Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars. I just created my own little AU sandbox to play in. That sandbox got really big and became the Forever Destined series universe.
AN: Welcome to the latest vignette. By the title, I'm sure you can guess at least one even that will be highlighted in this story. Three months have passed since the events in Origins and Callista is ready to pop! The Skywalkers and said pregnant woman arrive on Naboo to prepare for the arrival of the newest addition that could come any day. Anakin is ready to spring a surprise on Padme, while they all enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation in the Lake Country.
AN 2: Also on another important note for reference purposes, it has been approximately 4 ¾ years since Pooja became Queen of Naboo. She is well into her second term. Just FYI for readers. I had to go back and track it to remember myself.
New Arrival: A Forever Destined Vignette
Queen Aridala waited on the palace's main landing platform, as the large Nubian cruiser slowly docked. It had been months since she had seen her family and she was very excited, though she maintained the professional, stoic expression that was expected of the Queen of Naboo. Their duties had kept them all busy and unavailable for any sort of family gatherings on Naboo. The last one had been unexpected nine months ago when they had lost the patriarch of their large family during the Death Star fiasco. She could hardly believe they were coming to welcome the newest addition to their family, though she knew this baby would be the first of many future little ones. She was almost two years into her final term as Queen and while she and her beloved Adam were still discussing their future plans, she knew it would someday include having a family. She glanced to her side, seeing her handsome love standing stoically at her side, his face betraying no emotion either. She knew he was excited as well and truly loved being a part of her family. He had not grown up surrounded by the large, loving family that she had and did not take it for granted. He had taught her that she could never take it for granted either. The only love he had known in any capacity had been shown to him by the flaxen blonde haired woman that stood beside him. Lady Anya, her chief handmaiden and Adam's mother, had settled well into this life, gladly leaving behind her previous life that had her and her son trapped in a dangerous crime family. Despite her actions in the past, Pooja trusted her implicitly, only second to her beloved.
While she and Adam were very much in love, they still maintained nothing short of professionalism in the public eye. It would remain this way until a new Queen was elected. Only then could they officially and publically be together. It bothered her at times and knew it bothered Adam more, but she refused to let their personal lives come under scrutiny. Discussing her relationship would take away from the real issues and the needs of the people. Pooja, like her Aunt, would never compromise her people, especially for a distraction that was no one's business but their own.
Jayden and Jenna were first down the ramp and they hugged their cousin tightly.
"Goodness Jay, are you ever going to stop growing?" Pooja asked, amazed at how much he had shot up since she had seen him nine months ago.
"I know, I keep telling him I'm going to have to get a foot stool to stand on just to kiss him," Natalie said, as she came beside him. Jayden chuckled and she yelped, as he put one arm around her waist and lifted her up.
"Good thing I can easily pick you up, with one arm no less," he said slyly, as their lips met tenderly.
"I see they haven't changed at all," Pooja teased. Jenna shook her head.
"No, if anything they've only gotten worse," Jenna replied, with an eye roll.
"But I hear things seem to be much cozier between you and Marcus," Pooja teased, as she noticed the Olin boy behind her and Jenna blushed.
"Pooja!" nine-year-old Wil called excitedly, as he threw his arms around her. Pooja knelt down and held her baby brother tightly.
"There you are. Jayden's not the only one that's grown though! You're getting so big, baby brother," she gushed.
"I missed you Poojy," Wil said.
"I missed you too," she replied, as she stood up and hugged her parents next, followed by the rest of their family.
Once everyone had filed off the ship, Pooja led them into the palace.
"I'll let everyone get settled in their quarters for tonight and then we can all convene in the dining hall for a family dinner. The palace chefs are preparing a feast that will feed even this brood," Pooja announced, as they all proceeded to find their rooms in the palace. They would be venturing to the Lake Country tomorrow evening.
Anakin watched his wife, as she sat at her vanity, primping for dinner. She was dressed in an elegant jade green dress and had swept her beautiful curls back with a glittering jade green clasp at the back at her head. While it was only a family dinner, Pooja had asked the governor and most of the senior staff to dine with them and as Senator, she felt she needed to dress the part. Leia would be in similar garb, while he, Luke and the twins would attend in the usual Jedi attire. Kimberly would likely also wear a dress of sorts, though much less elaborate than Padme or Leia's. He would never tire of gazing upon her beautiful form, but her sweet voice jarred him from his daydreams.
"Ani, will you put this on me?" she asked, holding up the crystal star pendant that he had presented to her for their tenth anniversary. He smiled and came behind her, before taking the necklace and easily fastening it around her neck. He took the opportunity, as she knew he would, to wrap his arms around her waist. His lips found the nape of her neck, gently trailing kisses, as he pressed himself against her back. It was pure ecstasy for her and she smiled, as chill bumps formed on her skin.
"Careful my love or we'll never make it out of this room tonight," she warned playfully.
"You say that like it's a bad thing, my star nymph," he responded huskily in her ear, just before nipping her earlobe playfully. She giggled and turned in his arms, eager to kiss his lips. And she did, as hungrily as ever, the familiar passion that was always so evident between them licking at her every nerve and his.
"We'll have to continue this later tonight," she promised. He nodded and offered his arm to her, as they prepared to leave.
"But while we're on our way to dinner, you're going to tell me what you're up to," she continued.
"I have no idea what you're implying, angel," he replied without missing a beat and with his trademark smirk.
"Uh huh, you can fool anyone except me and you know it. We could have gone to the Lake Country tonight, but daddy, who is also being annoyingly mysterious, said that we have business in Theed tomorrow so we won't be going to Varykino until tomorrow night. And as I recall, I don't have any business tomorrow so that means you're up to something," Padme concluded.
"Can't get anything by you, can I?" he asked.
"No, so why don't you just tell me what you have up your sleeve, Master Jedi," she replied.
"And ruin my surprise? Sorry angel, but you'll find out tomorrow and trust me, it's worth the wait," he said mysteriously.
"We'll see. I still have all night to get it out of you and we both know how persuasive I can be," Padme whispered to him seductively. He shivered and knew he it would take all his control not to spill his surprise to her prematurely. He relaxed though, because she wasn't the only one that could be persuasive. They loved playing this game with each other and they always played to win, so the fun would likely go on all night…
Dinner was a pleasant event and the evening found most of them coupled off, enjoying the company of one another. Kimberly, as usual, found her way to the beautiful palace gardens, fingers laced with Shane's, as they strolled under Naboo's moons. They finally made their way to the plaque that was dedicated to Yan and Kimberly gently placed a bouquet of fragrant yellow lilies on it.
"I can't believe it's been almost nine months since he died," Kimberly said.
"I know, he was a great man and I know that he would be so proud of you. You're an amazing healer," Shane told her, as he gently wiped a tear from her cheek. She looked down shyly in his praise.
"Thanks," she replied.
"Come on," he said, as he took her hand.
"Where are we going?" she asked.
"I could use some dessert. I think they're probably serving the cake now," he replied. She smiled.
"Mmm…I hope there is chocolate," she said. He chuckled.
"With a palace full of Skywalkers, I'm sure chocolate is on the menu," he assured, as he led her back inside.
The next morning, she and Anakin ate breakfast together and prepared for the day ahead. Strangely, everyone else was absent and had likely gone ahead on Anakin's instructions. Padme was very anxious, because everyone knew what Anakin's surprise for her was. She was a little miffed, but knew that whatever it was that he had planned was probably amazing. He had probably gone and spoiled her again.
"Ready to go?" he asked, as he stood up and held his hand out to her.
"You have me on pins and needles. Are you sure you just can't tell me where we're going?" she asked. He shook his head.
"Nope and you have to wear this," Anakin said, as he held up a long piece of cloth.
"You're going to blindfold me?" she asked incredulously.
"Please angel, let me have my fun. It will be worth it, I promise," he pleaded. She huffed.
"Fine, but I'll get you for this later," she said, pointing her finger at him, trying to be menacing. He smirked and took her hand.
"You can punish me later," he replied, a sexy edge in his voice.
"Oh I will," she promised, as he led her out to the speeder. Once there, he put the blindfold over her eyes and took to the driver's seat.
It was a short journey and Padme felt her husband take her hand, as he helped her out of the speeder.
"Can I take the blindfold off now?" she asked.
"Just a second," he replied, as he led her up the walkway and then stopped, before going around behind her.
"Ready?" he asked. She tapped her foot impatiently.
"Yes!" she urged. He removed the blindfold and Padme found herself in front of her Grandmother Winama's former estate, which had belonged to Governor Danae, after her step father had greedily stolen the deed and sold it. The deed was never found after his death, so a new one was draw up and it had become government property. Unsure what to do with the estate, the Naboo government had maintained it in honor of her Grandmother and Grandfather, who had both been brilliant legislators. But no one had lived in it since her Grandmother's death. Just standing before it now brought memories rushing back to her.
"What…what are we doing here?" she asked. He smiled lovingly at her, as he handed her a datapad. She looked at him questioningly, but clicked the device on. And she gasped at the document before her eyes.
"Ani…this is the deed to the estate," she said in disbelief.
"It's yours…ours. It just needs your signature. I already signed it," he said, as he handed her the electronic pen.
"I…I don't know what to say. I mean, this place means so much to me…but we already have Varykino," she said. He nodded.
"This is only the beginning of your surprise. Now sign it. It should have been yours all along and Governor Bibble agreed with me when I approached him about this. He got through all the legal tape for me and allowed me to buy it back from the city. But I knew it would remain empty most of the time, since we're on Coruscant or in the Lake Country usually, so with Artoo's help and the hired government staff that maintains this place, they got it ready to become this…" Anakin said, as she saw her family standing around something with a tarp over it, just in front of the beautiful fountain. With excitement, Luke and Leia took the tarp off, revealing a beautiful sign, made out of silvery white marble, with elegant letters carved into it.
The Angel Center
"The Angel Center?" she asked.
"We've turned it into a shelter. We still have to hire staff to run it, but I thought it was the perfect place to house women and children that need to escape a terrible situation. Mother decided that we should go even further though," Anakin said, pausing, as Shmi beamed at them.
"In addition to the regular staff, we're going to hire educators to conduct classes for both the adults and children. There will also be a daycare for little ones. That way, those mothers can learn the skills they need to get good jobs to support themselves and their children. It will be more than just a shelter, but the new start that they need," Shmi said, as she took Padme's hands in her own. Tears glittered in her eyes, as she hugged her mother-in-law.
"Just wait till you see the inside, sweetness," Riley called, as he held Jobal, who was already crying tears of joy, both for her daughter and herself, for all the memories she had of her childhood home.
"Yeah, dad found a lot of the people who bought some of the furniture and other things that belonged to your grandparents," Luke said.
"And he bought it all back," Leia added. Artoo chirped rather loudly.
"He's right, I couldn't have done it without Artoo. He spent hours scouring records and tracking everything down. The library refused to let me buy back any of your grandparent's books though," Anakin said, faking a little sadness. Kimberly giggled.
"That's because they donated them all back," she said, surprising her mother even more.
"I…I can't believe you did all this…just for me," Padme said in shock. He lifted her chin and gazed into her eyes.
"I told you a long time ago that I couldn't right all the wrongs that were done to you before we met, but that I would spend the rest of my life trying to at least rectify some of them. I meant it, because you're my life," Anakin told her sincerely. Crying freely now, Padme threw her arms around him and her feet dangled off the ground, as he spun her around. She kissed him passionately and then wrapped her arms around his neck, burying her face in his shoulder.
"You've done that…and so much more. I love you so much. Thank you Ani," she cried.
"I love you too angel. You're my heart and soul," he whispered, before they broke apart. He smiled, as he watched her sign the deed.
"Well, what are we waiting for? Are you ready for the grand tour?" Riley asked. Padme wiped her tears and nodded, as she hugged him, her children, and the rest of their family, before kneeling beside Artoo.
"Thank you Artoo. You'll never know how much this means to me," Padme said, as she hugged the little droid. He whirled affectionately, delighted by his mistress' happiness. An outsider might think it was silly to assume a droid could feel anything, but this clan knew that there was no droid like Artoo. They were convinced that he felt just as strongly as they did.
"Come on, let's go!" Jenna said excitedly.
"Yeah, did you ever think you'd be able to take us on a tour of Grandma Winama's estate?" Jayden asked. Padme smiled and put her arms around her youngest set of twins.
"I didn't, but I'm so glad I can now," Padme replied, as they started for the mansion.
Padme gazed around in awe at how much of it looked the same as it had when she was a child. Much of it, including all the bedrooms were newly furnished, but the family room and her grandparents study were almost exactly the same, right down to the last detail. The fireplace brought back so many memories, like the stormy night that she had run away from her village after Ruwee had promised Governor Danae that she would marry Palo on her sixteenth life-day. This place had become her home until she was elected Princess of Theed two years later and she remembered sitting in front of the fireplace, enthralled by her grandmother's stories. She felt her dad's hands on her shoulders and she turned, hugging him tightly.
"I still don't know how all of you did all this. It's amazing," she said. Riley smiled and kissed her forehead.
"Well, your mama helped us get a lot of it right, since this was her childhood home. She did a lot. I think it's her way of trying to make up for all those bad years she subjected you to Ruwee," Riley told her. Padme wiped a few tears away.
"It goes a long way," she replied.
"Come on, the last ferry will be leaving soon. We'll be back later this week for the grand opening. They've already got the roster nearly full of the young women that will be coming here," he said.
"I'm so happy that this place will now be used to help young women and children that have been abused. And I know my grandparents and Grandfather Dooku would be so proud too," Padme said. He nodded.
"That they would. They're somewhere watching out for you and they're bursting at the seams with pride in you, Anakin, and their great grandbabies, just like me," Riley told her, as he led her out where everyone was waiting in the speeders. Once everyone was in, they took off for the marina.
Natalie gazed out at the ocean, as the ferry lapped through the water. She shivered in the dusk air and marveled at the breathtaking sunset before them. She welcomed the warmth and embrace of her boyfriend's arms around her and his body against hers, as he wrapped his arms around her waist.
"Cold?" he asked.
"A little, but not anymore, thanks to you," she replied, gazing up at him.
"Besides, I wouldn't trade this moment for anything. I just love coming to the Lake Country with you. It's so peaceful here, so different from Coruscant and even the palace on Alderaan," Natalie mentioned.
"Yeah, it's definitely a lot less busy. At least we won't have to dodge Holonet reporters out here," he mentioned. Since their very public abduction and battle with Blaine and the Mandalorians, the Holonet's interest in the young pair had increased tenfold. There was talk throughout the galaxy and even whispers in the Temple that he could be dangerous if he was tempted by the dark side. And the gossip about Natalie was even worse sometimes. Some in the Alderaanian parliament actually wanted her title as Princess revoked, though they were a minority and they had heard some Masters in the Temple were not pleased that one of their own was associated with her. His parents and Natalie's parents actively denounced any malicious talk or rumors concerning them.
"Don't worry about anything they say. I love you and nothing is ever going to change that. I don't care about your origins, because you're mine. You've been mine since before either of us was old enough to know it," he told her. She smiled and melted in his embrace, as their lips met in a tender kiss.
They arrived at the dock, just as the sun finally set below the horizon and disembarked, before travelling up to the mansion sized lake house.