GUESS WHO'S BACK!
Disclaimer: Georgie owns the characters and all the other Star Wars stuff that I find great pleasure in twisting around for fan fiction purposes. I'm not making profit or claiming to own Star Wars in any way!
I'd like to note that I borrow not only from George Lucas as a major one, but Matthew Stover, James Luceno!
This chapter is dedicated to Fialleril, once again. Oh snap, Fialleril, where do I begin? I think that without your amazing support, phenomenal comments, and begging, this story would never have gotten this far! Thank the Force for Fialleril! THANK YOU SO MUCH! You are amazing! How can I ever repay you?
What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies. -- Aristotle
Anakin could find no words. His muddled brain swam in confusion, and he uttered shakily, "Thank you, Masters." He hoped it sounded as sincere as he'd meant it to.
Obi-Wan beamed at him as Anakin took a seat, still rattled.
"In the light of recent events," Mace Windu began the meeting, his tone returning to its usual serious echo, "The Jedi Order is moving quickly to locate the renegade General Grievous and bring him to justice."
His words reverberated through Anakin's head for a moment before Yoda spoke. "Young Skywalker's ascent to Mastery, perhaps sealed, it was, by his recent defeat of Count Dooku."
Anakin felt the eyes of all the Jedi in the room suddenly pierce him. He squirmed uncomfortably in what was now his chair, staring at the multi-colored tile floor.
"Eager, we all are, to hear your side of the story, Anakin." Yoda coaxed kindly.
"Master Yoda, if I may interrupt?" Anakin's head shot up, just in time to see Yoda tilt his head approvingly at Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan's eyes met Anakin's for a moment, and then they seemed to address the Council. "I believe Master Skywalker is hesitant to recount the event, because he feels his slaying of Count Dooku was unjustified and was an act of revenge."
Mace Windu's eyes widened a bit and he considered Anakin. "Is this true, Anakin?"
Anakin cleared his throat and spoke, his voice suddenly sounding much smaller in the large circular room of great Jedi Masters. "Masters..." he straightened in his seat, summoning courage. "Years ago, at the start of the Clone Wars, I committed a terrible act. Something that I am not proud of when considering this Order and its guiding principles."
If he hadn't snatched their attention before, he certainly had it now. Anakin's throat burned as he poured out what he knew had to be said.
"My mother was..." he paused, feeling Obi-Wan's eyes burning into him, somehow more intense than the others in his mind's eye. "... tortured to death by a village of Tusken Raiders on my home world of Tatooine. Despite my previous instruction to remain on assignment, I could not ignore my great attachment to her and I hurried to her side. As Master Kenobi knows... my mother died in my arms moments after I found her..." Anakin looked up, seeing a mixture of reactions in the faces of the Council. "But, I'm afraid there is much more that happened. I allowed my anger and despair to consume me on that day and I slaughtered the entire village of Tuskens responsible." He finished his story, not daring to look up just yet. "And when Dooku was at my feet, unmoving... I felt as though history had repeated itself and that memory was coming back before my eyes."
The silence that filled Anakin's ears was none too reassuring. It bit at him harshly and he could only wait.
Then, Mace Windu voiced his response first, penetrating through the heavy quiet that had fallen over the Council Chambers. "Young Skywalker, it has become apparent that you have failed to gain control over your strong emotions that cloud your judgment and reason."
Kit Fisto nodded solemnly, adding. "The Council was foolish to ignore your ailing and to turn you aside as we did."
Saesee Tiin immediately leaned forward. "Master Skywalker has admitted to a crime that could well result in consideration for expulsion for the Jedi Or-"
"Expelled, Skywalker will not be." Yoda announced, causing Anakin to finally exhale the breath he'd been holding. "Astounding is young Anakin's growth. Fading, I sense, is his arrogance and pride. A wise Jedi he is becoming. Punish Master Skywalker we will not for something in the past."
"Master Yoda, I really must protest!" Tiin argued vehemently. "It is clear that Skywalker is unstable. The Jedi Council may have just made a very reckless decision that could cost us-"
"Master Tiin." A clipped accent cut through Tiin's case as Obi-Wan spoke for the first time since Anakin had admitted to the slaughter. "I believe you are greatly mistaken. Do not assume that my natural bond to my former padawan makes my opinion on this in the least biased. I was aware of the death of Anakin's mother but I found out moments ago, along with the rest of us, that Anakin fell short in detail of this particular event. However, I hope that you take into consideration that when Anakin killed Dooku, it was not out of revenge, spite, or even anger."
Saesee Tiin frowned, and Yoda's eyes were riveted upon Obi-Wan.
"Anakin killed Count Dooku moments before the latter would have taken my life. And even after I told him so, after I tried to reason with him and bring him to realize that such an act was in defense, and it saved my life... he still felt remorse. I think that this, among many other things, represents a substantial growth, as Master Yoda mentioned."
Everyone absorbed the information for a few moments. Anakin flashed Obi-Wan a feeble grin.
Mace Windu's hard gaze rounded upon the newly appointed Master Skywalker. "Master Kenobi strikes a great point. I believe that as Master Yoda suggested, Anakin Skywalker should no longer be viewed as any type of threat."
"I object." Saesee Tiin spat. "What Master Kenobi just told us only proves that Skywalker is dangerous! His attachment to Obi-Wan is much too strong. Perhaps this time it resulted in the death of a menace to the Order, but who knows what could happen further down the road? I fear that the Council making Anakin Skywalker a Master has only added fuel to the fire."
Obi-Wan sat up, his brow wrinkled in frustration. "You speak of Anakin as if he is not a human, and a very talented Jedi, but a ticking time bomb that we must take great care around!"
"Masters." Yoda chided, thumping gimer stick on the floor. "Such anger, misplaced, it is. Indeed, a bond between young Anakin and Master Kenobi exists. Sense this, I do. But perhaps, wrong the Council is to assume, that a hazard, this is."
Mace Windu raised an eyebrow. "Master Yoda, I am astonished to hear you of all people denying the risk of attachment upon the mind of a Jedi, especially considering Anakin's great power."
"Denying the risk, I am not, Master Windu. Suggesting, I am, that powerful, this bond makes them."
Master Tiin all but stood up and yelled, "This is ridiculous! Master Skywalker has many times demonstrated an unflinching loyalty to his former Master through his time as a Jedi. It is clear that Anakin puts the life of Obi-Wan Kenobi before the efforts of the Order and would do anything for Master Kenobi, including acts that may plunge the Jedi into trouble..."
"I don't understand your reasoning, Master Tiin." The hologram of Ki-Adi-Mundi interjected calmly. "Master Skywalker both saved his former Master and eliminated Count Dooku. Master Kenobi has clearly stated that this killing was not brutally carried out in cold blood... so; Anakin Skywalker saved an esteemed member of this Order and brought us one step closer to ending this war. Such a noble act should be commended, not ridiculed."
Anakin could feel the palpable heat in the room, and he shifted restlessly, knowing that the cause of this entire dispute was him.
Saesee Tiin shook his head, disagreeing. "Skywalker's actions may have resulted in something beneficial this time, but his attachments and emotions make him weak and he falters-"
"Weak?" Obi-Wan questioned, his blue-gray eyes staring into Tiin's. "Anakin both saved me and felt great remorse in taking the life of the same man who cut off his right arm three years ago at Geonosis. Master Tiin, valuing life is not a weakness!"
"What concerns me the most is that I'm not sure Anakin would sacrifice the life of one of his Jedi peers for the war effort. This binding problem of attachment could undermine our missions..."
"Anakin." Yoda's raspy tone caused Anakin's attention to snap upon the diminutive green Master. "Have something to say, do you?"
Anakin nodded, and Saesee Tiin rested his chin upon his hand, listening with an adamant sulk upon his face.
"Masters, allow me to explain. I do not directly intend to harm the combined efforts of the members of this Order, and as always, wish to uphold the standards that were laid down upon its founding. Perhaps... I am not always completely grounded and immersed in its teachings when I make my decisions, but I assure you, especially considering the great honor that has just been given to me, I continue to strive for actions that will only benefit the Jedi."
"Can your loyalties be to the Jedi and to those you share a bond with?" Mace Windu asked, and Anakin was surprised to observe that his tone had softened significantly. "Such a balance is likely to be tested and pressured, Master Skywalker."
Anakin stared blankly for a moment, briefly taking in his new title once more, and recovering from the mere shock of being called such by the usually intimidating and severe Master of Vaapad. Then, he replied, "Having been bound to the Jedi Order for the better part of my life, I believe that I am highly capable of knowing how to advocate its values. And yet I still would admittedly race halfway across the galaxy for Master Kenobi, because, in all seriousness, I think... Master Kenobi would do the same for me."
"He knows I would." Obi-Wan stated firmly. "And if friendship is now illegal in this Order, then by all means, expel Anakin... but I shall go with him. I am not willing to sacrifice my comradeship in order to remain in this institution, no matter how truly dedicated I am to serve."
Anakin nodded at him understandingly, appreciative of the support.
The Council seemed to consider this for a moment. Then, Master Yoda's gravelly voice sliced through the heavy tension. "The right time, this is not, for a debate about the Jedi Code. See, we all can that need Master Skywalker, we do. Instrumental in the war effort he continues to be, and I sense, in the future, imperative his involvement will be."
"Excuse me, Master Yoda." Master Tiin argued. "Chosen One or not, Anakin should be entitled to the same Code as we all are and as the Jedi have been for as long as this Temple has stood."
"Making exceptions for Master Skywalker, we are not!" Yoda said, with new found fervor. "Request, I do, that you end this senseless quarrel right now. More important issues to discuss, we have."
Tiin harrumphed quietly, but did not press further.
Mace Windu nodded his head and started grimly. "General Grievous is hiding once again. The Jedi must put all of our efforts into finding him and apprehending him."
"Chancellor Palpatine has offered to apply all resources into locating Grievous." Kit Fisto added.
"The Jedi will not leave this to the Chancellor and his confidantes." Mace Windu said darkly. "Chancellor Palpatine's powers increase more everyday... I grow wary of him."
Obi-Wan's eyebrows shot up. "Master Windu, I beg your pardon, but if I remember correctly, not too long ago, you were one of the Chancellor's greatest supporters."
"Things change." Mace stated simply. "I no longer completely trust the Chancellor to do what is best for the Republic."
The entire Council fell into thought, considering the implications of what had just been said.
Mace seemed to read their thoughts easily and hastened to add. "Without sounding like a Separatist, I believe the Jedi must exercise caution and move to prevent the Chancellor from interfering with our affairs quickly."
Anakin had listened to everything in silence, horrified. Has it really come to this? The Jedi Council losing their trust in the Chancellor?
"The Senate is expected to grant more executive power to the Chancellor within the next few days." Obi-Wan was saying, chin-in-hand.
Anakin replied resolutely, "That can only mean less deliberation and more action. Is that bad?"
Several Council Members began to shift in their seats. Mace Windu locked eyes with Anakin. "Be careful of your friend, Anakin."
"Careful?" Anakin questioned mildly. "Don't you mean mindful?"
"No, he means careful." Obi-Wan responded for Mace, eyeing Anakin meaningfully.
Saesee Tiin, speaking for the first time since Yoda's reprimand, said sternly. "The fact of the matter is, you are too close to the Chancellor, Anakin."
Anakin's brows knitted. "Palpatine befriended me and he watched out for me ever since I came to Coruscant. What exactly are you implying?"
It was Mace's turn to lean forward. "During our sweep of the Works, we uncovered some evidence that we at first thought was too dangerous to announce to the Council, but now, I'm sure Master Yoda would agree that it is necessary..."
Yoda nodded subtly, gripping his gimer stick with an odd distant expression upon his face.
"We can easily link Sidious to Palpatine's inner circle by examining the facts. Shafts within the particular area of the Works that we infiltrated led to the basements of 500 Republica, where many esteemed Senators and the Chancellor himself reside."
Obi-Wan and Anakin, along with the other members of the Council, regarded Windu with shock.
Anakin felt as though someone had knocked the breath from his lungs.
"It is quite possible that if Chancellor Palpatine does not surrender these powers after Grievous is brought to justice, we will have to move against him."
"Move against him?" Obi-Wan asked with concern. "Master Windu, in order to peacefully move against the Chancellor, as you put it, the Jedi will have to temporarily disband and take control of the Senate."
"To a dark place, this line of thought takes us." Yoda murmured wisely.
Saesee Tiin sat up suddenly. "Master Skywalker's friendship with the Chancellor can be used to our advantage then."
Mace rounded upon him. "What do you mean, Master Tiin?"
Anakin, still slightly dazed, focused upon Tiin, curious.
"Anakin can report on the Chancellor's dealings. We can learn what he's really up to through him."
Obi-Wan immediately frowned, clearly disturbed by this notion.
Anakin however, exploded with alarm. "You want me to spy on the Supreme Chancellor? Master Tiin, with all due respect, that's treason!"
"We are at war, Anakin." Ki-Adi-Mundi pointed out.
"I do not believe this is a good idea." Obi-Wan spoke. "I am merely concerned for Anakin in this instance. This assignment blatantly throws into sharp relief Anakin's balance between the Chancellor and the Jedi Council. Putting such a task upon him, is, I fear, not only putting Anakin in danger, but the Jedi Order itself. Think of it: if Anakin was to be discovered spying on the Chancellor for the Jedi, trust in our Order would deplete, leaving the Chancellor to the power we are trying to keep away from him."
"Master Kenobi is right." Kit Fisto agreed. "Anakin should not be sent on this mission. There's too much at stake."
Saesee Tiin moped for a moment, and then sat up, clearing his throat. "Also, I think the real question in this instance is, can the Jedi Council place their faith in Anakin to do what's right for the Order? Clearly, his closeness to the Chancellor could cause him to side with him and..."
Anakin was both confused and angry.
Obi-Wan nearly leapt out of his chair. "I trust Anakin with my life. He will not let me or the Council down in whatever he is sent to do. He never has, in my mind."
"Trust Anakin, with our lives, we all could. But trust the Chancellor, do we, with Anakin's? Too dangerous, this idea is." Yoda stated.
"I concur." Mace Windu announced. "Until we uncover more clues, there isn't much more we can do without jeopardizing the Order even more."
Yoda nodded solemnly. "Council is adjourned."
Upon exiting the Council Chambers, Anakin was met by Obi-Wan, who had seemingly purposefully forgotten the heated argument that had taken place temporarily, and was refreshingly exuberant.
He clapped Anakin on the shoulder. "Congratulations, my old padawan. I would be crying right now, if no one else was near."
Anakin mirrored his smile. "C'mon, what's the worst rumor they can spread? Obi-Wan Kenobi spouts like a broken moisture vaporator? And I would watch who you are calling old, Master."
"Master?" Obi-Wan said, chuckling amusedly. "Anakin, you're a Master now too, so calling me that is hardly appropriate."
"Sorry, Master. Old habits die hard."
Obi-Wan laughed again. "I've watched you grow from a small boy and into an extremely gifted Jedi Master. I'm very proud of you, Anakin."
"Small boy?" Anakin teased. "You mean, back when I wasn't past your shoulders?"
"As Yoda would say, size matters not, Master Skywalker."
"Okay, but don't blame me when the padawans are all a head taller than you. Because I warned you."
Obi-Wan grinned warmly as the two Jedi walked down the hallway. "So, did you..." He glanced around and lowered his voice. "Did you see Senator Amidala?"
"Padmé, Obi-Wan. You are one of our closest friends, and I'm sure she'd want you to call her Padmé." Anakin pointed out.
"That's beside the point, young Master Skywalker." Obi-Wan replied.
Anakin's stomach twisted uncomfortably. "Yes, I saw her."
"And?" Obi-Wan asked. "Anakin, I don't mean to snoop, but I'm curious, how exactly do you plan to work this out? You're now a Master on the Jedi Council and..."
The two Jedi Masters stopped by a pillar, the halls around them barren, for nightfall was approaching.
Anakin drew in a breath. "Master, I plan on leaving the Order after the war."
Obi-Wan's eyes dimmed. "Oh." He looked thoughtful.
"It's the only way. Especially now..." Anakin looked at his boots. "Obi-Wan, Padmé's... she's pregnant."
He watched his former Master's eyes widened and a slow, solicitous smile spread upon Obi-Wan's face.
"Congratulations, again, Anakin. This certainly has been a day for you."
Anakin nodded dully.
Obi-Wan sighed quietly. "I'm very happy for you, if this is what you want..."
"More than anything." Anakin responded immediately. "Padmé is my life."
Obi-Wan looked slightly sad. "If this is the path you are destined to walk, I cannot interfere. But I will miss you, my old friend."
Anakin put his flesh hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder. "Oh, Obi-Wan. Did you honestly think I'd forget you that easily? Besides, it'll be awhile before we have to worry about all this."
Obi-Wan nodded. "Yes, I know."
"And anyway, you have to be Uncle Obi." Anakin added kindly.
A gentle light began to show in Obi-Wan's eyes again, and he laughed. "I'd be honored, Anakin."
Anakin grinned wholeheartedly.
And for a moment, the two friends stood together in silence, reminiscing to themselves before bidding each other farewell and parting ways, one heading down the hallway in a westward direction, the other turning toward the docking bay. The newly assigned Master Skywalker hopped into his starfighter minutes later, mind racing.
Padmé stirred and stretched, ankles aching. She yawned and sat up, a cool breeze caressing her face as it blew gently in from the veranda. She pulled her rich cloak to her skin, shivering.
As she stood up and walked toward the veranda, she felt two small kicks beneath her navel.
I love you, my little baby boy.
Two strong arms wrapped around her, but she wasn't startled. She had felt her husband's approach. She sighed blissfully and allowed him to rub her arms, warming her up.
"Are you an angel?" He whispered softly. Padmé laughed listlessly.
"Maybe I used to be. But now I'm starting to look like a fat bantha."
"No." He answered firmly, his breath tickling her ear. "You'll always be my beautiful angel, Padmé."
"I wouldn't have it any other way, Ani."
"So you think our baby's a boy?" he asked her, intrigued.
"Yes." Padmé smiled. "You and your Jedi mind reading..."
"I'm sorry, Padmé. It's hard not to hear your thoughts when you broadcast them loud enough to make the Holonet seem miniscule."
"Well, I suppose I'm just happy." She murmured. "Very happy."
"Why do you think it's a boy?"
"I don't know." She twirled a finger on his shoulder absently. "I just have this strange feeling... something inside tells me Baby Skywalker is a beautiful little boy."
Anakin felt a pulse against his hand that lay upon the small bulge that was his wife's midsection. He smiled teasingly. "Our daughter just kicked me."
"You think it's a girl?" She sighed in mock irritation. "Well, then. We'll just see who is right... soon."
"We sure will." He agreed, twirling a chocolate brown lock of hair between his fingers.
She turned to look at him. "How did the Council meeting go?"
An odd expression came over his face, but he ultimately grinned warmly. "For the most part, it was great... Padmé, they put me on the Council."
Her eyes lit up in delight and he hugged him. "Oh, Anakin! That's wonderful! I'm so happy for you!"
Anakin nodded into her shoulder.
"Oh Ani! That's such great news." She blurted out, bubbling over with happiness.
She pulled away, beaming up at him. "Did you tell Obi-Wan?"
"Yes." Anakin answered. "He wants to help us."
Padmé smirked joyfully. "I knew he would. He's a good friend."
Anakin agreed wholeheartedly. "Yes, he is. He's one more person I know I can trust."
Padmé's mouth twisted into a small frown. "Ani...what...?"
"Never mind." Anakin sighed. "It doesn't matter."
She looked ready to question further, but instead she found herself tangled in his arms as he ran his hands through her hair.
"Anakin." She said seriously. "I have to tell you something important."
"I'm listening." Anakin said sincerely.
"Bail Organa... he knows." Padmé told him.
His eyes widened. "Senator Organa...? Padmé, how much? What does he know?"
"It's okay. I trust him. He's my friend. He doesn't even know about you. He just knows that I'm pregnant."
Anakin looked thoughtful. Padmé watched the alarm fade from his face and he grinned. "If you trust him, then I do too, my angel." He breathed deeply, and Padmé rested her head against his chest.
"Are you hungry, my love?" she asked.
"Famished." Was his answer. He chuckled.
She smiled into the fabric of his robes and tilted her head upward so their eyes could meet. "I thought you would be. Threepio's been busy preparing something... it's been too long since we had a nice meal together."
A sideways smile appeared on his face. "It sure has."
"Shall we dine, Master Skywalker?" she laughed, the sound of it filling Anakin's ears.
He slowly reached around her, tenderly scooping her into his arms. She continued to giggle in surprise as he lifted her, holding her close to him, the silky tendrils of her hair pillowing onto his shoulder."
"Do be careful, Master Jedi." She smiled. "I'm not as lightweight as I once was."
"Nonsense," Anakin hushed her. If he was struggling to hold her, he was doing a good job of concealing it. "Lighter than the Nabooan wind in the meadow."
And he escorted her to where their meal awaited, a candlelit great room that was awash in the aroma of freshly cooked Nabooan daggert steak sprinkled with nola spice. Nearby a bottle of blossom wine rested upon the rich tablecloth. The cheeriness of the room invited the couple in, and they obliged, hardly noticing the golden protocol droid standing in the doorway.
See Threepio twitched nervously. "I do hope, Master Ani and Mistress Padmé, that you find everything to your liking."
His Master's attention was seemingly elsewhere, namely upon the Senator in his embrace, for he did not answer.
"Master Ani?" Threepio tried again. "Do not hesitate to call me if my services are needed."
The couple, lost in each other's eyes, eventually reached the table. Anakin lowered Padmé into the seat with a great, and placed a long kiss upon her lips.
"Master Ani, might I find it suitable to remind you that you are supposed to eat the delicacies upon the table and not Mistress Padmé's face?"
Anakin sat beside his wife and finally looked at Threepio. "Thank you, Threepio. I'll try to keep that in mind. But you know me... never one to follow the proper guidelines."
Threepio, apparently exasperated, left the room, muttering. "Sometimes I just don't understand human behavior."
Deep within the private offices of the Senate, a dark figure cackled, images from the security camera's memory reflecting in his gleaming eyes.
He watched her wait, quiet and obviously nervous.
Then, he came to her, and joyous lovers reunited.
A twisted grin stretched across his face as the Senator from Naboo revealed that she was carrying Skywalker's child.
He tossed the wicked idea of dispensing this footage on the Holonet around in his head, wondering how best to use this glorious find.
But he saw the answer in Skywalker's bliss-filled blue eyes as they locked onto Padmé Amidala, not leaving the one thing he cared for the most.
Another deep, triumphant chuckle.
It seemed... that there were other ways of using this to his advantage.
Anakin woke abruptly, snapping upward into the sitting position. His heart pounded in his ears and desperate breaths exploded from his lungs. He glanced wildly about until his eyes fell upon the prone figure that was his wife.
Her hair spilled out upon the pillow in long, magnificent waves, and on her face, she wore a small smile. Her chest rose and fell steadily as she dreamed.
Tears of both relief and shock collected in his eyes as he gently disentangled his arm from her grasp.
It was only a dream.
He sat on the edge of the bed for a moment, focusing on catching his breath. Padmé stirred slightly in the sheets, moaning sleepily.
He smiled weakly, overcome with joy that his terrible vision had not been reality, no matter how tangible it had seemed to him.
He stood up and grabbed his robe, then slipped silently from the room, heading for the great room.
Padmé seemed to detect the loss of her husband's warmth and awakened. Startled by his absence, she slowly ripped the sheets from around her waist and followed him.
He was seated by the fountain, gazing distantly at the war-stained cityscape outside.
She came to him softly, until she stood beside him. He didn't look at her.
Anakin lowered his head, and then locked eyes with his beautiful wife. She was gazing at him, concerned and curious.
He smiled feebly, for a moment thinking that he'd pushed the dreadful nightmare from his mind. But when Padmé's fingertips touched his arm gently, and he closed his eyes, a scathingly realistic image of his wife's tear-filled face flashed at him, her agonized, broken wail haunting him.
He shuddered. Padmé waited loyally, knowing he would tell her what was troubling him.
He opened his eyes again, and she was taken aback by the sadness she saw in them. The deep pools of cerulean haze sparkled with unshed tears.
She sat beside him.
"It was a dream..." He began his voice somewhat hoarse and husky. "Like those I had about my mother."
Padmé nodded to show her understanding and rubbed his shoulders. "And?"
"It was about you... you were... dying. It was awful, Padmé... I thought I lost you."
"You're not going to lose me." Padmé said resolutely. "I'm right here, Anakin. And I don't plan on leaving your side... ever. Your dream must have been allegorical... just that, a dream."
Anakin didn't answer immediately. "Padmé... you died... in childbirth."
Padmé couldn't suppress her alarm. "And the baby?"
He shook his head. "I...I don't know."
Then she took his face in her hands, forcing him to look at her. "Anakin, it won't happen. I have a very experienced med droid who tells me that the baby and I are in perfect health. I promise you, I'm not going to die in childbirth."
"No, I promise you." Anakin summoned determination from out of nowhere, his eyes shining with a new light.
"I won't let it become real. I won't lose you the way I lost my mother." His voice was suddenly firm and serious.
Padmé sighed. "You won't." She sighed and hugged him close. "Ani, how much longer can we do this?" She looked up into his face, visibly frightened. "How much longer can we go on living like this? I don't know how we'll be able to with the baby..."
He pressed a finger to her lips. "I think I know who can help us."
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