I really hated the ending to RotS. I decided to take matters into my own hands.
Summary: Padmé regains consciousness on Mustafar while Obi-Wan and Anakin are fighting. Unhurt, she goes looking for them, and arrives just in time to see Anakin's tragic fate.
For a long time, Padmé drifted in and out of unconsciousness.
She had no concept of time, lying there in the dark created by her own mind. She didn't not know how long she laid there on the cold ground, twisted and crumbled as if she were broken. She could only replay that moment over and over again in her head, feeling the same shock each time she watched Anakin reach out and attack her—her. Had it really happened? She wasn't so sure. It was surreal.
She attempted to justify his actions; she had provoked him. She had betrayed him. She had wounded him and spat cruel, venomous words into his face, desperate to make him see reason. To him, it had seemed like she had brought Obi-Wan to kill him. How could he not feel betrayed?
For what seemed like a thousand eternities, thoughts like these occupied all her thoughts. And after some time, consciousness finally returned to her.
With a gasp, she jerked upward into a sitting position, hands grasping wildly at her throat. She felt as if those invisible hands were still on her, constricting her windpipe, her lungs gasping for air. Frantically, her eyes darted around the landing platform. She was still in the same place, unmoved, untouched. The ramp of her ship was still extended, as if no time had passed at all. But the landing platform was empty. No one was there.
"Anakin?" she rasped, her voice coming out weakly, though she meant to scream it. Where was he? Where was Obi-Wan? Had they left her here alone? Were they dead?
With great effort, she eased herself onto her feet, willing her knees not to buckle. Her mind was frantic with questions, her breathing erratic with panic. She needed to know what was happening. She needed to know where her husband was.
Again, she tried his name. "Anakin." She was satisfied when it came out just like she had intended: strong and commanding, like she was addressing the Senate.
There was no reply.
Without a moment's more hesitation, she reached for the comlink on her utility belt, and keyed in to Anakin's frequency. "Ani!" she barked into the small device. "Anakin!" She held her breath, desperate to hear his voice, assuring her that he was all right, that he was nearby. Something. Anything.
But silence was all that met her.
She growled in frustration, and keyed in Obi-Wan's frequency. Still, there was nothing. What had happened to them? She felt herself begin to sicken with worry. She prayed that neither of them were injured.
Relief came when she heard Artoo's warble.
She whipped around to find the small droid descending the ramp, a shiny Threepio trailing behind him. Artoo warbled frantically while Threepio chattered nonsense. "Oh, Mistress Padmé!" Threepio cried, his arms lifting into the air with relief. "Thank the Maker you're all right! When we saw you fall, we assumed the worse-"
"What's happening?" she demanded, stepping closer to the droids. "Where is Anakin?"
The droid faltered for a moment. "He and Jedi Master Obi-Wan went that way, Mistress Padmé," he informed her quickly, indicating towards the facility behind her. "Not more than two minutes ago."
Artoo squeaked and twittered.
Padmé frowned. "What were they doing?" she inquired. "What did they say?"
Threepio appeared very flustered. "They were…engaging in 'aggressive negotiations,' I believe," he answered. "I can't be sure. It wasn't terribly clear from within the cockpit."
Padmé's heart and stomach held a race to her feet. Immediately, she felt lightheaded. Her vision threatened to go black and her knees wanted desperately to give out beneath her. Oh, no. "Are you sure?" she demanded harshly. She looked to the smaller droid for reassurance.
He twittered sadly in affirmative.
Her heart no began to beat itself to death against the cage of her ribs. Fear gripped her like a vice. Anakin and Obi-Wan were fighting. One of them could be seriously injured, or even killed…there was no time to waste.
"Artoo, I need you to activate your scanners," she snapped at the small astromech. "Get back on the ship. We're going to find them."
She could only pray that she would not be too late.
She was sick with grief.
She felt like she was about to empty the contents of her stomach over and over again. She felt dizzy. The baby inside her womb would not stop kicking frantically against her ribs, as if he could feel her distress. She kept imagining that this had all been a horrible, terrible nightmare, and that soon, she would wake in her bed. Anakin would be by her side, and he would wrap her in his arms, love her, and tend to her wounds. He would care for and comfort her, and everything would be all right.
But try as she might, she could not awaken.
This was all too real. It was happening right here and now, quick as lightning, and there was nothing she could do about it.
Her eyes were trained on the hellish environment just outside the cockpit window. The ship flew slowly over the facility, searching for any trace of the two Jedi. She had to find him. She would find him. She would not lose him. Never.
"Anything yet, Artoo?" she asked for the millionth time. There was something in the air here—sulfur—that interfered with the droid's scanners, making it harder to locate any life forms. Still, she could not stop herself from asking.
The droid warbled softly. No. Of course not. They'd been going for what seemed like hours, and still, there was nothing. Why would there be now?
Padmé reached up and swiped perspiration from her forehead. She willed her muscles to relax and her teeth to stop clenching. She would do no good if she could not concentrate, and that would never happen while in the thrall of strong emotions. She had to be at peace. She had to be rational and level-headed. She took deep, cleansing breaths and forced herself to detach from her feelings.
Feeling slightly better, she relaxed further into the pilot's seat.
"Your scanners are extended as far as they can go?" she asked Artoo.
He beeped in conformation.
"Good," she said. "Don't stop looking for them. Threepio, keep your eyes peeled."
The golden droid seated beside her leaned forward a bit, staring out of the cockpit window. "Mistress Padmé, I think I see something," he informed her, and pointed.
With record speed she whipped around in her chair and strained her eyes, desperate to see what he had been looking at it. But try as she might, there was nothing she could spot. She sighed tiredly. "Threepio, it's nothing," she told him. "Just keep-"
And then she stopped herself mid-sentence. Because at that exact moment, she saw a brief of flash of brilliant, white-blue energy.
Her heart leapt into her throat. She threw herself at the controls and urged the ship to maximum speed. "Look!" she cried, though she really didn't care whether or not the droids saw them. All she cared about was finding Anakin and Obi-Wan.
As they came closer and closer, two bodies came into view. One tall, one shorter, both moving with astounding speed and grace. But they were far, far, too close to the lake of lava. Far too close.
Padmé felt desperation flood her senses.
She could now distinguish between Anakin and Obi-Wan, dueling on a moving platform suspended above the lava. As close as she could, she landed the ship and watched as a bitter battle between friends ensued. As the ship touched the ground, she watched Obi-Wan leap from the platform and onto the relatively safe nearby hill. Anakin remained on the platform and they seemed to be conversing.
She jerked her restraints off her body and dashed—as much as a pregnant woman could dash—towards the extending ramp. She felt the hot, odorous air hit her face, and felt intense heat on her body. She moved towards them as fast as she could, watching as Obi-Wan said something towards her husband. The roar of the lava was deafening in her ears.
"Anakin!" she cried, and stopped when she could go no further. Both men saw her, and were shocked to see her there, but neither acknowledged her presence for very long. It was clear where their focus was; entirely on each other.
"Don't try it," Obi-Wan warned his former padawan.
And suddenly, she had a terrible sense of dark foreboding.
The next few moments moved in absolute slow motion. She watched on, horrified, as Anakin gave a cry of rage, and leapt from the platform, hurling in the air towards his enemy. She knew—just knew—what was going to happen, but her body was absolutely frozen, unable to move. She felt herself screaming, felt the blood draining from her face, and could do nothing but watch as her husband was immolated.
Obi-Wan effortlessly sliced Anakin's left arm and legs from his body. Anakin tumbled down the hill, landing on his stomach, limp.
She felt the blackness take hold of her then.
"NO!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. Oh, no, please, please no…!
But there was nothing she could do. It was already done.
She lurched towards him, desperate to go to him. But strong hands grabbed her arms, pulled her back, holding her in place. She screamed and struggled against Obi-Wan, clawing at him, fighting like a wild animal in rage. She growled. She cried out. But she was no use against his Jedi strength.
Anakin's face was contorted in pain, and he looked like he was struggling to maintain consciousness. Padmé felt as if her limbs had been severed, and all she could think of was to run to him and embrace his broken body within the circle of her arms.
"Let me go!" she screamed at Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan! She felt nothing but hatred for him! "Get off me!" But he said nothing to her, merely restrained her, refusing to let her go. "Anakin!"
As she struggled against Obi-Wan's arms, she felt something that surprised her—she felt wetness on the side of her face. Confused, she glanced upward only to see that her friend was crying.
At the bottom of the embankment, Anakin was writhing in agony. He reached outwards with his mechanical hand, either a gesture of desperation or a gesture of anger; she couldn't tell. She sobbed even harder when she saw the pure pain in his eyes. "I hate you!" he cried at Obi-Wan, his voice hoarse and desperate. His face was illuminated with the red light of the molten lava just below him, making him look like a thing of a evil, a monster who'd wiggled from underneath the earth, growling and hissing, doused in flames.
"Anakin," she gasped, though hardly no sound came out at all. Weakened, she stopped struggling against Obi-Wan and merely watched.
"You were my brother, Anakin!" Obi-Wan cried. "I loved you!"
She saw it coming. She knew exactly what was going to happen.
And in her heart, she felt nothing but pure terror.
She felt her soul ripped from her as the flames ignited Anakin's clothes. They crawled up his skin slowly, and Anakin screamed in pain. His eyes shut and his jaw clenched and he screamed.
"ANAKIN!" she shrieked, pain slowly overriding every other emotion and feeling within her. All she could feel was terrible, awful, pain, and horror. With renewed strength, she fought against her capturer. How could this be happening? No!
His expression of agony was more than she could bear.
But when he screamed her name in desperation, she felt as if her heart and soul had withered and died. The air was sucked from her lungs and her knees went weak, and all she could think was: how did it come to this?
She screamed his name back, demanded that Obi-Wan let her go. The flames consumed Anakin's face, charring his perfect skin. She could not imagine a more hellish sight.
"Obi-Wan!" she cried, and beat with her fists. "I'm going to kill you!" she promised, and meant it. "Get OFF ME!"
"Padmé, the baby," Obi-Wan tried to tell her, his voice strained and laced with pain. He tried to pull her away from the scene, get her to safety, but she would not let him take Anakin away from her!
"I don't care!" she sobbed, her voice shrill and hysterical, and with a strength she never imagined she could posses, she broke from the circle of his arms. Her coordination completely off, she fell on her knees and half-stumbled down the embankment, landing close to her severely injured husband. She heard her name come from both men, but she registered neither. She succumbed to the darkness within her and allowed herself to be drowned in it.
For Anakin was dying.
"Padmé, you must come with me!" Obi-Wan tried to convince her, his eyes pleading. "Please! It's not safe here!"
"No," she rasped firmly. She knew it was not safe but that did not matter to her. Nothing mattered anymore. "Get out of here!"
Determination foremost in her mind, she shut his presence out of her awareness, and focused on Ani.
The flames were gone, fleeting, quick as they had come. But beside her laid a groaning and crying Anakin, his body shriveled and burned and mutilated. His hair had been completely burned off his head, and his clothes had provided little protection against the flames of hell. His skin was blackened and peeling off his face and body, the stumps of his severed limbs thrashing around in pain.
She screamed again. And again. And again.
"Anakin," she sobbed, and tried to be closer to him.
"Padmé," he murmured back, delirious with pain and heat.
She feared to touch him; she didn't want to hurt him and didn't know if she might somehow infect him or harm him. So she contented herself to lie next to his weak body, and said through the tears, "I'm here, Ani. I'm here." Dimly, she registered that Obi-Wan was gone.
Anakin succumbed to unconsciousness, and she felt herself similarly recede from the land of the living. For a long time they laid there, broken, both utterly destroyed, and for once, both welcomed the darkness.
To be continued...