Four months later…

"He doesn't matter."

"You have to tell me anyway."

"Why?"

"Because you promised."

"I did not."

"Yes, you did. We made a deal to talk about this stuff and you've somehow gotten out of it every time I try to bring it up." Before he could move, Padmé had slung herself over and was now straddling him, pinning him to the bed, which was not nearly as exciting a prospect as one might assume, given the circumstances. "You're not getting out of it this time, flyboy. Spill."

"Or what?" he grinned, eyes glued to her face in a remarkable show of restraint.

"Or else you'll never get to see me put my legs behind my head. It's pretty impressive."

His eyes went wide. "You – what?"

"Flexible genes. Sola can do it, too, but she's not the one whose bed you're in right now, is she? You going to talk yet?"

He thought about it for a moment, then smirked.

"No."

"Ani," she cried, exasperated, falling off of him back to her side of the bed. "Why the kriff won't you just tell me what you've been up to the past ten years? It can't have been that terrible. Unless you were defiling Iegoese virgins or something, in which case I want full disclosure."

Anakin didn't laugh, though he let out an odd sort of snort at the irony.

"I already told you more or less everything," he said. "And that's not even what you were asking about."

Padmé propped her elbows up to rest her head. "Anakin Skywalker, you know practically everything about me. My whole life story, where I grew up, the name of the pet bird I accidentally killed when I was eight – "

"Lord Shurra," he laughed quietly to himself. She smacked him on the arm.

"I'm serious!"

"Padmé, why does it matter?" he sighed. "We're here and now, can't that be enough?"

She stared at him for a moment, mouth slightly open. Then, before he had time to register what had just happened, she was out of bed, pulling on her underwear with impressive vigor.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm getting dressed. Then I'm going to go into the kitchen and make myself something to eat. Then I'll probably get some work done. But I'm not coming back in here until you stop being such a stubborn ass."

Anakin groaned. "Seriously, why does it matter?"

"It matters, Anakin, because I care about you," she said heatedly, though some of the volume was lost behind the light tunic she was tugging over her head. "Because I care about you, and may possibly even love you, but I don't know you. Not as well as I should, because you'll talk to me about anything – the Jedi, politics, how my work's going, shurra fruit, literally anything except what might help me understand what you're thinking every once in a while. There's this whole history, this whole part of you I don't understand, and never will until you let me in."

She sighed.

"Look, Ani," she said testily, fastening her belt over the long skirt of the tunic, "This isn't an interrogation, and I'm not trying to drag up anything you don't want to talk about. I'm just… trying to understand."

There it was. It lay between them for a moment as Anakin digested this, hands folded neatly over his bare chest. Padmé stood near the doorway, unsure of whether she should actually leave or not, and was thankfully saved from actually making any sort of decision.

"Come on," he said quietly.

"What?"

"Come on, come back to bed," he repeated. No more than a moment's hesitation passed before she jumped back into his waiting arms, curled up by his side. Absentmindedly he began running his fingertips along the exposed skin of her arms.

"No interruptions?" he asked.

"No interruptions."

"Promise?"

"Promise."

"Okay."

But despite the tiny lead-in, Anakin fell silent. Padmé's ear close to his bare chest picked up on every trace of his steady inhales and exhales, the rise and fall of his breath.

"I have no idea who he was," he said finally, gazing straight onwards, never ceasing the gentle brush of fingertips up and down her bare arm. "The council thinks – Qui-Gon thought – I was conceived by midi-chlorians, but it's a moot point."

"Why?"

"Because I was born in a brothel," he answered flatly. "It was a weird in-between. We'd already been sold – I'd made Mom useless to them – but the cantina didn't want us until I was born. Well, they didn't want to pay until I actually existed, the brothel didn't want to let her go without full payment – you can see how it might get complicated."

"I'll have to take your word for it," would have been Padmé's response, but she had promised, and lay there silently. Already this was far above anything in her experience, but at least he was finally talking.

"So there was the cantina for a bit," he continued. "I stayed upstairs usually while Mom was working – not that I remember any of it, keep in mind, I was three when we were sold again. Most of my memory is just Mom's stories. Except the blasters. I remember the blasters."

He fell quiet again for a moment.

"You told me when we met that you came to Mos Espa when you were three," said Padmé quietly, half-fearing he would suddenly decide he had said too much, that there would be another shouting match to open him up once more.

As it turned out, her worries were pointless.

"We were lucky. Ish."

"Ish."

"Slaves are sold for any reason, but usually it's a simple matter of business. The cantina was doing poorly, and it was less hassle to keep on the Rodian who didn't have a kid. Mom and I were lucky that we stayed together as long as we did."

"You said 'ish.'"

"You said you wouldn't interrupt. I'm getting there."

"Sorry."

"I don't know what kind of depraved bantha poodoo you have to be to consider Gardulla the Hutt's palace 'luck.' We were only there for two years, but it was… it was enough. The things I saw there… you wouldn't believe half of them, Padmé. The smell alone you probably wouldn't believe. Those are my first real memories. Just that smell, and having no room, and trying to stay close to Mom all the time. And that smell." He wrinkled his nose in disgust, as though the stench of the Hutt were right in that room, still with him after all these years. Which it might very well have been.

Anakin shifted under her and began to breathe normally again.

"Afterwards," he said, "I tried to forget about it. But some memories leave marks."

He raised his left pointer finger, the one that was large and stiff and didn't bend properly, and pointed at a thick patch of skin on his opposite elbow – bone had clearly punctured it there once, long before. It began to stray up behind his shoulder before Anakin thought better of it. Padmé knew what he would have found there. Naïvely, she had assumed that the network of silvery lines were courtesy of some freak battle accident. But they were stretched and embedded and nearly the exact color of his skin, a constant companion since childhood, she realized now.

"Every scar has a story," she breathed, and he kissed the top of her head.

"You shouldn't have to know about this," he said. "No one should, if they can help it."

Padmé frowned. "If we don't know about it," she said, "how do we help?"

Anakin looked at her for a moment, looked very hard, then kissed her full on the mouth. Yes, she dared to think for a moment, yes, maybe everything's going to be just fine.