@Valairy Scot : I've focused more on Anakin in this story, but the answer to your question is yes, and that's coming. @Lady_Misty : There's more of that as well. Thanks for reading. Chapter 8 “Well, it is done,” Mace Windu said, addressing a coalition of Senators and Jedi in Chancellor Organa’s office. “Ask Aak has filed a petition with the courts to have the Jedi tried for the assassination of Chancellor Palpatine.” “Took him awhile, didn’t it?” Anakin snarked. “Chancellor Organa has been in office for over a month now.” Bail looked amused. “Aak was busy attempting to force the hands of the courts to order a recount. His lust for power outweighed his hatred for the Jedi, at least temporarily. He seems to have moved on to plan B now.” “Or,” Fang Zar said, “this was his plan all along. If he had won the Chancellorship, a Jedi trial might have happened faster for him.” “I would say so,” Organa said. “Unfortunately for him, one seat on the court remains unfilled, and that appointment is mine to make. The evidence is on the side of the Jedi, however, it would be prudent to prepare for hostile cross-examination.” He looked at Anakin. “Master Skywalker and Master Windu will be the star witnesses, along with the clones who carried out Order 66.” “Witness to Lord Sidious’ orders, Viceroy Gunray can,” Yoda said. “Saved hologram transmissions, the Separatists did. Possible, it might be, to make the connection between Palpatine and Lord Sidious, based on these transmissions.” Fang Zar nodded. “Certainly. And those of us on the Delegation of 2000 can testify to his attitude towards our petition.” “I can do the same,” Anakin added. “Master Skywalker, do you know if the meeting that the Delegation of 2000 held with Chancellor Palpatine was recorded?” Mon Mothma asked. Anakin nodded. “It was. He shut off the recording device after you left, after which he tried to accuse you of wanting to seize his power.” “He practically did that while we were still in the meeting,” Padme said bitterly. Mon Mothma looked meaningfully at Padme. “How much longer until the birth?” “About six weeks,” Padme said, shifting in her chair. “I hope to leave for Naboo in four weeks, assuming I do not deliver earlier.” “Ask the twins to stay put as long as possible,” Bail said, smiling at her. “I need you for the debate on taxation and trade. The Trade Federation has submitted a petition to decrease taxation along the Corellian Trade Spine. It has been signed by the Mining Guild and the Commerce Guild as well as a handful of other delegations—essentially, the groups that were drawn to Count Dooku and the Separatists. Their petition has a great deal of merit. However, the war has broken the Treasury. If we decrease taxation along the trade routes, we need to discuss spending cuts and an alternate means of revenue.” “An increase in income taxes will not go over very well right now,” Mon Mothma said. “Individual systems are having to raise taxes to cover war destruction in their own areas.” “When have people ever taken well to a tax increase?” Fang Zar asked. Bail nodded. “Very true.” He looked at Padme. “Are you alright?” He asked, noticing that the heavily pregnant Senator was shifting in her seat again. She nodded. “It’s my back,” she said. “Why didn’t you say something earlier?” Her husband asked. “Because my back always hurts lately, Anakin,” she said. “It’s just worse today, that’s all.” “Why don’t I adjourn this meeting,” Bail said. “I will call a session of Congress next week regarding taxation; I want to allow the Trade Federation and the Commerce Guild to present their petition to the entire Senate delegation.” He looked at Mace and Obi-Wan. “I will submit to the Council any further information I receive on Senator Aak’s efforts to bring the Jedi to trial.” “Thank you, Your Excellency,” Mace said. The group stood; Anakin offered Padme his arm, which she accepted, rising slowly from the plush chair. Jedi and Senators walked towards the door of the Chancellor’s office. “I hope we will soon be able to put Palpatine’s regime and its aftermath behind us. Discussion of taxation, no matter how ugly it may get, will be a welcome return to normal,” Fang Zar said, opening the door for himself and Mon Mothma. “I could not agree more,” Padme said. “Have a good afternoon.” “You as well,” Mon Mothma said. “Get some rest.” “The trial…be over quickly, it will not be,” Yoda said after the Senators left. “Mindful we must be of the Living Force. Oblivious we were before, and arrogant. Our knowledge and wisdom, a liability it became.” “The Dark Side surrounds Senator Aak,” Mace said. “Angry he is,” Yoda said. “But cunning and powerful he is not.” “He is not as dangerous as Palpatine,” Obi-Wan said. “Never has been. Nevertheless, we must…” “Be mindful,” Anakin finished, smiling as his former teacher. Obi-Wan returned the smile. “Yes,” he said. “I will contact you later,” Mace said. “May the Force be with you.” “With you as well, Mace,” Obi-Wan said as the Korun Jedi Master left. Padme suddenly stopped just shy of the door. “Anakin…” she said. Her face was contorted with pain. “Anakin, something is wrong…” Anakin put a hand on her large abdomen. “What is it?” Then he looked down. “Oh no…” Padme had lifted the hem of her dress. Blood was running down her legs, leaving puddles on the carpet. From behind his desk Bail quickly punched a code into his comlink. “This is Chancellor Organa. I need a medical team immediately, in my office.” Anakin carried Padme to a nearby sofa, laid her down, and knelt beside her, taking her hand in his. “Tell me where it hurts,” he said. She had gone pale and tears were leaking from the corners of her eyes. “My back…” She said. “No contractions…just my back.” Bail rushed to Anakin’s side. “A medical team should be here quickly. They said to keep her awake and distracted as much as possible.” “Anakin, do you know how to ease her pain through the Force?” Obi-Wan asked. Anakin shook his head. General Skywalker, the Hero with No Fear, looked as frightened as his Master had ever seen him. “Can you roll onto your side, Padme?” Obi-Wan asked. She nodded and obeyed. Obi-Wan rested his large hands on Padme’s lower back and closed his eyes. Within seconds, Padme’s face visibly relaxed. Obi-Wan looked at Anakin. “I really should have taught you to do that,” he said. “I’m not even sure I can touch the Force right now, Master,” Anakin replied. “Trust in the will of the Force, you must, young one,” Yoda said. “Only in trusting its will, can you reach it at all times.” He rested his hands on Padme’s abdomen and closed his eyes. For seconds which seemed an eternity to Anakin, he said nothing. “Hmmm…the babies…healthy and strong they are,” he finally said. “Very healthy and strong.” At that moment one of Organa’s guards palmed open the door. “Medical droids, sir,” he said. The team entered the office with a stretcher. Anakin lifted Padme onto the stretcher and walked beside it into the lobby, never letting go of her hand. Obi-Wan, Yoda and Bail followed. The speeder ambulance trip to the medical center only took a couple of minutes. Anakin was taken into the medical pod with Padme; her bloodstained dress was removed, she was changed into a hospital gown, and monitors were attached to her abdomen. For a few moments there was no sound other than the humming of the monitors. Padme held Anakin’s hand tightly. Her eyes, which met his, were filled with fear. Finally one of the droids spoke. “We have isolated the problem,” it said. “The placenta of one of the twins is separating from the uterus. Both babies are healthy at the moment, but we must operate quickly.” Anakin and Padme both nodded. “Senator, if you will sit up and lean against Master Skywalker, I will give you an injection in your spine, which will numb you from the chest down.” Padme nodded and obeyed, sitting up and resting her head against Anakin’s chest. He ran his hand over her hair and kissed the top of her head as the droid injected her in the back with a long needle. Anakin laid her gently back down. The droids dropped a curtain at the level of Padme’s chest, disappeared behind it, and began to work. Anakin held Padme’s hand and waited for what seemed an eternity, with no sounds in the room other than the clinking of medical instruments. Finally they heard a cry, and one of the droids emerged, placing a baby in the crook of Anakin’s arm. “A boy,” it said. “Luke,” Padme whispered, reaching to touch the top of his head. Anakin nodded and smiled, holding him closer to his mother. “Yes,” he said. “Luke. Happy birthday, son.” The baby’s blue eyes opened and met his. Another cry, and the droid emerged again, carrying another baby, which he placed in Anakin’s other arm. “A girl,” it said. “Leia,” Padme whispered. The baby girl opened her eyes and looked at her mother. Padme smiled, touched her head, then looked at Anakin. “Ani, we were both right. A boy…and a girl.” He returned the smile. “Funny how well that worked out,” he said, then looked at his children. “You are so…beautiful. Both of you.” Anakin turned to the medical droid. “Is she…” “The Senator will make a full recovery,” it said. “We are stitching her incision right now and we have contained the blood loss.” Anakin leaned over to kiss Padme, his relief palpable. “Are you ready to hold them?” he asked. “Yes,” she said, “but I can’t feel anything below my chest yet.” She smiled at him. “Take them to meet Obi-Wan and Bail and Yoda. You’re ready to show them off. I can tell.” He laughed. “Well, of course…” he said. He kissed her one more time. “I love you,” he said. “I will be back in a few minutes.” Anakin emerged from the pod, a twin in each arm and a wide grin on his face. Obi-Wan, Yoda and Bail stood as the pod door opened, then slid shut. “Everything went well then?” Obi-Wan asked. Anakin nodded, still grinning. “Padme is going to be fine, and look,” he said, gazing at the babies. “I’m a father!” Obi-Wan and Bail nodded. “Congratulations,” Bail said. The three of them gazed at the twins for a moment, then Bail extended his arms. “May we…?” “Of course,” Anakin said, handing him one of the infants. “This one is Leia, and this one,” he said, putting the other twin in Obi-Wan’s arms, “is Luke.” “A Jedi already,” Obi-Wan said, gazing at Luke as the baby reached up for him, seeming to want to grasp the beard. “She’s beautiful,” Bail said, smiling down at Leia. Then he looked at Anakin. “Did the droids determine what caused the bleeding?” Anakin suddenly realized how worried Bail looked. Breha Organa’s efforts to produce an heir to the Alderaani throne had only ended in heartbreak and loss. "They did," Anakin said. “Placental abruption. We were very lucky...” Suddenly his vision blurred from tears he did not know he had been holding back. “Anakin,” Bail said softly. “You should sit down. It’s been a very long day.” He did, and cradled his head as the sobs overtook him. Obi-Wan shifted Luke to his other arm and sat beside Anakin, put an arm around his shoulders. “My…nightmare…Master,” Anakin managed to say. “Didn’t come true,” Obi-Wan finished. “Padme is going to be fine.” “A real vision, the dream might not have been,” Yoda said. The old Jedi Master had not spoken since Anakin emerged from the pod, had merely been observing the scene. “Sidious…sent you the vision, he may have. Promised you, didn’t he, that the power to stop death, he would teach you? Fear is the path to the Dark Side, young one. Wanted you afraid, he did, so that manipulate you, he could.” “But it almost…” Anakin protested. Yoda banged his gimer stick. “Almost matters not!” he said. “Focus on the negative, we must not. Fear every possible outcome, we must not. Keep our concentration on the here and now, we must!” “Here,” Obi-Wan said, handing Luke to Anakin. “…is what matters. Hold your son.” “…and your daughter,” Bail said, approaching Anakin from the other side and placing Leia in the crook of his other arm. Anakin said nothing, just gave his children a watery smile. Yoda approached, laying a hand on each twin’s head and closing his eyes. “Hmmm…” he said. “Yes…strong in the Force, they both are. Very strong in the Force. Powerful Jedi they will be.” Luke glanced in Yoda’s direction, yawned, and closed his eyes. Padme sensed her husband in the room before she saw him. When she opened her eyes, he was gazing at her, smiling, with a baby in each arm. “Hello,” she said. “Hi,” he replied softly, settling the twins on either side of their mother and kissing her forehead. “How are you feeling? Are you in any pain?” She kissed the tops of the twins’ heads then smiled at Anakin. “Not at all,” she said. “A nice injection from the med droids took care of that. As long as I don’t need to operate a speeder for awhile…” Anakin laughed. “No, I don’t think so,” he said. “What about you?” Padme asked. Being careful of Luke nestled at her side, she reached her hand to squeeze Anakin’s flesh hand. “Are you alright? You’ve been crying.” “I got a little shaken up but I’m fine,” he said. “Your nightmare?” She asked. He nodded. “I thought…” She gave his hand another squeeze. “I know,” she said. “I was afraid too.” “Master Yoda thinks that Palpatine sent me the vision in order to turn me.” “He could have,” she said, letting go of Anakin's hand and stroking the babies' heads. “Thankfully that’s over and here we are.” She kissed Luke and Leia again. “You are beautiful,” she said. Luke opened his eyes and gazed at his mother. “Oh, Anakin, he has your eyes,” she said. “And Leia has yours,” Anakin said. “It’s going to be interesting to see who inherits whose temperament,” Padme said. Anakin laughed. “I think we’ll know soon enough,” he said, then added, “Master Yoda says they are both Force-sensitive.” Padme looked at Anakin. “Did that surprise you?” “No,” he said. “You just haven’t decided how you feel about it yet,” she said. “I’m afraid,” Anakin said. “Being a Jedi isn’t exactly what I thought it would be when I was nine.” Padme laughed. “Anakin, almost nothing in life meets the expectations we have as children,” she said. “And being a Jedi…I can’t imagine what you learned on Tatooine. I’m sure the deep space pilots gave you a lofty vision of Jedi superheroes. But even knowing what you know now, wouldn’t you have left Tatooine with Qui-Gon? Do you regret becoming a Jedi?” Anakin sighed. “Yes, I would have left with him, and no, I have no regrets.” He let go of Padme’s hand, ran his finger over each twin’s cheek. “Qui-Gon was right though. It’s a hard life.” Padme smiled. “So is any life that is worth living,” she said. Then she yawned. Anakin kissed her. “You should sleep,” he said. “Your med droid says you can come home tomorrow as long as your incision is healing.” Padme nodded and yawned again. “Good,” she said. “I need to sleep in our bed again.” Her eyelids were drooping. Anakin picked up Luke, then Leia and settled them in the bassinets next to their mother’s bed. Then he kissed Padme’s forehead and said softly. “I know it won’t be overlooking the garden in the Lake Country on Naboo, but I’ll do my best with the nursery before tomorrow. I think the room next to ours will be perfect. It’s relatively quiet…” She opened her eyes, smiled at him, and nodded. “I love you,” she whispered. She closed her eyes and drifted off before Anakin could reply.