Note from the Author

Yet another great chapter from DawnsJediWind! The excitement is just starting! This one I did very little on, and I know it's a little short. I think her inspiration died. But my inspiration died too, so I didn't add anything more. Enjoy!


Chapter Nineteen

"Do we have to go?" whined Anakin, adjusting his utility belt while Padmé arranged his cloak over his broad shoulders.

Since returning to Coruscant five days before, they had quickly fallen into the pattern of married life. Anakin, being the morning person that he was, woke up first, prepared breakfast, then woke Padmé if she was not already up. They would eat together, focusing on topics that were not work-related, then each would go to their daily activities: Padmé to the Senate and Anakin to the Jedi Temple or Obi-Wan's pad. Anakin found that he liked married life. He especially liked the fact that after a long, hard day of attending never-ending Council meetings or going over reports constantly flooding in from the front lines, it was nice to come home to a warm dinner and even warmer company. It was just the two of them now, excluding Artoo, Threepio and the dogs, and Anakin enjoyed the quiet, laid-back atmosphere of married life, so long as life-changing choices didn't have to be made in those moments.

"Yes," Padmé said patiently, brushing his tunic flat. "Besides, you might find you like the opera."

"I doubt it," grumbled Anakin, remembering several times dragged off by his Padawan whenever the urge for something more interesting than smashball hit her. Ahsoka was on Shili now, having been unable to make for their wedding, though Padmé had insisted on inviting her. Anakin suddenly realized he hadn't thought of his Padawan in a long time, at least not since the sudden mention of her on Mandalore. He briefly wondered how she was doing, what with her new status as Missus Lux Bonteri. Note to self, he thought, call her tomorrow between meetings.

"Anakin?" Padmé's voice pulled Anakin out of his thoughts.

He blinked and looked down at her. "Sorry, I was just thinking."

"Yes, I know." Padmé brushed away some hair from Anakin's cloak, since the dogs liked to sleep on it. "You've been doing that a lot lately."

"I know. I'm sorry," Anakin apologized with a sheepish grin and a twinkle of his eyes. Before all of this, before Padmé, thinking was barely in his capacity. I guess things change when you promise your life to someone else. Dang it.

Padmé smiled fondly up at Anakin. "Come on, it's time we were off."

"Fine," Anakin agreed reluctantly, and sighed. This was going to be one awfully long evening.

"It's only for a few hours, darling." Padmé shrugged into her long cloak that perfectly matched her red evening gown. "It'll be over before you know it."

"Doubt it."

"Fine, I give you full permission to fall asleep."

Anakin grinned. "I love you."

Padmé smiled. "I know. Now, let's go, we're already late."

How in the hell am I supposed to understand this? Anakin shifted in his seat for the ninth time in the past two minutes, and tried to look fascinated in whatever strange story was playing out on stage. It was the famous Coruscanti Space Opera, which was just one step closer to a Soap Opera, Anakin had just recently found out, and it was in a language Anakin had never heard of before in his life. The small screens behind the seats in front of them translated the lines for those not fluent in – uh, whatever the language was – but it still didn't make sense.

Probably just the usual scandalous love affair where the lovers die in the end, sighed Anakin. I suppose it's not worth reading the translations anyway. He leaned further back in his seat. The music was nice, despite the high-pitched voices, and the atmosphere was warm and cozy, and dark. Anakin closed his eyes. Padmé had granted him permission to sleep, so he must not let it go to waste. He reached into the Force, intending to calm his mind with a little mediation before falling into deepest slumber. As he did so, he brushed against Padmé's conscious, and was pleased to feel how relaxed and at ease she seemed. He was glad that she had taken his advice, and had drunk one more glass of wine before coming here. They had attended dinner with Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, a very dull affair where the three Senators had talked politics and Anakin tried desperately to stay awake even then. Bail had only just returned to Coruscant from Alderaan.

Anakin was almost to the point of slipping over the edge when suddenly he felt a pang of nausea shoot through Padmé. He heard her gasp, and his eyes snapped open. He bolted upright in his seat, and grabbed her hand as Padmé paled and clutched her stomach.

"Padmé, what is it?" Anakin asked in a harsh, worried whisper.

Padmé didn't answer, but rubbed her stomach to soothe it, then shook her head. The nausea was gone in a minute, and she felt normal again. Anakin relaxed his grip on her hand, the Space Opera forgotten, replaced by a strengthening concern for his wife above all else. Several minutes later, Padmé was again assailed by nausea and pain, this time on a crippling level.

"Anakin, g-get me out of here," Padmé gasped.

Anakin stood and helped her to her feet, ushering her quickly out, concern clawing at him. Padmé had been fine all day; he was certain she wouldn't have insisted on attending the opera if she hadn't been well beforehand. She was a normally healthy person, not given to strange bouts of illness, and she had been fine at dinner and when the opera had started.

As soon as they made it to the empty hallway outside the theater, Padmé sat down on a nearby bench to rest, Anakin close beside her. He noticed she was unusually pale and worn-looking, and that she had broken out in a cold sweat, the hair around her face laying damp on her forehead.

"What's wrong?" Anakin asked, peering at her closely and brushing the damp hair away from her face.

"I-I'm not sure." Padmé's voice was barely above a whisper. She looked at Anakin and there was fear in her eyes. "I feel strange, Anakin. E-everything is foggy. I can't focus on anything." She touched her head, as if doing so would steady herself.

Anakin put a hand to her forehead. "You're burning up. I'm taking you to the medical ward at the Temple. I don't like the look of this."

Padmé stood, then stumbled back to the bench, a hand to her head. "E-everything is so hazy—I'm so cold."

Anakin frowned, and quickly gathering her up in his arms, striding off quickly in the direction of the speeder deck. As soon as he had reached it, he put Padmé carefully in the passenger's seat, and pulled out his comlink, connecting to Obi-Wan's signal as he swung himself down into the driver's seat and ignited the thrusters.

"Obi-Wan! Obi-Wan, do you copy?!"

Anakin let out a relieved breath when he heard his master's voice on the other end. "Anakin, I'm here. What is it?"

"Master, something is wrong with Padmé." Anakin juggled his comlink as he steered the speeder through the throngs of parked vehicles and out of the garage. "She's suddenly sick, I can't explain it."

Obi-Wan didn't waste any time. "Bring her to Temple medical ward. That way, I'll be with you when you do something crazy and maybe I'll stop you before that happens. We don't want Padmé dragged through the tabloids because her husband is cracked in the head."

"Yeah right, Obi-Wan. Have I ever been known to do something crazy?" Anakin didn't want for a reply. He quickly severed the connection and swerved recklessly through traffic in the direction of the Jedi Temple. He wove in and out of speeders, almost colliding with them on several occasions, but somehow diving out of the way just in time. His connection with the Force kept him several seconds ahead of his human body.

"Anakin." Padmé's eyes closed tightly and she clutched her stomach after her young husband made a particularly sharp turn. "I think I'm going to be sick."

"Hold on." Anakin's foot never left the accelerator. "We'll be there in just a moment — no!" He yelled when Padmé doubled over and retched all over the dashboard. No! Anakin's face was frozen in horror, not at the sight of Padmé puking — he could handle that — but by the fact that she had puked all over his nice, new, clean speeder!

Padmé sat up, some color coming back to her cheeks, and sighed as Anakin sped into a parking space before the Jedi Temple. He jumped out, just as Obi-Wan appeared with two of the Temple healers and a levitated cot between them.

"How is she?" Obi-Wan asked as Anakin carried Padmé to the cot and gently laid her on it.

"Well, she threw up all over my speeder," Anakin answered with a grim look on his face, crossing his arms as he and Obi-Wan followed the healers towards the medical ward.

"Force, no!" gasped Obi-Wan in mock horror. Anakin gave him a murderous look which Obi-Wan returned with amusement.

In the medical ward, the healers transferred Padmé to a soft bed where they could tend to her properly. Anakin and Obi-Wan stood to the side, watching with concern as the head of the ward took a blood sample and tested it. Another gave Padmé a shot of something to kill the pain and nausea, and to help her relax. She slowly slipped into an induced sleep as the head of the ward returned from the testing lab.

"Poison," he said, putting up his charts where the two Jedi could see them. "She's been poisoned."

"What?" asked Anakin, more surprised than he thought possible. "How?"

"It's a lethal toxin not found in the Republic," the healer informed them. "If you hadn't come as quickly as you did, Master Skywalker, her body would have been overrun by this toxin and… she would have died."

Obi-Wan frowned, stroking his beard thoughtfully. "Why would someone poison her?"

The healer shrugged. "It's a very uncommon, very expensive toxin. Only someone like a Senator or Army Commander would have been able to afford it."

"I don't like the sound of this." Obi-Wan's frown deepened.

"No, neither do I…" Anakin paused, then suddenly his eyes flickered to the nearby window as a sudden threat screamed it's presence in his mind. "Duck!"

Everyone looked at him like he had gone mad, then suddenly a blaster shot shattered the window, and everyone dove for protection as several more shots were fired. Anakin ignited his lightsaber, deflecting the last of the shots from reaching Padmé. Realizing that he was caught, the assassin quickly fled, but not before Obi-Wan, who was the most sane of them all, had sent an activated homing beacon through the shattered window. It would follow the assassin wherever he went. Anakin, however, wasn't sane, nor practical, when things he liked were attacked. He made to dive through the window after the assassin, but Obi-Wan held him back.

"No, I have a homing beacon on him. We'll find him. Use your senses, Anakin. Don't let this get the better of you."

"He tried to kill Padmé, Master!"

"I understand. It isn't the first time. Let's use our senses this time."

Anakin took a deep breath. "No diving through windows."

"No diving through windows," grinned Obi-Wan, then quickly turned to leave the room. Anakin checked Padmé one last time, kissing her cheek as he did so, then followed his Master out of the room, leaping into a run as soon as he was clear.