Anakin straightened and switched off his lightsaber. He waved his hand and shut off the remotes.

"I was wondering where you were." Obi wan slowly walked toward him with his arms crossed. "The ceremony starts in an hour. You are going to be late."

Anakin extended his hand and called a towel to him. Wiping the sweat from his face, he turned to face Obi wan. "I'm not going."

"She's expecting you. She'd be disappointed if you're not there."

Anakin flung the towel on his shoulder. "I can't go, Obi wan."

"Anakin, don't let your personal feelings get in the way of your friendship." Obi wan unfolded his arms, "I thought you said you wished her joy, especially today?"

"I do. I want nothing more than her happiness."

"Even if she finds it with another man?" Obi wan raised an eyebrow.

Anakin looked away and said softly, "Yes." He looked back at Obi wan. "You can't expect me to sit there and smile while she marries Organa. It hurts enough that it's happening. I shouldn't have to witness it. It's torture."

Not wanting to add pressure, Obi wan considered the possibility of Anakin making a fool of himself at the ceremony or embarrassing the both of them. Obi wan nodded his head and sighed. "You're right. It's better that you stay."

Anakin nodded appreciative that Obi wan saw his point of view.

"Well I'm leaving now before I'm late." Obi wan paused and said, "Padme will want an explanation for your absence."

"I know. Just tell her that I'm sorry. If necessary, I'll explain more after her---uh---honeymoon." He barely go the last word before his voice failed him. The agony of losing her seemed to be more than he could bare. He dropped his gaze to the floor.

Obi wan nodded. In sympathy, he clasped a hand on his shoulder and said, "I know it hurts now, Anakin. Time heals all wounds and makes it easier to move on. You'll see." Obi wan smiled and walked toward the door. "Love will find you. And when it does, it will as beautiful and as unbreakable as—as—as" Obi wan paused in his step to think of a perfect comparison. "The Tandorian stone."

Is he talking about the Farfalla stone? Anakin straightened, "It's not indestructible."

Obi wan turned just as the door slid open. "—shows how much my former padawan paid attention in Master Kloon's Ancient myths and artifacts class." He continued out of the door, "Of course it is. I'll see you later."

Five hours later…

The ceremony was more than Obi wan expected. He slowly walked along the corridor from the turbolift thinking about how he'd spend the rest of his day. It was still early. He considered perhaps he'd check on Anakin.

He turned down the corridor towards his quarters and discovered Anakin standing by window in the hall. He was pensive gazing at the cityscape of Coruscant. Though it was another reality, it wasn't long ago that he chased Luke around the ship or rocked Leia to sleep. He missed them so much and it seemed that now he'd never ever see his beloved children. He barely had the chance to be the father he knew he could be.

"How did she look?" Anakin spoke without looking at him.

Obi wan walked closer to him and said, "She was radiant."

"I know. I can imagine."

"How long have you been standing here?"

"I don't know maybe half a standard hour." He looked at Obi wan. His eyes were devoid of the light that used to brighten his face. "Shouldn't you be at the reception?"

"I am not much for receptions. I wished her well though—from the both of us."

Anakin nodded.

"Is she happy?"

"She will be." Obi wan felt helpless for his heartbroken friend.

Anakin sighed.

"Anakin, there is something—"

"I am going to accept the mission to Saqura Prime."

"What?" Obi wan dropped his hands. "You can't be serious."

"Actually I am quite serious. I am going to formally submit my acceptance in the morning."

"Risking your life is no way to purge the pain in your heart, Anakin."

"I need to do this. I need to find a way to move on. I don't think I can go on like this. I feel like I am dying inside." Anakin turned toward Obi wan.

"Perhaps—perhaps you should give this more thought."

"I have been through many battles. Completed every mission set before me. I can handle this. I am going to do this and that's it." Annoyed, Anakin rubbed his temples. "I need some air. I am going for a walk."

Obi wan folded his arm and rubbed his beard in thought. He was confident Anakin would be happy, hopefully sooner than later. As Anakin stepped around him to walk down the hall, Obi wan turned and said, "Might I suggest you visit the temple gardens. It's very conducive for meditation. You may feel much better afterwards."

Anakin nodded his head in consideration, "Thanks."

He walked along the corridor and disappeared around the corner. He usually cleared his head walking through the seedy parts of town, where all the solicitors and parts dealers set up shop. But the temple gardens was a place he had not been to in a long time. Perhaps a change of scenery was in order. And so Anakin took the turbolift to the roof of the temple.

Anakin stepped out of the lift and rested his eyes on the magnificent sights before him.

The gardens housed exotic plants from all over the galaxy. The garden was a large area that spanned the entire width and length of the temple. There were small waterfalls that fed into the brooks that traced throughout the area. There were steps that led down to a grassy area surrounded by trees of all types and colors. There was a path lined on both sides by trees whose branches arched and intertwined with one another, creating a sheltered walkway. The paths twisted and turned throughout the entire garden and led to and from the main entrance. The best spot in such a place was surrounded by bushes and exotic flowers with rare colors and shapes as had never seen before.

He stepped onto the path leading into the deepest part of the garden and ultimately the view of the sunset. Looking at the stars often helped clear his head. Along the way he noticed that the plants seemed to be brighter and richer in color than ever before. He questioned his memory wondering if it always looked this beautiful. He looked at the flowers he passed and remembered that just ahead was the Ryoo flowers, native to the Nubian system and one of Padme's favorite. He looked ahead and saw the back of the gardens and the spectacular view. Stepping out from the sheltered path, he stepped onto grassy area were the bed of Ryoo flowers were kept.

In the midst of the lovely vibrant colors of the sky and flowers, was the most beautiful flower of them all. The beauty of the each flower seemed to pale next to her.

There she stood wearing a white silk wedding dress that was very much her taste. The fluttery dropped sleeves that exposed her bare shoulders and soft skin. Vine beading and ruffles that cascaded down the dress and trailed in a delicate train. Her brown tendrils were fastened away from her face with bejeweled clips and pins, and hung gracefully along her exposed back. She was the image of beauty that most definitely belonged amongst the flowers in the gardens. She stood with her back to him, wringing her hands and biting her lip.

Anakin's heart stopped.

For a moment, he considered that perhaps he was reacting from the stress of losing her. His flesh hand began to sweat and tremble. He rubbed his temples then ran a hand through his tawny locks.

'This isn't real. She is Mrs. Arturo Organa now and celebrating that at her reception.'

He shut his eyes tight and opened them again. She was still there. 'Obi wan is right. Perhaps I shouldn't go on the mission.'

But instead of turning on his heels and leaving, his heart got the better him and he approached her. Along the way, he took several deep breaths to calm himself and steady his trembling hand. She slowly turned and rested her deep brown eyes on his face. The light of the setting sun seemed to make her dress glow in the decreasing light. It was if she was wreathed in pure light.

She couldn't read Anakin's expression. She couldn't tell if he was upset or happy. Ever since Anakin met Arturo, he had been strangely distant with her, never saying more than what was required, often offering only a sad smile or reluctantly shaking her hand even when Obi wan would greet her with a hug. Something was amiss and it became more evident when he didn't show up with Obi wan at the wedding ceremony. Deep in Padme's heart there was something begging to be let out. There was something that needed to be said. She put it off so many times in fear of looking like a fool. Now she couldn't let it go on any longer. It was killing to her to keep it inside, hoping it would fade or pretend there was nothing to say. Padme had to clear the air in order to save her sanity.

Attempting a smile, she said shakily. "Hi."

"Hi." Anakin furled his brow and moved closer to her. "Shouldn't you be at your reception?"

Padme looked down her hands and paused considering her chance of changing her mind. 'This is the closest I have come to doing this. I've gotta go all the way.'

"Anakin, we need to talk. I couldn't put this off any longer." She motioned to the bench beside her. "Please, sit with me."

Anakin swallowed wondering curiously what was so important that she had to leave her reception to tell him. Together the two of them sat down and she nervously began to speak.

"I noticed you weren't at the ceremony earlier."

Anakin looked away. "I know. I-I couldn't go." He looked into her eyes. "I'm sorry about that." Anakin didn't realize how much his absence affected her.

"And I have noticed that ever since you met Arturo, you have been very distant with me. Things are not like how it used to be. We don't talk anymore. You barely say more than a few sentences to me. I was beginning to suspect that you want to end our friendship." Padme's eyes were locked on his and seemed to swallow him whole.

He felt he was being a good friend to her by supporting her on her special day. Guilt began to rear its head as he reconsidered that perhaps if he had just attended the ceremony it wouldn't have been than bad. Obi wan would have been there to get him through it all.

He opened his mouth to speak but she halted his words as she raised a hand. "Apologies are not necessary. I don't blame you. In fact, I probably would have reacted the same way." She turned her eyes toward the setting sun and continued.

"It's been seven years since that moment we shared on the lake at Varykino. Our friendship has changed dramatically since that day. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened had you not stopped what was clearly about to happen."

"We never discussed that. We should have though. In that moment back then, I felt something for you. It was profound and was like nothing I have ever felt before. When you stopped—us—from happening, I realized that I couldn't be without that feeling again."

Unbidden, the tears began to pour down her cheeks. "I spent years trying to discover that feeling with someone else. But I couldn't. Instead I found Arturo and I thought that in time, I would learn to feel that way with him. But it never happened. I discovered that every time I am with you, every time I see you, every time I think you the feeling grows and grows until now---until now it overpowering every thing that enters my mind."

She looked at Anakin, "and my heart. You are the only one who makes me feel like this. Anakin, you are my waking thought and my nightly wish for my dreams."

She looked down at her hands, "I wasn't sure at Varykino and I still don't know now how you feel about me. It was my fear of you stopping us again that held my tongue. I knew that as a Jedi nothing could ever come it. You've indicated that much. I wanted to move on and I had hoped that if I met a good man and married him and lived my life that perhaps what I felt for you would fade into nothing. But it hasn't. In fact it's so strong its torture to be near you and feel this way—knowing that it can never be."

The tears fell from her cheek. "You carry my heart with you, Anakin—and you don't even know it."

Anakin blinked, "Wh-what exactly—are you trying to tell me, Padme."

She took a deep shaky breath and looked into his eyes. "I love you, Anakin—more than I can possibly imagine. It causes me so much pain to keep it from you. Sometimes I wonder if my heart can bare it."

Anakin's eyes dropped to her fingers, and he froze when he saw no ring. "What about Arturo?"

"I couldn't do it." She shook her head, "not knowing that it's always been you. I can't commit to someone I don't love."

Anakin raised his eyes to hers. Through her watery eyes, Anakin could see the deep pools of brown that he used to drown in lifetimes ago. He saw immense love and devotion. He saw undying loyalty and a need to be loved by him. He turned his head toward the sunset.

"I don't know if you are seeing someone right now, or even if you are still interested. In any case, I am sorry to put this in your lap, but I had to tell you. I have been holding in for far too long. It would have driven me insane."

Anakin remained silent. He stood up and walked a couple of steps away. This must be some trick. Perhaps I am hallucinating.

He turned his head slightly in her direction, "You love me?" He asked as if making sure.

"Deeply."

'Could this be?' Of all the realities Anakin had endured each of them denied him his one true desire. In the one that he has purged the galaxy of the darkness that plagued it, she is coming to him. He couldn't believe it. 'Am I so fortunate with the force, that it has not only blessed me with a second chance with my soul but has also given me love?'

"Please Anakin if you must turn me away--" Padme stood up and took a step toward him. "Do it quickly."

Anakin carefully considered what he would do next. He prayed to the force that this was no some sort of test of selflessness or sacrifice. There was no stone to undo whatever mistake he may make at this point.

For several minutes Anakin's shock left him at a loss for words. Padme could barely remain in her skin as she trembled hoping that Anakin would speak.

Unable to bare the silence anymore, Padme allowed the tears to blur her vision. Her chin trembled realizing that Anakin was silence was due to his inability find the words to let her down gently. She slightly lifted the front of her gown and turned to leave.

But she was stopped. Anakin's hand quickly shot from his side and held her wrist.

"Wait." He said, "There is more to be said."

Padme turned to face him. There was a light that was returning to his blue eyes.

"The reason why I didn't go to the wedding was because I couldn't watch the woman I love marry someone else." He swallowed, "I may be the chosen one, but I am not that powerful."

Padme sniffed, "What?"

Anakin smiled adoringly at her and pushes a lock of hair behind he shoulder. Cradling her head in his large hands, he wiped away her tears. "I have been going through the same thing for longer than you can imagine. I have felt this way and loved you for so many years. I have done the impossible for you. And now there is nothing left to keep us apart. I do love you, Padme…so very much."

He leaned in and passionately kissed her.

The soft sounds of his name, snapped Anakin out of his reverie.

"Ani?"

"Hmm?" He raised his eyebrows as he watched his wife on the balcony of their apartment. He stood leaning against the doorway.

"Where were you? It seems you were in another world just then." She said with a smile.

"I was remembering the day we first admitted we loved each other."

"What brought such a pleasant moment to mind?"

"The sunset," Anakin jerked his chin to the sun behind her, "I remembered how beautiful you looked against it that day--just as you look now."

She smiled. "I almost made a terrible mistake that day."

"Yeah, you could've killed me getting married to Organa."

"And I wouldn't have you as my husband, nor your child in my womb."

Anakin blinked, "What?"

"I am pregnant." Padme said with a smirk.

"Really?"

She nodded. With an increasing smile, Anakin stretched out into the force and sensed two new tendrils of life emanating from her.

Padme cocked her head to the side and smile, "Are you happy?"

Anakin walked towards her and nodded. "This is the happiest moment of my life."

It wasn't that long ago that he would have been walking the halls of his star destroyer striking fear in the hearts of those in his presence and cursing himself for all that he lost, or lived a life forever on the run from a destiny he could not escape.

The life filled with darkness, hate, anger and Vader were far behind him. He wrapped his arms around her, grateful that he followed the path that led to happiness and grateful that the force granted him a few chances to get it right. He thanked the force for embarking him on a fantastic journey that made him whole again not only in body but in heart and soul.

THE END