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Saga - PT Can't Regret What Was Done for Love (Anakin/Padme AU for Mini-Games Challenge)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by devilinthedetails , Nov 8, 2020.

  1. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    Title: Can't Regret What Was Done for Love

    Author: devilinthedetails

    Characters: Anakin Skywalker; Padme Amidala; Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Genre: AU; Romance; Drama.

    Timeline: An AU of ROTS. The AU elements will begin to appear in the second chapter.

    Summary: Neither Anakin, Padme, or Obi-Wan can regret what they do for love.

    Author's Note: This story has been marinating in my mind for months but I am finally getting around to writing it because good ideas never die; they just whirl around in my head for awhile before I can capture them on the page. It is written for the Musical Medley Mini-Challenge from @mavjade. The song I was assigned was the hauntingly beautiful "What I Did for Love" from A Chorus Line. Lyrics from "What I did for Love" appear in italics and parenthesis in this story. Since this story grew in the telling, I am splitting it up into multiple chapters.

    Goodbye and Good Luck Kisses

    (Kiss today goodbye,
    the sweetness and the sorrow.
    Wish me luck;
    the same to you.
    But I can’t regret
    what I did for love.)

    Sitting beside her husband on her balcony garden, Padme stared out at the red sun setting over the traffic and stratosphere-piercing superskytowers of Coruscant. The light of the setting sun reflected orange off the durasteel and viewports of a thousand speeders, air taxis, and air buses congesting the skylanes. It was rush hour—a misnomer as it spanned more than an hour—on Coruscant as the many beings who labored from dawn to dusk in the superskytowers made their way home to their families in their conapts.

    For the millions of commuters making their slow, maddening progress from work to home, it was a time of stress and chaos, but for Padme it was a time of strange, bittersweet peace and quiet. A time for contemplation at the closing of a day before the fall of night. A time of light that danced on the toppling, vibro-blade edge of darkness.

    She remembered kissing her husband goodbye and good luck on this very balcony garden before he flew off to another battle in the seemingly endless war against the Separatists.

    “Wish me luck on the battlefield,” he’d whispered as their lips met for the last time in what promised to be a long while.

    “Wish me luck in the war of words in the Senate,” she’d murmured back before they and their lips parted to wage their separate battles on behalf of the Republic.

    Coming out of her reverie, Padme felt the need to speak to the man beside her.

    “We’re kissing today goodbye with all its sweetness and its sorrows, aren’t we?” Padme tilted her head to peck Anakin on the cheek. “Just like the sun is giving a farewell kiss to another day.”

    “It’s nice to watch the sun set with you, Padme.” Anakin’s words were somehow distant, and he seemed to be gazing out at the sunset without seeing it. Suddenly, his abstracted expression faded, and he turned sharp, keen eyes upon her. “Do you regret becoming a Senator?”

    “Of course not,” Padme replied quickly without needing to think. “I got to serve the people of Naboo and the Republic for years as a Senator. How could I regret even one minute of that?”

    “The same reason I would regret being a Jedi.” Anakin’s eyes flicked down to the bulge of her pregnancy, the physical manifestation of their forbidden love for each other. “Because we don’t have the freedom to have children or be with who we love. Because we can’t build a life together that isn’t shadowed by secrecy, lies, and a shroud of shame.”

    A shroud of shame. Padme felt herself shiver at the phrasing but tried to blame it on the coolness in the air as the sun sank behind a superskytower.

    “I became a Senator because I love Naboo and the Republic.” Padme squeezed Anakin’s hand, trying to be warm and comforting but also firm and unshakeable. How could a woman—a life—contain so many contradictions without collapsing? Padme didn’t know the answer to that. She only knew that she couldn’t collapse. Collapse wasn’t an option for her or for Anakin. They had to be strong for each other and for the Republic that might hate and scorn them if it realized the truth of their love. “How could I regret what I did for love?”

    “I became a Jedi because my mom wanted me to be one.” An old and eternal agony—the separation from his mother—swelled like a bruise in Anakin’s face. “And because Qui-Gon, the man who freed me from slavery, wanted me to become one.”

    Padme could hear the grief hanging heavy in her husband’s tone and tried to respond to it as best she could. “It was your flying that freed you, Anakin. Not Qui-Gon. With or without Qui-Gon, you would have found a way to free yourself.”

    “Would I have?” Anakin sounded uncertain, and it broke Padme’s heart to hear doubt from him who was always so confident on the battlefield and in a cockpit. “Anyway, you could say I became a Jedi for love, and I’ve stayed a Jedi for love too. Because I love Obi-Wan. He’s like a father to me, and I know it would disappoint him—shatter something inside him— if I left the Jedi.”

    Padme could hear the love and the pain coiled inside him. The love and pain that was almost as profound as the love and the pain he felt for her. Maybe, she thought, that was what love was: boundless pain without any hope of relief or end.

    “It would break something inside you too.” Padme gave her husband’s hand another squeeze because she was at a loss for what else she could do to soothe his troubled spirit. “And Obi-Wan loves you back. More than you can see. More than he can see.”

    “What’s the use of love that can’t be seen?” Anakin made a bitter, scoffing noise deep in his throat.

    “It can be felt.” Padme melted into her husband’s side and he wrapped his arms around her as if to shield her from the cold and dark of night. “And it’ll be seen one day.”

    “What makes you so sure of that?” There was a wry twist in Anakin’s voice as he bent to kiss her forehead.

    “Call it a mother’s intuition.” Padme’s eyes twinkled up at Anakin as a purple dusk settled around them.

    “Do you regret becoming a mother?” Anakin reached down to cup her chin between his fingers, his face clouded like a sun hidden behind a gray thunderhead.

    “No.” Padme smiled as she shook her head. “I love you and the unborn child inside me. I’m becoming a mother for love, and how can I regret anything I’m doing for love?”

    Anakin was silent, a furrow in his brow as he considered this.

    Into the silence between them, Padme dared to ask the question that scared her more than any other, “Do you regret becoming a father?”

    “I love you and our child.” Anakin’s palm dipped down to stroke the baby inside her abdomen. “Like you say, how could I regret anything I’m doing for love?”

    Yet, despite their brave and defiant words, Padme felt regret mingled with love and sweetness tainted with sorrow swirling in the purple dusk around them as night rose to engulf Coruscant like a mother’s arms encircling her child in a tight embrace.
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Beautifully detailed and poignant setting and heartfelt conversation full of sweet words but also troubled undertones! =D= I am very happy this is going to be a multi-chaptered story.
  3. mavjade

    mavjade Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 10, 2005
    That's such a good description of it! I grew up listening to the original Broadway cast recording (my mom got to see it on Broadway and loved it) and the movie. But when I finally got to see it in person myself, this song just blows you away with emotion. I really feel like you captured that feeling here, it's haunting and beautiful balance of love and regret at the same time.

    I love this! Such a great use of the lyrics but applying it to Anakin and Padme. Beautiful!

    :_| I love this so much!! I know it's an AU so I don't know how it will go, but thinking of this an canon.... =((
    And I agree with Padme, Obi-wan loves him more than he knows as well.

    Beautiful job!! =D= I'm excited to read the next parts!
  4. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for reading and reviewing!:) I really wanted to paint a vivid picture of the scene of Coruscant at sunset and Padme and Anakin having this conversation so it is wonderful to hear that you found this first chapter so beautifully detailed with a poignant setting and a heartfelt conversation that was filled with sweet words and an undercurrent of trouble. The troubles unfortunately will continue to grow in the next chapter, but I suppose that is what defines the plot of this story: the hints of trouble beneath the sweetness and the love. But there is still hope of sweetness and love winning out of trouble and sorrow in the end no matter how bleak things might appear at times. I'm so glad that you're happy this is a multi-chapter story. It definitely is one that grew in the telling for me and became one that demanded more than one chapter to be told well. I hope that you'll enjoy this chapter as much as you did the first!

    @mavjade Thank you so much for commenting, for providing inspiration for this story, and for introducing me to "What I did for Love." [:D]I'm so pleased that you loved the description I gave for "What I did for Love." I had never heard the song before I got your prompt, but from the very first time I heard it, I was moved by it because there is just so much depth and range of emotion in it. There's that beautiful sense of a love that endures and transcends despite all troubles and obstacles, but there's also an undercurrent of sorrow and regret that underpins the song, because in a way all the declarations of a lack of regret suggest a sort of mourning and regret that is happening on some level. At least that is my interpretation and feeling of the song and it is that tone that I hope I can somewhat capture in my story. So that the story is not only inspired by the lyrics of the song but also the tone and mood of it.

    And I'm so glad you highlighted that passage with Anakin and Padme. I couldn't resist applying that song lyric to Padme and Anakin so it makes me so happy you appreciated that part and found it beautiful!

    One of my favorite parts of the PT--especially AOTC and ROTS--is the tragic sense of the human heart in conflict with itself and I think part of Anakin's conflict in AOTC and ROTS is that he doesn't want to leave the Jedi and disappoint Obi-Wan but at the same time he loves Padme and wants to be able to live openly with her and have a family. And it feels like those two are irreconcilable. Even though this piece is an AU, hopefully there will still be a chance for me to explore some of the feelings and emotional conflicts from canon from slightly different angles to sort of shed light on what we see in canon and take ROTS in a different fashion to show how the story might change if different choices were made at various intersections by our trio of Padme, Obi-Wan, and Anakin. So it makes me so glad that you found yourself thinking of that line in terms of canon in a heartbreaking way.

    My head canon is definitely that Padme is right and Obi-Wan truly does love Anakin more than Anakin or Obi-Wan himself can see. A question for this story might be if Obi-Wan can be made to see how much he loves Obi-Wan before tragedy strikes.

    And I'm so flattered that you thought I did a beautiful job with this chapter and are excited to see the next parts!

    I hope you like this new chapter just as much!:)

    (Look, my eyes are dry.
    The gift was ours to borrow.
    It’s as if we always knew.
    And I won’t forget what I did for love.)

    Confessed Love

    It was a shock when Threepio reported to her that Obi-Wan had come to visit her shortly after a seashell pink dawn began to break over Coruscant. It was even more of a shock to discover that it was Obi-Wan, not the father of her child, with whom she longed to speak. It was Obi-Wan who felt like a sliver of bright hope in blackness. It was Obi-Wan who felt like he could be a solution to her problem. To Anakin’s problem.

    “I could ask him to come back at some more suitable, civilized hour, my lady,” finished Threepio fussily.

    “No.” Padme shook her head, pulling herself out of her reverie. “He’s an old friend, and I won’t turn him away at any hour. Tell him I’ll be out in a few moments, make sure he’s comfortable, and offer him a drink. Juice, flavored water, tea, or caf. It’s too early for anything else.”

    “Much too early for anything else. My lady isn’t even dressed yet.” If Threepio were a human, Padme suspected that his lips would be pursed in disapproval, but, fortunately for her, he wasn’t human. He was a protocol droid programmed for obedience, and obey he did, spinning about awkwardly and disappearing back into the next room.

    Through the wall and closed door, she could hear him inviting Obi-Wan to be seated and asking if Obi-Wan wanted anything to drink from the options she had provided. As she flung open her closet that often felt more of a cavern of dresses, blouses, blazers, and skirts, she could picture how Threepio’s arms would jerk in his usual gestures as he made these polite invitations and inquiries.

    Her beloved Anakin had programmed Threepio well. He was the perfect protocol droid for a senator such as herself though that thought brought a lightning flash of pain with it because it made her wonder just how much longer she would be permitted to serve as Naboo’s senator once it was revealed to a galaxy that believed her to be unwed that she was pregnant. Once the disgrace and scandal was a blazing, lurid headline for every tabloid from the Core to the Outer Rim.

    An expectant mother’s joy wasn’t made to hide behind society’s shame, Padme thought with a sudden, sad burst of defiance. Deliberately, with trembling fingers, she removed a gown from a hanger. It was a simple one made for private discussions in her quarters, not formal addresses to the Senate. It wasn’t a loose, flowing one that sought to conceal with ever-diminishing success the growing bulge of her pregnancy. Instead, it was a tighter style that showed off the shape of her body far more. It was one of her favorite old dresses, not one of the new ones she’d secretly ordered made when she had realized she was pregnant.

    In front of a mirror, she changed into the dress and then brushed her hair. Since her hair was so long and thick, the brushing took awhile before it was truly smooth and shining the way she liked her hair to be—radiant so she could be confident in her beauty, dignity, and grace. When the brushing was done, she twisted some of it back in a silver pin and let the rest ripple past her shoulders free and unencumbered as a waterfall. It was a simple style to match the simplicity of her gown, and her handmaids, who were still sleeping in their own conapts, were not around to arrange it in any more complex fashion.

    Trying to feel as assured as ever in her appearance, she opened the door to the receiving room where Obi-Wan waited for her and entered on knees she hoped he wouldn’t notice were trembling.

    He had been sitting on the sofa, gazing out the viewport at the sunrise bathing the buildings in pastel pinks and purples, when she came in, but turned his eyes to her as she greeted him in a warm voice that thankfully didn’t shake, “Master Kenobi, it’s good to see you again. What can I do for you?”

    Anakin hadn’t wanted her to tell Obi-Wan that she was pregnant, Padme thought as a betraying blush broke across her cheeks. But she wasn’t really telling him, she told herself in an attempt to appease her prickling conscience. She was only wearing a dress, and it was up to him to infer from the rounded shape of her body that she was carrying a child in her womb. It would be his own gaze that told him she was pregnant.

    She saw the widening of Obi-Wan’s eyes—the shock he couldn’t hide—but he replied gallantly enough, standing to bow to her as he did so, “Senator Amidala, it’s always a pleasure to see you.”

    Despite his words of pleasure, Padme was certain she saw dark shadows of sadness lurking beneath his eyes and in the furrows of his forehead.

    Part of her had been worried that after his initial shock at the revelation of her pregnancy, Obi-Wan would slip into diplomatic denial of it—ignoring it and talking about everything else. She needed him to talk about it and not ignore it. She needed him not to turn a blind eye to her and Anakin, but to help them. Even if he yelled at her, judged her, lectured her sternly about how irresponsible she and Anakin had been, or became cold as a cutting gust of wind, she wouldn’t care and would forgive him if he only helped her and Anakin.

    There was only gentleness—no anger, no judgment, no sternness, and no coldness—in his tone as he said gently, “Congratulations on your pregnancy, Padme.”

    Padme felt relief wash over her like a soothing rain at the mildness of his reaction.

    He cleared his throat before continuing, “This is a personal question, and feel free to tell me to go kick rocks, but”—a deep breath before he leapt from the ledge none of them could climb back onto and from which they had all been on the edge of plummeting off into oblivion for years—“is Anakin the father?”

    “Yes.” Padme’s knees were weak and she longed to collapse onto the sofa so they wouldn’t have to support her any longer, but her legs were somehow frozen, her feet stuck to the carpet like ice. “He is.”

    “That’s what I thought.” Obi-Wan returned to the sofa and lifted a glass of juice to his mouth. He sipped and kept the glass cupped in his palm rather than replacing it on the elegantly carved caf table. No doubt, he needed to hold onto something in this life-uprooting conversation. “For years now, I’ve suspected that you and Anakin were together.”

    “We were married on Naboo when he brought me back there after the battle of Geonosis at the beginning of the Clone Wars.” It felt cathartic to make this confession after so many years of secrecy and silence. It unfroze her, allowing her to cross to the couch and sit beside Obi-Wan. “It was a beautiful wedding in the Lake Country with the sunset behind the mountains and the lake glowing golden in the last light of the sun. Only the holy man was there to consecrate the wedding with Artoo and Threepio as witness.”

    She didn’t know why she was saying so much, providing him with so much superfluous detail that could only be an agony to him. It was as if once the truth began to spill from her, it was impossible for her to dam any of it up even if it might have been less painful for him if she had.

    “That sounds very romantic.” Obi-Wan was massaging his temple with the hand that didn’t hold his cup of juice and Padme felt a flicker of guilt—of grief—at giving him a headache. “I turned a blind eye to the relationship between you and Anakin for years. I don’t know if that was the right thing to do—the rest of the Council would not approve—but it seemed the best thing to do for Anakin, for you, for the Jedi. It was, I came to believe, the only way to keep Anakin a Jedi, and the galaxy needs its Chosen One. I sense something terrible would happen if Anakin were to cease to be a Jedi. But now that you are pregnant, I can’t turn a blind eye any longer.”

    “What are you saying, Obi-Wan?” Padme’s mind reeled. Her hands folded protectively over the swelling life in her womb even though Obi-Wan hadn’t threatened it in any way. “Are you saying you’re going to tell the Council about Anakin and me? About my pregnancy?”

    “I must, Padme.” Obi-Wan dipped his chin, face grave but not devoid of compassion. “I cannot keep a secret of this magnitude from my fellow Council members, and it wouldn’t be the best for you and Anakin if I did. You must believe me.”

    “But the Council will never allow Anakin to remain a Jedi if you tell them about us—about how we married and how I’m now pregnant.” Padme wanted to cry at his lack of understanding but found she didn’t have the energy or moisture inside her to do so.

    She had wept out all her tears over the months of her pregnancy and now her eyes were dripped-dry of sorrow. Since she couldn’t cry, she mechanically lifted the glass of juice that Threepo had poured and left on the table for her. It tasted of citrus fruit from a faraway planet much more tropical than Coruscant. The acid of it burned her tongue. Or perhaps that was only grief.

    “Don’t be so sure of that.” Obi-Wan reached out to squeeze her wrist reassuringly, and she didn’t have the strength to pull away from his comforting touch. “There’s more hope than you think that they might relent. Many centuries ago, Jedi were allowed to be married and have children. Much has changed about how the Jedi operate in the Clone Wars. Why not this?”

    She wanted to believe him, so she didn’t argue with him—didn’t provide him with any one of a million reasons why not. She would leave that to Anakin and his anger.

    Oh, Anakin would be so furious and hurt at her that she had told Obi-Wan she was pregnant. He would be outraged and eager to point out that Obi-Wan had marched off to tell the Council everything just as he had predicted. Yet, even knowing how wounded and wrathful her husband would be, Padme couldn’t bring herself to regret admitting everything to Obi-Wan. She had told Obi-Wan that she was pregnant with Anakin’s child out of love for Anakin and the budding life within her womb. As she and Anakin had discussed and discovered on her balcony garden, it was impossible to regret what was done for love.

    “I hope you’re right” was all she could bring herself to say to Obi-Wan through numb lips.

    “I’ll advocate for Anakin and for you with the Council.” Obi-Wan released her wrist. “I came to speak with you today because I had been worried about Anakin these last few days since we arrived on Coruscant. I sensed a change in him—a darkening in his mood and behaviors. Now I know what is worrying him and can help to fix it.”

    “It’s more than just the pregnancy or our marriage.” Padme took another sip, feeling the tang of it bite her throat. “It’s that he’s had nightmares of my dying in childbirth. Nightmares that remind him of the ones that haunted him before his mother’s death.”

    “I must convince him that such nightmares don’t foreshadow the future. You are much too healthy to die in childbirth, Padme.” Obi-Wan rose in a clear sign he was about to take his leave from her. “I was going to fly off to fight General Grevious, but now I see it is much more important that I remain on Coruscant to counsel Anakin. I will guide him through this rough point. I thank you for your trust and insights.”

    Perhaps it was the word trust that made her say even though she knew how much it would hurt this man whom she had already inflicted so much pain on in this single conversation, “I think you should also know that Anakin didn’t want me to tell you that we were married or that I was pregnant.”

    “He didn’t want me to know?” Obi-Wan stared at her as if she—or Anakin—had slapped him in the face. “He didn’t trust me?”

    “It wasn’t about trust.” Padme swallowed a lump ballooning in her throat. “He was just afraid…”

    Words failed her, and she trailed off into silence that could have swallowed the entire universe.

    “Afraid I’d be angry?” Obi-Wan frowned.

    “No.” Padme shook her head, desperately wishing she could find the words to make Obi-Wan understand how much his good opinion—his love—mattered to Anakin. “Afraid that you’d disapprove.”

    “Maybe I would disapprove.” Obi-Wan obviously didn’t understand. “But never so much that I wouldn’t help him. I’ll always help him and you.”

    “Your approval and affection mean more to him than he can say.” Padme hoped that would be clear enough even to the most dispassionate Jedi. “You’re the father he never had.”

    “I thought that was Palpatine.” Obi-Wan was so sardonic it blinded him to the truth of her words. “The one who always assures him that even the most awful things he does and thinks are right and justified. The one who advises him to give into all his baser urges.”

    “Palpatine is his darker father figure, the one who wants to manipulate him and everyone else.” Padme felt a flare of frustration she struggled to contain at Obi-Wan’s sarcasm in this serious moment. “You are his lighter father figure. The one who wants what’s best for him and tries to guide him along the right path.”

    Obi-Wan was quiet for a long moment in which Padme’s heart rabbited in her chest.

    Then, at last he responded, soft and somber, “I will prove worthy of his trust, Padme, and yours. Thank you for telling me this.”

    With a bow, he left her before they had to exchange polite, hollow farewells.

    Padme hoped that the Force would be with him, with the husband she loved, and with the unborn child growing within her. All their lives had been marked and shaped by too much sorrow so far. They deserve some mercy—some transcendent guidance—from the Force to lead them through the blackness of their confusion into a bright, new day of hope.
  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Beautifully candid and genuine conversation. Anakin would understandably expect the Council to enforce the rigid mandates about relationships/attachments. :eek: I hope that Obi-Wan's input and persuasion will be enough [face_worried] And those dreams of a horrific future for Padme ... if one or two details about the future are altered, perhaps that will be enough to change the rest.

    I am so happy Padme was clear about making the distinction between Palpatine's influence and Kenobi's. It's something that needs to be spoken overtly and reinforced as things go along.
  6. mavjade

    mavjade Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 10, 2005
    What a beautiful conversation between Padme and Obi-Wan. I love so much about this, her feelings on having to hide, how Obi-wan just asks because he's pretty sure he already knows the truth, how he says he will advocate for them. And again, how well you use the song!!

    Hahah... then came the mental image of 3PO still his metal self pursing his lips and I about laughed myself off my chair.

    LOVE!! This is such a great description of the two. And now that Obi-wan knows the full truth (or at least most of it), he can help guide Anakin away from the darkness.

    Fantastic update!!
  7. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for commenting!:)I'm so glad that you found this such a beautifully candid and genuine conversation between Obi-Wan and Padme, because watching ROTS, I can't help but think how much of a difference it might have made it Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padme had been able to have a couple more candid conversations. So this story will probably feature some more candid conversations involving those three characters as they work out certain truths about themselves and each other. In a way, I think this story might turn out to be as much about truth as it is about love.

    I can definitely understand how Anakin would expect the Council to enforce rigid mandates about attachments and relationships since that has been their general attitude in the past. We will have to see if Obi-Wan's input and persuasion could be enough to change the Council's mind about this.

    I do like to think that if one or two events had gone differently, Padme wouldn't have died in childbirth, so in this AU, there might still be hope of Padme surviving childbirth. At the very least it is a definitely possibility, but I will say no more for fear of spoiling things...

    I'm so happy that you appreciated the distinction Padme made between Palpatine's influence and Kenobi's because I think it is so important to make that difference between someone who is a positive influence on somebody like Obi-Wan and somebody who uses one's influence in a negative, exploitative way like Palpatine. Palpatine is a predatory sort of pretend mentor out to deceive Anakin, but Obi-Wan is something much more sincere, wanting the best for Anakin even if he sometimes has to be strict with Anakin because of that. And it is something that needs to be explicitly stated by Padme since she has the best eyes for seeing that clearly. Hopefully, she can just get Obi-Wan and Anakin to listen to her wise perspective.

    @mavjade Once again, thank you so much for commenting!:)I'm so glad that you found this to be a beautiful conversation between Obi-Wan and Padme because it was wonderful for me to be able to write a scene of such openness between them where Padme could admit her feelings about having to hide her relationship with Anakin and Obi-Wan just asks outright because he's pretty sure he understands already but just wants that confirmation. And it was really moving for me to write him promising to advocate for them. This song was such a great inspiration to me, and hopefully I can continue to do it justice as I go on with this story because it is a very powerful song.

    C-3PO is always such a comical character that I couldn't resist having some fun at his expense writing him, and it's awesome to hear you got a laugh out of the mental image of metal C-3PO pursing his lips[face_laugh]It just seemed so C-3PO to have him be all uptight about the impropriety of a guest arriving too early in the morning.

    And you highlighted one of my favorite lines in this chapter at the end, so yay! I'm so happy you found that to be such a great description of the two, and now that Obi-Wan does know the full truth, I think he is in a better position to guide Anakin away from a dark path.

    I hope you'll enjoy this update just as much!

    Author’s Note: For this AU, I decided not to have Yoda go on his mission to Kashyyyk because it was easier for the logistics of this story to have him on Coruscant with everyone else, and since this is an AU, I have the power to alter such things. (Gives evil author cackle.)

    Love is never gone.
    As we travel on,
    love’s what we’ll remember.)

    Complicated Loyalties

    Obi-Wan was barely out of Padme’s apartment and into the speeder he had borrowed from the Jedi Temple’s docking bays when he called Master Windu and Master Yoda to request an immediate, private meeting.

    The two most senior members of the Council–one tall and dark, the other short and green–nodded soberly, granting his wish, and Obi-Wan could see the worry, the confusion, etched into each of their features at the urgency he had not been entirely able to mask on his face and in his tone.

    It was still a shock to him that when he asked for such meetings, these great and wise Jedi would make time in their busy schedules to speak with him. A shock that he had such rank–such respect–among the Jedi. That they had named him to the Council at all and listened to his opinions offered with the quiet humility of one who has come to accept years ago that he was not and never would be the special one.

    The special one was his protégé, the Chosen One of the prophecy that was as much a burden to him as it was to Anakin, because maybe he wasn’t the one who had to fulfill the prophecy, but he was the one who had sworn long ago to train the Chosen One until he could achieve his destiny. A promise made to a dying Master and an eager boy who had gazed up at him for hope and comfort. A promise that could not easily be broken and could never be forgotten. A promise to be a mentor and a guide. That was his role, his place in the grand design of the universe. The Force had whispered that to him often in his meditations, and it was reassuring to know that he had a defined position, a clear path laid for him amid the churning cosmos–one that bound him to Anakin into eternity.

    As is from a million kilometers away, Obi-Wan heard himself as he arranged to meet with the two most senior members of the Council in Yoda’s quarters thirty minutes later. That should give him time to travel the few blocks back to the Temple through Coruscant’s perennially congested skylanes.

    Around him, early morning commuters of all species sipped cups of caf, cursing whenever a fellow commuter cut ahead of them in traffic with the blatant disregard for the traffic rules so characteristic of Coruscanti drivers and blaring their horns whenever a wide-eyed tourist stared out a window too long, stunned by the superskytowers shimmering silver into the stratosphere or too lost amid the chaos to identify the right corner at which to turn.

    Letting the hubbub of creative swears uttered in the many languages of the galaxy’s largest, most diverse city and honking horns subside into background noise, Obi-Wan leaned back in his seat and tried to think.

    As he’d taken his leave of Padme, he’d thought that he would report at once to Masters Yoda and Windu what he had discovered this morning. That Padme was pregnant with Anakin’s child. That they had been married in secret at the start of the war beside a beautiful Naboo lake as the sun set.

    However, as he had reached his speeder and switched on the ignition, it had occurred to him that he might refrain from sharing this information with Yoda and Mace Windu for a little while longer. He might speak with Anakin first and urge Anakin to tell the Council the truth himself. The Council would be quicker to accept what Anakin had done–to make accommodations for him and the unique case he had always been since he arrived at the Temple as a nine-year-old instead of an infant or toddler–if he admitted to them himself that he had married Padme and created a child with her. Surely he could persuade Anakin to understand the logic–appreciate the strategy of that–if he addressed the issue with Anakin alone first.

    He was a member of the Council, and still in many ways Anakin’s master and mentor–the being among all the Jedi who could best divine what was in Anakin’s mind and heart. All those capacities granted him authorization and scope for the discretion to not share his information immediately with the rest of the Council. To have his secrets as Anakin had for years. There was no need for him to feel guilty about that. Yet he did feel guilty at the mere thought of keeping anything significant from the Council. Just not as guilty as he would have felt betraying Anakin, his best friend, his brother, his protégé, the closest being he would ever have to a son–to the Council.

    Duty was straightforward until it was divided; loyalty a simple virtue until it was complicated, Obi-Wan mused with a reluctant heart when he determined that he would meet privately with Mace and Yoda but only to insist that he not be the one who hunted down and killed General Grevious after all. To insist that he be permitted to remain on Coruscant with Anakin to guide him through this tumultuous time.

    Half an hour later, returned to the Temple and sitting cross-legged on a leather-topped, circular piece of furniture white as a cloud in Yoda’s quarters, Obi-Wan explained as articulately as he could, struggling to express the unshakeable depths of his conviction in words that could never truly describe what he was thinking or feeling but could only ever be a pale imitation, “I can’t go on this hunt for Grevious, after all. I must remain on Coruscant with Anakin. I sense that he needs my guidance more than ever at this pivotal moment in his life, and I must be here to be his mentor.”

    “Hmm.” Yoda’s ears flattened and his cane stirred as if that might aid his reception of the Force. Not that he ever really required aid in his reception of the Force. “Meditated on this have you? Do this the Force is telling you in no uncertain terms?”

    “I have meditated on my role in Anakin’s life many times over the years, Master,” Obi-Wan answered steadily as possible. “Most recently, the Force has given me to understand that it is more important I be here to guide Anakin on his path than that I hunt down Grevious. Someone else can hunt down Grevious. Nobody else can guide Anakin as I can.”

    “Respect you too much I do to argue with you about what telling you the Force is.” Yoda’s ears twitched as he emitted a long, low sigh. “If telling you to remain here with Anakin the Force is, prevent you from doing so I will not. Counsel you only will I that while trusted always can the Force be, the heart a cunning deceiver is. Forbidden to a Jedi all types of love are because love the shadow of possession is that makes terrible things be done in its name. Caution you must take not to become too attached to your former Padawan.”

    Former Padawan. A subtle inflection on the phrase. A deliberate attempt to minimize the strongest relationship a Jedi could ever have with another. A stab severing a bond–a love?–that couldn’t be broken. Obi-Wan felt his cheeks flame as it became impossible for him to meet the too keen gaze of Yoda’s eyes that could be green and piercing as a lightsaber when he wanted them to be. He wanted them to be now.

    It was a relief when Master Windu demanded sharply, “Who would you suggest we send on this mission instead?”

    “I thought you might go, Master.” Obi-Wan waved a deferential hand at Mace Windu, the warrior renowned among the Jedi for inventing his own lethal style of lightsaber fighting known as Vaapad, which was named in homage to the ruthless predator stalking the jungle of Mace’s homeworld. “Your lightsaber skills are unparalleled among the Jedi.”

    Despite the compliment, Master Windu still scowled as if Obi-Wan had proposed yanking out all his teeth without the benefit of painkillers. “It’ll be too late to change Commander Cody’s orders. He and his men will have to accompany me. Will you let him know I’ll be in charge of the operation instead or should I?”

    “I’ll inform him.” Obi-Wan inclined his head, noting inwardly that he was rather looking forward to the normalcy of a conversation with Cody after this discussion that had felt too much like a wearying debate with Yoda and Mace Windu.

    With a bow and a polite exchange of “May the Force be with you,” Obi-Wan took his leave from the two Masters. His footsteps echoed along the peaceful halls of the Temple with their colonnades and pillars as he walked briskly back to his chambers.

    Once he was engulfed in the sanctuary of his private rooms, Obi-Wan pulled out his comlink, scrolled through his contacts until he found Commander Cody’s number, and hit the dial button.

    Cody, prompt in everything he did, picked up after only a single ring with a clipped military greeting. “Commander Cody here.”

    “It’s General Kenobi.” Obi-Wan wondered why he always addressed Cody so formally–as a soldier instead of a friend–and decided it must be the sheer force of habit. Anything else would make him and Cody uneasy. “There’s been a change in plans. You’re still to hunt Grevious, but I won’t be accompanying you. You’ll be under the command of General Windu instead.”

    Obi-Wan hesitated. Technically, there wasn’t any need to explain the change of command to a subordinate, but information was currency in the Grand Army of the Republic, and explanations were always appreciated. In light of that, he added, “I need to remain on Coruscant. Something’s come up with General Skywalker that I must attend to here.”

    “I see.” Cody’s voice was carefully neutral. “Good luck with whatever’s come up with General Skywalker.”

    “Good hunting.” That should have been the end of the call, but instead Obi-Wan found himself asking, “Have you ever thought about what you would do after the war?”

    What a strange question that was. None of them in the Grand Army of the Republic ever allowed themselves to think about what life would be like after the war. They always focused only on the grim present moment. Never on a future that might be brighter or darker depending on who won the war.

    “Is the war almost over?” Cody’s forehead was furrowing. Obi-Wan could hear it in his tone.

    “It could be.” Obi-Wan shouldn’t be revealing this to any clone trooper but he was. “If you destroy Grevious. Dooku is already dead and gone.”

    “We will destroy Grevious.” Cody’s words reverberated with resolve, which made the hesitancy in his following ones sound all the more uncertain in Obi-Wan’s ears. “I don’t know what I’ll do after the war, General. Maybe train some security guards. I’m not qualified for much else, am I?”

    “You’re qualified for many things, Commander,” Obi-Wan assured him because he believed in Cody ever since he had first seen the clone’s potential as a leader and always would. “Take care.”

    “I will. You too,” Cody said before they clicked off their comlinks, ending the call.

    Next Obi-Wan dialed Anakin’s comlink, which rang five time before passing to Anakin’s recorded voice messaging system: “Hi, this is Anakin Skywalker. I’m not able to pick up, obviously. Voice messages are the worst, so please don’t leave one after the beep. Instead call me back at a better time, fire up a smoke signal for me, or send a message the slow way through the Galactic Mailing System.”

    Obi-Wan rolled his eyes at this latest variation of Anakin’s disdain for voice messages–Anakin had been creating such recorded messages for his comlink since he was at least twelve–and ignored it as he always did. “Hi, Anakin. This is Obi-Wan. I wanted you to know that there’s been a change in plan, and I’ll be remaining on Coruscant. I’d like to talk to you as soon as I can. Call me back when you get this message. Don’t send me a smoke signal or a letter through the Galactic Mailing System. Talk to you soon.”

    Then there was not much else to do but stare at his comlink and hope that Anakin would call him back when he deigned to check his messages.
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    =D= Oh, the subtle divergences begin. :cool:
  9. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Thank you so much for commenting! Yes, the subtle divergences are beginning, and they should continue to grow in this next chapter:)

    Author's Note: Sorry about the delay in posting this chapter. The end of the year was a bit crazy and busy for me, but here is the next chapter up at last!

    (Kiss today goodbye
    And point me toward tomorrow.)

    The Clash between Duty and Freedom

    Anakin heard his comlink ringing as he raced--against time as always--down a long Temple corridor, the sound of his boots echoing against the marble walls and stone floors. Not breaking his stride, he whipped it out of his pocket and checked the frequency of the incoming call, worrying it might be Padme anxious to tell him that she had gone into labor early or miscarried or suffered some other terrible fate that could only happen to pregnant women.

    Glancing at the frequency, he saw the call wasn’t from Padme, thank the Force. It was Obi-Wan probably calling to remind him most unhelpfully that he was running eternally behind the chrono.

    Not in the mood for another one of Obi-Wan’s patented lectures on the value of punctuality as he pelted down the hallway, Anakin ignored the call, letting the comlink ring until it went to his never-checked-and-never-answered voice messaging system. He tuned out the comlink’s ringing as he would the clangor of a red-flashing alarm on a damaged ship he was trying to bring into some sort of controlled crash landing. He was at his best, he thought, when he could cut through the chaos and the noise of the universe to focus on a single, shining thing he had to do at once…

    His comlink had stopped ringing, which meant the call must have finally been picked up by his overflowing voice messaging system instead of him.

    He would never actually listen to the message that was left and just delete it when his comlink began to swamp him with annoying notifications about his full voice messaging system inbox.

    Finally, he reached his destination and knocked on the door to Obi-Wan’s quarters, hoping that Obi-Wan was still in his rooms and hadn’t left for the hangar bay filled with Republic troopers already. If Obi-Wan had, he’d have to try to rush there before Obi-Wan took off, because he did want to say goodbye to his best friend before he left, annoying tendency toward lectures on timeliness aside...Maybe he should’ve picked up his comlink after all…

    Perhaps it would’ve been Obi-Wan telling him useful information about where he was. Oh, well. It wasn’t like Anakin could change the past. He’d learned that the hard way when his mother died, hadn’t he? Not that he liked to think about his mother’s death. It made his heart clench like a fist and his breath lock in his lungs.

    It transpired that Obi-Wan was indeed in his quarters and not at the hangar bay about to depart on his hunt for Grevious.

    “Did you get my message?” Obi-Wan asked by way of greeting as soon as he opened the door. He was never one for small talk and always quick to jump right to business.

    “Of course I didn’t.” Anakin rolled his eyes at the stupidity of the question. Obi-Wan knew his opinion about the inanity of voice messages, or he should have after so many years of fighting together on the front lines. It wasn’t as if an aversion to voice messages was exceptionally difficult to understand, and Anakin had certainly served with beings who had far weirder quirks. Many beings, in fact. Enough to fill a platoon probably. “You know I never check my voice messages, and anyway, I had to hurry to say goodbye to you before you flew off to slice Grevious into spare parts, didn’t I? Speaking of flying off to slice Grevious into spare parts, aren’t you running a bit late for that?”

    It felt good after years of being the man’s Padawan to finally have the satisfaction of flipping the tables on Obi-Wan by scolding him for tardiness.

    “I’m not flying off to slice Grevious into spare parts.” Obi-Wan shook his head in what Anakin initially imagined was an objection to the flippant phrasing but soon discovered was not. “I’m staying on Coruscant.”

    “Oh.” Anakin felt wrong-footed and rather foolish for hurrying to say goodbye to Obi-Wan before he left Coruscant when he wasn’t in actuality leaving Coruscant. “How was I supposed to know that?”

    “By picking up your comlink when I call or listening to your voice messages,” pointed out Obi-Wan tartly. “That was what my call and voice message was about, Anakin.”

    Anakin supposed he had rather blundered into that retort, but he insisted anyway, “You know I never listen to my voice messages. You should’ve shot me up a smoke signal or sent me a letter the slow way by the Galactic Mailing System like my recorded voice messaging system suggests.”

    “I’ll keep that in mind next time.” Obi-Wan’s tone made it crystal clear that he would keep nothing of the sort in mind next time. “To return to the important matter, Master Windu is commanding the operation to defeat Grevious instead.”

    “Master Windu?” Anakin scowled at the mention of the Jedi Master with whom he always seemed to be in conflict. The Jedi Master who seemed most jealous and suspicious of him and his power. “Why is he leading the operation?”

    “Because I asked him to.” Obi-Wan seemed to realize that they were still standing at the threshold of his rooms rather than having this conversation in the comfort and privacy of his quarters. He gestured behind him at two cushioned chairs. “Why don’t you come in, sit down, and we can talk?”

    Anakin obeyed, waiting until he was settled in a seat across from Obi-Wan to pose the question burning at his lips. “Why’d you ask Master Windu to lead the operation when you’re quite capable of leading the operation for yourself?”

    “Because I had a more important duty to attend to on Coruscant.” Obi-Wan was almost irritatingly serene in his chair. He definitely didn’t have nightmares of Padme dying waking him up in the middle of the night or the guilty memories of his mother dying tormenting him when he tried to find peace in meditation. His soul could find rest even during a war unlike Anakin’s, which felt as if it were in perpetual turmoil. “A duty only I could attend to.”

    Well, that was a textbook example of a vague response if ever there was one.

    “I don’t suppose you’re going to enlighten me on what that duty was?” Anakin arched an eyebrow. “On what could possibly be more important than defeating Grevious and ending this entire blasted war because from where I’m sitting nothing could be more important than ending the war.”

    Even as the words left his lips, Anakin knew that they were a lie. From where he was sitting, ending the war wasn’t the most important thing even if it should have been. Saving Padme from the death in childbirth foretold in his terrible dreams was a much higher priority, but Obi-Wan couldn’t know about his haunting visions of Padme dying in childbirth, could he? Not unless Padme had told him. Not unless Padme had gone behind Anakin’s back and betrayed his most secret confidence, his deepest and darkest fear to Obi-Wan without his knowledge and consent. Not unless his best friend and his wife were meeting privately to discuss him…

    And even if Obi-Wan did know about those nightmares, he, being the model of Jedi non-attachment, would never agree that saving Padme’s life should assume a higher priority than ending the war. Nor would he know how to prevent Padme from dying. Obi-Wan hadn’t been able to prevent Qui-Gon from dying before his eyes, after all, a thought that brought another lightsaber stab of bitterness in his chest.

    “I don’t think you need me to enlighten you.” Obi-Wan was if anything more frustratingly enigmatic than ever and the faint smile on his face appeared oddly mocking to Anakin. “I think you might know, deep down, why I have to stay here on Coruscant.”

    “I don’t know any such thing.” Anakin folded his arms, a line of defense against anything Obi-Wan might suspect about his relationship with Padme--against anything Padme might have told him.

    “I have to stay on Coruscant for you, Anakin.” Obi-Wan reached across the space dividing them to clasp Anakin’s wrists, his gentle touch somehow feeling like stun cuffs. “I sense you’re confused and in need of guidance. It’s my duty as your friend and former Master to offer you that guidance, don’t you think?”

    “I think you should be hunting Grevious,” snapped Anakin, twisting out of Obi-Wan’s grip. “I think I’m not more important than all the people who will die if this war doesn’t end. I think ending the war should be your highest priority.”

    “You’re the Chosen One. The one who will bring balance to the Force and destroy the Sith.” Obi-Wan was quiet and insistent as he recited the words of the prophecy Anakin had come to hate with every intensely coiled fiber of his being. The words of destiny that tried to dictate his life. Controlling his future. Forbidding him from loving. Anointing him as the one who should bring balance to a power he still couldn’t fully understand. A prophecy that wouldn’t allow him to be free any more than his nightmares and visions would. A looming fate that threatened to cage and chain him in a galaxy without Padme. “Nothing matters more than you remaining on the path that leads to your destiny. Nothing matters more than you getting the guidance you need to stay on the right path, and it’s my duty to provide that guidance.”

    In that moment, Anakin despised Obi-Wan--and all Jedi and their stupid, cruel prophecies that placed unfair burdens and pressures on him--and something inside him that felt like his sanity or maybe only his temper broke as he shouted, “I’m not the Chosen One destined to bring balance to the Force and destory the Sith or whatever. That’s just the Jedi prophecy that might not be true. That doesn’t have to be true because I might not want to be the Chosen One or even a Jedi any more. I might want to just be me. Just be Anakin. Just be free.”

    Free to love and be married to whom he wanted without any Jedi stricture admonishing him that he couldn’t. Free to keep Padme alive in whatever way he could without any of the limitations the Jedi placed on the Force. Free to have children and raise them without shame or judgment from any self-righteous Jedi.

    Anakin lurched to his feet, needing to be free of Obi-Wan and his guidance. Free of the Jedi Order that would try to govern his life until it ebbed from him as it had from his mother in the Tusken camp.

    “Anakin, what do you mean by that?” Obi-Wan looked aghast, but Anakin didn’t care.

    “I mean exactly what I say!” Everything was a blur to Anakin as he surged toward the door, needing to get out of Obi-Wan’s rooms and away from this discussion swiftly as possible.

    “You can’t mean what you say.” Obi-Wan still looked and sounded as stunned as if a speeder bike had just trampled over him. “Sit down. We have to talk about this. Please.”

    Not even the please could work as an appeal to Anakin because it was just Obi-Wan trying to hold him back--to confine and constrain him--as usual, and Anakin wasn’t willing to be trapped by any Jedi rules or strictures any more.

    “We don’t have to talk about anything if I don’t want to!” Anakin slammed the door shut.

    That was freedom, he tried to assure himself as he stalked down the hallway, feet punishing the floor. Freedom was not having to talk about anything if you didn’t want to. Even if it felt more like resentment. Anger. Loneliness. The crushing despair of the Dark Side. He was free and forging his own path apart from nightmares and visions of death. Apart from the Jedi and their restricting prophecies.
  10. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wow, simply wow. I wasn't expecting that. [face_worried] Yikes, it just feels like Anakin is heading down the wrong road anyway. I.e., not listening to the right people was half of what got him in neck deep poodoo to begin with.

    (You write their interaction and Anakin's rebelliousness brilliantly and also the slice of life factor of letting unwanted messages pile up in voice mail) [face_laugh]
  11. juicepouch

    juicepouch Jedi Padawan star 1

    Dec 13, 2020
    I just read all of this in one sitting and, first of all, it's very poignant and well-written! Especially the Obi-Wan and Padme interaction. I was hoping they could help turn Anakin from the path we're so familiar with, and maybe they will, but not quite in the way we expected
  12. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Fantastically Fiendish Fanfic Manager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 19, 2019
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha As always, thank you so much for commenting!:) I'm so flattered that you felt I wrote the interaction with Anakin's rebelliousness brilliantly and that you enjoy the slice of life factor with the unwanted messages piling up in voicemail. This last chapter caught even me by surprise a bit in terms of how the conversation between Obi-Wan and Anakin developed. I knew Anakin and Obi-Wan would end up having a conversation, but I didn't anticipate exactly how that conversation would play out. Anakin's anger was unexpected for me, but as I was writing the dialogue, that reaction struck me as natural for him, and I had to follow where I thought his character was leading. I do think for Anakin it is very important to listen to the right people (Padme and Obi-Wan) rather than the wrong one (Palpatine). So a big determiner of what happens next will be where he decides to go after this explosive conversation with Obi-Wan. In this upcoming chapter, we will see whom he seeks out after his confrontation with Obi-Wan and how it might shape his choices going forward.

    @juicepouch Thank you so much for your kind words!:) It is such an amazing compliment to hear that you read all of this in one sitting, and that you found it so poignant and well-written. I hope you'll continue to find it poignant and well-written as the story progresses and reaches it climax and then resolution. The Obi-Wan and Padme interaction did warm my heart to write. I think there is still hope that Obi-Wan and Padme might be able to prevent Anakin from going down a Dark path and that Anakin himself still has a chance to choose to go a different direction, but first his Dark Side tendencies have to rear their ugly head and threaten to undo everything...But this next chapter will be important for Anakin and for his future.

    (We did what we had to do.)

    Alone and Angry

    Almost blinded by his rage, Anakin marched to the hangar bay and hopped into a speeder. With much swerving and little regard for the traffic rules of Coruscant which earned him many irate honks and curses from his fellow travelers of the city-planet’s congested lanes, Anakin flew to his wife’s compartment. Determination to confront Padme on her betrayal burned red-hot as a Sith lightsaber in his tight chest. Perhaps this was what a heart attack felt like. He didn’t know. He wasn’t a medic.

    He reached Padme’s quarters and parked his craft on the landing pad outside her quarters. Since he had the security codes to her residence, he could enter her apartment easily.

    Threepio who might have been updating his programming on Miralian etiquette for all Anakin knew or cared bustled over to him with an officious greeting. “Oh, Master Anakin. How wonderful to see you again.”

    “Is Padme here?” Anakin glared around the parlor as if his wife might be lurking unseen behind a curtain, plant, or statue.

    “I’m afraid she is meeting with the esteemed Senators Bail Organa and Mon Mothma.” Threepio’s answer was a lance of bitterness to Anakin. Of course his wife had time for Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, and Obi-Wan, but she wasn’t here when he needed her the most. She had betrayed his secret to Obi-Wan and wasn’t even around to discuss that betrayal with him. “You can leave a message for her with me or wait here”—Threepio gestured at the plush sofas—“in comfort for Senator Amidala’s return.”

    “I’ll wait for her return then.” Anakin glowered at Threepio as if the pompous golden droid were to blame for Padme’s irritating absence.

    “I’ll leave you to wait in peace.” Threepio sounded rather flustered by Anakin’s curtness but Anakin didn’t have the energy to waste on being polite or reassuring to a neurotic protocol droid who was even more uptight about manners than Obi-Wan. “I have important business to attend to elsewhere. Do call if you require my assistance.”

    “You won’t be able to be of assistance unless you can make Padme appear this instant,” snapped Anakin, waving a dismissive hand at the droid, who took that as a cue to beat a hasty retreat from the sitting room.

    He felt a flicker of remorse—quickly extinguished—for being peevish with the droid. It wasn’t Threepio’s fault that Padme had betrayed him to Obi-Wan or that Padme was now meeting with Bail Organa and Mon Mothma instead of in her quarters to account for what she had done. Still, it was true that he didn’t have a use for Threepio. He had only built Threepio so that his mother would have a companion and helper around the house while he was working at Watto’s shop, and when his mother had died, he had bequeathed Threepio to Padme precisely because he had no desire to own a protocol droid of his own. He had given a droid made with his own hands, and Padme had repaid him by sharing his deepest, darkest secret—his marriage and her pregnancy—with Obi-Wan.

    Another lightning flash of fury tore through him as he sank into the couch, clenching his fists. In the cushions where he sat, he could feel a memory warm as flesh and blood. Padme had sat on this sofa, but so too had Obi-Wan. Each of them had left an imprint in the Force as distinct and incriminating as fingerprints at a crime scene for a forensic scientist to discover. They must have been sitting here when Padme spilled his secrets to Obi-Wan behind his back, and they had been—he thought with a surge of spiteful suspicion—sitting very close to one another during this intimate conversation.

    As if the rage and the pain of this betrayal from the two people he should’ve been able to trust most in the galaxy had summoned it, Anakin was hit as though by a battleship by another vision of Padme in labor. Sweat shone on her forehead. Tears glimmered on her cheeks and glistened in her soft brown eyes. Her body trembled with the struggle of breathing and pushing new life from her womb. Even in her agony, she was beautiful.

    She wasn’t alone in her agony. Someone was beside her. Leaning over her as if to comfort her and shield her from harm. Someone’s gentle voice was urging her to hold on. The someone wasn’t him. It was Obi-Wan, and that felt wrong. Wrong as Padme betraying his secrets to Obi-Wan. Wrong as Obi-Wan and Padme conspiring behind his back.

    The haze of his vision fell away from him, and he sat brooding until he heard the door to Padme’s apartment open. He could smell a floral scent clinging to her skin and dress, and he could feel ripples of uncertainty and anxiety radiating from her like the tranquil surface of a pond disturbed by a tossed stone.

    He should have felt sympathy for her distress, but suspicion and anger had made him hard as stone, and he flung a harsh accusation at her as soon as the door shut behind her. “Obi-Wan was here, wasn’t he?”

    “Yes.” Padme’s chin lifted shamelessly. As if she wasn’t guilty of any crime. As if she hadn’t betrayed him to best friend. “He came by this morning to talk.”

    “To talk.” Anakin snorted, all disdain for her duplicity and deception. “You sat very close to each other during this conversation, didn’t you?”

    “What’s that supposed to mean?” Padme stared at him with narrowing eyes. Dangerous eyes.

    “Nothing.” Anakin flicked away her question as if it were a pesky insect. “You say you talked. What about?”

    “About”—Padme faltered for the first time—“about you, Anakin.”

    “About me.” Anakin stared at her with a contempt he hoped seared her to the bone. “I see.”

    “You don’t see or you wouldn’t be looking at me like that.” Padme grasped at his wrist, and he pulled away from her, not wanting to be touched by someone who had snuck behind his back to whisper stories in Obi-Wan’s ear. “He’s worried about you. I had to tell him so he could understand what you’re going through—so he could help you.”

    “He’s not going to help me.” Anakin could feel himself exploding like a grenade. “He’s going to tell the rest of the Council, and the Council will kick me out of the Order before you can say ‘unfair.’”

    “He’s going to support you and advocate for you as he has for years.” Padme’s voice was soothing, but Anakin couldn’t believe her. Not when Obi-Wan hadn’t always believed in Anakin. Not when Obi-Wan had been jealous of Anakin and his powers when they first met. How could Anakin trust someone who had once been jealous of him? It was all so confusing. He felt a migraine coming on and massaged his throbbing temples.

    “You knew I didn’t want to tell him.” Anakin shook his head, wishing that it didn’t scream a protest of this motion at him. “I made that clear to you after my nightmare of you dying in childbirth. We discussed it on the balcony. I should never have trusted a politician to keep my secrets.”

    That sounded like something Obi-Wan would say. Maybe it was even a bit of cynical advice remembered from Obi-Wan’s lectures on corrupt politicians over the years. Of course, he couldn’t trust Obi-Wan any more than he could trust Padme. His aching head might just split into a million pieces at this rate. This distrusting everyone business was exhausting physically and mentally.

    “It’s not just your secret, Anakin. It’s mine too, and I can share it with whomever I want.” Padme cupped his cheek, and this time, Anakin let her touch him because resisting took too much strength that had been sapped from him by his own rage and paranoia. “It also wasn’t your choice alone. It was mine too. I had to act according to my best judgment at the time. My best judgment at the time was to trust Obi-Wan. To believe that he would always want nothing but good things for you. To have faith that he would support and guide you through this rough patch as he has for years.”

    “You don’t regret telling him then?” Anakin felt nothing but bewilderment now that his wrath had burned itself out. “Even though it made me mad?”

    “I’m sorry it made you mad.” Padme patted his cheek. “But I don’t regret telling Obi-Wan. I told Obi-Wan because I love you and believe in my heart that he can help you with the Council. Like I told you before, I can’t regret anything I do for love.”

    “I do love you even when I get mad at you.” Anakin collapsed into her embrace. “And I do love Obi-Wan too. It’s just he’s such a strict stickler for the rules, and he has such high expectations of me that I know I’ll never live up to that it becomes crushing. Stifling. Like being trapped under an airbus. Like I can’t breathe sometimes.”

    “Obi-Wan and I love you too.” Padme kissed his knotted forehead, and he felt the warmth of it in his tortured, tangled heart. “Trust us.”

    “Love is easier than trust.” Anakin made a hoarse attempt at a laugh that sounded as if he had a layer of rust coating his throat. He needed water. Perhaps he should’ve had the foresight to ask Threepio for a glass earlier.

    “I know but you’ve got to trust Obi-Wan and me any way.” Padme gave his forehead another kiss, and he felt calmed and quiet as if a roaring dragon inside him had gone to sleep. “You’ll always feel alone and angry if you don’t.”

    “I don’t want to feel alone and angry.” Anakin had never felt more like a broken slave boy.

    “You won’t.” Padme squeezed his fingers between hers, and he savored the fact that she was solidly there. “Trust Obi-Wan and me to be beside you always, and you won’t have to feel alone and angry any more.”

    The thought—sharp as guilt—came to Anakin that he should apologize to Obi-Wan. For snapping at him. For scaring him. For distrusting him. For pushing him away when he wanted only to help. It would be embarrassing to say he was sorry to Obi-Wan. Only sightly less humiliating than the blowup that necessitated the apology, in fact. Force, did he hate his quick temper and the awkward situations it dumped him into sometimes, no matter how inappropriate in a Jedi that hatred might be.

    Some day, he decided ruefully, he would have to learn to control his temper like Obi-Wan had been telling him to do for years. Not that he planned on sharing that idea with Obi-Wan. It would provoke entirely too much of a smug I-told-you-so reaction from his former Master, and Anakin’s apology would be enough of an ego boost on its own…It was his job to keep Obi-Wan humble. Same as it was apparently Obi-Wan’s to keep him humble.
  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Very natural and a relief! [face_relieved] A sane and affirming discussion.
    devilinthedetails likes this.