Disclaimer: It's George's sandbox. I just play here.
AN: Here is chapter 50, the final chapter of this story. Thanks for all the great reviews. I'm glad so many enjoyed this story. Enjoy this final installment and let me know what you think!
The Awakening: The Revised Edition
Chapter 50: An Era of Peace
Anakin wrenched the bolt back into place and set his tool aside.
"Okay, try turning it over," he called to Alen. He flipped the ignition switch the engine roared to life. The other man shook his head in amazement, as Anakin closed the hood and grabbed a rag to wipe the grease off his hands.
"What the hell is this town going to do without you when you leave tomorrow?" Alen asked. Anakin smiled.
"I'm sure another mechanic will come along that's just as good as me," Anakin replied.
"Fat chance of that happening. You're one of kind, Skywalker," Alen said.
"I'll say," Padme said, as she entered the shop, carrying Aiden, while Jaden and Bella scampered in behind her energetically.
"Daddy!" two-year old Bella called, as she toddled to her father behind five-year-old Jaden. Anakin chuckled and caught them both in his arms.
"I helped mommy pack all my toys," Jaden told him proudly.
"That's good, helping mommy just like I asked," Anakin praised, as he ruffled Jaden's blonde hair.
"What about you, my tiny angel? Did you help too?" he asked his caramel haired, sapphire eyed daughter. She giggled, as he tickled her tummy.
"Uh huh, are we going on a twip, daddy?" she asked.
"Remember when I told you about Naboo?" he asked. She nodded.
"The pwetty place that's mommy's home where she was Queen!" Bella announced.
"That's right. We're going back there to live now," he told her. Bella accepted this answer. At her age, it didn't matter to her where they lived, but only that she would be with her mommy and daddy.
"Daddy…" Aiden whined, as he squirmed in his mother's arms.
"Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about you, little man," Anakin said, as he took Aiden in his arms as well.
"Good afternoon, milady," Alen greeted.
"Hello Alen, I trust that your speeder is working properly again?" she asked. He smiled.
"Of course, not that I had any doubt that it wouldn't once I brought it in here. Like I was telling your husband, I don't know what I'm going to do when you leave us tomorrow for good," Alen said, with a sigh.
"But…I understand you wanting to go back to your home planet now that you can. This whole town is going to miss all of you," Alen said. Anakin shook hands with him.
"We'll miss it here too, but maybe we'll come back for a visit," Anakin said, though he knew that they could never return here. They had to protect Aiden and even a small loophole could endanger him in the future.
"I hope so. We'll, I better be going. Thanks again for the great repair job," Alen said, as he started digging out his money. But Anakin put his hand up.
"This one is on the house," Anakin told him. Alen shook his head.
"Yep, I was right. You're definitely one of a kind," Alen mused, as he got into his speeder and slowly drove out it out of the shop.
"So, you all packed already?" he asked, as he kissed her tenderly.
"Mostly. Threepio and Artoo are finishing up and loading everything in the Falcon. And bickering every step of the way," she replied.
"Treepio and Atoo funny!" Aiden giggled. Anakin chuckled.
"Yeah, they're pretty funny when they fight, which is most of the time," Anakin said.
"The kids and I decided we needed to get out of the house for a while, so we decided to come get daddy and go to the café for dinner," Padme told him. He nodded.
"Sounds perfect to me. Alen was my final customer, so I'm all yours," he replied. She smiled and kissed him softly.
"Don't worry, we'll open up another shop back home and you'll have so many customers that you'll have to hire help," Padme said, as they joined hands and slowly walked out of the shop with Jaden and Bella trotting happily alongside them.
Sola came out of the cake shop in the small town near Varykino, carrying a large box, which contained the wedding cake she had ordered. Luke and Leia helped her to the speeder. She, Rex, Jobal, and the girls had returned to Naboo a couple days early and since they had arrived, Sola had been putting together the surprise vow renewal ceremony for her little sister. None of them could wait to see the look on her face when she discovered their surprise for her.
"Thank you both for coming early and helping," Sola told the twins.
"Are you kidding? We're not going to miss this. I mean, it's kind of the reason we're here," Luke said.
"Luke's right. If any two people deserve to have their love celebrated, it's mom and dad. I wasn't going to miss this either," Leia added.
"I know, but I also know that you both are very busy with your respective duties," Sola said. It was true. Much of the past two years, Luke had spent going back and forth between Yavin IV and to Ceres IV to visit his parents. The new Jedi Temple was finally finished on the world that had once housed the Rebel Alliance. The new Council was assembled and new Jedi recruits were arriving to be trained. But there was still much work to be done, for the Code was still in question. Some surviving Jedi were very leery of rewriting it and still unconvinced that allowing attachment would do anything but bring harm to the new Order. But Luke was an avid voice that advocated in favor of attachment and being that he had been the one to kill Vader, he carried a lot of weight. Anakin was also a member of the new Council and obviously was very outspoken about the harm of banning Jedi from being allowed to marry. He had mostly attending meetings via holocom, but upon his and Padme's arrival in Theed, the Council would finally all meet in person. Everyone was venturing to Theed to attend the two year celebration of the end of the Empire. The gala was a joint project of Pooja and Leia, as they sought to re-establish the strong alliance between Naboo and what was now New Alderaan. They were all attending the gala that evening, but the Council would be meeting after that the next day in the palace. She could tell Luke was fairly nervous about it, though he tried not to show it. But he gave himself away with his fidgeting and running his fingers through his hair. Padme had told her that Anakin did the exact same things when he was nervous about something. After the gala and the meeting, they would be returning to Varykino and that evening, they would be surprising Padme with the surprise ceremony that would take place at sunset, just as it had the first time.
"I think that's about everything we need," Sola said, seeing the trunk of the speeder packed full of things they had purchased at the marketplace.
"Yep, let's get back so we can start getting ready for the gala tonight," Luke said, as he hopped into the driver's seat. His Aunt and sister got in as well and he slowly sped off on the country road that would lead them back to the majestic family lake house.
Jaden stared at the controls with avid interest, as he sat in his father's lap, while Han sat in the passenger seat. Chewie was in back with Padme and the babies. Han was actually letting Anakin fly the ship, but he suspected it was only because Jaden wanted to help fly the ship too. Han was rough around the edges, but he was really a softy underneath his usual tough guy act. And he had a very soft spot for Jaden and the younger ones.
"Okay, it's time to bring the ship out of hyperspace," Anakin said. Jaden watched, as his father flipped a few switches on the control panel over head.
"Press that orange switch," Anakin instructed. Jaden eagerly did so and put his little hands around the control yokes, as Anakin put his much larger hands over his son's. Jaden watched in wonder, as the streaking stars stopped and they were suddenly stationary.
"Wow…is that where we're going, daddy?" he asked, referring to the blue green jewel before them. Anakin nodded.
"Yep, that's Naboo, our real home," Anakin told him.
"Mommy was Queen, wasn't she?" he asked. Anakin smiled and nodded.
"Yes, Mommy was Queen a long time ago and then she was a Senator when her term expired. But the people really wanted her to be Queen for life," Anakin told him.
"Mommy said you helped save Naboo and then you fought in the Clone Wars and saved lots of other planets too," Jaden said. He ruffled his son's sandy brown hair.
"Mommy's been telling you all kinds of stories, hasn't she?" he asked. He nodded.
"She said that you and her got married on Naboo too," he said.
"Yes we did. That was a very happy day for us, just like each day that we each of you," Anakin replied.
"Kissing girls is gross," Jaden piped up, as they entered Naboo's atmosphere. Both Anakin and Han chuckled.
"Someday you'll think differently, squirt," Han told him.
"Mister Han, I saw you kissing my sister. Does that mean you're gonna marry her?" Jaden asked. Anakin coughed suspiciously, trying not to burst out laughing at the uncomfortable look on the former scoundrel's face.
"Uh…um, well that's kind of complicated thing, kid," Han stammered.
"What does com…compilated mean?" Jaden asked, mispronouncing the word.
"It means difficult," Anakin told him.
"Why is it difficult? Was it difficult when you married mommy?" Jaden asked.
"Well, not really. I mean, at the time, the Jedi didn't allow us to marry, but I loved mommy so much that I broke the rules and I didn't really find it all that difficult to do," Anakin replied.
"Mister Han, do you love my sister?" Jaden asked. Han shifted uncomfortably and felt like it was a thousand degrees in the cockpit. Fortunately, Anakin saved him.
"That's something that's between Han and Leia, young one. Let's go back and help mommy with your brother and sister. We'll let Han land the ship for us," Anakin said, as he gave Han a knowing look before carrying his curious son out with him. Han sighed. He knew Anakin liked him, but he also knew that he wanted him to make some kind of solid commitment to his daughter as well. Han loved Leia deeply and even though commitment still scared him sometimes, he knew that it was the right thing. Leia deserved that and so much more. He was always thinking that she deserved far better than him, but she was very adamant that he was the one she wanted. He knew he had some big decisions to make and he knew he needed to make his move, unless he wanted to lose her. And he couldn't lose her. He had never been in love with any woman the way he was in love with the Princess. As different as they were, he knew he never wanted another ever again. Jaden's questions had only brought what he knew to the surface. He and Leia had a lot to talk about.
Anakin and Padme arrived in Theed that afternoon and were shown to accommodations that the new Queen of Naboo had her staff prepare especially for the former heralded Queen Amidala and her family. It seemed that Queen Reilana, even though she was only a tender age of sixteen, grew up admiring the legacy that Padme had left during her time as Queen. They had reunited with Luke and Leia and then they readied for that evening's gala. After getting the children ready, Anakin and Luke corralled them while Padme and Leia got ready.
Padme had donned an elaborate formal gown, a type of dress that she had not worn since her time in the Senate and Leia also wore one much like her own. Padme's was an elegant royal purple color with a intricate beaded design and silver trimmings. It was strapless and the bodice hugged her curves, while the skirt brushed at the floor. Her neck was adorned with a beautiful necklace piece that matched the dress, as were her ears, with matching earrings. She chose to wear her hair down though, which was the way Anakin liked it best. However, she looked at the glittering tiara she was supposed to wear with uncertainty.
"I think it's a little inappropriate for me to wear this," Padme said. Her daughter was wearing one too, but that was to be expected at an event like this, for she was the Princess of New Alderaan.
"Mom, as former Queen and one who happens to be Naboo's most beloved Queen of all time, they want you to wear it. The Queen didn't give this to you for show. I've read history and yours and daddy's funeral procession, even though it was actually fake, sprawled through the entire city for miles. Naboo was dealt a great blow by the Empire that day, but when they found out that you were merely tucked away to recover from injuries sustained by that very evil that they thought had taken you away, you brought hope back. Daddy's always telling you that you don't seem to realize the great effect you have on people and he's right. Reilana is Queen, but you will always be Naboo's true and most beloved Queen, as far as most people are concerned," Leia said, as she placed the tiara on her mother's head.
"This crown belongs on your head," Leia assured her, making Padme smile.
"Well, it was your father that was actually injured. He was dying and I…" she couldn't finish.
"Your heart was dying with him," Leia said. Just a few years ago, she had a hard time trying to fathom such powerful love, but now that she had Han in her life, she realized, even though she and Han weren't quite at the level her parents were, she knew what it was like to love another person so much that they became your whole life. Padme nodded. It was true. She knew that living without Anakin wasn't an option for her, but they had beaten all the odds and everything that evil had done to tear them apart. She knew they could now face anything as long as they were together. Padme looked at herself in the mirror and then at her daughter, who looked so beautiful as well. Her gown was a deep burgundy, also strapless with a similar beaded design and gold trimmings.
"Come on let's go wow daddy," Leia said.
"I may wow your father, but I believe you'll have a speechless Han on your hands when he sees you, sweetheart," Padme said. Leia chuckled.
"Well, leaving Han speechless would be quite a feat," she joked, as they exited the bedroom.
People milled about and there was much boisterous celebration, as Anakin and Padme mingled with Bella and Aiden in their arms. There were plenty of caretakers in the palace to watch then and they would probably take them to the nursery later to play with the other children. But for now, Padme wanted to finally show them off. Enough time had passed and she wanted to proudly show her babies off. Anakin was only too happy to do so as well.
"Padme, it's so good to see you again. I was wondering if you two were ever going to come out of hiding," Mon Mothma said, as she nodded to Anakin, acknowledging him as well.
"Well, we had planned to come home sooner, but when we returned to the safe planet where we were living, we found out I was pregnant again so we decided to stay there until he was at least a year old. This is Aiden," Padme said, even though technically Aiden was about two. But passing him off as younger wouldn't be too much of a problem. In their own ways, Anakin and Padme were both prodigies, so it wouldn't be hard for people to believe that Aiden was as well, especially considering that Luke and Leia themselves were so gifted.
"He's beautiful, just like this one. She's grown so much. Where is your other little boy?" Mon asked. Padme pointed at the darling sight on the dance floor, as Jaden danced with his older sister. Leia happily held her little brother's hands, as they danced. They had attracted quite a crowd and many of the Queen's hand maidens took turns dancing with the small, adorable boy.
"Oh I see. It seems he's quite the little charmer already. A chip off the old block, wouldn't you say?" Mon asked Padme, making Anakin blush. Padme smiled at her husband's sudden bashfulness.
"Oh definitely," Padme replied.
"Do you mind if we catch up for a bit. There is something I would like to discuss with you. Do you mind terribly if I borrow your wife, Master Skywalker?" Mon asked.
"Not at all," Anakin replied.
"Are you okay with Bella?" she asked. He nodded.
"We'll be fine, won't we tiny angel. Do you want to dance with daddy?" he asked their shy little girl. She nodded and he kissed her hair.
"I'll see in a little bit," he said, as they shared a tender kiss, before Padme walked with Mon while still holding Aiden.
"What did you want me to talk about?" Padme asked.
"Well, I've recently had several meetings with a possible ally to the New Republic and there are a few things I wanted to get your insight on," Mon began.
"Who is it?" Padme asked.
"Hapes," Mon replied. Padme was very surprised.
"That's unexpected," Padme replied, instantly suspicious.
"I thought so too at first, but they seem genuinely interested in our new cause," Mon said.
"Why all the sudden? They've always been neutral, but it's no secret that they have always hated the Jedi," Padme replied.
"Yes, and they're still not fond of them, but they are seeing the changes in the Order and I believe they are liking what they see, especially certain code changes that are being proposed strongly by your husband and son. And I believe it also helps that the Temple is no longer located on the capital world," Mon said.
"So they want to join the Republic?" Padme asked, thoroughly confused. She knew the Queen Mother never did anything unless it had financial benefit or without the promise of gaining power.
"Yes, it seems that way," Mon replied.
"What does the Queen Mother want in return for joining the Republic?" Padme asked bluntly.
"I know your opinion of Hapes is not favorable and I'll admit that they have left a sour taste in my mouth in the past," Mon stated.
"But they are very wealthy and have a very large military. The New Republic is still fairly weak and our economical status is not destitute, but we have substantial debt. An alliance with Hapes would strengthen us and deter any Imperial resistance regimes. And I don't think I have to tell you what kind of financial benefit it would be," Mon said.
"Yes, but at cost? You keep avoiding telling me what they want in return. That tells me that it's not good," Padme said. Mon sighed.
"You will see it as a terrible, unthinkable sacrifice, but I see it as a noble gesture that would bridge the gap between us," Mon said.
"What do they want?" Padme repeated. Aiden whimpered, feeling her agitation and she gently rocked him.
"Prince Isolder has taken quite a liking to Leia recently. They met only briefly after a Senate session a few weeks ago, but he was struck by her obvious beauty and grace. He has been seeking a Princess to wed and the Queen Mother has suggested a union between them that would be beneficial to all," Mon stated. Now Padme knew why Mon hadn't wanted to say anything in front of her husband. But she was about to find out exactly what she thought about the Queen Mother's suggestion and her disgust that Mon was even considering bringing it up.
"Does Leia know about this?" Padme asked in a measured tone.
"I did present the proposal to her and she quickly rejected the idea," Mon replied.
"Then there's your answer," Padme stated.
"Padme, she barely gave me time to finish. When she heard arranged marriage, she shut me down without even considering what kind of benefits she would be bringing to so many people," Mon said.
"If Hapes was so willing to join the New Republic, they would do so without us having to do something for them in return. If you know anything about a Skywalker, then you know that when we fall in love, it's usually for life. And Leia is in love with another man already. I will not have my daughter be denied the true love she desires, true love like I have with my husband. Believe me, in my days as a Queen and a legislator, political marriages were nothing new to me. But marrying someone for financial or political gain is degrading and unfair," Padme spat.
"Oh Padme, not everyone sees the galaxy as you do. Many see the fact that you illegally married a Jedi as far worse than any arranged marriage could ever be," Mon stated. Padme's eyes narrowed.
"That's because some people wouldn't know true love if it was right in front of them. And my marriage to Anakin is not the issue here. I don't care what some of your so called constituents think about our marriage. I love my husband and he loves me more than you can imagine. I shouldn't even have to justify that to you. Leia said no and you can't make her marry Prince Isolder," Padme refuted.
"There is great pressure in the Senate for this political marriage to take place. You remember what that is like, or perhaps you don't," Mon said. Padme looked sharply at her.
"I remember. That's why leaving that life for family life with the man I love was the easiest thing I've ever done. My daughter will not marry into a society of known Jedi haters. Leia's father and twin brother are Jedi, Leia herself knows the ways of the Jedi, and our youngest children will quite possibly someday be Jedi themselves. I warn you not to press the issue, lest you wish to terminate our friendship. Know that Anakin will never let you force our daughter into marriage with the Hapan Prince. Good evening," Padme said, as she stalked off with Aiden whimpering in her arms. Anakin had saw the heated exchange, though he couldn't hear what was being said from his distance. He saw Padme venture off, likely off to the gardens to calm down.
"Hey tiny angel, how about we go see all the pretty flowers out in the garden. Would you like that?" he asked. She nodded, as he picked her up and headed off in the same direction as his wife.
"That didn't look good," Satine said, as she and Obi-Wan danced, but had caught sight of what looked like a heated exchange between Padme and Mon Mothma.
"No it didn't. I warned Mon not to even press the issue of the Hapans and respect Leia's decision. I told her Padme would react like this and that Anakin would be even worse. Guess she chose not to take my advice," Obi-Wan replied.
"Arranged marriages and democracy have no place in the same sentence. I'm appalled that Mon is even letting the Queen Mother pressure her," Satine said.
"Can you imagine the blow out that will happen if the Queen Mother confronts Anakin and Padme?" Obi-Wan chuckled.
"If the Queen Mother is that foolish, then it will certainly be a fireworks display I won't miss," Satine replied with equal amusement.
"Whatever Mon was saying didn't make you very happy at all," Anakin said, as he followed her out into the gardens.
"I'm sorry for storming out without telling you. I just had to get out there for a minute," Padme replied, as she sat down on the edge of the stone fountain. Anakin sat beside her, as the children watched the water with avid interest.
"What's going on?" he asked.
"It's going to make you mad. I know you're not prone to losing control anymore, but this will push your limit," Padme warned. Anakin sighed.
"Wow…okay, I promise I won't go storming back inside like a raging Reek," he said, only half joking.
"Well, it seems that Hapes has an interest in joining the Republic…if they get what they want," Padme began. Anakin snorted in disgust.
"I really am not going to like this, am I? What exactly do the well known Jedi haters want in return for gracing us with their oh so wonderful presence?" Anakin asked sarcastically.
"They want an arranged marriage between Prince Isolder and our Leia," Padme told him, wincing as she said it. As Leia's mother, she was already outraged by the suggestion, but as Leia's already overprotective father, she knew something like this would make Anakin livid in ways only a father could understand. She saw her husband's jaw clench like it usually did when he was angry and his calm cerulean eyes become a sudden startling stormy sapphire.
"They're bartering our daughter for political gain?" Anakin ground out through clenched teeth.
"Oh they're trying. Leia refused once and somehow Mon thought coming to me with the proposal would make a difference. I told her that no one would force our daughter into a marriage that she doesn't want with someone she doesn't know, never mind doesn't love," Padme said.
"And she's still pressing the issue?" Anakin asked. Padme nodded.
"I'm afraid she will. She claims there is a lot of pressure on her to make this happen," Padme said, with a sigh.
"I can't believe that our first night back home and I'm already dealing with this kind of thing. I don't miss it Ani. After living a quiet life with our babies, I have no desire to deal with the seedier side of politics ever again," Padme added. Anakin put his hand on hers and gently kissed her lips.
"And you don't have to. You're right, no one is going to force Leia to do anything she doesn't want to do. And say the word and we'll pack up the little ones and leave for Varykino tonight," he said.
"It's tempting, but we can't. You have a Council meeting in the morning," she replied.
"You and the kids are first. Luke would cover for me. They know my position," Anakin said.
"I know, but I haven't even got to share even one dance with you. I say we go in and put the babies down and then go back to the gala for just a little while. Then we can put Jaden to bed and retire ourselves. It's early, but there's no saying we have to go right to sleep…if you get my drift," she said, a sultry edge in her voice. He smirked.
"I think I do," he replied, as they went inside, intending to put Bella and Aiden down for the night and ask one of the handmaidens to look after them, before they would return to the gala for a short time.
Luke milled about near the dessert tables, not sure what to do with himself. He had never really been to a party like this before and was feeling a little out of place. He felt someone nudge his arm.
"Why aren't you dancing?" Leia asked.
"Uh…I don't know how and I don't have a partner," Luke replied.
"There are three handmaidens in the corner over there that have been eyeing you for the last thirty minutes. You should go ask one of them to dance. They're completely smitten with you," Leia encouraged, making Luke blush.
"I don't know…" he said uncertainly.
"Go and turn on the Skywalker charm. You can have any girl you want, you just have to believe it," Leia replied, pushing him toward the girls. Sure enough, he was soon dancing with a young blonde handmaiden who looked like she was going to faint. Leia shook her head in amusement and suddenly heard someone clear their throat behind her. She turned and saw a tall, long haired ash blonde haired man standing there.
"Princess Leia, it is an honor to finally meet you in person," Isolder said smoothly, as he kissed the back of her hand.
"Prince Isolder…I didn't know you would be attending," Leia replied as politely as possible.
"It was last minute, really. When you rejected my proposal, I felt that I needed to address this in person," Isolder replied.
"I'm terribly sorry you made the trip for nothing then, because my answer has not changed," Leia said.
"That's why I came in person. I believe I can change your mind," Isolder replied.
"Well, you can't. I'm already involved with a man and I love him," Leia told him. But Isolder only chuckled arrogantly.
"Forgive me Leia, but I don't see this man. If you were mine, I wouldn't let you out of my sight," Isolder said smoothly.
"Who says I have?" Han said, as he approached. Leia had never seen him wearing anything formal before and she was taken aback by how handsome he looked, even more than usual. Han's stare penetrated the prince, as he laced his fingers with Leia's.
"Han Solo. You are?" he asked. Isolder chuckled in amusement.
"When you said that you had a man, I assumed you meant another dignitary. Not this…hired hand," Isolder said snootily.
"Hired hand? You're about to see that hand go down your throat," Han growled, but Leia held him back. Isolder chuckled.
"I would expect such uncouth behavior from a scoundrel like you. Leia, this man is not worthy of one such as you," Isolder said.
"That's my decision," Leia said, as she tried to keep Han from advancing.
"Let me punch his lights out. We'll both enjoy it," Han insisted. Leia smiled at him.
"I know we would, but this is hardly the way to handle this," Leia told him.
"You keep telling him no, but he ain't taking the hint," Han said. Leia smiled knowingly.
"Trust me, he's about to and you're going to get a good laugh," Leia promised, as she felt her parents closing in.
"Is there a problem here?" Anakin asked. Isolder scoffed and turned to the source, preparing to tell them to kindly mind their own business. But when he saw the former Senator Amidala on the arm of her Jedi husband, he quickly lost the words on his tongue.
"M…Master Skywalker, no there's no problem," Isolder stammered.
"Lady Skywalker, you are a vision of beauty," Isolder complimented.
"Prince Isolder, I didn't expect you to come all the way from Hapes for our humble little celebration here on Naboo," Padme replied eloquently.
"Naboo is a beautiful world with many beautiful women, but first and foremost you and your daughter. I have been awestruck by her prowess in the Senate as of late. She is without a doubt your daughter, indeed," Isolder said, attempting to flatter her.
"Yeah and you'd just love to get your princely claws into her too," Han spat.
"I was simply conversing with Princess Leia when this riff raff so rudely interrupted and tried to attack me. However, I am a forgiving man and I won't request that he be removed. I'm sure you can agree with me, as the parents of this lovely young woman, that he has no business anywhere near her," Isolder said, smirking smugly at Han.
"Actually, we couldn't agree…less," Padme retorted, causing the prince's smirk to disappear.
"Forgive me, milady, but surely you can see how beneficial to both our families, not to mention to the Republic, this union would be," Isolder stated.
"What I see is Hapes trying to prey on the New Republic in an uncertain, financially unstable time by promising to shower the Senate constituents with wealth if you get what you want. Believe me, there was much of this practice in the late days of the Old Republic and it was corruption like yours that left us ripe for Palpatine's picking. If you really wanted to join the New Republic, then you would do so without asking for an incentive and for you to demand our daughter's hand is an outrage," Padme spat.
"Lady Skywalker, I assure you that Hapes has on the best intentions and your daughter would be treated like a Queen!" Isolder insisted. Anakin glared at him, as he was suddenly in his face.
"My daughter is not marrying you. You would be wise not to press this issue," Anakin warned, making Isolder very nervous.
"Very well, I shall take my leave. But I assure you that you will regret refusing me," Isolder promised, though Padme knew an empty threat when she heard one.
"He was kind of a creep for someone who's supposed to be a Prince," Ahsoka scoffed.
"Yeah, what a stuffed shirt," Rex joked, as he and Sola joined them.
"I was really hoping one of you would punch him out. It would have certainly livened this party up," Sola mentioned, looking and Han and Anakin.
"Well, I say we liven it up then," Anakin said, as he led Padme to the dance floor.
"You sure put him in place. You can definitely still put a person in their place with words," he mentioned. She shrugged.
"I don't let anyone threaten the people I love and I know you don't either," she replied, as she gazed up at him.
"True, but you're the brains. I'm just the muscle," he joked.
"Oh please. You my love are not lacking at all in the brains department," she told him.
"Maybe not, but I'm happy to be your muscle," he replied.
"Mmm…I'm happy that your muscles are all mine too," she said, as she slid her hands along his biceps and gave him a sexy grin.
"I say we go get Jaden tucked in and then have our own private party," he suggested.
"I love the way you think," she replied.
"Leia…can we talk?" Han asked. She nodded.
"Of course," she replied.
"Maybe somewhere not so…busy?" he asked. She nodded again.
"The gardens are beautiful this time of night," Leia replied, as she led him there.
"What did you want to talk about?" Leia asked.
"You know, that guy had a point in there. You're way outta my league," Han said.
"Han, I love you. Social class means very little next to that," she replied.
"I know and I'm lucky to have you. I love you too and it's time I start showing it or I'm afraid I'm gonna lose you. If I did, I'd only have myself to blame," Han said.
"You're not going to lose me," Leia insisted.
"You're right, cause I'm gonna marry you," Han blurted out, stunning her to speechlessness. He then realized how that had come out.
"I mean, will you marry me?" he asked properly. She smiled, as tears welled in her eyes. She nodded enthusiastically, as she hugged him tightly.
"Is that a yes?" he asked. She pulled back and kissed him passionately, before hugging him tightly again. He sported a goofy grin on his face.
"I think that's a yes," he said.
Later that evening, the celebration soon winded down and the Queen thanked all the guests for attending, before the palace quieted for the night.
Padme waited patiently in the palace atrium for the Council meeting to conclude. Bella bounced up and down in her hover stroller, while Aiden sat behind her in the double seated contraption. Jaden was not so patient either, as he found it entertaining to run around the atrium. Fortunately the palace staff and handmaidens were very understanding.
"Jaden, come here," Padme called.
"No more running," she told him.
"But Mommy, I'm bored. When are we going to go?" he asked. Before she could respond, she saw the meeting room's door slid open and the Council members file out. Most she was unfamiliar with, but Mace acknowledged her, as he came out, followed by Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, Luke and finally Anakin.
"How did it go?" she asked.
"Pretty well. There's still some that are resistant to re-writing the Code, but fortunately, Mace's opinion carries a lot of weight and he's in favor of it. I don't think the same could have been said twenty years ago," Anakin replied.
"Much has changed and Mace is wise to change with the times," Padme said.
"Yes, I must say that before I married Satine, I believed strongly in the old ways. But I'm glad I had a headstrong padawan and a stubborn Senator to change my mind," Obi-Wan mused, making them all chuckle.
"Yeah and fortunately, we're the majority now," Luke replied.
"We all agree that moving the Temple to Yavin IV was the best first decision. The Force is very strong there and we are able to focus more on rebuilding the Order," Ahsoka said.
"Things are definitely changing, but it's change for the better," Anakin said. They nodded in agreement.
"Daddy, are we going now?" Jaden asked. Anakin smiled and lifted him up.
"We sure are, little man. Everyone else went on ahead of us, so I say we go join them. He couldn't wait to spring their surprise on Padme when they got there. Rex, Sola, Jobal, and Satine had gone ahead to get everything ready. Padme was in for the surprise of her life.
"WOW!" Jaden said in awe, as he hung over the edge of the ferry as far as Anakin would allow. He chuckled at his son's awestruck look, as he took in the scenery. His first trip here he had been in just as much awe as well.
"This is our new home?" he asked.
"Yep and if you look just over there, that's our house," Anakin said, pointing at Varykino, as they came around the bend.
"WOW! It looks like a castle!" Jaden exclaimed, making those around him chuckle.
"Yep, that's what I thought too the first time your mommy brought me here," Anakin said, as he lifted Bella up in his other arm to she could see too.
"Pwetty!" she called in awe. Padme smiled and leaned against him, as she held Aiden and Anakin gave her a soft smile. They were home at last.
As they stepped off the ferry and walked onto the veranda, Padme noticed that it was decorated with fresh flowers and she noticed that their family was waiting anxiously for them.
"What's going on?" Padme asked, as she noticed everyone was smiling at her. Anakin handed Bella off to Sola and Leia eagerly took Aiden, as Anakin took Padme's hands in his own.
"What have you been up to?" she asked coyly.
"Well, this is something Sola and I have been cooking up for a while now. Our wonderful family did most of the work and I know it's still a couple weeks before our anniversary, but now that we're home, I thought it would be really great to renew our vows. We didn't get to have a wedding with our friends and family as witnesses and now we can," Anakin said. Tears were already slipping down her cheeks, as he got down on one knee.
"Padme Skywalker, will you marry me again?" he asked. She nodded eagerly.
"Yes…" she cried. He stood up and took her in his arms. She laughed, as he spun her around and their lips met passionately.
"Well, let's go baby sister. We need to get you ready, because you're getting married again in just two hours," Sola said, as the women whisked her away into the house.
"Daddy, I thought you and mommy were already married," Jaden said. Anakin smiled.
"We are little man, but when mommy and daddy got married the first time, we had to keep it a secret so no one got to come to the wedding. I know it's hard to understand, but this just means that mommy and daddy love each other and you kids so much," Anakin explained. Jaden accepted his answer, as Obi-Wan came to stand beside him.
"I'm glad I got invited this time," Obi-Wan joked. Anakin smiled.
"Me too, I'm glad you're here Master. And you should have been invited the first time," Anakin replied.
"No, I wasn't enlightened enough then and probably would have tried to stop it. Then none of us would be here," Obi-Wan said. Anakin smiled humbly, as they went to prepare themselves.
Padme sighed, as she look in the mirror, looking as beautiful as she did on her wedding to Anakin the first time.
"You ready, baby sister?" Sola asked. She nodded. The other women had donned matching dresses, yellow in color, and they had even dressed Bella in a similar yellow dress.
"Mommy, you look pwetty!" Bella called. Padme smiled down at her tiny daughter.
"Thank you sweetheart, you look so pretty too. Let's go show daddy how pretty we look," she said, as she took her daughter's tiny hand in her own and they started down stairs.
Anakin waited beside the Holy man that Rex had shuttled to their home. The first time Anakin had married Padme, he knew it was right. He had known it was right since the moment he laid eyes on her. But their first marriage had begun with an ominous calm in the midst of a war that had erupted in the galaxy. And their union had been kept a guarded secret for almost three years. But today, they would renew their vows in front of the people that they loved most, including their five beautiful children. Obi-Wan, Rex, Luke and Han stood beside him, as they caught a glimpse of the women slowly coming in. Jobal had never admitted believing in Aiden's miraculous rebirth, but she loved her grandson as much as her other grandchildren and happily sat down to witness the ceremony with him in her arms. He was still too young to know what was going on, but he was safe and surrounded by people that loved him, so that was all he needed.
Leia slowly walked in first, holding a bouquet of flowers and approached her father, giving him a soft kiss on the cheek.
"I love you daddy," she said. He smiled.
"I love you too princess and you look as beautiful as your mother," he told her. She smiled and took her place across from Han. Ahsoka came in next and took her place across from Luke, as Sola, Satine, and Ani followed, taking their places as well. There were chuckles and giggles coming from everyone, as they next watched Jaden and Bella walk in. Jaden was walking too fast and had to stop to wait for Bella, who tossed flower petals. She started out just tossing one and then she got excited and started tossing them by the handful. Jaden waited impatiently for her, as he held the pillow with the rings on it like he had been instructed. They finally reached their family and Jaden stood in front of his older brother, who patted him on the shoulder. Bella stood in the middle, not sure what to do now and Anakin knelt down. She grinned and ran to him, as he took her in his arms.
"I throwed the fowers like aunt Sola said," Bella told him.
"You did and you did a wonderful job. Mommy and I are so proud," Anakin told her.
"You and mommy is getting married?" Bella asked.
"Well, mommy and I are already married, but we're having this ceremony to renew our vows to each other," Anakin replied, knowing she really wasn't going to understand.
"How come?" she asked.
"Because mommy and I love each other so much. You'll understand when you're older someday, tiny angel. Can you go stand by your big sister for now?" he asked. She nodded and trotted over to stand in front of Leia. He stood up, just as Padme entered and he suddenly felt all the air leave his lungs. She floated toward him like the angel he knew she was. She had stunned him with her beauty before, in fact, she did so on a daily basis, but to see her like this made him speechless.
"Are you an angel?" he whispered to her, as she reached him. She smiled, her cheeks warming at his charming words.
"Just yours, my love," she replied, as they turned to face the Holy man.
"We have gathered here today to witness the vow renewal of this couple, Anakin and Padme Skywalker. I am here only to officiate and they will speak the words from their heart, but I must say, in the few minutes that I have been here, never have I witnessed such true, pure love between two people. Speak your vows to each other from your hearts and proclaim your love publicly," the Holy man said.
"From the moment you walked into that junk shop on Tatooine, I knew you would be the love of my life. Some would have said that it was silly of me to think I was in love, since I was only nine at the time, but growing up as a slave, I knew true love when I felt it since the only other person in my life that loved me was my mom. But you changed everything. Just seeing you for the first time, your very presence, showed me that true love was real. And then, when we met ten years later, I had grown up and you were still the same, as were my feelings for you. And I knew how impossible it should have been for us to be together, but I loved you so much that I didn't care about any of the rules that were supposed to keep us apart. I just knew that as long as I had you, my life would be complete. Being your husband is by far the greatest honor of my life and I promise to continue to make sure that you know how much I love you each and every day. I will never, ever take you for granted, because I know how lucky I am to have you and how lucky we are to be together. We've been through so much, but we made it because we refused to give up or lose faith in our love. If I have to choose one lesson to teach our children, it is that love can conquer any darkness or evil and that you must never lose faith in it. There…was a time that I believed that only more power could ensure that I could keep you close and safe. But fortunately, thanks in no small part to your love, I realized that power would only destroy the man you loved and replace him with something evil that you could never want. Your love literally saved my life, I know that with every fiber of my being. You are the greatest blessing in my life, as are our children, and I will spend the rest of my days loving you, cherishing you, and protecting you," Anakin said passionately, as he gently brushed away a few of her tears that were slowly sliding down her beautiful face.
"Oh Anakin," she cried, as she tried to quell the strong emotions inside her for the moment so she could speak her own vows to him.
"You are the love of my life too. I didn't even believe true love existed until you came back into my life. How could I when all around me was evil and corruption constantly. But you…you changed everything in my life for the better. You showed me true love made the impossible very possible. Your unconditional love humbled me and the more I tried to fight my feelings for you, the more I realized how trivial those reasons for not being together truly were. Suddenly, all I could find were reasons why we should be together. You made me happy and I wasn't happy before you came back into my life. There were times that I didn't even care if I lived or died, because I was only a public servant. But you made me realize that there was such more to my life than that. That's when you became my life. You saved me too, in more ways than one. You're my husband, my handsome protector, my Knight in shining Jedi armor," she said, smiling at him, as he looked down shyly at her praise.
"You are the greatest blessing in my life as well, as are our children, and I will love you for eternity. I will also spend the rest of my days loving and cherishing you. You've made my life more whole and complete than I ever imagined possible. I'm still in awe that you did all this for us, but then again, I shouldn't be surprised. You've always been so romantic, so much more than I believed I deserved. I love you so much and I will spend the rest of my life making sure you know how much," Padme promised, as they turned back to the Holy man.
"It is without a doubt that we are in the presence of true, powerful love. The Force has truly blessed this union and your vows have again reinstated the promises you made to each other upon your first union. May the Force continue to bless this union and the family you have created. You may kiss your bride, just as you did on the day you first took her as your wife," the Holy man stated. Anakin and Padme smiled at each other, as their lips met in eager passion. Their family and friends applauded and their young ones ran to them. Anakin and Padme embraced their little ones, as they commenced with a celebration reception with their loved ones. There were still a great many things that were uncertain in the galaxy, especially with a young and struggling new government. But freedom had been restored to the galaxy, thanks to the love of one family. They knew that despite the uncertain times that the galaxy would flourish prosperously once again, especially with their two oldest children involved in much of the New Republic's design. As for them, they knew their love had brought them through the worst of times and now they would continue to raise their family, as they were finally home in the place they had always dreamed of raising their children. Nothing and no one could ever come between them ever again.
"I love you Anakin...so much," Padme said passionately.
"I love you too angel. I've loved you since the moment I laid eyes on you and I'll love you for eternity," Anakin replied.
"And I, you, my love," she said passionately, as their lips met again in a soul searing kiss. The Force had been brought back into balance by their love and the galaxy flourished in the light of the Force again. Peace had been restored, a peace that was created by the incredible love between two extraordinary people. A love so powerful, true, and unconditional that it transcended all obstacles and overcame the darkest of evils. Through it all, it shined with the light of the Force, banishing the darkness to the shadows.
And to think, it all began when a little boy first laid eyes on a girl he would always swear was an angel in a run-down junk shop on Tatooine...