STANDARD DISCLAIMER: Most of the people in this fanfic belong to George Lucas. Some of them belong to me. Barney belongs to PBS, and I don't remember if they ever made a movie, but in my fanfic, they did. Any similarity to actual places, events, people, or alien beings is entirely coincidental.
"How was your meeting today, Padmé?" Sabé asked as she helped the Queen out of her elaborate gown.
"I really couldn't tell you," Padmé confessed. "I could think of nothing but Anakin the whole time." Sabé shook her head.
"I told you that you should have let me decoy for you today," the handmaiden scolded. Padmé smiled knowingly.
"Ah, you only wanted an excuse to spend the afternoon shut up alone with the Chancellor in his office!"
"It was a sacrifice I was prepared to make in service to my Queen," Sabé said nobly. She caught Padmé's eye in the mirror and both women laughed.
"And what would he have thought when his Queen pinched his backside?" Padmé wondered.
"I only did that once, and I was not acting as your decoy at the time," Sabé reminded her, giggling. "And you must admit, his reaction was quite entertaining." Now Padmé was giggling too.
"Quite," she agreed. "Perhaps I should try it with Anakin tonight."
"He would probably jump right out of his skin!" Sabé said, laughing. "He's always a nervous wreck when you are around anyway."
"Which is probably good," Padmé said. "If he is a wreck, perhaps he won't notice MY nervousness."
"There is nothing to be nervous about, Padmé," Sabé told her. "Just be yourself."
"Says the woman who becomes a blushing, babbling mess whenever she finds herself in the Chancellor's presence," Padmé said, raising her eyebrows.
"Yes, well…" Sabé decided to change the subject. "So where are you going tonight?"
"Dinner and the holomovies," Padmé replied, going to her wardrobe trunk and peering critically at its contents. "What do you think I should wear?"
"Why, your most elaborate gown, of course. And the matching purple feathered headdress." Padmé laughed, picturing it.
"No," she said. "I think perhaps something a bit less formal might be in order."
"Oh do you think, Your Majesty?" Sabé asked innocently.
"I have never been on a date before," Padmé said quietly. Sabé patted her shoulder reassuringly.
"It will be well," the handmaiden told her. "If you get nervous, remind yourself that you are a Queen. Also, as nervous as you are, he will be twice so, I promise you."
"I doubt it," Padmé said. "He always seems so composed."
"It is his Jedi training," Sabé said. "Trust me on that. They teach their Padawans how to appear serene and tranquil in any situation, even if they are simply dying of nervousness inside."
"How do I look?" Anakin asked for the hundredth time.
"You look fine," Obi-Wan replied for the hundredth time. He watched as his Padawan nervously paced the room.
"Do you think she'll like Lloyd's Landing, or should I take her somewhere fancier, like Portman's?"
"Can you afford Portman's?" Obi-Wan asked.
"No, not really, "Anakin admitted. "But I want to impress her."
"You don't need to impress her by taking her to a fancy restaurant. Do you really believe she is going out with you to get a good meal? I doubt it. I think she is going out with you because she wants to be with you. I am sure that wherever you take her will be fine," Obi-Wan assured him.
"Maybe," Anakin agreed, sounding dubious. "Hey, do you think I need more cologne?" he asked suddenly. Obi-Wan's nose twitched.
"No, I think the three bottles you're wearing now are sufficient."
"You're a real riot, you know that?"
"It is my duty to torture you. You are my Padawan." Obi-Wan said tranquilly.
"I can't wait to be made a Knight," Anakin muttered.
"By then I will be a Jedi Master and I will sit on the Council. So I will still be able to torture you."
"Oh great," Anakin said sarcastically. He glanced at Obi-Wan and saw the humor in his teacher's eyes.
"Seriously, good luck tonight," Obi-Wan said quietly. "I hope you and Padmé have a wonderful time."
"Thanks, Obi-Wan," Anakin said, pulling on his brown outer cloak. Obi-Wan looked him over, frowning.
"I think we'd better requisition another cloak for you this evening," Obi-Wan said, gesturing at the cloak's frayed hem. "That one looks like it's seen better days. Come, my Padawan. Let's see what we can find in the storage room."
His heart in his throat, Anakin knocked lightly on the door to Padmé's hotel room. To his surprise, the door slid open almost immediately, as though she had been waiting right behind it for him to appear.
"Hello, Anakin," she said, smiling. She wore a simple dress of brown silk. Her hair was down around her shoulders and she wore regular make-up. Anakin was captivated. He suddenly realized that he was gaping at her like an idiot.
"Uh, hi," he mumbled, jamming his hands into his pockets and staring at the floor. "Are you, uh, ready to go?"
"Absolutely," she replied, giving him another dazzling smile.
"So, uh… wanna eat?" he asked.
"I'd love to," she said, taking his arm. Anakin was sure that during the walk from her hotel room to the elevator, his feet did not touch the ground even once.
"Three hours?" Anakin repeated, incredulous. The Lloyd's Landing hostess nodded.
"Yes, it will be a three hour wait before we can seat you."
"But… we're going to the movies!" Anakin protested.
"Sorry, sir," the hostess told him, not sounding at all sorry. "It's Friday night on Coruscant. You know how it is."
"Yeah, I know," he muttered. He didn't dare look at Padmé; he could only imagine what she must be thinking. Stupid idiot, he thought to himself. This is your one big chance to go on a date with her and you can't even get a table at a restaurant. He gave a moment's serious consideration to telling the hostess that they would be dining at Portman's and then storming out huffily, but then he recalled that he didn't have enough money to buy a glass of soda at Portman's, let alone dinner for two. Suddenly, he remembered that a new restaurant had just opened up the street. "Come on, Padmé. We're going to Park Place."
"Table for two, please," Anakin told the maitre d' at Park Place.
"And your name, sir?" the maitre d' asked.
"Anakin Skywalker." The maitre d' scanned a list in front of him.
"Do you have reservations, sir?" he inquired politely. Buddy, you have no idea, Anakin thought.
"Uh, no, I don't have a reservation," he replied.
"I am sorry, sir," the maitre 'd told him snootily. "You must have a reservation to dine here on Friday or Saturday night."
"That figures," Anakin said. Suddenly, he had an idea. "Can I make a reservation now?" he asked.
"No, sir. Reservations must be made in advance." Anakin sighed.
"Of course, what was I thinking?" he asked rhetorically.
"Anakin?" Padmé was asking. He realized she had been trying to get his attention for a few moments now, and inwardly groaned. Now she'll think I was ignoring her.
"Sorry, I was just trying to figure out what to do," he told her, feeling like an idiot. "I don't want us to miss the movie."
"We'll just have to find a place where there's no wait," she said reasonably. "There must be at lest ONE restaurant on Coruscant where we can get seated right away, even on a Friday night."
"Welcome to McDiarmid's, can I take your order?" asked the bored-sounding young Rodian behind the counter.
"Go ahead, Padmé," Anakin said gallantly, trying desperately to sound as gentlemanly as possible under the circumstances.
"I'll have a Bantha Burger with no pickles, no onions, and extra Secret Sauce."
"Would you like to make that a Coruscant Combo for six cents more?" the Rodian asked.
"Sure," she replied.
"Curly fries or cole slaw?"
"Regular drink or supersize for three cents more?"
"And you sir?"
"Big McD Coruscant Combo with curly fries and a supersized drink." Padmé looked surprised. "I come here a lot," he told her, smiling sheepishly. The Rodian behind the counter quickly assembled their order and collected Anakin's money. Anakin picked up the tray of food and turned to say something to Padmé. As he did so, his foot came down on an unnoticed curly fry lying on the floor. He lost his balance, tipping the tray and its contents all over Padmé, who shrieked in surprise. "Oh my gods, I am so sorry!" he said. Without thinking, he grabbed some napkins and began blotting soda from Padmé's soaked chest.
"Hey!" she protested. Anakin froze, his hand on her breast.
"Sorry," he whispered, turning beet red and snatching his hand away as though it had been scalded. Padmé giggled.
"If you're going to grope me in public, at least have the decency to wait until we're in the movie theatre and people can't see us!" The Rodian shook his head.
"You guys are weird," he told them.
"Two to see I Know Why Chucky The Poltergeist's Exorcist Screamed Last Friday The Thirteenth on Elm Street: Part II," Anakin told the lady behind the glass window of the holomovie theatre's box office. The lady frowned at him.
"That movie is rated R. How old are you, young man?" she asked.
"Uh, I'm eighteen," he lied. She raised her eyebrows in disbelief.
"I suppose you have identification to prove it?" she asked. I can't believe this, he thought. All the rated R movies I've gone to see, and she picks NOW, when I'm here with Padmé, to ask for ID. The gods must hate me. Suddenly he had an idea. Concentrating on reaching out to her mind with the Force, Anakin waved his hand.
"You don't need to see my identification," he said nonchalantly. The lady's frown deepened.
"What?" she demanded. Anakin concentrated harder this time.
"Uh, you don't need to see my identification," he repeated, waving his hand again. The lady snorted.
"What do you think you are, some kind of Jedi, waving your hand around like that?" she asked scathingly. "Show some ID or pick another movie." Damn, damn, damn… I can't believe I'm too nervous to do the Mind Trick. Padmé must think I'm a total joke of a Jedi! Mortified, Anakin turned to Padmé.
"Would you like to see something else, Padmé?" he asked with great dignity, wishing the ground would open up and swallow him.
"Sure," she agreed, smiling.
"OK," Anakin said, turning back to the box office. "Two to see Force Wars: The Ewoks Strike Back."
"Sold out," the lady told him cheerfully.
"Uh… all right, two to see Bantha Run," he said, pulling several crumpled credits out of his pocket.
"Sorry, that's sold out too," she told him pleasantly. Anakin considered for a moment.
"Interview With The Sith Lord?" Anakin asked hopefully.
"Nope. Sold out."
"All right, two to see An Opee Sea Killer Called Wanda," he said desperately.
"Sold out," the lady chirped happily.
"Is there ANYTHING that isn't sold out?" Anakin asked. The lady smiled.
"I'm sorry, " Anakin mumbled as they sat in the darkened theatre eating popcorn.
"It's OK, Anakin. Really," Padmé reassured him for what seemed like the millionth time. "I've never seen The Barney Movie before." Groaning, Anakin slouched further down in his seat as all around him, preschoolers and their parents sang along with that stupid Barney song.
Poor Anakin, Padmé thought. Sabé was right – he is far more nervous than I. He has tried so hard to impress me and was thwarted at every turn. I feel so bad for him.
"Uh, Padmé?" Anakin asked, breaking into her thoughts.
"Yes, Anakin?" They were speeding through the warm night sky of Coruscant in the back of an air taxi.
"I was wondering if you wanted to see something…"
"Sure," she agreed. Anakin directed the taxi driver to stop at the Jedi Temple. He paid the driver and escorted Padmé out of the car and into the Temple.
"Shhh," he cautioned her, holding a finger to his lips as they snuck through the halls of the Temple. They came to a door, and Anakin punched in an elaborate clearance code. The door slid open, and Anakin took her hand and led her out into an open courtyard. "It's the Temple Arboretum," he told her.
"It's beautiful," she breathed, looking around at the even rows of trees all around her. There were species from more worlds than she could count, and some she did not recognize at all.
"I know," Anakin replied, slipping out of his boots and socks to stand barefoot in the cool, damp grass. Padmé slid her feet out of her shoes and followed Anakin through the carefully maintained "forest". He reached the base of a large tree, where he removed his brown outer cloak and spread it on the grass. He sat down and looked up at her, enjoying the look of wonder on her face.
"I had no idea this was even here," Padmé said, sinking down onto ground beside Anakin. All around her, she heard the sounds of night insects, specially imported from various worlds to maintain the small ecosystem of the Arboretum.
"Most people don't," he told her. "The first time I saw it, I was in shock. You don't see too many trees on Tatooine, and we didn't have grass there either. Now I come here every chance I get. Sometimes I bring my books and sit under this tree to study."
"I can see why you like it here," she said. "It's very peaceful." They looked at each other for a long moment before Padmé looked away. "Anakin," she said quietly. "I have to tell you something."
"Go ahead," he said, frowning at her serious tone. He was afraid he already knew what she was going to say – that he was too young for her, too immature, too clueless. That is why her next words surprised him.
"I have never been on a date before," she confessed. "I have never kissed a boy."
"Are you serious?" he blurted out. She glanced at him and then looked at the ground again.
"Yes, Anakin, I am serious."
"But…" he stammered, feeling foolish. "You're older… you're a Queen… and… and you're beautiful!" She smiled at him.
"Thank you, Anakin. But it's true. A Queen does not have much time for dating."
"I'm sorry your first date turned out to be with me," he told her.
"Why?" she asked, frowning. He shrugged.
"It was a failure," he said. "I mean, look at all the things that went wrong. You deserved better."
"Oh, Anakin," she said, touching his arm. "I don't need dinner in a fancy restaurant or to see the latest movie everyone's raving about. I had fun tonight just being with you."
"Really?" he asked hopefully. "You don't have to say that just to make me feel better."
"I'm not," she assured him. "I had a wonderful time. You are sweet and thoughtful and fun to be with." They were silent for a few minutes.
"I have something to tell you, too," he said. She looked at him expectantly as he continued. "I've never been on a date before, either." Hesitantly, he put his arm around her. "And I've never kissed a girl. So I guess we're figuring this stuff out together."
"I guess so," she whispered, her face very close to his. He brought his hand up to stroke her cheek. Slowly, tentatively, they moved closer and closer until finally their lips touched. Awkwardly at first, they kissed. Knowing that practice makes perfect, they spent quite some time striving for perfection under the night sky of Coruscant while crickets chirped in the grass and fireflies danced in the air all around them.