Summary: Love is one of the most precious, powerful, and magical emotions in the universe. Love blazes its own path and breaks all the rules. When you find love, you have to hold on to it. You have to own it. You have to shout it from the rooftops. Life is too short to let love go to waste, and there is absolutely nothing that should ever stop you once you find it.
Or, five ways Anakin and Padmé never said 'I love you', and the one way they should have. Sequel to "This Free Fall"
Disclaimer: I own nothing!
A/N: This is a new idea that I'm trying out – I've been working on it for a while. Basically, it's six short AU stories about our favorite couple. You decide which story is the one that should have been. =)
Where You're Meant To Be
I'm not afraid to die. I've been dying a little bit each day since you came back into my life.
What are you talking about?
I love you.
I. "But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?"
"What exactly are you saying, Anakin?"
"Palpatine… he doesn't like that we're together. And I don't want you to get hurt. I'm afraid of what he'll do…"
"Its just," Anakin hesitated, unconsciously biting his lip. "Between your Senate duties and my duty to the Army and the Chancellor…we never get to see each other anymore. And, I guess, I'm just wondering if it's still worth it."
"I don't care what he wants, Anakin. I don't care if we have to keep it a secret from him! I won't let him tear us apart."
"I understand that we have busy schedules, Anakin, but I can't help that anymore than you can," Padmé replied. "There's a war going on! Everyone's personal time has been put on the backburner."
"We'll have to make it look like we've broken up. And just my word won't be good enough. We'll need it to be a big fight, with witnesses, in a public place."
"Time, yes, but relationships? Padmé, even when we do have a few days to ourselves, it's like you're not even there!" Anakin shouted. "All I ask is for a few hours where it can just be us, and yet you insist on bringing your work home with you!"
"Then I'll do it. Whatever it takes. I'll shout and yell and insult you for the whole world to hear if it means you're still mine."
"My work is important Anakin!" Padmé yelled back. "And I will not just put it aside and forget about it simply because you decided to come home for the weekend!"
"And that, angel, is why I love you."
"Oh, and my work isn't important?" Anakin demanded. "I risk my life everyday to make this galaxy a better place. And this is the thanks I get?"
"You love me?"
"You want thanks?" Padmé scoffed. "That is your job. Don't ask me to thank you for doing something that you chose to do."
"More than anything."
Anakin froze at her words, and the silence in the hall was deafening. Padmé knew that people were watching, listening in on their conversation, but at this point she didn't care anymore.
"Well. I suppose if that's how you see it, then we really don't have anything else to say to each other," Anakin said.
"No, I suppose not," she snapped.
"Good day, Senator."
"Good bye, General."
Later that night, when Anakin snuck into her penthouse and slipped a ring on her finger, Padmé knew that she would do this the rest of her life, if she had to. She would yell and curse him, she would ignore him and act indifferent, and she would pretend like she hated his very existence.
Because she loved him, and she wasn't willing to give that up for anything.
II. "We will take care of each other, won't we?"
"Why?" he cried. "Why did you stop me? Why did you insist on coming with me?"
Padmé paused, dropping her hand from where she had been rubbing his back. His words weren't meant to hurt her, but to question her reasoning. It was only yesterday that she had been reprimanding him for his inappropriate attentions, only a few days ago when she had ended their stolen kiss in rushed embarrassment. And now, here she was, on Tatooine in the Lars' homestead garage, minutes after rescuing Shmi Skywalker's body from a tribe of Tusken Raiders. Her mistress had thought her to be crazy when she had asked to go. Padmé hadn't even questioned her actions until now.
It had just seemed like something she had to do. Anakin had told her about his nightmares, revealed his intentions to go to Tatooine and find his mother, and she had instinctively offered to come with him. It was only right that she be with him now, just as Anakin had been with her all those years ago, after losing her family in the Blockade of Naboo. No matter how strained or awkward their relationship had been of late, she was still his friend, and she would always be there for him.
And as it turned out, it was a good thing she had come along. Anakin had just been so angry…she suppressed a shudder as she considered what would have become of the Tuskens had she not been there.
"You were there for me," she replied. "How could I not be there for you?"
"But why did you stop me?" he persisted. "I mean – I-I'm grateful that you did… but they deserved it. After what they did to her… death was the least they deserved."
Padmé was frightened by the glint in Anakin's eyes, by the determined set of his jaw. He knew that killing the Sand People was not the Jedi way, but if she hadn't been holding him back, Padmé was sure he would have slaughtered them. Every last one of them, without a single thought. This whole trip Anakin had been surrounded by such… darkness. And he had only sunk further and further into the dark after Shmi's death. She was afraid that if she didn't do something now, he would never be able to pull himself out.
"I stopped you because killing them would have haunted you for the rest of your life," Padmé told him. "I know that right now you would like nothing more than to head back to that village and make them pay for what they did – but it won't help. It won't ease your pain – it would only add to it. And it won't bring your mother back – it would only tear more families apart."
Taking Anakin's face in her hands, she slowly wiped away his tears.
"I couldn't stand by and watch the man I love destroy himself," she whispered.
"You love me?"
Padmé nodded, tears building up in her eyes.
"I always have, Anakin. And I promise you, that I will always be here for you. No matter what happens."
Overwhelmed with emotion, Anakin pulled Padmé towards him, enveloping her in a warm, tender embrace. And Padmé buried her face in his chest, breathing in the scent that was uniquely Anakin. They stayed that way for hours, crying together, whispering their love for one another, and simply holding each other. It wasn't until Beru came looking for them that they bothered to leave the garage.
Anakin held her hand as Beru lead them up to dinner. And even though Padmé knew it wasn't a good idea, knew that this would forever change their relationship, she found that she didn't want to let go.
III. "Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme…"
Vader swept into the nearest empty room and turned around, instantly shutting the door behind Senator Amidala and himself. She may be a proud, powerful woman, but this time she had gone too far.
"What were you thinking!" he demanded, his mechanical voice thundering across the room. Padmé, to her credit, did not flinch at his anger – she met it head on.
"I was doing my job, my lord, until you saw fit to undermine my position," she answered.
"Your job is to see to the welfare of your people and the citizens of the Empire," Vader growled. "It does not concern my duties and my trips to other systems!"
"You have not even finished establishing a military base here on Naboo!" Padmé exclaimed. "How is the base supposed to be up and running by the end of the month if the Emperor has you travelling to Hoth and back before then?"
"My missions have nothing to do with you and your precious planet," he replied. "My first priority are the needs of the Empire, and if Emperor Palpatine has need of my services elsewhere, then I will go there. It is not your place to interfere."
"Forgive me for being worried for you," she snapped. "You know that a mission to hunt down that vile creature is practically suicide. Why not have one of your precious Moffs do it?"
"Ventress has become a threat," Vader explained. "And I am the only one with the ability to dispose of her. It would be in your best interest, Senator, to forget about my well-being. You will put yourself in danger if you continue to make a scene about my imminent departure."
"Why do you let him control you?" Padmé demanded, completely ignoring Vader's warning. "He treats you like his puppet, pulling your strings, sending you across the galaxy to fix every little problem in his perfect little Empire. Have you no care for your own life, that you willingly risk it whenever he demands it?"
"I RISK MY LIFE TO DEFEND THE EMPIRE!"
Padmé took a step back and for a minute there was silence as the echo of Vader's scream reverberated throughout the room. The mechanical sound of the Sith Lord's breathing was all that could be heard, until he finally spoke.
"I do my duty, just as you do yours," he said. "Why are you so concerned about this?"
Padmé bit her lip and stared at the ground, before bravely raising her eyes to meet his.
"Because I love you."
Vader heard himself choke on his own breath.
"Yes, I know that's impossible to believe, but it's true," she continued. "And no matter how horrible and evil you are, I believe that there is still a part of you, deep down, that wants to be good. And while there is breath in my body I will fight for you to be free."
And with that Padmé left the room, leaving Vader to accept the unbelievable realization that not only had an Imperial Senator fallen in love with him, but he was truly, deeply, in love with her.
IV. "I have a bad feeling about this…"
The room was dimly lit, and Padmé inched closer to Anakin, trying to ignore the brush of blasters against her back. She could hear Threepio and Artoo arguing quietly in the background, and she allowed herself a small smile that even in the direst of situations, her droids never changed.
The storm troopers brought them to a halt in front of a large, mechanical pit. There were several small creatures scurrying about, working on the machinery, and behind them stood their captor, and their charming host.
As Count Dooku turned away from an obviously frustrated Mace Windu, Anakin took a step forward, contempt written all over his face.
"What's going on, Master?" he growled. Mace flexed his jaw, but said nothing about Anakin's sarcastic tone. After betraying herself and Anakin to the Emperor's right-hand man, Padmé didn't think he even deserved to keep the title of Jedi Master. She could think of plenty other, more colorful words for him.
"Count Dooku has decided that you are both too valuable to be transported to the Emperor in your… present state. He has made other arrangements for you," Mace responded, not meeting Anakin's eyes.
"What sort of arrangements?" Anakin asked.
"You're both being put into carbon freeze," Mace informed them. Padmé gasped as Anakin scowled viciously at his former ally.
"Are you insane?" Anakin demanded. "This machinery was never meant to freeze living, breathing, humans! You're going to kill us!"
"The Count has already taken precautions for that," Mace muttered. "You have nothing to worry about; you will simply be in hibernation for the duration of your journey to Coruscant."
Anakin glowered at Mace, and Padmé watched as his fists clenched and unclenched, until finally he stepped back from the Jedi Master and returned to her side. She found herself slightly disappointed that he'd backed down, but there were, of course, more important things to worry about at the moment.
Count Dooku stepped forward then, and with a nod at the two rebels, turned to the storm troopers behind them.
"We're ready for them," he said.
The storm troopers silently stepped forward, and all of a sudden reality hit Padmé in one heart shattering moment. They were going to die. If not by this crude machine, then by the hands of the Emperor as he tortured them for information about the Alliance and tried to turn them against their friends. Even if they did survive the freezing process, once they reached Coruscant, Anakin would be whisked away from her, forced into performing the Emperor's bidding, while she was thrown in some cell deep in the prisons of Coruscant, or sentenced to death for treason. All possible outcomes pointed to either death or separation, and at this point even entertaining the idea of leaving Anakin's side for a second was enough to make Padmé sick.
Because no matter how hard she had tried to deny it, the past three years she had spent with Anakin had been the most wonderful years of her life. Moving from base to base, fighting the Empire and building the Alliance with Anakin by her side, it was her own kind of twisted paradise. Even though in the past she had taken Anakin's feelings for her as nothing more than a schoolboy's crush, she had finally recognized that what Anakin felt for her was real. And without even realizing it, she had fallen for him as well.
And she'd be damned if she died before she got to tell him that.
As the first storm trooper stepped forward to lead Anakin towards the freezing chamber, Padmé swung around and rammed her knee into the lower half of his body armor, effectively knocking him over. As the remaining three storm troopers swarmed on her, she kicked and punched and struggled with all her might, Anakin screaming at her over the ruckus, but it was no use. She was no match for three trained soldiers, and within minutes she was in hand-binders, with three blasters aimed at her chest.
"Give me a minute to talk to her," she heard Anakin say, trying to placate a very irritated Count Dooku.
"You get one minute, exactly," Dooku snapped. He signaled to the storm troopers to step back, and Anakin hurried forward, his hands running up and down Padmé's arms and over her face, checking for any injuries.
"What were you thinking, trying to take on four storm troopers?" he demanded, half worried and half amused by her antics. "You're lucky our lives are so valuable, they could have – "
"I couldn't let them take you from me," Padmé cut in. "I don't want to lose you Anakin – I can't lose you."
Anakin stopped his fussing and cupped Padmé's face in his hands, looking into her eyes. "You're not losing me Padmé," he promised. "It's just another sticky situation, and we'll get out of it, just like we always do."
"How can you be so positive about this?" Padmé cried. "We're officially prisoners of the Empire, we're about to be frozen and dragged off to Coruscant where the Emperor will do Force-knows-what with us, and he might kill you Anakin, and I would die if anything happened to you, I swear, I couldn't bear it – "
Anakin's lips over hers silenced any further worries about their situation and Padmé simply gave into the kiss. For those few, blissful seconds, she thought of nothing but the feel of his lips against hers, of his fingers on her face, and his body pressed flush against hers.
And all too soon, Anakin was yanked from her grasp as the storm troopers marched him over to the carbon freeze, Padmé being held back by a blaster tip in her back – a friendly reminder to stay put.
"Anakin!" she cried. Her beautiful Jedi kept his gaze locked with hers as he was tied in place, and even as her vision blurred from the tears she couldn't wipe away, she could tell that Anakin never once let on that he was scared or worried. He merely stared at her, silently promising that they would be all right.
"I love you," she breathed.
She didn't think he would be able to hear her, but Anakin's face broke out into the most brilliant smile she had ever seen.
"I love you too, angel," he said.
Shortly after that, Padmé vaguely remembered Obi-Wan and Ahsoka entering the room in a blaze of blue and green and a cry of outrage. Her hands were freed and Anakin had somehow managed to avoid the carbonite, and then they were making their escape through Cloud City, outrunning Dooku and his minions as they raced towards the Falcon. How any of this happened, Padmé would never be able to say. What she did remember, with perfect clarity, was the way Anakin's smile shone like the sun when she told him she loved him, and the way she felt her heart soar after hearing his reply.
V. "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."
It had been a hard battle, she could tell. He had come in and barely managed to mumble hello before attacking her lips with his own. Soon clothes were ripped off (he did have a knack for destroying her favorite outfits) and they were on the bed, and speech wasn't even possible for a long time.
The first time was rough and a bit painful, but she knew him well enough by now that she understood his process. He had to get his anger out first, his rage at the injustices of the war, his frustration with the Jedi Council, and (maybe, hopefully) his aggravation at being separated from her for so long. It was over fairly quickly, but it wasn't long until he was ready for more.
The second time was always slow, and gentle, and very much focused on her. The first time was a way to comfort and reassure him, but the second time around was all about her, worshipping her body and silently expressing his appreciation for her.
And then, right as her world was about to shatter into a million, tiny pieces, Anakin grunted something inaudible. But her mind was in a haze, and she couldn't even be bothered to ask what he had said.
Later, as they lay together in her bed, her head on his chest, he said it again. It was soft, and almost a whisper, but it was still there.
"I love you, Padmé."
And Padmé froze. That phrase, those words, they did not belong here. Not in this room. She was a creature of the underworld, a well-paid whore. She did not fall in love, was not allowed to love, did not have men falling in love with her.
But this wasn't just a man from the streets. This was Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, the Hero With No Fear. He wasn't allowed to love her. Just as she wasn't supposed to love him. It didn't matter how many times a day she checked the holo for news about him while he was gone. It didn't matter that every time she got a whiff of engine oil she was reminded of him. It didn't matter that she pretended every other man she had been with since was Anakin.
…Or did it?
Maybe, just maybe, she was supposed to love him. Maybe he needed her love as much as she needed his. And while what she needed didn't affect the galaxy, what he needed did. And so, she shifted lightly against him, put her lips to his ear, and whispered.
"I love you too."
VI. "Even the flutter of a butterfly's wings can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world."
"I am so in love with you."
He hadn't meant to say it, hadn't even realized he was speaking until the words had already escaped his lips, and Padmé was staring at him in astonishment. Here they were, enjoying a lovely picnic in the meadow, and he had to go and ruin it by saying that.
"Anakin… I – you – this, it can't happen," Padmé stuttered. "We have responsibilities and duties that forbid us from – "
"Why?" Anakin questioned. "Why can't this happen?"
Sure, he hadn't meant to say it out loud, but that didn't mean it wasn't true. And as long as it had been said, he was going to fight for it, to make Padmé believe that this could happen.
"Because it's – it's just not possible," Padmé protested. "You are a Jedi Padawan, you're forbidden from forming attachments and falling in love. I'm a Senator; I have a duty to my people and to the Republic. It doesn't matter how we feel about each other, this cannot happen."
"So, you do feel something then?" Anakin smirked. Her argument, while it had some valid points, was not as passionate as the speeches he was used to hearing her make. It wouldn't take long for him to convince her to see his side of things.
"Anakin, please don't be difficult," Padmé sighed. "Can you imagine the scandal it would cause if someone were to discover that you and I…well, that you and I had been…you know…"
Padmé gestured helplessly with her hands as Anakin watched in amusement. He had no intention of helping her finish that sentence.
"If you and I what, exactly, Milady?"
Padmé glared at him in exasperation. "You are incorrigible."
Anakin finally let his amusement take over and burst into laughter. Padmé huffed in aggravation and stood up, walking resolutely back towards Varykino.
"Padmé wait!" Anakin called. He quickly caught up with her and stepped in front of her, stopping her retreat. "I'm sorry, that wasn't fair. You were saying?"
"It doesn't matter anymore," she said. "Can we forget it?"
"Alright," Anakin grinned. "But only because I love you."
Padmé gasped at hearing those words again, and could only stare at Anakin helplessly as she battled with what she wanted and what she knew she could not have. The smile slowly left Anakin's face and he lifted a hand to caress Padmé's cheek. She closed her eyes as his fingers danced over her skin, and Anakin had never seen her face so vulnerable, so open to him. He gently lowered his lips onto hers, and he kissed her tenderly, lovingly, just as he had wanted to ever since their first kiss a few days ago. And this time, Padmé didn't pull away. She gave herself to the kiss, slowly wrapping her arms around him, and the couple stayed entwined for what felt like hours, simply reveling in each other.
When they finally parted, Padmé laid her head on his chest and Anakin wrapped his arms securely around her. He waited patiently for her to break the silence, and silently offered her comfort through the Force.
"I don't want to lose you," she finally whispered.
"You never will," Anakin promised.
"But that's not true," Padmé argued. "This investigation won't last forever, and eventually we'll return to Coruscant and our own lives. And I'll never see you again. I will be nothing more than an old friend, no one of importance. How can I not lose you if I never even have you to begin with?"
Anakin was silent for a moment as he contemplated Padmé's statement. She waited quietly, threading her fingers through the ends of his hair, until he had his answer.
"You're right," Anakin admitted. "It won't be easy. We'd have to keep it a secret, and steal whatever time away together that we could. But you could never lose me. You have my heart, have had it since the day you walked into Watto's shop on Tatooine and saved me from him. I've loved you every day since then, and I will love you for the rest of our lives and beyond. I promise you."
Padmé's eyes filled with tears at his words. "You really want to make this work, don't you?"
Anakin smiled. "Almost as much as I want to hear you admit it."
"Do you truly doubt it?" she asked. Anakin shrugged, embarrassed, so Padmé took each of his hands in her own and gazed into his eyes.
"I love you, Anakin Skywalker," she proclaimed. "I always have, and I always will."
And Anakin felt so blissful, so content, so alive at hearing those words, that he could not for the life of him understand why love, of all things, could ever be forbidden.