Padme awoke the next morning before her husband. Moving quietly out of the bed, she bathed, dressed and stepped into the nursery. Both of her children were awake and gurgling. Are they talking to each other? Can they communicate already? She shook her head, thinking of the mystery of the Force that her husband and children shared.

"Well, we'll just have to communicate the old-fashioned way, my sweethearts," she said as she placed Leia next to Luke, and then picked them up together and hugged them, both of them wiggling excitedly. "Come on, let's get you both dry and then we'll call Sikka to help me feed you. I bet you're both hungry."

After they were fed and lying happily in their playpen with Sikka watching them, Padme put together a light breakfast and went to wake Anakin. He was already up and dressed, adjusting his cloak in the bathroom mirror. As he turned toward her, her breath caught in her throat; he was wearing his Jedi clothing, his lightsaber affixed to his belt. His eyes transfixed her as he approached her and asked, "How do I look?" She unnecessarily adjusted the cloak on his shoulders and, lips trembling slightly, replied, "Very handsome, my love."

He pulled her into his arms and kissed her deeply. When their kiss ended, he held her for a long while, and then walked out of the bedroom. She followed him to the family room and stopped in the doorway as he approached the young girl playing with his children. She watched as Sikka rose when he spoke to her, watched as she gasped and her eyes went wide, and watched a little longer while the Jedi Master and his new padawan sat together on the sofa and talked. Then she went into the kitchen and sat quietly at the table, waiting.

After a short while, Sikka went to her room to gather up her few belongings, leaving her study materials on the table next to her bed. Anakin held Luke and Leia in his arms and kissed them both, saying goodbye. He knew he would be able to feel them while he was gone and was thankful for that. He carried them to their crib and laid them in it. Then he joined Padme in the kitchen.

He sat down beside her and held her hands, saying, "She's packing. We'll go to Coruscant today to formalize this with Master Yoda and the Council." "And then you'll return?" she asked quietly. "Yes, as quickly as we can," he replied just as Sikka came in.

"I'm ready, Master," she announced, her eyes very bright and happy. Padme rose and hugged the young girl. "Thank you, Miss Padme," Sikka said. "Why are you thanking me?" Padme asked. Sikka tilted her head toward Anakin. Padme looked down at her and smiled; they embraced again and then Sikka went outside.

Anakin and Padme stood silently for a moment. "You'll send the speeder back from the spaceport?" she asked, her eyes glistening. He nodded and crushed her to him. "My sweet Padme," he murmured. Wiping the tears from her face with his fingers, he said, "You know I'll always come back to you." She nodded, not trusting herself to speak. "And you'll know when I'm here with you, even when I'm far away." She took a deep breath, pushed him away slightly and said, "You should go now. She's waiting for you." He kissed her once more and then walked out the door.

Standing alone in the middle of the kitchen, she waited until she heard the speeder move away, and then she went into the nursery to be with their children.

The End

I want to thank everyone for reading this story. And, Kappelin68, thank you so much for your comment; that makes me very happy! I loved writing this story and have enjoyed the pleasure it has brought to others. I am working on the sequel, Shattered Mission, and will shorty begin posting it.