Title: Seeds of Love Growing in Dark Soil Author: devilinthedetails Characters: Anakin Skywalker; Padme Amidala; Luke Skywalker Genre: Romance; Drama; Angst. Timeline: Mostly Saga-PT but the last scene is set at the end of ROTJ. Summary: The seeds of Anakin and Padme's love grow in dark soil. Author's Note: Written for OTP Challenge #17 "Our Song." The song I selected was "The Rose" by Bette Midler. Lyrics from "The Rose" appear in parenthesis and italics in this story as a structuring framework. "The Rose" as sang by Bettle Midler can be listened to here. Seeds of Love Growing in Dark Soil (Some say love, it is a river that drowns the tender reed. Some say love, it is a razor that leaves your soul to bleed.) Even after living and training among the Jedi for ten years, Anakin couldn’t comprehend so many of their beliefs and strictures. So many of their rules and philosophies seemed unnatural impositions on the noblest, purest instincts and impulses he had as a breathing human being with an ever-beating heart. Foremost among those impossible to understand prohibitions was the forbidding of love: the most beautiful, the most transcendent, the most painful, and the most selfless emotion Anakin had ever felt. Love for his mother. Love for Padme. Love that had created him. Love that had sustained him. Love that lit the path of his life as he made his way through a dark universe. Love that warmed him, inside and out, on cold nights and in the chilling void of star-studded space. Love that comforted him and steered him away from temptation even as it drew him to it like a flicker-moth to a flame. Love that warned him away from hatred, anger, and rage even as it provoked those same searing passions in his torn, tormented body and soul. Obi-Wan might have thought that Anakin had no desire to understand the Jedi–to do research into their history and teachings–but he did have an insatiable curiosity, a relentless drive to know things– to learn everything. He went to the Archives and found digitalized copies of ancient scrolls. He wouldn’t be able to see the originals. Not without asking the imperious Master Nu for permission and assistance because the original manuscripts could crumble or be otherwise ruined if a person touched them without wearing specially designed gloves, and he wasn’t about to attempt to explain his interest in the ancient Jedi doctrines of love to Master Nu who seemed to feel nothing beyond mild irritation at the ignorant beings who ventured into her scholarly sanctuary of holobooks, holofiles, and databases. In those copies of crumpling scrolls, Anakin was astonished to discover that love hadn’t always been a forbidden fruit among the Jedi. Once it had been allowed and even encouraged because a Force-Sensitive parent was more likely to produce the Force-Sensitive offspring that could perpetuate the Jedi Order. It was centuries into the Jedi’s history before the first rumblings against love appeared in Jedi texts that had no become definitive doctrine when once they would have been only one line of thought, one side of argument in a debate, and truth, Anakin thought, could never be reached without hearing both sides of the argument. Those in favor of love had pointed out its ennobling, healing qualities. Its capacity for self-sacrifice, for mercy, for forgiveness. As he read those words thousands of years after they had been written, Anakin felt connected to the rich Jedi past more than he ever had before. Those words resonated and reverberated inside him, echoing in his ears as he remembered his remark to Padme on the refugee ship transporting them to Naboo that in a way Jedi were encouraged to love because love was compassion. He was even more surprised to discover that those who opposed love made a terrible sense to him as well. Those opposed to love spoke in metaphors with imagery that seemed somehow universal, enduring across time and space, to him. They compared love to a flooding river drowning the tender reeds along its bank or to a sharpened vibrorazor that cut through the core of your being, leaving your heart and soul bleeding. Anakin understood those feelings and those images because they were, in a sense, his own. He drowned in love whenever his eyes met Padme’s and he was lost in their soft, brown gaze. Whenever his lips brushed against hers. Whenever his skin pressed against hers. Whenever their fingers or bodies entwined. Just as surely, grief, the mirror of love, had sliced through him like a vibrorazor when his mother had died in his arms. It was love that had made his heart bleed as he wept over her broken body. It was love that had made his soul feel as if bit of life had been ripped from it as her own life faded to nothing while he watched, helpless to save her. It was love that had made his body burn with an all-consuming wrath that had destroyed the Tusken Raiders, leaving them as another bleeding testimony to the power, the sheer and uncontainable force, of his love. He understood both sides of the love debate, Anakin realized with an insight that shocked and rocked him more than anything else he had ever learned in the Archives. He had felt the nobler, purer aspects of love, but he had also lived and breathed the darker sides of it. He could understand the mercy, the self-sacrifice, the forgiveness proponents of love had emphasized, because he had embraced those traits with his mother and with Padme. Yet he could also comprehend how painful and how destructive love could be. He had seen the carnage of love: how it could leave bodies and souls with bleeding, gaping wounds that could never be healed. The images of those who had opposed love could never have come from those who had never known love and its consequences, Anakin decided, his eyes widening with this revelation that felt as if it could shake the very foundations on which the Jedi Temple was built. Those images, those philosophies could only have been formed from beings who had felt love’s sting for themselves. Tender reeds who had been drowned in a flooding river. Victims of love’s vibrorazor that had left their hearts and souls bleeding. In the ancient Jedi condemnations of love, somehow Anakin found proof that Jedi did love no matter how they might try to stop and deny the forbidden feelings, affirmation that he wasn’t alone in his suffering for love. (Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless, aching need. I say love, it is a flower, and you, it’s only seed.) “Love wasn’t always forbidden among the Jedi, you know,” Anakin murmured to Padme, planting a kiss in her hair as they stood on the patio garden of her Coruscant apartment, staring out at the purple sky of twilight illuminated by the million lights of commuters returning home from long days at stressful offices and advertisements designed to lure greedy consumers into purchasing frivolous items they didn’t need. The glamor, the glitz, and the throbbing greed of Coruscant surrounded them. Once it would have given Anakin a headache. Now, after years spent on the Republic’s capital planet, it only seemed natural to him, a reflection and personification of the chaos and restlessness inside his own being. “I didn’t know that.” Padme glanced at him with some surprise in her eyes. “It was only centuries after the formation of the Jedi Order that the first voices began to speak out against love among the Jedi, but eventually those voices won the debate, silencing all other perspectives.” Anakin smiled at the expression on her face as he wrapped an arm around her waist, drawing her close to him so only thin fabric separated her spine from the pounding heart caged within his chest. “They said love was a river that drowned the tender reed. A vibrorazor that left the heart and the soul bleeding.” “Hmm.” Padme tapped pursed lips with a finger, considering this. “Is that what you believe, my love?” My love. Anakin felt something stirring and snaking inside him at those simple words because of course they weren’t simple words at all. They were life-defining words for both of them and Padme knew it. Had to know it. “No.” Anakin kissed her pursed lips, satisfying the sudden ravenous desire he had for her. Barely breathing between kisses, he struggled to express a coherent thought. “I believe it is a hunger, an endless, aching need.” “Do you need me then?” Padme trailed a gentle finger along his cheek and then his chin. “I’ll always need you.” Anakin brought her finger to his lips and kissed that too. “You’re the woman I love more than any other.” “I need you too.” Padme seemed to melt into him, and Anakin felt his spirit souring inside him. Being with Padme like this was even more wonderful and sublime than flying. “I need you like a flower needs water and air, Anakin. My love for you is a flower, and you’re the only seed of that love.” “I’m the flower and the seed.” Anakin chuckled in tune with a music inside him that nobody else could hear. A music inside him that made him feel as if his soul were dancing. “That makes no sense.” “Metaphors of love don’t have to make sense.” Padme’s laugh was in perfect harmony with the music inside Anakin. “Love doesn’t have to make sense, after all.” Months later, when they stood on the same balcony staring into another, darker Coruscant night after a nightmare of her dying in childbirth had awoken them both, he wondered if perhaps her love of him had produced another seed in the life growing inside her womb. Maybe he was no longer the only seed of her love. (It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance. ) “Would your heart break if I died at war?” Anakin asked, on the eve of his departure to another battle in the Clone Wars that now felt as if it would stretch on into infinity, the question he had never dared to give voice to before. “Would you want it to?” Padme’s palm rested over his heart, and he wondered if she could feel its drum that beat only for her. “Would you want me to stop living–to stop serving the Republic–because you had died?” Anakin both wanted and didn’t want that because he knew that it was a selfish, wrong desire to want her to stop living–to stop serving the Republic because he had died–-and because he knew it would kill her to stop serving the Republic. The day she could no longer serve the Republic, he believed in his blood and bones, would be the day that she died because she would have nothing left to live for as she didn’t live only for him, but for the Republic. She loved the Republic as much as she did him. That should have made him jealous, but it was hard to be jealous of a rival that was an institution he had sworn to serve surely as she had rather than a person he could fight. “That’s a hard question,” he replied at last. “Don’t make me answer it.” “I won’t if you won’t make me answer your hard question.” Padme’s hands fell to clasp around his, leading them down to encircle her waist. “Dance with me.” “I don’t like dancing.” Anakin realized he had lost the argument as Padme’s arms twined around his shoulders and neck. “My feet are clumsy.” “Your feet are not clumsy.” Padme began to sway and he mirrored her motions. “You wouldn’t be so deadly with your lightsaber if your feet were clumsy.” “I’m good at dancing with a lightsaber.” Anakin’s grin hovered somewhere between the rueful and the roguish. “Not so much without it.” (It’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance.) “There used to be oceans on Coruscant,” Padme murmured as they lay in a tangle of shimmersilk sheets after drowning in a sea of their own love for each other. Anakin thought he might have heard the distant ebb and flow of a roaring, white-capped wavescrashing against sand and rock before receding into the ocean again, a small part swallowed by the hunger of a larger whole. “Before the entire planet was built up into one big city of broken dreams.” “Being with you is a dream.” Anakin reached out to touch her–to confirm that she was gloriously real and alive beside him. “A dream from which I never want to wake up. A dream from which I’m forever afraid of waking up.” Dreams always haunted him, he thought. First as a child, he had been dogged by dreams of freeing all the slaves of Tatooine and killing all the master with a gleaming red sword of righteousness or revenge (the line between the two was blurred to him as a boy). Then as a young man tortured by dreams of his mother suffering and dying on Tatooine because he wasn’t there to rescue her as a son should be. “Our lives together aren’t dreams, Anakin.” A furrow appeared in Padme’s brow, marring its beauty. “They’re real. We’re risking everything to be together. We can’t get any more real than that.” “Now you’ve woken me from my dream.” Anakin kissed the furrow from her forehead. “We can add it to all the broken dreams that built Coruscant.” What was Coruscant, after all, Anakin thought, but a trillion beings with broken hearts and broken dreams trying to make themselves whole again like the ocean after its waves shattered against the shore? (It’s the one who won’t be taken that cannot seem to give, and the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.) “Aren’t you afraid of dying in childbirth?” Anakin still couldn’t believe how unfazed, how unshaken Padme had been the night before when he told her about his nightmare, his inescapable vision of her dying in sweaty, tearful labor. “Aren’t you afraid of dying in battle or pulling one of your crazy stunts in a cockpit?” Padme nudged him. “No.” Anakin shook his head, frustrated, because it was never his own death he feared, but the deaths of those he loved more than his own life. “Because I don’t know that I’m going to die. I’m not haunted by visions of my own death, Padme. I’m haunted by visions of yours. Visions I don’t want to come true the way the ones about my mother did.” “You aren’t afraid to die because you know you’d die fighting for a cause you believe in or doing something that you’re passionate about–something that’s meaningful and important to you.” Padme slipped her fingers between his and squeezed. “Having a child is meaningful and important to me, Anakin. If I die bringing new life into the galaxy, I can die fulfilled, knowing I’ll live on in my child. We can’t live afraid of our own deaths. That’s not living at all.” “What about living afraid of the deaths of those we love?” Anakin burst out, and it felt like the eternal question of anyone who had ever loved and lost. “Can we live like that?” “No.” Padme curled her head into the groove between his shoulder and his chin, where his pulse pounded with fear of losing her. “That wouldn’t be living either.” He wanted to listen to her. He wanted to live life in the light of hope as she did, not the shadow of fear as he too often did, but fear, he thought, was the shadow of a love as burning, as bright as theirs. He had to live in the shadow of their love as she lived in the dancing, radiant light of it. That was the balance of their relationship. (When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long, and you think love is only for the lucky and the strong, just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows, lies the seed that with the sun’s love in the spring becomes the rose.) Anakin had been alone in the darkness, a slave to Sidious and the Dark Side when once all he had wanted was to be able to live free with Padme, his love, for so long that he had come to believe that love wasn’t for him. He was doomed to live and to die alone and in darkness. Love was for the lucky, not for an unfortunate who had been born a slave and chosen to become a slave to the Dark Side. Love was for the strong, not the weak who had fallen hook, line, and sinker for the spidery manipulations of Sidious. Love was for those who lived in the light, not for those who were seduced by the dark. Love wasn’t for those who gave into their fears, their angers, and their hatreds as he had. Love wasn’t for those who had suffered as he had. That was before his son, shocked and jolted by the bolts of lightning forking and streaming in static rivers of electricity from Sidious’s fingers, cried out and appealed to him as a father for help, for rescue, for salvation. That was when he saw that love was for the weak and for the sorrowful who could show mercy and grace to one another. The seed of Anakin’s love–the seed that Anakin thought had died long ago with Padme, whom he had killed–had been planted in dark ground and grown out of dark ground to blossom into a beautiful, vibrant flower. That was why Anakin hurled his master who could no longer chain him to the bitter fetters of the Dark Side into the black abyss of the ruin the Death Star would become. That was why he asked Luke to remove the mask that had trapped him in blackness for so many years so that he could look upon his son, his burning flesh and blood fused to Padme’s soul of transcendent lightness, before he died. Luke had believed in his goodness, in some incorruptible light inside him as Padme had, and that was why Anakin assured his son that he had been right all along. There had been an unacknowledged light inside him always that had gone unacknowledged only because he was too afraid to acknowledge it. In Luke’s face, Anakin saw Padme’s, alive again. She and her love–Anakin’s love of her and hers for him–would live on in her son and in memory. As he died, fading into the Force at last, Anakin felt at peace and unafraid of death because he had lived and he had loved, and he had found his longed for eternity in that.