CHAPTER 2

"So, tell me," she says. "What's on your mind? Or should I ask?"

I look up at the clouds moving across the sky above us, not wanting to put a damper on the perfect day we're sharing. "You don't want to know," I say at last.

She frowns. "The war?" she asks.

I nod. "Yeah," I tell her. "I know I shouldn't be thinking about it, but it's only a matter of time before…"

She leans down and puts a finger over my lips. "Don't say it," she tells me. "I know what you're going to say, Ani, and I don't want to hear it."

I look up at her, sensing that the same thoughts have plagued her mind as well. I reach up and take her hand and kiss the tip of her finger. "Okay," I tell her. "I won't say it."

She smiles. "Good," she replies. "Let's just enjoy this time we have, Ani. I don't remember ever being so completely happy in my life, do you know that?"

I smile as I kiss the palm of her hand. "I know I've never been so happy," I tell her. "I wish I could just make time stand still and stay with you here forever."

Padmé nods and I can see her eyes grow moist.

"I'm sorry," I tell her. "I didn't meant to make you cry, Padmé."

She shakes her head, brushing an errant tear away from her cheek impatiently. "You didn't," she replies softly. "I'm just too emotional sometimes. I just love you so much, Ani…the thought of being apart from you…"

"Shhh," I tell her, "don't think of it, Padmé. I'm here, right now we're together," I say, pulling her down on top of me. "And that's all that matters."

She looks down at me, her hands framing my face as she runs her fingers through my hair. "Do you remember us lying like this on this very hill only last week, Ani?" she asks with a smile.

"Yes," I reply. "Seems like a lifetime ago, doesn't it?"

She nods. "I can't tell you how difficult it was for me to walk away from you that afternoon," she admits. "I was such a fool to deny what I felt for you."

"No, not a fool, Padmé," I reply. "You were just concerned about the future, that's not foolish."

"Maybe not," she says. "But to consider a future without you now is beyond my ability."

I smile. "Mine too," I reply. "Good thing old Paolo is out of the picture for good," I tease her.

She laughs. "Are you still on that??" she says. "Paolo was never in the picture, my dear husband," she replies. "So you never had anything to worry about."

"That's good to know," I reply, pulling her down so I can kiss that delectable mouth of hers.

I run my fingers through her hair, savoring the delicious mouth that drives me so wild.

"Ani, maybe we shouldn't let things get out of hand," she says suddenly, pulling up.

I frown. "Why not?" I ask.

"Because it's going to rain," she said, looking up at the sky. "We don't want to get caught out here."

"Nah, it's not going to rain," I tell her, ignoring the way the clouds have darkened. "It's just clouds."

"Ani, I can smell the rain coming," she tells me. "Trust me."

"Smell the rain?" I laugh. "You can smell rain?? How is that possible?"

She smiles. "You wouldn't understand, being from a desert planet," she replies. "But the air has a certain smell to it when it's about to rain," she explains. "And I can smell that right now."

"All I can smell is you," I say, nuzzling the side of her neck. "And it's driving me wild."

Padmé laughs. "You are so bad," she says. "What am I going to do with you?"

I look up at her with a devilish grin. "I can think of a few things," I tell her. "Do you need a suggestion?"

She laughs again and simply gives in to the moment unfolding between us and kisses me once again.

Vader forced himself to wake up, shattering the memory from an impossibly beautiful moment so long ago. He sat up, pressing his hands to his forehead as though trying to squeeze every last memory of that life from his mind. She is gone, don't' you get it?? She is gone, and you killed her. You have no right to those memories; you forfeited all rights to them when you killed her along with your unborn child.

Vader activated the devise that returned the mask to his face, and lowered his helmet back onto his head. There would be no more sleep tonight; even the few hours he'd had was a rarity anymore. The little sleep he did have been riddled with images of Her, memories of the past, poignant and passionate moments that they had shared before he had thrown it all away, the scent and feel of her skin as clear in his mind as though it had been just yesterday that they had been together.

Leaving his hyperbaric chamber, Vader paced about in his chambers, his mind troubled. Why am I plagued with dreams about her? Why is her image forever in my mind? If he didn't know better, he would think that there was a reason for this, that somehow she was trying to communicate with him through his subconscious mind; but that wasn't possible. She was gone, and even were she alive, she'd not want anything to do with him. Not after Mustafar. Not after the way he'd turned on her….

Deciding upon the best way to keep his mind off of the images his dream had conjured up; Vader left his chambers, and headed for the bridge.

Obi-Wan resided in a small cottage not far from the home where Padmé and her children lived. He had taken it upon himself to watch over the family of his old friend, to protect them at all costs from Vader and his emperor. Of course, Padmé did not completely understand Obi-Wan's insistence that her life was in danger; if Anakin was dead, then what possible threat could she pose to Palpatine? Besides, that, the galaxy believed she was dead. What reason would Palpatine have for believing otherwise? He had managed to convince her that Palpatine could still find her and subsequently the children if she were not careful, and this was enough to keep Padmé on her guard.

Kenobi wasn't foolish enough to think that he could keep the secret forever; there would come a day when the twins would grow up, and if they continued to manifest the same abilities that they had thus far in their lives, it would only be a matter of time before Vader would sense their Force presence and seek them out. I shall cross that bridge when I get to it, Kenobi had decided. For now, it is for her own good that she believes him to be dead.

Obi-Wan started each morning the same way: mediation, a light, nutritious breakfast, and then to his computer where he would scan the Imperial holonet, check for any messages (there rarely were any since he too was technically in hiding) and then a rigorous work out to keep in fighting form. He considered himself to be the personal body guard of the Skywalker family, and as such, needed to be ready for anything should the unthinkable happen.

To his surprise, there was a message waiting for him this morning. Curious, he sat in front of the comm. screen, a hot cup of caff in his hand, and activated the message. As he listened, he felt the warmth drain from his body. Oh no…this cannot be…how did he find her??

The message was from the administrator of the Polis Massa medical facility. Padmé had been brought to this same facility 5 years earlier after being attacked on Mustafar by Darth Vader, and had given birth to his children there. Kenobi, Yoda and Bail Organa had made certain that the droids working in the facility had had their memories erased, so that the record of Padmé's stay there would not be available to anyone who might be trying to find her. But there were more than droids working on that facility…and their memories had not been erased, their memories had been ripped from their minds by an agent of the emperor obsessed with finding the wife of his henchman. And now he knew that she lived, he would begin the search; now her life was truly in danger.

Kenobi sat at the computer screen as this information sank in, and the implications of it soon followed. Padmé and the children are no longer safe. Somehow I have to convince her of this…but how do I do so without telling her the truth? Obi-Wan felt sickened by the realization of what he needed to do hit him. I have to tell her about Darth Vader – somehow I must tell Padmé that the man she loved is an inhuman monster now…and that I have been lying to her for five years. Which is worse?? Which one will cause her more pain? And which one will she hate me for more??

Obi-Wan finally stood up, knowing that he had no time to lose. He needed to tell Padmé what he had just learned: tell her that Palpatine knew she was alive, and why this was suddenly such a threat to her. He will find her through Vader, her and Vader's children. Kenobi felt anxious at the thought of the conversation that faced him, but he left his cottage nonetheless, knowing that he had no choice in the matter. The safety of Padmé and her children depended upon it.