Mist surrounded the lake retreat like floating wraiths. As the old-fashioned chronometer chimed midnight, Padmé Naberrie Skywalker stood at the bedroom window watching a shadowy figure enter a secret door concealed within the outer walls of the building. She closed the elaborate drapes and turned to finish lighting the floral-scented candles. Minutes later, there was a knock at the bedroom door in a pattern known only to Padmé and one other. She opened the door and stepping out of the hallway was her beloved husband, Anakin.

Wordlessly they fell into a tight embrace. They just held each other for several long moments, enjoying nothing more than the reality of the others' presence. The sweetest sounds Padmé had heard in a long time were her husband's heartbeat and his gentle breathing.

Finally they pulled apart far enough to see each other's faces. Anakin had physically changed since their wedding. The jawline had become firm and defined. His eyes were sharper. He looked less boyish, less innocent. He had experienced far too much.

But he was still as handsome as ever and he was still her love. Once they gazed into each other's eyes, a familiar spark caught fire. Their lips met in a powerful kiss. It was a kiss Padmé felt throughout her body. Instinctively her hands reached inside Anakin's cloak and they moved up and down his back. She pushed the cloak off his shoulders and it fell to the floor.

He grinned at her. "Nice to see you, too."

She smiled back at him self-consciously. "I'm sorry, I'm just so happy to have you home safe and it's been a while..."

"It's been a while for me as well," he reminded her, initiating another kiss.

Then he swept her slight frame up in his arms and held her close to him. She rested her cheek against his shoulder, luxuriating in the warmth of his body, breathing in his slightly spicy scent, and feeling his quickening heartbeat. Ever so gently, he lay her on the bed.

He looked down at her with the burning intensity of a supernova. "I wish to do only one thing now," he said. "My lady's pleasure."

Padmé's breath caught in her throat.

He slowly undressed her, his eyes seeming to memorize every inch of her flesh. After leaving her bare, he discarded his own clothing and climbed up on the bed with her.

He worshipped her with his eyes, his hands, his lips, his tongue, and his teeth. Sometimes she closed her eyes, sometimes she watched him. He bathed her in his love, coaxing alive every nerve in her body until she felt jolts of electricity all over. She was writhing feverishly, moaning his name over and over again until his mouth silenced hers with a deep, hungry kiss. It was then he plunged into her, quick and sudden. As she held him tightly to her, they moved in a dance as old as life itself. She wrapped her legs around his waist and dug her nails into his back. He trailed kisses across her face and throat, all the while softly rasping out her name. Their movements quickened and she then felt the white-hot explosion in her body spread from her head to toe over and over. She cried out and moments later, he gave his own shouts of ecstasy as she felt his warm seed fill her.

For several long moments they lay together still coupled. Then he gently shifted off to the side, looking at her warmly.

"You're glowing," he said. "You're so beautiful, my love."

"Men glow too," she said teasingly, wrapping his padawan braid around her finger.

"I'm just glad to be home with you," he said with a wistfulness in his expression that tugged at Padmé's heart. But she chose not to say anything more. They lay quietly in each other's embrace until sleep claimed them both.


The next morning Padmé awoke reaching out for Anakin, only to find him sitting up in bed, staring out at the far wall.

Padmé sat up and reached around Anakin's waist, caressing his hardened torso and chest as she gently placed her lips between his shoulder blades. "Good morning, Ani." The ranginess of his post-adolescent form was evolving into that of a man. It pleased her. But she could tell her love was troubled, distracted. "What's wrong?" she asked.

"I'm sorry, Padmé. I was just thinking. Sometimes I wonder how you could love one such as me," he said with a familiar melancholy.

Padmé sighed. "Ani, don't..."

"You have no idea about the horrors I've seen, the destruction and chaos the Separatists have caused. It tears at me. And there are times when I fear the darkness within me, that someday I could snap again like I did on Tatooine..."

She shook her head. The devoted friend, the steadfast protector, the loving husband, the young man full of life and good humor, the gifted and heroic Jedi...that was her Ani. What he'd done that terrible night after his mother's death was an aberration, an out-of-character moment for someone torn apart by grief and horror. It had haunted him since and Padmé had comforted him in those times.

Padmé turned Anakin to face her. "Listen to me. You're a good person. I've seen your heart and it's full of love and compassion."

He smiled sadly at her, taking a stray curl of her hair between his thumb and forefinger.

"Every time I encounter something wonderful...the stars in the sky, the sunrise, a rose, a painting, the laughter of a young child, I see a little bit of you in it. You're everything that's good and right about life. You're my light in my darkest hours. I can't tell you enough how much I love you."

He took her hands into his own and kissed them.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close to her, whispering, "Let me show you how worthy you are of *my* love." She kissed him full and hard on the lips, parting them with her own and invading his mouth with her soft, slow-moving tongue. As they kissed, she gently lowered him onto their bed.

Padmé kissed his forehead, the tip of his nose, his cheeks, and his chin. She traced her full lips across his jawline. Then she teased her tongue on his earlobe before gently nibbling on it. He trembled as the sensation tickled and aroused him at the same time.

Padmé continued moving her lips down to Anakin's throat, pausing to lick his adam's apple. Her hands explored his defined shoulders and smooth, broad chest. Playfully, she pinched his nipples, bringing a smile to his lips. Then she lowered her head and began teasing one of the hardened nipples with her tongue and teeth. He sucked in his breath and arched his back. Then she traced her lips down to his hard, smooth abdomen reaching around to caress his firm buttocks.

Then she began the business of pleasuring him. She tantalized him with her hands, lips, teeth, and tongue, driving him to delirium.

She stopped her ministrations and for a moment he looked at her, panting heavily, as though to say, "Why'd you stop?!" Padmé answered his unspoken question by straddling him and inserting his hardness into her. They both gasped at the sensation of joining. For a long moment neither one moved. Then instinct kicked in as Padmé began slow rocking motions, grasping onto his shoulders.

She varied the rhythm of her movements, increasing their timing up to a fever pitch. Soon she was riding Anakin as though he were a bucking untamed beast. He moaned and grunted as he thrust wildly. Sweat broke out on his forehead and just above his lip. His cheeks turned bright pink, then red. Unable to keep his hands off of her, he moved them up her thighs, over her buttocks, up her sides, then finally cupping her breasts.

Padmé loved the feel of his hands there; even the mechanical hand felt warm and light to the touch. She closed her eyes and reveled in the primal pleasure of him inside of her and the friction as they moved as one. The climax hit her like a sudden thunderclap. She threw her head back and screamed, "Anakin!" Her heart pounded loudly in her ears as she trembled with ecstasy. Moments later, he cried out her name as the warmth of his seed filled her.

An exhausted Padmé collapsed forward into Anakin's arms. Still shaking, they lay together a few moments. The room was silent save for their panting. Then she looked into his eyes and they smiled wearily at each other.

"Have I proven to you that you deserve my love?" she asked, gently playing with the curls at the back of his neck.

"Well, I don't know...perhaps if you offered more proof..." his smile widened.

"How's this for proof?" She started tickling him.

"Padmé! No...stop!" he laughed. Then his hands found her most vulnerable spots and he began tickling her.

They dissovled into fits of laughter as they mock-wrestled, their burdens for the moment forgotten.