"To Have and to Hold"

AU- Post Phantom Menace

Qui-Gon was NOT killed at the end of TPM. Six years have passed. Obi-Wan has become a Jedi-Master, and Qui-Gon now trains Anakin. Palpatine has risen as the Emperor and forced the Jedis into hiding. They have taken the responsibility of protecting any leaders loyal to the Republic in the hopes that they will one day be restored to power when the Empire falls. Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Anakin are taking Queen Amidala back to Tatooine to protect her.

Disclaimers: I own not one shred of the lucrative Star Wars franchise. None of these characters belong to me. And I wouldn't even TAKE Anakin. Not for money. Unless someone decides to sue me, and then I guess I'd have to take the money because otherwise my family and I would surely die in the streets. So, please don't sue me.

Also. . . I feel I must say, this is the first completed fan fiction I ever wrote. It was a few years ago, and I hope with all that is in me that I've since grown as a writer. So, please don't judge me too harshly. At least it's a fun, fast read. Maybe too fast, but I digress. Please enjoy, and please review. I still have room to grow.

Chapter One~

Much of the journey from Naboo back to Tatooine was spent in silence. Anakin Skywalker, no longer the boy that left there years ago, paced anxiously. He had been dreaming of seeing his mother again. He hoped she would be proud of him. Padme Naberrie eyed him affectionately. She had grown to think of the young Padawan as a little brother. She had felt for him, so far from home.

Home. Her thoughts drifted to Obi-Wan Kenobi, the young Jedi who currently commanded the pilot's chair. He had been taken to the temple as an infant, never having a real home or knowing the love of a family. He was quiet tonight, brooding.

She thought back to her simple childhood and a little house in a field of yellow flowers. Even during the time that she trained to be the queen of Naboo, she had always had time for family. She couldn't imagine growing up without their support. Since taking over as ruler, she hadn't seen her parents more than once, but would occasionally hear from them in letters. She treasured their correspondence, but she missed the safety and comfort of family life– the innocence and ease she took for granted in childhood. But it was those ideals that she fought for, and that thought, in part, that made her so frustrated now. The last thing she wanted to be doing was running when her people needed her most. Though she didn't lack confidence in Sabe's ability to lead in her absence, she felt guilty for allowing her own safety to be regarded more highly than that of the people of Naboo. As her homeland faded further into the distance, her spirits sank, and she wondered if she would ever see it again.

Qui-Gon Jinn shed the restraints of the co-captain's chair and stretched his legs with a walk to the back of the ship. He smiled good-naturedly at Padme as he passed to go stand beside young Skywalker. He tousled the boy's hair affectionately.

"Soon."

His mirthful voice caused Anakin to glance up from his careful study of Padme. She was the first girl that he had befriended, and he had always enjoyed their relationship, but now, as he was becoming a man, his feelings for her were beginning to change. He shook his head and looked up into his master's face. One hand still resting on his Padawan's head, Qui-Gon scratched his beard and tilted his head in the direction he was heading. Anakin rose dutifully and followed.

Padme stood from her seat by a window, smoothing her hands over the wrinkles in the smock she'd been wearing for a week now. She took Qui-Gon's place next to Obi-Wan. He glanced at her but said nothing. She searched for some words or something to say to break his run of silence. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly and deliberately. He looked back, raising his eyebrows as if inviting her to speak.

"I'm sorry. . ."

"I'm sorry. . ."

They spoke simultaneously.

"What?"

"I. . . go ahead."

They laughed.

"No, I was just going to say, I'm sorry that you're being forced to baby-sit me. I'm sure that you'd rather be off doing something more noble. I mean, you just became a Jedi Master, and here you are. . ."

He cut her off.

"Queen Amidala, please. We are much the same, you and I. I see that you are burdened by your care for your people. I know that you did not come willingly on this journey and that you would be much happier at home in the palace, but your concern for me, as well as for Master Jinn and Anakin is . . . misplaced. Please be assured that I, we, count it a privilege to be entrusted with your safekeeping."

As if sensing her deeper fear, he went on, reaching out a tentative hand, he placed it atop her own.

"Naboo is in capable hands, m'lady, and we will return you just as soon as it is safe, but you can be of no use to the people if you are dead. This really is the best way to help them right now. . . trust me."

It was more of a question than a command. His kind eyes implored her to put her faith in him.

Surprised by the tenderness of his action, she looked up at him and smiled.

"Padme."

"What?"

"Call me Padme. . . and, thank you."

She squeezed his hand as she rose to go back to her window seat.

He looked forward again as the ship sped silently through the night sky.

"Padme."

He tested the name as if it were a foreign concept. He knew he had not met anyone like her before. She wasn't like other politicians he had known, out for only power and fame. Nor was she like other women, emotionally driven, shallow, or manipulative. Yet she was every bit a woman in her grace and gentility. She could be intimidating, but something about her demeanor was strangely inviting, and he wasn't sure what to make of it. He was somehow drawn to her. She had a quiet strength and determination that he admired. The power she exuded came from something deeper than her position. She was in many ways a riddle to him, but he had always loved a challenge.