The celebration of the liberated Naboo and Gungan forces filled the streets of Theed with energy that Anakin had a hard time dealing with. It was invasive and contagious, making him want to burst out into joyous laughter spontaneously; an odd thing for someone of his background who had never laughed much.
He was obligated to stand beside Padmé during the ceremony in which she officially kept her word to the Gungan people. He'd been proud to stand beside the most beautiful woman on the grounds. Proud and at humbled. Of all the people she could have chosen, she'd kept her word to him too. They were icons to the Nabooian people, symbols of everything good. Of people willing to fight for what was right, no matter the odds.
The Jedi council was there as well, as were Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon. The former had been given his knighthood. Mace had backed Qui-Gon's recommendation, and Obi-Wan had been knighted with the highest honors a Jedi could achieve. Qui-Gon, on the other hand, had informed him just that morning that he would be staying on Naboo. Partially as a continued presence to protect the Queen but mostly as a favor to Anakin to honor his promise to continue Anakin's Jedi training.
Anakin had mixed feelings about the whole thing.
He'd spoken with Obi-Wan about his impressions of The Nabooian Senator, his lack of visions before being able to control them, and the unease he felt around the man. Obi-Wan, who already had an inherent distrust of senators and their functions, had promised to keep a close, if discreet, eye on the man who had recently been selected as the successor to Chancellor Vellorum. Anakin had forced himself to let go of the feeling, and trust in his friend to do the right thing.
Obi-Wan was a good man and a good Jedi; hopefully he'd be able to keep whatever plans the new Chancellor had in check.
It was later that night, after all the festivities had died down, that Anakin found himself sitting on the private balcony of the Queen's suites, looking out over the still celebrating city of Theed, that he marveled at his new circumstances.
"Not exactly where you pictured yourself at this point in your life, is it?"
Anakin smiled. "No, Master Qui-Gon. I can't thank you enough for wanting to stay."
Qui-Gon shrugged, crossing his arms over his chest. "The alternative was to pick another Padawan now that Obi-Wan's been knighted. There's something about you, Anakin, which tells me you have the potential for greatness. Great good, or great evil."
"A Force vision, Master?"
Qui-Gon chuckled. "Not exactly. More like, an intuition."
"So it's not something you've seen."
"No." Qui-Gon glanced behind him. "Though I do see a beautiful young lady walking this way."
Anakin's eyes sparkled as Padmé stepped out onto the balcony with a sigh. Her color was high, but her face was refreshing clear of make up now that her official part of the day was finished. "What a night!"
"You're telling me. I've never seen so many people in one place before!"
She laughed, settling herself in one of the many chairs lining the patio. "I wouldn't get used to it. This is just Theed and we rarely celebrate the way we did today. Though, there are a great many requests to meet the Hero in the Battle of Naboo."
"Requests?" Anakin shrank back, intimidated. "I thought I just had to smile and wave."
Padmé threw one of the lounger's pillows at him. "School appearances, public speaking, special functions, military academy appearances. It's just the beginning."
"Not to mention flight school and your control sessions with me."
Anakin grimaced. "I had more free time as a slave!"
Qui-Gon arched his eyebrows at his somewhat apprentice. "Then choose those which you feel are necessary and send your regrets to others. Consider it training, instead of public service."
Qui-Gon took two steps forward and clapped one hand on Anakin's shoulder. "A Jedi must be both warrior and diplomat, Anakin. Plus, shaking the hands of strangers without your gloves will be good practice for your control skills. Eventually it should become a natural reaction you have to think about not doing, instead of doing."
Anakin slanted a look at Padmé. She'd stretched out in the recliner, her head tilted back towards the heavens and her eyes were closed. A reaction he didn't think about. Yeah. He liked that. He liked that idea a lot. He turned back to Qui-Gon, meeting the Master's knowing look with an unabashed grin. If he wanted to ever have a chance at a normal future with Padmé, that reaction would need to be so programmed it became an instinct; and Qui-Gon had offered it to him on a silver platter.
"So when do we start?"
Author's Note: That's it; it's over. :O Wow, is it ever over, talk about crazy! I had intended to end it with Anakin having been telling a bed time story to one of their children, but this way makes much more sense - and it leaves it open to interpretation for Ep2 and Ep3 AUs :D
I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it - I can't thank Knight-Ander enough for the original plot bunny, or Jaded Rose for her unwavering support and rabid bunnies that built on the first one.
Some of you have noted that you've seen this fic before - you're right. I originally posted it over at theforce boards as I do with 99 of my Star Wars work. Few stories get posted here first, and the epics are often finished before I will even consider posting them here to avoid having incomplete stories. That said - I have a dozen more stories that are longer which are being re-formatted for this site and are longer than three or four chapters. Expect them as I have time to format.
Thank you for being a wonderful audience - and remember, review, review, review!