Summary: A tragic reunion between Empress Amidala and Darth Vader. Treachery is the way of the Sith, and duty, not love, was always Padmé Amidala's greatest passion...
Rewritten and updated. There will be a second chapter eventually.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Star Wars franchise. This is a work of fan fiction. No profit is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.
When Angels Become Demons
When he comes to her, she is wearing a black velvet dress that leaves her back and shoulders bare. The galaxy's most precious jewels adorn her neck. Her headdress is heavier than the ones she wore as Queen of Naboo, and her fingernails are painted red instead of white.
"It is good to see you, Anakin," she says politely. To the rest of the galaxy, he is Darth Vader, but to her, he will always be Anakin, the boy she married in a previous life.
The man who ruthlessly attacked her on Mustafar, failing to kill her, but killing her unborn children instead.
He does not bow, and he speaks her title with bitterness. She is surprised that he can bring himself to speak it at all.
She pretends not to notice the resentment exuding from him like toxic radiation. "Was your mission successful?"
"Yes. I found Yoda hiding in the caves of Dagobah. He was no match for my power." His mouth twists in a grimace. "Tell my Master... The last of the Jedi is dead." Vicious yellow eyes meet hers. "And tell him that if he taunts me about you one more time, I will do something I won't regret."
After a lifetime of practice, it's easy to prevent any emotion from appearing on her face. "I'll pass the message." She takes a deep breath, resisting the urge to touch her sleeve. Then she rises from her throne. It is time.
They don't need him anymore. Her children can have justice at last.
His eyes, burning with anger and anguish, are still helplessly drawn to her. It hurts him to look at her, she knows, but he cannot resist. "Padmé..."
She hears the accusation in his voice, the confusion, the question. As if, after what he did, he has the right –
She does not correct him. She pretends she is still Anakin's Padmé, the woman who almost let love destroy her. She thinks of the sacred scroll which was the only proof of the forbidden marriage between Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker, and she pretends it wasn't she who threw it into the fire and watched it burn to ashes.
"You hurt me on Mustafar. What you did to me was an act of mindless, delusional jealousy. I was innocent of the crime you attacked me for."
"I killed Obi-Wan for the wrong reason," he admits. "I regret harming you in my anger. But you have hurt me more. You hurt me more every day."
She has hurt him more? Did she try to choke him to death? Did she kill his children?
He is blind to her growing fury. He could never see through her mask. Only one man has that ability: the one who taught her to dissimulate her emotions when she was on the verge of becoming queen of a planet.
"I understand that you wanted to make me pay, but you didn't have to go so far." His voice breaks on the last word.
She remembers a room with a crackling fireplace, tight leather binding her chest, and I will not give in to this. The first promise she ever broke, only to regret it bitterly.
"I didn't do it because of you." It is the cruelest thing she could have said.
He looks as though she had struck him. Then he scoffs – a bitter, shattered sound. "No. Of course not. I was always in second place after your duty. I should have seen it!"
Her face remains impassive, even though he has implicitly, for the second time, accused her of a crime she did not commit.
"You abandoned me! I thought you loved me." Tears fall from his glaring eyes. "You betrayed me."
She almost flinches, because she knows too well what betrayal feels like.
"I should hate you!" he spits out, almost sobbing.
"If you had listened to Obi-Wan and released me sooner, our children could have survived."
Rage and pain war on his tear-streaked face. Pain wins. "There is nothing I regret more. If I could change the past, I would. I would do anything."
He falls to his knees and gazes up at her with a tormented expression. It does not move her. She got used to being looked at this way when she was a teenage queen.
"You are right," he mumbles finally, his anger extinguished for the moment. But she knows how quickly it can return. "You have the right to punish me however you wish. I beg for your forgiveness."
She freezes the nascent pity before it can weaken her resolve.
So he still loves her. This is going to be easy.
"Oh, Anakin," she sighs. She looks away as if distressed, as if she has tears to hide. As if she is still capable of tears. "I forgive you. And I..." She makes the false confession in a voice shaking with real fear – fear that he will sense the lie. "I never stopped loving you."
To her relief, he is so desperate to believe her that he deceives himself. A fierce grin transforms his face, and his eyes change to the color of a sunny sky.
"I still love you too," he breathes as he takes her into his strong arms. "I could never stop. I will never stop. I've been doing this for you, all of it. My allegiance is only to you."
She looks down at her hands. Her allegiance is not to him. It never was. Didn't she make this clear on Mustafar? What you plan to do...
"You shouldn't have brought me back to Coruscant after... what you said and what I said. What you did. He twisted my mind and turned me against you. I did not remember how much I loved you, until today."
She is a skilled liar. A career politician. Lying was a constituent part of her job, the job that was her life, before Anakin.
"He is going to kill us both."
"Don't be afraid!" he says passionately. His eyes are yellow again. "I am the more powerful Sith. I am the Chosen One. I will protect you."
She buries her hand in his hair and kisses him. He responds with the uninhibited passion of a man dying of thirst. The same starved, unquenchable hunger for her that she always found unsettling and overwhelming. Frightening, the way she could lose herself in his passion, forgetting about duty. But that was before. That part of her died when she had looked upon the lifeless faces of her babies, who because of him never got a chance to live.
She pushes him backwards, without interrupting the kiss. They fall to the floor of her palace – yes, hers – and he finally tears his lips away from hers.
His hand trembles as he touches her face. He is no longer a Jedi, but this is still forbidden.
"Tomorrow –" he promises, eyes glinting with fire, "tomorrow, I will do what I should have done a long time ago." He doesn't actually utter his treacherous plan. Did he learn something from last time? "And then, we'll rule the galaxy, you and I. No one will stop us from being together forever."
She shudders, and has to focus on the weapon concealed in her sleeve to calm herself. She will make sure there will be no tomorrow for him.
"I'm going to destroy him for what he did to you."
What about what you did to me, Anakin? To me and to my innocent babies. Your own children!
"The people will love us, Padmé. No one will want to rebel against our Empire."
So he learned nothing on Mustafar...
He is a mistake only she can fix. She has always been his weakness.
She smiles at him with all the hope she can feign, as if she needs him. "I missed you, Ani... so much," she whispers breathlessly, tugging at his clothes with determined hands.
He is quick to comply with her unspoken command. He still treats her like a mother to obey and a goddess to worship.
"I missed you more. It was torture..."
Gently, she traces the vertical scar on his face. "Do not think about the past."
She makes sure to throw the belt containing his lightsaber to the other side of the room before she climbs on top of him, not bothering to remove her dress. "Close your eyes," she commands, and he obeys like a boy eager to please.
He suspects nothing. He thinks duty and honor matter so little to her.
She has known since Mustafar that he believed her capable of adultery and treason.
She moves her hands over his naked chest, pausing in her exploration when her right hand is above his racing heart. She examines his face a final time, committing it to memory.
Then she presses her lips to his and flicks the activation switch.
With a hiss, a flare of red light illuminates the room. Her hand, experienced in war, does not tremble.
"Traitor!" he gurgles, throwing her away from him with the same power he used against her on Mustafar. His eyes blaze with hatred as he tries to hold on to life using the Force, but it's too late. As life fades from his eyes, they lose the disconcerting intensity that once attracted her. The rest of his body follows, collapsing on the crimson carpet to move no more.
Her aim with a weapon has always been perfect.
She gets back to her feet and adjusts her dress, staring blankly at the dead body of her ex-husband. It is an unbelievable sight: the Chosen One of the Jedi prophecy, more powerful than any Jedi or Sith, killed by a woman who can't even touch the Force. As a diplomat, she always believed subtlety and cunning could overcome power – and she learned from the best.
She doesn't have the strength to look at the charred hole in his chest.
He called her a traitor.
She gazes at the fiery blade of light, beautiful and deadly. The handle feels natural in her hand, light and comfortable, nothing like when she had borrowed Anakin's Jedi weapon during the war.
A traitor? Her allegiance hasn't changed in decades, no matter what –
She doesn't count the time it almost changed, the rebellion that in the end, because of her, never was. They should never have trusted her. After all the death and suffering she had seen, how could she allow another war?
"I am no traitor. You would have... You were a traitor," she says firmly to the corpse on the floor. Execution before the trial. Execution before the crime. There was a time when she did not believe in preemptive justice.
There was a time when she believed in liberty and democracy, and relied exclusively on diplomatic solutions. But she has no right to think of liberty or democracy, she who was complicit in their murder.
For a fleeting moment, she considers plunging the scarlet blade into her chest. To hasten the inevitable. To die on her own terms.
But what will become of the galaxy without her making sure some of the Empire's prosperity is shared with all its people? Without her influence, the man she brought to power would have it all invested in armies and battle stations to repress the stirrings of rebellion, forgetting that a well-fed galaxy has fewer reasons to rebel against its government than a hungry one. His other advisors are cowards who don't dare to tell truth to power, and deluded fanatics like Tarkin, who believe one can rule through fear alone. Only she reminds him that prevention is the best strategy, and that no being is more dangerous than one who has nothing to lose.
She cannot forsake those who need her. She never could. Perhaps he, her ally and enemy, is right: compassion is a weakness. Her weakness, just as she had been Anakin's weakness.
She deactivates the lightsaber, straightens her shoulders, and turns away from the dead traitor.
Padmé would have cried. But Padmé is dead, and Amidala always does her duty.
She picks up Vader's weapon and slips it into her other sleeve. Just a precaution. She is no traitor. But she doesn't want to die today, and if she must die, she will die fighting.