This is a Vader/Ami AU set one year after ep III. The last of the Jedi gathered together on Styx and managed to defeat Emperor Palpatine. During the battle, Obi-Wan Kenobi managed to unarm and capture Lord Darth Vader, his former apprentice (in this story, he's not injured and the mechanical arm from AOTC has been replaced with a bionic one, like Luke's in ESB). The Dark Lord has been brought to Coruscant, where the remaining Jedi and Senate is now working to restore the Republic. On her way to join them is Senator Padmé Amidala Skywalker...

Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars or these characters, and neither do I make any money out of writing this.

Author's Note: English isn't my native, so please bear with my spelling and grammar. Thanks!

---

"Fuck you, Obi-Wan."

Obi-Wan felt a pang of pain as he watched the blonde man who once had been his apprentice lean against the wall in the small cell. Gray walls, one small bed, a table and nothing more. Except for the cage containing the Ysalamir, that was. Darth Vader met his gaze casually.

"How is your arm?" the bearded Jedi asked, forcing himself to remain calm, not to reveal any of the agony he felt.

The Dark Lord's eyes narrowed to slits as he his hand went to touch the bandage on his right arm. During their duel a few days before Obi-Wan had cut into it, and thus unarmed the young Sith.

"Wondering if it'll leave a scar to remind you of your victory?" Anakin - Vader - snarled.

Obi-Wan seated himself next to the man on the bed. He sighed wearily.

"Anakin, I never wanted..."

"Anakin is dead, old man. You've got nothing to do here."

Obi-Wan met his gaze and saw nothing but mocking hatred. To see Anakin like this...It made him want to scream. But the man in front of him was right. There was nothing he could do. It was too late.

He rose from the bed.
 
"You are right. I only wanted to tell you that you're going to be moved to the prison on Arkana II next week."

"As long as I don't have to put up with any damned Jedi..." He smiled. "They won't keep me there, Kenobi. I'll get away, and once I've done that, I'll have my revenge for this..." - he lifted his injured arm.

Obi-Wan shook his head.

"How will you do that when you can't access to the Force?" he asked.

There was no sarcasm or anger in his voice, only sadness. Vader gave him a hard glance and then glared at the cage high under the roof, where the Ysalamir was held.

"Don't worry, old man. I'll find a way."

The Jedi didn't answer. He turned and knocked on the door and the guards outside opened it to let him out. Obi-Wan felt the relief wash over him as he left the cell. And it wasn't because of the sudden return of his connection with the Force. Even though it was terrible not to feel it, the Ysalamir had nothing to do with the ache in his heart. He hadn't believed it could be pain like that.


Many years ago he'd asked why Qui-Gon hadn't wanted to take another padawan after Xanatos. His master had explained it, but at that time, Obi-Wan hadn't been able to understand. When he told Qui-Gon so, the older Jedi had smiled sadly,

"I hope that you will never understand, my young apprentice."

And now he knew, his master had been right.

---

Mace Windu lifted his head and nodded towards Obi-Wan as the younger Jedi entered the room where the remnants of the Jedi Council and a few others sat. The Temple had been destroyed, and until it was rebuilt the Senate had offered the remaining Jedi quarters in the Senate's building.

"And what did our Sith say?" Windu asked.

Obi-Wan gave him an unhappy glance.

"Nothing. That Anakin was dead."

The bald Jedi nodded slowly.

"We will have to accept that he is lost, Obi-Wan. You must move on, as must we all."

"I know. But it's not easy."

He roused his shoulders and seated himself in one of the chairs standing in a circle. After the devastating war, and the near complete destruction of the Jedi Order, Obi-Wan had been asked to join the Council. Even so, it only consisted of ten members now, instead of the normal twelve.

"When is the election for a new Chancellor?" he asked.

"Tomorrow. I think Bail Organa has a fair chance of winning."

Obi-Wan nodded.

"He would be a excellent leader. He's always been a good man - and friend."

"His part in our victory was essential", Mace Windu agreed.

Obi-Wan hesitated for a moment, then asked:

"Has Senator Amidala returned yet?"

The former Queen of Naboo - Anakin's wife - had fled to Tatooine when it became clear that Anakin was lost to the Dark side and the Emperor took control over the galaxy. Then, when the Jedi started to fight back, she'd helped them with the planning, and once again proved to be a more than capable strategist. Now, that the Empire had been defeated, she'd visited Naboo for a few days, but was now on her way back to the capital world.


Yoda gave him a sleepy glance.

"Returned she has. Wants to see you she does."

"Where is she?"

"In the Senate right now. But she'll be waiting for you in her apartment this evening."

Obi-Wan nodded.

"Thank you, Master Windu. I'll see her then. How is the re-building of the temple going?" 

"We've started, but it's a long way to go. It'll take time."

So many things had been destroyed so quickly. It wasn't more than a year since Palpatine had proclaimed himself Emperor and started the Jedi Purge. Now, only a few hundreds of Jedi remained.
But they would rise again, even thought it would take time, Obi-Wan was sure of that. Only small remnants of the Empire still fought, and without their leader, they would soon start to dissolve.

Ki-Adi Mundi seemed to share his thought. He shook his oddly formed head as he stared out through the window.

"This last week has been busy. First the final battle with the Empire, and now details coming with recreating the democracy."

"Would you rather have lost the battle on Styx, and be dead by now?" Kiara, an old female Jedi, asked dryly.

Ki-Adi smiled.

"No. But it will be nice once it's over, and everything's back to normal."

"You know, it'll never be the same again"

"But maybe something equally good", the Cerean offered. "We've lost much, but we will rise again."

Yes, we will, Obi-Wan thought. But equally good? Without Anakin?

I doubt that.

---

"Good luck, Bail. If there's any justice at all in this galaxy, you'll win the election."

"Thank you, Padmé. But whoever wins, things can't be worse than under the Emperor."

She smiled. The evening light fell through the high and arched windows in the long corridor, giving her dark hair a golden glow.

"That's true. But you deserve to be Chancellor, more than anyone else. And you would be a good one."

They rounded the corner and spotted a man in Jedirobes standing outside Nubian senator's apartment. She frowned but then she recognized him, and her frown was transformed into a smile.

"Obi-Wan!" she exclaimed. "It's so good to see you again!"

Bail smiled, too, and extended his hand to the bearded Jedi.

"Indeed, general Kenobi. I'm very relieved you survived the battle of Styx."

"Thank you, Bail. Have to admit that it feels rather good."

He turned his gaze to Amidala. His feelings for this woman was mixed. She was intelligent, strong, a very capable leader, and for that he admired her. But she had married Anakin in secret, and was forbidden, against everything he'd learned. Yet, during the last year when they fought together against Palpatine, he'd come to understand just how much she truly loved Anakin. Seeing that, it was hard to judge her.

"You wanted to see me?" he said.

She nodded. Bail gave them an understanding glance.

"I see you tomorrow then."

"Yes. Count on my vote."

"I'll do that."

He turned and walked away, leaving Amidala and Obi-Wan alone in the hallway, alone with the tension. There was no anger, not anymore, but the none of them could look at the other without remembering the one who wasn't with them...

Amidala gave him a calm glance.

"Well. Would you care for a cup of tea, Jedi Kenobi?"

---

They sat in the sofa, taking small sips from their tea, a special sort made of rare waterflowers from Mon Calmari.

"Your trip to Naboo was pleasant?"

She smiled.

"Wonderful. I've missed it so much."


"I understand that."

She put down her cup on the table.

"Tell me about Styx." Herself, she hadn't been in the actual battle, though she'd helped plan it. "You were down at the ground, weren't?"

He shrugged, feeling uneasy as they draw nearer to subjects that would be painful for the both of them...

"It's not much to tell, really. Palpatine was so sure no-one could ever break through his defences, so he wasn't afraid...or careful."

"He paid for that."

Her voice was cold. He gave her a side-way glance.

"You must not let the hatred consume you, Padmé."

She met his gaze, fire burning in her dark, beautiful eyes.

"Don't go Jedish with me, Obi-Wan. He stole my life, and the one I loved more than anything..." her voice trailed of.

He laid a hand on her thin shoulder, not knowing what to say. He just understood her all too well. She looked up at him.

"I've got to see him, Obi-Wan."

He stared at her, not really surprised.

"Are you sure that's such a good idea? He is nothing like the man we knew." He shook his head slightly. "Anakin is dead, Padmé."

She nodded.

"I know that. But I've got to see him anyway. I need it...to put an end to this. Maybe then, I'll be able to move on."

There was no fear in her voice, no hesitation, only determination. He couldn't argue with that voice.


"When?"

"Tomorrow. Can you make it happen?"

He nodded, reluctantly.

"If you are sure."

"I am."

---

Amidala took a deep breath and nodded. The armed guard pushed the controls and the door slid open.

"You knock when you want to leave."

She nodded again and then entered the cell.


Anakin - Vader laid on the bed, dressed in dark standard trousers and jacket. When the door slid open he looked up. His mocking expression turned into surprise as he saw who his visitor was.

For a moment he was stunned. A sudden surge of feelings almost overwhelmed him as he laid eyes upon the woman he'd once loved so dearly. It was almost like...no, you fool, let go of it! You're the beaten Dark Lord and she is one of them, remember?

It wasn't in any way less jolting for Amidala. Oh, dear heavens, Anakin...

For a moment, they just stared at each other, for a second unable to do anything else –


Then her gaze hardened and he smiled coldly.

"So, milady, why have I been granted this honor?"

"This is not for you...Vader. I do this for me."

He grinned.

"I'm no longer yours to command, Senator. I do not follow anyone's wish, but my own."

"Straight into prison?"

His eyes darkened.

"What does it matter where I am, as long as I'm no longer a slave to the Jedi."

"A slave?" She shook her head. "I grieve for you, Lord Vader, if that's what you believe. Can't you see that the only time in your life when you wasn't a slave was with the Jedi?"

"That's not true."

"It's not?" she asked quietly.

"No!" The only time I was really free was when I was with you...No! He pushed the thought away, smiled, leaned back against the wall and took a deep breath. "No. It's not true."

She smiled at him, sadly, he thought. 

"You know it's true, Anakin, don't you?"

Incredibly fast, considering the chains, he stood, and took a step towards her.

"Don't you ever call me that again!" he shouted.

She met his furious gaze, unrelenting.

"Why? Because you can't face the truth that you once had it all and because of nothing apart from your own actions you've lost it?"

"I've won back my dignity. I'm no longer a puppet in the Jedi's game - or in yours!"

She stiffened and then slapped him as hard as she could. Her voice was low, but the fire burnt hotter than a exploding sun.

"Do not ever accuse me of not loving you again! I loved you more than life itself, more than I loved my people, more than I could ever have loved anyone else! When you left me, I didn't want to live any longer. The only thing keeping me from taking my life was the battle against the Emperor. And now, now that we've won, I still can't find peace. Because when I wake up in the mornings, the man I love is not by my side."

She turned away from her, shivering by emotion.

"Why", she said as she closed her eyes, "why didn't you die? How do you dare to live, but still refuse to hold me?"

When she finished, her quick breath was the only thing to be heard in the cell. She stood so, with her back turned against him, for what seemed like eternity.

Then she felt his hand on her shoulder. It was firm, but still gentle.

Even now, his touch was the same.

"Padmé", he said quietly. "I never meant for you to get hurt. Please believe that. It was never my intention." I didn't think, I didn't realize...

She swallowed, fighting back tears. No weakness. She could never afford it again. But when she spoke, she heard no determination in her own voice. Just the pain she was desperately trying to shut out.

"Then", she whispered, "why did you leave me?"

And she took a quick step away from his hand, and called for the guard to let her out.

---

Padmé stared out through the window.

Fool, fool, fool.

Why did she have to go and see Anakin? Why couldn't she just forget about him, ignore the fact that he was still alive, accept that he was another man?

Because I've tried for so long, tried all those thing. And failed.  

When she'd learned that he was imprisoned she had thought she could...settle matters, once and for all. If she met him and with her own eyes saw how changed he was, she would be able to grieve for the husband she'd lost, and maybe get over it some day.

She would hate Darth Vader for killing her Anakin, and stealing their life together.

Padmé glanced at Obi-Wan who sat in the sofa. He'd come to hear if she was all right. She appreciated his concern. He'd always been reliable, dutiful. And now he was a friend too, she believed. 

She studied him closely. Somehow, it seemed as if he'd managed to accept the loss of Anakin. He could see the Dark Lord and forget the fact that the blonde prisoner once had been his best friend. How did he do that?

Rain had started to fall outside. Wasn't unusual at this time of the year.

She sighed.

It was strange. She'd hated Anakin...oh, yes. She still did.

But only because she still loved him.

---


Darth Vader stared at the ceiling.

Why had she come?

For her own sake, she'd said.

To gain what?

Somehow, he doubted she'd achieved whatever it was she wanted.

The meeting had filled him with...emotion. Shouldn't be bad. The Dark side needed to be fed with strong feelings. Anger, hatred and greed.

But it was bad. Because what the Dark Lord of the Sith felt when looking at his wife wasn't hatred. Not at all.

She's still as beautiful. Force how I've missed her!

The traitorous thought entered his mind unbidden. Stop it, he ordered himself. You don't need her. You never did.

His cheek ached slightly where she'd hit him. He'd deserved that, he guessed.

How much he ever tried to convince himself she was lying, he couldn't deny what he knew, deep inside.

She'd really loved him. Once.

The pain when he admitted that to himself was unexpected. So strong. Why would he feel it?

He remembered the sound of her voice when she asked him why he'd left her. Sad. Pained.

Could it be...that she still cared? Loved?

He shook his head irritably.

This was just ridiculous. Of course she didn't. And that was just as it should. Love only stood in the way for real power.

And what power is that, chained Dark Lord?

He cursed loudly. That sounded far too much like something Obi-Wan or Yoda would say.

"Why did you leave me?"

He closed his eyes as he rolled over to rest on his stomach.

"I don't know", he whispered. "Somehow I just don't know any longer."

TBC