Please see first chapter for disclaimer and other info
A/N: So we've finally reached the end of the story. I hope everybody enjoyed it! This is not the end of the series however so keep your eyes peeled. Sorry it took a while I got caught up with HP mania (how freaking AWESOME was HP7??) Enjoy :)
Chapter Five: The Conclusion
The trip home remained blissfully uneventful. There were no exploding parts of the ship, no crazy pirate attacks and no son-in-laws to make the trip more exhausting and humiliating that he needed it to be. He had sought his own solitude in the cockpit. Upon entering the ship, Padmé had made sure to go in the opposite direction from him. In fact, Anakin knew that she was looking for the place that was farthest from him on the Falcon. Not that he could blame her. Even Anakin wasn't exactly his biggest fan right now, which was an extreme change of heart for the Jedi Master extraordinaire.
Leia, the dutiful daughter had followed her mother but not before scowling at her father. She had also exercised her Skywalker Force-talents, screeching in his head 'This is your fault!' Anakin wished the women of his family would come up with some new material. He was sick of hearing it. The battle of his conscience had begun.
She's right you know, Good Anakin reprimanded him.
It's her fault too, Bad Anakin snapped.
You should have been a better husband, apologise and you might save your own Bantha hide, Good Anakin lamented.
Liar! She will leave you and you will have to live with Obi-Wan, Bad Anakin yelled.
Anakin shuddered at the thought the more evil part of his conscience presented. Is that what his life would come to—growing even older with only his Master at his side? There were enough rumours about him and Obi-Wan around without the image of two old men living together planted in their minds.
The Millennium Falcon was small enough for him to feel the emotions his children were projecting. Leia felt sympathetic and Luke felt amused by it all. Anakin felt stupid after his children had rescued him. He had spent the better part of twenty years protecting his kids to the best of his Jedi ability and its turned out he was the one that needed rescuing and possibly a swift kick to the backside.
Well do you want to grow old alone? Good Anakin asked.
The answer was a Force-deafening NO.
As Anakin stood up, ready to face Padmé, he couldn't help but imagine the two sides of his conscience. Good Anakin had just challenged Bad Anakin to a lightsaber duel and emerged victorious. Anakin smiled, hoping that Bad Anakin would always remain a suck shot.
He set the autopilot, mildly surprised that the bucket of bolts ship even had an autopilot and ventured to find his wife. As soon as he opened the doors, he ran into a walking mass of red hair and venom. "Are all you Skywalkers this clumsy?" Mara Jade demanded, weaving around Anakin to access the cockpit.
"Mara Jade," Anakin said evenly, taking in his son's girlfriend. There was something strange about her, an air of secrecy shrouded in hostility. He could see why Luke wanted her; he wasn't blind for Force-sake. He had always invested trust in Luke and his affairs but Mara Jade made him more confused than Chewbacca singing Wookiee lullabies.
"In the flesh," she retorted, taking the pilot's seat usually reserved for Han. He admired her courage in doing so. "You may want to go visit that imposter wife of yours. I've been picking up on some interesting things going on in the discussion between her and your kids."
Luke had joined them too. Traitor. Momentarily abandoning his quest to re-marry Padmé, he took a moment to study Mara through the Force. She had a strong Force signature but it contained the distinct wild elements of an untrained Force-sensitive.
"So when I asked you if you were a Jedi you lied," he said wishing oh-so-much he could grip Stevie at this moment to show his clear Jedi superiority. "I can tell you're not trained."
"It was the truth from a certain point of view," Mara replied, working the controls to change it from autopilot to manual control. She was sneaky enough to be a Jedi.
"Why weren't you trained?" he asked curiously.
"Too old," she replied, clearly dissatisfied with the question. He didn't have time for more questions. And then Anakin Skywalker did something he would probably regret for a long time to come.
"I'd like to train you," he blurted out, startling both himself and Mara.
He caught a glimpse of both Good Anakin and Bad Anakin in a state of shock and an evil grin on Bad Anakin's imaginary face.
In theory it sounded like a good idea. Sort of.
Mara turned around slightly and he felt her seriously considering the offer. She looked at him and Anakin saw a hint of hope in her eyes. He fully expected a vicious retort but instead she said, "I'll think about it."
Trying to ignore the conflicting feelings of whether he had done something extremely noble or extremely stupid Anakin braced himself. It was time to face Padmé.
Anakin knew he was being discussed. He didn't use his Force-abilities but rather blatantly heard his name being tossed around. They must have momentarily forgotten he was the boss of the Skywalker family because they were certainly not saying very nice things. He forcefully opened the door and saw the "bantha in speederlights" look on Luke and Leia's faces. To her credit, Padmé only looked mildly irritated. Anakin maintained his "Daddy's just come home and isn't happy" stance. He tried to ignore the nervousness in his stomach. This is what being a married man—or a fake married man—did to a Jedi. He could take on a Sith Lord and decapitate him but when it came to matters of the heart he was reduced to a nervous boy blabbering about sand all over again.
"Children, your mother and I need to talk," he said. Leia had the nerve to glare at him as she squeezed her mother's hand and left the room. Luke gave a quick pat on the shoulder. Good luck. When the door hissed behind him Anakin fought the urge to gulp loudly. He was well and truly alone. At the moment he'd rather be locked in a dungeon with a Rancor than face the wrath of the Chancellor.
"Hello Padmé," he said.
Silence. Silence was better than yelling.
"Hello Anakin," Padmé finally sighed. Anakin walked over to her slowly, making sure not to make any quick or sudden movements. Obi-Wan had trained him well when it came to approaching wild beasts.
"I'm sorry," he said quickly, sitting next to her on the bunk. He waited for the onslaught but it never came. The moment had come. Padmé was finally going to leave him. He would be the laughing stock of the entire galaxy. He could just see it now, Anakin Skywalker DUMPED. Padmé would finally be free and he would be alone and miserable with only Obi-Wan and Stevie to keep him company. He would be a single father. How would he cope with his children without her?
Then something unexpected happened.
"Anakin, do you still want to be married to me?"
Anakin suspected this was one of those trick female questions in which any answer, no matter how flattering, would still be interpreted as derogatory in some form. He would have to use all his strength to not get caught in the trap.
"Yes," he answered confidently, hoping there was no way she could misinterpret that.
"You're not just saying that because you think that's what I want to hear? Or because that's what is easy?" she continued.
He knew it was too much to ask for—crazy Padmé had returned with a vengeance.
"No Padmé, I really still want to be married to you. You have been my wife for twenty years and it's worked out okay."
"Ask me again," she said softly, looking at him. That was all the inspiration Anakin needed.
Gallantly, he got down on one knee. Instead of sprouting various romantic crap, like he had as a young boy, he simply kissed the back of her hand and removed the ring that already sat on her finger.
"Padmé, will you marry me?"
Ever the arrogant Jedi, he didn't even wait for her answer before unceremoniously shoving the ring back onto her finger and leaning up for a kiss that would have made his children vomit.
Things were going to be okay.
After convincing their kids that they kids should in no way feel obliged to accompany their parents back to Naboo, they organised for a Holy Man to meet them on the balcony overlooking the lake. Anakin had insisted he help Padmé "take care of things" and was pleasantly surprised when she did not cause a scene.
Her old wedding dress did not fit her so he had hidden it so it would not depress her. After twenty years of marriage, he knew enough to keep his own head above water. He spent his hard earned (won during Sabacc) credits on an even better dress for her. Anakin himself felt like a boy of nineteen again and flexed his bionic arm. The last time his arm was made of cold metal and had looked skeletal. Now it looked like a normal arm with the added bonus of vibrating features.
He took her hand as they looked out at the sunset. "I have a surprise for you," Padmé said squeezing his bionic hand. He felt a momentary flash of panic. Not again...it wasn't possible.
"You're not..." he asked, barely able to get the words out. Pregnant? He was going to faint.
"No," she replied and then he realised he had started breathing again. He was much too old to be a father again. "I will be making the announcement next week in the Senate. I am officially retiring from politics."
Retirement from politics did not just mean that Padmé would be able to take holidays whenever she felt like it. It also meant that Anakin would not have to go to various boring diplomatic affairs, pretend to enjoy arrogant Senators' company or dance with ugly slug-like aliens. It also meant Padmé would have lots of free time on her hands for previously restricted adult activities.
"Since you nobly offered to train our son's girlfriend," Padmé started, reminding Anakin of his temporary moment of insanity. "Perhaps we should stay on Coruscant for a while? Han and Leia will be there and Luke is often at the Jedi Temple too."
Anakin sighed as he kissed his wife against the Varykino backdrop. He felt the weight of Stevie on his belt and sighed in contentment.
Everything was just as it should be.
For the time being.