Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars.
AN: Here's chapter 5! Thanks for all the amazing feedback! Hope you enjoy this latest installment. Let me know what you think:)
Whispers of the Past
Anakin watched her from bed, where his tall frame was stretched out in a relaxed state. She sat at her vanity, slowly brushing out her long curls. He let his eyes roam over her exquisite shoulders and along her petite form, which was covered by a black, silky nightgown. She set her brush down and gazed over to him.
"Come here angel," Anakin said, sensing her emotional turmoil from which she needed rescued. Padme climbed into bed and welcomed his strong embrace. She cuddled against his bare chest and breathed in his familiar, intoxicating scent that could only be described as a spicy musk that she always found sexy. Just his scent turned her on in an amazing way. She loved when they were at the lake retreat together. There was no Senate or Council meetings. There were no colleagues seeking meetings with her or support from her on one of their bills. There were no missions for him to go on or no patrols for him to run. And most of all, there was no Holonet, intruding into their lives on a daily basis, like on Coruscant. She couldn't walk past a publication stand in the market without seeing herself and Anakin plastered all over one or more of the gossip publications, filled with interviews they didn't give, quotes they didn't say, and pictures they didn't take. She didn't understand their perverse fascination with them. They had a beautiful love story. Why must they taint it with their garbage? What would they do if they found out about her real father? They would certainly have a field day.
"You know you can't listen to what they say. I've been pretty close to storming into their corporate offices before, especially after they ran that absurd story about you having an affair with Malachai a few years ago. If they push too hard, I won't back down," he said, stroking her hair.
"The Council wouldn't approve of such behavior," she teased, as she traced the lines of definition on his chest. He smirked.
"Since when do I behave? I think they're used to it by now. Besides, grandfather has been close a few times too after they've run one of their supposedly scandalous stories about one or both of us. You know how protective he gets," Anakin said.
"I love how you would do anything to protect me, but you know you'll only fuel their fire if you go in there and smash up the place," she replied.
"Who said anything about smashing up the place?" he asked innocently. She looked up at him with a raised eyebrow.
"The Council takes bets on how much property damage there will be when you go on a mission...or on patrol," Padme said. Anakin looked at in her in mock offense, before they collapsed into giggles.
"Yeah, I know. I always hear about it from the ones that lose," he replied.
"And I suppose you're right. They would only eat it up if I went storming in there like a Sith Lord or something. I guess they're going to say whatever they want," he said.
"Yes, they will. Fortunately, most citizens know better than to believe what they read in the gossip rags," she replied.
"I hope so. Some of the stuff they print is just ludicrous," Anakin said.
"Good thing we know the truth," she replied, smiling up at him. He smiled back and leaned in for a tender kiss.
"I invited my...father to have breakfast with us. I hope that's okay," she said.
"Angel, you don't have to okay it with me. He's your father, despite his shady past. As long as he never hurts you, then I will accept him as a part of our lives now," Anakin replied.
"I love you," Padme replied, moved by his understanding.
"I want you to be happy, angel. That's all that really matters to me. I love you. I'd move heaven and hell for you if it had to. I'll protect you with every last breath in my body. You and our children are everything to me," he said, as he caressed her face, as they lay face to face, chest to chest. She leaned in and pressed her lips to his. He responded in an instant, taking her petite form in his arms and kissing her deeply. He kissed her cheek and down the nape of her neck.
"Ani..." she cooed, as he rolled her onto her back, while sensually feasting on her neck and shoulder. Her fingers became lost in his sandy curls. Their hearts pounded and their breathing was reduced to ragged, impassioned gasps, as the searing passion between them surfaced full force. Anakin raised his hand and reaching into the Force, killed the light from the lamp, as they became swallowed whole by their undying love and hot passion between them...
Riley look out the window, over the lake, as he buttoned his shirt the next morning. Jobal sat quietly at the vanity, brushing her long hair. He saw the ferry dock and saw an aged couple step off with Anakin's older brother leading them toward the house.
"Hey Jo, is Padme expecting company?" Riley called. Jobal stepped to the window and her heart sank. It was Yan and Elana. Obi-Wan had gone to get them in Theed and probably had explained all that had transpired. Oh Force, what would they think of her? She already knew Qui-Gon and Shmi were wrestling with some ill feelings toward her. Yan and Elana would certainly have words for her.
"That's Yan and Elana Dooku, Anakin's grandparents," Jobal said.
"Dooku? As in Count Dooku?" Riley asked.
"Yes," Jobal replied.
"Uh oh," Riley dreaded.
"What do you mean, 'uh oh'? Jobal asked
"Well, I sort of had a run in with the Count back when I was a rookie. I killed a couple of his comrades when they tried to bust me for smuggling," Riley said.
"Great, just great," Jobal grumbled.
"You ain't without dirt on your hands, sweetheart," Riley snapped.
"Yan is extremely protective of his family...including Padme. He will be none too happy with either of us," Jobal replied.
"Let the sparks fly then, baby, cause whether he likes it or not, Padme's my blood," Riley stated. Jobal frowned. This wasn't going to go well at all...
Qui-Gon watched his wife get ready for the day. She had been very quiet since last night and he had left her to her thoughts. But now, he decided it would be good for her to talk. As she struggled with the zipper at the back of her dress, he came to her rescue and zipped her up. She smiled slightly.
"Thank you sweetheart," Shmi said.
"You're welcome, darling. Now...why don't you tell me what is bothering you," he suggested. Shmi sighed deeply.
"How could she do this to her, Qui? What did Padme ever do to deserve the hell that Jobal has put her through? She was bold enough to cheat on Ruwee, but not to leave him?" Shmi fretted.
"I don't know my love. I wish I could understand her actions too, but I can't," Qui-Gon replied.
"What kind of mother stands there and watches her child be abused! What kind of mother convinces herself that a beautiful little child deserves what she's getting for reasons beyond her control!" Shmi cried, as Qui-Gon held her in his arms. Padme's abuse at Ruwee's and indirectly at Jobal's hand affected Shmi far more than most knew. She had been on the receiving end of one too many beatings when she was a slave, particularly when she had been in Gardulla's captivity.
"What kind of mother lets her child take the abuse, just so she herself does not have to bare it? If it were Ani...I would take a thousand beatings if it meant...protecting him from harm," Shmi cried.
"That's because you are a courageous woman, my love. And as for Padme, she is our daughter, blood or not, and she will always be able to count on us," Qui-Gon replied.
"What are you able to read from this Riley Zander?" she asked.
"Nothing I'm afraid. He's very good at shielding his thoughts and feelings from Jedi. That makes him formidable, but his actions suggest that he is interested in getting to know Padme," Qui-Gon replied.
"He better not hurt her," Shmi said. Qui-Gon smiled.
"He would be foolish to do so. Our son won't stand for it. He's very courageous, like his mother," Qui-Gon replied. Shmi smiled.
"And his father," Shmi replied, as their lips met in a tender kiss...
Padme giggled, as Anakin fed her a piece of Shurra fruit, as they sat at the large table on the veranda with their five children.
"Well, good morning," Riley said, as he and Jobal approached.
"Good morning," Padme greeted politely.
"How are you sweetheart?" Jobal asked her daughter.
"I'm fine, mother," Padme regarded her cooly.
"Hey mister, why do you wear that eyepatch?" Luke asked.
"Luke, that's not polite," Padme chided.
"It's okay sweetness. I got it in a fight with a bad man and he got a good hit on me. This eye don't work anymore, but I put up a heck of fight," Riley said.
"Mr. Riley, are you a friend of Grandma Jobal's?" Leia asked. Riley looked to Padme.
"Actually sweetheart...Mr. Riley is mommy's...father," Padme explained.
"But mommy, you said your daddy was bad," Jayden said. Padme ruffled his sandy brown hair.
"That man was my step-father. Mr. Riley is mommy's real dad," Padme tried to explain.
"So, he's our grandpa too?" Luke asked.
"Sure am, squirt," Riley answered.
"How come we haven't see you before?" Leia asked suspiciously. Riley smiled at the miniature copy of his daughter.
"Yur a smart one, you are, like your mother," Riley told her. Padme squeezed Leia's little hand affectionately.
"Because he didn't know about me until now," Padme said.
"But now that I do, I'm gonna be around a lot more now," Riley said.
"But Grandma Jobal, why didn't Grandpa Riley know about mommy?" Leia asked. Padme reserved an icy gaze for her mother.
"I...I should go help Shmi with breakfast," Joba said, as she stood.
"No need," Shmi said, as she and Qui-Gon set some steaming bowls on the table, followed by Sola and Obi-Wan, also carrying food. Ryoo and Pooja hopped up to the table, next to their cousins. Finally, Yan and Elana exited the house and Leia forgot her question.
"Great Grandpa! Great Grandma!" she called, as she and Luke ran up to them. Yan and Elana scooped the twins up. After hugs and kisses, they scampered back to their chairs.
"Well, long time no see, Mr. Zander," Dooku said cooly. The color visibly drained from Padme's face.
"You...know him, Grandfather?" she asked.
"We met years ago, sweetheart. I was very surprised to hear all that had transpired in our absence. But I believe we can talk more after breakfast," Dooku said, as he and Elana sat down. They put conversation aside for the moment and focused on filling their empty stomachs for the time being.
After breakfast was finished, Threepio cleared the table and went to work in the kitchen, washing dishes. The children went off to play in the yard below the veranda, where they were plenty visible for the adults to watch.
"Grandfather...may I ask how you know my...real father?" Padme said. She was still slightly pale, because she knew she wasn't going to like what he had to say.
"It's in the past darling and I don't wish to upset you about something, which you had no control over," Yan replied.
"I need to know," she said.
"The Count and I had an encounter years ago and I'm afraid I killed a few Jedi when I resisted arrest," Riley admitted.
"No..." Padme fretted, as she put a hand to her mouth. Anakin put his arms around her shoulders, gently hugging her.
"I'm sorry sweetness, I really am. I've done a lot of things I ain't proud of. In fact, I think you're about the only thing I have to be proud of," Riley said.
"Stop trying to play the hero to her, because we all know you're anything but," Jobal snapped.
"Well, at least I'm honest! At least I don't lie my way through life! And I sure as hell never would have raised my hand to her or let anyone else!" Riley spat back.
"Stop throwing that in my face!" Jobal yelled back.
"I ain't never gonna stop throwin' it in your face! I had a dad a lot like that scum you were married to. He used his fists to express his anger too and then ran out on us. I had to steal to feed my siblings and my mom when she fell ill. I got real good at it too. So good in fact, that it got my whole family killed. Blood is important to me, you know. Then I find out I had blood all these years and didn't even know, cause you never got the courage up to tell me!" Riley yelled.
"I did what I thought was best!" Jobal cried.
"What you thought was best?!" Shmi interjected.
"I'm not strong like Padme. I couldn't leave him. I had no money or no other way to take care of the girls," Jobal cried.
"That's not true and you know it! Grandma wanted us to come live with her! But you wouldn't leave him. You just let him keep abusing me every chance he got," Padme cried, as tears started streaming down her cheeks, as Anakin held her.
"It hurt so bad mom...it hurt so bad. I begged and pleaded with you to help me, but you wouldn't! So...I helped myself! I ran away to Grandma...yet that monster still managed to get me through Palo. I hope he burns in Sith hell and you along with him!" Padme screamed, as she stormed inside the house.
"Padme...Padme wait!" Jobal called after her. Anakin started after her, when Riley stopped him.
"Please...can I?" he asked. Anakin was very reluctant, but he sensed nothing but concern from Riley. Silently, he nodded and watched the bounty hunter retreat inside the house.
"You were bold enough to have an affair, but not to leave that man. Such a thing does not even make sense, Jobal. I think you chose not to leave Ruwee, because you really wanted Padme to suffer," Shmi said, glaring at her.
"That's not true!" Jobal yelled back.
"Then why...why didn't you protect her? You had so many ways you could have protected her, yet you chose to stand there and let her receive brutal beatings! She was a child!" Shmi screamed.
"Because I thought I loved Ruwee! Because I thought I truly loved him, despite his evil ways! I was blinded by that and forced myself to believe things I knew were wrong. I have to live with my decisions for the rest of my life and I will never, EVER, forgive myself. You may hate me all you like, but no one hates me more than myself," Jobal said, as she stormed off.
"Anakin...I'm sorry if I upset Padme," Yan said.
"It's all right, Grandfather. This would all be different if Jobal had told her the truth in the first place. I can't say that I trust Zander yet, but I think he does care for Padme and that's a good sign," Anakin said.
"He may care for Padme and he may even grow to love her. But he cannot be trusted. He's dealt with people like Jango, the De'reux's, and has even taken jobs for the Hutts. I fear what may happen if his colleagues find out who his daughter happens to be," Dooku said.
"I'll talk to him myself and make sure he knows he can't broadcast it to others, unless he wants to put Padme in danger. He may be her father, but I won't let any harm come to her, unintentional or not," Anakin stated.
Riley walked into the large sitting room and spotted his daughter curled up in the bay window, clutching a pillow to her chest, and gazing out over the lake. Padme spotted him and started wiping her tears away.
"You gonna be okay, sweetness?" he asked.
"I'm fine," she lied, as she sniffed.
"I know this has to be hard for you. I've done a lot of things I ain't proud of and I know you're never gonna approve of that part of my life," Riley said.
"Did you really kill Jedi?" she asked. He nodded.
"Yeah, I did. Out there, you do what you have to do to survive," he stated.
"Did you ever kill any padawans?" she asked.
"No...I didn't kill any kids. I don't kill, unless I have to. I...I've injured more than I've killed, let's put it that way," Riley said, pausing for a moment.
"All I'm askin' for is a chance, baby girl. Let me see what kind of father I can be. Your mother took that from me...from both of us, and I want that chance," Riley pleaded. Padme stood up and faced him.
"I can't ask you to change who you are, but you can't hurt or kill anymore Jedi or innocents. They're my family. My children will be Jedi as well," she said.
"Hey, I ain't never gonna hurt you or those babies," he said. Padme nodded and timidly let him pull her into a hug.
"You sure grow on a person in a hurry, baby girl," he said, smiling at her, as he pulled back from the hug.
"You're beautiful, especially when you smile," he said, as he watched her smile shyly.
"I...I have holos from when I was little, if you want to see them," Padme said.
"You bet I do," he replied. Padme pulled an album out from a desk drawer and sat down on the sofa next to her father. She opened the book and Riley saw her baby picture.
"Wow...look at you. No wonder you grew up to be so beautiful," he said. Padme flipped to the next page, revealing a blonde haired baby boy.
"Oh, this is Ani's baby picture. Shmi and I did this book together a few years ago," Padme said.
"You spend a lot of time with Anakin's mom, don't you?" he asked.
"I'm closer to Shmi than I am to mom," Padme replied.
"Your mother's got herself to blame for that. Don't you feel guilty," Riley said, as he flipped through the book.
"What about you? Did you or I guess do you...love mom?" she asked. Riley looked at her and smiled slightly.
"I'm not really sure how I feel about your mom, sweetness. Right now, I'm pretty angry with her. But we have a beautiful daughter together. She'll always be connected to me," Riley said, as he came to her wedding holo.
"Wow...look at how beautiful you looked," he said, as he flipped to the family holo at the reception. He noticed Jobal's absence.
"Where's your mom?" he asked.
"She wasn't there. Ruwee didn't approve of my marriage to Anakin and forbid mother to go. They were both angry with me when Sola left Darred not too long before my wedding. They blamed my bad influence," Padme said.
"Man...if I had known, I'd given anything to be there to walk you down the aisle," he told her. She smiled.
"I know," Padme replied, as they continued looking through the album at her children's holos. They finished the book and Padme put it away.
"I'm going to go check on the kids," she said.
"Okay, we can talk more later, baby girl," he said, as he watched her leave. When she was gone, he stalked off to find Jobal.
Padme watched her husband run around in the yard, playing with their children. To see them having fun and hearing their laughter brought a smile to her face.
"Sweetheart, are you okay?" Shmi asked. Padme smiled.
"I'm fine mom," Padme replied. Shmi smiled and hugged her.
"Well, if you're sure. But you know that we're always here if you need to talk," Shmi said.
"Thanks," Padme sniffed, as she hugged both Qui-Gon and Yan, as well as Elana.
"I think I just need to go spend time with Ani and the children," Padme replied.
"Then that's what you should do, baby sis. Come on, I'll walk down with you. Ben and the girls are headed down already," Sola said, as she put her arm around her little sister's shoulders and went down together.
Riley waltzed into Jobal's bedroom and she glared at him, as she looked back from the window.
"Go away," she spat, as she wiped fresh tears from her cheeks. She continued to watched her daughters from afar, as they spent time with their husband's and children in the yard.
"You only got yourself to blame, Jo," he said.
"Don't you think I know that!" she snapped.
"Then stop playing the victim! Padme's the real victim, but she's trying her best to make the best of this situation," Riley said.
"Well, we both know that Padme is much stronger than I am. But it also helps that she has so much love and support. You, however, can stop playing the hero anytime, because we both know that you're the farthest thing from it!" Jobal spat. Riley smirked confidently.
"Padme's already warming up to me. You took away my chance to prove I could be a good father, but she's gonna give me that chance. As for you, well, let's just say she feels closer to Anakin's mom than she does to you. You've only got yourself to blame for that," Riley replied.
"I know! Stop throwing it in my face every chance you get!" Jobal yelled.
"I would, except I keep hearing things that piss me off! You didn't even go to her wedding, Jo!" Riley yelled back.
"Somebody else got to walk my baby girl down the aisle! That was my job, Jo, and you stole that. You and that Sith bastard you called a husband!" he screamed.
"You would have wanted nothing to do with a baby! You are plenty good at shirking responsibility!" she argued.
"Okay, I admit that. But I would have sucked it up if it meant preventing her from being raised by that filth you married!" Riley roared.
"It's been two days since you found out she was yours and suddenly, you're so attached. I don't buy it," Jobal said crossly.
"Yeah, I barely know her yet. But there's something about her. She's special. Hard to believe she came from us, though she's more like me than you," Riley boasted. Jobal was silent.
"That's why you let her be punished, wasn't it? She was everything that you're not...and you were jealous," Riley said.
"I was not jealous of my own daughter," Jobal refuted.
"Yes you were and you still are. You let Ruwee put her in her place. I'm glad the bastard is dead," Riley spat.
"He's not dead yet," Jobal replied.
"Oh yes, he is," Riley replied. Jobal gasped, as she saw the satisfied smirk on his face.
"You...you killed him?" she exclaimed.
"You damn straight I did; enjoyed it too. I killed that sleamo for hurting my blood. And that little bastard that raped her is lucky he's already dead or I would have cut him up into such tiny pieces that they'd never be able to tell who or what he was. I made sure your ex-husband suffered in agony, before I sent him to burn in Sith hell. Justice for Padme was served and it was for you too," he said, as he caressed her cheek.
"Did you tell Padme what you did?" she asked.
"Not yet. Didn't really feel like bringing him up to her. But one thing's certain. He'll never lay another filthy finger on her," Riley replied.
"He deserved what he got, but won't they come after you for murder?" Jobal asked.
"Baby, I just freed some cell space up for them. They don't give a damn about that rotten bastard. They'll say he died in his sleep or that he was killed by another prisoner. It happens all the time. Only you and I have to know the truth," Riley said.
"I hope he burns in hell," Jobal spat. Riley smirked and found his lips drawn to the skin on her neck, as she gazed out the window. Jobal closed her eyes and felt her knees weaken.
"I thought you were bent on hating me," she whispered.
"You ain't off the hook. But I'll always care for you, unlike any woman I've ever been with," Riley said, as she turned in his embrace.
"Is that all you feel for me? You care for me, because I am the mother of your child?" she asked.
"You know it ain't just that. I wanted to take you with me all those years ago, but you refused and went back to him," Riley replied. Tears slipped down her cheeks.
"And that was a huge mistake. Because I loved you...and I still do," she confessed.
"I'm sorry...I'm so sorry for hiding Padme from you," she sobbed, breaking down in his arms. He gently rocked her.
"I would have been a good daddy to her," he said.
"I know and you still can be. Stay with me. Stay with us," Jobal pleaded. He sighed.
"I need some time, Jo. Time to process all of this. Time to work through my anger with you, cause it ain't gonna disappear overnight. I lost twenty-nine years with my baby girl that I ain't ever gonna get back," Riley said in exasperation.
"Then I'll wait for you," Jobal said.
"I want you. I've always wanted you," she said.
"You gotta take what I can give. You gotta give me time, Jo. This commitment thing is new to me," he said.
"I'm in no position to make demands. I don't deserve anything good after all the things I've done. I'll take what you can give me," she said.
"You really want this to work, don't you?" he asked.
"I don't want to be alone anymore. I haven't felt so alive or loved like I did last night since we were together thirty years ago. And Padme deserves two parents that love each other. I couldn't give that to Sola, but maybe I can still give that to Padme," she said.
"Suppose you expect me to be faithful," he said, with a smirk.
"Like I mentioned before, I deserve no consideration at all. But I think if you let me, I can see to it that you need not look elsewhere for the affections of a woman," Jobal replied, as she held his face in her hands. He smirked.
"I bet you can," he replied, as she pressed her lips to his. He responded eagerly to her advances...
Yan walked out of the house and onto the porch, before sitting down at the patio table. His wife poured him a cup of tea and he smiled at her.
"Thank you darling," he said, as he sipped at the soothing, hot liquid.
"You seemed troubled, father," Qui-Gon mentioned.
"Oh, not troubled really. I just received news from one of my contacts," he replied.
"What is it?" Elana asked.
"Ruwee Naberrie is dead," he announced. They were all silent for a moment.
"How did he die?" Shmi asked. Her voice was neutral, but they knew she was trying to hide her relief.
"They said his disease ran its course and he suffocated to death when both his lungs collapsed two nights ago. They cremated him this morning, since they figured no one would be interested in giving him a funeral," Yan sighed.
"I know it's not the Jedi way, but I can't help but be glad that he's dead," Yan said.
"We are fully within our right to feel that way, love. He was a monster and knowing that he will never hurt Padme or Sola again brings me nothing but joy," Elana said.
"I have to agree with mom," Qui-Gon said.
"He's getting exactly what he deserves now," Shmi agreed.
"Should we tell Jobal and the girls?" Elana wondered.
"We can later...but not now. We'll let them be," Yan decided. They agreed and we're content to watch their precious children and grandchildren play in the yard.
Padme laughed, as her husband twirled her around. She pressed her lips against his and wrapped her arms around his neck. Her feet dangled off the ground, as he held her up, kissing her passionately. Their children played on the nearby jungle gym with their cousins. Sola and Obi-Wan were watching them from the porch now, with Anakin's parents and grandparents. He smiled at her, as she set her down on her feet.
"Are you okay?" he asked. She tilted her head to the side. He laughed.
"I know...I know, I've asked you that twice now, but I can't help it. You've been through so much and you know I don't like it when you're not happy," he said. She smiled.
"Actually, you've asked me four times to be exact, my love. And you know that I'm always happy when I'm with you. You make me feel so loved. I can get through anything, as long as you're by my side," Padme replied, pecking him on the lips.
"I'll never be anywhere else, sweet angel," he replied. She smiled and took his hand, before leading him to the large tree on the side of the house, near the children's jungle gym. She sat on the wooden tree swing that he had built for her last year for Lover's Day. She remembered vividly when he had presented it to her. She had felt giddy, like a little girl again, as he pushed her on the swing. It was one of the simple things she had been denied as a child. She found herself wondering again how her life might have been if her real father had raised her. But she knew it was no use in trying to imagine how things could have or might have been. The important thing remained. She had her loving husband and their beautiful children and she always would. Her real father would now be a part of her life. Their loving, extended family would also be there to love and support her, as would her sister and brother-in-law. As for her mother, Padme wasn't sure what would come of that relationship. She was still very angry with Jobal and she wasn't ready to forgive her. She didn't know if she would ever truly forgive her for everything she had done and truthfully, she didn't want to think about it right now. She sat down on her swing and her husband gently pushed her, as they watched their children play.
"I love you Ani," she said. He caught her, as she swung back toward him.
"I love you too star nymph and I will forever," he promised, as he kissed her passionately. He then went back to pushing her on the swing, as the daytime sunlight warmed them.
Riley set his satchel down, as he prepared to board his ship. Anakin, Padme, and Jobal had made the journey with him to Jarbesha, the small town in the northern hemisphere where he had landed upon his arrival on Naboo. It was about a three hour jaunt from Theed.
"Are you sure you won't stay longer?" Jobal asked.
"I've got a few things to take care of, but I'll be droppin' by Coruscant a lot more now," he said. Jobal hugged him.
"Then be safe and stay out of trouble," she said.
"I'll try...but no guarantees," he replied, as he moved to Padme.
"Well sweetness, I guess this is goodbye for now," he said.
"You'll visit, won't you?" she asked. He smiled.
"Now that I know that I have the most wonderful, beautiful daughter in the galaxy, there ain't nothin' that'll keep me away," Riley replied, as he hugged her. He moved to Anakin and held his hand out.
"You're a good man, Skywalker. I can rest easy, knowing my baby girl is well taken care of," he said. Anakin shook his hand.
"I love her and I'll protect her with my life, always," Anakin replied. Riley smirked.
"I know. I can rest easy, knowin' she's safe and loved," Riley said.
"Then you'll be sure not to tell any of your friends or associates about her. If they knew..." Anakin said, as Riley held his hand up.
"You don't have to worry. I ain't gonna let any of them know who she is or that I even have a daughter. I know what kind of people I associate with and I would never put her in that kind of danger," Riley replied. Anakin nodded.
"Then we'll get along fine, since it seems Padme's safety and happiness are what matters most to both of us," Anakin replied. Riley nodded, as he hugged Padme again.
"Goodbye...dad," she said. He smiled.
"It's only goodbye for a little while, baby girl. I'll be back," he said, as he tossed Jobal a final gaze, before trekking up the ramp of his ship. They watched, as the ship lifted off the ground and then soured into the air.
"Will you ever forgive me, Padme?" Jobal asked, as she watched the ship disappear.
"Every time you ask me that, all I can think about is how you used to stand barely three feet from me while Ruwee was whipping me. And then I think about my real father and what it might have been like to be raised by him. He may be a scoundrel, but he has a good heart and at least I know he would have never laid a hand on me the way Ruwee did, nor would he have ever let a man like Palo within ten feet of me. We cannot changed the past though and I must learn to accept it, before I can move on. But I'm not ready to forgive you, mother. I...I just can't right now. The fact that Ruwee is dead brings me some comfort, but you are the reason he was allowed to do those things to me. You could have stopped him...you could have stopped everything. I'm a mother myself and I would never do the deplorable things you've done to my own children," Padme said.
"You're right, you would never do the things I did. You are so much better than me, sweetheart. I know it may be years before you can forgive me or that you may never forgive me, but know that, in my own way, I love you deeply. And I love your father...I always have. If I could go back and change things, I would. But I can't and I must live with my mistakes for the rest of my life. If you ever find it in your heart to forgive me, then I will be eternally overjoyed. But know, that I shall never forgive myself as long as I live," Jobal said. Padme's eyes were filled with tears now and she turned to her husband.
"Take me home, Ani," she requested. He nodded and took her in his arms, as he led her back to the speeder. Jobal was silent, as she got into the backseat, behind her daughter. Padme sat in the passenger's seat, her hand clasped with Anakin's own free hand, as he flew their speeder into the air, heading back in the direction of Theed...
Thanks for reading everyone! I hope you all enjoyed this latest vignette. I will try to have the next one up soon. :) As always, please review and let me know what you think.