My version of Anakin's feelings as he lay dying and what happened to him in the afterlife...
The Swan Song
Darth Vader was lying against a bridge railing, tried, unable to keep going. His duel with his own son was too much for him, and once again, he had lost his right hand. Three times he had lost it, always being replaced by another one. Robotic limbs, that was all that was left of him. Over the course of the years, every day, he felt less human. His power over the Force has been reduced considerably thanks to the flames of Mustafar. He could hear his own hard breathing, a sound that was reason of terror all over the galaxy, and now he felt terror of it as well, his own breathing.
The Emperor had risen from his throne to stand on the stairway behind Luke and Darth Vader. There was a sinister smile on his deformed face, a smile quite disturbing. "Good! Your hate has made you powerful. Now, fulfill your destiny and take your father's place at my side."
The fallen Sith Lord looked up, his face, hidden beneath the feared mask, had an expression of despair. An expression he hadn't had in a long time. In the last nineteen years his face was less and less expressive, not only because it was underneath a mask, but because every day his hate consumed him more and more, turning his face into stone. The despair he felt right now was the manifestation of a fear he had had for a while now, ever since he found about Luke. I should have known…ever since he found out about my son, he wanted to replace me all along…
Vader lifted his sight and saw Luke look at his own hand, reflecting. Vader took away his son's hand, just like Luke had just taken away his, for the third time. For a moment, through the red lens of his helmet, Vader could see some remorse in his son's eyes. Luke had an expression of disappointment of himself, and yet, of some hidden strength inside his heart. He's not going to turn to the Dark Side; he's strong, unlike me…
Luke turned to the Emperor with an expression that showed defiance and rebellion, an expression that showed determination and hope. "I'll never turn to the Dark Side. You've failed, Your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me."
Palpatine looked at Luke with disgust, and Vader knew it was because he had heard that type of replies in the past. Darth Vader had seen that kind of expression of disgust when he fought Mace Windu in the penthouse of the back then Chancellor. Somehow, Vader was glad that Luke chose to stay in the Light Side, for he knew that Palpatine would never see Luke more than a weapon, a killer to do his biddings. My Master never cared about anyone but himself, he even let Anakin Skywalker kill Dooku, and he killed his own master, Darth Plagueis. He just ordered my son to strike me down. I realize I can be easily replaced…
"So be it... Jedi. If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed.", said Palpatine with poison in his voice, hate and disgust. He lifted his hands and let out the powerful Sith Lightning, bolts of blue electricity that represented the twisted power of the Dark Side. Vader knew it was a powerful technique, one that would have given him amazing power, but due to his mechanic body he was unable to summon it. Just once he did it, and it was actually in the presence of his son, with the aid of the Kaiburr Crystal, a catalyst of the Force.
Luke gasped in pain and was launched against the railing, the Sith Lightning slowly drowning his energy. While Luke struggled against the lightning, Vader weakly stood up and walked by the side of his master, wondering why he is doing it, after all, Palpatine just ordered his son to kill him in order to gain Luke as an apprentice. And yet, like a dog, after all he has done to him, Vader was still faithful to his master. Why?
"Young fool. Only now, at the end, do you understand.", said Palpatine with that twisted tone of voice as he let out another bolt of Sith Lightning. Luke gasped again and convulsed, grunts of pain coming from his throat. Vader watched and he felt confused, sacred, he did not know what to do. I'm bound to my master; there is nothing I can do.
Palpatine stepped closer to the boy and continued his torture. With every bolt expelled, Vader could feel the satisfaction of the Emperor, how he enjoyed to show how powerful he is. Luke looked helpless, confused by that display of unknown power. He truly does not know the powers of the Dark Side.
"Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side!", exclaimed Palpatine and Vader felt like if the Emperor had just read his mind. Another bolt. Another gasp of pain. "You have paid the price for your lack of vision!"
Luke gasped in pain, and Vader could see the eyes of the boy water in pain. He was in agony, at the verge of a tragic death, a death no one deserved, to be crushed like a worthless insect. But I've crushed many people like insects, I saw them worthless, why should I feel like this towards this boy?
"Father, please! Help me!", screamed Luke in pain as the bolts continued to consume him. Vader watched him with pain, a pain he had not felt in a long time, an emotional pain that came out from seeing the loved ones suffer. Luke had just called me father, that word, its meaning. He's going to die, no…not like this…please…
"Anakin, help him!"
Vader's eyes got wide open, even if the screams of Luke and the sounds of lightning reigned over the Thorne Room, Vader could hear that voice that spoke to him. But who? There was no one there but the evil Emperor, the dying boy and himself. The dying boy, my son…
"Anakin, please, help him."
The Dark Lord of the Sith once again heard that voice. A voice that he had not heard in a long time, a voice that was asking to help his son who was screaming at the top of his voice, crying for mercy and for help. A son that need his help to survive and not only that, a son that had just awakened a side of him that has been dormant for so long.
Luke continued screaming, and barely audible was the laugh of pleasure of the Emperor. Luke convulsed, screamed, cried like a young boy that need help. That boy was his son, Luke Skywalker, and that boy was his only chance of salvation. After years of serving evil, Darth Vader was beginning to feel like a human again.
"Father…", begged Luke and Vader glanced at the Emperor and then to Luke, feeling confused, feeling lost. He turned to the boy, then to the lord, then to the boy, then to the lord.
Not just my son…
"Anakin, please, help him!"
"Now, young Skywalker... you will die.", said Palpatine and laughed, then expelled more blue evil lightning. Luke screamed and completely fell to the floor, curling in fetal position, waiting for the imminent end that was coming soon. Vader looked at the Emperor, then to Luke. One dying and the other laughing.
"Anakin, help him, he's your son!"
But Padmé's son as well…a son who loves me…
Then, it hit. Vader realized that the one person dying in front of him was a person who truly loved him. The Sith Lord felt something he had not felt in a long time, compassion, love, self-sacrifice. His heart, for nineteen years mechanized, was human again. In that second, after nineteen years of self-hatred and evil actions, the man behind the mask had resurfaced.
In that second, Darth Vader died, and Anakin Skywalker had returned.
Without another second of hesitating, Anakin grabbed the Emperor with his left hand and used his right arm for support. Palpatine screamed at the sudden and unexpected movement, and kept unleashing his Sith Lightning. Luke was free at last but the Lightning now damaged Anakin's life-support system and shocked what was left of his organic body. The pain was unbearable, but Anakin knew it was the only way to save the galaxy, to save the rebels and to save his children.
Anakin launched Emperor Palpatine down the elevator shaft, and the latter screamed as he fell kilometers down to oblivion, and then exploded into dark energy. Anakin collapsed but held himself in the railing, his breathing sounding far more damaged. His body ached all over, but his heart was in peace.
Luke took his father in an embrace.
Despite his own injuries, Luke managed to haul his father to the hangar where Vader's shuttle was. The stormstoppers and the Dearth Star II staff ran towards their ships preparing to leave the station that was under attack. Anakin weakly looked at Luke who was determined to get his father out of that mess. But it is too late for me, the end is coming, I have no hope left.
The boy dragged his father to the shuttle's landing lamp and collapsed there. Anakin looked at his son and asked for one last wish, "Luke, help me take this mask off …"
Luke looked surprised and fearful, like if he knew what was coming, "But you'll die."
"Nothing can stop that now," Anakin said, his voice still sounding as mechanical as ever. "Just for once ... let me look on you ... with my own eyes."
Slowly and carefully, Luke lifted Vader's helmet and then removed the faceplate from the black durasteel shell that wrapped around his neck. As Anakin's scarred features were exposed, he was surprised to feel tears welling in his eyes, tears that had been waiting to be shed for a long time. He looked at Luke carefully, finally getting rid of the vision with the red lens. A great peace took over him; his son was there, watching him with love. He has Padme's eyes…finally, it's over. The nightmare is finally over.
"Now, go my son…leave me…", said Anakin, and realized that his voice was no longer artificial, now it was human like it should be, like it should have been for years. His voice now showed compassion, no longer evil. Finally, Anakin felt human, he realized that Darth Vader was no more, he had returned.
"No," Luke insisted. "You're coming with me. I'll not leave you here. I've got to save you."
Those words were enough to break through Anakin's eyes into his soul. The tears were slowly running down, invisible, but they were there. He felt loved, after a long time, he felt loved. He missed that feeling, the feeling that has been the reason why he hated more and more each day. But those days were gone.
When I fell to the Dark Side...and even before...I lost everything. Was it worth to join darkness? Was it justified?
He closed his eyes for a moment…
I lost my mother...
"Will I ever see you again?" little Ani sobbed as he bid farewell to his mother. His journey to become a Jedi was about to begin, but he had to leave his mother behind.
"What does your heart tell you?", said Shmi with a sense of hope, even though the sorrow was evident in her eyes.
Anakin tried to listen to his heart, but all he sensed was its ache and still, he felt a sense of hope that he had always had, he understood that that farewell wouldn't be forever. "I hope so…Yes ... I guess."
"Then we will see each other again.", said Shmi as she caressed the cheek of her son lovingly, her eyes showed how much she care about him, and the feeling was mutual. Anakin would always be complete as long as her mother had faith in him, as long as he felt her love.
Anakin swallowed hard but looked determined. "I will come back and free you, Mom. I promise."
Shmi smiled. "Now be brave, and don't look back. Don't look back."
'I love you…'
I lost my father...
The night had fallen upon Mos Espa. Qui-Gon Jinn is cleaning a cut on Anakin's arm while the little boy looked at the stars, dreaming about traveling like he had always had. "There are so many! Do they all have a system of planets?"
"Most of them", replied Qui-Gon Jinn as he cleaned the wound, answering the question with enthusiasm nevertheless.
Anakin looked curious, "Has someone been to them all?"
Qui-Gon laughed a bit and looked at the boy sympathetic, "Not likely."
"I want to be the first one to see them all!", exclaimed Anakin with enthusiasm. He had always been a dreamer, ever since he was three he wished for freedom, and he knew freedom was at hand. Thanks to that Jedi Master, he would be able to dream again, and to dream forever.
"All set Ani."
I lost my brother...
Obi-Wan had just been chosen to lead the capture of General Grievous, and even though Anakin felt like his former master was going to need him, it was time they both went separate ways again. But not before expressing how much Anakin appreciated the older Jedi. "Master, I've disappointed you. I have not been very appreciative of your training . . . I have been arrogant and I apologize . . . I've just been so frustrated with the Council."
'It took me thirteen years to properly apologize, to be sincere'. Anakin knew that Obi-Wan deserved a better apprentice and yet, Anakin was lucky to have Obi-Wan as his tutor, for both of them were "sons" of the same "father."
The Jedi Master gave Anakin a warm smile, full of appreciation, and Anakin felt relieved by that smile. "You are strong and wise, Anakin, and I am very proud of you. I have trained you since you were a small boy. I have taught you everything I know. And you have become a far greater Jedi than I could ever hope to be."
'Thank you Master, you'd never know how much that means to me…'
I lost my wife...
'Are you an angel?'
Anakin remembered that was the first thing that he told Padmé when he met her many years ago. And now Anakin was watching Padmé brush her hair, her frame in light thanks to the shine of the moon upon Coruscant. "You are so...beautiful."
Padmé smiled and turned back to Anakin, lowering the brush for a moment, her smile was enough to make Anakin melt inside, by the fire of love. The Senator looked at him with those killer eyes, "That's because I'm so in love."
The Jedi Knight let out a small laugh. Hearing Padmé say those things was enough to make Anakin's heart warm. "No, it's because I'm so in love with you!"
The young senator looked at him with a funny look, and Anakin laughed inside himself. "So love has blinded you?"
"Well, that's not exactly what I meant.", replied Anakin with another laugh. 'In love or not, she's the most beautiful creature in the galaxy.'
"But it's probably true.", replied Padmé, giving him a loving look with those beautiful eyes of her.
Anakin's eyes watered even more as he remembered what he had been in the past. He looked weakly at Luke and another tear rolled down, "You already have, Luke. You were right."
"You were right about me. Tell your sister . . . you were right", that was the last thing that Anakin Skywalker managed to say, losing his sight and barely listening to Luke's pleadings to stay. He knew that he was beyond redemption, that he had to pay for all the awful things he had done in the past, he knew that his end was near and he would finally feel the suffering he inflicted to others in his life.
Perpetual darkness took over him, and he was ready to face the end.
Anakin slowly woke up, confused. All he saw was darkness; he knew he must be in the place where the souls suffered the consequences of the acts committed in the living world. He knew he was beyond redemption, so he would accept the consequences and suffer forever, like he should.
Suddenly, the place was lit and Anakin could now see with much more clarity. He looked down at himself and noted he was no longer trapped inside that monstrous suit of Darth Vader. He was dressed in Jedi robes. He was a completely in the light.
Light with the shape of young Anakin Skywalker just before his fall to the Dark Side, a young man with beautiful blue eyes and hope in his eyes. He was confused, where was he? What had happened? 'Shouldn't I be suffering for all the grotesque and evil acts I committed?'
His eyes opened as he listened to that voice again. Suddenly, some persons appeared before him, and he recognized the shape of them, the warmth of their eyes that showed love. 'Can't be…'
"Welcome home, Ani.", said the spirit of Shmi Skywalker as she walked towards her son, her face was just as he remembered thought he hadn't seen it for many years. Vader or Anakin, he promised himself to never forget his mother, whatever happened. Seeing his mother there, he felt a happiness he hadn't felt in forever. He opened his arms and hugged the spirit of his mother tight. Even if there wasn't quite body to hold, the mere presence of their essence was enough to heal the heart of both. Tears began running down his cheeks, "Mom…you're here…"
He slowly let got and Shmi looked at her son with a loving look while placing her hand over his check, like when he was a little kid. "I've been always with you."
Anakin then looked around and noticed he was not suffering, on the contrary, he hadn't felt that happy in his entire life, and now, death. "But…all the awful things I did…all the monstrous acts of Darth Vader…why?"
"Because you fulfilled the prophecy, Ani.", said another voice. Anakin noticed, in front of him, was the person he had always thought of as father, before him was Qui-Gon Jinn. The Jedi Master was smiling at him with his arms opened, and Anakin took no time into embracing the other man.
The Chosen One let go and wiped his tears, feeling complete and yet guilty. "But…I don't deserve…"
"Anakin, you destroyed the Sith.", said Obi-Wan Kenobi as he appeared before Anakin in the shape of the old man he had been before his death. The smile of his old master was warm. "You're here because you ended the nightmare."
Anakin swallowed and embraced his old master, "Obi-Wan…master, I'm sorry! So very, very, very sorry! I do not deserve to be here, I should be suffering because of my acts, not here with you."
Then, Yoda appeared before the Jedi and gave him a smile, "You have done what no one had ever done, Anakin, you turned your back on the Dark Side when it had already seduced and consumed you. You're here because you deserve it, you are regretful, and all your evil acts are forgiven because you fulfilled your destiny. Because of the will of the Force, you are here."
"Now, it's time for you to forgive yourself, Ani.", said Qui-Gon as he placed a hand over the young man's shoulder.
Anakin looked at his mother and smiled, shedding tears of happiness. "I do…"
For a moment, time stopped. Slowly, Anakin stepped away from Qui-Gon and his mother and passed by Obi-Wan who gave him pat in his shoulder. Now, the tears coming down from Anakin's face were undeniable, his felt finally complete, around his loved ones. He laughed a little, while placing his hands over the person before him.
Padmé Amidala Naberrie cried as well as she looked to the eyes of her beloved. Her face showed as much peace as Anakin's, she placed a hand over Anakin's face and caressed it. "Ani…you're finally here…"
"I'm so sorry, my love.", said Anakin regretful, "Would you ever forgive me?"
The young woman smiled and kissed him lightly in the lips, yet, a kiss full of never-ending love. "Ani, all that's done is forgiven."
Anakin hugged his beloved wife and turned to the other persons there. He was happy, his nightmare was over. Finally he was in peace, regardless of all the things he has done, he was free at last, he was free to enjoy his loved ones in the after life. Darth Vader didn't deserve that, but maybe Anakin Skywalker did.
"Now, Anakin, there is a technique I must teach you right now, before you permanently go to the Netherworld of the Force.", said Obi-Wan and looked at his former apprentice.
"What is it, Master?", asked Anakin with all respect of the world.
Obi-Wan smiled, "The capability to go to the world of the living, so you can see your children again. Now, come with me."
Anakin blinked. "Luke and Leia…"
The Jedi Master nodded and signaled Anakin to follow him. Anakin turned to Padmé and looked at her sternly, "Will you be here when I come back?"
Padmé smiled and kissed him in the lips once again, "I'll wait you forever if I must. No go, watch our children for me…"
Anakin smiled and slowly pulled back, then followed Obi-Wan and Yoda, but not before taking a last glance at Shmi, Padmé and Qui-Gon Jinn. He wouldn't be gone for long; he would never leave them or let them down ever again.
The Battle of Endor has ended, and the whole galaxy was celebrating the death of Emperor Palpatine, finally the galaxy would be in peace. In the forests, the spirits of Yoda and Obi-Wan watched how C-3PO, R2-D2, Han, Chewbacca, Leia and Luke celebrated their victory, a victory long awaited.
Anakin joined the ghosts and saw Luke staring at him with a smile. He returned the smile and then glanced at Leia, who was kissing Han Solo. His children were safe, his children were alright, and the galaxy was in peace.
Everything turned to be alright.