Chapter Forty

The current outside temperature was –17C. Quite sultry for a summer's day on Ilum. Despite that fact, they would still need to find their destination quickly. Already Padmé could feel the cold seeping through her fur-lined cloak and beginning to bite at her ears beneath the thermal wrap and hood.

Speed might be a problem however, as Obi-Wan seemed quite distracted by the several things; one in particular being the snow. He had stopped walking already and bent over to apparently test its texture in his hand. Padmé observed him quietly, a rather ornery idea beginning to form in her mind.

Cold was something he was not accustomed to. Another thing to add to his endless list of discoveries in this strange galaxy which had become his home.

It had taken a few days to adjust to the humidity of Naboo, but this – this frozen tundra, crisp and white as far as he could see was astounding. As was the breath escaping the wrap about his face which created little puffs of smoke in the air, and for some reason, his toes were beginning to grow numb.

It was the texture of the ground, however, which Obi-Wan found most intriguing, and he couldn't resist taking a moment to check its consistency between his gloved fingers.

Some of it had turned to liquid once it came in contact with the friction of his actions, but most of the powdery stuff was swept away in the bitter cold winds which blew across the plain.

Obi-Wan was tempted to remove his glove to experience what the white stuff felt like to his bare skin, but he didn't have to.

Without much warning, the side of his face not entirely protected by the thermal wrap was splattered with a projectile of cold and wet, which stung his skin like the tiny prickles from the desert koutai plant.

Obi-Wan brushed the remnants of ice from his face before spinning round to find Padmé apparently having the time of her life. She immediately erupted into a fit of giggles.

"I'm so glad I had the nerve to do that," she said, removing her wrap, once she'd caught her breath. "You should've seen your face!"

She had done that on purpose? For what reason? Other than obviously for her own personal enjoyment. He didn't understand the what for, but wasn't exactly opposed to the idea of sharing an enjoyable moment with the woman he loved.

Obi-Wan pulled his thermal aside as well, revealing a playful smirk which lifted the corner mouth; a warning Padmé was about to get what was coming to her. He leaned sideways to scoop up another handful of ice and snow and began manipulating it into a sphere.

"You wouldn't," she uttered, backing away a few steps.

"Now who's the one to look surprised?" he teased her. He had no intention of throwing it at her, but perhaps stuffing a bit of the ice inside her cloak would teach her a lesson.

"Obi-Wan! Don't you dare!" she warned, just as he let out a loud whoop and leaped forward in pursuit.

Padmé backed away only a few steps, boldly standing her ground when he reached her, even when Obi-Wan stepped in close, the ball of snow he held tightly in his fist right next to her face.

Obi-Wan continued displaying a rather cocky grin while wrapping his free arm underneath Padmé's cloak and about her body, drawing her up tightly against him.

"I was going to drop this down your back," he joked, the allure of her lips drawing his attention. "But for some reason, I've completely changed my mind."

Padmé's delighted gaze convinced Obi-Wan to empty his hand and fill it with the gray fur outlining her beautiful face. He pulled gently upon the hood and drew her upward to his waiting mouth. She succumbed to the will of his lips and tongue quite readily, winding her own arms beneath Obi-Wan's heavy mantle.

It was the type of kiss that produced a large amount of heat, and the longer it lasted, the more Obi-Wan could feel his insides turn to molten steel; which slowly oozed its way through his body until it reached his toes. He wouldn't be at all surprised to discover a puddle had formed beneath their feet.

The kiss was intense and passionate, and he poured all of himself as well as his focus into it.

Which was why he didn't notice the thin crack which had formed in the frozen crust where they stood, nor could he stop either one of them from plummeting down the side of the crater he had thought they were a safe distance from.

During the fall, Obi-Wan had managed to hold onto Padmé, forcing their bodies to twist in order to take the blunt of the impact against his own back.

They landed heavily at the bottom, partially covered with the avalanche their fall had created.

Obi-Wan spat out pieces of ice which had gotten into his mouth, his immediate attention back on Padmé. "Are you hurt?"

"I don't think so," she told him as she lay sprawled on top of him, a rather wicked smile once more appearing on her face. "We should do this more often."

The woman had a strange sense of humor. It was part of her charm, as was the fact Obi-Wan had never met anyone like her before. "What? Fall down a cliff?" he asked.

"Everything happens for a reason," she announced, still smiling, and not even attempting to rise until Obi-Wan prompted her to. The chill was beginning to reach his backside.

They stood and Obi-Wan began to dust the snow off both of them as he continued the conversation. "I've heard that said before, but really? Everything?" he joked, only to be drawn around by the firm pressure of Padmé's hand upon his face.

Obi-Wan spun to look where Padmé obviously wished for him to and beheld some type of structure built into the side of the crater which abutted the mountainside. It was apparently a manufactured entrance with peaked towers and a wide opening surrounding a heavy door.

Intrigued, they both rushed toward it, discovering writing above the door, etched into the stone header.

"What does it say?" Obi-Wan asked.

Padmé stared at the figures for a while, her brows coming together in concentration. "I'm not sure," she answered finally. "This appears to be some ancient form of Basic, but its written in a type of code I can't make out."

Obi-Wan definitely couldn't decipher its meaning, but one thing he did know, and that was nothing was going to keep him from going inside.

"Shall we knock first?" he asked, continuing to support their previous mood.

"No need to bother," Padmé replied as she pushed open the door and bravely stepped into the darkness. "We're expected."