A/N: To my regular readers of this story, I have upped the rating of this story for the content of this chapter. I feel that the story has reached a point where the rating will be up. We are getting to some dark points. I hope you all continue to read and enjoy.
Padmé woke the next morning alone. She opened her eyes to the sight of a folded up piece of flimsy. Sitting up, she carefully unfolded it and read the words handwritten on them and was at least grateful that she was left a note instead of just having to guess. And he had an excuse this time, being called to Coruscant by the Emperor did take precedence. She understood that much, but it didn't mean that she liked it. She longed for the day when her husband was no longer subservient to Palpatine. Seeing the light shining through the open window, she decided to get up and dressed, she would be having her breakfast out on the patio.
Shmi knew that she would never get used to such lavish luxury. She didn't know how to handle being waited on, which she suspected she would have to as she was shooed out of the kitchen, the cook appalled at her attempts to serve herself and muttering about how she could lose her head. Everywhere she walked in the house, she was met with a servant who bowed to her with reverent respect. Was her son so influential that he had such a following? It bothered Shmi that she knew next to nothing about her own son. Up until a fair few weeks ago, she had believed that he was a Jedi and now she knew differently. He obviously held much power at his hands and yet Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Jedi, was still searching for him. And all the servants referred to her son as My Lord. If Anakin was a lord of some kind, then why was Obi-Wan still searching for him? He must be a lord of this planet, she surmised and Obi-Wan Kenobi had yet to search this planet.
Shmi had quickly assessed that Anakin was away through the housekeeper who informed her that he was off planet and that Anakin said for her to make herself comfortable. She had checked in on her granddaughter who was still sleeping, it was only a little past dawn after all. She took the time to explore the house, awed and intimidated by the opulent luxury. It was while she was passing a first floor window that she noticed the female figure eating out on the patio with another female, she recognized the one as he woman with whom her son was in the pool with, knowing that she looked very familiar. She walked out of one of the doors to join the two woman. The one was dressed richly and the other a servant so much as Shmi could tell. She also recognized the one woman dressed richly as Padmé Naberrie a girl, now a woman, that she had met once thirteen years ago and by what Shmi could tell as she sat with a hand on her rounded middle, that she was pregnant. She knew that Padmé was her son's wife, recalling him mentioning her name. Could the other woman be a companion? As she approached them, both woman stopped talking to look at her and she ran an unconscious hand down the front of her dull dress.
The unknown woman stared at her in uncertainty while Padmé recognized her. "I'm sorry to interrupt but I was forced out of the kitchen and I saw the two of you eating out here," she said.
Padmé smiled warmly. "I think Anakin mentioned that you were here, please have a seat," she said.
"Milady, do you know her?" Dormé asked.
"Dormé, this is Anakin's mother, Shmi. Shmi this is my handmaiden, Dormé," Padmé introduced.
"I was unaware that he had a mother," Dormé said and Shmi could detect that she had a low opinion of her son and Shmi tried not to feel any animosity towards her.
"Dormé is a little protective and Anakin isn't always the most considerate towards her, they tend to clash often," Padmé said, leaning in towards Shmi as though sensing her thoughts.
"What is it that my son has done to earn your distrust?" Shmi asked, looking directly at Dormé
Dormé opened her mouth like she was going to answer but Padmé beat her to it. "Dormé, could you tell the cook to fetch me some more ginger for my tea?" she asked.
"As you wish Milady," Dormé complied as she rose to complete the task.
Shmi took this opportunity to ask Padmé to fill her in some. "I have to wonder how Anakin managed through the years. "I honestly thought until a few weeks ago that he had become a Jedi and now here is is with this extravagant house and every calls him 'My Lord'" she said.
"Until a few weeks ago you believed he was Jedi?" Padmé asked.
"Yes, until this Obi-Wan Kenobi came claiming to be looking for him, and told me Anakin disappeared and never became a Jedi. Is he telling the truth? And if so what really happened?" Shmi asked.
Padmé quickly looked around them, sensing a few guards nearby, she didn't know how, but she sensed them. She leaned closer to Shmi. "Obi-Wan is a dear friend, I have no doubt that he has Anakin's best intentions in mind and yes he is telling the truth," she whispered so only Shmi could hear. "I would advise you not to say anything else on the matter," she hastened to add.
Shmi looked at her. "Does this have anything to do with the danger we are all in?" she asked.
Padmé nodded. "Yes," she said.
Shmi was slightly alarmed. "What kind of danger is my son in, please tell me," she asked.
"You'll have to ask Anakin," Padmé deflected.
"I need to know, you're a mother, surely you understand!" Shmi persisted.
Padmé was unsure of what to tell her, of what Anakin wanted her to know and for Shmi's sake, she didn't want to step over that line. "You're better off not knowing," she told her as Dormé returned with a small bowl of ginger for the tea.
"Oh why don't you tell her the truth, Milady," Dormé said as she came into the room and before her mistress could protest, she brazenly turned to the older woman and spoke her peace. "Your son is Darth Vader," she informed her.
Ruwee stood and watched as Obi-Wan tried to break the encryption on the signal that Padmé had used. He had been at this for hours and just when he was getting close an ear splitting hiss came through before everything was gone. The signal ceased to exist, the encryption non-existent. There was nothing to trace. Obi-Wan leaned back. "Another dead end," he sighed in frustration.
"I don't know what is worse, knowing where she was while knowing she was in a dangerous situation or knowing she was in danger and not knowing where she is," Ruwee confessed.
Obi-Wan couldn't begin to understand Ruwee's plight. He had no family and never known the bonds that civilians had with their families. "She is covering her tracks, at least she can do that," he said.
Ruwee sighed. "My daughter has never once thought of her personal safety, so sure that she must do what is right," he said.
"It is an admirable trait," Obi-Wan commented as he stood and then he saw Jobal join them, an expectant look on her face.
"Well?" she asked.
"The signal was untraceable, I am afraid that I cannot located them," Obi-Wan informed her.
Crestfallen, Jobal nodded. "I suppose it is safer that way," she said.
"I will continue my search, you have my word," Obi-Wan vowed. "I will leave you now, I do not want to endanger you by staying. i have no doubt that the Emperor may send an investigator here to inquire whether you know of your daughter's whereabouts," he said after a pause.
"Yes, I remember the siege on the palace well," Ruwee agreed.
"If I hear anything, I will find a way to let you know," Obi-Wan assured them before he took his leave to continue his search.
The pomp and fanfare that Vader received upon returning to the Imperial palace had him suspicious. The entire Imperial Court was in session as he entered the throne room and all stopped what they were doing to wait in bated breath for what was to come next.
"Ah, Lord Vader, how nice of you to join us, have a seat, my boy," The emperor greeted almost jovially.
Vader was instantly on high alert as he took a seat to the right of the imperial throne in front of the full court. "Is there a reason why you called me back to the capital amidst my search?" he asked as the court resumed their whispering. He waved off an elderly serving woman as he gave the emperor his full attention.
"A celebration is in order, I have decided to publicly name my successor," Palpatine told him.
It was a move that was too surprising for Vader to have seen coming, but he had enough discipline not to show it.
As the celebration continued, Palpatine leaned closer and subtly said, "I was most impressed with your disposal of the spy I have placed on Tatooine." he then stood. "It is with great honor that I formally announce my decision to name my successor to the throne, Lord Vader," he declared.
The throng raised their glasses in salute. "Hail, Lord Vader!" they chorused.
Vader stood, plastering a pleased expression on his face, raising a glass as well. "It is an honor to accept his majesty's humble bestowal of such a much coveted title, I shall honer his kindness with much gratitude. May his majesty live a long glorious life," he said the last part as he sent his master a meaningful look before they each sat down.
Palpatine kept the frown from his face such a bold deceleration, instead he gave a benevolent smile. "In the heartfelt depth of my sincerity, I present to you a gift, Lord Vader," he said motioning to a corner. "I ripe picking of a most pleasing measure, do with her as you wish," he said as an exotic human female came forth, dressed in fancy dancing regalia, her dark luminous eyes studying Vader while her raven hair styled atop her head, a dark veil woven into her hair and painted tattoos adorning her exposed skin.
Vader appraised her, finding himself unimpressed with the gift, his mind floating to his wife and he knew he would do nothing with the exotic beauty before him as she bowed deeply before him, showing a great deal of flexibility.
Shmi stared at the handmaiden, aghast at what she had just heard. She turned to Padmé to gather the validity of the statement. "It can't be," she whispered. "My Ani?"
Padmé gave Dormé a hard look. "I think that is enough," she said, her displeasure showing in her tone. "I would like you to see to Aidia to make sure she gets up, washed and dressed and makes sure she eats," she said promptly dismissing her handmaiden.
"Yes, Milady," Dormé complied, unhappy at her dismissal.
Once she was gone Padmé turned to Shmi. "You must forgive her," she said.
"Padmé, please tell me that my son isn't a monster," Shmi begged.
Padmé took Shmi's hand in hers. "It isn't like that," she assured her. "Palpatine took Anakin when he was sent back to you by the Jedi Council, he tormented Anakin and turned him into his own slave, grooming him to be his Sith apprentice. As much as Anakin tries to fight him, he keeps a firm grip of control. As much as I don't like it, Anakin must maintain the pretence of a dutiful apprentice. But I know he has good in him, he loves and I know that once Palpatine is gone, he can be free of the darkness that plagues him," she told her.
Shmi gave her a distressed look. "Tell me what that monster has done to my son," she said, showing incredible strength.
Shmi's strength was admirable and Padmé sighed. "I don't know everything, but I know that Anakin tried to escape once before. He had a daughter with another woman once, six years ago, but Palpatine found them, killed the child and the mother and forced Anakin to watch," she told her. "I have no doubt that he has inflicted much more on Anakin, Anakin seems almost afraid to let himself care for anyone else," she added.
Shmi's hands flew to her mouth. "My Ani, how you must have suffered," she breathed quietly and looked at Padmé as tears pooled in her eyes. "It's all my fault," she said.
"No! You shouldn't blame yourself," Padmé told her.
Shmi shook her head. "He's my son, it was my job to protect him! And I failed, I should have never given him to the Jedi!" she said.
"You couldn't have known what would have happened, you believed you were giving him a better life," Padmé comforted her.
"Ani was always special, I knew it and I knew that there were those who would exploit him, and I knew that if he was out of my sight, he could have been, I should have been more vigilant. He's my son, I should have protected him! I failed my son!" she cried.
Padmé moved from her seat to embrace Shmi, giving her the comfort that she needed. She knew that she would feel the same if it was her child.
As the fanfare ended, Palpatine promptly dismissed Vader. "Do enjoy your gift, Lord Vader, she is most anxious to show you her skills."
Giving the pretense that he would, Vader allowed her to lure him from the throne room and into a private bedchamber where she promptly nudge him down on the bed.
"Relax, My lord, I promise to please you," her sultry voice washed over him as she stepped away seductively to begin her dance, a seductive dance designed to ensnare his senses, yet she held no interest for him, intent on dismissing her as soon as enough time had past to give the Emperor the pretense that he enjoyed the gift. But as her heavily hooded eyes met his invitingly, he sensed her true intent and knew that she was no dancing girl.
Calmly as ever, Vader appraised the girl he'd been given as she danced enticingly. Her outfit seemed to be composed entirely of short pieces of cloth which she could remove at will to use as an extension of herself, give to him, and reveal more of her body. Vader's face was stoic, but inside he was frowning. Not that the body she was revealing wasn't beautiful, but that she wasn't his wife. Objectively, he knew that there was no reason for him not to be attracted to this girl, but he wasn't. She twirled around with a veil in each hand, and as she passed close to him, she dropped one in his lap. This left her a hand free to pull another veil from her each tantalizing movement, she drew closer until she was just close enough. As the dance required the bending of her body while on her knees, she made a pretense of reaching behind her for her veil but instead gripped a well hidden dagger before she lunged up for the kill only to choke on an iron grip as the dagger was wrenched from her hand and toss away. Her eyes looked into a pair of red rimmed yellow eyes full of hatred and the intent to kill. She gasped for breath as she began to buckle to the floor until at the last minute she was released.
Gasping for air, she was unprepared and the physical assault that came next when a fist slammed into her face, knocking her flat to the floor and then followed by a swift, hard kick to her ribs, cracking them, and then another, harder one . Survival instinct taking over, she started to scramble away, before receiving a kick to the face, sending her flipping backwards. She felt blood beginning to trickle down her face and she made another attempt to scramble away, getting up onto her knees and grabbed the end of a table to pull herself up to run, only to be grabbed by the hair and yanked down. Her hand pulling a table cloth off of the table, as well as some glass objects that crashed down on top of her. She barely got the scream out as another fist crashed down onto her face. She threw her arms up to shield her face and she tried to kick at her assailant but to no avail. He was bigger, stronger and far more agile for her to even hit back. When both hands closed in around her throat and tightened as she was pinned to the floor, she flailed her hands at his face and tried to scream for help. She tried to look anywhere but his eyes but she always came back to them. He fully intended to kill her and she didn't know how to stop him. "Plea...pleas.." she managed to choke out and for a moment she thought it was over when he released her and walked away. As she gasped for breath, she shakily managed to get up enough to scramble towards the door. She was almost there when a fist grabbed hold of her hair at the scalp and pulled her back. Somehow she knew that someone was outside that door so she screamed, "Help me! Somebody please help me!" as she was pulled down face first to the bed. "Help me please! He's going to kill me! Please help me!" she screamed but no one came to help her as she was pinned down by a knee to her back as her wrists were being tied to the bed by her own veils. Tears of fear trickled down her bludgeoned face as the bandeau top she wore was ripped off of her and when she felt the blade of her own dagger start to pierce her in the back. She screamed blood curdling screams as her back was ripped open. She took her last gasping breaths as her ribs were broken at her spine and spread outwards like wings.
Her life force spent, Vader pushed himself up and stood away, tossing the dagger away. Catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror, he noticed the amount of blood that was splattered onto him, on his face, his neck and soaking his tunic. His eyes were returning to their natural azure. Without a seconds thought about what he had just done, he grabbed another discarded veil and proceeded to wipe the blood off of himself and tossed the now blood soaked scarf aside. He had a decision to make about the body.
Palpatine took a seat upon his throne, the darkness of the room feeding into the darkness of his soul. If the assassin succeeded then he would need to start grooming his next apprentice soon. Vader's defiance could go unchecked no longer. He had grown too strong, too independent. Vader was becoming a dangerous enemy. His gnarled fingers dug into the arms of his throne as he thought things through. He needed a way to finish off his enemies. It was clear to him that his apprentice had plans of his own. Palpatine caught Vader's little meaning in his toast and he was not happy.
It was then that he felt something drip down onto his head. Looking up, he noticed the lights go on and a body hung above him. Upon closer inspection he noticed that it was his assassin, spread out on a cross, her back ribs spread out like wings. Frowning at the meaning her heard the voice next to his ear.
"A sight to behold, don't you think?"
Palpatine turned and frowned at Vader. "Indeed," he growled.
"I know what you planned with her the moment she let her guard down," Vader said as he walked to inspect his masterpiece. "You said to do with her as I pleased," he reminded him. "I think this is most impressive," he said darkly.
"And you passed the test," Palpatine said sourly. "I had my doubts when I suspecting you had something to hide on Tatooine," he said.
Vader crossed over to him and circled him like a predator. "Enough of the nexu chase, Master. You don't trust me and I don't trust you, it is simple enough. Soon, I assure you, your creation will show it's teeth," he said and then gave a low bow. "Until then I will continue with my mission," he said and backed out of the room before leaving the palace.
Vader met up with Jix far out in space, away from the Emperor's reach. Jix often complained about the meeting place, of the sulfuric air, the heat, and the lava that was everywhere, but he was used to it by now. Mustafar was an undesirable planet to frequent and it was for this reason that Vader knew that he would not be followed here. They met here infrequently in case they were discovered. it was the way of things. When plotting against the Emperor, even it was his second-in-command, they could never be too careful.
"What news do you have?" Vader asked as he came out of meditation upon Jix's arrival.
"The Emperor's personal guards have been disposed of, agents have taken their place. They have finished their studying of the guards habits enough to mimic them," Jix informed him.
Vader nodded. "Good, with any luck the Emperor will not notice until we are ready," he said.
"The others are in place, awaiting your orders. The palace is full of your agents all in inconspicuous roles, dancing girls, servants, all ready for the attack as you instructed," Jix told him.
"I will return to Coruscant unnoticed in due time. The Emperor has formally named me his successor, a foolish move on his part, but I shall do to him what he deserves," Vader said.
"Are you going to elaborate on your plan?" Jix asked, knowing that there was a method to the madness.
"No, the plan is quite simple. I'm going to kill him," Vader said darkly, his eyes flashing yellow.
Shmi had spent most of the day in her room coming to terms with what she had learned and she came up with one conclusion. No matter what her son had done, she would still love him. And she wanted him to be happy. It was with this intent that she sought out Padmé and she found her sitting in the courtyard, drinking tea as she watched over Aidia playing.
"She really is a special gem," Shmi said joining her daughter-in-law.
Padmé smiled. "She is," she agreed.
"You must love her dearly," Shmi observed as she noticed that Padmé's eyes never left Aidia.
"I love her as if she is my own," Padmé confessed.
Shmi looked at her at that statement. "You're not Aidia's mother?" she asked.
Padmé looked at her then. "Not legally, her mother died recently, I've been taking care of her since. Anakin wanted her to have a mother again she he proposed that we marry for Aidia," she confessed.
"I see," Shmi said. "But tell me, Padmé, would you have done so with anyone else?" she asked.
"I don't know, I grew attached to Aidia, and I knew she needed me," Padmé told her.
"And what of Anakin? Where does he factor?" Shmi asked.
"I have a great deal of respect for Anakin. I want to help him in any way I can," Padmé told her.
"But do you love him?" Shmi asked.
Padmé was unsure of her answer, she looked at Shmi's expectant gaze, knowing that here was a mother who wanted what was best for her son. She turned her gaze back to Aidia. "I don't know," she confessed.
Shmi nodded. "I hope that you can figure that out," she said. "I only want Ani to be happy."
Four Weeks Later.
It was some time in the middle of the night and Padmé woke when she felt something different. She had been sensing things more often, more differently than normal, like she could touch something unexplainable and she knew what it was. She threw back the covers and sat up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed to stand up to follow the feeling.
Vader was sitting in the common room of the villa in silent darkness. His mind was refusing to rest for him to sleep. He was still in planning mode when he returned and he needed some time to relax his mind before facing anyone. He had arrived this late on purpose for that reason, but he had only been there for ten minutes when he heard the soft movements of someone coming into the room. He reached out and found the familiar presence of his wife coming towards him. His eyes were trained on the doorway when she appeared. With the soft light coming from the hall behind her, she looked like a vision. She turned on the light in the common room making Vader blink at the sudden light before he saw that she was wearing a lavender chemise made entirely out of lace trimmed in satin at the waist and neckline. it was as though she had been waiting for him, like somehow she had known he was coming back this night.
"What are you doing here sitting in the dark?" Padmé asked as she approached him.
"Trying to clear my mind," Vader answered, his eyes fixating on her, taking in how the garment seemed to show all of her, his mind forgetting what he had been dwelling on.
"Clear your mind of what?" she asked as she stood directly in front of him.
"I can't remember," he admitted before grasping her about the waist and pulling her to his lap where his mouth hungrily sought hers. Her arms twined around his neck, her hand snaking through his hair while his hand reached under her chemise, trailing along the skin of her thigh, over the cheeks of her backside and coming over to her front. Her legs parted way for him to slowly caress the space between. He deepened the kiss as he expertly fondled her. Her response to him was open and immediate. Her body responded to him with trust. She moved so that she was straddling him, giving his hands more access and allowing both her hands to run through his hair. He found that in the weeks he had been gone, he no longer felt that he desired her. The emotional response was far deeper and more immediate. He needed her. This thought surprised him, and he broke off the kiss with her. The look in her eyes was primal and he knew that what she felt for him right now was purely physical and his body responded in kind. He wanted her, he wanted all of her but until she could give it, he would take what he got.
He wrapped his arms around her middle, standing as he had an idea. He kissed her again as her legs wrapped around his waist as he carried her up the stairs and into his bedroom, foregoing the bed and going straight for the refresher where he set her down on the vanity, the hem of her chemise riding up. He broke the kiss as he waved a hand at the huge plasticrete tub in the room where water started to fill it along with some soothing oils.
Padmé watched him as he turned back to her, grabbing the hem of her chemese and pulling it up over her head, her body fully revealing itself to him. He took her hand and lead her to the tub where she stepped up and into it, relaxing on the shallow seat that went across one side of the tub, her eyes watching him as he stripped himself before joining her.
He pulled her over to him to the point where she straddled his lap again. His mouth attached to the space where her neck met her shoulder as he trailed kisses along her neck and shoulder. His hand taking hers to reach down to close her smaller, more nimble hand around the throbbing length of him. "I've spent the last four weeks thinking of you," he confessed. "I need you," he told her hoarsely. He met her gaze and knew she was satisfied with his confession. And groaned she her hand started to pump him.
"You need me?" Padmé asked, pleased as she held his gaze. "Tell me what you want, Anakin," she whispered into his ear.
"I want..." he groaned, his passion for her growing, "I want you to ride me like your life depended on it," he told her before she kissed him.
Padmé shifted in the water slowly lowering herself onto him, feeling him fill her completely, her eyes closing at the sheer pleasure of it. She needed him too, there were nights when she would wake up aching to feel his touch. The separation she had to bear was beginning to make her feel lonely. As she rolled her hips as he thrust up into her, their pace growing, exhibiting their physical need for each other, he broke their kiss, going for her neck. Padmé let out little groans and sighs with each movement. Water from the tub splashed around them with each movement as their pace increased some more, Padmé braced her hands on his shoulders for leverage as his hands roamed her back, along her backside, squeezing the cheeks of her ass. It was not long before their pace became so fervent that they both began to feel the culmination of their lovemaking, feeling the orgasms coming in waves until they were both sated.
Padmé's body became like liquid as she relaxed against his chest, still joined to him. "Mmm, that feels good," she murmured as he began to massage the small of her back.
"Why were you up so late?" Vader asked.
She shrugged. "I just woke up, and felt like something was different and I came to investigate," she told him, and he smiled.
"I didn't mean to wake you," he said. "But I cannot say that I am disappointed that I did," he said, drawing her mouth back down to his for a long, drawn-out kiss. He broke the kiss and she rested her cheek on his shoulder.
"Soon we won't have to hide here anymore. Everything is starting to fall into place. Palpatine will be dead, the throne mine, and you shall be my Empress," he whispered into her ear.
Padmé was too exhausted to tell him she didn't exactly want to be Empress so she merely sighed in contentment.