"The Naboo Chronicles"- Chapters 1 – 3

"The Naboo Chronicles"- Chapters 1 – 3

STANDARD DISCLAIMER: The Star Wars characters belong to George Lucas. The others belong to me. I'm not making any money from this.


Chapter 1

"No!" Padmé yelled. "It will never happen! I will not allow it!"

"The twins have a midichlorian count that is almost off the scale," Anakin reminded her.

"I don't care if they are the living personification of the Force, they are only four years old, and they are not leaving this planet!" she said.
"They must be sent to the Temple, Padmé." Anakin said in what he thought was a reasonable tone of voice.

"I forbid it," she said coldly, angrily. "We of the Naboo do not send our children away!"

"They are my children too," he reminded her quietly. "They must be trained in the ways of the Force. They will be powerful Jedi one day. Master Yoda has foreseen it."

"They will be trained here or they will not be trained at all," she said just as quietly. "Go and tell your Master Yoda that the Queen has spoken."

Sabé sat at her dressing table, gazing into the mirror. For the past two weeks, she had been desperately trying to ignore the message her body was sending her. She knew she must do something soon, but exactly what she should do eluded her. There was a tap at the door. Sighing, she rose to answer it. Two small children stood in her doorway.

"Mummy and Daddy are fighting," little Leia said, her brown velvet eyes large and serious.

"They're fighting about us," her brother Luke added. "I think we must have done something very bad, because Daddy wants to send us away."

"Oh my precious little ones," Sabé said, kneeling and taking the troubled children into her arms. "You haven't been bad, and your daddy doesn't WANT to send you away," she reassured them. "He wants you to go to the Jedi Temple to be trained so you can grow up to be Jedi Knights just like him. You'd like that, wouldn't you?" Sniffling, Luke nodded.

"Mummy won't let him send us away," Leia said suddenly. "I know it. She wants us to be trained here, and she ALWAYS gets what she wants." Sabé had to smile at that. Would that that were true for me as well, she thought. Suddenly, she winced as Luke hugged her tightly, pressing her swollen, tender breasts painfully against her body.

"Not so hard, Luke," she gasped. "You're a big, strong boy. You must be more gentle." He lowered his head.

"Sorry, Aunt," he said. "I didn't mean to hurt you." And his hug shouldn't have hurt, she thought. She sighed, firmly pushing the growing certainty to the back of her mind.

"Trained your children must be!" Yoda's holographic image insisted. Queen Amidala leaned forward on her throne. Anakin stood on her right, arms crossed, frowning.

"They are not leaving this planet," she told him with cold finality.

"Understand, you do not." he sighed. "Resisted the lure of the Sith your husband did. Even so, hiding somewhere still the Sith Lord is. Training an apprentice he may be. Crucial your children are if we are to fight the Darkness. Born for this purpose they were."

"I have tried to explain - " Anakin began.

"Master Yoda," Padmé said quietly, cutting her husband off. "Understand this: under no circumstances am I sending my children to the Jedi Temple for fostering. I care not if they were born for it. They will be trained here on Naboo or not at all." Yoda sighed, bowing his head in thought.

"Very well," he said quietly. "Master Windu I will send. Formally test them, he will. Decide how to proceed afterwards, we shall." Padmé nodded.

"Then it is well," she said. Yoda raised his head. To Padmé's surprise, he was smiling with approval.

"A formidable opponent are you, Your Majesty. Your strength and determination your children have inherited. Powerful Jedi they will be, powerful Jedi."

"We will see," she said. Yoda shook his head, still smiling.

"May the Force be with you, Queen Amidala of Naboo." The hologram winked out of existence. Padmé turned to her husband and smiled.

"I think that went rather well," she said. He shook his head.

"It certainly went better than I thought it would," he replied. He smiled. "I wonder if anyone has ever stood up to Yoda before," he mused.

"There is a first time for everything, my husband," she said, smiling.

"Where could she be?" Padmé asked, irritated. She hurried up the corridor that housed the handmaidens' suites. "It's not like her to forget her duties." Rabé shook her head.

"I saw her last at the briefing last night," she told Padmé. "She was careful to tell us all we would need to know about the meeting today, but she made no mention of leaving the Palace. Perhaps she is still asleep."

"I doubt it, Rabé," Padmé said. "I doubt she's ever overslept even once in her life." The handmaiden shrugged.

"I see no other explanation, Your Majesty," she replied. They had reached Sabé's apartments, and now Padmé stopped and rang the door chime. After a few moments without a response, she rang it again.

"Sabé?" she called. "Are you in there? It's Padmé." She rang the buzzer again, her brow creased with worry. "Sabé?" Rabé gave the Queen a nervous look.

"I don't like this, Your Majesty. Something is wrong."

"I agree," she said quietly. She moved to a panel beside the door and began punching in the lock override codes. The doors slid open. "Oh my gods!" she cried. Sabé lay facedown on the floor in her dressing gown, a spreading pool of crimson beneath her. The Queen ran in and knelt at the handmaiden's side, feeling for a pulse. She looked up at Rabé, who was riveted to the spot in shock. "GET HELP!" Padmé screamed. Rabé fled.

Palpatine was only half-listening to the debate going on between the Twi'lek and Neimoidian representatives. It always seemed to be the same story: each side wanted all the concessions without making any of their own. He sometimes wished he were once again simply the senator from Naboo. For one thing, the senator from Naboo could have left when things got unbearably boring. The Supreme Chancellor could not. He sighed. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a small pod carrying a senate page and his personal assistant floating towards his podium. His PA had a worried look on her face. As the pod reached his podium, Palpatine held his hand up for silence and turned to give his attention to the new arrivals.

"What is it, Sara?" he asked his PA.

"Queen Amidala called. She says you must go home at once."

"Why? What's happened?" She lowered her eyes.

"Someone you care for is very ill," she said quietly. Her eyes swept over the thousands of beings that waited expectantly for things to continue. "It would not be proper to discuss it further here." He nodded.

"Very well." He turned his attention back to the assembled Senate, trying very hard not to allow his apprehension to show on his face. "I have an emergency at home I must attend to," he told them. "Bail Antilles of Alderaan will chair the proceedings until my return. The Senate is adjourned for the morning."

"You must come home, Chancellor," the Queen's holographic image told him. She looked tired and worried.

"Yes, my secretary is making the arrangements as we speak," he replied. "Please, tell me what's happened."

"It's Sabé," Padmé said quietly. "An hour ago I found her unconscious in her apartments. She has lost a lot of blood."

"My gods, what happened? Was she attacked?"

"No, she was not attacked. She…"

"She what?" he demanded. Padmé sighed.

"She has suffered a miscarriage," Padmé finally said.

"WHAT?" He was stunned. "I had no idea she was pregnant."

"Nor did I. And she told no one else, evidently. The healers have taken her to the medicenter. As I said, she has lost a great deal of blood. The healers say she has an infection in her womb, and that the infection has gone into her blood. They are giving her massive doses of antibiotics, but I am afraid…" she sighed and her shoulders slumped. "I am afraid she is not expected to live." He closed his eyes and put his face in his hands. Finally he spoke.

"I will be there as quickly as I can."

As it turned out, the quickest way for Palpatine to get back to Naboo was aboard the ship chartered by the Jedi Council to carry Master Windu to the small Outer Rim world. Palpatine spent most of the two-day journey sequestered in his cabin, calling Padmé so many times for updates on Sabé's progress that he began to believe that his bill for calls would rival the budget of a small planetary government. Master Windu went to see him once to ask if there were anything that he could do to help.

"I'm afraid not, Master Windu," Palpatine sighed. "Not unless you are capable of long-distance healing." Though it had been said lightly, Windu saw the hope in Palpatine's eyes, the hope that Windu would say, 'Of course, old fellow. Let me just sit down here and meditate for awhile and everything will be fine.' He laid a hand on Palpatine's shoulder.

"She will live, Chancellor"

"Oh yes?"

"Yes. I have seen it. I have seen her - " Abruptly, he fell silent, frowning. How can this be? he thought. I must meditate.

"You've seen her what?" Palpatine asked, bringing him back to the present.

"It's not important," he said. "Get some sleep. All will be well."

"Let me guess," Palpatine said. "You have foreseen it." Windu beamed.

"See that?" he said gently. "Now you're catching on!"

The Royal party waited silently for the transport to land. A full compliment of guards, commanded by Captain Panaka, stood at attention around them. As protocol demanded, the Queen and her handmaidens stood apart from Anakin and the children. Queen Amidala looked pale and worried, while her husband looked tired and apprehensive. The children, picking up on their parents' moods, were quiet and subdued.

"Your Majesty," Palpatine greeted the Queen, bowing formally. She nodded, suddenly unable to speak as tears flooded her eyes. Silently, she stepped forward to embrace him. Anakin watched her, a slight frown on his face. Though he had been a Jedi Knight for quite some time now, he remained in awe of Master Windu, and he had desperately wanted to impress Windu with all of the pomp and circumstance of the Naboo Court. His wife's behavior detracted from the stately atmosphere he had hoped to achieve.

"Master Windu," he said, stepping forward. "Please forgive my wife's inattention to protocol." Windu smiled benevolently.

"Of course, Anakin. Those two have a lot on their minds now," he said, gesturing towards Padmé and Palpatine as they walked arm in arm towards a waiting hovercar, the Queen's handmaidens trailing a respectful distance behind. "But as I told the Chancellor, the young woman will live."

"Are you sure, sir?" the small towheaded boy asked. Windu knelt, putting himself on the child's level.

"Am I sure? Of course."

"How do you know?" his sister asked. Windu smiled.

"I have seen it."

"Through the Force," Luke said. It wasn't a question, but he nodded anyway.

"That's right."

"I see things all the time," Leia told Windu. "I see things that aren't there anymore. Sometimes I dream about things that haven't happened yet. Daddy said not to worry about it." In a flash of vision, Windu suddenly saw this serious little girl grown to adulthood, a regal, somber young Jedi Knight. He blinked and saw her again, older now, robed and crowned as the Queen of the Naboo. He blinked again, dispelling the vision.

"And what about you, young man?" he asked Luke.

"Sometimes I dream that I'm a Jedi like Daddy," he said quietly. "Mostly I dream about Daddy, though. I dream that he and Uncle Obi are fighting a man in a long black robe." Windu looked up at Anakin and saw his shocked expression. He gave Anakin an almost imperceptible nod. Though Windu would formally test them, there was really no need. He knew in his heart that these children were born Jedi and must be trained at all costs, even if it meant allowing them to remain here on Naboo for the duration. As he listened to the children babble about their favorite toys and the games they enjoyed, he began thinking about how he would present the situation to Yoda.

Sabé felt like she was floating in a dream. She felt lighter than air, as though if she could only figure out how to let go, she would go floating off into the sky like a balloon. She dreamed visions. She saw a man in black robes standing on a balcony overlooking Coruscant. He stretched out his hand and closed it into a fist, crushing the empty air.

"My baby," she moaned. "Ah gods, he's crushing my baby, he's killing my baby!" She surfaced briefly, hearing people around her speaking with a sharp clarity that made their voices sound unreal.

"No, Chancellor, she doesn't know what she's saying."

"You'll have to leave now. She's going into shock again."

"Your Majesty, please. You both must leave." She felt a needle slide into her vein, and once more she drifted. She heard someone calling her name.

"Mom?" she asked hesitantly.

"I'm here, Sabé." It was indeed her mother - but her both of her parents had died years ago in a Trade Federation concentration camp. That would mean…

"Am I dead?"

"Not yet, sweetheart," her mother told her. "But if you stay here much longer, you will not be able to go back."

"I don't want to go back! I want to stay here with you!"

"It is not your time yet, Sabé. Your tasks among the living are not yet complete," her mother told her. Sabé felt herself being pushed. "You must go back."

She was being pushed harder, squeezed and compressed, then a sudden sensation of confinement. Ah, but I wanted to float away… Slowly she became aware of a myriad of discomforts: needles in her arms, a dull thudding in her head, and the parched feel of her mouth and throat. Worst of all was the slow cramping ache in her abdomen as her empty womb clenched around nothingness. She opened her eyes.

"Sabé? Can you hear me?" She turned her head towards the sound of Palpatine's voice and smiled weakly.

"You're really here," she croaked. "I thought I dreamed you."

"Of course I'm here," he murmured, stroking her hair.

"I dreamed… many things," she said hoarsely, recalling her vision of the man in black robes. She shuddered.

"Are you thirsty, darling?" Palpatine asked solicitously.

"Yes." He held her head up so she could sip from a cup of water he held.

"Better?" he asked. Lacking the energy to nod, she simply sighed gratefully. She looked up at him. His clothing was rumpled, as though it had been slept in for a couple of nights. There were circles under his eyes and a few days' worth of stubble on his face.

"You look like hell," she told him, smiling.

"You're not exactly a beauty contest winner yourself at the moment," he said, but he was smiling too. "You don't know how happy I am to see you awake," he said quietly. He squeezed her hand. "I thought I'd lost you, Sabé."

"You won't get rid of me that easily," she told him jokingly.

"You're awake!" Padmé exclaimed from the doorway. She hurried into the room. "We were so worried about you!" Gently, she took Sabé's other hand. "How do you feel?"

"Like Palpatine looks," she replied, a glint of humor in her eye. Padmé glanced up at him.

"That bad, huh?" she commiserated jokingly. Sabé laughed weakly.

"You try sleeping - or, rather, napping intermittently - in this chair for three nights and see how you look, Your Majesty," he said tartly. Padmé smiled.

"He hasn't left your side since he arrived, Sabé," the Queen told her. "If I hadn't brought him food, he would have starved."

"I had no idea he cared so much," Sabé replied, and this time there was no humor in her tone. Padmé shot Palpatine a look. "I'm surprised the medicenter personnel allowed him to stay here like that," Sabé continued.

"Well," Padmé said, "I seem to recall a rather heated discussion between the healers and the Chancellor on that very subject. As you can see, he got what he wanted."

"I usually do," Palpatine murmured.

"I have tested Anakin's children, and it is as we expected," Mace Windu told the holographic image of Yoda. "Both are intelligent, intuitive, inquisitive, mature for their age, and extremely gifted with the Force. True Jedi material." Yoda nodded.

"This I have sensed. Often it is so with twins. Doubled the Force power is in them. Brought here for training they must be." Windu shook his head.

"The Queen will never allow it," he told Yoda.

"Mmm… yes, dealt with her once concerning this matter already I have. Stubborn she is," Yoda noted.

"Anakin wants to train them himself right here on Naboo."

"Two Padawans he cannot have. Forbids it, the Code does," Yoda reminded Windu.

"I was thinking of remaining on Naboo to train one of the children, while Anakin trains the other," Windu told him. Yoda considered it.

"No other way, is there?"

"No, Yoda. I don't see another way. The Naboo are an introspective, isolated people - isolated by choice. They do not send their children to the Temple for instruction. Why, they do not even test their newborns for midichlorians. If we want to see these children trained as Jedi, it must be done here."

"Still out there somewhere the Sith is." Yoda said suddenly. Windu nodded.

"Yep. Don't think for one second that I forgot about that. If he somehow got his hands on these kids…"

"Disastrous that would be." Yoda sighed. "Like this I do not, but no other way is there. There on Naboo they will be trained. No choice in this matter do we have."

"I want you to know, Yoda, that I don't like this any better than you. I will begin the training as soon as possible." Yoda shook his head.

"Trained as Jedi they must be, but here at the Temple you are needed. Remain on Naboo to train one of the children you must not. Obi-Wan Kenobi I will send. Trained Anakin, he did. Anakin's child he will train as well. Only fitting is it."

"That may not be a bad idea," Windu mused. "Jedi Kenobi can keep an eye on the situation here." Yoda's ears perked up.

"Something else you have on your mind, yes? Sense it I can." Windu smiled. He should have known he couldn't hide his thoughts from Yoda.

"The Lady Sabé, who is first among the Queen's handmaidens, has miscarried a child. Chancellor Palpatine traveled with me on the transport to be by her side."

"His child it was?"

"I don't know, I guess it must've been. On the transport, when I spoke with the Chancellor about Lady Sabé, I had a vision. I saw two children of hers, as yet unborn. A son and a daughter, twins, grown to adulthood and robed as Jedi." Yoda frowned.

"Strong with the Force this handmaiden is?" Windu shook his head.

"I don't know, I haven't seen her. She is being released from the medicenter today."

"Go to her you must," Yoda told him. "Determine you must if the Force is in her."

"I was planning to do just that at the first opportunity," Windu replied. "Presumably she will be brought here to the Palace when she is released."

"Only natural would it be for you to visit and inquire about her health," Yoda said shrewdly.

"That's exactly what I was thinking. Not that this would be the first time you've read my mind. If the Force truly is with her, she must be watched. She is far too old to begin training, but any child she has must be tested. Jedi Kenobi can see to this." Yoda sighed.

"Before us our tasks are. Priorities we must have. Arrange for the training of the Skywalker children we must now. Time enough have we to worry about children yet unborn. May the Force be with you, Master Windu." Windu returned Yoda's smile as he prepared to end the communication.

"May it be with you as well, old friend.

"Master Windu has tested Luke and Leia," Anakin told Padmé. They were alone together in their apartments in the Palace. "They are exceptionally gifted. He and Master Yoda agree: they must be trained." She turned to regard him with a regal stare.

"Again I remind you, they are not to leave this planet."

"They won't have to leave, Padmé. Obi-Wan is being sent here to take Leia as his Padawan learner, and I will take Luke as mine. I assume you have no objections to this course of action, my wife?"

"No," she said quietly. "As long as they remain here, I have no objections. And I will be pleased to have Obi-Wan here at Court again."

"Our children will be – "

"Powerful Jedi," Padmé finished for him. "Yes, I know. Yoda has foreseen it. Forgive me, my husband, if I am not as enthusiastic about this as you. The Naboo have never been overly impressed with the Jedi Order. We feel it is not well done of them to demand of parents that they send their children away for fostering at the Temple from earliest infancy."

"The training must begin when the student is young," Anakin reminded her.

"Yes, and I understand there are very good reasons for it. I simply do not agree with it, and you would be hard pressed to find a Naboo who does."

"Would it be better for Force-gifted children to be burdened with an ability they can neither understand nor control? To be plagued with visions of things they do not understand? To be shunned as witches, sorcerers, and worse?"

"There are no such things as witches and sorcerers," Padmé said firmly. "Any educated person knows they are only tales to scare children."

"Yes, any EDUCATED person knows that," Anakin said. "And that is the key. Not everyone is educated. Some people allow their fears to rule them. How many who were gifted with the Force have been burned, crucified, or martyred for only doing what comes naturally to them?" Padmé shook her head. "Is it better that they remained with their families only to end up suffering such fates, or even destroying themselves by playing around with a power they didn't understand?"

"I don't know, Anakin. I don't have the answers. I can only tell you what we Naboo believe. We believe our children belong with us. And after all, there is no reason to argue, my husband. We are both getting what we want, aren't we? The children will be trained, but they will remain with us where they belong." He nodded in agreement.

"How goes it with Sabé?" he asked, changing the subject. She sighed.

"I don't know. Palpatine and I brought her home this afternoon. I must say, she certainly doesn't seem like herself. I know not whether it is grief or simply exhaustion that makes her so subdued. I worry for her."

"Palpatine is still with her?"

"I suppose so, unless she has sent him away."

"What? Sabé send Palpatine away? Does that really seem likely?" he asked teasingly. Padmé sighed.

"I would not have thought it likely before, but it seems so now. Something has changed in her. It is a hard thing to lose a child. May the gods protect us from such a thing."

"May they indeed," Anakin agreed fervently.

"You should not be out of bed," Eirtaé scolded Sabé, who was simply happy to be back in her own apartments in the Palace. "The Queen will be cross."

"The Queen is not here," Sabé pointed out tranquilly.

"The Chancellor will be cross, then," Eirtaé continued, undeterred. "And you cannot tell me HE is not here. I have heard the shower running." Sabé shrugged.

"Let him be cross, " she said. "I am weary of being in bed. I spent over a week there, you know."

"Unconscious." Eirtaé reminded her.

"Even so," Sabé said. "I have no intention of going back to bed, and I care little if that makes anyone cross."

"Ah, that sounds like the Sabé we all know and love," Palpatine said, walking in from the other room. He had shaved, showered, and put on fresh clothing.

"Chancellor," Eirtaé greeted him, bowing. He gave her a slight nod. "Our patient here is most stubborn," she told him.

"Yes, I've noticed that," he replied, smiling.

"Perhaps you will have better luck getting her into bed." His eyebrows shot up, and the young handmaiden blushed, realizing that her words had connotations other than she'd intended.

"Some would say I've had a bit too much luck in that particular department recently," he mused dryly.

"Ah, I only meant - " the handmaiden stammered.

"You are dismissed, Eirtaé." Sabé said icily. Mortified, the handmaiden bowed out of the room.

"Poor girl," Palpatine murmured, smiling in amusement. He went to the sofa and sat next to Sabé.

"Your appearance has improved considerably," she told him. She reached up and smoothed a stray lock of his hair, still damp from the shower.

"As has yours." Gingerly, as though he feared she might break, he took her in his arms. She leaned against him and sighed. After a moment, she spoke.

"They can say what they will about us, but one thing remains: we both clean up nicely," she observed.

"I'm sure that's the least of what they're saying about us," he murmured.

"Didn't you hear? I was hospitalized for 'exhaustion'." She snorted. "Do you imagine anyone is actually foolish enough to believe such a tale? You know, it was almost humorous to watch the healers and the nurses going out of their way to pretend that they didn't know the real reason you were there with me. Ah well, at least everyone was polite enough to our faces."

"Sabé, when you are well, I would like you to return to Coruscant with me."

"I would like that, Palpatine, but I cannot. I have my duties to the Queen to think of."

"You don't understand," he said. "I want you to be my wife." She gaped at him in astonishment.

"Your wife?" She shook her head in disbelief. "Well, you're a bit late. In case you haven't heard, I lost the child. There is no reason for you to feel obligated to marry me." He winced at the bitterness in her voice and held her more tightly against him.

"I know you lost the child, Sabé. Believe me, I know. I also know I almost lost you, and losing you is something I find I cannot bear to contemplate." She looked into his eyes.

"You're serious," she finally said, astonished. "You really want to marry me." He smiled.

"Of course I'm serious. Do you want me to go down on one knee and beg?"

"Would you be able to get back up?" she asked archly.

"Very funny." She smiled up at him.

"Yes. If the Queen permits it, I will be your wife."

Partial text of Jedi Master Mace Windu's report to the Jedi Council regarding the situation on Naboo:

DATE: 501.09.0075

Obi-Wan Kenobi has arrived on Naboo to take Leia Skywalker as his Padawan learner. I believe that under the tutelage of Kenobi and Skywalker, the Skywalker children will grow up to become two of the most exceptional Jedi of our times.

Queen Amidala has formally announced the engagement of Lady Sabé to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Though I cannot sense the Force in either of them, I strongly advise the Council to watch any children they may have. The visions sent to me by the Force have not played me wrong yet.

The mystery of the hidden Sith Lord continues to trouble me. I mention it only because I sense a connection between this worrisome situation and Naboo. I am unable to determine what the connection might be, and I remain uneasy. Though Anakin successfully resisted the temptation to turn to the Dark Side and become the Sith Lord's apprentice, I fear that this Sith, whoever he is and wherever he comes from, is not finished with Naboo or the Skywalker family just yet…

Chapter 2

Palpatine woke in misery. His stomach burned. His head throbbed. His throat ached. He squinted his eyes against the bright morning sunlight that poured in through the bedroom window of the small house he maintained on Naboo. Why was he so miserable? Oh yes, the bachelor party, he remembered. What on Naboo ever made me think it would be a good idea to allow Anakin and Obi-Wan to plan that event for me? As was usually the case when those two were involved, there had been alcohol — lots and lots of alcohol. He sat up in bed and caught sight of a pile of objects in the corner of his bedroom. One of them appeared to be the Queen's crown of office. Oh dear, almost forgot about the scavenger hunt…

"Hey, Palpster, you gonna sleep all day?" Anakin asked cheerfully from the doorway. Obi-Wan stood behind him, casually propped against the doorframe.
"I would like to," he croaked. "However, I imagine that that would irritate a lot of people."
"Think so?" Anakin wondered.
"A few at least, this being my wedding day and all." He sighed and hauled himself out of bed.
"You look terrible," Obi-Wan informed him happily. "Wait until Sabé sees you standing there at the altar. She might go running back up the aisle."
"She'll be totally traumatized by such a frightening sight," Anakin continued. "So she'll keep running - up the hall, down the stairs, and out of the Palace. She'll run to the nearest nunnery and go into seclusion for the rest of her life."
"He'd be lucky if she didn't do that even if he looks like he normally does," Obi-Wan observed.
"Oh very funny," Palpatine said sourly.

Sabé stood in an alcove outside the Palace ballroom. She looked down at the bouquet of flowers she carried and saw that it was shaking. I wonder why my flowers are shaking, she thought. Oh, my hands must be shaking.
"Are you OK?" Padmé asked. Sabé took a deep breath and nodded. "There's nothing to be nervous about," the Queen continued. "This will all be over before you know it."
"Where have I heard THAT line before?" Sabé asked no one in particular.
"Don't worry, Aunt. I have the ring right here," Leia solemnly assured the nervous bride. The tot held up the gold band for her inspection. Sabé laughed.
"Child, that was the very last worry on my mind, I assure you," she told the little girl.
"Why are you scared?" Leia asked. "You're getting married. You're supposed to be happy, not scared."
"Don't pester your aunt," Padmé told Leia. The little girl shrugged. She thought her question quite reasonable. Grown-ups never seemed to make any sense.
"I wonder how it goes with Palpatine," Sabé mused. "I know Obi-Wan and Anakin were planning some sort of drunken last hurrah for him. I hope he didn't do anything foolish last night." Padmé snorted.
"With those two involved, anything is possible," she said. "Why, it wouldn't surprise me if your groom shows up with a shaved head or a tattoo. Or both."
"He had better not," Sabé replied acidly. "One thing he is certain to show up with is a bad hangover, and it would serve him right. One would think he'd know better than to go drinking and carousing with those two by now." Nervously, Sabé peeked into the ballroom. "Oh my, look at all these people!"
"Yes, there are more here for your wedding than came to mine," Padmé told her. "We never could have fit all these people in the courtyard." Sabé shook her head in amazement.
"But you are Queen, while I am merely one of your ladies. It doesn't make sense." Padmé smiled at her.
"Queen I may be — of a small, distant Outer Rim planet that most people had never even heard of before our senator became Chancellor. You are marrying the Supreme Chancellor, Sabé."
"That's rather sobering, when I think of it," Sabé said quietly. "I hope I'm up to the job."

Palpatine waited impatiently in a corridor outside the opposite end of the ballroom.
"What could be keeping them?" he asked impatiently. Valorum shrugged.
"They're YOUR friends," he replied. Palpatine made a face.
"If you can call them that. They'd better not be doing anything to my hovercar."
"Your car?" Valorum frowned. "What would they do to your car?"
"Decorate it." Palpatine replied shortly. At Valorum's questioning look, he elaborated. "It is a Nubian custom."
"How quaint," Valorum murmured. Finally, they spotted the two Jedi Knights ambling up the corridor towards them.
"Where were you?" Palpatine demanded immediately.
"Man, lighten up," Anakin said. "We were having a quick toke, man."
"A quick what?" Palpatine asked. Obi-Wan rolled his eyes.
"You really need to get out more," he advised Palpatine, who gave him a blank look. Sighing, Obi-Wan mimed taking a drag on a joint.
"Oh my gods," Palpatine exclaimed in disbelief, putting his face in his hands and shaking his head. Valorum laughed.
"Anakin is right, old boy," he told Palpatine. "You really DO need to lighten up."

"This is it," Padmé said as the music began. She heard Sabé swallow hard. Smiling, Padmé began the march up the center aisle, followed by her handmaidens and Sabé. A murmur went through the crowd when they got a look at Sabé. Most of the guests had never seen her before, and had had no idea how young she was. She knew there would be all sorts of talk, but she quickly pushed the thought to the back of her mind. She was already shaking so badly that her bouquet was visibly trembling, and she certainly didn't need anything else to add to her nervousness. She felt lightheaded, as though the whole thing were happening very far away and to someone else. Through the silver mesh of her veil, she saw Palpatine standing at the end of the ballroom, looking like he might begin crying at any moment. The handmaidens filed off to stand on one side of the altar. Padmé remained at the front long enough to place Sabé's hand in Palpatine's, then moved to the side to stand among her ladies. The wedding party turned to face the justice of the peace.
"Dearly beloved," the justice of the peace began. Soon his voice became a monotonous drone to Sabé, who went through the motions of the ceremony and recited her portion of the vows as if hypnotized. Certain things would later stand out vividly in her mind: The memory of Palpatine taking her ring from Luke and sliding it onto her finger, the memory of accidentally trying to put HIS ring on his right hand instead of his left, and of course the memory of the justice of the peace pronouncing them husband and wife. Finally, it was over and Sabé was walking back down the aisle on the arm of her new husband. I wish my parents were here, she thought suddenly, and tears sprang to her eyes, clouding her vision. As they reached the other end of the ballroom, the Queen's handmaidens filed past her, and she very nearly slid into her position in the retinue out of habit. She shook her head, the knowledge that the life of a handmaiden was forever behind her finally becoming real to her. She was a married woman now, and Eirtaé was first among the Queen's ladies. When she stood next to Palpatine in the receiving line, it suddenly hit her that the people who bowed to her now did so not because she was playing the role of Padmé's decoy and they believed her to be the Queen, but rather for her own sake. Her new rank had already become a reality. She was the Supreme Chancellor's wife.

Sabé sat in her seat between Palpatine and Padmé, swaying slightly due to the four large glasses of wine that had been served with lunch. The lunch had been held in the biggest of the dining rooms in the Palace (the one used for state banquets) and it was still a squeeze to accommodate all of the guests. The caterer suddenly appeared at Sabé's elbow.
"It is time to cut the cake, Lady," she said, bowing.
"Oh," she replied. Palpatine was engaged in a conversation with Anakin. She touched his arm to get his attention. "Time to cut the cake," she told him.
"Is it?"
"Evidently," Sabé replied, indicating the caterer.
"Go for it," Padmé told her, smiling. The newlyweds rose and proceeded to the table that held the enormous wedding cake.
"There's enough cake here to feed an army," Sabé said.
"A good thing, too, since there are enough people here to make up an army," Palpatine replied. The caterer handed Sabé a large, serrated knife.
"Look out, Palpatine!" someone called out. "She's got a knife!" The caterer removed the top tier of the wedding cake and sent it back to the kitchen to be boxed up for the couple's first anniversary. She then positioned Palpatine and Sabé so that they could both face the crowd while cutting the cake together. The caterer stepped out of the way, and immediately flashbulbs from holostill cameras went off all over the room.
"My goodness," Sabé said, blinking. Palpatine, long used to life in the media spotlight, shrugged.
"Get used to it. It will only get worse."
"Oh great."
"Having second thoughts?" he asked.
"Not a chance," she said, smiling as together they sank the knife into the second tier of the cake. The whole tier wobbled precariously on its four spindly columnar supports.
"Oooooooooohhh!" the wedding guests breathed. Sabé and Palpatine looked at each other, laughing at the near mishap. They lifted the knife in unison and sank it into the cake again to make a slice. This time the whole second tier collapsed onto the third tier, which collapsed onto the fourth tier, and so on until all six of the remaining tiers were lying together in a pile of mangled cake and gooey frosting. Their guests applauded. Undeterred, Sabé fished around in the remains of the second tier, grasped the newly cut piece of cake and broke it in two, while Palpatine licked white icing off his fingers. "Here's your half," she said, handing it to him. "And if you smash it into my face, so help me I'll kill you."
"Smash it!" someone yelled.
"Rub it all over her body and lick it off!" another guest advised.
"That'll happen later," Palpatine quipped. Their guests laughed.
"Promises, promises," Sabé murmured for his ears alone, making him laugh. Carefully, they moved in to feed each other the cake. That was when the gunshot went off, startling them both so that they jumped, accidentally smearing cake all over one another's faces in the process. They looked around for the source of the gunshot sound, only to see the caterer holding a champagne bottle that was erupting like a miniature volcano, shooting frothy white foam several feet in the air.
"Oh my goodness!" Palpatine exclaimed. Without thinking, the caterer automatically turned towards the sound of his voice, bringing the still-spewing bottle around with her and soaking the cake-and-icing-covered newlyweds in champagne. Sabé shrieked and wiped her face with the back of her hand, while Palpatine just stood there, blinking and sputtering. Meanwhile, the guests were cheering and applauding. There was only one thing to do, Palpatine decided as he wiped champagne out of his eyes. He leaned over and licked some icing and champagne off his new wife's cheek, then took her in his arms and kissed her thoroughly. Their guests went absolutely bananas. From the kitchen area, they could hear several more champagne bottles firing their corks like gunshots, along with shouting from the kitchen staff. While the caterer did what she could to salvage the remains of the ruined wedding cake and get something that might have resembled pieces of cake onto plates for distribution to the guests, the catering staff appeared from the kitchen bearing trays of champagne glasses filled with the bubbly liquid. Valorum, Anakin, Padmé, and Obi-Wan took this as their cue to join the newlyweds. Valorum grabbed a glass of champagne from a tray and held up his hand for silence.
"I'd like to propose a toast," he declared. This was the moment the two Jedi Knights had been waiting for. They grinned at each other and immediately began pelting Valorum with pieces of toast that they produced from the deep pockets of their Jedi robes. The guests were in hysterics. "That's not funny!" Valorum tried to sound angry, but he was laughing too. Finally, the two Jedi ran out of toast and Valorum was able to get on with things. "To my old friend, Palpatine," Valorum said, raising his glass. "My old, OLD friend Palpatine! He's living proof that you're only as old as the women you feel!" The guests chuckled appreciatively, though there was a scattering of catcalls and rude noises. "And of course," he continued, "To his lovely new wife, Sabé. I understand she wants to have a family as soon as possible, so they are going to have his grandchildren right away." He paused to give his audience time to laugh, then plunged back in to his routine. "You know, Sabé was lucky in one respect. Most brides have to worry about collecting the traditional 'something new, something borrowed,' and all that. She already had something old: THE GROOM." Palpatine was smiling and shaking his head slowly at his friend's good-natured ribbing, but Sabé's eyes were narrowed and her lips were pressed together in a thin line. Valorum glanced at the couple, saw the look on Sabé's face, and immediately began to wrap things up. "So, please join me in wishing these two many, many years of happiness together. I hope we're all here to toast them again on their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Of course, by then Palpatine will be 211." He raised his glass in salute and then drank. The guests, still laughing, followed suit. Next Anakin stepped forward.
"Well," he said. "How can I follow that? That was really good, Valorum." The senator smiled modestly. "If you ever decide to get out of politics, you could always go into stand-up comedy." Anakin raised his glass. "Now, down to business. Palpatine would probably tell you that I have more experience drinking booze than giving toasts with it, and he'd be right. We've had some really great times together… even though he can be a pompous pain in the ass." The guests laughed. "And Sabé… she's just wonderful, although she can be a pain in the ass sometimes, too. So I guess they're made for each other. Anyway… damn, I was going to make a bunch of cheap jokes about Palpatine's age, but Valorum beat me to it. So, I'll just wrap this up now by wishing them both lots of happiness. May the Force be with you," he told the newlyweds. Everyone drank. "Oh yeah," Anakin said. "Almost forgot. I want to add that they must be really happy to be married, because now they can finally have sex." Padmé gave him an exasperated look.
"All right," she said, shaking her head. "It's my turn. I've known Palpatine almost as long as I can remember — "
"So did Methuselah," Valorum cracked. Everyone (except Sabé) laughed.
"Hey Palpatine," Anakin called out. "Is it true that King Vanya used to celebrate YOUR birthday?" he asked, making a reference to a Nubian state holiday commemorating an ancient King of the Naboo.
"Come on, you guys," Padmé pleaded, laughing. She waited for things to settle down, then continued. "Seriously, I've known both Sabé and Palpatine for a very long time. They are both very dear to me, and the fact that they've found happiness together makes me very happy indeed. When I got married…" She glanced over at Palpatine, then changed her mind about what she had thought to say. "Sabé and Palpatine, I wish you as much happiness in your marriage as I have found in mine. May the gods bless you." She lifted her glass in a toast. Now it was Obi-Wan's turn. Unfortunately, Obi-Wan absolutely dreaded public speaking. He stepped forward and eyed the huge crowd apprehensively. Nervously, he stuck his hand in his pocket, where it encountered an object. Inspiration struck.
"I offer a toast to the happy couple!" he cried, holding the piece of toast up high for all to see. He dipped the toasted bread in his champagne and took a bite. "Toast!" he yelled, chewing. Everyone laughed.
"At least he didn't give a long, boring speech," Sabé said to Palpatine.

You are drunk, a small voice in the back of Sabé's mind said clinically. She giggled. Drunk in the middle of the afternoon, no less. How unseemly. She didn't care. Drunk I may be, but I am not the only one.
The tables and chairs had been pushed back to make room for a dance floor. Obi-Wan and Eirtaé were drunkenly clinging to each other, swaying together totally out of time with the music. Sabé watched in astonishment as Obi-Wan tipped Eirtaé's chin up and kissed her lips.
"Well and well, he must be very drunk indeed," she murmured to herself. Padmé tugged on her sleeve.
"Here," the Queen said, handing her a crystal tumbler full of clear liquid. Ah, water, Sabé thought. Just what I need. The fumes reached her nose as she lifted the glass to take a sip, but by then it was too late. Her eyes widened as the liquor burned her tongue and blazed a trail of licorice fire down her throat. She choked and coughed, candied fumes filling her sinuses.
"Are you all right, my dear?" Palpatine inquired from her other side. She nodded wordlessly and passed him the crystal tumbler. Warned by her reaction, he sniffed it cautiously, then made a face. "Thank you, no. I do not care for licorice," he said.
"It's anisette," she informed him.
"Even so," he said. Sabé shrugged.
"Pass it on," she told him. He smiled and passed the tumbler to Anakin, who took several healthy swallows before passing it along. "I am very drunk," Sabé told her new husband conversationally. He shrugged.
"Me too." They both laughed. "Would you like to get out of here?" he asked.
"Gods, yes." Sabé stood, swaying a bit unsteadily. Palpatine offered her his arm, which she took gratefully.
"Where do you two think you're going?" Valorum called out to the departing newlyweds.
"To make some blue-eyed babies!" Sabé shouted back. She realized that everyone had stopped what they were doing to stare at her in utter astonishment. "Oh my goodness," she said, bringing her hand to her mouth. "Did I say that out loud?"
"Yes, I'm afraid so," Palpatine murmured, trying not to laugh. She shrugged.
"Oh well, I told you I'm drunk."

"JUST MARRIED!" proclaimed the message that was painted across the back of Palpatine's hovercar. Two smiling faces had been drawn on the back window. A floral motif decorated the side doors, and the side windows were also dotted with white paint. The hood and windshield also happily proclaimed the car's occupants' newlywed status. All of the recent artistic "improvements" stood out starkly on the azure car. Palpatine groaned.
"I'll kill them both, I swear I will," he promised as he futilely attempted to scratch some of the decorations off his car with his fingernail. Sabé leaned on his arm and giggled. "Look, it's not coming off," he told his wife. She shrugged.
"I am totally plastered and I want to go back to your, excuse me, OUR house and have wild sex until we both pass out. Ask me how much I care about some stupid paint on your car."
"Ya know, I think you guys have two whole separate agendas going on here," Anakin's voice called out from behind them. They turned to see a crowd of wedding guests who had left the reception to see the newlyweds off.
"Anakin!" Palpatine yelled angrily. "Look what you've done to my car! This isn't coming off!"
"Hey, it wasn't me, man," Anakin protested innocently. He looked around, then pointed randomly at Bail Antilles. "It was HIM! I saw the whole thing!"
"I never!" Antilles protested. Palpatine snorted.
"You must think I'm really stupid, Anakin," he said. "This has your and Obi-Wan's signatures all over it."
"It at least has their initials," Sabé observed, pointing to the bumper, which said "OWK" and "AS" in white paint.
"It wasn't us!" Obi-Wan protested futilely. Palpatine sighed.
"Look, I knew you two were stupid, but what in the world possessed you to use PAINT to decorate my car?"
"That's not paint," Obi-Wan told him.
"No," Anakin agreed. "It's shoe polish."
"How do you know?" Sabé asked. "I thought you two didn't do this." The two Jedi exchanged glances.
"That's what we saw HIM using," Obi-Wan finally said, indicating Antilles again. Palpatine shook his head.
"Yes, well, you and Anakin are going to be the ones scrubbing it off, I promise you."
"Let's worry about that later, shall we?" Sabé asked pointedly. Palpatine looked down at her and smiled.
"Yes, my dear," he murmured. Anakin snorted.
"Better get used to saying that," he advised.
"What's THAT supposed to mean?" Padmé asked.
"Nothing, dear."

Sabé was happy to find that a hot shower sobered her up considerably. She combed out her hair, pulled on a blue robe she found hanging on the back of the bathroom door and padded into the bedroom, where she found Palpatine sitting on the edge of the bed sipping a cup of coffee.
"You look like you're drowning in that," he told her. She smiled and held out her arms, making the much too long sleeves flap comically. "Would you like some coffee?"
"Certainly." She went over and took the mug from him and sipped the aromatic warm liquid. She sighed happily.
"So," he said, taking the mug from her and putting it on the nightstand. "Are you feeling up to it?"

"Up to what?" she asked, stepping close and kissing the top of his head. Her long, damp hair curtained both their faces.
"Well, you said something earlier about making some blue-eyed babies," he reminded her.
"Ah yes, so I did," she conceded. "Well, whenever you're ready…"
"Actually, I was wondering if you have your heart set on blue-eyed babies." He kissed her eyelids. "I'm rather partial to brown eyes myself." She giggled.
"All right, how about one of each, then?" she asked. He smiled and reached for the tie on her robe.

Chapter 3

I can't let those two out of my sight for even a moment, Obi-Wan thought with disgust as he trudged through the woods in search of the two small Skywalker children. I told them not to wander off… now where could they have gone? It's all very well for Anakin and Padmé to go off to Coruscant for a second honeymoon, but who's left here with the children? Me, that's who. Oh, Obi-Wan won't mind watching the children while we're gone. Obi-Wan can handle it. Good old dependable Obi-Wan. Damn it all, anyway.

"Luke?" he called hopefully. "Leia? Can you hear me? If you're hiding somewhere, just come out. You won't be in trouble, I promise." There was no answer, of course. Thus far, his pride had prevented him returning to the Palace to enlist the aid of Captain Panaka and a squadron of Royal Guards. He could not bear for everyone to know that he, Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi, was not capable of keeping track of two small children for an afternoon. Now, however, he was becoming very worried indeed, especially as he'd just realized that he could not sense their Force signatures anywhere. Just as he was about to admit defeat, swallow his pride, and turn back towards the Palace, he heard something crashing through the undergrowth.

"Ben! Ben!" Leia called as she ran towards him, her brother right behind her. Only recently had the Jedi Order stopped giving their Padawans Jedi names, allowing them instead to keep their own names from birth. Obi-Wan, in explaining the now defunct renaming custom to the children, had let it slip that his name at birth had been Ben, and they had not yet tired of calling him by it, though it was highly improper to address a Jedi so. However, his relief at seeing them alive, whole, and safe completely wiped out his irritation at being called Ben.

"Leia! Luke!" Obi-Wan cried, bending to catch them in a smothering embrace. He was chagrinned to note that he was shaking with relief; a Jedi should not lose control of his emotions so. "Where have you been?"

"Talking to Uncle," Luke said. Leia glared at him.

"You weren't supposed to tell," she scolded her brother, who blushed and ducked his head.

"Sorry," he muttered. "I forgot." Leia was unimpressed with his display of contrition.

"You're always forgetting," she continued. Obi-Wan held up his hand to interrupt her before she could begin to recite the very long list of what she believed were Luke's shortcomings.

"Wait a minute. Luke, what do you mean you were talking to Uncle?" Luke continued to stare at the ground in silence. In Luke's world, the sun rose and set on his sister, and he had no intention of earning another scolding from her with his loose tongue. "Luke? Come on now, you must tell me," Obi-Wan said firmly. Luke continued looking at the ground and shuffling his feet in the dirt with an air of intense concentration. "All right," he said to both twins. "There will be no dessert tonight or for the rest of the week until one of you tells me what's going on."

"We were out in the clearing talking to Uncle," Luke finally mumbled, earning a glare from his sister. Spurred on by the threat of no dessert, he continued undaunted. "We've been seeing him every day in the clearing. He tells us stories and gives us candy. He said not to tell anyone."

"Uncle who?" Obi-Wan asked, determined to get to the bottom of this.

"Uncle Palpatine," Luke replied. Obi-Wan frowned.

"That's not possible. He's on Coruscant, you know that." Luke shook his head.

"No, he's in the clearing."

"Luke, you know that Jedi do not lie," he began in a slightly scolding voice.

"He's not lying. Luke does not lie." Leia piped up indignantly in her brother's defense. Though she teased and tormented her brother mercilessly, she would tolerate no outside criticism of Luke from anyone, including her teacher. Obi-Wan concentrated and reached out through the Force to touch Luke's mind briefly. No, the boy was not lying.

"Uncle gave us candy - see?" Luke exclaimed suddenly, holding out his hand. Obi-Wan took the bit of candy he held out to him and inspected it. It was a popular Nubian confection of small sweet seeds suspended in the hardened sweet sap of an indigenous tree. He frowned at the piece of candy, trying to remember if he had ever seen Palpatine eating it. No, he recalled, the Chancellor does not like sweets. Well, whether he likes them or not has no bearing on whether he'd give them to the children… But why would he hide in the woods and insist on secrecy? That doesn't make any sense. He shook his head. He can't be here anyway; he's on Coruscant. Realizing that this train of thought was getting him nowhere, he sighed.

"All right," he finally said. "I would like to see Uncle too. Can you take me to him?" Luke shook his head.

"He's not there anymore," the child told him. "I saw him leave in a hovercar."

"Sabé…" her husband's voice whispered in her ear. She rolled over, snuggling down into the bedclothes. "Don't open your eyes…" She smiled.

"You're home early," she murmured sleepily.

"Keep your eyes closed… I have a surprise for you," he whispered. She made a happy little sound.

"What is it?" She sighed, stretching.

"You'll see."

"Can I open my eyes yet?" she asked.

"Not yet," he whispered. She heard a familiar sound.

"Mmm… hey, that sounds like - " She opened her eyes. A man in hooded black robes stood over her, both hands gripping the hilt of a red-bladed lightsaber. Slowly, he lowered the blade, clearly intending to sever her head from her body.

She woke screaming, clutching the bedclothes against her, her heart pounding in terror. The only sound in the room was her breathing, which sounded harsh and ragged in the emptiness of the apartment. She remained frozen like that for many minutes. The sudden sound of the main door to the apartment sliding open startled another scream from her. Palpatine came dashing into the bedroom, his attaché case in hand.

"What's wrong?" he asked, dropping his attaché case and glancing around the room for whatever had frightened his wife.

"Oh gods, it's you!" she exclaimed, relieved. "I was tired, so I decided to take a nap. I had the most terrible dream… then I heard a sound…" He sat on the bed and took her in his arms.

"My poor darling, you're shaking," he said, kissing her temple. "I'm so sorry I frightened you." He continued to hold her, murmuring Nubian endearments until she stopped shaking and relaxed against him. "Perhaps you should see a healer," he suggested after a long moment. She looked up at him.


"You've been getting tired easily recently," he reminded her. She shrugged.

"I'm probably still adjusting to being a lady of leisure," she joked. "My life has become very tiring, you know. I am always being taken to lunch by groups of senators' wives who only want to be seen with and gawk at the Chancellor's scandalously young wife." He smiled down at her.

"You're so lovely, they can't help but gawk at you."

"Flattery will get you everywhere," she told him, laughing.

"Perhaps. But I doubt it will get us to the restaurant on time." He kissed her. "You'd better get dressed, my dear."

"I'm sorry to bother you with this," Obi-Wan's holographic image said to Anakin. "I know you wanted to be completely alone, but I thought it was important." Anakin sighed.

"You're sure they're not lying about seeing Palpatine?" he asked.

"Positive. They know only the most basic mind-shielding techniques, which would be completely inadequate to hide a falsehood like this one."

"Did you ask Palpatine about this?"

"I spoke to his personal assistant, I think her name is Susan or something like that."

"Sara," Anakin supplied.

"That's it. Anyway, she said he'd been in chambers all afternoon, and there are thousands of witnesses who could confirm it. I just don't understand what's going on."

"Well, I'm sure you'll get to the bottom of it, Sherlock," Anakin said, sounding unconcerned.

"What did you call me?"

"Sherlock. It's the name of a character from a series of stories I used to read when I was a child on Tatooine."

"Whatever. Well," his tone turned teasing. "I hope you and Padmé enjoy the rest of your vacation on glamorous, exciting Coruscant, while I'm stuck out here in the middle of nowhere on a backwater planet no one's ever even heard of."

"You left out the part about chasing two screaming brats around all day long," Anakin reminded him, laughing. Obi-Wan smiled.

"May the Force be with you," he said, ending the connection. Anakin switched the holophone off.

"Who were you talking to?" Padmé asked, emerging from the steamy bathroom, a towel wrapped around her body and another around her head. Anakin smiled.

"Obi-Wan. He said the children are doing fine, and we shouldn't worry about anything."

"Oh. Well, I wasn't worried. I'm sure Obi-Wan has everything under control." She removed the towel from her head and began combing out her long, damp hair.

"I'm sure," he agreed sardonically. He walked up behind his wife and put his arms around her. "Are you enjoying yourself, my angel?" he asked, nuzzling her neck. She giggled.

"You know it! I haven't had a decent break since I was fourteen years old, and that was fifteen years ago! I've been working for over half of my life now."

"The burden of leadership," Anakin said, only half-joking. They had been planning this vacation for months now, and they desperately needed it. Though their marriage was basically sound, the duties of a Queen and a Jedi Knight frequently kept them apart. Anakin had been in the Jedi Order long enough to see other Knights struggle with and ultimately fail in marriages that were wrecked by distance and frequent long separations more than anything else. He was determined that this would not happen to his marriage, and so far, they had been successful at remaining close despite the other demands on their time. Bringing his thoughts back to the present, he began unwinding the towel from her body. Padmé laughed.

"Anakin!" she protested. "We'll be late for dinner!" He glanced at the clock.

"We have time," he assured her, throwing the damp towel on the floor and taking her in his arms. Her eyes darted to the clock.

"It will have to be quick," she murmured, kissing him.

"Better quick than nothing," he replied. He picked her up, carried her to the bed and placed her gently on top of the covers. For a moment, he simply stood there looking down at her beautiful body and marveling at his luck, that this gorgeous angel had agreed to be his wife. Unable to contain himself any longer, he lay down beside her and kissed her lips. Propping himself up on one elbow, he ran his hand down her body, his kisses following in its wake. She sighed. "This is just the preliminary," he told her. "After dinner, we'll come back here and take our time."

"You are oversexed," she told him in a matter-of-fact voice, but she was smiling.

"Not even close," he murmured. "But I hope to be by the end of the week!"

"Won't you tell me what's troubling you, darling?" Palpatine asked. They were sitting at a back table at Portman's, their favorite restaurant, waiting for Anakin and Padmé to arrive. He reached across the table and took her hand. She sighed.

"I didn't want to tell you yet," she said. "I wanted to wait awhile and see how it went first…. because of last time." She looked down at their hands, clasped together on the table. "I am pregnant," she said bluntly. His eyes widened in surprise.

"Pregnant? But that's wonderful news!" He smiled happily. "Why, I thought you were going to tell me something terrible!" She shook her head.

"I am afraid I will lose this one as I lost the other." He frowned.

"We will get you under the care of the best healer on Coruscant," he assured her. She sighed.

"You don't understand…" Her voice trailed off, and she hesitated, choosing her next words carefully. "I have had… disturbing dreams," she admitted.

"Yes?" he prompted, when it became apparent she was not going to elaborate. She took a deep breath.

"I have dreamed of the man who killed Jedi Master Jinn," she told him.

"What's this?" Anakin's voice asked. The moment was lost. Sabé and Palpatine rose to greet the new arrivals.

"I'm so sorry we're late," Padmé apologized as she kissed Palpatine.

"Yeah, we… uh… ran into some traffic," Anakin said unconvincingly as he embraced Sabé. Palpatine's eyebrows went up.

"Did you?" he asked. Padmé blushed and lowered her eyes. Sabé smiled knowingly.

"Unless I guess very wrong, Palpatine and I have run into that same traffic on occasion."

After dinner, they returned to Palpatine and Sabé's apartment. Anakin and Padmé sat together on the sofa.

"Sabé, what were you saying about your dreams back at the restaurant?" Anakin asked as Sabé returned from the kitchen with a tray of drinks. She shook her head.

"It's not important," she said, handing out drinks. She perched on the arm of the chair where her husband sat. Anakin noticed that while she had served wine to everyone else, she drank a tumbler of fruit juice. He frowned and allowed his vision to slip out of focus so he could view her aura, which looked to him like the aura of any other non-Force user except for… He sat back, astonished.

"I think your dreams might be important," he finally said. "Tell me about them."

"Tell me why they're important," she shot back.

"Among the Naboo, dreams are very private things," Padmé explained. Anakin sighed. What is NOT a private thing among the Naboo? he wondered but did not say.

"Please, just tell me. I promise that I will explain what I can after I've heard what you have to say." She nodded.

"I have been tormented by dreams of the man who killed Master Jinn. He killed my first baby. He wants to kill me." Anakin frowned.

"He is dead, Sabé," he reminded her. "Obi-Wan killed him." Sabé shrugged.

"In my dreams, he is very much alive."

"Are you sure it's the same guy?" Anakin asked.

"I have not seen his face in my dreams," she admitted. "Still, I am certain it is him. I saw him in the Palace the day we ousted the Trade Federation. Who else wears long black robes and carries a red lightsaber?" Next to her, Palpatine inhaled sharply. "What is it?" she asked him. He shook his head.

"Palpatine…" Anakin began. Palpatine closed his eyes. "Now is not the time to be coy. There is still a Sith Lord out there somewhere. If you know something about this…" Palpatine remained resolutely silent. He knows something, Anakin thought. I can sense it. But he's not talking. Time to get out the big guns. "You are pregnant, Sabé," he said. Her eyes widened.

"How did you know that? I only told Palpatine tonight." He sighed. Well, there's no use putting too fine a point on it. He plunged on ahead, ignoring Padmé's astonished expression.

"Your children are strong with the Force," he continued, not answering Sabé's question.

"How do you know?" she asked. You know, I seem to be getting that question a lot recently, he reflected ruefully. He considered carefully before answering, knowing that according to the Code, there was only so much he could reveal to a non-Jedi about the abilities of Force users.

"I can see them," he said cryptically.

"What do you mean, 'them'?" Palpatine asked.

"Twins," Anakin said shortly. "They are extremely gifted. The Jedi will want them for training at the Temple."

"We Naboo do not send our children away," Sabé said automatically. Anakin sighed.

"Look," he said. "I don't want to open up THAT can of worms right now. We have more important things to worry about at the moment. Qui-Gon killed one Sith Lord, but there are always two. There is another one out there somewhere, and he will want these children."

"For what?" Palpatine asked quietly. Anakin looked him right in the eye.

"To train them," Anakin said. "To teach them the ways of the Dark Side. This Sith Lord will wait until they are born. He will come to your apartment, kill you both and take your children. In the end, he will choose one as his apprentice. He will probably kill the other." Palpatine put his head in his hands. Anakin saw that he was shaking violently.

"What is it?" Sabé asked her husband. From her perch on the arm of his chair, she put her arm around his shoulders and drew him against her. "What's wrong?"

"Perhaps he is afraid his children will be taken away," Padmé suggested.

"No. That is not what troubles me now," Palpatine said, his head still in his hands. He looked up at Anakin. "This is not something I have ever spoken of before," he said, wanting them to understand how difficult it was for him to continue with what he was about to say. Anakin nodded. "When I was a small child, perhaps a bit younger than your twins, a man like the one Sabé described killed my parents." Sabé pulled him closer to her and rested her cheek on top of his head, but remained silent. "I do not remember much about it. We were traveling from our homeworld – I cannot remember what it was called - to a planet in the Outer Rim. The man attacked our ship, came aboard and killed everyone. He killed my parents right before my eyes."

"My gods," Padmé said quietly, appalled.

"Before he left, he set the ship's autopilot for a course that would cause the ship to burn up in the Naboo atmosphere. Then…" he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Then he took my brother and left." Anakin's mind was racing furiously as Palpatine continued. "Obviously, the ship did not burn up with me on board. A rescue team arrived from Naboo and took me back with them. A Naboo family took pity on me and took me in. You know how the Naboo value privacy. All records pertaining to the incident were sealed forever, so that the prying eyes of outsiders would never fall upon them." The importance of his words finally reached Padmé. She stood and walked over to the floor length windows, staring out at the air traffic.

"You are not Naboo," she finally said.

"No, Your Majesty," he said quietly. "Though I often forget it myself, I am not." Padmé sighed. As Queen, she knew what she was supposed to do. He could not be allowed to represent the Naboo when he was not one himself. He knew what she was thinking. He stood. "I will resign as Chancellor and Senator from Naboo immediately, Your Majesty," he promised her. Slowly, Sabé stood and took her husband's hand.

"I renounce my title of Lady of Naboo," she said fiercely, holding her head high. Palpatine looked at her in astonishment as she continued. "I forfeit all my holdings and – "

"Silence!" The Queen commanded, whirling around and holding up her hand. "No one is resigning or renouncing anything."

"But Naboo law requires – " Palpatine began.

"We ARE Naboo law, Chancellor," she reminded him in the imperious voice of the Queen. "As we command, so it shall be. None has served us as loyally or as well as you have, Lady." Sabé bowed her head. "And we would have none other than you represent our sovereign world to the rest of the Galaxy, Chancellor Palpatine. We are proud to call you Naboo. Let any who would dispute your right to call yourself so take up his claim with us." Anakin had remained seated through all of this, watching with detached curiosity as a minor Naboo Court drama played out before him. Finally, he spoke.

"We need to go to the Jedi Council right now, and you need to tell them what you've just told us, Palpatine. I am sure they will promise to keep your story in the strictest confidence. We have to find this brother of yours before he gets his hands on your children."

"All these years, I thought he was dead," Palpatine murmured. "Now that I know why he was taken…"

"The man in my dreams," Sabé said quietly. "He speaks to me in your voice, Palpatine." Palpatine smiled sadly at her.

"He would," he said. "He's my twin."

"Identical?" Anakin asked sharply.

"Yes. Why?"

"Because," Anakin said, the pieces of the puzzle already falling into place in his mind. "He is already working on MY children."

Darth Sidious sat in the meditation chamber in his Sith Infiltrator, mulling over his plans for the Skywalker twins. Things would be much easier if I did not have to operate in secret, he thought. Perhaps the time to kill my brother and take his place is at hand… He chuckled evilly as he contacted the ship's autopilot, instructing it to take off and set a course for Coruscant. Soon, brother dear, we will be together once again…