The city is quiet now, eerily so. Coruscant hasn't known an evening so deep since before the Builders came for the glory of the Republic, back in the days when the reservoirs were above ground and dark forests claimed dominion over the planet.

They have all come to a standstill, all looking towards the ruins of what was once the most revered institution in the galaxy. Still burning, still dying. Those who trust the Emperor's account of a military coup recognize the perversion in celebration, and those that don't… they know better than to say so aloud, and so keep to their apartments, their speeders, their jobs. Heads down, mourning alone for what has been lost.

Then there are the mothers. They, too, mourn for what could have been. They could have kept their babies, condemning them to a life unfulfilled instead of sending them to an unknowing death. It would be a small price to pay. They are among the nonbelievers.

What monster could have done it?

They were babies.


And then there is the silent woman, who knows, who grieves with them. Who mourns for life rather than death, and for what has not yet come to pass. For what must.

"Shall I accompany you, my lady?"

Wordlessly she switches Threepio off, a golden statue left in the center of her apartment as the shadows grow dark. He cannot come. He is Anakin's first child, his first creation of life. He has no business with death.

She leaves the apartment, leaves the shadows, the memories. She brushes away the breath of her husband's hair, the kiss of his mouth, the touch of his hand. She brushes away the doubts, and leaves them behind, too.

Anakin is dead anyway.

The starship touches down on the landing platform and she feels her way down the ramp, tall, regal like the woman she was meant to be. There is the air of death here, the kind that has nothing to do with the heat, and no one to mourn for it. Good. It will be easier that way.

The man in the hooded cloak rounds the corner, running towards her, and she lets the hilt slide down her sleeve a few inches until palm and steel nearly kiss. She waits, and lets him come to her, because the life she created with her husband protests too much. There are no questions now, no doubts. She's seen the hologram. She sees the sickly tinge in his eyes as he approaches and pulls her into his arms. There are no questions, no doubts.

Anakin is dead anyway.

No questions…

His memory will not be tarnished.

No doubts…

His eyes, those sickly red and yellow eyes, snap open and her arm, that steady arm poised to plunge down, is caught in a vice-like grip. Her throat constricts with the clutch of his hand. Wordless, breathless, she grunts with the effort to free herself and do what must be done to save the man that was. His grip does not break. Her resistance is strong, she is fighting for two. Oxygen is leaving her body, leaving it fast. The grapple continues, and she stares into his eyes, never breaking her gaze. They are not so yellow now, not so red, filled with betrayal and devastation and why?

Because you were dead.

The dagger drops to the ground, and Anakin and Padmé fall into each other's arms, sobbing, gasping for air, and I'm sorry, I'm sorry, you were dead, how could you, this is me, I'm here, shh, we're here now… we're here now.