Tsum-Tsum T-shirt, by Disney

by Grant Gould (for

by master--burglar
by master--burglar
by Love and Rock Music. (TCW) The first half of "Destroy Malevolence," as Anakin and Padmé make their way towards each other.

The Anakin and Padmé Gallery

Desktop Calendar // March/April 2015




The Love of a Jedi
(Chapters 1-7)

by Scruffy-looking


Chapter 1

Out of the darkness, she awoke to pain...

Padmé slowly began to stir, but she could barely move a muscle, so great was her soreness. Sometime after first hitting the ground, everything faded to black, but now she was conscious again. With great effort, she attempted to move her head; pain pierced her skull, causing her to moan. Easy, she cautioned herself. Don't push it. Ignoring the thought, she tried to turn her head to the other side, only to be greeted with more pain.

There was the sound of approaching footsteps, growing louder and louder. They stopped, and she heard a voice, electronically-augmented:

"Are you all right?"

No. Then her situation suddenly crystallized in her mind. They were pursuing Dooku, when she had fallen from the gunship. She had been with Obi-Wan and-


The mere thought of his name sent a surge through her body; all awareness of her aches disappeared. She opened her eyes, and stared up into the dark orange sky of Geonosis. A clone trooper stood over her, masked beneath his white body armor, his arm outstretched. Farther off in the distance, she could hear the sounds of battle. She held out her arm.

"Yes," she answered with renewed strength. The clone trooper helped her to her feet. He gave her a quick appraisal, then said, "We'd better get back to the forward command center." She shook her head.

"No! no; gather what troops you can, we've got to get to that hangar," and save Ani. "Get a transport. Hurry!"

Reacting instinctively to the command in her voice, he responded, "Right away!" The clone trooper began running off; Padmé followed him, her legs awkwardly striding across the soft sand. He was running towards a bag of equipment which had fallen nearby. At the pile, he methodically searched the bag, then took out a battlefield comlink.

"This is Trooper TT12245 to Forward Operations Base. We are in pursuit of the Separatist Leader and need transport ASAP." A pause.

"Acknowledged, TT12245. This is Gunship C36 en route. Triangulating on your position. ETA five minutes."

"Roger. TT12245 out."   The clone trooper switched off the comlink, then turned to Padmé and said, "They'll be here soon. Until they arrive, I will watch over you." He raised his blaster rifle and methodically began to scan the area.

"Thank you," Padmé said. Gingerly she lowered herself to the ground and sat down on the soft sand. She watched in fascination as the clone trooper stood erect and motionless, his head scanning the horizon. With machinelike regularity, he turned his body every half-minute, surveying the area. She repressed a shudder; this was no ordinary soldier, but a clone, born and bred for fighting. Remembering her shock at what Obi-Wan had told her of the army that had rescued them from the arena, she tried to think of something to say. "Do you have a name?"

"My designation is Private TT12245, 3rd Company, 1st Clone Legion," he said crisply. There was no emotional subtext to his words that she could detect; no pride, no shame, nothing. Her mind raced with questions profound and trivial, but in the end she decided not to press the private any further. The clone trooper stopped his search in midmotion, and stared to the south. Padmé followed his gaze, and saw a tiny dot, rapidly approaching them. A minute later, the gunship arrived, hovering low over the ground. The clone trooper entered first, then helped her in.

In front of her, the pilot asked, "What is our destination?"

"We were pursuing Dooku; he was heading west..." She stared out the side, searching with binoculars. Focusing on a group of mountains, she saw two large holes excavated high up. "There it is, set course 215. Hurry!"

"Right away!" The pilot lifted off and headed west at full speed. She only hoped they would get there in time.

Padmé asked the pilot how much longer, and he told her another eight minutes. In the distance, the mountain steadily grew larger, the two hangars clearly visible now. She tried to relax, remembering Obi-Wan's words-Anakin and I can handle him-but found no comfort. As she prepared for battle, a soundless cry of agony filled her mind. Ani! She dropped to her knees, breathing heavily. Dazed, she looked around, trying to figure out what happened. Was he communicating with her? A deep dread filled her; she began thinking over and over, I'm here, Ani... There was no response. Tears began forming in her eyes.  Over and over again, she tried to reach out to him. Ani, please, hear me...

...Padmé! finally came the disembodied reply. She lowered her head in relief; he was still alive. Gathering herself, Padmé stood up, grabbed a blaster and waited as the gunship slowed, then landed on the platform. As she ran out, to her left a dark shape shot out of the adjacent hangar. She turned to fire on it, as did the other clone troopers, but only a few glancing shots hit it. Dooku's ship rapidly gained velocity and disappeared into the sky. He got away, she thought, but there was nothing they could do. Lowering her blaster, she turned around and entered the hangar. It was dark, but she could see three figures, the smaller one walking towards the other two. As her eyes focused, she saw Obi-Wan was slowly coming to his feet, clutching his left shoulder. Next to him was Anakin. She squinted, uncertain of what she was seeing. He was clutching his right arm, only something was wrong, it seemed shorter-

She gasped in horror, and immediately ran towards him, tears welling up in her eyes again. "Ani!" she cried, and as she approached him she flung her arms around him, almost knocking him over. Steadying him, she gave him a quick kiss, then buried her face in his neck, hugging him in a fierce embrace. Anakin slowly disentangled his remaining arm from under her, and hugged her in return.

"Padmé..." he said, in a weak, rasping voice.

"Shh, it's okay. It's okay," she whispered, looking up at him with a smile. She took a deep breath, and placed her head against his chest again, closing her eyes. All she wanted was to hold him forever, and take away his all his pain. But the sound of someone speaking behind her brought her back from her focus on Anakin. She turned her head fractionally, to see Yoda standing next to them, a calm look on his face. Besides him, Obi-Wan was watching speculatively, his breathing regular but loud in the silence of the hangar. The blood rushed to her face as she realized what she had done, and whom she had done it in front of. Calm, she thought harshly, be calm. She broke the embrace and pulled away, making sure he didn't topple over. Anakin straightened and stood erect. Facing Yoda and Obi-Wan, he nodded his head and said, "Thank you, Master Yoda. You saved our lives."

Yoda responded, "Come, some final business on Geonosis we must attend to." He limped towards the exit, followed by Obi-Wan, who stared one more time at Anakin and Padmé, but said nothing. Padmé and Anakin shared a final, affectionate glance, then followed them out of the hangar.

Chapter 2

The gunship lifted off from the platform and sped towards the command center. Padmé was tending to Anakin and Obi-Wan's wounds, using a field medical kit. Meanwhile, Yoda spoke into a comlink.

"What is the status of the battle, Commander?

"The battle is over, Master Yoda. Most of the droid armies have been destroyed; the rest have evacuated the planet. The native forces have dispersed, retreating to their underground shelters. We await your orders." Yoda pondered the question, then spoke again.

"Pursue them not. Their capacity to make war we must destroy, not them. Order your forces to seek out and destroy all the droid foundries. Once they have accomplished this, our work here is done."

"Yes, sir. Force Command out." The commander hung up. To her left, Anakin struggled to his feet.

"Master Yoda, if we don't take control of the planet, they'll just rebuild and rearm. We have to stop them, we have to-" He lost his balance and stumbled. Padmé steadied him.

"Anakin, wait, don't get up," she said. Yoda turned towards him and shook his head.

"It is not the way of the Jedi to kill," the Jedi Master said. Anakin tried to object, but Padmé silenced him.

"No, Anakin, take it easy, take it easy," she said, gently pushing him down. Anakin sat back down against the side of the gunship. He closed his eyes and was still. Padmé was surprised at how quickly he fell asleep; surprise then turned to alarm as she wondered if he had gone into shock. "Ani? Are you okay?" She gently nudged him, a look of concern on her face, when Obi-Wan spoke.

"Don't worry; he's put himself in a healing trance." He was sitting on the opposite side of the gunship, behind Padmé. She turned to face him, unsure of what to say.

"Will he be okay?" She didn't even try to hide the concern in her voice. Obi-Wan gave his apprentice a lookover, then smiled.

"He'll be fine, physically. They'll probably put a temporary prosthetic on him, and when we get back to Coruscant, a more natural looking prosthetic limb. You won't even know the difference." He gazed at her as he said those words, observing.

"That's very good news. I don't want Anakin to suffer any more." She turned back to Anakin's still form, fighting the urge to stroke his forehead. She turned back towards Obi-Wan. "Are you all right?" Staring at his shoulder and thigh, he nodded.

"Yes, Senator, I'll recover. What happens after today, however, is the real question." He was not referring to his own health. A look of worry came over his face; after a long moment of silence, he stared out the doors to the landscape passing by beneath them. Despite the noise of the gunship's engines and the onrush of wind through the open cabin, there was an oppressive silence as no one spoke. Padmé sat down against the wall, alone with her thoughts.

The monotony of the flight caused her to doze off, but a gentle nudge by Master Yoda brought her back. 

"Senator Amidala, a few more things we must take care of before we leave. We will drop everyone off at the assembly area, where a shuttle will take you, Skywalker and Master Kenobi back to the fleet. There, receive medical care you will."

"Thank you, Master Yoda." She reached back and rubbed the scratches on her back; she was met with a sharp twinge and winced. Padmé stood up as the gunship landed on the field. She exited and took in her surroundings; all around her wounded soldiers were being loaded onto shuttles. Behind her, Obi-Wan got out and waited, and behind him a pair of medical droids placed the quiescent form of Anakin onto a repulsorlift stretcher and carried him away. Quickly she moved towards him.

She asked the droids, "Where are you taking him?"

"To the Medical Frigate Restoration," one of the droid responded. She nodded and backed away as the droids resumed taking him to a shuttle. Obi-Wan came up to her.

"Senator, we should get on board," he said. Padmé shook her head.

"No, there's something I need to take care of on the planet. Go with Anakin, I'll be with you shortly."

"As you wish, Senator." He bowed and turned to leave, following after Anakin.

Padmé searched around, looking for the person she needed. Then she saw him: he had four yellow dots on his chest, the insignia of a clone trooper commander. She approached him.

"Commander, I am Senator Amidala of the Republic. I require a transport."

The commander considered her words, then nodded. "Acknowledged, Senator Amidala. Please follow me." The commander turned and walked briskly towards the landing field. Padmé followed after him.

* * * * *

The transport flew over the bleak landscape. Padmé tried to remember where it was, but a planet was a much bigger place on the ground than from outer space. Then she realized that there was a better way. She went over and grabbed a comlink, adjusted the frequency, and activated it.

There was static, and no response. Padmé hailed them again. More static, then it cleared. She was greeted by a chorus of electronic beeps.

Padmé smiled. "R2, we're en route to the ship. Please transmit your coordinates." A series of numbers flowed across the comlink's screen. She handed it to the pilot, who adjusted his course.

* * * * *

It had taken some time, but the last of the fallen Jedi had been found. The remaining Jedi took their bodies to the plains beyond the Geonosian city, where their last rites would be performed. Unfortunately, there were no readily available materials to build pyres with on the rocky soil of Geonosis, so they improvised and wrapped the bodies in the ubiquitous and highly flammable packing material from the fleet stores.

The last of the bodies were put in place, and the ceremony began.

Standing alongside the handful of survivors from the arena, Yoda and Mace stared at the lines of funeral pyres-far too many pyres. Of the two hundred and twenty Jedi who had come to Geonosis, only twenty two survived. Ten members of the Jedi Council had perished. It was a catastrophic loss; not since the great Sith War nearly four thousand years ago had so many Jedi fallen in a single day.

The great Mace Windu, one of the most powerful Jedi Masters in the history of the Order, was almost overwhelmed by his grief. Master Yoda turned to him in sympathy. "Your duty, you did, as did the Jedi."

His voice was distant. "To save one Jedi-two Jedi-we lost two hundred."

"If we truly value what we stand for, they did not die in vain."

"Dying for the Order is not the issue. If only we had waited..." his voice trailed away. Yoda understood what was tearing at his old friend.

"...The clone army, saved them they might have." Mace nodded and turned to Yoda.

"What's done is done; we all must do the best we can, and then we must move on. We saved Obi-Wan and Anakin, and held out long enough for you to save us. We all did our duty." Clearly, however, it brought no comfort to him.

Yoda made a hum of agreement; he was no less disquieted by the day's events. Alone with their thoughts, they returned their attention to the somber scene before them.

The last of the pyres had died away. The Jedi began to return to the transport. Yoda activated his comlink.

"Yes, Master Yoda?"

"Report on your status."

"All commands have reported in. They have successfully destroyed all the droid-manufacturing foundries on the planet."

"Very good, Commander," Yoda said quietly.

"What are your orders?"

"All forces, return to your ships, and prepare to take off. Then return to Coruscant, we do."

"Yes, sir."

Yoda and Mace boarded the transport. It took off and headed into space.

Chapter 3

The Naboo Royal Yacht lifted off from the vent and blasted up towards the sky.

In space, Padmé flew her ship towards the vast Republic fleet assembled over Geonosis. She marveled at the multitudes of ships that orbited the planet; some of them were recognizable to her, transports and passenger liners that had been converted to military use, but many were completely unfamiliar. Where had they come from, she wondered, and who ordered them? When they got back to Coruscant, the Senate would have to investigate, trace the funds that were used-

Forget about that! I have to get back to Ani! With dismay, she saw various ships in the fleet begin to break orbit and jump into hyperspace. Did the Restoration leave without her? Frantically, she hailed the fleet; she had to be with him, talk with him about their feelings for each other, and where they would go from here. She wanted to talk with him now, not in a few weeks.

"Unidentified ship, this is Fleet Command. Identify yourself."

"This is Senator Amidala of Naboo," she said. "I need a flight path to the Medical Frigate Restoration."

"Standby... transmitting coordinates now. Fleet Command out."

The comlink switched off. Entering the coordinates in the navcomputer, Padmé watched as her ship turned and headed towards the fleet. Weaving its way through the multitude of ships, the Yacht locked onto a large, pill-shaped vessel and headed towards it. They pulled alongside, parallel to the Frigate, and entered the port landing bay.

* * * * *

Rushing past the droids, Padmé exited the Yacht as soon as the landing doors opened. A deck officer came up to meet her.

"Welcome aboard, Senator. We were worried about you, you weren't on that shuttle as we expected-"

She interrupted him. "Never mind that; I need to see a patient who was brought aboard. His name is Anakin Skywalker, where is he?"

The officer consulted his datapad. "Skywalker... Skywalker is in Ward C, Room 12. It's on Deck 4, Section D. Follow the signs, you can't miss it."

"Thank you," she said, and ran off. Watching her depart, the deck officer called after her.

"Senator! You appear to be injured, you should be examined-"

She ignored him, the impulses of her heart sending her forward.

* * * * *

As the anesthetics wore off, Anakin awoke to anger.

He was lying on his bed in a hospital ward, a tangle of tubes and piping hooked up to him. He looked down with disgust at the prosthetic limb that had just been attached to the stub of his right arm. Nothing covered the harsh metallic struts, the tangle of cables and wiring. With effort, he tried to flex his hand; his golden metal fingers spasmed erratically, out of control. Cursing, he threw his head back against the bed and closed his eyes. He was disfigured... incomplete... less than a man. Anger filled him as his mind drifted back to the duel with Dooku. Anakin remembered the shock and pain he felt as Dooku's saber struck home; he remembered his fear of dying... of never seeing her again. He had blacked out soon after, and when he later awoke, Padmé was the first thing on her mind. In his pain, he had reached out to her, hoping she was still alive. When he felt the gentle response of her mind, his fear abated.  A surge of joy almost blotted out his excruciating pain when she appeared and ran to him, embracing him. At the time, he was almost happy.

Now, however, he felt shame: shame at his weakness, his inability to stop Dooku, his reduced state. Would she even take him back again, when she saw him as he was now, no longer fully human? Because of Dooku not only had he lost his arm; because of him he might lose his love. You will pay for this Dooku, I swear it! I will kill you myself, with my bare hands... Anakin did not even try to stop the hatred flowing through him; he nurtured it, gained strength from it, as he did on Tatooine-

He stopped. Somewhere, he felt a presence, a gentle presence, full of warmth and feeling. A surge of anticipation took him; the presence came nearer, gained definition, until finally-

The door to his room opened, and Padmé walked in. She was still wearing her white utility uniform, torn and dirty from battle.

"Ani," she whispered.

He choked up. "Padmé..."

She ran to his bed, bent over and kissed him passionately, desperately. He tried to reach up and embrace him, but could not. Fighting back tears, he pulled away from her.

"You're all right," she said, her tears now flowing freely. Padmé ran her fingers through his hair.

"I don't know," he said. "Yes, I'm alive, but I'm... deficient." He looked away.

Looking down at him, she understood. "Oh, Ani, it's just a prosthetic limb, it's nothing to be ashamed about!"

Anger welled up within him. Just a prosthetic? he fumed. He tried to deflect his rage; it was not her fault, after all. She couldn't know of the unspoken Jedi bias towards life and the body, and thus against machinery and mechanical things. For the rest of his life as a Jedi, he knew, his brethren would look at him askew. He could hear the whispers already: now he is less than whole. Again he tried to dampen his fury; now that she was with him again, his rage rapidly receded.

She looked at him tenderly, then spoke again. "I know you don't like it. But this is just temporary, right? I know they can make better artificial limbs than this..." her voice trailed away as she saw his pained reaction. "Oh, Ani, I didn't mean that; actually, there's nothing wrong with it!"

He took a deep breath. "Don't worry. When we get back to Coruscant, I will get a new limb, better than this one. I just wish... I could be whole again."

"What about cloned replacement limbs?" she asked.

He shook his head. "You can get them, but they take two to four years to grow, and in the meantime, you cannot attach a prosthetic to the wound. Actually, because mine is a lightsaber injury, they would have to replace the entire arm, not just my forelimb. To grow a complete arm would take five years, maybe six. I would still need to use a prosthetic in the meantime anyway, so..." his voice trailed away.

They were both silent. Watching over him, she then bent over and took his left hand, pulling it to her chest. Finally, she said, "Ani, regardless of what happened to you physically, I still love you-all of you. I always will."

Relief filled his heart; Anakin allowed her loving words to cover him like a warm blanket. "And I love you, Padmé." They gazed into each other's eyes, their thoughts so fixated on each other they ignored the sound of the door opening.

"The captain told me you had finally come aboard, my Lady," the voice said. "I thought you might be here."

Padmé dropped Anakin's left arm and spun around. Obi-Wan was staring at them. Flustered, she stood erect and said, "Master Kenobi, it is good to see you again."

"It is good to see you as well. We were wondering where you had gone off to."

She smiled. "I went back to get my ship. I didn't want to leave 3PO and R2 behind."

Obi-Wan smiled as well. "Of course. If you don't mind, I would like to have a word with Anakin."

Nodding, she began to leave. "I understand. Good-bye, Anakin."

"Good-bye, Padmé." She left the room.

Chapter 4

Obi-Wan was concerned. One did not have to be a Jedi to see the depth of feelings between Anakin and Senator Amidala. What he did not know was whether they could control it, whether they both understood the limits their relationship must have. He wondered; did Anakin realize that they could have a relationship, just not an exclusive one? The Jedi were not insensitive to the realities of life, the truths of existence. But this privilege in turn came with great responsibility, and he was certain that Anakin, as yet, was not ready to handle it. Balance was one of the things his apprentice had the most difficulty in understanding, and applying in his life. Without it, he would never be able to form a stable relationship, with anyone.

He knew he had to confront Anakin eventually about this issue regarding his relationship with Amidala, but he decided not to push it at this delicate time. Instead, he would ask him about another, less charged, issue regarding his recent actions. "Anakin, why did you go to Tatooine? You were told to remain on Naboo and protect the Senator." Knowing the probable reason, he was interested in his padawan's response.

Anakin sighed; he no longer wanted to hide this from his Master, it had been eating away at him. "I went to help my mother. I felt her, she was in terrible pain, suffering; they were killing her!"

Obi-Wan frowned. Killing her... "Is she all right?"

Anakin twitched. His voice was heavy. "No, Master. She is dead."

He felt a wave of grief and pain coming from his apprentice. His own heart sank. "Oh, Anakin, I'm so sorry," he said. Obi-Wan walked over to the bed and put his arm on his shoulder.

"Senator Amidala came with me; she said that if she were to accompany me, I would still be carrying out my mission."   His voice was raspy.

Obi-Wan felt a waft of strange emotions coming from his apprentice: anxiety, evasion, a deeply repressed sense of anger, rage...guilt? Something was terribly wrong...

"Anakin, what happened?"

Shivering, he said, "I went into the desert to rescue her. I found her, in a Tusken camp, I found her, managed to free her, but I was too late; she died. Then I... I... I killed them..." He closed his eyes.

Obi-Wan feared the worst; he knew his apprentice's temper, his volatility, his deep emotions and his inability to control them. Given what he told him, and his reaction... "You killed them," Obi-Wan said gravely, "and not just those responsible for killing your mother."

Anakin was in tears now. "No, Master. I killed them all... every one of them... the women... children..." He broke down, unable to continue.

Obi-Wan sat down and covered his face with his hands. The magnitude of his crime...

"I'm sorry, Master! I'm so sorry! I couldn't control my anger, I couldn't control myself." Obi-Wan looked up. Anakin's eyes were pleading; he looked no different than when Obi-Wan first met him as a little boy.

Obi-Wan carefully considered his words. "Anakin, I understand your pain," he said, his voice firm but controlled. "I understand your anger. But you must be completely open and honest with me about this. Do you understand?" He nodded.

Anakin's answer to this next question would decide everything. "Anakin, you allowed your anger and hatred to fuel your actions, correct?" He nodded again. "How did you feel, after it was all over? Really feel?"

Anakin paused, then answered slowly, "I felt... powerful, Master. I felt full of life, full of the Force." He hesitated, then finally spoke the truth he had hidden deep within himself. "I... I enjoyed those feelings, Master."

Just as I feared. For a transgression this serious, there was a prescribed course of action; he had to inform Anakin of it, and start the process immediately. Getting up, he said, "Thank you for your honesty, Anakin. What will happen now is this: I will contact Master Yoda and speak to him of this matter. When we return to Coruscant, the Jedi Council-" what's left of them "-will hold an inquiry regarding this. They will ask you what I just did. and perhaps other questions as well. Answer them honestly, and do exactly as they say."

Anakin nodded, his demeanor extremely humble. "Yes, Master. I understand completely, Master."

"Good. Now get some rest." Obi-Wan turned and left. Suddenly, Anakin's relationship with Amidala seemed the least of his problems.

Anakin exhaled. It was done. He would probably be expelled from the Jedi Order, but he felt relieved at the burden that had finally been lifted from him. A great twinge of regret filled his heart; there was still so much to learn, so much he wanted to do to serve the Jedi Order, who had taken him in and made him a Jedi. Now, it was likely all over. He turned off the lights and closed his eyes, trying to forget what had just happened.

Later in the night, a thought, unexpected and seductive, entered his mind: Now you can be with Padmé...

Opening his eyes, he pondered this for a long while. Slowly, he sat up in his bed, considering. Perhaps this is not such a bad thing...

* * * * *

As she walked down the corridor, Padmé stopped; she was not feeling well. A wave of dizziness hit her. She tried to steady herself, but the disorientation became too great. She collapsed to the floor, the world fading away into blackness. Ani! Ani! Her mind cried out, and just as the darkness overtook her, she heard his reply: Padmé! Relief filled her heart, even as she was fading. He is always watching over me, she thought contentedly. As long as you are near, my love, I know I will be safe. At ease, she gave herself to the void.

Chapter 5

Anakin stood over her bed, heart pumping rapidly. Padmé lay on the bed, unconscious, hooked up to a gaggle of tubes, with several medical droids tending to her. Behind him, the door opened and Obi-Wan entered the room, walking up to Anakin. He barely noticed.

"Anakin, what happened?"

He was babbling. "Infection... complications... something they missed..."

Obi-Wan grabbed him and turned him around. "Anakin! Focus! What happened to the Senator?"

His words finally shook Anakin out of his daze. Breathing deeply, he started over. "It's her scratches; there was some unknown organometallic compound on that nexu's claws. Probably came from the arena soil. It triggered a delayed toxic shock, causing her to collapse. They found her in the corridors and brought her here. We were lucky; if they had come even a few minutes later..." his voice trailed away, eyes moistening.

Obi-Wan breathed a sigh of relief. "It's a good thing they found her in time."

Anakin's voice was bitter. "It was I who found her," he said with an edge to his voice. "I sensed her distress, and called for the medical staff."

Obi-Wan bit his lip. "Oh. Then, good job, Anakin." He did not reply.

Obi-Wan sensed his anger, his fear, his love. He knew he had to say something, but he feared it was exactly the wrong time to do so. He had pushed Anakin once when her life was in danger; he didn't want to do it again. Only the Senator can talk any sense into him now, he thought worriedly. I definitely have to talk to her, very soon. "It looks like everything is under control here. Let me know when her condition improves."

"Yes, Master," he said, never turning his gaze from her. Obi-Wan shook his head, then left the ward.

I almost lost her again, he thought over and over.

After four days of intensive care, her condition had finally stabilized; the droids had moved on to other patients, allowing him to be with her again, alone. Beneath him, Padmé was now sleeping peacefully. He took his left hand and brushed away some hair that had fallen across her face. She was so beautiful, her features so idyllic; a stark contrast to the emotional storm within him.

Why do they keep trying to kill her?  He had no answer to that, but from the moment he had met her, people were trying to harm her. Anakin's heart skipped a beat at the distant memory of Padmé as Queen fighting her way through the hangar. He remembered saving her in her bedroom, protecting her from the Geonosians, deflecting shots from battle droids. Over and over a list of her enemies cycled through his mind, a deep hatred rising with the name of each one: Viceroy Gunray... Jango Fett... Count Dooku-you'll pay for this, Dooku!

Finally, the hatred washed over him and abated. Thoughts of love now slowly welled up in his heart. Happier memories: dinner with her family, their first kiss, the picnic on the meadow, riding together. Even in his darker ones she was there, a source of light. When she told him she loved him, his life had finally become complete. All the pain Anakin had felt in his life, from the moment he left his mother to his tragic reunion with her, all of it had disappeared, replaced with the purest joy he had ever known. The thought of losing that joy was unbearable; he would never allow it.

Taking her hand in his, careful not to press his abominable metal fingers on her precious skin, he whispered to her the words he had been practicing constantly for the past two days. "My dearest Padmé, I love you with all of my heart and soul. I ask you for your hand in marriage, for your blessing, to be your husband now and forever." Nothing would stop him from doing this; if he had to leave everything else behind to be with her, he would do so without a second thought.

She began to stir; quickly he lowered her arm. Padmé's eyelids fluttered and then opened. Gazing upon him, she smiled.

"I wasn't afraid. I knew you would be there for me."

"You are never far from my thoughts, and my heart."

Padmé began to get up, then grimaced. He tried to restrain her. "Easy, easy; try to relax."

"What happened to me?"

"You suffered some complications from your scratches. It's all right now, everything will be okay." He began to caress her forehead.

She closed her eyes, enjoying the pleasure of his touch. After a while, she spoke. "How much longer before we arrive at Coruscant?"

"About ten days. Tomorrow we stop at Tynna to refuel." He paused. "Padmé, we need to talk."

She opened her eyes. "I'm listening."

He paused again, suddenly very nervous. Then his resolve strengthened; he dropped to one knee by her bedside, and took one of her hands in his own. "My dearest Padmé, I wish to ask something of you."

Padmé's eyes widened; she knew what that something was. "Wait, listen to me, we have to think about this carefully-" He cut her off.

"I have thought about this; I almost lost you again, and I can't bear being apart from you anymore." A look of terror filled his face. "I want us to be one, for the rest of our lives. Padmé, I want to-"

"No! Anakin, not here, not yet!" She strained and got up in her bed, grabbing at his arms.  She had to regain control of the situation. Her mind raced, then a solution came to her. "Okay, listen to me, this is what we'll do. Go tell Obi-Wan I wish to return to Naboo, to recuperate further. You still are under orders to protect me, right?" He nodded. "Good. Tomorrow, when the fleet drops out of hyperspace and arrives at Tynna, we'll leave on my ship and go to Naboo. That will give us five or six days to discuss things."

He considered her words, and nodded. "I will tell Obi-Wan of your suggestions. Take care, my love." He backed away from her bed, then turned and left.

Padmé lay back on her bed and sighed. She had bought them a little time, before Anakin could make another mistake, but they could no longer evade the issue: they had to come to a decision, and soon. What are we going to do?  She had come that close to giving in and saying yes to his proposal, so desperately did she want what he did.  Padmé shook her head sadly; her first instincts back in the fireplace room were still right.  No matter how many ways she tried to reason around it, to find an alternative, if she married Anakin, she would destroy his life as a Jedi; two things cannot share the same space. And if Anakin left the Order for her, it would lead to his certain destruction; only the Order could channel his powers to good.

It was turning out that their old layers were not gone, after all; they merely had to survive the battle on Geonosis for their old selves to regenerate, seeking to keep them apart once more. The Jedi Code was a shell to her, impervious, resisting penetration. Could one crack a shell without breaking the egg? How could she even crack it? A Senator had many powers, but no Senator had the power, or the right, to do that to the Jedi; their Code was a living thing, tested by thousands of years of experience. Who was she to try and flout it?  It is settled then, she thought with finality. There would be no happy ending for them, after all.  The dream is now over... no!  She couldn't give him up, she just couldn't!  Her hands began to tremble; she felt ill. Summoning all her strength and will, Padmé attempted to hold her shattering being together, and barely succeeded. Rational thought slowly became possible again.

All right, there is no point in attempting the impossible. I cannot marry Anakin, I now accept that. But can I still love him?  She pondered a single fact: Jedi were not called to be celibate. It was a little-known fact, conspicuously absent from most of the public information the Jedi put out to educate the populace about their mysterious Order. Intellectually, she could understand such a compromise; biology was biology, and for species like humans that did not follow mating seasons, a call to celibacy, while ideal, was not always practical. That she knew this at all was only thanks to certain uncouth Senators, who enjoyed twisting their difficult compromise with reality into jokes about "Jedi orgies", where weak-minded individuals were seduced by their Force powers... she refused to dignify their crudities by thinking of them any further.

Still, if she couldn't be Anakin's wife, could she be... his paramour? His lover? Would that be acceptable to the Jedi, and to Anakin? She swallowed hard; nowadays in the Senate it seemed that almost every third Senator had any number of mistresses and gigolos, sometimes even as retainers. Padmé had met a variety of them at different government receptions; almost to a man, woman or whatnot, they were as unsavory as their calling. For her to bring Anakin or herself down to this level... she blanched; it made her skin crawl. But she had to admit, it was a solution to their problem. This is the choice before you, Padmé Naberrie Amidala. She closed her eyes; a whole new set of visions of her future now came to mind. Secret rendezvous in hidden places... encrypted messages, passionate and brief... disguises... unregistered ships... always looking over their shoulders, never at ease, mistrustful of everyone else... Yes, it would be a secretive life, a difficult life. And if they were ever discovered, there would be hard questions, whispers and finger-pointing... why should I care what other people think? She would carve out a measure of happiness with her love, the rest of the galaxy be damned. She didn't like the idea of hiding it, but she liked the idea of being without Anakin far less.

She thought of Obi-Wan, and his likely reaction.  He knows how I feel. There could be no doubt about that. If this was going to work... she did not like what she would have to do, and say to him. But all that mattered to her was being with Anakin; for that, she would do anything. Once, I hid myself as Padmé to protect Amidala, she thought with a resolute determination. Now, I must hide myself as Amidala to protect Padmé. She closed her eyes and went to sleep, gathering strength for the confrontation to come.

Chapter 6

One by one, the Republic fleet came out of hyperspace over Tynna. In an orderly fashion the ships lined up in front of the fueling stations.

Obi-Wan was accompanying Anakin to the Senator's quarters. He did not like the suggestion Anakin had brought to him, at all, but unless he could convince the Senator otherwise there was little he could do: Do not antagonize him Obi-Wan; bring him back to us we must, not push him to the dark side. The instructions from Yoda left him very little leeway. I need your help, Senator. He hoped he would get it.

Pressing the buzzer, the door opened. They entered her quarters, and the Senator stood up, still appearing haggard and weak, dressed in simple traveling robes. They bowed before her.

"Is there a problem, Master Kenobi?"

Obi-Wan started. "Senator, are you sure of this course of action? We will be arriving at Coruscant in about nine days. Perhaps you should remain aboard, and recuperate here."

Amidala shook her head. "I'm sorry, Master Kenobi. It's not just a question of recuperation, although I could certainly use the rest. I also need to return to Naboo, to consult with Queen Jamilla about what our position should be regarding this new war we're now in. As you know, our situation has changed greatly since we first met." She still wondered how in the galaxy the debate in the Senate over the Military Creation Act had ended so quickly, to say nothing of where the army itself had come from.

Obi-Wan could not deny her arguments. In any case, the Jedi were bound to obey the dictates of the Senate, and accede to its members. Usually. "Of course, Senator. Your ship is ready, you may leave whenever you wish."

That was too easy. Bowing, she said, "Thank you, Master Kenobi." She was about to dismiss him, but he spoke again.

"I regret to say, however, that Anakin will not be able to accompany you to Naboo."

No! "Why not?"

Obi-Wan hesitated, but this was not a secret to her. "Anakin must return to Coruscant, to face an inquiry regarding his actions on Tatooine."

She nodded. "I see; I do not wish to interfere with the affairs of the Jedi. However, I do need a pilot for my ship, and more importantly, I still require the protection of the Jedi. Unless you can assure me the danger is past?"

He couldn't; with the onset of war, the danger was likely just beginning, for all of them. "No, I can't assure you of that. But Anakin also requires time to recuperate; he is scheduled to receive a permanent prosthetic, and requires more therapy before he can use it. I do not think he can carry out his duties at the present time."

Anakin was agitated; he turned to face him. "Master, I am ready! I've been practicing, I'm becoming more proficient with my arm, I can do it-"

"Anakin," she interrupted him. He quieted down. Here goes nothing. She turned and faced Obi-Wan. "Master Kenobi, I wish for Anakin to accompany me to Naboo; I am confident in his ability to carry out his duties. Moreover, there are certain things between us that we need to address and settle." Amidala paused; her _expression was perfectly calm. "I'm sure you are aware of these things; I promise, by the time we return to Coruscant, all of the outstanding issues between Anakin and myself will be resolved to everyone's satisfaction. Especially the Jedi's." She stopped speaking, her arms folded in front of her, continuing to gaze at him.

Obi-Wan considered her words carefully. Taken at face value... Perhaps she is aware of the problem she has helped create, and wishes to solve it once and for all? He took in her demeanor, detecting no falsehood from her. Isn't this what you wanted? It was, but... now his decision depended on whether he trusted the Senator was speaking the truth. Weighing what he knew of Amidala, and Anakin, he had to admit that she was by far the more emotionally mature and level-headed of the two; certainly she was the key to any solution to this problem. And even if, perchance, she had feelings for Anakin, as a Senator she had to be knowledgeable about the ways of the Jedi, about why they could not form intimate relationships with others. Surely she would not let her feelings override her duty, and his.

However, he could not forget the images of Padmé and Anakin gazing at each other in his room, or of the Senator rushing in to hug him in that hangar. I'd be more concerned about her doing something, than him, the words echoed in his mind. Obi-Wan wished he had the opportunity to talk more with his apprentice, and the Senator for that matter, about what had happened between them. But her mind was insistent on leaving with Anakin; he had to make a decision right now.

I know she loves him too, I saw it myself. That was a major reason for doubting her intentions; maybe she wanted some intimate time alone with him! But I know that Anakin will listen to her; I sense that from him, he would obey her every wish. Glumly, Obi-Wan also suspected that if pushed, Anakin would choose the Senator over the Order. On Geonosis, only by invoking her name could he get him to focus on the job at hand. The more he stepped between him and her, the more he risked pushing him away from the Jedi, and he couldn't allow that to happen. If the Council decided that Anakin could no longer be a Jedi because of his actions on Tatooine, so be it. But if there was a chance that his attachment to Amidala could be ended, without the risk of forcing him out of the Order, in all good conscience he had to take it. I will have to trust that she will do the right thing, and that she can get through to Anakin, when I cannot.

He looked at his apprentice.  Anakin seemed to be deflated; perhaps he understood the truth as well. All right, Senator; I will trust your judgment. "Very well, Senator. Before you leave, I must speak with Master Yoda and get his approval. Thank you for your time." With a final bow, Anakin and Obi-Wan left.

As the doors closed behind them, Amidala disappeared; a smile came to Padmé's face.

* * * * *

Anakin waited outside the communications room for Obi-Wan to finish his talk with Master Yoda and Master Windu, who were aboard the command ship. He tried to keep his mind at ease; although Obi-Wan had acceded, one disapproving word from either Yoda or Windu, and it would be all over. Thinking over Padmé's words, he had to admit he didn't like the sound of it. Has she actually changed her mind? He shuddered at the thought, but then realized if she really felt that way, she never would have asked him to go with her to Naboo in the first place. He stopped thinking about these things as Obi-Wan emerged from the room.

"Master Yoda has given his approval." Obi-Wan was still surprised by his answer; he certainly seemed calm about the situation. Then again, almost nothing fazes Master Yoda. He only hoped in this case his Master was correct.

Anakin was careful not to get too excited. "What of Master Windu?"

Obi-Wan chuckled. "Actually, Master Windu is not with us; he left for Kamino before we departed Geonosis."

"For what purpose?"

Now, Obi-Wan sighed. "To negotiate a new order for more clone troopers. If we are really in a war, we will need far more than a million soldiers."

They turned and walked back to their quarters. "Did Master Yoda tell you anything else," Anakin asked.

"Some war-related news, mostly. The separatists have launched an offensive in the Tion Cluster. Sullust is the latest system to have withdrawn from the Republic. And the Senator from Alderaan has resigned and volunteered to help lead the Republic's armies. He's supposedly a student of military history; he should be very helpful to us."


"Oh, yes, you were recuperating at the time.  By order of the Supreme Chancellor the Jedi are going to take command of the Republic's armies and navies. Many of us will become leaders of companies, and commanders of starships."

"What of you, Master?"

"I don't know, but chances are I will be leading soldiers." He grinned at him. "You know how much I hate flying."

Anakin smiled at the remark; Obi-Wan was a very good pilot, for someone who did not like to fly. "And what of me, Master? Where will I serve?"

Obi-Wan's smile disappeared. "If I were you, I would concentrate on your upcoming hearing, young one."

"Oh. Yes, Master. Sorry, Master."

"It's okay. Come, Senator Amidala will be leaving soon."

"Yes, Master."

* * * * *

In the hangar bay, various technicians and droids were finishing the final prechecks for Amidala's Yacht. 3PO and R2 boarded the ship as Anakin and Obi-Wan entered the hangar. Standing next to the ship, Senator Amidala was waiting for them. She had a grave _expression on her face.

"I was wondering where you were. If you are not punctual next time, I will have to find someone else to protect me," she said, smiling inside.

"Sorry, my Lady," Anakin said, smiling inside as well.

Her voice was suddenly quiet. "It's time to go."

Anakin nodded. "Yes, my Lady."

Obi-Wan stepped forward. "Have a safe trip home, Senator. May your recovery be swift and complete. And may all your conversations... be fruitful." One last time, he fixed his gaze on her.

"Thank you, Master Kenobi. I will make sure that they are."

He bowed before her. "May the Force be with you, Senator. May the Force be with you, Anakin."

"May the Force be with you, Master." He bowed, then turned around and followed Amidala into the ship. The doors closed, and Obi-Wan stepped away as the engines came to life. As the ship lifted up and headed towards the exit, Obi-Wan could not help but feel a shiver of dread. The future was cloudy, and it was becoming harder to see all the time. She will do her duty, he thought... he hoped. Unable to fully cast the doubt out of his mind, he turned and left.

The sleek silvery Yacht emerged from the launch bay of the Medical Frigate and maneuvered clear. At the controls, Anakin plotted the course to Naboo, and engaged the hyperdrive. The ship jumped into lightspeed and disappeared.

Chapter 7

Anakin got up from the controls and made his way to the main passenger cabin. Passing 3PO along the way, he paused to speak with the droid. "3PO, you and R2, stay here in the cockpit. Don't disturb us; if there's an emergency, use the comm, okay?"

     "Of course, Master Anakin!" Besides him, R2 beeped in agreement. Anakin nodded and turned to leave. R2 queried his partner in a series of modulated tones.

     "No, I don't know what they're doing. Obviously it must be related to their work in the Senate and the Jedi Order. Perhaps they are planning the next moves to make in this dreadful conflict."

     A discordant cacophony signaled R2's skepticism.

     "Well, what else could they possibly be up to?" 3PO asked in exasperation. R2 beeped something in reply, but 3PO was already heading for the cockpit. "Come along, R2, we need to make sure everything is running properly." With a squeal of electronic resignation, R2 followed along.

     Anakin walked towards the entrance to the main chamber in breathless anticipation. His heart was pounding and his throat was dry; only by immense will did he not run. Reaching for the entrance buzzer, his left hand was trembling. He steadied himself as best as he could, then pressed the button. An eternal second followed, and the door opened.

Walking in, Padmé stood before him, silent and expectant. The door closed behind them and they raced towards one another, colliding in a ferocious embrace, mouths locking in a kiss more ardent than anything they had shared to date. Their arms tightened around each other, as fingers grasped at hidden surfaces.  A longing rose in Padmé, so strong it made her knees buckle.  Cursing, she knew they had to stop. With a concerted effort, Padmé went rigid, stopping her body's responses to his caresses; understanding, Anakin pulled back. Lips parted, arms released, and finally, reluctantly, their bodies separated. Still, their gazes remained locked on one another, both possessed by a stubborn passion that would not yield.

Padmé broke the heavy silence. "We need to talk."

He did not hesitate. "Yes. Padmé, will you-"

"Ani, don't!" She pulled away; Anakin fought the urge to follow after her.

She turned to face him, her own heart racing; she fought to keep her feelings from exploding, from throwing herself into his arms and giving in to their urges. She had to convince him of what she was thinking of. She had to.

"Ani, before I say anything else, I want you to know I love you. I meant it when I said it then, and I mean it even more when I say it now," she said tenderly. "Whatever obstacles arise, I will always love you. You alone are my heart's desire, and for no one else will I ever make this claim, as long as I live."

"But..." he said bitterly.

She swallowed. "But, I also meant it when I said I wouldn't let you give up your future for me. You're too important for the Jedi; they need you, the Republic needs you."

Crushed, he turned away. She loved him, but she would not join him in the ultimate expression of their love. All because she wanted to hold him to a duty he no longer cared for-at least, not at the cost of forsaking her. Tears welled up in him, his anguish now accompanied by a bewildering fury. Hers was an impossible desire, a forlorn hope, trying to tie two paths that could never be one. Why couldn't she see this?

Turning back to Padmé, he looked down, averting his gaze from her. Anakin could not even bear seeing her, for her beautiful face now brought him sorrow, where before it had yielded bliss.

"Ani..." He did not respond. A gentle hand rested on his right shoulder. He flinched, then relaxed; he took her right hand in his left. Finally he looked up.

"I can't do both." His words were terse, desperate.  "I can't be a Jedi and love you the way you deserve to be loved. I must choose between either you or the Jedi. If you force me to choose both, eventually I can only lose both." He breathed and met her glance head-on; now was the moment of decision. "Please, Padmé, allow me to leave the Order. Then it will all be possible," he said, his expression silently pleading.

She shook her head. "You won't have to give up the Jedi for me."

He gaped at her, starting to get angry.  "We can't have it both ways, didn't you hear me?"

"I heard you, my love. I think we can."


She now took a deep breath; it would not be the way she had dreamed of, but she didn't care. All that mattered was being with him, any way possible.

"You said it yourself... we could keep it a secret." Surprise filled his face. "No, listen to me; I don't need the trappings or ceremony of marriage to love you. All I need is your assurance of love, and I will be yours, forever." Her voice began to waver. "See? I can be the love of a Jedi, just not a wife. No official attachments to get you in trouble. You alone will possess me, but no one else will know about it." She forced a smile.

The more he thought of her proposal, the more he didn't like it. "No... I would never dishonor you so!"

"It would be no dishonor! Jedi cannot marry, but that doesn't mean they must be celibate! I know that for a fact!"

He was both stung and impressed by her knowledge of Jedi customs; this was not widely publicized. But Anakin could not abide by it. For the Jedi, personal love was viewed as a temptation, a danger, as something to flee from. It was a sensation to dismiss, a distraction from their higher calling. If a Jedi could not deal with their feelings, they were allowed to indulge them, but only briefly, to make them go away. Anakin, who knew the love of his mother and now of another woman, could never-would never-regard love in such a way.

He clenched his jaw. "I do not care for the Jedi's ideas about these things; I never have. I do not want love without attachment, without possession. That is compassion, not love! I love you, Padmé, I'm not compassionate about you!" He frowned, embarrassed by his tongue-tied speech. "Well, I am; but, I meant that; you know what I mean!" Sinking deeper into his own hole, he gritted his teeth and became silent.

Padmé did know, and she was sorely tempted to point out the inconsistency between what he was saying now with what he said to her on the refugee ship. But this was not a debating contest. "You will have all my love, my passion," she assured him. "I am undyingly attached to you; you alone will have sole possession of me."  She moved closer to him. "The only thing you would not have is the title of husband, which is to your advantage. Is this so bad?"

Said that way, it did sound good... He shook his head. No, it wouldn't be right. "It would be wonderful for me, but it is not what you deserve. And I cannot be happy if I do not give you that which you most deserve as a woman."

Padmé was so frustrated she wanted to scream. "Please, Anakin, it's the only way! Don't you see? I don't care if I have to hide it from the Senate from the Jedi, or even from my own family. Nothing else matters as much to me as being with you!"

Anakin was genuinely puzzled by her stubbornness. "Then why is it so important to you for me to remain a Jedi?"

"Because that's who you are! It is your great gift, and I know that you are destined to do great things for the Republic because of it!" He looked away; she continued. "Because I love you, Anakin, I am concerned for your whole life. Believe me, as wonderful as our love is, it is not enough; I know it won't be enough for you."

He didn't like the sound of that. "You are not my mentor, nor my mother. I know what I want, and what is best for me."

She regarded him evenly. "You're right, I'm neither of them. But it will be best for both of us, if I am also not your wife."

Anakin really didn't like the sound of that. He began to pace about the room, deep in thought. This is completely unlike her; she values honesty above all else. What could possibly have made her change her mind like this? He decided to chance probing her feelings. Turning to face her, he fixed his stare upon her, reaching out with the Force; she quickly lowered her eyes. Suddenly it was crystal clear. "Your thoughts betray you, my love," he said softly. "This is not what you really want to do."

Surprise and anger arose in her. "How can you be so sure?" she said coolly. "Are my thoughts not my own anymore?" Padmé tried to keep her frustrations from boiling over into fury.

"You don't have to be a Jedi to read your state of mind," he shot back.

Padmé began to say something, then stopped. After all, it was the truth. "In a perfect world, no, this is not what I would prefer. But it's the only way! Anakin, please be reasonable!"

Once more, Anakin considered. He wanted to marry her, and even now he still wanted to be a Jedi. But could he have both her and the Order? The answer, unfortunately, was no. "I remember someone telling me, not long ago," he began, his speech distant, aloof.  "‘We'd be living a lie, one we couldn't keep even if we wanted to. Could you live like that?' I think she was right."

She raised an eyebrow. "I also remember someone telling me something. ‘I wish I could just wish away my feelings, but I can't.' He knew what he was saying, too."

Stalemate. They had laid out their arguments, responded, and in the end neither had convinced the other. There was a long, heavy silence.

Anakin finally exhaled, trying to reduce the tension. He searched for the right words. "Maybe we should talk about this later. We have almost six days, after all." He smiled.

She nodded wearily, unable to think of anything else that would be productive right now. "All right, we'll talk later. Good night, Jedi Skywalker."

He straightened. "Good night, Senator Amidala." He strode towards the door and left the room.

* * * * *

As she watched him leave, Padmé's heart leapt after him; she still wanted what he wanted, perhaps even more so.  She gave in to her bitterness:  It's not fair!  My parents were able to, my sister was able to, why can't we?  You know why...

She sighed.  The dream and desire that may not have been as strong for her as with many other women she knew, but it was there nonetheless. Mentally, she reached back seven years ago, to the memories of Sola's wedding, and for a moment the bitterness retreated. She remembered with pained bemusement how everyone, including her own family, was stunned to see the Queen of Naboo dressed in the robes of a bridemaiden. She remembered how happy her sister was, as she stared into the eyes of Eelin Narran, her husband to be.  Padmé smiled and began to relax as the warm memories washed over her.   She remembered her mother, unable to hold back her tears of joy, and her father, with a powerful, conflicted look of love on his face.  Her own joy for her sister had been boundless, although admittedly at seventeen following in her footsteps had not been a priority, either for Amidala or Padmé.

Now... the bitterness returned.  Jedi cannot marry. Or as the Jedi Code said more elegantly, but no less uncompromisingly: As it is the duty of the members of the Jedi Order to devote their whole being to the service of righteous authority, a Jedi will forsake all ties, personal and public, to the service of the Order, and the will of the Force. No exceptions noted, end of discussion.  Visions of her in a bridegown, surrounded by flowers... destroyed. Of her mother and father, waiting expectantly... denied. Of Anakin, holding her hands before her... impossible. Her dreams then faded to nothing, leaving her only despair...  Stop it, you are being selfish!  In her public life she always lived by the principle of putting others before herself, the group before the individual. It was not proving so easy with regards to Anakin and herself, but because she loved him, she had to put what was in his best interests ahead of her own desires.  Amidala would never do any less for her subjects or constituents; likewise, Padmé could never do any less for the man she loved.

Once again, she considered her course of action.  Is this the answer?  It was still an unsettling choice, at best; Padmé was proposing they do what she had told Anakin was impossible. But it wasn't impossible, it would just be very difficult. What she truly wanted was impossible. One last time, she thought longingly of all the happy memories of her parents together, and of her sister and Eelin. Chances were, she would not have the same kind of memories with Anakin. A shiver ran up her spine: There will also never be any more memories of me and my mother-in-law, good or bad, she thought with deep sadness. However, she refused to surrender to the past, to dreams that would never be. Clenching her jaw, she made her decision, made her choice. Marriage was the official expression of a bond between two individuals, who declared themselves to be one. But it was also a wall, a boundary. Marriage was not only a reminder to its members to stay together, it was a warning sign for others to keep out. Anakin's calling in the Jedi Order had already formed its own wall around him, one she could not penetrate by marriage. Now, however, she would float freely, still able to envelope Anakin in all her love. No lack of title or declaration of matrimony would break her embrace of him.

She could not be the wife of a Jedi-but she could still be his love. Regardless of the cost, if at the end Anakin was with her, she could live with it.

For a moment, Padmé continued to stare at the entrance. Emotionally exhausted, she then flung herself onto the bed and covered her face with her hands.

--->continue to chapters 8 - end.


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