"I realize all too well that additional security might be disruptive for you, but, perhaps someone you're familiar with: An old friend, like Master Kenobi."
Padme's heart leapt at the name, for she hadn't heard it in ten years - at least not spoken aloud she hadn't heard it. In her head, and in her heart she'd heard it, though not very often. Padme was queen for another seven and a half years after Obi-Wan left Naboo, and immediately following the conclusion of her last term, she became a Senator. Sometimes though, perhaps at night, or when a few peaceful moments found her, Padme would think of Obi-Wan, and she would wonder about him: What was he doing? What planet was he on? Or was he on Coruscant, at the great Jedi Temple? Did he ever think of her? But most of all, when she thought of Obi-Wan, her heart would warm and she wouldn't be able to fight the involuntary smile that surfaced to her lips, and the blush that warmed her cheeks.
Master Windu's thoughtful voice interrupted her brief reverie, "That's possible - he's just returned from a border dispute on Ansion."
"Do it for me, milady, please," Chancellor Palpatine pleaded with Padme, "The thought of losing you…is unbearable."
To Padme, the Chancellor's words sounded sincere, so she decided not to argue further.
"I will have Obi-Wan report to you immediately, my lady." Master Windu said to her.
"Thank you, Master Windu," Padme said, nodding. He bowed to her in return.
While waiting for Obi-Wan to arrive, Padme looked out at the early evening Coruscanti skyline and thought of him. She wondered idly if he'd look different. Of course he would, she thought, it'd been ten years after all. She thought back ten years, to that time on Naboo, when she, as a young queen, and he, as a Jedi Padawan had met, gotten to know each other, and formed an innocent, yet strong friendship. The day before Obi-Wan left Naboo had been a happy day, a day full of celebration for peace. The day before that, however, had not been a happy one, and that's the day that was on Padme's mind now.
Padme, or Queen Amidala once again, for she was now permanently out of her guise as Padme, the queen's handmaiden, looked into the flames of the pier. Of course she was attending Qui-Gon's funeral, for she owed him her life. He was a significant part of the liberation of Naboo from the Trade Federation. Though, she couldn't forget about Obi-Wan, either, who single handedly killed the Sith Lord that had stalked them on both Tatooine and Naboo.
Nor could she forget that he was standing right next to her.
She knew Obi-Wan was grieving for the loss of his Master and friend, and she wanted to comfort him. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Obi-Wan turn and look at Anakin.
"What will happen to me now?" Anakin asked Obi-Wan in a confused voice. This made Padme's heart ache for him as well.
"The Council has given me permission to train you. You will be a Jedi, I promise." Obi-Wan vowed to the little boy.
Padme was touched beyond words. Obi-Wan turned his gaze back to the flames, and without thinking about it, Padme reached for his hand and gently clasped his large hand with her own small one. He turned to her and she looked up at him, pleased to see a small smile, a smile she returned, silently telling him everything would be alright. He seemed to believe her, for he rearranged their hands so that her tiny hand was enveloped inside of his, giving it a gentle squeeze. They looked into each other's eyes a moment longer, and then both looked once more into the fire.
The next day, Padme rode through the streets of Theed with Obi-Wan at her side. The queen smiled as she waved to her people, who were cheering, happy once again. The children threw white petals onto the streets from the balconies above, and those children and the ones lined up on the streets blew kisses to their queen. Padme laughed as she returned them, happy to see their delighted faces.
She turned to Obi-Wan. Padme was grateful that he was here - she'd insisted upon it. For this victory did not just belong to her. Chancellor Palpatine had said to her that she should be the one to be congratulated. Padme couldn't accept that though, for Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan deserved a large part of those congratulations.
"I'm glad it's over," Padme said to Obi-Wan. "I've gone to war, but I value this," she looked toward the smiling faces of her people, "above all: Peace."
"Peace is what we strive for," Obi-Wan told Padme, meaning the Jedi, the selfless peacekeepers of the galaxy. "And I hope you will never have to do battle again. But, I'm not sure how completely we can choose our fates."
"Are all Jedi so wise?" Padme asked him with a smile.
Obi-Wan shrugged, thinking. "Qui-Gon was a wise Jedi, the wisest I've ever known, and ever will know. He actually told me a few days ago that I was wiser man than him, which I find hard to believe."
"Qui-Gon was very wise, but so are you, Obi-Wan. But, you're right though, about fate."
"Aren't I always?" Obi-Wan smiled.
"Yes, alright? You're always right, I admit it." Padme said, looking him in the eyes, laughing a little.
Obi-Wan laughed freely, and Padme smiled as she shook her head. When the laughing had finally passed, she was looking straight ahead, to the steps of Theed Palace, when she said to him,
"Fate works in mysterious ways."
"So does the Force," Obi-Wan said simply.
Padme turned to look at him in amazement, and Obi-Wan just stared back, a small smile on his lips.
Padme was forced to come back to the present when she heard Jar Jar's voice announcing that the Jedi had arrived.
She turned and smiled, seeing Obi-Wan walk through the door. His hair was lighter than she remembered, and much longer. He also had a beard, which Padme thought made him look even more handsome, and older in a good way. She was still smiling as she walked toward him.
Obi-Wan bowed low to her, and she noticed that the tall young man dressed in black behind him.
"It's a great pleasure to see you again, my lady." Obi-Wan said.
And when Padme's hand slipped into his, he meant the words even more, and he was brought back to Naboo, ten years ago. But just as quickly, he was brought back to the present, when he looked at Padme's face, realizing how beautiful and even more flawless she'd become - no longer a fourteen year old queen, but a lovely young woman.
"It has been far too long, Master Kenobi," Padme said with sincerity.
Her voice sounded like music to Obi-Wan. Both of their hearts were pounding.
They smiled at each other, and then Padme tore her gaze away from Obi-Wan's blue eyes, and into another set that were almost the same shade blue…Anakin! She finally recognized him. She could hardly believe how tall he was, towering over her, towering even over Obi-Wan.
"Ani? My goodness you've grown," Padme remarked.
"So have you. Grown more beautiful, I mean. Well, for a senator, I mean," Anakin struggled with his words.
"Ani, you'll always be that little boy I knew on Tatooine," Padme smiled to break the tension.
Then they moved over to the couches to discuss the matter at hand.
"Our presence here will be invisible, milady, I can assure you," Obi-Wan said to her.
Captain Typho briefly explained the situation.
"I don't need more security: I need answers. I want to know who's trying to kill me." Padme clarified, looking at Obi-Wan.
"We're here to protect you, Senator, not to start an investigation," Obi-Wan said, also clarifying his purpose.
"We will find out who's trying to kill you, Padme, I promise you," Anakin said feircly to her.
"We will not exceed our mandate, my young padawan learner," Obi-Wan said to Anakin sternly.
"I meant that in the interest of protecting her, Master, of course," Anakin explained.
Padme watched the exchange silently.
"We will not go through this exercise again Anakin, and you will pay attention to my lead," Obi-Wan said, chiding Anakin.
Obi-Wan turned back to Padme, ready to give her his attention, but again Anakin spoke up.
Obi-Wan turned back to him, stunned. "What?"
"Why else were we assigned to her if not to find the killer? Protection is a job for local security, not Jedi. It's overkill, Master. Investigation is applied in our mandate," Anakin stated matter of factly.
Obi-Wan had turned to look at Padme during the rant, his eyes clearly apologetic. He turned back to his padawan.
"We will do exactly as the Council has instructed, and you will learn your place, young one," Obi-Wan said, speaking firmly, but quietly for emphasis.
Anakin looked down, shamed and defeated.
Obi-Wan turned back to Padme, silently assuring her that they would not be interrupted again.
"Perhaps with merely your presence, the mystery surrounding this threat will be revealed," Padme said, choosing her words carefully. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I will retire."
Everyone rose when Padme did, and Obi-Wan bowed to her once again. She wished it wasn't so hard to leave the room as it seemed, taking one last look at Obi-Wan.
That night, Padme couldn't fall asleep, as hard as she tried. But, she couldn't, not when she knew that Obi-Wan was in the very next room. From when she first heard the Chancellor say his name earlier that day, Padme had been shocked at the effect Obi-Wan was having on her. But, when she looked back ten years, to the Trade Federation crisis on Naboo, and how he'd been there through it all with her, Padme really wasn't surprised that she was feeling this, ten years later. He'd been her protector then, and here he was, protecting her again. Padme knew this couldn't be a coincidence.
She sighed, turned over, and closed her eyes. But, it was to no avail. Padme had heard their voices not too long ago - Obi-Wan's, Anakin's, and Captian Typho's. But now, she heard nothing. She assumed Captian Typho was downstairs with his men - was one her Jedi protectors down there as well? A sudden wave of courage coursed through her, and she decided to go check. Padme wasn't an expert on all-powerful Jedi powers, but she wondered if Obi-Wan - assuming he was still in the next room - could hear, even sense her tip-toeing across her room. The thought brought a blush to her cheeks.
Padme took her velvet robe and put it on, and then quietly opened her door. So much for the courage, Padme thought, for she suddenly nervous, her heart crashing against her ribs. She scanned the main sitting area of her apartment, and it didn't take long to spot him. There was Obi-Wan, standing with his arms crossed, looking out at the scene of Coruscant at nighttime. Relief washed through Padme when she could see that he was alone. She had to admit, it would've been slightly awkward if Anakin had been here, too.
Obi-Wan tried to clear his thoughts as he gazed out of the window, but he couldn't stop thinking of Padme - Senator Amidala. And apparently, neither could Anakin. If Obi-Wan would've known Anakin was going to act the way he did around the Senator, he would've had him stay at the Temple, or tried at least. It would've looked suspicious if a Master didn't include their Padawan on such a simple protection mission as this. Obi-Wan knew he shouldn't be worried - Anakin was young, but had been trained for the past ten years to discipline his mind, guarding it against distractions. Obi-Wan hoped that's what his apprentice would do now.
Suddenly, Obi-Wan felt a pair of eyes watching him, and felt Padme's Force signature, and felt in her a mix of bravery and uncertainty. He turned to see her standing across the room.
"My lady, is everything alright?" Obi-Wan asked, clearly worried because of the late hour.
Padme, seeing his concern, was quick to reassure him. "Everything's fine," She stepped out of the doorway and walked toward him, finding her voice, "I just want to thank you for protecting me. It means much to me. I'm sure there is a much more important mission you could be on right now."
They were now standing next to each other by the window, looking out at the night scene.
Obi-Wan's heart softened at Padme's humility. "But, you're wrong, Senator. As Jedi, we're keepers of the peace. And I know that you are a great source of peace in this time of rising tension," He turned to her and gave her a warm smile.
Padme returned the smile, touched. "Thank you, Obi-Wan. And please, call me Padme."
She couldn't help but grin, making Obi-Wan do the same. They were both looking out the window when Padme spoke.
"I'm…sorry about earlier. Anakin seems like he's a handful."
"You don't have anything to be sorry about," Obi-Wan said, puzzled.
"I know, you just seem frustrated, that's all," Padme explained.
"Well, you're right, I was frustrated. And, I deeply apologize for you having to see that. Anakin knows better then to be so disrespectful in front of so many, I assure you."
Padme could tell in Obi-Wan's tone of voice that he'd gone through this with Anakin before, and that he didn't like it.
"It's alright. Anakin is young. And, he's learning firsthand from the best, so it won't be long before he reaches the level of maturity that will make him a great Jedi Knight," Padme smiled.
Obi-Wan looked at her. "He is the Chosen One. Let's hope you're right."
"Aren't I always?" Padme asked, mimicking perfectly the tone Obi-Wan had used ten years ago.
Padme could tell by the look in Obi-Wan's eyes that he remembered, too. They laughed, and when it was quiet again, Padme took a deep breath, preparing to say the words she'd been dying to say since she first saw his face for the first time in ten years, not caring if they were being said too early, or if it wasn't her place. She had to tell him.
"Obi-Wan, my life was never put on hold the past ten years, with my duties as Queen and now as Senator, but sometimes, when I could find a few moments of quiet, I would think of you, and the feeling of peace would linger…and I couldn't explain why…" Padme trailed off.
Obi-Wan looked into her eyes for a long moment before speaking, "Padme, I didn't forget about you, either. I would think about my last days on Naboo. It was a sad time for me, but a happy one as well…because of you."
No words were needed for either of them. They understood. Then Obi-Wan, sensing Anakin's presence becoming stronger, looked toward the door.
"What is it?" Padme asked.
"Anakin. He'll be worried if sees you up," Obi-Wan explained, wary.
"I understand. Goodnight, Obi-Wan."
"Goodnight, Padme." Obi-Wan said softly.