Ficawesome Gift Echange- TAKE 2

Title: Free Hearts

Written for: Indie Cullen (TLCullen132)

Written By: Reb (Rebadams7)

Rating: E for everyone!

Some of the characters herein are the property of George Lucas and Lucasfilm, along with heirs in their entirety. I am just borrowing them. It's always GL's sandbox and toys; I'm just here to play a bit…

Why this picture (Edward with black feather wings)made me think of Ani and Padme? I'll never understand my muses! Or the Force…

The sun was just warm now, hot would surely come later. The ever-present sand shifted only by footsteps, and not, thank goodness, by the ever-present wind, was not gusting at this moment, just a soft breeze. The wall still held the heat of the past day and he savored the warmth it radiated easing his back. He let his mind slip while he waited, sliding back to the first time he had seen her.

Cliegg had to stoop a little to enter the thick doorway into Watto's shop. Shmi had been behind the counter.

"Greetings – are you looking or looking for something specific?"

As his eyes had adjusted to the change in light, he found himself gazing at the woman behind the counter. She'd been seated, working on a small device. She possessed an energetic effect, yet her face was tired around her eyes. As their eyes met, those tired eyes were the first to light with her smile.

"I'm…Cliegg Lars. I'm … I'm looking for parts for a Kuat 327 series vaporato…r. I'm sorry." He swallowed against the cool rush of indoor air and the embarrassment of sounding like a crushstruck youngling.

"That's alright, the suns, eh, they can do that to you at this hour. We have a few, let me get them for you."

He'd watched her rise and pass through the back, out into the suns' light and the rear parts yard. He remembered his thoughts. She's like; she's like my Angel, my Angel who is an angel now…

He stood, coming to his feet on the back terrace of her house; as his thoughts returned to the here and now. He again remembered the first days as he paced around a bit. He'd been a crushstruck sot for a while. He'd managed to find a least one reason each day to stay on in Mos Espa. He'd managed to become her friend

Despite her protests

Despite Watto's

Despite her being Watto's slave.

It'd crushed him to leave a fortnight ago. He'd prayed for a small chance, anything to fill the ache that settled on him at the homestead. It arrived with the start of the Podracing season.

So, he'd gone and done it. Watto had just lost a big bet and Cliegg jumped at the chance. The deal had been struck as soon as he reached town. Waiting for daybreak was worth this. He was ready to offer his first gift. The one he'd wanted for her that afternoon in the shop.

Freedom.

He smiled as her door opened. He'd been too nervous to knock. Shmi emerged, surprised, to see to see him awaiting her at this early hour. "Shmi…Let's go, I'll walk with you to Watto's."

"He's got something that needs my attention right away?" Her soft voice gave away her confusion at seeing her…friend? Walking just a half step behind her, Cliegg smiled.

"I think so."

After the chip was removed and crushed before their eyes, Shmi wandered a bit in the street before the shop. She rubbed her arm, her eyes filled with an almost childish delight. She wasn't going to think about the scary future for a few moments. She was going to savor this feeling for now. She turned to Cliegg as he exited the building.

"How...how...?" Her voice slipped to a whisper as a little fear stole into the back of her mind.

Cliegg wasted no time. He guided her to a bench set into a deep shady alcove just a bit down the street. He motioned for her to take a seat.

"Shmi, I couldn't…I wouldn't dare ask you this until you were free. Free and able to make your own decisions…" He looked into his face as he crouched in front of her. He watched her face as he dropped to one knee. "Shmi, marry me." He took her hands, covering them with his rough pair. "Be a mother to Owen? Join me in my home. Make it ours?"

Shmi thought of her Ani, how happy he would be to hear her response. Freedom. Freedom and a family of her choice, hers all in the same day. The Force, the Force is with us both in this moment. She smiled a real smile, the kind that only Anakin had brought out before today. "Yes. Yes I will Cliegg."

Love, in the Force is not expected to be experienced by Jedi. The warm rush that rolled over Anakin as he sat with the other 14's, attempting to do his best in a lecture on politics and Jedi History was unexpected and unsettling in a pleasant manner. He smiled, he really smiled, loudly in the Force, multiplying the rush and sending it out, filling the class and even reaching the instructor.

"Padawan Anakin Skywalker." Announced the Master, addressing the class, "Whatever your good news is in the Force, please share. You, you are…smiling too loudly."

Anakin stood. "Sorry, Master Jedi. I…I don't know. I don't know what the good news might be." He let a wide-eyed smile flash over his face for just a moment. He sat back down, trying to quiet his mind. Truth be told, Anakin had an idea. He had no way to verify it, and the attempt would be discouraged again by Obi Wan…he decided to just keep it in his heart and hope it was true. Thinking of his mother was a rare indulgence and he could only hope she understood. Had she known how much he'd given to be here? He couldn't afford that emotion now and he forced himself back into the meditation. He closed his eyes.

Eyes closed. He could not find the strength to open them just now. The heat of the sun had retreated to just a warmth, and the sand was shifting with footsteps and not the hot wind of battle. He felt each step, he was on a litter, carried and directed in the Force. He let his mind drift to another sandy realm, recalling his first sight of her, using it to distract himself from his pain as he felt himself being lifted aboard a ship.

He heard a voice encouraging him to enter a deep healing trance. He chose to concentrate and return to his memories of Padme in Watto's shop. In his dream he returned to his personal angel, he could only hope to find her in his future.

He awoke to a cool room, a Jedi healer and a med droid peering over him. A hand slid under his shoulders. "Sit up now, Jedi Skywalker, slowly. Don't put too much pressure on that new arm yet."

New arm? Oh, Yes! He could feel the cool tips of his fingers, but they now had a distinct metallic ting in his senses.

"It will take a few days for all of this to knit together – no light saber practice for at least 7 standard days. You can dress now, and it should feel more, normal to you as time passes."

"Thank you, thank you Jedi...?"

""Quaidan Roe." He touched Anakin on the shoulder one more time, sending a final surge of healing through the Force, with a soft smile. The healer and the droid then exited the chamber as Anakin stood. He felt the thrum of the ship beneath his feet, indicating they were underway to somewhere. He only glanced at his arm – he made the hand work as little as possible as he dressed in the unfamiliar, clean robes. He stepped out into the corridor and found it to be warmer and wider than he'd expected. Not a military or Jedi vessel? His inner mechanical curiosity stilled, silenced. He found her.

He found her sitting, or more properly described as posed, on a hard bench that coiled around an alcove in the bulkhead. Her head leaned against the wall, eyes closed and back mostly straight, her hands crossed, resting in her lap, a simple white gown covering her form. Her carriage was tense, no peaceful rest evident in her body.

"She's been there a good while – she's waiting for news of you." Jedi Roe stood just behind Anakin, he placed his hand briefly on his shoulder, "She will be …happy…to see you awake at last." Anakin turned his head just slightly to see the Jedi slip quietly away down the corridor.

Anakin stepped into the alcove and knelt on one knee in front of Padme, not wishing to awaken her, just ease her concerns and let her sleep. He slipped his hands carefully around hers. His mind had set to churning: I can't choose for her – I can live with just that knowledge – can't I? Her perfect face…He vowed to himself to accept whatever she chose, but he would give her the choice. He would carry the fact that she loved him. He wondered if he could accept him as he was now, looking hard at the metal phalanges permanently affixed – and then he again envisioned her as she entered Watto's shop – the angel he would make his bride. Could you? Would you, Padme? "If she would have me?" His thoughts screamed in his head.

"Yes, Anakin, Yes." Padme's eyes opened as she took his hands in hers. She tilted forward so their foreheads' touched. "You think, too loud. Yes."

Anakin felt his entire form flush crimson. Stars and bones in the Force! How? Realizing what must have happened he felt a smile spread across his face, like it had done so many years ago at the temple. He felt – in both hands- the warmth of Padme's touch, filling them with a thrill that pushed out the metallic edge in his sensations. His eyes fluttered closed, as his lips brushed against hers. Shimmersilk and peachopomme assaulted his senses and he welcomed it as their mouths slipped open and he swept his tongue across her lower lip, a frisson of a new sensation drawing him even closer as her tongue met his and she drew his lip into her mouth. Reality only dawned as the need for breath caused their lips to part. Even then, the air between them took on a warm golden glow as if the Force itself was manifest. Anakin maneuvered around, sliding to sit beside her, she nestled into his shoulder, and the previous tension and apprehension that lingered drained off with each breath. Anakin dipped his head, resting his chin in her hair, curling his arm around her and, not caring for consequences, swept his thumb softly against her cheek.

"Anakin, take me home. Take us home to Naboo."

"Yes, M'Lady." His eyes twinkled as he addressed her with a formal title, but his tone was anything but. He leaned his head back against the bulkhead, considering what was to come, as she fell truly asleep on his shoulder.

Any being capable of making their own way in the galaxy would have recognized the sight of a pair so in love – and yet Obi Wan only thought it was sweet to see Anakin was still so protective to Padme. Who now can doubt the Force has its own ways. He came upon the pair, still seated in the alcove and he smiled to see his Padawan released from the medics.

Anakin felt the presence of his Master and sharpened his focus on Obi Wan even before he opened his eyes. "Master" he drew in a deep breath, and continued, "Padme wishes to return to Naboo. Now?"

Obi Wan heard the question in his Padawan's voice and considered. He will not be doing much training with me for a while. The council has made Anakin her protector and that still stands. He could pilot her ship; that would be good practice with the new hand. "Good idea. You should bring her home. Rest. Decide when she will return to the Senate."

He left the pair in the alcove, his mind suddenly filled with other details that demanded his attention.

Threepio was cataloging and sorting his data files as he came upon a seldom-checked subfolder. He opened the datafile for review:

He was in the alcove in Mos Espa - in his Maker's home. He was startled by his mistress's return. It was not a scheduled event and it – it set off a small alarm in his subroutines. He observed Shmi moving about the rooms, placing a few items, clothing and mementos of Anakin, into carry cases. He'd recorded her voice, the conversation.

"3 P O, Hurry. Wake up, I don't want to keep Cliegg and the Officiant waiting."

"Waiting for what? If I may inquire, mistress."

"For us, Threepio. I need you to witness and record my wedding."

If droids could, Threepio's face would have registered astonishment, as that information did not easily compare with the majority of his subroutines. He was a dutiful droid and his datafile continued to record those events. He'd hurried out the door without a backwards scan. Happy? Pleased in his way to be a part of what his maker would consider a most blessed, a most blessed day indeed. The datafile continued to roll on…

"Beep whir zonk zonk twereepe"

His companion rolled to a stop next to him as he closed and re-saved the datafile. The shorter, domed droid let out a second soft warble.

"Yes, Artoo, they do look splendid."

"Beepbeep Tweep chitter whooo ship hrreep"

"No, Artoo. I was just…thinking ...of his mother's wedding." The droids both turned to the figures at the balcony rail, the sun setting into the lake. Threepio opened a new file to add to his wedding database and Artoo began his first. Droids never forget…unless…. sometimes not even then.

Some files are too precious for deletion.

Of course, the Force works in mysterious ways.

~^~^~^~ Fin ~^~^~^~

~Fin~

A/N Yep, so there it is, my little literary gift for a fellow author. Please be kind and press the button! Your thoughts mean the world!