There is no emotion, there is peace.
Anakin's emotions have always been his stumbling block. They ensnare him and pull him down, tripping him up. He's too rash, too angry, loves too much—he is an imperfect Jedi. He is too human, and in an Order that strives to be a cut above that, he finds himself failing to fit the mold.
He will never be like Obi-Wan, controlled and stoic. He is different from Mace Windu, renowned for the great power that he keeps carefully in check. His personality is not that of Yoda's, contemplative and cautiously wise.
He is something else entirely.
Perhaps, if his actions here today are discovered, he will no longer even be a Jedi.
Padme is stunning. She has always been stunning. When he was a little boy, he didn't quite realize it for what it was, but as he grew—as he matured—he could almost see her blossoming before his eyes, though she never changed a bit.
It was he who changed.
He is still changing. In deciding to violate everything that the Jedi Order has taught him to believe, he is morphing into someone else entirely. He should not have allowed his emotions—his love—to lead him to this moment, but he cannot make himself regret it. He could never regret it.
"I love you," he whispers, leaning in to press a kiss to her lips. In his hands—both real and otherwise—he can feel her light grip, so accepting, so right.
His marriage may be forbidden, but he will not believe that it is wrong. It cannot be. Nothing that feels so perfect possibly could be.
He is at peace with his decision.
Padme has given him peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
He doesn't understand her sometimes. She is a senator, a former queen, and she could have anyone she wants. Why him? Why would she risk everything for a secret love, when she could find happiness with someone else—someone not expressly forbidden?
He never asks her, of course. If he did, she might give him an answer that he could refute, and then where would he be?
He can't imagine what he'd do if he ever lost her.
Some days, he wonders if she thinks the same way. The Republic is, undeniably, at war now—does she ever lay awake at night, thinking of him, wondering if he'll come home? He tries to hope she doesn't, as he endeavors not to think about it himself.
Selfishly, though, part of him very much wants her to worry for him.
He wants to be needed.
If he died, what would she do? He sees death so often now, and he's seen every scope of a reaction. Some people cry, weeping for their dead; others erupt in violence, refusing to accept the undeniable; and others, reacting in the way that disturbs him the most, simply stare blankly, as though they'll never truly see anything again.
What would she do? In the aftermath, would she move on, maybe find someone else? Every day, he faces life and death situations. People close to him die. He sees them hurt. His own death is a very real possibility. Eventually, she might have the opportunity to discover what she'd do.
Leave is becoming more difficult to obtain as the Jedi death toll rises. When, after a particularly long deployment in which he was falsely rumored to have been killed, he does get leave and comes home to Coruscant, he finds himself worrying about her reaction. He's been away too long, and he's entirely ignorant of what she's really feeling.
When she embraces him, clinging to him as though she'll never get enough, he just knows.
She loves him. Only him. Even death cannot separate them. He will not let it.
He is secure in that understanding.
Padme has given him knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
She makes him burn with passion. Every move she makes, every word she utters leaves him aching for more until the desire is almost impossible to suppress—and the longer he's around her, the less he wants to suppress it. She is intoxicating. In her presence, he finds his judgment so impaired that he wishes everyone knew just what he has. Selfishly, he wants the galaxy to think about them together, to talk about it, because to have them do so would make the reality of what he has true all over again, whenever he hears them speak.
Every day, every moment, it becomes a little bit more believable.
Some days, it doesn't make sense at all.
He could swear he's falling, but it's a jump he'd willingly take, and he can't imagine that the fall will hurt. Nothing about her hurts—not the feel of her skin, the smell of her hair, or her sharp wit when they talk late into the night. To him, everything she does is perfect. Even her imperfections become beautiful.
He knows he's going against everything the Jedi have taught him to believe, but he can't quite manage to feel lost. This doesn't feel wrong. Nothing about this feels wrong.
The only thing that doesn't feel right is the time he spends away from her, deep in the Outer Rim with Obi-Wan, fighting back the Separatists. He knows that it's his duty—and when on the front lines, he does his job well—but whenever he manages to snatch a moment of quiet amongst the bloodshed and carnage, he aches with the realization that he won't be able to see her that night... or any night in the near future.
He misses her, and he knows he shouldn't.
He shouldn't burn for her. He shouldn't harbor passion that feels as though it could ignite the stars.
When he finally comes home and sees her again, everything seems to simply fall away. There are no more Separatists. The kidnapping of the chancellor fades from his mind. The long months in the Outer Rim are nothing—nothing at all—because he is home again, with her. They're together, and that's all that matters.
And later, after confessions and promises, and the news of a baby, when they lay in bed together, Anakin feels something that he hasn't felt in months.
He feels at ease.
As he watches her sleep, her chest gently rising and falling in a tender, beautiful rhythm, his fears quiet, and something eases in his chest. This, too, is just a different kind of passion. It's soothing and quiet, but it's powerful. It is, he thinks, what happens when passion pushes as far as it can, until it becomes something else entirely. Like the opposite sides of a coin, or the light and dark halves of a moon, what he's feeling is passion's counterpart.
This, he thinks, might be peace.
He has gone full cycle, and his passion has faded into calm.
Padme has given him serenity.
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
Some days, he can't stop the voices that constantly whisper inside of him. He can't stop the dreams. Ever since he got back from the Outer Rim, everything has descended into chaos. The Jedi aren't what he thought they were. He is on the Council, but is not a master. Obi-Wan seems as unsettled as he is, but neither of them can really bring themselves to talk about it... or about anything. He has been asked to spy on the Supreme Chancellor, a man he considers a friend. And then there are the dreams...
Every night, and sometimes in his quiet waking moments, he sees her, her beautiful face awash with sweat as she cries for him... and he's not there. Somehow, that's the worst part of all. He should be there, should be helping her, because after his mother's death, he knows better than to underestimate the validity of these dreams. He understands this, yet the dreams don't change... at least not how he wants. They only shift so that, sometimes, in some of them, Obi-Wan is there with her.
But Anakin isn't.
He's not there at all.
Why isn't he?
Most nights, after she's gone to sleep, he thinks on it as he denies himself the slumber that he knows will only bring more premonitions that he doesn't want to see. He's torn his mind apart looking for answers, but it always comes back to this: he's not there, and he doesn't know why. Forcing his mind into a state as turbulent as the world around him doesn't gain him any answers, nor does it bring him peace.
He knows he's falling apart. The dreams are driving him mad. He can't lose her. She's everything to him—she's become so much a part of him that, without her, he's not sure quite who he is anymore. That man—the man he was—might not even still exist.
He's certain that he doesn't want to find out.
But what if he has to? What if he loses her? What then? If he loses the best light in his life, where will that leave him? In darkness? More than that? She is his light, but she is also the music of his life—the thing that gives him beauty.
She is his own special song, sung only for his ears, his last bit of joy in a chaotic world.
Padme has given him harmony.
There is no death, there is the Force.
Anger is like a drug. It runs through his veins, igniting his senses, and pushing him to a place where he can feel nothing else. Hour after hour, he exists on it, because he knows that the moment that he does feel something else will be the moment he'll fall apart. It will be his undoing, and quite possibly his end.
He does not miss her, simply because he does not allow himself to. Instead, he hates her memory, despising the moment that he ever met her. How can he not? That moment brought him to this.
Oh, how he loathes this. What he is now is something so much less than what he was. He is substandard, and he can see the disappointment in Sidious's eyes every time he regards the mass of black machine that is his new apprentice. It's not Sidious's disappointment that smarts and stings like an open wound, of course—Vader couldn't care less about that. It is only the knowledge that Sidious is correct. In every way—both mentally and physically—Vader is a lesser man—maybe not even a man—and he knows it.
He could never forget.
For her, he turned on everything he knew. For her, he turned into everything he once fought against. For her, he became the very thing she could no longer love. As surely as he still lives—and he does still live, though some days he would rather not—he did all this for her. He lost himself for her, and she repaid him by leaving him completely. Everything she gave him, he now no longer has. It has slipped away as completely as she has.
Where there was peace, there is now overwhelming, festering black emotion.
Where there was knowledge, there is now ignorance of everything but anger and hate.
Where there was serenity, there is now passion for destruction.
Where there was harmony, chaos now swirls.
Everything she gave him she has taken back and stolen away with her death.
How ironic—and how bitter—it is to know that, in the end, it was the one part of the Jedi code that she couldn't give him which destroyed him.
Padme could provide him with peace, knowledge, serenity, and harmony, but she could not give him solace in her death. She is with the Force, it is true, but all he can really understand that to mean is that she's no longer with him. With her passing, he lost all these things, and as he stares out at the darkness of space, black as the armor which now encompasses his body, he realizes that, in falling in love with her, he forsook the ability to gain those requirements of the code on his own. This, perhaps, is why the Jedi forbade attachment—not because loving this deeply was preventative of achieving the tenets of the code, but because, if the love was lost, the Jedi would be lost with it.
In the end, this is his downfall.
Oh, and how he has fallen.
He hates the world he lives in now. There is nothing remaining to love, and so he hates instead, because it is all he has left to do. He cannot turn back, and as much as he despises what he has become, the dark still draws him in with its seductive embrace. It promises what it will never deliver, and he knows that, but he follows anyway, because his warped and damaged mind fixates on one thing: anger is better than pain, and he doesn't want to feel the agony of what he's lost... or what he never obtained.
It all comes down to what Padme couldn't give him.
It was foolish of him to expect her to anyway.
They were right: Obi-Wan was right, Yoda was right, and the council was right. Love was his undoing. Padme was his undoing. Maybe if he'd recognized how right they were, he never would have proved why they were also so entirely wrong.
They were right and wrong, a contradiction and a riddle, and everything that he doesn't understand... and no longer wants to.
Leaning his forehead against the transparisteel window in front of him, Vader closes his eyes and forces himself not to think of a beautiful face and light laughter, drifting across the lakes of Naboo. He will not think of it, because it can no longer exist. It is no longer who he is.
This is his truth... and he knows it just as surely as he knows that there is death, and that the Force is steeped in darkness.
So much darkness.
It is, he is sure, a truth that will never change, because, in the end, it was all about what he couldn't obtain.
Padme could never give him life.