Chapter Twenty-Five

There was a disturbance in the Temple. Usually, the atmosphere here was calm and peaceful, but at the moment, there was an undercurrent of tension disrupting its usual tranquility.

I had stepped out of the Healer's Hall in order to contact my Padawan, but was immediately confronted with its altered state. Had there been an attack? Had the Sith returned?

"Anakin, where are you?" I hailed my Padawan on my private comm unit.

"Hold on, Master," came the immediate reply, which caught me off guard. Anakin could be slightly rebellious at times, but he never forgot his manners, and he never made me wait. Unless there was an emergency.

"Anakin?" I repeated, opening the communication to receive, able to make out his voice as well as two others speaking. The others were female. I couldn't make out the conversation, but it sounded as if they were arguing. All three of them.

"Yes, Master?" my Padawan finally responded, sounding out of breath, either from exertion or exasperation. Possibly a combination of both, I decided.

"What's going on?"

"Senator Amidala is in the building."

My grip on my communicator tightened, and my pulse rate increased dramatically. Why was I suddenly so nervous? Padme and I had already been together intimately, although she obviously didn't remember it. Perhaps that's what was bothering me. What if she didn't remember? What if I had to carry around this desire for her my entire life, never able to fulfill it again? At the moment, with the memory of her body against me so fresh in my mind, the possibility of her not recovering was unfathomable.

"Is that what the disturbance is?" I asked, after finding my voice.

"Her aid, Dorme brought her here at my suggestion," Anakin explained, "and...well, Master, I'm afraid she's not very pleased about it."

Just then, I heard Padme's voice, or what I thought was her voice, although I didn't recall it ever being so shrill before.

"Let me go! I don't want to be here! You can't force me to stay! I don't trust them! Don't you understand? Why don't you believe me?"

"Master, what do you want me to do?"

I felt I may regret this decision later, but to me, Padme's anger was a cry for help, and I was the only one who understood her suffering. I had to go to her.

"Try to keep her calm, but do what you must to keep her here, Anakin. I'm coming."

I rushed through the Temple, only increasing the current tension already building because of Padme's outburst. The initiates I passed, as well as a few Masters, had probably never seen a Jedi run through the Temple before. It was unheard of, but I was in a hurry. There were lives at stake, and one of them was mine.

Anakin was doing his best to maintain control of the volatile situation when I arrived in the foyer, descending the grand stairway three steps at a time. I observed him using the negotiation techniques he had learned during his training, and my chest swelled a little with pride. He was handling things well. Padme didn't seem all that upset any more.

That is, until she twisted around and saw me approaching.

"You! You stay away from me!" Her voice was strained as if she was hoarse, and instead of retreating as I probably should have, I couldn't help but rush to her and hold her, thinking that perhaps my touch would spark her memory. Instead, she fought it, shoving violently against me and then turning her anger upon her assistant.

"You did this to me! You set me up! You knew how I feel about the Jedi - about him, and you bring me here? What kind of bodyguard are you? Don't you understand the Jedi are trying to destroy me?"

"No, Mi'Lady, that isn't true!" Dorme argued. "They want to help you! Do you remember what you said to me in the apartment? You said you trusted me!"

"Apparently, I can't trust anyone any more." Her voice had lowered until it was unrecognizable, her eyes smoldering as she glared at her handmaiden.

I quickly turned my attention to my Padawan, using my facial expressions to communicate with him. We couldn't let her leave the Temple, but I wasn't sure how to get her to Bant without injuring her in the process.

"Either allow me to leave or I'm calling my private security, and I definitely will be speaking to the Chancellor about this outrageous disregard for my personal rights and my position."

I could tell my Padawan had come to a decision - that he was about to take Padme into custody. I was about to join him when a flash of green passed by us both with unbelievable speed, and a miniature, although rather formidable Jedi brought Padme to her knees with a simple touch of his claw to her shoulder. Following his maneuver, she immediately collapsed upon the floor, Dorme immediately rushing to her side.

"What did you do?" the bodyguard demanded, and rightly so. Padme wasn't moving a muscle.

"She's all right, just sleeping." Anakin attempted to explain. "It's a neuromuscular technique used to calm down an overly-panicked individual."

And something I should've thought of, I admitted silently to myself gazing down at the Jedi Master who had acted when I had not.

"Take the Senator to the Healer, you should."

"Yes, Master Yoda," I accepted his suggestion with the utmost respect, bowing low, and then bending even further to lift Padme from the floor.

"When treated she has been, report to the Council you and your Padawan will."

"Of course," I assured him before carrying my burden up the flight of stairs, Anakin and her handmaiden close behind me.

Bant had followed me to the top of the stairs and had viewed the entire episode, adding even more guilt to my demeanor.

"You saw that?" I asked her as we walked back to the Healer's area together.

"I saw a man extremely concerned with the well-being of the woman he loves. Nothing more."

"I should've..." I tried to admit, but the words wouldn't come out.

"You didn't wish to harm her." We stopped at the entrance to the Hall, where Bant turned to me, her large eyes misting with unshed tears. "Obi, once we help her recover, she will be all right. Everything will be all right."

I wanted to believe her, but I didn't think it was going to be that easy.

"It won't be easy," Bant replied as if she'd read my thoughts, and we strolled through the tall, double doors, heading toward her office, "but I trust she is strong. I'm sure she'll come through. Place her there."

I followed her directions and gently lay Padme onto the lounge I had been reclining on just an hour ago. I gazed at her beauty, removing the errant curls of hair from her face, and adjusted her gown, which had shifted along the way. When I looked back up at Bant, she was smiling down at me, but then looked at the three of us with a much more serious countenance.

"What I need to do, I need to do alone," she informed us with authority. "Your presence, Obi, obviously upsets her. I suspect whoever tampered with her mind is using you as annoyance, to trigger a negative response she cannot control. Please leave the room, all of you. I will contact you once I've completed my examination."

It was difficult to leave her, but Padme couldn't be in better hands. I said the same thing to her handmaiden as I escorted her and my Padawan from the room.

Now, all we could do was wait.