Disclaimer: All the characters here belong to the Great Flannelled One. I just borrowed them for a spell.

Author's note: Part One has two paragraphs which may be offensive to younger readers. I chose to put a low rating on this story because I felt it was not offensive enough to garner an NC-17. (All parts after Part One are PG.) Hint: avoid the italicized section if you don't want to read it.

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Anakin Skywalker silently walked through the halls and passageways of the Naboo consulate, avoiding the guards with a practiced ease. This, for him, was the easiest part of his journey. Getting out of the Jedi Temple was harder, especially under Obi-Wan's ever more careful gaze.

But for his wife, he would risk even his master's rage and the expulsion from the Order being here promised. He had risked it time and time again over the course of their marriage, and he would risk it again this one last time.

He was changing. The galaxy was changing. The Jedi Order, the Republic, just as he'd predicted, were faltering and dying. The Republic, as far as he was concerned, was dead. Perhaps it was better that way for a universe scarred by the effects of a disastrous Clone War that had ruined its economy, slain billions, and destroyed the trusts the people had once held in their Senate. The Chancellor himself was the only one who escaped blame. He was the first to get passage of bills to aid war-torn planets rebuild. He was the one who had proposed legislature to get refugees jobs, boost the economy.

And the Jedi? Nearly decimated by their losses in the Clone Wars, they, too, were struggling to rebuild, often with the suspicion and fear of the common people. They blamed the Jedi for the Army's creation and not doing anything to stop the War from happening.

Anakin's blood surged hot with anger when he heard such things. Though he privately no longer felt any regard for the Order or the Council, they were Jedi. They had powers beyond what any pitiable 'normal' person could ever have. The Jedi weren't to be held with contempt. They should be regarded with, at the very least, respect for that.

The present Council, of course, excluded. Palpatine was right. Yoda and the rest were blind fools, weakening to the power the Dark Side was gaining. It was sapping away their strength and yet they refused to admit it. They refused to seek new ways but stubbornly resisted change.

They had labeled him rebellious and dangerous even from his first day among them, and if they ever found out about his marriage, they would throw him out of the Order immediately.

He snorted. Yeah, sure they would. He wouldn't still take this risk quite so boldly if not for the fact that he knew they couldn't afford to. As much as they were censorious, they needed him.

For his power was growing as the years went by.

*

Padmé Amidala Skywalker paced restlessly in her chambers. Anakin had managed to send word that he would be coming to her tonight, but he had not yet arrived. She was worried. She always worried when he snuck away from the Temple to visit her, because of the danger that his midnight visits presented his standing in the Order, but it seemed she couldn't resist his kisses, his whispered words as they came together in passion that heated her blood far more than she ever wanted to admit.

She was worried about a lot more tonight. Yes, the galaxy's crises and the increasing power Palpatine had her spending many nights pacing restlessly, but this was different.

She was concerned about Anakin. From what she'd been able to glean from Obi Wan, his stubborn former student – for Anakin had, at last, been granted Knighthood two years after the Battle of Geonosis – was becoming more and more impossible. His behavior towards her was changing, too. He was even more arrogant than ever, and the boy that had entranced her so boldly at nineteen was, four years later, still as entrancing. But the darkness that had frightened her that day in the garage, that had made her fear for his safety, was starting to make her fear for hers.

She loved him so very deeply, and yet his love frightened her so very much. And she didn't know how he would take her news.

Abruptly, she didn't have more time to think it over. There was a slight breeze as the door quickly opened and shut, and she turned to face her husband. The smile on his face showed how much he had missed her, and she found her heart began to race. She had missed him, too. This last separation had been far too long. He came forward to her, and she fell into his arms, accepting his kiss eagerly.

"Oh, Anakin…"

"Padmé," he murmured. They were already undressing, need and desire unable to wait any longer. "My angel, how I've missed you…"

In the darkness of this room, he could feel his heart grow unburdened as she kissed him. It was amazing that even though the long years had passed since their first kiss, each one took him back. He felt unsteady and his overblown confidence deflated. There was no need to shield himself, no need to be anything but himself as he was at his core, and he was vulnerable to her in ways that no one else saw him vulnerable.

It made him wonder, sometimes, at the depths he would go to for this woman, that she could so utterly strip him of his defenses and yet leave him out of his mind with passion for her.

He felt that need that controlled him burning higher and higher, and roughly, pressed her body to his, claiming her wet lips in his possessively and hungrily, begging and demanding at the same time. The feeling of cool hands undoing her clothes, ripping at the delicate silk of her dress when it would not come off easily, had her gasping for air. She was not surprised at this urgency; she felt it too.

Padmé was only too willing to let Anakin hold him to her, molding her shape against his, his kiss the dance of tongue to tongue and lips encompassing one another's. He was seducing her with every touch, every second of this kiss, and she wanted it, wanted him so desperately. She gave him everything she could in their kiss, feeling the spark of passion growing within her at his inflamed response. They moved to the bed, and he ran his hand down the length of her body, asking her to demand this of him, show him how much she needed him. And she did, her body arched beneath him as the fiery force of his tongue made her moan her pleasure.

He knew she desired him, and knew that he could not remain in control long enough to seduce her more. He nearly cried out with relief when he entered her, for she was blissfully wet and wanting him, arching up as he lost his mind, as her lips met his hotly. He was urgent, still almost fully clothed as he drove himself into her, his hands caressing as their mouths met in a series of passionate kisses. She took him deeper, not caring about anything but that moment. She demanded his release wordlessly and with incoherent cries that he primitively responded to. Their eyes were locked tensely as his uncontrolled thrusting bruised their flesh, and still she wanted more. He cried out, groaning, freezing as his pleasure came upon him and she held him deep inside, responding with her own fierce joy.

She needed his intensity, needed it to be demanding and desperate, needed his loss of control.

She needed it to prove to herself just how much he wanted her.

When at last their passions were ended, Padmé realized Anakin was still inside her, gulping in breaths of air at her ear, his hand and hers entwined as they lay together. When he finally was able to pull back, he looked into her eyes, saw how they were melted from their normal chocolate color, a satisfaction in them she didn't even try to hide. She saw tenderness she hadn't seen in a long time in his. He kissed her softly and then sank back on the bed, pulling her to face him as at last they were able to relax.

This was the way it went between them. Words about the things that had happened, a few laughs, maybe even tears. But now, there was always a passionate lovemaking that left Padmé breathless. It was as if Anakin just didn't know how to relax anymore, as if he feared that all the changes in their "day lives," as they had termed Senator and Jedi duties, would affect the time they had together so much so that they could not afford leisure. She knew that each second was an affirmation of love, and relished his zeal for that fact alone. But she wanted, in part, to go back to the way it had been, when he had taken each second slow, loving the feel of her body. He had made every second of their nights together last, for the memories of each night would have to sustain them both for days, weeks, and even months at a time.

Anakin watched Padmé drifting off, lost in her thoughts, and reached out to touch her face, brushing away loose tendrils of hair – really an excuse to touch the softness of her hair. He loved touching her, even in the smallest ways. He delighted in every detail of her body, and over the years had come to memorize each. They were the way he kept her memory burning in his heart on those long trips. Careful to shelter the thoughts from Obi Wan, he would take them out in his mind at night and go over each like a long-treasured item, remembering when each impression of her was taken. It helped pass the lonely nights, soothed away his frustrations. He missed her so much, yet he was so often at a loss for the right words to say when they were alone.

"Anakin?"

Broken from his reverie, he met her eyes to discover they'd gone serious. She'd sat up, drawing the sheets around her protectively. She looked so small, so fragile, that his first impression of her as an angel was reaffirmed.

"What is it, angel?" he asked, sitting up as well. She looked too serious…it made something like a tendril of fear curl into his stomach, a tendril which he quickly quashed.

"I've got something to tell you, something that I don't think you'll like." She twisted her hands nervously and then forced herself to stop as he drew her closer, kissing her on the shoulder.

"I'm sure whatever it is won't upset me as much as you seem to think it will, Padmé. What's troubling you?"

She looked up into his eyes. Deep blue eyes, the first thing that had caught her when she had met him all those years ago. Full of intelligence, and a wisdom beyond his years. The nine-year-old had impressed upon her things she had not known until she was well into her years as a Senator. His eyes remained knowing, but now they had grown more secretive, more able to hide the emotions that flickered across them. Emotion had always been Anakin's first reaction, even as that little boy, and his emotion now, reflected in his eyes, was concern and love.

She felt emboldened by it enough to just come out with it. He had always been up front with her about everything. She, too, should be about this now.

"I'm pregnant."

For a moment, his shock kept him dumb. Then, he burst out with, "What do you mean you're pregnant?"

"I mean, I'm pregnant." She searched his eyes, hoping for some kind of response, but he just sat there, unmoving. "For goodness's sake, Anakin, say something."

"What would you like me to say, Padmé? Congratulations?" he snapped. "Wow, I'm finally going to be a father?"

Her eyes filled with pain, and she got up, walking to the window. He sighed, regaining his hold on his temper, and got up, enfolding her in his arms. "This isn't easy for me either, Anakin," she said, her voice bordering on tears. "Having this baby will have an impact on my career, too."

"I know, I know," he soothed, running his hands down her arms in a comforting gesture. "I'm sorry, angel, I didn't think before I spoke. This is going to be too hard for either of us to hide. That's why I think it's time I approached the Council and told them the truth."

She pressed back against him. "You know they won't take this well."

"I know, but we can't keep on pretending." He turned her back to him. "Maybe this is a good thing, coming out with the truth. It takes a burden off of both our shoulders. I can finally be honest with Obi Wan."

"How do you think he'll feel about us?" She knew he regarded his former Master as a father figure and close confidant; she also knew Obi Wan was a stickler for the rules.

"I don't know," he admitted with a heavy heart. "But Padmé, I no longer have time to try to put it nicely. With this baby, a lot of things have to change for us. I want to be there with you, and I don't want to hide what we shared. I want this baby to have my name, to know me. I love you, and I love him or her. That's the truth."

She managed a small smile and hugged him. "Anakin, I want to go with you tomorrow. I…I need to."

"Are you sure? This isn't going to be pretty," he warned her.

"I know, but I want to stand by you. You've always stood by me, and whenever I needed you, you were there. Tomorrow, you're going to need someone in your corner."