Title: "Amor Vincit Omnia"
Written by: Shawn
Summary: AU. After a three and a half year separation Vice Chair Amidala and Jedi Master Skywalker have some unfinished business as the Clone Wars have finally ended and Palpatine is dead.
Story Length: One-shot
Rating: M Category: Romance
Ship: The Skywalkers
Timeline/Spoilers: AU territory here. Everything up until the end of Attack of the Clones is canon except Padme didn't accept Anakin's proposal. This story picks up after at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith when Obi-Wan and Anakin return to Coruscant to save the Supreme Chancellor. All else is explained in the Authors Notes and within the story.
Disclaimer: George and Lucasfilm own it all.
Authors Notes 1: Where this story picks up Anakin and Padme have not seen each other in three and a half years, my estimation of the length of time the Clone Wars lasted. All other questions will be answered in the story.
Extra Special Thanks: To my amazing Beta Reader, Annie. Her help in crafting this story has been monumental. Thanks again.
"Love vanquishes time. To lovers, a moment can be eternity, eternity can be the tick of a clock." Mary Parrish
"The richest love is that which submits to the arbitration of time"
"If you love someone, let them go. If they return to you, it was meant to be. If they don't, their love was never yours to begin with..." Unknown
New Gresham Tower
Vice Chair Padme Amidala's office
Located just outside the Ambassadorial Sector
Galactic City, Coruscant
"So this is how democracy lives. Humbly accepted on behalf of those who died for it by those who were a part of the problem," Padme quietly mused to herself in private, seated behind her circular, beige desk watching the HoloNet's special news report. Senators whom she knew were once secretly, or perhaps cowardly, in support of Palpatine now appeared before the cameras teary-eyed and humble as if they played a role in the return of order and justice.
The Sith's treachery was finally gone, but its subtle after effects would take longer to eliminate fully.
Heavy wind-driven raindrops battered the broad transparisteel-lined panoramic window of Vice Chair Amidala's executive office, cascading in rivets that reminded her of the skylines endless lanes of repulser traffic. The wired, restless state of mind that encompassed her current mood had been with her all day long as she worked tirelessly with the Jedi Council and the Republic Military Generals coordinating the Supreme Chancellor's rescue effort. She was mentally exhausted and heart-sick, though she hid it as well as ever.
She performed her duty no matter the personal cost to her. It was the most sincere definition of her character.
Tapping an impatient fingernail over the marble surface of her desktop, Padme observed Coruscant's weather-controlled climate battling the raging fires and massive foreboding clouds of smoke via powerful thunderstorms over the cityscape. Her office view provided a spectacular canvass of the bustling megalopolis that was Galactic City, ranging from the massive domed structure where the Senate convened to the numerous skydocks of 500 Republica and hundreds of towering high-rises that extended into the clouds themselves.
The torrential downpour drowned the magnificent city in its wake.
After a time Padme turned her attention back to the pale blue holographic image of Lequa, the Rodian elder statesman of the HoloNet being projected on her desktop. He was about to give his final report of the evening. One she was most pleased to hear as it validated the hard-fought efforts of so many... and her own agonizing personal sacrifice.
"This statement comes directly from the office of Supreme Chancellor Organa and on behalf of the Galactic Senate. I am pleased to utter a phrase the whole of the Republic has longed to hear for three and a half years. Ladies and gentleman, the war is officially over."
Loud, boisterous applause and cheering could be heard through Padme's locked office door from down the corridor that housed the offices of her staff and security detail. News of the war being over was blessed indeed. She almost wished she could join in their celebration. Alas, her heart just wasn't in it.
Having worked nonstop for the last two days ever since Supreme Chancellor Organa's capture and subsequent rescue, Padme enjoyed the warm, exotic aroma of her Delia tea, sipping slowly. She listened as the events of the day were chronicled for the Republic citizens, though she already knew everything that had transpired and even more that they never would.
First and foremost in Padme's thoughts, she knew Anakin was home.
Despite the horribly erroneous reports to the contrary he was alive and well, and she had seen him in the most cowardly way possible, hidden behind a massive stone pillar like some sort of stalker. Unable to face the scorn she expected would be her reward for breaking his heart, the pieces of which he didn't know joined her own. She nevertheless had to see him with her own two eyes.
The mere sight of him left her breathless.
Lequa continued his report. "Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi battled the newly revealed Dark Lord of the Sith, former Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and his apprentice Count Dooku to the death. It was reported by a representative of the Jedi Order that Anakin bested Palpatine in a lightsaber duel and killed him, while Master Kenobi ended Count Dooku's life once and for all. In addition, the gnarled body of General Grievous was recovered from the wreckage of his starship."
There was much the public didn't, and probably wouldn't ever know for the sake of the governments stability and the peoples trust in the Jedi. Although she abhorred dishonesty, the dark years of war had aged her wisdom to understand how certain things needed to be kept secret for the greater good. The people needed to believe that the Jedi had Palpatine under heavy surveillance for quite some time and not the reality that only when he revealed himself to Anakin in an effort to turn him to the Dark Side did the Order discover the true identity of the Dark Lord.
That bit of news would shake the fragile foundation of a government and its citizens only now tasting freedom for the first time in a very long time. Hundreds of Jedi fought and died heroically in service to the Republic, and Padme argued on their behalf for certain details to remain unspoken for the sake of a unified Galactic Senate under newly elected Supreme Chancellor Organa, with the Jedi Order as always upholding their well-respected role as keepers of the peace.
"With the Separatist's droids and battle cruisers powered down and deactivated all space routes have reopened," Lequa noted.
Attempting to unwind in her high-back office chair, Padme shut her tired eyes while trying to allow the eloquent voice of the reporter and the soothing sound of rainfall calm her nerves. It wasn't working. She kept revisiting the beloved sight of Anakin again after so long. How handsome he looked, so strong and confident. Just as she saw him in her dreams.
The near-overwhelming urge to rush into his arms despite the common sense to the contrary considering the length of their separation could only be described as agony. She hadn't earned that right. Perhaps someone else had, a thought that simply crushed her inside. It was easier to live with her loneliness during a time of war, or on the eve of it when she pushed him away for the sake of their duty to the Republic. She worked herself to near exhaustion to keep from thinking about all that she had given up.
"Late breaking news from various reliable sources specify that due to his heroic actions today and throughout the war Anakin Skywalker has been granted Mastery by the Jedi Council."
"Ani..." whispered with sweet reverence as such a powerful sense of pride swelled in Padme's chest, her lips curled in a wistful smile. Alone she celebrated in her heart for his grand accomplishment, all the while pushing aside the ache of not being able to be with him when the news came. She shook her head as much in frustration over not being able to shut thoughts of him out of her mind as how hollow the Republic's victory felt to her in hindsight.
For one who had done so much good and accomplished so many worthwhile, productive things during the war she felt as if she accomplished nothing at all. Sadly, no one was here to honor and acknowledge the journey with her. Of the few friends she had they were no doubt celebrating the end of the war with their companions.
Had she ever felt so alone?
"In addition, we have further information from our sources that the Jedi Code has been amended, though there is no specific information on what those amendments will be or if they will be revealed to the public in detail."
Such a historic day and yet as always Padme found herself with no one to share it with. No one to toast to the hard fought victory, or share a moment of silence over the many souls lost that gave their life for democracy. She was now considered the second most politically powerful person in the galaxy. Her diligence, fearlessness, and leadership capabilities led her to being Bail Organa's first choice as his Vice Chair when Palpatine was exposed by the Jedi three months prior. The former Supreme Chancellor managed to escape arrest before re-emerging to launch a massive offensive against Coruscant and abducting the new Supreme Chancellor.
Now that Palpatine and Dooku were gone the Clone Wars were over. The Galactic Senate was united once more behind a Supreme Chancellor and Vice Chair enjoying only the influence due their office minus the executive powers Palpatine manipulated to his advantage.
For Padme though, her troubles were only beginning. Anakin had returned and she couldn't stop thinking about him... missing him terribly. Three and a half long years later and his emotional hold over her was as strong as ever. She hated that she craved the knowledge of if he still loved her. Certainly she gave him no reason to believe such a sentiment was returned. The box beneath her bed was evidence to that.
Certainly the years had changed her, and with him fighting the war on the front lines no doubt he was a new man as well. When they parted on Naboo just after the battle on Geonosis and her rejection of his proposal she died inside as he walked away, head bowed, his precious heart in his hand rather than her tender grasp. She cried that night like she never had before, and then didn't cry again for nearly a year as she threw herself head first into her work to forget. The HoloNet gave her updates not only on the war effort being fought, but the newly named ⌠Hero of the War.⌠
One Anakin Skywalker.
The love of her life.
Perhaps now the love of someone else's.
It dawned on her that if he had been ready to enter into a hidden relationship with her, why wouldn't he with someone else? War was a horrible thing to live through, and he might have sought comfort and affection... might of have needed something good to remind him of what he was fighting for... might of have simply wanted to know he was loved by someone.
She gave him nothing.
Less than nothing.
Which was exactly what she had right now.
Brushing aside a stray tear that fell before she even realized she was crying, Padme heard the head of her security detail's voice come over her office comm-link. "Yes, Captain Typho?"
"Milady, I wanted to give you a update as I have made communications with Captain Felks of the Alderaanian Royal Guard."
"Milady, Supreme Chancellor Organa and his wife are resting comfortably at 500 Republica. They are secured by one hundred Clone Troopers and undercover operatives. The additional safeguard measures they have implemented are now being set in place here, though they won't interfere with your schedule or privacy at all, I assure you."
"As always I appreciate that, Captain."
"Thank you, Milady," Captain Typho replied. "New security protocols are now in place here and with the additional thirty-five Clone Troopers, your personal bodyguard detail, infrared motion sensors, and cloaked aerial spy-cams this building and your apartment complex are impregnable. You are safe, and I can assure you no one will be getting anywhere near you without your consent. The very best technology and manpower available will see to that."
"Captain, I have only needed you to feel safe all these years."
"Your confidence is appreciated, milady. Do you require anything else this evening?"
"No. That'll be all."
"As you wish, milady. Your personal shuttle is fueled and cleared for takeoff whenever you wish to depart the building. The weather isn't an issue."
Offering a final thank you, Padme ended the communication. As the HoloNet finished its nightly transmission with a video montage of numerous celebrations going on across the galaxy she sighed in relief that the war was finally over and Palpatine was out of office. Freedom came at a price that was enormously high and paid in innocent blood, but worth the hefty cost. Pressing the off button on her HoloNet projector, the office fell deathly silent as she was left with the mirror reflection of herself from its glass hull.
For a woman in her mid-twenties Padme felt far older than that and worried that she began to look it. The dark blue executive attire she wore with her long, curly brown hair pinned up and back exemplified a conservative style of dress she found neither flattering nor particularly stylish. She just didn't seem to care anymore and hadn't for quite some time. Where was the gentle feminine flair with which she had once carried herself? When was the last time she felt alluring? Had years of self-imposed loneliness robbed her of an erotic spirit?
Where was her inner fire?
Perhaps, an unwelcome subconscious voice spoke, the desire to look like an accomplished, captivating, sensual woman wasn't a part of you when the only man you wanted to see you that way was wasn't around.
Of course Padme thought of Anakin. Her mind knew no other course of action, day or night, but to ponder the amazing Jedi she let slip through her fingers for reasons that years later caused her such pain and misery. No doubt caused him the same or worse.
The daring attitude Padme was known for in the Galactic Senate failed her tonight as she considered going to see Anakin at the Jedi Temple. But for the life of her she couldn't think of what she would possibly say to him after all this time. Sorry was woefully inadequate. He had written her well over a hundred personal letters for three years. She had never written him back once for fear of voicing her severe regret and begging him to come home to her. Pride, duty, and if she was honest with herself fear caused her to sever contact with the man she loved for his sake.
Finally, the letters stopped coming.
He hadn't written to her once in the last six months. Surely that was a sign that he had finally given up on her. Sadly, she's given him every reason to. He might even harbor hate for her, the thought of which was almost too painful to bear.
Padme loved him still. Always. Hadn't for a moment stopped. But the decision she made damned them both. And now what did she have?
Political influence second only to the Supreme Chancellor himself.
But no one to hold or be held by at night. No one whose embrace brightened her day. No shoulder to cry on when the need arose. No one to make her laugh or blush or even infuriate her only to later on earn her forgiveness. She had no one to draw out the passionate fire in her she prayed wasn't extinguished forever.
She had some friends. She had family.
But Padme didn't have Anakin. And so she felt far less than whole.
Suddenly a brisk, gusty wind blew through her office out of nowhere, tossing papers and other items from her desktop in a startling manner. It was only when her eyes lifted to the dark corner wall near a small window that she saw a cloaked figure bathed in shadows. Her throat constricted tight with a fear not born of danger. Her heart ceased beating entirely. Her voice fled her lungs.
Even though his face was hidden from her, she knew who he was deep down in her soul. She felt who he was in her heart.
Anakin Skywalker was here in her office.
A long, breathless silence settled in as their eyes locked.
Startled by his unexpected presence, Padme slowly stood from her desk. Anakin stalked toward her with purpose, as if nothing and no one in the galaxy could keep him away from her a second longer.
"Ani..." Padme managed to softly voice before strong arms drew her to him, embraced her so tightly, hauling her slender form solidly against his chest, nearly lifting her feet off the floor. Her arms circled his neck immediately, drawing him closer, inhaling the unique scent of him, drowning in the heady feel of his hard body pressed firmly to hers. In his arms she felt so alive.
For a short, precious time there was no war, no hate, so suffering or pain or death. There was only love.
Truly shaken by his mere presence, Padme sighed in his arms. "Thank the Force you're alright. The HoloNet reported so many conflicting reports. I had heard terrible whispers that you'd been killed."
"My life isn't for the taking," he promised her. "Even death can't claim what I gave to you years ago."
She smiled as nothing at all existed outside their reunion.
"Padme, I've missed you so much," Anakin whispered against the side of her neck, clutching her as if she were a dream that might fade away at any time. By the Force she was still as beautiful as he remembered. She smelled so good, tantalizing his senses. Finally, he was home. At least he dearly hoped so. There was so much to tell her, and he scarcely knew where to begin but refused to let her go. She felt perfect in his arms. Absolutely perfect.
Laying her head over his shoulder, Padme's eyes remained shut as she leaned into him, enjoying the bliss of having him in her arms again. Then she felt his arms loosen their hold around her waist, thus ending their embrace. She lifted her head to gaze at him anew, finding that even the burn scar adorning his face only added character and an edge to his handsome good looks. Her hands rose of their own accord, pulling the hood from over his head, revealing his long, sun-streaked hair. She smiled gloriously, adoring him and not ashamed to let him see it as she just couldn't seem to care.
Towering over her in a way that made him feel all the more protective of her, Anakin lifted his hands to her lovely face, allowing the warm Dermaskin covering his robotic arm to caress her cheek. Misty brown eyes pooled with liquid as he descended, only allowing himself the luxury of pressing his forehead to hers, and then gently, slowly brushing his face along her hairline and down her cheek before tapering off.
He wanted to kiss her more than he wanted that seat on the Jedi Council. More than his next breath of air. Shuddering with such emotion, he willed himself from her personal space slightly, standing before her now in awe. "You're even more beautiful than you are in my dreams."
Ducking her head briefly, Padme was too proud and far too afraid to tell him that was all that he needed to say. If he wanted her she was his. Utterly. Completely. For all time. Her cheeks blushed lightly as a shy expression fell over her face. "You humble me. Thank you."
Reaching for her small hand, Anakin captured it between both of his and gave it an affectionate squeeze. "Vice Chair Amidala," he conveyed respectfully, offering a bow to honor her.
"Master Jedi," she replied in the same tone, offering a small bow of her own, leaving her hand in his tender care. The cute way his face lit up when she acknowledged his new title signaled that perhaps he wasn't sure she knew. "I just found out on the HoloNet."
Anakin suddenly felt a bit nervous. "News... news travels fast."
"Congratulations, Anakin. You've earned your mastery as I knew you would. I never doubted it for a moment."
So Padme was proud of him, Anakin was pleased to note. She still held the Jedi in the highest regard and now he was among them a Master. Only in her presence did he feel that he had finally arrived. "Congratulations are in order for you as well, Padme. Chancellor Organa chose wisely for his Vice Chair. You are exactly the kind of person the Republic and the Senate need."
While mindful of his high praise, he still hadn't relinquished her hand, the sensation alone warming her belly. She silently prayed he would never stop touching her. "Thank you."
When at last he allowed her hand to slip free from his grasp she missed the connection that very instant. Having no real clue how to proceed, she exhaled gratefully when his attention was drawn elsewhere as he looked around her vast executive office. She was thankful for the breathing room.
Genuinely curious, Anakin toured the area with keen interest while aware of the soft footfalls that now followed him. The elegant style of Padme's office befit a former queen. Antiquated oil paintings of Old Coruscant adorned the burgundy framed walls, while meticulously designed stone alcoves filled with colorful fresh flowers gave life to her classic decor. On the center wall hung an ancient copy of the Constitution of the Republic, an item that no doubt cost her a great deal of credits.
Her large, imposing beige desk was complimented by three matching chairs and the magnificent view of Galactic City. A supercomputer of some sort sat beside the HoloNet projector on one side of her desktop, while the other was covered with holo-photos of family and friends.
He hadn't gotten a good enough look to see if there were any of her taken with another man or of him alone. At least her fingers bore no rings of any kind.
"Do I want to know how you were able to sneak in here past all of the new security protocols that are now in place?"
Wearing a devilish smirk, Anakin peered over his shoulder. "I wouldn't intrigue you near as much if I divulged all of my secrets, milady."
"Even if I asked nicely?" she dared to flirt, surprising herself that she still knew how. Some things felt so natural with him. She watched him stop to stand by the long curving window overlooking Galactic City.
"While I am well aware of your influential way with words," Anakin intended to say more when she eased in by his side, angling her body just against his as they observed the storms furious downpour. He wanted to say something charming to keep with the intimate mood they▓d shared thus far. Alas, having her so close robbed him of his train of thought, tempting his self-control to the very limits of his sanity. "That wasn't fair at all."
The way he licked his lips before he spoke... For the first time in what felt like forever Padme felt sexy. Hidden meaning aside, she welcomed the ability to distract him by her mere presence. He certainly had the same effect on her. "The feeling is mutual."
Thunder rumbled in the distance, accompanied by brilliant streaks of lightening criss-crossing the night sky as the wind-swept rain fell in earnest. There was something beautifully poetic about the raging storm and them being together again. Storms could make one feel sad, sleepy, or reflective, but there was a natural sense of renewal once they passed over. Perhaps a new beginning after the rain was their true meaning. For whatever reason the storm spoke to them. Even for them when they were unsure what to say.
Having longed to be this close to her again, Anakin admired her once more, drawing her full attention with the emotion openly shown in his blue eyes. "I've missed you so."
The softest cry escaped her lips as Padme didn't wait for him to reach for her, she simply fell into him body and soul, closed her arms around him with her face buried against his chest as a flood of feelings tore through her. She cried for the years they▓d lost... for her pain and his and how amazing this moment was, that after surviving three and a half years of fighting a war on the front lines he was alive and well in her arms again. She was so lucky she could barely stand it.
Throughout her outpouring of emotion, Anakin held her close, her head tucked beneath his chin, his arms locked possessively around her. She was releasing something so dear and personal in his embrace that he decided to simply wait until she was ready to talk again. As if there was anything else in all the galaxy he wanted to do more than hold her.
Sniffling against his chest, Padme tilted her head to find such a patient love in his eyes. She felt she didn't deserve it in her heart of hearts, but graciously accepted it anyway. "I have missed you more than you will ever know, Ani."
"I wrote to you as often as I could, Padme."
New tears fell as overwhelming shame descended upon her. So much so that she couldn't speak. For all that he had seen and lived through during the Clone Wars he still he wrote to her time after time. She hadn't given him anything in return. How could she have done that? Where were her well rehearsed reasons now? Why couldn't she give voice to even one?
Unable to decipher her feelings as his own were in such an uproar, Anakin released his hold on her, stepping away as he needed the space to think. Was he intruding on a new life she had built for herself? Did another man claim her heart and she hated to break his with the news? The pain was staggering to even think such a thing. His voice hitched when he spoke. "I'm... I'm sorry, Padme. I didn't mean to... I don't mean to make you feel uncomfortable. When you didn't reply to any of my letters that first year I should have known what that meant, but I..."
Summoning all his courage while feeling like a fool, Anakin poured his heart out. "I don't wish to complicate your life by my return. I didn't come here with any expectations. I respect whomever you are with now, or if you just don't want... Please forgive me for being a bit naive. I should never have assumed... I'm sorry."
How had she managed to break his precious heart again? Padme slowly shook her head, but the words were still choked in her throat.
"I'll take my leave now. Goodnight, milady."
Watching him walk back towards the small window he used to enter her office, Padme chased after him, grabbing his right arm, turning him to her with tears streaming down her face. It was time she put all her passion, her strength of character, and her iron will to win into fixing this mess she made of their lives.
Padme lifted her hand to his cheek, brushing sweet warmth over his face. Her voice trembled with emotion when she spoke. "I am speechless as I look out over the battlefield. I have never seen so much death and destruction in all my life. It▓s only at night when I close my eyes and dream of you that I find the strength and courage to continue on," she quoted word for word from one of his earliest letters, a fact that seemed to shock him where he stood.
Still crying, Padme continued on. "My heart aches to be with you, Angel. I have been stuck on this insufferable world for months now, and I'm sick of it. I'm sick of this war and the Jedi Order and even Obi-Wan who insists on critiquing my every move. But this is my duty and you have shown me how important it is to stay the course and help those that need it. Even though I am suffering without you I will fight harder to end this war. I just wish I could kiss you one more time to remember something good in my life."
Anakin breathed deeply, his heart loving her more now than it ever had before. With each word she spoke his soul was healed.
"I saw you give a speech on the HoloNet, and while I was riveted by your brilliance and conviction, I was undone by the beauty of your soft brown eyes. I wish that I had time to write more, but I have to leave now. My transport just arrived. Please stay well. May the Force be with you, my love."
Padme moved in front of the window, locking it back before facing Anakin again. "I read every single letter you sent me," she confessed. "I kept all of them. They are the most precious items that I own. They made me feel connected to you. They gave me your love when we couldn't be together."
"But you never replied even one time."
"What would I have said? That I love you, and I'm a fool, and please come back to me?" Making sense of this wasn't easy when it never did. Padme struggled to convey this. "I felt like replying to your letters would hurt you more in the long run than I already did when I turned down your proposal. I didn't want you thinking about me when you needed to be thinking about staying alive."
"All I did was think about you!" Anakin fired back with conviction.
"The error in judgment was mine alone," Padme accepted humbly. "I felt selfish for wanting to write you back when all I wanted to do was beg you to come back to me. But the Republic and the Jedi needed you to fulfill your destiny."
"I needed you."
"And I, you," she prayed he would believe. "Only in hindsight do I truly see how wrong I was for allowing you to go so long without knowing if I thought of you or missed you. I should have written back to you. I should have accepted your proposal because I wanted to with all my heart. I wish I could go back and change things, but I can't. But please never doubt what you mean to me. You are everything in my world."
"But do you love me?"
The purest form of relief imaginable enveloped Anakin in such an astonishingly strong sense of joy that he suddenly felt light-headed. He closed his eyes and exhaled deeply as if he'd run a grueling marathon, so profoundly touched by her passionate admission. At long last he had his reward for surviving a terrible war.
Through it all he hadn't lost her heart.
Padme patiently awaited his response to her declaration, her arms wrapped protectively around herself as she was now open and vulnerable before him. He had every right to be angry with her, and if he still left she wouldn't have anyone to blame but herself. She held a great deal of regret over her stupid pride and her need to always be rational and think logically. If she had simply thought with her heart instead of her head she would have spared them so much pain and misery.
With his arms held behind his back, Anakin circled Padme, considering a matter of the utmost importance. Upon reaching a major decision he stood before her once more and gave a nod of acceptance on his course of action.
Curiously, Padme watched his right arm lift above her head, palm open. He motioned over her hair with his hand as a gentle tug of sorts, courtesy of the Force, withdrew three silver embroidered hair wraps that held her long tresses in place. They descended in front of her in slow motion, and then with a wave of his hand floated across the room to land on her desk.
The humorous amusement dancing in his blue eyes made her smile, but when his fingers and hands began tenderly drawing her long curly hair out over her slender shoulders, his fingers brushing over her scalp, taking his own dear time in arranging what pleased him left her so thoroughly aroused she was sure he heard her moan.
"I love it when you wear your hair down. It reminds me of how beautiful it looked the night we made love."
Their one magical night. The only time Padme had allowed her heart to lead the way instead of her head. A gloriously sweet first time for them both. Blushing in remembrance, she playfully warned. "Be careful, Master Jedi. A girl might think you are trying to seduce her."
His superior height invaded her personal space until she was trapped against the rain-beaten window, her brown eyes darker in the shadows. "I don't see a girl. I see a brilliant, thrilling, sensual woman who is in fact seducing me."
"Seducing you?" she managed a mischievous grin as their bodies pressed together. "Tell me, Master Jedi. Is that a lightsaber or are you just happy to see me?"
They stared at each other wearing the most serious looks on their faces until they suddenly burst out laughing, so hard in fact they pulled apart, doubling over in glee.
"I cannot believe I just said something so utterly silly," Padme teased at her own expense, her heart filled with mirth. "I may have watched one too many late night HoloNet movies."
"Angel," Anakin called out to her and then she was wrapped up in his arms again when she walked into them. "That was most definitely not my lightsaber," he whispered in her ear, smiling.
Padme couldn't remember the last time it felt so good to laugh freely, or that she was able to do it in someone▓s arms. She needed this time with him more than she had ever needed anything in her entire life. "Ani, you've had such a long, busy day. Let me order us some food and drinks. It wouldn't take long at all."
Settling back a moment, he took her hands between them again. "Later. There's more you need to know, and we have to talk about it."
"Alright then," she accepted.
"I have a few questions for you."
Anakin released her hands a bit nervously despite their talk thus far. "So you're still single?"
"I was yours from the very first time you kissed me," she disclosed sincerely. "There isn't anyone else in my life. There hasn't been, and there won't be except you."
He smiled so brightly he felt somewhat embarrassed. "Good. Then I won't have to murder anyone."
"That wasn't terribly romantic."
"No, it was honest." Somehow even that darker side of his persona pleased her. "Is there anything you want to ask me?"
"That depends. Will I need a blaster, a speeder, and a woman's address if I do?"
"Never," he assured her. "Not one time."
Thunder boomed so loudly overhead the subsequent force rattled the entire curved transparisteel window frame, causing the lamp disks to flicker momentarily. Heavy rainfall continued to batter the capital, drowning out the last of the fires and smoking buildings across Galactic City. Despite the aggressive weather conditions Coruscant experienced a sense of something that it hadn't in so long its people feared it might never return.
While enjoying the storm with Anakin, Padme asked, "How is Obi-Wan? I haven't had the chance to sit down and talk with him in ages."
"Ben is a little less grumpy and speaks with a bit more sarcasm as the years pass," Anakin noted fondly. "Despite our occasional differences we're enjoying a great partnership. He's my best friend, and he championed on my behalf to be granted Mastery."
"He has always believed in you."
Anakin nodded. "Perhaps I simply needed to grow up to see it. But he's in good spirits and health. Like all of us he's pleased the war is over and the Jedi can once again go about our sworn duty as mandated."
"Where is he tonight?"
"Most likely at a smoky tavern playing cards and enjoying a drink with some of his shady non-Jedi friends in the lower levels." He added, "If it weren't for you I'd be joining him."
"We could go and surprise him, you know?" Padme dared to suggest, feeling a newfound sense of freedom and daring come over her. "All I would need is a modest disguise. After all, who would believe Vice Chair Amidala was seen having a drink in the lower levels with two well known Jedi Masters?"
"Angel, I have plans for you tonight that do not include Obi-Wan."
When he talked like that... with that tone of voice... staring at her the way he was... Padme's body tingled in response as she suddenly felt warm all over.
Pleased with the effect he had on her considering what he had planned, Anakin inquired about how her family was doing and how she was dealing with her new position and the criticism and invasion of privacy that came along with it. Never one to complain, Padme considered it all par for the course and was happy to report her family was doing fine, though worried about her constantly.
"During the day I am far less alone than even I would like at times. DormИ, Motee, and SabИ make up my personal staff and are my dearest friends. Having them around grounds me, and they keep up with all the gossip going on around us," Padme explained. "But at night is when the lonely quiet erodes you and becomes depressing. I stay busy to exhaust myself. Sometimes it works. Other times..."
Anakin just had to know, "Are you happy, Padme?"
"I am now, Ani," she confided truthfully. "In my professional life I have enjoyed success in my efforts to help and serve the people. But in my personal life, to be quite honest I don't even have one. Only now do I feel like I can breathe again. And I'm so proud of you becoming a Master and being given a seat on the Jedi Council. You deserve what you have earned."
"As long as you feel that way." was all he said, now touring the office with his angel by his side. There was so much he wanted, needed to tell her that he scarcely knew where to begin. "For all the pain it caused me when you turned down my proposal, perhaps a great deal of good did come of it."
Padme hadn't expected to hear that. "Please explain."
Standing before the Constitution of the Republic, Anakin thought of the man who had damned it. The same man who wanted to do the same to his soul. "Had we been married Palpatine might have found out about it and tried to use you to get to me. In fact, if we had any contact at all he might of have tried to manipulate me through you. It burns me up inside how much of a fool I was in not seeing him for whom he was, but at least he had one less weapon to use against me."
"News of his true nature being revealed to you was lacking detail when it was presented to the Senate. All that the Jedi would tell us officially is that Palpatine attempted to turn you to the Dark Side and failed."
Anakin dreaded ever speaking of that day, but she deserved to know what almost robbed him of his life. "Palpatine ventured to the Outer Rim during the sieges wishing to see the war effort first hand. The Jedi surmised he simply wanted to appear a fearless leader in the eyes of the people, when in reality he was preparing to unleash a secret weapon on the Jedi. A weapon I cannot speak of even to you."
She made no attempt to appear vague, a quality he had always admired. How she came about the news didn't matter. That she had it at all spoke of the new woman before him. "What do you know of it?"
"The basic premise, but nothing detailed," she replied. "Once Bail took office we discussed at great length that the Senate needed more reliable information to better serve and protect the people. And while we work with and trust the Jedi, we are aware of its secrecy concerning many matters they don't wish to be made public. At the end of the day Jedi govern Jedi, and so steps have been taken to insure we are aware of what is going on around us."
As if his respect for her could grow any more, it did again. Her mind and intuition were as sharp as ever. "Duly noted," was his only reply on what she revealed. "As for Palpatine, he attempted to use the resentment I felt toward Obi-Wan over my mother▓s death and the Jedi Council's refusal to grant me mastery to turn me against them. He told me that he could expose the Jedi for whom they really were and end the war in a day if only I'd pledge myself to him. If I looked at all the evidence he felt I would see how corrupt and selfish the Order truly was, as well as how the Senate needed him in a greater capacity than he already held. He then offered me the secrets of limitless power through the Force while trying to convince me that the Jedi feared my power and sought to hold me back."
"You resisted him."
"Yes, barely," Anakin admitted. "I was far more tempted than many realize. But when he revealed Order 66 to me he discussed it as the sacrifice of a few thousand Jedi for the sake of a unified galaxy under one Emperor with me as his right hand. Answering to know one but him. He felt if the Jedi cared about its own the Code wouldn't have allowed the conditions that kept me out of contact with my mother."
"I abhor than man," Padme noted vehemently, thinking of Palpatine. "He had the nerve to blame the ones who were dying all over the galaxy fighting a fake war when in reality he is responsible for the deaths of billions."
"I saw through his deception and confided everything in Obi-Wan. We attempted to apprehend him with Master Windu's help, but he managed to escape. Thankfully, not before we were able to tape the entire fight and everything he said. Master Yoda set him up. That's how we were able to prove Palpatine was the Sith Lord and have him removed from office."
"The Senate was only granted edited bits of that footage," Padme remembered as that disturbed her to some extent.
"The Jedi had their reasons."
Padme nodded respectfully. "Nonetheless, you succeeded, Ani. You resisted the Dark Side's allure and bested Palpatine himself."
"I could not become someone you couldn't love, Padme. Not even if at the time I wasn't sure you still loved me."
"I always have and I always will," she promised while standing beside him, her place reclaimed. Anakin was home, and he still loved her and wanted her. Logically, they would need weeks or perhaps months to get to know each other again and see what the future might hold. Her heart spoke from a place devoid of logic. It simply refused to spend another day without him no matter the circumstance.
Not one more day.
Padme moved in front of him, her smile lighting his soul. "We have a problem."
"You haven't kissed me yet."
Anakin playfully tilted his head towards her. "I did not know that you wanted it so badly?"
"It▓s been three and a half years since you kissed me."
"We did much more than kiss the night before I left Naboo."
Her fair complexion betrayed the blush that fell over her. "Answer my question."
Demanding and a bit of a brat, he adored her so completely. "If I kiss you I won't be able to stop."
"I wouldn't want you too." Wearing a Sith's smirk, Padme pushed aside what she would normally do for what she wanted to do. In a surprising move she reached for his lightsaber, gently undoing its hook from Anakin's belt. Scratched and scuffed, it had obviously seen better days. Hand-made by her love, the weapon that brought him back to her was worth a hundred times more to her than the two million credits she spent on the Constitution of the Republic. It was absolutely priceless. "It▓s heavier than I imagined."
"Mine's is bigger than Obi-Wan's," flew out of his mouth impatiently, and when Padme arched an amused brow he felt young and foolish despite the innocence of his claim. "You know what I mean."
"I'll take your word for it as I have no interest to find out otherwise." Running her fingers over the cool metallic surface, she found the button used to ignite the saber. Brushing just past him, she held the saber in both hands before her. "May I?"
As if he could deny her anything. Anakin closed the distance between them in a heartbeat, his body aligned perfectly with hers from behind, so close his breath fanned warmth over the back of her neck. His arms lifted around her, his hands now closed over her own, assisting in holding the lightsaber upright. "Do it."
Padme's thumb pressed down on the ignition button as the blade extended in a flash of glowing blue. His hands aided hers in a swaying motion, creating a light-blur and the unmistakable sound of a Jedi's weapon. Amazing as it was to hold it, the hard body pressed so closely to her own left Padme undone, breathless against him.
Anakin whispered in her ear, "Obi-Wan taught me that a Jedi's lightsaber is his life. But my life is the woman who holds it now."
"Is that supposed to charm me, Master Jedi?"
"Well... if it works."
Shades of the past. Padme recalled him saying that to her once before but then lost her train of thought when he brushed her hair aside and began softly kissing the nape of her neck. "You're seducing me again."
"No, I'd be much too frightened to seduce a Vice Chair," he teased her with an altered version of something else he told her once. The sensual way she melted in his arms while still holding his lightsaber was divine to his heart. Now was the right time to reveal his life-changing news. "I have something to tell you."
Missing the feel of his body pressed to hers, Padme watched him move around her as she lowered the lightsaber, switching off the blade. She found his mood serious, and yet he seemed genuinely at peace with himself. Something she wasn't sure she had ever seen before. "Is this good news or bad?"
"That depends on what you think," he replied calmly. "The Jedi Code has been under careful examination for the last three months, ever since Palpatine was revealed as the Sith Lord. The Council felt that if they were so out of tune with the Force that they couldn't have suspected Palpatine sooner then the true culprit in our troubles might lie within ourselves."
"Every organization, even the Jedi Order, must closely scrutinize itself from time to time. Things change as years pass and we as people must change with it. Nothing is perfect."
"Good point," Anakin noted fondly. "To that end, the Jedi Council began its own internal investigation and found a number of startling issues that defied the Code as it was. Chief among them were the personal attachments Knights and Masters were not allowed to have in the way of loving relationships outside the physical. Instances of corruption and greed were far less frequent than the number of intimate affairs uncovered. Particularly, marriage."
Padme's heart suddenly caught in her chest as it became clear to her what element of the Code was being focused on. Dare she hope...
Now finally able to express his utter joy over the news he was about to give her, Anakin placed his hands on Padme's shoulders, living in her gorgeous eyes. "The Code is far too vast and important for the official inquiry to be finished already, but the Jedi Council voted to amend the Code in one way right now, with everything else still being debated."
"I heard reports of the Code being amended on the HoloNet before you arrived," Padme breathed softly. "There were no official details."
"There won't be for some time, but know this. From the moment the Code was amended I ran from the Council chambers to the landing dock, jumped in my fighter, and flew straight here. I couldn't wait to tell you this, but I was afraid of how things might have changed in your personal life."
"You are my personal life," Padme asserted.
"But I didn't know that."
"The fault lies with me, Ani. I am so sorry."
"Regrets are for days when a war hasn't ended. All things are forgiven and made new today," he declared smiling, drawing her into his arms again. "Angel, intimate attachments are no longer forbidden for Knights or Masters. We are free to pursue a romantic relationship with whomever we choose. We can even be married."
"We can even be married," came trembling quietly from her lips, repeating his precious words. Was she dreaming? Surely that must be the case. She▓d wake up soon in her huge bed all alone at her apartment and this would all have been a dream.
"Padme," Anakin caressed her name with such love within his voice. "I need you to tell me about the last three and a half years of your life. I need to know the road you've traveled without me."
Why was what she asked herself, but the moment was simply too powerful for her to question or reason his request. "I have worked harder than I ever have before in trying to end the war while performing my sworn duties as the Senator representing Naboo. I have lived no other life. I've done or experienced nothing of a personal significance. I have felt empty more nights than fulfilled despite performing my duties. And I have loved you dearly every single day."
On the wing tips of her beautiful words Anakin couldn't remember the war he barely survived or all the death that he had seen or committed by his own hand. The years were light and blew away on gusty winds as if they didn't matter at all. He had found his way back to her, and that was what mattered. The journey was an afterthought.
"I don't think logically, Padme," he informed her wearing a small, nervous smile. "I follow my instincts and my passions. I live for the moment, consequences be damned. Where you are concerned I simply cannot be rational. My heart is my guide, and it has forever led me to you."
When he fell to one knee before her, Padme began crying that very instant, so overwhelmed by the love of her life.
Anakin gently took her right hand in his own, making her the sole focus of his world. He wept as this was the moment he had waited for since he was a young boy. "Angel, I didn't know the Jedi Council would amend the Code the way that they did or as soon as today. I didn't have time to acquire you a ring. I honestly don't even have the credits, and I'm not a rich man. I never will be. I'm certainly not perfect. My manners might even be a little suspect," he implied playfully, causing her to smile through her tears. "But I have loved you from the moment I first saw you and will until I take my last breath. Now, I know we have been apart for so long, and rationally this might not make sense, but I can't help but to ask. I am so sure of how I feel about you and how you make me feel. I know your heart. I love your soul. And I live for your smile. I want you for the rest of my life. I need you for the rest of my life."
The Jedi Master on one knee before his Angel asked in a trembling voice, "Will you please marry me?"
Three and a half years ago Padme Amidala had made the most important decision of her life at that time using her vaunted logic and rational.
Tonight she simply voiced what her heart was told her to say."
"Yes, my love."
"Yes?" Anakin repeated as such overwhelming joy descended upon him. "Are you sure?"
"More than I have ever been about anything in my entire life?" Padme softly grazed her hand over his cheek, smoothing over a stray tear that had fallen when he asked her to be his wife. "Rise."
He did that very instant, reaching for her and then twirling her around twice in blissful celebration of his heart's desire. She made a joyful noise, holding onto him so tight, happier than she ever conceived she could be. The insanity of what she consented to, with all the questions to come from both friends and family were thoughts pushed aside in the wake of simply living in the moment.
The raucous thunderstorm raging outside poetically serenaded Anakin and Padme's engagement as they held each other close, drowning in such a loving gaze.
"I swear to you," Anakin pledged softly, "I will never allow anything to hurt you."
"I will work on bettering all of my bad habits"
"I will respect you forever and defend your honor with my very life."
"Anakin Skywalker!" she finally had to say his full name to shut him up, all the while adoring him utterly.
Wrapping her arms around his neck, Padme drew him to her slowly. "Shut up and kiss me."
Bending to her, Anakin closed his lips over hers as they became one. Slowly, deliberately, he ravished her soft mouth, their kiss singing a sensual harmony. With a heady craving to touch her that required immediate nourishment his hands roamed the expanse of her slender back. The blatantly masculine scent of him pooled liquid heat in the middle of her as she clung to him, relishing the exquisite taste of his tongue curling around her own. Finally, it was their time.
Finally, they were together again.
Anakin claimed his angel, so desperate for her love as he plundered her ripe mouth. The longing he'd endured for three and a half agonizing years left him aching for her. And when she seductively pushed his robe off his shoulders he couldn't hold it in any longer, "Padme..."
"I don't want to talk," she breathlessly declared covering his mouth once more. "I don't want to think," whispered as her hands found the front of his shirt, seeking the hard flesh beneath it. "I don't want to reason or wait another moment because it feels like we've been denied a lifetime, but not a second more. I need to feel you... inside me." Her hands grazed over the front of his pants, causing his lips to part when she grasped evidence of his arousal. "Make love to me so that I never forget it."
The Force switched off the lamp disks, submerging the office in darkness as they undressed in desperate haste.
Fleeting rainfall battered the broad curved window as brief flashes of bright lightening illuminated the couple lying on a Master's heavy Jedi robe.
Padme's beautiful face contorted in ecstasy as the pleasure of Anakin's mouth suckling a pebbled nipple saw her belly heaving in convulsions. She freely gave herself over to his every whim, whimpering as his warm mouth paid loving homage to her naked body. Her lips found life anew in his passionate kiss. Her navel now knew the soft, wet feel of his tongue swirling about. Her slender thighs felt the gentle adoring bite of his teeth. She quivered when his hands cupped the firm cheeks of her backside while he feasted at the sweet mound of her love, twisting such turbulent emotions within her she came undone in a screaming climax the likes of which she had never experienced before.
Euphoria clouded Anakin's very soul as he methodically ascended Padme's glorious body with his tongue, ghosting lightly over her hardened nipples before kissing her deeply once more. He covered her body with his own, the length of him as hard as he had ever been. Her thighs parted fully, allowing him position to quench his greatest desire. Slowly he shifted his hips, entering her in a long, smooth glide but no more as it had been a very long time since...
Shivering from head to toe at the solid length of him buried so deeply inside her, Padme began brushing her lips over his neck and shoulder, silently urging him to begin. A yearning whine escaped her lips when he withdrew, and then she cried out when he surged forward. Her unconscious sudden, tight clenching sent spasms of pleasure throughout her body as he began easing in and out, taking her in such a sweet rhythm she soon found it herself, locking her legs over his back.
Parted lips hung above the same as lust-fulled eyes openly focused on one another. He moved above her in long strokes, nearly overcome by how beautiful she looked tonight. For every loud rumble of thunder he seemed to lose just a bit more of his self-control, now thrusting with aggressive intent that seemed to lift her higher on some new plane of pleasure. Her small hands roamed all over his body, begging for more through touch alone. He craved her more than life itself, his body surging harder now, her nails dragging over his sweaty back, her nipples grazing over his broad chest.
Padme quivered and jerked beneath him, the intensity and fervor of their lovemaking seemingly fell in tune with the powerful thunderstorms driving the rain against the window. Feeling him within her felt so damn good she couldn't believe the sounds she made or that she was even capable of being driven to such noises. Writhing over his robe, she had never felt so wet or insatiable before. When she felt his climax mounting her hips urged his release, lifting with his every thrust. Clutching his hair in her fists, her heels dug against the flexing muscles of his backside. "Don't stop...please don't ever stop," she panted hot into his ear.
"My angel," he grunted with exertion.
A delirious gasp tore from her lips only to cry out silently when she felt him grow rigid and then burst time after time while moaning her name as if it were a prayer. She held him, mind, body and soul through it all, loving him so possessively.
The rains ended at long last, and then there was peace and quiet.
Curled around one another, Anakin and Padme basked in the afterglow, stealing kisses in the dark. The road ahead was as unpredictable as ever, but now they were together, traveling alone no more.
"What's so funny?" Anakin asked when he noticed Padme's mood turn humorous, laughing in his arms.
"DormИ and SabИ will think I have lost my mind when I tell them what happened and that we're getting married. And don't even ask me about my family."
"Are you scared?"
"Terrified," Padme smiled, considering the reaction her parents might have. "But I just don't care. I have what fulfills me and I will not ever let you go again."
"Obi-Wan will surely need a drink once I tell him of what we plan to do."
"And then there's the HoloNet media and the likely firestorm of controversy we're likely to cause." Shaking her head, Padme just couldn't seem to care. "This is insane, Ani."
"I know," he agreed, kissing her temple, holding her closer. "Absolutely crazy."
"Maybe we should call the whole thing off?" she considered before he kissed her again. "On second thought."
"Shut up and kiss me again."
"I will, but at my apartment. No more sex in my office on the floor. Professionalism requires standards, after all."
Helping her to her feet, Anakin felt the joy of a new beginning for his life and her own. "Let's get dressed and go home."
Home... Their home. Padme once thought a life with Anakin was an impossible dream she didn't deserve to have when she gave it up once upon a time. Now fate was on her side for once. It was time they got on with their lives. Palpatine was gone, the Jedi Code had been changed, and the war was finally over. They could live for themselves at last. "That sounds perfect."
"Amor Vincit Omnia" means 'Love Conquers All' in Latin.