Chapter 36: Emperor

Padmé Amidala

I wake up alone.

It's cold, my body hurts, and I have no idea where I am. It's hard to gather my thoughts together as my head seems determined to see just how wildly it can spin. I'm so disoriented that I feel sick. For a moment, I simply lie there. I don't feel hurt, other than my spinning head, so hopefully this reprieve will be long enough for me to orient myself. I search my mind for the last thing I remember. For a long moment, there's nothing, then it all starts flooding in.

All of it.


The threats.

The shattering of our relationship.

Being snatched from the halls of 500 Republica by rough, wandering hands.

Being dragged before Rute Gunnay, his eyes full of hatred and lust.

Grabbing my hidden blaster and destroying Gunnay before he can fulfill the evil promise in his eyes.

Escaping through the sparsely guarded ship only to end up here.

Where here is and how I ended up here is the most immediate and alarming question at the moment. Am I in danger? Do I need to escape yet again? I sit up slowly, cautiously, looking around even as I ignore my screaming body. Other than some harsh handling, I wasn't really hurt during my abduction, so why am I so sore?

I take a moment to examine my surroundings. I'm lying on a small bed in a small room. It's bare save for a small holovid on the wall. From the slight movement and shudder underneath my feet, it's likely that I am in some type of transport. I hesitate as I contemplate leaving the room. It would be a risk, one that I'm not sure I'm willing to take. I feel awful and weak, so, the likelihood of any escape succeeding is low. All it would do is put my captors on high alert. I will bide my time here until I can figure out where I am and whose ship I'm on.

My attention turns to the door as movement sounds on the other side. I tense as the noise increases. However, when the door opens, the tension in me melts away. It's Qui-Gon Jin. The sigh of relief that releases from my chest is so huge that it clears the air out of my lungs. The Jedi must have come to rescue me. Thank the Force.

"Master Jin," I breathe, smiling at him. "I've never been so happy to see another person in my life."

Master Jin's eyes flicker. Finally, after a strangely long moment, he nods.

"I am glad that you are safe, Chancellor Amidala," he says, but his tone makes me frown. His voice is robotic and has a strange timbre to it. Why?

"Where's Obi-Wan?" I ask cautiously. Although I don't see him right now, I know he's around here somewhere. He's notorious about my safety and I'm surprised he's not hovering by my bedside. Surely, Obi-Wan isn't too far away.

"He's not here," Master Jin says abruptly.

His words give me pause. A sense of wrongness creeps up my spine, emphasized by Master Jin's carefully blank visage. Something has gone horribly wrong and I'm not sure I want to know what. "Master Jin," I repeat, "Where's Obi-Wan?"

"Chancellor Amidala," Master Jin says, his voice emotionless, his face expressionless. "Master Kenobi has passed into the Force."

For a second, his words phase through me. I stare at him stunned, my eyes widening as my mind processes what he said.

"That doesn't mean what I think it means, does it?" I ask him, voice trembling, even as my heart begins to sink to my feet.

Master Jin says nothing, but in that moment, his face falls. My breath catches at the sight. He looks utterly devastated and I know that it's true.

Obi-Wan is dead.

I close my eyes as numbness overcomes me. Taking a deep breath, I open my eyes again, grateful for the lack of feelings. If I felt anything right now, I would probably fall apart. Because Obi-Wan is dead. It doesn't feel real. Everything feels so strange. Is this real? When I try to speak, a croak comes out. I try again. "How?" I manage to say before my voice fails me again.

"Obi-Wan went with Anakin Skywalker to rescue you from Rute Gunnay," Master Jin says evenly. "Anakin Skywalker returned and Obi-Wan did not."

My mind blanks. I slump in the bed, eyes wide and face ashen. Obi-Wan was dead. And Anakin … killed him? The world tilts and I'm glad I'm lying down, otherwise I would have fallen.

I take deep breaths, even as pain threatens to overtake me. But I can't let it, I can't let it. I have to be strong. I have to be … I draw on the same meditative techniques I used years ago to overcome the death of my handmaidens. If I can simply get through this ordeal, then I can break down. But for now, I have to keep it together.

Even though nothing is right, even though Obi-Wan is dead.

When I open my eyes, Master Jin is looking at me. Something in his face shifts and softens minutely as he beholds my heartbroken visage. In the disconnected part of my mind that remains clear underneath the agony threatening to overtake me, I wonder if Obi-Wan ever divulged the nature of our relationship with Master Jin, or anyone. Does anyone know that Obi-Wan and are I are best friends? Do they know that he is my confidant and the only person, other than my family, who I'm close to?

Obi-Wan was always an intensely private person. Behind his friendly smile was a person who was as reticent as any secret organization. Was he even able to confide in Master Jin?

"I wish that was all the bad news that I had to give you," Master Jin says softly, turning away from me. "You should also know that Anakin Skywalker has removed you from power and declared himself Emperor of the galaxy. He gave a speech an hour ago."

I feel numb. Surely, surely Master Jin didn't say what I thought he's said.

"What?" I say softly, unable to comprehend.

Master Jin's face is tight. He moves to the holovid in front of us and moments later, it's on. I can only watch Anakin's speech in horror. The words that he speaks run together and I can't quite comprehend what he's saying. I can only see his passionate gaze, the convincing sorrow on his face and finally, determination and a horrifying amount of charisma.

Finally, I catch the most important part. Anakin's voice is firm and lively as he says, "I declare myself ruler of this new Galactic Empire. Together, we will defeat the Trade Federation and bring peace to the galaxy!"

I can only stare at the video in amazed despair as the people stand up and cheer him, as though he's their savior and didn't just declare himself dictator over the known universe. "So, this is how liberty dies," I say matter-of-factly, with the barest hint of a laugh, "with thunderous and earth-shattering applause."

My eyes stay glued to the screen as Anakin opens his arms wide as though embracing the crowd, much like I did only a few days ago. The horrible irony of the situation doesn't escape me.

Master Jin cuts off the holovid and I slump back into my bed, mentally spent. How did this happen? How could this have happened? Obi-Wan is dead, Anakin Skywalker, a Sith, is now the Emperor of a newly formed dictatorship. And what am I doing? Watching Master Jin stare into space, forgoing even the appearance that his heart isn't shattered.

His despair is very much shared and I can do nothing but stare at him, at the one who has caused all of this: Anakin Skywalker. Did he really kill Obi-Wan? Has he really used my kidnapping as a way to usurp my position, the one I've worked my whole life for?

In that moment, I hate Anakin Skywalker with every fiber of my being. I can't believe that he did this. I cannot believe that he did this.

I cannot believe that he has done this.

"Chancellor Amidala," Master Jin begins quietly. "You should also know that the Jedi are now fugitives of the law and are to be taken into custody immediately."

I turn to him.

"Why?" I ask dully, unable to react.

"For allegedly colluding with the Trade Federation to kidnap you," he states solemnly.

There is a roaring sound in my skull and a sickening pressure behind my eyes and in my chest.


This is Anakin's doing.

The pressure in my chest increases. How, how could this have happened? How could Anakin have so easily taken over an established governmental body? How? How? My mind is in jumbles. I can't think. Force, I can't breathe. It's too much. Obi-Wan is dead. Anakin has successfully declared himself Emperor of the new Galactic Empire and made the Jedi outlaws. I … I can't …

I turn to Master Jin, stricken, even as my chest continues to tighten. That's when I realize: I can't breathe.

I can't breathe.

I turn to Master Jin in panic, gasping as an encompassing weakness enters my body.

Master Jin notices my plight immediately and his eyes narrow in alarm at my scared visage. He moves toward me, but it's too late. My eyes roll just as Master Jin lunges toward me. My hand is clutching my chest and I'm going down. The world goes dark.


When I wake, I immediately know that I'm back in Coruscant. There's a rhythm about the planet that is impossible to copy.

I look around and see that I'm in what is obviously a medical facility. Master Jin must have brought me here when I fainted. I frown at the thought. I fainted. Why did I faint?

I was roughed up from my episode with Rute Gunnay, but it wasn't anything serious. So, why did I pass out? I can count on one hand the amount of times I've done so in my life. Even in the height of my despair on Naboo, I didn't faint. But I fainted. Now, I am hungry, so hungry that I could eat a whole gundark. It's strange. Very strange. Am I sick?

I'm almost glad to have to deal with something like this; something so ridiculously mundane that it takes my mind off of everything that's happened: Obi-Wan's death, Anakin's betrayal, the danger that the Jedi are in and the destruction of my life's work.

I may be sick but for once it's a good thing. I need something, even this, to take my mind off of the horrible events that have not only turned my world upside down, but the galaxy upside down. But where is Master Jin?

I don't have to wait long. He enters silent, a human doctor following closely behind. Master Jin's face is pale and… strange again. He has an expression that I can't quite name. It elicits a sense of foreboding within me. Is something truly wrong with me? It is my thought that stress is my biggest problem. But… do I have a more serious ailment on top of everything else? Please, Force, let it not be so. I really, truly can't take anymore.

Master Jin moves to sit next to me, while the doctor stands, a holoboard in his hands.

"Hello, Chancellor Amidala," he says kindly, just the slightest hint of awe leaking in his words. "My name is Doctor Linek. Master Jin brought you here as quickly as possible because he was concerned about your condition. Thankfully, your babies are healthy. It seems as though they haven't suffered any adverse effects from your ordeal."

My mind goes blank. I turn to Master Jin with wide eyes and I know that I look like a complete lunatic.

"Babies?" I squeak to him. I turn back to the doctor. "Babies?" I repeat, my voice rising into something that sounds suspiciously like hysteria.

The doctor's face shows confusion before transforming into apology. "I'm sorry, Chancellor Amidala," he says with sympathy. "I didn't know you were unaware of your pregnancy."

I can only gape at him before my mind snags on something. "Did you say babies?" I ask with mouth agape. "As in more than one?"

"Yes," he confirms with concern. "You are carrying twins."

My strength fails me and I fall back into my bed with a loud thud. Master Jin has risen at my action, and hovers over me anxiously. But I am only marginally cognizant of his presence.


I'm pregnant.

I stare at the ceiling as I lay in the cold, sterile room.

I'm pregnant.

With Anakin Skywalker's seed.

I'm pregnant.

And it's not just one child, no, I'm pregnant with twins.

My mind races as I think about all the time that Anakin sexed me up. My heart sinks as I realize that we never used protection. Not even once. And now, nature has made itself known. I'm pregnant.

I am reeling. Absolutely reeling. I can't even think. I'm pregnant. With twins.

Anakin's twins.

There is a long moment of silence before the doctor murmurs another quick apology and slips out of the room.

Master Jin remains standing by my bed. My mind is still reeling. It feels surreal. I can't believe that this has happened. I can't believe it.

Master Jin shifts and I can tell that he wants to ask me something. I turn to look at him expectantly, but with blank eyes.

He hesitates before asking softly, "Is Ob-Wan…?" The question trails off and I look at him in confusion. Then it hits me and my throat clogs as I realize what Master Jin is trying ask me. He wants to know if Obi-Wan is the father of my children. With a wedge lodged in my throat, I shake my head in denial. His face crumples into itself before the mask is up again. After a long moment, he nods before withdrawing deep into his robes.

My heart hurts for Master Jin. He loves Obi-Wan so much that he wishes that my babies were his even though it is not the Jedi way. They're not. I'm sure Master Jin knows who the father of these children is, but he's too respectful, even at this time, to ask me directly. I appreciate it more than I can say, because if I have to say aloud who the father is, something in my mind might just snap.

I close my eyes as I sense Master Jin settle next to me.

I have to get out of here. The thought comes to me suddenly. I can't be here devastated, but safe in this hospital. I have a place that I need to be and it's not here. But how to get away from Master Jin? There's no way he would condone what I'm going to do. Obi-Wan is gone and I can tell by Master Jin's voice that he intends to look after me in honor of Obi-Wan. I won't be able to shake Master Jin if he gets even an inkling of what I'm about to do.

However, getting away still shouldn't be too hard. I just found out that my best friend is dead, my boyfriend has taken over the galaxy and that I'm pregnant with twins. Even the most difficult person would understand my need for space.

"I'd like to be alone," I whisper and it's easy to sound devastated, because I very much am.

There is silence for a moment before I hear the rustling of Master Jin's clothing. "Yes," he murmurs. "I will be nearby should you need anything."

I nod, listening motionlessly as his soft footsteps patter across the floor and then disappears.

I give it a little while before I slowly swing out of bed. Grabbing my cloak and pulling it around me, I slide out of the room. There's little security which is no surprise. Master Jin would have taken me somewhere circumspect that Anakin couldn't find me, which means a place that isn't surrounded by guards.

I dodge a few of the medical staff before I find the exit. Then, I am gone, blending into the masses and becoming just one more of Coruscant's millions of citizens.


Something is leading me somewhere. Is it the Force? I'm not sure, but I decide to trust it. Doing nothing would allow the madness awaiting me to overtake me. I need to do something even if it means following a strange instinct that keeps urging me on. It's enough to keep me sane for the moment.

I grimace when I realize that I'm being led to the Jedi Temple.

Then, I know where I need to go. Years ago, Obi-Wan showed me a little-known path to a room on the 4th floor of the Jedi Temple. It was big and spacious, with large windows. Best of all, it's facing the Senate. I'll easily be able to see what's going on from there.

In the chaos, it's ridiculously easy to reach my destination.

The galaxy has been turned upside down with Anakin's announcement of the betrayal of the Jedi. Now, shops are closing and people are scattering about in absolute panic. My heart aches at the scene. The people are so scared and so unsure. Just a few days ago, it looked as though stability and prosperity were possible, but now, there is so much confusion.

I grit my teeth as I reach my destination.

It's Anakin. Why the hell has he done this? Taking a deep breath, I attempt to center myself. Now is not the time to go on an Anakin rampage, no matter how much I want to. I must be in the right frame of mind to face whatever's coming next.

Settling myself within the shadows of the room, I wait.


I wake suddenly.

For a moment, I'm disoriented. Then, I see where I am, and I remember what's about to happen here. Sitting up, I groan soundlessly. I am sore again. Now I know that it is an early sign of pregnancy, one that I could have done without.

I frown as I sit up. Something feels off. I'm not quite sure what it is, but something doesn't feel right. It takes me several long moments to figure out what it is.

It's quiet. Coruscant is quiet. It's the middle of the day, and I don't hear anything.

A chill running down my spine, I move to the window and swallow as the reality of what's in front of me begins to sink in. There's not a person in sight. It's like a desolate wasteland. I've never seen Coruscant this still, heard it this quiet. It's almost unnatural. I didn't know that there were even enough empty spaces on this planet for all the denizens of Coruscant to disappear into at once. It makes me incredibly uneasy and emphasizes just how horribly important and impossible this situation is. The air is as empty as the ground save for the alarming amount of patrols that hover menacingly in the sky. No one would dare to come near this place right now. There are no civilians, no media, no politicians to witness what will happen here today. There is no one who can stop what will happen here today; only me. And I must stop it, I will stop it, or di-

I frown. I can't die while trying. Not for a moment do I think that my life is in danger. Even now, despite what Anakin has done, the feeling remains that he won't kill me. It's one reason why I have allowed myself to do this. I'm pregnant, I'm going to be a mother. No matter what, I have to stop whatever's going to happen here and live while doing it.

Please, Force, please. Help me get through to Anakin.

Not for the first time today, I give thanks for my instincts. If I had not hidden here earlier, there's no way I would have gotten within even a stone's throw of this place. It's a good thing that I've brought everything I need; my bag and the sky droid to make the descent. If I hadn't, there's no way I would have been able to do this.

I look out the window again. There's something moving toward the temple. I squint at it before freezing.

It's an army, a massive clone army. And it's moving toward to temple. I stare in alarm at the spectacle and stiffen when my eyes distinguish a lone figure marching in front of the enormous force. It's Anakin and near to him, is a Dathomirian Zabrak who wears the same dark garments. Another Sith? I didn't know that there were two. The steady march toward the Jedi temple is surprisingly quick. It should take such a large body of people longer to cover that much ground, but it's a testament to the horror of the situation that the fifteen minutes it takes them to get so close to the Jedi Temple seems to happen in seconds.

Now, Anakin is closer than is safe to the Jedi. It's time for me to intervene. I take a deep breath, then another one. I don't want to do this. I'm scared sick, terrified, really. I don't know how far gone Anakin is. I don't know if he will even listen to me. I don't know if he killed Obi-Wan and if I could live with it if he did. I'm not sure how I'm going to react upon seeing him after he's successfully turned the entire galaxy upside down. And I really, really don't want to do this. But I have no choice. I have to do this. I have to. Taking another deep breath, I don't wait for my fear to abate, I force myself beyond it as I grab the hover droid that will allow me to reach my destination.

I step off the side of the balcony.

I drop.

I can feel the exact moment when those below realize that something is hurtling down toward them from above their heads. The intensity of their glares on me, the quick sharpness of their focus is nearly physical. I fight to remain focused as I descend, aware that the only reason they have not shot me into oblivion is because of my signature clothes. It was another intentional move, one that I knew was necessary. I cannot know for sure that they would not have united in that one moment just to shoot down the person foolish enough to intrude upon this sacred showdown. It was imperative that they know from a mere glance who I was.

Releasing a steadying breath, I slowly hover the last few feet to the ground. There's absolutely silence as I stand between the two warring factions; the Jedi and the Sith. Nothing moves.

Everything is deadly quiet.

Even the wind stops blowing.

It's a moment when time stops, when it feels as though the mysterious entity that is the Force has placed all its attention on this moment.

Now, standing here, and looking Anakin in the face since he Force-choked me and broke our relationship, I feel empty. He is as handsome as ever, wearing a strange imitation of Jedi robes, that instead of being neutral colors are a bold red and black. Sith colors? However, his handsomeness doesn't move me like it did before; the joy that I had begun to feel upon merely seeing his face is absent. Perhaps it's the knowledge that our relationship will never be the same, maybe it's the fact that Obi-Wan's dead, or maybe it's because I'm pregnant and have no idea how to fucking feel about it. Either way, as I look upon Anakin's face right now, I feel nothing.

"So," Anakin murmurs softly, his voice cutting through the silence like a warm knife through butter, loud and sharp enough for all to hear. "This is where you were hiding."

"Yes, it is," I say calmly. "I had to take a moment to deal with the fact that I'd been ousted as the head of a governmental body that no longer exists."

His eyes flicker before hardening once more. My resolve firms when I see it, even as I brace myself. Anakin is in full Sith mode. Despite wanting to attack him, I know I can't. `If I attack him, he's going to respond as a Sith would and then all will be lost. I need to suppress Darth Vader so that Anakin can surface. Darth Vader can't be reasoned with, but Anakin Skywalker can.

"What are you doing, Anakin?" I continue, just as calmly.

"I think it's obvious," he replies, voice equally calm. He waves a hand behind him, "I'm going to use this army of clones to destroy the Jedi."

I am aware of the incredible spike of tension behind me from the Jedi, but I am silent at his words, choosing to meet his eyes as he speaks.

"I'm surprised you're trying to stop me, Padmé," he continues, tilting his head at me. "You've never been a big fan of the Jedi. But don't worry. After today, you won't have to deal with their bullshit ever again."

"Well, I'm even less of fan of genocide, Anakin," I reply matter-of-factly. "I much rather they be here than dead."

He doesn't respond to my statement, but instead, studies me. I can nearly feel his gaze as his sickly yellow eyes bore into my body. "I'm surprised. You seem to be taking this whole situation rather well."

I can only stare at him incredulously.

"Well," I respond in disbelief. "You think I'm taking this well? Trust me Anakin, if I had the Force, I'd definitely fall into the Dark Side right now, because all I can think about doing is choking the shit out of you. And beating your ass bloody with a bat."

I pause for a minute as the yellow in Anakin's eyes waver and turn into blue. His eyes widen in surprise, and a faint smile crosses his lips. The sight of the smirk should give me hope, but instead, it infuriates me. How dare he think this is funny? This is nowhere near being a laughing matter.

Everything pauses as I feel the Jedi stare at me. I turn to glare at them, my stoic gaze telling them that I'm completely serious. I know that I've surprised them; the Jedi don't know the nature of my relationship with Anakin. Although they know that we're dating, they don't know the dynamics of it; whether we're sweet with one another, or whether I'm a zombie girlfriend who does everything he says. Well, they're about to get an ear and eyeful because the emptiness from before is being filled and it's being filled with a lot of bad. Suddenly, suddenly, I very much want to kill Anakin Skywalker.

"This was my life's work, Anakin," I say quietly, anger beginning to seep in my voice. "My life's work, my life's dream. And not only did you destroy it, but you're using it to fulfill your need to decimate the Jedi. Did you just think I'd sit back and say nothing about this? I'm so angry right now that… that..."

I am so furious that I can't speak and to my mortification, I feel my eyes moisten as tears of fury begin to gather there. Force, I have never hated angry tears more than I have in this moment. I don't want the liquid in my eyes to fool him; if I had my trusty blaster handy, I would have completely destroyed it by unloading every bolt of energy I could into Anakin's sorry ass.

"Your … unseating was an unavoidable consequence of my plans," he says, hands curling slightly by his side, doing nothing to quell the burgeoning rage. "However, you are still Supreme Chancellor."

"Except, apparently, I answer to the Emperor, now," I hiss, eyes flashing. "Seems like you're moving up in the galaxy, Your Highness."

He frowns, displeased, but I don't give a fuck. I want to kill him! It's taking all of my willpower to control myself. "And what about what you did to me before I got kidnapped?" I spit at him.

His frown deeps. "I was angry," he says smoothly, "but now, I understand your intentions, and I forgive you."

My eyes nearly bug out of my head. "You forgive me?" I say, the words trailing off into a whisper. I can only stare at him for his gall. How does someone be that…?

"But now is not the time to talk about this, Padmé," he continues, giving me a pointed look. "The culmination of my plans happens right now and you won't stop me. I will have my revenge on the Jedi. I have worked for years to see the fruition of my plans and I will not allow them to go to naught. The people are scared, and they don't trust the Jedi. This is the optimal time to rid myself of them and I will do it." His voice increases in vigor as he continues and when I open my mouth to stop Anakin's words, it happens: A strange smell appears out of nowhere. With a frown, I sniff the air only to nearly gag as the scent doubles in intensity. By the kriffing Force, what is that horrible odor?

Anakin's voice begins to fade out even as my stomach continues to churn. Goodness, where is it coming from? Did someone suddenly spray themselves down with the vilest perfume known to man? And why the hell am I suddenly smelling-

My eyes widen when I realize what's happening. Is it possible that I'm experiencing my family's infamous pregnancy symptoms now? But things aren't supposed to happen like this! I'm in the middle of one of the most important confrontations of my life and I feel like throwing up? Isn't this supposed to wait until everything is resolved? Isn't this supposed to… to...

My face folds into itself as another wave of nausea hits me. I can't ignore it, it's too strong. I don't think that I can hold it. I'm … I'm …!

With a lurch, I race toward a nearby hedge of bushes and hurl everything that Master Jin so patiently coaxed into me onto the ground. I heave as my body rejects everything that I've ingested. Force, but this is hell. I am aware of the abrupt stop to Anakin's speech, but I can't pay attention to him. Is this what my mother and Sola had to experience when they were pregnant? I know our pregnancy symptoms are legendary on Naboo, but nothing could prepare me for what's happening to me now. I am cognizant of consternation and concern behind me at what has to be an extremely abrupt and strange turn of events. The Jedi are alarmed, but Anakin is … right beside me.

I dry heave, even as I feel him holding my hair. The rebellion in my stomach goes on for a while longer before it settles enough for me to straighten with a labored groan.

He produces a cloth out of nowhere and I gratefully take it to wipe my mouth. Fumbling with my bag, I grab a mint and pop it, ignoring how gross my mouth feels and tastes. My mom's horror stories of her pregnancies with Sola and I prepared me well for my own symptoms. I'm really grateful that I took those few crucial moments to prepare.

With incredible effort, I try to move to my feet only to find that my body isn't interested in cooperating. Once again, Anakin is there to patiently help me to my feet.

Once I'm upright, I glare at him and smack his hands away before marching back to where I was, between the Jedi and the clone army. I ignore the incredulous looks being given to me by both Anakin and the Jedi. I'm sure the Jedi have never been so confused in their lives. They don't know what's going on and neither does Anakin. Master Yoda stands in the middle of the Jedi's forces, looking at me with wise, all-knowing eyes. I avoid his gaze as I turn toward the army.

Anakin slowly moves back to his position in front of the clone army. We gaze at each other for a long moment before he nods at me. "What's wrong with you?" he says it quietly, but the tenor of his voice sends chills down my spine. It is intense and so sharp. He wants to know what's wrong with me and he wants to know now.

I freeze. What do I do? Should I tell Anakin about the children? I haven't had enough time to process the situation for myself, but I know enough to decide in that moment not to tell him. If he destroys the Jedi, then then… I don't know. But I won't tell him, I can't tell him. I need to waylay him, and I know just how to do it. I will answer his question with another question, a question I have to know the answer to.

"Did you kill Obi-Wan?"

Everything freezes. The temperature drops as everyone refocuses once more.

Anakin's eyes narrow as yellow flickers into his eyes again. My eyes move to his Sith companion. During this entire time, the Dathomirian Zabrak has been still and silent, but he shifts at the mention of Obi-Wan's name. It's telling. Whatever happened to Obi-Wan is not as straightforward as everyone thinks. There's more to his death than what's been revealed.

"I'll ask you again, Anakin," I repeat quietly. "Did you kill Obi-Wan?" I know that the Jedi thinks that Anakin did, but I don't want to believe it. Despite the animosity between them, they have history together. Surely Anakin wouldn't really kill him. Surely not. I don't want to believe that he would.

"Is that what the Jedi told you?" Anakin asks harshly, turning his yellow gaze to them in disgust. "It doesn't fucking matter how he died. He's dead, which is exactly how he should be."

Anakin's words leave me cold. Trembling, I shake my head. "Obi-Wan was my best friend, Anakin," I speak again, voice rising. "I want to know how he died. The last thing we know is that he went with you to rescue me. Only you came back and Obi-Wan is gone! How the fuck did Obi-Wan die, Anakin!"

I am screaming at him now. The knowledge of Obi-Wan's death is so painful and raw that I refuse to dwell on it. But now, the horrible knowledge that he's gone is building into an unavoidable zenith that's utterly overwhelming. If Anakin Skywalker doesn't give me answers now...

"What the fuck does it matter, Amidala?" Anakin explodes back, equally furious. "He's gone! He's dead. He's finally dead!"

And I want to explode, I want to murder Anakin, I want to dissolve into tears. The Jedi move and despite their creed, I know that they are angry. Obi-Wan was so good, loyal and true. It's truly a tragedy that such a promising young Jedi is gone. That his supposed murderer stands so proudly in front of them makes a difficult situation, impossible. If not for Master Yoda's presence, I'm sure that there are those who would have attacked Anakin by now. Obi-Wan was truly well beloved by the Jedi. Anakin's unrepentant words and unwillingness to explain what happened on Gunnay's ship only adds to the belief that he was responsible for Obi-Wan's demise.

But there is something in Anakin's voice that makes me pause. He doesn't sound like he's gloating; he sounds sad. But how could that be? I need to dig deeper, but I have to do it carefully. Darth Vader will shut down Anakin's emotions if I go about this the wrong way. I can't allow what the Jedi think to influence me. I know Anakin much better than they do, and the biggest reason why Anakin wanted Obi-Wan dead was because Obi-Wan, however unintentionally, betrayed him. But the reason Obi-Wan's betrayal hurt so deeply was not just because of Sidious, but because… because…

My eyes widen as the answer comes to me.

Crossing my arms, I study the Sith Lord standing across from him. He looks so hard, so angry, so hurt.

"I don't think you killed Obi-Wan," I say quietly, my voice filling the long, agonizing silence. "I don't think you were capable of killing Obi-Wan."

Anakin's gaze shoots to me and I can feel the skepticism radiating off of the Jedi. I'm not surprised. They don't understand Anakin and Obi-Wan's relationship. They're about to find out.

"Are you saying that I am weak?" Anakin says dangerously, yellow eyes narrowing.

I shake my head slowly. "No, you are anything but weak, Anakin. But I know, that despite everything you've said and everything you've done, you don't hate Obi-Wan, Anakin. You love him."

Silence reigns at my declaration. I can feel the Jedi's belief and confusion at my words. But Anakin completely closes up. His eyes deaden and his face becomes blank.

"What are you talking about," he whispers expressionlessly. "I hate Obi-Wan."

"No, Anakin," I say, as I feel tears ache in my throat. "You're angry with him, but you never hated him."

The deadness in Anakin's eyes flees, dissolving into a growing fury. "He betrayed me," Anakin hisses, eyes flashing. "He used me!"

"We both know that isn't true, Anakin," I rebut gently, "you know that the only reason I'm here is because the Jedi, mainly Obi-Wan and Master Qui-Gon, rescued me from Nute Gunray. You also know that they returned for you, but by then, you were gone."

Anakin falls silent and I can tell that he's struggling internally. I'm not sure if I should continue pushing, but something tells me to move forward. The Force?

"Your mother told me about you and him when I took her from Tatooine," I continue conversationally. "She said it was the first time in your life that you'd ever shown interest in anyone other than her. While it's true that you noticed Qui-Gon, you bonded with Obi-Wan, and in a way that she was always sure you'd never be capable of doing with another sentient being. So, when it seemed like Obi-Wan abandoned you, you were devastated."

Anakin mouth thinned and he looked away as the words echoed through the stillness.

"She said that you stopped eating," I continue softly, "that you wouldn't say a word to her after you found that Obi-Wan had gone."

Anakin was silent, but his hands are clenched by his sides, nearly hidden by his robes. I feel so strange right now. I'm so incredibly angry at him, but I hurt for him too. He needs to know this. For too long, he and Obi-Wan didn't do what they should have long ago; talked. Not as Jedi or as Sith, but as two people who had a history that was never resolved. Now, it has come to this and Anakin needs to know. He needs to know everything.

"Obi-Wan used to tell me about you, you know," I say, a small smile gracing my features. "I didn't know it was you that he was talking about, but his eyes were sad when he spoke of the incredible boy that he met in the Outer Rim. He said that you were a genius, that you could fix anything and that you were the best pilot he'd even seen. He told me about how the you won the Boonta Eve Classic on Tattooine, a race that no human should have been capable of and that you did it at the age of nine!"

Anakin's face is turned away from me, but I can tell that he's listening. He's listening so closely that my heart aches for him. Is he really so desperate to hear of Obi-Wan's feelings for him? Did he never understand what was in Obi-Wan's heart?

"But the one thing that was always clear was that his regret. He talked about how you would have made an incredible Jedi, about how much you'd love the Jedi Temple. He always talked about you as though it was only a matter of time before you saw the Temple for yourself."

Anakin turns to me and his features are formed into a sneer. The expression twists his handsome features. "And why the fuck would Obi-Wan talk like that?"

I quiet as I stare at him. Should I tell him? It's not mine to tell. Then, I feel it. It's almost like a confirmation, a release to tell him something that he should have been told from the beginning.

"Because Obi-Wan was looking for you," I say the words quietly and they echo in the silence, swelling like waves in the sea.

Stunned, Anakin's head snaps to me and every part of him is focused on me. "What?" he whispers with wide eyes.

"There's a reason Obi-Wan always took missions in the Outer Rim, Anakin," I tell him, finally divulging the secret that Obi-Wan had kept most of his life. "Obi-Wan was looking for you. He never stopped looking for you, not until the day he saw you in the Senatorial Archives did he stop taking missions in the Outer Rim. Obi-Wan has spent the majority of his life combing the galaxy for you."

I shake my head slowly as Anakin's brows pulled together in surprise. "Do you have any idea how many times Obi-Wan has been to Tatooine?" I continue, voice a bit sharper than I intend, but unable to stop my emotions from leaking out. "More times that I can count."

I shake my head as I, not for the first time, marvel at Obi-Wan's dedication. "Jedi are not allowed to own possessions. Yet there are times when they are bestowed commendations by different agencies within the Jedi. Usually the Jedi are allowed to trade these items for small necessities that don't violate the code. Obi-Wan never traded these items and he had a lot of them. People thought that he was doing it to be an example of the model Jedi, but that's not why he did it. He saved every last one, because he wanted to be prepared just in case he needed to buy your freedom."

As I talk, Anakin slowly begins to shake his head. "That can't be true," he says, agitation clear in his voice. "No one looked for me."

"Obi-Wan did," I counter fiercely. "He was so determined that it didn't matter whether he had to buy you from slavers or negotiate for your release, he was going to find you and bring you to the Temple. He didn't allow anything to stop him. He made a promise to you and he refused to give up on it. He refused to give up on you."

The look on Anakin's face hurts my soul. It's a mixture of stubborn disbelief with the fainted bit of hope.

"You're lying," he says slowly, hesitantly. "Obi-Wan really looked for me?"

"Yes, he didn't want the mistakes of the past to be your future. He cared about you so much Anakin, that he shaped and molded his life around finding you. His interaction with you changed his life. All he wanted was for you to be safe and happy," I shake my head, marveling at Obi-Wan's stubbornness, his dedication in finding Anakin. "Obi-Wan was so serious about you that he would have given his life for you if he could have."

That's when it hit me. The truth. I will never know what gave me this knowledge, whether it was the Force or my own intuition, but suddenly I know. I know how Obi-Wan died.

"That's how Obi-Wan died, isn't it," I say, eyes slightly widening, the revelation of it dawning on me. "Obi-Wan died saving you."

I say it as soon as the revelation falls into my head. However, I misjudged Anakin's mood. I had no idea how much my words were pushing him. Speaking those words into the air were the straw that broke the shaak's back because Anakin snaps.

And the world begins to move.

"No one asked him to fucking do that!" Anakin cries wildly with crazed eyes, confirming the revelation, even as an incredibly impossible power whips around him, around us all. "I wanted him to die, but not like that! I wanted to kill him, to cut him down! I didn't ask him to die saving me!"

I marvel and am in awe of the strength of his power, even as my heart bleeds at the pain and frustration on his face. I've known for a long time that one of Anakin's problems is his inability to handle his emotions. But looking upon him in that moment, I realize just how pitiful of a creature Anakin Skywalker is. Surely, the Jedi see what I see: This man is a walking ball of chaotic, twisted emotion. Anakin as he is now is the culmination of years of hurt, anger, and disappointment wrapped into one incredibly powerful and handsome package. But after all Anakin's been through, he's so deserving of compassion that I feel my throat tighten painfully at the knowledge of it. He is so in need of love that it hurts.

He must see a little of what I feel in my eyes, and it infuriates him. "I don't need your pity!" he rages, and my eyes widen as the shaking worsens, causing me to nearly lose my balance. But I steel myself. I won't let this throw me off.

"No," I say slowly, standing ground, refusing be intimidated even as the clones begin to fall over one another. "You deserve much more than that."

And he does. He deserves something he doesn't have to question, something that he can trust. And I will give it to him, I have to find a way to give it to him. But first I need him to calm down.

"I know that you didn't ask him to do that, Anakin," I say quietly, "but it doesn't change the fact that he did. Now, do you understand that maybe, all these years, you've looked at this the wrong way?"

He stares at me, his breathing hard. Then he closes his eyes and I know he is trying to regain control over his emotions. Finally, after a few moments, the power around him begins to calm down.

He opens his eyes again. Anakin's teeth clenches in his head and his hands are once again balled into fists. I take a small step toward him.

"This can be the end, Anakin. For Obi-Wan, for his sacrifice, for everyone; your vengeance can end right here," I persist evenly, careful to keep my tone neutral and non-threatening. Where there were so many thoughts raging in my mind before, now, my mind is focused only on Anakin.

Anakin's eyes flicker. There's something in his eyes, a struggle that goes beyond this moment. Maybe…?

"Obi-Wan said something to you, didn't he?" I ask gently.

Anakin stiffens slightly, and I know that I've touched on something. But he is stock still, refusing to move and making no indication that he is truly hearing me. I have to make him respond. He needs to release the emotions that has held him hostage for so many years. He needs relief. I just need to get him to talk.

"What did Obi-Wan say to you, Anakin?" I ask softly, hoping I'm asking the right question. "What did he want?"

Anakin frowns, his eyes moving to the Jedi lined up behind me, then settling on me. There is silence for a moment before I ask again. "Will you tell me, Anakin?" I ask, trying to keep the tears from my voice. I fall silent as I gaze upon Anakin's motionless form. The silence stretches, lengthens.

At this point, I don't know anything else to say. I don't know any other way to get the answers I'm looking for. Truly, all the cards are in Anakin's hands. Whether he answers or commands the clone army to kill the Jedi, he has all the power and control. I can only wait and pray that he will respond to me.

Finally, finally, he speaks. And when he does, his face is turned away, as though his mind has been pulled back to the moment of Obi-Wan's death.

"He wanted it all to end with his death," Anakin says quietly, face hidden in the shadow of the hood of his robes.

I close my eyes at Anakin's words. How is it that even in death, Obi-Wan is thinking of others? That Obi-Wan is thinking of the well-being of both Anakin and the Jedi? Obi-Wan was far from perfect, but he didn't need perfection in order to be an amazing person. Force, but I miss him already. I miss him so much. And knowing that he's no longer around… it feels as though the galaxy has lost something grand.

Does Anakin feel the same sense of loss? If his actions are any indication, he does. But will it be enough?

"And will you, Anakin?" I inquire quietly. "Will you honor Obi-Wan's last wish and stop this?" With a wave of my hand, I indicate the Jedi standing guard behind me and then toward the clone army gathered behind him.

He hesitates, and I can see the indecision in his eyes. Everything is so quiet, so still.

Then, he slowly shakes his head and my stomach sinks all the way to my toes.

"I can't, Padmé," he says almost sadly. "I can't stop."

At the consternation on my face, he releases a joyless smile. "You don't understand, Padmé. Once you start down the dark path, it will forever dominate your destiny. I have walked with the Dark Side for so long. It won't let me go."

It was a horrible statement that made my skin crawl and my gut clench. Is the Dark Side of the Force a living entity? The thought is terrifying. Is it a malevolent force grasping at him, constantly pulling at him? Is that why he is always so angry, because he is always fighting?

"You can break free, Anakin," I say, taking another step toward him. "You can. It might be impossible for others. But for you, for Anakin Skywalker, you can do anything."

I believe it with all my heart. This is the man who made me fall in love with him, who pulled himself from the dregs of slavery to become, still to my anger, emperor of the galaxy. This is the man who has the Jedi at the point of decimation after only five years of planning. If he can do all of that, he can break free from the Dark Side. But he needs more; he needs one final push and I'm going to give it to him.

"You wanted to know what's wrong with me, right Anakin?" I ask suddenly, steadily moving closer to him.

He refocuses on me. His eyes are wary and concerned in equal measure and once more, he is bursting with opposing emotions. I will draw out the love, and the hope. If I do, then he'll be able to break free of the Dark Side's hold. I know he will.

"It doesn't matter what it is," he growls, eyes narrowing. "You're not allowed to leave me. I will see this illness destroyed."

Amazingly, I feel the slightest bit amusement. Of course, he would exhibit caveman tendencies right now, in this moment. Not even an illness would dare defy Anakin and seek to take me from him.

"This is not an illness you can destroy, Anakin," I say with the barest smile. "Fortunately, this is not a condition you need to. It'll resolve itself in about… six and a half months."

His face showed anger and confusion, then he froze. Everything stilled. If I didn't know he was a living, breathing, organism, I would have thought that he turned into a statue.

"Anakin," I say, suddenly scared as to how he's going to react. "I'm pregnant."

His eyes balloon open and his eyes, flickering between yellow and blue, turn completely blue.

"Pregnant?" he whispers.

"Yes," I say, and I can understand how stunned he is. It's exactly how I felt when I found out. It's such a common phenomenon, procreating, that it's taken for granted. But now I'm pregnant. I'm still unable to believe that I'm carrying life.

He is stock still and for a moment, I wonder if I miscalculated. Anakin never made any indication that he wanted children. Did I do the right thing-?

"You're pregnant," he repeats again, as though unable to wrap his mind around the notion.

"Yes," I answer simply, my hand automatically moving to my belly.

His eyes follow the motion and I feel hope at the emotion in his eyes.

"Are… they healthy?" he says finally, turning away from me. "Are they safe?"

I almost smile in joy at his words. Though his tone makes it seem as though he doesn't care, just the fact that he's asking is enough to tell me differently. He cares enough about them to worry if my kidnapping had any adverse effect on them. Thankfully, it didn't. My children are safe and sound in my womb. Suddenly, I frown as Anakin's words strike me.

"They?" I ask suspiciously, tiling my head as I look at him. "How did you know that there was a 'they,' Anakin?"

His eyes rest on me before looking away and his hands begin to twitch in the way that it does when he's hiding something from me, like when I came home from a meeting one day and found all the sweets in my cooler gone.

"Anakin," I repeat, voice rising, "how did you know that there was a 'they'?'"

He doesn't answer, instead, he says something that completely stuns me.

"Marry me," he says curtly, and I inhale sharply even as I freeze.

He stares at me as he continues. "Marry me," Anakin repeats, "and I will spare the Jedi."

I can only stare at him in shock and disbelief as his words wash over me. Marry him! Anakin wants me to marry him? Of all the requests, of all the scenarios that I've pictured in my head, this is not one of them. I don't know what to say, I don't know how to feel. I'm still angry with him about all the things he's done. But my heart … why did it leap when he said those words?

Because no matter what, and despite what he's done …

I … I …

I stare at Anakin for a long moment. The Jedi are tense behind me. I turn to look at them for a long moment, then I turn back to Anakin.

Slowly, I shake my head. I look at the Sith in front of me. "No, Anakin," I say slowly, without hesitation. "I will not marry you to save the Jedi."

Anakin's eyes become empty. "I see," he says, his voice dead. "In that case-"

"I will not marry you to save the Jedi," I repeat, interrupting his words. "I will marry you because you asked me to, and because…" A lump develops in my throat as I whisper. "… because despite everything you've done, I still love you."

Anakin's eyes warm, and he looks so human that it makes me hope that this will work. But I'm not done.

"In return, Anakin Skywalker, you're going to spare the Jedi because I asked you to," I finish. "And because it's what Obi-Wan wanted."

Everything falls silent again as Anakin stares down at me. I stare into his eyes, even as I pray to the Force with all of my might.




"Darth Maul," Anakin commands suddenly, silkily, "tell the army to stand down. Seems as though there was some misinformation regarding the Jedi's involvement with Supreme Chancellor Amidala."

My knees weaken as relief sweeps through me. Steeling myself and taking a deep breath, I reach out to him. Quicker than the eye can see, he's in front of me, grabbing my hands. I look into his face and tell him, with every fiber of my being. "Thank you, Anakin."

He stares down at me and then nods.

This wasn't an epic confrontation. There weren't blaster bolts, or lightsabers, but I know that in this moment, something greater happened; Anakin conquered himself. I'll never know what he had to do in his mind, to allow the Jedi, his enemies, to go free. It'll perhaps never be known what he had to do to allow his plans to slip into naught just for me. Thanking him is the very least I can do.

Should it be enough? Will this concession on his part be enough to heal what's broken between us? I do not know. My emotions are haywire and I'm exhausted; I'm so, so exhausted. I want to rest.

Just when Anakin is about to pull me along behind him, a heaviness descends upon us. It's a strange sensation, but suddenly, I know that something has arrived. That's when it appears, the presence. It hovers before us, like a benevolent cloud.

Anakin stares at it with death in his eyes and before I can blink, I've been pushed behind him. I grab his robes as I lean around him to see what the hell is happening. The cloud lingers for a moment before slowly transforming into a very familiar form.

It's… it's… Obi-Wan.

"Obi-Wan," I breath in shock, eyes nearly bulging out of my head.

The apparition that is Obi-Wan winks at me before turning to Anakin. Obi-Wan's smile is so bright at Anakin that for a moment, I can't look at it. It's too blinding, too full of joy.

"Obi-Wan," Anakin whispers, stunned and more than a little awe. "How…?"

Obi-Wan smiles. "It is possible through the Force, Anakin."

His steps are slow as he walks, turning briefly to smile at the stunned Jedi before continuing to Anakin.

When Obi-Wan reaches Anakin, he merely stands there, looking at the younger man.

"Thank you, Anakin," Obi-Wan says sweetly, placing pale blue hands on Anakin's shoulders. "Thank you for what you've done here today. I know that it was not easy. Actually, it's the hardest thing you've ever done. But it was not in vain and it will not be forgotten."

Anakin's eyes narrow at Obi-Wan's words, so many emotions running across his face that I can't quite catch them all.

Obi-Wan laughs gently at Anakin's consternation. Anakin is not pleased. "You must be happy that your precious Order is safe," the young Sith says, in mild disgust.

"Yes, I am," Obi-Wan agrees. "But I'm also happy because I was right."

Anakin glares at him. "What exactly, were you right about, Obi-Wan?" he asks, anger beginning to creep into Anakin's voice.

It alarms me. The clone army is still present, and the Jedi are still standing guard in front of the Temple. This situation can easily escalate again. I really hope Obi-Wan doesn't provoke Anakin.

But I shouldn't have worried. This is Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan merely smiled, unintimidated. "I was right, when I said that if anyone can resist the Dark Side, it's you Anakin. Well done."

I turn my gaze to Anakin. His expression drops and for the first time, I see what Obi-Wan must have seen so many years ago. A vulnerable youngling longing for someone to love him, to understand him. For Obi-Wan's praise to affect him so deeply even in the moment … my heart bleeds for what could have been. How different would life have been for the both of them if they had actually had the chance to be in one another's lives?

Anakin swallows hugely, and the walls are back up as his face closes. He moves away from Obi-Wan's touch, hardly able to look at the spiritual presence in front of him.

"Your life debt is repaid," Anakin says harshly, though it lacks any sting. "That's all."

"Yes, I know," Obi-Wan responds softly. "Thank you all the same."

Anakin scowls at Obi-Wan, but the presence merely tilts his head in contentment. Obi-Wan turns and takes one final look at his Jedi family and smiles at them. Master Yoda and Master Jin nods at him. Obi-Wan gazes at them with understanding, and his eyes travel along the line of his Jedi family for a short while before finally turning to me.

I can only stare at him, tears of happiness flowing down my face. I'm so happy to see him, so very happy.

Obi-Wan walks to me, stopping when he is only a foot away. "Don't cry," he murmurs, face so full of compassion that I nearly break down. "Everything's going to be fine."

I nod, even as he lifts a finger to catch one of my tears. He smiles down at me, holding my gaze and I know he is telling me to take good care of Anakin, to take care of myself, to be happy.

Then, Obi-Wan is gone, fading back into the Force.

A stunned silence reigns for a moment, before Anakin pulls me to him, wrapping his arms tightly around me.

"Wife," he says in satisfaction. Ice and fire bloom in equal measure inside of me at the designation. Part of me is so happy, the other part is sad. Both feelings are so overwhelming that I force myself to concentrate on the staggering sense of relief at the resolution of these events. I got to see Obi-Wan and the Jedi are safe. They're safe. In the end, that's all that matters.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

I'm not sure what or who I'm thanking, only that I'm grateful.

I tremble slightly as Anakin touches my stomach, his large hand splaying over the surface. "Mine," he says possessively, his grip tightening. "Mine." I allow myself to go limp in Anakin's arms, too tired and exhausted in mind, body and spirit to fight with him. To my shame, I'm more charmed by him than I want to admit. Even now, his words thrill me. It only serves to make me disgusted with myself. Even after he choked me, even after he stole the galaxy from me, I am still enamored with him.

Master Yoda moves into my vision. With a grace belying his age and small stature, he bows to me. I nod, acknowledging the Jedi Masters' gratitude as I allow Anakin to hold me tight.

I'm not sure how we're going to move forward from here, but the biggest crisis has been averted; the Jedi have been saved. I don't know how Anakin and I will overcome this. I know that, in the grand scheme of things, little has been lost. No, I am no longer the leader of the galaxy and yes, Obi-Wan is gone. But the Jedi still remain, and no one's been killed. Besides usurping and choking me, Anakin hasn't done anything wrong. His only crimes… are against me.

So, I will deal. For now, I will be the sacrificial lamb. I will be the balm that allows others to move freely. I will be Anakin Skywalker's wife and I will be the mother of his children. I will believe the words of my best friend; I will believe Obi-Wan.

Everything will be alright.


The first year under the first Emperor of the Galactic Empire were shaky not only within the Galactic Senate, but in our household. It took a long time for me to look at Anakin the same way again, for me to love him the way I had before I was kidnapped. I spent many nights lying in bed with him, unwilling to be touched. He knew how I felt and surprisingly, didn't push me. I'm not sure how he knew, but he did, and he gave me my space. But that didn't stop him from being Anakin. He still looked at me with desire and a deep-rooted, burning possessiveness. I knew that no matter what, I would never escape Anakin Skywalker. At the beginning of our marriage, I wasn't sure how I felt about him anymore. I knew that I still loved him; the depth of my feelings for him wouldn't be erased so easily. However, I was unsure if I wanted to be with him, not that I had that choice.

Anakin did reunite with Shmi Skywalker. It was an emotional and heart wrenching reunion. Shmi cried so much that she lost strength and Anakin … he didn't know what to do. I learned from Obi-Wan how much Anakin loved his mother and it was evidenced by how hard he tried to please her. Seeing her, and being engulfed in her arms after so many years, elicited emotions that were foreign and uncomfortable to him. But Anakin endured it because he adored her. Every day it was easier for him to accept her mothering and it wasn't long before Anakin actively enjoyed the pampering. Now, Shmi resided in an apartment nearby. She refused to leave her son again and I didn't begrudge her presence. She made it a point to stay out of the conflict between Anakin and I, and instead chose to dote on the both of us while reveling in the knowledge that she would soon be a grandmother.

Dealing with my parents was much more difficult. What Anakin had done went against the basic tenets of our beliefs in democracy and personal choice. When my parents came to Coruscant with Shmi Skywalker, I had one of the hardest conversations with them that I'd ever had in my life. I had no choice but tell them about Anakin, who he was and how I contributed to the situation… and that I was to be the Empress of the Galactic Republic. My parents left 500 Republica that day with worn, heartbroken faces. It was the first time in their lives that I had disappointed them and to do so in such a severe way was more than they could stand. That night, I laid in bed and sobbed into my pillow. Even my Karmacide activities had never elicited such a reaction from my parents and the fact that I hurt them so deeply broke my heart. I was barely cognizant of Anakin looking at me in concern and barely concealed fury.

When I woke the next day, Anakin was gone. I learned later that Anakin went to Naboo. During that time, I couldn't contact either him or my parents and when he got back, he refused to tell me what happened. When I called my parents, they too refused to give me details, but their expressions were gentler and more tolerant than when they left Coruscant. It took several months for my mother to come around and even longer for my father to be able to look me in the face, but in the end, their love for me was greater than their distaste for Anakin.

Then, Luke and Leia were born. It was an incredibly difficult pregnancy. I'm not sure if it was because of stress, or because my body was weak throughout the pregnancy. All I know is that, if not for the presence of the Jedi healers, I might have died. It moved me, that Anakin did not hesitate to show the Jedi gratitude for saving my life, evening deigning to bow humbly to Master Yoda. It wasn't the first time I had to harden my heart against forgiving him. During the length of my pregnancy, Anakin worked hard to regain my love and trust. He steadily wore me down, but I didn't want to forgive him, mostly because I didn't want to be hurt again. But doing things like that, expressing thanks to people that he despised on my account… it made it so hard to be angry with him.

Holding my children for the first time brought light into my soul. I knew that I would love them, but in my heart a seed of doubt had been planted. Their father was a Sith, would that affect them somehow…? But as I held their small forms and looked upon their pink, slumbering faces, I knew that my fears were for naught. They were pure and perfect, and I was filled with so much joy, that all I could do was weep. Then, Anakin entered. The look on his face, when he beheld his children, threatened to make me fall in love with him again. My heart stuttered at the magnificent look of awe and gratitude on his handsome face. He looked so human in that moment, so happy, that the frosty anger that had taken root in my heart softened and my heart begin to beat for him again. But then, I remembered the pain and panic I felt as he choked me, and I firmly put the feelings of warmth aside. I couldn't trust the changes in his behavior. Anakin had proven that he couldn't be trusted.

Then, one day a few months later, something broke. I walked into the living room to find him gently holding Leia. Luke was asleep in his crib, but Leia had woken up abruptly and angrily. Anakin was cooing softly to her, a long finger gently touching her cheek. The scene was so heart-warming and special that tears ran down my face. Suddenly, the anger that festered within me for nearly a year, melted away. In that moment, I released my rage. While Darth Vader was still alive and well and took every available moment to assert his dominance over both the galaxy and the Jedi, Anakin Skywalker was a doting husband and an incredibly loving father. I didn't want to be angry with him anymore. I didn't want to withhold my heart from him anymore.

I just didn't want to hurt anymore.

Crossing the room, I sat down next to him. He gently held Leia into the crook of his arm. Anakin looked at me in confusion for a moment and then stiffened in surprise when I wrapped my arms around him. I know it was shocking; I had avoided his touch for the duration of the pregnancy and after.

"I don't want to be angry with you anymore," I said quietly. "You're my husband and I love you. I want to trust you. But, please… don't hurt me anymore."

My voice was muffled against his hard, broad chest and his shirt had become wet as tears pour from my eyes. I just wanted to love him, to be able to trust him: I wanted to be happy. But I was scared. What if he betrayed me again? I don't know what I'd do if he betrayed me again.

He sat Leia down and then wrapped me in his arms. "Padmé," he said gently, "I know I've said it before and broke it. But may the Force strip me of my powers if I lie to you again." He gently tilted my head and looked into my eyes. "Padmé, I will never hurt or betray you again. I… I… I love you," the last words were said quietly and fervently.

I froze.

He… loved me?

He loved me?

In all the time that we had been together, he had never said those words, ever. It was understood that he cared about me, that he considered me his. But love? He loved me?

I broke.

My body shook as I burst into tears. I wrapped my arms around him and squeezed, wanting nothing more than to be part of him. If only I could stay like this forever, if only I could be with him for all time. Because he loves me. I'm not just possession to him, I'm not simply the mother of his children; he loves me. Anakin holds me close as I cry. Afterward, the love we made was the sweetest it had ever been. While I loved the rough sex that we had, I'd never before been treated like his treasure, like his love and I loved every second of the care that he put into pleasing me. In that moment, I felt that I could live with Darth Vader and his vain manipulations of the Senate. I could even deal with our very famous wars during Senate meetings as we often sat on the opposite side of certain issues. I could even deal with constantly pulling him away from attacking the Jedi, if not physically, then financially and in the area of recruitment.

I could handle it all as long as Anakin Skywalker loved me. And as I laid beside him that day, sweaty and happy, I didn't just think it, I believed it: Everything would be okay.

Now, I turn to look around the room. Luke and Leia happily play with their toys in the corner. They are three now and aren't any less of a handful now than they were when they were born. Luke is dressed in a yellow outfit while Leia is dressed in a red one. I shake my head when Luke holds out a tiny fist, making a toy too far away from him shake and then slowly float into his chubby hands. I can't help but smile. Only in this family would it be common to see a toddler using the Force. Actually, what's more amazing is that they're playing without fighting one another. They're usually using the Force in the fiercest tug-of-war battle ever seen in this part of the Galaxy.

Caelum and Pruré toddle in their sectioned off area with determination. I bite back a smile at the way Caelum glares at anything that moves, and, in direct contrast to her twin brother, the way Pruré smiles with eyes full of light.

Maul, who has become a part of our family, sits silently in the corner, eyes never straying from the children. And Obi-Wan … I can feel his presence here. It's so strong. He sits near Maul, I think, near the children. I swear that Luke and Leia can see him because they laugh suddenly and point to the empty space near Maul. It's strange, knowing I'm the only one who can't see him, that the time I saw him in front of the Jedi Temple was a one-time gift from the Force, but I'm content. Simply knowing that he's here is more than enough.

As I look around, I'm so happy that it feels as though I'm going to burst: This is my family.

This is my family.

My eyes linger on them for a moment longer before I walk to the window where my husband is standing. He is meditating, now able to do it expertly in the chaos of our home. I wonder when he will realize that he unconsciously turns toward the Jedi Temple, the Mecca of the Force, every time he meditates. He probably already does, but refuses to admit that it's because the Force is strong at the Jedi Temple. He probably insists that it's because it's the best view despite the presence of the Temple.

I chortle as, without opening his eyes, his eyebrow rises, no doubt gleaming my thoughts even while deep within his meditative state.

I look out at the Jedi Temple, tall and bustling with activity, even as I relish being in Anakin's presence. He smiles faintly as he picks up my joy at simply being near him. It pleases him, this sentiment. It was hard-earned by him and he deserves his satisfaction.

It's hard to believe that after all that we've been through, we've made it here. Who would have thought that when I grudgingly allowed him to share the terrace with me, that day at the opera so many years ago, that I had met my future husband? Who knew when I was glaring at him and cursing him in my mind, that I would fall so deeply in love with him? Who knew that we would be a family?

I certainly couldn't have known. I couldn't have known that we were going to overcome all of our obstacles, that our love was strong enough to prevent genocide, to reshape the Galaxy, to produce life.

And I'm glad. I'm so glad. It was all worth it.

It was worth it.

Moving closer to my husband, I close my eyes.

And I smile.

End of The Sith & the Senator

Honestly, I can't believe that this is finished. I've spent years writing it and now, I just feel so strange. It's weird to think that I won't be worrying about this story anymore. I truly hoped that you all enjoyed this fic. It was a challenge to write, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed and grew from. Thank you to everyone who started with me, came in the middle, or in the end; your support means so much. A special thanks to my Patrons! It was surreal to know that people liked this fic enough to support, it blew my mind and I am crazy happy for every one of you. As far as the Sith and Senator goes, I really wanted this fic to hit the number one spot in reviews, it was my goal from the very beginning. But I've grown a lot as an author and it's enough to know that this story means so much to so many people. So, review if you'd like, just to make my day. If not, then that's cool too.

This will be my final Star Wars story. I am writing a Hermione-centric Harry Potter fic as well as a Pokemon fic, so if anyone is interested in it, please check it out. Other than that, it's done, guys! Thanks a million for making this story so popular! I sincerely hope that this story will continue to delight in the years to come.

WrittinInStone (Petra Leigh)