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ANAKIN'S REDEMPTION

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Chapter Twelve - Decisions

Anakin's mind swirled.

Luke and Leia will be with Padme tomorrow…

Tomorrow…after two decades of believing she was dead, he could actually see her again in just one day.

One day! It was incredible.

If he decided to go, that is.

There was the very real, very likely possibility that Padme's reaction to him would not be positive. If what Leia had said was true, she had spent most of her life hiding from him.

She had good reason to, after their last encounter.

The memories started creeping back into his mind, memories he had kept buried as Vader...

"I was so worried about you. Obi-Wan told me terrible things."

"What things?"

"He said you have turned to the dark side . . . that you killed younglings."

"Obi-Wan is trying to turn you against me."

"He cares about us."

"Us!"

Anakin remembered the rage he felt. He remembered his paranoid thoughts, how he was convinced Obi-Wan and Padme were having an affair. How they were conspiring against him, they all were; the Jedi, the younglings...everyone.

"Anakin, all I want is your love."

"Love won't save you, Padme. Only my new powers can do that."

He had been so convinced of his own power! He'd had no idea that the dark side abilities he was so proud of would leave him a pathetic, weak little creature, barely human.

"At what cost? You are a good person. Don't do this."

"I won't lose you the way I lost my mother! I've become more powerful than any Jedi has ever dreamed of and I've done it for you. To protect you."

"Come away with me. Help me raise our child. Leave everything else behind while we still can."

Why didn't he listen to her then? He remember some tiny voice inside him, begging him to listen to her. To run away, escape Palpatine before it was too late. Perhaps, they would have had a chance. But the sick voice, Vader's voice, was already too loud. It told him he didn't need to hide, that he was the most powerful man in the galaxy.

"Don't you see, we don't have to run away anymore! I have brought peace to the Republic. I am more powerful than the Chancellor. I can overthrow him, and together you and I can rule the galaxy. Make things the way we want them to be."

"I don't believe what I'm hearing . . . Obi-Wan was right. You've changed."

"I don't want to hear any more about Obi-Wan. The Jedi turned against me. Don't you turn against me."

"I don't know you anymore. Anakin, you're breaking my heart. You are going down a path I can't follow."

"Because of Obi-Wan?"

"Because of what you've done . . . what you plan to do. Stop, stop now. Come back! I love you."

It was at that point that Obi-Wan had appeared at the entrance to Padme's ship. Anakin's blood had boiled in his veins at this treachery. In his mind, Obi-Wan's appearance proved his suspicions were true. He had images of Padme and Obi-Wan together in bed, plotting his destruction, laughing at pitiful naïve Anakin ...

"Liar!" he'd screamed at Padme.

"No!"

"You're with HIM. You've betrayed me! You brought him here to kill me!"

"NO! Anakin. I swear ... I ..."

Anakin felt sick at the next part of the memory. The look on Padme's face as she clutched her throat. The betrayal in her eyes.

He'd promised to protect her! Something in the very back of his mind had screamed at him to stop. But the new, dark voice that dominated his thoughts was too strong. He was going to make her pay...and he did.

Anakin gagged, trying to get the memory out of his head. He fell forward, his chest heaving.

"Father?"

Anakin tried to pull himself together at the sound of his son's voice.
"Are you alright?"
"I'm fine son," gulped Anakin.
"No you're not...what is it?"

"I..." Anakin looked at Luke helplessly. Should he tell him?

"Father, something's wrong. You must tell me!"
"It's...Padme. I know...I know about tomorrow."
"Oh." Luke sighed. "I was going to tell you..."
"I can understand why you didn't."

"Father..." began Luke. "I know how much you want to see her again. I do. But like we talked about already, it's not something you should rush into..."
"I know, son. I meant what I said. It's just...knowing that you are going tomorrow...makes it so much more real. I haven't seen her in so long, and I just..."
"One day, Father," Luke attempted to reassure him. "At least let us explain about you, give her a chance to get used to the idea that you are back..."
"Let you explain? Or Leia?" Anakin was having difficulty controlling his emotion. "Once Leia has anything to say about it, Padme will never even consider seeing me again!"

Luke sighed. "That could be a possibility," he conceded. "I'll do my best...with both of them, to try to help them understand that you are not Darth Vader anymore."
"You haven't had much luck with Leia." It came out more bitterly than he intended it to.

Luke looked his father square in the eye. "I know things haven't worked out with Leia the way you wanted them to. But coming with us to Naboo isn't going to improve things. In fact, it will only do the opposite. Leia will have more reason to be angry with you if you go against her wishes."

"I don't think I could make things any worse between us than they already are," said Anakin quietly.

"Oh, I think you could. At least she can stand to be in a room with you. Things have improved, however slightly. Perhaps in time they will get even better. Do you want to blow your only chance to know your daughter?"

Anakin had the distinct feeling that the roles had been reversed. Who was the father here? Him or Luke?

"I..." He considered Luke's words for a moment. He supposed he'd made some progress with Leia...not much, but things had certainly improved since their first meeting. Better than the day when she'd aimed the blaster at him in the hallway...he'd never told anyone that he knew about that incident. Anakin had sensed her there, lining him up in her sights. He felt her intent. Anakin was more than capable of blocking the bolt with his hand, yet for a moment he'd considered just letting her take him down, and ending it once and for all. Many times he'd wondered why he'd survived at all, if it was going to be this hard. Then Chewie had stopped her, and the decision was made for him.

Luke was right, his relationship with Leia was still important to him. If there was any chance of gaining her trust, however slim, he would take it. Even if it meant not seeing Padme.

Anakin pulled himself together. "You're right Luke. I can't risk upsetting Leia. I won't go."
Luke gave a relieved smile. "You will get your chance, Father," he said, placing a hand on his arm. "Just give me some time to get to know her, and see if I can pave the way for a reunion."

Anakin nodded, a wistful smile on his face. He was quiet a moment, then he shook his head quickly. "I'm sorry Luke. You're going to meet your mother for the first time and I'm whining about whether I get to see her or not!" He tried to look cheerful.

"It's okay Father...I understand...really I do. Just...give it some time. Okay?"
"Alright, son. You and Leia give her a big hug for me," said Anakin in a feeble attempt to make Luke feel better.
Luke laughed. "I'll be back in a few days, with a full report. Who knows, maybe she'll be ready to see you!"
Anakin forced a grin. "Of course."

The two said their goodbyes and Anakin was alone once more.

The vision passed before his eyes again. He saw her...lying slumped on the ground, while all he cared about was killing Obi-Wan.

And now he was actually planning to see her again? How could he even expect her to look at him? He didn't deserve to even be in her presence after what he'd done to her.

He wouldn't go. It was stupid of him to even consider it. Padme had been dead to him for all these years, she should stay that way.