Title: Cage of Lies
Genre: Drama/Angst, some Romance
Characters: Padme, Anakin, Obi-Wan and some others.
Timeframe: five years post RotS
Note: No Darth Vader here - Anakin didn't turn, and he won't turn.
Summary: Five years passed after the rise of the Empire and foundation of the Rebel Alliance. Due to a mysterious events that took place five years ago, everyone thinks that Padme had died, but she lives quietly on a small planet in the Outer Rim, too afraid to face the one who she still loves. She thinks that it's too late to turn back, but is it true?

Disclaimer: I do not own the universe of the Star Wars, all the characters belpng to Georgie Lucas. No profit is being made, this is story was written for fun and meditating purposes only.

Cage of Lies

Chapter One

Some people say that time heals every wound.

Others say that a broken heart can never be mended, and a life already lived can never be lived again.

Some say that true love prevails every obstacle. But what if some words have been spoken that should never have been said aloud? What if nothing can ever make it right?

In the past five years, I have agonized about these questions. I could never arrive at an answer, because there is none.

Who am I?

Only few years ago, I was a brilliant Senator, a loving wife and a mother.

Who am I now?

I'm an outcast. I'm a traitor. I'm a coward. I hide behind a shell because I'm not strong enough to come out. I wallow in guilt, but there is no one who can make me feel better. Do I want to feel better? Do I deserve it?

Life has never been easy for me. Before I met him, I was like a lost moon, circling around the empty space, continuing to function simply because I had to. Because I had responsibilities. But one assassination attempt at my life did change everything – I met him. I found my personal sun. But even then, life was not perfect. In one way, it had become better. But it had also become worse, because there had been much more to lose.

I had spent countless nights worrying about him, plagued by nightmares of his brilliant eyes staring lifelessly at the dark sky. Each time he returned back to me, I felt at peace as I could see his handsome face again and feel his strong arms around my waist. Every time was a miracle, and I felt alive.

Yet, the day which was supposed to be the happiest day of our lives, was the day our life crumpled around us.

I watch the rain drops fall gracefully from the darkened sky, the tiny drops running down my windowpanes like miniature waterfalls. The storm had been raging the whole day, and the rain had never ceased to fall. The chrono behind my back beepes – a shrill sound in the dismal quietness. It was time to close the store.

My hoverchair buzzes softly as I make my path between the shelves. I smile to the last customers, the act feeling foreign to my facial muscles. I close the door behind them and leane against it, exhaling wearily. Each day is a grey and dull routine, dragging for what seemed eternity. Then night falls down, and the past haunts both my waking and dreaming states. It reminds me of my stupidity, cowardice, and unfaithfulness.

Even though I am exhausted, I linger in the shop, straightening the holopads out and brushing away the dust. The lights of a vehicle flash outside, drawing out the silhouettes of the stormtroopers and the slashes of the splattering rain.

Deralia is a quiet planet in the Outer Rim, untouched by the Clone Wars and not as polluted by the Empire yet. People here haven't heard the glorious tales of the Hero With No Fear, or about Senator Amidala. They don't know that five years ago, I turned into one of the most disdained persons in the galaxy from one of the most respected ones. Yes, this planet was a perfect place to start a new life. For the citizens, I am Raaja Kaaleh, a handicapped but cheerful consultant in the holo and datapad store – the mask I force myself to wear every day.

I hover up the stairs into my room – a small space on the first floor. I light a candle, and the dim fire illuminates the room, casting eerie shadows on the walls. There isn't much – only a narrow bed, small closet and a desk. In my old life, I was always surrounded by luxury and a small army of handmaidens that were always eager to help. My bed was always large, made with soft, silky sheets. My closet was always huge. I had taken none of this into my seclusion here on Deralia.

I zoom towards the fresher. During the five years since the ability to walk had been robbed from me, I have become quite capable of taking care of myself. I am handicapped, but I am not helpless - or, at least not physically. I turn the water on, and, carefully, slide from the hoverchair, lowering myself into the tub. The water splashes merrily onto my skin; my torso prickling from its hot stream. Clouds of steam rise in the moist air, obscuring my useless legs and my plump, aged body. I close my eyes and set my face directly under the stream, letting the water wash away the tears I can not shed anymore. Five years had passed since Palpatine had injured me, but no matter what I try to tell myself, I still have not come to terms with it. I was beautiful and pure once, but now I am ugly and dirty.

When my torso has become almost as numb as my legs, I turn off the water and towel myself dry. My skin is raw and red from rubbing in the vain attempt to scrub away the dirt that wasn't there or at least not on the outside. I stretch my hand out to wipe the fog off the mirror so I can see my changed reflection.

A mature, aged woman stares back at me. In five years, I seem to have aged ten. My damp hair falls loosely on my plump face. My face still bears traces of its former beauty but is hidden by the creases around my listless eyes and by the bitter edge of my once crimson lips. My ugliness is my disguise and my prison.

It was still raining outside when I returned to my room, the winnowing wind pushing the tiny, crystal-like drops to my windows. The night was thick with my misery, and the skies wept with me.

The distinct, ghostly white silhouettes of the storm troopers are a patch of white colour in the glum darkness of the storm. I chuckle to myself as I yank the brush through my hair. They were always watchful, always on guard, always eager to catch the few of the surviving Jedi who had joined the Alliance. Each time I see these unnatural, white figures, a voice tells me that my place was out there, with the Rebels, helping fighting the tyranny. But I am too afraid. Five years ago, I had chosen to stand by, to watch the evil spread its tentacles across the galaxy. There is no coming back now. It is too late.

Five years ago, I was declared dead. No one knows that Padmé Amidala is still alive. Not even he knows. He continues fighting for freedom, trying to avenge my death.

What would he think if he found out that his wife was still alive? Would he smile one of his beautiful smiles, draw me into his arms and tell me that he forgives my wrongdoings? Or would he silently turn around and walk away? Would he linger just to tell me that he despised me now? Would he still want me after five years of lies, as ugly and disabled as I am now? I am no use to him now. I do not want to be a burden for my husband.

I would be frightened to look into his blue eyes and find nothing but contempt there. Anakin had been the most caring, the most loyal, and most devoted man I have ever met. Betrayal is the only thing he can never forgive. And it had been I who had betrayed him; twice.

There have been countless times when my resolve has wavered and I have stretched my arm to grab the commlink; determined to contact my Knight just to hear his voice again. I always stopped when images of his disgusted face flitted into my head, the blue orbs no longer warm and filled with love. My hand always jerked away as though surged by electricity.

Some truths are better remaining hidden.

Flying towards the desk, I pull out a small, wooden box – the only tangible evidence that Padmé Amidala had ever existed. Tracing my fingers down the carvings on the wood, I sigh. Was it wise to look at these items every day? Wouldn't it be wiser just to burn them? But the temptation is too sweet, too strong. A large part of me will not easily part with the person I had once been.

Making up my mind, I draw the lid open, very slowly, as though unwillingly. A braid, a holo cube and a holopad lay inside. Smiling to myself in reminiscence, I take out the braid. After all these years, I am still mesmerised by the gentle symphony of golden shades playing in the dim candle light. For an outsider it is only a lock of hair, but, to me, it is my most valued possession.

Next, I take out the holo-cube and activate it. A flickering image of a smiling Anakin appears before me. Even though by now I know his features better than my own, I observe him, trying to imagine that he is real, not transparent. With trembling, thick fingers of an old woman, I stroke his youthful cheek, but my fingers just touch blue air. His intangibleness is another sore reminder that the old days are gone, wiped away by the wind and washed away by the rain.

Only one item remains – the item that stands for the end of our days together. Slowly, I pick up the holopad and activate it. The blue image of Anakin and I kissing passionately screams at my eyes. This picture had been taken on the day when the Clone Wars had officially ended, the day my husband had returned from a five month tour in the Outer Rims. Above the image, there are seven words that pushed the galaxy into the turmoil. Only seven insignificant words, but they had changed everything. "Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala secretly married."

I feel an all too familiar, salty taste on my lips. I did not realise I am crying. I de-activate the pad and throw it into the box, snapping the lid shut with more force than necessary. Some secrets were indeed hidden forever, and some memories are better left in the past, where they belong.

Carefully, I slide from my hover chair and curl myself on my bed, pulling the blanket over my head. It is cold. The sound of pouring rain is a lullaby to my tired ears as I drift to sleep.