REACQUAINTED

Disclaimer: Not mine, I'm only playing in George Lucas' sandbox.

Author's Notes: This story is a continuation, of sorts, to Lazypadawan's story "Reunited," which can be found in her livejournal at: http:// lazypadawan dot livejournal dot com/267385 dot html

This story was originally written for the Jedi Under Mistletoe Secret Santa fic exchange on Livejournal.


The creak of yet another loose floorboard echoed loudly down the dark hallway. Padmé once again stood stock still, casting furtive glances up and down the hall as far as her eyes could pierce the oppressive gloom. Forcing herself to take a deep breath to settle her badly frayed nerves, she just barely managed to control the urge to stomp her foot in frustration.

Drawing another deep breath, she took another step forward, cautiously putting her weight down. Silence. Breathing a bit easier, she took another step, then another, creeping slowly towards the distant staircase and Bast Castle's lower levels.

Growing bolder as the floor beneath her feet remained quiet, she picked up her pace, eager to locate her stubborn Sith of a husband.

CREAK!

"Poo Doo!" Padmé cried, instantly slapping her hand over her mouth, wide eyes dashing to the left and right. Another small cry escaped her as she jumped back from the figure hovering just to her right.

A small, shaky laugh followed as she realized she is peering at her own distorted reflection from a darkened window.

"Get a grip, Padmé, you're falling apart," her reflection mocked her, shaking a finger back at her.

Padmé stared at the reflected image. The image showed a pale woman who had lost her youthful bloom and was settling into a comfortable maturity. Her curling chestnut hair, while still long, had lost some of its luster. Her figure was still slim and erect, but the aura of authority she had once projected was missing. Her deep brown eyes told the full story, their depths shadowed by the tragedies and losses, both to her personally, and the galaxy as a whole.

Many, if not most, at the hands of her husband.

Wearily, Padmé sighed, giving her warped reflection a once over, she patted down several wayward curls.

"No more dillydallying, girl. You've been cooped up long enough; it's time for some answers." Her reflection pulled itself up with resolve. "Much better. You're a former Queen of Naboo, don't you EVER forget that." Her reflection threw its shoulders back with purpose.

Padmé sighed ruefully at her attempt to bolster her confidence. She had spent several years in a facility for the insane following her near death after the birth of their child. During that time, she'd felt a certain degree of pity for the poor souls who wandered the halls, talking to themselves.

"Am I as insane as they?" she asked the pale and tired woman looking back at her. She was beginning to wonder. When she'd arrived at Bast Castle, she was certain she'd made the right, the only, decision she could make, for both herself and Anakin. When he had broken down in her arms, expunging all his grief for his actions, their reunion was a new beginning. She'd been convinced her love would be enough to restore him to the light side of the Force.

He had gently swept her up in his strong embrace, carrying her off to a chamber that the majordomo droid has shown her to earlier. Eerily the chamber had appeared to be waiting for her, as if she'd only left on a trip. Gowns in her preferred styles and colors were hanging in the closet; her brand of cosmetics awaited her use at the vanity. A shimmer silk nightgown lay across the bed along with a matching robe and slippers awaited her feet.

Anakin had gently set her down, kissed her lightly, and saying he'd see her soon, he'd left her alone. She remembered the swell of anticipation that had gripped her as she'd dashed into the 'fresher and prepared for his return. Her hands shook as she'd placed perfume between her breasts and down the column of her throat. She had primped and fussed with her hair, knowing he liked it down. She'd fretted over her selection of a nightgown, finally settling on a deep blue, the color of Anakin's eyes, smoothing the silk along the curves of her body, imaging his touch through the sheer material.

She'd waited, she'd paced, she'd felt more nervous than she had as a virgin bride on her wedding night.

She'd awaited his return.

And waited.

And waited some more.

That had been two days ago and she hadn't seen him since.

Stomping her foot in irritation, Padmé brought herself back to the present. "Two Days! Can you believe that?"

Padmé snorted as the reflection stayed mute.

"Well, let me tell you, I…" she stopped abruptly, quickly turning to face back down the hallway, listening intently. "Hello? Is someone there?"

Silence was her answer. Taking a few cautious steps back in the direction from which she had come, she called out again, but again, only silence was her answer. Heaving a sigh of annoyance, she retraced her steps to the window. She was surprised to note that the first faint glow of sunrise was beginning to appear on the western horizon. Another of Vjun's many oddities she'd had to adjust to, the planet's rotation in the opposite direction from most other's in the galaxy.

Losing the cover of darkness through the halls, she debated returning to her chamber, but the idea of sitting another day, uselessly waiting for her husband to come to her held little appeal. Looking one last time at her fading reflection, she tilted her chin up and straightened her posture.

"You are a former Queen of Naboo…don't you ever forget that." As the last of her reflection was bled away with the rising sun, she turned and quickly headed for the stairs and Bast Castle's lower levels. She managed to wince only twice as floorboards creaked out the progress of her passage behind her.

So absorbed was she in her determination to locate her wayward husband, she never noticed the figure which moved out of the lifting gloom in the hallway behind her.

"That was close, MD-4, I thought for certain she'd heard us," the silver color droid said, turning to look at his smaller, floating companion. "Do you think we should stop her? His Lordship is not going to appreciate the fact that she's not staying put."

MD-4 looked from the droid down the hall in the direction that the lady had just disappeared, twittering a rapid reply.

"Yes, yes, I know," PD-6 grumbled, "but his Lordship did say to give her anything she wanted in her chambers. He didn't say anything at all about allowing her to roam the halls at will. He'll be most upset should something happen to her." As Bast Castle's majordomo, it was PD-6's responsibility to see to the comfort and welfare of guests. Of course, for all of his tenure as majordomo, his Lordship had never entertained a guest before. He was at a loss on what to do; as his Lordship's wife, she was, technically, his master as well, however, he'd always answered only to Lord Vader.

MD-4 twittered once again, adding a few shrill beeps and whistles for emphasis.

"Don't take that tone with me, you're only a maintenance droid, don't you forget. I'm the one who has had to deal with her."

A long, drawn out squawking and agitated flashing lights erupted from MD-4, illustrating his displeasure with that characterization.

"Yes, yes, you're quite correct; she has been a bother for you as well. I know you've been without a full recharging session since her arrival deactivating some of the castle's security measures at his Lordship's request. Obviously, he knew she'd be trouble."

What sounded suspiciously like a sigh of resignation was MD-4's only response. He was tired and badly in need of a full recharging session. Ever since Lord Vader's wife had arrived he'd worked tirelessly to deactivate or reprogram the castle's systems to recognize her biosigns otherwise she could meet with a most unpleasant end. The only room left to reprogram was the Great Hall, and he'd been on his way there when he'd come upon PD-6 following the cause of the castle's upheaval.

"Well, my little friend, it's nearly dawn, and once his Lordship finishes his morning ritual he'll be looking for his breakfast, so I'd best…" he barely ducked out of the way of a frantically beeping MD-4 who had suddenly taken off down the hall at a reckless speed.

"Oh my! Do hurry MD, hurry," he called out. It wouldn't do for Lord Vader's wife to discover him at his morning ritual before MD completed reprogramming the room. "I do hope MD's in time, I'd hate to have to clean up his parts for scrap metal later on." Greatly worried now about his friend and companion, he hurried off to prepare breakfast, muttering reassurances to himself as he went.

Sunlight filtered into the dark Great Hall of Bast Castle. Cautiously, as if the light itself could feel the darkness that dwelled within, it crept slowly across the floor of the vast hall. Minute increments marked its passage until finally, with almost a triumphant glow, the light fell across the mammoth black figure standing as a silent sentinel in the center of the room.

The silent sentinel resisted the pull of the light, its highly polished surface reflecting the light back out into the room, shunning the light and the warmth it offered. It was a losing battle. The burnished surface succumbed as light danced along the planes and hollows of the imposing structure. The light reflected into the room was so bright the light itself blinded the naked eye to the darkness within.

But to the one standing silently in the farthest corner of the room, farthest from the reach of the light, it was an illusion. The blinding light only obscured the heart of darkness that resided in its center, and when the light withdrew, only the darkness would remain.

"Just as the darkness remains within me," he whispered, almost fearful of voicing the thought. Every morning at Bast Castle he had spent the same way, greeting the new dawn from the one corner that the light never reached.

This morning should feel different, should, in fact, be different. Yet it was not, he could not bring himself to walk into the light. It didn't matter the events of the last few days. It didn't matter that his angel slept in a chamber above.

Not even Padmé, not her presence, her touch, or her words of love, could drive the darkness from his heart. It was too deeply entrenched, to much a part of what he had allowed himself to become.

To much like the sculptured figure that dominated the Great Hall of Bast Castle.

"Anakin?"

He looked up sharply at the sound of her voice, his eyes casting about to locate the source in the cavernous room. She should not have been able to breach the defenses of this room, his sanctuary. He knew that MD-4 had not yet reprogrammed the security measures. Yet, there she was in the light surrounding the sculpture. Silently, he watched as her slight figure revealed itself, walking out of the blinding light towards him.

Towards darkness.

"Stop, Padmé, come no closer." He kept his voice low hoping for the tone of command he used when issuing orders to his Dark Troopers. They knew it was not a voice to challenge. He could only hope Padmé did not detect the slight tremor of hesitation.

Padmé stopped in her tracks at the harshness of her husband's voice. She turned her eyes to the far distant corner where Anakin stood, shrouded in shadow. Following their reunion, and Anakin's apparent reemergence from the grip of Vader's hold upon his soul, she had thought, had hoped, that they could begin their lives anew, make a fresh start. He'd been so tender with her, so gentle, so much like his pre-Clone Wars self, until he'd left her alone in her chambers, apparently forgotten for days.

Years they had spent apart, years when she fought to remain the vital woman she had always been, and not an empty, hollow shell. There had been times then, as there were times now, when she questioned her success in that matter. She was more hesitant, more cautious now, than her younger self. But, who would blame her, during those years she lost her child and her husband turned away from all she believed.

Yet she survived, if not becoming stronger for it, at least not losing herself to her own realm of darkness and despair. She would not tolerate his rejection. She had always fought for what she wanted, and what she wanted was the return of Anakin Skywalker, her husband.

She recognized his withdrawal from her for what is was, a resurfacing of his insecurities. They had driven him from her once before, she would not allow them to do so again. If she had any doubts about who stood across the room from her, they were laid to rest. He may wish to hide himself behind Vader's persona, but she'd always known that Anakin lurked within.

Needing time to think she turned her attention to the massive sculpture standing in the center of the room. The statue was of obsidian blackness, highly polished and gleaming in the light that filtered in through the room's high windows. At its base it stretched nearly four meters across and half as deep. A prone male figure lay bound to three huge boulders; one beneath its shoulders, another supported its groin, and the last under the knees. Standing beside the prone man was the figure of a woman, her arms outstretched, holding a large bowl. Rising to a height of five meters above the pair was the scaly figure of a serpent, mouth open wide and water slowly dripping from its long, vicious looking fangs. Upon closer inspection, Padmé realized the statue was actually a fountain. The water dripping from the fangs fell directly into the bowl held by the woman below. The bowl, she could see, hung suspended upon a small rod directly over the face of the bound figure.

Anakin watched Padmé's perusal of the statue. Bast Castle drew him in upon first seeing the statue. It was only after he learned the legend did he realize how accurate that assessment had been. The statue of the Sky Walker Legend…

"Skywalker Legend? Anakin, is this home?"

Anakin looked at her sharply, not realizing he'd voiced his thought aloud. "This is my home, Padmé, Bast Castle, you know that."

"I meant, well, you said 'Skywalker legend', is this your mother's home planet?"

"No, Padmé, it's merely a local Vjun legend that appeals to me. Besides, the legend has many names."

"Tell me the story, please."

"Why are you so curious?" Padmé had never shown interest in legends before, had in fact, scoffed often over the Jedi legend of the Chosen One. He'd found comfort in her disbelief, he could be simply Anakin when with her.

"Because it obviously means something to you, and I'm your wife, Anakin." She started towards him, until Anakin held up his hand, silently telling her to keep her distance. "Can't you share a simple story with me? If you can't share even that much, how can we ever share our lives together again? Please Anakin?"

Anakin sighed, knowing that he could not deny her request now any more than he'd ever been able to deny her in the past. And the one time he had, had ended in disaster.

"The statue is of Loki, although he has many other names, including the Sly-One, the Lie-Smith, and the Sky Walker; two words, Padmé, not one. The statue depicts his punishment for his crimes."

Padmé waited, certain there was more. Anakin, however, didn't seem inclined to continue his storytelling. Turning her attention back to the carved image, she contemplated how hard to push him. Anakin had always possessed a stubborn nature, then again, so had she.

Quickly coming to a decision, she turned and walked over to the statue, looking up into the face of the female figure. Lines of exhaustion creased the woman's face. Padmé noticed the bowl the woman held was nearly full. She could feel Anakin's eyes upon her as she slowly made her way around the massive base of the statue.

Suddenly, the floor beneath her feet began to shake and the sound of tortured groans filled the room. The female figure, she noticed had moved, the upper half of which had turned away from the bound figure of Loki, allowing the water she had been catching in the bowl to drip unto his face. Her eyes were drawn to the bound male figure; amazingly it seemed to be writhing in great pain. She had thought the statue solid stone! The female figure dumped the full bowl of water over the side, into the base of the serpentine figure that rose above the pair. As Padmé watched, the woman's figure rotated back into place. Once the figure was fully back into place, with the water again filling the bowl, the male figure fell still, the ground ceased shaking and the awful groans faded to silence.

"She tortures him," she whispered, horrified. "Why, Anakin? Why does she torture him? What could he have done to deserve that?"

"Is that what you think? That she is torturing him?"

"What am I supposed to think? He writhed in agony when she moved the bowl! The water falling on his face caused him pain, terrible pain."

"And when she holds the bowl over him? Is she torturing him then?"

"Of course. It draws out the torture."

Anakin fought the amusement he felt at her opinion. "I never realized you had such a dark side, Angel, to see torture where there is none."

Padmé couldn't help but blink in surprise. Had Anakin just made a joke about the dark side? How could he be so casual in his attitude towards the malevolence that had taken him from her?

"I hardly think torture is a joking matter, Anakin," she said sternly. "Maybe if you'd just share the story with me, I'd understand."

Anakin shook his head in frustration, he'd been hoping to dissuade Padmé of her interest. He should have remembered how stubborn she could be.

"The woman is Sigyn, Loki's wife. A wife wouldn't torture her husband."

"Oh, don't bet on it," Padmé mumbled beneath her breath.

Anakin quirked an eyebrow at her, choosing wisely to ignore the comment. "Anyway, as I was saying," Anakin said, giving his lippy wife a stern glare, which she returned with a look of utter innocent serenity, "Sigyn is Loki's wife. She stands beside his bound body to catch the venom dripping from the serpent's fangs. When she moves to empty the bowl, the venom burns Loki and that is what causes his pain."

"And how is that not torturing him? The venom still falls on him."

"Yes, but it takes half a day to fill the bowl, and only moments to empty it."

Padmé cast a doubting eye towards her husband and went to check out his words for herself. Sure enough, when she checked the bowl that Sigyn held, there were but a few drops of liquid in the bottom. At that rate, it would take hours, perhaps even the half day Anakin claimed, to fill the bowl.

"So, she is protecting him?"

"Yes."

Padmé considered this. It still didn't explain why she'd found her husband standing in contemplation of the statue. She didn't understand its significance to him, nor had he explained the Sky Walker legend. She wasn't going to let him have his way on this issue.

"And the legend? The Sky Walker legend? How does that fit with this statue?

"The Sky Walker was just one of Loki's many names, as I told you. I could have easily called it the statue of the Loki Legend."

"But you didn't. You relate to the name, Anakin, that's obvious. Why?"

"Loki is being punished, tortured as you say, because he killed the god Baldr."

Padmé waited. When it didn't look as if Anakin was going to continue something inside her snapped. She was tired. Tired of being abandoned in her chamber. Tired in body and soul. And most of all, she was tired of trying to pry information out of Anakin.

Abruptly, she turned her back to him and headed out of the room the way she'd come. She heard Anakin call out to her, but his voice only spurred her on. She had to get away. She would stand no further rejection. Unmindful of her agitation, she shoved the Great Hall's door open violently, swinging it on its hinges with such force it smashed into a droid, sending the hapless thing crashing to the floor. Not sparing a glance for the droid skidding down the hall, Padmé rushed to the staircase, fleeing up it as quickly as her legs would carry her, desperate to get to her chamber before she gave into her despair.

Anakin watched his wife's departure with surprise, uncertain what had caused her upset. She ignored his command to stop, forcing him to follow behind in her wake. Exiting the Great Hall he ran headlong into PD-6, who had apparently been rushing in the direction of a small pile of debris. Both droid and Sith Lord ended up on the hard stone floor in a tangled pile of limbs.

"Dammit, PD-6, watch where you're going next time," Anakin spat out, attempting to rise from the floor, only to be foiled by his heel coming down on what appeared to be a bit of debris, sending him crashing to the floor yet again. At least this time he'd ended up in a separate heap from PD-6.

"I do apologize, your Lordship, I don't know how I didn't see you coming. I do hope you're all right. Why, I'd never forgive myself if I caused you any injury. Do you require a medi-droid? I can have one here straight away."

"Shut up, PD! I'm fine, just a bit of bruising to my ego."

"Oh my, that sounds bad, are you certain you don't require…" abruptly the chattering droid fell silent, Anakin having heard enough and using the Force to deactivate it.

"Damned bothersome creation, next time I build a droid, it won't have a vocalizer!" He'd regained his feet and was brushing the debris from his clothing when his eyes fell upon the debris that appeared to be the cause of the initial problem. His eyes opened wide as he recognized the remains of MD-4. Annoyed now at the inconvenience of having to construct a new maintenance droid; Anakin left both lying where they had fallen, and continued after his wife.

He didn't need the Force to know she was very upset, the sound of her weeping reached his ears half way down the hall. The sound of it brought him up short. In all the time he'd known Padmé Nabierre Amidala Skywalker, he'd never heard her cry. As he tentatively approached her door, the sound of her anguished weeping washed over him.

If he had a heart left, it would have broken at the sound.

Anakin had been and was many things; a slave, a Jedi Knight, the Hero Without Fear, and a Sith Lord, Darth Vader, second most powerful being in the galaxy, but like most men, he was powerless when it came to a woman's tears.

He hovered uncertainly outside her door, knowing he'd rather face all seven Corellian hells, or challenge Sidious for control of the galaxy, before he wanted to face his crying wife.

"Coward. Coward. Coward! Some Sith you make, Anakin Skywalker, cowering in the hall afraid of one petite woman!" Disgusted with himself, he took a deep breath and reached for the door handle. To his surprise, the door was unlocked. Pushing her door slightly open, he peered around its edge to locate his wife in the room.

She was lying on the massive bed, back to him, curled into a ball on her side, her arms wrapped around a pillow, face buried within its soft depths. For the first time he realized her sobs had diminished to broken hiccups. She looked utterly forlorn and broken.

The heart he denied having shattered at the sight.

Two long strides brought him to the bed where he perched on the edge, unsure of his welcome. "Padmé?" he whispered, gently caressing her disarrayed curls. He'd always loved it when she wore her hair down. "Padmé, I'm sorry, Angel. I'm so sorry."

Suddenly she pulled away from him, scooting off the far side of the bed. Her face was tear streaked and her eyes bloodshot from crying. Yet she managed a scathing look. "Sorry? Sorry, Anakin! Why? Do you even know what you apologize for?"

"I upset you."

"I upset you," she mimicked back derisively. "Your protocol droid could have told you that much!"

Anakin stood to face her. Despite being nearly a foot taller he had the impression she was looking down on him. It wasn't a feeling he was used to, only Padmé would even dare.

"Then tell me, Padmé. What did I do?"

Padmé snorted. "Why should I bother, Anakin. I asked you repeatedly to tell me the story. To share that little bit of yourself with me, why the Loki legend, why that statue, holds your attention. You can't even share that much of yourself with me. Why bother? I came here thinking we could rebuild our life together. I see now there is truly less of Anakin left in Darth Vader than I'd foolishly let myself believe. Even after everything I heard, everything the holonet reported, I still thought there was good. I'm such a fool..." her voice trailed off.

Anakin stood stunned, taken aback at her faith in him, that she'd never given up believing in him. No one before, with the exception of his mother, had ever believed in him so blindly.

The sound of a closet door being thrown open shook him from his thoughts. He watched as Padmé snatched an armload of dresses from within and flung them upon the bed.

"What do you think you're doing?"

"I'm packing. I'm leaving you this time. And these," she said, making a sweeping gesture over the rainbow hued garments haphazardly tossed upon the bed, "were obviously made for me, so I'm taking them with me!"

Anakin stared mutely, realizing once again that his actions were costing him his wife, his angel, his very reason for life. The pall of the darkside had shrouded his thinking and his actions for many years. And because of it, he was losing her again.

He turned, walking over to one of the tower room's long, narrow windows, looking out over Vjun, at a landscape as bleak and barren as his heart felt now. With sudden clarity, he knew, he'd never survive losing her again, his death this time would be literal, not simply figurative. All because he is a coward who couldn't share with her a simply legend of a long dead people.

"Loki was a giant in Vjun mythology," he said, eyes still focused to the emptiness that existed outside the window. "He was considered a master of deception and guile." He looked at her over his shoulder to discover she was studiously ignoring him as she continued her packing. He turned back to his contemplation and continued with the story.

"One day he learned that Frigg, wife to Odin, the head of the Vjun deities, had made everything on Vjun, every plant, every rock, everything, swear a vow that it would never in any way, harm her son, Baldr."

"Loki, however, didn't believe this story and set out to verify it for himself. He discovered that one lone plant had refused to take this vow. So, he fashioned an arrow from it and then he tricked Baldr's brother Hoor, to use this arrow in the god's new favorite sport, throwing things at Baldr and watching them bounce off harmlessly. Hoor, never suspecting that anything could harm his brother, took up the dare. Hoor's aim was true, the arrow found its mark. A simple arrow made of mistletoe brought down the god Baldr."

Anakin finally turned from the window to find Padmé sitting on the edge of the bed, listening to every word. The garment she had been holding had slipped from her fingers and lay in a crimson pool at her feet.

"There's more, isn't there, Anakin?"

Anakin nodded, swallowing reflectively the lump that had formed in his throat. "Baldr for many years had dreamed of his death, that is why his mother sought to protect him. Baldr, you see, was the personification of all that was good, pure and innocent. One of the verses in the legend goes 'He is best, and all praise him; he is so fair of feature, and so bright, that light shines from him.' For that reason, he was the god of light."

"Loki, also called the Sky Walker, killed the light."

Suddenly, it all made sense to Padmé. Anakin saw himself as Loki, slayer of the light. The light side of the Force, the Jedi order, all slain at Anakin's hand. No wonder the statue called to him as strongly as it did.

But if Anakin is Loki, than she …

"Oh Anakin, you are not Loki."

"Tell that to the dead younglings, Padmé! I killed them, all of them. I knew it was wrong, even then, I knew, but…"

Padmé rushed over to her husband's side, reaching up to stroke his face. "But you were the one deceived, Anakin. By Palpatine. If anyone is Loki, it is he." She laid a finger across his lips when he looked ready to protest. "And even if you are Loki, then I am Sigyn. And like Sigyn I shall stand by your side, with my bowl outstretched, ready to shield you from that which tortures you. And when I can't be there, my love, my time away will be as brief as Sigyn's is from Loki in the statue in the Great Hall. I promise you."

Anakin stared speechless at her impassioned declaration. Suddenly he reached for her, sweeping her up in his arms and carrying her to the bed. A flick of his wrist sent her dresses and parking flying to the floor. Gently lying down beside her, he pulled her to him, his lips claiming hers with all the passion he'd repressed for years.

Padmé wrapped her arms around her husband's neck, pressing her body so close to his she wasn't sure where one ended and the other began. Her hands traveled down the length of his broad back, until they reached the bottom of his tunic. Urgently, she tugged and pulled until he took the hint and broke off their kiss long enough to help. In one swift movement, he had the offending garment off. Padmé's eager eyes roamed the expanse of his chiseled chest, licking her lips in anticipation.

Anakin sensed the direction of his wife's thoughts and chuckled in anticipation. Scooping her up, he set her briefly on the floor, making quick work of removing the bodysuit she wore, so reminiscent of the one she'd worn on Geonosis a lifetime ago. So absorbed was he in gazing upon the perfection of her, he could barely unfasten his leggings to remove them. He tore his eyes from her when he felt deft fingers push his clumsier ones out of the way.

"You're taking to long, my love. I've been waiting for days."

Anakin had the grace to blush at the gentle rebuke for leaving her on the night of her return.

"I guess I'll just have to make that up to you, Angel."

Her only response was a slow grin spreading across her radiantly happy face, as she pulled his head back down to her. Anakin picked her up and returned them to the bed, his lips never leaving hers. He trailed his lips down the column of her throat as Padmé tilted her head back, arching up to meet him. Passion flared between them, as if they had never been apart. They know each other's likes and dislikes so well, they fell easily into the timeless lover's rhythm.

Afterwards, as Anakin held a sleeping Padmé in his arms he felt more complete, more himself than he could remember being in a very long time. Yet, at the same time, he felt an odd sense of disquiet, as if something was not right. Reaching out to the Force, he drew in a sharp breath, shaken by what he felt along his bond with his Master.

Hesitantly, he reached out along the bond…

Half way across the galaxy, another reached out, taking hold of the bond as well. Smiling broadly, the master looked up towards the planet's twin suns. "Welcome back, padawan mine. I've missed you my friend."

He turned his attention to his friend's young son playing in the courtyard below, feeling for the first time in a long time, the galaxy, and the Force itself, pulse to life with a new hope.

The End.