Disclaimer: It all belongs to George; it's his sandbox, I'm simply playing in it. I take no credit for the parts of this story that are taken directly from Episode 3, and I make no money off of this.
Timeframe: Post AotC, Pre RotS - Padmé isn't pregnant - yet.
Genre: Uh...? Angst?
Summary: Anakin and Obi-Wan are sharing the same dream. What happens when they finally find out they're both dreaming the same thing - and Anakin's greatest secret, his marriage to Padmé, is revealed?
Notes: Plot Bunny adopted from shanobi at the force boards from the plot bunny thread. Thank you for letting me adopt this!
Things aren't always what they seem.
When you dream, things have a way of becoming convoluted, masked in shadow and yet revealed with such clarity you no longer know if you're dreaming. Dreams have the power to twist, to unravel and to unwind things as they are, and should become.
Dreams have a way of showing you two paths to follow. The only question is; if you knew in advance, if you knew your dream was one of prophecy, would you have still made the same choices and damned us all?
Blood. Smoke. Fire. They burned in his nostrils, the scents of death and destruction, bodies littering the area in front of him. His hands, covered in the blood of the innocent.
These weren't his hands. Relief flooded him until he looked up, and into the eyes of the owner of those hands. His heart squeezed painfully in his chest, a sense of overwhelming betrayal, of disillusion swept through him. Blue eyes, now orange with corruption and hatred stared back at him from a face that was an impenetrable mask; a mask whose features were all too familiar. Those hands belonged to his friend; his brother.
Those hands that had slaughtered younglings without remorse belonged to Anakin Skywalker.
Obi-Wan woke with a start, barely managing to keep from screaming his denial of the vivid scene as the reality of the present slowly soaked back into his conscious brain. The barely audible sound of the engines in hyperspace could be heard between his heaving gasps for air. The drab gray of his quarters aboard the spaceship that was taking him and Anakin back to Coruscant was more reassuring than any other vista could have been. He'd been dreaming those same disturbing dreams, night after night, stealing his sleep like a thief steals jewels. Without thought, without remorse.
Almost as if the dreams were trying to tell him something.
Anakin Skywalker was his friend; there was no way, no circumstance, in which Anakin would ever consider harming the younglings in the temple. Was there?
He shook the thought away. Anakin deserved the benefit of the doubt. He'd been loyal, self-sacrificing and hard working since before his knighthood. He'd only become more so since the council had knighted him. Whatever the dreams were, he still couldn't shake the feeling of foreboding.
Yet, even as he tried to make sense of them, they seemed to slip away. The breathing exercises helped. There is no emotion, there is peace. The words echoed in his head as he breathed, but sounded hollow this time, even to himself.
He had the sense that they were trying to tell him something, something important, but after those first few, frantic moments when he woke, the sights, sounds and images of the dream slipped away, leaving little more than a feeling of unease in their place.
A sense that had been happening for weeks.
Obi-Wan threw the covers back, knowing he would sleep no more this night, and settled himself into a meditation position on the floor. If he couldn't sleep, he'd simply have to find rest in another form.
Blood. Smoke. Fire. They burned in his nostrils, the scents of death and destruction, bodies littering the area in front of him. His hands, covered in the blood of the innocent.
These weren't his hands. Relief flooded him until he looked up, and into the eyes of the owner of those hands. His heart squeezed painfully in his chest, a sense of overwhelming betrayal, of disillusion swept through him. Blue eyes, now orange with corruption and hatred stared back at him from panes of shattered glass. His face was an impenetrable mask, his lips set in a grim, firm line as if he didn't dare let himself feel the wrongness of what he was doing; or no longer cared.
These were his hands. Hands that had slaughtered the younglings without remorse or second thought. These hands were his; Anakin Skywalker's.
Anakin hit the ground with a bump as his thrashing propelled him out of bed, the impact stealing the breath from his lungs and silencing the scream of protest that would have erupted past his lips. He lay on the floor, on his back, staring at the ceiling, the vivid images of the dream slow to fade as they were every night, but fading none the less.
He felt moisture on his face and reached up to wipe it away, closing his eyes in shame. He didn't deserve to cry for what he'd seen in his vision. He, Anakin Skywalker, the oh-so-powerful "Chosen One" had slaughtered those younglings, the Jedi in the temple, as if they were simply a nuisances.
The thought echoed in his mind.
He slammed his hand down beside him even as the details of the dream began to fade further away, taking with it the scene of carnage he didn't ever remember committing. I haven't done that, I will not do that. I can't! There is nothing, nothing that could drive me to do that; I'm better than that!
He swallowed against the lump in his throat, Padmé's image coming to mind, soothing and disturbing all at the same time. A feeling of unease accompanied it, even as he pictured her smile, and let it sooth him as nothing else could.
He refused to dwell on the dream, but he didn't move from his position on the deck of the ship for a long, long time.
Their return to Coruscant several days later was strained. Anakin felt himself being watched and he didn't dare try to slip away to see his wife. He managed to send her a message to say he would see her when he could, but for the moment, he was unable to slip away unnoticed from the temple. She sent a message back to him saying little more than that she understood and would be waiting to see him.
And that she loved him.
Those three little words did much to keep his sanity in the next few days as the dreams began to worsen. It seemed being back on Coruscant only lent them credibility and Anakin woke more than once in a cold sweat and had to rush to the nearest window to ensure that the city was still as he knew it. That the temple wasn't burning and the meditations were still continuing. He also roamed the hallways on night, peeking in on the younglings barracks, to ensure they were still sound asleep and unharmed.
For the images of blood on his hands, of the wholesale slaughter of the younglings and the various Masters assigned to the temple haunted his steps. He avoided Obi-Wan, unable to look his former Master in the eye, let alone converse with him in any form of coherent manner. During the daylight hours, Anakin was just barely capable of maintaining his focus. He spoke only when spoken to and spent long hours in the training salles working himself into exhaustion.
But it didn't work, for he was haunted nightly by the disturbing, almost prophetic, dreams. Almost as if the Force were trying to warn him away from a path he didn't dare follow...
The voice echoed in his mind, far away, disturbingly familiar and yet entirely alien. The words weren't directed at him, but he watched as if on a cloud above the scene, seeing it all and yet not seeing it at all. A shrouded figure sat in a high backed chair, cloaked in more than shadow and darkness. Power emanated from the figure even as it spoke the words.
A voice he would have recognized anywhere answered.
Anakin? He focused on the second figure in the tableau before him, lightsabers, one red and one blue, glowing brightly, crossed just above the hafts. A figure knelt before him. Darkness enclosed the room, creeping in and up around Anakin's feet, as if symbolic of the darkness that was starting to take root; or already had. Darkness that seemed to be as insidious as it was obvious; lethally so.
No. Anakin. Don't do it. Don't listen to him; it's not the Jedi way! He tried to speak, tried to council his friend against the voice that was beckoning him down a path that was full of corruption, lies and darkness. Down a path from which there was seldom any return and release only in Death.
That same voice snapped the order, and light flared, flicking and dying as the lightsabers crossed and straightened, and the darkness enveloped Anakin's figure.
"Anakin, no!" The cry was choked off as Obi-Wan's eyes snapped open, his breathing heavy. His dream had seemed so real. He focused on calming his racing heart beat; of making sense as to why Anakin would follow such a contrary order to all of his early teachings.
He tried to deny the disturbing images of the dream.
The cloying, clinging darkness. The way it seemed to slink across the floor with a mind of its own. Stepping from shadow to shadow, sneaking up on Anakin's form and then pouncing as that shadow voice ordered compliance.
His heart pounded painfully in his chest, having an easier time of remembering each successive dream more than the last. Something told him this one was crucial to whatever the Force was trying to tell him. Anakin's future, perhaps the future of the very galaxy depended on it.
Obi-Wan took a deep breath to calm his racing heart and slowly let the images sink back into memory. He used a technique to remember them this time, to be able to call forth the memories so that the importance of it wouldn't be lost. He was determined that if the Force was trying to tell him how to save Anakin from himself, he would do everything in his power to do so.
The voice echoed in his mind, far away, disturbingly familiar and yet entirely alien. The words were directed at him from a shrouded figure sat in a high backed chair, cloaked in more than shadow and darkness. Power emanated from the figure even as it spoke the words.
Lightsabers, one red and one blue, glowed brightly in his hands, crossed just above the hafts. A figure knelt before him; a figure he'd have remembered anywhere. Count Dooku. He focused on the almost panic stricken features of the man who knelt before him; a man who had fueled his desire to become a better Jedi; to become unbeatable in lightsaber combat.
The man who had taken his hand.
But to kill him in cold blood? To kill him like an animal led to slaughter? It was wrong; it wasn't the Jedi way. Dooku, no mater how despicable, should stand trial for his crimes. But then the voice spoke again; a voice he'd have recognized in any other dream but this one..
That same voice snapped the order and his hands seemed to move of their own accord, snapping first forward and then out, taking Dooku's head with it.
Anakin woke with a jerk, a sick sensation in the pit of his stomach an indication and a hallmark of the dreams that had become so common. Sick with the images of carnage. Carnage that was all of his own making.
I wouldn't do that. The thought was fierce, in complete denial of what he'd just seen. He pushed himself into a sitting position, exhaustion pressing down on his shoulders like an endless weight. Just once, he found himself thinking. I'd like to dream something happy about Padmé and not about how many people I've killed, or will kill.
The thought was disturbing even as the image of his wife soothed his frustration and shame. For a part of him had enjoyed taking matters into his own hands; for punishing Dooku for the slights against him. For being able to avenge his previous disgraceful loss at Dooku's hands.
He closed his eyes and brought Padmé's image to mind, wishing he could be in her arms and not daring to go to her. Not yet. Once their debriefings were finished and he no longer felt like he was being watched, he'd sneak away to see her.
It had been far, far too long.
The doors to the turbo lift opened with barely a whisper to the balcony facing the Senatorial building - and consequently Padmé's residence. His gaze sought it out, unable to keep himself from looking in its direction, the sick feeling returning as the image of her terrified gaze continued to haunt him. He stepped towards the railing and paused, sensing he wasn't alone, and tore his gaze away to look the length of the terrace.
A familiar figure stood at one end of the balcony, leaning on the railing, staring out across the human sea of artificial buildings and life. Staring at the same place, the same person, Anakin had been.
Obi-Wan didn't move from his position, but Anakin felt Ob-Wan's gaze touch him for just a moment. "Anakin."
"Seems obvious, doesn't it?"
Anakin shrugged. "Jedi keep odd hours; for all I know you pulled the graveyard shift."
"If it was only that." Obi-Wan turned from his view to look at his young friend. "What brings you out here at this hour?"
Anakin stepped to the railing a ways down the balcony and leaned on it, his gaze going back towards the senatorial apartments. "I couldn't sleep either."
Obi-Wan was silent for a moment, then; "Dreams again?"
Anakin nodded, his gaze fixed on the apartment in the distance, not caring that Obi-Wan would be able to follow his gaze. The apartments also housed other senatorial delegates from various worlds as well as Palpatine's abode. "Disturbing dreams."
"Like the dreams about your mother?"
He nodded again. "Similar." Anakin glanced at his former Master. "Is that what's keeping you up, Obi-Wan? Dreams?"
Obi-Wan's return smile was faint. "Dreams."
"A wise man once told me that dreams pass in time."
Obi-Wan quirked an eyebrow at his young friend. "That wise man never dreamed things like this before."
Obi-Wan turned his gaze back across the vista of towering skyscrapers. "Disturbing, mostly."
"They'd have to be if you can't sleep." Anakin shifted his shoulders, trying to ease the tension, unable to shake the haunting image of Padmé staring at him in horror. "Anything I can help with?"
"Perhaps." Obi-Wan seemed to debate saying more for a moment before speaking again, his words deliberately slow. "Can ask you a question, Anakin?"
"Go ahead." Anything to keep him mind off his own disturbing dreams.
Obi-Wan watched the younger man out of the corner of his eye, keeping his tone mild. "How long have you been married to Padmé?"
Anakin's whole body jerked, as if he'd been struck physically, completely unprepared for the seriousness of the casually phrased question. His defenses rose immediately and he let out a breath, managing a weak chuckle. "You have an active imagination, Obi-Wan."
"Do I?" Obi-Wan turned to face his friend. "I'm willing to wager what brought you out here tonight was a nightmare of your own; one that centers on Padmé."
Anakin was unable to keep a flash of guilt from running through his system; unable to keep it from his gaze or expression. In that moment he knew Obi-Wan wasn't speculating. Somehow, someway, they'd been found out. He turned his gaze away from Obi-Wan, unwilling to see the disappointment he knew he'd find as he asked a question of his own. "How long have you known?"
"Not long. You have been most skillful with your deception. Frankly I'm amazed you've been able to keep it a secret."
Anakin managed a faint smile. "We've tried. What tipped you off, Master?"
"Dreams." Anakin finally turned to face Obi-Wan, still leaning against the railing. "They must have been some dreams."
Obi-Wan was still standing a few feet away, his arms crossed comfortably over his chest. "Strange dreams, actually. I've seen you together several times; your actions betrayed you far more than your words."
Obi-Wan arched his eyebrows at Anakin. "Padmé waiting for you in the shadows of a pillar by the Senate hall and you rushing to meet her? Watching her brush her hair on the balcony of her Senatorial apartment? Come now Anakin, I may not be married, but I'd have to be blind to miss the signals."
Anakin's mouth went dry as he recognized bits and pieces of the dreams he'd been having the few months. Some had felt so real he'd been able to smell her fragrance, the oils used in her hair. Others had been like the dreams they were. Wisps of memory, cloying and clinging, more a sensation than an image. But they'd all seemed real; alive. "Those things have never happened."
"Not yet." Obi-Wan was watching him carefully. "But you know exactly what I'm talking about, don't you?"
Anakin nodded, not trusting his voice.
Obi-Wan's arms dropped to his side. "I've had one more dream about you and Padmé. But I think you know it already."
Anakin felt his throat burning with shame. "Smoke and fire."
Obi-Wan's eyes were sad. "You hurt her, Anakin."
"I know!" The words were torn from his lips, a cry of pure despair. "I can't hurt her, I'd never hurt her; I love her!"
"Love is forbidden."
"Are you threatening to expose us? Is that how you'll turn her against me?" Anakin spat the accusation, not understanding how or why or where it came from.
"I seem to recall saying you do that without my help." Obi-Wan kept his tone mild, non-confrontational. "And no. I'm not threatening to expose you, I am simply stating the facts. You knew love was forbidden when you took your vows as a Jedi. You've simply chosen to ignore them."
"You can't understand, Obi-Wan." Anakin turned away, looking back across the towers, the weight of his dreams settling about him like a heavy cloak. One that was threatening to drag him down. "You'll never understand. Padmé is my life; without her I am nothing."
"Surely you don't believe that. You're Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One."
"I am Anakin Skywalker, the slave boy from Tatooine who couldn't save his own mother and found solace in the arms of the only woman who'd ever shown him kindness. I am Anakin Skywalker, the Jedi Padawan who broke his vows to the order before he made them, knowingly choosing a life of secrecy. I am Anakin Skywalker; a man who cannot find the solace and comfort he needs to succeed in the Force, but only in the arms of his forbidden love." Anakin laughed once, harshly, as he turned to face his old Master. "Chosen One? For what, Obi-Wan? A life of darkness? A Jedi chosen for slaughter and carnage? If my dreams are true, I will break my Jedi vows this night and live life a simple man with my wife. I would rather be a common man without the Jedi, than the Jedi who brings about the downfall of the Order."
Obi-Wan's gaze was serious. "It would seem, Anakin, that we've been sharing the same dreams."
"Then you know it's true." Anakin looked away, unable to meet that steady, even gaze. "Some day soon I will march through these halls and they will be coated in blood."
"A little premature, aren't you?"
Anakin's gaze snapped back to his mentor's. "Pardon?"
"A little deaf too. Anakin, none of this has happened yet. Don't you see, we're aware of it now; something can be done to change that future."
Anakin shifted, beginning to pace, his bare feet silent on the patio flooring. "How can we be certain that what we change won't lead to the future that we're trying to avoid?" He shook his head, reaching up to run one hand through his hair. "No, we can't be certain what we do won't bring about the very things we've been dreaming of."
"And doing nothing will set your mind at ease? I can't keep your secret, Anakin."
"You're going to tell the council?"
"You haven't left me much choice."
"You can't!" Anakin rounded on him. "You don't understand, they'll forbid me to see her. I can't make that promise, Obi-Wan. If I'm forced to choose between the order and Padmé, I'll choose her. She's my life, my reason for fighting, for wanting to come home in one piece. She's the strength in my arm, the warmth in my blood, the very passion in my soul. Without her I am nothing. Nothing!"
"Even if it means you'll eventually turn against her?"
"I can't!" Anakin spun away, pacing one more, his motions agitated. "I can't believe I would do that, there's nothing - nothing! - that could possibly happen that would drive me to hurt her. I love her!"
"Never." Anakin shook his head so confidently Obi-Wan had no reason to doubt him.
"She looked pregnant."
Anakin stumbled, reaching out to catch himself on the railing as he missed his step. "She what?"
"Don't tell me you were so consumed by her image you failed to notice that she's with child in the dreams."
Anakin's mouth went dry. "I didn't... I couldn't... are you sure?"
Anakin clutched the railing for support as he thought about the implications. If Padmé was indeed pregnant, if she truly was carrying his child in the dreams... could something happen he hadn't yet seen? Something so pivotal that caused him to turn against everything he'd come to believe? He didn't know what that could be, but something told him he wasn't far off. He just didn't know what that could be. And icy fear clutched his stomach, slithering and stretching its tendrils into his heart as the vivid image of his mother as he'd found her in the Tusken Raider's tent flashed through his mind. Would Padmé die? Was that it? Padmé would die, or he'd seen that she'd die? Life without Padmé wouldn't be worth living.
Anakin lifted his head. "Padmé isn't carrying my child."
Anakin conceded the fact with a brief jerk of his head.
"The future is always in motion, Anakin, the only things we can be certain of are the things that currently are."
Anakin pulled himself completely upright. "You're right. I'm a Jedi and I've broken the code. Knowingly, willingly, and I don't regret it. Those are the only facts we know for sure."
Obi-Wan smiled faintly. "I wish you'd shown such convictions in the rest of your training. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by your marriage; I've known your feelings for the Senator for a long time."
"You thought them infatuation."
"And I was wrong." Obi-Wan held up his hand as Anakin managed to find a grin. "I will not repeat myself. I'm sorry I failed in your training, Anakin."
"You didn't fail, Master. I did. I failed to learn the teachings correctly and used my own interpretations. I failed to stop myself from feeling more for Padmé; I didn't want to. The failure is mine, but the gains for such a failure have been immeasurable."
Anakin leaned against the railing, crossing his feet at the ankles and staring at his toes. "Hope, Obi-Wan. Because of Padmé I believe we will eventually win this war. Not because of what you or I or the clones do on the front lines. Not because of what she does in the senate, but because in a galaxy where something as pure, something as untainted as the love I have for her exists, war cannot last forever."
"You make a good argument, Anakin."
"In the dream-"
Anakin's fingers flexed on the rail behind him, the right digging into the metal and leaving finger imprints.
"-you hurt her. I can only speculate how long it will be until the events we've both seen will occur, or if they're even possible. The council needs to know about the dream, Anakin. Damaging as it may be to your career, the images we have both seen do not reveal the Sith Lord, but indicate he is somewhere close by. If nothing else, they may be able to form a defense before the images we've seen can become real."
Anakin nodded. "I agree."
"But not for the same reason?"
Anakin let go of the railing. "I would rather sacrifice myself to the council's graces than run the risk of hurting Padmé."
"That's your decision, then?"
Obi-Wan stepped towards the balcony door. "I'll rest easier knowing that you'll watch your steps in the future, my friend. We've a day before we leave on our next tour; go see your wife, Anakin."
"Hmm?" He looked back over his shoulder.
"I thought you were going to tell the council."
"I don't think I need to." Obi-Wan's smile was finally the relaxed, easy smile Anakin had been waiting for since the beginning of their conversation. "You're going to watch your step and tell me if anything happens to cause you concern or worry. You're going to come to me and talk about any possible problems, perceived or real, so that we can sort them out to avoid this possible future."
"You'll keep our secret?" Anakin felt as if the weight had been lifted from his shoulders. "Thank you, Obi-Wan."
"Don't thank me yet. Thank me in twenty years when you're still a happily, secretly married Jedi and this future we're dreaming of hasn't come to pass."
Anakin let out a breath, inhaling deeply the next moment, feeling as if he'd just been freed from a momentous burden as Obi-Wan disappeared. His secret was now a shared burden, one between friends and while Obi-Wan didn't approve, he would hold his council and be available in the hopes that it would prevent the possible future they'd both seen. It was enough to know that he had someone he could trust to confide in.
His gaze was drawn back to the senatorial apartment in the distance. Padmé's image appeared in his mind's eye as clear as if she was standing in front of him. Her smile was arm, her arms open and inviting and this time - this time her eyes were no longer horrified. No one would notice his absence and Obi-Wan would know where to contact him in the morning. A smile slid across his lips as he crossed to the balcony doors.
He could wake up tomorrow with his wife in his arms.